Tuesday, October 27, 2009
As a queen, I know no way to conquer him.
As a women, I may woo him with garlands.
As a widow, I hold back for fear of him.
As a sister, praise for him falls from my lips.
As a wife, my gift to him is my devotion.
He makes me his whore.
He abandons me.
He does not look back.
What can I but rage?
And then, condemn?
At last, dispair.
Sweet motherly Juno,
Who oversaw our union,
I implore you from my pyre,
Grace my with your mercy:
Cut my spirit from my body
So that I may fulfull my dire promise.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
SOUND CUE: SILENT NIGHT sung by Johnny Cash
SOUND CUE: BELL
(SEAN BAKER sits in a solitary 24-hour diner with his back to the door, sipping from a plain white mug. It is Christmas Eve; everyone is with family and friends, asleep or partying. He was not invited. He contemplates his utter lack of companionship as a WAITRESS enters with a fresh pot of coffee.)
WAITRESS: Can I top ya off, hun?
SEAN: (As he offers his mug to her) You’re not gonna kick me out? Don’t you have someplace to go to?
WAITRESS: Why do you think I work this shift every year? There’s always at least one lonely mug to talk to.
SEAN: That would be me, would it?
WAITRESS: That’s the plan.
SEAN: Buzz off, will ya?
WAITRESS: I’ll come back when you’re in a more peace-and-brotherhood mood. (She exits.)
(SEAN sips at his coffee, pulls a face, then takes a deeper draw as HELEN BAKER walks in from behind him. She stands over him for a second, then lays a hand on his shoulder. He doesn’t notice, but after a moment, he shows signs of being uncomfortable. She moves to sit across from him, placing her coat on her chair before she sits down.)
HELEN: Hello, Sean. How have you been?
SEAN: Helen! Jesus, hi! It’s been, what? Five, six years?
HELEN: Six and a half, actually.
SEAN: Wow, that long? Shit… Anyway, I’ve been (hesitates) great, I guess. And you?
HELEN: Oh, ups and downs.
SEAN: Well, an up is an up, right? That’s gotta mean you’re getting somewhere.
HELEN: Slowly. The downs are incredibly draining, and the ups are so… brief.
SEAN: (Suddenly bitter, but trying to mask it with false cheer) It could be worse. Look at me. I mean, it’s Christmas, and what have I got to show for it?
HELEN: (kindly) I’m here.
SEAN: Right, I’m sorry. Look, did you have something you wanted to say?
HELEN: I’m on one of my downs at the moment.
SEAN: Do I look like I can be lending out cash to whoever comes up dry? We’re family and all but I’ve gotta have a place to stay at the end of the day, and that means being careful about who I do business with. I’ve been working my ass off to get in with a legit group of people, and you better believe it wasn’t easy. I could really be going places. Who knows, in a few months I could have a few people reporting to me, before anyone else. Things are looking up in a big way, and I--
HELEN: Damn it Sean I didn’t come here to talk about your business politics or to ask for your money.
SEAN: Oh. Well, spit it out.
HELEN: There’s something else I need your help with. It’s a little complicated, but your part is simple.
SEAN: Alright, give me the short version.
HELEN: You have someplace else to be? (Pause.) Just drink your crappy cup of coffee and hear me out.
(SEAN indicates that she continue, but leaves the mug untouched.)
HELEN: All you need to do… You need to call Mom.
HELEN: Come on-
SEAN: She sent you, didn’t she?
HELEN: It’s not like that—
SEAN: You can’t play me that easy--
HELEN: She’s dying, Sean!
HELEN: You don’t mean that.
SEAN: Everyone dies, Helen.
HELEN: You’re telling me that? We haven’t talked in years, and you never bothered to check up to see how I was or any of it. Not once. What kind of brother are you? For all you know I could have died.
SEAN: Well that obviously didn’t happen. (Pause.) Anyway, what did she ever do for me, huh? I left for a reason.
HELEN: They miss you!
SEAN: And that’s supposed to make a difference, how?
HELEN: You won’t even pay your last respects?
SEAN: I lost my respect for them a long time ago.
HELEN: What have they done to you?
SEAN: It’s what they didn’t do that—
HELEN: Not Mom and Dad, Sean. Them. That new crowd you run with.
SEAN: They made me wise.
HELEN: You’re a fool. You’ve forgotten who your family is.
SEAN: I don’t need them.
HELEN: Look at yourself! Do you consider this healthy living? Are you happy? Answer me that, Sean: are you happy?
SEAN: (Sputtering) Wha—how am I—who are you to ask me if I’m happy?! Miss “I’m in one of my downs, Sean, help me Sean, I need you, Sean.”
HELEN: I don’t need your help, you do! If you’d only help yourself, you wouldn’t need me to remind you of how miserable you are.
SEAN: Well don’t get all self-righteous for my sake.
HELEN: Someone has to. (Pause) Look, I didn’t come here to fight, even though I knew that’s what I would be in for. Mom and Dad didn’t send me, but someone else did.
SEAN: Who? Father Curtis? That old—
HELEN: You honestly believe I would take anything that hypocrite says seriously? He almost destroyed the faith that ended up saving me. Well, that’s the reason I’m here.
SEAN: To restore my faith?
HELEN: To restore my faith in you. Don’t you dare roll your eyes! I had a tough enough time convincing them you were worth their time to throw it all away just because you have an attitude problem.
SEAN: They? What exactly do you do?
HELEN: I’m what you could call a liaison between certain dimensions.
HELEN: I told you it was complicated. Um, oh jeez, how can I put this? No, it would take too long.
SEAN: Bullshit. I want to know what I’m getting myself into.
HELEN: That’s just it: you don’t have to know. You’re not supposed to know.
SEAN: What, I’m not good enough to be in on it?
HELEN: Yes, actually, that’s it exactly.
SEAN: So you’re using me?
HELEN: Would you shut up and listen?
SEAN: I’ve been listening.
HELEN: You’re so wrapped up in your own little world you can’t see past a few foggy months into the future. You say you have plans, but where will they get you? You’ll just end up where you started, just pennies away from living on the street. I take it you’re still a total cokehead?
SEAN: Not so loud!
HELEN: Who’s going to hear? The waitress? I’m still vaguely surprised at our having this conversation. I figured you wouldn’t be able to understand.
SEAN: Why wouldn’t I be able to—oh to Hell with it. (HELEN flinches; SEAN does not appear to notice.) You haven’t given me a straight answer all night, why start now?
HELEN: So are you going to call her?
SEAN: Who? (HELEN starts to speak.) I know I know. And no, I’m not.
HELEN: Why, for heaven’s sake?
SEAN: Give me one good reason why I should. (She hesitates.) Well?
HELEN: (resigning) Give me your hand.
SEAN: (Suspicious) Why?
HELEN: You want a reason, don’t you?
(SEAN gives her his hand across the table. HELEN takes it and studies it, as would a palm-reader. She traces a few lines out, then presses her finger down on a chosen point. His face makes a quick transition from exasperated to horrified. His arm is trapped in its sprawled position on the table, but the rest of him tenses and convulses, his eyes alternatively screwed shut or popping, his teeth bared and clenched tight. When she feels he has had enough, she lets go. He jumps back as soon as he is free, clutching his arm and panting.)
SEAN: What the fuck did you just do?!
HELEN: I just gave you a touch of Hell. That is what lies at the end of the path you have been traveling down for so long, and you don’t even know it. Life is so short, Sean, but there has been plenty of time for second chances. This is your last. If you won’t think of others, think of yourself. For a minute consider the alternative to a pain that never fades, never relents, and never shows mercy.
SEAN: (Obviously very unnerved, but still not willing to give up without a fight) Okay, say I call. What’s in it for you?
HELEN: I get to go home. (Standing to leave) Without you, I can’t. Simple as that.
SEAN: What’s stopping you?
HELEN: There are always souls that need saving. Goodbye Sean. (Exits)
(SEAN sits at table, dumbfounded. He then notices that she left her jacket. He calls after her as WAITRESS enters with coffee pot.)
SEAN: Helen! Your j—damn it.
WAITRESS: What are you hollering about?
SEAN: My sister forgot her jacket. She’s going to be cold out there.
WAITRESS: (refilling his mug) Who?
SEAN: My sister was just here.
WAITRESS: You and I have been the only one’s here for hours.
SEAN: You just didn’t see her.
WAITRESS: I’ve been behind that counter since you walked in. That door has a bell on it; I would have heard it ring. Or can this sister of yours walk through walls?
SEAN: But… (He looks at the jacket in his hands) I swear she was sitting right there.
WAITRESS: You okay, sugar?
SEAN: Yeah… No… I think I’m going to go. (Gets out his wallet and leaves a few bills on the table.)
WAITRESS: You gonna finish that?
SEAN: It’s a little late for caffeine.
WAITRESS: Well my shift doesn’t end until 4. (She downs the rest of the coffee and refills it as SEAN heads for the door.) You take care of yourself, okay hun?
SEAN: Yeah, you too. (Looks at the jacket, continues to walk toward the door, pulling out his cell phone, then looks back.) And Merry Christmas. (Exits)
SOUND CUE: BELL
WAITRESS: (looking after him, slightly surprised) Merry Christmas to you too.
SETTING: PSUEDO-THRONE ROOM
(Scene begins on the signal of one of the servants’ blowing a kazoo in royal trumpet fashion. After she is done, she exits. The DUKE and his WIFE sit in very impressive chairs, but one wouldn’t go so far as to call them thrones. The ADVISOR stands at the DUKE’s other side. With a heavy sigh, the DUKE begins.)
DUKE: I’m so depressed.
WIFE: We know, darling.
DUKE: It’s not even depression at this point. Rather, ennui bordering on insanity.
ADVISOR: Insanity would be more interesting, admittedly.
DUKE: Will someone do something amusing?
ADVISOR: We have tried amusing you, my lord, with frankly unreasonable consequences.
WIFE: (Very proud of herself) I’ve an idea! (She pauses dramatically, looking about at all of them, waiting for someone to say something.)
DUKE: Yes, my dear? (Then a bit testy) What is it?
WIFE: If you must know, I think it would be beneficial to have a contest in your honor, for some one or another, no matter their birth, to bring you some interesting nibble of enjoyment. What do you say to that?
DUKE: A contest? How dreadfully cliché. (Wife pouts.)
ADVISOR: Dreadfully so.
WIFE: But, pumpkin—
DUKE: No! No contests! There will be no such frivolity on my watch!
WIFE: Well, I’ll just send them away, then, shall I?
DUKE: What? They’re already here?
ADVISOR: You did not consult me with this matter?
WIFE: (Again pouty) Well I don’t see why I should have to. (Puppy eyes at Duke)
DUKE: Oh, stop that, do! Stop it now, I say! I cannot bear the puppy eyes! (Inner struggle) Oh, alright, alright!! Send them in, one at a time.
WIFE: (Bubbly) Yes, darling! (She exits)
ADVISOR: My lord, are you are you quite sure this is the best plan of action?
DUKE: No I’m not. But it’s her plan, and it’s more comfortable wrapped around her little finger than sleeping on the couch.
(WIFE reenters with BARD. WIFE flutters back to her place beside her husband, BARD stands confidently in front of the group. DUKE motions to ADVISOR that he shall begin.)
ADVISOR: Well, young man, state your name.
BARD: What good would a name do me, such horrors have I seen!
DUKE: (Aside to WIFE) Doesn’t waste time, does he?
BARD: For I bring you a tale of bloodshed and betrayal, of lechery and lust, of malice and mischief!
ADVISOR: (aside to DUKE) And of dust and dung beetles, I suppose.
BARD: (Visibly shaken, but carries on) I, great sir, will weave circumstances that do not even haunt your darkest nightmares, nor flit through your flightiest fancies.
DUKE: Get on with it!
WIFE: (Reproachfully) Richard!
BARD: Oh, right, sorry. Um, yes, right. There once was a King (Enter KING), who, after years of being alone, wanted to marry, but he was ever so picky—
DUKE: Heard it!
WIFE: Oh, but I haven’t! Do go on. (BARD looks at DUKE, then at WIFE, who waves him on)
BARD: Right. He was ever so picky, until a princess of unearthly beauty came to the castle. (Enter WITCH. Getting back into the story) She was so beautiful, it was enough to curl the hairs below his—(Sharp look from ADVISOR)—Erm, cap. He permitted her to stay the night in the chambers alongside his own, a rare honor. That night, when they were both asleep—
DUKE: This is boring. Where’s the gore?
WIFE: I’m sure he’s getting to it, isn’t that right, pet?
BARD: (Falters for a moment) Oh, yes ma’am. Coming right up. That night—
DUKE: Good. (Harrumphs)
WIFE: (Gently) Go on, dear.
BARD: Right you are. (Back in the swing of things) That night, when the house was asleep, the King, in his dreams, felt a frightful chill creep through his veins, and try as he might, he could not move or speak, or even open his eyes. But in his mind he saw a great serpent wend its way around his body. (During this narrative, the WITCH has gone to the sleeping KING, drawn him up out of bed as in a trance, and wrapped her arms about him. They go on to act out the scene of the following morning.) The next morning, when he told his beloved of this night terror, she put a hand to her mouth, he thought in shock, but truly to hide a devilish smile. She was no princess at all, but a witch, and the King was under her spell.
KING: You will be my queen.
WIFE: Oh how dreadful!
BARD: It was!
DUKE: You saw it, did you?
BARD: (Drawing himself up) I was the king’s personal jester.
DUKE: And this king, he divulged the private visions of his deepest sleep to the court fool?
BARD: He thought it might make good material for the road.
ADVISOR: Oh, I’m sure he did. (DUKE glares at ADVISOR for stealing his thunder, ADVISOR cowers.)
WIFE: What happened next? I want to know how he escaped the witch’s clutches.
BARD: He didn’t.
(The KING and WITCH hang from the waist like puppets.)
BARD: Oh yes, they’ve been married these last 16 years. Got a whole litter of little ones. Happy as clams, the both of them.
WIFE: And that’s how the story ends, is it?
BARD: Well, yes.
DUKE: What a crap story.
BARD: Well there are some redeeming qualities—
ADVISOR: No, I quite agree. Complete crap.
DUKE: You can’t build it up like that and leave at such a dead end.
BARD: But it’s a happy ending! Everyone likes a happy ending.
DUKE: Not at the expense of reason and virtue, dear boy.
WIFE: You don’t have to patronize the child.
DUKE: But he doesn’t know what he’s doing! It should have ended like this: (With all the gusto of a true storyteller; the KING and WITCH right themselves and carry on with the pantomime) One hundred years of this curséd enchantment passed over the kingdom. The king was but a shell of his former self, kept alive, but never truly living, and his queen reigned through him with an iron fist. If there was murmured word of her treachery among the servants, she had the culprit publicly executed as an example.
WIFE: Oh my.
BARD: He’s good.
DUKE: I’m not finished! (Back into story mode) One night, when the queen was out collecting herbs for wicked potions by the light of the full moon, (Enter MOTH) a moth fluttered down and landed on the slumbering king’s shoulder. In the tiniest of voices she whispered:
MOTH: You have been fooled into believing your queen is a good woman, but the beauty on the surface counteracts the evil within. Only you can put an end to this black magic. You know what you must do. (Exit MOTH)
DUKE: The king woke, for the first time, of his own accord. He felt a glimmer of his soul flicker in the bottom of his heart, forgotten after a century of neglect. He formulated a plan, which he began to carry out the next morning at breakfast.
KING: I am out of sorts, my dearest.
WITCH: (Suspicious) Oh?
KING: I’m sure it is for want of the warmth your body gives. If you would spend but this night in my chambers, I would be very well pleased. It has been too long.
DUKE: The queen was put off by this request, for there is no spell that could replace the companionship of another human, so she could not refuse. (KING and WITCH exit) That night, while she slept, the king slit the witch’s throat, and, as he looked on in horror, out of that fatal wound bled forth snakes as black as night, until she withered away, her skin dry and brittle. He let out a sigh of relief, for her felt her grasp on him release. As this breath of air washed over the corpse, the dusty remains flew through the air and out the open window into the night. The witch was never seen again in the kingdom, nor anywhere near. And the king, having regained his youth, lived out the rest of his days in benevolent peace and wisdom. (The DUKE seats himself, exhausted. Stunned silence.)
WIFE: Oh, Richard. That was incredible.
DUKE: (Surprised at himself, even proud) It was, wasn’t it?
ADVISOR: My lord, that was… I can’t find the words.
BARD: This means I lost the contest doesn’t it?
WIFE: Oh, the contest! I had completely forgotten!
DUKE: Send the other hopefuls away. (A better idea) No, wait! Advisor!
ADVISOR: Yes, sir?
DUKE: Organize a banquet in honor of this young man.
DUKE: What is your name?
BARD: It’s William, sir.
DUKE: William has shown me the honor there is to be had in the spinning of tales, the excitement of holding a room at bay by the suspense of a well-placed pause. Yes, m’boy, you have given me a treasure worthy of a celebration.
BARD: Just trying to earn my keep, m’lord, so to speak.
DUKE: You have earned my thanks.
WIFE: Oh, Richard, I haven’t seen you this worked up in years.
DUKE: I have been quite melancholy of late, but no more! (He takes WIFE in his arms) I love you, my dear.
WIFE: (Tittering) Richard, please, not in front of everyone!
ADVISOR: Really, sir, that is a matter best reserved for private affairs.
DUKE: I believe I remember telling you to organize a banquet.
ADVISOR: Yes, m’lord. (He begrudgingly exits.)
DUKE: (Beckoning the BARD) Come, lad. (He uncertainly kneels before the DUKE) No, no, rise. You are learned in the ways of letters, are you not?
BARD: Indeed I am sir.
DUKE: Good, you shall have a place at my table.
WIFE: Things really are going to change. I shall oversee the kitchen.
DUKE: And William and I shall see to the day’s entertainment. Together we shall pen a few pretty tales of fancy for the populace. What do you say, Sir Bard?
BARD: I’d be honored, m’lord!
DUKE: Very well. Let us begin! (Tableau.)
This is just a fun little script developed from a character I created called Little Girl Dragon.
A young dragon with an oversized bow on her head stands upstage center, self consciously holding on to her tail (she also has a pair of fairy wings on that are much too weak to lift her). Two young men (perhaps with backwards ball caps) dribble a basketball on stage. They seem to not notice her. She watches them with a blank expression. [NOTE: Her default expression should be one of pathetic longing.]
MARK: Yo, Tony, did you catch the Kings game last night?!
TONY: Oh man it was awesome dude! That last 3-pointer! (He pretends to shoot ball.)
MARK: Swish! (High five, continue talking silently about “guy stuff”. Little Girl Dragon smiles, joining in on the fun, as)
(A preppy girl and guy enter, carrying schoolbooks. Little Girl Dragon shifts attention.)
CLAIRE: I was thinking that if we pass out flyers in teams during lunch, we could reach a majority of the school population.
DREW: Oh Claire-Bear, I’m so glad I picked you for a running mate. You’re so clever.
CLAIRE: Oh Drew-Boo! (They Eskimo kiss.)
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Sighs with a mix of happiness and longing)
TONY: Did it just get warmer in here?
DREW: Yes, I do believe it did.
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Squeaks, tries to hide behind her tail.)
MARK: (Smells air.) Aww dude! (Fans air around him) That reeks! Nice one!
TONY: Dude, if that was me, I’d’ve told you.
MARK: Hell yeah! (High five)
CLAIRE: Well it still smells awful, like burnt hair and plastic. (Little Girl Dragon shows signs of beginning to cry.)
DREW: Yes, or hot garbage.
MARK: Or, like, extra spicy turd curry!
TONY: Festering wounds!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Wails.) [If this were a cartoon, streams of tears would pour like fountains.]
MARK: Holy shit!
CLAIRE: Oh my god! A monster!
DREW: Do not fear my darling! I shall protect you! Back, beast!
TONY: Dude, give it TicTacs!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Wails again)
MARK: Yo, check the bow. Are you… a girl monster?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods)
CLAIRE: And the wings! Are you a dragon?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods vigorously, smiling now)
DREW: I’ve never read anything about dragons in this region.
TONY: Some dragon. Aren’t you supposed to be, like, as big as a house?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Wilts visibly, lip trembles, whimpers)
CLAIRE: (Comforting) Whatever the size, you’re still a dragon. Can you fly?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods vigorously again, strains to take off, can’t do it, sadly hangs her head.)
MARK: Don’t trip, it’s cool.
TONY: Yo, you got a name?
DREW: Yes, what are we supposed to call you?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Makes a show of thinking very hard. Becomes more pressured when she realizes she doesn’t actually have a name.)
CLAIRE: Oh, don’t worry. We’ll just call you… Little Girl Dragon. How does that sound?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Nods vigorously, smiling big now that she has friends.)
MARK: Little Girl Dragon. Cool.
TONY: Hey, Dragon! Do you watch basketball?
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Looks confused)
TONY: You know, basketball. (He tosses her the ball a little to hard. She catches it, smells it, about to take a bite.)
MARK: No! Bad dragon!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Quickly puts ball down, anxiously rolls it away. During next she nervously fidgets with her tail.)
CLAIRE: Don’t yell at her!
CLAIRE: Isn’t it obvious she’s scared?
DREW: I think she’s more than capable of defending herself!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Puts hands over ears and whimpers)
TONY: Whoa, dudes, chill. She looks like she’s gonna blow again.
CLAIRE: Apologize to her, Mark, quick!
MARK: Uh, there, there, Dragon, I’m sorry I shouted.
TONY: For serious, he totally is.
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Sniffles)
DREW: Alright, I have had enough of this. Come along, darling. (Exits)
MARK: Yeah, I’m out. Come on, dude. (Exits)
TONY: I’ll catch you in a minute.
CLAIRE: It’s okay, Little Girl Dragon, you don’t have to be scared with me.
TONY: Or me. (Gently hands her the basketball.)
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Shocked, looking at ball. Puts it down, gives Tony a big hug.)
TONY: Okay, okay! Let me breathe!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Quickly lets go)
TONY: Well, it was nice meetin’ ya! We’ll shoot some hoops some time. (Exits same way as Mark.)
CLAIRE: I have to get going, too. Here. (Takes out a campaign flyer, writes something on it.) That’s my Twitter page. Follow me!
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Takes paper, overjoyed.)
CLAIRE: Well, I’ll be seeing you. (Starts to leave.) Oh, I like your bow. Bye! (Exits same way as Drew.)
LITTLE GIRL DRAGON: (Looks at basketball in one hand, and flyer in the other. Takes a nibble off the corner of the paper, then hugs them both tight, smiling from ear to ear.)