Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Rough Creatures: A Play for Advent, Part 4

"Rough Creatures" was written between 2002 and 2005 - I don't really remember the exact date. I just recall trying to get it ready for rehearsals, and then being unable to launch the production due to casting difficulties. Feel free to use it however you can - it's in fragments, but I think the pieces add up to something usable, or at the very least, intelligible.

Another time, another place. It is a land ravaged by perpetual winter; no one can recall how the winter began, if it was by the weapons of power which the world’s leaders had forged, or if it were an act of God, a meteor striking the earth and forcing everything underground. With time, small settlements have grown up under the ice and snow as Life finds a way through the grey death. Gamin Sanctuary is one such settlement, built within the basement levels of some once-great building. Nestled at the edge of the settlement, in all that remains above ground is the Inn, a place for travelers’ mad enough to traverse the ice wastes to stop, and for denizens of Gamin Sanctuary to come for a drink, a game of cards or stones, or more intimate pursuits.  


The Abbess – a strong, mature middle-aged woman who runs the Inn.
Tinker – a man of unknown age (older than mid-20’s) who roams the ice wasteland looking for items of value to trade
Simeon – a older Jewish man who lives at the Inn, hoping for the coming of the Messiah.
Rachel – Simeon’s eldest daughter – a whore
Sarah – Simeon’s younger daughter – a whore
Fen, the Matchstick Girl – the Abbess’ ‘daughter’.
Anno – The Abess’ husband
Woman – a traveler who comes upon the Inn in labor
Man – a traveler, the Woman’s companion

Act 3

Scene 1

(It has been a month since Tinker left to lead the renovation crew to the fabulous underground city. The Inn is ‘filled’ with customers. The sounds of a sizeable crowd, eating, drinking and enjoying themselves can be heard. ABBESS is at the bar, pouring a tray of drinks for ESTHER.)

ESTHER:         How did you manage to have enough food and drink for all these people?

ABBESS:         It helps that most of them are eating part of what they paid. A lot of people are slaughtering most of their chickens and goats, rather than transporting all of them. 

ESTHER:         It’s so exciting! Tomorrow is the beginning of a new life for me!

ABBESS:         So it would seem. I saw you talking to that tall dark haired boy from the Southtown group.

ESTHER:         (Playing stupid.) So?

ABBESS:         Come on now Esther, I’ve seen you soliciting customers a thousand times. I’ve never seen you laughing like you were a new bride to be, just courting. Tell me what he said.

ESTHER:         Well, it was his mother took a shine to me first, said I was the healthiest looking thing she’d seen in years, and told her son he should ask me to dance.

ABBESS:         So why aren’t you dancing.

ESTHER:         I told him I couldn’t, since I was working, and he said I was far too fine to be serving drinks. He told me I ought to have someone serving me drinks.

ABBESS:         A real smooth talker.

ESTHER:         He seems very nice. And he doesn’t even know what I do…

ABBESS:         And he never needs to. You’re leaving for a new life. You can be whoever you want. And that includes deciding to dance with a young man when he asks. Now don’t be stupid. Go on and dance with him. I’ll get Anno to serve the drinks.

ESTHER:         Thank you Abbess.

ABBESS:         You thank me when he asks you to marry him.

(ESTHER takes off her apron and runs out into the crowd. ANNO strides over, wiping his brow, and putting down an empty tray.)

ANNO:            Heat! We’re full to bursting! Where are we going to put everyone?

ABBESS:         Who cares? They’ll sleep on the floor before they’ll try building a shelter! So long as they pay!

ANNO:            Oh, they’re paying! I had a man give me a rifle for a meal and the night! Says he won’t need it at the city.

ABBESS:         The damn fools. If anything, he’ll have greater need for that gun where they’re headed. More people always leads to more fighting.

SIMEON:        Have you ever seen so many smiles? Heard so much laughter? And both my girls are dancing with fine, young men headed for the City!

ABBESS:         I saw that. Handsome ones too.

SIMEON:        It is truly Jubilee! Have you two decided what you are going to do yet?

ANNO:            We’re undecided—

ABBESS:         We’re staying.

(SIMEON shakes his head. TINKER strides over, a bottle of whiskey in his hand. He is obviously drunk.)

TINKER:         A fine party Abbess! One last hurrah before we’re all off to the city!

SIMEON:        Not all of us.

TINKER:         Still got your heels dug in, hey Abbess? Well, that’s fine. You don’t need to worry about me. I won’t bother you or Fen anymore. I think I’ll be too busy in my new role as Advisor to the Headmen to really be a very good father anyhow.

ABBESS:         (Cold.) Well, that’s one more reason not to move to the new City.

TINKER:         What’s that?

ABBESS:         Congratulations. You have all the makings of a fine politician.
TINKER:         How very kind Abbess! (He nods to Anno.) I must go and continue lifting the spirits of the pilgrims!

ABBESS:         Pilgrims. You’d think he was the bloody Messiah.

SIMEON:        He has brought hope.

ANNO:            Don’t get her started.

(FEN comes running down the stairs.)

FEN:                Mama! Come quick! There are people at the door! A man and a lady! And the lady--

ABBESS:         Tell them we’re full! They’ll have to build a shelter! We’ve got no more room!

FEN:                But mama! The lady’s gonna have a baby!

ABBESS:         Heat! Of all the bad timing in the world—how ready is she Fen?

FEN:                Really ready.

ABBESS:         Well, bring them down. Take them to my room. Anno, start heating water. Simeon, go get your girls. I’ll need their help likely.

(ABBESS moves offstage in the direction of the kitchen. SIMEON walks towards his daughters, while FEN runs up the stairs to let the visitors in. Lights Fade Down. Music plays, a bittersweet melody.)

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