Friday, December 30, 2011

Rough Creatures - A Play for Advent, Scene 7

"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.  



CAST

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 5


(LIGHTS UP on SIMEON and ESTHER playing chess; ABBESS is holding the child in her arms, cooing and rocking her. RACHEL looks at the child over ABBESS’ shoulder. FEN sits at the table, playing with the nativity figures.)

RACHEL:        Can I hold her now?

ABBESS:         You’ll have plenty of time for holding this baby when Anno gets you to the city.

RACHEL:        You’re sure you won’t come?

ABBESS:         We’ve been through this too many times already. Just let it be Rachel.

ESTHER:         Well, it is kind of you and Anno to help us to get there.

ABBESS:         It’s not too much trouble. Most of your luggage went with your fianc├ęs (she raises her eyebrows suggestively at this word) so taking what you have left with the dogs isn’t too much work. Besides, a blind man could find his way to the new city with the trail all those people left behind.

ESTHER:         Checkmate.

SIMEON:        You’ve been practicing! You were never this good when I was teaching you. Who have you been playing against? (He looks accusingly at RACHEL who shrugs her shoulders. FEN giggles and sort of hides in her Christmas book. SIMEON pulls down the cover.) I should’ve known! A conspiracy! (He stands up and walks over to ABBESS and the child.) Aren’t you beautiful. You are the hope of all the people who have gone onto the city. You are the one they are talking about—the first new child of the City of God!

ABBESS:         But she wasn’t born in the New City. She was born here, in my inn.

SIMEON:        That’s true, but who wants to believe the first child born after the plague was born in an inn?

FEN:                Just like baby Jesus.

SIMEON:        What?

FEN:                Jesus--the baby in the story. He wasn’t even born in an inn, just a shelter, where the animals were kept. And he was the Messiah.

SIMEON:        I’ve told you already Fen, that story is not from the Torah—

FEN:                I think it’s true all the same.

SIMEON:        The Messiah is a king, not the son of a peasant girl.

FEN:                Moses was really the son of a slave—and he rescued the people from being slaves.

SIMEON:        Yes but that’s different.

ABBESS:         How?

SIMEON:        Because it’s different. I don’t know how.

ABBESS:         Well, someone once told me that sometimes life isn’t what we see, it’s what we believe. Well, sometimes life is just what we see. And today I saw hope born here in this Inn. Not in your magical City. And isn’t that what the Messiah was to bring? Hope? Light in the darkness?

SIMEON:        “From the lips of children—you have ordained praise.” Let me not be too set in my ways oh Lord. (He looks at FEN.) You are right Fen. All these years you have listened to me, and in the end saw what I could not. And what is good enough for Messiah is good enough for this little one.
   
RACHEL:        She needs a name.

ABBESS:         Hope.

RACHEL:        Not the name I’d have expected coming from you Abbess.

ABBESS:         Well I’m full of surprises today.

(ANNO enters with several packs and lugs them toward the stairs.)

SIMEON:        Where are you off to?

(ANNO looks at SIMEON, confused. Then he looks to ABBESS for an explanation.)

ABBESS:         I hadn’t told them yet.

RACHEL:        Told us what?

ANNO:            We’re going to the City with you.

(ESTHER and RACHEL give excited squeals and hug ABBESS. SIMEON smiles.)

ESTHER:         So you were lying!

ABBESS:         Not entirely—Anno is holding me to going, like I asked him. But I still have one foot stuck in the door here.

RACHEL:        What made you change your mind?

ABBESS:         Hope.

RACHEL:        Abbess, I told you I’d take good care…

ABBESS:         Not the baby. I started hoping for…something else, anything else, more than just surviving.

ANNO:            And if you all knew how difficult it was for her to say that…

ABBESS:         Get on with your packing! We’ve got a fair bit more to load on the sled.

ANNO:            Come give me a hand, Fen?

FEN:                Sure.

(ANNO heads up the stairs while FEN gets up from the table and heads for the landing. ANNO opens the door to the outside from offstage, and a bright light shines down on FEN. She screams.)

ABBESS:         Fen! Are you all right?

FEN:                (shielding her eyes) What is it?

ABBESS:         I don’t know. Anno! Anno!

ANNO:            (offstage) I’m all right! (Footsteps on the stairs, Anno reenters onto the landing) You’ll never believe it…the clouds have broken.

ABBESS:         My God…

FEN:                What does that mean mama?

ABBESS:         It means that light…it’s the sun. (She looks down at the baby cradled in her arms.) You really did make it to see the dawn.

ANNO:            It’s sitting in the sky over top of the line of tracks the people left going to the City. You can see them all, but it’s so bright…the snow, it’s all so bright. It’s like the whole world’s turned pure white.

SIMEON:        “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”

FEN:                The sun is in the direction of the city?

ANNO:            Yes, to the West.

FEN:                Bethlehem. We’re going to Bethlehem.

(LIGHTS DOWN.) 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rough Creatures: A Play for Advent, Scene 6

"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.  



CAST

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 5


(LIGHTS UP. The room is empty. The chessboard is abandoned, the game not complete. SIMEON and RACHEL must have given up on the game. ABBESS enters from the kitchen, holding the baby in her arms, singing a lullaby. ANNO enters from the landing, takes off his jacket and pours himself some coffee. He sits down at the table.)

ANNO:            How is she?

ABBESS:         A healthy baby girl from what I’ve seen so far. I think she’s going to make it.

ANNO:            Last night you didn’t seem so sure.

ABBESS:         Last night I didn’t have any hope. (She is looking at ANNO, her eyes smiling. ANNO realizes the change, and that he was part of it.)

ANNO:            I’m sorry I was so harsh.

ABBESS:         No, I needed it. You know it takes a sharp pick to cut through hard ice.

ANNO:            You were pretty hard.

ABBESS:         I was pretty icy.

ANNO:            Nothing like a new baby to bring a thaw.

ABBESS:         Especially this one. She’s going to be fine, (looks at sleeping child) aren’t you?

ANNO:            And what if she isn’t?

ABBESS:         Then we’ll have to hope the next one is.

ANNO:            Are you just saying that?

ABBESS:         Yes…and no. I’m not too good at this hope thing Anno, we’ll have to take it all one step at a time. But I sure want her to live. Only now I understand that I don’t have to die a little bit every time one of these little ones doesn’t make it.

ANNO:            I forgot to ask—the father, will he be taking care of her?

ABBESS:         That boy who came with the girl? Not her husband. He lived in the same settlement as her. She got left behind because she was a whore. I guess Southtown got self-righteous when they headed for the new city.

ANNO:            The new city’ll have whores. All places do.

ABBESS:         You and I know that, but you know people. Especially when they’re moving to the ‘city of God.’

ANNO:            So she’s got no family at all.

ABBESS:         She has us. Rachel mentioned last night she wouldn’t mind taking her as her own, seeing as she’s been unable to have a baby herself.

ANNO:            Rachel’s going to the city with that young man she met.

ABBESS:         She is.

ANNO:            That baby won’t be ready to go for at least a month or two.

ABBESS:         Suits me fine. I wouldn’t want to help set everything up anyhow.

ANNO:            I’m not sure that would bother Rachel much; she’s never been afraid of hard work, all I’m saying is—

ABBESS:         I’m not talking about Rachel. I’m talking about me.

ANNO:            But you said we weren’t going—

ABBESS:         I know what I said. Now you listen to what I’m saying.

ANNO:            I’ll never understand you, ‘Bess.

ABBESS:         You don’t have to understand me Anno. Just love me. And help me do this. I’ll need your help, your strength.

ANNO:            I always thought you were the strong one.

ABBESS:         No, I’m just the loud one. It’s you I lean on for support.

ANNO:            I don’t know what you want me to do.

ABBESS:         Hold me to this decision. Help me make the journey. And just love me.

ANNO:            That I can do…has that child been fed?

ABBESS:         She has.

ANNO:            Then let’s lay her down for a rest, and I’ll thaw you out some more.

(ABBESS smiles as ANNO places his arm around her and they walk to the kitchen exit. LIGHTS DOWN.)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rough Creatures: A Play for Advent, Part 5

"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.  



CAST

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 3


(The music begins to fade out, and the Lights Fade Up. ANNO stands at the bar, putting things away. ABBESS enters, looking tired and sweaty. The Inn is quiet, and there are a few PATRONS lying about  on the floor, sleeping. ABBESS steps over them. )

ANNO:            How is she?


ABBESS:         (shaking her head) She wasn’t strong enough to bear the baby and live.

ANNO:            And the baby?

ABBESS:         Alive…for now. But we’ll see. If the child sees the dawn…why the hell do we keep calling it dawn? No one’s seen the Sun for over a hundred years. Might as well call everything night.

ANNO:            Hope, ‘Bess. Hope.

ABBESS:         My hope died with that girl Anno. This whole lunacy of going to Tinker’s City of God…all these people are doing is trading real estate. Two generations and we’ll all be dead.

ANNO:            Maybe they’re healthy babies being born somewhere else in the world.

ABBESS:         Yeah, same place Simeon’s Messiah is living no doubt.

ANNO:            (After a silence) What if the baby lives?

ABBESS:         Hm? What do you mean?

ANNO:            Well, if the baby lives, will you have hope?

ABBESS:         What the hell are you talking about Anno?

ANNO:            I’m talking about you. About us. About everything. Hope isn’t something someone gives you Abbess. It’s something you grab for yourself. If you get everything given to you, then that’s not hope anymore. It’s just life.

ABBESS:         You’re trying to talk about things over your head Anno.

ANNO:            No I’m not! I’m talking about what I see, and what I know. Look, if you say you’ll only have hope when the sun shows it’s face, then you will never really hope. Because once the sun’s there, you can’t hope for it to be there. It already is.

ABBESS:         You’re confusing me. I’m too tired to talk about this.

ANNO:            Dammit Abbess, this is important! I’m saying if you don’t have hope now, you never will! You’ll always be hoping for something else! If the baby lives today, you’ll say you won’t have hope until she grows up! And when she grows up, you’ll say you won’t have hope until she finds a husband! And then it’ll be children! And so on! You have to hope today!

ABBESS:         Why Anno, what good does it do? Will that baby live just because I hope she will? Will it bring the sun out if I just hope it does? What will it change?

ANNO:            You. It’ll change you, ‘Bess.

(ANNO walks out. ABBESS stands, stunned that her husband has spoken with such thoughtfulness and passion. SIMEON enters from the kitchen area.)

SIMEON:        I heard shouting. Is everything all right?

 

ABBESS:         Anno was bringing my attention to some things I’ve been overlooking around the Inn.

 

SIMEON:        Strange timing. What was so urgent?

 

ABBESS:         Hope.


(Simeon looks perplexed. He is uncertain of what to say. ABBESS goes to the bar, gets down a bottle of whiskey and pours herself a shot. FEN enters, bleary eyed.)

ABBESS:         What are you doing out of bed?

FEN:                Papa came to say goodnight to me and woke me up when he kissed me—gave me whisker burn.  So I came down to find out how the lady and her baby are.

ABBESS:         (Pouring another shot.) The baby is doing pretty good so far sweetheart.

FEN:                Is it a girl?

ABBESS:         It is. What do you have against boys?

FEN:                Nothing. I just would rather have a girl to play with. I’ve seen how the boys play with Rachel and Esther…yuck.

ABBESS:         Well, it won’t always seem ‘yuck’ to you, but I’ll thank God for everyday it does.

FEN:                How is the baby’s mama?

ABBESS:         She died, Fen.

FEN:                Just like my mama.

ABBESS:         Just like your mama.

(There is a silence.)

FEN:                Where do they go?

ABBESS:         Who?

FEN:                The people—when they die?

ABBESS:         Well, we bury the body out in the ice…you know that.

FEN:                Where’s the rest of them--the part that talks and laughs?

ABBESS:         Well, my mama used to say that part—our spirit, flew up above the clouds to where the sun is.

FEN:                Is that true?

ABBESS:         Well, I sure hope—(realizing what she’s said, and what it means)—I sure hope so Fen.

FEN:                I wonder what the sun looks like.

SIMEON:        Well, my father told me the sun is a star, so it would look like the star in the book Tinker brought you I would guess.

FEN:                Really?  If that’s where we go, then why don’t we all just go to sleep and die so we can go there too?

SIMEON:        (thinks for a moment) Well, if we all went off and died, who’d be around to change diapers on all the new babies? Or teach little girls to read?

FEN:                That’s true.

ABBESS:         Enough questions. Back to bed with you. I have to go relieve Rachel. She’s been watching the baby.

FEN:                Simeon can watch me—

ABBESS:         I said to bed.

FEN:                All right.

ABBESS:         (Gives FEN a kiss on the cheek.) Goodnight sweetheart.

FEN:                Goodnight. (She turns to SIMEON) Good night, Simeon.

(SIMEON blows her a kiss. FEN catches it and puts it in her pocket, then exits up the stairs.)

ABBESS:         Thank you.

SIMEON:        For what?

ABBESS:         For not correcting me when I told Fen where we go when we die.

SIMEON:        Didn’t seem to need correcting.

ABBESS:         That’s not what you believe, is it Simeon?

SIMEON:        I didn’t believe in a lot of things before Tinker told us about the city. I talked to you about hope a lot Abbess. I didn’t realize how little I had until tonight, when got what I’d been hoping for.

ABBESS:         The girls?

(SIMEON nods.)

SIMEON:        If I’d really had hope for them, I’d have had faith in them, in their decisions. That God was watching out for them when I wasn’t. And now—how do I become part of their lives again?

ABBESS:         That’s what Anno was saying to me. That I say I’ll have hope when something happens, that I really don’t have hope at all.

SIMEON:        Wise man.

ABBESS:         I need to go spell Rachel off from watching the baby.

SIMEON:        Do you think she’ll live?

ABBESS:         I hope so. (She smiles.) I guess it does change you.

SIMEON:        What was that?

ABBESS:         Nothing. Get some sleep Simeon.

SIMEON:        Soon.

(She waves as she goes. SIMEON gives her a half-hearted response, and goes to the table. He stares at the chess board. RACHEL enters, looking very tired.)

SIMEON:        Rachel.

RACHEL:        Simeon.

SIMEON:        How is the child?

RACHEL:        Sleeping. Just like I’ll be doing soon.

(RACHEL heads for the stairs. SIMEON is obviously in some turmoil. As she reaches the stairs, he speaks up.)

SIMEON:        Do you want to play some chess?

RACHEL:        (Turns to face SIMEON, a look of slight shock on her face.) So now I’m good enough to play chess with? Now that I have a man who wants to marry me? Is that it?

SIMEON:        No—no…that’s not it.

RACHEL:        Well if that’s not what it is, then what is it? What’s changed? Two weeks ago I was just a whore, not worth talking to. Now I’m your daughter again. What’s different Simeon?

SIMEON:        Do you remember the story of  Hosea?

RACHEL:        Of course. Didn’t you know? It’s every whore’s favorite book of the Tanakh. (she smirks.)

SIMEON:        On my lips I always called you Rachel.  But in my heart I called you Lo-Ruhamah…not my loved one. But tonight, when I saw that woman dying while she was giving birth, I looked away and saw you standing beside her, being so strong, so confident, helping Abbess. And I didn’t see a—a whore. I just saw my little girl. And I wanted to tell you that, but I didn’t know how I could after everything I’ve said, and the way I’ve treated you since your mother died.  I’ve not been a good father.

RACHEL:        You’ve been a terrible father.

SIMEON:        I just said that! This isn’t easy you know.

RACHEL:        I read that story over and over--Hosea. And I pray to God to bring a man who would be like Hosea, and marry me, even if he knew all the choices I made. But I always said, “It’s impossible. Not even my own father loves me—how could any other man?”

SIMEON:        You father was a foolish man.

RACHEL:        And that’s different now?

SIMEON:        (quoting) I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.' " Please, Rachel, give me a chance to be your father again.

RACHEL:        (thinking a while) No. Not yet. You can work up to that. Let’s just start with that game of chess.

SIMEON:        Yes. That would be a good start.

RACHEL:        I’ll need some coffee though.

(SIMEON sits down at the table, turns the board to RACHEL. She is pouring coffee for the two of them as the lights FADE DOWN. Music plays again.)

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.  



CAST

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.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rough Creatures: A Play for Advent - Part 3

"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.  



CAST

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


CAST

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

TINKER:         I could see Gamin Sanctuary's beacon from the top of MacIntyre’s Rise, right before the storm blew in on me. It was so fierce! I stumbled through the whiteout, but knew I’d be dead if I didn’t try for shelter. So I started digging myself a shelter into a shelf of ice. And as I chipped away with my shovel, I dislodged an ice sheet which was over a grating. I pried the grating loose with my shovel, and then crawled through the tunnel behind it. It was completely dark. I couldn’t see a thing. Finally, I came to another grating. I didn’t have room to light a torch and see where I was heading, so I knocked the grating off with my shovel and slid through. Since I couldn’t turn around, I eased myself head-first out of the metal tunnel until I could reach my fire kit. I lit a match, and saw that there was floor about seven feet beneath me. I could feel that I was in a big room, just from the air. So I jumped down, lit a torch, and began exploring. It was obviously all man made. At first, I thought it was just another underground place, like the Sanctuary. But as I explored further, through halls that made my footsteps echo, I came upon a door, which lead out into the most marvelous place I have ever seen, or even heard described. It was a city, but not open to the sky, like all the rest must have been. This one had a huge roof over it, with spots where huge windows had been built to let in the light. At points, I could see holes in the ice that had formed over the windows, and that’s how I knew it wasn’t underground.

SIMEON:        It’s really a city?  How big is it?

TINKER:         It’s so big, that there are hundreds of merchant’s shops, and inns. All the people living in Gamin Sanctuary could move there and would hardly take up any space. I walked several miles in one direction, starting at one end and going to the other. And that only makes up for maybe one third of the city—there’s little streets leading off the main one, and there are several levels to the city—just like the Sanctuary, only not just open stone. All the shops, the Inns…I’d never seen anything like it.

SIMEON:        And there were no people?

TINKER:         I came across a few remains, but whenever the Ice came, it came at a time when the people weren’t in the city. The bodies I found were carrying pistols like this one (he brandishes a revolver) so I assume they were watchmen, left to guard the city while the people were away.

ANNO:            Why the hell would an entire city just up and leave?

SIMEON:        It’s possible that they were away celebrating a festival of some sort. My people used to go to the City of God leaving their towns and villages once a year to worship God in His temple.

TINKER:         That could be it. The whole city was decorated with shiny rope and huge sparkling shapes.

FEN:                A star.

TINKER:         What’s a star?

FEN:                It’s in this book. Were the shapes like this one? (She holds up the book and points to the star of Bethlehem.)

TINKER:         Yes! That’s what they looked like.

ANNO:            Perhaps Fen’s book is about the festival. What does it say?

FEN:                I don’t understand a lot of the words. Like this one; ‘messiah.’ What’s that Simeon?

SIMEON:        (excited.) The book talks about the Messiah?

ANNO:            Then you know what the word is?

SIMEON:        Do I know what the word is? It’s the heart of my people’s faith Anno. It’s the hope we cling to. The hope for the coming of the Messiah.

ABBESS:         You sound like you’re running for headman.

TINKER:         Who knows? Not a bad aspiration for the man who discovered the City of God

ABBESS:         The what?

TINKER:         Well, I was just thinking, since they were obviously worshipful people—what with having so many of those books and the dolls, all relating to the Messiah.

SIMEON:        We can’t be sure that book is true—

TINKER:         But a gift such as this city—it could only come from God, am I not right Simeon?

SIMEON:        I suppose—

TINKER:         And, most miraculous of all, there are trees everywhere, underground!

ABBESS:         Trees can’t grow underground!

TINKER:         So we’ve been told! But they’re there, fully grown, decorated with stars, and shiny things. I brought one to show you.

(He pulls a Christmas ornament from one of the pouches on his vest, and hands it to ABBESS, who looks it over.)

ABBESS:         (sarcastic) It’s beautiful. (She places the ornament on the bar. RACHEL scoops it up.)

RACHEL:        It is beautiful.

ANNO:            What about the air. Was it breathable?

TINKER:         It was pretty bad. I had to wear my mask. But I crawled in through a tunnel that seemed to be made for letting air into the city. If there’s one, there’s probably more. We’d just have to make sure they didn’t ice over. Keep them clear of snow. And besides, with all those trees, the air should clean up once we get all the dead bodies moved.

ANNO:            So I guess you’ll be needing a place to stay while you’re here.

TINKER:         A warm bed would be nice.

SIMEON:        (SIMEON puts his arm around TINKER.) Surely this man is messiah to me! He brings this news of the Promised Land! There is a giant to conquer with the air, yes, but (he takes the ornament from RACHEL.) there are also grapes the size of a man’s fist.

(Everyone else looks perplexed. SIMEON places the ornament on the table. FEN picks it up, and inspects it while the others continue talking.)

TINKER:         Well Anno, what do you say?

ANNO:            It sounds fantastic. Almost too good to be true.

ABBESS:         Which probably means it is.

ANNO:            ‘Bess—don’t be so hard. It’s someplace to go to! The place I’ve been hoping for.

ABBESS:         You’ve been hoping for it, not me.  I like this inn just fine. I expect if everyone in Gamin Sanctuary and Southtown just up and moved, we’d have no room in Tinker’s fabulous city.

TINKER:         You don’t sound enthused Abbess. Does this mean you won’t be coming with us?

ABBESS:         You don’t even know if anyone will go with you.

TINKER:         Of course they will! That’s what they—we all want—a place to start over!

ABBESS:         I’ve already started over. This Inn was where I did it. I have a family, and we’re happy here.

TINKER:         That’s something else I was meaning to speak to you about, Abbess. When I go to the city, I’m taking Fen with me.

(FEN looks up from the ornament. She missed the comment, but recognized her name.)

ABBESS:         (Stunned.) What did you say?

TINKER:         I said, when I return to the City, I’m taking Fen with me.

FEN:                (Not comprehending at all.) I’d like to see the city Mama. We could all go visit!

TINKER:         No Fen, I mean I’m taking you there to live with me.

FEN:                (Confused.) But why? This is where I live. Here, with Mama and Papa.

TINKER:         They’re not your real Mama and Papa Fen. I’m you’re real Papa.

ABBESS:         You son of a bitch. (She lunges at him, but ANNO holds her back.)

ANNO:            You’d better leave now Tinker.

TINKER:         Not until I’m finished.

ANNO:            You’re finished now.

TINKER:         I have a right to tell her.

ANNO:            No you don’t. You gave that up ten years ago. Now get the hell out of here. You’re not welcome.

ABBESS:         Go, talk to the headman. I’m sure he’ll be interested to hear your story. But I’m not so easily given to your honey tongue, Tinker. What happens when the work gets hard? Will you be the one helping with the removal of the dead? Or will you just tuck tail and run when the going gets hard—like you did before.

TINKER:         I don’t have to listen to this.

ABBESS:         No, you’re right. You can always just walk away and do as you please, and come and go as you please.

TINKER:         What do you want from me?

ABBESS:         I wanted you to stay the hell away from her! You can’t just show up here now and tell her you’re her real father! That’s not fair! You don’t have the right!

ANNO:            Get going.

(TINKER turns, grabs his pack, looks at FEN for a moment, and then heads up the stairs. SIMEON, RACHEL AND ESTHER all exit in the awkward silence. ANNO lets ABBESS go.)

ABBESS:         Fen—

FEN:                Are you my real parents?

ABBESS:         (After a lengthy pause.) No.

FEN:                So Tinker wasn’t lying?

ABBESS:         No, for once he was telling the truth.

FEN:                How come—you never told me?

ABBESS:         I didn’t think you needed to know.

FEN:                Oh.

ABBESS:         Do you want to go with Tinker?

FEN:                You don’t want me anymore?

ABBESS:         No, no that’s not what I meant. I just—I don’t know Fen. I feel all mixed up, and I don’t know what to say.

FEN:                Me too.

ABBESS:         So what are we gonna do?

FEN:                I don’t want to leave you and Pa—Anno.

ABBESS:         You stop that right now. Anno is still your Papa—and I am still your Mama. If you don’t want to leave, then that doesn’t change. Do you understand?

FEN:                I don’t know Ma—mama, I don’t know. I just want to go lie down. I want to lie down and read.

(FEN slides out of her chair and exits. ABBESS slumps into a chair, ANNO comes up behind her and places his hands on her shoulders.)

ANNO:            I’m sorry ‘Bess.

ABBESS:         I should’ve shot that bastard the minute he set foot in my
Inn! Who the hell does he think he is? Fen’s so filled up with fairy tales and Simeon’s old stories—babies left by their parents, taken in by kings and queens—will she think it’s all wonderful, like one of those stories?

ANNO:            I don’t know. She’s just a little girl. She doesn’t see the world the way we do. All hard and cold.

ABBESS:         What if she wants to go with him?

ANNO:            She doesn’t. She’s confused, but she won’t leave you.

ABBESS:         You mean she won’t leave you.

ANNO:            She won’t leave either of us. Stop hurting yourself. You’re the one who’s always saying we shouldn’t make pain up where there isn’t any. Fen loves you very much. No more than me, just different. The only reason she’d want to go would be to see the City, not to live with Tinker.

ABBESS:         That’s what I’m afraid of. That she’ll go for that reason. Or that you’ll both go for that reason.

ANNO:            Why are you so afraid of going? What if it’s as wonderful as Tinker says?

ABBESS:         You trust that man?

ANNO:            Tinker may be honey tongue, but he’s not stupid. He’s not going to lead two settlements across the ice waste to a place that doesn’t exist. He’d be torn apart when the lie was found out.

ABBESS:         Maybe he’s just planning to lead everyone out there so he can steal from them.

ANNO:            You know as well as I do that Tinker isn’t that kind of person. He’s selfish, but he’s not a murderer.

ABBESS:         Anno, we’ve both seen what this world does to people. The ice wastes are just a beast, with great, sharp teeth, and it eats people. Some it eats slowly, and others faster, but it eats them all, just the same! I will not fill that child’s head with hope that doesn’t exist!

ANNO:            You don’t know it doesn’t exist.

ABBESS:         And I’m not risking the lives of my family just to see if Tinker’s city is really as grand as he says! My father took that risk on some wanderer’s say so, and we never made it!

ANNO:            But Tinker knows where the city is. And he’s willing to lead us there.

ABBESS:         Oh yes, for his glory. He’s equipped to travel the wastes. He’s been doing it ever since Fen’s mother died! Fen’s just a little girl! You really think she’ll make the journey

ANNO:            I think the risk is worth it. So we stay here, while everyone in the Sanctuary leaves—who will we trade with? Who will stay at the inn?

ABBESS:         People on their way to the ‘City of God.’

ANNO:            You know as well as I do that’s a lot of heat. When the settlements hear about this place, they’ll all be coming here—one last time. There’ll be a few stragglers, sure, maybe even some who would take the journey farther than Southtown, but then that’s it.