Throwing Out the DIrector’s Chair: Emotional Sobriety and Sacred Playwriting

February 17, 2012

The thought crossed my mind: I should threaten suicide to get people to read my plays.

Granted, this is totally Easing Godsoul Out (EGO) sutff, but I must confess an irritation with one of my FB friends, who reacted to a link I posted (which came from another frustrated playwright like myself), that was basically an ad hominem attack on the writer of the article in question.  In his mind, that was enough to poo-poo any suggestions of change, but it’s just a logical fallacy.  Just because a person is Christian doesn’t mean they can’t discuss Christianity critically.  One can of course look for bias, but that’s putting critical thinking to actual use, not shutting it down because of who the messenger is  Still, his comments got under my skin a little, as well as his lack of openness to even entertain what was said in the aritcle.

I felt dismissed, and on some level I think I accepted it as my due.  There’s an aspect of myself that’s a scrapper however, and it frequently has to spar against myself before I get it that I’m taking on someone else’s crapola.  And I need to step back and get some objectivity, which is where this blog post comes in.

The thought of threatening suicide had this hot reaction as one of its sources, but it emerged as well from an activity I engaged in, allegedly to help myself forward with my writing.  Yesterday, I had the “opportunity” to surf the web in search of theaters that might be interested/amenable to producing one of my plays.  In the past, this has been a fruitless endeavor, and one that has brought up a lot  of feelings–anticipated rejection, abandonment, futility, rage, helplessness, powerlessness, pre-suffering, and it’s all because my frickin’ EGO is trying to run the show.

Weirdly enough, I had a FedEx Divination as well, on my way home from a substitute teaching gig, as I was thinking about reconnecting with high school classmates and letting people from Littleton, CO readMy Littleton Play.  Letting some of them no doubt take umbrage with the depiction of the Rossiter family and its slow decline from an artificial middle class status into lower and lower castes within our secular caste system.  And again, my Easing-God-Outter certainly took the opportunity to use it to lambaste myself and speak again to my notions of being a defective human being and how dare I “tell it like it is,” because who the F do I think I am?

I’m another yourself, that’s who.

So somehow my EGO led me to ponder putting up a suicide threat as a status update.  I’m so glad I put a pause in between things, but the truth of my life right now is that things ARE difficult, and I am reaching the end of my rope with a lot of things, all at once.

I know I’m not alone in this, and I do seek to connect with others who have similar feelings, which is why I’m exposing myself a little more in this post.  But my EGO is a dangerous part of myself, and it needs some healing.  It needs to be fed in healthy ways, and where my mastery as a playwright is concerned, I feel like I’m letting myself down.  It affects my writing too, because while I suspect the need for recognition and its addictive fame-seeking aspect, I still need it.  It’s a part of healthy pride–of stepping forward with my best foot.

The aspect of looking for a theater that got me down was that I logged into a site that said candidly that scripts requiring over 9 actors were less likely to be asked for.  I mostly write plays with 12-15 actors required, and was thus discouraged.  To be fair, I understand where theaters are coming from.  It’s expensive to do anything these days, and I get to be a part of a movement to “Occupy Stages” as it were.  Certainly our theaters could use an infusion of local energy that isn’t tied to corporations, banks and centralized government.

It’s quite confusing to be in this place, and to come up against my EGO yet again, but I came to understand that I need to, as the first story in AA’s recently published book of stories from The Grapevine, Emotional Sobriety: The Next Frontier suggested, I need to throw out the director’s chair and invite Godsoul, the Star Goddess, Cerridwen and other deities in to bring that service aspect of writing forward.

I need to trust that what I’m writing is what is needed out there., that what pleases me will please others, and that perhaps some day , there will be a connection made to someone who sees and appreciates the service being offered.  In short, I need to have faith that all is in order even though it all feels pretty crappy right now.

I am underearning at the moment.  Here I am, an Ivy League educated fellow who can’t stand to work in offices anymore, getting inconsistent work as a substitute teacher and I’m barely hanging on.  All I really have is my physical health and my awareness that there’s a spiritual way through these difficulties.  That’s more than a lot of people have, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Even though I did a little self-destructive research out there, the truth is that I don’t even really have the money to send scripts out to people, and it’s just as well that theaters are saying “no room at the inn.”  I need to find some mangers to birth my divine children anyway.

That’s the way for us Marys isn’t it? 🙂

Acceptance.  The Answer to all my problems.  Surrender even deeper than I’ve gone before…

At Cerridwen’s Cauldron: A Channeling

February 13, 2012

Hello, friends of the sacred mountain which I tend.  Blessings to you, one and all.

The words I speak to Frostwolf Aimuth (aka Richard Morell) are also meant for all those who seek to “make a living” in theater.  I am here today to alert you to the death of a dream.  This is one of the aspects of my charge, as a Goddess not only of inspiration, poetry and the writing of dramatis sacrae.  I am also a death goddess, the consumer of the dead and the derelict.

All of you who consider yourselves playwrights are tenants of the sacred mountain, tending your plots with loving attention.  Some of you may plant your seeds in a xeriscape manner, others attend to things as if you were conducting an English Tea Garden.  It is all beautiful to me, and I relish each and every one of you.  There are those of you who have been able to adjust yourselves to the reality in the theater of your artificial construct called “the Nation of the United States of America.”  And that is a part of the terminus of your dream, for that notion is being shown up as a phantom, an illusion.

Can you accept there is no such thing as an American National Theater?  While there are plays that are considred part of a common canon – the plays of my tenants Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, Lillian Hellman etc. – the stark fact of the matter is that the New York City Centric theater does not speak that much to the American state of mind, and it’s quite impossible to manifest.  There are too many closed avenues within the shadowy halls of “the nation” that cannot be mutually satisfied.  One cannot simultaneously feed the soul, for example, and simply entertain.  For the soul to be engaged, you need for there to be something ventured, and entertainment-seeking eschews venturing anything in favor of being coddled.

I pause here for the moment because Frostwolf expresses a concern to me that he is really just expressing his own thoughts, and to some extent this is true.  Much of what he observes is inside this commentary, but I turn the mirror upon him right now to show you how the dream he has clutched onto for two-plus decades is dragging him down into the depths of despair.  He is at that jumping off point where he must surrender the dead and the useless if he is to move forward.

“Why does it have to be so hard?” he continuously asks.  It’s hard because he’s like the lottery win seeker who doesn’t buy a ticket.  He wants to win the lottery, but he doesn’t believe in the lottery.  Likewise, he wants to see his plays produced, but he doesn’t want to see them produced in the current economic context.  Yet is that not where everyone finds themselves?  Frostwolf/Richard is locked in a self-sabotaging spiral of despair,, seeking to be praised for showing up that his culture is wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes.

He wants to believe that the child in the story is a savior and deserving of praise, but is that ever the case with the one who announces that the Party’s Over?  And I’m not speaking solely of Cassandra with her doomy prophecies, but also of people who herald the end of a way of being for someone who has been sufferiong at the hands of their own delusions.

It is always tempting to shoot the messenger, even when one knows deep down that the messenger carries only the message that it is time to deal with Reality or it will deal you out of the game entirely.

Today, he brought me a question, to discover whether in his plot of plays to unearth, if he had one that would be able to meet current theater requirements of few characters, but that were in his store to write.  Frostwolf is a writer of the really small and the really large.  The in-between does not really represent his best voice, and he’s struggled.  When an odd script like Timberline comes through,, which is a beautiful 3 character script, it is appreciated for its oddness and its innocence by someone who has witnessed and endured as much as he has.  Very few people really appreciate the beauty of that script, because not much happens in it.  And yet the world doth change by its end.

Still, Frostwolf can only approach the 2-8 character play from a place of forcing solutions, of contrivance.  He’s no Tennessee Williams on that score, able to build a strong work out of contrivance.  His sstrenghts are elsewhere.

Can one imagine Tennessee Williams contriving to write about real estate men in Chicago?  How about  David Mamet attempting to stage a version of Anna Karenina with a funny looking bald man in a dress playing the lead?  Why should Mamet try to be Charles Ludlam?  At best these are academic exercises to be answered in theme papers for Contemporary American Theater classes.

It’s only “rational” that Frostwolf try to Procrustesize himself, and cut off his legs and hands to try to suit a bed too small for him.  But in order to do so, he has to distort what it means to accept himself and the gifts he really does have, and I am here to tell him that part of the dream he has carried with him since being a beloved student in his high school class, who won his year’s English award and was told “this is your future,” wherein he felt he was going to be up there with the greats never was meant to be.

It isn’t because he’s not all that great.  All the tenants bring their own brilliance to bear, and they show up to the work because they are called, and they all find their brilliance eventually–even if doesn’t translate into a production on a stage.  The sad fact of the matter is that the theater in most nation-states has been similarly infected with a certain sort of cancer called “Winner Take All.”  The instant celebrity is celebrated and held up as THE example to follow, and woe be to others who strive alongside in their obscurity.

Many of you playwrights out there are what could be termed Imaginal Cells on the Cateripillar-Body-Politic that is aware that it’s time to enter the chrysalis stage but fights against it.  The caterpillar, at that point when it’s to start that spinning process, doesn’t at first wish to go, and when the first cells appear, feels they are invaders.  The DNA of the caterpillar has become its own enemy, its own announcer of imminent doom.  It emerges from the body of the organism itself, and yet, the organism has an attachment to how things have been.  So the imaginal cells appear and the caterpillar tries to pick at them.  Perhaps it does get a couple of these irritants off its corpus, but eventually it must succumb to the process of its own evolution.  The imaginal cells eventually win out, if the caterpillar isn’t picked off by a bird or some other predator coveting its juiciness.  The cocoon gets spun and the caterpillar therein entombed, becomes a grey goo that serves as the soup of creation of the butterfly.

In some ways, Frostwolf’s dream is that caterpillar.  And he has been assiduously fighting on its behalf.  The actual imaginal cells of his writing point him in a different direction however, and he is slowly, but resistantly, coming to the awareness that his dream of being American Theater’s Savior is the stuff of a 17 year old’s fantasy.  He’s denied that he’s had this dream, but the questions he has brought me reveal his true thoughts.  He wants to “hit one out of the park,” just like John Patrick Shanley has with his amazing Moonstruck and Doubt.  The time for that has passed, however.

Frostwolf Azimuth writes for the future.  His voice is to speak to descendants who will need to hear the observations he pens of the times in which he lives.  His voice is for a time when communities get together to put on works that will enhance a culture yet to be born, a society emergent.  A kindred spirit, Charles Ludlam, has literally danced into his life recently, and is goading the writer toward his true voice, and like that caterpillar mind he has been evincing, he has been resisting it every step of the way.

Like Charlie, “Frosty” can’t write the miniature.  He tries and tries, and every once in awhile an interesting contrivance comes up.  But it rarely feels authentic to himself.  But that’s the issue–it doesn’t come from his deepest promptings.  And the scrpits that do scare him to no end.  This is to the good,. but the thing is, he understands that they scare audiences to no end as well.

Who wants to be told that their way of life is about to explode in cascading debt defaults they didn’t necessarily sign onto?  Who wants to be told that the world they think they know is built on the sufferings of billions of others, not to mention the costs incurred in our landbases and bioregions?  Who wants to join in dreaming of a world where there is enough to go around, but not enough to satiate the more-more-more of your current system’s focus?

Frostwolf is creating images for an Our Town of Tomroorw.  And as such, he needs to accept that this is most certainly not a way to fame and fortune.  It is a service call he’s answering, pure and simple.  The scripts he writes are his version of Siddhartha ferrying people across the shore, or St. Francis talking to the animals.  Or a smiple person simply asking a troubled man how they’re doing and really caring about the answer.

He doesn’t always see that.  He’s one of those troublesome artists who struggles over his need to be self-absorbed in his Craft while also attending to being of service in his day-to-day, and trying to attend to the overhead of his life.  He’s gotten really sick of that latter part, and has openly wondered if that overhead is worth paying.

The unfortunate truth:  It’s not.  And you all, playwright-tenants or no, are to be facing a time when Can’t Pay and Won’t Pay will do battle with the melodramatic scoundrels of your own Polly Pureheart variety.  A certain diseased minority of folks–the 6% of the populatikon that are your psychopaths–stand eager and ready to enact the Dick Dastardly roles, and another 12% seem to be antsy to carry out their viewpoints from a place of wanting to quell the chaos and blaming others for their discomfort.  Will the other 82% come forward to take care of themselves amidst this difficulty?

Get your popcorn everyone!  Life gets interesting now, doesn’t it?

Many people’s dreams that are similarly situated to Frostwolf’s will also be dashed, and other peoples’ dreams will have to transform.  This is something all people are called to work on these days.  Frostwolf is blessed to have been given the gift of true desperation.  His situation is difficult, but like a recent I Ching oracle counseled, he is the source of his dire difficulties, and it comes from his trying to act as the director of his life and trying to arrange life to suit his preceoneived notions.

Just as he is not a minimalist writer, Frostwolf is not a 9-to-5er either.  He has been saying he wants work, but he doesn’t want a job.  He’s a part of the emergent culture when he says this.  Richard/Frostwolf wishes to be engaged in making contributions to the culture, but he wants to give in a way that is giving, not another form of taking.

That being said, he’s aware that he needs to let people help him righ tnow, and that scalds the Easing Goddess Out (EGO) part of himself.  And despite his arrogance and egotism, his childish grandiosity and neediness, there are people who love this man.  He is loath to admit it, but it’s the truth.  He’s not so awful as to not merit affection, and the callings for him to rest and know that is taken care of are FINALLY being heard.  He is about to understand some of the paradoxes of power, that it arises from doing less, not more.

And it will arise as well as the honesty about his hgh-school-senior dreams throw the deathly sunlight on the vampire vision.  He is amusing this tenant of the mountain.  As he understands these things, his controlling and scheming ego wants to know “what do I do now? Can I find a new line of work? Can I go out and I don’t know, buy a lottery tickket?”  And all that he needs to do is lie down and take a nap.

Be Still And Know That I AM.

Know the sacred source that permeates below the surfacce, that actually feeds his true Self.  The truth is that he is all right, that he’s always been all right, and that his work is the work of others.

His Work Is Your Work as well.

Richard/Frostwolf knows some challenging and advernturous times await.  And he has Charles Ludlam along as a mentor from the ancestral realms.  Among others.  Today he allows me to type these words through his fingertips, and to take this dictation.  This is what I requrested of him today, and it is enough.  This is his sacred task for the morning.  He has other tasks to attend to as he goes through this blessed day.  A Four of Cups day wherein he can set aside his restlessness and discontent.

We come to the end of this channeling and the gift to you who read this is that you too are somehow guided to acknowledge a dead dream that drags you down.  The inner high school kid or college kid who had it all figured out–does that person still hold sway over some area of your life?  Maybe it’s time to open a window of sunlight and watch it fizzle out.  Sweep up the ashes and feed the death gods like myself, and move itno a new dream more appropriate to your place in the scheme of currents and flows surrounding your Being?

I only offer the tool that is the question.  It is your choice to pick it up and use it.

I wish you many blessings!

C.

A Letter to Theater Professionals, inspired by 12 step work and Occupy

February 2, 2012

I was inspired today by page 214 in As Bill Sees It.  Anyone identify?

Dear Theater Professional:

Please forgive the impersonal nature of my salutation, but I speak to you as respectfully as I can from the other side of the holographic divide that is Theater (or the “.01 Percent”) vs. Play (the “99.99 percent”).  I suppose I’m like an acolyte of Dionysus addressing a novice of Apollo and saying “Ahoy, matey!  I’m still here, nanny-nanny poo-poo!” Even as one of us continues to pretend that he’s vanquished the other completely while the other just stands there merrily and gums up the actions the other takes simply by helping him along toward that which he seeks.  Apollo has never really known what was good for him, the poor bugger!

And while I respect that your institution is a provider of enacted performance pieces with conflicts, themes and plots as revealed through characters’ objectives (i.e., “plays”), I have come to understand that, as a recovering compulsive person myself, I can get way too much into the addiction called “striving.”  This often results in frustrations when the apple that I am doesn’t suddenly develop a thick porous skin and spurt orange citrus juice everywhere.

I can’t do it anymore.  I am sick unto undeath of trying to turn myself from an apple into an orange, or in this case, from a garden-variety writer into a Professional Writer.™  And so, I hope you will gleefully accept this small but affectionate poke in the eye to remind both of us of our humanity.  “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems,” as it says on page 414 of the AA Big Book, after all.

As one of the 99.99%, I happily live in a subculture therein of creating large cast plays.  I have a big ol’ Charles Ludlam-esque “big cheap theater” vision, and I seek to populate stage worlds with a potpourri of bizarre events.  I tend toward the big-cast show or the one-person show which is a different sort of excess.  The incontrovertible fact of the matter is that theaters can’t seem to afford to put on large cast plays for various reasons, and thus when asking for new works seek casts of 2 to 8 people.  That’s the data as I understand it.  Perhaps you see it another way, but I see it as being passed over.

Anyway, as various other addictions took their toll, I became a hypersensitive soul over the past decade.  While I have an MFA from N(ow) Y(ou’ll) U(nderearn-iversity) which I received in 1995, I have not submitted work for review in ten years.  Truth be told, rejection has been hard on the old psyche, and I had to go off to an internal cave for all this time.  But this hapless and only recently aware Siddhartha is now ready to join the ranks of the ferrymen on the banks of the river of life.  Going my way, sailor?

I have of course done quite a bit of soul searching and attempted to seek other things to do besides writing, and I know that it’s a daunting task to try and make a living at this.  It’s certainly impossible in 2012 to make a living in theater for gosh sakes, and I can’t wait for collective apocalypse in the original Greek sense of the word (i.e., “lifting the veil”) when our species gets the “aha” moment and realizes that where the economy is concerned, not only have we been putting the cart before the horse but the horse has been backing us up toward the edge of a cliff even as we convince ourselves that we’re “making progress.” (Bwahahaha!)

In that time, I went through a painful writer’s block.  Other things took place—I lost 110 pounds which I’ve been able to keep off in all that time, and I discovered that I’m a nature boy under the rolls of fat.  I’ve moved upstate to an area of natural beauty and hidden treasures, and I entered into a relationship with a local journalist who was actually getting paid modestly to write.  That has since ended due in no small part to the internal pressures I put myself under in that diversion into judging my succulent appleness by the colors and tangs of citrus.

Throughout my block time, my only consistent writing has been Morning Page writings as a daily spiritual task first proposed by Julia Cameron.  I wrote poetry about how sucky it is to work in the vEmpire for people with a J(uvenile) D(elinquent) degree from all those criminally esteemed law schools as my more vehement moods would react to the tongue-lashings endured inside the cubicle farm plantations LLP out there where “How would you like this document formatted?” is the new “Yessa Massa! I sho will git on it lickety split!”

(Yes.  I’ve still got issues.)

In any case, this Herculean task of attempting to be a playwright in this moment of cultural upheaval and transition has been daunting me precisely because I have taken it on as a project of my striving compulsion.  The Work causes me to be aware that  I have come full circle and I realize that it’s most likely not in the cards for me to be a Professional Writer™ at all.

“Amateur” doesn’t feel like the right word either though.  Please forgive me for pointing out the obvious that the overdeveloped left brain aspect of our Apollo-on-crystal meth culture has an obsession with labeling and classifying, and especially loves Duality.  And while I am a part of the hoi polloi that comprises the non-Professional Writers™ out there, “amateur” is but one classification thereof, and not a meaningful one either.

To be truthful, the word would seem to include both Professional Writers™ and we 99.99%.  To be clear, I’m dispensing with the word “amateur” which is a word I must put through a cleansing and purification process to heal its tarnishing.  Since its Latin root “amar” means “to Love”, I will instead use the word Love-Enactor to denote a beginning aspect of the non-Professional Writer™.  We all start out as Love-Enactors and in truth none of us ever leave that behind.  It’s a part of the concentric circles of our development that we are suffused with Love-Enacting.  Ergo, even Professional Writers™ are Love-Enactors in the purest sense of the word, and their paths have taken them in a certain direction.

But–

The vEmpire needs to get its fangs into all things, and before we understand what is happening, we get sucked into the morass of needing to justify our very existence and next thing we know, the Cortlands and Galas and Fujis start to peruse the California trades where only Valencias need apply.

Even though I also hold a degree from the small Ivy League college on the hill in New Hampshire, it’s taken me a quarter of a century to finally get the message that I don’t need to struggle like this.  I’ve been witnessing a miraculous process of unfolding where some synchronicities line up to assist a new awareness.  This Love-Enactor has gone on my own particular journey and I declare myself today a Witch Priest of Dramatic Writing, A Playmaker Medicine Man, a Neotribal Shaman of the Stage seeking to midwife the new world emergent post-civilization.

This is the long form of my announcement as such, that I am one of a legion of writers out there who can choose to Occupy Stages.  This is a letter that basically affirms that I’m still around and kicking, that I’m still writing and doing my Sacred Work, and that I am more deeply surrendering to my appleness as it were.  And while I seek to see my works performed in appropriate venues, I release myself from the attempts to maintain a sort of “pulp fiction” that I’m somehow a succulent juice bomb.

I understand the fear this letter is probably instigating, and the judgments, and I wish to say that what you think of this text or of its author is none of my business.  Feel free to use the word “amateur” on me if you wish, in the spirit of In Lak’ech (Mayan for “I am another Yourself”).  We are both amateurs in the truest spirit of the word.  I for myself embrace it as I embrace my inner child, but as I now lug around an outer adult, other awarenesses and choices make themselves apparent.

In any case, this is a letter that is a bit of a stab, but it’s also a letter of concern that you are probably in a state of disarray due to our economic chaos.  Please understand that the time has come now for the separations to be revealed and healed.  My perception is that you, Messrs. and Mmes. Theater Professionals, have held yourselves separate from us 99.99%ers for well past the expiration date.  The bad news of impending economic contraction is also the good news that you can finally let go of the role of gatekeeping.  We are in a time when ALL of our voices are needed.

Whatever your feelings about the Occupy movement may be, the truth of the matter is that is not really a revolution at all, but an evolution of the 100%.  The cosmic light of our current experience points us toward the understanding that our concepts of separateness exist only as illusions.  One can simply choose to dispel the illusion, and I say simply, but that does not imply easily.  As I said, it’s taken my 25 years of holding on to this alleged valley that separates us, wherein I accept terms that others have put forth again and again, with the same heartbreaking results time after time, and insane really, to keep trying to follow the same set of actions and expecting different results.

Can you admit complete defeat and that your life has become unmanageable in the face of this separation?  I’m hoping that you can.

Sincerely,

Richard M.
aka Frostwolf Aazimuth
Witch Priest of Dramatic Writing and Compulsive Striver
seeking to recover from the ravages of having been civilized
without my consent

My Attractions to Other Writers

January 15, 2012

Today, as I was showing up to my daily journal of creativity, I was struck by an amazing insight into why Maria Irene Fornes is my most favorite writer.  As I was attending to a butternut squash I had fixed for dinner later today, as well as for several dinners during the week, I was thinking about this play that I’m writing.  It’s a ten-minute piece, which is a format I’m not thrilled with.  I have my suspicions about the reason these sorts of works exist, and mostly what I suspect is adminstrative laziness is the author of this detestable genre.

I say this partly because it really chafes my nucha to be so beyoked in terms of time.  There are some people whose gifts are very well suited to this task, and in fact their ability to write longer works is the difficluty for them.  I don’t begrudge others who have this talent, but when asked to write something like this, I kick, I scream, I try, and I fail, and hooray!  I’m an apple trying to squeeze myself into a raisin sized outfit.

Well, don’t that sound familiar to a Compulsive Eater, eh?

Anyway, I was pondering how in this play I have some writing that is “on the nose.”  In theater, subtext is a wonderful thing.  Lines in a play that offer mystery or out-and-out contradiction are fabulous.  The person who is talking about abstinence while noshing on a waffle.  The mother who is upbraiding her son for hitting a girl by slapping him around.  Astrov’s seduction of Yelena while talking about ecological devastation in a small Russian village.  FAAAAABulous!

But on-the-nose writing usually signifies a failure of imagination, or more likely it’s the idea that the writer wishes to convey but hasn’t yet gotten to the oblique or contradictory way to do so.  I was pondering though that on-the-nose writing as I’ve called it doesn’t always serve a playwright’s intentional failure function, but can actually be used in ways to further plot in a manner that is ingenuous and fresh.  It takes a certain mastery and restraint however.

I’ve only seen one production of Fornes’s play Abingdon Square, and I have to say when I saw it in 1987 at the American Place Theater, I felt such an ambivalence about it.  Because so much of the writing is x equals x.  Yet the play has haunted me since that time.  The images and the honesty, the innocence and the freshness, the true depiction of a child’s growth into being the full-fledged woman she is entitled to become.  Set in World War I Greenwich Village it also has a timeless quality to it.  The reasons I disliked the play turn out to also be the reasons that it haunts me so.

That got me thinking about Fornes’s delightful Enter THE NIGHT (yes, the words are all-capped).  There is a brilliant use of what would be considered not only bad writing, but ATROCIOUS writing in the play.  Jack shares this play that gleefully violates the theater commandment, “Thou shalt not write a play about the village of the kind and happy people!”  The function of the play within the play however, is to offer a moment of delicacy and tenderness to their uptight, hectic and hard lives.  Tessa the nurse deals with HIV patients day in day out.  Paula is handling a cancer diagnosis.  Jack himself may or may not be infected, and is a stage runner for The Ridiculous Theater.  In the Seattle production, I remember a brilliantly hilarious monologue where Jack gives a speech that just enumerates all the stuff he has to do backstage to help Charles and Everett with their performance.

Well.  Thinking about Enter THE NIGHT also got me thinking about her other play with the similar title What of the Night? which is a collection of 4 one-act plays that follow this  group of vagrants in 1930s L.A., as they try to eke out an existence, then disperse on their own paths.  Irene worked on this play way back in  1986 when I was a student in the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop.  Her process kindled in me a desire to imitate her, and actually my play Timberline was written in one of her workshops.  It’s my most favorite thing I’ve ever written.

I got to bypass so much of my intellect when I wrote that play.  I see that there is a certain central core to my soul that comes out in my writing, even in my difficult attempts to finding ways to fuse my intellect with the heart.  A worthy endeavor, to be sure.  But I’z gotz ta pay da billz, ya know?  I’d luvz to have a commoishal Pradauck.

In musing about Irene’s plays I pondered what conneected Abingdon Square, What of the Night?, Enter THE NIGHT and perhaps even her play about 2 English actresses who acquire a fragment of the first translation of Hedda Gabler (Summer in Gossensass), and realized in an electric frisson that that all of these plays depict tribal energies.  In What of the Night? it’s quite blatant, but in Abingdon Square, it’s quite subtle.  And it’s just part of the woodwork of Enter THE NIGHT, where these 3 characters have each other to get by, and are able through the course of the aciton of the play to be who they are, and to give the simple and necessary love they have for the other 2.

And I realize that this is also what attracts me to Charles Ludlam’s work too, though that was more about his operation than about his plays themselves.  I have to say that putting on one of his works creates a tribe out of the actors who come together however, having directed Camille myself.  And I’ve always wanted to direct all 3 of these Fornes works, as well as Mud and the amazingly beautiful and harsh The Conduct of Life.

I feel on some level John Patrick Shanley must be doing the same thing too, for I’m very much attracted to his work and have been since the first time I saw it.  That shamanic element of myself recognizes itself in only a smattering of writers.  For example, I don’t feel it in Kushner or Mamet, as brilliant as they are.  I wonder if it doesn’t have to do with the Catholic element, at least in Fornes and Shanley’s cases.  I feel it a little in Jon Robin Baitz and Richard Greenberg’s work, though not as strong.  It’s more a part of the loom, whereas with Fornes, Shanley, Ludlam and I would also venture Fassbinder, it IS the loom.  (Could Chekhov and Beckett also have that element, I wonder?)

I feel called to follow the thread into my tricksterish side, and I am seeking to write some new pieces that emerge from a shamanic primordium.  Irene had an interesting exercise for actors where she had them consider their liver in a meditative state.  I sat in on this and went through the exercise myself, and at the time, I had the oddest visualization:  As I considered my liver, I “saw” it hooked up to a formica countertop.  A plastic sort of feeding device was nourishing it, and it seemed quite happy and wet and deeply burgundy too.  Then I was to clear the image and let the first thing come to mind, and for some reason Dustin Hoffman’s face flashed across my consciousness for just a second to be replaced by a mammoth box of Rice Krispies.  I mean, I was floating next to a 3 story sized box of Snap! Crackle! and Pop! And Pop! started talking to me about how he was getting gypped by “the man.”

(She has lots of exercises that get a person into the silly zone, which I do admit I love.)

Padua Hills was a sort of month-long tribal excursion, and I wish I’d have been able to do it more than the one time.  Things have quite changed in these two plus decades though.  I see that I’ve been quietly delving deeper, and it can get quite difficult because I have some impatience to deal with.  Now seems to be a good time to start the limiting of the coffee intake, needless to say.

But I see that the stories that are coming through me need to be constantly bathed in that spirittual stream, and that is how they will become the gold that I know they are.  My Easing Godsoul Out (EGO) aspect will of course try and have a crack at things, but it’s the return of the Fetch and Godsoul to the page that will keep the piece on the track.

May the blessings emerge, and may Cerridwen guide me toward whichever plot on the Sacred Playwriting Mountain I’m to furrow and seed next.

Novel: “Wayshower: The Faerie Education of Humphrey Talbott”

September 8, 2011

The journal page, opened up again to the same spot, was empty.  As it had been yesterday and the day before and the day before that.  Frustration continued to daunt him.

Humphrey Talbott sat in A Clean Well-Lighted Place Books with his journal, pondering his various projects and sipping a cup of coffee, when he looked up and took it all in–

all the books that were on display in the clean, sun-drenched room,

the airy feelings that the proprietors effortless put out for the comfort and delight of their customers,

the collective sense of accomplishment in all those books and th eproducts to be appraised, held and evaluated with keen and loving attention,

and he felt a lot of feelings–

a bit of inspiration, to be sure–all these were creations out of nothing after all, so individual authors’ achievements deserved that recognition,

and not a little bit of feeling daunted, for how could whatever creations coming through the physical vehicle of this brain, these nerves and synapses connecting all the way down to these wiry tan hands compare with the works herein collected.

But mostly

he felt envy.

The beast which everyone else knew to be a green-eyed monster, the once-heavy, now HWP stand-in for a non-crucified Jesus at 47 experienced the state of comparing what he had against others and finding himself wanting as a southern belle not unlike Scarlett O’Hara.  He named the bitch Envy LaRougemort, Dee-Lightful Drag Queen Vampire with a Dixie-down drawl, she do declare!

She could outcunt Rush Limbaugh!

(Humphrey liked to use the c-word in his own style, and he fantasized redefining the word as follows:  “cunt: (pronunciation thereof), n. vul. 1. Vampire (onom., synec.) 2. vul. female, wnech. 3. vul. vagina.  v. vul. to bite, as if from a vampire.  “Count Dracula cunted his fangs into Lucy’s neck and inhaled the red elixir of her living body into his undead gullet.”)

Needless to say, most times he kept this redefinition to himself in his little witch cottage by the river.  It was indeed a most powerful notion to attempt to add to the mix of confusion over a sound with a lot of dismay and disinfomrative associations already toward what he considered a more appropriate use of the sound of that particular epithet.  Such a waste when it comes out of a drunk fellow cussing out his enabling wife and female relatives–come on, it so suits Dick Cheney does it not?

That face defines the word that rhymes with “bunt,” and don’t go too far from the letter b to figure out what the former V.P.’s true essence by sound is captured.

“Yet this would most likely remain a secret unto the grave, Ah do declare.” Oh, he could hear Envy’s gruff evil-cank drawl as it surveyed the room.

“Why I do surmise Humphrey James Talbott, that it’s nice that you’re here and all, enjyoing the lovely summer’s day in this dee-lightful bookstore in the town you dream of moving to someday; yes it is just the loveliest!  But honey, don’t ya think you ought to be looking for some real work?  Like maybe seeking temp jobs in that gloriously gritty and hideous vEmpire you do go on about?  As it crashes and burns to be sure, but still there is money to be made and Esq-cunts to satisfy with your fast typing hands and your yummy suicidal doe-in-the-headlights rage.  Don’t you think it’s time you just settled into it, got that rifle and the new gig, then went postal on some LLP that deserves it? Hm, sugar-sugar, honey-honey?  I mean, can you really compete with these illustrious writers?  I see your name in the history books as a rager not a writer.”

Envy LaRougemort could really come in and bring out the dreadful feelings of uselessness, as if the journal he held wasn’t made of college-ruled but toilet paper.  Envy had her ways, sometimes pretending to be an advocate (“why it’s all about who they know, really!”) and other times encouraging a foray into credit card usage (“you deserve that pumpkin spice candle”).  This mass murderer thing was new for her.  And pretty low.  His 401k was getting dismally low, and he was doing his best to keep fear at the door.  But it got harder with each passing day and Envy didn’t make it easier.

He had just had a dreadful conversation with his best friend Allen Tighner, who had gone through something similar with his own journey.  And the difficulties of that part of his friend’s journey were still so raw and vivid, that Humphrey’s issues just shut him down right away.  Humphrey felt awful that he had stepped toward this with his friend and felt a pang of regret, and not a little extra pain in his heart for having caused his long-time pal a two-fer punch.  It only made the writer’s block he was experiencing that much more difficult to endure.

And while Humphey would love nothing better than to join the ranks of writers who sent in a hard-hitting and entertaining query letter that started a bidding war that landed him a 6-figure contract, or to start a franchise that would knock it out of the park, he knew he’d be satisifed if he were considered the next Lance Drakeson or Kim Velasquez-Tierney.  A new writer in his late 40s who had left behind a corporate gig and went his own way.  He followed these role models’ epxeriences avidly, as they were both like him–“Friends of Terry.”  He had heard Lance and Kim share on the phone lines for Fulfillment Anorexics Anonmyous meetings, and found himself alternating between being inspired and depressed by them.

Yes, yes, of course he wanted to be famous, to have his work recognized. Yes of course he’d love to see his books and plays “filed under T” and attracting the readers he knew were out there to connect with.  Humphrey suspected there were intrepid actors out there who would fight passionately to get his plays onstage, literary managers and dramaturgs and artistic directors be damned!  But here he was, in Harvard Center, New York, sitting in a thoughtfully appointed bookstore along the Rijkskill in Washington County, Grandma Moses country, in a plush and comfy chair staring at a blank page in a spiral notebook blocked and dismally envious with Envy LaRougemort’s fierce, cold stalactite voice drilling its deathly notions his way.

But the clock was ticking, and Envy just bided her evil time.  Was it a set-up for failure that he didn’t believe that his 401k would survive to see his retirement days, that whatever was going on with the Mayan calendar and ancient prophecies would scotch the idea of a cushy elderhood easily?  Actually, if he didn’t take it when he did, it wouldn’t have mattered much.  He was headed for a suicide if he continued working in the necronomy’s legal-eagle bowels.  If nothing else, taking the 401k was forestalling his own demise by however long it lasted.

Almost a year exactly before it was gone gone GONE.  It was coming to the end of 10 months ago when he had given noticed at Windigo Windigo Mankiller LLP (not its real name) on Cockson Street in Albany.  He figured he had about 6 weeks of money left, with 2 months rent good and then…?  He’d have to do something else, though he was leaving it of course to the last minute.

He knew other things as well.  Humphrey was also a witch and felt on some level he’d be all right.  Something eventually would come through his pen, and it would be marvelous and magical.  Or something would manifest through his intentions and workings that would far exceed his wildest dreams.  It would arise from his heart and its wisdom, and it would truly be miraculous and effortless.

And yet was it turning out that way?  Was it not an effort to drive all the way up from his domicile in Doodleville, day after day, just trying to contrive some sort of text out of a parched imagination?  The torture he felt of showing up to characters and works that did not grab him, but which he felt compelled to write nonetheless.  And they stayed away in droves.

Who else was going to tell these stories if not him?

And he knew he had to try and write in a medium he didn’t find comfortable.  Screenplays, with their rigid 3-act structure.  But his idea for the Doin’ Damage Quartet was totally cinematic, and the first story, about a British-born attorney, now paralegal, who is in a dead-end vEmpire gig and married to a high-maintenance local t.v. producer, can’t go on anymore and he leaves his job when he discovers he’s a plant whisperer.  And with their help, he’s able to intervene to keep some pristine land being soiled by the hydrofrackers out to continue their sorcerer’s apprentice ways.   He had gotten through a second draft on that one, and was trying to write the next, a horror movie with the monster being the way we live our lives.  That one wasn’t going so well.

He wondered if he’d be able to sell the first script to the fellow who he had in mind as he wrote it, a British rock-star in his own right.  Caw, the former front man of Liv-P-D, and who had embarked on his own solo career, was someone Humphrye respected in his shamanic work.  They had met in the astral through the auspices of Tlatzolteotl and the Blue God.  The beautiful Aztec filth goddess and Dian-y-Glas had connected them both one day as they walked simultaneous labyrinths 2,000 miles apart.  Humphrey had rounded the 3rd circuit when he spied the recognizable personage leaning up against the wall, pondering some message.  Humphrey had interrupted the reverie.

Caw had screeched at him and flapped his skinny arms–“Who the fuck are you?  How’d you get in here? Oh.  You’re ghostly. Oh.  Huh.”  The sweet-smelling goddess stood nearby and radiated love their way as Humphrey stood bewildered to see an honest-to-god celebrity right there in front of him.  The goddess spoke:

“Caw, who is also known as Colin Andrew Wimberley, and Humphrey James Talbott also known as Ice Eagle, you two will one day work together on several projects.”

“Like hell, I’m working with numbnuts here!  I don’t care who you are!”

And Tlatzolteotl smiled at Caw and feces vomited forth from his gullet.  And Humphrey found his own voice.

“Oh, that’s attractive.  Shitbreather, I simply must have him now.  Caw that was too sexy for Coco Chanel herself.  She should only spew such cocoa.”  The Britpunk star wiped his soiled astral mouth with a plasmatic towel that appeared out of thin air for the express purpose, he nodded grudgingly at Ice Eagle Humphrey, and grimly smiled.

“As I was saying,” the filth goddess continued, “you two shall work together, for it has been preordained and you two contracted it pre-existence.  I intervene to put you both on notice for it is important that the work proceed.  Ice Eagle, you will know the appropriate time to begin the work.  Sorrow shall herald it, I’m afraid, but a floral brilliance will initiate you and your journey will commence.”

Humphrey stammered. “It’s — not–is it a rock musical, maybe?  Is it lyrics from your work or –”

“Never!  I only write my own material, and so it will have to be a novel or a screenplay for my acting side.  That’s all there is to it.”

Ice Eagle – Humphtrey Talbott always got a kick out of his magickal name — lookeda t Caw dubiouslyu.  But he shrugged his shoulders in whatever, and looked back at the goddess who had been joined by the Blue God.  The goddess had also turned into a gorgeously radiant male figure for some odd reason.

Dian-y-Glas said, “Yes love.  There will be much reward for this work.  And you will know it well.  But it won’t happen for awhile, and even when you commence, you shall have doubts.  Rest assured that Caw here will come to your aid when the time requires it.”

When the time requires it, eh?  Humphrey mused to himself in the bookstore, tiring of willing some movement of his hand on the overwatched page in front of him.  The script he had already started needed more work.  He was sure his protagonist was too much of a sketch.  To make the fellow more real and therefore a desired role, he had imagined Sandy Stierer in the role, because he was so damn likable.  That also kept him from being Dr. E. Vil-Parodyville.  Really, the world was full of misguided and well-meaning people who wanted to keep things as they are, as destructive and delusionally exclusionary as they were.  The same people with their heads narrowly blinkered to believe that their way of life really was non-negotiable.

Like his ex, Tommy Laidlaw for one, and who of course was the basis for the protagonist’s high-maintenance wife.  Which Humphrey decided to write for Caw’s wife Letty Dyer, who was an actress in her own right.

They had broken up just prior to when Humphrey had hit his own wall at WWM.  THeir breakup was part of the prophesied sorrow he had endured.  The first version of the script was a play, but then after a reading of it with local actors, he had decided it needed to be a screenplay, and that it also needed to be a quartet of scripts on top of it.  He had experienced a burgeoning of material over the winter, even as he overcame cold after cold after cold during the dreadful winter when they had received more snow than anyone could remember.

They still loved each other, he was convinced.  But he also felt it wasn’t a good match in terms of a union.  The two just didn’t have a strong enough relationship so that they could gay-marry.  Their values were just too different.  And he could start going down that path, with all the various things that had led up to last Lammas when Tommy had announced the relationship was done.  And Humphrey agreed.  And then after Tommy left, he called his best friend Allen, and said “We broke up,” and fell to a heap on the floor, heaving like he’d never ever heaved before.

But that was last August.  This was a year later, and September was just around the corner.  And all these thoughts and none of them in particular were swirling around Humphrey’s brain as he tore his eyes from his non-writing and looked out at the room, desperate for some inspiration.  This was such a lovely bookstore, and he had told the proprietor how much he preferred it to some of the other independents out there.  A Clean Well-Lighted Place was a great name for it too.  Leanne had been solicitous of Humphrey, noting that he had brought his journal, and that for the past week he had just sat there immobile for 2 hours each day in the hot sun.  While she felt a sort of concern for him, she was more than happy to help the various customers who came in and shot the breeze or who had a specific book they sought out.

Today, she was helping a mother with her two kids deciding on which of two books on insects they should buy, with one child insistent on the more expensive one while the other child was more interested in the slinkies.  The girl held the one book she liked up before her like a flash card of a blue butterfly dancing around, as the other girl set up a little staircase of books to play with the pink slinky in her palm.

It all seemed like some sort of– well, that’s silly, Humphrey thought to himself as he smiled quizzically and looked elsewhere.

He could feel something was up, a budding need to take some actions that would hopefully expand his life.  What those actions were, he couldn’t say yet.  Harvard Center had something to do with it.  Books had something to offer.

He took a last swig of his coffee and made the decision to beg off for the day.  Muse, Fetch and Heart were all saying something in their absence, so he decided he’d get a move on.  He put the cap on his pen, inserted it into the rings fo the spiral binder and shut the notebook with pen marking the infernal place that hadn’t budged for 8 days now.  Till next time.  He stood up, stretched and took his empty paper coffee cup to Leanne, who would toss it in the trash can behind the cashier’s desk.  And he walked outside into the bright sunlight.

 

Hekate’s Prayer for the Common American

September 1, 2011

I think this will shock some people. There’s a talent a lot of you don’t know I have. Enjoy.  And if you like it, pass it on.  It’d be fun and different for this shaman to have something go viral.

Reconfiguring “Doin’ Damage”

February 20, 2011

My idea is that I’m turning the thin gruel of the emotional, but ungelled play into 3 screenplays centering around each of Barre, Lynn and Chikembe.  I’ve had a minor breakthrough with the Barre script – no big surprise – but I’m eager to see how it opens onto the other two characters’ stories.  Chikembe and Barre don’t have much of anything to do with each other.  In fact, I only see a couple of tangential characters who happen to intersect with both of them.  I’ve also decided to commit to making Barre male and Lynn female – oh well.  I did have this idea that was easily dispensed with of keeping them androgynous.  But I began to understand that the conflict is not theatrical so much as cinematic. Epic, if it would become theater, and I’m not sure I could do a Brecht take on it.  It’s possible, but I’d have to be REALLY into that style of story telling.  Beyond Lehrstuecke, I’m kinda underwhelmed.

Anyway, I’m stoked.  I almost have a first draft of a First Act for the Barre script.  Woo hoo!  Full steam ahead.

Calling forth my tribe

January 23, 2011

Today, I put out the call:  I seek those who are in my tribe, who recognize me as one of their own.  Specifically, I seek those people who are interested in making My Littleton Play a reality. 

For years, I struggled with “my family play.”  Most playwrights have one, where they take that soup of dramatic tension called “The Upbringing” and put it under the lens.  Some of the most famous plays of the Modern period (think O’Neill, Albee, Miller, Williams, Durang, M. Norman, etc.) explore the personal terrain of one’s familial background.

I am no different, but “my family play” came into focus when a certain event took place in my hometown:  The Columbine massacre of April 20, 1999.

I realized that there was another essential character in the proceedings, and that “my family play” was not really the way to look at it.  Instead, it is My Littleton Play, and it depicts aspects of my family’s existence rather pitilessly.  Yet compassionately as well, because I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else as pity sort of makes one think.  Instead it is about how caught up we all were. 

Today, I’m quite happy to report, my family’s members are all in different places, and while I can’t say we’re completely sane, we are much healthier individuals than who we pretended to be while there.  This is a play of you-and-I caught in the masks of pretense, of trying to be something we are not that so does not suit ourselves or anyone else for that matter.

I seek to make this play happen in October of 2011, all things going well.  However, that is a lot to assume.  I have been sensing, as I suspect many other people have, that we are about to enter into quite the most difficult period of humanity’s current iteration.

Today, in meditation, Persephone seemed a little downcast.  The Queen of the Underworld said she was preparing for an influx of above-grounds.  She intimated that she did hope I chose not to be among them, though she knew how tempting it might be to join the streams of the mortal coil off-shuffling dance crew.  I did have the sense that a goodly chunk of these soon-to-be departeds would emerge from 5 digit zipcodes with one or the other 50 states as part of their addresses.

Regardless of how and when, I put out the call.  And I shall assume the role of Max Bialystock of The Producers fame, and wear my producer hat and sell my nourishing balm to all ye who want it.

Who’s gonna join me?

Great Psychic Comb-Out

October 29, 2010

This is to be a series of monologues.  I will have 7 or 9 of these, I think.  I wrote this one the other day, thinking of a friend who I would like to perform it.  (Tony this is you!)

Near the banks of a river, on a msity spring morning.  The river is set between the playing space and the audience.  JANDE PLAYFUL PUMA, a striking Native American fellow, stirs his hand in the water of the river and stares into it.  He stands, silently calls in the elements starting with north (stage right), then east (upstage), south (SL) and finally west, when he turns and faces us.  He studies the audience and enters into a mirthful trance. 

JANDE

I was in a sacred ceremony with some revered brothers.  We didn’t know whether THAT DAY would be a Y2K non-event or some miracle of miracles.  I think we mostly thought it would be the former and we discussed our presupposed disappointments furiously amongst ourselves.  For awhile of course, with all those tea party humble-bumbles, we were wondering if there would even be a yule 2012 to wake up to, if there would be people around.  That beginning of the Beaver Moon.  But we said “Hey, let’s just show up and trust something will happen.”  Because it usually does.  So we found our desired hilltop, and smudged out some sacred space and invited our directional friends and other allies.  Called upon Great Spirit to accoompany us on that the longest night of the year.  And we stripped, and sang, and danced.  And tranced by the gorgeous bonfire.  Longest most beautiful night ever.  The cold and the beautiful darkness, a blanket of black velvet.  And you know, I can’t claim to have noticed anything odd.  That’s the odd thing—how could I have not?  It was so luminous and colorful, and my vantage point was just a deliriously happy Adirondack place.  It didn’t occur to me that the rainbow that had settled over us was something harmonically real, and that the colors were serving a larger purpose.  To me it was just a place of power, one I’d even experienced before.  Kinda, in retrospect.  Derrick Two-Tongue Adder and I were both in what appeared to be the indigo stripe.  I saw Barry and Tonaka in the red stripe ande Jayson and terry were lit with the golden yellow.  Paul Bunny Paws in turquoise by himself, as was lonely Erick Lone Pine in the violet.  We all were smiling goofball smiles, and I don’t know if anyone else felt it—Derrick says he did—but I could sense we were being connected with many others.  Maybe everyone on the planet?  I felt there were people down in Saratoga even who I was going to be fitting in with soon.  I remember saying to Erick then that the colors were vibrating and I was full of manitou.  And he just smiled at me ruefully.  I think he knew what was happening, the only purple rayed one amongst us.  I did find it interesting there were no oranges or greens though.  Not everyone could be there that night, and I wonder where Roderick, Jeremy and Francis went.  Never saw them again.  We just kept on with our trancing and dancing until the sun came up, and I just assumed everyone else had done like I did and fallen back into the trance.  But when the sun did rise and awareness did return, Derrick and I were the only ones left in the camp.  And then it hit us.  The rainbow.  It like combed us into a resonant space.  Every thing around us vibrated and gave off such glorious manitou.  We called out to our brothers, but in our hearts we knew.  They were in other Earths then, just as we were in this one.  We both remembered this one moment where there was a slight flicker after the awareness of the rainbow had descended and it faded and we were into our own little worlds.  It was like a camera went off, and it took 2 or 3 hours to refocus our eyes.  I felt sad that Erick and Paul were by themselves in their different Adirondacks, but was glad that Barry and Tonaka and Jayson and Terry were together in theirs.  And because of that Saratoga thing, I knew there were other people around, so Derrick and I weren’t like Adam and Steve to remake Eden or anything.  In our mediumship, we were able to hail Erick and Paul, though it felt a little painful to be honest.  And we knew that our other brothers vibrated into healthy planets with a different vibe too.  Though we still felt afraid for them.  Heck, I was afraid for me.  And we made our way back to our Dakota and drove back to Glens Falls, where we found 3 whole other people at the Crandall Library.  Makes sense they’d gather there.  5 of us new natives in a planet now new to us, an Eden if we so chose to create it.

And so it was for me on that Yule 2012, The Great Psychic Combout.  There are worlds that were created that fateful Yuletide Day when all sorts of people vanished from 500 odd different personal realities.  Not that many worlds bifurcated that day in 2012, long foretold by the Mayans when people of like resonance would literally vibrate themselves into frequency-appropriate timelines.  There were 500 give or take worlds created with the 7 billion or so inhabitants vibrating on the one planet Earth that day.  Now some of those worlds instantly exploded into violent conflict.  And a good fifty or so blew themselves up with nukes within 2 years.  Other worlds like this one held some wisdom together and while there were only 12 million or souls even on this iteration of Earth,w e were a special 12 million.  We’ve been able to see into the other timelines and have even been able to maintain contact with a few sister Earths that more or less resonate with our  own Turtle Island Alpha Otter.  Yes, there are more than a few prison planets out there.  There’s one that’s just one giant Wal-Mart.  Can you imagine?  We call it the Fart-Fart Loading Dock.  The resonant factors in these will not cotton to us, not that we want them to.  There are some religio-fascist planets adhering to a post-rapture or post-ascension notion.  Depressing places really.  They got what they asked for, only to discover that their idea of heaven was really dull and uninspiring and as much as they are loath to admit it, not violent enough.  Our mediums have been able to discern that they really wanted to see the sinners punished again and again and again, and feel gypped.  Now, there were those who were present to that aspect of their desires and whoever was in charge of this Cosmic Resonance Board – I think it was Coyote Trickster myself – saw to it that they did go to a planet that resonated with them, and yes, they’ve been summarily blasted away due to their own instability and bloodthirstiness.  Them’s the breaks.  Violence in, violence out. Vivos et mortuous.  We here on Turtle Island Alpha Otter have been able to magnetize our joys into being.  Hence our delicious and sexy planet, where not only gaymarriage is celebrated, we’ve done away with all laws having to do with property and the like so that we can have unmediated relationships with ourselves, each other and the standing people, the stone people, the 4 leggeds, 6 leggeds, 8 leggeds, no leggeds, swimming and flying peoples too.  Just the other day, I made love to an alder tree.  Talk about Hard Wood.  My boyfriend Kim Sun has a willow girlfriend—well, there is no accounting for taste.   Some people!  So, I sit here on this side of the river which some of you call “Hudson.”  I speak into the conduit of time so that those with ears to hear will be able to listen.  I send a message from one friendly future if you could but choose it.  And some of you will, some of you must.  I’m sure that I’m liable to meet some of you in year 2020 – year 8 here.  I wait you all with bated breath, lovelies of lovelies.  But remember, you are the ones you have been waiting for.  The work must begin with your own attention to your joy.  And that needs to have started yesterday, I’m afraid.  So look, you’re already behind.  I’d suggest you get to it.

Doin’ Damage: A new play

August 10, 2010

                              DOIN’ DAMAGE

                              ______________________________

                              An Episodic One-Act

Richard Morell

217 4th Street #1

Troy, NY 12180

(518) 441-2876
our_morale@yahoo.com

CAST OF CHARACTERS

LYNN                Mid-40s.  A good partner, non-artistic but mostly supportive of BARRE, but a tad fearful and controlling.

BARRE               Mid-40s.  Shut-down artist with a dayjob.  Constantly thinks of suicide.

DAVE                Mid-60s.  BARRE’S guide from another dimension.  An old guy in a fishing hat, not really talkative.

ANDRYNS             Neotribal fellow, early 20s.  Both cynical and naïve.  Earnestly hopeful.

CHANTAL-CORVA       A classic curmudgeon crone in her late 40s, early 50s.

VARIOUS OTHER FIGURES

The action takes place in the present, in and around LYNN & BARRE’S house, with forays into the woods.

NOTE ABOUT CASTING:  Gender isn’t all that relevant.  Whoever reads best for the parts, that’s what’s meant to be.

                              SCENE ONE:

SETTING AND AT RISE:          LYNN & BARRE’S backyard.  It is a vigorous spring day.  LYNN, mid-40s and quite practical and methodical, stands near the doorway to the house, while BARRE, late 40s, a blocked artist who subsists through the day-to-day (a shell), mopes up a ladder.

LYNN:  You are going to drive me crazy.

BARRE:  I told you that I—

LYNN:  I don’t want to hear any more of this!

BARRE:  But I—

LYNN:  No.  No!  It’s –this is not the time.

BARRE:  That’s not what you said this morning.

LYNN:  Well, I know.  But I didn’t know what was really going on then.

BARRE:  What was going on – what are you talking about?

LYNN:  You’re in avoidance.  I know how this goes.

BARRE:  Oh, really.

LYNN:  I know what you really need to be doing.  And you know, I’ve been blind.  I have been selfish.  I want to have you do the fix=it jobs, and the housekeeping…

BARRE:  So why are you getting in my face?  That’s what I’m doing right now, trying to fix the drain on the shed.

LYNN:  It’ll just have to wait.

BARRE:  Huh?  Not two hours ago you said it was an eyesore.  “The Levines keep grousin’ about when are you going to fix that monster up.”

LYNN:  I do not sound like that.  Doesn’t matter.  You’re not doing you job.

BARRE:  Well, who is it that’s stopping me, Lynn?

LYNN:  A ha!  You do have a resentment.

(Confused, BARRE peers at LYNN, questioning sanity)

You’re confused now?

BARRE:  I just want to climb up this ladder and reattach –

LYNN:  And run away from your journal!

BARRE (taken aback):  Oh!

LYNN:  Yes!  Oh.  You’ve been getting more and more difficult, harder to reach, you know.

BARRE:  Well, what the hell am I supposed to do?  There are all those things that need to get done, the tiling of the front hall, the swale between us and the Levines, this –

LYNN:  Like your short story collection?  And your stalled play projects?  What of those?  Barre, I’m sorry I’ve been so much of a nag.  All the things I ask are important for you own good.  Still, I’m keeping you from you, from your work.

BARRE:  What’s all this really about?  You want something from me. 

LYNN:  I want something for you, hon.  Not from you.  I’ve noticed you’ve not said anything about your writing for weeks.

BARRE:  You noticed, huh?

LYNN:  It’s come across in little gestures, little picky things.  Little annoyances and angers that have been popping up more frequently.  Like forgetting the birthday card.

BARRE:  That was just a senior moment.  And Thorn got over it fine.

LYNN:  And the bathroom installation?  What about that?  We discussed the colors, the style of vanity and everything.

BARRE:  I was getting what you wanted.  You said that you wanted a cream colored –

LYNN:  No, Kelly Levine wanted a cream colored vanity, for her own bathroom.  I thought I was explicit about the rose colored one.  How you could screw that up . . . Well, no matter.

BARRE:  Work’s been stressful.

LYNN:  Barre, something’s building in you.  The pressures, the quiet emotions – it’s hard to be around.  I don’t know what to say to you.  It hit me this morning during our tiff that I’m part of it.  And you’re using me to run away from your work.

BARRE:  That’s crazy. Selfish, Lynn.

LYNN:  So when was the last time you showed up to it?

BARRE:  Three days ago.

LYNN:  Ha!  You can do better than that.

BARRE:  I thought of it 3 days ago.

LYNN:  You’re thinking about “The Boy Near the Falls” all the time.  Don’t tell me you only thought about it 3 days ago.

BARRE:  What brought this on?  What was so different about today’s disagreement?

LYNN:  Felt phoned in.  Felt like you’ve given up.  Didn’t have any of the juice of some of our other ones from a few months ago.  You’ve been slowly – I’ve been worried, Barre.

BARRE:  This is all – You really –

LYNN:  The job’s grinding you down with all this work and no help.  The Neighborhood Association takes more and more of your time, and then there’s your sister with her incessant needs.  I pile it on too.

BARRE:  You need things done.  You’re always complaining that I don’t pull my weight, that I don’t –

LYNN:  That you don’t clean up after yourself.  Well, you don’t, it’s true, and I try to help.  Don’t mean to judge, though I guess I’ve done so.  Still, when you’ve got clutter outside, something’s clogging you up inside.  And I got it today.  It was a complete accident –

BARRE:  What accident?

LYNN:  I didn’t mean to open up one of your files – but why did you name it Lynnwood?

BARRE:  What?  Files?  Oh, Lynnwood, oh…

LYNN:  You want to check out.  You want to hurt yourself.  I can see it in your eyes.

BARRE:  Fuckin’ A!

LYNN:  What was that supposed to do to me, Barre?  Lynnwood.  Lynn would, what?

BARRE:  You shouldn’t have read it.  I shouldn’t have saved – well, …

LYNN:  You know I don’t go into your private directories.  You wanted to be found.

BARRE:  I don’t know how much more I can take.  I feel so out of place.  I shapeshift so well, I can fit in, but I get so caught up in the cuntnoise.  It’s not me.  I didn’t sign up for this.  When I went to G School – misguided youngster I was – I just – well, I wanted it so badly.  I’ve let myself be swindled into being a debt slave.  I just – it wears on me.  I’ve been at this vEmpire crap for so long.  I keep trying to kill this dream, kill this artist child that mewls and pesters and pulls at me.  It just . . . So I have this pressure.  And these responsibilities.  And the house and the Nabe . . . So. Something’s got to give.  I don’t write. Something’s got to give. Something’s got to give.  I don’t write.  I’m a zombie.  I don’t do my . . .

LYNN:  Your work.  Your joy.  Your sacred obligation.

BARRE:  Fine way to make me feel better.  No one wants to hear what I have to say. 

LYNN:  So you reject yourself before anyone else will.  Which takes its toll, too, and it keeps going and going.

BARRE:  I’d be better off dead.

LYNN:  No, Barre.  You kill yourself, people would never forgive you.  Are you beyond caring about that/

BARRE:  I’m getting there.  So. Is this.

[LYNN:  (unspoken, unvoiced, only in the pause: – “Is this?”)]

BARRE:  An intervention?

LYNN:  What do you mean?

BARRE:  I mean where someone comes in and escorts me to a happy place.

LYNN:  Do you want that?

BARRE (sputters):  p-p — k-k— ub – [gasp]

LYNN:  Barre! Don’t scare me like this!

BARRE:  Didn’t you think this through?

LYNN:  Think what through?

BARRE:  What the hell?  I’ve gotta get – GAAAAAH!

(BARRE runs off.)

LYNN:  Barre?  Barre, where are you going?

(LYNN follows BARRE off.)

Barre, talk to me!  What are you planning?  Barre?  Where – don’t run away from me!  Barre!  Barre!

(Sound of a car starting up and driving away.  LYNN returns, frantic, cellphone in hand.)

Hello, Jackie?  Barre’s acting weird now.  I think I really screwed this up.  You know what we spoke of earlier – right, you were right.  I thought I could – Barre just left.  Where to, I – thanks.  Please Jackie.  Please get to – I don’t’ to think that .  Barre could possibly – thanks, Jackie. 

(Clicks it shut.)

What in Jesus’ name have I done?

                              SCENE TWO:

AT RISE:                      On the beach by a lake, BARRE sits with his multiversic guide DAVE, who appears as an older guy dressed for a fishing trip.

BARRE:  I bet everyone knows but they don’t want to know.  Coworkers, neighbors.  Friends.  People in the congregation.  Desperation can be smelled, you know.  Sensed.  They sense it but not necessarily on me.  They don’t think it’s me, because I seem so calm.  They don’t know where it comes from, and they don’t want to know.  They can conveniently forget they sense this when I’m around.  Pretend.  I don’t have a violent streak, but do they really know?  I don’t think I’d go postal at the office, or pull a Virginia Tech at the Nabe Association.  I don’t know what’s going on with me.  Maybe I’m just fooling myself.

(DAVE casts a reel.  Sees where it leads, reels it back in.)

Oh, I hate that I don’t want to hurt someone else.  That I would rather hurt myself.  How screwed up is that?  I was all ready to chop . . . But I guess Lynn felt something.  Maybe something had changed.  Maybe I tipped my hand.  How did I save a file like that?  Lynnwood.  I called it Lynnwood.  Lynn would.  Heh. Lynn. Would. What?

(DAVE casts a reel.  Sees where it leads, reels it back in.)

Well, Lynn can’t help me with what’s going on.  It hurts to be me right now.  Artist as Job.  Like Mr. God’s devotion, I feel unwanted in this world, wanted for all the wrong reasons.  Job didn’t have to have a job.  Maybe I should start pronouncing that word the Biblical fashion.  Working a Job.  Take this Job and shove it.  Heh heh.  A g.d. Job’s got me.  By the short-hairs.  I feel so . . . Desperate.

(DAVE casts a reel.)

DAVE:  Had enough yet?

BARRE:  Yes.  For a long while. 

DAVE:  Killing yourself’s kind of extreme.

BARRE:  I don’t think I have any choices that aren’t extreme.  I certainly can’t go on this way.  I just . . . won’t.

DAVE:  No one says you have to.  Of course, no one says you have to keep on living either.

BARRE:  I’m at the jumping off point.

DAVE:  Yep.  Sounds like that at least.  Ope!

(He catches something.  Starts to reel the line in with a struggle.)

BARRE:  Looks like you caught something there.  Dave, I just don’t know anymore.  No one to turn to either.  And this late date.

(DAVE reels in… a boot.)

Oh, that’s disappointing.

DAVE:  Not at all.  Things that get fished out of the river are always treasures.

BARRE:  Charitable.

DAVE:  Mysteries.  This boot has a history.  What do you suppose that is, now?

BARRE:  It’s a Timberland.  One of those nice workboots, not too worn, not too new.  Probably some drunk electrical lineman or construction worker, passed out and a buddy decided to play a joke, throw it in the river.

DAVE:  Just because?  Huh.  Could be that the fellow didn’t mean to lose his boot.  Wind or a kid knocked it into the water and it floated away before he knew what happened.

BARRE:  This is all speculation.

DAVE:  Isn’t that what you do though?  When you sit at the desk and write?

BARRE:  Some.  With the triple crisis, I –

DAVE:  You know what you have to do.  Triple crisis or no.

BARRE:  I still can’t go on the way I’ve been going.  Maybe I should look into a medical procedure.

DAVE:  Heh!  Lobotomy’s just a living death.  You’ll be a goodfernuthin’ zombie you do that.

BARRE:  Maybe some people want to be a zombie.

DAVE:  Sure they do.  Ones who don’t know any better.  Barre, you’re a canary in this here coalmine called civilization.  It’s killing you, sure.  But – here’s the thing.  You can fly away.  You’re not in a cage.  You’re not a captive, there just to be monitored as a harbinger of potential doom.

BARRE:  I’ve already croaked and died.

DAVE:  Oh, come on, man!  Look I’m talking to across from the other side of things, aren’t I?  There’s more to the mystery of this time than you know.

(DAVE studies the boot.  Reaches into it. Frowns. Pulls out a little vial, a note inside it.)

Heh.  Well, don’t that beat all.

BARRE:  A message in a bottle.  This is freaksome strange, Spock.

DAVE:  I’ve seen weirder.  Why don’t you open this up and read it?

BARRE:  You fished it out.

DAVE:  I think it’s for you.

BARRE: You afraid of it?

DAVE:  Are you?  Well, I can throw it back—

BARRE:  Uh –

DAVE:  All right.

BARRE:  Oh, give it to me already.

(DAVE hands the vial to BARRE, who unfurls it.)

“Strength is knowing when to fall apart.”

DAVE:  Huh?  Say that again.

BARRE:  Strength is knowing when to fall apart.

DAVE:  Well, then.  Guess I ought to have tossed that into the drink.  Isn’t that the most useless thing -?

BARRE:  I think … ON some level, it’s just what I needed to hear.  I’m not supposed to be strong when I need to fall down and weep like a baby.  I want to just go into the woods and cry and cry ntil I’m all cried out.

DAVE:  So what’s stopping you?

BARRE:  What in my life encourages me to step towards sanity?  The same person in the madness looks like the craziest to everyone else.

DAVE:  Ain’t that the truth.  So you feel a need to stay insane then Barre?

BARRE:  I don’t know how to dive into the unknown.

DAVE:  Well, what the hell is killing yourself if not the ultimate dive into oblivion?  Son, if you only have extreme choices as you say, go towards the one that gives you the most life.

BARRE:  But I’m scared.

DAVE:  Think I give a damn?

BARRE:  Yeah, since when has that happened?  Sorry.

DAVE:  Mind your manners, now.  It’s about showing up.  This is one of those odd instances my friend, where you have to vanish the scene in order to show up to yourself.

BARRE:  Can I really just … walk away?

DAVE:  Take a longer view.  What do you really have?  Your house?  Owned by the bank.  They grace you with the illusion that you’re a properly propertied gentleman.  You get the privilege of paying the mortgage.  Your sick-care is paid for in part by the Job that would most contribute to your even having to partake of said sick-care.  Your reputation in the workaday world doesn’t go any further than the doors of the 6th floor of the building that houses your workplace.  Except of course for the HR office on the 7th floor, and there you might as well be anonymous for all the good it does.

BARRE:  There’s Lynn, who cares about me.

DAVE:  More than you know.  But even there, Barre, there’s no transparency.  You can’t break through another’s denial.  Lynn’s got the blanket up around the ears.  Can’t shove it off without killing your love.

BARRE:  Well, I’m mad at Lynn anyway.  Could have used an honest-to-God intervention.

DAVE:  Eh.  This has been as much about his/her awareness as it is yours.  Kiddo, it’s the oddest of times, except for what comes tomorrow.  You watch others from a distance whose circumstances are quite the contrast to yours, yet you fail to realize whether its Thailand or Iraq, Haiti or New Orleans, California or Manhattan that you’ve got the same need.  To end this madness.  Those places have folks are up against it.  Yours is too, if not as pointedly.  Your pain is as real, though.  Connected to theirs. In fact, it’s at root the same as theirs.  You, we are all one.

BARRE:  Oh, I have a cushy life.  “I have a lot to be grateful for.”

DAVE:  And you don’t value all the crap-chkes in the slightest.

BARRE:  No.  Gosh. Do I have what it takes to make the decision?  To really just walk away?

DAVE:  You’ve got to serve your best and brightest possible self, Barre.  I’ve known you all this time, and I’ve given you some guidance on major decisions –

BARRE:  Like marrying Lynn for example.  Don’t think I haven’t forgotten.

DAVE:  This is just a question of surrender.  That’s all.

(BARRE looks at the message.  Eats it.)

There you go! Digest that puppy.

BARRE:  A bit literal.  But that’s the kid in me.

DAVE:  Save your life, my friend.  Save that kid.  Wants that life force and will just drink it all in.

(DAVE grins broadly at BARRE, who shrugs his shoulders with a small smile, turns to leave.  DAVE puts the boot on his hand, and “kicks” BARRE’s behind with it.)

That’s it!  Kick start that fall into grace!

BARRE:  Old man!

(BARRE exits.)

DAVE:  That’s the way, sure is, sure is.

                              SCENE THREE

                              In their Kitchen.  LYNN sits at the table, BARRE stands apart, back to LYNN.

LYNN:  You have to go back.

BARRE:  No.

LYNN:  Listen to reason.

BARRE:  Reason?  Might as well jump off the building then.  There’s more to life than reason.

LYNN:  This is suicide too.

BARRE:  I’m not so sure.

LYNN:  Well, maybe I am.  Did you ever think of that?  Huh?  Did you ever think of me?

BARRE:  I can’t go back.  Stick a fork in me.

LYNN:  Stick a knife in you.

BARRE:  I wouldn’t fight you—this shitty world.

LYNN:  They say people shouldn’t make decisions when they’re depressed.

BARRE:  Try telling that to the nation, then.  Maybe we can stop the madness with a general strike.

LYNN:  This isn’t like you.

BARRE:  You don’t know what I’m like.

LYNN:  I certainly thought I did.  I should have you committed.

BARRE:  You don’t have the courage.  You were headed there before, but you didn’t plan it out.  I even perked up at the thought.  At last I’ll get some help.  At last someone sees what’s going on.  Quite boneheaded of you, to confront me without a plan.

LYNN:  I didn’t realize how far gone – and I was trying to help you!

BARRE:  Were you now?

LYNN:  I’m on your side, you know.

BARRE:  You’re on the side of the comfortable life.  The comfortable lie.

LYNN:  Oh, so I’m a liar, huh?  When have I lied to you?

BARRE:  Not to me, baby.  The Comfortable Lie is osmosis.  All this, this vapor, this toxic fume-age—it’s all a lie.  The Black Iron Prison.

LYNN:  All what?

BARRE:  Whatcha got?  Jobs, career, status.  Bank accounts.  Social Security.  Healthcare – or strike that! Sick-care.  Drugs.  Booze. Sugar. Air Conditioning.

LYNN:  I don’t –

BARRE:  Countries, gasoline, highways.  Jets. Jetsetting. Top 40.  The Oscars, Miss America, the Gap, Coca-fuckin’-cola, the Mormons, Vampires — oh, that’s redundant, sorry — Hollywood.  Television, cancer, cigarettes, fundamentalism, Glamour magazine, GQ, elections, the military—

LYNN:  It’s just a list.  Nothing you can do about any of it.

BARRE:  Yes, that’s right.  Let’s put it all up for bid, with the toxic debts, and may the lowest bidder collect all the booty, all the plastic, all the poor excuses for souls that we civilized folk have squandered.  Shall I keep going?  Or have I made myself clear.

LYNN:  You get something out of all this too.  Think you’re better than, better than –

BARRE:  Who?  Better? Than who?  You?  That’s certainly not true.  Better than this cuntnoise certainly.  Death to the necronomy, long live the necronomy.

LYNN:  You have to make allowances –

BARRE:  Yeah?  I’d rather die.  Don’t forget, I’m willing to back that up.

LYNN:  I can’t win.

BARRE:  That’s the point, that’s the problem.  I can’t win either.  It’s set up for lose-lose bigger-lose biggest.  Unless you walk away.  That’s the pathway.

LYNN:  What did I do to deserve this?  Can you tell me?

BARRE:  You keep doing that.  You keep making this about you, what you did, how you can control this.  You, you, you.  There’s no thought of anything but your fear, the big Fuck Everything and Retrench. 

LYNN:  Yes, I am afraid.  You’re scaring me.

BARRE:  That can’t be avoided.  It’s all coming apart at the seams anyway.  I’m sure I won’t have a job come May.  April even.

LYNN:  Well, can’t you at least wait that long?

BARRE:  Has to be now.  And I have to accept whatever you choose to do.

LYNN:  So, you’re just going to up and quit that job?  Where the boss loves you-

BARRE:  That’s totally not true.  Ange loves that I do all this work, that I lose myself in it and don’t piss anyone off, all the while seething and thinking how I’d love to make a DIY guillotine and chopping off my own head.

LYNN:  I don’t know what to say to any of this.

BARRE:  OK.  Here’s what you do.  You have good friends.  Shelly, Mavor, Tris.  You reach out tot them, get support.

LYNN:  Oh, you think I can talk to any of them, now?  Do you?

BARRE:  Well, there’s your brother and sister, I suppose.

LYNN:  They’ll come and hunt you down for leaving a great job.

BARRE:  Any way you look at it, hon, the job is GONE.  The question is about what you will want to do afterwards.  Honey, I’m at peace with this decision.

LYNN:  What about retirement – Social Security –

BARRE:  Bargaining now, are you?  Denial, then anger.  Good sign.

LYNN:  Don’t you be my therapist.  That’s just arrogance.

BARRE:  You’re right.  My apologies.  I’m just acknowledging the transition.

LYNN:  This is not like that.  You’re being willful.

BARRE:  50 years old’s a good time for willful.

LYNN:  The economy will crush us to pulp.

BARRE:  It’s going off the rails, if you haven’t noticed, Lynn.  You won’t listen to me –

LYNN:  I see no evidence of that.

BARRE:  We need to steel ourselves.  It’s not going to be comfortable after awhile.

LYNN:  So we’re going to be cave people again?  In skins and with clubs?

BARRE:  No.  That’s probably 100 years out.

LYNN:  You’re laughing at me.  Great.  You’re laughing at me.

BARRE:  Trying to ride the waves with you, Lynn.  Ease up!  Have some fun.

LYNN:  You’re causing my life to fall apart – our lives to fall part, and you tell me to have fun?  The living end, that’s what you are.

BARRE:  If this is how you do it, that’s fine too.  But do you see here?  How this is different than other fights we’ve had?

LYNN:  It’s not any different.

BARRE:  Sure about that?  OK.  Whatever.  You’re. In con.
Troll.

LYNN:  If I was in control, you’d be going back to work tomorrow.

BARRE:  OK, except for that, you’re in control.

LYNN:  Crazy.  This is crazy, you’re crazy.

BARRE:  Sure.  Whatever you say.

LYNN:  I didn’t want you to agree with me about that.

BARRE:  It’s hard to know crazy from sane.  This day and age, it’s not self-evident.

LYNN:  Of course you don’t think you’re crazy.  That’s how crazy you are.

BARRE:  A discord exists between the consensus trance and my views.  Whichever part you ally with, the other will appear totally nuts.  So, that’s where it is, Lynn.  I’ve made my choice.  I’m not going back.

LYNN:  This is a midlife crisis.

BARRE:  Accident of timing is all.  I know you can pretend until the chickens disappear. Then the geese, the ducks, even the pigeons.  But eventually once all the birds are gone, there’s nothing left but your own viewpoint.

LYNN:  I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

BARRE:  Give it time.  I’ve got to give you time to adjust.  In the meantime, I’ve arranged to stay with Willow and SunBear.

LYNN:  Brother Sun and Sister Moony-toons?  Yeah, they’ll have you over.  Sure, stay as long as you like.

BARRE:  I’ve got to leave you with your feelings.  Can’t help you much there, but we will have a lot to talk about.

LYNN:  Barre?

(BARRE stands near LYNN.)

BARRE:  Yes?

(LYNN slaps him, hard.)

LYNN:  You fucker.  You’re fuckin’ me up!

(BARRE nods head, turns and leaves.)

So help me God.  So help me.  God!

                              “PHONE CALL BREAK”

                              IN DARKNESS.  Phone rings 4 times. 

BARRE’S VOICE (singing):  “It’s the End of the World as we Know It.
It’s the End of the World as we Know It.
It’s the End of the World as we Know It.
And I fee fine…”  Hope you do to as TSHTF!  It’s your doom.  Leave a message.

(BEEP, followed by silence.)

ANGE’S VOICE:  Um … Barre, it’s Ange, I – well, your greeting leaves me at a loss.  I – don’t know what to say.  And your email to me and C. J. caught us off guard.  We – we’re concerned about you.  We wish you’d reconsider.  But I fear you – well . . . Huh.  I guess we’ll have to make other arrangements.  Sure picked a fine time, asshole.

(CLICK.  Phone rings 4x.  Same routine.)

PRAY-PRAY’S VOICE:  Um . . . Whoa.  Do I have the right number?  Barre?  This here’s Pray-Pray, and I didn’t see you at the HOA last night.  Uh, this is pretty serious – if you – are you all right there?  Um . . . listen, we’ve heard some talk – did you really up and quit your job?  I don’t think we’re going to be able to keep you on as Social Chair.  Oh, well.  Better find somethin’ soon, bub . . . Or . . . well.

(CLICK.  Phone rings 4x.  Same routine.)

WOMAN’S VOICE:  Hello, Barre?  Lynn?  This is Vivian.  Where’s my son?  What’s all this I hear, you quit your job?  Lord almighty son, what are you thinking?  Did you win the lottery?  Land something better?  You sure better have, otherwise . . . Call your mother.  I’m worried.

(CLICK.  Phone rings 4x.  Same routine.)

MAN’S VOICE:  What an – interesting and provocative voicemail message.  I take it I’ve reached Barry Rinaldi – or is it Barré Rinaldi?  I’m Jake Frakes, assistant to Michael Traynor at Banden-Hopes Agency.  I’m calling regarding the strange script you sent us.  It’s . . . Well, it’s got some of us talking – and not all of it’s favorable, mind you.  It’s not so much for Mr. Traynor that I’ve been asked to call you, but because some of us have a few questions for you – informally, you know.  It seems you might be a kindred spirit?  We can be reached at 310-310-3100 extension 3131.  Again, please call,, Mr. or Ms. Rinaldi.  We should talk.  Seriously.  Goodbye.

                              SCENE FIVE

                              Outside a tent in the woods.  LYNN sits in a lawn chair while BARRE sets a nearby picnic table for a meal.

BARRE:  Yeah, I had a nice chat with some people.  They wished me luck.

LYNN:  So it didn’t pan out.

BARRE:  No, not in the least.  People are worried everywhere.  In comparison to some places, we don’t have it half bad up here in the Northeast.

LYNN:  Says someone living in a tent on someone else’s land.

BARRE:  There is that.

LYNN:  What sort of grub do you have for a civilized person, O Bear of the Woods?

BARRE:  Can you smell it?  Cooking on that fire?

LYNN:  It smells fine.  What is it?  Squirrel? Chipmunk? Vole?

BARRE:  Actually, elk.  No, I didn’t bag it myself.  Stop your out-buggin’ eyes.

LYNN (They are):  They’re not buggin’!  You don’t hunt.  Or do you now?

BARRE:  Actually, I’ve caught rabbits, a turkey buzzard, a porcupine—but I set her free.  To difficult to deal with for the return.  I could have once had an otter, but they’re just too sacred for me for some reason.  Bad karma.

LYNN:  Listen to you.  I’d think beggars can’t be choosers.

BARRE:  It may come to that.

LYNN:  So if you didn’t bag it, where’d the elk meat come from?

BARRE:  Fellow thought it was a moose.  Told me he was ecstatic, until he really looked at the animal and realized his mistake. 

LYNN:  I wouldn’t know the difference being citified, but a hunter?  Didn’t he know the difference?

BARRE:  I didn’t say anything, just commiserated with him.  Looked like Mr. Magoo.  Anyway, he sold it to me for a small sum.

LYNN:  Got anything left?

BARRE:  Oh, I’m not at liberty to divulge that information.  Things have changed.

LYNN:  Tell me about it. Barre, I can’t see how you can go on like this.  But you chucked us all and made the choice.  Oh, here we go.  I know what that wince means.

BARRE:  And I meant for you to see it.

LYNN:  Fine.  Anyway, I’ve met someone.

BARRE:  Well.  That’s a relief.

LYNN:  A relief? A RELIEF!?? What, did you never love me?

BARRE:  Of course, Lynn, I still do.  But I’m changing.  We’re separate now, at least for the time being.  So tell me about this person.

LYNN:  Chikembe is a stockbroker with Plowman Graves D.K.

BARRE:  D.K.?  What’s that.

LYNN:  “Inc.” in Tieganese, I guess.

BARRE:  Chikembe? African?

LYNN:  Mm.  We seem to be on the same wavelength.

BARRE:  I hope Chikembe makes you happy.  I think the steaks are about done.  And I’ve got some Mountain Mushrooms – don’t worry, not poisonous.  I’ve had good training.  And a salad of wild greens, with nuts and berries.  Also corn, grown over in a neighbor’s patch.  The Duncans, I’ll introduce you sometime.

LYNN:  Great.  How do you keep this elk meat? 

BARRE:  Oh, we all help each other out up here.  There’s a place for you if you want. Always. But I understand.

LYNN:  Sounds like a cult.

BARRE:  Oh, Lynn…  You shouldn’t speak about cult into you realize what cults you yourself are part of.  We all go our own way, but we recognize we can’t go it alone.  Not survivalists or Revelations Ravers.  Or a commune.  The mere sprouting of a community, that’s what’s happening here.  Personalities coming together, and working it out.  Rough edges, quirks, you know.

LYNN:  You are not the same person.  Who am I talking to?

BARRE:  I have you to thank.  I’m grateful at your botched intervention.  Saved me from jumping off the workplace building.

LYNN:  And opened up the path for a living death.

BARRE:  This is transitional.  Just the advance guard of folks who want another way.  Still, to your place now.  A stockbroker!  Mostly good, I’d say.  But …

LYNN:  Don’t.  My friends are already telling me to run the other way.  Afraid for pitchforks and torches.  Even Chikembe has said as much.  Gallows humor, I guess.

BARRE:  Gallows?  Hmm.  Why gallows exactly?

LYNN:  I don’t know.  The steaks smell . . . different.

BARRE:  It is a different aroma, isn’t it?  And sorry, elk’s gamey.  Critters who live in the bosom of God usually are.

LYNN:  They almost done?

BARRE:  A few more minutes. So.

LYNN:  So.

(They contemplate the silence.)

I don’t understand how people snap like this.

BARRE:  Snap, huh.  Hmm.

LYNN:  Yes, snap.  What’s behind it?  Because you can’t get anyone to take your work seriously?  Though maybe you don’t either since I never saw you try and put it up yourself.  Though I guess that would be –

BARRE:  My ambitions have had to change, Lynn.  I don’t claim to know when it started.  Except that I came to realize I bought into a scam.  The Lucky Artist MegaSweepstakes Con Game.™  All I ever had to show for it was a diploma and tens of thousand dollars of debt-servitude.

LYNN:  I thought your therapy addressed that.

BARRE:  It did.  I have.  And I walked away from it finally.  When I had the strength.

LYNN:  That why you ditched the cell? So you could duck the calls?

BARRE:  No, not particularly.  Aside from you and Mom, and a couple of other folks, I don’t want to hear from most people.

LYNN:  Because now I’m the one getting those calls if you must know.

BARRE:  And what do you tell them?

LYNN:  What am I supposed to say?  I mutter something, whatever I feel like.

BARRE:  Good.

LYNN:  Well, I’m glad you’re satisfied.

BARRE:  Isn’t it a glorious day?

LYNN:  Clouds threatening rain?  Glorious indeed.

BARRE:  Smell the ozone.

LYNN:  Barre, you’re breaking my heart.  You’ve descended into destitution.  How could you let this happen?  This – this is no life.

BARRE:  Lynnza, I can’t express it to you.  We’re trying to speak across a chasm of perspective.  I know where you are – was there for a really long time, just another inmate-guard in the Black Iron Prison.  And I just couldn’t continue.  I can’t talk to you in your sleep anymore.

LYNN:  I will not indulge you with your Matrix speak.  Admit it, Barre. Matrix!

BARRE:  Factors, Lynn. Just factors.  Little dots.  Get connected by people like me.  I seek it out.  I look insane to people like you, yes.  You want to keep things just so.  But the whole ball of twine’s unraveling, and you and your African stockbroker and me and everyone else is going to be thrown this way and that –

LYNN:  I’m so glad you avoid the Revelations Ranters, Jeremiah.

BARRE:  Touché.  I’m no Jeremiah, nor a Cassandra.  Just a lowly grasshopper in between the fragile butterfly and the dung beetle.

LYNN:  Insects, now!  Insects, Barre?

BARRE:  Language, Lynn. Poetry, the ineffable.  We don’t even know one one-hundredth of our power.  And it’s time we reconnect with it.  You put it off.  Makes sense, I suppose. For the moment.  Until it doesn’t.

LYNN:  You should know the County Sheriff’s going to come a callin’ for you.

BARRE:  Whatever.

LYNN:  I’m talking jail, and you say “whatever?”  Jail doesn’t scare you?

BARRE:  3 Hots and a Cot?  I hear jail has some of the nicest people.

LYNN:  You never watched Oz I can tell.

BARRE:  Oh, there are the crazies, of course.  You figure out who they are quick enough.  But I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve met who got through it with some wisdom to spare.  Sure, it’s not great — your time’s not your own, lousy living conditions and all.  But there are worse things.  Like being a stockbroker.  Or, my god, dating one!

LYNN:  Ha. Ha. Ha.

BARRE:  So, County Sheriff may come for tea.  He’s got a place.  I’ll fix her up some grub same as you.

LYNN:  I will never get this . . . person here, as long as I live.

BARRE:  Think the steaks are ready.

LYNN:  Fine. Let’s see what this elk business is all about.

BARRE:  Yep.  Eating elk.  Next best thing to joining the Elks.

LYNN:  I care not to pursue where that might lead.

                              SCENE SIX:

                              IN DARKNESS, an image of a Galaxy appears to hover on the back wall

STAR GODDESS (voiceover):  Burbling up from the bottomless depths, I send messages.  Constantly birthing, constantly creating.  Yes, I destroy too.  Sometimes I don’t care about how valuable an individual or even an entire species is to a system.  I’m the great force, underlying all creation, all destruction.  I am God, as surely as I created the universe at the beginning, and I am in all things, of all things.  All things are of me, in me.  All things are me.  Much change occurs on the third planet from a start called “the Sun” by many on that orb.  The easy joy of the planet herself – she can give generously, she takes away as is her desire, her need.  An abundance exists for those with wisdom enough to behold it.  Heaven is not a place in the future, after the death has taken hold.  It is no vapor dream for beyond one’s mortal coil.  It is the life fully embraced and lived to its fullest.

                              Lights rise.  ANDRYNS, a young man dressed part Target, part neo-indigenous, stands on a platform with CORVA-CRONE, an older strangely dressed woman.  She plays a drum, while he strums a guitar.  2 screen stage left and right.  The Duo play their instruments and sing:

ANDRYNS/CORVA-CRONE

THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE

The man coulda known what hit him,
back in those early fateful days
at the beginning of the millennium
before sparks started up the blaze.

And the woman working in cubicle
Keeping nosed locked into screen
who ignored the tremors, the prickle
who got lost in betwixt, between

See the waves do crash
See the first that bash
See the banksters flee
The glee MZB
as they shoot their guns
at their chosen ones
that means you and I
would get cast aside.

Children of stressed out boomers
gave good witness to all the flaws
of the culture of abscessed tumors
locked in strangely iron laws

They did choose to put their energies
into joy, play and nature’s grace
and deprived the vEmpire their surges
quickened thuggerment’s death race.

Yes, they tried to force
plans with no remorse
inculcating fear
into those so dear,
backfire biggest time
red-handed their crimes
did incinerate
the most reprobate.

(As they sing this song, once or twice, we see over on the screen, a title card “LYNN & CHIKEMBE, A HOME MOVIE” appears. What follows is the screenplay of the film.

IN A PARK

LYNN & CHIKEMBE, a handsome, well-dressed professional African fellow, walk down a tree-lined lane.  Romantic.

THEY pass out of frame, and the camera pans down the walk where a fire can be seen in the near distance.

AT AN OUTDOOR MALL

They eat ice cream as they window shop.  The camera abruptly stops filming right when TWO PICKET SIGNS come into view – “Down with MALLCO MANAGEMENT” and “FAIR PAY, FAIR PLAY, FAIR SAY!”

IN A NEW HOUSE

They move in.  MOVERS take in all sorts of objects and boxes from their various lives into the house.  Lynn waves hello and takes in a lamp. 

Two Movers move in a couch.  Chikembe guides them, but one of the movers loses his handling.  The couch slides toward the camera, which loses the image and careens wildly elsewhere.

Footage of grass up close.  Then of grass getting a distance.  Then we see a ruined neighborhood, just for a quick moment: boarded up buildings and ruins.  Armed SECURITY OFFICERS with submachine-guns.

CHIKEMBE’s smiling face.  A little wild, perhaps angry.

ON AN AIRFIELD

Lynn and Chikembe stand and wave, outside a small jet with a smiling captain.  They board.

The plane takes off as missiles shoot up behind the plane.

(On the stage right screen, the following series of images plays, rendered as if they were scenes from a storybook Passion of Christ.)

BARRE warms hands over a barrel near a HOMELESS COUPLE.

GENERIC WHITE PROFESSIONAL points at spot as BARRE holds a mop.

TWO COPS with flashlights, BARRE inside a Cutaway Pipe.

SUBURBAN TATTOO PEOPLE OF WAL-MART point in unison behind BARREE who proudly struts away from them.

BARRE sitting peacefully under a tree, a medicine wheel set up around the scene.

BARRE staring wide-eyed at a bear on hind legs.

BARRE and the BEAR snuggled together by the tree.

BARRE and a tribe of Neotribals, post national folk.  Home at last.

                              SCENE SEVEN:

                              A clearing in a forest.  BARRE helps ANDRYNS with a straw bale wall.

ANDRYNS:  I don’t think they’re thinking it through though.

BARRE:  No, they’re not.  The towers do suck, granted.  But we need them still.

ANDRYNS:  They do hurt the wilderness, it’s true.  You can see the radiation’s effects.  Heck sometimes I think I can even see the radiation itself!  But we can’t act rashly because—

BARRE:  I know, Andryns, I know.  I’m with you.

ANDRYNS:  Are you?

BARRE:  I have to listen to both sides and give impartial impressions.  People have begun to trust me, against better judgment.

ANDRYNS:  I know that’s true.  People trusting you.  And the better judgment too. 

BARRE:  The crow clan has strong feelings. They can’t be dismissed.  Feelings have power, and need to work with the whole system.  But we must allow for all voices.

ANDRYNS:  Sometimes I wish you’d just banish them.

BARRE:  Like I have that sort of power! Ha!  Wouldn’t want it anyways.  We need all sorts of people, and you need to look at how you handle conflict, young fellow.  You’re not the boss of anyone, and neither am I.

ANDRYNS:  Yes, boss.

BARRE:  Hey!

(LYNN sneaks into the scene, a bit bedraggled, delirious with terror.  Sees the two Neotribals and cowers in shrubbery out of their sight.  BARRE cocks his head thoughtfully.)

ANDRYNS:  Whose house is going here?

BARRE:  Dora and Trapper, I think.

ANDRYNS:  Dora and Trapper.  Ah, the old geezers.

BARRE:  Old geezers?  They’re both 35!  What does that make me?

ANDRYNS:  Ancient regime. 

BARRE:  Hmph.  So, how is the training with Chantal-Corva going?

ANDRYNS:  I don’t know how all this is going to work.  This ESP thing. I think – Oh.  Are you – ? Huh. 

(ANDRYNS frowns, BARRE grins)

I didn’t know I could do that. 

(ANDRYNS turns and looks at the shrubbery.  BARRE nods the head.)

Should I?

(BARRE shakes head, “no.”  Walks near to the shrubbery.)

BARRE:  Lynn?  I know you’re there.  I’ve been waiting for you. 

(LYNN sobs from shrubbery.)

                              SCENE EIGHT:

                              A little bit later.  CHANTAL-CORVA, a bitter, salty crone, late 40s/early 50s, puts together a decoction from various pouches on her person.  BARRE holds LYNN close.  They sit on battered lawn furniture.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  This one’s been through a lot.

BARRE:  Lynn, my Lynn… Shh…

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Throw him/her back, I say.

BARRE:  Chantal-Corva, mind your own business.  You don’t know what this one is capable of.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  One of the discredited ones.  Can smell it.  Anyone can tell.

BARRE:  #1 guided the path, Chan.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Oh, you think you’re that – Oh.  Well, I guess you – Er …

BARRE:  Some of us have to walk the distended path, Chan.  Lynn believed things ought to be easy street, just like everyone else.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Yeah, look where that got us.

BARRE:  We are still open to folks.  We’re no closed shop yet.  Heck, we took you and your nest in, don’t forget.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  And it’s the bane of the Corvus tribe’s existence.

BARRE:  Well, it’s for as long as we all agree upon it.  Schism is built into the system we’ve created.  Some of you may stay, others will go, and some of us may even go with those who choose to move on.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Change is the Goddess.

BARRE:  Sure. You bet.

(She brings the decoction over to LYNN and BARRE.)

Smells splendid.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  It will gag the throat.  Needs to go down quick.

BARRE:  Leave it here.  I’ll see it gets consumed.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Hope you know what you’re doing.

(CHANTAL-CORVA exits.)

BARRE:  I’m sure I do.  Lynn, oh Lynn. How I’ve missed you.

(BARRE rocks LYNN, who clutches onto her/him in his/her delirium.)

(Lights go black.  Lights rise and LYNN and BARRE spoon.)

                              SCENE NINE:

                              Same as before, only morning.  LYNN and BARRE sit up.  The decoction has been drunk, and the cup lays on its side on the ground.

BARRE:  Ready to take in food?

(LYNN nods.  BARRE goes off, returns with a plate of beans and bread which LYNN devours.)

Well, Crow Clan hits another bullseye.

LYNN:  I don’t know whether to kiss you or kill you.

BARRE:  You can do both if you like.

LYNN:  I bet you made all this happen.

BARRE:  Just added my energy into the puppy pile.  The energy was there, but it needed to be directed by some adults.  Though I can hardly take all the credit, for there were many mages involved in this working.

LYNN:  What makes you think you’re so adult?

BARRE:  I’m still here ain’t I?

LYNN:  Not saying much.

BARRE:  I would disagree with that.  You’re a miracle though.

LYNN:  I just got by through my wits and luck.

BARRE:  Those Tiger Beaters almost did you in though.

LYNN:  If it weren’t for that pipe falling, I’d be – Hey!  How did you know – ?

BARRE:  Same way I know about the mysterious light that guided you and Chikembe out of the Deutsche Bank-Novartis Southgate Mall debacle.  I sent it to you.

LYNN:  That was – Chikembe said –

BARRE:  That it was an odd phosphorus effect.  Yes, well I had to use what was available.  That’s how these things work, you know.

LYNN:  What are you saying?  Bare, don’t scare me.

BARRE:  Just that there’s more beauty to this heaven than it has seemed.  Leaving the vampire life behind was the best thing I ever did.  And the scariest.  But it had to happen so that I could find who I really am.  And lead others to their own gifts.  When they’re open to them.  I wonder when or if you will come around.

LYNN:  Oh, there is NO way I’m staying here!

BARRE:  Great.  Tell me your plans then.  You made it here, and then – where to?  Paris?  Phuket?  Or maybe the clear waters off Madagascar.

LYNN:  Don’t you make fun of me.

BARRE:  Lynn, at some point you’re gong to have to move past the attachment to the way things were.  That’s all done, all gone.  All behind us.

LYNN:  Don’t you tell me what to do.  It’s going to come back.  You’ll be the fool then.

BARRE:  The dollar is done.  The currency system is bust.  The geopolitical –

LYNN:  That’s you!  Always the naysayer.

BARRE:  Want more?

LYNN:  All you have is beans?

BARRE:  You need to eat light for now.  When was the last time you had a meal?  No response, eh?  Well.  You should have a goodly amount of water too.  Get your strength.  For wherever you plan on going next.  For now, we give you shelter.

LYNN:  I’ll take some more beans then.  Broth?

BARRE:  We’ve got some stock simmering even as we speak.  And a little bit of apple juice, though not much.  And not right away.

LYNN:  It’s not like I have the flu.

BARRE:  We don’t want you to get sick.  Besides we watch our portions carefully.  Not because we’re food poor, but because it’s better for us to do so.

LYNN:  Where are you going?

BARRE:  You need to spend a little time alone with your thoughts, dear.  Well, at least I need you to.  Word to the wise, watch and observe the doings here.  Don’t be quick to judge.  There’s lots like high school, but it’s the other stuff you need to ponder.  There’s more going on here than meets the eye.

LYNN:  I told you not to tell me what to do!

BARRE:  Oh, Lynn.

(Leaves.)

LYNN:  Thinks s/he’s the boss of me!

                              SCENE TEN:

                              A fire pit. LYNN sits with CHANTAL-CORVA who tends the fire.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  So, Barre and you were a couple.

LYNN:  That’s the rumor.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  He says he brought you here.

LYNN:  He’s full of it.

(CHANTAL-CORVA scowls, strikes LYNN with her walking stick.)

Ow!  What’d you do that for?

CHANTAL-CORVA:  We do not speak ill of our elders here.  And Barre is powerful.  I believe him, that he protected you.  Why, for Goddess sake, is beyond me.

LYNN:  Fine.  Be that way.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  You are still attached to the Path of Trials and Vampirism. 

LYNN:  Oh, please.  Stop with the mystico-primitive crapola already.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Listen, hon.  It’s a hard journey from where we were.  In our Crow Clan, we long ago took the road of the homeless warrior.  We waited for the days when all of it would fall apart, which was as inevitable as the sun coming up from our estimation.  The sooner you understand that not only is that Path of Destruction not coming back but that it’s a good thing, the better off you will be.  Though I don’t see any hope of such possibility entering into being.

LYNN:  The experts have assured us that –

CHANTAL-CORVA(derisively laughing):  Experts!  Did you say “experts?”  Bwahaha!  No such thing!  Well-paid yes men, charlatans each one and dreaming they can coddle us sleeping giants while some enterprising prisoners get their mass inoculations ready to pacify the rest of us or push us into early graves.  Your so called experts—guards in the distribution camp.

LYNN:  Great.  I get to sit at the fire with a loony conspiracy theorist.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Go ahead, friend.  Go to that place.  Barre won’t rip away your denial because he loves you.  But I have no such reticence.  If you are going to remain here for any length of time, you will need to learn our ground rules.  That is why I’m here.  To instruct you whether you like it or not.

LYNN:  Fine.  I’m not asking for special treatment.  I don’t intend on staying.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  I look forward to your departure.  In any case, the #1 rule is life on life’s terms.  Which means you toughen up, whether you like it or not.

(ANDRYNS and SHIMMER-FIRE, an older gent (played perhaps by the same actor playing DAVE) enter carrying two buckets of potatoes apiece.)

Thank you Shimmer-Fire and Andryns.

LYNN:  That’s a lot of potatoes. 

ANDRYNS:  Eight more of these are coming.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Yes, these beauties are but the first.

(SHIMMER-FIRE hands LYNN a peeler.)

SHIMMER-FIRE:  For you, m’dear.

LYNN:  Oh, this is the last straw!

                              SCENE ELEVEN:

                              A clearing a little before nigthtfall. LYNN, BARRE, ANDRYNS and CHANTAL-CORVA sit in fire-light.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Don’t forget to breathe.  Meeting a guide can be a surprising experience.

ANDRYNS:  When I first started this, I thought I was a fool.  For them this comes naturally.

BARRE:  This sort of thing has been a bone of contention between Lynn and me.  Lynn thinks I’m crazy.

LYNN:  Thinks?

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Shh!  I demand quiet.

BARRE:  Chantal, remember our agreement.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Just who is leading this working?

ANDRYNS:  There’s no one way to do this.  Maybe for you, but we –

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Well, if this is going to be anarchic chatter based, then I’ll just go off on my own. 

(CHANTAL-CORVA exits.  BARRE and ANDRYNS let their eyes lose focus while LYNN sits there uncomfortable in the ensuing silence.  Fidgets.  Sounds of the forest at night.)

LYNN:  This is going to drive me crazy.

BARRE:  Lynn, pick out a sound.  Any sound and stay with it.

(LYNN scowls and starts to listen.  Is about to speak when there is a loud pecking of a woodpecker.  LYNN looks around.  ANDRYNS and BARRE remain unfocused.  LYNN eventually spots a woodpecker somewhere over the audience.  Sits thoughtfully and watches.  It makes more drilling sounds. The lights dim on BARRE and ANDRYNS, highlighting LYNN.)

LYNN:  It’s like a jackhammer.  Gee.  How original, Lynn.  Cute little birdie though.  Looks only a little bit like the cartoon.  Woody.  Guess he’s a certain kind.  Or maybe it’s a female.  Woodeen.  Ha-ha-heh-HA-ha!  Ha-ha-heh-HA-ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-haaah! Hmm.  The trees smell fragrant.  But I’m still pissed off.  Barre, bane of my existence.  Says I was protected.  Big laugh that.  Almost died three or four times.  Protected, sheesh!  It is quiet here.  Peaceful.  Give me the hustle-bustle of New York or Los Angeles or even Buffalo!  A city.  Huh.  Well, given how complicated it all seems today, maybe not. Huh.  Woodpecker what do you think?

(DAVE, or rather, “HUSTON,” sidles in, wearing a different fishing hat and whistling “Sentimental Journey.”  He holds two fishing reels)

Um, I …

DAVE/HUSTON

Hey there, kiddo.  Whaddayasay?

LYNN:  I – whoa.  Um. Are you uh, Dave then?

HUSTON:  Call me Huston there, Lynn.  Pard’ner!

LYNN:  You’re like the guide Barre said –

HUSTON:  Different fellow, cool cat.  I’m Huston.

LYNN:  I had a great-uncle named Huston.  You’re not him are you?

HUSTON:  If we had some kind of relationship, you’d know.  Don’t you think?

LYNN:  I’ve heard stories.  You’re contrary like Uncle Huston was.

HUSTON:  Hey, what you choose to do is all right; just I don’t want you to categorize me.  Later, you do what you want.  Just get to know me first.

LYNN:  I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Andrys’s guide turns out to be Henry David Thoreau.

HUSTON:  Oh, a famous guy huh?  Nope.  Not me.  It’s more likely you’d get an everyday mystic like myself.  One if you saw walk past you on the street, you’d just think I was another old geezer.  Consider yourself blessed.

LYNN:  I didn’t think it mattered if someone was famous.

HUSTON:  Oh, it doesn’t.  But it can interfere with direct connection.  Same as if I was a distant relation.  For now, I’m just Huston.  I like to sit by a lake and fish.

(HUSTON hands LYNN a fishing reel.  HUSTON casts the reel as LYNN “takes in the lake.”)

Beautiful day for fishing, don’t you think?

(LYNN casts the reel, sits and contemplates this quiet experience.)

This is how the messages come.  In the calm.  Just relax, Lynn.

(LYNN nods head.  A light streams down from above for 20-30 seconds.  Then the stage dims but doesn’t completely go black.  Fractals appear, along with nautilus shells, and other Mandelbrot/golden mean images.  Lights return to normal, and BARRE, LYNN and ANDRYNS are back in their positions.  BARRE and ANDRYNS are awake and aware, while LYNN wakens from trance.)

BARRE:  Andryns, I think we’ve had success.

ANDRYNS:  Can’t wait to hear all about it – if you want to say anything that is.  But you don’t have to.

                              SCENE TWELVE:

                              CHANTAL-CORVA, BARRE, LYNN and ANDRYNS sit in a circle, making a thatched roof.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  I’m not sure there’s anything I’d like to salvage.  Except for parts of course.

ANDRYNS:  Business there, though.  Always being able to retool and reconfigure is a skill and a passion.

BARRE:  There’s absolutely nothing you’ll miss, O mighty Crone?

CHANTAL-CORVA:  I do miss supermarkets.  Kind of.  Only the convenience, but it wasn’t something that could exist forever, was it?  Give me a pony and a unicorn, already!

LYNN:  Oh, that’s so unfair!

ANDRYNS:  I don’t miss them so much.  Though strawberries and pineapples in January – I did kind of like that.  Also some music that we don’t have access to anymore.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  But we can make our own music.  Create our own sound.  And we can create a natural supermarket like our way-back ancestors did once several hundred generations ago.

ANDRYNS:  Who knows what we’ll make happen here.  How will it be different in Colorado or Florida in twenty years.

BARRE:  It’ll be closer to our own region.  I will miss some of the cosmopolitan aspects.  The lights on Broadway, the glitz of Rodeo Drive.  But they don’t have to go away, at least completely.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Bite your tongue, Elder Barre.  If we want the good life, the really good life, it ALL has to change.

BARRE:  No argument from me.  I’m saying what I’ll miss, not that I’ll be disconsolate.

LYNN:  I don’t know if I can have this conversation.  I liked it the way it was.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Oh, really?  I could never have guessed.

BARRE:  Crony’s cynicism aside, Lynn, you got a lot of what’s now passed into the history books, and without so much as a how-do-you-do.

ANDRYNS:  If there will even be history books.  How will history classes work these days?

LYNN:  I did get a lot.  I liked democracy.  And Hollywood movies, as well as indies.  And Broadway too, and the Olympics.  College.  Cruises.  There were lots of things I liked.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Pah!  Democracy.  That was such a lie.  Dumb-ocracy more like it, liberty for the greed-heads.

LYNN:  I liked modern architecture.  Frank Lloyd Wright.  Interior design.

ANDRYNS:  We can still have interior design in our yurts!  Heck, we can make patterns in this roof we’re making now!

CHANTAL-CORVA:  If you look carefully, you’ll see one I’m doing.

LYNN:  Yurts!  That’s not who I am.  It made my heart sad to see homes I thought were beautiful just rot over time.  Surprised how fast all those McMansions fell into disrepair, but that’s not what I speak of.

ANDRYNS:  Those prefab crab-boxes falling apart’s no surprise.  Ticky-tacky construction and rushed together development.  Stoopid.  It’s hard to watch things you like go away, though.  Die.  Never to come back.  Saturday morning kids programs.  Power tools.  Poof!

LYNN:  And that’s the truth of it, isn’t it?  Goodbye to highways and gated communities, sure.  Digital clocks blinking.  Cellphones.

BARRE:  You’re describing a heaven there, Lynnie.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Amen!

LYNN:  Well, I don’t call this heaven.  I see how things are changing.  And I’m adjusting myself to it, but I don’t have to like it.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Just so long as you don’t make it difficult for the rest of us, sweetheart.  Wehrever the trances may take you, it is helping.  I can see that, and that person makes him/herself more inviting to the emergent situation.

BARRE:  Chantal-Corva, Lynn knows, s/he knows.

LYNN:  Yes, yes, yes.  But this Lynn is also still here, and as far as I can tell I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.  So “Greta Garbo, and Monroe.  Dietrich and DiMaggio.  Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean. On the cover of movie screen.”

(CHANTAL-CORVA sticks out her tongue, and cackles quietly to herself.)

BARRE:  Grow up!  Lynn, you have a place here.  You will set it yourself.  You are needed.

ANDRYNS:  Hey, I saw a shooting star.

LYNN:  Me too.  Was that – ?

BARRE:  A sign.

(CHANTAL-CORVA scowls.)

                              SCENE THIRTEEN:

                              Late morning in the forest.  LYNN sits at an easel painting.  ANDRYNS enters, carrying a bag of miscellaneous hardware, sees LYNN, stops and watches for a moment.  Nods, satisfied, curious.  Goes off.  CHANTAL-CORVA enters, sees LYNN at the easel, oblivious to others’ presence.  LYNN happens to look up, sees CHANTAL-CORVA.  Frostiness.  CHANTAL-CORVA breaks the moment, searching for . . .

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Truffles. . . . I know you’re lurking.

LYNN:  They’re in a different field, you know.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  I know what I know.

LYNN:  That could be a song.  You’re just curious about what I’m making here.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Wall tiles, perhaps?

LYNN:  Look at it, if you dare.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Dare!  Hah!  I have better things to do.

LYNN:  Suit yourself.

(BARRE enters, wearing a carpentry belt.  Strides over to LYNN, looks at the painting.)

BARRE:  Goodness!

LYNN:  Oh!  Barre, you startled me.

BARRE:  I’m sorry, Lynn.  That’s quite – is this something you remember?

LYNN:  I don’t know.  More the way I imagine it, if the radio reports are correct.

BARRE:  The level of detail.  Those eyes, those looks of pain.

LYNN
(resigned)

Yes.

BARRE:  What brought this on?

LYNN:  It’s been coming.  I didn’t want to face the reality, and it’s still overwhelming.  Who can see whether our little arrangement here in the mountains will survive?  Yet this is the first time I’ve really been able to feel a part of a community.  As disgruntled as we all are, as prickly and obstreperous, myself included.  Yet we’re still a part of, aren’t we?

(CHANTAL-CORVA’s about to say–)

Over some people’s loud objections.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Just saying! For the record.

LYNN:  And then that news report – news being really “olds.”  4 months ago.  Wow.

BARRE:  News now travels at an early 19th century pace.

LYNN:  Guess this ain’t the stone age, but it’s no technotopia either.  Not that that was ever possible.  Regrettably.

BARRE:  Life on life’s terms.  Our species.  Gets to grow up for what it’s worth.

(SHIMMER FIRE and an excited ANDRYNS enter carrying lumber.  ANDRYNS points SHIMMER FIRE to LYNN’s work)

ANDRYNS:  See?  What’d I tell you?

SHIMMER FIRE:  That’s – is that the fall of New York then?

BARRE:  I thought it was Washington.

LYNN:  Actually, it’s no specific city.  Washington, New York.  Paris, even if you notice a couple of details here and there.  As well as out of the way places like Provo and Rochester. 

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Minnesota or New York?

SHIMMER FIRE:  Vermont! 

LYNN:  Whichever one you want.  It’s the larger field.  Look over here.

BARRE:  Marilyn Monroe? 

ANDRYNS:  Who dat?  Just kidding.  He was that goth guy right?

SHIMMER FIRE:  Somehow I don’t think he’s funning us.

(CHANTAL-CORVA strikes her own head, shakes it, snorts.)

ANDRYNS:  That Princess Di?

LYNN:  Yes.  And that’s Bill Wilson, founder of AA.  Here is Ernest Hemingway, and of course Oprah.  And Pope John Paul the First, the unknown saint.

BARRE:  What is this then, Lynn?

LYNN:  The Fall of Our Culture.  All blown up, all melting away.  All going wildly into a darkest night.

(Now curious, CHANTAL-CORVA strides over and looks at LYNN’s work.  Shock.  After a moment she starts crying, then wailing.)

Oh, my.

SHIMMER FIRE:  Well, this is most unexpected.  Honey, are you all right?

BARRE:  Lynn, it’s like Tchelitchew.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Exactly.  Who’s Tchelitchew?

BARRE:  Hold on.  I’ll get my old MOMA book.  I saved it for some weird reason unbeknownst to me.

(Exits.)

LYNN:  I see what you’re saying, Barre.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  This is a masterwork.  Why you?  No matter.  It’s not up to me to judge.  This is Goddess’ will.

LYNN:  I’m positive you’re right about that.  I certainly wouldn’t do this unless I was driven.

(BARRE enters with a battered MOMA catalogue.  Pages to the index and then forward.  Finds the page.)

BARRE:  There.  See?

ANDRYNS:  Whoa, trippy!

SHIMMER FIRE:  Makes me think of some bad trips I went on in the Haight.  Back in the day.

ANDRYNS:  How 2008!

BARRE:  More like 1938.

ANDRYNS:  That one baby’s shrieking.  And the little girl – is she climbing a tree?

CHANTAL-CORVA:  Looks like she’s falling into an abyss.

LYNN:  Adjust your eyes a little.  Take it all in.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  That’s a face!

(ANDRYNS and SHIMMER FIRE gasp.)

LYNN:  You know, if I just –

(LYNN makes a few brush strokes and CHANTAL-CORVA falls to her knees.)

ANDRYNS:  Oh . . . Gawd!

BARRE:  Well well well.  Looks like you’ve come a long way, Lynn.

LYNN:  All the good it does me.

CHANTAL-CORVA:  You are much wiser than you ever knew.

LYNN:  OK, now give me some space, everyone.

BARRE:  Lynn’s not used to people turning on a dime.  Not even him/herself.

(CHANTAL-CORVA starts to exit toward the direction where ANDYRNS and SHIMMER FIRE entered.)

CHANTAL-CORVA (declamatory):  Come all ye Corvus clan, and Orsus Clan.  All ye clans, hark!  We have a Master Work emerging here.  Come one, come all.  See The Fall of the West!

(Exits)

LYNN:  I think –

BARRE:  Yes?

LYNN:  I’m done being sad.

(BARRE nods.  Lights dim as the image of “Cache-Cache” by Pavel Tchelitchew appears on the two screens from the interlude.)

                              END OF PLAY