Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Macbeth.

macbeth2

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Owning Up

(lights up slowly)

If you’re like me, you can be just a little bit excessive.

…Did I say excessive? I meant obsessive. Same thing really.

You don’t want to own up, to come clean, but I know you are.

Maybe not about the small things, maybe not about the large things, but there are some things you just     can’t     let     go     of.

Can’t let out of your clutches.

I mean, you’re only human aren’t you?

You hear something once and maybe, well, maybe that’s it.

I mean, you need it. You hear it and boom- you’ve got to have it.

Maybe it’s a taste, a perfume, a painting.

Maybe it’s a statue, a song, a TV serial. Anything.

With me, as you must have already guessed, it’s the music of Stephen Sondheim.

No, I’m not one of those queens that loves Liza, or Bette, or Julie Andrews unconditionally…

I have a condition.

Put them all on the soundtrack of a Sondheim play, and then…. Only then will I bring the old girls round. I’ll bring them and play them like they’re going out of style. But thanks to Sondheim, they never will. Not with me.

With you dear, despite our certain similarities, it’s probably something different. Maybe you’re a Gershwin fan. Maybe you dig Charlie Mingus. Maybe its Jim Bloody Steinman or –god forbid- Andrew Lloyd …ah yes. I see. Andrew Lloyd Webber is it?

(sings) “M i d – n I g h t”… blech.

Some pleasures are, of course, guiltier than others.

Whatever it is, we bring it home, and we obsess.

We fawn over it, pet it, clutch it to our breasts, devour it.

And then … well, it’s our OWN isn’t it? It’s our own. We own it!

And I suppose, in a way, it owns us back.

It’s a bit fetishistic really, isn’t it?

Have you thought about ownership love? I mean really thought about it? Do you have all of Sir Andrew’s works?

Yes, I thought as much.

In your country there’s a saying that “The Grass is always greener on the other side of the street”, and that’s a piece of it… yes, but it doesn’t tell the story. I might be more apt to say “I’ve owned this bit of turf for years and now it’s getting a bit old. It might be nice to own a bit of yours too. You know, go for the whole collection”.

A lot of wars probably start that way…

What’s wrong with me?

Why do I need to own things anyway?

I long to hear “Company” as if it were the very first time. But I can’t. I bloody own it and my own all-consuming passion for it gets in my way- Numbs me to its charms.

I had it on all week, must’ve played it 80 – 90 times, and though I sang along every time, I didn’t really love it enough. Not in that pure way, and I miss that purity, that… religious… purity.

I take it for granted now. I suppose we all do.

I know the neighbors do.

They all hate me of course, but why should I care?

They never take any interest in anything I do any more. They’ve heard West Side Story drifting down the street a million times over by now. I could have a heart attack- I could go stark raving mad and break everything in the house, and they wouldn’t even think to look in. No, not any more… Sondheim and I have seen to that.

I mean I’m just lucky that Sondheim is still with us. I… I sometimes think if he dies, I’ll lose all hope. I can’t own all the Sondheim now, because he’s not all done, is he?

The complete collection remains mercifully incomplete. There’s more to come, and that is the sweetest feeling in the world- that anticip…ation.

Imagine being the poor bastard who owns all the Queen albums and Barcelona, and that bloody Highlander soundtrack… Everything there is to get hold of, but dear dead Freddie isn’t coming back. He’s lost the low spark of his high-heeled boy now, hasn’t he? There’s nothing left for him to hope for, is there? I mean, every time he plays Bicycle Race or Seven Seas of Rye, it comes back to him more and more distant… negligible. More a private soundtrack and less the arresting, affecting Aria he fell in love with and brought home to mother…

And one day, it will just disappear into the background of his desperate life. He’ll be forced to do something rash- sign up for French Foreign Legion or the new Survivor just because he needs to leave dear Freddie behind for a while- a trial separation. But oh, oh the joy when he comes back and finds Freddie, his Freddie, waiting just for him!

But I’m not going to be that poor bastard now, am I?

No.     I.     Am.     Not.

And that brings us round… to you.

I need to own things, collect things. I think that should be clear to both of us by now. And you, aren’t you are just the little darling to help me out like this?

Why do I love Sondheim so much? I think it’s because, in addition to his vast musical gifts, he understands me, the real me. The real deep down, obsessive me. The first time I heard Sweeney Todd, Oh my!

That sweet and succulent Little Priest… “Those up above will serve those down below”.

I mean that song was written with me in mind, don’t you think?

I think Sond… Oh, is this distressing you? My Sondheim-this and Sondheim-that? Is it perhaps just a little too familiar for you? Too disrespectful? Alright.

What do you call him then?

Uncle Steve is it?

Very well.

I’ve read every interview your Uncle Steve has ever granted. I’ve seen the Last of Sheila 47 times. He has a quirky and subtle wit, but I know his little secret. We both do, don’t we?

If he didn’t have a little secret like you just…LAYING…about, I’m sure his work wouldn’t speak to me in quite the same way. We’d have less in common, wouldn’t we?

So, let’s go through this once again, my new     best     little     friend.

Whatever are we going to tell Uncle Steve when we get him on the phone?

Don’t worry, I’ll let him speak to you dear. Perhaps I’ll even let you speak to him…

Or maybe not.

I do believe it’s time for a new piece. Something special. Something nice. Something… that speaks to me. After all, Uncle Steve won’t last forever will he? I’ve seen his future…

And when he’s gone, I’ll need something of my own, won’t I.

Something of my OWN…

(blackout)

Advertisements

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the weekThe 7 Wonders of Ballyknock by C. S. Whitcomb.

ballyknockfinal

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

The Wm. S. Burroughs Puppet Show

(lights up full)

3 weeks ago, the spirit of noted Beat Author William S. Burroughs came to me as I sat working at my desk. I was as surprised as anyone.

He told me he’d come back from the Western Lands to commission a worthy vessel for his spirit- a “Homonculus”. Who was I to disagree? I’d never had a visitation before and besides, I was pleased he liked my sculpture. Most people don’t even know I sculpt…

So I set to work- Needles, thread, cloth, felt, wax and a little human hair. I was building what Burroughs a magical form which he would animate when I’d gotten the form just right. He promised me 2 grand and some dirt on Ken Kesey… and I actually believed him. Even dead I figured, he has more connections than I do, and his books are still selling.

So… it was after 2 in the morning and I had finished the figure at last.

I was walking upstairs to sleep when I heard the basement door creak … open … slowly.

I ran back downstairs and found that the figure gone. All that was left on my work table was THIS– a single sheet of typewriter paper with a few hastily typed words…

So if you see an emaciated wax figure about 3 feet high, bald, dressed in a black suit and a dark felt fedora, tell him I’m looking for him. Bastard owes me money…

(Lights to half. The actor dons a black suit and a fedora, pauses, then continues doing his best Wm. S. Burroughs impression. The lights gradually raise again to full as he speaks.)

My trip back from the Western Lands- A tale in 3 parts by H. Bugjuice Lee.

Part 1: Cats.

Those crazy mewling puking cats. They showed me the way. Not at first. Later. After the entrails were finished and they were wiping their paws on what remained of my pantleg. I won’t miss them.

Part 2: The Appalling Hand of Parody

The head came up just like a big bald sun.

I stood, reached into it, and squeezed its pustulent grey mass of congealed gravyboat pulp. It knew me then — The recognition of the killer returning to the scene of his crime — But before it could act — Gulp, I pulled it apart. I stretched a brittle grasping hand inside the glistening petals of viscous pancreas flesh, the gout and seep reminding me of Joan. The only downside to shooting my wife through the head was that I could only do it once. Ask anyone who was there. It was a hell of a shot- the dear sweet natural Junk to steady my aim. You should have been there, and after there, in the bug room. I saw things there — Little things — Specks of foam – Spittle – Gristle — Vile orange grit — Shedding dirt from the crossroads — And caught in the gaping maw of memory were acts and encores that beggar description except for the fact that they were all true — Every God forsaken one of them. The plain of Mexico and the place of dead roads stretched out in varicose nostalgia from the Western Lands. The words- the God damned nuzzle of the virus. I should have stayed in Vienna with Benway. He knew the big stout fix. Why did I wait so long? “Show me a man who says he prefers a woman to a 10 year old Turkish boy, and I’ll show you a liar.” Maybe I said it. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I believed it.

Part 3: This Word did not Exist.

The scorpion’s arm is waving — Waving in errant salute — Hello — Razorblade — Swop — Heat Engine — Goodbye — Our time on this ball of dung is past — So a salute to the rest of our twitching juicy body parts as the bug’s arm moves in spasm and swoon across the rough wooden floor — Other pieces shimmy and jerk, like the mirage of a shotgun shack — Like the fetal earthquake inside Joan’s decaying womb — Like the St. Vitus dance of wounded toys — Winding down forever.

Nothing is true.

Everything is remitted.

(blackout)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the weekOn Golden Pond by Ernest Thompson.

ongoldenpond

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Day Trip to Guam

A piece for two voices

Voice 1: Bold Text         Voice 2: Italic Text         Voices Together: Underlined Text

(Lights up full on two podiums. Voice 1 stands behind one, and scans the audience and finds the most suitable “volunteer”. This may be prearranged or not. Either way, Voice 1 needs to find someone who is willing and able the first time out. The feeling of spontaneity is important, but there’s no time for refusals.)

I’m so relieved that you are here tonight. You are the very person I need to help with this piece. Will you help me out?

(Voice 1 quickly leaves the stage, hands the volunteer – now Voice 2 – the script and points out the italics and the underlined end, retakes the stage and tells Voice 2 to stand behind the other podium and study the script while Voice 1 speaks to the audience.)

Years ago in Florida I sat down and talked with noted author and curmudgeon Kurt Vonnegut – Author of Slaughterhouse Five, Cat’s Cradle, and other light classics. I found myself amazed by what he told me: “I don’t write science fiction anymore. Why bother? There’s no point. I mean it’s only a small – and probably stupid – idea to begin with. Why waste my time and your time writing a book that takes 200 pages to get to a damn punch line? Life’s too short.” As someone who had recently enjoyed Cat’s Cradle, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Was he fishing for flattery? No. He was telling me the truth, and as I get older, it makes more and more sense.

Aren’t we all tired of “ Didja ever wonder why… ” and “It really bugs me when…” and all those other lame stand-up intros? Haven’t we seen enough of those? Vonnegut wrote his later science fiction novels down as single sentences on napkins at parties. They were a big hit.

So inspired was I by this advice, that – with the help of this kind volunteer (indicates Voice 2) – I’ve decided to follow it. It goes like this: (start fast!) Military Intelligence

Urban Planning

Nuclear Safety

Vacation Bible School

Good Old Boys

Compassionate Conservative

Friendly Fire

Little Big Horn

Head Butt

Butt Head

Holy Shit

Holy War

Holy Roman Empire

Free with Purchase

Army of One

Shit-eating Grin

Hell’s Angels

Final Fantasy Four

Living Dead

Grateful Dead

Dead Reckoning

Dead Drunk

Smart Ass

Good Grief

Wireless Cable

Legal Brief

Wicked Good

Microsoft Works

Passive Aggressive

Assisted Suicide

Instant Classic

English Cuisine

Lingua Franca

Television Special

Black Lightning

White Tornado

Black Gold

Liquid Paper

Utah Jazz

Open Marriage

Even Odds

Virtual Reality

Happy Meal

Fire Water

Junk Food

Aerosol Cheese

Tofu Burger

Jumbo Shrimp

Fat Boy Slim

Fats Domino

Chubby Checker

Pudgy Parcheesi

You made that up!

Yes, I made that up.

Definite Possibility

Final Draft

Totally Unfinished

Half Assed

God Awful

Rap Music

Quiet Riot

Led Zeppelin

Madonna

(blackout)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the weekLonesome West by Martin McDonagh.

lonesomewest

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Ringer

Cast

Performer – A young woman unafraid to take the bull by the horns.

Ringer – A young man who’s world is about to be shaken.

A Confederate – Someone who can quietly phone Ringer, covering up the receiver to make sure nobody hears “the other end” of the call, and hanging up when Ringer answers.

The Audience – Unpredictable. Watch out for them.

Props – One of Performer’s journal and a cell phone “hidden” in a bag or jacket.

Lighting: Performer asks for a center spotlight, with very low lighting on the audience. Tell the lightboard operator to go to blackout when you mention “Cigars”.

Direction – Fast – I cannot stress this enough, rehearsed and realistic. If you are too slow, the stage manager, or others might intervene, and that would be bad. Too unrehearsed and the crowd will get that it’s an act. So please be yourselves. If you feel these lines sound unnatural coming out of your mouths, feel free to emend them in rehearsal. This should be an unprecedented scene, and a lot of good clean fun, but remember to have the courage of your convictions and don’t let anyone interrupt you.

(Performer starts out under a spotlight – reading from a journal – the more involving and personal the journal, the better. Ringer’s cell phone rings after approximately 30 seconds, ideally in the middle of a long and intriguing passage. Performer stops reading and furrows her brow as she shields her eyes from the spotlight, and looks into the crowd to see who has the cell phone. Ringer tries – a bit frantically, and maybe with a little quiet swearing – to get to the phone, but he has difficulty as the phone is in a bag or coat, or lunchbag. Just as he finds it, the phone rings again.

Ringer: (answers it in a self-conscious whisper halfway through the second ring, looking around defensively in embarrassment) Hello? (short pause) Who? (short pause) Oh… (blushes, stammers.)

Performer: (to Ringer, pissed off) Hey! What the hell are you doing?

Ringer: (meekly to Performer) Talking.

Performer: (to Ringer) Talking? (Sarcastic) Ooookay.

Ringer: (covers receiver) Well, I had to answer it.

Performer: (to audience and Ringer at once) No, you didn’t. Hang up on them.

Ringer: No I ca… (trails off, distracted by the voice on the phone)

Performer: I would.

Ringer: (quietly into phone) Can I call you back? Please? (pause) What time is it there?

Performer: (walks toward Ringer) Give me the damned the phone. Here.

(Performer grabs the phone away from Ringer and quickly moves back to the center of the stage. Speaks crossly into it, moving in and out of the spotlight) This is a performance you are interrupting! Look, (pause to listen) Look Lady, I don’t care where you’re from…

(Longer pause to listen. Looks surprised) You’re kidding me.

No…uh–huh. (Performer looks around the audience and starts to smile evilly.)

Hey everybody, he’s (points to ringer) gonna be a daddy! (Ringer faints as noisily as possible.)

Cigars for everyone!

(blackout)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Rent.

rent

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Life

Cast – A physical actor (The Kid), his voice (Vox), and another voice (Doctor)

(Spotlight shines dimly on The Kid – sitting in the window. During the piece, he will move around inside the window, silently following Vox’s instructions – kicking, punching etc.)

Vox: (from offstage) You may think your life is boring. But you don’t know boring until you find yourself in solitary. You can’t imagine how boring it is. You want out. You’d give anything to get out… but you don’t have anything to give…

Doesn’t good behavior count for anything anymore? Doesn’t the presumption of innocence apply to you? Doesn’t anybody care? You have no recourse to the law- not in here. Not in solitary… You really don’t know what you did to deserve this- It’s not like you’re a bad guy or anything. Maybe you sinned, but who doesn’t? You’re only human after all…

You try to break out. You try to dig. You try to tunnel. You try to crack the walls, but you can’t. Not with your fingers, not with your nails. Not with your fists. Not with your feet. Not with your head.

You sometimes hear muffled conversation from outside. You hear sounds, but you never hear any words. Sounds, but no substance. You are so tortured by these vague sounds- sounds that are always just beyond the threshold of hearing- that you put your hands over your ears. Then all you hear is your heartbeat… There’s no one you can talk to. There’s nothing you can do. There’s no music, no television, no theater.

Sometimes, when you are feeling philosophical, you feel bad for the other inmates. Did they get a bum rap too? You wonder what they did. You wonder if they are in solitary. You wonder if their sentence is any shorter than yours. You wonder if they’ve thought of something you haven’t. You wonder if they’ve found some way to escape.

Sometimes you try to communicate with them. You try to use the codes you’ve been developing in your head. The knocking codes. The kicking codes. The shouting codes. But there’s never a response. All sense of perspective, all sense of self, all stimuli, all that you want, all that you crave. All gone. Sometimes you hear a noise that’s just a little different. You imagine the footsteps and sense a chance. You think your time is finally up. But you’re wrong. You’ve always been wrong…

Until today…

(The Kid falls out of the window. All lights up full)

Doctor: (loudly from offstage) Congratulations! It’s a boy.

The Kid: (covers his eyes with his hands, slowly kicks his legs and wails!)

(black out)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, The Jungle Book.

junglebookthin

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

SHAME

(lights up full)

How many of you here on this idyllic Sunday morning are victims of your memories?

How many of you here today can’t remember your first girlfriend’s eye color, but remember every embarrassing incident and every shameful moment you’ve ever experienced? You can’t remember things you’d like to, but can’t forget things you desperately want to? And you remember these events at the most inconvenient times. I think you know what I mean…

Joy can be fleeting. Happiness, ephemeral. Shame though – shame is eternal. Or so it might seem… Unless you fight it friends – fight it with every breath and every glance down your neighbor’s blouse. And fight it you should, because contrary to those figures that our scientific kinsmen ballyhoo, it’s Shame that is the number one killer in this country – the Demon Shame.

Shame seems a necessary fact of life my brothers and sisters. But it is not. Shame is merely the memory of hubris or bad timing or ill luck. The fault is not in you, not in your stars, but in your too-active memory for transgressions observed. A transgression not observed is surely no transgression at all.

Who told you “You should be ashamed of yourself!”? Was it your mama?

Do you think that Bill Clinton’s mama told him he should be ashamed of himself?

And if she did, do you think he listened? Should he have listened?

What separates great men from merely average men? What lifts a dyslexic coke-head and a drunk oilman to the highest position in our land? Is it shame? No friends – it is assuredly not. To be great requires that you understand shame, that you know it, that you have wrassled with it, and that you have defeated it. Again and again.

If you or I experienced a “Lost Weekend”, or wake up in jail, or accidentally went AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard, we would be prone to letting that change us. To becoming ashamed and letting life take us by the short hairs. But not the great men, no sir! When our esteemed Vice President got pulled over for his second DWI, do you know what passed through his mind? It wasn’t “Oh my god, I could’ve killed those children!”. It wasn’t “This time they’ll have my license for sure”. And it surely wasn’t “I’ll lose my job, my wife will leave me and I’ll go to jail”. No no no! What would be the sense of that?

You can be sure the big Dick pursued a much different line of reasoning. “Well, I guess that makes me about 186 and 2. I drive right well when I’m tanked up”. And that, friends, was that. Not for him the paralysis of the conscience-stricken. Not for him the wishy-washy feel-good hand-waving of atonement. No indeed! He had a job to do, and he’s doing it. Shouldn’t we all be doing our jobs?

Too too many here among us today start at a deficit, as the victims of a Liberal Arts education. Too many have sworn to learn from the mistakes of the past and promised never to become like Alexander the Great, like Stalin, like Hitler. And that’s all well and good. But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water friends.

It’s all very well to say you’ll never be like old Shicklegruber, for there are many facets to the man’s personality that were odious and undesirable – His fashion sense, his absurd vegetarianism. But look also at what made him an effective leader. His total lack of shame was little short of a miracle. He was a tiny little dumpling of a man – an ugly, surly drunk with a bad mustache. He had nothing to live for, but he did it all. And why? Because he had no shame.

But how can Mr. Hitler’s better qualities help us today? How can we benefit from his example? Not with your petty provincial code of silence for one thing. Shame must not be fought in silence friends. Not in silence, nor quiet contemplation in a hidden monastery. Not in isolation or at a remove from the world. You must fight this fire with fire my friends! Every time you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar, you just take some more cookies. After all, you deserve them!

(blackout)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Gypsy. Book by Arthur Laurents. Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Music by Jule Styne.

gypsy9

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Host and Hostess

Cast

Hostess – An effectively beautiful but stern Human Resources Director

Frieda – A scared minimum wage employee.

Bob – The Alpha and the Omega of religious retailing.

Dwayne – Server of delicious snack treats. Not the sharpest pencil in the box…

(A gathering of nametag-wearing employees in a large auditorium. Dwayne is serving cut-up chocolate cookies from a large tray throughout. The Hostess stands in the middle of the room. The ceiling lights are at 50%, and there is no spotlight on the “TV window”)

Hostess: Welcome coworkers! Please sit down and make yourselves comfortable. I realize that this big Easter meeting is unprecedented and so – to make you feel more at home – I will take a question from the audience. (looks all around the room, before seeing a woman in the back of the auditorium) Yes? (squints to read name tag) Frieda. What can I help you with dear?

Frieda: (knits her brow and speaks tentatively) Um…

Hostess: No need to be shy here, Frieda. You’re among friends. (big corporate smile. Sweeping gesture indicates everyone in the room.)

Frieda: Well, what I’d like to ask is this. (nervous pause) Are we in some kind of trouble?

Hostess: Heavens no, Frieda. I’d say quite the reverse in fact. I think you’ll find this gathering quite rewarding. Here, I’ll show you. Let’s begin, shall we? (Hostess holds out the remote control, and presses a button).

(lights down in Room, Up on the “TV Window”)

Bob: (appears in the “TV window”) Friends. (smiles beatifically)

If you are seeing this video tape, it will mean that I have died and gone to join ol’ Walt in Heaven’s rosy embrace. But don’t despair. My life was blessed. I got to meet a great many of you, the Bobsmart and Bob’s Club faithful, before I died. And I’m here now to tell you, you few, you precious few hundred who are viewing this tape today, that you are more important to me and to the world than you’ve ever dared imagine.

Despite my past words to the contrary, and your managers glowing reports, you too often think of yourselves as mere employees, as wait staff who stand for long hours on cold concrete floors serving sample hors d’oeuvres to a public who doesn’t appreciate your service.

Dear friends, I am here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. You are special! You have what others today can only dream of. No, I’m not talking about a job…I’m talking about a vocation. A calling. I’ve called you here as my representatives- not merely to represent me in a passive or servile way. Oh, no dear friends. You are here in the very heart of my sacred ministry.

You have passed every test – great and small – that I have set before you. You have been patient in the face of the blind and callous mass of pagan humanity. You have signed the vow of secrecy. You have not missed one single day of work in a four month period preceding this talk. You do not speak in a derogatory or salacious manner. You are model citizens and excellent servers, but more than that- You are my Apostles friends.

Yes, you heard me right- Apostles. And I want to thank you for that.

Every day you have walked the holy aisles of my meeting houses, every time you have served my flock – whether you served them Tex Orton’s Mild Picante Sauce or Bobby Jo Jittmeyers’s Deep Fried Pork Cracklins – you have delivered! And now, now it’s time for you to know the tru—

(Bob freezes in the middle of the “oo” sound” as Hostess pauses the tape.)

Hostess: (interrupting, moving in front of the TV. Speaks soothingly) Now see there… Bob has placed his faith in you. Is there anyone here who feels unworthy of Bob’s love? Is there anyone here who would like to leave now to go back to their duties? (pause) No? Very well then, let’s continue…

(Hostess presses the play button, and backs away from the TV reverently.)

Bob: (continuing from before) …uth.

Friends, I’m talking about the Eucharist- the sacred ritual through which the Blood and Body of Christ are given to the members of the church. In ancient times this was only a metaphor- a beautiful metaphor. But today… Today things are different. In today’s world, a mere metaphor will no longer suffice. The world needs an honest-to-God Eucharist!

And through the miracle of Genetically Modified Foods, that’s what you have been bestowing upon the masses- the membership of My Holy Bob’s Clubs throughout the world. You and all those members I welcome through my doors are now of the body, of my body.

Yes, you heard me right. I’ve had my own genetic material put in everything we sell exclusively here at Bob’s Club: from Cousin Kate’s Home-Baked Ham to the very Heavenly Chocolate Whammies you have been eating here today.

Welcome to my body, you precious Apostles! Amen!

(lights out in the “TV Window”, lights up full in room.)

Hostess: (turns off TV, chews and swallows audibly) Amen! You are truly the blessed my brothers and sisters. Go with Bob, for he is the Light and the Way!

Dwayne: (milling around) Anybody want more o’ the Body? (pause) He’s delicious…

(lights fade out)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Berlioz Romeo & JulietFrom Michael Bartlett’s House of Last Things.

berliozbigtall

 

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

SIN

(lights up full)

Friends, what’s so deadly about the Seven Deadly Sins?

Let’s break that problem down, by addressing the sins by name.

Who can tell me what those sins are? Don’t be shy now. I won’t bite.

Lust! Yes, sir!

Well, Lust is the first thing on the minds of some of us here today. And why not?

Lust is a simple desire for pleasure, for gratification of our senses, especially of a sexual nature. So it is written, and so indeed I believe it is. So, I ask you congregation, what’s wrong with that? Did not the good lord above grant to us five senses? How many among you really know the last time you smelled something of the divine? When you last tasted something sublime? When you touched the thigh of a… ahem. Well, it is perfectly human to feel such yearnings, and to have them fulfilled, is it not? We are but creatures of flesh and blood as the Lord himself made us, and yet the desire for sensual attainment is listed here as first among seven “deadly” sins. Now who can name me another one?

Pride, yes indeed – A sense of one’s own dignity and worth I believe it is. Is that wrong somehow? Should we be meek and mild and easily brought to heel by any old tin-plated, un-elected despot? A tsar? A pope? An Imam?

Anger, yes. Mighty Anger – A righteous and important emotion. Without anger, nothing ever changes. This great country would not exist but for righteous anger. There would have been no historical Tea party in Boston, no Declaration of Independence. No Little Big Horn.

Covetousness. Without coveting things, well… We’d never buy anything we didn’t need. Imagine! Never again an impulse buy in the express lane at the Piggly Wiggly, or at the day-after-Thanksgiving everything-must-go bonanza! Wouldn’t this be just another impoverished third world country without covetousness? I think it would.

Are you getting the same impression I am from this list of so-called “Deadly Sins”? That perhaps – just perhaps – we in the church have been… How shall I put this? Wrong?

Perhaps the emphasis should never have been on these so-called Sins, but instead on the word Deadly. There’s nothing in this world that leads to Death… like Life. Are you with me here people? And if these so-called Sins are the hallmarks of living rich and free and sexually satisfied, well, I’ve got to say I’m all for them. Aren’t you?

The only thing that’s wrong with these “sins” lies in their constancy. Sloth and Gluttony are fine, even desirable. You’ve just got to get into the correct rhythm. Too much of a good sin, now that’s a problem. Too little of a sin, well – that’s not desirable either, is it?

If more of our workaholic parishioners could be bothered with a little bit of Sunday Sloth, wouldn’t they be better off? If the anorexics among us – those little engines of willpower gone wrong – would just eat a sandwich or a saltine occasionally. It’s neither Vanity nor Gluttony you need to beware of; it’s too much of one at the expense of the other.

Seize the Day people! There’s only so much eating and drinking and vanity and righteous pride and fornicating that this holy day can hold. I say – Get down with your bad selves, and to those selves be true!

(blackout)

 

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile.

MurderOnTheNile

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

A Feeling of Death

(lights up slowly)

 I get a strong feeling of death here.

This is your roommate on drugs – In the middle of a cemetery.

But like what if this isn’t the end? What if there’s more? But there’s no David Bowie there? What if he stayed behind? What then? What if he… you know what I’m saying…

This is your roommate still on drugs.

The Egyptians. Ah. They knew all about the afterlife. People put too much emphasis on the whole pulling-the-brains-out-through-the-nose thing… I mean look at the quality of those Mummies! That was craftsmanship!

This is your roommate talking about his great passion- Ancient Egypt. Sitting on a fraying caned chair painted that hideous avocado that had been so popular in the 70’s. Is he on drugs? Maybe, but when it comes to ancient Egypt, you can never tell.

Your roommate Jerry is high of voice and nervous of manner– excitable. You’re not sure the drugs are a good thing. The dirty brown bong water mildewing his shag carpet surely isn’t a good thing. His new boyfriend is definitely not a good thing – and “thing” is really the only word that seems to fit. And his family – they’re worst of all. They hide their epic ignorance behind a thin Southern veneer of hatred and bigotry. When he lived at home his family – especially his Mother – were mean to him all the time. And you don’t want to be mean, not to Jerry. He is mean enough to himself. He’s is a fine, caring, sensitive person and he takes abuse personally – not that his friends care. He’s so much fun to hang out with that they make him their own sort of whipping boy. And he takes it all in with a bittersweet smile, happy of their attention. He’s as sweet a person as ever there was…

And if he uses illicit substances from time to time, so what? If he lets himself be mistreated by others, well that’s just his way. If he wishes for a better relationship with his parents, well who doesn’t? He’s going to inherit the earth after all. You know he is.

And if he’s taking risks with sex and drugs, well… what are you going to do about it? Are you going to sit him down and have a talk? Are you going to talk some sense into the man? Tell him how much you care? Tell him that he’s going to inherit the Earth?

Is that what you’ll do?

That’s what I did. And then, in a way, I inherited the Earth.

It wasn’t supposed to be like that. I’d convinced Jerry that he needed to be treated better and that a change of scene could only help. Jerry and I both left, but we went to separate places. He eventually returned to the house where we’d lived, and to the same destructive friends and behavior. I never did.

I saw him seldom in the year that followed.

I saw him once in the hospital. He was his usual jolly pixilated self, the only difference was his hair. I told him he looked good bald, and he did. Like an adult for the first time- shorn of golden ringlets of his youth. He spoke of his friends, the ones who’d been so helpful. The ones who didn’t sit him down and tell him he’d fucked up and that things would have to change. That he deserved better, that we both did.

He spoke of the nurses. So great, so loving, so unlike his own family. So supportive of the dying – and that was him – the dying. They understood him and made his days better. At last, the perfect roommates… But the best roommates never last.

I went back to see him once more, while I still could. It was evening and I went alone. The nurse checked on him and told me that he was asleep. Then she whispered that he was really awake. Did I want to see him?

Did I want to see him? Yes.

Did he want to see me? That was the real question. Did he want to see me?

The one who knew it didn’t have to be this way. The one who told him so. The one he’d disappoint by dying. No. He didn’t want to see me.

I handed the Nurse a small golden box I’d brought and waited quietly while she passed it to him. I waited to hear him open it. I waited to see if he’d call for me then. He didn’t. I walked quietly away and never saw him again.

(long pause)

I get a strong feeling of death here.

This is your roommate’s urn.

The Egyptians. Ah. They knew all about the afterlife.

These are your roommate’s ashes.

I didn’t know what it was. But he had it with him in the bed. He was holdin’ onto it tight at the end. I wanted to meet you and thank you for that. You did make it?

This is your roommate’s mother. The woman you’ve never met. The woman who never got it, who never understood, who never loved her son.

You tell her that it’s called an ankh. It’s a symbol that the ancient Egyptians used to represent life. You made it out of clay and painted it in gold. You tied a purple ribbon through it and put it in a golden box. You were so sorry for her loss. You felt sure it was her loss.

Well, when we put Jerry’s body in the fire, we put your gift in with him. Is that alright?

Is that alright?

(blackout)

Theatrical Thursday

Theatre poster of the week, Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward.

BlitheSpirit

No Shame Theatre post of the week.

Litterbug

Cast

Guard 1 – Surly. Disgusted by Evan. No time for small talk.

Guard 2 – Rough. Hates Evan’s guts. No time for small talk.

Evan Mould – Funeral Director with a difference, mid-thirties, southern accent.

Dan Bailey – State prosecutor, mid-thirties, grave, an old friend of the Mould family. Has a manila folder with papers that he shuffles through nervously. Avoids eye contact.

 

 (A windowless conference room in a Southern prison. One table front & center with two chairs. Lights up on the table and Dan sitting, thinking, his briefcase sits near his side. The door opens and the two guards escort Evan in.)

Guard 1: (to Dan) Here’s the defendant you ordered, sir….

Guard 2: (to Evan) Enjoy your visit, you little goat-fucker.

(Guards exit and shut door hard behind them. Dan rises, briefly considers shaking Evan’s hand. Doesn’t. Dan sits back down.)

Evan: Nice to see you too, Dan. You wouldn’t want those guards thinking we grew up together or anything would you?

(Evan sits down)

Dan: Look, I’m not here as your friend, Evan. I’m here off the record- To see if we can’t diffuse this… this situation. If not, I’ll be prosecuting you tomorrow. I’m not looking forward to that any more than you are.

Evan: But, Dan, I am looking forward to it. I’ve been looking forward to it ever since they picked me up. I’ve got nothing to hide, man. You ought to know that. It’s not like I plan to wear a bulletproof vest for the rest of my life. The sooner this kangaroo court is done a-hopping, the better for everyone.

Dan: I’m sorry about the guards just now. That’s just unprofessional.

Evan: He’s just pissed about what he thinks I did with his sister… No big deal. He’s the least of my problems now, believe me. I’ve had death threats coming every day in the mail. Did you hear about the bomb they planted in my car? There are some crazy ass redneck fools in this town, Dan …and they all want me dead. Assholes.

(a momentary awkward silence)

Dan: (resigned) OK. You want to tell me about it?

Evan: About what?

Dan: About what you’ve done…

Evan: What I’ve done!?! I haven’t done a damned thing, Dan. It ain’t exactly a sin of commission we’re talking about here. You and the DA gonna throw the book at me for a little littering?

Dan: (disbelieving) Littering? A little littering!?! Come on, Evan, I think we both know better than that. Don’t we?

Evan: Yeah, you’re right. It’s not even littering, ’cause it’s my damn property to begin with. And it’s all biodegradable- All of it. That’s nature’s plan, Dan. Funny what you forget when you go off to Tulane. Too much law, too little sense.

Dan: Surely even you understand all the fraud charges. There are four hundred and nineteen of them so far.

Evan: Don’t talk to me about fraud, Dan. This blessed state of ours wants every corpse in a coffin, even those bound for cremation. That’s the real death tax. Death and Taxes, together again…

You ever hear those coffin salesman tell the truth? You ever hear them talk about the need to air out a corpse? How the methane builds up? How those fancy airtight coffins explode? You ever hear them talking about dressing the dead? About the all that waste? No?

You ever see the other morticians at work, Dan? All that wax, all those needles, the toupees, the make up? It’s like being backstage in Vegas with Wayne Newton. Those morticians are God damn magicians at making the money of the bereaved disappear. Into thin and rotting air.

You gonna sit there and tell me you never knew that our business was different? All those meals together? All the times you borrowed my old man’s suits? All the times you took some of mama’s prize-winning roses to your girl? All those times you “respectfully suggested” that we raise our prices, told us we were “noncompetitive and should be more like the other mortuaries”?

You just weren’t paying attention, Dan. The truth is, the Mould family practices what we preach- “From the earth we are made. From the Earth we shall return.” Always have, always will. You tell me what’s wrong in that.

Dan: It’s illegal, for starters. The whole town wants you dead.

Evan: This whole town don’t know its ass from its elbow, Dan. Hell, half of them still think we won the war.

Dan: (reluctant) And there is the desecration of all those bodies to consider.

Evan: That’s all they are, Dan. Bodies. There’s nobody home. The lights are out for good. There’s nobody left inside to worry about where the bodies lie. I could stack them up like so much cord wood or pose them like dogs playing poker. Hell, I could dress ‘em in capes and spandex and put them on my roof. The plain truth is, they just don’t care. They are empty envelopes whose contents have all been skillfully removed by a hand mightier than yours or mine… You think tearing down a forest and spending a fortune on an industrial furnace is more “sacred”? We human beings are scum, Dan- Scum – Lawyers like you most of all. The least—hell, the most—we can do is leave our bodies to the soil.

Dan: They are talking about the death penalty, Evan. Some people are talking about… about leaving your body out to rot afterward, just like you did with all those others.

Evan: And teach them the lesson first hand? (thinks for a moment) Sure, Dan. I’m up for that. Just make sure you come and pick a rose off me every now and then, ya hear?

(smiles)

(blackout)