W52: “On the ship that does not return” – A treatment for a play of which 1/2 has been staged as ‘The Run’ and other 1/2, ‘Exit’, is currently assembling itself

Note: the audience sits where the stage normally is, looking down to the setting of the play: a black box. At times, the scenes will involve actors speaking both from inside and outside of this box towards the group on the other “side” of the box, or towards the audience.

Throughout, it is as if the audience is watching the actual experiment from a control room.

Act 1

Lights on NOGINO, a very pale female, outside of the box. She talks about Helium syndrome, an illness that makes inflicted patients unable to maintain body balance, thus cannot function normally. She also talks about what is “normal”. Light out.

Lights inside the box on LY, a Vietnamese female with a gag on her eyes, and JODE, a Caucasian male wearing large ear blocks, both attached on top of strange looking poles – Ly’s look like a very tall throne with planets attached to it and Jode’s like a dead tree. They talk to the audience as if writing their diaries, some parts of which involving the other person. From here we know that they are both Helium patients. Some information on their personal lives are shared: Jode lives in a tree house that calms him; for Ly, not only she can’t see but anything she perceives becomes an item in a universe that she perpetually “look at” with her eyes closed.  They are on the last day of the preparation for their treatment: a satellite-voyage into space. We also learn that they have feelings for each other. Light out.

Lights on MIKA, a mixed-race male, on a pole that looks like it’s emitting lightning. Tourettic, he talks about his condition: Helium illness makes his brain sends all sort of wrong signals to his locomotive outposts so he ends up like a marionette of himself though having extreme intelligence. He shares his understanding of the Boron project that he’s part of – the third of a series of extravagant experiments to treat Helium syndrome. We see that he is actually more curious about the entire thing than the treatment of his own illness. Light out.

Lights now on NOGINO on her pole, a white worm-like structure with her at its mouth. She has an oxygen mask on her face and cannot talk much. We see that she is severely sick. Light out.

Sound interferes with Nogino’s laboured breath. The scene moves to the outside of the box: enter THE DUKE, a tired looking old Indian male and THE CAPTAIN, an East-Asian looking male. Their conversation also spins on the last day of the preparation, giving us more information of how this program has been planned and now before the launch, who is expecting what from it. It appears that this Boron program is so grand in scale that the whole world will be watching this autopilot satellite launch tomorrow. At the end of the conversation, there are mentions of the Duke’s sons, who we’ll understand to have passed away from Helium illness. Light out.

Launch of the Boron satellite. The outside of the box looks very busy: many STAFF, uniformed in black tights from head to toe, station and monitor the progress; some are inside the box, pushing 4 poles together. The Captain addresses the press about this historic moment. The old Duke silently watches the countdown. We see the 4 patients are finally pushed together, still on their poles but inside egg-like capsules, ready to be launched. As the whole box shake and the missile sound is heard, we know that the satellite is launched.

Blackout.

Act 2

From outside of the box, Nogino speaks again on how life in space gives the patients one thing they did not achieve on earth: the balance of their body. Weightless, they are actually in control. The experiment is showing marvelous results. Nogino opens the stage to Jode and Ly talking, to Mika and the Captain discussing the ship, and from outside of the box, she glides inside and lies down on her bed. We see that her health has improved from before the launch.

Ly and Jode talk about how their bodies change, the very new sensations only now available to them: sense of touch, undisturbed hearing, fixed vision for Jode. Ly hopes she can see “normally” soon. Their conversation reveals what makes them attracted to each other: Jode, unable to hear, has an image of a lion in his head. Ly, unable to see, perceives such a lion in her vision of the universe. While they talk about the possibility of actually seeing a lion running in space, enters Mika who speaks much less tourettically, and who’s excited with the progresses of this program. The Captain joins, agreeing with Mika. Only Nogino hasn’t been well enough to stand by herself – we see her attached to her bed in one corner with a light smile on her face. They talk about the possibility of coming back to earth, healed and healthy.

Light switches to the Duke from outside the box. He has been watching them. He judges their happiness – it is not acceptable that they are happy or hopeful in their treatment, since his sons have gone under miserable conditions and he is the one who propels this treatment for this Boron group. He wants them to feel what his sons have felt. We see that he gives order to the Captain, who leads the group to see the two preserved corps inside the satellite: they are the Duke’s sons, who after the first attempt to treat Helium syndrome with parabola flight, have both transformed into trees and ceased to exist. It is now known that the second experiment has seen the patients transformed into different matters (water, dust, metal, and micro-organism). Both transformations are the result of them coming back into earth gravity. We now see that a part of the Duke’s plan from the beginning is to recreate his sons’ experience. The Boron group will have to return to earth instead of orbiting it and – in the Duke’s hope – also transform into something that the program can analyze and in that way, the Duke hopes to reverse the process and bring his sons back to life.

We see Jode, Ly and Mika react to this news: confused, angry, despair. At one point Ly says if she can see the shared universe with Jode it would be ok. Mika develops the second personality, a mischievous joker who feeds on what Mika knows of the ship and the program to devise a certain plan. Nogino has recovered fully, now functioning like a normal person, much resembled the Captain, showing little interest in the news. The 2nd personality of Mika confronts her. We see here that Nogino has actually prepared herself to die in the experiment, and she has known of this plan all along. She wasn’t born with the illness like the other 3 but develops it at one point in her life, and it has been unbearable. She thinks participating in this experiment is her way to die with meaning, not to live anymore. She lets Mika know that even if she is that ready to sacrifice herself for a cause, it is not her nor anyone here that is desired. The only one that they’re watching is Jode, for he is the most likely to turn into trees like the Duke’s son. At this point, the two are joined by Jode, who informs them that Ly is deteriorating from inside – her cells are dying at a rate she will soon dissolve into thin air.

Light on Ly wearing oxygen mask. She describes her own death, which is very similar to her illness condition but now she experiences it with affection because she has Jode and his lion in her universe. Jode joins her, saying that he doesn’t mind the state of dying or transforming but he wants to experience it with her. Mika devises a plan.

Nogino speaks from outside the box again. She knows Mika’s plan – she does not divulge it to the audience – and she’s torn between just letting things go and helping Mika with that. We also see the Duke giving order for the satellite to come back to earth. From upstage, the two personalities of Mika talk to each other, both are excited of the plan and of the possibility of change because they have been so drown in the Helium world, that is so lonely and has no exit. It seems like the two personalities see each other as friend. This brings Nogino to realize deep down she does not want to be alone; it is not the illness but the loneliness that is unbearable. She decides. Nogino goes into the box to look for Mika. They agree on the plan. We hear the Captain announces to the Duke that Ly has already started her transformation and by the time the satellite reaches earth she will be no more. The Duke says just bring Jode back. We see the capsule of Jode closing with him inside.

Act 3

A monitor shows the audience that the satellite has come back down to earth but the press is not allowed to access what’s inside it. An ANCHOR PERSON says the world awaits further news from Boron Program Headquarter.

Outside of the box, all Staff are out again to coordinate the fetching of the returned satellite.  The Duke watches the capsules open. The one with Nogino has her in it. The one with Ly has nothing. The one with Mika has a mass of brain (a deformed hippocampus). And the one with Jode has the Captain in it. Lights down, only spotlights showing the Duke looking at the four capsules, intently, with hatred, sorrow, and a desperate hope. Light diminishes slowly to black.

From the monitor, the Anchor person reports that it has been four months since the satellite has come back but still no news from the Boron Program. Lights on the Duke at the same spot, watching Nogino in her oxygen mask. He looks old and defeated. The Staff dances around, analyzing her.

Light down on the Duke, now only on Nogino. She opens her eyes. She looks for something.

Light up on Mika’s pole, now with his hippocampus attached on top. Nogino smiles. With difficulty, she talks to the hippocampus about how genius Mika has been in hiding Jode and Ly in the emergency capsules and pushing them out of the satellite before it comes back to earth. She says now they are just floating up there, maybe really never to return at all. She says she’ll die soon and might turn into a worm because she has dreamt of worms her whole life. She thanks Mika and bids farewell. She drops the mask.

Light up on two capsules hung from the ceiling with Jode and Ly sleeping inside. The background shows the galaxy with a little lion running from planet to planet.

Lights down to black.

***

image by Phunam 🙂

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W51: Act 1 (P5-finito)

(continued)

(os)

– LY? Hello?

LY (with glee)

– V. Come in please!!!

(flush light on.V enters. SHADOW runs offstage, hides behind TRA, then squats on a chair. Ly sees him)

V

– Hello LY.

LY

– Hello V. You got the script?

V

– Yes. Thank you. A few of us took a read. It’s really different to what we’ve accustomed to, almost like a total other person has written it.

LY

– Same same but different. What do you think?

V

– Hard to say. We’re all a little vagueabout the story.

LY (sits where V sits before)

– OK. What don’t you understand?

V

– This is what we do get: there’s this duo who set out looking for each other; on the way they encounter all kinds of challenges. That’s the basic story right? But up until the end I still don’t get why they do so in the first place.

LY

– Those two characters are concepts, symbols. You read them the way you want, you give it your own reasoning. I can’t tell anyone what to think. 

V

– Concepts. Symbols. You don’t think it can be easier for the audience if the story is more specific?

LY

– They have all the tools to interpret it. Why complicate things?

V

– Complicate things!? To be specific will be to de-complicate things for sure!!! Let’s use one of your previous scripts as example: “a dream messenger tells Mr. Phuc how to find a pot of gold. Mr. Phuc is suspicious so he sends someone, Ms. Nô, to retrieve it. Ms. Nô travels an eventful journey to get the gold. Coming back she is tricked to believe she has been dreaming all along and just happily gives the gold to Mr. Phuc. The gold turns out to be dreams themselves. Mr. Phuc is massively angry; Ms. Nô, realising she’s tricked to give up her dreams, no longer believes in anything in the world; the dream messenger keeps playing flute. Everybody is unhappy at the end.” That’s a bunch of symbols and concepts that everybody gets. This, I’m sorry, no. What it says is “somebody, an undetermined someone, boards a plane that does not return, and so does a strange girl with strange eyes. Then the plane failed. Then they went their separate ways but they do this strange thing to connect to one another when what they can do is to send an email or to call, or text”. Really?

LY (laughs)

– That’s funny how you put it. But email and call and text! Tell that to Romeo. He’ll agree.

V

– It’s not how I put it, it’s you. I’m curious, did you envision this whole new script the way it is now from the beginning?

LY

– Would it mean anything if I tell you it was?

V

– Was it?

LY

– Nah. I’ve written the entire thing anew.

V

– What about the old script?

LY

– Still there somewhere, just can’t find it anymore. You can try (scattering the papers);some pages might be down here (scatters more papers)

V

– Gee. What about opening up the world and such? This new script is how you unseal that world?

LY

– Depending on where you want to go. 

V

– I’m not Alice thank you very much. I know very well where I want to go. But your map is confusing as hell.  

LY

– Maybe you wanna go back to the stadium. Very good idea of you the other day. Cleared my mind.

V

– That so? (Looks at the spot that she saw LY putting the script under, finds nothing)

LY

– That so yeah. I never thought sharks would be so helpful.

V

– Yeah yeah. If I knew you’d take this turn I wouldn’t have suggested the stadium at all. Seems like a fortress like this one is good for you.

LY

– You think so? (Beat)V when I told you I’d stop looking for another entrance to that world what did you think I meant?

(flushes the papers on LY’s ground)

– You’d stop writing Act II. What else?

LY (smiles)

– I’d sure stop. Yes. But (beat)V, you want to come up the stairs and look at the sky? I saw it earlier. It’s very very blue today (goes SL, climbs the ledge)

V

– Meh, thanks, I see plenty of sky all the time. Pretty much the same. Big and (beat)just hanging there while I have so many things to deal with.

LY

– True. Maybe how it looks is not that important to anyone but me.

V

– Good for you.

LY

– Yes. Good for me.

(light dims down. UV light up, shining the papers again. LY takes out a black cloak, wears it so she becomes somewhat invisible. SHADOWS come on stage again, dancing and swirling up the papers. He touches V)

V

– Man what’s that? (SHADOWS poke V lightly). Gee these… Things! LY? (Beat)I’m going. But I’ll be in touch again soon. LY?

(SHADOW takes out a few red dots, stick them around, on himself, on the papers, on Ly. V finds her way between SHADOWS and papers toward SR)

V

– Bye bye! (Exit)

(beat. MUSIC: Saint-Saens’s Danse macabre: 6:23-7:08, pianissimo. SHADOW embraces Ly)

(blackout)

LY

– Bye bye.

(end)

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W50: Act 1 (P4)

(continued)

(os)

– LY?? Hello? (Beat)LY are you ok? (Beat)Hello?

(SHADOW dances towards center stage-right. MUSIC: Vivaldi’s ‘La Notte-Largo: 00:52 – 01:12 picks up. Ly breaks from balled-up position, stretching up like just awaken from sleep. SHADOW mimics Ly’s movement. Ly recognizes SHADOW, goes to stand across it. spot lights on SHADOW and Ly..Music subdues)

SHADOW (voiced over by Actor #1)

– I’m boarding that plane in about fifteen hours.

LY

– Are you scared?

SHADOW

– No, not that. I don’t know what to be scared of, or to expect.

LY

– Are you sad?

SHADOW

– Sad… For what?

LY

– For not knowing what to expect.

SHADOW

– The plane doesn’t return, I’ll be traveling for an eternity. That’s a long time to expect for.

LY

– I can’t imagine you without any feeling.

SHADOW

– I’m only who you think I am. What do I feel?

LY

– You feel like your breath is drawn out of you, like you’re dancing a devil dance in which each step erodes your existence a little. You feel like falling and the air tightens around you, it coagulates and it strangles you. You feel all of your compartments without knowing what they are for, what are your hands for, your legs, your belly. You see yourself thinking but you don’t produce a single thought. You follow your eye sight, you see everything and not understanding anything. You have thorns coming out of your stomach, yet you don’t have any pain. The thorns are you. There are too many sounds you can’t distinguish and what you hear is but a storm of silence. But there’s music, yes there is music. It guides you. You go where it goes, like floating along a very very gentle river. You see your destination without ever reaching it. And you don’t want to arrive anywhere. You don’t expect anything. Unless, unless to find someone. Yes you want to find someone. (Picks up a few sheets on the floor)You want to see, hear, feel the person. You want to be embraced. You want to (beat)not be so lonely in infinity (beat)because infinity is… is…(Go towards the panel again)I want to see you.

SHADOW

– I’m here 

(spotlight off. Flush light on stage)

LY 

– Yes. You’re here. I’m good now. Yes.

(SHADOW dances again. All light off, UV lights on. All the papers, clothes and white things reflect the UV shine. MUSIC: Vivaldi’s La Notte: presto: 00:00-00:15, p)

(to be continued)

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W49: Act 1 (P3)

(continued)

LIGHT change: flush, house light on lower stage too

(enters EIGHT to stand on the raised platform. He dresses like a boxing trainer and drinks from a sport drink)

(enter LY and V from stage right. they are surprised at the sound)

V

– Woah, what’s this?

EIGHT (shouts over the taiko drumming sound)

– V! Come!

(LY and V goes towards SL. drumming sound subdues but still audible throughout the scene. EIGHT, LY nod to each other)

V

– Hi EIGHT, what’s with the sound?

EIGHT

– Actors training.

V

– What do they train?

EIGHT

– Rock climbing. Running. Calisthenics. Those kinds of things. (Shouts to the back of the audience)HELLO I’M STILL HERE. IT’S NOT TWO MINUTES YET. GET DOWN TO THAT SQUAT.

(squints towards the back of the audience)

– Okey. Are they my actors?

EIGHT

– Yep. They’re warming up, then they’ll be sharks.

V

– Sharks. Where’re sharks from? What script is Mr. DIRECTOR working on again?

EIGHT

– No script. Special Director training. Your actors are all looks but can’t do even 20 push up. Gotta bulk them up. (Shouts)SIR THAT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE A SQUAT. GET DOWN.

V (to Ly)

– Are there sharks in your new script by any chance?

LY

– Haven’t thought of that but (dismisses the thought). What’s all this?

V

– Told you this director is a peculiar one. And this is just a meet-up, who knows what else is in store. Oh that one doing squat really looks like “i want to go the chinese way but my mom says no” doesn’t he?

LY

– Oh yeah. And that one, whatever he does, is like “i’m a frog, I jump and jump and I don’t like it”

V

– True, true! (Side)It’s actually called frog-jump. But maybe Captain Obvious here would like to think she named it. (To LY)hey I gotta talk to Mr. Director before my actors break all their pretty bones. You ok being here a bit? I think he’s around so I wouldn’t be long.

LY

– Don’t worry about me.

V

– I kinda should. But ok. In a bit. (to EIGHT) Is Director in the hut?

EIGHT

– Should be.

 V

– Ok. See you guys in a bit.

(V exits SL hurriedly)

(as V exits, taiko drumming sound picks up)

EIGHT

– Guys, frog jump towards me. Do it properly. HOP! And jump. And HOP! And jump! HIGHER KNEES! TOUCH YOUR BOOBS! (side)I should be so happy if you can touch your lower abs. (to Ly)Come up here please, you’re in the way

(EIGHT goes down to center stage, Ly climbs up the ledge, ACTOR #1 and ACTOR #2 frog jump from the back of the audience towards stage, looking exhausted)

EIGHT

– Gentlemen, warm up yet? (ACTOR #1 and #2 give EIGHT a blood-shot look)Oh, no stamina but that’s a lot of anger. Good. Now comes the exercise. Lets be sharks. (points to the red dot on the ceiling)Sharks, up there is your meat. Try catching it. Once you do, you may rest. But before that, you’re just angry and hungry, like you are now. Come.

(ACTOR #1 and #2 jump clumsily. The following section is delivered over the ascendingsound of taiko drumming)

EIGHT

– Ah hah! Thinking of how to use your legs? Sharks don’t have legs. Guys. You don’t have shoulders, stop thinking about them. You don’t have hands or rib case. You’re a fucking weight with a tail. You have teeth and speed, that’s it. Smell the blood – it gets directly in your brain, it releases you from thinking. The blood leads you to that meat? Yes you know that meat is there and you want it. But then there’re other sharks, they want it too. You can’t let that happen. Fight them. Push them! Bite them! (ACTOR #1 and #2 “swim” around, responding to each other like cats defending their food)SHARKS, you’re SHARKS! Fight like one! (Actors gradually behave more fish-like, e.g. less claws or neck, more upper back and face)VERY NICE! Fight for the meat. Punch in. Draw out. Observe! Fight back, you, fight back! Chase them away! This is your meat! Take the chance when the other is down! Catch it. Fly! Lengthen your reach! Reach up! UP! UP! (throws the sport drink)

(at one point everybody including EIGHT jumps, trying to catch the “meat”. taiko drum sound picks up further to VERY LOUD. LY stands up and tries to reach to the dot too but she can’t – it is too far.)

EIGHT (flings his arms up)

– Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

(everybody freezes. taiko drumming stops.Lights out completely.Twospotlights on Ly and the sharks)

(everybody slow-motion subsequent actions over LY’s lines: actors falling down on floor, EIGHT motivating them to go on at no avail so he gets everybody up and exit stage-left, picking up his sport drink; V enters checking on LY and then exits stage-right. LY does not recognize any of those actions. she goes down from the platform. at the end of her lines she is alone on stage)

LY

– What is it? What is all of this? Sharks. I don’t get them. I can’t touch them. No, I know they’re here but I can’t feel them. Sharks? Where are they? Why does their existence elude me? Where is here? (slow taiko drumming picks up)The smell. I smell blood too. Why? The meat, I want it too. Why? My heart beats differently and my guts churn. I can’t control it. Why? (beat)It’s in me, these sharks and their world. I’m here. I… I’ve just been pushed out of myself and I’m watching myself think. I’m seeing myself wondering all these questions and can’t figure out any because at the very same time I’m not thinking, I’m just watching myself do that – I’m seeing myself inside me, in this shark world, in this void. From within. I’m filled with silence and nothing else. Yes. That’s why I hear myself but can’t understand anything. There’s nothing to be understood here. I’m the hollow right here. Ha ha ha… I’m wordless, and I’m nothingness. What is it that I’m feeling? (beat)Happy. I am happy, me, within and at the same time containing this void. Can I be? Yes I do feel it. This. I get it. I want to write this void, this indescribable nothingness. Now. Yes. I’ll do at least that before… Before…

(flush light on stage up. MUSIC: Tartini’s Devil’s Trill Sonata – Largo : 00:03-03:23 in mezzo-piano. spotlight on LY reaching for the red dot center stage.She moves about the stage as if trying to solve a puzzle. As she does so SHADOW comes out, slowly throwing papers:whiteall around Ly. She does not recognize SHADOW at first, then she catches a sheet of paper, then she catches more of them or pick them from the ground)

LY (gradually gets more pieces of her imaginary puzzle and becomes more relaxed)

– There there. You, good you. There. Thank you. Thank you.(SHADOW dance around Ly, who now recognizes him. She watches him, then, hurriedly retrieve more papers:with noteshidden under the speakers and lanced them around. all the papers have words on it: some are scripts, some are stories, some are random notes. When out of papers LY balls up between center-stage and stage-left. the papers fill the stage. SHADOW embraces Ly, then leave to dance again. Music continues until V’s line, then subdues)

(to be continued)

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W48: Act 1 (P2)

(continued)

V

– That’d be ideal.

(beat)

LY (descends from platform)

– Tell you what. Act I is done. It is by itself a finished play. If you want one so badly and cannot wait for an uncertain amount of time for me to complete Act II, you can take Act I back with you and do whatever you want with it. (retrieves a sealed envelopfrom the ground, hidden under the speakers SL and hands it mid-air towards V)Know though that once you take it, there would be no more Act II.

V

– Why?????

LY (dangles the script mid-air)

– Act I seals all pathways to that world you look to see. I don’t know how to unseal it yet. If you remove me from it, or it from me, I will stop looking. Let that world be closed up forever. I’ll be ok.

V

– You mean you will not write Act II if I take this now?

LY

– Yes ignorant one. I shall cease.

V

– I swear sometimes your English is not even correct yet you talk like you own it. (Sigh)Now, in all simplicity, if I claim this now, there would be no Act II (takes the script, caresses it). Considering the sealing off the world and such, I don’t think it’s a good idea of me to take this bait (returns the envelop, Ly hides it under the speaker SL again). My lady, you understand for me though that the whole crew behind me has a deadline to catch – a real one, not a fancy Discworld line. Would you please think with me on how to do this? Please? (move to SL to remember where the script is hidden)

LY (goes to SR)

– Sure. How do I help you then?

V

– Do you have any idea, however vague, about an estimated completion date? (LY shakes her head)Of course. What about… What you have done to ease the writing?

LY

– Ah, I just keep digging my wells. At least I try. Day by day.

V

– Simple English please. So like, you just sit and think?

LY

– And walk around and climb stairs and look at the sky.

V

– Poetic. Like a white-haired Rapunzel (chuckles self-humorously. LY doesn’t smile). Okey. Can I suggest you go somewhere with me? I know you don’t like to come out when you write, but since it hasn’t been helping, mind you try?

LY

– Where?

V

– A stadium. There’s a meeting up today with the company’s actors. No no you don’t have to talk to them. They wouldn’t really know who you are or how to talk to you. But there’s this Director who will be doing a play for the festival and we were hoping he’d be doing your play if you finish it – no pressure. He’s a star somewhere Europeanand a real pain in the ass. He has a talent of annoying the hell out of anyone he’s with. And to some extents he talks like you – all riddles and random stories. So NO I’m not asking you to talk to him. I’ll just have to go there anyway and I think it might be a good idea that you come take a look. You can sit very far from it and talk to no one as you wish. And NO I don’t expect you to finish this play afterwards. I’ll discuss with other producers and figure something. How does that sound to you?

LY

– It sounds great.

V

– Great. Shall we go now?

LY (moves downstage center, ball up)

– No.

V

– In a bit?

LY

– No.

(groans in compressed anger)

– Ever?

LY

– No.

(beat)

(enunciates, as if slithering the words to Ly’s ears)

– There’re cats.

LY

– Ah!

V

– A mother cat and four small ones. They live with the parking guy. White and yellow. One has blue eyes.

LY

– Ah….

V

– The small ones are about one month old so they walk like they’re on crotches still, but they jump around and play. Very friendly. All very long tailed but one, a very chubby one.

LY

– Let’s go.

(Ly gets up with difficulty but with much enthusiasm. V observes in triumph)

V

– Ah. Yes lets. (As they start to exit SR)I could have just mentioned the cats at the beginning?

LY (as she exits)

– You sold once. Don’t be cocky.

(os)

– Yeah whatever.

(as LY and V exit, sound of taiko drumming starts, then ascends)

(to be continued)

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W47: Act 1 (P1)

CHARACTERS

(In order of appearance)

CHARACTER #1             LY, a playwright. 50-ish. Female. Looking like Helena Bonham Carter. 

CHARACTER #2             V, a producer. 30-ish. Slim and chic. Can be female or male. Either way, V has the gait of a tango dancer

CHARACTER #3             [absent]

CHARACTER #4             EIGHT, Assistant Director 2. 30-ish. Preferably male but can also be female. Very fit. Humorless.

CHARACTER #5 & #6        ACTORS/ACTRESSES. Can be either male or female. Toned and beautiful. Preferably both Vietnamese but one of them can be of another nationality

CHARACTER #7             SHADOW #1. Male, wearing black tight knit from top to bottom. Can be whom playing #5 or #6

SETTING

Scene beginning: LY’s study, internal. Day time. A raised platform on SL

Scene middle: stadium, external. Day time. 

End of scene: LY’s study, internal. Day time. 

TIME

Mid afternoon to evening

SCENE 1-AND-ONLY

(black out)

(light up – flush, on stage only. LY sitting on the floor stage-left, holding an array of papers, scribbling. MUSIC: Saint Saens’s Danse Marcabre: 00:00-00:34)

(Enters V from stage-right. MUSIC fades and stop)

LY (not looking up)

– My. Thought a strange wind breezes in but it’s just you. (Looks up). Hello V.

V

– Hello LY. You look as radiant as ever.

LY

– That’s nice of you. I guess the witch look has come back out there then?

V

– It’s never been totally out. You could have, you know, come out sometimes to see yourself?

LY

– Haha sure. To let all the things out there dilute me. The company wouldn’t want that, would they?

V

– The company sure doesn’t want you diluted. But what about you? It’s been, what, two months now? You don’t want to take a walk or something?

LY

– A walk. (Stands up with difficulty, leave the papers). I walk plenty in here V. Look I have the stairs. I take it everyday. (Walks up to the raised platform SL)It takes me quite some time to reach the window there. I reach it though. I look outside. Up here I can see the sky. At this time of year it’s so blue. There’s not much cloud and if they pass by, they’re the thinnest strains of clouds. Like spider’s silk. There’s no spider. You wouldn’t want to see a spider up there, it’d be awful. No just blue sky and very silky clouds. I watch them float by. I watch the sun set too. It’s a bit hard from here. I really have to look out the window. But I watch it come down. I was impatient but at the same time I don’t want it to disappear. Sometimes when the last ray of light hangs on to those little houses over there I wished it’d stay like that, or maybe just stay for a bit more. But it always disappears. Then it’s dark. And it’s cold. And I wonder where my day has gone.

(while LY talks, V comes leafing through the papers that LY left. She doesn’t listen much to LY)

V

– Days are always gone LY. Not just for you but for everyone else. We grow old and we die. Just before that we want to do something, you know, like a good play that we all wait for you to finish the script for.

LY

– Script. Yes. I finished Act I.

V

– Marvelous. Can I see it?

LY

– No.

V

– No?

LY

– No.

(beat)

V (sits SR – begins negotiation)

– May I know why?

LY

– Act II needs a bit more time. And I’d rather you have it after it completes.

V

– I understand you want us to see a finished work. The company is a little impatientso they just want to take a glimpse into what they’re expecting.

LY

– What are they expecting?

(vividly)

– ANOTHER UNBELIEVABLE ENCOUNTER! ANOTHER METEOR FULL OF SEAWEED! ANOTHER DREAM MESSENGER PLAYING FLUTE! ANOTHER RACOON THAT TURNS INTO THE MOON! LY, ANOTHER PIECE OF THAT WORLD NOBODY BUT YOU SEEM TO KNOW HOW TO ENTER. ONCE WE ARE IN WE DON’T WANT TO COME OUT. THIS FESTIVAL NEEDS SOMETHING OUT OF THIS WORLD. WE WANT. ANOTHER. PATHWAY. TO. YOURS.

LY

– My. What’s with you? I thought you were the “magical producer”. You sound like a “desperate actor”.

(chuckles)

– One for you. I am desperate. You know how close we are to pre-production already? A week. And I don’t have the script yet.

LY

– Are you saying I should finish it in a week?

(to be continued)

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Week 46: “Tell, Letter, Mayonnaise, Chicken, Encrypted, Tree Voice, Lover, Father”

Dear Langone,

There are ripples on your pond.

Identical, those ripples,

jutting up at the perfect distance from each other.

The way water folds

makes me feel

I really could see the wind blow.

How are you

My encrypted lover.

Do you still write letters

To no one in particular.

Do you still record yourself

And love yourself doing so

(What a weirdo)

Are you still obsessed

With chickens

And tell everybody around

Of their bubbles

Really, Langone, nobody would know what you talk about

Nobody but one 

Who you said

Set himself out on a quest

For those things

And you’ve never seen him since

And you still think

And you still think, Langone,

You still think

You’re nearing him.

I’m sitting next to my crispy buffalo wings

Served with mayonnaise and chilli sauce

For me they’re good

Cuz they’re tasty

I don’t need bubbles, no, not me

I’m happy

Sitting here under this father of a tree

Eating fast food

And don’t care much of anything

This shan’t be the last time I write to you

But when that last time does come

You wouldn’t know

Cuz it’ll already have passed

Far, gone, past

You 

And if you wrote me then

Ah…. no, I don’t think so

Be well.

Love.

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Week 45: “Bubble, Gamma, Boredom, Dot, Trapeze, Red, Truth, Chicken, Tall”

I tell Al I had so many bubbles for him – I’ve saved them for quite some time now, just didn’t know when to give it to him. They’re nice bubbles but nobody just gives people bubbles, you know, especially to someone special, so I waited. Today at one point our current conversation led to bubbles (or maybe it was led to me and my saving habit, I can’t remember, it was too red) and then I blurted out. Al’s face, that lovely trapeze of a face, lost three of its four points and gee I didn’t see this coming, turned into an ugly dot, freak freak freak what do I do what did I do how do I know the truth could turn somebody’s face into a dot, given boredom, the strongest tallest most powerful transformation tool could only ever reflect a fraction of gamma rays that nourish our plants. Al, Al, what do I do now? Can I untruth what I’ve said to you? Al, beloved Al, Al whose love for bubbles made him travel to Slo Land where all chickens have a second stomach, a bubble of a stomach, the urn of phantoms, wanted by all and guarded by no one for if the chicken gave up their stomach phantoms would be released into our world and scare all the cows. And we cows froze to death from that. And Al who loved us just keep the chicken inside Sto Land and opened them up so he could see the bubbles. He didn’t know how I did this, of course he didn’t know. The point was that I’d done so for him but now he’s a dot.

Al, what do I do? I love you so much. I’d tell you how I did it but could you still hear me, a dot that you are now? Al, they’re all here with me, those bubbles, the nicest one in any known world. All for you Al.

The dot is still here, not Al.

Al?

Oops I’ve been lying for too long now I just kept going but the story wasn’t like that. Nope. Lemme try again.

AI is a cow. We all are. He has an addiction of gamma-bending bubbles. Those are rare – you do have to go to Sto Land and catch truth chickens and open their second stomach and tilt them this specific way for the bubbles to emerge, then if you’re very patient and don’t mind your own hair peeled off patch by patch, starting from the bags under your eyes where the hair is finest, then you wait in pain. AI seems not to mind cuz he’s done that a few times now (if he hadn’t need to wait for his hair to grow back he’d have done it every day but cows hair is just not the fastest growing thing on earth, similarly the skin beneath it). The wait awards you with the light being bent in the most marvellous way as the photons fly out in circles, yes in circles, and we cows are happy.

So AI told me all that the 103,449th time. His tall trapeze of a face wiggles wiggles. His hooves knock and knob on the field. His tail waggles in the chase of a dot whose choreograph is perceptible only to AI’s ass. Well I dare to say it’s a stupendous dance though nobody but me sees it. It saves me from the cowness boredom. I don’t like being a cow. There’re too few nice things about being a cow. Actually there’s nothing nice coming out of being a cow. Except for that you get to be near AI. That, no words could fully describe. I used to be able to fully describe that, mind you, as I’m a cow who can talk about things I like, just like AI who talks about the bubbles. I talk about leaves and the color turquoise and the sound of the hacking tube; it’s him all the time without him knowing it. I’m that skilled.

AI doesn’t know either that I do have a red bubble for him. I went to Sto Land. I’m in absolute fear of pain so I didn’t open the chicken up. I thought I could manoeuvre this deed smarter. I go then to see AI whose hair is growing back. He’s nodding and browsing with Ueng, the gentle thin one, twin of Leng, the gentle fat one. I motion AI out. He follows.

I tell AI if he opens my second stomach he’ll get a chicken whose stomach has already been slashed. AI should tilt me until the photon comes out. I’m 100% sure they will come out without AI’s hair peeled off. It is peeling me from inside instead. I feel that and also the gamma-bending light. Ah, now I can’t describe that in full, it’s getting too painful. Can’t outsmart pain I guess.

The last thing I tell AI is that I’m glad the phantoms don’t come out and kill us all. I mean AI, I hope he lives well. His hair just started to grow back so he looks somewhat ill but he’s still the closest to beautiful any cowness could near.

Al, what do I do? I love you so much. I’d tell you but I’m feeling like talking doesn’t make sense anymore. Do you get the bubble AI?

Still nothing is as beautiful as your cowness.

Al.

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W44: “Race, Rabbit, Measure, Thatched, Lord, Fly, Panel, Screen, Fan”

The morning I saw Lana Flaningan, there wasn’t any sound but the breaking of her thatched roof; the panels on my head glimmered.

Lana Flaningan smothered a rabbit by tying his legs up and cupping his snout for twelve minutes straight. The rabbit squirmed and Lana pressed her chest against the rabbit’s head the way she used to embrace it. Just this time she did not let go. I froze in a gape at her.

Twelve minutes was also how much it took that rabbit to catch the flying Smiles. It was an annual race, the 458th to be accurate. It was sparsely attended because the Lord had just passed and people needed to bathe when the sun went down. The crowd all brought their fans. And the breeze from those fans cracked on their head. It was a decaying hot twelve minutes.

Lana was watching. Her rabbit did not win. She had measured, it would take her rabbit fourteen minutes to catch the flying Smiles. But she couldn’t foresee that my rabbit would join the race. She couldn’t imagine that I would participate. She couldn’t fathom seeing me again. She couldn’t think that I still existed. She couldn’t grasp that this half of her survived her cutting it-me off. She couldn’t understand herself still breathing after killing off it-her.

But I did survive. And my rabbit won the race. It took him twelve minutes. And Lana couldn’t take it that this rabbit she used to sing rhymes to would surpass hers, which she fed broken glass to before the show so it got angrier and angrier and run for the life of it because the glasses tore its stomach, it ran and ran, its eyes screened by the rage and its nose pulling towards the only object in the world that promised not to hurt it. But it lost. And the hatred transferred to Lana Flaningan.

I did not know why or how she found me – she must have found me before finding my rabbit.

For I knew if she did not kill the rabbit she would kill me once again, I stood watching.

Then I realized she did not look for my rabbit, it went to her.

We smelled the same, Lana Flaningan and I.

Just that I’m already dead and she hasn’t yet.

The pannels on my head, they are not pannels, they are Lana’s tears.

And they glimmer.

For Lana is crying for me now.

The only friend she has ever known.

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Week 43: “I, Cactus, Shred, A, Got, Moon, Have, To, Fiber”

When I was seven my aunt said to me

Another cactus week and you’d have the moon to shred

I did not know what she meant

Until I was eight

And she said

Half a cactus week more

I thought by the time I was ten

Something long forgotten should rise

And havoc

And have thorns and pierce my eyes out like a fox

And turn back into the moon

Which I’d shred

And not forgiving

The week that had gone

By nine and a half

My fangs were sharp and my ears sharper

And all fiber in my lungs shield them up

And scales covered my back

And my eyes could see farther than the eagle’s third mind

A quarter to nine

My stomach could digest a whole worm

And my throat spit storms

And my growl scared even my aunt

Who said

Did you forget

The moon

Oh the moon

That hadn’t appear for a hundred and seven years

In the songs of dirt

But aunt here I am waiting

With my fangs and wings

For another cactus week

My aunt got sick

And silent

And the count slowed down

Until

The twin of the sun

Jerked a ball towards us

That was the last week

Before I turned ten

And my heart

Swallowed the heat

And my aunt

With one eye still glimmering with hunger and hatred

Ripped it off me

The sun shone

On what later would be called

The young moon shredder

Who – poor her – never

Had reached the final cactus week

With arms as thick

As mongo trees

And legs

As strong

As the color of dawn

And nose

That could sniff out every ant in any corner of the world

Poor her

The one forgotten

But not forgiven

For

Searching for a moon

To shred

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