Pianos

Pianos, a play in the Pendragon cycle, is set inside a barn in Armitage, Ohio, in 1908.  Myrtle Casey and her husband Willy, both 98, are talking about the barn being full of pianos that Willy has collected over the years.  Myrtle is tired of having cows in the house because there is no room for them in the barn.  She tells Willy they are a laughingstock of Pendragon County, that no one can play broken pianos, and that it’s dangerous to have pianos stacked forty feet high.  Willy says the pianos can be fixed and reminds Myrtle that she nagged him many years ago to get a piano.  She says it is dangerous for 11-year-old Jimmy.  She calls to Jimmy and we hear a sound like something running across a keyboard.  Willy doesn’t hear the sound but Myrtle thinks Jimmy is up on top of the pianos.  We hear another piano sound and Willy calls to Jimmy to come down.  He tells Myrtle that God is in the pianos, that music is God’s revelation, and the pianos are like a mountain one climbs to get to one’s salvation.  He goes off left to save Jimmy.  Myrtle warns him but we hear piano noises as, offstage, Willy climbs up, saying that he has had a vision and the ultimate revelation will come when he has climbed the mountain of pianos.  He shouts his readiness to receive the meaning of existence.  Myrtle looks up in horror, covers her face and screams as we hear a terrible cacophony of falling pianos.  Lights black out and we hear Willy’s voice in the darkness telling Myrtle that he heard God’s voice.  When he begins to describe what the Lord said we hear “an even louder cacophony of many, many falling pianos as Willy screams.”  Then silence and the sound of chickens clucking.

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