Wasteland

     Seven actors make up the cast of Wasteland—4 men (1 playing two roles) and 3 women (1 playing three roles).  The fragmented unit set represents parts of rooms and streets in London and elsewhere, with bits of stairways, platforms, windows at various levels with assorted tables and chairs.  Manikins are scattered about, some seated at tables.  A DL table doubles as Eliot’s writing desk.  Players may enter or exit from “just about anywhere” as the play flows like “a dream made of interconnecting fragments, like a puzzle made of flowing water.”

     The play begins in darkness as we hear a “scratchy old record playing a stately and rather melancholy ragtime tune.”  Lights come up on Eliot at the table as Vivienne, at the edge of the stage, as if in a small boat, trails her hand in the water.  Other cast members simulate a party by the river and we hear girls laughing as Eliot and Vivienne speak in counterpoint before he leaves his desk and she stands, meeting him for the first time.  When a new, livelier song starts, Eliot dances with her, “beautifully.”  Ezra Pound leads Eliot downstage, talking about art and imagination and God being a palimpsest.  Eliot says he may be going back to Harvard because he has been offered a teaching position.  Pound says he should marry Vivienne, stay in London, and be a poet.  Eliot sits at his desk as Pound urges Vivienne to keep him from going to America.  He gives her a peach and encourages her to go to Eliot.  She asks Eliot if he wants to lie down with her, takes a bite of the peach, and goes.  Pound returns with two drinks and asks Eliot what he is writing.  Vivienne comes back and Pound goes off to talk with Henry James.  She complains that Eliot’s Bloomsbury friends are like “a herd of malicious, cannibalistic clothes dummies.”  She asks him to tell her about his childhood and he says that they love each other but that perhaps they are allergic to each other, mentally and physically.  Honking his bicycle horn, Pound rides in and hands Eliot a large brown parcel to give to James Joyce.

    To the sound of French accordion music on an old, scratchy record, Joyce and Eliot meet in a Paris restaurant.  Joyce opens the package and finds a very large pair of battered old brown boots.  Joyce speaks of Pound and writers as assemblers of “rubbish, constructed from the wreckage of old books and wasted lives.”  When Eliot says he has a wife, Vivienne, at the edge of the stage, talks of daughters lost and found, and we hear Mrs. Porter singing from the shadows.  Vivienne tells us she got the chronology mixed up, that it was after the war that Eliot met Joyce.  She moves to sit at the table with the Sitwell manikins as Eliot packs a suitcase.  He asks her to come to America with him to meet his family.  She declines the offer and he says that Bertie Russell will be happy to keep her company.

     After Eliot leaves, she talks to the manikins and then sits for dinner with Bertie, “that lecherous little gargoyle.”  They speak of Eliot and love and Bertie warns her that he is “a rather dangerous fellow,” and she says that in her dreams he’s the Devil.  Eliot and Pound then enter a restaurant and Pound tells Eliot that Bertie goes out every night with Vivienne.  Pound dozes off as Bertie joins Eliot and Vivienne tells the Sitwells that Bertie is ugly but fun.  She sits with the men, saying that when they have tea, Bertie’s the Mad Hatter, Tom’s the March Hare, and she is Alice.  After some conversation about time, God, and three sisters who lived at the bottom of the well, they all move one seat to the right and Eliot and Bertie try to stuff Pound head first into the teapot.  We hear the sound of explosions and sirens as lights flicker and Bertie walks across the stage to sit in the shadows of prison bars.  Vivienne says the sky is full of Zeppelins and the air on the island is thick with the dead.  Vivienne tells the Sitwells that Bertie has left her for a twenty-year-old actress, and Eliot remarks that Bertie has been jailed for opposing the draft.  Vivienne asks Eliot to hold her and when he does she notices his erection.  They kiss and lights fade to the sound of explosions.

     Lights then come up on Bertie talking to the Sitwells about Vivienne and Eliot watching two lesbians who live in the flat across from them, and lights come up on Eliot and Vivienne talking about having sex the previous night.  Eliot suggests that Vivienne and Virginia Woolf might become friends.  Virginia joins Vivienne and they play croquet with flamingo mallets and hedgehogs.  (“Not real creatures, please,” Nigro notes.)  The women talk about Eliot and writing as lights come up on Eliot and Pound walking by the Thames.  Eliot says he has to get away from Vivienne so he can get his head examined and finish the long poem he’s been working on.  Pound takes Vivienne to a restaurant to have dinner with Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and Alice B. Toklas (a manikin).  Lights dim on them and come up on Eliot talking to a manikin (Dr. Vitetel) as we hear, from the shadows, in imagistic counterpoint, the voices of Joyce, Vivienne, Pound, and Miss Stein. Lights fade on the others as Pound reads a manuscript with Eliot watching.  Pound says it is a masterpiece but he needs to take out various parts.  After Pound leaves, Vivienne says that it is very disorienting to be sleeping next to an absolute stranger, her husband, who is a very great poet.  She wonders who she is as they look at each other and the lights fade out on Act One.

     Lights come up on Vivienne alone with the other characters “all around her in the shadows.”  She says Tom is quite famous with his own magazine which she helps edit.  Eliot tells her that the horrible old man in the bowler hat is W. L. Janes who is trying to fix the cuckoo clock Eliot bought for Pound.  Eliot suggests she talk with Janes who tells her he met Eliot in a pub.  Janes works on the clock as Vivienne tells Virginia that she feels as if she’s drowning in quicksand.  We hear the sound of a ticking clock as Eliot sits with Mother Eliot, talking about Vivienne, who enters and says that the cuckoo clock makes noises, burps, grunts, and farts.  Mother assures her that she is not losing her mind and Pound rides in on his bicycle, honking the horn, and handing Mother a bag of walnuts.  Janes enters and Mother hands him the walnuts as they both leave.

     We hear the sound of a thunderstorm as Eliot tells Vivienne that he has taken a vow of celibacy.  Vivienne starts shouting as their dinner guests—Pound, Virginia, and Joyce—enter.  After another thunderclap, Joyce hides under the table and Vivienne says that she is as insane as Tom.  Miss Stein comes on to say that she wants to discuss Vivienne’s sex life, and Joyce says he has lost his spare glass eye.  Vivienne, saying she is mad, runs out.  Eliot says that doctors told Vivienne’s mother that she suffered from moral insanity, which Miss Stein defines as a term used to describe a woman who has sex voluntarily.  Eliot says he doesn’t know what to do, and Miss Stein leaves to comfort Vivienne as the lights fade.

     Miss Stein sits next to Vivienne, telling her that one is lucky to have had the experience of love.  Vivienne says that Tom is “really” driving her insane; Miss Stein replies that that is how we know it is love.  Vivienne joins Janes who is still trying to fix the cuckoo clock and asks him if Eliot ever speaks of her, saying that Janes is her friend, her keeper, like “at a madhouse.  Or a zoo.”  Then she stands, with a book, in front of the desk where Eliot is signing copies.  He signs hers and she asks him if he will come home with her.  Mrs. Porter asks Eliot to sign her book, and we hear the sounds of airplanes and bombs falling as the lights flicker and fade.  Eliot then talks with Joyce and Pound in a Paris café in the early thirties.  Pound goes to find the waiter and Joyce tells Eliot that Pound is getting stranger and stranger and that war and darkness are coming.  Light fades on them and comes up on Vivienne as Janes tells her that she is going to the country for a good, long rest.  We hear birds singing as lights come up on Eliot visiting Pound at St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Washington in the late forties.  Pound says that he said terrible things on the radio and thinks it ironic that Eliot and others are promoting the plausible fiction that he is insane to save him from being hung.  He says he has awakened from a dream to find himself old and in disgrace.  Eliot tells him that Vivienne is in a madhouse.  Light fades as we hear the sound of crows.  We see Eliot at night, drinking, as Vivienne appears with flowers.  Eliot tells her that her brother called to say that she had died in her sleep in the asylum.  He says he did a terrible thing, not loving her back and writing a poem instead.  She puts the flowers on the desk and stands behind him with her hands on his shoulders as we hear the scratchy old ragtime record we heard at the beginning.  She says it’s true that we walk in the dark, lost, round and round.  “But then finally we come to a door in the wall.  We put the key in the lock.  Open the door.  And there are girls laughing in the leaves.  This is the garden where all loves end.  All the rest (she pauses), all the rest is merely literature.

Popcorn at the Odessa

There are three characters in Popcorn at the Odessa—another play in the Pendragon cycle set in Armitage, Ohio—Becky, 22, fair and thin, John, 27, her husband, the son of Italian immigrants, and Jessie, a young woman in her late twenties.  John and Becky are sitting in their back yard, just behind their brick house, on a warm moonlit November night in 1949.  Becky comments on the warm November night and ask John if he is mad at her.  He says he isn’t and she says she thinks there is something wrong with the baby, their son Ben, who is different from the two girls Becky had previously.  Becky wonders if he may be possessed by the Devil.  She says she has powers and has always been fey.  She thinks it is nicer when the girls are gone with relatives out on the farm and she thinks they love John but hate her.  She says Ben hates her and John does, too.  He tells her he married her because he loves her but she says if he loved her he wouldn’t make fun of her being psychic or swear at her.  He says she keeps rearranging the furniture and she says it takes her mind off the screaming baby.  She doesn’t pick him up because she thinks Arthur Godfrey said on the radio that it was not good for them.  She says the girls know she didn’t really want them, that they just happened.  John says they tried for a very long time to make Ben happen, but when they stopped trying so hard, it happened.  She tells him that she wanted to have his baby but didn’t actually want a baby.  She says she has three children hanging around her neck like dead beavers and she’s never seen the world.  John says he didn’t see much of France when a bunch of Nazis were trying to kill him.  He tells her that she is not shallow nor as selfish as she likes to pretend.  She worries that Ben will grow up to be like her and tells John that she is afraid she will drop the baby on his head and tells John that she married him because she thought he was dangerous because he killed people in the war and because he was Italian.  But he is kind and patient and strong and her kids worship him.  She says she knows she’s going to screw things up and since she has something to lose she’s scared.  She realizes the baby is not crying and asks John to go check on him.  He leaves and Jessie appears in the moonlight in a dress that’s twenty years out of date.  Jessie says that everybody thought she was crazy but she had a good time and she wants Becky to have a good time.  Becky says she can’t because she killed her.  Jessie tells her that she went out dancing too soon after giving birth to Becky, started bleeding, got an infection, and died.  She says she can’t tell Becky who her father was but he was a good man and when he held her in his arms in the dark that was the only thing that was real.  Becky tells Jessie that she’s not even here, and Jessie says that the realest people in the world are inside our heads.  She tells Becky that John is a good man, like her father.  As Becky cries, Jessie says she used to take tickets and sell popcorn at the Odessa Theatre and still goes there late at night and talks to the ghosts.  She says everyone’s life is a movie that you don’t get to pick but you can choose how to play your part.  She tells Becky to just let people love her, that she will be here watching her movie, and urges her not to lose John as she walks off into the dark.  John appears and Becky says they should take the baby to the movies every week.  She says her mother used to work at the Odessa Theatre before they closed it and liked to sit in the dark and talk to ghosts.  She says she is going to look at the baby before they go to bed just to make sure he’s real.  She tells John to put the chairs inside and lock the doors and they’ll all be safe inside.  Then they’ll go to bed and he can hold her in the dark.  She kisses his hand as the light fades and goes out.

The Art of the Fugue

Part of the Pendragon cycle, The Art of the Fugue is acted on a unit set representing the front porch of the Rose house in Armitage, Ohio, in 1920, some rooms in Europe three years later, and perhaps elsewhere, all present at once.  The two women and two men remain on stage for the most part, moving in and out of the shadows as others take focus, but characters who are not physically present during a scene will speak from other times and places in a continuous flow analogous to the music—Bach’s ‘The Art of the Fugue’—played on a piano, that carries us into the scene and then fades out.

The play begins in darkness as we hear a piano playing Contrapunctus 1 of Bach’s ‘Art of the Fugue’ and then lights come up on Felicia Sullivan (18) at the piano, but not playing, Jane Rose (18) on the porch swing, her brother Jamie (23) sitting on the porch steps, and her other brother Andrew (22) standing in the yard.  As the play opens, the characters speak in counterpoint, Felicia defining the meaning of fugue, the brothers making short comments about the war, and Jane telling us that she brought her Cleveland Conservatory classmate Felicia home for the summer so they could prepare for their European concert tour.  The music ends in mid-phrase and we hear the sound of crickets as Felicia begins playing Contrapunctus 2  quietly and Jane says that on their concert tour she will play the violin and Felicia the piano.  Andrew says everyone in the Conservatory wants to sleep with Felicia and that she has a head as empty as the inside of a tennis ball.  He asks Felicia if Jamie told her about their adulterous, suicidal father who died for the love of a fair maiden and part-time murderess half his age and not his wife.  He moves into the downstage shadows and drinks from a flask.  Jane says he has not been himself since the war and goes to sit with him.  Felicia asks Jamie if their father was as horrible as Andrew and Jamie tells her that their father was a good but troubled man.   She tells Jamie that his brother hates him and warns him against falling in love with her.  We hear crickets as Felicia sits at the piano and begins playing Contrapunctus 3.  Jane talks with Jamie about his feelings for Felicia, saying that Andrew won’t stop until he gets her.

As Contrapunctus 4  plays in the background, Felicia, walking with Jamie, tells him about her vulgar father who got rich taking cattle to the slaughterhouse and died choking to death on roast beef.  She tells him she will hurt him if he doesn’t stay away from her.  She kisses him on the lips and walks to sit with Andrew on the porch as we hear Contrapunctus 5 playing.  Andrew tells her he always wanted to kill Jamie because the entire family worshipped him.  He says he and Felicia both want to kill Jamie.  He tells her to leave her bedroom door unlocked and she says that one night she might forget to lock it.  She goes to the piano and begins playing Contrapunctus 6  as Jane joins her on the bench and challenges her about her relationship with Andrew.  Jane lies on the bed as Felicia plays Contrapunctus 7 quietly as Jamie and Andrew talk on the porch about Felicia and why she wants Andrew.  Andrew says Jamie can borrow his service revolver to shoot him but he warns him not to miss.

Felicia is playing Contrapunctus 8 as Jamie joins her on the bench.  She tells him that Andrew really hates him and that she and Andrew have done pretty much everything you can do that’s legal and a couple of things that probably aren’t.  She says she really likes living in east Ohio nowhere but she has to rehearse for her autumn performances.  She says Andrew is not a distraction but a release of tension.  We hear Contrapunctus 9  as she goes to sit on the porch and Jamie sits at the DR table and drinks.  Jane sits with Felicia on the porch.  Felicia thinks Jane’s mother must have known about her father’s affair with the teenage girl and may have killed him.  Felicia wonders what they’ll be like in a few years when they’re famous all over Europe.  She thinks time may be like a fugue that keeps circling back on itself in a loop and what seems like now is something we’re remembering and wishing we’d never left this porch on this long summer night.  Light fades on them as we hear Contrapunctus 10  playing softly.

The light changes so the porch is in shadows behind them.  A few years have passed and they are now living in Europe with Jamie sitting, drinking, at the DR table and Jane telling him he is wasting his life.  He says he has accepted the fact that Felicia doesn’t want him and points out that Jane no longer plays solos but only accompanies Felicia for a couple of numbers.  Jane says Andrew has taken over as their agent and all Jamie does is lug trunks on and off trains and see that the piano gets tuned.  Jamie says he walks at night and gets into fights but that it’s better than lying in bed all night trying not to hear the noises Andrew and Felicia make in her room.  He says he can’t leave because there’s something seriously wrong with Felicia and he needs to be here when it happens.

We hear and then see Felicia playing Contrapunctus 11  with Andrew asking her if she can play something else.  She stops and he says he has had headaches since the war.  She asks him if he loves her and says the music is like voices whispering in her head and she feels disoriented as if she’s drowning in the music.  Andrew tells her he is fonder of her than he expected to be.  After he leaves, she says the complexity of the eleventh contrapunctus made Bach afraid of losing his mind.  Jamie looks across the stage at her and, from another time and place, tells us he can hear her playing like a lost soul deep into the night.  She begins playing Contrapunctus 12  as Jamie joins her.  She tells him to stop bothering her and to go away.  Jamie joins Andrew at the DR table, then goes as Felicia begins playing Contrapunctus 13.  Jane tells Felicia she has bruises and that she can hear her through the hotel room walls.  Jane says Felicia needs to get away from Andrew.  Felicia tells her that she hears the music everywhere and gives herself up to a Bach fugue as if diving into the ocean and drowning in it.  Jane says it is horrifying to watch her and Andrew together but she can’t turn away or stop listening.  Jane goes and we hear the Augmented Canon with Inverted Motion  as Felicia sits on the bed and Andrew moves toward her.  He says she is locking her door and he can’t get to her when he wants to.  She says nothing is going on between her and Jamie, or anybody, and Andrew wants her to say that she wants to be his slave.  He slaps her until, sobbing, she gets on her knees and he grabs her by the hair, telling her to worship him.  Jamie enters and tells Andrew to leave her alone.  Felicia tells both of them to leave her and, after Andrew leaves, she goes to the piano and starts to play the Canon At The Octave, Two Voices Separated By An Octave.

Jamie tells her that Andrew is going to kill her, and she says that she almost did love Jamie on a number of occasions but then a voice in her head reminded her that we can only love what kills us.  She says that if he kills Andrew she will sleep with him and be his slave forever.  She starts playing the Canon at Tenth, Counterpoint at Third  as Jamie joins Andrew drinking at the DR   table.  Andrew asks him if he has worked up the courage to kill him, saying that he has his story about killing Jamie all worked out.  He says he has hated Jamie since they were children because he was so damned perfect and now he is killing him slowly.  As they talk, Felicia goes to the bed, takes off her shoes and dress, and lies down in her slip.  Andrew tells Jamie he is fucking the mad princess and treating her very badly and she loves it.  Jamie grabs Andrew and slams his face on the table five times.  Andrew tells him to put his hands around his throat and press, but Jamie lets him go and leaves as we hear the sound of Canon At Twelfth, Counterpoint At Fifth.

Jane tells Felicia that she is leaving before she loses her mind and she wants Felicia to come with her.  Andrew crosses to them saying that having his head bashed violently five times has helped him see things clearly.  He says Jane can leave but Felicia can’t.  Jane tells Felicia to put her clothes on but Felicia refuses, saying the pattern was worked out by Bach a long time ago and she can’t tell if she is playing the music or whether the music is playing her.  Jane leaves and Andrew accuses Felicia of seducing his sister.  He says Felicia is pure evil, but she says the music is evil, haunted by the Devil.  She sits at the piano and starts playing Contrapunctus 14, Triple or Quadruple Fugue, Unfinished, telling Andrew that if he listens he can hear the Devil breathing.  He tells her to stop playing but she continues until he grabs her by the throat, pulls her off the bench, and starts strangling her.  Jane comes back, tells him to stop, raises a gun, and shoots him.  He falls and Jamie comes in.  Jane says she shot Andrew because he was strangling Felicia.  Jamie takes the gun, checks Andrew’s pulse, and says he is dead.  He tells Jane she didn’t do anything, that she and Felicia had already left.  He tells Jane to take Felicia back to Ohio, that he will take care of the situation.  Felicia says it is all Jamie’s fault and she hates him, calling him a murderer as Jane takes her away.  We hear again Contrapunctus 14, Triple or Quadruple Fugue, Unfinished  as Jane leads Felicia back up to the porch, where they sit together.  Jamie tells an imagined officer that his brother was cleaning his gun and it went off and struck him in the temple.  Felicia speaks about the last of the fugues, unfinished, ending in the middle of a phrase with the four notes that signified Bach’s name.  Lights begin to fade as Jamie stands over his brother’s body, saying he was a hero, with Jane and Felicia sitting on the porch.  As the music plays Felicia says, “But apparently further developments were halted by death.  Except—except that—”  The music ends abruptly in the middle of a phrase.  Darkness.

The Empress Dowager at the Flop House

The third of The Anais Plays is a one-act called The Empress Dowager at the Flop House.  We see Anais and Henry in a bedroom with a balcony in the south of France on a hot summer night in 1939.  Henry is taking a boat to Greece in the morning but Anais has to stay with her husband.  He tells her to embrace the chaos and write out her soul.  She says he is brave and selfish while she is generous and nurturing.  They argue about Gonzalo, an Incan Anais is fucking and Artaud, although she is no longer fucking him.  She tells Henry that a lot of people are going to hate him and his work because there are some versions of truth nobody wants to hear.  Henry says he doesn’t want to go to Greece without her and suggests they get married.  He says she’s the only person he can’t write about and she tells him he’s been living off her husband’s money for years.  She says love is not a game but a tragedy which she plays like a game because nothing else works.  He says he appreciates what she’s done for him.  They both talk about sleeping with June, Henry’s second wife, and Henry learns that Anais slept with her father.  They argue about lying and hypocrisy and she says they can see each other again when the war is over.  He says he thought she loved him but she is the sophisticated European woman slumming with the poor vulgar boy from Brooklyn, like the Empress Dowager at the flop house.  When he says he doesn’t want to lose her, she says that everybody loses everybody.  We hear three loud knocks on the door, then four more loud knocks.  He says he never answers the door because he thinks somebody’s come to get him.  She tells him no woman ever existed like the women in his books and women don’t like his books because the men in them want to use them like meat puppets.  He says he loves her with all his heart and she is using the war as an excuse to get rid of him.  She says nobody can save anybody but only comfort them for a while.  She asks him not to spoil their last night until God knows when.  She asks him to hold her but he says he has lost her and will never get her back.  He goes to the desk, sits, and pours himself a drink but doesn’t drink.  She puts her hands on his shoulders from behind and says that people who love each other never lose each other.  Lights fade out.

Nictzin Dyalhis

In Nictzin Dyalhis we hear the sound of the ocean as spotlights come up on a man, Nictzin, and a woman, Harriet, seated on an otherwise dark stage.  She tells him he goes out walking every night waiting for a woman that he dreams about.  He says she needs to calm down or they’ll come and give her a sedative.  She says his vision is clouded by lust, that he is half Welsh and half Guatemalan with an Aztec first name, and a writer of crazy, pathetic Weird Tales.  She says she is trapped in this horrible place with all these crazy people so he could be with the woman.  She says his name again and again and he thinks the woman is calling him from the ocean.  Harriet says that all the while it was her.

Rusalka

There are two characters—Rossi, a police detective, and Lydia, a young woman— seated at a wooden table under an overhead light in Rusalka.  Lydia is describing a strange woman to Rossi, a woman who believed there were monsters everywhere and that the Devil was after her.  In answer to Rossi’s question, she tells him the woman was seeing a Russian guy but he moved to Texas.  She says the last time she saw the woman was in a dream and that dreams are real life that hasn’t happened yet.  The woman, she says, could not have gone to see the Russian guy because she could only live in places where it rains.  The Russian guy called her Rusalka, a nymph who lives in the water and sometimes in the woods and lures men to their destruction by tangling them in her long red hair and drowning them or sometimes tickling them to death.  But, Lydia says, the woman said she was no longer a Rusalka and was dating some other guy.  Rossi asks Lydia if she killed the woman because when Lydia came in she was covered in blood.  Lydia says it rained Devil’s blood and she and the woman danced naked in the rain.  The woman, she says, didn’t go to Texas to be with the Russian guy because she liked this other guy.  Lydia says she knows he is not some random police detective but the Devil, the other guy the woman was seeing.  Rossi says that Lydia’s punishment is that she will never see the woman again.  Lydia says his punishment is that the woman doesn’t love him, but loves her, and she will never tell him where she’s gone, no matter what he does to her.  She dares him to do something to her and they look at each other as the lights dim.

Pinocchio

The setting for Pinocchio is a table in an Italian restaurant where Gloria and Pinocchio are having their first date.  When Pinocchio tells her he is a puppet she confesses that she is nearsighted and didn’t wear her glasses.  He says his eyes were carved and then painted and he is a puppet who has come to life.  He starts telling the woman about being a piece of wood and being sold to an old character named Geppetto who made puppets.  He explains that all inanimate objects are alive and conscious to some degree and that he became more and more conscious as Geppetto carved him.  When Pinocchio’s nose kept growing, Geppetto kept cutting the end off, saying that he was going to be a wicked boy and a born liar.  He tells her that when Geppetto carved his mouth he laughed at him and stuck out his tongue.  With his newly-carved hands he ripped off his wig, and when Geppetto finished his feet he kicked him in the balls.  When Geppetto taught him to walk he ran out the door and down the street, chased by Geppetto who was arrested by the police and put in jail.  Pinocchio tells her that he got hungry and found an egg, but the egg cracked open and a chicken crawled out and flew away.  He says the chicken is an allegory of the soul trapped in the body.  Then, Pinocchio says, there was a storm and he pounded on the door of an old woman and asked for shelter but she poured a pot full of piss on him and he ran until he stepped in a pot hole, falling on his face, and a cat ate his feet.  He managed to crawl back to Geppetto’s shop and found a talking cricket who spoke to him as if he was telling him the secret of life.  But when the cricket started singing, Pinocchio says, he squashed him with a hammer.  Geppetto then returned from jail and cleaned Pinocchio up and carved new feet for him and started talking to him as if he were his son.  When Pinocchio promised Geppetto he would go school, the old man sold his only winter coat to buy a spelling book.  Pinocchio tells the woman that he sold the book to get a ticket to a puppet show so he could socialize with his own kind.  When she questions his actions he says that meat people like her don’t understand that everything is alive and conscious.  She says she wants to go but he goes on about consciousness perhaps being an illusion and imagination creating love and suffering.  She says all she wanted was spaghetti and meatballs and a glass of wine, but when she tries to leave he grabs her arms and tells her that everybody is faking and that a blue-haired fairy once loved him but he ran away and she died of grief.  The woman asks him to let go of her arms and bewails the fact that she always ends up with weirdos and losers.  Pinocchio apologizes and tells her that he can’t lie or his nose starts to grow.  He says people don’t want to hear the truth; they want puppet shows, comforting lies.  She leaves and Pinocchio says that puppets have wooden heads and no hearts,  just like people.  The truth, he says, doesn’t make you free; it just isolates and then kills you.  He says he misses that damned cricket.

Rwanda

Three men and three women seated on wooden chairs provide the cast and setting for Rwanda.  Each actor has a spotlight that comes up before the actor speaks.  The male characters are Captain (middle-aged), Accused, and Brother; the women are Accuser, Witness, and Mother.  Captain asks Accuser if she sees “him,” and Accused is identified as the killer of her children.  Accused denies the accusation, saying that it is a mistake.  Captain orders him taken away and killed but the light comes up on Witness who says Accused didn’t do it, but she doesn’t know who did.  Accuser says that Witness is Accused’s whore.  Witness then says that she saw her Brother killing the children.  The light comes up on Brother and then on Mother.  Brother denies killing anyone and Mother says Witness hates him and has been in a mental hospital.  Witness agrees that she was in the hospital after she saw what her brother did.  Accuser then agrees with Witness that Brother killed her children.  Captain says that both Accused and Brother will be shot.  The lights go out on them as the Mother pleads with Accuser and Witness to change their stories.  We hear the sound of two gunshots.  Captain says they have a hundred more accusations to deal with before sunset.  If they run out of bullets, they can strangle them.  Accuser says the Captain killed her children, that she can see his killer’s eyes.  Witness invites Accuser to come with her to the Mountains of the Moon where they will drink the warm blood of their children.

Fundevogel

Another two-character play (1m, 1w), Fundevogel, is written in the free-verse form Nigro uses to indicate rhythm to the actors.  We hear birds singing and see a man, Fundevogel, sitting in a chair stage right looking out a window.  Near him is another chair with a large rag doll in it.  Lisa enters stage left and asks why Fundevogel is sad and lonely when she is there and will always be there.  She talks as if Fundevogel is a bird that her father found in the forest and brought home.  She wonders if Fundevogel is afraid that the cook will cut off his head and cook him in boiling water.. She tells him to be happy because she and he will run away and, when chased by the cook’s three servants, will metamorphose into a rose tree.  The servants will be beaten by the cook who will tell them that they should have broken the tree in half and brought back the rose and will look for them again.  But he will turn into a chapel and she into a chandelier.  Then the cook will come looking for them and this time he will become a pond and she will become a duck.  When the cook tries to drink the water in the pond, she will grab her by the neck with her duck’s beak and drown her.  Lisa grabs the rag doll with her teeth, shaking it, then throwing it down and strangling it.  When Fundevogel pulls her away from the doll and holds her tenderly she asks if he is sad because she is insane.  He says, “Yes.”  She picks up the doll, puts it back on the chair, and sits where Fundevogel had been sitting.  We hear birdsong again as Fundevogel starts off left but stops, turns to Lisa, and asks her why she is sad, saying that he will never leave her.

Film Noir

A short play for a man and a woman, Film Noir is set in a director’s office furnished with a desk, a chair, a smaller chair, and a leather couch.  The year is 1939.  The director, Hatch, remains seated behind his desk throughout and the couch is necessary even though it is not used.  Jane, the actress, in response to Hatch’s questions, says that she had a wonderful honeymoon in Cornwall.  Hatch says he no longer has sexual relations with his wife because she is afraid, since he is grotesquely fat, that he will crush her.  Hatch says that Cornwall, the land of demons, would be a “delightful” place to murder his wife, causing her to fall of a cliff.  He says he picked Jane for the role because of her innocence.  He says he has a fantasy about living with Jane in a house in Cornwall, joining in a “deep and genuine sensual communion.”  Jane wants to leave but he orders her to stop.  He tells her that the thought of making love with him disgusts and horrifies her.  Jane erupts in a tirade, berating him for abusing his position, calling him a fat, disgusting pig.  Hatch replies, “Excellent.”  He says he wants her to remember exactly how she felt when she was shrieking at him and to recreate it in the scene they are shooting tomorrow.  Jane says she can recreate what she felt but that what he did was horrible.  He says it worked and that’s what matters in life and art.  She leaves and Hatch bangs his head three times on the desk, calms himself, and says that he must really get a place in Cornwall.