Goose Therapy, for eight actors, presents the characters in the nursery rhyme about the cow jumping over the moon and the dish running away with the spoon. Mother Goose presides over a discussion to clear the air and better understand what happened and how to prevent such incidents in the future. Dog blames Cat who says she and Fiddle were playing around when, suddenly, Cow appeared and jumped completely over the Moon. Moon says it was traumatic but Cow says she wanted it. Spoon says the relationship with Dish was to make Moon jealous. Fiddle wants Dish to go on the road with him, and Mother Goose suggests that Cat may have lingering feelings for Dog. Cat and Dog argue about eating poop. Moon doesn’t poop, Cow says it’s fun, Moon says she has seen geese poop, and Mother Goose shouts at them to stop with the poop. She is sick of Nursery Rhymes and says they are pointless, that they will never exist and nobody cares. Moon says it doesn’t matter if they don’t make sense, that as long as they rhyne somebody will remember them. She thanks Mother Goose who tells them the next session will involve three blind mice. Moon asks Cow if Cow could teach her to poop, but Cow says pooping is like love—either you do or you don’t.
Tag: shorter plays
Loneliness (2m, 3w) is set in the back garden of Emily’s house in Amherst sometime in the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, “standard dream time.” Nigro notes that some may believe that the characters (identified in the script by first names) are people named Thoreau, Dickinson, Kerouac, Stein, and Toklas. But he writes that he can neither confirm nor deny that unsubstantiated rumor because his head, like his watch, is broken.
We hear birds singing as lights come up on Henry telling Emily that he has to go back to Walden to observe the woods and he wants her to come with him. She says something, perhaps a panther, has been eating the rabbits in her garden and leaving the heads. He says they would be alone together, growing beans without manure, but she says beans give her gas. Jack enters to tell them that he is heading out on the road and he wants Emily to join him. He uses language from the 1950s—jalopies, greasy spoons, hootchy-cootchy joints, and dig the bop—and says the only important thing is to be moving. Henry (Jack calls him Hank) wants Emily to be still in the woods with him. Gertrude enters, calling Henry Hank and Jack John. She says she sees a Norwegian sap sucker and Hency goes off to find it. Gertrude says when she used to become depressed she would pay a welterweight to box a few rounds with her. Jack says she has the body of a Sumo wrestler but as he leaves he tells Emily he has to pack his ruck sack. Gertrude says she wants Emily to come to Paris with her. Henry and Jack come back, each saying that Emily is going with them. Gertrude insists that Paris is the answer and Alice enters, calling Emily a demoness, and is told by Gertrude to pack their trunk for Paris or she will make her listen to Ezra Pound play the cello. Alice leaves; Emily says she is tempted to go to Paris but she is afraid of Gertrude. Emily says she doesn’t know what to do with three fascinating people wanting her. She says she likes the idea of living in the woods, or on the road, or in artistic Paris, but she must accept loneliness as the inevitable state of things. The three again urge her to join them as Alice returns saying that she set the house is on fire. Gertrude tells Emily she must choose one of them. Emily says she doesn’t choose anybody, but her own loneliness. She runs into the house to save it. Henry and Jack follow her. Alice tells Gertrude not to be sad because they can roast marshmallows.
Cape Cod (2m, 1w) takes place on a simple unit set representing a beach house, the shore outside it, two seats of a playhouse, and an attic studio. Nigro notes that the play takes place between the second and third scenes of Seascape with Sharks and Dancer. Lights come up on Ben, late 20s, walking on the shore in the 1970s, talking about Thoreau walking the same shore, writing about bodies floating after a shipwreck. He thinks he sees something in the water, a girl. Light fades and comes up on Ben and Tracy,20, in the beach house. She asks him why he tried to save her from drowning when he couldn’t swim. He says he reacted instinctively and says he tried to save his babysitter from drowning when he was five but someone else came along and saved them both. She thinks Twelfth Night is a stupid play and asks him how many women he has loved. She says her trademark is that she doesn’t love anybody. He tells her about the babysitter and his girlfriend in college and says he got her a ticket to see Twelfth Night; she agrees to go.
The third scene takes place in the auditorium of a theater at intermission. Tracy talks with Ogdred, a middle-aged man with a long beard, a long, raccoon-ish looking coat, and tennis shoes. She says he has enough cat hair on his coat to construct a whole other cat. He says he is an illustrator of other people’s books but he also draws and writes his own little books. She says when she was a child she wanted to be an artist but gave it up because she wasn’t any good. He asks her why she would want to waste the one life she has to do anything but what she loves. He gives her a piece of paper with his address and invites her to visit.
Lights fade and come up on Tracy cutting pictures from newspapers. She says she is making a collage as her friend Ogdred suggested. She says he has a real cool house with lots of books and invisible cats. Scene shifts to Ogdred drawing and Tracy working on a collage. He talks to her about Eurynome, the goddess of all things and explains that he follows where his subconscious leads him. He says the only thing that matters is being inside your work or somebody else’s. That and the New York City Ballet where he has spent most of his life.
Back in the beach house, Tracy reads aloud a passage from Thoreau’s Cape Cod and tells Ben that Ogdred told her that the ancient Egyptians told time based on the regularity of baboon urination. Ben says his arms are bruised because she punches and kicks him in her nightmares. He says she is spending a lot of time at Ogdred’s and he misses her. She asks if he wants to be serious, but he says he doesn’t have a plan although he doesn’t want her to leave. He wants somebody to love who’ll be honest with him. She wishes him luck with that as she leaves and the light fades on him.
In Ogdred’s studio, he is drawing and she is working on her collage as they talk about art and Tracy says she is scared because she has found something she likes to do. She asks Ogdred why he has never tried to jump her. He asks her if she loves her young man and she says she is scared because he makes her feel like home. And she never wants to care again about anything that would hurt her if she lost it. She asks him about his work and whether he loves or hates children because horrible things keep happening to them in his books. He says children represent innocence and God punishes innocence. He asks if his books depress or horrify or disgust her. She says no, that they make her happy because they are funny. He says that is the purpose of art, to help us postpone wanting here to die. He says her work is improving. He asks if she loves children. “Desperately,” she says. “Ah.” he says as the light fades on them.
Ben thinks Tracy’s collages are very good. She says the play was not as stupid as she thought it was. She asks if he thinks it was a mistake to pull her out of the water. He says no and that he likes having her here. He also likes the books of Ogdred that he has read. When she asks he says he likes some children but he needs the car keys because he has to strike the set and return props. She asks him not to be gone too long because the wind sounds rough. He tells her of the wooded hill behind his father’s house in Ohio where a little stand of maples shakes and trembles when there is no wind. She asks him to take her and he agrees. She tells him she is going to be an artist and, as he is leaving, she says, quietly, that she wants a child. “What,” Ben asks. “Nothing. I didn’t say anything.” She starts cutting up a newspaper and we hear the wind as the lights fade out.
Inside, Touched, Holes, and Cleanliness
Inside, Touched, Holes, and Cleanliness are very short scripts set in the apartment of Alice and Bob in quarantine. In Inside, Alice wonders if they will have to stay inside until they die. She says if God created them then they are like characters in a play or novel and fictional characters die when they realize they are not real. Bob says that, real or unreal, at least they’ll be together in love. Like Hell, Alice says, and Bob agrees. In Touched, Alice tells Bob not to touch his face or put his fingers anywhere. She says there will be no more touching and then asks if Bob wants to have sex. He says yes and she agrees. In Holes, Bob warns Alice about holes, or portals, empty spaces that they can fall into. Things can come out of these rips in space-time and eat them. Alice suggests that Bob crawl into one of those holes and stay there. She says she actually came out of one of those holes but then she complains that once an idea is put into her brain she can’t get it out, like a song that plays over and over. She says thanks to Bob she will have to spend the next ten days looking over her shoulder fpr something crawling out of a hole to end reality as she knows it. She wants him to talk somewhere else but he says he has no place to go, and she agrees. We hear the sound of a ticking clock as the lights fade and go out. In Cleanliness, Alice tells Bob her hands are red and cracked because she washes them a lot. She says nothing is ever clean enough because alien things have come to kill them. She warns him not to touch her and sprays cleaning fluid into his eyes. He screams and she tells him to run water in the sink over his face. She says everything is make of death and it’s better he is blind because he won’t be able to see what’s coming . She says the only thing they can do is clean and clean until there’s nothing left but bones. She gets down on her hands and knees and scrubs the floor frantically as the lights fade out.
Dead Men Grinning at the Moon
The fictional time of Dead Men Grinning at the Moon is the early 1600s in London. A few rough tables and benches represent the public house of George Wilkins and outside a courtroom. There are two men—Wilkins, 30s, and Shakespeare, 40s—and one woman, Mary, 20s. Wilkins asks Shakespeare if he will help him with a play he is writing. Shakespeare says he does not collaborate. Mary tells Wilkins that Shakespeare used to live at her house and taught her to read. Wilkins threatens to evict Mary and her husband Steve, forcing Shakespeare to read his play, Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Lights dim and come up on Mary singing and cleaning the table. She tells Wilkins that her husband is working late and Wilkins suggests that she could make money easily. Shakespeare enters and Mary offers to heat up some roast beef and gravy for him. Shakespeare puts the manuscript on the table and says that he read it. Wilkins asks if it is any good and Shakespeare says something struck him about the fate of the daughters in the play. Wilkins threatens Mary. and Shakespeare agrees to help with revisions. Wilkins admits that his father wrote the first play but he needs Shakespeare’s help with the new play.
Spot Has a Big Red Ball
Spot Has a Big Red Ball (3m, 4w) is set in the ruins of a suburban house and an old barn. As the play begins we hear the sound of crickets and lights come up on Brother, Sister, and Baby Sister sitting on the sofa watching tv, Mother doing dishes in the kitchen as Father tries to put together an old gun, and Grandfather and Grandmother on the porch swing; she is making a sock puppet and there are sock puppets scattered here and there. Brother says he remembers the dog chasing a big red ball and knocking Grandma over, breaking her hip. Mother says dogs were sent by Satan to destroy the furniture. Baby Sister says she can’t go into the barn ever again but she still dreams of the light slanting down through the slats in the barn and how she thought God was watching her. Grandfather asks Grandmother if she remembers the hammock in the barn. She hands him a sock puppet and starts making another. Sister tells us her brother was hit in the head with a large red ball and hasn’t been the same since. She thinks the war may have had something do with it. She says she took a lot drugs in college. She says the barn is a story in a book and Baby Sister wouldn’t tell her about it. Father says children are not innocent but monstrous. Grandmother says she always thought they looked like the mailman. Grandfather says he once saw his son’s wife taking a shower (a deeply religious experience). He says he drilled a peephole when she locked the bathroom door. Mother says Grandfather still touches her ass and says she is going to take a shower. Grandfather thinks he hears the phone ringing and leaves. Grandmother says he does that every time Mother takes a shower..
Brother and Sister argue over the dog’s name. Brother doesn’t want to talk about the war and thinks he is going blind. Sister says he isn’t and thinks they should kill Grandfather. Grandmother hands her a sock puppet. Mother tells Father that their younger daughter is trying to teach the cat to speak French. Mother thinks they should invent a horse that doesn’t shit. Father wonders why, after thirty years, his conversations with her always end up talking about sending a cat to France, and flying in a Zeppelin to buy a dead horse. He says he needs a drink and she says she’ll have three. He says he was in France during the war but she says there was never a war in France.
Sister asks Brother if he remembers playing Doctor in the barn. He says he doesn’t and tells her that he, Father, and Grandfather were all in wars and that history is a long sequence of mass murders broken by brief periods of sexual depravity and macaroni and cheese. Mother picks up sock puppets to put in the garbage as Grandmother follows her putting new ones in their place. Grandfather puts his hands over Grandmother’s eyes and asks her who he is. She suggests Adolph Menjou and asks him how many balls he has, suggesting that he stuff pork chops up his ass. Mother tells Father that it is God’s plan for them to hate each other. Grandmother tells Grandfather that sock puppets are the secret of life. She tells him that some night the sock puppets will eat him until there’s just a little pile of bones. Grandmother tells Brother and Baby Sister that it’s bath time and that she shoved a sharpened pencil through the peep hole and that’s how Grandfather got his eyepatch. (Grandfather puts on an eyepatch.)
Sister and Baby Sister talk about playing a game and Father says Mother dropped Brother on his head. Baby Sister asks Grandmther how she and Grandfather have managed to stay together so long. Grandmother says the secret is to pretend you don’t know each other. Grandfather thinks that identity is an illusion and that all we remember is imagining we’re remembering. Grandmother says she will remember what she wants to remember and says if he doesn’t like it he can fuck the dog or this sock puppet. She moves the mouth of the puppet and speaks in a high squeaky voice: “No. No. No. No. No. Unless I can be on top.” Father and Mother decide that the children have been replaced by alien pod people and must be destroyed. Mother tells him to get the bazooka and she’ll bring the popcorn.
Sister tells Father that she was raped at a fraternity party in college and the leader of the gang is now a judge and she got tired of being molested as an actress. Brother, Father, and Grandfather speak of their memories of war and Mother talks to Sister about driving in a Plymouth to buy hats. Sister says that never happened and Brother says he remembers his father dressed like Caspar the Ghost but it wasn’t Halloween Father says we now wear little red hats. Baby Sister says the dog has dug up a bone in the backyard. Mother says they buried her fourth child in the garden, along with their innocence and tomorrow they’re taking the grandparents to the dump. Mother says she used to stand on her head and Grandfather puts on an old leather football helmet. He puts his hands over Grandmother’s eyes and asks her to guess who he is. Sister says she used to stand on her head and Baby Sister says this is a funny, funny family. Mother tells Father that none of the children are his, except the fourth which she strangled a birth. Sister offers to help Mother but she says she just has to put up some wallpaper into which she will disappear. Mother says Grandfather is the only person who looks at her and that Father doesn’t see her and doesn’ t talk to her, that they are characters in a play about the death of the soul. Father says he works for a government agency overseeing brain control experiments , working with ex-Nazis on highly questionable top secret projects. When his son came home from the war with brain damage, he offered him as part of an experiment but that didn’t work out too well, nor did the electroshock therapy they tried on his elder daughter. Father tells Mother that she is too stupid to have any secrets and Mother says that she and his mistress have lunch in the city and laugh about his penis and the ridiculous noises he makes when he ejaculates. Grandfather says he’ll go have a heart attack in the barn. Baby Sister says we’ll make everything great again and will all go away. Sister accuses Father of killing all our heroes and Father says we are the deep state, responsible for the murders of many prominent persons, overseas and at home. He complains about not being able to fix his rifle and Mother tells him he has the safety catch on. Brother takes the gun and adjusts the safety catch and Sister takes the gun, saying she could now shoot Father in the head. Father tells her to squeeze the trigger gently. She points the gun at him and the lights black out.
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.
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.