Cape Cod

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.  


Traven is a longer one-act for a man in his late fifties and a woman in her twenties set in a hut in a Mexican jungle in the middle of the twentieth century.  We hear muted jungle sounds and a typewriter as the lights come up on Traven typing.  Marisela says she has been wandering in the jungle since she fell and hit her head on a rock.  She tells the man that he is a great writer whose name is B. Traven.   He says his name is Croves, but she says he goes by that name when he pretends to be his own agent but Croves does not exist.  She wants to translate his work and needs a definitive text.  Traven says the work she’s referring to is “a massive celebration of anarchy.”  He says she wants to kill Traven and that every translation is a lie.  He says there is no way for either of them to distinguish reality from illusion.  He says he was given a steamer trunk full of worm-eaten manuscripts by a man named Traven who sometimes claimed to have written them and sometimes insisted that somebody else wrote them.  He tells her she is searching for a man with no face because she wants to be hurt and is afraid to be loved.  He gives her a peach and invites her into the hut because a storm is coming.  She eats the peach as he lights the kerosene lamp, telling her that “the secret to life is to learn to tell a story so well that it sounds so much like truth that nobody can tell the difference.”  He says that truth is a house of mirrors and that Traven is the mad god of the worlds he creates.  He hands her a knife; she holds it then gives it back.  He opens the trunk and hands her some old manuscripts which she says are the unpublished work of B. Traven and worth a fortune.  She insists, again, that he tell her who he really is.  He says he is her father and that she is delusional.  She says she remembers fragments of things but doesn’t know what’s real.  He then says that they are lovers and tells her to lie down on the bed.  She does and we hear the sound of thunder.  She says he should touch her if her wants to, and he says her secret is that she wants to be violated.  We hear rain and more thunder as she gets off the bed, saying she doesn’t want lies.  But, he says, lies are the only way to the illusion of truth.  He denies, with increasing intensity, being a series of people and actions and throws her on the bed, getting on top of her and clutching her neck.  He accuses her of being a spy who has come to cut his throat and steal his manuscripts.  He says he is a nobody and she is nothing.  He tries to set fire to the manuscripts but the matches are too wet.  She says she is somebody, takes the knife, grabs him by the hair and cuts his throat, standing over him as he bleeds all over the manuscripts.  Well, she says, you finally got your wish, you are nobody.  And, she says, her secret is that she is B. Traven and she must now begin to translate herself.  We hear rain and thunder as the light fades and goes out.

Grand Central Station

We hear the sounds of a large railroad station as Juliet, 29, and Ben, 64, talk in Grand Central Station.  Juliet tells Ben that the name was changed to Terminal in 1913.  She explains that a station is a node in the labyrinth, a place you pass through, but a terminal is the center of the labyrinth, the end of the line.  She tells him the building is a work of art that is being constantly rebuilt, like a living cathedral.  She says it is a place as full of ghosts as any place in the world, a place that inspires an eerie sense of the tremendous mystery of things.  She ask who Ben is waiting for but he can’t remember that person’s name.  She says that she seems very familiar to him and calls him by his name, saying that she is the person he is there to meet.  He asks if he is dreaming, and she says that he is among friends, that there are spirits everywhere, gathering at the terminal. And now, she says, it is time to go.  We hear murmuring voices and footsteps as the light fades and goes out.


There are two characters in VeronaVonnie Wolf, 15, and Pitt Rooks, 14.  Vonnie reads Juliet’s “Come, night” speech as she memorizes her lines.  She sees Pitt and he tells her that he knows what she is doing.  He says that she thinks he’s stupid because he lives at the junkyard by the dump but he knows what she does with the director after rehearsal and he is going to tell the man’s wife.  She asks him what he wants and he says that nobody sees him.  Vonnie says she doesn’t know what she is doing and Pitt says he could kill the man.  She says she doesn’t want him to be hurt.  Pitt says either she didn’t want the man to touch her, in which case he deserves to be shot, or she wanted him to touch her which means she’s a whore.  Vonnie says she’s not a whore but she knows what loneliness is.  She reaches out to touch Pitt’s face but he pulls away, saying that nothing ever makes anything all right and she should not be sorry for him, ever.  He leaves and Vonnie sits on the step of her back porch, working on Juliet’s lines.  Pitt comes back and Vonnie says she was worried when he wasn’t at rehearsal because she thought he might be telling the man’s wife.  He says he didn’t tell and she says that when the man kissed her it just happened, partly because he was so sad and partly because no one holds her.  She says when she plays Juliet she is somebody.  She tells Pitt she didn’t think he would kill the man.  Pitt says he doesn’t know who his father is, but when Vonnie is on stage Juliet is real and Verona is real because Vonnie is not pretending like the others.  He says he is not real and Vonnie says neither one of them is real.  She asks if he will sit with her but he says he’ll just listen in the dark.