Self is the stories we tell on the inside.
In which we are introduced to the Inside Community that lives within a multiple personality who was given the name Mary at her birth, 50 years ago.
Mary (who looks dishevelled, wearing an ashes burlap jumPer and whose eyes are shut and arms/hands not visible): Self is the stories we tell on the inside. How can you have a voice without eye and hands? (this is metaphorical of course, and her delivery must carry that).
(All this and through the end of Act I, the Flashback movie screen — called the “Blinding Glimpse of The Obvioius” — or, BOG — is repeating loops of still photos of traumatic events throughout the world and history, emphasis on the persons who were photographed in their anguish. Random photos of pious pirates associated with child victimization.)
And, Tweet & Text blubbles appear randomly across the BOG screen, pop-ups of sexual, verbal, physical abuse and the excuses/tricks to avoid punishment for it — i.e., threats to keep silent, critisism/blame of the victim, God’s Will, sneers/mocking. This is a powerful part of the play — The Blinding Glimpse Of The Obvious — yet it is it’s own universe in silent cell phone screen as a backdrop.
________________________________Let’s begin our play:
Mary nods at the Voice Box (an old-style mailbox). As she does this, Medina revs up her tree saw and nicks into the tree. We see Jamie waving at her to stop and Jaimie climbs up the rope-ladder carrying a trail of prayer flags behind her. Jody trys to sooth Mary be offering her a flower but Mary does not notice. Jody tugs at Mary’s skirt, wanting to give this happy flower gift, but Mary is preoccupied and glances back at the screen. Faces audience and gives shoulder shrug as in saying, “wtf??”
Celtic Woman stands and raises a glass of beer to the audeince: “I will speak for you.” and goes back to writing on her computer, burping.
Marcus strums on his guitar and sings, cheerful but the denial tye of cheery, — more a melodic walking song. He is, in effect, playing a VJ sound track to all the acts and dialogue segments and BOG screens. Mostly The Delines, Colfax album. Coldplay. Morten Lauridson and Jonie Mitchell.
“Fallin’ in luv
Goes my heart.
Touch my cheek
And catch it back
With your part.”
Marigold and Tommy play with GI action figures and green plastic toy rifles, in which Marigold gets bored and sits sucking her thumb. Tommy fakes being blasted and dies on his pod stage.
Medina gives another shocking rev on her power saw, holds it in threat to Jamie — who jumps out of the treefort and — ignoring the anger — skips in a game of hospscotch to the Right of the stage, and sets up a kite and buttterfly net, ignoring Medina.
Sophie rocks and prays over an open book of scripture, and though for the very life of herself and everyone on the planet/stage.
Lucy tries to cry but no tears come out and she talks to DSW about her lack of artistic skill and she wants to be a good painter or a psychologist bu is helpless in the fate of all things. SHe switches hats from her extensive hat collection and prefers the French Detectives iconic hat and proceeds to pain.
Heid shoots hoops and a bunch of toga party invitations fall from pocket.
Jackie decorates a calendar with seasonal cut-out markers.
White floats above, in circles and back and forth, seeing with binoculars and depositing files folders — with presumable data in them — to Jakie’s pod, in which there is a file cabinet only White uses.
Towanda dances and recites poems to moon goddesses and flights of grace and tells stories of other parts of the world to Jamie, who is listening but frantic to get to all her adventring. Oblivious to the tipping tree and possible associated demises.
At various intervals, all these persons come down the poles to the Voice Box and put in post it notes, letters, notebooks, drawings, maps and then go back to what they are doing.
All of this is simultaneous and occurs while the awful screen is playing its images.
As night falls onto the screen and sounds of crickets chirping come forward and frog chirps, starlight dancers — actually Glowbugs — (in black body suits lit up with little christmas tree lights to represent stars begin to twirl and mix, engage, dance with the pod persons and Mary.
But instead of calming everything down with this lovleliness, the discussions and activities and runs to Voice Box escalate — and the little ones begin to cry and whine from fatigue and hunger and fear and Medina gets louder and CW is now singing bar songs loudly — and the chaos erupts as Starlight Dancers intermingle.
Mary turns to the audience — and for the first time we see she hs one hand avalable and it reaches for a bottle of wine where Jody has left her flower in a teacup — Mary swigs several generous gulps then faces the stage and cries “SHUDDUP!!
All the players stop in their tracks, and as a mime would do, lean in with hands to their ears to listen to her. Mary faces the audience as there is sudden silence, and shouts out to the audience, — another swig — “Who The Hell Am I?”
A chorus of all the pods persons say at once, “Be Desiree!!”
Act II opens with a large webcam stream of a video of a dynamic, enticing and entertaining NYC street. On this street there is trememdous comfort for the Inside Community for it is on this street that there is at least one store, or hangin’ out place, or meet-up place for each individual person. It is a trememdous comfort to all to be here where each person’s needs will be met and they can each live in their own uniqueness, with their respsective freedoms To Be, energy, purpose, resources, and amongst other who come and go in diversity.
As curtain opens, there are no tweets on the screen, just shots of the various stores/places that have idiosyncratic meaning/benefit for each pod person.
The person we called Mary in Act I arrives, as Desiree, to check hermail, her Inbox, The Voice Box. Jody follows her, flower gift in hand, but unnanouncd.
We see Desi now has visible arms and hands and trendy glasses on. SHe hears tiny footfall and smiles as turns around, greets Jody, and accepts her flower.
Desi: “Thank you, Jody. Jody is such a pretty name. I have something for you, too.”
Desi takes out a clump of papers and notes from the voice Box and finds a box of glitter crayons and a blank notepad for her to draw on.
Jody looks at her with admiration and affection, and sits down to begin to color.
The hum of the busy, engaged pod persons begins to louden at this point. One or two at a time, they notice what is available to them on the screen, and swirl down their posts to go over and try to touch the big screen, as though it were an exhibit at a sea life zoo and the large and lovely aquatic creatures were calling them in to join — but all they pod person could do was to make contact and communication and community by touching the glass barrier. But this alone is sufficient.
They each return to their pods somehow more fullfilled and focused, yet still rapped in a cell that will not allow them to be a Self in the outside world. Yet there is a visible modicum of healthier organzation and focus on how they do their “thing.”
Desiree notices this new screen, and shuffles a handful of post it notes and letters and notebooks.
Desiree: Everyone wants to be heard. Now. What a clammor!
Jodie tugs at her hem.
Desiree: “What is it? I will look at our picutre in a minute..Just wait.”
Jodie: “No. NO. LOOK.”
At the same time as The Church appears from the right of the stage, tweets of convesion, God’s Plan, Obedience To God’s WIll flash at random pplaces on the screen — effective as street stops or streetwork blpocks.”
The Church Man #1: “We want to share the plan of happiness with you. May we show you some scripture? And we’d like to pray with you today.”
Desiree falls into silent shcock,
And there is an uproar of busy fury from ALL pod persons, who turn their backs to the Church but are obviously making busy work to avoid the,
Ecept for Medina, who roars up the chain sawa nd finally makes the final slice that fells the ttree.
Celtic Woman sees and shouts: No! That tree is Oak from ancient Scotland — my spiritual source.”
Medina mocks: Honey, you little fuckin lost lamb, this ain’t no tree of any source than to grow viral insects.”
Sophie: “Elders, – yes — show me God’s love, redeem me, give me a blessing and heal us all — you are the way the truth the light, save us all –”
Medina (smirks) “I thought God, not Man, was the way the truth the light. Or the Jesus Guy. Shut up your a-hole, sister, ’cause the church ain’t comin in the door!!”
Church Mn #2: We understand there are strong emotions in the human world. That is how Satan gets a hold on us. With prayer, sincere prayer, God can relieve you of that anger. We are his ordained m outhpieces — will you let us pray with you, and leave you with our printed message at no cost?”
Medina: “The mouthpiece I’m willing to ordain upon you will make your Mama go red from embarrassment — or maybe just sheer ignorance — ha! Get out. You got no business here.”
Desiree had started to shrink from the visitors, and hid Jodie behind her.
Desiree rallies efficiently: “Please leave. We are not interested.”
Church Man #3: “We beleive that God gives us all free agency, but I can bear my testimony that to live in strict obedience to God’s Plan for you will relieve you fo this pain you are in, and give you great freedom and blessings untold.”
Medina: “Oh Lord, mercy on you.” Reves up the chain saw and chases them off stae.
While all this had been going on, the NYC street scene was flooded with texts of obendienece testimony and more abuse threats/punishments for silence and a flashing 1800 number to pay tithing in full remit of 10 percent of gross annual income to The Church.
Church Man #1: (exiting stage) God loves you and wants you to know his plan for you.
Medina: My plan for you is a lot quicker to get done and a lot cheaper. So beat it, dick.
And then, on The Church leaving, the uproar from all pod peoples begin in full.
And it’s not going to be quelled so soon.
Mail is umbling in waterfalls out the Voice Box.
Desi sobs but holds Jodie’s hand.
Desi: (turning to the screen) “I’ll” kill you — I’ll kill you now — Now that I know what to do — I’ll kill you!” (more to the tweets than anything else).
Shouts from the pod peoples, who are off their pod landings and doing Their Things and shouting “If you kill we we’ll have no place to go”
“If you kill it you’ll kill us”
“If you kill it you’ll kill yourself”
Desiree: Isn’t that the point???
Medina: Pass me the hooch and shuttup
CW: Pass ME the hooch and talk to me, just talk, we can write it out. More letters. But God I need a drink. If that’s not God’s Plan, then how can God be God?
Desiree: (above the crowd’s noise) “All’s I want to do is hide!”
And they all swoop her up on their throng — Jodi as well — and march her into the NYC street as lights dim and starlight danceers fill the empty, black stage.
All black, just Marcus’ music and lighted up ballet dancers in black body suits.
Curtains open to a film screen showing Peacable pond in idyllic early dawn. Penny the Poet is superimposed by the pond, and although she is only 6, her image is giant on screen. Marcus has Peer Gynte playing loudly and all pod people are quiet and the scene is soothing.
Desiree is painting a new style of art, very expressive, new free and daring elemental art. Beside her, Jodie sits on a cozy blanket, happily consumming a large wedge of deep chocolate cake and drinking straight from a carton of milk.
All Pod persons are either sleeping peacefully or up and going about serene tasks.
Medina awakens and sits up from her sleeping bag. Looks around in horror and then shouts to Marcus: Shuddup with the Peer Gynte crap!!
Noone responds, continues on as though she had said nothing.
Medina: (Getting out of bed and screaming) Marcus turn that damn thing off!! Enough with the la-la-land music!
Marcus: (Politley and genuinely asking Medina) What music would you like me to play?
Medina: (Pausing, scowling in disbelief, but acting as though Marcus had said something sarcastic) What do I want to hear?? I want to hear “It’s A Small World After All,” a thousand times back to back. Whaddya mean what do I want to hear? Reality, straight up. That’s what — ya got any reality?
Marcus: Explain? What genre, artist, band — ??
Medina: MUSIC FROM SOMEBODY WHO KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT !! MUSIC ABOUT REAL LIFE!! And turn off that damn landscape thing (pointing to movie screen). And what’s with feeding the kid cake for breakfast, Desiree? (She is fully up now, turning in circles with hands spread out as though all of this around her is UNBELIEVABLE CRAP).
Desiree: She’s been up for awhile, Medina. She’s already had an omellette. (There are “PROVISION” coolers stacked nearby). Besides, Jodie’s never had a birthday. She can eat eat cake.
Medina: Shouldn’t she be in school, learning something useful? Like dealing with bullies?
Marcus: Is this the kind of music you’re talking about? (And plays “I just want somebody to Love” by the Beattles.
Medina: (hoisting up the chain saw and pointing it at everyone in their pods, who are now fully uup and getting busy but have their backs to Medina) What is going on here, people? You think you got a free ride just because The Church and other assorted assholes are gone? Well, they’rell be more popping up in a minute — the minute you turn your back.
Jamie throws her rope lader up to Medina’s pod and climbs up to grin impishly at her. Produces a skull and crossbone poison flag and waves it in Medina’s face. Medina leans into her face and growls and grabs Jaimie’s flag — or tries but Jaimie is too quick and does a bit of acrobatic to skirt Medina’s grasp. Laughs and Runs off, hoists a flag on her pod.): Off to do some climbing with Tiko my Sherpa Guide — enough snow has melted to find The Relic Tiko has sought for a thousand years.
Medina: A thousand years? Nobody is that old!!
Jaimie ignores her and darts off with an adventure backpack.
Medina: Isn’t anybody listening to me?? You have to be prepared, people — and get real — (she tries to revv up the chainsaw but it won’t start. She throws is down and kicks it off and it clangs to the stage floor. Everyone starle freezes and looks at her.) Damn piece of American made trash!!
Medina slides down her pole and stalks over to Desiree.
Medina: And what’s with all this? (gesturing to the painting). Neauvue-Retro? Will it sell? Make income? If it doesn’t sell, we’ll all have to start stealing Jodie’s cake!
CW: Leave her alone, Medina — she’s an artist with a new style —
it’s fresh air in here. Feels good. Let it be. It’s alive. Don’t kill it, let it become as it will. It’s Fauvism art.
Medina: We are constructed and constricted by the terms of expectations around us, we cannot afford to be indulgent in personal expression that serves no practical value.
Marcus (interjecting in innocence but gets scowls like he is being perhaps insolent): How’s this one for reality music? (Turns on “All’s You Need Is Love” by the Beatles. Although the lyrics fade in a minute or so, the melody hums in the background until curtain closing).
(Jodie is now curled up in a ball in her blanket hiding from Medina, who is inches close but not addressing her).
Desiree: What—? (looks and point to the screen, which has changed scene and the Penny the Poet has come running out onto the stage after leaving the screen.) What happened to the Peaceable Pond?
On the film screen we see the tail end of a red roadster top-down sportscar driving along a winding jungle road in Hawaii. Scenes of a deserted old missionary cemetary in the jungle. Of old tyme photo equipment.
CW: (Pointing to the car) Oh no, not more flashbacks. I hate this I hate my life someone get me outta here and get me some cash I gotta go get a few bottles of 2.99 wine.
Medina: (To CW) Drink what you will, do what you will. If you get some, pass a teeter to me. It doesn’t matter, in practicality. But log this is: You are Who YOU say you are — not what THEY (pointing to screen) say you are. But I don’t care if you drink or not. Just don’t lay down and take it.
Penny shouts, as she darts to each Pod in warning: Flee the scene! It’s where we’ve Been! Quickly to run! We will burn in the sun!!
Medina: WHere’s the tweets? (referring to the screen). I need information. White?!? (White fades away).
Penny runs up to her, grabiing her skirt, tugging as though she is in mortal danger and must pay attention.
Penny: It’s God’s own Plan! It’s Pre-Tweet Time! The No-Voice land! Turning the crime!
All Pod People evacuate their pods by emergency pole slides. Pandemonium on stage.
Medina: Stop! Just everyone quiet down and stop! Listen to me! It’s fine! It’s all going to be fine!
But no one listens, pandemonium continues. She pulls out a bullhorn and uses it:
Medina: EVERYONE STOP AND LISTEN TO ME!!
Everyone stops and listens and looks at her, but not because of the loudness of her bullhorn, but because of something new and unexpected, which is that Medina is crying. Really crying. WIth slurps and catches and rolling tears.
Rain comes down over the film screen to signify her tears.
Medina: That’s my trunk. You’re not in it. I got you all out, remember? You’re all safe now. It’s only my trunk anymore. All that stuff. You don’t have to do it anymore. I got you out a long, long time ago. Please listen to me. Just don’t — don’t be lulled into false security. You can have all the healing bull you want, but don’t let it go to your head. Don’t let your guard down and turn your back all the way.
Jodie ventures over and holds a flower out to Medina. Who stares at it.
Medina: (Tears flow through a clenched jaw).. Thanks, kid. But what I really need is something to mop up this gush. Got any tissue? (Then grabs her head and pounds her temple with fists): No – no self-pity! No self-pity — buck up (to self) woman!”
Jodie hands her the blanket, a pause, then Medina accepts the blanket and wipes her eyes and blows her nose in it.
Medina: Ok. So you’re tenacious, kid. I’ll take the flower too.
Jodie gives her the flower.
The screen changes to Desiree’s paintings.
Desiree: (To the screen as it changes to her work). I Am who I say I am; not Who you say I am.
CW: I think I can write this stuff.
Desiree: Sit by me, Medina, there’s provisions left over from Jodie’s breakfast ( points to a stack of coolers with PROVISIONS on them). And tell me, should I put in more purple, or red, or black in this painting? You know, to add depth. Contrast.
A pause, and everyone is gathered around the painting, munching cheese sandwhiches, watching the screen change into the tapestry of letters, post-it notes, drawings, and notebooks from the Voice Box — overlaid onto Desiree’s paintings.
CW: Your paintings are what you say they are, not what she says they are.
Desiree is now conductor with her paintbrush as a conductor’s wand, or magic wand, point at screen and directing the notes to be posted there.
“I am Who I Say I am, Not Who You Say I Am.” flashes on the screen in one giant note written in many fonts of handwriting.
Medina: Sighs, shakes off a slb of wiggly wet ham, gulps it down after wiping her nose one last time with Jodie’s blanket and says, “Tell you after I’ve watched it for awhile. Got paper and a pen? (Scoops a slab of chocolate cake). Meantime.. Got any coffee to go with this sugar?
Curtain comes down.
END OF PLAY