Thursday, 3 March 2016

Down The Rabbit Hole

(House Lights DIM.   Audience settles, expectantly.  HOUSE LIGHTS OUT as A YOUNG WOMAN with a rabbit’s face, dressed in black top-hat and tails and white tie, with white sneakers on, and carrying a sleek black walking stick, comes on stage, standing there in SPOTLIGHT. )

RABBIT: The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things.  Of ships and shoes and ceiling wax; of cabbages and kings.

(RABBIT twitches her nose, and with a TWINKLING SOUND, as if a signal, for SPOTLIGHT OUT on RABBIT, who EXITS, AND ON FIRST PERSON & SECOND PERSON in audience, in the front row.) 

FIRST PERSON: How does he, or she, -


FIRST PERSON: - or it, know that ‘the time has come’?

SECOND PERSON: Because it has.


THIRD PERSON (behind them, leaning over; gently, with shhh gesture to lips:) Shhhhh….

(FIRST PERSON gives a dutifully acknowledging shhh gesture to lips back, with a nod.  SPOTLIGHT OUT.  SPOTLIGHT ON STAGE, where there is now standing a bewigged FOUNDING FATHER. )

FOUNDING FATHER (gravely); When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary - 


FIRST PERSON (quizzically): That’s not how it starts. 

SECOND PERSON: How does it start?   

FIRST PERSON: I think it starts, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…’  As I recall… (thoughtful; look of curiosity)   

SECOND PERSON: How do you know that?

FIRST PERSON: Because - it’s coming back to me now: (wonderingly) I’ve been here before.

THIRD PERSON (not irritatedly; more as if understanding, and just wanting the ‘show’ to go on, for its entertainment purposes, and value; leaning forward again): Shhhhh…

(FIRST PERSON gives the same dutifully acknowledging shhh gesture to lips back to THIRD PERSON.) 

FOUNDING FATHER (patiently): As I was saying… 

(FOUNDING FATHER barely, and a touch imperiously, glances at FIRST PERSON.  FIRST PERSON gives the same dutifully acknowledging shhh gesture to lips, first to FOUNDING FATHER, then to THIRD PERSON behind, then settles down to watch, with a smilingly supportive nudge from SECOND PERSON, to whom FIRST PERSON gives the same acknowledging shhh gesture.)


FOUNDING FATHER: When in the course of human evens, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

(COMMOTION, as first BROAD SPOTLIGHT and then STAGE LIGHTS UP as EVERYMAN and A SMALL GROUP OF CITIZENS comes on stage, as FOUNDING FATHER  EXITS in the opposite direction.  ALL, male and female, are in Colonial-day costumes.  LOOK AROUND WONDERINGLY.)

EVERYMAN: Well, will you look at this. 

FIRST COLONIAL (a bit knowingly): Little did we know…

EVERYMAN (decisively): It’s a whole new world. 

(FIRST COLONIAL LOOKS AT EVERYMAN AT THAT, as if to say, a bit skeptically, realistically: ‘Well.  Let’s see…’) 

SECOND COLONIAL: I wonder what it’s made of. 

THIRD COLONIAL: How do you mean.

SECOND COLONIAL: I mean, you know.  Oppression.  Arbitrary rule.  That sort of thing.  Like - 

FIRST COLONIAL (nodding, resignedly): Like we have been used to.

SECOND COLONIAL (acknowledgingly): Yeah.  That’s it.

FIRST COLONIAL: Well - We’ll find out.

EVERYMAN: You people go on.  I’m going to do a little exploring, right here.

FIRST COLONIAL (skeptically): Good luck…

SECOND COLONIAL: Come on.  Let’s go find something to eat first.  I’m famished.

THIRD COLONIAL: It didn’t seem like all that long.

FIRST COLONIAL: Who knows about such things…

THIRD COLONIAL (scornfully exasperated): Oh, you and your skeptical mind.

FIRST COLONIAL (knowingly):  Some things change……

SECOND COLONIAL (to all): Come on, everybody.  Catch you later, Everyman.

EVERYMAN: Right.  Off you go, then. And off I go………

(COLONIALS ALL EXIT.  EVERYMAN does a little walking-in-place stepping, like Marcel Marceau.)

(FIRST SCENE.  MALE PASSERBY.  Looking crestfallen, with hurt feelings.)

EVERYMAN: Why so sad?

PASSERBY: (on the verge of tears:)  …A guy  just called me a name. 

EVERYMAN:  A what?


EVERYMAN: …What did he call you?

PASSERBY: He called me a (sniff sniff) ‘nosotros’.

EVERYMAN: A what??

PASSERBY: A ‘nosotros’.

EVERYMAN: …What’s that??

PASSERBY (sniffly; wiping his nose with his sleeve:) ….Well…I don’t know; precisely.  (angrily upset:) But he called me one.

EVERYMAN: Well.  Call him a name back. 

PASSERBY (sounding it out to himself; then:)  …You think???

EVERYMAN: Yeah.  Get even.  It's a free country.  (Walks on; done with that little interaction.  But then stops and thinks: Wait a minute.  I don't know if it is or not.  Looks back at the guy; thinks for a moment; but then moves on.  To do a little more exploring here.)

(In the meantime: PASSERBY thinks that over for a moment, and then decides solidly that that’s a good idea, and he will do just that.  SECOND PASSERBY comes by.

PASSERBY (to SECOND PASSERBY):  Hey.  You.  (SECOND PASSERBY stops, looks casually at PASSERBY.)  And you - are a nameback.

SECOND PASSERBY (nonplussed): A what?

PASSERBY (defiantly): A nameback. 

SECOND PASSERBY (lost): A name back...

PASSERBY (very satisfied with himself): Yep.

(PASSERBY prepares himself for what the guy will do about it.  SECOND PASSERBY just stands there, stumped.  PASSERBY nods, back in charge of things, in ’So there’ mode.  And EXITS, well satisfied with himself.  SECOND PASSERBY looks after him for a moment more, still trying to figure things out, then gives it up, shrugging, and EXITS himself.  Well, I mean, EXITS….well, you know what I mean.)   

(SECOND SCENE.  MAN UP ON JUDGE’S BENCH, with gavel; DEFENDANT taking it all in stride, lounging in a chair below him.  BAILIFF stands by, at ease.  EVERYMAN off to the side, an observer.)

JUDGE (gaveling defiantly): Order!  Order!

DEFENDANT: Okay.  I’ll have the ham and eggs.

JUDGE: Silence!

DEFENDANT: Over easy.

JUDGE: Silence, I say!  There will be order in this court, or we will not proceed!

DEFENDANT: Oh  Well, I never wanted it to proceed anyway.  So, as I was saying - 

JUDGE: And as I was saying: Silence!  Or I will have your head!

DEFENDANT (defiantly): How?

JUDGE (sinisterly; leaning over to look down at DEFENDANT closely, malevolently):  Over - easy; peasant.

DEFENDANT (thinking that over, and backing off a bit, getting a little disturbed at the change in tone): This is a court of law; right?

JUDGE (menacingly): Yes.  Our law.  Peasant.

DEFENDANT: Peasant.  When did I become just a ‘peasant’?

JUDBGE (slowly, sinisterly; totally in charge of things, in this court:) Obviously, when you weren’t looking.  

(DEFENDANT looks at JUDGE more closely; then at the BAILIFF, who is still just standing there, in at-ease position, but somehow looking more menacing now.  DEFENDANT stirs uncomfortably in his chair.  Looks around.  No one there, to help him.  Looks back at the JUDGE.  Who is still just looking down at him, malevolently; makes a slow chopping motion with the gavel.  The feeling is of a cat, tail twitching slowly, just watching its prey, that hasn’t figured out yet that it has no exit.  DEFENDANT gets that feeling, looks around again, for help.  Sees EVERYMAN.  Looks to EVERYMAN as if for help.  EVERYMAN realizes that, is stumped; makes a helpless ‘What can I do for you?’ gesture with his hands.  A beat.  STAGE LIGHTS OUT.)  

SPOTLIGHT to the side.  HARVESTER Is at a money tree with a bucket, harvesting dollar bills.  EVERYMAN comes by.)

EVERYMAN: what are you doing?

HARVESTER: I’m harvesting my money crop.

EVERYMAN: …I didn’t know that money grows on trees.

HARVESTER: Sure.  Where did you think it came from?

EVERYMAN: Well, I don’t know.  It just - appears.

HARVESTER: Nothing just ‘appears’.  You have to make it appear.


HARVESTER: Sure.  Take money.  You plant a money seed, and you give it a little water, 
                        and it grows into a tree.


HARVESTER: So, that’s the trick.

EVERYMAN (not getting it): …What is.

HARVESTER: The water.

EVERYMAN (still a little stumped, but a little closer, now):  Ohhhh…… (but still not sure, 

HARVESTER: Yeah.  Here.  Would you like to have some?

EVERYMAN: …I’m not…

HARVESTER: Go ahead.  It’s free.

EVERYMAN: …Actually, I’m not sure how all this works, after all.  Could you go through that 

HARVESTER:  You must be new around here.

EVERYMAN: …Well…Sort of.

HARVESTER: Look.  You get yourself some seeds from The Man, and then you plant them, 
                        and they grow into trees.  And then you harvest them.  And - 

EVERYMAN: Wait - wait.  You mentioned a man.

HARVESTER: Yes.  Well, not just any Man.  The Man.  


HARVESTER: Yes.  The one that you get the seeds from.

EVERYMAN: But what does it cost you?

HARVESTER: Cost?  Oh; nothing, really.   Why.  Should it?

VOICE BOOMING OVER LOUDSPEAKER: All Harvesters: Return to your stations.  Bring your Harvest, and deposit it accordingly.  That is all. 

HARVESTER (readying to wrap his shift up): Well.  Have to go now.  Nice meeting you.  
(then) You are new around here.  Where did you say you were from?


LOUDSPEAKER VOICE: All Harvesters will NOW return to their stations.  That is a direct order.

(HARVESTER shrugs, as if to say, ‘Well, that’s that,’ and moves to EXIT.  His walking movement are somewhat like those of a robot.)

EVERYMAN (after the exiting HARVESTER): past……   

(EVERYMAN stands on for a moment, looking after the robot-like HARVESTER.  Then SMALL GROUP OF CITIZENS comes BACK ON STAGE, cheery from their experience.)

SECOND COLONIAL: Well, that was fun.  

FIRST COLONIAL: I would call it, interesting…

THIRD COLONIAL: You and your skepticism.

FIRST COLONIAL: Did you see the way they walked??  Did you really see that???  Like - 

SECOND COLONIAL (to EVERYMAN):  Well, how was your visit.

EVERYMAN (thoughtfully): It was…quite…a visit…… 

SECOND COLONIAL (Not really listening; having a job to do, like a classroom teacher; calling out): Come on, everybody.  It’s time to go back!   Tempus fugit!  (laughs)

(FIRST COLONIAL COMES UP TO EVERYMAN, as if interested in his experience.)

EVERYMAN (to FIRST COLONIAL): I’d like to go further on next time.  I’d like to see how all this works out…

(FIRST COLONIAL just looks at him, as they join the rest heading off stage.  ALL EXIT)

(SPOTLIGHT ON FIRST PERSON & SECOND PERSON in front row, feeding their gear to go.)

SECOND PERSON: Well, what did you think.

FIRST PERSON (thoughtfully): I still think, I've been here before...

(SECOND PERSON gives FIRST PERSON a little nudge.  As if to say: Come on.  Wake up.  Of course you have.  FIRST PERSON looks over at SECOND PERSON.  SECOND PERSON just looks back at FIRST PERSON.  THIRD PERSON leans over towards SECOND PERSON while FIRST PERSON readies its gear to leave the theatre.)

THIRD PERSON (to SECOND PERSON; gently, lovingly, with finger to lips; barely audible, the gesture itself sufficient): Shhhh...

(SECOND PERSON nods knowingly, acceptingly, back..  A beat.  Then SPOTLIGHT AND STAGE LIGHTS OUT.)


                                            Well.  Sort of.  It all depends.

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