The Remote Fiction Circus
By Nicholas Sturgess-Monks
The Remote Fiction Circus is two plays. The first is a standard length play (between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half hours) for a standard theatrical setting. It has been written with a very large and very tall proscenium arch stage in mind, although this is by no means a necessity. The second play is between 8 and 10 hours and requires a more specialised setting. It is necessitous that the audience be comfortably seated (more so than is possible in a conventional theatre), with tables available to groups. Small amounts of noiseless finger-food must be spread throughout the audience at regular intervals, as well as beverages it is preferable that alcoholic beverages be made available although this must be defined by the venue's licensing. Audience lighting must be present, but only barely enough to allow safe navigation through the seating arrangements. This second play is a group experience more than it is theatre. Both interpretations of this text are as valid as the other.
[Two men are seated on a raft; one wears a special hat, the other appears to be some form of puppet. PUPPET's features are wilted and resistant. HAT appears to be a man of business. The raft is in the precise centre of an infinite ocean with no horizon. There is a silence of the kind that occurs when a television is turned off. The following events occur at an indeterminate time somewhere between night and day.
There is a pulsating glow coming from beneath the water. HAT and PUPPET remain motionless, as does their raft. The scene sits suspended for what seems an endless stretch of time. The passing of time is punctuated by bubbles of noise like a broken metronome. Alongside this gliding through it is a subtle, ambient melody that lives inside the sub-sonic frequencies. Its music is both soft and paranoid.
Slowly it becomes apparent that there is an array of nylon chords, tightly attaching the floor beneath the ocean to the ceiling of the theatre beyond view. They are intensely vertical. The effect is vicious, this clearly is a symptom of imminent attack. The chords display ataxia and subsequent nausea, their world is in conflict with the one through which they cut.
Hints of what might be birdsong intermittently attempt to erupt; they are however, eaten before they emerge. A star begins to search the stage, seeking out its form, shape and attitude. It is unclear whether the star represents an entity, a colony, or a piece of dysfunctional technology. Possibly it is all of these things. Whatever it is, its gaze is unsettling, where it falls the waters of the ocean are caused to ripple outwards. Slowly. Infinitely slowly. From time to time there is a shrill, piercing whistle that ripples the surface of the ocean in opposition to those caused by the star; it is a conflict of tides. Slowly. Infinitely slowly, the star's gaze intensifies... just before everything is burnt up by its power its gaze begins to be broken by the shadows of roving birds. Pecked. The star is weakened by their presence, their shadows tear apart its over-lit realm. Their motion is sweeping and decided, punctuated by moments of awareness, possessing the slow and assured momentum of the Emperor. The birds' physical bodies must never be seen. Their motion reveals a fear of the star's searching beam; they avoid it by sudden and deft manoeuvres that run in stark contrast to their standard rate of motion. They are entities of shadow, the star is an incarnation of light.
Real water begins to dribble down the nylon chords, first slowly and in small amounts but in an increasing rate and volume. Increased wetness is the star's defeat, it fades to a dull ambience, that bathes the world in a depressive grey light. Its texture is oily. This is accompanied by a glassy tinkling of sound.
A horizon forms. The birds become frantic, the star regains power. They are caught by the beam one by one and evaporate within it. The air is momentarily filled with an ambience of pain and loss as each bird is captured. A thin cloud of feathers rains down on the stage from above. They fall as if prevented from ever landing, dragged down by gravity and buffeted upwards by some unseen force. Several of these feathers gently alight on HAT and PUPPET, as the two are touched they snap upright to a position of standing consciousness. There is an ambient harmony that slices through the air, it is beautiful and it is terrifying. The star begins to pulse and splutter as though building up to a powerful sneeze. There is an immense shudder of light. The star ceases its search. The sky ceases to torrent.]
[The following piece should be accompanied by beautiful and harmonious music. The music must be at first soporific, however as the piece progresses a secretive hint of danger, malice, terror will begin to reveal itself within the harmony. The dialogue, unless otherwise stated, should be delivered as though without thought, from the mouth of one lobotomised. Space should be emphasized, along with rhythm. Repetition and tonal play are encouraged.]
HAT: And so I drift back. Return to realisation.
PUPPET: I am I.
HAT: A smoke screen to cover our eyes. Everything slows down.
[The nylon chords begin to slowly change colour, as does the sky behind them in opposition. Neither ever quite settle, however the chords tend to favour red, and the sky tends to favour a wavering between blue and green.]
HAT: you see
you _ see..................................._____ a clasp at my throat. It is the panic button.
PUPPET: To the left. A mild delirium. The skin tingles.
HAT: A sugary flavour softens my lips. I exhale. A cloud. A fiery dragon. It leaves behind it a tail. A catch inside my throat.
[Flash. A wisp of vapour emerges from the surface of the ocean, works its way through the sky, in a spiralling pattern, escaping to the heavens above. It is a creature composed of moisture and bears with it echoes of the deep.]
PUPPET: We clasp the tail and we ... [(flash)] follow... ... One step. Closer... it is a trickle of blood on my hand. The tail. Its tail, warm. A place to lie at night.
Infinity; oblivion - fulfilment. Smoke and incense. It trails along, through...
a hall vapour of mirrors. [(Flash. Flash.)] Who do you lie to? At night? When no-one's listening...
PUPPET: Someone's listening. The tail. Lost in a mirror
[The vapour returns. It bears a trophy stolen from the birds imprisoned by the star. It teases HAT and PUPPET, they can neither touch nor understand it despite all efforts.]
PUPPET: I am I?
HAT: Leaves a tail. We clasp it. We clasp it and we follow... through
An eye ... the hall-of-mirrors. What can I see? It stares out
like an eye. An eye from God. [(flash)] Unblinking. A death-grip on the senses. Mist. ___
it is something new.
[The scene freezes. There is a moment of recognition between HAT, PUPPET and the vapour. It drops its trophy between HAT and PUPPET on their raft. Flash. Floats above them for a moment.]
HAT: [(in a tone of memory)] An eye. There was an eye...
no... There was a snowstorm... It had started somewhere... somewhere... in... it had started and travelled over many... many... ah. Did it start? ___ No. Well, it began...
You see... it had discovered a
corner. Or a corridor... a passage. It fell on a township, dousing it with a thick blanket. [(bliss)] Like perfect white silk. Soft, a fallen cloud still moist... But, by a trick of perspective the township could not appreciate its virtues. It was perspective... From my vantage above the township... er, village? It was somewhere... above. ___... From above I saw its mantle settled, glistening. There was an eye...
it was a snowstorm...
An implacable blanket. It gave me cause for joy. Where we men, women, children
and such have been. Where we are. There is still a potential. A potential for ... wonder?... no. A potential simply for beauty...
[Seven beats of space.]
HAT: [(the darkening tones of depression confused with failure)] But from beneath their perfect enclosure the town could not appreciate... the achievement. We... we excavated the township and exhumed their corpses; an abhorrence choked my throat, appalling, obscene. We marred the snowstorm's work; revealed the contorted, agonised bodies of men, women and children who did not appreciate their beauty... it was a bitter task. Yet I felt comforted...
all our toil is vain
Yes. Appearance. Always the snow will fall again. Beauty.
HAT: [(smiles)] Always.
[Ten beats of space.
PUPPET and HAT both return to automatism.
The vapour performs a slow, sensuous dance as it moves vertically off-stage. Flash. As it exits HAT and PUPPET become alive.]
[The following is delivered outside the rhythm established by the music and is spoken in a relatively natural manner.]
HAT: Life's pleasures. [(invoking a list)]
PUPPET: A high-powered vacuum cleaner. Fully-automated washing. Burnable rubber. Solid fuel. Gold plated teeth. Plastic explosives. Remote control helicopters. Baseball. Disposable cameras.
[A kaleidoscope of symbols echo over the stage.]
HAT: Individualism. Idealism. Industrialism. Ismism. Monopoly. Gambling. Hookers. Violence on TV. Something about murder. Politics. Nazi revivalists. Something about sex. Spitting on other people's feet.
PUPPET: Health warnings. The nanny state. Political plat-forming. Mindless violence. Trophy wives. Love-at-first-sight. Cosmetics. Cosmetic Surgery. Anti-depressants. TV talkshows. Hey, give me a cigar.
HAT: Unfair stereotypes. Atomic warfare. Love at first sight. Sitting on snakes. Kissing strangers. Fair stereotypes. Urethral swab. Addicted to gambling. Addicted to sex. Addicted to fashion. Addicted to the pokies. Addicted to addiction therapy. Something about depression...
PUPPET: Rolling the dice. Public nudity. An affair to remember. A diamond ring. Cruise ships. Valium. Cruise missiles. Prozac. Dying to be beautiful. Where's my god damn cigar?! Losing a limb. Finding a new one. Empty platitudes. Give us more meds! Civil disobedience. Train wrecks. Train robbers. Celebrity disasters. Nipple slips. Paparazzi. Cults of culture, I, me, you, money, personality. Who will be first to drop the bomb? I need a new TV, car, dentist, wife, surgeon, grocer, children, home. What's new I'm bored? [(A director should feel free to insert numerous additions to this list, however there may be no omissions)] A smoky dragon. [(PUPPET begins to become aware of their previous experience, as though remembering a dream)] A cloud... A sugary flavour softens my lips... [(Looks down and sees the trophy left by the vapour. Picks it up and considers it. Weighs it. Feels it. Examines it. There is an uncertainty in his demeanour)] I... am... ... I...
[PUPPET remains frozen, locked in an abstracted contemplation of his discovery. Meanwhile HAT has returned to his previous trance-like state and has turned to face the audience directly. He comes as far towards the audience as the size of the raft will permit and addresses the following to them as a lobotomised man. It is a return to the previous musicality. The dialogue should be accompanied and punctuated by a hypnotic movement in light.]
HAT: And I exhale. And so the dragons that dance coil themselves inwards, an inverse spiral. Return to smoke. I exhale. Haze. We dissipate. Clear. The fog rises. Only a fiery ember remains. Breath for breath I am inhaled. Always there is the taint of paranoia. A fearful black in the soul. [(HAT, the lobotomised man begins to discover emotions previously burnt out. Emotional emphasis should be experimented with like one discovering the variety of flavour for the first time; neither specific nor communicative purely experiential and investigative)] Through our delirium we are aware of a depression, though refracted and suddenly deflected by the pungent mist that now hangs at our eye. Silly. Half sick with gagging. Fear of discovery. But... [(memory)] a sugary flavour softens my lips... But how nice... Dangerous, always there is the taint of paranoia. We are exhaled as we exhale. We begin to see the insect itself. It has built its nest inside our guts
[The music ceases]
PUPPET: [(displaying the trophy to the audience)] One head whispers in our ears; the other speaks through our mouths. Its eyes are the cameras through which we see, feel, think, believe. It is the Remote Fiction Circus. We are but actors inside its lens.
HAT: [(still caught in his trance but beginning to realise that it was artificial and false. As he recognises first his circumstances, then his self he experiences first fear and panic, emerging into rage)] We are stripped of will and replaced by the insectoid drones of a closet revolution. I remain the sole artefact of my type. A representative of the unidentifiable. You see, it is loose... you see. You see... the strings. The strings. The strings, they are loose. You see... Limbo. Sleep. Dream. The Remote Fiction Circus is a shell. Carapace. It is a mouth. It devours me. You. Us. We are part, we are unit. A link in an invisible chain. Remote, fictional. Semi-conscious at best. If it is a dream, it is beautiful. It is beauty
our shared nightmare. Something we enjoy in daylight. Cold. A ring of frost spreading into clear cuts of crystal... linked. In chains...
Strip it back to reveal the the the the line
the line is in limbo the dream of being. And so, you see... you see... I've been cut off. Had! I'm done for
they've disconnected me. I am cut loose
[Dejected, HAT slumps. His misery is a burden that weighs on him physically.]
[Suddenly all the water is drained from the stage as though by a plug beneath. The two appear not to notice.]
HAT: Dismantled! You see... You see... I've been disconnected. Cast out from our protective shell. An insect left to crawl on my own. And perhaps... perhaps... There is only one way back.
PUPPET: [(woefully)] They've dismantled us! [(puts the trophy in his pocket)] All our lovely new parts... gone. [(pulls himself together with the realisation of his own inside knowledge. He in fact knows more than the entire audience)] It was a managerial crisis really. The papers would tell us that a water cooler had started a riot in an office building. Knowledge. A plague. The virus spread and soon we fell sick to revolution. Revelation became commonplace. Anarchy ensued...
HAT: [(succumbing to mania)] Dismantled. Cast out. Oppressed by misdirection! You see... I ah... I... You see... ah... ah... you see... you see...
PUPPET: [(becoming aware of his surroundings)] Terribly sorry, but were we not in the precise centre of a vast and desperately infinite ocean mere moments ago?
HAT: [(in high tragic style, a proclamation to the Gods)] Confused by decision. Rumbles of discontent leading to inertia in the gut. Oh my gut! An empty log adrift in a sea of hollow analogy. I am an aching quiver. I take succour from the shit of gulls.
PUPPET: [(shaking HAT)] Sir! Contain your misery. No longer are we all out at sea. We are now rather, ... desert-ed. True this is a barren place, yet it is solid. It does not sway with a thought. Neither does it heave to swallow. Yes. Quite solid. A plain perhaps. Perhaps, largely plain. It is a flat. Landing.
HAT: This disturbance shakes my brain... The 7th Limbo seems to eat at my stem. It is a lazy slug that sucks, licks. It reeks of my own weakness. Master. Prevents. Pushes. Tugs. Caught between cause and effect... rooted to our fates by historical insight. My eyes,
see what is life in new light... I fear we carry our native infection with us [(suddenly becomes aware of PUPPET's meaning)] ...Yes. It's land. How sudden.
[A multitude of cameras of all different shapes and models begin to spiral down the nylon chords, first few then many. Clusters of them, bound together by reels of film, tripods, lights, umbrellas, into bricks that land one on top of the other to form an immense mound/monolith erected from the debris of photography. It contains within its structure an infinite variety of cameras that contain within them a literally infinite variety of possible film exposures. This structure is built of the containers for caught images of everything that ever was, is, will be, wont be, isn't and never was. It lands just behind the raft, causing HAT and PUPPET to leap off their raft in a state of panic and seek cover at the other's expense. During this period immense sheets of differently coloured cellophane dance across the stage in terribly slow motion, off-setting the chaos of the rest of the action. These cellophane sheets are analysed by three differently coloured lights, that appear not to trust their legitimacy.]
PUPPET: [(in panic)] We've broken the shell. Digital ataxia, mechanisation, Dismantled. Purged. Ejected!
HAT: [(dusting himself off)] Yes... broken... But we mustn't talk about it. Heresy. A disturbing hypocrisy. You see... you see... I wish to learn.
PUPPET: [(smiles)] Did you find the corners?
HAT: Oh no... we're not nearly outside limbo yet...
HAT examines the edifice and attempts to discover its origin.
HAT: So. You see... Our plight. It is an investigative offence I'm afraid I expanded too far. No, not afraid... certain.
I am certain I expanded too far.
PUPPET: [(looking dejected)] All our lovely new parts... dismantled.
HAT: How explicit must I be? This situation bears no analysis. It demands silence and an element of spell-stricken acceptance. We are here. Logic dictates that we may not escape this inevitability.
A painfully immense period of silence follows.
[Suddenly the pair become aware of the presence of an ancient gentleman sitting atop the mound of cameras. He has been watching them for some time and views them with the eyes of a predator that knows its prey intimately. His eyes are sunken like hollowed marrow. A long, white beard droops to his knees. His clothes are grey and somewhat decayed, they appear to be made of some unknown animal's skin. He is not wearing his hat.]
ATALOSS: WHAT, HO, HEY, HI, HELLO THere. [(gesticulates with his entire body)] Do I have your entire attention?
ATALOSS: I should think so. Hope so. Expectation? Too much to expect. Not ungrateful now. Illusive to say the least. I do have so much information... infinite. So some. Not much. But all. One lacks the resolution to continue... My my you're a handsome fellow...
PUPPET: [(to HAT)] I think he mocks us... shall I throw spite at him?
HAT: Excuse me sir... sir... you had our attention, but it seems to have wavered... or perhaps wandered. I've lost it by all accounts...
ATALOSS: Oh dear... so I have lost you then?
PUPPET: [(to HAT)] ... I managed to retain my attention, untarnished, the whole time.
HAT: [(ignoring PUPPET)] Do you possess any answers?
PUPPET: I shall continue to guard it jealously. [(PUPPET attempts to maintain an attitude of non-interest rather unsuccessfully)].
ATALOSS: Records. Old records. Dusty old records. New memories. Replicas. Captured images; our history. All that ever has, has not, will, wont, wasn't, was and thought. Captured. Frozen. Compiled. Identified. Documented. Contained...
[ATALOSS picks up a camera, rips open the back and removes the film. He stretches out the reel and examines it closely, seeming to recognise something.]
ATALOSS: Memories are here. If you can find them. [(there is a frantic nature to his movement and a feverish contortion to his body)] All I find is nonsense. Absurd. Meaningless... words, ideas and solutions. Who wants an answer when you don't know the question? You see... you... the rate of capture... it's the rate of capture that's truly astounding: 'greatly astonishing'.
[He captures several cameras up in his claw-like hands and scatters them to the sky with a maniacal laugh.]
PUPPET: The poor creature is mad sir...
ATALOSS: [(In a strangely high-pitched squeal. The full-stop is an indication of a definite and total cessation)] HAHaha. [(captures HAT's eye with a piercing gaze)] Did I, just now, hear you proclaim yourself a learner? A... discoverer... [(leans in craftily)] Knowledge?
HAT: I'm no fool to give myself away so easily. You see... you see... And what would you do with that information were I to give it you? Why you would capture it!
ATALOSS: [(aside)] I assure you it was captured long ago...
HAT: I am a citizen. I remain singular. A universal entity. I keep myself remote. Fictional. Periodically, when the senses shift, I am united with the whole. This time-bomb will not be delivered... I will not be the instrument of my own unwriting... I will not be had...
ATALOSS: How disappointing... all my hopes are dashed...
PUPPET: [(to HAT)] Shall we get moving then? Lets find an edge. A corner. Slip over its side. Lets see something new.
HAT: [(to PUPPET)] Don't be so hasty you warped stool! He may teach us something...
ATALOSS: [(triumphant)] Aha! A revelation. Nothing short of miraculous. It's no surprise. I've seen this part before, on reflection. A repetition. Captured within certain conditions. An image, identifying expectation
that gives it little credence...
ATALOSS: I suppose you're wondering where you are...
HAT: [(with finality)] We're fairly certain that we know where we are.
ATALOSS: Let me assure you that you don't. But you will. Eventually. Perhaps. Although it's unlikely. It's inevitable. You'll see. It exists
it exists somewhere... somewhere in memory...
[(ATALOSS looks into the distance, as though seeing something lost... ATALOSS pauses to recover the fragments of his mind that remain)] It seems... that... that ah... reason has been confused by circumstance. It was... inevitable you see.
[The sky gains the purpled depth of midnight. A hoard of stars gently illuminate the stage in a multitude of subtly varied hues. The scene holds the ambience of a prehistoric ritual. Ancient men can be faintly heard constructing Stonehenge somewhere in the vast distance. ATALOSS stands and delivers a formal address to HAT and PUPPET. PUPPET is exceptionally hungry, spaces and holes within this scene are to be punctuated by his groans of hunger.]
ATALOSS: I hold here, I stand atop, I represent, I oversee, the map. A perfection. We are an interrogation, a reflection. This is a complete machine. Unique. A total collection. Memory, mind, mass... . Such an achievement. [(collapses with dejection)] But our catalogue's order is off er, out. You see
ah... Which is to say it has no order.
There is no catalogue. It is not at present at hand. I have seen you with it. At some time...
PUPPET: [(interjecting dazed)] I
long for - - - some_thing
ATALOSS: [(continuing as though uninterrupted)] Our location is complete. It's
perfect. [(a moment of complete grief is coupled to the word 'perfect'. There is a moment, a possibility of weeping, not taken)] It has become apparent that I am drowning in information.
[While HAT has found all of this incredibly absorbing, PUPPET can stand no more.]
PUPPET: WHERE ARE WE?
ATALOSS: Ah. Yes. That. Well. You see... ahher... WE. Are in the exact centre of everywhere. This may seem to bear some importance, but I assure you that it will soon be of as little significance to you as it is to me.
HAT: [(terribly disappointed)] Oh. Bugger, we've been put in the wrong direction. We're exiles you see.
PUPPET: Expelled! Purged! Rejected!
[HAT hits PUPPET about the head.]
HAT: You see... you see... we're supposed to be in the... aah... the ah... middle of nowhere. [(At this point the sky begins to lighten to a soft azure, touched by hints of cyan. The stars, one by one, cease to shine. After an extended period of still appreciation A heavy orange glow begins to notably push down from above. It promises to encroach upon and annex the sky)] It does seem a shame, but I'm sure you understand. I'm told that everywhere is to be where we are found, nowhere I'm sure will offer us a safe haven. The centre of everywhere, would seem to be the ah furthest one could get from the middle of ah ah nowhere... we're not nearly outside limbo yet. No corners in sight. Best keep moving...
ATALOSS: Never to worry, never worry! Comrades keep seats... Haven. This. [(again gesticulating with his entire body)] [(experiencing a rare moment of clarity and insight, this is accompanied by a momentary change of voice to that of an aged Slavic scholar)] The centre of everywhere is just as far from a general anywhere as your middle of nowhere. One might say that the middle of nowhere and the centre of everywhere were the same place. At least, you are in the right place [(returns to normal accent, with an expression on his face that combines, surprise, alarm and amusement)] although
I do admit to having seen evidence to the contrary. Various... er er
... [(ATALOSS disappears inside the mound)]
[A camera falls from the sky tragically slowly, its fall is a suicide. It lands directly in front of the audience and they have enough time to see a miserable tear blot its face before its flash goes off blindingly and it dies. There is a strange, ringing silence. Clearly the world has lost something beautiful and of value. Accompanying the flash, the sky and stage are sent awash in a vile orange. It is putrid and burns the stage, making it apparently Hellish. This is not a red Hell.]
[HAT takes off his hat in supplication to the audience. He is mournfully apologetic. His aspect is demoniacal in relation to the sickly glow that bathes him. It is unclear whether he speaks of ATALOSS or is delivering a eulogy to the camera.]
HAT: It seems we lost him just as he was getting to his point. You see... you see... that's life. I believe it is serendipity. It has gotten the better of me. I dread a certain finality. This fear...
[Large, drawn out flash. PUPPET's body becomes suddenly and viciously contorted. The orange light that blasts the stage begins to mould. It is be-speckled by the psychedelic variety of colour and form that only the most beautiful of moulds can create. Hat steps forward with a clouded look in his eyes, as though he is in the presence of an ancient and revered ghost.]
[Horrific laughter explodes from PUPPET's gaping throat. Colour and shape shreds violently across the stage in unison with PUPPET's cacophony. There is an ambient sound of angels ascending. They are joyous. HAT finds himself trapped within an infinite loop of consideration and revelation. He never quite manages to find a suitable exit point from this cycle.]
[ATALOSS' head emerges from a hole in the mound right behind HAT's head. PUPPET's laughter stops as suddenly as it began. PUPPET sags from enervation.]
ATALOSS: My [(clears his throat)] fellows. Mine. I have travelled, though delayed now some time. [(indicating the mound on which he stands)] The crux, or a crux. I stand on dignity, as I have nothing else to stand on. You see... I'm, I am
I am-at-a-loss. You see
The loss. It was unintentional unavoidable. Surely a coincidence. [(ATALOSS's eyes become momentarily clouded, he takes a moment to gather himself, then ...)] Your possibilities just became limitless. My library. It's perfect. [(he sinks in abject despair)]. Trapped by an intention you see.
PUPPET: I'm beginning to feel exposed...
ATALOSS: I've lost the key... well
ah had it. You see. But I do have it [(indicating the mound)] here. I've seen it many times
never touched it. Here. [(picks up a camera)] and here. [(throws it away and picks up another)] and here. [(repeat process for as long as desired, but for at least five repetitions.)] all an image. [(ATALOSS becomes the figure of agony in human form. His age becomes a physical enemy that is slowly but surely crippling, disabling him. He is a victim of entropy, a symbol of decay)].
[HAT picks up a camera and examines it closely in all its aspects, this is done in an elaborate process as by one who has never heard of the concept of a camera. ]
HAT: I long for a need
PUPPET: [(with each 'I' PUPPET becomes increasingly more self aware. The period between the penultimate and the last 'I' is one of agonising self-discovery. The final 'I' occurs as PUPPET becomes connected to total self-reflection it is a crushing blow.)] I
[After looking through the viewfinder for some time HAT opens up the back, in imitation of ATALOSS and rips out a reel of film, which he stretches out to examine. PUPPET snaps to attention, as though controlled by strings.]
PUPPET: [(his voice emerges strangled as though from a great and untouchable distance)] I long for something
I long for something new. I long for something nec-ess-sary. Needed
I long for something. Necessary. Nec-ess-sary. I... I... I long...
I long for something ____
I long for something
[(PUPPET attempts to find the correct word to close his sentence but each time he gets close he finds that it chokes him, causing him to violently wretch and his eyes to water. He is weakened like one in dialysis)]
HAT: [(trance-like)] I _ long _ for a
There is an individual system. Similar in tone to reconnaissance. How do you see an enemy? Recognition is a barrier to impulse. A denial. There-was-once-an-explosion-that-eroded-a-mound It-caused-the-mound-to-slip,___ downwards. Into the sea. Eventually, a bird, flying past, saw this mound, and saw within this mound, uncovered by its erosion. It saw within this mound maggots. Moaning. A multitude. Millions, writhing, screaming, calling. The birds perspective was from above. Their empire had been destroyed by a freak occurrence and now this gluttonous scavenger would gorge itself on the remains of their once great nation. The maggots struggled, but were trapped within their own collapsed tunnels. Easy prey to the bird. From above. [(HAT strains the muscles of his entire system, individually flexing every cluster in his body beginning from his feet and rising to the top of his skull. He exhales with pleasure that brings tears to his eyes.)] Eventually the bird had had its fill and sought to fly away. However, it found itself over-filled, you see... the bird was weighed down by its gluttony... you see... you see its mass had over-run its volume. You see... This freak explosion, you understand, it ah... ah... it caused an erosion, and this erosion, extended through the explosion... and on, into the mound, then deeper to its inhabitants... and then, by virtue of exposure, it exploded outwards, upwards... to the birds. Trapping things of the air on the ground, to cause further transfer of the collapse. You see. Ahher An erosion... you see... is general. Certainly, it must begin from a source, but it expands. It does not stop. Our growth has become a process of erosion. We erode and are eroded. Creation, it seems, is simply a misinterpretation. Let me see. Let me see. Ah... And gluttony is the trap that feeds its passage. I must see. Let me see... Let me see...
[HAT steps onto the raft, which begins to rise and slowly spin, he is ecstatic. HAT is transfixed by the film and begins to speak with a rising and falling pattern in unknown tongues, his body perspires from the effort simply of being present. PUPPET punctuates HAT's vocalisations by short, intermittent bursts of uncomfortable laughter, painful, breaking the ribs, starving the brain of oxygen. There is a growing distance to HAT's body that is matched only by the presence of PUPPET's. When PUPPET isn't laughing, he is gasping for breath. PUPPET's eyes bulge with the strain of these outbursts his movement is still being inhibited as though by strings on a marionette, and these strings have begun to burn, strangle and bind him unmercifully. His mouth says pleasure and his eyes say agony, his body expresses abject confusion of the senses. ATALOSS, aware of the phenomena that is occurring ducks inside the mound for safety. There is a shuddering of light that appears at times to be in rhythm with HAT's vocalisations. Aurally there is a storm, an organic failure, attempting an impossible harmony.]
[All the cameras and pieces of the monolith rise and begin to move, shimmering. ATALOSS is gone. The cameras attached to the nylon chords rise in an unevenly staggered pattern back to the heavens, whilst the larger bricks that formed the mound begin to drift through the space aimlessly, sensuously. The colour settings of the stage lights begin to change jaggedly, sometimes creating beautiful smooth transitions and then suddenly jarring from one colour to the next, shocking like a knife through the ribs. There is a sense of the mythical Egyptian past, created by pyramids, prisms and contours of light meeting motion in space.
The mound bricks find themselves slowly disappearing from the stage. Knotted sinew slithers down the chords and begins to drape itself around HAT's limbs. The stage becomes a purpling, bruised womb of membranous material. It captures HAT in its tendrils, binding him like a slave in some act of sexual domination. He has a wild look in his eyes, as of one who has just discovered sex and death in the same day. He laughs, the most truthful and honest laughter he has experienced in his entire existence. Dust is falling in low quantities, creating puffy clouds of something similar to vapour. Something similar to mist. This transparent haze becomes an observer alongside the audience. It is aware of what happens within it.
HAT's body collapses within its constraints, becoming limp suspended in space. As HAT relinquishes control PUPPET regains it, becoming master of his own motion. He is stunned, and confused. Uncertain of his surroundings. Uncertain of what he just experienced. What did it mean? Who caused it? Where the fuck did that mound go?]
PUPPET: [(stops)] ah. Aah. AH. Ah. AAAAAH. AAAH. aH. HAHA HAA-aaaaAAAHhhhhhhaHH. [(pants in exhaustion and confusion)].
[PUPPET looks about him with an air of mistrust. He climbs the knotted sinew, attempting to reach HAT. HAT is however, inaccessible and insensible a burnt out shell.
PUPPET takes the reel of film from HAT's hands and suspiciously glances at it. His eyes widen with fear and trepidation, then glow with the light of half-knowledge. He stuffs the film into the same pocket as his trophy from the vapour and viciously smashes the camera to pieces on the floor of the stage. After his exertion he collapses on the stage beneath HAT.
Slowly a trickle of water slithers down the chords, lending the sinew a wet sheen. Slowly this trickle of water builds in intensity and quantity, eventually becoming a torrent that coats all beneath in a constant layer of flowing water. The dust in the air is absorbed by all this liquid leaving the world stark and soaked.
The call of birds can be heard faintly in the distance. A cackling throng harassing their meal. Their roving shadows begin to break up the light on stage. The hanging sinew that contains HAT begins to tug and pull as the birdsong becomes more violent and starved.
In a sudden and surprising motion, HAT is torn vertically upwards by the sinew as though tugged by God. ATALOSS can be heard vaguely sobbing. All becomes dark.]
[The stage is bare of all theatrical dressing. There is simply the stage, a raised platform, made from scaffolding (upon which ATALOSS is perched), and a white back-lit screen at the rear. The platform is at least two point four metres in height and no more than one metre in diameter.
PUPPET has changed his clothes, now dressed in rustic gear, made from the same materials as ATALOSS' clothes. His lips are darkened with a bloody smear. During the intermission his looks have become more wild and animal, the years undoubtedly have tested him. He stands rigid towards the rear of the stage, silhouetted against the white screen.
HAT appears to have atrophied. He sits with his legs over the edge of the stage. His expression is that of a guarding lawn-gnome, apparently emoted yet unconscious. ]
PUPPET: [(with his back slightly toward the audience)] Conscience... _________ HAT! [(searches with his head)]
I said: Conscience. Conscience. What do you think of that? Conscience. Conscious. Very similar. Close. A resemblance to
Conscience. I said
Conscious. [(gets a sudden look of fear)] oh!
[(with the appearance of a guilty dog)] sorry
[(he muses for a while, then discovers that his preference is for brooding and therefore switches)].
PUPPET stands and goes over to HAT, kneels on one knee and takes his limp hand.
PUPPET: I am a lifeless puppet. We lack logical progression; we are callous and open to suggestion... Where does a puppet's life sit? In the veins of the one who pulls its strings?
I am ... I am
an entity. I seek to move, but am entrapped by my own construction. Divine providence. I am a tool, not an entity, and therefore am limited to a life by manipulation rather than intent. But you sleep... You have slept so long... time ... [(looks around him grimly)]. We continue to live. Progression remains frozen. Bottomless. But are you dead? Truthfully, a reply is what I dread.
would you like to be shifted? If so please continue to drool.
[PUPPET waits as though expecting some response. Then, apparently having received it, shifts HAT a bit. HAT is non-responsive. ]
PUPPET: [(mumbling semi-intelligibly)] bed-sores... always bed-sores.
[Subtly wafting shadows begin to appear on the stage, mere moments at a time. PUPPET is unconscious of this. The shadows have an anti-natural glow to their edges.]
PUPPET: We lack logical progression; we are in search of an end... but, I am cut off from all sources of suggestion
There must be some drill to reason
I am still callous; open to suggestion. Without authority, I am... I am...
what? I? No. No, not I.
something else. [(indicating his body)] Is this a fetish or a familiar?
[PUPPET removes a piece of jerky from his pocket and begins chewing it. Stops. A guilty swoon. Looks to HAT for approval. HAT remains non-responsive. Continues to chew his jerky during the following...]
PUPPET: If time is relative then I think I have been here forever... We have spent forever without rain and forever in the hot sun. We have spent forever without shelter and forever without night or day. Forever, certainly, has been spent... it was painful at first. To be captured by eternity. But I found, as forever emerged, that it became no more than a silent buzz tinnitus of the gut. A reason to itch. And so I have done my duty as a denizen of life, by continuing to devour. I believe I have shown some efficiency in this enterprise.[(PUPPET displays his jerky)] [(PUPPET muses, then corrects himself to a brood the preferred function)] I shall win praise for my powers of consumption... [(long and pointedly uncomfortable silence)]
there was a time when I sought escape, an exit. I thought it was clear. Why, there is a door below me. Whether it be a way in or out, it remains a way. Away from here. Somewhere else. Geographic relocation. But it doesn't open. The mechanism refuses. You see sir. We are shut out...
[PUPPET collapses in a fit of coughing that leaves him breathless. A swirl of dust is visible in the air.]
PUPPET: [(breathlessly)] the air seeks to choke me. It is cloying, alien. It speaks of things I have not known. I cannot see it
trapped. In memory, in an image, in an idea, in an occupation. Dead-bolted is our contract. And yet... I seek... not nearly outside limbo yet... Who do I speak to? You? You do not hear. Rescued from the edge of reason, and not one word of thanks. Not one word at all. Not even a few words. A total absence of words. And so I must put words inside your mouth, so that I your puppet might act. Are you aware sir, of the positions you've ordered me into? No... no...
of course you're not.
[There is a long period of deadly silence whilst PUPPET broods.]
PUPPET: Exiles. Expelled. For an ounce of knowledge and some small discharge of experience. But we have exiled in the wrong direction. I believe I am deeper in limbo now than ever. The corners all bend and I feel the edges escaping me. There was a moment, either years, weeks or hours ago, when I felt in the right place. But it evaporated when you left. Now, I find my strings have frayed. [(broods)] A transparent haze of expansion. I am at the edge of the borderless hole. Far too far have we expanded. This expansion. What is it? Is this the field at dawn? Transfixed. In stasis. Emancipated from being. Trapped in life. If only the door would open... it is after all the obvious exit. Oh to realise...
[The shadows blacken. The stage is bathed in a deep red and a door appears in the screen to the rear..]
PUPPET: Romeo and Juliet were a pair of goldfish. They lived in a bowl. It was spherical and contained within it their world. Tybalt was a dog a labrador with a wagging tail he wagged his tail and knocked Romeo and Juliet's bowl from its shelf. They lay on the floor of someone else's world, amidst shards of broken glass and struggled to cover themselves under the puddles of quickly dissipating water. They died from asphyxiation, but not before witnessing the end of their world. A tragedy
what? No, it was not asphyxiation. They died from want of a door, there was no exit. Yes
what? No. No.[(looks at HAT sharply)]
yes. Of course. [(shakes his head)] No.
Of course! Yes. Yes, I tried knocking
[(there is a long embarrassing pause)]
no, - no. No [(shakes his head)]. No, I didn't try knocking
[A jagged, frantic demeanour cloaks PUPPET's motion. He looks at HAT...]
PUPPET: Just... just wait here... I'll knock.
[PUPPET rapidly knocks on the door, distrustful. This causes the sheet to billow and sway, an effect that PUPPET is deeply troubled by. To his surprise the door swings open in a sudden gesture without difficulty. PUPPET leans his head in and cranes his body through, attempting to observe without committing.]
PUPPET: It is cavernous. Dark, the empty space. Where actors act, and an audience obliviated by their role observe. It is the cloister, where prayers are given to the air. It is filled with the air that takes them. I can smell
[PUPPET looks up at HAT, then at the audience.]
just wait there
[PUPPET glances into the doorway again with trepidation. He looks at the audience, seeking spiritual aid. He looks at the sky with a heartfelt inner terror. PUPPET gathers himself and he enters the hut. Its door swings shut behind him with a spluttering of light and sound.]
[A string of dust hangs ponderously in the air, suspended as by cobweb, draped between the taut chords attaching floor to sky. Aurally, there seems to be something missing. A note not played, a harmony not met. Slowly HAT regains a level of consciousness. Simultaneously ATALOSS gains a minute level of mobility, his motion is in direct opposition to that of HAT, though at a microscopic level. The following dialogue occurs halfway between sleep and waking life. It is musical; tone, repetition, and space are encouraged. Especially space.
HAT shudders, his eyes not yet open. His muscles crawl. His jaw tenses. His eyeballs roll within their sockets. HAT's eyes slowly creep open, harried by the dried crust of dusty sleep. HAT looks upwards to the sky. Three feathers fall, one after another each is a different size, shape, texture and colour. Their fall is graceful yet somehow forced, as though a trick rather than a natural occurrence. HAT looks around to the audience, making direct eye contact with a single person. HAT attempts to get up, but finds himself incapable. His eyes contain the pain of immobility.]
HAT: When I awoke I was blind. The grit had dug deeply into my eye. A bore to separate my self from my body. It was terror, and yet
there was something strangely satisfying. A link, a link to... to... er...
something. A martyr. Snow... it must have been. Blinding, white, chill that slices the flesh. And when it returned... was it better? Yes, in their manner of speaking. Most remarkable. Preferable at least. I fell from above the sky and landed beneath the edge of the world. It was a fall from Olympus. A crippled God, I looked for something that spoke of vision. An orb, or message from where I had been. At a loss I turned to something that claimed to point the way. Yet the nest was too tall, its fall too great. I was decapitated by sudden impact. When I awoke... I was blind. You see. It offered me comfort, counsel, rules and structure. A community. But I am crippled and cannot connect. Their smiles are too plastic. I see... snow. It snows. Always... the cold. And the birds, they swoop, they cackle, they nibble and they tear. My flesh is pock-marked by the teeth of experience... And then there is a crack that works its way upwards, through the middle. The middle. Do you see? Upwards. Always upwards. You see... into the snow... I saw the birds. They flocked and they dove. Circled... Always in circles... And I fell... The fall was far too great.
[ATALOSS aches with interest, he is connected to this experience, and it pains him to observe.]
HAT: And so I find myself at the edge of the world.
ATALOSS: the edge of the world.
HAT: And I find that the edge, is not the end I had imagined. And so...
ATALOSS: And so...
HAT: [(digs in his pocket and pulls out a reel of film)] and so I find myself, carrying something so precious... invaluable...
ATALOSS: But its weight...
HAT: Its weight is that of the world.
[For an extended period the light wavers infinitely slowly, a deep amber glow embraces the stage and PUPPET's door spreads, to encompass the world. The air carries an ambience of triumph and of mourning.]
ATALOSS: There is a quiet that comes before decision...
HAT: I am not Hercules.
[HAT delicately places the reel of film on the stage and casually wanders off stage. ATALOSS gets down from his perch examines the film without touching it. Embraces the audience with his eyes, it is an expression of non-sensual love.]