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Thursday, February 07, 2008

A new play

Pretty Tough
by Brendan Gall
White. A baby sings the highest and lowest audible notes simultaneously for one minute.

Lights fade down. The baby hovers next to an operating Rube Goldberg machine.
(in Basque) This perpetual-motion machine is calculating π.
Time.

The baby whistles. A wolf appears.
This is my pet wolf. (petting him) I’m the only one who can do this. (roughhousing with him) I rescued him from hunters so he’s completely loyal to me.
The wolf sits stage-right.

Time.

A crow lands on the baby’s shoulder.
This is my pet crow. I found it on the ground one day. I set its wing and nursed it back to health. Now it refuses to leave me.
The crow caws and flies to the wolf’s head.
Does anyone have someone they’d like me to murder?
Time.

An audience member points at another audience member, whom the baby kills. Fleeing. Mass panic.

Order restores.
(to the audience member who pointed) It’s lucky you know Basque. It’s a pretty tough language.
One million Grade 8 students enter. A disco-ball lowers. Alphaville’s “Forever Young” plays. The students pair off and slow-dance.

“Forever Young” ends. Everyone has their first kiss, falls in love, and exits.
I’m glad I got to see that.
Time.

The upstage curtain ignites and burns, revealing a blue whale swimming in an aquarium beyond. The water catches fire. The flames shine through the aquarium, filling the theatre.
He’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t surface. Blue whales can hold their breath a pretty long time.
Time.
Does anyone have any questions? I can speak any language.
The Basque-speaking audience member explains this. The baby fields questions in various languages. The answers are true. Tears. Laughter.

The machine dings and starts to spit ticker-tape.
Intermission.
House lights. A sustained recording of a rabbit screaming.
Intermission.
Rabbit screaming ends. Audience returns. The theatre is filled with ticker-tape. The water still burns. House lights out.
Here’s what happens when you die:
Darkness. A PowerPoint presentation plays across the aquarium.

Lights up. The baby reads out π from the ticker-tape.

The crow eats the wolf.

Inside the aquarium, the blue whale begins to thrash…

Time slows down.
Infinity.

(Pretty Tough was inspired by a stage direction in Sam Shepard’s “Buried Child.” Performance rights inquiries can be made to the playwright through Praxis Theatre.)

9 comments:

christine said...

and what was shepard's stage direction, pray tell??

Scott Walters said...

Ah, yes. Artaud's Spurt of Bloog resurrected!

mike said...

alright who wants to do this as a fringe byov? i know this guy who has an aquarium and the classical theatre project could hook us up with the 8th graders...

Ian Mackenzie said...

This piece cracks me up.

I feel bad for the wolf. And for the crow, too – I guess – which has to listen to the baby read pi for eternity (or until pi runs out – presumably it is whichever comes first).

Alison Broverman has suggested that puppets and pyrotechnics might be a good place to start. What do you think?

A Fringe Bring Your Own Venue though? Possibly. Especially if your venue is "the meta-verse."

But then there is that pesky matter of infinity.

Either way, I would pay good money to see a staging of this.

Alison said...

How much do you charge for a ticket to infinity?

mike said...

what sub-prime mortgages shaking credit ratings and uncertainty in energy markets, infinity is definitely worth a lot less than it used to be.

Greg said...

I agree with Christine. Let's have the stage direction.

I think it's too perfect as it is. Performance would spoil it.

mike said...

i was just kidding about staging it in case anyone thinks i'm off my rocker.

Anonymous said...

END OF ACT 1:

BRADLEY switches on the clippers. Lights start dimming. BRADLEY cuts DODGE'S hair while he sleeps. Lights dim slowly to black with the sound of clippers and rain.


START OF ACT 2:

DODGE still asleep on sofa. His hair is cut extremely short and in places the scalp is cut and bleeding.

(BG.)