Introduction: A ribbon dance between childhood sweet hearts, in a field, during the golden hour. They are bound or tied in a sense to one another by a long red ribbon. Using this, they turn each other, swing each other high into the air, pull each other close and share intimate moments. The dance is done in silence.
Overture: the setting sun, dance of the torch lighter and the flame fairies.
12 measure introduction, powerful vocals, horns, and drums.
The curtain lifts revealing an almost blindingly brilliant sun hanging from the sky; the sun is made up of dozens of flame fairies crouched in an enormous iron ring, each holding a blazing torch. This beastly ellipse sinks down slowly, beyond the horizon of a small town, composed of a few houses and a line of four grand trees that guard the forest.
As the globe dips past the horizon, sets of flame fairies leap and dance off, trailing red and golden fabrics behind them; tied to themselves and the sun, depicting the magnificence with which the sun makes it last stretching gesture each day.
In the final moments before dusk, as the last of the flame fairies are preparing to abandon the great orb, the Torch Lighter enters. He is a massive man, made even larger by his long coat and the stilts he walks on. (Using ariel rigs) he jumps and turns and dances grand and powerful gestures, lifting flame fairies into the air and then back down to the ground. Lifting some to light the hundreds of hanging candles in the sky; others to place their torches in the street lights; others to light up the houses’ fireplaces, and lanterns.
When night is made, and the fire is distributed, so is the sun fully sunk out of view. The stars flicker, small fires above, and the street lamps burn bright, some spot lit on the line of grand trees. The music quiets, and softly plays as the torch lighter leads the fairies down beyond the horizon following the sun.
Night brings a stillness. Distantly the lone howl of a freight train sounds. The thin crescent of an early moon slowly rises. As it’s light, thin as it may appear, lays down upon the earth below, night blooming flowers rise their heads up and open their face to the heavens.
Its delicate glow also finds its way into the upper rooms of the east facing houses of town; onto the faces of the younger girls of the village- rousing them gently from sleep and into a sort of waking dream. Five girls creep slowly on tip toes from their beds, from their rooms and down creaking steps and past tocking clocks. Walking carefully to keep their bed skirts from sweeping the ground.
Boy is also stirred from his sleep, by a less enchanted insomnia. He climbs out of his bedroom window and sits on the shorter roof, above the porch. He joins us (the audience) as an observer and watches as the evening events transpire.
The girls gather by the line of trees that border the forest. Grand things, stout and aged. Each tree is illuminated by a spot light. Each tree has some physical characteristic that would make it fairly easy to climb, if not in a graceful fashion as well. Each one, save the last. The first tree is wrapped with a spiral staircase of sturdy mushrooms, the second is draped with a woven mess of vines that form a ladder, the last tree is broad and tall with few to no branches anywhere close to the ground and with no features to grab hold of. A smooth skinned barrel chest beast.
In succession, some mysterious order, the girls climb the trees. One then a second prance up the mushroom spiral. The third girl approaches the tree but there is no room for her, some strange rule of a two girl limit, turned away from the first tree she scales the viney ladder. The fourth joins her there.
The fifth girl, the littlest, looks at the third tree with an almost fearful awe. She goes to the others but is turned away. She is forced to return to this monolith. It is almost cruel that she should have to climb this one- being the smallest, the tree being the biggest and most difficult to climb, further more that she should have to go it alone. It is only a game, but for a young child these things can be upsetting.
The other girls giggle between themselves. The littlest inspects the thing, stepping around it, with her hands on her hips cutely emphasizing inquisition. A notion comes to her mind. She stops in front of the grand tree, gestures reverence, and offers her hand. The tree hesitates for a moment but then lowers his first branch to meet her touch. How could he refuse her, asking in such a polite manner? The tree supports her through a number of pirouettes. She lies back in his long arm; he supports her by the mid of her back and carries her through the foliage to one of his other branches. He lays her down gently on the branch, which she takes into her arms and embraces lovingly. All other lights fade away showing only her holding the tree’s smooth bark. She stands, slowly, taking the supporting branch in hand again and walks along the long horizontal limb. She walks in the direction of the forest with a slow steady pace even to the thinning extent (that does not bend). She walks steadily on, right off and in that same latitude along the air into the forest and off the stage.
The lights return. The other girls stand around the base of the grand tree in dumb shock. Boy is on his feet staring. After some moments of silence one thinks to scream. Exit running towards the town (stage left).
Boy climbs down from the roof, his eyes on the woods. He walks slowly, creeping along, never disturbing the silence, trying to draw no attention towards himself. He edges forward cautiously. Hearing an approaching commotion he ducks down into the shadows to hide himself.
A procession led by a confident and unaffected man enters stage left. He is the father. By his side is the mother, his opposite, as she should be: worried, tearful, almost hysterical, mournful for certain.
The following crowd is an audience as much they are people trying to help, there for the occasion, the drama, the novelty, an event should they miss they would regret to the ends of their tiny lives.
The six other girls are present as well, holding on the arms and coat tails of the father, pleading with cries and desperate tugging that he should not go into those woods.
He is the image of confidence. He thinks nothing of their hysteria, he is certain this will prove a minor inconvenience, a simple matter that a man free from the distractions of theatrics could solve in a but a few moments. Other men from the town tie a rope to his waist as a precaution, he looks at it with a cock-eyed glance, but lets it there to appease their baseless fears. He goes forward with no hesitation, straight into the forest, off stage right.
The mob looks off in his direction, wide eyed and slanted curiosity. Suddenly the rope becomes tight and those holding it have to pull hard. They pull back the father, a man resembling nothing of the one who entered the woods save his body. He is insane, horror strewn upon his face, grief running through his pores, expressions of need, and sadness, and love, and sudden joy and bitterness. He eventually collapses into the arms of the mother who holds him close and grieves even more heavily over her loses.
The mob is startled by this. They move back to disperse, but a man steps forward who is sure to retrieve the lost child. He is an enormous man, the strongest man in town. Naturally tall, and built with arms like legs and legs like trees. He shows the town his strength by flexing his muscles, bending metal, and breaking chains. Everyone is very impressed and cheer him on as the rope is tied round his waist. Already the spirits are lightening despite the mournful mother who continues to cry for her lost child and lost husband.
The strong man enters the woods, walking off stage right. Again the crowd leans comically in his exited direction, wide-eyed vultures of entertainment. The rope becomes tight and the men pull the line back in. Attached to the end is a man who has let his body go to waste. His arms and legs are thin as poles and his torso is fat from too much butter and beer. One man from the crowd bursts out a bit of laughter, the others hush him and point to the sobbing mother.
The mob stirs again. They look at one another to find someone who would save the helpless child. No one steps forward. But hope enters stage left on a proud white horse. A fairy tale’s prince rides in, the loose women flock to him and bat their eyes and offer their hands and touch his legs. The men cheer that such a hero has entered, some are less thrilled and perhaps jealous at the attention that he is getting from the ladies. A rope is tied round his waist and he enters the forest. Only seconds later a mangy mule runs across stage with a foul smelling drunk flopping around on his back. Our once proud prince disappears back to where he has come from (stage left).
Many of the people in the crowd fall into laughter, especially the jealous men. Some of the flirtatious women even giggle a bit. Squeezing through the people comes another men dressed in the knight’s clothes. But his crown is made of paper, his clothes are rags, and his sword is a carved stick. He is the village idiot, a true ass, at little fault of his own. The cruelty of his peers: no one can contain their laughter, save the mother who continues to cry, now completely forgotten by her friends and neighbors. Men rush to tie a rope to him and the flirtatious women mock him mimicking their ways with the previous prince, now with him. The idiot’s glory, he is pleased with the attention. After collecting ridicule masked as kisses, that turn his foolish heart up over his head that he can barely walk, he stumbles his way into the woods. There is a long pause. People become bored waiting. After what seems an eternity out walks the archetype of man. Built, lean, handsome, tall, well dressed, confident but with grace and style. He walks straight past the crowd, takes the hand of the most beautiful of the six young girls, hoists her up and carries her off stage.
Envious and inspired, an average looking man from the crowd rushes forward. He ties the rope around his own waist and sprints into the forest like a mad man desperate for his prize. The rope becomes taught, barely giving the others time to take hold But in an instant it is limp again. They pull on it and begin hauling. Poor fool remembers nothing and only sees what he wants to. The men bear down and drag his dead body back to town.
Frustrated, bewildered, and driven by a need to accomplish something the men take up their axes and cut savagely away at the trees. Throwing ropes around them to pull them down.
Fade out. You hear wood splintering and the trees collapse.
Fade in, the mob has gone. The four trees lay on their sides. Boy creeps out from the shadows and makes his way to their forest’s edge. He looks about to make sure he is not seen, steps over the fallen giants, cautiously entering the enchanted woods.
It is with concerted effort that the cast projects and leads with considerable silence. The first “scene” will communicate this sentiment to the audience.
A dozen large panels with painted forests surround the boy and the audience. Driven like cattle in a shoot they walk for some enduring duration. A period long enough to escape novelty and the certain jittering and excitement of moving and participation as an audience. They will quiet and listen to their own breath and the shuffling of feet and jackets and occasional coughing and will watch their own feet on the dirt and the canopy of city trees above as they walk on. Looking ahead they see the boy walking, leading the meditation with his silent walking. Before the boy is the narrowing of the forest painted boards. The boards do not walk with the audience, they are given the illusion of passing through these “woods”. Behind them the boards narrow to an enclosure as they do in front of them. As they progress slowly forward, the front most boards open, revealing a new set of boards already closed, not letting the viewers see beyond their enclosure of fake forest. As they continue forward, the boards close in tighter behind them. What is beyond is the rear most boards that have disappeared running to the front of the procession to be the next narrowed opening. This prop-heavy Indian walk.
Upon arrival to the proper mood and the new stage, the boards open and slip between the audience isolating them from one another, giving them only a view of the stage and not one another. They may sit on chairs or the ground, but not together. Now they are alone, only with the Boy, who is nothing more than their consciousness at this moment.
He sits as well, tired from the long walk. He hangs his head, exhausted from the travel. We sit with him, waiting. Wind enters (a fairy dressed in easy clothes). She tickles his face and pulls on his scarf. He pulls his clothes tighter to himself and she dances off. Wind enters again, now two that scruff his hair and feathers his nostrils. He wipes his face and mats down his hair. Wind enters again, a huge man, a joke to call a fairy. He knocks him clear off his seat, then laughs silently skipping off on tip toes. In a flurry now, wind enters always from the same side of stage, dozens pulling and pushing and ruffling and manhandling the man child. He struggles and is dragged along, and resorts to holding the one tree on stage as he is lifted and pulled out like a flag on a pole. Then dropped. Wind enters again, 5 huge men. He holds out his hands for them to wait a moment, to which they abide. Taking in a deep breath then throwing himself into their arms they carry him about and turn him in beautiful ways. And wind enters, a beautiful girl who dances with him and is turned and lifted as he is, and in this way they dance together in the arms of wind, those strong men. When the dancing comes to close he is set down by a dried stream.
As a film, the audience is neglected from this scene. As a live production this scene is a film viewed on a screen. Boy follows a dried up stream bed down hills, along eroded banks, this miniature gorge, once deep, maybe wild. As he walks he is come over with a fear that he is being pursued by unseen wolves. The hairs on his neck stand and he shivers. He wears these feelings in his eyes and breath, and then his quickening pace. With distance comes change, and the stream bed shows some moisture, then a full on trickle that leads to a stream then a marsh. As the flow grows, so does his pace, as does his urgency, as does the manifestation of his pursuers. There is the marsh in the distance, and he, quickly approaching. He makes no hesitation, but skips across large lily pads, and through the tall cattails. The wolves are stayed by the edge of the marsh, but he does not look back. Only on to the house on fire that sits at top the nearest hill. At the gates of this place he finally slows to a stop.
On a filmed stage, Boy approaches the house, mansion really, which has no doors or windows on the first floor. He feels along til he finds an opening, hardly large enough to squeeze through. Behind walls or through cave narrows he squirms through, and stops to breathe heavily and close his eyes and open them again. Then squirm again, and try to trash about, and tear up, and nearly cry and scream muted by the silence of this Act. He can see through the walls into the burning house, glimpses of a weathered man amongst the flames, pacing back and forth. He is the depraved madman. Boy knows and fears him more than anything else, we are shown another moment, as he pleasured the naked and lifeless body of the dead girl as he was stoned by children wielding bricks. A circle of cars showing lights upon his long hair, tight jeans, and bare chest. No brick so much as distracted him from his devout conilingus. His face half hidden by the dead girl’s pelvis. Now through this hole in the wall Boy peers at the madman who paces back and forth with a spring in one step. Boy tries to squirm further, and looks on through other holes. This time not finding the villain. He brings his eye closer to gain a wider view of the room. The man enters frame again, from the furthest point in the room, dragging something in a bag, lumbering past. He seems to be passing to the next room, but turns to the far wall, at fearful last showing his madman face, to lock eyes with the Boy. He begins a very slow approach across this long hall to the hole in the wall. It is an enduring haunting, and Boy is trapped by fear, some paralysis, and pushing upon his chest, and the growing light of the fire until he is blinded as is the film.
He is in a safe room. His eyes are filled with tears, and his breath is much the same as it has been. But he is in the safety of a girl’s bedroom. He walks about her room, fidgeting with her things in a delicate way, never deliberate. He looks toward the ground and the ceiling, and through the small window of her door that keeps the burning house and madman and his horrors away. It is some time of this awkward school boy way, him soaking up the torture and sweetness and agonizing unfulfilled before he looks up to her. She is gazing down at him with loving eyes from her lofted bed, somehow years older than he even though she may be the same age or younger. He looks away, then again. She has held her eyes with his, and a smile that is right. And he is filled up, and they just keep the eyes together, and there is the brightness of the sun, upon the audience as well. Then it is gone, and the film is over, and Boy is alone again on the stage by the audience. In the distance, by the river there are lights and the shadows of people milling about.
At this point the audience is forgotten.
The sky is ominous, threatening to break open and pour on everyone below. Boy approaches the river. The lights are lanterns in the small boats that line the banks. The shadows are the farm girls and their brothers and fathers by the river. The girls wear thin summer dresses that show their supple and full forms. The heat of summer and the shadows of night permit legs, and other expanses of skin to show. The corn is full upon their stalk, the pods of peas are to burst, the zucchini is over grown. The girls are lit by the warm golden light of the boats, and what light peers through the rolling clouds. Their shoes and ribbons in their long hair.
They gather about to gaze up at the clouds and the colors that turn in the sky. Everyone stands about pointing and shouting in their muted voices at the sky. Everyone save the farm girl with the full chest and eyes that wander. Everyone save her and the Boy who has found her gaze. They slip away together, to just behind the tall corn. She sits now, suddenly seeming to care little about the Boy. He nuzzles his nose and lips and chin against her neck and shoulders and through her hair. His eyes roll back and the breaths he takes in are sweet poisons. She bites her lip and pulls him against her, and his hand against her crotch through her summer dress. He looks nervously toward her father and brother who are still looking up at the sky. He buries his face in her chest and forces his hand against her thigh, lifting her dress higher. He is an uncontrolled brute now, pushing her hands aside and groping at her body and pulling against it. She delights in his every ravaging touch. The savage! The savage! He throws up her skirt and dives under head first as a basket of peaches rolls out onto his face.
Everyone stands about pointing and shouting in their muted voices at the sky as it burst and pours down on them and they scatter back to their homes leaving Boy by the river to be drenched by the rains.
Boy takes his basket, what peaches remain, and a small boat. He sails out, lounging back eating a peach. There is much rain but he basks in the flow of the river and his own. He is given that peach and some moments after before his comfort turns, he is saved boredom at least and is suddenly plagued by cold . He pulls his clothes in tight but the rain soaks through and becomes bitter and biting, then turns to snow, then the river itself thickens to ice. His boat has become a wooden island and he is stranded and frozen in it. Struck by a necessary but perhaps foolhardy bravery he ventures out of his boat and onto the ice (plexi-glass, painted, with ariel rigs in a pool, or on a stage as an cut in and out impression of a river). He manages a few steps out on wary feet, that you could hardly blame him for, before plunging into the agonizing waters. Gasping for air and from the stabbing hands that pull down and jab his sides and chest (those dozens of swarming fairies in the waters beneath) he struggles back into the boat. He is frozen and dying now.
Wind enters stepping across the hands of the icy water fairies. She begins to brush against the boy, which bites and smites him more. He tries to push her away but she pesters him further. He turns around and looks her, there is pity in her face. He takes her hand and she moves him about, dancing about the boat and across the water and back into and through the water. This time, never stabbing him, but lifting him and turning him about. Wind enters again, the strong men and take him up and carry him high into the air, then dropping him again into the waters, then lifting him again, as high as the heavens. He glances at the stars so close he could reach out. Back again into the water. This time again into the air he takes hold of a candle and is lowered back into his boat.
He breaks the basket of peaches into kindling and starts a fire. He strips off his clothes and warms himself by the growing flames. The whole boat begins catching fire, but it is warm and he thinks nothing of it. He is a flame upon a river. Other boats appear, the wind pushing them along the water. They are filled with the audience, and the madman, and the people by the river. They are all set fire by the candles. We watch from a distance as they sail to one point in the horizon where the river meets the end of our view. From that point the giant iron ring rises again from the water, lifted up by the water, lit again by the torches brewed by the night sky and the firery boats.