Stage: to be constructed and performed in the woods: a clearing for the audience and set, behind the set is a path that leads into the depths of the woods. The trees are tall but accessible for choir members to perch themselves. Lights cluster in each tree that the choir members occupy, as well as in trees beyond, shaping a path that leads into the depths. The stage consists of a garden (stage left) and a ballet school (stage right). The school has a curtain or opera cloth to create the illusion of an exterior while scenes are outdoors. When inside the school, the curtain will be raised or if possible the lighting will change so that the opera cloth is translucent revealing the interiors of the academy. The school walls are lined with mirrors and barres, photographs and newspaper clippings above the mirrors. There is a rear door to the studio that assumes entrance into Samuel Novak’s office. There is a piano on the stage left side of the studio, against the wall with a mirror above it. The garden is tidy and well grown in. There is a stump to a large cut tree in the foreground. There is a large old tree adjacent to the garden, (stage left). All the vegetation is manufactured (Not real). This adds to the artificial elements of the set. The sky is a large blue tarp. No part of the real forest should be visible to the audience.
Audio: a constant hum, the sounds of the suburban landscape: cars, air conditioners, construction, overhead planes, birds, and crickets; changing with the time of day but constantly at a noticeable volume unless noted in the text. Actors will be amplified by microphone, unless noted in the text, to add to the artificial mood of this theatre’s world.
Lighting: Through the tarp in the sky, create daylight. At night, there is a moon, and stars (Christmas lights). Path of lights in the trees into the depths of the forest.
(O) Theodine Opperman: sixty, but youthful. He is short with a belly, white or gray hair. The actor must be a dancer and pianist.
(L) Sasha: mid-forties. She is beautiful, shapely. The actress must have dancing abilities and an untrained yet well tuned singing voice.
(E) Elissa: 12-16 years old. The actress must be a brilliant dancer.
(V) Samuel Novak: Late forties, early fifties. He is tall, dark and handsome. The actor is an experienced dancer.
Perry: Thin, tall but young. 14-17 years old. Dancer.
Possum Mother: Puppet or costume.
Possum Father: Puppet or costume.
Possum Child 1: Puppet or child in costume.
Possum Child 2: Puppet or child in costume.
Possum Child 3: Puppet or child in costume.
Choir singers: at least a dozen singers.
Dancers: 7 others, three girls, four boys. 14-20 years old.
Sasha, a woman old enough to thought of as a woman and not mistaken for a girl, though not so old to be forgotten/overlooked by the hungry eyes of lustful or romantic men, kneels on a piece of cloth- that sleeve between her legs and the rich loam beneath. Though she’s kept her sundress and these two sturdy limbs cautiously clean, her hands fearlessly bury into the soil. She makes clumsy attempts, with the backs of her wrists, to pull the sweat stuck strands of tangled hair from her face. She occasionally stops working to massage her shoulder, which gives her chronic pain.
The sun casts long shadows haloed by an ever-deepening orange and gold. Light pours through her hair and the fabrics of her soft attire silhouetting a figure, again the hungry beast chooses careful words: “not to be overlooked.”
Theodine Opperman enters (stage right) carrying a suitcase in each hand, his jacket over the bend of his left arm, a hat covering his head. He immediately notices the gardening woman, and almost as quickly moves his eyes and body that he looks away, up at the windows of the ballet school instead (a search for anything but her). He gazes up, turning slowly in circles (subtle playfulness) at the blue tarp sky. There is a breeze. He closes his eyes and breaths deep; that fragrance fills up to his smile. Here is some posturing, but born from and known in sincerity.
She takes no notice, shows no smile, not even a glance to acknowledge his presence. She is completely engaged in her own and will not be distracted by his little dance.
Theodine (facing the audience) sets down his two cases, carefully lays his jackets on top of one, removes his hat that he holds it in one hand, and performs a cracking of his back. He twists so transparently that he can gaze at her over left and right shoulders, arching backwards, audibly grunting and sighing to call attention towards his self.
Again she does not respond, but his theatrics do let him gaze, as I have said, and the gazing sends a reeling through him that he tries to hold in, from his toes to his tongue where it finally bursts out.
Sasha collects her tools into a pile, stands and quickly walks off stage (stage left). She exits so abruptly that Theodine hadn’t fully noticed until she was gone. He returns his hat to his head and sits down upon a stump in front of the garden facing the ballet school. He watches the sky and beckons a cat to him- he fidgets, a bit impatient. Sasha returns only a minute or two later, almost as abruptly as she had left, catching him a little off guard. He stands starring for an uncomfortable amount of time.
O: (all of a sudden, blurting out:) You’re back so quickly! (As if he had known where she was going or what she was doing).
L: (gives a curious glance-odd) I went to freshen up.
O: Freshen up? But you are returning to the soil, and really there is nothing quite as fresh as soil.
L: (clarifying) I had to use the restroom.
O: Oh! Oh, I’m sorry. I mean- (remembers that he had forgotten to take off his hat, quickly does so) well, the soil really is one of my favorite smells. I’m actually waiting for my friend Sam, Mr. Novak. He is the instructor; he owns the ballet school. We are very old friends from the academy… I was standing here thinking of something clever to say. Something with context, content, some observation of how the light is cast or caught. I wouldn’t want to come over and just say any old thing, something that was awkward. It’s very important to engage people in some common understanding of the beautiful things. Then I thought to myself that simply standing here and not saying anything was accomplishing just what I was trying to avoid in the first place, being awkward.
L: (nods, unsure of what to do, a little bewildered by him.)
O: You’re gardening?
L: Yes, I’m finished for today, going home.
O: Oh, yes, yes, of course. I’m sorry if I’m delaying you any. It was nice meeting you (bowing slightly).
L: Nice meeting you. (Puts her tools in her bicycle-basket, then rides off stage left).
V: (is entering stage left, walking with a cane, bows deeply to Sasha as she passes, follows her with his eyes well after she has left the stage, then turns to Theodine.) Theo! My friend! (Quickens his pace to embrace Theo.)
O: Sam. (Quieter voice, but a strong hug.)
V: Theo, so? (Nudges and motions to where Sasha had exited).
O: (embarrassed) Oh that was nothing.
V: What’s her name?
O: (realizing) I didn’t ask.
V: (change of expression) Well, she’s out here most days in the garden, you’ll probably see her again.
V: How long are you in town Theo?
O: I’m not sure. (Meek nature) I’m sort of just wandering about.
V: Is some one looking after your place in NY?
O: Well… I sold it.
V: What? That was the Farm! You built that place!
O: Yeah (shrugging).
V: That place was you! I mean it was pure magic!
O: I know. I just didn’t feel it anymore.
V: That place was the hub.
O: Not anymore. (In a dramatic voice:) The glory days are over! (Laughing at his voice and choice of words)… It became a pale reflection of what was- just a shell. I had some kids come over- well not kids, but younger folk- some artists I had met at a gallery. I thought their work was pretty nice- reminded me of Clara’s sculptures. I wanted them to see her work and-
V: and the Farm.
O: (nods) Well they didn’t seem to care at all. They were polite and said I had a “cool” house, but they didn’t really get it.
V: Did you take them through the walls, or into the soul projection room?
O: No, but I mean-
V: Well Theo!
O: I didn’t want to share that with people who wouldn’t appreciate it! Anyway it’s no fun showing off the place by myself.
V: Without Clara?
O: Well I built it for her anyhow.
O: I’m over her. I’m over that. I was deluded then. Everything was love and destiny, no self-preservation. I was out of my mind.
V: Yes you were.
O: But I created a ton. I built the main house, threw those parties, wrote a dozen ballets.
V: At what cost? You haven’t written music in years.
O: She scarred me. I want to write music in a solid state of mind. I guess that’s why I’m here. I have to make things for myself. I’m tired of writing these dramatic romantic tragedies.
V: People love dramas (leads them upstairs).
O: I can’t do it anymore. It makes me feel ill… People don’t care about dance anyhow.
V: People don’t care about art. We’re the last of them Theo. It’s all irony now, nothing is sincere, it’s flashy or sarcastic or both. It’s too risky to put their hearts out there, they have to make a joke of everything genuine or what scares them- it is the same with love. People are afraid of real beauty.
O: God I feel old. (At top of the stairs)
V: You are.
O: Don’t make me more depressed.
V: (Taking off coats, putting down bags) Hey, Elissa is going to be here any minute. She’ll make you feel better. She’s young, but hell she’s a great dancer! She’s a cutie too.
O: (Theo cocks a judging glance).
V: Oh hell Theo. Not like that, I could be her grandfather. She’s just so little and she’s got the bitchy attitude already- all stand-offish, high and mighty, cold, maybe too cold. She could use a little romance; loosen her up. I wish you still had the Farm. I’d send her up there- show her the projection room.
O: I’m not imposing too much am I Sam?
V: Don’t even think such a thing! You’re the oldest friend I have. I just want you to be happy already.
O: We’ll see.
V: You did catch me off guard though. Sarafina has her family in this weekend, so you’ll have to stay in the studio until Monday or Tuesday. I have a cot up there. I’ll bring a bed tomorrow.
O: The cot is fine Sam. Thank you.
V: Also, the well is nearly out, so use the bottled water to drink and try to be sparing with flushing the toilet.
O: The studio is on a well?
V: Welcome to the country. The suburbs now I guess.
E: (Elissa enters stage left.)
V: (looking out window to street) Here she comes.
Theo peers out too. Elissa comes up the stairs to Theo and Sam standing and waiting, silent, two awkward old men.
V: Good afternoon Elissa.
E: Hi Mr. Novak.
V: Elissa, this is Senior Opperman, my dearest friend; we have been close since long before you were even born.
O: Theodine. Pleased to meet you (extending a hand).
E: Hi (short. Walks away to prepare for class).
V: (To Theo) a little cold.
V: Theo, come sit here and you can observe. (Motions to a chair next to the piano.)
O: (Eyes the piano with a certain wary look, sits conscious of the instrument next to him).
V: (takes off the rest of his restricting clothes so that he is in informal dance attire.)
E: (is and has been stretching)
V: (goes to the record player) Elissa, let’s run it from the second movement.
E: Where Perry does the lifts?
V: Yes. I’ll dance his part. We’ll fake the lifts for now. (To Theo:) Theo, this is a piece we are rehearsing for the Saint Petersburg International Ballet Competition.
O: Oh. That’s quite the endeavor. You have to be very good to even consider or be considered taking part in that contest.
V: She is Theo. A real Anna Pavlova.
E: (here Elissa’s youth is revealed, released by her ego. She smiles and lets out a silent giggle that she is being admired.)
V: Fourth position, efface!
E: (and in a moment that child falls away and she stands up straight, hands above her head, fingers delicately bent, with perfect posture and strong form- her face shows deep concentration- she stands motionless.)
V: (turns to the record player and carefully lays the needle on the record. There is much time of her standing still. The music begins, an introduction.) One and two and three and four and.
They begin to dance, him faking the lifts and calling out to her how to move as they dance. She is technically perfect but very stiff, lacking expression.
V: (Interrupts the dance) No, no, no (walking over to the record player, he sets it back) Again.
They dance; again he stops them. He stops the record.
V: Elissa, remember what I told you?
E: (out of breath but trying to maintain composure- frustrated but receptive to his lecturing. She nods as he instructs.)
V: Flow! You have no, no… (Searching for words:) You’re stiff! You are strong, but too rough. Grace! Flow!
O: (sits looking at other things, so that he is invisible or seen as someone concerned with other things.)
V: Theo, I’m sorry.
O: Oh no, it’s fine, don’t mind me. (He laugh’s to release tension).
V: Elissa, again. (He puts on the music.)
They dance. Again he stops them, music continues. He is about to speak out of frustration, maybe yell, but he swallows his words and reconsiders- you can see it on his face.
E: (panting, equally frustrated.)
V: (stops the music, speaking slowly and clearly) Okay Elissa. I’m not explaining myself very well. Lets try it again. I’ll do the lifts.
O: (gives a concerned look).
V: (puts the music back to the beginning. This time he dances more expressively and does the lifts. It is more beautiful, at least on his end. But he turns on his leg wrong and his knee buckles. He stumbles and nearly drops Elissa, but gets her partly to her feet. He falls halfway to the ground.)
O: (jumps up to help).
E: (stumbles back).
V: (holding his knee, speaking as calmly as he can through the pain.) Theo, I’m okay. Elissa, I’m sorry, are you alright?
O: (helps Sam up.)
V: It’s not too bad. I’ll get myself some ice; I think I left a brace somewhere in the back.
O: Sam, I can get it-
V: No, no, it’s a jungle back there. I’m really okay. Just bring me my cane. Elissa, are you sure that you’re okay?
E: (nods again) yes, Mr. Novak.
V: Just stretch and cool down then.
O: (brings Sam his cane)
E: (returns to the barre)
V: (exits through the rear door)
O: (begins wandering around the studio, looking at old photographs and newspaper clippings hung on the walls. He smiles, chuckles and looks with fond memories or new amusement at the different articles displayed. He looks at himself in the mirror and at Elissa’s reflection as well. He meanders over to the piano, almost as if sneaking over. He tentatively fingers a few keys.)
E: (continues stretching, in her own, unaware and unconcerned with Theo’s finicky behavior.)
The hum of the streets, the sounds of the suburbs, quiets.
O: (<un-amplified> begins humming to himself. He repeats the notes he has vocalized on the keys of the piano. He lays some chords beneath the melody. Then forms a rolling accompaniment that has tempo and rhythm like the music played on the phonograph. The song that he plays has much more emotion than the vinyl did: his is heart wrenching, loving, romantic and full as if to burst.)
E: (suddenly possessed she begins to dance. The same dance as before but now filled
with love and passion- flow.)
O: (At first unaware of Elissa’s dancing, he eventually looks up and into the mirror above the piano and sees her in the reflection. Delight hurries through him with such fervor!)
V: (and in that instant Sam returns, loud and clumsy carrying a massive cot, a pile of blankets and a pillow, stumbling on his bum knee, nearly falling over as he gets these things through the rear door.)
The hum of the suburbs returns as Sam enters<Theo’s amplification returns>.
O: (stops playing the instant Sam appears. He turns to face his friend.)
E: (falls from pose into non-Chelan nothings as quickly as the music ends.)
V: Elissa, that’s all for today. We’ll work more tomorrow when Perry is here.
E: (Collects her things, puts on a jacket).
V: Theo, Sarafina is expecting me home early today to go out with the in-laws. I’d invite you but, in-laws. I’ll let her know you’ll be staying with us, but she’s not good with sudden plans, they stress her out for no reason at all, no matter how small of a thing it is, or how nice, like someone she likes coming and visiting- that person being you. So, like I said, you’ll have to make due here for a day or two; just until her family leaves and she processes your coming.
O: Really, its fine, its great, thanks for putting me up here.
V: Thank you Elissa.
E: (manners) thank you Mr. Novak.
V: Have a good night.
E: (Exits, down stairs and off stage left)
V: Also, I have some errands tomorrow- I have to drive into town and pick up the costumes for the performance. Elissa needs new shoes- well there’s a lot to do to prepare for this competition.
O: Of course.
V: There’s a nice bakery a few blocks down Lexington, good for coffee, sandwiches and their scones are delicious.
O: Thank you Sam. I might work out some stuff on the piano and catch up on some reading.
V: Oh! Good Theo, composing a new masterpiece?
O: No, no, just sharpening my chops. I’m not ready to compose. I doubt that I could even
play that thing (motioning towards the piano); it’s been a long time.
V: Okay. Play away, the apartments above and below are vacant right now, so you won’t be keeping anyone up. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. Goodnight friend (gives a deep embrace.)
O: Thanks again Sam.
V: (exits studio, then stage left.)
O: (Watches through the window until Sam is gone.)
The sounds evolve subtly to those of early evening, fewer birds, no commotion from carpenters or construction. In the distance a train sounds it’s horn. The last lights of the sun disappear as moon, stars, studio and streetlights replace it.
Theo remains by the window as the world outside changes. As night sets in he sets up the cot, lays out his blanket and pillow. He changes into his bedclothes, takes off his shoes, and gets into bed with a book. He reads a page or two but is restless. <Un-amplified> He begins humming to himself the melody again, still holding the book as if he could focus on reading. <The suburban hum fades> He works the melody out further and this stirs him from his bed. Filled with some excitement- youth, he sings the tune and prances over to the piano conducting an imaginary orchestra with one finger. He is working and developing the song. He plays and sings arrangements strange and beautiful. His singing and playing becomes quite strong, almost aggressive- emotional discharge. It grows to such a point that he has to stop. He is silent.
From silence comes organic <un-amplified> harmonic voices from beyond the studio, garden, clouds or stars. They grow from the silence, voices to accompany his own song. They grow in volume and in numbers of singers.
Theodine dances- through out the studio, down the stairs and into the garden- possessed.
The singing comes down a little and natural sounds join in- crickets, frogs, the train, etc…
Theodine spies a small possum, in the light of a street lamp, standing on his hind legs trying to paw a moth. Theo crouches down and watches with child-like awe. More young possum emerge and play. Theo is giddy, delighted. The mother and father possums then appear; mother spots Theo, then the rest. Theo stands, looking at first serious, grave. This strikes fear in the possums and after a moment frozen still they scurry back together, but not so far that they can’t fulfill their curiosity of this man.
The voices grow louder again and a deep and almost frightening smile comes over Theo’s face. He hunches over and stands up straight. He turns his head menacingly from side to side then returns to dancing, this time a comic villain who mimics his victim for his own amusement. Only Theo will harm no one, he is merely swept by the night hour. As he dances he picks vegetables. The possum peer out captured with intrigue. After Theo has collected a monstrous bounty, he lays the food out into piles for each possum and for himself. He plops down to his rear and topples to his back, then sits back up and begins feasting. He eats and smiles to himself, very pleased with his actions. After gorging himself he falls asleep under twinkling stars. The singing wanes again, and the possums cautiously approach; once assuming it safe they begin feasting as well.
Early morning, the first rays of light reveal the scene: Theo lays asleep in the garden, as he was the night before. Turning and mumbling, drunken happily asleep and full, scraps of food all around him. The possums are asleep around him as well, but before the dawn can claim her coming they scuttle away to find safer quarters. The morning grows deep into afternoon.
L: (enters stage left, walking, singing a morning song. Theo is obscured from her vision by or a shrub or line of taller vegetables. She puts down her tools, lays down her protective cloth- methodically. She begins to weed- only a row or two over from sleeping Theodine.)
O: (As he sleeps he becomes aware of her, her voice and perhaps even distant warmth from her body. He begins snuggling with himself, taking in deep breaths of her perfume and acting rather giddy- mind you, all the while very much asleep and thusly with some moderation, some subtly ACTOR!)
L: (while continuing to weed and sing Sasha starts coming across traces of Theodine’s evening: first the end of a partially eaten carrot. She looks at it, sighs, then throws it over the bed and hits Theo on the head. She resumes weeding.)
O: (Wakes up startled, but remains lying there, at first recollecting as to where he is and how he has gotten here, then looking over in her voice’s direction with his eyes, hardly moving his head.)
L: (comes across more and more bits of food. She stops singing.) Damn Rabbits! (Frustrated).
O: (impulsively) Oh it wasn’t the rabbits, (correctively.)
L: (Letting out a yelp, she jumps up, startled, then with a queer look, pausing, she peers over the tall foliage to find Theo laying in his bed-clothes upon the soil and stones.) You scared the hell out of me! … Are you alright? (She hurries around the bed to where he lays).
O: Oh yes, yes I’m quite well.
L: (taking a second look) you sure?
O: (Speaks with a feverish enthusiasm) This is a lovely garden. I hope you don’t mind that I took certain liberties, exercising gleaning rites, as in ritual, rites of the homeless and animals, as I am by definition: homeless (realizing) and an animal at that!
L: You slept here?
O: Oh no! Well, yes. But only last night- I have a bed in the ballet school- a cot. But I thought, no, no I was drawn to take a stroll last night- the moon was brilliant! Did you see it?
L: It was full.
O: Just about, maybe two days shy. You know how to tell if its waxing or waning?
L: (nods her head “yes”)
O: (going on with a teaching voice) If you can hold the hollow with your left hand it’s waxing and with the right hand waning. Like this (demonstrating with his hands, one creating a crescent moon, the other grabbing.)
L: (Stares at him, unsure but humored.)
O: (through his raised hands he takes real notice of her, and he quiets. He lowers his hands and continues gazing at her.)
L: (she looks away.)
O: (he continues to stare with adoration).
L: (she looks up again, finding and meeting eyes with him for a moment then shying away again.)
O: (he closes his eyes and reels around with sudden chest bursting bliss.)
L: (looks up at his sudden outburst.)
O: Oh Lord! What is that that inspires so deeply? So profoundly? This incredible power? What is that that brings to boil? That broods and fills to over flow? That is unbound, wild, uncontrolled? Oh love! Delightful beauty! Oh, I love you!
L: (for a moment fearful, suspicious, startled, on guard.)
O: Oh, no, no, no. Please understand. I’m not odd as you think; ok, maybe a little strange, but- let me explain. It’s only that I can fall in love so easily- (As if to another:) If feared- clamor to contain- events spoil. (Returning to her:) It’s not that I’m in love with you- it’s that you have filled me up with love. It is the same fullness, whelmed heart as when a flock of geese fly up in early spring. Thunder! It makes me terribly joyful- almost unbearable. But then so easy just to fall asleep, breath falling into occasional rhythm: 1 to 1, 3 against 4, 2, 4, 9, 8, 5, 4, 7. It has been so long since I have felt this way- well last night I did (drifts into silent thought) last night (returning to her:) but it has been so long since I have felt that from a woman- well there was Elissa, but one can hardly call her a woman- she is very young, but beautiful. Oh no, how that sounds! If you saw her dance you would- you must see her dance, you’d understand. I know you would- I can see so, within you. I know people, I can see them- you are quite wonderful. (Looks deeply, reels around:) Oh Lord! (Embarrassed) I’m sorry. Please excuse me, I am not- last night was very much. Do not think me crazy- well I may be that, but I am not dangerous. (Getting angry with himself:) It’s only that I get filled up and I don’t know what to do with it! (Kneels down and begins digging furiously in the dirt. He finds the top of a stone, and continues him mad excavating around this dense beast. He tears it from the ground with almost inhuman ability- it is massive, almost his match, such that he needs all his strength to lift it and he is strong. He carries it a few feet and sets it down.)
L: (Looks upon Theodine with amazement and growing awe.)
O: (he calms down- grounded) I am sorry. Last night was strange. I am really not someone to fear. I am a sad old man, with a hyperactive child sometimes bursting out.
L: I’m not afraid. I’m Sasha.
O: (realizing) Oh, I am embarrassed. I’m Theodine Opperman… (Silence, he is awkward; looks about) You have a beautiful garden. It is very thoughtful how you’ve laid out the beds- the thick straw mulching, and companion planting. A highly manicured garden but I like the elements of natural systems.
L: Thank you. (Holds her shoulder, due to some pain.)
O: (notices). I have a garden back home. No, well, I had one, but I am moved… I had a dream once that all plants strove to become trees. A master gardener had this forest behind his house of zucchini trees and massively stemmed tomatoes. The dream seemed to make perfect sense, even after I had awoken. Forests seem to grow even in the worst conditions, hard clay, sandy soil, drought like conditions. Oh but I am talking on and on again. I must seem like a lunatic. I really don’t always talk this much. Tell me about you- do you mind if I jump straight into heavy handed questions? One’s I may not know answers to either? What gives you joy? Why do you live? I used to answer: art, dance, and music or love I suppose, but my question is why life at all?
L: I think you may be asking the wrong questions… There is gardening and sitting in the park during my lunch hour, watching people and the birds and squirrels. I’m not sure I understand what you want to know.
O: Sure you do.
L: (shakes her head “no”)… (silence)
O: …I’m sorry I’ve been talking so much- assuming too much. I don’t mean to put you off; it is only that I have these intuitions about people. I have a feeling, and I know depth to a person maybe too many steps from where they are, I want to jump there, neglecting where you are at this moment or what hurdles you have made for yourself from being in that same place. I know you as you are open, but you stand before me closed. At most letting the rising tide (pointing at self) wet your toes. That rhymed!
L: What am I as I am open? (politely challenging, testing his validity).
O: Well- no I shouldn’t. I don’t do that anymore.
L: Please, I’d like to hear what you think.
O: You’ll become angry and hate me for what I say.
L: Is that what you see?
O: …no. I don’t know if I can describe you properly using words… your joy is light and child borne. You sing and dance goofy and awkward, kicking feet so you knees almost touch your head. You are passionate and loving but when closed you are isolated and lonesome and there is little joy in your life- a shadow of what you contain. You immerse yourself in shadows, smothering yourself in flavors that can not fill you. But because you are afraid of opening yourself you only experience these shadows- you are malnourished. (Embarrassed and scared to say the next:) you need touch, embrace- we all do. But you are screaming for it: the pain in your shoulders. It tears me apart that you hide yourself (almost in tears).
L: (wears a serious contemplative expression.)
V: (enters stage left. Sees Theo and Sasha.)
L: (notices Sam enter and motions to Theo that his friend has arrived.)
V: Hey Theo!
O: Morning Sam. (quiet)
V: Morning? It’s nearly evening Theo! Jesus your still in your P.J.’s!
O: I had a late night, then a long conversation with Sasha here. Or a long speech I should say.
V: Samuel Novak. Sasha was it?
O: Oh, I’m sorry Sam, Sasha. Sam is my friend from the ballet school.
V: (about Sasha) We’ve seen each other come and go for years.
L: It’s nice to finally be introduced.
L: You are an instructor?
V: Yes the instructor, owner, maid.
O: I think I felt a drop of rain.
V: That would be nice; the well is dried out.
L: The plants could really use a good soaking.
O: We should go inside.
V: There’s hardly a cloud in the sky Theo, though I do need to set up for class.
O: Right, I haven’t cleaned up my cot yet.
V: That’ll only take a minute. (To Sasha:) Have you lived in town for many years?
L: My whole life.
V: Really? You’d think we’d have mutual friends. I’ve only ever seen you in the garden.
L: Maybe we do. I used to live in this part of town years ago, before you opened your studio. I kept the garden when I moved across town.
V: How many years ago?
L: I’m pretty bad with time, uh… about six, no eight-
V: Well I opened the studio almost ten years ago.
L: Yes, well at least ten then. I think I left a year before you came here.
V: Do you know John Welling?
L: Welling… I’m not very good with names.
V: He’s an artist. Lived on the top floor of this building.
L: Had a beard?
V: Sometimes. He was a good-looking guy, low self-esteem, but real nice person.
L: Maybe. I think so.
V: He painted the backdrop to our first production, held it at the Calvary Church up on 7. Hey we have a performance in early October. We are rehearsing it now, as well as a piece for the St. Petersburg International Ballet Competition. Oh, I wish you could see that one, Elissa dances beautifully- still a few kinks to work out but-
L: I think Theodine was telling me about her. I would like to see her dance.
V: Well you would have to come to the studio to see. We are here most evenings. You are always welcome.
A few drops of rain begin to fall.
O: See, it’s raining. (To Sasha:) it was nice talking Sasha. I hope we can again soon. (Taking Sam’s arm to go.)
V: Theo, your covered in dirt! (Not cooperating much).
O: I was gardening (pushing).
V: Pleased to meet you, be seeing you.
L: Goodbye Samuel. Goodbye Theodine (waving slightly and laughing to herself.)
The rain starts coming down harder and harder. Sasha collects her things quickly and runs off stage left- Theo and Sam make it into the ballet school.
The orange glow of the setting sun colors tones through a downpour of wind and rain. Theodine and Sam are inside the studio looking out.
V: It’s really coming down! I wish I could be out there running around- I’d probably catch a cold though. I’m in my dance clothes anyhow.
O: (Stares blankly out the window in deep thought.)
V: Hey Theo. This is the first rain in almost four months. I would have called you up to come visit earlier had I known you’d bring all this weather.
V: So what’s going on with Sasha? (nudging)
O: (distantly) huh? Oh it’s nothing.
V: Now I’m sure you brought this rain, gloominess and all.
O: I’m sorry Sam. I’m just tired.
V: Did something happen with her? She seemed to be of chipper spirits- did she turn you down or something? Theo, you can’t pick up women wearing your pajamas, especially not a woman as pretty as her. They’re used to a little more effort than that.
O: I was telling her about the beautiful things, but I don’t think I did a very good job explaining-
V: You were! You were coming on to her!
V: Yes you were. No matter how you put it, that’s what it was. Trust me, I know. We’re the same Theo, you want to get in as deep as possible: in your art and your music, in her mind… in her body.
V: I’m not sure she can handle all that. Most people can’t.
O: This was different.
V: It’s always different.
O: Last night I was immersed- it was just as well a dream but I was awake- when I finally drifted off I was drunk from bliss and beauty. I woke in arms equally gentle: her soft voice. That power- life itself! Still half asleep I lay there wrapped so snug as if my mother’s breast or some comfort in the arms of some fearsome bear- strength to crush all breath from my lungs but soft and safe in her power- soft furry stomach.
V: (darts a look)… you’re a little old for this drama. Don’t get me wrong, you deserve a little time with a woman, hell you deserve a hundred years in bed with one, or two at that. But your plenty old, you’ve had plenty experience to know you can’t live in a fantasy. That’s why we make art, so we can live for a moment what is not real- you start expecting that from your daily life and you’ll lose your mind.
O: (quietly) I don’t feel old.
V: Theo (bringing him close) we are old, but your heart is very young, and I love you for it, but I’m tired of seeing you let yourself get hurt or setting yourself up. Leave that for the opera. Now get yourself dressed, my class will arrive shortly.
O: (goes to the back room with his clothes to change.)
V: (gets the room ready for class: folds up the cot, prepares the music, sweeps up, etc…)
L: (enters back stage left, running across the stage through the rain, covering her head as best she can to keep from getting even further soaked. She knocks on the door.)
V: (goes to the window to see who is knocking, curious that anyone would knock. Upon seeing Sasha he skips, due to his knee, down the steps and opens the door.) Hurry, hurry, come in. The door is always open when I am here. Get out of the rain.
L: I’m sorry to impose. My bicycle has a flat tire, and I think I’d like to wait out the storm somewhere dry before walking home.
V: Of course, of course. (Opens his mouth to say something, nothing comes-)
Ballet students come running in from stage left and right and charge through the door, past the two, all greeting Sam: “Hi, Mr. Novak!”
V: Good evening. (To Sasha:) It was Sasha, right? (Aloof and charming.)
V: (pointing to himself.) Sam, if you had forgotten.
L: I hadn’t.
Another student runs up between them, bumping Sam.
Student: Hi Mr. Novak.
V: Oof! (Regaining composure and laughing “these crazy kids!”) Class is about to begin.
L: (nods and smiles.)
V: You are welcome to some dry clothes- we have a dryer, you can put your wet clothes
in. Oh, and you can have that sneak peak at the piece we are working on.
L: Thank you.
They walk up the stairs, Sam gestures for Sasha to go first, and he takes subtle glances at her figure, framed in wet clothing. The students are in warm ups, all stretching in different ways, rambunxious, disorderly.
O: (comes out from the back room, changed. Immediately spots Sasha.)
L: (smiles and gives a slight wave to Theodine.)
O: (tries to retreat to the back again. Gives a double take, then manages to compose himself. Turning towards her with bashful and lowered eyes:) Hello.
V: Sasha had a flat tire, came to her new friends for shelter and dry clothing. (to Sasha:) come I’ll show you.
They walk past Theo to the back room.
V: (nudges Theo as he passes.)
O: (stands in the middle of the room bewildered, at best watching the dancers goofing off.)
From the back Sasha bursts out in laughter.
O: (looks back towards the room. But there is nothing to see.)
V: (returns, smiling wide:) She’s getting dressed.
V: What? She came here; you should be excited! Class! (Calling everyone’s attention.) We have two visitors today. Elissa, you’ve met Theo. The rest of you, this is Mr. Theodine Opperman. He is one of the great composers of our time.
Class: Hello Mr. Opperman.
O: (humbly) Hello.
V: Our second guest is in the back changing. You’ll all enjoy her outfit. It is what I had available in ladies clothing. (To Theo:) you’ll find particular interest I’m sure.
O: (communicating nervous, and suspicious sentiments to Sam with a strong look and body language.)
V: (to class) Well, let’s begin rehearsing: third movement, Elissa’s dance with the shadows- passing into the other. Positions everyone! (Starts the record player.)
O: (sits again by the piano.)
Music begins, 4 or 16 bar introduction.
L: (scurries in, in an extravagant off white dress, laden with ribbons, and a bonnet in hand.)
The class bursts into giggles and laughter and praise.
V: (takes the record off the player, walks to Sasha, quieting the class, takes the bonnet from her hand and puts it on her head.) Class, here is the “daughter of the Country Gentleman, the Night Blooming Princess” from Theo’s “Greener Pastures”.
The class explodes with laughter. Some even begin singing themes from that production as others dance certain movements- all in a clownish manner.
O: (buries his head in embarrassment.)
L: (blushing, she takes a joking bow then runs and sits next to Theo, embarrassed, trying to refocus, to watch the students rather than having the student watch her.)
V: Ok. Ok. Class quiet down. I’m sorry Theo. Ok class, focus, third movement; positions! (Sets the record back).
Theo and Sasha exchange eyes. Hers is humored and kind, his is apologetic and mortified.
The dance begins: with Elissa in the middle of the room gazing into a frame of a mirror; on the other side stands her dopple-ganger mimicking her subtle gaze at “herself”. Along the sides of the classroom, the other students stand about, slouching, crouched down, leaning against the barre, quietly goofing off. Notice the contrast between the two performing and those waiting to begin on the sides of the imaginary stage within the ballet studio.
As cues in the music come, other dancers suddenly come to attention, something close to perfect pose. In this we are gifted the viewing of the ballet class, this tremendous contrast between grace and gracelessness in even the same dancer. These dancers represent the shadows. The shadows dance with Elissa and her other.
She dances touched by fear but there is romance too and enchantment. She faces herself again in the mirror, as if now to pass through.
The storm outside grows wild, with lightning and thunder. Power goes out, cutting out the lights and the music. Pitch black. A few girls screech silliness. Everyone scrambles about, with exception to Theodine and Sasha, who remain seated.
V: Ok, ok. The storm has cut the power. I’ll go get some flashlights and candles.
Everyone stay calm. (Gathers dozens of candles, lights them and places them around the room. Gives one to Theodine and one to Sasha.) No worries everyone- we have a piano, Theo can play for us.
O: (walks to the mirror, candle in hand under-lighting his face.)
<Outside sounds silence- including the thunder> Everyone is silent, everyone is slowed or still.
O: (stares at himself in the mirror. There is enchantment and fear on his face as he stares deeply into himself. He lifts his hand to put through the mirror, as if he would pass through.)
L: (walks slowly up behind Theo, some distance away from him, looking at his reflection. She is curious and concerned by him.)
O: (Sasha’s appearance distracts his internal focus. He looks to her reflection, then sits at the piano. He plays slow, soft and deliberate chords.)
The dancers stand back along the wall, waiting, posed and orderly. Sam dances with Elissa what they had practiced the day before, perfect, with such expression. After finishing they take hands and walk back, joining the larger group.
Sasha comes to center to dance solo: basic beautiful movements to very minimal accompaniment. She finishes bowed down. Theo stops playing and looks down. It is silent for a moment, then a sudden burst of music: dozens of powerful voices, strong orchestration. Theo tears from his bench and takes Sasha’s hand as the mirrors shift, or the fabrics fall revealing the forest in the studio mirrors’ reflections. The other dancers are released from their restraints and begin running circles and leaping down from the studio to the world outside. The illusion of a second floor and of an invisible wall are broken. Dancers enter and exit, a furry of movements and miniature stories. The girls leap and are caught and carried as if they are flying across the newly fashioned stream created by the pouring rain. Some are carried as if fainting or dead with their heads laid back, in the arms of two boys. They are set back on their feet and able to spring forward again.
Theo and Sasha enter again, walking close- peaceful, sensual, quiet, utterly tender- sounds of silence- a slow almost un-touching dance with understanding gestures and movements dependent on one another- no posturing a soloist could perform, nothing to show off an individual dancer.
An old monster of a tree falls between them, off center, stage left. Theo bears down and hoists it up, walking up under it with such unreal strength. He rests it onto his back and drags it to the middle of the stage. He tears off some of its branches making a nest like bed on top of the oak. The other dancers exit, none showing their backs, backing out facing the lovers. Taking Sasha’s hand, Theo and she walk up and take rest, holding one another tenderly.
Fade out. Music out.
Scene Six: “sobering”
Fade in, morning.<suburban sounds> The school’s wall has returned, the mirrors reflect only the interiors of the studio. The rain has stopped and the sun shines upon Theodine and Sasha who lay asleep, holding one another. Theodine wakes first, turns to Sasha and kisses her softly on eyes and forehead. She smiles and shrugs the affection down deep. He smiles too and lets her rest her head upon his chest as he dozes off again. She awakens soon there after- she does not make an expression of surprise as to her surroundings or circumstance, she remembers that well as a wondrous and beautiful thing. Her expression is more indefinable- her own sorting out of what she is feeling. It is morning and she is sobered. She sits up, pulls her knees in to her chest and contemplates. Everything and everyone moves slowly and deliberately. She sits still, thinking until anyone watching would grow as uncomfortable as she appears to be. Theo wakes and looks at Sasha- at first admiring her beauty with an affectionate smile, then recognizing that she is less than enchanted.
O: Good morning.
L: Good morning. (She pains a smile in response.)
O: Are you alright? (And then as if to an audience:) a question I could clearly see the answer to.
They sit in silence again- both looking at the ground before them.
O: (again to an audience:) we are both looking at the ground, so absorbed that we can not see what is beyond. The sun! … But even that is only a shadow.
L: Last night was really special. It was as if a fairy tale.
O: Dreams manifest reality.
L: Sure… It was really nice and meant a lot to me. But it was special- it was like a dream.
O: And now we are awake?
L: Yes, well-
L: Nothing happened that I regret. It was utterly beautiful- but that can not be everyday.
O: No, no, I suppose not.
L: Something magical happened last night that we shared, and it was perfect- I will cherish that forever.
O: why can’t it be everyday?
L: Because of moments like these. We are “awake” now. That’s fine. Even if I could experience something like that again, it might lose it potency, it might seem contrived, or it would distract me, get me in trouble.
O: Rain drenching, sun pouring, you reveal the entire emotion, a flock of geese, a goat standing on a mules back, reflections in the water. It is a gift and a grace to emanate such ease and love. I’d wish every moment could be so simply honest delicate, easy, and full, but would we all go insane?
L: I can’t very well wake up each morning in a garden wearing the wedding dress of the Night Blooming Princess with a stranger!
O: Am I a stranger?
L: Yes! We don’t know each other at all, almost not at all.
O: I told you- I can see you.
L: Well I don’t know you. (Getting frustrated) and I doubt you know me half as well as you think you do.
O: (softly) maybe you’re right. (With more emphasis:) But I believe that I really do know you and you know me.
L: I don’t.
O: You do. I think you do.
L: I don’t! Anyhow, the best that would come of these dreamy evenings is an expectation to have them and then when I don’t experience them I would be unfulfilled by simple life.
O: Why should every moment not be a dream? That’s how I’d like to live.
L: But look at you, you are unhappy now. You are lost. That is why you are wandering homeless. It is you who tries to satisfy your hunger with a tasting of flavors.
O: (quietly) …you do know me.
L: Theo I have to go home. Don’t be upset. I would never have expected such a wonderful evening, and that you were such a wonderful and unique man.
O: (blurting out:) I love you!
L: Theo (that’s ridiculous). Theo (nurturing). Theo (beauty). Theo (silly boy)…
Theo sits unresponsive. Sasha spends some time with him. Realizing that he needs space she kisses his forehead goodbye and exits stage left.
It is mid-morning. Theo sits mildly restless. After a minute or so he quiets himself. He remains seated and still for 7 actual minutes. During this time the lights fade, very slowly, almost unnoticeable. <background sounds fade out> Stage lights fade out leaving the close to total darkness. The school collapses, the fabrics of the sky and horizon drop to the ground and are pulled back: revealing the woods behind and a path leading into them. Theodine stands and walks down that path. The choir starts in again and as Theo passes each tree that they stand in, lights in their tree fades in revealing their perch. He walks deep into the forest, lighting his way as he goes until he disappears from sight.