Thursday, May 15, 2014

Amelia part 1.

Jesse S. Mitchell

part 1 of Amelia's monologue from the play "Canaanites"
from the book  Sea Snakes

Lowlight, a few fluorescent bulbs, at least one or two bluish-green and only on the far left side.  A slight ethereal glow.  Folding chairs and tables folded and stacked and leaned against the back stage wall like the inside of an unused convention hall.  One table set up in the middle of the stage amidst clutter.  On the table a young blonde woman wearing black framed glasses leans back, the speaker (Amelia).  She should be dressed in almost old-fashioned clothing, definitely not modern..  She sits up straight and swings her legs to the side of the table. And jumps down and stands in the middle of the stage looking toward the audience.

Amelia:  “I don’t think we have to discuss our location.  This isn’t a heaven or any other place and it certainly ain’t livin’.  But what does it matter, to be where no one knows you’re there or not to know where you are?  One leg in anonymity  and the other in total oblivion (she touches her legs, right and then left) and I’m leaning on this one (taps lightly her left leg) more heavily every day.  I feel like Hatshepsut looking back down on a revolving, revolting world, nothing but defaced statues, noses all knocked off, to show for twenty plus years of accomplishments.  Hatshepsut?  Don’t know the name?  Not surprising, anonymity and oblivion.  Anonymity and oblivion.  Let’s me try a little exercise, just for my own erudition, enjoyment, indulge me.  Let me ask you if you have ever heard of say, Rameses or Tutankhamen maybe?  Yeah?  A slave driving megalomaniac pyramid builder and a teenage boy who accomplished little but  inadvertently  killing Howard Carter and becoming the subject of a Steve Martin parody song.    Hmm.  How about Empress Maria Theresa?  Nothing?  How about Franz Ferdinand?  Yeah, well, he got himself shot…so.  If I ask about the Tudors, say, who comes to mind?  The murderous, heavily appetited  Bluff King Hal?  Or his much more efficient, level-headed daughter?  Sure, you know her name but I’ve made something of my point.  (pause)  Anonymity and oblivion.  But it’s all waste anyway, wasted time or whatever that means.  You take seconds from a minute but it doesn’t diminish the hour, take hours from the day but the years roll on, pile up behind you, stacks and waves of whole wasted time, they roll up on you and over you and carry you away, carry you under, drown you in the weight.  But it doesn’t matter if your brave, or strong, or pretty, or clever.  It all just passes.  They say the only thing that makes a difference is if you are rich but not really.  Everything still just passes.  And no one is ever anything without some sacrifice of some other aspect of life.  Rich only at the cost of love or pride or time, clever only at the cost of fun or pleasure or money.  Everything is up and down, crests and troughs.  Booms and busts.  Here come the waves to crash down upon us.  One should endeavor for a peaceful ocean when one is charting out their life, the calmest calmest ocean, a mirror reflection of the sky, bright blue and glassy and serene.  (pause) Shekinah.
I went to a séance once…just to see if they could hear me.  Try to get noticed. They never do.  I go all over the place.  All over the world. Séances, toll booths, the backs of ambulances, corporate sales meetings, dancing through the ethers, a wild tether to something other.  (pause) Not that I advocate such involvement in arcane practices of the occult.  And it does help to have something of some heft to say.  But everything so far has proved so pointless, heedless, reckless and unnecessary, the ways of life, drifting and coiling through…avoiding the rough patches, shedding some skin on the bits you do happen to rub against.  Madness.  Silence.  The deafening noise.  Serenity.  More silence.  Anonymity and oblivion. (pause)
I had a dream, there was darkness everywhere.  I was the color blue, a thin line of cerulean on a Wassily Kandinsky painting, hanging on an empty wall of a long empty hall of a dark deserted museum. And I was moving.   I went careening around the canvas, bending around smears of gold and blending in and out of crimson triangles and tangles, weaving up and down the black dotted spine.   The sound of my traffic over the picture was similar to voices, voices singing, instruments playing, folk music.   I would go whipping right up to the edges but suddenly I would turn and lurch back down the sides and shot into the center and start outward again.  Nothing was holding me back and I had both the speed and power to jump right over the side and spill like blue spray all over the empty white wall and go shooting out into freedom.  There was no boundary.  There was no sentry.  No fences and no obstructions.  I could have easily done this thing but I got the sense that I didn’t desire it.  (pause) The loneliness of the dream doesn’t surprise me.  The anamorphic nature of it is no shock.  But the apprehension of autonomy, the trepidation and lack of desire for bursting out, no passion whatsoever for freedom, I find that to be a most startling aspect.  I think about the dream often.  (pause)   Amelia holds her hands out in front of her, outstretched, flat and looks them over, turns them over.  Raises her eyebrows, shrugs. 

Still looking down at her hands.  Passivity of the soul is death, no matter how dynamic that repugnance to action remains or is.  Death.  It is death.  We are made to move.  We are made to be.  We are made to live.  You and me, we two together, all of us, all of it.  It is beautiful.  The way it all flows and branches off and then comes rocketing back, the wild streams of life, thought, imagination, action, visceral life, pretty sunny days, all of that, being human.  Like a piece of art.  We are made to be.  To live.  Living steam.  Liquid flowing.  An explorer.  An astronomer.  A thick book.  A secret.  Somebody’s secret.  A good story.  (pause)  We are all made of the same parts and not in too varying of degrees or proportions.  We are basically all alike.  Nature’s equivalent.  Covered over  with skin and propped up and framed by bones, filled out with tissue.  We are all equal parts water, water and something else, fire, heat, passion, but the most important part is the water, always the water, never forget about the water and the state of it…in most people the water is frozen, all iced up and sluggish.  These people are so cold inside and languid, afraid, slow. They say to themselves, if only the sun would come out, then it would melt all this ice, gently thaw me and then…and then maybe…but there is no sun coming.  At least no other sun coming that isn’t already here, the other part, the heat, the fire, the passion, that’s your sun, that’s the thawing that you are waiting on…right there.  You are the sunrise, stupid.  But then again, in some people all that water has turned to steam…and that is a whole other kettle of fish.  Be careful, babies, just be careful out there babies and try to be kind.  I don’t have all the answers.  Turns her hands over to look at her palms.
We all have this skin… the same skin really.
Drops her hands to her sides.   Walks back to the back wall of the stage and runs her fingers over the rows of folded chairs, picks one, stops on it, reaches down and grabs it hard and pulls it up and carries it with her back to the front part of the stage.  Sets the chair up facing the audience and sits in it.  Crosses her legs and sighs.

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