Monday, June 27, 2011

Douglas Messerli "Barnyard Philosophers" (on Lee Breuer's Summa Dramatica and Porco Morto)



BARNYARD PHILOSOPHERS
by Douglas Messerli

Lee Breuer (text and direction) Pataphysics Penyeach: Summa Dramatica and Porco Morto / performed as part of the Under the Radar festival, New York, Mabou Mines / the performances I saw were on a matinee on Sunday, January 18, 2009

After the weak performances I had witnessed one night earlier in a Broadway theater, I was delighted to witness actor Ruth Maleczech's marvelous acting as Sri Moo Parahamsa, the first bovine to lecture at the Gifford lectures of William James in Scotland. As if she herself had four stomachs, each with a different voice attached, Maleczech divertingly argues, in pure pataphysical nonsense, that the post-performance animal should take acting lessons, and proceeds in a heady mix of scientific jargon and an oddly logical argument based on the existence of the "triune brain," that all animals should "Know Thyself":

As an academic, a mammal, and a cow, I know I have a soul
And since I do not have a neocortex, it must not reside
therein
It's my thesis—and I'll go to the mat with a lizard on this
point—that psyche lives in the limbus
Reality is not real, it is virtual
Each mind has its game and virtualities are subject each to their own laws
The neocortex to the laws of reason, the reptilian spinal stem adheres
to chaos theory
and as for the hedonic—limbic laws are, in the vulgate vernacular, showbiz
"Know Thyself" says the Delphic oracle
Well, to "know itself" the post-performance animal should take an acting lesson

The school, of course, is her own: The Institute for the Science of the Soul, a fully accredited acting conservatory ranked in the top ten by US News and World Report!

A zany satire on various acting methods ("A Strasburg, a Meisner and an Adler may differ in approach, But Methodists generally agree that the spiritual script breaks into actions and objectives") "Summa Dramatica" ends with a recovering animation, Marge Simpson, testifying on screen to the value of Sri Moo Parahamsa's Institute, loosing an hilarious send up of phrases such as "truth is beauty." This delicious monologue (or, if we count Marge as a "true" character, we must describe it as a dialogue) ends with the new barnyard post-performance conclusion that "The Greeks have been in denial for 3,000 years / The Truth is not beautiful."

Poor Porco, the wonderful puppet of Breuer's loony imagination, has just committed suicide, and in a valedictory ode from the grave admits that he could no longer stand living, obsessed as he had become with the great Grey Lady, The New York Times. Although he attended the famed bovine-run "Institute" for a while, he left it doomed by the "Sick Fiction Syndrome," destined to end its days as a replay of a subplot to The Lion King.

Breuer's satire here at times seems so broad-reaching that it does not always hit its mark, but when Breuer's language does hit home, it takes us all aback, as we are shamed by our easy acceptance of mediocre journalism as a "true" presentation of life. Recalling his feelings upon first meeting The Grey Lady, Porco proclaims:

What did I feel, Grey lady I felt vivid!
O the torture, the spins, the needles, the pins. The creative dilemmas...
What music of my heart should underscore what angle of your face?
What did I feel Grey Lady? I felt "life-like"
The Times was a beautiful vagina that in my hubris I engorged
with every cunilingual wag of my tongue
Your vibrations were histronic!
There was drama in the air—tragedy—and it was generational
The New York Times was going through menopause
....

Later:

I am a New York Times creation, American un-emancipated
I am a tabloid's love slave.

How hilarious, accordingly, to have read a few days lady, in the Grey Lady herself, a review expressing the following:

So there's this pig, see, and he lives The New York Times. After a romantic affair with the Gray Lady, they commit suicide together with a "Diamond Sutra dagger," but not before the pig, played by a puppet, offers a few sweet nothings to a stack of newspapers.

...If you're trying to figure out what is going on here in "Porco Morto," ...you're not the only one. ...It stars animal puppets and features a lot of bad puns, pretentious jargon ("normative soulfulness"?), some jokey video and barely coherent mockery of commercialism and this news organization.

Lucky Porco's no longer around to engage in conversation with his former love. Breuer couldn't have written a sillier response. As Mac Wellman once admitted, the surreal events of his plays are generally based on news articles; "you couldn't make them up!"

I was happy to verbally admit, upon Sri Moo Parahamsa's urging: "I pledge allegiance to the hype."


Los Angeles, February 15, 2009
Reprinted from Green Integer Blog (February 2009).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lee Breuer PORCO MORTO

To read Lee Breuer's play Porco Morto, please clink on the link below:

http://greeninteger.com/pdfs/Porco_Morto_6-1-08.pdf

James Sherry "The Poet's Theater of Fiona Templeton: An Eniornmental View" (on Fiona's Templeton's You, the City)

The link below connects with our posting of James Sherry's essay on Fiona Templeton's play, You the City, "The Poet's Theater of Fiona Templeton: An Enviornmental View"

http://greeninteger.com/pdfs/Sherry_You_the_City.pdf

Friday, June 24, 2011

Douglas Messerli "Celebration of Suppression" (on George Cram Cook's and Susan Glaspell's Suppressed Desires)


CELEBRATION OF SUPPRESSION
by Douglas Messerli

George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell Suppressed Desires / Provincetown Playhouse, July 15, 1915

George Cram Cook's and Susan Glaspell's satire on Freudian analysis was first produced in Provincetown in July of 1915, as the very second play performed by the company. There is some question whether Cook and Glaspell arrived in Provincetown with the play in hand, or whether, naive as they were about theater, they presumed that, since they themselves were to be the major actors, they could simply ad lib the work. What that might mean for the character of Mabel, played in Provincetown by Lucy Huffaker, is not clear. But perhaps, since she was a close friend of Glaspell's, she knew the subject intimately.

Certainly the issues which the play satirized were well known throughout Greenwich Village, where psychoanalyst A. A. Brill had introduced Freud's and Jung's theories, and numerous essays had been written and published, particularly Max Eastman's two-part article in June and July in Everybody's Magazine. Theater historian Jeff Kennedy argues that the playwright couple had obviously read Eastman's piece—which gives further credence to the idea that they were writing the play at the very time of the production—because of its reference to a Freudian case in which a woman had repressed feelings for her brother-in-law as well as Eastman mentioning a quote from A. A. Brill about a woman who dreamt she was in a street with a flock of chickens.

Some critics argue that the performance occurred before Glaspell actually wrote down most of the play's best lines, but the couple would have had to be brilliantly clever performers to ad lib some of the most hilarious of the psychoanalysts' interpretations, namely that the command Mabel hears, "Step hen," actually calls up her brother's-in-law's first name, Stephen, and that the whole image of a hen derives from her sister-in-law's first name, Henrietta. And the play, although at times no more than a one-line joke about psychoanalysis, is overall far more sophisticated than its structure might suggest.

Henrietta may be laughed at for her complete immersion in and belief of Freud's and Jung's theories, but she is also presented as an intelligent, strong-willed, and free-wheeling woman, able—even with great pain—to give up her husband if he truly feels walled-in by their relationship. What she cannot endure is that her sister might also be in love with him and all too willing to run off with the man for whom the psychiatrist has convinced her she is repressing her love.

This short play is a long ways from almost any other work of its day in presenting a woman who is able to speak intelligently on psychology and even write layman essays on the subject. Although Henrietta is not trained as a psychologist, she nearly is as convincing in her interpretations of her sister's dream as the psychiatrist; and she is most perceptive in observing her own husband's disenchantment with his life, part of which involves her compulsion to awaken him several times each night, demanding to hear his dreams. The situation reminds me of the incidents in Marianne Hauser's novel, Dark Dominion, a work which did not appear until 1947!

Even if upon discovering that those around her have been suppressing desires that exclude her-- Henrietta changes her entire viewpoint of the psychoanalytic world too quickly--the play still reveals that she is open-minded about life, and if, at play's end, both she had Stephen suggest that Mabel should suppress her desires, the irony of their statement is that they are not at all celebrating suppression. For is it is clear that the couple at the heart of the play will continue being quite forthright about their likes and dislikes.

If Suppressed Desires is not a great satire, seeming at times to be more a skit than a one-act play, it is an intelligent skit, witty and, in some ways, far ahead of its time.

Los Angeles, June 24, 2011

George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell SUPPRESSED DESIRES



SUPPRESSED DESIRES
A Freudian Comedy

By George Cram Cook and Susan Glaspell

"Suppressed Desires" was originally produced by the Provincetown Players, New York City on July 15, 1915

Original Cast:

Henrietta Brewster... Susan Glaspell
Stephen Brewster... George Cram Cook
Mabel... Mary Pyne


SUPPRESSED DESIRES

SCENE I

The stage represents a studio, used as living and dining room in an upper story, Washington Square South. Through an immense north window in the back watt appear tree tops and the upper part of the Washington Arch. Beyond it you look up Fifth Avenue. There are rugs, bookcases, a divan. Near the window is a big table, loaded at one end with serious-looking books and austere scientific periodicals. At the other end are architects drawings, blue prints, dividing compasses, square, ruler, etc. There is a door in each side wall. Near the one to the spectator's right stands a costumer with hats and coats, masculine and feminine. There is a breakfast table set for three, but only two seated at it—namely Henrietta and Stephen Brewster. As the curtains withdraw Stew pushes back his coffee cup and sits dejected.



HENRIETTA. It isn't the coffee, Steve dear. There's nothing the matter with the coffee. There's something the matter with you.
STEVE (doggedly). There may be something the matter with my stomach.
HENRIETTA (scornfully). Your stomach! The trouble is not with your stomach but in your subconscious mind.
STEVE. Subconscious piffle!
[Takes morning paper and tries to read.
HENRIETTA. Steve, you never used to be so disagreeable. You certainly have got some sort of a complex. You're all inhibited. You're no longer open to new ideas. You won't listen to a word about psychoanalysis.
STEVE. A word! I've listened to volumes!
HENRIETTA. You've ceased to be creative in architecture—your work isn't going well. You're not sleeping well—
STEVE. How can I sleep, Henrietta, when you're always waking me up in the night to find out what I'm dreaming?
HENRIETTA. But dreams are so important, Steve. If you'd tell yours to Dr. Russell he'll find out exactly what's wrong with you.
STEVE. There's nothing wrong with me.
HENRIETTA. You don't even talk as well as you used to.
STEVE. Talk? I can't say a thing without you looking at me in that dark fashion you have when you're on the trail of a complex.
HENRIETTA. This very irritability indicates that you're suffering from some suppressed desire.
STEVE. I'm suffering from a suppressed desire for a little peace.
HENRIETTA. Dr. Russell is doing simply wonderful things with nervous cases. Won't you go to him, Steve?
STEVE (damming down his newspaper). No Henrietta, I won't!
HENRIETTA. But, Stephen—!
STEVE. Tst! I hear Mabel coming. Let's not be at each other's throats the first day of her visit.
[He takes out cigarettes. Enter Mabel from door left, the side opposite Steve, so that he is facing her. She is wearing a rather fussy negligee and breakfast cap in contrast to Henrietta, who wears "radical" clothes. Mabel is what is called plump.
MABEL, Good morning.
HENRIETTA. Oh, here you are, little sister.
STEVE. Good morning, Mabel.
[Mabel nods to him and turns, her face lighting up, to Henrietta.
HENRIETTA (giving Mabel a hug as she leans against her). It's so good to have you here. I was going to let you sleep, thinking you'd be tired after the long trip. Sit down. There'll be fresh toast in a minute and (rising from her chair) will you have—
MABEL. Oh, I ought to have told you, Henrietta. Don't get anything for me. I'm not eating any breakfast.
HENRIETTA (at first in men surprise). Not eating breakfast?
[She sits down, then leans toward Mabel and scrutinizes her.
STEVE (half to himself). The psychoanalytical look!
HENRIETTA. Mabel, why are you not eating breakfast?
MABEL (a little startled). Why, no particular reason. I just don't care much for breakfast, and they say it keeps down—that is, it's a good thing to go without it.
HENRIETTA. Don't you sleep well? Did you sleep well last night?
MABEL. Oh, yes, I sleep all right. Yes, I slept fine last night, only (laughing) I did have the funniest dream!
STEVE. S—h! S—t!
HENRIETTA (moving closer). And what did you dream, Mabel?
STEVE. Look-a-here, Mabel, I fed it's my duty to put you on. Don't tell Henrietta your dreams. If you do she'll find out that you have an underground desire to kill your father and marry your mother—
HENRIETTA. Don't be absurd, Stephen Brewster. (Sweetly to Mabel) What was your dream, dear?
MABEL (laughing). Well, I dreamed I was a hen.
HENRIETTA. A hen?
MABEL. Yes; and I was pushing along through a crowd as fast as I could, but being a hen I couldn't walk very fast—it was like having a tight skirt, you know; and there was some sort of creature in a blue cap—you know how mixed up dreams are—and it kept shouting after me and saying, "Step, Hen! Step, Hen!" until I got all excited and just couldn't move at all.
HENRIETTA (resting chin in palm and peering). You say you became much excited?
MABLE (laughing). Oh, yes; I was in a terrible state.
HENRIETTA (leaning back, murmurs). This is significant.
STEVE. She dreams she's a hen. She is told to step lively. She becomes violently agitated. What can it mean?
HENRIETTA (turning impatiently from him): Mabel, do you know anything about psychoanalysis?
MABEL (feebly). Oh—not much. No—I—(brightening) It's something about the war, isn't it?
STEVE. Not that kind of war.
MABEL (abashed). I thought it might be the name of a new explosive.
STEVE. It is.
MABEL (apologetically to Henrietta, who is frowning). You see, Henrietta, I—we do not live in touch with intellectual things, as you do. Bob being a dentist—somehow—our friends—
STEVE (softly). Oh to be a dentist!
[Goes to window and stands looking out.
HENRIETTA. Don't you ever see anything more of that editorial writer—what was his name?
MABEL. Lyman Eggleston?
HENRIETTA. Yes, Eggleston. He was in touch with things. Don't you see him?
MABEL. Yes, I see him once in a while. Bob doesn't like him very well.
HENRIETTA. Your husband does not like Lyman Eggleston? (Mysteriously) Mabel, are you perfectly happy with your husband?
STEVE (sharply). Oh, come now, Henrietta—that's going a little strong!
HENRIETTA. Are you perfectly happy with him, Mabel?
[Steve goes to work-table.
MABEL. Why—yes—I guess so. Why—of course I am.
HENRIETTA. Are you happy? Or do you only think you are? Or do you only think you ought to be?
MABEL. Why, Henrietta, I don't know what you mean!
STEVE (seizes stack of books and magazines and dumps them on the breakfast table). This is what she means, Mabel. Psychoanalysis. My work-table groans with it. Books by Freud, the new Messiah; books by Jung, the new St. Paul; the Psycho-analytical Review—back numbers two-fifty per.
MABEL. But what's it all about?
STEVE. All about your sub-un-non-conscious mind and de¬sires you know not of. They may be doing you a great deal of harm. You may go crazy with them. Oh, yes! People are doing it right and left. Your dreaming you're a hen—
[Shakes his head darkly.
HENRIETTA. Any fool can ridicule anything.
MABEL (hastily, to avert a quarrel). But what do you say it is, Henrietta?
STEVE (looking at his watch). Oh, if Henrietta's going to start that!
[He goes to his work-table, and during Henrietta's next speech settles himself and sharpens a lead pencil.
HENRIETTA. It's like this, Mabel, You want something. You think you can't have it. You think it's wrong. So you try to think you don't want it. Your mind protects you—avoids pain—by refusing to think the forbidden thing. But it's there just the same. It stays there shut up in your unconscious mind, and it festers.
STEVE. Sort of an ingrowing mental toenail.
HENRIETTA. Precisely. The forbidden impulse is there full of energy which has dimply got to do something. It breaks into your consciousness in disguise, masks itself in dreams, makes all sorts of trouble. In extreme cases it drives you insane.
MABEL (with a gesture of horror). Oh!
HENRIETTA (reassuringly). But psychoanalysis has found out how to save us from that. It brings into consciousness the suppressed desire that was making all the trouble. Psychoanalysis is simply the latest scientific method of preventing and curing insanity.
STEVE (from his table). It is also the latest scientific method of separating families.
HENRIETTA (mildly). Families that ought to be separated.
STEVE. The Dwights, for instance. You must have met them, Mabel, when you were here before. Helen was living, apparently, in peace and happiness with good old Joe. Well—she went to this psychoanalyzer—she was "psyched", and biff!—bang!—home she comes with an unsuppressed desire to leave her husband.
[He starts work, drawing lines on a drawing board with a T-square.
MABEL. How terrible! Yes, I remember Helen Dwight. But—but did she have such a desire?
STEVE, first she'd known of it.
MABEL. And she left him?
HENRIETTA (coolly). Yes, she did.
MABEL. Wasn't he good to her?
HENRIETTA. Why yes, good enough.
MABEL. Wasn't he kind to her!
HENRIETTA. Oh, yes—kind to her.
MABEL. And she left her good kind husband—!
HENRIETTA. Oh, Mabel! 'Left her good, kind husband!' How naive—forgive me, dear, but how bourgeois you are! She came to know herself. And she had the cour¬age!
MABEL. I may be very naive and—bourgeois—but I don't see the good of a new science that breaks up homes.
[Steve claps hands, applauding.
STEVE. In enlightening Mabel, we mustn't neglect to men¬tion the case of Art Holden's private secretary, Mary Snow, who has just been informed of her suppressed desire for her employer.
MABEL. Why, I think it is terrible, Henrietta! It would be better if we didn't know such things about ourselves.
HENRIETTA, No, Mabel, that is the old way.
MABEL. But—but her employer? Is he married?
STEVE (grunts). Wife and four children.
MABEL. Well, then, what good does it do the girl to be told she has a desire for him? There's nothing that can be done about it.
HENRIETTA. Old institutions will have to be reshaped so that something can be done in such cases. It happens, Mabel, that this suppressed desire was on the point of landing Mary Snow in the insane asylum. Are you so tight-minded that you'd rather have her in the insane asylum than break the conventions?
MABEL. But—but have people always had these awful suppressed desires?
HENRIETTA. Always.
STEVE. But they've just been discovered.
HENRIETTA. The harm they do has just been discovered. And free, sane people must face the fact that they have to be dealt with.
MABEL (stoutly). I don't believe they have them in Chicago.
HENRIETTA (business of giving Mabel up). People "have them" wherever the living libido—the center of the soul's energy—is in conflict with petrified moral codes. That means everywhere in civilization. Psychoanalysis—
STEVE. Good God! I've got the roof in the cellar!
HENRIETTA. The roof in the cellar!
STEVE (holding plan at arm's length). That's what psychoanalysis does!
HENRIETTA. That's what psychoanalysis could un-do. Is it any wonder I'm concerned about Steve? He dreamed the other night that the walls of his room melted away and he found himself alone in a forest. Don't you see how significant it is for an architect to have walls dip away from him? It symbolizes his loss of grip in his work. There's some suppressed desire—
STEVE (hurling his twined plan viciously to the floor). Suppressed hell!
HENRIETTA. You speak more truly than you know. It is through suppressions that hells are formed in us.
MABEL (looking at Steve, who is tearing his hair). Don't you think it would be a good thing, Henrietta, if we went somewhere else? (They rise and begin to pick up the dishes. Mabel drops a plate which breaks. Henrietta draws up short and looks at her—the psychoanalytic look) I'm sorry Henrietta. One of the Spode plates, too. (Surprised and resentful as Henrietta continues to peer at her) Don't take it so to heart, Henrietta.
HENRIETTA. I can't help taking it to heart.
MABEL. I'll get you another. (Pause. More sharply as Henrietta does not answer) I said I'll get you another plate, Henrietta.
HENRIETTA. It's not the plate.
MABEL. For heaven's sake, what is it then?
HENRIETTA. It's the significant little false movement that made you drop it.
MABEL. Well, I suppose everyone makes a false movement once in a while.
HENRIETTA. Yes, Mabel, but these false movements all mean something.
MABEL (about to cry). I don't think that's very nice! It was just because I happened to think of that Mabel Snow you were talking about—
HENRIETTA. Mabel Snow!
MABEL. Snow—Snow—well, what was her name, then?
HENRIETTA. Her name is Mary. You substituted your own name for hers.
MABEL. Well, Mary Snow, then; Mary Snow. I never heard her name but once. I don't see anything to make such a fuss about.
HENRIETTA (gently). Mabel dear—mistakes like that in names—
MABEL (desperately). They don't mean something, too, do they?
HENRIETTA (gently). I am sorry, dear, but they do.
MABEL. But I am always doing that!
HENRIETTA (after a start of horror). My poor little sister, tell me all about it.
MABEL. About what?
HENRIETTA. About your not being happy. About your longing for another sort of life.
MABEL. But I don't.
HENRIETTA. Ah, I understand these things, dear. You feel Bob is limiting you to a life which you do not feel free—
MABEL. Henrietta! When did I ever say such a thing?
HENRIETTA. You said you are not in touch with things intellectual. You showed your feeling that it is Bob's profession—that has engendered a resentment which has colored your whole life with him.
MABEL. Why—Henrietta!
HENRIETTA. Don't be afraid of me, little sister. There's nothing can shock me or turn me from you. I am not like that. I wanted you to come for this visit because I had a feeling that you needed more from life than you were getting. No one of these things I have seen would excite my suspicion. It's the combination. You don't eat breakfast; you make false moves; you substitute your own name for the name of another whose love is misdirected. You're nervous; you look queer; in your eyes there's a frightened look that is most unlike you. And this dream. A hen—come with me this afternoon to Dr. Russell! Your whole life may be at stake, Mabel.
MABEL (gasping). Henrietta, I—you—you always were the smartest in the family, and all that, but—this is terrible! I don't think we ought to think such things, and (brightening) Why, I'll tell you why I dreamed I was a hen. It was because last night, telling about that time in Chicago, you said I was as mad as a wet hen.
HENRIETTA (superior). Did you dream you were a wet hen?
MABEL (forced to admit it). No.
HENRIETTA. No. You dreamed you were a dry hen. And why, being a hen, were you urged to step?
MABEL. Maybe it's because when I am getting on a street car it always irritates me to have them call "Step lively."
HENRIETTA. No, Mabel, that is only a child's view of it—if you will forgive me. You see merely the elements used in the dream. You do not see into the dream; you do not see its meaning. This dream of the hen—
STEVE. Hen—hen—wet hen—dry hen—mad hen! (Jumps up in a rage) Let me out of this!
HENRIETTA (hastily picking up dishes, speaks soothingly). Just a minute, dear, and we'll have things so you can work in quiet. Mabel and I are going to sit in my room.
[She goes end with both hands full of dishes.
STEVE (seizing hen and coat from the costumer). I'm going to be psychoanalyzed. I'm going now! I'm going straight to that infallible doctor of hers—that priest of this new religion. If he's got honesty enough to tell Henrietta there's nothing the matter with my unconscious mind, perhaps I can be let alone about it, and then I will be all right. (From the door in a low voice) Don't tell Henrietta I'm going. It might take weeks, and I couldn't stand all the talk.
[Exit desperately. Enter Henrietta.
HENRIETTA. Where's Steve? Gone? (With hopeless ges¬ture) You see how impatient he is—how unlike himself! I tell you, Mabel, I am nearly distracted about Steve.
MABEL. I think he's a little distracted, too.
HENRIETTA. Well, if he's gone—you might as well stay here. I have a committee meeting at the book-shop, and will have to leave you to yourself for an hour or two. (As she puts her hat on, her eye, lighting up almost carnivorously, falls on an enormous volume on the floor beside the work table. The book has been half hidden from the audience by the waste-basket. She picks it up and carries it around the table toward Mabel) Here, dear, is one of the simplest statements of psychoanalysis. You just read this and then we can talk more intelligently. (Mabel takes volume and staggers back under its weight to chair rear center. Henrietta goes to outer door, stops and asks abruptly) How old is Lyman Eggleston?
MABLE (promptly). He isn't forty yet. Why, what made you ask that, Henrietta?
[As she turns her head to look at Henrietta her hands move toward the upper corners of the book balanced on her knees.
HENRIETTA. Oh, nothing. Au revoir. (Exit. Mabel stares at the ceiling. The book slides to the floor. She starts; looks at the book, then at the broken plate on the table) The plate! The book! (She lifts her eyes, leans forward elbow on knee, chin on knuckles and plaintively queries) Am I unhappy?

CURTAIN



SCENE II

The stage is set as in Scene I, except that the breakfast table has been removed or set back against the watt. During the first few minutes the dusk of a winter afternoon deepens. Out of the darkness spring rows of double street-lights almost meeting in the distance. Henrietta is disclosed at the psychoanalytical end of Steve's work-table. Surrounded by open books and periodicals she is writing. Steve enters briskly.
STEVE. What are you doing, my dear?
HENRIETTA. My paper for the Liberal Club.
STEVE. Your paper on—?
HENRIETTA. On a subject which does not have your sympa¬thy.
STEVE. Oh, I'm not sure I'm wholly out of sympathy with psychoanalysis, Henrietta. You worked it so hard. I couldn't even take a bath without its meaning something.
HENRIETTA (loftily). I talked it because I knew you needed it.
STEVE. You haven't said much about it these last two weeks. Uh—your faith in it hasn't weakened any?
HENRIETTA. Weakened? It's grown stronger with each new thing I've come to know. And Mabel. She is with Dr. Russell now. Dr. Russell is wonderful. From what Mabel tells me I believe his analysis is going to prove that I was right. Today I discovered a remarkable confirma¬tion of my theory in the hen-dream.
STEVE. What is your theory?
HENRIETTA. Well, you know about Lyman Eggleston. I've wondered about him. I've never seen him, but I know he's less bourgeois than Mabel's other friends—more intellectual—and (significantly) she doesn't see much of him because Bob doesn't like him.
STEVE. But what's the confirmation?
HENRIETTA. Today I noticed the first syllable of his name.
STEVE. Ly?
HENRIETTA. No—egg. (Patiently) Mabel dreamed she was a hen. (Steve laughs) You wouldn't laugh if you knew how important names are in interpreting dreams. Freud is full of just such cases in which a whole hidden complex is revealed by a single significant syllable—like this egg.
STEVE. Doesn't the traditional relation of hen and egg sug¬gest rather a maternal feeling?
HENRIETTA. There is something maternal in Mabel's love of course, but that's only one element.
STEVE. Well, suppose Mabel hasn't a suppressed desire to be this gentleman's mother, but his beloved. What's to be done about it? What about Bob? Don't you think it's going to be a little rough on him?
HENRIETTA. That can't be helped. Bob, like everyone else, must face the facts of life. If Dr. Russell should arrive independently at this same interpretation I shall not hesitate to advise Mabel to leave her present hus¬band.
STEVE. Um—um! (The lights go up an Fifth Avenue. Steve goes to the window and looks out) How long is it we've lived here, Henrietta?
HENRIETTA. Why, this is the third year, Steve.
STEVE. I—we—one would miss this view if one went away, wouldn't one?
HENRIETTA. How strangely you speak! Oh, Stephen, I wish you'd go to Dr. Russell. Don't think my fears have abated because I've been able to restrain myself. I had to on account of Mabel. But now, dear—won't you go?
STEVE. I—(He breaks off, turns on the light, then comes and sits beside Henrietta) How long have we been married, Henrietta?
HENRIETTA. Stephen, I don't understand you! You must go to Dr. Russell.
STEVE. I have gone.
HENRIETTA. YOU—what?
STEVE (jauntily). Yes, Henrietta, I've been psyched,
HENRIETTA. You went to Dr. Russell?
STEVE. The same.
HENRIETTA. And what did he say?
STEVE. He said—I—I was a little surprised by what he said, Henrietta.
HENRIETTA (breathlessly). Of course—one can so seldom anticipate. But tell me—your dream, Stephen? It means—?
STEVE. It means—I was considerably surprised by what it means.
HENRIETTA. Don't be so exasperating!
STEVE. It means—you really want to know, Henrietta?
HENRIETTA. Stephen, you'll drive me mad!
STEVE. He said—of course he may be wrong in what he said.
HENRIETTA. He isn't wrong. Tell me!
STEVE. He said my dream of the walls receding and leaving me alone in a forest indicates a suppressed desire—
HENRIETTA. Yes—yes!
STEVE. To be freed from—
HENRIETTA. Yes—freed from—?
STEVE. Marriage.
HENRIETTA (Crumples. Stares). Marriage!
STEVE. He—he may be mistaken, you know.
HENRIETTA. May be mistaken!
STEVE. I—well, of course, I hadn't taken any stock in it myself. It was only your great confidence—
HENRIETTA. Stephen, are you telling me that Dr. Russell—Dr. A. E. Russell—told you this? (Steve nods) Told you you have a suppressed desire to separate from me?
STEVE. That's what he said.
HENRIETTA. Did he know who you were?
STEVE. Yes.
HENRIETTA. That you were married to me?
STEVE. Yes, he knew that.
HENRIETTA. And he told you to leave me?
STEVE. It seems he must be wrong, Henrietta.
HENRIETTA (rising). And I've sent him more patients—! (Catches herself and resumes coldly) What reason did he give for this analysis?
STEVE. He says the confining walls are a symbol of my feeling about marriage and that their fading away is a wish-fulfillment.
HENRIETTA (gulping). Well, is it? Do you want our marriage to end?
STEVE. Well, it was a great surprise to me that I did, Henrietta. You see I hadn't known what was in my un¬conscious mind.
HENRIETTA (flaming). What did you tell Dr. Russell about me to make him think you weren't happy?
STEVE. I never told him a thing, Henrietta. He got it all from his confounded clever inferences. I—I tried to refute them, but he said that was only part of my self-protective lying.
HENRIETTA. And that's why you were so—happy—when you came in just now!
STEVE. Why, Henrietta, how can you say such a thing? I was sad. Didn't I speak sadly of—of the view? Didn't I ask how long we had been married?
HENRIETTA (rising). Stephen Brewster, have you no sense of the seriousness of this? Dr. Russell doesn't know what our marriage has been. You do. You should have laughed him down! Confined—in life with me? Did you tell him that I believe in freedom?
STEVE. I very emphatically told him that his results were a great surprise to me.
HENRIETTA. But you accepted them.
STEVE. Oh, not at all. I merely couldn't refute his arguments. I'm not a psychologist. I came home to talk it over with you. You being a disciple of psychoanalysis—
HENRIETTA. If you are going, I wish you would go tonight!
STEVE. Oh, my dear! I—surely I couldn't do that! Think of my feelings. And my laundry hasn't come home.
HENRIETTA. I ask you to go to-night. Some woman would falter at this, Steve, but I am not such a woman. I leave you free. I do not repudiate psychoanalysis, I say again that it has done great things. It has also made mistakes, of course. But since you accept this analysis—(She sits down and pretends to begin work) I have to finish this paper. I wish you would leave me.
STEVE (scratches his head, goes to the inner door). I'm sorry, Henrietta, about my unconscious mind.
[Exit. Henrietta's face betrays her outraged state of mind—disconcerted, resentful, trying to pull herself together. She attains an air of bravely bearing an outrageous thing. Mabel enters in great excitement.
MABEL (breathless), Henrietta, I'm so glad you're here. And alone? (Looks toward the inner door) Are you alone, Henrietta?
HENRIETTA (with reproving dignity). Very much so.
MABEL (rushing to her). Henrietta, he's found it!
HENRIETTA (aloof). Who has found what?
MABEL. Who has found what? Dr. Russell has found my suppressed desire.
HENRIETTA. That is interesting.
MABEL. He finished with me today—he got hold of my complex—in the most amazing way! But, oh, Henrietta—it is so terrible!
HENRIETTA. Do calm yourself, Mabel. Surely there's no occasion for all this agitation.
MABEL. But there is! And when you think of the lives that are affected—the readjustments that must be made in order to bring the suppressed hell out of me and save me from the insane asylum—!
HENRIETTA. The insane asylum!
MABEL. You said that's where these complexes brought people?
HENRIETTA. What did the doctor tell you, Mabel?
MABEL. Oh, I don't know how I can tell you—it is so awful—so unbelievable.
HENRIETTA. I rather have my hand in at hearing the un¬believable.
MABEL. Henrietta, who would ever have thought it? How can it be true? But the doctor is perfectly certain that I have a suppressed desire for—
[Looks at Henrietta unable to go on.
HENRIETTA. Oh, go on, Mabel. I'm not unprepared for what you have to say.
MABEL. Not unprepared? You mean you have suspected it?
HENRIETTA. From the first. It's been my theory all along.
MABEL. But, Henrietta, I didn't know myself that I had this secret desire for Stephen.
HENRIETTA (jumps up). Stephen!
MABEL. My brother-in-law! My own sister's husband!
HENRIETTA. You have a suppressed desire for Stephen!
MABEL. Oh, Henrietta, aren't these unconscious selves terrible? They seem so unlike us!
HENRIETTA. What insane thing are you driving at?
MABEL (blubbering). Henrietta, don't you use that word to me. I don't want to go to the insane asylum.
HENRIETTA. What did Dr. Russell say?
MABEL. Well, you see—oh, it's the strangest thing! But you know the voice in my dream that called "Step, Hen!" Dr. Russell found out to-day that when I was a little girl I had a story-book in words of one syllable and I read the name Stephen wrong. I used to read it S-t-e-p, step, h-e-n, hen. (Dramatically) Step Hen is Stephen. (Enter Stephen, his head bent over a time-table) Stephen is Step Hen!
STEVE. I? Step Hen!
MABEL (triumphantly). S-t-e-p, step, H-e-n, hen, Stephen!
HENRIETTA (exploding). Well, what if Stephen is Step Hen? (Scornfully) Step Hen! Step Hen! For that ridiculous coincidence—
MABEL. Coincidence! But it's childish to look at the mere elements of a dream. You have to look into it—you have to see what it means!
HENRIETTA. On account of that trivial, meaningless play on syllables—on that flimsy basis—you are ready—(wails) O-h!
STEVE. What on earth's the matter? What has happened? Suppose I am Step Hen? What about it? What does it mean?
MABEL (crying). It means—that—I—have a suppressed desire for you!
STEVE. For me! The deuce you have? (Feebly) What—er—makes you think so?
MABEL. Dr. Russell has worked it out scientifically.
HENRIETTA. Yes. Through the amazing discovery that Step Hen equals Stephen!
MABEL (tearfully). Oh, that isn't all—that isn't near all. Henrietta won't give me a chance to tell it. She'd rather I'd go to the insane-asylum than be unconventional.
HENRIETTA. We'll all go there if you can't control yourself. We are still waiting for some rational report.
MABEL (drying her eyes). Oh, there's such a lot about names. (With some pride) I don't see how I ever did it. It all works in together. I dreamed I was a hen because that's the first syllable of Henrietta's name, and when I dreamed I was a hen, I was putting myself in Henrietta's place.
HENRIETTA. With Stephen?
MABEL. With Stephen.
HENRIETTA (outraged). Oh to... (Turns in rage upon Stephen, who is fanning himself with the timetable) What are you doing with that time-table?
STEVE. Why—I thought—you were so keen to have me go tonight—I thought I'd just take a run up to Canada, and join Billy—a little shooting—but—
MABEL. But there's more about the names.
HENRIETTA. Mabel, have you thought of Bob—dear old Bob—your good, kind husband?
MABEL. Oh, Henrietta, "my good, kind husband!"
HENRIETTA. Think of him, Mabel, out there alone in Chicago, working his head off, fixing people's teeth for you!
MABEL. Yes, but think of the living Libido—in conflict with petrified moral codes! And think of the perfectly wonderful way the names all prove it. Dr. Russell said he's never seen anything more convincing. Just look at Stephen's last name—Brewster. I dream I'm a hen, and the name Brewster—you have to say its first letter by itself—and then the hen, that's me, she says to him: "Stephen, Be Rooster!"
[Henrietta and Stephen bath collapse on chair and divan.
MABEL. I think it's perfectly wonderful! Why, if it wasn't for psychoanalysis you'd never find out how wonderful your own mind is!
STEVE (begins to chuckle). Be Rooster, Stephen, Be Rooster!
HENRIETTA. You think it's funny, do you?
STEVE. Well, what's to be done about it? Does Mabel have to go away with me?
HENRIETTA. Do you want Mabel to go away with you?
STEVE. Well, but Mabel herself—her complex—her sup¬pressed desire—!
HENRIETTA. Mabel, are you going to insist on going away with Stephen?
MABEL. I'd rather go with Stephen than go to the insane asylum.
HENRIETTA. For Heaven's sake, Mabel, drop that insane asylum! If you did have a suppressed desire for Stephen hidden away in you—God knows it isn't hidden now. Dr. Russell has brought it into your consciousness—with a vengeance. That's all that's necessary to break up a complex. Psychoanalysis doesn't say you have to gratify every suppressed desire.
STEVE (softly). Unless it's for Lyman Eggleston.
HENRIETTA (turning an him). Well, if it comes to that, Stephen Brewster, I'd like to know why that interpretation of mine isn't as good as this one? Step, Hen!
STEVE. But Be Rooster! (He pauses, chuckling to himself) Step-Hen B-rooster. And Henrietta. Pshaw, my dear, Doc Russell's got you beat a mile! (He turns away and chuckles) Be rooster!
MABEL. What has Lyman Eggleston got to do with it?
STEVE. According to Henrietta, you, the hen, have a sup¬pressed desire for Eggleston, the egg.
MABEL. Henrietta, I think that's indecent of you! He is bald as an egg and little and fat—the idea of you thinking such a thing of me!
HENRIETTA. Well, Bob isn't little and bald and fat! Why don't you stick to your own husband? (Turns an Stephen) What if Dr. Russell's interpretation has got mine "beat a mile"? (Resentful look at him) It would only mean that Mabel doesn't want Eggleston and does want you. Does that mean she has to have you?
MABEL. But you said Mabel Snow—
HENRIETTA. Mary Snow! You're not as much like her as you think—substituting your name for hers! The cases are entirely different. Oh, I wouldn't have believed this of you, Mabel. I brought you here for a pleasant visit—thought you needed brightening up—wanted to be nice to you—and now you—my husband—you insist—
[Begins to cry. Makes a movement which brushes to the floor some sheets from the psychoanalytical table.
STEVE (with solicitude). Careful, dear. Your paper on psychoanalysis!
[Gathers up sheets and offers them to her.
HENRIETTA (crying). I don't want my paper on psychoanalysis! I'm sick of psychoanalysis!
STEVE (eagerly). Do you mean that, Henrietta?
HENRIETTA. Why shouldn't I mean it? Look at all I've done for psychoanalysis—and—what has psychoanalysis done for me?
STEVE. Do you mean, Henrietta, that you're going to stop talking psychoanalysis?
HENRIETTA. Why shouldn't I stop talking it? Haven't I seen what it does to people? Mabel has gone crazy about psychoanalysis!
[At the ward "crazy" Mabel sinks with a moan into the arm¬chair and buries her face in her hands.
STEVE (solemnly). Do you swear never to wake me up in the night to find out what I'm dreaming?
HENRIETTA. Dream what you please—I don't care what you're dreaming.
STEVE. Will you clear off my work-table so the Journal of Morbid Psychology doesn't stare me in the face when I'm trying to plan a house?
HENRIETTA (pushing a stack of periodicals off the table). I'll burn the Journal of Morbid Psychology!
STEVE. My dear Henrietta, if you're going to separate from psychoanalysis, there's no reason why I should separate from you.
[They embrace ardently. Mabel lifts her head and looks at them woefully.
MABEL (jumping up and going toward them). But what about me? What am I to do with my suppressed desire?
STEVE (with one arm still around Henrietta, gives Mabel a brotherly hug). Mabel, you just keep right on suppressing it.

CURTAIN

______________
Born in 1876, Susan Glaspell was a founding member of the Provincetown Players, and arranged the first reading of Eugene O'Neill's work at the theater. Born in Davenport, Iowa, Glaspell was educated at Drake University in Des Moines, and attended one semester at the University of Chicago. While in Chicago she became involved with some writers of the Chicago Renaissance.

In 1900, working for a Des Moines newspaper, she covered the trial of John Hossack, which would later result in the plays A Jury of Her Peers and Trifles (reprinted at the USTheater site).

Returning to Davenport, Glaspell began writing fiction, winning several awards for her short stories, published in journals such as Harper's, The Ladies' Journal, and The Women's Home Companion. She soon met classics professor, novelist, poet and farmer George Cram Cook, with who she eventually moved to New York and Provincetown, Massachusetts. They married soon after. Cram encouraged Glaspell to write drama, and coauthored the play above, her first theatrical attempt.

Among the other plays she wrote for the Provincetown Players were Inheritors and The Verge, but the couple's survival depended mostly on royalties for her stories.

In 1922, Glaspell gave up her theater career to travel with her husband to Delphi, Greece. While doing research there, Cram contracted typhus and became too sick to be moved to Athens, dying on January 14, 1924.

Returning to Cape Cod, Glaspell wrote a biography of her husband, The Road to the Temple, and continued her theatrical writing, including Alison's House, for which she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. She also wrote novels.

After a break up with the younger writer Norman Matson, she struggled with poor health and alcoholism, becoming for a brief time the Midwest director of the Federal Theater Project, during which time she stopped drinking and returned to health.

Glaspell continued to write fiction through the late 1930s and into the 1940s. She died in Provincetown in 1948.

For a number of years, Glaspell's considerable literary contributions were forgotten, and most of her fiction remains out of print even today. But with the rise of feminism, several of her plays have been revived.

—Douglas Messerli

Djuna Barnes "The Days of Jig Cook" (on George Cram Cook)


THE DAYS OF JIG COOK: Recollections of Ancient Theatre History But Ten Years Old
by Djuna Barnes

George Cram ("Jig") Cook has become a legendary figure, partly because of the grave and lovely biography of him written by his window, Susan Glaspell, and party because of his stimulating share in the work of the Provincetown Players, which cradled the genius of Eugene O'Neill and gave an impetus to much effort which has since proved notable in the American theatre. Djuna Barnes, an active member of the early Provincetown group, here seeks to recall the quality of the enthusiasm which projected that interesting pioneer effort.

The world has grown a little older, the fat man even fatter, the local sponge has died, at a ripe old age at that, since the Provincetown Players used to write and act their own plays in the Greenwich Village stable; the girls who used to fight to get into the Provincetown casts have withered, and others sit and cannot recall just what it was that used to make them get into such heated controversies. Only a few talk of the days when Jig Cook used to drink to inspire others, of the past when Eugene O'Neill was a boy who was too shy to speak.

Helen Westley tells me that youth alone is idealistic. But Helen is right only in regard to American youth. Those who were young when I was also very young have not, with the passing of time, becomes seasoned to the bone. The things that produce the Provincetown Players and made the group what it was, has not made them what they are. Therefore we hear much talk of "lost atmosphere." People speak of those early days as if they were a sort of collar stud which, by some diabolical mischance, had been mislaid by the injustice of God.

The French do otherwise. They too, to be sure, are idealistic in youth; but they are also idealistic in age. They do not speak of days "when." In their lives there is no mislaid stud of enthusiasm. They have, with the peculiarly economical spirit of their race, kept their stud where they can, at any moment, lay their hands on it. It is perhaps not quite the bright stud it used to be, it is indeed not a little dulled, but it will be found in their dress shirt when they are laid out for their grave.

Just what was the spirit that took us to the Brevoort in nineteen hundred and fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, with the eagerness of the devotee? America is one country where the minority should die young. Jack Reed was right, and some, not all of us, are wrong; and we shall be wrong until we have the ability to keep that collar stud from start to finish.

It is perhaps this inability that has made those early days something we recall with sentiment and exasperation. We perhaps sensed that we would not live long, which is the essence of precocity. No, we would not live long, so we would live hard and reach high. Idah Rauh would not always want to be the Duse of Macdougal Street; Jig Cook was already fatal with his untimely end. The rhythm of his emotional life was that of one walk precariously on the hyphen of versus Parnassus. Jig said "What is this thing called life? Where did it come from? Where is it going? This past of life is just an accident...a moment." —And then it was a long while.

Our destiny made us speak before we understood, write before we should and produce before we were able, the plays of John Reed, of Eugene O'Neill, of Susan Glaspell and Floyd Dell, of Maxwell Bodenheim, of George Cram Cook and Edna St. Vincent Millay; of Wilson and Kreymborg, of Wellman, of Steele and of Barnes. Before we were able we had mature grief and fleeting immortality.

In those days Greenwich Village was to the Bronxite just another name for hell and the devil. Now it is no longer the Village that will get a girl by her back hair and sling her into damnation, it is Paris. My own mother told me that I could never expect to live down that city. And when she thinks I am looking a little thin, or when she sees me watching a fly's slow progress from all to ceiling, or catches me being introspective—"It's Paris! You needn't tell me. Don't I know what that place can do? I accepted your father under the Arc de Triomphe, and look at us now!"

Some said in those days that you could not get any nearer to original sin than by renting a studio anywhere below Fourteenth Street. It was a good as suicide to write a one-act play, have Norma Millay laugh at it, Charlie Ellis sit through it, or hear Mary Blair connecting it with the Torah or Swedenborg, which ability was one of her charms.

Poverty and paint, I was told, would bring about no good end. We sat and cherished this possibility with a politic humor. The Provincetown theatre was always just about to be given back to the horses. It had been a stable, and a stable, said my friends, it will be again. That this prophecy has never been fulfilled is due largely to M. Eleanor Fitzgerald, who by this organization has been turned into an eternal Eliza crossing the ice, and by main strength, and gift of a pioneer right arm, has so far kept the baby from drowning.

How can I recreate and analyse the spirit that was the early Provincetown and its people? Did I once know? Did any of us know? Do any of us know now since science has made the analysing process a sort of social ping pong? I doubt it. I have talked to Jimmy Light, and Jimmy does not seem to me to know.

If it was just youth, are there not young people today? The answer is, there are. But not by so much as a single feature do they resemble this other youth. They have enthusiasm, but they are not the enthusiasms that we had. There are still Little Art Theatres, and one-act plays, actors and actresses clamoring for parts, but they are not related to us by so much as a wish-bone.

Why, in those days we used to sit on the most uncomfortable benches imaginable in that theatre, glad to suffer partial paralysis of the upper leg and an entire stoppage of the spinal juices, just to hear Ida Rauh come out of the wings and say: "Life, bring me a fresh rose!"

Our private lives were going all wrong in all directions; we did not eat for days that we might save up to dine at the Brevoort; we sat in the Hell Hole and become both foreign and philosophic under the "Hélas bébé!" of Hypolite Havel; and "Life teems with quiet fun" from Christine, who ran the Provincetown restaurant and who could be counted on to lose all her hairpins, thus loosing her lovely golden hair, by no later than twelve of the clock. We used to sit in groups and recall our earlier and divergent histories. One would say, "I was well smacked by my mother for chewing the paint of the gate post"; another maintained that he had learned the value of madness when his father jumped from a window in an effort to prove gravity, and was picked up convinced. So we talked, and so we went our separate ways home, there to write, out of that confusion which is biography when it is wedded to fact, confession and fancy in any assembly of friend versus friend and still friends.

Of such things were our plays made. Eugene O'Neill wrote out of a dark suspicion that there was injustice in fatherly love. Floyd Dell wrote archly out of a conviction that he was Anatole France. I wrote out of certitude that I was my father's daughter, and Jig directed because he was the pessimistic Blue Bird of Greece.

Such things made atmosphere, as a chalk line of the floor of a magician's home makes terror and expectation,—atmosphere and a dead line over which the general public could not go.

Then where was the catch in the blood? When and on what day, or succession of days did we, unknowingly, walk over our own dead line and into the general life of a world which, until then, had been the audience?

For though some of us have "come through," we are less of that past than those who were never a part of it. This at least is true of me, and I think it is true of others.

Our legend was bought and paid for by those who did not live to walk over. That we are legend at all, that I have been asked to write of the days of Jig, that we are recalled by some with a sigh by others with a shudder, is, I think, due to the lives we have lost and to the "ideals" that we cannot remember.

It was a kind of drunkenness that is beyond recall. Jig who could inspire divergent minds to work together for one idea, and ideal that was never quite clear to him, or if clear to him, one that he could not make clear to me not to a number of others, sent his actors on the scent of no man's rabbit. It was, I think, Jig's rabbit, Jig's conjuring trick; he knew the passes, he spoke the formula, he had the hat, but—was he too proud, or was he too wise, or was he too limited to produce the hare? Who knows?—but it made good hunting.

Reprinted from Theater Guild Magazine (January 1939)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Douglas Messerli "The Locked Windows" (on Julie Archer's and Lee Breuer's Peter and Wendy)





THE LOCKED WINDOWS
by Douglas Messerli

Julie Archer and Lee Breuer (co-creators) [based on the novel Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie] Peter and Wendy, presented by Mabou Mines at The New Victory Theater, New York / the production I attended was on May 6, 2011.

On May 6 I had tickets to see Tom Stoppard’s play Arcadia, but when I heard of the short return of Mabou Mines’ Peter and Wendy to The New Victory Theater (running from May 6-22), I could not resist the opportunity to see the play, and joyfully changed my plans.

In a strange way, although these British-based works are entirely different, there is an odd connection between the two in that they both episodically, often without coherent connections between changes of characters and place, present an kind of Arcadian or pastoral world in which things were seemingly simpler—although the characters in both are faced with complexities that they might not wish to face.

In Peter and Wendy those complexities have to do with their childhood vision of reality. But unlike the earlier play and novel, Peter Pan, Barrie’s 1911 Peter and Wendy presents a less sweeter and simpler vision of things. It is not simply that Peter, Wendy, her brothers and the other Lost Boys who make up Peter’s band perceive things as children might, but that they sometimes all too readily have perceived the traumatic and threatening issues of the adults and the society that surrounds them. In this version, Peter is not just a child who refuses to grow up, but in his kind of wise puppet guise, is—a “puppet” to his own childish instance and the longings that go with that. Like a stubborn and undeterred brat, as spoken by the marvelous narrator Karen Kandel, he is, although always fairly charming, at times also a selfish bully of contradictory forces.

While the New York Times critic saw Kandel’s presentation of these marvelous puppets as too sweet, I saw them quite differently, as forces representing an adamant refusal to join in the Victorian society around them, and, in that sense, they are not at all innocent boys and girls living in a time outside of reality, but slightly terrifying rebels against the transformation of Victorian society in a gentler and more civil society.

Peter may offer these timeless children adventure, but those adventures, the battles with the absurd Hook and his gang, are not unlike the ridiculous wars fought through the century. Wendy may be part and party to the fun, but she is wooed away from her home less as an equal adventurer than as a mother to all the boys, a mother who in her nurturing and care for her “children,” has little room to truly discover herself, more indentured than adventured.

Even Hook, in this version, is less of a free adventurer than he is caught up in the societal whirl, a man who wants to become a figure of style, a class-inspired man of aspirations. The wonderful Croc is a fearful villain less because of his potential to feast on Peter Pan’s boys, than he is a figure caught up in the whirl of society, hilariously presented as a perpetually tangoing beast, unable to free himself from a kind of infatuation with his own tail/tale.

All of this darkness is reinforced by the Celtic songs composed by Johnny Cunningham and performed by Aidan Brennan, Tola Custy, Steph Geremia, Alan Kelly, Laoise Kelly, Siobhan Miller, and Jay Peck; these songs are not your children-friendly hymns such as “I’m Flying,” “I Gotta Crow,” and “I Won’t Grow Up,” but rather intimate the real roots of J. M. Barrie’s darker Scottish heritage.

The marvelous puppetry of Basil Twist and Lute Breuer, accompanied by a whole ensemble of marvelous players, supported this slightly fractured- fairytale-feeling about the whole event.

It is notable that, when Wendy reports that she and her brothers want to return home, Peter considerably chastises them and, for a few minutes, closes the open windows of their home, barring them from returning while hinting that their parents have not been anxiously awaiting them. In those minutes it becomes apparent that this Peter, unlike the earlier Peter Pan, is not only mischievous, but envious and even revengeful.

When Wendy returns to the Darlings house, the first thing she does is to pick up all the “toys,” the tokens of the children’s imagination—including the toy soldiers, the lost boys, the stuffed Nana—pouring them back into the chest to keep them out of reach of their insidious influences.

A pall overcomes the entire work as we realize that Pan, Tinkerbell, and their opponents are now out there, all alone in space. There is no love, not even, any longer, a sense of adventure! Of course he will return to steal away future generations, but in his eternal, darkened childish vision, he will never find the fulfillment of home and hearth.

I cried. I wish I’d had a child along with me to observe and share his or her experiences of this profound version of Barrie’s enduring myth.

Los Angeles, June 22, 2011



Copyright (c) 2011 by Douglas Messerli.



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Paul Schmidt/Vladimir Mayakovsky THE BATHTUB



THE BATHTUB
A Drama in Six Acts
with circus acts and fireworks
by Paul Schmidt

Adapted from Vladimir Mayakovsky's Banya

Commissioned by The Empty Space Theater, Seattle, 1990


Q: "Why is your play called The Bathtub?"
A: "Because that's the only thing it doesn't have in it."


TRANSLATOR'S NOTES

The Bathtub is a classic of the Soviet stage-and like many classics, it is more often talked about than performed. When it first opened in 1930, in a production directed by the great Soviet director Meyerhold, the play was attacked by conservative Stalinist critics. They were furious that the play attacked aspects of the Soviet political system and held them up to ridicule. Although Mayakovsky was officially proclaimed a saint of Soviet literature after his death, The Bathtub was always glossed over as a dangerous text.

Many of the aspects of Soviet government that Mayakovsky was attacking can be found in any government, and certainly can be found in Washington today. I've tried to make a translation into American terms that might be just as dangerous, or at least that shows the kind of theater Mayakovsky was trying to create. His definition of theater moves beyond Shakespeare. "Theater," he said, "isn't a mirror held up to nature. It's a magnifying glass."


CAST OF CHARACTERS

Senator Hamfat Hums,
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Morals and Money
Pamela Mae, his wife
Roger Rodd, his aide
Miss Undertow, his secretary
Hotchkiss, his comptroller
Bellevue, a photographer
Marvin Milkem, CEO, Encroachment Enterprises, Inc.
Jim Jettison, a Hearst reporter
Mr. Yamarama, a foreign businessman
Missy Mesalliance, an interne at the State Department
John Doe, a man about Washington
Billy Biker, a budding entrepreneur
Harry Stranger, an inventor
Foster,}
Frank, } mechanics
Hank, }
A Building Manager
Don, }
Dave, } Senator's aides
Darren,}
The Director of the Play
Senator John Black
The Phosphorescent Woman


Casting Notes

Senator Hamfat Hums, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Morals and Money. In his fifties, a Southern Republican. Self-important, self-serving, a womanizer and wife-abuser.

Pamela Mae, his wife: about fifty, long-suffering wife who tries to make the best of a bad situation and find some humor in it all.

Roger Rodd, his aide: an ex-Green Beret, professionally tough. A second-string Oliver North.

Miss Undertow, his secretary: mid to late twenties, just coming to consciousness. Tough, funny, bitter about her situation. Bellevue, a photographer: a cool customer.

Jim Jettison, a Hearst reporter: mid-twenties, just out of school, young, brash, determined to get ahead.

Marvin Milkem, CEO, Encroachment Enterprises: Late forties, affable and totally amoral.

Mr. Yamarama, a foreign businessman: probably Oriental, decidedly inscrutable. Any age.

Missy Mesalliance, an interne at the State Department: thirtyish, post-post-deb, regrets the days of hoop skirts, but is no lady.

John Doe, a man about Washington: middle aged, a professional American enthusiast, member of all the booster clubs in the country.

Billy Biker, a budding entrepreneur/activist: about thirty, energetic, an old school friend of Stranger's. An American Dream.

Harry Stranger, an inventor: mid-thirties, a recluse, obsessive, idealistic, impractical, but probably not adverse, to turning on once in a while.

Foster,}
Frank, } mechanics: late twenties, early thirties. Good guys.
Hank, }

The Building Manager

Don, }
Dave, } Senator's aides: fledgling copies of Roger Rodd
Darren,}

The Director of the Play: himself

The Phosphorescent Woman: A woman of charm and authority. Ageless. All-knowing, just, with a fine ironic sense of humor. A Dea ex machina.


******

Casting requirements:

Four women
Eleven men (plus the director)

Foster, Frank and Hank double the three aides
Bellevue can double Jettison
Hotchkiss doubles the Manager


OUTLINE/PLOT SYNOPSIS

1. Moscow, 1930. The basement lab of the inventor Chudakov, who has invented a time machine that will be able to bring someone from the future to the present. He has a loyal group of workers: Foskin, Dvoikin, and Troikin. He needs more money to carry on the experiment. His best friend, Velosipedkin, an energetic young Komsomol, is determined to help him. They have been trying to get government funding from a division headed by Pobedonosikov, but he and his staff keep putting them off. A group of people come to see the machine: Ivan Ivanovich, a hanger-on, a journalist named Momentalnikov, Pont Kitsch, a foreign business man, and Mesalliansova, an official translator and social adventuress. They leave, and Pobedonosikov's wife Polly, a friend of Velosepidkin's, comes in with some money given to her by her husband's comptroller, Nochkin. He says he sympathizes with the time machine project, but can't support it officially. At that moment the time machine brings a message from the future saying someone will arrive the next day. They still need money to fine tune the machine, so they leave to announce the good news to Pobedonosikov and hope this will change his mind.

2. In Pobedonosikov's office, people are lined up trying to get in to see him. His aide Optimistenko is trying to put off two petitioners who try to complain about social conditions. Chudakov and Velosepedikin arrive, but he won't let them in to see Pobedonosikov. Meanwhile, P. is dictating a pompous letter to his secretary, Miss Undertow. A painter, Belvedonsky, arrives to re-decorate P's office, and then to paint an official portrait of him. P. finds some money missing in his accounts, and sends for Nochkin. Nochkin arrives, tells a long story about gambling away the money, and threatens to report P. if P. reports him. P. makes arrangements to leave on a "fact-finding trip" which is really a vacation on government funds, and he is taking Messalliansova with him for a little affair. Chudakov and Velosipedkin still can't get to see P.

3. Scene in the theater.

4. The hallway of the apartment building where P. lives, and where Chudakov has his lab in the basement. P. is about to leave on his trip, and he has an argument with his long-suffering wife Polly, who wants to go. The boys from the downstairs lab enter, carrying the invisible time machine; they want it to be in P's apartment when the visitor from the future arrives. Messalliansova arrives, ready to go on the trip. Just then the machine explodes, and the Phosphorescent Wopman appears with a letter from the future. Optimistenko arrives, P. appears, and invites the P> Woman in, as if he were in charge of the whole affair. He also invites in the boys as if he had been supporting them all along.

5. P's office is now the headquarters of the PWoman, who is assembling a cadre of people to take into the future with her. People are lined up to apply, including Ivan Ivanovich, Massalliansova, and Belvedonsky. Optimistenko is still in charge. P comes in to sign up for the trip, and Optimistenko now treats him the way he treats all the others. The PWoman interviews the boys, then Polly, then the secretary Undertow. She discusses womens rights with the two women. Then Pobedonosikov tries to talk her into letting him go. Pont Kitsch and Mesalliansova try to go too. The PWoman says everyone should come back tomorrow.

6. In the basement lab, the boys are putting the final touches on the time machine. They worry about discipline on board, but the PWoman says there is an automatic device that will eject anyone who is unsuitable for the trip. People arrive to board the machine, singing the Hymn to Time. Then Pobedonosikov, Mesalliansova, Belvedonsky, Optimistenko, Pont Kitsch, arrive with loads of baggage and try to take over the operation. Polly rushes in with P's briefcase; he takes it and tries to get her to leave. P and Optimistenko try to make speeches; Chudakov turns them off with a machine. At the last minute Nochkin runs in chased by the police and gets on board. The time machine takes off, and ejects Pobedonosikov, Ivan Ivanovich, Optimestenko, Belvedonsky, Pont Kitsch and Mesalliansova. Everybody leaves Pobedonosikov, who wonders if this means he isn't wanted by the social order.

OUTLINE/PLOT SYNOPSIS

Scene 1. Washington, D.C., 1930. The basement workshop of Harry Ranger, an inventor who has invented a time machine that will be able to bring someone from the future to the present. He has a loyal group of workers: Foster, Dworkin, and Tvorkin. He needs more money to carry on his experiments, and has applied for a Federal grant. His best friend Billy Biker, an energetic young entrepreneur, wants to market the machine when it is finished, and is determined to help Harry get the money he needs. They have been trying to get government funding from the Senate Committee on Research and Funding, chaired by Senator Hamfat Hums, but he and his staff keep putting them off; Biker admits this may be because of his relationship with the Senator's wife. The Senator lives upstairs in the same building; his wife Polly is considerably younger than he; a former model, she used to date Biker, who still is in love with her. A number of people arrive at the lab to see the machine: Jim Jettison, a Hearst paper journalist; Marvin Milkem, CEO of Encroachment Enterprises, Inc, who is interested in acquiring the time machine; Mr. Yamarama, a foreign businessman, who is accompanied by Missy Mesalliance, a post-deb working part-time for the State Department as a hostess/guide. After they leave, Polly drops in to give Ranger and Biker a small sum of money she has saved from the household allowance the Senator gives her. Suddenly the time machine delivers a message from the future, saying that an emissary will arrive the next day. They leave to announce the good news to the Senator, and hope this will change his mind about giving them a grant.

Scene 2. In the Senator's office, his aide Roger Rodman is briefing group of three assistants.//Or: he is listening to various people who want to get in to see the Senator.// Ranger and Biker arrive, are told by Roger that their application has been scrapped. (WHY?) In the inner office, the Senator is dictating a pompous letter to his secretary, Miss Undertow. An artist arrives to paint an official portrait of the Senator. The Senator is making arrangements to leave on a "fact-finding mission" which is really a vacation on government funds, and is planning to take along Missy Mesalliance, whom he has the hots for. Ranger and Biker still can't get in to see the Senator, although they talk to Miss Undertow, and Harry and she strike up a friendship.

3. Scene in the theater.

4. The hallway of the apartment building where the Senator lives, and where Ranger has his lab in the basement. The Senator is about to leave on his trip. He and Polly have an argument; she wants to go with him; she doesn't even care about his affair; she just doesn't want to be neglected. He treats her with sexist contempt. Ranger, Biker, and their workers enter, carrying the invisible time machine; they want it to be in the Senator's apartment when the visitor from the future arrives. Missy arrives, all packed and ready to go on the trip, escorted by Roger Rodman. Just then the time machine explodes in the hallway, and the Smiling Woman appears, just arrived from 1955. The Senator is astonished at first, but soon recovers and invites the Smiling Woman into his apartment, as if he had been in charge of the whole affair from the beginning. He also invites in the boys, cordially now.

5. The Senator's office is now the Headquarters for Time Transport, Inc., a company set up by Biker and run by the Smiling Woman; it's purpose is to select people to go back into the future with her. Roger Rodman is in charge. People are lining up to apply, including Marvin Milkem, the painter, Missy, and Yamarama. The Senator arrives to sign up for the trip, and Roger treats him the way he treats everybody else. The Smiling Woman, who turns out to be very much like Betty Furness, interviews Biker, Ranger and the workmen, then Polly and Undertow; she discusses women's rights with the women. They are all suddenly dubious about the prospect of life in 1955. The Senator tries to talk her into letting him go on the future trip. Missy and Yamarama try to go too. The Smiling Woman tells everybody to return the following day.

6. In the basement lab next day, the boys are putting the final touches on the time machine. They worry about discipline on board; the Smiling Woman says don't worry, there is a device on board that will reject anyone who isn't suitable for life in 1955. People arrive to board the machine, singing the Hymn to Time. Then the Senator, Missy, the painter, Marvin, Roger and Yamarama arrive, loaded down with baggage; they try to take over the operation. Polly arrives at the last minute with the Senator's briefcase; she tells him she has decided to stay; so have Harry, Biker, Undertow, and the workers. The time machine takes off. Biker and Polly, Harry and Undertow, and the workers watch it go.

EPILOGUE: Yamarama comments on Mayakovsky's play, the future, the virtues of staying in your own time and working to improve it, and his own role as a Japanese business man.


ACT ONE


(A dimly lit basement workshop in Washington, D.C. Work tables stage right and left. Blueprints and drawings everywhere, hung up on all the walls and lying around underfoot. At center FOSTER, with a blowtorch, is soldering something invisible in mid air. HARRY STRANGER pores over a blueprint, moving from lamplight into the light of the blowtorch. Both men wear strange-looking goggles. BILLY BIKER makes an energetic entrance.)

BIKER
Hiya, wise guys! How's it going? You found a way to turn around the mighty Mississippi yet?

HARRY
Never mind the mighty Mississippi, take a look at this! (He waves the blueprint) You can get rid of that watch you're wearing right now!

BIKER
Get rid of it? It's not even paid for yet! I'm buying it on time.

HARRY
Not any more, Billy! Your watch is no longer on time! Time's time is up!

BIKER
But it's a Swiss watch!

HARRY
Oh, piss on the Swiss! I am about to reduce the Alps to anthills! And never mind the mighty Mississippi! I am going to reverse the river of no return! The river of time, where we float like dead logs, carried by the current toward some unknown waterfall, is now mine to command! I can make time stop and go, turn in any direction and go at any speed. People will be able to stop the day and get out, the way they stop and get out of their cars. With my new invention you can put the brakes on a second of ecstasy and make it last for months -- until even ecstasy begins to bore you. It's all here -- the fantastic visions of H.G. Wells, Einstein's futuristic brain-storms, sleeping centuries of hibernating bears and Hindu mystics contemplating their navels-all crammed into my new machine!

BIKER
Slow down, Harry. You lost me with the bears. Anyway, what machine? I can't see a thing.

HARRY
Of course you can't. You're blinded by the brilliance of the platinum grille-work, the quartz crystals, all the dazzle of criss-cross beams of laser light. Wait a minute, here. Put on these goggles. You see? You see?

BIKER
(he puts on the goggles) Yeah... I do, actually!

HARRY
Look, you see these two lines that cross, one horizontal and one vertical? With gradations marked, like on a scale?

BIKER
Yeah, I do!

HARRY
These are the lines you use to measure the volume of Essential Space. And you see this regulator dial?

BIKER
Yeah, I do!

HARRY
And this little key here? This isolates the Essential Space and sets it free from any pull of earth's gravity, and then, with these funny little levers here, you control the direction and the speed of time.

BIKER
The speed of time?

HARRY
The speed of time.

BIKER
Well... does it have any practical application?

HARRY
I just told you, it can transform the world!

BIKER
Like how? (pause) Facts, Harry, facts. I need a for instance. OK, for instance, suppose I'm at a political dinner like the one I just came from, and some politician, who I happen to know is on the lumber lobby's payroll, starts telling us the only way to reduce the nation's deficit is to cut down the nation's trees. OK. So what I do is, I isolate the speakers' table in Essential Space, I set the time button at one hour equals one second, and wham! The lights light and the beeps beep, and it's goodbye buddy, you're a gone gander! And the rest of us all applaud and go on with dessert. That how it works?

HARRY
Biker, this is serious! I am talking about a new machine that will transform time, a universal break-through, time disengaged from the realm of metaphysics, subject to the laws of physics and of chemistry, changed from noumenon into phenomenon...

BIKER
Right! Isn't that what I just said? Anyway, I'm only thinking about practical uses for your invention. It's the only way we're going to get more research money. I have been all over Washington for the last two days, I have been to every government office I could think of, trying to get you a grant. There's no money left in Washington.

HARRY
No money left in Washington?

BIKER
Even the Pentagon is cutting corners. They're down to a triangle.

HARRY
So what are we going to do?

BIKER
We'll have to think up a way to market your machine. You can't benefit mankind with something mankind can't buy! Look, you keep going with the physics and the chemistry, and leave the rest to Billy Biker. I'll find some way to make you the new Edison, the new Ford... Harry Stranger, champion of the common man, the man who put a chicken in every pot -that's it! We'll use your machine on a chicken farm! Plug in an egg, speed up time, and in ten minutes you get a ten pound chicken! We'll open a string of fried chicken parlors!

HARRY
I'm a scientist! I'm not interested in chickens!

BIKER
Okay, okay, don't get upset. I didn't mean to ruffle your feathers. But what's wrong with making a profit off your machine?

HARRY
Because it's for the benefit of all humanity--

BIKER
You think humanity doesn't have to eat? Most people would rather have fried chicken than hibernating bears any day.

HARRY
(exasperated) All right, but still, I don't want my machine exploited in any way.

BIKER
OK, OK, you go ahead, turn time any which way you want, but remember, Harry, out there it's still nine-to-five. That's the real world.

HARRY
Listen, Biker, I have tried on my own, you know. I've applied for all kinds of government research grants, but I don't seem to get anywhere. All government grants now have to be approved by Senator Hum's office, and-

BIKER
Senator Hamfat Hum?

HARRY
Him.

BIKER
Hmmm! Is there a pie that doesn't have that guy's finger in it? But wait a minute, there is a way! He lives right in this building, up in the penthouse! Have you tried to get in to see him here?

HARRY
No, but I... well, I know his wife, a little. I helped her with some packages in the hall one day. She's a sweet woman; I don't know what she's doing married to a guy like him. Any way, I showed her what I was working on, and she seemed very interested. She said she'd do what she could to help us.

BIKER
We need all the help we can get, Harry. We've just got to make this baby fly! Now come on, show it off! Rev it up! I want to see this miracle machine in action!

HARRY
What about it, Foster? How's it coming?

FOSTER
Hunky-dory, Harry. All revved up and ready for a test drive.

HARRY
All right, gentlemen, watch closely! See, I turn this dial, time bursts into take-off and compresses the Essential Space we have contained in the isolator...

BIKER
Wait a minute, Harry, let me get into the isolator! I can see the headlines now: "Billy Biker, the first man to travel through Time!"

HARRY
(suddenly anxious, he holds him back) Watch it, you nut! Time moves, but space curves in on itself! Suppose sometime in the future they--oh, I don't know, let's suppose they ran a subway tunnel through this basement, and they put a steel beam right where you'd be standing, your molecules would be totally conflicted! You could disintegrate in a puff of rust! No, at this stage of development, it's too dangerous to try to send anybody into the future. What I'm trying to do is bring some of the future-dwellers back to us. But it's still not a very long-range machine. The most I can aim for is about a hundred years into the future.

FOSTER
Hey, Harry, I got an idea! What if we stick a couple of bucks in the machine? Maybe if we sent them into the future for a few minutes they'd increase in value... We could sure use a little extra cash around here.

BIKER
You got a lot of faith in the dollar, Foster, if you gamble on it's going up.

FOSTER
If I didn't have a lot of faith in something, Billy, I wouldn't be working with this guy for peanuts.

HARRY
What's the matter with you people? Here I am, working for the benefit of all humanity, and all you can think about is money.

FOSTER
Harry, science is one thing, technology is another! We gotta buy new equipment, we gotta pay the rent, we need money!

HARRY
Oh, yeah, money. (Pause. To BIKER) You got any money?

BIKER
Money?
(A knock at the door)

HARRY
Who's there?

(Enter MARVIN MILKEM)

MARVIN
Gentlemen! A pleasure! My pleasure! Your pleasure!

BIKER
Who are you?

MARVIN
Marvin Milkem, gentlemen. Chairman of the Board of Encroachment Enterprises, Inc. Country's leading developer. You find it, we develop it.

HARRY
Encroachment Enterprises, Inc.! Aren't you the people who strip-mined Montana?

MARVIN
Developed, my boy, we developed Montana. All we did to Montana was open it up! Dug a few holes, let in a little light! Got rid of a lot of dark rock been lying around doing nothing for millions of years. Of course we made a small profit in the process, that's American democracy in action. And that's what I'm here for now. Heard you boys had a machine could do wonders. And I want you to know that Encroachment is very interested.

BIKER
Now, wait a minute, Mr. Markem--

MILKEM
Milkem.

BIKER
Milkem. Just what machine are you talking about?

MILKEM
What I heard is, it's a new machine that will transform time, a universal break-through, time disengaged from the realm of metaphysics, subject to the laws of physics and of chemistry, changed from noumenon into phenomenon...

HARRY
Yes! Yes! That's it exactly! But how did you know?

MILKEM
Encroachment Enterprises has its ear to the ground, gentlemen.

BIKER
Look, Markup, I don't know how you found out about this, but this whole thing is still in the research phase. We're not ready for any kind of development yet...

MILKEM
But think of the possibilities! Why, there are vast stretches of empty land in this country, nothing in it, nothing ever been in it, no way to tell if anything ever will be in it. But take your machine, now. Fast forward into those open spaces, see what the future's going to build on them. Then come back here and buy them cheap! Close up the open spaces. That's the art of the deal! See what I mean?

HARRY
Well, I don't exactly know... My invention is for the benefit of all humanity, but I don't know that it has any practical application just yet...

MARVIN
We'll find one! We're a multi-tentacled corporation, got our own advertising department! When we finish our campaign, every household in America will have a little time machine, and those that don't will have kids who cry themselves to sleep, ashamed of their parents. Why, I can see it all now. You'll have your name on every billboard in the nation, even Times Square will have your face up there, and--- Times Square! That's it! The perfect place for your machine!

(A knock at the door.)

HARRY
Who's there?

(Enter JIM JETTISON, a young Hearst paper reporter)

JIM
Hi! It's me, Jim Jettison, ace reporter. I'm the boy with the by-line. Which one of you is Harry Stranger?

HARRY
I am.

JIM
Then you're the man I've heard about, the man of the hour... man of a lot of hours, if what I hear is true.

BIKER
Just what did you hear?

JIM
I hear there's a man here has built himself a fast lane to the future! Something about a new machine that will transform time, a universal break-through, time disengaged from the realm of metaphysics, subject to the laws of physics and of chemistry, changed from noumenon into phenomenon...

BIKER
Word sure gets around fast in this town.

HARRY
Wait a minute, nobody's supposed to know that! That's secret information!

JIM
Nothing is secret in Washington, D.C., ace. Information is the capital's capital. You applied for a patent, right? Filled out forms in the patent office, right? Those forms were filed by a file clerk, right? Nice little brunette name of Nina, right? Let's just say she has long lunches with yours truly. Now, where are we at?

BIKER
Hold on there, buster, just a minute. I think you've got the wrong address. This is just a little automobile repair shop, we're not up to anything fancy--

JIM
Automobile shop? In the basement? Come on, guys, I'm looking for a scoop. Just give me a little slop on the story, will ya? I can get you all the publicity you want. And don't forget the sex angle. Time machine? Sex secrets of the past! Talk about your headlines! Where did Venus de Milo have her hands before she lost her arms?

HARRY
This is about science, not sex! I am a scientist, and I resent any attempt to prostitute the purpose of my machine!

(A knock at the door.)

HARRY
Who's there?

(Enter MISSY MESALLIANCE, a post-post-deb doing a little good-will work for the federal government, MR. YAMARAMA, a foreign businessman she is escorting around, and JOHN DOE)

MISSY
(slight Southern accent) Bonjour, y'all! Parlez-vous francais? (pause) No? I didn't think so. What a bore! Well, I guess we'll just have to muddle through in good old American, won't we? No problem with that here, though; this is John Doe. Of course John Doe needs no introduction. You all know John Doe.

JOHN DOE
And I know all of you! Or sure would like to! Hello, hello!

JIM
Say, aren't you Missy Mesalliance? The deb of the year, a few years back?

MISSY
Why, honey, you recognized me! And I thought I was already ancient history!

JIM
Listen, lady, I wrote the lead article on your coming-out party. You remember my headline: "Milk of Magnolia beneath a Memphis Moon?"

MISSY
So that was you! Why, how could I forget? 'Course, time passes, things change. I'm a working girl now, I'm an interne in the State Department's Good Girls program. We help out as escorts for any foreign dignitaries that happen to be in our nation's capital.

JOHN DOE
And I help out too. I'm a booster, always have been, not ashamed to say it. I'm proud of America's accomplishments! Heard about what you've been up to, wanted to see it, spread the word. Great work, you people! Of course, you can't make an omelet without scrambling a few eggs, can you? Say, Where's the phone around here? I could make a few calls, let the right people know.

YAMARAMA
Hem! Hem! Hem! Hallow hollow hello! Hollow hallow! Howabouta
big buy bunko bimbo? Pick a lock a lick alike, pack a lot and push a peck
of onomatopoeia! Yes?

MISSY
Oh, pardon, pardon. I'm so sorry, this is Mr. Yamarama. He's part of a visiting delegation from--now where exactly was that he's from? One of those really foreign countries out beyond California, you know, where it's always tomorrow already?

JOHN DOE
The Orient! He must be Oriental! Have you ever been to the Orient? I've been to the Orient. What an experience! Orientals everywhere!

MISSY
Anyway, Mr. Yamarama is a well-known art collector, and he's come here because he is very, very interested in chemical plants and steel mills and weapons factories and, oh, you know, art in general... He's a very, very cultured individual, he's a real patron of the arts, gives money to oh, struggling artists, inventors like yourself, vous comprenez? And he just adores the United States, and wants to see everything, and was so anxious to see your new invention, he even had your address and everything...

FOSTER
I bet he did! Dumb foreign fuck!

MISSY
Well, excusez-moi!!

YAMARAMA
Dvery belly belly, yagonna wanna who? Hava hava fundafina, but wesee whyssee veryvery. Ispise a mashin, maka muka mashin, no?

MISSY
Mr. Yamarama says, in his own native language, that in the distant and exotically beautiful land he comes from, everybody is incredibly excited about your invention, and he would like to know all about it, right down to the specific details, if you wouldn't mind...

HARRY
Oh, not at all, not at all, I'd be delighted! My invention is for the benefit of all humanity, so it's... well, it's just great to know he's heard about it! Here, Mr. Yamarama, put on these goggles... See, here's how it works. You see these two little lines here, where they cross...and then the gradations marked on this crystal scale...

MARVIN MILKEM
(aside, to BIKER) Say, listen, we've got to help this boy out here. He's gonna give away the rights to his invention to this foreign competition, and there goes more American know-how down the drain! I'm prepared to make him an offer right here and now for the rights to his little machine-

BIKER
Don't worry, Mr. Milkoff, I'm his manager, and he's not going to give away any rights to anyone! If this country had any long-range vision, the government would be supporting his research right now! He's been trying to get a grant for years, only federal grants are so tangled up these days with investigations and loyalty forms and red tape, nobody can get them. I've been in and out of every government office in Washington for the last year, they all have signs saying "the buck stops here", but what those signs actually mean is, don't try to get any money out of us, buddy.

MILKEM
My boy, the only way to get a little money out of Washington is to put a little money in. I have lobbyists working day and night on these Congressmen, trying to slide that buck in our direction. We find that a little money handed under the table now means big money handed over it later on.

BIKER
(bitterly) Money talks, eh?

MILKEM
Right! Of course, nowadays it mostly talks Japanese, but here in Washington you can still make a deal on a dollar.

BIKER
What about you, Mr. Doe? You know everybody, can't you help somehow?

JOHN DOE
Why, I certainly can! We've got to take some measures, get things moving... of course, if we want to make an omelet, we may have to scramble a few eggs... Is there a phone around here? I'll just make a couple of calls to the right people, that'll take care of things. Call a Senator, that's my motto. Can't get a Senator, call a congressman. Congressmen never refuse you anything. "John," they'll say (they always call me John), "John, you just give me a ring. Any time you're in town. Any time."

YAMARAMA
(to HARRY) Wosolana biggabigga, yes! Makamashina so so so so, gama gonna wannadolla wannadolla wannadolla?

MISSY
Mr. Yamarama says he thinks your machine is just the most wonderful thing, and he'll be happy to give you any kind of money you want to help finish it--

BIKER
(interrupting) That's all right, you tell Mr. Yamarama thanks a lot, but we've got plenty of money. Just got a special loan from one of our biggest banks. I'm crammed with cash right now, in fact. We are totally financed. OK, visiting hours are over. Everybody out. Yamamama go go go go, yes? This way to the door. And all the rest of you too!

MISSY
Well, I declare! Don't you think this is a little rude, and after the poor man came all this way just to see you boys and your little tinker toys!

JOHN DOE
But I never even saw your machine! Of course I saw a lot of machines in Hong Kong. Have you ever been to Hong Kong? Now, I've been to Hong Kong. What an experience! Lots of Hongs everywhere. Or were they Kongs?

JIM
I'm telling you guys, get me the story and I'll get you all the publicity you want! I can make you guys famous!

MILKEM
You're making a big mistake, fellas, I can take this rinky-dink little piece of nothing and develop it into something really big! I can make you guys rich!

(They exit; the door slams)

BIKER
There! We've seen enough of them for a while!

HARRY
That's great news, Biker, about all that money! Why didn't you say so before?

BIKER
What money? I haven't got any money.

HARRY
Then what the hell were you yelling about just now? You were jumping around talking about total financing, and just when we had some big investors interested in the project...

BIKER
You may be a genius inventor, Harry, but whoever invented you left a few screws loose somewhere! Don't you realize those big investors were interested in stealing your ideas and duplicating your research? The next time you time travel, you'll wind up in Hong Kong or Tokyo.

HARRY
My god, you're right! And I even started explaining how everything worked, and he was taking notes! How could I have been so stupid? Why didn't you stop me? And you were being so friendly, hugging him on his way out.

BIKER
Don't worry, I wasn't being friendly. I was hugging his pocket. And here's his little notebook.

HARRY
You're still a street kid at heart, Biker. But what are we going to do for money?

BIKER
Harry, my man, I promise to do what I can. I'll twist arms and bust heads. I'll scramble enough eggs to make an omelet the size of the Capitol dome. But we need government support, and that means getting a clearance from Senator Hamfat Hum and his committee on Morals and Money. And getting his OK means getting in to see him, and that means getting past Hum's homeboy, his aide Roger Rodd. And that ain't easy. Rodd is an ex-Green Beret; requests bounce off him like a bullet-proof vest. And even if we got in to see Hum, how are we gonna convince him?

HARRY
Hmmm...

BIKER
I know about this Hum; he's a man who believes something is good for the country only if it's good for him--

HARRY
For Hum?

BIKER
Right! With maybe a little profit left over for his home state. He talks all the time about God and motherhood and the evils of pornography, but once it gets dark he can't keep his hands off anything in skirts. The only thing he'd want a time machine for was to go back to the good old days he's always talking about.

FOSTER
It sounds hopeless, Biker.

BIKER
We do have one possible in, though. The committee comptroller, Hotchkiss. He's pretty much under Hum's thumb, but he sympathizes with people who have to put up with him. I've talked to him a couple of times about our project.

FOSTER
OK, only meanwhile, what am I supposed to weld with, my own spit? We need to hire at least two more guys to finish the job, and another ten thousand bucks minimum.

(a knock at the door)

HARRY
Who's there?

(Enter PAMELA MAE, waving a roll of bills)

PAMELA MAE
Boys, let me hear you laughing! I got some money for you! Look at this!

BIKER
Mrs. Hum! With a roll of bills! Hooray! Let me see! Wow! Ten thousand, right on the nose! Here, Foster, off you go! On the double! Take this money, get the stuff you need, hire your helpers, and get back fast! (to PAMELA MAE) Mrs. Hum--

PAMELA MAE
Hmmm?

BIKER
Is this official? Did your husband approve Harry's grant? Did you persuade him?

PAMELA MAE
You think things are that simple with him? Don't make me laugh! If I try to talk to him about anything that goes on in his office, he calls me the little woman and shoves me into the kitchen. It's no joke, believe me. No, this money was delivered this afternoon. A little man came to the door, said his name was Hotchkiss, worked for my husband... then he slipped me an envelope and said: "pass it on to the boys in the basement... And don't let your husband know." That's a laugh!

BIKER
(jubilant) Hotchkiss! I knew he was on our side!

PAMELA MAE
"I can't be seen with them," he said, "you know, they've got surveillance..." You think it's all a joke?

HARRY
It's no laughing matter. That much money being passed around in plain envelopes...

BIKER
Harry's right. Congressmen and cash... There's something funny about all this... Surveillance, did he say? You think we're being watched? Well, no time to worry about that now. We got the money! Now the main thing is to get this machine working!

(Enter FOSTER, with FRANK and HANK)

FOSTER
I'm back already! One phone call, and I got the best! Meet Frank and Hank, a couple of angels from hot-rod heaven!

FRANK
Hi!

HANK
Hi! You got a problem with a machine--

FRANK
You got no problem. We're here.

HANK
We can fix anything.

BIKER
All right! You guys ready for the time of your lives?

FRANK
Ready!

HANK
Ready!

FOSTER
Ready!

BIKER
OK, then! Come on, Harry, let's go! Let's go, everybody!

(They busy themselves at the invisible machine. Machine noises.)

HARRY
OK, now, final check. All the circuits are wired.

FOSTER
The isolation perimeters are functioning...

HARRY
What about the voltage?

FRANK
Up to max. And the stress factors are holding!

FOSTER
And there's the Essential Space! All marked out!

HARRY
Good! Then we'll try it. OK, world, here goes! Countdown!

FOSTER
(He begins a count-down from ten) Ten, nine, eight, etc.

HARRY
(he speaks over FOSTER's countdown) For the first time in history... for the history of time... Stand back, everybody, here's the payoff...

(Machine sounds crescendo, then silence. Short pause.)

FRANK
Look! In the machine!

HANK
What is it?

BIKER
It looks like a scrap of paper... only it's silvery, and transparent, and still smouldering...

HARRY
Jumpin' jet-stream! We did it! It's a letter! Communication! A document from the future, written a hundred years from now! You understand? This is from the future! Look, what weird writing! Just read that!

BIKER
What's there to read? It's just marks, it doesn't make any sense.

FOSTER
If it's from the future, don't you think they ought to remember how we write back now?

HARRY
Wait a minute, wait a minute, the fourth dimension reverses things! Hold it up to a mirror!

BIKER
A mirror, a mirror! Who's got a mirror?

PAMELA MAE
I have, right here in my purse. Wait a minute. Here.

(Pause. They look, and all give a wondering intake of breath)

FRANK
Look! See? It's letters, only shaped different. More curved.

HARRY
Exactly! Curved by the force of the combined symmetry CRT!

HANK
The what?

HARRY
Never mind, just read it, read it!

BIKER
But it's just letters and numbers. R-V-L-17-17.

FRANK
Sounds like somebody's license plate.

HARRY
It must be in code... No, its' a kind of short hand! R,V,L... ervel, revel, ravel... arrival! No vowels, just consonants. Think of the time you save! They must really be into conservation in the future. Arrival 17,17... OK! Look, tomorrow's the seventeenth, at seventeen hundred hours, that's tomorrow evening at five pm! That means that he... or she...

HANK
Or it...

HARRY
(Pause) ...or it, will be here tomorrow! Yay!

(Everybody cheers.)

HARRY
(interrupting) But wait a minute, wait a minute, look at this. See how this paper, or whatever substance it is, is charred and torn? That means that something happened during the time-transit, some physical collision in this space. There must be some kind of construction obstruction in this basement at some time during the next hundred years... That's why there was an explosion in the machine! Oh my god, this could be a catastrophe! We bring someone here from the future and we cripple them on the way! We need help right away! We've got to move the machine to a higher elevation before tomorrow night, someplace that's likely to remain unobstructed for the next hundred years...

HANK
Like the top of a mountain...

FRANK
Yeah, a high mountain...

FOSTER
Or on the deck of a boat, far out to sea...

BIKER
Or the top of the Washington monument!

PAMELA MAE
That's it! The top of a building! Why not just move it upstairs? We live in the penthouse, we can put the machine on the roof!

BIKER
Perfect! That way the Senator can't ignore it! What do you think, Harry?

HARRY
(worried) But it'll never fit in the elevator! We'll have to carry it up sixteen floors!

BIKER
Then we'll carry it, don't worry! We'll get help! Come on, men, tomorrow is going to make history. Now we've got proof this thing works, we've got to get official recognition! Mrs. Hum--

PAMELA MAE
Hmmm?

BIKER
We've got to get your husband in on this! If he's a witness to the arrival of a visitor from the future, he's gotta support this project! This time, by God, the buck is gonna start moving!

(A knock on the door)

HARRY
Now who is it? Omigod, it's the building manager!

(Enter the MANAGER)

MANAGER
How many times do I have to tell you people: I run a luxury, all-amenities apartment house here, and just because you rent a room in the basement doesn't give you the right to play war games! What was all that noise and smoke about? You've got the place stunk up worse than a freeway. I've got important people living here, and if Senator Hum ever gets -wind of this--

PAMELA MAE
Ahem!!

MANAGER
(he notices PAMELA MAE) Mrs. Hum! Excuse me, I... I just.... well, you're such a penthouse person, I really never dreamed you knew these... these cellar fellas. Well, I guess I... it takes all kinds, doesn't it? Oh, wait, please, let me hold the door for you... you too, sir...

BIKER
(aside to PAMELA MAE) Ah, democracy in action!


CURTAIN


ACT TWO


(Washington. The reception room of the office of SENATOR HAMFAT HUM. ROGER RODD, the Senator's aide, is briefing DON, DAVE and DARREN, a trio of junior aides.)

RODD
All right, gentlemen, all right, listen up. There are several important items on the docket this morning, and it wouldn't be any stretch of the imagination to say that these were, shall we say, major. In a big way.

FIRST AIDE
We're with you, sir.

SECOND AIDE
Right along side, all the way, sir.

THIRD AIDE
Right, sir. All the way.

RODD
Good, gentlemen, always glad to hear it. First, let's remember that we are aides to Senator Hamfat Hum. Our job is to aid and abet the Senator in every way we possibly can. Now, I don't think I have to tell you men that the Senator's best interests are also the best interests of the country at large. But it's a known fact that we are surrounded everywhere we turn by left-leaning people who do not have those interests at heart. And these left-leaners are not your everyday namby-pambies, remember that. Some of these nuts are aggressive. Which may mean coming to terms. You understand?


FIRST AIDE (DON)
Terms, yessir.

SECOND AIDE (DAVE)
No, coming, Don. Coming to terms. That's what he said. Wasn't that what you said, sir?

RODD
No coming. That's what I said, Dave, no coming.

THIRD AIDE (DARREN)
Yes, no coming. That's what I heard, sir.

FIRST AIDE
To terms.

RODD
Exactly. Now let me emphaticize once again: we are upholders of Senatorial privilege, and that means we don't let anybody hold us up. We are a going concern here, and when the going gets tough, we get concerned.

FIRST AIDE
And when we get tough...

SECOND AIDE
The concerned get going, right, sir?

RODD
Right! We red-light any in-coming onset! Now, I don't mind telling you men that in this office you're going to come up against the worst: do-gooders, one-worlders, shrub-huggers, napalm-haters, all sorts of fantasist scum. They're gonna wanna stonewall you with dreams.

THIRD AIDE
And that's when we counter-attack with reality, right, sir?

RODD
Affirmative, Darren! Affirmative! You just bought yourself a ticket to the big picture! Yes, we counter-attack with reality, and that means we have to dream up a reality that holds up when the chips are down.

FIRST AIDE
Sir, what if we come up against the facts?

RODD
No problem, Don! Facts are our friends! Always remember, you can't make an omelet without scrambling a few signals.

SECOND AIDE
A few signals, right, sir.

THIRD AIDE
Like a light in the darkness, sir?

RODD
Exactly.

SECOND AIDE
Or at the end of the tunnel, sir?

RODD
You got it.

FIRST AIDE
Or by the dawn's early, sir?

RODD
Very good, Don, very good.

THIRD AIDE
Or as in a thousand points of, sir?

RODD
Brilliant, Darren, brilliant!

SECOND AIDE
Gee, sir, I know all this is top-drawer eyes-only, but this stuff just leaves me in the dark.

RODD
Then it's time to open those eyes, Dave! I want to see you combat-ready! Locked and cocked! Pattern your pulses on Don and Darren here: keep your finger on the trigger even when the party seems to be over!

SECOND AIDE
That's a tough one. But I think I get you, sir.

RODD
If the phrase fits, wear it! All right, men, let's hit the ground running and hit it where it hurts!

(The three AIDES exit at a run, and nearly collide with BIKER and HARRY, who enter. HARRY carries an aluminum briefcase.)

RODD
Wait just a minute, you two. Just where do you think you're going?

BIKER
We have to see the Senator right away! On the double!

HARRY
Right! On the double!

RODD
No double talk! This is a government office! (to HARRY) Wait a minute, you look familiar. You have a brother or something? There was a young guy used to come around here...

HARRY
That was me.

RODD
No, couldn't have been you. This guy didn't have gray hair.

HARRY
I wasn't even old enough to shave when I started trying to get an appointment in this office! All I ever get here is run-arounds and red tape!

RODD
Oh, come now, you can't really believe we still have red tape, can you? Not after three Republican administrations!

BIKER
Look, this has been going on long enough! I want to see the Senator, I mean we want to see the Senator, and we want to see him right this minute!

RODD
"This minute" in Washington D.C. can last a pretty long time, mister. Mind letting me in on your ground floor? What do you want to see the Senator about?

BIKER
It's about his invention. This is Harry Stranger, the inventor! He's invented a time machine, and we've got definitive proof that it works! We
want Senator Hum to be a witness to a great moment in history. The Time Machine in action!

RODD
Time machine? I seem to remember that. Right, of course, Harry Stranger! Grant applications for "a new machine that will transform time, a universal break-through, time disengaged from the realm of metaphysics, subject to the laws of physics and of chemistry, changed from noumenon into phenomenon..."

HARRY
That's it! that's me!

RODD
That's you and half a million other kooks in this country, mister! You think the United States government has time to listen to all the crack-pot schemes people put to it? Get yourself a grip on reality, man! Time machines! We put our money into more important things. Breakfast cereal research, for instance. You know how many breakthroughs this country has made in breakfast cereal research? We're so far ahead of the rest of the world it's pathetic! You ever heard of Russian Froot Loops? No you haven't, and do you know why? I'll tell you why, mister. Because we got there first, and it was good old American know-how that got us there.

BIKER
But this machine is for the benefit of all humanity!

RODD
We're not in business for the benefit of all humanity, mister, we're here to take care of present-day America. Look, I've said this before, and I hope I don't have to say it again: this office is part of the long arm of the United States government, we cannot afford to get bogged down in day-to-day diddly. We have to keep our sights trained on the fundamentalist issues. And gentlemen, those issues are campaign contributions, photo opportunities and re-election. That's democracy in action!

BIKER
But this could affect national security!

RODD
We're aware of that, mister. You think we don't know about you? We've had our little surveillance sorties in your sector. We know all about your basement laboratory, your attempts to infiltrate the Senator's domestic operation, your whole nine yards. We have a file on you, mister. (He picks up a thick paper folder) See this? This is your grant application file. And here's your answer. (He rips up the file) That's all she wrote, gentlemen. Mission aborted. Now get out of here. The Senator is a busy man.

(The Senator's private office. A huge desk with an American flag on one side and a Confederate flag on the other. A large gold and white Bible is prominently displayed. Through a vast window the Washington Monument gleams in the distance. SENATOR HAMFAT HUM is pacing up and down, shuffling through a handful of papers, and dictating to his secretary, MISS UNDERTOW.)

SENATOR HUM
"...And so, gentlemen, I am happy to report that the swamp reclamation bill which I had the honor to sponsor has achieved its final fulfillment. A new ribbon of concrete now gleams in the sunshine, stretching four hundred miles along the shoreline from Locoville to Amalassas Point, a magnificent project which combined the talents of the Army Corps of Engineers and certain local contractors, notably my cousin Ezekiel Fetterfarm..." No, Miss Undertow, cut that part about my cousin. The less anybody outside the family knows about that sumbitch, the better off this nation will be in the long run. Where was I?

MISS UNDERTOW
"and certain local contractors..."

SENATOR HUM
Right, "...and certain local contractors." Period. "What was once nothing more than mile after mile of flat tideland, full of all kinds of loose birds and other undesirable elements, is now a solid stretch of man's handiwork, suitable for outdoor advertising and any and all economic development. Once more America encases her feet in concrete and dives unswervingly into the bright future of automotive technology. And I am proud to be at the wheel of this red, white and blue vehicle of progress as we head down the highway of hope and into the setting sun of the coming decades."

(the telephone rings)

Don't answer that, Undertow. No interruptions. Never get off the pot before it's full. What was I saying? Oh yes. "Heading down the highway of hope, with Washington, Lincoln and the other founders of this great nation in the back seat, using their vision and foresight to warn us of dangers ahead: the soft shoulders of foreign entanglements and the speed traps of higher taxes, the road blocks of organized labor, and of course the still-present godless Communist Red Tide which threatens to wash out the fastlane of American progress, especially when it joins the Brown Flood of wetbacks that keeps eating away at our Southern frontiers..."

MISS UNDERTOW
Excuse me, excuse me, Senator, but I don't think you should write that down, that part about wetbacks, I mean--

SENATOR HUM
Goddammit, Undertow, what am I supposed to call 'em? Humid posteriors? And will you please stop pulling my punches for me! Every time you open your mouth, you knock my train of thought right off its rails. Let that stand just like I said it! "...the Brown Flood of wetbacks that keeps eating away at our Southern frontiers, and above all the Yellow Tide that washes its Oriental influence all over the western shores of this great nation--" This great white nation, is what I mean, Undertow, but don't write that down. Time enough for that later, (he notices something in the papers he has been glancing through) Goddammit! Look at this balance sheet! I thought I told that miserable--- Undertow! Get me Hotchkiss! I want his penny-pushing ass on my carpet in five minutes!

(Meanwhile, back in the outer office...)

BIKER
Mr. Rodd, you've got to let us in! This is unjust!

RODD
Look, you want justice, you're chewing bark off the wrong tree. This is the Senate Office Building; no justice here. Justice has a department of its own.

HARRY
But it's for the good of the country! My machine will allow us to use time to our own advantage.

RODD
Negative, mister. The United States government has its own time frame. We run from budget to budget. I'm afraid your fantasies would only interfere with ours. (The phone on his desk rings, he answers) Who? Affirmative! (He pushes an intercom button. To BIKER and HARRY) No, gentlemen, I'm afraid it's scratch city. We've drawn your bottom line, (into the phone) Hotchkiss? Hotchkiss, this is CP. Over here on the double. You've just been logged onto the carpet.

BIKER
Look, the Senator has got to know about this!

RODD
The Senator is too busy to be interrupted. And that's a standing order.

(Enter BELLEVUE, with a camera and photo equipment)

RODD
Ah, Mr. Bellevue! Mr. Bellevue, sir! Good to see you! The Senator is expecting you. This will be an on-line shoot, work-wise. But where's your crew? Aren't you working with a media consultant?

BELLEVUE
I am no mere photographer, I am an artist. I work only with a camera. I look for moments of truth.

RODD
(admiringly) Risky! But I admire your courage, sir. And you've come to the right place. Senator Hum' moments of truth are legendary. Go right in, sir, go right in.

(BELLEVUE goes into the inner office.)

BIKER
So how come he gets to go in and we don't?

RODD
Because he's going to shoot the Senator, that's why. (into the phone) Negative! Don't panic, Hotchkiss, he's not a terrorist, he's a photographer. A famous photographer! Bellevue, the man who makes the faces of the future!

BIKER
Then what about us? We're already in contact with the future!

RODD
(to BIKER) You're already ancient history! Get lost! (into the phone) No, not you, Hotchkiss! I don't know, I'm making no determinations at this point...

BIKER
But this is important! This could change the entire course of history!

RODD
(to BIKER) I told you, mister, you're bucking for a bust. You kooks are always coming in here, looking for a way to pull my wool over the ice! Just get out of here! (into the phone) No, not you, Hotchkiss, you get over here! And make it snappy. We're running out of time.

HARRY
Time's going to run out on you, if you don't pay attention to this. We've had a message already! There's going to be an arrival! It's crucial that the Senator be there!

BIKER
This is a break-through!

HARRY
A countdown!

BIKER
A touchdown!

RODD
You're crack-pots! Crooks! (into the phone) No, not you, Hotchkiss. Not until they subpoena you, anyway. Just get over here, will you? (He hangs up. To BIKER and HARRY) You guys are no longer operative! De-accessed! Out!

(Meanwhile, back in the private office, the SENATOR is speaking to someone on the telephone)

SENATOR HUM
(confidentially) Covey? That you? What's this about requisition orders? I asked you for two tickets to Acapulco, just send them here to me. Didn't you talk to Rodd? (pause)...because I don't know yet who it's going to be... (pause) ...because it's none of your goddam business, that's why. Just two tickets to Acapulco, get it? All right, goodbye. (he hangs up, turns to UNDERTOW) Now, Miss Undertow, where were we?

UNDERTOW
On the western shores of this great nation, watching the yellow tide roll in.

SENATOR HUM
Yes, watching the tide roll in. And out. That's what it does, doesn't it? It goes in and out. How'd you like to do that, Undertow, just lie on a beach and watch the tide go in and out...
(he begins ogling her at close quarters) You know, Undertow, I think it's time you and I had a little talk...

UNDERTOW
Senator, we've had a few little talks before-

SENATOR HUM
And they never seem to get anywhere, do they? Never lead to action where you're concerned, do they? All talk and no action will get you nowhere in Washington, Undertow.

UNDERTOW
Except maybe into the White House...

SENATOR HUM
Goddamit, Undertow, don't get political with me! I'm talking about you and your lack of affirmative action! You've been in my office for six months and you just sit there and cross your goddam legs, woman, don't you, you just cross those suckers right in my face but you don't come across, Undertow, you just flash flesh without any regard for efficiency or even common Christian charity, goddam it, there are laws about safety in the workplace, but you just ignore them with those hazardous thighs of yours--- (He makes a grab for her)

UNDERTOW
Senator, you keep your hands to yourself! My job has nothing to do with my thighs--

SENATOR HUM
What about my job, Undertow? You think I can get my job done around your thighs in those devil-raising short skirts? (he makes another grab)

UNDERTOW
Senator, please! Can't we just get on with the job?

SENATOR HUM
Your job is over! That's it, Undertow, you're fired! No room in my operation for hostility!

UNDERTOW
Senator, this is unfair! I'll complain, I can make an official report about sexual harassment--

SENATOR HUM
All reports of that nature are referred to my committee, Undertow. You wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Saudi Arabia. Now git. I want you out of here by this evening! (UNDERTOW exits) I'll have Roger get me some of those young girls from the part-time pool at the Pentagon. They're always glad to go to work for people who don't leave medal-marks.

(Enter BELLEVUE with his lights, stands and camera)

SENATOR HUM
Ah! Come in, young man, come in! You must be the man from TIME.

BELLEVUE
Time?

SENATOR HUM
Time magazine. The photographer to take my picture for the cover.

BELLEVUE
Oh yeah, that's right. Today we're doing Time. (He looks at a sheet of paper) Hmm. Hum. You're him?

SENATOR HUM
I am Hum, young man, Senator Hum. Now, how do we do this? Shall I pose over here by the flag?

BELLEVUE
No, you just go ahead and do what you do everyday. I'll set up my lights and equipment, and when I see something I like I'll let you know.

SENATOR HUM
Now, let's get one thing straight. I don't want to look bored or relaxed or anything. I want to show concern. I want to look as if I'm hard at work.

BELLEVUE
The camera never lies, Senator.

SENATOR HUM
Neither do I, son, neither do I. But we all know some angles are better than others. You just get me a profitable angle, that's all I ask. Make me look big.

BELLEVUE
Senator, I make people bigger than life.

SENATOR HUM
But I thought this was for the cover of Time. Time is about six inches smaller than Life.

BELLEVUE
National coverage is national coverage, Senator. You don't measure it in inches, you measure it in billions of dollars worth of publicity. Don't worry. I'll have virtue frowning from your eyebrow, and goodness oozing from the pores in your nose. That's my specialty: unimpeachable virtue on faces where you'd least expect it.

SENATOR HUM
Should I stand over here by the window?

BELLEVUE
No. There are some things we don't want to throw too much light upon. Stand over here by the desk. Take the Bible there, cradle it in your left arm. Now pick up these papers, hold them high over your head, like the statue of Liberty. Right! That's perfect. Now stay like that for a minute.

(The SENATOR takes the pose. BELLEVUE adjusts camera, lights)

SENATOR HUM
(Pause) Ah... Say... You by any chance ever run across that other photographer?

BELLEVUE
What other photographer?

SENATOR HUM
You know, that dead one. The one that took the dirty pictures.

BELLEVUE
Oh, that one. No.

SENATOR HUM
(Pause) You ever see those dirty pictures?

BELLEVUE
I may have, yes.

SENATOR HUM
Disgusting, ain't they?

BELLEVUE
The camera just shoots what it sees, Senator.

SENATOR HUM
Don't give me that stuff! Somebody's got to point it in the right direction! And somebody's got to push the trigger, or whatever it is. A camera doesn't just walk around by itself looking up women's skirts.

BELLEVUE
His camera wasn't looking up women's skirts, Senator.

SENATOR HUM
Well, that's even worse, then! You know some of the places it was looking up! Enough to make any red-blooded American male puke!

BELLEVUE
What about red-blooded American females?

SENATOR HUM
I hope to God no red-blooded American female ever sees those pictures, and I'm doing everything in my power to make sure they don't. There are some things about men that women have no right knowing, and that perverted picture-taker was going around showing 'em flat out. Thank God he didn't show them in full color.

BELLEVUE
I thought that was one of your objections, Senator... that his pictures were--how to put it-black and white. Together.

SENATOR HUM
I don't even want to think about that part of it. And believe me, I won't rest until there are laws against taking pictures of some of the things that go on in this great land of ours. I swear I won't, as God is my right-hand man. (Pause) This arm is getting tired.

BELLEVUE
Remember the Statue of Liberty, Senator. If you're going to show the American people the light, you can't always be shifting positions.

(Enter HOTCHKISS, the office comptroller)

SENATOR HUM
Hotchkiss! There you are!

HOTCHKISS
Here I am.

SENATOR HUM
(sotto voce) Where the hell have you been?

HOTCHKISS
(sotto voce) Trying to find ways to keep your cash flow from erupting all over the morning papers.

SENATOR HUM
Erupting! There hasn't even been any flow! I'm missing ten thousand!

HOTCHKISS
You got all you put in for!

SENATOR HUM
This week's contribution, goddamit! Ten Gs! A hundred big ones! A thousand sawbucks!

HOTCHKISS
It went to your back door.

SENATOR HUM
Here?

HOTCHKISS
No, home.

SENATOR HUM
Home?

HOTCHKISS
The Hum home, yes.

SENATOR HUM
To her?

HOTCHKISS
How do I know? To whoever was there.

SENATOR HUM
To her!!! You're gonna be put to the prod on this one, believe me! She could go public with this and we'd all be up the Potomac!

HOTCHKISS
1 could go public with this! And you'd go up the river all right!

SENATOR HUM
You wouldn't dare! What's your innuendo?

HOTCHKISS
I'm not innuendoing! I'm pitching straight but you're not catching! I'm tired of running a slush fund!

SENATOR HUM
Those are diversionary funds! I'm merely using them for diversions! I swear I'll have you investigated for this! Indicted!

HOTCHKISS
Don't bother. I'm on my way to the Agency right now, to turn myself in. They'll get my version first, and I get immunity from prosecution.

SENATOR HUM
You snake! You snare of Satan! You godless commie traitor! (He starts raving and throwing things from his desk)

BELLEVUE
Hold it, Senator! Hold that pose! This is the money shot!

SENATOR HUM
Out! Get out! All of you! You're trying to get at the United States government through me! I knew it! Out!

(Meanwhile, back in the outer office...)

BIKER
You're making the biggest mistake of your career, Rodd! When this story finally blows it's going to leave omelet all over your face!

RODD
I'll conveniently forget you said that, mister.

BIKER
Look, you sandbag, it's about time somebody told you what's what! There are people in this country trying to get things done, people who try to look ahead a little, and they always come up against people like you who can't look anywhere except from side to side. Everything you say is negative and everyone you see is an enemy! Anything hopeful happens, you piss all over it!

RODD
Hope is a has-been, mister. This is a hard world. And I'm a hard man. That's the bottom line. America's enemies are everywhere, and from where I stand, you're one. Love it or leave it.

(Enter MISSY. RODD goes to meet her)

RODD
Ah, now here's a real American beauty! Miss Mesalliance! Don't you worry about waiting, ma'am. Orders from the Senator. You go right to the top of his stairs. Allow me. (He takes her aside)

MISSY
You make a lady proud to be one, Mr. Rodd. (aside to him) Did the Senator say anything about—

RODD
(aside to her) About... a joint fact-finding junket, Mesalliance? Operation Acapulco is ready to roll! Be at his back door at seventeen hundred hours. You're one of our operatives now, a pink silk lining in the old cloak and dagger, and I want you to know we're all behind you. I've been able to outflank the opposition. Told him his wife was hanging out with these wide-eyed idealists here, but he was already down that track ahead of me. He was looking for an excuse to de-access her file. And I happen to know he can't even hang five with his secretary. So you're Little Miss Muffit now, if you know what I mean.

MISSY
Don't worry, I've never muffed it yet. (She goes into the inner office)

BIKER
What's going on? She gets to go in to see him too? This place is like a Fourth of July parade, and everybody's marching except us! You've got to let us see the Senator! This is critical! (to HARRY) You better show him the letter, Harry. It's the only way he's going to believe us.

HARRY
OK, Rodd, take a look at what I've got in this briefcase! See if this isn't a passport to see the Senator! Here! (He opens the briefcase, which contains the charred letter. As he opens it, the letter begins to glow) Oh my God, look! The letter from the future! It's glowing! The countdown has begun!

BIKER
Watch it!! Watch it, everybody, this thing could explode any minute now!

RODD
Explode! Terrorism! Treason! Get the bomb squad! I knew you guys were nut-cases! I warn you, one little bang, so much as a whimper, and we'll pull your plug so fast ....

BIKER
This bang is gonna knock your socks off! Oh boy, look at that baby glow! When this thing hits, Rodd, where do you think you're gonna wind up, you and your Senator?


(Enter MISSY and the SENATOR from the inner office, with a pair of maracas. They dance across the stage and exit, singing:)

MISSY and THE SENATOR
Acapulco! Acapulco! Ay ay ay ay ay ay!

(The letter glows hotter and hotter as the CURTAIN falls)



ACT THREE


(The grand staircase of the apartment building. The stage represents several flights of stairs and three different landings, with apartment doors opening onto them. The top door leads to SENATOR HUM's apartment. The door opens, and SENATOR HUM, wearing an overcoat and clutching a suitcase, tiptoes out onto the landing. He tries to nudge the door shut behind him, but it suddenly bursts open and his wife PAMELA MAE rushes out. She makes a grab at the suitcase.)

PAMELA MAE
I knew it! Trying to sneak out and leave me behind! This is not funny any more!

SENATOR HUM
Woman, I told you once and for all this is none of your business! I'm going away on official business, which means it's my business! These fact-finding junkets are vital to the security of the United States, so stop trying to make a domestic scene out of it!

PAMELA MAE
Fact-finding junkets? What a laugh! How come you always go looking for facts in places like Acapulco? I saw those two tickets they delivered this afternoon! Two tickets for a week-long cruise to Acapulco. At first I thought maybe you meant we could... just the two of us, I mean... But I guess the laugh's on me.

SENATOR HUM
In the first place, it is my duty, as you well know, to protect this country against all its enemies, both foreign and domestic. Now, some of those foreign enemies just happen to be located in places like Acapulco. I can't help that. In the second place, don't think the United States of America is going to foot the bill for you to get a suntan!

PAMELA MAE
You always seem to come back from these little fact-finding junkets relaxed and tan! Why won't you ever take me along?

SENATOR HUM
Because the only way I can relax, woman, is away from you! You and I are no longer the little team we used to be, Pamela Mae. We're heading in different directions! And tonight I just happen to be heading to Acapulco.

PAMELA MAE
So who's heading with you?

SENATOR HUM
That too is none of your business! This is a government mission I'm going on, and I am therefore entitled to a certain amount of support cadre! If I take along a secretary, that's my business.

PAMELA MAE
You make me laugh! Since when have I ever interfered with you and your secretaries? Look, I'm married to you, I know what you're like! All I'm asking is, take me with you to Acapulco. You can bring along all the secretaries you want, for godssakes! They can take your little... dictation all night long!

SENATOR HUM
Woman, will you please hush up! Suppose some of the neighbors heard you! There are at least three other members of the Congress living in this very building.

PAMELA MAE
What a laugh! You think they don't know all about you already? The great protector of American morals, with a lot more traffic up and down his backstairs than his front! What needs hiding anymore?

SENATOR HUM
You need hiding, that's what! What a fool I was to marry you! We're not high school sweethearts anymore, Pamela Mae, we're not two starry-eyed Young Republicans trying to elect Richard Nixon! Those days are over, woman, and so is our marriage! I'd get rid of you in a minute if it wouldn't damage my career! I have pulled myself up by my bootstraps--

PAMELA MAE
That's a laugh! You pulled a few other things on the way up, too!

SENATOR HUM
Pulled myself up, I say, from nothing! I rose through the ranks of loyal party members, and got up as far as this penthouse apartment and a Senatorial salary! And now you're dragging me down, Pamela Mae! What do I see when I look at your aging face? I see--

(A door on the middle landing opens, and SENATOR BLACK leans out to pick up his newspaper.)

SENATOR HUM
(he changes his tone) ...I see a new day dawning, Pamela Mae, a day when the dark twisted forces of pornography have been uprooted throughout these great United States... (to SENATOR BLACK) Why, hello there, John, I was just saying to Pamela Mae here--

SENATOR BLACK
I heard you, Ham, I heard you. Evening, Pamela Mae. Nice day we're having, isn't it?

PAMELA MAE
One laugh after another, John.

(SENATOR BLACK goes back into his apartment)

SENATOR HUM
Goddamit, Pamela Mae, see what you've done? Got the neighbors out spying on us! You're ruining my career!

PAMELA MAE
I'm ruining it? What a laugh! You're doing a pretty good job of ruining it yourself.

SENATOR HUM
Don't you be so quick to cast the first stone, woman. You go up and down these back stairs yourself. You think I don't know you've been spending time with that radical element in the basement? You didn't even have the decency to get involved with somebody who had a little influence in this town, somebody more suitable to my station in life! You two-timing twit!

PAMELA MAE
(shouting) Don't you dare call me that! You big slice of phony baloney!

SENATOR HUM
SSSH! Get back inside! Everybody in the building will hear us. Get back inside!
(On a lower landing BIKER appears, scouting the way, and behind him come HARRY STRANGER, FOSTER, FRANK and HANK, carrying the invisible time machine.)

BIKER
Come on, guys, heave! Just another couple of steps and we're there. And don't make so much noise! If he hears us coming he'll sic his aides on us, and we'll never get in to see him! And I want this time bomb to go off right in his face!

HARRY
I don't think we'll ever make it!

FRANK
You feel how hot it's getting? The crystals are beginning to glow!

HANK
The edges on my side are getting too hot to handle! It's starting to burn like a stove, honest to God!

HARRY
Oh my God, my God. I swear there's a foreign body beginning to materialize in it already!

FOSTER
Keep this thing moving, Harry! It's hotter than hell!!!

BIKER
(he runs back to give them a hand) Come on, guys, don't give up! We know he's in his apartment right now! Only a few steps more and we're there! (He tries to help carry the machine, but snatches away his burned fingers) OW! Damn, you're right! It's hotter than hell!

(an ominous hum is heard from the machine. It increases in intensity through the following scene)

HARRY
We can't go any further! Hear that sound? The materialization is beginning! Quick! At least get it as far as the landing! Set it down here!

(Just then, on the landing above, PAMELA MAE appears. The SENATOR follows her. He holds a gun in his hands.)

SENATOR HUM
Pamela Mae, you and I have prayed together, and the good Lord has given us the word. And you know what that word is. A wife is subject to her husband, and his will is her duty. It is only by your loving sacrifice that our life, I mean my life, can be made free of this bitter, bitter discord.

PAMELA MAE
I wish this were a joke.

SENATOR HUM
It isn't funny any more, Pamela Mae. Here. I'm going to leave my revolver with you. You might find it a way out of this devil's snare of our marriage. God will inspire you with the right thing to do. It's already loaded, so all you have to do is pull back the safety catch, this little thing here. Goodbye.

(He gives her the gun and nudges her through the door. At the bottom of the stairs, MISSY MESALLIANCE enters, carrying a suitcase and her maracas.)

MISSY
(singing) Acapulco, Acapulco... (she calls up) Hammy, honey, I'm all revved up and ready to go!

SENATOR HUM
SSSSSH!

HARRY
Watch it, guys, this baby is ready to blow!

(The vibrating sound becomes a roar. There is an explosion.)

SENATOR HUM
(banging on his door, screaming) Pamela Mae, Pamela Mae, let me in! Let me in!

(He rushes in. Another door opens and ROGER RODD appears, holding a gun)

RODD
Freeze, you're all covered! Now what the hell's going on?

(The time machine opens up, and from it appears THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN, glowing faintly. She carries a scroll stamped with glistening characters; they spell LETTER OF INTRODUCTION.)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Oh, brave new friends!
I have travelled a hundred years!
But my time is short
and my task is long.
Will you help me?
Here are my credentials.

RODD
(he rushes to the WOMAN, grabs the scroll, and reads it through) Give me that! Hmmmm... "Research Institute for World Preservation"... right... "Attempt to reorder historical disasters..." "full authority to select appropriate individuals and arrange transfer"... What? What? "...transfer to the year 2090!" My God! Does the CIA know about this! Senator! Senator!

(RODD bangs on the Senator's door. It opens, the SENATOR appears.)

RODD
Senator, it's a... it's a woman! From the future!

SENATOR HUM
(aside, to RODD) Get on the phone fast! Call the Agency, find out if this is really happening, or if this is just one of their little scenarios. And see if NASA has a hand in this!

(RODD exits at a run. The SENATOR turns to the PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN and gestures toward his open door.)

Well, little lady... Well, well! We meet at last! Glad to see you've arrived safely! I'm Senator Hum--

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Whom?

SENATOR HUM
Hum! Senator Hum! I've been following your progress, one of the major supporters of this project, in fact. Your people have done a fine job, sending you right here to me. I'd like to be the first to offer you a little unofficial hospitality. (He tries to shake her hand, but burns his fingers) Ow! I'm happy to do what I can for you. Come right in, just come right in, (to STRANGER and BIKER) and you too! Glad to see you, boys! Haven't I always told you my door was open? Come right in!

(He ushers in the PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN, who is gradually cooling into a more normal aspect, followed by HARRY, BIKER, FRANK and HANK. RODD reenters at a run)

SENATOR HUM
(aside, to RODD) Well, what did they say?

RODD
The FBI said anything that glows in the dark was out of their jurisdiction! They told me to call CIA.

SENATOR HUM
Well, did you call CIA?

RODD
Senator, I am CIA! But this is bigger than all of us!

SENATOR HUM
Then she must be for real! My god, this is the chance of a lifetime!

MISSY
Hammy, honey, what's going on? Are we going to Acapulco or not?

SENATOR HUM
Acapulco? Forget the tortillas, Miss Missy! We're going to the future!


CURTAIN


ACT FOUR


(Most of the actors have returned to the stage, and are waiting for the action to begin, chatting, The STAGE MANAGER stands, looks out into the house.)

STAGE MANAGER
OK, everybody, places! Places, please, for Act Four!

(The actor playing RODD crosses to her, says something sotto voce.)

STAGE MANAGER
(annoyed) Well, nobody told me anything about it! (loud, to the group) All right, people, let's go! We're back! I've called places!

DIRECTOR
(He steps to the front of the from his seat in the house) Wait a minute, we've got a problem, (to the actors onstage) Just hold everything for a minute, guys, will you? These people are supposed to be here any minute. ((He turns and addressed the audience) Ladies and Gentlemen, bear with us for a moment, will you? We may have a few minutes delay. We have a visiting committee from the National Endowment for the Arts with us today, they're doing coast-to-coast investigations, and they're on a rather tight schedule. Anyway, they've seen the first two acts, that's all they have time for, but they want to have a short discussion at this point, and give us some of their recommendations. I'm sorry for the interruption, but if you'll just bear with us, this shouldn't take long, (to the STAGE MANAGER) Doesn't anyone know where the hell they are?

THE ACTOR WHO PLAYS YAMARAMA
They were all out in front of the theater a while ago-- but I think some of them went to that bar across the street.

DIRECTOR
Would you mind going to check? We can't hold this show all night! (to the audience) I'm very sorry about this, I-- wait a minute, here they are.

(From the back of the house enter SENATOR HUM, JOHN DOE, JIM JETTISON, MARVIN MILKEM, MISSY MESALLIANCE and YAMARAMA,
who seems quietly and happily drunk. They make their way down the aisle toward the stage.)

DIRECTOR
Right this way! Over here, please! We're delighted to have you! Sure! No, no, don't worry, about the time, we're on dramatic time here. A long pause is a dramatic pause, that's what we always say in the theater. And of course we understand how busy you are, with all these art investigations... Well, you've seen the first two acts, what did you think? We're eager to have your recommendations; as you know, our theater relies heavily on grants, and--

SENATOR HUM
That a fact? What about your box office receipts?

DIRECTOR
Well, Senator, you can count the number of seats. Even with standing room only we can't break even in a house like this. And we have to pay our actors enough to eat, you know.

SENATOR HUM
Glad to hear it, son, glad to hear it. Everybody's got to eat. I was just telling John Doe here, John, I was saying, these are clever people, very clever people. They're putting on a nice little show here, that's good, I like to see people having a good time. (Pause) However, there are a few things--

DIRECTOR
Please! Whatever! Let us know your reactions, we can always make changes, that's the beauty of the workshops and staged readings we do nowadays. We can't afford to produce all the plays we want, so we start that way. So please let us know what you think, any concrete suggestions--

SENATOR HUM
Good! That's a healthy attitude. Well now, don't you think you're laying it on a bit thick? It's not very realistic, all this stuff you're showing us up here. You take this Senator character you've got, for instance, that's a pretty embarrassing thing to show to any patriotic American. I mean, here's a man elected to one of the highest offices in this great land of ours, and you show him in what I would definitely call an unflattering light. Oh yes. Very unflattering. Why, I defy you to show me a Senator in real life who's anything like this character of yours! You've created a caricature, not a character! You've got to make him more realistic, more natural-like, more true to life... you know, more attractive.

JOHN DOE
Absolutely positively! You've got to tell the story of the good things in American life! No more skies of gray! Let's walk on the sunny side of the street! Darn it, let's have our eggs sunny side up! Young Jim, can't the press get involved in this?

JIM
Damn right! The press can do whatever you want it to!
Just tell me what you want,
just tell me where you stand,
I've got the power of the press
right here in my hand!

MISSY
Then I don't think you should give this play a good review. We want plays that make people forget the bad and feel good. I don't really approve of this play the way it is now.

DIRECTOR
Excuse me, excuse me, but this production has already been approved by the National Endowment! As you know, we received a small grant from you for our new series, so we've already submitted all our forms in triplicate, we've sighed all the oath forms, the citizenship forms, the loyalty forms, the sexual purity forms, everything! But please, let me try to make clear what exactly it is we're after here. Our Senator is presented as an example of negative possibility, what might happen, not a positive example of what in fact happens. He's just a type.

SENATOR HUM
"Type?" Did I hear you right? "Type?" Why boy, you're dealing with an official of the United States government, elected by the people of this great nation! That Senator represents the finest flower of American democracy in action, and he needs to be respected! Sure, it sometimes happens a man like him gets a little careless, breaks a few rules, but there are procedures for handling that! He'll be reported to a Senate committee, there'll be an investigation, a full investigation, mind you, and then a report will be drawn up in highly incomprehensible language and buried somewhere in the Congressional Record. That's the way our American system works!

DIRECTOR
But you have to understand, the Senator's character is a necessary part of the dramatic action.

SENATOR HUM
Action? Who said there was supposed to be any action up here? You're all artists, your job is to get out of the way and make your art, and leave the action up to people who got the balls to act--namely, us politicians. And that art had better show the bright side of things, too, and not just the dirt. What this country needs is clean art, something that'll show people how good things are! Something instructive, educational! Take me, for instance. You could do a play about me and my office, me and my committees, how we help stamp out vice and corruption--

JOHN DOE
He's right, he is absolutely right! Have you ever been to this man's office? I have been to this man's office! What an experience! Directives being directed, circulars being circulated, cost-cutting measures cutting things to pieces, paperwork sitting there for years in perfect order. It's a real little sinkhole of democracy in action!

DIRECTOR
But look, there are certain rules of play construction that we--

SENATOR HUM
(angry) You got Federal money here, don't you, boy? Then you're gonna have to follow a few Federal rules, or else we're gonna bust your little play-party here wide open and run your artistic ass up the nearest flagpole! (To MISSY) Miss Missy, don't you translate that part for your little whatever-he-is...

MISSY
Who, my little Hammy-yammy? Don't worry about him. He had a frozen Margarita at dinner and he hasn't thawed out yet.

SENATOR HUM
And look who you're trying to pass off as a hero! Some egg-head scientist wouldn't know a greenback dollar if it bit him in the butt! It's people like him get this country in trouble with their inventions, trying to go against God's own law! It's not natural to travel through time! The good Lord wants us to travel through space! That's why he gave us the automobile!

JIM JETTISON
You said it, Senator, you said it indeed! It's the automobile makes America what it is! It's our cars that make us movers and shakers!

MARVIN MILKEM
Right! Good old American get up and go! I represent a California corporation, and we're trying to carry that message to the rest of the country, but some of them keep resisting. Why, you go up to some of those Northwest places, they got acres of empty land just crying out to be high-rised, and those people just sit around on it one or two to an acre, and do nothing but dream!

SENATOR HUM
Right! What this country needs is doers, not dreamers!

DIRECTOR
What this country needs, Senator, frankly, is somebody who can balance a budget! Look, ladies and gentlemen, I don't think you really understand what it is artists are trying to do. We all love this country, and we want to help make it a better place to live!

MISSY
What's the matter with the way it is now?

DIRECTOR
Nothing! But we want it to be better! We want people to come see this play and wake up! Go out and get active, start trying to change things! That's democracy in action!

SENATOR HUM
And I'm telling you the government of this United States doesn't want people changing things! What needs changing? It was all right for Ronald Reagan, and it's all right for us! And don't kid yourself, sonny boy! You're no artist, you're in show business! Plain old American show business! Don't give me this art shit!

MISSY
He's right, honey! You want art, you go to a museum. When I go to a show, I want to have a good time! If you want to show us real life, how about putting on Cats?

MILKEM
She's right! You're putting on a show to amuse people, they've all had a hard day's work, they don't want nothing serious, they want to relax and have a good time. I don't go to the theater to wake up!

DIRECTOR
Well of course we want people to have a good time! But we're a serious theater, we want to do serious plays too! We do Shakespeare, for instance!

SENATOR HUM
Shakespeare's fine, son, you do all the Shakespeare you want! Shakespeare never woke me up yet! (He laughs, the others echo his laugh)

MISSY
Maybe the theater is supposed to show us life. Well, what we want to see is a nice life, lived by nice people who wear nice clothes and live in beautiful homes with nice furniture.

JIM
Yeah, and... you know... some nice girls too! Or maybe even some girls who weren't so nice--

MISSY
As long as they turned out nice in the end!

JIM
Yeah, I go for that part! Nice in the end!

SENATOR HUM
Now wait a minute, wait a minute, we don't want any sex mixed up in all this--

JOHN DOE
Why don't you try putting on a ballet? Have you ever been to the ballet? I've been to the ballet! What an experience! Little civic ballet company we've got back home in Plain City, always gets a nice big grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Lots of nice girls, and no sex! I saw Swan Lake, and Les Syphilitics--

DIRECTOR
Don't you mean. Les Sylphides?

JOHN DOE
Exactly, that's what I mean, Les Sylphilitics. lots of real nice girls dancing around dressed up like fairies--

SENATOR HUM
Like fairies? Now hold on, by God, that's just the sort of thing we want to get rid of! Too many fairies in the theater already!

DIRECTOR
(Militant) Wait a minute! You watch that stuff! The word is gay, and don't you ever forget it! (Pause; he calms down) OK, look, I think I'm beginning to get a feeling for the kind of stuff you want. Singing, dancing. A musical. Well, why not? We could do that. That's the beauty of theater, you know, anything's possible! Would that interest you, a musical?

SENATOR HUM
That's the ticket! Something wholesome and patriotic! Me and the missus saw something like that at Disney World last time I was down home--

DIRECTOR
Exactly, that's just what we had in mind! Something like, oh, I don't know, say... Mickey Mouse explains the Bill of Rights! (He claps his hands) All right, everybody, listen up now, we're going to be doing a little improv for our guests here, maybe with a few little songs, and let's call it "Democracy in Action."

OK now. Let's have this group over here, you be the Disney characters, representing all that's best about America. Let's start with Donald Duck and Goofy, you two will be the President and Vice-President of the United States. Donald, you're the President, you sit over here and do nothing. Goofy, you're the Vice-President, you're the President's emissary, you go and carry democracy to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Ok, so this other group over here, you're the huddled masses. Huddle, OK? In oppressed attitudes. You'll be the victims of Marxist Communist regimes. Come on, I want to see suffering on your faces. Good. Now, here comes Vice-President Goofy... Go on, Mr. Vice-President, give 'em some democracy! Yeah, harder! Dammit, you downtrodden, look grateful when the Vice-President speaks to you! OK, you men over here, you're going to be the evil empires. You with the boots, you be Soviet Russia, you be China, and you, you're a little darker than the rest, you be the Sandinistas--

SENATOR HUM
Hold on a minute! Hold it, right there! That Commie stuff won't fly any more. Communists, Russians, Sandinistas, that was last year's threat! Don't you people read the papers? There are new evil empires threatening America, this time from within! This year it's Sex! Drugs! Rock and Roll! Porno photographers! Homo art! You people want to show us real life, you gotta keep up with the times!

DIRECTOR
So what do you suggest we do?

SENATOR HUM
Well, son, use your imagination. How about the Disney people cleaning up America?

DIRECTOR
OK, OK, I get it. American triumphant over her domestic enemies. So this group over here, you represent the Youth of America. Good. Try to look innocent. Now let's have a trio over here... you, the guy with the long hair, you be a heavy metal hippie. And you, you be a homo environmentalist artist. And you be a pacifist crack dealer. Good. Now let's see you people try to corrupt some youth or something. OK now, you Youth, I want you to look scared but determined. Close ranks, Just Say No, sing the Star-spangled Banner whenever they come near you. Very good. Now, here's the big finale number. Here's where we introduce our stars, Mickey and Minnie. Minnie, you'll be Miss Liberty. Raise your arm. Like that. Good. Mickey, you'll be-- no, wait. I've got a better idea. This is the really dramatic part, so we want a little realism here. We'll have Mickey Mouse representing the homeless poor, and we'll have you in rags, or no, better yet, naked, crawling toward Miss Minnie Liberty, who will be reciting "Give me your tired, your poor--"

SENATOR HUM
Wait a minute! Wait just a little minute here! You can't show Mickey Mouse naked! That's full frontal nudity! You'd see... you know... you know... what do you call 'em... you know, his little dangles. His genitalia!

DIRECTOR
But it's only Mouse genitalia!

SENATOR HUM
Genitalia is genitalia!

DIRECTOR
But they're tiny, mouse genitalia, you can barely make them out beyond the fourth row!

SENATOR HUM
I said no genitalia! Genitalia is what got this country into the sorry state it's in at the moment!

DIRECTOR
OK, OK, no genitalia. Mickey, put your pants back on. And your gloves! Right. OK, everybody, here we go, everybody take a grateful pose, big tableau! Lights up on the Statue of Liberty! Helicopters circle overhead! Music swells! Grand finale!

SENATOR HUM
No, son, no, you just don't get it. How long you been at this? I've learned more about show business in thirty years in the Senate than any of you piss-ant players will ever know! Come on, you want a grand finale, give us a grand finale! How about a book-burning?

DIRECTOR
(aghast) A what?

SENATOR HUM
A bonfire, you know, with books! They got all them dirty books out there everywhere you look, OK! Rake 'em all together, set 'em on fire!

DIRECTOR
What dirty books?

SENATOR HUM
How the hell should I know? I don't read books! Call up the Christians for Democracy, or Harwell's group, or the FFF--

DIRECTOR
The who?

SENATOR HUM
FFF. the Flag and Fetus Faction. All those Christian organizations been collecting dirty books for years.

DIRECTOR
(dazed) Well OK... Mickey Mouse, start piling up those books... Minnie, you give him a hand... Goofy, Donald, let's go, everybody...

MISSY
Don't forget Catcher in the Rye! I just hate Catcher in the Rye!

JOHN DOE
And Huck Finn! We don't want people getting a wrong idea about black people in America!

DIRECTOR
OK, there they all go...

(JOHN DOE, MISSY, MILKEM, JETTISON all hum part of the Star-spangled Banner very softly, as the fire dies down)

SENATOR HUM
Wonderful! That's great, son, just great! Now this is real art, none of that elitist bull-pockey you usually have to put up with. Why, even I can understand this stuff. And if I can understand something, then that's what I call democracy.

JOHN DOE
Absolutely positively! What an experience! Is there a phone around here? I've got to call-- oh, just anybody! I've got to share this moment of spiritual uplift! Young Jim, can't the press get involved in this?

JIM
I can see the headlines now: "Wake up, America! Art for the masses is healthy once again! You can now expose even little children to art!"

SENATOR HUM
That's the ticket! (to the DIRECTOR) Now, son, why would a man with your kind of talent want to waste his time on, what do you call 'em, social concerns? Bad enough the newspapers are always talking about 'em. Forget about all this inventor stuff, that time machine, just put your Senator character up there next to Mickey Mouse, burn a few books, and you've got yourself a show! Well, time for us to get back to the real world. You're doing fine, son, just fine. I don't think you'll have any more trouble getting grants from the government—not this man's government, anyway. Come on, boys, let's go. You too, Miss Missy.

JOHN DOE
Goodbye, goodbye, thank you, thank you! Say, by the way, what's the name of that little actress over there? She certainly has enormous... talent. Young Jim, can't the press get involved in this? See if you can get her telephone number, will you?

JIM
No problem! Numbers are my specialty!

(Enter BILLY BIKER from the house)

BIKER
Senator Hum! Senator Hum! I've got to talk to Senator Hum! This is important! Senator Hum!

SENATOR HUM
Hmm! Who's making all that racket? Who's he looking for? Somebody named Senator Hum? I believe he's offstage at the moment.

BIKER
But we've had a message from the Future! In a Time Machine! And you're going to let it fall into the hands of industrialists and developers who want to use it for their own selfish ends!

MARVIN MILKEM
Now wait just a minute! Industrial development is pure democracy in action, by God, and if you don't like it, you Commie character, we'll have you translated back into Russian where you came from!

DIRECTOR
(aside to BIKER) Billy, come on, relax! He's not the same as the Senator in the play, he just looks like him! Only I don't want him to know that.

SENATOR HUM
My friends, It's time for me to go. I want to thank you all for your time and effort, and I'm glad to see that my presence here today has helped you to see what theater really can be. Your serious theater, now, your theater as art, that's all wrong. You were trying to--what was it you said? Wake people up? Frankly, my friends, I don't think that's too good an idea. No need for any kind of call to action. You leave the action to us. Just let the American people sit back and relax. Give 'em a good show. And forget about art. Art is just so much mouse genitalia.

(SENATOR HUM, MISSY, YAMARAMA, JOHN DOE, MARVIN MILKEM, and JIM JETTISON all exit up the aisles of the theater.)

DIRECTOR
(to BIKER) Come on, Billy, lighten up. Everything will turn out all right by the end of the play. OK, everybody, let's get on with the show! Set up for Bathtub. Act Five!


CURTAIN

ACT FIVE


(The reception room of Senator Hum's office. The room is in disorder. A large sign says: TIME TRANSPORT HEADQUARTERS. JOHN DOE waits in line. ROGER RODD is still in charge of the office. Enter SENATOR HUM, with an anxious look)

RODD
May I help you?

SENATOR HUM
Help me? Roger boy, it's me! What the Sam Hill is going on around here?

RODD
You promised to do what you could, Senator, and the Woman from the Future took you at your word. Your office is now Time Transport Headquarters.

SENATOR HUM
Is she in there?

RODD
Affirmative. And so are half the staffers on the Hill.

SENATOR HUM
Staffers? In my office?! I'm going in and give that glow-in-the-dark girlie a piece of my mind!

RODD
Negative to that, Senator. The line forms to the right.

SENATOR HUM
This is my own office, goddamit! I want to see that woman right this minute!

RODD
"This minute" is a whole new ball game now, Senator. We're on her time now, we're on her team, and we play by her rules. You take a place in line, she'll see you whatever minute she wants to.

SENATOR HUM
But I've got to get this time thing straightened out before we take off! We've got to negotiate contracts for serial and subsidiary rights, you know, "Time" the book, then "Time" the mini-series, maybe something in "Time" the magazine...

RODD
Senator, I've said this before, and I hope I don't have to say it again: this office is part of the long arm of the United States government, we cannot afford to get bogged down in day-to-day diddly. We have to keep our sights trained on the fundamentalist issues. And those issues are sound bites, subsidies, and seniority. That's democracy in action. Now if you don't mind, the line forms to the right.

SENATOR HUM
I'll be damned if I'll get in line in my own office!

RODD
Senator, be thankful the line forms to the right and not to the left.

JOHN DOE
Have you ever been in line? I'm in line now! I've never been-- in line before! (pause) It's not much of an experience.

(Meanwhile, in the Senator's private office, a crowd has gathered. Laughter, sounds of joyous anticipation. The PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN is about to make a speech)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
My darlings, my darlings,
let me put it to you plainly:
we are almost out of time.
I have come to repair the gap
that keeps us apart.
You are my past, and I am your Future.

I am also, my darlings,
your last resort,
the end of your line,
your only hope.

I am your wit's end,
your ne plus ultra.
the end of your rope.

I am all she wrote,
so listen to me carefully.

For years we have longed to transform history,
to go backwards in time and to fix things,
to bandage the broken parts of the Earth.
But that was possible only with you, my darlings.

We can undo the Past
only when the Present
calls out to the Future.

Your machine was your call.
And I, my dears--
I am your joyful answer.

BIKER
But how did you know where to find us?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Our scholars discovered reports of your work,
lost in our archives.
They began to watch over you,
traced your experiments, even
corrected your calculations.

HARRY
And I never knew it!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
No, you never knew it.
But together we moved,
your people and ours,
two teams tunnelling
a pathway through time.
And at last we meet,
in the here and now.
It is your "here," my darlings, your "now"--
and it makes me cry.

UNDERTOW
But why?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
The sadness I feel!
to see the dark boxes
you call your homes,
to breathe the thick poison
you call your air,
to hear the harsh noises
of your million machines,
that drown the sweet music
of heavenly spheres.

The dying dwellers of far-off stars
weep at their telescopes,
as they watch you destroy
your miraculous trees, the only
true owners of Planet Earth.

HANK
But what can we do?

FRANK
Can you help us?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
I've been sent to bring some of you
forward in time, to show you what happened.
We want you to see the final results
of the way you live now.
We will teach you to change it.
Then we will transport you
back to the present,
carrying with you the knowledge you need
to avert the slow death of this Earth.

We will give you, my darlings,
believe me,
world enough, and time.

BIKER
That's good to hear, my phosphorescent friend, and we'd be pleased to go. But don't you think some of us should stay behind, to get our house in order here before we head off to the future?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Remember, your house is our house too.
No, you are the very people we need.

FOSTER
Well, we're very grateful...

FRANK
and that's all good to know...

HANK
and thanks a lot...

BIKER
and I don't want to interrupt, but our time is really running short...

HARRY
and the time machine still needs work! I need your help to make final arrangements for the time-transfer. What year are we headed for, and what speed settings should I use?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Set out for eternity, at the speed of a second, and bring us to the year 2090!

HARRY
And what's our destination?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Our destination? Clarity! Here in the present, nothing is clear. But the past is an open book, and to us, you are the past. We want to help you to see yourselves as we see you.

BIKER
And who'll make the journey?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
That remains to be seen. Who wants to come?

FOSTER
Me!

FRANK
Me!

HANK
Me!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Good! We need strong, dedicated workers! What about people with advanced degrees, for management positions?

FOSTER
Me!

FRANK
Me!

HANK
Me!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
What? Working men for management positions?

BIKER
(He laughs) Who says you need an advanced degree for a management position?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Bravo! I see that I've found the right people!
Iconoclastic thinking is just what we prize
in our own time. You'll fit right in!

PAMELA MAE
But why such a hurry? Why do you have to leave now?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
The situation is finally crucial!
we can no longer leave it to chance,
or to your present government,
which cannot even balance its books!

FOSTER
But won't we ever return? We all have lives here!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Of course you'll return!
You will come back as heroes,
and take your places again
here with your fellows,
a team of salvation workers.
We will call you Futurians,
disciples of the future!

FRANK
Futurians! All right!

HANK
Yeah!

BIKER
Wow!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Remember:
there is a Government of Planet Earth,
and we are it.
All of us!

(They all burst out cheering)

HARRY
OK, boys, you heard the lady. Let's go!

(Meanwhile, back in the outer reception room...)

SENATOR HUM
This is the damnedest business I ever saw! Some two-bit little inventor comes up with a time machine, and uses that as an excuse to get in with this broad, whoever she is, this travelling time-bomb with boobs, this lady with the lip. By god, I'm not sure what we're seeing here isn't just a plain old-fashioned break-down of moral order! I smell sex! There's some kind of futuristic fornication going on here between her and that inventor, I know it! You see what always happens? Give a woman a little authority and she'll turn a man into a sex object!

RODD
I don't think sex is what she's got on her mind, Senator.

SENATOR HUM
Roger, there's only two things people ever got on their minds: money and sex. You put those two things together, you got a winner. Why, I found out some-two bit museum got a few thousand government bucks for some art grant, and hung up a couple of dirty pictures with it. Well! I got right into the headlines with that one! And I got the whole country in an uproar about money and sex. You think people are gonna notice that a bunch of Western bankers ran off with billions of government bucks? Hell no, they're all too busy thinking about those dirty pictures! (beat) You know me, Roger, I hate sex as much as the next man, but it's the one thing that'll get you the headlines.

RODD
You play a slick game, Senator, I'll say that for you. I just hope for your sake you've got your paper shredded.

SENATOR HUM
Hell, boy, there's nobody can touch me. Those people out there, they don't think of me as Hamfat Hum, the man who slushed enough Federal highway funds into his home state to pave the Okeefenokee. They think of me as Hamfat Hum, the man with enough balls to stand up to the homo artists of America! (Pause) Only I tell you, this woman has me worried. Technology is a big attention-grabber. I'm damn well going along on this little picnic of hers, and I'm damn well going to be in charge, and there are a lot of details that haven't been discussed yet.

RODD
Senator, with all due respect, no determination has yet been made in regard to your go-along on this time-probe.

SENATOR HUM
What do you mean, no determination has been made? I made plenty of determinations myself this very morning, and--

RODD
Senator, I'll give it to you straight: this thing has gotten too big for either of us to handle. NASA and the fly-boys are now in the big picture, and I don't mind telling you when they get on board, the light goes out at the end of the tunnel. As I'm sure you know.

SENATOR HUM
NASA? The Air Force? Roger boy, don't go over my head! This is still just an arrangement between you and me! I trust you, boy! Just like I always have!

RODD
Sorry, Senator. I've had my orders.

SENATOR HUM
Orders from who?

RODD
From the little lady in the inside office.

SENATOR HUM
Roger, that's my office!

RODD
Not any more, Senator. Senators come and go. An office is forever. I work for whoever's in there. It's not my business how they got there.

(Meanwhile, back in the private office...)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
My darlings, it's time to--

PAMELA MAE
Excuse me, could I ask a question? Excuse me for interrupting, I'm not asking for any favors, about going on the time-trip, I mean. That would be a laugh, wouldn't it? But can you tell us a little about democracy in action? Do you have it in the future? The Senator is always talking about it, but it's funny, I can never figure out what he means.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Why, this is democracy in action! All of us preparing to work together to save the Earth! To secure a future for you and your loved ones!

PAMELA MAE
Me and my loved ones? That isn't funny. (Pause) I don't... I don't have a family, actually. I... well, the thing is, I can't have children, and my husband says it's ruining his career. He says a Senator's children are worth five thousand votes apiece.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
But surely you and your husband share other things, mutual interests...

PAMELA MAE
That's a laugh. He isn't interested in mutual interests, he's only interested in mutual funds.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Still, he's a Senator, he must be a good provider, isn't he?

PAMELA MAE
That's a laugh. I haven't had a new dress in years. He says if we dress like we have money, people will wonder where we got it.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Then why don't you get a divorce?

PAMELA MAE
Because a divorce is no laughing matter! A divorce would ruin his career. All his main supporters are members of the Faith, Farm, and Family Federation. Also the Flag and Fetus Faction. And he himself is honorary president of the Fertile Fathers of America. So you can see why he doesn't want to.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
I do see. Still, it may be his career... but it's your life, isn't it?

PAMELA MAE
I just don't know any more. I promised to love, honor, and obey, and I try to keep my promises.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
But he made the same promises, didn't he? Does he try to keep his?

PAMELA MAE
No... not any more. (Pause) I feel so alone! Believe me, life with him is no joke. (She starts to exit)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
I'm not laughing.

(Lights fade on the office, come up on the reception room as PAMELA MAE crosses from one to the other)

SENATOR HUM
Pamela Mae? What the hell are you doing here, woman? You trying to ruin my time-travel plans, too?

PAMELA MAE
Your plans? What about my plans? I'm beginning to want some plans of my own!.

SENATOR HUM
I hope to God you did your wifely duty, Pamela Mae. Told her we were a model couple, married all this time, fighting the good fight side by side. Did you let her know it's your fault we don't have any children? And did you tell her about your miscarriages? Women always sympathize when they hear something like that. Did that soften her up?

PAMELA MAE
A model couple? Side by side? What a laugh! I'm fed up with all this pretending! Trying to make the public and the press believe we lead such good Christian lives, when the fact is that--

SENATOR HUM
Now look, Pamela Mae, if you went and compromised me... I am a member of the Senate of the United States of America, and there are vital government interests who damn well want me to go along on this time-travel trip, so if you went washing any of our dirty linen in public... And that's another thing. You make sure I've got plenty of clean shirts for the trip. Now git! Git on back home when I tell you, or else...

PAMELA MAE
Or else what? You make me laugh!

SENATOR HUM
This is no joke!

(Meanwhile, back in the private office...)

UNDERTOW
Excuse me, please. What about me? Can someone like me go along on the trip to the Future?

HOTCHKISS
And how about me? Can I go too?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Who are you?

HOTCHKISS
I'm Hotchkiss, the committee comptroller. Or I used to be. I got sick of the kind of slush fund operation he had me running, and I was about to blow the whistle on him.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Blow the whistle?

HOTCHKISS
Turn him in. And myself too. I was a little afraid, because I'd gotten in over my head, but I just couldn't go on any more the way I was, and I was willing to face the consequences.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Facing the consequences means accepting the future! That makes you one of us already! (to UNDERTOW) And what about you?

UNDERTOW
I'm the Senator's secretary. At least, I used to be.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
What happened?

UNDERTOW
They fired me.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
What for?

UNDERTOW
He said my skirt was too short.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Who said?

UNDERTOW
The Senator.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Too short for what?

UNDERTOW
Too short for his constituents.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Why, were they going to wear it?

UNDERTOW
No. He meant it wouldn't look... right, or something.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Is that all you did?

UNDERTOW
Of course not. I did all the office work around here.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Are you a good office worker?

UNDERTOW
The best!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Then why did they fire you?

UNDERTOW
I told you, because my skirt was too short!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
But what does your skirt have to do with your work?

UNDERTOW
Nothing! But they say it interferes with their work.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Whose work?

UNDERTOW
The men. Especially the Senator.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
But I don't understand. If you're wearing the skirt, how can it interfere with their work?

UNDERTOW
Boy, things sure must be gonna change in the next hundred years! Look, try to see it my way, will you? I didn't want to cause any trouble, and I sure needed the job, but I don't see why I can't wear what I want to! I'm not all that pretty, I can't afford Vogue magazine clothes, but at least I've got good legs, and I like to feel the wind on my legs when I walk. I don't know why men always have to come on to you like leeches anyway. If the men aren't like that where you come from, please take me with you! I sure would love to go.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
I think perhaps you should go...

UNDERTOW
Oh, thank you! I could be useful on the trip, do some office work, you know, filing, shredding, whatever...

HOTCHKISS
And I could be useful on the trip too, balance your books, show profit.... or loss, whatever looks better on your tax forms. And I promise I'll report to the Agency in future; maybe by then the statute of limitations will have run out...

(Lights down on the interior office, up on the reception room)

SENATOR HUM
Roger boy, I don't know what's come over you! ^ want this down on the record, goddamit! The chain of command is being violated right and left, seniority seems to mean nothing, godless elements seem to be in charge all of a sudden, and this whole expedition could end in disaster. Damn well will, too.

RODD
If there's a disaster there will be an investigation, Senator. That's the American way. But Senator, I've said this before, and I hope I don't have to say it again: this office is part of the long arm of the United States government. Don't come bothering us with--

SENATOR HUM
I know, Roger, I know. But it hurts me, boy, to have you think of me as day-to-day diddly.

(Enter UNDERTOW and HOTCHKISS from the inner office)

SENATOR HUM
Undertow! Hotchkiss! I thought I fired you! And you, I want you arrested! Well, never mind, as long as you're both still here you can put some new paperwork in the pipeline for me. I need travel and per diem forms made out for a hundred years. And I want the cash up front.

UNDERTOW
You can count me out, Senator. I've had a better offer!

SENATOR HUM
Undertow! Who's going to take care of the paperwork? Goddam amateurs think you can go to the moon without paperwork; everybody knows without the right paperwork you can't get off the ground.

HOTCHKISS
And everyone knows without the right paperwork, you can't get off the pot!

(HOTCHKISS and UNDERTOW leave)

JOHN DOE
Pot? Have you ever gone to pot? I've never gone to pot. It must be an exciting experience!

(Enter MISSY and YAMARAMA, in high spirits)

YAMARAMA
Hee! Hee! Multimulti mini many! Orso who wanna watcha watcha many mini moo? (he gooses MISSY)

MISSY
Oh. s'il vous plait, honey, s'il vous plait!

YAMARAMA
Missymany motorama reedee otoreedy, onawanna maka bigga bucka!

MISSY
Mr. Yamarama wants to say that he is completely in favor of your little expedition! As soon as he heard about it, he spread the news that clocks and watches were obsolete, then bought them all up at reduced prices, then sold them all to the Pentagon as the latest thing in Japanese computer systems. He says he is now a firm believer in democracy in action.

SENATOR HUM
All right, all right, that's it! You're all crazy! This whole scheme is out of control. I'm through. I'll retire, I don't care any more. Anything they want to know about me they can learn from my memoirs. I'm leaving, and you can all go to hell.

(Enter THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN)

RODD
Office hours are over! Come back tomorrow, those are the rules!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Tomorrow? Rules? What rules?

RODD
Oh, it's you, lady. Sorry!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
The rules are changing all the time. Time changes everything.

SENATOR HUM
Excuse me, excuse me, hello again, dear lady, hello again! I hope you'll excuse my being a little late, but I did want to give you a moment of my time--of course you have a lot more moments of time than I do, ha-ha, but I want to let you know that at first I refused to go. I won't go, I said, I have my constituents to think about. But then I got a call from the White House saying they'd feel better about the future of the country if they knew I was already in it. Well, once the man in the White House finds words to put a sentence together, I have only one answer. I'll go. But I want you to know that I'm an elected official of the most august body in the land, so I expect to be treated the way I deserve.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
The future always treats people
the way they deserve.
But frankly, friend, I'm only an emissary,
sent to persuade you to action.
I'm not in charge of anything.

SENATOR HUM
Oh, undercover, eh? Don't worry, I know all about covert operations. I've covered up a lot of dirt in my time. Rodd here can fill you in on my fallout. I can give you the low-down on the higher-ups. In fact, I feel it's my duty to let you know that some of the people you've become associated here... well, they're not red-blooded, lily-white, true-blue team players. That Biker, for instance. He smokes, you know that? Talks about clean air and then he smokes. And Harry Stranger, that inventor, he drinks. Well, you can tell his crazy-ass ideas come from the bottle, can't you?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
What business is it of yours? They still do their jobs, don't they?

SENATOR HUM
Well, I still do my job! I work, by God! I work my butt to bunions! But I don't smoke, and I don't drink, I lead a good clean Christian life. Unlike some others I could name, (beat) Take my wife, for example. Now I don't want to say anything bad about her, don't shit in your nest, I always say, but any good investigation would turn it up, and I can tell you got a good one, what with time machineing and everything. Now, as I say, the fact is, that woman has not been faithful to her Christian duties as a wife. In fact, she has been downright unfaithful. Of course I don't—

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Don't, don't, don't, that's all you ever say. Isn't there something you do, do, do?

SENATOR HUM
Do, do, do? Damn right I do! (beat) What I do is, I take care of a bunch of folks the rest of you don't even know exist!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Who do you mean?

SENATOR HUM
I mean I take care of my home folks! I come from a poor state! The people back there need help! And if I also help myself a little, take some of the cash people are always handing around here in Washington, well, I'm just trying to make up for the past. I was poor once myself.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
But America is so rich! Isn't there enough for all to share?

SENATOR HUM
You ever see a share-cropper's share? It ain't much.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
No, you're right. It isn't much.

SENATOR HUM
Well, all right, then!. I tell you, maybe I took what I could get my hands on, but I always got something for my homefolks. We may not have a lot of starving artists down where I come from, but at least I make sure we don't have any starving farmers. These goddam Easterners think we need art--you ever try to eat art?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
But art feeds the soul, not the body!

SENATOR HUM
Try telling that to a man eating mush. People who sweat a lot to get what they got, they get afraid! So I watch out for 'em! You probably don't know this where you come from, but the fact is, America is surrounded on all sides by godless foreigners trying to get in and take over. Thank God they're all different colors, that's how you can tell 'em when you see 'em coming. They're dangerous and they play loud music and talk funny, and most of them dance all the time. That's how you can track them down, by their soul-destroying dances. Your godless communists, now, they're more difficult because they can be the same color. Of course your worst threat of all is your godless homos. They dance all the time! The thing about them is, you can never tell when you've got one, they blend in so easily. Why, I've had friends who actually raised one in the bosom of
their own family! They thought he was their son, but it turned out he was a homo all the time. They should have known, though. He always wanted to be an artist.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Why are you so afraid of artists?

SENATOR HUM
I'm not afraid of artists! I just plain don't like artists! (beat) You ever have one of these Eastern art types treat you like dirt just because you still got a little of it under your fingernails?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
That's not the point! We may all have different jobs, but we're all human beings! A farmer is no better than an artist, as long as they're both honest workers! And they both have to trust in the future. A farmer trusts her crops will grow, an artist trusts his art will help others grow.

SENATOR HUM
That's easy for you to say, the future, the future! That's all you ever talk about! Let me tell you something, lady, when you don't even have a present, you don't have the luxury of trusting in a future. All I know about the future is, I'm gonna have enough stashed away so I don't wind up on a dirt farm! And the hell with anybody else!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
(Pause; she looks at him) You've lost me, my friend. And I've lost you. I can't understand a thing you're saying.


CURTAIN


ACT SIX


(Back in HARRY STRANGER'S basement laboratory. HARRY, BIKER, FOSTER, and FRANK are fiddling with the invisible time machine. THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN checks the machine against a blueprint. HANK stands guard at the door.)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Foster, dear, you've been more than careful. These windshields are much too heavy. You Americans think speeding through time is like speeding through space on one of your super highways! But the winding roads of time have gentle breezes.

FOSTER
Whatever you say, lady. We do have some lighter ones. They're shatterproof, anyway.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
And Frank, darling, check the springs, will you? Time does have some variables, after all. Weekdays are perfectly flat, but we don't want the pot-holes of holiday weekends slowing us down!

FRANK
It'll be smooth sailing from here to eternity, just you wait and see!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Biker, you'll be in charge of passenger safety. Keep a close eye on this gauge, it measures positive commitment and sincerity. If anyone is unfit for the Future, they'll be automatically jettisoned just as the Time Machine crosses over from today into tomorrow.

BIKER
Don't worry, lady, you've got Billy Biker at the helm!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Well, Harry, What do you think? Are we ready to go?

HARRY
Ready to roar! And thanks for all your help! Just let me mark off the essential space, then we can let everybody in! There! Now we're ready!

BIKER
OK, Hank, let 'em all come in now!

(From everywhere a crowd of passengers enters, carrying banners and singing.

(ROGER RODD slips out of the crowd and addresses HARRY STRANGER)

RODD
Look, Stranger, I'm going to say this once and I don't want to be misunderstood. There are no regulations in existence governing this whole cockeyed maneuver, no directives issued, no classifications assigned, no way to know what agency is in charge here. Speaking in a nutshell, there's no big picture. But I want you to know that when I was born American I put in for the whole can of worms, and I don't intend to quit now. I'm going along, and you can count on me. Now, Where's your crypto-code control center?

HARRY
The machine is it's own control! The passengers are its center! All Futurians stand equal, shoulder to shoulder!

(Enter the SENATOR and MISSY, arm in arm, YAMARAMA, JOHN DOE)

SENATOR HUM
We're here. You can tell them all systems go.

JOHN DOE
Hello, hello again! Glad I could make it, glad to see everybody with your shoulder to the wheel! Have you ever been to the future? I'm going to the future! What an experience! Is there a telephone onboard? I'll just make a few calls, let them all know that democracy is in action!

YAMARAMA
Seema seema maya maya, howa bakabundle! You no wanna wanna hooha?

MISSY
Mr. Yamarama says, he's just dying to go along; he wants to expand his operations into the future as long as it's profitable, and if democracy in action is the only way to do it, that's fine with him.

SENATOR HUM
(to FRANK) You there, boy! You're one of the crew? Glad to know you, son. You're the kind of clear-eyed, clean-cut youth this country needs. I know I can trust you. My bags are outside the door. Make sure they get loaded, will you? And be careful! Official documents! Classified information! All right, who's in charge of seating arrangements? How do I get to first-class?

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
I'm afraid this model is only a prototype, it isn't quite equipped for luxury travel yet. You'll just have to stand here like everybody else.

SENATOR HUM
Stand? Is this someone's idea of a joke? Doesn't seniority count for anything around here? If this is the way I'm going to be treated, I won't go! Where are my things?

(FRANK returns pushing a hand truck loaded with suitcases, bundles of paper, hat boxes, hunting rifles, golf clubs, MISSY's large Vuitton steamer trunk, and four Irish setters, on at each corner of the truck. Behind the truck comes the photographer BELLEVUE, carrying a bag, his camera, and some stand lights.)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
What is this, a bargain basement?

RODD
Just staff supplies. You're unprepared for the logistical give-and-take of Washington, D.C., I can respect that. But a chairman never travels without his paperwork and a photographer.

MISSY
And I don't intend to go without my entire wardrobe! Who knows what the fashions will be when we get there!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
You can't get to the future if you're carrying too much of the past. I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave it all behind.

RODD
Negative on the impedimenta, Senator. You too, ma'am.

MISSY
Well, I never!!

SENATOR HUM
Hasn't anyone around here ever heard of Senatorial privilege? I can't stop
my paperwork in mid-stream!
I have bills and amendments and rules and reports,
and hand-outs and memos on lawsuits and torts,
and IDs and CDs and convertible notes
and records of just how the other side votes,
and-- my bound volumes of the Congressional Record for the last thirty years! I need it all! Just suppose we find sin and corruption in the future? With this we'll have all we need to get a crusade going, on an interplanetary scale!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Oh, all right, we can always recycle the paper once we arrive. Just remember: the Time Machine will jettison anyone unfit for the Future!

SENATOR HUM
(grumbling) Say, I don't think this little light-up lady has a good grip on the facts of life yet! Give me a little room, you people! Unload this stuff over here. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Where's my briefcase? The calfskin one with the monogram and the money in it? Roger, what happened to the football? Go get it! I'm holding the take-off until we get that thing aboard!

(PAMELA MAE hurries in with the briefcase)

PAMELA MAE
Calm down, calm down, here's your briefcase. I found it when I was cleaning, and I thought, well, maybe he needs it, maybe it's important, so I brought it for you. Here. No joke. (she gives the SENATOR the briefcase)

SENATOR HUM
Thank you. I'll take the briefcase, and I'll take your explanation under advisement. (Pause) Well, this is goodbye, Pamela Mae. When I get set up in the future, I'll see if I can... well, I'll see if I can't send you a little something. Goodbye, now. Go on. Goodbye.

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
Just a moment, Senator. This woman is going along. She is one of our leading Futurians.

SENATOR HUM
A Futurian! My little Pammie Mae?!

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
A Futurian! And so is Ms. Undertow here.

SENATOR HUM
Undertow! No! We can't set sail with those contraband thighs of yours! I want you off this time ship in no time! On second thought, Undertow, now that you're here, you might as well take a little dictation. I'm about to deliver my farewell address. You can take it down in shorthand.

BIKER
Look, Senator, we're too close to count-down! We haven't got time for speeches!

RODD
Negative, mister. We all need a little morale booster at moments like these. We've got a little departure ceremony planned. A salute to Democracy in Action. OK, Senator, the flag is down! Commence firing!

SENATOR HUM
(as if addressing the nation) My fellow Americans, the time has come... to recall that time had come... to a halt, if you will, in this project, and through my help has gotten moving again. My office was able to supply this time machine project with a lot of time... which we had on our hands. And it was free time, too. Didn't cost the taxpayers a cent. Of course, not all time is free. Time is like anything else, my friends: there's them that got and them that got not. When those who don't got get, we got to get a lot! Then there's always them that say: If you don't have a lot, go sweeten your pot! Then you say: "I ain't got a lot, but it's all that I got!" And-

VOICES
Time's up! Time limit! Time out! Turn off this guy's timer! Time limit! Time's up! Time out!

(HARRY turns an invisible valve and turns off the Senator. He keeps gesturing and mouthing words, but we hear nothing.)

RODD
I think maybe it's time for me to put in a word or two here. Senator, we've stood together for a long time against the forces of sin and subversion in these great United States, and since we all admire this latest maneuver of yours to keep time from catching up with you, I take pleasure in presenting you with this watch, a ticking time-piece to keep the future always in mind. It will always keep American time, no matter where you land.

VOICES
Time's up! Somebody punch his time card! Time limit! Time out! Out of time! Time's up!

(HARRY turns an invisible valve and turns off RODD. THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN holds out her hands to PAMELA MAE and to UNDERTOW.)

THE PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN
It's our time now.
Come, you two. In the world of the future,
women are first-class citizens.

We look for all those
whose love is life-giving,
whose care is life-saving,
those who can say: I am human,
and everything human is heaven to me.

Stand close together, Futurians!
Feel the warmth of your neighbors.
Stand close, let time embrace you.

You will come once again from the future
to make this radiant garden grow.

Our Planet Earth will gleam again,
the gentle jewel of the universe!

(The PHOSPHORESCENT WOMAN begins a count-down, the rest of the cast joins her gradually, so that "one" is shouted by everybody. They disappear in the darkness. Fireworks, an explosion. The March of Time swells, fades away. Darkness. Lights come up slowly on the SENATOR, MISSY, YAMARAMA, JOHN DOE, ROGER RODD, BELLEVUE and the luggage. They lie sprawled about, tossed by the infernal wheel of Time.)

RODD
What happened? Where are we? We're still here! We've been jettisoned! Everybody out, we're still here!

SENATOR HUM
Pamela Mae!!! Pammmie honey!!! Feel me all over, I think I broke something! Time has run me down! Where the hell is that woman, she's never around when you need her. What time is it, anyway? (He looks at his gift watch)

RODD
Looks like somebody just cleaned your clock, Senator. Future time doesn't seem to serve you well. You may well serve time in the future, if you're not careful. That pretty much prioritizes the return of that watch, doesn't it? (He takes it) We'll give it to another Senator. There's always another Senator, (he exits)

JOHN DOE
Is this supposed to be the future of technology? What an experience! We certainly broke a few eggs, but I don't think we made an omelet. Senator, this isn't the kind of leadership we've been expecting from you. I think it's about time the great American public knew what was going on, don't you agree? I'll just make a few calls to the right people. Is there a phone around here? (he exits)

SENATOR HUM
Photographer, now's your chance. You see before you a tragic image: the collapse of greatness, a man of genius brought down by the intrigues of the evil empire within. The light at the end of my tunnel is out.

PHOTOGRAPHER
Sorry, Senator, the angle's wrong. I have to look up to my models. I don't shoot low-down subject matter; that's what got that other photographer in trouble, (he exits)

SENATOR HUM
All right, if that's the way they want to play it, all right. Let them see what happens to the ship of state without me on board. I'll just retire
and write my memoirs. Miss Missy, honey, I'm all yours! Let's hit the beach at Acapulco! You can call me your Hammy-wammy!

MISSY
Senator, when I've been invited on a cruise, I expect the time of my life. You haven't even given me the time of day. So au revoir. honey, I'm going sailing with a man who knows how to show a girl a good time! Come on, my little Yammy-mammy!

YAMARAMA
Foodla racka sacka, want some seafooood, mama! (He exits arm in arm with MISSY)

SENATOR HUM
(alone on stage) What's this all supposed to mean? They don't want people like me in the future? (beat; chuckle) That's fine by me; I'm still right here in the present. You think you've seen the last of me? You can't get rid of me so easy; all I have to do is go back home and get myself re-elected. That's democracy in action, (beat) And once I'm back in office, we'll have another little book-burning. And the first thing we'll burn will be this little play.

____
Copyright (c) 1990 by Paul Schmidt
Reprinted by permission of Paul Schmidt and The Helen Merrill Agency

Librettist, translator, poet, teacher, and actor, Paul Schmidt became famous in many areas, particularly as a translator of Velemir Khlenikov, whose play, "Zangezi" was staged by Peter Sellars in 1986, and for the works of Anton Chekhov and Arthur Rimbaud. Working with the director Robert Wilson and composter Tom Waits, Schmidt also wrote the libretto for "Alice," an adaption of Lewis Carroll's to Alice books. For the Wooster Group's "Brace Up!," Schmidt supplied translation of Chekhov's Three Sisters, that incorporated dance, and video; he also acted the performance.

In 1989 Schmidt created a text for JoAnne Akalaitis' production at the Guthrie Theater of Jean Gener's 5 1/2 hour The Screens, incorporating over 100 characters.

For the Wooster Group's 1990 theater piece, "Brace Up!," Mr. Schmidt supplied a translation of Chekhov's Three Sisters that incorporated dance sequences and video, and he also appeared in the production. It was one of many small roles he played on the stage.

A collection of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell was published with photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1997. Schmidt died of AIDS in 1999, leaving behind his translations of the three Mayakovsky plays, which will be published by Green Integer.