PLAY #31: LAST WORDS (DEC 31)

The roof of an apartment building in Dublin.

Two lovers in their late twenties at a party on New Year’s Eve.

 

TOM

We’ll miss the big event.

 

FERDINAND

Hopefully.

 

TOM

God, even the smokers can’t be fucked coming up here it’s so cold.

(beat.)

So did you drag me out here to have your wicked way with me one last time in 2014?

 

FERDINAND

You should be so lucky.

(beat.)

I have to figure out my first words of the year.

 

TOM

How about ‘Happy New Year?’ Or ‘I love you, Tom.’ Or ‘Come here, you dirty fecker, and take off those jeans-’

 

FERDINAND

I’m serious. Every year, everybody says the same last words at the end of the year: ‘three two one.’ And then they start the next year with the same first word: ‘Happy.’

 

TOM

Better than ‘miserable.’ Or Auld Lang Syne. Same thing, really.

 

FERDINAND

It’s boring to say the same empty thing as everybody else on the planet. And terrible energy.

 

TOM

People do speak languages other than English, you know.

 

FERDINAND

It’s the sentiment that’s important, not the sounds. You have to embrace the changing of time with your intentions for the next year.

 

TOM

Am I going to wish I was more drunk for this conversation?

 

FERDINAND

I know that I want to say something about climate change.

 

TOM

Yes, the answer is always yes.

 

TOM takes a long slug from a beer bottle.

 

FERDINAND

The question is what. What specific intent do I have for the year?

 

TOM

So the idea is that you speak and something happens?

 

FERDINAND

(smiling)

Yeah. Just like God making the world, you know yourself.

 

TOM

Or Bruce Forsythe on The Generation Game.

 

FERDINAND

You’re not helping. This happens every year. I totally forget about it and then I panic and then I’m paralyzed. One year I didn’t speak for several days.

 

TOM

I can’t imagine you speechless.

 

FERDINAND

Okay, several minutes then, it’s not the facts that are important here, it’s the feeling, starting the New Year with the right attitude.

 

TOM

What did you say last year?

 

FERDINAND

…I can’t remember.

 

TOM

You were probably too excited about meeting me.

 

FERDINAND

Probably something about the Water Charges. Or fracking. And they’ve just banned it in New York State.

 

TOM

You should take a bow.

 

FERDINAND

It’s good momentum. There’s so much stuff to build on – all the protests about water, connecting that to climate change, putting pressure on the government building up to Paris, starting some sort of divestment movement in Ireland, Shell to Sea, building alliances…

 

TOM

I don’t know. Well, you have a bit over a minute. Maybe we could talk about Pope Francis. He has that new thing he’s bringing out next year, the Mammy was telling me about it. She’s looking out for you, you know.

 

FERDINAND

Until the Pope lets me fuck you freely, he can fuck right off. Or until he apologizes for the Churches’ role in spreading AIDS across the world. Or until he-

 

TOM

So you don’t imagine these words as part of a conversation? More of a pronouncement to the world.

 

FERDINAND

A statement of intent for the spirit. It should be collectively organized, of course, it would be better if this was like goal-brainstorming at work-

 

TOM

Couldn’t you do it at work?

 

FERDINAND

Getting people to work together at an NGO is harder than UN climate negotiations.

 

TOM

Thirty seconds.

 

FERDINAND

It’s just about me. What I want to do in the world this year. As a small cog working in solidarity with other cogs. Except not a cog. Something less capitalist. Something nature-y. You’re the scientist!

 

TOM

A bee. Wasp? Fifteen seconds!

 

FERDINAND

And if everybody did it, it would be something.

 

TOM

You think we’ll see the fireworks? Hear the foghorns?

 

FERDINAND

That’s something to wish for.

 

TOM

Five. Four. Three. Two.

 

Blackout.

The sound of fireworks.

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PLAY #30: FAITH (DEC 30)

Ireland.

A kitchen.

MARY, in her late sixties, sits reading the newspaper.

SISTER BERNADETTE, a couple of years older, enters.

A faint American twang to SISTER BERNADETTE’s accent now, years since she’s called this kitchen home.

 

MARY puts the paper down on the table, somehow an act of aggression.

 

MARY

Is the Pope even a Catholic?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

What are you going on about?

 

MARY

Has he not got the memo that Catholics are obsessed with the sexual behaviors of strangers? He’s supposed to bang on about sex – contraception, abortion, gays. He’s not supposed to become some sort of social justice superhero. I wonder if he’s even Catholic at all.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

This is about Cuba?

 

MARY

Global warming. Or whatever you call it these days. Pope Francis is going to bring out an encyclical telling us all not to destroy the world.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Yes. I heard rumors about that. I think it’s been brewing since he went to the Philippines after the typhoon.

 

MARY

Rumors, oh. I should have known you’d have your ear to the Vatican wire, sure you have no need for the Indo.

 

(MARY flings the newspaper over her shoulder.)

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Mary.

 

MARY

Oh, I’m sorry, should I have recycled it?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

You’re trying to goad me.

 

MARY

Do your thing. Count to ten slowly and silently in your head until you’re not mad at me. As gaelige if you can remember. You were always good at that when we were younger. Except that you’d pinch me later when Mammy wasn’t looking: still, I’m sure you’ve done your Hail Marys for that.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I’d say my arm was squeezed enough from your fingers too…

(She counts silently.)

Can I get you some tea?

 

(MARY goes to turn on the kettle, picks up the newspaper.)

 

MARY

I’m only trying to make a bit of conversation is all. Hard to find a decent topic.

Even the weather’s off limits now: you’d be lynched before you know it for saying you’re enjoying the bit of sun, as if you were personally responsible for the melting of the ice-caps.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

We could talk about how you’ve been. What it is that has you so angry.

 

MARY

You’re only here for a week. I don’t think we’ve time for that conversation.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

We could talk more. I’m sure one of Deirdre’s young ones could set up Skype.

 

MARY

Maybe I don’t want my silence to be interrupted. Especially by one of Deirdre’s clatter. Coming round as if they’re fulfilling their social service, gabbing on about jobs and boyfriends and parties as if they’re doing me a great help, bringing their crusty auld great-aunt into the twenty-first century. I prefer John’s crowd. They just sit there with their phones in front of them, bored as bedamned, the way young people are supposed to be.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Deirdre’s only looking out for you.

 

MARY

Only counting the days till I pop the clogs so she can sell the house, more like.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE stands, walks to the fridge.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Which of these milks do you use?

 

MARY

The normal one of course. That other thing is some nonsense that one of them brought round. Skim milk, as if I need to be worrying about the figure now. I’d throw it out, only it’s a waste.

(beat.)

You should have it. Sure, doesn’t every bride of Christ have to be looking trim for him?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE counts in her head.

The kettle whistles.

SISTER BERNADETTE turns it off.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Mary, I know you’ve had a lot of hurt-

 

MARY

You don’t know anything about it.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I’ve been praying for you. There hasn’t been a day when I haven’t thought of you.

 

MARY

Do you want a medal?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I want to talk to my sister.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE places the cups on the table.

 

MARY

You don’t take milk anymore?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

It depends.

 

MARY

Probably drink that soy stuff do you? I’d say that’s the fashion in New York.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I take what’s there.

 

MARY picks up the paper.

 

MARY

You’re probably in love with him, aren’t you?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

It isn’t a crime for a nun to respect her Pope.

(beat.)

And now, thankfully, it isn’t an imposition.

 

MARY

Everybody loves him. Even after everything that’s happened here. The things the priests did. And the sisters. Some of them were at it too.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I know.

 

MARY

And then just because Pope Francis has a way with the words, says what people want to hear, you’d swear people have just forgot. I haven’t.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I know.

(beat.)

I prayed for change in the Church the hardest. I pray for change in the Church. I pray for the souls of everyone who’s been hurt by the Church. I pray for the priests and sisters involved, that they may find the light-

 

MARY

It isn’t just the priests. It’s the Archbishops, the Cardinals, the Popes themselves. All those men that we asked to pray for us every week, rolling off our tongue like saints, they were either at it or they knew and they did nothing, nothing at all, and now I’m supposed to be grateful when Pope Francis tells me how to save the planet?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE stares across at MARY.

If they were younger, she’d hug her.

She doesn’t.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I know that the Church has lost much credibility as moral guardians. And I know that even if there’s a lot of good in individual people, we all must carry the cross together, must be accountable for the evil this system has wrought under the guise of good.

(beat.)

But I do believe in good, Mary. I have to. And, yes, I believe Pope Francis is good. Even if he is a man in the Vatican.

(beat.)

And I don’t think it’s unCatholic to care about the inequalities of the world. It’s the very definition of Catholic, in fact, why I became one at least.

 

MARY

I didn’t realize that we had any choice in the matter.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Why I stayed a Catholic then. Why I stayed a nun despite all the days when it would have been easier to walk away.

(beat.)

After Sandy hit, when the city was still figuring out which way was up, it was the Churches that opened their doors, that made space for people to stay warm, have a bit of food, look after each other. All those young people from Occupy Wall Street, some of them suspicious enough of the Church I’d say, they were there too, even after the Red Cross drove off into the night and the city shook its hands of the situation. It warmed my heart to see so much good in people, that the Church could be a place where people came together.

(beat.)

I’m glad the Pope’s talking about climate change. Because the way people talk about it on the news sometimes, you’d wonder if it’s a moral issue at all. Or even an issue that we need to think about today. But if you go to the projects in Brooklyn, where people didn’t have power or heat for weeks after Sandy, where the city wasn’t giving immediate rent-credit to people, it’s an issue. Or I’d say if you go to the Philippines, where people are still struggling to rebuild after Haiyan, I’d say you’d find it’s a moral issue there. For better or worse, the Church has a megaphone that sounds across the globe. I’d rather that was used for good than not.

 

MARY looks down at the paper.

 

MARY

I’m not sure I believe in it at all.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Understandable. I know you’ve had doubts.

 

MARY

Not religion. I know I don’t believe in that. Global warming. There’s been storms before, there will again.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

There’s quite a degree of scientific consensus.

 

MARY

What about sunspots? There’s all sorts of things you don’t read about.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I’m not a scientist but-

 

MARY

Exactly. You’re not a scientist, most of us aren’t, and we’re all supposed to accept this on blind faith when they’ve been talking about it for decades now and none of those doomsday scenarios has happened.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I’m not accepting the reality of climate change as an act of blind faith. I’m accepting it as the truth that an overwhelming number of scientists have presented. Believe me, I know about blind faith – this isn’t it.

 

MARY

I’m suspicious of anything that people tell me I have to believe.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

You believe in gravity don’t you?

 

MARY

It’s no difficulty to believe that everything falls apart in the end.

(beat.)

You really believe in the goodness of people?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I do. I have to.

(beat.)

I believe in your goodness, Mary.

 

MARY stands up, throws out her tea, gets the whiskey out from behind the fridge.

 

MARY

Well, the goodness of Mary Walsh is incidental to the turning of the world. There won’t be any papers reporting what I have to say about things. I’m just a woman who was born too late to be properly educated, too soon not to care about it.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

It’s not too late now. There’s night courses.

 

MARY

Agh, I’ve enough of people telling me what to think. I’m set in my ways now. You’ll forgive me this indulgence? Life’s been a lot more bearable once I stopped worrying about what’s proper.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

I’ll take one if you’re offering.

 

MARY pours a whiskey for SISTER BERNADETTE. Places it on the table.

 

MARY

Even if this climate change stuff is true, I’ve no faith in people to put a stop to it. Won’t we do what we’re best at, turning our backs, pretending it’s not our fault? The poor earth will shrug her shoulders, sure won’t she be happier without us lepping around on her back anyway?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Perhaps. She’s not somebody who I have a direct line to.

 

MARY

I’m sure one of Deirdre’s young ones can set you up on some Skype chat.

 

Pause.

MARY and SISTER BERNADETTE drink whiskey.

 

MARY

The world’s fucked, Cait. There’s nothing we can do.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Perhaps so. We’re certainly doomed if we give up.

MARY

What are you going to do? Post sandwiches to the Philippines?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

There’s a lot we can do. Kick up a fuss until something changes. Kick out the people in power who won’t do anything.

(beat.)

Prayer. There’s also prayer.

 

MARY

I’ve only just got these knees: I’m not getting down on them.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

You don’t have to. You don’t have to do anything.

(beat.)

But prayer can be a powerful thing, Mary.

 

MARY

I don’t remember any of the words. Or if I do, I’m trying not to.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Prayer doesn’t have to be about reciting rhymes. It can be a statement to yourself. A conversation with your heart. Your soul. The things in the world that you vow to fight against, the actions you pledge to yourself to bring about change.

 

MARY

You have been in America for too long.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Perhaps.

 

Pause.

SISTER BERNADETTE closes her eyes.

 

MARY

Are you praying now?

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

(opening her eyes.)

I might be. Or maybe I’m just counting to ten.

 

MARY

Or maybe there’s not much difference between the two.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

Maybe.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE closes her eyes again.

 

MARY

I’m not closing my eyes.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

You don’t have to anything.

 

MARY

I’ll just be here. Counting to a hundred. A thousand. Until you’re gone.

 

SISTER BERNADETTE

That’s grand, Mary, that’s grand.

 

Silence

PLAY #29: THE TIME IS…

A room full of clocks of all sizes.

Ticking.

Tocking.

Chiming.

 

Recordings play from a crackly radio.

ARCHBISHOP DESMOND TUTU: ‘Time is running out’

POPE FRANCIS: ‘The time to find global solutions is running out.’

Lots of people talking about climate change and time…

 

HOROLOGIST stands amid the clocks.

 

HOROLOGIST

when you trace the talk around time

one finds that time can be remarkably mobile

time can

run away from you

race against you

run out

whizz by

pass by

fly

but

we must remember as we move through time

that if we want things to change

we must move.

PLAY #28: THE TROJAN THATCHER (DEC 28)

A large video projection of Margaret Thatcher’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Nov 8 1989. 

Two organizers watch the video.

 

MARGARET THATCHER

During his historic voyage through the south seas on the Beagle, Charles Darwin landed one November morning in 1835 on the shore of Western Tahiti.

After breakfast he climbed a nearby hill to find advantage point to survey the surrounding Pacific. The sight seemed to him like “a framed engraving”, with blue sky, blue lagoon, and white breakers crashing against the encircling Coral Reef.

As he looked out from that hillside, he began to form his theory of the evolution of coral; 154 years after Darwin’s visit to Tahiti we have added little to what he discovered then.

What if Charles Darwin had been able, not just to climb a foothill, but to soar through the heavens in one of the orbiting space shuttles?

What would he have learned as he surveyed our planet from that altitude? From a moon’s eye view of that strange and beautiful anomaly in our solar system that is the earth?

Of course, we have learned much detail about our environment as we have looked back at it from space, but nothing has made a more profound impact on us than these two facts.

First, as the British scientist Fred Hoyle wrote long before space travel was a reality, he said “once a photograph of the earth, taken from the outside is available … a new idea as powerful as any other in history will be let loose”.

That powerful idea is the recognition of our shared inheritance on this planet. We know more clearly than ever before that we carry common burdens, face common problems, and must respond with common action.

And second, as we travel through space, as we pass one dead planet after another, we look back on our earth, a speck of life in an infinite void. It is life itself, incomparably precious, that distinguishes us from the other planets.

It is life itself—human life, the innumerable species of our planet—that we wantonly destroy. It is life itself that we must battle to preserve.

 

ORGANIZER #1 pauses the video.

 

ORGANIZER #1

No.

 

ORGANIZER #2

Wait. Watch the rest.

 

ORGANIZER #1

No. There’s no way we can use this.

 

ORGANIZER #2

Why?

 

ORGANIZER #1

You have to ask?

 

ORGANIZER #2

Okay, so a lot of the rhetoric is terrible-

 

ORGANIZER #1

The heroism of Darwin-

 

ORGANIZER #2

Yes.

 

ORGANIZER #1

The presentation of a pristine landscape waiting to be colonized-

 

ORGANIZER #2

Yes, yes.

 

ORGANIZER #1

‘Common burdens,’ as if all people on earth were equally responsible for pollution-

 

ORGANIZER #2

Look, I’m not saying that we agree with this speech. But it’s Thatcher in 1989 calling for urgent action on climate change.

 

ORGANIZER #1

You’re right. Thatcher is a forgotten climate hero. I mean, what was her crushing of the miner’s strike if not fantastic prescience? I’m sure she’d be letting Scargill head up the Union of Solar-Panel Crafters if she were still tottering around today. And privatization, free-trade, deregulation, they’ve all been incredibly helpful in pushing climate legislation. She probably invaded the Falklands just to show that not all modern wars are about oil.

 

ORGANIZER #2

I hate Thatcher as much as the next person. This isn’t about exhuming and endorsing her as a climate hero.

 

ORGANIZER #1

It’s about returning to a time when there was cross-party political support for urgent climate action.

 

ORGANIZER #2

Exactly.

 

ORGANIZER #1

We’re not in the States though. Cameron does as much lip service to this generic save the planet bullshit as she does.

 

ORGANIZER #2

Nigel Lawson doesn’t. And look, she’s on point, speaking about the dangerous rise of greenhouse gases and burning fossil fuels…

 

ORGANIZER #2 fast-forwards the video, plays.

ORGANIZER #1 watches, flips through a transcript of the speech.

 

MARGARET THATCHER

Put in its bluntest form: the main threat to our environment is more and more people, and their activities: The land they cultivate ever more intensively; The forests they cut down and burn; The mountain sides they lay bare; The fossil fuels they burn; The rivers and the seas they pollute.

The result is that change in future is likely to be more fundamental and more widespread than anything we have known hitherto. Change to the sea around us, change to the atmosphere above, leading in turn to change in the world’s climate, which could alter the way we live in the most fundamental way of all.

 

ORGANIZER #2 stops the video.

 

ORGANIZER #2

I know what you’re going to say-

 

ORGANIZER #1

Overpopulation isn’t the problem-

 

ORGANIZER #2

I know. Thatcher’s talking about overpopulation when the bigger cause of environmental degradation is the behavior of the richest individuals and corporations-

 

ORGANIZER #1

The ones that she supported-

 

ORGANIZER #2

Yes. But whether or not we agree with her analysis-

 

ORGANIZER #1

Whether or not?

 

ORGANIZER #2

Okay, even though we disagree with her conclusions, this is still incredibly powerful. The queen of the free market acknowledging that expansion has to have limits. She even says as such: free markets ‘would defeat their object if by their output they did more damage to the quality of life through pollution than the well-being they achieve by the production of goods and services.’

 

ORGANIZER #1

That’s hardly a call to action. (flipping through transcript) She also says that nuclear is the best non-fossil fuel solution, apart from what the ‘so-called Greens’ say.

 

ORGANIZER #2

Which is pretty useful – a call to move away from fossil fuels in 1989.

 

ORGANIZER #1

To nuclear! That’s what you want?

 

ORGANIZER #2

No. But I do want to stop having the same argument about whether or not climate change is happening.

 

ORGANIZER #1

You think this will change minds? That Thatcher is the Trojan Horse that will magically make the skeptics reconsider everything? They’ll just say that all the fear-mongering of the 80s came to nothing and we’ve got much better scientific evidence now-

 

ORGANIZER #2

Which we do. All of which supports what she’s saying.

 

ORGANIZER #1

That’s not the point. She might as well be speaking in 1889. It’s not going to change anything.

 

ORGANIZER #2

What about on the left? What if people saw that Margaret Thatcher did more to stop climate change than they have.

 

ORGANIZER #1

You do want to turn her into a hero.

 

ORGANIZER #2

No. I want to turn everybody into a hero.

 

ORGANIZER #1

And I don’t want to live in a world with heroes.

(beat.)

We can’t use this. You know that.

(beat.)

I’m going to grab some food. You want some?

 

ORGANIZER #2

Sure.

 

ORGANIZER #1 exits.

ORGANIZER #2 fast-forwards, watches.

MARGARET THATCHER

We need our reason to teach us today that we are not, that we must not try to be, the lords of all we survey.

We are not the lords, we are the Lord’s creatures, the trustees of this planet, charged today with preserving life itself—preserving life with all its mystery and all its wonder.

May we all be equal to that task.

Thank you Mr President.

 

ORGANIZER #2 pauses, thinks.

PLAY #27: MARIE ANTOINETTE IS JUST DOING HER JOB (DEC 27)

An office in the USA.

CEO is working late at night.

THE GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE enters.

CEO looks up.

 

CEO

Is this a joke?

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

I have been lauded for my éclat, but no, this is a serious visit. I am the ghost of Marie Antoinette and I have a grave matter to discuss with you.

 

CEO

I don’t have time for this.

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE slaps CEO across the face.

 

CEO

Fuck! I thought ghosts weren’t supposed to touch people.

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

And queens are supposed to die in old age surrounded by maids and riches and adoring commoners.

 

CEO

I’ve already had lots of spectral visitors this week. It’s the season. All humanity will be ruined by fossil fuels, yada yada yada. Your grandkids will live a horrific life and come to hate everything you stand for. Cute little kids in Fuck Knows Where are being displaced by climate change storms right now. But it’s not too late! You can change your ways and leave fossil fuels in the ground. Please!

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE sits down. She takes out a cigar from CEO’s desk and lights it up.

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

You know things are turning. 2014’s been a bad year.

 

CEO

I’ve heard all this stuff: hottest year on record, famine, disease, acid in the ocean.

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

I’m talking about things closer to home. The fracking ban in New York. The divestment movement. Keystone. EPA regulations on coal plants. Chevron failing to win any power in Richmond. It’s been a bad year.

 

CEO

And you’re here to tell me that the little guy is going to win and I’m going to-

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE slaps CEO across the face again.

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

I do like doing that. You have excellent cheeks for slapping. Louie…well, his head’s rather unstable these days. One little slap and it rolls right off and it’ll cost us a fortune in surgery.

(beat.)

Do you have any fucking clue who I am? You really think I’m here to tell you to turn all your oil into rainbow peace bracelets for the poor?

(GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE stands.)

I wouldn’t do these gigs if it weren’t for the money. You’d think a name would be enough to get you by in the afterlife, but no. And people don’t even pay me decently. All these CEOs, so cheap. They feed me cake, as if the twenty first century invented irony.

 

CEO

Are you sure that’s the-

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

Shut up! My hand is fatigued from slapping, otherwise that fat face of yours would be turning red right now.

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE pours herself a large measure of whiskey.

 

CEO

Alright. You’ve got my attention. Why are you here?

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

I’m here to tell you that the guillotine is sharp.

I’m here to tell you that even the most indestructible edifice can crumble.

I’m here to tell you that capitalism is in peril.

The climate movement is growing like pus on the planet

People are rising up like tides.

It’s capitalism versus the climate.

You’d better fucking win.

 

CEO stands, walks over to GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE.

CEO

You’re worried that I don’t have the balls for this?

 

GHOST OF MARIE ANTOINETTE

Not me. Your father. I’m largely indifferent to all this. Although I do get a particular pleasure in seeing the poor crushed under the structures that they built to tear me down.

 

CEO pours himself some whiskey.

 

CEO

Tell Dad I’m not going to win.

Tell him I’m going to smash it out of the ballpark.

 

Glass clinks against glass.

They drink.

 

 

 

PLAY #26: ANTIGONE, PART TWO (DEC 26)

ISMENE stands at a window, inside.

Rain pours.

GUARD walks over to ISMENE, kisses her.

ISMENE bristles and controls herself: leave me, oh, whatever, whatever.

 

GUARD walks away and starts to take off his coat.

 

GUARD

God, it’s fierce.

Raining cats and dogs out there.

Or more like wolves and tigers.

 

ISMENE continues to look out the window: who cares? who cares? who cares?

GUARD starts to take off boots.

 

GUARD

Don’t know why we say cats and dogs.

Not as if animals ever fall from the sky.

I’ve no idea where the expression comes from.

Do you?

 

ISMENE shrugs: no, who cares, no, who cares, no no no no no.

GUARD starts to peel off socks.

 

GUARD

Don’t know why they call it global warming when it’s raining all the time, eh?

 

ISMENE stiffens: oh, but we’ve been through the difference between climate and weather and what does it matter now anyway?

 

GUARD

Got any more of that cocoa? Wouldn’t mind a cup.

 

ISMENE shakes her head: it’s gone, who has energy left to mourn?

 

GUARD

Ah, well.

It wasn’t really cocoa anyway, was it?

 

ISMENE looks at the rain: leave, just leave me alone, for once, let me be alone.

 

GUARD

You’re mad at me.

 

ISMENE looks out at the rain: yes, no, yes, no, who cares about you?

 

GUARD

There wasn’t anything I could do.

She shouldn’t have been at the pipe.

She knew the law.

 

ISMENE focuses on the window: if I just stare at this drop I will not break.

GUARD walks over and holds her.

 

GUARD

I’ll protect you, babe.

 

ISMENE lets herself relax somewhat: perhaps your chest will be a rock to bash my brains against. Perhaps it will be a pillow. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

 

GUARD

You know I love you, Izzy.

 

ISMENE rests her head against GUARD’s shoulders: I know that, I know that, and that’s the thing I’m most scared of in the end, love.

 

ISMENE and GUARD look out at the rain.

 

 

PLAY #25: NO MAN’S LAND (DEC 25)

December 25th, 1914.

Two soldiers in a trench, lying in the arms of each other.

 

TOMÁS lights a pipe and leans back.

 

MICHAEL

I hope people remember this day.

 

TOMÁS

Yes.

 

MICHAEL

Especially the part where we thrashed you at football.

TOMÁS

One lucky goal does not mean ‘thrashed.’

 

MICHAEL

You tried hard enough to save it, dove down like a wilderbeest into mud, so you did.

 

TOMÁS

Hopefully more attractive than a wilderbeest?

 

MICHAEL

I’d say it depends on the light.

 

They share a smile.

 

TOMÁS

I had it in my hands.

 

MICHAEL

Not to worry. That can is no match for a real ball. An understandable mistake from a novice.

 

TOMÁS

I let it go so you could win. So I could see that smile.

 

MICHAEL

Ah now. There’s enough shite around us without you talking it.

 

MICHAEL thumps TOMÁS playfully, snatches of smiles between them.

 

TOMÁS

We had to let you win something, anyway, didn’t we? You can win the match and we’ll take the war. You can even keep the can as a souvenir.

 

The war barb-wires across MICHAEL’s face: he’s the more sensitive of the pair, despite the bluster.

TOMÁS makes a tiny movement to sooth him, almost involuntary, as if they’ve known each other for much longer.

 

MICHAEL

You think they’ll be calling us back after the carols?

 

TOMÁS

Probably. I should go.

 

MICHAEL

No. Stay a moment.

 

TOMÁS

You’re going to hold me captive?

 

MICHAEL

Give me some more of this.

 

MICHAEL takes the pipe.

 

MICHAEL

It’s not bad, German tobacco.

 

TOMÁS

It’s the best.

 

MICHAEL

I suppose if you weren’t so shite at football, Germany wouldn’t be a half bad place.

 

TOMÁS

Your generosity astounds.

 

TOMÁS takes the pipe back.

The sound of carols from a distance.

 

MICHAEL

It sounds beautiful. I never thought German could sound beautiful.

 

TOMÁS

You English have no need for insults: your compliments kill elegantly enough.

(beat)

I never understood this carol. If the night is so silent, why is everybody singing about it?

(beat.)

There’s no way all those animals in the stable could have been silent. Donkeys and sheep, they’d have been making all sorts of noise. The baby too. And the mother. Not possible to have a silent birth.

 

MICHAEL

You’ll be going straight to Hell now.

 

TOMÁS

You’re right. Murder and sodomy are nothing, but that bit of blasphemy has tipped me over the edge.

(beat.)

You believe in God?

 

MICHAEL

You don’t?

 

TOMÁS

You think that if there were a God, we’d be here?

 

MICHAEL

We’re here, so I have to believe in God.

 

Pause.

The carols stop.

 

TOMÁS

I should go.

 

MICHAEL

No. It’s not dark yet.

 

TOMÁS

Somebody will come.

 

MICHAEL

I’ve told you, this place is safe.

 

TOMÁS

No place is safe from this. That’s why we’re here. Because every spot on the planet must have a flag poking out of it.

 

MICHAEL

I thought it was because of that Franz Ferdinand fellow. He’d have a lot to answer for, if he wasn’t already dead.

 

TOMÁS

War isn’t about people. It’s about things.

 

MICHAEL

Glory and honor and all that stuff?

 

TOMÁS

No real things, things you can touch, such as a football.

 

MICHAEL

Real things that some people can touch.

 

TOMÁS is too excited to be distracted, releasing words that have been churning inside for a while now for him.

 

TOMÁS

We think that war is about all these words we stretch towards the Heavens to touch: God! Glory! Victory! But war is fought over the things beneath our feet. Coal, iron ore, gold. You think that our Kaiser would care a fig for Alsace Lorraine if it wasn’t for the Sarre coal fields? Or that France would be trying to win the same strip back if it wasn’t for the iron ore.

(beat.)

It’s the same with the Congo and India. All the powers beating on about God and empire. When the truth is that it’s a race to plunder as many things as possible. We should replace the kings on coins for lumps of coal: that is what we truly march for.

(beat.)

I’ve offended you, my friend.

 

MICHAEL

No.

(beat.)

How does the song go? We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here.

 

TOMÁS

I thought it was: we’re queer because we’re queer because we’re queer because we’re queer.

(beat.)

Too much cognac, I’m afraid. And hear I am spoiling the one Stille Nacht we’re likely to have.

 

TOMÁS puts on his helmet, stands.

 

MICHAEL

Don’t go. I don’t give tuppence for this war either. Let’s just stay here.

 

TOMÁS

We can’t.

 

MICHAEL

We’ll run away together.

 

TOMÁS

They’ll shoot us from both directions.

 

MICHAEL

Not if we’re quick. Or careful. Or lucky. We’ll work it out.

 

TOMÁS

You’ve only known me for a few hours.

 

MICHAEL

Enough to want to know more. Enough to know that I don’t want to shoot you tomorrow.

 

TOMÁS

You don’t even know my name.

 

MICHAEL

I do. Tom.

 

TOMÁS

Tomás.

 

MICHAEL

Well, it’s Tom they’ll be calling you back home. I won’t say you’re German. Your English is great and there’s all types that’d listen to all your nonsense about war and we could get some cottage by the sea far away from everything and if you saw the sea where I’m from it would take your breath away because there’s nothing more beautiful, nothing more…

 

Pause.

 

You could shoot me. In the leg. Enough to get a discharge. I’ll do the same to you. We can find a place to meet up, after all this, we only need to find a way out…

 

TOMÁS ssssssshs MICHAEL.

A long kiss.

 

TOMÁS

I’ll leave you some tobacco.

 

MICHAEL

Stay a moment longer. Just until dark.

 

MICHAEL pulls TOMÁS to the ground.

 

TOMÁS

It’s already dark.

 

MICHAEL

No, not yet.

 

TOMÁS

Isn’t that the moon? Or you’ll tell me it’s some freak astronomical occurrence.

 

MICHAEL

Exactly.

(beat)

You’d want to be getting your eyes tested. No wonder you’re so frightful in goal.

 

Faint sound from the distance.

 

TOMÁS

They’re starting again?

 

MICHAEL

No.

 

TOMÁS

I’ll be leaving once it gets dark.

 

MICHAEL

Once it’s dark. But we still have time before that.

 

They lie there.

 

Faint sound from the distance, carols or guns, it’s hard to tell.