PLAY #63: IMBOLC (FEB 1)

Ireland.

Centrestage: BRID, a puppet, dressed in something like a nun’s habit, voiced by an actress behind the puppeteers.

On another part of the stage, a TEACHER makes a St. Brigid’s cross, as if to demonstrate to a class of young children, no words.

 

The first dance of Brid – Brid clasps hands together, bows head, as in prayer, several times.

 

BRID

Who am I?

They dressed me up as a saint

tightened a habit around my chest

told me to mind my words

miracled up my magic

squeezed the life out of my stories

until only flashes remain

until even I

don’t remember what it is I did.

This is what they said:

Not I!

 

The second dance of BRID – BRID removes her nuns habit, to reveal a pretty woman in white. BRID dances, as a young girl parading.

 

TEACHER continues to make St. Bridgid’s cross.

Add, to another part of stage, two EXECUTIVES, laying down thin pipes across the length of the stage.

Their work is slow, laborious, disruptive.

EXECUTIVES smile, getting TEACHER to move out of the way as they lay down pipes.

The thin pipes intertwine, as in a St. Brigid’s cross.

 

BRID

Who am I?

They dressed me up as a pretty young thing

pure as the milk of ewes

if you don’t look too closely.

They said I was that miracle

the virgin who knows all about childbirth

the midwife to Mary herself.

My cross was the fecund thing

hung over stoves in kitchen

over cows in the sheds

twisted this way and that

and even though my story had been lost

my name lived on

Brid to Bridget

the good girl to keep all places safe.

This is what they said:

Not I!

 

The third dance of BRID – BRID sheds the white dress, revealing a beautiful woman in a green dress underneath. She dances in excited prostration to the ground.

 

TEACHER continues to make cross, EXECUTIVES continue to lay pipes.

Add two PROTESTORS with signs: ‘No Fracking in Ireland’ and ‘Don’t Poison our Wells.’

PROTESTORS move around the stage waving signs, twining around each other, making a figure of eight.

 

BRID

Who am I?

They said I was of ground and grass

yer one who’d make things grow.

They said I’d bat these eyelashes

wave a wand of birch in the air

and all around:

sprouting!

life would leap to the sun

plenty would breed plenty

bundles of abundance

and me to take the credit.

This is what they said:

Not I!

 

The third dance of BRID – BRID sheds the green dress, revealing a beautiful woman in a dress of flames underneath. She whirls around, scorching the ground.

 

To everything else on stage, add – two PAGANS (modern? historical? it should be hard to tell exactly) who have enormous vines that they are twining together into different shapes.

Pipes move around the vines, vines around pipes.

 

BRID

Who am I?

They said I was a woman of fire and ash

they said to be careful around me

that I could be fickle in my affections

powerful in my wrath

that I was a scorned woman

scales around the heart

no trouble to me to bring drought and pestilence

no skin lost from this beautiful nose

if nothing grew again.

This is what they said:

Not I!

 

The fourth dance of BRID – BRID removes her red dress to reveal an old lady in tattered clothes. She does an Irish dance filled with spite.

 

Add a GARDENER in wellies, walking around the other characters with a watering can.

Out of the watering can: dark brown liquid, something like mud.

Vines and pipes slowly covering most of the stage.

The sense that it is raining.

The GARDNER has an umbrella – perhaps some of the other characters too.

Harder and harder for them to do what they are doing, yet they do.

Mess everywhere.

 

BRID

Who am I?

They said I was that classic cailleach

the crone

grey hairs fuzzed about the heart.

They said I was fooling everybody

with the dancing and the lashes

They said that when you got down to it

unwrapped all the layers around me

there was only an old hag at the centre

a bitter Babushka

who would watch everything wither and die

because she must too.

This is what they said:

Not I!

 

The sixth dance of BRID – BRID removes her tattered clothes to reveal a naked old lady. She shakes and shudders, not much of a dance at all. She’s cold.

 

To everything else, add a FARMER carrying the corpse of a COW. FARMER places cow down on the stage, lovingly, reverentially, as if in sacrifice.

FARMER locks arms around the COW in an embrace.

 

BRID

Who am I?

What do you think?

Do you think there’s a creature

looking out for the well-being of your world?

Do you think the ground applauds your every step?

Do you think you can make me responsible for your soarings and failings?

Do you think I have that sort of power?

I wish

I wish

I am the woman on the Ha’penny Bridge

who can’t get tuppence not the time of day

let alone a cent or two

I am the tinker being pushed off the road

I am the woman cuddling cardboard

I am the woman with hair for an umbrella

I am the woman who welcomes frostbite

as a relief for the toes.

I am the left out of all this interconnectedness.

I am the woman who Wellies will step over

as the rain keeps falling.

Who am I?

You’ve already forgot, haven’t you?

 

The seventh dance of BRID – a slow shuffle and slump, as everything else continues, until BRID is lying down.

 

 

 

 

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