PLAY #189: STILL LIFE (JUNE 17)

JANE, an artist in her twenties, in front of canvas.

Canvas is covered with green lines, vines, plants, leaves…

JANE paints furiously, greens going this way and that.

 

NICOLE, JANE’s sister, early 30s, enters, stands to the side, holding two cups of tea.

NICOLE waits for JANE to turn.

This takes a moment.

 

JANE

Oh!

 

NICOLE

Brought you some tea.

 

JANE

Thanks.

 

NICOLE

More?

 

JANE

Yes. Sort of in the system.

 

NICOLE

A series?

 

JANE

An ecosystem.

 

JANE comes over, takes tea.

They sit on the floor.

 

NICOLE

Like Monet’s Water Lilies?

 

JANE

Yes. No. Yes.

(beat.)

Yes, it’s the same thing, in the midst of enormous social change and incredible devastation, artist turns away, looks at nature. Except climate change isn’t like World War One. Looking at nature isn’t a way of turning away. Who knows if there will be water lilies left at the end of all this?

 

NICOLE

There will.

 

JANE

How can you be so sure?

 

NICOLE

There’ll be plants at least. Something finds a way to grow. Except when you’re responsible for it.

 

JANE

I’ve said I’m sorry for the basil plant.

 

NICOLE

It’s okay. I’m just not leaving you any of my children.

 

JANE

Please don’t.

(beat.)

You’re so sure you’ll have children?

 

NICOLE

They’ll be better company than basil.

 

JANE

And better company than me.

 

NICOLE

I didn’t say that.

 

JANE

I’m sorry that I’ve been so…engulfed in this.

 

NICOLE

You have a vision.

 

JANE

I have a commission. And I wish I’d said no. Because I don’t have a clue how to make art about climate change. I don’t have a clue how to make art that’s about anything.

 

NICOLE

Except for our mother.

 

JANE

Except for our mother.

 

NICOLE

You remember when we went to the Orangerie?

 

JANE

We were tiny.

 

NICOLE

That feeling when we stepped into the basement, all the lilies together, the feeling of something so small it was enormous-

 

JANE

I wanted to be outside.

 

NICOLE

I thought I’d faint.

 

JANE

I thought I’d fall asleep.

 

NICOLE

Well, I loved it.

 

JANE

True.

 

NICOLE

What’s wrong with art that’s about escape?

 

JANE

Nothing.

 

NICOLE

Would you rather he’d painted barbed wire?

 

JANE

No, but…flowers can cut just as much as barbed wire in the end.

 

JANE stands.

 

JANE

You’re right. There will be plants. Tall as skyscrapers. Like there was before us.

 

NICOLE

Pterodactyls flying around?

 

JANE

Before them too. Before there were things with eyes to look at them. Enormous flowers zagging every which way to the clouds. Trees poking the sun. It happened before. It can happen again.

 

NICOLE

No escape!

 

JANE

No.

 

JANE continues to paint.

NICOLE watches for a moment, collects the cups, leaves.

 

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