PLAY #347: NOW IS WHEN ALL THESE LETTERS AND QUESTIONS COLLIDE (7.DEC.2015)

A large greenhouse.

A large foam logo inside: #GOCOP21.

MAYA (17; mixed race – black and white parents; American; female) is inside.

NICK (19; white; American; male) is outside.

 

MAYA and NICK move consistently.

Sometimes they track the perimeter of their space.

Sometimes they move on the spot.

Sometimes they are quite close.

MAYA does not exit the greenhouse.

NICK does not enter the greenhouse.

 

MAYA

why is everybody taking photos in front of the logo?

 

NICK

can I have made the wrong decision?

 

MAYA

where is the zone to scream?

 

NICK

should I not have left you here?

 

MAYA

how can protestors be under house arrest when businesses are given stalls to sell their lies?

 

NICK

but what comfort could I have been to you?

 

MAYA

why are people afraid of freedom of speech instead of climate change?

 

NICK

haven’t you turned out better on your own?

 

MAYA

how do we cut through all this fluff and get to the core of the issue?

 

NICK

will this thing that is me burst from the pride of you?

 

MAYA

how do young people get a real voice here?

 

NICK

will you say everything I never found the words for?

 

MAYA

how do we say: no more?

 

NICK

can you hear me?

 

MAYA

how can me make governments listen?

 

NICK

did your mother tell you about me?

 

MAYA

how can governments wake up?

 

NICK

how is she doing?

 

MAYA

how do we break out of this hole where everybody feels guilty about individual actions?

 

NICK

is she mad at me?

 

MAYA

how do we build energy rather than despair?

 

NICK

is she mad at you for coming here?

 

MAYA

is it mad that I feel energized by all this?

 

NICK

when she cries, does she still wipe her tears with her sleeve?

 

MAYA

is hope a strange thing to hold onto here?

 

NICK

when she smiles, are there her dimples?

 

MAYA

why am I so scared of despair?

 

NICK

what are you like when you smile?

 

MAYA

is it because of you?

 

Pause.

 

NICK

can you hear me?

 

 

Pause.

 

MAYA

do I think you listen?

 

NICK

if you could, what would I say?

 

MAYA

what is it I believe in?

 

NICK

did I do the calculus wrong?

 

MAYA

what words are there for all the connections I feel?

 

NICK

was the result of zero net emissions from me too high a price to pay?

 

MAYA

how do we talk about history without fighting?

 

NICK

did they even give me a proper low-carbon burial?

 

MAYA

how do we build a movement that stretches from the past to the future?

 

NICK

am I a punchline?

 

MAYA

how do we move people?

 

NICK

when you went to my grave, did you plant herbs?

 

MAYA

will moving people to tears move them to action?

 

NICK

did you go to my grave at all?

 

MAYA

how many more storms, refugees, droughts, disasters would be needed to tip the scales?

 

NICK

will you ever understand how somebody with all the advantages of the world can still sink into despair?

 

MAYA

how can we convey urgency without overwhelming people?

 

NICK

how can I ever want you to be able to understand what depression is?

 

Pause.

 

MAYA

do I blame you?

 

Pause.

 

NICK

is it better to live and face a future that will most probably bring pain?

 

MAYA

what happens now?

 

NICK

is this something you will ever have to think about?

 

MAYA

how do we build this movement?

 

NICK

how do I rip through time and make sure that never happens?

 

MAYA

how do I respect all these connections to things I don’t even have words for?

 

NICK

do I want answers?

 

Pause.

For a moment, MAYA and NICK stop moving and look at each other.

 

MAYA

when we all meet, what will we say?

PLAY #346: MONTREUIL (6.DEC.2015)

Montreuil, Paris, 2015.

The Global Village of Alternatives.

MAYA (17; mixed race, black & white parents; American; female) sits beside LEILANI (18; Samoan; female) on two very large chairs, which look like they belong in a bank lobby.

They drink tea from jars.

 

MAYA

Half-way point.

 

LEILANI

Hard to believe.

 

MAYA

And still so much in brackets.

 

LEILANI

That’s their way: keep things in brackets for as long as possible so it looks like they care about climate justice, then squeeze everything out in the last day when everybody’s exhausted.

 

MAYA

Everybody’s happy just to have a deal.

 

LEILANI

People just want it to go away. Everybody wants to applaud Paris.

 

MAYA

Well…

 

Pause.

 

MAYA

Nice not to be there today.

 

LEILANI

No business cards.

 

MAYA

Or lanyards.

 

LEILANI

Or lies.

 

MAYA

Where did these chairs come from?

 

LEILANI

Bank lobbies. A group are liberating them from banks that support tax havens.

 

MAYA

They’re not even that comfortable.

 

LEILANI

The sad part: we’re wrecking the world for a pile of shit.

(beat.)

The People’s Summit this morning had a list of demands – stop tax evasion, cancel the global South’s debt, introduce a global financial transaction tax, end fossil fuel subsidies, get banks to stop financing fossil fuels. And I’m listening to them and thinking about how they all sound amazing and also fantastical but then who wouldn’t want this to happen?

 

MAYA

Just the mega-rich and powerful, that’s all.

 

LEILANI

Exactly.

 

MAYA

I went to the Solutions exhibit yesterday.

 

LEILANI

Why?

 

MAYA

I’m a masochist?

 

LEILANI

How was the Coca-Cola stand?

 

MAYA

Inspiring. I think the best part was the Evian movie about how bottled water was pure and natural and basically saving the world.

 

LEILANI

Sounds about right. This is your first COP?

 

MAYA

Yeah.

 

LEILANI

Regretting coming?

 

MAYA

No. It’s good to see these things, even if they’re stark.

 

LEILANI

And it’s even better to take a break from them.

 

MAYA

Exactly. How many COPS have you been to?

 

LEILANI

Too many for a teenager.

 

Pause.

 

MAYA

You think it is possible, a different world? All those demands.

 

LEILANI

Of course.

(beat.)

Even if it doesn’t happen next week. Even if the Paris Accord is a joke. We still fight to keep a 1.5 degree limit in the text, even if we know it probably won’t make it, even if the pledges that governments have made wont’ even keep us below two degrees. But still we come, still we fight, because the other world won’t ever happen if we don’t believe in it.

 

MAYA

Cheers to that.

 

They do cheers, and drink, and sit, quiet spooling around them, as another world rises all around them in their imagination and dreams and futures and presents, there on the streets of Montreuil.

PLAY #345: ONE POINT FIVE TO SURVIVE (DEC.5.2015)

A large greenhouse.

A large foam ‘UNFCCC’ logo inside.

 

[i]

 

OCEANIA (mermaid from the Pacific Ocean) enters with a sign: ‘’Rio 1992.’

 

OCEANIA twirls around the stage.

Happy, loud music.

NICK (20s; white American; male) starts to fill the greenhouse with trees.

 

OCEANIA

I swim

in streams of possibilities

this new world we create

swirls with hope.

crisp blank pages

await the twirls of proud pens

happy to intervene

before the energy rushes away.

 

[ii]

 

NICK starts to take out some trees to make way for large reams of paper, with UNFCCC text on them.

OCEANIA enters with a sign: ‘Berlin, 1995.’

NICK continues to add paper.

 

NICK – around 17 or so at this point – hands OCEANIA a card.

 

OCEANIA

You’re in the Model UN?

 

NICK

And now the real one!

 

OCEANIA

You’re part of the Youth Groups.

 

NICK

You got it.

(beat.)

Will you sign it? I’ve never met a mermaid before.

 

OCEANIA

Sure.

 

NICK hands OCEANIA a pen.

 

NICK

I love swimming. And boating. And surfing.

 

OCEANIA

I bet.

 

OCEANIA hands NICK back the card.

NICK pulls out another card.

 

NICK

I’ll sign one for you too. Maybe one day it’ll be worth something!

 

OCEANIA

When you’re the President?

 

NICK

I think Environment Secretary would be fine. I really want to make a difference, you know? And I mean there’s so many people and places to save!

 

OCEANIA

You’re excited to play Superman?

 

NICK

Batman, I’d say. Way cooler.

(beat.)

Have you seen any of the negotiation sessions?

 

OCEANIA

No.

 

NICK

I sat in one of the overflow rooms. I’m trying to learn another three languages – I have six so far, but if you want to do well here, I think a dozen is the best bet.

 

OCEANIA

How many languages can you say ‘goodbye’ in?

 

NICK

That’s easy. Probably even two dozen-

 

But OCEANIA is gone.

NICK shrugs, fetches more paper.

 

[iii]

 

NICK is still adding paper.

OCEANIA flips her sign: ‘Kyoto, 1997.’

NICK sees OCEANIA, tries to avoid her.

 

OCEANIA

what’s wrong?

 

NICK

It’s not going to pass.

Not in the States.

It’s all…

 

NICK throws a ream of paper into the air, exits.

 

[iv]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Bonn, 1999.’

NICK takes out the remaining trees, continues to bring in paper.

 

OCEANIA

I am running out of words

as they lap around me

how many times can I say

that islands will disappear

that the ocean will sting in its bitterness

that my scales will peel

my lungs burst

while people chase a millennium bug

not looking at the end

that eyes them from the other side.

 

NICK exits the greenhouse, looks in from the outside.

 

[v]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Montreal, 2005.’

NICK sits by the side of the greenhouse, looking in.

 

NICK

my little brother’s here now

Zac

he took it hard

I think

me leaving the way I did

even

if I think he could see the sense of it

death by Kyoto Protocol

or lack thereof

is a tough thing to take.

so

here he is

stretching away from my shadow

he won’t let go of hope

clinging to it with his teeth

he is

the stubborn fucker.

 

[vi]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Copenhagen, 2009.

OCEANIA moves around the greenhouse, protesting.

NICK sits outside the greenhouse.

 

OCEANIA

two degrees is suicide.

that can’t be the only thing we agree to here.

the obliteration of everything around me.

 

NICK

Hopenhagen!

I thought he’d do something

my little bro

Obama

anybody

but every sliver of possibility we have

we waste.

 

OCEANIA

two degrees is suicide

we have not agreed to anything

in the spaces on the edges of the margin

we fight.

 

[vii.]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Lima, 2014.’

 

OCEANIA starts to swim in all the paper with various agreements written on it.

OCEANIA throws the paper in the air, splashes around vigorously.

NICK watches from outside.

 

[viii.]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Paris, 2015.’

 

NICK sits down by the side of the greenhouse, looking in.

OCEANIA starts to re-arrange all the bits of paper, until it spells out a large ‘1.5.’

As she does this, OCEANIA chants:

 

OCEANIA

One point five to survive

we are not drowning

we are fighting

One point five to survive

we are not stuck in brackets

we are fighting back from the edges of the page

One point five to survive

One point five to survive…

 

 

PLAY #344: LOSS AND DAMAGE, A PLAY IN PIECES (DEC.4.2015)

Paris, COP 21, 2015.

Scenes can happen in different order.

 

[i]

 

An enormous greenhouse with a foam ‘#GOCOP21’ sign inside.

LEILANI (18; Samoan; female) is inside.

KHADIJA (40s; Iraqi; female; a ghost) is outside.

 

KHADIJA presses her hand against the glass.

LEILANI moves over, puts her hand against the glass over the same spot.

They stay in this position for a while.

 

[ii]

 

The greenhouse is empty.

KHADIJA is outside.

KHADIJA presses her face against the glass.

 

KHADIJA

Hello?

Hello?

Can anybody hear me?

Hello?

 

[iii]

 

LEILANI enters the tent and sets up a crate table.

She puts up a sign: ‘LOST AND FOUND.’

She puts a loudspeaker on the table, with a recording.

She turns it on.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

as with any UNFCCC event

there must be bureaucracy

forms to fill out

say if you have lost

a glove

or a scarf

perhaps your ticket to reclaim your coat

perhaps your reusable conference cup

or an island

or a tree

or a town

or a culture

you can describe the items you have lost

and fill out a form

and there will be a plan

to replace your glove

or cup

or island

and there will be strings attached

so that you find your new item responsibly

with some benefit to others

because it must be carelessness

all these lost things

you must be to blame.

 

LEILANI throws away the loudspeaker.

 

LEILANI

we [will not] [will] be lost

we [do not] [do] accept this

we will not be the lost generation

we will be compensated

for loss and damage

without strings.

 

[iv]

 

KHADIJA leans against the side of the glasshouse.

 

KHADIJA

Hello?

the Delegation of the Dead have come to speak

we may be invisible

but we will be heard

it is important

to consider history here

this is not a problem of the future

even as we shift to an agreement

where all countries agree to emissions cuts

we must not forget

who got us here.

we have the wisdom of the dead

we have the tiredness of the dead

we have the anger of the dead

we will not be forgotten.

 

KHADIJA stands, gets a can of paint.

KHADIJA starts to write the names of Iraqi victims of oil wars across the greenhouse in paint.

Painting, painting, painting.

 

[v]

 

KHADIJA paces outside the greenhouse.

KHADIHA picks up a can of paint and flings it through one of the panes.

The pane smashes.

 

[vi]

 

LEILANI stands inside the greenhouse by a broken window.

She carefully picks up the pieces of glass and puts them on a crate.

She starts to make a sculpture, glueing the glass to the side of the crate.

 

[vii]

 

KHADIJA is outside the greenhouse; LEILANI is inside.

 

KHADIJA

hello?

 

LEILANI

hello?

 

KHADIJA

sometimes I feel

 

LEILANI

so alone

 

KHADIJA

and overwhelmed

until

 

LEILANI

I remember

 

KHADIJA

everybody here alongside me

 

LEILANI

even if I can’t see them

if alphabets

 

KHADIJA

and continents

 

LEILANI

gape between us

 

KHADIJA

still

 

LEILANI

here they are

 

KHADIJA

calling.

 

[viii]

 

LEILANI starts to paint shards of glass on a crate.

 

LEILANI

I am making

a map of lost things

jagged edges

that pierce brackets

and spaces that smother over things

because some things

refuse to be drowned

we

refuse to drown

we fight.

 

LEILANI holds up the crate above her head and marches around the perimeter of the greenhouse.

 

[ix]

 

KHADIJA sits outside the greenhouse.

LEILANI is inside.

KHADIJA makes bomb sound effects.

LEILANI ducks.

For a while, they do this until KHADIJA starts to laugh, then to cry.

 

[x]

 

LOUDSPEAKER is on top of the greenhouse.

LEILANI is inside.

The top panes have been smashed open.

Hoses pour water, oil, and trash inside the greenhouse, filling it up.

LOUDSPEAKER moves from side to side, joyous.

Hoses stop.

 

LEILANI looks around.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

we will be happy to arrange a loan

to cover unfortunate damages that you have accrued.

 

LEILANI

But it’s your fault!

All this was you!

 

LOUDSPEAKER

it is difficult to trace a line between cause and damages

consider it our generosity

that we will provide loans for development

that ensure you will be better equipped

for future unfortunate events.

 

LEILANI

no more!

you must stop!

no more!

 

LEILANI shouts as the hoses start again, relentless, but not loud enough to silence LEILANI.

 

[xi]

 

KHADIJA and LEILANI sit beside each other, the glass of the greenhouse between them.

 

KHADIJA

my daughter was of an age to you.

 

LEILANI

is she here?

 

KHADIJA

I haven’t found her

though I’ve pushed my nails

into every corner.

 

Pause.

 

LEILANI

what was her name?

 

KHADIJA

Leila.

 

Pause.

 

LEILANI

A nice name.

 

KHADIJA

I don’t know.

I wish I had made her up a new name

one like a bulletproof vest

the name of one who can never die

invulnerable to bombs

free of the indignities

of a world where

that at the bottom of a barrel

carries more value than any ‘Leila.’

I wish she had a name beyond letters.

 

 

LEILANI

You should have called her ‘oil.’

 

KHADIJA

Ha.

Yes.

My next.

 

 

[xii]

 

KHADIJA sits on the roof of the greenhouse.

One of the top panes is smashed.

Through this, strings run down, attached to LOUDSPEAKER, which KHADIJA moves around like a marionette.

LEILANI watches inside the greenhouse, laughing.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

this is most unpleasant

 

KHADIJA

strings

I will show you what strings feel like.

 

LOUDSPEAKER

stop!

 

But KHADIJA continues.

 

[xiii]

 

KHADIJA and LEILANI sit beside each other, the wall of the greenhouse between them.

 

KHADIJA

there was a woman in my village

who could only speak in brackets

she must have swallowed them

once

and so they came up

painfully through a tube in her chest

and tumbled down onto stones

broken.

(beat.)

when she died

we had forgotten her name

so we just wrote

[       ]

 

[xiv]

 

LEILANI holds the LOUDSPEAKER and whispers into its open mouth.

 

LEILANI

what I would like to lose:

debt

and doubt

and measuring out life by inches

and the shadows of strings

stretched across a beach

and the coat of colonialism

that cosies around

and the days and days

spent staring at clocks

while talk spins round

in rooms that look like airports

I will not mind

losing the UNFCCC

and you

I would like to lose

you.

 

[xv]

 

KHADIJA and LEILANI sit side by side, the glass of the greenhouse between them.

 

LEILANI

because we have lost all time.

 

KHADIJA

what?

 

LEILANI

we have lost time.

 

KHADIJA

what?

 

LEILANI

time has been damaged.

 

KHADIJA

how?

 

LEILANI

there was a time

when birds told us things

when to grow

or sow

it was all written out

in the pathways of the birds

and now

they flap about confused

seasons are all sloppy

we do not know what time it is

because we have lost all time

 

KHADIJA

what?

 

LEILANI

we have lost time

 

KHADIJA

how?

 

LEILANI

there was a time…

 

And so it continues until time can be found for stopping.

 

[xvi]

 

KHADIJA presses her hand against the glass.

LEILANI moves over, puts her hand against the glass over the same spot.

They stay in this position for a while.

PLAY #343: PARIS IN PARENTHESES (DEC 3 2015)

Paris, COP 21, 2015.

An enormous tent with a large foam logo (#COP21) and several bins overflowing with rubbish.

Scenes take place in any order, indeed, some could be simultaneous.

[ i. ]

OCEANIA (a mermaid from the Pacific ocean) enters.

OCEANIA speaks between a large pair of foam brackets.

 

OCEANIA

everything important is in parentheses

the easier to be stricken from an accord

at a later debate

loss and damage

are only really present

when it’s the text of an accord that’s being damaged

when it’s provisions for poor countries that are being lost.

we can’t even squeeze 1.5 degrees into a bracket

such a small number

point five of a degree

1.5 rather than 2

yet if we don’t pledge to stay below 1.5 degrees of warming

whole islands

will be bracketed.

 

OCEANIA drops brackets, exits.

 

 

[ ii.  ]

PIGEON enters with a pair of large foam brackets.

PIGEON shits on the brackets.

PIGEON exits.

 

[ iii.  ]

 

OCEANIA poses on top of a large foam logo: #COP 21.

OCEANIA imagines a large crew of photographers: many poses.

PIGEON walks by, nonchalant.

 

[ iv.  ] 

PIGEON enters.

 

PIGEON

we’re messengers, us birds

used to interpreting the divine for dummies

auspicious work

and so here we are

in the gaps of this conference

seeking to inaugurate this accord

even if nobody listens to the augurs anymore

because we’re squawking it in so many ways

we’re canaries in the coalmines

we’ve got oil spilled in our feathers

and if that wasn’t enough

we’re getting lost in every direction

not just climate that’s changing

but time

who knows when we’re supposed to be where we’re supposed to be

and so we’re squawking

that fossil fuels are killing us

that climate change is killing us

some of us

enough of us

that we don’t want to gamble on who’ll be flying high in four degrees

but I’ve missed the translation button here

because nobody seems to get my message.

 

[v.]

OCEANIA and PIGEON sit in the corner of the tent, eating food from a bin.

 

PIGEON

Love the cheeseburgers.

 

OCEANIA

I don’t know how they do it.

 

PIGEON

And the crepes with some jambon.

 

OCEANIA

Have lines snaking for hours for plates stacked with meat.

 

PIGEON

Some sausage!

 

OCEANIA

And then have people

complaining

that there’s not enough for everybody

that it’s terrible to have to wait for food

and I want to think that it’s all part of the plan

but I don’t know if I can give that much credit.

 

[vi.] 

OCEANIA and PIDGEON sit beside each other in a corner of the tent.

 

OCEANIA

have you ever go to the point

where you’re not sure

if the tears you’re about to cry

are because you’re so sad

or because everything is so fucked up

that it’s almost funny?

 

 

PIGEON

the crying of pigeons is under-reported

if it doesn’t happen on a camera here

I’m not sure that it happens.

 

[vii.]

OCEANIA pulls some climate ribbons off a tree.

 

OCEANIA

Write down what you what:

you hope to never lose from climate change

but

what do you write

when climate change isn’t pitched in the future

when it’s already happening

yesterday?

 

OCEANIA puts the ribbons in her hair, leaves.

 

[viii.]

 

PIGEON holds a sign: ‘I am looking for: Birds.’

PIGEON waits.

PIGEON discards the sign, leaves.

 

[ix.]

 

OCEANIA and PIGEON drink in the corner.

 

PIGEON

They say she’ll come.

 

OCEANIA

Not sure I’d bet on it.

 

PIGEON

And I think she must.

 

OCEANIA

Why would she?

 

PIGEON

The oldest bird. More dinosaur than bird, they say.

 

OCEANIA

Crocodiles have it right: keep your head under water most of the time.

 

PIGEON

She’ll know how to survive.

 

OCEANIA

No way to be disappointed then.

 

PIGEON

Because birds have survived whatever happens.

 

OCEANIA

No islands to fall in love with only to have them leave.

 

PIGEON

No matter to us what humans need from us.

 

OCEANIA

No islanders to eye up only to have them shipped away.

 

PIGEON

She’ll come, I’d say.

 

OCEANIA

Mermaids may have the looks, but I’d become a crocodile anyday.

 

PIGEON

For sure. She’ll be here.

 

[x.]

OCEANIA empties out a bag of business cards.

PIGEON eats the business cards.

OCEANIA finds a large pamphlet.

 

OCEANIA

‘Strategies for monetizing risk?’

 

PIGEON

Not sure even I can stomach that.

 

OCEANIA

It’s about the ways in which climate change can actually be very profitable. Blue bonds. The carbon market. Excitement.

 

OCEANIA starts to rip the pamphlet up into very small pieces.

PIGEON eats them.

 

[xi.]

A large foam logo: #COP21.

OCEANIA and PIGEON squeeze into the space in the ‘O’ and cuddle together.

They look out, as if confronted by photographers, refuse to smile.

 

[xii.]

A large foam logo: #COP21.

OCEANIA starts to stack the letters, making a sculpture, which she slowly fills with debris and other trash, until it starts to look like a reef.

OCEANIA lies down in it, happy.

PIGEON enters, goes to the top, settles.

[xiii.]

 

 

PIGEON and OCEANIA sit in the corner of the tent.

 

PIGEON

If princesses can kiss frogs, can mermaids kiss pigeons?

 

OCEANIA

you want to turn into a prince?

 

PIGEON

isn’t adaptation the answer?

and when I’m a prince

I’ll make up my own charities

and tell people what they can do with my money

which is make more of it for me

because I’ll have a high house and a nice smile

and I’ll order vats of food

just to watch them rot.

 

Pause.

 

OCEANIA

I don’t want to kiss anybody

I have a vision of myself

arms spread out and hair spangled

on the surface of a quiet sea

a gentle ray of sun or two

happy.

 

PLAY #342: KNOCK KNOCK, THE DEAD ARE CALLING (DEC.2.2015)

Paris Climate Conference, 2015.

KHADIJA (40s; Iraqi; female) sits at a registration desk.

JAMES (30s; Chinese; male) enters.

 

They are both ghosts, though very corporeal ones.

 

KHADIJA

Who’s there?

 

JAMES

This is the-

 

KHADIJA

Knock Knock. That’s your line.

 

JAMES

Is this the right place for the Coalition of the Dead?

 

KHADIJA

Lines are important here. They must be followed.

 

JAMES

There’s so many tents and people and-

 

KHADIJA

Who’s there?

 

Pause.

 

JAMES

Knock Knock.

 

KHADIJA

Who’s there?

 

JAMES

James.

 

KHADIJA

James who?

 

JAMES

Zhang, James.

 

KHADIJA

Good.

 

KHADIJA searches through a pile of lanyards.

 

JAMES

Or Ju-long. It might be that.

 

KHADIJA searches.

 

KHADIJA

Here.

 

KHADIJA hands JAMES a lanyard.

 

JAMES

Thanks.

 

KHADIJA

Make sure to wear it.

 

JAMES

I didn’t think there would be so much bureaucracy.

 

KHADIJA

It’s the United Nations.

 

JAMES

Yes, but even in the Division of the Dead. I don’t know why we have to be searched.

 

KHADIJA

Lining up is good for the soul. It brings a sense of calm and purpose.

 

JAMES

But we seem to be lining up to join other lines.

 

KHADIJA

Did you have somewhere else to be?

 

JAMES

No. Actually, I was looking for somebody here. A friend of mine, Isaiah-

 

KHADIJA

This isn’t a networking site.

 

JAMES

I know but I thought you could look.

 

KHADIJA

Not my job.

 

JAMES

But isn’t that what you just did for me?

 

KHADIJA

This is different. I have to be ready for delegates.

 

JAMES

But nobody else is here right now and-

 

KHADIJA

There are procedures to be followed: nothing is swift around here.

 

JAMES

I know. He’s on the map too. Of climate casualties. He was a soldier in Iraq and-

 

KHADIJA

We all have stories. There’s a special line for telling yours. And another line for telling somebody elses. Neither of those lines ends here.

 

JAMES

No. I’m also looking for my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend, I suppose – Delicious Drag-On, she’s performing in the Climate Generations tent I think-

 

KHADIJA

That is another list altogether. We cannot concern ourselves too much with the living.

 

JAMES

Isn’t that why we’re here?

 

KHADIJA

I cannot speak for all the Coalition of the Dead. We all have our stories. We are all on the map for reasons we may not wish. We have all not been heard.

 

JAMES

But now we will be.

 

KHADIJA

That is the idea.

 

JAMES

But even with all of us, crammed together, shouting, do you think they’ll feel it? People are so good at forgetting. My Dad runs a coal company! They extract in Southern Mongolia. Nasty stuff – there must be several herders here who’ve been killed trying to protect their lands from the diggers, you probably have their names there, but no…

 

KHADIJA

No.

 

JAMES

Father never listened to what I said, no matter how many times I told him what I thought of what he was doing, so why should strangers?

 

KHADIJA

This is not the time for storytelling. I too have shouted at skies that have not heard me. I have opened my mouth in prayer only to make it the wider for bombs to drop in. I have live ones pulsing outside this tent that I long to search for too. There are girls whose cheeks I long to pinch again. There is a table I long to sit and wonder across one more time. There are roads I ache to walk along.

(beat.)

But this is not the time for that. This is the time when we, the dead, knock at the door between worlds with such force that nobody can fail to listen.

 

Pause.

 

JAMES

No. I will line up. Get in line.

 

KHADIJA

That’s the line of action, yes.

 

JAMES

Thank you…

 

KHADIJA

Khadija.

 

JAMES

Thank you, Khadija.

 

KHADIJA nods.

JAMES exits.

KHADIJA waits.

A long time – wind, tumbleweeds, a circus of delegates, a parade of business cards, a hundred bouncing reusable cups – but KHADIJA remains focused and resolute until…

 

KHADIJA

Who’s there?

 

PLAY #340: QUIET PLEASE, YOU’RE MAKING RATHER A FUSS (NOV 30)

London, November 29th 2015.

PIGEON sits on top of a statue of QUEEN VICTORIA.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

What is all this fuss?

 

PIGEON

Climate Protest. Huge. Biggest ever, they say.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

So loud.

 

PIGEON

You prefer it when large gatherings are restricted to jubilees?

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I’d prefer it if everybody stayed put.

 

PIGEON

Your wish is the police’s command: climate protestors in Paris are under house arrest. State of Emergency, they say. As if the world warming is something to be thought about later.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

It would be quite pleasant to be at home in this weather. No time to be rocking the boat.

 

PIGEON

Not everybody has a palace to lounge in.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Well, those who do should use it at least. Not sure why that Charles is always running about interfering.

 

PIGEON

He’s speaking in Paris, you know?

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Oh, I hear it all. When I tried so hard to remove the royals of any obligations other than stiff smiles and firm handshakes. It is no sort of legacy, at all.

 

PIGEON

I think the sun’s long set on that empire of yours. Though it’s doing a good job of laying waste to all those pesky colonies that severed ties with your kingdom: sun’s not a bad weapon to have in your arsenal.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I fail to understand why people lay contemporary woes at my feet.

 

PIGEON

History’s what’s at stake here: the climate reparations that the rich will pay for their plundering of the poor. Everybody’s all chat about the future – looking out for the grandkids – but the real issue is the past.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

What interest have you in any of this?

 

PIGEON

I’m on the lowest rung here: rat with wings. I take your scraps but you think I’m to blame for rising CO2 emissions? I’m cleaning up your messes. But birds will be just as screwed as the climate changes, not like we have any court to appeal to.

Course I root for the underdogs: why else would I spend so much energy shitting on statues?

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Had I my army at my command, you’d usurp every pheasant for a place on my dinner table.

 

PIGEON

You know the story about the King of the Birds?

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I don’t care for fables.

 

PIGEON

There’s a big competition. All the birds in the world strut their feathers and flap their wings. And it looks like the eagle is the clear winner. Until a robin pipes up, from the eagle’s head, saying that this tiny little thing that survives surely has to be superior.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I see your point: may you enjoy your last few moments atop my crown until the water rises a sufficient depth to drown you.

 

PIGEON

Not my meaning. Anyway, I’m no monarchist.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

That would explain your gifts.

 

PIGEON

You’re the one stuck. I don’t want to just be an observer. Want to believe in change. I’m off to Paris.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Bon voyage. I hope you’ll find some statues to shit on there.

 

PIGEON is already in the air, leaving QUEEN VICTORIA alone, and suddenly, she realizes, rather lonely.