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 #341: THE END OF THE BEGINNING (DEC 1 2015)

Paris, December 2015.

SWAN and HOOPOE perch on top of the roof of the Climate Conference tent.

 

SWAN

They’re all here.

 

HOOPOE

Strutting.

 

SWAN

Pouting.

 

HOOPOE

Posing.

 

SWAN

Words that soar to the sky.

 

HOOPOE

Once the figures don’t get caught in nets.

 

SWAN

Australia will honor Kyoto to 2020.

 

HOOPOE

Big.

 

SWAN

While still developing coal. Russia’s got all those forests to use as part of her pledge.

 

HOOPOE

Huge.

 

SWAN

This is it, they say.

 

HOOPOE

Last shout of the Small Island States.

 

SWAN

One last push to get us below 1.5 degrees.

HOOPOE

Petitions signed with nice signatures.

 

SWAN

A beginning. According to China.

 

HOOPOE

After twenty one years of talks:

 

SWAN

A beginning.

 

Pause.

 

SWAN

Do you think she’ll come?

 

HOOPOE

The oldest bird?

 

SWAN

Yeah.

 

HOOPOE

They’re all here. The big-wigs. Why wouldn’t she be?

 

Pause.

 

SWAN

Do you worry that travel feels like an accomplishment? That just bringing ourselves all this way makes us feel that we’ve achieved something?

 

HOOPOE

I worry that agreeing anything feels like an accomplishment. I worry about us left out of the tent.

 

Pause.

 

SWAN

But she’ll come in and sort things out.

 

HOOPOE

She’ll swoop from the sky and get everything under control.

 

SWAN

That would be nice.

 

HOOPOE

Yes.

 

The birds wait.

 

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.

 

 

PLAY #339: JET SET (NOV 29)

Washington D.C., 2009.

Georgetown University, a pond.

JAMES (late 20s; Chinese; male) sits on a bench, in a suit.

 

ISAIAH (20s; African-American; male) enters in a tattered military uniform and sits beside JAMES.

 

JAMES

Isaiah!

 

ISAIAH

You didn’t think I’d make the reunion?

 

JAMES

This is…

 

ISAIAH

I was always dead set on being here. Though I didn’t realize how dead set I’d be. You were the one who wasn’t sure if you’d be bothered traveling from China for some half-assed five-year thing where nobody’s changed enough to like them yet.

 

JAMES

Yeah. Guess you beat me on the distance.

 

ISAIAH

Sure did.

 

JAMES

I live here now, actually.

 

ISAIAH

This bench? I had you pegged for bigger things.

 

JAMES

D.C.

 

ISAIAH

Bet your Dad’s not too happy about that.

 

JAMES

Among other things.

 

ISAIAH

You told him?

 

JAMES

Yeah.

 

ISAIAH

Whoa! I wish I could drink to toast something.

 

JAMES

Me too.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

You think they could have stumped up for a statue? All they got is some plaque for me shared with some other sap who was stupid enough to sign up. Not even a scholarship boy. He didn’t get the memo that rich folk aren’t supposed to die in this war.

 

JAMES

You were mentioned. Part of a speech.

 

ISAIAH

Who knew that all I had to was get blown up to make a name for myself around here? Still, at least I got myself a plaque. That’s more than Nick got.

 

JAMES

I guess suicide is not so marketable.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

Who all else is here?

 

JAMES

Not many people I actually want to talk to.

 

ISAIAH

Don’t tell me that all those power-interns are actually running the city now?

 

JAMES

Everything we feared has come to pass.

 

ISAIAH

The jet set have taken over.

 

JAMES

Just about.

 

ISAIAH

Well I got enough miles for all of us. First class ride back here, too: all class for corpses.

 

JAMES

Yeah.

 

ISAIAH

Yaya make it?

 

JAMES

She’s off working at some farm.

 

ISAIAH

Definitely not speech-material. Go mad into debt so that you can grow your own lettuce. However, the scholarship boy who could get himself blown up, that is a story worth spinning!

(beat.)

Any of the gay crew here?

 

JAMES

Not any you’d want to sleep with.

 

ISAIAH

Just as well. Not sure old Brandon would really be up for ghost kink.

 

JAMES

He’s working at the Capitol now, who knows what kink he gets into.

 

ISAIAH

You know where his office is at?

 

JAMES

You’re going to perv on him?

 

ISAIAH

Ghost’s got to have some fun. You seeing somebody?

 

JAMES

Yeah. Actually. An environmental activist.

 

ISAIAH

Your Dad must be really pissed.

 

JAMES

Yeah. He’s a drag queen too.

 

ISAIAH

From coal magnate to screaming queen?

 

JAMES

Josh! Delicious Drag-On.

 

ISAIAH

Sweet. Nice for you to have somebody you’re on the same page with.

 

JAMES

We still find things to fight about.

 

ISAIAH

Not like us though.

 

JAMES

No.

 

ISAIAH

He’s here?

 

JAMES

Not really his scene.

 

ISAIAH

Not ours either.

 

JAMES

No.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

You were right.

 

JAMES

That’s no comfort.

 

ISAIAH

The war was bullshit.

 

JAMES

You remember the protests here? The pro-war group outnumbered us. You weren’t the only one here in support of the war.

 

ISAIAH

Only one here stupid enough to die for it. Or, one of two, not even unique in that.

(beat.)

You were right. Whole war was a dirty scramble for what’s beneath. Something we have no business in getting involved in.

(beat.)

They’re lucky I died. I’d be here too otherwise, setting fire to the plaque or the flag or the endowment or whatever I could ignite. Nothing I believe in now.

 

Pause.

 

JAMES

There’s always friendship. Or hope. Or revenge.

 

ISAIAH

Something.

 

JAMES

Streets are crammed with ghosts. That’s what I like to think in protests: streets are full of spirits on our side.

 

ISAIAH

People don’t believe in ghosts.

 

JAMES

Don’t believe in dragons either. But that’s no good to you when you’re faced with a mouth that’s aflame, is it?

 

ISAIAH

Guess not.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

You should go. Mingle with the jet set.

 

JAMES

I’m happy enough here.

 

ISAIAH

On your own by this dumb pond?

 

JAMES

I always was a freak, right?

 

ISAIAH

Yeah.

 

They sit by the pond for some time before ISAIAH walks off, leaving JAMES on the bench, nothing to jet set off to.

PLAY #338: RUBBLE (NOV 28)

London, 2012.

ROSE (20s; Nigerian – Igbo; female) approaches QUEEN VICTORIA (a statue of QUEEN VICTORIA; 80s; white English; female).

ROSE has a water pistol outstretched.

At the edges of the stage: rubble.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

What on earth are you doing?

 

ROSE

A direct action.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Put that thing down at once!

 

ROSE

I’m not your subject.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I’m sure this is still an offence. Shooting a monarch: it won’t end well for you.

 

ROSE

I don’t have bullets. I don’t believe in violence.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Then what are you doing with a revolver?

 

ROSE

It’s symbolic. You’re going to drown in oil.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

What are you on about? I have nothing to do with that substance. Is it not enough to be covered in pigeon shit? Why tar me so?

 

ROSE

Because you reigned over an era of mass industrial expansion and colonization. Because my country has been ripped apart by oil.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Hardly my fault.

 

ROSE

Nigeria never existed until colonization: our boundaries were wars waiting to happen, no way all these different tribes should be squeezed into the same state. And all that uncertainty gets blown up once oil is involved.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I gave away as much power as I could during my reign. I cannot be blamed.

 

ROSE

You’re a symbol. So you’re getting doused.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

This is barbaric.

 

ROSE

So is capitalism.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

You really want to blame me for that?

 

ROSE

I’d rather squirt oil everywhere. Pour it over the Olympic Tent. Into every museum lobby that’s sponsored by fossil fuel companies. Over half the statues of doddering grey guys who got rich off the plundering of poorer people of color.

(beat.)

But I’m not Bruce Willis. I’m just making a simple point. You’re beloved: this will do.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I don’t see why you’re so upset over oil.

 

ROSE

Oil, coal, gas, take your pick – oil is the easiest thing to fit into a water pistol.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I did think those coal-mines were dreadful for the young children.

 

ROSE

I’m not putting your conscience on trial. You’re not a person anymore. Symbols set in stone don’t have feelings.

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

Do it so. Cover me in black. That was my fashion after all.

(beat.)

I see the appeal. Bearing everything. The worst on display. There’s a certain honesty to that.

(beat.)

Well…

Before ROSE can do anything, it starts to rain oil.

Oil drizzles from the sky, covering ROSE and QUEEN VICTORIA.

 

ROSE

Did you do this?

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

I’m a statue. Not a god.

 

Pause.

 

ROSE

What’s happening?

 

QUEEN VICTORIA

That, my dear, is for you to discern.

 

ROSE looks up at the oil rain, which continues, as the lights fade.