Theatre, arts, culture, politics, and snark from a practicing playwright and recovering journalist.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Opening the Bomb Bay Doors
Splattworks now presents Bombardment, a two-act drama. Given the brief space appropriate for a blog, the play will be serialized in about 26 installments. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments may occur a day or so apart. So please be patient.
Bombardment premiered in 1991, produced by Stark Raving Theatre (Portland, Oregon, USA). Directed by Kyle Evans, the original cast included: Phil Baker as Corno, R. Marquam Krantz and Placid, Mary Jo AbiNader as Aretha, and Michelle Guthrie as Carmelita. Lights and sound design by Michael Delves. Special thanks to Rich Burroughs, EJ Westlake, Rod Harrel, Myra Donnelly, Dave Demke, Linda Grimm, and Greg Tozian.
BOMBARDMENT A Drama in Two Acts by Steve Patterson
CORNO: A political strongman. PLACID: Corno's enforcer. ARETHA: Corno's wife. CARMELITA: Aretha's maid.
SCENE: A Deteriorating Mansion Outside the City
TIME: Outside of Time
“No vehicle had entered the town since the gates were closed. From that day onwards one had the impression that all cars were moving in circles.” -- Albert Camus, The Plague
SETTING: Something between a throne room and a living room. A ruined city can be seen in the distance. Two large chairs at center, a table with an ashtray and pipe rack between them. AT RISE: Lights on CORNO, seated. In background, CARMELITA stands in a maid’s uniform.
CORNO: I used to be king. Born to it. Used to be lord of imponderables. If I wanted something, I didn't command it. All I had to do was picture it, and someone brought it to me. A hint of thirst, and a glass materialized in my hand. I had the strength of ten, vitality of twenty. An enormous furnace burned within my chest, and it took all of life to keep it roaring. I ate a roast a day, and my arteries stayed clear and strong, the seams bulging with blood. There was never enough to sustain me. Not enough power, not enough brandy, not enough women. I raced boats and crashed balloons and juggled Thompson submachine guns. I wrestled land grading machines, silenced incorruptible senators, floored my Lamborghini in the bike lanes. When I walked down a country road, trees moved their branches to hold me in a steady flow of sunlight.
Drawn backward into darkness, CARMELITA exits.
CORNO: I don't feel like that now. I feel two-hundred and fourteen. I can't feel my legs. I slowly blink, and my lids scrape against my eyes. My heart drags its twisted foot. I'm tired. Tired, tired, and I don't know how it happened. I woke one morning to a strange woman's scent. My possessions lost their loving familiarity. I didn't know what to do. I opened the blinds, and the color drained from the sun.
The distant drone of airplanes, soft but slowly growing louder.
CORNO: Imperceptively, that which has so perfectly been balanced for so long…wavers. Clocks… hesitate. Deep within the machine, where even the designers can’t understand the construction, something stirs. Eases into consciousness. At first, confused. But, as it remembers where it is, what it is, what it does, and what it needs…the hunger begins.
Planes appear to pass overhead. Bombs rumble and lights flash. The bombardment grows in intensity. CORNO reacts with fear, shock, pain. The lights go out, concussion of the bombs continuing. The barrage ends, planes fade. CORNO's armchair is empty. PLACID comes tramping in. Wears a distinctive hat. Hesitates when he sees CORNO's empty armchair. Approaches it carefully. Sits, trying it on for size. Enjoys sitting there, but can't lose the sense that he's being watched, that he'll be caught. Uneasily, he rises, slinks off. CORNO enters from the rear of the theater and takes a seat in the audience reserved for him. Immediately takes the character of someone excitable and late for the performance. If a man is next to him, CORNO begins hard-luck story about needing gas money; if it's a woman, he begins flirting. Lights shift, and CORNO begins shushing everyone around him. Sinks down, trying to look inconspicuous. ARETHA enters.
Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian.