Theatre, arts, culture, politics, and snark from a practicing playwright and recovering journalist.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Bombardment, Episode 7: Clouding the Issue
Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. 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.
ACT, SCENE III
CARMELITA enters, pushing a shopping cart full of balloons, costumes, junk. Dressed like some kind of arctic ragpicker. Figures on stage appear dead, heaped over one another as though tossed about.
CARMELITA: During wartime, you get used to seeing corpses. But you never get used to seeing corpses that appear to have been dropped from high altitudes.
CARMELITA pulls the cap from her head. Her hair is a vibrant, untamed mass. The impact should be one of going from drab formlessness to startling beauty. CARMELITA checks the bodies. First PLACID, then CORNO, pulling him off ARETHA.
CARMELITA: In town, the disruption of bombs provides a ready distraction. Rubble blocks the streets. Water mains rupture. Hence, the official media concentrate on that which still functions. Fire trucks, for example. Fire trucks are reassuring. They're very colorful, and the lines of water arching into a flame provide an image of control in the midst of chaos. But a twelve-year-old eviscerated by a shattered soda bottle, a spinster impaled on her own walker, a tiny scalp nestled in an otherwise empty bassinet: these can be nothing but chaos. And. . .we simply can't have that.
CARMELITA pauses in checking ARETHA. Puts her ear to ARETHA's chest. Rises.
CARMELITA: This clouds the issue. This does. Because the road awaits, the road away from. . ..
CARMELITA kneels and addresses ARETHA directly.
CARMELITA: You cause me grief, little one. You're broken. Cracked. It's pain for you. Pain if you open your eyes. Do what's best, little kitten. Be wise. Let go of your beating. Release that stubborn notion. This is no life. Scheming. Fearful. Not even sure you can trust the sky. Relinquish. Escape. And return. Revised in a fresh, better form. Perhaps. How exciting! You'll do this? I’ll touch your heart, and you'll release it? Slip me its strength. It'll power my legs, my spirit. We'll both get away, hearts entwined in synergy. Then these games can fade to silence. The pain ends. Here. Forever. Yes? You're ready, little heart? You're ready to let go? All right. I'll touch you, and you'll let go. Ready? Right now. I'm touching you. Now. (Lays hands upon her. Waits. Nothing.) No. I suppose not.
CARMELITA rises. Takes off her scarves and rolls them into a pillow for ARETHA's head. CARMELITA takes off her coat and places it over ARETHA. Underneath, CARMELITA wears a maid's uniform. As she disrobes, she throws her clothes atop ARETHA before dashing under the pile with her.
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.