PLAY # 17: The Little White Cloud That Cried

Characters in the play:

1) A little white cloud, amiable, articulatre to the point of garrulousness.
2) A winter tree, leafless and bereft

Floating home from his dialogue with the timorous Thel (see Brief Candles # 15), that play’s Little White Cloud has somehow snagged itself on one of the branches of the Winter Tree.

CLOUD:  I can’t move.  You snagged me in your branches!

TREE: Just in one branch.  And I didn’t snag you, you snagged yourself.

CLOUD:  Well, however it happened, I can’t move.

TREE:  Why don’t you just dissolve the snagged part and regroup when you’re free?

CLOUD:  I would, but I’m feeling more….well, unified than I ever did before.

TREE:  Unified?

CLOUD: More dense.  I think I’m changing.

TREE:  Into what?

CLOUD:  I’m feeling creaturely.  Maybe I’m becoming an animal.  A cat maybe.

TREE:  You’re beginning to look a bit like a cherub.

CLOUD:  Well, I suppose if I have to turn into something, a cherub would be okay.  At least I could still float.

TREE:  Indeed you could.  Look on the bright side.

CLOUD: But how can this solidifying have happened?

TREE:  Well, I’m neither a tree-surgeon nor an arboreal psychologist, but I think it’s possible that a tiny bit of my residual sap somehow entered your cloudstream!

CLOUD:  I do feel warmer.

TREE:  You see?  Yes, I think you’re becoming positively corporeal!

CLOUD:  It will be harder to move about.

TREE: Oh yes, considerably harder.  (he smiles the warmest leafless smile he can muster)  But it will be so lovely to have some company.   We can talk.  We can reminisce….

CLOUD: Reminisce?  About what?

TREE:  Oh, I don’t know…leaflessness in my case and unfettered drifting in yours.


Play #16: FRIDA

The play takes place one of the galleries in the Art Gallery of Ontario, during the current run of the Gallery’s exhibition, Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting.

Characters in the play:

Two middle-aged women who are seeing the exhibition together and, as the play opens, are both gazing intently at one of Frida Kahlo’s self-portraits.

WOMAN 1 (with great conviction, bordering on indignation):  She wasn’t a Communist!

WOMAN 2: (quick to agree): Why would she be a Communist? 


Play #15: Thel or Come on in, Experience is Fine!

Thel (from poet William Blake’s The Book of Thel, 1789) is almost a young woman, which is to say that she teeters perpetually on the banks of the river of experience, terrified of committing herself to real life—for the simple reason that to choose real life will be to choose mortality and inevitable death (ironically, her name means “desire” in Greek).  Unborn, Thel is immortal.   Which sounds like a good idea to her.

The characters in the play:

1) Thel, a young, diaphanous shade of a girl—not even far enough along to be a virgin.
2) A highly articulate river
3) A cheerful, philosophically shallow cloud.

As the play opens, we see Thel standing on the bank of a river.  A mindless cloud floats overhead.

Cloud: Hi Thel, still deciding whether or not to get real?

Thel: I am not like thee, little Cloud, because I can smell the sweetest flowers but still feed not these selfsame flowers. 

Cloud: Well, I don’t feed them either.

Thel: Yes you do, you rain upon them bright watery nourishment by which they flourish and multiply.

Cloud (thinking about it): Oh yeh, right.  But then I’m gone.  Used up.

Thel (rather impatiently): But then you reform and appear again as another shape!  Don’t you remember?

Cloud (happily): Yes, of course! I’d forgotten that’s how it works.  But you see, I only hold memory enough for one shape at a time.  When I’ve become a new cloud, then I have to start over with a brand new memory!  The one I have now is only twenty-five minutes old!

Thel:  But if I become a mortal woman, I will probably start alright…

Cloud: Do it!  You’ll be beautiful!  You’ll be a beautiful baby!  You’ll be a beautiful teenager!  You’ll be a beautiful woman!  You’ll be a beautiful…well…matron!

Thel (continuing): …But then I will also come to an end.  I will not ever acquire another shape and another and another, the way you do.

[She moves closer to the river and dips her right foot in the icy water]

River: That tickles.

Thel (jumping back):  It does?

River (casually):  Oh yes. A little.  It was sort of nice.

Thel:  You never stand still.

River: No.  Rivers flow.

Thel: Through time?

River: You can’t step into the same ME twice!

Thel: But I want to remain exactly as I am—for always   I want to be the same ME for eternity!

River:  Don’t you think that’s a little selfish?

Thel (adamant): No!

River:  Come, Thel, have a little dip!  See where it leads you!

Thel (terrified):  I know where it will lead me!

River (calmly):  No you don’t.


Play #14: Lupus and the Maiden

The play takes place in the archetypal forest of all our fairytales.  Here, the trees are thick and dark and so tall you can’t see their leaves.  Nestled among them, in a dusky glade, is a small cottage.  The door is open and we hear, from inside, the voice of a young woman.  She is singing a lugubrious song.  As the play opens, a young wolf named Lupus strolls into the clearing.

LUPUS (putting down his knapsack and looking around):  A charming cottage!  And it’s singing!

YOUNG WOMAN (coming to the door):  It is not singing, ingenuous young wolf!  It was I who was singing.

LUPUS (ashamed of his mistake):  I’m dreadfully sorry.  It was an easy mistake to make.

YOUNG WOMAN (greatly irritated):  No, it wasn’t.  It certainly was not. 

LUPUS (observing her closely):  You don’t have very large teeth.

YOUNG WOMAN (acknowledging the truth of this):  I have delicate, milky, evenly-spaced, babylike teeth—like two tiny pearl necklaces.  See? (she grimaces at him).

LUPUS (impressed):  Wow.  Nice.

YOUNG WOMAN (looking him over more carefully):   Listen, would you like to stay to supper?

LUPUS:  Well, I was sort of on my way to my grandmother’s place…. 

YOUNG WOMAN (cheerily):  But you have to eat, don’t you?

LUPUS (eagerly, boyishly): And so do you, I guess.

YOUNG WOMAN (with elaborate casualness):  That’s right, I do. 

LUPUS (even more eagerly): What are we having?


PLAY #13: On the Road to Manderley

[The play takes place on the road winding up to Manderley,  a great baronial house clinging to a rugged Cornwall cliff that rising precipitously from the ocean.   Manderley (see the 1938 Daphne Du Maurier novel in the pages of which the house was first constructed) is the ancestral home of Maxim de Winter, who, having been recently widowed (see the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film, Rebecca), is now bringing home to Manderley his new wife—a pleasant but inexperienced, unworldly young woman who, neither in the novel nor in the film, is ever given a name.]

Max (pulling the car over to the side of the road, and addressing his wife—who is gazing raptly at the huge house of which she will shortly be mistress).   Well, my sweet, no-name bride, what do you think of your new home?

Bride (wonderingly):  It’s big.

Max:  Yes, it is.  And old.  And dark, drafty and cold.

Bride (excitedly):  Oh Max, it sounds so lovely!

Max:  You think so?

Bride: Well, no, but I so very much want to make you happy!  

Max:  There’s just one thing.  My housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, was devoted to my late wife, and is almost certain to hate you profoundly.

Bride:  Oh that’s alright, Max dear.  I’m sure her animosity will prove to be diverting. [she peers up the road towards Manderley].  Here’s just one thing, though.

Max:  Yes, my love?

Bride:  Well, I don’t want to upset you, Max, but the house appears to be on fire.

Max:  How very bothersome!  And on our first day here, too! This wasn’t supposed to happen for months yet!

Bride: Never mind, darling. We’ll make do somehow.