Play # 40: The Solids

The characters in this Cezanne-derived play are:
1)  A Sphere
2)  A Cone
3)  A Cylinder
All three of them talk.

SPHERE:  Well, here we are, the three mighty building blocks of the universe!

CONE: According to Cezanne anyhow.

CYLINDER:  I sometimes feel the old man was being perhaps a little hasty when he said that.

CONE: To be strictly correct about it, what he actually suggested—and he didn’t say it, he wrote it in a letter to a fellow painter—was that painters ought to “treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere and the cone.”

SPHERE (a bit crestfallen):  Oh.  Well, that’s quite different!  “Treat nature by means of….”   That’s not very grand!  I thought he meant we were the basis of everything! 

CYLINDER (brightly):  Well, it’s not so bad, is it?  At least we’re a treat!

CONE: No, not like that.  He only meant “treat” as in “contend with,” “carry on with,” “proceed with.”  You see?

SPHERE:  Well that doesn’t leave us much grandeur then.

CONE: No, not a lot.

CYLINDER (ever optimistic):  But we are at least building blocks.

SPHERE (resigned):  Only until Albert Einstein comes along.

CONE: How long does that give us?

SPHERE (hastily calculating):  Let me see now…oh, about twenty-five years.

CONE (reeling):  I feel faint.


Brief Play # 39: Passion play

The play is set in a desert—where most mystical and
semi-hysterical plays are set.  There are three characters: The Passionate Man and two less passionate Companions

PASSIONATE MAN:  It is the time when I must leave you both.


PASSSIONATE MAN:  Because I must now fulfill my destiny.

COMPANIONS:   Which is what?

PASSIONATE MAN:  To be passionate.

COMPANIONS:  Why is that your destiny in particular?  Everybody has passions.

PASSIONATE MAN:  Narrow souls I cannot abide.
                                      There’s almost no good or evil

COMPANIONS (scornfully):  That’s not even you!  That’s Nietsche!

PASSIONATE MAN: But I wholeheartedly subscribe to it!

COMPANIONS:  We feel we’ll be well rid of you!

PASSIONATE MAN:  Everybody feels that way about the paroxysms of the passionate.

COMPANIONS:  Good luck, Puffed-Up One!

PASSIONATE MAN:  A Passionate man makes his own luck.  Farewell, Triflers!

They take their leaves.


Brief Play # 38: The Bluebird

The play is set in a public park.  There are trees and benches and a wading pool.  There are three characters—or at least personages—in the play: a little girl of six, her nanny, and a gigantic bluebird, as big as a pterodactyl.

NANNY:  Come along, Ethiopia, we must head home now for tea.

GIRL:  We cannot leave yet.  I haven’t seen a Bluebird!

NANNY:  May lightning strike you, child, there ARE no bluebirds anymore!  And even if there were, what would you do with one?

GIRL:  I’d close it up in a bottle—like a firefly!  And keep it with me always.

NANNY:  Wicked child!  Dangerous child!  Bluebirds are too big for bottles.

All at once there is a great roaring of wings.  The trees bend in the new wind, a wind which tints the park a strange shade of pale blue.  All the leaves swirl away through the cyclonic air, making way for the descent of a gigantic bluebird—as big as a helicopter.

BLUEBIRD (in a thundering voice the size of a building): What’s this talk of bottles?

NANNY: This is my charge, Ethiopia (Ethiopia smiles and curtseys).  She wants to take you home in one!!

BLUEBIRD:  Do you, you little molecule?  And what would you do with me there?

GIRL: Watch you, day and night.

BLUEBIRD (somewhat mollified):  Would you indeed?

GIRL:  Yes.  Until I got tired of you.

BLUEBIRD (thunderstruck):  Tired of me?

NANNY (wearily): She gets tired of things.

BLUEBIRD: Here’s what I suggest.  Forget this ridiculous bottle business, and both of you can come for a ride on my back instead.

NANNY:  Not I, thank you, but Ethiopia would probably enjoy it.

GIRL (excitedly):  Oh yes! Yes!

(She climbs onto the bird’s back)


GIRL:  Yes.

NANNY (to Bluebird):  She has to be back for tea!

The Bluebird lifts heavily into the air, Ethiopia clinging for dear life to its neck.

NANNY (watching them go):  I wonder if I shall ever see her again?


Play # 37: The Muse, Cacophony

The play is set in a sylvan glade, somewhere deep in
High Park, Toronto.  The time is early evening.  The setting sun casts long pale shadows before an assembled gang of culture-working hopefuls—writers, painters, dancers, curators, designers, chefs and sex-workers.  All of them are eagerly awaiting the appearance of Cacophony, The Muse of Awards and Award-Giving.

THE PAINTER:  I wish she’d hurry.  It’s getting cold.

THE WRITER:  She’ll be along.   She’s a Muse, isn’t she, and we invoked her.  She’s got to come now!

THE SEX-WORKER:  How do you know she’s female ?

THE CHEF:  She’s female alright, even if she’s a male.

THE WRITER:  And we invoked her!  Conjured her!

Over at stage left, there’s a sudden cloud of smoke
and heavy, erratic footsteps, as if someone were coming from the shadows, wearing the weighty metal boots of a deep-sea diver.  The long-awaited newcomer is a huge amazonian, woman-like entity, with a brass helmet.  She is puffing violently at a giant cigar.

CACOPHONY (throwing away the cigar, stomping her feet, and repeatedly slapping her beefy arms against her tree-bark body, in a futile attempt to warm up):  God, it’s fucking freezing!  How can anyone seriously expect to receive an award in a glade as cold as a refrigerator?

THE DESIGNER:  We’re sorry for the cold, your Muse-ness, but we all hope that it won’t alter your promise to bestow upon the most illustrious of us the laurel wreathes we so richly deserve…

THE PAINTER: And the pittance of money that often comes with them!!

CACOPHONY (elaborately bored):  Why aren’t you all home with your I-pods like the rest of the universe?

THE DANCER:  We are artists, Ms. Cacophony, and we live for beauty.

CACOPHONY (getting as Muse-sized headache):  Then why aren’t you off somewhere perpetrating beauty??

THE CURATOR:  We came here to receive a boon from the very FOUNT of Beauty!

CACOPHONY (paying scant attention):  I see—and where’s that?

WRITER (quietly, respectfully): He was referring to YOU, O bountiful One.

CACOPHONY (sitting down on a handy rock and smiling fiercely):  I think you’ve made a small but ruefully amusing mistake, you arty little children of the night.

THE ASSEMBLED THRONG (speaking in unison):  Don’t say so! 

CACOPHONY (deeply irritated): Listen, you puffed-up sheep of abject self-expression, go home and do something useful, and do it for the sake of doing it, without the phone number of some pathetic, award-granting organization on your speed-dial!  See how much art you make if nobody has a delicate present wrapped up in pink paper and waiting for you in the wings!

THE WRITER (aghast):  But, your Generous-ness, are our labours not, then, to be rewarded?

CACOPHONY (turning to go):  Yes, by all the gods, they are!  By MORE labours!  And then more and more.   Art is long, chum!  Go get busy!

THE ASSEMBLED THRONG:  And in what way, then, do you help us, O Lofty but Uncooperative One?

CACOPHONY (heading back into the darkness):  I smile at you when your backs are turned.  That ought to be enough.


Play # 36: Goodnight, Nurse: a Noh Play

The following Noh play is based on the 1918 film called Goodnight, Nurse, directed by Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and starring “Buster” Keaton and Arbuckle himself.  They are also the only two characters in this play.  Unlike most Noh plays, there is no music in Goodnight, Nurse.  For most of the play, Keaton holds a fan in his hand.  Arbuckle has a fan as well—as do all the characters in a Noh play—but he has dropped it during one of his many attempts to light a cigarette in the pouring rain.  The torrential and continuing downpour, like the music, will have to be imagined.

FATTY (trying to light a cigarette in the pelting rain).  I feel nothing.

BUSTER (laughing at his predicament):  You are wet through and through.

FATTY (in despair):  As is my cigarette!

BUSTER (looking away with a pained expression on his face):  You are a futile man!

FATTY (imploring):  Come.  Help me light my cigarette.

BUSTER:  You learn nothing from rain.

FATTY (dejected): No.

BUSTER:  Or from repetition.

FATTY (abject):  No.  But I now know this: you are only a ghost-friend. 

BUSTER (removing his coat):  Here is my raincoat.  Go under it and light your cigarette in its warm cave.

FATTY (taking the coat and fumbling with his matches):
And if it fails to light?

BUSTER:  Then you will return my coat to me and leave me—for this coat was all I had to teach you.

FATTY:  It will light (he strikes a hundred matches under the shelter of the coat, but none will take fire).  It will not light.  Goodbye then, ghost-friend.

BUSTER:  You cannot say goodbye, because I am no longer here.  (he loudly stomps off; but soon stops and turns back to Fatty).  You see how I am gone?

FATTY: Yes, quite gone.

Both actors follow one another off the stage. 
The audience is still.