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.