Play # 74: Cupid Stung By Bees

The play, which is derived from a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder called Venus with Cupid Stung by a Bee (1532), is set in a small decorous wilderness—a tidy tempered forest—not far from a small German city.  Venus naked and serene, is strolling among the trees, accompanied by a plump little cupid, who floats around her like a pink balloon.  It is a sunny summer afternoon.

Cupid (hovering in the still air, suddenly alert):  What is that buzzing?

Venus (languidly): Birds perhaps.

Cupid (surprised):  Birds?  Do birds buzz?

Venus (abstractly):  I don’t know…do they not?  I’ve forgotten.

Cupid:  I bet they’re bees! 

Venus (quietly):  Well, perhaps.

Cupid (giggling):  And where there are bees, there may be honey!

Venus:  Yes, perhaps.  Whatever that is.

Cupid (eagerly, boyishly):  The bees make it.  Would you like to try some honey, Goddess?

Venus (almost alarmed):  Me?  Well, I don’t know.  I don’t remember it.  It’s something to eat, is that right?

Cupid (eager):  It’s sweet like candy!

Venus (suspicious):  Insect candy.

Cupid (even more eager):  I’ll be right back [he flies up into the buzzing tree]

[The buzzing of the bees grows louder and there is a sudden affrighted cry from Cupid]

Venus (languidly alarmed):  Are you alright, Little One?

[Cupid returns, holding a chunk of honeycomb in one plump hand.  He is covered with bee stings.  A few angry bees cling to him still]

Cupid (breathless, trembling from his ordeal, holds out the honeycomb for Venus to see):  Look, Goddess.  This is Honey!

Venus (wary):  The bees didn’t seem very pleased about your visit.

Cupid (laughing):  They weren’t.  They’re still not!

Venus (dejected): And look at yourself!  You’re covered with stings.

Cupid (happy to have demonstrated his valour):  It was worth it!

Venus (dubious) I’m not at all certain it was.  The bees have spoiled your perfect, infantile beauty. 

Cupid (gaily): Have some honey.  I got it just for you.

Venus (gingerly dipping he finger into the honeycomb and cautiously tasting the worrisome honey):  Mmmmm.

Cupid (proudly, as if he’d made the honey himself):  You like it?

Venus (smiling): It’s as delicate and gentle as a rainbow.

Cupid (happily):  Ambrosia!  Food of the gods!

Venus (smiling happily):  Of the Goddess, rather.  It’s much too fine for all those boisterous, rough-hewn gods!

Cupid (grinning): If you like.  It will be our secret then

Venus (delighted):  Yes.  Just for us.  Beautiful Venus Honey—just for the two of us!


Cupid, Honeybees and Pain: The Bee's Sting 

Play # 73: St. Anselm and the Spring

The play is set in a walled garden, near Canterbury, England.  It is a morning in early spring, and the garden is sparkling with newly bloomed flowers.  There is a stone bench in the garden, upon which sits—rather solidly--the stalwart figure of St. Anselm, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury.* A little girl plays innocently nearby.

Girl (bouncing up to the sedentary saint):  Good morning, Stern Father of the Church!

Anselm (regarding her sternly): You ought to be at your prayers.

Girl: I’ve been at my prayers, and now I’m playing amongst the flowers!  Aren’t they beautiful!!

Anselm (sternly): They are sent to lead us astray.

Girl (puzzled): Astray? [she looks around].  But we are in a walled garden.  You can’t get lost in a walled gardcn!

Anselm (even more sternly):  Yes you can.

Girl (cheerfully):  Only if you really want to, I bet!

Anselm (smiling despite his wish not to): Wise beyond her years. 

Girl (unperturbed):  Are you enjoying the warmth of the sun? Isn’t it lovely!!??

Anselm (with a certain finality): The sun lulls us into complacency.  Its warmth is a snare.

Girl: And so many flowers!

Anselm (sternly):  Too many.

Girl:  Look!  Lovely blue Irises!

Anselm (almost fearful): Their blue will burn you.

Girl: And look, primroses!

Anselm: Baubles paving the way to perdition.

Girl: And brave Forget-me-nots!

Anselm: Ironically named flowers! Their very purpose is to make you forget!

Girl (puzzled and disappointed):  Forget what, Holy Father?

Anselm: Your place under heaven.

Girl:  I don’t think so, Venerable One.  I know my place under heaven.  It is to play amidst the new-bloomed flowers in this paradise-garden. 

Anselm (brooking no nonsense):  Things are harmful in direct proportion to the number of senses they delight.  This garden is therefore a hotbed of sensory dangers.  There are too many blossoms to see, too much fragrance to breathe in, too much warm stone to touch, too many singing birds to hear—and too much childish prattle to try to ignore!

Girl:  How alive you must be, Holy Father, to do so much denying!!

Anselm: Nature must not be simply enjoyable.  Nature is a manuscript from which we are required to read sobering truths. 

Girl: Well, I wouldn’t know about that, stern Church Father.  I don’t know how to read yet.  Maybe when I learn, I can then become as sad as you are!

Anselm (risking a faint smile):  Let us hope so, my dear.


* Anselm was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093-1109 A.D.

Play #72: THE FIST

The play takes place in a doctor’s office.  The doctor—who is a generic and therefore nameless doctor—is listening sceptically to a distressed patient, Victor Franken.  Franken has been describing what seems to be an unlikely encounter—but an encounter that has resulted, somehow, in the patient’s receiving an injury, a big empurpled black eye.

Doctor: I’m still not sure I understand you, Mr. Franken.

Franken:  But I’ve explained over and over, doctor.

Doctor:  But what you’ve told me makes no sense at all.

Franken (pointing to his battered eye):  Sense or not, here’s the result!

Doctor (patiently):  Tell me again what happened.

Franken (sighing heavily):  I was walking to work…

Doctor: Uh huh.

Franken: …and I happened to glance up at the sky and there was this small dark cloud hovering over me.

Doctor: Odd.

Franken:  Yes.  And then the cloud descended a bit until it floated just above my head.

Doctor:  Very strange indeed.

Franken (more agitated):  Yes.  And then, the next thing I know, BAM!!, this huge fist—as big as a pickup-truck—comes swinging out of the cloud and bashes me right in the face!

Doctor: Knocking you down.  

Franken (furious):  Of course knocking me down!

[both doctor and patient are silent for a moment]

Doctor (quietly):  Tell me, Mr. Franken, do you have any obvious enemies?

Franken (outraged):  What, in the sky?!!

[The doctor leans back in his chair, presses his fingers together in an attitude of deep consideration and then turns brightly to his patient] 

Doctor (quietly):  Tell me, Mr. Franken, are you a religious man?




Gala Diakonova, not yet famous as the termagant wife of surrrealist painter, Salvador Dali, is still in an off-again-on-again marriage to French poet Paul Eluard.  As the play begins, she is travelling, however, with her new lover, German surrealist painter, Max Ernst.  They are aboard the French liner, the S.S. Paul Lecat, bound for Saigon.  It is 1924.

Gala (to Ernst, who is leaning at the ship’s rail, gazing at the copper sea):  You paint better because of me.

Ernst (not looking at her):   Unlikely.

Gala: You all paint better with me.

Ernst (dyspeptically): Eluard isn’t a painter.

Gala (still proud of him):  He buys panting though.  That’s almost as important as painting them.   He buys you.  

Ernst (abstractly): I’ve already thanked him for that.

Gala (wickedly):  And now—as more thanks—you’re screwing his wife!

Ernest (equally wickedly):  He’s waiting for us, you know.

Gala (only vaguely interested): He is?  Where? In Saigon?

Ernst:  Yes.

Gala:  He’s there already?

Ernst: Well, obviously yes.  Yes, he is. 

Gala: What’s he doing?

Ernst:  Scratching around in Cambodia.  Mostly Angkor Wat.

Gala:  How do you know that?

Ernst: He cabled me.

Gala:  And I suppose he’ll expect me to sail back to France with him?

Ernst:  He did say something like that, yes.

Gala (glaring at Ernst):  You know what, Max?  I actually think I’ll go with him.

Ernst: Yes, I imagined you would.  He probably needs you.

Gala (furious): No, he doesn’t, Max.  He doesn’t need me at all.

Ernst (turning back to watch the horizon): I guess that’s part of the appeal, then.

Gala (also returning her gaze to the horizon):  I guess so.


Play #70: The Compact Car

The play is set at a gas station in the desert.  The gas station is, in fact, the very same one we see in Archie Mayo’s film, The Petrified Forest (1936).  It has been a quiet day in the badlands, but, suddenly, the silence is rudely shattered by the approach of an exceedingly noisy car—all bangs and pops and snorts and bronchial wheezings.  The gas jockey reluctantly gets up from his rocking chair and saunters towards the pump.  He gazes down the highway for the source of the clatter and sees nothing but a rapidly approaching—if surprisingly tiny—cloud of dust.  The dust coughs up to the pump and shivers to a halt.  The gas jockey is astounded to see—when the wind has urged the dust to move along—that sitting right at his feet is the smallest (if the noisiest) car he has ever seen.  It a brightly painted little tin vehicle—more toy than car—about three feet tall.  It scarcely comes up to his knees.  Suddenly the car stops throbbing and out of it, bit by bit, gradually unfolding himself limb by limb, comes an exceedingly tall man in clown makeup.

Clown (wiping his white-painted forehead and smiling a wide red smile):  Hot day!

Gas Jockey (lost in amazement):  What’s that?

Clown (genially):  Hot!!

Gas Jockey (suspiciously):  How tall are you?

Clown (agreeable):  Six two.

Gas Jockey:  Well, I don’t see how you can fit into that toy car.

Clown (genially affronted):  Well, you just saw me climb out if it.  And it’s not a toy car.  It’s a real car!  And as for how I can fit myself into it, I don’t know either!

Gas Jockey:  Why don’t you get a bigger car?

Clown: Because a bigger car wouldn’t get any laughs!

Gas Jockey: What do you need laughs for?

Clown: I’m a clown.  I need laughs the way you need customers low on gas.

Gas Jockey (spitting in the dust):  Well, I just don’t think your little car is very funny.

Clown (quietly):  I know.  [catching fire] But you should see it in the centre ring of the big circus tent, in the spotlights, with the music playing, and me clambering out of it and the crowds laughing so they can hardly breathe!!

Gas Jockey (unimpressed):  Funnier then, huh?