The following play Out of the Skillet – preantepenultimate palimpsest, is the second part of Con Forza, variations on music and power in four parts. (Parts I, III, IV).
CHARACTERS THE MAID, played by a male actor playing a 1930s’ actor playing a MAN over 40 of blue collar stock playing at being a maid. THE PAINTER, played by a female actor playing a 1930s’ actress playing a WOMAN over 40 from old money playing at being a male house painter. TIME One late fall afternoon, 1935. PLACE Chicago. A Little Theatre set of a room in a Lake Shore Drive apartment. NOTE The final poem is a distilled extrapolation from Alexander Scriabin’s notes for his unrealized magnum opus Mysterium which was to have been a week-long synaesthetic ritual in the Himalayan foothills performed to dissolve the world in bliss. (A largely empty room in a luxury high rise apartment extends into the SL wings. Interior double door ULC. Late afternoon light shines through windows OSL, reaching the SR wall. Canvas drop cloths cover the floor, a black lacquer piano and its bench. The fourth wall, also extending OSL, is a taut gauze.) (The uniformed MAID sits at the piano watching the PAINTER, in professional whites and black tie, pour emulsion from a five gallon pail into a smaller can.) PAINTER (indicates fourth wall) ’Case the rowdies get to hurling. Remember? MAID The late lamented Dil one l Pickle Club, hobohemian hotbed off of Bughouse Square, Chicago, Illinois. PAINTER Squeeze through Tooker Alley. Look for the green light over an orange door. Mind the garbage. Danger: Step High, Stoop Low, Leave Your Dignity Outside. MAID Elevate your mind to a lower level of thinking. (plays and sings Joe Hill’s The Tramp1 set to George Root’s Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!) If you all will shut your trap I will tell you ’bout a chap That was broke and up against it, too, for fair He was not the kind to shirk He was looking hard for work But he heard the same old story everywhere MAID & PAINTER (play & sing) Tramp, tramp, tramp, keep on a-tramping Nothing doing here for you If I catch you ’round again You will wear the ball and chain Keep on tramping, that's the best thing you can do. (While the PAINTER huddles up to an imagined hobo campfire, the MAID plays the chords to Hill’s There Is Power In A Union2 set to L.E. Jones’ There Is Power In The Blood, inspiring and accompanying the following.) PAINTER Fellow idlers, in calling to order this convention that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism, we want to establish a leisure organization that will open wide its doors to every man— MAID And woman. PAINTER —that earns his, their living either by their brain or their muscle. Nature has placed in this earth all that is necessary to make men and women happy. There is just one thing we lack: the intelligence to enjoy possession of that which we have produced. PAINTER & MAID (play & sing) There is pow’r, there is pow’r In a band of working folk When they stand hand in hand That’s a pow’r, that’s a pow’r That must rule in every land One Industrial Union Grand. (The MAID stretches out fingers one by one then clenches them into a fist.) MAID Happy fightin’ days! And shall we go a-sailing? PAINTER But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep. (The PAINTER continues prepping while the MAID plays an elegiac It’s A Long Way To Tipperary/Down To The Soupline.)3 PAINTER cont’d “With The One Big Union Or Union With The Big One?” That was the debatable motion, wasn’t it? MAID How half the Picklers howled! PAINTER Smacked you with an egg, was it? MAID A palpable hit. PAINTER You coped famously, as I recall, what with all that colored light-show malarkey. MAID The Chromola. And those scribbly trill-ill-ills. (ducks) “Refrain from clodhopping Starvation Army burdens no matter how ingeniously subverted— PAINTER Boo! MAID —and perforate your auditory organs with the veritably de novo.” PAINTER “Pick your adversaries well, for willy-nilly, bellicose necessity will transpose you into them.” MAID “Beware the brazen bourgeois, biggest born of earth; to outwit it trip nimbly.” PAINTER Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick. MAID Jack be nimble. Jack be spry. MAID & PAINTER (sing) You’ll get pie in the sky when you die. PAINTER The Cosmic Fessor. Gone. All gone. (As THE MAID plays Nearer My God/Job4 To Thee THE PAINTER climbs a stepladder.) PAINTER cont’d But let’s not to mourn those taken from us, eh, whether by consumption, wreck, blanket, bullet or booze; in lieu let us too maximize our re-returns on every flaming foot of blood-bought soil, b-babbling ever skyward, to be obliterating, look you, great grandfather sun whose darkling howls we— (a shadow plunges down the SR wall) What was that? MAID Twin mattress? (THE PAINTER exits SL to the windows. Pause. Returns and resumes painting.) PAINTER Poor bastard. MAID A poor fella, bugged by fleas, picks one of ’em off, looks at it and puts it back. His pal watchin’ says, “Why the hell didn’t ya kill it?” And the fella says, “That wasn’t the one that was bitin’ me.” PAINTER You’re a hard one. MAID I have my reasons. (plays and sings Hill’s The White Slave5 to L. Friedman’s Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland.) Come with me now, my girly, Don't sleep out in the cold Your face and tresses curly Will bring you fame and gold Automobiles to ride in, diamonds and silks to wear You'll be a star bright, down in the red light You'll make your fortune there. PAINTER/WOMAN (drops role) Oh, do dry up! MAID/MAN Aw shucks, toots, I was just hitting my stride. PAINTER/WOMAN Chickenfat! (resumes role) And will the proprietors be at home this season? MAID What do I care? Long as the bacon keeps a-coming. PAINTER They keep us warm and dry and fed. Alive. MAID/MAN Boho lapdogs mooching on a slumming old deb and her blue- collar sponger. I feels like a kept woman. I hate my life. Take me to the Himalyas. PAINTER/WOMAN Hee-mall-lie-ya. MAID/MAN Hee-mall-lie-yas? PAINTER/WOMAN Ya. MAID/MAN Ok. Take me there. (THE PAINTER paints mountain peaks on the fourth wall while THE MAID plays the first of Scriabin’s Deux Poèmes Op. 71.)6 MAID/MAN cont’d Show me where the temple goes. (THE PAINTER completes the scene.) MAID/MAN cont’d Now the celebrants gather. (While THE MAID plays the second of the Deux Poèmes7 THE PAINTER dances.) (Finished, THE MAID closes the lid, stands, and bows to kiss the piano. THE PAINTER stands in front of the double door.) PAINTER/WOMAN Once more Infinity Plummets from light Casting its image In dark stone (THE MAID takes a candle from inside the bench, lights it, and lies curled up, thumb in mouth. Meanwhile, THE PAINTER exits to the back room from where we hear a phonograph being cranked and the crackle of a 78 rpm recording of Scriabin’s8 Vers La Flamme. This will continue to its and the play’s end. THE PAINTER returns, swinging a smoking censer.) MAID & PAINTER/MAN & WOMAN Stifling, womb-chafed, Towards Death’s white sun We rush to drown In fiery ecstasy (THE PAINTER/WOMAN exits SL. In concert the room disappears as the fourth wall gauze flickers images of fire and flame, The Russian Revolution, US labor strikes, WW1 trench warfare, swimming sperm, a suckling infant, Scriabin’s mother, star formation nebulae, etc., on toward the heart of the sun. The projections fade along with the locked groove at the recording’s end.) 1. The Tramp - listen on YouTube. 2. There is Power in a Union - listen on YouTube. 3. Down to the Soup Line - listen on YouTube. 4. Nearer My Job to Thee - listen on YouTube. 5. The White Slave - listen on YouTube. 6. Scriabin, Poème Op.71 No.1 - listen on YouTube. 7. Scriabin, Poème Op. 71 No.2 - listen on YouTube. 8. Scriabin, Verse la flamme - listen on YouTube.