These are the rules.
This Saturday will be the first reading of a drastically updated draft of my play, once titled Asylum and now titled The Seer and the Witch. And one of my favorite things to do is to share a long-ago-cut scene from the very first draft of the play, back when it was a total train wreck, unfit for public consumption. The character that used to be called Alice is now called Emily; The character that used to be called Daniel is now called Greer; The character called Elizabeth is now called Eleanor; The madwomen are no more. I’m pretty sure that I had just finished reading the complete works of Sarah Kane when I wrote the first draft of this play…
Scene 6. [dream] Any space, outside the contextual markers of time or place.
ALICE: You came.
DANIEL: I had to.
ALICE: What are the rules here?
DANIEL: No rules.
ALICE: We’ll say we’re in love, then.
DANIEL: We’re in love.
ALICE: And we’ll remove from each other the things we hate most and we will make each other perfect. As a show of solidarity, you can go first.
DANIEL: All right.
He reaches out and, as gently as one can do such things, he rips her eyes from her skull. He puts them in his pocket. She makes no noise. She weeps blood.
ALICE: That was to be expected. But it won’t change what you want changed.
DANIEL: It’s your turn.
ALICE: Before I go, I want you to say that you love me.
DANIEL: I love you.
ALICE: You lie.
DANIEL: Not here.
ALICE: But you do lie.
DANIEL: Everybody lies.
ALICE: I don’t. No point.
DANIEL: Look where telling the truth got you.
ALICE: I should really start taking my sleeping medication again. I’ve been tonguing them and hiding them in my jewelry box. I can tell you these things here.
ALICE: But I should really keep taking them. Not that they do much for me, but I can feel my heavy body, and it ruins the illusion of this other world.
DANIEL: It’s your turn.
ALICE: All right.
She reaches forward and touches his face, patting him gently. She cuts out his tongue, hands it to him. He puts it in his pocket.
ALICE: I hope you didn’t have something left to say.
ALICE: Is there anything else you want to take away?
DANIEL: (he opens his mouth as though to speak. Blood pours out.)
ALICE: I’m sorry, I should have let you go twice.
DANIEL: (he shakes his head)
ALICE: Are you in pain?
DANIEL: (shakes his head, no)
ALICE: I’m not either.
DANIEL: (he reaches forward and tugs at her clothes)
ALICE: Now, yes, now. Now is fine.
She kisses him and pulls back red, their blood mingling. They undress. Naked, Daniel reaches out for Alice’s hand, and places it on his chest.
Elizabeth emerges from the shadows, watching.
(And if that weren’t crazy enough…)
Scene 8. [dream] Alice and the madwomen are playing a round of poker. They are sitting at a table and chairs built for a child. They are all wearing dress-up-like clothes and smoking cigars. There are stuffed animals in the empty chairs — they, too, are smoking cigars. Elizabeth watches.
ALICE: What are the rules?
MADWOMAN 1: Five card draw, deuces wild.
DANIEL: Give me 2 cards.
MADWOMAN 2: You.
ALICE: My cards have no faces.
MADWOMAN 1: Fold.
ALICE: All right. (she puts her cards down.)
MADWOMAN 2: Bet?
MADWOMAN 1: (she rips hair off his head and places it on the table) I call.
MADWOMAN 2: (rips out a tooth, tosses it in with the hair) All right. What’ve you got?
ALICE: Someone’s here.
They all look up at Elizabeth.
MADWOMAN 1: If you’re gonna stay, you’ve gotta play.
ALICE: Those are the rules.
MADWOMAN 2: You have to leave if you’re not going to make a bet.
Madwoman 3 is dead upstage.
ELIZABETH: What happened to her?
ALICE: She didn’t want to play.
Saturday, April 14 @2pm
The Seer and the Witch by Jennifer Lane
Directed by Kimberly Faith Hickman
Featuring Megan Channell, Jed Dickson, Sofia Jean Gomez, Maria Maloney, Jens Rasmussen, Carly Robins
The past and present collide in the forms of Eleanor and Emily, two women who haunt the same room at the Elgin Institute of Mental Health. Though they live a century apart, finding each other may be their only hope of a life outside hospital walls.
The New Ohio Theatre
154 Christopher Street (btw Greenwich & Washington)
No Reservations Required - $10 Suggested Donation (cash only)
Sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery and Monsieur Touton Wine