Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Let Dogs Lie -- Part 2

Podcast.

The dogs, which have been lying asleep until now wake up at the sound of the word "beer." They roll and stretch. They shake their collars and make rattling noises.

MOUCHIE

Beer?

MACHIAVELLI

No. I mean yes. He's wanting beer. He's also wanting to make her shut her yapping mouth.

MOUCHIE

What makes you think you're such hot stuff when it comes to human interpretation?

Montaigne and Mallarme stir. Mallarme stretches.

MONTAIGNE

Don't you just hate being in heat? It interferes with my ability to concentrate. I'm trying to write a series of essays about the human condition, and all I can think of is my canine condition.

MALLARME

Canine condition?

MONTAIGNE

In heat, man. In heat.

MALLARME

That sounds like a human condition to me. An observation borne out by birth rates & other statistics, I might add.

MONTAIGNE

And grandiose delusions.

MALLARME

Savior (I mean sperm-spreader) of the universe?

MONTAIGNE

Oh my goodness how I hate that ugly yucky blasphemous mouth of yours.

MALLARME

And that's why you mount me in your sleep and bay my name, right?

MONTAIGNE

I'm onto your scent.

MALLARME

And I'm an animal.

MONTAIGNE

Anger is the same as sudden courage.

At the close of Montaigne's words, Mallarme lunges forward and bites Montaigne on the leg.

MONTAIGNE

Hey! Stop it!

(Mallarme looks up.)

Mallarme, you are so stupid when you've been reading Hobbes.

(Mallarme bites Montaigne on the other leg.)

Hey! Stop it! Bite someone who matters. I'm an artist & a writer. No one will care if I agree or don't agree with your political viewpoints, Mallarme. You've gotta bite someone who matters.

Looks over to center-stage to Grizz and RENSSELAER.

Like them.

MALLARME

(Howling) What do I have to make you start loving me again?

MONTAIGNE

For one thing, you can stop biting me. It messes up my train of thought.

RENSSELAER

(Wistfully.)

When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me that once I put a razor to my legs, they would never be the same. They would be covered with thick, curly, dark hair and I'd be forced to shave them every day, or be scorned by all men.

(Pause.)

I didn't shave my legs until I was 15. (Pause.)

That's not exactly true. I used to try my mother's razor when I was 5, 6, 7--until I got sick of cutting myself on her scary & tricky safety razor.

(Pause.)

"Safety." What a stupid word. It always indicates a condition of falseness. Of deliberate obfuscation of danger.

The are dogs settling down on the rug again. Montaigne and Mallarme are sniffing the air cautiously. Machiavelli is scrutinizing Grizz and RENSSELAER. Mouchie is rolling on the rug.

MACHIAVELLI

Look at her. She's trying to get his attention by making some stupid melodrama out of razor blades. Look at that manipulation -- she's not as good at it as she thinks she is, though. Razor blade talk is always some kind of code for suicidal tendencies.

(Pause.)

She cut herself?

(Makes a disgusted pfff sound with lips.)

Please.

I'd like to see that.

(Says next lines in high-pitched falsetto)

Oh dear. Rescue me, help me, work me, save me.

I'll show her suicidal tendencies!

MOUCHIE

Aren't you the classic dog?

MACHIAVELLI

Huh?

MOUCHIE

The classic pampered pet.

MACHIAVELLI

What the heck are you talking about?

MOUCHIE

You think you're a human. But you're still just a dog.

(Sits up. Points a paw at Machiavelli.)

A DOG.

(Montaigne growls at Mallarme. Mouchie pauses for emphasis.)

D-O-G.

(Mallarme yelps as Montaigne lunges forward.)

Shut up, you two. You're as bad as them. (Gestures to RENSSELAER and Grizz, who are frozen in melodramatic poses, RENSSELAER with head bowed on table, Grizz with arms crossed defiantly.)

D-O-G.

MACHIAVELLI

Acronym for GOD.

MOUCHIE

Well, you sure don't know a thing about dogs, or canine-nature.

MACHIAVELLI

What's there to know?

MOUCHIE

For one thing, you're a pack dog. A hunter. So what you think is ho analysis isn't that at all. You're not analyzing. You're hunting. You're a scent-hound. It's bred into you. It's in your genetic code.

MACHIAVELLI

If you're trying to tell me that I'm just some genetic experiment --

MOUCHIE

Gone horribly wrong--

MACHIAVELLI

And my talents--

MOUCHIE

Your instincts--

MACHIAVELLI

Were only developed to be exploited--

MOUCHIE

Used in a fox hunt so young rich boys can get their "first blood"--

MACHIAVELLI

Right now I want to bite you. Is that instinct or free will?

MOUCHIE

You're a scent-hound.

(Machiavelli lunges forward and bites Mouchie in the haunches.)

Hey! Why'd you bite me? That hurt!

MACHIAVELLI

Just instinct, I guess. I'm not responsible, right? I'm bred that way.

A chair clatters to the floor. RENSSELAER abruptly lifts her head. Grizz smirks at the audience.

Grizz turns to the audience and addresses them.

GRIZZ

What'ya think of that? Thanking me for shutting her up? She's so full of shit. You see it. I see it.

(Pause.)

So why do I love her so much?

(Leans over and straightens up the chair he has knocked to the floor. RENSSELAER appears to be in a state of shock. She is looking blankly at the box on the table. It is obvious she is emotionally affected by Grizz's interruption, but she cannot respond in a direct way to him. Even her gaze toward him is indirect. She seems very fragile, if not in flesh in spirit.)

RENSSELAER

"Woman Shaving Her Legs." "Eau de lisque." "Man Surrounded by Enigma." "Mr. X-Ray."

(Pause.)

Do you have to name something in order for it to be art?

(She reaches for the box.)

It's time. It's almost time and I hate it.

GRIZZ

Most of the time she doesn't even know I exist. Oh sure, when it's convenient for her, or when she's lonely, she'll throw me a bone. But most of the time, she just uses me to keep her act going -- her "Miss Superior" act I mean -- she just has to be the Queen Bee.

I still emulate her, though.

RENSSELAER

(softly)

Emulation is grief arising from seeing oneself excelled or exceeded by his or her concurrent.

GRIZZ

Hey! Don't you have even just one original thought? Here you go ripping off Hobbes again. Why can't you think for yourself?

RENSSELAER

The passion contrary to glory, proceeding from apprehension of our own infirmity, is called humility.

GRIZZ

I know you'll try to keep running. Ruin my life. Such as it is. Aphorisms are comfortable but you're no Rochefoucauld.

RENSSELAER

Mesh. Echoes in a closed room. Blues played in a freight elevator. You've got a lot of nerve.

GRIZZ

A lot of hiding going on.

RENSSELAER

Lot of words used to ward off fear.

(Pause.)

Words like "friendship" and "love" and "commitment" and "values."

Abstractions I practice by keeping a pet. That's why I have dogs.

(Assumes a very stern expression.)

Dogs are dogs in spite of categories --

(Pause.)

or breeds --

(Pause.)

or scents.

^^^^^^^^^continued in part 3
LET DOGS LIE - Part I
A play in one act

by Susan Smith Nash

copyright 1996 by Susan Smith Nash, all rights reserved

Please register all performances in advance by contacting Susan Smith Nash at susan@beyondutopia.com Also, please inquire about scholarships, grants, and prizes available for those who perform this play and provide information about the performance (reviews, photographs, copy of the program, etc.) Special incentives / prizes available to repertory groups using high school and undergraduate students. Please note that this play and others are collected in catfishes & jackals, published by potes & poets press, and available through Small Press Distribution. http://www.spdbooks.org



Performance history: This play was first performed in February 1997 at St. Gregory's College in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The play was directed by Dr. Susan Procter. Many thanks and fond memories to everyone at St. Gregory's College, and to Father Lawrence, Father Victor, Sister Veronica. The wonderful people of St. Gregory's blessed my life in many ways -- ways I'm still discovering. The play was also performed at DC Art Center in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC, in April 1997.

No comments: