Friday, September 30, 2005

Endangered - A Play in One Act (Part III)


ULFIE: What are you two doing here? Haven’t you caused me enough problems? What are you doing to the cats?

MERCK: You never told me you WORKED here.

MANDOLIN: Ulfie, you’re doing it again. Remember what I told you? Deception is only self-deception.

ULFIE: Oh. You’re still into your Zen-Master phase. I don’t need your fake-philosophy sound bites.

MERCK: She’s done this to you, too?

ULFIE: Where are the cheetahs?

MERCK: I thought we were at the leopard cage. I don’t see any monkeys.

MANDOLIN: What did you ever see in her?

MERCK: What we do is not relevent to each other -- only to the frame. The frame keeps us inside. The frame relates us to each other.

MANDOLIN: Frame? Bars of a cage?

ULFIE: Outside the frame, spiritual transformation is possible.

MERCK: You’re wrong. It all goes on inside the frame.

ULFIE: What about those outside, looking in?

MERCK: Like us looking at the cats?

ULFIE: And the cats looking at us.

MERCK: That’s not the same. They can’t get out.

ULFIE: And we can?

MERCK: As soon as the artist thinks she or he is outside the frame -- well, it’s not art any more. Art is inside the frame, too.

ULFIE: Inside the cage?

MANDOLIN: You two don’t know what you’re talking about.

MERCK: If you’re such an artist, you go into the cage.

ULFIE: Hey. Don’t do that. Can’t you read the sign?

(Boethius and Dante pop up from behind the rocks.)

BOETHIUS: Surely she’s not going to come inside here.

DANTE: That’s great. Zoops inside AND outside.

BOETHIUS: (sighing) Well, I guess I’ll just be forced to maul her.

DANTE: Look. He’s got his gun.

BOETHIUS: Forget it. I’m having some fun with this Zoop. She’s been getting on my nerves.

DANTE: Boethius!

MANDOLIN: I’m going inside. I’m talking to them. I understand their pain better than they do --

ULFIE: Mandolin!

(Mandolin sticks arms through bars of cage. Boethius runs toward her, yowling and roaring.)

BOETHIUS: Yah, yah, yah! Does this scare you? I’m a pacifist, you know -- I’d never hurt you.

(runs forward)

All my rage is directed inward. That’s why my fur is so ratty.

MANDOLIN: Merck! Photograph me while they shred me and gouge out my eyes. It will be my final artistic statement.

ULFIE: I don’t want to have to do this! (raises gun) Get away from the cage! I’m going to have to tranq the cat.

(shoots tranquilizer gun -- hits Mandolin by mistake. Mandolin falls to ground, arm inside cage)

BOETHIUS: Damn it! You missed me! I was looking forward to being tranqued out for the afternoon!

MANDOLIN: I’m dying -- I’m dyyyyiiiiinnnng.

ULFIE: No you’re not. You’re going to be sedated for a few hours. I told you to move out of the way, didn’t I.

MERCK: Will she be okay?

ULFIE: Oh, just a little dazed for a while, that’s all. Probably shouldn’t drive.

MERCK: What are you going to do about the cats?

(They look at Boethius and Dante. The two cheetahs are sitting down, looking very dejected.)

BOETHIUS: Dante, what’s going to happen to us?

DANTE: I don’t know.

ULFIE: People torment the cats all the time. I don’t know why they do it. I guess they think it’s fun to see them get angry.

MERCK: It’s cruel.

ULFIE: The more “natural” the habitat, the more we can blind ourselves to our insensitivity and arrogance.

MERCK: Can we let them go? Give them their freedom.

ULFIE: Of course not.

MERCK: Are you going to have them put down? Killed?



ULFIE: I’m going to give them bigger rocks to hide behind. Then I’m quitting.

MERCK: What are you going to do?

ULFIE: Will you marry me?

MERCK: I knew I wasn’t imagining things -- we DID have something together.

ULFIE: We always have --

MERCK: What about her? (gestures to Mandolin, who is seated on the ground, humming the theme to Andrew Lloyd Weber’s CATS, but it’s very offkey)

ULFIE: What do you want to do?

MERCK: Take her picture. (Takes her picture with a Polaroid. Places photo next to Mandolin). Well Mandolin. Here’s something for you. Hope you like it.

ULFIE: Let’s go -- I need to get rid of this tranquilizer gun.

MERCK: Wait. (Takes off sweater. Underneath is a baggy t-shirt which reads:)


Real Life

ULFIE: Good idea. (Takes off Zoo Security t-shirt. Underneath is a different t-shirt with the following word on it.)


MERCK: I love you, Ulfie.

ULFIE: I love you, Merck.

(They walk offstage.)

BOETHIUS: Did you see that?

DANTE: (wiping eyes) Yes.

BOETHIUS: What are you crying about?

DANTE: I always cry at weddings.

BOETHIUS: Oh, I know. We’re just a couple of old maids and we never get to do anything like that any more.

(Looks at Mandolin.)

You know, I feel sort of sorry for her.

DANTE: It’s all your fault. You should feel sorry.

BOETHIUS: Does she have a camera?

DANTE: Yeah, the other one left it there.

BOETHIUS: Why don’t we do her a favor. Let’s really give her something to photograph.

DANTE: What are you talking about?

BOETHIUS: Can you reach her hat?

DANTE: Ugggh. You want me to TOUCH that?

BOETHIUS: It’s fake fur, isn’t it?

DANTE: All the same, it looks real. (Extends paw through cage and grabs her fur hat.) You want me to get the fake fur bag, too?

BOETHIUS: Yes. Look at me. Just look at me. My fur is worse than ever -- even this fake fur is better.

DANTE: Will you stop? Mine is just as bad. What to you have in mind?

BOETHIUS: Put it on. (Dante puts on the hat) My don’t you look silly. Do you remember when we were both absolutely drop-dead beautiful? Throw me the bag. (Boethius draps it around her neck -- does some campy posing)

Now look. She’s waking up -- she’ll take a picture of us and she’ll be rich and famous.

DANTE: Are you sure?

BOETHIUS: Sure! Zoops love this dreck. Look at this.

DANTE: Look at this pose!

BOETHIUS: Aren’t we just the lovely pair!

(Mandolin staggers to her feet, gathers her belongings, clutches head -- finds hat missing. Looks in cage and shrieks.)

MANDOLIN: AARRGGH!!!!! HOW HIDEOUS!!!! What has happened?? What have you done? WHY ARE YOU WEARING THOSE THINGS? Who have you mauled????

(Runs shrieking offstage)

DANTE: Well. That was another failed attempt at art.

BOETHIUS: I give up. I don’t understand that Zoop at all. (walks toward rock) Well, I’m taking a nap. This has worn me out.

DANTE: Where’s breakfast?

(joins Boethius behind rock)

(Merck runs onstage -- obviously overjoyed -- holds up hand with ring on it)

MERCK: I knew I could trust my senses -- I knew he really cared! And now we’re married! What more can I ask of art? There is more to knowledge than the five senses. Knowledge is a simply a promise of more knowledge. It’s all in technique and not in the image. It’s how you see, not what you see.

And still. Action and perception. They go together.

Like mange and the perception of being caged.

Like being tranqed and fighting the realization we have to live somewhere in relation to a frame.

Like greeting cards and

(pauses. wipes eyes)


I feel happy and yet, I feel -- sad?

(looks toward the rocks)

I miss you two leopards -- no -- CHEETAHS. I miss you. Do you miss Africa?


Okay. I won’t ask things when I already know the answer. That’s cruel, too, isn’t it?

I just came back to tell you how beautiful you are.

(Pauses. Raises voice).

You’re beautiful! (turns to go offstage -- begins to run) I’ll be late -- but remember -- you’re beautiful. (offstage -- voice, echoing) And -- I love you!

The End.