Dramatic Texts >> Bianca Bagatourian >>REMNANTS OF A LIQUID WORLD

 

 

 

REMNANTS OF A LIQUID WORLD



By Bianca Bagatourian

 

Time:
PAST
PRESENT
FUTURE

Place:
Memory
Realty
Fantasy

 

 

 

Characters:

SHE
FRIEND
MOTHER
FATHER

Off stage COMPUTER VOICES:
HOMA
Ladan
Ali

 

 

prologue-
Closed curtains

SHE

I come from a land where there was a thing called a Shah. That's king in English. And he was almighty and powerful and very rich. And he was out of touch with the poor. Then I came to a land without a Shah, but I found I was mistaken.

Shah-en-Shah. King of all Kings. A leader who thinks he can dominate all leaders from all countries. Who knows, maybe the rulers in this country, the country that boasts of democracy, are Shah's at heart, too.

And so I think to myself, how far has my journey over oceans and seas taken me? I thought I arrived at a democracy and here I find autocracy, or plutocracy or hypocrisy or something like that. Nothing is what it seems here. I'm not so good with politics, I just know what I feel and things just don't feel right.

Lights out
Scene 1-
Curtains rise. Darkness.
A small TV turns on. We hear the theme song from a sixties show:
Tv:
Eddie Albert: Green acres is the place to be.
Farm living is the life for me.
Land spreading out,
so far and wide.
Keep Manhattan,
just give me that countryside.

Eva gabor: New York is where I'd rather stay.
I get allergic smelling hay.
I just adore a penthouse view
Darling, I love you,
but give me Park Avenue.

Eddie Albert: The Chores.
Eva gabor: The Stores.
Eddie Albert: Fresh air.
Eva gabor: Times Square.
Eddie Albert: You are my wife.
Eva gabor: Goodbye city life.
Together: Green Acres, we are there!"
Lights up
SHE'S apartment.
SHE is watching TV. FRIEND knocks and enters, holding two ice cream cones. All action between
SHE and FRIEND takes place in the
apartment. The apartment is in a
fish tank.

FRIEND
Vanilla or strawberry?
SHE
Hello.
FRIEND
Thought this might cheer you up.
SHE
Strawberry.
He hands her a cone.
FRIEND
I thought vanilla was your favorite. How are you doing?

SHE shrugs, turns off the TV.
FRIEND sits down.
SHE takes a lick of the ice-cream.

Lights shift.
SHE
Somewhere in the dark chapters of my mind, it exists. There is a dark room. I am there. Nothing else.
.............
Many Persian carpets roll down.
MOTHER and CHILD enter. All MOTHER and CHILD action takes place in front of fish tank.
CHILD carries comic books.

MOTHER
Are you coming?
Child
In a minute...
CHILD sits down.
MOTHER
What on earth are you doing?
CHILD
SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSH! I'm reading.
MOTHER
That's good, honey, but we really ought to go now.
CHILD
Can I tell you about my story? Can I tell you about it? There's this ghost...his name is Casper and he's really friendly and he's always trying to do good things for everyone and he has these friends-
MOTHER
You can tell me all about it later, honey. Now get up.
Nothing.
MOTHER
I said get up! We have to go.
CHILD
You'll never listen to me later. You don't ever have time. Why don't you ever have time, mom? Huh? Why? Why?
MOTHER
Stop asking so many questions and come along.
CHILD
We always have to go.
MOTHER
That's because we're always late.
CHILD
And you always say that.
MOTHER
Well, wouldn't it be nice if for once, just for once, wouldn't it be nice to get somewhere early?
CHILD
I don't care if we're late or early. I DON"T CARE!
MOTHER
But I do. One day you'll learn the importance of NOT being late. Now don't drag your feet and come along.
CHILD
Don't drag your feet! Don't do this! Don't do that! This time thing is really starting to get to me.

MOTHER drags CHILD off by hand-
Carpets roll up.
.............
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
SHE
All feeling is that of childhood. Dolls, toys, swings...And yet...Yet if I tried to go there today, where would I go? There I am...playing... in my first school. Now we're in class. Now we're whispering... laughing...giggling. I sit back and wonder if this school still exists.
Lights shift.
Friend
Of course it exists. We were all there.
She
But can you show it to me?
FRIEND
I have photographs.
she
I ask again, can you show it to me? Can you take me there by the hand? Point it out?
FRIEND
I cannot.
SHE
Friend, does it exist?
FRIEND
It exists.
SHE
It exists in my head and in your head and inside the heads of some others and if I want to go there I have to go inside those collective heads.

SHE sits on the floor.

SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
REALITY...
SHE
Is this what happens to revolution refugees? Is this where they go? To memory? Is this where they come alive? In the dark recesses of my mind I see eight hundred thousand children crying, calling, longing and what does it matter whose revolution it was? It just was. It's the changes of our revolutions together that count...Throwing up all over the world.
Lights shift

FRIEND
Eat your ice-cream.

SHE takes a lick.
Lights shift
again.
SHE
As the ice-cream melts in my mouth, it takes me back to many such occasions where ice-cream melted in my mouth in a similar way. Its frozen texture takes me to a Friday night.
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
SHE
The flavor is strawberry as I indulge on the hood of a beige Carmenghia. I am small, the world around me large, and it all seems to be gathered here in the town square. Mothers, fathers, daughters, grandmothers, wives, children.

MOTHER and FATHER enter.

MOTHER
Everyone's here!
FATHER
There's Herand-
MOTHER
And Anush and Alek. Not a soul missing. Such a pleasant, cool summer's night.
MOTHER
Perfect for a summer drive and to stop for ice-cream...
MOTHER and FATHER begin to dance
SHE
Such luxury represented only in the sweetness of the dessert in the year 1966, when such luxuries can still be afforded amongst the people of Iran.
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
MOTHER and FATHER dance themselves off the stage.
SHE
Another Friday night. This time I taste a creamy vanilla as I observe the happiness around me. Bright lights surround the live area until it becomes almost day. A band is playing at one end and everyone is dancing. Boys with girls, girls with girls, moms with grandmoms, dads with moms and every other combination. I sit at a table soaking it all in.

FRIEND
Come dance with me.
SHE
I don't want to dance.
FRIEND
Why not?
SHE
I like to watch.
FRIEND
Come.

SHE turns away.
SHE
As I watch the dancing, I sense something so incredibly pure about this gaiety, so incredibly sweet, it leaves the appropriate taste in my mouth of vanilla ice-cream.
Lights fade

ScENE 2-
.............
Persian carpets roll down.
MOTHER and CHILD enter with shopping bags.

Child
Where are we off to today, Mom?
Mother
To the bazaar. This way.
CHILD
Goodie. I love shopping.
Mother
I'm making Sabzi Pollo for dinner. I need herbs...lots of herbs...Tarragon...Dill...Parsley ...Coriander...and Chives. I have enough saffron at home...ah. Here they are. Let's see if they're fresh.
CHILD
Mmmmmmmmmmmm. They smell good.
MOTHER
Squeeze them like this between your fingers and you can smell them more. But, don't dilly-dally...We haven't much time.
CHILD
Yes, mother. Sure, mother.
how
Don't be a pest and help me with these bags now.
CHILD
Where else do we need to go?
MOTHER
The fishmongers. Over there. I need white fish for the rice.
CHILD
Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew. Look at those beady eyes. Do we have to have fish? How about my favorite? The one with the pomegranates and something. Why don't you make that?
MOTHER
Pomegrates and walnuts. It's called Fes-en-jan. But, not tonight. Another time. Hurry now. We still need buy some bread.
CHILD
The baker...That way!
MOTHER
What kind of bread would you like?
CHILD
The flat kind. The one I can roll up.
MOTHER
Some Lavosh Naan, please. Three tomans? Thank you very much. Homewards now!
chiLD
One more minute, Mom. Can I...Can I-
MOTHER
We have to go! What do you want?
CHILD
Please, Mom, pretty please, please. Can I get some ice cream?
MOTHER
Alright. But after that...it's straight home. Over here.
CHILD
I promise. After the ice-cream, it's straight home.
MOTHEr
Quickly. What flavor do you want?
CHILD
The rosewater kind.
MOTHER
Two rosewater ice-creams Thank you. Don't spill. Oh, look at the time now. That's it. We're definitely late now.

MOTHER drags CHILD off.
Carpets roll up.
..............
ScENE 3-
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
SHE
The next time I vividly recall tasting vanilla ice-cream it is four years later. We sit at one of the many newly opened restaurants. As you walk in the front entrance, you pass through water falls so thin they resemble walls on either side. I sit facing these walls. I like to watch the people as they walk through. They are distorted and blurred, shimmering as though in a dream. Our party is quiet and reserved, conforming to the newness of the atmosphere. I eat my ice-cream with a touch of boredom. It fails to awaken in me the delights and passions of previous years. It tastes somewhat different, a more mature, tired vanilla than that of before. I sit in my disillusionment and wonder at the shimmering figures that continue to enter. The year is 1970.

Lights fade
SCENE 4-
Blue light. All internet voices are heard from off stage. SHE is typing on the computer.

SHE
Is there anybody out there?
HOMA
Can anybody hear me, it's Homa?
ALI
It's a slow night.
LADAN
Ali. It's Ladan. I have a few minutes . My kids have just gone to sleep. Anyone else here tonight?
SHE
Night after night I stare at the eight hundred thousand voices on the internet crying out in the dark-
HOMA
Can you hear me, now?
ALI
Good to hear from you again, Ladan. Have you managed to get in touch with Mina yet?
HOMA
Hellooo! This is Homa.
SHE
Trying to connect. . . Find one another . . . To heal . . .
LADAN
No, I haven't found her yet. But I have some other news. Guess where our school bus driver ended up?
HOMA
Can you hear me, now?
SHE
The bus driver. . . The math teacher. . .My kindergarten teacher-
ladan
In Illinois and guess what? He drives a bus there, too!
ALI
No! That's crazy. He's still driving a bus.
Ladan
Yeah. Just in a different country!
SHE
Different Country. Different roads. Everyone trying to find someone . . .to belong . . .to find roots . . .to find memories.
HOMA
Hello. This is Homa. Doesn't anybody hear me?
SHE
To make sure they exist.
HOMA
I'll try back tomorrow. Bye now.

Lights fade
Scene 5-
SHE is watching TV.
FRIEND knocks and enters.

FRIEND
What're you watching?
SHE
Gilligan. I love Gilligan's Island.
FRIEND
I remember Gilligan...but I remember Ginger more.
SHE
Did you know that her name was an amalgam of Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant?
FRIEND
Ginger Grant?
SHE
And did you know that Tina Louise, the actress who played her, refused to come back for any of the movie sequels because she said the role destroyed her career!
FRIEND
How do you know this stuff?
SHE
The island, which was supposed to be 300 miles southeast of Honolulu, was right here, just east of Los Angeles. Echo Park. That's where it was filmed.
FRIEND
You're shattering my illusions.
SHE
Such a great show. When it first began, the producer received telegrams from audience members that said "For weeks now, we have been watching American citizens stranded on some Pacific island. We spend millions in foreign aid. Why not send one U.S. naval vessel to rescue those poor people before they starve to death?"
fRIEND
They thought Gilligan's Island was for real?
SHE
Yup. To some people, foreign aid was that real.
fRIEND
They never left that stupid island, did they?
SHE
Nope. And in the end, the show got pushed aside to make room for G U N S M O K E.
FRIEND
It was just a stupid show. Why do you like it so much?
Theme song from Gilligan's Island plays softly in the background.
SHE
Isn't it obvious? You got a bunch of castaways who lived in a happy place. They go on a three hour boat trip and are lost in a storm. Against their own choice, they wake up to find that they're separated from their home and cannot get back. Sound familiar?
FRIEND turns off the TV.

FRIEND
But the castaways in Gilligan's Island go on living. They form a new society...
SHE
Yeah, but they're not happy. They're not the way they were. Look at Mr. And Mrs. Howell. They were millionaires and they're living in a straw hut. And the skipper, he's supposed to be skippering the high seas, and now he's a skipper without a boat! How sad is that? And Ginger, a Hollywood bombshell adored by millions, permanently ripped away from it all. They're miserable. That show's not a comedy, it's a tragedy. In every episode, they're looking for a savior and every time, they come up short. I sympathize with that. Like Wile E. Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, he gets so close...
But it never happens. And so, they all sit on the beach, they just sit there like lumps, not knowing what to do next. They just sit there, waiting for something to come along. And now...I just sit here...I just sit here on my couch...Like a castaway.
Silence.
FRIEND
Anyway, I brought you something.
SHE
Oh. I wonder what?

He hands her a tub of Vanilla Haagen-Daaz.

FRIEND
Try this vanilla.

SHE digs in.
Lights shift
SHE
I never tasted ice-cream again in Iran after that night at the new restaurant. Somehow, it lost its flavor for me then. The 1979 revolution swept away the Shah's monarchy, along with a lot of other things, and brought the Ayatollah Khomeini to power.

SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
REALITY...

SHE
It is Friday night TEN years after the revolution as I sit in Los Angeles with this tub of Haagen-Daaz. I swirl the vanilla around so as to extract every hint of its flavor. It tastes sweet and cold and its texture carries all the physical characteristics of ice-cream and that is all. I think back to the revolution that happened soon after the night of the shimmering figures and I wonder how long it will be before Iran regains the flavor of its people, the pureness of its land, but, most of all, I wonder how long it will be before I can taste the sweetness in the air of a cool summer's night.
Lights shift

FRIEND
How is it?
SHE
What?
FRIEND
The ice-cream.
SHE
Oh.
FRIEND
Haagen Daaz is the best.
SHE
Don't you understand? The best ice cream is gone. They stole it. They stole it from us.
Friend
They. They. They. Who are they? They did this. They did that. Who is this THEY?
She
They...They who caused the revolution. They that shattered our childhood. They who did this to us-
FRIEND
Are you blaming the religious clerics who took over? Is that who you're blaming? Is that who they are?
SHE
Does anybody really know who they are? Where are the facts? What is the truth? What will the history books say? Who will write those history books? What will the children learn in schools? Fictitious histories written by fictitious people?
FRIEND
The facts as we know it-
SHE
The facts as we know it all depend on your point of view. The facts now say that religion was what caused the Revolution. That the people were protesting...But was that all? The people had been protesting for years. Revolutions don't happen overnight. A country doesn't go from an autocratic pro-west monarchy to an Islamic theocracy in one day. You need armies...Leaders...You need to get organized and most of all...You need a whole lot of money. You tell me where a bunch of clerics got a whole lot of money?
FRIEND
I don't know how they managed it-
SHE
There were dozens of reports that when the demonstrators were rounded up right before the revolution, their pockets were filled with cash. Where did that come from???
FRIEND
Someone.
SHE
Someone or some group?
FRIEND
I don't know.
SHE
Exactly. So, therefore, I use the collective term they.
Whoever they is...They stole it from us. Not our country. Not our homes. Not our friends. They stole the flavor. They stole the VIBE. They destroyed and demolished my childhood until now it only exists in broken fragments in my...

Lights shift

FATHER enters.
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
SHE
I am in the deep end of a swimming pool. I cannot swim. I must swim, they tell me I must swim or I will drown.

FATHER
Swim. Swim. Swim.
SHE
I drink lots and lots of pool water. Chlorine...Sun...Air... It is all a blur. Visions of death flash before my eyes. My arms flap all over the place. My eyes burn...And suddenly...
I swim.
FATHER
Good girl.
FATHER exits.
Lights fade

Scene 6-

Channel surfing.
The TV screen is projected on the back wall. SHE holds the remote control.
FRIEND watches.
SHE
How about this?
FRIEND
Can we just watch one thing?
SHE
There's so many choices.
Flips channel.
SHE
HBO.
Flips channel.
SHE
SHOWTIME.
Flips channel.
SHE
CINEMAX.
Flips channel.
SHE
Nickolodeon. IT'S ENDLESS. I don't have to leave my sofa.
FRIEND
So many choices here and all you do is sit on this sofa and watch Nickolodeon?
sHE
Wouldn't it be easy if it were all black and white?
Flips channel.
FRIEND
But it isn't. It's a color world out there with plenty of choices.
SHE
And all I do is watch TV.
Flips channel.
FRIEND
You call this living?
Flips channel.
FRIEND
Stop flipping!
Flips channel.
FRIEND
The years are moving on...it's been twenty five years since the revolution.
Flips channel.
FRIEND
You can't stay locked up in here forever.
Flips channel.
FRIEND
You never leave the apartment. You don't answer the phone. You just stare out of the window, like a fish in an aquarium-
She
Like a fish out of water.
Flips channel.
Friend
You have to move on. I moved on. I got a good job and I'm fine. You have to go out. Meet people. This is nuts.
Flips channel.
SHE
What happened to us wasn't nuts?
FRIEND
Things happen. Wars happen. Famines happen, earthquakes happen. Genocide happens. You see it on the television every day. It's a bad world. But people get over things. They have to.
SHE
How do you know? Is there a big "I'm over it" sign you can hang around your neck? People don't necessarily get over traumas like this. They merely go on.
Flips channel.
FRIEND
But you were the toughest one of all. You had dreams and aspirations. Whoever would have thought...Twenty five years later, that you are still not over it.
SHE
And you are still bringing me ice cream!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Flips channel.

FRIEND
You used to love it. Maybe you'll love it again someday.
SHE
So what if taste buds are my only casualty? I have "taste impairment".
Flips channel.
FRIEND
Is that what the said? What does the doctor think.How can you not taste anything? How is that possible?
Flip!
Flip!
Flip!
SHE
Doctor, schmocter! Distorted taste, zinc deficiency, the beginnings of Alzheimer's, neural pathways innervating the taste buds subsequently leading to viral Bell's palsy, damage to the oropharynx. What the hell...I don't need a doctor, I just need to understand. My insides are on strike. That's what's wrong with me. My taste buds are striking because I need to understand how they can take away from us that which was most dear. They took away the childhood of eight hundred thousand children. Is that not a large crime? Shall we call them ice-cream thieves?
Flips channel.
FRIEND
You have your memories.
Flips channel.
SHE
But do they exist without my roots? What am I without roots? Only a fragment of someone's imagination. Of my own. Who am I? Who pulled the strings on me? Who wore the glove? Who brought me here besides my mother? Who left me here? Who?
FRIEND
Turn off that television!

Flip!
Flip!
Flip!
CLICK.
Lights fade quickly...
SCENE 7-

All internet voices are heard from off stage. SHE is typing on the computer in the blue light.
SHE
I need someone to talk to.
aLI
I'm here. It's Ali.
hOMA
I'm here too, it's Homa.
SHE
Ali, are you OK?
aLI
What do you mean by OK? OK's a pretty vague term. I guess I'm OK.
hOMA
This is Homa. Do you hear me?
SHE
I mean, really OK.
hOMA
Hello? Can you hear me now?
aLI
Under the circumstances . . .yeah . . . I'd say I'm OK.
SHE
Would you say you're OK compared to other people your age?
HOMA
I'm not OK! THis is Homa and Homa's not OK!!!
aLI
But these aren't regular circumstances.
SHE
But if they were?
aLI
But they're not! We aren't where other forty-year-olds are. We lost at least ten years of our lives. We had to start over, in a new country, from scratch. So we're ten years behind . . . At least. I guess that's OK. It has to be. How OK are you?
HOMA
I SAID I'M NOT OK!!!!
SHE
I'm don't think I'm too OK.
ALI
Time will make sure you're OK.
SHE
OK.
ALI
OK.
HOMA
Shit.

Lights fade

SCENE 8-
Back to FRIEND and SHE again.

SHE
I hear you, Homa. You just can't hear me. It's like an accident where there's no damage to the car but the passengers sustain all the trauma.
FRIEND
That's what insurance is for.
SHE
What if you have no insurance?? What if your country doesn't believe in insurance? What if three quarters of the population have no insurance
FRIEND
Then YOU sustain the trauma.
SHE
The trauma is inside my head and it swirls and swirls around and slowly leads me to...

Lights shift
again...
SHE begins to move about wildly.
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
FANTASY...
SHE
In my fantastical of fantasies, I am there again. I kiss the ground, I hug the air. There I am, in some future land. That is me, dancing in the wind. I am home. It is all there, still standing. My school, my house, my dog. I smell the air, it touches my skin. I am exhilarated. I am overwhelmed. I am in heaven. There is my dog...My dog? My dog? My dog is dead. Oh no...That must mean...No...This is not memory...Oh no no no...This is not memory at all...This is fantasy... That is right...this does not exist...No...No...No.

FRIEND tries to restrain her.
Lights shift again...

SHE
Let me quickly find my way out of luscious fantasy and move into the light of...reality...Oh so bright... moving right along straight into...

FRIEND forces her to be s t i l l .
Lights shift
again...
SHE
(Singing theme song from "Flipper")

"They call me Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning,
No-one you see, is smarter than me,
And we know Flipper, lives in a world full of wonder,
Flying there - under, under the sea!"
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
SHE
Laying in the pool. Floating on my back. Casey Kasem blaring on the American radio station. The weekly countdown. I'll stay in the water all day, eight hours at least. Until I can float no more. Until I'm a prune. Until Mom says I have to go in, or until "I Love Lucy" comes on. Until the sun goes down. But even then, I like staying in the pool. It feels even better in the dark. The air becomes slightly cooler than the water which envelopes me like a warm blanket. I feel so safe in my pool. In my multi-colored bikini on my ruby red raft with my honey of a dog. I wish life were one long summer long...
Lights fade

SCENE 9-
.............
Persian carpets roll down.
MOTHER and CHILD enter.
CHILD carries the ruby red raft...

MOTHER
Time to go in.
cHILD
Never!
MOTHER
What did you say?

child
I said... Not yet.
MOTHER
And I said, time to go in!
child
Why? Why? Why?
MOTHER
Because you've been in the water all day and you're not a fish.
child
I am a fish.
MOTHER
Enough!
child
You're always telling me it's time to go.
MOTHER
That's what mothers do.
child
That's what spoil-sports do.
MOTHER
Haven't you had enough of the pool? What do you do there all day?
child
Play games.
MOTHER
By yourself? What kind of games do you play?
child
All kinds.
MOTHER
What're they called?
child
Nothing. I make them up.
MOTHER
Show me one.
child
Really? OK. This is my favorite one. Pick a name.
MOTHER
OK. How about Vazgen?
child
Now I'm going to go underwater and say VAZGEN out loud in the water three times. Be right back.
CHILD turns around and repeats Vazgen slowly over and over. She turns back.

child
This is what the name Vazgen looks like. Heis very big and he's round... and he's made of plastic... like a beach ball and he's blue with stripes around his middle. And he has a string attached from the top so you can swing him around whenever you like.
MOTHER
What an imaginative young lady you are. Now go under water again and tell me what my name looks like?
child
I already know what you look like...I mean your name. Anahid is purple and spikey, like a star with thin lines, maybe made of something hard like steel, and she's very verrrrrrry prickly.
MOTHER
Great. Here's your towel. Out you get and inside you go!
child
And I forgot. Anahid is also a big spoil-sport.

MOTHER AND child exit.
Carpets roll up.
.............
SCENE 10-
FRIEND
But wasn't it fun? I Love Lucy, Mister Ed, Jughead and Archie...Wasn't all that Americana fun? Bubble-gum and Cracker Jacks, Richie Rich and Little Dot, Andy Griffiths. I had a blast.
He begins whistling along with the Andy Griffith tune... Doo doo doo doo-
SHE
Yeah. What a blast...At what a price. Did we know what we were selling?
FRIEND
Brownies...Girl Scout cookies. We were too young to know.
SHE
But there were those who weren't. While we were having our terrific childhood in the sun, there were poor kids dying in the south of the city from hunger. Did you ever think of that? Did you ever think of what they had to whistle about?
FRIEND
Was it so bad?
SHE
It was badder than bad.
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
MEMORY...
SHE
If you went down south, all the way south of the city where the less-fortunate-than-us lived, you'd run past a house, a slaughterhouse where they killed only sheep. That's right: sheep, not pigs. And so we once heard from this well-to-do man who traveled to Moscow to import state-of-the-art freezers to this slaughter-house that here, in front of the door, where the jube, that's the gutter, made its way, the poor people would squat with their pots and pans. The jube, a name of a low kind, from a low place. A place insults sometimes are born, a place below the ground, a place seldom seen. Here the people would sit, not to wash their hands, no, here they would sit to capture pieces of fat drenched in blood that would escape at the moment of the slaughter. Here they would gather pot after pot of sheep's blood to take home for their dinner. And so this worldly man went on to tell us that these people were animals, that they should be shot and what was the use of them littering the streets, just filth drenched in blood.

Lights fade
SceNE 11-
Blue light. All internet voices are heard from off stage. We watch a silent, color Beep Beep Road Runner cartoon projected full size on the back wall . SHE silently watches.
aLI
I spent most of my un-grown-up life trying to become a grown-up American. To talk like one. . .Walk like one.
hOMA
Anyone remember Looney Tunes?
ladaN
Bake-sales. Garage-sales. Comic-sales. I too would've sold anything at the lemonade stand to be an Ameri-Can.
hOMA
Daffy Duck. Remember Daffy Duck?
aLI
While they laughed at our accents-
HOMA
And the Road Runner. BEEP! BEEP! I loved the Road Runner.
aLI
And all our ways.
( mimicking)
ladaN
"Es-Steve es-school" said the maid when you rang the Patterson's.
HOMA
And poor Wile E. Coyote. I felt so sorry for him. No matter what he did, he could never outsmart the Road Runner. The Road Runner was always one step ahead.
ladaN
I was constantly teased because of my lack of English, as if it was my duty-
aLI
What about them when they tried to speak Farsi-
( mimicking)
ladaN
Salaaaaam AAAAAli. Chetowry!!!
aLI
Merci, Ladaaaaan . Man kaly koobam.
Shoma Chetor?
ladaN
Man ham koobam. Mamnoooon!!!!!!
aLI
Man shoma ra kaly doost daram!
( Much laughter )
aLI
That's enough .
ladaN
I've got to go, too. It's bath-time for the kids.
aLI
Ladan. . .No one ever told them how funny they sounded when they used our language.
ladaN
No. That's because they weren't funny.
aLI
No, they weren't funn y. They were God.
Cartoon ends with...
"That's All Folks."
Lights fade

SCENE 12
.............
Persian carpets roll down.
MOTHER, FATHER and CHILD enter. MOTHER carries a sheet and CHILD a basket.
Child
Why did we have to come here so early in the morning?
Mother
Because mulberries taste best when they're cool from the night air...Before the sun warms them up. Now, run along and find the biggest tree.
CHILD
Is it this one?
MOTHER
Nope, that's not it. Remember, it's the one by Auntie Hersik's house. That's how she gives directions...She says...When you get to the Mulberry tree...Veer left and follow the stone path. I don't know what she'll do if they ever cut it down.
CHILD
Is this it? How about this one?
MOTHER
Yes, yes. That's it.
MOTHER spreads out the big sheet.
MOTHER
Now come stand on the side while daddy shakes the tree.
FATHER shakes the invisible tree.
CHILD
Wow! Look at all the falling berries.
MOTHER
Mulberries.
CHILD
Mulberries. ..Everywhere.
MOTHER
That's right. These are white mulberries.
CHILD
I learned a song about a mulberry bush ... "Round and round the Mulberry bush, the Mulberry bush, the"-Can I eat them? Can I eat them now?
MOTHER
That's a silly song. There is no such thing as a mulberry bush. There are only mulberry trees.
CHILD
Mmmmmmm. Juicy! They're my favorite!
MOTHER
Careful, you'll get a stomach ache! And fill up your basket so we can take some home for later.
CHILD
Daddy, shake it some more.
FATHER shakes the tree more while CHILD claps her hands and mother sits down. He begins gathering the mulberries.
MOTHER
Isn't it a beautiful tree? Look at the drooping branches full of fruit. On balmy summer nights I remember sitting here with your aunt and listening to the sound of them falling to the ground...one by one.
chiLD
Can't we take the tree home?
MOTHER
What would your aunt do if we took it home? No one would know how to find her house anymore.
CHILD
OK. We won't take it away. These leaves. They're so big.
MOTHER
That's why we have such beautiful silk...All the mulberry trees feed all the silkworms and keep them busy. Shall we go now?
CHILD
Go? We just got here. Why can't we stay a little longer, daddy, why?
Father
Do as your mother says. She always knows best.
CHILD
NO!
MOTHER
Don't get smart with me. We can always come back another day. We must go now. We don't have a choice. Gather your stuff.
Father
She knows best.
CHILD
But the mulberries?
MOTHER
Take what you can carry. You will have mulberries for a whole week.
CHILD
And the tree? Can't we take the whole tree?
MOTHER
We must leave the tree behind.
CHILD
I must leave the tree behind.

All three exit.
Carpets roll up.
..............
Scene 13-
SHE is watching the Beverly Hillbillies.
FRIEND enters with a cooler full of ice cream...

FRIEND
Look what I brought you today. Lots and lots of flavors. Here, try Pistachio.
SHE
There's no point.
FRIEND
Of course there's a point. There's always a point.
SHE
What was the point of this revolution?
FRIEND
Some people are better off.
SHE
Yeah. The poor are still poor, the middle class is now poor and the upper class is the clergy.
FRIEND
Try some.
SHE
Like I said, there's no point. I don't taste a thing.
FRIEND
Not even a little.
SHE
You're wasting your time.
FRIEND
You must feel how cold it is?
SHE
I told you, I feel the temperature...It's just flavor that I've lost.
FRIEND
How about Rocky Road? It's fantastic!

He hands her a spoonful. SHE closes her eyes.
Lights shift
SHE
My one world collides with the other. I close my eyes and the east comes rushing in. I open them and the west takes over.

FRIEND
Strawberry Surprise.
SHE tries another spoonful.
Lights shift
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
FANTASY...
SHE
Democracy: The free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government often practiced by electing representatives of the people by the people. Am I right about this? Isn't this the meaning of democracy?
FRIEND
Cookies and Cream.
And another spoonful.
Lights shift.
SHE
I came here. The land of the free. The brave.
FRIEND
Caramel Mint Swirl.
SHE's definitely not going to stop now!
Lights shift
SHE
I am disappointed by this democracy.
FRIEND
New York Super Fudge Chunk.
...Just a spoonful of sugar...
Lights shift
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
REALITY...
FRIEND
It's better than the old place.
SHE
Are you sure about? At least over there you knew where you stood. You knew you couldn't say a bad thing about the higher ups...That there would be consequences. Not that it was a good thing. Just a clear thing. Here...You're supposed to have freedom of speech but you can't say what you want anyway. You'll be called words like traitor...Or terrorist. I find it all really grey...Grey and unclear. It leaves you in fear.
SHE (off stage, Pre-recorded)
UNREALTY...

SHE
The ground beneath your feet is not solid. An atmosphere of Unreality prevails. I am constantly in a foreign-ness. I move around in all things foreign. A bit like those Beverly Hillbillies in a place where I don't fit in. In the land where I was born, all would be familiar. My soul would not need unconscious consoling each and every moment. All would be known and I would know it from a deep place. My breath would flow easily. I want to feel the earth beneath my feet again. Can you understand that? I want to feel the solidity, that the ground I am walking on is going to hold me up. That it's not going to give way, crumble one day and leave me in mid-air. I want to trust...To know...To feel that it is there for me. I want to walk how I walked as a child.
Lights shift
FRIEND
Another flavor?
SHE
What else you got?
Are you
kidding
???????
Lights dance in rainbow colors...
FRIEND
Sticky Marshmallow Custard, Raspberry Cheese Louise Fantasy, Cherry Cake Double-take, Cotton Candy-land, Creme de la Creme Brulee, Cocoa Banana Cabana, Peppermint Candy Stripe, Vanilla Fudge Cookie Dough, Blueberry Meringue Sundae, Almond Coconut Delight, Mocha Bourbon Cream Sensation, Reeses Pieces Delight, Pralines and cream, Cherries Jubilee Celebration, Amaretto Peanut Butter Meringue, Nights in White Chocolate, Chewy Fudge Chocolate Gelato, Passion Fruit Paradise, Chocolate Mousse Royale, Peaches and Cream, Caramel Swirl Temptation, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Snickers Mudslide Supreme, Death by Chocolate, Oreo Overload,...
Lights shift.
SHE
Anasthesia... television, popcorn, fast-food. I close my eyes. My internal is the past and my external the present. The internal dark and far. The external bright and close up. The east full of emotion, the west cold and practical. The east of my childhood, the west of my adult life. The east the home of my soul, the west the battle of my soul. As I close my eyes I hear the smells of the past, I see the noises in the streets, I feel the perfume of the bread. The familiar is there and I am not. It is a world of mixed-up emotion that I miss. How can I let that go?

Lights shift
FRIEND
You must try. You must! You're starting to get to everyone around you.
HOMA (OFF STAGE)
This is Homa. Can anybody hear me?
Lights shift
SHE
The disorderliness of it all mixed together with the magic of childhood makes it so sweet, so painfully sweet, I know I can never regain that flavor again...
FRIEND
Some of us have managed to leave it all behind.

Lights shift
HOMA(OFF STAGE)
IT'S HOMA. CAN'T ANYBODY HEAR ME?

SHE
I hear you Homa. I hear you loud and clear. I search my entire adult life and it is not there. The world where everything was so fine-
Lights shift.

FRIEND
Please. Cut it out.
SHE
They won't go away. I see the scenes now even. They become more ingrained with time, like a well-worn record. I make myself cry so. What perjury is this? A necessary one? Give me back the magic that hangs in the air.

FRIEND

Stop ! I can't take it anymore.
Lights out.
End of act 1

 

 

 

 

 


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