Consult, Consult — Delay, Delay?

My current fear is that the consult craze when applied to electoral reform will inevitably result, intentionally or unintentionally, in a long delay and the eventual defeat of essential remedial action. Continue reading

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Mathematics and Electoral Reform

Our “sunny ways” government is willing to give Elizabeth May (M.P. for Saanich-Gulf Islands) a place on the electoral reform committee but not to give her a vote. Well, shucks, there’s an easy mathematical way around that. Ask her to leave 4% of her brain in storage – after all, 6% of Ms May is equal to 100% of any other M.P. – and then let her vote.  It’s a mere matter of mathematics. Continue reading

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The Missing Debate

It‛s been a long campaign and I thought in my ignorance that eventually the real debate would emerge. But no. It‛s all been about the economy, jobs, the niqab, fractured citizenship, refugees, deficits, terrorists, environment, and other comparative trivialities.

I say “comparative” with good reason and you may well ask, “Compared to what? Continue reading

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The Resurrection Game

I‛ve been wracking my brains to find an analogy to help me understand Canada‛s supreme ruler. I may have found it. Stephen Harper uses Parliament, Politics and the People as his personal Play Station and his games are not only ones where he pushes the buttons and twists the knobs but actually writes the programs. From the player‛s point of view that is about as interactive as one can get.

It is only in terms of this Play Station analogy that I can wrap my mind around, for instance, the calm way in which he incorporated intentional misrepresentations (what used to be called lies) into his initial election announcement.  Others have criticized him for that but in line with the Play Station analogy such criticism may not be fair. Don‛t forget he plays his games by his rules and consequently anything goes that he programs to go.

It is intriguing, however, that he can play these convoluted games without any sign of his fingers twitching on the buttons or wrists flexing as he manipulates knobs and levers.  An experienced gamer, indeed.

Of course, the Drop-the-Writ speech was only the introductory game. Think of it either as a trailer or as what we used to call a teaser.

Within a few days of dropping the writ he came up with another Political Play Station game that really outdid himself.

Think of it as The Resurrection Game.

The first ploy in that game was to resurrect the Home Improvement tax credit that he had cut off in a previous game. Of course, there must be a twist, so the game plan said this credit will be re-instated mid-term, if elected. What a neat gambit –2016 or thereabouts if his government is elected. I could go on about how this poor resurrected political Lazarus is not only grossly deformed in several ways but has lost its original sense of purpose — but that‛s not my point. My point is that in The Resurrection Game Mr.Harper has a formula with astounding potential.

Think about it. Promise to resurrect what you have killed and tie the promise to action in the future only if you are elected. Mid-term, if elected. Mid-T-if-e? Midtife? Midtify? Word possibilities are endless. But what is also endless is the supply of Harper victims – potential resurrees. (If resurree wasn‛t a word, it is now.)

Think of it. Over the years Mr. Harper has cut the Long Form Census, Old Age Security at 65, Fisheries Protection, Health Care Funding, Libraries, the Court Challenges Program, Peacekeeping, National Honour, Transparency, Fiscal Responsibility, the CBC, Corporate Taxes, Truth, the Law Commission, the Experimental Lakes Laboratory, the Voices of Science, Waterway Protection – etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. The list can go on and on and on.

Actually, the list does go on and on and you only have to click here to find yourself in the midst of it on a web called Harper Chips. As this goes to press the Chip list contains 180 potential resurrees for the Resurrection Game. If you do go there don‛t ignore the “Action” page and “Links” page, but shucks, spend a few minutes watching the U-Tube slide show of Harper cuts – set to Ravel‛s Bolero.

To do justice to Harper and his games , turn up the volume. You will soon see what a mother lode of material Harper has created for himself to exploit if he carries on with the Resurrection Game.

Posted in Opinion | 3 Comments

The Good Ship Earth, refloated.

 In honour of Earth Day I am refloating a blog item from April 22nd, 2013. But first, a very brief report on my recent attempt to workshop a play via blog.  In a nutshell, many more hits than usual were followed by very very few comments, which in itself may be a message.🙂  However, I sincerely thank the few respondents for encouragement and suggestions; all of both are appreciated.

And now, for Earth Day.  The following is verbatim from two years ago and, as you will see, its roots go far deeper than that.

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A casual premise of this blog has been to take a look, every now and then, at current conditions and to ask ourselves whether any progress has been made in the last quarter century or so.   Earth Day 2013 is upon us and so in keeping with the cycling of Days and seasons I‛m recycling a bit of doggerel entitled The Good Ship.   Because the ship in the story sinks it is not being recyclyed as much as refloated – temporarily.

I wrote the  ditty in honour of Earth Day, 1988, and then posted it here about a year and half ago at the time of the unrewarding UN Durban Conference on Climate Change.  It is  somewhat odd to say “in honour” of Earth Day.  A more accurate dedication would have been “a lament for Earth Day”.  And our boreal forest is still being destroyed, lakes polluted, rivers poisoned, while political wars are simmering over whether or not Corporate Creatures will be allowed to continue ravaging nature on behalf of  Profit while their minions fly the false flags of “The Economy” and “Jobs”.

But hey, read this again and see if you notice what I see.  By now a theme running through this 1988 offering has quite changed – evaporated – gone into limbo.

The Good Ship
She was booming along with her sails full spread,
Her cargo snug and her crew well fed
When a seam up forward opened wide
And was sucking water on the starboard side.

The First Mate answered the Captain’s call
And offered a guess at the cause of it all.
“A keg of acid has sprung a leak
And eaten a hole through the forward peak.”

“Perhaps,” said the Captain, “but let’s be sure.
Go study the cause before the cure.
She might have ripped on a jagged reef
Or rammed a shark with saw edged teeth.”

“Could be,” said the Mate with a little frown,
“But I’d say by her tilt she’s going down.”
The Captain growled, ignoring tact,
“No guessing here! Go gather fact!”

Along came the carpenter, bless his soul,
Said, “Use the mains’l to plug the hole.
We lower it smoothly over the rail.
Sucked in like a cork it cannot fail.”

“That sail,” said the Captain, “makes her go.
Without it we’re drifting to and fro –
The owner goes bust — we lose our pay –
We’re all on pogey by the end of day.”

As news from the bow got worser and worser
A report from the stern came in from the purser.
“I’m happy to say we ride higher and higher,
The air is much clearer the nearer the sky we are.
I really don’t see why all the suspense –
My ledgers are dry and the view is immense.”

“You see?’ said the Captain to quavering Mate,
“The more we learn the safer our fate.
A loss at the bow but a rise at the rear
All averages out, we’ve nothing to fear.
We’ve heard from a man who floats loans and debentures,
And mortgages, bonds and similar ventures.
The least we can do is have faith in his skill.
Your mariner’s instincts are worth less than nil.”

An hour or so later the ship was at rest,
Her keel on the bottom her flag at the crest,
And up where the mast is so skinny it wiggles
The Captain was sending out semaphore signals:
“She’s steady and level, I’m certain at last
She’s no longer leaking, the danger is past.
She’s firm as a rock, remarkably stable,
I’ll bring her on in as soon as I’m able
Because, I assure you, I’m ready to act –
I’ve studied the case and a fact is a fact.” 

Now, 25 years later, did you spot the Captain‛s obsolescent lines?  “No guessing here! Go gather fact! …  The more we learn the safer our fate… I’ve studied the case and a fact is a fact” — those words in the Captain’s mouth were b.s. then and it‛s almost a relief not to hear them any more.  However, from the abolition of the Long Form Census to the muzzling of federal scientists to the closing down of the Experimental Lakes research facility to the PM‛s recent statement disparaging  “root causes” it is obvious that The Good Ship Canada, a massive part of the Earthly fleet, is being captained by a skipper no longer interested in even pretending to respect fact.

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Now, in 2015, it appears that the Skipper who at an earlier time was all for a specific anti-carbon action is now totally against the same action, calling it a “job killer” —  meaning of course that it is construed as a vote killer.  The same Skipper who has been claiming the need to sail a companion course to that of  Flagship USA seems unaware that the Admiral of that ship has apparently found his bearings and is on another course.  In the meantime our Skipper is waiting to see where the Captains of the smaller ships of the Provincial flotilla are planning to sail so he can follow in the pull of their wakes while hoisting the flag of leadership.

In addition, not only is the Environment missing from the current plotted route but, while climate chaos escalates along with participation in foreign conflicts, the Skipper has raided the national rainy day fund in order to offer bribes to the crew to keep them from abandoning his personal ship.

Interesting way to captain the Ship of State.

                                                       The Good Ship
From: Down Paradox Lane
Lindsay This Week, April 25,1988
[Copyright © Munroe Scott]

Posted in Article, Opinion, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Act 2, Cont’d “THE RADICALIZATION OF ARIADNE”, Completed

This continues and completes the experimental blog workshop of my new play dealing with politics, radicalization, religion and on-going war. If you are catching up, the brief outline of the purpose (“And now for something completely different”) is available on the list to the right, along with  postings comprising ACT ONE and  Sc 1. of ACT TWO

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ACT TWO Sc. 1 ended like this:

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INGERSOLL: Very well, so you know that there is nothing within the lids of what they call “the sacred book” that can for one moment stand side by side with Lear or Hamlet or Julius Caesar. You know what poor human insight the Davids and the Abrahams and the rest of them give when on the stage with the great characters of Shakespeare.

ARIADNE: The Bible is not a play! My pulpit is not a stage!

INGERSOLL : Granted. There is this difference: The stage — the honesty of pretence. The pulpit – the pretence of honesty.

ARIADNE: You insufferable man! (Begins to weep)

(Ariadne runs off. Ingersoll sighs, picks up his cigar, fondles it with some longing, sighs, then puts it aside and pours himself a drink. As he does so —

(Lights fade to Black. Sound: The gentle musical transition. This time the hymn tune carries well over into the beginning of the next scene. It is the Welsh tune for How Firm a Foundation )

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So now, let’s continue and complete:

The Radicalization of Ariadne

by Munroe Scott

ACT TWO

Scene 2.

(Sound of the gentle musical transition continues on into this scene. 

Lights come up tight on Ariadne‛s desk. The laptop is on the desk but closed. On top of the laptop, and open, is the cardboard gift box. It is open and empty. Under it and around it is the gift wrapping that had contained it.

The Light slowly opens more widely and includes Ariadne. She is wearing new clerical vestments, They are elegant rather than ornate, but most definitely both ecclesiastical and becoming. She appears to be admiring herself in a full length mirror but after a moment she turns away and, lost in thought, takes the empty box, folds it, and drops it into a wastebasket. Then, slowly, and without really paying attention, she crumples the colourful wrapping paper and also drops it into the wastebasket.

Music continues to this point then comes to a natural end.

Ariadne sits down, opens the laptop and turns it on. The laptop is in front of her, the back of its open lid toward the audience. As it turns on its screenglow shows on her face. She rises and moves back and forth upstage of the laptop lost in thought. She unconsciously hums the transition tune as she ponders.

We hear the Sounds of computer programs loading as the laptop boots up. Then she glances at the screen and claps twice but remains standing.)

ARIADNE: Marjorie. Notes to myself. Today‛s date. To Do List. Bullet. Write letter to editor concerning unwarranted ongoing speculation in Religion Page column. (Claps twice) “Radicalized minister to challenge Christian Faith.” What nonsense. Sheer idiocy. (Claps twice) Resume. Explain I am not trying to be an ecumenical shit disturber. Be diplomatic. Bullet. Take Chair of my Official Board to lunch to enlist aid in calming nerves of more traditionalist members of the congregation. Bullet. Meet with Program Committee to ensure that nothing is as yet carved in stone. Bullet. Find an hour to really think about all this.

(Ariadne Claps twice and, lost in thought, moves around to downstage side of desk. Claps twice.)

Marjorie. Personal file. Thoughts to pursue. What do I really think about my friend the Colonel? Is he just as dangerous a literalist as any fundamentalist evangelical? He criticises religion, not spirituality. Is religion just organization, codes of conduct, beliefs that fly in the face of reason? I believe in us as spiritual beings but in these robes do I not represent organized religion just as surely as my father did standing in the pulpit in his black gown with the white tabs and the white dog collar and his Master‛s hood thrown across his shoulders? But how about Dad?

(Harry enters and for a moment simply stands watching her, and then whistles appreciatively.)
He was not a hellfire and brimstone preacher. He was a New Testament man and a product of the Social Gospel movement. More works than faith. Given today‛s scientific knowledge surely Dad would say, “Go for it girl.” Or would he? (Hears and sees Harry. Claps twice.) Darling, you still here? I thought you left right after breakfast.

HARRY: You look gorgeous. I loitered to see if you‛d open it. Who you talking to?

ARIADNE: To me. Myself. Marjorie. Dictation, remember? The Brewster DDD?

HARRY: You look alluringly – authoritative. Very – reassuring.

ARIADNE: (Looking down, contemplatively, at her robe) Yes, the robes of authority. The pulpit, the friend of the throne. (Brightening) Thank you, darling. They’re lovely. But I‛m the one who needs reassuring. You remember that play at university? “Exit Muttering”? Where the insecure guy went around with his own voice on a small tape recorder telling him how great he was? Thought I‛d try it.

HARRY: You‛re beautiful. But nuts.

ARIADNE: Of course I am. Nuts. That‛s why I‛m, you know, taking stock. You run along. What is it today? War Justification Committee and an extortion vote this evening?

HARRY: Please – National Safety Committee.

ARIADNE: Of course. I keep forgetting. To be safe we have to be at war.

HARRY: Honey, I know I had suggested dinner and theatre –

ARIADNE: And nooky.

HARRY: Definitely. But there is a vote tonight. A Ways and Means addendum to the budget.

ARIADNE: Meaning it‛s about freeing up more money to buy superjets for peace?

HARRY: You have no comprehension, have you. It‛s not just hardware. We‛ve got to keep this a high tech war. It mustn‛t ever again become a war of sheer manpower.

ARIADNE: No, no. Definitely not. No more of that old fashioned stuff in which folk on our side get killed or maimed.

HARRY: If technology can protect our service people then —

ARIADNE: Service people? What does the word service even mean? An officer, on TV, just the other day, was talking about servicing a target. Servicing. From forty thousand feet. Hello down there, if you‛re not a jihadist move aside a little, we‛re going to service the guy beside you. Ah, there. How was the service? Harry, service used to be a noble word.

HARRY: It had a dark side.

ARIADNE: Servicing a woman as slang for rape?

HARRY: So?

ARIADNE: So in this age of doublethink and obfuscation what are we to understand when an officer, full uniform, chest ablaze with ribbons, calmly talks on national TV about servicing a target?

HARRY: You know what to understand.

ARIADNE: Yes, we‛re looking down from on high and saying, yoohoo, down there, you‛re about to be screwed, fucked, shredded, serviced and can go to hell while we‛re up here viewing the kingdoms from our various oh so profitable corporate mountain tops.

HARRY: Oh, oh. Enough. Honey, for Christ‛s sake, enough. Within these walls. Within these walls.

(Harry exits)

ARIADNE: (Calls) Harry darling, I‛m sorry. (A deep sigh, long pause, then claps twice.) Marjorie. Where was I? Read last.

MARJORIE: (Voice over) Given today‛s scientific knowledge surely Dad would say, “Go for it girl.” Or would he?

ARIADNE: (Claps twice. To herself – ) I wonder. Was I called or did I just follow? Not sure I really thought about it. What was, was. Natural as breathing to be in the choir. Christmas, Easter, loved the simple theatrics of those occasions, the music, the decorations, the stories, the ceremony. I knew that the Anglicans and Romans did it with more style and the evangelicals with more joy, but again, what was, was. Loved the occasional special service that took place on a winter‛s evening. How did that PK poem go?.

(She stops downstage and stands motionless, finger tips together, almost as though in prayer, and recites. The transitional instrument slides gentle music under her words. )

Soft the organ, softly muted,
Pipes in shadows, soaring, fluted,
Singers adding sweet dimension,
Time and worry in suspension.

Father praying, heads are bending,
Asking God, His love extending,
Please forgive our worldly errors,
Lead us through our human terrors.

Books are opened, pages turning,
Words are found to answer yearning,
Ancient psalm in lovely phrase,
The alchemy of love is praise.

Offering given, sermon offered,
Homily from pulpit proffered,
Shorter, simpler, seldom searing,
Evening’s not a time for fearing.

Mystic shadows, vaulted ceiling,
Shepherd figures in glass kneeling,
Warmth of oak in amber light,
All is safe within the night.

Final hymn and service ended,
Father standing, arms extended,
Go in peace, the Lord be with you.
Shaking hands at foyer door,
Bless you, keep you,
and the shining of His face
be upon you, now
and forever
ever more,
amen.

(The music fades to an end.)

ARIADNE: My biological father in the pulpit appealing directly to Our Father in Heaven, reading carefully selected verses from the Holy Bible, the Word of God – what was not to believe?

(Claps three times and takes off the vestments, revealing an ordinary but becoming house dress beneath, and folds the vestments, moving just upstage of the desk. The screenglow has shut down. While she does this we hear Ingersoll.)

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) Is there an intelligent man or woman now in the world who believes in the Garden of Eden story? If you find any man who believes it, strike his forehead and you will hear an echo. Something is for rent.
The priests of one religion never credit the miracles of another religion. Now, when a Christian tells a Buddhist some of the miracles of the Testament, the Buddhist smiles. When a Buddhist tells a Christian the miracles performed by Buddha, the Christian laughs. This reminds me of an incident. A man told a most wonderful story. Everybody present expressed surprise and astonishment, except one man. He said nothing; he did not even change countenance. One who noticed that the story had no effect on this man, said to him: “You do not seem to be astonished in the least at this marvellous tale.” The man replied, “No; I am a liar myself.”

( Ariadne laughs. Closes the laptop lid , places the folded vestments on top of it and strides across to Ingersoll‛s area, the light following her as she goes so it is not technically a scene break.

Ingersoll is asleep in his chair but is awakened as Ariadne energetically bursts in on him.)

ARIADNE: Colonel. You asked, “Was it ‘the Call? The prestige of the pulpit? Father‛s footsteps?‛” So okay. It was never so much a matter of believing as of simply accepting. Isn‛t that true of many of us? So I followed father into the ministry. What could be more natural? The U of C, doors wide open for academically qualified female clergy. A good, worthy, uplifting career with as much challenge built into it as one wants to create. A big tent with few intellectual boundaries.

INGERSOLL: Even so, boundaries which you have just recently decided to explore?

ARIADNE: Yes.

INGERSOLL: Why through me?

ARIADNE: (Pleasantly) When I met you I met ordinary Canadians, ages ago, with an axe and a saw, chopping access to liberating ideas.

INGERSOLL: But you did say that at college – before you came across me – you read other dissenters?

ARIADNE:: Of course.

INGERSOLL: Thomas Jefferson?

ARIADNE: The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, third President of the United States? Yes. And after meeting you I refreshed my memory on line. Marjorie has condensed notes in my laptop. I have them in my head.

INGERSOLL: (Puzzled) This line you talk about being on –

MARJORIE: (Voice over) Letter to John Adams, October 13, 1813. Quote. Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God. Unquote.

INGERSOLL: Notes in your head I understand, but –

MARJORIE: (Voice over) Jefferson called the writers of the New Testament ignorant, unlettered men producing superstitions, fanaticisms, and fabrications. Said the Apostle Paul was the first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.

INGERSOLL: These notes are also on the top of your lap?

MARJORIE: (Voice over) Jefferson dismissed the concept of the Trinity as mere abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

ARIADNE: And in case you‛re wondering, dear Colonel, Thomas Paine, author of Age of Reason, champion of the American Revolution, is also available at my fingertips

INGERSOLL: Now we add fingertips to your head and to the top of your lap.

MARJORIE: (Voice over) Paine said, quote, I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. Unquote.

INGERSOLL: They had no effect on you in college?

ARIADNE: (She is in high gear) Academic titillation, trumped by the Faith of our Fathers. Now, of course, any seeker doing a little surfing can hardly miss Albert Einstein.

INGERSOLL:  A seeker surfing.

ARIADNE: Yes, surfing. Einstein. Physicist, philosopher. He was only 20 when you shuffled off so you missed out on the whole world being turned on its head.

MARJORIE: (Voice over) Albert Einstein, 1954. Quote: I cannot prove to you there is no personal God, but if I were to speak of him, I would be a liar.

INGERSOLL: A man after my own heart!

ARIADNE: Yes, but we now agree with everything he said about science and pay little attention to what he said about God.

MARJORIE: (Voice over) I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws. Unquote.

INGERSOLL: “The universe is not ruled by wishful thinking but by immutable laws!” Admirably said! I could not have stated it better myself. Alas, if I could have but met this Mr. Einstein!

ARIADNE: (Looks startled fora moment, then exclaims – ) Of course! Not a ditzy week day study group. Not Sunday services exploring roots. Theatre! Our Drama Club! The stage! The honesty of pretence! Thank you, Colonel.

(Lights fade to Black. Sound: Musical transition with an upbeat. Beethoven‛s 9th — Song of Joy. This transition is extended in black a little longer than usual.)

Sc 2: c18 min

Act 2, Scene 3.

(Lights fade up on Harry‛s space. Harry enters.)

HARRY: (Calls) Darling, it‛s me. I‛m home.

ARIADNE: (Off) You‛re late. I‛ve eaten. Your dinner is in the oven on warm. I‛m working on my play.

HARRY: (Calls) Thanks. Have fun.

(Musical but harsh Sound of Harry‛s i-phone calling. First few bars of “Oh Love that will not let me go.” He answers)

HARRY: Hello Chuck. What‛s up? — Yes, I guess so. Sure – (Hesitant) Where? — The one just around the corner? (Puzzled) You deserting the old haunts? — Oh? –- What! – Just a sec while I take a look. You said U-Tube? (He taps and brushes the screen and stares at it a moment, then – ) Jesus Christ! Yes, I‛ll be right with you.  (He pockets the phone.  Calls —  ) Honey, have to go out. Won‛t be long. I hope.

(Harry exits. Lights fade to black.)

(Sound: The same musical transition as before.)

Sc 3: c2 min

Act 2, Scene 4.

(Lights fade up on Ariadne in her space with a full playscript in her hands. She is reading the various parts out loud, checking out her own script. )

ARIADNE: (As M.C.) — and we welcome you here tonight for this astonishing technological triumph which brings together a most remarkable panel. On my left Mr. Thomas Paine – please hold your applause until after introductions – author of The Age of Reason, next to him, Mr.Thomas Jefferson, co-author of the American Declaration of Independence, and next to him, Mr. Albert Einstein who requires no introduction.

(Harry enters her space. He seems highly agitated)

HARRY: Honey, I‛m sorry, but –

ARIADNE: Harry, just in time. Tell me if I‛m okay. It‛s already in rehearsal but I‛m still learning my lines. (Reading as M.C.) And to my far right, two former Moderators of the United Church, first Dr. Robert “Bob” McClure and next to him the Rev. Bill Phipps, and here, immediately beside me —

HARRY: (Urgently) Ady, please.

ARIADNE: – Colonel Robert Ingersoll, the Great Orator. And now, to get our panel going –

HARRY: But Ady, — –

ARIADNE: (To Harry) Sh-h-h. Please. How‛s this for the kick-off? (As though to the panel) Dr. McClure, speaking as both a church Moderator and a surgeon, how did you feel about the doctrine of bodily resurrection? (To Harry) And then the McClure actor says – “The bodily resurrection means much to many people. I respect their belief. It is something that, personally, I can‛t understand.”

HARRY: Well, that‛s a conversation starter, but –

ARIADNE: And then, as M.C., I turn to the Reverend Phipps. Mr. Phipps, also as a former moderator of the U of C, did you believe in Heaven and Hell? (To Harry) And that actor says, and it‛s a quote. (As Phipps) “I have no idea if there is a hell. Is Heaven a place? I have no idea. But your soul is lost unless you care about people starving in the streets.”

HARRY: (Finally having to burst in – ) Darling, your radical stuff has gone too far! Enough! Desist!

ARIADNE: Radical! I‛m taking us back to the past!

HARRY: For Christ sake listen! Everything is coming unstuck. I‛ve just had a private one on one with Chuck.

ARIADNE: Chuck. Yes, your PMO pal. I know What‛s he got to do with this?

HARRY: More than you know. In this, this play of yours, you‛ve got an actor playing –

ARIADNE: Not real actors. They are members of my congregation.

HARRY: Okay, okay, but playing Ingersoll, the Colonel?

ARIADNE: Yes, Gerry Green, you know him. One of our younger retirees, time on his hands and enthusiastic.

HARRY: Enthusiastically enacting genuine Ingersoll quotes? A big one about blunders?

ARIADNE: Of course. (Leafing through her script) It‛s right here.

(Ariadne and Harry freeze.)

(Lights snap on in Ingersoll‛s area)

INGERSOLL: When I say that Christianity is a blunder, I mean all those things distinctively Christian are blunders. It is a blunder to say that an infinite being lived in Palestine, raised the dead, cured the blind, and cast out devils, and that this God was finally assassinated by the Jews. This is absurd. All these statements are blunders, if not worse. I do not believe that Christ ever claimed that he was of supernatural origin, or that he wrought miracles, or that he would rise from the dead. If he did, he was mistaken – honestly mistaken, perhaps, but still mistaken.

(Lights snap off in Ingersoll‛s area)

( Harry and Ariadne unfreeze.)

HARRY: Well one of your gang videoed you rehearsing Gerry in that bit and hung it on U-Tube. As a promo!

ARIADNE: I didn‛t authorize that!

HARRY: Maybe not but it hit the Boss‛s screen and the shit has hit the fan. So has my political career.

ARIADNE: That‛s terrible!

HARRY: In his eyes you‛re a raving radical. A subversive using the Internet to undermine social values.

ARIADNE: The Internet is our axe and our saw!

HARRY: Come again?

ARIADNE: Nothing.

HARRY: If only you‛d stuck to the church basement.

ARIADNE: We will. (Warning) But we‛re still staging my play. The church basement is still the church basement.

HARRY: It‛s all worse than you think. We – well, never mind.

ARIADNE: We? Darling, who is “we”?

HARRY: Me, Tom, Chuck.

ARIADNE: Chuck again?

HARRY: Yes. Well for Heaven‛s sake, Ady! Chuck‛s our PMO mole. He wasn‛t, but some of the recent stuff, more Trojan Horse Bills, dissing the courts, trashing the waterways, trashing public servants – nothing safe, nobody safe – well, you know. Yes, a mole.

ARIADNE: And you and Tom?

HARRY: All three of us. Trying to head more disaster off at the pass. I was somewhat disillusioned in my first term, you must remember that. Then Tom and I began to realize what we had on our hands with our little DDD – dicto devil indeed. We decided to get it into the Boss‛s own computer because Tom devised a trigger code that would let us, just us, access it.

ARIADNE: Spying! You!

HARRY: It was a stroke of luck when I realized how Chuck was feeling – through him we pushed the national security angle, let ourselves be “negotiated” into selling the whole kit and kaboodle to a Crown security agency, oh sure, for some good money but other perks – like Tom being hired into the PMO as the IT advisor with, of course, some very secret Dicto Devil passwords already in his head.

ARIADNE: The Crown security knew all this?

HARRY: Of course not. Just logical negotiation. Even execs who sell their business may still want useful employment. Tom is a good catch for the PMO. Chuck, of course, already in the PMO, already there. The Boss‛s DDD, by the way, can be triggered to listen and transmit even if it‛s not taking dictation or doesn‛t even appear to be on.

ARIADNE: Still sounds like spying to me.

HARRY: Not spying. Let’s call it Boomerang Surveillance.

ARIADNE: Is it ethical?

HARRY: Ethical! Sauce for the goose. The Government, our Government, says the country is in danger and uses that as an excuse to go to war –

ARIADNE: With your support.

HARRY: – and to cut back on civil liberties –

ARIADNE: Such as?

HARRY: How about expanded surveillance? How about preventative arrest without a warrant for something you might be thinking but haven’t done? How about lack of democratic oversight? How about ignoring the Press Gallery and running a 24/7 propaganda news machine? How about triple life sentences without any hope of parole, ever. Hope. Taking hope away from any human being, that’s the ultimate cruelty.

ARIADNE: (Momentarily taken aback) Heaven! ( Hurriedly) Even so –

HARRY: Hold on. So we the people lose democratic civil liberties supposedly to protect the country – very well, we the people, to protect ourselves, launch surveillance of the Government Executive, so we know what they have in mind before they do it. Unfortunately we can’t lock them up before they act as they can us. But we have a better tool than a jailhouse key. It’s known as a vote. But to make it work one has to acquire knowledge and then communicate it. That, my darling Ady, is my turf. Our turf.

ARIADNE: My Harry, and Tom – secret agents for democracy!

HARRY: You could say that.

ARIADNE: But – the Crown security agency? They‛ll shut you down.

HARRY: Of course. Soon as they find our access code they‛ll use it themselves but block us. We‛ll apologize. Woops, sorry fellas, forgot about that. Glad you noticed.

ARIADNE: Then?

HARRY: We‛ve already built a back entrance.

ARIADNE: Looking for what?

HARRY: For stuff being planned on high – for stuff to leak – and for like minded dissidents within the damned Party. Hoping to motivate them to oppose incomprehensible, basically illegal undemocratic legislation. After all, none of it could happen without us, the back benchers, rubber stamping it all.. And sweetheart, I agree with you about the – how did you put it? Corporate Creature Imperialists? But it‛s so hard to prove the string pulling because – well – it‛s all so obvious. Hiding in plain sight. Every omnibus bill, every free trade agreement, who wins? The Creatures. Always. It‛s all there but a done deal with another on the way before any of us can concentrate long enough to prevent. And, yes, it may very well all be sanctified by, well, a certain person‛s personal perception of God‛s plan, but we‛ll never know.

ARIADNE: Darling, you hang in there. I‛ll cancel the play —  withdraw the U-tube promo –

HARRY: The Boss has already seen it.

ARIADNE: But that‛s all he knows?

HARRY: So far. But he knows you.

ARIADNE: I‛ll apologize. I‛ll recant. I‛ll grovel. I‛ll scrap it. I‛ll forget about Ingersoll.

HARRY: No, no. You carry on. The damage is already done. In the Boss‛s mind you‛re now confirmed as a religious radical, a heretic, although you‛re not, and by association my political career is already toast.

ARIADNE: You can cross the floor.

HARRY: No use. With our rotten first-past-the-post electoral system, no use. With that awful system and multiple entrenched centre-to-left Parties the country is crossing the Rubicon to one-party government. This has to be fought from inside the Party, inside the Government.

ARIADNE: Darling, is that really why you‛re –

HARRY: Inside? No. Not at first. I ran on a genuine small business oriented ticket but as soon as we came to majority power I began to realize – my God, those monstrous omnibus bills – I doubt even the ministers read them, not even the ones who can read. The sheer malevolent dishonesty of those bills, and the destruction they wreak –

ARIADNE: But what can you, one member, do about that?

HARRY: Just as you have begun fighting for reason within the minds of church folk I‛ve been trying to make contact with reasonable minds inside the Party. It‛s all been quiet conversations, hallway comments, cafeteria chat, corner of the caucus room whispers, and now inside the PMO and, yes, with our own electronic early warning alert system. I tell you this, if the ice curtain ever breaks there‛ll be one hell of a flood but there‛s so little time, so little time.

ARIADNE: Oh my darling Harry, I had no idea.

HARRY: That‛s because you and I stupidly thought we had to keep your religion and my politics separate.

ARIADNE: Darling –

HARRY: Our country is being dissolved by the Party you call Regressive and yet that Regressive Party is composed of good people, fine people, honest people who are being propagandized and bribed with their own money and kept ignorant by decree and blinded by rhetorical obfuscation of Orwellian dimensions. “For evil to triumph only requires good men to do nothing.”

ARIADNE: And women.

HARRY: Whoever said that knew what he was talking about. Oh yes, he knew.

ARIADNE: Harry, this really has been boiling inside you ever since the last election?

HARRY: Been coming to a boil. Too slowly, too slowly.

ARIADNE: Oh my poor dear Harry.. And you feel that strongly about the country – our beloved country?

HARRY: Of course.

ARIADNE: And if you can run again, for the Party, and be elected, you‛ll keep on fighting? From the inside?

HARRY: Yes, but sweetheart –

ARIADNE: Then, Harry Brewster, you‛ve got to. You must.

HARRY: You‛re not listening. I‛m toast.

ARIADNE: Perhaps not.

HARRY: Come an election my nomination papers won‛t be signed.

ARIADNE: Because of me. Guilt by association you said.

INGERSOLL: It‛s all calculated on keeping the loyal base. Keeping that 38% come hell or high water. No one else matters. The sixty odd percent simply don‛t matter in a multiple party system using a first-past-the-post voting system. Why the other Parties don‛t understand that beats me.

ARIADNE: There may be a way to – to – insulate you.

HARRY: (Ruefully) Ady my Rev, it‛s too late for fire proofing. (Worried) Oh, oh. What are you thinking? Hey. Hey. What‛s going on in that mind of yours!

( The lights swiftly fade to black.  Sound: The musical transition. Reprise of “The Old Rugged Cross” from Act 2, Sc.1. It overlaps well into the next scene. )

Sc.4: c14 min

Act 2, Scene 5

(The lights come up on Ingersoll‛s area. He is seated in his chair, rather longingly fingering a cigar. Ariadne enters.)

ARIADNE: Please, don‛t even think about it. (She paces around for a few moments in obvious agitation, then – ) Although I could use a drink. How about you?

(Ingersoll puts the cigar away and, while speaking, pours her a glass of wine)

INGERSOLL: Forgive me, Ms Ariadne, but have you and your Harry been quarreling?

ARIADNE: Certainly not. (Accepts the wine, then apologetically –) It‛s more like – let‛s just say we‛re having a domestic confessional involving firewalls and insulation.

INGERSOLL: Oh my. (Puzzled but sympathetic) The crosses of this world are mostly born by wives, by mothers and by daughters. You live and suffer and die for others. It is almost enough to make one insane to think of what woman, in the years of savagery and civilization, has suffered. Every true man will sympathize with woman, and will do all in his power to lighten her burdens and increase the sunshine of her life.

ARIADNE: You dear, compassionate man. But woman has her responsibilities, too. Tell me, what do you think of divorce?

INGERSOLL: (Taken aback) Marriage is the most sacred contract, the most important contract, that human beings can make. People marry, or should marry, because it increases the happiness of each and all. (Hesitantly) But where the marriage turns out to have been a mistake, and where the result is misery, and not happiness, the quicker they are divorced the better, not only for themselves, but for the community at large.

ARIADNE: Ah yes. The community at large.

INGERSOLL: Yes, as well. But whom are you leaving? Your Harry or the Church?

ARIADNE: (In anguish) Is there an alternative? To insulate Harry —  Both?

INGERSOLL: Oh!

ARIADNE: Well?

INGERSOLL: Yes, I see. (After a pause — ) Of course the probability is that we are all mistaken about almost everything.

(Lights go to Black)

Sc.5: c3 min
Act ll : c49 min.

THE END

Total play time: c107 min

The Radicalization of Ariadne Copyright © Munroe Scott All rights reserved.

 Although The Radicalization of Ariadne draws some inspiration from actual places, events and people it is nevertheless a work of fiction.

Remember.  The purpose of of this workshop has been for feedback.  Don’t be inhibited.  Now is your chance.    And having a comment posted may encourage others.  Be courageous.  There is no right or wrong.  Some comments may be edited for length or demeanor.

Posted in Opinion, Play, Politics, Religion, War | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Act 2, Sc.1, “THE RADICALIZATION OF ARIADNE”, Continued.

This continues the experimental blog workshop of my new play dealing with politics, religion and on-going war. If you are catching up, the brief outline of the purpose (“And now for something completely different”) is available on the list to the right, along with two postings comprising all of ACT ONE.

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ACT ONE ended like this:

……………………

ARIADNE: (Relaxes. Laughs) So I should have run against you? Great. Hon, we built our firewall to protect our love. But with your smarts, Harry Brewster, you should be questioning both the religion and the colonizing.

HARRY: Should be?

ARIADNE: (Hastily) Could be. If you wanted. At one time, early on, I actually thought that was your aim. To hopefully subvert those corporate creature imperialists – from inside.

HARRY: (Uneasy) It may well have been, but now? With a war on? Cut my own throat? Fat lot of good I‛d be to anybody. I‛m not going there.

ARIADNE: You don‛t have to go anywhere. But I do.

HARRY : No you don‛t. Do your pastoral duties, perform your priestly rituals –

ARIADNE: Priestly!

HARRY : Well, (Teasing) Vestal Virgin rituals?

(She takes a mock swing at him and loses her balance. He ducks but catches her. Holds her lovingly.)

HARRY : Ady my Rev, do – be – careful. (Kisses her) And stop worrying.

(Lights fade to Black)

=================================================================

So now,  Intermission is over, let’s continue:

The Radicalization of Ariadne

By Munroe Scott

ACT TWO

Scene 1.

(Lights fade Up on Ingersoll‛s area. He is seated comfortably in his own armchair. He clips, moistens and prepares to light a cigar, speaking conversationally as he does so.)

INGERSOLL: Whoever thinks that any God cares how he cuts his hair or his clothes, or what he eats, or whether he fasts, or rings a bell, or puts holy water on his breast, or counts beads, or shuts his eyes and says words to the clouds, that person is labouring under a great mistake.

(As he is about to light the cigar the lighting expands to include Ariadne standing near her desk)

ARIADNE: No! Sorry. Please. Not in here. And in public – well – puffing that stogie could be a crime.

INGERSOLL: Crime! As in prison?

ARIADNE: As in a fat fine.

INGERSOLL: How very odd.

ARIADNE: How very odd that you died at sixty-five.

INGERSOLL: Very well, but with your permission, Madam, may I indulge in a glass of port? (He puts aside the cigar and pours himself a glass of port from the side table, speaking as he does so. With a gesture he offers to pour some for her but she declines with a shake of the head.) Take wine and malt liquors out of the world and we shall lose a vast deal of good fellowship. There is a certain sociability about wine that I should hate to have taken from the earth.

ARIADNE: No need to worry.

INGERSOLL: How very gratifying. You seem upset. Do sit down. Relax. Your husband, too, seems unduly agitated. Mr – uh — Brewster, is it? Mr. Harry Brewster, M.P.? He‛s a member of parliament?

(She swings her chair away from the desk and sits, at first rather stiffly but gradually relaxing)

ARIADNE: Yes. A government back bencher. So far.

INGERSOLL : And you, Mrs. Brewster —

ARIADNE: Brookfield. And I prefer Ms.

INGERSOLL : Mizz? Strange word – surely not Latin, not Greek – (Savouring ) Mizzz —

ARIADNE: Ms Ariadne Brookfield. Or, if you must, Reverend Ariadne Brookfield. Ariadne will do.

INGERSOLL : But you are married? To each other?

ARIADNE: Yes, of course.

INGERSOLL : Oh my. Not happily?

ARIADNE: (Surprised) Very happily. My Harry is a marvellous man. He‛s brilliant. He and his partner built a small company in Information Technology that has done splendid, innovative work. He has a powerful work ethic. Believes wholeheartedly in small business as the real foundation for health happiness and prosperity – that‛s why he got into politics – to defend and promote small business. Said the businessman is simply today‛s hunter. If he doesn‛t find caves, fight off the sabre tooths, feed the tribe on barbequed mastodon and keep them warm in bearskins, everything else – art, music, theatre, recreation, family – all goes down the drain. He‛s got a point. But he‛s naive.

INGERSOLL: Forgive me — being in your head — I cannot but detect tremors of – well – you dislike his politics?

ARIADNE: That‛s none of your business.

INGERSOLL: Quite right. The religious question should be left out of politics .

ARIADNE: You keep saying that.

INGERSOLL : I do?

ARIADNE: And you‛re wrong.

INGERSOLL: Your Harry – politics aside, his hunting territory – what did you call it?

ARIADNE: Information Technology. IT. Harry says he‛s just following in the footsteps of the guy who first thought of smoke signals.

INGERSOLL : I take it your Harry is not religious.

ARIADNE: Not in the least. He says he was inoculated. Overly pious parents.

INGERSOLL : Ah indeed. A not uncommon phenomenon.

ARIADNE: We were neighbours. All through High School. My dad was a minister. (Laughs ruefully) I‛m a P.K. – a Preacher‛s Kid.

INGERSOLL : I, too, am – was – a PK. My father was a Presbyterian minister. It has been said of him that he believed that “that which was pleasant was not wholly good.” He was so adamant in this and other convictions that our family was frequently forced to move. But times changed. By the time I – when was it your contraption said I died?

ARIADNE: Eighteen hundred and ninety-nine.

INGERSOLL: Well then, long before that time I felt free to say that there was not in my city a genuine Presbyterian outside of an insane asylum.

ARIADNE: (Laughs) Oh come now.

INGERSOLL: Probably no one could be found who would admit that he believed absolutely in the Presbyterian Confession of Faith.

ARIADNE: Well, my Dad was U of C, and didn‛t move, at least, thank goodness, not while we were in High School. Both our families were U of C.

INGERSOLL: U of C?

ARIADNE: United Church – of Canada.

INGERSOLL : Never heard of it.

ARIADNE: Of course not. You‛re long dead. Think of it as a complex cocktail. Part Methodist, part Presbyterian, generous shot of Congregationalist, dash of Brethren

INGERSOLL : Heady stuff. Shaken or stirred?

ARIADNE: For best results, shaken. Harry‛s folks were U of C too. Went to Dad‛s church.

INGERSOLL : Ah – the laity more pious than the pastor?

ARIADNE: Something like that. Harry and I sang in the choir. Even dutifully sang duets at Church concerts.

HARRY and ARIADNE: (Sing. Voice Over)
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suff’ring and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
(Ingersoll and Ariadne are both listening. After all, they‛re both in Ady‛s mind.)

INGERSOLL : Never heard that one. After my time I suppose.

ARIADNE: What! That‛s a golden oldie!

(Song resumes. Over)

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

INGERSOLL : I take it that Harry – may I call him Harry? – that Harry didn‛t cherish the old rugged cross as much as you.

ARIADNE: Harry liked church music. Hymn music. Still does. So do I.

INGERSOLL : Ah yes. Poets and composers have a great deal to answer for in perpetrating the myths of Christianity. Certain hymns pluck the heartstrings but carry a lot of verbal baggage.

ARIADNE: Singing was fun! It wasn‛t really religion. Certainly not for Harry. And we both liked leading, well, campfire Gospel?

HARRY: (Sings, voice over)
Oh you can‛t get to heaven, in an old Ford car

ARIADNE: (Sings, Voice Over)
‘Cause an old Ford car, don‛t go that far.

BOTH: (Singing, Voice Over)
Oh you can‛t get to heaven in an old Ford car
‘Cause an old Ford car don‛t go that far.
I ain‛t gonna grieve my Lord no more.

(Ariadne and Ingersoll both begin to clap.)

BOTH A&B: (Singing, Voice Over)
I ain‛t gonna grieve my Lord no more
I ain‛t gonna grieve my Lord no more
I ain‛t gonna grieve my Lord no more.

INGERSOLL: (Chuckling) Yes, yes. Even so, tucked right in there is the hope for Heaven. Embed it in music, implant it in the mind. Baggage, baggage, baggage.

ARIADNE: Oh come now.

INGERSOLL: There was a hymn that came along during the war years – my war years, I expect there have been others – let me see now – ah yes, The Church‛s One Foundation. According to it, Christ died for the Church.

ARIADNE: We sang that!

INGERSOLL: It was very contentious.

HARRY and ARIADNE: (Sing. Voice Over)
The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

INGERSOLL : Sounds very Catholic but Protestants took to it lustily. I‛m surprised your cocktail preserved it. That Christ, even if mythical, should have died for an institution. My, my.

ARIADNE: (Offended) You‛re implying a very restrictive interpretation of “church”!

INGERSOLL : I am speaking of the church as an institution, as a corporation – It is said of corporations in general, that they have no soul –

ARIADNE: That was being said in your time?

INGERSOLL: Yes. And when I say the church, I include all churches. The church is on the side of wealth and power, the mitre is the friend of the crown, the altar is the sworn brother of the throne. The church cares infinitely more for the money of the millionaire than for the souls of the poor.

ARIADNE: Not my church!

INGERSOLL: Of course not, it never is. I take it that while you were being indoctrinated your Harry was being inoculated. You were infected and he was not?

ARIADNE: Infected. (Laughs, protesting) What a terrible term. (Ruefully) We never thought about it. It just – was. We walked to school together every day, took classes together, were in school concerts together. By the time we finished High School my favourite Commandment was “Love your neighbour”. As for him – well – he turned a hymn into a love song. For me.

(Ariadne is smiling, lost in memory.)

HARRY: (Sings with feeling. Voice Over . The melody is St Margaret, once used for the hymn “O Love that wilt not let me go”.)

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I open wide my heart to thee
And promise thee the Love we share
Will in our inner depths so rare
Forever sheltered be.

ARIADNE: His parents were shocked. Mine, amused. But that‛s Harry. Adapt, invent. At university, before we were married, we were in the Drama Club together – he was a real tech wizard by then and me – I loved drama – acting – theatre. In fact, I was headed for theatre.

INGERSOLL: Of course. The stage presents an ideal life.

ARIADNE: I‛d say a tough life.

INGERSOLL: I said “presents”.

ARIADNE: I thought I‛d take general arts then go to National Theatre School.

INGERSOLL: Ah, the stage. It presents a world, for the most part, in which evil does not succeed, in which the vicious are foiled, in which the right, the honest, the sincere, and the good prevail.

ARIADNE: Yes. But? So?

INGERSOLL: It cultivates the imagination. What went wrong?

ARIADNE: Nothing went wrong! I simply – simply – veered into theology.

INGERSOLL : Was it “the Call”? The prestige of the pulpit? Father‛s footsteps? The church always does its best to co-opt theatrics while regarding the stage as a rival. A veneer of theatrics disguises the mission.

ARIADNE: Disguises the mission?

INGERSOLL: The mission of the pulpit is to narrow and shrivel the human mind.

ARIADNE: That was never my mission!

INGERSOLL : Even so, the pulpit denounces the freedom of thought and of expression, but on the stage the mind is free. The stage lightens the cares of life.

ARIADNE: My mind is free! I, too, want to lighten the cares of life!

INGERSOLL : But with Heaven and Hell and a judgmental God, the pulpit increases the tears and groans of man.

ARIADNE: I don‛t preach Hell and Judgement!

INGERSOLL: How very selective.

ARIADNE: That‛s not fair!

INGERSOLL: Is it not? So long as a man believes that a religion has eternal joy in store for him, so long as he believes that a religion holds within its hand the keys to heaven, it will be hard to make him trade off the hope of everlasting happiness for a few good clothes and a little good food and higher wages. He had better work for less and go a little hungry, and be an angel forever.

ARIADNE: That is not my mission!

INGERSOLL: What is your mission?

ARIADNE: To search for – truth.

INGERSOLL: To search for it is admirable. To recognize it, difficult. To speak it, courageous. Are you courageous? After all, we have found that other religions are like ours, with precisely the same basis, the same idiotic miracles, the same Christ or Saviour. It will hardly do to say that all others like ours are false, and ours the only true one. We have at last found that a religion is simply an effort on the part of man to account for what he sees, what he experiences, what he feels, what he fears, and what he hopes. If I know this in my time what‛s the excuse in – what did you say? Your era of moon travel and heart transplants?

ARIADNE: That‛s science. Insight into the world around us. Religion gives insight into the world within us.

INGERSOLL: So why did you abandon theatre? Leave Shakespeare for the Bible? All well-educated ministers know that the Bible suffers by a comparison with Shakespeare. You are well educated?

ARIADNE: (Irritated) English, History, Philosophy – Theology.

INGERSOLL: Very well, so you know that there is nothing within the lids of what they call “the sacred book” that can for one moment stand side by side with Lear or Hamlet or Julius Caesar. You know what poor human insight the Davids and the Abrahams and the rest of them give when on the stage with the great characters of Shakespeare.

ARIADNE: The Bible is not a play! My pulpit is not a stage!

INGERSOLL : Granted. There is this difference: The stage — the honesty of pretence. The pulpit – the pretence of honesty.

ARIADNE: You insufferable man! (Begins to weep)

(Ariadne runs off. Ingersoll sighs, picks up his cigar, fondles it with some longing, sighs, then puts it aside and pours himself a drink. As he does so —

(Lights fade to Black. Sound: The gentle musical transition. This time the hymn tune carries well over into the beginning of the next scene. It is the Welsh tune for How Firm a Foundation )

Act 2, Sc.1: c14 min

To Be Continued

The Radicalization of Ariadne Copyright © Munroe Scott All rights reserved.

 Although The Radicalization of Ariadne draws some inspiration from actual places, events and people it is nevertheless a work of fiction.

Remember.  The purpose of a workshop is for feedback.  Don’t be inhibited.

Posted in Opinion, Play, Politics, Religion, War | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cont’d, “THE RADICALIZATION OF ARIADNE” Act 1, Sc. 2 & 3

This continues the workshop of a play dealing with politics, religion and on-going war. If you missed Act One, Scene 1, see the archive  list to the right.  The brief outline of the purpose is there as well, titled “And now for something completely different”.

=================================================================

ACT ONE, Scene 1 ended with this:

………

ARIADNE: It‛s not my birthday.

HARRY : Your anniversary. Fifteen years ago today – you were ordained.

ARIADNE: You are a sweetheart. (Kisses him on the cheek) You‛re also an idiot. It was fifteen years ago, yes, and the day is right, yes, but next month. (Kisses him on the other cheek) Tell you what, I won‛t open it until a month today.

HARRY: Done. (Laughs) Marjorie there should have told me. Okay hon, hang onto it. And keep that evening clear. Dinner. Theatre. A little nooky?

ARIADNE: (Pleased) Dinner, theatre and a little nooky. (Teasing) Sound like good family values. Okay with the boss?

HARRY: I wasn‛t planning a threesome.

ARIADNE: May it ever be so.

HARRY: Amen to that. And stop worrying. You‛ll have a breakdown.

(Harry exits. Ariadne stands a moment staring after him)

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) The probability is that we are all mistaken about almost everything.

ARIADNE: Oh hush up.  (She picks up the parcel and her laptop.)

(Light fades to black. Sound: Gentle musical transition. Small bells or harp playing a few bars of St. Anne, the tune for “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past”.)

================================================================

So now let’s continue with —

ACT ONE

Scene 2

(The gentle musical transition of St Anne, the tune for “Oh God our help in ages past”, bridges to this scene as the lights come up on Ariadne‛s area. She is standing beside her desk, looking very thoughtful. The parcel is on the floor, unopened, on edge, leaning against the side of the desk. Her laptop is on the desk but not opened. After a moment she sits down and slowly opens the laptop and boots it up. The laptop is in front of her, lid open, its back toward the audience. As it boots up its screenlight shows on her face. She stares at the screen for a few moments as though still lost in thought, then claps her hands twice.)

ARIADNE: Computer. Search. Ingersoll Robert Green. Profile. Display. Read.

(Wavering light reflecting on her face from the computer screen verifies that the laptop is in action.)

MARJORIE (Voice Over): (Very deliberately) Robert Green Ingersoll was born in Dresden, State of New York, on August 11th, 1833. During the Civil War he raised the 11th Illinois Cavalry Regiment. As Colonel he took command and fought bravely.

(Ingersoll appears behind Ariadne and peers at the screen over her shoulder. She is not immediately aware of him.)

Ingersoll’s radical views on religion, slavery, woman’s suffrage, and other issues of the day prevented him from political office higher than that of Attorney General of the State of Illinois.

(Ariadne gradually becomes aware of a presence behind her and appears almost afraid to turn around.)

Ingersoll was heralded by the press not only as “The Great Agnostic” and “The Great Infidel” but as one of the great orators of his time.

INGERSOLL: “One of the great orators of my time.” My, my. Very flattering indeed.

ARIADNE: (Gasps) Oh! Oh my goodness, who – who – You! It‛s not possible.

(Light from the screen continues to be active. Ariadne leaps up, staring from the screen to Ingersoll and back again)

MARJORIE : (Voice over, reading) Robert Ingersoll died at the age of 65 on July 21, 1899.

INGERSOLL: So that’s exactly when it happened? Well, well, how interesting.

ARIADNE: No, no. Oh, no. (She claps her hands three times) Computer. Computer. Off.

(The computer does not shut down.)

INGERSOLL: My dear Madam, thank you for the applause but I have done nothing to deserve it. (Bewildered) Or – have I alarmed you, Madam? I do apologize.

ARIADNE: No, no. (Trying to laugh) This can‛t be. This is a bad joke. (Calls) Harry!

INGERSOLL: (Bewildered) What’s all this about? Where am I? Have I been – summoned? Did you summon me, Madam? (Irate) How can I be summoned!

ARIADNE: (Calls) Harry!

INGERSOLL: I‛ll have you know, Madam, that I am dead. Quite dead. What effrontery is this? It goes against my philosophy to be – uh – resurrected –

ARIADNE: Okay now, buster —

INGERSOLL: (Recovering his gallantry) – even, with your indulgence, Madame,–

ARIADNE: – let‛s not push this too far.

INGERSOLL: – by someone as charming as yourself.

ARIADNE: (To herself) Okay now, Ariadne. You know who he thinks he is or is pretending to be. But it can‛t be. Not here. Not now. It‛s either a joke or you‛ve been working too hard. This is just – just – (Does some deep breathing) – If you relax it will go away. (Calls) Harry!

INGERSOLL: Madam, are you alright? You seem highly disturbed.

(Harry enters. He is, and remains, unaware of Ingersoll )

HARRY: Darling, what‛s wrong? Are you not well?

ARIADNE: Harry, are you two playing games?

HARRY: (Cautiously) No-o-o. Two? Wh – what are you looking at?

ARIADNE: Does this Dandy Dicto Devil have holograph capabilities?

HARRY: How I wish. Maybe, sometime, eventually. Dandy Dicto Devil. I still like that. The DDD.

ARIADNE: I can‛t shut it off.

(Harry, somewhat puzzled, goes to he laptop and turns it off by closing the lid.. Ingersoll does not leave.)

HARRY: (Gently concerned) Darling, please. Give it a rest. You‛re taking it too seriously – your whole wacky idea of organizing a weekly Wednesday session googling Colonel what‛s-his-name along with your ditzy dialogue group of armchair social radicals – it‛s not worth a – a breakdown.

ARIADNE: Taking it seriously! Of course it‛s serious. It – it – it‛s my – job. How can I be too serious about my job?

HARRY: A nervous breakdown won‛t help. Why don‛t you lie down for a while. Rest. You‛ve not been sleeping well. I have to get up to the Hill. By the way, our date for your anniversary – might have to cancel – could be a Defence Committee meeting and a vote that evening.

(Harry exits)

ARIADNE: (Calls after him, irately) Defence Committee! A vote! What happened to dinner theatre and nooky?

HARRY: (Off, calls) There‛s a war on.

ARIADNE: (Swings toward Ingersoll.) Okay, you‛re a figment of my imagination. So begone. You‛re not real.

INGERSOLL: That concerned gentleman apparently agreed.

ARIADNE: That gentleman is my husband. We have different ideas of reality.

INGERSOLL: Perhaps it is you who is not real.

ARIADNE: (Adamantly) You‛re not here.

INGERSOLL: (Cheerfully) Is there any “here” here?

ARIADNE: (Almost amused) That‛s debatable. We‛re in Ottawa. At least I am.

INGERSOLL: (Amazed and amused) What? In Canada? Well, I suppose that is possible. It always did seem like a most improbable country. Oh yes, I’ve been here before. Toronto, Victoria – (chuckles) Victoria – The authorities endeavoured to prevent my lecture. Can you imagine that?

ARIADNE: I can indeed.

INGERSOLL: They refused the license, on the ground that the theatre was unsafe, and —

ARIADNE: Yes, yes. I know. The theatre was changed, the fire commissioner said okay, you got your license. I‛ve read all this.

INGERSOLL: You have?

ARIADNE: Sure. Obviously, so have you. A newspaper interview back in, oh I don‛t know, 1884.

INGERSOLL: My goodness. So you know that on the night of the lecture –

ARIADNE: Yes I do know!

INGERSOLL: — when the new hall was about two-thirds full, the police appeared again, said the house was unsafe, there should be another door —

ARIADNE: (To herself) He can‛t have memorized all this.

INGERSOLL: — whereupon my friends, in a few minutes, made another door with an axe and a saw, the crowd was admitted and the lecture was delivered.

ARIADNE: Oh my gosh, you really are in my head. Harry‛s right. I‛ve been pushing this too hard.

INGERSOLL: Well then, Madam, if I am in your head that would explain why the gentleman just now did not see me.

ARIADNE: (Almost laughing) Yes it would, wouldn‛t it. And I was afraid you might be a ghost.

INGERSOLL: (Affronted) I do not believe in the supernatural.

ARIADNE: Not even spirits?

INGERSOLL: There may be spirits. They may communicate with some people, but thus far they have been successful in avoiding me. Of course, I know nothing for certain on the subject. —

ARIADNE: Really! But if you died in 1899 how can you not – oh, never mind. If my research is correct, you don‛t, or didn‛t, even believe in God.

INGERSOLL: The idea of an infinite Being outside and independent of nature is both inconceivable and absurd —

ARIADNE: Oh come now.

INGERSOLL: – and to make something out of nothing cannot be more absurd than to believe that an infinite intelligence made this world —

ARIADNE: Most cultures are rooted in both “absurd” beliefs!

INGERSOLL: May I finish my thought, Madam? To make something out of nothing cannot be more absurd than to believe that an infinite intelligence made this world and proceeded to fill it with crime and want and agony, and, yes, war, and then, not satisfied with the evil he had wrought, made a hell in which to consummate the great mistake. But, Madam, these questions of origin and destiny are beyond the powers of the human mind. They cannot be solved. We might as well try to travel fast enough to get beyond the horizon. (Concerned) You seem unduly agitated by my presence in your mind.

ARIADNE: “Unduly agitated”? I build my career on something you call inconceivable and then stumble onto your trail on the Internet. Of course I‛m agitated.

INGERSOLL: My trail? The Internet?

ARIADNE: Not that I was unaware of other freethinkers – I am educated, after all – Einstein, Thomas Paine, Jefferson – theologs bat those types around as part of the game. We did that in college. Stimulating. I read Bishop Robinson. And Bishop Spong. Heard Spong, in person! But oh my goodness, they didn‛t really penetrate until – Canadians with an axe and a saw hacking another doorway? Once I found you – reams of you – out in cyber space –

INGERSOLL: Cyber space?

ARIADNE: – and realized you‛d once been applauded by thousands of ordinary people all over the continent –

INGERSOLL: I don‛t recall visiting anywhere called Cyber Space.

ARIADNE: You were popular in some areas where today their descendants would – would – Oh my God to think I was – see? “God” is entrenched in the vocabulary. My congregation is not very – well, let‛s say not establishment. More of a blue collar group. I doubt many have read Tillich, or Spong, or even Dawkins.

INGERSOLL: Nor have I.

ARIADNE: The idea of people very like mine picking up an axe and a saw to gain access to – to radical ideas – well —

INGERSOLL: That audience was well-behaved, intelligent and appreciative.

ARIADNE: I was thinking of carefully exposing a small weekly study group to your once populist ideas –

INGERSOLL: A charming thought.

ARIADNE: Given today‛s events, historical context might prove thought provoking –

INGERSOLL: Historical?

ARIADNE: My “ditzy dialogue group”. My own Harry called it ditzy. Just now. Ditzy.

INGERSOLL: An interesting adjective. I believe I also heard – wacky, was it?

ARIADNE: But now, with you here –

INGERSOLL: If I may be of service –

ARIADNE: Service! Of course! That‛s the key. (Excited) A full series of Sunday morning services dedicated to exploring you – a once popular 19th century freethinker – Robert Green Ingersoll. How can I avoid it? It‛s inevitable. I‛ve been wanting to bring my people into the progressive stream.

INGERSOLL: (Puzzled) Sunday services? Pastor? You are talking like a clergyman.

ARIADNE: Woman.

INGERSOLL: Most assuredly that.

ARIADNE: Are you sure you‛re dead?

INGERSOLL: Apparently my heart gave up and I don‛t believe in immortality.

ARIADNE: There‛s the nub of it. In today‛s world unquestioning belief in immortality is dangerous. Oh so dangerous.

INGERSOLL: If we take the Old Testament for authority, man is not immortal. The Old Testament shows man how he lost immortality.

ARIADNE: And woman.

INGERSOLL: (Puzzled) Madam?

ARIADNE: Sorry. A reflex. Immaterial.

INGERSOLL: You interest me. A reflex, you say?

ARIADNE: I suppose women never were immortal? A typical male construct.

INGERSOLL: (Still puzzled) The term “man” is generic.

ARIADNE: Not any longer. Not here.

INGERSOLL: Really – very well – The Old testament still shows man – uh – mankind – humanki – (cheerfully) us all. Yes. The Old testament shows us all how we lost immortality. My opinion of immortality is this: First.– I live, or did live, and that of itself is, was, infinitely wonderful. Second.–There was a time when I was not, and after I was not, I was. Third — Now that I am, or was, I may be again; and it is no more wonderful that I may be again, if I have been, which I was, than that I am, which I’m not, having once been nothing.
How‛s that? I should have been a preacher.
Madam, forgive me. I am somewhat disoriented. We have established the here but not the when. I have no idea into what era you and your technology have dragged me.

ARIADNE: My dear Colonel – may I call you Colonel?

INGERSOLL: I‛d be honoured. My friends called me Colonel. The public called me Bob.

ARIADNE: How quaintly topsy turvy. My name is Ariadne.

INGERSOLL: Delighted. The era, Madam, if you please?

ARIADNE: Try the year two thousand and fifteen. Welcome, dear Colonel, to the transplanting of hearts and lungs, to instant global personal communication, to space travel, to men walking on the moon, to a robot landing on a comet a few million miles away. Welcome, dear Colonel, to the 21st century.

INGERSOLL: (Astonished) What! Well over a hundred years? (Delighted) Given the relentless progress of enlightenment by now there can be no more popes or prelates, no congressmen or parliamentarians personally motivated by irrational superstitions, no political parties drawing strength from those who believe in the absurdities of book-based “inspired” religions! How marvellous. (Puzzled) But yet – forgive me, but – well, Madam, you yourself have been speaking like some kind of a – (apologetically) a cleric?

ARIADNE: Granted. Some kind.

INGERSOLL: A deaconess?

ARIADNE: No. Ordained.

INGERSOLL: A woman minister!

ARIADNE: (Coldly) Do you have something against women?

INGERSOLL: (Hastily) Certainly not. Woman is naturally the equal of man. In time, when she has had the opportunity and the training, she will produce as great pictures, as great statues, as great books, dramas and poems as man has produced or will produce. So I say equal rights, equal education, equal advantages. But, if you, a woman, are not only ordained then – well — dear me — churches are still functioning?

ARIADNE: (Almost snaps) Of course.

INGERSOLL: You‛re a Sally then! Here, in Canada.

ARIADNE: If you mean Sally Ann, no.

INGERSOLL: But if ordained – then what sect – ?

ARIADNE: If you mean denomination – Protestant, major, Canadian – believe me. And well after your time.

INGERSOLL: And you are ministering here, in the capital city? With a congregation? A pastorate?

ARIADNE: Yes.

INGERSOLL: And you, a pastor, are questioning your own belief in immortality? (Pleased) Well, well, at least that is progress. Slow, but progress. I always said I hope that woman will not continue to be the serf of superstition, that she will not be the support of the church and priest, that she will not stand for the conservation of superstition, but that in the east of her mind the sun of progress will rise. And now, you, a pastor are questioning your own belief in immortality. Well done.

ARIADNE: No. You question it.

INGERSOLL: Not at all. I simply say that if there is another world we ought to make the best of it after arriving there. If there is not another world, or if there is another world, we ought to make the best of this. And since nobody knows, all should be permitted to have their opinions, and my opinion is that nobody knows.

ARIADNE: When “what nobody knows” but claim to know is a core belief at the root of escalating global violence, terrorism and endless wars – perhaps, then – we all should question it?

INGERSOLL: But the very hucksters of immortality are you, and always have been, the clergy! Of all Faiths. Over the centuries you and your churches and temples and mosques have turned immortality into a commodity. Have the chickens come home to roost?

ARIADNE: All Sects, all Denominations, all Faiths. Believe, donate, die, and go to Heaven. Quite liturgical, isn‛t it.

INGERSOLL: Even so, if the churches only advocated immortality, I never would say a solitary word against them —

ARIADNE: Ah yes, but now, for some fundamentalists in some Faiths it‛s Believe, Kill, Destroy and go to Heaven. Or don‛t believe, and go to Hell.

INGERSOLL: Ah, the unfortunate corollary – and just as long as anyone preaches that the majority of mankind will suffer eternal pain in a Hereafter, just so long I shall oppose them; that is to say, as long as I live. Or, given the current circumstances, as long as my thoughts live.

I get the impression, Madam, that you are with me?

ARIADNE: (Hesitant) Possibly. – No. No! I can‛t be. (Highly agitated) You‛re a – a – an intellectual CF 18 –

INGERSOLL: CF 18?

ARIADNE: – dropping philosophical bombs onto Christian targets – onto believers – onto me – onto us – and oh my goodness – the possible collateral damage – I have to think about the collateral damage. Can a pastor question faith without destroying it? Can a pastor not question faith? Does questioning lead to denial?

INGERSOLL: (Kindly) Dear Madam, if we are going to ponder such disturbing thoughts may we not at least be comfortable?

(A comfortable wingback armchair slides diagonally into the area. On the downstage side of the chair there is an ashtray on a stand, with an unlit cigar, and on the upstage side a small end table with a bottle of port and two wine glasses. )

INGERSOLL: Ah, my own chair. How hospitable.

(Lights Fade to Black)

(Sound: The gentle musical transition, the tune Melita, for “Eternal Father Strong to Save”. )

Act 1, Sc 2: c 18 min

Act 1. Scene 3
(Lights Fade up in Harry‛s area.  Harry, highly agitated, paces back and forth as he reads a folded tabloid newspaper. Music transition ends and he speaks.)

HARRY: Ady my Rev, this is going too far. Last time we talked about your ditzy Colonel you were going to have a harmless mid week study group. This interview with you says you‛re now planning an entire series of Sunday morning services. “Examining Roots”.

(The light expands to include Ariadne in his area.)

ARIADNE: Think of it as committing sociology.

HARRY: Featuring your kooky 19th century retired Colonel? Give me a break

ARIADNE: I think he‛s rather charming.

HARRY: Is?

ARIADNE: (Hurriedly) Was. Away back in 1894 an English reporter said the Colonel was interesting, big-hearted, decisive, with a manner entirely delightful, yet tinged with a certain reserve. Doesn‛t sound too dangerous.

HARRY: Well, Ady, this sounds dangerous. Up home in Hackmatack folk would just have said, “Well there goes Airy Ari again,” but here –

ARIADNE: Airy Ari?

HARRY: Surely you knew they called you that? Airy Ari. Lovingly. Don‛t count on it down here. Not in the capital with the country at war with Jihadis abroad, and at home with the propaganda mills of those same Jihadis.

ARIADNE: As soon as you use the word Jihadi you make it Muslim. As soon as you make it Muslim you make it religious.

HARRY: So?

ARIADNE: So since we seem to be embroiled upon a century of endless war and since every war so far seems to be rooted in somebody‛s religion, and every side always invokes God‛s aid, maybe we should take a look at our own beliefs? Is it possible there are some motes in our own eyes?

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area, revealing Ingersoll, comfortably seated in the armchair to one side, facing downstage but at an angle. Throughout this scene he speaks conversationally, as though addressing Ariadne, even though she is with Harry in another area. )

INGERSOLL: Religion is superstition – a sanctified mistake, and heresy a slandered fact.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

ARIADNE: Don‛t you find it interesting that the Colonel drew huge audiences a hundred and fifty years ago?

HARRY : This implies he didn‛t even believe in God.

ARIADNE: I don‛t know. They called him The Great Atheist, but also The Great Agnostic.

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: In what is called religion man is asked to do something for God.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

ARIADNE: He certainly didn‛t believe in an interfering, demanding God.

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: As God wants nothing, and can by no possibility accept anything, such a religion is simply superstition.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

ARIADNE: And darling, you and I both know, anybody with a modest education knows that any religion is partly superstition. We just don‛t usually admit it or act on it. Or do we? Bush claimed it was God‛s plan for him to go into Iraq. Are we Canadians following somebody‛s idea of God‛s plan? If so let‛s know about – think about it.

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: Whoever imagines that he can do anything for God is mistaken

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

HARRY : (Continuing to peruse the newspaper) You can‛t mean to open this debate. Not with this war going on. Not with our government –

ARIADNE: Your government.

HARRY : – with its core support rooted in – in – well, people of Faith.

ARIADNE: Ah yes. Faith. Precisely. That‛s the whole point of “Examining Roots”.

HARRY : This interviewer says it sounds as though you‛re planning on challenging the Bible.

ARIADNE: I‛m not planning on challenging anything except minds. I want to present some old ideas for re-examination. Old ideas expounded by a 19th century retired Colonel who became a famous orator. What‛s so scary about that?

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: I do not believe in any Supreme personality or in any Supreme Being who made the universe and governs nature. I do not say that there is no such Being — all I say is that I do not believe that such a Being exists. But if there is such a Being, he certainly never wrote the Old Testament

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

HARRY : (Still perusing the article) Oh, oh, oh, if this goes where I think it might go – my God, darling –

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: As for who did write the Old Testament, that book so beloved by some Christians, I have always taken pains to say that Moses, if he ever existed at all, had nothing to do with the books that bear his name..

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

HARRY : Tell me you‛re not going where this implies. You‛ll have B‛Nai B‛rith and the Anti-Defamation League and everyone else down on you.

ARIADNE: Does “everyone else” include the Boss?

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: Thinking of Moses as a man, admitting that he may have been the founder of the Jewish people – that he found them barbarians and endeavoured to control them by thunder and lightning, and found it necessary to pretend that he was in partnership with the power governing the universe – that he took advantage of their ignorance and fear, just as politicians do now, and as theologians always will – still, I see no evidence that the man Moses was any nearer to God than his descendants.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

HARRY : (Still referring to the article) Is this just, just a columnist‛s over the top speculation, or is it — Jesus Christ, darling, don‛t go there.

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: Moses was a believer in slavery, in polygamy, in wars of extermination, in religious persecution and intolerance and in almost everything that is now regarded with loathing, contempt and scorn. The Jehovah of whom he speaks violated, or commands the violation of at least nine of the Ten Commandments he gave.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

ARIADNE: If we examine roots how can we not go there? Isn‛t the Old Testament the tap root of the New? The Old Testament forms two thirds of the “Holy Bible” that sits every Sunday on my pulpit. How can I not go there?

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: The truth is that the Jews adopted the stories of Creation, the Garden of Eden, Forbidden Fruit, and the Fall of Man. They were told by older barbarians than they, and the Jews gave those stories to us.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

HARRY : Where on earth will it take you?

ARIADNE: I have no idea. But the Bible says the truth will set us free, so maybe we should find out?

HARRY: (Backing off) The Bible is your domain, not mine. Mine is science. Technology. Remember?

ARIADNE: And politics.

HARRY: And politics. You‛re damn right!

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: Probably Moses, if he existed, did the best he could. He had never talked with Humboldt or Laplace. He knew nothing of geology or astronomy. He had not the slightest suspicion of Kepler’s Three Laws. He never saw a copy of Newton’s Principia. Taking all these things into consideration, let us say Moses did the best he could.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

ARIADNE: Harry darling, with all your technical knowledge, your skill, inventiveness, even intuitive understanding of, of, well of how things work – in this – this government, are you really doing the best you can do?

HARRY : Ady my Rev, you stick to your Sunday services, your weekday meetings, your pastoral visits, charities, bazaars, whatever, but for Pete‛s sake try to stay within the bounds of – of –

ARIADNE: (Incensed) Of what?

HARRY : (Frustrated and angry) How the hell should I know. Orthodox Christianity?

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: I can imagine no man who can be benefited by being made a Catholic or a Presbyterian or a Baptist or a Methodist – or, in other words, by being made an orthodox Christian. The orthodox church retards civilization, always has retarded it, always will.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

ARIADNE: Harry hon, all I know is it‛s time we Christians took a look at ourselves before we continue marching off into all kinds of religion-infected wars. I know, I know, it‛s always someone else‛s religion that is the current root of all evil, never our own. All I know is, I can‛t help thinking about it. Your business, darling, you just said it, is technology – and politics. My business is not just religion but specifically – Christianity.

(Both Harry and Ariadne freeze. Light comes up on Ingersoll‛s area.)

INGERSOLL: But by Christianity I do not mean morality, kindness, forgiveness, justice. Those virtues are not distinctively Christian. They are claimed by Mohammedans and Buddhists, by Infidels and Atheists – and practised by some of all classes. Christianity consists of the miraculous, the marvellous, and the impossible. In its doctrine of eternal damnation it is a disgrace to human nature.

(Lights go down on Ingersoll. Ariadne and Harry unfreeze.)

HARRY : Well for Christ‛s sake be careful. With this war going on and –

ARIADNE: (Exploding) War, war, war. There‛s always a war. Each one morphs into the next. What are we to do? Wait for eternal peace before trying to figure out why there‛s so much insanity in the world? Shouldn‛t we be trying to figure out if maybe we and our beliefs are at least a tiny part of it? And if we want others to examine their beliefs should we not examine our own?

HARRY : You may be right, but you know I opted out of all the religious dogma years ago.

ARIADNE: While adopting the rhetoric.

HARRY: Ouch.

ARIADNE: But maybe you and your parliamentary business buddies up on the Hill should be looking at your corporate dogma.

HARRY: Hold the phone! Where are you going with that one!

ARIADNE: It seems to me that the government you serve has also made business a religion.

HARRY: (Laughing uncomfortably) Honey, you are nuts.

ARIADNE: Oh? The new churches are Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Agro, Big Chem and their ecumenical convocations issue Free Trade declarations of Faith based on the holy doctrines of guaranteed Profits, eternal Growth, Tax Cuts and Greed. That‛s the real New Age colonial religion and the Boss appears to be its high priest.

HARRY: Come now.

ARIADNE: Our country has been colonized – again. A new Theocracy, and he and his cabinet are a corporate Family Compact, a corporate Chateau Clique. But darling, there are too many Gods. No Government can follow the God of the Old Testament, the God of the New Testament, and the God of the Corporations all at the same time and remain sane.

HARRY: Holy smokes! And you‛re not into politics? You‛re the one should have run for parliament. You have the passion. Where did we go wrong?

ARIADNE: I was in the pulpit.

HARRY: There are preachers in parliament. The NDP was built by them.

ARIADNE: (Relaxes. Laughs) So I should have run against you? Great. Hon, we built our firewall to protect our love. But with your smarts, Harry Brewster, you should be questioning both the religion and the colonizing.

HARRY: Should be?

ARIADNE: (Hastily) Could be. If you wanted. At one time, early on, I actually thought that was your aim. To hopefully subvert those corporate creature imperialists – from inside.

HARRY: (Uneasy) It may well have been, but now? With a war on? Cut my own throat? Fat lot of good I‛d be to anybody. I‛m not going there.

ARIADNE: You don‛t have to go anywhere. But I do.

HARRY : No you don‛t. Do your pastoral duties, perform your priestly rituals –

ARIADNE: Priestly!

HARRY : Well, (Teasing) Vestal Virgin rituals?

(She takes a mock swing at him and loses her balance. He ducks but catches her. Holds her lovingly.)

HARRY : Ady my Rev, do – be – careful. (Kisses her) And stop worrying.

(Lights fade to Black)

Sc. 3: c 10 min

Act l : c 58 min

END OF ACT ONE

To Be Continued

The Radicalization of Ariadne Copyright © Munroe Scott All rights reserved.

 Although The Radicalization of Ariadne draws some inspiration from actual places, events and people it is nevertheless a work of fiction.

Remember.  The purpose of a workshop is for feedback.  Don’t be inhibited.

Posted in Opinion, Play, Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“THE RADICALIZATION OF ARIADNE” Act 1, Sc.1

Here we go with Part 1 of an experimental workshop of a new play that deals with politics, religion and on-going war.  If you missed the brief outline of the purpose of this exercise, it is accessible on the archive list to the right of this as “And Now for Something Completely Different”.

Although The Radicalization of Ariadne draws some inspiration from actual places, events and people it is nevertheless a work of fiction.

________________________________________________________________

The Radicalization of Ariadne

By

Munroe Scott

A play in Two Acts for 4 actors

The Characters

Rev. Ariadne Brookfield: An attractive, poised woman in her late forties. Equally comfortable in a house dress or clerical vestments.

Hon. Harry Brewster: Same age as Ariadne, and her equally poised male counterpart.

Col. Robert G. Ingersoll: An affable, rather portly 65 year old gentleman with a charming manner and the richly textured voice of an experienced orator.

Marjorie: Only “Voice Over”. The synthesized female voice of a computer dictation program.
Place: Ariadne‛s apartment in Ottawa, and Ariadne‛s mind.

Time: The present.

Staging

Although there are some technical requirements for visual projection and recorded sound, the play as written is envisaged as being more reliant upon lighting than upon elaborate settings. In essence it requires an open stage able to accommodate three distinct lighting areas, with the lighting of each area having considerable flexibility. There is a requirement for some minimum set dressing in each area but the extent to which each may be elaborated upon is, of course, director‛s choice.

ACT ONE

Scene 1

(Area lighting. To begin with only one small area is lit. It discloses Ariadne sitting at her own desk in her home office, looking very contemplative. Nothing happens for several moments and then –)

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over.  Note: During Scene 1 this voice is somewhat muted – almost whispered. It is in Ariadne‛s head) As a book the Bible is far too exalted. It contains some good passages, a little poetry, some good sense, and some kindness, but its philosophy is frightful. If the Bible had never existed it would have been far better for mankind. (Echo) far better for mankind – far better for mankind —

(She puts her head in her hands. From a dark area of the stage we hear Harry‛s voice.)

HARRY: Computer. Start Listening. Go to House. Harry‛s den. Lights. On.

(Another area is lit, revealing Harry in his home office. He is standing beside an open laptop computer and a digital projector. The projector is placed on top of a square gift-wrapped package.)

HARRY: Go to Ariadne‛s den. Lights. Off.

(Lights go off in Ariadne‛s area.)

ARIADNE: (Calls) Harr-r-r-y-y — I‛m working.

HARRY: Working?

ARIADNE: Thinking. And where is my laptop?

HARRY: (Calls) Ghostly voices prefer the dark. Your laptop is here. Computer. Ariadne‛s den. Lights. On.

(Lights go on in her area.)

HARRY: Computer. Harry‛s den. Lights. Off.

(His areas goes dark)

HARRY: Computer. Lights. On.

(His area is re-lit.)

HARRY: Ariadne‛s den. Lights. (Claps his hands twice)

(Lights in Ariadne‛s area go off.)

ARIADNE: (Calls) Harry, knock it off!

(Harry claps his hands twice. Her Lighting is restored. )

HARRY: Harry‛s den. Lights. (Claps twice. His area goes dark. Claps twice, area is re-lit. Thinks a moment then says – ) Projector.

(Claps twice. The projector turns on, throwing a large square of light on the wall screen)

HARRY: Dictation. My name is Harry Brewster. I am married to that curvaceous creature in the next room known professionally as the Reverend Ariadne Brookfield. My Rev wears my ring but not my name. She hears voices.

(The words have appeared while he talked, as though being typed.)

ARIADNE: (Calls) The only voice I hear is yours.

(Her words also appear on the screen. She leaves her desk and comes into his space and looks at the screen.. Harry claps twice and no more words are transcribed. After she enters his space the lights gradually fade off in her area)

ARIADNE: Harry, that‛s marvellous. It transcribes both of us! Without being taught our voices! I thought that was still a work in progress. Last time I tried it it was still a moron. At least for dictation. Your search engine was amazing.

HARRY : Oh Ady, you were doing so much research and writing using your laptop and the Internet that you gave me a wish list, remember? One thing you hated was dictating punctuation. No longer.

ARIADNE: It reads inflection?

HARRY: It does all kinds of things. Locks and unlocks the house, controls the frig, the furnace, the cat. (She takes a mock swing as though to cuff his ears) But that‛s just gilding existing lilies. It has hidden talents.

ARIADNE: Such as?

HARRY : (Hesitantly) Ady my Rev, remain innocent.

ARIADNE: Innocent. Me? Why?

HARRY: Let‛s just say national security might be involved.

ARIADNE: National Security! Oh hey, that old canard may work in the House on the Hill but not in our house.

HARRY: Yeah. I‛m sorry. Let‛s just say Tom knows more of the ins and outs of it than I do.

ARIADNE: (Probing) Let‛s just say I believe you.

HARRY: Well, uh – fact is – we really are selling the company. The partnership.

ARIADNE: Oh Harry dear, are you sure? You‛ve both worked so hard.

HARRY: Well, Tom thinks it‛s time. As for me, even when I‛m up home in Hackmatack there‛s been no time for this. Arm‛s length is the name of the game.

ARIADNE: Harry hon, it‛s still your design, your baby. The whole thing is you.

HARRY: No, no. The business end. That‛s Tom. I‛ve got the business drive but he has the know how. Always been that way. You know that, and in a way it‛s been for the better. Where the company is concerned I‛ve had to appear to be in limbo.

ARIADNE: (Teasing) Well, you are in limbo. As a government backbencher how much farther into shadowland can you get?

HARRY: (Non-committally) Well, we‛ll see. Uh – maybe we should talk about that some time. (Intentionally changing the subject) Here – (Indicates the laptop) Have a go at it. Don‛t verbalize your commas and periods. Shape them by inflection.

ARIADNE: Same code?

HARRY : Yep. One clap starts it. Two for start listening. Two again for stop listening. Three to shut down. Simple. Once, twice, thrice.

ARIADNE: Thrice. I love it. How very archaic for state of the art. Why the projector?

HARRY: Practising for a group demo.

ARIADNE: (Claps her hands twice) Continue dictation. My modest husband is really The Honourable Harry Brewster, Member of Parliament, representing the people of Hackmatack and Oshbegong in the Government led by the Regressive Party.

HARRY: Regressive? That‛s not fair.

ARIADNE: Well quit calling me Rev. My beloved is also the CEO and chief genius of Brewster Miracle Software. Or at least he has been. And I do not hear voices!

(The system has been transcribing and projecting all spoken words in one paragraph with punctuation but no line breaks.)

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) The probability is that we are all mistaken about almost everything.

ARIADNE: Nonsense! (Looks startled, hurriedly claps twice. and glances at Harry, but the Ingersoll words do not appear on the screen. )

HARRY: (Puzzled) It‛s not nonsense. Our baby‛s a genius.

ARIADNE: Your baby. (She blows him a loving air kiss)

HARRY: Hey, hey. We can do better than that. Listen. How do you like this? (Claps twice) Computer. Full text. Give voice.

ARIADNE: Give voice?

HARRY: Sh-h-h-

COMPUTER MARJORIE: (Voice Over. The voice is female but of a very different texture than Ariadne‛s.) Read or reproduce?

HARRY: Read.

ARIADNE: What the —

HARRY: Sh-h-h.

COMPUTER MARJORIE: (Voice Over) My name is Harry Brewster. I am married to that curvaceous creature in the next room known professionally as the Reverend Ariadne Brookfield. My Rev wears my ring but not my name. She hears voices. The only voice I hear is yours.

ARIADNE: Well, it‛s got good hearing but doesn‛t care who‛s speaking.

HARRY: (Claps twice) Repeat. Reproduce.

COMPUTER (HARRY Voice over):   My name is Harry Brewster. I am married to that curvaceous creature in the next room known professionally as the Reverend Ariadne Brookfield. My Rev wears my ring but not my name. She hears voices. (ARIADNE Voice over) The only voice I hear is yours.

HARRY: (Harry claps thrice and all text disappears.) And so on and so forth. How do you like them apples?

ARIADNE: (Truly amazed) Oh my gosh, you actually did it! Not only instant recognition but replay of actual voices. (Gives him a really big kiss and a hug.) Honourable Harry Brewster, you really are a genius.

HARRY: The Boss thinks so.

ARIADNE: The P.M. knows about this?

HARRY: Yep. It‛s already installed in his private office.

ARIADNE: Can you do that? Take private business into – into –

HARRY: My naive little Rev. There‛s a war on. The rules get bent. Besides, it‛s an office tool. And he‛s asked me to do a demo for the PMO. It‛ll probably be installed there, too.

ARIADNE: What‛s in it for the Boss?

HARRY: Hey, this is all based on improving cutting edge communication technology. Who knows what future applications might be. (Cheerfully) Besides, he probably wants to claim having the smarts to be the encourager – for the dicto program, even the first user. As an entrepreneurial businessman who am I to object? More than happy to oblige.

ARIADNE: Cutting edge technology! The smarts!  This is Science.  He doesn‛t believe in – in —

HARRY: Hey, hey! Me Tarzan.

ARIADNE: Sorry. Me Jane.

HARRY: Me politics.

ARIADNE: Me religion.

BOTH: Firewall. (They bump fists)

ARIADNE: And don‛t keep saying I hear voices.

HARRY: You‛re not?

ARIADNE: Why?

HARRY: (Laughs) That faraway look you get on your face.

ARIADNE: So what‛s new?

HARRY: And every now and then you respond to something that hasn‛t been said. Like just now. What was nonsense?

ARIADNE: (Cheerfully) Let‛s just say I‛m having attacks of introspection. A bad case of introspection. I‛ll work through it.

HARRY : You sure it has nothing to do with this new system? You‛d tell me? Seems to me it started when you were trying out our search engine. Jesus Christ, Ady, if you spotted a glitch, in God‛s name tell me!

ARIADNE: Harry, don‛t swear. Some day you‛ll do it in Parliament.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) I often swear. I take the name of God in vain. Nothing practical results from it.

ARIADNE: (Giggles)

HARRY: Not sure how funny it would be.

ARIADNE: Funny? Oh no. No hon. Far from it. It‛s just that – that – well, doing some Internet browsing I came upon a – well, I guess you‛d say a voice from the past.

HARRY : How far past?

ARIADNE: (Trying to be casual) 19th century. Hundred and fifty years, give and take. A Colonel.

HARRY : (Laughs) A 19th century Colonel! And what did the old coot have to say? Some words of wisdom for fighting Islamic terrorism?

ARIADNE: Believe it or not, yes indeed.

HARRY : All help welcome. What was he a Colonel of?

ARIADNE: Cavalry. American Civil War.

HARRY: I suppose bums in saddles keep boots off the ground.

ARIADNE: Later became the Attorney General of Illinois.

HARRY : A politician!

ARIADNE: (Laughs) No, no. A lawyer. Much too radical to be a politician.

HARRY: Thanks.

ARIADNE: He was known as The Great Atheist.

HARRY : (Chuckling) Back then not a great campaign label.

ARIADNE: Back then! Try it now. Try it in Hackmatack.

HARRY : Oh ho, no thanks.

ARIADNE: He was also known as The Great Orator.

HARRY: Hey, we could use some oratorical support. (Slight burst of anger) God knows some of the stuff I hear in the House is almost – (backing off) well, you know.

ARIADNE: No, Harry, I don‛t know.

HARRY: Forget it.

ARIADNE: You never say.

HARRY: Not now.

ARIADNE: Darling, are you alright?

HARRY: What about your so-called orator?

ARIADNE: Your brilliant search engine said he was “the most famous unknown American”. So I followed the trail. Couldn‛t resist. So there, if I‛m pre-occupied it‛s all your fault. I was using your search engine. His words make me think.

HARRY: Happy thoughts, I hope.

ARIADNE: Not particularly.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) Religion is simply superstition.

HARRY: Try this. May cheer you up. We‛ve improved the search feature. Can now summarize. You‛ll love it. (Claps twice) Computer. Search. Summarize. Essentials only. Twenty-five words. Colonel — (glances questioningly at Ariadne)

ARIADNE: – Robert Green Ingersoll.

HARRY: Display. Read.

(Text is projected onto the screen. It ribbons on as it is read by “Marjorie”, the computer voice.)

MARJORIE: (Voice Over)  Col. Robert Green Ingersoll 1833 to 1899. Attorney General Illinois. The Great Orator. The Great Infidel. Currently said to be ” the most famous unknown American”

ARIADNE: Why does that computer voice – the – the – that female voice – it sounds familiar.

HARRY: You caught that, eh? Marj. It‛s not her, but it‛s simulated. Marjorie.

ARIADNE: The Boss‛s secretary! Does she know?

HARRY: Both know. They like it. Suggest I nickname the program Marjorie. If it goes commercial it will imply everyone using it is sharing the PM‛s secretary. The verbal command to take dictation can be either “dictation” or simply, “Marjorie”. How of-the-people can you get? Right up there with music and sport.

ARIADNE: (Laughs) You‛re shameless.

HARRY: If it works, work it. And word is filtering out. Members of the caucus are already asking to have it installed. They know I‛m doing a demo for the PMO.

ARIADNE: And after the caucus comes the Party?

HARRY: With luck, then everybody. Like I say, if it works, work it.

ARIADNE: You weren‛t always so cynical.

HARRY: (Claps three times and the whole computer system shuts down. He begins to put the projector and screen away while talking.) I wasn‛t always in politics.

ARIADNE: Well, Harry my sweet, at least you‛re still honest. Say – can you program your dandy Dicto Devil here —

HARRY: Dandy Dicto Devil. I like that. As in the old Printer‛s Devil? Did all the tedious work? The Brewster Dandy Dicto Devil. Catchy. Before we lose total control I‛ll pass that on to Tom.

ARIADNE: From out of limbo.

HARRY: The darkest corner of. And just a suggestion, of course. Hands off, that‛s me.

ARIADNE: Since the Boss has it can you program it so it will accidentally find the Colonel?

HARRY : You mean drop an infidel atheist —

ARIADNE: Agnostic.

HARRY : — into the lap of a believer? Oh no. You‛re not leading me down that path. Besides, you‛re trespassing again.

ARIADNE: Sorry. (They bump fists) You‛re probably right. I doubt the Boss would agree with him. The Colonel led a one-man assault against the very idea of Hell.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) As long as the smallest coal is red in hell I am going to keep on.

HARRY: How can you lead a one-man assault?

ARIADNE: Hell isn‛t high on the agenda these days but since it is essential to the idea of Heaven and we seem to be fighting endless wars over – Say, I hope you‛re installing Dicto Devil in my laptop too?

HARRY: I told you, this is your laptop. You‛ve been using the search but now you‛ve got Dicto.

ARIADNE: You‛re sweet. (Blows Harry a little kiss of thanks, then – ) You know, the Colonel held audiences spellbound – paying audiences – more than a thousand at a time – all across the continent. Here in Canada, even. Toronto to Victoria. Would you believe it? In Victoria, the haven of tea, crumpets and British rectitude – he was barred by fire regulations. One exit short.

HARRY: So?

ARIADNE: So the crowd took an axe and a saw, hacked another doorway. I find it fascinating.

HARRY: Well, if he could gather big crowds you‛d have thought he might have gathered votes. Maybe he was nuts.

ARIADNE: I almost wish he had been.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) If the Bible had never existed it would have been far better for mankind

ARIADNE: Hon, surely you must understand that – that – well, as an ordained minister, and a – a –

HARRY: Woman. All woman. Trust me.

ARIADNE: Thanks for the endorsement.

HARRY: Any time.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) Its philosophy is frightful.

ARIADNE: When my professional roots are challenged I have to – to – well, at least think about it.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) If the Bible had never existed it would have been far better for mankind.

HARRY: Whatever it is you‛re thinking about, I understand the Boss is already nervous about you. What with this war escalating, confidence votes, Islamic phobia on the rise –

ARIADNE: On the rise! Islamic phobia! (Laughs) He encourages it every time he swears to protect us. (More serious) How about their Western phobia?

HARRY: Come again?

ARIADNE: Fear of us. Us. The West. Through the years we‛ve kept promoting fear in others with bombs, assassinations, embargoes, you name it.

HARRY We?

ARIADNE: To the East and mid-East are we not part of The West?

HARRY: When they shoot a war memorial guard and shoot up the Centre Block I draw the line!

ARIADNE: Yes, I agree. That‛s awful, just awful. But they, they, they. The guy was a criminal, a drug addict, he‛d been trying to get himself locked up, religion may have put him over the edge, yes indeed,, but “they, they they” – who says?

HARRY: The Boss says. And thanks for the demo. That‛s why he‛s nervous about you. Ady my Rev, I‛ve been wanting to mention that.

ARIADNE: I‛d never voice that outside here! Not with you in government. Not with our firewall.

HARRY: Even so, he‛s nervous. And being nervous about you can make him nervous about me. I understand he has plans for me.

ARIADNE: Plans?

HARRY: A possible route out of limbo.

ARIADNE: Cabinet? Oh my!

HARRY: I‛m not sure that gasp sounded enthusiastic.

ARIADNE: Nonsense. If you‛re enthusiastic then I‛m enthusiastic.

HARRY: Yes, cabinet. At least Minister of State. A good possibility.

ARIADNE: How do you know?

HARRY: Not important. Point is, it‛s bad timing to risk being shut out.

ARIADNE: And I‛m a risk?

HARRY: Things are escalating.

ARIADNE: Things?

HARRY: Well, you know, more fighters being sent over. Ground troops at the ready, and, well, with my technical background I‛ve got to step up. We‛re at war for the long haul. I‛m sure of it. And – and – well – like I said, we are selling the company. (Hesitant) In fact, Ady hon, it‛s – well, it‛s sold.

ARIADNE: And this – your latest baby – your most beloved gadget! Oh Harry.

HARRY: This beloved gadget is the heart and soul of the company, so yes, it‛s gone. The whole kit and kaboodle. Tom finalized it for us.

ARIADNE: Gone where?

HARRY : (Hedging) Let‛s just say into a high tech heaven for its just rewards. And those rewards mean that you, my darling Ady, can quit working – if you want.

INGERSOLL: What I do isn‛t just a job!

HARRY: If Tom has played our cards right, and I‛m sure he has, you can even set up that foundation you‛ve dreamt of. Not quit work, change work. How‛s that sound?

ARIADNE: Oh my – I‛d have to think about that.

HARRY : Well, as far as I‛m concerned, in the meantime keep a low profile while I get sorted out. I‛ve got to keep campaigning.

ARIADNE: For your seat or for cabinet?

HARRY: Well, you‛ve got to have a seat to get a head.

ARIADNE: I don‛t think you apply for cabinet.

HARRY: Too right. Appointed.

ARIADNE: By the Boss.

HARRY; Who else. And Chuck says –

ARIADNE: Chuck? Ah, your friend in the PMO?

HARRY : Yes.

ARIADNE: (Alarmed) Darling, is it all conditional on selling off –

HARRY : Brewster Electro? Not in so many words. Nothing on paper. But there are such things as perceived political encumbrances – and rewards.

ARIADNE: And your ownership of a booming little electronic superkid of a firm was an encumbrance?

HARRY : (Carefully) Well, Brewster Electro under new owners can help fight the war without me and I can help fight my war —

ARIADNE: Your war?

HARRY: (Hastily) The war — any war. More effective from inside the government. Really inside.

ARIADNE: So you do buy it?

HARRY: Buy what?

ARIADNE: The meme, the rote, the b.s. that we‛re in an ongoing war between civilizations?

HARRY: Well, I can tell you this, whatever it is, selective high tech war is a hell of a lot better than mass destruction. Which do you prefer? Lazer guided surgical strikes or Hiroshima bombs?

ARIADNE: (Suddenly angry) Either way, how great for business! Are you and Tom getting royalties?

HARRY: That‛s not fair.

ARIADNE: Are you?

HARRY: On patents, yes. Damn it all I didn‛t start the God damned war. And this one is not for oil or pipelines, it really is ideological.

ARIADNE: The main ideology is one of ongoing intentional ignorance. Harry Brewster, you‛ve got the smarts and the technology to fight that, not wage it. Is politics your best avenue? Your Party politics?

HARRY: (Holds both hands up, palms forward) Ouch, ouch!, the wall‛s getting hot.

ARIADNE: (Backing off) Sorry, sorry. Hon, it‛s your choice. Must be. Your career is your business, my career is mine.

HARRY: Agreed. Again.

ARIADNE: I‛ve never stood in your way.

HARRY: True.

ARIADNE: Hey, you‛ve been elected twice since we were married. I never interfered.

HARRY: No, but you didn‛t help, either. I know, I know. That was when you were only shepherding that sleepy congregation up home in Hackmatack.

ARIADNE: And both times I kept my nose clean. I kept out of politics.

HARRY: Until you answered the call from this gang down here in Ottawa.

ARIADNE: (Flaring again) That “gang” is a congregation – in a mainline church – a United Church. You were spending more time here than at home so I took a job here to be near my husband.

HARRY: I know, I know.

ARIADNE: A job that came with an apartment. Before, you‛d come home to the riding on weekends when I was the busiest on weekends.

HARRY : (Ruefully agreeing) Granted, that was a bitch.

ARIADNE: Now you have a house in Hackmatack and I have an apartment here. We both have careers and this, last time I looked, was the twenty first century. Your career took you away from home, mine let me bring my home to you. Where‛s the problem in all that?

HARRY: (Smilingly) In this Ottawa bubble that bit of iconoclastic feminism has made you high profile. (Cheerfully approving) And I must say you‛ve got the pitch down pat.

ARIADNE: (Laughs) Sure. We‛ve been doing the taxpayers and ourselves a favour.
.
HARRY : (Chuckles) Don‛t think that line hasn‛t registered on the Hill.

ARIADNE: This way we have had more time together and here you get free accommodation.

HARRY: (Lasciviously) Accomodating accommodation.

ARIADNE: Stop it. And I‛ve still kept out of politics.

HARRY: That may now be the problem..

ARIADNE: Our firewall, remember? That was your idea and I agreed. Wholeheartedly.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) The religious question should be left out of politics .

HARRY: The Boss likes couples to campaign as a team.

ARIADNE: Ah, family values.

HARRY: Something like that.

ARIADNE: First an election and then a promotion.

HARRY: Makes sense.

ARIADNE: But as a wife I‛ve proved to be dangerously independent by coming to a congregation here in Ottawa so that, without cost to the taxpayer, I can keep my husband closer to my bosom?

HARRY : (Teasing) Metaphorically and physically.

ARIADNE: (Laughing) Stop it.

HARRY: Darling, you‛re a living paradox and you make the Boss nervous.

ARIADNE: Nervous. About me?

HARRY: Well, you‛ve been pretty outspoken for gay rights, women‛s rights, Choice, you name it.

ARIADNE: I will name it. It‛s called Human Rights. Being for them doesn‛t make me political. Harry, was that hint of a charitable foundation a ploy to sidetrack me?

HARRY: Oh hey, Ady my Rev, be fair.

ARIADNE: I‛ve noticed that you‛ve developed a political urge for uncharacteristic devoutness. Uncharacteristic for you. More and more you invoke “God-given” rights and at some point in every speech. say “with God‛s help”.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) The crusade and prayer-meeting will not do in politics

ARIADNE: You‛ve begun to invoke God more than I do. Harry hon, you were elected because you‛re smart, compassionate, well liked, respected, and honest.

HARRY: Many thanks

ARIADNE: Did it ever occur to you that even in Hackmatack Falls it may have helped to have a non-campaigning mainline pastor for a loving wife? Maybe even in Hackmatack Falls our relationship, our love for each other, maybe that leavened the lump?

HARRY: Leavened the lump?

ARIADNE: The electorate‛s nervousness about the fundamentalist led Party that you chose to run for?

HARRY: Fundamentalist? The Party? Hey, hold the phone – You don‛t know that!

ARIADNE: I know the legislative record. I‛m just not sure of its source. But when I see PMO and cabinet roots going deep into the fundamentalist God-fearing Bible Belt I have to wonder.

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) The politician who thinks he‛s pleasing an imaginary phantom that he calls God, is dangerous.

ARIADNE: When I saw a creationist as a science advisor – well –

HARRY: Jesus Christ!

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) I often swear.

ARIADNE: Do be quiet.

HARRY : Quiet?

ARIADNE: Not you.

HARRY: (Alarmed) Ady, neither of us know. This is politically dangerous territory.

ARIADNE: Certainly we know. Thanks to you and your predecessors we can google our way to almost anything we really want to know. Your own new search engine is a wizard.

HARRY: You can‛t google motivation. And outside these walls you and I are not speculating.

ARIADNE: But we‛re within these walls. Our walls. You know and I know that the minute, the very minute to the day that your Party made it to power a really right wing southern spawned evangelical lobby group opened an office right across from Parliament Hill. I mentioned it at the time.

HARRY: I heard you.

ARIADNE: Didn‛t seem to bother you.

HARRY: It‛s a free country. And they weren‛t lobbying.

ARIADNE: You mean they didn‛t register as a lobby because – how did it go, their purpose was simply to preserve traditional values and the institution of the family –

HARRY: Yes. Sure. I know.

ARIADNE: Which, for them, meant being for the spanking of children and opposed to abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, including adoption, and so on and on and – for goodness sake, darling, a former president of the Canadian chapter of that outfit became the Boss‛s Director of Policy. Policy! Take a look at your Party‛s policy right from withholding Charity fundings through to unwavering support for Israel.

HARRY: Hold it! We‛re not going there. I can‛t afford to go there.

ARIADNE: We‛re at home! Inside our own walls! We go where we want!

HARRY : Where you want.

ARIADNE: Harry —

HARRY: The Policy Advisor is not —

ARIADNE: A previous one. It‛s all there on the Internet – if you search for it. Do you even know what church the Boss attends?

HARRY: Why should I?

ARIADNE: Because every crime has a motivation.

HARRY: Hold the phone!

ARIADNE: Sorry.

HARRY: You talking politics or religion? Define your territory.

ARIADNE: That‛s the whole point. In his case I can‛t. The Internet tells me that his church‛s statement of faith says that every word in the Bible is divinely inspired, Christ will physically come again, there will be Armageddon after which the true Christians will go to heaven, all others will go to hell. Tell me, is our government‛s foreign policy based on hopefully converting, thus saving, the Israelis? Or on encouraging Armageddon?

HARRY: Great God in Heaven!

ARIADNE: Darling, you and Tom have created one humdinger of a search engine and a dictation program. Why don‛t you use it. The Jihadis will love it.

HARRY: I know. That‛s why we‛ve been forced into selling it all. National Defence is analyzing it – they have it.

ARIADNE: Well in the meantime it‛s in my laptop and I‛m using it. And Marjorie is my secretary.

HARRY: (Trying to laugh it off) Well, thank God this is all within these walls. And, Ady my Rev, yes, you probably did help by just being you, and being there – back home – in Hackmatack and Oshkabong. Down here? On the Hill? I‛m not so sure. (Kisses her) Look, I must run. Play with the toys. Do your off-the-wall research

(He hands her the closed laptop)

ARIADNE: Off-the-wall! Thanks a bunch. So you are running again.

HARRY: (Puzzled) I didn‛t say that. I might not be allowed to if you carry on.

ARIADNE: (Laughing) You just said, and I quote, I must run. I heard you.

HARRY: (Laughing) You should be an Opposition spin doctor.

ARIADNE:. If you hadn‛t turned her off Marjorie here would have heard you too. So, Mister politician, be careful. Every word you speak can be used against you.

HARRY: Make sure it‛s not every word you speak. (Wrapping her in a hug) I know what I‛d like to use against you, but no time.

(They kiss. Harry is on his way off but Ariadne stops him by picking up the gift wrapped package that had been under the projector.)

ARIADNE: What‛s this? You forgetting something? There‛s no card.

HARRY : Oh damn. I meant to give it to you – proper like. It‛s for you. Your anniversary.

ARIADNE: It‛s not my birthday.

HARRY : Your anniversary. Fifteen years ago today – you were ordained.

ARIADNE: You are a sweetheart. (Kisses him on the cheek) You‛re also an idiot. It was fifteen years ago, yes, and the day is right, yes, but next month. (Kisses him on the other cheek) Tell you what, I won‛t open it until a month today.

HARRY: Done. (Laughs) Marjorie there should have told me. Okay hon, hang onto it. And keep that evening clear. Dinner. Theatre. A little nooky?

ARIADNE: (Pleased) Dinner, theatre and a little nooky. (Teasing) Sound like good family values. Okay with the boss?

HARRY: I wasn‛t planning a threesome.

ARIADNE: May it ever be so.

HARRY: Amen to that. And stop worrying. You‛ll have a breakdown.

(Harry exits. Ariadne stands a moment staring after him)

INGERSOLL: (Voice Over) The probability is that we are all mistaken about almost everything.

ARIADNE: Oh hush up.  (She picks up the parcel and her laptop.)

(Light fades to black. Sound: Gentle musical transition. Small bells or harp playing a few bars of St. Anne, the tune for “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past”.)

 

Act 1, Sc.1: c 30 min

The Radicalization of Ariadne Copyright © Munroe Scott All rights reserved.

To Be Continued 

 Although The Radicalization of Ariadne draws some inspiration from actual places, events and people it is nevertheless a work of fiction.

Remember.  The purpose of a workshop is for feedback.  Don’t be inhibited.

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“And now for something completely different.”

No, I am not going to try to emulate Monty Python but this may turn out to be equally, if unintentionally, off-the-wall. Not because I intend to write about religion, politics, radicalization and on-going war but because I intend to conduct an experiment in theatrical play development that involves those topics.

The experimental part lies in the fact that I have completed a script for a full length two-act stage play called, The Radicalization of Ariadne, and now intend to workshop it, serially, on this my blog.

For many of us the word “workshop” invokes the smell of sawdust and wood chips but of course in theatre a workshop is a bare bones presentation of an idea inviting feedback from observers. You may or may not wish to journey along – playscripts are not easy to read and are best read aloud, even to oneself – but at least hang in there for the synopsis of the story, which is as follows:

The Radicalization of Ariadne
A play in two acts for four actors
by
Munroe Scott

Ariadne Brookfield and Harry Brewster were teenage sweethearts who eventually married, very happily, but continued on their own career paths. Ariadne became an ordained minister in a mainline Protestant denomination and is now pastor of a congregation in Ottawa. Harry, an entrepreneurial IT expert and business man, ran for Parliament and is now a backbencher in a right-of-centre government during a time of ongoing religion-tainted war. To protect their mutual love and respect they had previously built a domestic firewall between religion and politics. When Ariadne, using a powerful Internet search engine created by Harry, stumbles upon the once famous 19th century Orator/Atheist Col. Robert G. Ingersoll, the firewall begins to crumble and her perceived “radicalization” puts their careers, goals, and marriage in jeopardy.

Copyright © Munroe Scott

It is worth noting that the content of The Radicalization of Ariadne – and even the title itself – has evolved over several years through a process that involved two free open-audience workshop readings by one actor in Toronto‛s West Hill United Church, an actual performance by three actors for a paying audience in a studio production staged by Showplace Peterborough, and a subsequent workshop reading by four actors for a select invited audience conducted in the same studio under the same generous auspices. After all that, it was again revised to its current “completed” stage – although in reality no playscript is ever completed, hence this ongoing experimental workshop via blog.

It is my intention to present the script one or two scenes at a time in five installments ( not counting this) a few days apart. This, of course, is an unusual workshop in that comments may be posted after any section. (Even at this introductory stage, “Go for it!” would be encouraging; “Shove it!” would be instructive.)  But the whole purpose of a workshop is to glean uninhibited reaction to the play as a whole and, in this case, even to portions thereof.   There is no such thing as a reaction being right or wrong.    A participant who buries natural inhibitions and who comments honestly, even if caustically,  is making an important contribution to the theatrical process.  A writer who submits to a workshop is hoping for affirmation but is stimulated by criticism.  And, like theatre itself, the more open the workshop, the more uninhibited, the more honest the reactions — the more fun.

The first posting will be unavoidably long, comprising Act 1, Sc 1, but alas, chopping it up would not work.  Think of it as the pilot for what is to follow.  In any event, whether you choose to be an observer or a participant, welcome to the upcoming workshop.  Or, if you are not into theatre but have a friend who is, well, shucks, forward this item. And thanks. Newcomers may wish to make use of the “Get posts via e-mail” box at the top right hand corner.

By the way, I should emphasize that although The Radicalization of Ariadne draws some inspiration from actual places, events and people it is nevertheless a work of creative fiction.

Watch for The Radicalization of Ariadne, Act 1, Sc. 1

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