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.
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 –
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
(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.