BOXING PANDORA: A Quadratic Unraveling
written and directed by blake more
video by cybirk
Original video, multimedia, specialized lighting effects, live music (including drums, saxophone, fiddle, keyboards, shakers, gongs, and a conch shell), a 13 member Greek-style chorus, dance, a trapeze and audience participation move the drama and weave odd magic into this mythical search for self-expression and self-determination. The story unfolds as the girl butts against the perimeters of "the Box", leaving her no choice but to interpret her confinement, which she does through the lens of family, television, politics, and metaphysics. As she gathers courage, she breaks free, only to face another box---and another, and another. Will the orb-loving Diaphanous One save her, or will she be relegated to box-life forever?
Mom: represents Middle America; an amalgamation of stereotypes; controlling, nurturing, demanding, frustrated, fearful, ultimately boxing;
[costume: a montage of images: heavily made up, dressed in sexy lingerie, apron and a career woman blazer, high heel shoes, curlers in her hair, granny glasses, embroidery hoop]
Dad: also represents Middle America; the typical distant father, bit into the dream and now swallowing the bitterness; also an amalgamation of stereotypes; bored, overworked, boiling, confused, sexist, ridiculing
[costume: a montage of images: checkerboard business suit, pants on one side, boxers on other, blue button down on one side with suit vest and red tie, wife beater T-shirt on the other, baseball cap, work boots, holding a briefcase, beer, remote control, sports illustrated with playboy behind it]
Daughter: in video, a normal little girl, innocence, vivacious, excited, and slowly becoming more distant from her true self; performance, she emerges confused, insecure, then finds her ego as it is wrapped up in her culture, eventually finds her "wings".
Chorus/Musicians: dressed in outrageous, but thematic toga costumes (sheets, dyed in solid colors and tie-dyed at the bottom, representing the rainbow of colors); chorus members interpret, interrupt, interject, add information; their role represents the joining of Greek symbology with pop culture, sort of like Zeus meets the Monkeys; members sing, chant, play instruments, and emote in eerie, farcical tones and punctuated with strange gestures and behaviors, sometimes verbalized together, sometimes individually; eventually instigate audience participation
[see script for chorus members marked "open"]
The Diaphanous One: she is angelic voice, offering the poetry of reason; her repeating presence ties in the initial allegory with the rest of the drama, thus she always repeats the same line. She carries a high, clear tone.
Robotecha Illumen: the demonic dancer, represents industrial culture, the mechanization of humanity
Pan: Father character transformed, nude, hairy, wearing a phallic gourd
SWENDIG SCORE (on CD)
[live song:"Little Boxes", chorus]
[live sound, "Censor Beeps", tech]
[live sound, "anthem solo"]
[live sound, "Patriot Samba", musicians/chorus]
ALMOST ZERO---READYING THE BOX
music: leftover from Swendig CD--Sands of Time
chorus: mills across the stage, father and mother take position on the couch, two chorus members create distraction/cover as daughter sneaks into the TV; everyone but father and mother leave the set, lining up in their respective places on each side of the stage
lights: blue to blackout
music: begin with Swendig Score "Diaphanous Tease", track 1, then fade to voice-over only; this is a bigger than life sound, almost omnipotent, delivered in a fairy tale-ish tone to set the mood and stage:]
Chorus: Enter from each side, coinciding with pit positions
[Lights: to blackout]
Swendig Score: ["Diaphanous Tease" to "Voice of Orbation", track 1]
Voice: Once upon a time, the sky was fenced by a box. Modeled after the great boxes of antiquity, it was a warm, expansive box made of capillary metaphors and socially acceptable carbons. Like the lesser boxes of its time, it had four walls, a bottom, a lid. Yet, this box was special because it was crafted so masterfully that it had no visible seams. Seven colors shone within it, and their variations created the spectrum of all recognizable drama.
Microscopically immense, it framed the existence of its inhabitants---a civilization anthropologists later named "box people" or, more formally, "citizens of the box." This odd and angular race of humans were born square and they would die square, just as all who had come before them. But they were loyal to their box. They loved and hated in it, felt safe and terrorized by it, even used it to gain disproportionate wealth and status. All agreed that box had its inconveniences, but these were generally considered the price box people had to pay. Yes, regardless of its limitations, the box was home, a quadratic paradise, a place to raise children and bury dead, a place to fuck and write, envision shopping malls, craft great myths while diluting cheese puffs with carbonated corn syrup.
And, since the builders of this box believed in its sacred dimensions, box citizens of ordinary status were not allowed to question box logic, nor were they permitted to attempt any box building of their own. If they did, they were cast into smaller boxes for the rest of eternity; this punishment served a duel purpose for the box leaders, since not only did the state sanctioned smaller boxes immobilize any box heretics, but it gave ordinary box citizens a chance to feel spatially superior. As would be expected, children of the box people suffered the most.
But every once in a while, the night would grow so long, that the box would thin and a magic window would appear outside the boxócreating an opening for escape. Staring past the pervious walls, a desperate, often scandalously orbacious citizen might notice the un-partitioned sky eating the moon and swallowing each piece back into a circle. Then, seizing this fleeting glimpse of cubelessness, she might become willing to risk the greater sky and stretch herself through the blinds, plummeting recklessly into the unknown (reverb).
music: video sound, David Byrneís "Back In The Box"
[Lights---off for video]
Video: video screen comes on; first with montages of 70s sitcoms, news clips, fast, surreal, styled like an EBN broadcast; then cut to home video, possibly of my first birthday party; cut it with then images of squares and boxes we see every day (refrigerators, cars, windows, etc.) to wrapped presents and empty cardboard boxes (laying in an open field, stacked in groups, to hundreds of them crammed into the recycle dumpster at the pier); fade to mom and dad on ratty orange (the theater set); Dad and Mom speaking to each other and to their 12 year old daughter; at first Mom talks at Dad, then at daughter, switching back and forth; Dad generally ignores them both until conversation turns to sex; as the scene continues, the girl begins to pick up square pieces of cardboard and suggest the construction of a box around herself (resting one on her shoulder, another on her other shoulder, one on top of her head, and so on; rearranging them, trying to determine how the pieces fit together); video ends with live mix to the live stage drama (same scene except without daughter)
[Set in the stage living room; all are quiet, mother is sewing, father is reading a Sports Illustrated magazine; the daughter is on the floor playing with cardboard box pieces].
Mom: [working to break the silence, sweet, frustrated, passive aggressive anger, stabbing at the balance of power] Honey, did the Mathesonís really get 250 thousand dollars for their house?
Dad: [barely looking over his magazine, shrugs]
Mom: Iíll bet they didnít pay more than 30 thousand for that house, same as us?
Dad: [curtly] so
Mom: [sighs] I guess Frank knew what he was doing when they bought into Clarion Estates; we should have done that. Iíll bet our house would be worth at least that much now.
Dad: [ignores her, turns the page]
Mom: [jabbing a little harder] 250 thousand [sighs again], that would be a lot of money, donít you think?
Dad: [still reading, motionless, as if not in the room, when mom looks down, tries to turn her off with the remote, exasperated] Yeah, right, whatever.
Mom: Imagine what we could do with that kind of money; [dreamily yet with a stringent, stinging tone] I guess we could go out more as a family; we could even put in a swimming pool; Iíd be able to get a manicure and a pedicure every week...
Daughter: And I could have a horse.
Mom: Youíd have to prove you are responsible enough to take care of a horse. How many times do I have to remind you to feed the cat and make your bed? Plenty. No, I donít think you are ready for a horse.
Daughter: If I had a horse, I would be so happy Iíd never forget a single chore. [grabs a piece of cardboard and rests it on her shoulder---nobody notices]
Mom Yeah, and if I had a million dollars, Iíd hire somebody else to cook.
Dad: [from behind his magazine, impatient, exasperated] Whenís dinner?
Dad: [spoiled, demanding, as if barking an order to a Dennyís waitress] I want fried spam and baked beans.
Mom I just made that last night. Tonight, weíre having cheeseburger pie.
Daughter: Good, I love cheeseburger pie.
Mom: Yeah, and if you keep eating three pieces of it, youíll blow up like a balloon. You are getting older now, pretty soon, your metabolism will slow down and you wonít be able to get away with a bowl of ice cream every night. Do you want to look like Aunt Harriet? We have the obesity gene, you know, so you will have to watch everything you eat, or youíll end up like the rest of us, [grabs her thigh] Thunder Thighs.
Daughter: But Iím still growing mom.
Mom: [sarcastically] Sweetie, you want to be growing up, not out.
Daughter: [barely audible] The boys in my class donít seem to mind. [Picks up another piece of cardboard, places it on the other shoulder]
Dad: [perks up at this comment, stares at daughter, then resumes reading]
Mom: [ignoring daughterís comment] And since weíre on the subject, Iíve been wanting to talk to you about how you and your little friends have been borrowing each otherís clothes.
Dad: [looks up, again, smiles uncomfortably, looks down]
Daughter: Mom, weíre just having fun.
Mom: I donít care. Theyíre inappropriate. Some parents may let their kids look like street walkers, but not me. My mother would never have let me show my belly button in public. Itís gross.
Dad: [looks up this time and begins to watch them through narrow, salacious eyes; interested now that the conversation has become of a more sexual nature, comment is lascivious] I donít think itís gross.
Daughter: Thanks dad [runs over and gives him a hug].
Dad: [scared to hug her, uncomfortable with how much he likes it, pats her, pulls away, mumbles something]
Mom: Look at her. She looks like cheap. Cheap and tacky.
Dad: [lasciviously] I donít think she looks cheap.
Mom: You wouldnít. Thatís what reading playboy magazine does to you.
Dad: You. You used to look like a pin up.
Mom: And you used to have a promising career.
Daughter: [picks up another piece of cardboard, places it over her face,] [faintly] Iím hungry.
TWO---ITS A SMALL BOX
lights: normal stage
music: none in beginning; end with Swendig Score: "Gong Fight", track 2
set: mother, father, daughter [in the box]
[lights: on stage]
[just as the image ended on the video, the mom and dad on the screen are now on the stage couch, dressed in the same outfits, speaking to the TV box; at first they appear to be opinionated viewers, but as the dialogue progresses, it becomes apparent that they are speaking to the box itself; the daughter is hiding in the box]
Mom: [to box] I donít think you apply yourself in math.
Dad: [to box] When I was your age, I was doing high school algebra.
Mom: Yes, but it doesnít seem to be doing her much good now does it.
Dad: What about you, how well did you do in algebra? Iíll bet they didnít even teach it in your backwater school. Or if they did, your teacher gave you formulas to figure out how many rusted out wrecks were in the backyard.
Mom: As a matter of fact, Mr. Road Scholar, we did have algebra and I was in the top 5 of my class. I was the teacherís pet.
Dad: [mimic "I was the teachers pet", then in a sarcastic, smart ass tone] A plus S squared equals hole.
Mom: [to box] Dear, you really need a math tutor.
Dad: [bitching at her] Math tutor! How are we supposed to send her to college if we spend all our money before she even gets there.
Mom: [to box] We could call Melissa down the street. She wears glasses and doesnít have many friends, so she must be smart.
Dad: [ridiculing and annoyed] But, you wear glasses and donít have many friends [implying "and youíre an idiot"]
Mom: [still to box] Just a little extra instruction after school, Iím sure itíll be all you need to keep your grade point average up. Nowís when straight Aís are most important. Theyíll make or break your future.
Dad: [growing angrier] Maybe if you stopped taking her to the mall every weekend, sheíd have more time to study.
Mom: Maybe if youíd play less golf weíd have something else to do.
Dad: [shrugs and seethes, but wonít take the bait]
Mom: When is the last time we did something as a family?
Dad: [fed up and anger explodes] Maybe we could go to a math resort.
[Box begins to move]
Mom: [to box] Youíre lucky itís not the 1950s, like when I was in school. In those days, nobody told young girls that they could do anything they wanted, like they do now. Our only options were to become a housewife, a teacher, or a nurse. My mom wanted me to marry a rich man, but I wanted to be a nurse. Then you came along. If I had your options today, I would be a lawyer.
Dad: Yeah, right, so you could prosecute me for rescuing you from all those smelly bedpans and wheezing geezers grabbing at your fucking tits while you fed them Jell-O.
Mom: [to box] Do you realize how lucky you are to have so many choices now. You wonít ever have to marry someone like your father. With brains, youíll be free.
[box moves again, now starts steadily moving]
Mom: Whatís the matter? Are you hungry? Why donít you have a frosted animal cookie. [picks up a cookie tin] There your favorite. Motherís.
Dad: Whenís dinner?
Mom: Oh my God. Look at her dear, I think somethingís wrong.
Dad: [accusing, fed up] Youíve been watching too many soap operas. Sheís fine. Sheís just tired of listening to all your People Magazine crap.
Mom: At least I have ambition.
[the parents pause to watch the box move]
Mom: Bill, really, I donít think sheís well. Iíve never seen her this way before. Sweetie [stands up and places her hands on the box], are you feeling okay?
[the box stops moving]
Mom: [talking down to the box] Honey, darling pumpkin is there something I can do? Do you need your asthma medicine? Some Pepto Bismal? A Band-Aid?
Dad: [seeing momís action as a ridiculous and stupid hypochondriac] You baby her. Leave her alone, sheíll figure it out. Just like the rest of us. I think you make her sick with all your worrying. Trips to the doctor for everything. A shot for this, a pill for that. Mother raised me without one pill, I donít see why she needs so many.
Mom: [walks away from the box, toward the father] You know what the doctor said. This isnít helping her. [said quietly so the box isnít supposed to hear] We arenít supposed to discuss her condition in front of her. I just makes it worse.
[box begins to shake again]
Father: What condition. She doesnít have a condition. Sheís only thirteen, for fucksake!
Mom: [beginning to get hysterical, runs back toward the box] Baby, baby, let me help you. Tell me what to do. Iíll do anything.
Daughter: [from inside the box] Leave me alone.
Mom: What...Bill...Did you hear that?
Father: [ridiculing] Hear what?
Mom: What she said. I think she said "get me a phone." [becoming manic] You know how teenage girls are, they always want to talk to their friends. [speaks directly into the box] Okay honey, weíll get you a phone.
Father: [showing excitement for the first time] We can give her our old answering machine. I just picked up a new one, digital with a cordless remote phone...gigahertz. [getting into his own world] clearest transmission possible, up to 5 blocks. Hell, I could be in dickís garage drinking beer and still talk; my neighborhood cell.
Mom: There is no way my daughter is going to have an answering machine; sheís not some call girl who canít miss a John. (walks to Bill)
Daughter: Leave me alone.
Father: [ridiculing, still kind of in the answering machine spell] A john? Since when did you join the moral minority?
Mom: Majority. Honey, you can have a phone, but you are too young for an answering machine.
Daughter: Leave me alone.
Mom: You want an ice cream cone? How about a frozen yogurt in a cup? Remember, honey, yogurt has less calories, less fat. It is much better for your figure. Why donít we drive to the yogurt station in the Safeway Plaza.
Dad: [says nothing, picks up Sports Illustrated and begins reading]
Daughter: [cries out] Please, please.
Mom: Whatës the matter dear. Iím trying to help you. Canít you see that. I love you.
Daughter: I know.
Mom: Then what is your problem? Why wonít you communicate with us? Why wonít you eat?
Daughter: [breaks through the screen in a single punch of power]
Mom: Oh my God. Bill, help me. Iíve never seen her like this before. [father ignores her, still reading] Bill [growing louder and louder until sheís screeching, campy, like a horror movie], Bill, Bill, Bill, Help me. Sheís not herself. Sheís possessed. Bill. Oh my God, Bill, sheís...honey, my little girl [almost whimpering], itís okay. Youíll be all right. You just need some chicken soup, something to settle your nerves, a new outfit, [getting more and more outlandish and hysterical]; letís rent a video. Iíll take care of you. Iíll protect you..what video do you want to see? How about Ghost, you love that one. I can help you...just tell me what to do. I can..
Dad: [says nothing during this exchange, watches his wife incomprehensibly, shakes his head and exits stage center as mom says "a new outfit", walks down the stairs, in his own, emotionless world, then disappears into the chorus]
Swendig Score: ["Gong Fight", track 2]
[Light: red gels]
screen: video of fire, burning boxes, car driving through pyramid of burning boxes, etc.
music: Swendig Score "Gongs A Way" (track 3), low chanting by
chorus, (possibly other musical insertions as per musician discretion, such as live
drums, bells, rattles, shakers, a light, supernatural percussion sound).
Swendig Score: ["Gongs A Way", track 2 continued]
Mother/Daughter: [dance begins as daughter waves strips of red cloth outside the box; metaphor for the assertion of her independence. Initially, mom is also part of the dance, and her movements are centered in trying to put the daughter back into the box; it is a push and pull dance between the two, as the mother keeps trying to return the screen on the box; finally, the daughter fully asserts herself and the mother runs screaming off the stage, following the father down into the chorus.]
Daughter: [solo dance begins. She spills out of the box, wrapped in a blood red sheet; eventually to unwind the cloth and reveal a nude leotard. It is a primal dance reflecting a realization of skin, the return of open air, like a chick from the shell, oozing, crawling, grasping this new space; suddenly finding herself without boundaries, struggling to determine where she ends and the other begins.]
Chorus: [upon first gong insertion in "Gongs A Way" sitar portion (single gong toward middle of song. 3.00 on CD) chorus begins a low, guttural chant; this provides daughter with her first awareness of separate identity. At second gong insertion (double gong, 3/4ths of the way through the song, 3.47 on CD), the chorus gets up and slowly shuffles clockwise in a large rectangle around the orchestra pit, their chants becoming parental commandments delivered in same guttural fashion:]
Chorus 1: Clean up your room
Chorus 2: Because I said so
Chorus 3: Your face will freeze like that.
Chorus 4: Do as I say, not as I do.
Chorus 5: If you donít stop crying, Iím going to spank you.
Chorus 6: Do the dishes.
Chorus 7: Donít get smart with me
Chorus 8: Children should be seen and not heard
Chorus 9: Be polite
Chorus 10: Close the door behind you
Chorus 11: I am the boss of you
Chorus 12: Life isnít fair
Chorus 13: what do you say?
Chorus: [as "Gongs A Way" ends the chorusís commandments become more energetic; half of the group breaks away and begins to make a counterclockwise circle around the audience, the other half picks up the pace and continues to move around the orchestra pit rectangle. At this point chorus members become more outrageous and confrontational, pointing, demanding, silly; the idea is for the words to become a parody of things parents say, but more surreal and campy, playing on the circus huckster/strip joint barker vibe; an by end of the act, chorus members are pacing across the orchestra pit shouting, singing, emoting slogans.]
Daughter: [as the chorusís intensity level increases, daughter slumps down on the floor, reaches out toward audience, goes unconscious]
Swendig Score: [pause for a count of 10] then, "Egg Timer", track 3]
Chorus: [upon hearing the egg timer, the chorus lines up in a single line in the orchestra pit, facing the audience, pointing, making faces, over-the-top intensity as they continue to shout their commandments.]
Swendig Score: ["Diaphanous Tease short", track 4]---[Lights go blue]
Chorus: [stops in mid shout, notice the music, slink carefully, silently back into their places in the pit)
The Diaphanous One: [sings in a high, angelic voice] The sky eats the moon, swallows each piece back into a circle [she enters from stage right, delivers at center stage, crosses to stage left, as three chorus members point floating lasers at her as she walks]
FOUR---TV IS WE
lights: stage on (something evoking TV land)
screen: commercial, high glam household images delivered through a montage
of TV out-takes, commercials and home video; also dump footage of frig land (lingerie shots), mom dressed in mu mu in designer kitchen, in front of TV, putting things into washers and dryers, dishwashers, showering in square stalls, opening boxed food, etc.); in the distant background, the sounds of household appliances, TV, blenders, washing machines, packaging ripping open, etc.)
audio: begins with video Score: "TV Theme songs"; then when video sound goes silent, chorus launches into "Little Boxes"
[VIDEO ON/VIDEO SOUND]
Chorus: [sing "Little Boxes" by Malvena Reynolds, with Stefan on fiddle, others on guitar, drums]
[Daughter approaches the audience and tries to speak; she opens her mouth, but cannot find her voice; she is scared but determined. Then she notices the discarded screen, picks it up and places it in front of her face, like a TV screen. This gives her courage and enough of a boundary to address the audience. Motivation is that her familiarity and conditioning makes it easier for her put herself into another box, except now, on some level she is controlling the box, and it has much more room that the one her parents put her in; once she finds her talking head, she empowers herself by copying the examples of Hollywood and proceeds to metaphorically spread herself out on the casting/therapists couch]
Chorus: [improving responses, questions, opinions, interpretations, encouragement throughout daughterís monologue]
Daughter: See. Me.. TV. Weeeeeeeee. Look at me; Iím on TV. Look how big my face is. Iím young and Iím restless. You wouldnít believe how long itís taken me to get here. Iíve dreamed about it since I first meet Laura Ingles and saw Snoopy coming home. Where are the Brady boys? Greg. Peter. Iím here. Are you watching me? Greg? Sweetie. Peter. Bobby? Iím famous now, they should hear me. Hey guys, Iím one of you. A celluvoid. Iím two-D. Flat. Technicolor. Iíve got tracking, horizontal adjustments, rabbit ears. They must be having another reunion.
[to audience] Do I really look heavier like they say? My face rounder? God, Iíd die if I looked like Rosie.
[becoming self-conscious, almost timid] Can you hear me? Iíve never been on TV before, it is different than I thought. Iím nervous; I guess I should tell a joke, but Iím not very good at remembering jokes, but I did just hear one the other day. Sshould I try? Okay. Two guys, were...I mean...can I start again. [pause for affirmation] Two stoners were heading toward San Francisco, one saw a sign that said San Francisco left. So they turned around and went home[encouraged by the laughter] Syndication, here I come.
Hey David Letterman, Jay Leno, Larry King, Regis, Montel, [sighs] Johnny. I can sing like Karen Carpenter. Act like Madonna. Dance like [pauses to think] Marie. [almost chanting, androidesque] And Iím free. You should interview me. Iíve got someone special to be.
Chorus 1: The casting/Therapists Couch
Daughter: [pause, laying down on the couch, on the casting/therapists couch, as if talking to a casting agent] Oh, you want to see my resume. Sure. [pause] Oh, yes, Iíve starred in plenty of dramas...which ones? lets see...
Well, I was on location in 6th grade, I got corralled on the edge of the playground by eleven girls, they spit on me, hit me, ground grass into my hair, said I had to start wearing dresses, washing my hair...I was laying there helpless, waiting for the bell to ring when Elf Enis came running up to save me, brought the whole flag football team with him. And the story has an even happier ending cause he gave me a glass ring and by the next school year, I became a cheerleader too [pick up pom poms].
You donít think Scorsese would go for it. No, no, theyíre real. [grabbing breasts] True, they could be bigger...but I donít think theyíre...I guess so, if all the other actresses in Hollywood are doing it. Is there a doctor you recommend? When was my first sex scene? God, I donít know, no, no, of course I understand why itís necessary. Yes, my career is important to me...it was just so long ago, itís hard for me to remember...let me think...well, I recall my crib and my dadís han....oh, youíre not interested in those kinds of sex scenes...you want something later, more marketable. I see you want me prime time.
Iím sorry, but there hasnít been much in the way of shoot outs, explosions and murder. [hopeful] An alien encounter though...blue penetrating light, full body paralazation, some skinny, big eyed alien guys hovering over my bed. No? Too Strieberesque? Yes, I understand. Yes, Iíve mostly done independent films, low budgetm, but they were blockbusters in their own way. I know, I got in a car chase once; me and my girlfriend stole her parentís station wagon...yeah, one of the girls who threw grass in my hair. We were fourteen. Cheerleaders[pulls out pom poms and waves them, then gets embarassed]...we scored a bottle of Boons Farm each. We started curb hopping, then we picked up this younger guy and were driving along this canyon when this cop started chasing...wait, Iím not done. What, you think my storyís a rip off of Thema and Louise?, but, it was 1979.
More pathos...plenty of pathos. Hereís one: my best friendís mom, my only gay friend, and my aunt all killed themselves just before my thirteenth birthday. Not enough grit? Too sappy? Sure, I understand...more sex, more gossip. I have that...
Swendig Score: "Telephone Ring", track 5
Daughter: [looks forlorn, thinks sheís losing her chance pause, then she perks up] What? Ellen canceled. Cher canít make it. David wants me to fill in tonight? [to audience] Oh my god. I am going to be on the David Letterman show. What will I wear [tries on different black dresses, chooses the sequined one]. What will we talk about? What should I call him. [practices] How ya doin david; whatís up Dave. David, Dave. [deep breath] here goes.
[runs to the edge of the stage, with stairs in the middle, sits across from chorus member wearing David Letterman mask; daughterís character is becoming slicker, cooler, less innocent]
[spotlight on daughter and "David Letterman" at edge of stage]
Yeah Dave. What a trip that was, being put in a box; did you get a load of my parents, imagine having to deal with kooks like that your whole life, it is no wonder I donít remember much about my childhood. Really, I have to say thanks to you and all the networks, cause it was television that saved me. People like Keith Partridge, Jeannie, Edith, Lou, the Cullegon man, they were my friends. People I could trust. They were there every day for me. You know what I mean Dave? They looked into my eyes. I guess my only complaint is that they didnít listen as good as they could have, didnít care about my fears and hopes the way I cared about theirs. But they gave me a break from my life, an after school vacation, especially once Iíd saved up enough allowance to buy a black and white for my room. And now, sitting here on your show, its all worth it; my fantasy has become my reality.
But you know, Dave. it is still kinda tough for me even though Iím out of that tiny box. I donít know if you caught the event footage, but at first it was really scary. I mean, I was totally exposed, formless, ripped from belief and boundary. Itís pretty embarrassing to think about it now, but at the time, all I could do was ooze. Metaphorically speaking, my plane had crashed into deep sea and I was hanging on to a pull down dinner tray trying to open a bag of peanuts, honey roasted.
I was sprawled out on the ground, when all of a sudden a bunch of voices crowded in on me, started pressing words against me, the words my parents raised me on. God, it was horrible. My life flamed before my eyes, and it was then that I had a vision of you guys. Or at least a vision that made me think of you guys, thought maybe you or Fox might be interested in producing it
[pauses to get go ahead from chorus, then under her breath] should I do it? [chorus answers yes]
You ever heard of Pandora, Dave?
All Chorus: [makes a strange, eirie sound, like contacting an aroused spirit]
Daughter: [pause...some strange sound from the chorus] Right she was the bad seed with the bad box, an forerunner to Eve. You might not believe me, but I think I saw Pandora when I was coming out of the box back there. She was hanging out by Prometheusís fire, hair twisted into a gibbous moon, wearing a sheer slip dress, orange silk gloves, barefoot. At first, I thought she was an angel, not because she was beautiful, but because she was so present, so real. She told me her name, said it like I should know it. I had to tell her that Iíd never heard of her, but she didnít seem offended. She said most people donít remember her...even those who think they do. She took my hand and carried me across the sky, telling me about her womb and how some Greek guy rewrote history and turned it into a box, used Zeus to do it. She looked directly into me and said sheíd been punished for her vital blood, for the mysterious power it brought her. Practically overnight, she went from the giver of all to the source of all human woe and sorrow. Hers was an incredible story all right, but what I remember most, Dave, was that she had this amazing attitude for someone who had been so wronged. I asked her about it, and she said her strength came from her hope [pause] that people would eventually find out the truth. [daughter freezes behind the screen, set]
Swendig Score: "Das Machinezen, short version", track 6
Chorus: [one by one, in rapid succession, chorus members run up the stairs and onto the stage, where they deliver their ad slogans and run back down again; idea is that they are the commercial break; some chorus members leave the stage and run out into the audience to deliver their slogans more directly to audience members; order is determined by chair position/determined at practice]
Chorus 4: BassOmatic, it pulverizes, it slices
Chorus 5: A great hobby for dad.
Chorus 7: Tested on Bunnies
Chorus 8: You havenít seen it, youíve got to see it
Chorus 2: All the things you didnít know you wanted
Chorus 9: Mikey hates it.
Chorus 6: We spend your money so you donít have to
Chorus 1: Better loving through chemistry
Chorus 10: All natural, chemically infused, fresh frozen toastie-Os.
Chorus 12: Just pop them in your mouth
Chorus 2: People do
Chorus 13: why meditate, when you can medicate
Censor: bleeeeep, bleeeeeep, bleeeeep [live sound, "Censor Beeps", tech]
Daughter: [unfreezing] Whatís going on? Dave, Dave, am I being censored?
Chorus: [comes in again, briefly]
Chorus 4: BassOmatic, it pulverizes, it slices
Chorus 5: A great hobby for dad.
Chorus 7: Tested on Bunnies
Chorus 8: You havenít seen it, youíve got to see it
Censor: bleeeeep, bleeeeeep, bleeeeep [live sound, "Censor Beeps", tech]
Daughter: No, donít tell me...Dave...I canít believe it. I am being censored...itís rigged. Where am I anyway? Itís not a womb, itís a box. Another box, not a womb, a box. How do I get out of here? Help me. Someone?[barely audible]I see...me...TV...[collapses at foot of TV]
Swendig Score: ["Diaphanous Tease short", track 7]---[flood of blue light]
The Diaphanous One: [sings in a high, angelic voice] The sky eats the moon, swallows each piece back into a circle.[she enters from stage right, delivers at center stage, crosses to stage left, as three chorus members point floating lasers at her as she walks]
[brief strobe, to black]
lights: initially begin with film, so stage lights off; move to spot on Robotecha after
big screen: video on
small screens: nightly news clips, what our culture thinks is worthy of telling us
(including politicians, sports, plane crashes, war images, etc.); city sounds as
background sound (horns honking, motors, traffic, sirens, heavy machinery, etc)
music: Swendig Score, "Das Machinezin"; followed by anthem sax solo, and chorus
white bread salsa band sound [riff montage of my Star Spangled Banner, My
country tis of thee in Samba C, ending with Tequilla]
chorus: Chorus continues its antics, involving larger groups of audience members,
[lights set for film viewing]
Swendig Score: "Das Machinezen", long version, track 8;
[Robetecha ILLumen dressed in Urban machine style, dances with hand held lights toward end of film; daughter swings on trapeze; chorus members play music, some dance with each other in the isles, some of the audience plants get up and dance as well.]
[spot on the flag, the right and left hand of the pit, and set toward the audience]
Daughter: [now without a personal screen, daughter climbs up on the trapeze and swings as film plays, Robotecha dances, and chorus members jam. She is continuing her search for herself among others, looks up at the flag, back down at the audience, wanting to trust but uncertain as to whether she should; finally, out of her honest need to belong, she climbs down and walks behind the flag, climbs up on a stool, and pushes her fist through at head level, opening a window through which she can speak]
Daughter: [with a rhetorical twang] Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow international Statsians, Denizens, Citizens of this Grand United Nation, Here I am. Here. Standing before you on our shared multilateral platform, on the choicest cut of dirt on this whole Planet Earth. Reach down. Canít you just feel it through the concrete?. Yes, we are lucky to have such freedom. To be living participants of this frontier of human existence. I hope all of you, from the golden parachuted executive to the street busker, count yourself among the planet movers, the trend setters, you and me, we whose perimeter provides the boundary for all of humankind. We are living on the ledge of this new world order.
You ever stop to ask yourself what it took for this homogenized experiment to get so profitable, what lucky stroke of free will allows us to buy, never mind be, whatever we want.
All Chorus members:: [moans] oooohhh
All Chorus members: [squeals] ahhhhhh
Daughter: I know. Itís a calamitous thought--the devastation of discovering that our reams of information offer little insight. I didnít used to give it much consideration either. Not because I didnít notice. Its just that I was so busy micromanaging my parceled selfdoms, I let society at large sweat the big stuff. You know, the nuclear power plants, the highways and skyways, bread and high speed fiber optic cables, corporate personhood. I mean imagine if every time your man had a headache, you had to light a candle, make an adobe bowl, pulverize white willow bark and milk a goat just to get a few moments of peace.
Sure, I considered myself progressive in those early days. I was pro-choice, pro-trees, pro-recycling. I believed in equal rights, the fair distribution of wealth, the scarcity of fair trade. I quit aspartame and boycotted Frankenseeds. I was appalled by the health care system. If a doctor had of offered to put a new body on my head, I would have said no way, regardless of how much I hated my pouchy belly.
But, even with all my convictions, it was all I could do to put in my 40 hours, pay my bills on time, pick the kids up from daycare, and take a two week vacation once a year. I donít know how it happened, but my life had changed so much that I no longer recognized it, let alone lived it. All the nice people of my childhood had left television, the Internet was full of dot com commercials, I couldnít tell a Honda from a Ford. Yes, I could buy my toothpaste online, my SUV only cost me $300 a month, but what was the point. Ever tried to make love and fill out your tax forms on the freeway?
Chorus 10: honk, honk [live harpo horn]
Daughter: I guess, you could say I was running low. My tank was nearly empty, and I didnít know how to fill up. I couldnít go to my partner, my friends, my boss, my congressman---not cause they werenít concerned with my problems, cause I think they were, but because we had a different agreement. You know the story. I needed them to be something, they needed me to be something. It was our deal. For me, that meant I played the stable one, the law abider, the cornerstone who bobbed in the wake.
Chorus 5: [like news bulletins, delivered through megaphones] Extra, extra: Microsoft buys Earth, Gates now looking toward Alpha Centuri"
Chorus 8: extra, extra: Garter Poll reveals 9 out of 10 congressmen prefer infidelity
Chorus 11: Extra Extra: Satan declares Hell full, doesnít have a damn idea what to do about it
Daughter: So what did I do? [pause, waits for an audience response]. Yeah, fulfilling my pragmatist role, I left it all. My job, my kids, my husband, and took up with a dread-locked karoke singer who lived in his van. I got rid of my TV, microwave, washer, dryer, dishwasher, trash compactor, clock radio. Basically, all my square, EMF producing appliances. I got off the grid, started taking biodynamic sustainable community aerobics at the recycled yurt. I invested in a primal scream coop and put a free Willy bumper sticker on my bicycle [Tibetan bells sound]. I drank chai. Basically, I was doing even more of the right things. But I still wasnít happy.
Chorus 7: Extra, extra: After WTO fiasco, Seattle officials order pig clone heart transplants for entire police force in effort to improve community relations.
Chorus 12: Extra, extra: Ronald dies from McNugget overdose, Barney to take over as McDonaldís mascot.
Chorus 4: Extra, extra: Surgeon General Reports breathing is the leading cause of premature life.
[Lights change to multicolored, moving, hallucinatory, trippy]
Daughter: Then I got that pig flu from China. The fever hit me hard. Little powdered wigged men held hands in a circle around my bed and sang some kind of spangled banner. Red white and blue fireworks exploded in vast paisleys before my eyes. Some woman in a loose bun came down on me pretty hard, accused me of crossing the stitch.
Chorus 1: [steps up to the middle isle at front of audience, and like a circus barker/huckster says]: Step right up ladies and gentlemen, get your vaccinations here. [other chorus members line up in a straight, single file line behind him]
Chorus 8: [stepping out from the line, says line then goes back into single line] Smile, Youíre On Prozac
Chorus 11: I never exhaled.
Chorus 10: Vacation with valium.
Chorus 9: Christian crank, get there before your body does
Chorus 7: This is your brain on Sweet & Low
Chorus 2: Better living through multi-pharmacutical consumption.
Chorus 5: Just say yes, yes, yes
Chorus 6: Nicks is for Kids: kid tested, mother approved.
Chorus 4: With Clairiton You too can be sexless and boring
Chorus 3: On those days when you just donít feel fresh, Shoot up with Masengal
Chorus 12: Valtrex, for the blisters on your labia
Chorus 13: super absorbent, maxi.com
[chorus gathers together and sits down on steps]
[Lights change to soft lighting; no longer overtly, multicolored, moving, hallucinatory, trippy]
When my Nyquill delirium wore off, I felt like the final frontier and all I knew was that I was a citizen [delivered like in a scary reverb or echo]...citizen...citizen. No matter what I did, what country I championed, where I lived, I was still a serf, Colonist of big brother box, financier of the global arsenal, a disposable strand of the INC virus. My womb could house the next World leader [falls through the flag].
[Lights: quick disco ball or some other trippy effect as she falls through the flag]
Live Saxophone: horn/sax solo, the National Anthem/straight]
All Chorus: [singing and camping it up, making new words, etc, such as Jose can you see one starts the other stops, some talking some singing, broken record chant; chorus uses this to move into position in the audience, some people sit on laps, others on the balcony or isles and sit down]
Daughter: [from the ground] With no where else to go, I dove into the oracles, sought the council voices of my cultural ancestry. [stands up, brushes herself off, puts on a toga, begins walking and pacing] Yeah, I know, it sounds far-fetched, but the Greeks were, after all, the forefathersís great grandfathers. To my surprise, I really got into those Greeks. [to audience]. Not only were they a bunch of guys in sheets, but they could spin a yarn nearly as well as the Vikings: child eating Cyclopsí, stones swaddled in baby blankets, castrated fathers. Agamemnon, Oedipus, Cyemensta---she sounds like a venereal disease, donít ya think?. [pauses to consider] Yeah, all the dramas had screenplay potential all right, but I still couldnít find the hope.
[begins to circle flag] I decided to check the Internet, and it was here that I found itsallgreektome.com, an online export e-zine. I ordered some ouzu and olive to get me in the mood. Skimed some articles, they were okay, but what really turned me on was an ad for some Delphi psychic who worked out her home in Omphalos, Texas. I went over to her site, filled out a form, and after my credit card was charged $29.95 was informed that I was one of Hesiodís homely housekeepers in a past life. No kidding. Heís a famous writer. I was that close to having an influence on world culture...she told me that if only Iíd known about savin my soiled cleaning garments things might look very different today. With all this new info, I surfed over to Amazon.com and ordered everything that came up under Hesiod in my author search. Basically, Works and Days, Theogony. The intro and critical analysis stuff put me to sleep, but Hesiodís stories about Zeus and his clan riled me right up.
All Chorus : [reading the "all chorusí parts from as a scroll]
If you do my bidding, we shall revenge
Your fatherís crime. For it was he
Who invented shameful acts.
Daughter: I disappeared into the tales of treachery and intrigue. Zeus, Cronos, Demeter, Hades, Persphones, but it was the Titan Prometheus who captured my longing heart. A true Robin Hood, he alone was willing to endure Zeusís wrath and carry the Godís fire to man. I shouted and yelled, pounded on the pages of history, as Zues tricked that moron Epimetheus into marrying that first girl, the one Hephaestos made out of fire, the chick with the treacherous box. Seeing my poor Prometheus chained to that rock, his liver getting pecked out day by day, I wished I was his hand servant instead of Hesiodís. I wanted to bring him milk thistle tea night, soothe his growing liver with my loving kindness.
This is when things started to get weird. It all started one day, while I was sitting at my window dreaming about Pro, thatís short for Prometheus, and I smelled fish. Not stinky fish, more like a flower with fishy undertones, delicately perfumed, light but musky in bouquet, not at all cloying. Although I rather liked the scent, I was afraid of other peopleís reactions, so I started showering three times a day. [with horror] The odor wouldnít go away. I showered more. The smell persisted, more showers, more smell, showers, smell, showers, smell. It took me a week of loofaing, of agonizing in grocery stores, restaurants, strip malls, until I realized I was the only one noticing this mysterious olfaction--either that or everybody was being ridiculously polite.
All Chorus: [initiated by Stefan, then everyone follows at own pace] Diabolic Instrument, Instrumenta diaboli, diaboli, diaboli..
Daughter: [ignoring the chorus] Relieved, I relaxed back into my Prometheus fantasies again [dreamy pause, to excitement]. I will never, in all my days, forget what happened next. I was sitting at the same window as before, writing love letters in my journal when my hand began to move across the page on its own. "P-A-N-D-O-R-A."
All Chorus: Into her heart he put lies and false words and treachery
So she might bring sorrow to the men of the earth.
Daughter: [to audience] The box girl.
All Chorus: All possible evils, all wickedness and sorrow
Were contained in the box
And opened the box, unleashing
Endless disaster upon men
Male Chorus: [sung in a hearty rugby style, started in rounds] men, men, men, men
Chorus 9: only hope remained within the box...
Daughter: I began to mentally review what Hesiod had said about Pandora, but before I could nail down her lid, my hand took over and proceeded to download a very different Greek story. It turns out that Pandora had been a friend of mine, back in pre-Hellenic times, before I went to work for Hesiod. She told me that Hesiod had turned me and everybody else against her.
All Chorus: And wonder took hold of the deathless gods
And mortal men when they saw
That which was sheer guile
Not to be withstood by men
For from her is the deadly
Race and tribe of women
Who live amongst mortal men
To their great trouble.
Daughter: She said she wasnít the wily temptress, the salacious jezebel, I thought she was, that her vault was far from wayward. Her crate had been commandeered, stolen from history, deformed and demoted into...
Chorus 6: The worst single thing Zeus made for us
Daughter: [tone changes, to empowerment; she is beginning to embody the power of the original Pandora] Oh Pandora, round-wombed, scapegoated Pandora. Your life was the price of reason.
Chorus 4: [booming] Do not allow a sweet-tongued woman to beguile you with the fascination of her body, her mind.
Daughter: [going into a trance, initially caught by the chorus, then shaking off the voice, faintly]. No, no, NO. I hear you, Pandora, the hope---for I am a human boxed. [growing in intensity, becoming Pandora] You who existed before Zeus, I am you. I too was punished when Hesiod stole your origins, tricked humankind into believing the corruption of your womb was a worthy tariff for fire.
Chorus 2: Zeus threw the love of your body into the fire.
Daughter: [to chorus, audience] How could you let him.
All Chorus: [starting as whispers, growing in intensity] Mythological conspiracy. [chants take over the drama, getting audience members to participate, a few chorus members lead audience members across stage, drawing the entire audience closer to the action, daughter joins in the chant]
Daughter: Arenít women the embodiment of untamed nature, the chaos and disorder which spill beyond the civil frame? Are order and control, information and rule worth the unrelenting passion of mystery?.
All Chorus: Dare we extinguish unreason, tether reason.
Daughter: Look, progeny of Pandora, children of Delphi. Where are we now? What is this flag? Is it before us or behind us? Does it serve us or do we serve it? [to audience, encouraging answers from people as well as chorus members]. What does it mean?
[chorus answers quickly, in shotgun fashion]
[live music comes in here, possibly drum, evoking our primal choices; the chorus says these words in rapid, shotgun fashion, done from front of left front to back over to back right and then working up to front right/order to be determined during desert rehearsal]
Chorus 11: freedom
Chorus 5: control
Chorus 1: taxes
Chorus 6: bombs
Chorus 7: television
Chorus 9: jet skis
Chorus 10: football
Chorus 5: debt
Chorus 8: vacation
Chorus 2: overtime
Chorus 3: Harley Davidson
Chorus 1: Walmart
Chorus 9: smog
Chorus 2: rush hour
Chorus 6: cash machines
Chorus 7: long distance carriers
Chorus 3: alarm clocks
Chorus 11: boxes
Chorus 8: landfills
Chorus 6: opportunity
Chorus 4: breakfast cereal
Chorus 3: boxes
All Chorus: boxes, boxes, boxes [repeat, chorus members turn to their section of audience and get chorus members to chant along, possibly in rounds]
Daughter: [sings, to the tune of home of the free, repeats, the chorus is joined by the audience, all are shouting out what the flag represents]: Red, red is the wound, white, white is their collar, blue, blue is the blood, the blood of breathless lungs.
Chorus 11: [jumps onstage, directly in front of daughter and shouts to the audience] lets unplug, loosen up the stripes, liberate the stars [reaches over and grabs a part of the flag and tears it off, tears off another, holds them together, next to each other, showing how it still fits]
Chorus 12: [runs up on stage, grabs a piece of flag] No more iron on beliefs. No more lemming patriotism.
Daughter: My sweet land of liberty [tears off another piece, clutches it to her chest, runs off the stage]
[lights go crazy, strobe on, colors, moving spots, etc]
Live Music: Samba Patriotism [live with drum corps and other musicians---sax, fiddle, guitar, base playing National Anthem, My Country Tis of Thee in Samba in C; end with "Tequila"; possibly bring other drummers up from the audience]
Rest of Chorus: [chaos breaks loose, and chorus members, audience plants, and audience members rush the stage, climb up, and tear apart the flag, some wailing out of sorrow, others gleeful; intent is to be surreal, silly, and outrageous; some chorus members grab audience members and try to get them dance or run on stage and tear the flag, dance, cavort about]
Fire Dancers/bullhorns/other insturments, other music come in now, as available, during the cut loose
Pan: [emerges from the shadows as dad, disrobes amid the chaos, not totally obvious, yet still visible to those who dare to look]
Swendig Score: ["Diaphanous Tease short", track 9]---[flood of blue light]
Pan: [delivers short speech after audience returns to their seats; beckons Diaphanous One/Pandora] Who bore me to endure the legs of a goat, the curse of horns, this carpet of hair [pulls at chest hair]? Who released me from a woman who couldnít allow what she saw? If you were spurned by your mother as I was and had to withstand the ridicule of cruel gods, you too would retreat from Olympus and forget yourself in the forest and fields of your mind, chasing lovely nymphs, playing with pipes [strokes gourd and stamps his foot in anger; a typical Pan gesture]. Wouldnít you want to cause "panic" among mortals?
Yes, I fell in lust and pursued her, the sweet naiad of my own loins. I was driven by paternity and greed. She could not resist me. But look [Shakespearean/thespian style gesture, wide sweeping arms, timed pause], she has escaped me, fled into the mouth, the river of torrent and truth. And her disappearance has released me into my sorrow, so I now know what I stole, what I lost by my need to possess more, to lose myself in pursuit. Although she exists outside of me now, I will always look for her amid the reeds, a brilliant cylinder of earth and sky, hollow focus of godís play. So complete in her stance. At times, as I forgive myself, I even see her move towards me...closer, closer [pan takes out his pipe, begins to play, then watches as the Diaphanous One comes out]
Diaphanous One: [comes in with pieced of torn up flag taped together, notices Pan, then sings in a high, angelic voice] The sky eats the moon, swallows each piece back into a circle. [she enters from stage in right, delivers in center stage, then eventually crosses to stage left, as three chorus members point floating lasers at her as she walks; at center stage, she begins to move left, then is met by Pan, sings him this Oscar Wilde quote:]
O goat-foot God of Arcady !
This modern world is grey and old,
And what remains to us of thee ?
Then blow some trumpet loud and free,
And give thine oaten pipe away,
Ah, leave the hills of Arcady !
This modern world hath need of thee !
[then repeats in a high, angelic voice] The sky eats the moon, swallows each piece back into a circle [as she guides Pan off, stage right]
SIX---STILL IN SHADOWS
set: sheet drops
lights: stage off except for low shadow box light and polarized color shifting pattern
music: slow, sultry sax and fiddle
[LIGHTS: shadow box lighting]
LIVE AUDIO: Stefan on fiddle
[Daughter stands in box frame, pulls down white sheet, polarized light comes on; daughter appears as shadow behind white sheet. Begins to dance, and does a slow, sultry shadow dance, peels off her clothes as if a cultural skin; baring herself before the audience, but as a silhouette only; she then enters into standing yoga postures, and by the end of the dance, she is on the floor in a fetal position; she slips on wings and stands up fully behind the box, as if transformed; at this point, the music stops. Purpose of action is to convey that she is behind the screen now, because she feels that despite her own feelings of personal liberation, she must respect culturally prescribed prejudices and ideas toward the "naked" human]
[flood of blue light]
Daughter: [walks out from behind the screen and toward stage left] The sky eats the moon, swallows each piece back into a circle...as breath by breath, our humanness is reclaimed. [exits stage left]
BACK to performance