a masque in ten scenes
CHORUS & DANCERS:
WOMAN HUSBAND LOVER/LOVE OBJECT
Diners, College Students, Furniture, Bank Tellers &
Customers (5 or 6)
SceneChange I: A glittering dinner party of masked
participants (CHORUS). WOMAN takes off her mask and gazes about in a bored way. At exactly the same moment by a kitchen screen a waiter holding a tray (LOVER) takes off his mask. They gaze at one another. He advances forward setting down his tray in front of her and slowly, deliberately removes his glove to draw his hand along her arm, removing her glove. Other diners too animated in their conversations to notice.
He removes his other glove, then her glove. With each of his sway-backwards motions she rises from her chair until he turns to flee behind the screen and, pulling up her skirts, she pursues.
SceneChange II: The CHORUS build their chairs into “trees” pursued and pursuer dart between; the dining table becomes “steps” upwards. CHORUS build themselves into a hall of “doors”; only the LOVER’s door is ajar.
SceneChange III: CHORUS build themselves into a “bed” and a “window”. LOVER removes his shirt, opens up his arms. He and WOMAN dance as she is helped out of her clothes. They simulate slow and passionate sex in front of the “window”, sitting upright on the “bed”. As they lie in each other’s arms the “window” shines its light on them. WOMAN rises, gathers up her clothes, dressing very inexpertly, runs into the hall in a panic.
SceneChange IV: CHORUS rebuilds “doors”. WOMAN wanders up and down the hall as if lost while college students (inverted masks) peek at her from behind their “doors”. Then light hits the “steps” and she runs down, performing a sensuous, joyous dance. DARKNESS.
SceneChange V: WOMAN’s bedroom. CHORUS approximates an “armoire” spilling feminine objects, a “cheval glass” (Mirror) and a “bed” piled with pillows. HUSBAND and wife simulate sex in wheelbarrow position, he wearing suspenders and a tie, holds her legs upwards. Her face is buried in pillows, her arms grasping upwards to…nothing. It does not look fun.
“Mirror” tries to position itself camera-wise to capture the action. Alarm Clock sounds; HUSBAND stops what he is doing, puts on pants and jacket, grabs a briefcase and does a robot dance out the door. WOMAN flounders in pillows, finally gets herself upright but he is gone. She tries on a variety of outfits and seems displeased by all of them (the Armoire and Mirror
happily offer alternating possibilities.)
WOMAN dances a self-soothing dance with her different clothes while the Armoire and Mirror sway helpfully and supportively, until she is finally in a good mood again and feels beautiful. Makeup, hair,
shoes… and it is back through the TREES, up the STEPS to the HALL of DOORS.
SCENECHANGE VI: She knocks on each and every door. (There is one door with no one behind it). Each door she knocks at, an opposite door opens, a snatch of music is heard and someone leans out, only to retreat when she looks in his direction. Finally she is able to synchronize movements to grab hold of a masked student and pull him out.
He plays dumb, shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders, just doesn’t know WHO or WHAT she could POSSIBLY be talking about. All doors open, all students look out and engage in a head-shaking, shoulder-slumping stupidity contest of No Such Person. WOMAN tries to peek beneath one of the masks, student slaps her hand away. She gives up. With crossed arms
they watch her leave down steps. DARKNESS
SCENECHANGE VII: A BANK with old-fashioned tellers’ cages. WOMAN stands first impatiently in line, finally gets to a window, opens her purse and evidently tries out a series of identity cards and bankbooks in an effort to get money. Teller shakes her head, gets another teller over, then manager; they repel all books, all cards, shake their heads, cross their arms NO.
The WOMAN starts dancing out the story of her love, unmistakably acting a passionate tale of romantic awakening. CHORUS of bank customers are drawn into this story – swaying and touching themselves in supportive echoes; the two tellers clutching, dancing, then finally sobbing together.
They open up both bank drawers and shower her with money which she stuffs in
her huge Designer Handbag. Customers congratulate her, throw confetti, produce balloons, champagne, blow party horns and dance together in celebration of her triumph as they send her on her way, back up the “steps” to the Hall of Doors.
SCENECHANGE VIII: WOMAN knocks and knocks on the LOVER’s door. He’s sitting behind it all right, with his back against it, arms crossed (no mask) but not answering. He looks annoyed. She sinks to her knees, keeps speaking, wheedling, repeating as many of the gestures of her Romantic Bank Dance as she can manage on her knees, to no avail.
They are very close together, both pressed against the door. Mirror-play. All the other doors keep opening and closing with peeking tenants until finally they just loiter out to frankly stare. She begins to push money under the door. He looks at the money – interested, then disgusted – pushes it back.
There is a frantic pushing back and forth of money while the other students gather around – holding out their hands and offering with pelvic thrusts and unbuttoned shirts to take over and fill in. WOMAN flees down the hall, bumping back and forth
between them, down the “steps”. DARKNESS.
SCENECHANGE IX: A street scene. Everyone is masked, (including WOMAN) as they stroll, walk pets, wait for buses. The WOMAN lifts her mask just a little bit to peek at each passerby. None are to her taste. A Pretty Young Man, unmasked (THE LOVE OBJECT) sits on a park bench reading a book. She chooses HIM. She takes off her mask and casts it onto his book.
This gets his attention; he looks at it as if it fell from outer space. She takes off her scarf, drapes it over his head. Now he gets that there’s a human being involved; he looks up at her, startled. She unbuttons her blouse and does an unmistakably sensual, sexual dance that gets him very hot under the collar. He rises from his bench to follow her. She leads him on slow chase through the TREES, discarding clothes & shoes which he gathers up.
SCENE CHANGE X: The TREES become GRAVESTONES – they are in a cemetery. LOVE OBJECT a little scared now, all by himself. Owl hoots, day darkens. He shivers as he looks around but he is still game. WOMAN has vanished.
He drops to his knees before a “gravestone” to pick up an item – a lacy thong – holds it up wonderingly. On the scrim behind him the huge shadow of a naked woman appears, seeming to fill the sky. He looks up, terrified. The scrim is thrown over him,
snuffing him like a candle. DARKNESS