Play/Blood/FlightWritten and directed by Louis Patrick Leroux
Three resonant responses to Joanna Baillie’s Witchcraft; drama, film, performance, and dance
Response to “Women on the Moor” scene 1, Act 1
© Louis Patrick Leroux, 2009
I- CHILDREN AT PLAY (drama)
Foreground: three women playing three girls. Girl 1: 3 years old, Girl 2: 4 years old; Girl 3: 5 years old.
Background: A modernist Satyr: sculptural, manly body, unclothed but for an oversized horn hiding his sex, and two twisty horns coming out of his head. On his feet: hoofs, undoubtedly. The man prances about, playing like a rowdy little 4 to 5 year old boy in his own world. Another boy exists in the world of the screens.
GIRL 1 “Come along now,” said the girl, “it’s time for play.” “No, I don’t want to play,” said the other girl, “we are always playing. Me, I want to dance.” And she danced and danced with the prince.
GIRL 3 There was no prince. Just two girls.
GIRL 1 (purposefully ignoring Girl 3) “He was big and tall and beautiful,” but “No,” said the other girl. “Don’t step on my toes when you dance like that. My little little little toes are crushed under your biiig toes.”
GIRL 2 The boy with the big toes was holding a big stick-thing in his hand. He was bad. “I’m baaad,” said the bad boy. And the little girls said/
GIRL 1 No, he was good. I’m the one who’s playing. He had big toes. Big toes like this! “Oh, what big toes you have,” said the other girl. But he was nice. (Pause.) Maybe a little bit bad, just a little.
GIRL 2 I say he was bad bad. “I’m really nasty bad,” said the boy slamming his stick.
GIRL 3 Two girls and a bad boy. Breaking things. Thud! Crash! Bam! Snicker! Smash!
BOY Smash back!
GIRL 1 His eyes were scary up close and they hurted mine eyes and they afraided me afrom I didn’t know what he wanted. “What do you want,” asked the girl. “I want to dance,” said the Bad boy, but my toes are too big.” And he cried. “Ah… That is okay,” said the girl, “there’s no need to cry,” said the girl.
GIRL 3 He cried and cried but he broke things. “I can’t stop,” said the boy. He broke everything.
BOY Snicker, smash.
GIRL 2 He was good at being bad.
GIRL 1 “Don’t cry, little boy, I will hold you” said the little girl.
BOY Thud, crash, bam.
GIRL 3 “Oh no! Don’t come here,” said the little girls when they saw him with his stick.
GIRL 2 “Ha Ha Ha Ha!” He laughed good evil laughs.
BOY Wham, slam, kaboom.
He throws his stick away.
GIRL 1 They were afraid.
GIRL 2 We don’t like stinky boys.
GIRL 3 No, they liked being afraid.
GIRL 1 Afrom he had a big stick and big toes and his eyes scareded them.
BOY Flip, stick, whoop.
He walks more intently towards them.
GIRL 3 “Come here,” said the girls. “We’re not afraid of you.”
GIRL 2 “Stinky boy.”
GIRL 1 “I’m afraid,” said the littlest girl. I’m afraid…
* * *
II- BLOOD (performance/film)
Three scenes on which a silent film is projected.
On stage are actors who will say the film’s lines, had the film not been silent.
Film: Teenaged girl. Staring intently at her hand. Scratching it. Staring. What is this itchy feeling that won’t go away? Cut. Scratching again. The other hand. Feet. Something’s not right.
Film: Awkward but lovable teenage boy rings the doorbell, expectant, excited, nervous. He might have a single hand-picked flower hidden behind his back.
Film: The teenaged girl is lying in bed, covered with a pristine white sheet. Blood slowly oozing from under the sheet from where we expect her hands and feet to be. She is concerned; then frightened with the realisation of how much blood there is.
Stage: Actors have slowly taken their places.
Film: The Girl is panicking before so much blood. Mother reassures her but is also shaken by the sight of it, especially the stigmata-like concentrations on the hands, feet, and head. An older woman, a grandmother or great aunt seems oddly calm throughout, she knits.
Simultaneous stage dialogue:
MOTHER There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all/
GIRL’S VOICE We don’t all have bloody hands! We don’t all have bloody skulls. Please make this stop!
MOTHER Oh. Wait here. Don’t move/
GIRL’S VOICE Don’t leave me/
Film: Boy-Mother silent stand-off. Grandmother has her eye on him but won’t partake of the more physical obstruction to the Boy’s approaching the girl. Boy runs, tries every strategy to get to the girl. Girl slowly drifting away.
BOY What do you mean she’s ill? Can I see her?
MOTHER I’m afraid that’s quite impossible right now.
BOY Will she be okay? Can I do/
MOTHER She’s unwell, Billy.
BOY It’s Bill, now. Can/
GIRL’S VOICE Billy, go away.
BOY I’m here, if you need/
GIRL’S VOICE Go.
MOTHER Sorry, Billy. She can’t come out to play.
Film: Doctor examining the girl. He is too close. He prods too much. Excludes the mother. Mother tries to interject, tries to remind him of her presence. Girl annoyed with his presence but not especially to his touch.
DOCTOR’S VOICE Tell me again, can you/
GIRL’S VOICE I don’t know how it started. It just did. It just/
DOCTOR’S VOICE I see. Has this occurred before?
GIRL’S VOICE I can feel it in my ribs.
MOTHER She’s seeing things; hearing things.
DOCTOR’S VOICE (ignoring the MOTHER) What exactly?
GIRL’S VOICE Something sharp. Something deep.
Film: Boy looking into a window. He’s concerned and tries to peer in. He’s writing something on the window which girl can’t and won’t make out. He’s seen something disturbing, but is it? He stares, his mind slowly accepting of what’s taking over him.
BOY You are not. You’re not damaged. No, you’re going to be fine. I can just tell. I can smell it. It’s fine. You’re not damaged. I’m here. I’m here. I’m here.
Film: Mother and girl, finally alone. Mother realizing that her daughter’s not faking. That the blood keeps on tricking, that the daughter has a strange glow and doesn’t seem miserable anymore with what is happening to her. Not quite accepting, but not resisting.
MOTHER What do you mean?
GIRL I don’t know, I keep hearing something.
MOTHER It’s just Billy. He’s been lurking around.
GIRL Not Bill. Someone else. Deeper voice.
MOTHER He’s been singing. It’s driving me nuts.
GIRL He’s calling.
MOTHER Who’s calling?
GIRL I don’t know.
MOTHER Things will work out.
GIRL That’s what he says.
Boy, running, running, running. Searching for an outlet. Seeking an ear, a set of eyes. He is so alone and needs to confide, needs to talk to the world.
BOY There was blood. Blood everywhere on the sheets. Blood trickling down from her hair. Like a sponge. An oozing, bloody sponge, taking in the suffering of the world. I can’t get her image out of my mind. They wouldn’t open the window. I could still smell it. The blood. Sweet. Like flowers. I think she needs us. The smell, like a bed of flowers.
Film: Mother finally winning the battle over her daughter. The good doctor is slowly excluded from the inner sanctum and sent back to his world of science. Mother smothers daughter. Old woman looks on, knitting.
DOCTOR These are not Christ’s stigmata. I don’t think you’re helping her cope with this at all.
MOTHER How do you explain the smell?
DOCTOR I don’t smell anything out of the ordinary.
MOTHER No, you wouldn’t. Man of Science. Blood’s all the same.
DOCTOR Giving credence to her psycho-somatic delusions will not do her any good.
MOTHER Thank you, Doctor. You probably have much to do.
She escorts him out.
Film: the bloody girl, in a strange state of beatitude. Mother and Grandmother calmly taking in the moment, the sweet smell of stigmata blood.
Film slowly fades out during the boy’s piece, maybe replaced with details of oozing blood.
Stage: Boys. Speech not naturalistic. Bodies becoming performative. From language to beat to movement. They are not rational boys; they are reactive, hurt, confused boys. Their bodies are not their own.
BOY Sweet blood. I don’t know exactly. She kept saying she was damaged. Then, I don’t know. On her hands and feet. Trickling down from her temples.
OTHER BOY Sweet blood. I don’t know exactly. She kept saying she was damaged. Then, I don’t know. On her hands and feet. Trickling down from her temples. Sweet blood.
BOY Beading. A crown. Fleshy body. Bloody body. Blood. Something sweet. Deep. Something sharp. Never again.
BOTH BOYS Beading. A crown. Fleshy body. Bloody body. Blood. Something sweet. Deep. Something sharp. Never again.
Confusion, guilt at feeling aroused by these images. Purging. Hitting maybe. Self-doubt, mostly.
There she is again. Before them. Unsoiled. Fleshy, bloodless, body. And there is her double, her older double before her. They sit and watch “Age” dance piece.
* * *
III- age (FLIGHT)
On the screens the following text rolls by, as the two women inhabit the stage area. Left over flash mob watches in earnest. Selected close-up shots of the danced dialogue will also appear on the screens.
Two women: one young, one elderly. They walk towards each other and engage in a/
Elderly: Who’s elderly? I’m a fit as a/
Young: Move out of my way, you’re cramping my style.
That gaze. Generational confrontation. One is inventing it, claiming it for her own. The other is having it reflected back onto herself, decades later.
Movement carries them.
Flash mob percussions. The young woman dances without inhibition. Flash. Undulations. Speed. Tap, kick, twirl, fall, bounce, twirl, kick, twirl. Dizzying. Hard and fast.
Flash mob soft pitter patter. The elderly woman dances with deliberate slowness, or is it really? “I can’t move the way I used to. But it doesn’t really matter. I can move. The mind wanders, yet the body, the body doesn’t forget.” Hands. Look at these hands unfurl. Feet. Curl, poke, lift, slide, shuffle. Turn, see it sitting there mid-flight. Is the movement really so dazzling that we forget the moment before movement? The moment after movement? These hands have spoken so much and so long, I wouldn’t know how to shut them up. These feet have walked a million miles. Time slows down as we take in its inherent deliberateness. Hands, feet marking time.
Tap, kick, twirl, fall, bounce, twirl, kick, twirl.
Tap, kick, twirl, fall, bounce, twirl, kick, twirl. Will the Elderly woman take up the challenge?
Time descending on a body; age slowly knotting up the muscles, pulling at the limbs; gravity’s pull. Will the Young woman take the time to contemplate her own body’s gradual slowing down?
- One needs to recognize death; to become accustomed to it.
- Death is for the dying. I’m too busy living.
- Death doesn’t suddenly spring up on us; it walks alongside from the first moment.
- You’re killing me with this talk.
- We’re all dying.
- If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
- It never quite goes away, does it?
- No, charm.
Charm. They charm: dazzling or mothering.
Then, those rowdy boys again. Where do they come from exactly? Horned Satyrs. Watch them strut, punch, pull, poke. Watch them taunt the girls in the crowd; watch them intimidate the boys. There they go, following their horns.
Measured charm. Guarded charm. The women dance their dances. The boys can’t approach them. Off with one horn. The women play with it. “Oh, this? I’ve got one of those as well.” Strut, punch, pull, poke, tap, kick, twirl, fall, bounce, twirl, kick, twirl. Time descending on a body; age slowly knotting up the muscles, pulling at the limbs; gravity’s pull. And the boys watch incredulously. And the women slow down. The horn is a puppet, a megaphone, an earpiece, a dunce-cap, a totem, a football. See it fly. Score! They slow down. Slower. Black out.