September 25, 2006

A Play A Day #165

Art Wins


Setting: Bare stage, smoke pours from one wing onto the main stage, Allen, filthy from smoke and ash, stumbles onstage. He feels his way around for a bit, rubbing at his eyes, starts hollering.)

Allen: Jojo!? Jojo! Jo?!! (pause, looking about frantically) Jo! Jojo! (pause) Jojo! Jojo! (realizes she didn't make it out, turns and runs back into the smoke)

A: Jo!? Jo!! Jojo! Jo! (emerges carrying Jojo, who is also filthy, dressed in a nightshirt, he coughs mightily, lays Jojo down on the opposite side of the stage, checks her breathing, starts to administer mouth-to-mouth, this lasts for a few breaths, Jojo starts coughing and rolls to her side, she rubs her eyes, sees Allen kneeling there)

Jojo: Allen...

A: Don't talk, sweetheart. Takes some breaths. Breathe, breathe.

J: (coughing horribly for a while, trying to sit up) What... the house?

A: (gently keeping her on the ground) Yes. It's gone.

J: (more coughing) But... where's the fire department? Where are they?

A: I couldn't call them; by the time I noticed the fire, I couldn't get to the phone.

J: My cell...

A: Is probably in your purse, your purse is by the phone where you always put it.

J: We can call...

A: No one's going in there, Jo. It's gone. We can only hope one of the neighbors sees the fire and calls.

J: We live over a mile away from the neighbors.

A: They'll see smoke.

J: It's too dark.

A: It's gone, Jojo. (they hug for a long time, still hugging) We have to accept it... we'll have to accept it; we might as well start now.

J: How... how did you get out?

A: Fell asleep in the basement after the game... they won by the way... and I just woke up to the smoke detector. It was so dark, no lights on, just the TV, then I smelled the smoke and headed up stairs, there were flames everywhere, the living room, the kitchen. I just got really low and pushed through it all, and came outside.

J: But, why didn't you get me?

A: I thought that you would be outside already.

J: I wasn't?

A; I ran back in, pulled you out of bed... you must have passed out from the smoke...

J: Wow... you just did that? ... I... would have been...

A: Shhh... don't think about that, please... please...

(they both sit and quietly observe the house burning down)

J: Should we back up?

A: I think we're safe here.

J: (pause) I don't hear any sirens.

A: It's probably for the best.

J: The house burning?

A: Yes... completely, I mean.

J: What?

A: Just let go of it all... a clean break...

J: I... why would you say that?

A: No pathetic scrounging for... or saving of half-charred, smoke-damaged artifacts.

J: Pathetic... I hardly think that trying to recover a few sacred memories from the destruction can be considered "pathetic".

A: I understand... but it takes the bad with the good.

J: What bad... this was our dream house...

A: Yes... I realize that, Jojo, but...

J: No! No! Don't talk like this, Allen. Our dream house... seven years in that miserable city, basement apartment, pipes groaning all day... we saved... you worked two jobs most of the time... up til 4 a.m. most nights, finishing your architecture degree...

A: Loved that apartment though... so many good memories... right in the city...

J: You wanted to live out here... you said you wanted to be able to have space around you, to let your art unfurl, that's what you said...

A: I did. I did. You're right. I did.

J: So what are saying?

A: I... just need the people, Jojo... I need the vibe and that constant hum of the city...

J: But, you designed the house... you are a prize-winner, Allen... this house won awards...

A: I am very proud of it...

J: Your designs are being praised across the country; you've flourished out here.

A: Yes, I guess I have...

J: So... why are you being so glib about the house burning down?

A: I am so proud of this house.

J: Right... I know! That's what I'm saying. How can you celebrate its destruction?

A: Because it's not our house.

J: (pause, very confused) What? I... What?

A: Well, it's our house. You know, it is owned by us... conventionally, yes, it's our house... but, in the broader sense, it is not our house.

J: What are you trying to say? Stop being so cryptic.

A: It is art. Art is not there to be possessed. No one owns art. Art is the idea, the design... the house had run its course.

J: Run its course? We lived here! This was where we lived. It was art, I agree, but...

A: No, no, no, no dear. (pause, his finger is up) It IS art.

J: Fine, yes, whatever, the idea is still there, yes, that is art... and it was beautiful...

A: Jojo. (long pause) This. Is. Art.

J: I agree, honey, but I'm really upset that you...

A: Not the house. The burning.

J: What? Allen, what the hell are you talking about!?

A: The idea was art, the execution was practice, the destruction of the idea is its own art.

J: I... ummmm... Allen?

A: Art is a process. Beginning, middle, end.

J: No... you're not understanding our lives were in that house.

A: I understand. It performed exactly as planned.

J: What did? The house?

A: Wires sag over time, flash paper burns quickly. Art results.

J: This is not art! This is our life!

A: I never knew when it would happen exactly, but I guessed about five years. It made it six. Close enough. It stayed true to its design.

J: You... I could have...

A: The art unfurls, dear. Art wins.

(lights out quickly)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Baldessari (sp?) builds a house...