Thursday, November 17, 2011

Concrete: a no-act play

By John, posted by Tracy

This is a pro-Occupy, anti-violence, anti-capitalist play written in support of the St Paul's occupation in London, and can be used for performance as presented here if desired.


A No-act Play by John Kinsella

For as many actors as there are ‘voices’, or fewer. Plus a group of masked figures.

St Paul’s Cathedral. The steps. The tents. The dome. The actors ‘shape’ themselves as they talk. A chorus in the background of Schwitters’ Ursonate-like sounds. Building building building. Scattered around the location are ‘masked-up’ figures who shout the odd aggressive word of protest; as the play goes on, especially where the black-bloc are mentioned. They begin to unmask, still uttering the odd word of protest towards capitalism and the oppressions of the state and corporations, but in an insistent rather than aggressive manner. Unmasked, their protests clearly become more effective (this can be displayed in their faces and in those of the ‘voices’).

Voice: The dome holds prayers warm. They ascend in clouds when the dome is full.

Voice: They fall back into the cathedral and melt over the pews, the stone. They wash away or crumble into dust. They cover hymnals. They are breathed in and out and lost.

Voice: They go neither up nor down, but out. They rustle among the tents at night. The doors shut, they linger. They have a long half-life. They don’t burn like radiation but they change us. Even if we don’t believe.

Voice: Believe what?

Voice: Look over there, The young men in suits photographing each other in front of the tents. Group shots. They laugh. They are full of joy. They’ll facebook the images. They seem especially pleased if they get dreadlocks or piercings.

Voice: There’s the Apocalypse man. He says the signs are here, among us.

Voices: We says yes, they are. The stock exchange, the financial district.

Voice: He says we are wrong, and doesn’t approve.

Voice: Why?

Voice: I lost his voice in the traffic sounds, the machinery.

Voice: How many words are written by the shapes of bodies on the cathedral steps? The enriching crosstalk and overtalk and undertalk of different languages. Their shapes, their words, the new words are more concrete than the buildings. The old buildings, the new.

Voice: History intervenes.

Voice: The local matters. What did the Blitz say about orders to move on? Who listened out? Who sheltered? Who sanctioned living? Under what conditions? Shape up or ship out? Consensus? Occupation?

Voice: I saw black-bloc-ers gathering on the outskirts. They had the wind up. In twos and threes, masks half-cocked, working up a steam of affront. Looking for a phalanx.

Voice: Parachute.

Voices: Parachute?

Voice: Yes, yes, I get you. Materials. Tents, the dome, the sweat-shop labour that went into making the clothing of...

Voice: Phantoms of the operas.

Voice: Monumental.

Voices: MO-NU-MENT-AL!

Voice: Or the Letters of St Paul. Somebody has brought that up. Many people...

Voice: But this is against the master, against slavery.

Voice: It is.

Voice: It is.

Voice: It is.

Voice: But if you take one word out of George Herbert’s concrete poem, ‘Easter Wings’, the poem falls to the ground. Say, the word... ‘harmoniously’...

Voice: But is it any worse for being on the ground?

Voice: Is it unmasked?

Voice: Standing up. Being counted.

Voice: Lying down. One of the Fleet-Streeters came last night and invaded our sleeping places with infra-red. Their x-ray specs...

Voice: And I wondered if I heard the clergy praying against us.

Voice: No, no... they were praying for the poor and the wealthy. They were giving their blessing to tourism, the machine of the cathedral kept running.

Voice: But they are not blind to symbolisms.

Voice: Nor symbols.

Voice: Nor icons.

Voices: Nor masks. They are as one. Christ’s...


Voice: But they’re just...

Voices: People.

Voice: Yes, and are all victims of corporate...

Voices: Armies.

Voice: Inside the tent of learning I felt I was inside Gomringer’s silence poem. His ‘Schweigen’.

Voice: What does translation mean?

The cathedral bells start to ring out the hour. All stay silent while they ring.

Voice: Indeed. Inside the reactor. Inside the control of money. Inside money. Inside history. Outside the dome. Over the concrete.

Voices: Who is that speaking in the background? What is that voice?

Voices (to each other, speaking slightly out of time with each other, so cross-talk results): Have you noticed the noisier it gets, the more silence floods into our oneness? Faces show. Mouths moving. Eyes blinking. The painted faces of the crowd. Each and every one. Pictograms. I can make out the script but they seem to be suffering the same.

Voice: Pain. It’s just pain, but the gadgets hide it. They are pain-obscuring gadgets, not pain-ending gadgets.

Voice: Obscurantism.

Voice: Corporate rationalism.

Voice: And the ennui of cyberspatiality — the need to convince themselves... ourselves?... they... we... exist.

Voice: We are all culpable.

Voice: All.

Voices: One and all!

Voice: Some of those masks remind me of the Three Musketeers.

Voices: ME too!

Voices: Wait. Time for a chat. Good to chat. Share the news. The Bobbies are checking up on us. Hi, we don’t want violence. Thanks. The same food is out there to share. Yes, yes — crimes of the state. But they placate with television series. Just say no. No. No.

Voice: No. You can hear the shutters of the record-keepers. Their vigil.

Voices: Vigil.

Voices: Watching over each other. Putting a fire beneath us. Purification of customers.

Voice: What’s the use of a person if they’re not a consumer?

Voice: What’s the use of a cupola on the dome?

Voice: And concrete. Concrete everywhere. Listen, listen to the abstract nouns gathering force.

Voices: Listen, listen... the passion. The consuming passion.


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