Judith Adams - Playwright & Dramatist

"Judith Adams' script is dense as thick, black treacle but has the lightest of touches, melding myth and poetry with the everyday..." Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

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Whitestone Arts Research Centre

Creative Workshop Space, West Yorkshire

Adapted 17th Century Pennine longhouse

www.whitestonearts.co.uk
info@whitestonearts.co.uk
+44 (0)1535 644644

BURDALANE

SCENE 4

ALEX MEETS THE HIRTA PARLIAMENT - A CHORUS OF MEN WHO SOUND SIMILAR TO THE BIRDS - IN THE VILLAGE STREET.

ALEX (JOURNAL)

Why was I here? Strictly speaking, my duty to my Lord Grange ended when I had negotiated with McLeod to see her on the boat; but - St.Kilda! I'd read of it: 'the Isle of Irte, which is agreed to be under the Circuis and on the margin of the world, beyond which there is found no land in these bounds...'

I had a fancy to stand on the edge of the world, just once.

THE MEN GATHER ROUND HIM CURIOUS.

The Island Parliament. I feel I should hand out trinkets. Like Raleigh at Roanoke.

(TO THE MEN)

To whom should I speak?

MEN AS CHORUS

Finlay is king for now - You must say who you are -

ALEX

My name is Alexander Carlyle.

MEN

Ah... Are you a Father?

ALEX

In what w....

MEN

Are you a Bridegroom of Mary? - Have you wedded Mother Church? - Are you a Father - Father?

ALEX

No. That's Mackay. Who came with me on the boat. At least - he is not ordained - the Church hasn't enough money to fund a mission here...

MEN

Enough......?

ALEX

Wealth. Means. Substance......... Feathers.

MEN

Ah...

ALEX

Nevertheless - he comes as a man of learning, to rescue you from sin.

SILENCE

I...

FINLAY

A woman was in the boat, too.

ALEX

His servant. She looks after his needs.

FINLAY

Another woman. Here and not here.

ALEX

She stays with the factor. You must ask him.

PAUSE

Why do they call you King?

FINLAY

It's a gift to the worst fool on the island.

MEN

Before he was king, then he was the fool - Took off alone - Flew without the cord - Had no fear - Had no sense - Worked alone - We don't work alone - And live - Alone is death.

ALEX

I see. I would like to study your island while I'm here.

FINLAY

Tina says to give you Calum's House. Over there. You're welcome.

ALEX

Yes. Thank-you. For a while. I plan to return with the factor's boat, of course. Where is Tina? Where are all your women?

FINLAY

Glen Mhor. We must go now, Carlyle - there's work.

MEN MUTTER OFF. RORY STAYS BEHIND.

RORY

They're going to the far end of the street.

ALEX

To work?

RORY

Talk. Talk is work! If it goes on past mid-day, it will go on 'til night.

ALEX

And the work?

RORY

Gets done. When the air is right - we fly.

ALEX

Fly?

RORY

The rope round here - the belly - three fathoms down the rock. Across the gap - Conachair's cheeks, black and wet with birds like beads of sweat, sitting and sighing in all his great eye-sockets. You kick out from the rock - swing - ten fathoms under your feet is the sea, winking.

ALEX

That's how you catch the birds?

RORY

We fly, twitch-backed, like the Petrel.

HE STRETCHES OUT HIS ARMS AND COPIES THE FULMAR PETREL'S VOICE

They go to us: can you do this? Can you do this? Floating off the end of the world.

But we can. With the cord at our bellies, we step off the ledge too, so they come to us. Let us rob them. We wring their necks. So. So. When you're hungry, flying and killing are easy as song.

I'm Roderick. My mother was the Queen. She's dead now.

ALEX

Who's your father?

RORY

Father?

ALEX

Finlay?

RORY LAUGHS

Who then?

RORY SHAKES HIS HEAD

Is he dead?

RORY

I'll show you all the island. I'll show you the Milking Stone, where we pray to Gruagach to save our children.

ALEX

Gruagach?

RORY

She was the woman from another country came to live with us and birth our children. Then, they never died.

ALEX

Are they dying now?

RORY

I'll take you to the altar on Dun and to the castle there, if you're brave enough to cross a rock like a keystone - so - above a great drop to Shony. What's Shony? Sometimes he's a fish. Sometimes he's so big his breath turns the waves over, dark. And I'll show you the Tunnel where the voice runs away and back into your head; and light shining underneath the sea, in A'Chaisir where the seal talks to you out of her mouth. I'll take you where the Bonxie will slice your head-top off for trespass; and where we can see An Armin with a plume of cloud like a white fleece half-plucked. And where the world ends, at the Gap. And where the Spanish boat sent to kill the Queen struck an arch with her main mast and brought it down on her deck, and sank. And when it's dark, we'll sit on Carn Mhor in front of the Storm Birds' burrows, and they'll fall into our laps out of the sky, and the air full of calling like the angels tumbling after Judgment when they closed the gates of hell and heaven, and they landed here to live.

I won't walk so fast as my tongue. I can see you're lame.

VILLETTE

PART ONE: MARCHMONT.

SCENE: OUTSIDE THE SPACE

The doors are locked to the performance space.

SOMEONE BEATS ON THEM LOUDLY FROM THE INSIDE.

LUCY, DRESSED LIKE A GREY SHADOW, WALKS AMONG THE AUDIENCE, AROUND HER NECK IS A KEY.

LUCY STEPS FORWARD AND OPENS THE DOOR.

THE AUDIENCE FOLLOWS TO FIND:

SCENE 1: THE PICTURE GALLERY

.

LUCY LOOKS ROUND A PICTURE GALLERY.

THEY ARE ALL PAINTINGS OF LUCY SNOWE (ACTORS 2,3,4,6)

ONE OF THE PICTURES IS A MIRROR THROUGH WHICH SHE SEES THE REFLECTION OF A MAN.

(ACTOR 5)

LUCY

I, Lucy Snowe.....

ACTOR 5

I, Lucy Snowe.....

ACTOR 5 BOWS AND HANDS HER VIOLETS

ACTORS 2,3,4,6

I, Lucy Snowe/ I, Lucy Snowe/ I, Lucy Snowe/ I, Lucy Snowe.

ACTOR 5

Your face is my face. Have you noticed?

ACTOR 5 REACHES THROUGH THE GLASS.

LUCY MOVES ON TO ACTOR 3 WHO IS LYING LIKE CLEOPATRA.

LUCY

Why doesn't she get up?

ACTOR 3

Lucy Snowe - she's dead.

LUCY

Dead? No!

ACTOR 6

Not dead. Living dead.

ACTOR 3

Buried alive.

ACTOR 5 DRESSES UP AS MISS MARCHMONT AND MOVES TO A BED. S/HE LOOKS LIKE GRANNY IN RED RIDING HOOD

ACTOR 5 (MISS MARCHMONT)

Lucy? My child?

ACTOR 6 (LOOKING AT LUCY)

To be buried dead, so far as we can tell, won't be too bad.

But to be buried alive.....

CHORUS (ACTORS 2,3,4,6)

Still breathing / pulsing / staring / listening / No fidgeting allowed.

No turning over./ How will she die? /Suffocation? /Starvation? /Thirst?/ Boredom?/ Madness?/ Will she drown in her own water?/

Even a rabid dog can run . Even a rabid dog can move enough to tear itself / there's nothing she can bite away except her tongue./ Her own tongue./ Drowning silently in blood./ Better to be dead.

Better never to have lived.

Drowning.

Sea wrack/ Ship wreck/Mermaids mouthing with no song/ rock's green teeth and green waves over the bow/ cold/ danger/ contention/ rush and salt waves in the throat/ icy pressure on the lungs/ weight of water/ burial at sea.

LUCY

Oh, hush, Banshee. Hush!

LUCY COVERS HER EARS AND SCREAMS:

I! Lucy Snowe!

THERE IS SUDDEN, ABSOLUTE SILENCE.

LUCY ISN'T SURPRISED.

SHE EXPLAINS:

I seemed to live two lives: the life of Imagination.

And the life of Common Sense.

So:

SCENE 2: MISS MARCHMONT

LUCY (AS A CALM, GENERAL QUESTION)

What can I do to be saved?

MISS MARCHMONT

Lucy - the pain....

LUCY MINISTERS TO MISS MARCHMONT. MISS MARCHMONT WEARS A GREEN RIBBON IN HER HAIR.

The Bone Room

AROUND THE CHILD'S COFFIN STATION TRANSFORMS TO:

PELVIS STATION:

SCENE TITLE: ISABEL IS PRESENTED WITH A GRAMMAR BOOK. 1492

ISABEL (PICARO 3) IS PLAYING CHESS (VIA A SERVANT) WITH A MOOR (PICARO 6, WHO IS IN LEG IRONS).

FALL OF GRANADA IS GOING ON OFF.

PICAROS

In fourteen hundred and ninety two

Columbus sails the ocean blue!

Fernando (GESTURE TO PIC.4) and his sovereign

true - Isabel (GESTURE TO PIC.3) - unite the limbs of a

dismembered land.

In their cauldron the brews

a new nation: Spain.(INDICATE PELVIS STATION) Never before

invented.

The dross

of Moor (INDICATE PIC.6) and Jew (LOOKS FOR ONE. NO-ONE OWNS UP) will be

burnt off

Viva:

La Reconquista - ahi esta: Granada!

and what's more:

In fourteen hundred and ninety two:

the first door-to-door encyclopædic salesman. (GESTURE)

FANFARE: ENTER NEBRIJA (PICARO 5) WITH HIS VERY LARGE BOOK INDEED.

NEBRIJA

Isabel. Most regal and divine majesty - my life's work in your hands.

ISABEL

They all say that. Which one are you?

NEBRIJA

Elio Antonio de Nebrija (1444 to 1522)

HE PRESENTS THE BOOK WITH A FLOURISH

ISABEL

What's this?

NEBRIJA

A book of grammar!

ISABEL

I'll pass it on - to my daughter Juana. She does Latin.

NEBRIJA

No, Madonna: Castilian Grammar! A grammar of our own language. The first ever. With this - Castile will rule the world!

ISABEL

You amaze me. See Fernando.

NEBRIJA

Fernando is incandescent, majesty - but you...

ISABEL

But I?

NEBRIJA

.....Castilian.

ISABEL

True.

PAUSE. SHE GESTURES FOR A CHESS MOVE.

Nebrija - I'm not well educated.....

NEBRIJA

Did Christ's mother go to school?

ISABEL

...why bring this thing to me?

NEBRIJA

How is your Latin, majesty?

ISABEL

Insignificante.

NEBRIJA

And your Greek?

ISABEL WAVES HER HAND TO INDICATE WORSE THAN INSIGNIFICANT. THE SERVANT MOVES ANOTHER OF HER CHESS PIECES.

ISABEL

Not you! I was distracted. Return to Queen Five.

FANFARE OFF

ISABEL

We're losing.

MOOR

You are not devious enough, Reina Isabel. My grandfather was a thief. And I a knight who sideslips four ways at once. I regret -

HE TAKES A PIECE

ISABEL

My ancestors are all murderers. Thievery would have been so much more useful. It might have raised some money for my wars. I've had to pawn my crown to buy the soldiers bread! Seiges are civilised - but go on for ever. I hate the rationing. Not that there's rationing on murdered Moorish souls unshriven. I am gorged with those. Don't die before you convert, my friend, and weigh my heart's scales even further.

MOOR

As my soul's monarch wishes.

ISABEL

Soul? Infidel! What do you know of souls?

MOOR

Very little, my lady, except it lives in the tail. Just here.

ISABEL

Does it? Are you sure?

MOOR

There is a sacred bone here - seed of the soul - which never turns to dust. Even the evil have this holy seed. So we believe.

ISABEL

And what becomes of this sacred bone when you're dead?

MOOR

Reina - when I'm dead you'll be the first to know.

PAUSE

ISABEL

Shall we continue the war?

THEY RESUME THE CHESS GAME.

MOOR

Alas, I must take your queen, Reina - a poor shadow of your effulgent self - with this sly and slippery holy man.

ISABEL

Fernando - I made him pawn his crown too. I'm dismayed - the Jew gave more for his than mine.

MOOR

Then it will cost him more to get it back.

It grieves my heart, dearest lady, but I must storm your castle.

ISABEL

Brash young Aragon, it seems, has better crown jewels than ancient Castila. Fernando's been smirking ever since. No - no - you mustn't hold back. I expect no mercy. Nebrija - look there - look at our chess board, say: which piece is strongest? Hardest for the army to lose? Travels farthest? Takes the most prisoners? Is the most coveted?

NEBRIJA

The Queen, glorious Castila.

ISABEL

And which piece is the most impotent? Which shuffles and prevaricates and hides behind its peasants and its castles? Ha! In this the most imperial of games the king is consort, merely. Ha!

Shhh! Never say I said so!

MOOR

Check. Mate. I have your King surrounded. He is mine, and you are my prisoner. Queen of my Heart.

HE KISSES HER HAND.

FERNANDO ENTERS AND GRABS HIM

ISABEL

Fernando! It's a game.

FERNANDO

Who wins?

ISABEL

Him.

NEBRIJA

He. Gramatically speaking. Majesties.

FERNANDO

Then he won't mind losing this time.

FERNANDO KILLS THE MOOR.

Fair's fair.

Granada's fallen.

HE PUTS HIS FOOT ON THE MOOR LIKE ST.JAMES IN THE FRESCO.

ISABEL

My love! La journo sin mañana! Spain for Castila! And Aragón. Spain for God and the Holy Church! Spain of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

FERNANDO WIPES THE BLOOD OFF HIS DAGGER AND SEES NEBRIJA, WHO IS TERRIFIED.

FERNANDO

Who's he?

NEBRIJA

Your divine Grace - Elio Antonio de Nebrija, publisher of the first grammar in a modern European language.

FERNANDO

Awesome. Aragonese or Castilian?

TERRIBLE SILENCE

NEBRIJA

Your grace... (HE HAS A BRAINWAVE) Spanish!

FERNANDO

Spanish?

ISABEL

Spanish.....

NEBRIJA

Spanish. The tongue of Spain. A new language, symbolic of your regal synchronicity. Your Graces: put together this work with the sophisticated development of printing across Europe and the social impact of vernacular translations of religious texts - notably the Bible - and you will see the hand that wields the pen will, whilst increasingly bellicose in identifying with nationalistic principles, rule Europe.

PAUSE. SILENCE.

ISABEL

I didn't understand a word.

FERNANDO

Are you saying pen pushers rule the world?

NEBRIJA

You will rule the globe, Majesties. This language is yours. You are Spain.

ISABEL

Granada fallen! Think! The Alhambra's mine. Ours. We will re-decorate.

FERNANDO

Let the Moors be banished.

DEAD MOOR IS PROCESSED OUT.

All queer anyway. Too fond by half of baths and perfume.

(TO NEBRIJA) Not a Moor I hope.

NEBRIJA

No, excellence. I bath once a year.

FERNANDO

Oh - and the Jews are leaving too.

FRIEZE OF THE JEWS LEAVING AT A PORT.

(TO NEBRIJA) Jew?

NEBRIJA

Not for a fortune!

ISABEL

My crown! Redeem the crowns!

ISABEL GETS HER CROWN BACK OFF PICARO 2 AND CRAMS IT ON HER HEAD. MEANWHILE:

FERNANDO

What then?

NEBRIJA

Spanish.

FERNANDO

Of course.You can go - for now. Man of words. Leave the book.

NEBRIJA DITHERS FOR PAYMENT.

We graciously accept your gift.

NEBRIJA EXITS AND JOINS PICAROS.

PICAROS DIASPORA: DANCE OF DEATH, GYPSY WITH DEATH MASK AT THE HEAD.

PICAROS 1, 2, 5, 6

And so they go out from the land of their birth: boys and adults, old men and children, on foot, riding donkeyback or other beasts and in wagons. They go by the roads and fields with much labour and ill-fortune, some dying and some giving birth, so that there is no Christian on the way that does not weep for them. Their rabbis call to the boys and women: sing! Sing and beat drums and tambourines! And so they go out of Castila, dancing, and at their head a faceless thing with bones for limbs, capers and sings.

FERNANDO

The Jews are purged from our land. The Picaros - will stay.

FERNANDO COLLARS PICARO 2 AND HAULS HIM BACK.

PICARO 2

Stay?

FERNANDO

For the Picaros we call a Great Halt.

ISABEL

Why?

FERNANDO

Because they wish to go. Because I say so. Because if there's no-one left but pure-bloodied Spaniards of the cross - who will he persecute, your Inquisitor General?

A HEARTBEAT BEGINS AND GROWS. ISABEL PUTS THE CROWN ON THE CHILD'S COFFIN. FERNANDO RAISES HIS HEAD.

Who's there? Mama?

PICAROS

O, Malinche baila

Juanita canta

Los ratones godros,

Ellos dan las palmas.

(Malinche sing and little Juana dance, the fat rats clap their hands.)

THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS

SCENE: ENTRANCE HALL OF MAY OF TECK 1945.

PUBLIC PHONE RINGS

GREY WARDEN ENTERS ENTRANCE HALL AND ANSWERS IT

GREY WARDEN

May of Teck.

RUDI BITTESCH

Is that the May of Teck Club?

GREY WARDEN

So it?s you.

RUDI

May I speak to Miss Wright privately please?

GREY WARDEN

All the members calls are private. We don't listen in.

RUDI

I would know if you did, I wait for the click before I speak. Kindly remember.

GREY WARDEN (COVERING THE MOUTHPIECE)

Miss Wright? Phone call for you.

JANE DESCENDS

GREY WARDEN (COVERING THE MOUTHPIECE)

That foreign man again.

SHE HANDS JANE THE RECEIVER AND GOES INTO HER OFFICE

JANE

Hello? Jane Wright. Hello?

RUDI

Queen Mary of Teck is a kleptomaniac, by the way.

PHONE CLICKS AS GREY WARDEN HANGS UP

Jane?

JANE

Oh, Rudi -. Honestly?.

SCENE: THE DRAWING ACTOR + RADIOS:

CHURCHILL

When shall the reputation and faith of this generation of English men and women fail? I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we've done and they will say "do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered."

ROOM

SOFAS AND PIANO - ALL BATTERED.

JUDY IS PLAYING THE PIANO, NOT ALL THAT WELL.

RUDI HAS ENTERED WITH JANE, CARRYING A BATTERED BRIEFCASE STUFFED WITH PAPERS, WEARING A MAC AND FELT HAT AND SMOKING A CIGARETTE. HE DOES NOT REMOVE HIS HAT.

JANE HAS A LIST AND LETTERS.

RUDI

"Chirps in human hearts". What is this, please: "chirps in human hearts"?

JANE

It's poetic.

RUDI

"The Bird of Freedom chirps in human hearts". The man is a sentimentalist, by the way.

JANE

Must you come to the club dressed like that, Rudi? The warden thinks you're a spy.

RUDI

She is the spy. She is plainly Gestapo. SS. You do not have to be German to be this thing. I know.

JANE

Oh, shush.

JUDY IS ALARMED BUT CONTINUES TO ATTEMPT HER TUNES

RUDI

I am a private detective. I am Raymond Chandler.

JANE

He's an author. Not a detective.

RUDI

And I collect rare books and documents for commercial purposes. Perhaps we use this as a cover, Ray and me?

JANE

You hate Raymond Chandler.

RUDI

I have first editions of The High Window and The Lady in the Lake. Please - put him on your list.

JANE

You don't like detective stories.

RUDI

I despise detective stories. Why do we like authors who write about murderers? - that is my question.

TARGETTING JUDY

Why do we worship the gruesome body mangled in a wood? - that is what I am asking you. Because we like our politicians to be sentimentalists and talk of birds chirping in the heart. The English are disgusting with their sentiment. Sentimentalists are the most brutal people in the world.

JUDY GATHERS HER MUSIC BOOKS AND EXITS.

But their signatures, when famous, are worth money. Perhaps you should write to Mr Churchill?

JANE

Why don't you write your own letters?

RUDI

If I write myself it does not ring true. I do not get interesting replies. My English is not like the English of an English girl.

LOOKS AT LIST

You have added Henry James.

JANE

It was just an idea.

RUDI

You wrote to Henry James? Where?

JANE

At the Atheneum.

RUDI

That was foolish of you, because Henry James is dead, by the way.

JANE

Do you want a letter from an author called Nicholas Farringdon?

RUDI

Is George going to publish Nicholas Farringdon now?

JANE

We think him brilliant, but he's still feeling his way in the world of books.

RUDI

Has he finished a book?

JANE

Not quite. He's still feeling his way. He's writing something.

RUDI

George has you checking him out. You are a detective, Jane. You will find out this young man's diary, his sexual habits, his bank account, his weak points, psychologically, so you can cheat him when he signs.

JANE

Not cheat.

RUDI

No? You and George - are con men, I should say.

JANE

George is a publisher. He's a businessman.

RUDI

Exactly! All businessmen are criminals.

JANE

George is not dishonest.

RUDI

He has changed his name five times.

JANE

Four times!

RUDI

What is it now? (HE KNOWS) Arthur? Jimmie? Con? Hughie.

JANE

Huy.

RUDI

Huy! Aitch Ewe Why! Huy Throvis-Mew. Em Ee Double-Ewe.

JANE

I think it has a ring. On paper anyway.

RUDI

And his wife these days is - ?

JANE

Tilly.

RUDI

Tilly. Tilly Throvis-Mew. Young? Of course.

JANE

Rather. Nice. A bit silly.

RUDI

George is a con man and you - are a con man's Private Eye.

JANE IS BORED.

SOMEWHERE A RADIO PLAYS VE ANNOUNCEMENTS AND GAY MUSIC

THE CLUB IS BUZZING WITH EXCITEMENT

JANE

Why aren't we out celebrating?

RUDI

Celebrating what?

JANE

Really - you are impossible.

SHE PICKS UP A LETTER SHE'S BEEN WRITING

Here.

RUDI

Ah - celebrating the tweeting bird of freedom.

HANDS LETTER BACK

You will read it to me, please.

JANE

"Dear Mr Hemingway,

RUDI

Ah.

JANE

Is he dead?

RUDI

He would like to be.

JANE

"Dear Mr Hemingway

I am addressing this letter to you care of your publisher in the hope -

RUDI

Confidence.

JANE (SCRIBBLING)

Confidence.

RUDI

That will put the publisher on the spot, morally.

JANE

"In the confidence that it will be sent on to you. I am sure you receive many admiring letters, and have hesitated to add yet another to your post bag. But since my release from prison, where I have been for the past two years and four months, I felt more and more how much your novels meant to me during that time. The library was unheated alas, but I did not notice the cold as I read on. Nothing gave me more courage to face the future and to build a new life on my release than For Whom The Bell Tolls. I just want you to know this and to say "Thank you". Yours Sincerely J. Wright (Miss) PS/

RUDI

/Yes, yes. I shall come out. You - and me. We are going to the café for some "Victory, What Victory?" readings, by the way.

JANE

Not tonight, Rudi. I've got lots to do.

RUDI

You wish to see Nicholas Farringdon socially?

JANE

What?

RUDI

I know Nick. He's not likely to be a Name ever. What has he written?

JANE

It's called The Sabbath Notebooks.

RUDI SNEERS