Thursday, June 26, 2008

Map Of The Stars: A Play In Arkansas

"Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal."
- Bob Dylan

I woke up in a dark room. Not a hospital. I'd recognize the medicated smell of hospitals even in my sleep, what with being married to a nurse for fifteen years. It was a dark room. I was on a broken-down chair and there're broken chairs all around me. Not sure how I got here. Only light in the place was on a raised stage. There were two old men on the stage. It looked like they were rehearsing for a play or something. Were they actors? Probably more has-beens. I've been meeting them all the time throughout this weird trip. Has-been artists, has-been Gothic chicks, lives discarded like used condoms, beliefs shattered by a world that doesn't even care anymore. Maybe that's the whole purpose of this weird trip? To stare into the abyss of lost beliefs? To search in that part deep within us that is not consumed by the cynicism and apathy of our times? I don't know. It's been years since I was philosophical. These days, it'll be a miracle for me to even stay sober. I mean, what kind of an idiot follows a cat to Arkansas and ends up with a lacerated knee? Anyway, here I was. In a dark room watching two has-been actors rehearsing for a play that will never be performed for the general public. It's almost voyeuristic. Like I'm privy to something that was never meant for my eyes. I don't know. My head was still spinning and I was struggling to focus. Must've lost my glasses on my way here (how did I get here in the first place?)

Actor #1: How should we play this?

Actor #2: Let's just give it to them. The strait and narrow.

Actor #1: I'm not doing Godot again. Besides, ain't nobody interested in that crap anymore. Waiting forever for some idiot who never arrived.

Actor #2: People used to think that Godot was supposed to be an allegory for God.

Actor #1: Let the public think what they want. As long as they buy the tickets. 'Sides, you and I? We ain't paid to think. We just deliver our lines.

Actor #2: But Beckett said that he never meant for Godot to be God. Otherwise, he'd simply call it Waiting For God!

Actor #1: Who gives a flying fuck about that old perv Beckett anyway? Word has it he was a virgin all his life! Crazy old coot.

Actor #2: But we don't even have a play. No script. No audience. Just us. Actors on an abandoned stage.

Actor #1: I thought we brought in an unconscious Chinese bloke?

Actor #2: And that's our audience?

Actor #1: Who cares? We've got a job to do, let's do it.

Actor #2: Maybe we should do a retcon of Godot. Y'know, like an Ultimate Godot. For the post-literate crowd, I mean. Add in more angst and more MTV. Mix it up with an identity crisis and throw in some shit about the loss of beliefs in this generation.

Actor #1: What's a retcon?

Actor #2: I thought you weren't interested in the intellectual side of our plays?

Actor #1: Still ain't interested. Just askin' ya about the meaning of a word s'all!

Actor #2: Oh, all right. A retcon is an update on a familiar theme or character. Usually done in order to repackage and sell something old to a new audience.

Actor #1: You mean like the Bible?

Actor #2: Huh?

Actor #1: Y'see, in the Old Testament, God was all fire and brimstone and shit. Then in the New Testament, he's all about finding lost sheep, raising dead Lazaruses and chatting with women at the well. The Old Testament God probably wouldn't be very popular with today's demographics, eh?

Actor #2: 'Cept probably with those Al Qaeda folks and Christian Fundamentalists screaming for blood to be spilled everytime a gay-parade is in town.

Actor #1: Exactly my point.

Actor #2: But y'see, the whole thing about a retcon is that it has to make sense. That means that the intrinsic part of the character must be retained - just that the whole packaging needed to be made more palatable to the tastes of a new generation.

Actor #1: So we doing the same with Godot?

Actor #2: Precisely. Got any ideas?

Actor #1: Maybe do it like a medieval play version of Godot. Play down the existentialism and play up the morality side of things.

Actor #2: But Godot still does not appear. I mean, the whole intrinsic nature of his character is to NOT appear, right?

Actor #1: So a successful retcon means that Godot retains that intrinsic element of NOT showing up. Exactly.

Actor #2: If he doesn't even show up, why bother with a retcon even?

Actor #1: Does it even matter? Look around us. We don't even have an audience!

Actor #2: Sigh! Time was, we used to pack the halls. Do you remember the last time we played Godot in Folsom Prison?

Actor #1: Not Folsom. That was Johnny Cash. We did it in Rykers.

Actor #2: I meant Rykers. Wasn't that what I said? And who gives a damn about Johnny rockface Cash anyway?

Actor #1: Hahaha! Exactly my point. So in Rykers, there was this particularly soulful inmate, remember? And he was like all sobbing and screaming after the 3rd Act.

Actor #2: I remember him. Backdoor Jim. He sodomized 32 Altar Boys. Used to be a Jesuit or something. Did you know that he wrote me letters every Saturday for 3-4 years after that play?

Actor #1: Really? I didn't know that.

Actor #2: I read the first dozen or so. Never opened the rest. All sorts of existentialist shit in there. He was saying that he never chose to be a Jesuit. It was all his parents and Catholic schoolteachers. That he watched our Godot and realized that he's been had. That his life felt like coming into a movie right in the middle - missing the first and the last parts. And that the middle had a hole that he was trying to fill.

Actor #1: That was his justification for filling the a-holes of Altar Boys? Huh? Not that I care about Altar Boys, of course. Just sayin' is all.

Actor #2: I don't know. People read all sorts of things into these weird, absurdist plays. I mean, Beckett's been analyzed to death by pseudo-intellectuals and academicians everywhere.

Actor #1: I get it. Maybe we can retcon the whole Godot thing to feature an academic analysis of the original Godot play. Then the stupid blokes can go on and on analysing the thing and Godot never even show up! Haha!

Actor #2: And Backdoor Jim appears in the last seen to sodomize all those silly academicians.

Actor #1: Curtain falls.

Actor #2: The End.

Actor #1 and Actor #2: Bueno excellente!

"You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns
When they all come down and did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discover that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?"
- Bob Dylan