Prolog: THE TRAGI-COMICAL TALE OF NARCISSUS, ECHO AND OTHERS

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THE TRAGI-COMICAL TALE OF
NARCISSUS, ECHO
AND OTHERS


 


A 16th CENTURY BRITISH STAGE PLAY
WRITTEN IN THE 21ST CENTURY IN THE USA,
WITH DIALOG IN
RHYMING COUPLETS OF IAMBIC PENTAMETER,
IN MODERN ENGLISH,
IN SCREENPLAY FORMAT (SORT OF)



INTENDED TO BE PERFORMED BY AN ALL-BOY CAST


 


BASED MOSTLY ON A SEGMENT OF
CHAPTER 3 OF
OVID’S METAMORPHOSIS
AS TRANSLATED BY GEOFFREY CHAUCER, THOMAS HACKETT,
ARTHUR GOLDING, AND A. S. KLINE
AND ALSO
- THOUGH ONLY SLIGHTLY –
ON A TINY PART OF
CHAPTER 10 OF THE SAME BOOK
AS TRANSLATED BY ARTHUR GOLDING AND A. S. KLINE
AS WELL AS AN EXCEEDINGLY SMALL SEGMENT OF
BOOKS 4-6 OF
LUCIUS APULEIUS’
THE GOLDEN ASS
AS TRANSLATED BY WILLIAM ADDLINGTON,
WHOSE TRANSLATION WAS FURTHER TRANSLATED
INTO MODERN ENGLISH
BY THE AUTHOR OF THIS PLAY
THAT’S SO SMALL THAT ITS
ALMOST NOT WORTH MENTIONING AT ALL
BUT MUST BE, BECAUSE IT IS IN THE PLAY


 



BY


 



TODD



(stage position conventions: S=stage R=right, L=left, C=center, U=Upstage, D=Downstage)


LIST OF CHARACTERS


(parts need to be doubled and tripled by the cast, since there are no more than 12 cast members contemplated.)


Tiresius
Two Men
Jupiter
Juno
Ganymede
Bacchus
Ino
Townsfolk
Woman
A couple
Old Woman
Young Boy
Guide
Echo
Cephisus (played by an adult)
Liriope
3 Nymphs
Narcissus
Darius
Festivus
Marcus
3 Girls
Rhamnusia (Nemesis)
Narcissus' Reflection


 


 


PROLOG


FADE IN:



EXT. OUTDOOR ELIZABETHAN STAGE- NIGHT


Spots follow TWO PUPPET SNAKES as they approach each other from SRC and SLC of the darkened bare stage.


When they near at SC, they act amorously towards each other.


The snakes begin mating in a very animated fashion.


Trumpets sound.


ENTER TIRESIUS SR, moving DC, focused on audience. He wears the robes of a Greek scholar and carries a staff.


TIRESIUS
Good evening everybody – welcome all!
Tonight we hope that you will have a ball
And find our presentation to be fit
For your enjoyment, pleasure, and…
(Sees snake)
…oh shit!


There’s snakes here! Mating nonetheless, I see,
As if they have no better place to be.
Symbolic as snakes are in nightly dreams,
I’ve often wondered what their presence means.


As worn on Pharaohs heads in Egypt’s land
They symbolized a sovereign power’s hand.
But long ago, when time had first begun,
One made the world of Adam come undone.


Foreboding illness, fears, and pending threats,
The dream world tells us snakes don’t make good pets.
And then there is what’s obvious to all:
A snake’s a phallic symbol on the crawl.


But that’s one snake within a sleeper’s world…
When wakened eyes behold one, what’s unfurled?
Or two, as in this present case, combined…
My staff will make this mystery unwind!


Tiresius pokes the snakes with his staff.


Thunder and lightning accompany his transformation from man to woman, which is masked by smoke emanating from the position occupied by the snakes.


This transformation consists of an added wig, reversal of the robe to be a dress, and the addition of breasts, but despite its simplicity, it is a convincing transformation.


When the smoke clears, the two snakes are gone and Tiresius stands there dumfounded, looking himself over for awhile.


TIRESIUS (con’t)
A note to self: In future be it known
It’s best to let snakes copulate alone.
Am I a woman now? How can this be?


ENTER TWO MEN SR without shirts carrying axes over their shoulders. Their bodies glisten with sweat. They mime talking with each other as they cross upstage and EXIT SL.


Tiresius watches them as they cross behind him, turning around in a full circle to face the audience again.


TIRESIUS (con’t)
And how important is virginity?


He contemplates this for awhile and then composes himself.


TIRESIUS (con’t)
Our poet sent a man to welcome you,
But since I’m woman now, I’ll have to do.


Tiresius pulls forward the top of his dress and looks down through the opening.


He turns around and lifts up the front of his dress, bending over to look at what he has exposed. He straightens his clothing out, and then turns back around.


TIRESIUS (con’t)
And trust me, I am woman through and through.


Our tale tonight was written long ago.
I’m certain many parts of it you’ll know.
In ancient Greece, while humans lived below
The gods above were going to and fro


About their daily lives without a care
For tiny little men who lost their hair
With age, and lived short lives compared to them.
They toyed with man sometimes just on a whim.


My father, Everes, a Sheppard man,
Allured the nymph, Chariclo, with his tan.
Together, me, Tiresius, they made
While hidden in a pleasant forest glade.


This glade will be the setting later on…
Dear Echo and Narcissus will be gone.
I tell you this, yet still I have no fear
That giving you the ending makes things clear.


For, as in life, the destiny, it seems,
Is not as interesting as the teams
Of things that happen on the journey’s way
Or what surprises wait for us… so stay,


And come… and join us as the tale gets told.
We’ve laid some blankets out if you get cold.
Our little story now has reached its start.
So please lend us you eyes, ears, soul, and heart.


 


________________________


This is written with the idea that it was to be performed by one of the many popular Children's groups of the time (FEBRUARY OF 1575, to be precise). Though the actors were boys, they performed like adults, so though this is "INTENDED TO BE PERFORMED BY AN ALL-BOY CAST," that doesn't mean it is written for a modern children's theater group or intended to be performed before children. This play is most certainly meant to be performed before adults.


The reason I am writing this is because it is a lost play that was actually performed before Queen Elizabeth I. I am attempting to re-create it using the translations available at the time and the favored writing style of that time - with a compromise of using modern English instead of the Early Modern English of the Elizabethan era.


I also wrote the title page in the style of dedications of that time - with a touch of tongue-in-cheek. I was hoping to get someone to laugh at the absurdity of the Title page.

Created: Jul 29, 2012

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