MASK The New America
(A play in five scenes and any number of acts)
by Roy Culver

copyright 1969-1997 by Roy Culver
11362 Kipseli
Athens, Greece

Cast of Characters

Concerning MASK, The New America


Much, although not all, of the following may be printed on the program for the ticket-holder to read:

     Tonight you will have noticed as you entered that your ticket is striped red white and blue. This gives you American citizenship for as long as you want it. It gives you the right to become a multibillionaire selling land mines to the trusting world and the right to visit places like Disneyland and Alcatraz Island.
     Yes, tonight you have what many consider the greatest role in all the world, that of the American audience, actually the American television audience. Yes, although you may feel you are watching what is known as legitimate theatre, in all theatrical actuality and at every time you are referred to as shit you will then understand why and give it the canned American television laughter it so redolently deserves.
     This then is the play MASK, The New America. More than full length, it is a perpetual play that can be produced in as little as two weeks in, say, an open-air theatre or even many open-air theatres simultaneously, all scattered as far as imagination and energy allow with the same voices, recorded, of course, in every theatre, perhaps Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Al Pacino, any such while the masked performers pantomime. It could have the look of, or even actually be, a stockade put up on any lot, a stockade which the audience will find themselves entering through many doors, signs at the entranceways directing them inward to take them from wherever they are at the start to first New York, then Chicago, afterwards Kansas City and finally out on a field among, as the final sign will tell them, the people of the great American plains, the prairie. They will themselves have bought with their tickets the right to be these people, an American audience sitting on bales of straw and hay to look upon a stage,.the crudest of all stages that is only yellow sawdust surrounded by long, upright, hedgewood sticks topped with kerosene torches where they will see a play of masks.
      With one simple stockade on one lot anywhere would be the production at minimum cost, but with greater resources when the play goes into the second act, all the possibilities of theatrical imaginaton can be called into play, now costumes, more elaborate groupings with greater spaces, more expansive music, all depending on any who like it well enough to do it.




MASK, The New America


This is a play with masks. When the curtain rises, Mexican and Injun will be seen behind large, ridiculous, throw-away masks of the Leo-Carillo stereotype Mexican fool and the frozen-faced drunken Injun type fool, masks which accompany their comic dance. Beneath these masks they will wear the masks of pride seen when they discard the first ones and stop dancing. Other characters, all of which are masked, may have more than one. The curtain is now closed.

Scene One

The Voice of the Artist--I see it all now. Here is what you must do. You take the part of the Injun. You take the part of the Mexican. And I will play the part of the Frontiersman. Quick, everyone! Places! We're going to start the show. Quiet, now. Quiet, everyone.

(Laughter, chaotic laughter breaks out, and two heads, masks of insanity, grinning, grimacing, enormous teeth protruding, emerge from the center of the curtain. Those wearing them, wrapped entirely in black, leap into the audience to vanish so they seem later to fill the theatre with their laughter whenever it is called for.)

Curtain

(Mexican and Injun dancing to electronic sounds. Laughter breaks in on them. Dancing stops. This happens twice before they speak.)

Mexican--They think we're funny.

Injun--We are.

Mexican--Do you like it?

Injun--It's a living. Some more.

(They dance. Laughter. They stop.)

Mexican--They always think we're funny.

Injun--Better that way.

Mexican--This is better?

Injun--Better than when they're afraid. They see us not funny, and they're afraid.

Mexican--Ha! I like that!

Injun--You like them afraid?

Mexican--Are you afraid?

Injun--It's not the same thing.

Mexican--It's the same thing!

Injun--Not the same thing. They can't live with their fears. What they can't live with, they put away--they put away animals, they put away forests, they put away storms. They put away winter, they put away night. Their old people they put in cold homes near a cemetery. Their children they put in silly biscuit factories, schools, and what they really fear they put in asylums, prisons and quickly into coffins, forever.

(They dance. Silence. They stop.)

Mexican--They don't think we're funny now.

Injun--That's not good.

Mexican--I see teeth only. They are all the same, and they are teeth in a black, hungry maw.

Injun--Yes, they are all the same, a machine that smiles with knife-slabs that crush and then swallow--the buffalo, the horizon, the spirit.

Mexican--There are black teeth among them.

Injun--They call that integration.

Mexican--Then the blacks are no better than the others.

Injun--They have sold out and are now part of the teeth.

Frontiersman--But your people never sold out.

Injun--How is it you still remain?

Frontiersman--Because you have not gone.

Mexican--He is one of them. Why aren't you a tooth?

Injun--Look at him. Look close.

Mexican--You mean the hair, the clothes?

Injun--Smell him.

Mexican--He stinks like a human being. He's alive!

Injun--Look at the jaw, the neck.

Mexican--Hard food, dried and hard without juices.

Injun--The eyes.

Mexican--Like shovels.

Injun--The hands.

Mexican--Broken and mended and broken again----Tools!

Injun--Could these teeth have killed my people, pushed them into the land?

Mexican--(laughs.)

Injun--He killed my people, robbed me of my land. The earth is his.

Mexican--He let them happen. My children do not become like them.

Frontiersman--They would.

Injun--As would mine.

Mexican--Yes, for their vision-consuming box.

Injun--And for their mind-consuming book.

Frontiersman--And for their shit-smelling status.

Injun--But they cannot.

Mexican--No--(laughs)--they cannot! They are alive! And the life gripping their intestines holds back their hands, makes them dumb when the bastards teach speech, makes them blind when the sonsofbitches teach seeing, makes them deaf when the sputtering assholes teach hearing.

Frontiersman--The same with my children.

Mexican--Your children! They, that is your children!

Frontiersman--That is the spawn of the East, the Amalekites, the Goths and Magyars, the hordes of mindless massmen pouring out of the eastern cesspool, the Germans, the French, the Italians, the English, all those mindless mites of modernity living continually off the rotten corpse of their past, the tradition slaves, the illusionists, the word-spillers, the everlastingly meaningless, trivia-drilling, soul-devouring talkers, smothering the earth in oceans of excrement. They are the fountainhead of pure shit that their children love to dive into to drown.

Mexican--And what of your children?

Frontiersman--The same as yours. On the lakesides, the ones that are left, the mountains that are left, the plains, the deserts even, or shacks along the highway, or in depravity of slums yearning to become that but too alive. The same as yours.

Mexican--But you brought them.

Injun--No.

Mexican--He is the same as they!

Injun--No. He was never them. He was driven here by them, yes. Made murderous and treacherous by them, yes, but hating them, and so free of them. Able to learn the ways of free men. He broke the land and shaped it, then they came like the locusts, like syphilis germs wriggling into his body, taking his power.

Mexican--How could they take from the likes of him?

Injun--With words.

Mexican--What words would be strong enough?

Injun--Only the weakest repeated over and over again. Repeat the most crazy of words often enough and they believe it. Words that they laugh at us for not being able to manage. The kind they like to think we can't use so they can think us fools and not be afraid.

Mexican--Tell me such a word.

Injun--Safety.

Mexican--(laughs.)

Injun--Security.

Mexican--(laughs again.)

Injun--Culture.

Mexican--(laughs.)

Injun--Yes, such sick, lying words spawn multitudes of clauses and conditions and provisions, spawn law-disabling lawyer, mind-disabling philosopher, power-corrupting critic, spawn all of them and their kind, talking, talking, talking. Their words were his plague , riddling him with spewl, gnats gathering on him first in clots then in heaping clouds until his eyes could not see his hands and the land was theirs.

Mexican--He gave it to them. They are his children.

Injun--No. They are his disease.

Mexican--Then we must kill him.--(Action.)

Injun--You see? Him you cannot kill.

Mexican--Then there is no hope. We shall be consumed by his disease.

Injun--Is he consumed by it?

Mexican--No, but he will be now. There is no place for him to escape them now----No new lands for you to leap to----They have caught you----They are upon you----Can you no feel them about your feet, their tiny claws blackening your legs?----They are dropping on you out of the trees----swarming upon you out of the air.

Frontiersman--They have nothing now to feed upon but themselves. And I have no mark on my forehead.

Mexican--What is that he said?

Injun--Something he said when he killed my people and took my land.

Mexican--But now he must prove what he has said or we all die, our children will die.

Injun--Him you cannot kill.

Mexican--He has given them the world.

Injun--No.

Frontiersman--Yes. (Pause.)

Injun--You took my land for them? You took the world for them? The continents, the oceans, the mountains and seas, for them?

Frontiersman--They have nothing now to live upon but themselves.

Injun--And?

Frontiersman--Not even they can thrive on shit.

Mexican--And upon us, and our children.

Frontiersman--The mark is not upon my forehead. Nor upon yours. Nor upon yours.

Injun--You did not say this before.

Frontiersman--It was not the time.

Mexican--And now?

Frontiersman--Yes. The time is now. For I have given them the world.


(CURTAIN)



Scene II

(A mountain)


Woman--Why are you always washing your mouth?

Frontiersman--I have not got it clean.

Woman--Clean of what?

Frontiersman--Entangled in my teeth is their way of saying things.

Woman--And a malignancy in my brain.

Frontiersman--And in mine.

Woman--But how will washing your teeth clear your brain?

Frontiersman--I clear the way for my brain to spit the muck out.

Woman--How do you know?

Frontiersman--Because it is the time to know.

Woman--How do you know that?

Frontiersman--You hear me?

Woman--I have always heard you.

Frontiersman--Then it is time. Someone hears me. Someone out of them, out of all their sickness knows they are sick.

Woman--I was not of them. My people were never of them.

Frontiersman--No. You were prisoners of their ideas as all were. But that is changing now.

Woman--Why?

Frontiersman--They need us. They all need us. They have spoiled the earth and now they want to know how to live off putrescence and rot.

Woman--Will you tell them?

Frontiersman--They will not listen. They love only shit.

Woman--What will they do?

Frontiersman--They will die.

Woman--Someone is coming up the mountain.

Frontiersman--Yes. I saw him on the trail at sunrise.

African--(in a Bo Jangles mask covered with phalli)--Save us. Save my people.

Frontiersman--You have come at last.

African--Massuh!

Frontiersman--(Discarding African's comic mask and revealing the mask of pride)--Do not call me that. All that is past and done. I am free now.

African--Don't put me away. Don't let my people perish in the white rot they all sit round devouring until you can't tell the black fool from the white fool except for color of skin, and all the putrid dead smile, smile at one another with worthless eyes. Set my people free.

Frontiersman--Your people are dead, old man.

Woman--Must you always be heartless?

Frontiersman--Would it be kindness to tell him otherwise?

Woman--No.

Frontiersman--So you see, you have come out of them.

African--It can't be true! Don't let it be true!

Frontiersman--No, not all true. You are alive. What you are is all your people and enough. What I am is all my people and enough. Stay with us until it is over, and we will begin again.

African--Come down to us. Come set my people free.

Frontiersman--I tell you they are not your people now, old man. Do they love you and your ways?

African--They hate me and spit on me. But I love them. They are my children.

Frontiersman--No more.

African--But I am poor of speech. They will not listen to me.

Frontiersman--And I have spit out their speech. They will not listen to me.

African--You must try.

Frontiersman--No. Stay here, old man. Forget them.

African--Ma'am. Tell him he's got to try. It isn't right if he doesn't try.

Woman--What can I say? I care nothing for that part of my heart which hears you, old man, forgetting him and his ways.

Frontiersman--So it is, you are no longer of them.

Woman--You cannot help him? I wish that you could help him.

Frontiersman--Not as he wishes.

African--Then I must go back to my people.

Frontiersman--They do not want you, old friend.

African--But I want them, even as they are.

Frontiersman--I will go with you.

African--Will you speak to them? Will you free them?

Frontiersman--I will speak to them.

African--They will listen to you. I know it.

Frontiersman--They will not listen.

African--Then why?

Frontiersman--I love you, and you cannot see.

African--You are wrong. They will listen to you.

Frontiersman--We shall both see.


(CURTAIN)


(The laughter of the Proprietor is heard after the Frontiersman's last line and continues between the scenes into Scene Three.)


Scene Three


Voice of Proprietor--(with laughter)--This is rich. A grand plan for the future. My life and yours combined. Rich! As rich as the life you live, as this studio of yours I've always envied you for, sculptures, paintings, architectural designs, the outpourings of your genius strung about your feet, about your walls, in monumental array. Rich and grand!

(Curtain rises on Artist's studio)

Artist--I'm glad you like my plans.

Proprietor--Yes, I've always wanted a home of your design, but to be perfectly honest they were all too sensational for me--the public, you know. We must always be careful of the public, you know--artistic, mind you, ingenious, wonderfully imaginative--but I couldn't think of myself actually inhabiting one of them. But these plans for a residence to reflect all my possessions, my power, my wealth, why you've hit upon the final word in realistic, contemporary planning.

Artist--Yes, I . . .

Proprietor--It takes guts, the vision of a pioneer to make the house and whole estate one great, self-providing bomb-shelter, a city underground stocked with farmlands, mines, factories, and skilled servants, even slums to gratify the little egos of the professional people. That's practicality. That's foresight. You're one of the great men of the earth, privileged to look down on the ordinary men who must worship you for your great work.

Artist--There has never been . . .

Proprietor--And the scope of your fancy! Flowers everywhere in vines and thorny patches, in sweeping vistas of roses and pines, with natural rock outcroppings to color the unending expanse of roof----why, people won't be able to find doorways and windows for the flowers. And hard-packed sod floors solidified with gases, living on the earth itself. Ingenious!

Artist--I'd like you to shut up.

Proprietor--But I never shut up. Why should I shut up? How do you think I got possession of everything if I were in the habit of shutting up?

Artist--Now that you have possession of everything, you can Shut Up!

Proprietor--What will I do if I shut up?

Artist--Now that you have nothing further to get with words, they are as useless to you as everything else you own. Therefore you must give them to me to make real again with art, as you give everything else you make valueless. Without my art, all things would now be boring and dull, valueless, a condition which you above all could not endure. Oh, I've seen some sense in the way you hang onto things, but I couldn't tolerate being altogether like that. Use a thing, do something with it, make it say something meaningful, that's my way with everything. Pack all the living power available into it, teach it to speak, then smack it on its ass and send it on its way.

Proprietor--On its way where?

Artist--Outside my studio, preferably, where I can still see it working.

Proprietor--Now you're talking my tune. You've seen my wheelbarrow sculpture, I'm sure.

Artist--I know you're an artist. And a good one. I put together a show of yours once in admiration of your work. But what else can the superior man do but seize upon every appearance of life and ram it into the forms of the modern world to give them stature, to make new realities out of common delusions?

(EXEUNT)

Mexican--There are hands upon me. Feeling my guts, working at my testicles, gouging my brain.

Injun--Yes. Always.

Mexican--But they are stronger now, clutching at my bowels as if to wrench all the life out of me. Hot cruel fingers searching hungrily, raping me of my identity. I tell you they are stronger here.

Injun--That could be.

Mexican--Where do they come from? Whose are they?

Injun--It is a mystery.

Mexican--This is where the man said we could find him. I hope you don't mind my bringing you. He especailly wanted the two of us to come.

Injun--You say there will be money?

Mexican--Yes. Good money.

Injun--Can we do what he wants? Does he know we usually can't do what his people want?

Mexican--He only wants us to stand around.

Injun--You say he is an artist?

Mexican--His work is powerful. Like living things.

Injun--Yes, not alive but like living things. We had artists among our people.

Mexican--And we among ours. They make life seem bright.

Injun--Life is bright. But they make life seem bright.

Mexican--Yes. They are good for the ones who don't know the good of life.

Injun--At least there's no harm in them.

Mexican--I guess not. Though sometimes I wonder if they are not thieves stealing our most precious vision.

Injun--Perhaps they give vision.

Mexican--Perhaps they steal it.

Injun--At least there will be money here.

Mexican--Yes, enough for a good bottle and a hot woman.
Injun--Yes, first things first.

Whore--Music is the prism of dream and intellect, conflux of the powers of control and command, the movement of spirit worlds and mental constellations: Through it the genius of the extraordinary man flowers on the dry rock of life: It is abstract excursions all men make through the divine pulsations of woman, the passage of inspirational rather than procreational sex, the fourth-dimensional template of the contemplative clitoris. Is it not, gentlemen?

Artist--Where have we met, Janey Brand?

Proprietor--I had not thought you knew my wife.

Artist--Who does not know her? The dark lady of the mysteries.

Proprietor--Her? Look at her! That's no mystery. That's my wife. My wife, who is one of the ten best dressed women because I give her ten million a year for trips to any dressmaker in the world. My wife, the leader of society because my money and power put her there. I see that you are as great a fool as the others. She is merely my wife and is nothing without me.

Artist--Hers are the secret things men hunger for, crawl toward and adulate because I glorify all her mysteries. Because of my imagination, she controls the terrible and the sweet, the nightmarish and delectable powers that rule lives and consume souls. The hidden things, she keeps. The worshiped, sacred things of the earth. Who keeps these keeps all mysteries.

Proprietor--You are an idiot. Hidden? She has something hidden?

Artist--Look what she has.

Proprietor--Seems quite obvious to me, you simple-minded dolt.

Artist--Name them. Name all she has.

Proprietor--How's that?

Artist--Speak out. All you need do is name her secret things.

Proprietor--Are you wired? Out to humiliate me? Trying to trap me? There are other people present, you know. Anyway a man of my position cannot suggest he would ever so descend.

Artist--You fear her sexual being though you strive to keep it trivialized, lobotomized or hidden so you can safely think her mysteries to be nothing. But especially when they are hidden can men walk in superstitious awe imagining something other than what's there. And then you change, you try to analyze and pin down wi th deadened, deadening words, blatantly declaring sex is nothing but a big cock and that ramming it into her is all she really wants when you know it is not. It never is or has been. Because you fear giving sex the admiration, the attention, the genuine respect it forever deserves.

Proprietor--You make too much of this. You always make too much of this! Name her secret things? Hmmm. Of course. Man to man. But not here at any rate. Not to damage my entire family's image. I just happen to have with me the very thing, the great book of Sex with all the best photography, and if you'll just step over here into the washroom with me, I'll show you. And I'll show you words and tell you jokes that will have you laughing your silly self sick.

Artist--It's not words and pictures only, things which never expose the myteries by which she controls all markets so when she makes you a book, any kind of book but especially one like that, you run all about the world after it as at her command. Go ahead now, say the words, all of them, here in the open.

Proprietor--But I tell you it has too much to do with security, with my position which all society strives to help me sustain, the newspapers, the networks. It's why they everyone pitch in to tell all these lies about Diana, JFK, the Serbs, all of them geared to leap in together on a split-second demand and fill the gaps to sustain my most valued of all positions against any minor, medium or major assault. Why else do you think we pay those ass-kissing buggers such tons of money, I'd like to know. You are certainly trying to make trouble for me so it will get back to my associates, and everyone who puts stock in my name will think I am just the sort you would have me seem. And then you know that society will never for a second absolve me.

Whore--Honeybun, you're forgetting how last night at the ball you had me made queen of society.

Artist--Who controls the mystery of her hidden things controls society. Say her words now.

Proprietor--Never! You would destroy security for me, the security of all our future. The thought of words like that being bandied about in my presence makes my head spin. My mind goes numb with the idea that other board members could believe I, yes, even I could spill such garbage forth in public.

Artist--Then I'll say them for you.

Proprietor--You wouldn't! You shouldn't! It will be known! It will be known!

Artist--To begin, first I shall speak of her gorgeous quivering bouncing soft and jelly-like . . .

Proprietor--Stop! Don't say it! I forbid you to vulgarize me before everyone!

Artist--All right then, I shall describe her tender, pliable, palpitating, moist and delirious . . .

Proprietor--Never! Never! It's chaotic! You want to bring chaos down upon all of us! I beg you to desist!

Artist--Do you see it now?

Proprietor--I see it. The intricate structure of all that is elite, all that is special in our world depends on keeping tight control over these essential matters, these most common, most vulgar words.

Artist--Yes, words that are only mere outposts of the heights and depths of her mysteries. Her secret things control men's minds and keep everything we do in order, keeping all things we do on the surfaces looking so spiffy and so candy-striped clean. I have waited so long for her. But we have met before. Where, Janey Brand?

Whore--On the dry rock of the world. In every woman. In the forge. In the structure and design of your most glamorous, glorious buildings.

Artist--And this is the woman that Wright built the Great Rock for, Goff built the Great Gap for, and you built the Great Pie for ?

Proprietor--She refused them all. She cared only for your Great Grot, even though I at first despised it.

Artist--Then she brought us together. You have come to me at last.

Whore--Yes, to see which of you would survive the other.

Proprietor--(to the Artist)--And that is already determined, for I own you now. I have bought your final work, the ultimate realization of your genius.

Artist--You think so. Can you, one speck in the whirlwind of mankind, own the storm that spins you? One leaf in the current own the river that speeds you downstream, one bark in the flood own the sea that ignores you? Possessing my plans, you look forward to living your life out in the realms of my imagination, a replaceable occupant of one dream projected from my brain upon the materials of the world. All branded with my signature. All caught forever in my embrace.

Whore--You forget that we are necessary to complete the dream, that without us who recognize and applaud the power you have wrenched out of life, reshaping it to all that we desire, creating it for us, without us all your work is meaningless.

Proprietor--And so you are beaten. You work for us or you work in a vacuum----you and all you do is emptiness.

Artist--For her, yes, but not for you. You surrender your art for mine, your genius for mine, all your purposes to mine, and you are a mere integer in my world, its servant feeding forever its demands and lighting it for her upon whom all its forces are now as they have always been directed. You have given up everything, her included, to me and all is now mine.

Whore--I knew it would come to this, that against all you could own, all you could control, he would come forth in true possession because the world we know is not just his, it is him, his existence, his dream, just as the glory of my body and of all my gowns, my wrappings are his creation sustained everywhere and on everything by his great signature, so I remain with him.

Artist--You are wrong again. I do not want you separately. He, like a part in a dynamo, is necessary to sustain my work, and he will do it only for you.

Proprietor--Then we are ultimately necessary to one another, and I have the power to preserve or destroy everything you create.

Artist--You will destroy nothing, for without my work you are no more than these outcasts here.

Whore--Who are these creatures?

Artist--My associates. They are my freedom from all that constrains your sort. They are the air I breathe to clear my brain of all the clutter you infest the world with.

Proprietor--You make them more than us?

Artist--No, I make you more than them. And without me you lose all contact with the life that is theirs. You would wither and perish like weeds denied the rain and cut off from the sun.

Whore--Pah! I cannot endure their presence. Send them away or we will have to go.

Proprietor--You belong with us. Ours is the power over the good things of the earth. Forget these beggarly animals.

Artist--That has always been your need. But I cannot afford your dark glasses. Go now, if you want your cave constructed in time.

Whore--You will see. When we open the cave, all the best people, the magnates, the tycoons, the kings, all the very best people will come to celebrate your genius. From them your work will expand into grandeur you could never imagine. If you have achieved so much out of belief in these wretches of the earth, in the proud light of magnificent companions you will become a colossus such as the world has never known, and you and I shall rule all time together.

Artist--I shall leave you to your dream. Come, on the way out I will show you the bronze doors I have made for your cave, and then I must work.

Whore--How I worship the sound of your voice when you say that word work. All the world's slaves will fall down when they see how I am glorified by the hands of the true worker. Ah, romance, how it exalts me!----(Exeunt)


Injun--Have you seen this before?

Mexican--Yes, in the conquistadors and the old Aztec kingdom, the same scene, same characters, same words only different actors.

Injun--I suppose they've played it everywhere.

Mexican--On the Nile, the Tigris, the Tiber, the Thames, everywhere.

Injun--Will he go with them?

Mexican--No. He knows he cannot. He must return to us.

Injun--Yes. As long as we are here he will return to us.



(CURTAIN)



SCENE IV

(An American Stage)


Frontiersman--All right. Let's talk to these people.

African-American--But these are white people. Maybe a few Afro-Americans, but these are not my people. I want you to talk to my people.

Frontiersman--No, these are what you call your people. There is no difference.

African-American--Yes, there is a difference. They make us different from them.

Frontiersman--Who is they? They observe difference out of a dream that is sameness, a dream of foolishness and waste. The foolishness and waste of one is the foolishness and waste of any other. Foolishness and waste are admired and emulated, one by another, and there is no difference.

Actor--This is insufferable! Both of you, all of you, I've got to speak! Back----back now, don't try to stop me. Something must be said here and I'm going to say it. I'm going to speak. I've got to speak.

African-American--Who is this man?

Frontiersman--Obviously he is one of their exhibitionists.

Actor--No more of your disparaging remarks there. I've had enough, we've all had too much of this. I've had more than I can endure and I'm positively going to speak out.

Frontiersman--We are . . .

Actor--No, no, don't try, you can't shut me up. I know this is a terrible thing I've done leaping upon an American stage like this but I've passed the Rubicon, the die is cast and I'm going to speak out in the . . . speak out in the name . . . in the name of humankind.

Frontiersman--We are wait . . .

Actor--Get back, don't come near me. Force will do no good. I will scream for the management. I'll disrupt everything.

Frontiersman--We are waiting to hear what you have to say.

Actor--No . . . you . . . oh . . . well . . . what I have to say . . . oh God, I've forgotten my lines . . . I had some lines, some lines I made up myself. Oh yes, my lines are, what right have you to come out on an American stage and heap abuse on your fellow countrymen and . . . and . . . there's more but . . . oh yes, do you call this theatre?

Frontiersman--Who are you?

Actor--I am an actor! There, now you know. I am an actor, so you can't fool me. You may fool all these other dear people, but not me----Oh, no. I know all there is to know about theatre and this is not theatre. Definitely. No, there's nothing theatrical about this. You people mean business. I saw through you right away. Right away. Yes, that's right, I've played many parts, many, many parts, many grand leads, many worlds have I created. But . . . what was I going to say . . . oh, yes . . . There is a sacred trust . . . a . . . uh . . . lines, lines (snaps fingers) . . . a responsibility, that's it, a responsibility. I am responsible in myself for what happens, whatever happens on the American stage and I refuse to allow this obscenity to continue.

Frontiersman--Are these people friends of yours?

Actor--Of course, why yes. I love you all! I really do, sir, yes I do. I love them all. I like to think of each one as a gorgeous world of feeling and wonder. Just look at them. Look at all those loveable worlds, rows and rows and rows of them night after night city after city after city making up the grand exalted audiences of the earth. I love them. I love them for they come to me. They come to me and I expand existence for them. I am your escort through regal vistas of your own unbounded imaginations, you dear people. With the magic of my words and gestures, my varying costumes, the eloquent settings in which I appear, simple or grand as the case may be, the amazing characterizations I present to invigorate their minds, enliven their spirits, enrich their souls, I transform their beings. Catharsis , laughter and diversion I give. Wisdom, wit and manners I teach. The amenities I mirror, the evils I expose, the ills I . . .

Frontiersman--Can you do these things for my friend and me?

Actor--I could were you part of the audience.

Frontiersman--We shall be. Come, let us see what this man can do for us.

African--American--But this is not what we came for.
Frontiersman--Everything we find is what we came for. We are waiting for you to do it.

Actor--Most willingly. But not for you alone, you understand, for everyone present. For all of you, my friends, a spontaneous demonstration of my art. Without introduction or fanfare, I shall undertake to entertain you, even perhaps to amaze you----for I feel myself in rare form tonight! Yes, I shall, I promise you, astound you with a rousing performance of . . . with a . . . Hmmm! Well, there just isn't a script handy . . . no director . . . no . . . uh . . . B ut what of that, I know so many parts . . . What shall I play? What would you, sir, find most appealing?

Frontiersman--You.

Actor--Me?

Frontiersman--Yes. I want to see what you can do for me.

Actor--Then name some role you would like me to play. Hamlet? Lear? Old Oedipus or Hercules in his agony? Or perhaps one of the moderns, Old Krapp or Snakeskin or something out of Genet or Albee? What would you have?

Frontiersman--You.

Actor--Do you see, dear friends, do you see? This is the evil that is ruining our theatre today, hecklers! Mean-minded little would-be critics unresponsive to the grandeur of man who neither see nor desire to see brought before their eyes those brooding figures of truth, the really valid instances of mankind that exalt us and make us worthy.

Frontiersman--Are you not a valid instance of mankind?

Actor--I? Of course not. I am only an actor.

Frontiersman--Then you can do nothing for me or for any of these.

African-American--Are you looking for some one?

Frontiersman--She should have made her appearance by now. I had thought that was her cue.

Actor--It's not what I do, you fool. It is what these great figures of drama do.

Frontiersman--What are these figures? Bring them before me.

Actor--Oh what a sour pickle you are. Bring them before me he says.

Frontiersman--Can you do nothing but talk?

Actor--All right, as you wish. First I will bring you Prince Hamlet.

Hamlet-- O let the stricken deer go weep The hart ungall'd play,
For some must watch while some must sleep Thus runs the world away!

Frontiersman--Tell me, Prince Hamlet, are these people friends of yours?

Hamlet--I have but one friend, Horatio; and I do not believe he is among these.

Frontiersman--Prince Hamlet, can you tell my friend and me, are you more meaningful than these people?

Hamlet--When I lived, I, like you, was merely one in the millions of men, none more meaningful than another. Just as one thought in the mind of God is no larger than another.

Frontiersman--Was your father more meaningful?

Hamlet--My father cursed me.

Frontiersman--Was your mother?

Hamlet--My mother forgot me. My love proved a steamingly rank young bitch, naive as a female goat, and her brother a tailored guttersnipe, the court a cesspool of orchestrated fools and me a madman among them. Can you not see how great was my sorrow?

Frontiersman--Yours must be then unlike any other.

Hamlet--For the reason that it is most meaningless.

Frontiersman--Then can you tell us why you are thought to be so much more meaningful than they?

Hamlet--Just for that.

Frontiersman--What's that?

Hamlet--They deem themselves meaningless. Having no belief in themselves, they are left in the mystery of the meaningless. They believe, as they must, since they have nothing else, in that mystery. So it is that in me they find the ritual of their belief.

Frontiersman--Why in you?

Hamlet--Why, my dear fellow, can't you see? I am the sacrificial goat whose ego appalls them, whom they secretly hate for I diminish myself to no idea, no idea of any doting love for Ophelia or respect for her oafish brother. What, I, a living man subject to a mere item of furnishing in the vast inventory of my thought? I, a man, possess them all. All ideas of mine find their existence only in me and because of me, and I forever enlarge myself to encompass more. Shall I then be diminished by some colored marble in my pocket, some bit of strange lace, some one amazing shell among the many I have lifted on the shores of meaning? No, there is no idea so immense, so powerful that I do not, in grasping, make myself greater than, and I will not come to my knees its puking, wailing, mewling subject. Oh yes, they say.. You will, they say. You must. And without heeding me, without thought of man, they summon forth all their contrived and systematized universe in the incredible visitation of my father's ghost! Who can deny him? Who can resist him, face to face? My father! And so they come to watch me pulled below myself to their meaningless level by meaningless traditions out of the mouth of my ghostly father in beautiful words, words, words so entirely meaningless. You cannot conceive my rejoicing each time I pierce the gutbag of that great ass Polonius, that pig of all whore-slaves forever gumming his exorbitant cud of words, the words so cherished by these. That act is the one moment in my life of true satisfaction.

Frontiersman--Quite meaningless.

Hamlet--True. But what they make of all their children, so my father's ghost, my mother made of me. Meaningless.

Frontiersman--Then you can do nothing for us.

Actor--What the hell do you mean, nothing for you! That was Hamlet! If Hamlet is meaningless, he is still the most meaningfully meaningless figure in the western world.

Frontiersman--The greatest zero of them all.

Actor--Yes. No. No, wait , I'll give you Othello.

African-American--Who is it?

Frontiersman--You will see. She will come soon.

Actor--In Othello we find the robust virility of the heroic, passionate brute, like a black panther in the maiden's boudoir, the tormented eyes searching the breast of Desdemona . . .

Frontiersman--Do you love me?

Actor--I beg your pardon?

Frontiersman--You said to us that you love all mankind.

Actor--I do! My magnificent audience, my admirers, my worshippers who praise me, enrich me, celebrate me.

Frontiersman--I do not admire, worship, praise, enrich or celebrate you. Do you love me?

Actor--Hell, no! Get off the stage!

African-American--We were here before you.

Actor--That does not matter. What does matter is who is wanted here now, you or I, and your kind are not wanted on the American stage today.

Frontiersman--At one time, the American stage couldn't exist without us.

Actor--Ah-hah! Has-beens! That explains all this pretentiousness, this foolish parade of imagined prerogatives. Can't your kind be made to realize you are no longer wanted? Your day is done. You're out, out. Therefore depart. Take yourselves out before I have the ushers hurl you forth bodily.

Frontiersman--It is as I told you. They have no need of us and will hear nothing from us. And they can give nothing to us unless we commit ourselves to the same foolishness as they.

Actor--Ignorance. Uneducated, provincial ignorance. It is like you back-country people to assume that your ignorance gives you regal advantage over these your cultural betters. Admit you are blind! Admit that you haven't the least knowledge of what my values are to these present! Why do they admire me? Why do they love me?

Frontiersman--How can they love you when they do not love themselves?

Actor--You speak in riddles only to hide your ignorance.

Frontiersman--Do they not seek you to take them out of themselves?

Actor--I think I said as much.

Frontiersman--To invigorate their dull minds, to enhance their dead spirits, to enrich their impoverished souls they need you and the ideas you bring. They desire you to transform their beings, and why? Because those beings are dull, dead, impoverished and they do not love themselves. How can they love you?

Actor--Not so! Not so at all. These are my friends because they are my admirers. They love me because of the parts I play, the beauty and grandeur of life I present them.

Frontiersman--Then are they not fools to think there is not enough beauty and grandeur in their lives that they need you to give it to them?

Actor--You would deprive them of my services. Think what you're asking. Think what dreadful loss the absence of my services would be to man.

Frontiersman--I have thought . I have thought much of man no longer a slave to his servants, to those who want only to spend their lives blacking his shoes, draping his body, rearranging hi paths, instructing his mind, guiding his soul and embalming his corpse. I have thought too much of this creature whose genius goes to keeping a world of servants well fed, content, and smiling. I want no more of him.

Actor--You ask too much! Like all your hard-shelled kind, you ask too much of men. The cruel life you demand, the hard life that is your way would destroy these my poor, weak fellow-Americans who need entertainment, comfort and services, someone present and willing to satisfy all their needs. T hey want happiness. Is that too much to ask? That's why I'm here, to give them that happiness. They come to me for that as they go to their doctor when they're sick, their lawyer when they're caught , their architect when they . . .

Frontiersman--And they make their doctors into pretentious gods of their bodies, their lawyers into tyrants over their affairs, their architects into supermen and Zarathustras, adulating and subjecting themselves to the whims of their servants. And what do they really care for them? What do they care for you, other than the dreams you conjure up? Smell your fingers.

Actor--What?

Frontiersman--Smell them.

Actor--Well.

Frontiersman--Do you like that smell?

Actor--Not especially.

Frontiersman--Do you like the smell of these people?

Actor--What if I don't? So what?

Frontiersman--Would you the smell of roses?

Actor--What fool doesn't like roses?

Frontiersman--People are liked who smell like roses, but not who smell like people. They do not like you when you are you, only when you become a dream for them. They are not your friends. They are the friends of dreams that never existed.

Actor--All right, so the bastards don't give a damn about me. Well, I'll tell you something. I don't care a damn bout them. They are never anything but a mob of faces and hands, and I love only the dreams I create for them.

Frontiersman--Do you create the dreams?

Actor--Leave the stage, please.

Frontiersman--First tell me who creates the dreams.

Actor--Great artists create the dreams. I bring the dreams to life.

Frontiersman--You bring nothing to life. You care nothing for life, only for the dreams the artist creates. You all live in the dreams of the artist in fear of life, in contempt of life.

Whore--Lies! No more lies! We have come to you for an evening's entertainment and you have subjected us to abuse and lies. Who are you to intrude upon our stage with nothing to offer but villification? Do as the man says, get off the stage!

Frontiersman--Yes, it is time you appeared.

African-American--Who is she?

Frontiersman--She is the one for whom we've been waiting.

Whore--What are you saying there? Are you talking of me? Let me look at you. Who are you?

Frontiersman--What do you see?

Whore--I see nothing. Merely an ugly man with the prejudices of a cultureless provincial. What do I see when I look at the likes of you? The clods along back-country roads. The lumps of bestial humanity half-naked in mountain country. Mean-minded horse traders of empty prairies and penniless vagrants staring empty-eyed from freight cars. You are of that ilk, dirt under kthe feet of men creative and powerful, men who shape the world and the race of man into exotic existences, men worthy of history, of achievement, of genius.

Frontiersman--Men who, every one, serve you.

Whore--True! How did you come to that? But then all men, even you would have known that that is true. Deep down they know it. Why did you say you have been waiting for me?

Frontiersman--Do not all men wait for you?

Whore--You know, you're not so bad-looking in a dehydrated sort of way. What are you good at?

Frontiersman--I've done a little bit of everything.

Whore--Now is that a fact? Well, well! Really? Everything?

Frontiersman--Everything.

Whore--Was it well-done, honey-bun?

Frontiersman--It did the job.

Whore--Including all the things decent people would be ashamed of?

Frontiersman--Shame was one of your concoctions. I never had use for the word.

(She examines him closely.)

Whore--What have you ever done for me?

Frontiersman--Everything I ever did finally came into your possession.

Whore--Willingly?

Frontiersman--Yes.

Whore--Because it was inevitable?

Frontiersman--Yes.

Whore--I know you.----(She laughs derisively.)

Frontiersman--And I know you. I have heard your laughter in the night.

Whore--Just out of interest, who am I?

Frontiersman--The great whore.

Actor--Barbarian! Fool!----(He attacks the Frontiersman only to be fended off by indifferent fingertips.)----Don't you know that this great lady is the author of our etiquette, that her book of propriety and manners is in every decent home in the land? You self-righteous boor, you should be beaten!----(He tries again with greater energy but with similar results.)

Whore--Wait, no, wait! Really, this is quite amusing. Stop that nonsense! He entertains me.

Actor--He entertains you?

Whore--Who do you think he is?

Actor--A has-been, a narrow-minded puritan condemning everything and everyone not in his t tormented frame of superstition and bigotry.

Frontiersman--She also wrote the book of the puritans.

Actor--Those poisonous hypocrites, hating the world and closeted in the worship of their own goodness?

Frontiersman--Her book told them their goodness like her books tell you your goodness. All appetites are satisfied by her. All appetites, including your hunger for goodness. She is whore to all your lies.

Actor--I cannot bear your insults to her. Usher! Usher! Eject this man from the theatre!

Whore--Fool! Leave this man alone! He acknowledges me more than any of you.

Actor--But he called you . . .

Whore--The whore of goodness! Is that not ridiculous? Words I never hoped to hear. Such meaningless-meaningful words amaze me. And coming from him they are beautiful to me. precious to me, precious in their irony and precious in their tone. For there is a certain tone. Do I not detect it? Is it not so? An unbelievable tone of submissiveness. Speak some more. Speak! What further can you say of me?

Frontiersman--The lie of romantic Dixieland and her tiny history of no more than all that forty years of Southern virginity and honor from the stolen world of the Cherokees.

Whore--And now?

Frontiersman--You order spread everywhere so the last muddy street in the world is paved to protect your dainty shoes.

Whore--Then it's true. You are surrendering. You have surrendered! Say it! You've given it all up and it's mine. You give everything to me.

Frontiersman--It is all yours.

Whore--Can it be? Have I won and the struggle is over? My hatred and loathing have at last won over you, even you?

Frontiersman--You have taken all, all you ever desired.

African-American--(breaking through the others to reach him)--What is that you are saying? What do you mean?

Frontiersman--She is what we have come for.

Whore--And I accept it. I accept it all! All that you give!! For me, for my smiles, my endearments, my charms, and all the mysteries I command. For my approval, all great creations, the cities, the wars, the arts, the great processions, all our nations are now created and it is good. I assure you, my children, my lovers, that all our great works are good.
And now, let us forget this meaningless farce. Let us all be gay! Tonight I am giving a party, a little orgy in my new home, the unbelievable accomplishment of that great artist you all know and love. It was to have been for a select throng of my closest friends, rulers of state and rulers of rulers, you know, that sort of thing. But now we shall everyone quit this dismal theatre and together go. They make the most adorable little cranes and hoists these days. Everyone ready? All right, take us away, engineers!--(to the Frontiersman)--You too are invited, if you like?

Frontiersman--I shall come.

Whore--Of course you know what it means.

Frontiersman--Your mark on my forehead.

Whore--Are you willing?

Frontiersman--I am completely aware of what I am doing.

Whore--I will have you carrying trays for me and my guests. You and your friend. Come along.----(She goes out with the Actor, but the Frontiersman is stopped by the African-American as he starts.)

African-American--You will let that woman mark you?
Frontiersman--Does it worry you?

African-American--I will not submit myself to her. Not for my life!

Frontiersman--You wished to come here. This is what it means to join your people.

African-American--(turning to leave them all, then coming back to the Frontiersman)--I will not accept it. Let them go! You and I together are enough.--(after a pause, staring after the Whore)--We will leave now.

Frontiersman--No. Let us see it through. There are others like us here.



(CURTAIN)


SCENE V

(The Great Grot)

(The drunken, almost insane laughter of the Proprietor began to be heard after the Frontiersman's last line in Scene IV and continues now until finally he comes on with the Artist.)

Proprietor--(with the laughter)--It is even more than I had hoped for. I am mesmerised by the raw beauty of my home, your work, our creation. I am dying to see all of it.

Artist--You can never see it all. Between the multitude of chambers, the vestibules and tunnels form a shifting maze which never lets you into the same room through the same door, and that room will have changed so, changed as the earth changes, that you cannot recognize it.

Proprietor--Magnificent! How could one be bored? You've created an order indistinguishable from chaos. But in this plastic and steel labyrinth, what do we do to find one another?

Artist--Here you'll not need one another. This is paradise! Every woman belongs to every man, so there's no need for seeking.

Proprietor--And of course, the food . . .

Artist--The shopping complex that makes up the level below answers the needs of all.

Proprietor--And this little button rids me of my guests?

Artist--Yes. In the morning when all are lost in the confusion of drink, sex and the labyrinth, the button will bring them to this, the main room and the exit.

(At this point, nuclear explosions from above are heard, shaking the room and making them clutch one another and staggzer about. As the long reverberations come to an end, the Whore comes on to join the Artist and the Proprietor.)

Whore--Yes, we all got here. And just in time, too. Yeltsy, Yeltsy, Yeltsy, I never thought you'd do it, you naughty, naughty boy! I really didn't think you'd have the nerve. And with hydrogens, too, rather than nitrogens. The very idea! That darling Senator Horn----Oh, there he is!----(pointing into audience)----promised me that nitrogens would be quite nice, killing only people, and not injuring our beautiful architetecture. Oh well, it doesn't really matter. We all got out of it, and we're safe in here, perfectly safe. We can all feast and dance and sing and fuck to our heart's content until the fires stop burning. Even then----even then, why should we leave? No, I've got the cutest idea! Why, we'll stay. What could be more heavenly than living forever in this beautiful, meaningful world of art? For this is truly paradise!

Proprietor--If that is the case, then we'll not need this button.

Artist--(frightened)--Wait! Let me be certain of something! Servants!----(The Mexican and the Injun come on.)

Mexican--What do you want?

Artist--Yes, they are here.----(to the Proprietor)----Do whatever you wish.

Proprietor--Then if you are satisfied, I'll simply smash the jolly old button.----(He proceeds to do so.)

(The Frontiersman and the African-American come on.)

Artist--And you. Even you have come.

Frontiersman--Yes, even I am here.

Artist--What do you think of my work?

Frontiersman--This is my work.

Proprietor--How's that? What are you saying there?

Frontiersman--This is the last home I built on this earth, the cave I dug, the rock-garden arrayed diggings I had on these plains among the Injuns where your kind had driven us all, stealing everything from everybody just as your ancestors stole and denigrated the world of enchantment the Hellenes, the greatest of all frontierspeople, created. Even some of these vines and flowering plants I myself planted.

Proprietor--(to the Artist)--Is this true?

Artist--Of course. The beginnings have always been his. I have merely expanded upon his work.

Proprietor--Do not tell me this! I refuse to listen!

Artist--But what I have done makes all the difference. Look! I have given it art. I have made it all historic! Meaningful!

Whore--You have made it a paradise!

Proprietor--Then it is no longer his. We can forget him.

Whore--Yes, forget him.

Frontiersman--You cannot forget what you've never known.

Whore--(pointing to the Injun and the Mexican)--But look, these two do not have the mark!

Artist--Leave them alone. You try to mark them and there will be trouble.

Whore--There is trouble already. One soul here without the mark will start the others objecting. Different ideas will crop up again. Soon they will not listen to me, and each of them will start doing things a little differently until in an avalanche of rebellion you'll have us all again in the same agony of individuals everywhere.

Artist--I'll not have you marking these, I tell you. I cannot live without these as they are.

Whore--Anyone without the mark will appear more meaningful than the crowd and will be followed----even them.

Frontiersman--I will eliminate this trouble for you.

Whore--You have no power here. You are no longer necessary.

Frontiersman--It still remains to me to eliminate this trouble for you.

Whore--Ohhh, yes. Now I see!

Artist--That can only mean that you will take the mark. That all will take the mark. But how can you?

Frontiersman--It is true than I am no longer necessary here, just as the Hellenic framework of man was no longer necessary when the smallest structure possible usurped the souls of men. Staying among the lot of you, I am subject to that structure and so I will do what is necessary.
Artist--But no mark upon these others. It is enough that you take it.

Whore--And you!

Artist--Are you speaking to me?

Whore--To you.

Artist--That's ridiculous. You are out of your mind.

Whore--You, my greatest conquest!

Artist--But that is complete nonsense. Altogether, complete nonsense.

Whore--Look out there!----(pointing to the audience)----Look at all those faces. Do you see their masks?

Artist--Why, why, they all have my face!

Proprietor--(taking from the Artist's face. The Artist's mask may be made up of welding goggles or anything inspiration allows ands the Proprietor now takes some of it and puts in on himself.)--Yes, even I accept your face, your way. Observe!

Artist--How can this be?

Whore--In my paradise, all are re-created in the image of the creator, even the creator himself. This is the ultimate key to my mysteries.

Artist--(to the Frontiersman)--And you? Will you wear my face?

Frontiersman--And so it seems that anyone subject to this place of yours must give up all that he is to you, even his face.

Artist--(Amazed and walking along the edge of the stage overwhelmed by his own egotism, the Whore holding his hand as he stares out at the audience, turning again at the far side of the scene to stare back at them all and hold forth his hand like the statue of Tiberius Caesar.)----Then I will accept the mark!

Whore--You darling! I knew you were a good boy, a perfect dear! Now, if the engineers will simply lower the lights a bit, it's very quickly done, really, but there are many in the crowd who would be embarrassed to see again how they got their own little marks. Just step around here behind like a good little sweetheart, and I'll just bend over and hoist my skirts. Press firmly now! Ummmmm! That's so nice! There you are! Lights! Lights! Ahhhh! It didn't hurt a bit, my little poopsy boy, and ohh! such a nice, clear, unquestionable mark!

African-American--What is this abominable action?

Frontiersman--The mark on the forehead given by the whore who hold the cup of their mysteries, supposedly created by him. The beast upon which the whore rides are these people in their sameness, in their loss of individual soul and individual spirit.

Whore--And now I command all mysteries of creation. Nothing can be meaningful without me.

Artist--(gesturing toward the Frontiersman, becoming suspicious)--You have still to mark him.

Whore--But he has altogether deceived you. He will never accept my mark. Look at him. He is leaving, even now.

Artist--That's impossible! You can't go out! Everyone is dead out there, anyone who goes out will die!

Frontiersman--The same words I have always heard upon departure.

Artist--But this time nothing awaits you but death.

Frontiersman--Death and I are old companions.

Whore--Romantic rot! Let ëim go. And let ëim take these animals with him. Let them all die. What does it matter while we have life?

Artist--Without him I am nothing! Without him I am rootless! I cannot live without real creatures, creatures that live next to the reality of life and without them there is none. Make them all stay or I die!

Frontiersman--Unless you go with us you will not die. You will continue as will these your creations, mere echoes, mere repetitions.

Artist--But you take my freedom! You take away the air I need to breathe!

Frontiersman--Breathe in the meaningless concept of freedom as you always have. Freedom is all the responsibilities you have denied. Freedom is a bitter reality, and I will not remain in these dungeons of dreams you call paradise.

Injun--Right. I go before you.

Mexican--And I.----(to the African-American)----Are you coming, brother

African-American--Then these are my people!----(to the Frontiersman)----Do not wait too long. We shall need you.

Frontiersman--(collecting all their masks of pride as they leave, showing only the slit-eyed masks that the man of the new world order identifies with terrorism)----I will soon join you.

Proprietor--But you're taking our servants! Do not let them out!----(He tries to stop them but is thrown back by the Frontiersman.)----Damn you, now I see your intent. You want to leave us in a homogeneous hell. We'll go mad here with no one to serve us, no one beneath us. I beg you! Please! For the sake of god, or whoever you are, do not go from us!

Frontiersman--I am not your servant, nor do I tolerate servants. When necessary I take my pain. When necessary I take my death. If you wish, you may join us outside.

Proprietor--Never. But you will not leave us with no comfort, no relief.

Frontiersman--Here is your comforter, your artist with his visions, his dreams. He will make new idols for you, new rituals, new ways of entertaining you, and you can, while pretending to remember, forget me, this time forever.----(He lays between himself and the others the collected masks of pride, including his own, revealing the final, faceless mask of the others.)

Proprietor--No! He has said he can do nothing without you. You mock us, you condemn us to misery!

Frontiersman--You have chosen.----(He follows the others out.)

Artist--Wait! I will go with you! Wait!

Whore--Seize him! If he escapes, we are lost!----(There is a struggle. screams, howls, curses, with the Artist expressing ultimate despair until he is born down to where he tears at himself furiously.)

Proprietor--Stop him! He is killing himself!

Whore--Hold him, can't you see that's what he wants, hold him!

Artist--Let me die! I cannot live the half-life of you phantoms, you figures in my brain, let me die now!

Proprietor--For us you must live. You must work again for us, bring excitement and life to us. This is your greatest challenge. You cannot ignore it, for you love us, we who worship your creations, more than him.

Artist--I did not ask for this! He must believe me, I would have died with him.

Whore--You would not have died. Silly boy, beating your head on the floor like a baby., You are glad he's gone. Admit it. You love us more than him.

Artist--(to himself and to the audience)--Did he know that?----(to the others)----Did he know that when you held me back from death I would be glad? Is that what he desires?

Whore--You are glad we saved you. You are glad of us.

Artist--He knew! Yes, I see it now! He knew everything! And now he has gone out to death to give us our perfect freedom. Yes, I see! He has saved us! Here, he left us their faces to guide our way.----(toward the place of their exit)----Oh thank you, thank you! World of wonders, I feel all my powers returning!

Proprietor--Tell us. Just tell us. What must we do?

Artist--Again he has provided the beginning. And now I shall make it all new again. I shall create the dream! Give me some darkness!

(Lights fade out as the music heard at the beginning starts up once more, playing on, rising in volume as the darkness increases, rising to an unbearable crescendo and abruptly stopping. Silence. A silence in which we hear the voice of the Artist saying the lines of the beginning, although the voice heard in the beginning was the voice heard all through this performance of the play speaking the words of the Frontiersman.)

Voice of the Artist--I see it all now. Here is what you must do. You take the part of the Injun, you take the part of the Mexican, and I will play the part of the Fronttersman. Quick, everyone! Places! We're going to start the show. Quiet now. Quiet, everyone.

(Laughter, chaotic laughter breaks out, and two heads, masks of insanity, grinning, grimacing, enormous teeth protruding, emerge from the center of the newly lit curtain. These figures, wrapped entirely in black, leap into the audience to vanish so they seem later to fill the theatre with their laughter, beginning everything again so that once it starts, it never ends.)