Taking no prisoners. Including herself.

It’s been a long dry spell.
I haven’t performed my own material in over a year. I haven’t written anything new save for journal entries and freewrites since 2010 (and even those have come only with friction). But today, it was time to embark upon new work.

And for this, I am grateful. Water-after-the-desert kind of grateful. Life-saving gratitude.

I was invited to perform at StageWerx in San Francisco next to Marga Gomez and Julia Jackson. Not only honored to share the bill with two accomplished performers, I was told I could perform “anything I was excited about.” I committed to performing something that didn’t yet exist.

Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through undue stress. But it was the right choice to reach this time.

Grandma Utka Moses is a new character of mine, and she is a natural storyteller. She came out to play first at ActionFiction, and then at the last Foundry Nights. Apparently, she’s partial to the Russian surrealists. Here’s the beginning of her story.

 

Man of Sticks

Man of Sticks

(The stage is bare. Someone is supposed to be on it. The lights are on. The audience is waiting. Patience! She’s coming.)

Enter MOSES

(GRANDMA VASHKA UTKA MOSES is your wry old babushka. Dark. Moody. Light-heartedly dark, moody. A woman. She’s a woman. Old. Old, and crumpled up, with a strange Russian/French accent. Where is she from? Somewhere that no longer exists. She lived the world over, and was a baker, seamstress, ship captain, painter, prostitute, grandmother to the town, but childless. She smokes and you know it; her voice cracks and crinkles like crackly-crinkly paper. She loves wine, or Irish Whisk(e)y. She drinks wine, or Irish Whisk(e)y throughout. She is absurd and self-confident. Alive and perfect. She is herself and she will tell your story.)

MOSES approaches stage. Slowly. Very slowly. Painfully slowly. She sits in the chair that has been brought on stage for her, after she had to ask for it. You made Babushka ask for it? Bad boy.

MOSES

(to self) Not so bright. (to audience) Once upon a time, there was a man, sheepherder. This man, he was rapid dwindling into a pile of sticks. This man, who once was large and meaty as a sirloin, every day of his life would lose a little flesh, an inch or two here, an inch or two there, would come off, with every breath.

(inhales slowly. Exhales slowly. Pieces of flesh fall off of various parts of his body and make a wet, juicy sound as the flesh falls to the pavement. Inhales slowly. Exhales, sound of flesh falling.)

He was big boy. (lightly) Very good appetite. So not so big deal for first years. He did not want to worry. (Beat) But every so often, usually around milestone in life, like birthday or new hair cut, he would recognize he need to do something about it. First, he try to eat nothing but cakes for weeks. Stuff his face every day. His Babushka bake many good cake. But no good.

(inhales slowly. Exhales slowly. Pieces of flesh fall off of various parts of his body and make a wet, juicy sound as the flesh falls to the pavement. Inhales slowly. Exhales, sound of flesh falling.)

In the end he gave up.

 

MAN OF STICKS

Tough luck, I guess.

 

MOSES

He called it his “Diminishing Factor.” The factor by which his life was measured as it left his body. Finally nearing his later years, the Diminishing Factor became real problem. When his organs poked through what flesh he had left, the crows would poke back, trying to pick at them like corn. He look almost like scarecrow, which is funny if you think about it. (Pause) One day…

 

 

§1310 · April 10, 2013 · Writing & Language · · [Print]

Leave a Reply