- See more at: http://www.bloggerhow.com/2012/07/implement-open-graph-in-blogger-blogs.html#sthash.xZkXNjhB.dpuf W. Simmons & Associates: The Rules of Engagement

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Rules of Engagement

a short play in four acts
By Kevin Six

Synopsis: The Rules of Engagement is a study of women in conflict.It takes place alternately in “fantasy” where things are more real and in your face with swordplay, rules of engagement, winners and losers; and “reality” where things are more gray. There is a lot of fighting

Cast of Characters: Seven actresses play 12 roles, five of them appear in fantasy and reality.Two men can be played by actors or the actresses playing Katarina and Mary Ann.
Goddess/Amy/Amorah
Crone/Sam/Vasia
Mother/Stephanie/Vivia
Katarina (Stephanie’s friend)
Lover/Kerry/Sexta
Mary Ann (Libby and Kerry’s friend)
Daughter/Libby/Presta
Jason (Anton’s Son)
Anton (Jason’s Father)

Fights: Each fight features a different type of weapon and the style associated with it.That will be left to those who know more about these things.Each fight is a duel for a prize.Each prize in “fantasy” is one given by Amy in “reality.”They are all pins that symbolize each state of woman.Daughter fights Lover and takes her place.Lover fights Mother and takes her place.Mother fights Crone and takes her place.Crone fights Goddess and by losing, gets her life to do over.But she keeps the trinkets, the prizes and the teachings they represent.

ACT I
Daughter Becomes Lover
Scene 1
The stage is bare except for a fire upstage center. Above it is an Alter to the Goddess with a platform for her to appear upon.There is a communal space center.
PRESTA enters.She is dressed in fantasy garb and carries a very heavy sword.

PRESTA
Hello?Hello?Is anyone here?
There is no answer.

PRESTA
Hello?I was told you might see me.I was also told you might as easily kill me.I do not what to use my arms.I am here to ask you to help me—

VASIA
To help you win a battle.

VASIA has entered unknown to PRESTA.Her dress is very masculine and it is hard to tell her gender at first – until she fights, at which time she removes the masculine outer garments to reveal her figure.VASIA’S entrance has startled PRESTA who tries vainly to bear the sword.VASIA laughs.

VASIA
Careful young one.If you drop that sword you’ll get quite a headache.

PRESTA
I can use it!I’m the best swordsman in my village.

VASIA
Swordsman?

PRESTA
Yes.I am better than all the boys and men.

VASIA
Are all the others in your village dead then?Or do they let you win because you’re beautiful?

PRESTA
I am not—

VASIA
Of course you are!That’s why it’s so funny to me.Young women do not fight in these parts. Sword play is the charge of young men and a select few Crones, like—

PRESTA
You are not!

VASIA
Of course I am.Look around young one, do you see children?A Husband?No, I have grown to maturity alone and I have earned the right to choose what I do with my life.And most of my freedom was earned with the blade.

VASIA unsheathes a much lighter and probably sharper instrument.PRPESTA is scared but stands to arm.

PRESTA
Do you wish to engage me?

VASIA
If only to see if you can really lift that gatepost you carry.

PRESTA takes up a defensive position.

PRESTA
I haven’t used it much but I was told you are the best swordsman in the country.

VASIA
Swordswoman, young one.I am a woman.Are you sure you want to die a maid?

PRESTA’S blush turns to anger and she charges VASIA who parries, and after a few short moves, disarms and stands over PRESTA ready to strike.She laughs the whole time.

PRESTA
I am not afraid to die!It would be an honor to die at your hand… But…

VASIA
But you came to ask me a favor.

PRESTA
Yes.

VASIA
To help you train.

PRESTA
Yes.

VASIA
So that you can kill a rival.

PRESTA
How did you know?

VASIA helps PRESTA up.

VASIA
Every year about this time, just after the thaw, young men have swallowed their pride and come to have me teach them sword work.Some are sincere, others are cocky.The cocky die a most embarrassing death.

PRESTA
So I am sincere?

VASIA
You are a curiosity to me.You are the first young woman I have seen on this kind of quest.Women come to me but they are of an age where innocence has passed and other desires replace those more traditional ones – some of the ones I assume you are here to see me about.

PRESTA
Will you take me on as a pupil?

VASIA
I don’t know.I don’t even know your name…

PRESTA
Presta.And how should I address you?Master?

VASIA
Never call me Master!Call me Vasia.

PRESTA
But I would be such a good student…

VASIA
What?Fighting like you do, with so much emotion, will get you killed.I am surprised that you are alive today…

PRESTA
You were right.The boys in my village let me win.But I did learn a few things.May I show you?

VASIA
There will be time for that.First, I think I need to hear the story.

VASIA puts a kettle on the fire.

PRESTA
What story?

VASIA
About the young man.And the young woman to whom he’s betrothed.

PRESTA
How did you know?

VASIA
I am not a young woman but I was once and not as long ago as you might think.The man.Is he worth dying for?

PRESTA
Oh, completely.I would do anything to—

VASIA
And the young woman.Your sister?

PRESTA
How did—?Yes.

VASIA
You want to kill your own sister over a man?

PRESTA
She didn’t even know him until I told her about him.She has to be married first so I asked her to hurry and choose so I could marry him.He doesn’t even love her but his parents and mine have made an arrangement.

VASIA
He loves you, then?

PRESTA
Yes… No…I don’t know!I hoped that with my sister out of the way he would have to marry me.It is the custom in our village.

VASIA
You want to kill your sister over a young man who might not even love you?Do you know what comes of a loveless marriage?A loveless life.A bitter and disappointing life.Why would you choose this?

PRESTA
He is the only man who—

VASIA
There will be others!You are young and beautiful.Why have no other men talked to your father?

PRESTA
It is only women in my family.My father was a great soldier.

VASIA
And like all great soldiers he is dead.

PRESTA
Yes.Before I even knew him.But my sister remembers him.He taught her to fight.In my house, I am one of many.Me, my sister, mother, aunt and grandmother.

VASIA
That’s why men don’t come to court?Lots of power in that clan I guess.

PRESTA
You don’t know the half of it.

VASIA
What else?

PRESTA
I lied.I am not the best swortsm—swordswoman in the village.My sister is.All the boys and most of the men have tried her.Mainly to win her hand.But she beats them all – and many carry scars that add to their disappointment.The boys…

VASIA
The boys fight you so that they may learn to best your sister.

PRESTA
Yes.But one won’t fight.

VASIA
This is the one you are here about no doubt.

VASIA pours tea.

PRESTA
Are you gifted with second sight Master Vasia?

VASIA
Vasia will do, Presta.No, I am not gifted in that way.I do have a good connection to the Goddess but I do not have second sight.I can tell your story because it is close to my own.

PRESTA
It is?

VASIA
Yes, young Presta.And mine didn’t have a traditional ending…

VASIA gestures to her clothes, the d├ęcor and the weapons all around.

PRESTA
Did you?Well, what happened?

VASIA
There will be time for that.First we must see what The Goddess has in store for you.Are you willing to submit to her will?

PRESTA
What does that mean?

VASIA
The Goddess knows your life’s plan.If you like, I can ask her for you.Might save you a lot of unnecessary trouble.

PRESTA
Can you do that?

VASIA
Yes.But first you must be purified.

VASIA places herbs on the fire, chief among them sage.PRESTA is led through the flame.

PRESTA
It didn’t even—

VASIA
A good sign to be sure.Now sit here and face the Alter.

The women sit as two points of a triangle, the top of which is the Alter.The Goddess AMORAH appears on the Alter, dressed as a war goddess should be.She is wise, old, fit tough as nails and beautiful—with a large capacity for love.

AMORAH
Peace to those who pronounce the incantations properly.Woe to those who misuse the power of the Goddess Amorah.

VASIA
Amorah.Great Mother.

AMORAH
It is my acolyte.Speak, Vasia.

VASIA
I am here with one who petitions.

AMORAH
Who asks of me?

VASIA nods to PRESTA.

PRESTA
It is I, Great Mother.I am Presta.

AMORAH
Ah!Finally have you come to settle the accounts and fulfill the prophesy.

PRESTA
What?No, I just want your advice on—

AMORAH
Be silent, child and listen while I read the words etched on thy heart, the desire of thy being and the woman you may become if you wish to engage the mind, body, soul and spirit.

PRESTA
I…I don’t know.

VASIA
It’s OK. Just listen to the Goddess.

AMORAH
Presta.Thy will is strong.It confuses my great plan for you.The key that unlocks a door to the Universe is thine for the asking.But you would have Presta be the name be of the greatest to wear the armor and brandish the sword.Thy shield will protect the masses.It is you who must decide the path you choose.One is not ordinary and the other is less so.

PRESTA
But, there’s this guy, see…

VASIA
Great Mother.Amorah.What is your will for young Presta?

AMORAH
Her path is divided by that strong will of hers.To love one or many?To protect the very world or be a citizen of it?She will not remember until her choice has been made.

VASIA
When will the choice be made, Amorah?

AMORAH
When it is made.In time.

VASIA
But what, Great Mother, should we do while we await her enlightenment?

AMORAH
Love or glory.It is her choice.

VASIA
What to do, Amorah, in the time before the choice is made?

AMORAH
What you were born to do, Vasia.What you chose to do right here – in your own time.To train your successor.

VASIA
Mistress!

AMORAH
It is time or it is not time.Together will you know. You know thy path and there are variables for all students.Should she choose her own path, Presta’s leads through you.Teach her all you would to help her and protect the self.

VASIA
Thank you Mother Amorah!

AMORAH disappears and PRESTA comes out of a deep trance.

PRESTA
What a dream I had.Did you commune with the Goddess?Did she enlighten you?

VASIA
Don’t you remember?

PRESTA
I remember a dream that even now fades away so fast it’s frustrating!Tell me.What will we do?

VASIA
We will train.

PRESTA
Master!

VASIA
Call me Teacher.

The lights fade down on the cave and…
…up on a modern day living room.

Scene 2

The Alter has become a fireplace and the communal space a couch and coffee table. There is a wedding shower underway.On the couch is KERRY next to her friend MARY ANN.To one side is KERRY’S Grandmother AMY, her Mother STEPHANIE and STEPHANIE’S friend KATARINA.KERRY opens a present.

KERRY
Oh, Grandma Amy!It’s a beautiful pin.Is it one of yours?

AMY
No, Kerry.I got that years ago and have been waiting for one of my granddaughters to get engaged so I could give it to her.

STEPHANIE
Libby will be so jealous.

AMY
She gets one similar when…

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info@wsimmonsandassociates.com

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