A Mayfest New Writing Commission and on tour May - August 1992
Directed by Paula McGee
Bread and Circuses are writer-performers: Janet Paisley, Mary McCann, Catherine Orr, Graham McKenzie, Alison Reid
Five people on a train - going nowhere?
Using new writing, poems, prose and monologues, five writers take an exploratory journey through the many implications of a word.
Stick examines Scottish nationalism, culture and attitudes, and the nation's relationship with England.
As with all Bread and Circuses shows, each writer writes their own words. In Stick characters are played as follows: May - Mary McCann. Mhairi - Catherine Orr. Teri - Alison Reid. Booker - Graham McKenzie. Ros - Janet Paisley.
<box 80% round prose | Extract - Stick> (SOUND OF TRAIN TRAVELLING LIGHTS FLICKER ACROSS SET, SUGGESTING LIT WINDOWS OF CARRIAGES SPEEDING PAST IN THE NIGHT)
BOOKER: Stick: verb - past tense & past participle: stuck;
TERI: thrust point of pin, weapon in, into, through; insert pointed thing into; stab; spear;
MHAIRI: fix on pointed thing; be fixed - by point, into or on; put in specified position:
ROS: Stick out, up - protrude; cause to project; be; make erect:
MAY: Stick up for - maintain cause or character of; champion: Stick up - rob with violence, hold-up:
BOOKER: Stick up: noun - fix, become or remain fixed, as by adhesion to surfaces;
TERI: cause to adhere or cleave; endure, bear:
MHAIRI: Stick at, or to it - persist, not cease trying:
ROS: Stick-in-the-mud - slow, unprogressive:
MAY: Stick: Lose or deprive of power of motion.
(TRAIN FADES DOWN TO COMFORTABLE VOICE OVER LEVEL, SPOTLIGHT PICKS OUT MAY)
MAY: A stone wall lies between us.
I hammered. Fractured. Broke it down.
You shouldered chips to my house.
Roughcast my outside walls.
With bleeding hand you tipped your cap.
With bleeding heart I bled you dry.
Ass tailed to back, you carted rocks.
Brought them back to my house.
You always were my treasure.
You built extensions to my house.
Killed white men. Black and brown for me.
I lift my glass. Salute a brick.
Don't cast a stone. You hod. At me.
Plum in my mouth. I sheath your dirk.
Ornament your tartan trews.
(I always was a fine leg. Of mutton
Dressed as lamb.)
Digest with ease. Your national dish.
Goodness. Have I perhaps offended you?
How doth my kiltie dreep!
Take no offence. I won't heap cairns of sorrow,
on you dissipated pate.
Swing on MacDuff. I won't ask what lies under it.
I say. You are an easy target.
Now raise your head. Bagpipe me into breakfast.
Enhance my train. Place me in the first class section.
Roll out your carpet red. I walk. Proud footed.
Through your stations. Backed up by flowers of Scotland.
A man would wish. That he were dead.
(TRAIN SOUND SWELLS AND FADES AS SPOTLIGHT PICKS OUT MHAIRI)
MHAIRI: Dear Penelope
I need help. This is a sincere plea.
My husband i.e. meal-ticket for life
has just grown out of me.
I know I've not a lot to offer,
getting older now,
but I'll try, though I may suffer
to make my own way -
could some talent spotter please apply.
I've got this thing for colour -
the sea, the earth, the sky.
I'll lodge them in jewels, paint
silk. I could make you such style.
What do you think?
A new man, or is it time to plan
a new life? Me, a new wife,
married to my art.
I need help.
(TRAIN SOUND SWELLS AND FADES AS SPOTLIGHT PICKS OUT TERI)
TERI: Nice cover on this book makes it really appealing. Synchronicity nice idea. Wonder what these other folks are thinking.Could be we're all tuned into the same vibe. The same clocks ticking to the same beat. Or like synchronised swimmers, legs in the air inside our heads. Somewhere at the centre of things there's a great pool bubbling like a cauldron, simmering with ideas and happenings. Wow! I saw a butterfly this morning settled right outside my window. Butterflies are symbols of the soul, so I woke up. Sat up and thought Yes go. There's your soul in the garden, hovering above the pool. Let's go. Today. So I set out. Kicking my heels. Full of joi de vivre and all that madness. My soul was fluttering to get started. To get off. So I packed and here I am. Travelling North.
(TRAIN SOUND SWELLS AND FADES AS SPOTLIGHT PICKS OUT BOOKER)
BOOKER: You can't fix it. You can't make it go away. I don't know what you're going to do about it. But I know what I'm going to do about it. I'm just going to walk away from it. Maybe? Maybe a small part of it will die if I'm not around feeding it any more.
(TRAIN SOUND SWELLS AND FADES AS SPOTLIGHT PICKS OUT ROS)
ROS: I am hard pressed against your wall,
breast bruised, winded. Trumpetless
and torn, I fall away. Now,
limping the long path home, I am sworn
to not return. No more ditches, I'm done
with seeking warmth from grave trenches
where chill ices bone. Don't look for me
in shallow morning coffee cups, don't reach
for any telephone. The end of it
is ringing out - loneliness, you split me
with an incaculable ache of it.
The axe-welt flowers open, blood-free,
tear-free, blossoming with pain. Oh,
and I stood, again and again, absorbing
the blunted stun of such sharp force
as would have had you scream release.
Touch me, hold me, meet me whole
- unspoken words, you couldn't read
any need of mine. Our world spins down
to balance on the pinpoint of your fear;
Jerico. And I of no discernable account,
betrayed by every faithless night.
But now I'll rewrite history,
keep safe behind your walls
while I remove to bind the gaping wound
you would not fill. I will re-make
a kind of wholeness in the silence,
soundless, leave no music in your soul.
(SPOTLIGHT CUTS. TRAIN NOISE FADES UP AND BECOMES SOUND OF BRAKING AS THE TRAIN GRINDS TO A HALT. LIGHTS UP)
MAY: We've stopped.
ROS: My, ye're quick, in't ye.
MAY: Very droll, Ros. I don't think we're at a station.
ROS: Thae'll be lichts, or somethin.
MAY: Don't see any.
ROS: Up aheid. Ye ken. A rid wan. Walk, dinnae walk. Cross, dinnae cross. Drive, dinnae drive. A sign. Rid. Meanin stoap.
MAY: In the middle of nowhere?
ROS: (looks out window) Ye're richt.
ROS: Middle o naewhaur. I recognise it. </box>