Author : Fredy Perlman
TAPED NARRATOR: The scars left by the environment of hostile and split individuals became open sores. The community closed in on itself, discouraged and demoralized. The fragile unity almost fell to pieces. Inertia set in as the resistance to common projects hardened; creative breakthroughs were no longer made; the period of the commune’s growth seemed to be over.
(From right enter SHARON, DONNA & LEON, now 7 or 8, carrying the components of a puppet stage which they assemble during the scene)
LEON: It ought to go here.
DONNA: Then here it goes. It’s your show.
SHARON: The greatest thrill is being involved in every part of it. Imagine having to just learn lines, or just paint scenery. That would take all the fun out of it.
DONNA: I can see why everyone’s so eager to show you things, Sharon; you’re so full of enthusiasm.
LEON: Steve has a crush on her.
SHARON: Leon! Don’t —
LEON: Everyone can see it!
DONNA: I haven’t seen Steve so happy since I’ve known him.
SHARON: I’m sorry — Steve’s been so helpful. So has Philip. Everyone’s been so wonderful — I never thought Steve would —
DONNA: Don’t be childish, Sharon. Steve and I are good friends, as we’ve always been, and we need each other less now than we ever did before; we both know so many other people now. I used to meet Steve in a bar years ago when my husband took up with another woman —
LEON: That was Alec’s mother, wasn’t it?
(STEVE & PHILIP enter from right carrying bookshelves which they align along one wall and assemble during scene)
SHARON: Leon! I’ll —
LEON: Not if you don’t catch me!
PHILIP: Do you need my help setting up the puppets?
LEON: Not yet; we want to change some things when Lisa comes.
DONNA: Sharon’s been telling me how helpful you both are — even you, Philip.
PHILIP: Sharon’s a fast learner.
SHARON: It’s like building a complete world with your own two hands. I’m doing things I never dreamed I’d be able to do.
PHILIP: Me too. I fixed my car yesterday, with Steve’s help.
STEVE: I only watched.
DONNA: You, Philip?
PHILIP: It’s a lot simpler than I thought.
(TONI enters from right, arranges blanket with 17 pillows on floor)
TONI: Ben thinks we won’t all fit in the kitchen and that sitting on the floor will be in the spirit of the meal.
LEON: What’s he making — dog biscuits and catnip?
TONI: We’re preparing some Japanese specialties.
SHARON: Steve, can you show me how this joint is supposed to fit? I wish we were doing all these things just for ourselves, especially the puppet show. Why does Grover have to bring people tonight?
PHILIP: Grover said they were people who’d be highly sensitive about the kinds of things we’re doing here.
TONI: And we all know that Grover’s word is as reliable as inflated money.
PHILIP: I happen to be interested in finding out what other people think —
TONI: I could care less.
STEVE: I agree with Toni.
SHARON: So do I. The puppet theater is ours and it’s only meant for us. I can’t imagine what outsiders are going to see —
PHILIP: Maybe that’s true of the puppet theater.
SHARON: I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking of your things. Somehow I can never say the right —
TONI: Let’s drop it. What’s Olympia doing in the garden?
PHILIP: She told me she wanted to improve the soil.
TONI: But it’s freezing out.
DONNA: What was wrong with the garden before?
PHILIP: How should I know. She says if we wanted to grow our own food, we should do certain things to the soil —
(From left, enter LISA, now 7, MATTIE with ROSE ANNE, now three)
LEON: Come on, Lisa, and you too Sharon. We’ve got to change the faces of the two presidents.
LISA: Did you and Alec decide if we’re going to erase them or cover them with paint?
LEON: Alec thinks we can’t erase them.
LISA: You want to come with us, Rose Anne?
(ROSE ANNE cries. Leon and Lisa exit right with Rose Anne)
SHARON: I’ll be right up. Steve, where does this dowel go? Oh, that’s right. Those kids are out of their minds.
PHILIP: Really? In what way?
SHARON: They’re such a trip when they’re together. If any of you think I contributed anything to the play, you’ll be dead wrong. I can hardly keep track of my own parts, and Alec changes half the play every other day! He’s probably changed it again since I’ve been down here.
(PHONE rings. TONI answers)
TONI (shouts to right): Olympia! Barry’s on the phone. Ben, do you need me yet?
(OLYMPIA enters from right)
VOICE OF BEN: In about ten minutes; I’m washing the vegetables.
OLYMPIA (to phone): Did you find it? — Can you cut through it? — Well can you find a way to climb over it? — Yes, everything here is almost ready. (Hangs up)
DONNA: Aren’t you going to join us with the preparations, Olympia?
OLYMPIA: I’m busy with preparations of my own. And you’re a funny one to ask, Donna. That time when I was inside working on the boiler you told me the garden was your priority.
SHARON: I guess I’ll go up and join the kids. (Exits right)
DONNA: I’m sorry I asked.
(OLYMPIA exits right)
STEVE: You want to put up the shelves now?
PHILIP: If you don’t mind, Steve.
MATTIE: Can I start putting my things in the finished shelf?
(MATTIE, STEVE & PHILIP exit right)
DONNA: What was wrong with the garden before, Toni?
TONI: Nothing, Donna. It was beautiful.
DONNA: Did you ever sit inside the arbor on a hot summer day and eat the grapes right off the vine?
TONI: I guess I never found the time.
(STEVE & PHILIP enter from right carrying a second bookshelf which they assemble along the other wall)
STEVE: Sharon sure does enjoy those kids.
PHILIP: Ever since they started the puppet theater they’ve been extremely creative.
TONI: No thanks to school.
PHILIP: What do you mean?
TONI: The imagination of an eight year old is unbounded if it’s left to develop on its own and not stunted by repressive education and that idiotic television —
PHILIP: It so happens that Alec is an inveterate TV watcher and he’s well into his third year in school —
TONI: But Leon and Lisa aren’t!
PHILIP: Many of the ideas are apparently Alec’s.
TONI: Do you think he learned them in school? What schools produce are — are people like you, Philip!
PHILIP: Thank you.
TONI: You’re not actually a good example, since the conditioning is breaking down. And you’re not the only w one whose conditioning is breaking down. I’ll read you something.
(TONI exits right and returns with a copy of the Underground paper’s version of the campus paper)
PHILIP: If it’s from the underground, you can skip it.
TONI: It’s the campus paper; Ben brought it home yesterday. The biggest educator in town quit his job. Listen to this. “Citing what he called the massive dehumanization which distinguishes this and every other university, the 57-year old administrator said he could no longer justify a single day more at the helm of the state’s third largest university.”
PHILIP: Let me see that.
TONI: He admitted that “the university’s real function is the socialization of individuals into unquestioning acceptance of the status quo.”
PHILIP (takes paper and examines it): “The repressive power of the system rests on sold labor” — This must be a bluff!
TONI: Who’s bluffing, Philip? The only two of us who still sell their labor every single morning —
PHILIP: How often do I have to be reminded? TONI: Are you and Donna.
DONNA: And I’m almost convinced —
TONI: All the rest of us are finding it’ possible to get along by contributing as little as possible and if possible nothing at all.
(GROVER enters from left)
GROVER: Well! The place is really looking up! (Picks up the paper) Ha! You’ve seen the gag perpetrated by the local hippies.
PHILIP: I thought so!
TONI: I’d better go help Ben. (Exits right)
GROVER: Remember that tax scheme? This lawyer I know had all the details worked out and we were about to get the first check from the state —
DONNA: And what happened?
GROVER: It fell through. Our contact in the government fell with the rest of Nixon’s crew. But I’ve got another scheme worked out which is almost as good — .
(MATTIE enters from right, with tray full of ceramic houses)
MATTIE: Where are your guests, Grover?
GROVER: They’ll be here. Ah, Philip, you’ve been baking houses.
PHILIP: Mattie made those.
MATTIE: Philip watched me but I shaped them myself.
(SHARON enters from right)
SHARON: The puppets are ready now, Philip — Oh, hi Grover. Why do you have to bring people tonight?
PHILIP: We’d better get these shelves filled.
(PHILIP & MATTIE exit right)
GROVER: These aren’t just ordinary people, Sharon. I’ve been telling them about the things we do around here, and they can’t wait to see them. And speaking of those things, I don’t see any of your new paintings around.
SHARON: There aren’t any. I’ve been spending all my time on the kids’ puppet theater. That’s closer to my life’s dream.
GROVER: Aw, Sharon, I’ve been telling them how good you were: self-taught artist, a genuine modern primitive or post-primitive —
(BEN & TONI enter from right carrying platters of sliced vegetables and batters, which they distribute on the blanket)
SHARON: I wouldn’t have wanted people like that looking at my painting.
GROVER: Get off it, Sharon. All of us want people looking at our stuff, and the more people the better.
BEN: Are you also bringing culinary experts to sample my meal —
GROVER: Ben, I never could understand —
BEN: I agree with Sharon. We’ve only just started to learn to share as if we mattered to each other, without being creative geniuses entertaining a passive public —
GROVER: What about your paper preaching to masses of passive readers —
(PHILIP & MATTIE enter from right with trays of ceramics, plates, pottery, which they place in the shelves)
BEN: A thousand readers aren’t a mass.
PHILIP: Sour grapes.
GROVER: Hey, those shelves are out of sight. That’s a great display. Ben. But it’s not for us.
(BARRY enters from left)
BARRY: Damn, Grover. Next time you have a lead, check it out before sending someone out on it. (Ges to right and calls) Olympia, what should I do with this shit?
GROVER: What happened? The price wasn’t right?
BARRY: I got it free and it seems organic, all right, but Jesus, Grover, I’m rushing to get in on things that are happening over here, and this shit is located on the other side of a six foot barbed wire fence, with me and my wheel barrow standing on the wrong side —
GROVER: Ever heard of wire cutters, my man?
BARRY: Sure, if you’d told me ahead of time. I filled the wheel barrow by throwing shovelfuls through the fence and got the stuff all over me; I was sure I’d get caught but I made such a mess on the sidewalk that people crossed the street and held their noses the other way.
(OLYMPIA enters from right)
OLYMPIA: Where is it?
BARRY: Out front, but the drive way is all blocked up; we’ll have to take it to the back tomorrow.
OLYMPIA: But I spent all day preparing to get it on the ground today!
BARRY: We can’t get through, Olympia.
OLYMPIA: Can’t you bring it through here?
BARRY: I guess so, but I’ll need a hand —
OLYMPIA: Grover, couldn’t you help?
(BARRY, GROVER & OLYMPIA exit left)
MATTIE: I’m starting to feel the way Ben does.
PHILIP: About his paper?
MATTIE: About this display not being for us.
(OLYMPIA enters from left, followed by GROVER & BARRY with wheelbarrow)
OLYMPIA: Don’t set your shoe on the blanket, Grover!
(GROVER removes shoe while he and Barry lift the wheelbarrow over the blanket; avoiding a platter, GROVER’S foot slips and the contents spill)
OLYMPIA: Oh my god!
GROVER: Looks like a little accident. SHARON: Barry, you bas —
BARRY: If you’d waved your arms a second sooner, Sharon, you could have kept it from spilling.
GROVER: Good, here they are — and not a second too soon.
BEN: This is it for me. Never again.
(BEN exits left, leaving door open. Action freezes)
From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org.
November 30, 2010 : Chapter 7 -- Publication.
October 11, 2021 : Chapter 7 -- Added.
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