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The 1/3rd Act

Updated July 30, 2003

Kingdoms

Act II, Scene 3

(You thought maybe we were kidding?)

The set is now a combination of all the previous sets, but where the action occurs during the the last ten years of the twentieth century.  There is little organization, with a few of the set pieces clearly out of place, as if the play is over.  Of course, itís not.  The time is later the same day of the previous scene.

The KING and JACK enter.  The KING wears his royal robe and crown.  JACK is dressed as before.

            KING:  Iím not pleased, Jack.  In fact, Iím really quite angry.

            JACK:  My most profound apologies, sire.  The plan seemed so foolproof.

            KING:  (turning to JACK)  I am a kinder and gentler dictator, Jack, but I can abide only so much incompetence.  Your next plan, in which all of these dictating women will be removed from my life will be your last opportunity to redeem yourself.  Do I make myself absolutely clear?

            JACK:  Absolutely, sire.

            KING:  (with particular emphasis)  The plan must forever sever those women from my life!  I really do not wish to ever deal with them again!

            JACK:   I understand completely, sire.  They will no longer be in your life.

The KING turns and exits via the ramp.

            JACK:  (aside)  Which was the original plan.  The one which continues to be working to perfection.

Smiling, JACK exits stage left.

The QUEEN and LIZ enter from stage right, dressed as before.  The QUEEN appears to be trying to sell LIZ on some revolutionary idea, while LIZ is one part skeptical, two parts bewildered, and with a dash of the entire concept going right over her head.  LIZ is still very, very pregnant.

            QUEEN:  You donít think itís about time?

            LIZ:  Actually, in my condition, I do very little thinking.  (holding her belly)  Mostly I just feel.  Full.

            QUEEN:  (quickly smiling)  Good point.  But how do you feel about my idea?

            LIZ:  It sounds pretty radical.

            QUEEN:  Oh, Liz!  Itís a golden opportunity for you to take charge of your own destiny!

            LIZ:  Oh yeah, I can see that.  Itís just that I donít have a lot of experience in that field.  Iíve gotten pretty  good at following someone elseí lead.  I donít know that I could think fast enough to lead myself.

            QUEEN:  So youíll make a few mistakes!  Who cares?

            LIZ:  You donít think people might get upset if I started stepping on their toes?

            QUEEN:  Thatís their problem.  If you want to dance, thatís the price you have to pay.

            LIZ:  Yeah.  And I have to admit, even when I was trying to follow, I stepped on a good many toes.

            QUEEN:  Sure you did.   And it canít be in worse now.

            LIZ:  It could be.  When Iím pregnant, I tend to fall on people as well.

            QUEEN:  You wonít always be pregnant.

            LIZ:  Thatís another radical concept Iím working on!  But still, you may be right.

            QUEEN:  You know Iím right!  And working together, we can pull it off.

            LIZ:  (still a little doubtful)  You think so?

            QUEEN:  Every individual who makes the decision to control their own destiny, makes it just that much easier for the next person.  And pretty soon everyoneís doing it!

            LIZ:  (smiling)  We could start a trend.  Like using velcro on chastity belts!

            QUEEN: (bewildered by the thought, but determined to be positive)  Of course.

JACK and ANNE enter from stage left.

            ANNE:  (very skeptical)  Run that by me again.

            JACK:  Itís a paradigm shift.  Weíre trashing the whole system.

            ANNE:  Youíre telling me the whole thing has been a giant lie!?

            JACK:  Something like that.  Maybe just a necessary diversion.  Part of the growing up process.

            ANNE:  For five thousand years!!?

            JACK:  (shrugging his shoulders)  Hey!  Nobody ever said being an adolescent was easy.

            QUEEN:  Are you with us, Anne?

            ANNE:  Youíre asking me?

            QUEEN:  Every individual counts.  Even the latest fashion in being a princess.

            ANNE:  (smiling)  Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  Iím a princess now.

            LIZ:  (brightly)  And Iím a queen.  (subdued)  A pregnant one.

            QUEEN:  Which was the first part of our plan.  Giving you your power back.

            LIZ:  By making me pregnant?

            JACK:  No, no.  Just making you queen.

            QUEEN:  (to JACK)  Assistant queen.

            JACK:  Whatever.

            LIZ:  Oh.  That makes sense.  Maybe.

            ANNE:  I donít understand.

            QUEEN:  Itís simple, Anne.  We canít change the world if we donít believe that we can.

            JACK:  So we made you royalty.  Something you always were, but which we had to remind you of.  Now you can decree anything you want, including your ability to do whatever you darn well please!

            QUEEN:  For eons, weíve been lied to.  We were told that it was one man, one rule; always a kingdom and never just a peopledom.  Always a single person at the top, of whatever pile, and that atop that pile was a man.  Eventually we bought the whole incredible thing.  The propaganda, the lies, the deceit.  Everything.  Hook, line and sinker.  And as long as women accepted the idea that women were less than men...

            JACK:  And that most of the men less than a few others...

            QUEEN:  Then we believed that we were only capable of certain tasks, that there were inherent limitations in what we could accomplish.  And because of that, we were easy to control.

            JACK:  How can any one person be less than another, when everyone of us is unique!?

            ANNE:  Well Iíve always certainly felt unique!

            LIZ:  (to ANNE, with a deadpan expression)  Trust me...  You were!

            ANNE:  (to JACK)  And now that Iím a princess, I can do anything I want?

            JACK:  Of course!

            ANNE:  But what about the king?

            LIZ:  Oops.

            QUEEN:  Donít worry.  A kingdom without subjects is no threat to anyone.  The king can lord it over us only as long as we allow him to.

            LIZ:  I donít know.  It seems to be a lot easier to just let someone else do the lording.  Itís hard to maintain a lot of respect when my most efficient mode of getting around is waddling.

            QUEEN:  Liz.  The idea is not for you to lead or lord it over someone else.  But just to be yourself, and not to allow anyone else to lord it over you.

            LIZ:  It could be tough being myself.  Iím not sure I remember who I am.  There was always someone else to tell me who I was.

            QUEEN:  Thatís changing now.

            ANNE:  (to the QUEEN)  You mean, just do whatever I like?  Like pound Jack on the head!

            JACK:  Ah, not quite.

            QUEEN:  Allow yourself to be whatever you want.  But also allow everyone else to be whatever they want.  You canít gain rights for yourself by taking away other peopleís rights.  Thatís precisely whatís been wrong with the system thus far.  In order to be someone or have something, it was assumed that they had to take it away from someone else.  Everybody had to acknowledge someone elseís authority.

            ANNE:  Like women accepting the rule of men?          

            QUEEN:  Exactly.       

            ANNE:  And which weíre not going to accept any longer?

            QUEEN:  You got it.

            ANNE:  But what about Jack?  Heís a man!

            LIZ:  (sexily)  You donít know the half of it!  (JACK smiles.)

            QUEEN:  Anne, in a kingdom, being a man is not a whole lot better than being a woman.  Itís true that one man can be king, but only one!  The rest are preyed upon almost as bad as the women.

            JACK:  Itís not the yoke of men that the women should be rebelling against.  Itís the rule of kings, the patriarchs, and those who would place any human being over another.  Besides... Iím on your side.

            ANNE:  Somehow that does not make me optimistic for the future.      

            JACK:  Try to remember, Anne, that men had to compete, to struggle toward the top, lest we loose our footing on the pyramid and fall back down into oblivion.

            ANNE:  Where all the women were.  At least you had it over us!

            JACK:  I donít know that I ever felt I had any control over any woman.

            LIZ:  God knows men are not perfect.  (Everyone pauses for the laughter to subside.)

            ANNE:  Does this apply to everyone?  All the women?  All the men?

            JACK:  Of course!

            ANNE:   Even the dumbest, clumsiest, most useless person under the sun...?

PERCEEVAL enters on the run, very excited and very much out of breath.  He is still dressed in his last costume, but one that has undergone considerable, recent strife.

            PERCEEVAL:  Take heart!  Perceeval has come to your rescue!

            JACK:  Rescue from what?

            PERCEEVAL:  The insurrectionists!  Theyíre storming the castle!  Didnít anyone tell you!?

            LIZ:  Why are they attacking us?

            PERCEEVAL:  (embarrassed)  They think you sent me to kill their leaders.

            LIZ:  Perceeval!  How many times have I told you not to associate with riffraff like that!!?

            PERCEEVAL:  Not now Mother!  Theyíre storming the castle!

            QUEEN:  (sitting down slowly on her throne)  Tell them weíve abdicated.

            PERCEEVAL:  Can you do that?

            QUEEN:  We just did.

            PERCEEVAL:  Boy!  Are they going to be mad!  They were really counting on a necktie party.

            LIZ:  (helpfully)  Let Ďem eat cake.

            JACK:  I donít think I want to be the one to tell them that.

            ANNE:  Wait a minute!  Iím not abdicating!  I just made princess!  Iím not giving it up now!  Not without a fight!

            QUEEN:  (to ANNE)  Why do you want to be princess?  You donít need it...

            LIZ:  Thatís right!  Iím a queen!

            QUEEN:  (to LIZ)  Not really.

            LIZ:  (to QUEEN)  But you just said...

            QUEEN:  I lied!

            ANNE:  Itís too late for that!  IíM A PRINCESS!!!

            LIZ:  And Iím a queen!

            QUEEN:  And youíre both nuts!

            LIZ and ANNE:  What!?  (LIZ immediately puts her arm around her daughter, protecting her.)

            ANNE:  (to LIZ)  Please, mother, I can take care of myself.

            QUEEN:  (to ANNE)  And which you can do without being a princess.

            JACK:  Excuse me, but none of you may want to be royalty.

            LIZ, ANNE, and PERCEEVAL:  Why not!!?

            JACK:  (Gesturing toward the ramp.)  The revolution.  Remember?

            PERCEEVAL:  Good point.

            ANNE:  I donít care.  Iíve always wanted to be a princess.  A few revolutionaries arenít going to frighten me off now.

            LIZ:  I really wouldnít mind being a duchess.  Is a duchess considered royalty?

            PERCEEVAL:  I could be the ďDukeĒ!  (i.e. John Wayne.)

            JACK:  Nobody gets to be anything, if those crazies out there, get in here!

Suddenly, the KING rushes in, dressed in his obviously kingly attire, and clearly concerned about the insurrectionists.  He sees the others and tries to mobilize them to defend the castle.

            KING:  (to PERCEEVAL)  Quick!  The insurrectionists are already through the main gate.  We need someone to throw themselves at the enemy with such ferocity as to blunt their charge.

            PERCEEVAL:  Me?

            KING:  It will give the rest of us time to prepare our defenses.

            PERCEEVAL:  What will it give me?

            KING:  A courageous and glorious death defending the Kingdom.  Youíll be remembered forever!

            QUEEN:  But only if the Kingdom survives.  Donít go anywhere, Perceeval.

            PERCEEVAL:  (recognizing the QUEENís argument as superior)  Iím with you, lady.

            KING:  (enraged by the disobedience)  What!?  Iíll have you court martialed!  Youíll be thrown out of the Kingís Guard, dishonored, defrocked, demeaned as a yellow-spined coward!  Youíll be deknighted!  Your name will live forever as a traitor, children will ridicule you, youíll never find work again!

            PERCEVAL:  (unmoved by the KINGís tirade)  Canít be any worse than falling into a cesspool.

            KING:  (not understanding)  What!?

The KING turns to the others for understanding.  As he looks from one to the other, it is clear that all are on the side of PERCEEVAL and the QUEEN, including JACK, who is now taking off his many royal necklaces (his badges of office) and laying them on the throne.  The KING is horrified at the prospect of the ill-timed mutiny.

            KING:  You people donít seem to understand!  Weíre being attacked!  The revolutionaries are out for blood!  Royal blood!

            QUEEN:  (calmly)  Weíve abdicated.  One doesnít need titles in order to be an equal.

            KING:  You canít do that!

            QUEEN:  Be equal?

            KING:  Abdicate!

            QUEEN:  We just did.

            KING:  But not now!  Thatís not going to stop the revolution!  (Seeing the QUEEN is adamant, the KING turns to the others.)  Anne!  Surely youíre not giving up being a princess!

            ANNE:  (carefully)  Iíve been a princess.  I think once a princess is enough.

            KING:  (glancing at the others in turn, until finally looking at PERCEEVAL)  Youíre kidding.

            PERCEEVAL:  Iím with Anne.  Once a knight is enough.

            ANNE:  (to PERCEEVAL)  Thatís not what I meant.

            LIZ:  (frustrated by PERCEEVALís statement)  Obviously Iíve failed as a mother.

            KING:  (attempting to regain command)  All right then!  Fine!  Youíre all peasants!  And now Iím ordering all of you to defend the castle.  To give your lives, if necessary, for the Kingdom!!

            QUEEN:  (calmly but forcefully)  No.

            KING:  (very strongly)  Perhaps you didnít hear me!  Iím ordering you...

            QUEEN:  No.

            KING:  You canít refuse my order!  Iíll have you executed for treason!  Iíll have you shot!

            QUEEN:  By whom?

            KING: (Realizing that the mutiny is amazingly complete, he decides to use fear to motivate the others.)  You donít understand!  Weíll all be killed unless we defend ourselves!  The terrorists are everywhere.  Itís a matter of national security!

            QUEEN:  Whoís going to kill us?

            KING:  The revolutionaries!

            QUEEN:  But weíve joined the revolution!  (The KING is momentarily stunned.)

            LIZ:  We have?

            PERCEEVAL:  Seems to be a wise move.

            ANNE:  (to JACK)  Maybe now I can find that gallant revolutionary you promised me.

            JACK:  (modestly)  Actually, itís me.  Iíve been in disguise.

            ANNE:  (unimpressed)  Incredibly effective disguise!  I would never have guessed.

            KING:  (to the QUEEN)  Wait a minute!  You canít join the revolution!  Youíre a woman.

            QUEEN:  Actually, George, most of the revolutionaries are women.

            KING:  Youíre kidding!?  Really?

            QUEEN:  I donít see any problems with joining my sisters.

            KING:  Itís a female revolution?

            QUEEN:  Not really.  More like an anti-Kingdom revolution.

            KING:  (using his last ace)  But how can you have joined the revolution against me?  I thought you loved me!

            QUEEN:  Oh, I do.  We all do. But itís not you thatís the problem.  Itís the Kingdom.

            PERCEEVAL:  And weíre revolting!

Everyone looks at PERCEEVAL as if to say, that he is indeed revolting.

            LIZ:  (motherly, to PERCEEVAL)  Sometimes dear, itís better not to say anything.

            KING:  (stunned)  Youíre against the Kingdom!?

            QUEEN:  Weíre against all kingdoms.  Weíre against the very idea of kingdoms.

            KING:  But you canít do that!

            LIZ:  Why not?

            KING:  Itís unpatriotic!  Itís immoral!  It would be the end of everything!

            JACK:  Actually, the end of history.

            KING:  Exactly!  Is that what you want!?

            QUEEN:  Thatís what I want.

            PERCEEVAL:  (gesturing to the QUEEN)  Iím with the lady.

            ANNE:  The end of his story sounds good to me.

            LIZ:  (as the KING looks at her)  Hey!  Iím with my kids.  What kind of mother do you think I am?

            JACK:  Hopefully one who does not send her children to war.

            KING:   Youíre all crazy!  Thatís not the way the world works!

            QUEEN:  It is now.

            KING:  (realizing his defeat)  Well, Iíll have nothing to do with it!  Iím out of here!

The KING starts to leave, and PERCEEVAL moves to bar his way. 

            QUEEN:  (to PERCEEVAL)  Let him go, Percival. [the correct pronunciation!].  Let him go.

            KING:  (disgustedly)  Peasants!

The KING exits the stage by going out through the audience (and not through any of the stage exits).

            LIZ:  Donít forget to write!

            ANNE:  (looking at her mother)  Whatever for?

            LIZ:  (gently holding her pregnant belly)  He does sort of have a vested interest here.

            JACK:  (to the QUEEN)  The end of history, and the beginning of herstory?

            QUEEN:  (smiling)  Actually, I rather suspect itís the beginning of theirstory.

            JACK:  (smiling and thinking as well)  But of course.  That follows rather naturally.

            PERCEEVAL:  (to the QUEEN)  What do we do now?

            QUEEN:  Why are you asking me?

            PERCEEVAL:  (shrugging his shoulders)  Habit, I guess.

            QUEEN:  Make your own decisions.

            PERCEEVAL:  (willing to try)  Okay.  (He begins to ponder, in the pose of a great thinker.)

            ANNE:  (to the QUEEN)  This could take a while.

            QUEEN:  (to the others)  Perhaps youíre right.  We may need to act rather quickly.

            ANNE:  What did you have in mind?

            QUEEN:  The first thing we need to do is join the revolutionariesí army.

            PERCEEVAL:  Thatís going to be difficult.

            JACK:  Why?

            PERCEEVAL:  Itís an army of ants.

            LIZ:  Aunts!?

            PERCEEVAL:  Have you ever seen an ant army on the move?  Theyíre awesome!

            LIZ:  I saw your Aunt Frieda on the move one time.  She was pretty awesome.

            QUEEN:  But why are ants attacking us?

            PERCEEVAL:  The revolutionaries named the Aardvark, Alvin of Luvs, and made him the commander in chief of the revolution.  That way they could quit shooting each other in the foot.

            JACK:  And so, Alvin of Luvs is now leading his ant army against us?

            PERCEEVAL:  Against the Kingdom.

            ANNE:  Just what we need!  Another army underfoot!

            QUEEN:  Well, in any case, we only have to contact the aardvark and tell him weíre on his side.

            PERCEEVAL:  You think heíd believe us?

            LIZ:  Why not?  When did any of us ever lie to an aardvark?

            ANNE:  Why would the aardvark help us?  Isnít he one of the peasants?

            QUEEN:  (smiling)  I think he just might.  With all those memoirs heís written, heís going to need a publisher.  I think if we agree to publish his work, heíll let us join the revolution.

            ANNE:  Then letís do it!

            QUEEN:  Join the revolution?  Never say die?

            LIZ:  Why not?  It canít be any tougher than raising seven kids!

            ANNE:  (excitedly)  Yes!  Yes!

            QUEEN:  (to PERCEEVAL)  Weíll need a knight errant to lead us to the aardvark.

            PERCEEVAL:  Errant?

            JACK:  Perfect choice.

            QUEEN:  (taking command)  But we must hurry.  Before the ants reach us!

            ANNE:  Charge!!

            PERCEEVAL:  (raising his sword)  Into the breech!

            QUEEN:  This way!

All five begin to exit to the ramp with PERCEEVAL in the lead.

            LIZ:  Weíre off to see the aardvark!

            ANNE:  The wonderful aardvark of Luvs!

            ALL:  (while exiting, breaking into song)  Because, because, because, because...  (from off stage)  Of all the wonderful things he does!  (pause)  Weíre off to see the aardvark!  (stretching it out)  The Won-der-ful Aard-vark of Luvs!

And if the play's director has no shame at all, a small dog, looking suspiciously like Toto, can run on stage and then up the ramp, following the QUEEN and her merry band.

 

Playwright's Notes

The time of the play covers the basis of human history from the time of the ascendancy of the patriarchal society (circa 5000 to 1350 B.C.E.) to the last decade of the twentieth century, A.D. This time frame is purposeful in that it implies the span of the patriarchal society and the difficulties associated with it.  For with a patriarchal society, the role of women as been subjugated to virtually valueless role, wherein Catherine, Elizabeth and Anne have all bought the patriarchal party line and relinquished their power.  The concept of a nurturing mother Goddess has been demeaned to the point that virtually all life on the planet -- including the race of men, animal and plant life, the environment, and the planet -- has been deemed a thing to be conquered (thus the Aardvarkís willing complicity in rebelling against the system).  And all men other than the ruling patriarch has been degraded and put in mindless, vicious competition with one another (an aspect which Jack has attempted to avoid by moving too fast to be pinned down). 

The thesis of the play, accordingly, is that the last four to seven thousand years of history is rapidly coming to an end, women and all men are now achieving true equality, cooperation is replacing competition, and the beginning of theirstory is dawning.  The key is for every individual to take charge of their own life, and instead of decrees being handed down from those in authority, the revolution is arising from each and every individual.

King George represents the patriarch (much as Zeus does in Greek Mythology), and will resist the inevitable changes, defending to his last breath his status and privilege.  George, of course, has the most to lose, although what he will ultimately lose will eventually be seen to have had very little value in the first place.  Nevertheless, George displays minimal growth in the course of events and will ultimately meet his Waterloo, Watergate, Whatever, in another, future play.

Catherine, on the other hand, pretty much runs the gamut.  Initially, she represents the power of the female, prior to the rise of the patriarchy.  She buys into the propaganda of the patriarchy, however, and relinquishes her power.  Her inevitable wrath at being deceived is then assuaged by being granted material possessions, protection, and the status of wife and queen of the castle.  But ultimately the duplicity of the system which allows her husband free reign -- while restricting her actions unmercifully -- forces a transformation in Catherine.  This results first in the willingness to take on another mate, and then in simply letting go of all the status and wealth of her position in exchange for her own power.  Catherine is, perhaps, the most courageous character in the play, and ultimately is the one who gains the most.  She is Hera, transformed into something far greater than she had ever been.

Elizabeth has learned to cope with the patriarchal system by retreating to the one function which the patriarch could never usurp: that of being a mother.  This function, Liz has developed to its most extreme limits.  In the play, however, she is only introduced to the potential that she can become.  Nevertheless, there is hope of her, if only because nurturing will be in such demand in the future.

Anne represents the female who has learned that sex is her best weapon in a patriarchal system.  In the process of the play, she ascends to the pinnacle she had aspired to (being a princess), only to find it has minimal value.  Her trek is to something on the order of ďSomeday my prince will come,Ē only to realize that the handsome prince is a bit of a jerk.  But Anne is flexible, has less vested interest in the system, and is quick to begin her own transformation and resumption of her inherent power.

Perceeval represents the ludicrous aspect of the patriarchal society (essentially all of the men who think they're in charge and very clearly are not).  Perceeval exhibits the flaws of the patriarchy with the brilliance of his shinning armor.  His principal advantage is that his thinking power is minimal, which allows him to better access to his emotions, emotions often being the preferred source for motivating his actions.  There is hope for Perceeval, but only if one is patient.

Jack, like his archetype, Hermes, is the communicator, the trickster, the man who moves across boundaries with ease.  Jack often understands the foundations of the system, but is sufficiently detached from its sirens to move through the system with maximal ease.  It is not clear whether or not Jack will undergo his own transformation, or merely adapt superficially.  Jack is flexible, and as such, can probably avoid change, even if it is perhaps in his best interests.  Change, after all, can be an ordeal.

Alvin is concerned primarily with environmental degradation and the deplorable reduction in edible ants and termites due to pesticides and other forms of pest control.  Alvin, like the earth itself, could just as well do without mankind.

Ultimately, the play is to be enjoyed.

 

Act II, Scene 3 -- 20th Century European

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