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Kingdoms

Premiered July 30, 2003

Kingdoms is a stage play by Dan S. Ward, written just for the fun of it.  Where else can you encounter a surly aardvark who is also a recording star?  Certainly not in Kingdoms, albeit several asides do reference the first among mammals (at least alphabetically).  But the very idea of an ant bear, nocturnally nosing in where aardwolves are afraid to go...  It’s sort of grows on you.

Meanwhile, back at the play, six aspiring troubadours in a variety of lands far beyond their own have endeavored to remind you of several classic plays, and in the process have fun with each and every one of them.  The good news, as of this next to last day of the seventh month of 2003, is that the curtain is rising...

                                    Act I, Scene 1             Early Ukraine

                                    Act I, Scene 2             Elizabethan

                                    Act I, Scene 3             Crusades

                                                       Intermission

                                    Act II, Scene 1           Mycenaean

                                    Act II, Scene 2           Danish Treats

                                    Act II, Scene 3           20th Century European

                                    Act III, Scene 1          The 1/3rd Act

            The Aardvark will be selling CD’s at the end of the Performance.

 

KINGDOMS

A Comedy in Two (and a Third) Acts

by

Dan S. Ward

Copyright 1990, 2003 Dan Sewell Ward

 

Time and Setting

Act I, Scene 1 - A long time ago, at the dawn of history (and near the end of herstory -- about 3000 B.C.E.), in the alleged throne room of a hastily built castle overlooking a lush valley in the southern Ukraine

Act I, Scene 2 - Much later, when the honeymoon is long over, in an Elizabethan throne room (despite the fact that no one in the play has any idea who Elizabeth I was)

Act I, Scene 3 - The following morning in a fourteenth century English throne room (with slightly more crusade posters than in Scene 2)

Act II, Scene 1 - Eight months later in a Mycenaean (circa 1300 BC) Greek throne room (with only slight modifications to Act I, Scene 3 -- it's not a long intermission!)

Act II, Scene 2 - Immediately following in a Danish throne room (circa 17th  century AD) (which of course has several things in common with the first four scenes)

Act II, Scene 3 - The following day in an early twentieth century, European throne-room-in-exile (looking suspiciously like an updated version of all the other throne rooms)

Act 1/3, Scene 1 - Later that day in a Generic throne room (a combination of all of the above), set in the last decade of the twentieth century

Cast (in order of appearance)

The King, George of Xenopho - a philandering husband and part-time monarch

George is charming, chauvinistic, basically selfish, and invariably misuses his power.  He is also self-centered, arrogant, believes in his god-appointed kingship, and never considers alternative views of what he should or shouldn’t do.  He is not stupid, but he avoids any sort of philosophy or unbiased intellectual thought.  He is really not a very nice person, and can be considered to be the villain of the play.  He will always assume he knows best.  His principal archetype is Zeus.

The Queen, Catherine of Xenopho - a strong willed woman and wife of George

Catherine is the essential pivot of the play.  Initially, she is a self-possessed woman of substantial power.  Her marriage to George, however, results in a loss of her power. In addition, with the initiation of his philandering activities, the Queen invariably experiences considerable anger and frustration.  Ultimately, she becomes the shrew.  In the latter third of the play, however, she re-empowers herself and begins to display the wisdom of a very great lady.  Her principal archetype is Hera.

The Jack, Jack of Alltrades - an innocent bystander drafted into duty by the King in an off-moment

Jack is a man-of-the-world, having seen most sides of life and accepted the whole ball of wax at face value.  He is sympathetic and understanding, if not a bit cynical.  He is also clever, quick, compassionate, helpful, and can be very sarcastic (but in a nice way -- never cruel).  He also can be a confidence man, but primarily in self-defense.  Jack does not tend to think things out, however, and charges in where wise men and used car salesmen fear to tread, counting on his ability to extradite himself from almost any situation.  Experience has taught him that he can usually get away with it.  His principal archetype is Hermes.

The Peasant, Elizabeth of Queen’s Way (third house on the left) -- an experienced mother and wife

Elizabeth (Liz) is the mother who is convinced she knows what is best for her children.  And because of her unassailable confidence in her ability to mother, she tends to mother everyone and everything, including husbands, playwrights, mongeese, et al.  As a consequence, she tends to treat men as little boys -- an act which is appropriate only part of the time.  She is also a kind person and sufficiently naive as to generally miss out on being offended. Liz finds it easy to forgive and forget, having led a life which needs a fair amount of forgiveness.  She is also devoted, sensitive, and tender.  And she can mother you to death!  Her principal archetype is Demeter.

The Lady-in-Waiting, Anne of Queen’s Way - alleged daughter of Elizabeth and occasional stage dressing

Anne is an attractive woman in her late twenties or early thirties.  She does not think of herself as beautiful, and thus tends to make an extra effort to be attractive.  Her walk, voice, smiling eyes, and flirting glances are all attributes she has developed in order to overcome what she perceives to be her lack of physical attributes.  Anne is a romantic, yearning for love and excitement, very adaptable and aware, and expects freedom above all else. Her watchword is not fidelity.  Her primary archetype is Persephone striving to become an Aphrodite.

The Knight, Perceeval of Queen’s Way - alleged son of Elizabeth and pseudo revolutionary

Perceeval would have preferred to be one of King Arthur’s knights.  His belief in power is the use of “good” to conquer “evil”.  A holy quest would have been ideal for him. He is not exceptionally bright, but he is very earnest.  He is innocent, generous, idealistic, and forgiving.  He is impeccably faithful, and cannot successfully lie.  He will passionately defend virtually anyone from injustice, a fact which sometimes requires more patience than admiration.  Perceeval is impulsive and can be easily hurt.  He loves to lead, but his strong idealism can sometimes get in his way. His principal archetype is Ares.

The Aardvark, Alvin of Luvs - an aardvark with extraordinary capabilities and literary talents.  (Actually. Alvin never appears in the play.  We just threw this in for laughs.)

The aardvark is the Dutch name for an exclusively-African termite-eating mammal.  It is a curious looking animal, of unknown relationships, having a stout pig-like body, long snout, donkey-like ears and powerful, short, thick legs and arms with strong blunt claws.  The body averages four feet in length, with the tail adding an additional two feet.  Aardvarks lives in both forest and plains country, wherever insect food is plentiful.  This highly specialized digger excavates large burrows in which it rests by day, venturing out at night to forage.  After digging into and demolishing a large termite hill, the aardvark rapidly laps up the routed insects with its sticky, foot-long tongue.  Aardvarks are not aggressive, but when attacked, usually by large carnivores such as lions or leopards, they roll over and use their powerful claws to good effect.  A single young is born in summer.  Besides keeping termites in check, the aardvark is also important in the native economy for its edible flesh and its teeth, prized as amulets to ward off evil.

 

A Special Thanks to Boarshead Theater

The playwright would like to thank Boarshead Theater of Lansing, Michigan for its interest, talents, and enthusiasm in providing a staged reading for Kingdoms in its development stage.  Much of the better qualities of this play resulted from the comments and suggestions of the members of Boarshead’s professional staff and cast.  Particular thanks go to John L. Peakes, the Founding Artistic Director of Boarshead Theater, and those others associated with Boarshead who regularly offer new playwrights the opportunity to show their wares.  To all of them, I would add, “Thanks for the use of the hall.”

 

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