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Dash #5: Sleet (2010)

The characters:
Bobbin
Timmy
Gretchen
Trina

SECTION 1: OPENING DIALOG
IN THE COURSE OF THE SHOW FOUR LONG SPEECHES ROTATE A NUMBER OF TIMES (DURATION TO BE DETERMINED IN REHEARSAL), PROBABLY ONE AFTER ANOTHER.
FROM TIME TO TIME DURING THE SPEECHES MUSIC IS PLAYED SO LOUDLY THAT IT DROWNS OUT THE ACTORS’ VOICES.
THE MUSIC IS DUTCH GABBER, ONE OF THE MORE DERANGED EDM FORMS, HAVING A HIGH BPM AND FEATURING AN EXHILARATINGLY ASSAULTIVE, MACHINE-LIKE BANGING AND HOARSE , GUTTURAL SHOUTING.
THE SOUND IS CUT FROM TIME TO TIME, HOWEVER, SO THAT PASSAGES FROM THE SPEECHES ARE PERFECTLY AUDIBLE.
AS THE SPEECHES ROTATE THE SOUND CUTS OUT AT DIFFERENT POINTS IN EACH SPEECH SO THAT EVENTUALLY ALL THAT IS WRITTEN IS HEARD.
WHEN THE MUSIC IS PLAYING ONE OR MORE ACTORS WILL DANCE TO IT (NOT THE ACTOR SPEAKING).
A TABLE ON THE SET BEARS A GLASS JUG CONTAINING WATER, FOUR GLASSES AND A PLATE WITH A NUMBER OF PLAIN DIGESTIVE BISCUITS ON IT.
ADDITIONAL SOUND FX: LIGHT BIRDSONG THROUGHOUT
BOBBIN Would anyone like a glass of water?
TRINA Yes Bobbin.
BOBBIN POURS WATER FROM A JUG INTO A GLASS AND PASSES IT TO TRINA
BOBBIN Would anyone else like one?
GRETCHEN Yes.
BOBBIN POURS WATER FROM A JUG INTO ANOTHER GLASS AND PASSES IT TO GRETCHEN.
BOBBIN POURS HIMSELF A GLASS AND MOVES AWAY FROM THE JUG ZONE
TIMMY I’ll have one.
(TIMMY POURS HIMSELF A GLASS AND MOVES AWAY FROM THE JUG ZONE.
ALL FOUR CHARACTERS SIP THEIR WATER UNHURRIEDLY AND REFLECTIVELY)
(TO BOBBIN) I’ve been thinking about what you said.
BOBBIN When?
TIMMY When you said that a man touched you in the street.
BOBBIN It was my friend Frank that was touched. We are often mistaken for each other.
TRINA Why?
BOBBIN I don’t know.
GRETCHEN (TO BOBBIN) What about Frank?
BOBBIN I don’t know.
TRINA (TO GRETCHEN) It was Timmy that raised it.
GRETCHEN Timmy. What was it?
TIMMY Bobbin’s friend Frank was touched in the street.
TRINA In a bad way?
TIMMY No. But touched.
GRETCHEN What was the situation in fact, Bobbin?
BOBBIN Frank is walking along and a man thinks that he is his brother.
TIMMY This is an example of the being mistaken.
BOBBIN No. I am often mistaken for Frank.
TRINA Why would that be?
BOBBIN I have no idea.
GRETCHEN What happened next? I’d like to know.
BOBBIN A man goes along to Frank and places his hand upon Frank’s arm.
TRINA But in a perfectly acceptable way.
BOBBIN Well. He did not know Frank.
TIMMY He thought, correct me if I’m wrong, Bobbin, that you were his brother.
BOBBIN Not me, Timmy. Frank.
TIMMY I’m understandably confused.
BOBBIN But not any longer, I trust.
GRETCHEN Anyway.
BOBBIN He’d gone to buy some tobacco and his brother was waiting for him and when he came out he took Frank’s arm and said “Okay, Roy.”
TRINA Roy.
BOBBIN His brother.
TIMMY I thought you said his brother was Billy.
BOBBIN No. Billy is another name. Roy is a well known name.
GRETCHEN I know it.
BOBBIN Well, there you are.
GRETCHEN In fact, I think I may know this particular Roy. What he did to Frank is characteristic.
TRINA What are his characteristics?
TIMMY It’s very hard to say that a person has characteristics.
GRETCHEN I think that says more about you than a person, Timmy.
TIMMY Aren’t people just what they are?
GRETCHEN Not especially.
PAUSE
TIMMY That’s very disappointing.
PAUSE

SECTION 2: GRETCHEN 1
THE PASSAGES RENDERED INAUDIBLE BY MUSIC ARE BRACKETED WITH AN ‘X’.

GRETCHEN My caravan was nearer to Norway than England. It was in the Shetlands. I tended animals and strode the strand with the wind in my hair. I was first approached in 1971 which is thirtynine years ago as the crow flies. A figure stepped out of the mist and bid me ‘Good day Missis.’ I thought little of it. I was reading a lot back then.

X The work of Woolf, Mansfield, Murdoch, Stein, some Blyton – ‘The Twins at St Clare’s’, some Marsh – “Death in a White Tie”, Grace Kelly’s book “I was once Grace Kelly before I married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956 then died in a car on a twisting road on a mountainside having had a stroke from which I never recovered X

and it was then said that I had been driving on the same stretch of highway that had been featured in my 1955 movie ‘To Catch a Thief’, but my son Prince Albert has always denied it. And at my funeral the actor James Stewart said ‘You know, I just love Grace Kelly.

X Not because she was a princess, not because she was an actress, not because she was my friend, but because she was just about the nicest lady I ever met. God bless you, Princess Grace.’” It was so sad, so sad. She represented something. I don’t think she was like that. I was comfortable with that.’ X

If you concentrate hard enough , and I mean really hard, the mind can be brought to create any particular object desired. The Tibetans call this concretized visualization a Tulpa, meaning a magically produced illusion or creation.

X Imagine, though, being followed by Cliff Richard. Imagine if every time you thought of him you couldn’t help thinking about his backing group The Shadows. And then every time Cliff turned up, perhaps you’d be on the beach in a ruminative frame of mind and lo and behold there’s Cliff walking towards you but he’s got his fucking band along with him. Jesus.’ X

Anyway, I heard him again ‘Good day, Missis’ and this time by the long road that skirts the beach and runs up to the trees and then the hills and then the mountains and I was in the mountains and he said ‘Just come down. Just come down, Gretchen.’ I wondered how he knew my name. I was living incognito. In Lerwick. I was known as Angela. I was visited by my sister Betty to whom I bore an uncanny resemblance.

X I was visited by her on the beach where sometimes she would approach me through the spume across the shingle her arms outstretched and I would cry out thinking I saw myself and perhaps I had died she was my ghost and I had died in Lerwick closer to Norway where I had never been and never wanted to and people say, ‘My goodness, you were relatively close to Bergen and you never took the ferry and I’d say well it is cold enough and quiet and dark enough here why would I go to Bergen?’ X

SECTION 3: BOBBIN 1
BOBBIN Listening to you, Gretchen, I feel so very lifeless. I had wanted to be an adventurer like you but for some reason I was not able to get hold of the equipment. I set out on a number of occasions but each time I neared the coast I became disoriented and had to return. Something was stopping me purchasing a compass. But then I met a group of lively circus people in a gaily painted people carrier. The Ring Master was called Roy.

X One of the clowns, called Bonkers, who had a hilarious act involving mud and lemonade, befriended me and gave me a number of tips and hints. “Look Bobbin.” “Yes Bonkers.” “The secrets of strength and humour are are intricately linked. They both depend on knowing when to let go. Roy knows when you’ve let go too soon or if you’re not letting go.” So I walked up to Roy and said ‘Watch this’. X

I picked up two leaden weights with handles on them. Their only purpose was for to be picked up. As I raised them above my head I shat myself. It was the strain. It was not deliberate. I was not trying to make a strong impression.

X Roy stroked his moustache ruminatively. Then he spoke. “Look Bobbin. I don’t know whether that was instinctive or not but you’ve got flair. You’re at the cutting edge. You give people what they want.” “Thank you Roy.” “Could you do it to order? Every afternoon and evening? Living in a hand-carved caravan? Helping to feed llamas? A great sleet assails the circus ground at night. The jaguar escapes and mutilates the whiteface clown, that most august and enigmatic of the raucous group. The icy winds howl at the ankles of the high wire artiste. X

The diver Ronaldo, based upon the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of the same name, dives from the tiniest of platforms at the tip top of the kingpole into a bucket of piss on a regular basis. Sille och Bille, the two Swedish clowns, one comes up behind the other quietly and shouts so loud that the other one wets his trousers. “So you can see Bobbin,” said Roy, “we’ve got a whole thing going here. You’d be family. Let me know what you think.” Soon I was in Hammersmith. My brother was coming round for supper to help me hang a mirror.

X As we eased it up the wall to the hook I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face and in that moment he turned away and I turned away and as he turned I started to turn so I never saw if he looked back because I had turned at the point where he had turned and he may not even have known that on seeing him turn I too turned he may never have seen that because he turned away from me. X

SECTION 4: TIMMY 1
TIMMY My cousin’s van is in a field and may be cold and may need a bump start. There are some ladies over there they look quite old but there are certainly enough of them to compensate for their frailty by sheer bulk of number. I asked them if they would not mind awfully helping me out. I explained that I would sit in the vehicle having engaged second gear but with the clutch firmly down to the floor while they placed their hands and shoulders to the back of the vehicle. As they pushed they started singing ‘Bumpety bumpety bumpety bump’ in a very charming way, not especially talented but with bags of spirit.

X It occurred to me that I was in the wrong business. I booked into a studio and got the ladies to come to cut some sides. In one afternoon we cut six songs and I put them on YouTube. There was no interest shown so I took the van back to my cousin’s house and left it in the road. X

We went down to Welwyn, the old town, not the Garden City which was a bold social experiment at the time but not to my taste nor to my cousin’s. We prefer a less planned feeling.

X My cousin was up for anything, a very enterprising man. On one occasion I remember, this would have been in a public place, a man said to him “Hey do you want to go into business with me immediately?’ My cousin had a hunch that this man was the flavour of the future. This turned out to be correct and in the future Rory, that’s my cousin, is now something of a big magnate with a lot of spending money. X

It hasn’t changed him, he’s still oddly flat in his manner and in his dealing with others he continues to avoid eye contact to such an extent that, paradoxically, it’s actually quite hard to remember his face.

X I mean I’ve known him for yonks but you realise that with most people it’s looking them in the face and them looking back that seals them in your memory. X

I can look at Rory’s face anytime I want, when he’s not aware of it, for instance, and I can study it but even then I can’t hold it all in my mind in the same time. I’m sure if Rory went away and was replaced by someone similar, like you get sometimes, you might not know. You’d know eventually because the other person wouldn’t be so flat, which is odd about Rory.

SECTION 5: DIALOG 1
PAUSE.
SOUND FX: LIGHT BIRDSONG
GRETCHEN Is Rory Roy?
TIMMY Rory is Rory, Gretchen.
GRETCHEN He does not stand for Roy?
TIMMY A person does not stand for a person. If that were the case then one would be uneasy.
TRINA I can see that. At the end of the day, if you come across a person who stands for a person there are a number of questions that must be asked.
BOBBIN I’ll interrupt, if I may, hopefully constructively, by venturing to pose one of these questions. If a person stands for a person, where is the person doing the standing? Where is he or indeed she? Are they in some way eclipsed by that for which they are standing?
TRINA Thus, in that sense, taking you up, aspiring to develop the enquiry, the person who stands for another person is themselves in need of someone to stand for them, given that they are taken up with the business of standing for someone.
GRETCHEN Which leads inexorably to the notion that, if there is, as you suggest, an infinite chain of instanding, then there is, by extension, somewhere, at least in theory, one who is only stood for and does not stand.

SECTION 6: BOBBIN 2
BOBBIN X Listening to you, Gretchen, I feel so very lifeless. I had wanted to be an adventurer like you but for some reason I was not able to get hold of the equipment. I set out on a number of occasions but each time I neared the coast I became disoriented and had to return. Something was stopping me purchasing a compass. But then I met a group of lively circus people in a gaily painted people carrier. The Ring Master was called Roy. X

One of the clowns, called Bonkers, who had a hilarious act involving mud and lemonade, befriended me and gave me a number of tips and hints. “Look Bobbin.” “Yes Bonkers.” “The secrets of strength and humour are are intricately linked. They both depend on knowing when to let go. Roy knows when you’ve let go too soon or if you’re not letting go.” So I walked up to Roy and said ‘Watch this’.

X I picked up two leaden weights with handles on them. Their only purpose was for to be picked up. As I raised them above my head I shat myself. It was the strain. It was not deliberate. I was not trying to make a strong impression. X

Roy stroked his moustache ruminatively. Then he spoke. “Look Bobbin. I don’t know whether that was instinctive or not but you’ve got flair. You’re at the cutting edge. You give people what they want.” “ Thank you Roy.” “ Could you do it to order? Every afternoon and evening? Living in a hand-carved caravan? Helping to feed llamas? A great sleet assails the circus ground at night. The jaguar escapes and mutilates the whiteface clown, that most august and enigmatic of the raucous group. The icy winds howl at the ankles of the high wire artiste.

X The diver Ronaldo, based upon the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo of the same name, dives from the tiniest of platforms at the tip top of the kingpole into a bucket of piss on a regular basis. Sille och Bille, the two Swedish clowns, one comes up behind the other quietly and shouts so loud that the other one wets his trousers. So you can see Bobbin said Roy, we’ve got a whole thing going here. You’d be family. Let me know what you think. Soon I was in Hammersmith. My brother was coming round for supper to help me hang a mirror. X

As we eased it up the wall to the hook I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face I caught sight of his face as he caught sight of my face and in that moment he turned away and I turned away and as he turned I started to turn so I never saw if he looked back because I had turned at the point where he had turned and he may not even have known that on seeing him turn I too turned he may never have seen that because he turned away from me.

SECTION 7: TIMMY 2
TIMMY X My cousin’s van is in a field and may be cold and may need a bump start. There are some ladies over there they look quite old but there are certainly enough of them to compensate for their frailty by sheer bulk of number. I asked them if they would not mind awfully helping me out. I explained that I would sit in the vehicle having engaged second gear but with the clutch firmly down to the floor while they placed their hands and shoulders to the back of the vehicle. As they pushed they started singing ‘Bumpety bumpety bumpety bump’ in a very charming way, not especially talented but with bags of spirit. X

It occurred to me that I was in the wrong business. I booked into a studio and got the ladies to come to cut some sides. In one afternoon we cut six songs and I put them on YouTube. There was no interest shown so I took the van back to my cousin’s house and left it in the road.

X We went down to Welwyn, the old town, not the Garden City which was a bold social experiment at the time but not to my taste nor to my cousin’s. We prefer a less planned feeling. X

My cousin was up for anything, a very enterprising man. On one occasion I remember , this would have been in a public place, a man said to him “Hey do you want to go into business with me immediately?’ My cousin had a hunch that this man was the flavour of the future. This turned out to be correct and in the future Rory, that’s my cousin, is now something of a big magnate with a lot of spending money.

X It hasn’t changed him, he’s still oddly flat in his manner and in his dealing with others he continues to avoid eye contact to such an extent that, paradoxically, it’s actually quite hard to remember his face. X

I mean I’ve known him for yonks but you realise that with most people it’s looking them in the face and them looking back that seals them in your memory.

X I can look at Rory’s face anytime I want, when he’s not aware of it, for instance, and I can study it but even then I can’t hold it all in my mind in the same time. I’m sure if Rory went away and was replaced by someone similar, like you get sometimes, you might not know. You’d know eventually because the other person wouldn’t be so flat, which is odd about Rory. X

SECTION 8: GRETCHEN 2
GRETCHEN X My caravan was nearer to Norway than England. It was in the Shetlands. I tended animals and strode the strand with the wind in my hair. I was first approached in 1971 which is thirtynine years ago as the crow flies. A figure stepped out of the mist and bid me ‘Good day Missis.’I thought little of it. I was reading a lot back then. X

The work of Woolf, Mansfield, Murdoch, Stein, some Blyton – ‘The Twins at St Clare’s’, some Marsh – “Death in a White Tie”, Grace Kelly’s book “I was once Grace Kelly before I married Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956 then died in a car on a twisting road on a mountainside having had a stroke from which I never recovered

X and it was then said that I had been driving on the same stretch of highway that had been featured in my 1955 movie ‘To Catch a Thief’, but my son Prince Albert has always denied it. And at my funeral the actor James Stewart said ‘You know, I just love Grace Kelly. X

Not because she was a princess, not because she was an actress, not because she was my friend, but because she was just about the nicest lady I ever met. God bless you, Princess Grace.’” It was so sad, so sad. She represented something. I don’t think she was like that. I was comfortable with that.’

X If you concentrate hard enough , and I mean really hard, the mind can be brought to create any particular object desired. The Tibetans call this concretized visualization a Tulpa, meaning a magically produced illusion or creation. X

Imagine, though, being followed by Cliff Richard. Imagine if every time you thought of him you couldn’t help thinking about his backing group The Shadows. And then every time Cliff turned up, perhaps you’d be on the beach in a ruminative frame of mind and lo and behold there’s Cliff walking towards you but he’s got his fucking band along with him. Jesus.’

X Anyway, I heard him again ‘Good day, Missis’ and this time by the long road that skirts the beach and runs up to the trees and then the hills and then the mountains and I was in the mountains and he said ‘Just come down. Just come down, Gretchen.’ I wondered how he knew my name. I was living incognito. In Lerwick. I was known as Angela. I was visited by my sister Betty to whom I bore an uncanny resemblance. X

I was visited by her on the beach where sometimes she would approach me through the spume across the shingle her arms outstretched and I would cry out thinking I saw myself and perhaps I had died she was my ghost and I had died in Lerwick closer to Norway where I had never been and never wanted to and people say, ‘My goodness, you were relatively close to Bergen and you never took the ferry and I’d say well it is cold enough and quiet and dark enough here why would I go to Bergen?’

SECTION 9: DIALOG 2
TIMMY (INDICATING THE BISCUITS) Are those digestives?
BOBBIN They have been here throughout.
TIMMY Don’t mind if do.
(HE TAKES A BISCUIT AND STARTS TO EAT IT)
Just when you want a biscuit, there is a biscuit.
GRETCHEN Not always.
BOBBIN I seem to remember difficulties with them.
TRINA Perhaps that is a fear rather than a true memory.
TIMMY Shall we walk along the coast?
GRETCHEN Do we need our coats?
BOBBIN Not on this occasion.
TRINA Shall we walk to The Sloop?
TIMMY What is a sloop?
GRETCHEN It’s about the size of a cat. It has a bushy tail and and a yellow bib marking on its throat.
TRINA That’s a pine marten.
TIMMY Is it welcoming?
TRINA Oh yes. They love berries.
BOBBIN Let’s go there!
EXIT ALL EXCEPT TRINA, CHEERFULLY.
BIRDSONG

SECTION 10: TRINA
TRINA To get where I am today, Gretchen and Bobbin and Timmy, I turned right at the road and over the hedge and into the field and under the bridge and along the track and down to the dark stream and up to the copse and across to the pools and over the leaves and through the bushes and into the hedges like houses and between all the reeds with edges like knives and up to the trees with black boughs bleeding and the yellowing weeds that were rotting like twigs under logs squeezing the sod like sponges the water came down my wrists and under my jacket with dozens of creatures and spiders and leeches and there were the men with their vans and their string walking the woods with hands in their coats clutching paper and wrappers and clippers and cutters and things for removing the whores and the harlots like Wendy and Charlotte who got away by the skin of their teeth from the creep who sat by the pool his dick in his hand beating the meat saying Girls why are you out in this place as the light drops through the sky and the crows settle down the rabbits retreat to their homes that don’t have windows or curtains or seats by the fire just earth and more earth and some roots and some shit by the door that’s where you belong Ruth and your friend my name isn’t Ruth so fuck off you jerk and we ran to the town down the lane to the house where we turned on the lights and looked through the drapes at the lamp in the street where a dog with three legs and a growth on his neck carried a pizza and pissed on the post while wolfing the slice including the bag then glanced at the house and his eyes both went red and the beams cut through the night and the fog and up on his legs he tore at his chest his coat fell apart like a coat on the road and out from his guts her hair all in flames stepped the girl with white lashes white brows in the palest of silks no dots in her eyes no marks on her skin she stepped off the kerb slid past the cars and knocked on my door I’m not in I’m not in she pushed and was through in the blink of an eye she said I’ve come to stay I don’t eat I don’t sleep I said there’s no room she said who needs room she moved fast I felt sick she pushed at my breast slipped in through my chest at which point I acquired all of her charms her light and her dark her brutal disdain and Gretchen and Timmy and Bobbin you’re thinking just what did she get that was worth such a palaver my spirit my soul well to be frank I never had either so there was nothing to lose it’s not like there are insults or upsets or outcries and such like no we’re working together she lives off my fear it gives her resolve it keeps her on tiptoe she just says Why not when you can and Go on what stops you there’s no system no one is watching is there someone above you someone who’s counting or checking fuck that there’s no one there’s nothing it’s all just a story come on over it’s better you do what you want you live where you can you eat what you find you fuck if you want to there are no higher powers or despicable drives it’s just what you are so fuck all the ups and the downs you don’t have to tread like a girl on some eggs that will shatter if you don’t gaze at your shoes like some worm on a log in a wood in the winter no let’s go now you and I not like a nation ether-eyed beneath the table but striding straight to places where the pirates piss the divers decompress the gliders come to roost the motherfuckers do their mothers and me and Angelina can just come and go talking to Michael and to Joe just like citizens well not exactly so more like shadows that you pass but on close inspection they are so hard you cannot put a finger through them and crikey are they there they so much are you wonder was it me that chose to turn away rather than there being little there to see so here I am and this is me she’s in me now she’s hot against my chest or is it desperately cold she makes me grow so fast sometimes I catch her in the glass as she turns away her hair is white her brow is high she can’t go far she needs my warmth she likes to feel my blood run by her as she settles down and down and if at any point I want her out all I have to do is tear myself apart

END

Link to Dash #6 in right hand column

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