a play by
Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
based on Euripides

Male Actor plays

Female Actor plays
Woman in labor

The play is performed on a fragmented set. In the original production, the Prof was unmasked but donned masks for all the characters. Medea was unmasked, with face painting more elaborate as the action proceeded.
A music score by Elizabeth Fuller is available.
© 1981 Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
All rights reserved.
For production information, contact WordWorkers, 800-357-6016 or E-mail.
Central area of collapsed pipe and structural fragments. Through the visible area, blackboards bearing fractured texts:
Far right, a neat, separately lighted area, with lectern, chair, microphone, and blackboard.
Lights fade to blackout. Taped voice speaks.
TAPE: Please sit up in your seats. Fold your hands.
Silence. Harsh lights up in destroyed space. PROF stands at the edge of space, up left, briefcase in hand. As the voice continues, he crosses the space toward the separate area, cautiously and indirectly.
Please sit up in your seats. Fold your hands. No smoking. Stay alive.
PROF reaches separate area. Lights fade on central space. Taped music. PROF opens briefcase, checks notecards, writes on blackboard in Greek: MEDEA. In English: MEDEA. Sits, studies cards.
Doncha see
Well now
Doncha see
What the dark ladies doing
Doncha see
How the dark moon swinging
Cigarette burning closer to the fingertips
Dark ladies rubbing their fingertips
Just because
Oh doncha see
Doncha know
Doncha wanna
Doncha go
Doncha go slow so slow—
Sharp buzzer. Taped voice.
Please sit up in your seats. Fold your hands. Keep off the grass.
Extinguish all materials. Do not pass Go. Enter single file.
Music. Blinding lights fade. Lights on PROF. He rises, looks at blackboard, which reads: I OPEN DOORS TO EMPTY ROOMS. He stands motionless.
Well now
Doncha see
What the dark ladies turning to
Long faces turning to
Soft hands yearning to
Cigarette burning closer now
Bitter now
Oh doncha see
Doncha know
Doncha wanna
Doncha go
So slow
Honey slow...
Music change. PROF erases, writes: LOVE GLOWS. Dim light in central space: WOMAN lying on back, draped in white. Sudden movement, then she subsides into compulsive rocking.
Taped voice, reading ancient Greek: opening lines of Euripides’ MEDEA. Fade under. New voice.
In Olympus, Hera and Athene planned how Jason might win the Golden Fleece. They caused Medea, King Aeetes’ daughter, to burn with sudden passion for him. Her passion was kept burning by the cries of a bird staked out on a firewheel. Aeetes set impossible tasks for Jason, but Medea helped him yoke the fire-breathing bulls and win the Fleece, and he swore to keep faith with her forever.
Sharp buzzer. WOMAN makes a sudden, convulsive movement, then subsides. PROF comes to microphone, cards in hand. Sound of surf.
PROF: Love glows. The one ancient theme. You go through college, you snag your degrees, and you think you’re well insured against the past. But your wife’s in labor. Thirty hours. Thirty hours, and it’s like the sea, the waves never stop, you splash into the waves to stop the pain. No, sort your cards and try to go on with the lecture, you have to cover what’s on the test. And it sticks in the head, the odor of ancient blood, you take the memory, like an old empty suitcase, into the labor room. Thirty hours, and the mythical figures you always thought were domestic pets, Clytemnestra, Agave, Medea, run through your head like old jingles, possess you, consume you, you have to erase. Erase. Third grade, the best little pupil got to erase the blackboard. Years later, a professor, I learned to erase whole students. Whole civilizations for which there was insufficient lecture time. Erasure became a habit. Erase to pay bills. Erase to make room for the kids. Erase before you come to bed. Erase the years. Love glows.
Music. WOMAN makes a sudden movement, contracting, tossing head side to side. Subsides. Taped voice. PROF produces mask of NURSE, holds it, does nothing. Another voice speaks, simultaneously..
TAPE: Jason took Medea as wife. After many adventures, they came to the land of Jason’s birth. But Pelias had killed Jason’s parents. Medea charmed him to sleep and commanded his daughters to cut him in pieces, as a means of giving their father eternal youth. They did so. He was never the same again.
NURSE: All right, honey.
It’s all right.
It’s your nurse.
Your old nurse.
Your nanny.
It’s coming.
It’s coming all right.
There’s a baby there.
It serves you right.
Buzzer. PROF steps to mike.
PROF: I make notes. Clytemnestra, Agave, Medea, the classical myth. The fragments they missed when the libraries burned. Thirty hours. They must have had babies too, or we wouldn’t exist. They must have had pain, or else we wouldn’t be crying. Organize the notes. Outline the points on cards, rubber band the cards, scan to think what I meant. Somewhere I knew what it meant. Just before I woke up. Stand in front of the class, and I read the cards, lose my place in the cards, I ramble. Snag my tongue in the shredder. Little humor. And I read my cards, they take notes on my cards, they prepare for a test on my cards, while I lose track of my cards, and that is the process of civilization. When the massacre spread, they fumbled the cards, so the cards are in disarray. It’s hardly noticed. She rolls her head for thirty hours, but that’s not on the cards. They must have had pain.
Music. WOMAN tries to sit up, then subsides, nods in pain. Taped voice. PROF produces mask of AEGEUS, holds it, tests it. Another voice speaks, simultaneously.
TAPE: Jason and Medea arrived in Corinth. They lived together for years and bore two children. Then Jason conceived a desire to marry Creusa, daughter of Creon, king of Corinth. Medea pretended submission, but sent a poisoned robe to the bride, who burst into flame, consuming bride, king, and all the court. Some say Corinthians killed Medea’s children. Others, that she killed them herself. For this deed she gained immortality.
AEGEUS: Oh my dream.
A little baby.
It’s a son.
A little son.
Or a daughter.
One or the other.
Just what she promised.
She’s doing her job.
That’s the way they do it.
Oh my dream.
Buzzer. PROF steps to mike.
PROF: Wear a mask. Keep in the germs. March down the aisle to exchange your wedding masks. This won’t be on the test. I’d like to say there won’t be a test, but there will be a test on Tuesday. Every Tuesday is a test. So we wear masks to sterilize the past, numb the present, scare off the future. Approach the unapproachable. Clytemnestra, Agave, Medea, a wife in labor, and they only let the husband in the room, but he brings his nightmares along and it gets so crowded. Medea, Medea, Jason, Creusa, Creon, all the names on the test. The world next to ours, behind it, parallel, the world under the sidewalks, behind the blackboard, in the spines of books, in the spines. Go to college, study the names, they give these names to our fears, they give us tests on the names, and we graduate knowing the names but masking the fears. Wear a mask. Babble. Sharpen your pencils.
Music. WOMAN twists onto her side, reaches to water basin, runs water through fingers. Taped voice. PROF stares at blackboard. Disappears.
TAPE: Medea fled to Athens, protected by King Aegeus. Some say she helped him father children by magic, others that she herself bore his child. Jason wandered homeless city to city, hated by men. In old age he returned to Corinth, sat in the shadow of his rotting ship, the Argo, remembering his children. The prow of the ship toppled forth and killed him. Medea never died. She became immortal and dwelt among us.
Music change. PROF appears in mask of NURSE, distant. Approaches WOMAN, stands above her.
NURSE: Oh goddess of night,
If they’d broken the hands of men who cut ships out of forests,
If women could die once they’d spawned,
Then she’d not have left home,
She’d not have tracked the blood,
She’d have left the heroes alone to stuff the dragon’s mouth.
All that nagging mumble of words,
The stale accusations,
The sniveling lies,
The wailing salt weeping wind...
Does it hurt?
It serves you right.
Pregnant again. Didn’t you have enough of men?
Have babies with someone you love, how do you couple with someone you don’t?
Sixty years old, the old monkey,
Old leftovers from yesterday’s lunch.
He’s out there, waiting to see his baby.
Oh you’ll have the baby, you’ll love it,
They’ll dress it up, teach it to count, march it off.
I had two boys, your father sent them off to fight a war.
They think a boy knows how to fight a war.
You remember your other babies?
You miss your other babies?
Forget those babies.
Do your job.
WOMAN writhes, subsides. NURSE stands near her head.
It’s your nurse, your old nurse, your nanny.
It was me that washed you, remember,
Me that bandaged your fingers,
I brought out your other babies, remember,
That was me.
Easy now.
I’ll have to strap you down.
This is Athens now, they don’t do it like animals here.
They don’t do it like mother cats,
They lay on their backs,
They do it the civilized way.
I know, I carried the bees in my heart too,
And at twilight I felt the whine, the tickle.
And I had my babies.
But I was nurse to Medea,
The Princess Medea
Born with the yellow hair.
I had work to do.
Clean up your mess.
Clean up your mess.
Heroes make such a mess,
Track the blood over polished tiles,
And the hero’s whores.
That’s what they called you,
Called my baby,
Yellow hair.
WOMAN writhes, subsides. NURSE kneels, grasps her.
Easy now,
I’ll strap you down.
Just yell out when it hurts.
Hurts when they’re born,
It hurts when they die,
I’m here to tell you it hurts.
They’re born, and you know they’ll die,
And in between they listen for secrets,
Plague of whispers across the sky.
When you were born, oh your mother cursed,
She groaned, she hit me square in the jaw,
Knocked me flat.
And you came out laughing,
You thought she was having fun.
You thought you were a joke.
WOMAN tries to rise. NURSE restrains her roughly, straddles her.
Flat on your back.
We do it the way they tell us.
Makes it hurt, but that’s so you’ll love the baby.
Remember your other babies?
You didn’t love’em enough.
Now honey you listen.
As she speaks, she straps the WOMAN down.
Now listen to your nanny.
I talk, it’s the rustle of leaves,
You’re jumping into the leaves,
They tell stories on your skin.
And the hero, he sails to the sun,
It’s the fleece of a golden ram,
And the princess, the yellow-hair princess,
She falls in love.
And they steal the fleece,
They steal the sun’s whiskers,
The sun’s yellow hair,
And then they run, oh they run,
They run for years and years,
And the fleece gets old and gray and raveled out.
So the fates give them presents
On their birthdays.
Because there is pain, nightfall.
Because there is dying, lust.
Because there is change, forgetting.
Because the eyes burn, tears.
Because there are seas to sail, great ships to sail the seas.
Because it all fails, laughter.
Strapping is complete. WOMAN struggles, motionless.
Have the baby, honey, keep the baby alive,
Hold his bones together.
How are the pains?
WOMAN: Close.
NURSE: I feel the heart.
WOMAN: Shuddering.
WOMAN: Stop it.
NURSE: Too late.
You have to do it early,
As soon as you start to hold in your blood.
By now it’s got a mind of its own,
It won’t listen to you,
It’s got a mind of its own.
Rises, walks into distance.
Sure you want to stop it,
Stop the tide.
Remember the yellow-hair princess?
She dreams an army of dolphins to stop the tide.
We laughed at that.
You thought you could stop things to happen by having dreams.
Dream it away.
Just try.
NURSE disappears. Music change. WOMAN screams. Bright lights in audience’s eyes, blinding. Image of PROF, erasing. Taped voice.
TAPE: Contractions at one-minute intervals, dilation complete. Time stretches like a scarf knitted of years. Shadows enter. Some versions make no mention of other birth while other versions make no mention of other versions trace her to Athens where she bears a child. In spite of her crimes she bears a child, though not without calling phantoms to smother the birth, though others make no mention of phantoms make no mention of phantoms make no men—
Blinding lights fade. Sound of water trickling. Lights in central area. WOMAN is MEDEA, squatting, running fingers through water in bowl.
Sound of surf. PROF appears in distance, masked as CREON. He carries a scroll.
CREON: Medea.
I come without invitation,
But I come.
You know the subject.
Jason, your children’s father, weds my daughter.
The marriage takes place today.
This happens, you know.
A man, a middle-aged man, grows tired,
He looks for his youth,
He looks in the eyes of a younger woman, perhaps.
We know this happens.
The marriage takes place today.
Silence. He approaches.
And of course we may have our feelings,
That’s not my concern.
You are of royal birth,
You understand.
I come here as king,
I bring the message myself.
You are banished.
You may speak if you like, my decision is firm.
This marriage serves the kingdom well.
I must insure that nothing interferes.
You can understand.
Do you understand?
Frankly I was surprised.
You threatened my daughter’s life,
You spoke treason in the presence of slaves,
Your hysterics do not befit a woman of royal birth.
You give me no choice.
You are banished from Corinth.
You leave today.
You do understand.
CREON: At once.
MEDEA: I have nowhere to go.
CREON: No matter.
MEDEA: Listen
CREON: Speak
MEDEA: No matter.
CREON: I tell you frankly
My decision is based on fear.
Total fear.
You may call me a frozen old man,
But was I ever young?
A king, he’s young for a day,
And then the hopes die.
I am father to my daughter and to my people.
My people sprout, frolic and wither
Never touching the cold manly terror clenched in my heart.
The child sleeps in nightmare,
The father sees nightmare in the brightest sun.
In this life of terror,
The one most fit to rule is the one who is most afraid.
I have no dreams:
My nightmares stand before me.
And so I banish them.
MEDEA: Well said.
CREON: Your husband would understand.
MEDEA: My husband.
CREON: Your children’s father.
MEDEA: My husband.
I have married many husbands.
They come in turn, all but the first.
I’ve not seen the first for many years.
He was young, he gave me songs and celebration.
I married a warrior husband, he gave me pride and bloody hands.
And he was a twin to the first.
I married a weakling, who came to nurse.
I married a fool, who gave me the love of a fool.
I married a politician, who gave me nothing.
My husbands fumble my body,
One after another,
All with a single face.
CREON: So now you’re rid of it.
MEDEA: And you’ve banished your fears.
CREON: I fear only chaos,
The epidemic that stalks back alleyways.
I come near you I smell its breath.
MEDEA: I ration my breath.
You tell what I already know.
My slaves have told me,
My husband’s silence has told me,
My mirror has told me.
You break my fingers and ask my to shake your hand.
CREON: I said what I came to say.
MEDEA: Then why do you stay?
Does my magic root you here?
CREON: Perhaps I look for the woman who spoke gentle words.
MEDEA: You look for a woman who begs.
I will not beg to be a beggar.
I will not plead for justice.
I do understand.
This marriage serves your people.
The land has been stagnant, dithering,
But now they will feel a new spirit.
Call it hope, sunrise, a new spirit blows across the land,
A gentle breeze, a whisper,
Something they haven’t felt for so long,
A budding, freshening morning,
I understand.
I understand this lie.
It’s the lie I told Pelias’ daughters.
Restore your father’s youth, but first you must cut him in pieces.
It’s the common lie.
They hardly notice that what they’re cutting is flesh.
So give your people spirit, new life in their bones.
Like Pelias.
New life.
CREON: A marriage—
MEDEA: My marriage—
CREON: Your marriage was no marriage.
Your alliance to Jason was made in barbaric lands.
This is a kingdom with laws.
It is not valid here.
MEDEA: Then I scour my hands.
I had no husband, no children.
I shed no blood.
CREON: You talk of bloodshed, but we celebrate a marriage.
MEDEA: The two are coupled.
CREON: There will be no talk of death on a marriage day.
MEDEA: This is a kingdom with laws.
Death is not valid here.
CREON: Read the proclamation: you leave today.
MEDEA: Jason’s bride is not your daughter.
CREON: Jason’s bride—
MEDEA: Yourself.
You are his bride, he is yours.
Two politicians in sexless copulation.
It’s done by shaking hands.
Yes, my marriage was barbaric.
I chose a hero, and now I sleep with a politician.
He was lean, and now he quivers in layers of comfort.
He mistrusts his own muscle, he yokes his will to another’s hands.
He sees himself in the eyes of others: he never looks in the mirror.
He babbles of power, security, the future, the people, himself.
He’s such a fool.
The politician fathers children,
Stillborn, withered, it’s never noticed.
They feed at the table, they go to school, they marry, bear children,
They raise generations of dead.
He sits with the dead, the committees of dead,
The respected, elected councils of dead.
And the dead lay plans to enlarge the parliament of dead.
You have wedded my husband.
You bed him in shame.
You have him pregnant,
Bloated with death.
CREON: Riddles. Enough.
MEDEA: Enough.
Then I’ll play the statesman.
You have enemies around, enemies within.
Send me into exile.
Break the marriage.
Wrong the mother of children.
In my homeland, when a man kills a woman
We bury her flesh with slivers of quartz:
It draws the lightning.
CREON: Riddles again.
MEDEA: Let your enemies shelter me.
Give them a symbol: kingdoms trade in symbols
Let them stir your people against the breaker of homes.
Rapist of justice.
CREON: So at last you beg for justice.
CREON: Threaten.
MEDEA: For my children.
My children, only for them.
My children have a birthright to live in Corinth.
CREON: This stagnant, dithering Corinth?
This Corinth you despise?
MEDEA: Better than exile.
Wandering land to land, wreckage dashed in the surf.
To live in alleys, to beg from the bloated, faceless lady who covers her nose.
We smell of the epidemic, she covers her nose.
Her scrubbed little children, they toss copper pennies,
They learn their heartwarming lesson,
They dance home to tell their father.
And the faceless man,
He strips my daughters, he swallows my sons.
Except those we bear in the dead of night
And prick out their eyes so no one can see the glitter.
Jason may smear himself on any bed he likes,
But my children have a birthright:
To live in Corinth.
We will live in Corinth, or else there will be no Corinth.
CREON: This is quickly settled then.
They will stay here.
You are banished.
Of course.
They will stay with their father.
Poor children, to live in alleys, wandering land to land.
Wreckage dashed in the surf.
MEDEA: The children are mine.
CREON: In our land the children are seed of the father. The mother is only a shell.
MEDEA: Mine.
CREON: They’ll be safe with the rapist of justice.
MEDEA: Don’t take my babies!
She rushes at him, is caught against pipes, collapses. Silence.
CREON: My babies.
The woman’s voice at last.
You will keep your children.
They will share your exile.
But not today.
Not today. Tomorrow will do.
Today there is a wedding.
You will celebrate.
You will smile.
You will declare your marriage dissolved.
You will send gifts to the bride.
Yes, kingdoms trade in symbols.
And you will show our enemies there is no injustice here.
You will send gifts to the bride.
You mock the politician,
But it’s only a skill, like weaving or catching fish.
You asked why I stay.
Well, I fished for a thread, I pull the thread, the web unravels.
You should learn from this:
Never reveal your bond to flesh outside your own flesh.
I have the same failing:
If anyone knew my love for my daughter, they’d use it against me.
Even she.
Why be silent? Call me savage, I know the babble.
No? Then stand silent, but no one applauds.
Try to plot? Conflagrations? Your mind is a blank.
Your magic claims only victims who lead themselves to the swamp.
But not today.
Your columns begin to crumble, you shiver,
A naked, ravished girl, shivering,
Squatting on marble tiles.
MEDEA breaks down.
You celebrate. You smile.
You show by your actions you have no grievance against us.
And then tomorrow you go, with your children, away.
Is that the way?
Answer me.
Silence. she rises.
I will send my gifts to the bride.
I have one thing to beg as a beggar.
Let me see my husband.
No. Jason. My children’s father.
CREON: Simple. He has a few moments free.
I’ll send him at once.
Starts to go. Hesitates.
I’ve seen a woman’s aging.
My wife, my mother, the spindle of years.
Selene, Aphrodite, Hecate: the maid, the woman, the crone.
My mother, she’d drink a sweet yellow punch,
Almost liquid sugar, at twilight,
Fill her heart’s cavities.
I sympathize.
Hands her the scroll.
You hold the draft of a statement,
Issued in your name.
He disappears. MEDEA rises, comes forward, removes piece of debris, revealing her children: two short vertical pipe constructions, with reaching hands and featureless faces.
MEDEA: They traded their toys.
They both could count on their fingers.
Before they were born, they danced.
Music. Light change. She begins to paint her face. PROF appears at mike. Checks cards.
TAPE: Doncha see
Well now
Doncha see
What the dark ladies doing...
Tape continues as he speaks.
PROF: Well there are laws. And many laws go back to these ancient times: the laws of a mother’s love, the laws of generation, the laws of getting and spending, the laws of eating breakfast, the laws of final exams, the laws of retribution, mitosis, and that is the process of civilization, the laws doubling, doubling, redoubling like rampant cells. I have it in the notes, and you can learn the ancient languages, the syllables, and understand it as little as they did then. I have it all in the notes. But they spoke in longer phrases then, a fuller pain, and they had no doctor-tested preparations to ease the itch. Their knives made wounds that never heal. And that’s the nature of sin: what makes a wound that never heals. And that’s why birth is original sin: it never, never heals.
Music continues. He turns to blackboard, erases. Starts to write. Instead, draws a garish, absurd face. Looks at it, disappears. Light changes.
Sound of surf. PROF appears in distance, masked as JASON. He approaches MEDEA.
JASON: I’m glad to hear the children are well.
JASON: I’ve missed them.
I suppose they’re still fighting.
Brother and sister, fight like dogs.
JASON: They’ve had lessons.
I’ve made provisions.
You have a choice of several cities to go,
With the children.
JASON: I’ll miss them.
I should have come sooner.
I shied away from the words.
MEDEA: Dragon teeth.
JASON: Creon told me you accepted things as they are.
You’ll send a gift. You’ll go in peace.
I’m very grateful.
So I felt I should come.
MEDEA: Sunrise.
JASON: Creon advised against it.
I remember in your land women painted their faces.
To honor the bride.
Silence. He comes nearer.
I did love you. So many times.
We had a time of golden deeds, conquest and blood.
And at that time, it passed.
We had a time of exile, starvation, escape from the wolves,
And that time passed.
We had a time of refuge, safety, this land,
And raising the children, maturing, embracing, rejoicing.
That time has passed.
The time has come, for me, to take my place among other men,
Men with respect, with power,
Men who see life as it is, not as we’d like it to be.
That’s the order of things.
And for you.
I took you away from your father, your land,
You fought my battles, you bore my children, my visions, my dream. You’ve been like a slave.
So I give you freedom.
You told me once in your youth, and I remember your eyes:
A woman is grand, a woman is boundless,
A woman is the door from age to age,
All life enters through that door.
A woman moves to the song of the moon and the melting of snows in the moon.
I’ve remembered that.
Your spirit is too large to be contained in four walls.
You have your freedom.
You can be the creature, once again, who touched the shimmering fleece.
MEDEA: You give me freedom.
Then give me full breasts again.
Give me the legs, unbroken.
Give me the unscratched mirror.
JASON: Scars in our mirrors, both of us,
Both alike.
MEDEA: Passing of time.
We mingled populations, fused,
The hot afternoons, the sky’s frenzied licking, the laughter.
We were the heroes of stories, every child knew the stories,
Jason, Medea, the Argonauts,
Blood and blood and the blood-spattered skies.
And then at twilight we shivered.
We couldn’t form the words for water or love.
Our children walked in our night’s dim alleys,
And then we began to chatter.
We chatter, we stand, we chatter, we scuttle, the order, the natural order of things,
To chatter, to scuttle for cover.
I wedded the whirlwind,
It sucked out from my hollows,
I coupled with serpents,
I bore a silver egg in the cradle of night.
I tried to hatch it.
It was sterile.
Sterile, cracked and stale.
JASON: Then it’s well worth losing.
So be it. Be satisfied.
MEDEA: You traded off the fleece, the golden fleece, for a cargo of slaves,
Who died of boils.
JASON: We traded many things.
Sometimes we lost by the trade.
MEDEA: You carry on your trading.
JASON: I trade beggary for respect.
I trade the fleece for a warm woolen robe,
To keep out the winter.
MEDEA: Waste for waste.
JASON: We’ve made the trade.
There’s no way to turn back time.
MEDEA: Time is kind.
I have a husband who makes my exile welcome.
JASON: You made your exile.
You spoke against the king.
MEDEA: I speak, I speak, I’m never done with speaking.
The words are excrement,
The words flow into the sewers, they spread epidemics.
JASON: Then better not speak.
MEDEA: Or do the unspeakable?
Destruction, I spread it like grapes at harvest.
But I was not evil.
A field, it ceases to bear, you burn it, it’s bathed in rain,
It opens its fertile lips.
I was not evil.
Evil withers. Evil erases. Evil parches the lips.
Evil trades.
It traded the fleece.
It traded off our children, our seed,
It scarred the mirror, it cheated the dead.
JASON: The dead forgive and forget.
MEDEA: Forget the killing?
JASON: Killing is killing.
MEDEA: We’ve had lessons.
JASON: You gave it birth.
MEDEA: You gave it seed.
JASON: Then turn back time.
MEDEA: Boils.
JASON: Waste.
MEDEA: All the words.
JASON: Lost. Wasted. Gone.
We made love, we snared the fleece,
you cast the spells,
I faced the dragon, you put it to sleep.
We were fools.
The fleece was daydream, nothing was worth it.
It’s you with the bloody hands!
And now that my face is fuller, my hands are softer, my eyes are older, You hate me.
No, you don’t love me enough to hate.
It’s comic: you imagine I love Creusa, my bride,
That I have that passion again.
Yes my hands are restless for a women,
But I’m so tired of all that.
We’ll wed, we’ll lie together,
And my body does its foulness on hers,
And then we’re done with that.
I’m sick of the sound of women, the smell of women, the chatter of women,
The clumsy groping for women.
If men could make their children another way
And the women were herded together and burned in the fire they stir—
Violently, he embraces her hips. She cries out. They are frozen.
If I didn’t marry, what then?
We’d grow old in pallid disgust.
You’d dream of your youthful killer,
And I’d think of the times I woke at night,
Look at you, touch.
The spasm pulses and dies. That’s the trade.
You like it?
MEDEA: My first act of magic, I was very small.
I reached for a rose, I grabbed, and thorns pierced my fingers.
A moment I thought my fingers had turned to roses.
A fluid came from within me, a wonderful magic I held.
And they said, Oh you’ve cut your finger,
And I forgot.
And then I became a woman,
Again there was blood, again the magic, the moon and I.
And that became common, a bother
And I forgot.
Then I lay with a man, this man whose shadow speaks.
And when that had ceased to be magic, I bore a child.
I often think there must be another step.
There has always been.
JASON releases her, backs away.
JASON: We have our lives to live.
The natural order.
You’ll not hear what a shadow speaks.
Make your own silence.
He disappears. Music. MEDEA stands motionless. Then she bites deeply into her wrist. Blood. Presses wrist. Rocks compulsively.
PROF appears. Stares at blackboard. Light change. Buzzer. Taped voice speaks.
TAPE: The term suicide signifies the premature expulsion of the products of conception, of the embryo, or of a nonviable fetus.
Tape continues repeating itself as PROF comes to mike, speaks.
PROF: She objects to the natural order of things. They stop at the truckstop for coffee, the old men at the window table. They sit by the table, eating. Today as every day. They know each other’s faces, they sag into each other’s lives, they plan to celebrate the other’s funeral, they trade their deepest beliefs on the sports scores. They observe the slow or sudden graying of hair. They nod at the waitress’s hips. They giggle, then choke. They mimic the snorting of stallions, Zeus on Europa’s flanks. Old men dying over their coffee, dying more each time she passes.
Buzzer. PROF looks at blackboard. Taped voice.
TAPE: The term suicide signifies the premature expulsion of the products of conception or the fetus.
Tape continues repeating itself as PROF turns to mike.
PROF: If the waitress were dead. If she would only wrinkle, they might live out the year. But her breasts milk out their bone marrow, her flowering saps their juice. Their football scores mean nothing to her, she keeps no score. They dream of a leader to kill her, subdue her, destroy her and lead them off marching to war without paying the bill. They dream.
Buzzer. PROF looks at blackboard. Taped voice.
TAPE: The term suicide signifies the premature expulsion of the products.
Tape continues repeating itself as PROF turns to mike.
PROF: And the young men, the lovers, those who have stopped with their girls at the truckstop for coffee, for love, to play the pinball and win the fleece, they rise and join the old men.
Buzzer. PROF looks toward blackboard. Taped voice.
TAPE: The term signifies premature expulsion.
Tape continues repeating.
PROF: They sit at the window table. They trade. The girls are cleared away with the coffee cups. The natural order of things. To sit at the window table. Trading. Dying.
TAPE: Suicide implies the products of conception.
PROF underlines face on blackboard. Disappears.
Sound of surf. Light change. MEDEA sits, face half covered with garment. PROF appears in distance, masked as AEGEUS.
AEGEUS: I think I see her. I think I do.
You see me? Guess who I am? Can you guess?
Don’t be afraid. I’m not a crackpot. I’m an old man.
Let me look.
Medea. The little princess.
The little golden-haired girl who never stopped dancing.
Years ago, I visited your father, trade negotiations.
You wouldn’t know me, of course, I was young, I was strong,
I was dressed in bright armor.
I know I’ve startled you.
I came directly from the port, and of course I bypassed the usual customs,
I should have announced myself to your husband, of course, and the king, But my time is short.
I am Aegeus, king of Athens, and I remember you.
The same hair, and you covered your face, I remember,
Until you started to dance.
I remember rising, early morning, look out the window,
There you were in the street. You held a dead bird,
Breathing into it, life, blew as hard as you could.
It stayed dead. And you cried.
Medea, help me.
Aegeus, king of Athens, son of Pandion son of Demnos, is childless.
I am childless.
I have no children.
I went to the oracle of Apollo, to ask how children might be mine,
And Apollo gave me wise words. Very wise. Too wise to understand.
Oh I have a wife, but my wife is old,
And it’s my failure, I admit,
Around my fortieth year, the headaches, the eyes,
You could look in my eyes and see the nightmares forming.
The oracle declares that Medea bears the secret.
You bear the secret.
MEDEA: I remember your eyes. They’re crossed.
AEGEUS: That’s right. They do.
MEDEA: So you see her torn down the middle.
You should see her at other times.
She raves, she curses, she whines,
And the weather never changes.
She sits and stares, snake eyes, like a rock.
She won’t even look at the children.
She fumbles old memories.
She hears the wedding dances.
She touches her withered skin.
AEGEUS: Oh you’re not old.
You’re the yellow-haired princess.
MEDEA: I heard by way of a merchant ship that my father in Colchis died.
He’d begun to swell, the swelling went to his throat.
They gave him herbs to turn the blood against itself,
And the swelling went down.
Then one night he blew blood out his nose.
The funeral was quick.
Untangle the fingers.
What was it to me?
I couldn’t go back and see the wax doll they’d wrapped in a box.
But I caught an echo:
The plaintive, desolate spasm that engendered me.
The man going numb, passion squeezed out, mindless of what he’d spawned.
I saw his grave, covered with flowers,
Flowers spewed like the laughter of drunkards.
He died the day of my fortieth year.
My fortieth birth.
What I bore in the future, murders or births, was in my bowels.
My sins against him were done, and his against me.
AEGEUS: I knew your father. Yellow hair. A thousand friends.
MEDEA: You come for help.
See her.
Reveals her painted face.
Remember the princess.
AEGEUS: You’ve covered your face.
MEDEA: To honor the bride.
AEGEUS: Bride?
MEDEA: Jason’s bride.
AEGEUS: Jason?
MEDEA: Jason, Jason, Jason’s bride.
Do you understand?
AEGEUS: Yes, I see. Oh my.
Medea, appeal to the king. Appeal to Creon.
He’ll see that justice is done.
MEDEA: Creon’s daughter is Jason’s bride.
Creon drives me out of Corinth.
He drives me out.
AEGEUS: Exile. I see.
But Jason, your husband, he’ll protect you,
His courage, heroics—
MEDEA: My husband’s heroics are for his bride.
AEGEUS: Yes. I see.
But how could he dare?
MEDEA: His courage, heroics.
AEGEUS: Oh my princess, is there no one to help?
MEDEA: Yourself.
The oracle sends you. Have pity. Protect me.
Receive me into your land.
AEGEUS: I see.
MEDEA: Receive me in Athens.
AEGEUS: We’ve always lived in peace with Corinth.
Creon, I’ve known him all my life.
MEDEA: Help me.
AEGEUS: I sympathize.
But kings, you know, they always mistrust.
To harbor an exile. We’ve always lived in peace.
MEDEA: Protect me.
AEGEUS: Life is unfair.
But that’s the way men are: they go after younger girls.
And kings, they always mistrust. That’s the way they are.
MEDEA: Shelter me.
AEGEUS: And my people, you know.
They’ve heard the stories, wonderful stories, Jason, Medea, the golden fleece.
But Jason was father to glory, and you were midwife to demons.
No, I should pay my respects to Creon, but then I must go.
MEDEA: And you are childless.
MEDEA: You are childless.
You sit by the window, childless, your face is blurred.
You hear voices through the walls,
You go to the doorway, the room is empty.
Childless. Childless. Without child. Without a child.
AEGEUS: No no.
MEDEA: You cast me out.
Bite into the womb, expel the fruit, scatter me into the night.
The laughter pierces with cold sharp hands,
The bleeding comes, the bleeding of memories, days,
And your world is a cinder, sterile, blind.
The blearing sun rises with nails in its eyes,
The waters change, the shoreline recedes from your brow,
The wrinkles form in the plains.
Your leaves whiten, your pillars crumble, the bone.
Great cities appear in the skin, abomination.
Your world begins to quake, to spew,
It staggers out of orbit, down alleys that swallow names.
You grope for children, I bear the fruit,
But I’m gone.
AEGEUS: Oh help me. Don’t leave me. Help.
He sprawls at her feet.
I dream of it. I’d fight off armies.
If it’s a son. Or not a son, a daughter. One or the other.
Little baby calls me papa.
You can’t tell what they’ll be, inventors,
Great machines that fly to the clouds, gather golden fibers of sunlight.
The’ll spell any word you think of.
New alphabets that say what we’re trying to say.
And they’ll never walk, they’ll dance.
They’ll dance across oceans like dancing fire.
Oh I looked in the mirror, I saw this nose,
I thought: That’s going to die.
I had to run the table and eat, eat,
Stuff myself, stuff all the empty spots where the shadows could hide.
Laid awake at night, stuck my nose in the pillow to save it.
I want a little baby with a nose.
A funny nose.
Snag my nose on the future
Like a fishhook.
MEDEA: Men have no need for children.
They spawn and they forget.
AEGEUS: No. I swear it. Oath to the gods. I swear.
MEDEA: Pain so you love the baby. Men forget.
AEGEUS: Never.
MEDEA: Jason sends his children to exile.
AEGEUS: He knows they’ll be safe.
MEDEA: And if they died?
AEGEUS: I’ve seen it happen.
Those who’ve lost them are never without them.
The only ones who keep their children always.
MEDEA: Not Jason.
AEGEUS: My brother. The little girl was seven.
She began to cough, the lungs filled up, and she drowned.
MEDEA: The father—
AEGEUS: He built a little box, painted green.
Filled with her dolls, the clothing, pictures of birds.
He sealed it. He sat beside it. His hair turned white.
He tries to pry up the lid, but he sealed it tight.
He fingers the top, the cracks,
Try to find where it opens.
Silence. MEDEA approaches him.
MEDEA: Aegeus. The oracle sends you.
Yes. I know the ways.
I journey into the veins, I move the deepest marrow,
Lie naked among the spirits, my name on their tongues,
I hear my name on the tongues, names and the echoes of names.
Well. We can lie together and dream us a son.
I imagine the body and hands, you picture the face.
I will bear the secret sown in my secret parts,
The echo reechoed.
AEGEUS: Oh yes.
MEDEA: I ask one thing. Sanctuary.
When I leave, you receive me.
I was born a woman.
Whatever is planted, that I nurture.
There is no monster born without a father to monsters.
I will bear your child.
But first I must finish bearing his.
AEGEUS: You bear my child. Oh yes.
Oath to the gods, all the gods, I swear.
She takes his hand, bites. Presses her wrist to his mouth, exchanging blood.
MEDEA: Go to your ships. I will reach your city alone.
AEGEUS departs, chuckling.
AEGEUS: My child. Oh I remember you dancing,
The little golden-haired princess.
You held a dead bird, weeping.
Life, blow it to life.
And you were dancing, dancing...
AEGEUS disappears. Music. MEDEA paints black mark down center of face. Kneels, facing upstage, knees wide, begins incantation.
PROF appears, looking at blackboard. Lights change. He comes to mike.
PROF: There was a dream in which I developed my plans. Knowing it was a dream, I wrote them down so they wouldn’t be lost when I woke. But knowing I only dreamed I wrote them down, I tried to dream blacker markers, repetitions, writing a hundred times. I wrote the modes of retrieval, fingers like fishhooks. And the moment came when I jiggled awake, and the dream split up the middle, and the scraps that remained were scrawled in the language of chickens. And I’ve gone from office to office, room to room, gone to the reference desk for translation. But I can’t be translated. My wife works on the translation thirty hours, but I can’t see the face. I sort out the cards. But I can’t see the face.
He turns to blackboard, looks at face. Wipes eraser across. Disappears.
Light change. As music continues MEDEA chants. Body becomes convulsed with possession. At height of incantation, she arches backward and draws forth, as if from womb, a long fabric of gold.
TAPE: Doncha see
What the dark ladies are bringing
Doncha see
How the roots are clinging
There’s a face in the mirror of the fingertips
Dark ladies brushing with their fingertips
Oh doncha see
Doncha know
Doncha wanna
Doncha go
Doncha go so slow so slow
What the dark ladies doing now
Closer now
Bitter now
Coming now
So slow
So slow
Honey slow...
MEDEA: Lady Moon Lady Moon be near
Bear what is in me to bear
Mother Goddess my Hecate be near
Dance in the frenzied air
Tangle the witchknots tangle my hair
Bear what is in me to bear.
Lady Moon Lady Moon be near
Scatter the grain of despair
Mother Goddess my Hecate be near
Shatter the bones of fear
Burn the calendar burn the year
Bear what is in me to bear.
Lady Moon Lady Moon be near
Spin the strands of his hair
Mother Goddess my Hecate be near
Whisper it into my ear
Sever the covers the lovers share
Bear what is in me to bear.
Sound of surf. She lies still, gold fabric tangled over her. Slowly she gathers herself, rises to sitting position. Gathers fabric into her arms, conceals it under robe. Waits.
PROF appears in distance, masked as JASON. Silence. MEDEA rises, goes to him. Prostrates herself before him, embracing his foot. Rises, goes to distant area.
JASON: Your slave brought a message to come.
JASON: So I came.
MEDEA: They’re drinking wine.
MEDEA: You stand apart. Forgive me.
My heart was savage when we spoke.
But if you have a river in flood at the melting of snows,
And you build a pitiful dam and dam it up,
And you dam it up for six days of melt,
And on the seventh your dam is destroyed and all that lies beyond it,
You cannot blame the river.
JASON: I cast no blame. I’ve enjoyed the wine.
MEDEA: My heart is changed.
You’ve heard the proclamation, my consent to your marriage, my blessing. You’ve heard it read aloud.
JASON: We drank to your health. All the drunkards.
MEDEA: I’m very tired.
JASON: I too.
MEDEA: Jason, we met, we ignited,
We burned a path to the future.
But the climate changed, it was cold, and the fire flickered out.
So you built a slow-burning bed of coals.
For the sake of us both, for the sake of the children,
You built a more lasting fire.
And you gave me a spark of freedom,
A flickering spark to carry barehanded, yes.
I accept. Your wedding gift.
MEDEA: Forgive me.
JASON: With all my heart.
MEDEA: Friendship.
JASON: Forever.
MEDEA: You stand apart.
JASON: It’s hard to believe.
He approaches, tipsy.
MEDEA: I spoke the words I was told to speak,
But now I’ve come to believe them.
Jason, I called you here. We must speak of the children.
When Creon threatened to take them—
JASON: It was a tactic, tactics, I’m sick of the tactics, coercion—
MEDEA: I was horrified.
But my heart is changed. I want what’s best for the children.
Should they come with me, or should they stay in Corinth?
I love them, but their future depends on your choice.
JASON: I can’t ask that of you.
MEDEA: You can’t ask it, but I can ask. Do you love them?
JASON: I love them so much.
MEDEA: Do you want them to stay?
JASON: I could do so much.
The rest of my life for my children.
The soil is fertile here,
I’d raise them as princes, leading citizens of Corinth.
Give them a father,
Let the fruit of our love shine golden as the Fleece.
I love them,
Love them as deeply as my life, my own flesh,
Deeply, deeply inside me.
Why do you turn away?
MEDEA: So you’ll not see my face.
JASON: Tears?
MEDEA: Thinking about the children. What will come.
JASON: To live without them. It’s horrible to think.
MEDEA: No. My tears are tears of joy.
A woman is always crying.
We are decided.
You will have them with you forever.
MEDEA: What must I give to the bride?
JASON: Creusa?
MEDEA: My wedding gift.
JASON: No. Anything. Nothing.
MEDEA: I must know what she likes.
JASON: I can’t tell what she likes. I hardly know her.
MEDEA: New brides and grooms have many trials.
JASON: Mirrors, perhaps.
MEDEA: I have so little. Only one thing fitting.
She holds the golden fabric.
MEDEA: My bridal garment. The garment I wove.
On the Argo I combed out the fleece,
I combed it out, I saved the fibers combed from the fleece,
The discarded carding.
I wove a garment.
JASON: I can’t ask that.
MEDEA: It no longer fits.
I’ve grown older since morning.
It bears the scent of our love,
Soaked into the fiber, steeped in the years.
It may touch her heart, the taste of a marriage.
JASON: Deeply.
MEDEA: The children will bear the gift.
JASON: My children.
MEDEA: I prepare it for her touch. Whisper its secrets.
Stand apart.
JASON goes to distance, turns away. MEDEA crouches, face in the garment.
The morning she saw him she loved,
She loved black horses with golden manes,
Her limbs were in fever,
Limbs clinging, rubbing the bedsheets,
Lady Moon Lady Moon,
The slave led him in,
He smelled the sweat,
No stopping the shivers, the dancing, the spasm,
His mouth was the laughter of Bacchus,
His hands the madness of Heracles
His heart the jaws of Cerberus.
I drew him down beside me,
Body to body caught fire,
I swallowed the fires,
And my Lady Moon Lady Moon embraced us,
Covered us,
Mingled our fires,
Hecate be near.
She comes. She comes.
Be near.
JASON turns. He holds CREUSA: a flowing, nearly featureless mannequin. Her hand is JASON’S hand.
JASON: My bride is here.
MEDEA: Your brides.
We are mirrors. Our images merge.
CREUSA is brought forward to MEDEA. MEDEA touches the face.
Not that much difference. It’s female flesh.
The skin is fragile, you brush, it bleeds.
You consume it like a sweet, you grow soft,
You continue eating because it’s sweet,
And it’s a habit.
We celebrate our marriage.
JASON: I’m grateful she’s come. It shows courage.
JASON allows MEDEA to hold CREUSA. Her hand is MEDEA’S hand. MEDEA animates her, speaks to her, replies for her.
MEDEA: You are young.
And you must be fond of music.
And the children, you’ll have children, little babies to love.
And the world, your world, is warm,
It cradles you, smoothes your skin, your world has soft hands.
But there is pain.
Yes I know you. You’re in the mirror.
My youth, my face in the morning, the princess.
So you’ll have the gift, the last threads of the fleece.
What I combed out,
Impregnated with years and the odor of years.
She embraces the mannequin.
Spirits of wedlock, Lucina, Selene,
Spirits of night be near.
Hecate we loose our hair, my sister and I, be near.
We shed our garments, be near.
I offer the robe.
I offer the coils of fibers.
I offer my sister serpents.
Your father Creon will see how I dress the bride.
I dress you with my marriage.
You feel its embrace.
You will shine.
CREUSA kisses MEDEA. Silence.
Take your bride. Cradle her.
Our children bring the garment.
My gift of years.
JASON’S hand touches MEDEA’s face, passes over to the mannequin’s. He embraces CREUSA, goes into distance, disappears.
Music. MEDEA moves quickly, picks up the constructions representing her children, places them together in center standing upright. Spreads gold fabric before them, places a corner in each of their hands.
They hold the garment. MEDEA walks away, then turns, mimicking gestures of CREUSA. As taped voice continues, MEDEA represents CREUSA: delighted surprise as she sees the gift, delicate approach and touch, taking it into hands, admiring its weave and flow.
TAPE: Years and the odor of years
Lucina Selene sprits of night be near
Hecate be near
I nurture the sun be near
I offer the robe
I offer the fibers
I offer my sister serpents
Years and the odor of years
I dress the bride
I feel the embrace
Hecate be near
I offer the robe
I offer the fibers
I swallow the fires
I dress the bride
I feel the embrace.
As CREUSA, MEDEA dons the garment. Sudden change in music and lights. PROF appears in his area, sitting in chair, reading from notecards. MEDEA, with only face visible, moves forward as she speaks, her body as CREUSA aging and withering.
MEDEA: The children came, their father with them, the wedding feast. The princess saw the children, saw Jason, she smiled. She took the robe, she donned the robe, she stood at the mirror, her gleaming face, her delicate eyes. Then her color changed. She staggered, she ran, she shook, the foam in her lips, her eyes went white, she bled at the eyes. She ran to the king, the gold was a river of fire, eroding the skin. She ran, she clawed the rivers, she swallowed the fire. Blood boiled out the pores like resin, the flesh dropped away from the bone. Her father cried, fell upon her, covered her, kissed her. Lips melted, welded to lips, she wrestled him down, he ripped his own flesh from his face. The flesh of father and daughter fused in flame. The smell rose up and maddened the wedding guests. They cried, they cursed, they spread the flame. And Jason reeled from the wine, drunken, stupefied, stammering, blind. And Jason reeled from the wine. Drunken, stupefied, stammering, blind.
PROF: She robes. She smiles. She stares. She gapes. She chills. She withers. She yellows. She sours. She curdles. She festers. She frets. She wails. She whines. She snivels. She blubbers. She drains. She ages. She dies.
Silence. MEDEA crouches. Garment falls away. PROF rises, lets cards fall, disappears.
MEDEA: Assassins. We are dead already. We can’t be touched.
I had my babies. They died.
She lines her face. In distance, PROF appears masked as JASON, staggering, drunk. As they speak, he supports himself against fragments of pipes, blackboards, unable to approach her.
You return. You’re tired of your bride.
New brides and grooms have many trials.
The woman is always crying.
JASON: Medea...
MEDEA: Yes. But I’m gone. I’m alone.
I’m far away. My chariot drawn by dragons.
JASON: Save the children...
MEDEA: They’ll be with you. Deeply within you.
Those who’ve lost them are never without them.
The only ones who keep their children always.
JASON: No...
MEDEA: The seed of your love. Your love is dead.
JASON: Demon...
MEDEA: Yes. I gave them birth.
What more demonic thing could I do than give them birth?
JASON: Children...
MEDEA: The pangs come in waves. No stopping the surf.
I bear a deed. I am pregnant with death.
You are the father, your seed.
It grows, it starves the mother, it drains the bones,
It grows, it presses, it comes.
I say No I can’t bear it, but still it comes.
I spawn the dragon.
JASON staggers, reels, falls. She embraces the children.
I’m alone.
I’m inside the ribs of the dragon.
He gapes and opens his wings.
I huddle inside.
JASON pulls himself up, tries to speak soberly.
JASON: Give me the children now. I can save the children.
You go free.
MEDEA: They have names.
Once they had names.
You should have spoken their names.
MEDEA stands, rips at her garment, lets it fall. She stands naked except for a loincloth. Her body is covered with tattooed design. JASON cries, falls. She is disoriented, backs away from the children.
A minute before I killed them, I said,
“Don’t hit your little sister”.
He said, “I can’t help it”.
She kneels, cradles them. Music change. As she speaks, she disassembles the children, unscrewing their limbs, letting the pieces fall.
My little assassins.
I tell you a story.
I talk, it’s the rustle of leaves, you’re jumping into the leaves.
And the hero, he sails to the sun,
The fleece of a golden ram.
And the yellowhair princess Medea, she falls in love,
And they steal the golden fleece, the sun, the sun’s yellow hair,
And they run, they scamper and run,
They love each other forever.
They sail the seas, their ship is a magic ship, the Argo,
It carries them deeper in love,
And they’re always young.
They have children,
They love their children,
Their children become great sovereigns, builders of cities,
They never die.
They sail in their ship, the Argo.
It carries them into the stars.
Silence. She holds a fragment of a child, disoriented.
Well you know we always wanted children.
But didn’t happen.
You never know.
PROF rises, unmasked, from the place where JASON fell. He holds a mike. MEDEA is motionless.
PROF: It’s a shame to kill children so openly. There are gentler ways.
They stare at blank paper, it sears the retina, killing the germs.
They dream white hallways. They’re wheeled in wheelchairs down to the bloodletting rooms, and the child looks for rooms, any rooms where they teach you numbers, any numbers, your numbers, numbers forever. The child’s pants are taken down, the chromosomes counted, numbered, tagged. Genes are spliced while you wait.
Silence. He moves to another place.
The child wakes up. The child stares at the page, the words slur into babble. He crawls drunk to the principals office. The hallways are white. Color and flavor are added, he looks and tastes alike. He follows the traffic signs, he stops at the light, it never turns. He joins the line of good little boys and girls who know how use the toilet. He graduates, he’s hired to use the toilet. Thirty thousand a year to use the toilet.
Silence. He moves to his usual place.
And one day he’s told by the dentist they have to do a root canal: he has cavities in his heart. They pack it with sugar, they drill it, they dry it out, but the hollows get bigger, they let in a draft, and he dies of a common cold. Clytemnestra, Agave, Medea, Medea, Jason, Creusa, Creon, all the names on the test: they died of common cold.
Silence. MEDEA looks at the fragment she holds. Realizes. Screams. Bright lights in audience’s eyes, blinding. Screaming fades.
Music. Taped voice begins narration, with voice of AEGEUS. Blinding lights fade. PROF has disappeared. WOMAN stands in distance, in white hospital gown, holding a baby. Walks forward during narration, sits, nursing. She wears a tranquil, nearly featureless mask.
TAPE: Medea fled from Corinth to Athens,
where she bore Aegeus a son.
The son, Medus, was thought to
be heir to the throne. But
Aegeus had unknowing begat
another son, Theseus, who re-
turned to Athens. Medea sought
to poison him, but was forced to
flee into exile, with her son. The
myth refers to the expulsion of the
earth-goddess cult from Athens.
AEGEUS: Oh my dream.
A baby.
A little baby.
After all the pain.
Just what she promised.
Oh my dream.
WOMAN sits, nursing.
WOMAN: You never can tell.
Forget what might happen.
Have the baby, it grows up, it gets hit by a truck.
All the scars.
What if its eyes go wrong.
Thirty hours, what if the little fingers broke in the womb.
What if it fails the test, or what if it passes.
What if it learns the lessons we try to teach it.
What if it joins the assassins.
What if it reads the cards, and the cards begin to come true, but then it forgets what it’s read, but it knows they’re going to come true.
Where does the crying come from,
Some wound that never heals.
If something happened, I don’t think I could stay alive.
I guess I could stay alive.
People do stay alive.
They have babies.
They keep having babies.
They stay alive.
In distance, PROF appears, looks at her. Blackout.