Enlightenment
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Book and lyrics for a musical about a woman with a mysteriously ill son who -- with the guidance of Dionysus -- comes to believe she\'s the reincarnation of Rene Descartes and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Book and lyrics for a musical about a woman with a mysteriously ill son who -- with the guidance of Dionysus -- comes to believe she\'s the reincarnation of Rene Descartes and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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Enlightenment Enlightenment Document Transcript

  • THE ENLIGHTENMENT Book and lyrics by Kyle Bostian 190 46th Street Pittsburgh, PA 15201 715.252.6847 kbostian@comcast.net Draft Date: May 2009 © Copyright 2008, All Rights Reserved
  • THE ENLIGHTENMENT CHARACTERS: DIONYSUS SOPHIE, mother of a seriously ill child A DOCTOR (played by DIONYSUS) RENÉ Descartes, philosopher and mathematician HÉLÈNE Jans, his maid and mistress PHIL, Sophie’s husband A REPAIRMAN (played by DIONYSUS) Ralph WALDO Emerson, essayist and poet (played by actor who plays RENÉ) LYDIA Jackson Emerson, his wife (played by actor who plays HÉLÈNE) Constantijn HUYGENS, friend of Descartes (played by DIONYSUS) Henry David THOREAU, student and friend of Emerson (played by DIONYSUS) GRACE, another doctor (played by actor who plays HÉLÈNE and LYDIA) A PROFESSOR (played by DIONYSUS) A PATIENT (played by DIONYSUS) GIL Gamesh, nanobiologist (played by actor who plays RENÉ and WALDO) CHORUS of Worshippers (also play Inquisitors, Ministers, Mourners, Elderly People, and Hospital Workers) SONGS: ACT I: ACT II: Invocation Philosophy of Life The Essence Spiritual Dialectic Understand This Tell the Children Doubt Passions Faith The Beat Goes On Nature Immortality Reincarnation Déjà Vu Eterna’s End Three Astonishing Dreams Understand This (reprise) Inquiring Minds Into the Flow Schooled in Divinity The Essence (reprise) Threnody Closing Prayer Reincarnation Déjà Vu (reprise) Wait for the Miracle ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: It’d be impossible to list all the sources that influenced this piece. I’m particularly indebted to a number of books and websites on Descartes and Emerson. I’ve lifted nearly all the words of Waldo’s song Nature, his Divinity School Address, and the song Threnody from Emerson’s essays and poem by those names. Nevertheless, this is a work of dramatic art, not a factual account of real lives, and I’ve taken liberties with the historical record.
  • I-1 ACT ONE Masked CHORUS MEMBERS ceremoniously enter and form a semicircle at the periphery of the stage as -- accompanied by flutes, drums, and strings -- they chant the Invocation. CHORUS OM OM OM OM NAMAH SHIVAYA GURAVE SAT CHIT ANANDA MURTAYE NISPRAPANCAYA SHANTAYA NIRALAMBAYA TEJASE OM In a dazzling effect, a robed and hooded FIGURE appears. The FIGURE throws back the hood to reveal long, flowing locks of hair and boyishly effeminate features. He sings The Essence. FIGURE I’M THE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT SUMMON ME AND I APPEAR EVEN IF YOU DON’T REVERE IT I’M ALWAYS ALREADY HERE I AM KRISHNA BUDDHA AND CONFUCIUS I AM MOSES JESUS AND MOHAMMED I’M THE ESSENCE OF ALL THINGS I AM GOD MADE MANIFEST AND I BRING YOU LIGHT AND I BRING YOU LIGHT I’M THE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT SUMMON ME AND I APPEAR EVEN IF YOU DON’T REVERE IT I’M ALWAYS ALREADY HERE I AM KRISHNA BUDDHA AND CONFUCIUS I AM MOSES JESUS AND MOHAMMED I’M THE ESSENCE OF ALL THINGS I AM GOD MADE MANIFEST AND I BRING YOU LOVE AND I BRING YOU LOVE The FIGURE steps forward and addresses the audience.
  • I-2 FIGURE Good evening! Recognize me? Perhaps you’ve seen my image on a vase painting. I hope it was a flattering depiction. Or maybe you’ve read a description of me by one of the great poets of my golden age: Euripides or Aristophanes. Don’t worry -- I’m nothing like the character in The Bacchae or The Frogs. Of all my many forms this one simply seemed most appropriate for the circumstances. My name, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, is Dionysus. But call me Dion. These worshippers of the living art performed in my honor have beckoned me forth to be your guide. So let’s get started. The FIGURE (DIONYSUS) gestures; dim lights rise on SOPHIE. She’s huddled over a hospital bed, in which lies an unconscious child hooked up to various monitors and IV units. I won’t say this is where our story begins, for our story has no beginning -- only periodic shifts within a continuous, eternal truth. You can think of those shifts as plot points. And as any contemporary follower of Thespis can tell you, the first important plot point is the inciting incident. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an incident to incite. As SOPHIE sings Understand This, the CHORUS MEMBERS ceremoniously disrobe DIONYSUS and dress him in a lab coat, then exit. SOPHIE GOD IF YOU CAN HEAR ME I MEAN IF YOU’RE EVEN REAL SEND A SIGN TO CLEAR ME OF THIS ANGUISH THAT I FEEL I CANNOT UNDERSTAND THIS HOW AN AILMENT SO SERIOUS IN OUR MODERN AGE OF REASON CAN ALSO BE MYSTERIOUS DIONYSUS, as a DOCTOR, enters SOPHIE’s area. AH DOCTOR I DO HOPE THE NEWS IS GOOD PLEASE GIVE ME CAUSE TO CELEBRATE PLEASE GIVE ME GROUNDS FOR CONFIDENCE MY SON’S AFFLICTION WILL ABATE DOCTOR/DIONYSUS OH SOPHIE I’M AFRAID THE NEWS IS BAD PLEASE DON’T BLAME THE MESSENGER PLEASE DON’T HATE ME WHEN I SAY YOUR SON’S AFFLICTION HAS NO CURE
  • I-3 SOPHIE I DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS DOCTOR/DIONYSUS YOU DO UNDERSTAND THIS SOPHIE I CAN’T UNDERSTAND THIS DOCTOR/DIONYSUS YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THIS SOPHIE HELP ME UNDERSTAND THIS DOCTOR/DIONYSUS TRY TO UNDERSTAND THIS THERE’S NO MEDICAL SOLUTION FOR HIS FRAGILE CONSTITUTION SOPHIE YES I UNDERSTAND THAT WHAT I ONLY PUZZLE AT IS WHY WHY HE HAS TO DIE DOCTOR/DIONYSUS Listen, Sophie, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. No one said your son is going to die. SOPHIE You said there’s no cure. DOCTOR/DIONYSUS No medical cure. SOPHIE What other kind is there? DOCTOR/DIONYSUS Well … how do you feel about …? SOPHIE What?
  • I-4 DOCTOR/DIONYSUS Do you believe …? SOPHIE In …? DOCTOR/DIONYSUS Do you believe in magic? SOPHIE NO I DON’T BELIEVE IN MAGIC BUT LET THE MIRACLES PREVAIL MY WHOLE LIFE HAS JUST TURNED TRAGIC AND I’D PREFER A FAIRY TALE NO I CANNOT UNDERSTAND THIS THIS DENIAL OF THE FACTUAL THE BEST ANSWER SCIENCE OFFERS IS TO TRUST THE SUPERNATURAL SOPHIE approaches the DOCTOR/DIONYSUS and reads the name embroidered on his lab coat. SOPHIE Thank you, Doctor Hipp--… Doctor Hypocrits. DOCTOR/DIONYSUS Hippocrates. It’s Greek. You can call me Cosmo. SOPHIE Well. This has been most enlightening. I’m sure the hospital administration will agree. SOPHIE storms out. Not noticing the “Out of Service” sign on an elevator, she steps through the open doors and falls into the shaft. DIONYSUS drops the DOCTOR role and peers down after her. DIONYSUS Incident incited! DIONYSUS waves his hand. Blackout. Lights rise on RENÉ at his writing desk. RENÉ Hélène! Come quickly!
  • I-5 Enter HÉLÈNE, a maid. HÉLÈNE Monsieur Descartes? RENÉ I exist! HÉLÈNE Monsieur? RENÉ I tell you I exist! I’m absolutely certain of it! HÉLÈNE Yes, Monsieur Descartes. I’ve never doubted that. (aside) Especially during the nights when you visit me in my chamber. RENÉ Exactly. You’ve never doubted. But I have! I’ve doubted all that cannot be verified by mathematical proof. In short, everything. That’s how I can conclude that I in fact exist. I’ve discovered the First Principle. (beat) You look as though you don’t understand. HÉLÈNE Well, Monsieur … to the unscientific mind … to those who lack your gifts of reason … RENÉ Let me try another method of discourse. RENÉ raps Doubt. RENÉ COGITO ERGO SUM THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT I THINK THEREFORE I AM THE PROOF IS IN THE DOUBT I BELIEVE ONLY THAT WHICH ONE CANNOT DENY THUS ALL OUR COMMON TRUTHS AT ONCE CEASE TO APPLY OUT OF THIS NEGATION ARISES ONE CLEAR FACT SOMEONE MUST BE CONSCIOUS TO DO THE DOUBTING ACT
  • I-6 The CHORUS MEMBERS wander through the audience. CHORUS COGITO ERGO SUM THAT’S WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT HE THINKS THEREFORE HE IS AN ATTITUDE WITH CLOUT COGITO ERGO SUM WORDS HEARD IN ALL THE SCHOOLS BUT ARE THEY SPOKEN BY THE SAGES OR THE FOOLS The CHORUS MEMBERS exit. RENÉ JUST ASSUME IF YOU WILL THAT I DO NOT EXIST THEN WHO IS IT WHO SEES RIGHT THROUGH THE SENSORY MIST A DOUBTER MUST BE HERE TO CAST THE NET OF DOUBT BY THINKING SO I PROVE THAT BEING TO BE MYSELF DUBITO ERGO COGITO ERGO SUM THAT’S THE CHAIN OF LOGIC THAT FALLS OUT I DOUBT THEREFORE I THINK THEREFORE I AM I CANNOT DOUBT THE FACT THAT I CAN DOUBT RENÉ stares at HÉLÈNE expectantly. RENÉ Well? Have you nothing to say in response? HÉLÈNE I’m pregnant. (beat) Well? Have you nothing to say in response? RENÉ I’m to be a father. HÉLÈNE Yes, René, you’re to be a father. Never mind thinking. How does that make you feel? RENÉ Oh, Hélène! It’s as though I’ve fallen into a beautiful and strange dream.
  • I-7 DIONYSUS enters and freezes RENÉ and HÉLÈNE. He gestures; crossfade to the hospital room, where SOPHIE lies in a bed near her son. Her head is bandaged. She awakens to see her husband PHIL standing beside her. SOPHIE I had the strangest dream. I was a philosopher. The “I think, therefore I am” guy. PHIL You were René Descartes? That’s strange all right. Amazing what a concussion can do. SOPHIE Concussion? What happened? PHIL Believe it or not, you fell down an elevator shaft. Not far, though. The car was stopped between this floor and the one below us. That’s why the doors were open. Repairman access. (beat) You were lucky. Your only injury seems to be a little bump on the head. SOPHIE How is he? PHIL No change. And still no good explanation. SOPHIE That’s why I fell! I was on my way to report this infuriating doc-- Enter DIONYSUS in coveralls and ball cap, as a REPAIRMAN. REPAIRMAN/DIONYSUS Don’t mean to interrupt. Just wanted to pop in and say how sorry I am. About your accident. Didn’t you see the sign? You oughta pay more attention to signs. SOPHIE I’ll make an effort to do that. REPAIRMAN/DIONYSUS Sure gave me a fright. Crashing onto the roof like a ripe apple dropping from a branch. For a second there, I felt like that guy who invented gravity. Glad I didn’t get bonked on the head! PHIL Isaac Newton didn’t actually invent gravity. You can’t invent a physical law. He simply recognized it for what it is. It was always already there. And, despite what legend says, he didn’t really get hit on the head by an apple.
  • I-8 REPAIRMAN/DIONYSUS Uh-huh. Anywho … glad to see you’re doing okay. SOPHIE I’m fine. You don’t have to worry about a lawsuit. REPAIRMAN/DIONYSUS Only thing I was worried about was you. Be sure to watch for them signs now. The REPAIRMAN/DIONYSUS exits. PHIL Talk about strange. What are the odds we’d discuss both Descartes and Newton within a couple minutes? Their combined influence inspired the entire Enlightenment. SOPHIE I know. And they totally misunderstood me! PHIL What? Who did? SOPHIE The so-called Enlightenment thinkers. They ignored the fundamental point of my work. I mean his work. Descartes. PHIL How much do you even know about Descartes and his work? SOPHIE Hardly anything. Just that quote everyone knows. And that he fathered a child with his Dutch maid. Or at least I did -- I mean, he did -- in my dream. PHIL Maybe we should ask the doctor to take another look at you. SOPHIE Oh, Phil. The dream was so vivid. That’s all. I’m fully aware I’m not René Descartes. PHIL So you didn’t father a child with your Dutch maid? Hey, speaking of dreams involving maids … I’ve got a little fantasy I’ve been meaning to share with you. How would you feel about dressing up like a French maid? SOPHIE For you, I’d consider it. As long as you promise not to go “oui oui” on me.
  • I-9 PHIL Don’t worry. I’ve long since outgrown my bed-wetting phase. SOPHIE rises suddenly and crosses to their child’s bed. SOPHIE What if he doesn’t? What if he-- …? What are we going to do if-- …? PHIL Sophie. Come on. You shouldn’t be moving around. SOPHIE He’s not even six years old! PHIL leads SOPHIE toward her bed as he sings Faith. PHIL I’VE NEVER BEEN A BELIEVER IN AN OMNIPOTENT BENEVOLENT GOD THERE’S TOO MUCH PAIN AND SUFFERING NOT TO SEE THAT NOTION AS ODD BUT WHEN I FACE A CRISIS THAT SUGGESTS THE WORLD’S UNFAIR I RESIST ATHEISTIC URGES TO PLUNGE HEADLONG INTO DESPAIR FAITH’S NOT ONLY FOR THE FAITHFUL FAITH’S NOT ONLY FOR THE DEVOUT FAITH IS A GIFT TO EVERYONE OF THAT I HAVE NO DOUBT SOPHIE WHAT CAN YOU SAY YOU HAVE FAITH IN IF NO OMNIPOTENT BENEVOLENT GOD THE ONLY CLEAR ALTERNATIVE IS ONE WHO SPARETH NOT THE ROD THERE’S NOTHING I’D LIKE BETTER THAN TO COMFORT IN HIS KINDNESS BUT TRUSTING THAT AS CERTAINTY I SEE AS CONVENIENT BLINDNESS FAITH IS ONLY FOR THE FAITHFUL FAITH IS ONLY FOR THE DEVOUT FAITH’S NOT A WHIM FOR SKEPTICALS WHEN THEY NEED BAILING OUT
  • I-10 PHIL THEN DON’T BELIEVE IN ANY GOD WHAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU BELIEVE BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE BELIEVE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE FAITH’S NOT ONLY FOR THE FAITHFUL FAITH’S NOT ONLY FOR THE DEVOUT FAITH IS A SEED WE ALL CONTAIN WE JUST HAVE TO LET IT SPROUT BELIEVE IN ME I BELIEVE IN YOU BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU HOPE COMES TRUE BELIEVE IN ME I BELIEVE IN YOU BELIEVE IT AND YOU’LL MAKE IT THROUGH FAITH’S NOT ONLY FOR THE FAITHFUL FAITH’S NOT ONLY FOR THE DEVOUT FAITH IS A TRAIT WE ALL POSSESS AND ONE WE COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT By the end of the song, PHIL has guided SOPHIE back into bed. SOPHIE Thank you, Phil. I’d invite you in … but these hospital beds aren’t exactly built for two. PHIL The nurse said she’d bring me a cot. SOPHIE Oh. You’re going to stay. PHIL Of course I’m going to stay. SOPHIE There’s really no need for us both to be here. If by some miracle he wakes up, I’ll call you. PHIL Is that really what you want? SOPHIE I think … yes. PHIL contemplates for a moment, then kisses SOPHIE. He goes to the other bed and gives their son a gentle caress before he exits. SOPHIE gazes at the comatose child as the lights fade.
  • I-11 Lights rise on WALDO at his writing desk. He’s played by the actor who plays RENÉ. WALDO Lydian! Come quickly! Enter LYDIA. She’s played by the actor who plays HÉLÉNE. LYDIA Mister Emerson? WALDO What is The World? LYDIA Pardon? WALDO What is Man? LYDIA Why, Mister Emerson, you know better than to play your quixotic games with me. WALDO I’ve had a revelation. I’ve gleaned the First Philosophy. (beat) Let me try to explain. WALDO speak-sings Nature. WALDO A SUBTLE CHAIN OF COUNTLESS RINGS THE NEXT UNTO THE FARTHEST BRINGS THE EYE READS OMENS WHERE IT GOES AND SPEAKS ALL LANGUAGES THE ROSE AND STRIVING TO BE MAN THE WORM MOUNTS THROUGH ALL THE SPIRES OF FORM NATURE NEVER WEARS A MEAN APPEARANCE NATURE ALWAYS WEARS THE COLOR OF THE SPIRIT ESSENCES UNCHANGED BY MAN SPACE THE AIR THE RIVER THE LEAF THE WORLD EXISTS TO SATISFY THE SOUL THROUGH BEAUTY ETERNAL AND UNCONTAINED THE PERPETUAL PRESENCE OF THE SUBLIME IN THE EARTHBOUND RAYS OF STARS DOES SHINE THE UNIVERSE IS COMPOSED OF NATURE AND THE SOUL THE POET IN HIS MIND INTEGRATES THE WHOLE
  • I-12 WALDO (CONT’D) IN NATURE I BECOME A TRANSPARENT EYE-BALL I AM NOTHING I SEE ALL CURRENTS OF UNIVERSAL BEING CIRCULATE THROUGH ME I AM PART OR PARTICLE OF GOD WALDO stares at LYDIA expectantly. WALDO Well? Have you nothing to say in response? LYDIA I’m pregnant. (beat) Well? Have you nothing to say in response? WALDO My dearest Lydian! I’m to be a father. LYDIA Yes, Mister Emerson, you’re to be a father. What revelation do you glean from that? WALDO I can’t begin to express the joy you’ve given me. More so even than on our wedding day, Missus Emerson. DIONYSUS enters and freezes WALDO and LYDIA. He gestures; crossfade to the hospital room. SOPHIE dials her phone. SOPHIE What I said earlier was wrong. Now I’ve had the strangest dream. (beat) At least I think it was a dream. DIONYSUS gestures; lights fade to a spotlight on him. As he sings the first verse of Reincarnation Déjà Vu, the masked CHORUS MEMBERS enter the space from all sides. DIONYSUS DID YOU EVER HAVE A FUNNY FEELING DID YOU EVER HAVE A STRANGE SENSATION DID YOU EVER HAVE A DREAM REVEALING YOU’VE LIVED THROUGH THIS PAST LIFE BEFORE CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU
  • I-13 DIONYSUS HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU DREAMED HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU SCREAMED HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU STEAMED THROUGH THIS CYCLE OF LOVE AND WAR CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJA VU AND IN ESSENCE IT IS TRUE IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJA VU AND IN ESSENCE IT IS TRUE DIONYSUS YOU MAY WISH TO ESCAPE IT YOU MAY WISH TO RESHAPE IT YOU MAY WISH TO UNDRAPE IT TO DO THAT YOU MUST CHANGE YOUR CORE CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND THERE’S ONE THING YOU CAN DO IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND THERE’S ONE THING YOU CAN DO DIONYSUS DON’T ASK FOR DIVINE INTERVENTION DON’T ASK FOR HEAVENLY AMNESTY DON’T ASK FOR COSMIC CIRCUMVENTION SOUL SEARCHING’S A HUMAN CHORE DIONYSUS AND CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJA VU IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJA VU IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU DIONYSUS It’s death and rebirth all over again! Blackout. Lights rise on SOPHIE, who appears to be praying at her child’s bedside. PHIL enters behind her. He sets down the heavy bag he’s carrying and watches silently until she stops mouthing words and opens her eyes.
  • I-14 PHIL Any response? SOPHIE jumps and cries out in surprise. PHIL Sorry about that. SOPHIE No, it’s--... I was just … PHIL I saw. SOPHIE I figure it can’t hurt. You know, in case He really does exist. PHIL Sure. Any response? SOPHIE Is that a trick question? PHIL How do you mean? SOPHIE First I have an entire conversation with an apparently imaginary doctor. Then I dream I’m René Descartes and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Next I claim God speaks to me? That’d sure give you plenty of reason to have me carted off to the loony bin. No, rest assured I don’t believe God has ever spoken to me. Nor do I harbor any illusions He ever will. PHIL Okay. But I meant to the new meds. Has he shown any response? SOPHIE Oh. No. No response. Not yet anyway. PHIL Do they have any more ideas? SOPHIE Maybe. They’re doing some kind of additional test right now. Results should be back soon. I actually think they’re running out of tests. Good thing, too, because I don’t know how much blood he has left.
  • I-15 PHIL You’re not crazy. I don’t think you’re crazy. I’m sure you’re not crazy. SOPHIE No? I wish I shared your faith in that. PHIL You had a couple of intense and bizarrely similar dreams. So what? It means nothing. Especially after hitting your head like that. The content of them may mean something, though. Where’s a Freudian psychoanalyst when you need one? SOPHIE What about my fantasy encounter with Doc Hippocrates? That was before I hit my head. PHIL You’re totally stressed out! And with good reason. Your child -- our child -- is very very sick and nobody knows why. Or what to do about it. So your deepest fears found a way to express themselves in a … hallucination of sorts. SOPHIE Involving a physician from ancient Greece? PHIL The first one in history to actually view his profession as a science. Who could be a more credible medical authority? In dream logic. SOPHIE But I didn’t know that! I couldn’t even pronounce his name. (aside) And my Hippocrates believed in magic. PHIL On some level you did know it. You must’ve. (beat) And there’s a similar explanation for why you dreamt what you did. You’re afraid you might lose your son, so you dream about other people having children. SOPHIE But why Descartes? Why Emerson? Why famous people? Ones I know next to nothing about. “I think, therefore I am.” And living in a cabin by some pond. PHIL That was Thoreau, not Emerson. SOPHIE See!
  • I-16 PHIL removes hardcover books from the bag and places them on the empty hospital bed. PHIL Well, I brought you every book I could find on either of them in the library. So you can read up while you … wait for good news. Oh! I already checked one thing. That little detail in your dream was true. Descartes really did father a child with his Dutch maid. SOPHIE What?! SOPHIE rushes over. PHIL Yeah, it’s right here in black and-- SOPHIE arrives right as PHIL turns with a huge book, striking her on the head by accident. She falls onto the bed unconscious. PHIL Oh shit. Blackout. Lights rise on RENÉ in his study. DIONYSUS, in the person of Constantijn HUYGENS, stands nearby, holding a manuscript. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Brilliant. “I think, therefore I am.” So simple, yet so profound. You’ve used the logic of mathematics to solve a problem that’s confounded poets and philosophers for centuries. RENÉ I hope the rest of the world -- and not just the poets like yourself, Constantijn -- is as kind in its evaluation of my Discourse. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS What? You can’t mean you intend to publish this. RENÉ What other purpose is there in preparing a manuscript? HUYGENS/DIONYSUS René. You have responsibilities beyond yourself now. RENÉ I assume you refer to my niece.
  • I-17 HUYGENS/DIONYSUS I refer to Francine. We both know she’s more than your niece. RENÉ Your point, Constantijn? HUYGENS/DIONYSUS My point, dear friend, is that this is written in French. RENÉ Yes. That’s my native language. You do realize I was born in France? HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Which is another way of saying that it is not written in Latin. RENÉ No. Bravo! It is written in French, therefore it is not written in Latin. A fine illustration of sound reasoning, especially for a poet. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS You’re absolutely infuriating! RENÉ Do you really imagine I’m not aware of the dangers? Why do you suppose I withdrew Le Monde from the printer once the trial commenced? HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Then why publish in the vernacular? To follow the example of … a heretic. Why risk it? RENÉ Are you afraid even to say his name? Allow me. It’s Galileo. But I’ve taken great care to avoid addressing the Copernican controversy. And I’ve written in French simply so it will be accessible to the widest possible audience. I display no disrespect to the Church. The CHORUS MEMBERS enter as ROMAN INQUISITORS, surrounding RENÉ and HUYGENS/DIONYSUS. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Let’s hope the Church agrees. RENÉ If it makes you feel better, the authorship can be left anonymous. For now. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS I think that would be wise.
  • I-18 RENÉ But I will publish it. And I have nothing to fear. After all, God himself guided my work. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS What are you saying? The CHORUS MEMBERS hum and chant in Latin. RENÉ sings Three Astonishing Dreams -- acting out the dreams through dance. RENÉ ON THE TENTH OF NOVEMBER SIXTEEN-NINETEEN THE FEAST OF SAINT MARTIN’S EVE AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-THREE WITH MIND MATURE AND SOUL SO VERY NAÏVE IN THE OVEN OF MY ROOM I WENT TO SLEEP AND UNDERWENT THREE VIVID DREAMS THREE ASTONISHING DREAMS ON SAINT MARTIN’S EVE ASTONISHING MARVELOUS DREAMS IN THE FIRST I WAS WALKING ALONE THROUGH TOWN WHEN A STORM BEGAN TO BLOW A VIOLENT WIND FORCED ME TOWARD THE CHURCH RIGHT WHERE I WANTED TO GO I AWOKE AND PRAYED TO GOD FOR PROTECTION AND THOUGHT ON GOOD AND EVIL THEN I TURNED IN MY BED FROM LEFT SIDE TO RIGHT AND DREAMT A NEW UPHEAVAL THE CHAMBER ALL AROUND ME FADED AWAY AND I HEARD A THUND’ROUS BANG BUT THEN THE CHAMBER FILLED WITH SPARKLES OF LIGHT I WAS SAFE IN GOD’S DOMAIN IN MY THIRD DREAM I OPENED A BOOK OF VERSE TO LINES BY A ROMAN BARD WHAT ROAD SHALL I FOLLOW IN THIS LIFE HE ASKS MY CONSTANT POINT OF REGARD A MYSTERIOUS FIGURE APPEARED JUST THEN AND SHOWED ME ANOTHER POEM ITS TITLE I TOOK TO MEAN TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD AND WITH THAT I’D FOUND MY HOME IN THE OVEN OF MY ROOM I WENT TO SLEEP AND UNDERWENT THREE VIVID DREAMS THREE ASTONISHING DREAMS ON SAINT MARTIN’S EVE ASTONISHING MARVELOUS DREAMS
  • I-19 RENÉ dances along the CHORUS of INQUISITORS, trying in vain to gain their approval. RENÉ EIGHTEEN YEARS LATER I STILL FEEL GOD’S CALLING IN THREE DREAMS ASTONISHING UNITY OF SCIENCE THROUGH PHILOSOPHY IS WHAT HE WANTS ME TO BRING IN THE OVEN OF MY ROOM I WENT TO SLEEP AND UNDERWENT THREE VIVID DREAMS THREE ASTONISHING DREAMS ON SAINT MARTIN’S EVE ASTONISHING MARVELOUS DREAMS HUYGENS/DIONYSUS flips through the manuscript for a moment. Then he sings Inquiring Minds as the CHORUS of INQUISITORS closes in on RENÉ. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS ARE YOU NUTS ARE YOU CRAZY HAS YOUR INTELLECT GONE HAZY HAVE YOU IMBIBED TOO MUCH BORDEAUX INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW CHORUS INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW IF YOU MEAN THIS BLASPHEMY INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW IF YOU’D LIKE TO MAKE A PLEA HUYGENS/DIONYSUS YOU SAY GOD INSPIRED YOU YOU PROFESS TO DO HIS WORK BUT IF YOU PRINT YOUR FULL TREATISE THE PRIESTS WILL GO BERSERK THOUGH YOU SKIRT COPERNICUS AND GALILEO’S SCIENCE BY MERGING ALL THE DISCIPLINES YOU STILL DEFY CHURCH GIANTS CHORUS INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW HOW LONG YOU HOPE TO THRIVE INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW IF YOU’LL RECANT THIS JIVE
  • I-20 HUYGENS/DIONYSUS YOU IMPLY THERE’S NO CENTER NOR BOUNDS TO THE UNIVERSE IN MAKING IT SEEM LIMITLESS YOU COULDN’T BLUNDER WORSE GOD ALONE IS INFINITE ACCORDING TO THE POPE IF YOU PERSIST IN FLOUTING HIM YOU’LL FEEL THE STING OF ROPE CHORUS INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW IF YOU WISH TO PURGE YOUR SIN INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW THE THICKNESS OF YOUR SKIN HUYGENS/DIONYSUS CONTRADICT PREVAILING THOUGHT AS YOU DO IN THIS VOLUME CALL ATTENTION TO YOURSELF THIS WAY AND YOU’LL WISH YOU HAD KEPT MUM BUT YOUR GRAVEST ERROR OF ALL IS THIS NOTION OF THE SOUL TO SEPARATE IT FROM THE BODY WOULD VIOLATE THE WHOLE CHORUS INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW WHAT TO MAKE OF THIS DIVIDE INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW WHO ELSE IS ON YOUR SIDE During the above, the CHORUS MEMBERS transform RENÉ into WALDO. Then they adjust their own costumes, transforming from ROMAN INQUISITORS into YOUNG MINISTERS. Lights change. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS withdraws. WALDO uses his writing desk as a podium to address the CHORUS MEMBERS. WALDO The sentiment of virtue is a reverence and delight in the presence of certain divine laws. It perceives that this homely game of life we play, covers, under what seem foolish details, principles that astonish. These laws refuse to be adequately stated. They will not be written out on paper, or spoken by the tongue. They elude our persevering thought; yet we read them hourly in each other’s faces, in each other’s actions, in our own remorse.
  • I-21 The CHORUS MEMBERS exchange anxious glances. WALDO It is an intuition. It cannot be received at second hand. Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul. What he announces, I must find true in me, or wholly reject; and on his word, or as his second, be he who he may, I can accept nothing. On the contrary, the absence of this primary faith is the presence of degradation. ONE CHORUS MEMBER exits in a huff. The OTHERS murmur amongst themselves. WALDO Divine nature is attributed to one or two persons, and denied to all the rest, and denied with fury. The doctrine of inspiration is lost. Miracles, prophecy, poetry; the ideal life, the holy life; they are not in the belief, nor in the aspiration of society; when suggested, seem ridiculous. Life is comic or pitiful, as soon as the high ends of being fade out of sight, and man becomes near-sighted, and can only attend to what addresses the senses. TWO CHORUS MEMBERS exit. The OTHERS murmur amongst themselves with growing fervor. WALDO Christianity has fallen into the error that corrupts all attempts to communicate religion. As it appears to us, and as it has appeared for ages, it is an exaggeration of the personal, the ritual. It has dwelt, it dwells, with noxious exaggeration about the person of Jesus. The soul knows no persons. It invites every man to expand to the full circle of the universe, and will have no preferences but those of spontaneous love. The REMAINING CHORUS MEMBERS exit. Lights change. DIONYSUS steps forward, having transformed himself from Constantijn HUYGENS into Henry David THOREAU. THOREAU/DIONYSUS You really said that? You said that to the graduates of the Harvard Divinity School? WALDO Yes indeed, my young friend. And that’s not the half of it. THOREAU/DIONYSUS The address is being described as the ravings of a heretic. What else did you say? WALDO I spoke the truth. No more, no less. THOREAU/DIONYSUS Please, Mister Emerson. Let me hear it from you yourself.
  • I-22 WALDO I’ve told you. If we’re to be friends, you must call me Waldo. And I’ll call you David. THOREAU/DIONYSUS I’ve been thinking of reversing it. Henry David instead of David Henry. WALDO I’ll always consider you a David. But a man must choose his own identity, and if Henry Thoreau is your preference, then I’ll respect your wishes. THOREAU/DIONYSUS Call me what you will, as long as you repeat the speech. WALDO reminisces as the music starts for Schooled in Divinity. WALDO Oh, I simply encouraged them to observe the limitations of their new office. THE SOUL ALONE CAN TEACH A MAN CAN MERELY SPEAK IF SERMONS YOU’RE GUSHING YOU’RE BETTER OFF HUSHING SAVE PEOPLE WHO GATHER FROM BIBLICAL BLATHER IF TRUTH WOULD BE SPOKEN YOUR HEART MUST STAY OPEN IMPART FROM YOUR SPIRIT AND OTHERS WILL HEAR IT MAKE LOVE FAITH AND COURAGE YOUR TRINITY AND THEN YOU’LL BE SCHOOLED IN DIVINITY THOREAU/DIONYSUS Praise Waldo! WALDO I then illustrated my point by negative example. A PREACHER ONCE MADE PLAIN HE’D LIVED HIS YEARS IN VAIN HE’D PLOUGHED AND HE’D PLANTED ALL TAKEN FOR GRANTED HE’D READ AND HE’D EATEN HIS WORDS NEVER SWEETENED HIS DOCTRINE WAS VACANT OF ANYTHING SACRED BELYING THE NOTION HE’D FELT AN EMOTION IN CREED AND YOUR LIFE SEE AFFINITY AND THEN YOU’LL BE SCHOOLED IN DIVINITY THOREAU/DIONYSUS If you’d been on the vaudeville stage, surely you’d have gotten the hook.
  • I-23 WALDO Vaudeville? The hook? I’m not familiar with the terms. THOREAU/DIONYSUS (aside, as DIONYSUS, to the audience) Oops. I got a little ahead of myself there. WALDO No matter. Next I offered them a challenge. THE QUESTION YOU MUST ASK IS HOW TO MEET YOUR TASK NEGATE MODERN EVIL BY SOUL’S FULL RETRIEVAL REKINDLE THE HOLY WITH SOUL BURNING SLOWLY BRING LIFE TO TRADITION THROUGH SOUL IN FRUITION TO SOAR INTO RAPTURE IT’S SOUL YOU MUST CAPTURE PURSUE DEPTHS OF SOUL TO INFINITY WALDO AND THOREAU/DIONYSUS AND THEN YOU’LL BE SCHOOLED IN DIVINITY DIVINITY SCHOOL IS NOW OPEN TO RESURRECT SOUL WE ARE HOPIN’ OUR TEACHER REFLECTS LIKE A MIRROR TO SPIRIT THE WORLD BRINGS US NEARER BOTH GRAVITY AND LOVE ARE FORCES THAT PULL AT US LIKE WILD HORSES THE TRUTH IS THAT OUR MORAL DUTY IS ONE WITH JOY SCIENCE AND BEAUTY MAKE LOVE FAITH AND COURAGE YOUR TRINITY AND THEN YOU’LL BE SCHOOLED IN DIVINITY IN CREED AND YOUR LIFE SEE AFFINITY AND THEN YOU’LL BE SCHOOLED IN DIVINITY PURSUE DEPTHS OF SOUL TO INFINITY AND THEN YOU’LL BE SCHOOLED IN DIVINITY DIVINITY SCHOOL IS NOW OPEN TO RESURRECT SOUL WE ARE HOPIN’ DON’T STUMBLE THROUGH LIFE BLINDLY GROPIN’ DIVINITY SCHOOL IS NOW OPEN Crossfade to the hospital room. SOPHIE sits up like a shot. SOPHIE I think … I know what the dreams mean. I think … God is speaking to me.
  • I-24 PHIL God. SOPHIE And I think … I’m supposed to spread the word. No matter what other people say. PHIL Okay. Exactly what word are you supposed to spread? SOPHIE I haven’t quite figured that out. Enter GRACE. She’s played by the actor who plays HÉLÈNE and LYDIA. GRACE May I have a word? PHIL Please. She hit her head again. Someone oughta take a look at her. SOPHIE I’m fine. GRACE I’ve seen the latest lab results. SOPHIE Are they conclusive? GRACE In fact they are. SOPHIE Thank god! GRACE He has a bacterial infection. Group A streptococcus. PHIL As in strep throat? GRACE That’s probably where it got started.
  • I-25 PHIL See, Sophie! This is great news! SOPHIE Wait. Why couldn’t you diagnose it sooner? And what’s causing the … more serious symptoms? PHIL Right. And he’s already had antibiotics. GRACE Yes. We’ve tried the full spectrum. It’s a resistant strain. And a virulent one. He’s got both septic and immune complications. I’ve never seen a case this severe. It normally takes about three weeks for toxic shock to result from untreated group A streptococcus. SOPHIE Are you saying it’s our fault? He’s been sick for weeks and we didn’t notice? GRACE No no. Not at all. Developments like this are very rare, but when they do occur, it’s not unusual for the underlying infection to have been totally asymptomatic. That’s the most obvious reason for it to progress this far. PHIL How’s it treated? Now that you know what he has, how do you plan to treat it? GRACE We’ll continue to administer the liquid nutrients, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories. It’s possible he’ll begin to respond. We should know within a day or so. SOPHIE And if he doesn’t? GRACE Well … he may then need surgical drainage or transfusions. PHIL Could this be fatal? GRACE There’s a risk the infection could spread further and eventually cause organ failure. We’ll do our very best to prevent that. PHIL How can this be happening? It’s the twenty-first century!
  • I-26 GRACE I’m afraid medicine remains as much art as science. Some of our advances may even be hurting us in terms of drug-resistance and heightened virulence. But I’d still rather be living now. Conditions like malignant scarlatina were far more common in the past. SOPHIE Scarlatina? Is that the same thing as scarlet fever? PHIL What … like in Little Women? GRACE That’s a well-known literary example. When it comes to infectious diseases, I’m actually something of a history buff. Scarlet fever and the related illness we call rheumatic fever were responsible for the deaths of many young people in that era. Louisa May Alcott based Little Women on her own family. Besides her sister, she lost at least one notable friend to scarlatina. Did you know the Alcotts and Emersons were neighbors? SOPHIE Emerson? Ralph Waldo Emerson? GRACE But it wasn’t the famous writer who died. It was young Waldo. His five-year-old son. SOPHIE faints into PHIL’s arms. DIONYSUS enters and freezes them, then solemnly helps GRACE transform into LYDIA. He gestures; crossfade to WALDO, standing at a grave. LYDIA joins him. The CHORUS MEMBERS, costumed as MOURNERS, enter and surround them as WALDO sings the first verse of Threnody. WALDO THE SOUTH-WIND BRINGS LIFE SUNSHINE AND DESIRE AND ON EVERY MOUNT AND MEADOW BREATHES AROMATIC FIRE BUT OVER THE DEAD HE HAS NO POWER THE LOST THE LOST HE CANNOT RESTORE AND LOOKING OVER THE HILLS I MOURN THE DARLING WHO SHALL NOT RETURN THE GRACIOUS BOY WHO DID ADORN THE WORLD WHEREINTO HE WAS BORN AND BY HIS COUNTENANCE REPAY THE FAVOR OF THE LOVING DAY HAS DISAPPEARED FROM THE DAY’S EYE
  • I-27 LYDIA FAR AND WIDE SHE CANNOT FIND HIM MY HOPES PURSUE THEY CANNOT BIND HIM RETURNED THIS DAY THE SOUTH-WIND SEARCHES AND FINDS YOUNG PINES AND BUDDING BIRCHES BUT FINDS NOT THE BUDDING MAN NATURE WHO LOST CANNOT REMAKE HIM FATE LET HIM FALL FATE CAN’T RETAKE HIM NATURE FATE MEN HIM SEEK IN VAIN NOW LOVE AND PRIDE ALAS IN VAIN UP AND DOWN THEIR GLANCES STRAIN THE BROOK INTO THE STREAM RUNS ON BUT THE DEEP-EYED BOY IS GONE WAS THERE NO STAR THAT COULD BE SENT NO WATCHER IN THE FIRMAMENT NO ANGEL FROM THE COUNTLESS HOST THAT LOITERS ROUND THE CRYSTAL COAST COULD STOOP TO HEAL THAT ONLY CHILD NATURE’S SWEET MARVEL UNDEFILED AND KEEP THE BLOSSOM OF THE EARTH WHICH ALL HER HARVESTS WERE NOT WORTH WALDO PERCHANCE NOT HE BUT NATURE AILED THE WORLD AND NOT THE INFANT FAILED IT WAS NOT RIPE YET TO SUSTAIN A GENIUS OF SO FINE A STRAIN WHO GAZED UPON THE SUN AND MOON AS IF HE CAME UNTO HIS OWN AND PREGNANT WITH HIS GRANDER THOUGHT BROUGHT THE OLD ORDER INTO DOUBT HIS BEAUTY ONCE THEIR BEAUTY TRIED THEY COULD NOT FEED HIM AND HE DIED AND WANDERED BACKWARD AS IN SCORN TO WAIT AN EON TO BE BORN CHORUS SOME WENT AND CAME ABOUT THE DEAD AND SOME IN BOOKS OF SOLACE READ SOME TO THEIR FRIENDS THE TIDINGS SAY SOME WENT TO WRITE SOME WENT TO PRAY ONE TARRIED HERE THERE HURRIED ONE BUT THEIR HEARTS ABODE WITH NONE COVETOUS DEATH BEREAVED US ALL TO AGGRANDIZE ONE FUNERAL
  • I-28 CHORUS (CONT’D) O TRUTH’S AND NATURE’S COSTLY LID O TRUSTED BROKEN PROPHECY O RICHEST FORTUNES SOURLY CROSSED BORN FOR THE FUTURE TO THE FUTURE LOST WALDO WHEN FRAIL NATURE CAN NO MORE THEN THE SPIRIT STRIKES THE HOUR MY SERVANT DEATH WITH SOLVING RITE POURS FINITE INTO INFINITE LIGHT IS LIGHT WHICH RADIATES BLOOD IS BLOOD WHICH CIRCULATES LIFE IS LIFE WHICH GENERATES AND MANY-SEEMING LIFE IS ONE WILT THOU TRANSFIX AND MAKE IT NONE LYDIA SILENT RUSHES THE SWIFT LORD THROUGH RUINED SYSTEMS STILL RESTORED BROADSOWING BLEAK AND VOID TO BLESS PLANTS WITH WORLDS THE WILDERNESS WATERS WITH TEARS OF ANCIENT SORROW APPLES OF EDEN RIPE TO-MORROW HOUSE AND TENANT GO TO GROUND LOST IN GOD IN GODHEAD FOUND During the above, THOREAU/DIONYSUS has entered and joined the MOURNERS. As the song ends, the CHORUS MEMBERS, at WALDO’s instruction, lead LYDIA offstage. WALDO It is the secret of the world that all things subsist, and do not die, but only retire a little from sight, and afterwards return again. Do you believe that, Henry? THOREAU/DIONYSUS places a comforting hand on WALDO. WALDO Me neither. Not today. But perhaps I will again -- in the weeks, months, or years ahead. Should I be so fortunate not to die of accumulated grief before then. First my father. Then my brothers. Now my son. Can my own demise be far behind? THOREAU/DIONYSUS Missus Emerson is holding up well.
  • I-29 WALDO My Lydian has more strength of spirit than most men. THOREAU/DIONYSUS She’s a remarkable woman. WALDO Yes, I’ve noticed your fondness for her. (beat) I’m glad you’ve come to live with us. Lydian and the remaining children will depend on you more than ever now. As will I. THOREAU/DIONYSUS I’ll endeavor to provide whatever support is needed. I think of your family as my own. WALDO You are a much loved member of it. THOREAU/DIONYSUS Perhaps I should see to the little ones. WALDO It is the secret of the world that all things subsist, and do not die, but only retire a little from sight, and afterwards return again. I’m going to keep repeating that until it once more seems true. DIONYSUS drops the THOREAU role and freezes WALDO, then transforms him into RENÉ and unfreezes him. RENÉ kneels beside the grave. RENÉ Holiest Father in Heaven … (beat) How am I to pray to you now? You’ve taken what I held most dear in all the world. A soul so incomparable you couldn’t wait to claim it. And now we here who benefitted most from the purity of her presence must go without. (beat) My little France. Named for my mother country. Yet never to set foot on its soil. Instead, laid to rest in the soil of your own native land. Crossfade to the hospital room, as before. SOPHIE stirs in PHIL’s arms. As she sings a reprise of Reincarnation Déjà Vu, the MASKED CHORUS MEMBERS appear on the periphery. SOPHIE I HAVE THIS FUNNY FEELING I HAVE THIS STRANGE SENSATION CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU
  • I-30 SOPHIE HOW MANY TIMES WILL I DREAM HOW MANY TIMES WILL I SCREAM CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND IN ESSENCE IT IS TRUE SOPHIE HOW CAN I ESCAPE IT HOW CAN I RESHAPE IT CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND THERE’S ONE THING YOU CAN DO SOPHIE I NEED DIVINE INTERVENTION I NEED HEAVENLY AMNESTY CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJA VU IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJA VU PHIL and GRACE lead SOPHIE toward her bed. SOPHIE What happened to her, Phil? Descartes’ daughter. PHIL I don’t know. I didn’t get that far. SOPHIE Which one of these is it in? PHIL finds the book and gives it to SOPHIE, who frantically flips through the pages. SOPHIE I think … he was right. Hippocrates was right. There’s no cure. No medical cure. GRACE It’s true we don’t technically have a “cure” for bacteria. But once we get the infection under control, we can at least minimize -- if not totally counteract -- the effects. And we’re generally successful at preventing recurrence. Give us a little time and trust.
  • I-31 SOPHIE Here! On September seventh, sixteen-forty, after three days of illness, five-year-old Francine died of scarlet fever. PHIL Sophie. SOPHIE No. No no no. PHIL It’s pure coincidence. SOPHIE NOOOOOOOOOO!!! PHIL Doc! I think she’s gonna need something. GRACE exits. SOPHIE breaks away from PHIL to sing Wait for the Miracle. SOPHIE GIVE US A LITTLE TIME AND TRUST LET MEDICAL SCIENCE PROVE ITS PLACE IT’S NOT FOR NOTHING WE CALL YOU PATIENTS SHOW SOME PATIENCE SHOW SOME FAITH WAIT FOR THE MIRACLE WAIT FOR THE CURE WAIT FOR THE MIRACLE IT’LL COME I’M SURE YOUR SON IS AILING CRITICALLY HIS DELICATE BEING IS AT STAKE BUT YOU CAN SIT BACK AND HEED OUR KNOWLEDGE HE’LL RECOVER JUST YOU WAIT IT’S TRUE WE HAVE NO CREAM TO RUB NO AEROSOL TONIC WE CAN SPRAY IT’S TRUE WE’RE LACKING A REAL SOLUTION REST WITH DIS-EASE ANYWAY WAIT FOR THE MIRACLE WAIT FOR THE CURE WAIT FOR THE MIRACLE IT’LL COME I’M SURE
  • I-32 CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DEJA VU AND IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU SOPHIE NOW SHOULD THOSE PROSPECTS SEEM TOO DIM IF CLINICAL PRACTICE SEEMS TOO SLOW THERE’S STILL NO REASON TO FEAR THE OUTCOME GOD WILL SAVE HIM DON’T YOU KNOW AND EVEN IF BY SOME SMALL CHANCE HIS PHYSICAL BODY DOES GIVE OUT HIS SOUL TO HEAVEN THE LORD WILL SUMMON THERE YOU’LL MEET HIM HAVE NO DOUBT WAIT FOR THE MIRACLE WAIT FOR THE CURE WAIT FOR THE MIRACLE IT’LL COME I’M SURE CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND THERE’S ONE THING YOU CAN DO SOPHIE goes to her child and gazes at him. Lights rise slightly on RENÉ at the grave. HÉLÈNE joins him. He ignores her. PHIL joins SOPHIE, who kisses their child’s forehead and then crosses to her bed. She gathers up the books and her other possessions. PHIL Sophie. Wait a minute. SOPHIE No more waiting! PHIL But … where are you going? SOPHIE To create my own miracle! SOPHIE exits. PHIL looks after her and then back at his child. Lights fade. END OF ACT ONE
  • II-33 ACT TWO Lights rise on PHIL and the unconscious child. The CHORUS MEMBERS ceremoniously enter and sing Philosophy of Life. CHORUS OUR MORTALITY THE REALITY OF A FINALITY PAST RATIONALITY NO SENSATION OF SALVATION FROM MINISTRATION OR REINCARNATION Lights rise on SOPHIE seated on a bench reading a book. CHORUS THE HISTORICAL SEEMS CATEGORICAL NEVER RHETORICAL OR METAPHORICAL A MIRACLE COULD BE LYRICAL NEVER SATIRICAL OR PLAIN EMPIRICAL SOPHIE closes the book and opens another. She reads. CHORUS IT IS AT BEST A FUTILE QUEST TO SEEK ONE’S SELF ON A BOOKSHELF JUST AS INEPT IS TO ACCEPT THE VOID YOU FEEL ONE DAY WILL HEAL PHILOSOPHY THE LOVE OF WISDOM PHIL AND SOPHIE TWO LOVERS GONE NUMB
  • II-34 The CHORUS MEMBERS surround SOPHIE. CHORUS LIFE IS MEANT FOR LIVING LOVE IS MEANT FOR GIVING WISDOM’S GAINED THROUGH STRUGGLE AND WE MAKE HARMONY FROM STRIFE YOU AVOID RELIVING SIMPLY BY FORGIVING EGOS LEAD TO TROUBLE IN OUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE SOPHIE gathers her books and exits. The CHORUS MEMBERS surround PHIL. CHORUS PARENTS MAKE A PAIRING MARRIAGE CAN BE SPARING COMFORT’S FOUND IN SNUGGLE BUT WORDS CAN CUT YOU LIKE A KNIFE IT’S HARD WORK REPAIRING DAMAGE FROM DESPAIRING FIX IT ON THE DOUBLE IS OUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE YOU AVOID RELIVING SIMPLY BY FORGIVING EGOS LEAD TO TROUBLE IN OUR PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE The CHORUS MEMBERS exit. Crossfade to SOPHIE seated across the writing desk from DIONYSUS as a PROFESSOR. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Let me see if I understand this. SOPHIE I don’t see how you could. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Yet here you are. So … let me see if I understand this. I am a logician, after all. SOPHIE But what I’m telling you makes no sense. Therefore … you can’t possibly understand me using logic. If, on the other hand, you were actually an illogician … maybe you’d get it.
  • II-35 PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Who better to make sense of seeming illogic than someone with a firm grasp of logic? So let me see if I understand this. First. Your son is five years old. He’s infected with the bacterium that causes scarlet fever. His condition is life-threatening. Second. René Descartes and Ralph Waldo Emerson each had a child die of scarlet fever at age five. Third. You believe yourself to be the reincarnation of both Descartes and Emerson. Fourth. You hope, by determining -- and correcting -- where your prior spiritual embodiments erred in their philosophies, to create a miracle that saves your son’s life. SOPHIE That’s pretty much it. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Very good. Then I see only two problems. SOPHIE First, I’m nuts. Second, I’m nuts. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Your logic is quite reasonable. Flawed but reasonable. If you accept the premise that reincarnation is a possible occurrence … SOPHIE Do you? PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS I have yet to hear a persuasive argument for it. (beat) I also have yet to hear a persuasive argument against it. So, for this hypothetical scenario, I’ll accept it as a possibility. SOPHIE Thank you. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Onto the actual problems then. The first is your assumption that Descartes and Emerson erred in their philosophies. There’s no doubt Descartes made scientific errors in keeping with the limitations of his time. But his more abstract notions are harder to refute. SOPHIE Their ideas contradict each other. So at least one of them was wrong. And I’m betting there’s a middle ground. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Ah. A classic Hegelian dialectic of thesis and antithesis. And you’re to be the synthesis. Assuming the conflict between their ideas can be reconciled in such a manner. So the question is whether the conflict between their ideas -- as you see it -- can be reconciled.
  • II-36 SOPHIE pulls one of the books from the bag. She sings the first verse of Spiritual Dialectic. SOPHIE I THINK THEREFORE I AM SAYS ONE IN THE POWER OF REASON I TRUST IN MY VIEW I TAKE CENTER STAGE AND THE CONCEPT OF EGO’S ROBUST THE WORLD AROUND IS REAL AS WELL MADE OF OBJECTS MY SENSES DETECT CAUSED NOT BY MY INTERNAL WILL INDEPENDENT OF WHAT I EXPECT Spotlight rises on RENÉ. He tap dances. RENÉ ‘TIS THE SEASON TO USE REASON A SEASON THAT’S ETERNAL AND MY INSTINCT SAYS I’M DISTINCT FROM EV’RYTHING EXTERNAL AS SEPARATE DID GOD BEGET EACH OF HIS LIVING CREATURES BUT MAN IS BEST ‘CAUSE HE IS BLESSED WITH MIND AMONG HIS FEATURES MY DUALISM SEES A SCHISM BETWEEN THE SOUL AND BODY THE ONE UNSEEN RUNS THE MACHINE IN NEITHER FOUND WILL GOD BE Spotlight fades on RENÉ. SOPHIE takes out another book. SOPHIE THE OTHER SAYS EXPAND THY SELF IT’S THE ONLY THING YOU CAN CONTROL BUT KEEP IN MIND THAT YOU AREN’T ALL JUST A MINISCULE PIECE OF THE WHOLE AND DON’T NEGLECT THIS EQUAL TRUTH THAT AT MOMENTS WE FEEL IN OUR HEARTS THE OVER-SOUL PERVADES THE WORLD UNIFYING ITS VARIOUS PARTS Spotlight rises on WALDO. He tap dances.
  • II-37 WALDO INTUITION IS OUR MISSION A MISSION NEVERENDING AND THE BEAUTY OF THAT DUTY IS TRULY QUITE MINDBENDING IN NATURE SEE THE BIRD AND TREE EACH FOR ITS UNIQUE ASPECT BUT IN YOUR SOUL DO NOT EXTOL THE SUBJECT O’ER THE OBJECT FOR ALL IS ONE AND THERE IS NONE DIVIDED FROM ANOTHER THE SHINING WHOLE OF MOTHER’S SOUL RESIDES WITHIN EACH BROTHER Spotlight fades on WALDO. SOPHIE lifts both books. SOPHIE DO YOU HAVE IT A WHITE RABBIT TO PULL FROM YOUR SCHOLAR’S HAT TO RECONCILE THROUGH VERBAL GUILE THE CONFLICT INNATE IN THAT IS IT THE SEASON TO LIVE BY REASON DOES OUR MISSION NEED INTUITION’S SEED ARE WE MERE MACHINES NOTHING MORE THAN GENES DO OUR SELVES TRANSCEND WHAT WE COMPREHEND IT’S TRUE THAT IN WAYS WE SAW BETTER DAYS BEFORE RATIONALISM TOOK HOLD BUT SEEKING RELIEF IN ANCIENT BELIEF I FIND RATHER SIMPLISTIC ALL TOLD SOPHIE hands the two books to the PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS. He opens his mouth to sing but no words come out. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Huh. That does present a conundrum of sorts. SOPHIE Tell me about it. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS But sometimes asking questions is more important than knowing answers. And, even if there were a way to synthesize those perspectives, the second problem in your argument seems a more fundamental one. Your view of reincarnation is based on karma. Correct?
  • II-38 SOPHIE To break the cycle, I have to avoid making the same mistake they did. Change my core. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS In that case, there’s a major flaw in your assumption that, even if Descartes and Emerson did get things wrong in their philosophies, that’s what led to your reincarnation and, by extension, your son’s life-threatening illness. SOPHIE But that’s the only point of connection! That’s what all three of us have in common. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS I grant that it’s the most obvious point of connection. Given our time constraints, there’s no practical way to determine whether or not there are others. So I’ll accept your premise that by correcting a “karmic” mistake made by both your prior spiritual embodiments you can miraculously avert a similar outcome for your own child. The problem is in your assumption that the mistake you need to correct has to do with their philosophical beliefs. SOPHIE But that’s who they were! They were thinkers. Influential thinkers. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS That’s who they are to us. That’s how history has remembered them. But that’s not all they were. They were also living, breathing humans. SOPHIE “I think, therefore I am.” But I’m more than what I think. PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS As I understand it, karma means action. If so, then the mistake you need to correct isn’t something they thought. It’s more likely something they did. How they lived their lives. The core you need to change may not be in your beliefs. It may be in your actions. SOPHIE Or in both. “In creed and your life see affinity, and then you’ll be schooled in divinity.” He didn’t recognize the truth of his life. So he’d lived in vain. That’s it! PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS What’s that? SOPHIE Just something I said a long time ago. I’m finally beginning to understand what it means. Thank you, Professor. I’m off to learn more about my prior spiritual embodiments. SOPHIE starts to exit.
  • II-39 PROFESSOR/DIONYSUS Sophie! Your books. SOPHIE Those are useless to me now. I need firsthand experience. Direct revelation. DIONYSUS drops the PROFESSOR role and freezes SOPHIE. DIONYSUS In that case, I know a shortcut. DIONYSUS gestures; the office door swings closed. He unfreezes SOPHIE, who immediately steps forward, banging her head into the closed door. SOPHIE Ouch. SOPHIE spins around and slumps against the door unconscious. DIONYSUS gestures; lights change. DIONYSUS withdraws as WALDO enters and sits at the desk. He works in silence for a moment. There’s a knock on the door. WALDO Enter! The door pushes against SOPHIE, awakening her. She crawls out of the way and looks around in amazement as LYDIA enters. LYDIA Forgive me for interrupting. WALDO What is it? LYDIA I … the children are hoping you’ll come tuck them into their beds. WALDO Hmm. Perhaps tomorrow. LYDIA That’s what you said yesterday. And the yesterday before that. WALDO And I may say it again tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that.
  • II-40 LYDIA Very well, Mister Emerson. I’ll inform your three darlings you’re occupied with more important matters. WALDO Thank you, Lydian. LYDIA doesn’t move. Yes? LYDIA Nothing. LYDIA starts to exit. WALDO I’ll be going out shortly. You needn’t wait up for me. LYDIA At this hour? Where? WALDO Mister James has asked me to stop in. LYDIA Mister James! I don’t like that man’s ideas. Emanuel Swedenborg and all his followers should be denounced as the heretics they are. WALDO You’re well aware how much I admire the sharpness of your intellect and the firmness of your convictions. I admit I’m skeptical myself of James’s view of selfhood as a delusion. Why, he goes so far to make it a cause of evil and barrier to salvation. Our selves are all we have! But I can put that aside in order to fulfill my obligations to my young godson. LYDIA Your godson. WALDO I see something extraordinary in that boy. Mark my words, William James will achieve greatness. That’s why I must seize every opportunity to influence his development. Long silence. LYDIA He’s not Waldo.
  • II-41 SOPHIE What? WALDO What did you say? LYDIA It’s just … sometimes it seems as though you … when one considers the timing of William’s birth and Waldo’s … Long silence. WALDO Is there anything else? LYDIA My name is Lydia. WALDO Pardon? LYDIA Lydia. My name is Lydia. WALDO I find that Lydian better reflects the divinity of your spirit. Lydia is so common. LYDIA I’ll kiss your children goodnight for you. WALDO Perhaps I can spare a moment to tuck one of them in myself. Tell Ellen I’ll be-- LYDIA Ellen! Of course it’s to be Ellen. WALDO Yes. Ellen is the eldest. Next time it will be Edith. And Edward after that. LYDIA Of course. WALDO Tell Ellen I’ll be there presently.
  • II-42 WALDO goes back to work. SOPHIE approaches the desk and stares at him. LYDIA sings Tell the Children. LYDIA TELL ELLEN I’LL BE THERE PRESENTLY TELL ELLEN I’LL COME TO HER SOON I’LL FUSS OVER HER PLEASANTLY AND THEN I’LL FLY OFF TO THE MOON TELL EDITH I’LL VISIT HER NEXT TIME TELL EDITH I’LL KEEP HER IN MIND I’LL MAKE LIFE TO HER SEEM SUBLIME AS SOON AS I FEEL SO INCLINED TELL EDWARD HIS TURN COMES AFTER TELL EDWARD HE’S THIRD IN THE QUEUE I’LL ENLIVEN HIM WITH LAUGHTER WHEN THERE’S NOTHING BETTER TO DO MY OWN DEAREST LYDIAN I NAMED YOU FROM THE GREEK AS SHARP AS OBSIDIAN ALTHOUGH NOT QUITE AS SLEEK YOU’RE MY PRIME MERIDIAN YOU GUIDE ME THROUGH THE WEEK BRAVING THE QUOTIDIAN WHILE I SENSE THE UNIQUE ME ME ME ME ME IIIII YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY ME ME ME ME ME IIIII YOU YOU YOU YOU YOU DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE TELL WALDO TO LIVE YET I WILL HIM TELL WALDO I’LL NEVER LET GO I SEE HIS LOST SOUL IN WILLIAM AND MY CHEERLESS HEART STARTS TO GLOW TELL ALL THE CHILDREN I LOVE THEM TELL ALL THE CHILDREN IT’S TRUE TELL ALL THE CHILDREN ABOVE THEM ONLY MY SELF I VALUE TELL ALL THE CHILDREN I LOVE THEM AND BY CHILDREN I MEAN YOU TOO
  • II-43 LYDIA storms out. SOPHIE leans in close to WALDO. SOPHIE You poor dear. You’re still not over the loss, are you? WALDO Ellen! Is that you, Ellen? SOPHIE jumps away in surprise. WALDO gazes all around. It’s been so long since you’ve spoken to me! I was afraid I’d angered you by remarrying. By no means have I forgotten you. I visit your grave every day. I even named my eldest daughter after you. SOPHIE Oh! I don’t think you should’ve done that. SOPHIE clamps a hand over her mouth. WALDO But … it was Lydian who suggested it. And the girl is a perfect jewel. She does honor to your spirit. Imagine if you’d lived long enough to bear us children. What princes they’d have been! (beat) Are you angry? Should I have remained a widower? SOPHIE shrugs her shoulders. WALDO paces in growing agitation. Please, Ellen. I need answers. Have you met … my son? Speak to me. You must! SOPHIE shakes her head emphatically. I can’t endure this any longer. Lydian! Lydian, come quickly! LYDIA (entering) What is it? Are you all right? WALDO I’ve made a decision. I’ve settled on a cure for the restlessness I’ve been feeling. I shall return to Europe. I intend to book passage on the next ship sailing from Boston harbor. LYDIA Europe! And what of us? What of your family? SOPHIE Really, Waldo. She’s got a point.
  • II-44 WALDO Thoreau will watch over you. Now that he’s completed his experiment in solitude, he’ll no doubt welcome a return to the comforts of this house. And surely you won’t object to being left in his capable hands. LYDIA As you wish. (aside) Unlike your own, Henry’s hands are indeed capable. And willing. DIONYSUS steps forward and freezes WALDO, LYDIA, and SOPHIE. DIONYSUS What can I say? I’ve always had a thing for the ladies. And they seem drawn to me. He transforms LYDIA into HÉLÈNE. The men, too, for that matter. But this one would’ve found Whitman more receptive. He transforms WALDO into RENÉ. As for these two … that’s another situation altogether. He unfreezes RENÉ, HÉLÈNE, and SOPHIE, then withdraws. SOPHIE is momentarily confused in regard to her whereabouts. HÉLÈNE You sent for me. RENÉ Ah. Hélène. Yes. Hmm. There’s no good way to tell you this. Long silence while RENÉ hesitates. SOPHIE draws closer. HÉLÈNE Perhaps it would be best to make it easy on yourself and just say it. (aside) Anything would be better than the nothing I’ve had from you these three weeks. RENÉ Very well. My landlady’s informed me she no longer requires your services. She’s offered to recom-- HÉLÈNE And you? RENÉ Pardon?
  • II-45 HÉLÈNE Do you any longer require my services? RENÉ Now that my niece … I have no … I, too, will write you an exemplary recommendation. In some circles, where my name is not despised, such a letter might actually be helpful. HÉLÈNE Will you recommend me as a maid or as a wife? SOPHIE Oh my! RENÉ Our “marriage” was never sanctified. It has no standing before God. HÉLÈNE Nor before you it seems. RENÉ I never promised to remain faithful to you. HÉLÈNE Who is she? RENÉ Pardon? HÉLÈNE With whom do you intend to be unfaithful to me? SOPHIE Yeah! Who’s the harlot? RENÉ I have no plans--… That’s not the point. HÉLÈNE I love you, René. You’ve professed the same to me on many occasions. RENÉ I wouldn’t say many. A few perhaps. You can’t hold me responsible for the follies of youth. (beat) The truth is I initiated our … bodily interaction … in the name of science. In the interests of furthering my understanding of anatomy. You may recall that I was working on my treatise on the formation of the fetus at the time.
  • II-46 HÉLÈNE I recall the formation of the fetus. And the act that led to it. And the birth of the infant girl that developed from it. And the growth of that infant girl into our daughter. And-- RENÉ Enough! HÉLÈNE And the death of our daughter three weeks ago. I recall that part with particular clarity. Do you? RENÉ Farewell, Hélène. HÉLÈNE You can’t just send me away. I won’t go. RENÉ Suit yourself. I leave for Leiden in the morning. I’ll provide you with some measure of support, as my income allows, until you find another position. HÉLÈNE runs out. SOPHIE You’re such a little shit! Wait, you’re me. I was such a little shit! RENÉ goes to the desk and begins to write as he sings the first verse of Passions. RENÉ MY DEAR PRINCESS ELIZABETH EXILE FROM BOHEMIA UNDERSTAND I YOUR LIVING DEATH BANNED FROM ACADEMIA YEARS AGO I MET YOUR MOTHER ELDEST DAUGHTER OF KING JAMES WOMAN UNLIKE ANY OTHER I CAN SENSE YOU’RE MUCH THE SAME I HAD NO CAUSE TO SUSPECT YOU KNEW OF MY PHILOSOPHY I’D BE HONORED TO INSTRUCT YOU THOUGH I OFFER NO DEGREE A letter drifts down from above and lands near SOPHIE. She picks it up and looks at RENÉ, who waits. She hesitantly sings.
  • II-47 SOPHIE MY DEAR TEACHER RENÉ DESCARTES THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR BRILLIANCE PLEDGE I HEREBY TO DO MY PART QUESTIONING WITH RESILIENCE FIRST EXPLAIN IF YOU WOULD YOUR THOUGHT PROVING THE LORD’S EXISTENCE EVERYTHING THAT I’VE BEEN TAUGHT CHALLENGES SUCH INSISTENCE RARELY BEFORE IN HISTORY DARED SOMEONE MAKE SUCH A CASE SHOULDN’T GOD BE A MYSTERY WE EMBRACE WITH UTMOST FAITH RENÉ begins to write again. RENÉ MY DEAR PRINCESS ELIZABETH STUDENT WITHOUT PARALLEL YOUR QUERIES LEAVE ME OUT OF BREATH PROMPTING MY OWN THOUGHTS TO GEL I’M BACK LIVING IN LEIDEN NOW JUST TWO HOURS FROM LA HAYE THIS CONVENIENCE WILL US ALLOW FACE TO FACE TO SPEAK I PRAY IN REGARD TO INTERACTION BETWEEN THE BODY AND MIND I HOPE I GIVE SATISFACTION ANSWERING IT’S UNDEFINED YOU SEE IT’S ALL ABOUT PASSION PASSIONS OF THE SOUL THE FORCE OF ANIMAL SPIRITS HUMANS CAN’T CONTROL ORIGINATING IN OUR BLOOD MUSCLES THEY ATTACK THUS STIMULATING ALL THE WAYS BODIES TEND TO ACT PASSIONS WILD OR UNDETECTED COME AT A GREAT COST SHOULD OUR MINDS BECOME INFECTED REASON WILL BE LOST
  • II-48 Another letter drifts down. SOPHIE quickly collects it. SOPHIE MY DEAR TEACHER RENÉ DESCARTES INTELLECTUAL GIANT ON THE WISDOM YOU IMPART I’VE BECOME RELIANT MY YOUNG BROTHER HAS STABBED A MAN WHO HAD DARED TO FLIRT WITH ME THREATENED BY MY DEAD SUITOR’S CLAN SOUTH TO SPAIN HE HAD TO FLEE NOW MY MOTHER ACCUSES ME CLAIMS I MAKE MEN HOSTILE SENDS ME OFF TO GERMANY EXILED TO DOUBLE EXILE YOU SEE IT’S ALL ABOUT PASSION PASSIONS OF THE SOUL THE FORCE OF ANIMAL SPIRITS HUMANS CAN’T CONTROL ORIGINATING IN OUR BLOOD MUSCLES THEY ATTACK THUS STIMULATING ALL THE WAYS BODIES TEND TO ACT PASSIONS WILD OR UNDETECTED COME AT A GREAT COST SHOULD OUR MINDS BECOME INFECTED REASON WILL BE LOST RENÉ steps toward SOPHIE without bothering to write. RENÉ THOSE OF US WHO REFLECT ON LIFE OFTEN SUFFER THE SAME FATE MELANCHOLY OR MENTAL STRIFE ONLY DREAMING CAN ABATE QUEEN CHRISTINA HAS SUMMONED ME SWEDEN’S COURT AWAITS MY PLEA I’LL PETITION THE ROYALTY BEAR NO MORE YOUR POVERTY YOU SEE IT’S ALL ABOUT PASSION PASSIONS OF THE SOUL THE FORCE OF ANIMAL SPIRITS HUMANS CAN’T CONTROL
  • II-49 RENÉ (CONT’D) ORIGINATING IN OUR BLOOD MUSCLES THEY ATTACK THUS STIMULATING ALL THE WAYS BODIES TEND TO ACT PASSIONS WILD OR UNDETECTED COME AT A GREAT COST SHOULD OUR MINDS BECOME INFECTED REASON WILL BE LOST Another letter drifts down. SOPHIE snatches it out of the air. SOPHIE MY DEAR TEACHER RENÉ DESCARTES (SKIP THE SWEET TALK FOR GOD’S SAKE COME ON SOPHIE IF YOU’RE SO SMART LOOK FOR HINTS OF HIS MISTAKE) POLAND’S KING HAS PROPOSED WE WED WIFE TO HIM I COULDN’T BE I’M ALREADY IN LOVE I SAID WITH DESCARTES’ PHILOSOPHY SOPHIE AND RENÉ YOU SEE IT’S ALL ABOUT PASSION PASSIONS OF THE SOUL THE FORCE OF ANIMAL SPIRITS HUMANS CAN’T CONTROL ORIGINATING IN OUR BLOOD MUSCLES THEY ATTACK THUS STIMULATING ALL THE WAYS BODIES TEND TO ACT PASSIONS WILD OR UNDETECTED COME AT A GREAT COST SHOULD OUR MINDS BECOME INFECTED REASON WILL BE LOST DIONYSUS enters as HUYGENS. He strains to drag a large trunk into the room. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Phew! What’s inside this chest anyway? RENÉ What would you expect? My books of course.
  • II-50 HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Surely the Queen of Sweden has her own library. As her private tutor, no doubt you’ll have free rein in the palace. RENÉ I need the contents of that case with me. In my room. For my meditations. I never get out of bed before noon at the earliest. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Another of your strange habits. Like the vegetarian diet. SOPHIE At least you’re not a vegan. RENÉ Is it strange a man should wish to take good care of himself? HUYGENS/DIONYSUS That reminds me. How’s that hair project coming along? RENÉ You can see for yourself. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Indeed I can. I’m afraid you’ve made no discernible progress in reversing the graying process. Not that it seems to matter. RENÉ Not matter! How can you say that? I used to think death could deprive me of no more than thirty years. Now I fear I could lose out on over a hundred. Who knows how long men might live? That’s why I must continue my animal experiments. The secret of our existence awaits discovery. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS You really believe they’re incapable of pain? The animals you dissect? SOPHIE You cut up live animals! RENÉ Only humans have souls. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS So it’s death that motivates you. You turn fifty and suddenly feel mortal. You should try your hand at poetry. And I thought you were simply concerned with your appearance.
  • II-51 RENÉ Why would I care about my appearance? I spend almost all my time alone. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS True. You are something of a recluse. When you’re not in the chambers of lovely young ladies, that is. RENÉ What are you implying, Constantijn? SOPHIE You’re a dirty old man! HUYGENS/DIONYSUS I imply nothing. The facts speak for themselves. First Elizabeth, now Christina. I give you credit for setting your sights high. Deposed royalty isn’t even good enough for you. RENÉ They’re my students! And both of them prodigies. Christina is fluent in ten languages. As for Elizabeth … to understand so easily the reasoning of both algebra and metaphysics … it’s a rare gift indeed. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS I confess to understanding neither. At least not the way you do. Or even as my son does. I suspect that’s your influence. RENÉ Christiaan honors the Huygens name. I expect him to achieve great success as a scientist. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Thank you. (beat) So you really aren’t hoping the Queen takes, shall we say, a personal interest in you? RENÉ I’m old enough to be her father! HUYGENS/DIONYSUS That you are, René. And I mean it as a compliment. RENÉ If you’ll excuse me, I must prepare for my first session with her Excellency. RENÉ sits at the desk and begins making notes. Behind him, HUYGENS/DIONYSUS goes to the trunk and opens the lid. He stares inside, aghast. SOPHIE approaches.
  • II-52 HUYGENS/DIONYSUS Dear Lord in Heaven! RENÉ What are you doing? Get away from there! Before RENÉ can reach the trunk, HUYGENS/DIONYSUS lifts out a female doll. It’s the size of a human child and highly realistic, with mechanically functional limbs. SOPHIE staggers back. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS I … I just wanted to see which works you hold so dear. RENÉ Please put that down. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS It must’ve cost you a fortune. RENÉ Please. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS The likeness is remarkable. RENÉ It’s a … scientific model. I had it built to illustrate the human machine once it’s lost-- … as an example of the machine without a soul. RENÉ carefully takes the doll from HUYGENS/DIONYSUS and returns it to the trunk. He closes the lid. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS I’m sorry. RENÉ I think it would be best if you left me now. HUYGENS/DIONYSUS As you wish. (beat) Do you ever hear from her? Hélène. The maid who used to look after your … niece. I know you had strong feelings for her. RENÉ collapses onto the trunk. SOPHIE reaches out toward him. DIONYSUS drops the HUYGENS role and gestures; crossfade to the hospital room. A heart monitor beeps slowly but steadily. PHIL gazes at his son for a moment, then sings The Beat Goes On.
  • II-53 PHIL LIFE CAN GET ROUTINE AT TIMES LIFE CAN SEEM MONOTONOUS LIFE CAN BE AN UPHILL CLIMB BUT LIFE STILL MEANS THE WORLD TO US LOVE CAN PUNCH US IN THE GUT LOVE CAN BRING HEARTACHE PROFOUND LOVE CAN DRIVE US TRULY NUTS BUT LOVE STILL MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND The CHORUS MEMBERS enter. CHORUS LIVING AND LOVING BREATHING AND FEELING EACH YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR THE BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON PHIL DEATH CAN STRIKE US AS UNFAIR DEATH CAN SEEM OH SO UNJUST DEATH CAN CATCH US UNAWARE BUT DEATH STILL MEANS THE END FOR US FAITH CAN HELP US FACE OUR FEARS FAITH CAN LIGHTEN WHAT’S UNKNOWN FAITH CAN MINIMIZE OUR TEARS BUT FAITH STILL LEAVES US ON OUR OWN CHORUS LIVING AND LOVING BREATHING AND FEELING EACH YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR THE BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON BEAT GOES ON
  • II-54 PHIL YOU LIE THERE SO SHORT OF BREATH YOU LIE THERE WITH FACE SO RED YOU LIE THERE ON VERGE OF DEATH BUT YOU STILL HOLD ON BY A THREAD I STAND HERE AND PLAY MY PART I STAND HERE AND NOD MY HEAD I STAND HERE WITH CARING HEART BUT I STILL FEEL SUCH MORTAL DREAD LIVING AND LOVING BREATHING AND FEELING I HOPE I SO HOPE I JUST HOPE THE BEAT GOES ON CHORUS THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP PHIL LIVING AND LOVING BREATHING AND FEELING I HOPE I SO HOPE I JUST HOPE THE BEAT GOES ON CHORUS THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP The CHORUS MEMBERS withdraw but remain onstage as the music fades into the beep of the heart monitor. SOPHIE enters. SOPHIE Phil! You won’t believe this! Descartes kept a doll of his-- PHIL Where have you been? SOPHIE What? I …
  • II-55 PHIL Do you have any idea how long you’ve been gone? SOPHIE I … no, not really. I hit my head again. Don’t worry: I’ve been to the campus infirmary. Professor Logos insisted I get it looked at. PHIL And …? SOPHIE And what? PHIL Where is it? SOPHIE Where’s what? PHIL Or should I ask, when is it coming? SOPHIE I… PHIL Well? SOPHIE I don’t know what you’re talking about. My head is spinning from everything I saw. Not to mention the bump. I’m still trying to get my mind around it all so I can figure out-- PHIL The miracle! You were going to create your own. Right? That’s what you said. Right? Where is it? When’s it coming? ‘Cause we could really use one about now. SOPHIE What’s happening? What’s wrong? Is he-- …? PHIL He’s dying, Sophie. So. Work your miracles. Or say your goodbyes. But whichever you do, do it soon. SOPHIE No.
  • II-56 PHIL The infection’s spread to his heart. And to his brain. SOPHIE No. PHIL They call it Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome. It even has an acronym. MODS. There’s probably a pun in there somewhere. SOPHIE What are they doing to stop it? What’s the treatment? PHIL Don’t worry: They’ve called the MODS Squad. (beat) Not bad, huh? Wait. I just got another one. But how to use it in a sentence. What we need … are meds for MODS. We need meds for MODS for bods in beds. Bods in beds belonging to kids in Keds. SOPHIE Phil. PHIL Work with me here. Tods and their teds. No. Too fuzzy. Get it? Toddler teddy bears. Fuzzy. (beat) What else? Gods and … nope. Nothing meaningful follows gods. SOPHIE This is serious! PHIL You think? SOPHIE It’ll destroy me! PHIL It’ll destroy you? SOPHIE Like Waldo and René. They were devastated. And now it’s happening to me. CHORUS IT’S REINCARNATION DÉJÀ VU AND IT’S HAPPENING TO YOU The CHORUS MEMBERS exit.
  • II-57 PHIL For god’s sake, Sophie! You are NOT the reincarnation of Descartes and Emerson! There’s no such thing as reincarnation. I don’t believe in reincarnation. SOPHIE Well then. So much for believing in me. Silence except for the beep of the heart monitor. Enter DIONYSUS as a PATIENT. He wears a hospital gown and drags an IV stand. PATIENT/DIONYSUS Don’t mean to interrupt. SOPHIE Can we help you with something? PATIENT/DIONYSUS More like I can help you. SOPHIE I doubt that. PATIENT/DIONYSUS Nothing wrong with doubt. According to some folks it’s the only basis for certainty. PHIL Listen, buddy … SOPHIE Wait. Let’s hear what he has to say. PATIENT/DIONYSUS Bananas and jello. PHIL What? PATIENT/DIONYSUS Bananas and jello. That’s what your boy needs. Good for the organs. See, I used to drink a bit, back in the day. Red wine mostly. They say it’s healthy -- in moderation or what not. But I went kinda wild. Messed up my liver bad. From what I can dismember, that is. Now I eat bananas and jello every day. Back on my feet. Back from the dead. SOPHIE He can’t eat. He’s in a coma.
  • II-58 PATIENT/DIONYSUS Not now he can’t. Once he starts getting better. That’s when you give him bananas and jello. Lots of it. Once he’s eating on his own again. SOPHIE Once he-- …? What makes you think-- PATIENT/DIONYSUS Crazy. Getting sick like that. All ‘cause of some invisible little … bug. If people was computers, all we’d gotta do is run de-bugging software. PHIL Now that’s punny! Not bad at all. PATIENT/DIONYSUS But they ain’t. People ain’t computers. No matter what that guy in the basement thinks. Talk about crazy. He’s one of them mad scientists or what not. Wants to put tiny robots into people to cure ‘em of diseases. PHIL It’s called nanotechnology. It’s highly theo-- SOPHIE It’s real? What he’s saying is real? PHIL That depends. Define real. From what I’ve read, the sort of thing he’s talking about is a long way off. And I’ve never heard they conduct that kind of research here. PATIENT/DIONYSUS Right there down in the basement. In a secret lab. SOPHIE Show me! PHIL What? PATIENT/DIONYSUS Only thing is, I ain’t actually been there. SOPHIE But you know where it is?
  • II-59 PATIENT/DIONYSUS Well … not exactly. Elevator repairman told me about it. He found it by accident. Said you take the service elevator all the way down. But I wasn’t s’posed to tell nobody. SOPHIE Never mind. I’ll find it myself. PHIL Sophie. SOPHIE Don’t you see? It’s a sign! This man wandering in here like this. Right now. PHIL A coincidence is what it is. SOPHIE There are no coincidences! Everything happens for a reason. PHIL Does that mean you’ll take his advice about bananas and jello? SOPHIE You don’t understand! PATIENT/DIONYSUS It’s got something to do with the gelatinous nature of our organs. The bananas will help the jello stick to his insides. So you can’t put them right in the jello the way some folks like. They gotta go down separately. ‘Nanas first, then the jello. SOPHIE I’ll be back soon. I promise. PHIL Please don’t leave again. SOPHIE He needs me to do this. PHIL I need you to stay. SOPHIE I can’t let him die! I won’t!
  • II-60 SOPHIE rushes out. The PATIENT/DIONYSUS starts to exit, then turns back to PHIL. PATIENT/DIONYSUS Here’s one. The old age versus the MODS. Get it? Not bad, huh? PHIL How did you-- …? DIONYSUS drops the PATIENT role and gestures; crossfade to a research lab, where GIL studies something through a microscope. He’s played by the actor who plays RENÉ and WALDO. GIL Eureka! GIL does a celebratory dance as he sings Immortality. GIL NOBODY ELSE THINKS IT’S POSSIBLE THEY SAY IT CAN NEVER BE DONE I FIRMLY BELIEVE QUITE THE OPPOSITE I’M DETERMINED TO SHOW EVERYONE ALONE IN MY LAB I’M SEQUESTERED CONDUCTING NEW TEST AFTER TEST BY FAILURE THUS FAR I’VE BEEN PESTERED BUT DEVOTED I’VE STAYED TO THE QUEST GETTING RICH IS NOT MY MENTALITY GAINING FAME IS NOT MY OBJECTIVE THE REWARDS OF TRUE IMMORTALITY ARE THE THINGS WITHOUT WHICH I CAN’T LIVE GIVE ME IMMORTALITY PLEASE NOT METAPHORICAL BUT MEDICAL NO MORE ILLNESS NO MORE DISEASE LIFE WITHOUT DEATH WOULD BE INCREDIBLE SOME PEOPLE FEEL IT’S IMMORAL THEY SAY THAT IT SHOULD BE A CRIME ON DEATH BEDS I BET THEY’D NOT QUARREL IF GOD OFFERED TO GIVE THEM MORE TIME MAYBE LONG LIFE DOESN’T THRILL YOU WHEN PICTURING WRINKLES AND ACHES BUT I HAVE IN MIND TO INSTILL YOU WITH A BODY RESISTANT TO FLAKES
  • II-61 Enter the CHORUS MEMBERS as ELDERLY PEOPLE. CHORUS GIVE US IMMORTALITY PLEASE NOT METAPHORICAL BUT MEDICAL NO MORE ILLNESS NO MORE DISEASE LIFE WITHOUT DEATH WOULD BE INCREDIBLE GIVE US IMMORTALITY SOON NOT METAPHORICAL BUT MEDICAL NO MORE HAIR LOSS NO EATING PRUNES PERMANENT YOUTH WOULD BE INCREDIBLE GIL EVERYONE WINS BY MY VICTORY OUR INSTINCT MOST DEEP IT REVIVES NO LONGER WILL BE CONTRADICTORY OUR DESIRES AND THE FACTS OF OUR LIVES BENEFITS WAIT FOR SOCIETY FROM WISDOM WE JOINTLY ACCRUE WHEN FREED FROM THE PAIN OF ANXIETY A NEW HEAVEN ON EARTH WE’LL DEBUT GETTING RICH IS NOT MY MENTALITY GAINING FAME IS NOT MY OBJECTIVE THE REWARDS OF TRUE IMMORTALITY ARE THE THINGS WITHOUT WHICH I CAN’T LIVE GIL AND CHORUS GIVE US IMMORTALITY PLEASE NOT METAPHORICAL BUT MEDICAL NO MORE ILLNESS NO MORE DISEASE LIFE WITHOUT DEATH WOULD BE INCREDIBLE GIVE US IMMORTALITY NOW NOT METAPHORICAL BUT MEDICAL NO MORE ANGUISH JUST MORE KNOW-HOW PARADISE FOUND WOULD BE INCREDIBLE The CHORUS MEMBERS exit as GIL continues to dance. SOPHIE rushes on. She and GIL freeze upon seeing each other. They stare at each other for a moment. SOPHIE Don’t I know you? You seem somehow familiar. (beat) Are you … the mad scientist? I mean the nano-nano guy.
  • II-62 GIL Nanobiologist. Doctor Gamesh. Gilbert Gamesh. Call me Gil. You are? And how exactly did you know I was down here? SOPHIE I’m Sophie. My son is dying. I need some of those tiny robots of yours. GIL Ah. I take it you’ve been talking to the elevator repairman. SOPHIE No. Well, yes. I did talk to him. But not about you. I heard about you from a patient with liver disease. Recovering alcoholic, I think. GIL Awareness of my work seems to be circulating rather quickly. And widely. SOPHIE No one else knows. And I promise not to tell anyone. As long as you help me. GIL No matter. I no longer require secrecy. Not after what I’ve just discovered! SOPHIE Then you can do it? You can cure people of diseases? An alarm beeps. GIL silences it. GIL Excuse me one moment. GIL goes to a long row of plastic bottles. He opens them in turn and removes from each a pill, which he swallows with sips of water. SOPHIE Are you sick? Is that why-- …? GIL Heavens no! And I intend to remain in perfect health. Hence my hourly regimen of supplements. SOPHIE You take all those every hour?
  • II-63 GIL Every sixty-four minutes to be precise. But only during my normal waking hours. REM sleep is equally vital for achieving optimal bodily function. SOPHIE Speaking of time … I’m a bit pressed for it. GIL Aren’t we all? There soon will come a day when no one need ever hurry again. Once we achieve medical immortality, we’ll enjoy life spans of over a thousand years. No point to rushing through that. SOPHIE I guess not. But until then … GIL Right. Your son. His condition is urgent? SOPHIE Critical. GIL I see. I have a child myself, you know. Five years old. SOPHIE You do? That’s an odd … coincidence. GIL A little girl. Eterna. So please believe it when I say I empathize with your predicament. I truly wish I could help you. SOPHIE But you said-- … What about that discovery you just made? GIL It’s true I’ve had a breakthrough of sorts. But it’s nothing with immediate applicability. I’m working on the second of the three bridges to immortality. The first is maintaining ideal health using current technologies. That reminds me. GIL begins to make himself a cup of tea. Green tea. At least ten cups a day. SOPHIE That’s a whole lot of antioxidants. You were saying? About your breakthrough.
  • II-64 GIL The second bridge involves genetic controls. I’m working to identify and block genes that cause disease and contribute to cellular decay. Totally irrelevant to your needs. What you require is the third and final bridge. But it’s not my field. Nanobots. Tiny machines injected into the bloodstream to repair existing damage at the cellular level. SOPHIE That sounds perfect! So where can I get some? GIL I’m afraid they don’t exist. Yet. But they will. SOPHIE When? GIL Soon. SOPHIE How soon? GIL Not soon enough to save your son. SOPHIE Oh. GIL I’m truly sorry. GIL wraps his arm with a blood pressure cuff and inflates it. SOPHIE How can you be so sure? GIL Pardon? SOPHIE Not that it’s too late for me. That those things can be created at all. The nano-robots. GIL It’s inevitable. Scientifically inevitable. Like all great discoveries. Copernicus. Galileo. Newton. Darwin. Einstein. All these men of genius were in the right place at the right time. But if they hadn’t achieved their breakthroughs, someone else eventually would’ve.
  • II-65 SOPHIE That’s hard to believe. GIL Perhaps so. But true nonetheless. All scientific advances flow from existing foundations. Even those that seem to be tremendous leaps forward. That’s why discoveries often occur nearly simultaneously in multiple places. It’s as if the ideas are floating in the air, just waiting for someone to latch onto them. He finishes taking his blood pressure and records the results. During the following, he counts his pulse and uses a digital ear thermometer to check his temperature, again recording the results. Darwin is credited with identifying natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. But Alfred Russel Wallace came up with it independently at the same time. Both Newton and Leibniz formulated the basic concepts of calculus, at once working from opposite starting points but arriving at identical principles. On the very day that Alexander Graham Bell filed his patent for the telephone, Elisha Gray did likewise. Galileo’s telescope was a modification of a device first developed by three different Dutch opticians. And the list goes on, even if popular history often bestows recognition on a single individual. SOPHIE And that’s what you want? To be the individual recognized for immortality. GIL I’d admittedly get some personal gratification from that. But what matters most is that someone achieves it. And someone will. Enough researchers are working on aspects of the problem that its solution has become inevitable. Even though few scientists currently believe true immortality is attainable. Before long, all the necessary components will be floating in the air, waiting for someone to synthesize them in a way no one else has quite imagined. SOPHIE Your breakthrough today. Will it help? With the synthesis. GIL begins to perform calisthenics. GIL In a small way, yes, it might. It could spark someone to come up with an even more important discovery. On a purely practical level, it should help me be taken seriously. Which will lead to better funding. I might even be invited to work in a legitimate lab. One with actual security, where not just anyone can burst in unannounced. No offense. SOPHIE None taken. Just one more question before I go. Why are you doing this? Why is it so important to you? Is it some sort of divine calling? Do you think God chose you?
  • II-66 GIL God? I don’t believe in God. That’s why this is so important to me! He stops the calisthenics. Do you know much about human consciousness? Our capacity for self-awareness. What some people call the soul. SOPHIE I’ve just recently been learning about that very subject. From Descartes and Emerson. GIL Ah. Then you’re way behind the times. Get with the century, Sophie! SOPHIE Please. Enlighten me. GIL Very well. Contemporary neuroscience verges on a major breakthrough of its own. Inevitable advances in brain mapping will prove once and for all what neither Descartes nor Emerson understood. Our sense of self, the persistent feeling that we possess an immortal soul, results from a purely physical process. It’s an unconscious psychological phenomenon. (beat) What this means is that when we die, that’s it. We are no more. There is no ghost in the machine, at least not one that can slip away into the ether. (beat) So medical immortality is our best hope. Our only hope. SOPHIE Oh. I see. GIL Dear lord. I’m such an ass. I momentarily-- SOPHIE It’s okay. GIL I never would’ve-- … I can’t believe-- … I beg your forgiveness. SOPHIE I think … I’d better get back upstairs now. As SOPHIE starts to exit, the door swings open. GRACE staggers in, cradling the Francine doll in her arms. GIL Grace! What’s happened? Eterna! Is she-- …?
  • II-67 GRACE sings the opening of Eterna’s End. GRACE ETERNA ETERNA MY JOY ETERNA ETERNA MY GIRL ETERNA ETERNA SO SWEET ETERNA ETERNA MY WORLD ETERNA ETERNA MY LOVE ETERNA ETERNA MY LIGHT ETERNA ETERNA SO SOFT ETERNA ETERNA MY LIFE I TRIED TO LIVE FOR ETERNA FOR ETERNA I PERSISTED ON I CRY SAD TEARS FOR ETERNA MY ETERNA MY DEAR ONE IS GONE GIL WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO HER WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO US GRACE I TRIED TO KEEP HER FROM HARM’S WAY TO SAVE HER LIFE I’D HAVE GIVEN MINE I TRIED TO KEEP DEATH FAR AWAY NOW DEATH KEEPS HER FOR WHAT’S LEFT OF TIME NO WAY TO WATCH HER EACH MOMENT TO OMNISCIENCE LAYS NO PARENT CLAIM HER TRAGIC FATE HAD NO OMEN ON MISFORTUNE ALONE PLACE THE BLAME Hit by a car. Chasing the dog. Your mother brought her in. I was in the ER when … ETERNA ETERNA OUR CHILD ETERNA ETERNA OUR PRIDE ETERNA ETERNA SO STRONG ETERNA ETERNA DEATH’S BRIDE YOU GAVE YOUR BEST TO ETERNA FOR ETERNA YOU BRAVED ENDLESS TOIL WHILE YOU DEFIED THE INFERNO YOUR ETERNA LOST HER MORTAL COIL
  • II-68 GIL MY EFFORTS WERE ALL FOR ETERNA FOR ETERNA I TOOK ALL THESE PAINS AND YOU’RE HERE TELLING ME SURE NOW FOR ETERNA I LABORED IN VAIN WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO HER WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ME WHAT’S HAPPENED WHAT’S HAPPENED TO US GRACE DON’T BOTHER DON’T BOTHER TO ASK IT’LL NEVER IT’LL NEVER MAKE SENSE NO REASON NO REASON FOR WHY ETERNA’S ETERNA’S LIFE ENDS By the time the song ends, the doll has been laid onto the lab table. GRACE and GIL awkwardly attempt to comfort each other. SOPHIE I, uh … I’m very sorry. An alarm beeps. GRACE You and your goddamn supplements! GIL I have fifty-some minutes before my next round. GRACE checks her beeper. GRACE Shit. Code blue. GIL Can’t someone else-- …? GRACE I swore an oath. To help the living. (beat) Sophie. You’d better come with me. SOPHIE Oh god. Oh god oh god oh god.
  • II-69 SOPHIE follows GRACE off. GIL looks at the doll and begins to hyperventilate. In growing panic, he finds the blood pressure cuff and wraps it around his arm. DIONYSUS enters and freezes GIL. DIONYSUS You don’t need to see any more of this. He gestures; crossfade to the hospital room. The heart monitor is flatlining. Several CHORUS MEMBERS are positioned around the bed as HOSPITAL WORKERS. GRACE rushes on and joins the attempts to resuscitate the boy. SOPHIE approaches PHIL. SOPHIE I… PHIL Don’t! PHIL sings a reprise of Understand This. PHIL GOD IF YOU CAN HEAR ME I MEAN IF YOU’RE EVEN REAL SEND A SIGN TO SOPHIE HER OWN SELFISHNESS REVEAL I CANNOT UNDERSTAND THIS OFF YOU GO I DON’T KNOW WHERE LEAVING HIM ALONE LIKE THIS HANGING ON WITHOUT A PRAYER OH SOPHIE I DO HOPE OUR SON WILL LIVE PLEASE BRING FORTH THE WONDER CURE PLEASE CREATE YOUR MIRACLE OUR SON’S SURVIVAL PLEASE ENSURE OH SOPHIE I’M AFRAID OUR SON NOW DIES PLEASE DON’T TELL ME YOUR REGRETS PLEASE DON’T DARE APOLOGIZE OUR SON’S DEMISE ENDS OUR DUETS SOPHIE says nothing. GRACE stops working. She motions for the CHORUS MEMBERS to cease their efforts. GRACE I’m calling it. Time of death …
  • II-70 DIONYSUS freezes everyone. DIONYSUS I know, I know. Why don’t I do something? That’s what you’re asking yourselves. (beat) As I told you earlier, I’m here to be your guide. Just because some of you mispronounce it as “god” doesn’t mean I can intervene in human affairs. I show you what you need to see. It’s up to you to pay attention. It’s up to you to act. Free will. He contemplates for a long moment. Although … maybe there is one thing you can do. It’s an age-old little tradition called sacrifice. Relax! We’re not barbarians here. I don’t mean a human sacrifice. At least not literally. Not of your actual life. All you have to do is give up something you value for the sake of something -- or someone -- else. You have to perform a selfless action. (beat) Any volunteers? He searches the audience for takers. That’s what I figured. Some things never change. (beat) Now that I’ve got sacrifices on my mind … I find I could go for some animal flesh. I don’t suppose any of you happen to have brought along a bull? Of course not. Too big. Perhaps a goat then? I’d even settle for leftovers from that Edward Albee play. (beat) No? Oh well. On with the show. He gestures; the CHORUS MEMBERS file out. Once they’re off, he unfreezes PHIL, SOPHIE, and GRACE. GRACE Not a good day to be a mother. PHIL Or a father. GRACE No. I’m sorry. (beat) If you’ll excuse me … SOPHIE Of course. GRACE starts to leave. She stops and turns to PHIL. GRACE I’ve been through this many times. Many. I’ve learned it’s always possible to forgive. Doctor’s advice: Remember that. GRACE exits. Long silence.
  • II-71 SOPHIE I won’t ask you to forgive me. Even though I am sorry. (beat) I did learn some things. I still have more questions than answers, though. I think … that’s the way it should be. PHIL turns away from her. SOPHIE sings Into the Flow. SOPHIE WE ASK SO MANY QUESTIONS GET HARDLY ANY ANSWERS ODD HINTS AND VAGUE SUGGESTIONS SKIP THROUGH OUR MINDS LIKE DANCERS WHO AM I WHY AM I HERE WHAT OF THE WORLD AROUND ME WE WISH OUR LIVES WERE MORE CLEAR AND PONDER THEM PROFOUNDLY EACH OF US DEEPLY DELVES INTO OUR DISCRETE SELVES REFLECTING LIKE SAGES ON RIDDLES OF AGES THOUGH WORDS CANNOT SOLVE THEM THERE’S ONE TRUTH I CAN SPEAK OF I THINK THEREFORE I AM AND I AM THEREFORE I LOVE I THINK THEREFORE I AM AND I AM THEREFORE I LOVE IT MAY NOT BE MUCH IT’S EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW SO TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW JUST TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW SOPHIE extends her hand to PHIL. He doesn’t move. Lights rise on GRACE and GIL staring down at the doll. SOPHIE sees them. SOPHIE BENEATH OUR BASIC QUERIES LIES ONE MORE CONSEQUENTIAL A SONG WHOSE BEAT WE HEAR AS THE TWO-STEP EXISTENTIAL WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE DIE ARE GOD AND HEAVEN WAITING OUR FEAR THAT DEATH IS GOOD-BYE CAN LEAVE US PALPITATING
  • II-72 SOPHIE (CONT’D) WE EACH ATTEMPT TO CLIMB THE SHIFTING SANDS OF TIME DESIRING ASSURANCE OF OUR OWN ENDURANCE THOUGH WORDS CANNOT STILL THEM THERE’S ONE TRUTH I CAN SPEAK OF I BREATHE THEREFORE I AM AND I AM THEREFORE I LOVE GRACE and GIL join hands. SOPHIE, GRACE, AND GIL I BREATHE THEREFORE I AM AND I AM THEREFORE I LOVE IT MAY NOT BE MUCH IT’S EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW SO TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW JUST TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW SOPHIE extends her hand to PHIL. PHIL Do you still believe in reincarnation? Do you believe you’ve got the soul of Descartes and Emerson? SOPHIE ON EVEN KNOTTIER SUBJECTS OUR THOUGHTS BECOME ENTANGLED IT’S THEN WE IMPROVISE STEPS AND DANCE A MENTAL TANGO WEIGHED DOWN WITH BODIES MORTAL WHY NOT BELIEVE OUR ESSENCE ESCAPES THROUGH GHOSTLY PORTAL AND THWARTS OUR EVANESCENCE SOPHIE, GRACE, AND GIL WE EACH IMBUE THE REAL WITH WHAT WE’D LIKE TO FEEL CONFRONTING THE TRAGIC INSPIRES FAITH IN MAGIC THOUGH WORDS CANNOT GO FAR THERE’S ONE TRUTH WE CAN SPEAK OF WE DREAM THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE LOVE
  • II-73 SOPHIE, GRACE, AND GIL (CONT’D) WE DREAM THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE LOVE IT MAY NOT BE MUCH IT’S EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW SO TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW JUST TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW SOPHIE AT HEART I FIND THIS INSIGHT REGARDING DEATH AND REBIRTH OUR BEINGS MUST BE FINITE TO GIVE INFINITY WORTH IDEAS FLOAT AROUND US WHY NOT THE SAME FOR SPIRIT COLLECTIVE SOUL ASTOUNDS US WHENEVER WE COME NEAR IT EACH OF US STILL REMAINS IN OUR SHARED JOYS AND PAINS BEQUEATHING PERSISTENCE TO HUMAN EXISTENCE THOUGH WORDS CANNOT GO FAR THERE’S ONE TRUTH I CAN SUPPLY WE DIE THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE DIE WE DIE THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE DIE IT MAY NOT BE MUCH IT’S EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW OUR LIVES WILL END THEN OUR SPIRITS RETURN INTO THE FLOW OUR LIVES WILL END THEN OUR SPIRITS RETURN INTO THE FLOW SOPHIE extends her hand to PHIL. He finally takes it. PHIL, SOPHIE, GRACE, AND GIL THOUGH WORDS CANNOT GO FAR THERE’S ONE TRUTH WE CAN SUPPLY WE DIE THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE DIE
  • II-74 PHIL, SOPHIE, GRACE, AND GIL (CONT’D) WE DIE THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE DIE IT MAY NOT BE MUCH IT’S EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW OUR LIVES WILL END THEN OUR SPIRITS RETURN INTO THE FLOW OUR LIVES WILL END THEN OUR SPIRITS RETURN INTO THE FLOW THOUGH WORDS CANNOT GO FAR THERE’S ONE TRUTH WE CAN SPEAK OF WE LOVE THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE LOVE WE LOVE THEREFORE WE ARE AND WE ARE THEREFORE WE LOVE IT MAY NOT BE MUCH IT’S EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW SO TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW JUST TAKE MY HAND AND TOGETHER WE’LL GO INTO THE FLOW SOPHIE and PHIL embrace. DIONYSUS turns to the audience. DIONYSUS Well, better late than never, I suppose. Speaking of which, it’s about time I made my exit. I wouldn’t want your experience to seem anti-climactic. DIONYSUS looks at PHIL and SOPHIE, who continue to embrace. He sighs. And then … The heart monitor beeps once. DIONYSUS turns toward the bed in wonder. Pause. The heart monitor beeps again, and then again. Before long it’s resumed a slow but steady rhythm. SOPHIE and PHIL notice. They rush over to the bed. SOPHIE It’s a miracle! DIONYSUS Break out the champagne! Or at least the bananas and jello. The masked CHORUS MEMBERS ceremoniously enter and dress DIONYSUS in his robes.
  • II-75 DIONYSUS I won’t say this is where our story ends, for our story has no ending -- only recurring cycles within a continuous, eternal truth. But this is where my services are no longer needed. The rest of your journey can be self-guided. Peace, shalom, salaam, namaste. DIONYSUS bows to the audience and then, in a dazzling effect, disappears. The CHORUS MEMBERS remove their masks and slowly move to the front edge of the stage. They sing a reprise of The Essence. Some CHORUS MEMBERS extend microphones toward the audience for the second of each “and we bring you…”. CHORUS WE’RE THE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT SUMMON US AND WE APPEAR EVEN IF YOU DON’T REVERE IT WE’RE ALWAYS ALREADY HERE WE ARE KRISHNA BUDDHA AND CONFUCIUS WE ARE MOSES JESUS AND MOHAMMED WE’RE THE ESSENCE OF ALL THINGS WE ARE GOD MADE MANIFEST AND WE BRING YOU LIGHT AND WE BRING YOU LIGHT WE’RE THE UNIVERSAL SPIRIT SUMMON US AND WE APPEAR EVEN IF YOU DON’T REVERE IT WE’RE ALWAYS ALREADY HERE WE ARE KRISHNA BUDDHA AND CONFUCIUS WE ARE MOSES JESUS AND MOHAMMED WE’RE THE ESSENCE OF ALL THINGS WE ARE GOD MADE MANIFEST AND WE BRING YOU LOVE AND WE BRING YOU LOVE The final notes of the song reverberate as the CHORUS chants the Closing Prayer. OM OM OM Lights fade to a spotlight on PHIL and SOPHIE, who’ve continued to embrace, hold hands, touch each other’s faces, etc. Blackout. END OF SHOW