UnWritten: Excerpt

UnWritten

Characters

Book Binder

Kalliper

Leather Smith

Herald

Lord Tagan

Hunter

Boy (can be female)

Leather Master

Voices 1-5:  (Kalliper’s Interior Monologue)

Patrons 1-4

Inn Keeper

Hired Guards 1-5

Note:  Patrons 1-4 and Inn Keeper can be cross-cast with Hired Guards 1-5. There is potential for combining them with Voices 1-5 as well, but this would need to be handled carefully. In such an instance, direct Playwright involvement is required. (Provided I’m still alive.)

Setting

A rural town and a nearby forest.

Time

Any Time

Act I

 

Prologue

(Lighting/Sound: Darkness. Disembodied voices slowly saturate the stage before spilling out to engulf the audience. Unintelligible whisperings, obviously meaningful, yet uninterpretable, swell to a crescendo before banking to a low murmur, accompanied by a muted light show. The ensuing quiet lingers for a moment. Then…)

 

VOICE 1

Where are you going?

 

VOICE 2

Where are you going?

 

VOICE 3

Forwards.

 

VOICE 4

Backwards.

 

VOICE 5

The path you walk lingers.

 

VOICE 1

Where are you going?

 

VOICE 2

Where are you going?

 

VOICE 3

Tell me.

 

VOICE 4

Tell me.

 

VOICE 5

Your footsteps meander.

 

VOICE 1

Where are you going?

 

VOICE 2

Where are you staying?

 

VOICE 3

Where have you been?

 

VOICE 5

The World sighs behind you.

 

VOICE 1

Where are you walking?

 

VOICE 2

Where are you going?

 

VOICE 4

Where is your anchor?

 

VOICE 5

Reality shifts.

 

VOICE 1

Where are you? Where are you?

 

VOICE 2

Where is your light?

 

VOICE 3

Where are you? Who are you?

 

VOICE 4

Show us your sight!

 

VOICE 5

Where is your pathway? Where is your partner? Where is your Lover?

 

KALLIPER’s VOICE

My Heart walks alone.

I walk where I please, as my Soul commands,

I walk where I want, thru all of these lands,

I dance when I sing and joy when I laugh,

I heed what I wish, disdaining the chaff,

I hark to the calls I hear on the wind,

I sway with the tides that fountain within,

I list with the wills, e’er whisp’ring my name,

I leave when I turn, whilst feeling no shame,

I hold my head high and say what I see,

I share what I think for nary a fee,

I walk where I go, ne’er staying in place,

And leave all the Souls who think to give chase,

I am a Dragon. A servant to none.

I am free.

 

VOICE 5

You are alone.

 

VOICE 1, 2

Alone.

 

VOICE 3, 4

Alone.

 

KALLIPER’s VOICE

Alone.

 

(Sound/Lighting: Background murmuring and light show cut off as KALLIPER’s ‘Alone’ echoes thru the theatre as if thru a huge, empty, cavernous space.)

 

Scene Shifts

Act I

Scene i

(Lighting/Scene: Lights fade up. The interior of a leather workshop, with three workbenches, is revealed. Two are occupied. The third, the Leather Master’s space, which features fancier equipment, is empty. BOOK BINDER and LEATHER SMITH are hard at work in their separate areas. On the edge of BOOK BINDER’s workbench, a conspicuous pile of unbound sheaves of paper sits. A flamboyantly large, but relatively drably colored quill rests near the papers, along with a bottle of ink.)

 

(The repetitive, echoing sound of leather being pierced by awls and mallets fills the theater as they work. BOOK BINDER works less diligently, obviously distracted by the papers and quill. Finally…)

 

BOOK BINDER

(Stops working and grabs papers.)

Tell me a story.

 

LEATHER SMITH

What?

 

BOOK BINDER

Tell me a story.

 

LEATHER SMITH

Why?

 

BOOK BINDER

Because while you’re telling it, I’ll be writing it down. And then, when you’re not here, I can tell it to others.

 

LEATHER SMITH

Tell your own story.

 

BOOK BINDER

I can’t tell stories and write at the same time. Don’t be ridiculous.

 

LEATHER SMITH

Why not?

 

BOOK BINDER

Stories require arm waving! Grand gestures of emphatic emphasis! Pointing. Tell me. How’m I supposed to point impressively while scribbling with a pen?

 

LEATHER SMITH

You’re daft. Get back to work.

 

BOOK BINDER

Tell me a story, and I will.

 

LEATHER SMITH

It’s your unfinished project, not mine.

 

BOOK BINDER

But you’re in charge of me.

 

LEATHER SMITH

(Glares)

You want a story.

 

BOOK BINDER

Yes, please.

(Gets ready to write.)

 

LEATHER SMITH

Fine.

(Thinks long and hard, then gets up.)

This morning, as I was on my way to work—That’s here—I spied a frog sitting in the middle of my path. It wasn’t moving. I walked towards it. When I reached it… It jumped off the path, into the stream.

(Sits and goes back to work.)

 

BOOK BINDER

That’s it?

 

LEATHER SMITH

That’s It.

 

BOOK BINDER

That was awful.

 

LEATHER SMITH

It wasn’t an exciting walk.

 

BOOK BINDER

But you could have embellished it a bit!

 

LEATHER SMITH

Oh? How?

 

BOOK BINDER

You could’ve described how your boot threatened the frog.

 

LEATHER SMITH

It didn’t threaten it.

 

BOOK BINDER

You could’ve described how the frog hopped.

 

LEATHER SMITH

It hopped like a frog.

 

BOOK BINDER

Yes, but how? HOW? It’s not like every frog in existence has only ever hopped one hop since the beginning of time—

 

LEATHER SMITH

It hopped twice, actually…

 

BOOK BINDER

That’s not the point. Did it hop quickly? Stealthily? Scaredly? Sinisterly? Mischievously? Woebegonedly? Depressedly—

 

LEATHER SMITH

It was just a frog—

 

BOOK BINDER

Was it wobbling like a one-legged, drunken lolly-coppered Cobble pot—

 

LEATHER SMITH

(Laughing)

What?!

 

BOOK BINDER

See!? It’s funny! Descriptive language ferreting out intent, enhancing the tiniest details of otherwise bland imagery—

 

LEATHER SMITH

Sorry, but it was the indignant look on your face, not your lolly-cobbled copper pot that made me laugh.

 

BOOK BINDER

Lolly-coppered Cobble pot.

 

LEATHER SMITH

What does that even mean?

 

BOOK BINDER

No idea. I made it up. The point is, it sounds descriptive and interesting.

 

LEATHER SMITH

It sounds daft, is how it sounds.

 

BOOK BINDER

Maybe the frog was daft.

 

LEATHER SMITH

The frog was a frog. It hopped like a frog. I came to work, where I work like a leather smith works. I told my story. Now you work, too.

 

BOOK BINDER

Must thou leav’st me so unsatisfied?

 

LEATHER SMITH

I’ll leave you toothless if you start that.

 

BOOK BINDER

(Starts to speak.)

 

LEATHER SMITH

—AND Jobless!

 

BOOK BINDER

(Sighs and subsides. Returns to workbench and sits. Picks up an awl and mallet and begins pounding holes into a strip of leather.)

 

(BOOK BINDER and LEATHER SMITH work in silence.)

 

BOOK BINDER

(After a while, glances surreptitiously at LEATHER SMITH. Reaches for the unbound sheaves of paper on his workbench and begins pounding holes into them instead. Then, once finished, starts switching neatly between sewing together the paper and sewing together the leather project.)

(Aside.)

This book is going to be full of stories one day. Stories more interesting than bland, hopping frogs. I’ll write them myself if I have to. But… I’d rather write someone else’s. There’s far more mystery that way…

 

LEATHER SMITH

(Looks over at BOOK BINDER, watching the deft balancing of tasks. Sighs quietly.)

(Aside)

What a waste…

Scene Shifts

Act I

Scene ii

 

(Lighting/Sound: A pool of light appears, revealing BOOK BINDER, surrounded by darkness. The location is vague. He holds the completed book.)

 

BOOK BINDER

My pay’s been docked again.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

You used the shop’s materials to make your books.

 

BOOK BINDER

It was just some string!

 

LEATHER MASTER’s VOICE

Gut. Expensive, specially treated gut.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

You used too much. He was bound to notice.

 

BOOK BINDER

Not funny. I’m not in the mood for puns.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

What pun?

 

VOICE 1

You’re hearing things.

 

VOICE 2

Just your imagination.

 

BOOK BINDER

You’re telling me that was accidental! Just when I think you’re finally starting to get clever!

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

I’m clever enough. You don’t see my pay docked.

 

BOOK BINDER

The book’s worth it.

 

VOICE 1

An empty book.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

Books don’t feed families.

 

BOOK BINDER

Books teach you—

 

VOICE 2

People teach you.

 

BOOK BINDER

—different ways. Better ways.

 

VOICE 1

My, aren’t we arrogant.

 

BOOK BINDER

I can read.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

I can afford to eat.

 

BOOK BINDER

I can write.

 

VOICE 2

Frivolous extravagance, pastime of the rich.

 

VOICE 1

You’re poor. Get your priorities straight.

 

BOOK BINDER

Books can teach you to earn gold.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

And while you’re reading, you starve.

 

BOOK BINDER

…I’ve survived well enough.

 

VOICE 1

On the charity of strangers.

 

VOICE 2

At the humor of eccentrics.

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

You’re lucky he hasn’t fired you yet.

 

VOICE 1

How many times is this?

 

VOICE 2

One dozen? Two?

 

BOOK BINDER

…The twenty-seventh. …Or is it twenty-eight?

 

LEATHER SMITH’s VOICE

How on Earth do you pay your rent?

 

BOOK BINDER

I…

 

VOICE 1

He doesn’t.

 

VOICE 2

He’s mooching.

 

BOOK BINDER

I perform services! I write—

 

VOICE 1

You amuse children with parlor tricks.

 

VOICE 2

No parlors in this town.

 

BOOK BINDER

I teach them to write!

 

VOICE 1

 

VOICE 2

 

BOOK BINDER

I could teach you to write!

 

(Silence)

(Lighting/Sound: Lights up, revealing LEATHER SMITH hidden in the darkness.)

 

LEATHER SMITH

What use have I, for writing?

(Turns away from BOOK BINDER and walks into the dark.)

 

Exit LEATHER SMITH

 

BOOK BINDER

(Clutches the book, gazing after LEATHER SMITH, stricken.)

Everyone needs writing. The power to record language, to preserve stories… It’s the greatest treasure we have…

 

(Lighting/Sound: Lights fade, leaving BOOK BINDER alone, illuminated in a constricting pool of light before snapping to black.)

 

Scene Shifts