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The Play That Goes Write
Chew on this, thespians...
I am an aesthete. I am so cultured that I am actually an aesthetician. I am a cultural maven without bound, freewheeling my way up and down the ladders of class and throwing myself across the moats of race in order to understand the art that makes the incredible human race tick. As I consume all of culture, I think to myself… uh, yeah, this was basically made for me…
On Tuesday, I attended a preview showing of Robert Icke’s reimagined Oresteia at Park Avenue Armory. The play is the oldest of the Greek plays, but Icke updated it by rewriting it in modern English, adding new, almost cinematic, framing devices, and dressing everyone in sexy cool suits.
In order to prove that I am in fact an aesthete of the highest order, I shall follow Icke’s lead and update an ancient Greek work for the modern era. This sort of creativity flows naturally to my fingers and the top of my brain.
Dear readers, I present to you… The Tortoise and the Hare (modern re-imagining)
Act I Scene I
We see the end of the story first. It’s because you think you already know how the tortoise and the hare story ends. Little do you, the unsuspecting audience, know that there is something more than that which meets the eye here…
News Boy: Extry, extry!! Read all about it! Tortoise defeats hare in stunning upset! There was an upset, and gee oh boy was it stunning! Tortoise defeats hare!
Bystander 1: Why would I buy your newspaper, foolish boy? You’ve already told me the news I wished to hear…
News Boy: We make fools of ourself and time makes fools of us all… as the clock ticks inexorably on, (we hear a ticking sound for the entire play, by the way. It’s really loud — like, really loud and makes the dialogue almost inaudible) we age, we die, we are rebirthed. The cycle continues on and on, the horse cart of reality trundling down the increasingly bumpy road of galactic time until the universe finally gives one final gasp and whinny and settles down, its atoms decaying into nothingness, the carrot of existence no longer as tempting as it once was. No matter how much we may resist this knowledge, it’s somewhat comforting to know that things will continue until they don’t and that’s just what it all is, innit….
Bystander 1: Interesting… and my name is Paul, by the way, not Bystander 1. I have a name, and it’s Paul.
News Boy: I see.
Bystander 1: It’s honestly disrespectful to call me Bystander 1, you know? It’s like… I’m actually a big character. I have a lot of the dialogue in mot of the scenes of the play. I’m the hare’s coach, or at least I was, until he fired me. I’m Paul!! Stop calling me Bystander 1.
News Boy: My name is News Boy. I was named after a mispronounciation — in the hospital, my mother told them my name should be Nudes Boy, but she has a rare lisp and cannot pronounce the letter D.
Bystander 1: What’s her name?
News Boy: Dierdre.
Bystander 1: Ironic!
News Boy: Do you think that was funny? Do you think there should have been another reversal of the joke — like the audience might have been expecting a name with a lot of Ds in it, and so I should have said like “Wimweena” or something like that? Or maybe it would have been funnier to say a name — like Dolores — that DOES have a D in it, but have it be like “Wolores” or something so it’s clear that she can’t pronounce the D.
Bystander 1: No, I think it was actually funny because it’s sort of hard to think of a name with multiple Ds in it anyway, so it was funny because you were able to pull one out. But that is her name, like in the play, right?
News Boy: Yeah. She’s actually in Act I Scene II. She says something kind of crazy haha 😛
Bystander 1: What does she say?
Act I Scene II
Dierdre: Big butts!! An — an — an poopy! An lots of other stuff. Hello! My name is weirwe… And you, sir, must be the titular hare! Are you reawy for your big race against Mr. Mouse?
On the screen (there is a screen) we see the words “One month before the first scene.”
Onto the stage walks the hare. He’s dressed in tight-fitting running clothing head to toe. He’s absolutely shredded and ripped. His muscles bulge with various enhancements, both chemical and surgical. He is played by Kumail Nanjiani.
Hare: Hey, fucko. What’s your name, sweetheart? I fucking suck! You fucking hate me!!!
Dierdre: I don’t hate you, sir. You’re the most famous racer in the entire world.
Hare: Hey, why don’t you shut the fuck up and make yourself useful and get me some fucking steroids that have a tranquilizing side effect?
Bystander 1: Hey, are you sure you want to take those steroids? They might have a side effect…
Hare: Who the fuck are you? Paul or something? Get the fuck out!! Ya fired!!!!!
Bystander 1: I’m Paul. I am Paul. That’s my name.
Hare: Hey, not anymore fucko. It’s in your contract. From now on, you’re just a bystander to my life, and your name is being legally changed to match that. And let Paul be stricken from the record once and for all!!
Bystander 1: What? You—you can’t do this!!
Hare: I am the most powerful racer in a world where animals use races as a proxy for war. I am a living embodiment of imperialism and the excess of declining empire. And something I’ve done, by making my body into this grotesque perversion of the the rabbit form, is serve as an apt metaphor for how men sublimate their struggles with masculinity into aggression and dominance over other genders. And so yeah—I’m a triple threat. I’m a metaphor for gender, class, and national identity. What the fuck are you? Just some fucking guy?
Bystander 1: I’m Paul.
Hare: Get the hell out of here, you three-eyed chimpanzee. And don’t let me see your fucking face ever again, especially not as the tortoise’s coach as an act of revenge, you know?
Dierdre: The tortoise? But sir, your species has so thoroughly dominated the reptile order that they would never dare to challenge you… if they challenged you it would be a really interesting take on revolutionary potential amongst oppressed people…
Hare: You’re right. Not sure why I said “tortoise.” What happened to your lisp?
Dierdre: Buh? Me no know!!! I’m cured! It’s magic!!!
Bystander 1: One day, I will meet your son…
Intermission (3 hours)
Act II Scene I
We see a huge protest filled with all kinds of reptiles. From tortoises to crocodiles to skinks to snakes, they’ve all showed up. They’re protesting bunny domination.
Tortoise: Rise up! Rise up against our rodent masters! For too long have they kept us in tolerable but sort of ugly living conditions, boring but safe jobs, and bigger and bigger cars!
Bystander 1: Excuse me! Excuse me sir! I actually know the Hare’s weakness! If you challenge him to a race, I can help you as an act of revenge!
Tortoise: Who the hell are you? Why do you have a towel like coaches have around your neck and a water bottle?
Bystander 1: I am your new coach. Get ready for the race of your life.
Basilisk Lizard: Hey, I’m actually pretty fast. I think I could probably run faster than the hare. I can run across water, you know. It’s kind of cool. You should look it up. Those big lizards in the Avatar finale were lowkey based on me haha.
Bystander 1: Avatar like the bl-
Basilisk Lizard: No, not the fucking blue people. You know what I meant, I meant the kid’s cartoon show. I know it’s super popular and I know you know what I’m talking about. I know the fans are really really annoying these days but it’s honestly just a really cool and creative show and I don’t think you should dismiss it out of hand like I can see you doing with your face. They put a lot of thought into it and the action is actually really cool.
Tortoise: I’ll do it!
Act II Scene II
News Boy: Extry extry! Read all about it! Um — I forget. Sorry, what was the news. Um…
Bystander 1: Hey, lemme get one of those. I want to know what the news you forgot was.
He opens the newspaper and it’s projected behind him. The headline is “Man Says Hi” but then a much smaller headline says “Tortoise Challenges Hare”.
Bystander 1: Nice! We made it into the paper of record!
News Boy: Yep! Now I’m going to burn the rest of the copies. Oh, and the story was written by one of the newest writers in the newsroom, check it out!
Bystander 1: Buh?
The projection zooms in on the headline and the byline says “By Aesop”
Bystander 1: Like the soap company?
Intermission for 4-5 hours.
Act III Scene I
The tortoise and the hare are at the starting line! The ref holds a gun in the air. He tries to fire.
Ref: Hold up, it’s not working.
Hare: I’m gonna beat your fucking ass, you tortoise.
Tortoise: Solidarity forever, chump! I am a working class champion with a heart of gold and hands of calluses. I have the exact right amount of racism to be cute without being offensive. Suck my dick!
Hare: I’m going to take these new steroid tranquilizers and get super swole. I don’t even care about no side effects or nothin’.
He pops the pill.
Tortoise: I don’t care about your fancy tricks… I know that I will win because of my spirit.
Hare: Ha—spirit? Do not talk to me about spirit, boy. You are nothing. You will be crushed under the yoke of egg… Don’t you understand? Your people crave domination. We are animals, after all. Why not indulge the brutal side of ourselves? There is no world in where there is no difference, and in this world of difference why should we not try to make our lives the best for ourselves and our people? You see—
The ref’s gun goes off, instantly killing the hare.
Ref: Oh shit. Oh — oh fuck. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh fuuuuck. Oh shit oh fuck oh shit.
Tortoise: Oh fuck fuck oh fuck. What do - oh fuuuck. I thought maybe he’d fall asleep because
Ref: Right, because of the pill. But—
Tortoise: No. Right. Yeah. Oh fuck, damn. What do we do?
Ref: No clue. I guess you win haha?
Tortoise: Feels hollow but I guess I’ll take it.
The gun is of the “Chekov” brand.
Tortoise: Oh, that’s clever. But we didn’t see it before this scene, so it’s not really a Chekov gun thing. Maybe like on a micro level, like in the scene…
Ref: Yeah, I think it works on a micro level.
Let’s fucking go. Let’s go. Let’s get Kumail in every newsletter.