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The Breathing Hole | Aglu “??

FRANKLIN: Welcome. TU-NGA-SU-GI... (You are welcome)
Ajjiaq returns the handshake in his fashion while, Panigayak, still uncertain, stands back. Franklin points to himself.   FRANKLIN: My name is John Franklin. I’m Commander of this Expedition. We consists of the HMS Erebus and Terror, and I am properly addressed as ‘Sir’. This is Officer James Holloway, second in command.   Holloway is not keen on shaking hands.

FRANKLIN: (pointing to Ajjiaq) You, your name uh...Ki-nau-vit.   AJJIAQ: Ajjiaq...(points to Panigayak)...Panigayak.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Ask if they have seen two bears pass here?   FRANKLIN: And what’s your business Aj-jiaq and Pa-na-ga-yak...(to Holloway) how do you say ‘what’s your business?’   HOLLOWAY: I don’t know their words.   AJJIAQ: (to Franklin) Ta-ku-vi-hi Mar-ruungnik Na-nuuk Qaangiutiruuq. (Did you see two bears pass?)   FRANKLIN: I wish Morshead would get here – he picked up some of their language working with Parry in ’25 when they lost the Fury.   Enter Crew #1 carrying a tray with a porcelain teapot, cup and saucer, and sugar. He will pour a steaming cup of tea for Franklin and Holloway. Crew #2 hauls in the bulky Daguerreotype.   HOLLOWAY: Ah, tea - ‘Tea is the cup of life.’   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq, points to the Erebus in the distance) Look at that huge boat.   AJJIAQ: (to Franklin) Ingna umiaaqjuaq angijuaaluk. Pigijahit? (That boat is very big. Is it your boat?)   FRANKLIN: I think that word umiaq means ‘boat’.   AJJIAQ: (to Panigayak) Maybe these men are the whalers my grandfather told stories about.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Ask him.   CARTER: They seem keen on our ship.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Let’s go to that boat!   AJJIAQ: (to Franklin) You... Arvagasuttiuviit? (Are you a whaler)   CREW #1: (to Franklin) Your tea, Sir.   FRANKLIN: Thank you (to Ajjiaq) Pardon?   AJJIAQ: (to Franklin) You...Arvagasuttiuviit? (Are you a whaler?)   FRANKLIN: (to Holloway) What’s he trying to say?   CREW #1: (to Franklin) Sugar, Sir.   HOLLOWAY: He’s saying ‘you’ - ‘you’ as in ‘you’.   FRANKLIN: (to Ajjiaq, points to his tea cup) Tea, gentlemen?   AJJIAQ: (to Franklin) You...(pointing to their boat) Arvagasutiunut? (Is that a whaling boat)?   FRANKLIN: (to Ajjiaq) Will you have a cup of tea?   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) They don’t understand.   HOLLOWAY: (to Franklin) They don’t understand, Sir.   CREW #1: I’ll get more cups and saucers.   Exit Crew #1.   AJJIAQ: (to Franklin, making the motions of a whale swimming with his hands and body) YOU.   FRANKLIN: Me...my hands...swimming. Dear Lord – your hands swimming?
CARTER: FISH.   HOLLOWAY: Fish, yes! I think he means fish, Sir – wonders if we want to fish?   FRANKLIN: No, Aj-jiaq, my work is not fishing – my work is discovery and observation for I am at heart a scientist.   Ajjiaq reaches out and points to Franklin’s Hanoverian Order of Knighthood that hangs as a collar chain.   AJJIAQ: (in Panigayak’s direction) This is shiny.   Holloway swats Ajjiaq’s hand away.

HOLLOWAY: Don’t touch!   Panigayak is inclined to take a swing at Holloway.   FRANKLIN: No need for that - enough!   AJJIAQ: (to Panigayak) Angajuk no no.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Don’t touch them.   FRANKLIN: (to Ajjiaq) This is the Hanoverian Order of Knighthood bestowed upon me in ‘33 -Carter, give these fellows some trinkets.   CARTER: Here fellas...   Carter takes a box from the trunk, flips it open and holds it out to the two hunters.   CARTER: ...help yourselves.
AJJIAQ: (to Carter) Hungaurat. (Beads)   Ajjiaq and Panigayk are helping themselves to the trinkets in the wooden box.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Take two of everything.   CARTER: (to Panigayak) Hey - only one each!   FRANKLIN: They are worthless trinkets, Carter.   AJJIAQ: (to Panigayak) Our wives will like these – they are bright like fish eggs.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Maybe they have whales in their boat.   FRANKLIN: U-mi-ak means boat, doesn’t it. (to Ajjiaq and Panigayk) Yes, that’s an umiak – the Erebus - a Hecla-class bomb vessel built by the Royal Navy
PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Let’s go to the boat and get whale meat.   Ajjiaq and Panigayak start to leave.   FRANKLIN: Yes that’s our u-mi-aq - 370 tonnes, armed with two mortars and ten - Aj-jiaq where are you - (to Holloway) Where are they going?   HOLLOWAY: (to the hunters) Excuse me, Sir.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) I’ll get our sled.   CARTER: Whoa there buddy - (stops Ajjiaq) don’t walk away when Sir John Franklin is addressing you?   PANIGAYAK: (spies the dead seal) A seal!

AJJIAQ: Seal!   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Nuka, this is fresh, very fresh.   The two hunters kneel beside the seal as Ajjiaq uses his small bone knife to expertly slit open the abdomen, cut out a choice part and hand it to Panigayak who eats it.   FRANKLIN: A bear brought that to us as a...well, a gift - don’t mention that in your observations, Holloway – readers will think we’d a bit too much to drink.
HOLLOWAY: You’d think they’d have the decency to cook it first.   Ajjiaq offers some of the tastiest bits of the seal to everyone.   WICKERS: No thank you.
AJJIAQ: (to Franklin) Tinguit Mamaqtupanaluit (The liver is very tasty.)   BEAN: Thank you no.   PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) How can he resist the tastiest part!   FRANKLIN: Perhaps later.   CARTER: I’ll pass.
PANIGAYAK: (to Ajjiaq) Only idiots refuse the tastiest part.   Panigayak uses a wound pin on the seal to prevent more bleeding.   HOLLOWAY: What - are they going to sew up the seal? Savages, Sir – right ungodly savages.

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The World Without
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EMILY: You have your work... Anne’s work. You have more than enough to create something between the two of you.   CHARLOTTE: We can’t move forward without you.   ANNE: If she doesn’t want to be a part of it there’s no point in forcing her.   EMILY: Do you... want to be a part of it? Want to publish your-   ANNE: Yes. I’ve always wanted this.

EMILY: You’d have a better chance if I’m nowhere near it.   CHARLOTTE: That’s not true.   EMILY: It is.   CHARLOTTE: We need your work.   EMILY: If you’re in such dire need of a third ask Branwell. He’s the one with the talent.   CHARLOTTE: Oh, Emily! How can you not see it? You have a gift. Do you know how many people spend their lives searching for what you have?   EMILY: What I write is... strange. It’s not suitable... or dignified. It in no way reflects how a woman should feel... or think... or write. I know that. No one will understand it. No one will want to-   CHARLOTTE: If you were a man do you think for a moment you would choose not to pursue-   EMILY: If I were a man I wouldn’t have to choose.

ANNE: Then just pretend you’re a man and be done with it.   EMILY: I can’t pretend to be something I’m not.

ANNE: Why not?

EMILY: Because it... it’s not-

ANNE: Because it’s not what?   CHARLOTTE: You can. You can.   She takes paper and a quill and writes.   CHARLOTTE: We could keep our initials... keep the first letters for each of our names. The rest can be whatever we like....   She holds the page up for them to see.   ANNE: Currer, Ellis, Aaron Bell.   CHARLOTTE: If they think we’re men they’ll focus on what we write... not who we are. We can send our work out without being afraid of anyone knowing. We can write what we like... how we like.   ANNE: Why Bell? Why can’t we use our last name?   CHARLOTTE: People know there’s only one son in our family.   ANNE: How many people know that?   CHARLOTTE: Enough.   ANNE: Can’t we submit anonymously?   CHARLOTTE: No. Our work could be stolen. And we would have no way to prove it was ours.   EMILY: Work with a name is respected far more than anything written anonymously.   ANNE looks at the page.   ANNE: Currer, Ellis, Aaron. Mine doesn’t sound nearly as intriguing as yours. Aaron... it’s so plain.   CHARLOTTE: What then?

ANNE: Adam, Abram, Andrew, Arthur, Alfred-   EMILY: Acton.

ANNE: Oh... Acton. Yes. Currer, Ellis, Acton Bell.   CHARLOTTE writes the names out again. She holds it up for them to see.   ANNE: So... no one would know it was us?

CHARLOTTE: No one would know it was us.
ANNE: What about Papa? We would have to tell him.   CHARLOTTE: Papa would go mad knowing we were trying to be published. He would get too invested. He would want to change everything we wrote.   EMILY: He would edit every poem until he was satisfied.   CHARLOTTE: Until he felt it was up to his standards.   EMILY: And if it weren’t a resounding success... he would never forgive us.   CHARLOTTE: No. We don’t tell him. We don’t tell Branwell. It stays between the three of us.   ANNE: Then... what’s the point?

EMILY: I won’t do it if we tell people. That’s the point.   CHARLOTTE: But if we don’t tell people? Then you’ll...   EMILY looks at the page with their proposed names on it.   EMILY: We shouldn’t have to disguise who we are.   CHARLOTTE: Oh, Emily... does it really matter? It would be a few published copies of a poetry collection. That’s it. That’s all it is.   Beat.   EMILY: I don’t know.
CHARLOTTE: Emily. Can’t you at least try to-
ANNE: Just say yes, Emily! For goodness’ sake!   EMILY looks at the paper with their names on it. Then looks at her sisters.   INTERLUDE

CHARLOTTE, EMILY and ANNE grab a small stack of blank pages and a quill. They sit at the table. They write. As they do, they hand each other their pages. They read one another’s work. They make notes on the pages. They hand the pages back to the author. They sit and write.

Again, they hand each other their pages. They read one another’s work. Makes notes. Hand the pages back to each other. Sit. Write.

Again, they hand each other their pages. They read one another’s work. Makes notes. They start to form a pile in the middle of the table.

They write. Review. Stack. The stack of paper grows. These are the pages of their poetry collection. CHARLOTTE gently picks up the pages. Leaves the room.

EMILY and ANNE grab another small stack of blank pages. Again they start to write. They share their work with each other. They each begin a stack of their own.

CHARLOTTE enters with a small book in hand – a printed copy of their poetry collection. EMILY and ANNE gather beside CHARLOTTE. They look at it together. Smile. Place it on their bookshelf. Get back to work.

CHARLOTTE grabs another small stack of blank pages. They write. They share their work with each other.

The stack of paper grows. These are the pages of their novels.

CHARLOTTE collects the pages from EMILY and ANNE. Together they tie the piles with twine. Fold an envelope out of a large sheet of paper. Seal it shut. CHARLOTTE takes the envelope and leaves.

EMILY removes books from the shelf. Leaves the room. ANNE tidies. EMILY enters in a housedress. ANNE looks at EMILY. Hands her a book. Leaves the room.

EMILY goes to the windowsill. Sits. Opens the book. And reads.

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Speed Dating for Sperm Donors

SCENE 6 total world domination   A brisk spring day. Helen and Paige stand outside near the arrivals gate at the airport. They blow into their hands and stamp their feet. The whoosh of airplanes can be heard.   HELEN: Maybe we should've made a sign...   PAIGE: Why is it we must meet him at the airport?
HELEN: He’s on a tight schedule, I guess. He gave very specific instructions. I wasn’t about to question them.
PAIGE: Is he coming home with us, or—
HELEN: I’m not sure, there he is.
A man in a Russian fur hat enters.
PHYSICIST: You are on time, this is most excellent.
HELEN: Thank you so much for agreeing to meet us.
PAIGE: Can we, perhaps, go and sit down together—   PHYSICIST: No, this location is serviceable.
HELEN: Okay, well why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
PHYSICIST: Here, I have photograph. Myself as little baby. You may keep.
Helen and Paige lean over the picture.
HELEN: Awww. Verycute.
PAIGE: This must be your Maman holding you?
PHYSICIST: No. This is wet nurse in Mother Russia Young Physicist Training Facility.   HELEN: I see. Yes, you mentioned you were a physicist in your message. Maybe you could tell us about your work.
PHYSICIST: Black Hole Physics, yes. I make superconductor simulations embedded in flat space. I propose new type of ultra-light particle forming halos supported by the quantum uncertainty principle.
HELEN: That sounds. Wow. (elbows her) Paige?
PAIGE: Impressive. Very impressive.
PHYSICIST: Quite standard, actually, compared to former research. But we dispense now with pleasantries. I go to produce required material. You will kindly have transcripts ready for my return.
HELEN: Transcripts?
PHYSICIST: You both completed university training, yes? My requirement for distribution of genetic material is that you score in top 95 percentile. Equivalent of your North American A+.
I am not wanting to mix my genetics with inferior specimens. Kindly produce documents to prove your intelligence level.
HELEN: We don’t have any documents with us.
PHYSICIST: Most inconvenient. My flight departs at 2 pm. Ah. (he whips out a note pad and sketches). I now pose you theorem of moderate difficulty. You have solution by the time I have sample... no problem.
(he hands the theorem over to them and leaves)
HELEN: He didn’t say anything about a test!
PAIGE: What does that mean “inferior specimens”? Is he going, behind a pillar?
HELEN: Could it be a language problem?
PAIGE: (craning her neck) I think it’s a bigger problem, he’s a crackpot!
HELEN: Very smart people, I have noticed, are often quite odd. Let’s just ask him some more questions. Meantime here, you better do this. (slides paper over to Paige)
PAIGE: No, you.
HELEN: I’m not touching it. You’re math girl.
PAIGE: Normal math, not black hole physics!
HELEN: Try. Write something!
They throw it back and forth. He returns and Paige quickly writes down an answer.
He returns.
HELEN: We just wanted to ask you. Why do you want to be a donor?
PHYSICIST: It is most efficient. Statistically speaking I would never have time to personally impregnate all of the women who now have borne me children.
PAIGE: All of the women? How many are there?
PHYSICIST: Two hundred and thirty-nine this year.
HELEN: This year alone?
PHYSICIST: Total number of known progeny since I begin experiment is two thousand seven hundred and twenty-one. (he reaches inside his lapel, they both take a step back) But we waste time. Sample is getting cold.
PAIGE: Why do you do this?
PHYSICIST: Covert distribution of superior genetic foot print. End result: total world domination. But don’t worry about that. Very cute babies. Look at photograph.
PAIGE: I don’t think we can be a part of your experiment.
PHYSICIST: (He is examining the theorem on the notepad.) Unfortunately, you are correct. Three? The answer you propose to theorem is three.
PHYSICIST: (a little bow) It is my disappointing duty to inform you that you are not viable subjects. I now proceed to Cincinnati to next potential vessel. Good day.
A little bow and he makes an abrupt departure.
HELEN: Nice to meet you too.
Lights fade.

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Sound of the Beast


Have you ever been slow cruised?
If you have, you know it.
If you haven’t, it’s impossible to explain It’s like... like this.   The cops are always out there, making themselves know Nothing sinister, just visibility
So when it happens...   It’s a thing you know for sure happened when it was happening, but when you try to say what happened, there’s no happening there to describe. This incident, which very definitely is something, becomes nothing. It is like a sentence without a verb.
They ... blehhhh’d me. I’m sorry can you spell that?
No, I can’t. And I can’t draw a picture of it either, or point to it on a doll. But this thing happened ... happens. Frequently. It is the frequency that gets under your skin. The perpetualness.   Each time they pass they are saying something. Do you see me?
I see you.
And I know what you’re about to do. Am I gonna stop you today? Maybe .... Nah. Today I’ll keep driving. But I could have stopped. I could have.   It’s a very grown up game of “I’m not touching you.” And you don’t want to get touched.   So when you see them, you suddenly think, “act like nothing’s going on” which is how you were acting before you saw them, because nothing, genuinely, is going on. But suddenly you can’t remember what that looked like, so you are racking your brain trying to remember how fast you were walking before you saw them, and then you wonder, did I just speed up, or slow down, and does that look suspicious, and is there a more suspicious looking person nearby I could walk past in order to become less threatening on the curve, and fair enough, I look like the type, right? Fair enough. Cuz why didn’t I wear a bowtie to the laundromat today? And all the while they are slowly cruising by,   Do you know what I mean?
Have you ever been slow cruised? If you have, you know it. If you haven’t... You say ‘just take it cuz it all serves a purpose’
And ‘if you never did nothing, why you getting nervous?’ Seems knee jerk on the surface but it goes deeper:
Sound of the beast is sound of the reaper.
Or the sleeper or the choke
It’s a taser for a toke
Grab the phone, then remember them three numbers is a joke And you’re on your own when you hear that note
cuz the system’s broke....
....   Have you ever been slow-cruised?...

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An Indigenous Matriarch Story
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