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We hear a phone ringing as the Woman enters.

I need your help! I screwed up.

Who are you?



Who are they?

They’re, they’re my friends.

Well, I’ve never met them before.

They usually disappear when you show up . . .

This isn’t good. I’m getting worse.

Is she your mom?



I’m her!

But I’m not her.

(taken aback) You’re me.

But I’m not you. Not yet. Thank god.

What the hell is this?

The Woman starts tearing down the cartoon penises.


The Girl steps in to gather up the drawings.

(to Girl) I did a bad thing.

What did you do?

It’s none of your business!
(to the Girl) He’s going to call any minute.


(to Girl) It’s my fault—

Why is she lying?

What do I do?

What’s the secret?


What did you do?

Shut the fuck up!

(overlapping) Whoa. That is— I can’t believe you just said that . . . that is so . . . why would you say that?

(to Girl) I texted him.

“Tested him?”

No, “texted.” I texted . . .


It’s like leaving an e-mail—


Forget it. I “paged” him, okay? I told him that we should meet.

Oooh . . .

It’s not like that.

The Woman’s phone vibrates.

Oh my god, what is that?

She pulls it out of her back pocket.

What is that?

(to Girl) It’s him.

It’s a flashlight!

Answer it!

What . . . ?

Answer it!

I don’t want to.

The Synchro Swimmers grab at the phone, as the Woman attempts to evade them. “What is it?” “A computer?” “How do you answer it?” “It’s so tiny and flat? Somehow, in the scuffle, the phone is answered.


They all go dead quiet and listen to TY’s voice coming through the phone.

Princess? It’s Ty. You there?

Yes. Say yes!

Yes. Hi.

What you up to?

Uh, nothing. Just here with some, friends, or, (fading out) um . . .


Sorry, this feels a little weird.

No kidding.

It’s been a long time.

You haven't changed.

I still look thirteen?

Nah . . . You’re still pretty.

The Synchro Swimmers shriek and giggle. A few follow the Woman offstage.

close this panel

So what are you going to do?

The same thing as I did before. Whiskey, cigarettes, secret ingredient—

Not answering my phone calls.

You deleted my number, remember?

I lied. Still got it.

I mean up until today I didn’t really think you’d be calling me anyways.

Does James know?


How is that even possible? He was in the same grade as us.

She. Isaac. And . . . I don’t know. Janey’s forgetful. I lied.

You lied about your birthday?

She thinks it’s later in the year. I don’t really make a habit of sharing the information.

Damn, you really like to go it alone.

I can take care of myself. You should try it sometime.

Yeah yeah whatever, Wasp. Don’t pretend like you didn’t miss me a little bit.

Wasp, ignoring him.

I did it before. I’ll do it again. What more is there to know?

It’s not the same. When they take you. It’s not the same thing. For one, they’ll expect you to be at the Altar.

I’m gonna do it in the forest.

They’ll go looking for you. The Reverend will definitely be on the prowl.

Right, lest we forget your father-in-law the raccoon killer.

Not just raccoons.

I’ll take my chances. I’ll hide. I’m good at hiding.

Isaac gives them a look.

I am!

Okay, so what if you can’t do it?

If I have hands and a bottle of Coke, I can do it.

Well what if they cut your hands off?

What, the angels are going to come down, rape me and then cut my hands off? Pull my tongue out while they’re at it so I can’t scream?

I’m just saying—what if you get incapacitated and then you can’t help yourself.

Wasp is silent.

You have to have a backup plan. You have to have . . . support. You know the story about the girl who didn’t go to The Altar. Well?

Ah yes, the classic tale of the dumb bitch who didn’t do the ceremonial bath, who didn’t pluck her pubes for God, who didn’t do shit!

Yeah. Sound familiar?

Wasp, intoning.

The girl hid in the birch tree forest, and from the bright blue sky, the heavenly host flew down and through her like golden bullets of rape. Buzz buzz buzz. And being raped hurt so much that she had a change of heart! Maybe the cult was right all along! She staggered back into town and tried to get help at the Altar. She asked the Reverend for medical attention and he said, “You might be a child of God, but you chose to be a dumb whore! Pay for your sin!”

He really has a way with words.

So she waited in the parking lot for him to change his mind. She had no other options. And while she waited, the angel baby ate her from the inside out. No help came, so she bled out in the parking lot. And the cult came out as she was dying, collected the baby and then went back inside. And she was dead. The end.
A classic tale of the mistakes women make when they’re trying to maintain their bodily autonomy.

Well what if she’d had a friend.

I’m sure she had lots of friends, Isaac.

Well what if she had a friend to do an abortion for her.

That friend would be in just as much danger as her.

Well what if the friend had special privileges because he was banging the Reverend’s daughter.

I don’t think that’s a privilege, Isaac.

I-I want to see it happen. I want to be there.

So go ask Caroline. I’m sure she’d be more than happy to have you in the viewing room at the Altar. You’d probably get a reserved seat for “boyfriend of the sacrificial not-so-virgin.”

close this panel

Scene One

Samsara Station. In the Ether. 1960. Sounds of a train leaving a station.

RUKMINI: (Off.) Wait! Wait for me.

(Wrapped in a white sari and clutching a handbag, an elderly woman, Rukmini, hobbles onto the platform and gazes anxiously after the receding train.)

RUKMINI: Oh no. It's gone. I missed it. How did I miss my train?


(Checks her watch.)

It's only ten past. Why did it come early? I've got my ticket -- they're expecting me. It wouldn't go without me, would it? No, calm yourself. That train is on its way to somewhere else.

That wasn't my train.

(She walks up the platform and sits on the bench, clamps her old-fashioned suitcase between her knees and dabs her nose with a handkerchief.)

RUKMINI: I hate goodbyes. I couldn't bear saying goodbye. Not again. That's what it seems my life has been -- a series of good-byes. You say hello, then you say good-bye and you never know the distance between those two poles. Of course, sometimes the poles meet when hello and goodbye happen simultaneously... like when a mother dies in childbirth. It's so fleeting an event that no child could possibly remember the love of a mother who died bringing her into the world.

(Looks at her watch.)

Still fifty minutes left. I came early. Those old steps up there are pretty steep and it's hard to cross that slippery bridge all the way across to this platform, especially in my condition. I've seen plenty fall before they got here... and this bench? This bench is the best spot to get on board and into the right berth. Trains stop for such a short time and not all the doors are open. Some passengers wait back there and have to scramble up here when they realize they've been holding themselves back in futile all this time. They run up here out of breath, some don't make it and they have to get on wherever they can... and walk all the way through every berth and you never know where you'll end up... if you know what I mean? Takes all types you know?

(Opens her handbag. Lays out a series of gold items on bench.)

This is Mummy's gold set. Mummy wore these rubies at her throat when she married Daddy and I wore them when I got married.

My astrologer said that I will have ten great grandchildren in all.

I will leave these chains to them and maybe these bangles to remember me by.





(Footsteps are heard. Rukmini gathers the jewellery and stuffs it back into her handbag.)

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A fairly empty space except for a large bar and two bar stools.

A WOMAN and A MAN come out from behind the curtain, stand downstage centre and address the audience. She is clearly very nervous. He is very encouraging of her.

W: (To the audience.) Hello. Thank you for coming out. This is great.

M: Totally great.

W: What a wonderful thing to have you all here.

M: (To the WOMAN.) Are you all set?

W: (To MAN.)Yes. (To the audience.) Yes.

M: She's going to tell us a joke.

W: I am. I'm going to preface this by saying I don't tell jokes very often.

M: That doesn't matter. It will be great.

W: Okay.

So. (She rushes.) A man walks into a bar and he goes to sit down and he sees this waitress and then the waitress says to him--

The MAN gently interrupts her.

M: Sorry. You're speaking very fast.

W: Sorry. I am? Sorry.

M: And, why don't you... expand it. Why don't you tell us... what kind of bar?


W: Oh. Um. Does that matter?

M: You might as well. You've got the floor. We're listening. People like details.

W: Okay. It's a... normal. It's a bar.

M: ...Is it classy? Is it expensive?

W: Oh sorry. It's casual, but no... it's not expensive.

M: Is it trashy? Is it a dive bar?

W: It's not a dive bar. And it's not 'trashy'. 'Trashy' isn't a very nice word, is it? It's a... it's a bar. It's a neighbourhood bar.

M: Okay. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. You're doing great.

W: Oh. Thanks.

Okay. Sorry everyone. Rewind.

So a man walks into a bar.

M: A man.

W: (To the MAN.) Should I say something about the man?

M: Sure. What's the man like?

W: ... Average.

(Excitedly, to the audience.) So this average man walks into a bar--

M: Well, what does that mean? What makes a man 'average'?

W: Um... nothing is particularly spectacular about him? If you saw him on the street, you'd assume he's just like every other man?

M: See, that sounds negative.

W: Oh. Oh no. I didn't mean it to be negative. I wanted him to be accessible. 'Average' isn't a bad thing.

M: Okay. I see what you're doing. Maybe 'normal' instead of 'average.'

W: Good point.

She has lost the plot. There are a few seconds of silence. She remembers the audience is there.

(To the audience.) Sorry, I don't tell jokes very often. I don't know if that's obvious.

M: You're doing a great job.

W: (To him.) Thanks. (To the audience.) I promise the whole thing won't be like this.

M: You're warming up.

W: I'm warming up.

Okay. Let me start from the beginning.

She shakes it off. He encourages her.

M: You've got this.

W: I got this.

So a man walks into a bar.

She positions him beside the bar.

She is enthusiastic.

Just a normal guy. And it's a very busy night and there's people everywhere and--

M: He's by himself?

W: Yes, he's by himself.

(She gestures to herself.) And he sees a waitress.(To the man, and very pleased with herself.) And before you ask what the waitress is like, she's... cute and--

M: How cute?

W: I don't know. She's not hot, but she's cute.

M: Okay.

W: So a man walks into a bar, and it's busy, and the waitress comes up to him, and says--

She quickly walks past him and loops behind the bar.

close this panel
Do This In Memory of Me

GENEVIEVE: Dear Lord: thanks for all the help! Sorry. But come on!

I don’t want to tell you what to do, but could you maybe appear to Father Paul in a vision? Or leave him a note? Or . . . I’m sure you have some better ideas.

Or maybe I could perform a miracle. Just a small one, nothing too flashy. Just something that would show everyone, but particularly Father Paul that you’re on my side about this. Maybe levitation?

I’ll let you decide. Thy will be done, amen.

A young man appears, looking to be about 14 or so, dressed in something that suggests “4th Century Rome.” A halo would be great. He is ST. PANCRAS OF ROME.

ST. PANCRAS: Genevieve!

GENEVIEVE thinks God Himself has answered her.

GENEVIEVE: . . . Lord?

ST. PANCRAS: Genevieve!

GENEVIEVE: You’re here! Of course, you’re everywhere, but . . . I’m going to get Father Paul. Don’t go anywhere.

She is about to leave when ST. PANCRAS speaks again, somewhat impatiently.

ST. PANCRAS: Behind you!

She turns around and is startled to see him.


ST. PANCRAS: Oh yourself.

GENEVIEVE: Who are you?

ST. PANCRAS: Ha ha, very funny.

GENEVIEVE: No, who are you?

ST. PANCRAS: Isn’t it obvious?


ST. PANCRAS: You don’t recognize me from a stained glass window or maybe a prayer card . . . ?


ST. PANCRAS: I am Pancras of Rome.


ST. PANCRAS: Pancras of Rome. Saint Pancras of Rome? The patron saint of children?

GENEVIEVE: I thought Saint Nicholas was the patron saint of children.

ST. PANCRAS: There are enough children in the world to have more than one patron. But since you asked, I also look after jobs, health, cramps, false witnesses, headaches and perjury.

GENEVIEVE: That’s a lot of things.

ST. PANCRAS: Thank you.

GENEVIEVE: Are you a virgin martyr?

ST. PANCRAS: We just say “martyr”.

GENEVIEVE: So you’re not—

ST. PANCRAS: Well aren’t you nosy? In fact, I am. But with men it’s not necessary to specify. It’s just implied. So how can I help you?

GENEVIEVE: I’m not sure.

ST. PANCRAS: Well you called for intercession, didn’t you? I’m here to intercede.

GENEVIEVE: With Father Paul?

ST. PANCRAS: With God.


ST. PANCRAS: Really.

GENEVIEVE: Can’t I just ask Him directly?

ST. PANCRAS: Sometimes you need someone to put in a good word for you. Besides, maybe I can even help you myself.



GENEVIEVE: It’s just that . . .

ST. PANCRAS: Yes, speak up.

GENEVIEVE: I want to be an altar server.


GENEVIEVE: Girls aren’t allowed.

ST. PANCRAS: Yes. And?

GENEVIEVE: And I want to change the rule.

ST. PANCRAS: Oh. That’s it?

GENEVIEVE: What do you mean that’s it?

ST. PANCRAS: Well, that’s easy.


ST. PANCRAS: You can’t.


GENEVIEVE: But you didn’t even try!

ST. PANCRAS: I’m going to give you a valuable piece of advice: Pick your battles.

GENEVIEVE: Just give up? What kind of advice is that?

ST. PANCRAS: Do you know how I was martyred?

GENEVIEVE: I’ve never even heard of you.

ST. PANCRAS: And it’s so kind of you to keep reminding me. I was beheaded.

He puts his hands on his head as if he were about to remove it.

Want to see?


ST. PANCRAS: Fine. But it was because I refused to give up my faith. You know, my head, my actual head is underneath a basilica that’s named after me.


ST. PANCRAS: Yes, really! You’re not even a little impressed? I’m sure you have several basilicas named after you!

GENEVIEVE: It’s not that—

ST. PANCRAS: I am very popular in Europe.

GENEVIEVE: Maybe I should talk to someone else.

ST. PANCRAS: You don’t get to choose! And you don’t get to change things to suit yourself.

GENEVIEVE: It’s a silly rule.

ST. PANCRAS: But it’s still a rule.

GENEVIEVE: I want to ring the bells. And carry the wine.

ST. PANCRAS: Can’t you just—

GENEVIEVE: Don’t say Ladies’ Auxiliary.

ST. PANCRAS: Become a nun?

GENEVIEVE: I’m twelve.

ST. PANCRAS: I’m fourteen. And look where I am.

GENEVIEVE: I don’t think you’re supposed to rub it in people’s faces. And it doesn’t have to be a change. Just an exception.

ST. PANCRAS: You think you’re worthy of an exception?

GENEVIEVE: . . . Yes.

ST. PANCRAS: Really.


ST. PANCRAS: Fine. I’ll ask for an exception. But I can’t guarantee what the answer will be.

GENEVIEVE: Thank you!

ST. PANCRAS: Exceptions are very rare.

GENEVIEVE: When will you find out?

ST. PANCRAS: I’ll let you know when I hear.

GENEVIEVE: Should I wait here?

ST. PANCRAS: You don’t have to wait here. I can find you anywhere.


ST. PANCRAS: Trust me.

GENEVIEVE: I’ll wait here.

ST. PANCRAS: Go home to your father and brothers. And wait for a sign.

GENEVIEVE: How will I know when—

ST. PANCRAS: It’ll be a big one.


ST. PANCRAS: Anything else?

GENEVIEVE: Do you know anything about missing people?

close this panel
Secret Life of a Mother

HANNAH: I’d been trying to finish an episode of a TV show I was writing before the baby came, so I’d gone to bed at 2AM.

When I woke up around 4 AM, the pain felt a lot like what I’d been feeling the last few day — pressure on my cervix. So I went into the spare room and watched Netflix. I was half-way through an episode of The Good Wife when the pain got bad, and I . . .

Kept watching the episode! As in what’s going to happen with Alicia and her husband who fucks hookers but is nice to her now and will she win in court this week? And then at some point the pain was so bad I couldn’t lie still, and I finally clued in that I was nine months pregnant, five days past my due date. I’ve heard of this happening before: a woman I know googled “40 weeks pregnant water coming out of vagina.”

So the first thing I did was . . .

I wrote an email to my bosses, the showrunners, so that I could send them the episode of TV I was working on. Then I opened the episode doc, and I edited it for a while uh . . . yeah, while I was having contractions.



Then I woke up Christian.

Christian’s response was “I’m too tired for it to be happening.”

Which was him being funny.

But he did go back to sleep and I did lie beside him in pretty bad pain for a while being polite about it.

Ahead of my labour, Christian and Amy my doula asked me what I was scared of. I wasn’t scared of labour pain being bad (because I’d a car accident that knocked out six of my front teeth and then I spent a couple of years having surgeries to reconstruct them and also I was hit by a car, and that hurt) but I was afraid of what the pain would make me do. I was scared of what was at the bottom of my psyche that I might let go of when the pain was bad, that it would shortcut me to my true self, and I’d find out I was actually a . . . bad person.

And for the first twelve hours, the pain was fine, or, not fine, but . . . I was in my bathtub and my water broke and the amniotic fluid moved with so much velocity that I could see it pumping out of me through the bathwater. And now it was like someone was punching down onto my cervix, and it was stinging as though things in there had started to rip, and that’s when I started wanting to push.

In the cab on the way to the hospital, I could tell that the cab driver was worried about his seats, so I tried to hold in my amniotic fluid. When we got out of the cab I was heaving and I could see people looking at me the way you look at a person who’s in the middle of a physical crisis.

In reception, the nurses were freaked out when they saw me. I was saying: “I want to push!” So they started asking emergency questions, like my blood type, and “do you think you’re going to deliver in this elevator?”

Upstairs, on the maternity ward, the nurse examined me, and . . .

MAEV playing HANNAH plunges her arm into the fish tank. Onto her hand is projected a video of Esmé as a baby.

. . . no.
I’m trying to uh
They’re talking and I’m uh trying to
Cooperate and
The nurse’s saying the baby’s way down my birth canal putting pressure on my cervix and that’s why I want to push so badly
And Christian’s looking at them and nodding
And someone somewhere’s screaming . . . ?
But they’re saying
I’m only 3 centimeters dilated and “good job” on those 3 centimeters but I have to be 10 centimeters before I start to push so at least another four or five hours and maybe more if I keep pushing down because . . . I’m going to rip the shit out of my cervix
And Christian says “but it’s been twelve hours” . . .
And no, they say, I can’t push.
And Christian’s nodding yeah.

And then I start barfing
And there are no contractions
What the fuck is fucking “contractions” it’s just one long fucking contraction!
And the whole time
The only thing I want is to do is push
And all that went on for the next four or five hours!
And for those hours, the nurses and Christian and my doula say to me every few seconds “don’t push.”

Maybe MAEV steps out of her role as HANNAH and goes up to the audience and says:

MAEV: Hey so we get a sense of this can you four people say “don’t push” for five hours. Just kidding I’m just kidding. 

MAEV goes back to playing HANNAH.

HANNAH: And here’s where I learn what’s at the bottom of my psyche.

close this panel
The Empire

The Empire

A Trilogy of Modern Epics
by Susanna Fournier
illustrated by Sam Hudecki
More Info

Days pass and Tereza and The Wife spend every morning running, training, and playing with the dogs.

Thomas sits in many more chairs and begins to learn the alphabet. The Philosopher writes letters and helps Thomas with his studies. From their window, the two men sometimes catch the women running laps around the house.

One afternoon The Philosopher calls Tereza in for the progress report. Thomas is repeating his letters out loud in the corner.

PHILOSOPHER: But she can’t always be running.

TEREZA: How long have the dogs been left loose like that in the barn?



TEREZA: Unattended. It’s good for her to run, dispels the nervous energy.


PHILOSOPHER: But she can’t spend the rest of her life running with a bunch of wild dogs because she’s nervous.

TEREZA: Who would know how long they’ve been like that.

PHILOSOPHER: The grounds men used to tend them.

TEREZA: What does that mean, “tend” them


PHILOSOPHER: Fed them, housed them, whatever it is, there were larger concerns, my wife was ill.


TEREZA: There’s been a lot of fighting, one was injured badly and may not survive. There’s a litter on the way, I almost couldn’t get in because of how territorial they’ve become. I don’t want to offend you. But. It’s—


TEREZA: I’ve never. It’s…very

THOMAS: y? y? Y?

PHILOSOPHER: What are you saying?

THOMAS: Y? y? . . . y . . . ?

TEREZA: YES Y, do that in your head—I’m saying it’s bad. I’ve had to crate them. It’s going to take daily work to retrain them.

PHILOSOPHER: There were larger concerns.

TEREZA: Right. Well, what’s done is done. I’ll have to work with them everyday to get them back on track. She’s very good with them, we practice simple commands, walking—

PHILOSOPHER: She knows how to walk.

TEREZA: Well the dogs don’t.

PHILOSOPHER: Does she ever speak of me?

TEREZA: She hardly speaks at all.

PHILOSOPHER: We shall teach her to ride.

TEREZA: I don’t know anything about horses.

PHILOSOPHER: Let’s put her back in her rooms.

TEREZA: I don’t think she’s ready for that at all.

PHILOSOPHER: I’d prefer she not sleep in a pit.

TEREZA: She knows her bed of straw, it smells a certain way.

PHILOSOPHER: It smells awful.

TEREZA: It’s just good for her to sleep alone.

PHILOSOPHER: She does sleep alone.

TEREZA: Because she can get very . . . anxious.

PHILOSOPHER: As you keep saying.

TEREZA: Ok, it’s just, it would—be—uh—really, uh, bad for her to get pregnant now—I just need to know you understand that—I’m sorry.

PHILOSOPHER: Considering you’re the only person whose neck she doesn’t try to rip to shreds, I’m sure that won’t be a problem.

TEREZA: I just worry she might . . . approach you—which is fine, as long as you know, that I think she should not be preg—


Awkward silence because well . . . everybody gets it.

Thomas is excelling in his studies. He’s a very good student.

THOMAS: Thank you sir.

PHILOSOPHER: With some basic learning you could make something of yourself.

TEREZA: You really shouldn’t bother yourself.

PHILOSOPHER: It’s just the alphabet. You know the alphabet.

TEREZA: But I learnt from a priest.

PHILOSOPHER: I can assure you the letters are the same.

TEREZA: We’re not atheists.

PHILOSOPHER: So what are you?

TEREZA: I’d rather not discuss our faith.

PHILOSOPHER: This isn’t the South Tereza, I’m not gonna burn you at the stake depending how you answer.

TEREZA: I appreciate that. We’re still not atheists.

Tereza exits.

The Philosopher turns to Thomas.

PHILOSOPHER: Tereza’s a bit . . .

He makes a sound to describe her demeanour.

. . . isn’t she?

THOMAS: . . . Yeah.

PHILOSOPHER: She always like that?


close this panel
Ravage of Life
(this place despite everything)


I’ll not put this world on trial, even if it mistreats us.
I’ll not put this time on trial, even if it hustles us toward the fall.

I’ll not put a system that assaults us on trial, I’ll not put a religion that blinds us on trial, I’ll not put an economy that assassinates, attacks, dries, smothers, grinds, drowns us on trial.

I’ll not put life on trial, despite its fundamental inadequacy, nor our species, which does not cease hating itself.
Anyway I’ll launch no trial; the world has enough of those who destroy,
and I know only how to show the blows (and then).
So what can I do? I who do not have the confidence of the troublemakers, to try to transmute what is real, to try to tear up my own ruts, to restrain what is dying, to flesh out time, to punch holes in impasses and see sense appear, perhaps, in its unstable beat?

I chose, one day, to make a commitment despite everything to places that are theatres,
And I chose to linger in this one so as to invite dreamers and to dream with them,
So as to give more space to speech, more speech to speech.
I chose to write on a long wall having the title I begin again, so as to recreate tirelessly and thus to converse infinitely with this world that never ceases to amaze me.

Take the word ravage, for example.
Still yesterday, it inspired in me only fear and destruction, ugliness and chaos.
And then, one day, my country friend taught me that a ravage is also a place
where the deer gather to face the rigours of winter.

In winter, if you go for a walk in the forest, you might fall on a ravage, which you
will recognise by the disturbance of the snow, by the many and mingled deer tracks,
like the imprint of mysterious writing, And you will see that the ravage is protected by tall evergreens that wrap their long resinous arms around it. 

The first time I saw a ravage I thought That’s what we need! A spot to survive the winters, a place despite everything, a refuge for beauty, a stopping place for what hides itself! A ravage! A ravage! We need a ravage!

I thanked my country friend and I returned to the city.
Ever since I begin again,

And I hope, with you, to make a ravage out of this theatre.

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