Soul Possession Sample

Prologue

(LIGHTS UP. The actors (except for Hades) are all assembled, performing a sort of ritual to get into character. It slowly builds to a crescendo, then collapses. Everyone falls to the floor except for Aphrodite, who strikes an enormous pose. She addresses the audience.)

APHRODITE:
Aphrodite was born out of the sea.
Paragon of beauty! Don’t you agree?
But this was the time when the earth was new
And the gods themselves didn’t know what to do!
And so she swept the face of the new earth
Stumbling upon mankind’s first hopeful birth!
She watched the light from man’s eyes from above
And gave it a name:

“I shall call it love!”
The love seemed too precious for babes alone:
“All humans should have a love of their own.”
Now the goddess will bind souls together
With love and devotion that lasts forever.

(Hades enters. The actors pound their hands on the ground as he approaches, with menace.)

HADES:
Forever, niece, is an awfully long time.
Once death comes, all loving souls become mine.

APHRODITE: (indulgently)
You may possess their bodies, Lord Hades,
But those are just flesh, wounds, sores, and disease.

HADES:
You’re wrong! The spirit becomes mine as well!
Once that spirit is gone, what can compel
Love to continue in a heart bereft?
I stand quite firm. Love cannot conquer death.

APHRODITE:
There is one way we can know it for sure,
Of love or death, which one is the most pure?

HADES:
Tell me, dear niece, and I will play your game.
My argument will win, much to your shame.

APHRODITE:
We shall rely on mortals for the truth
And you shall see the way lovers fight tooth
And nail to remain at each other’s sides.
True love, uncle, is stronger than the tides.
It endures strife, pain, and separation.

HADES:
Make your choice! I’m all anticipation.
I will still protest that it cannot be
That any love is far stronger than me.

APHRODITE:
So be it, uncle. I will start the game.
Osiris and Isis are who I name
To first step forward as lovers so true
That their passion will prove stronger than you!

(Osiris and Isis stand up and move off to one side.)

APHRODITE:
Next, Thintha and lovely Kalavati
Will enter this fray as victors for me
To prove the lengths one goes for devotion.
You’ll see, their love caused quite the commotion.

(Thintha and Kalavati stand up and move off to the other side.)

APHRODITE:
And last, since all the best things come in three,
I choose Orpheus and Eurydice.
For this musician with a golden voice
Giving up on love was never a choice.

(Orpheus and Eurydice stand up and move down to the front. Hades takes a moment to admire the groups of lovers.)

HADES:
Your choices made, the contest may begin.
Love or death? Which one has the strength to win?

Scene 1

(Aphrodite and Hades step back, perhaps on a raised platform above the rest of the action. The lovers, arrange the set into the throne room of Osiris. Orpheus sits to one side, plucking at a guitar. Thintha scrubs the floor. Meanwhile, Osiris paces back and forth in great agitation. The female lovers exit.)

OSIRIS: How much longer can it take?

ORPHEUS: It’ll take as long as it takes, your majesty.

OSIRIS: Yes, but how long is that?

ORPHEUS: Only the gods can know.

OSIRIS: The gods.

ORPHEUS: You know how they are.

OSIRIS: Only too well. (beat) An arranged marriage! What was I thinking?

ORPHEUS: You were thinking that, as a king, you would do right by your people by honoring the wishes of the gods. You know they’ll take it out on the people if you disobey them.

OSIRIS: Yes, yes. But what have I gotten myself into?

THINTHA: I met a servant of the Lady Isis once. He told me the lady is beautiful.

OSIRIS: I’ve heard the same rumors.

THINTHA: Nothing to worry about, then, your highness.

OSIRIS: I don’t care if she’s beautiful.

THINTHA: You don’t?

OSIRIS: Beautiful or not, she’s still a stranger. A stranger I’m going to be stuck with for the rest of my life.

ORPHEUS: Sometimes, great kings must make sacrifices for the sake of their people.

OSIRIS: Yes, yes.

ORPHEUS: Marriage will bring children. And children will secure your place as the king. And having your place as the king secure will mean stability for the people.

OSIRIS: Set.

ORPHEUS: Set. Yes. You know perfectly well that your brother is eyeing the throne. If he were to make a bid for power, he could plunge the entire kingdom into civil war.

OSIRIS: I know.

ORPHEUS: Thousands of innocent people could die.

OSIRIS: I know.

ORPHEUS: The kingdom will be torn apart.

OSIRIS: I know! I just…

ORPHEUS: What?

OSIRIS: I just wish I didn’t have to marry a stranger.

ORPHEUS: You may come to love her.

OSIRIS: How can I be sure?

ORPHEUS: You can’t.

OSIRIS: Orpheus, you could depress a hyena.

(A trumpet sounds.)

THINTHA: I see horses! Lady Isis and her entourage have arrived!

OSIRIS: So soon!

ORPHEUS: Well, you were tired of waiting.

OSIRIS: I’m not ready yet! What am I supposed to do? I can’t face her.

ORPHEUS: You have to.

THINTHA: Not right away.

OSIRIS: What?

ORPHEUS: What are you talking about? He has to go out and greet her.

OSIRIS: What did you have in mind, Thintha?

THINTHA: Allow her to come into the throne room, but hide yourself. That way, you’ll be able to see her.

OSIRIS: I don’t care what she looks like.

THINTHA: You’ll be able to see what she acts like, when you’re not around. That way, you’ll know the real her.

ORPHEUS: He has a point…surprisingly.

THINTHA: Once she’s face to face with you, she’ll be acting the way a subject is supposed to act before a king.

ORPHEUS: You mean, with manners?

THINTHA: Precisely. Manners always hide who we really are.

ORPHEUS: Spoken like a true pretender.

THINTHA: All servants must pretend to be something they’re not in the presence of the king.

OSIRIS: I like the idea.

THINTHA: They’re coming.

OSIRIS: Hide me, Orpheus.

(Orpheus and Osiris hide behind a piece of scenery. Thintha moves in front of them and starts to scrub the floor with renewed vigor. After a moment, Isis enters in regal regalia, followed by Eurydice who carries her things. Osiris cautiously peers out at them. Isis appears very nervous.)

EURYDICE: You there.

THINTHA: Who? Me?

EURYDICE: Where is the king? Lady Isis has arrived.

THINTHA: The king? Which king?

EURYDICE: King Osiris!

THINTHA: Oh, that king!

EURYDICE: Where is he?

THINTHA: The king?

EURYDICE: Yes!

THINTHA: The king is currently…busy.

EURYDICE: Busy doing what?

THINTHA: Things.

EURYDICE: What kinds of things?

THINTHA: Kingly things.

EURYDICE: Well, tell him to stop doing things and get out here. Lady Isis, you know, his future bride, has arrived.

THINTHA: Okay.

(Thintha continues cleaning.)

EURYDICE: Well?

THINTHA: Oh, you wanted me to do it now?

EURYDICE: Yes!

THINTHA: Why didn’t you say so?

(Thintha gets up and goes behind the scenery with Osiris and Orpheus.)

THINTHA: That servant girl is a real fireball.

OSIRIS: Shhh!

EURYDICE: I hope not all of King Osiris’ servants are as useless.

THINTHA: Hey!

(Orpheus clamps a hand over Thintha’s mouth.)

ISIS: Oh, I don’t care.

EURYDICE: Don’t care?

ISIS: What difference does it make? Even if this palace has the greatest servants and the finest food and the most beautiful decoration, what does it matter? I’m still a prisoner here.

EURYDICE: A prisoner?

ISIS: Trapped in an arranged marriage.

EURYDICE: You could do worse than marriage to the king.

ISIS: He could be a king or a pauper, but he’d still be a stranger.

EURYDICE: A very important stranger, Lady Isis.

ISIS: You can’t build a marriage based on how important someone is. You can only build a marriage, a true marriage, on love.

EURYDICE: The gods rarely afford us the luxury of love.

ISIS: I know. But if I don’t love him…if he doesn’t love me…

EURYDICE: You’ll still be married.

ISIS: Married in words, yes. Married in arrangement. But not married by the heart.

EURYDICE: No. I suppose not.

ISIS: I’m so scared, Eurydice.

ORPHEUS: You hear that?

THINTHA: Yes. What kind of a name is Eurydice?

ORPHEUS: No. She’s just as scared as you, King Osiris.

OSIRIS: Yes.

ORPHEUS: That’s a good sign.

OSIRIS: It is?

THINTHA: Well, it means you have something in common.

EURYDICE: Who’s there? Is someone spying on us?

(Thintha and Orpheus push Osiris out into view of the women.)

OSIRIS: I…

EURYDICE: Who are you?

OSIRIS: King Osiris.

EURYDICE: Oh.

(Eurydice falls to the floor in prostration.)

OSIRIS: You must be Lady Isis.

(Isis plasters a big, phony smile on her face.)

ISIS: King Osiris! I am honored by the gods to be brought to you as a gift of marriage. My pleasure knows no bounds, my happiness overflows like the Nile River, my –

OSIRIS: Heart trembles in fear?

(Pause.)

OSIRIS: Mine does. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

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