The Trojan War Sample

(LIGHTS UP. The stage is nothing but rubble, the reduced remains of the city of Troy. Items lay scattered, seemingly at random. These are the props, costumes, and instruments to be used by the performers throughout the piece. Four individuals, Eris, Aphrodite (scantily clad), Paris, and Helen, sit amidst the rubble. None of them are looking at each other. A long silence settles between them.)

ERIS: It’s your fault.

HELEN: It’s your fault.

PARIS: It’s your fault.

APHRODITE: It’s your fault.

(The four of them start overlapping each other, each blaming someone else. The noise of their finger pointing swells and swells until Aphrodite lets out a scream.)

APHRODITE: Stop yelling! (beat) It’s bad for my hair.

HELEN: Oh yes, we wouldn’t want to disarray the hair of the great and powerful Aphrodite. All hail the goddess of love who caused this war!

APHRODITE: You should talk. I believe yours was the face that launched a thousand ships, Helen. And I fail to see the attraction. Pretty face, nasty attitude.

PARIS: Leave her alone!

HELEN: I can fight my own battles.

PARIS: Oh, sure. You did a whole lot of fighting during the Trojan War. It must have been such hard work standing beside the wall, watching men kill and die over you.

HELEN: That was your fault!

APHRODITE: Ha!

HELEN: There wouldn’t have been a war if it hadn’t been for you, Paris.

APHRODITE: Yeah!

HELEN: It’s all your fault.

APHRODITE: That’s right!

HELEN: (to Aphrodite) Don’t help me!

PARIS: She can fight her own battles.

APHRODITE: That’s funny, Paris. I don’t seem to remember anyone telling stories about the heroics of Helen of Troy.

HELEN: Helen of Sparta.

APHRODITE: Whatever.

HELEN: It makes a difference!

PARIS: Trust me. No one is ever going to remember you for being Helen of Sparta.

(Eris starts laughing.)

HELEN: Well, I’m not from…I’m not…I’m not from…What is so funny?

ERIS: You are. The three of you are. Just a little push and off you go again, at each other’s throats.

HELEN: Believe me, Eris, I’m sure we’d all be happy to strangle you.

ERIS: Wouldn’t do you any good.

HELEN: I’m willing to give it a shot.

PARIS: The Trojan War was your fault.

APHRODITE: Yeah!

PARIS: None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for you.

APHRODITE: That’s right!

PARIS: It’s all your fault!

APHRODITE: Your fault!

PARIS: (to Aphrodite) That is so annoying.

ERIS: The four of us have spent three thousand years arguing over whose fault it is. I doubt we’re about to reach a consensus any time soon.

(Silence settles over the four of them as they feel the enormity of their situation. After a moment, Aphrodite gives a little shiver and looks up.)

HELEN: What’s the matter, mighty one? Getting cold? Maybe if you wore some reasonable clothing, that wouldn’t be an issue.

APHRODITE: For your information, I’m a goddess and goddesses don’t get cold.

ERIS: Helen wouldn’t know. She’s only half immortal.

PARIS: I like Aphrodite’s clothing.

HELEN: Of course you do, she looks like a trollop.

PARIS: A what?

HELEN: Oh, I’d forgotten. Your vocabulary is the size of a macadamia nut.

PARIS: Yeah, but I’m big where it counts.

HELEN: Keep telling yourself that.

ERIS: Why did you shiver, Aphrodite?

APHRODITE: I don’t know. I just got a funny feeling.

HELEN: The bathroom is down the hall and to your left. Let’s not have a repeat of that incident.

APHRODITE: One time! One time in three thousand years!

HELEN: That makes it better.

PARIS: It wasn’t that bad. Her piss smelled like Chanel Number 5.

HELEN: They can use that as their next advertising slogan. “Chanel Number 5, nectar as sweet and Aphrodite’s piss.”

ERIS: You should go into advertising.

APHRODITE: It’s not that.

ERIS: What is it?

APHRODITE: I got a funny feeling. Like we’re being watched, or something.

ERIS: Watched?

APHRODITE: Uh huh.

ERIS: Now that you mention it…

(All four of them slowly look up to discover the audience. Paris does not see them.)

APHRODITE: Holy crap! There are hundreds of them!

ERIS: Dozens, at most.

APHRODITE: Oh, certainly not that many.

HELEN: Dozens are less than hundreds, nit wit.

APHRODITE: Oh.

PARIS: What are you talking about?

HELEN: All those people staring at us.

PARIS: What people?

HELEN: Those people over there.

PARIS: I don’t see anyone.

ERIS: He’s only a mortal. Pure and simple. Mortals so rarely see what’s right in front of their eyes.

PARIS: There aren’t any people.

ERIS: Believe us, there are. And they’re watching us.

HELEN: (to audience) What do you want?

ERIS: It’s rude to stare.

APHRODITE: I don’t know. I kind of like it when people stare at me. It makes me feel like I’m the centerfold of Hustler or Playboy or Highlights Magazine.

(Aphrodite strikes a few suggestive poses. Paris watches her, quite aroused.)

HELEN: They look confused.

ERIS: I doubt they know what we’re talking about. For that matter, I doubt they even know who we are.

APHRODITE: How could anyone not know who I am? I’m fabulous!

ERIS: Fabulously out of touch. (to audience)

Excuse our manners, here. It’s just that we haven’t had visitors before. In fact, it’s been three thousand years since we last saw anyone.

HELEN: Three thousand and ten years, six months, fourteen days, and twenty two hours. Not that we’re keeping track.

APHRODITE: Well, you are.

ERIS: I, of course, am Eris, the goddess of discord. You probably haven’t heard of me before. I’m one of your Average Joe kind of gods. Not the type to have fancy temples or major holidays or anything like that. But I get by. I think of myself as more of a Bond villain than a Batman villain, really. Just quietly sitting back and taking over the world, instead of pouring crazy juice in the water supply or something.

HELEN: So you admit that you are a villain. Villains start wars.

ERIS: Bond villains don’t start wars, they finance wars and profit off of them. Like politicians.

APHRODITE: I’ll bet you have heard of me! Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty. Emphasis on the beauty.

(Aphrodite strikes a pose.)

APHRODITE: I have temples and festivals and statues and a successful advice column that runs in the New York Times once a week.

HELEN: For the last time, Aphrodite. We all know you’re not a newspaper columnist.

APHRODITE: I could be a newspaper columnist.

HELEN: No, you couldn’t. You’re illiterate, unintelligent, and you’re stuck here just like the rest of us. And having an audience finally proves, once and for all, that we are nothing short of a living, breathing freak show.

PARIS: I still don’t see anyone.

ERIS: This, my friends, is Prince Paris, of the kingdom of Troy. (looking around) Well, what used to be the kingdom of Troy.

PARIS: When I was born, I was so beautiful that the midwife dropped me.

HELEN: That would explain a lot.

PARIS: Explain what?

ERIS: And that, of course, is Helen of Troy.

HELEN: Helen of Sparta!

APHRODITE: Whatever.

HELEN: It makes a difference.

PARIS: Helen of Troy. Troy. As in, Trojan War. As in, the Trojan War was all your fault.

HELEN: It is not!

PARIS: It is too.

HELEN: It’s your fault.

PARIS: No, it’s yours.

APHRODITE: We can compromise here. It’s both of your faults.

PARIS/HELEN: (to Aphrodite) It’s your fault!

APHRODITE: As if!

ERIS: (to audience) We weren’t always like this, you know. But three thousand and ten years, six months, fourteen days, and twenty two hours has a way of changing people.

APHRODITE: The Trojan War was so not my fault!

HELEN: It was. It was your fault!

ERIS: We’ve had nothing to do for the last three thousand and ten years, six months, fourteen days, and twenty two hours except argue over whose fault it was.

PARIS: Well, it wasn’t mine.

APHRODITE: Keep telling yourself that, sweetie. It was so your fault.

ERIS: Judging by your blank faces, you probably have no idea what we’re talking about.

HELEN: What?

APHRODITE: No idea?

PARIS: How could they not know about the Trojan War?

ERIS: Well, it was a long time ago.

APHRODITE: But it’s so famous.

ERIS: You know how fame is. It fades quickly. You think anyone here today is thinking about the War of 1812 or the Spanish-American War or American Bandstand? Those fifteen minutes have passed.

APHRODITE: That’s so wrong!

ERIS: Well, maybe we should tell them the story.

HELEN: Yes! Then they can see that it wasn’t my fault!

APHRODITE: Or mine!

PARIS: Or mine!

ERIS: I have an idea. What do you say that we tell them the story of the Trojan War? Then we can leave it to them to decide whose fault it really is.

APHRODITE: Yes! I like that idea!

ERIS: Paris?

PARIS: Sure, I guess.

ERIS: Helen?

(Pause.

HELEN: All right.

ERIS: Good. We’re all agreed then. We’ll tell them the story of the Trojan War. In a fair and balanced way.

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