Women Who Weave Sample

(LIGHTS UP on the very front of the stage. The visible part of the set is empty. The primary set is hidden. ATALANTA, a twelve year old girl, is on stage alone, crying. There is a ball by her side. After a few moments, her MOTHER calls.)

MOTHER: (offstage) Atalanta! (beat) Atalanta?

(The MOTHER can be heard approaching. ATALANTA abruptly sits up. The MOTHER enters and ATALANTA looks away. The MOTHER knows something is wrong, but she doesn’t want to push. She walks over.)

MOTHER: Did you hear me calling?

ATALANTA: (annoyed) Yes.

MOTHER: Do you want to talk about it?

ATALANTA: No.

MOTHER: All right.

ATALANTA: It’s not fair.

MOTHER: What’s not fair?

ATALANTA: Nothing.

MOTHER: I can’t help unless you tell me what’s wrong.

ATALANTA: You can’t do anything.

MOTHER: Nonsense. I have mother superpowers. It’s part of the job description.

ATALANTA: My head hurts.

MOTHER: That’s a quick fix.

(The MOTHER leans over and kisses ATALANTA on her temple. ATALANTA does not look amused. The MOTHER gives ATALANTA her space.)

MOTHER: That used to always do it for you.

ATALANTA: That’s not a real superpower. Hercules can crack a boulder with his bare hands.

MOTHER: Were you crying?

ATALANTA: No. (beat) Yes.

MOTHER: Why?

ATALANTA: Girls cry. They don’t have to have a reason.

MOTHER: They most certainly do.

ATALANTA: If you say so.

MOTHER: You were with Meleager today. How is he?

ATALANTA: Fine.

MOTHER: I hear he’s traveling to Calydon. Are you going with him? You have my permission.

ATALANTA: No. I can’t go.

MOTHER: Why not?

ATALANTA: Because I’m a girl.

MOTHER: So?

ATALANTA: So he’s going on a boar hunt. I’m not invited.

MOTHER: Why?

ATALANTA: Girls can’t go on boar hunts.

MOTHER: Who told you that?

ATALANTA: Iasus.

MOTHER: The tribune’s son?

ATALANTA: Yes.

MOTHER: When did he tell you that?

ATALANTA: Today. (beat) When I was playing with Meleager.

MOTHER: What happened?

(LIGHTS RISE on the DSL corner of the stage. MELEAGER enters. ATALANTA takes the ball and walks to him and the flashback begins. She tosses him the ball and he tosses it back as the lines are exchanged. They are cheerful.)

ATALANTA: The games are going to be held next year, did you hear about that?

MELEAGER: The games?

ATALANTA: It’s this new idea that some guys from Sparta came up with.

MELEAGER: How does it work?

ATALANTA: Every city sends their best athletes and they compete in a bunch of games to see who’s the best.

MELEAGER: What kind of games?

ATALANTA: Sports. You know, stuff like wrestling and running. They’re calling it the Olympics.

MELEAGER: That’s a terrible name. Think it’ll catch on?

ATALANTA: Nah. Probably not, but it sounds like a lot of fun.

MELEAGER: That’s easy for you to say, Atalanta. You can outrun everyone in the village.

ATALANTA: Well, I don’t like to brag. (beat) Yes, I do. (beat) I bet I could win if I went to those games.

MELEAGER: Yeah. What’s the prize anyway?

ATALANTA: I don’t think there is one.

MELEAGER: Then what’s the point?

ATALANTA: Glory, stupid.

MELEAGER: Oh.

ATALANTA: Maybe, someday, the two of us can go to the games together. I can run and you can compete in the wrestling matches.

MELEAGER: I don’t think I’d be a very good wrestler. I don’t spend enough time practicing with the boys.

ATALANTA: You have to wrestle. We can’t be in the same event.

MELEAGER: Why not?

ATALANTA: Cause we can’t compete against each other. Then one of us has to lose.

MELEAGER: Oh. (beat) Okay.

ATALANTA: Friends?

MELEAGER: Forever and ever.

(The two share a moment of deep friendship. IASUS enters in a hurry, knocking the ball away. MELEAGER turns slightly bashful.)

IASUS: Meleager!

MELEAGER: Hi, Iasus.

ATALANTA: Hey! The ball!

IASUS: Did you hear the news?

MELEAGER: No.

IASUS: My father’s sending a hunting party to Calydon.

MELEAGER: Why?

ATALANTA: Excuse me!

IASUS: (to ATALANTA) Shouldn’t you be playing with dolls or something? (to MELEAGER) There’s going to be a boar hunt.

MELEAGER: A boar hunt?

ATALANTA: You just lost our ball! Go get it back, Iasus!

IASUS: (to ATALANTA) Whatever. (to MELEAGER) There’s a wild boar ravaging the countryside. The king forgot to make sacrifice to Artemis. Again.

MELEAGER: It sounds bad.

IASUS: It’s real bad. The boar is killing everything and everyone that gets in its way. My father’s sending a party to go hunt it down once and for all and he’s taking me with him.

MELEAGER: Wow. You get to go with the grown ups?

IASUS: Of course I do. And I want you to come with us, Meleager.

MELEAGER: Me?

IASUS: It’s time you took your place as a man of the village.

MELEAGER: Really?

IASUS: Come on!

ATALANTA: We’ll come.

IASUS: Yeah. Right.

ATALANTA: What?

IASUS: You’re not invited.

ATALANTA: Why not?

IASUS: You’re a girl.

ATALANTA: So?

IASUS: Girls don’t go on boar hunts.

ATALANTA: Why not?

IASUS: It’s not allowed. Go braid your hair or something. This is man’s work.

(IASUS turns and begins to exit.)

IASUS: Come on, Meleager.

(IASUS exits. )

ATALANTA: Loser.

(ATALANTA goes to retrieve the ball. MELEAGER looks off after IASUS.)

MELEAGER: Um…Atalanta…

ATALANTA: What?

MELEAGER: Um…

ATALANTA: You’re not actually going to go with him, are you? (beat) Are you?

MELEAGER: Well…

ATALANTA: You’re not serious.

MELEAGER: It’s time I was more of a man…I mean, I’ve been spending a lot of time with you lately…

ATALANTA: But we’re best friends!

MELEAGER: I know! I just…

(Pause.)

ATALANTA: You just want to spend more time with the men. (beat) Fine.

(ATALANTA chucks the ball at him. He just barely catches it.)

MELEAGER: Oh, come on, Atalanta, don’t be like that.

ATALANTA: Just go.

MELEAGER: I –

ATALANTA: (interrupting) Go!

(MELEAGER sets the ball down at her feet. He exits. She watches him go, then picks up the ball and returns to her MOTHER, sitting on the apron.)

MOTHER: And then what?

ATALANTA: I guess I got to thinking about it. Iasus’s right. Girls don’t go on boar hunts. That involves athletics and stuff. Girls can’t even hit as hard as boys. (beat) There must be something wrong with me.

MOTHER: There is nothing wrong with you, Atalanta.

ATALANTA: Oh yeah? So how come I don’t like to do girl things? Huh? How come I’m so good at running and wrestling? How come I don’t like playing with dolls?

MOTHER: What Iasus said –

ATALANTA: (interrupting) I don’t want to talk about it!

MOTHER: Atalanta…

ATALANTA: From now on, I’m just going to sit here and play with…a comb. Yeah. I’ll just sit around and comb my hair and look in the mirror. That’s what girls do.

MOTHER: That’s not all they do.

ATALANTA: Yes it is!

(The MOTHER sighs. She takes a few moments to consider, then gets up and goes offstage. She can be heard rustling through things. ATALANTA is curious, but she pretends not to be. The MOTHER returns with a small length of string.)

MOTHER: This belonged to Grandma Edith.

ATALANTA: (incredulous) A piece of string?

MOTHER: Not just string, Atalanta.

ATALANTA: It looks like stupid string to me.

MOTHER: Grandma Edith used to call it her lifeline. Do you know the story of the Fates?

ATALANTA: No.

MOTHER: Indulge your mother on this one. Mortals all live in fear of the gods. The gods all live in fear of Zeus. Zeus, the great and powerful king of the gods, lives in fear of only one thing, the tapestry of life, woven by the Fates. (beat; trying to amuse) Your grandmother used to say she had frizzy hair because her string on the tapestry of life was frayed.

ATALANTA: Is there a point to this?

MOTHER: The point, Atalanta, is that the Fates spun your string to be just so. You are who they intended you to be.

ATALANTA: Well, they obviously made a mistake.

(The MOTHER stands up. She gives ATALANTA the string and kisses her on the forehead.)

MOTHER: Dinner will be ready in half an hour.

(The MOTHER exits. ATALANTA sighs and tosses the ball offstage in annoyance.)

ATALANTA: If the Fates had made me right, I’d be a boy. Then I could go on the boar hunt with all my friends and be normal. (beat) I hate being a girl.

(ATALANTA sighs, putting the string in her pocket. The LIGHTS GO DOWN, except for a dim SPECIAL on ATALANTA’s face. As sleepy ATALANTA closes her eyes, a soft singing voice starts to hold a sustained note from the darkness. Gradually, two other singing voices join in to add harmony. The LIGHTS RISE to reveal the entire stage. The set is comprised of a wooden loom, center, from which tree branches sprout out. The branches are draped with scarves of a variety of colors. The props and instruments to be used in the rest of the play are strung from the branches.)

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