It’s A Parody Of Me

 

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The shadows, they’re not my shadows
Whose are they?
Nobody

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
What I see on the street
What do you see on the street?
Waves, rolling waves, rolling above the shadows
Shadows from where, from who?
From nowhere, from nobody

It’s a parody of me
The city skyline
The city skyline above the waves of shadows
Why is it a parody of you?
Because of how I feel
How do you feel?
Trapped, I feel trapped beneath the waves on the shadows and alone

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The touch of concrete, the feeling of concrete
Why is it a parody of you?
Because of the nightmare I had when my flesh turned to concrete and my tongue became swollen

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The death I see all around me
Becoming solid like concrete
Like the skyline above the waves breaking over the shadows crashing over the shadows
The waves of invisibility that shut out the light that filter out the light of day

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The circle, the circle of the earth around me, its horizon filled with skyscrapers
I feel I am in the centre of a Stonehenge circle
I feel that I am on the sacrificial altar stone in the middle of this horizon of skyscrapers
That I have turned to stone, that my tongue is swollen
That I am having a nightmare
That the shadows beneath the waves are surrounding me wearing cloaks of invisibility

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The loneliness etched into the stones
Is like the loneliness etched into me
As the knifes break upon my bone and the sacrificial loneliness ebbs out of me
Bubbling in the sun with laughter
The laughter of my blood getting louder
Filling the whole city
Echoing through the city streets
Flooding around the skyscrapers that surround me

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The soft touch of the air of life upon my body
Lighting my flesh up into the great tent of the sky
Waving it like a flag in the sky above the circle of the earth
I can feel the summer wind blowing around my flesh that flutters like a flag
Above the circle of the earth
Above the circle of skyscrapers circling the altar stone in the shadows beneath

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The way nobody seems to see me
The way nobody seems to know who I am
The way a thin film of me sticks to people like clothing
Making them invisible to each other on the street
The way the laughter of my blood floods over them and down the city streets like a tidal wave
A tidal wave of laughter
Like the lighthearted laughter of people before their deaths in a battle
Laughter amplified so much that their ears cannot even hear it

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The way the world dries up the pools of rain on the pavements and roads
The way it disappears and leaves nothing and the light from the sun bounces of the windows and into the shadows where the waves are ebbing back to where they came from

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The way the whole city seemed when I first arrived here
The whole city seemed empty
The whole city, the way it sang,
The way the sky about it made the concrete sing
The way the empty skyscrapers seemed to sing up to the sky a song no one could hear
The way people were invisible in the shadow beneath
The way they vanished like pools of rainwater in the wind from the city pavements and city streets
The way I could see it all as if it were a mirror of my own naked flesh bathing in the pools of rainwater
As the laughter of my blood swamped the skyscrapers in a noise so loud that human ears were incapable of hearing it

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The way I’m being mirrored by the concrete
The way the circle of skyscrapers seem to mirror me as I lie on the altar in the middle of them
The way they mirror my flesh that has turned to stone and my tongue swollen in my head
The way I see myself mirrored in the concrete
The way the concrete feels like my flesh
The way this old volcanic stone has been set into skyscrapers
The way they are cold and heavy like the way my flesh felt cold and heavy in the nightmare that I had

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
The way my mind can make things vanish
How dos your mind make things vanish
The way they vanish when you close your eyes and time spreads all around you like sand filling your ears, filling your mouth and your nostrils
The way everything seems to become a dream that vanishes like pools of rainwater dried up by the wind
The way my mind gets separated from the circle of stone and the concrete around me
The way it seems peaceful separated from the endless inner pain that grows in my like a tree that grows through the middle of me
Growing up through the circle of skyscrapers
Growing taller and taller producing a single red fruit that that hands from a branch
That is snatched and away and taken and consumed
That is stolen from me
Then someone comes to cut down the tree that grew from the altar into the sky and produced that one red fruit
And it falls and it crashes into the streets and the shock wave follows the laughter made by my blood laughing so loud that no one has hearing that can hear it

It’s a parody of me!
What’s a parody of you?
This Babylon, this Citylon
This city

Short play: Wanted. Actor

 

Wanted: Actor

This short play was written while with Greenwich Arts and Media Project, June 1994. It was written for actors and the problems and injustices of the acting profession.

Some of the Actors: –

It’s best used as a framework and given over entirely to the creativity of the actors.
Cast: in order of appearance (and disappearance).
Actor 1 – Lazy one; Actor 2 (Angry one); Actor 3 (Sad one).
Job-searcher; Director; Writer; Jester; Supervisor; Panto-Horse

Some of the Actors: –

 


Scene 1

Actor 1; The theatre is so controlled and elitist
It’s hard to find work on the stage
The local theatre is dormant and defeatist
With the hollow ring of old forgotten plays

I’m only as good as my last part
Yes, my last part was my final stage
I’m on the last stage in my final part
Yes the final part on the last page

I am un-centralised, I have no purpose
I crumble like Macbeth in your hand
I drift like the wind in the auditorium
The applause comes from within dark land

Unemployed I used to sit
With a beer and stare
At the empty stage and desire
To stand up and perform there

Now I sleep in amnesiac dark
The prose of the dramatist in my head
The cry of the dodo in my heart
As the dodo died will the stage be dead

Unemployed I used to sit
With a beer and stare
At the empty stage everywhere
Empty stages sold to silence

I auditioned for the mousetrap
Eager for the part of Paul
I put on my best performance
But alas I was too small

I’ve so much anger trapped inside
I need encouragement, security, – love
To be accepted, to be able to give
But I’m on the streets unable to live

Supervisor (Haughtily)

You know the score, there are hundreds more
Can do what you do
Nothing special in this day and age
To play a character or two

Look at you now in your poor rags
On the street corner begging for food
People think you’re having them on
Acting the part of a down and out

 

Scene 2

Supervisor; Can you act?

Actor 2; Can I act, of course I can act

Supervisor; what have you done before?

Actor 2; I’ve done silent comedy for a dog’s home
I’ve played the gull in Richard III
I’ve played a corpse in Agatha Christie
I’m in the lineup in Limehouse Nick

Supervisor; O.K. Sign here
You’ll do a job seek once a year
To practice interview technique
Body language, Shakespeare, Latin and Greek

Actor 2; I’m angry, but it’s all trapped inside
The whole system is in decline
I’m angry at what they do to me
I can’t break free
From the vicious circle of waiting for Brian

Actor 1; you people don’t know a thing
You don’t know what to do with us
A great actor I would become
But you would have me drive a bus

Job-searcher; I know my job
I’ve been doing this
For twenty years of more
Kitchen porters by the score
With my help have found a job

Actor 1; I’ll not do kitchen porter again
It’s soul destroying work
Where are the casting sheets do you know
You great pen pushing berk

Job-searcher; It’s four years since you had a job
Admit you’re a loser and a hog

Actor 1; With the Arts you’re out of touch
Find work with you, not much

Where is your creativity?
Why to oblivion do you commit me?
Can’t the council create work?
For the practicing acting community

Job-searcher; That’s not my job
I’m here to send you out the door
I’ve no vacancies for actors anymore

It’s tea break now, so goodbye
Please come back another time

 

Scene 3

Actor 3; The directors gone on holiday
Gone to the sea, gone to be free
To walk on the beach
To dream

The director lived in fear
As each day a calamity
Shook her jangled nerves
It seemed

We came we played the fools
We emptied out our souls
Like Jesters at a charity
We caused a catastrophe

Director; I nearly held it down
It needed more commitment
Like jellyfish in the sea
The project slipped away from me

Tomorrow, what will tomorrow bring
I’ll sell hotdogs on Brighton pier
To the tourists coming here
And watch the ebbtide disappear

The actor’s footprints in the sand
Are washed away to sea
The actors in the shadows
Of my memories

 

Scene 4

Supervisor; (Evilly)
The actors are like grains of sand
That shift beneath me feet
I build sand castles with them
I sift them just like wheat

I promise you the world
I’ll lift you from the ditch
I promise you the moon and stars
I promise you’ll be rich

I sift them just like wheat
The actors in the wanted ads
I turn them upside down
Subjected to my will

Actor 2; I’ve so much anger trapped within
At the thing she’s done to me
How dare she try to rule my life?
I’m human just like she

 

Scene 5

Actor 1; The supervisor has not come in
The supervisor has disappeared
Actor 3; the supervisor is dead
Actor 2; The supervisor has been murdered

Jester; The one who used to sit
Upon the stage like King Canute
Now the stage has swallowed her
Is empty, see I claim the throne

The empty seats of the theatre
Will do as I command, you’ll see
I rule the waves of mankind
I control the tides in moonlit dreams

Actor 2; The fool has returned to his paradise
But the supervisor’s job is mine
Actor 1 No, it was promised to me
Actor 2 Well, you have it then you need it more I see

Director; Actors, oh actors, how I love you
To see you toil and sweat
To see your agony and ecstasy
But one of you is guilty

Actor 3; I daydream
I daydream of relationships
That vanishes with the night
Like light into darkness
I daydream
I daydream of feelings
That appears like flowers
In the living desert
I daydream
Did you imagine me here?
Am I in this slice of life?

Writer; My words went forth, you appeared
A full house you appear for
An empty house and you vanish
And I walk home to my bedsit
Alone with my memories

Director; (To actors)
Improvise this scene my dears
You are far distant stars obscure
Unseen to powerful telescopes
What do you say? Where do you go?
And from your hearts explain your hopes

Oh unemployed stars obscure
For a performance you endure
For men to see a twinkle of light
Dancing in the deep dark night

 

Scene 6

Actor 2; I need to be paid, I haven’t eaten
I’m near the grave, I’m cruelly beaten
I poured myself into the part
You drained the blood out of my heart

Supervisor; You had no real technique
You ruined the play, you get no pay
We hired you for the weekend
You ruined the matinee

Supervisor; The tide has gone out and you go with it
Actor 2; Who says so, I refuse to go
Supervisor; Then let the quicksand swallow you
Then let the seagulls ick your bones

Actor 2; I object to that attitude
I complain you’re a megalomaniac

Supervisor; I am the supervisor and it is for me
To alter the course of your destiny
And your destiny is now redundant
And your future is unemployment
Actor 2; You won’t get rid of me so easily
Supervisor; I am in charge now
I know your crooked ways
You’re no actor, you’re two faced

Actor 2; You creature of doom
You despicable fraud
What do you know of walking the boards?

And after my rage beneath the stage
Will your body be lifeless?
Will worms eat your bones?

(He chase’s the supervisor in a chaotic and lengthy death scene).

 

Scene 7

Actor 2; A fugitive I have now become
An outlaw on the run
And how long can this pantomime last
And to whom has justice been done?

Panto-horse; Now you hide in this disguise
Now you’ve become my other half
To clip clop about the stage
Trying to get the kids to larf

An understudy to a pantomime horse
Imprisoned by the pantomime laws
A pantomime in the prison of life
The faceless half of a pantomime horse

 

THE ACTOR ALWAYS BLACK

The actor always wears black,
For moving in and for talking in.
For during the theatre ritual
He may be sacrificed for his sin.

He follows the coffin in….
But who has died, who is within.
The funeral is all in the mind,
The corpse wore invisible skin.

The theatrical ritual of the priest.
The altar of the sacrifice.
The plot calls for a saviour from the east,
For a sacrificial victim.

Actors always wear black!
Black for death, but who has died?
No-one is missing from the cast,
The bookings are good, the play may last.

The stage is covered in black!
Black for death, but who dies,
In every nightly sacrifice,
In every nightly ritual.

The theatre is dark, has someone died?
They never came to their seat.
Time came in to see the play,
He chewed the audience in his teeth.

The theatre will never be free,
Ensnared to the supernatural,
Dipped in the watery sea
Of nightly theatrical baptism.

So the audience came to see
First night and initiation,
But the tragic heroine of purity
Is sacrificed by the patron.

The actor always wears black!
Black for death, but who has died?
The private life of their lives
Is published by the tabloid.

The rebirth takes place each show
Of comedy, drama and conflict.
The actor always wears black
In case death has him on his list.

13th June

THE THEATRE HAS GROWN DARK

The theatre has grown dark
Every seat cushion proves to be
A cloud a thousand feet above
The dark and empty theatre
Every stage plan to keep going
Is dissolved in acid-doubt
Is stolen by the jackdaw
Who also ran the box office

The theatre has grown dark
The days that follow are dissolved
In stage dissolving mist
That breaks down what was built up
Gestures are left in limbo
Directors do a circle dance
Left to the mercy of philistines
Blinded and put into chains

The theatre has grown dark
And the work that comes from the heart
Is paid for by myself
And taken through the lines
The streams that run underground
That bubbles forth with joy
Are treated like a hernia
By the one eyed monster, the city

July 3rd

Greenwich Theatre Group drawings (3)

OH TIRED AND DISPIRITED ACTOR

Oh tired and dispirited actor
Living with your hopes and your dreams
Leaving the calamitous production
The survivor of a crashed machine

Wander like a shell-shocked soldier
All your training turned inside out
All your discipline never was enough
When the ruin came from without

Oh tired and dispirited actor
Not one more step can you take
The burden of neglect and poverty
Turned make believe to a fake

Greenwich Theatre Group drawings (32)

ALLEGORY

On the riverside the cameras eye hovered around the talking bench, panned across the river and back again to the talking bench.

“I lived in the room above where my father is now. I came down and people should listen to me.”

I leaned on the railing and watched the ships go by, the pleasure boats, and the outgoing tide.

The camera eye went to the floating dock, it was empty, it filmed the pleasure boat docked there, the ebb and flow of the waves.

“I have a message for mankind, that they should all listen to me”.

And there in the small room was the red water.

I was entranced by the floating dock, the unusual perspective of corridors, of gangplanks that formed architectural webs of metal post and roof all around me. The little office, the feeling of the floating dock bobbing up and down on the waves.

The camera moved on back up he gangplank to the riverside walk and along to the stairs and down to the beach cove.  The camera eye filmed the jetsam and flotsam washed up on shore, panning along the distant warehouses opposite, filming the river meandering around the horseshoe bends.

I went to look at the wall covered in seaweed and moss, its green slippery texture, the waterlogged wood, the great blocks of broken concrete on the shore, left from another era, the dancing midges.

“No one knows me, I have lived before, I came from the world above, the room above”.

The grey blue river had silver speckles over it from the afternoon sun, I watched it flow upstream, people walked or jogged along.

The camera now stopped at an inlet enclosed by old warehouses. The camera filmed a white duck that preened its feathers and then snuggled down into the sand, the litter, garbage, dumped stuff.

I watched the small streamlet that ran down the wet beach from higher small pools; water that seemed to flow from inexhaustible supply right at the top of the inlet. I looked at the ladders built into the walls that would transfer men from boats into warehouse doors. I put my face against the railing and I felt trapped on the outside.

The camera now began following the main road.

There is a garden in the sky where a girl with red boots is playing. Her father has gone back down to earth and left her on her own. An ogre sometimes comes and stares over the wall at her. Before he left, her father planted a small posy of flowers in the ground for her.

The camera resumes the Thames walk, stops to film the riverbank. A woman is out walking her two small dogs, one is a small fragile whippet, thin as a skeleton, the other ambles over decking over the river that is out of bounds to people due to its instability.

The girl with red boots is playing in the garden in the sky. She will come back to earth with a message for mankind and no one will listen.

The river has filled a small boat dock with water and receded, in the water I watch a swarm of fish dart and glide in circles through the shadows, beneath the swarms larger fish cruise lazily.

In the riverside park the camera films the flowers. Two teenagers immediately stop and ask the camera to film them. They strike a pose by the tennis court and talk about their leisure activities.

I watch the tennis players as they bat the tennis ball back and forth. In my hand is a bright yellow flower that I picked from a tree which I leave behind on the ground behind a little wall.

The girl in the red boots must come down to the earth now. She’s been left alone for ages without her mother or father in the garden in the sky and they never went back for her, not even the ogre who looked over the wall was interested in her.

The camera is filming an old brick bus shelter decorated by children’s painting of a river scene with boats and birds.

I head down Three Crane’s Walk back to the riverside again, the camera stops to film the dark alleyway between the tall buildings.

The camera starts filming the bank and the outgoing tide. A tall red sailed fishing boat motors by going down stream.

In Wapping High Street the girl with red boots and a camera is filming the outside of Turners Star, she goes inside, beads of sweat cover her brow, she films the pictures on the wall and banters with the men propped up against the bar.

The camera seems momentarily disorientated, it walks to the north filming, to the East filming, to the West filming anything in sight. I try to steer it back on course and head it back to the river walk.

“I am from the world above, I have come with a message, everyone must know and listen, I am from the room above, I can foresee events that will happen, people must listen”.

Then follows a pier that goes out into the river, that goes down to the pleasure boats moored in a floating dock at the end of the pier. In the distance two men are skimming stones across the waves. A cook runs from boat to boat; from the Captain Kidd pub people in the beer garden stare down at the river.

My time is running out, my time has run out, I’ve missed my appointment, I get irritated by the camera that goes by without seeing me.

I settle down on a bench in front of an old barge that has attracted the bird life, a Coot is building a nest; a young grey gull waddles down the beach pecking at things between the stones. The river police-boats are moored outside.

The camera waits to finish filming now, the second battery is running low. It comes to a clock tower and films it for a few seconds. A tower above the rooftops somewhere in Wapping.

2002

Thespis; a fragment

After a performance in the ancient Greek theatre the famous actor Thespis is praised for his performance.

XEL
Thespis, you were wonderful. You really become someone different when
you perform. It’s wonderful to watch you perform and to see
all of this happening today. All of Athens is talking about it, aren’t
you pleased?

THESPIS
No! No I’m unhappy.

XEL
Unhappy! Why?

THESPIS
Why…Here look into this mirror, what do you see?
I can only see myself as others see me. My true self is never there.
My reflection in a strange mirror is always unpleasant. I can never see
the man I feel I am there, only the one who others see as me.
The shadows that cover me are full of pain, full of mystery and
strangeness. They expose the grimace that hides in my features,
like hardened leather beneath the surface . A mask that supports the
flesh above.
I know a terrible depression came upon me once. The result of a painful
shock that concussed my whole spirit for several years. That was when the
mask grew beneath the surface of my features. It was of course the old
face that died while the new one grew over it like ivy. But it grew
without love; it grew without correction, for the muscles were in spasm,
there had even been a minor fit that affected one side of my face. The
result of stress from the misery of a terrible loss during childhood. The
mask beneath the surface is all I can ever see of myself….

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