Hands

Hand.jpeg

(At opening, the stage is dark except for a puppet theatre with an ornate frame for its proscenium stage and a black backdrop; VLADIMIR is the unseen puppeteer.)

(Two disembodied hands appear, brightly illuminated and pale against the darkness, LEFT and RIGHT, at opposite sides of the stage. They are the actual hands of the unseen PUPPETEER. A disembodied voice (not VLADIMIR) or electronic light begins counting, starting at 100. The counting continues throughout the scene. The HANDS turn away from each other and engage in a slow dance in time to the count, shifting vertically and horizontally forward and back, up and down, but never approaching each other. Neither do they “see” each other.

(LEFT accidentally peeks at RIGHT and turns quickly away. Music begins and the count continues. RIGHT dances, oblivious. LEFT looks again, and again; stops moving; watches; exits.

(RIGHT expands her dance, moving for the first time beyond the strict linear plane that has hitherto restricted her motions. Balls of light fall. RIGHT chases them, catches, tosses them back, tosses some toward the audience. She sings.)

RIGHT.

Free, free,

Just me,

All alone,

I’m free.

(The count has reached 75.)

(RIGHT takes a bow, several times, as blood-red petals fall. Unseen by her, LEFT enters, behind, holding a gun. Shoots RIGHT. Blood. RIGHT dances wildly, evading bullets. LEFT continues shooting.)

RIGHT.

Can’t get me.

Can’t get me.

Free free.

Can’t get me.

(LEFT kills RIGHT. She collapses, centre, quivers, dies. The count has now reached 50. The upper edge of the proscenium rises to reveal VLADIMIR, the long-nosed puppet, dressed in black, whose hands are LEFT and RIGHT. LEFT considers the gun; approaches RIGHT’s body, verifies her death. Points the gun into the audience, then at VLADIMIR’s face. Performs a strutting dance, singing.)

LEFT.

I’m always jealous.

That’s just my way.

She was too good for me.

And so she had to pay.

(Shoots VLADIMIR. More red petals fall. VLADIMIR collapses, face down, on top of both hands. Snow begins to fall. Proscenium decouples to reveal the PUPPETEER in black. The count has now reached 30.)

PUPPETEER.

This happens every time. Look at these two hands. They fit together. They’re quite elegant, don’t you think? LEFT and RIGHT, RIGHT and LEFT, each with an opposing thumb. I love these hands. See how nicely they get along? When I make them clap, they clap. (Claps.) When they clasp – like this – it’s as if they’re embracing. Celebrating. Praying. Making love.

They can dance together too. Look! Look! They’re happy!

(The two hands dance together.)

(The count ends.)

And yet. And yet.

(Black.)

I don’t know why.

END

SketchesA Printer's Son