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Theater 30.2 (2000) 92-103

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Romeo Sierra Tango * - [PDF]

Rinde Eckert
With Additional Text by Shakespeare


IMAGE LINK= IMAGE LINK= IMAGE LINK= Lights come up on a raised platform covered in crumpled brown paper. Wads of brown paper obscure the facing on the downstage edge. The platform has two shallow trenches within it. White shirts are scattered about the platform. As he speaks, the actor is seen making final preparations--he is dressed only in Skivvies with a muddy white shirt tied by the sleeves around his waist, making a thin skirt. He is covered in not yet dry clay. He dons a World War I ammunition belt and slips under a length of brown white paper.

Romeo reminds me of America, its reckless naïveté, its youthful vigor, its dangerous enthusiasms, its exaggerated self-importance. But while I can imagine a more mature, wiser America, Romeo remains fixed in his deluded solipsism, an obnoxious violent fool, masquerading as a lover. Romeo is no good to me like that. So I resurrect him--have him wake up months later in the tomb. I see him open his uncomprehending eyes, stir, begin to realize his situation. There he is lying next to the decomposing body of Juliet. He's covered in beetle dung. He's gagging on the putrid air. I see him claw his way out and stagger off. I make him slow to age, the ironic side effect of the Apothecary's deceptive drug. I give him centuries to age and think it over. Then I plop him in No Man's Land; wake him up in World War I, once again taken for dead, caught once again between the warring houses.

He wakes up under a sheet of crumpled paper. He wads the paper up and tears it to shreds as he stands. He picks up a bayonet and a clump of [End Page 93] muddy military straps. He wails in sporadic bursts as he puts the muddy straps on his head like strange dreadlocks. He smears clay from the headdress while he wails. He brandishes his bayonet. He stops.

Ah! Another day.
Hum? What is that smell?
Gas? Lime? Seared flesh? Pulverized bone rising like a fine dust into the yellow air?

He tastes his knife.

Not my blood.
My blood tastes like cheap vinegar.
Old blood.
What? Quiet now, the world.
And there was such a lot of noise just a moment ago.
The rain has stopped.
The mud is drying.
Caissons already retreated with the salvageable dead,
rolling along behind the deaf, tired horses.
Leaving me among the lost.
At last a measure of privacy.
After the big push of the day, shoulder to shoulder, over the top.

Ah the heavens
the myriad stars
the sun
the planets
the earth
the cities and towns
the dark seas
the rock and ore
the subterranean rivers
the deep molten core

They should be settling into their nests, the snipers
the beautifully green boys
Both houses
nests of green boys with fire in their bellies
scanning the horizon for the brazen white swans

and me without my magic charms
me with my thin blood
my weak heart
no stomach for it anymore.

My intentions were good
my reasoning flawed
my impulse was right
my timing awful
my heart was full
my head was slow, painfully, humanly, tragically slow.
I musn't raise my voice
or you will think me mad.
I musn't raise my voice
or the argument will be lost in the well of feeling.

I musn't raise my voice
lest I provoke a violent reaction
a wild bullet
from the quick unreasoning hands of a youngster.
A youngster,
sixteen and too brave or scared to death and fueled by rage
and holding the hostile answer, holding the loud, booming, banging
lie of release in his bloody power, in his bloody grasp, [End Page 94]
the obvious choice, so bloody obvious.

He brandishes his bayonet.

Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!
Schießen Sie! Schieße!
Putain de salaud.

He laughs. He waggles his bayonet.
I'm sorry...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 92-103
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Archived 2005
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