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  • whatdoesfreemean?
  • Catherine Filloux (bio)

Cast of Characters

Mary, a black woman

Ann / c.o.1 / c.o.2 / c.o.3 / Air-Duct Voice / Lincoln / Merton / Miss Pierotti / Mom / Mouse / Nick / Parole Board Director / Shanna / The Floater. Roles are divided among five actors.

Setting

Time is fluid; locales are suggested.

one: nick’s dream

A silhouette of Lincoln reaches out to sign a paper.

mary

[emerging from a forest] I tried to run away.

lincoln

Now therefore I, Abraham Lincoln...

mary

Hid in the forest . . .

lincoln

. . . do order and declare...

mary

. . . in the big pine trees.

lincoln

... this proclamation . . .

mary

At night runnin’ North.

lincoln

. . . that all persons held as slaves are henceforward . . .

mary

But my legs gave up. And Massa caught me.

lincoln

. . . free forever.

mary

Shackled me, scars on my wrists, and on my back where I can’t see ’em.

lincoln

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand. [exits]

mary

[no longer in the forest] A free moment in the sun . . . ? Emancipation?

A video projection reveals that the ground has pennies scattered all over it; the dream is over. [End Page 37]

two: general population

mary

[in the prison library with her friend Ann; c.o.2 watches as Mary reads from a test booklet] “Based on the 1945 map of Colonialism in Africa, the two groups holdin’ the most control at this time were—”

ann

[coughing intermittently throughout the scene] The White Man and the White Man.

mary

Ha-ha, no. “A. The Spanish and French. B. French and British. C. British and Portuguese. D. Portuguese and Italians.”

ann

Okay, the Italians, the Mob.

mary

The Mob?

ann

If it’s not the White Man, it’s the Mob.

mary

But what about the Portuguese?

ann

Not sure—I suck at this . . .

mary

They’re clumped together, Ann. Remember our colored map?

ann

The blue and red had the most sections covered.

mary

Right!

ann

Shit, I can’t remember what the blue and red stood for.

mary

Okay, what makes you think of the French?

ann

I don’t know, what makes you think of the French? Toast?

mary

[sketching a map] Here on the map is French Toast.

ann

I’m toast.

mary

Come on, what makes you think of the British?

ann

Fuck. The Queen?

mary

Here’s the Fuckin’ Queen. [handing her the drawing] Just do whatever you need to remember.

ann

Okay, now you. “Greek mythology uses characters to teach; and characters face moral dilemmas involving honor. The protagonists face challenges such as temptation—”

mary

[sketching to help herself remember] Can you slow down?

ann

“How has mythology evolved with new storytellers? Scholars maintain universal values, while adapting stories to their distinct cultures. It’s up to readers to seek their own truth—learn. According to the author, which is a message from Greek mythology?”

mary

Oh no. [End Page 38]

ann

It’s easy. “A. Love lasts if lovers are meant to be together. B. Resisting temptation yields ultimate success. C. Keep track of personal history. D. Not the fastest, but the longest, wins the race.”

mary

This is CRAZY.

ann

“Just do whatever you need to remember.”

mary

I get nervous even thinkin’ about it.

ann

It’s obvious—want me to read it again?

mary

JUST GIVE ME A CLUE.

ann

[singing a song by The Temptations] “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. . .”

mary

[looking at notes] “Resistin’ temptation yields ultimate success.”

ann

It’s like a secret code. Teach, moral, honor, they even use the word temptation. This doesn’t have anything to do with the Greeks, has to do with the author—the ones writing the test. And they’re writing it in code—you gotta crack the code.

mary

Then why can’t YOU crack the code of Colonialism?

ann

I don’t remember pictures, just words. [they sit in silence; Ann writes]

mary

[sketching] Wanted to ask for so long . . . didn’t know how. . . Why didn’t you get manslaughter? [they don’t look at each other]

ann

No, no, no!

mary

He used you as his punchin’ bag.

ann

[changing the subject] I’m never going to pass this...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 37-62
Launched on MUSE
2020-08-05
Open Access
No
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