Waiting for Godot, over the wall

Godot, over the wall

 

A Luke

B David

Narrator 1- straw hat, summery dress

Narrator 2- sombre colours; wintry effect


Scene:   A country road. A tree. A red ribbon crosses between the audience and the stage, high enough to represent a wall. A chair and something to represent a tree eg a coat-stand with an umbrella and white doctor’s coat.

 

A, in working clothes, sitting; He’s trying to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting. He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again.

 

B, in working clothes, working, ‘planting his beans’ and tending fruit trees. Carrot sticking out of shirt-pocket)

 

Narrator 1: There was once an island on which lived a people no better and no worse than most. They had enough to eat, everyone had a day’s work, which was considered a blessing, the old were looked after (as long as they didn’t outstay their welcome) and the young were respected as individuals, within reason. All this had been so for as long as anyone could remember, and so they hoped it would continue. For, while they were not exactly happy, they were not exactly unhappy, either. And as they said to each other when they bothered to talk about it:

 

 

A: If it was good enough for my father it’s good enough for me. That’s what my father used to say and, it’s what I say too.

 

B: Absolutely. Leave well alone, that’s my motto.

 

A: We should count our blessings. It’s better than it was in the bad old days.

 

B: Mind you, it’s not as good as it was in the good old days.

 

A: But things could always be worse.

 

B: They could always be better, of course.

 

A: But they could always be worse.

 

B: At least we’re allowed to work all day.

 

A: And we’re allowed not to work on Saturday and Sunday.

 

B: And we’ve got the vote. We didn’t have that in the bad old days.

 

A: Women didn’t have it in the good old days.

 

(A stands; both A and B peer in the direction of the wall).

 

Narrator 1: So they counted their blessings and rested content. Now what made this island different from any other you might have in mind was a wall, which ran across the island a bit more than halfway down and which had been there as long as anyone could remember, and as long as anyone they could remember could remember. For ever, in fact, as far as they knew or cared. They called it ‘The Wall’, and if they ever talked about it they said things like –

 

B: There’s always been a Wall and there always will be, that’s the way things are. It’s a fact of nature. There’s nothing you can do about it.

 

A: There must be a purpose in it, that’s what I say. Everything has its purpose: wars, walls, it’s all meant.

 

(B imperiously points; A sits, B in professorial-Attenborough mode)

 

B: There are things beyond us. A higher Wall, I mean, a higher Will. Someone’s in charge up there. The great Wall-Builder in the sky. Leave it to Him, that’s what I say.

 

A: (change hat to cap, pupil-like, raises hand) Or Her.

 

B: Or Her. After all, when you think of us – human beings – crawling on the earth … I mean…It’s not for us to seek to understand the Higher Will.

 

A: (pupil-like,) Of which the Wall is part.

 

B: Of which the Wall is part.

 

(A stands, to audience, back to garden hat)

 

A: It was good enough for my father, and it’s good enough for me. That’s what my father used to say. Leave it at that. Nuff said.

 

(A messes about with his boot; plays ball; B gets back to work, looks at tree)

 

Narrator 1: So they went on with their business, working as they were allowed to work through the week, and on Saturdays and Sundays working, as they were allowed to do, at what they called their leisure activities. And they planted their beans.

 

(A and B go to either end of the stage, standing on the edge looking in different directions)

 

This wall, now, was not quite straight but curved outwards, so that you could never see the two ends of it together. It encircled the whole island. It was high; and how it got there no one knew. There were theories, of course.

 

A: It was built, of course, by invading Martians, to protect them from dinosaurs.

 

B: The wall was pushed up by a volcano…

 

A: The Wall only exists in our minds. If we stopped thinking it was there, it wouldn’t be.

 

Narrator 1: No one could prove this theory wrong.

 

B: I walked into it last night in the dark. (Hat off) Look at the bump on my forehead.

 

A: (Hat off) Psychosomatic. You imagined it was there, so that when you got to where you imagined it was you walked into it and imagined you hurt yourself.

 

B: It still hurts.

 

A: You think it does.

 

Narrator 1: But since it seemed to make not much difference, if you thought you walked into it, whether you were really hurt or only thought you were, people tried not to.

 

B: What do you think is on the other side of the Wall?

 

A: I don’t want to talk about it. I think it’s disgusting. There’s enough nastiness this side of the Wall, never mind the other side of the Wall.

 

B: (looks towards tree) Perhaps it’s like a beautiful garden, with fruit hanging down and pretty flowers. And you don’t have to wear any clothes.

 

A: I think it’s like a sort of ooze, a sort of – like a – ooze, sort of.

 

B: Or nothing.

 

A: Nothing?

 

B: Nothing. Everything finishes at the Wall. Then there’s nothing.

 

A: The fifth dimension.

 

(B points A imperiously to chair)

 

B: (Professorial mode) In other words, it doesn’t exist in there – if one can say “in there” for a “there”   which doesn’t exist and therefore cannot be said to be either in or there. As for  what doesn’t exist …

 

A: (cap; pupil like) It’s like mathematics……

 

B: Like I said nothing.

 

Narrator 1: Or whatever. And so, in short, on the whole, more or less, without splitting hairs, broadly speaking, in a nutshell – they ignored it.

 

B: Just pretend it isn’t there.

 

(A and B turn their back to the wall)

 

Narrator 1: Well, no, they couldn’t do that. Because it was. No, they just … ignored it.

 

A: It’s ridiculous.

 

B: What is?

 

A: It’s stupid. I can’t believe it. It’s preposterous.

 

(And B turn round again)

 

Here we are with a great Wall across the island and we don’t even know why and no one seems to care.

 

B: It’s not for us simple folk to ask why.

 

A: Why not?

 

B: Because we are simple folk, that’s why not.

 

A: I’m not simple, I’m a …rational human being.

 

B: We’re not meant to understand everything, you know.

 

A: Why not? Who says so?

 

B: There’s enough needs putting right this side of the Wall, never mind the other side of the Wall.

 

A: So what do you want me to do? Get on with my work and my leisure activities and stop thinking about it?

 

B: All you do is talk about the Wall. Wall, Wall, Wall, that’s all we ever get from you.

 

A: Ignorance might have been good enough for my father – but it’s not good enough for me!

 

(A and B build up to crescendo)

 

B: Who do you think you are anyway? God or somebody?

 

A: I want to know what’s on the other side!!

 

(B points A imperiously to chair)

 

B: (puts white coat on, as Doctor, A sits on chair) Next please! Well, now, what seems to be the matter with you?

 

A: I’m having a bit of trouble, doctor.

 

B: What sort of trouble? Stick out your tongue.

 

A: It’th about thith wall.

 

B: Put your tongue in.

 

A: It’s about this Wall. All I want to know …

 

B: Sleeping all right, are you? Getting enough sleep?

 

A: I dream about walls. Only no one else seems to be bothered, only me, so I wondered if there’s something wrong with me, or if in fact…

 

B: Eating all right, are you? Got a good appetite, have you?

 

A: Yes, I’m eating. Perhaps, doctor, there’s something wrong with everybody else.

 

B: How are the pains in the leg? Pains in the leg all right?

 

(A and B build up to crescendo)

 

A: They’re fine. I mean, you don’t just ignore something like that. I mean I’m not  simple.  I’m a rational human being and it could be important. I mean look at the stupid thing. I mean look at it, there it is, look, there!

 

B: Any  headache, backache, loss of breath, spots before the eyes, dizzy spells? Falling hair, loss of weight, gain of weight, got a drink problem have you, smoking too much, worrying about the work, about the wife, about where to go for your holiday, about the mortgage, about the cost of living, about the political situation, about your old mother, about the kids, kids not doing well at school, got a drink problem have they, smoking, on drugs are they, suffering from loss of weight, falling hair, got any worries have you?

 

A: Yes!

 

B: Have you seen a psychiatrist?

 

A: (Forlorn) Yes. He said it was my mother.

 

B: Well that’s it, then. Here’s a prescription. Take these four times a day, and if there’s any left over rub it on your chest. Or on your mother’s chest. I don’t care.

 

(B gives A a note)

 

A: What’s wrong with me, doctor?

 

B: Nothing. You’re crazy. Get out, you’re wasting my time.

 

Narrator 1: So he got out, taking his problem with him, and the doctor turned thankfully to the next patient.

 

A: (to audience) I’m going to start an Association For Investigating The Wall In Order To See What’s On The Other Side. The AFITWIOTSWOTOS. Catchy title. Everyone will want to join.

 

Narrator 1: But they didn’t. So he was left alone.  But he didn’t give up.

 

A: (to audience) All right. I’m on my own. But I’m going to find out what’s on the other side of that Wall. If it kills me.

 

(A mimes actions, gets himself in yoga tangle)

 

Narrator 1: And for the next thirty or forty years he did nothing but think about the Wall. He read books, took measurements, drew diagrams, worked out theories, studied history, biology, theology, psychology, astrology, yoga. He lost his friends, of course.

 

B: Oh, don’t invite him. He’ll only talk about the Wall. Wall, Wall, Wall, nothing but Wall! We’re all sick of hearing about the Wall!

 

(A builds and practises with catapult, using hat as rock; sits, becomes rock)

 

Narrator 1: Until finally, old, alone and poor, he decided on the direct approach, and built his great invention: a sort of catapult, quite novel in those times, which could hurl an object, or a person, up to an enormous height. He tried it on a rock, which disappeared into the blue, and then, one day, surrounded by curious bystanders, sat his own skinny, old body where the rock had been.

 

(A rolled into  rock-like)

 

A: Get it ready, then.

 

Narrator 1: They did.

 

A: When I say three, pull and let go. One … two … three … throoww!

 

(B mimes launching catapult; A leaps up; ‘flies’ through audience)

 

B: There he goes! Look at his arms flapping! Bald head shining in the sun! Better than fireworks! Wow!

 

(A ends up at the back of the auditorium, on a chair overlooking the earth…)

 

Narrator 1: Up he went, up, up, up, until looking down, he saw the whole gold of that sunny day, the whole spread of the earth and seas, saw the tiny moving figures of people and the infinite distances of space. And it looked good.

 

A:I’m up! I’m over! I can see! I can see over! It’s … It’s … It’s … Aaah! (fade)

 

(A jumps from chair, lands)

 

(Pause)

 

B: What’s it like over there?

 

(from the back of the auditorium)

 

A: It’s just the same.

 

B: The same? What can you see?

 

A: Nothing.

 

B: Nothing?

 

A:  Nothing.

 

B: So what do we do now?

 

A. Nothing. Nothing to be done.

 

B: Nothing? I’m beginning to come round to that opinion. All my life I’ve tried to put it from me, saying: be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. And so I go on with the struggle. (goes off)

 

(Narrator 1 goes off and is replaced by Narrator 2)

 

Narrator 2: So they went on with their separate lives …doing nothing in particular. Hoping that something, one day, might come of nothing. Something – or someone – would turn up. And after wandering far and wide, high and low, they came back to where they had started.

 

(A and B come back on stage, more crumpled than before, in more wintry garb; A  sits; he tries  to take off his boot. He pulls at it with both hands, panting. He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again).

 

B: So there you are again.

 

A: Am I?

 

B: I’m glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.

 

A: Me too.

 

B: Together again! We’ll have to celebrate this. But how?  Get up. Let me embrace you.

 

A: Not now, not now.

 

B: May I inquire where you spent the night?

 

A: In a ditch.

 

B: A ditch! Where?

 

A: Over there.

 

B: And they didn’t beat you?

 

A: Beat me? Of course they beat me.

 

B: The same lot as usual?

 

A: The same? I don’t know.

 

B: When I think of it . . . all these years . . . but for me . . . where would you be. You’d be nothing more than a little heap of bones at the present minute, no doubt about it.

 

A: And so?

 

B:  It’s too much for one man.

 

A: Or woman!

 

B: On the other hand, what’s the good of losing heart now, that’s what I say. We should have thought of it a million years ago, in the nineties.

 

A: Oh, shut up and help me off with this bloody thing.

 

B: We were respectable in those days. Now it’s too late. What are you doing?

 

A: Taking off my boot.

 

B: Boots must be taken off every day, I’m tired of telling you that. Why don’t you listen to me?

 

A: Help me!

 

B: Does it hurt?

 

A:  Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!

 

B: No one ever suffers but you. I don’t count. I’d like to hear what you’d say if you had what I have.

 

A: (looks B up and down) Does it hurt?

 

B: Hurts! He wants to know if it hurts!

 

(A notices B’s open flies)

 

A: You might button it all the same.

 

B: True.

 

A: Never forget the little things in life. You always wait till the last moment.

 

B: The last moment. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today, who said that?

 

A: Why don’t you help me?

 

(A manages to take off his boot)

 

B: Sometimes I feel weird. Funny. Well?

 

A: (looking inside boot) Nothing.

B: Show me.

A: There’s nothing to show.

B: Put it on again.

A: (waves boot and foot around) I’ll air it for a bit.

B: There’s man all over for you, blaming his boots for the faults of his feet.

A: Or her feet…

B: This is getting worrying.

(Pause)

A: People are bloody stupid.

B: Pah!

(Pause)

A:  Charming spot. Lovely view. (Pause) Let’s go. (Makes to go)

B: We can’t.

A: Why not?

B: We’re waiting for Godot.

A: Ah! (Pause) You’re sure it was here?

B: What?

A: That we were to wait.

B: He said by the tree. Do you see any others?

A: What is it?

(B goes to tree)

B: I don’t know. A willow.

A: Where are the leaves?

B: It must be dead.

A: No more weeping.

B: Or perhaps it’s not the season.

A: Looks more like a bush to me.

B: What are you suggesting? That we’ve come to the wrong place?

A: He should be here.

B: He didn’t say for sure he’d come.

A: And if he doesn’t come?

B: We’ll come back tomorrow.

A: And then the day after tomorrow.

B: Possibly.

A: And so on.

B: The point is—

A: Until he comes. (Pause) We came here yesterday.

B: Ah no, we didn’t.

A: What did we do yesterday?

B: What did we do yesterday?

A: (Pause) Nothing. Yes. Nothing.

B: We…we… . . . Nothing is certain when you’re about.

A: In my opinion, we were here.

B: You recognize the place?

A: I didn’t say that.

B: . . . that tree . . . that ditch . . .

A: You’re sure it was this evening?

B: What?

A: That we were to wait.

B: He said Saturday.  I think.

A: You think.

B: I must have made a note of it.

A: (Insidious) But what Saturday? And is it Saturday? Isn’t it Sunday? Or Monday? Or Friday?

B: It’s not possible!

A: Or Thursday?

B: What’ll we do?

A: Nothing. If he came yesterday and we weren’t here you may be sure he won’t come again today.

B: But you say we were here yesterday.

A: I may be mistaken. Let’s stop talking for a minute, do you mind?

B: All right.

(A sits, rolled into ball, sleeps; B gazes blankly at tree)

Narrator 2: So they drifted off, quietly, going their own lonely, silent way; they counted no sheep, they counted no blessings; they slept, as there was nothing to be done: no work to complete, no beans to plant.

A: (waking) I had a dream!

B: Don’t tell me!

A: I dreamt that…

B: DON’T TELL ME!

A:  (Pause) This is enough for you? (Silence.) It’s not nice of you. Who am I to tell my nightmares to if I can’t tell them to you?

B: You know I can’t bear nightmares.

(A stands, makes to go)

A: There are times when I wonder if it wouldn’t be better for us to part.

B: You wouldn’t go far.

A: (stops in his tracks) That would be too bad, really too bad. (excited) Wouldn’t it, be really too bad? When you think of the beauty of the way. And the goodness of the people on the way. Wouldn’t it?

 

(B points A imperiously to chair)

 

B: (Hypnotizing A) Calm yourself. Calm. Calm…Calm…

A:  (sits) Calm . . . calm

(A Sits as B exits hurriedly. A gets up and follows him as far as the limit of the stage. B with back to audience hands crossed in front of him. Gestures of A like those of a spectator encouraging a pugilist. Enter B. He brushes past A, crosses the stage with bowed head. A takes a step towards him, halts).

A: (from a distance) You wanted to speak to me? You had something to say to me?

B:  I’ve nothing to say to you.

A: (Pause; steps forward). You’re angry? (steps forward) Forgive me.  (steps forward) Come. Give me your hand. (step forward) Embrace me! Don’t be stubborn! (They embrace awkwardly).

(In stage whisper; staccato)

B: Listen!

A: I hear …nothing.

B: Shhh! Yes. Nothing.

A: You gave me a fright.

B: I thought it was him.

A: Who?

B: Godot.

A: The wind.

B: I am sure I heard shouts.

A: And why would he shout?

B: At his horse.

(A sits, fiddles with boot, peers inside; doesn’t put it on; B gazes at tree)

Narrator 2: But no horse came. There was no horse. They had imagined it. But then they  thought of food. That was real enough. Gone was the time when they had had enough to eat, everyone had a day’s work, which was considered a blessing, the old were looked after (as long as they didn’t outstay their welcome) and the young were respected as individuals, within reason.

(Narrator 2 exits)

A: I’m hungry!

B: Do you want a carrot?

A: Is that all there is? Give me a carrot.

B: Wait, I have it. (takes carrot from shirt-pocket) There, dear fellow.  Make it last, that’s the end of them.

A: I asked you a question. (munches carrot)

B: Ah.

A: (doubtful) Did you reply?

B: How’s the carrot?

A: (munches) It’s a carrot.

B: So much the better, so much the better. What was it you wanted to know?

A: I’ve forgotten. That’s what annoys me. (Munches) I’ll never forget this carrot. (munches) Ah yes, now I remember.

B: Well?

A: Nothing to be done. (He proffers the remains of the carrot to B.) Like to finish it?

(Four knocks are heard. Repeated 4 times. Beethoven’s 5th,. A drops the carrot. They remain motionless, then together make a sudden rush towards the wings. A stops halfway, runs back, picks up the carrot, stuffs it in his pocket, runs to rejoin B who is waiting for him, umbrella open, stops again, runs back, picks up his boot, runs to rejoin B. Huddled together, behind B’s umbrella, shoulders hunched, cringing away from the menace, they wait, peeping out cautious; B suddenly throws umbrella down)

 

(from this point to the end, A and B do not make eye contact)

A: What’s wrong with you?

B: Nothing.

A: I’m going (makes to go)

B: So am I (makes to go)

A: (stops) Where shall we go?

B: Not far.

A: Oh yes, let’s go far away from here (makes to go)

B: We can’t.

A: (stops) Why not?

B: We have to come back tomorrow.

A: What for?

B: To wait for Godot.

A: Ah! He didn’t come.

B: No.

A: And now it’s too late.

B: Yes, now it’s night.

A: And if we gave up?

B: He’d punish us. Everything’s dead but the tree.

A: What is it?

B: It’s the tree.

A: Yes, but what kind?

B: I don’t know. A willow.

(Pause)

A: Why don’t we hang ourselves?

B: With what?

A: You haven’t got a bit of rope?

B: No.

A: Then we can’t.

B: Let’s go. (makes to go)

A: Wait, there’s my belt.

B: (stops) It’s too short.

A: You could hang onto my legs.

B: And who’d hang onto mine?

A: True.

B: Show me. It might do. But is it strong enough?

(A loosens the red belt  that holds up his trousers which, much too big for him, fall about his ankles. They look at the belt.)

 

A: We’ll soon see. Here.

 

(They each take an end of the belt and pull. It breaks. They almost fall).

 

B: Not worth it! (gives back to A his half of belt)

A: You say we have to come back tomorrow?

B: Yes.

A: Then we can bring a long rope.

B: Yes.

(Pause)

A: You know…

B: Yes?

A: I can’t go on like this.

B: That’s what you think.

A: If we parted? That might be better for us.

B: We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow. Unless Godot comes.

A: And if he comes?

B: We’ll be saved.

(B takes off his hat peers inside it, feels about inside it, shakes it, knocks on the crown, puts it on again)

.

A: Well? Shall we go? (picks up boot; makes to go)

B: Pull up your trousers.

A: What?

B: Pull up your trousers.

A: You want me to take off my trousers?

B: Put ON your trousers.

A: (realizing his trousers are down). True. (He pulls up his trousers).

B: Well? Shall we go? (makes to go)

A: Yes, let’s go. (makes to go)

They do not move. Five seconds, Hang head and arm,  like puppets.

 

 END

 

 

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