Acknowledging Samuel (Beckett)
Waiting on the Crone in Two Acts
A young mother
A wooden ladder
Over the hill
A hay bale
The Maiden, youthful and energetic, carries a wooden ladder into the barn.
Enter Traveling Crone
Maiden: (with spark). I want to go into the city. There is so much to see. I am done with the farm, at last.
Traveling Crone: (indifferent but wise) I wouldn’t think that. But that’s your choice. There’s much to choose from.
Maiden: But I only want to see the world, to travel and see new places. What else can be so magnificent? (removes her hands from the ladder, turns towards the Traveling Crone)
Traveling Crone: There is that and that and that.
Maiden: (walking with a bounce, shaving the distance between her and the Traveling Crone, jumps up on the hay bale) Like that? What is that and that and that?
Traveling Crone: Acts I, II and III. Midpoint, too. Beginning, middle and end, Morning, afternoon and night. Birth, life and death. Those are the basics but you can do much with them.
Maiden: What can I do with them?
Traveling Crone: (continuing) With midpoint, you awaken, you begin to become who you are. You can elongate Act I. You can create mini-dramas within your drama. But at midpoint, you really need to get on or get off.
Maiden: I haven’t a family and I want to see the world. Am I at midpoint?
Traveling Crone: No, that comes later. Tell me the story of the mother.
Enter boy and girl
Maiden: (looking at the children) Who are they?
Traveling Crone: They must be yours.
Maiden: How can they be mine?
Traveling Crone: Because they’re in Act I of your story. Look! (scans the pasture, points to the barn) There’s no other storyteller. They can only have come from your story. You’re the only one.
Boy: (approaches the Maiden) Mother?
Traveling Crone: See?
Girl: (joyous) Mother!
Traveling Crone: Are you beginning to awaken? Beginning to know who you are? You’re about to enter Act II.
Maiden: No, I’m youthful. I will always be young.
Traveling Crone: Your children are young.
Maiden: They are mine? How did you know?
The glowworm slips through hay bale. The children rush to see.
Girl: What is it, mommy?
Curious, the girl cradles the glowworm in her hands. The boy stands distant.
Maiden: (to the boy) Come and see!
Traveling Crone: They come to you. You call them. You are their mother. Yours is a glowing story.
Maiden: The glowworm is my story, too?
Traveling Crone: (holds up a clump of dirt) The glowworm belongs to the earth. (places the clump of dirt on the ground) The earth is your story.
Maiden: (the girl lays the glowworm in the clump of dirt) You said the children are my story.
Traveling Crone: The children live on the earth. The glowworm lives in the earth and burrows through the dirt to make passages for plants and weaves fine silk.
Maiden: The plants are my story? Fine silk is my story?
Traveling Crone: The pasture and all the grasses and all the animals and all the people are your story. (looks to the sky, stars, the rising moon, the setting sun). And all the silk and fine things. And all above. All below, the cetaceans.
The Maiden begins to laugh, begins to cry. Tears of happiness roll down her cheeks. When she wrings her face, tears scatter. Landing on the ground, they make a pond. The Maiden jumps back, scared. Her children gather around her.
Maiden: What is happening to me?
Traveling Crone: Your story is unfolding. You are awakening. You are not yet awake. You have many roads to travel to fully awaken. You will awaken more at midpoint.
Maiden: But now. Who am I?
Traveling Crone: Can’t you see?
Maiden: My powers are strange. They overwhelm me.
Traveling Crone: Stories are like that. Stories are journeys. In this part of your story, you will journey with your children on the earth because that’s who you are.
Maiden: (tentatively) I’m the Earth?
Traveling Crone: You are the Earth Mother. Your tears make the water.
Maiden: But I want to see the world!
(sounds of gunshots over the hill, frenzied traders bidding for commodities)
Maiden: (shaking) What’s that?
Traveling Crone: That’s the world. That’s another part of your story.
Maiden: That can’t be! That’s not my story.
Traveling Storyteller: Your story is vast. The noisemakers are your children, too. I’m getting tired. I have to lie down. I’m going to leave you now.
(sounds of gunshots, frenzied traders come closer, the hill moves menacingly towards the Maiden and her children)
Maiden: The world’s coming. Who will help us?
Girl: I will, mother.
Boy: Me, too.
Maiden: (holds her children) Am I to protect them?
Traveling Crone: Before you start Act II, you must end Act I. You are actually quite young but you must leave your youth to become a mother. You will use all of your powers in Act III.
Maiden: Will I be a mother in Act III or will I return to my youth? I will have to be strong and vibrant.
Traveling Crone: More than that.
Maiden: What can be more than strength and youth?
Traveling Crone: To become wise, you must exhaust your strength and your youth. Before that, you will go through much anguish. (pauses) The world will come against you because you are not awake in the world. You are only awake in the first part of your story. You have not awakened in the world. You are not yet wise. (with emphasis of a wise one) At the end of Act III, you will raise up all of your children the plants, the animals, water, the atmosphere. You will be young and strong and wise. The Sun and the moon will be our your allies. In the end, you and all your creation will glow. Then, you will be wisdom.
Maiden: (anxious) Until then?
Traveling Crone: Before that, the world will come against all of your creation.
(the pasture catches fire, flames leap out of the barn)
Maiden: How do you know?
Traveling Crone: Your story is my story. I’m Act III. Now I must go see your other children, the ones over the hill.
Maiden: Help me!
Traveling Crone: (with wisdom, exiting) I have and I will.
Mid-morning. A young mother plays with her children in the pasture. The sun is bright, the moon halfway in the sky, the horizon aglow with the sounds of frenzied battle and greedy traders.
~ Stephen J. Bergstrom