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ACT ONE Prologue A crash of finger cymbals. A sitar. A nagaswaram. A didgeridoo. A kazoo. A television screen or video projection. Or a hologram, that’d be nice. SCHOLAR WITH A QUIRT Welcome to Kalidasa’s Abhijnanasakuntala Shakuntala Remembering. This is the world’s story, though it comes from India. Indeed, Kalidasa who wrote this story, though he didn’t invent it, lived in India, though it was not India in his day, but rather a Gupta kingdom, though it is possible that Kalidasa lived some time before the Guptas, even a considerable amount of time by some accounts before the beginning of the Common Era, though there’s no way to be certain of that fact for sure is so beloved by Indians that he is known throughout India as “The Indian Shakespeare.” But the evidence doesn’t suggest he’s that old. This is a story of universal themes: love, betrayal, pride, repentance, and amnesia. In the play, which, for obvious reasons, is a translation, a young woman is seduced by a king. But this is no ordinary translation, and no ordinary seduction. The two really are in love. Their alliance is, indeed, an honorable marriage, much, we may say, like the marriage of Aeneas and Dido, or like David and Bathsheba. A child is conceived. A promise made. A ring given. An elephant goes mad. These common experiences are here woven together in a narrative weft of singular quality, richness, texture, intimacy, and sensation. Indeed, we may call this play a tapestry. A tapestry of tastes. In the play you will see the conflict of the classes, the battle of the sexes, the decadence of royalty, the plight of the poor, and the pristine quality of a priestly caste all the characteristics of an India that is not only shrouded in the perfumed smoke of the age old ages, but of an India that is alive and glowing just the other side of a world which is spinning counter clockwise into a profound darkness so that we might look towards the sunrise in the East for the light. But we might have questions, too. Is our delicate heroine a standard bearer for the displaced rights of India’s fifth caste? Just where did Kalidasa stand with respect to the Muslim question? And what of lepers? Is the absence of the presence of Calcutta’s major minority proof indeed that the play was composed in Benares, or Varanasi, or Kashi? Perhaps the play asks more questions than it answers. If so, it is just another of this play’s this paragon of play’s exquisite and uniquely Indian complications, the kind in which India, a land famed for the coexistence of its extremes, so delights... Video image begins to fade. Or an OLD MAN in a dhoti wheels the TV out. Or R2D2 snaps off the hologram.
This Is Shakuntala
… bordered as it is on the North and South by extremes of heat and cold, between blistering jungles and boiling deserts, situated beside mountains and seashore, by the sea, by the beautiful sea... KRISHNA, wearing a businessman’s glasses and a power tie, stands up among the audience. KRISHNA Where’s the antelope? Shakuntala opens with an antelope. Where is the antelope? SCHOLAR WITH A QUIRT comes back. SCHOLAR WITH A QUIRT Let us keep in mind that India is very old, as is a considerable number of its artistic products, and that age can prove daunting. The Unternational Centre for Theatre Manthropology, which underwrites this performance, is committed to transmitting the cultural products of India, rather than translating them. To this end one may notice if one plays close attention, that we have altered slightly the traditional rendering of the story in order to make it more accessible to the average audience. KRISHNA What is inaccessible about an antelope? SCHOLAR WITH A QUIRT Hence, this production imagines a Shakuntala which speaks to the contemporary Western mind... Video goes out again. KRISHNA Transmission? This is a cultural heritage you’re making an outwardly mockery of. I’m ringing the manager... KRISHNA makes his way to the aisle. Oh, let’s see what I’ll do. I’ll stage a Midsummer Night’s Dream and make Quint and Bottom Abbot and Costello and trade all the lovers for the cast of Gilmore Girls. And the fairies baap re don’t get me started. So many possibilities. I will make them Indians of the Native American variety. Or maybe Mexican immigrants. Oh, I know, I know, I will set the entire thing in Arkansas with hillbilly mechanicals and the space aliens as fairies! KRISHNA goes out. Darkness. Scene 1 ENGLISHMAN and DUHSHANTA in a red, radio flyer wagon before a very large and noisy fan. DUHSHANTA stands in the back, chin up, sporting a peacock feather crown, MacArthur sunglasses and pipe, white scarf, billowing in the fan wind, and jodhpurs. ENGLISHMAN sits in the front, miserably. DUHSHANTA ROW! ENGLISHMAN I’m wet. DUHSHANTA ROW!
This Is Shakuntala ENGLISHMAN There’s more of the black sea rolling in the boat than out. The polar wind cuts through the bulwarks and my bones And pries my organs open to the steel spray of the sea. Ice is fasting to my hair and chin. In three days I’ve not had a drink But passing ice more than not gagged with salt. I’ve slept only in delirium these past eight days Since eyes left closed a moment stick tight shut. DUHSHANTA Row on, Smithers! I’ll tie you to a millstone and heave you overboard. ENGLISHMAN Hah! I’m in this boat for the duration, Your Highness. The rowing blisters on my bottom have burst and worn away. My flesh is frozen straight to the bench beneath me. Not have I since we put out from blue Mumbai... DUHSHANTA Call it right! ENGLISHMAN Who calls it but who’s there, hm? We’ll call these gunwales Bombay by all rights, The crusted bow and damp, cold planks, our socks, perhaps, The slim solid ground we only occupy And yet our sad wake before it’s slipped back into sea That’s Bombay but not beyond DUHSHANTA Row. ENGLISHMAN Pulling, pulling, pulling Souther than I thought there was Into field sized fields of floating ice and shellacking weather To the Pole! DUHSHANTA THE POLE! ENGLISHMAN To the Pole, he cries. Lean into the waves. My bleeding gums are my one consolation Since they signal the onset of scurvy. With any luck I’ll be dead in a week, At least unable to bear movement in my joints Or weight on my bones, Incapacitated by default. I’ll lie then in this boat with the black waves above me Roll in this boat over black waves and brine, Blasted by sleet and bleeding beneath my crackled cover Until this boat and king hate my weight.
This Is Shakuntala Then he’ll probably eat me. DUHSHANTA We’ll dine at The Pole, Watson! Slake our churning yearning On an ice throne At the end of the meridians With a caper in one hand Curd in the other A mouthful of Apple Brown Betty And an eye unblinking north on the slinking scalliwags toasting their tight brotherhood Row on! ENGLISHMAN Bloody well said, sir! DUHSHANTA Onward! ENGLISHMAN Tallyho! DUHSHANTA Hold on there! ENGLISHMAN stops rowing. DUHSHANTA falls over in the wagon and points over the side. What say you? ENGLISHMAN Hard to mistake two hundred and fifty thousand square miles of floating ice. Looks like the Ross Ice Shelf to me. DUHSHANTA I’m teary. Remove your hat for our national anthem. ENGLISHMAN Lost my hat to a Weddell seal a thousand miles ago. DUHSHANTA Singing, à la “America the Beautiful” or “God Save the King” or something.. ANTARCTICA, ANTARCTICA OUR BLESS’D GONDWANALAND YOUR WHITE CLIFFS AND YOUR GLACIERS UNTOUCHED BY HUMAN HANDS RECEIVE US AND DRY FREEZE US PRESERVE US IN YOUR SUN AND KEEP US ALWAYS NEW AS THEE OUR HOME PRECAMBRIAN
This Is Shakuntala ENGLISHMAN Fat lot of good it does us now that our teeth are falling out from scurvy. DUHSHANTA The sere state of the homeless, but There’s a way through scurvy, Pancho. That affliction of the tissues, The crumbled capillaries and purple flesh, The lethargy of joint and limb, The hair, the mind, gone pale and dumb This stagnation of spirit’s an old human fault Woven deep within our DNA. Man’s system, you see, though tuned to millions of cellular miracles Fails to manufacture sufficient vitamines, Organic plaster and molding, so to speak, Which when man misses in diet, he dies, Like a plate of ice drifted too far Towards the belt and withered by degrees to nothing. HOWEVER: How well do you know your Antarctic fauna? ENGLISHMAN I can tell a seal from a penguin. What else is down here? DUHSHANTA Turn your sights to about 2 o’clock on the shelf. ENGLISHMAN Ah, yes. I see what you mean. DUHSHANTA What is it? ENGLISHMAN Well, pretty plain, I’d say. Upright, though rather squat. Beak. Apparently flightless. Good chance it’s a penguin. DUHSHANTA jumps up. Watson, we’ll have that bird! ENGLISHMAN If you’ll pardon my saying so, sir... DUHSHANTA No time for chit chat. Getting food. ENGLISHMAN Very good, sir. ENGLISHMAN pulls the oars. DUHSHANTA AND ENGLISHMAN Singing in two part harmony, à la “Praise to the Man” or “XXX Aberdeen” or something.. PRAISE TO ANTARCTICA THE NEW LAND OF PROMISE
This Is Shakuntala GLASSY AND PRISTINE IT LIES ABOUT THE POLE LONG MAY ITS GLACIERS AND ICE CAP BE SACRED EVER THE LANGUISHING PLANET’S WHITE STONE HAIL TO ANTARCTICA THE LAST OF THE CONTINENTS NATIONS AND EMPIRES NOW SEEK THEE IN VAIN BLESS’D TO ENGENDER THE LAST DISPENSATION HENCEFORTH, FOREVER, THE WORLD’S AVOWED THRONE The wagon strikes the ice shelf. DUHSHANTA stumbles. DUHSHANTA Do you have the camera? ENGLISHMAN Lost at sea. DUHSHANTA Blast. Well, break out the charcoals, then. I’m stepping onto the shelf and I want this moment recorded for posterity. DUHSHANTA steps onto the ice. In nomine patri, et filii, et apne atman. ENGLISHMAN Blast the ceremonics sieze the bird! DUHSHANTA grabs ENGLISHMAN and yanks him from the wagon. DUHSHANTA Blast your eyes, there’s time to eat, don’t you see? Hold this moment just one moment! We’re at the root of the world, The footing of the sphere From here form and emanate the several elements This smooth blank field sinks miles down And masses so its slick weight Ice atoms bend warm beneath the strain Their fine shells crack and into a vast sub sea of matter Spill their particular guts, which churn and burn, Then flow together into unnamed combinations Earth itself circulates the soup Spinning newformed atoms out into the sodden ocean Or belching the plasma skyward to drift northward in swollen clouds Look, there’s a smokestack just there, Its sides cleared of ice and blackened by its warm vomit Blowing the stuff of things to the air
receive the tired and poor. DUHSHANTA Such a bird. new soil and sod. Slide the snow and ice into the southern seas. the sloped shoulders. Then while we see the great white continent gleam green We’ll see the northern surface unrenewed submit to the creep of crystal In a generation the face of the earth above will shine a sea of glass. The little mister’s just standing there. Look at the girth. The picked on. 7 . DUHSHANTA We will set our throne at the Pole and there At Earth’s one fixed point. the airs. Declare a universal amnesty. the penguin. All the disparate blocks of being which give difference This more than any northward land is mother earth ENGLISHMAN I’m still going to have to take a dump on it sometime. the ethers. DUHSHANTA Of course he is we’re not hunting antelope. I can tell you. Flags of every northward nation Pitched on the very masts they drew leaping here before the wind ENGLISHMAN Sweet Jeremy Toad. Penguins have no land predators. I’m standing on it. Slow the mix and flow of matter. it’s all the same. ain’t I? We don’t fill this bird with any more anxiety than you’d feel at the approach of a block of cheese. Relieve the cap continent of its weight. Such human weight and manner about it. ENGLISHMAN Right now a block of cheese would fill me with something quite different than anxiety. And THEN! will there be below a fair world Walked over by the small and simple Knowing each by name The uncolored country will flicker with a thousand flames. The Ross Shelf is floating. DUHSHANTA Oh.This Is Shakuntala This pitch wanders the atmosphere and seas Until it settles. Et cetera. DUHSHANTA takes the penguin by the wing and walks with it. Here are forged the several stones. the vacuous black eyes. ENGLISHMAN We’re not on land. DUHSHANTA goes the the penguin. and worn and warped. stone and sand. The coded molecules of you and me. Those glossed into hurdled masses And when the pressed upon have in their billions here assembled We’ll shave away in shoveling mobs the layers of this polar plateau.
8 . Evening. DUHSHANTA puts a brotherly arm over the tent spike in the penguin’s head as PARK RANGER walks out of the blowing ice. PARK RANGER Afternoon. Tonto? Man’s a peculiar beast. meaning it is reserved for the habitat of universal animals. DUHSHANTA Is it? PARK RANGER You’re not eating that penguin. Act natural. DUHSHANTA No. DUHSHANTA stabs the penguin in the skull with a tent stake. We could do any number of things to this bird and he’d not bat an eye. are you? DUHSHANTA Good heavens. You and I can’t make ascorbic acid. DUHSHANTA Awfully magnanimous of the bird. Oh. But it’s to be found in buckets In this old bird’s fresh carcass. I was well aware of that. PARK RANGER ‘Cause you know this is an animal reserve. crap. wouldn’t you say. no. A disciplined diet of fresh penguin guts will have your gums back to normal and a full weight of cartilege back in your joints in no time. ENGLISHMAN Might even have applauded. ENGLISHMAN points down the shelf. eh? We could dance the Sugar Plum Fairy and he’d stand there like he’d bought a ticket. PARK RANGER This is a universal animal habitat.This Is Shakuntala Hah. His head in the guillotine and he’s not even perplexed. PARK RANGER wands DUHSHANTA with a metal detector. What man can’t make himself He’ll darn well take from something else. The administration is handled exclusively by Mother Theresa’s Nuns of the Holy Order of lilarasa. It beeps..
reindeer and refugees. tall and short. There you go. smart guy. And think of the potential ecosystem. he’s traveling with us. little guy.... PARK RANGER An inciteful objection. DUHSHANTA Ahh. He’s like the son I never had. PARK RANGER Wives? DUHSHANTA Not any one of the four hundred... My wives won’t carry children. freshwater and saltwater crocodiles. PARK RANGER moves to remove DUHSHANTA’s arm from the penguin. We’ve tried. sarus cranes and wildebeasts. but it isn’t a question of endangerment. Let’s see the stake. which are warm blooded and cold blooded. DUHSHANTA The endangered and the overpopulous. the fast and the slow.This Is Shakuntala ENGLISHMAN I don’t think Antarctic penguins are endangered. Lichens and lotuses. DUHSHANTA keeps his arm in place. PARK RANGER . ENGLISHMAN The bond and the free.. Twelve years of wives and others Others’ wives and bland acquaintances Have not filled out To fill my house I’m afraid it might be me. and just give ‘em all habitat. wouldn’t you love to see antelope loping across the ice? Or a pack of wolf cubs frolicking in the snow? ENGLISHMAN The wolves would eat the antelope. the ice cap could be international cooperation’s crowning achievement. My rule collapsed Between conspiracies internal and without As armies moved and countries behind them As policies and promises made wake For money to ride in As channels of goods switched their banks with the moon Our needs were squeezing between others’ jostling 9 . If we can forget which animals are vertebrates and which are invertebrates..... We might finally make a place where all those distinctions don’t matter. PARK RANGER Thank you for the civics lesson.
DUHSHANTA Refugees are fugitives. We’ll sit at the Pole ourselves At rule Call the fugitives free And set the icing of the world To preserve us all The cold. I am slow from ache and starving limbs 10 . know about reserves? I have crossed the oceans in an open boat And stand in ice in Antarctica. I bear my citizenship in my bones.N. has reserved the whole continent for the reserve. chalk continent designs to be Newly raised the ensign of nations PARK RANGER I’m afraid that’s impossible. What does the U.N. now. you’ll have to register those bones within twenty four hours of arriving in Antarctica. The only flowing springs there now are the people departing And the letters they send back We’ll be nothing soon But a dimly kept picture of grandma PARK RANGER Refugees must register with the sisters within twenty four hours of arriving in Antarctica. With blood in my stool and one eye snow blind I am bitten leprous by wind and blanched.This Is Shakuntala So slimming down to afterthoughts Narrowing means make narrower dreams And fewer would live with the shrink Democracy and the shareholders invited my resignation Which I gave and control to the board Because I had no heir No pompous generation to carry the flag o’er the trenches Wherever the onslaught. DUHSHANTA Biting his pipe. PARK RANGER Sir. whatever the arms. Smoky agreements over cards. Best I can give you is a weekend camping pass no open fires. Draw the hungry country after to the plentiful dawn Nah. The U. DUHSHANTA We’ll not be registrated under another banner! Keep the bleak camps if you will at the margin of the land mass. it’s all done by consensus. I’m a sovereign nation.
11 . Watch. suspect with possible weapon of solitary destruction. DUHSHANTA draws the stake from the penguin’s head and brandishes it as a knife. DUHSHANTA falls over in the wagon. And they are there in New York City Selling grape leaves on street corners This bare page is mine. And I’ll blend in the blasts which ever scrape this dome flat. I am the wind Pause as DUHSHANTA gathers strength. DUHSHANTA clambers backward into the wagon. He stops. and I will write my name on it I am King Duhshanta. ENGLISHMAN Bugger! PARK RANGER pulls the radio transmitter from his shoulder. PARK RANGER backs off. You stay here. I’m like the wind. and requesting immediate back up. I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the continent. DUHSHANTA Backing up to the wagon.N. peering. You won’t find me. PARK RANGER This is ake adam bareh reporting level orange. PARK RANGER Sir. DUHSHANTA creeps across the ice. turns and returns. left my throne and land. takes the handle. PARK RANGER fades as he calls after them. and pulls the wagon in a circle. PARK RANGER The whole U. MUSH! ENGLISHMAN sighs. Hold up! ENGLISHMAN stops suddenly.This Is Shakuntala I have waived my former status. DUHSHANTA I AM KING DUHSHANTA! The penguin waddles away. will be after you! DUHSHANTA Pansies! PARK RANGER fades away. I’ll check it out. Ah hah! Just past that pressure ridge I seem to hear conversation. Shhh! They listen.
DUHSHANTA Grease the runners of the sled while I’m busy intimidating the nuns. brains. BAH BAH BLACK SHEEP HAVE YOU ANY WOOL? DUHSHANTA Listening. I’ll take ten minutes. VOICES Singing. PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA dance in a clockwise 12 . ENGLISHMAN It’ll take me more than five minutes to grease the runners. All the blowing ice in the air will mask the sound of my approach. ENGLISHMAN Do they have brains? DUHSHANTA Very possibly.. A huge. Hm. Brains. DUHSHANTA Fine. I need brains. DUHSHANTA creeps again across the ice. Now. Hold! If my understanding of English literature is correct. ENGLISHMAN So you said. Ah. DUHSHANTA sticks a finger in his mouth and holds it in the air. DUHSHANTA hands his crown and pipe to ENGLISHMAN. PRIYAMVADA. and ANUSUYA appear in nuns’ habits. I’ll keep the glasses. Shouldn’t take me five minutes. I hope it’s the former. The wind is blowing toward me at about sixty miles an hour. ENGLISHMAN slumps against the sled and recedes into the blowing ice. The nuns are here. this albacore on the ice before me is an omen signifying either that I’ll soon tango with a beautiful woman or an enormous sea horse is about to drag me irretrievably out to sea. let me see.This Is Shakuntala Right. SHAKUNTALA. DUHSHANTA holds his ears. so they won’t smell me coming.. Stay here. DUHSHANTA creeps closer. I hear the sisters singing. DUHSHANTA stops dead. dead tuna falls out of the sky.
SHAKUNTALA O god. and a long handled ladle. PRIYAMVADA AND ANUSUYA Amen.This Is Shakuntala direction around SHAKUNTALA. Their father. several small bowls. THREE BAGS FULL At the end of the song. sags with some exhaustion. TWINKLE. THREE BAGS FULL ONE FOR MY MASTER AND ONE FOR MY DAME. either I’ve come across three nuns or a very small flock of jesuit penguins. obviously. and prays. I may be better off sizing up the situation for a bit. SHAKUNTALA rests the hammer. They seem strangely unburdened by refugees. father of mercy. hammering away with a chisel and. LITTLE STAR The other nuns join in. resuming their dance. SHAKUNTALA Singing. kneels before a squat. including a coconut. 13 . YES SIR. PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA rest as SHAKUNTALA hammers. three feet high rock. These cheeks blush brightly in delight Not the despair one expects of the chaste. NUNS Still singing. AND ONE FOR THE LITTLE BOY WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE BAH BAH BLACK SHEEP HAVE YOU ANY WOOL? YES. YES SIR. satisfy this their ardent desire. SHAKUNTALA dips some ghee and dribbles it out over the rock. a hammer. Taking up the ladle. also an oil lamp. Wise men say Only fools rush in. YES SIR. are now reconciled with them Through the suffering and death of Jesus And that the moment of their deliverance has arrived. habits flapping every which way. On the ground to the side is a tray upon which are a variety of fruits. Send them thy holy angel to announce to them that thou. DUHSHANTA Yes. SIR. TWINKLE. We’ll see how nun these sisters are and find an opening if there is one. in her habit. who.
L. NUNS H. P. F. C. I’m busy. A. AND Z. Through the time’s pieces. NUNS Amen. Through the fire and priest who bear sacrifice. R.This Is Shakuntala NUNS HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH LIKE A DIAMOND IN THE SKY TWINKLE. S. D. look at that fruit. and through air. NOW I KNOW MY ABC’S NEXT TIME WON’T YOU SING WITH ME? The dancing stops. Amen. TWINKLE. I. the sun and the moon. Singing. PRIYAMVADA You can leave chiseling for a moment. PRIYAMVADA Put down your tools and join us. X. PRIYAMVADA takes SHAKUNTALA by the hands and raises her up from the ground. B. A single lime’s worth a bucket of brains. PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA fall to the ground. E. LITTLE STAR HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE DUHSHANTA Hey Bhagwan. T. SHAKUNTALA The lord bless and keep you Through his many varied forms Through the creator’s first flowing water. O. SHAKUNTALA and ANUSUYA join the song and their dance resumes. SHAKUNTALA goes to her knees before the rock and genuflects. J. U. Q. Through the unbound medium of voice. G. Y. M. K. The ice is cold without your feet on it. N. V. Through the fruitful earth. 14 . SHAKUNTALA Oh. Sister Priyamvada. W.
SHAKUNTALA Thanks. Now the wet suit. Indecisiveness wins the battle. this is Shakuntala. PRIYAMVADA I told you to buy a woman’s suit. DUHSHANTA Drat. Sister Priyamvada. Good gracious. white trimmed. This thing’s so tight I think I’ve lost the circulation in my bosoms. what am I thinking? She’s a nun. No dilemma after all. 15 . Sister Priyamvada. PRIYAMVADA unzips SHAKUNTALA while SHAKUNTALA pulls off her hood. SHAKUNTALA Oh. but the visible part’s quite nice. the wet suit reveals a stylish. Do I step out and warn her that her skin will freeze white and dead in an instant without some covering or do I keep silent and find out if it’s true what they say about what nuns wear beneath their habits? SHAKUNTALA’s habit comes off to reveal a thick. okay? I’ve forsaken gender. would you? I can barely breathe. neither. Sweat like stars glances As it freezes on her forehead And her eyes flare dark below it To melt and vaporize it Raising it in a halo wispy With the smaze gasped from her panted lips Her chin slips slightly with each stiff breath And hints at deeper heavings I would see But for the fabric.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA So. black bikini. Blimey. The dilemma of our times. PRIYAMVADA gets up slowly and helps SHAKUNTALA out of her habit. As it comes off. SHAKUNTALA I’m not a woman. Mother Teresa’s got the wrong idea swaddling her up that way. and I’m getting a terrible ache in my back from hunching over this. help me out of this thing. She’s not going to freeze and I’m not going to see any heaving. why do I have to keep popping open your clothes so you can breathe? SHAKUNTALA pulls her arms out of the wet suit sleeves with a snap and leans back against the rock to roll the suit off her legs. DUHSHANTA Blast. Hard to tell under all that material. consecrated bosoms. rubber wet suit complete with a hood beneath. PRIYAMVADA If you’ve forsaken gender.
no. 16 . ANUSUYA Sister Shakuntala. I’m telling you Mother Teresa said the Blessed Virgin would bring new life to Antarctica. can’t they? If they meet the right guy? After all: There once was a king from Kashi Who balanced the world on his knee. PRIYAMVADA Wait. SHAKUNTALA Listen. Hold that pose.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA She’ll be dead in a few seconds. don’t let it freeze! SHAKUNTALA It’s not a sign. ANUSUYA You’ll be stuck to that stone in a moment if you don’t get something between you. but what a pair of bosoms. A vision of the Blessed Virgin or not. Sister Priyamvada. SHAKUNTALA stands up and picks up her habit. PRIYAMVADA falls on the rock. Stand up and we’ll cover it with my habit. PRIYAMVADA No. DUHSHANTA Wow. too. SHAKUNTALA stretches with relief. and smart. PRIYAMVADA If you’re sure you won’t freeze solid and crack apart without it. spreading her habit out over the lichen. So it has. And it looks an awful lot like the Blessed Virgin. SHAKUNTALA My goodness. even in a wasteland. When people perceived it. If she weren’t a nun this would be my lucky day. DUHSHANTA She might even make the Pole itself blossom as the rose. For a moment there you looked just like Ariel. PRIYAMVADA It’s a sign. it’s a lichen! SHAKUNTALA Like what? ANUSUYA A lichen has sprouted in the moisture your damp body has left on the rock. It’s just a blue green organism composed of phycobiont alga and mycobiont fungus. A life spring. They forsook all commitment. Girls can leave the nunhood. I’ll admit a lichen is pretty extraordinary here. And followed him wild and free. no.
scream! There’s no one to hear you! DUHSHANTA leaps over the pressure ridge. it’s more interested in me than the two of you. ANUSUYA 17 . PRIYAMVADA stands. We ought to do what we can to help this bleak world blossom. ANUSUYA Oh. PRIYAMVADA It’s only right it’s your habit! DUHSHANTA Now how I wish I were ice And melting underneath this warm prone form. SHAKUNTALA Oh. help! SHAKUNTALA Go on. know little oaths. With each turn right and left to keep one eye on the mad robe She shows the ice in jealous clumps Cling to skin and slip as quickly into dew. I. The habit jumps out of her hands and swirls around the nuns’ heads. With stabbing and slashing and bellowing he tangles up in the wayward habit. oh ice. ANUSUYA Help. The robe swoops and soars over them. but I’ve already grown attached to this lichen like to a sister. PRIYAMVADA Just let me know if your skin begins to splinter. PRIYAMVADA Whatever it was it’s dead. SHAKUNTALA shakes out her habit to lay over the lichen. there’s two of them! DUHSHANTA stumbles and falls to the ice fully wrapped in nun’s habit. save us. The three nuns push up from the ice and on hands and knees tentatively approach the rumpled habit. Sister Shakuntala’s habit killed it. tent stake brandished heroically.This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA I’m not sure. I see. am kept from her by covenant. But you. SHAKUNTALA Hit the deck! It’s loose again! ANUSUYA Ack! Your nasty habit will have us all! The nuns flatten out on the ice.
Don’t sit on the rock. DUHSHANTA Wiping off the tent spike on the ice. mother of god. DUHSHANTA bursts through the habit. ANUSUYA curls into a ball and weeps. Sorry. With a roar. DUHSHANTA I confess that I’m delighted to discover such angels as yourselves here in no man’s land. Come sit over here on the ice while I try to take care of this serendipitous lichen. You must be tired.This Is Shakuntala I’m told there are yeti in Antarctica. SHAKUNTALA It’s no yeti. PRIYAMVADA It’s good exercise. PRIYAMVADA Not on the rock! DUHSHANTA stands quickly. PRIYAMVADA gathers up the shreds of the fallen habit and arranges them over the lichen. The nuns shriek and backpedal. She’s a little delicate. DUHSHANTA It’s quite the track you’ve worn around that rock. DUHSHANTA leans back against the rock. DUHSHANTA Hail Mary. SHAKUNTALA How did you know we were here? Suddenly losing strength. right? SHAKUNTALA Yes. DUHSHANTA edges toward the offering tray. DUHSHANTA genuflects. PRIYAMVADA Thanks for putting down that habit. but Sister Shakuntala’s had a bad habit from the beginning. DUHSHANTA moves away from the rock. yes. You are chaste. rending it in pieces with his contraband tent stake. Sister Anusuya’s and my own are pretty well trained. My pleasure. DUHSHANTA What habit would so torment chaste girls in this pure land? DUHSHANTA stomps terribly on the habit. 18 .
DUHSHANTA And you worship the divine child? PRIYAMVADA The divine child. On Antarctic flora. 19 .This Is Shakuntala While the nuns are distracted. This man makes me feel like a natural woman. who is this guy? SHAKUNTALA Aside. We had thirty different colonies here just last week. Are you Casey Kasem? DUHSHANTA Aside. Oh. Aloud. ANUSUYA’s head emerges from the ball she is. Here’s my present dilemma. We’re of the Holy Order of lilarasa. Gracious. Pause. my goodness. Oh. That was such an entrance. Then we had a drought. Like Casey Kasem. That’s right. ANUSUYA You sound a little like Casey Kasem. Do I let on that I’m King Duhshanta come to claim their refugees or do I pretend I’m Casey Kasem? Would they really prefer the refugees remain refugees? Reflecting. PRIYAMVADA There’s more where that came from. Let it be the latter. PRIYAMVADA Psst. no. I’m Casey Kasem. PRIYAMVADA No you’re not. That’s quite a lichen you have there. In a desperate rush he chomps a big bite from it. and the temperature’s risin’. You don’t sound anything like him. ANUSUYA Are you a yeti? DUHSHANTA Laughing like Santa Claus. Sister Shakuntala. sure. I’m doing dissertation research. DUHSHANTA snatches a lime from the tray. DUHSHANTA stuffs the lime in a pocket. DUHSHANTA I’m a graduate student. Hm. but he’s not alone. He’s got three devoted girls in his posse. It’s a sub zero vacation below the arctic circle for our hero.
SHAKUNTALA Let go of me! DUHSHANTA 20 . yeah. right? PRIYAMVADA Oh. Poverty. or veils of constancy... fat jerk! Where am I going to find another rock on an ice shelf?! DUHSHANTA . irritability. equal opportunity. Dream no more salt gods and kneelings.. SHAKUNTALA You big. Present saints and ford finders.. SHAKUNTALA You’re no graduate student! DUHSHANTA To the air. leaps into the air drawing his tent spike.. Faiths and feelings. the Pole. .. Have at her. heavens. DUHSHANTA BE FREE OF YOUR GODS! SHAKUNTALA leaps to her feet and pummels DUHSHANTA with her fists.. So why should there not be room there beside the saints and sages For you. yes. He holds her at bay with one arm. Her heart holds contrary concepts. They look back. But that room remains for latter forms. and for heirs of the New Earth? DUHSHANTA roars.... Chastity. Sure.. O.. The rock splits apart and upsets the nativity scene. DUHSHANTA Chastity? PRIYAMVADA Well. strained rites.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA But you have vows. yes. the magic of this frost to so slow a girl’s alarm! What you feared was a fire has cooled to a stone. nor brassy cymbals. DUHSHANTA Aside. Chakravartins and brand spankin’ new cosmic enterprises.Nor tensed liturgies. nor pewed hollows. PRIYAMVADA looks at the other nuns. At least so far. charity. and delivers an unearthly blow to the top of the rock as he comes down.
Elephants. DUHSHANTA South. “MERCY SISTERS. A sign is nailed to the fence which reads. ANUSUYA The refugees. Something about it catches her eye. jerking almost to dislocate her shoulder. Hie.This Is Shakuntala This world passes pretty Shakuntala. hie to the Pole! DUHSHANTA pulls SHAKUNTALA close. EVERYTHING freezes. SHAKUNTALA I’m cut and caught! Wait for me to loosen myself! DUHSHANTA lurches on his hands and knees and collapses on the ice. ANUSUYA pulls SHAKUNTALA from him and into the blowing ice. THERE ISN’T AN OCEAN TOO DEEP. ANUSUYA Sister Shakuntala. KEEP ME AWAY! PRIYAMVADA strikes DUHSHANTA with the tent spike. We’ll South. suddenly. SHAKUNTALA struggles. Pause. Shakuntala. Shakuntala. Crash of ice collapsing off the shelf. She nearly drops it.” 21 . your vows! SHAKUNTALA I’m crippled. PRIYAMVADA retrieves the tent spike from the split rock. SHAKUNTALA Singing. PRIYAMVADA stands above and behind him with the tent spike. She looks at it. A MOUNTAIN SO HIGH IT CAN KEEP. Hie to the earth’s one fixed point! Elephants trumpet. Scene 2 DUHSHANTA and ENGLISHMAN crouch below a ten foot stockade fence. DUHSHANTA pitches forward.
ENGLISHMAN chews on a coconut husk. stop it.” DUHSHANTA has a green bandage around his head. then! ENGLISHMAN Alright. either. but I don’t think I’d be very impressed at meeting a king I didn’t know was a king whether or not I was in Antarctica. DUHSHANTA They’re her vows. DUHSHANTA Well. DUHSHANTA They didn’t give me a chance. if I may say so. And. How would you act if you’d taken a vow of celibacy and then ran into a strapping young king like myself in Antarctica? ENGLISHMAN If I did? DUHSHANTA Play along! ENGLISHMAN She doesn’t know you’re a king. ENGLISHMAN Whatever happened to the king’s sacred duty to procure security for the afflicted? 22 . The offering tray lies empty. ENGLISHMAN What gave it away? The kicking and screaming? DUHSHANTA Oh. There’s no real precipitation at all. You couldn’t see. And we’re not going to tell her. ENGLISHMAN I’m sorry for saying it. ENGLISHMAN Why didn’t you crack their heads open? I can feel my scurvy coming back. The snow was blowing something fierce. I could hardly see. the bloody blowing ice. her vows don’t seem to mean much to you. DUHSHANTA That’s right. ENGLISHMAN It doesn’t snow in Antarctica. DUHSHANTA I think she liked me.This Is Shakuntala A second hand has drawn in a comma after “Mercy.
You’re a strapping young king.. DUHSHANTA Oh. fingers a quiver. DUHSHANTA smacks ENGLISHMAN up side the head. Acid rain is not more plain On timber than the burning flame An undiscovered country fires in human souls. yet. ENGLISHMAN Send her flowers.. DUHSHANTA I’m telling you she likes me. DUHSHANTA Think of something! Even nuns can be distracted. mouth dry.. Nuns. We’ll take her South. Duhshanta.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA What’s afflicting her? ENGLISHMAN Well. dusky eyes darting.. She’s in there. DUHSHANTA Through the ice with my fingernails. be more clever than that. DOWN IN THE VALLEY 23 . I’ll be her king. ENGLISHMAN Dig underneath. DUHSHANTA And a pumpkin pie while I’m at it. DUHSHANTA Singing. ENGLISHMAN By force. ENGLISHMAN You could melt your way under. celibacy! DUHSHANTA Darn right. for crying out loud. ENGLISHMAN She’s with nuns. Break down the fence. ENGLISHMAN Just kidnap her.
DUHSHANTA hangs from the top of the fence. what is it now. reflects and finds her. DUHSHANTA steps into his hands and peeks over the top of the stockade. ENGLISHMAN I’d love to take a look. or what is it going on here? ENGLISHMAN holds up his hands in surrender. All this wondrous ice cap Glows against her. DUHSHANTA You haven’t seen her. ENGLISHMAN interlaces his fingers.This Is Shakuntala THE VALLEY SO LOW HANG YOUR HEAD OVER HEAR THE WIND BLOW ENGLISHMAN Too bad you lost that spike.. The doors to the theatre smash in. VOICE Ah hah! They’re still up to their monkeying around business! KRISHNA and several FIREFIGHTERS come through the audience. It hasn’t been all that long since my back surgery. Are you people besieging the Alamo.. KRISHNA Oh. DEAR HEAR THE WIND BLOW HANG YOUR HEAD OVER HEAR THE WIND BLOW Give me a boost. ENGLISHMAN I don’t know. the fine gloss glinting. Who would stand here Would first kneel to her. DUHSHANTA Like a glacier flow her parts together Blue ice and snow fields Sleek slopes. it’s worse than before. You give me a boost. 24 . splinters flying. ENGLISHMAN Is she there? DUHSHANTA I think so. Boost me. DUHSHANTA HEAR THE WIND BLOW.
This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Hey! Go back to the suburbs. ENGLISHMAN My arms are tired. What do you want? KRISHNA She doesn’t even have a phone. I have a gun! KRISHNA No you don’t. KRISHNA directs the FIREFIGHTERS who hack at the stockade fence with their axes some striking uncomfortably close to DUHSHANTA. Get it all down. KRISHNA Well. ya know it all know nothing. I’m hanging here! PRIYAMVADA From Offstage. DUHSHANTA My arms are tired. SHAKUNTALA From Offstage to PRIYAMVADA. It is all going now. Not so close. KRISHNA And who are you now? Is this Duhshanta who breaks elephants and fights with demons? DUHSHANTA Have you seen the park ranger about those axes? KRISHNA You go on back to Bohemia. too.N. 25 . And I’m calling the U. Nobody asked you to put them up in the first place. for goodness sake. What’s going on? Are the refugees here? DUHSHANTA How did everybody but me get these weapons down here? KRISHNA She doesn’t have a gun. I do have a gun. SHAKUNTALA From Offstage to KRISHNA. To the FIREFIGHTERS. put them down. Go on. PRIYAMVADA From Offstage. That is it.
that’s rich. KRISHNA I’m putting an end to all this. KRISHNA I have a court order. All this wood was shipped from Tierra del Fuego. Do something! DUHSHANTA 26 . KRISHNA To the FIREFIGHTERS.. PRIYAMVADA To DUHSHANTA. Everything must go. ENGLISHMAN Oh. PRIYAMVADA’s head appears over the fence. the. This preposterous fence. this.This Is Shakuntala PRIYAMVADA From Offstage. I’m not having any fun. PRIYAMVADA What kind of a person would chop down a mission of mercy? KRISHNA brandishes a fistful of papers. the ice. ENGLISHMAN Pizza? ENGLISHMAN jumps on the stockade fence. the actors. fun. ice. He hangs beside DUHSHANTA. Let me in! Let me in! ENGLISHMAN kicks weakly at the fence. I ordered pizza last week. The FIREFIGHTERS have become interested in the conversation. but hasn’t the strength to pull himself over. What are you all turning your eyes on? The FIREFIGHTERS return to chopping at the stockade. this. Stop that! That’s an expensive fence. I do have a phone. PRIYAMVADA Who are you? What do you want? To the FIREFIGHTERS. KRISHNA I should very well ask you what kind of person would perpetrate this kind of flummadiddle. PRIYAMVADA You didn’t answer the question. I want all this cleared away..
Unearned disregard for time. PRIYAMVADA Think of the refugees! A large section of the fence collapses. Locked to the strange world and odd. place. DUHSHANTA falls on a FIREFIGHTER. Unauthorized corruption of text. DUHSHANTA I have a vow to found a kingdom.. KRISHNA Reading from the court order. PRIYAMVADA You’re a king! DUHSHANTA Who says? PRIYAMVADA Who else would monogram a tent spike? DUHSHANTA Is Sister Shakuntala in there? PRIYAMVADA No. ENGLISHMAN is left hanging. 27 . PRIYAMVADA They’re cutting down our fence! DUHSHANTA Maybe it’s for the best. Thrown closed to frightful powers.This Is Shakuntala Me?! He’s got a court order. But fast against all striking verve They often slow whom they would serve.. PRIYAMVADA falls with a shriek. PRIYAMVADA She has vows and you don’t have a kingdom. and action. In accordance with the statutes and ordinances. The list goes on. Like gates are oaths. Unwarranted confusion of culture. ENGLISHMAN What statues? KRISHNA STATUTES! Unlicensed tampering with tradition. DUHSHANTA I heard her.
The shotgun recoil spins her to the ground. In accordance with the statutes and ordinances of Kansas City. SHAKUNTALA hops into the breach.This Is Shakuntala Reading again. you mule faced. you use cartridges. taking the remaining FIREFIGHTERS out of the game. stranger. Furthermore.N. KRISHNA hits the deck A huge. KRISHNA And you’re going to tell me you’ve put bullets in that? SHAKUNTALA You’d better believe it. but she manages to hold and level a double barrelled shotgun at KRISHNA. doodie dropper. you lily livered. She is bound hand and foot with rope. KRISHNA Waving his arms. KRISHNA The first thing is that what’s the necessity for name calling? The second thing is you do not put bullets in a shotgun. Just tell me where is Kalidasa?! There is ice and stockades and sunglasses and shotgun bullets where is India? Where is Kalidasa?! SHAKUNTALA fires. 28 . namely the department of fire corrections. The FIREFIGHTERS step back. varmint eater. AUDIENCE MEMBER Standing and shouting with horror.. KRISHNA I have a court order. The shotgun jumps from SHAKUNTALA’s hands. crystal chandelier drops onto the ice. SHAKUNTALA You’d better take two steps back. sulphur breathing. cross eyed. SHAKUNTALA takes a hop forward. it is hereby proclaimed. SHAKUNTALA That’s all well and good. That’s my grandmother’s chandelier! KRISHNA scrambles over the chandelier toward SHAKUNTALA who screams and fires again. KRISHNA grabs SHAKUNTALA by the ankle.. ornate. A penguin falls into the chandelier mess. High Commission on Refugees. for said purpose. The third thing is I have a court order. SHAKUNTALA I’m only going to tell you one more time. side windin’. but the fine municipality of Kansas City takes a back seat to the U. Git. and make a beeline for the horizon. turn tail. and granted also the use of said city’s resources. the bearer is hereby empowered to supervise in the suspension and dismantling of said enterprise at his earliest convenience.
more significant matters to attend to. ENGLISHMAN I beg your pardon. Isaac. SHAKUNTALA The U. KRISHNA jerks her violently.This Is Shakuntala ENGLISHMAN Still hanging on the fence. SHAKUNTALA I’ve bought a tradition with my sacrifice. you have no right to this! There is a tradition you have not entered. but there’s a big boat out in the bay. but KRISHNA pulls himself over her and pins her down. They’d probably have keeled over if they’d seen you in this situation.N. KRISHNA Whose god? The refugees’ god? Abraham. ladies and gentlemen. If there are any questions. So. KRISHNA I have seen circus freaks better justified to perform. SHAKUNTALA struggles. SHAKUNTALA And Mother Theresa’s gonna go postal. KRISHNA That’s just as well. without further ado. and Jacob’s god? Pashupati? Grace Slick’s son? To whom do you appeal? SHAKUNTALA Whoever’s on duty. let me thank you for coming and direct you to the box office which will be happy to refund your money. 29 ...’ll bomb the crap out of Kansas City when they hear about this. My humblest apologies. Rape! Rape! SHAKUNTALA tries to crawl free. KRISHNA Stop it. for bringing a premature end to tonight’s performance. However. and surely you all have other. pulling her head back by her hair. KRISHNA Do your parents know you are doing this? SHAKUNTALA My parents are dead. A ship’s horn sounds nearby. KRISHNA speaks to the audience. I am certain you will agree with me at this point that this production is going nowhere at a particularly rapid pace. SHAKUNTALA The refugees! SHAKUNTALA struggles with renewed vigor. and God will strike you dead if you keep me from my vows.
then! DUHSHANTA This is the substance of kings. for unlicensed use of an ax. to wash themselves red As defenders of faith.. Go back.. KRISHNA But you can’t do it here. they’ve got no place to go. you moron! DUHSHANTA erupts from the rubble of the stockade. KRISHNA gets to his feet but keeps ahold of SHAKUNTALA and stands her up before him. DUHSHANTA And if I kill you? DUHSHANTA takes another swipe. Go on home. Staking the path of custom with unbelieving bones. KRISHNA To the refugees. Swipe. chandelier. You’re a trouble maker. KRISHNA For murder. You must face. who stalks him around the ice. . DEMON! KRISHNA rolls out of the way as DUHSHANTA takes a swipe at him with the ax. ENGLISHMAN Take me with you. Swipe.. SHAKUNTALA They’re refugees. there’s nothing for you here....This Is Shakuntala REFUGEES begin to wander onto the ice. KRISHNA I will have you prosecuted for assault. This is all over. He has one of the fire axes. for harrassment.. The rules won’t allow! DUHSHANTA You’ve got to break some eggs.. 30 . for violation of my civil rights. and assorted firefighters. DUHSHANTA takes another swipe. DUHSHANTA Operatically. The REFUGEES do not speak English. KRISHNA moves to keep SHAKUNTALA between himself and DUHSHANTA.a busybody.
. ANUSUYA Put down the ax. Swipe..a Nosy Nettie. I hear it’s beautiful in the. ANUSUYA stands with the shotgun... what season is this? DUHSHANTA Shoot him... ANUSUYA Sister Priyamvada and I can’t take care of all these refugees by ourselves. 31 . DUHSHANTA Shoot me. DUHSHANTA pulls back the ax for the final.. PRIYAMVADA pushes up through the rubble.a buttinsky. PRIYAMVADA I heard a boat.. ANUSUYA Oh. .. ENGLISHMAN I’d love to see Kansas City. She has vows. no... Swipe. There is silence as smoke drifts from one of the barrels. Blast.. . paint the ice with his blood! And then.a misguided do gooder. Sister. DUHSHANTA I don’t think she’d actually shoot me. death dealing blow. Everything freezes.This Is Shakuntala . ANUSUYA Mother Theresa wouldn’t want you to kill that man. The shotgun blasts again. KRISHNA I am going to walk away from here and straight to the police and from there straight to the newspapers and from there straight home to my wife who happens to be a Kansas City alderperson and THEN we’ll see who will be destroying who. DUHSHANTA corners KRISHNA against what remains of the fence.. on.. SHAKUNTALA wrenches herself free and falls at DUHSHANTA’s feet. on to the Pole on gilded runners my love and I will go. A mackrel falls onto the ice. DUHSHANTA Losing some steam. No.
.. PRIYAMVADA Let me ask the question.? SHAKUNTALA I’ll go South.. Shakuntala.. KRISHNA Give me the gun. Shoot him.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA We’ll all go South A host of dispossessed On eager feet toward new trappings... the 32 . I’ll shoot him. The police will be here soon and you will make a full accounting of this farcical debacle of yours to my wife and assorted alderpeople. Leave us all this effete world And find a rich order in the very South.. KRISHNA The police will bring a warrant for all your papers and permits if you have them. DUHSHANTA The earth will not allow it. Gravity will pull the shot to the ground before it will permit my harm. PRIYAMVADA Sister Shakuntala. KRISHNA You are all coming with me. ANUSUYA The refugees. and anyway she would be ashamed of it all if she did.. at least! What would you do? The refugees are pouring in by the boatload. too? KRISHNA Everyone involved! PRIYAMVADA Pulling herself from the rubble. PRIYAMVADA Sister Shakuntala. KRISHNA Would you stop with the Mother Theresa! She is dead half way on the other side of the world in Calcutta and she knows nothing of this. PRIYAMVADA Indicating DUHSHANTA. ANUSUYA Maybe you should wait until Mother Theresa arrives. PRIYAMVADA grabs SHAKUNTALA by the shoulders and sits her up.
A gust of biting ice and glowing flesh. scrunched up with the shotgun in the wagon at his feet. No one comes to pull the wagon.. ENGLISHMAN Will there be fruit? KRISHNA Yes. DUHSHANTA stands in the red. Sri Prthvirajya Ji! Ha ha ha ha ha! DUHSHANTA.. and runs with it.. to the Pole. then. SHAKUNTALA. PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA make a sudden dash and disappear through the breach. Jai. What would you do? SHAKUNTALA South. 33 . He makes a circle around the others before disappearing into the blowing ice. SHAKUNTALA lies. ANUSUYA still stands as though holding the shotgun. The REFUGEES have wandered away. still bound. On a sled to the Pole! Pause. I’ll take you. We will a comet to the Pole Rush red headlong. takes it by the handle. radio flyer wagon. KRISHNA THERE IS NO BOAT! PRIYAMVADA . KRISHNA Alright. DUHSHANTA I have heard what I needed to hear! PRIYAMVADA Shoot him! DUHSHANTA throws up his arms. DUHSHANTA Arms raised like a field goal.This Is Shakuntala security of the mission perimeter has been compromised. Jai. brilliantly.and Mother Theresa is due back here any day now. a vagrant king thinks to lead us all into a cockamamie plan. Beat.. this second madman wants to put us all on a boat to Kansas City. PRIYAMVADA still stands as though holding SHAKUNTALA. DUHSHANTA steps out of the wagon. Sudden and complete blackout. Light returns. PRIYAMVADA Bugger. and the wagon disappear.
. DUHSHANTA’s crown is on his head. I guess it could be cancer. King Duhshanta with Shakuntala in tow had made good time toward the Pole. yes.. what would you say is wrong with her? Goodness. you’ve reached the polar plateau.. SCHOLAR WITH A TOASTER chuckles.. I’m sorry. DUHSHANTA emerges from the ice pulling SHAKUNTALA in the red. or whatever.. right. the refugees arrived in boatloads and many more of Mother Theresa’s Sisters of lilarasa necessarily came to the white continent to care for them.. Oh. could you help me down? Boat’s horn sounds again. What’s the news from Shakuntala? Oh really? Is that so? She’s burning up. In the meantime.. So.This Is Shakuntala ENGLISHMAN Um.... Shakuntala’s good friends were in hot pursuit. Ice blows.. radio flyer wagon. King Duhshanta escaped with Shakuntala. How’s the weather? Right. I.. Or the projection goes dark... She is also unconscious. However.. shall we? SCHOLAR WITH A TOASTER dials a cell phone and puts it to his ear. What would you. SHAKUNTALA is still bound at the wrists and ankles. SCHOLAR WITH A TOASTER closes up the phone. ACT TWO Scene 1 The video projection. Pri. uh huh.. Shaddup! Tablas stop.. wha . Let’s just see what they have to say. One ringy dingy.. what’s that. I’m sorry.. Right. With the security of the mission restored. and his trusted sidekick left to deal with unrelated matters in Kansas City. it was thought there ought to be a man on hand in case there was any more trouble.. OLD MAN in a kurta and dhoti wheels out the TV/VCR. Tablas rappity rap.. oh. Priyamvada? How’s it going out there? Uh huh. concerned about their friend who still lacked clothing appropriate to the climate. unbeknownst to him.. Having ascended the Beardmore Glacier and leaving behind the Antarctic Mountains he was passing in good order over the vast polar plateau. I find it quite remarkable. have you? That’s marvelous. SCHOLAR WITH A TOASTER And so. Shakuntala’s Jesuit uncle Gautama obtained the necessary permits from the park ranger and arrived with an impressive array of weaponry including several stinger missile launchers and an M 1 tank salvaged from Afghanistan. uh huh. but has lost the cape and his shirt. I guess we lost the cell. Well. Police siren. And.. no. but. I guess that’s to be expected down there.... 34 ... hello. is she? Yes. SOMEONE Offstage. Two ringy. Uh huh.
She’ll wake up at the Pole good as new from her long rest and not even know I almost died getting her there. there’s been no snuggling on this trip. I’m sweltering under this cruel antarctic sun. I DON’T MEAN TO BOTHER YOU BUT I’M IN DISTRESS MY SWEETHEART IS UNCONSCIOUS IN THE COLD WILDERNESS SHE DOESN’T GIVE ME LOVING THAT I THINK I HAVE EARNED DON’T LET ME GET BURNED SO YETIS harmonize the chorus. Oh. NOBODY BUT ME CUPID. It’s not fair that she doesn’t know what I’m going through hauling her body and soul over the ice. But the guidebooks were wrong. Six months of sun and six of its sister moon. My teeth are swimming in my jaw and my blood is flowing like a river without banks in my limbs. And this wind. I can’t believe the ice cap has lasted this long under this blast furnace. And obviously. and pressing in this reeling storm and force footed on this sleek shell I should be cold. NOBODY BUT ME CUPID. My eyes are red and stung from the sweat that runs with each step.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Singing. And she seems to be getting heavier. And this wind.. DRAW BACK YOUR BOW OW AND LET YOUR ARROW GO O STRAIGHT TO MY LOVER’S HEART FOR ME. My face is flushed and pounding and there’s a roaring in my ears. CUPID. CUPID. I’ll probably get skin cancer. what a warm wind Blows against me Blows a barrier to my progress Blows a wall. this southern sling knows not grey. TAKE CAREFUL AI AIM AND FREE ME FROM MY PAI AIN SHOOT UP MY LOVER DEAR FOR ME. but lives each day in black or white. PLEASE HEAR MY CRY Y AND LET YOUR ARROW FLY Y STRAIGHT TO MY LOVER’S HEART FOR ME E E NOW. that’s bloody awful. The ozone hole is supposed to be directly over me. If she doesn’t give me some sign soon. I’m much too stewed for poetry. How do you guys stand it under all that fur? And if circumstances were not sharp enough. Oh. This wind is a warm verse. A field of emptiness it spreads bare and flat till it runs flush against the horizon on every side. This is the vast polar plateau. PLEASE LEND AN EA EAR WITH MISSILE ARROW OR SPEA EAR PUNCTURE MY LOVER’S HEART FOR ME E E DUHSHANTA speaks to the YETIS. I’ve heard no word from my love for days. I’ll have to 35 .. The wind is filled stinging with shards of ice sheared up from from the ice below my feet.
I guess it’s a sled. I hope she’s dialing 10 10 321 and then the number. They trudge behind the wagon. Phone rings. she’s awake! Maybe I’ll finally figure out who keeps calling. ANUSUYA I have to know how warm! 36 . honey. I feel like my blood is boiling. PRIYAMVADA From the ether. SHAKUNTALA Is that you. What’s the elevation of the Antarctic? Things boil easier at higher elevations. SHAKUNTALA I’m so glad you called. SHAKUNTALA Hello? DUHSHANTA trudges on. How are you. PRIYAMVADA It’s the Antarctic. PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA enter with their cell phone.This Is Shakuntala depot her here with the sled and retrieve her after I’ve got the kingdom set up and have the dispossessed of the world shaving the ice off the cap. DUHSHANTA Good gravy. Are you okay? SHAKUNTALA It’s very hot for the Antarctic. SHE’S UNCONSCIOUS! SHAKUNTALA stirs and puts the cell phone to her ear with her bound hands. Priyamvada? DUHSHANTA That blasted nun. you know. PRIYAMVADA What was that? You say you’re warm? ANUSUYA How warm? PRIYAMVADA Shh! This is long distance. dear? You sound so far away. ANUSUYA leafs energetically through a hardcover book They yell because the connection is not very good. SHAKUNTALA I’m in a wagon. There are no trees.
dear! We’re awfully worried about you. Sweat and shrink. ask her. I would her ill increase to tempt me. Sister. Sultry summer noon never sapped a body thus. DUHSHANTA The same virus is swimming in her arteries. For though her breasts once so sweetly round Now are fallen slack at the straps. DUHSHANTA looks over his shoulder discretely. ANUSUYA Well. PRIYAMVADA Are you on drugs. ANUSUYA takes the phone. Is it a creature of the Pole or something we brought here? Did I give it to her? Did she bring it from the swamps of Calcutta? Or perhaps it rode here from unknown habitats in the knotted hair of refugees. Maybe he’s got her drugged. You’re not making any sense. ANUSUYA To PRIYAMVADA. PRIYAMVADA In a whisper to ANUSUYA. Channel streams of sweat toward her pale navel With such fetching ache. SHAKUNTALA Oh. 37 . Sister Shakuntala? Hello? DUHSHANTA Naught for desire so tunes a body as disease. That King Duhshanta’s got her all messed up. PRIYAMVADA Are you still there. They quiver in fever. Give me that. Shakuntala.This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA How is it in Paris? PRIYAMVADA We’re not in Paris. right? PRIYAMVADA No. Sister Shakuntala. SHAKUNTALA But you’ve been there. honey? SHAKUNTALA No thank you.
I knew it. Really. Anusuya. My shadow is becoming too heavy to draw along.. .. PRIYAMVADA We know that! SHAKUNTALA I’m very tired.. .This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA Thanks. gets up painfully. ANUSUYA turns a page. and continues. My arms are as thin as pencils and the rest of me is wasted.. 38 . too. I’ve lost a year of puberty off my breasts. You know the law. Looking in the book. Anusuya. yes. ANUSUYA And she’s got scurvy. ANUSUYA Slamming her finger onto a page.. What am I looking for? ANUSUYA Do you have. stomach pain? SHAKUNTALA Did you need some? ANUSUYA How are your joints? SHAKUNTALA Strictly medicinal. SHAKUNTALA weeps. DUHSHANTA stumbles to his knees.. Would you like an appetizer? ANUSUYA How warm are you? SHAKUNTALA You tell me. she’s in love! PRIYAMVADA snatches the book. ANUSUYA Wait. is your heart palpitating? SHAKUNTALA Oh. and I fear it may tear away completely and be buried in the blowing ice. my. dear...
Don’t hang up the phone. Okay? Listen. SHAKUNTALA I think there are yetis here. Do you have Triple A? SHAKUNTALA Sobbing. that’s bad. He might get the wrong impression. It’s okay. ANUSUYA Don’t swallow your tongue! 39 . I’m all light headed from that shouting. DUHSHANTA collapses face down on the ice. Everything’s going to be okay. ANUSUYA Yetis!? PRIYAMVADA You’re going to have to ask him for some relief. King Duhshanta! King Duhshanta! Nothing. I may not be lucid for the next little while. PRIYAMVADA Wait. no. You really shouldn’t let that lapse. PRIYAMVADA Why would I do that? SHAKUNTALA I can smell onions so I think I’m about to have a siezure. DUHSHANTA staggers. ANUSUYA and PRIYAMVADA stop walking. I’ve heard wild animals know instinctively when people need help. Sister Shakuntala. What if he expects favors? PRIYAMVADA Sister Shakuntala. Sister Priyamvada.This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA My skin is so withered I think my soul may be showing through. ANUSUYA Maybe the yetis would eat him and carry her back to civilization. You’ll just have to rely on King Duhshanta. But don’t worry. I really can’t. Just listen to me. SHAKUNTALA No. No! PRIYAMVADA Well. PRIYAMVADA Is he there? SHAKUNTALA I don’t see him. dear. Oh. I’m not sure you’re in a situation which lends itself much to idealism.
JOSHUA JUDGES RUTH DUHSHANTA The ice is running. The same tune as the PRAISE TO ANTARCTICA song. Priyamvada! Don’t hang up! PRIYAMVADA I’m here. AND CHRONICLES CHRONICLES. DAN. EZEKIEL. A dark arctic sea to the sky But sere waves beneath me. GENESIS.This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA Don’t hang up. LAMENTATIONS! PRIYAMVADA adds a cymbal crash. Shakuntala. SHAKUNTALA has a siezure. PRIYAMVADA I’ll sing to you. Shakuntala. KINGS. AMOS DUHSHANTA So grips the ice your heart. 40 . AND ISAIAH. So slim girl. DUHSHANTA The ice is running. DUHSHANTA crawls. Fast. ECCLESIASTES SONG OF SOLOMON. KINGS. HOSEA. I see. yours is the lucky part To fall insensible in fits While I suffer on. A chill river through my limbs And hissing on my skin. DUHSHANTA lifts his face from the ice. PROVERBS. PRIYAMVADA PSALMS. Shakuntala. Just let it come. Sister Shakuntala. Sister. PRIYAMVADA SAMUEL. JOEL. NEHEMIA ESTHER JOB DUHSHANTA The ice is running. A cold sweat on my face As blistered as yours. I bear the rash clutch of ice. SAMUEL. EXODUS LEVITICUS AND NUMBERS DEUTERONOMY. And bear us both in effort o’er the plate. JEREMIAH. EZRA. DUHSHANTA crawls back around to the wagon. on my hands and my knees.
the least you can do is disembowel yourself and stuff Sister Shakuntala into the cavity to stay warm until we get there. We burn together. AND MALACHI DUHSHANTA takes the phone. Her teeth are slippery. PRIYAMVADA You did this to her. ANUSUYA Did she swallow her tongue? DUHSHANTA loses track of the phone. ZECHARIAH. DUHSHANTA Do you have food? PRIYAMVADA If we have any once we get there it won’t be for you. Then rapidly. I think Shakuntala is ill. 41 . HAGGAI. JONAH. DUHSHANTA My bones are powder. NAHUM. HABAKUK. ZEPHANIAH. MICAH.. PRIYAMVADA Listen. if you’re a goner. Darlings! PRIYAMVADA Is that Sister Shakuntala? Put her back on. DUHSHANTA Hello? PRIYAMVADA Oh.. I’m seeing yetis.This Is Shakuntala PRIYAMVADA OBADIAH. SHAKUNTALA Reaching from her siezure. DUHSHANTA This is not Shakuntala’s own affliction. you yellow breasted bustard! DUHSHANTA Who is this? PRIYAMVADA Are you going to skin her alive and boil her bones in carbonic acid for an encore? DUHSHANTA Sister Priyamvada.
frisky femured girl. SHAKUNTALA Dear friends. what chill may cool our breasts? SHAKUNTALA Wait. DUHSHANTA catches her by the ankle. SHAKUNTALA No. DUHSHANTA 42 . DUHSHANTA If our cheeks can so cool beside each other. Your face by mine is cooling already. let’s dissipate this heat together. I’m not that kind of nun. I think you’ll break the wagon. PRIYAMVADA Something about femurs.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Beautiful girl. PRIYAMVADA To ANUSUYA. don’t draw tight your cords for this one. no. Give them room. PRIYAMVADA Hello? Did you put down the phone? SHAKUNTALA To DUHSHANTA. I may forfeit my own in a whiff of dust or drowned in a pool of my own melting. They are not here. ANUSUYA What are they saying? SHAKUNTALA Oh. DUHSHANTA Oh. you’ll not lose your place. SHAKUNTALA tips over the wagon. I think he dropped the phone. ANUSUYA Really? PRIYAMVADA I can hear talking. PRIYAMVADA Pick up the phone! DUHSHANTA Let them come and take space here.
YETI The law will make him impervious to the law. but we may make something which will live and find its way. There’s none to hear you. PRIYAMVADA I’m still on the phone! Somebody pick up! SHAKUNTALA squirms across the ice. YETI The storm will make him impervious to the storm. DUHSHANTA HER MOUTH SAYS NO BUT HER EYES SAY SUNNY SIDE UP! DUHSHANTA throws the phone and grabs SHAKUNTALA by the rope around her ankles. YETI The ice will make him impervious to ice. scream. YETI The sun will make him impervious to sun. Shakuntala. SHAKUNTALA There are yetis about. 43 . SHAKUNTALA You’re mad. SHAKUNTALA Rape! Rape! DUHSHANTA Go on. YETI The wind will make him impervious to wind. SHAKUNTALA Oh.This Is Shakuntala We may be lost. SHAKUNTALA Where’s the happiness? We’ve lost the Pole ourselves and you’ll try to satisfy yourself on me. DUHSHANTA It’ll be like he was five boys in one. where is the providence in fate? DUHSHANTA Don’t blame fate for a happy ending. DUHSHANTA grabs the phone. What baby would survive this? DUHSHANTA It’s the thigmatropic law.
who would queen you? SHAKUNTALA It doesn’t matter what I thought. Do not forget me. leave your former purpose for a sheet of ice and me. Priyamvada.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Yetis. And as easily tied together again. unworn in death. Stab it set in innocence into each night. and now scrape away from me.. The sun will stumble daily On your cracked and crackled corpse. dear. unused in life. DUHSHANTA Fly then. Is that. They’re so passive aggressive the worst they’ll do is refuse to watch. Here. there’s no forgetting. But join the ground in crystal And lie forever a crusty hedgerow on the heath. DUHSHANTA I could let you free. We’ll never make the Pole. Shifty Shakuntala.. SHAKUNTALA Weeping. DUHSHANTA undoes the knot at SHAKUNTALA’s ankles with a jerk. friends and refugees. Will ever keep this cinder flesh. Why would you go to the Pole. SHAKUNTALA Wailing. DUHSHANTA Vows are as easily cut. SHAKUNTALA kicks her legs. I’m sorry I cannot relieve you. SHAKUNTALA Not by cutting the ropes. PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA dash out. Be free. DUHSHANTA Oh.? PRIYAMVADA Seeing the same. Oh. reject calling and comfort. 44 . Though his arm flops about from fatigue. she drags herself. Your body will not moulder nor resolve. ANUSUYA Spying something. PRIYAMAVADA The line’s gone dead now. DUHSHANTA keeps his hand clamped on the rope.
DUHSHANTA WHINE AND COMPLAIN! I don’t have food. You can free the world. I’m too hot. but it would be nice if you would keep your criticisms to yourself. I’m dying of scurvy. Yet. 45 . Who’d have thought food was so crucial to an Antarctic expedition? And whatever happened to the fabled hardiness of nuns? I almost wish I had that English fop with me again. It’s not like I didn’t plan.This Is Shakuntala I cannot move! DUHSHANTA sags. it’s easy. you don’t have to do anything. SHAKUNTALA Don’t ask again. Like falling off a log and then you’ve got your hands and your legs all four to scamper across the ice as you wish. I won’t bear your child. Please. so much the better to go sooner. Sister. SHAKUNTALA It’s not enough to have my feet and not my hands. I’m not gangrenous in the least. Give me something to do while I expire and if it chokes me. DUHSHANTA What a waste of an excursion. Teasing. I’LL CUT MY WRISTS! WHAT WAY IS THERE OUT OF IT?! SHAKUNTALA holds out her wrists.. too. I’ve swabbed lepers. How could I fail? Bother.. SHAKUNTALA It would leave no scampering in me. You’d be surprised how invigorating it can be. DUHSHANTA Oh. So now she’s off and I’m left sitting here with this rope to wear myself. Mister. and I can bear that weight. except that he’d be absolutely no good for child bearing. If you could just lie still and shut up I might blast this blazing heat of ours. SHAKUNTALA Aside. DUHSHANTA Nah. hey. SHAKUNTALA You can free my wrists. But you’d rather I made it easier for you to abandon ship. I brought rope. I brought sun glasses. I need my hands! Is that all you know to do?! I’ve sunk us both. To tell you the truth. I may as well eat the rope. And I’ll cut your wrists. Like a York Peppermint Patty. DUHSHANTA C’mon Curly Q. DUHSHANTA That’s not reassuring to the rejected. Whatever happened to the hardiness of nuns?! SHAKUNTALA I’m hardy.
That was not very poetic. SHAKUNTALA Do it quickly. Oh. DUHSHANTA Aside. You’re like fresh poured tar.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Struggles to set the wagon upright. do not fear bad conduct on my part. His lips quiver. But don’t tell me she doesn’t want it. DUHSHANTA nudges the wagon out of the way and drags himself to SHAKUNTALA. SHAKUNTALA Gross! 46 . SHAKUNTALA Get on with it. somewhere. There’s someone. No. Ma dear a. If you look closely you can see the sparkle in her eye that twinkles. To SHAKUNTALA. she’s as much in this as I. SHAKUNTALA Shocked by his touch. Gadfrey. “I’ll be the mother of the world. DUHSHANTA puts his tongue in SHAKUNTALA’s eye. I have ice in my eye. DUHSHANTA These are not poetic times. She recoils.” She just wants to to have a convincing case that she only buckled under the constraint of the moment. DUHSHANTA hasn’t the strength to get the wagon up. SHAKUNTALA It’s not fear. but don’t fear it. Marmoset Mouth. right now who’s thinking badly of me. SHAKUNTALA Your conduct is bad. Ah. I’ll get it out. DUHSHANTA Hold still. She’s so shriveled on our trek that the cord hangs loose about her wrists and she could easily pull free all by herself. He takes SHAKUNTALA by the wrists. Let’s try on the sled. DUHSHANTA leans his mouth close to SHAKUNTALA’s eye. forget it. I thought I was burning up. DUHSHANTA Yes. Her eyelids tremble.
Oh. It’s Mother Theresa. I have a statue of St.This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA spits in DUHSHANTA’s eye. DUHSHANTA turns the wagon over himself as PRIYAMVADA and ANUSUYA enter. How are you feeling? SHAKUNTALA I’m dying of scurvy. MOTHER Now. that is it. MOTHER Oh. DUHSHANTA Oh. Hide. Christopher for you and a small bag of Doritos. Sister Shakuntala. PRIYAMVADA We ran into each other on the glacier. MOTHER Can you crawl? SHAKUNTALA Not very far. Together they manipulate a MOTHER THERESA marionette. MOTHER Can you sing? SHAKUNTALA What tune? MOTHER 47 . VOICE FROM THE ETHER HOW DEE! SHAKUNTALA In a scurvy sodden flurry. MOTHER Can you walk? SHAKUNTALA No. so glad I found you. dear. DUHSHANTA pins SHAKUNTALA’s head to the ground and leans over her. She’ll tear your arms off. DUHSHANTA Hide? SHAKUNTALA You don’t know Mother Theresa like I do.
any tune will do. MOTHER Goodness. If you want to see one that badly I’ll build one right here. With a final nod from MOTHER THERESA. Oh. MOTHER THERESA. This will be even better. dear. SHAKUNTALA I can’t sing. MOTHER THERESA begins to fashion a phallic symbol from the ice. produces a homing pigeon. She speaks to it in Morse Code.. SHAKUNTALA But you’ve never been there. MANY’S THE TIME I’VE BEEN MISTAKEN AND MANY TIMES CONFUSED YES. in the manner of a prestidigitator. dear. Sisters of lilarasa. SHAKUNTALA You’ll get us back to the ice shelf? MOTHER Yes. ANUSUYA and PRIYAMVADA sling backpacks from their backs and begin to set up camp around the overturned wagon. MOTHER THERESA sings. dear.This Is Shakuntala Oh. Can I not serve man and me? DUHSHANTA appears apart from the camp. where do duty and dharma cross? When I would have one the other foils me and back again. BEEP BIP BEEP BEEP BIP BIP BEEP BEEP BEEP BIP BEEP BIP BIP BEEP BIP BIP BEEP BEEP BIP BIP BEEP. but it may be awhile.. Dig in. There’s not really a pole at the South Pole. the pigeon flies off. 48 . it’s only a phallic symbol. AND I’VE OFTEN FELT FORSAKEN AND CERTAINLY MISUSED. SHAKUNTALA I’ll never see the Pole. MOTHER Oh. SHAKUNTALA Aside. MOTHER Some things you just know. Help’s on the way.
YETI Poison? DUHSHANTA Umm. I am no man! Those of the old world move On commodities and bonds. Too much talk.. I’m a long way from the Pole. Raging. but I was this close to a new kingdom. And here is the mouse on a wheel. It would have given me the strength to go on. The papers of plenty Like space sleds down avenues and across oceans in heartblinks. It goes before the wind. YETI What is swifter than the wind? DUHSHANTA Snow. and the child would have pretty much gestated by the time we reached the turning point. I should have taken her right away. YETI What can cover the earth? DUHSHANTA CNN. inertia? YETI Defeat? DUHSHANTA 49 . YETI What is grief? DUHSHANTA Inertia. Futures and measures.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA One step forward and two steps back.. YETI Are there more living or dead? DUHSHANTA Where? YETI What is space? DUHSHANTA The final frontier.
ANUSUYA’S VOICE She’s gone again. Back in her habit.This Is Shakuntala Inertia! Hey. SHAKUNTALA sits on the wagon. A match flares in the darkness apart from SHAKUNTALA. Eight months pregnant. PRIYAMVADA’S VOICE You think she’s sneaking out of camp with yetis? Go back to sleep. He’s dead and frozen into the plateau. ANUSUYA So? PRIYAMVADA She said she goes out looking for rock samples. 50 . how long is this going to go on? YETI What is the greatest mystery? DUHSHANTA Every day children are born beside us and we live as though death rules the world. ANUSUYA’S VOICE Maybe yetis. ANUSUYA’S VOICE Should we tell on her? PRIYAMVADA’S VOICE What if she’s just going out to pee? ANUSUYA’S VOICE I think something’s out there. ANUSUYA’s and PRIYAMVADA’s faces appear in the light. PRIYAMVADA’S VOICE He’s dead. We’ll ask her about it in the morning. Scene 2 Darkness. Are you awake? PRIYAMVADA’S VOICE Yes. ANUSUYA’S VOICE Psst. Narrow light comes up on SHAKUNTALA sitting on the overturned wagon. PRIYAMVADA’S VOICE No kidding.
This Is Shakuntala ANUSUYA You believe her. I don’t believe her. ANUSUYA So where are the samples? Huh? PRIYAMVADA You can’t expect her to find anything. Narrow light appears on ANUSUYA standing apart from SHAKUNTALA. don’t you. 51 . Pause. ANUSUYA I won’t want to hear about it. ANUSUYA Seeing something. ANUSUYA and PRIYAMVADA pick up rock samples. not a geologist. A match flares and lights a lantern in the darkness apart from SHAKUNTALA. Light. ANUSUYA I have terrible night vision. Silence. fine. Shh. ANUSUYA Something’s got to be done. PRIYAMVADA No. PRIYAMVADA blows out the match. PRIYAMVADA No. She’s a nun. ANUSUYA appears beside her. I agree. Pause. PRIYAMVADA steps into the light. PRIYAMVADA Alright. But if I see her going to the bathroom I will never speak to you again. PRIYAMVADA I don’t believe she’s seeing yetis. ANUSUYA So you’ll follow her? PRIYAMVADA You do it. PRIYAMVADA holds the lantern. Blackout. PRIYAMVADA blows the lantern out. ANUSUYA Yes you do.
Do you think she’s showing? PRIYAMVADA A little. that’s a heckuva face. ANUSUYA Well. ANUSUYA Well. ANUSUYA So. ANUSUYA How do you think he didn’t freeze to death? PRIYAMVADA Maybe the yetis kept him warm. she didn’t take the bucket. ANUSUYA No. what’s she off doing? Think she’s looking for him? PRIYAMVADA Please. she hasn’t said anything. then she’ll say something. PRIYAMVADA Give us a chance to get off the plateau. PRIYAMVADA He’s already forgotten her name. ANUSUYA Do you think Mother Theresa’s noticed? PRIYAMVADA She doesn’t notice things like open sores and plague infected mucus. Pregnant nuns she notices. I mean.This Is Shakuntala ANUSUYA She hasn’t been off by herself in days. Another week and he’ll forget her face. you gotta admit. too. y’know. ANUSUYA Maybe she wanted to stay. PRIYAMVADA 52 . PRIYAMVADA Model prisoner. Who’s gonna forget the image of that blooming face against a world of dry ice? PRIYAMVADA Who’s gonna forget the sacred vows of a holy order? ANUSUYA Oh.
end of story. happened. PARK RANGER From the ether. Ma’am. PRIYAMVADA hands ANUSUYA a bucket filled with rock samples. ladies. ANUSUYA Uh oh. It’s the Park Ranger. down. PARK RANGER appears on his way to where he was going. PARK RANGER Give a hoot.This Is Shakuntala You don’t always take the bucket. Somebody’s going to forget and dump on you one of these days. you know. We’d be in a fine pickle if everyone forgot things so easily as you. PRIYAMVADA Sidling. HOLY FLAPJACKS! WHAT IN THE SAM HILL IS GOING ON HERE? PRIYAMVADA Oh. What goes around comes around. Ma’am. No. That’s what I predict. Ma’am. I’m afraid it’s not so simple as a ticket. I forgot not to park my Volvo on your cocker spaniel. It’s getting to be just too big a mess the ecosystem can’t stand the strain. Do I leave this sort of thing in your living room? Weren’t you ever taught to leave a campsite cleaner than it was when you arrived? Ma’am. I’m sorry.. Couldn’t she just get a ticket or something? PARK RANGER Oh. worse than mud. You and your camp mates and your team leader and your whole pottie abrogating operation! Shut down. Oh. Anyway. About seven billion dollars of a fine. 53 . you can’t leave this here! This is a fragile ecosystem. What with that revolutionary loose on the plateau they may shut you down. uh.. And it looks like plenty of you’s gone around. crap. don’t think that she won’t. don’t pollute. I can’t afford a ticket for dumping on the plateau. Ma’am. PARK RANGER From the ether. the whole thing. And how’s the plateau today? PRIYAMVADA We heard what just. Yes. do you? ANUSUYA Yes.N. The refugees will just have to run wild and free like the antelope. PARK RANGER Good afternoon. how embarrassing. I have no choice but to report you to the U. You know what your name’s gonna be. I don’t believe it’s possible to forget not to go to the bathroom on the ground. she’ll pay a fine. When word of this gets out your name’s gonna be mud no. PARK RANGER No. Ma’am.
They didn’t poop here. but there must be some penalty. Have a good day on the plateau. Okay. That tarpaulin’s going to cost a pretty penny. How else will she learn her lesson? PRIYAMVADA But she’s not going to forget again don’t you see the logic? PARK RANGER Ah. I see where you’re going.This Is Shakuntala PRIYAMVADA Go clean it up. The Parks Department can investigate a murder if it’s committed in a public park. Now. Now. we’ll shrink wrap the continent to prevent any further contamination. The Romans started granting poop pardons and the Huns wiped them out. There’s a cry and a thud. ANUSUYA hurls the tent stake offstage. But the fine is still there. See. Ma’am. I am required to inform you that you may contest this curse by producing a token at the appointed hour. You’re very nice nuns. But it’s an immutable law of the universe the park ranger spoke it: someone will forget her. that’s very neighborly of you. if you’ll excuse me. but cleaning it up at this point won’t do much good. the law is the law. It’s impossible to restore an ecosystem as pristine as the Polar Plateau once it’s been introduced to human feces. ANUSUYA Isn’t there any way to appeal? PARK RANGER Ma’am. and I don’t know why the UN should have to pay for it. you’re standing in a public park. Pause. It’s no use complaining to me. 54 . ANUSUYA There are fossils in there. as pure as I’m sure it is. PRIYAMVADA What if we cleaned it up and sprayed the area with 409? PARK RANGER ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! There’s an ozone hole above us the size of Antarctica and you brought 409 out here? PRIYAMVADA We can’t pay a fine like that. Ma’am. Antarctic fossils! PARK RANGER Oh. I don’t have to issue a citation. I have some phytoplankton to classify. what we’re going to have to do now is the Parks Department will stretch an enormous plastic tarpaulin over Antarctica and using a colossal magnifying glass. okay. She’d have to sell a country or sue Philip Morris for that kind of money. PARK RANGER strides out. PARK RANGER She should of thought of that before she voided herself on the Polar Plateau. listen. yes. We’re not in a position to grant exceptions even to nun poop. crap is serious business and it’s bad no matter who it comes from.
they thought. one thought nagged them all: would he remember? PRIYAMVADA On TV behind the SCHOLAR WITH THE INNER TUBE. And Shakuntala was as big as a house. More than enough to pay Shakuntala’s fine. PRIYAMVADA Yeah. it could be worse. It’s surprising. ANUSUYA He could have been mad. PRIYAMVADA Yeah. They wear orange habits. At least.This Is Shakuntala Blackout. setting in motion a chain of events which were to alter her life forever.N. her fossils turned out to be an extraordinary scientific find. 55 . I figured when her dad found out he’d have gone hunting that Duhshanta. he could hide them. She wears an elaborate. PRIYAMVADA Yeah. white wedding gown which gracefully brings out her eyes and emphasizes her pregnant belly. She collapses in a fit and beats the ground with her bouquet. Scene 3 TV screen projection hologram lights up. they were plastered with doodie. ANUSUYA and PRIYAMVADA speak without irony. Real mad. Unfortunately. it could be worse. ANUSUYA Well. Furthermore. though. ANUSUYA and PRIYAMVADA are chained together at the neck. and could intervene for them with the U. SHAKUNTALA blasts by them. and on the open market they would have fetched as much as seven hundred million dollars apiece. SCHOLAR WITH AN INNER TUBE And so Anusuya killed the Park Ranger with a tent stake. as she expected. He had sex with her in a Radio Flyer wagon on the polar plateau! SCHOLAR WITH AN INNER TUBE They hoped for the best. shrieking. though over her head is drawn her nun’s habit. left and right wrists. Their only hope was that Duhshanta had made it to the South Pole. had become King of the World. and left and right ankles. ANUSUYA I was real surprised. actually. Light elsewhere. But. ANUSUYA She looks nice.
They’re very close. ANUSUYA What did he say when he found out she was pregnant? PRIYAMVADA “You have not proved an object of regret for me. it really is crooked. for your wedding.” ANUSUYA That’s sweet. I’m leaving it behind. NUNS Pax tibi. The marionette MOTHER THERESA enters manipulated by several nuns. your veil’s a little crooked. MOTHER Ah. MOTHER Well. Straight out of the story books. SHAKUNTALA She’s welcome to it. she just wants to touch it. here’s our little queen. PRIYAMVADA Oh. Here. Sister. 56 . She looks nice.This Is Shakuntala PRIYAMVADA Yeah. ANUSUYA She must have been glad to see him after so much time. SHAKUNTALA STOP IT! MOTHER Now. ANUSUYA weeps. I don’t know why I’m wearing it. SHAKUNTALA slaps ANUSUYA away. yeah. SHAKUNTALA SHUT UP! I HATE YOU! ANUSUYA Pulling PRIYAMVADA toward SHAKUNTALA. ANUSUYA How’d her dad get here so fast? PRIYAMVADA Magic flying machine. of course. Anyway. I always cry at weddings.
oversized. ‘t is blitheringly sorrowful To see one’s progeny about to go. MOTHER That’s what all men say. I’m eight months pregnant. and a stiff. SHAKUNTALA Why not? The rest of my vows don’t mean anything. HARLEQUINS dance across the stage strewing flower petals. MOTHER Of course she’s happy about this. PRIYAMVADA To SHAKUNTALA. a kurta. MOTHER Now. To leave a fluttering the nest they’ve known Since youth to fly and weave a younger home. KALIDASA Alas. They’ll emphasize the sparkle in your eyes. If she gets any luckier we’ll have naked Balinese dancers down here next. First a baby and now diamonds. 57 . He also wears a pointy goatee. A roaring noise comes from the blowing ice. Just wear them to the wedding. The wind blows them all away. and is mostly bald on top. SHAKUNTALA’s father KALIDASA roars into view on a 250cc four wheeled ATV. put on a happy face. maid. Spanish ruff collar. why should my vow of poverty be any different? PRIYAMVADA You don’t have to keep them. take these diamonds we found near Mount Erebus. SHAKUNTALA I wish I was dead. He rolls to a stop and kills the engine. a dhoti. You might not be happy about this. SHAKUNTALA I’m not going to a wedding.This Is Shakuntala SHAKUNTALA I have a common law marriage. He is a fine looking Indian gentleman in sandals. MOTHER Now here. Sister Shakuntala. Here comes your father. SHAKUNTALA There is no snow in the Antarctic. honey. Dad. doth frigidairely glow In purity t’ outwhite the very snow. but somebody is. KALIDASA Thy beauty.
won’t you? Sister Priyamvada. throw rice Upon our happy heads this happy day. dost thou perceive the joy this day Portends forst thou? Then hold thy head and shake It ‘til thou feelst the goodness rattle ‘round Like BB’s. KALIDASA Thou charitable dame. how now art thou? MOTHER I’m lovely. so good to see you again. it’s your father. sugary sauce. as though a ripe Banana newly laid beside a pile Of churnéd cream. ANUSUYA They do that. And how will you eat? SHAKUNTALA The yetis will bring us food. Kalidasa. ANUSUYA 58 . Quite. SHAKUNTALA To ANUSUYA. when dress’d with choppéßd bits Of nuts. KALIDASA My own. You’ll come with me. You always wanted to see a new world. a cherry. So glad you could make it. SHAKUNTALA I canst. it’s a new world. For my own girl goes happily away! SHAKUNTALA I’m going to have my baby right here all by myself and I’ll build an ice fort and we’ll live here forever. Cavorting wind and bellowing cloud. right? PRIYAMVADA No. SHAKUNTALA Yes. Then say if thou canst longer frown. KALIDASA Laughing. Frevocious girl! 0 rocks and blinding ice.This Is Shakuntala I’ll bear this while my mind. MOTHER Hello. An ice fort. Shakuntala. MOTHER Goodness. may split. I heard they do that.
and if you find yourself suddenly going North. SHARNGARAVA rises out of the ice. MOTHER Now. Silence. MOTHER 59 . come to the South Pole. Silence. He puts his fingers to his lips and cuckoos. He’ll pardon you. You just go South. It’s time we left. Duhshanta will be king of the world soon. Sister Shakuntala. SHAKUNTALA No. PRIYAMVADA Charges are filed. it sounds fabulous and all. you know you’ve gone too far. you be tough and smile.This Is Shakuntala Oh. KALIDASA Forsooth! Thy elder brother’s fast arrived To guide you to your destiny alive. SHAKUNTALA You know the way? MOTHER Oh. SHARNGARAVA Present. The sound of a cuckoo. but we have to be here for the hearing. YETIS Straight on and smooth And breezes blow behind you But go briskly on the ice And love will find you. He’s a strapping young brute in WWII issue winter camouflage and cross country skis. your darling elder’s here And will uprightly swallow all thy fear. Sorry. avast and hark! Silence. SHAKUNTALA He’ll acquit you. PRIYAMVADA Yeah. He’ll drop the charges. Silence. dear. Avaunt. it’s easy. my dear. Cuckoo again. Sharngarava. ANUSUYA Send us some pictures of the baby. He’ll commute your sentence. you let us know. SHAKUNTALA I’M NOT GOING ALL THE WAY TO THE SOUTH POLE IN MY CONDITION! KALIDASA Not so. well.
KALIDASA The eighth: in every circumstance. KALIDASA Give. so. The fourth. The fifth. and find Duhshanta sitting on a crystal throne in an ice palace. daughter. give thanks Each day for what thou hast. and he’ll welcome you in and make you an equal among 60 . obey. This last one eight SHAKUNTALA Seven. I’m sure everything’s going to be just fine.This Is Shakuntala Ah. then takes ANUSUYA. SHAKUNTALA How can I bring someone else into this family? PRIYAMVADA looks at her seriously. SHAKUNTALA stands still a moment. And trust thy doting father. SHAKUNTALA Wrenching her arm. You’re on seven. Two. let sins Lie silent in the past. ingest these words And in Duhshanta’s presence pitch them forth Again: you got her. Can you keep precise This message as you travel o’er the ice? SHARNGARAVA Yes. You’re going to reach the South Pole. six. who wins The fight is never wrong. SHAKUNTALA You almost had me going with those first few. SHAKUNTALA Marvelous. PRIYAMVADA. and KALIDASA in an embrace and weeps. a bank Account is wisely started. my son. a fool And money soon are parted. One. Three. Isn’t that sweet. do all You can to get along. KALIDASA Sharngarava. I’ll go myself! KALIDASA Give heed and hearken to these simple rules. arms to friends and to your dad Who will be evermore and after sad. MOTHER They should print that on marriage licenses. now hear those yetis. PRIYAMVADA Sister Shakuntala.
This Is Shakuntala all his wives. It’s monogrammed.. drily. Just hold onto this. too. I’m not saying anything’s going to happen. SHAKUNTALA I’m going! PRIYAMVADA You take this thing! SHAKUNTALA You’re trying to plant evidence on me! PRIYAMVADA Look at it! SHAKUNTALA I’m not looking! I’m on my way! PRIYAMVADA Look at it! It’s got his initials on it! SHAKUNTALA I’m taking my big fat belly to the South Pole! SHARNGARAVA takes the spike from PRIYAMVADA. MOTHER THERESA and the NUNS go. SHAKUNTALA Oh. SHARNGARAVA slides after her. but if he should give you any kind of runaround. PRIYAMVADA Take it! SHAKUNTALA walks away. everything will be fine. PRIYAMVADA holds out DUHSHANTA’s bloody tent stake with her free hand. SHAKUNTALA His wives? PRIYAMVADA Just hear me out. I’m sure... I’m gonna be the queen of the world! See ya! I’m going! SHAKUNTALA disappears in the blowing ice. SHAKUNTALA bellows over her shoulder.. SHAKUNTALA What kind of runaround? I’m eight months pregnant. 61 .. for crying out loud. PRIYAMVADA No.. If . I’m going already.
ACT THREE Scene 1 Sound of enormous gears turning. Marching feet. I says. Blowing ice swirls and whips. Refugee mothers expecting children before 62 . Yeah. A Rolls Royce Silver Ghost shoots by.This Is Shakuntala PRIYAMVADA Well. ANUSUYA Yep. Sure! ANUSUYA Shouting. CHAMBERLAIN slides out of the ice on a conveyor belt. Train whistle. Perchance you’d like names and phone numbers. He shouts over the noise. I’ll tell you. MISTER! There’s a good lad. The South Pole. I’ll give him what for. MIND YOUR P’S AND Q’S. KALIDASA I knoweth some accomplished barristers. That’d be great! Blackout. KALIDASA starts up the four wheeler. The accounts at present tally thus: Refugees in total seven hundred and seventy million four hundred and forty four thousand two hundred and twenty eight. Brilliant light. Wind. Refugee mothers currently expecting children in total eleven million eight hundred thousand one hundred twenty one. PRIYAMVADA Shouting. CHAMBERLAIN So I says to him. Time to start mounting our defense.
The number of refugee scientists currently estimating the amount is in total fifteen thousand two hundred and twenty one. DUHSHANTA Chamberlain! How much ice is left to remove from the cap? CHAMBERLAIN Can’t say. Your Majesty.. white scarf. sandals. Currencies currently accepted as legal tender among refugees in Antarctica in total two hundred and twelve. Mean depth of ice removed from the ice cap to date in total one thousand three hundred and seventy one feet continent wide. Refugees expected by courier service by week’s end in total four hundred fifty seven thousand one hundred and one. and melted ice. Refugee husbands planning to put refugee wives in the family way by week’s end in total fifty thousand ninety three. Refugees at work in various services in support of the polar ice cap shaving in total two hundred seventy two million eight hundred sixty two thousand seven hundred fifty two. Number of penguins ingested raw by refugees in order to prevent the onset of scurvy in total. DUHSHANTA stands in the driver’s seat. Languages currently spoken among refugees in Antarctica in total eight hundred and three. DUHSHANTA How was it? CHAMBERLAIN Delicious. Refugees presently at work shaving the ice off the polar ice cap in total two hundred forty eight million nine hundred thirty six thousand four hundred twelve. Flags forsaken by refugees in Antarctica in total two hundred and twelve. pulverized walnuts. did you? CHAMBERLAIN Certainly did! And I poured over it a sauce of my own device made from corn syrup. DUHSHANTA Splendid! Have your raw penguin today. Surface area of Antarctic over which ice removal is currently taking place in total 8 million two hundred and forty five thousand square miles. Silver Ghost slides across the ice to a graceful stop nothing to run into . Refugees expected by boat from the various northern continents of the planet by week’s end in total one million nine hundred ninety thousand nine hundred ninety nine. Refugees on leave in total one hundred fifteen thousand six hundred seven. DUHSHANTA Delightful! Who’s your pal? CHAMBERLAIN 63 ..This Is Shakuntala the end of the month in total three hundred and eighty six thousand five hundred fifty. Refugees purporting to assume the title KING OF THE WORLD in total one. DUHSHANTA wears a white dhoti and kurta. Flags of unbroken white fly from forward posts. white driving goggles and cap. Refugees expected by their own inventive means by week’s end sixty some odd thousand.
its ice and molded stone The cut rocks by wind. this sharp air. CHAMBERLAIN Carrier penguin. seals. terns. CHAMBERLAIN removes and unrolls the letter. DUHSHANTA reads. Holy Smoke! What old congress of countries can dispute me? A penguin wanders out of the blowing ice with a rolled up piece of paper strapped to its neck. Did I mention the ice? CHAMBERLAIN Oh. Your Highness. The dust of all northern lands blows my way And takes up shovels and picks In service of this new. last nation. Between that time and this Half the ice cap’s disappeared By my direction. Bent by my geometry in loyal circles Though just last month Late and lost to the Pole. 64 . This Pole.This Is Shakuntala You are. All the light and darkness and the polar time they split. Each particle and piece Draws an orbit on my mark. DUHSHANTA Yes? CHAMBERLAIN Handing the letter to DUHSHANTA From the United Nations. DUHSHANTA Don’t let that penguin get away. yes. DUHSHANTA Who’s your pal? CHAMBERLAIN You are. DUHSHANTA I’m your pal! DUHSHANTA steps out onto the hood of the automobile. Penguins. CHAMBERLAIN chases the penguin. DUHSHANTA It spins around my axis. on this plateau I pulled myself with hardly strength to push my blood through my veins. whales. sire.
let it go. swell its borders Swallow the smaller. Sincerely. Sorry.N. Build a city. Finland says we’re all a bunch of babies. It sounds like you’ve got your hands full down there. How is it going? Too cold for us! Winter’s coming on here in New York and that’s more than enough as far as we’re concerned. The United Nations. deborder. Reading. U. WHAT KIND OF CRAP IS THIS?! P. general secretary. Apportion the remains to the conquered and weaker. five hundred fifty four. and take a letter! CHAMBERLAIN What do I do with the penguin? DUHSHANTA Oh. Anyway. We look forward to hearing from you again. but we told him he could spend a year with you and he said no. DUHSHANTA What men are these who so pant Their emptiness the asteroids of space can hear it? What dream have they that right Takes residence in their catalogs of self titles? What hope do they own that might More than theirs will not make room for itself.This Is Shakuntala Joint resolution three seven four two eight one “R”. thanks.S. Thanks again for writing. We were so glad to hear from you last week. undersigned by the U. Honduras just offered you asylum. As for your inquiry: I’m afraid we’re full up with countries at the moment. wait. What’s our military number? CHAMBERLAIN Refugees enlisted in the regular army in total three hundred and eight.A. Bombing. all that down there’s supposed to be a refugee camp. and notarized three days ago by Ellen Green. DUHSHANTA Call up the reserves. 65 . name it capital. CHAMBERLAIN I got him. So.S. splinter its rivals. Border. my fat bottom! CHAMBERLAIN comes up with the penguin. Dear Duhshy.: we’ve set up an embargo and the bombing will begin in fifteen minutes. The penguin scuttles away as CHAMBERLAIN takes up pen and paper. what we’d prefer is that you disappear in some South American country oh. guys and leave the refugees to the nuns. five hundred fifty five thousand. and reborder them all With the same strong badge their bombs and blockades blankly flash? I am the king of the world. We’ll chase down another. counter signed by representatives of all the nations on earth. notary public. Refugees enlisted in the volunteer reserves in total five hundred fifty five million. State of Wisconsin. Dane County.
I’ll use him for a human shield! DUHSHANTA and ENGLISHMAN laugh. CHAMBERLAIN Bother. Duhshanta. Shall I let them in? DUHSHANTA A vet? Really? Does he have one of those fold up shovels? CHAMBERLAIN I’ll check. Mother Theresa’s at the palace accompanied by a pregnant nun in a wedding dress and a World War II vet in winter camouflage. And we have plenty of food. the King of the World. The ice cap is nearly gone. CHAMBERLAIN Your Highness.N. I sympathize. DUHSHANTA No kidding? He’s certainly keeping strange company these days. CHAMBERLAIN dashes off into the swirling ice. but you can never be sure that they really know where the important things are. CHAMBERLAIN Perhaps he’s representing the UN.N.This Is Shakuntala Dear U. Thank you for your recent letter. Everything here is well. Mother Theresa. believe me. boobies will actually hit anything as important as the palace. Now go find a penguin and get that thing off. CHAMBERLAIN stands aside. and. a pregnant nun.. DUHSHANTA If that’s the case. Those things didn’t use to run so fast. They say they have a message from Kalidasa. CHAMBERLAIN Your Highness. Sincerely yours. DUHSHANTA Strike up the band! A song for Mount Erebus! Music plays. 66 . Go ahead and let them in. and a former G. I’ll soon flood the northward earth with weak and simple things y’all will find unhappily familiar like the nicknames of people whose given names you’ve forgotten.I. I don’t really expect those U. I’ve been in New York in the winter. and the numbers of refugees arriving at my shores from your countries nearly doubles daily. ON TOP OF OLD SMOKY ALL COVERED WITH SNOW I LEFT MY POOR SWEETHEART FOR A COURTIN’ TOO SLOW SHE WANTED A PALACE SHE WANTED A CROWN BUT WHEN I SAID “CHILDREN” SHE WAS TRUE TO HER VOW CHAMBERLAIN slides in on a conveyor belt. Go ahead and drop your bombs. DUHSHANTA sings.
DUHSHANTA returns the shovel. and refers to SHAKUNTALA and SHARNGARAVA. SHARNGARAVA Sir. The king would like to know if you have one of those fold up shovels. CHAMBERLAIN They have a message from the reverend Kalidasa.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Excellent. That’s what you said. I have a headache. radio flyer wagon. Oh. DUHSHANTA Let me see that. sir. dear. Duhshanta’s shoveling. First time they’ve been early for anything. DUHSHANTA takes the shovel. DUHSHANTA Wow. Well balanced. DUHSHANTA Oh. 67 . SHARNGARAVA Sir. right. yes. DUHSHANTA clears his throat. SHARNGARAVA unfolds his shovel. SHAKUNTALA To MOTHER. SHAKUNTALA in her white wedding dress and nun’s habit seems worn out. son. sir! DUHSHANTA Oh. A bomb falls. CHAMBERLAIN His Royal Highness King Duhshanta. yes. MOTHER THERESA marionette and SHARNGARAVA draw in SHAKUNTALA in a red. No man’s got a problem when he can dig himself a hole. Are you two getting married? SHAKUNTALA swoons. Durable. How is everything back in the old country? A few more bombs. Ah. I see you’ve used it. MOTHER Shh. It’s beautiful. sir! I’d sooner dig myself a hole in a snow bank any day of the week than melt myself in a puffy mattress like a pat of butter on a spud. I’m with you there.
. So now receive her swollen to thy heart! Take thou she ever blameless to thy bed. Was worthy choice on thy insightful part. Who turns the day to night and night to day. DUHSHANTA As opposed to what other kind of king? MOTHER No. MOTHER Can I say something? Bombs. DUHSHANTA Certainly. DUHSHANTA Pardon me? MOTHER How far should I back up? DUHSHANTA No. blah. MOTHER Uh. And here before our witness her thee wed! Bombs. DUHSHANTA Go on. ah! Shakuntala. ensign of nations. vanguard of the downtrodden. More bombs.. I heard what you said. ! DUHSHANTA Blah.. resplendent as the sun. the treat Of springtime. Who guards the world and frees its folks of strife.. he didn’t say. Thou art most worthiest of men.. SHARNGARAVA Thou sovereign king who sagely governs life. Whose belly baketh even now a bun. MOTHER 68 .This Is Shakuntala MOTHER His message to you is: Thou sovereign king. blah.. Who brings the rains and drives the clouds away.
This Is Shakuntala She never listened to me. replacing cartridges in the cylinder. SHAKUNTALA I came to the Pole to marry my child’s father. get someone to restrain this nun and remove her habit. DUHSHANTA returns. Bombs. An airplane stalls and shrieks into an explosion. SHAKUNTALA There isn’t going to be any wedding! I’m going to be a single nun mom. What have you to say for yourself? Bombs. DUHSHANTA So we’ll publish your picture to see if your face rings any bells. DUHSHANTA draws an ivory handled revolver. It’s time to take that off. CHAMBERLAIN Yeah. look. SHAKUNTALA Well? What do you say? Bombs. SHAKUNTALA I saved your life! DUHSHANTA What? When? MOTHER Well. The YETIS hold SHAKUNTALA. If you don’t want to know me. leave it at that and I’ll stay a nun. It’s not big enough to hide all of you and not small enough to pass for hair. SHAKUNTALA and the rest gasp and shrink. but cannot. SHAKUNTALA fends off MOTHER THERESA. DUHSHANTA There’s not going to be any single nun moms in my Antarctica. SHAKUNTALA keeps MOTHER from removing the habit. that is enough! Bombs fall. so she’s hardly free of responsibility for this whole thing. but you didn’t exactly go in the front door. of course he doesn’t recognize you. Chamberlain. This one’s mine. YETIS appear. Six gunshots. SHAKUNTALA Go get your own veil. Are you saying I knocked her up? SHAKUNTALA tries to rise from the wagon. okay. Take that thing off and we’ll find you a nice Episcopalian priest to marry. You’ve got that habit wrapped around your face. 69 . DUHSHANTA Alright. DUHSHANTA jumps up. DUHSHANTA runs away.
DUHSHANTA Looking SHAKUNTALA over. DUHSHANTA Sweet merciful crap! The YETIS tear off SHAKUNTALA’s second habit and send it fluttering. Hm. MOTHER Ave Maria. Another habit is intact on SHAKUNTALA beneath it. Another habit is intact on SHAKUNTALA beneath it. and who will I be then? The YETIS tear off SHAKUNTALA’s habit and send it fluttering through the air. To SHAKUNTALA. 70 . et al. Aside. There is a huge pile of habits.This Is Shakuntala You’ll take one face and not replace it with another. Whether or no she’s mother by another I’ll own up I’m caught and falling In ellipsis to and from her. SHAKUNTALA ARE YOU HAPPY ARE YOU HAPPY BROTHER JOHN? BROTHER JOHN? IF YOU BREAK YOUR GUITAR WILL YOU PLAY THE SITAR? DING DONG DIN DING DONG DIN ARE YOU SNAPPY ARE YOU SNAPPY BROTHER JUAN? BROTHER JUAN? VERY PLEASED TO MEET YOU NEXT I THINK I’LL EAT YOU DING DONG DIN DING DONG DIN ARE YOU NAPPY THIN AND SCRAPPY BROTHER TRAN? BROTHER TRAN? IF YOU AREN’T BIZARRE YOU WON’T GO VERY FAR DING DONG DIN DING DONG DIN The YETIS give up. The YETIS tear off habit after habit while SHAKUNTALA sings.
no. There was new life between us in this radio flyer wagon. SHAKUNTALA Oh.This Is Shakuntala Listen. Which gods are now battling over the chance to strike him deaf and dead for this blank abuse? To DUHSHANTA. SHARNGARAVA pulls SHAKUNTALA back. I saved him from scurvy with food and myself and hoped he’d reach the Pole and welcome me. Where’s my tent stake? MOTHER The Park Ranger kept them all when we landed on the Ross Ice Shelf. DUHSHANTA Tent stake. All that was left for me went to making a baby. You took your portion and got better and got to the Pole. I’m as interested in progeny as the next guy. She searches frantically in her dress and habit. SHAKUNTALA No. SHAKUNTALA Who else’s? I’ve been living with nuns for fifteen years! MOTHER We’re not accusing you of anything seamy. Now. And this is somebody else’s baby. And I don’t have insurance. DUHSHANTA Covering his ears. SHAKUNTALA When I find that tent stake I’m going to punch your eyes out. and I’m just about finished. DUHSHANTA It’s not at all consensual. I had one. now. DUHSHANTA 71 . DUHSHANTA catches her. SHAKUNTALA Aside. A few hundred miles back we burned ill together in desperate straights on the polar plateau. and now there’s a whole kingdom needing a successor. now. DUHSHANTA She’s going to hurt herself. that’s it. SHAKUNTALA To MOTHER THERESA. enough! I feel like there’s a millstone around my neck. SHAKUNTALA overturns the wagon and throws herself weakly at DUHSHANTA. But I’m not going to jeopardize this whole operation by muddling the waters of legal succession with somebody else’s baby. I haven’t agreed to anything. Kalidasa’s pretty well convinced the whole thing was consensual. no.
DUHSHANTA steps apart from the others. what’s the use? You got me. Living truly is nothing but trouble and the rats grow fat. I’m a whore. You split my nativity scene with it. SHAKUNTALA 72 . SHAKUNTALA It was your own stake. My life is public. You killed my habit with it when it got out of control. next. doesn’t it. Those eyes indignantly arched. DUHSHANTA Wait just a moment while I go talk to myself. SHAKUNTALA Oh. And fetchingly too I declare I’m quite spun By her trembling mouth. Wrestling together at her nose Rolling dark furrows in her brows And blazing red Honest injun. SHAKUNTALA You are a whited sepulchre. what a warm woman! I wonder if anyone would believe I did knock her up? DUHSHANTA returns to the group. Were I not oddly bold to be right She’d convince me I’m wrong. There was a man from Kansas City with a shotgun. SHARNGARAVA Get it in writing. More bombs fall. SHARNGARAVA drops SHAKUNTALA and turns to go. You can’t leave her. You smuggled it into Antarctica somehow. I’m set aback Not by my guilt But her anger.This Is Shakuntala Chamberlain. and the happy ones get it in writing! SHAKUNTALA You can’t leave me! The world is broken. Blast. people! I can’t stress this enough! There are two kinds of people in the world. Mao Zedong’s going to be crossing the continent in a clockwork tank. and no one’s ever mentioned to me that I did this. I ignored the pit and the snake and the bees and trusted the vine and put out my finger for honey. maybe you’d better call in one of the doctors. she’s got red eyes. DUHSHANTA This just gets bigger and bigger. DUHSHANTA She’s right.
I’ve got trouble enough with the U. DUHSHANTA She can’t stay here. miss? SHAKUNTALA I don’t know! Where do the refugees of refugee camps go?! SHARNGARAVA Ah. YETIS throw bombs into the bomb shelter. SHARNGARAVA Where’s left. Chamberlain. CHAMBERLAIN Oh.. my. DUHSHANTA I didn’t tell her she could do that! YETIS stop dropping bombs. MOTHER Oh. YETIS appear with bombs. CHAMBERLAIN If I might say so. The bomb shelter rocks and rumbles from the bombs dropped in by the YETIS. DUHSHANTA By all means. I don’t need rumors flying about the world that I’ve turned Antarctica into some kind of Osho compound.This Is Shakuntala Just take me away. DUHSHANTA Capital idea! And if it turns out that it is my child we can just keep them here secretly until they die! CHAMBERLAIN Quite so! DUHSHANTA Perfect! SHAKUNTALA O fart! Where is the providence in fate? A crevass opens up. SHAKUNTALA steps into it.N. CHAMBERLAIN Why don’t we just keep her here secretly in the bomb shelter until the baby arrives? After that a simple DNA test will officially disprove any connection to you. dear. that’s a policy issue. say so.. how long before our ice shaving operation will uncover her? 73 . They circumambulate the perimeter of the shelter.. miss.
This Is Shakuntala CHAMBERLAIN If it’s a superficial crevass. BAMM sticks her head out. CHAMBERLAIN Apathy is my drug of choice. 74 . BAGG sticks his head out. BUTCHER lifts his garbage can lid. wriggled not to be’s in boats Passing under your unknowing nose To scale the bluffs and sperse bootling inland? Do you staff the bunkers? Are the glint lines sighted on the ways easy Strangers might come by. or do lengths elude you Slipped into gray and shadow. paths left wide Where the frank new might slip inside Build cottages in the countryside And blur simply into your unwalled towns? The BUTCHER. the BAKER. Pause. and the CANDLESTICK MAKER materialize with garbage cans. DUHSHANTA I can’t decide whether to be relieved or consternated. we’ll probably never reach her. right? CHAMBERLAIN If it’s deeper than we think the ice cap itself is. only a couple of days. BAGG Nothing to be done. your highness. or are there gaps Unguarded. DUHSHANTA But she’ll be dead by then. BAGG’s face returns to normal. BAGG’s face contorts into a ferocious smile. MAN Do you know your beaches? Are the ebbing lines where seas meet sand Under your eye. Scene 2 Man handcuffed. Pause. BAKER lifts his garbage can lid.
BUTCHER pulls down MAN’s pants. MAN I found it. CANDLESTICK MAKER lifts his garbage can lid. BAKER hits BAMM in the face with a pie. Are you rich I don’t care are you powerful I don’t care are you famous I don’t care you fat freak who do you know huh who do you know ‘cause I don’t mind hauling them in here to watch you squirm like a worm on a hook you know the mayor I’ll haul him in here nothing says I can’t you know the satrap I got a chair in here with the satrap’s name on it you know Emporer Ming screw Emporer Ming you’re mine baby until you fess up now where you sack of flour did you get the tent stake? Pause. Pause. Pause. Pause. MAN I found it in a penguin’s brain. LOLLIPOP TROLLOP As before. We got the goods on ya ya pinko commie runt we’re in the know ‘cause your boyfriend yah you heard me squealed like a stuck pig in a poke and spilled the beans that’s right out of the frying pan into the fire is where you are pal in the thick of things see ain’t no big daddy to pull no strings for ya this time uptown or downtown ‘cause this is midtown fella and we ain’t playin it’s showtime and you’re the main attraction so start singing birdie and maybe today won’t be the day you get plucked awright now I’ve rolled up the doors on my ears but I have yet to see any syllables from your mouth driving up and parking in my head you flaming hippie scum I shaved this morning and drove down here special to hear your aria and the music’s started so let’s hear some yelping ya hear me I wanna know where you got this tent stake! CANDLESTICK MAKER holds up the tent spike. LOLLIPOP TROLLOP Breakneck speed. LOLLIPOP TROLLOP sticks her head out.This Is Shakuntala Pause. BAMM Like a dog. BAMM Nothing to be done. Arf! Pause. BUTCHER strikes MAN. Pause. 75 . BAGG Nothing to be done.
no. BAMM Shall we go find her? BAGG Yes. But long. LOLLIPOP TROLLOP Same as before. I could do that. BAMM I meant today. BAMM Not too long. Smells it. Pause. Pause. BAMM Did I ever tell you the time I ate a penguin? BAGG Yes. okay. Not too long. So far your story checks out buddy but don’t go thinking you’re off the hook ‘cause the hook is sharp and pointy see it’s your lucky day ‘cause it’s my wife’s birthday and I don’t wanna go home just yet so I’m gonna check out your story you know what I’m saying you knobbly toad I’m gonna check it out and when I come back your head’s gonna roll like a drum. BAMM Hah. CANDLESTICK MAKER disappears with the garbage can and LOLLIPOP TROLLOP. LOLLIPOP TROLLOP takes the spike. MAKE UP! BUTCHER strikes MAN with a giant powderpuff and kicks him in the butt. BAMM Oh. YETIS play pine trees in the back.This Is Shakuntala The penguin was dead. BAGG Well say so. BAGG She’s been gone long. Pause. 76 . BAGG Oh. Pause.
MAN I’d like to see my lawyer. but I’d rather get my information by hearsay. Two GIRLS enter with flashlights. of course. but publicity’s publicity. This should be the Antarctic summer but it’s dark as dung. LOLLIPOP TROLLOP Well well well well well well if it isn’t the cat with nine lives seems the king had a sudden attack of compassion when he saw that spike he turned white as a sheet and nearly fell right off his throne which doesn’t mean we’re suddenly gonna be chummy you and me it just means that for now you’re off my top ten list down to number thirtyfive or so of people to watch so watch it I’m not through with you yet ya big lug. Peter and my mother was The Enlightenment. She asked me to check up on the tyrant. I am the Angel in Little America. They wear smart suits. I suppose. Pause. She gets me all wrong. My father was St. Scene 3 The ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA descends and hovers above the ground. 77 . things seem to be going along quite smashingly. Pause. now. and few have gone so far on public ignorance as the divine Miss A. Where are the refugees? Why are they not pulling to the sea blocks of ice cut from the plateau? I could read the newspaper. SECOND GIRL Indubitably. The first is reading a scroll. FIRST GIRL Well. ANGEL Fear not. He sets the can down. But it’s dark. I’ll just disguise myself as a snowman and hear what these girls have to say.This Is Shakuntala Here she comes. obscuring everything. BAGG Who? CANDLESTICK MAKER reappears with garbage can and LOLLIPOP TROLLOP. Like a tolerant friend of her mother. BAMM No. MAN I’m a dead man. In spite of her faults I remain a friend to Shakuntala’s mother Antoinette who sometimes presumes to speak for me at festivals and such. ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA looks around. Wind whips up the blowing ice. Shakuntala has become like my own self. ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA descends to the ice and becomes a snowman.
no. resolution three fifty seven point three article twelve underscore letter b dot html. Reading.N.’ So. we were all sorta sittin’ around talking last night. FIRST GIRL 78 . certainly not. I just know King Duhshanta will be cool with that. FIRST GIRL Oh. It’s always going ‘I’ve got goosebumps’ and ‘this blanket doesn’t do anything. SECOND GIRL Oh. okay? Thanks so much. SECOND GIRL I’m afraid so.. SECOND GIRL Unquestionably. and we kinda decided to annex you. but Portugal won’t shut up about it.This Is Shakuntala FIRST GIRL This U. let’s both be meows. That okay? If it’s not okay just say so. that’d be really cool. no. FIRST GIRL Thank you so much.. you know. like how are you? This is the U. but when we were all thinking about it last night we were all like ‘Yah.N. the U. you can just abdicate your title and we’ll just send down a temporary peacekeeping force if it’s all cool with you. FIRST GIRL Do you really mean it? SECOND GIRL Quite. You’re the best. uh. SECOND GIRL Shall we? FIRST GIRL Let’s. I believe you are the cat’s meow. Yours is the better reading voice.’ We’re all about to kill it. ‘cause we can annex something else.N. U. how are you doing? We’re like so cold here right now we can’t even tell you. So.N. Love. So. Your voice is ever so much more pleasant than mine. King Duhshanta. SECOND GIRL On the contrary. no. resolution has right properly put King Duhshanta in his place. You read it to me. FIRST GIRL Certainly not. FIRST GIRL Oh. no. You really are the cat’s meow. SECOND GIRL A model of composition. read it again. It’s bad enough that the weather sucks. Oh.
It’s the Seventeenth today. FIRST GIRL No. First GIRL produces a day planner. SECOND GIRL No. By my calculations January Seventeenth is well into the Antarctic Summer. He points a pistol not a revolver at the GIRLS. FIRST GIRL According to my Franklin Planner it is the Seventeenth. My mistake. I’m confounded. so it is. What do you think? FIRST GIRL I asked you first. SECOND GIRL Oh. CHAMBERLAIN slides into view on a conveyor belt. SECOND GIRL You are so kind. 79 . but I do believe it is the Sixteenth. FIRST GIRL Shall we be perplexed together? SECOND GIRL Let’s. I’m sorry. Will you forgive me? FIRST GIRL Certainly. They act perplexity. SECOND GIRL On the contrary. do you think? Is it haze? SECOND GIRL Goodness me. But why isn’t it summer down here? SECOND GIRL Should it be summer down here? FIRST GIRL I’m quite sure it should. my. The Sixteenth. CHAMBERLAIN Take dictation. SECOND GIRL I asked you second. FIRST GIRL So why isn’t the sun out.This Is Shakuntala I certainly agree.
The whole of Antarctica’s under a light hole. SECOND GIRL Today partly cloudy with a chance of blowing ice in the afternoon. FIRST GIRL You’re the boss. SECOND GIRL Whatever you say. Second GIRL listens for a moment. You thought an ozone hole was bad news. Let’s see the U. CHAMBERLAIN Go ahead. no light goes out. FIRST GIRL Preposterous. There’s no light. try it.N. She hands the phone back to first GIRL. 80 . I should have brought a coat. CHAMBERLAIN Do you feel that wind? SECOND GIRL You mean the wind which seems to split our bones open? FIRST GIRL And strip the marrow from inside? CHAMBERLAIN There’s no haze. FIRST GIRL My goodness.This Is Shakuntala FIRST GIRL Excuse me? SECOND GIRL I’m afraid we have no stenographic training. SECOND GIRL Taking the phone. FIRST GIRL Indubitably. First GIRL dials a cell phone and hands it to second GIRL. Thank you so much. No light comes in. CHAMBERLAIN I was speaking metaphorically. annex that. Call the U.N. If you can wait until the haze clears we can have a team air dropped in. SECOND GIRL I most heartily concur.
and there will be no summer. no light. the nuns on the shelf have been turned into penguins. SECOND GIRL I insist. CHAMBERLAIN The king ordered the lights out and the lights are out. SECOND GIRL Oh. excuse me. Only wind and ice. fer. no sun.This Is Shakuntala SECOND GIRL As if catching on to the joke. that’s true. make her act like a chicken. CHAMBERLAIN Oh. FIRST GIRL On the contrary. FIRST GIRL Oh.. CHAMBERLAIN When he saw the tent stake he remembered the wagon. commands all things. SECOND GIRL No. either. No king. FIRST GIRL Oh. SECOND GIRL Hey. are we hypnotized? CHAMBERLAIN No. CHAMBERLAIN pulls the trigger. FIRST GIRL That’s true. he thought. SECOND GIRL Shoot her first. the scurvy. Nor rules any men or taken space With even slight certainty 81 . that’s very good. no. make her act like a chicken. Antarctica will be like the dark side of the moon. And no ice. Quite good.. what remains of the plateau will remain of the plateau. the half clad nun. and knew he hadn’t forgotten such warmth like a common fool. After you. the moon has no wind. CHAMBERLAIN The refugees have been freeze dried and vacuum packed. A light shines out the barrel. I agree completely. Did you hypnotize us? Come on.
This Is Shakuntala When the barest breeze so lifts his thoughts And in whipping wider circles strews them Past his clutching clutching fingers. This king gives up effort To the fast naught of living, Since his tightest thought Unravels of itself. ANGEL But does he sorrow? CHAMBERLAIN He sorrows like a normal man. So summer is cancelled. FIRST GIRL I’m sure the U.N. will express its condolences. She slipped down a crevasse right? SECOND GIRL Indubitably. CHAMBERLAIN Go tell the U.N. to do its worst. King Duhshanta won’t hardly notice. FIRST GIRL After you. SECOND GIRL Oh, no, no, no. After you. FIRST GIRL No, I insist. SECOND GIRL Oh, you are too kind.
Scene 4 DUHSHANTA appears on his throne. He is dressed in a dark suit and sunglasses. A black sunshade stretches overhead. DUHSHANTA is contorted in sorrow over the throne and perfectly still. Labels are affixed to parts of DUHSHANTA’s body. His forehead reads ‘ANGUISH.’ His left shoulder reads ‘DESPAIR.’ His right breast reads ‘REGRET.’ His belly reads ‘THE FLU.’ His right knee reads ‘SHAME.’ His left big toe reads ‘HARDWARE.’ CHAMBERLAIN Behold the wreck of royalty. Once master of a continent wrenched inert by cosmic forces. Still keeps the crease in his slacks. What a man. ANGEL
This Is Shakuntala Really. It’s no wonder Shakuntala wondered what he’s up to. If we weren’t physically incompatible I’d be tempted to steal him out from under her. ‘Course, I guess she’s not really over him at this point. DUHSHANTA Singing. WHY DO BIRDS SING SO GAY AND LOVERS AWAIT THE BREAK OF DAY WHY DO THEY FALL IN LO OVE? WHY ARE COWS ALWAYS CHEWING CUD WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE WHY DO THEY FALL IN LO OVE? LOVE’S A 1040 A YOU FILL IT OUT AND THEN YOU PAY WITH ALL THE IRS HAS KEPT WHY DON’T I GET A REFUND CHECK? TELL ME WH Y Y YYYYYY FIRST GIRL We should go. SECOND GIRL Indubitably. Farewell, Your Highness. DUHSHANTA drools. The GIRLS fade into the ice. ENGLISHMAN comes running. He carries an umbrella. ENGLISHMAN Your Majesty, I’ve heard all about it and just let me say I don’t know what to say. DUHSHANTA How was Kansas City? ENGLISHMAN Where? DUHSHANTA Was the food okay? ENGLISHMAN I don’t know what you’re talking about. DUHSHANTA Where have you been for the last hundred years I’ve been suffering the pangs of a damned soul? ENGLISHMAN I’ve been chasing penguins in the Weddell. About eaten by a killer whale last week. DUHSHANTA My head is empty. ENGLISHMAN
This Is Shakuntala The echo must be annoying. DUHSHANTA My heart is empty. ENGLISHMAN Must be playing heck with your blood sugar. DUHSHANTA I wish the scurvy would come back so I could feel something. ENGLISHMAN strikes him viciously with the umbrella. ENGLISHMAN Feel that? DUHSHANTA Yes. May I have another? ENGLISHMAN Not until after dinner. Looks like you’ve been busy, after all. Come down here and tell me about this ice sculpture of yours. Looks quite like that Shakuntala. ANGEL Oops. DUHSHANTA What’s that? ENGLISHMAN This sculpture. I think you’ve quite captured her likeness here. DUHSHANTA I remember. The bare rock, the bare shelf and the camp behind its bare wall. The bare plateau on the sled, the bare sun sprinkled about, her bare leg. I remember her bare teeth and her bare eyes, the fight they fought. I remember my blank and bare mind, my bare face. The fight they fought against my bare denial, the armor they threw up against my salvos, the bulwarks breaking the space between my lips and her. I remember my bare life over that crevasse blank and bored and tugged minute by minute by wishing I had made her child. Where were you? ENGLISHMAN In the Weddell, Sire. Couldn’t be helped. Must have food, you know. Can’t always do what we must or should for being out finding food. ANGEL So far I’m with him. It’s a pain we have to eat so often. DUHSHANTA Where’s the providence in fate? ENGLISHMAN Buck up, now, Sire. The story’s not over yet. The tent stake came back in the brain of a penguin. You know what that means. DUHSHANTA
Sagging. you’ve got so much to live for! DUHSHANTA You can be king of the world! I’d rather burn in hell than rule a frozen earth! ENGLISHMAN You can’t make me king of the world I can’t be trusted! DUHSHANTA You don’t need to be trusted. ANGEL How’d she get that stake? DUHSHANTA Oh. And try not to step on the penguins. 85 . ENGLISHMAN No. and they’re in cahoots with fate. no. Strengthen thy stakes and enlarge thy borders. DUHSHANTA Fate and the penguins should make up their mind and ruin or save me. He freezes solid. Not quite finished penguin ran off with it.This Is Shakuntala The penguins are on my side? ENGLISHMAN Exactly. With sudden vigor. pinning him and raising the stake over him. I won’t let you do it! DUHSHANTA overpowers ENGLISHMAN. I don’t know. I’ll kill myself with it! DUHSHANTA raises the tent stake to plunge into his own heart. just well dressed! ENGLISHMAN No. ENGLISHMAN Why didn’t she? DUHSHANTA Couldn’t find it. DUHSHANTA I’ll kill you and then kill myself! DUHSHANTA sees ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA. Her friends told her to kill me with it or something. With a cry ENGLISHMAN catches his arm. I’ll put every penguin in dogfood tins. They fall together from the throne and struggle against each other. DUHSHANTA pulls the tent spike from his suit coat and rises a little.
no. DUHSHANTA licks ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA’s face. DUHSHANTA stops cold. “comb me. You’ve done an excellent job there. It’s warm. 86 . It’s perspiring. ENGLISHMAN I’d recommend you back off a little. What is it? DUHSHANTA Awed whisper. DUHSHANTA puts his nose to ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA’s cheek. DUHSHANTA No. ENGLISHMAN leans in for a look. Quite the reproduction. ENGLISHMAN Whispering. You’ve endowed it with such life I’d almost say it breathes. The eyelids nearly flutter. ENGLISHMAN Snap out of it. Seems your breath is slightly melting the piece. man! ANGEL He would see her in penguin droppings. ENGLISHMAN whirls DUHSHANTA about and slaps him twice. ENGLISHMAN looks closer. The hair seems almost naturally free. the hairline which says. ENGLISHMAN Forced through DUHSHANTA’s chokehold. ENGLISHMAN Croaking. It sweats and radiates. I know her nose. DUHSHANTA It does seem to swell and shrink with life.This Is Shakuntala Blimey. He gets very close but is careful not to touch. DUHSHANTA But for the color it’s my Shakuntala herself. Your Highness. DUHSHANTA rises to look closely at ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA. the neck and shoulders and the bulbous rest is all my love lost beneath the polar cap. It tastes like flesh. Sir.” the lashes that’s fine work to fashion lashes out of ice the chin to make China weep.
CHAMBERLAIN slides in on a conveyor belt. slightly. DUHSHANTA WHO IS IT PAINTS TARGETS ON SUCH THINGS?! CHAMBERLAIN None of the children survived. ENGLISHMAN disappears. Stop it. Oh. They can change my diapers and feed me strained peas. DUHSHANTA I’ll be their children. Miles of bright castles.N. I’ll lie in their cradles and goo and burp. Hm? 87 .. DUHSHANTA hurls ENGLISHMAN away. DUHSHANTA Good for them. blockade this morning. I’ll be the lost of every family. ANGEL Sniffling. ANGEL Weeping. I will eat at every dinner table. We fear the penguins could push them off. The torrent which cuts the desert deep. They have collectively collapsed insensate on the shelf. Your Majesty. CHAMBERLAIN But we now have a few thousand refugee parents who on account of their own fertility deficiency had invested considerable hope in that boatload of children. They can adopt me. Sighs its last in dust And disappears without even a bed behind. Crawls sickly toward the sea. DUHSHANTA Then there is nil. I’ll say momma in their languages and I’ll dress in their dress and bus in the morning to their schools and sing their anthems and send money to their parents in the old country. that got me. Chasms with white blades and roar. CHAMBERLAIN Just to let you know. gouted curves. ENGLISHMAN’S VOICE AAACH! DUHSHANTA Perking up. I’ll speak reverently of their causes and bow my head to their dead. Let no one now in Antarctica be without a mouth at the dinner table. you’re killing me.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA takes ENGLISHMAN by the throat to strangle him. a boatload of Indonesian orphans was sunk by the U..
To make a long story short. before I was a refugee I was a marbles ace. Would you like to see it? DUHSHANTA Yes! CHAMBERLAIN fires the projection at anyone who might be watching. the bar crowd was watching pro wrestling. DUHSHANTA And? CHAMBERLAIN I recorded the report. but everyone said no. as you know. I ran as fast as I could go to the Ice Cap Bar just a mile or two north of here. CHAMBERLAIN disappears on the conveyor belt and reappears almost immediately with a video projector and a bag full of pool balls. I do. DUHSHANTA What happened to my Englishman? CHAMBERLAIN Well. I challenged the best of the bar to a game of pool. DUHSHANTA Everything’s north of here. CHAMBERLAIN So I knew I couldn’t miss it. they let me change the channel and keep all the balls I managed to knock off the table. DUHSHANTA Yes? CHAMBERLAIN Unfortunately. I went inside and sure enough they had a television mounted on the wall. I do. Where’s my California Kid? ENGLISHMAN’S VOICE Help! DUHSHANTA Where’d he go? Find out where he went. and. I asked if I could change the channel to CNN. Did you really check on him? CHAMBERLAIN I most certainly did. DUHSHANTA You don’t know where he is! CHAMBERLAIN No. Anyway.This Is Shakuntala Looking around. So. and I correctly assumed the same principles applied. 88 .
DUHSHANTA The U. Her mouth moves but is a moment behind the sound. Duhshanta. GREEK YETI hands curtain to DUSHANTA and mimes the directions. Yeah. GREEK YETI In case of emergency. I must protest. our experts are at this point attributing this sudden takeoff to magic. Fasten the curtain about your neck. DUHSHANTA brandishes the tent stake. Expert. Excuse me. ENGLISHMAN’S VOICE Oh. for our viewers who are unfamiliar with such things would you just explain what you mean by “m2”? Certainly. right into the sky. take this enchanted curtain which soothes and relieves while it covers and protects. GREEK YETI disappears. Expert. If any threat is imminent. you can see here how this Englishman just sort of lifts off the ground as though by magic. Brett? Yes. Thank you. I just think it’s magic. after up! CHAMBERLAIN I believe he went north. DUHSHANTA does so.’s behind this! Come and get me you lousy nations! GREEK YETI appears with a curtain. We have video of the scene. I would call this an m2 magic event right now. almost jerking. really. Here’s that video clip again of the said Englishman rising. DUHSHANTA You corpse eating dryer sheet! 89 .. Remember to document your sources fully. an m2 is a magical event of the second magnitude. Expert? Yes. now. place your hand over your mouth and refer to the curtain with a footnote. indeed. DUHSHANTA Alright! CHAMBERLAIN switches off the video projector. Thank you. and come off the Pole. DUHSHANTA After up.This Is Shakuntala CNN the local Englishman was hoisted today by an invisible force and borne off to destinations unknown. and. VOICE Set your teeth.. Which way did he go? CHAMBERLAIN Up. Ah. I’ll bite through your Englishman’s neck and drink his blue blood. ‘cause.N. My blood is as red as anyone’s. I see. And I think we’re going to go now to a person who wants to say something about this. real or perceived.
and I’m aiming it north. MEGAPHONE VOICE Attention. VOICE uh oh. DUHSHANTA Show yourself. that hurt. You can exude evil without yelling in my ear. DUHSHANTA EVERYTHING’S NORTH! VOICE Ha ha ha ha ha! ENGLISHMAN’S VOICE Now. Removing stars Until it burning pierce your hide.. Really. you nothing nations! Set aside your shield and set yourself against my thunderous weapon. scourging forests and towns Swallowing clouds and air. from which direction comes that black voice? CHAMBERLAIN North. DUHSHANTA raises the stake.. If all the land must pass away This stake will burn across the earth. either.. VOICE I think you should do as he says. Dramatic Work. DUHSHANTA Chamberlain. MEGAPHONE VOICE You have to the count of three to surrender.. I’m raising it now. we have you surrounded. Sire. . Lay down your lines and come out with your hands up. Upturning plains and leveling peaks Drinking oceans.This Is Shakuntala ENGLISHMAN’S VOICE I’m not a corpse. DUHSHANTA Weren’t you about to eat my Englishman? MEGAPHONE VOICE One. DUHSHANTA 90 ... DUHSHANTA and CHAMBERLAIN exchange ignorant looks.
. You’ll have to wait your turn. All this has come to nothing.. ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA ascends. ENGLISHMAN falls out of the sky.. There’s nothing left of all the prancing and posing. Not even amusement remains. DUHSHANTA Do we? KRISHNA It has all come to a quiet end. Scene 5 Machine gun fire. MEGAPHONE VOICE Two. there will be no two and three quarters . DUHSHANTA catches her by the foot. 91 . DUHSHANTA hurls the spike at the sky. KRISHNA So. Explosions. Blackout. The stage is there. ANGEL They’re not paying me enough for this crap. Sounds of general mayhem. There is a warrant issued for your arrest. The lights are there. She wears the ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA COSTUME. We meet again. Light returns.. The city has revoked your license. Silence. DUHSHANTA. CHAMBERLAIN. He has SHAKUNTALA no longer pregnant by the arm. VOICE Here’s your Englishman. Blinding flash... It’s drained out of all the people watching and left behind just crusted smirks. DUHSHANTA All of you! Get off my continent! Dangling from the ANGEL IN LITTLE AMERICA. ENGLISHMAN. DUHSHANTA That’s not north! MEGAPHONE VOICE Two and a half . KRISHNA faces them over an open trap door. SCHOLAR WITH A FAN stand on a bare stage. Shouts.This Is Shakuntala I’m busy saving my Englishman.
like an heirloom? DUHSHANTA She’s all I’ve done this for. Thanks for coming! That’s all there is. DUHSHANTA Hello? 92 . I’m going to go ahead and go. Please obey local laws and practice courtesy as you’re driving home. DUHSHANTA siezes SCHOLAR WITH A FAN. with a flourish. public television relies on your support. ENGLISHMAN You rowed me here in a leaky boat for a new nation and to transform the world. And remember.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA So leave me Shakuntala. DUHSHANTA It’s all yours. SHAKUNTALA I’m not sure I know who you are. You can go to jail with him or take off now and disappear. I guess that’s it then. DUHSHANTA Over the open trap. KRISHNA To SHAKUNTALA. DUHSHANTA knocks SCHOLAR WITH A FAN senseless. CHAMBERLAIN Well. My mind is full again. I’M NOT THROUGH PLAYING! DUHSHANTA drops through the trap. Shakuntala. CHAMBERLAIN and ENGLISHMAN wander away. Scene 6 Footsteps. CHAMBERLAIN As of this moment there are seven hundred and seventy million four hundred and forty four thousand two hundred and twenty eight refugees who think the same thing. DUHSHANTA Say something! SCHOLAR WITH A FAN Outward. KRISHNA and SHAKUNTALA descend into the trap. KRISHNA What.
shutup! It was only temporary. Flashlight turns to reveal the face of PARK RANGER’S GHOST. “Abandon every hope. under the polar ice cap? PARK RANGER’S GHOST Hah. Pal. you forgot your lover. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Nothing’s temporary down here. DUHSHANTA What. Whom do we have here? DUHSHANTA Who’s that? Flashlight shines on DUHSHANTA. PARK RANGER’S GHOST swings the flashlight around to reveal an arch... On the arch is printed LASCIATE OGNE SPERANZA. give me one of those. I was right. I was right. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Don’t read much at all.. FAMILIAR VOICE The question is. It says. shut up. VOI CH’INTRATE.This Is Shakuntala FAMILIAR VOICE Well. Did you forget something? DUHSHANTA screams like a girl and falls to the ground. You forgot your lover. apparently. Italian? I don’t read Italian.” DUHSHANTA Maybe it loses something in translation.. you’re a jerk. DUHSHANTA Shut up.. FAMILIAR VOICE No. You have to answer my question. DUHSHANTA Yes. Now give me a light. Yeah? What is that. 93 . DUHSHANTA Yes. Hey. well. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Dancing. ye who enter here.. yes! I forgot my lover.
the spiteful men Whose violent minds Make their bodies pawns. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Just shut up a minute! Now These are dark dimensions where Penitentless spirits go. for goodness sake. You’ll survive. This is home to life’s unkind. Come with me. and haven’t said Anything about contempt. Merciless.. PARK RANGER’S GHOST I’ve only got thirty three more lines.This Is Shakuntala PARK RANGER’S GHOST This is hell. DUHSHANTA Show me just one peni. DUHSHANTA You don’t have anything to show me. Pause. I get my own flashlight. Doofus. DUHSHANTA Show me one. Now I’m down Eight or nine. eh? PARK RANGER’S GHOST Forget the ice cap. And I’ve slipped Out of rhyme.. PARK RANGER’S GHOST 94 .. DUHSHANTA Standing. I’ve got only twenty five left. or envy.. Hell’s under the polar ice cap. DUHSHANTA Why didn’t you just tell me? I’ve been conquering a continent. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Now. DUHSHANTA Just show me one. They walk. you took a line. Sloth. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Keep your pants on.
DUHSHANTA Hey... VYASA THE DOG 95 . PARK RANGER’S GHOST To ether I am not responsible! He is uncooperative! DUHSHANTA Is the tour over? Is there a chocolate bar or something at the end? PARK RANGER’S GHOST That’s enough. PARK RANGER’S GHOST Be quiet! Pause. Get out of hell. VYASA THE DOG wearing laurels sniffs DUHSHANTA. PARK RANGER’S GHOST You’re of ghosts to hell th’most rude. Oh.. DUHSHANTA Hey! I want a light.This Is Shakuntala Pointing. Howya doin’ boy? Yeah. there. in hell he gnaws and bites Burnished coins. There! DUHSHANTA Saved a line. in life Reveled in great unearnéd gold Here. boy. his only food DUHSHANTA He’s bodiless. Yeah... Thanks. know This reducéd soul. DUHSHANTA Hey! Slick! You gave me line twenty four and picked up the rhyme.. Flashlight flies in nearly striking DUHSHANTA. of course. you’re a good dog. aren’t you. One would think that after so Many acts have fall’n on you You would somehow come to know! PARK RANGER’S GHOST stalks off. DUHSHANTA picks up the light.
boy. Let atmospheres inflate those bellows Swirled with her fuming spores. boy? Huh? Are you a smellin’ dog? I bet you are.This Is Shakuntala ARF! DUHSHANTA Sorry. Here boy. 96 . VYASA THE DOG ARF! DUHSHANTA Sniff. Caught me at a bad time. can you smell a trail. you know the way. Sniff. no treats. Go on. on to woman’s Secreting away. boy. I behind this sure dog And he behind his sure nose. DUHSHANTA follows. yaps. boy! Sniff great loads of air. Go find her. People keep saying that to me. this dog and I Beneath our blue ice sky toward her. boy. VYASA THE DOG Woof. DUHSHANTA thrusts the tent stake at VYASA THE DOG’s face. DUHSHANTA Sweet merciful crap. We’ll on. Up this right hand turning road Toward her and toward our son. We’ll go on. VOICE You cannot continue with that dog. It must be a son. VYASA THE DOG ARF! DUHSHANTA Hey. sniff! We’re so close I imagine I can near smell her myself. Go get her. Her nunly smell and habit Her gaunt frame and skin worn wan In antarctic wind and sun. Hah hah! We’ll go on. and trots off. boy. I know where you can get a lot of penguins. and blast the place apart. VOICE Stop. VYASA THE DOG turns a circle.
AND! And all the upward eyes are down Turned to that last land below them. VOICE She’s in here. DUHSHANTA This is the last world? I’ve oared an open boat Over Antarctic pitching seas Trudged foot numb on Antarctic ice Dried up and died in Antarctic scurvy And found and made the Antarctic Pole. DUHSHANTA This dog brought me this far.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA Don’t worry. There’s no further to look than the Pole. and I am relying on him to find the rest of the way for me. Every other fell into that path From cold places on native ground So that so soon the planet’s underpants Were boiling with the last people. DUHSHANTA No. Not all dogs go to Kolob. that’s it. okay? DUHSHANTA Really? No foolin’? VOICE Scout’s honor. come on. VOICE Oh. 97 . I don’t see any sign! VOICE This is Kolob. How now is this the last world? VYASA THE DOG ARF! VOICE Will you leave the dog! DUHSHANTA No! Pause. This dog has Shakuntala’s scent in its nose. VOICE If you want to enter the last world. you will have to leave the dog behind. I’ll handle this. All are down turned.
sits in a recliner and picks up a newspaper. ADAM and EVE step in. Doorbell rings. We brought these for you. ADAM and EVE stand there with fig leaves in appropriate places and a basket of flowers and toiletries. that’d be wonderful. EVE Oh. VYASA THE DOG curls up by the fireplace. DUHSHANTA climbs the ladder. I suppose you know my wife. Do come in. DUHSHANTA gets up and opens it. Light returns. ADAM and EVE laugh. Duhshanta. Not in the Biblical sense. Blackout. I love what you’ve done with the drapes. ADAM So. Like the neighborhood? 98 . SHAKUNTALA Thank you for coming by. SHAKUNTALA Have a seat. He looks around. SHAKUNTALA sits knitting in a rocker. VYASA THE DOG Ruff. EVE We’re so glad to meet you. ADAM AND EVE Hi! Welcome to the neighborhood! ADAM I’m Adam. He reads the paper. SHAKUNTALA goes out. EVE Oh. this is lovely. I’ll take a smidgeon.This Is Shakuntala DUHSHANTA To VYASA THE DOG. Can I get you anything? I have a bowl of cookie dough in the fridge. DUHSHANTA. ADAM Do you have any cheese? SHAKUNTALA I’ll just check. bewildered. DUHSHANTA takes the basket. DUHSHANTA takes the basket. DUHSHANTA emerges through a trap door into the living room. Sorry boy. Just a little something. of course. Eve.
May I have some cheese? SHAKUNTALA Why of course.This Is Shakuntala Pause. Help yourself. And there are fireflies in the summer. and green KoolAide. SHAKUNTALA returns with cookie dough. DUHSHANTA takes cheese. EVE Did you recover this couch? SHAKUNTALA Yes. How did you know? DUHSHANTA Leaping. EVE We just love it here. Hope my husband hasn’t talked your ears off. I did. DUHSHANTA The Pole? ADAM That was good work down there. Pause. Don’t worry about the Pole. DUHSHANTA Yes. cheese. DUHSHANTA I’m confused. SHAKUNTALA Here I am. how ripped from occupation Were the sighing masses on your ice? DUHSHANTA Well. You almost stripped the cap clean. ADAM Do you know how bowed the nations bent In absence of their average frame? UN ministers are flummoxed. man! I know. The lake is only a hop skip and a jump away. It’s very quiet. But. I have some idea. 99 . I rent out the space. ADAM Listen. Everything’s taken care of. Duhshanta. ADAM Do you know how desperate men Descended on the South at your behest? How torn.
Scurvy symbolizes millenial angst. When Duhshanta saw the tent spike. It also symbolizes the stock market. he recalled everything. The Ranger symbolizes Gandhian politics. set out in search of his lost wife. It also symbolizes the celestial orb of Mormonism. Duhshanta. the G8. in some tribal mythologies. The tent stake symbolizes the World Trade Organization. NATO. and I’ll explain everything. is a symbol of penguins. SHAKUNTALA Are you saying it was my fault? EVE Everyone has to poop. The U. which symbolizes colonialism. And what is this dharma? In the crudest of translations one could say that it is doing what is right. no! I’m king of the world! SHAKUNTALA Yes. and. and the exhaustion of humanity. The penguin symbolizes an antelope. It also symbolizes the declining or increasing threat of nuclear armageddon. The Englishman symbolizes the produce aisle at Kohl’s. Antarctica symbolizes the millenial vision of mankind’s return to a golden age. DUHSHANTA It wasn’t my fault. ADAM Exactly. the IOC. SHAKUNTALA 100 . which.N. And the dog. Duhshanta forgot his lover because of the curse the Park Ranger put on Shakuntala when she pooped on the ice shelf. ADAM It was the poop’s fault. dear. ADAM Just sit back a moment. The Peace Corps. Now then. symbolizes itself. but without the bunny costumes. Sit down and eat your cheese. and his death symbolizes the world’s inevitable return to divine right monarchy. no. we know. Kalidasa symbolizes Ben Johnson. But in the least crude of translations one could say that it is doing what is RIGHT ON! And in the funniest of translations one could say that it is doing what is tthhhhhbbbb. And in the commercialest of translations one could say that it is doing it your way. The dog symbolizes dharma note the nice aspiration.This Is Shakuntala No. to his credit. and the AARP.
DUHSHANTA Which symbolizes time. a ruffly white shirt. KRISHNA snatches up the ball. ADAM Now that Duhshanta has found the heavenly realm. DUHSHANTA watches. KRISHNA enters. tosses it in the air with a giggle. and a wide brimmed. Laughs. ADAM We’re at the end of the road. DUHSHANTA And ruling the world. Sits. misses it on the way down. his soul mate. DUHSHANTA Where’s my son? ADAM Got a big day ahead of us tomorrow. Flower petals fall in abundance. Had a delightful time. he has been reunited with Shakuntala. Duhshanta. A child’s ball bounces in and rolls. KRISHNA chases the ball. DUHSHANTA eats cheese.. DUHSHANTA looks up. Stop by whenever you’re free.. SHAKUNTALA They’re very nice. EVE You must show me what you did with this couch. Grabs it and throws it in the air again. ADAM Exactly. ADAM and EVE go out. DUHSHANTA watches him. ADAM You are fast. I wonder if they’re vegetarian. Reads paper. Quick as a flash. Looks. DUHSHANTA stands still. and as joint home owners they can begin a new life of peace and harmony. blue hat with a puffy white feather. looking about. 101 . He wears a pair of baby blue lederhosen. DUHSHANTA Where’s my son? ADAM Thanks for the cheese. Awfully nice meeting you.This Is Shakuntala I wasn’t lost.
THE END 102 . DUHSHANTA watches.This Is Shakuntala KRISHNA plays with the ball. SHAKUNTALA knits.