THE NAMES OF THE BEAST

by Linda Eisenstein

 Full Length Plays

Musicals

One Acts

Monologues

Theatre Music

 Comedy/drama

50 minutes

4F, multiethnic preferred

20's-50's

 

Preparing for a ritual burning: Red Hen Productions.
 

What happens when you want to pitch your life in the fire? A writers' circle is thrown into crisis when Alicia, exhausted and blocked, asks for help with a "ritual of transformation": burning all her manuscripts so she can give up writing. Alternately furious, supportive, silly, and sad, four diverse artists struggle together with the limits of creativity, friendship, and the special obstacles they face as women. Includes a group-created ritual and a cappella songs.

 "A highly charged show with a meaningful message that should be heard by as many as possible" - reviewshows.com (L.A.)

"Powerful...a ritualistic manuscript burning ceremony that becomes a borderline aboriginal backstep into an abyss of raw emotions and gut wrenching truth encounters..." - reviewplays.com (L.A.)

Substantial...The Names of the Beast is a find." - Dallas Morning News

"Funny, sad, and above all, honest...The Names of the Beast is very strong...Once the ritual begins, it provides a way to probe the plight of the woman artist and how much more she is imprisoned by society than her male counterpart. As it draws to its close, the onstage image becomes almost unbearable -- shocking because it creates a visual image that is piercingly true....Eisenstein's literate, truthful script results in compelling theatre." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Disquieting -- an epic struggle among disparate camps for ownership of one community's voice. Three friends have reluctantly gathered to participate in the ritual burning of the written works of Alicia, a high-strung college professor for whom words like 'feminist' and 'writer' have become burdens to bear... Playwright Eisenstein plants a witchy ritual at the center of the piece which is by turns supportive and sadistic...The company have really hit their stride with the remarkable Names of the Beast, so much so that you leave the theater fired up..." - Dallas Observer

 Alicia (Lori Petro) with friends Claire (Amy Henry), Bea (Ora B. Nance), & Jane (Alyssa Lobit) in Tempting Fates' "The Names of The Beast", Los Angeles, CA

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 EXCERPT

 

[BEA, JANE, and CLAIRE have been asked to help ALICIA with a ritual burning of all her manuscripts. Arguing among themselves about how much they should cooperate, they are nevertheless reluctantly preparing the fire.]

ALICIA

Christ almighty! What are you doing?! You're not supposed to be burning anything yet!

BEA

I told you she'd be mad.

CLAIRE

Sorry, Alicia.

ALICIA

That's supposed to come near the end of the ritual!

JANE

Stop apologizing. Alicia, we had to get the damn fire started. We're not a Girl Scout troop. We are relatively incompetent at the basic pioneer skills. You don't want to be in the middle of an incantation, standing there with your finger up your ass while we fumble around for matches.

ALICIA

Okay, okay. I'll admit I'm a little nervous. (takes several deep breaths) This ceremony is important to me. It's all I've been thinking about all month.

BEA

We can't get you to change your mind?

ALICIA

Absolutely not. This is what I need to do. It's time to burn away all the chaff.

CLAIRE

Slash and burn agriculture. That's what the Mayans used to fertilize their crops.

BEA

Yeah, and the Mayans are extinct, too, you'll notice.

JANE

No, they're not. They're still wandering around outside Cancun, avoiding the tourists.

CLAIRE

The point is, writing is like working in your garden, Alicia -- it's seasonal. Sometimes you seed, sometimes you weed, sometimes you water, sometimes you burn. And sometimes you go fallow. But if you're going to grow anything, you need light and air and space -- and time.

BEA

And shit.

CLAIRE

OK, and manure, fertilizer, whatever.

ALICIA

Well I'm beyond fallow. This here ground is just plain dead, and it's driving me crazy. So I'm simply not going to dig in it any longer.

CLAIRE

You wouldn't believe what my rose garden looks like all winter. It's just a bunch of scrubby looking sticks -- nothing but thorns, something Morticia Addams would like. You have to put up with that in your writing, too.

ALICIA

I don't see why I should. I don't see why I should live with all this pressure on me.

BEA

Claire's right, Alicia. You don't give yourself any room or air or time.

JANE

Damn straight. You want to keep on doing all the exact same things, not change anything in your life. But if nothing changes, how the fuck can you expect anything different to happen?

ALICIA


Change? Every time someone talks about change it just translates into more work. I've read advice columns until they're coming out my ass. I should do yoga. I should eat natural foods. I should pick up rocks and twigs and sacred buttons and weave them into a dream pillow. Make a dream pillow? For Christ's sake, I don't have any dreams. I can't remember a single one. I don't sleep long enough to dream. All I do is run all day. Then I come home and I run. And then I hear all this stupid advice on how I'm supposed to be doing more things. Well, all I see is things getting added to my schedule. Nothing ever gets taken away. So I'm going to take something away, goddamn it. I'm going to take THIS away. I'm tired of having this thing, this expectation, this label, hanging over my head.

It's over! It's done. When I don't have time to dream -- bam, that's it.

(CONTINUES)

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