A deranged scientist seeks the source of life itself in creating a blank-slate human adult
|Cast of Characters
CREATOR- sonorous voice, solemn-sounding; no trace of compassion or understanding; short temper and greed
ADAM- young man’s voice, an older teen or young adult; very curious, naïve, warm voice; polite traces of a quiet, soft-spoken boy.
How Have I Sinned?
[Stage is dark except for its left corner; there, a dim light shines upon the CREATOR. He’s grappling and struggling with a large metal contraption, coffin-like, antennas and wires sticking every which way. He has a lab coat on.]
CREATOR [looking down, absorbed by the machine’s minute nuisances.]: I don’t know, hopefully it’ll work this time. It has to. I haven’t left this place in almost ten years, all in hopes [he lets out a small grunt as he adjusts a screw with a wrench] that this thing might work.
[Apparently finished and satisfied, the CREATOR stands back to admire his life’s work. He releases a manic laugh and runs to a table nearby. As he does that, the stage receives a bit more light. The audience sees the stage is a dungeon, complete with gray stone walls, only one gothic-looking window, and a roaring fire torches hanging from the walls. The CREATOR’s at the table, grabbing everything he sees as important, tossing some behind him, picking some things up and examining them; half he throws to the floor, the other half he keeps and stuffs into his pockets.]
CREATOR [walking back to the contraption, he begins to bring items up from out of his pockets]: All right…you’ll need this to know your place and to whom you’re speaking [the CREATOR throws in a heavy, leather-bound book into a tube in the machine]…this for you to come out nice and strong [ he fishes out an apple, and as he is about to throw it in, he stops for a minute, and tosses it away. He picks out a fig instead.]. And I’m going to throw these in just for good measure [the CREATOR throws in a set of scales, a bag of sugar, and a round globe of the world. He then closes a flap covering the tube and turns a dial as if in an oven]. I’ll be back in ten minutes to check up on you.
[The CREATOR leaves the dungeon and enters another room, equally dismal and depressing, except the aura of this room is inexplicably strong. It carries with it a sinister, disturbing, manic sadness to it.]
CREATOR: I’m sorry. I know it took a very long time, but it’ll be done [the CREATOR takes a seat on a dark, blood-colored chair in front of a mirror. He stares into it]. It’s almost there [he stops, looks confused and ashamed]. No, sir, it’s been difficult after it happened [he lifts up an index finger and taps the side of his temple]. Sometimes I’m not really here. They do a frightening job of locking me up. I guess, sir, that’s the reason it’s taken me so-[the CREATOR’s eyes widen in horror and his mouth drops open]. Who? Why, you know them. They, umm…They invaded perfectly. There’s no one left up here [the index finger is lifted up again to the temple]. No. Please understand, sir. It’s been ten years. Remember, please, the last time? I became sick. Very sick, and…[the CREATOR lowers his head in humble submission]. Yes, it will be done. Your will shall be done. [The CREATOR lifts up the mirror and shatters it on his head. Blood begins to sprout up and drip slowly, gaining volume and speed].Sir, always! [whispers, as he gets up and begins to leave]. I better get back to the dungeon.
[The CREATOR returns to the dungeon and approaches the machine, now in a mad fit of whirring and buzzing, He opens the coffin-like section of the machine and is immediately engulfed in a thick, silvery smoke. The CREATOR lets out a few coughs and soon the smoke dissipates. The audience then gasps as it sees…as the machine was before hollow, now it cradles a human being inside. ADAM, standing mummy-like with hands folded across his chest, has his eyes closed. The audience sees he is meagerly dressed in rags, but they also witness that his warm skin and coal-black hair attest to his young age. Most intriguing, though, is ADAM’s face, which possesses all the quiet insecurities of a child,.]
CREATOR [clapping his hands, laughing the slow laughter of a man completely astonished]: Oh, God…it’s finally finished…I’ve done it…[he carefully approaches ADAM and when he is face to face with him, he begins to play with his hair]. Sir will be so proud of me at last! [he stops and takes a few steps back. He then claps his hands together only once, but loud enough to wake the dead]. Adam!!!!
[ADAM immediately opens up his eyes. He smiles at the CREATOR]
CREATOR [smiling, fatherly]: Your eyes, Adam…[pointing toward them]. They’re blue…did you know that?
ADAM: Father, I didn’t know.
CREATOR: Aren’t you glad I made you that way?
ADAM [smiling]: Very glad.
CREATOR: Now, I’ve been waiting ten years for this. There’s no time to lose, now that you’re finally here! [CREATOR turns to his left, where a large bookshelf sits against the wall. He picks out a bulky encyclopedia and pulls up a stool from nearby. Sitting in front of ADAM, he begins to quickly leaf through the book]. So many things to teach you! I hardly know where to begin! [he finds a page illustrating human anatomy]. Oh! Great, I’ll begin right here, Adam. Just wait here one moment [CREATOR turns around, rises, and walks toward a small drawer. Pulling it open, he draws out a time-worn leather whip. He walks back to the stool and sits down]. Don’t mind this [sets the whip under the stool]. It’s just part of the learning process, I’m afraid. I’ll use it often if I have to [he lowers his head and adjusts his glasses]. Like they did to me.
[cough, cough, CREATOR clears his throat]
CREATOR: Adam, this is your first lesson [holds up the book, points to the large drawing of a male and a female]. We’re humans. Specifically, we’re both men. You’re a young man, Adam, and this[ points to the lower part of the male in the book] is what you look like under those rags.
ADAM [now pointing to the drawing himself]: Do you look like this too? Under your coat?
[At the blink of eye, the CREATOR is up, with such speed that the stool is violently thrown backward, he grabs the whip, savagely cracking it upon ADAM’s shoulders. ADAM, startled and clearly terrified, lowers his head and attempts to raise up his arms in supplication. This only intensifies the CREATOR’s anger; he whips ADAM on his arms and on his head with tremendous force]
CREATOR: DON’T EVER, EVER SPEAK TO ME THAT WAY!! I DID NOT CREATE YOU TO HAVE YOU TREAT ME THIS WAY!
[ADAM, now blood-soaked, lowers his head in shame and submission. The CREATOR composes himself and picks up the stool. Sitting down, he clears his throat].
CREATOR: I do this, Adam, because I am your father. Now, as I was explaining to you before that rude interruption…males, in this world, live in the pursuit of females. They find them [points to the book’s illustration of the female] and fuck them. Men use them to produce as many children as are needed. Some females die during childbirth, but [indifferent wave of the hand] it’s never a great loss, Adam…All right, that has been lesson number one. I know it was much more difficult than either of us had anticipated. Are you ready for lesson number two?
ADAM [head still lowered, blood dripping]: Yes.
[The CREATOR opens the encyclopedia to a massive drawing of a DNA strand. He holds the book up for ADAM to see.]
CREATOR: Adam, we’re humans. What separates us from beasts is…the fact that we can control our feelings. We can keep ourselves composed, and direct our passions to productive uses. In other words, Adam…what’s wrong? [tilts head to look at ADAM]
ADAM [staring at the floor]: It’s nothing.
CREATOR: So…in other words, what humans can do that beasts cannot…it’s constructing goals, dreams. It’s simple. The goal of most men is to find a fertile girl with which to create children. What they do with her after the births is really up to them and, Adam…-
[ADAM lifts his head a few inches and mumbles something]
CREATOR [sternly, reaching under his stool for the whip]: Speak up.
ADAM: Do they go anywhere?
CREATOR: Excuse me?
ADAM [lifting up his head a little higher, eager curiosity slowly showing itself]: When men find girls, do they go anywhere? Or do they just stay locked up in their houses? I wouldn’t want to be locked up forever, father.
CREATOR: They generally stay inside their homes. There is absolutely nothing of interest outside, I assure you. I myself haven’t left this section of my home in ten years. But Adam, I have a job for you.
ADAM [smiling again, but carefully]: Yes?
CREATOR: I need to step out of this room for a few minutes. By the time I return, I want you to have thought of a dream for yourself. Then you’ll tell me about it. I expect a satisfactory dream from you [grabbing the whip and slowly getting up].
CREATOR [closing the door behind him]: I’ll be back.
[Now that he is alone, ADAM feels much more at ease. With the inquisitiveness of a child, he begins to explore his surroundings. He turns his head to the left and sees a small window a few feet above his head, along with a few flaming torch lights. To his right, he sees a bookshelf and a small table. He lifts his feet up in an attempt to step out of his corner of the coffin-machine but…he suddenly feels a tug from behind, which then stretches to his chest. He’s confused now, he thinks he’s done something wrong again. ADAM again tries to take a step forward and feels a magnetic, chilling pull from behind. Stretching his fingers behind his back, he stumbles upon a thin metal tube. He runs his fingers slowly up and down the tube so as to ascertain its origin. Suddenly, he discovers that the tube not only stems from the inside of the machine but also coils up his back, finally diving into his heart. Afraid of seeing the whip again, ADAM doesn’t move an inch. Instead, he gazes at the window as if it were the key to his salvation, and meditates on his dream.]
[The CREATOR enters that dark, dismal room once again. The audience hears the cracking and crunching of the mirror’s remnants under his feet as he takes a seat on the red chair. There is a new mirror hung upon the wall and again, the CREATOR stares into it.]
CREATOR [throwing his hands up into the air, pleading with his eyes, longing for that mirror’s support and understanding]: Sir, he’s an insolent animal! Already he has shown me his contempt, the hatred he has for me! Please, why can you not comprehend? [CREATOR, showing unwavering interest in the mirror, suddenly begins to blush scarlet as he lowers his gaze. He slowly shakes his head]. No, sir, with all due respect, that would never work. I’ve already spent ten years of my life here. I would never think of starting over again, never [ looking up into the mirror once again, shame showing through his eyes]. Always for you, forever for you! [He ceremoniously lifts up the mirror again, shattering it against his head]
[The CREATOR, without even stopping to wipe the blood from his brow, marches into ADAM’s dungeon, blood –caked whip in hand]
CREATOR: Adam! Let me hear your dream now.
[ADAM opens his mouth to speak but produces not a single sound. A look of pain and regret flashes upon his face, like a child who must finally confess a terrible wrongdoing. Like a child whose only fear is of losing his parents’ trust. He carefully produces the metal tube from behind him and holds it in front of him for the CREATOR to see.]
ADAM: Why do you lock me away?
[The CREATOR’s whip is already up in the air, ready to perform. ADAM swiftly drops the chord, so the CREATOR does the same.]
CREATOR: What’s your dream?
ADAM: My dream [folding his hands behind him] is to find a nice boy [offering a polite smile and a nod toward the window] to help me explore the world.
[The CREATOR is absolutely mortified. He needs to find a place to sit down. Dizzy, the room is spinning; he needs a drink of water. Where’s that loaded pistol he used to own? Even that old bloody whip couldn’t project his fury entirely. Was that them? Were they returning? Horrible timing…]
CREATOR: Sir, I never meant-
[crash of mirrors being shattered]
CREATOR: - for this to happen.
[Whips cracking, digging and diving into flesh]
ADAM: I want to find a-
CREATOR: You know what happened last time
[Dungeon doors bursting open, slamming closed]
Adam: -boy that could learn-
CREATOR: I became sick-
ADAM: -to love me.
[Glass smashing into a thousand pieces]
CREATOR: Very sick.
[ADAM is now on the floor, crouching in the corner. The audience hears him weeping quietly, not wanting to give the CREATOR more reason to bring out his whip. A thousand gashes coil around his flesh like crimson vines. His rags are so bloodied they stick to his skin. On a stool a few feet in front of him, the CREATOR adjusts his glasses and opens up a book sitting on his lap. He clears his throat.
ADAM [quietly, frightened]: Sir.
CREATOR [reciting from the book]: In a certain dungeon by Reading town there is a pit of shame, and in it lies a wretched Adam, eaten by teeth of flame. In a burning, winding sheet he lies, and his grave has got no name. But no need to waste the foolish tear, or heave the windy sigh: the boy had loved whom he could not…[shutting the book closed] and so he had to die.
[The CREATOR gets up. He walks toward the machine, while still keeping an eye on ADAM. Bending down, he clutches the metal cord and seems ready to pull it. Seeing this, ADAM swiftly, almost comically, crawls toward his CREATOR. ADAM looks up at him, hands extended and clasped together as if in prayer.]
ADAM [pleading]: Please. Don’t pull it.
CREATOR [bewildered and disgusted]: And your perversion? Shall I leave it to spread like the plague?
ADAM: Father, how have I sinned? I’ve harmed no one. I’ve harbored hate for none. I’ve shown you only obedience and fidelity. How have I sinned?
CREATOR [raising an index finger to his temple]: I created you. The sin lies in your filthy thoughts. Your immoral conceptions! [reaching to pull once more]
ADAM [now imploring with his CREATOR, tears freely flowing, his voice rising in desperation]: Don’t pull it, have mercy! You granted me life, but who concedes you the power to snatch it away? The gods of this Earth would certainly never allow it. Will you act against the laws of life and nature?
[At this, the CREATOR leaps on ADAM, whip flying, while he cries]
CREATOR: The beast, preaching about the laws of life and nature!?!
[Until now, the audience has never imagined the CREATOR as being a man of fragile age. These notions are soon reversed, however. ADAM, empowered by his fear and unable to control himself, propels tremendous force upon the CREATOR, sending him flying backward. ADAM sees this is a crucial opportunity; with the CREATOR lying on the floor several feet from the cord, this was his chance to escape. With the speed of a man to whom every second is precious, ADAM climbs the wall toward the dungeon’s only window. He reaches it and at the same instant, the CREATOR hurdles himself upon the cord. The raises it up for ADAM to see, displaying his triumph.]
CREATOR: The beast’s final cry?
[Before the CREATOR has enough time to pull the cord or to even register what has happened, ADAM leaps out the window.]
ADAM [as he jumps]: How have I sinned?
*** The small excerpt from Oscar Wilde's "Reading Gaol" is meant to serve an artistic and culture purpose as a reference to classic poetry/pop culture, and is not owned by me