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Issue number eleven




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The Comedy of Art by Brian E. Turner


The characters are from the Commedia dell 'Arte tradition.

MAGNIFICO:   Playwright, philosopher and master of illusion.

PULCINELLA    "A scitzoid rascal with a large hump and paunch, known for his bizarrely-paced, bent, cock-like gait and hen-like voice."

ISABELLA:  "The combination of her graceful charm and biting wit make her a wonderful foil to the bawdy humour of the zanni."  


Black velvet drapes. Chairs.


All actors wear appropriate masks and costumes which can be obtained from the Commedia tradition.

      (Enter Magnifico.)

MAGNIFICO:    Layers and gentleperps, please allow me to interdict… (Raises his staff. Pulcinella and Isabella appear on stage in a puff of smoke.) Madama Isabella…

      (Loud applause.)

ISABELLA:     I am most pleased to make your acquiescence.

MAGNIFICO:    …and Pulcinella.

      (Boos and hisses.)

PULCINELLA:    Cluck. cluck, cluck. cluck.

MAGNIFICO:     May I draw your attention to the fact that all in my maison is illusion and that here we extemporate the wisdom of folly.

PULCINELLA:    (About the stage like a rooster) Cluck cluck.

ISABELLA:    Poor chook, poor chook.

MAGNIFICO:    You may seat for a moment my dear.

      (Isabella sits and fans herself.)

PULCINELLA:     Cluck, cluck, cluck. (Clucks at appropriate points below.)

MAGNIFICO:    All who enter here be warned that the safe square of reality is to be clucked away by a poor chook. What you think of the play realistic may be extolled or may not according to the moderator's whim whether or not he or she (as the case may be) is of unsound mind or otherwise inclined to be interpretative of games, play and other pastimes, whether cyclic or palliative. And what you may think of the play unrealistic is left to the opine of the adjudicator.

PULCINELLA:    Get on with the game master, we do not have suffice of time to listen to much of your raging.

MAGNIFICO:    Here is the scenario.

      (Pulls a rabbit from his hat.)

PULCINELLA:    That is not a scenario Master, that is a lame duck. Cluck duck cluck.

MAGNIFICO:     Strangest duck I ever saw.

      (Puts the rabbit back in the hat, pulls out a scenario.)

PULCINELLA:    (Snatches scenario, reads.) Fourpence worth of fish and a gallion of sherry sack. Cluck. A monstrous strange play.

      (Isabella comes up, takes paper.)

ISABELLA:     That's his shopping list old chook. The play is on the back.

PULCINELLA:    (Snatches paper, reads.) Cluck cluck. I can’t read this. ‘Sit on your chairs and do…’ Do what? Can you interpolate for a poor foul my dear?

ISABELLA:    (Takes paper) ‘Sit on your chairs and… do nothing.’ What do you mean Magnifico?

MAGNIFICO:     It means sitting on your chairs and doing nothing.

PULCINELLA:     Do nothing. You can’t fool a rooster. Even a rooster knows that you can’t do nothing. Even when you do nothing you do something. Only Q can do nothing.

MAGNIFICO:     So true, the scenario is extended.

ISABELLA:    (Reads.) ‘Sit on your chairs and do nothing but wait for the end.’

PULCINELLA:     So, does the end come?

MAGNIFICO:    It usually comes.

PULCINELLA:     Unfortunately.

ISABELLA:     It doesn't really matter sad chook. It's what happens before that counts.

MAGNIFICO:    The end will come today. I have it on the highest authorisation.

PULCINELLA:    Then let us act our potions. Cluck cluck. (Brings two chairs down. Pulcinella and Isabella sit. Isabella fans herself. After a few moments…) How are we getting on Magnifico?

MAGNIFICO:     Inconsolably serendiporous.

PULCINELLA:    I'm in character am I?

ISABELLA:     You must curb your impetuosity. Waiting is a quiet business.

PULCINELLA:     I'm a noisome waiter. Cluck.

MAGNIFICO:     A putrid and highly demonstrous waiter.

PULCINELLA:     It's a demonstrous strange play.

ISABELLA:     A quaintly meliflorous play. Why are you standing Magnifico?

MAGNIFICO:    I am the waiter at your table. "They also serve who stand and wait."

      (They do not move or speak for a few moments.)

PULCINELLA:    Well if you are a waiter you might get me a draught of Rhenish.

ISABELLA:     No drinking if you are in a play Pulcinella.

PULCINELLA:    Cluck duck cluck.

ISABELLA:     A cluck of tea would be neice.

MAGNIFICO:    Unfortunately I have to wait.

ISABELLA:     It will help to pass the time.

MAGNIFICO:    It will pass anyway.

ISABELLA:     Yes it does seem to.

PULCINELLA:    But if we talk and drink and smoke and eat it seems to pass all the faster. Cluck duck.

MAGNIFICO:     So it seems.

PULCINELLA:    We could have a love affair. Nothing makes time go so fast as a love affair. I could howl songs of romance to the moon.

MAGNIFICO:     Who would you have a love affair with?

PULCINELLA:     My darling Isabella.

ISABELLA:     Oh you poor chook, you know my heart is given to another.

      (Violins play.)

PULCINELLA:    This is no good master, cluck duck cluck. (Clucking around the stage.) I can't drink, I cannot smoke, I can't eat, I can't talk, I cannot make love. What else is there?

MAGNIFICO:     There is oftwise the employment of a surd monologue. For words and their enjoyment may serve to construe that music of the sole that makes for the enhancement of the passage of time. Contrariwise or, as we may say, to the contrary, there may be occlusions when the words are of exclusive length and may be considered to obtain insufficient of enlightenment.

PULCINELLA:     Bravo. The first thing that's made nonsense all night. But you must pardon me, I have to leave. I do not have the stomach for waiting.

      (Goes upstage and removes mask with his back to the audience. The other two are silent for a few moments.)

ISABELLA:    Why don't you sit?

MAGNIFICO:     (Sits) I might for a minute.

ISABELLA:     You can borrow my fan.

MAGNIFICO:     Keep it. I don't have any fans. My words are too ostridge.

ISABELLA:     We must be getting near the end.

MAGNIFICO:     That's if it doesn't go on forever.

ISABELLA:     Do you think it might?

MAGNIFICO:     Sometimes it does.

ISABELLA:    Not today though.

MAGNIFICO:     No, not today. I can see it coming.

ISABELLA:     You can?

MAGNIFICO:     These plays don't last longer than ten minutes.

ISABELLA:     How will we know?

MAGNIFICO:    It's when we take off our masks.

      (They remove their masks. Blackout.)  


Brian E. Turner is a native and resident of New Zealand. He's mainly written plays, many of which have been performed in back-alley theaters in New Zealand and USA. He also works in theater in other capacities, such as director and actor. His novel, The Road Goes On, was published last year. His short short, "His Exegamination of Poelemtics as Addressed to the Audience," appeared in Issue #3 of The Cafe Irreal; "Three Short Plays," appeared in Issue #9.

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