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Early Ukraine

Updated July 30, 2003


Act I, Scene 1

The time is the dawn of history (and near the end of herstory), about 3000 B.C.E.  Despite this early date the characters of the play are quite contemporary in their actions and motivations.

The set is a throne room in a recently built and quite modest castle, located on a hill overlooking a lush valley in the southern Ukraine.  The overall effect is a throne room hastily assembled by a man who would make himself king.  Center stage is a ramp which leads from the outside world into the alleged castle, and as such is the primary entrance/exit for characters who are not otherwise moving about the other rooms of the castle.  Stage left consists of an uneven stone wall, with a small portal which leads to the castleís servantís quarters, storage rooms, and so forth.  Stage right is the third entrance/exit, this one leading to the royal bedrooms and quarters.  Also stage right is a prominent mirror located downstage (for vain actors), and a single throne located mid stage and slightly to right of center.  The throne is a rough hewn, relatively plain royal artifact, with only minimal indication of wealth and/or power.  It is rather like a throne one might build in their garage, if they had very limited access to decorative items.  Behind the throne (also slightly off center) are two plain but brightly colored banners hanging from the overhead.  Any designs (such as intertwined snakes) on the banners should be capable of being easily removed prior to the last act of the play, when the setting will return to this basic, generic set.  Any other furniture or royal artifacts are located primarily toward stage right.  The set is noticeably incomplete.

The KING (also known as George) enters from stage left.  He is dressed in a somewhat contemporary style, except for a jeweled necklace and a long robe with suggestions of and/or pretensions to royalty.  The KING is a relatively handsome man in his mid forties, and carries a strong sense of his own power and confidence.  As he enters, he is carrying two identical crowns, one for the King and one for the Queen, and a second royal throne (which appears to be identical to the first throne).  The two crowns are carried in a somewhat cavalier fashion, his arm through the relatively simple bands such that the crowns are carried up near his shoulder.  He carries the second throne to stage right, right of the first one, where he sets it down, and then promptly sits on it in order to catch his breath.  Breathing a heavy sigh (as if he had been hard at work) he glances around at his handiwork, appraising its appearance.  At the same time, he casually sets the crowns down on the second throne.

            KING:  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  (then with a malicious grin)  Of course, it needs a womanís touch!  (He laughs, in a cynical and calculating tone, sufficient to cause anyone overhearing him to suspect that heís not entirely a nice fellow.)

            QUEEN:  (shouted from off stage, as if looking for someone)  George!?

            KING:  (momentarily frowning)  Damn!  Sheís early!  (The KING glances around at his incomplete set, and shrugs his shoulders.)  Oh, what the hell!  Itíll have to do.  (He starts for the ramp, only to remember his crown, which he quickly puts on, and adjusts it with the aid of the mirror.)

            QUEEN:  (still offstage)  George!?

            KING:   (Heading up the ramp, he shouts in response.)  In here, Catherine!

The QUEEN enters via the center ramp, where she is met by the KING.  She is dressed in a colorful but tasteful robe, but without pretensions to royalty.  She is an attractive lady, about the age of the KING, and has long flowing hair which she wears down, and in a relaxed, informal fashion.  She has a pleasant demeanor and acts towards the KING as if she were romantically interested in him, while he is at the same time quite attentive to her.  As she enters, she looks around the room like a guest in someoneís brand new home.  Smiling, she appears to be impressed and fascinated by what she sees.

            QUEEN:  (genuinely, as she looks around)  Oh my!  This is really quite nice.  Fascinating!

            KING:  (slightly boastfully)  Hey, what can I say?  Itís me! 

            QUEEN:  (looking at him knowingly, and with a slightly sarcastic smile on her face)  It really is. 

            KING:  (earnestly, as if it mattered a great deal to him)  Do you like it?

            QUEEN:  Very much!  (Then she turns from looking at things to look at him directly.)  But why in the world did you build it up here on the top of this hill?  Why not down in the lush valley, where there is such life and growth?

            KING:  (as if it were obvious)  For fortification.  For protection!

            QUEEN:  (totally mystified)  Protection?  From whom!?

            KING:  Hey!  You never know!

            QUEEN:  (Still mystified, she is nevertheless unwilling to make an issue of it.)  Youíre a strange one!

            KING:   One of my best features.

            QUEEN:  Youíre probably right.  (Then she notices his crown.)  And whatís this?

            KING:  My crown.  Iím the king!

            QUEEN:  (uncertain, but going along with the gag)  Oh really?

            KING:  Absolutely.  And of course, what every King needs, what I particularly need right now...  (He looks intently into her eyes.)  Is a queen!

            QUEEN:  (The QUEEN senses the possibility of a proposal, but is self-possessed enough not to let it go to her head.)  A queen?  (When the KING shakes his head affirmatively, she begins to smile in a kidding fashion.)  What in the world do you need with a queen?

            KING:  In order to produce an heir to the throne.

            QUEEN:  (She is well aware sheís being propositioned, but is enjoying it nonetheless.)  An heir?

            KING:  To the throne.

            QUEEN:  I presume youíre contemplating producing an heir... In the traditional fashion?

            KING:  Absolutely!

            QUEEN:  (Smiling, she turns away slightly, as if to consider the proposal.)  Interesting.

            KING:  (grabbing the second crown)  I havenít shown you the Queenís crown!  (When the QUEEN turns back to him, he holds it out for her to appraise.)

            QUEEN:  (without committing herself)  Very nice.

            KING:  Perhaps youíd like to try it on...  Sort of get the feel of it.

            QUEEN:  Why not?  (The KING takes the crown and ceremoniously places it on her head.  The crown is too large, however, and tends to drop down to her ears.  The KING is somewhat embarrassed at his error in sizing, but the QUEEN is magnanimous and quickly readjusts the crown so that it is wearable.)

            KING:  (trying to cover his mistake)  Itís a bit large, but Iím sure you'll grow into it.

            QUEEN:  (puzzled)  You think my head will swell that much?

            KING:  People wearing crowns?  Itís been known to happen.

            QUEEN:  (missing the joke)  I donít know...

            KING:  (quickly gesturing to the second throne)  The queen also has her own throne!

            QUEEN:   Really!  Is that good?

            KING:  (taking her arm to guide her to sit down)  Absolutely!  Here.  Try it out.  (As the QUEEN sits, he asks:)  Not too hard?  Not too soft?

            QUEEN:  (in true Goldilocks fashion)  No.  Just right.

            KING:  There are many other wonderful reasons for being a queen.  (When she shows interest, he takes a seat next to her on his own throne and continues, as if trying to sell her on the idea.)  There will, of course, be a royal robe.  As well as a royal necklace.  An entire royal wardrobe in fact.  More importantly, the Queen will always be at the Kingís side, sharing in all aspects of the Kingdom!

            QUEEN:  (obliquely picking up on the male reference)  Kingdom?

            KING: (earnestly) Her very own.  (Then smiling even more intently, he leans toward her.)  And the Queen will always have the Kingís deepest love and affection.  And attentions.

            QUEEN:  (coyly)  That sounds like the best part!

            KING:  (with sexual overtones)  Oh it is!  Definitely the best part!

            QUEEN:  (sexually as well)  Well, thatís certainly the part I want to see!

            KING:  Which can easily be arranged.  Perhaps youíd care to see the royal... bedroom.

            QUEEN:  (The QUEEN hesitates for just a moment, making a momentous decision on her future.)  It does sound... appealing.

            KING:  (trying to convince her by any means)  Love and affection for all time. Sharing lives...

            QUEEN:  You make it sound utterly intoxicating.

            KING:  Believe me:  It is!  (very earnestly)  Wouldnít you like to try it?

            QUEEN:  (intrigued just enough)  Why not?

            KING:  I canít think of a single reason!

            QUEEN:  (kidding)  Maybe you can think of multiple reasons?

            KING:  (laughing, but avoiding the question)  Itís a lovely bedroom.

            QUEEN:  One of your own designs?

            KING:  Absolutely.

            QUEEN:  (in one of the most profound statements in history)  In that case, Iíd love to see it. 

Together they rise, their eyes on one another, and taking one anotherís arm, exit stage right, ostensibly to live happily ever after.  Naturally it doesnít quite work out that way.



Forward to:

Act I, Scene 2 -- Elizabethan


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