Sunday, March 5, 2006

Leo Tolstoy and Alred Lord Tennyson Fistfight in Hell (p. 40)

Leo Tolstoy and Alfred Lord Tennyson Fistfight in Hell
Oedipus Jones

ALFRED LORD TENNYSON, the 19th century literary genius
LEO TOLSTOY, the 19th century literary genius

The stage is empty except for ALFRED LORD TENNYSON and about a thousand Dixie cups. He is wearing nothing but black Spandex pants and has the letters “A.L.T.” painted on his chest. He is meticulously stacking the Dixie cups in the style of a protective fort around himself. Upon completing his fort, TENNYSON bursts out in song:

TENNYSON: Oh, I wish I was in the land of cotton
Old times there are not forgotten
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixieland.
In Dixieland where I was born in
Early on one frosty mornin’
Look away! Look away! Look away, Dixieland.

[He kicks down a section of the fort with each upcoming “Away!”]
Oh, I wish I was in Dixie
Away! [kick] Away! [kick]
In Dixieland I’ll make my stand
To live and die in Dixie
Away! [kick] Away! [kick]
Away down south in Dixie!
Away! [kick] Away! [kick]
Away down south in Dixie!

[The fort is now completely destroyed. TENNYSON stands for a moment in the middle of his admirable mess. Without any apparent warning, he suddenly throws himself on all fours, growling and barking like a dog. It is at this point that LEO TOLSTOY enters the stage. He is also wearing nothing but black Spandex pants but has the letters “L.T.” painted on his chest.]

TOLSTOY: Goddammit! [He crosses to TENNYSON and begins slapping him on the top of his head.] Bad dog! Bad dog! [TENNYSON slowly sulks upstage, whimpering like the dog he is. TOLSTOY speaks with sympathy.] Dammit, man…get up. Get up! [A beat, and then enthusiastically:] Up, boy! Up! [He slaps his legs enthusiastically and continues to encourage TENNYSON in this manner. Eventually it works and TENNYSON begins to jump excitedly on TOLSTOY. TOLSTOY in turn begins petting him on the head.] Good dog! Aren’t you a good dog!
TENNYSON, enraged: Damn you… DAMN YOU! [He begins to attack TOLSTOY but then stops himself.] Are these not the hands… the hands of a man? [He begins to quietly weep.]
TOLSTOY: The hands of a man?

TENNYSON, still crying: A man with a plan.

TOLSTOY: A man with a plan and a friend named Stan.

TENNYSON, realizing the game and forgetting his sadness: The hands of a man with a friend named Stan and a plan for the fan and a frying pan!

TOLSTOY: A frying pan?

TENNYSON: A frying pan.

TENNYSON and TOLSTOY: A plan for the fan and a frying pan! [They explode into laughter and shake hands and hug. TOLSTOY collapses in the middle of their embrace.]

TENNYSON: Oh God! [He checks over TOLSTOY and sees that he is no longer moving] Oh Christ Jesus in Heaven! [He straddles the unmoving body and grabs him by the shoulders.] Why? Why! Why, God, why?! Why must you take my one and only friend!? [By this point he is violently shaking TOLSTOY, who wakes up and begins running around the stage and shouting like a distracted person.]

TOLSTOY: RARGHRARGHRARGHRARGHRARGHRARGH!!! [He runs around screaming in this manner for about twenty seconds as TENNYSON just looks on in confused amazement. After the twenty seconds (or however long it takes for the audience to become extremely uncomfortable), TENNYSON begins following TOLSTOY and mimicking his screaming. After this anarchy has lasted far longer than it ever should have, they stop center-stage and pant heavily, looking out at the audience. After they have caught a little breath they begin running and screaming again, only this time they run out into the audience. After running amuck throughout the audience they should both exit through the audience entrance/exit doors in the back of the theatre. As the audience sits whispering amongst themselves and wondering if this so-called “play” is over, TOLSTOY and TENNYSON have made their way backstage. They should wait until the audience has begun comfortably speaking out loud (or possibly even leaving) before they each enter from opposite sides of the stage.]

TENNYSON: Hello, stranger!

TOLSTOY: Hello yourself.

TENNYSON: Fine weather we’re having.

TOLSTOY, after a beat: We’re inside.

TENNYSON, examining his surroundings: Are we?

TOLSTOY, instantly enraged: Of course we are! It is completely obvious that we are meeting here right now for the first time in the great indoors! Gosh and golly! Anyone in his right sense could either see and/or feel that this is the case and that the facts are how the case is solved.


TOLSTOY: I don’t know that you do.

TENNYSON: I don’t know that I do.

TOLSTOY: I just said that.

TENNYSON: Said what?

TOLSTOY: That I don’t know that you do.

TENNYSON: Do what?

TOLSTOY: Do what?

TENNYSON: Do what?

TOLSTOY and TENNYSON: Chicken butt! [At this they hook arms and begin skipping in a circle and singing.]

TENNYSON: Do what, do what, do what?

TOLSTOY: Chicken butt!

TENNYSON: Guess what, guess what, guess what?

TOLSTOY: Chicken butt!

TENNYSON: More what, more what, more what?

TOLSTOY: Chicken butt!

TENNYSON: Less what, less what, less what?

TOLSTOY: Chicken butt!


TENNYSON, gravely: What did you say?

TOLSOTY, suddenly ashamed and sheepish: No… I’m sorry… Please, sir, don’t make me—

TENNYSON, shouting: WHAT… DID… YOU… SAY!! [TOLSTOY drops to his knees sobbing.] Tell me! Tell me you dirty little boy! Tell me what you said!

TOLSTOY, through his sobs: I… said…


TOLSTOY: Chicken butt. [At this TENNYSON marching about the stage celebrating, seemingly drunk with his newfound power. Meanwhile, TOLSTOY just weeps and calls out to God.] Why me, God? Why me?!

TENNYSON, continuing in his celebration, shouts to TOLSTOY: Assume the position!

[TOLSTOY looks on in horror.]

I said assume the position.

TOLSTOY: Yes… sir. [He stand up and turns around. With his back to the audience he bends over and grabs hold of his ankles.] Read sir.

TENNYSON, menacingly: Good… [At this TENNYSON jumps off the stage and picks a woman out of the crowd. He brings the woman on stage and stands her beside TENNYSON.] Now to begin the chastisement. [He takes the woman’s hands and begins to slap the down on the top of TOLSTOY’s ass. Each time he brings her hands down, he and TOLSTOY shout “Chastisement!” and he encourages her to shout it as well. Once the woman has been established in her new role as an actress, TENNYSON leaves her to continue her job and pulls another woman from the audience. He sets this woman on the other side of TOLSTOY and instructs her in the same manner. When they are both correctly chastising TOLSTOY, TENNYSON leaves the stage again and brings up two more women. When they are on the stage, TENNYSON throws his head back and shouts:] Begin the chastisement! [At this, TENNYSON turns around and grabs his ankles. If the two new women don’t come over immediately, he should beckon them over to him. As they are both being beaten they should eventually start screaming “Chastisement!” in unison and with growing intensity. When their shouting reaches its peek volume, TENNYSON and TOLSTOY should break away from the four women. As the women and audience look on in complete confusion, the two will meet on the very edge of the stage where they will collapse into a passionate make-out session. If the women leave the stage, that’s fine; if not, even better. This make-out should last long enough for the shock to wear off and even to the point where it passes gratuitous and just becomes obnoxious. At this point, they will both look up and back at the back of the stage, which has become greatly illuminated. With a keen sense for pointing out the obvious, they are staring into Heaven.]

TOLSTOY: Father… is that you?

TENNYSON: So… thirsty…

TOLSTOY: Have pity on us… send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool out tongues…

TENNYSON: Because we are in agony…

As the two reach out to Heaven they become overwhelmed with the exhaustion of death. In time, they each collapse, their legs still entwined from the hot make-out session. The curtain should close at this point, leaving TENNYSON and TOLSTOY in front of it. Here they will lie until the theatre is completely empty. The play has ended.


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