Absolute Write

What the Leprechaun Said

I’ve mentioned before that I am somewhat active on the forums at AbsoluteWrite under the name “Bloo”. It’s a great place for writers to interact with other writers, discuss the craft, politics (if you desire), current events, television, movies, books, an area where you can share your work, and threads about blogging and social media, and most importantly (that I’ve found) learning how publishing really works.

This month, I signed up for a “Blog chain”, basically a group of bloggers take one theme and every couple of days a new blogger adds to the theme. Now it’s my turn to add my link to that chain.

This month’s theme is “What the Leprechaun Said” in celebration of March and St. Patrick’s Day. So with great fanfare and applause we open the curtain on a  “flash play” (similar to flash fiction but in script form).

WHAT THE LEPRECHAUN SAID

At rise, the set is dressed as the Irish seashore, up stage left (USL) should have a large boulder large enough for two men to lay against. Down stage right (DSR) should have a small boulder. A large man, FERGUS MAC LETI, enters. He is dressed in traditional Gaelic attire: a long-sleeved, thigh length tunic, a long black cloak, a belt around his waist, a brooch on his shoulder, and boots. A large sword is strapped to his back. Fergus looks around the setting and yawns, stretching. Fergus is joined by MUENA, his servant, who is dressed similar to Fergus.

Fergus: Ack, it’s been a long day and sleep is calling my name.

Muena: Your highness, are you sure it is wise to sleep here in the open?

Fergus: Bah, you worry too much Muena, Ireland is finally at peace, what harm could come to us here?

Muena: King Fergus, you still have enemies scattered throughout the land. If one should stumble upon us…

Fergus: You worry too much lad, (slapping Muena on the back) besides, if we don’t sleep and we do stumble across an enemy, we’ll be as worthless as the day is long!

Muena: But my Lord, what about the fair folk? The sprites, and dwarves, and such?

Fergus: I spit on the fair folk and all their like. They would have let us tear the land apart with war and reclaimed it for themselves. If they dare raise a hand against me, I’ll bash their heads in too! Now come lad (slapping Muena on the back again) it’s time for a rest.

Fergus finds a spot USL and settles down against the boulder, closes his eyes and immediately falls asleep, snoring quite loudly. Muena looks around nervously. He even walks to the down center stage and peers into the great depth of the ocean. Satisfied that no one is out to get them, he moves upstage and settles down next to Fergus and goes to sleep as well. 

As they sleep, the first Leprechaun, ARGYLE, enters. He is wearing a RED coat (not green) with gold trim and seven rows of buttons with seven buttons to each row, green leggings, and shoes with buckles. He enters with a flourish, flips or walking on his hands, something similar. He moves to DSR and begins to poke around the boulder, finally pulling out a small crock of gold. He settles against this boulder and begins to count his gold. That’s when he spies Fergus and Muena.

Agryle: Ack, what’s this? Thieves and brigands out to seal my gold!

He moves up stage and pokes Fergus, who snores louder and turns, almost spooning with Muena in the process and mumbling something in his sleep.

Argyle: No, not a thief, a thief wouldn’t dare snore so loud. A traveler perhaps, wandered here and decided to take a rest. FOOL (Argyle smacks the back of Fergus’ head), don’t you know the kings of men war and fight? This is no place to nap!

Argyle moves to stage right, and calls off stage

Argyle: Seamus! Chanuncey! Get out here, I need yer help

Two other leprechauns enter SR, SEAMUS and CHANUNCEY. They are dressed identical to Argyle.

Seamus: What have ye found Argyle?

Chanuncey: (pointing at Fergus and Muena) MEN! Come to steal from us!

Seamus: Or bring their war to our shores!

Argyle: I thought so too Chanuncey, but they are the most foolish humans I’ve ever seen. Look how they sleep. I can poke the fat one and he never wakes up.

Seamus: I don’t believe you.

Argyle: Try for yourself.

Seamus and Chanuncey each take turns poking and kicking at Fergus, who never stops snoring, only responds with grunts and half-hearted, sleepy swats.

Seamus: What should we do with them?

Chanuncey: Kill them.

Seamus: Chanuncey!

Argyle: For once I agree with Chanuncey, the best thing we can do is rid ourselves of these fools. If they stay here, more men may come and find our horde of gold. Or they could bring their war to us and force us to fight their battles for them. The best thing to do is kill them.

Seamus: Which one do we start with then?

Argyle: The right one, look he carries a sword, that makes him the greater threat.

Seamus: Fine, but how?

Chanuncy: We drag him to the sea and let the loch take him away.

Seamus and Argyle nod and the three of them grab Fergus’ legs and start to drag him to the water’s edge. When he’s almost to the edge, Fergus’ wakes up and starts to struggle.

Fergus: (roaring) WHAT IS THIS! LET ME GO YOU DAMNABLE CLURICHAUN!

Seamus: We’re not Clurichaun, we’re leprechaun!

Fergus: Then let me go you damnable leprechaun!

Fergus continues to struggle and manages to grab all three of his intended murders  and holds them close to him in his arms. 

Argyle: Let us go!

Fergus: Never! I’ll kill you, like you tried to kill me!

Fergus starts to drag them to the water.

Chanuncy: STOP! Don’t kill us and we’ll..

Seamus: We’ll…

Fergus: You’ll what?

Argyle: We’ll grant you a wish.

Fergus: (stopping) A wish you say?

Seamus: Yes, anything you want.

Fergus: (Looking at the sea thoughtfully and then pulling off his cloak) I want you to enchant this so that it allows me to breath underwater.

Chanuncy: You want to breath underwater? Why?

Fergus: So that no sprite, pixie, dwarf, Clurichaun, or leprechaun can ever do this to me again.

The three leprechauns huddle together and whisper, nodding, shaking heads, arguing silently. Finally they break the huddle and nod.

Argyle: Fine. (He spreads the cloak on the ground and begins to waves his hands over it) Tuatha Dé Danann

Seamus: Falias.

Chanuncy: Finias.

Argyle: Gorias

Seamus: Murias

Chanuncy: Enchant this cloak and let its wearer breath in the waters of every Loch.

Fergus, satisfied  reaches for his cloak and slips it back on his shoulders. Argyle quickly grabs the hem.

Argyle: Except for Loch Rudraige.

Fergus: (roaring) What have you done!

Seamus: What we said we’d do.

Chanuncy: You can breath in every loch and under every body of water except this one.

Argyle: Loch Rudraige.

Fergus: Why?

Seamus: (confused) Because that’s who we are and that’s what we do. You didn’t expect us to grant you a wish without condition did you?

Argyle: (a beat, waiting for an answer from Fergus, which doesn’t come) He DID!

Chanuncy: Foolish man, don’t you know that the leprechaun are tricksters and pranksters?

Seamus: We don’t mind you bothering our kin and cousins, but we don’t want to see you HERE again.

Fergus: (grumbling, walks over to Muena) Wake up Muena, it’s time to go.

Muena: (waking up to see the three leprechaun’s laughing and rolling) What…are those leprechaun?

Fergus: Yes. But ignore them, we need to go.

Muena: But why my liege?

Fergus: I don’t want to talk about it. (dragging Muena toward SL)

Muena: Fergus? You didn’t make a deal with them or allow them to grant you a wish did you?

Fergus: I don’t want to talk about it.

Muena: Because if you did, they’ll trick you every time.

Fergus: (as they exit) I SAID I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT!

Close

The story of Fergus mac Leti contains one of the earliest references to leprechauns and displays their more trickster nature and is a story I wasn’t real familiar with until I started brainstorming ideas for this blog and thought it was wonderfully theatrical. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing this.

I also suggest you check out the rest of the Absolute Write March Blog chain by following the links below.

orion_mk3 – http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com (link to post) 
robeiae – http://thepondsofhappenstance.blogspot.com/ (link to post) 
writingismypassion – http://charityfaye.blogspot.com/ (link to post) 
Sudo_One – http://sudoone.wordpress.com/ (link to post) 
randi.lee – http://emotionalnovel.blogspot.com/ (link to post)
pyrosama – http://matrix-hole.blogspot.com/ (link to post) 
katci13 – http://www.krystalsquared.net/ (link to post) 
MsLaylaCakes – http://taraquan.com/ (link to post) 
Angyl78 – http://jelyzabeth.wordpress.com/ (link to post) 
KitCat – http://twilightasylum.wordpress.com/ (link to post) 
Bloo – http://www.emergencyroomproductions.net/ (link to post)
dclary – http://davidwclary.com (link to post) 
ConnieBDowell – http://bookechoes.com/ (link to post)
Lady Cat – http://carolsrandomness.blogspot.com/ (link to post)
Araenvo – http://www.simonpclark.com/ (link to post)
MichaelP – http://portablemagicblog.com/ (link to post)
Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/ (link to post)
mdgreene50 – http://www.gettotheinside.blogspot.com/ (link to post)
scatterjoy! – http://www.sleepinginanunmadebed.com/ (link to post)
SRHowen – http://srhowen1.blogspot.com/ (link to post)
dolores haze – http://dianedooley.wordpress.com/ (link to post)

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Too Much?

I’m a member of the writing forum Absolute Write. It’s a fantastic site that deals with a lot of different genres and styles of writing, gives advice on publishing, has some fantastic threads where you can share your work and get feedback. All in all, it’s a site I recommend.

In the playwriting part of the site, this question was recently posed from user Izzie.

Smoking, Drinking, Swearing, and Dark Humor on Stage
The ten page play I am working on is a story that has been stuck in my head over the last month. So far, it has broken several of my “Do Not Write This” rules: no writing about College Kids, Teen Pregnancies, The Voice of Reason, and/or Drama Queens.” Too much of that in undergraduate college writing workshops.

Interestingly, to me anyway, it is better than I thought it would be. The characters are college kids who had teen pregnancies, one a Voice of Reason and the other a Drama Queen, but those are the things that brought them together and helped them find meaning. Or something. No finger wagging. Perfect? No. Next big hit on [insert theatre district here]? No. But I think it will turn out well and is making for good practice.

Because I am practicing, I have some questions on potentially offensive content on stage. Are these things problematic to the point I should not include similar elements in future work:

1. Drama Queen swears. In two languages, even. A lot. I thought it fit her personality. Used for emphasis and is not at random.

2. Teen pregnancies. I didn’t glorify them, but the characters ended up with some level of success in life. They’re not the epitome of mental health and I don’t know if I would call their outcome “defying the odds,” but they didn’t end up living in a dumpster or whatever after school specials would have you believe.

3. Drug references. Drama Queen went on a drug binge. See above about mental health, defying the odds, and dumpsters.

4. The Voice of Reason. She has baggage though, so is that a good thing?

There’s a lot of banter, so no praying for a moment of comic relief and ending up laughing at one line that isn’t very funny because there is so much drama you Must Laugh At Something. Thing is, I have seen an audience look afraid to laugh at gallows humor. Well, more than once. And one of the works was mine. And it ended up with someone pulling me aside and saying they were concerned. Yes, the person was serious about being concerned about my mental state because of something I wrote.

Guidance?

It’s an interesting question and one that I gave a lot of thought into before answering. It also gave me the chance to blog about this. This is how I answered her.

A lot depends on your intended audience and if it remains true to the characters. You should also ask yourself WHY you are writing this. Is it to shock or does it serve a purpose?

If your audience is college age/new adult audiences or those that attend “fringe theater” performance (I hate that term LOL I say as a member of a named “Fringe Theater” group) then yes cursing, drugs, etc are acceptable and such plays have seen success. In fact, a lot of mainstream shows feature this kind of behavior. Tony nominated musical NEXT TO NORMAL features quite a bit of cursing and drug use. AVENUE Q features even more cursing, talk about masturbation, and puppet sex. It also gave us the songs “The Internet Is For Porn” and “If You Were Gay”. DOG SEES GOD features characters who are in High School (and are pastiches for the Peanuts Gang) engaged in homosexuality, bisexuality, drinking, doing drugs, cursing, suicide, and bullying. David Mamet paints pictures with the “f-bomb” (see Glengarry Glen Ross or Oleanna) and even that old standard Neil Simon “cursed” in his plays. In THE ODD COUPLE, Oscar drinks like a fish (when I’ve played him (twice now) I’ve always played him as trying to drown out his personal sorrow through booze) and the entire group of poker buddies smoke.

NOW if you are writing a piece for High School students to PERFORM or see, then you’re going to find a lot less success with these kind of tropes (mainly the cursing), but even that is becoming less and less of an issue. I wrote a 10-minute monodrama for a young actor that didn’t have any cursing in it. I showed it to a friend of mine, a HS English and Drama teacher, and he said “you need to have this character curse.” When I asked “wouldn’t that limit the audience?”, he shrugged it off and said “not really.” This is a teacher at a very small school in Kansas.

I think all these things are fine, as long as they are true to the characters. If it is there to shock or just because you can, then they aren’t necessary, but if they are true to the characters and serve a purpose, then go for it.

I don’t think it is fair to say that there are “rules” that you must “NEVER DO.” Rules for writing, in my opinion, are made to be broken and the theater should explore all kinds of characters. I understand that some characters have become “stock” in playwriting but that doesn’t mean we can ignore them.

On the other hand, we need to ask ourselves, as playwrights, why we are writing about these characters and is there any way to make them “deeper” or more then just stock.