Scene Six

Screen is now center stage in front of the pines.

Light middle section overhead spots and some greenish-hued lights from other positions.

At Lights Up BASHO and SORA are at the far right corner of the screen. SORA is slightly behind BASHO as they "hike." SORA is reverently holding a sandal in each hand (like the Teva sandals?) BASHO has a pair but his are casually hanging from a crook of his finger.)

SORA

Look at that. The straps are the exact color of those iris from the Boys' Festival. How special was the celebration in this place and at this time. And then to find an artist to join us. What luck!

BASHO

It's sure we would have missed many sights without him. But I could have done with a few less flower viewings. We even looked at flowers that won't bloom until autumn!

SORA

But the white rhododendrons WERE impressive.

BASHO

I liked that line he said: The darkest spot on earth is a subject for poetry because of its DEWINESS.

SORA

One poet says his Lord needs an umbrella to protect him when he enters it. That's pretty good.

BASHO

(looking around as if lost)

I think we need a map more than an umbrella. Do you have those drawings he made for you to explain the way?

SORA

(pulls out a roll of paper from his pack. The two kneel down to hold the edges against the wind.)

Here is where the sedges grow and they make those mats. Nothing much to see there.

BASHO

Is this the place where that old stone is?

SORA

Haven't you seen enough old stones?

BASHO

When I stand in front of those old monuments which have withstood, stood with, so much passing time, I feel myself to be in the living memory of the ancients and I forget how hard this traveling is...

SORA

It's quite a hike and out of the way to get there. Think you can forgo this old stone?

BASHO

(running his finger over the map)

Anyhow, here is an even bigger and older one -- Rock-in-the-Offing.

SORA

No one uses the word "offing" anymore. It's river's mouth. He marked it as something special. Here the temple has many tombstones. More stones for you!

Lights put all the white lights possible on the very middle of the screen. SORA and BASHO are bowed as they hike through it. Lights dim as they approach the left edge of the screen.

(Around the corner of the screen sits a blind man with a stringed instrument on his lap.)

A bell tolls.

BASHO

What a depressing sound! I never heard a curfew bell so mournful.

SORA

If the temple bell sounds that sorrowful, I hate to think what visiting the cemetery will do to our spirits. Let's hurry on into town.

BASHO

Listen!

SORA

Now what?

BASHO

You can hear the voices of the fishermen down on the dock. Strange, how clearly their voices carry up here. They live such a precarious life and yet here on the hill is where their voices really ARE. They are down there and their voices have separated themselves to come to this place. Is it now and forever? After we are gone, will we still be here? As voices?

(Both stand staring out over the audience.)

SORA

Maybe everything does happen at once. The ancients are here again. We are here. And the people after us are also here, seeing us AND the ancients.

BASHO

Even the people in the tombs can never go away. We just keep gathering together.

SORA

Regrouping.

MINSTREL

( starts strumming very softly.)

BASHO

Another blessed act. Think it is true that every vibration continues to vibrate --just quieter and quieter through the centuries?

SORA

If it's not the same sound that continues to vibrate, it is surely repeated periodically.

MINSTREL

(the strumming becomes a tune)

SORA

... by someone new, like repeating a song. Do you hear music? Now? Are we drunk already?

(With their tiny stepping hiking they arrive arround the corner where they stop before a blind man playing a guitar? ukulele? biwa? lute? mouth harp if nothing else.)

MINSTREL

Good evening gentlemen. There are just two of you, right? You see, I can't see but I've listened to you bodies walk the mountain's side. If you've something to share in those canteens that clink at your sides, we can widen this moment with the space of our souls and my music.

(SORA and BASHO look at each other. BASHO's hand goes to the sore place under his pack. They swing their packs down from their backs as the MINSTREL begins singing a song (of his choice). Half- way through it SORA gets restless. He and BASHO make signs that they find it less than good. BASHO mimes they must be kind with a dampening sign of his hand. Finally SORA pulls out the map again and begins to study it. When MINSTREL finishes his song, he claps as enthusiastically as BASHO does, but he goes right back to his map.)

BASHO

Marvelous. Rarely do I get to sit it so close to the musician. That too, is an experience.

MINSTREL

Glad you liked my song. It is one of the old Dramatic Narratives of the Far North.

SORA

(absently)

Anything old thrills BASHO. Rustic flavors of the past...

MINSTREL

(strums cautiously)

And you, young man, How does my song sit with you?

BASHO

He will appreciate it more when it finally catches up with him. Far down the trail -- in a day or two. Out of nowhere he will hear it for the first time.

(He gives SORA a fond look to take the sting out of this statement.)

MINSTREL

You gents visiting around here?

SORA

No, we just want to get on a boat to sail to the islands.

MINSTREL

Before you get in the boat, you'd better visit the shrine the new governor built.

BASHO

You have a new shrine here?

MINSTREL

Yep, we've had it, too, since the year one hundred and one thousand and eighty-seven. Here ended the Golden Age. Right here. I've gotta song about the last fight among the Fujiwara brothers. Wanna hear it?

SORA

Could I ask you... Do you know anything about the islands?

MINSTREL

Talk needs drink.

SORA

(hands him the open canteen, gives BASH a warning look as the MINSTREL drinks long and deep.)

MINSTREL

Much praise has already been give to the wonders of the Matsushima islands. Yet if further praise is possible, I would like to say that here s the most beautiful spot in the whole country.

SORA

You've seen the islands?

MINSTREL

Seen 'em? I've sailed 'em! I wasn't always blind. Just since the famine. The famine took my eyes.

SORA

(passes him the canteen again. BASH opens a food appropriate to the situation: nuts, chips, trail mix. MINSTREL notices these sounds and edges closer to the food by laying aside his instrument.)

MINSTREL

Strange. When I had my eyes, I always used to come up here when our ship was in port. Loved to look out across the bay. There by south-east, where the bay opens to the sea, you'd think each wave fills the bay to the brim. Always fascinated me.

(MINSTREL reaches for more food and while he fills his mouth and chews noisily)

SORA

(looking over the audience)

Well, this scene is certainly not inferior to Lake Dotei or Lake Seiko.

MINSTREL

(with his mouth full)

You been there? In China?

SORA

(abashedly)

No, but I've read a lot about them.

MINSTREL

Nothing. Nothing to these.

BASHO

Tall islands point to the sky. Level ones prostrate themselves before surges of water.

MINSTREL

Yeah, I used to think they looked exactly like parents caressing their children.

BASHO

( reaches out and takes SORA's hand)

MINSTREL

I still can smell the pines

(BASHO and SORA remember pines)

Their branches are curved by the wind -- into the most unusual forms.

(BASHO and SORA are groping each other)

I'd see the tiny cottages out there, with smoke curling up out of them. I wondered what kind of people they must be.

(the groping between the two intensifies as they move so their backs are to the audience)

Approaching always gave me a strange sense of yearning. In the midst of roaring wind and driving clouds, I felt myself to be in a world totally different.

(MINSTREL reaches for his instrument to croon above any noises BASHO and SORA are making)

Clear voiced cuckoo
even you will need cranes' wings
to span these islands

Blackout

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scene Seven

Screen placed at an angle from up stage center to center stage center right.

Lights are up but soften with gentle colors -- as in memories.

At Lights Up BASHO and SORA are hidden behind the screen. They will come around the corner to proceed to the front in their hiking mode.

Time June 20th

SORA

(out of sight around the corner of the screen)

Twenty miles in two days is pretty good for us.

BASHO

(also out of sight but moving forward)

I've read of this place so much, I feel like I've been here before.

SORA

(comes into view, looks back at BASHO who is still hidden)

Maybe you ARE one of the old Fujiwara Brothers -- reincarnated!

BASHO

(now in the view of the audience, pointing)

There's the river, just like I knew it was! There's the main gate!

SORA

Basho, Basho. Just the ruins of the gates. There's nothing here but rice paddies.

BASHO

No, no. Mount Kinkei is still the same. There's the river cutting across the plain. There's the house of Lord Yasuhira, just north of the barrier gate. See how vital that was? To protect the entrance from the barbarian invaders from the north?

SORA

Ruins and grass.

BASHO

No, no. Many a feat of chivalrous valor was repeated here.

SORA

The short span of three generations.

BASHO

(He removes his hat)

SORA

As the Chinese poet, Tu Fu wrote:

When a country is defeated
there remains only mountains and rivers
and on a ruined castle,
only grasses thrive.

BASHO

summer grass
the only remains of warriors’
dreams

(In frustration and the beginning of tears, he flings has hat on the ground, sinks down on it, bows his head and weeps.)

SORA

(stands alone letting BASHO get his feelings cared for.)

Thunder

Lights dim

(SORA helps BASHO rise and they move to mid-screen where they stop. SORA knocks on the screen as if it is a door.)

INNKEEPER II

( stands on the other side of the screen. He has a very rough voice. There is no light on him and we never see him.)

SORA

Can we overnight here?

INNKEEPER

Go away. No one is here.

SORA

Yes you are.

(supporting BASHO)

We need a shelter from this rain and the night.

INNKEEPER

Who's we?

SORA

We are travelers --poets -- sightseers.

INNKEEPER

Do you have money?

SORA

Not much. But we can pay the price of lodging here. We will pay you in advance. Please let us in before we get wetter.

(BASHO and SORA huddle up against the screen as rain sounds continue and continue and continue.)

Lights dim and brighten a bit, dim and brighten, dim and barely brighten.

BASHO

Three days. Three days we we've been holed up in here at Pisswater Barrier.

SORA

Each day we have paid in advance.

BASHO

fleas and lice
and now a horse pisses
                        (rain sounds get louder)
close to my pillow

INNKEEPER

Where you fellows headed to?

(pause as if listening to their answer)

Dewa?

(laughs coarsely)

You know what mountains are between here and there? The road is a single rut. I doubt you could find it. It is so dark and sinister there, black soot falls from the clouds!

(BASH0 and SORA confer)

BASHO

It must be possible to get across.

INNKEEPER

Not without a guide.

BASHO

And you just happen to know of one.

INNKEEPER

He's a strappling boy.

BASHO

(muttering)

He wouldn't be -- your son.

(SORA and BASH hike to the corner where LIGHTS have a pool of clear white light on just the end of the curtain.)

SORA

(looking over his shoulder)

Man, am I glad to get rid of him! He was one big and scary kid.

BASHO

But he got us through it. And as he said, this was his first trip nothing bad happened.

SORA

You believe that?

BASHO

Nothing bad happened to me. And you?

SORA

You are trying to make light of it, but I still feel uneasy.

BASHO

Wait until you meet Seifu. He is a poet-merchant, or merchant-poet. He lives, I think, in this town.

SORA

How did you meet someone from here?

BASHO

In the capitol. We studied together. If we can find his house, I am sure we can stay with him.

(looking around to read a sign)

Isn't there a famous temple near here?

SORA

The land is full of temples and every one of them is "famous" for something. My feet refuse to walk to another one.

BASHO

(pointing off stage left)

It is only seven miles out of the way.

SORA

No.

BASHO

Then you stay here while I make this side trip.

SORA

All alone, Old Man?

BASHO

Don't call me Old Man. You were the old woman on that last road!

SORA

Don't believe it. I just pretended so you wouldn't be ashamed of your fears.

BASHO

Don't give me that kind of lip.

SORA

( takes off his pack, sits down and makes himself comfortable.)

BASHO

That's your decision. I'll be back here sometime tomorrow -- if all goes well. (BASHO walks off stage left.)

(SORA pretends to sleep, gets out a book, can't read, doesn't like the taste in his canteen, stares at the audience as if he hates every person there.)

Lights dim and brighten into the next day.

At Lights Up BASHO enters from stage left. He is quiet and full of introspection. SORA bounces up with joy when he sees him. SORA runs to him, helps him off with his pack, settles him down, opens the canteen for him, picks an (imaginary) twig off his clothes, seats himself at BASHO's feet like an eager child.

SORA

Well, was the trip worth it?

BASHO

(still enthralled finds it hard to pull himself into SORA's mood and question but when he looks at SORA's eager face he softens a bit and begins to speak but he is obviously still within his experience. )

When I reached it, the late afternoon sun was still lingering over the scene.

Lights warm in color.

BASHO

After arranging to stay with the priests.

SORA

(makes a wry face)

BASHO

...at the foot of the mountain, I climbed to the temple situated near the summit. The whole mountain was made of massive rocks jumbled together, covered with age-old pines and oaks. The stony ground itself bore the color of eternity, paved with velvety moss. The doors of the temple were firmly barred...

SORA

You mean after all that you couldn't go inside?

BASHO

(ignoring him)

...there was not a sound to be heard. I moved about on my hands and knees, going from rock to rock, bowing reverently at each shrine. I felt the purifying power of this holy environment pervade my whole being.

such silence
it pierces the rock
a cicada’s voice

SORA

Are you sure? Isn't that a metaphor? The cry penetrates the rocks?

BASHO

You should have seen those rocks. There were still holes in them!

SORA

Well, I'll be damned. I should have known you wouldn't stoop to lyrical poetry!

Blackout

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scene Eight

Screen is laid down flat on the floor directly in front of the pines -- down stage center. Yes the handles and seats stick up but the curtain is supposed to be a river so it should be bunched up and lumpy looking.

At Lights Up

(The two men are sitting in a "boat" which consists of SORA's backpack laid flat, SORA seated cross-legged, BASHO seated with his back pack projecting in front of him. Both are facing the audience. When they talk, SORA leans forward to BASHO's shoulder and BASHO turns his head sideways to indicate when he is directly speaking to SORA. When BASHO speaks to himself his words go straight forward so SORA doesn't "hear" him.)

SORA

Jizo! What a wild river! Sure beats walkin'!

BASHO

(uneasy)

My souls -- spelled with a U -- prefer the good earth.

SORA

Think pleasant thoughts.

BASHO

summer rains
quickly gathered
River Mogami

SORA

What did you say?

BASHO

There

(pointing up to the left)

are the Go Stones. Don't the stones look like counters on a board? And those must be

(pointing straight ahead)

Peregrine Falcon Rapids.

(Both men jiggle and sway as if their boat is taking the rapids. They hang on to the "sides".)

SORA

(as they hit calmer water)

What kind of a boat is this?

BASHO

In olden days farmers used it to transport their rice to the market of Sakata.

SORA

(bailing water)

Couldn't we have gotten a more modern one?

BASHO

It would not have been the same. This is more romantic!

SORA

(continues to bail and grumble to himself.)

BASHO

(relaxes and falls into reverie. Finally speaks.)

I loved how that odd guy said it. "The old seed of linked verse, once strewn here by scattering wind, had taken root, still bearing its own flowers each year and thus, softening the mind of the rough villagers like the clear note of a reed pipe." (he muses)

Too bad they had no one to guide them through, as the guy said, "the forest of error".

(he recrosses his legs)

Oh, well, maybe the book of linked verse we composed together will be of help to them and those who come after.

(he smiles satisfied with himself)

(pointing up to the right as he turns to speak to SORA)

There is the Cascade of Silver Threads.

SORA

I hope they tie this boat together.

(peering over the edge)

The river cannot hold much more water.

Blackout

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scene Nine

Screen is now draped over the inclined riser. The folds are stretched out so the surface is relatively smooth -- at least in the middle. If the seats and handles stick up, keep these parts to the right, out of the action.

Light s come from directly above. They should be a bit bluish to look like snow light. The pines are well-lighted so they are a part of this scene.

At Lights Up SORA and BASHO enter from behind the pines. The PRIEST comes from stage wing left and crosses in front of the "mountain" to meet SORA and BASHO at the right front edge.

BASHO

(bowing)

The High Priest Egaku?

PRIEST

Yes, welcome to Mount Haguro. Our mutual friend Sakichi, or do you use his poet-name -- Rogan?, told me a famous author was coming our way. We welcome you to abide in our south annex, it is our most commodious.

(BASHO and SORA bow to him. PRIEST barely nods and then changes his mind and makes a deeper bow.)

PRIEST

I trust, when you have rested, we can write some linked verse together.

BASHO

(bows again)

And my first verse shall be:

admirable
snow gives its scent to

                        (pause, as both men look at him wondering what he is going to say)
the south valley

(PRIEST and SORA bow to BASHO.)

PRIEST

(takes BASHO's arm and points to the center of the incline on the floor)

This is Gongen Shrine. The founder was a priest call Nohjo. He was the third son of the Emperor Sushun. No one knows when he lived but the shrine IS mentioned in the ancient writings.

(getting into the role of tourist guide)

The mountain is called Hugaro because according to a local history book, quantities of feathers were sent from here each year to the emperor. This shrine is counted as one of the three most sacred shrines of the north, with the others being Mount Gassen and Mount Yudono.

SORA

(is not listening. He has wondered away and is watching "people" who are tourists coming to the shrine, looking them up and down, some with approval, some he finds comical and mimics them. This is his big mime scene and he takes over, gets the best lighting. The priest's monologue is mostly a drone to his actions.)

PRIEST

There is, you know, a sister shrine just outside the capitol. But it is HERE the Doctrine of Absolute Meditation as is preached by the Tendai sect, shines forth like the clear beams of the moon, amid the Laws of the Spiritual Freedom and Enlightenment which illuminate as lamps in the utter darkness.

(pointing toward the audience)

There are the hundreds of houses where the priests practice religious rites with absolute severity.

BASHO

(casts a quick glance of disapproval in SORA's direction. He stops for an instant, but as soon as BASHO's attention swings back to the priest, he continues.)

PRIEST

(as if preaching)

Indeed the whole mountain is filled with miraculous inspirations and sacred awe. It's glory will never perish as long a man continues to live on earth.

(he motions to SORA and BASHO. PRIEST hangs a paper necklace on each and places a hood of white cloth on their heads.)

BASHO & SORA

( Take off their packs and lay them down on the lower right edge of the incline, SORA and BASH set off up the center of the incline.)

PRIEST

(blesses then with signs of benediction.)

SORA & BASHO

(walk "switch backs" across the incline. This should look like a hard climb. They get out of breath, are cold, slip on ice, can barely drag themselves up right to the top right edge.)

Lights dim for sunset. To their right a single, tight spot moves as moonrise.

BASHO

(pointing out the circle of light)

The moon. How perfect.

SORA

(deeply moved is silent as he, too, gazes at the moon)

Lights come up brighter.

SORA & BASHO

(walk "down" and slightly to the right so they are about in the middle of the incline.)

BASHO

He must have chosen this spot for his smithy because he knew a certain mysterious power was latent in the water of this stream.

SORA

Like the place in China?

BASHO

The story of Kanshoh and Bakuya is not out of place here, for it teaches us that no matter where your interest lies, you will not be able to accomplish anything unless you bring your deepest devotion to it.

SORA

They were husband and wife.

BASHO & SORA

(now walk to the left top corner, stare long at the back of the stage with their backs to the audience. They put their arms on each other's shoulders as they whisper together, nod in agreement. As they turn around and prepare to descend...)

BASHO

Remember the priest said we should never reveal what we saw.

SORA

(seriously)

We'll consider it our secret!

BASHO

But we should compose some poems on the experience.

SORA

(squats down at the lower left edge of the incline)

BASHO

(looks to the upper right corner of the incline)

coolness
the crescent moon faintly seen
over Black Feather Mountain

(now he points to the center top of the incline)

cloud peaks
how many have crumbles
on the mountain of the moon

(now he drops his head after a furtive motion to point to upper left corner of the incline)

not permitted to tell
how sleeves are wetted
in the bathroom

SORA

my heart is touched
coins strewn on the pilgrims' path
to Bath Mountain

BASHO

Yes, I, too, had a strange feeling seeing that sight.

SORA

I wonder why the custom of throwing away all of one's coins before arriving at the most sacred shrine?

BASHO

Because we are all equal before the mysteries. No one is richer or poorer.

SORA

But we are not all equal. One of us is a genius.

Blackout

 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Scene Ten

Screen has now been righted and is set edge-wise (actually facing stage left) to the audience just to the left of the incline so there is room for action on both sides.

Lights are spotted on both sides of the curtain as if shining into two rooms with the curtain the wall between them.

At Lights Up SORA and BASHO walk slowly back to the right incline bottom corner where they left their packs. They carry them over to the middle of the curtain on its left side. The two men lie down with their heads on their packs, the soles of their feet toward the audience. As they settle down SORA is very much in pain from a stomach ache.)

PROSTITUTES I & II

(During this time two women come in from stage left and quietly sit on the floor side by side, facing the audience.)

BASHO

I sure hope you feel better tomorrow. Those herbs that quack gave you looked positively poisonous.

SORA

Don't remind me.

(he groans and rolls into a fetal position.)

BASHO

(sits closest to the curtain. He remains awake listening to the two women talking.)

Lights on the left side of the curtain fade to a glow.

PROSTITUTE I

Whatta joker. He brings us to this goddess-forsaken place. Then he high-tails it off in the other direction. Men!

PROSTITUTE II

I dunno know. For me, I'm glad to be rid of him. Now we can do what we want to!

PROSTITUTE I

I wanna get home. And every day we eat, we get farther away.

PROSTITUTE II

Don't be so dramatic. What money we don't have, we can -- between the two of us --

(she laughs)

earn it.

PROSTITUTE I

But you gotta admit our being female and alone on the road... We could be giving it away for free.

PROSTITUTE II

And we could get hurt. We've gotta stick together.

IPROSTITUTE I

Yeah.

(she repairs her make-up)

SORA

(groans in his sleep)

PROSTITUTE I

What's that?

PROSTITUTE II

Sh! sound like one of those two guys next door.

PROSTITUTE I

The priests? I'm not fooled. Them ain't no holy men!

PROSTITUTE II

The innkeeper said they were really poets traveling incognita

(she pronounces it wrong).

They shave their heads and act -- kinda -- like priests and no one bothers 'em.

PROSTITUTE I

(pulling her hair back off her face with both hands as she looks into her mirror)

Maybe we should try that trick.

PROSTITUTE II

That could cut your income to zero instantly.

PROSTITUTE I

Oh, I don't know.

PROSTITUTE II

Off of it. But what if they'd let us tag along with them? They could be our tickets home -- safe and sound.

PROSTITUTE I

Two priests with two prostitutes. That should get everyone's attention. We might as well join the circus.

PROSTITUTE II

They are po-ets, really. Not really priests. They might even learn to enjoy our company.

PROSTITUTE I

The young one looks sick. I don't wanna play nursie all the way back to Niigata.

PROSTITUTE II

Wifie or nursie. Which will it be?

PROSTITUTE I

Do we ever get a choice? I just wanna get home. My hair needs washing. I'm sick of these same clothes. Jizo, this place is the pits at night.

PROSTITUTE II

Try to get some sleep. I have a plan for tomorrow.

(The two women lie down with their feet also to the audience.)

Lights dim and lighten to early morning.

BASHO, SORA & PROSTITUTE I & II

(rise, gather up their things, stretch, yawn and move to meet at the down stage corner of the screen. SORA is still not feeling well.)

PROSTITUTE I

(approaches BASHO acting shy and unsure -- penitent)

Sir? Oh, gentlemen!

SORA and BASHO

(turn, seem surprised she is talking to them)

PROSTITUTE I

Sirs, we are forlorn travelers, complete strangers to this road. Will you be kind enough, at least, to let us follow you?

BASHO

(looks grim)

PROSTITUTE I

If you are a priest, as your black robe tells us, have mercy upon us and help us to learn the great love of Buddha (the Savior if the play is not set in Japan).

BASHO

(bows to the women. SORA looks at him as if he has lost his mind)

I am greatly touched by your words...

PROSTITUTE I & II

(smile and step or lean closer to him)

BASHO

...but we have so many places to stop at on the way that we cannot help you.

PROSTITUTE II

(starts to gesture "oh we will stay out of your way" by pulling her folded hands to her chest)

BASHO

Go as other travelers go. If you trust in Buddha, you will never lack his divine protection.

(The women start to weep and cling to one another)

BASHO

(steps away from the scene as he begins to think)

SORA

(starts to go to them with his comfort.)

BASHO

in one house
prostitutes lie down to sleep with
bush clover and the moon

(he turns to SORA to demand sharply)

Did you get that written down? It's time we be making tracks if we want to see the wisteria at Nagi.

PROSTITUTE I & II

(The two women ease to the left off-stage and fade away)

SORA

(hastily writing down BASHO's poem. His question is very querulous)

See wisteria now? In early autumn? They bloom in spring.

(watching BASHO's detached demeanor)

At least they did where I grew up.

(SORA always stands as if his stomach still hurts. When he can he holds his hand over it.)

BASHO

I want to see what color they are NOW.

(walking a bit then pausing to recite)

the scent of early rice
coming in from the right
waters of the Angry Sea

SORA

Basho, I really don't feel well at all. Your being angry with me makes me feel even worse.

BASHO

It's because you are too soft. In the next city I know of a poet. I am sure he will let us stay at his house. There will be no prostitutes to steal your heart -- or stomach.

SORA

I don't want to argue with you. I just don't think I can go on. I'll can turn off here to go to a relative who lives in Nagashima.

(he writes a farewell poem reading slowly as he writes)

now walking alone
if I fall let me die
in the bush clover

(the last words he spits out at Basho reminding him of his rejection of the women).

BASHO

(looking him belligerently in the eye, writes without looking at his notebook)

from this day on
dew will erase the writing on my hat
– 'travelers two'

SORA

(stumbles off toward stage right leaving BASHO alone in a rather unlighted portion of the stage. Just before going into the wings, SORA pauses, writes a poem, and flings it on the floor so it lands half-way between up- and down-stage, in the left third of the stage.)

BASHO

(walks much more slowly over the same area making switch backs on one third of the stage until he arrives at the point where SORA's poem lies. He picks it up and reads SORA's poem out loud.)

BASHO

all night long
I listen to the autumn wind
in the lonely hills

(speaks gently)

So Sora and I are separated by the distance of a single night. But it is the same as being apart a thousand miles. I, too, hear the wind and the chatter of priests.

BASHO

(As he starts walking right across the middle of the stage -- in the direction of the pines a voice comes from off-stage right.)

VOICE

Hey, you. Poet, priest, whatever. You know you are supposed to leave a gift as thanks for our hospitality. Are you sneaking off with your shoes still untied?

BASHO

(yanks out his notebook, scribbles as he speaks)

sweeping up the garden
I want to leave in the temple
scattered willow leaves

(he looks around as if the place is ill-kept, rips his poem out of the notebook and flings it to the ground so it lands about where SORA's was.)

BASHO

(walks all over this half of the nearly darkened stage. He mimes meeting others, walks arm in arm with them, just a second, mimes farewell, meets another. He wanders back and forth. At one point he writes a poems and speaks...)

writing something
pulling apart the torn fan
missing someone

(As BASHO continues to stumble walk he writes on papers, but doesn't even read them. He just drops them in a paper trail.)

Screen has in this time been moved so it is parallel with the incline and close to the back wall up stage center left. The black incline will cut off the sight of BASH's feet and legs, but that is the right effect -- so he is detached from the ground as he almost floats as he very slowly moves from right to left in front of the curtain-screen.

Lights are high on the curtain so the incline is unlit and invisible.

(While BASHO makes this slow walk across the curtain area, bowed with weariness and sick of himself, a VOICE from behind the curtain (or off-stage) calls out in a singing song, the names of the towns and the sights he is passing.)

VOICE

Yo-she-zah-key

The pine at She-go-she

Mahts-oh-kah

and the Ten-rue-you-gee

Kahn-nah-zah-wah

Foo-koo-ee

Tsir-rue-gah

Mount She-ran-ne

MOUNT Heen-nah

The bridge of As-sah-moo-zoo

The famous reeds at Tah-mah-ee

Ooo-goo-ee-sue

And the pass at You-noh

The castle of Hi-oo-chee

My-oh-gin OF Key-ee

Ten-yah ON Soom-mo Beach

The Colored Beach...

BASHO

It was there I stopped to pick up the tiny pink shells.  I couldn't stop myself from thinking -- and writing:

between the waves
small shells (emphasized)  mingle with
bits of bush clover

VOICE

Rots-sue

AT Meen-noh

Horseback Into The City Of Oh-gah-key

SORA

(entering from wings left.)

Basho!

Lights flare full up so the whole stage is strongly lighted.

BASHO

Sora, Old Buddy!

(They greet each other warmly.)

(Everyone who has anything to do with the production, stage hands, costumers, absolutely every one, dressed just as they are for their jobs, all come on stage pulling a table of food and drinks and for about five minutes there is a party.)

Screen As the party starts the two persons who have handled this, take the screen around the back edge of the stage over to the down stage right where they again lay it down so the top of the upper left corner of it points to the center stage and the bottom is already partly off-stage. The curtain should be looped over the top railing (now parallel to the floor, so this corner forms the prow of a small boat. When they are done, they join the party.

SORA and BASH O

(quietly gather up their things and just as they get to the down stage right edge of the party, someone notices them leaving and "speaks" to them unheard.)

BASHO

Yes, I am still tired even though it is the sixth day of the Ninth moon. But we want to see the dedication of the new shrine at Ise. Sora tells me, it is very fine. And it only happens every 21 years. Then we shall see "The Wedded Rocks"!

BASHO & SORA

(step toward the laid-on-the-floor curtain boat. The party-goers have now gathered into a knot before them. As SORA and BASHO step into the boat, SORA goes first and kneels to steady the boat and hold on to the dock as BASHO steps in holding SORA's hand as railing, the crowd quiets as he turns to read his last poem. It is up to the actors if they want to continue holding hands as BASHO reads)

BASHO

a clam
torn from its shell
departing autumn

(He gestures broadly to not only the party people, but to the audience as well.)

CURTAIN

The End


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