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The Sukham-Duhkam Castle

In 1977 I was meditating in the apparatus bay of the fire station where I worked, when I was visited by a vision of the following multidimensional psychodrama, about the three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas, and their relation to the individual. Sukham is pleasure and duhkam is the opposite; when we are trapped in dualities like these we automatically come under the sway of the gunas.
I had a strong feeling at the time that the image was being presented to me by Nataraja Guru, who had died four years earlier, and who had had a number of unfulfilled theatrical ideas floating through his mind late in life. Perhaps he'd like to take credit, perhaps not....









THE SUKHAM-DUHKAM CASTLE



Cast:

RJ - a young person, employed by Mr. K

Mr. K - managing director of the Crescent Moon Herb Co.

Sue Gooder - her innocence is somewhat feigned; a

transparent personality, blonde

Roger - an anxious ex-athlete, redheaded

Thomas - the timorous henchman of Sue and Roger;

a very swarthy fellow



THE ACT



The outside curtain, a thick gold-embroidered tapestry, opens, revealing a second, brightly colored one. An expectant pause. The second curtain pulls away to the sides. Behind it is a blackish veil, which is being moved from behind in several disconcerting directions. It appears to pulse with trapped, rounded motions. The movements die down gradually, and cautiously the black curtain draws up to unveil the stage.

We are in the interior of the castle. The center-stage area is somewhat bright, where RJ sits tied to a chair closely guarded by Thomas. Roger is pacing around as if waiting for something to happen. Sue sits near a window to the rear, stage right. She is calmly looking out into the darkness, occasionally rearranging herself in the reflection of the glass.

The castle, while somewhat light and comfortable in the center, becomes increasingly dark towards the periphery. Cobwebs abound. Some dark and vaguely sinister shapes loom in the recesses.

No light or sound penetrates from outside. There is a feeling of being cut off, of a nervous detachment.





RJ: What do you want of me?

(Silence. The three captors continue as before. RJ struggles with his bonds.)

RJ: What do you want of me!

(Thomas gets a bit edgy, moves away from his guardpost a couple of steps.)

RJ: You want to tell me what this is all about? (Struggles.) Nice knots you guys tie!

(In his struggle he slides the chair a short ways, causing a screeching sound. Thomas lets out a loud, worried moan.)

Roger: (Rushes over, slaps RJ.) Shaddup, will ya! And you too, Thomas. I've got enough to do without worrying whether you'll stick by your part in all this. Just keep him where he is.

Thomas: Hey, I'm doing the best I can, man. What do you expect? Just leave me alone.

Roger: Eh!

(He begins pacing around some more. He goes over to a table, slightly to the rear, and writes furiously. Meanwhile, RJ continues to wrestle with the chair. He tips it over. Thomas immediately jumps him, holding the chair down over him.)

Roger: Hey now! (Roger crumples up the paper he was writing on and throws it over his shoulder, rushing to the pile.) Here now! How am I gonna keep you out of trouble? Get up, come on, get up!

Sue - Still looking out the window. Do I hear something?(Struggling noises.) I wonder if something's amiss? (A bang. She looks around spacily.) Ohhhh! Isn't that sweet! (Airily she gets up and approaches the others.) Now is this a mess, or is this a mess?

Roger - A lotta help you've been!

Sue - La de da de da, sweetcakes.

Roger - (Glaring.) In case you haven't noticed, this is the abduction scene! We're in this up to our necks! (Sue bends a bit, scrutinizing his throat. Roger takes no notice.) We've got a lot to accomplish if we want to pull this off. So far I've done all the planning. Why don't you get in gear and show us you're part of this operation?

Thomas - (Disentangling himself, querulously:) Hey man, I've done what I could. You just don't realize how much I helped. I stood guard just like--

Roger - I wasn't even talking to you, stupid! Don't you ever get anything right?

Thomas - But I--

Sue - Raager! Why don't you leave the little punk alone? Can't you see he's uptight? (To Thomas:) Take it easy now. It'll be all over before long. Just settle down now, mmmm...;that's it.

The scene returns to the original state. Sue is back in her seat, looking out the blank window. Thomas and RJ are in the center, RJ still tied to his chair. Roger struggles with the note he's writing.

Roger - If I can make this sound convincing, we'll all be rich. (Silence.) Hey, how do you spell 'decapitated'? (RJ jumps violently, dragging the chair behind him around center stage. Thomas restrains him, pushing him back towards his spot.)

Thomas - I bet you don't even know why you're here, do you?

RJ - Hmmm. Now that you mention it, no. (He carefully returns his chair to its exact previous spot and sits.)

Sue - (Not looking up:) B-e-h-e-a-d-e-d. (RJ screams and struggles violently. He knocks Thomas over, so that Roger must run up and hold him.)

Roger - Easy there, big fella! I'll make a deal with you if you'll just cool out. (The chair stops thrusting about.)

RJ - What kind of a deal?

Roger - How would you like it if we untied you? Will you stay mellow if we do it?

RJ - (Muffled:) Sure thing, buddy.

Thomas - (As Roger unties RJ:) You can't let him go! You'll blow our whole plan. And after I risked my neck!

Roger - (In a feigned tough-guy voice:) Well Ah wouldn't worry about it too much there, greaser-buddy. The way I see it, ol' RJ ain't neva gonna leave this hyere castle anyway. Even if he DO find the door, he'll be right back, what with the dragons and the alligator moat an' all.

RJ, freed from the chair at last, bursts toward stage left. As he reaches the dark recesses of the stage he looks up, screams, and comes charging back. Leaping onto the chair, he pulls the rope back around himself as if trying to hide behind it, occasionally glancing furtively over at the dark corners.

Roger - (Laughing, still in his 'tough' voice:) Ya see, good buddy, they're all like that! (He grabs the rope and recklessly tosses it away.) Nope, we sure don't need this no more. Hey, transparent lady! (Sue looksarounddreamily.) Yeah you. Ain't you gonna help me with this note?

Sue - Looks like you boys are pretty well taking care of things already. I've got no axe to grind, Sweetie. We'll get our ransom sooner or later....

Roger - Not if we don't even mail off the note, we won't. In this world, lazy buns, you gotta put out to get yours! And when I get mine, you sure won't get your greedy little fingers on any part of it!

Sue - Eh. (Shrugs.) I don't worry. What's meant to happen will happen. And I know you have a way with words.

Thomas - Oh, I knew this would happen! Bunglers! Why can't we get this over with? I know we're going to get caught, I just know it! Bursts into tears. You're the ones who got me into this mess, now you get me out! (Looks around. Sue stares noncommittally out the window. RJ edges away from him. Roger fumes with his note. Fresh tears.) Oh, it's hopeless! It's just so hopeless! If only I was any good at it, I'd scream!

Sue - (Coming forward.) There, there. Relax. Have faith in us. Roger will make sure that it all comes out all right.

Thomas - That's easy for you to say. And what do you ever do? Always sitting and staring, rearranging yourself whenever the mood moves you. I wish I had it so easy! But no, a guy like me has to pay dues for every inch. It's a fight all the way. I'd do anything to have it as good as you've got.

RJ - Musing. There oughtta be a law....

Roger - Listen, you guys. This is our big chance to make a killing. RJ groans. Weve got be sure that Futzbungler here (indicating RJ) doesn't escape. (Poking Thomas:) That's mainly your job! Ms. Gooda here is supposed to keep us all together and harmonized. As for me, I'm the brains around here, which means I'm really up against it with you two turkeys. Hey, it's a great system! So if you'll just do your jobs, I'm sure we'll succeed.

Roger starts pushing Thomas around. Thomas quarrels loudly and defensively. Sue attempts to keep peace, but gradually gets drawn into the argument. RJ slowly backs toward the fringe as the three tussle ever more ferociously. He watches their different personalities clash and spin, and a light begins to dawn in his face. At this point Mr. K strides in, magnificently dressed and brandishing a flute, and approaches RJ. The three captors quiet down and look at him, although there's still some jostling and bickering.

Mr. K - Where in the world have you been?!

RJ - I...I....

Mr. K - (Pointing offstage.) Time to get in gear, RJ. We've needed you! And here you sit, frittering away the morning. Come on, let's go outside!

They exit. The captors watch them go off, then confer amongst themselves. They turn, and with looks of great attachment begin approaching the audience as



THE CURTAINS FALL, ONE BY ONE

Scott Teitsworth

rsteitsworth(at)yahoo.com