HIGHLIGHTS OF LOVE, CONTROL-X

This was my entry for Mini Operas, the English National Opera mini-opera script competition.

The brief - see Script Competition - was to write a short opera libretto based on one of three 'seed stories' by Will Self (The Death of a Government Inspector), A.L. Kennedy (On Paper) and Neil Gaiman (The Sweeper of Dreams). The organisers asked that we put submissions up in blog format, so that the links are available from a wall on their site. See the Script Finalists and All Script Entries.

Mini Operas now continues with The Soundtrack Competition, which invites compositions of soundtracks for any of the finalists' scripts. The closing date is July 23rd. The final stage, running from 6th August to 24th September, will be The Film Competition, to visualise one of the ten winning soundtracks.




HIGHLIGHTS OF LOVE, CONTROL-X

The author is sitting at her desk, which is very tidy, everything just so, and a small vase of flowers at one side.

AUTHOR
I thought I’d be a writer.
That it was easy, anyone could do it.
Nothing to it.
Begin at the beginning and work your way through it.

WORD CHORUS (Rhythmically)
The chorus counterpoints the words of the author, not the characters. The words are passed between them like a conversation.

Murderous, mysterious. Romantic, rustic. Medical, radical. Spooky, kooky. Enquiring, desiring. Disgusting, trusting. Research, detect, select.

AUTHOR:
I’ve found the very hardest part
Is knowing where and how to start,
I’ve set about the thing a thousand times.
I find I still can’t get it right.
I’ve even laboured through the night
In one or two or half a dozen minds.
(Stops)
It’s all been done before.
And it’s a bore.
Let me see ... Once upon a time ... (Pause, erases)
It was a dark and stormy night ... (Pause, erases)
It was the best of times ... (Pause, erases)
It was Christmas Day in the bloody workhouse ...
DAMN IT!
I chase the words like peas around a plate,
I clear my mind, I settle back and wait –
And there is nothing ...
Perhaps a little meditation
Will help the process of gestation,
And produce a great creation.
Think of nothing ....
(She adopts meditative attitude)

HE
Listen, we’re here

SHE
Listen, I’m here

HE
Perfect on paper

SHE
Unblemished as paper

HE
I’m He

SHE
I’m She.

TOGETHER
What do you want us to be?

SHE
Waiting to meet

HE
On a plane

SHE:
In the street

HE:
In a bar

SHE:
A bazaar

HE:
Here, there,

SHE:
Anywhere.

HE:
We’ve been stuck here for ages
Adrift on your pages
Have a heart
Make a start -

SHE:
Who am I?
Who is he?
Give us life
Let us Be.

AUTHOR:
What shall I call you?

WORD CHORUS (Rhythmically)
Matthew – Madeline. Bruno – Bronwen. Daniel – Mirabelle. Ottoline – Peregrine. Pollyanna – Mungo. Tarquin – Tabitha. Jasmine – Joshua (increasing pace) Laurence - Florence, Billy, Lily, Millie, Willie ...

AUTHOR:
Stop, stop, it’s getting silly!
Let’s go for -
Petronella? And Keith?

SHE:
Petronella?

HE:
Good grief!
Perhaps he lives in a castle by the sea
Darkly dreaming at the window
Of an unattainable She.

SHE:
Perhaps she sees the child inside the man
Perhaps she saves him,
She’s the only one who can.

AUTHOR:
Where shall it be ....
A foreign land by the sea ...

WORD CHORUS (Rhythmically)
Umbria – Cumbria. Vegas – Galapagos. Lucerne – Crewkerne. Abu Simnel – Mumbai. Alicante – Phuket ...

AUTHOR:
Phuket.
HE:
Hello from Ipswich.

SHE:
Love from Berlin.

HE:
Greetings from Basingstoke.

SHE:
Hi, from Beijing.

AUTHOR:
Basingstoke? Oh Lord,
I said abroad.
(Heavy sigh)
There’s the dog to be walked,
Friends to have round,
The cooking, the cleaning,
The mending unending,
Shoes to be found
And the making of tea.
Concentrate, let me see ...

HE:
I’ll ring you, we could speak

SHE:
I could manage Tuesday.

HE:
I can’t do Tuesday.
Shall we say Thursday week ?

TOGETHER:
I can feel you across the void
I know we would love each other

SHE:
It would be bliss

HE:
From our first kiss.

TOGETHER:
But each time, we miss.
I miss you.

AUTHOR:
Words ...

WORD CHORUS (Heavily rhythmic)
COUPLE, KNEECAP, BYLAW, BLUE -
TEACAKE, PLASTIC, DISTANCE, GLUE –
PERFECT, KENDO, ANSWER, PLOT -
COMPASS, FEVER, PARAPHRASE, BLOT ... !

AUTHOR:
GOD DAMN AND BLAST IT!
Maybe I’m just past it.
(Closes computer)

HE:
But what about us?

SHE:
For ever apart

Breaking my heart

AUTHOR: (To him)
Maybe it’s better
That you forget her.
(To her)
You’ll never upset him
If you’ve never met him.
Romance untested,
Stays purer and sweeter

TOGETHER:
AUTHOR:
If you never meet.
HE:
We’ll never meet ...
SHE:
We’ll never meet ...

HE: (Fading)
Goodbye

SHE: (Fading)
Good bye

TOGETHER:
Maybe some day ....

AUTHOR:
I didn’t want to write it anyway.

Switches off, exits.