www.TessCollins.com
Home Bio Books Plays Links Press & Photos Contact Newsletter Pandora's Box  

BARBARIANS

A play about the evolution of the species and a murder mystery set on the moon

by Tess Collins

SETTING

Moon Base Ptolomy 5. The Year 2525.

CHARACTERS

General Monroe - a professional solider, veteran of the urban wars. She is in charge of Ptolomy 5, a job she regards as an escape from earth and her haunted past.
Agent Hoover - No-nonsense investigator from an Earth's Criminal Investigation Division.
Maintenance Chief Oates - Career army man. Nervous but dependable, loyal, a true patriot.
Nurse Jenna Baker - blond, leggy, beautiful and much smarter than anyone realizes.
Colonel Underwood - weasily underling, ambitious and eager to replace Monroe.

Voices: (can be digitized or taped)

Ptolomy 4 Voice
Phone Computer Voice
Tranquility Bay Voice
Ptolomy 5 Computer Voice

RUNNING TIME

Ninety minutes

RECOMMENDED READING FOR DIRECTOR AND ACTORS

The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom (New York:The Atlantic Monthly Press 1995).

Other books of interest used by the author for research:

Vital Dust by Christian de Duve (New York: BasicBooks 1995).
The Global Brain by Howard Bloom (New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2000).
What Remains To Be Discovered by John Maddox (New York: Simon & Schuster 1998).

ABOUT BARBARIANS

One day my friend Tashery Shannon and I were in the Borders Book Store on Union Square in San Francisco. She was visiting from Kentucky and as we often did when together, we got lost in a bookstore. When we found each other again, she told me she wanted to buy me a book. I didn't have any particular book in mind so I turned in a circle and pointed at a bookshelf. I was pointing at The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom. I probably didn't get around to reading it for about another year but when I did... as I did... all kind of fictional ideas where bouncing in my head. Barbarians is inspired by Mr. Bloom's most excellent book. Anyone who reads the entire play should consider that one day our sun will explode is a supernova. All humanity will be gone, Elvis, Patsy Cline, Hamlet, War and Peace, everything gone... unless, of course, we have moved beyond our own small planet and out into the stars.

SAMPLE: ACT I, SCENE I

THE STAGE

Fade up on a futuristic physician's laboratory, computer equipment, cabinets, a fold-down bed, junky enough that props and people can be hidden. On one wall is a vent large enough for a person to crawl through. Underneath, a mysterious message is scrawled on the wall "ONLY BARBARIANS SURVIVE." The furnishings are stainless steel or a bland gray except for a small tinsel Christmas tree with a half-full bottle of Scotch underneath. Out of place is a oversized combination padlock on a closet door.

Clocks are on the wall noting the time in different cities. One for Greenwich. One for the Naval Observatory Master Clock. A large window bows out upstage showing a barren moonscape. In the background is planet Earth. A person in a space suit connected to a tie line slowly floats in and out of the window frame.

Exits on each side of the laboratory lead to hallways-one in partial view of the audience and having a computer/communications panel in the wall with a weapons locker underneath. On each door is an emblem of Moon Base Ptolomy 5.

AT RISE

A woman and man stand on each side of the window, staring at the floating space suit.

GENERAL MONROE strokes her chin with an attitude of fierce concentration. She is in a military uniform, three stars on her collar, all business and very much in charge.

MAINTENANCE CHIEF OATES wipes sweat from his neck. He nervously fiddles with a tool belt which holds futuristic tools.

As lights come up, both are busy at various computers. The tone is serious as if life depended on their actions.

GENERAL MONROE

All monitors on station-wide.

CHIEF OATES

Countdown sixty seconds to target.

Out the window an orbiting space station comes into view. The spacesuit momentarily float out of sight.

GENERAL MONROE

It's all up to you now, Chief Oates.

CHIEF OATES

Trying to make me nervous, General.

(into a computer microphone)

Ptolomy 4, this is Ptolomy 5 reporting ready.

PTOLOMY 4 VOICE

Ptolomy 4, reporting ready.

CHIEF OATES

There will be no further communications.

GENERAL MONROE

(into a different microphone)

This is General Monroe to all Ptolomy 5 departments. We are thirty seconds from showdown. Monitors will show Mir 16 coming into view. Wish us luck.

(to Oates)

Easy, Chief.

(Chief Oates concentrates on the window, one hand manipulating a lever.)

CHIEF OATES

Coming into range.

GENERAL MONROE

(crosses her fingers)

Careful. Careful. Aim at the Russian side, it'll crumble like the beach at high tide.

CHIEF OATES

Ready. Aim. Fire!

Part of the space station explodes.

PTOLOMY 4 VOICE

Shit. Missed.

OATES AND MONROE

Yes! Got it!

(They jump up and down, slapping hands, bumping butts, clearly happy.)

PTOLOMY 4 VOICE

(frustrated, sarcastic)

Congratulations Ptolomy 5. By the way, that visitor you were expecting next week. Should be there in about ten minutes.

CHIEF OATES

(bragging)

Don't feel too bad, fellas. It's only a few days before Mir 16 comes round again. Maybe you'll clean your view-finders by then.

PTOLOMY 4 VOICE

Assholes.

GENERAL MONROE

(on station microphone)

Once again Ptolomy 5 is declared the winner of the weekly space-shoot. Those of you who won bets can pick up your winnings at the canteen.

(They watch as the spacesuit floats by the window. They look at each other, then look away, put a few things in place.)

CHIEF OATES

Did you hear what they said?

GENERAL MONROE

Hmmm?

CHIEF OATES

C.I.D.'s on its way.

GENERAL MONROE

(worried)

I heard.

The spacesuit comes into view again and floats by. It drifts in and out, sometimes spinning in humorous positions.

CHIEF OATES

Doc Thomas always was a cut up.

GENERAL MONROE

Yep.

CHIEF OATES

Look at the way he twirls.

GENERAL MONROE

Yep.

CHIEF OATES

I'd never've guessed a spacesuit could jackknife.

GENERAL MONROE

Much less play chicken with a launching shuttle.

CHIEF OATES

It's a jungle out there.

(General Monroe checks her watch, then inspects the padlock.)

GENERAL MONROE

What do you think is in here?

CHIEF OATES

He was a comic book freak.

GENERAL MONROE

Paper or virtual?

CHIEF OATES

No reason to lock up virtual books. Now the paper ones, those'll buy a vacation house in the Branson.

(General Monroe checks her watch)

GENERAL MONROE

C.I.D'll be here in five minutes.

(Chief Oates stares at the mysterious message on the wall: "ONLY BARBARIANS SURVIVE".)

CHIEF OATES

What do you think he meant by this?

GENERAL MONROE

Rather obvious.

CHIEF OATES

They'll blame me.

GENERAL MONROE

Stick to our story.

CHIEF OATES

It had to be equipment failure. I'm in such deep doo-doo.

GENERAL MONROE

Stop whining.

(They nervously move around the room, checking computer equipment, noting their findings on palm recorders, both clearly distracted.)

GENERAL MONROE

(She checks a monitor)

He's on his way.

CHIEF OATES

Oh Mary, Jesus! I killed Dr. Thomas. Something I did, didn't do.

GENERAL MONROE

The equipment checked out. This wasn't your fault.

CHIEF OATES

I'm going spend the rest of my life as a maid to a convict named Tiny with biceps the size of--

GENERAL MONROE

Dr. Thomas was a depressed old man. He killed himself. Let's stick to that.

CHIEF OATES

I knew I should've gone to mortician's school.

GENERAL MONROE

Chief Oates! You are a Master Chief. Act like one.

CHIEF OATES

General, Doc is floating out there like a hooked mackerel and it's my job to make sure things like that don't happen. That's an agent from C.I.D., Criminal Investigations Division, on his way here, to see me, and Dr. Thomas... he's dead.

A door opens and SPECIAL AGENT HOOVER enters.

(He looks at the two of them, locates a trash receptacle, bends over it and throws up.)

CHIEF OATES

That is not my fault.

(Hoover rises, holding his stomach, swallowing precariously. One shoulder shrugs.)

AGENT HOOVER

Sorry.

GENERAL MONROE

I'd get the doctor but--

AGENT HOOVER

Special Agent Hoover.

(to Oates)

General Monroe?

CHIEF OATES

No, that's her.

(babbling)

I'm Maintenance Chief Oates. I got together all the weekly repair logs for you and can show you the docking bay when you're ready. Do you want to do that now? No. You probably want to see Engineering first. I knew that. I'm ready. I can take you to--

(Hoover puts a hand on his stomach as if he might vomit again.)

AGENT HOOVER

I never get used to that landing whoosh.

CHIEF OATES

You'd think they'd fix that. It's do-able, just put an extra O-ring on the--

AGENT HOOVER

General Monroe.

GENERAL MONROE

Agent.

AGENT HOOVER

Why is he still there?

(She isn't sure what he means until Agent Hoover points to the spacesuit.)

GENERAL MONROE

Earth Operations informed us you wouldn't be here until next week. I learned of your impending arrival only a few minutes ago. (Pause) Ptolomy 5 is the smallest Moon Base, minimum military presence, limited medical facilities.

AGENT HOOVER

So, you've left him hanging out there for two weeks?

GENERAL MONROE

We... I thought it best that the scene be kept intact, and to bring him inside would disturb the workers.

AGENT HOOVER

Every human being should be treated with respect, don't you agree?

GENERAL MONROE

I didn't leave him there as an affront to his human dignity, I just didn't want to...

AGENT HOOVER

Disrupt the station's routine?

GENERAL MONROE

No.

AGENT HOOVER

Didn't leave him there--

CHIEF OATES

To rot. (A beat) If we'd brought him inside, all of us on this level would smell the decay, Sir. Our facilities are meant for--

GENERAL MONROE

Dr. Thomas is Science Elite. Three decades ago he spear-headed the Genesis Project. I couldn't send him back to earth without their documentation, which is stuck in personnel or Immigration... I'm not sure which. So until that was straightened out, the best way to preserve him was leave him in space.

AGENT HOOVER

(aside)

I am in the sticks.

(Hoover makes himself at home at the doctor's desk. His shoulder twitches.)

AGENT HOOVER

I want to interview everyone with access codes to this level and any patients he saw in the last week.

GENERAL MONROE

Agent Hoover, Dr. Thomas was terminally ill.

AGENT HOOVER

Odd that an M.D. with a Ph.D. in comparative planetology should spend his later years as a Moon Base physician.

GENERAL MONROE

This job was a sort of retirement for him. He believed artificial gravity along with sterile air would help his pain. It is my opinion that he recognized the time had come, and ended his life.

CHIEF OATES

(jovial)

Everybody on this base is as healthy as Bill Gates VIII's stock portfolio.

AGENT HOOVER

I'll keep that in mind as I investigate the doctor's murder.

GENERAL MONROE

Murder?

CHIEF OATES

Murder!

(Oates sits down.)

Oh, Mary, Jesus.

GENERAL MONROE

Nothing supports that conclusion.

AGENT HOOVER

(to Oates)

Have maintenance logs sent to this console. In the meantime, I'll look over this little Frankenstein lab that appears to have been set up in the most secure area of the base.

GENERAL MONROE

This is a science oriented Moon Base. We're supposed to look technical. And be secure.

AGENT HOOVER

Are you making fun of me?

GENERAL MONROE

Anything you don't understand, just ask and I'll explain.

AGENT HOOVER

But can I believe you?

(looks at Dr. Thomas)

GENERAL MONROE

Let me save you some time. This was an accident.

AGENT HOOVER

I thought it was suicide.

GENERAL MONROE

Or it was suicide. I hand picked this crew. No one had reason to kill the doctor.

AGENT HOOVER

I'll start my interviews with his nurse.

(Looks at a palm-recorder. His shoulder shrugs.)

AGENT HOOVER

Have Jenna Baker report at 0900 hours.

GENERAL MONROE

Have you heard a word I've said?

AGENT HOOVER

Every syllable, every vowel, every consonant.

(The two stand opposite each other, like gunfighters.)

GENERAL MONROE

I will report of your unprofessional, arrogant attitude to Earth Operations.

AGENT HOOVER

Is Nurse Baker as incompetent as her evaluation from Moon Base 12 seems to indicate?

(Chief Oates nods his head and makes a curvaceous figure with his hands.)

AGENT HOOVER

Oh, then I'll do her first.

GENERAL MONROE

I'll report that too.

(General Monroe exits as...)

LIGHTS DOWN.

Other Plays by Tess Collins:

All content © 2003-17 by Tess Collins

------------------------------------------ [book cover]