My Visit to America


Title: My Visit to America

Status: Work being sent to theatres for production; open to further editing

Genre: Drama with comedic elements

Running time: 95 minutes
, preferably plus one intermission

Cast size: 5

Tag line: Three weeks, 4500 miles, one ocean, an infinite gulf

Alternate tag line: The price of failure, the cost of discovery

Alternate tag line: Two cats, one mouse

Blurb: In a world of today that is not our world, Eurasia is run by the Mongolian Empire and America is run by indigenous Americans. Jochi, a London bureaucrat, tries to cheat and bully a way into a trade deal between London and Miami. Instead, Jochi encounters an interrogation in America; a test of friendship back home; and the discovery of where Jochi fits in the scheme of race, class, and world politics.

Note 1: Unauthorized public reading or performance is prohibited.

Note 2: Because acts I and II are so different from one another, I am including the first ten pages of each act.

Note 3: This play has multiple versions depending on casting and on whether Elizabethan or modern* verb conjugation is used for thou. (*Actually, not so modern. The Oxford English Dictionary has scattered “st”-free “thou” conjugation citations dating back to circa 1500 and it happens among a small percentage of the “thou”s in Shakespeare.)

MY VISIT TO AMERICA
a play in two acts by
Chas Belov

Copyright © Charles Belov. All rights reserved.

Some lines vary depending on casting and verb conjugation choices. This copy of the script:

  • Has a fictional Native American nation of Capumani.
  • Has a HOPINU-OTOCHU who is indigenous American.
  • Has a female HOPINU-OTOCHU.
  • Has a female JOCHI, BATU, and ORDA.
  • Has a biracial BATU.
  • Has an ORDA who is not mobility impaired.
  • Has a female character JANE who is not East or Southeast Asian.
  • Has verb conjugation for “thou” which is not Elizabethan.

If a theatre would prefer a different version of the script, please contact the playwright.

#3327

CHARACTERS

ACT I – MIAMI

HOPINU-OTOCHU: Visibly indigenous American woman; preferably the youngest character, at least 25. If a visibly indigenous American actor is not available, this part could be played by a monoracial actor of another race other than Caucasian, as is reflected in a different version of the script, and Hopinu-otochu would be that race and an accepted member of the American nation of Capumani. Pronounced hoh-PEE-noo-oh-TOH-choo. Government official for the nation of Capumani.

JOCHI: Visibly biracial adult woman, at least 29. Despite being referred to by Hopinu-otochu as “the Eurasian”, there is no requirement that Jochi be half-Caucasian and/or half-Asian as “Eurasian” is a geographic, not racial, reference. Pronounced JOE-chee. Mongolian Empire bureaucrat staying at London.

COMPUTER: Recorded female voice or female voice from a speaker. This voice should sound almost natural, better than HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey or the iPhone’s Siri, but still not quite human, at least until the day Siri sounds human. No real-time actor needed.

ACT II – LONDON

JOCHI: Same character as in ACT I.

ORDA: Visibly biracial adult woman, preferably within several years of JOCHI in age. Pronounced OR-duh. Wealthy businesswoman and trader along the Silk Road.

BATU: Visibly biracial adult woman, preferably within several years of JOCHI in age. Pronounced BAH-tu. Director of the Globe Theatre in London. If a visibly biracial actor is not available, this part could be played by a monoracial actor of any race other than Caucasian, as reflected in a different version of the script, and Batu would be that race and must be a different race from JANE.

JANE: Adult woman, visibly one race; appears to share that race with at least one of the biracial characters Jochi, Orda, and/or a biracial Batu; preferably the oldest character. Waiter at a pub in London.

UNSEEN/UNHEARD CHARACTERS appear in stage directions – No actors required. Text messages are not seen by the audience, and the other ends of phone calls are not heard. These are provided in the script for actors’ timing and reactions only.
ASSISTANT (on phone and outside office at doorway; if seen, is Caucasian woman)
INNKEEPER (woman, on phone)
COMMERCE SECRETARY (woman, on phone)
Unidentified woman at the other end of Orda’s text messages
SETTING AND TIME

ACT I – A government office in Miami, nation of Capumani, America; six weeks ago.

ACT II – A private room in The King and Joker pub in London, England, Mongolian Empire, Eurasia; tonight.

The present, although not our present. A present in which the Mongolians completed their conquest of Eurasia in the 14th century and as a result the Europeans never conquered America; America is run by indigenous Americans. A present in which men do not play a part in everyday life or perhaps don’t even exist, if indeed they ever did.

MY VISIT TO AMERICA
ACT I – MIAMI

(Six weeks ago. The Capumani government office of HOPINU-OTOCHU, an indigenous woman. The office has several gold and silver objects, including a bracelet.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
I am in a forest. I am surrounded by others. They are singing a song. I don’t understand the words, but I hear that it is a happy song, one of teamwork and harmony and friendship. They dance around me. They make a space for me in their circle and I take their hands. We continue the dance. I become dizzy. I lie down, and they continue their dance without me. The forest becomes darker and darker, and yet they continue their dance. I try to stumble off to my home, to my bed, and yet they surround me and continue their dance. I fall, and they step on me. I cry out in pain, but they take no notice. They dance across my hands, my arms. I try to rise but they dance across my legs, across my back. The pain is excruciating. My body is covered in sores and my blood blends in with the earth. And yet they continue to dance. It is so dark that I cannot distinguish between the blackness of the sky and the blackness in my head. And I can see them. No longer just a few, they are multiplying, huge crowds dancing around me and trampling upon me. Not just upon me but upon my sisters, my colleagues, our families, trampled into the ground, the dirt, our blood spilling, our bodies covered in sores. All becomes black and I know that we are finished. I wake up in a cold sweat. But the dream is not over. A chill comes upon me. I can hear them outside my home. I sit up and look around. And they are still dancing. Still happy. Still dancing.
(Speaking naturally)
Computer, stop recording and save the file.

COMPUTER
(Natural, yet not quite human; insert [day] [month] [year] from six weeks ago)
I’m stopping the recording. I’ll save it under the name “Dream of the night of __________________”, unless you should prefer another file name.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Computer, save the file as “Nightmare of 1492 if the visitors from across the ocean had stayed”.

COMPUTER
In 1492, the visitors from across the ocean did not stay. They returned once in 1499, then not again until 1950.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Alas, it’s still a computer.)
Computer…save the…save the file as Quote Nightmare of 1492 if the visitors from across the ocean had stayed End quote.

COMPUTER
Saving.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Computer, start a new recording, and no interruptions.

COMPUTER
Recording.

(HOPINU-OTOCHU takes out her mobile phone.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(To mobile phone, in a natural voice)
Phone, call Reception.

(HOPINU-OTOCHU hears computerized voice, “Calling Reception” and a ring. The other end of the phone call is not heard by the audience.)

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Reception.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(To mobile phone)
Please admit the visitor.

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Shall do. Good bye.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Good bye.

(HOPINU-OTOCHU ends the call, puts on a pair of headphones and connects them to the computer. JOCHI, a biracial bureaucrat from London, likely somewhat older than Hopinu-otochu, enters through what was a closed door without knocking. HOPINU-OTOCHU does not acknowledge JOCHI. JOCHI audibly signals her presence. HOPINU-OTOCHU intentionally ignores JOCHI, getting a recording level in her headphones.)

JOCHI
(Knows she is being rude)
Thou called me into thy office. The least thou can do is greet me.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Correcting)
“The office-holder” called me into “her” office. The least “she” can do is greet me.

JOCHI
I was led to believe I should be meeting with an American.

(HOPINU-OTOCHU removes the headphones, neither rising nor extending a hand.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Actor may alter the race sequence)
Red, black, yellow, white. Aren’t they all alike to the visitor? I was born here in Miami. If that is not sufficient for the visitor, then the visitor is welcome to return to London.
Enter. Welcome to Miami. How was quarantine?

JOCHI
Same as always.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
The visitor does not appreciate the new computer we provided her?

JOCHI
How should I use a computer without a keyboard!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Should the visitor find a keyboard more efficient?

JOCHI
I should find it more efficient if we could meet immediately upon my arrival in America.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
It is not on the table for discussion.

JOCHI
(Again, knows she is being rude)
Thou could add it.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
If the visitor thees or thous me even a single additional time, I shall drag her from this office, haul her struggling body into the forest, and thrash her until she lies bleeding and broken.

JOCHI
How dare th-how dare you!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
I cannot imagine the visitor’s training or breeding.

JOCHI
My breeding!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
At minimum, the visitor should introduce herself.

JOCHI
Jochi, Trade Minister, Mongolian Empire, London office.

(HOPINU-OTOCHU rises and extends the right hand.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Hopinu-otochu, Liaison, nation of Capumani at Miami. Is the Trade Minister trying to protect Capumani from her germs? That is what quarantine was for.

(JOCHI extends her right hand; they shake hands. The first chance JOCHI gets that she thinks she can’t be seen, she will wipe her right hand on her pants; she will be seen.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
So the Mongolian Empire wish to establish a trade agreement with Capumani. Why not the Iroquois Confederation, the Algonquins, the Navahos? There are hundreds of nations on this continent. Why Capumani?

JOCHI
Ulan Bator like Capumani’s technology, its port facilities. Government. Control. Military prowess. Security.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
They’re not afraid we’ll eat them alive? Joking. We haven’t done that for hundreds of years. They’re not afraid we’ll out-trade them?

JOCHI
Connect Miami and London and / we’ll rule…

HOPINU-OTOCHU
We can’t even connect our computers, our phones, our internets!

JOCHI
We can lay repeater buoys across the Atlantic!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
With what? One rickety ship every two months?

JOCHI
There should be ships every week!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Even the devices be placed side by side, they still refuse to communicate with one another!

JOCHI
Doesn’t the Liaison wish this?

(JOCHI pulls out a mobile phone, opens it, presses buttons, shows screen to HOPINU-OTOCHU.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Where did the Trade Minister get that image?

JOCHI
I was taking pictures of the sights of Miami.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
The phone takes photos?

JOCHI
Yes, I hold the phone up and snap! The Liaison’s image is in my phone’s camera.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
I don’t remember any such feature.

JOCHI
American phones don’t have it.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Add HOPINU-OTOCHU’s graduation year, at least four years ago.)
I don’t remember such a feature in England. I graduated from Cambridge. Transcontinental Relations, ________.

JOCHI
(Add JOCHI’s graduation year, at least eight years ago.)
Public Policy, ________.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
What else did the Trade Minister photograph yesterday?

JOCHI
I was kept waiting for an hour!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
I’m sorry. Tell me more.

JOCHI
Our batteries store the sun better than America’s do. No more turning off phones or computers after sunset.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
After sunset is for time with family around the fire.

JOCHI
(Insert year it was 6 weeks ago)
It’s _______! Embrace the future!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Four years ago, the Trade Minister came to Miami for the first time. She met with Hopinali. The Trade Minister insulted Hopinali by consistently addressing Hopinali as “thou”, an unspeakably familiar manner for a stranger, and a practice which she has repeated on each subsequent visit. She insulted our procedures, our food, our way of life.

JOCHI
Not so!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Three years ago, the Trade Minister came to Miami for the second time. She made two attempts to exit quarantine.

JOCHI
Two months in quarantine is ridiculous!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
It is not on the table. Two years ago the Trade Minister made her third trip to Miami. She attempted to arrange a deal with Siku involving private payments / to Siku if…

JOCHI
I demand to see the reports of these accounts.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
We have an oral tradition.

JOCHI
So when we agree to / this.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
If we agree.

JOCHI
There should be nothing but spoken words?

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Pointing to the fourth wall)
These shall be the representation of our agreement.

JOCHI
Beads. Patterns of beads.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Pointing again to the fourth wall)
Wampum. This one, 1883. Trade agreement with the Mayans. That one, 1959. Mongolian Empire. Treaty allowing visitors from Eurasia with two-month quarantine. All of the patterns on this wall reflect one treaty or / another.

JOCHI
It is important to keep detailed reports!

HOPINU-OTOCHU
What does the Trade Minister wish, a recording? If the Trade Minister believes she can establish a need for her nation’s products by demeaning our customs, she is going to find herself coming back for a sixth time and a seventh time and an eighth time. Or not at all. I suggest the Trade Minister, one, leave this room. Two, close the door behind her. Three, consider well what she wishes to accomplish. Four, knock on the door. Five, wait until invited. Six, enter. Seven, greet me properly. And eight, begin again. Her only other option is to, A, leave this office. B, board the ship which should be arriving from London. And C, never return.

JOCHI
If the Liaison pleases, I should like to begin again.

HOPINU-OTOCHU
I so please.

(JOCHI exits, closing the door.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(To mobile phone, in a natural voice)
Phone, call Reception.

(HOPINU-OTOCHU hears computerized voice, “Calling Reception” and a ring. The other end of the phone call is not heard by the audience.)

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Reception.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(To mobile phone)
The Trade Minister—

(HOPINU-OTOCHU covers the computer microphone.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(To mobile phone)
The Trade Minister is not to leave the building without my escort. She has inappropriate photos. Secure her lodgings. Nobody is to enter or leave her room until I arrive. What is she doing right now?

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“She’s pacing. I think she’s frightened.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Frightened? Or angry? This is critical.

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Frightened. She’s cringing. She’s shaking. She’s turning back and forth.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Good. Are you in phone contact with the ship?

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Yes.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Is The Wolf aboard?

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Yes.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Call and debrief her. You have ten minutes.

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Ten minutes?!”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Louder:)
I know not how to / question…

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“Quiet! She looked at the door!”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Softer:)
I know not how to question the Eurasian and she is at my very / door!

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“She’s going to your door. She’s putting her ear-“)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Get her away from there!

ASSISTANT (through phone, unheard)
(“Pardon me. Is there a problem?”)

JOCHI (O.S.)
I thought I heard the Liaison calling me.

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“She’s moved away.”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Listen. My daughters shall not wake to epidemic nor to armada, all because The Wolf is two months late with her report. Ten minutes.

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“What are your priorities?”)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
Is the Eurasian really such a stupid git? Who keeps sending her here? How dangerous are they? Cambridge University connections, photography. Oh, and her actual title; somebody this ham-fisted can’t possibly be Trade Minister. When you have your report ready, knock / on my…

ASSISTANT (on phone, unheard)
(“She’s going to your door.”)

(JOCHI knocks at the door.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
(Calling towards door)
One moment please!
(To mobile phone)
When the report is ready, knock on my door. I’ll tell you to go away. Shortly thereafter, I shall call you for chocolate. Give me the report when you– No, wait. Have staff start preparing the chocolate the instant she returns to my office. Then / bring the…

(JOCHI knocks at the door again.)

HOPINU-OTOCHU
War spirit, help me.
(Calling towards door)
I said, one moment, please!
(To mobile phone)
If that grel calls me a “mono” I promise you there is going to be blood on the floor.

(End of Act I excerpt)


 

ACT II – LONDON

(Tonight. Three biracial women: JOCHI, a bureaucrat; ORDA, a wealthy businesswoman; and BATU, an actor and theatre director – are in a private room in The King and Joker, an upscale London pub, each with a pint glass of ale in front of them. JANE, a monoracial woman, a waiter, is going about doing what waiters do. On a side table or shelves, there are a pitcher full of water and a row of at least half a dozen empty, clean glasses. Being a private room, there is no crowd noise except perhaps occasionally when the door is opened; even then the sound would be barely noticeable. Even the door itself, if visible, is quiet in its opening and closing.)

(JOCHI, BATU, and ORDA begin with a traditional English song, “The Anacreontic Song”, the original tune for the song which is, outside the world of this play, known in the United States as “The Star Spangled Banner”. As they have not yet begun to drink, the performance is reasonably on key and on meter, if not particularly virtuoso, and primarily charged with the spirit of anticipation of an enjoyable evening of fellowship and ale.)

JOCHI, BATU, and ORDA
(Singing first verse)
TO ANACREON IN HEAV’N
WHERE SHE SAT IN FULL GLEE,
A FEW DAUGHTERS OF HARMONY SENT A PETITION;
THAT SHE THEIR INSPIRER
AND PATRON SHOULD BE;
WHEN THIS ANSWER ARRIVED
FROM THE JOLLY OLD GRECIAN;
“VOICE, FIDDLE, AND FLUTE,
NO LONGER BE MUTE,
I’LL LEND YE MY NAME
AND INSPIRE YE TO BOOT,
AND BESIDES I’LL INSTRUCT YE
LIKE ME, TO INTWINE,
THE MYRTLE OF VENUS
WITH BACCHUS’S VINE.”

BATU and ORDA
(Singing second verse)
THE NEWS THROUGH OLYM-
PUS IMMEDIA/TELY FLEW…

JOCHI
Enough of that old song. Let’s drink.

ORDA
Spoil-sport.

(JOCHI, BATU, and ORDA drink.)

JOCHI
I think ye are the only ones who even know there are other verses, let alone sing them. Thank ye for joining me tonight to celebrate my return from America. I wish the ye to know how much I appreciate yer friendship, and wish to share the story of my success with my two favourite ladies.

ORDA
Jochi, thou cannot imagine how refreshing it is to return from long travel on the Silk Road and find myself in the company of dear friends.

JOCHI
Just a moment.

(JOCHI takes out mobile phone and dials two digits.)(Hears ring in phone. The other end of all phone calls go unheard by the audience.)COMMERCE SECRETARY (recorded, on phone, unheard)
(“This is voice messaging for Kochu, daughter of Elizabeth and Chagatai, Commerce Secretary of the Mongolian Empire. Please leave a message upon hearing the chime.”)(JOCHI disconnects.)
(ORDA texts. All texts sent and received are unseen by the audience.)(Sent text: “is horatia there” – code for “Are you there with the Secretary?”)

BATU
She likes us so much she can’t wait to escape.

ORDA
Escape from a grilling is more like it. Latest success in America. Batu, I think our host has brought us here to impress us.

JOCHI
Impress ye? Really. We’ve hardly started to bend our elbows.

ORDA
Jochi, please forgive my teasing.

BATU
This is going to be a sorry evening.

ORDA
Forgiveness is important, Batu. One must ask forgiveness and one must offer it when asked.

JOCHI
What does a rich and powerful merchant such as thee need with forgiveness, Orda?

ORDA
Real power is having the choice whether to use it or not.

BATU
I can think of wrongs I should never consider forgiving.

JOCHI
For example?

BATU
Intentional cruelty toward another.

ORDA
I rather expected thou should say that.

BATU
Do thou have a concern with that?

ORDA
I’m sorry, Batu, I mean no offence. I can buy anything I wish…except friendship. I must be prepared to forgive a friend, even for the greatest failing, should I receive the slightest indication of true friendship.

BATU
Thou are indeed a more generous soul than I, Orda. Did thou have any particular failing in mind?

ORDA
Please forgive my ramblings, Batu. It seems that the longer I live, the harder friendships are to find or maintain. It is enough that I am here with the two of ye.

BATU
And I with ye both as well.
(To JOCHI)
Jochi, I for one am ready to be impressed. Tell us about thy visit to America.

ORDA
Now thou have done it, Batu! She’ll fish out her phone and force upon us an endless phalanx of photos.

BATU
What’s so bad about looking at a few photos? I’d like to see them.

JOCHI
At least one lady here is interested in broadening her horizons.
(Shows photo to BATU)
That’s me with the American official, Hatochu, right after I came out of quarantine. Her assistant took the picture.
(Pushes a button on the phone)
Here I am with several of their staff. The assistant took this as well.

ORDA
What, thou cannot keep hold of thy own phone? They all look alike. Are they related?

BATU
(Actor may alter the race sequence)
Don’t be obtuse, Orda. Look: red, white, black, yellow.

ORDA
Thou do not have to be abusive. I was just asking.

JOCHI
They are not related beyond employer and employee. Whoever I met, they were all alike. All monos.

BATU
Must thou use that word?

JOCHI
I’m sure they call me “grel” behind my back.

BATU
Thou shouldn’t have the luxury of joking about it.

ORDA
Ladies, please, let us not let the ale rush to our heads. So the Americans are all single-raced. I’m certain that took some getting used to.

JOCHI
It did indeed. It was all I could do to avoid remarking on it.

(JOCHI pushes the button again.)

BATU
What’s that?

JOCHI
That’s Hatochu’s office building.

BATU
It looks like a bunch of sticks woven together.

JOCHI
That’s exactly what it was. But inside it is like our offices.

BATU
Do thou have any photos of the inside?

JOCHI
Why should I wish to take photos of offices?

ORDA
Did thou achieve thy objective?

(JANE is done with her tidying up, and unobtrusively awaits instructions.)

JOCHI
I was successful in moving the negotiations along. But whatever we come up with has to be passed on from one nation to another, discussed and discussed again, before any decision can be made. Who knows how long this process could take?

BATU
Are our bureaucracies any different? Getting a permit to reconstruct the Globe took us six years. Even then, they required so many changes that were Willemina to return, I am certain the theatre should be unrecognisable.

JOCHI
That’s different. That’s just career pencil-pushers making sure to dot every T and cross every I. Cross-eye. Their eyes get crossed and they can’t read the forms. American processes are so inefficient! I asked their Liaison to produce an account of a previous meeting and she could not do so. All she could say was, “What does the Trade Minister’s representative wish, a recording”?
(Noticing JANE; to JANE)
Yes?

JANE
Does the patron desire anything else?

JOCHI
Three more pints of thy finest.

JANE
As the patron pleases.

(JANE bows and exits.)

JOCHI
I don’t wish this process to go on any longer than it has to. Ulan Bator are getting impatient.

ORDA
If they’re that interested in trading with America, why don’t they send someone higher up than thee?

JOCHI
I’ll have thee know I’m set for an Ambassadorship. If I can shepherd this through, it’s all but assured.

ORDA
Five years.

JOCHI
It took ten years to set up quarantine. And here we’ve had it for what? Twenty? Thirty years?

ORDA
Since 1959.

JOCHI
Now we know who was the cracker at history. But thou are right, Batu. The way our bureaucracy moves, I assure thee I shall have a deal with the Americans before London open our first tube station. Just a moment.

(JOCHI dials two digits.)(Hears ring in phone.)COMMERCE SECRETARY (recorded, on phone, unheard)
(“This is voice messaging for Kochu, daughter of Elizabeth and Chagatai, Commerce Secretary of the Mongolian Empire–”)(JOCHI disconnects.)
(ORDA checks for a text message.)
(Received text: “together with most weak hams” – code for “I am here with the Secretary.”)

JOCHI
Voice messaging.

BATU
Orda, what should thou do should America open as a market?

ORDA
I can trade the entire length of the Silk Road without fear of bandits or corrupt border agents. Why should I wish to endure several weeks at sea, two months of quarantine, and questionable travel schedules? Thy return ship a fortnight / tardy…

JOCHI
Only this once!

ORDA
A whole fortnight tardy, for Genghis Khan’s sake. When I travel I wish assurance, reliability. There are trades to be made. There are debts to pay.

JOCHI
Thou are living in the past, Orda. America spell new opportunities.

ORDA
New headaches, Jochi. Nothing but trouble.

JOCHI
Do thou think the Silk Road was built in a day? No! The Mongolians had to / work at…

BATU
Excuse me, Jochi, but the Mongolians did not build the Silk Road. For all the work they’ve done, thou hardly need give them credit for things they haven’t.

ORDA
Oh, don’t mind her, Batu. Her intention is to kowtow her way into an invitation to Ulan Bator.

JOCHI
And why shouldn’t I wish an invitation to Ulan Bator? I rather imagine it should be a fascinating place.

ORDA
I’m teasing thee, Jochi. I’m impressed with all the work thou have done improving our relationship with America. I’m sorry that I can’t offer thee any more encouragement than that.

(During the next lines, JANE enters bearing a tray with three pint glasses of ale. JANE serves the glasses and retrieves the empty ones, then waits unobtrusively for further instructions.)

BATU
I’m actually looking forward to better relations with America. I wish to experience their theatre first-hand.

JOCHI
I shouldn’t quite call it theatre. More of a ritualized lecture, I’d call it.

BATU
Thou have seen it?

JOCHI
Why yes. Cultural presentations were an important part of my visit. But there’s no sense of a Willemina or a Euripides.

BATU
Theatre is theatre. Three weeks across the sea and two months in quarantine is nothing.

ORDA
Batu, thou are so romantic. All that wasted time.

BATU
I can practice my own work. In fact, it should be nice to do so without the usual interruptions.
(To JOCHI)
Do thou have any photos of it?

JOCHI
I wasn’t actually that impressed with it.
(Acknowledging JANE)
Yes?

JANE
Does the patron desire anything else?

JOCHI
Next time, do wait until instructed before thou disturb us with thy service.

JANE
As the patron pleases.

JOCHI
Thou are released.

JANE
As the patron pleases.

(JANE bows and exits.)

JOCHI
Actually, I think that should be a good thing. Encourage artists to go back and forth between America and Europe. Have them pave the way for others.

ORDA
All advances in travel have come from the military or trade, not from artists.

JOCHI
These Americans think differently from us. Think creatively, Orda, creatively.

ORDA
Why, Jochi, why? There is a reason there has been so little progress in transoceanic relations since Christofora discovered America. It is simple economics. We should stop sending ships over for all it’s getting us.

JOCHI
What if we should have flying machines?

ORDA
Thou must be joking. Who should fly through the air?

BATU
Leonarda drew such devices five hundred years ago.

ORDA
Drawing is not making. If they were at all practical, they should have been built by now.

BATU
They say whoever tries to build such devices dies horribly.

ORDA
Such devices must be dangerous.

BATU
No, I mean they have been tortured and executed.

JOCHI
Ladies, ladies, this is supposed to be a pleasant evening. Let us not spoil it with talk of gore. It is enough that there are ships. It should have been nice if / we had…

ORDA
Human flight and trade agreements with America. Rumours and rubbish. Nothing shall ever replace the Silk Road.

(End of Act II excerpt)

4 Responses to “My Visit to America”

  1. Making my own goalpost « Exit, Pursued by a Lark Says:

    [...] first drafts of and began editing three more full-length plays: The Beginning of Grammar, My Visit to America and Evil [...]

  2. Politeness in dialog « Exit, Pursued by a Lark Says:

    [...] [ed. note - I did finish the first draft in 2010 and have done extensive editing since; you can read the first ten pages of each act] and I should be so lucky to have it performed, first in the US and then around the globe in [...]

  3. Stage directions: threat or menace? « Exit, Pursued by a Lark Says:

    [...] If you’re curious, you can view the first ten pages of each act of My Visit to America [...]

  4. Playwrights Center of San Francisco (PCSF) « Exit, Pursued by a Lark Says:

    [...] readings of my second full-length Hemlock, and a developmental reading of my third full-length My Visit to America. While I’d love a full production of my full-lengths, words cannot express how thrilling it [...]

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