Fondly, Collette Richland

A play in 3 Acts.
Written for Elevator Repair Service Theater Company, in response to their associative dramaturgical input and to a circuitous breadth of interconnected research material, including - but not limited to - the writings of Jane Bowles, Esther Harding, and the Nag Hammadi library.

A middle-aged couple is summoned by strange forces to an alpine Hôtel. They and other guests are pressed upon by sudden access to hidden identities corresponding to an “uprising” or “resurgence” of a history buried in the geography and in their own consciousness. Time is not linear, but a stack of layered coils, revealing multiple feminine presences erased from religious history at the onset of officialized Christian imperialism. The hierarchical protagonist-centric structure splinters into an archetypal pantheon of significant roles.

Songs and music by Mike Iveson, Jr.

View trailer and info here:
https://www.elevator.org/shows/fondly-collette-richland/

Photo by Gene Pittman. Pictured: Vin Knight, Laurena Allan, Grieg Sargeant
Photo by Gene Pittman. Pictured: Kate Scelsa, Laurena Allan
Photo by Gene Pittman. Pictured: Kaneza Schaal
Photo by Gene Pittman. Pictured: Vin Knight, Susie Sokol, Ben Williams, Grieg Sargeant

Read Sample

A little bit later, Mabrel and Winnifr’d emerge from the grotto, also seemingly under a spell of some kind, though some different spell, having returned finally from their dinner with the Deposed Empress Queen Patrice. They have clearly been through some kind of harrowing – but enlightening - experience. Both their corsages are wilted, limp, and brownish. Mabrel’s – Silk Wool Lotus Lily Brooch - hangs sadly from her lapel, as does her Crepe Myrtle Hat Hair Clip. Winnifr’d’s Periwinkle Burgundy Fashion Lady dangles from her wrist, hopeless, the worst abused of the three. The sisters are both soaking wet from coming underneath the waterfall inside of the grotto sans complete rainwear, and profoundly disturbed.

Mabrel:
(softly)
Representative Wheatsun, You have found us. We are here. Welcome. Welcome to the Grand Hôtel Conclae Vista.

Winnifr’d:
Have you checked in? M’brelle and I have been to a visit at the home and prison of our friend, the Deposed and Dethroned Queen Empress Queen Patrice, and her husband, Bob.

RMR exits toward the West turrets.

Winnifr’d:
(Cont’d.)
It was a harrowing experience, on account of the sad darkness of their situation.

Mabrel:
And also on account of the journey to get there. We had to cross through to the back of the grotto and underneath a waterfall to a very dark shaftway, and climb upward from there.

Winnifr’d:
It was terrifying. For part of the way we seemed to be underwater! Objects were no longer separate from us, and forms were deformed.

Winnifr’d’s expression seemed to reach out to the Representative, with desperate eyes under her dampened lashes, and tired lids, and to tug at his heartstrings. It seemed to describe the eternal dark unworldly quality of the Grotto, and the overwhelming crashing thunderous descent of the Waterfall. Of the terrible cloven castle, it could not speak. Of the resurgence taking place in the cities below, and the slaughters allegedly happening in some of those nicer hotels, it could only ask.

Mabrel:
There are many activities in which to partake here at the Grand Hôtel Conclae Vista. It is very important, even mandatory, and I have had a bad time choosing the creative expression I would like to do. “Fritz” has had no such trouble. His interests are quiet and determined, the perfect countenance for a man’s interests to take when he is on holiday with a group of nervous women. Winnifr’d and I cannot agree, and we hope that nothing more will be asked of us.

Winnifr’d:
What she means is, that according to Queen Patrice, creative self-expression is seen as an avenue to knowledge or remembrance of some kind that we can’t get just with regular chores and bustle.
Also, “Fritz”’s sister Dora Fitzhubert must have heard that M’brelle was enjoying the comfort and company of her dear sister, that being myself of course, and so she has insisted on providing the same to “Fritz” here on this: his holiday. But of course “Fritz” has no such need. Dora Fitzhubert has been to the Grand Hôtel Conclae Vista before.

Clotilde:
So… anything happen to look familiar in any way down there?

Velede:
In the grotto??

Winnifr’d:
No not really. Well, sort of. But I couldn’t tell you what. But now that you mention it, as I saw what I could hardly see, it was as if I remembered it!

Clotilde:
Somehow.

Winnifr’d:
YES!

Velede:
Heh heh.

Winnifr’d:
Well, it wasn't exactly a straight shot – it was more like a labyrinth. And there was something about the thought that the water originates from somewhere deep down in that grotto, and not only that but for a moment I even felt: EVERYTHING comes from there!

Velede:
Heh heh heh.

Winnifr’d:
I looked at that dark water and if someone, or something, called to me from deep down in there, I could answer that call and I had been there before and so I would find my way, and not be lost in that dark, dark water, but also hide there and be safe – saved!

Velede and Clotilde exchange a long, meaningful, somewhat antagonistic look.

Winnifr’d:
(Cont’d.)
And from there I was reminded about the ways how I may care for things – plants and pets and clothing and sisters and finances and fiancées - but then also get so angry and destroy them! In rage and desperation! Everything!

Mabrel:
Gasp! Winnifr’d!

Clotilde:
And so how much of that is your action and how much is something happening to you?

Winnifr’d:
What?

Velede:
(To Clotilde.)
Tell them a truth about the water in the bottom of the grotto.

Clotilde:
Ehr … well …You know they used to say that the water in the bottom of the grotto was haunted by ghosts!

Winnifr’d:
Ghosts!

Clotilde:
Mostly ghosts of fish – big fish like carp. You could see them surface at certain moments, but because the water itself is so inky black you can’t see them at all otherwise. I don’t know if they are ghosts. I think they might be just regular fish – extra large size. I am pretty sure it’s just hard-to-see big fish.

Winnifr’d:
Oh, my!

Velede:
Our grandfather saw a light, underneath a red, glowing stone that was shaped like a flower. And that he moved the stone and he saw a long passageway, with a glowing red, setting sun at the end of it –

Clotilde:
And then an elf without pants on was running through the passageway! Ha ha! Oh, we had a good laugh over that one I can tell you! Seriously, though. Listen. You gotta be careful outside the confines of this Hôtel. It gets a little funny.

Representative:
Funny?

Clotilde:
When I leave here at the end of a hard day’s work – work that I love, and enjoy, and which means something to me –

Representative:
(Absolutely relating.)
Yes.

Clotilde:
I take the gondola straight home in the valley to my husband Clovis. Sometimes all I’ve got for company on that gondola is a big can of milk about the size of a large four-year-old. And I don’t stop to balance my checkbook or anything either. And I don’t look over my shoulder either!

Mabrel:
Do you ever take the funicular?

Clotilde:
Sometimes. Only if it’s really windy. They’ve seen Satan flying through this valley as recently as 1926.

Winnfr’d:
Oh, my!

Clotilde:
Well, I’ll see you.

Velede:
Don’t worry. It’s only the truth. Ha ha ha ha! “Sweet dreams!”

Exit Clotilde and Velede.

Mabrel:
Representative Wheatsun, you must excuse us! We have been through a metaphysical travail.

Representative:
Dear women, dear friends. We must part ways and try to find some sleep in this place, before the dawn. I have come a long way to be again with you, and to tell you what I never got a chance to tell in your home in those now-lost days across the ranges and seas. And as happy as I am to have found you, here, safely spirited away to safe haven from the dramatic action of political and personal unrest and upheaval, I can see that you have this night been on as long a journey as I have. Let us retire to our respective chambers. Whatever agenda I might have can wait until we are rested. Let us not catch cold and fall ill.

Winnifr’d:
Good night, Representative Wheatsun!

Mabrel:
Goodnight, Representative Wheatsun!

Representative:
Sleep well! Good night, dearest Mrs. Fitzhubert! Good night, honorable and abstemious Winnifr’d Bexell!

They part company.

Just then, the merest thinning of dense darkness signaled the impending dawn. Heaven and earth, and hell, united in the deepest part of the dark night, must once again split, and consciousness again be born. Sailor Boy emerged from the kitchen - smug, laughing, snickering, and leading the good mother pigdog along by a rope around her neck.

Sailor Boy:
She has told me everything. All the gossip there was to tell on the village as well as prophecy for the future. It’s in all these scribbles here.

Now, at the entrance to the ancient forest paths through sacred groves, he released her, and her little offspring from the sack scampering along behind.

Clotilde:
I put you some ink and a tablet, let’s start sounding it out and writing it all down. I’ll put the choffee on. I can take it to the printer press tomorrow when I take the buckets down. Wait a minute! There’s one in here! I don’t know how the heck it got in here … it looks okay … a little beat up … looks like a cat got a hold of it!? It’s the runt!

They repair to the servants’ quarters, turning on a lantern there. There they record to the best of their ability the missives and directives of the prophecy and the gossip. Sailor Boy also has a map and is plotting points and naming upon it based on what he has learnt from the guten mutter hundeschweine. The Face of the Ghost of Jesus Christ is there also, unbeknownst to them, and it has some ladies’ hosiery which it examines very closely.

Cast Requirements

8 W
4 M

Production and Development History

Preview performances at Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2013)
To premiere in NYC 2015.