Kyckling and Screaming
KYCKLING AND SCREAMING is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck.
It takes place in the artificial attic forest to which Ibsen never admits us. Re-told in a Strindbergian perspective, from the Hamsunian point of view of the suicidal Duck herself. Please note: the word “Kyckling” is Swedish for “chicken.”
Work in Progress.
This dark, dark old place that's wilderness and not really outside.
It's a real lot of withered and dried up vegetation and it reaches backward into untold darker places.
Old dead trees that were Christmas trees, thrown out into the street and then brought back in here - into the dark.
Dried up plants, moss, and parts of other trees like severed trunks, branches.
All these black stovepipes like frozen serpents almost, snaking upward into the unknown.
Piles and piles of soil, torn chunks out of the earth, some the size of a man,
olden roots sticking, dangling out into nothing helpful.
Sunlight from somewhere not the sun. From skylights because there is a roof . . . slanted on both sides, wide across.
A soft scruffling like little feet, like little clawed feet searching vaguely for something in wood shavings and dried up leaves. Here and there. That's all.
The scruffling stops. But it doesn't stop suddenly.
Some beings heard scurrying away - then a mounting quiet.
The air is changed somehow to heavier and thicker. Sunlight really dims: greenish, queasy. Uneasy. Baleful looking light curses the setting. Threatening and a cause of anxiety. It's not what we're used to from sunlight, just pissed off, jealous and steaming, and destructive.
Sparse but fat landings of waterdrops start to pummel the roof (there is a roof) and grow in number. Indirectly, a flash of lightning and a gurgling rumble of thunder. Now this place sits underneath quite a downpour for a long, long time.
This is long and boring, not like being entertained. A clock ticks, and tocks.
It is like nature’s entertainment, but inside a closed tight system. No getting in but no getting away either. (When was the last time I sat through a whole rainstorm?) It's long and boring, it's all there is. When the rivers get good and going in the gutters outside the building and find the holes in the eaves, particulary through a certain crack, drips are entering up in here. And, come to find, it's quite an entrance. Drips on leaves of dead plants and trees. The drips falling onto one dead leaf in particular.
After about twenty minutes or maybe an hour or so, the storm subsides, or moves to another town. Not that ‘where’ is any idea anybody's had for a long while. That soft scruffling picks up again, resuming an old worn out search, moister this time, not as dusty, keeps it up for a little while, subsides.
Darkness falls, gradually. A second-hand gloaming. A couple rabbits pass through - is that what they are? rabbits? It's dark. They make an entrance but not as big of an entrance as those drips that happened during the storm, at least partly because it's less an entrance than an exit. And it's impossible, certainly, to see them. Whatever they are, humble matter-of-fact creatures, they disappear into some definitely small caves in those large chunks of earth mentioned before.
A rest, or at least a time of disinterested burrowing. Some crickets.
From a muffled away, an underneath, voices.
A sigh like of despair. Swish. Dismayed burying of a bill in feathers. Shiver. Forced sleep.
Taxidermy models get added in: all posed game animals pushed up through and into the former setting by no seen human hand.
This is not just poultry, though there is plenty poultry to be seen – this is big prize game too! Some eternally present trays for pipe ashes, set in the palms of their upturned paws, such as the fox, or pipes as the turkey and bear, or hooks for clothing as the majestic elk with high-lifted hoof and now-ubiquitous suburban urban whitetail deer tail along makeshift deer trails.
Rusty old swing set from which, in bygone days, have been hung carcasses of old deer.
Also, ceramic and plaster-cast of woodland creatures, and a muchness of them at that.
Additionally, the taxidermied, animatronic corpse of August Strindberg.
Now small hills,
the copse where resides the corpse of August Strindberg,
glens covered up in old peat moss and sod.
Water trough roughly disguised as a pond. Morning's broken.
And there's warbling,
chattering, chipping and needling.
there's bleating and screeching,
itching and fluffing,
peeping and creeping,
licking and laying,
cackling and cawing,
droppings and clawing,
pecking and pawing,
nipping and farting,
calling and songing,
soughing and suffering.
To music, another voice. Suspicious how much it sounds like Roland Barthes.
Virginia B. Toulmin Commission, through New York Theatre Workshop.
Production and Development History
Mondays at Three reading February 10, 2014, at New York Theatre Workshop.
Directed by Sarah Benson.