The Securely Conferred, Vouchsafed Keepsakes of Maery S.
A false contemplation of Mary Shelley, a mix-up of definitions of the term "Gothic," a conglomeration of time periods and geographies. The Mary we always suspected but which history denied ends up on the open American road, circa 1987, having kidnapped and been kidnapped by a terrible monster of her own imagination. Sightings are reported along the interstate in many states, eyewitness accounts that share a language, whilst Maery and the Monster learn the language of love for the scarcely-human.
Songs by Graham Reynolds.
Something about this doesn’t feel right. Like it’s the wrong people saying this? The wrong setting? Does it ever feel like that to you?
O, Maery, if only we could go back. Just for us to go back, back in time and back to that place where we were. What the time is that’s best for me is when everyone sort of is at the campingplatze there on the river: everyone with their campers, lined up along at the riverbed. Lots, just lots and lots of people, all lined up in their campers – do you remember!? - inserted into the lanes of their designated sites. They’ve got - I like the - people camping – oh. That’s as far as my imagination will go.
She reaches the limit of her imagination. But the Poet LB has overheard and can take it from here.
The scenery widens and opens up to reveal:
Poet LB. With the turban and everything. Supremely foppish and Lording it over everybodyeverybodyan exhaustive listeverybody.
Let me see what I can do to pick up the thread:
satellite dishes, the roll-out awnings, zipper-up porches, toaster ovens, folding lounge chairs. All chaises lounges… all the comforts of home Bicycles. Tables with flower pots. What about those CanCables Cables carrying the new electricity.
Claire rushes to LB and clings to him, ever-so-gently humping his leg.
People staking claims and then making the most of it. (Hump, hump.)
WITNESS: bout a month ago i was with a friend and her son, we were hanging out at a camp ground . i think the camp ground was part of by Allamuchy state park, either way it was on the Musconetcong river.
Some spots are held aside for more temporary stays. People come by racerbike, tents in sleek saddle bags, by kayak sleep rough, hammock with tarp tied to couple trees keep rain off if rains. Stay one night gone by others wake up in the morning breakfast and sitting-out. Very good shape. Some single fellows middle years from neighboring countries by motorcycle wear all denim. Stay a few days stay up late with new friends made in others' campers. Restaurants or with neighbor campers who invite them – one can only imagine reluctantly – show up big bottles of beer and look to pass away the hours of the night in talk drinking. It’s Europe, after all, so there’s always more time. Time behind you, time in the day. Sunbathing and watching barges tour boats glide or chug by, depending on up or downstream).
Some campers are more permanent.
WITNESS: we stopped at a store got some hotdogs and rolls and a gallon of water then headed to the camp site. it was about 10pm when we got to the camp site and i think we took spot 19.
Fences built around them with rose bushes, and wooden enclosures, in some extreme cases – encasing the campers themselves. But no real plumbing. If you want to shower, wash dishes, or use the toilet, you make your way to the main building.
It’s actually terribly convenient.
WITNESS: my friend was asleep, and i was lying next to the fire just listening to the sounds of the woods and river.
Compared. Or to a few bathroom stations farther down if you are parked very far away. Pet dogs. People biking with their dish tubs to the main building, sometimes with a leashed pet dog running alongside.
It’s one way to do it. (Hump.) There’s one thing that I feel they’re missing on a campingplatze like this.
WITNESS: The first night we made camp at an isolated spot two miles off the trail. The camp ground has only a dirt road for access and is very remote. It was also the off season so presumably no one had been there for quite some time.
The big skirts. The waistcoats, frockcoats, corsets, the lace-up pointy=toed boots, yes? and shoes like we’ve got, the pocket watches, lorgnettes. Whatever has to be hooked up with a tool to hold us together in our clothing. Help us stand up straight no matter what. That’s what they’re missing. Though the plumbing sure is great. Surely.
(Arriving at something unexpected and suddenly shouting.)
A major convenience! For such adventurers as we!
WITNESS: We were dropped off at the road and hiked down to the lake. It was to be a three night trip. The first day and night was uneventful.
Big bundles of electrical connectionsconnection cables laying along the ground, connecting to leeching off of the electrical supply boxes, supplying megawatts of power to each of the campers.
WITNESS: We arrived at the head of the inlet at 4:00 p.m. I made camp at the mouth of a creek.
My equipment consisted of one 30-30 Winchester rifle, I had a special home-made prospecting pick, axe on one end, and pick on the other. I had a leather case for this pick which fastened to my belt, also my sheath knife.
Let’s do it again!
Uckh. I’m busy.
Don’t reject her, LB, you’ll only make her worse.
A few go on like this. Seated by bend in the river, wide skirts arrayed kerchiefs dabbed here, then there. Hard to imagine things like winter setting in, let’s refrain. Let us wine sip, sip throughout, gets to be wine country more and more the farther south you get, and most are pensioners, what do they care what’s too early to hit the sauce. South is upstream. North is downstream. One of those rivers. Which is significant. Yes, we rode bikes. We are not puritans.
WITNESS: my friend and I stayed in a tent at the edge of the small clearing.
And yet. When night falls… there seems to be something else, doesn’t there. There is a secret up there isn’t there. In those darkly wooded hills above the river. Something very old that we sense, but that cannot hope to clearly understand with our reasoning brains, something not written in history, that we may only see for a moment in a lifetime, passing in the shadows, something we can only know by our feeling of it – awe, and fear. Who is master of these forests? It isn’t me, and it isn’t you. I tell you women, ladies. Something watches us. We are in the presence of something stronger, older, and greater.
WITNESS: Let me start by saying it was my first camping trip ever and we went with a guy we met named Simon (no last names) he claimed to be a woodsman and by the way he could climb a tree I dont dought him. We got to our camp site and could not find the guy who sold fire wood so Simon got some little sticks together and made a little fire and the girls went to town to get some girl things)I said I would stay and look after the fire.
And then a storm rolls in, and lightning strikes. And I am reminded of our great modern human achievement: the harnessing of electricity! It affords us so many of these conveniences while out enjoying nature’s delights.
WITNESS: everybody in the campground had gone to bed. No fires, no lights from RV’s, no noise but this screaming.
Dear God, who is screaming like that???
Production and Development History
Workshop and readings scheduled at Playwrights Center, Minneapolis MN (February & June 2014), directed by Shawn Sides.
2013-14 McKnight National Residency and Commission.