CASSANDRA: Part 8

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30th, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

Act Two

Scene Two

(HELEN and HECUBA are in the kitchen, having breakfast. CASSANDRA wanders into the kitchen, looking like a living zombie. She clearly has not slept at all. HELEN slightly jumps when she sees CASSANDRA.)

HELEN
Mom! Are you okay?

CASSANDRA
Huh? What do you mean, sweetheart?

HELEN
You look dead! (HECUBA elbows her.) Ow! What was that for?

HECUBA
Rude!

CASSANDRA
Oh…I didn’t get any sleep at all last night…

HECUBA
You were thinking about him, weren’t you?

HELEN
Now who’s rude?

(HECUBA gives HELEN a severe stare.)

CASSANDRA
Don’t be silly, Hec.

HECUBA
Mom…

CASSANDRA
I’m fine, dear. Just tired, that’s all. Nothing a cup of coffee can’t fix!

HELEN
Are you sure you’ll be okay, Mom? I can stay home from school if you need someone around.

CASSANDRA
Very funny, Helen. You know you’ve missed enough school this year already!

HELEN
Just trying to help…

HECUBA
Uh-huh, sure, sis.

HELEN
Oh wait! Does this mean you can actually pick us up from school today?

CASSANDRA
I think so. It depends on how long the cable guy takes.

HELEN
Can we go out to dinner tonight for once?

(CASSANDRA chuckles.)

CASSANDRA
What, you don’t like my refrigerated dinners?

HELEN
They’re good! I just…sometimes want something that’s just been cooked…

HECUBA
Helen!

CASSANDRA
It’s okay, Helen. I understand. Sure, we can do that tonight.

HELEN
Really? Thanks Mom! You’re the best!

CASSANDRA
You’re welcome, dear. I love you both. Alright, let’s get you girls to school.

(HELEN and HECUBA bound out of their seats, grabbing their belongings. CASSANDRA wearily follows.
The office. CASSANDRA stares at her computer screen, inches from falling asleep. KEVIN pokes his head into the office.)

KEVIN
Cassie, before you go, can you get those reports to me? (Pause.) Cassie? (He enters.) Cassie, are you listening? (He approaches CASSANDRA.) Jesus, Cass, are you okay?

(KEVIN puts his hand on CASSANDRA’s shoulder. She immediately recoils, pushing him away.)

CASSANDRA
Don’t touch me!

KEVIN
Woah! I’m sorry!

CASSANDRA
Oh god, Kevin, it’s just you. I’m so sorry, you startled me.

KEVIN
Are you alright, Cassie? You look like you’ve seen a ghost. I didn’t frighten you that bad, did I?

CASSANDRA
I’m sorry, Kevin. I’ve just been out of it all day.

KEVIN
Even more than yesterday?

CASSANDRA
Yeah, sorry, I didn’t get any sleep last night.

KEVIN
Did something happen?

CASSANDRA
Well, I…no, it’s nothing.

KEVIN
Are you sure?

CASSANDRA
Yes, I’m fine.

KEVIN
Cassie…do you need to head home early? You look exhausted.

CASSANDRA
I’m heading home in an hour. I’m okay, I promise.

KEVIN
I never believe your promises…

CASSANDRA
What’s that supposed to mean? Is this about-

KEVIN
No, sorry, that’s not what I meant to say. I just meant that you’re…

CASSANDRA
Untrustworthy.

KEVIN
Magnanimous.

(CASSANDRA arches an eyebrow.)

CASSANDRA
What?

KEVIN
That’s not right, is it?

CASSANDRA
I don’t think so…

KEVIN
I never know what to say around you. Words stop making sense. They lose definition.

CASSANDRA
Kevin, stop…

KEVIN
Why do you keep pushing me away? I’m just trying to be friendly.

CASSANDRA
You…remind me of someone when you do that.

KEVIN
What? Who?

CASSANDRA
I’d rather not say.

KEVIN
I’m…I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to open up old wounds.

CASSANDRA
No, it’s fine…(There is a pause.) Look, I need to finish up my work before I go home.

KEVIN
Right. Well…take care of yourself. Get some rest.

CASSANDRA
Will do.

(KEVIN leaves. CASSANDRA goes back to her desk, then packs up and leaves.

The street. APOLLO waits in the same location as the previous evening. He makes eye contact with CASSANDRA as she passes by. It lasts far too long. She picks up speed, quickly walking by. Leisurely, he eventually follows.

Home, the living room. CASSANDRA sits on the couch. She looks around nervously and checks her phone.)

CASSANDRA
Where is he? He was supposed to be here already. Ugh, never trust the cable company.

(The doorbell rings and CASSANDRA jumps slightly. She catches her breath and puts her phone on the table. She goes to the door and opens it. APOLLO is standing outside.)

CASSANDRA
You!

(She tries to slam the door, but APOLLO pushes his way in. CASSANDRA backs away from him as he closes and locks the door.)

CASSANDRA
You followed me. How? I drove like hell out of there.

APOLLO
I knew where you lived, Cassandra. I’ve been watching you for a very long time.

CASSANDRA
Who the hell are you?

APOLLO
Do names matter anymore? I am. I have been. You know me, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
Stop calling me that! That’s not my name!

APOLLO
I’m impressed. You made yourself forget everything, just like you said. You truly are a brilliant woman. I thought I had lost you for good this time. But I always sniff you out in the end.

CASSANDRA
Forget? I don’t understand. What are you talking about?

APOLLO
Remember, Cassandra. Remember your destiny, your fate. Remember what has transpired, and remember what will come to be. You have two gifts, gifts that I instilled in you. I am Apollo of the Sun, and I am your lord.

CASSANDRA
Apollo? You’re fucking insane, is what you are.

APOLLO
And yet you know the truth, Cassandra of Troy.

CASSANDRA
Troy…?

(APOLLO quickly approaches CASSANDRA, backing her up against the wall. He reaches towards her as she tries to jerk away. He touches his fingers to her temple, and she gasps as her mind floods with images of the past.)

Bryce Duzan will be wrapping up his play this month, just in time for this year’s festival to begin on November 6! Keep your eyes on the site for the conclusion, this year’s exciting schedule, and more!

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A Giant Thank You To All Of Our 2013 Donors!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26th, 2013 by admin

We’re excited to publish the list of our 2013 Olympians Festival donors!

This list is only partial. Some donors choose to remain anonymous, and many people donate in ways other than cash: their time, their energy, their expertize, their network, etc. Behind every festival, every theater production, there is always a plethora of people coming together in a myriad of ways to make it happen. No donor list or program credits are ever truly comprehensive.

To all the people on this list, and all the people who aren’t on it, thank you for all you do to make this vision a reality. The festival couldn’t happen without you, and we hope you love all the great work that comes out of it, the result of all the love and support you put in.

Paul Anderson
Kendra Arimoto
Christina Augello
Mary Ann Bell
Jane Bousel
Robin Bousel
Megan Briggs
Rachel Bublitz
Randall Bublitz
John Caldon
Linda-Ruth Cardozo
Jonathan Carpenter
Nat Cassidy
Louise Castaldi
Christie Chew
Andrew Chung
Shelley F. Cohen
Nancy Cooper Frank
Ashley Cowan
Jan Cox
Lisa Darter
Layla Muran de Assereto
Norm DeVeyra
Laura Domingo
Danielle Doyle
Susan Dunn
Colleen Egan
Alisha Ehrlich
Robert Estes
Susan Fairbrook
Margery Fairchild
Sean Fenton
Josh Galyen
Dori Gillam
James Grady
Matt Gunnison
Donald Hardwick
Neil Higgins
Paul Jennings
Barbara Jwanouskos
Meghan Kane
Brian Katz
Katherine Kessinger
Melissa Kelepetar
Dan Kurtz
Carol Lashof
Joyce C. Lashof
Charles Lewis III
Carl Lucania
Morgan Ludlow
Cat Luedtke
Alison Luterman
Brian Martin
T Davina McClain
Jose Mosqueda
Anita Nallathamby
Tonya Narvaez
Scott Neilson
William Newton
Debra O’Connor
Meghan O’Connor
Hector Osorio
Allison Lynn Page
Seanan Palmero
Sunil Patel
Kate Payne
Jacqueline Peters
Bridgette Portman
Tracy Held Potter
Madeline Puccioni
Diane Regas
Martha Richards
Diana Rishell
Jessica Rudholm
Celeste Russi
Carina Salazar
Brian Salomaki
Barbara Selfridge
Kirk Shimano
Dave Sikula
Paul Stout
Marissa Skudlarek
Laura Thompson
Kevin Trowbridge
Eileen Tull
Miguel Veloz
Pete Warden
Wolfgang Weber
Matt Werner
Teri Whipple
Colin Williams
Jason Wong
Lily Yang
Jeffrey Yasskin

CASSANDRA: Part 7

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20th, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan


Act Two

Scene One

(CASSANDRA’s bedroom. CASSANDRA is asleep. It is now modern day. CASSANDRA awakes with a start, gasping. She looks wildly about the room, a look of confusion on her face. Finally, she lies back down, looking fearful.

The sun rises, and CASSANDRA awakes again. She dresses and goes to the dining room, where HELEN and HECUBA. They are not the characters from the first act; rather, CASSANDRA’s teenage daughters. They greet her with a chorus of “Hi, Mom!” CASSANDRA stands, looking confused again. Then, she slowly smiles.)

CASSANDRA
Good morning, girls.

HELEN
How’d you sleep?

CASSANDRA
Alright. I had the strangest dream, though.

HECUBA
What was it about?

CASSANDRA
I don’t…exactly remember. It’s all a haze right now. But it was so vivid!

HELEN
I’m sure it’ll come back to you.

CASSANDRA
Me too. How did you two sleep?

HELEN
Good! I was exhausted from our soccer game last night, so I was out like a light.

HECUBA
I slept good—

CASSANDRA
Slept well.

HECUBA
–I slept well, except for Helen snoring all night.

HELEN
Hec!

CASSANDRA
Mmhmm, I heard it too!

HELEN
Oh stop it, Mom!

(They all laugh.)

HECUBA
Can you pick us up from school today, Mom?

CASSANDRA
I don’t know. I’ll probably have to stay late tonight since I have to leave early tomorrow. We’re in crunch time right now and Kevin isn’t very happy about me leaving early, but I know all three of us will go insane if we go another day without internet. You’ll probably have to ask Stacey’s mom if she can drive you home today. I’m sorry.

HECUBA
That should be fine. Stacey said her mom was happy to drive us home.

CASSANDRA
That’s good. I just don’t want to be a burden on her.

HECUBA
I know.

HELEN
She just lives next door, Mom. I don’t think it’s that much of a burden.

CASSANDRA
I know, I know. Still, it’s the principle of the thing.

HELEN
Ooookay, Mom. (HELEN checks her phone.) Oh, we should go soon!

CASSANDRA
Okay, let me grab my stuff and I’ll drive you to school.

(CASSANDRA gets up, leaves for a moment, then comes back with a briefcase. HELEN and HECUBA both stand and hug CASSANDRA.)

HELEN
Love you, Mom.

(For a moment, CASSANDRA is frozen. She is unsure how to react. Her eyes well with tears, but she pushes them back and smiles.)

CASSANDRA
I…I love you too, girls. (She hugs them back.) Come on, let’s get you to school!

(CASSANDRA, HELEN, and HECUBA leave. The scene shifts to CASSANDRA’s office. She sits at her desk, giving her computer an odd look. A few moments pass before she shakes off her confusion and powers it on. She begins to work, slowly at first, her fingers clumsily hitting the keys on the keyboard. Eventually, she speeds up to a regular working pace. Office workers come and go, giving her documents or talking to her or other basic tasks. Each thing takes CASSANDRA a bit longer than normal to do. She is having trouble remembering everything. Soon, CASSANDRA is alone again. Then, KEVIN enters. KEVIN is a genial man in his mid-40s.)

KEVIN
Hey, Cassie, mind if I come in?

CASSANDRA
Oh…Kevin! Yeah, come in. What’s up?

KEVIN
Is everything alright?

CASSANDRA
What do you mean?

KEVIN
Everyone has been saying that you’re not yourself today.

CASSANDRA
Not myself?

KEVIN
Yeah…like you’re a zombie or something.

CASSANDRA
Oh…no, everything’s fine.

KEVIN
Are you sure?

CASSANDRA
I’ve just felt like I’m in a daze today, that’s all.

KEVIN
Why?

CASSANDRA
I’m not sure…I had a weird dream last night that I can’t even remember, and now I feel all strange.

KEVIN
Hmm…do you want to take the rest of the day off?

CASSANDRA
What? No, I’m fine. Really.

KEVIN
Are you sure?

CASSANDRA
Yes! Plus I’m already leaving early tomorrow. I don’t want to do that two days in a row.

KEVIN
Look, I know I was upset about you leaving early tomorrow, but your health is more important to me than quarterly reports.

CASSANDRA
I appreciate it, Kevin. But I’m fine, trust me! (She smiles.)

KEVIN
…alright. Well, let me know if you need anything, okay?

CASSANDRA
Thank you.

(KEVIN leaves and CASSANDRA continues to work. Eventually, night descends and CASSANDRA prepares to leave. The scene shifts to the street as CASSANDRA walks to her car. Under a street light, APOLLO stands watching her. He is much less resplendent than before, wearing plain clothes now. They lock eyes as CASSANDRA walks by. There is a moment of recognition from CASSANDRA.)

CASSANDRA
Who are you?

APOLLO
You know me, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
What? No, I don’t. How do you know my name?

APOLLO
Remember, Cassandra. Remember.

CASSANDRA
I said I don’t know you! Leave me alone!

(CASSANDRA flees. APOLLO makes no attempt to follow her.)

APOLLO
Soon, Cassandra.

(The scene shifts again to CASSANDRA’s home. She is having dinner with HELEN and HECUBA. She is visibly shaken from the earlier encounter.)

HELEN
Mom? Mom. Mom. Mom!

(CASSANDRA snaps put of her trance.)

CASSANDRA
What…what is it, sweetie?

HELEN
You were spacing out again.

HECUBA
Are you okay, Mom?

CASSANDRA
Oh, yes, I’m fine.

HECUBA
Are you sure? You don’t look well.

CASSANDRA
I…ran into this guy when I was walking to my car after work. He…knew my name. But I didn’t know him. And…he frightened me. I don’t know why.

HELEN
That’s…really scary, Mom.

HECUBA
Did you call the police?

CASSANDRA
No…he didn’t follow me.

HECUBA
You should have someone walk you to your car tomorrow.

CASSANDRA
I should be fine. I’m going home early tomorrow.

HECUBA
Okay…just be careful, Mom.

CASSANDRA
I will.

(CASSANDRA hugs her daughters, then retires to her room. She lays in bed, but does not fall asleep. Her eyes are wide open, and she is afraid. Before long, it is morning again. She drags herself out of bed, dresses, and meets her daughters for breakfast in the kitchen.)

Keep checking in every month for more installments!

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Announcing San Francisco Olympians V: Monster Ball

Posted in Uncategorized on August 1st, 2013 by admin

Want to write for the Olympians Festival?

Well, now is your chance!

We are now accepting submissions for the 2014 San Francisco Olympians Festival, a multi-discipline, nationally recognized new works theater festival based at the Exit Theater in San Francisco!

Proposals due by midnight on September 30th, with the line-up for next year’s festival to be announced 11/1/2013. Our first meeting will be on December 12 of 2013.

The festival will take place in November of 2014, from November 5-November 22, Wedesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Each night of the festival will consist of the staged reading of either a full-length play or a series of shorts, inspired by the mythical creatures of Ancient Greece. The subjects, and the lengths of the plays we’re looking for, are specified below. Some nights of the festival will be a competition, with a pair of one acts pitted against each other and the audience given a chance to vote. Those nights are also specified below.

There are no submission fees. The Olympians Festival is non-exclusive and does not retain ownership of any play created for it, beyond the initial staged reading. Participating writers should be local (San Francisco and the greater Bay Area), and will be expected to help promote the festival and contribute a raffle prize of their choosing to be raffled off to the audience on the night their play is read, or awarded to the winner of their night should they be involved in one of the competitive evenings of the festival. Writers are also expected to attend 4-6 meetings over the course of the year, and our auditions, which happen about a month before the festival.

Writers are encouraged to submit as many proposals as they want for as many topics as they like. Applications for a topic can be submitted by individuals or writers can work in pairs, or teams of three or more. Writers may be picked for more than one project, and should note that they’d like to be considered for more than one (or not). Each proposal should be 500 words or less and answer three questions:

1) Why you?
2) Why this monster?
3) What is your idea?

All proposals should be submitted electronically to Stuart at sfolympians@gmail.com.

2014′s subjects are as follows. Only one is currently claimed and submissions are encouraged for all of the rest:

Week One: Guardians Of Nature (11/5-11/8)

Wednesday, November 5: Nymphs! Nymphs! Nymphs!
Short: Austere
Short: Nephele
Short: Oreads
Short: Dryads
Short: Nereids
Short: Naiads
Short: Oceanids
Short: Lampades

Thursday, November 6: Pastoral Masters
One Act: Centaurs
One Act: Saytrs

Friday, November 7: Winged Wonder
Full-Length: Pegasus

Saturday, November 8: The Lord of the Dance
Full-Length: Pan (CLAIMED)

Week Two: Celebrity Monster Deathmatch! (Audience Judged Dueling One Acts) 

Wednesday, November 12: Dangerous Dragons
One Act: Hydra
One Act: Typhon

Thursday, November 13: Evil Eyes
One Act: Argus
One Act: Polyphemus

Friday, November 14: Three Headed Trouble
One Act: Cerberus
One Act: Chimera

Saturday, November 15: Hero-Makers
One Act: Geryon
One Act: Minotaur

Week Three: Femme Fatales (11/19-11/22) 

Wednesday, November 19: She-Beasts Triads
One-Act: Sirens
One-Act: Harpies
One-Act: Graeae

Thursday, November 20: Lethal Wisdom
Full Length: Sphinx

Friday, November 21: Deadly Beauty
Full Length: Medusa

Saturday, November 22: Vagina Dentata
Short: Scylla
Full Length: Echidna
Short: Charybdis

Definitions:

Short- Ten to Fifteen Minutes
One-Act- Twenty-five to Fifty Minutes
Full Length- Sixty-Five Minutes to Two Hours

Happy Brainstorming! We look forward to your submissions!

CASSANDRA: Part 6

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3rd, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan

ACT ONE

Scene 4

(CASSANDRA enters another section of the ruins of Troy. She is panting, clearly out of breath. She looks around wildly. Seeing nothing, she turns back to where she was running from. From behind her, APOLLO enters. He is resplendent, shining like the sun. CASSANDRA strains to try to see from where she came. APOLLO approaches her until almost right on top of her. CASSANDRA turns, sees APOLLO, gasps, stumbles backwards, trips, almost falls, but catches herself.)

CASSANDRA
You…!

APOLLO
I’ve finally found you, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
Apollo…

APOLLO
It was difficult, I must say. You have traveled the length of the Greek world. And for what? To evade me?

CASSANDRA
Not everything revolves around you, Apollo. I have done this for myself.

APOLLO
Hm, yes, I see. And you have done much. Helped the Queen of Sparta. Eased your family and one of your enemies to the Underworld. Impressive, really.

CASSANDRA
Why have you followed me?

APOLLO
I have always been watching you, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
But why?

APOLLO
(Looking confused.) Because I love you. Do you doubt that?

(CASSANDRA looks appalled.)

CASSANDRA
Do I…doubt that? Of course I doubt that! You cursed me when I rejected your advances!

APOLLO
I was angry, yes, and I am sorry.

CASSANDRA
Sorry? If you are sorry, then remove it and release me from this hell!

APOLLO
(Chuckles.) Oh, Cassandra, why would I do such a thing? Look how you have turned adversity into strength! How could I take that away from you?

CASSANDRA
I don’t want strength. I want to be normal.

APOLLO
That will never happen, Cassandra. You will always be special. Even if to nobody else, you will be special to me.

CASSANDRA
Truly?

APOLLO
Yes.

CASSANDRA
I…thank you.

(Pause.)

CASSANDRA
My family…maybe you have heard of such things. Have you seen spirits who are resistant to leaving for the Underworld?

APOLLO
It’s not normal, to be sure. But Hades is open to deals.

CASSANDRA
What do you mean?

APOLLO
Well, if, for instance, one makes a deal with him to leave some souls wandering until you come along and teach them understanding or some such nonsense….he makes sure to uphold his end of the bargain.

CASSANDRA
That…was your doing?

APOLLO
Oh yes! You must admit it was quite brilliant. I helped you soothe the spirits not only of your family, but of Achilles as well! Truly a clever idea, yes?

CASSANDRA
That…is disgusting!

APOLLO
What?

CASSANDRA
You tormented the spirits of those departed to make me feel better about myself!

APOLLO
Indeed I did. They are dead, Cassandra. Gone and past. What do they matter anymore?

CASSANDRA
How can you say that you love me when you have done such cruel things to those I love? I see now. You are just toying with me, as a cat toys with its prey.

APOLLO
Nonsense, Cassandra. I love you, truly!

CASSANDRA
No, I cannot believe that. No person would do what you have done. Cursed me for the rest of my life. Manipulated those I cared about.

APOLLO
I am not a person, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
You’re right. You’re more…and less. You have such power…and yet you lack the understanding required to use it correctly.

APOLLO
(His demeanor darkens.) Be careful what you say, Cassandra. You know not what you are dealing with.

CASSANDRA
So smite me! Strike me down and cure me of this blight!

APOLLO
No. You will live with your sight. You must endure your mistakes.

CASSANDRA
Mistakes? It was no mistake to reject your “love.”

APOLLO
If you believe that, then you have not learned your lesson, my dear.

CASSANDRA
My lesson.

APOLLO
Learning to love me, of course.

CASSANDRA
That will never happen.

APOLLO
It shall. I don’t care how long it takes, but you will learn to love me!

CASSANDRA
I will die first.

APOLLO
How dare you!

(APOLLO begins to walk towards CASSANDRA, malice in his eyes. CASSANDRA shrinks back. APOLLO soon stops, however, suddenly getting an idea.)

APOLLO
No… I see now. You need time, that’s all.

CASSANDRA
W…what?

APOLLO
If it will take you that long to change your mind, then I will give you all the time you need.

CASSANDRA
What do you mean?

APOLLO
I’ll make you like me, Cassandra. Immortal.

CASSANDRA
N…no. No, please!

APOLLO
Then you’ll have all the time in the world to make your choice. In fact, you’ll have…forever.

CASSANDRA
You…bitter fool. You’d do such an evil thing? You’d make me watch as the few friends I have left wither and die around me, while I remain unchanged?

APOLLO
Soon you will see, Cassandra. I am the only one who matters. I am your light, Cassandra, your sun. I will never wither, never die. Just think of it! You will be a goddess by my side.

CASSANDRA
A goddess?

APOLLO
Yes! Cassandra, the goddess of prophecy. Oracles will pray to you daily, asking that you make their predictions true and hone their second sight.

CASSANDRA
Not as influential as the god of the sun, of course.

APOLLO
Perhaps not, but what does it matter? You will still be recognized in all of Greece. The wife of Apollo! We will last…and love…forever.

(A look of recognition passes over CASSANDRA’s face.)

CASSANDRA
….No, we won’t.

APOLLO
What?

CASSANDRA
We won’t last forever. I see it. I see Greece falling. I see your power and faith waning, sometimes slowly, sometimes with much haste. Over time, the only power you will wield is in the stories that some tell. You will only be a distant, hazy memory.

(APOLLO tries to laugh, but he can’t. He is pale.)

APOLLO
You…can’t possibly see all of that.

CASSANDRA
It seems that even gods can die, though not by a sword or poison. No, it is a slow and painful death, without malice…yet without mercy too. The ignominious death of being forgotten.

APOLLO
Stop! You deceitful harlot! Do not try to scare me with your lies!

CASSANDRA
You, out of anyone, should know the weight of my words.

APOLLO
Enough! You clearly need time…much time…until you see the error of your ways. Very well, we will meet again, Cassandra. Next time…I hope your opinions have changed.

CASSANDRA
You do this thing, Apollo, you make me immortal, and I will stop at nothing to break it! I will be your undoing, I swear it! I will find a way!

(APOLLO storms away. CASSANDRA falls to her knees, weeping, angry and afraid. The familiar look of seeing into the future crosses her face again.)

CASSANDRA
No…he can’t possibly be able to do such a thing…yet I can see it. I can see my life stretching into eternity. I see Greece falling…I see the endless future ahead of me. And I am there…as I am now. Broken.

(BLACKOUT End of Act One.)

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CASSANDRA: Part 5

Posted in Uncategorized on June 3rd, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan

CASSANDRA
And I’m alone again. No…Paris is nearby. My brother…how tortured does he feel? Afraid? Where is he, I wonder? Why is he not with the others? (Pause.) I hear something. Who is there?

(ACHILLES enters. Like the others, he is a spirit.)

ACHILLES
I see. You help the others…but not me. Is it because they are your family, and I am not? Or is it because I am your enemy, even in death?

CASSANDRA
You are not my enemy, Achilles. You never were.

ACHILLES
Ha. Even though I killed your brother? Killed your people? Don’t lie to me.

CASSANDRA
Greece never was my enemy. Troy was theirs. (ACHILLES scoffs.) I mean what I say. Why do you linger here, surrounded by your enemies?

ACHILLES
I…am full of anger. My rage continues to burn.

CASSANDRA
Why?

ACHILLES
You think the atrocities committed here happened only to your own people? What about mine? I lost friends too…and more.

CASSANDRA
More?

ACHILLES
Yes. A…good friend. Almost a brother. His name was Patroclus.

CASSANDRA
I have heard of him. He led your Myrmidons against my people in your stead. And…

ACHILLES
And he was killed. By your brother.

CASSANDRA
I’m…sorry. But we were at war.

ACHILLES
I did not even see him die. I had to hear about it afterward. I did not even know. I could only imagine how he suffered…

CASSANDRA
What did you expect to happen, Achilles? That he and his small cadre of men would take Troy themselves?

ACHILLES
He wasn’t supposed to go! I forbade it! But…he did. He left…against my wishes…I should have known…should have gone after him…

CASSANDRA
We all wish we could change the past, Achilles. Trust me, I know. But-

ACHILLES
You don’t understand! He wasn’t supposed to die! He…was…

CASSANDRA
He was what? Immortal? What made him so important that he could outlive death itself?

ACHILLES
I…loved him.

(CASSANDRA is taken aback.)

CASSANDRA
Oh. I…I see. I’m sorry, Achilles. I…didn’t know.

ACHILLES
He wanted to prove something. Prove that he was as strong a warrior as I. That he was capable. That he was…worth my time.

CASSANDRA
Are those his words…or yours?

ACHILLES
What? His. I would never say something like that to him. I respected him! For his strength…and his tenderness. But he never believed that he was good enough for me. It was childish. I treated him like an equal!

CASSANDRA
And yet he left. Perhaps he didn’t feel like you treated him as you say?

ACHILLES
…perhaps not. There’s so many things I wish I could have done differently…treated him better. Supported him more. Followed him when he left that day.

CASSANDRA
I know, Achilles. But…that was his destiny.

ACHILLES
What?

CASSANDRA
To die. His death spurred you on to fight against Troy. Then your destiny was to die as well. Both of your futures changed when you came here.

ACHILLES
How do you know this?

CASSANDRA
Because we all have our futures set out. Troy’s fate was to burn…and so it did. I saw that future and I was unable to stop it. I wish I could have…I wish I could have saved you as well, Achilles.

ACHILLES
…thank you, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
I’m sorry.

ACHILLES
Don’t be. I am not angry at you. And I am not angry at your brother. No…I see now that I am only angry at myself. A foolish, stupid anger at not being able to see the future.

CASSANDRA
Even if you could see the future, Achilles, I believe you would find it quite difficult to understand it.

(ACHILLES looks hard at CASSANDRA for a moment. Then, he cracks a smile.)

ACHILLES
I believe you are quite right.

CASSANDRA
Is Patroclus here as well?

ACHILLES
No. He has departed already.

CASSANDRA
Then you should go as well. I am sure he is waiting for you.

ACHILLLES
Do you believe so?

CASSANDRA
I do.

ACHILLES
…thank you, Cassandra. And…I am sorry. For your brother.

CASSANDRA
I forgive you, Achilles, if you forgive him. And me.

(ACHILLES smiles again. This time, it is warm.)

ACHILLLES
I do.

(ACHILLES fades away. CASSANDRA breathes a sigh of relief.)

CASSANDRA
Rest in peace, hero of the Greeks.

(PARIS enters slowly, looking around. He too is a ghost.)

PARIS
Is he gone?

CASSANDRA
Paris? Oh, brother, it is you! Who is gone?

PARIS
Achilles.

CASSANDRA
Yes, he has just departed. Why?

PARIS
Because…I was the one who killed him. I did not wish to confront him if he bore a grudge.

CASSANDRA
He seemed to not even care about his own death. He was only concerned with the death of his…love.

PARIS
I see…

(There is a pause.)

PARIS
I am sure you are wondering why I am still here.

CASSANDRA
I think I have an idea…it’s Helen, isn’t it?

PARIS
Yes. Have you seen her? Recently, I mean.

CASSANDRA
Indeed I have, Paris.

PARIS
And? Did she…say anything? About me?

CASSANDRA
She did.

(PARIS immediately lightens. He seems relieved.)

PARIS
She did? I’m…so glad.

CASSANDRA
She misses you. Terribly. She still mourns you, in fact.

PARIS
I miss her as well. Terribly. Does her husband…treat her well?

CASSANDRA
He was planning to kill her. He decided against it. He treats her as you’d expect.

PARIS
Gods…! That’s terrible! I…can’t believe such a thing.

CASSANDRA
I imagined you wanted the truth, Paris. Would you have preferred a lie?

PARIS
No. (A long pause.) I’m…sorry.

CASSANDRA
For what?

PARIS
For everything. This is all my fault.

CASSANDRA
Paris, it’s not-

PARIS
Everything. Is my. Fault. This whole…gods-damned thing. My city…my people…gone. Because of me. Every day I look back into the past. Every day I count the things–the hundred of things–that I have done wrong. If I only had the sense to never listen to the gods…the sense not to take a married woman from her crazed husband. If I had just stopped and thought about what I was doing…I would realize how insane it all was!

CASSANDRA
It was not your fault, Paris.

PARIS
How can you say that?

CASSANDRA
The gods tricked you! Aphrodite tricked you! Tricked Helen too! She hypnotized the poor woman! Made her leave her husband!

PARIS
Well she didn’t make me do anything. I went of my own free will. I just wanted someone to love. Is that so wrong?

CASSANDRA
Of course not, brother. How could you know such a terrible thing would happen?

PARIS
I should have expected consequences of some kind! But I was in love. Stupid, blind, and in love.

CASSANDRA
And nobody can fault you for that. You heard the others. Father, brother, nobody cursed your name. Not even the one you slew! Helen doesn’t hate you. She misses you. Deeply. You two were in love. Nobody can hate a man who loves with all his heart as you did.

PARIS
You…you mean that?

CASSANDRA
Of course, Paris.

PARIS
And…you don’t hate me?

CASSANDRA
No. I love you. As I always shall.

(PARIS weeps.)

PARIS
Thank you, sister. Thank you for bringing peace to this foolish soul.

(PARIS slowly begins to fade.)

CASSANDRA
Farewell, brother. Tell the others that I love you all and I will never forget you.

PARIS
I shall, sister. We will always watch over you.

(PARIS disappears. For a moment, there is silence.)

CASSANDRA
And so I’m alone again. But I feel…happy. Fulfilled. I have done something right…strange. I don’t feel alone. Hello? Is there somebody there?

A VOICE
Cassandra…

CASSANDRA
N…no. No, stay away!

(CASSANDRA flees.)

(BLACKOUT)

More to come! Check back soon!

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CASSANDRA: Part 4

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7th, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan

ACT ONE

Scene Three

(The ruins of Troy. CASSANDRA enters.)

CASSANDRA
And so I return to the place of my birth. How strange it feels to be back. I could swear that years had passed since I had seen Troy last, and yet it has been a scant few months. This place…was it really Troy? It is colder now. The wind bites harder than it did. And the silence…is pervading. Where are the children, running and laughing in the streets? Where are the noble men and women, dressed in their fineries? Where…is my home?

King Priam, my father, died here. Noble Hector, my brother, died here. Paris…he is gone too. And the rest…all gone. Ashes by now. This city of splendors, once magnificent, is now just rubble and ashes.

Why did I return? What was I expecting to happen? Did I imagine that my family would be here waiting for me? They are gone now. I just…wish I could see their faces again. I wish I could bid them farewell. I wish I could tell them that I am sorry.

VOICE
Cassandra…

CASSANDRA
Who is there?

VOICE
Cassandra…you’ve returned to us…

(PRIAM enters. He is a specter, wearing torn robes and a broken crown.)

CASSANDRA
F…father? Is that you? It can’t be…

PRIAM
It is, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
But how? I saw you die. I saw you…

PRIAM
And die I did. But my spirit lingers here. As do others.

CASSANDRA
Others? Who?

PRIAM
Your brothers, Hector and Paris, still linger.

CASSANDRA
Hector? Paris?

PRIAM
Yes. One approaches.

(HECTOR enters. He is dressed much like PRIAM, in cracked armor.)

HECTOR
Sister…?

CASSANDRA
Brother! It is really you!

(CASSANDRA rushes to embrace HECTOR, but he puts out his hand, stopping her.)

HECTOR
You cannot, Cassandra. I am sorry. If I could embrace you, I would. But I am flesh and blood no more. I am a mere phantom, a remnant of what I once was.

CASSANDRA
I see. Father…brother…I am so happy to see you both again. But…why are you here?

PRIAM
I do not know, my daughter. Something holds us here. We are unable to pass on, to descend to the River Styx.

HECTOR
I cannot go! I can’t leave this place knowing I have failed my people!

CASSANDRA
Hector, you did not fail us!

HECTOR
Look around you, sister! Look at our beloved city. Look what they have done to it! And I am to blame. If I had fought harder…

CASSANDRA
No, Hector. Blame me. It is my fault. I saw what would happen and I did nothing to stop it.

PRIAM
You saw what was to come, Cassandra. You saw the future. But we did not believe you. Could not believe you. Yet you tried. You cannot say you did nothing.

CASSANDRA
Then I didn’t do enough! If I could have made you believe me…if I could have found a way…

HECTOR
Then what would we have done, Cassandra? If you had made us believe, then what? We surrender? Give up Paris for execution and Helen to be carried away by that mongrel Menelaus? Why, the Greeks would have burned Troy to the ground anyway!

CASSANDRA
Then…the outcome would have been the same…but no, there must have been something I could have done!

HECTOR
We were at war, dear sister, with a man mad with rage and jealousy. Nothing short of total destruction would have satisfied him. You cannot reason with a man like that.

CASSANDRA
No, I can’t believe that! Father, what do you say? Do you agree with Hector?

PRIAM
What Hector says makes sense. I would like to argue against it, but I find no fault in what he says.

CASSANDRA
If that is true…then I could have done nothing? It was my fate to watch my people die?

PRIAM
Perhaps it was…but that is something we will never know for sure. What you seem to forget, my dear daughter, is that Troy has fallen. It is done. Any impact you could have made or mistakes you think you could have rectified make no difference. The past has been set down in stone, and no mortal force can change that. Do not apologize for what you think you should have done. Rather, look at what you can do now. You have a gift, Cassandra, that is raw and not yet honed. Channel that gift, realize its potential, and use it so that this…doesn’t happen again.

CASSANDRA
…is that what I needed? Simply to hear you say what I knew was the truth? I do not know what miracle, divine or natural, has brought you to me today, father, brother…but I am grateful for it. Your wisdom persists, Lord Priam, even past your untimely demise, and I heed it still.

PRIAM
I am glad that my words still hold some meaning for you, my daughter.

CASSANDRA
Of course, father. You were my inspiration in life. You…meant the world to me.

PRIAM
…and in my hubris, I shunned you.

CASSANDRA
That’s not what I meant–

PRIAM
No, I understand. Forgive me, Cassandra. You are family. You are my daughter. I should have never turned away from you.

HECTOR
Agreed. I, too, am sorry for what I have done, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
You had no choice. That is my curse. You cannot believe me. You do not need to apologize for what happened. It too…is in the past.

HECTOR
Regardless, I am ashamed that I did not side with you.

PRIAM
It is a powerful curse indeed that would have such an effect…(PRIAM suddenly looks at his hands.) I…I feel the pull. I’m being called to Hades.

CASSANDRA
Father? You must leave so quickly?

PRIAM
It would seem so. It appears that I was waiting for you to return.

CASSANDRA
Then please, stay longer! I am not ready for you to go!

PRIAM
Forgive me, Cassandra. I must…

CASSANDRA
Father, no! Father, please wait!

(PRIAM disappears.)

CASSANDRA

He…is gone. (She turns to HECTOR.) At least you are still here, Hector. You do not feel the pull as well?

HECTOR
No, sister. I remain.

CASSANDRA
Then you still feel like you have failed us?

HECTOR
Look around you, Cassandra. This is what I see every day. Corpses of my people and our homes. How can I think otherwise?

CASSANDRA
I am still here and alive.

HECTOR
You, mother, my love Andromache…and Helen. You four are the remnants of Troy.

CASSANDRA
Do you hate her?

HECTOR
She was the love of my brother. I cannot hate her. But…I wish she had never come here. I wish she had never existed.

CASSANDRA
I understand what you mean, Hector. But she is not responsible for what happened. The gods came in their unknowable ways, cast a spell on her, and brought her here. She loved Paris, truly, and despised Menelaus. She did not wish harm on any of us.

HECTOR
That is true. She was a kind soul, and I saw how she wept with the others at my death.

CASSANDRA
She weeps still for Troy. In her heart.

HECTOR
Truly?

CASSANDRA
Indeed. (Pause.) I think you are a hero, Hector.

HECTOR
(Scoffs.) Please do not patronize me, sister.

CASSANDRA
Hector. You gave your life for us. I will never forget what you did. None of us will, alive or not.

HECTOR
I still failed.

CASSANDRA
But you did what needed to be done. You faced insurmountable odds. Lesser men would have fled, but you stood your ground and fought. It doesn’t matter that you ultimately fell. What matters is that you protected the weak and upheld your duties.

HECTOR
I did…I fought with all my strength. I fought with my dying breath. I fought until I could not move my limbs. (Pause.) Do you forgive me?

CASSANDRA
There is nothing to forgive, Hector. You are my brother and I love you. You could never do anything wrong in my eyes…and you still cannot. (Tears form in her eyes.)

HECTOR
Please…do not cry for me, Cassandra. I could not…I could not bear it.

(HECTOR reaches out to dry CASSANDRA’s eyes, but he vanishes before he reaches her.)


To be continued…

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CASSANDRA: Part 3

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2nd, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan

ACT ONE

Scene Two (cont.)

CASSANDRA
…indeed it is. I pay the price now for what I did not do, rather than what I did.

HELEN
I see. But I still do not understand. Why do you come to me?

CASSANDRA
I seek…finality.

HELEN
What?

CASSANDRA
I…have evaded fate. I should have died at the hands of Agamemnon’s scorned wife. Now I am lost. Stuck between what is and what should have been.

HELEN\
I’m not sure I understand…

CASSANDRA
Fate wove me a web, and I fell off of it, tricky fly that I am. But all I have known is that insidious spider’s home. This place in the fog is new to me, alien and unknown.

HELEN
Cassandra, I…

(MENELAUS can be heard from offstage.)

MENELAUS
Helen!

HELEN
Ugh, the bastard returns.

(CASSANDRA replaces her veil as MENELAUS enters.)

MENELAUS
Helen, are you still sulking here? (He sees CASSANDRA.) Oh! (His demeanor immediately changes.) My sweet, you did not tell me you were expecting guests!

HELEN
My dear, this is…a traveler. From a distant land.

MENELAUS
A traveler, hm? What’s your name, traveler?

CASSANDRA
…Athena.

MENELAUS
Ha! A god walks amongst us, my sweet!

CASSANDRA
I tell fortunes.

MENELAUS
Oh? I have heard of a fortune teller from the now destroyed Troy, a mad prophetess whom my brother took as a trophy. Know you of Cassandra?

CASSANDRA
…The only one I know of that holds the gift of prophecy is myself.

MENELAUS
Hm, I see. Well then, Athena, tell me my fortune!

(HELEN steals a pleading look at CASSANDRA.)

CASSANDRA
As you wish, my lord.

(CASSANDRA makes a show of feeling MENELAUS’ temples and chanting loudly. She then stops and withdraws.)

CASSANDRA
I see…I see a green garden under a cloudless, blue sky. I see your enemies all around you, knees bent as they pay homage. I see a feast, with each of your friends and loved ones, past, present, and some you do not yet even know seated at the table, all toasting your name. I see you, aged but still full of health, laughing and drinking, never a smile fading from your lips. Then…I see you close your eyes and drift into an eternal sleep, still smiling.

MENELAUS
You see all of that?

CASSANDRA
Indeed. I see a life never devoid of happiness.

MENELAUS
Incredible! You hear that, my queen? A life full of happiness. Surely then this Trojan War was the last of my troubles!

CASSANDRA
It would seem so, my lord.

MENELAUS
Truly a remarkable gift you have, dear Athena. Go on, then! Divine my queen’s fate.

(CASSANDRA and HELEN exchange a glance.)

HELEN
My husband, surely our fates are intertwined-

MENELAUS
Oh come, my love, don’t be so bashful! Athena, read her fortune.

CASSANDRA
…very well, my lord.

(CASSANDRA goes to HELEN, again making a spectacle of chanting and feeling HELEN’s temples. Then she takes a step back and clears her throat.)

CASSANDRA
I see…I see dear Queen Helen falling in love…with the one she has married. Too often royal marriages are out of pacts of power and land rather than the true value of love, but Helen and Menelaus soon will find a way to claim the heart of the other.

MENELAUS
Is that so? Truly a happy fortune then! I already love my dear Helen, but it is heartening to hear that she will feel the same soon enough. What do you see after that?

CASSANDRA
I…am unsure. It would appear that the rest of Helen’s fate is untold.

MENELAUS
What do you mean? The gods divine our fates the moments we are born. How can Helen’s fate be in question?

CASSANDRA
Perhaps she has the chance to change it.

MENELAUS
Why would she want to change it? She is the queen to the most powerful king in the world! She has everything she would ever want here!

CASSANDRA
Forgive me, my lord. I did not mean to say that Helen would want to change her fate, only that she the ability to do so.

MENELAUS
And I do not?

CASSANDRA
The vision I received of your fate was complete, my king. The messages of the gods are…often inscrutable.

MENELAUS
(Quickly regaining his composure.)…you are right, my dear. The gods are strange and incomprehensible, and it is a rare gift indeed that you are to interpret their messages as well as you can. (He digs into his pockets and presses a few coins into CASSANDRA’s hand.) Thank you for your gift, Athena. May the gods bless you on your wanderings. (He turns to HELEN.) Helen, I am going to retire now. I expect you will be joining me soon, so ah…please do not tarry too long.

HELEN
As you wish, my king.

(MENELAUS takes another look at CASSANDRA, then exits. CASSANDRA slowly removes her veil.)

HELEN
None of that was true, was it?

CASSANDRA
Of course not. How ironic that the only time someone believes my visions is the time that I have told an utter lie.

HELEN
What did you really see?

CASSANDRA
(A slight smile.) You wouldn’t believe me.

HELEN
No, I…suppose I wouldn’t. I do not, however, see myself falling in love with that man.

CASSANDRA
Neither do I. Even a lie can have truth in it. Your fate is indeed your own if you wish to change it.

HELEN
Change it? But the last time I tried to change it, terrible things happened.

CASSANDRA
The last time the gods were involved. This time it is just you and me. Helen…I changed my fate. You can as well. I can’t tell you what I saw, but I can assure you that your happiness was not a part of it.

HELEN
Will I become like you? Out of sorts with the world? Why are you trying to help me, Cassandra? I, the reason for your people’s demise?

CASSANDRA
I…want to help…because…

HELEN
Because you couldn’t help them. Is that it? You couldn’t help the people of Troy, because they would not believe you. Now you want to help me, because I do believe you?

CASSANDRA
Yes! How do you think it feels, to plead with your own family until your throat is raw and your voice gone just to be laughed at? I tried! I tried to help! I saw the flames approaching, the murder and blood, and I could do nothing!

HELEN
…you blame yourself, don’t you? For what happened?

CASSANDRA
No. What happened was not my fault. I blame myself because I did nothing to prevent it.

HELEN
Cassandra, what could you have done? The people did not, could not believe you. What more-

CASSANDRA
I could have tried! I could have done something, anything! Instead I hid, sunk into insanity and depression. When I emerged from my haze, my people were decimated. I…failed.

HELEN
What happened was not your fault, Cassandra. If anyone is to blame, it is me.

CASSANDRA
I could have made them believe! Like you!

HELEN
I only believe you because I have proof, Cassandra. If I did not have that, I wouldn’t be able to believe you either. (CASSANDRA is silent.) Cassandra…what happened in Troy…whether you want to change it or not, it is done. It is in the past and cannot be changed.

CASSANDRA
I know, Helen…but I only wish…if I could so easily read the future, why is it I cannot also change the past?

HELEN
You have a gift, Cassandra, a strange and powerful gift. Unfortunately, that gift only works one way. Your people…they are gone now. But their spirits do not resent you. They do not blame you for what happened. You were merely a bystander, a survivor of a terrible tragedy. Do not blame yourself.

CASSANDRA
…you are right. I cannot change the past…but I can influence the future, if I put my mind to it. Helen…thank you.

(CASSANDRA embraces HELEN.)

HELEN
You are welcome…Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
You were once my sister, Helen. In my mind…you still are.

HELEN
I…thank you.

CASSANDRA
I should go now. Menelaus is expecting you.

HELEN
Where shall you go, Cassandra?

CASSANDRA
I am not sure where my path leads. However, I wish to return to Troy, to pay my respects.

HELEN
A pleasant journey to you, then. If you need my help, never fear to ask me. I will do everything in my power to assist you.

(CASSANDRA bows slightly.)

CASSANDRA
Thank you, sister. And farewell.

HELEN
Farewell…sister.

(HELEN exits. CASSANDRA turns to leave, then suddenly turns back.)

CASSANDRA
What was that, sister? (Pause.) She is gone. Strange, I thought I heard…

(CASSANDRA suddenly looks afraid. She hurriedly exits. BLACKOUT)

More to come!

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CASSANDRA: Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4th, 2013 by admin

Here’s another installment of Bryce Duzan’s CASSANDRA play, which we’re serializing this year to help build your appetite for the festival in November. Enjoy!

CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan

ACT ONE

Scene 1 (cont.)

CASSANDRA
I see those forms moving before me, even now. The soldiers slaughtering each other, the women and children sobbing, lives being snuffed out. The war dragged on and on for years, but for me it was one bloody, endless night. Here I see my beloved brother—our beloved champion—Hector, being laid low by Achilles. There I see the champions of Greece hiding in a wooden steed, ready to pounce on a Troy in the throes of supposed victory. And here, I see Paris ending the bright spark of Achilles, even so shortly after he had won his revenge…

CLYTEMNESTRA
“Bright spark?” Shouldn’t you hate Achilles for what he did to Troy? To your brother?

(At this point, the bodies of the dead rise as restless spirits and depart the “battlefield.”)

CASSANDRA
In this history, yes. But before I saw them die, I saw a glimpse of another history that could have been. I saw Hector and Achilles, fighting side by side, exploring the world, achieving their destinies…but it was not to be. Their lives were snuffed out before their time was due, ended by a foolish war started by foolish people.

CLYTEMNESTRA
What else do you see?

CASSANDRA
I see my family being cut down. I see my once-sister, Helen, being taken by her husband, full of wrath and jealousy. And then I see…nothing more.

(In truth, a lone figure enters, watching CASSANDRA closely.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
Nothing?

CASSANDRA
Nothing.

(CASSANDRA and the lone figure watch each other, then the figure departs.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
I see.

(There is another pause.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
I should go back to the palace. You are free to go.

CASSANDRA
Thank you.

CLYTEMNESTRA
I am sorry for what has happened to you. I know not what you will do now, but I hope…I hope that you find peace.

CASSANDRA
I hope that you shall as well.

(CLYTEMNESTRA nods, then leaves. CASSANDRA watches her go. She then lets out a sigh of relief.)

CASSANDRA
I am free! And that blessed fog that covers my thoughts is back as well. Thank the…but Clytemnestra is right. Where shall I go? What shall I do with my new freedom? The world itself is open, and yet…it is unknown to me. In fact…in all the world right now, there is only one person I know that is still alive and I can easily find. But…would she even want to speak to me? In Troy, I saw into her eyes the night of the conquest. She understood where all others rejected my sight. Yes…she will help me. I should prepare to leave-(She looks around.) Is someone there?

(Pause.)

CASSANDRA
Strange. I thought I heard someone call my name. It floated gently upon the wind…(She suddenly looks frightened.) This place isn’t safe…I must go.

(CASSANDRA exits.)

(BLACKOUT)

SCENE 2

(The palace of MENELAUS. A gaudy, lavish throne room. MENELAUS and HELEN sit arguing.)

MENELAUS
So what do I have to do? Must I execute every man who enters my court?

HELEN
You are imagining things, my husband. He did not “make eyes” at me, and I certainly did not pay him any special attention. He simply greeted me, as is customary.

MENELAUS
Bah! Say what you will, I know what I saw! And I will not have you traipsing off with the first young man who strides into my throne room. Not again!

HELEN
Fine then, perhaps you will have me wear a blindfold, so that none may look into my eyes? Or perhaps a mask, so none may see my face? Will you still execute them for giving me a questioning look, wondering why the Queen of Sparta wears a mask? Will you still kill them in jealous rage for looking upon a beauty that they cannot see? Go on, then! Kill them all! Kill every man who helped you get me back, for surely they only served you for a decade because each and every one of them had their eye on me too!

MENELAUS
Enough of this! If I had known my wife had been replaced with a harpy, I would have left you to rot in Troy!

(MENELAUS exits, with HELEN shouting after him. CASSANDRA enters, veiled, watching this.)

HELEN
Left me in Troy?! You were responsible for hundreds of deaths, of your friends and your enemies, of soldiers and of innocents, and all you can say is that you should have left me in Troy?! You sicken me, you monster! You heartless wretch! I hope you get what’s in store for you! I hope you fall into Hades, and every soul you have wronged each tears you to pieces and devours you! You-

CASSANDRA
It is not becoming of the queen to curse her king, least of all not in public.

(HELEN whirls around.)

HELEN
Who are you?

CASSANDRA
A simple traveler, from a far-away land.

HELEN
Please, leave me be, I do not need my fortune told today.

(She makes to leave.)

CASSANDRA
What an oddly prescient thing to say.

(HELEN stops and turns back to CASSANDRA.)

HELEN
Do I know you?

CASSANDRA
An interesting question. What does it mean to truly know someone?

HELEN
Do I know your name, then?

CASSANDRA
Indeed, you have known it, though I’m sure it’s a name that you have not uttered in many months.

HELEN
It can’t be…

(HELEN reaches out and removes CASSANDRA’s veil.)

HELEN
Cassandra…!

(HELEN embraces CASSANDRA, who slowly reciprocates the gesture.)

HELEN
Gods above, it’s really you! You’re alive! I was so worried…

CASSANDRA
Yes, I live. As far as I know.

HELEN
What happened to you? After the siege…

CASSANDRA
I was taken by the one named Agamemnon.

HELEN
I know him. He is Menelaus’ brother.

CASSANDRA
Was.

HELEN
What? He’s dead? How? You didn’t-

CASSANDRA
No. Not I. His wife, Clytemnestra, was the one who did him in.

HELEN
Menelaus will be furious when he hears. So you must have escaped?

CASSANDRA
Yes. She meant to kill me too, but I managed to convince her to let me go. And now I am here.

HELEN
Have you heard from others? Other survivors?

(CASSANDRA remains silent.)

HELEN
I see.

CASSANDRA
No word. I fear the worst for them all.

HELEN
I’m sorry, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
As am I. Their deaths were meaningless.

HELEN
…what brings you here?

CASSANDRA
Helen. You are the only one I know who has survived.

HELEN
It would seem that way. Do you need a place to stay? I’m sure I can provide you with-

CASSANDRA
No. I cannot stay here, especially if your husband figures out my relation to Agamemnon.

HELEN
You’re probably right. Then…what can I do for you?

CASSANDRA
You know what I was known for in my homeland.

HELEN
I have heard things, yes.

CASSANDRA
Then you know my condition.

HELEN
I suppose. I don’t know what you’re getting at, Cassandra.

CASSANDRA
Please, Helen. I saw into your eyes, I saw that hint of recognition that finally broke through the curse…I dictated everything that would happen to Troy. Everything!

HELEN
Cassandra, what are you talking about? You’re starting to frighten me…

CASSANDRA
Helen…I can see that which has not yet come to pass. I can see into the future.

(HELEN balks, laughing slightly.)

HELEN
Wh…what? You jest…and here I thought you were serious!

(CASSANDRA takes HELEN by the arms and looks into her eyes.)

CASSANDRA
No, Helen, listen to me. You were there when I declared that Troy would burn. And you saw me that terrible night when it happened. I looked into your eyes, and I saw that you understood. Don’t turn away from me now. Please. You know that I was right.

(HELEN squirms, physically reacting to what she is being told.)

HELEN
You…you are right. You described everything…down to the last detail. It only struck me as the soldiers of Greece breached the walls that it was your words that were ringing in my ears. But…that’s impossible. Nobody can tell the future.

CASSANDRA
You can. If you were touched by a god.

HELEN
A god? Truly? You’ve been blessed by a god?

CASSANDRA
Not blessed, no. Cursed. By Apollo. I am doomed to tell the future and no man, woman, or child shall believe me.

HELEN
By Apollo? But why?

CASSANDRA
He…told me that he loved me. But I could not love him back.

HELEN
You rebuked him.

CASSANDRA
I had to! He is a god. Our lives mean nothing to them. We live and die in the time it takes a god to blink. I could give myself to him, be his plaything, and then be tossed aside when he had grown bored of me. Or I could have refused him. Either way, I paid the price.

HELEN
It is truly a terrible thing to catch the attention of the gods, no matter how “pure” their intentions may seem. My dear Paris could attest to that…judge our contest, win the woman of your dreams…they forgot to say that he’d also cause a war that would end in his people’s demise.

More to come!

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CASSANDRA: Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized on February 4th, 2013 by admin

Starting today we’ll be featuring an ongoing serial about Cassandra, written by long-time SF Olympians associate, Bryce Duzan. Bryce’s proposal for Cassandra wasn’t picked for this year’s festival, but it was such a close second we knew we wanted to hear his take on the story too. So, for the first time ever, the SF Olympians Website will feature monthly content by this talented young writer as he works his way through the first draft of his play, and gets us ready for those twelve nights in November when this year’s writers will unleash their own versions of the Trojan War. Enjoy!


CASSANDRA

by Bryce Duzan

ACT ONE

Scene 1

(The outdoors. CASSANDRA sits by the edge of a lake. Her clothes are simple. She stares into her reflection in the lake, as if studying herself. Her face is passive, but there is a hint of surprise present as well.)

CASSANDRA
I don’t understand. Before, I felt like I trailed behind history, like a shadow. I never saw the things that happened around me, I only saw ahead. And now, just minutes before, I saw myself walk into that room…saw the hands around my throat…felt the blade in my heart. I was…afraid. I knew that my death was at hand. I knew that my time had come. I could feel my legs straining, beginning to propel my body forward…but something changed. Inside of me. I turned and ran. Ran as fast as my legs could carry me. Until I was far out of the palace. Now…now I feel a fog around my mind. I can’t see ahead anymore. And it feels… so magical. I can finally see, really see what’s around myself. The cool water (She splashes the surface of the lake), the vibrant colors of nature around me. It is all so beautiful. And so…peaceful. Yes, my mind feels peace once again. It’s been so very long. But…I still don’t understand. Why did I run? What changed? Why did I do the opposite of what I saw when every time before I have followed my vision? What…(She looks up.) it comes again.

(CLYTEMNESTRA enters in the direction of where CASSANDRA now looks. She is regal, wearing a dress that would normally be considered beautiful, but is now smeared with blood.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
Ahh, there you are. You ran so far away from me.

CASSANDRA
And you followed me.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Indeed. I came to finish what I started.

CASSANDRA
What you started?

CLYTEMNESTRA
You know what happened to my husband. And now you know too much. I have to make sure that you won’t tell anyone.

CASSANDRA
(Aside.) Oh gods, they’re back. The visions. I see her lover. He is only a few seconds away. Once he arrives, they will both kill me here, by the lake. My blood will drain into its waters, and I will join nature here. I am…so tired. So why does my body strain against these visions of death? What makes me want to press on? If…if I can convince her that I’m not a threat…maybe she will let me live. (CASSANDRA slowly
stands and speaks to CLYTEMNESTRA.) And what makes you think that I will tell someone what I know? What makes you think I care what happened to Agamemnon? And even if I did tell someone, do you think they’d believe me? I’m a foreigner. Beyond that, I’m insane, remember? A fallen priestess who thinks she can see the future.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Even so, you were my husband’s concubine! You laid before him and destroyed our marriage!

CASSANDRA
I never touched the man! I have never given myself to anyone, and I will stay that way. Agamemnon is no exception.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Why did he bother to bring you back to Greece, then?

CASSANDRA
As a trophy, I suspect. “The Insane Prophet of Troy.” I was supposed to be a setpiece, a piece of treasure taken from the war.

CLYTEMNESTRA
…Suppose I were to believe what you say. What do you propose, then?

CASSANDRA
Let me live. Let me live and I will leave this city. I have no place here as it is.

CLYTEMNESTRA
And where will you go? Your home of Troy is now destroyed, its people scattered, if not slaughtered.

CASSANDRA
I’m aware. I know not where I will go. I suppose I will try to find my lost kin…if any still live.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Tell me…what happened at Troy? Agamemnon did not speak of it.

CASSANDRA
(CASSANDA turns away.) It…was a terrible tragedy. My people were brave, but bravery does not win wars. In the end, the reward for their bravery was only death. I saw them cut down before me, bodies piled high, flames licking the friends and family I once knew so well…twice. I saw it once with my mind, then again with my eyes. Imagine…seeing the ones you love die before you. Not once, but twice.

(There is a pause. CASSANDRA cries softly. CLYTEMNESTRA does not know what to say. A silence passes between them for several seconds. Suddenly, AEGISTHUS enters, wielding a knife stained red with blood. He immediately sees CASSANDRA.)

AEGISTHUS
So you’ve caught her here, my love? Very well. Then let us end this. (He begins to walk towards CASSANDRA. Silently, CLYTEMNESTRA puts a hand to his chest, stopping him.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
No.

AEGISTHUS
What? But you told me she has to die!

CLYTEMNESTRA
She has convinced me otherwise.

AEGISTHUS
And you would believe the lies that this-

CLYTEMNESTRA
(CLYTEMNESTRA glares at AEGISTHUS.) She has suffered enough.

AEGISTHUS
Suffered? How has she suffered compared to the way that the lying Agamemnon has caused you to suffer?

CLYTEMNESTRA
Aegisthus, enough. Go back to the palace. And…and clean yourself up.

(AEGISTHUS looks at himself, then at CLYTEMNESTRA, then to CASSANDRA.)

AEGISTHUS
…fine.

(He marches off. CLYTEMNESTRA looks back to CASSANDRA.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
You must think me very petty to say I have suffered compared to what you’ve gone through. Agamemnon killed my first husband and our child and forced me to become his wife. But I can’t imagine that that can compare to…to…

CASSANDRA
I think you quite the opposite, actually. I think you are quite brave to stand up to someone like Agamemnon…even if your methods are not to my liking.

CLYTEMNESTRA
I was backed into a corner. I hope that one day, if the same were to happen to you, you might find a better way of solving it. But…thank you. I don’t think anyone has called me brave before. How strange! To think that I was going to kill you merely minutes before, and now you are complimenting me!

CASSANDRA
Strange indeed.

CLYTEMNESTRA
I…am sorry. I didn’t know. I just…saw you with him and I flew into a rage. I had no idea–

CASSANDRA
Don’t apologize. You did what you thought was needed to be done. You were backed into a corner.

CLYTEMNESTRA
But if I had only known…

CASSANDRA
Then Agamemnon would still be alive. That man of cruelty would go unpunished for his deeds, and things would continue as they had before. I may not agree with your choice of punishment, but I do agree with justice. What you did was just. That is all.

(Another silence passes between them.)

CLYTEMNESTRA
I’d like to know more about Troy. About what happened there.

CASSANDRA
I…I don’t know if I can tell you.

CLYTEMNESTRA
I know that it is difficult for you, but all I have heard are rumors and hearsay. I want to know the truth.

CASSANDRA
The truth…the truth is hazy, itself shrouded in rumor.

CLYTEMNESTRA
You do remember what happened, though?

CASSANDRA
As if it were yesterday. The spirits of the dead follow me, whispering their stories. I could not forget them if I tried.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Then, please. Tell me.

CASSANDRA
If that is what you wish.

(Suddenly, the once serene setting explodes with action, as the siege of Troy plays out in front of CASSANDRA and CLYTEMNESTRA. Warriors battle, citizens run screaming in terror, and the sound of fire rages as CASSANDRA’s memories play out in front of her.)

Keep checking in every month for more installments!

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