All the World's My Stage
by H. L. Liptak
About the Play:
Three class-room tested, side-splitting comedies take middle and high school students on a tour of history, culture, geography, and literature. Perfect for stage and classroom. "Something to Believe In": Nick and Nicki, two of Prometheus' freshly formed mortals, discover just how dangerous the world beyond their experience can be. Fortunately, Zeus has ordered Hermes to keep an eye on them. "Return to Venice": Marco Polo, after 17 years in the service of the emperor Kublai Khan, travels from the heart of the Mongol court across pirate-infested seas, through Persia and India, along Silk Road, eventually arriving back in Italy Polo's long journey is fraught with danger and most of his cohorts lose their way on the trek home. "Mystery of the Pirates Cave": A hidden cave filled with hidden treasure? Or a vortex to an unseen world? Whichever, it is the scene of pirate plots, mermaids meddling, and 20th Century bootleggers.
The author providfes copious notes and connections to Academic Standards.
From the Plays:
SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN
Lights up. Nick is standing there, kicking at a rock as Nicki enters.
NICKI: Good-morning, Nick.
NICKI: What’s the matter with you this morning?
NICK: Nothing. (Shrugging grumpily)
NICKI: Okay. (Nonchalantly)
NICK: All right, if you must know. Everything.
NICKI: Everything? First nothing, now everything?
NICK: Everything! This (waves hand around at everything) is all pointless. I’m bored. I’m tired. Nobody listens to me, nobody cares what I want.
NICK: Okay? (disgusted) Why did I even think you’d get it? No one understands.
NICKI: What’s to understand? We wake up, we eat, we talk, we work, we sleep. We wake up...
NICK: Exactly! Same old thing, every single day since the day we were created. Why can’t we do something different once in a while? Like today. (pause) Let’s get out of here. Today.
NICKI: Okay. But where do we go? What else is there?
NICK: I say we go out there and find out. Right now. This very minute.
NICK: (astonished) Okay? We’re just going out there? Out into the unknown? Do you really think that’s a good idea?
NICKI: Sure. Why not? What have we got to lose?
NICK: Exactly! We go out there and we, well, we just go out there.
NICKI: I’m right behind you.
NICK: But wait. Maybe we need to take some stuff. Maybe we need a plan.
NICKI: Okay. (pause) What’s the plan?
NICK: I don’t know! Why are you asking me? I don’t even know what’s out there.
NICKI: Okay. Who can we ask? Who’s got a plan?
NICK: Has Prometheus made any new mortals?
NICKI: Like us? I’m not sure.
NICK: Maybe the new ones have a plan.
NICKI: Probably not. We were pretty clueless when he first made us out of clay.
NICK: (Sighing) It took days for us to get as smart as we are now. Oh man! I don’t want to wait for new humans to wise up. I am, like, way bored now. Let’s just go. (starts to exit)
NICK: (stops suddenly) But what if there’s monsters and stuff? Like cyclops and furies and, and, things? And what about food! Is there food out there? And...
NICKI: So what you’re saying is, we need a plan?
NICK: An escape plan. We need an escape plan.
NICKI: So ask the gods.
NICK: Like that would work. They’re the ones I want to escape from. They are messed up! Always bossing everyone and threatening Prometheus because he made us. They’re just mean.
NICKI: Well, we haven’t known them very long. Maybe there’s more to them than we’ve seen so far.
NICK: Such as?
NICKI: I don’t know, but they seem pretty powerful. If they help us it will be easy to get away. Maybe we can appeal to their better nature.
NICK: I don’t think they have a better nature. They don’t particularly like us; they don’t even like each other very much. They’re always arguing and throwing thunder bolts and things around.
NICKI: But they like it when we offer them stuff. Maybe we can bribe them to help us. Maybe there’s something they want out there that we can pretend to go get for them.
NICK: Yeah! They’d, like, send us on a quest, and give us supplies, and protection, and directions. Think they’d go for it?
NICKI: You never know. It’s worth a shot.
NICK: Let’s go ask them. Come on!
NICKI: Right behind you. (They exit. Lights out)
Lights up on Mt. Olympus platform. Hera, Athena and Aphrodite are watching the mortals.
HERA: They are amusing little creatures. I can see why Prometheus likes to make them.
ATHENA: He oversteps his bounds! These wretched mortals are sure to cause us a great deal more trouble than amusement when all is said and done.
RETURN TO VENICE
Lights up on a bare cell with a ragged man sitting in one corner. Luigi the jailer brings in Marco and throws him into the cell with Rustichello. Luigi shouts at him in Italian as he throws him in.
RUSTICHELLO: Welcome to my humble abode.
MARCO: Thank you, I think.
RUSTICHELLO: So what are you in for?
MARCO: Who, me? I’m from Venice. At war with Genoa. So, you know… wrong place, wrong time. (pause a beat) What about you?
RUSTICHELLO: Same. Except I’m from Pisa. My name’s Rustichello.
MARCO: Nice to meet you. I’m Marco.
RUSTICHELLO: That’s it? You’re not going to make a joke about my name? Rusty cello or something?
MARCO: Why would I do that? I have heard odder names in my time.
RUSTICHELLO: Everyone makes stupid jokes about my name.
MARCO: That doesn’t make it right. Rustichello’s a good Italian name, and I haven’t heard too many of those recently. At least it’s not Marco Polo. That sounds like some kind of game. With horses, or maybe a swimming pool.
RUSTICHELLO: Where have you been that you haven’t heard Italian names in a while?
MARCO: Where haven’t I been? Until recently I was a clerk at the Mongol court in the East. At the moment I find myself unemployed.
RUSTICHELLO: The Mongol court in Cathay? You have returned recently?
MARCO: Fairly recently. Readjusting is difficult. I keep wondering what’s happening in all those faraway places I lived; places the rest of Christendom never even dreams about.
RUSTICHELLO: You must have lots of unbelievable stories about the Orient.
MARCO: Sure. And no one believes them.
RUSTICHELLO: Oh, I don’t know. You’d be surprised at what people believe. Anyway, you’ll never know unless you tell the stories, right?
MARCO: I guess so. What is it you do, anyway, signore?
RUSTICHELLO: Oh, me? I’m a writer. So tell me.
MARCO: Tell you? Tell you 20 years of my life, just like that? I wouldn’t know where to begin.
RUSTCHELLO: Why did you go? What wondrous things did you see? Why did you return?
MARCO: Why did I return? I suppose I could begin there.
Lights out on cell. Bare stage, girl runs on stage.
She is Princess Kokachin’s maid, Ling, who looking everywhere for her. She looks around frantically and then starts calling for the Princess.
LING: Princess Kokachin! Princess Kokachin! Where are you? Your uncle will be here any minute. You have to be ready! (no response) Great! Just great! Kublai Khan, head of the Yuan Dynasty will be here in mere moments. He expects to be greeted by his adoring niece and she is nowhere to be found! She won’t show up and I’ll be blamed. Will she care? No! Does it matter to her that my family reigned for a thousand years while hers was dragging their yurts through the dirt? No! In come the Mongols and out go the Sung!
MYSTERY OF THE PIRATES CAVE
Curtains open on pirate’s cave. Fog machine, red lights come up slowly. Voice begins:
The cave. A cavity inside the earth. Whether carved into existence by the slow, gradual action of water, or ripped open by the violent upheaval of tectonic displacement, caves have served humankind in various capacities since time immemorial. But caves are ambiguous spaces. A cave can offer protection and shelter, but it can just as easily trap and imprison.
At certain times great concentrations of energy, powerful enough to create illness and death or bestow healing and strength, have been known to coalesce in specific geographical locations. Such a place is called a vortex. Legends and folklore are full of the stories of the strange and miraculous things that happen when a cave is opened up at the location of a vortex.
This is one of those stories.
Rowdy pirates enter through audience singing, carrying huge treasure chest. Lights up as they go onstage. Try to open chest, dance around singing pirate songs and sea chanteys, First Mate enters.
DOMINGO: Avast there, ye stumbling sons of a sea monkey! The Captain will be coming soon and he'd best not find you lolly-gagging about like a bunch of moonstruck landlubbers. (All exit, muttering, except for Dom, Bloodbrine, Peso and Trevor)
BLOODBRINE: Avast yourself, Saldana! We're only celebrating our good fortune! There's not a man jack of us who ever laid eyes on so fine a treasure haul as this!
PESO: And without so much as a scratch to the crew! There'll be no need to deduct even a farthing for to pay off a wooden leg or a glass eyeball!
DOMINGO: Tis fortunate indeed that Captain Jed's name strikes such fear in the hearts of those cowardly Spaniards!
PESO: No such thing! I'll wager tis the sight of the Merry Widow's flag flying from the mizzen mast that got us such an easy prize.
DOMINGO: Or maybe just the sight of you, Peso, struck them numb with terror.
BLOODBRINE: Peso has the right of it! And that there chest must be full to the top with pieces of eight, so heavy she is! I'm off to the Dry Tortugas and The Painted Pony grog shop when I gets my share!
TREVOR: Aye! The Painted Pony! A few of these doubloons will buy a fine present for that pretty little senorita who waits for me there.
PESO: That's the only reason any senorita would wait for you, Trevor. Pretty or otherwise. (All laugh)
TREVOR: Well, at least I’m worth more than a peso, Peso!
PESO: (pulling his knife) I'll wager my worth with a knife against your doubloons anytime.
TREVOR: Easy, bucko! I was just having a little fun!
PESO: No one has fun at the expense of Peso Perez. How I got my name is none of your affair. It had best not be referred to again or it’ll be a short walk and a sudden stop for someone.
DOMINGO: Get the men to stow this treasure safe and sound or it will be the cat for you all.