|Playbill illustration by Steve Johnson.|
In summer of 1984, for the Summer Theatre Institute (studio theater production) resident playwright Thomas W. Olson teamed up with resident composer/music director Alan Shorter and acting artistic director Jon Cranney to create a "newsmagazine" theatre piece dealing with The Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was later developed for adult participation and presented on the CTC mainstage in winter of 1988.
Highlight the links below and then download the files to listen to audio clips of musical moments from the mainstage production, a mixture of traditional Irish songs and new works by composer/lyricist Alan Shorter and playwright/lyricist Thomas W. Olson:
History Lesson (partial):
Bold Fenian Men (Vocal by Erin J. O'Brien) :
"Hollywood Squares" Intro.:
The Last Rose of Summer:
The Bright Side:
The Patriot Game:
Ten Little Soldier Boys:
Anthem (curtain call):
The Troubles: Children of Belfast
(Preset on rubble. Proscenium "curtain" of 20-foot-high corrugated steel: a "peace wall" in Belfast, marred with graffiti.
Blackout. A shout in the darkness, simultaneous with the striking of a match.)
LEPRECHAUN. (Loudly.) Boo!
(Leprechaun, seated on stage apron, laughs as he lights his pipe. Lights gradually rise again on preset location. He addresses the audience directly, as will the entire cast, frequently, in the course of the play.)
Ohhh, did I give you a fright? Ah come, come --you've naught to fear in me; I'm only just a wee leprechaun, I am. How's that? You say I don't look like a leprechaun? You think I'm too big, do you? Yet compared to a giant, I'm small enough. Only now you're about sayin' that giants don't exist. And who told you such a tale? You see, if giants don't exist, then leprechauns certainly don't either -- only here I am, now aren't I?
Aye, folks'll go tellin' you all sorts of tales, startin' when you're just wee little people yourselves. And from then on, you're off comparin' things against what you were first taught to be real and true. Ah, but here I go, gettin' ahead o' meself... Believe whate'er you wish -- I am a leprechaun: one o' the wee fairy folk, the little people. Once upon a time, we were many, and ever so much bigger, aye! We were giants ourselves, long, long ago, when this here was a young, rare, sweet and peaceful island. Only then, one day, the common folk came and, not long after, the saints, who went about teaching people to believe in such things! -- altogether different.
(A shrug. He rises, emptying his pipe against his heel.)
So. With less and less folks believin'...we giants started quietly to fadin' away, dwindlin' smaller, smaller. Yet there are still a few of us remainin' -- here and there -- about Ireland.
Aye, that's what I said: "Ireland." (A nod to the corrugated steel barrier.) But you thought Ireland was all lovely green fields of shamrocks and quaint wee cottages, did you now?
(He raps against the barrier.)
Erected by the British after the civil rights violence in `69. The "peace line" they call it, dividin' two ghettos. Protestants live in "The Shankill" -- you might hear them called "Prod, Orangie, Hun, Loyalist." Catholics, they live in "The Falls." They've got their nicknames too: "Taig, Fenian, Mick, Republican." There now, already see how much you're learning different from what you thought you knew? And, dependin' on what you've been taught by your families, your schools, your churches -- I'll wager there's a few more things you may find surprisin' -- aye, even shockin'. Like now. Cover your ears! Quick!
(Immediately, a great explosion nearby, offstage.)
Now, now -- I warned you, didn't I? Most folks in Belfast aren't so lucky, gettin' told ahead o' time.
(In the distance, the sound of shouts, screams, cries, sirens.)
Speakin' o' time, I got to be on me way.
(At the proscenium.)
But what's all this commotion, you're wonderin'? Most call it: The Troubles.
(Continuous with preceding. Peace walls part as Cast of Children, Men and Women rush into the "street": two bombed out shells of rowhouses with rear-projection screen upstage center for environmental or editorial documentary images. A roving searchlight, coupled by sound and fans, suggests a helicopter hovering above the crowd; they regard it defiantly. It "flies" off. Cast slowly turn to face Audience. There is a gap of space in the center, dividing them into two groups. The Speakers may vary at director's discretion, unless specified.)
ENGLISH CHILD. (Quietly, without emotion.) The Troubles.
IRISH CHILD. What?
ENGLISH CHILD. (Previous.) The Troubles.
TWO IRISH GIRLS. (Sarcastic.) The Troubles.
ENGLISH CHILDREN & ADULTS. (To Irish.) The Troubles.
IRISH YOUTH. (Laughing.) The Troubles.
ENGLISH CHILDREN & ADULTS. (Forcefully, to Irish.) The Troubles!
IRISH CHILDREN & ADULTS. (Matching intensity, to English.)
ALL. (To Opponents.) The Troubles!
(Unless specified, the Cast addresses Audience again.)
IRISH CHILD. Been goin' on forever: The Troubles.
ENGLISH CHILD. Hundreds of years, at least.
IRISH CHILD. Was a time when all in Ireland were Catholic.
IRISH ADULTS & CHILDREN. (In unison, reverent.) God bless and keep Saint Patrick.
IRISH ADULT. Was a time when all in Ireland were Irish.
IRISH YOUTH. Erin go braugh.
ENGLISH ADULT. The year of our Lord 1169...
ENGLISH CHILDREN. The English invaded.
ENGLISH CHILD. And Henry the Second, King of England, declared himself King over Ireland too.
IRISH CHILD. The first of many English who would dare presume control over the Irish.
ENGLISH CHILD. Colonists immigrated...
THREE ENGLISH CHILDREN. ...ship upon ship of brave, loyal Englishmen!
IRISH CHILD. Within two generations, half our population was English.
IRISH CHILD. (Extending hand to an English Child.) Still, many Irish tried to share their land in peace. (English Child accepts hand. Immediately, another English separates them.)
ENGLISH ADULT. (To Fellow English.) Hold on! You colonists are becoming too Irish!
IRISH ADULTS & CHILDREN. (To English.) "Too Irish?!"
IRISH ADULT. And what in heaven's name is that supposed to mean?!
ENGLISH ADULT. The year of our Lord 1366... Statutes of Kilkenny.
IRISH CHILD. Statues?
ENGLISH CHILD. (A sigh, to Previous.) -Tutes! Statutes! Laws.
IRISH ADULT. (Clarifying.) English laws!
ENGLISH ADULT. (Previous.) Statutes of Kilkenny: English are forbidden to embrace the customs...
ENGLISH CHILD. ...language...
ENGLISH YOUTH. ...and fashion of the Irish.
ENGLISH ADULT. (Incredulous.) Irish fashion?!
ENGLISH CHILD. Forbade their music.
ENGLISH CHILD. Forbade their stories.
ENGLISH ADULT. Forbade their love in marriage.
IRISH ADULT. It is written: "Forbidding all others, keep only to yourselves."
IRISH ADULT. Racial segregation.
ENGLISH ADULT. By law.
IRISH ADULT. English law.
IRISH CHILD. Forbidding also their worship together.
ENGLISH CHILD. One God, one faith...
ENGLISH CHILD. Separate service.
IRISH ADULT. Religious segregation.
ENGLISH ADULT. By law.
IRISH ADULT. English law.
ENGLISH CHILD. Made all the more so by King Henry the Eighth.
IRISH ADULT. The year of our Lord 1540...
ENGLISH CHILD. King Henry creates a new religion: Church of England.
ENGLISH CHILD & IRISH CHILD. What?
PROTESTANTS. No more Pope tellin' us English what to do!
CATHOLIC CHILD. Yet few of the native Irish convert.
CATHOLIC YOUTH. Let their English Protestant souls be damned!
CATHOLIC CHILD. The true Irish faith remains in Rome.
CATHOLICS. (In unison.) Aye!
CATHOLIC CHILD. But at home, our lands and power dwindle...
PROTESTANT ADULT. 1607 -- the Ulster Plantation...
PROTESTANT CHILD. The King sends one hundred, fifty thousand English-Anglicans...
PROTESTANT CHILD. ...and Scots-Presbyterians...
CATHOLIC CHILD. ...yet another sort of foreigner...
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Interrupting.) ...Scottish...
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Resuming.) ...to serve under the English.
CATHOLIC CHILD. Yet another religion: Presbyterian...
CATHOLIC ADULT. Disapproved of, though tolerated, by Anglicans of great wealth, political influence and military power.
CATHOLIC CHILD. In other words, with the plantation, the Irish in the North...
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Interrupting.) ...in Ulster...
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Resuming.) ...had to struggle to keep hold of their land...
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Interrupting.) ...their only means of living...
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Resuming.) ...against the ever-increasing, greedy foreign settlers.
CATHOLIC CHILD. Like the colonization of America, and all them poor Indians...
CATHOLIC ADULT. (To CHILD.) Hush, darlin' -- that's another story altogether.
CATHOLIC ADULT. 1641 -- Ulster-Irish peasant uprising.
PROTESTANT CHILD. Thousands of British colonists: massacred.
PROTESTANT CHILD. England sends an army to defend the settlers.
CATHOLIC YOUTH. Irish are slaughtered.
CATHOLIC CHILD. Starved.
CATHOLIC CHILD. Exiled.
CATHOLIC CHILD. Even deported as slaves.
CATHOLIC YOUTH. And thus, the native Irish population is reduced by fully half.
CATHOLIC CHILD. But there is hope!
CATHOLIC CHILD. Not long after, King James the Second...
CATHOLICS. A Catholic!
CATHOLIC CHILD. (Resuming.) ...ascends the English throne and attempts to restore to the Irish their rights and land.
PROTESTANT YOUTH. We can't allow that!
PROTESTANT CHILD. We're all settled in!
PROTESTANT CHILD. So James is quickly deposed by our hero: the great Protestant King...
PROTESTANTS. William the Third! Prince of Orange! (Battle drum begins beating slowly to crescendo through the following.)
CATHOLIC CHILD. Only James, he runs to Ireland, hoping to win back the crown by raising up an army of Catholics.
CATHOLIC ADULT. Catholic army holds Ulster Protestants under seige.
PROTESTANT CHILD. We will not surrender!
PROTESTANTS. No surrender!
PROTESTANT CHILD. Thousands of Protestants die from disease and starvation!
PROTESTANT CHILD. Still we will not surrender!
PROTESTANTS. No surrender!
PROTESTANT CHILD. King William and his English army come to the rescue!
PROTESTANTS. Hurrah for King Billy! (Drums pause.)
PROTESTANT ADULT. 1690. Catholic defeat at the Battle of the Boyne.
CATHOLIC YOUTH. Thus England shall rule over Ireland's patriots with a blood-red hand about the poor wee island's neck.
PROTESTANT CHILD. (As drums resume.) The red hand of Ulster!
CATHOLIC CHILD. Again the Irish were punished for defending their own homeland.
CATHOLIC CHILD. More laws to limit civil rights and religious freedoms...
CATHOLIC YOUTH. ...imposed and enforced by a government not their own.
CATHOLIC CHILD. Laws to promote the few while forsaking the majority...
CATHOLIC CHILD. ...and perpetuate a hate for centuries to follow.
(Sung, accompanied by the battle drums.)
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END...
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END...
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END...
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END...
NOW ALL IRELAND'S DIVIDED IN TWO
CATHOLICS ADULT CATHOLIC
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... Two races: British or Irish.
PROTESTANTS ADULT PROTESTANT
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... Two faiths: Protestant or Catholic.
CATHOLICS ADULT PROTESTANT
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... Two causes: keep British rule or create anew a free Irish nation.
PROTESTANTS ADULT CATHOLIC
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... 1922. A troubled "compromise" -- two nations.
THE REPUBLIC IN THE SOUTH...
...HAS A CATH'LIC MAJORITY. CATHOLICS
THE SOUTH HAS A CATH'LIC MAJORITY FREE AT LAST
THE SOUTH HAS A CATH'LIC MAJORITY FROM ALL FOREIGN RULE
CATHOLIC CHILD. Free at last!
PROTESTANT CHILD. Rule Britannia!
BUT IN THE NORTH -- "THE SIX COUNTIES" -- OF ULSTER
WE ARE RULED BY THE QUEEN
HERE THE PROTESTANTS MAINTAIN A MAJORITY
AND THE ORANGE RULES O'ER THE GREEN.
PROTESTANTS. (Various.) Welcome to West Belfast --
Once a thriving industrial center.
Home to the impoverished Presbyterian
And unemployed Catholic underclasses of Ulster.
CATHOLICS. (Various.) Governed by Great Britain,
With a Protestant majority;
And Catholic minority.
Home of The Troubles.
(Slide images flash at frenzied frequency.)
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... 1964. Civil Rights Movement.
PROTESTANTS 1968. Marches for fair housing,
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... Equal employment. Riots.
CATHOLICS 1969. British army occupation.
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END... 1970. Bombing campaigns.
1971. Death toll: 120.
1972. Bloody Sunday; Bloody Friday.
Death toll: 467.
Trial without jury. Hunger strikes.
Patriots. Assassins. Revenge. 25 hundred dead.
AND THE TROUBLES NEVER END!
(All freeze -- tense. On tape, the sound of a phone ringing, then picked up. Sound of an ADULT MALE IRISH VOICE, muffled...)
VOICE-OVER. This is the Belfast Brigade for Freedom. Evacuate immediately; we've set a bomb.
(Click of phone disconnection; dial tone. ALL scatter to reveal, upstage center, a large "cartoon" bomb with burning fuse. LEPRECHAUN rushes in, cuts fuse, and carries bomb quickly off as CAST disperses, except for THREE CHILDREN: KENNA, ALF and TED.)
(Continuous with preceding. ALF and TED step up to separate graffiti-covered bricked-up windows.)
KENNA. (To Audience.) Well, what d'ya think you're lookin' at?! Expected to see "Finian's Rainbow," did ya? (She walks away, disgusted, then halts herself.) All right -- we'll give you a little more help. But don't you go thinkin' you're gonna understand. There's a sayin' we got here: "If people say they understand The Troubles, you can be sure they've been badly misinformed."
TED. And the Irish Republican Army... (Indicating the "Up the I.R.A." slogan he stands beside.) ...the I.R.A. ... they've got a different saying.
KENNA. "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't believe, no explanation is possible."
ALF. Believe what?
KENNA. Believe what they believe; what else? Only there are too many groups, too many beliefs. Even the I.R.A. is divided. Political wing; paramilitary wing. "Paramilitary" means "armed terrorist" or "armed patriot" -- dependin' on how you view what believe.
ALF. (Indicating "Long Live the U.D.A." slogan.) There's the U.D.A.
KENNA. The Ulster Defence Association. If a name's got "Ulster" in it, it's almost always Protestant. If there's an "I" -- meanin' Ireland -- then it's probably Catholic.
TED. (With can of paint, spraying over "I.R.A.") R.U.C. -- Royal Ulster Constabulatory.
KENNA. Constabulatory? Police. Almost all the police in Northern Ireland are Protestant.
ALF. (Spraying over "U.D.A.") O.D.C.
KENNA & TED. "O.D.C.?"
ALF. Ordinary Decent Criminal.
KENNA. Yeah. It's easy to forget that the largest group's just ordinary people: folks who just walk into trouble without belongin' to any group -- except the unemployed and hopeless. (A MOTHER, carrying an infant, enters with LITTLE GIRL by the hand.)
MOTHER. (To ALF and TED.) Hey, youse -- get on away from there! (ALF, TED and KENNA run off. MOTHER addresses Audience.) Ah, well -- I don't suppose the kids here in the ghetto are all that much different than any other kids -- exceptin' o' course that they're terrible poor and often left to themselves. And where are their mothers, you're wonderin'? Home, most of 'em -- tendin' to a squad o' littler kids. And the da's? Well, them what can't find work -- which is most -- might spend the day at playin' snooker, or in drinkin' down at the corner pub. Ah -- now there's a familiar stereotype for you: "The Drunken Irishman." But just you think a minute -- if you were without a job and livin' in the ghetto, might be you'd drink too ... and find a reason to hate. No, I really can't blame `em; can you? (She starts off.) What bothers me most, though, is when I see the wee ones takin' after their fathers -- drunken stumblin' an' bigoted cursin'. An' before you know it, there you have it: your own sweet babies are alcoholic, racist and -- saints protect us -- involved in it all now themselves. . . .
(As MOTHER and LITTLE GIRL exit, lights dim to night. Sound of gunfire. BRIAN, a boy no more than nine years old, scrambles onstage, carrying a parcel. He quickly hides it under some debris and starts to run off, but is blocked by BRITISH SOLDIER. Turning away, he sees his other routes are also blocked by two more SOLDIERS wielding rifles, wearing combat fatigues. BRIAN and SOLDIERS stand silent a moment.)
SOLDIER 1. Name! (BRIAN doesn't answer.)
SOLDIER 2. (Arming his rifle.) Answer, you Fenian bastard!
BRIAN. I ain't no Fenian! Lemme go!
SOLDIER 2. Not until we've had a wee chat.
BRIAN. Don't know nothin'.
SOLDIER 1. I'll be the judge of that. Now what's your name?
SOLDIER 1. Last name.
SOLDIER 3. He's lying.
BRIAN. Am not lyin'; why should I? You can't hurt me.
SOLDIER 3. Oh can't we now?
BRIAN. No; 'cuz I'm just a kid.
SOLDIER 2. But kids are gettin’ themselves hurt all the time here’bouts; aren't they?
BRIAN. The others'll tell.
SOLDIER 3. Others, you say? That's right, Brian, you tell us all about the “others.” Who was driving the car?
BRIAN. What car? I told you, I don't know nothin'.
SOLDIER 1. So you go out joyriding with strangers, do you?
BRIAN. Hitchhiked, I did.
SOLDIER 2. (Sarcastic.) Right.
SOLDIER 1. And where were you running to just now?
SOLDIER 1. Which is where? (BRIAN doesn't answer.) Come on now, Brian MacNeil -- you don't want us to take you down to headquarters, do you?
BRIAN. I been lifted before. Thought you squaddies liked liftin' kids; gets you off the streets away from the snipers, now don't it? Cowards!
SOLDIER 2. Smart-mouthed little...
SOLDIER 3. Just tell us and we'll let you go -- who was driving the car?
BRIAN. I don't know, do I? Older kids.
SOLDIER 2. Well, I should hope so. How old are you anyhow -- eight?
BRIAN. Ten! How old are you? Seventeen? I got a sister, seventeen, and she could kick your arse without even tryin'.
SOLDIER 3. You shut your filthy little mouth, you hear?
BRIAN. You squaddies ain't no help to us here. Go on back to London, Nancy-boys.
SOLDIER 2. We'd be delighted, only you bloody savages can't seem to stop killin' each other, can you?
BRIAN. If you stopped protectin' them filthy Fenians, the fighting would stop soon enough.
SOLDIER 3. Now, now: we do our share of protecting the Prods as well.
BRIAN. Do you?
SOLDIER 2. (Furious.) You think it's all a great game, don't you? Well, we're the ones who've got to go seek out your little booby traps or clean up after folks who've been blown to bits. That includes our own mates who've got families back home -- decent families with kids who know how to behave!
SOLDIER 1. That's enough, Soldier. Come on, boy -- it's down to headquarters with you and we'll ring up your parents.
SOLDIER 2. Scum like him don't have parents.
SOLDIER 1. (To Soldier 2.) I said, "enough!" (BRIAN makes a run for it, grabbing the parcel he hid.)
BRIAN. I ain't goin'! (Tense pause.) You just try liftin' me now.
SOLDIER 3. What's he got there?
BRIAN. Why don't ya come find out?
SOLDIER 2. For Christ's sake -- it's a bomb!
BRIAN. `T'were meant for the Fenians, but you had to go an' stop us.
SOLDIER 3. He's out of his bloody mind!
BRIAN. Me Gran'da', he fought for England in the war `gainst the Germans. But now, when we're in trouble -- you won't fight for us.
SOLDIER 1. Come on, kid -- what do you expect us to do?
BRIAN. Just leave us be. Leave me be an' lemme go about me own business. `Cause if you try liftin' me, you can bet that you'll be "lifted" too. (SOLDIERS are at a loss.) You hear me? Go! Get on away! (SOLDIERS slowly exit.) That's right. You never should ha' come `ere in the first place. (Lights fade to Blackout.)
(Spotlight rises on THREE CHILDREN: SEAN, JOSEPH and, again, KENNA. SEAN displays to Audience the plastic bullet he holds in his hand.)
SEAN. Ever seen one o' these? It's a plastic bullet. Picture a hockey puck flyin' at your head some 180 miles per hour.
JOSEPH. They're used to disperse crowds "unlawfully assembled."
KENNA. Like at the demonstrations for the Hunger Strikers back about the time we were born.
JOSEPH. (A sympathizer.) Aye, the Strikers!
SEAN. Ten Irish Republicans, imprisoned for so-called "crimes against the British nation," were denied special treatment as political prisoners. How could they protest? They could starve themselves, that's how. (BOYS exit, passing by THREE GIRLS who giggle and greedily munch from their fast-food bags. KENNA turns to follow, then pauses to address Audience again.)
KENNA. Brede doesn't often go down to the Busy Bee Shopping Center. But she and her sister've got a visiting cousin to entertain and in West Belfast there isn't all that much choice in what to do.... (KENNA exits. BREDE, about 16, her younger sister MAIRE, and their cousin AUDREY chat as they eat their lunch.)
BREDE. There were lots of demonstrations during the hunger strikes. . .
AUDREY. Brede, Maire's eatin' all your chips!
MAIRE. Am not!
BREDE. (In her own world.) The fourth had just died.
MAIRE. Joe McDonnell it was.
AUDREY. McDonnell? Wasn't it his funeral procession the Brits attacked? ‘Course, I was just a wee girl, but I think they showed it on the TV. How long ago now?
MAIRE. Seven year.
BREDE. But me and Fiona had nothing to do with any of it. We were only just stepping out of this one shop when all of a sudden the banging and the running started.
AUDREY. Banging? From the soldiers' guns?
MAIRE. No, bin-lids. To warn folks the squaddies were coming.
BREDE. And even though it was only just speeches being made, and it was mostly women too, still the Brits started firing anyway.
AUDREY. Rubber bullets?
MAIRE. Plastic! Hail Mary, are they all as dumb as you down in Dublin?
BREDE. There were soldiers everywhere, shooting to make the people leave.
BREDE. Oh, not straight on. They're only supposed to fire at the ground, you see.
MAIRE. All the while hoping for a hit from the ricochet, though. Only that can hurt plenty too. Can knock you right over.
AUDREY. And that's what happened to Fiona?
MAIRE. Damn right!
BREDE. Maire, don't curse! (To Audrey.) We don't know for certain it was a bullet.
MAIRE. Ma says...
BREDE. Ma wasn't there! It was me... me who was with Fiona, now wasn't I?! (She turns away from them.) We were running. Every-body was. Fiona just...fell. And then...when I tried to...help...help her up...she couldn't move.
MAIRE. But she was awake still -- all the way to hospital. (To Brede, snotty.) Did I get that much right, sister?
BREDE. Aye. But. . . but she wasn't "all there," like.
MAIRE. (As if describing a favorite horror film.) You see, she had blood all leaking into her brain!
AUDREY. Maire! Do you mind?! I'm eating!
BREDE. (A breath. The pain of the memory passed.) Well, that's what happened and there was no helping it. Oh, how our Ma did cry.
MAIRE. Fiona was the youngest.
AUDREY. That much I knew.
MAIRE. I was only trying to explain why Brede's forever fussing over me.
AUDREY. Oh? Why?
MAIRE. `Cause now it's me who's the youngest. Our Ma's forever worried.
AUDREY. Then why do you stay? Why don't you just move down to Dublin like
MAIRE. You wouldn't understand.
AUDREY. And what about your Da?
BREDE. What about him?
AUDREY. How does he feel about The Troubles? I mean, after Fiona dying and all.
BREDE. Well, Da -- he's never been much the sort to express his feelings.
AUDREY. Never? Oh, I don't think that's good, do you? No, I heard that's supposed to be very unhealthy for a person.
BREDE. I remember how our Da used to. . . he used to. . . sing a bit. (Music. Quiet and distant.) But he don't so much anymore.
AUDREY. Why not?
MAIRE. Oh, shut up, Audrey! You ask more questions than the damned police! (MAIRE grabs Audrey's foodbag and runs off. AUDREY leaps up and chases her, laughing at their game.)
AUDREY. (Exiting.) Maire! Come back, you! Where do you think you're going with me chips?! (BREDE remains, remembering her father's song: a popular Irish ballad "The Bold Fenian Men.".)
`TWAS DOWN BY THE WAYSIDE, I MET AN OLD WOMAN
A-PLUCKIN' YOUNG NETTLES; SHE NE'ER HEARD ME COMIN'
I LISTENED A WHILE TO THE TUNE SHE WAS HUMMIN':
"GLORY O, GLORY O TO THE BOLD FENIAN MEN"
(Very gradually, the image of the street crossfades into a heroic Republican terrorist; clouds reflected in his sunglasses.)
`TIS FIFTY LONG YEARS SINCE I SAW THE MOON BEAMIN'
ON TALL MANLY FORMS WITH THEIR HOPES EVER-GLEAMIN'
I'LL SEE THEM AGAIN IN ME EVERY-DAY DREAMIN'
GLORY O, GLORY O TO THE BOLD FENIAN MEN
SOME FELL BY THE WAYSIDE, SOME DIED WITH A STRANGER
AND WISE MEN HAVE SAID THAT THEIR CAUSE WAS A FAILURE
BUT THEY LOVED DEAR OLD IRELAND!
AND THEY NEVER FEARED DANGER
GLORY O, GLORY O TO THE BOLD FENIAN MEN!
(The slide image has reverted to dirty street. BREDE takes a last, loud slurp from her milkshake, then tosses it onto the street with the rest of the litter before strolling off. SHEILA, a teenager, enters with LITTLE GIRLS: MANDY and CAROLINE.)
SHEILA. (Holding Mandy's hand; to Audience.) The Orangies, the Fenians -- each got their patriots and martyrs, past and present.
MANDY. (A grin as she recites a poem.)
"If I had but a penny, do you know what I'd do?
I'd buy a rope and hang the Pope and let King Billy through!"
SHEILA. (Outraged and embarrassed.) Mandy!!! (She drags MANDY offstage while swatting her on top of the head.)
CAROLINE. (Playing hopscotch.) "St. Patrick's Day will be jolly and gay; As we kick all the Protestants out of the way
And if that won't do, we'll cut `em in two
And then send `em to hell with their red, white and blue!"
(CAROLINE rushes off, giggling, as lights and slide image shift to suggest a different street, late afternoon, for next scene.)
(BRIDGET and CATHERINE are skipping rope.)
BRIDGET & CATHERINE. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me and Tommy Todd. I'm a Catholic; he's a Prod -- Holy Mary, Mother of God!
SEAN. (Entering with younger boy, PAT.) Now then, Pat -- the first thing you're gonna need to learn about livin' here is how to keep from dyin'. Now, I don't care what all you've heard over in England, but this here is a war, and you'd best not forget it. So... let's us begin with you tellin' me what you already know about fightin' Orangies and Squaddies.
SEAN. That's right. (PAT shrugs. SEAN clarifies, fishing for some recognition.) Orangemen. Billy's Boys. Loyalist Huns? U.D.A., U.D.R., U.F.F., U.V.F.? (No response from PAT.) Prods?!
PAT. Ohhh -- you mean Protestants?
SEAN. Aye. Now, Squaddies... (A vacant grin from PAT.) ...Tommies. Brit Paras.
PAT. (Working it out.) "Brit." British?
SEAN. Go on...
SEAN. Paratroopers! British Paratroopers! The bloody army, Pat!
(A sigh.) Well, you certainly 'ave got a lot to learn, I can see that much. (Spying BRIDGET and CATHERINE.) Hey, Bridget; Catherine! Come help me explain some military tactics to our new neighbor Pat here, would you?
BRIDGET & CATHERINE. (Alternating.)Anything for a Free Nation, Sean! Screw the Orangies! Kill the Prods! (In unison.) Two, four, six, eight! Englishmen are who we hate! (They whoop and jump like cheerleaders.)
BRIDGET. So then, Pat -- where do you hail from?
CATHERINE. Oops -- sorry.
SEAN. Aww, Pat understands our feelin's, don't you, mate? (PAT nods.) Now, girls -- would you mind just standin' here and make believe you're lampposts?
BRIDGET & CATHERINE. "Lampposts?!"
BRIDGET. (A shrug.) Whatever you say.
CATHERINE. (To Bridget.) Somehow I doubt Bernadette Devlin ever started out as a lamppost.
BRIDGET. A barricade, maybe.
SEAN. Come now, it's only just for a wee moment. . . please? (GIRLS allow SEAN to move them into position, side by side, a few feet apart. He indicates to PAT the space between the girls.) Okay, Pat -- this here's a street; right? And here's your lampposts. Now, just picture me as a landrover comin' up the street.
SEAN. A jeep!
SEAN. All right then, I'm a landrover full o' Squaddies. . .
SEAN. Right! Good! So what do you do?
PAT. Run away!
SEAN. (Taking GIRLS' skiprope.) No; you take your cheesewire. . .
PAT. The rope's make-believe for cheesewire.
SEAN. Aye. Now what do we do with it? (PAT shrugs.) You quick tie it between your two lampposts; that's what. (CATHERINE slaps SEAN's hands away as he begins to tie the rope around her torso.)
CATHERINE. Mind your hands there, "Mister Landrover!"
SEAN. All right, then -- just hold it, will you? (He hands ends of rope to each GIRL.) You see, Pat -- there's almost always a soldier standing look-out on the outside of the landrover, and the cheesewire's so thin he can't see it. So, if you tie it about six feet up, it's just the right height to. . . .(SEAN moves between the GIRLS who, holding rope taut, catch SEAN at the neck. SEAN collapses.)
BRIDGET & CATHERINE. (Joined by PAT.) Hurrah!
SEAN. (Getting up.) Oh, but there's more to it. When the others hop out to help their unfortunate friend, what do we do?
PAT. Run away! (OTHERS groan; look at him with great disdain.) No, we don't run away; we. . . we. . . I know! I know! We throw stones at `em -- right? (OTHERS slowly shake their heads.)
SEAN. (Putting his arm around PAT, fraternally.) Pat...only children throw stones. Tell `em what we use, girls.
BRIDGET & CATHERINE. Petrol bombs!
SEAN. Now I'm supposin' you don't know what's a petrol bomb?
BRIDGET. Nothin' in all the world is simpler to make.(GIRLS find ingredients from rubble: milk bottle, gasoline can, dishwashing liquid; they behave as though they were appearing on a TV cooking show.)
CATHERINE. Only just fill a milk bottle with petrol.
BRIDGET. To help the petrol stick? A squirt of fairy liquid.
PAT. "Fairy liquid?"
CATHERINE. Dish soap -- are you dim?!
PAT. For to help the petrol stick to what?
SEAN. To the soldiers' shields! Their shields are plastic, aren't they, and after a few petrol bombs, they'll melt, won't they?
CATHERINE & BRIDGET. Damn right!
SEAN. So they drop their shields and then they're really in for it!
SEAN. Because that's when the little kids start in throwin' stones.
PAT. And what do we do?
SEAN, BRIDGET & CATHERINE. Run away!
PAT. Huh? But....
SEAN. Okay, I think that's enough lessons for one day. To-morrow, Pat, we can teach you about paint bombs.
CATHERINE. And joyriding!
BRIDGET. Oh, aye -- that's great crack! (SEAN, BRIDGET and CATHERINE start off together.)
PAT. Wait! What about nail bombs?
SEAN. What about `em?
PAT. I dunno -- I just heard... is there somethin' wrong with nail bombs?
SEAN. (After a serious look at GIRLS.) Listen to me, mate. We're all of us agreed that here in The Falls we've got to defend our rights as best we can, but nail bombs we leave that to the Provies and the I.N.L.A. and such.
PAT. You mean to say you don't belong to them groups, then?
SEAN. (Genuinely horrified.) Hell, no!
CATHERINE. If Sean's Mother found out he was messin' with them sort. . .
BRIDGET. She'd kill him!
PAT. Why? Don't she support the struggle?
SEAN. O' course she does. Only Pat -- them groups all believe in violence! (SEAN, CATHERINE and BRIDGET exit, leaving PAT to ponder his lesson. Blackout.)
(In the Blackout, the sound of a clock ticking. An isolated pool of light rises on JUSTIN, about 11, in school uniform with a bandaged wrist, seated on a stool. ADULT VOICES -- one MALE and one FEMALE -- interview JUSTIN from the darkness. The room sounds large and empty; voices echo slightly.)
VOICE F. Good day, Justin.
VOICE M. I notice your wrist is bandaged.
JUSTIN. Clever you.
VOICE M. Got into another fray at school?
VOICE F. How then?
JUSTIN. You mean "how'd it happen?" Filthy Fenian hit me with a brick.
VOICE M. Why?
JUSTIN. `Cause I hit him with one, I don't wonder.
VOICE F. And why did you do that?
JUSTIN. Because they were throwin' `em at us! We got to show `em, don't we?
VOICE M. Show them...?
JUSTIN. That we've a right to live here just as much as them. More than them. It's us who built up Belfast in the first place, wasn't it? Nothin' but a muddy old swamp for muddy ol' Catholic pigs `til we came over.
VOICE M. So you think throwing rocks...
VOICE M. ...throwing bricks is going to make the Catholics change their minds about living with you?
JUSTIN. Who gives a damn about changin' their minds? They ain't got proper minds in the first place. And besides, we don't live with them scum no more. We moved.
VOICE F. (Hushed, apparently to VOICE M.) A change of address form is nowhere on file. (Louder; her "psychologist" voice.) Justin, when did you move?
JUSTIN. Three weeks Sunday.
VOICE F. And where are you living now?
JUSTIN. At me Granny's; Unity Flats.
VOICE M. (To VOICE F.) No more than two blocks from before.
JUSTIN. At least it's all Protestant. Maybe now we won't get burned out no more.
VOICE M. Maybe. Now what about your father, Justin -- any news?
JUSTIN. Didn't you hear? He's dead.
VOICE F. Sorry.
JUSTIN. Died Tuesday last at half-six in the morning. Got burned tryin' to save me cat and me hamster. He said once I'd grow up to be like him because I fancied pets and so did he. Only he fancied fishes. Anyway, they all got burned.
VOICE F. And now you and your mother are staying with your grandparents?
JUSTIN. Me uncle lives there too. He gave me a dog. Named him Oliver -- after Cromwell. Cromwell -- he really showed them Catholics once, didn't he? He showed `em what happens to murderers. When I save up three shillings, I'm gonna buy a goldfish like me Da.
VOICE M. That's very nice, Justin.
JUSTIN. You think?
VOICE F. (After a pause.) Now...what about death, Justin?
JUSTIN. What do you mean?
VOICE F. How do you feel about it?
VOICE M. Does it frighten you?
JUSTIN. You only die once, don't you? Then it's over. That ain't so scary.
VOICE M. But do you think about it very much?
JUSTIN. Can't help but do that. People dyin' all the time.
VOICE F. Yes, but what about you? Do you worry about dying?
JUSTIN . Didn't I just tell you I wasn't afraid?! Didn't I?! Don't you listen?!
VOICE F. Of course we listen, Justin. We're concerned about every child in West Belfast. Quite concerned indeed.
JUSTIN. Last week, on Granny's telly, they were sayin' how many people dead since `69. Nearly twenty-five hundred, they said. But they didn't say nothin' `bout cats or hamsters.
VOICE M. No, I don't suppose they did. (A long awkward pause.)
VOICE F. (Clearing her throat.) I think, Justin, that will be all for today.
JUSTIN. (Starting down from the stool.) All right.
VOICE M. Please do give your Mother our condolences, won't you?
JUSTIN. (Halts.) "Condolences?"
VOICE F. Tell her that we're terribly sorry. About your Father.
JUSTIN. Oh. Right. (He exits. Pause. Lights burst up on the VOICES: ELIZABETH and SEAMUS, removing their clinical smocks and putting their files into briefcases.)
ELIZABETH. (Angrily waving one file.) How?! How could we not have heard his father had died?! The whole session was ruined!
SEAMUS. Never mind the session, Liz -- what about that poor lad?
ELIZABETH. You know that is precisely what I meant! Seamus, we've both read McWhirter's study on stress events; a parent being killed ranks number one.
SEAMUS. Yes. And that came as no surprise to anyone. What's the matter, Liz?
ELIZABETH. The matter is I'm damned angry; aren't you?! Just look at this... (Waving file.) Nowhere in all this silly crap is there one shred of paper informing us about that little boy's father!
SEAMUS. There are limits to what this clinic can do in a day.
ELIZABETH. (Slamming file into briefcase.) Explain that to Justin.
SEAMUS. I don't imagine we need to. Justin's grown up with limitations all his life.
ELIZABETH. (Grabbing her coat.) Well, I haven't!
SEAMUS. Fine, let's do something for you, then. We've both had a very long week of it. (A pause as ELIZABETH halts, unsure what to do.) Come, lass -- I, for one, am positively perishin' for a pint.
ELIZABETH. (Softening.) Are you, now? And is that your way of inviting me out for a drink?
SEAMUS. (Stepping nearer.) Unless you've a better suggestion.
ELIZABETH. Oh, Seamus, I feel like hell.
SEAMUS. Is that why I'm forever burnin' when you're about?
ELIZABETH. (A smile; coyly.) Is that a fact?
SEAMUS. Oh, aye, aye! And ain't it a grand feeling indeed! (ELIZABETH and SEAMUS kiss.)
ELIZABETH. Your district or mine?
SEAMUS. (Kissing her neck.) Hmmm?
ELIZABETH. Where shall we have our drink?
SEAMUS. Who cares?
ELIZABETH. Your neighbors and my neighbors all care a great deal. (The passion squelched, SEAMUS steps away.)
SEAMUS. Oh, I don't know, why don't we just go downtown to an hotel? (ELIZABETH gives him a look of mock surprise.) To an hotel bar, Elizabeth -- that's all I meant.
ELIZABETH. Give me but a minute to ring up my girls to tell them I'll be a bit late.
SEAMUS. I should think they'd be accustomed to your hours by now.
ELIZABETH. I'm sure they are. Perhaps I find a kind of comfort in imagining they worry.
SEAMUS. Worry? Over you and me?
ELIZABETH. More precisely, love -- over Catholic you and Protestant me and this whole bloody war zone called Belfast.
(Continuous with the preceding. Music and spotlight reveals COMIC entering stage as PATRONS [including ELIZABETH and SEAMUS] enter below apron, smoking and drinking. "Bricked windows" on rowhouses now rotate to reveal British flag and portrait of Queen.)
COMIC. Welcome, welcome all to the best wee pub in The Shankill -- "The Ulsterman's Elbow!" (PATRONS applaud as COMIC ushers in MALE SINGER.)
HERE AM I, A LOYAL ORANGEMAN, JUST COME ACROSS THE SEA
FOR SINGIN' AND FOR DANCIN' I'M SURE THAT I'LL PLEASE THEE
I'LL SING AND DANCE WITH ANY MAN AS I DID IN DAYS OF YORE
AND ON THE TWELFTH I'LL PROUDLY WEAR
THE SASH MY FATHER WORE...
PATRONS (Joining in the chorus.)
SURE IT'S OLD BUT IT IS BEAUTIFUL
AND ITS COLOURS THEY ARE FINE
IT WAS WORN AT DERRY, AUGHRIM, ENNISKILLEN AND THE BOYNE
MY FATHER WORE IT WHEN A YOUTH IN BY-GONE DAYS OF YORE
AND ON THE TWELFTH I'LL PROUDLY WEAR
THE SASH MY FATHER WORE! (SINGER bows to hearty applause and exits as COMIC takes stage.)
COMIC. Hae's `bout ya? Terrible nice to be here this evenin' -- and speakin' o' terrible: have you heard this one...? "There was this Catholic fellow on his way to work...." (Rimshot. COMIC guffaws.) "There was this Catholic brain surgeon...." (PATRONS join COMIC in laughter.) Say, do you know why the Irish Catholic are like bananas? Because they're born green, live in a bunch and then turn yellow. (Laughter.) An I.R.A. prisoner tunnels his way out of his cell and comes up in a school playground. "I'm free," he cries, "I'm free!" A wee girl steps up to him and say, "So what? I'm four!" How many Fenians does it take to change a lightbulb? Doesn't matter -- they've no electricity `cause they never pay their bills! (Instantaneous Blackout.)
(Lights rise on a YOUTHS DONALD and CATHERINE, applauding the previous scene, then addressing the Audience.)
DONALD. With almost a third of the population out of work and living on welfare, you can almost forget your problems with a joke and a drink.
CATHERINE. Tranquilizers used a lot too. Did you know that more Valium is consumed by housewives in Ulster than anywhere else in the United Kingdom?
DONALD. But do you know what else sometimes helps? Seeing that other folks have got problems too.
CATHERINE. Like the folks on the telly.
DONALD. And the most popular TV programs?
CATHERINE. Those evening soap operas from America.
DONALD. "Dallas," "Knots Landing." You know?
CATHERINE. Ach, the messes those poor rich people can get into each week!
DONALD. So -- in the tradition of J.R. and Sue Ann and Bobby and Lord only knows who else -- we present our own soap opera: "Family Matters." Only these families aren't near so rich.
CATHERINE. Remember the psychologists -- Elizabeth and Seamus? Well, they've got children of their own. Catholics first, Protestants after.... (DONALD and CATHERINE exit as lights shift to mid-evening. Organ music supports the parody. SHEILA, 16, enters and anxiously looks about.)
SHEILA. (Urgent whispers.) David? David!
DAVID. (Unseen.) Shut up, Sheila.
SHEILA. David? Where are you?
DAVID. Leave me alone.
SHEILA. Supper's ready.
DAVID. I'm not hungry.
SHEILA. Father won't be home `til late.
DAVID, (Rising, crossing past Sheila to exit.) I'm still not hungry.
SHEILA. He asked after you.
DAVID. Oh, did he now? Well, isn't he a thoughtful son of a ...
(SHEILA slaps David across the face. A pause.)
SHEILA. I'm sorry.
DAVID. Don't be. Sorry's a waste of energy.
SHEILA. Oh, David -- lately there's just no talking to you. I don't know what you're thinking anymore; what you do all the day and night. I'm worried about you, David. Father is too.
DAVID. If he's so worried over me then why is he spending all his time with that bloody Protestant hag?
SHEILA. They work together! (A cynical snort from DAVID.) And he's in love with her, yes. David, you'd best face it: they're going to be married.
DAVID, (Softly, threatening.) Are they?
SHEILA. Can't you just try and be glad for him, David? Over fifteen years he's been without a wife.
DAVID. And whose fault is that? Have you forgotten how our mother was killed? And who did it?
SHEILA. No, but it seems you've forgotten why she took part in the demonstrations. Because our mother was working for a way everyone might live together in peace.
SHEILA. (Continued.) And our Da's been trying to do that, too. P'raps if you -- if we -- had been old enough to ever really know Mother, maybe we'd more easily understand it all.
DAVID. Ach, Sheila, you really are a stupid cow! Our Mother was a member of the I.R.A.!
SHEILA. So what if she was? The I.R.A. was political back then; it was different then.
DAVID. Not as different as you'd like to think. (DAVID exits. SHEILA stands, watches him go, then turns and exits opposite. Organ music; lights shift. From the opposite doorway, an argument offstage. The following section of speeches are delivered simultaneously, until Alice's entrance.)
ELIZABETH. Alice! Alice, listen to me!
MARY. Give her a chance!
ALICE. You whore! You make me sick!
ELIZABETH. How dare you...!
PATRICIA. (Crying.) Mama! Mama!
ELIZABETH. Alice, you come back here! Alice! (ALICE enters, greatly angered. MARY and PATRICIA enter soon after. ALICE and MARY are high school age; PATRICIA about 8 .)
MARY. Alice, that was very cruel! How could you talk to Mama like that?
ALICE. `Twas easy! And I'd say as much and more again.
PATRICIA. Mama's real upset.
MARY. So am I.
PATRICIA. If Mama marries that man, does that mean we'll be Irish too?
MARY. No, Patricia.
ALICE. I'll tell you what we'll be. Nothing. Our friends will all turn their backs on us.
MARY. Well, if that should happen, then they weren't worth having as friends in the first place!
ALICE. Oh, Mary, don't be daft! Would you be friends with someone whose mother married a Mick?
PATRICIA. (Beginning to cry.) Couldn't we try?
ALICE. And we could try jumping over the moon. Our friends'll call us "Fenian-lover," and the Fenians -- well, they hate us already.
MARY. They don't. Seamus doesn't.
ELIZABETH. (A softer call, from offstage.) Girls? Patricia? Mary?
MARY. Run along, Patricia. Dry your eyes so Mama doesn't see.
PATRICIA. (As Mary dabs her cheeks with a handkerchief.) Will you be coming?
MARY. Right after. (PATRICIA exits. MARY silently stares at Alice. ALICE finally looks at Mary.)
ALICE. Don't go looking that way at me. It's Mother who deserves it. You know what she's doing is wrong.
MARY. No, Alice. I don't know that. And neither do you. (ELIZABETH's silhouette appears in doorway as organ music swells and lights fade to Blackout.)
(BREDE enters, carrying soccer ball. OTHER CHILDREN begin
BREDE. (To Audience.) Now soap operas may be all well and good, but there's more to life than watching TV. There's sports, right, mates?
SEAN. Sure; there's stone-throwing.
DONALD. Or dropping bricks off buildings onto people -- we call that "breeze-blocking."
BREDE. Very funny. I mean organized sports. Like football...
(To Audience.) " Soccer," to you.
SEAN. Hurley -- an Irish game.
DONALD. Cricket...definitely a Protestant sport, since it's British.
(CHILDREN all ad-lib volunteering their favorite leisure activities; LINDA interrupts them by entering with a portable tape player and turns on some traditional Irish music, i.e. "The Chieftains.")
LINDA. One activity we can pretty much all agree upon is dancing.
AUDREY. Right! Dancin' to good music; that's universal the world over! (Soon ALL are dancing a traditional Irish jig until ALICE enters, turns the music off, replaces it with a cassette of the
Irish rock band "U2." Now there is a curious mixture of free-form dancing and the continued traditional jig. The dance is again interrupted by the crescendoing clattering din of bin-lids from offstage. In an instant, the stage -- which was bursting with life and happy activity -- is cleared as BRITISH SOLDIERS -- dressed in full riot gear -- enter and find the alley empty. Helicopter hovers. SOLDIERS cautiously exit. AUDREY enters, looking after the Soldiers. She sighs.) Oh, them soldiers! They may not be all that clever, but ... well, there's just somethin' about a man in uniform! Before you know it, you can fall in love. (Lights fade to Blackout.)
(In the Blackout, the ringing of a telephone, as heard through the receiver of the person placing the call. Isolated area of light quickly rises to reveal SARAH, 17, dressed in a tattered bathrobe. She speaks loudly, excitedly into the phone.)
SARAH. Charles?! Charles, is that...? Oh. Private Charles Ellis, please. Second Battalion. Yes, please. Yes, I'll continue to wait. Thank you. (She heaves an impatient sigh, then reaches down to gently touch her belly. By this gesture we may suspect that she is pregnant although it doesn't yet show.) Charles? Yes, Charles --
it's me! Sarah, silly! No, I'm not in Liverpool; I'm in Belfast still. Yes. What? Charles, could you speak a little louder? I'm afraid the connection's bad. What? No, it's not an emergency;
I only just thought maybe you'd been trying to reach me and with me in school the day long and... I understand. But you've been gone two months now and I haven't heard...
Of course I understand you're busy. Well, when can you come
back to Belfast?
You don't know? Well, could you find out?
Because I miss you, that's why. And I had no idea whether you'd gotten my letters or... Charles? Is something the matter?
Pressure? I realize that, Charles, yes...
I thought we'd made plans, Charles, that's all! (A long pause.)
What are you saying? Charles, wait... (Another pause.)
What do you mean, "interracial problem?" What's that to do with us? I am not Irish! I'm every bit as British as you, Charles Ellis! The only difference between you and me is the way we speak! We're both Church of England, we've the same...
Well, if I'm considered a "second-class citizen" in England, then we'll just live here. Or we could emigrate to the States...or Canada...I don't care, anywhere -- what does it matter? (A very long pause.)
I'm not upset! Obviously, I caught you at a bad time; I understand, they keep you busy. Only just wait, Charles, before you ring off... I think you ought to know, Charles, that I'm...WILL YOU JUST LISTEN TO ME?! Damn it, you owe me that much; you owe me...! (Slight pause.)
"You don't...owe me...a thing." I understand.
Yes, it must be hard to be shipped about, stationed here and there;
I guess I never really considered it from your point of...
Sure, I'm glad we had the chance to share some "jolly times" too, Charles. Where? The Gulf, you say? Well good for you.
No, I don't imagine it's all light and nice down there either, no.
"Troubles everywhere," aye, no doubt.
Well, I'm sorry if I troubled you. Oh, that's kind of you to say so. Drop me a postcard? All right. "Cheerio" to you too. (She lets her hand holding the receiver drop to her side. Dial tone constant for remainder of scene. Pause.)
Damn Catholics. If they'd only kept still, the bloody British army wouldn't be here in the first place. Catholics...they're to blame...
(She strokes her belly and looks down, speaking to it.) Isn't that right, Charlene? (Lights fade to Blackout.)
(In Blackout, laughter. Spotlight rises on COMIC and pub.)
COMIC. A true and loyal Orangemen, lyin' on his deathbed, tells the wife to quick fetch a priest. "A priest?!" the woman gasps. "Yes, I want to convert!" "But why, why become a Catholic now?!" weepin' and wailin'. And the fellow replies, "Better one o' them dies than one of us!" (Laughter from PATRONS.) Have you all seen the Irish Rubik's cube? It's completely green and has no moveable segments. (Less laughter; a few moans.) Mrs. Mulligan was overjoyed upon receivin' the letter from her son, who'd emigrated to London. "My boy's got himself the best job in the world," she boasted -- "The lad's workin' in a crematorium and he's actually getting paid for burning Englishmen!" (No laughter. A few threatening growls. COMIC turns pale and mutters to himself.) Heaven help me, wrong joke, wrong pub. . . (He waves to offstage bandleader as he backs away from Patrons.) How's about a nice, wee song? (COMIC thrusts MALE SINGER onto stage in his place, then quickly exits.)
`TIS THE LAST ROSE OF SUMMER, LEFT BLOOMIN' ALL ALONE
ALL HER LOVELY COMPANIONS ARE FADED AND GONE
NO FLOWER OF HER KINDRED, NO ROSEBUD IS NIGH
TO REFLECT BACK HER BLUSHES OR GIVE SIGH FOR SIGH
SO SOON MAY I FOLLOW WHEN FRIENDSHIPS DECAY
AND FROM LOVE'S SHINING CIRCLE THE GEMS DROP AWAY
WHEN TRUE HEARTS LIE WITHERED AND FOND ONES ARE FLOWN
OH, WHO WOULD INHABIT THIS BLEAK WORLD ALONE?
(Gentle applause; PATRONS disperse. SEAMUS and ELIZABETH step into "street" and linger for a kiss and quiet conversation. GUY, about 16, addresses Audience.)
GUY. When the going gets tough, oft-times those who've had enough get going -- to England, Canada, Australia, or the States ... hoping they might find for themselves some kind of life before death. Northern Ireland loses eight to fifteen thousand people a year, often its best and brightest, never to return. (GUY exits.)
ELIZABETH. It's not that my girls are so bigoted themselves...
SEAMUS. (With humor.) Heaven forbid!
ELIZABETH. Now, Seamus, I didn't say that they were completely free of bias, now did I? But it's their schoolmates, our neighbors
-- how their peers feel is of major concern to any child.
SEAMUS. Well, I wish I had as convenient a scapegoat as you.
ELIZABETH. I'm not scape-goating. Honestly, Seamus -- I don't think my daughters themselves really give a tinker's dam who or what you are.
SEAMUS. May I take that as a compliment?
ELIZABETH. Please, darling, I'm trying to be serious.
SEAMUS. Sorry. But being Irish and Catholic and living day to day amidst this mess, you've got to know I've had only a few million conversations on the topic of bigotry.
I might also remind you that I've raised two teenagers of my own, on my own. So you see, love, being serious isn't a problem for me. Keeping a sense a humour -- that's what takes some extra effort. (ELIZABETH, in heartfelt apology, embraces him.) My own dear Elizabeth -- how I wish my kids could summon up the courage to meet you. Sheila, bless her heart, she's doing the best she can. But my boy David -- he won't even talk to me anymore. I stay up as late as I can, hoping to grab a word, but I always seem to fall asleep before he gets home. Guess you tire me out, my girl.
ELIZABETH. I hope you don't expect me to apologize for that.
SEAMUS. Not on your life! That angry young lad's simply going to have to deal with our marriage in whatever way he can.
ELIZABETH. My proposal to Mary and Patricia about our moving to Canada seemed to do the trick -- no more worries about peer disapproval. And Alice is old enough to stay here, come along, or move somewhere on her own. Only I hope you don't think I'm forcing you, Seamus. I realize emigration is a big step.
SEAMUS. Hell -- getting married again is a "big step." Moving away doesn't worry me -- millions have gone before us. But I know I'll miss this our Ireland, Liz, despite its troubles. I always liked to think I was somehow making it better...making a difference.
ELIZABETH. As did I. Seamus, did I ever tell you, I was part of the Peace People back in`76? My Lord, those women: Protestants and Catholics together. They won the bloody Nobel Peace Prize! And now, barely a soul even remembers them. And now look around: what bit of difference did any of it make?
SEAMUS. Maybe it helped you accept the notion of me.
ELIZABETH. (A smile.) Very well! Then another prize I claim on behalf of the Peace People -- may they rest in peace.
SEAMUS. A prize am I?
ELIZABETH. More than you could ever know! (A joyous kiss.) Now I really must get home. You should too. You've got a major move to discuss with your children.
SEAMUS. I've got a couple o' major moves I'd like to discuss with you, love!
ELIZABETH. (Gently pulling away.) Why, Seamus! (She kisses her finger and taps his forehead, then starts off. He takes a step after her.) No, darling -- stay. My car's only just `round the corner and if you come with me I might never make it home.
SEAMUS. (As Elizabeth starts off.) We can be happy, Liz; we can continue to do good works. There must be plenty of maladjusted kids in Canada. Hell, there's troubles in Montreal, Quebec City. . .
ELIZABETH. (Calling over her shoulder.) Out of the fire and into the frying pan? No, thank you.
SEAMUS. Too Catholic in Quebec, is that it?
ELIZABETH. (Offstage; a call.) No -- too French! (SEAMUS chuckles, shakes his head, starts off in the other direction. An explosion and burst of light offstage where ELIZABETH exited. SEAMUS freezes a moment; then runs offstage toward the blast.)
SEAMUS. Elizabeth! (Blackout; sound of ambulance siren.)
(Sound of siren fades as lights rise on PAT, sitting at edge of stage. MANDY and CATHERINE sit quietly on a pile of rubble, playing "pat-a-cake.")
PAT. (To Audience.) I'll tell you a story of Lizzie the Tory:
A hole in the wall -- and that's it all. (MOTHER enters with LITTLE GIRL by the hand.)
MOTHER. (To Audience.) Death "happens." People die all the time. I'm talkin' about the world now, not just Belfast or the Gaza Strip or South Africa. And not just adults; children too. Kids die from disease and accidents, even though many times such deaths can be prevented. Deaths from poverty, starvation, war -- it's easy to blame these on politics and religion. But you can never blame a child. And although I can blame the Loyalists or Republicans or the Prime Minister or God Almighty Himself, I can't for the life of me make it sound like death "just happens," when I'm tryin' to explain it to my kids. (CAROLINE steps onstage; holding a little bouquet of flowers. MOTHER puts her arm around timid CAROLINE's shoulder.) Wee Caroline's wrote a poem. It's been put to music so's that it might seem pretty.
MANDY & CATHERINE. (Chanting as they play.)
Wallflowers, wallflowers, growin' up so high
All the pretty children do not like to cry
Except for Majella O'Hare -- she's the only one --
So fright! For shame! So fright! For shame!
And turn her back to the wall again.
Wallflowers, wallflowers, growin' up so high
All the pretty children should best prepare to die....
ON AN AUGUST MORN' OF SEVENTY-AND-SIX
THE SUN SHONE BRIGHT AND BOLD AND GAY
WE PLANNED HOW BEST TO SPEND THE DAY
IN THE FIELDS OF HEATHER ON THE BEACH AT GYLE'S QUAY.
AS WE SKIPPED ALONG THE ROAD TO THE CHURCH
OUR LITTLE SINS TO TELL
OUT RANG A SHOT FROM A BRITISH GUN
AND TO THE GROUND MY FRIEND MAJELLA FELL.
THE LITTLE CHILDREN SCREAMED AND FROZE IN FRIGHT
HER FATHER HEARD AND RAN IN HASTE
BUT THE COLOUR FADED FROM HER FACE AND CHEEKS
AND THE BLOOD POURED FROM MAJELLA'S FRAIL LITTLE WAIST.
NO MORE WILL I HEAR OUR SWEET MAJELLA'S CALL
"O CAR'LINE, O CAR'LINE -- COME OUT TO PLAY"
SHE WON'T GO FOR WALKS WITH BRECK AND PRINCE
SHE WON'T PLAY DOWN THE ROAD OR DANCE ON THE BRAE.
AS WE SKIPPED ALONG THE ROAD TO THE CHURCH
OUR LITTLE SINS TO TELL
OUT RANG A SHOT FROM A BRITISH GUN
AND TO THE GROUND MY FRIEND MAJELLA FELL.
(CAROLINE sets her bouquet down at the "grave" and slowly walks off as MANDY and CAROLINE sprinkle the flowers with sand, then steal the bouquet and run off. Lights have begun slow fade.)
PAT. (Rising to his feet; to Audience.)
I'm a soldier. See my gun?
See me aiming? Quickly -- run! (PAT runs off. Blackout.)
(In the Blackout, the booming voice of a television announcer.)
ANNOUNCER. (Voice-over.) And now -- from Northern Ireland -- where Hollywood Street meets beautiful Belfast City Centre, it's the Hollywood Squares, Junior Edition! (Roving spotlights and typical game show music: a corruption of "When Irish Eyes are Smiling." One tenement shell has been transformed into the platform and cubicles for Celebrities; the other for host and contestants. The Celebrities are costumed and masked as animated grotesque political cartoons; their "squares" are illumined as they are named. Laughter and applause audio throughout.) Our celebrities tonight... From the Civil Rights Movement of the `60's, former member of Parliament, and former leader of the People's Democracy and the Irish Republican Socialist Party: Ms. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey! Founder of the Free Presbyterian Church, also a key figure in the Civil Rights struggle, and political leader of the Democratic Unionist Party: The Reverend Ian Paisley! And, in the center of it all, who else but the one, the only -- Prime Minister of the United Kingdom: Mrs. Margaret Thatcher! Now a big welcome for your host -- Ireland's greatest celebrity of all time: St. Patrick! (St. Patrick [Leprechaun] with costume [including halo] in the style of medieval illumination, glides in and ascends to his place at the host's podium.)
ST. PATRICK. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Good day, squares! (Celebrities respond.) Won't you please help me give a warm welcome to our wee contestants? (Joseph and Belinda enter, running, on cue and take their places on either side of Saint.)
ANNOUNCER. (Voice-over.) First, from the Catholic ghetto "The Falls" -- young Joseph O'Shea. And his opponent, from the Protestant ghetto "The Shankill" -- welcome Belinda Armstrong!
ST. PATRICK. Now, Mr. Announcer -- won't you tell us for what prizes these fine wee youngsters are competing today?
ANNOUNCER. (Voice-over.) A brand-new dream home, complete with plumbing, plus an actual full-time job! (Contestants scream and leap with delight.)
ST. PATRICK. Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Well, now -- let's get right down to business. Who won the toss-up?
BELINDA. I did.
DEVLIN. (A grumble.) Figures the Protestant would!
ST. PATRICK. (To Belinda.) Select a square.
BELINDA. The Reverend Paisley, please.
ST. PATRICK. (Taking a card from his podium.) Reverend Paisley: is the Pope Catholic?
PAISLEY. Wha..why...wha...why...hmmm. Sounds like a trick question to me, especially since you're as Catholic as it comes, and since you're responsible for bringing that most corrupt of Churches to this island, only to become the most bitter enemy of Ulster and all Free Religion. And I say, as I have before, we citizens of Britain and Ulster will never make peace with Rome! No Popery in Ulster! No Surrender!
ST. PATRICK. (A beaming, forgiving smile.) Your answer then?
PAISLEY. "Is the Pope Catholic?" Hmmm, like I said, must be a trick question. No. The Pope is not Catholic!
BELINDA. I'll agree. (Sound effect: foghorn, descending slide whistle, car bomb.)
ST. PATRICK. I'm sorry, "X" does not get the square. Young Master O'Shea?
JOSEPH. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, please.
ST. PATRICK. Miss Devlin?
ST. PATRICK. You being a former civil rights activist, I pose to you the following riddle. Ready?
ST. PATRICK. Why did the civil rights protester cross the road?
DEVLIN. I'll tell you why! Because the bloody Orangemen were throwing stones at them, the bloody Protestant police were smash-ing their skulls with riot batons, and the bloody British army was attacking by spraying the innocent peacemakers with rubber bullets!
ST. PATRICK. Joseph?
JOSEPH. Is that the same as wanting to get to the other side?
ST. PATRICK. In so many words.
JOSEPH. Then I'll agree.
ST. PATRICK. That is correct! "O" gets the square. (Music: Bells, whistles and first phrase of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.") Back to you, Belinda.
BELINDA. I guess I'll have the Reverend Paisley again. (MRS. THATCHER is a bit put-out; she expected it to be her turn.)
ST. PATRICK. Mister Paisley, in the film "The Sound of Music," the pride of England, actress Julie Andrews, portrayed the life of Catholic nun-turned-singer Maria von...what?
PAISLEY. I am proud to say that I have never viewed that
disgusting celebration of Rome's collaboration with the anti-Christ Hebrew sympathizers and all its wide-screen, technicolor glorifi-cation of Papist political tyranny under the guise of sentimental Hollywood clap-trap!
ST. PATRICK. (To Belinda.) I believe the Reverend' s final word was "trap." Do you agree or disagree?
BELINDA. Agree! (Winner sound effect.)
ST. PATRICK. Correct! "X" gets the square! Joseph?
JOSEPH. Margaret Thatcher for the block.
DEVLIN. (Grumbling.) Yeah, I'd like to see her get a breeze-block.
ST. PATRICK. Mrs. Thatcher?
THATCHER. Yes, Mr. Patrick?
ST. PATRICK. During the hunger strikes by the prisoners who were decrying your policy of refusing to recognize their status as prisoners of war and instead, treating them as common criminals, you were quoted as saying, "A crime is a crime is a crime."
THATCHER. Did I? How terribly clever. (DEVLIN groans.)
ST. PATRICK. But would it not then follow that "A War is a War is a War?"
THATCHER. Oh my, no, Pat -- heavens, no! For example: England's military campaign in the Falkland Islands -- now that was a war! In a matter of mere weeks we surpassed the entire 15-years death toll of Ulster, not counting, of course, the hideously maimed and tortured. So this, among many other factors, tells us that some wars are indeed wars while other conflicts are merely... "Troubles."
ST. PATRICK . Joseph?
JOSEPH. (Caught by surprise.) Oh! -- sorry -- I was expectin’ some sort o’ joke.
ST. PATRICK. Evidently there’s not.
JOSEPH. Uh...then I'll...I'll disagree. (Loser sound effect.)
ST. PATRICK. Oh, I am sorry! Mrs. Thatcher is the Prime Minister so she gets to decide what is a war and what is not. Nobody gets the square and, furthermore, I'm afraid we've completely run out of time. (Music plays; Celebrities and Host wave.)
BELINDA. (Upset.) But who wins?
ST. PATRICK. Sorry, no winners today.
JOSEPH. No dream home?
BELINDA. No job?
ST. PATRICK. Come, come, be good sports. It's only a game. Think instead, children, on your heavenly reward! (ST. PATRICK ascends off to laughter and applause, leaving disappointed Contestants as music swells and lights fade to Blackout. Pool of light rises on SARAH, SEAN and JUSTIN.)
SARAH. Politicians! As long as we keep fighting with one another, they hope we won't noctice how they don't do anything for us.
SEAN. No, they're all cozy and safe in their suburban homes, far away from this dump.
SARAH. Yet they shake their heads, unable to comprehend the source of all the violence that they are luckily able to comfortably live apart from.
JUSTIN. We all of us know Jesus taught us that hatin' and killin' is wrong. But maybe he'd ha' felt different about it if he lived in my district.
SARAH. "Family Matters." The saga concludes.... (They exit as lights shift.)
(Night. PATRICIA runs from her "backdoor" into the yard, wearing a wedding veil. She twirls about, pretending she is a bride. MARY follows her in, smiling.)
MARY. Careful there, Patricia. We wouldn't want to be getting it soiled.
PATRICIA. Oh, Mary, it's so lovely! Why didn't Mama wear a veil when she married our Daddy, I wonder.
MARY. Because they didn't have a church wedding. They had a civil ceremony. In England.
PATRICIA. Then why is Mama going to wear one now?
MARY. I don't know.
PATRICIA. Maybe it's `cause he's a Catholic. Maybe it's a rule. The Pope makes them follow hundreds of rules, you know -- and they've got all sorts of mysterious ways of doing things.
MARY. (A chuckle.) That may be, but I think Mama just wants to look nice for her husband, and for us. And then, come the time when we girls are to be married, she can pass her veil down to us and look every bit as beautiful as she will...and remember.
PATRICIA. Mary? Everything is going to be all right, isn't it?
MARY. Of course; why wouldn't it be?
PATRICIA. I don't know anything about Canada.
MARY. You'll do just fine.
ALICE. (Appearing through door; very pale.) Patricia -- come and put Mother's veil away.
PATRICIA. (Excited.) Mama's home?
ALICE. No. Just do as I say. Hurry up and then come right back.
(PATRICIA obeys. As she passes ALICE, who walks toward MARY.)
And put on a sweater.
MARY. She was only having a bit of fun. She didn't harm it.
ALICE. Do you think I care about the bloody veil?!
MARY. No, Alice. I don't think you care about that or anything -- except your hate.
ALICE. (A pause. She bursts into tears.) Mary, the police just now phoned. Mother's car was bombed. They're coming to take us to hospital. (ALICE embraces MARY, speechless, then they rush into house. Lights shift. DAVID stumbles on with a bloody makeshift bandage wrapped around his hand. SHEILA has been waiting.)
SHEILA. Where the devil have you been, David? Father's frantic; he's down at emergency care...
DAVID. (Under his breath, avoiding his sister.) I know.
SHEILA. ...his fiance...Elizabeth...her car was bombed...
DAVID. I know.
SHEILA. ...he just phoned again...Elizabeth...she didn't pull through... (Angry.) David, will you listen?! Father's lover has been murdered!
DAVID. (Whirling on her.) That's right, Sheila -- fifteen year ago, his wife -- our mother -- was murdered! By the red hand of Ulster!
SHEILA. That's not who I meant! (Notices his bleeding hand.)
David? You're bleeding! What's happened?!
DAVID. Red hand of Ulster; red fist of Ireland! (He thrusts his bleeding fist high into the air. Music. He sings.)
COME ALL YE YOUNG REBELS AND LIST' WHILE I SING
FOR THE LOVE OF ONE'S COUNTRY IS A TERRIBLE THING
IT BANISHES FEAR WITH THE SPEED OF A FLAME
AND MAKES US ALL PART OF THE PATRIOT GAME
(Music continues as lights fade on DAVID and SHEILA, rising on PUB SINGER who takes over the song.)
ME NAME IS O'HANLON, I'VE JUST GONE SIXTEEN
ME HOME IS IN BELFAST AND THERE I WAS WEANED
I WAS TAUGHT ALL ME LIFE, CRUEL ENGLAND TO BLAME
AND SO I'M A PART OF THE PATRIOT GAME.
(SINGER slowly exits as focus shifts to COMIC, performing for a laughing offstage crowd.)
COMIC. Paddy and Maggie McGuire were asleep in bed, when a terrorist's bomb blew them straight out the window. `T'was the first time they'd been out together in years! (Funeral pipes and drums. MOURNERS slowly enter, wearing black trenchcoats and carrying umbrellas: PATRICIA, MARY, ALICE and, a few steps away, SEAMUS and SHEILA. COMIC continues as lights fade on him.)
I asked me Da, "How'd you like to be buried in a Protestant cemetery?" His answer? "I'd rather die!" (MOURNERS, gather at stage apron "grave" for final farewells, American TV REPORTER and SOUND/CAMERA CREW stand nearby. Harsh camera lights glare as COMMENTATOR addresses camera.)
REPORTER. "And so the bereaved bid a tearful farewell to Elizabeth Miller, now just another statistic in this twenty-plus years' of bitter strife. But the most startling statistic has remained constant since 1969: more than 60% of the victims are just common, everyday people. No terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the car bomb, so, officially, Ms. Miller's death is listed as: "by accidental cause." She was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. But is anywhere in Belfast a right place? How long must these citizens wait until there is a right time? Sally Spencer, Independent News, on location in Northern Ireland.
(To CREW.) Quick, Ted -- grab a shot of the grave before they cover it up, O.K.? (MOURNERS have begun to exit. MARY lingers. REPORTER notices; gestures for CREW to descend on the girl, thrusting microphone and camera lens at MARY's tearful face.) Hello, I'm from American television and we're producing a documentary on...
MARY. (Enraged.) Why can't you leave us alone? You're partially to blame, you know -- showing violence over and over until people get so used to it they don't even know that it's real -- and that it really hurts! Go away! Go! We've got nothing to say to you. (MARY exits.)
REPORTER. (Slight pause; she tosses her head.) Come on, guys -- forget it; this story wasn't all that great in the first place. Two weeks in this filthy town and one lousy death! (REPORTER and CREW start off.) Where's the good stuff, I'd like to know. I need footage of riots, teargas...not this sentimental crap. (Lights fade; pool of light remains where GUY and DAN enter and address the audience.)
GUY. At school, there's others who'll coerce you into joining the Junior Orange, and once you're in, they'll call you a Fenian-lover if you even speak to a Catholic, and then they'll beat you up.
DAN. At first, the Junior I.R.A. can seem just like a club. Like playing "Cowboys and Indians" or "Cops and Robbers" -- only, in the I.R.A. the Robbers are the good guys.
GUY. And then, one day, you find out the Robbers are for real. But your mates won't let you quit playing, `cause you know too much. And to make you stay in the game, they'll threaten maybe to shoot you in the knees...
DAN. They call it "knee-cappin'." Worse than that, they may "clean out your ears." (Gestures pistol pointed at side of the head.)
GUY. This next one -- it's real grim.
DAN. Yeah. Makes me nervous. I hate it. (They exit. Lights fade to a moonless midnight. Dogs barking in the distance, occasional cars and sirens, the distant pulse of a surveillance helicopter.)
(Continuous with the preceding. TOMMY, 14, drags his sister LINDA, 11, by the hand.)
LINDA. Leggo me hand, Tommy! Leggo, I tell you!
TOMMY. (Clasping his hand over her mouth.) Not so loud, Linda
-- someone'll hear!
LINDA. So what if they do? It's only neighbors. Who are you afraid of? What've you done?
TOMMY. Nothing. Never mind. I'm sorry to've taken you away. Go back home. If anybody asks, you've not seen me tonight.
LINDA. You're in trouble. Who's after you, Tommy? (He doesn't answer.) Tommy, you're my brother; let me help.
TOMMY. There's nothing you can do, Linda. No helping me.
LINDA. Is it the police you're running from? (A pause. He nods.)
Well, that's not so bad.
TOMMY. Oh, I'll try to keep that in mind while they're beating me up at the station.
LINDA. So what are they after?
TOMMY. None of your business.
LINDA. Is this about the guns Kevin asked you to hide at the shop?
LINDA. I thought as much. If you're going to get involved, Tommy, you'd better start learnin' how to keep a straight face.
TOMMY. But I never wanted to "get involved." I never asked to.
LINDA. Well, evidently you are. I thought I heard you tell Kevin you weren't going to help with the guns.
TOMMY. You listened?!
LINDA. The walls of our subsidized apartment are just a wee bit on the thin side, Tommy. I often wonder if the government built them so poorly so's they could eavesdrop on us too. Well? Did you hide the guns for Kevin or not?
TOMMY. What choice did I have? If I didn't co-operate, they'd've had me knee-capped.
LINDA. And the police found the guns, did they?
TOMMY. Not yet.
LINDA. Good. Possession can get a Republican fifteen to twenty years. Bobby Sands got fourteen -- for only just a single gun.
TOMMY. "Bobby Sands?!"
LINDA. Aye; God rest his soul.
TOMMY. Never mind the martyrs -- what of me?!
LINDA. Calm yourself. If you weren't found with the guns, the police have nothing to get you for.
TOMMY. Jeez, Linda -- the police, the courts -- they're all Protestant as hell! It's their word against mine. They don't need hard evidence to convict a person...or have you forgotten all that while you go about worshipping your dead heroes?
LINDA. All right. What can we do? Get you out of the Six Counties for a while?
TOMMY. How? Where?
LINDA. Smuggling you south shouldn't be too difficult. Let's go ask Kevin; he can arrange it.
TOMMY. (As LINDA starts off.) No he can't.
LINDA. (Halts.) What? (TOMMY turns away. A pause.) Hold on. You're not hiding from the police. You've already met up with the police tonight, haven't you? Haven't you, Tommy!
TOMMY. I didn't say a word. If Kevin's in trouble, it's because he's running weapons. It isn't my fault. He forced me...
LINDA. (Cold as ice.) You tout. You bloody tout. Do you know what you've done? Kevin might be killed.
TOMMY. (Pleading.) I didn't tell, Linda; never said a single name.
LINDA. You didn't have to. The police said Kevin's name for you, didn't they? I'll wager they just said his name and you... (Turns away.) Poor Kevin. God help him.
TOMMY. And me?
LINDA. You?! Well, you were right straight off: there's no helping you. To the police, you've served your purpose; I shouldn't expect they'll be much interested in you any further. And everyone knows what the organization does to informers.
TOMMY. I'm telling you, I'm not a tout! Linda, you don't under-stand...
LINDA. No, Tommy! You don't understand! You never did! Who -- who could possibly trust you now?
TOMMY. (Weeps quietly.) I'll be done up, won't I?
LINDA. Don't ask me such things! Damn you, Tommy -- why couldn't you have died a hero?!
TOMMY. Shut up! I'm not dead yet! Not yet!
LINDA. Aren't you?
(A trashbin is overturned with a clatter. TOMMY and LINDA gasp. Three SHADOWS approach, covering TOMMY's terrified face. But the ominous figures are revealed as three LITTLE GIRLS: JESSICA,NATALIE and ANGELA, sporting ringlets, toothy smiles, tap shoes with big bows and crinoline party dresses printed with shamrocks and potatoes.)
JESSICA. ("Shuffle off to Buffalo" toward TOMMY and LINDA.) Howdy!
TOMMY. (Quite concerned he's in the wrong play.) Hi.
JESSICA. We're the "Tater Tots."
LINDA. (A weak smile.) How nice for you.
JESSICA. Nice? You said it! We've come to cheer things up. And by the grumpy looks on your two faces, I'd say you could use a really nice and chipper song. What do you think, girls? (NATALIE and ANGELA nod vigorously and chime: "Mmmm-hmmm!" Music in. Spotlight on TRIO, who tap-dance and sing as LINDA and TOMMY stare dumbfounded a while, then slowly back away and off.)
I'M LOOKIN' ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
THO' I'M WALKIN' IN THE SHADE
STICKIN' OUT MY CHEST, HOPIN' FOR THE BEST,
LOOKIN' ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE!
TODAY I'M IN THE SHADOW, TOMORROW MAYBE
THE CLOUDS WILL LIFT AND LET THE SUN DRIFT OVER TO ME!
I'M LOOKIN' ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
THO' TODAY'S ALL CARE AND STRIFE
I CAN WEAR A GRIN, STICKIN' UP MY CHIN
LOOKIN' ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE!
(Peace walls close. Lights shift to dappled sunlight as MARY and SARAH enter and address Audience.)
MARY. There's a different "bright spot" to be found, if you can get away from the ghetto a while. There's a wonderful place overlooking Belfast called Cave Hill.
SARAH. Neutral territory. Kids who are raised in separate neighborhoods, who attend separate schools -- the Hill is one thing they can share.
MARY. Protestants may think of Cave Hill as a place to look out over the town: all the factories and shipyards -- a testament to Britain's enterprise and prosperity which built up Belfast in days gone by.
SARAH. The Catholics might conjure memories of a more ancient time when its caves sheltered the native Irish from invading foreigners.
MARY. Perhaps it was, once upon a time, the dwelling-place of the fairy folk -- the Deena Shee -- who were also called "The People of Peace." (Lights fade. Wind rises in the brief Blackout.)
(Wind fades somewhat as pool of light rises on LEPRECHAUN, seating center, counting his pot of gold. He sings, to the tune of "Teddy Bears' Picnic.")
If you go up to Cave Hill today, you're sure of a big surprise.
If you go up to Cave Hill today, you'd better go in disguise.
For ev'ry terrorist ever there was
Will gather there for certain because
Today's the day the terrorists have their picnic. . .
(Lights have spread to include SUSAN and DONALD, two young teenagers, who stand on either side of LEPRECHAUN and gaze with greed and wonder.)
SUSAN & DONALD. A leprechaun?! (CHILDREN simultaneously lunge at LEPRECHAUN and tug at him, arguing: "I got him! I do! I was here first! No, I was! Leave go! He's mine!" etc.)
LEPRECHAUN. (Extracting himself.) Enough, you hooligans! Enough o' this violence; you've caught me, fair and square.
SUSAN. I caught you!
DONALD. I did!
LEPRECHAUN. You both did, all right?
SUSAN. And now you've got to...
LEPRECHAUN. (Interrupting.) Just you hold on a moment, Missy
-- don't you go on tellin' me what I've "got" to do! (A pause.) Well? Go on -- take me pot o' gold. (SUSAN and DONALD are suspicious at the offering.) What are ye waitin' for? Take it, and be gone with ye! (Finally SUSAN grabs for the riches.)
DONALD. (Pulling SUSAN aside.) No, wait!
SUSAN. "Wait?!" Are you daft?
DONALD. I think it's a trick.
LEPRECHAUN. "A trick?" Now aren't you the suspicious little spud!
DONALD. (To SUSAN.) Instead of the gold, he can grant us three wishes.
SUSAN. (Sarcastic.) Oh, really? And whoever told you that?
DONALD. I dunno -- someone.
SUSAN. Right. Go ahead and take the wishes; I'm goin' for the sure thing.
LEPRECHAUN. Just a minute there you wee girl you. Your friend may be right.
SUSAN. He's no friend of mine..
LEPRECHAUN. Oh, no?
SUSAN. He's a Prod.
DONALD. And you're a greedy little Taig! Isn't it just like a Catholic, always after stealin' someone's money!
SUSAN. I'm not stealin' anything! I'm only after what's due me.
I caught the leprechaun; I've a right to his riches.
DONALD. There you go...you Fenians don't do nothin' but complain about your rights. And what about mine?
LEPRECHAUN. Or mine?!
DONALD & SUSAN. (To LEPRECHAUN.) Huh?
LEPRECHAUN. Haven't given a single thought of me, have you?
DONALD. But you're only just...
SUSAN. ...a leprechaun.
LEPRECHAUN. And a leprechaun can't have feelin's? Views? Wishes?
SUSAN. (To DONALD.) Can he?
DONALD. How should I know?
SUSAN. Maybe he isn't a leprechaun at all. He doesn't really look like one.
LEPRECHAUN. Let's us not get into what folks look like, love.
DONALD. Maybe you're right; maybe we should just take the money and leave it at that.
SUSAN. But three wishes... (She glances at LEPRECHAUN for confirmation; LEPRECHAUN tilts his head and smiles cryptically.)...that'd make one wish for me...
DONALD. ...and one for me...
SUSAN & DONALD. ...and a third for...
LEPRECHAUN. ...Me? (CHILDREN look sourly ungenerous. He shrugs.) No harm in tryin'.
DONALD. Only what to wish for?
SUSAN. Quiet; I'm thinking!
LEPRECHAUN. Go ahead; take your time. I've been around for a few thousand years, a minute or two more don't mean anythin' to me.
SUSAN & DONALD. Shhh! (LEPRECHAUN raises hands in apology. Long pause.)
DONALD. I've got it!
SUSAN. No! Me first!
LEPRECHAUN. Mind if I make a wee suggestion? Why not both speak your wishes at the same time? (CHILDREN aren't sold on the notion.) Now what could be more fair and just than that? So then...ready, are we? On the count of three...one, two... (CHILDREN blurt out simultaneously, before count is complete.)
Loyalists out of Ulster! Republicans out of Ulster!
(A pause, horrified, then angry screams at each other.)
Bloody Hun! Filthy Fenian!
You ruined me wish! You ruined me wish!
But he... But she...
SUSAN. Did you hear what he wished?
DONALD. Me? What of you?
LEPRECHAUN. I heard, I heard -- and it made me sick, it did. But now it's over.
DONALD. What's over?
SUSAN. You don't mean...
LEPRECHAUN. You each wished the other folk be gone. And so they are. (CHILDREN are stunned.) You don't believe me? Run down and have a look for yourselves.
SUSAN. "Gone?" But where?
LEPRECHAUN. Gone is gone.
DONALD. But if that's true, why are we still here?
LEPRECHAUN. Good point. Well, you see, there's a little matter of unfinished business -- one remainin' wish. Only whose wish is it going to be, I'm wonderin'. (CHILDREN's first impulse is to argue, but they stop themselves.) What's this now? Why aren't you about fightin'?
SUSAN. What good would fighting do?
DONALD. We'd never agree.
LEPRECHAUN. Is that a fact? And how do you know for certain if you've never tried? Might I give you another wee bit of advice? Try lookin' beyond yourselves for a change.
DONALD. You mean look to you?
SUSAN. But I always heard you leprechauns weren't to be trusted.
DONALD. Me too.
LEPRECHAUN. Forget what you've heard. If you must judge, at least judge what you know. Now, I've been fair with you thus far, haven't I? And, as you can't seem to trust one another, then why not me?
SUSAN. (A pause, considering.) Promise you'll fix things?
LEPRECHAUN. There's a limit to what I can do -- you've left much to undo. (A pause.) Well? The third and last wish is mine or no?(CHILDREN nod.) Thank you. Then wish I will, but you two must also lend a hand.
SUSAN & DONALD. How?
LEPRECHAUN. Precisely as I said. Donald, Susan, give me a hand. (He takes a hand from each and holds them in his.) Now -- look into one another's eyes. (CHILDREN uncomfortably obey.) Susan? Do you see your reflection, there, in Donald's eyes?
LEPRECHAUN. And you, Donald -- can you see yours?
LEPRECHAUN. Good. Now look closer -- closer still -- in your reflections' eyes, what can you see?
LEPRECHAUN. And now my wish: I give ye back your country, as it was before we met. But in you, my children, I plant the seed of a greater wish, far beyond my magic. A wish, a prayer for change: that nevermore will ye judge another person -- not unless you have seen their reflection in your own eyes. (LEPRECHAUN slowly places CHILDREN's hands into each other's and quietly starts tiptoeing away. He halts, turns back, takes the pot of gold, then exits.)
SUSAN. (After a long pause.) I think he's gone.
DONALD. And I bet he took the gold too.
SUSAN. Probably. Only please -- don't look! Not yet.
DONALD. I won't.
SUSAN. Donald --d'you really think he was a leprechaun?
DONALD. Doesn't really matter now, does it?
SUSAN. (A smile.) I agree. (DONALD returns the smile. Lights slowly fade as CHILDREN continue to hold hands and looks into each other's eyes.)
(Continuous with the preceding. A beat of drums as peace line parts. CAST is revealed, marching, separating DONALD and SUSAN.)
TEN LITTLE SOLDEIR BOYS WERE STANDING IN A LINE
A SNIPER CAME AND SHOT ONE AND THEN THERE WERE NINE
HEY HO, FIDDLE-DEE-OH, THEN THERE WERE ONLY NINE-O
NINE WOULD-BE STATESMEN WERE WORKING VERY LATE
ONE HAD HIS CAR EXPLODE AND THEN THERE WERE EIGHT
HEY HO, AIN'T THAT GREAT-O, THEN THERE WERE ONLY EIGHT-O
EIGHT YOUTHFUL CHORISTERS, SINGIN' SONGS TO HEAVEN
ONE WAS HIT BY FLYING GLASS AND THERE THERE SEVEN
HEY HO, FIDDLE-DEE-OH, SINGIN' SONGS TO HEAVEN
ONE WAS HIT BY FLYING GLASS -- GOD BLESS BERNADETTE DEVLIN
SEVEN LITTLE SCHOOLGIRLS WERE LOOKIN' ROUND FOR KICKS
ONE GOT A BIG SURPRISE AND THEN THERE WERE SIX
SINGIN' A HEY HO, FIDDLE-DEE-OH, THEN THERE WERE ONLY SIX-O
STAY OFF THE STREET! STAY OFF THE STREET!
SIX LOYAL POLICEMEN WERE HOPIN' TO SURVIVE
A BULLET HIT ONE IN THE BACK AND THEN THERE WERE FIVE
HEY HO, FIDDLE-DEE-OH, TRY TO STAY ALIVE-O
A BULLET HIT ONE IN THE BACK AND SIX CAME DOWN TO FIVE-O
FIVE BUSY HOUSEWIVES WERE SHOPPING IN A STORE
ONE PICKED UP A PARCEL AND THEN THERE WERE ONLY FOUR,
NO MORE; AYE, THEN THERE WERE ONLY FOUR
HEY HO, WE SING OF GORE, IRELAND'S FIGHTIN' A FILTHY WAR
TEN HAVE DWINDLED DOWN TO FOUR,
OH, WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW...
FOUR I.R.A. PRISONERS, LONGING TO BE FREE
ONE TRIED TO MAKE HIS GETAWAY
AND THEN THERE WERE ONLY THREE TO SEE
AND THEN THERE WERE ONLY THREE
THREE KIND OLD GENTLEMEN WITH NOTHING MUCH TO DO
ONE TOOK A WALK `ROUND THE CORNER
AND THEN THERE WERE ONLY TWO
HEY HO, WE SING OF GORE, IRELAND'S FIGHTIN' A FILTHY WAR
TEN HAVE DWINDLED DOWN TO TWO,
AYE, SOON IT MIGHT BE YOU - OH!
TWO HAPPY DRINKERS WERE HAVIN' A BIT O' FUN
BOMBS WENT OFF BEHIND THE BAR
AND THEN THERE WAS ONLY ONE
JUST ONE -- OH, THEN THERE WAS ONLY ONE.
(Lights fade to spot on SOLO CHILD.)
ONE LONELY CHILD WAS WONDERING
WHEN THE WAR WOULD CEASE
A BOOBY TRAP EXPLODED.
THEN THERE WAS PEACE.
(War drums accelerate as projection screen shows documentary photographs of international violence while LEPRECHAUN returns to replace the lighted bomb to the place from where he took it at the beginning of the play. Lights fade to Blackout as fuse dwindles.)
CAST. (In Blackout, when fuse is spent. Softly.) Boom.
(Lights rise again on FULL CAST singing Anthem. While CAST sings, photographic portraits of Irish children are projected.)
THE MORNIN' IS COMIN'; A NEW DAY IS BREAKIN'
STILL THE SMOKE OF THE NIGHT-FIRES HANGS THICK IN THE AIR
THE PEOPLE ARE RISIN', STILL SO FULL OF HATRED
YET THE HOPE OF ALL IRELAND'S THEIR COMMON-FELT PRAYER
DEAR GOD SAVE OUR IRELAND
AND THE DREAMS OF HER CHILDREN
AS THE BATTLECRIES SOUND WITH A SUNSET SUBLIME
OH IRELAND, SWEET IRELAND, WE LOVE YOU SO DEARLY
AND WE PLEDGE THEE OUR LOVE 'TIL THE END OF ALL TIME.