Vireo Episode Nine - Alcatraz

Episode 9: Alcatraz

Libretto

Alone in her jail cell on Alcatraz, Vireo enjoys solitude before being joined by Caroline. Meanwhile the Doctor wanders among the Prisoners, hoping to hear an Astral Voice. The girls escape.
 

Featuring 

American Contemporary Music Ensemble; Members of Cappella SF; Members of Handbell Ventures; Randall Matamoros; Alex Wright

 

(Vireo alone in a dark cell, walking circuits. At first she bumps into chair, bed, bucket... but gradually grows accustomed.)

 

VIREO
In the morning in my house
Before it’s light
I can walk as if the light
Were shining through our
High windows

If in the dark a chair has moved
I can move around it
I know the room so well
There is no out of place

There is no out of place
I am not out of place in a jail cell
I close my eyes and cross to make
A breakfast fire
I remember very well and
Solitary suits me
Decorative as a memory

How well do you remember?
How well do you remember?
Are you going to stop?

(Meanwhile, elsewhere: The Doctor wanders cautiously through the deep woods, searching for a Voice.)

 

DOCTOR

Hello my name is –

Hello
The ear is always open
Sorting in sleep
Vulnerable

As saintly empathy
Stop
Me

The ear, always folding open,
Falling
Fallen open
I want
I want to hear a voice too
Following, folding out the trick of
You, your ear!

What’s that? Did I –
No
No
If there is a ___
Then there is a ___
By inference

By association
By rights of a secret simile
Let me hear a voice too! Me! Oh, me!

 

PRISONERS
Ah! Ah! Ah!
Work, work
We work
I guess we work
Now
I guess we work
The clop of the hoof
The drop of sweat
Of sweat across

The horse’s
Neck
Work
Turtles of purpose
Disaster, feathers
Fallen blood
Measures marred
By flood
I guess we work now

I guess we work

The clop of the hoof, the drop of sweat
I guess we work

I guess we work now
I guess we work now
We work
I guess we work now
Ah!
In animal weathers, ah!
Work, we work, we work


Caroline? Caroline?
We work, we work, we work...

(Workers drop out. A fluttering of bat wings and Caroline flies in, gene- spliced with a demon. She sports a skull scepter.)

Caroline?

(The Doctor exits, and the cell dominates the stage. Caroline is a step or two outside the cell; her wings and scepter go away. Caroline is thrown in with Vireo by an unseen guard. A lit candle is slid in after her; then the door shuts decisively.)

 

CAROLINE
Vireo?

 

VIREO
Where have you been?

 

CAROLINE
Vireo, pretend.
They give you preference then.
Here’s a light now.

 

VIREO
I have no more room for
Any more terror
Any more feel for
The tortured and the dead

I have no more patience
For any lesser sorrow.
Submission or preference
(The less-than-silence)
The paid for, the spent, the named.

 

CAROLINE
I was polite –
We sleep on sheets tonight.

 

VIREO
Ever since you showed up in the bed
You’ve given second-best ideas
Pride of place in my head.

 

CAROLINE
The sheets are how we will escape.
Tie them together -

Climb down a ladder.
The opposite of Pernette’s tower.

 

VIREO
I want this over.

(Mothly moving closer to the candle.)

 

VIREO
Where would we even go?

 

CAROLINE
We can run –
We can run away –
We’ll run away to Sweden.
There’s a circus there

 

VIREO
That’s too far.

 

CAROLINE
Because of you, it isn’t. You make holes, and things come through. There is a car, called a Valiant, in the woods. You’re the only one who knows how to drive it. Drive over the sea.

 

VIREO
Not. So. Sure. I – Why?
I’m not sure how to make that thing work.
I’d be guessing.

 

CAROLINE
You are going.

(Relenting, Vireo shakes Caroline’s hand. They blow out the candle. A rope of knotted sheets comes down. The girls hang on, swing, and bells ring.)

 

VIREO, CAROLINE
Two girls hanging from sheets
Bells ringing terminal
Two girls drop to freedom
Felonious and germinal

(Sirens, blackout.)

After being arrested for perjury and libel in the previous episode, Vireo is sent to prison at Alcatraz, where she is confined to the abandoned medical wing. She enjoys her solitude, realizing that she is finally to be left alone with her own thoughts and ideas, finally free from the constant observation and analysis that has surrounded her for the last few years.

In another part of the prison, the Doctor wanders the cell block, hoping for enlightenment and inspiration. His analysis of Vireo is growing less objective as he becomes increasingly jealous of her ability to have visions and pierce the shroud of reality. He wants a vision of his own.

Caroline appears in Vireo’s cell. Dressed in a straightjacket, she looks like a ghostly apparition – and she brings a bag of sheets that they can tie together to create a rope with which to climb down the wall and escape to a waiting car. Although at first she resists Caroline’s plan, Vireo ultimately agrees and the girls disappear into the night, leaving the prison guards and doctor behind.

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