Terminal – Theater

A man sits reading in a red armchair in his living room as play begins. He is dressed to kill. Everything he wears reeks of old money and thoughtful choice. The man, SILVIO, is 40 years old, handsome in a classic mould, but something about him does not lead to easy definitions. There is a knock at the front door. Silvios’s head tilts up and he stares straight ahead for a period as if awaiting a verdict. Other more insistent knocks follow. He sets his book down and stands. We notice he is of middle height and built well, as if he has worked for the body he carries, which he carries now with purpose to the door.

A lady appears. She is young, stunningly beautiful. Her name is LAURA.

LAURA: Hi. I’m from the agency.

Terminal is a black comedy in one act that explores the relationship between sex and death. Silvio decides he wants to kill himself and he wants to make it interesting. So he invites a prostitute named Laura over to give him a send off. Laura is a beautiful, young, university psychology major who is moonlighting at this job because she loves sex and because she says she wants to help people. She is a sweet, empathetic person on the surface but underlying this she is completely different.

Terminal tackles the Big Question philosophers have put to themselves since antiquity. That question is whether life is worth living or simply some tedious imposition. Silvio takes the latter position and believes it is his right to terminate his life. In this he is diametrically in opposition to Laura whose opinion is the more common one. Laura tries to sex Silvio out of his decision.

Written and Directed by: Ron Kozloff for Ephemera Productions
Starring: Todd Harrop, Janice Wu

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Having moved from Ontario one year ago, Todd Harrop is thrilled to participate in his first Montreal Fringe. Recent credits include Betrayal and The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge (Theatre & Company), Masterclass (Theatre Athena), Harbingers of Spring (Open Ears), The Spitfire Grill (The Grand Theatre), plus dance roles in Boat Ballet (Oceans Across Currents) and A Court of Miracles (Dancetheatre David Earle), publication in She Speaks: monologues for women (Playwrights Canada Press) and, with his hometown community theatre, music director for The Sound of Music (Royal City Musical Productions).

Janice Wu is delighted to be a part of Montreal Fringe this year. She has been actively involved in the city’s independent theatre scene, taking on roles ranging from “The Critic” in the absurdist piece The Infernal Tragedy (Open Heart Theatre), to Betty in the Gleams Theatre production of Sure Thing, and Mrs. Smith in the Ionesco classic The Bald Soprano. She has also performed in several independent films.

Janice settled in Montreal after studying theatre with Arts York in her hometown of Unionville, Ontario, and Bishop’s University in the Eastern Townships where she holds an honours degree in Drama. In addition to acting, Janice’s other passions include travel and food.

Photos by Cindy Lopez

PARADISE

What on earth do they do there? Ok. You have women, wine, and song? Now is this constantly? You had one woman, you go to another. You can become the playboy of your dreams. Fine. That might work for how long?  awhile?  OK. I could take that. Then there’s  the wine part. We already know that too much wine makes you need to hang around the toilet bowl the next day. Are there toilet bowls in heaven? The song? Well how many really good songs are there? If you are staying there eternally, you’re bound to run out. And who decides which songs will be played? Some angel probably. What if you don’t get along with an angel? Can you request another?  They always talk about it being like a garden. Well, I now live a couple of blocks from a huge beautiful  public garden. But I’ve gone only a couple of times. Then they say there are lakes. I like a good lake as much as the next guy, but how long can you swim? Is there fishing allowed? Who says how many fish you can catch? The angels, right? I’d rather be near an ocean and surf. I’m sure there are people who would like to ski. So let’s say that it would leave a lot to be desired. But paradise has to be perfect. Everyone is always happy.  It’s peaceful. There is no pain. Excellent. Why not just take drugs?

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HOW IT HAPPENED

We sit in opposition
Like cars gearing up for a
Game of chicken.
The wind blusters in your
Eyes, your piano voice comes
In crystals. I feel the years
Between us that have
Fallen off, revealing a hard
Skeleton  of love in place.
But
How  we try each
Other for fault! Your vanity,
my hands cut off at
The wrist. I have no
Stomach to pick through
These remains again or retrace
Plot points on the map
To here. I see it as a
Happy accident that
We have survived
Together at all,
Certainly not any of my
Doing.  Was it the god
Of inertia who intervened,
limited horizons pressing
Against motion?
Were we not brave enough,
and if so,
Has it not taken us down
A step?
Or
Was it something else entirely,
A flame of recognition
That held a mutual gaze
And burned everything else
Away?

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SIGNATURE

You wait
And if it doesn’t come you wait some more,
It is something like fishing
Except you don’t do it in the sun.
It is not exactly pleasant
And it is not exactly unpleasant either
And
Why you do it
is difficult to answer.
It has something to do with compulsion
Your having to know that you can,
On that day
come up with something
That will definitely surprise you.
So you court the gods gravely and fervently
Because you know that it is not really
You at all who is going to do the work.
It is rather a chorus of Voices somewhere
Inside your nervous system
that will come to visit you,
Bringing with them words as gifts to you,
Which they offer in muffled tones or
In fits and starts, or in lengthier
Instalments that you take down
At your keyboard you hope in the right
Order.
You want to receive the message correctly
not mishear it,
And you have to learn to trust that what they tell you
Is in fact the truth because you have no way of verifying
It.
Of course there will be at some point an overseer who
tinkers and censors
And deletes
A sort of Father Figure editor
Who must get the package wrapped correctly.
But that is the easy part really because the gift is already
There,
in whole
or in part.

Later, you and others will determine whether it was
A cheap gift or an expensive one.
You will provide your signature,
The Voices will be relegated to obscurity.

But
You know in your heart that you are probably
an imposter,
At best, an interceptor,
And the Voices will not be there to either
Confirm or deny it.

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HOW TO BEAT AN INSULT

We have all been insulted some time or other in our life. And it is important that one learns to take insults well if we are to retain any measure of self-respect. When someone says to you, “Why don’t you go fuck yourself?” How can you most handily respond to that?

Act interested . Go, “Why don’t I go fuck myself, indeed?” Have your  fingertip at your lip, your head cocked at an upturned angle while you say this.  It is possible, though unlikely, that the big-mouth will join you in attempting to answer their own question,  Or you could choose to remind them it is none of their business. Your insult to them. But the better course is to stay on the high road and not play tit for tat.  It is possible that the person decides to up the ante with a more direct “Fuck you” or “Fuck off.”

Now you must clarify matters. Explain to the frustrated soul that you don’t wish to do either. Be firm but kind. Remind them that we live in a democracy, that they are neither your guardian nor your stockbroker (if in fact it is the case)  and that you don’t wish to take their advice. Or, contrarily, that you may just do what they have suggested. Thank them for their tough-love manner and wish them well in their day.

If this leads to a physical threat, raise your hand and take on a stance of “Brother, you know not what you do!”  in the style  of Harvey Keitel, admonishing his flock in Martin Scorcese’s old movie, The Last Temptation of Christ.  It is always useful to have a model in mind when you make a magnanimous gesture. It may even get uglier. If so, employ one of Ghandi’s tactics and sit on the ground. Do not allow yourself to be hurt, but don’t resist either.  Do the right thing, a la the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Hopefully, a crowd will encircle you that includes a burly off-duty policeman. If that doesn’t happen, play dead, or convince the person that it is time for your nap. It is always amazing what people will accept at face value. The important thing is to keep them guessing and preferably under the impression that you cannot be bullied, or that you are mentally unbalanced and capable of untold destruction if pushed to it.

The best alternative, however, may still be the flight reaction. But usually it does not come to that. What is the worst that can happen? You die. There are worse things than death,( which I won’t get into at this juncture.) Suffice it say that even if you did die, you would know (how, I have no idea!) that you did the right thing. You did not insult back.  You did not steep to their level. You acted with dignity, forbearance, a smattering of intelligence, bluff. You danced well. You went out in style (whatever that means) Could they say the same? It is more than likely that they will at some point regret what they said or did to you, or they may even become born-again and go on to years of meetings in dank basements with badly dressed overweight people .

You will have changed the person. they might never insult another person again, or at least in the same manner.  You have made a difference!

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JIAN and US

Jian Ghomeshi Jian Ghomeshi

He looks like a sweet little immigrant,

a Pakistani boy wading through dirty water.

He smiles a lot on walls and soothes

with his ingratiating manner.

He is said to be charming to breathless women

he meets at natural food counters and less than charming to his underlings.

Known as a pop culture icon, a go-getter, or almost something.

while inside he is:

all emptiness and fury.

He must have hated his mother a lot.

Did she turn the wrong screw?

We can always trace things back to her.

Blaming the woman is the name of the game we love.

Women as punching bags is always a hoot.

She could not be one hundred percent available, perhaps.

She is, after all, the Remote One, the Castratrix.

And this is never agreeable.

Thus she must be remade, beaten into another shape.

Everyone knows that,

Everyone sees that,

Everyone always has.

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A WINTER DAY (1)

Sketch the sky
Describe a winter sadness
Your body has fallen to laziness
The air is not your friend
Shut out thoughts that irk the mind
About whatever could have been
That fell  thru the cracks of the past
Never to be seen again
Bring rancour up to your face
Look at it squarely in the eye
Watch it steam and have its way
Then spin off to another sky
You are really none of the above
Whether meat or scraps of history
You may be just a dream or a punch line                                                                          In someone else’s  memory.

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MY PSYCHIATRIST, Doctor Ishbin Starke

When I told my psychiatrist “ I can’t stand it anymore. I want to jump in the river and drown.”  He advised me to have a good meal an hour before I do.

 I told him my life is a blank page. So he handed me a copy of War and Peace.

I don’t know if my psychiatrist is cruel or kind. At my last session I said, “Doctor. Tell me the truth. Will I ever feel any better?” He helped me to the door.

I quoted Hamlet to my shrink “  I said to him with tears in my eyes “Oh, to sleep. Oh! Perchance  to dream.”  “Perchance?” he said. “Perchance you’ll pay your bill on time.”

Doctor Starke says that anal sex  shtinks.

I am not totally convinced of Dr. Starke’s credentials.  Rather than his diplomas on his wall he has pictures of funny  bunnies.

I said, Doctor. Come off it. Don’t you think calling me an egotistical, narcissistic asshole pushing it. What have I ever done to you? He said, you came to see me, didn’t you?

I am having second thoughts about Doctor Starke’s ethical standards after he asked me what I thought would work best to erase someone: poison or a bullet to the back of the head?

I must admit I always feel a tad nervous whenever Doctor Starke says to me: “Can we try this experiment?”

I don’t mind Doctor Starke chewing gum while I am telling him about my anxieties and fears but I only wish he would stop blowing bubbles.

Doctor Starke has some very firm views about child–rearing.  He believes disobedient children should not be seen… or heard from… again.

Doctor Starke always calls a spade a spade. He also calls them “darkies” and  “lapsed white people.”

I am finding out that Doctor Starke has a sensitive side as well. He breaks down in tears every time he sees a movie in which a Nazis is snubbed.

Doctor Starke does not just sit on his big comfortable chair all day. He is an activist and has started a movement called ‘ War Criminals Of The World Unite.’

Doctor Starke thinks the Holocaust was a cruel lie meant to blemish Aryan superiority.

Doctor Starke thinks that the statement made by the president of Iran, Achmaminijad, who said that “Israel is a stinking corpse that should be wiped from the face of the earth,” was taken out of context.

I asked my shrink, the ex-Gestapo member, Doctor Ishbin Starke. I said, “Doctor. I can’t control my emotions. What must you think of me?  He said, “I try not to think of you.”

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