[Curtain up. Light downstage only.]
[There is a CHORUS of sleeping children downstage.]
[Enter MERV, a decidedly grumpy janitor with a pumpkin for a head; centre-stage, sweeping.]
Merv: ‘Amor fati’ he says to me. I says, ‘Another dawn, another dollar’. [Beat. MERV notices the kids] Ah, you kids, you’ve got it lucky.
[On the back wall of the stage, a series of surreal images and cyclical-themed-archetypes appear then appear to dance and morph into each other until a GIANT SCARAB – big enough to fill the back wall – is seen walking across the children. Enter a GIANT SNAKE following the GIANT SCARAB. The GIANT SNAKE attempts to eat the GIANT SCARAB. Exit GIANT SCARAB.]
[The GIANT SNAKE moves up the back wall of the stage and bites its own tail to create a circle, as it does so the lights rise to upstage. A few adults are also asleep upstage. Sidelights create the effect of a slowly rising dawn. The CHORUS stand up; imprints are left on the ground where they slept.]
Merv: Ah, no, come on kids; go back to -
CHORUS: Who are you?
Merv: I’m – I’m the most terrifying creature you’ll ever meet unless you do exactly as I say.
[CHORUS laughs. A young girl, JODI, steps out of the CHORUS as they begin to play, fly, dance, and cause new beautiful images to appear on the back wall.]
Jodi: Why should we do what you tell us to?
Merv: Because if you don’t we’ll all be in big, big trouble.
Jodi: Will we be allowed to come to the opera house again?
Merv: What? [Beat] Oh, that’s where you are…if you guys don’t go back to sleep, you’ll never have another sleepover at the opera house again.
[The sidelights rise. The dawn is coming but the CHORUS shows no signs of slowing or tiring. They gather in a circle around MERV and JODI, beginning a game of ‘ring a ring o' roses’. The stage tilts so that the upstage slowly rises to 45 degrees from its original position. ]
Merv: Ah, man. Here it comes. Look, little girl, you need to help me convince your friends.
Jodi: You’re funny.
Merv: Funny? I -
Jodi: If I help, will you promise to come see me again?
Merv: What do you think I am, kid?! I don’t – I…
[The images on the back wall become darkened and twisted versions of themselves, only the GIANT SNAKE remains as it was. A lightning bolt is seen. MERV and JODI see it but the CHORUS do not. The CHORUS are spinning around.]
Jodi: Please promise?
Merv: …alright. [MERV lights a cigarette.]
Jodi: Everyone, listen to me. [Beat] This has been the best. We’ve seen things, heard things, done things we’ve never done before. Who wants to come here again?
CHORUS: I do.
Jodi: If we want more, we have to stop for now so we can come back. So stop your playing.
[The CHORUS stops their game and breaks their circle. The stage begins to slowly move back to its original horizontal position.]
ALL: Stop your playing.
Jodi: Slow your dreaming.
ALL: Slow your dreaming.
[The images on the back wall become lighter and slowly disappear, leaving only the GIANT SNAKE. The CHORUS slowly drift back to their original places.]
Jodi: Come back to sleep.
ALL: Come back to sleep.
[All of the CHORUS are now back to their original places. In a rare moment of tenderness, MERV puts his hand on JODI’s head.]
Merv: You did good, kid.
Jodi: Will I see you soon?
Merv: Every night, if you know where to look.
Jodi: [Yawning] Your head’s like the moon.
[JODI walks back to her spot and falls asleep.]
[MERV sweeps up to upstage and sweeps at the GIANT SNAKE on the back wall. The GIANT SNAKE spins and with a great effort, MERV pushes the snake. It rolls off the back wall and exits.]
[MERV lights a cigarette, inhales, and when he exhales, the stage fills with smoke.]