Sappho

A Love Affair in 10 Minutes

(First draft)

Scene 1

Lydia and Michael stand onstage. They are engaged, and their wedding is two weeks away. Michael takes her hand and looks her in the face.

Michael:

Lydia, love, life, river, water,
This is an occasion for loving truth.
17 years ago, when we were both aged just 11, we first met,
And since then our love has blossomed
Like buds that flow out on the wind.
Now we are engaged, and in two weeks we shall be married.
I have told you every side to me,
My past turned outward for you to see every last piece,
And you know me like the view from your bedroom window.
Now you must tell me all your secrets.
You told me there was a story you have kept secret from me
All these years; cast it out now, so that I can catch it,
And examine it as you, this girl who is soon to be my wife.
Lydia:
Indeed there is a story I have kept secret from you,
Michael, who since age fifteen I have adored like nothing else.
But this story, this thing that happened to me when I was eighteen,
May not be easy for you to accept.
Michael:
Tell it, tell it away,
Throw it down like night so that I can
Love you like the day.

 

Lydia:
I will tell it,
Because it has haunted me like strife all these years.
No matter what, Michael, remember these three things:
We have been boyfriend and girlfriend since we were fifteen;
In the thirteen years since, I have loved you as surely a wife will
Love a husband, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life;
And that, no matter what, we will be married in two weeks time,
And I will display the love that was constant all the while.
Like a tree that loses its leaves in the winter,
So I at all times can regrow with the spring.
I will tell my story.

Scene 2

10 years previously.

Lydia:

I was eighteen.
We were at a party,
With the flowing of alcohol
Alive in our veins!
Oh, on some such wings
I flew and bathed with drunken revelries!
All in youth, I was, and drunk
And falling away, in love with everything!

You, meanwhile, had disappeared with some friends
To some distant, exotic ecstasy,
Which I was separate from.
Exit Michael. Enter Sappho.

 

When alone at a party,
The mind is no longer one’s own;
And it was in just such a state
That I was approached by a girl.
Her name was –

Lydia + Sappho: (Simultaneously) Sappho.

Sappho:

You are curious.
I’ve eyed you like artwork
From the other side of
Knowing you.
I should like to talk,
And meet you midway with sentences
So that I may greet your character,
And soothe my desire to know who you are.

Lydia:

Well, I am Lydia,
A girl, I profess,
And I am, I should say,
No more, and no less.

Sappho:

Well Lydia,
One thing I confess,
All I see is beauty,
Especially your dress.

Lydia:            

Oh, please,
It’s a mess!

Sappho:

No, no, it’s the best!
Let’s not digress,
The lovely moon is watching,
And I want to impress.

Lydia:

Let’s have a drink-

Sappho:

Let’s have a drink,
And on the golden water
Of wine, let’s know a name
From a face.

Lydia:

We sat and we talked,
And for hours the petty movement of time
Had sunk right down
Like an anchor through the sea.
We laughed! My God, yes, we laughed,
Such a girl as this –
Oh, she was so free!
And as we laughed, we loved as well,
And soon, I perceived,
Something had changed.

Sappho:

Now it is late,
And all the other partygoers
Have sat and sunk right down.
You must go,
Your boyfriend must be wondering
Where you are.

Lydia:

(Standing)

Yes,
I’m sure he is worrying.

(Sappho stands too. There is an awkward moment.)

Sappho:

Well,
Bye.

(A pause. Sappho kisses Lydia. Another pause.) 

Sappho:

(Suddenly)
Here, take my number,
And make no hesitation,
Text me yours,
And let your curiosity sweep you forwards
Like a wave in the ocean.
I must go.
I’ll see you when time flows out.

(She hands Lydia a piece of paper. Exit Sappho. Enter Michael.)

 Michael:

Lydia!
I’ve missed you all night.
Has fun been your friend,
Or has he been your fright?

Lydia:

Senseless time,
I have not seen you pass by.
Yes, it was a good night.
But home, home now,
I must rest my head,
Because I spin like a girl in madness,
All clouded with thoughts.

They exit, and as they do so, Lydia glances back, then looks at the piece of paper and texts on her phone.

Scene 3

(This scene can be performed to music, if seems appropriate.)

Lydia is onstage alone. 

Lydia:

I find no peace, though all my war is done,
I fear and hope, though everything I drop,
I have nothing, though all my fight is won,
And wait and wait for all the world to stop.

(Enter Sappho).

She is a girl, though boy I thought I knew,
So very girl, of girl I thought not twice,
And now I doubt what I thought was true,
And feel myself falling for an unsought vice.

Sappho:         

But all this desire comes calling through the night,
And says quite clear, although I am not free,
Run out and do what you think is right,
And tell her what you’re looking for is me!

Lydia:

But I have a boyfriend,
Whom I love, I cannot make a lie!

Sappho:

If lies are what we are made of,
Then let’s dance with lies,
Because the truth is not here.

They dance.

Lydia:

Oh, weeping sorrows,
Oh baneless bounds of copious night,
Oh, simple sages of senseless nightmares,
What dream has become me now?
What love is it I have fallen for?

Sappho:

No dreams, no night,
Just day, just light,
No love that has been fallen for,
But bounds of openness in what is right,
Don’t doubt the confusion,
Don’t doubt the great fear,
Don’t doubt the feeling that it’s becoming clear,
Don’t run from the feeling,
Don’t run, and don’t flee,
Just dance with the movement,
Just dance, and be free.

They kiss.

Blackout.

Scene 4

Lydia:

I flowered for her that night,
And she became fear for me.
‘A girl!’ I cried, ‘a girl!
My kingdom for a girl!’
I have never loved a girl before,
I like boys,
Such as Michael –

(Enter Michael.)

Michael:

Come now Lydia,
Or we’ll be late,
Tonight the Devil has a party
Planned for our souls.
Come now! Why look so glum?
We’ve finished our exams – we’ve finished school!
We’re free! Don’t you see? We’re free!

Lydia:

Free – yes,
As free as the mind to the will of the heart.

Michael:

Freedom is in following where the heart will go,
Just like a river:
Just let it flow.
Anyway, we’ll be late.
The party starts soon-
It’s already eight!

(Exit Michael. Lydia receives a text message.)

Lydia:

Oh God,
Oh something, whatever that dwells above!
She has asked me to leave Michael.
Leave Michael! I could not,
Not for a girl – lest I declare myself
Swayed by the silver sanguine shape
Of the same sex.
She is beasted;
Damn the thing that makes her Sappho!
Tonight – tonight I must choose.

Scene 5

Lydia stands with Michael to one side of the stage, while Sappho stands to the other.

Michael:

She is beasted!
The treasures of time
Are lovely indeed,
Because here I am with my girlfriend,
And we are young, and we are free!

Lydia:

Quite, Michael,
Now if you will excuse me,
I have a quiet destiny
To lay my head down before.

Michael:

Tread softly,
And let the night be kind to you.

Exit Michael. Lydia approaches Sappho.

Lydia:

He is gone.

Sappho:

And what now?
Have you become mine?
In striving for their lovers,
Young girls can wait and dally
And confuse with men,
Then drop and wait, and do it all again;
But lovers like us, like you and me,
Down they rush, and out, and are free,
And drop like hours into eternity!
Now tell me, Lydia,
Are you mine?

Lydia:

Sappho,
You are gold, but my spirit is too weak,
Mortality weighs on me like unwilling sleep.

Sappho:

So what? What do you fear?
You fear being alone, as someone who loves girls,
And not the hefty hulking sight of men?

Lydia:

I am afraid!

Sappho:

Afraid of what? Afraid of what you are?

Lydia:

But this is not what I am!

Sappho:

But what are you?
What do you mean when you say that word ‘I’?
I’ll tell you what you are:
‘You’ are just such a whirlpool in a stream,
That every moment the stuff you are made of
Is changing, instant by instant,
And yet you insist you are the same whirlpool
You were yesterday.
You are water, Lydia,
I am too,
And to be wise,
We must not resist the water’s flow.

Lydia:

I love my boyfriend, Sappho-

Sappho:

But why not love a girl?

Lydia:

I love my boyfriend.
Now let it be.
Just like that river
I am flowing on;
And perhaps, someday,
We shall meet in the sea.

Sappho:

Very well.

(A pause.)

Farewell, love, and goodbye forever,
It was a sweet future, but we are no longer together.
Keep me close, like a bird to a feather,
And as long as I am there, you will always remember.

(Exit Sappho. Enter Michael. They are back in the present day.)

Lydia:

She is gone, and all her pleasant places
Have vacated too.
She was like a light that shined too bright,
And blinded me, and took away my sight.

Well, Michael,
Now you know my story.
Ten years has passed since then,
And, like Sappho, they drop like hours
Into eternity.

Michael:

I do not question this;
I do not question you.
There is one thing I have learnt in love
Above all others:
That the reason love is painful
Is because, as you want it to make you stronger,
It reveals to you just how weak
You really are.
Thank you for telling me about Sappho.
I understand you all the stronger for it.

Lydia:

Thank you, my love,
And love you are indeed.
I want a moment alone.

Michael:

On wings, Lydia, on wings.

(Exit Michael. Lydia produces a letter from her pocket. Sappho’s voice reads it as a voiceover. If voiceover is not possible then Lydia can read it.)

Sappho:

(Voiceover)

This letter dated August 2007.

Forget me right now; I can do you no good,
Nor stir in your heart the things I maintain;
Believe me I tried: I did all that I could,
But fate is unkind, and in the end was in vain.

Farewell, my love, and all your laws forever,
My baited hooks can tangle you no more;
It was not ours to end up together,
Nor to be in love, as you were before.

So farewell; begone; exit my mind;
And move with the days that flow on and on,
I’ll be standing right here, far, far behind,
And counting the days til your memory has gone.

If now you know what it is that you are,
Then remember no more; it will be better by far.

End.

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