charles mee

the (re)making project

The Plays

House of Cards [sample]

by Charles L. Mee

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The piece plays out at a very slow, dream-like pace.
The setting is beautiful, exquisite.
A live tree is to one side.
Elsewhere is a woman with a cello.
A man builds a house of cards throughout the entire piece
so that the house of cards becomes a vast, elaborate structure.

He speaks:

There was once a man named Frederick
who had a small son,
and the son had a pet tortoise.
One day the father decided to roast the tortoise,
so he put a burning stick against the tortoise's belly.
The tortoise kicked
and jerked his head
and urinated,
and the heat of the stick
caused the shell on the tortoise's belly to split.
So the father put his hand up inside the shell,
while the tortoise struggled,
the father slit its belly with his knife
and pulled out its intestines.

By this time,
the tortoise had pulled a little into its shell
and was trying to hide there,
with his head between his knees,
looking out.
And meanwhile
the little boy had come to see what his father was doing.

And when the boy saw the tortoise,
he put his own arms up beside his head
and looked out—
just the way the tortoise looked out of his shell.

And now the father reached in and took hold of the tortoise's heart,
which was still beating,
and flipped the tortoise over onto the ground,
and while the man pulled out its heart,
the tortoise jerked violently.
And the father said to the son,
you see,
the tortoise—
like the earth itself,
or like a man—
is a slow, tough creature
that can live on a while
even after its heart is gone.

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