BY DANIEL MacIVOR
Staged November 12th-14th 2009 @ Memorial Hall, UNB,Fredericton, NB
Staged November 27th-28th 2009 @ Saint John High School Mini-Theatre, Saint John, NB
Director – Scott Shannon
Technical Director – Nicholas Cole
Stage Manager/Sound Tech – Emily Brennan
Lighting Design – Mike Johnston & ENGL3170 Production Class
Light Tech – Michael Holmes-Lauder (Fredericton)
Light Tech – SJHS Tech Crew (Saint John)
Poster and Logo design – Alberto White
Telegraph Journal article/interview –
Nasty Shadows’ softer side: Fredericton theatre company stages Daniel MacIvor’s ‘Marion Bridge’
Photos by Michael Holmes-Lauder
(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE)
AGNES: In the dream I’m drowning. But I don’t know it at first. At first I hear water and I imagine it’s going to be a lovely dream. Even though every time I dream the dream I’m drowning each and every time I dream the dream I forget. Fooled by the sound of water I guess …
… it becomes very clear that the water I’m hearing is the water that’s rushing around my ears and fighting its way into my mouth and pulling me down into its dark, soggy, oblivion.
And then, just when it seems it’s over — that I drown and that’s the dream — in the distance, on the beach, I see a child … And his sister … Then behind them comes their mother spreading out a blanket on the sand. It’s a picnic. And beside the mother is the man.
And with all my strength — if you can call strength that strange, desperate, exhausted panic — I wave. My right arm. High. So they’ll be sure to see. And they do. They see me. And then all of them, standing in a perfect line, they all wave back. The little girl, her brother, their mother and the man. They smile and wave.
AGNES: The suitcase has wheels.
THERESA: Oh I’m fine.
AGNES: It’s got wheels.
THERESA: I don’t mind carrying it.
AGNES: Use the bloody wheels! It’s not a sin you know. You don’t have to make every goddamn thing you do the way of the cross.
THERESA: Are you drunk?
LOUISE: Agnes get in alright?
THERESA: Yes fine.
LOUISE: Where is she?
THERESA: In the bathroom. So you got the car all taken care of?
LOUISE: Oh yeah, it was just some buildup in the fuel line. (Pause.) She drunk?
THERESA: Well she hates to fly.
THERESA: She’s a little upset.
LOUISE: ‘Cause of Mother?
THERESA: I don’t think Agnes thought she’d be quite so bad.
LOUISE: She went in?
THERESA: Well, not while I was here.
AGNES: So. Are you working?
LOUISE: I got a job at the Red Rooster.
AGNES: Right right, taht restaurant.
AGNES: Pub. How’s that going?
LOUISE: I got laid off in January.
THERESA: I didn’t like that place anyway.
LOUISE: How come?
THERESA: It was so loud.
LOUISE: You were only there once.
THERESA: And what a night that was.
LOUISE: They opened up a gas station.
AGNES: A gas station?!
LOUISE: Sandy said people don’t go out to restaurants anymore because they eat home.
THERESA: Tell her the end of it.
LOUISE: The end of it?
THERESA: The end of it. That Sandy said.
LOUISE: Oh yeah, he goes: people don’t go out to restaurants anymore because they eat home but you can’t get gas home– and then he goes: unless your mother’s cooking.
(THERESA and LOUISE laugh.)
AGNES: I give up! I honestly give up! I surrender to ths town, I surrender, I give up! Look at these.
THERESA: What are those for?
AGNES: For Mother’s room. Do you want to bring them in?
THERESA: Oh Mother doesn’t like cut flowers.
AGNES: What did I say?
THERESA: The ‘c’ word’.
AGNES: The ‘c’ word? No I certainly have not used the ‘c’ word here!
THERESA: Yes you … Oh! No, not that ‘c’ word. Good heavens.
AGNES: Well which ‘c’ word, there’s only one ‘c’ word … Oh well I guess that’s a ‘c’ word too but I don’t think I’ve had any cause to say that here either.
THERESA: The Lord’s name.
(AGNES enters with the remote control. LOUISE follows close behind.)
AGNES: I’m calling a time-out on the TV.
LOUISE: Give me that back. it’s my TV.
AGNES: And it’s my headache.
LOUISE: Maybe you wouldn’t have a headache if you weren’t up all night drinking.
AGNES: I was up all night because I couldn’t sleep!
LOUISE: You were up all night because it took you that long to drink all Mother’s arthritis brandy.
(THERESA sits up reading. Some thumping off stage. After a few moments AGNES enters with her suitcase. She is very tired and a little drunk. AGNES plops herself down in a chair.)
THERESA: Where have you been?
AGNES: Trying to find a hotel that would take my credit card.
THERESA: What kind is it?
AGNES: The over the limit kind.
AGNES: I’m just old and ugly.
THERESA: Don’t forget mean.
AGNES: Thanks a lot.
THERESA: I’m mad at you.
(THERESA sits at the table. She looks through the many post-it notes she has collected.)
THERESA: Louise, what are you doing?
LOUISE: All the Patron Saints in alphabetical order of what they’re patron of. Dory’s teaching me — she knows every single one. I’m up to ‘e’ but I can’t remember ’emigrants.’ Ecuador: Sacred Heart. Editors: Saint Clare. England: St. George. But emigrants …
(LOUISE wanders off.)
THERESA: You’re wearing a skirt!
THERESA: You look so nice in a skirt.
LOUISE: How come whenever I wear a skirt everybody goes “You’re wearing a skirt!”?
THERESA: Well you hardly ever wear a skirt.
LOUISE: ‘Cause everybody’s always talking about it when I do.
THERESA: It’s nice you’re wearing a skirt.
THERESA: What happened?
AGNES: I saw her.
THERESA: You saw her.
AGNES: I saw her. I talked to her.
THERESA: You told her?
AGNES: No. But I talked to her.
THERESA: What was she like?
AGNES: She’s beautiful. She’s just … She’s built sort of like Louise and she’s got your face and my hair — but Mother’s eyes, not mine at all. And thank God I think she got off lucky because I coudn’t see a trace of Sandy in her.
LOUISE: Let’s go.
AGNES: Go where?
THERESA: We’re having dinner at Dad’s.
AGNES: Oh no, I totally forgot.
LOUISE: What do you mean?
THERESA: Are you alright for it? Do you want to postpone it?
AGNES: No, fine, no, let’s get it all done in a day that’s the way to do it.
AGNES: We will eat our meal, I will not drink two bottles of wine and attack him with a butter knife, exactly ninety minutes after we arrive we will leave, and then we will come home and tell Mother we had a wonderful time and that will be the end of it.
LOUISE: What if we do have a wonderful time?
AGNES: Then we better bring an umbrella, what with all the pigs flying.
THERESA: And her calling him ‘Daddy.’ If that’s not enough to turn you off your meal
AGNES: (laughing) “Pass the binoculars.”
AGNES: “Pass the binoculars.”
THERESA: Oh now I know, don’t laugh.
AGNES: But you’ve got to hand it to her though, cool as a cucumber. He says “Pass the binoculars” and she just passes him a bun like nothing’s wrong.
THERESA: She made a joke of it.
AGNES: Well what else are you going to do?
THERESA: And he couldn’t even remember Louise’s name.
AGNES: And when the phone rang and he says, “Get the tub.”
THERESA: Oh no, I know, don’t laugh.
AGNES: But he was pretty close though with the buns. I mean they were hard as binoculars.
THERESA: The binoculars were so tough they should have had a good soak in the phone before she served them!
AGNES: How’s Mother? Louise? How’s Mother?
THERESA: Louise? How’s Mother?
LOUISE: She wouldn’t wake up. I tried but she wouldn’t.
THERESA: Oh good lord …
(THERESA exits to her Mother’s room.)
LOUISE: I tried to wake her up but she wouldn’t. And I leaned down and I said to her, “Mother?” I said. And I was going to tell her about being at Dad’s but I was going to make it sound nice and that. And I said “Mother?” But she wouldn’t wake up. So I touched her arm. I touched her arm and I could tell that she wasn’t there. She was there but she wasn’t there. Part of her was there but the part of her that was there wasn’t her. She’s up there but she’s not. Where is she?
(THERESA re-enters, upset.)
THERESA: Agnes. She’s gone.
AGNES: Oh God. Oh God.
THERESA: She was all alone.
AGNES: She was all alone.
LOUISE: She had this in her hand. (LOUISE holds up a note.)
THERESA: She was all alone.
(The women do not touch. They remain separate as the light fades.)
LOUISE: It’s a heart.
AGNES: She was alone.
LOUISE: A little heart.
THERESA: On the farm where I live we have animals — two cows and some chickens, a rooster, a tired old horse called Matilda and more cats than we can keep track of. Farming is wonderful: getting your hands down there in the beautiful dirt. When you’re working in it up to your elbows it starts to feel like liquid, thick dark liquid, like the blood of the earth.
And that’s really all I’ve got: the farm, the animals, the earth. And my faith. But lately I’ve been wondering if I’m there more for the farm than the faith. But one thing about the faith I know is right is the idea of owning nothing, having nothing but each day.
LOUISE: Your mouths were moving and words were coming out but you were talking about nothing?
AGNES: Nothing really.
LOUISE: Nothing really for me to know. Just like everything.
THERESA: What everything?
LOUISE: Everything everything. Like when Dad left and everybody said he was on a trip. Like Mother not even saying goodbye. Like everything. Like Marion Bridge that time.
THERESA: What time?
LOUISE: That time you all went and I didn’t.
AGNES: Where’s this coming from?
LOUISE: I never get to be part of nothing.
AGNES: We can go to Marion Bridge. We can go tomorrow.
LOUISE: No! No it’s too late. Dad’s gone and Mother’s gone and I never get to be part of anything. Always always ’cause I’m strange or something.
AGNES: Do you think she’s in heaven?
LOUISE: Of course she is.
AGNES: Stuart from prayer group says you have to spend until the end of time in limbo even if you were really really good and then when the world ends pretty much only saints get into heaven.
LOUISE: Yes but it’s different for mothers.
AGNES: Is it?
LOUISE: Oh yeah.
AGNES: Oh. So she’s in heaven.
LOUISE: Playing cards with Saint Peter.
AGNES: She liked Saint Jude.
LOUISE: They’re playing 45’s and Saint Jude is her partner.
(AGNES gives LOUISE a hug.)
AGNES: Yikes! What’s that for?
LOUISE: Because I love you.
AGNES: Get out of here. It’s your go.
(AGNES discards. LOUISE picks it up.)
AGNES: How did you do that?
(LOUISE shuffles the cards.)
LOUISE: You should talk less and watch your cards more.
(THERESA backs onto the stage from the living room. She is holding the remote control, mesmerized by the television.)
KARA (TV): “You know what I’d like to do my darling?”
JUSTIN (TV): “What sweet one?”
KARA (TV): “Let’s go for a lovely drive in the country.”
THERESA: No no don’t do it! It’s a trick!
JUSTIN (TV): “That would be wonderful.”
THERESA: No no she’s in with the aliens! Don’t do it!
KARA (TV): “Yes absolutely wonderful.”
THERESA: That Kara she’s just pure evil.
THERESA: Something on your mind?
AGNES: Oh nothing.
THERESA: Nothing is it?
AGNES: Oh no not really too much not really no.
THERESA: I see. (She heads to exit) Well I’m just going to go for a —
AGNES: Well no, well actually …
AGNES: Actually. (She clears her throat) I had a lovely day.
THERESA: Did you?
AGNES: Yes. I uh … I skipped class today and Joanie and I spent the afternoon together.
AGNES: How can you say that?
THERESA: Because I know.
AGNES: You think you always know, you think you’ve got it all worked out. Holy Saint Theresa all giving and kind but really you just don’t want anyone else to have a life. Not me not Louise. You don’t want anyone else to have a life because you don’t have one. That’s why you’re such a bitch.
THERESA: Oh that’s lovely.
AGNES: Well. You are.
THERESA: You have no idea about me Agnes, you just have no idea. You think it’s all so easy for me but it’s not — it’s not. This is a life I have — a big life. I’d like to see you try being a nun. People say awful things — they think worse things. And I have a heart you know — I didn’t give my heart up when I took my vows. And yes indeed I do live in the world. In this big old awful sick mess of a world. And my heart is filled with questions. Filled.
(LOUISE addresses the audience.)
LOUISE: On the highway and driving, the radio on a really good song. I won’t say what the song is ’cause you say one song and somebody hates that song — some people like country and some people like heavy rock some people like no singing, so just say the song is your favourite song.
Favourite song, on the highway, driving. Nothing ahead of you, nothing in your rear-view mirror. And the day say, say it’s the day. Day time driving is one thing, nighttime driving that’s something else. Nighttime driving, that’s heading into yourself but day time driving is heading out into the world, and here we’re talking about heading out out out into the whole world.
So it’s daytime, summertime, say about six o’clock, and say you’re heading east so that the sun’s right behind you — and everything all around you is that kind of orange kind of yellow kind of golden kind of colour.
Maybe you shouldn’t even know where you’re going, you’ll only know where it is when you get there. That would be best. And the thing you should be doing is staying really really still.
… and then it’s like the road is coming in through the front of the machine and moving right through your body and shooting out the back, it’s like the fields and the trees and the hills are these green lines in the golden light all around you and you are the machine you’re in and you are the road under you …
… and you are the wind and the air and the light and the music and the empty mirror and it is all moving so quickly and at the same time staying so still … moving, still, moving, still, both exactly perfectly, moving, still, both at the same time and everything is you and you are everthing.
You might think that’d be strange to think that way but that’s okay because people think I’m strange anyway. And maybe I am in some ways. I was thinking it might be ’cause I was the only one of the three of us not named for a saint. There’s no Saint Louise.
But see for me it’s like everybody’s strange, it’s just that some people show it more than other people do. I suppose some people would say it’s strange for me to be standing here talking to you. And some people would say it’s strange for you to be sitting there listening.
LOUISE: What are you doing?
AGNES: I’m writing a biography of Winston Churchill.
AGNES: Louise, what does it look like I’m doing?
LOUISE: Like you’re scrubbing the floor?
THERESA: What are you trying to do, get far enough into the grain so you can count the rings?
AGNES: It’s therapeutic.
THERESA: You should try getting out of the house. It’s a lovely day.
AGNES: Thanks for the advice and the weather report.
THERESA: It’s such a beautiful island. We so take it for granted living here, we don’t really see it.
AGNES: Tell it to the Tourist Bureau
THERESA: Neil’s Harbour. Ingonish. Meat Cove — so misunderstood.
AGNES: What are you talking about?
THERESA: Took a little drive around this morning.
AGNES: To Cape North?
THERESA: I saw her. Joanie.
THERESA: She’s pregnant.
THERESA: She just found out. She thought she might be but she jujst found out for sure.
AGNES: Oh my God.
THERESA: Two months along. And she wants the baby but she’s not taking care of herself. She needs some help. We have no choice but to do it. And that that … arse of a boyfriend he’s just left her high and dry.
AGNES: I’m too young to be a grandmother.
THERESA: That’s what happens when you start dealing with unconventional girls. Grandma.
AGNES: Stop that. Oh my God, a grandmother. I’m not even used to being a mother yet. Oh my Lord … Is this going to work? Is this … Can we do this Theresa?
THERESA: I was thinking and sometimes God just asks you to say “whatever”.
AGNES: No this is not whatever.
THERESA: This is exactly whatever. Grandma.
AGNES: Stop it!
THERESA: (Runs out laughing) Grandma!
AGNES: (Running out after her) You’re evil!
THERESA: (Off) Grandma!
AGNES: (Off) Stop it!
THERESA: Well come on then, truck, car, whatever we should go if we’re going.
AGNES: Oh Lord … What time did you say we’d be there?
THERESA: About four.
AGNES: Four? That’s half a day away!
THERESA: Yes I know, we’re going to take a little detour on the way.
AGNES: I don’t know if I can handle another detour.
(The women start out. They continue to talk as they exit.)
LOUISE: As long as we’re back in time for Theresa’s show.
THERESA: It’s not my show. I haven’t even looked at it in days.
LOUISE: Oh it’s getting really good again.
THERESA: I don’t even want to know.
AGNES: Yesterday was excellent
LOUISE: Oh yeah I love seeing Kara get hers.
THERESA: She did?
LOUISE: Yeah and good.
THERESA: Are the aliens gone?
LOUISE: Yeah they’re back to real stuff now.
THERESA: It was lovely. Mother was so happy. Just staring out at the sky, lost in her dreams. But Dad didn’t like that, no, he never liked seeing Mother content, and he started in on her. Just after that it started to rain. The rain followed us all the way home. And then it stopped. And then the four of us, us and Mother, we stood out in the backyard and saw the rainbow.
AGNES & LOUISE: Oh yeah.
THERESA: Filled the whole sky. My goodness look at it … So big out here. Like you could just touch it.
THERESA: Just touch it like that.
LOUISE: Look at the clouds.
LOUISE: Oh look at that one!
AGNES: Which one?
LOUISE: That one there. It’s a girl. See her? With her arm up?
AGNES: Oh yeah.
AGNES: She’s swimming.
LOUISE: No she’s riding a horse.
AGNES: I don’t see the horse.
THERESA: I don’t see the girl.
LOUISE: There. With the long hair and her arm up — and look a little smile.
THERESA: Oh yes.
AGNES: Where’s the horse?
THERESA: Right under her — see that big piece is the head and —
AGNES: Oh yes I see it.
THERESA: Look at that.
LOUISE: She’s happy.
AGNES: Riding away.
THERESA: She’s flying.
LOUISE: She is.
AGNES: She’s flying.
(THERESA takes a huge pile of yellow post-it notes from her pocket. She hands a bunch to LOUISE.)
LOUISE: You saved them.
(THERESA hands a bunch to AGNES and keeps a bunch for herself.)
THERESA: To the sky. For mother.
(The three women throw the notes high into the air. They stand each with arms above their head as the notes fall around them and the lights fade.)
Photos by Michael Holmes-Lauder