Eve (an interactive drama) (idea)
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Tue Jan 02 2001 at 0:47:25
An interactive drama
Allegorical Adam 2
Allegorical Adam 3
Allegorical Adam 4
Note: Adams must not be credited in the playbill
The entire theatre is cast as a stylized “
Garden of Eden
”. The color scheme (supplied by colored lights) is green, green, and more green. The temperature is balmy. Pachabel’s Canon and the sounds of birds chirping play softly in the background. The refreshments at the bar are
The stage is circular; the audience will be seated all around it. Center stage, lit from above and below, is an immense tree (this must be motorized to perform required stage actions later)
. It reaches the roof, and its branches spread over the audience. The tree is plastic/wood/plexiglas (whatever), but hanging from its branches are real fruit (apples, oranges, pears, or the like are fine, but they’ve got to be sumptuous and juicy). The rest of the stage is shrouded in mist. Fans blow perfumed, appetizing scents into the audience.
There can be no curtain from the ceiling due to the tree’s branches; instead there is an opaque screen around the stage that rises from the floor of the stage before and in between acts.
About five minutes before the curtain rises, as audiences enter the theatre, a deep, benevolent
sounding, booming voice issues from an unseen speaker:
All you who are here now
- of every refreshment at the bar in the garden thou mayest eat, for free. But thou mayest not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for on the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die
A naked young woman enters from the rear of the theatre. She stands in one of the aisles, and addresses the audience:
I was just born into this lovely garden. Is there anything important I should know?
Presumably, a number of members of the audience will raise their hands to inform Eve of their various takes on God’s command. One of them is Allegorical Adam 1, an actor (gender, age, etc. are not of the least importance for any of the Adams) disguised as a member of the audience.
Woman points to him and says:
Adam (lit by spotlight, so the rest of the audience knows where he is):
We can eat any refreshment at the bar in the garden, but
has commanded, “Of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, do not eat from it, and do not touch it, lest you die.”
She looks slightly disappointed but curious. She proceeds through the aisle, climbs the steps onto the stage, and stands in front of the tree, staring at it. A Twilight Zone-esque sound is heard, and “The Snake” is raised onto the stage, on a motorized platform, through a hidden trapdoor. The Snake is an actress of exactly Woman’s height, build, and hair coloring (if the actress playing Woman has an identical twin that is ideal).
Her entire body is painted gray, with brown markings on her sides, so that she blends into the mist on stage, but her eyes are bright red (due to red contact lenses). Her voice has a faint hiss. Woman stops walking and stands in thought. The Snake is standing not far from her, arms outstretched towards her (ala Mickey Mouse’s arms when is gently encouraging the broom to come to life in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”).
But… Because God said you should not eat from every tree of the garden?
Woman (talking to herself while staring, transfixed, at the tree, not facing the snake):
From the fruit of the tree of the garden we should eat. But Elohim said, “Of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, do not eat from it, and do not touch it, lest you die.”
…Because Elohim that on the day that you eat from it…and your eyes will open and you will be like Elohim, knowing good and bad.
Woman (Walks slowly around the tree, inspecting it, while saying):
The tree is good to eat…It looks delicious…It seems wonderful…
Hesitantly, reaches out and takes a fruit. Takes only a tiny, fearful bite. Immediately thereafter she squints her eyes closed and bends over as if expecting a blow to fall. When none comes she opens her eyes and slowly inspects her arms, looks over her body. Meanwhile the snake appears increasingly exhultant and exits the stage through the same motorized trapdoor.
Nothing happened. I feel fine!
Addresses the audience.
Hey, look! The fruit isn’t poisonous! In fact (
seductively, swinging her hips
it was luscious, juicy. And just like it didn’t hurt me, it won’t hurt you either!
Does anyone want some?
There may or may not be audience members who will volunteer to taste the fruit. If there are, Woman will call on one of them. In case there are not, there will be a second actor (as before, of any physical appearance) who will answer OK, sure if no one else does. In either case, “Adam” is lit by a spotlight, and Woman tosses him/her the fruit (any other method of passing it would take too long), and waits for him to eat it. (If “Adam” is a real member of the audience, some improvisation will be required on Woman’s part: he/she must be encouraged to eat the fruit in case of hesitation. The rationale used is more along the lines of
It didn’t hurt me, so it won’t hurt you.
As soon as Adam eats, a loud, jarring chord (ala the end of “A Day in the Life”) plays. All in a moment, the theatre is blasted with cold air, the green lights are shut and extremely harsh white lights are turned on, and, and the refreshments bar, the food and drink is replaced with a much more limited selection of carbohydrates and a prohibitively expensive price list is put up at the refreshments bar
Woman stands frozen in the last position she had taken at the end of Act One, one of seduction. When the screen falls she expresses (through body language) horror and surprise at this tactic on her part
. She lets out a small, high shriek, tenses, crosses her arms over her body, then pulls long strips of bark from the tree and crudely covers herself with them.
voice of God, again deep and not unkind, but much louder than before, terribly loud (there will have to be a stereo system with multiple speakers in place all around the theatre so the voice can play as if it is circling and traveling through the theatre). Woman starts in fear and darts into a crevice of the (partially hollow) tree. The branches of the tree above the audience descend so each audience member is surrounded by dark branches and leaves.
God (sounds distressed):
Where did you go…?
(Receives no answer.)
Why can you not bear to answer me? Why are you hiding? How did you come to use your nakedness the way you did? Did you disobey my commandment and eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from??
A third actor hiding in the audience screams out (this and the next outburst from an Adam in the audience are not prompted by Eve like the previous two, they re intended to appear utterly spontaneous, and so they do not attract the spotlight):
It was all THAT WOMAN’s fault
The other two Adams chime in. Best case scenario: the rest of the audience will chime in and boo Woman for minutes while she pokes her head out of the tree, looks terrified, and begins to cry. If there is no audible audience response, that is fine, the three Adams are enough.
What is this that you did? You made Adam sin!
The fruit seemed delicious so I ate it…
God (from speaker near the stage):
Woman, don’t you understand? That your desire did this is proof that it is sneaky, low down, and never ever satisfied. You and your children will be battling it forever! You can crush it, but it can bite you.
And your sorrows will surely multiply. Even though you were allowed to eat from the tree, you made Adam sin, and because of this he will hate you. He will rule inside you
, not even all of your conception and childbirth can bring you fulfillment.
(From multiple speakers throughout the theatre:)
But all of you, you have really sinned, you listened to Woman instead of to me and disobeyed my commandment. I have to punish you: The earth will be cursed because of you, and will sprout weeds and thistles among the grass that you grow to eat.
Your food will no longer be free, it will be dearly bought with the sweat of your brow, and you will be unable to enjoy it because you will have no time to cease working long enough to savor it. You life will be toil from the time you are born until you return to the earth from which you came.
Upon hearing this Adam 4 (again, in the audience) screams out: No!!
He runs onto the stage and begins beating Woman, calling her
Slut! Whore! You seduced me and looks what has been done to me!
They both cry.
This is your new life. Here, take these coats and cover your bodies.
(Spotlight reveals a pile of leather coats in a corner of the stage.)
Now, go. You used to be like me or like an angel, you used to know that the only true good and bad is determined by my will. Now you have succumbed to your basest instincts, and I do not trust you in my garden, near the
Tree of Life
. I do not trust you with it
Eve puts on a coat and climbs off the stage, through the aisle, and leaves through the back.
I said go, now!
God has been referring to the audience as well as Eve. Ushers, arms with intimidating swords and costumed as angels, step in to the rows of the audience and physically and frenetically herd everyone out of the theatre. Afterwards they guard the doors and do not let anyone return (as in, Person:
“But I left my pocketbook in there!”
“Go work the land where you came from!”).
Even though the primary active character in this play is Eve, the point that I am making it that according to a chronological, literal reading of the text, only Adam was commanded not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (3:17, the command, occurs before the creation of Eve). In my version I identify Adam solely with the audience, and essentially test them.
2:16- “And Hashem Elokim commanded Adam, saying, “from every tree of the garden you shall freely eat” (literally, ‘eating you shall eat’)
The centrality of the tree in the stage layout is due its recurrence as a literary theme (i.e. “THE tree…THE tree…) in chapter 3. Also, it is clearly emphasized in Eve’s mind because she refers to it as “in the center of the garden” (3:3), whereas in God’s command it is only “The Tree of Good and Evil” (2:16).
My goal here, as stated previously, is to tempt the audience and place them as fully as possible in Adam’s shoes so that they can understand and perhaps identify with his sin.
In 2:16, the name used to refer to God when He gives the command to Adam is “Hashem Elokim”, which combines justice and mercy. Eve feels the command is more onerous than this, as she ascribes it (3:3) only to “Elokim”- the god of justice.
3:3 says the command was given to Adam. The equivalent of Adam is the audience, that if, everyone there at the time of the command.
Practically a literal transcription of 2:16
Eve is created in 2:21-22, after Adam is placed in the garden. There is no mention of her being told anything; her mind may well have been a blank slate.
In 2:17 Eve is created to be a “helper opposite” Adam, phraseology which (because her role is to help Adam) could indicate submission. (Hence, “sir/ma’am”.)
This is an almost direct transcription of Eve’s understanding of the content of the command (in 3:2-3). She heard the command differently than God gave it, either due to her own interpretation, or, as I have understood, because she did not receive the command. Apparently, she heard it from Adam, who mangled the content of the command by adding on the prohibition of touching the tree, and perhaps the spirit of the command by transmitting it to her at all.
In other places in the Torah where an animal talks, some special notice is made, along the lines of “And God opened the mouth of”. Because there is nothing like that here, we see that the snake naturally spoke, perhaps because it was not a real snake, but an allegorical one. In addition, its grammatically fragmented speech
(specifically in 3:1) has it sound like Eve’s own
stream of consciousness
. Here I have portrayed the snake as her curiosity/
A literal transcription of 3:2-3. Eve’s response inserts a number of elements that were not in God’s command: the centrality of the tree in the garden, the prohibition against touching the tree, and the association of God with “Elohim” (Justice) and not “Hashem Elohim” (Justice tempered with Mercy).
The Snake says literally this in 3:4. It doesn’t say definitively that Eve won’t die, but he expresses Eve’s doubts.
This theory appears here for the first time. In God’s command no such result is mentioned. But if Eve has been told that she cannot eat from the tree, and Adam has referred to the tree as God did, as “The
Tree of Knowledge
of Good and Evil”, then it would be intuitive (at least if she if projecting human reasoning onto God) for her to make the association that God did not want people eating from this tree because the knowledge it would give them would make them godlike.
In 3:6 Eve discovers all of the trees desirous, appetizing qualities. I have had her maintain a hesitation to eat the fruit, because if she had been in direct rebellion against God, she certainly would have been punished more definitively than she was (see below).
2:6- “and she gave to the man who was with her”- the statement that Adam was with Eve when she gave him the fruit has a sexual connotation. If Adam did receive the command from God, it would probably have taken more to get him to sin than to get Eve to sin. If both cases though, they eat due to their desire.
The implication is that she wants her
(punishment or benefit, whatever eating the fruit engenders) to befall Adam as well.
During the intermission (and, owing to the cold air, throughout the second act), the audience experiences a foretaste of Adam and Eve’s punishment (which will be detailed in Act Two).
I take the view that Adam and Eve both ate from the tree because they were seduced by their physical desires. “They opened their eyes” (3:7) does not necessarily entail a result of some special property of the tree, but rather that they were at first wrapped up in their licentious behavior, and that afterwards their inherent shame, or
, which we can see as having been present from the inception, caught up with them. This was the first occasion that Eve used her sexuality as a tool, and Adam succumbed to it, so that this is the first time they have occasion to be ashamed of the nakedness that facilitated it. (That is, nakedness is not inherently wrong, otherwise why would God have made people naked?) The knowledge propagated by the tree is the practical knowledge of the potential of nakedness to bring about desire and sublimation of God’s will, but the tree brings this about only in an indirect way.
The intention here, though difficult to engender in today jaded population, is that the audience will feel at least some shame of self-disgust with their own reaction to the fruit and to Eve. This is why I have had the actress perform naked (as Eve was in the text) and actively seduce the audience (obviously the
is a story
for mature audiences only
In 3:8, Adam and Eve hear the voice of God, but there is no indication what God is saying at that point. My thought is that God must be making some sort of non-verbal sound. If he was called “Elohim”, I would have said that that sound was a scream of anger, but because he is “Hashem Elohim”, an expression of mercy, I believe that he was loath to punish Adam and Eve, and is distressed that they sinned and He has to.
In 3:8 (according to one placement of the commas) Adam- here, the audience- and Eve both hide with the tree.
It was impossible for me to adequately have an allegorical Adam in the audience speak Adam’s lines from 3:10, so I had God phrase that answer as a rhetorical question whose answer is yes. The tone of 3:9-3:11 isn’t necessarily angry; i hear it as mournful and tragic. God is not even necessarily invulnerable- if He created people for his own companionship, and to worship Him, then He needs them. So that when they distance themselves from Him by disobeying His command, He is crestfallen.
My theory is that Eve was permitted to eat from the tree, but Adam was not (because only he was commanded). Her sin was in seducing Adam to sin. Notably, God only asks “Did you eat from the tree?” when he is addressing Adam. (3:11)
This is a close adaptation of 3:14. In the verse God speaks as if addressing the snake, but if the snake is really Eve’s desire of Eve, then He is really addressing her. And neither can God be “punishing” something that is not its own entity, so I read the verse as him explaining the realities of the snake of Eve- she succumbed to it because she was overwhelmed, but she should not have been, she should have braced herself for the strong and constant onslaught.
This is a reading of 3:17 from the point of view that the sin did not engender any physical change in Adam and Eve, but rather one in their situation. Also, as is clear from a modern day point of view, for the most part children is something that is celebrated, not mourned (the term used in the verse for “grief” corresponds more to emotional sadness than to physical pain).
An exact translation of the verse, with an emotional and/or a sexual subtext
Notably, God does not curse Adam here, only the land, yet another sign of reticence and mercy, especially considering in 2:17 he said that as soon as Adam ate from the tree he would die.
This is a free interpretation of 3:20, based on God’s comment to Eve that Adam will dominate her and Adam’s probable rage toward Eve for having seduced him. The verse says he calls her “Chava” in reference to her fecundity. I do not read this as a compliment, as fertility goes hand in hand with seductiveness.
God says in 3:22 that Adam was godlike, that is, he is not anymore. Now, for reasons not clear in the verse, he cannot be trusted with the tree of life and whatever results from eating its fruit.
I like it!
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