What follows is my entry for TenMinJoe's Gone in Sixty Seconds - A Theatre Quest. It may seem a bit presumptuous of me to offer up yet another version of a myth that has already been treated in verse, drama, and interactive fiction by such grand masters as Ovid, George Bernard Shaw, and Emily Short (respectively). In my defence, I can say that (1) nobody will waste very much time by reading my version, which fits well within the parameters of TenMinJoe's one-min. shows, and (2) I actually wrote the first draft of this in 1996, somewhere over the North Atlantic on a British Airways flight from Birmingham to Toronto, and so it technically predates the work of at least one of my betters. It has never been published or performed before; in fact, it has languished in a spiral-bound notebook for eight years until opportunity knocked and I was inspired to tidy it up and post it here.
I have included my original suggestions as to costuming and lighting, for the sake of completeness, but I believe that the sketch can be successfully put on with the minimal resources described by TenMinJoe. After all, there is a long and noble tradition of playwrights demanding the impossible and directors somehow managing to deliver brilliant approximations thereof; and besides, it's not as if I'm calling for the onstage transmogrification of a poodle or some such.
by Waldemar Exkul
[Downstage left, the NARRATOR, a woman in modern clothing, lit by a neutral spotlight, stands in front of the proscenium. She is holding some notes. Slightly farther upstage and to the right, but not quite at the centre of the stage, GALATEA, a statue, stands frozen on a small pedestal. In fact she is an actress wearing a white bodysuit, and lit by a colder, bright white, tightly focused fresnel to give the impression that she is made of marble. Over the course of the narrator's speech, the light on GALATEA gradually fades from white to red. To GALATEA's left stands PYGMALION, a man in a toga, holding in one hand one of the tools of his arta mallet or a chisel or a file; his other hand is empty. His face and hair are covered in fine white dust. He is lit by a weak yellowish light from the right. The NARRATOR speaks in a steady, measured voice, but she clutches her notes tightly, and we can see that her hands are trembling. As she speaks, PYGMALION and GALATEA perform the actions she describes.]
- The sculptor stepped back to admire his work. As the sweat trickled down his dusty forehead, the statue on the pedestal was gradually transformed. The cold white marble softened and deepened into the gentle pink of living skin... and the glaring red of torn flesh. Clutching helplessly at her bleeding stomach and thighs, weighed down by the stone that still clung to her breasts, Galatea stumbled from the pedestal, gasping the first and last words of her brief life:
- Good gods, Pygmalion! What did you think I looked like?
[GALATEA collapses on the floor. As PYGMALION starts to move his empty hand, the lights fade to black. The NARRATOR turns and walks out.]
Afterword: Classical Greek sculptors, as compared with, say, present-day American advertisers, had a much more realistic view of female beauty, so perhaps I am being a bit unfair to Piggy here. Still, even dear old Publius Ovidius Naso (not that he was faithful to his Greek sources) calls the sculptor a misogynist, one who "detest[ed] the faults beyond measure which nature has given to women" and aspired to do nature one better. (I can't really quote Ovid at will; that was cribbed from Edith Hamilton.) So perhaps the real Galatea would have bled in other places, but she would have bled nonetheless.