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Archive: Contents of American Haibun & Haiga Volume 1

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Arizona Zipper

One Act Play

Scene opens with SETH (mid-20s) studying the liner notes from an old vinyl record jacket. He is seated in a heavy lounge chair, center stage, that faces a bookcase, stage left, against the wall. An oval mirror hangs behind a stuffed bobcat gathering dust on the bookcase. At Seth's immediate left, below a lit floor lamp, Takemitsu's short (10'34") percussive composition Munari by Munari (1967) is playing on the turntable.

Behind Seth, near the stage right wall, is a tall sculpture workstand with a plaster work-in-progress. A closed door is slightly to its right. Just a few feet away, upstage right, Seth has clamped to a Victorian (crank style) easel, a large black canvas. Painted in the middle of it are two words: DOG BUTTER.

A full moon is becoming more visible as snowflakes begin to peter out in the back window, upstage left. An assortment of half smoked stogies crowd the ashtray stand beside his right elbow. Beyond the ashtray, down stage, Seth's dog has curled up on an oval rug for a nap. The music draws to a close with a lingering, enigmatic vibration, incurred, perhaps, with a soft mallet. Seth (in disgust) tosses liner notes aside, stands up and straightens out his smock with agitated movements as he speaks:

SETH: '. . . a limpid stream in the mountains . . .' my foot! We don't need a story here, thank you. This is music as it is. A pensive little time piece so tactile you can almost reach out and touch it! (Seth bends down, drops record needle at beginning again.) Sparingly, the composer releases a note here, a sound cluster there, at intervals which allow each percussive event a chance to flower in the ear and take shape in the mind's eye. If nothing else, Takemitsu confirms that there is life after Brahms. (Chuckles to himself, picks up his palette and boldly obliterates DOG BUTTER from the canvas with a daub of black paint.)

Seth (with renewed energy) sets out to render in pig-ment the percussionist's murmur of images as they rise and fall across the galaxy of Takemitsu's floating world. Immersed in the music, Seth (impassioned now) attacks the canvas with a riot of color until the only sound we hear coming from the stage is that of his brush against the linen and the record needle rotating at the edge of the label. Seth (reviewing his work) inches backwards toward the turntable and replays the recording.

Suddenly a gurge of snowmobiles thunders past and he is drawn to the lunar landscape in the window where he tarries, overwhelmed by the bleak raw beauty of the winter scene. Moments pass. Another snowsledder roars by as he stands there preoccupied. Seth (slowly) returns to his easel, hesitates, and then, with a flourish, scrawls across the canvas:


He surveys this latest addition at a distance before continuing to paint a pale moon rising from the contour of a mountain range under a black and blue sky. The music ends. Seth (spent) plops into the armchair, fishes out a cigar butt and lights up a stickmatch with his thumbnail. He tilts back to gaze up at a reek of blue haze curling into the flies as the lights fade. Curtain.


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