John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)
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Why Must I Starve?
A one-act play exploring the relationship between us in the affluent western world and those destitute in Africa
"Er mwyn i chi ysgwyd y swm dros ben iddynt, ac yn dangos y nefoedd yn fwy cyfiawn"
" That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, and show the heavens more just"
Shakespeare, King Lear
A Woman of Africa(One of the starving)
A Man of the Western World(One of Us)
The stage is in darkness. The 1st Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. The screen of a TV, located centrally, illuminates [if required for reasons of audience 'ease of viewing', and or dramatic effect, a back-stage projection system can additionally be employed]. The news is on, a report of people starving in Africa is being transmitted. There is no sound from the TV, only vision. Two spotlights illuminate a woman and a man, the TV between them. She is dressed in rags, he casually. He is watching the TV, she faces the audience slowly scanning their visages. The music slowly fades [in all instances duration of music is to Director's discretion] then she turns towards him and speaks:
Why must I starve?
He turns off the TV, with a hand-held remote control [though in reality the TV will be controlled off-stage] and turns towards her:
I'm sorry, but I don't know why.
But you know I do?
I saw you on TV.
What is ... TV?
You know, well, when those men who ask you questions and point boxes at you ... well those boxes are what we call cameras ...
With which you take pictures?
Yes, that's right. Well, see, everybody has got in their home a thing we call a TV. And the pictures which they take with those cameras appears on our TVs.
The cameras were pointed at me.
Yes, I know, I saw you on TV.
I was in your home?
Well not you but your picture.
But my picture is me, for it is of me.
Yes, but a picture is just an image. All we saw wasn't you ... well, it was just a picture.
But of me?
So you don't really care then?
No, really I do. Honest!
But you saw me starving and yet still I starve. If you cared you would have done something about it. I wouldn't be dying, I would be living.
We're all dying.
I am, we all are. After all everybody does, don't they?
I know they do but it shouldn't be like this. This isn't life, it's a living death.
Well, that's what I said. We're all dying. For all of us life is a living death.
But not like mine. Your life isn't like mine.
True, but it doesn't alter the fact that we are all born to die.
How can you be so heartless, so cold, so unfeeling? Are you not human?
Of course I am human. It's just that death is the reality of life. Without death there would not be life.
I don't want to die.
Nor do I.
So you say that I must accept my fate, that I must simply lie down and die?
Well I didn't say that.
But you meant it.
No I didn't, of course not. No, what I mean is that ... Well, what do you expect?
Of me if you like.
Well of you nothing for you are nothing for you are not human!
It's no good being nasty at me now. Being nasty to people solves nothing.
Nor does to beg and plead for still we die.
Well that's not strictly true for we do provide some help.
But it's not enough, look around you, we die! Each day we die, more die, children die. We have no future except death.
Well I'm afraid that's reality. None of us have any future in the physical reality of our being. All that your body is is a physical manifestation of your being, of your soul, of your everlasting immortal soul.
So I won't die?
No, your soul won't, everybody knows that, for the soul is everlasting.
So I will live again?
Well, that's what we believe. But if it's true it isn't something anyone can prove.
Then why do you believe it?
It's not like that. I mean really it's not too important since whether or not the soul is everlasting is irrelevant really since if it is, or if it isn't, we've still got to die as a body.
I don't understand you, you talk nonsense.
Well let's put it like this. If the soul is everlasting then it must first lose its bodily form to be released, and being released carry on forever.
Carry on as what?
An everlasting soul.
But what's that?
An everlasting soul.
Yes, I know that's what you call it, but what is it? What does it do?
I don't know, it hasn't happened to me yet and, besides, it's a one-way process. For your body dies into a soul. Now whether or not you believe in reincarnation is a different matter. But it's sort of recognised that even with reincarnation you come back as a different body.
Come back from where?
From eternity, or heaven if you like.
Why do you say: If I like?
Well nobody agrees on what the truth really is so ... Well, what can I say? All I can do is to tell you what options there are.
Why you, why are you telling me this?
I don't know, all we're having is a conversation. It's not that important really, is it?
I suppose it's not so there's nothing to say really.
No, not really, and that's the basic truth I suppose.
So you're not going to do nothing, you're going to help me?
Well there's nothing I can personally do really. Though, as I said, as a society we are helping through charities and governmental aid. As part of the international community we're doing the best we can.
But it's not enough!
I'm afraid that's life, nothing ever is.
But why are you afraid? After all it's not happening to you and your family, to your loved ones, to your heart.
Just a figure of speech really.
What is a figure of speech?
Oh dear ... What is a figure of speech? Well I don't know really, just a collection of words that express a meaning if you know what I'm talking about.
Like: Jesus loves me?
Not really, that's more a statement of fact.
I don't feel like he loves me.
That's true of most of us.
But you're not starving, you're well fed. You're not a skeleton, you're fat. You're not clad in rags, you're dressed in fine clothes. You're not all smelly and dirty, you're clean. You're not poor, you're rich.
What me rich, you've got to be joking? I'm poor!
How can you be poor if you have enough to eat, are clean and wear clothes? You are a worthless liar!
Now hold your horses, no need to lose your temper and get emotional about all this. Okay, compared to you I'm not poor but I'm certainly not rich. I know lots and lots of people who earn more than me.
All you think of is yourself! You don't really care about me, you just pretend so that others will think you good. But of others you have not a care for all that is sacred to you is you!
She turns away from him and faces the audience slowly scanning their visages as the 2nd Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony begins. He turns towards the TV and, with the remote control, turns it on. A game-show type programme is now being transmitted. There is no sound from the TV, only vision. The music slowly fades then she turns towards him and speaks:
Are you married?
Oh, you're still there.He turns off the TV, with the remote control, and turns towards her: I thought you'd gone away.
You hoped I'd gone away, you want me to disappear, you want me to die!
Of course I don't, you know that's not true.
How do I know ...
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John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales