Well, Hello again. This is a play I wrote for my house grouping because every year in my school we have a competition we call "Junior House Plays". Basically, every house grouping is given a topic and the seniors have to write a play for it and direct it, and the juniors have to perform it. Normally, only the drama-students have to actually get invovled (from the seniors, I mean) but my house grouping is low on capable seniors, and since I did drama last year and am considered the best writer in my house I was kinda bullied into doing this *nervous chuckle*
Well, I just hope you can enjoy this little bit of drama.
Disclaimer - I do not own the Canterbury Tales. Not one of them. I just wrote a play for one of 'em.
The Knight's Tale
The Gods always remain in their places after they first walk on.
Lights up. War Tableau – dead bodies scattered, some still in mid-fall. Few still fighting.
Enter both narrators.
Narrators walk from behind audience, beginning to talk.
N1: Some men die in bed, some deep at sea.
N2: Some on the battlegrounds, just look and see.
N1: But there is nothing to be done.
N1+2: We all go.
Narrators reach stage and walk to their places, stepping over corpses, sorrow in their eyes.
N2: The Gods are cruel, and what's man to them?
N1: King of the Gods is Jupiter.
Jupiter walks on, proud stride. Narrators indicate to each God as named.
N2: Venus, the Goddess of Love.
Venus appears in right balcony.
N1: Mars is God of war.
Mars appears in left balcony.
N2: But Saturn, he's the grandfather of them all…
Saturn walks on, stares onto stage grimly, "looming".
N1: A great battle was fought between Athens and Thebes.
Tableau returns to motion, fighting resumes.
N2: The victor was Athens, the enemies scattered like leaves.
N1: But two Theban princes remained foolhardy and fought.
N2: 'Till failure was imminent, so soon they were caught.
The two are beaten and carried away to the prison of bodies.
N1: The two princes were cousins and loved by the Gods.
N2: Palamon by Venus and Arcite by Mars.
The Gods peer closer at their protégés.
N1: But now they were hopeless, as is quite perceptible.
N2: The princes turned prisoners…
N1+2: No ransom acceptable.
The princes brood in prison.
Palamon: At least together we bear this chore!
Arcite: Together, as we always swore!
They seem more confident, grab each others forearms for reassurance.
N1: But destiny had them soon to part.
N2: As love would soon affect their hearts.
Princess Emily starts jumping out, happily singing, prancing in front of the princes, picking flowers. Venus blows "love" at the prince.
Palamon: Who may be that maiden fair?
With such a graceful, Godlike air?
Is she Goddess? Is she Queen?
She must be somewhere in between.
My heart is pierced and now it bleeds,
None but her can satiate my needs.
Arcite looks at Emily, Venus blows again.
Arcite: What a sight to feast ones eyes!
Can I not have her, so my heart dies.
Forever I shall be her slave,
Forever I will her love crave.
I cannot rest 'till I succeed,
He who stops me has to bleed.
Palamon jumps up in fury. Arcite follows.
Palamon: What is this blasphemy you tell?
Has your knighthood gone to hell?
Arcite: I'm bound by nothing but the love I saw,
"All is fair in love and war!"
Palamon looks horrified and turns to the audience. Arcite freezes.
Palamon: Has he gone mad? You all saw it yourself! I loved her first! How dare he try to betray me such? To try and take my bride?
Palamon returns to facing Arcite the way he did before. Now he freezes and Arcite, looking angry, turns to face the audience.
Arcite: What is this rubbish, can't he see? My love is true! The love of real human flesh! You all heard him, he asked it himself! "Is she Goddess, is she queen?" I love her truly, as a human!
Arcite now returns to his original freeze. After a couple of seconds of the two of them glaring at each other, they stand up straight and cross their arms in front of their chests, trying to be defiant.
Palamon: Then so be it; each man for himself.
Arcite: We're better off all by ourselves.
The face away from each other. The Gods bicker in silence.
N1: And so the comrades now turned foes,
N2: And in their hearts the hatred grows.
N1: Though 'tis clear who's in the right,
N2: And obviously Arcite is the knight,
Narrator 1 stops and turns her head to look at Narrator 2 as though he had lost his mind.
N1: Pardon my boldness,
But I must condemn this!
Surely to you this is clear,
It's Palamon whom we must cheer!
Now Narrator 2 stares at Narrator 1 as though she had lost all wits about her.
N2: Stop right now this silly ramble,
Before you all your wits here gamble.
Arcite is whom I support,
Let's just continue our report.
Narrator 1 + 2 glare at each other for a moment before they return to the audience.
N1+2: Pardon our squabble.
N1: Many years later news arrives,
N2: And Arcite into a new life dives.
Duke appears, along with Perotheus. They walk on, talking.
Perotheus: My dear friend, I thank you so much for accepting my request. I shall surely thank you soon, in one way or another.
The Duke nods, looking thoughtfully at his friend. Then he turns to the two prisoners, his features hardening.
Duke: Arcite, you are free to go. It seems one of my dearest friends thinks highly of you. But should you ever return to Athens, death shall be your fate.
Emily is on the far side of the stage, smelling a flower. Palamon is still looking at her. As Arcite is taken away, he reaches for her silently. Freeze frame (tableau).
Scene 1 end
No one but Arcite remains on stage, looking very ill/lovesick. He stands up and, still slumped, begins to walk about stage, sighing. More and more people arrive on stage, imitating the busy, lively bustle of a city.
N1: So Arcite now was free to go.
N2: But in his heart despair would grow.
N1: Soon his life had all but faded.
N2: And his love for despair was traded.
The two Narrators face each other again.
N1:Serves him right, the blasted villain!
To have his love removed from vision.
N2: Your naïve comments again just prove,
That you should just get on the move.
Until the power of love you comprehend,
I no longer can call you my friend.
Again, the two Narrators glare at each other before the story continues.
Arcite: Up to the Gods. For thy tender mercy's sake!
Please still in my heart this ache!
Palamon remains in paradise,
Where on Emily he can feast his eyes…
He looks into a mirror, grabbing onto his face frantically after a few seconds of disbelief.
Arcite: But what is this? This is not me?
No longer the man who once did flee!
My outer appearance is so much altered,
A new identity can quickly be authored!
To Athens now I must return,
Return to her for whom I yearn.
He runs off stage. Scene change. Palamon is in his prison again. Emily is standing on stage now, prancing and singing, the Gods leaning in and listening contently. Arcite and a few others walk after her, holding her things and waiting on her, as her pages.
N1: As seasons changed and time went by,
N2: And Palamon felt that he must die,
N1: Arcite worked as Emily's page,
N2: But Palamon festered in his cage.
N1: But as years passed, one silent night,
N2: When finally the time was right,
N1: The trapped man quickly made his escape,
N2: Protected by the night's dark cape.
As this is said, Emily and the pages prance off stage and Palamon is shown escaping his prison. When he is freed, he lies down centre stage, exhausted.
N1: He came upon a clearing
N2: But an enemy was nearing
N1: So soon they had swords drawn
N2: And now they fight past dawn.
Palamon jumps up as he sees Arcite approaching. They glare at each other, then draw their swords and fight. As they do so, the Narrators start watching intently.
N1: Slay him Palamon, he has betrayed you!!!
N2: Onwards, Arcite, his death has now long-since been due!!!
The Duke soon appears with Emily.
Duke: Who are you to be fighting here? I should have you slain where you stand.
Both Palamon and Arcite bow down before the Duke.
Arcite + Palamon: Forgive us, Lord!
Palamon: We are but fools of love,
Arcite: Fighting to earn the love of our dove.
Palamon: The Goddess stands beside you…
Arcite: Emily, it is you we pursue.
They wait, heads bowed, as the Duke ponders.
N1: The Duke knew the meaning of being love's fool.
N2: And knew the two men were merely the God's tools.
Duke: Very well. You can't both marry her. Return here, one year from now, each with an army of one hundred men. We shall hold a tournament for Emily's hand.
The two look up at the Duke, the scene freezes. Only the Gods continue to move.
N1: Such spoke the Duke, words kind and wise.
N2: And passion awoke in both the men's' eyes.
Mars looks happy, almost exultant, Venus looks unhappy, brooding.
N1: As Mars feasted victory, for war was his life,
N2: Venus asked Saturn for aid in her strife.
Venus: Saturn! Oh great father! You know I am not apt in war, yet Palamon is under my protection. Please, aid my human!
Mars: Angry, snapping at Venus. What is this nonsense? You have your own powers! Don't involve others you deceitful shrew!
Saturn raises both arms to silence them. The bow their heads slightly, waiting for his judgement.
Saturn: Silence, the both of you. My planet's force is greater than any man knows. Mine is the drowning in the limpid sea. Mine the tightening in the throat. Mine, the power of all! So no more! Mars, you are a proud God indeed, but justice is not on your side today. Time has taught me that love is the supreme law. Venus, your man shall gain his love.
Mars and Venus snap their heads back up to look at Saturn. Venus looks very smug and grins evilly at Mars. Mars glares and makes to snap back at Saturn before being interrupted by Jupiter.
Jupiter: My son, stay calm. War has always been your strength, and none shall surpass you. You need not worry – I am on your side. Your man shall have his victory.
Mars now grins slyly back at Venus, who seems disheartened. Jupiter and Saturn glare at each other. Freeze.
Scene 2 end
Three freeze frames. Diana now stands at the back between Jupiter and Saturn. Emily, Palamon and Arcite form a triangle, backs facing centre stage, each in front of their God (i.e. Palamon front-right, looking up at Venus, Arcite front-left, looking up at Mars, Emily back-centre, looking up at Diana). They all cower on altars made of bodies. Two girls holding candles kneel either side of Emily, facing the audience.
N1: A year later all was arranged
N2: The brothers' hatred still unchanged.
N1: The three involved went out to pray
N2: So that the Gods might join the fray.
Emily begins to move, Diana remains standing still as a statue.
Emily: Please, hear me, oh fair Goddess of the woods and glades. You know I would rather roam free forever, serve you as a virgin, than be bound by child and husband. If you can, stop the fighting!
The two candles are blown out as Diana answers, Emily looking shocked.
Diana: It has already been decided my child. You will be wedded to one of the two.
Emily bows her head, looking defeated. Freeze. Palamon now begins to move.
Palamon: Take pity on me, oh great Goddess of love, all I wish for is Emily's hand, not glory in battle. Give me her life, or please take mine.
Venus raises her arms in front of her body, above her head.
Palamon looks startled, then happy.
Palamon: 'Tis a sign!
Freeze. Arcite now begins to move.
Arcite: You great God of war, let me succeed tomorrow! Mine will be the blood… But thine will be the glory!
Mars raises his arms in front of his body, above his head.
Arcite looks startled, then happy.
Arcite: 'Tis a sign!
Freeze. Then scene change. The hoards assemble, the Duke and Emily watching, sitting on thrones, back-centre. Both Palamon and Arcite on horses.
Duke: The first general to be slain or tied to a post by enemy forces shall be the tormented loser of this battle. Let the fighting begin!
Arcite: Swinging his sword. For victory!
Palamon: Swinging his sword. For love!
Fighting commences. Palamon is finally overwhelmed by the enemy and tied down. Mars laughs loudly and cruelly, Venus hides her head in shame. As Arcite rides towards Emily and the Duke to claim his victory, Saturn blows a "kiss of death".
Saturn: You have done well, horse. Now come to me.
The horse drops dead and Arcite falls, buried under the horse's body. He looks in great pain and cries out. Scene change. Arcite lies unmoving centre-stage, girls and boys holding candles kneeling in a circle around him. It is dark; he is all alone in death. As he speaks, the words hard to come as he gasps for breath, and slowly dies, the candles are blown out, one by one.
Arcite: Victory… So close!!!
But now, Death blows…
Gentle… On my heart…
From my love… I must… Part…
Alone now… So cold…
After love… So bold…
Hold me, Emily!!!
As his body goes limp and he lies still, he lets out one final breath, and the last candle is blown out.
Complete darkness on stage. Slowly, lights come back up. The Duke walks on, holding both Emily and Palamon by their hands, walking slowly, serenely, to centre-stage, in front of where Arcite lies dead. The candle bearers are gone.
Duke: Sad voice. This is a tragedy beyond compare. But now, out of great sadness, let us bring true happiness.
He brings Palamon's and Emily's hands together and takes a step back. Palamon and Emily are now holding hands and look at each other.
Duke: From two sorrows, we'll have on perfect joy!
Rest of cast comes on stage, congratulating and celebrating Palamon's and Emily's marriage. As the narrators speak, the bustle continues, but mutes.
N1: So here you have your happy end.
N2: The rest of their lives together they spend.
N1: Far away you could still hear the laughter
N2: As Athens celebrated a "Happily Ever After".
N1: But for tonight we must leave you, our dear friends,
N2: In the hopes that the love in your hearts never ends.
The two narrators bow as the celebrations are still going on. Lights fade.
Scene 3 end
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