David James has published five books and six chapbooks. More than thirty of his one-act plays have been produced in the U.S. and Ireland. James teaches writing at Oakland Community College in Michigan.
CRUCIFYING A FEMINIST OR TWO
(after Lynn-Steven Johanson’s “The Crucifixion of Moe and Ira”)
Amanda: a fiesty woman from 35 A.D.
Therese: a naïve woman, 31, from the same time period
Both characters are being crucified on crosses.
AMANDA: Can you believe this.
AMANDA: Us, women, being crucified.
THERESE: Oh, that. It is unusual these days.
AMANDA: Mostly, we’re stoned. Or banished. Stripped of what little dignity we have.
THERESE: Yeah, and that’s so much better than this.
AMANDA: Give me a boulder to the head any day, and it’s over. This crucifying is so public. I hate it.
THERESE: (Looking down) I can’t believe it.
THERESE: You see that lady in the robe?
AMANDA: I see about thirty of them.
THERESE: Sorry, the pink robe with that awful-looking green head scarf? The one mistied?
AMANDA: Oh, there she is.
THERESE: She borrowed my frying pan and never returned it. So she comes to watch my crucifixion. Hey, Gloria! Yeah, you! I want my pan back! Hey, where are you going? Get back here!
AMANDA: Look at her run. The bitch. (Long pause.) So, why are you here?
THERESE: I didn’t do anything. I’m innocent.
AMANDA: You don’t have to lie to me. I’m dying. Chances are zero to none that I’ll tell anyone.
THERESE: I don’t know.
AMANDA: Come on, we’re in this together.
THERESE: You promise not to tell?
AMANDA: Shake on it. (They try to reach each other but can’t.)
THERESE: Alright. I was raped by my husband’s brother’s cousin’s brother’s uncle.
AMANDA: How’d they catch you?
THERESE: My husband’s brother’s cousin’s nephew walked in on us.
AMANDA: Men (with great disgust).
THERESE: I’m raped and they punish me.
AMANDA: Sand bastards.
THERESE: Camel drool.
THERESE: So, what did you do to get here?
AMANDA: I took off my head-scarf, and my robes, and my undergarments, and skinny-dipped in the Jordan River.
THERESE: Oh my…
AMANDA: It was late, a full moon, a beautiful night. The river was calling to me, I swear. And it felt so good. Like heaven. A pure slice of heaven…
THERESE: What on earth made you do that?
AMANDA: Why not?
THERESE: Women are supposed to …
AMANDA: Listen to you. Women this, women that. Who made up those rules? Men. I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was enjoying what God gave to me.
THERESE: Was it worth this?
AMANDA: All I can say is it was the only time, the only time, I ever felt free in my life. You should try it.
THERESE: Maybe, in my next life.
AMANDA: Oh yeah, I forgot. So, are you leaving anyone behind?
THERESE: Two boys, Ephraim and Jacob. They’re over there past the two guards, in the street, playing soccer. Ephraim has the green shirt, Jacob’s wearing the beige head covering.
AMANDA: Oh sure. Cute kids.
THERESE: Thanks. How about you?
AMANDA: Other than my spineless husband, I have three girls: Leah, 14, Racheal, 12, and Mary, 9. I’m gonna miss watching them grow up, but I won’t miss seeing their dreams crushed at every God damn street corner.
THERESE: Be quiet! Someone might hear you.
AMANDA: Woman, we’re being crucified, in case you don’t know. What the fuck more can they do to us?
THERESE: Oh my God, you said fuck. So did I. Fuck. Fuck. I’ve never said fuck before.
AMANDA: Feels pretty good, eh?
THERESE: Fuck yes. How could I get to be 31 years old and never say fuck? I can’t fucking believe that. Can you fucking believe that?
AMANDA: Don’t wear it out.
THERESE: I have to make up for a whole fucking life of not saying fuck that ends by dying on a fucking cross for getting fucked by a filthy old fuck against my fucking will. (Pause) I tried to stop him. (Crying.) I really did.
AMANDA: I believe you. Come on, we’re women. We’re strong. We’ve got to show them we can die as well as any man. Better even.
THERESE: Okay, okay. I’m sorry. I don’t know what the fuck got into me. Hormones, I guess. (Pause) It’s starting to hurt, and I can’t breathe.
AMANDA: Just think about giving birth. Remember the pain we got through? Dying will be a cinch.
THERESE: Sure, a cinch. I still don’t know why we’re being crucified. You take a swim; I get raped. They wouldn’t treat men this way.
AMANDA: You’ve got that right. (A beat) Hey, do you think women will ever be equal to men? Not less, not held down, not held back, not underpaid?
THERESE: I don’t see that ever happening.
AMANDA: Maybe in heaven.
THERESE: No, even that’s run by fucking men. (Pause.) Oh my God, I’m dying. I can feel it in my lungs.
AMANDA: Breathe slowly and push. Push death right out of you. It’s like giving birth to a new life.
THERESE: You’re poetic, you know that?
AMANDA: I’ve written all my life, but can I get anything published? No. I’m a woman.
THERESE: I’d love to read your work.
AMANDA: That’s kind of you. Maybe in our next life, eh?
THERESE: Yeah, our next life. Things will be a lot better.
AMANDA: I’m starting to feel it, too.
THERESE: It starts in the chest. Like it’s closing in on itself.
AMANDA: Next time around, I’ll be able to do what I want—I’ll walk through Jerusalem in a tank top and khaki shorts.
THERESE: I’d like to see that.
AMANDA: And buy myself a horse, ride it up to the Black Sea and catch a few rays in the white sand.
AMANDA: I’m gonna be a teacher and teach girls about Greek and Roman literature, drama, history, about Plato and Aristotle and Homer. They’ll know about tragic flaws and climaxes.
THERESE: That’s the dream of dreams.
AMANDA: I can’t breathe.
THERESE: Come on, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Concentrate. Focus on that olive tree.
AMANDA: Promise me we’ll get it right.
THERESE: Sure we will. In our next life. We’ll change this fucking world big time.
AMANDA: Big time.
THERESE: Women will be mayors, senators, even presidents of countries.
AMANDA: Don’t make me laugh.
THERESE: Women will vote, be doctors, lawyers, engineers. Women will be in the army. Women will be able to marry the men they love.
AMANDA: You are hallucinating, girl, but that would be so, so nice. Ohhhhhhh….
THERESE: You okay?
AMANDA: I think it’s close.
THERESE: Breathe, push, like you told me.
AMANDA: (in pain) I’ll see you … on the other side.
THERESE: Don’t go. I need you!
AMANDA: You’ll be.. oh… (drops head and is silent.)
THERESE: Come on, breathe! Breathe! You can do this. Come on, we’ll be free. In our next life, remember, we’ll read and write and ride horses, and, you know, do what we want. (Talking to herself now.) We’ll be respected. Have rights. Be equal to men. (Pause) I know it’s coming. It’s coming. Here, it comes. Oh, oh no… fuck. (Head drops, silence.)