The following are selections from a collection of letters featuring short plays (with preserved punctuation/misspellings) by Matt Kubala. A man I no longer know, but hope he's still out there, and worth knowing...
Comfortable at my desk, in the theatre, planning the blocking for "Lysistrata"... horn of a car strategically placed in time -n- mind as a reaffirmation of the correct path chosen- early tonight, the echo of now- weed and beer avoided; mind remains clear and focused... as if it all came to any given moment's knocking on the door of memory and demanding to speak with the truth...
Memory: The truth? Who is that?
Moment: Surely you remember- he lives here.
Memory: What does he look like?
Moment: Well... kind of... sort of... like...
Memory: Nobody lives here by tht description, get lost. (he goes to close the door)
Moment: Wait! Wait- I saw him go in here, not long ago.
Memory: Go in where?
Moment: Here- this house.
Memory: You must be mistaken pal, nothing in here but us memories.
Moment: If I could just look around.
Memory: In here? You can't come in here.
Moment: Why not?
Memory: You belong out there.
Moment: I'll just be a moment.
Memory: Funny, a real wise guy. Get in here- but make it quick.
(The Moment enters the house of Memory)
Moment: It's different in here than I thought it would be.
Memory: You've been here before- you just can't remember.
Moment: Who's that?
Memory: That's you 5 minutes ago.
Moment: Doesn't look like me.
Memory: Never does.
Moment: What's up with him?
Memory: That's the Memory of a Dream- still thinks he's real;
Moment: Where's he going?
Memory: To be forgotten.
Moment: What's up there?
Memory: Memories of Childhood.
Moment: And over there- who are they?
Memory: Impressions of Past Lovers.
Moment: Why are they so sad?
Memory: Being only impressions of love they are unable to stem the tide of lonliness.
Moment: Happy I'd be, if never again a lonely moment I saw.
Memory: Who was it you were seeking?
Moment: The Truth-
Memory: Watch your step!
Moment: What was that?
Memory: The abyss. It yawns open from time to time- especially in the kitchen.
Moment: May we look there?
Memory: What time to do you have?
Moment: Sorry, I don't wear a watch.
Memory: You don't care to know where you've been and where you're going?
Moment: I'm a busy man.
Memory: I see. Oh! there's someone we should ask... Goodday sire, have you seen The Truth lately?
Fact: Can't say that I have.
Moment: Who are you? You seem familiar.
Fact: I am a Fact.
Moment: You don't say.
Fact: Actually I do.
Memory: He's a bit pretensious- if you know what I mean.
Fact: If knowing you are right is pretense - then that I am.
Fact: Right. Of course I'm right.
Moment: Do you know the Truth?
Fact: I am familiar with the name. What are the color of his shoes?
Moment: Black- no White- no...
Fact: Make up you mind lad. One or the other- there is no inbetween.
Moment: Well, you must know him beyond what shoes he wears.
Fact: Shoes are very important. Does he frequent the pub?
Moment: He's everywhere if you ask me-
Fact: Then what's the problem? If he's everywhere then why are you looking for him?
Memory: "Because, because, because- because of the wonderful things he does!"
(Fact and Moment look over and roll their eyes)
What? How can I forget.
Moment: Look- I'm just looking for the truth- I need to talk to him.
Fact: About what?
Moment: About why I'm here.
Fact: Well, that's easy- you are here, first and foremost, because of the Big Bang-
Moment: Yes, yes, I know-
Memory: He was there.
Moment: What I mean is- Why am I here? Forever present and always incomplete...
Fact: Forever divisible and infinitely able to multiply yourself ~ I'd say you've got it made.
Moment: You're missing the point. Where is what I am and what is what we aren't and who says when we go where we go while wending away our substance on the inebidible waves of thought-
Memory: That reminds me- I left my soup on the stove. Good day, gentlemen. (he exits)
Moment: Why'd he take off?
Fact: He's limited- he's forgetful.
Moment: I thought the house of forgetfulness was across the street...
Fact: It is. That's where he goes to eat.
Moment: I see...
Fact: Look, the Truth is bound to find you- if it hasn't already. Go back out there- and do what you have to do. Get things done and move on. You're too real to get mixed up going house to house in search of the Truth.
Moment: Yeah, I guess. It's just that... ya know... sometimes I get to thinking that wouldn't it be nice to know- just to say, sure, I know the Truth, we go way back.
Fact: I hear you. Think about it from my perspective- everyone expects me to know the Truth. And when I tell them that everything is relative- they get pissed... Look kid, you just keep on rolling along and before ya know it you'll be happy and safe with a billion-billion little moments sitting around your rocking chair listening to you tell stories about the way things are.
Moment: I guess you're right.
Fact: You know I'm right.
Moment: If only we could ask the future...
... to be continued ...
...The Moment Enters The House Of Memory... a play by swagbelly
Another day rolls its lip- smirks, smiles or snows... the hummingbird theatre breathes in people, fills their brains and exhales them gently back into the real world. We staged the play I wrote for you- last night before last. Andres came down with Eve, Sasha and Brandon... for several hours the children played and the chance to ask the stage a favor arrived- they read from the script, a revised version; I set the stage and played air-organ; Andres directed. Fun was received and given by all. The week before my two page play "Warlord George" was staged at Chico's house. I had written it on the spot for the company gathered: Chico, Colleen, Ray, Angelo and Me. We was mucho high at the time. Rehersals for "Lysistrata" (aristophenes-adaptation by swagbelly) are wild, intense and sexually charged- the cast is an amalgamated eroticism (the women) balanced by a gruff and lonely bunch (the men) - this combination makes for curious vibes and unheard of theatre, at least as far as we can see and hear through the sick din of a shameful war. What the fuck!?.... Dana, the theatre asks if I'm here and wonders where you are. I have no answer for her, but I assure her that I am yet crazy and you dream of her still... Love, Matt :)
When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional football player...
in the 6th grade Erich Jeffies told me that I was too small to play in the NFL- he was right; I knew it immediately and like many incidents of my youth I took it entirely too hard... bursting enthusiasm met, shortly after inception, by the insistence of an emotional train wreck... those days are gone- my love of football has survived and the theatre, friends and forms bred together among endless days and nights, has come to soothe the pain and suggest the way by which life can be more than repeating mistakes and struggles- a path shown to be true by the light of art and the strenght of the human will as it reaches to understand, attain and experience the very essence of what life may become, that which it is most certianly already is, and has been-
Clever rhetoric, I know, and only able to travel as far as its meaning is appreciated, more so felt, drifting the vast expanse of the mind and passing like cosmic jelly pore to pore, cell to cell and through the tiniest particles of our everpresent, though invisible souls which mask the truth with inventions of horror and mirth, hatred and kindness- how is anyone supposed to know what anyone else is ... is ... is ... is ... up to or intending when the fabric we act out in is fraught with the apparent impossibility of our ever understanding its true dimention-
I've contradicted myself, haven't I? Good, unfortunately the dual nature of apparent reality, ascribed by observation & in - and of actualization of what some consider to be an elaborate system of smoke and mirrors, remains necessary to figure out... what? (this letter is being taken over by an Alien named Harold. Matt has apparently lost his cookies. So bear with me, Harold, and we, the Empurvian collective, will attempt to elucidate certian concepts, or emotional rollercoasters threaded onto a rather thin line, which seem to be seeping out of Mr. Kubala's brain...)
Harold: I love you. Take it however you wish and -
Frank: Harold! What have we been talking about in Human Love 101?
Harold: The kissing of soft wet lips.
Harold: The moist coupling of-
Frank: Harold! Love is the foundation of human existence- all responses are rooted in love: hatred, yes, and happiness, jealousy, trust, kindness and on and on- in that light, Why have you begun your letter to Dana with the words "I love you"?
Harold: Because... because... I love her.
Frank: How is that possible? We operate on the 5th plane of 7 and they on the 3rd.
Harold: Well, I was delving through Matt's brain and I felt what he felt and-
Frank: Yes, yes, but human love is fraught with complications and impossible dreams.
Harold: But his wasn't.
Frank: Yes, perhaps... perhaps you did not delve far enough.
Harold: Well, his thoughts are mellow and happiness hovers, waiting for him at any given moment.
Frank: But has he not been somewhat sad these last few days?
Harold: Yes. His friends placed a certian awkward distance between them and him when the play had concluded its run.
Frank: Ah, the play. What a wonderful experience for all involved.
Harold: Yes, that time carried a fundamental communication which weathered many complications and was offered simply and clearly from the entrance gate of the heart of theatre. But it drained him of his ability to discern the true meaning of the social fabric enveloping his senses.
Frank: He became very sensitive and his heart broke a dozen times on the shores of heaven, receeding back to earth where beer said "we are all here", where cigarettes occupied the nerves of stale habits and pot, marijuana, strove to maintain the high of the sweet relationship with the theatre he had established.
Harold: And then he came to this letter- his spirit rose to greet dear Dana.
Frank: Yes; Harold, do you think it is time to turn the letter over to Matt again?
Harold: Of course, I got carried away.
Frank: It is easy to get lost in the human brain...
Dana-is that you? Something weird just happened. I was here, see, writing words to you, striving for meaning beyond meaning, tempting thoughts of you from memory, when suddenly, unexplainably, I was transformed! Into what I cannot be certain- suffice to say a mirror would present a different story, an observer would swear their life on the assertion that I had not moved in any other fashion than would a fellow composing a letter to a dear friend.
Shapes of experience altered
by the ropes of experiment,
tones of verbs and nouns
transformed into notes otherworldly-
nonsense warped by the waves which
consume and mold our day & age...
I had been sleeping in the theatre... there being some time between projects I have moved back to my apartment... My roomates went home for the weekend so I am sprawled on the couch watching "Revenge of the Nerds"...
We have the theatre space for three months, maybe more- there are 4 projects I have in mind: the first, an adaptation of "Lysistrata", a play by Aristophanes, is underway- it is scheduled to go up April 4th, Sara Steelman is organizing everything and I am slated to direct. I received an adaptation written by some word-jockey with a knack for overstating the obvious, oversimplying the shape of drama and ignoring the essence of the relationship between women and men. It was a one joke play (a pussy/penis joke) and, "not to speak it profanely", lacked the depth and beauty of Aristophanes' original. So, I went by the library, checked out a copy and am now in the process of an adaptation- going line to line, preserving as much of the original script while altering obscure references, inserting modern phrases as clues to the meaning of the text, augmenting the dramatic action with 20th century comedic standards... After that we had in mind some children's theatre- a woman has been calling about puppet theatre and I've met an IUP student who does puppetry as well. My nieces, and staci's son Morgan, enjoyed the set we put together for "A Sunny Morning". Bright colors and recognizable features... after that I'm thinking about a staged reading of one of my plays, a performance art piece involving surveillance cameras and spontaneous improv skits. The energy is positive- the change is coming, the chance to do good works available... And in May, a new play, now in blueprint stage, entitled "The Ghost of Buster Keaton", with the versitile Chico as Buster Keaton (in imagination he is perfect for the part)... Ambitious, yes, but possible... if I remain clear headed, letting not the twisting quality of collaborative art knot my mind 'round my heart as to create impossible avenues bespotted by the marks of trial, however petty, mundane or daunting they may be... it is 1:30 am, the nerds have triumphed...
Ah! "The Rockford Files"- I loved this show as a kid... show as a kid... That new song from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is cool, sweet, on it. The video is right on - "Can't Stop" is the tune- "...this life is more than just a read through..". My stomach is shrinking... when I get involved with a gig I sometimes forget to eat... Where are you Dana? Has California acquired the tenor of your grace, the pulse of your energy? or does she yet resent your brightness and play contrary to your moods?
O ← a drop of milk from a cup of milk which did, once upon a time, compliment those two peanut-butter-n-jelly sandwhiches I ate...
Do you remember that Bobby McFerrin song from 1989? Ya know, "Don't Worry Be Happy" ~ play it in your mind, if you remember. I saw a biography about him awhile back - he conducts a symphony, in Minnesota, I believe... "South Park"... the TV offers, the ads suck dry the brain... its late, ideas dribble incomplete... I will return tomorrow, goodnight Anad...
Well, Sara Steelman called me. She sounded nervous, slightly flustered by this idea of not using Mr. Adam Websters's "vaudville" script, as she calls it. Oh Dana, it is far from vaudville! It's more like Teletubbies for Adults! With the added pretense of having been derived, by clumsy hackney pillaging, from the great Greek Playwright Aristophanes.
I don't know why I'm so hotly set against this particular adaptation; let this not resemble an ego trip- my it be clearly presented that the theatre itself has spoken; she needs not another piecemeal attempt at pleasing the lowest common denominator!
Let Broadway appease the mass for their cash! Let Fox network get fat on T&A and blunt violentainment! Let the community theatre's perpetuate the same 30 or so plays! But let it be of the record that the hummingbird theatre stands humble and ready before the task of expanding the prospect and practices of the theatrical arts... I guess we, Sara, John Henry and I are going to Pittsburgh tomorrow to see versions of the AW adaptation of "Lysistrata" performed. It should be and interesting day. Though, tonight I must continue work on my adaptation and prepare my argument for a version closer to the original (whichever translation be used)... Where are you Dana? In your room? On the trail? In the mountains? Have you had the opportunity to run naked through the forest? Lying in the moss listening and feeling the air ease subtle messages all over your skin... or is it too cold? Too many people?
I miss you... raging and bleeding pure life in my room... bursting random ways in actions quick, precise and out of control while maintaining control... your mad scribbling of poems on bits of paper... your wild hair... soft lips... your complete defiance to my advances... your incistency on your own opinion... your propensity toward the silly and absurd... your surging energy which is impossible to deny and harder yet to turn away from...
DANA~~ January 21st, 2003
in the morning a mouse moved a mountain to the other side of the meadow...
a play by swagbelly
the curtain rises and reveals an elephant, a mouse and a duck sitting at the kitchen table of a communal home eating breakfast. The sun rises, from beyond the window, above rolling green hills, slowly- by play's end it will rest below the rolling green hills. A full day will have passed.
Mr. elephant reads a book. mr. mouse reads the morning edition of the Wild Kingdom Tribune. mr. duck carefully spoons and stirs sugar into his coffee.
mr. elephant: (reading from the book) in the morning a mouse moved a mountain to the other side of a meadow. Hang on, that can't be right.
mr mouse: It's right, alright. I saw it myself.
mr elephant: You are naive.
mr. mouse: a naive sensibility discovers truths about the living spirit.
mr. elephant: and the fool is a fool no matter the color of his shoes. What do you think, mr. duck?
mr. duck: (he thinks) well, it seems to me that a mountain weighs much more than a mouse.
mr. elephant: true, very true.
mr. duck: on the other hand, a mouse is more clever than a mountain.
mr. mouse: this goes without question.
mr. elephant: nonsense. the science is indisputable.
mr. mouse: as they had said before galileo.
mr. duck: and newton.
mr. elephant: and einstein also. of this i am well aware, but gravity still administers law. We may ask her a favor and go to the moon, but her greater responsibility is to the earth and not to the minds of elephants, ducks and mice.
mr. mouse: without mice, ducks and elephants where would gravity be? a drift in the cosmos with neither a care nor a friend.
mr. duck: we all need friends.
mr. elephant: yes, yes, true, very true. but that is beside the point-
mr. duck: mr. elephant, that is the point. cherish the minds and spirits of others and in turn you will cherish your own. this kind contract being made, between all animals, will allow anyone to do anything and everyone to do everything.
the toast pops up. mr. duck stands and to the toast... he butters it, brings pieces to the table... carefully he sprinkles sugar onto the toast...
mr. mouse: we were earnestly in debate just moments ago. what were we debating?
mr. elephant: (he thinks) i can't remember. mr. mouse, would you please pass the peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches.
mr. mouse: (passing the sandwhiches tray) there you are.
mr. duck: (a subtle revelation) there it is.
mr. elephant: thank you.
mr. mouse: you're welcome.
the sun dips below the horizon...
morning has arrived... I'd been up 36 hours before last night. strange, thick dreams had sway over my mind last night... somewhere around five am. this play woke me... last night? Yes, this morning. There is no doubt that your letter, among other influences recent and long ago, made its presence apparent to her script. Gravity, eh? 'The potential increases!' I read it yesterday afternoon and unfortunately had not the emotion nor energy to hear what it was you were saying to me. You see, there had been a brilliant celebration, of modest means and soaring spirits, the night before. A full compliment of friends, gathered in several locations at once, exuding warm bursting vibes, had occasioned upon a collection of moments, living in the very center of present time and space, which had, apparently, been designed specifically for them.
You are familiar with most, if not all, of these particular friends- they have names, but do not let that fool you... Chico was working on a painting of the Brown Hotel. Its fucking unbelievable- so much so that it is immediately and without doubt believable. We smoked some mountain tobacco and laid some music on the alter of our intentions- he carries dynamic guitar riffs, precise and smooth, and I dance the bongo skins like a wacked-out Buddy Rich... Danielle and Ray were kind to play, audience for some character biographies I'd written. They helped me realize how much I enjoy acting- on the spot and in the moment, receiving suggestions from their eyes and freedom from their attention. They spent a lot of time watching bizarre, perverse and, in estimation of their laughter, hysterical British Comedies... Dean spent most of his time on the couch, in the basement mellow with the tube... Staci left early (2:30 am.); she travels on foot through winter with unbound enthusiasm... Paul and Molly were at Paul's place. They were quite drunk, permanent smiles on their faces, gloriously insane with converstations the shape of alien circuses and impulsive movements taken from the recessive corners of our shared genetic milkshake. A porno was fucking the TV, righteous hip-hop tunes made us dance, our bodies bouncing the room- crazy love made us happy...
Chico and Danielle drove me home at 7:30 am. In the back of the man's truck I made a snow angel and for a delightful spell, cold winds warm, snow kissing my lips, I ate donuts and drank milk. At home there was no possibility of sleep- correction! there is always possibility! and in this instance the chance of sleep was 10¯43. Funny thing was, it was all positive. I was functionally stoned out-of-my-gord and physical exhausted. But! there was work to be done. I had a meeting at 10:00 am. with Peg Malcolm of the Senior Citizen's community center. As the story goes, we, the Hummingbird theatre, are producing a play. "A sunny morning", by Serafin and Joaquin Alvarez Quintero- copyright 1914, Samuel French, 50 bucks a show, admission free, at the senior center Feb. 10, Indiana Playhouse Feb. 22nd, 21st, 15th and 14th. The play is the thing. It is about an elderly man and an elderly woman who one day meet in the park, in Madrid. They soon find that they share a common past- a love affair. When he was 23 and she was 20 they consumated a torrid affair of unbridled passions (o.k., enough with the harleqin romance bullshit). It is a great play, a one act, John Henry Steelman is in it. And Peggy Buckley. And our friend Andres Machiavello. And his friend Juliane. We've had three rehersals. I got some sleep yesterday afternoon and was ready for last nights rehersal. We were all on! and we all shared in shaping the blocking and the dramatic decisions of the characters. Andres thought we waisted some time, though. I told him that there is no wasted time. I think he intends, and well to creation's imperatives, to butt heads with me on as much as he can get away with. I'm holding my ground well- and it actually helps me better understand the process, and what it is I'm thinking and doing... learning is good...
As to your letter→ I read it this morning for real, for the first time, and I felt blessed to have such a friend as you. You're awesome. I gotta go- out there- snow world- to do some stuff that needs me, that I need to do... see ya soon... soup is yellow, steamy... Lately, the sun shines most parts of the day in these parts. Blue skies, various sorts of clouds- brisk on foot, beautiful snow layered smooth or shoveled up. Not a hint of violence, hatred or upheaval- had it vanished? was it hiding? Mute questions. In and of the walk taken, the places visited, the people encountered and the thoughts received I had no reason to suspect that anything was amiss. Many college student faces wore expressions bearing the imprint and implications of pillow cases, but even the apparent dullness and apathy was balanced by many other students like bengal tigers in asian winter, playful and alert.
Yes... the sun shines by day and favorite snow falls by night- either thick flakes or tiny crystals reflecting street lamp star light. I tried to nap → the muse and her invisible commands kept me fascinated with apparent consiousness, here- in the dream outside the dream inside you and me and some person known as Charley and Charley's friend Elaine and Elaine"s cat Bruno... life is fun today.
Next tuesday? How many kids will you be teaching? In our time we have been inspired. Now it is time to do our best to inspire others... speaking of inspiration! do you remember new year's eve when a line from a letter I'd pen'd to a friend inspired you to paint a scenerio for the stage- the theatre herself on stage pissing into a cup and being forced to drink it to survive. Well, that's a deep subject... (sorry, an old school joke an old friend of mine was fond of saying)... so, two days after you'd left I woke one morning with the notion to write a short play based on that scenerio... 60 pages later I'm 60 pages into the best play I've ever written. You have to admit that we hit on an essential quality of the theatrical expression through dramatic action- in that moment, that discussion! The plight of the theatre! This play is titled "The big long word for The" Like a springboard you set me onto a better understanding of what I meant by what I wrote. Collaboration is beautiful. You are beautiful. The song on the CD spinning now is beautiful. Ink is wonderful. Plastic elephant, plastic squirrels, plastic spacemen, framed photos and that rubics cube that found me at the Goodwill...
be strong, be kind, be curious
p.s. so much to tell you
so much to ask you
p.ss. Thanks for the starmap. It is upon my wall where a certian picture you promised to send was meant to be- there between two equal opposites of conceptual expression.
p.s.s.s. →"Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing." - John Stuart Mill