Vireo Episode Eleven – Circus

Episode 11: Circus

Libretto

Vireo is presented to a medical convention in Sweden.  She finally frees herself of Caroline’s evil influence.
 

Featuring 

Deborah Voigt; Magik*Magik Orchestra; Minna Choi, Artistic Director; Matthias Bossi; Randall Matamoros; The San Francisco Girls Chorus; Lance Suzuki; Amateur Music Network
 

 

TRANSITION: Morphine.
(Massive bricolage. Raphael is an artist; he constructs a surgical theater out
of shadows and paper scraps.)


CHORUS
Morphine light
The minus time
Something comes
To save her

But no
The voice, the snow
Stop. Elude -
Taking what they gave her


In the morphine light
The minus guides
Equation


The ice, the less

Shifts her through          The arctic’s off
Subtraction.                   To surgery
                                                Sweden, here she comes
Everything changes

(Transition complete.)

 

2. Circus.

(The Doctor, attired as a surgeon, stands in the amphitheater.)

 

DOCTOR
Dear doctors...
(We barely see the Doctor reach behind himself for an instrument. A click.The cow, dressed as a lion, enters and rages. The Doctor rushes out.)

 

COW
Roar! Roar! Roar-moo! Mooarm! Roa-oo-ah-ohrmm!
(The Cow coughs. A phone comes out of its mouth. The phone rings. Raphael runs on and grabs it; but his frostbitten hands barely function.)

 

RAPHAEL
Morphine? Morphine?
(Raphael is dressed in a black mourning coat - too big for him. His face is made up clownishly, but only in shades of grey and black.)

 

VOICE (Through the phone.)
The event at peak.
(The Cow slurps back the phone; Raphael rushes out. Caroline enters as a lion tamer, and hypnotizes the beast.)

 

CAROLINE (To the audience.)
The king and queen of Sweden
Are the witches we have seen in
Our revelation dreaming
On the subject of evil
The subjects of these monarch
Are subject to two archons
Our god has charged with treason
For their hand in evil

(The Lion is asleep. Vireo faces it.)
Wake up, oh mighty lion, and do your trick.
(Down on one knee, arms wide out.)
Please? Please?
(The Lion wakes and stands. Caroline turns back out to the audience. Smiling.)
Our hosts are responsible for the plague! Hang them, please!
(She and the Lion exit. Pernette enters as ringmaster.)

 

PERNETTE
Mother laces her shoes, looking for an elephant
Raphael and the doctor are active, active
(Mother enters dressed in sequins; she laces high shoes. She stands in one
ring. The Doctor and Raphael enter another ring, riding tricycles - they both
look like undertaker Emmet Kellys.)

 

DOCTOR/RAPHAEL
I know I know I know I know
What do I know? That I know I know…
 

PERNETTE
Vireo is, at first, an aerialist –

 

DOCTOR/RAPHAEL
I know I know
What do I know? That I know What do I know?

 

PERNETTE
… then a subteraneanist –

 

DOCTOR/RAPHAEL
I know I know
What do I know?


PERNETTE
… burrowing into the earth.
(Vireo enters wearing a surgeon’s greens - but dragon scaled; the mirror she wears on a band on her head is painted as a third eye. She wears dragonfly wings; she carries a storybook. The afflicted Girls give her their attention.)

 

CHORUS
High, low, Vireo (multiple times)
High and low, Vireo
You are late in getting home.

 

VIREO
I fly high and low
I skate on heaven’s surface tension
When I hit the earth I burrow

 

CHORUS
High, low Vireo
Girl, you are expected
Home is where we hang you at
You are expected
Home begins when home you go
You are late in getting home
Girl, you are expected, expected
Please come back, please come back alive
We’re expecting you home.
The Afflicted Girls expect you home
(You, you are expected
You’re late in getting Home)
Please come back alive oh Vireo
High, low, Vireo
Please come back alive.

 

DOCTOR
Are you getting all this?

 

RAPHAEL
I’m out of room! It’s going into the footnotes and bibliography and
acknowledgements!
(Caroline enters and tries to draw the attention of the Afflicted Girls -)

 

CAROLINE
Oh mighty kings of the jungle-
Oh mighty kings -
Oh mighty -
(But she has no beast to tame.)

 

PERNETTE
Vireo’s stunts all
Extend from her
Reading
A story to the afflicted girls.
(Caroline, Mother, the Doctor and Raphael exit. Vireo reads a story to the afflicted girls.)


VIREO
Once upon a time a dragon
Instructed a virgin
By reading books out loud.
Because the dragon’s breath was fire,
The books burned as she read them.
They paid close attention.
The dragon and the girl who came to visit
Lived in the heat of blown glass -
The cave in which the dragon lived
Was blown glass.
The king sent a knight
To put an end to this class.
Knight threw his lance and
Killed the dragon.
Glass ball shattered.


DOCTOR/RAPHAEL
Leaving daughter dancing on
The black ribs of night’s percussion.

 

VIREO
I hate the world because it is around me
I hate the world because it moved me
I hate the world because I love the world
And would leave it to hold it
Most of all the Doctor and Raphael
And my mother are witches
Because they are around me
I see them every day

 

PERNETTE
Cried the dragon
Celestial surgeon
Expiring in ash and shard.
(The Elephant stops abruptly and Mother falls off. She’s a lion tamer now; the Doctor and Raphael hold hoops. Dragons appear… and 200 girls.)

 

VIREO (To Mother.)
The lions and tigers and elephants are all worms, and they kiss the flesh from your
bones.

 

CAROLINE/AFFLICTED GIRLS
Many witches burn

 

MOTHER (Nervously.)
Oh mighty kings of the jungle, please tell me what to do!

 

AFFLICTED GIRLS
30,000

 

ELEPHANT
I tell you elsewhere, and then merely to your hearing.

 

CAROLINE/AFFLICTED GIRLS
Many thousand witches burn

 

VIREO
I never see you again.

 

AFFLICTED GIRLS
Thirty thousand, thirty thousand witches burn

 

CAROLINE/AFFLICTED GIRLS
Many witches burn

 

CAROLINE
I name as Adam named
Ownership, erasure

 

AFFLICTED GIRLS
Thirty thousand witches burn, witches burn.

 

CAROLINE/AFFLICTED GIRLS
I name as Adam named
Ownership, erasure
Many witches burn
Thirty thousand, thirty thousand witches burn

 

VIREO (Blurts out.)
I name Caroline.
(Sudden silence.)
I name Caroline a witch.
 

CAROLINE
Oh, really. Vireo. I name you. I’ve know all alone you were a witch. Do you want to do this? 30,000 die hanging or in flames. Do you want to do this?

 

AFFLICTED GIRLS
Ah! Ah!

 

CAROLINE
Do you want to die a crazy woman?

 

VIREO
I name Caroline.


CAROLINE
I name Vireo.

 

VIREO
I name Caroline.

 

CAROLINE
I name Vireo.

 

VIREO
I name Caroline.

 

CAROLINE
I name Vireo.

 

VIREO
Caroline.

 

CAROLINE
Vireo.

 

VIREO
Caroline.
(The Runaways depart. The show curtain splits to reveal 30,000 murdered witches on barren hills – the fires twinkle like orange stars, the metronome rope-hanged people tick and tock. Fanfare, Queen: Made of glass.)

 

QUEEN
Queen, queen, queen.

 

DOCTOR
Mother marries the Doctor
Vireo and Caroline go, they got away, no trace
Then World War One
Takes pride of place and
Doctor flees to treat
Shell-shocked men in Finland
(Caroline leaves, reading about herself in a magazine.)

 

QUEEN
Queen, queen, queen.
Turn person to pieces, scatter and
There, a snow globe order.
Scatter,
Shake, shake
Academy turns,
The map burns.
Each need, a disease,
Cost of cure
Royal. Sure.
Me,
I,
We
Blow it up, blow it out to find the mean.
Greetings from your queen.
(The sound of distant explosions. The field where the witches died is now a no-man’s land, crossed with lazy gunfire and barbed wire.)
Great knowledge sees the very many.
All at once:
One isn’t any.
Whirl, Whirl the blown apart,
Rhythm of near
Rhythm of far
And when spin stops
There is still
Me
I
We
Hello from your Queen
Awake without a moon, inside dynamite
Debris flies free
Spectacular light
Countries roll apart
Hysterical art: a proxy
Dollars go again to bombs:
Money’s best aim, get, name.

 

CAROLINE (Reading the magazine)
Raphael’s fame
As the man who broke hysteria
To the media:
Fades
(Raphael flies in on a hypodermic needle, wearing his flowing black
graduation robes.)

 

RAPHAEL
I finished my thesis! Finished! Finished! And it has been serialized in several
magazines!
(He exits.)

 

CAROLINE
And the magazines are gone.

 

QUEEN
Absence, evasion, is good manners
A nod to the grace
Of a well framed occasion
Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi. I
Am your Queen
(A Crow flies to Vireo. A stick pops out of its mouth and a message unfurls. A voice comes from the Crow - it is the voice heard at the beginning of the play, but tortured down to crow-size.)

 

VOICE
Leaves fall
Pernette, the hanged… blow down
(Everybody but Vireo leaves in war-fog.)

Vireo’s hysteria and psychosis finally come to a climax when she wakes up at the medical presentation in Sweden, and literally finds herself at a circus. This is the “circus” that Caroline had promised they would attend. Seen through the lens of Vireo’s mind, the friends and family from her life return as circus characters — Raphael and the Doctor, her Mother, Caroline and the Voice. The dead Cow makes one last appearance from beyond the grave, disguised as a Lion. Vireo’s friends from school come marching in to join her. Another group joins with Caroline who is intent upon burning more witches.

Finally, Vireo has had enough. In a moment of clarity, she recognizes that Caroline is her enemy and charges her with witchcraft. This silences the crowd and the two begin a final showdown. Suddenly, the Queen of Sweden appears. Her appearance presages the beginning of WWI and the end of public study of “hysteria.” The Queen resolves all worldly problems, justifies the academy’s (and humanity’s) turn towards war, and everyone leaves. This leaves Vireo alone to figure out how her life will go on.

Vireo leaves the Circus and the world of visions and time travel.

Get the free PBS App

Upcoming Airdates

Electric Earth: The Art of Doug Aitken

This episode profiles prominent artist Doug Aitken who for more than 20 years has shifted the perception and location of images and narratives. His multichannel video installations, sculptures, photographs, publications, happenings and architectural works demonstrate the nature and structure of our ever-mobile, ever-changing, image-based contemporary condition. In his newest piece, “Underwater Pavilions,” he creates a conversation with the viewer to become fully present and immersed in the sea.

  • 2020-04-01T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

Heath Ceramics: The Making of a California Classic

"Artbound" looks at the dinnerware of Heath Ceramics and a design that has stood the test of time since the company began in the late 1940’s. Through the writings of Edith Heath, the founder and designer of Heath Ceramics and voiced by renowned chef Nancy Silverton, this episode explores the groundbreaking work of a woman who created a classic of American design.

  • 2020-04-04T13:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-04T17:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-05T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-04-16T06:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Variedades: Olvera Street

This look at Los Angeles’ Olvera Street is part-history lesson and part-immersion in stereotype of the birthplace of Los Angeles. Emmy® award-winning journalist, author and musician Rubén Martínez, explores the sometimes-violent, 200-year struggle for the political and symbolic control of the city as told in “Variedades” — an interdisciplinary performance series that brings together music, spoken word, theater, comedy and the visual arts, loosely based on the Mexican vaudeville shows of early-20th century Los Angeles.

  • 2020-04-08T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

Día de Los Muertos / Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos has been adapted for centuries from its pre-colonial roots to the popular depictions in mass media today. Inspired by rich Oaxacan traditions, it was brought to East Los Angeles in the 1970s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity through a small celebration at Self Help Graphics and Art. Since then, the celebration has grown in proportions with renditions enacted in communities all around the world.

  • 2020-04-11T13:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-11T17:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-23T06:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

No Trespassing: A Survey of Environmental Art

Throughout its history, the natural beauty of California has inspired artists from around the world from 19th-century plein air painting of pastoral valleys and coasts to early 20th-century photography of the wilderness (embodied famously in the work of Ansel Adams) and the birth of the light and space movement in the 1960s. Today, as artists continue to engage with California’s environment, they echo and critique earlier art practices that represent nature in “The Golden State” in a particular way. Featuring artists Richard Misrach, Laura Aguilar and Hillary Mushkin.

  • 2020-04-15T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

How Sweet The Sound: Gospel In Los Angeles

Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late '60s and early '70s, a time defined by political movements across the country. Artists like James Cleveland and Aretha Franklin captured live recordings of the church experience of South Central and the voices and sentiment of the people coming together to give birth to a new gospel sound and the election of L.A.’ s first black mayor, Tom Bradley.

  • 2020-04-18T13:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-18T17:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-19T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Artist and Mother

This episode profiles four California artists who make motherhood a part of their art: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Andrea Chung, Rebecca Campbell and Tanya Aguiñiga. There's a persisting assumption in contemporary art circles that you can't be a good artist and good mother both. But these artists are working to shatter this cliché, juggling demands of career and family and finding inspiring ways to explore the maternal in their art.

  • 2020-04-22T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles

The charming, unusual and at times polarizing Jeffrey Deitch left Los Angeles in 2013 after a tumultuous run as the director of MOCA ending in his resignation. He makes his return with a new gallery opening with the first LA exhibit of renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator.

  • 2020-04-25T13:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-25T17:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-04-26T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD
  • 2020-04-30T06:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

The Art of Basket Weaving

Native American basketry has long been viewed as a community craft, yet the artistic quality and value of these baskets are on par with other fine art. Now Native peoples across the country are revitalizing basketry traditions and the country looks to California as a leader in basket weaving revitalization.

  • 2020-04-29T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK