Vireo Episode Two - Mercury

Episode 2: Mercury

Libretto

A waking Vireo mistakes the doctor for a priest, and she is sent to a quiet room to recover. While there, she hears the Voice again, embodied in the figure of a witch about to be burned at the stake.

Featuring

Kronos Quartet, Matthias Bossi; The San Francisco Girls Chorus

 

MOTHER
Daughters don’t die. I don’t live in such a time. Daughters don’t die. I don’t live in this time. I don’t live in this time.

(The Doctor draws near.)

We found her this way in the woods this morning. What is it?

 

DOCTOR
Leave her lie.

(He tries to draw Mother away. Partial success.) Leave her lie.

 

MOTHER
Vireo is not going to die.

 

VIREO
I am blown through.

(Raphael bursts in. The Doctor holds him back from Vireo.)

 

RAPHAEL
In the name of God, tell us who has afflicted you!

(Then, overlapping with Mother and Vireo’s next lines.) By all that is, by all that is, by all that is...

 

DOCTOR
Leave her lie.

 

MOTHER
My daughter! She won’t die. Other daughters do.

 

VIREO
There was a rhythm.

 

RAPHAEL
Say who, say who, tell us –

 

VIREO
The fog came through the woods. Making it dark, and then pale. In between the two I heard... a voice.

(Through a steady series of small moves, the Doctor takes Mother’s place as the one steadying Vireo.)

 

DOCTOR
Whose voice?

(Overlaps Mother and Raphael’s next lines.)

 

MOTHER
My daughter.

 

RAPHAEL
Say who.

 

VIREO
The line between the fog and the not-fog was a hole.

 

DOCTOR
(Explaining to Raphael.)
Seduced.

 

VIREO
And I could go through the hole to see sad things, in a wonderful way.

 

RAPHAEL
Can you repeat what was said to you?

 

VIREO
I have nowhere to go.

 

RAPHAEL
Grace light up a strange new seeming Fraction factors math by dreaming

 

DOCTOR (To Mother.)
I set your daughter down as a case of possession.

 

MOTHER
What will you –

 

DOCTOR
She’ll be cloistered at the convent in pace.

(Explaining.)

In a room – a high place.

 

MOTHER
What will you –

 

DOCTOR
She’s a weather vane that moves to face witches, and will point them out to us.

(The Doctor and Raphael leave.)

 

MOTHER
It’s over.

 

VIREO
Where’d that come from?

(Invisibility.)

 

2. Mercury.

(Vireo looks out of a high window.)

 

VIREO
From my window I see a witch being set up for burning. Two candles lit in my room. Children throw trash at the bound woman.

(A woman stands on the ground. She isn’t literally bound – she can use her hands and move – but she is the woman at the stake. Her face is obscured, as the Voice’s was. A chorus of young women circles her, stooping to pick up rocks and trash to toss; percussive feet.)

 

CHORUS
Ha ha ha ha ha No no no
Silly witch Candle you Cast no light Stake stinger in Fire hand itch M-hm goodbye Candle you Cast no light

 

WITCH
Don’t suppose it could rain, now, could it? No. Too much to ask.

 

VIREO
So much the worse for you I can’t hear you

(Covering her ears.)

Ah!

 

CHORUS
No.

 

VIREO
I can’t hear you

 

CHORUS
No.

(And, repeating.)

 

VIREO
Through the window I see your face
In an aureole
An aureole of Moon-mercury Moon-mercury Poisoned.
I can’t hear you
I can’t hear you

 

WITCH
I lived through my house’s discipline I concentrated when
Calves were born
Turned and corn
Wouldn’t top out

(Flames start to rise. She loses mobility.)

My discipline was concise. And all drafts were at once.

 

VIREO
Moon mercury makes you mad as a hatter. You are not still.

 

WITCH
I am, or was.

 

CHORUS
No. No. No.
No. No. No.
No silly witch. Fire. Hand. Itch. Aha goodbye.

 

VIREO
I heard martyrdom was lovely. Be lovely.

 

WITCH
And your fits are lovely and not lovely.

 

VIREO
Am I having a fit now?

 

WITCH
It’s hard for me to say I’m dying
I’m dying

 

MOTHER (Off.)
They’re burning a witch! They’re burning a witch! They’re burning a witch!

 

VIREO
For a while with my two candles there was a perfect balance between the bound woman in the hateful world and the picture of my face. When the fire rises, my room goes away.

 

WITCH
You turn. Don’t turn –

 

VIREO
I slide down, my back up under the window, and firelight shines of every hard surface.

 

WITCH (Singing.)
The air is reading a book of fire And the air is taken away
The consumer, consumed
By the fire assumed, the Breath follows fire to silence

I do not submit, I do not prefer
I am horrified, in love
I gather without gaining and Am no less for dying

Page after page of flame
Language kills you sometimes
On every page my name
Book of fire
Flammable lines
Apnea of reading

I do not submit, I do not prefer
I am horrified, in love
I gather without gaining and
Am no less for dying

 

VIREO (Re: the Voice.)
Not again. But you see, this time I won’t sing along.

 

WITCH
I won’t sing along...

By the window you see
How in love I am,
How many places I can be, Redeemed by the plural your Youth and fear give me.

And now how literal to you A death is, the preference, Save the size of my Horrible love

In your heart
When the fire sinks to Gentian blue

 

VIREO
I see. Am I a witch now too?

(Knock knock.) Not again!

 

WITCH
In the end my bones drop to one another and knock with the sound of wooden balls.

(Invisibility.)

Vireo wakes onstage into the 16th-century world she left before, mistaking the Doctor for a Priest. He prescribes cloistering for his patient, and she hears rumors of witchcraft and evil while being escorted to her room by the Doctor’s new assistant, Raphael. She imagines her room to be a convent tower, and so it becomes one.

From her “convent tower” Vireo observes a Witch being brought to the stake for death, but when she speaks, Vireo recognizes the same “Voice” she heard in the woods before. The Voice sings about humanity and Vireo tries to understand the meaning behind her words. As their scene continues Vireo begins to doubt her beliefs, wondering if she too is a witch, or is at least responsible for some of the actions surrounding the witch. Finally the Witch burns, silencing the Voice, and once again Vireo falls into a fit.

Category:

Upcoming Airdates

Artesanos / Artisans

The highly skilled labor of artisans migrating from Mexico and Latin America are the backbone of high-end design and retail in Los Angeles, producing some of the most exquisite furniture, textiles, and design goods. But they represent a creative force that seems invisible to the city. Artbound uncovers their stories and their role in making Los Angeles and Southern California the creative capital of the world.

  • 2017-07-30T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne

Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne partners with Artbound for an episode that looks into the future of Los Angeles. "Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne" examines the city's architecture, urban planning, transportation and changing demographics, giving us a glimpse of Los Angeles as a model of urban reinvention for the nation and the world.

  • 2017-08-02T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2017-08-27T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Fallujah: Art, Healing, and PTSD

USMC Sergeant Christian Ellis was a machine gunner in Iraq, whose platoon was ambushed, leaving him with a broken back and only one of a few survivors. Ellis returned home to join millions of Americans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Ellis inspired the first opera about the Iraq war with a score composed by Tobin Stokes, a libretto by Iraqi-American Heather Raffo, and produced by the Long Beach Opera. This documentary explores how the experience of war is transformed into a work of art.

  • 2017-08-06T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

Hopscotch: An Opera for the 21st Century

Artbound explores the groundbreaking opera "Hopscotch," which unfolded in cars zigzagging throughout Los Angeles, telling a single story of a disappearance across time. Audiences experienced the work in both the intimacy of a car, where artists and audiences shared a confined space, and in a larger central hub, where all the journeys were live-streamed to create a dizzying panorama of life in Los Angeles.

  • 2017-08-09T20:05:00-07:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2017-08-20T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

MOCA: Beyond The Museum Walls

Artbound explores the programming of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, investigating new programming and curatorial approaches that are redefining what it means to be a 21st century museum. This episode features three new programs by The Underground Museum, Wolvesmouth, and Public Fiction.

  • 2017-08-13T10:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

American Purgatory

Artbound explores the paintings of Marc Trujillo who brings the techniques of the Dutch Masters to the subject of commercial architecture and fast-food in Southern California; Kim Stringfellow’ s Mojave Project discovering the eclectic desert communities of the Mojave Desert; Dave Lefner’s colored wood block prints of neon signs in Los Angeles; and the subculture of Brazilian cholos who emulate lowrider culture from East Los Angeles. Also featuring a performance by Nick Waterhouse.

  • 2017-08-16T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

Borderlands

Artbound explores arts along the U.S.-Mexico border. Featuring Mexicali Rose, an artist organization in Mexicali, where locals are encouraged to create art to galvanize community involvement; Drones as art, where multiple projects re-appropriating military drones play with the idea of surveillance and mobility; Paul Turounet’s photographs of undocumented border-crossers printed on galvanized metal; Tijuana’s vibrant reemergent gallery scene; and Manuel Paul Lopez’s animated poem 1984. Also featuring a musical performance by Rodrigo Amarante.

 

  • 2017-08-23T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK