from A CERTAIN QUANTITY OF ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS
plays for the mental theater
#3. A CERTAIN DESCRIPTION OF BOREDOM
To be narrated by a tall, blonde, classical-looking and classically trained actress possessed of terrific presence whose career is going mysteriously nowhere. This actress is a cloud in pants. And boots. She tells everything. She tells nothing. Telling everything and telling nothing are similar. Maybe the same. We care and don’t care according to our … proclivities.
The space is non-descript. It only needs to have one wall. To the left.
To the right, there are no little windows with lace curtains blowing. Outside the windows which are not there there is no snow falling, no material substance which might be mistaken for snow. No wads of cotton, no torn up bits of paper, no petals of flowers collected from gutters and brought here in large garbage bags— Collected on one’s own time I might add to be brought here to be fluttered down now beyond the window and before your eyes so that you might think: It’s snowing! When you know full well that it isn’t. No. I did not run around— I did not spend my free time between jobs gathering the materials to create this illusion.
To the right, there are no little windows.
IT IS SOMEWHAT LIKE BEING A LITTLE RUG.
IT IS SOMEWHAT LIKE BEING A MOTH.
IT IS SOMEWHAT
LIKE STANDING HERE BEFORE YOU HERE NOW HERE.
I had a mother. We all did. Maybe it is not so bad after all
to be a little rug. How do we know?
IT IS SOMEWHAT LIKE BEING A MOTH
BUT ONLY IF THE MOTH IS DEAD ALREADY
ON THE TABLE NOT DOING MUCH
OF ANYTHING ANYMORE.
THE TABLE IS WOOD. THESE THINGS ARE PLAIN. THEY DO NOT SCARE YOU.
A LUMP OF WOOD. A LUMP OF WINGS AND FUR. AND YOU—
YOU ARE THERE TOO.
AND MAYBE YOU HAVE EATEN TOO MUCH.
To the left, a wall. Beyond the wall, a street somewhere. A neighborhood. If it is dark outside, and all of a sudden the sky flashes with light, with lightning, and then afterwards there is a clap of thunder and a rainstorm for thirty seconds, this is something different altogether. This is what has just happened in fact, but we can’t know anything about this because we are in here and to the left of us is a wall. Which prevents us from knowing the doings of the sky right just right now.
The sky knows little of boredom. A little rug knows little of boredom. A lump of wood, a dead moth, these things resemble boredom but know nothing of it. When a person has eaten too much, he becomes like a lump of wood. And he knows it. Or no. He doesn’t know it. At the time. And this is boredom.
BUT IT’S NOT SO BAD!
Whether it is dark or not, beyond the wall is a street. No matter what time of day it is, and no matter what the sky is doing, the street is there. For now. If all of the people were to disappear off of the face of the planet, the street would remain there. For some time. Eventually, it would fall into disrepair. It would crumble into the earth, pass through the crust of the earth and fall into some mysterious subterranean sea that we know nothing about. The subterranean sea would deal with the hunks of asphalt in its own way. It would have to. It would not have time or inclination to think: Ahforchrissake. What’s all this? It would just get on with it, whatever it was going to do by way of the asphalt. However,
At this moment the street has probably not fallen through the crust of the earth
and it is probably continuing to do its current job: carrying a current of people
to and fro, supporting people on their… journeys. It is further (the street)
defining territories beyond which
lie other territories beyond which
lie other territories
and so on. (We may call these territories “neighborhoods.”
When they get larger, we may call them “hamlets”, “townships”, “cities”, “states”, “regions”, “countries”, “continents”, “hemispheres”, “etcetera”. All of these are connected by streets and now these distinctions are political. Though once they may have been considered practical, or convenient, or helpful, they are now more or less—)
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED THAT I DO NOT HAVE A CAT TIED TO A STRING HERE.
I DO NOT HAVE AN ANIMAL IN A BASKET AND I DID NOT BRING A DOG WITH ME TO PERFORM TRICKS WITH A GLOW IN THE DARK BALL. THE ANIMAL THAT I DO NOT HAVE IN THE BASKET THAT I DO NOT HAVE DOES NOT HAVE SHARP CLAWS, SHARP FANGS, CLOVEN HOOVES, A POINTED TAIL, OR A FORKED TONGUE. THE CAT THAT I DO NOT HAVE IS NOT SIAMESE AND THE STRING IT IS NOT TIED TO IS NOT RED. THE DOG NEITHER. THERE IS NO DOG.
Boredom was a thing that my mother just could not tolerate. She would have been afraid of a lump of wood. She would have been afraid of a dead moth on the table. She would have made a mountain out of a molehill if it would relieve her boredom. Anxiety, despair, terror. These things were a relief. Compared to boredom. For my mother. But that is not my problem. Anymore.
[A sound begins. It starts out low but increases as it goes along.]
[The classically trained actress stands there. She is neither afraid of nor interested in the low sound getting louder as it goes along. The audience, on the other hand, might be driven crazy by this sound, which goes on for much too long while the tall blonde actress doesn’t say anything or do anything anymore. And yet, something is happening. Everywhere and nowhere, something is happening. Fingers are swelling and turning blue squeezed tight by platinum rings that are too small for them. As an example.]
There are certain words that I would like to remove from my vocabulary entirely, to entirely remove from my vocabulary. I would tell you what they are but then I wouldn't be off to a very good start.
KRISTEN KOSMAS is an American playwright and performer. She has had new works commissioned by The Chocolate Factory (NYC), Performance Space 122 (NYC), The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf (NYC), Seattle University’s SITE Specific, Dixon Place (NYC), and the New City Theater in Seattle. Her plays (see links below) and solo performances have been presented in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Austin, and many downtown venues in New York City. She is the writer/performer of four critically acclaimed solo shows: Blah Blah Fuckin Blah, Again, Slip, and The Scandal! As an actor, she has appeared in many notable new plays including Potatoes of August by Sibyl Kempson, Mark Smith by Kate Ryan, ASTRS and Some Things Cease To Be While Others Still Are by Karinne Keithley, The Internationalist by Anne Washburn, Producers of Fiction by Jim Strahs, The Florida Project by Tory Vazquez, and Hurricane by Erin Cressida Wilson. Ms. Kosmas is a founding member of the OBIE Award winning performance series Little Theater; the Brooklyn-based experimental writer’s collective The Ladies’ Auxiliary Playwriting Team/Machiqq; and The Twenty-Five Cent Opera of San Francisco, a monthly event for the enactment of texts and theatricals. She holds a BFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College. She is an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Whitman College and a member of New Dramatists in NYC.
Read more work by Kristen Kosmas:
Buy Hello Failure from Ugly Duckling Presse.
Buy This From Cloudland from PLAY A Journal of Plays
Buy Anthem and The Mayor of Baltimore from 53rd State Press.
A rave review of There There in The New York Times