Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Below is the text of a play I originally wrote and performed for Too Much Light in 2006. I’m reprinting it here as the New Horizons space probe passes Pluto, carrying the ashes of the man who first discovered it.
© 2006 Bilal Dardai
(Blackout onstage. BILAL holds a badminton racquet with a birdie balanced upright on its face, and a flashlight under the birdie. He moves slowly across the stage, speaking as he moves. STEVE, standing to the right of BD, turns on a flashlight to light a tennis ball balanced on a tennis or squash racquet.)
BD: His ashes leave Earth in January, nestled in titanium alloy along with millions of dollars of research and circuitry. Propelled, hurtling, adrift at incredible speeds, passing through vacuum, his name is Clyde Tombaugh; and in 1930, when he is a much more complex carbon structure, he looks up into the galaxy and discovers Pluto.
(NOELLE, at the other end of the stage, turns on a flashlight to light a tiny squash ball balanced on a badminton racquet.)
BD: Right about now he’s six months from Jupiter.
(RYAN, about mid-point onstage, lights a dodgeball balanced on a tennis or squash racquet.)
BD: He’s only ashes in space, so he doesn’t know what his colleagues decide. When he dies it is still a planet. When he hits escape velocity it is still a planet. When he arrives it will be a very large rock. The boundary pulled back to Neptune.
(DINA, between RYAN and NOELLE, lights a racquetball balanced on a tennis or squash racquet.)
BD: Your very educated mother used to serve us nine pizzas, and now all she brings us are nachos.
He’s only ashes in space and he can’t use the phone, so we can’t know what Clyde Tombaugh would say to the news, if he would react with the measured humility of a disproved scientist or with a defiant cry of FUCK YOU, IT’S A FUCKING PLANET, YOU ASSHOLES.
He’s only ashes in space, on his way to a demoted destination, and I don’t know if I believe in the afterlife, or if I do believe in the afterlife, if I believe that you can follow your ashes to Pluto, if that’s where your ashes are going. But if I did believe in that. Then if I were Clyde Tombaugh. If I were Clyde Tombaugh, when I arrive at the edge of our frontier, I’m calling Pluto whatever the hell I want.