Scapegoat: A Fairy Tale Opera in One Act

SCENE I
Setting: An outdoor parking lot in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn behind a city hospital complex. It is two fifteen in the morning on a late summer evening. The parking lot is lit by a strong directional light causing a chiaroscuro effect on all the cars and buildings caught in its beam. As the audience enters the theatre we hear audio of New York City night-life; revelers, sirens, people walking together down the sidewalk talking & laughing, cars passing by, an occasional motorcycle roaring past, a dog barks, even the subtle sound of crickets chirping in the abandoned lot across the way makes its way into the soundscape of this summer night in Bedford Stuyvesant Brooklyn in current day NYC. As the house lights start to dim the street noise reduces, not necessarily in level but in quantity. There comes a deep sigh in the New York City night where lovers tangled together in a doorway have finally chosen who’s home to go to; where the bar around the corner has already signaled last call and the band is bringing down the house with one last chord; where men and women starting the late-shift have already crossed paths with the men and women who have called it a day already, for Christ’sake! Everyone has gotten to where they are going and Brooklyn takes one long, deep breath. The cricket’s choir raises a toast to the silent night then cuts out.

 

Into the quiet walks a Billy Goat. Around his neck is a red string. He wonders into center stage to nibble at a paper cup lying on the ground.

 

THE BILLY GOAT

What’s a nice goat like me doing in a dark place like this?

Some say it’s destiny

Others call it prophesy

It’s a fantasy, folks

How many goats do you know who speak English?

Allow me to introduce tonight’s cast of characters

Officer Adonna Evrymn – NYPD –

(Introduce Evrymn’s leitmotif – possibly have her sing the first verse of her aria quietly)

Here she is walking her beat which takes her past theBhospital parking lot and into the wilderness of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

She used to be good at her job.

 

Officer Evrymn walks by in a distracted manner seeing neither the goat nor the homeless woman crouched behind a car hiding in its shadow

 

Samantha Lev – a homeless Vet

(Introduce Sam’s leitmotif and possibly have her sing the first verse in her area quietly)

Her three years of service to the United States Army was richly rewarded with sexual abuse and a dishonorable discharge. 

Here she is looking for food.

She used to be good at her job, too.

 

Sam slips out of the shadow after Officer Evrymn walks by and rummages through the garbage

 

Seydou Sa’iqi – A climate migrant from Nigeria

(Introduce Seydou’s leitmotif and possibly have him sing his first verse of his aria quietly)

Today he is an Orderly at Interfaith Hospital. Here he is taking the first break of his shift.

Seydou is good at his job.

 

Seydou is seen far back upstage standing on the loading dock of the hospital smoking while he watches the scene unfold before him. He is quite aware of everyone there – including the goat. He checks his watch, puts his cigarette out on his shoe and turns to go inside.

 

THE BILLY GOAT

And me, I’m just a goat on the lam in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn.

Here I am eating a paper cup. I don’t have a job. I’m a goat.

 

The BillyGoat trots his way across the street to where he smelled grass and heard the cricket’s song. The goat’s manner is slightly erratic indicating that he’s stressed but not yet giving into panic. Suddenly a motor cycle in the distance roars a terrible note which startles the Goat who kicks a car that sets off its alarm and the goat skitters away into a dark shadow.

 

Officer Evrymn enters from the side where she had exited making the return trip on her well-worn beaten path around her section of Bed Stuy.

 

[OFFICER EVRYMN AND SAM LEV ENTER INTO A DUET HERE – THEY ARE NOT. INTERACTING SO MUCH AS THEY ARE CO-EXISTING IN THE SAME SPACE TOGETHER; KNOWING THE OTHER IS THERE AND YET AVOIDING ANY KIND OF A TANGIBLE CONNECTION – SOMEWHERE THERE IS A COMMONALITY THAT GROWS BETWEEN THE TWO WOMEN – IN THE COURSE OF THE DUET IT IS DISCOVERED]

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Eleven to seven – Eleven to seven

Walkin this beat down Dwyers street

Hook a left round Interfaith Hospital

Secure the area straight out to Flatbush

And turn ’round to do it again – Do it again

Do it all again and again and again

It’s run and rewind like a VHS tape

You’d think with this job I’d have lost some weight

Ten thousand steps and the shift ain’t half over

My arches are falling, my better angels are calling but I’m

still hauling

Eleven to seven – Eleven to seven – Eleven to seven

Workin the Late-Side

Put on the Dog Watch for speakin my mind

For callin it out when I saw something wrong

Working the Late-Side

Fifteen years serving the force

Saw shit that would make your toes curl up inside your shoes

To be a cop you have to be hard

I wanted to be hard

Hard enough to bring down the man who beat my mom

That dude who raped me but then I beat him up so bad

And I was hard

I was black-shiny-surface hard

Shone in the light so bright I’d hurt your eyes, hard

Nobody could touch me

Then one day Dweh showed up and I saw love I’d been yearning

for since forever

His smile split me in two

His kiss shattered my polished surface

I fucked him all night and thought, “alright well that’s

over and done with.”

Was I ever wrong

He’s still singing his love song keeping me soft and squishy

like a box of pink Peeps on Easter morning

And here I am workin the Late-Side two years too long so

Dweh and baby Shinae can sleep soundly in the silent summer

night of our comfortable home

Love is what drives my engine now

I got no bad-girl fight left in me

Love is what drives my engine now

But love don’t make a New York City cop

I got passed over – made a fuss – tried to be tough like I

once was but to no avail

They put me on the Late-Side

Eleven to seven

Five days a week

Eleven to seven

Walkin this beat until, I suppose, I grind this sidewalk

down into dust

and the buildings crumble

and my baby Shinae will be all grown up and away

Eleven to seven – Eleven to seven

Walking this beat feeling like I’m missing all the best

parts of my life

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Blood coursing through my veins

I can see, it I can feel it

Little left of me remains

I can deal it, try to steal it

Under cover of the night I will try to curb my fright turn

it over to come out right

but it never does – no it never does – it never was

The Army barracks are burning

churning in hungry flames

oops there goes the Captains quarters

How I wish I’d locked him in there to burn

A lesson he should have learned

Too many victims of his yearning

Fall prey to his discerning gaze

Stripped of our clothing – ordered to kneel

Like a dog he made us feel until we felt nothing at all

If only I could feel again

 

Shit! I’m getting my period

Dear God make me an old hag

so I no longer need this old rag

filled with shame and loathing

and all this bloody clothing

Were I a man this would all have gone differently

Put it back in its place, Sam, behind your mind – forget

about it

Return me – a soldier – to the rank and file of obedient

living

Let this go

Make me whole again

I can cope

I am strong

I can stand alone

I can stand…alone…

I can’t stand

I MUST STAND!

 

Sam exits to find as private a place as possible to put on her rags while Officer Evrymn walks on her way down her well-worn path off stage

 

THE BILLY GOAT

I am hungry – find me food

I am lonely – find my herd

I am afraid – find my goat herder

Rabbi, rabbi you left me alone to die

Did you not hear my pleading cry?

Baaa, baaa, baaaa, baaaa!!!

Very well then, if you won’t come I shall kick until I’m

done or I am dead

Which I dread, by the way, but I’ll take it over the

alternative

Rabbi, rabbi you tore me away

Me and the Does were in heavy fore-play

I was in a good rut

They were bleating for my love

And from God above I swear I was blessed with such strength

to satisfy the lot of them with my sebaceous scent

But take me away in my moment of glory

Lead me into solitude and I will fight to get back

to my Does, to my Billies and Wethers

Back to my Bovidae family

If only I knew where the hell they all were!

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

(off stage with a new leitmotif introducing itself)

Azazele

Azazele

Azazele!

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Oh my – it’s the (almost) rabbi. The rabbinical student whoBstole me from my herd! An overzealous, under-educated, misguided, fanatical youth – an incongruous interloper causing delay in my plot. 

He was not to be written in; I must speak with the librettist.

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

Azazele, don’t run away

There is a great destiny in store for you

You shall repair the world

Make it whole

Restore the judges as in the days of old

Carry our sins to the edge of the world and toss them away

on our behalf

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Tell me, rabbi, why should I care for

the condition of your world?

With your – what do you call them? – cars the size of

monsters?

I’ll eat its wheels off to get away from you, Shmuley,

fifth-year rabbinical student!

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

What? I get Smicha right after the Yamim noraim – You are part of my plan to be best in class!

It’s all arranged.

I return the sacred rite of Acharei Mot to our kehilla – our path to salvation will make the coming of Hashem assured and

so will be my position as the next rabbi at Simchat Elocheim.

 

THE BILLY GOAT

This guy is certifiable

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

Maybe then Rivka will agree to marry me

 

THE BILLY GOAT

So it all comes down to sex – he should better understand my predicament then

I will NOT go with you! Get out of my story.

 

Billy Goat kicks over a garbage can and head butts a car, setting off its alarm again. He then slams into the side of a metal shed with his horns. Sam tumbles out terrified and in the throes of a PTSD episode

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Tawaqf! (Stop in Arabic)

Awqafh alan! (stop it now)

Where’s my motherfucking gun?!

Who the fuck are you?!

(she grabs Shmuley and throws him down to the ground)

Tawaqf!

Awqafh alan!

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

(running on stage with her gun drawn)

Hold it right there sister – I thought you might be trouble

 

The Billy Goat scampers away running past the officer to her complete surprise leaving Sam, the rabbi and Officer Evrymn in a heap on the ground

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

What the hell?! A goat?

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

That’s my goat

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

What are you all about – wait are you – What you got going on with a goat in Bed-Stuy rabbi?

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Almost rabbi

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

Slicha, officer, this is about a sacred religious rite – it has nothing to do with your secular business

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Oh you think so?

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

I think he has an IED in his hand – take him down!

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

My goat is getting away, officer

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Yes, so it appears

 

They all get up and start running after the Billy Goat who had stopped to observe their silly banter and then resumed running around in circles banging into cars and metal doors with the cop, the homeless vet and the rabbi (almost) in pursuit

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN (cont’d)

pulling out her radio

Central, central, this is Officer Evrymn 

I’m in pursuit of a…

The radio crackles and the dispatcher comes on

DISPATCHER

Come back on that? You broke up there – over

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

In pursuit of a goat – over

 

DISPATCHER

Did you say a goat? – over

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Copy that, Central. Request back-up – over

 

DISPATCHER

What do you think we are, a petting zoo? – over

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Repeat; request back-up – we need to catch a Billy goat –

it’s got huge horns, potentially dangerous

 

DISPATCHER

10/4 back-up on its way

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

They think I’m a fool – I’m an idiot chasing a goat in a parking lot in the middle of the night. What has my life come to?

 

At this the Billy Goat turns and stops face to face with Officer Evrymn

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Adonna my darling

You’re a shiny black star of the night

Burn bright with your brilliance

Put down the thought that you’re broken and shattered

Love is what drives your engine now

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

My husband Dweh and our baby Shinae

I miss them with each passing day

 

THE BILLY GOAT

so why do you stay?

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

For the pension

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Beyond my comprehension – Go home have sex! Your husband is HOT your daughter is sleeping what are you waiting for, girlfriend?!

 

The uproar resumes for a second and then the Billy Goat comes face to face with Sam who is flipping out

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Agbaga ballalla ding sabba cababba

(she’s practically speaking in tongues she’s so outside of herself) 

BILLY GOAT

Bring it down sister Sam

I ain’t gonna hurt you with my sharp, shiny horns

Bring it down sister Sam your safe here with me

Locate your feet, I know those shoes don’t fit you but look

down anyway and find out where your feet are at!

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

My feet – my feet – my feet are right there. Look, I can see

my big toe.

 

THE BILLY GOAT

What do ya know! And where are those feet at this very

moment?

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

They’re on the ground

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Very good – you’re right. They are on the ground and guess what, so are you!

 

Sam stops flailing around and everything is calm and quiet. She can hear the sound of the crickets in the vacant lot across the street. Her demeanor shifts into a self-possessed woman in her 30’s as she stands straight and tall

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

How good it feels to not be crazy

 

THE BILLY GOAT

How good it feels to not be with crazy

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

I’m gonna be fine. Nothing’s broken
THE BILLY GOAT

No, sister, you are broken and you need fixing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But you need help?

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

What about the VA?

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Not eligible

Dishonorable discharge

I set my commanding officer’s chair on fire – the bastard deserved it

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

What did he do to you?

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

What didn’t he do to me? Hey, ya got any Tampons in your fanny pack?

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

no I don’t – look – we’re in a sticky situation here and need to get back to this story. What’s going on with the rabbi?

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Don’t know – I’m agnostic

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

This is your story, goat, there must be a reason he’s here

 

THE BILLY GOAT

I really don’t…

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

What’s that red string around your neck?

 

THE BILLY GOAT

I woke up like this – the rabbinical student who’s going to “save the world” over there must have put it on me in my sleep

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Segula! It is segula – a protective charm – I’ve read aboutBIt I need that, I need that from you now

THE BILLY GOAT

Don’t touch my nice red string, Sister Sam. I’m a gifted goat!

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

You’re changing the subject, goat! What magical powers do you have? Protect me, protect me, please protect me

 

THE BILLY GOAT

I can’t protect you I’m a goat

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Then I’ll yank this from your throat!

 

THE BILLY GOAT

Rabbi, save me!

 

The (almost) rabbi gains full animation just in time to see Sam going in for his goat and he runs to the goat’s aid. The Officer is attempting to gain control over the mayhem and is wielding her gun around in a useless manner. Sam sees the gun and grabs it from the Officer’s hands. She tackles the (almost) rabbi and sits on him putting the gun to the Goat’s head.

The (almost) rabbi is freaking out because (a) a woman is sitting on him and (b) her menstrual blood on his shirt. He goes absolutely apoplectic. The Goat continues to dance around slamming into things and the Officer is running around uselessly calling for more back up.

 A frenetic quartet ensues

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

Tamei! tamei! ani tamei!

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

I can’t stand

I MUST STAND!

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Working the Late-Side

Eleven to seven – Eleven to seven

Walking this beat feeling like I’m missing all the best

parts of my life

 

THE BILLY GOAT

I am hungry – find me food

I am lonely – find my herd

I am afraid – find my goat herder

  

Seydo, has been watching the mayhem for a bit from his perch high up on the loading doc. He disappears inside and then makes his entrance into the parking lot – with his big booming base baritone voice he rings out

 

SEYDO SA’IQI

kowa da kowa kwantar da hankali (“everybody calm down” in Hausa)

zo nan tare da ni, goat, zan kiyaye ka (Come here with me, goat, I will keep you safe)

Seydou walks up to the goat while the rest of the pile lays on the ground in disarray watching this calm act. He takes the goat by the horns and steers him away from the pile

 

You never catch a goat by yelling. He is a calm animal so you be calm too.

Officer, do you have a rope?

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Nope, don’t have rope

Not in the business of catching a goat

 

SEYDO SA’IQI

I used to be – sa’iqi

Been herding goats since I was a child

growing up with them

walking with them

milking them

listening to them breath

burying them as drought took them one by one by one by one

 

THE BILLY GOAT

You lost your herd

 

SEYDO SA’IQI

A, na yi – yes, I did

I left them there to die

while I fly to America and start a new life

He looks at Sam

Here, I’ll trade you

he pulls a sanitary pad out of his orderly jacket and offers it to Sam who is still holding the gun. She trades

Come in to the hospital. You can get cleaned up. Rabbi, you too, we’ll get a new shirt for you to wear – you don’t mind if its hospital blue do you?

 

Seydo, still holding onto the goat’s horns, hands the gun over to Officer Evrymn who takes it back with humility

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

My back-up never showed

 

SEYDO SA’IQI

You have lost your herd too

 

Seydou takes hold of the red string around the goats neck and magically pulls an extension off of it (the string remains around the goats neck) he hands this extension to Rabbi (almost) Shmuley who tacks it to the ground – the Goat cannot escape from this magical anchor.

Everyone leaves the stage except for the goat.

 

THE BILLY GOAT

And that’s how it happened – most of it true, you can Google it “goat runs wild in Brooklyn”

As for me, this little red string really did its thing

kept me from harm even when Sam was armed that crazy vet lady

and the (almost) rabbi OY! What a boy

and Officer What’s-her-name working a job she can’t stand

Pathetic the lot of them

All the characters gather around the Goat, Sam is clean and dressed in hospital scrubs. Rabbi (Almost) Shmuley is wearing a hospital scrubs top

Hello…what do you guys all want?

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

That string was never for your protection

It is there for our salvation

He puts his hands over the goats face
 Take my pride

my selfishness

my ignorance and childish ways

 

OFFICER ADONNA EVRYMN

Take my failures – my bad choices

Love is what drives my engine now

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

Take my loss of control

My rage – my madness

my inability to engage

I am broken – I long to be whole

 

RABBI (ALMOST) SHMULEY

Saydou, what will you transfer to Azazele?

 

SEYDO SA’IQI

Nothing – I am as complete as I am – there’s just one job left to do

 

Seydo takes the goat, leads him across the stage and tosses him with great might into the wilderness (the music carries the story through to its conclusion indicating the transference of sins onto the goat and absolution at the goat’s demise)

 

Sam runs to retrieve the scapegoat – she carries his lifeless body to Center stage. His red string is now a brilliant white. One by one everyone leaves except for Sam who stays with the body of the goat, kneeling next to him

 

SAM THE HOMELESS VET

THE LORD is my shepherd

I shall not want

You’ve made me to lie down in green pastures

Lead me beside still waters

Restored my soul

You’ve put me on the paths of righteousness

For Your sake

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death

I fear no evil

You are with me

Your rod – Your staff, they comfort me.

Prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies

Anoint my head with oil

My cup runneth over

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow

All the remaining days of my life

And I will dwell in Your house

Forever

 

The End
©Marianna Mott Newirth 2016

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