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A One Act Play -- Woman's Monologue
(free for students & auditions)

In the Livery of the Immortals

By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2004 Geralyn Horton

INGRID, a large handsome American woman wearing a Tee shirt with a distinctive Logo, is talking to a couple of American tourists somewhere in London: a table at a Bed and Breakfast place, or a bench in one of the picturesque parks......

Uh huh. You've spotted me. That's what I am. Ingrid-- Handmaid to the Immortals.

No, it's ok. I love to talk to fans-- talking to fans is almost the best part of the job. The best part of course is actually talking with The Main Man-- or any of The Immortals, or the cool people they hang out with.

No, really. If I didn't want fans to spot me and come up and talk, I wouldn't wear this Immortals Tee shirt. I call it "Their Livery". You know what "livery" is, right?

Yeah, it's "like a uniform". But more exactly, it's "the insignia worn by the retainers of a feudal lord". Indicates role and status. Not for lower servants like the scullery maids -- for the ones who are on public display, from Footmen up to the Lord Chamberlain. So this Immortals shirt I call "The Livery of the Demi-gods". You get it? Riffing on how religious garb is called "God's Livery". You know, the cassocks and mitres and -- what do you call those things that hang down? ... Right, the "stoles".

You're an English major, aren't you? Right. I can tell. Just like your friend here-- your husband? Right, I see the ring-- he's a geek. the penguin on his Linux tee shirt is a bigger giveaway than your grammar.

Your son's Tee shirt wouldn't be Livery, though. Most logos are just fan shirts, picked up at a con or a movie opening. Same as rock fans get their band's shirts at concerts. Mild fans, semi fans who are really still mundanes, see me simply as someone who shares their interests, and they'll strike up a conversation on that basis--- yeah, like you just did. Dedicated fans-- the ones who go to the conventions? Make pilgrimage to the sites, like in the middle ages to the shrines of the saints? Yeah, those fans! They approach me with awe and reverence. They recognize that this particular Tee shirt marks me as A Member of the Inner Circle. Trusted friend and go-fer of the Immortals.

I don't know myself how. Or why. I wanted the job, and I got it, but.... I mean, I set out to get a job like this, getting it was like my quest. So I researched where they were shooting and I hung around and made myself useful. But megafans do that by the hundreds-- so why choose me?

Or maybe it's because I'm so large. Everything about the Immortals is larger than life, so maybe they need to have big people serve them. They don't want to be always worrying about who's going to get crushed: they can relax.

Believe me, growing up to be 6 ft tall by the time I was twelve is good training for living large. My brothers were even taller-- we were like giants in the land of Lilliput. It wasn't hard for us to identify with comic book heroes. Of course they can have superpowers-- compared to the shrimps in grade school, we had superpowers! And we had no trouble imagining powerful enemies -- because we were outcast freaks, of course. My brothers at least were welcome on the school teams, but who needs a giant female? I could dunk a basketball, but I didn't want to-- not against players who barely came up to my budding chest.

I played games with my brothers: football, wrestling, martial arts. We were our own Alternative World. We read Sword and Sorcery books, we took lessons in hand to hand. Perfect preparation for wearing the Livery, acting as a Mediator. Fans have to physically look up to me, which makes perfect sense if people are going to see me as the earthly representative of a world that's bigger and brighter and more exciting than theirs. Just talking to me, or touching the hand that touched the hand of a Mythic Being? Gives them a thrill.

You've got to understand, the most important factor in heroic fantasy as entertainment is the stars' right relation to their own legend. Why? Because the star is both the cult's object of worship, and his own Chief Priest. But they can't totally buy in to that, or they go insane. They have to believe-- yet not believe. So. One of the things the Inner Circle does is reinforce the right relationship.

Like, skill and discipline are so important, right? Fighters train and practice and rehearse: they are so very careful. Everything has to be just so, safety first. But, equally: never let the caution get out of hand, never go overboard! In the moment, when the cameras are running or even when you are interacting with fans, you've got to look careless. Like sheer courage. Like it never even occurs to you that you could make a wrong move. Understand? The man and the weapon and the Legend are one.

Overboard? Overboard is ordering bananas off the set because somebody could slip on a peel and get hurt. Slip on a peel! Has anybody ever slipped on a banana peel? On stage or in the movies, right? Anyway, Who do you suppose banned them from the set in Belgium?... Right! Everybody went "duh!" but we didn't say anything, we all just went along till the wrap party. Meanwhile I have my instructions, and I'm out ordering every banana in Brussels. At dinner there are these huge towering bowls of bananas, an all banana yellow decor, individual bananas at every plate. Comes time for the toast, everybody stands and holds his banana up high, and ceremoniously strips it down and flings the peel on the floor! Talk about hilarity!

Yeah, he's a terrific actor. The industry doesn't realize that, because he plays a whole range of characters within the action genre, each so different as to be unrecognizable. So to the suits he's not a brand name-- ergo he's nobody. But the fans recognize him. They know. He has 8 different web sites, recording his whole career. When he was announced for the cast of the next movie, I helped to get the word out. The fans deluged the company. Bombarded the suits with emails, asking what his character was going to be, how much screen time he'd have. They know who he is and that he's quality talent-- the suits better listen, and give him what he deserves.

Yeah. No talent celebrities can be a problem. But rock stars can fit in, add their own legends to The Legend. A fan asked Daltry if he or his character Fitzcairn had the most sexual conquests. He says, Going by shear numbers, or by rate? Cause Fitzcairn operated over centuries, Daltry just decades. I guess it should be by rate, says the fan-- but Daltry still can't decide, because he doesn't remember the 60's! Doesn't remember the 60's! Now, that's the stuff of Legend! But some of the rock star types the suits insisted on casting-- because they had European or Asian brand recognition-- they're "stars" who can't act and they can't fight. You can fudge one or the other to some extent, but both?

Acting? The shortfall is dealt with by dubbing. Stage actors are great mimics. They can do the star's voice, the one the rock fans expect, and get it to appear to come out of the image's mouth with real feeling-- just like doing an animated film, or like a toothpaste commercial. Fighting's harder, though. Stunt doubles and trick photography can only carry you so far. The fans see through it-- even when they don't understand what it is they're seeing, they can sense that it's not right.

They just do. Heroic Fantasy has a through-line, and to play it you have to be a Warrior. The adolescent macho preening and posturing rock stars get away with? Doesn't cut it. Well, right: it'll work, sometimes, for a quick and dirty cameo. A villain may survive, for a while, on gamesmanship. But up against real Warriors in a fair fight? He's going to lose. Dirty and quick. Where's the suspense? Fans demand better!

Yeah. Its the fans who make my job easy. Right now I'm working on a production record for the Immortals main web site, stills of all the locations that appeared in the series. Everywhere I go, people come up to me and want to help. In Tokyo? They show me exactly where a scene was shot. They pull pictures and autographs out of their wallets as proof. Then they want their picture taken with me, to prove that! Talk about Interactive!

That's the next thing, of course. The Video Game. Those exotic locations will be digital backgrounds, and fans will be able to play out new adventures of their own, that excited them in the series. The Immortals have to be very careful about who they license, because the Game will be a world where fans are supreme. Scenarios will breed scenarios. What the first fans choose most often will become the basic plot, and the available variations will be based on probability curves. The danger of this is that the vivid individual, the source of surprise and satisfaction, mayl be washed away.

Yeah, well, it's sad. Mass imagination tends to become least common denominator. The Hero with 1000 Faces? Finally, he has no face. He's nobody. A real hero is mythic and peculiar at the same time. A guy who has tremendous power, but is vulnerable on little things. Adrian has the lucky coat, right? It's his coat, but it's also the character's coat-- you've seen it, right? It's not just a costume, it's his talisman. He wore it to his original audition, he wears it in the scenes that everybody remembers--- because he figures out a way that he can wear it, he fits it into the story. On any climactic occasion, where it really matters. Because Adrian's superstitious, the character is superstitious.

Sure. It is, it's an actor-thing. Actors and athletes and gamblers and fighters-- we're all superstitious. But Immortals? Why should they be? Hey! Immortals are only demi-gods, so why shouldn't they? Even the ancient Olympians had their Objects of Power: caduceus, girdle, winged helmet... never left home without ‘em. The only time I leave home without my Livery is when I'm out with my family, when I want to be invisible-- or as close to invisible as a six foot thirteen stone woman ever gets.


THE END

 

 
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