Pandas – Part 1

Ann Batdorf, NZP photographer

Lights up.  A forest, full of greenery and life, sits in the afternoon sun.  The light comes through the gaps in the leaves.  Then from the right, leaves start to spread apart and then close.  Baebo, a male panda, comes walking out and stands, looking around.  He sits,  picks up some leaves and starts eating.  Pure bliss.

GENA
(offstage)  Hello?  Baebo?  Did you find it?

BAEBO
Over here Gena.

Gena, a female panda, comes walking in from upstage.

GENA
Wow.  I can’t believe it.  This place is amazing.  Ouosta was right.  This place is completely empty.

BAEBO
Well, it’s those hills.  Keeps anybody from seeing this place, even from the air.  If Ouosta hadn’t hurt his wing, he never would have had to land near here and would have never found it.  Other than us three, I don’t think anyone else knows about it.

GENA
This is perfect!  There is so much room to play, but we’ll always be able to keep an eye on them.  Oh, this is great!  Thank you so much Baebo.

BAEBO
Thank the bird, I didn’t do anything.

GENA
You came along.  I thought I was going to have to take this trek by myself.  You’re so committed to the tribe, and because the Antsdelee celebration is tonight . . .

BAEBO
You’re part of my tribe too.  I couldn’t let you come up here alone.

GENA
I know, but . . .

BAEBO
Gena, this place is nice, really nice.  Look at the sun coming through the trees.  These are the best leaves I have ever tasted.  Best place in the world to raise offspring.   But we just got here, I’m tired from all the walking, and it is so calm here.  Want to talk about spiritual rebirth?  Well mine’s right here, at this very spot, right now.  Don’t ruin all that by getting mushy on me.

GENA
Well gee, I’m sorry.  If I knew you were one with nature, I would have just kept quiet.

BAEBO
Aw come on, don’t be like that either.

GENA
How do you want me to be?

Baebo offers her a stick with leaves on it and starts to poke her with it.

GENA
No, I’m not really hungry.  No I’m not hungry.  Would you please?  FINE!

Gena eats part of the leaf.

GENA
Say, this is wonderful.

They both sit there, chomping on leaves.  They both sigh with relief.

BAEBO
This is the way to act.

Chomping.  Gena scoots over and leans on Baebo, who puts his paw around her.  Gina giggles.  Chomp.  Chomp.  Peace.

BAEBO
I could sit here for the rest of my life.

Chomp.

BAEBO
Oooo!

GENA
What?

BAEBO
My back itches.

GENA
I’ll get it.  Where is it?

BAEBO
In the spot.

GENA
Which spot?

BAEBO
The one spot, how can you not know the one spot?

GENA
Here?

BAEBO
No.

GENA
Here?

BAEBO
MMMMMMHHHHHHEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHHMMMMMM!!!!

GENA
That’s the one.

BAEBO
We have been looking for a new home for ages.  Where we are is fine, but there’s something going on around there.  Bears just up and vanishing.  And it’s nothing like this.  This spot is perfect to move to.

GENA
You’re going to tell the tribe?

BAEBO
How could I not?

GENA / / BAEBO
I don’t know.  I was just thinking, that . . . That we wouldn’t have to tell the tribe.  / / What?  What are you talking about?

GENA
Well, about separating from the tribe.

BAEBO / / GENA
Whoa! / / Baebo, listen . . .

BAEBO
Gena, we can’t leave them.  Our friends, our family, we can’t abandon them.

GENA
I know, but . . .

BAEBO
If we leave the tribe thins out more and more.  There are barely any of us left as it is.

GENA
That’s what I’m talking about.  That place isn’t safe anymore.  So many of us have been found dead with strange markings, or never found at all.  Eerie scents in the air, strange tred . . . there’s something going wrong.

BAEBO
That’s why we should move them here.  There hasn’t been a disturbance for a few rizes, move here and we’ll never see anything like that again.  Problem solved.

GENA
I don’t think it is the place, Baebo, I think it is the tribe.  It’s about all of us huddled together in one home that is attracting something.  We need to leave.  If it is just you and me, I don’t think anything like that can happen.

BAEBO
I won’t do it!  I won’t leave my family.

GENA
I’m not saying it will be easy, but I won’t raise children around any of that bad luck.  How can I when I am afraid that they might be taken away so easily?  If you could be taken away so easily?

BAEBO
Bad things happen.  It is the will of life, to be bred in balance  . . .

GENA
It isn’t just bad things, it’s bad luck and you know it.  For the longest time there has been an unnatural feeling with the tribe, like we are being watched.  I don’t like it.  You feel it don’t you?  (Pause)  Are you serious about raising a family?

BAEBO
Yes.

GENA
So am I.  That’s all I’m thinking about.  Our family.  Not our friends, not our kin, but us.  Our children.  Do you really want your children to be scared they might be stolen or killed in the night by something we can’t explain?

BAEBO
No.  I don’t.

GENA
We need to do this.  Think of it as starting your own tribe.  Your own tribe where you and I are the elders, and whatever we say goes.

Baebo looks around, and then up through the trees.

BAEBO
My own tribe?  Yeah.  That would be supreme.

GENA
Really?

BAEBO
(taking a deep breath)  Yeah.

Gena walks over to Baebo and they nuzzle.

BAEBO
Jukon and Gueva were getting power crazy anyway.

There is a rustle of leaves.  A dart shoots out of the tress and hits Gena, who fall down asleep.  Another dart shoots out at Baebo, but misses.  Two men walk out on either side.  Baebo slashes at them and roars.  They each shoot him, but Baebo keeps on fighting, trying to protect Gena.  One man shoots him again, and Baebo finally lies down.  A Woman walks out and looks at the two bears.  She kneels down and tags them.

Zhang Zhi/Xi'an Evening News

Reaching for Valhalla (A Monologue)

MORRISON:  Valhalla is empty.  The Elysian fields are dried and dead, a dirt farm.  There is no honor in war anymore, no nobility left in fighting.  There was a time when you walked to the battlefield with a weapon that was made by hands, trained hands, a weapon that was an extension of your hands, and that when you lowered your hands against someone else, your tool and you became as one, and with that strength you were able to conquer empires.  Build cities.  Lead a people.  Or when a good gun was something that was expensive, hard to get and hard to use, when it took skill to obtain and maintain one let alone use it, there was a power to defend and to be great.  To be heroes.  But now?  Nothing.  All of that magic, the ability to be a warrior fighting for something, fighting for truth disappeared the day when guns were made en mass by machines and became far too easy to buy and shoot.  Don’t you see?  It’s not about bravery or valor anymore, those words don’t mean anything today.  It’s all about who has the most firepower.  People kill each other from hundreds of miles away, with tanks and missiles, with never ever seeing the face of the lives they take.  There is no price to pay.  No matter what you fight for, there is nothing true about that.

There is no place for a warrior in today’s societies.  Soldiers, sure.  Soldiers are mindless.  They have one purpose, to fight and win.  Not saying that isn’t honorable, but they are single minded.  A warrior struggles in every way to do that which they believe is true.  True, not good.  People only concern themselves with doing the good thing, but what is good and what is right don’t always align.  Sometimes doing a horrible act, that has a horrible price, is the truest thing to do.  Who understands that anymore?  Who wants to?

So Valhalla is empty, or if not, it has long been closed.  The shields that made up its walls are rusted, the bones that made its benches are brittle, and the spears that line the gates are dulled to the point of being mere spoons.  And it is filled with old men who have long lost the battle against the gods of old, and now just sit about trying to remember what it felt like to fight for something.  To fight for truth.  We are trying to make a world where there is no war and no fighting, where everyone gets along and weapons are just relics.  We are trying to shove out all the evil we can to make our lives a much easier place.  And in doing so, we have given up on Valhalla, and the warriors that served as our leaders.  We have given up on our heroes.