Written by PP Rega
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Saturday, 5 February 2011

image for ...According to Mark:  A Play in Four Acts of the Apostles

Dramatis Personae

Mark: A writer

Zebedee: A father.

James & John: Joined at the hip.

Thaddeus: Not sure.

Simon…uh…Peter…uh…Simon: Never mind.


Act 1 of the Apostles

Mark: Salutations, Zebedee, father of James and John.

Zebedee: Shalom, boychik.

Mark: How are you these days?

Zebedee: What can one say? He comes. He goes. He comes again. And then He goes. But we must have faith and hope.

Mark: For all of us. By the way, do you know where I can find Simon?

Zebedee: Not really, Mark. He has been keeping a low profile lately.

Mark: I know. But he's sent word that he wanted to see me. I think it's about my story on The Master.

Zebedee: Well, you can ask my sons, James and John. They're down by the lake.

Mark: Thank you, Zebedee. Shalom.

Zebedee: Ciao.


Act 2 of the Apostles

Mark: James, John!

James & John: Hail, Mark. We're the sons of Zebedee.

Mark (sighs): I know, I know.

James & John: How are you?

Mark: I'm fine. A little nervous, but fine.

James & John: We're all a bit nervous these days now that He has left us.

Mark: You can say that again. But that's not what's bothering me right now.

James & John: Confess. We can handle that now. The Master said so.

Mark: I'm just a bit anxious right now. I've written the story of The Master and I sent it to Simon over three months ago. Now, I've received word he wants to see me. Know why?

James & John: No idea.

Mark: Well, do you know where he is?

James & John: I think he's in that one-room flat with the indoor plumbing.

Mark: He moved?

James & John: Yes.

Mark: Where this time?

James & John: Above the Holy Knish Café.

Mark: Ah! Know it well. Excellent latkes. Thank you.

James & John: You are most welcome, Mark. Are you seeking a publisher?

Mark: For what?

James & John: Your manuscript.

Mark: No, I think not. It can get quite expensive.

James & John: Try the self-publishing route. I hear that is most inexpensive. If Simon won't help you, Schuster might.

Mark: That is an idea, but I still require Simon's imprimatur.

James & John: Simon's what?

Mark: Imprimatur.

James & John: Uh…Mark.

Mark: Yes?

James & John: I wouldn't use "imprimatur" if I were you.

Mark: Why not?

James & John: It's so Roman. Some people might think you a collaborator.

Mark: You're right! I have to be careful. I have no desire to be stoned.

James & John: At least not that kind of "stoned," aye, Mark?

Mark (smiling): You've got that right. Thanks.

James & John: No problem.

Mark: What's the Yiddish equivalent of 'imprimatur'?

James & John: Search me. I'm just a poor fisherman.

Mark: I'll figure out another way to say it. Nevertheless, I do require his "OK".

James & John: I understand. He can get quite dogmatic at times. Why do you think they call him "Pope"? But you better hurry.

Mark: Why?

James & John: I've been hearing rumors that Matthew is writing the same thing.

Mark: That toll collector!

James & John: Yep. And you know, he has the resources to get his published. Both Simon & Schuster are interested.

Mark: I've heard rumors about misappropriation of funds.

James & John: No kidding, bubbeleh. How do you think he financed that condo overlooking Galilee?

Mark: Damn. I better move quickly then.

James & John: Anyway, may I read it once Simon approves?

Mark: Of course, boys. You're in it.

James & John: We are?

Mark: Of course. You're one of the Twelve.

James & John: Twelve what?


Act 3 of the Apostles

Thaddeus: Halt! Who goes there?

Mark: It is I, Thad. Mark.

Thaddeus: Mark who?

Mark: Mark Mark.

Thaddeus: Oh, that Mark.

Mark advances into view.

Mark: Jeesh, Thad. We've only been together night and day for the past three years!

Thaddeus: We can't be too careful nowadays, you know.

Mark (finally noticing Thaddeus' pseudo-Roman garb): And what is this? A helmet? And you're carrying a spear?

Thaddeus: Like them? How do I look?

Mark: Where did you get them?

Thaddeus: I tripped over some meshugeh centurion. He was lying in the gutter slurring something about a robe and having a guilty conscience.

Mark: OK, so now I know how you got them, but why are you wearing them?

Thaddeus: I've retired from fishing. I'm in the guard business.

Mark: We're all in the "God" business now, Thad.

Thaddeus: Not "God". Guard. I'm on guard.

Mark: On guard?

Thaddeus (slyly): I'm protecting Simon.

Mark: Protecting Simon? He only needs His protection (pointing to heaven). That's all that matters.

Thaddeus: Mark, I couldn't agree with you more. But he's getting a little paranoid. Having nightmares. Nightmares of being crucified upside down. Can you imagine?

Mark: Where is he?

Thaddeus: Upstairs.

Mark: Well, I need to see him.

Thaddeus: What's the password?

Mark: Password?

Thaddeus: Password. Strict orders. Nobody goes up without the correct password.

Mark: Come on, Thad. You know me.

Thaddeus: Sorry. No password, no admittance. You know the boss. His orders.

Mark: But I don't know the password.

Thaddeus: Sure you do. You just don't know you know. Just say whatever pops into your mind. You'll get it.

Mark: Trinity?

Thaddeus: Nope.

Mark: Golgotha?

Thaddeus: Uh-uh.

Mark: Transfiguration?

Thaddeus: Close, but no cigar.

Mark: I give up.

Thaddeus: No, no, Mark. Don't be that way. You're on the right track. Here. Rub the brush on my helmet for good luck.

Mark: Crucifix?

Thaddeus: No, but keep pitching.

Mark: Crown of thorns?

Thaddeus: Sorry.

Mark (pissed and exasperated): JESUS CHRIST!!!

Thaddeus: Great! Go right on up.


Act 4 of the Apostles

Mark: Simon?

Simon/Peter (turning from the window): Mark?

Mark: May I enter?

Simon/Peter: Mark. Please. Come hither.

Mark: Thank you.

Simon/Peter: Come, take this pillow. Rest. It's goose.

Mark (settling in): Oh, yes. That's nice. I've had a long trip.

Simon/Peter: How did you get up here?

Mark: Thaddeus.

Simon/Peter: Thaddeus let you pass?

Mark: Only after I gave the correct password.

Simon/Peter: That's good. I did have my doubts about him. I wondered if he could do the job. He's so trusting.

Mark: No, he did his job.

Simon/Peter: I'm glad of that. As you probably divined, he wasn't my first choice. I wanted to hire Barabbas, but I couldn't find him. Heard he was on a book tour up in Asia Minor.

Mark: Book tour?

Simon/Peter: "Pilate & Me" or "Wednesdays with Pontius." Something like that. It keeps changing every time Schuster gets his hands on it.

Mark: Everybody is getting into the act.

Simon/Peter: That reminds me about why I called you. First, would you like something? Food? Water?

Mark: Hmmm…water would be nice.

Simon/Peter (pouring from a flagon into a cup): Here you go.

Mark (after tasting his drink): This is…

Simon/Peter: Yes?

Mark (somewhat surprised): Water.

Simon/Peter: What did you expect? Wine?

Mark: I kinda thought…maybe…

Simon/Peter: I haven't tried that yet.

Enter Thaddeus

Thaddeus: Peter, a message just came for you.

Simon/Peter: Thank you, Thaddeus. (Unrolls papyrus. Reads. Then audible sigh.) Thaddeus.

Thaddeus: Yes, Peter?

Simon/Peter: Take a parchment.

Thaddeus methodically exhumes a roll of papyrus from under his robe, as well as a goose quill and a small, clay inkwell.

Thaddeus: Ready.

Simon/Peter (to Thaddeus): Good. (Dictating a letter) Our dear sister, Martha, it grieves us greatly reading your papyrus about the death of your brother, Lazarus… (huffily) again. We are keeping you and Mary in our prayers, knowing that Lazarus will be forever with our Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven. PS: The boys send their condolences. (To Thaddeus) Got it all?

Thaddeus (repeating): "…their condolences." Got it. Would you like to sign it?

Simon/Peter: That's fine. You may sign for me. Peter I.

Thaddeus: Peter won? What did you win?

Simon/Peter: No, Thaddeus. Peter One. O-N-E. But don't spell out "one". Just "Peter" and then the Roman numeral for "one".

Thaddeus: You mean like "I"?

Simon/Peter: Now you have it, bubelah.

Mark: You think it's such a good idea to write the Roman equivalent for "one"?

Simon/Peter: Why not?

Mark: It's so…Roman!

Simon/Peter: It adds a little cachet. Go ahead, Thaddeus. Send it off.

Thaddeus exits.

Simon/Peter (to Mark): Comfy?

Mark: Very.

Simon/Peter: Now, let me see. I asked you to come, didn't I?

Mark: Yes, you did, Simon.

Simon/Peter: Good. I thought so…Mark?

Mark: Yes, Simon?

Simon/Peter: Uh…I hate to be a stickler on this, but I'd appreciate it if you called me "Peter" from now on.

Mark: Peter?

Simon/Peter: Yes. Peter. It's less confusing this way. People think there are two people.

Mark: But I thought that name was for official occasions like synods, retreats, and ecumenical councils.

Simon/Peter: No, Mark. I have to disagree with you there. It has to be for always. You can see that, can't you? It's even in your book. He gave me that name. "You are Peter and…"

Mark: Yes, yes "…and on this Rock I will build my Church." I know. I was there.

Simon/Peter: Right. There were no qualifiers. It's not like he said, "You're Peter on Sundays and holidays" or "During Mass".

Mark: Mass?

Simon/Peter: I'm not sure about that one yet. Anyway, would you mind, Mark?

Mark: No, Si…Peter. Not at all.

Simon/Peter: Excellent. We're in agreement. Now, let's get back to the reason I asked you to come. Your manuscript.

Mark: Yes…Peter. My manuscript. What did you think?

Simon/Peter: Overall I'd say this is an extraordinary…

Thaddeus enters with another note.

Thaddeus: Another letter from Martha, Peter.

Simon/Peter: Excuse me, Mark. Interruptions, interruptions, interruptions…all day long.

Peter begins scanning papyrus as Mark responds.

Mark: No, Peter. Go ahead. She's part of the flock.

Peter grunts disapprovingly.

Simon/Peter (clearly annoyed now): Thaddeus, take a parchment… "My dear Martha, We understand how sad and grieved you are. Be assured, you and Mary are in Our prayers. However, We cannot accede to raise Lazarus from the dead. A second time! Even Christ did it only once! There just isn't any precedent for that. How would it look? Besides, there really is no time to sort this out. We have those pesky Romans. And the Sadducees and Pharisees are no fun right now. And this new fellow, Saul. Becoming a real pain, let Us tell you. And finally, the Gentiles. They're looking to join us now. What do you do? Circumcise? Don't circumcise? Give them a pass? A very tricky question, as you can see. We're afraid, Martha, by the time We get around to your brother he wouldn't be in, shall We say, a very presentable state. What with the decay and all…even the lepers will be throwing stones at him. So, dearest Martha, in closing, We hope you accept Our decision. Remember, 'Whatever is bound on earth is bound in Heaven.' Grievingly yours…" (To Thaddeus) Sign it as before, please, Thaddeus.

Thaddeus (showing Peter the papyrus): Like this?

Simon/Peter: Perfect.

Exit Thaddeus.

Simon/Peter: Now, where were we?

Mark: My book? About The Master?

Simon/Peter: Exactly. As I was saying, you've created an extraordinary work here, Mark. You've captured Him. The parables. The Son of Man. The Son of God. His very Essence. It's all there.

Mark (surprised at the exuberance): Why, thank you, Peter. You humble me.

Simon/Peter: Not at all. Not at all.

Mark: Then I can have your imprimatur?

Simon/Peter: My what?

Mark: Imprimatur. Your written approval so I can get it published and distributed. It will only be credible when you give it your complete approval and it's documented on the front.

Simon/Peter: Oh, I see. Well, let's not get too over-enthused, shall we?

Mark: But you said…

Simon/Peter: I know what I said, Mark. But there are a couple of points that we need to look at in closer detail.

Mark: Such as…?

Simon/Peter (turning the pages): Let me see …This part, here, where you wrote that I denied Him three times.

Mark: But you did.

Simon/Peter (jumping): And this use of the word "cock".

Mark: What about "cock"?

Simon/Peter: Do you really think it's appropriate?

Mark: Sure. When it's in proper context.

Simon/Peter: Well, I don't want to quibble over word choice.

Mark: Otherwise, it won't scan.

Simon/Peter: Come again?

Mark: "Cock" scans. "Rooster" doesn't. It's a question of artistic expression.

Simon/Peter: Well, just having "Peter" and "cock" in the same story may cause some to look for a hidden meaning. That's all I'm saying.

Mark: Peter, I really think you're analyzing this a little too much.

Simon/Peter: Maybe you're right. Maybe so. But let's get back to my main concern…the denial.

Mark: Your denial.

Simon/Peter (sheepishly): My denial.

Mark: Your three denials.

Simon/Peter (annoyed): Alright. Alright. Where I denied Him three times.

Mark: What about it?

Simon/Peter: Do you really think that should be in the book?

Mark: But it happened.

Simon/Peter: I know it happened.

Mark: It's all over town.

Simon/Peter: I know it's all over town…Look, Mark…You don't have to be so precise. You can…uh… …manipulate the story and still keep the basic truth.

Mark: Gee, Peter. I don't know…

Simon/Peter: Sure you can. Make it like a parable - a seed, an old lady at the well…I know - a goatherd who denied his goat! It will still inspire.

Mark: You forget, Peter, this has to be a true, firsthand, historical account about our Lord. We can't obfuscate.

Simon/Peter (ignorant): Obfuscate?

Mark: Latin. Sorry. Generations need to know about Him and us and believe it's true. So I'm compelled to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Simon/Peter: The what?

Mark: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Simon/Peter: Hmmm…you have a way with phrases…But…

Mark: Peter, please. It has to be the way I wrote it. Not only is it true, but it crystallizes what He taught. To sin and yet, to forgive. No matter how reprehensible the sin is. And yours was pretty reprehensible.

Simon/Peter: Enough. Please.

Mark: It's all about redemption. For you. For all of us.

Simon/Peter: You think?

Mark: I know. Look, you screwed up. Not once…

Simon/Peter: OK…

Mark: …but three times…

Simon/Peter: OK!

Mark: And what did you do?

Simon/Peter: Wept bitterly.

Mark: Yes, Peter. You wept bitterly. You didn't go hang yourself like you-know-who. You asked for and you received forgiveness. Why, you're the perfect metaphor for what it means to be human and still able to attain glory in God's Kingdom.

Simon/Peter (questioning): I don't know…

Mark: Look, Peter…I didn't mention the time you went walking on the waters and then you had some doubts and then you started to drown and He had to save your toches. Did I?

Simon/Peter (unsure where this is heading): No-o-o…

Mark: No, I didn't. And I didn't mentioning you sleeping in Gethsemane when He asked you to stay awake with Him. Did I?

Simon/Peter: I wasn't the only one.

Mark: No, but I didn't name names, did I? I could have, but I didn't. So work with me on this, can't you?

Simon/Peter: OK, Mark. OK. I'm not going to censor your manuscript. The future of this Movement is about Truth, God's Truth. Not censorship. Now and forever, amen.

Mark: Wonderful, Peter. I knew you would see the light… as usual. He placed this "Movement" in good hands.

Simon/Peter: Thank you, Mark. I hope. But remember one thing…

Mark: What's that?

Simon/Peter: At some point, you're going to pass out of this world and enter the next one.

Mark: So?

Simon/Peter: I have the Keys to the Kingdom.

Thaddeus enters as Mark looks a little unsure of himself.

Thaddeus: Peter?

Simon/Peter: Yes, Thaddeus.

Thaddeus: Matthew's here. He has a manuscript he wants to show you.

Exeunt.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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