Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lectures in Time: the sun was mad by Erin Browne

the sun was mad is the 2nd in a series of sci-fi plays I wrote when I was about 19-20 years old. It comes after Rhymes and is a leap to a distant future, but comes before Nicole and Winter which is the final play in the series. 

This play deals with themes of God, poetry, brother and sister relationships, and communicating in a world of technology - some of my 
recurrent ideas for exploration - but to such an extreme that they are crystallized in a world of snow. Not only are Moses and Mud brother and sister but they are twins. Not only is there talk of God but a young Jesus is a character. Not only is poetry a part of the twin's world - it is their world and they are ostracized from the community because of it. The bible butts up against the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, just as it did in my own childhood.  

I do love this play and I would love to see someone take it on and play with it. It is a world of children and hopefully contains some of the magical nature of children, but also should contain all the depth of learning to understand a world and belief system that children are dropped into whether it is today/right now or a time in the horrible future when weather and cancer have gone awry.  
I hope you enjoy reading it, and if you do let me know at

the sun was mad 

{part two} 

[summer 1999 version] 

Caitlin, 10 years old 
Moses, 10 years old 
Mud, 10 years old 
Jesus, 10 years old 
The Old Woman 
a fox 
seven eight-year-olds (including the leader) 
(Moses and Mud are twins) 

(Their is a night blizzard and behind the blizzard there is a huge grey cement wall that can barely 
be seen. In the wall, about four feet from the ground is a 1'x1' window with a jumping bluish t.v. 
light that cuts through the dark blizzard. Over the loud blizzard and the soft murmur of a t.v. that 
isn't being watched is the sound of Moses and Mud playing a word game.)

Moses- Hope 

Mud- Mope 

Moses- Cloud 

Mud- Proud 


Moses- Please 

Mud- Knees 

Moses- Stop 

Mud- Mop 

Moses- Rhyming 

Mud- Timing 

Moses- And 

Mud- Bland 

Moses- Talk 

Mud- Walk 

Moses- To 

Mud- You 

Moses- Me 

Mud- We 

Moses- Like 

Mud- Hike

Moses- Before 

Mud- Evermore 

Moses- My 

Mud- Why 

Moses- Twin 

Mud- Sin 


Mud- Moses 

Moses- Mud 


Scene one: 
(The Old Woman in a multicolored scarf, many sweaters, a long wool skirt, and snowshoes is 
standing in a slow dark snow storm. She is planting seeds in the snow, digging a little hole, 
dropping a seed in, covering it, and moving to the next. She spaces them evenly.) 

Old Woman- My favorite thing to eat is tortillas. I like them with honey. I like them with lemon 
and salt. I like corn or flour tortillas. Soft, crisp, warm. Flour. Corn. I like them dripping with 
salsa or sugar and butter. Butter melting onto my hands because the tortillas are so warm and 
fresh that you can taste the fire that cooked them. 
Heat. No heat anymore. No corn or wheat either. No meal, no grain. Not since the sun left. 
Once a man got mad at the sun. He yelled bitter words at it. The sun's feelings were hurt. The sun
was mad. So the sun went away. 
The man got over his anger but was too proud to apologize. The man died in his bed, very cold, 
having never said he was sorry. The sun still hasn't come back. Maybe it died too. 
With no sun, there is no corn, no wheat, and no tortillas. Only snow. Just the feeling that you are 
never warm enough. 


Scene two: expulsion 
(Moses and Mud enter trudging through thick snow with their heads down. It is dark but it is not 
snowing. They are wearing matching blue puffy one-piece snowsuits. Moses has a pink scarf with 
her name knitted into it and Mud has a blue scarf with his name. Moses is dragging a wooden sled 
with things packed on it. Caitlin follows them solemnly on stage. She is wearing a wool coat, 
jeans lined with flannel turned up over winter boots, and a knit hat with ear flaps and a tassel. 
Mud trips a little and Caitlin reaches to help him. Moses runs over before Caitlin can touch Mud 
and shoves her down in the snow. Moses helps Mud up. Caitlin begins her rehearsed speech as 
she stands up.) 

Caitlin- I will leave you here. You know that you aren't welcome to come back to the compound. 
There is another compound twenty-five miles away in Savannah. They are a little older there and 
maybe they can deal with your stories and your songs. Your talk about the sun... The television 
that I have given you should keep you fine until you are there. Call me when you get there. But as 
the leader of the Hilton Head compound I can't allow you- 

(Moses slaps Caitlin. Caitlin looks down.) 

Caitlin- I'm sorry Moses. If it was up to me.. But there was a vote. Mud and you, you scare them. 
Goodbye Mud. 

(Caitlin hugs Mud, Moses keeps a watchful eye.)

Mud- Three little kittens, They lost their mittens, And they began to cry- 

Moses- Shut up Mud! 

Caitlin- Just go to Savannah for a year. Then maybe we will vote again. Then we will be ready. 
Goodbye Moses. 

(Caitlin walks away. Moses and Mud stand still for a while then Moses makes a frantic snowball 
and throws it towards Caitlin. 

Scene three: 
(Mud walks on a moonlit snowbank making a snowman with mittened hands. Moses sits upstage 
with her back to him by their sled. Mud is talking to himself.) 

Mud- Whether the weather be fine, 
Or whether the weather be not, 
Whether the weather be cold, 
Or whether the weather be hot, 
We'll weather the weather, 
Whatever the weather, 
Whether we like it or not.


Scene four: meeting 
(Moses and Mud walk on trying desperately to walk through the snow that their feet keep 
drowning in. Mud pulls the sled. It is dark. A little snow is falling.) 

Moses and Mud (singing together) A penny for a spool of thread, a penny for a needle. That's the 
way the money went. Pop goes the weasel. 

Moses- Wait, Mud, are we lost? I think that we are. 

(Jesus enters from the other side. He is wearing, a sweatshirt, jeans, and sandals but his feet don't 
sink into the snow like the twins. He glows a little like a small light bulb.) 

Jesus-  I have found you. 

Moses- (blocking Mud) Who are you? 

Jesus- Jesus. 

Moses- Where are you from? 

Jesus- Heaven. 

Moses- I've never heard of Heaven. 

Jesus- It's far. 

Moses- We are just moving, we won't hurt you. We don't want anything from you. 

Jesus- I won't hurt you either. 

Moses- Good. 

Jesus- Doesn't he talk?

Mud- Ring around the rosie, 
pocket full of posies 
Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down. 

Jesus- If all the world were paper, 
And all the sea were ink, 
If all the trees 
Were bread and cheese, 
What should we have to drink? 

Moses- Where did you learn that? 

Jesus- I know just about everything. 

Moses- How? 

Jesus- I'm the Son of God. 

Moses- Please, my parents were retro-biblical too but I don't believe that stuff. 

Jesus- No really, I'm the Messiah. 

Moses- Everybody thinks they're the Messiah for a little while, it doesn't mean it's true. 

Jesus- Look. 

(Jesus puts his bare hands to the ground, a light rises from them, and a rose bush grows out of the 

Moses- Flowers! 

Jesus- Smell them. 

(Moses and Mud both lean in and smell a rose. As they back away the bush freezes and withers
back to nothing.) 

Jesus- My miracles don't last much anymore. 

Moses- Well if you're the son of God, use spelunking and rube in a sentence. 

Jesus- That's your miracle, the miracle of words. 

Moses- I wish other people believed that. 

Jesus- I used to believe that you would always find someone who would understand your 
miracles, until my father died. 

Moses- No one has a father anymore. 

Jesus- I guess not. 

Moses- Where are you going? 

Jesus- I don't know. 

Moses- You can travel with us. 

Jesus- Thanks but no thanks, the invitation was all I needed. You will be fine. 

Mud- It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring- 

Jesus- He went to bed and bumped his head and didn't wake up in the morning. 

Moses- But we will be safer in a pack. 

Jesus- Some people have to travel alone. Goodbye Moses and Mud. 

Moses- Goodbye 

Mud- Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day. 

(Moses and Mud trudge off together, both pulling the sled. Jesus wanders in the other direction. 

Scene five: 
(Caitlin stands in a moonlit snowstorm with violent winds and talks with violent arms movements 
as she does in her speeches to the voters in Savannah.) 

Caitlin- The moon breathes fire at night. 
There is no need to sleep now that there is no sun to set, the fluorescent lights in the compounds 
stay on all the time. Days disappear, until you're outside and the moon rises. Even without the 
sun. The moon has decided to pity us. 
I can't remember the sun really. I can remember a feeling, warmth. But not sun. So many people 
who remembered the sun died of sadness when it left. Those who died before the cancer took 
them all. 
My parents generation. The last generation who suffered from disease, that was the price they 
paid for the sun. They were weak. It is we, the children that are strong. I am stronger than my 
I still miss them a little. My mother used to sleep, her eyes closed like this, like she could see even 
with her eyes closed. Like she was seeing everything. 
When I miss her I shut off the t.v. that heats my room. Like nuclear suns that are lodged in the 
ceilings between the fluorescent lights. I'm always cold. We're always cold. But I let the cold 
creep into my veins, veins that have stronger blood than my mothers. I fall asleep too cold to feel 
anything. My mother's name was Penelope. 


Scene six: 
(A savage snow storm rips across the stage. Moses trips forward, trying desperately with her 
hands to clear a path in front of her eyes to see ahead of her. Of course this is in vain.) 

Moses- Mud! Mud! How could you have gotten lost? You were right here. I'm so stupid. How 
could I lose you? Mom told me to take care of you and what do I do? I lose you when I'm 
standing five feet from you. Mud! Mud! Mud!  Please Mud! Please! Just yell Mud! Please! 

(She stumbles off. There is a roar of wind. Mud comes on pulling a sled. He is shivering. He sings 
sadly to himself.) 

Mud- Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go. 
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh through the white and drifted snow, O! 
Over the river and through the woods, oh how the wind does blow. 
It stings the nose and bites the toes as over the ground we go. 

(Faintly in the background Mud can hear his sister calling his name. He picks up his pace and 
rushes off. A second later Moses stumbles on looking defeated.) 

Moses- Mud! Everything I have has been lost and found and then lost again. But Mud, Mud was 
always here. I don't even feel like a real person with out you here Mud. I feel like a person with 
only one lung, all I can take are shallow breaths. I can't scream loud enough, if only a little louder 
then you would be here. Everything is snow and you have become snow. It's my job to protect 
you but I have let you melt away. I was made to take care of you and I couldn't do that. Without 
you I'm a worthless person. Mud! Call out to me Mud! It's too cold, Mud!

(Moses wipes a tear from her cheek with her mitten and wanders off.)

(Mud wanders on and collapses onto the sled.) 

Mud- I'm near, I'm right here. Momo!

(He slumps over the sled. Blackout) 

Scene Seven: 
(The Old Woman sits petting a fox on a brownish leather-looking stoop.) 

Old Woman- Most people think that Babies Breath isn't even a real flower, that it's just there to 
support a rose, but I would give anything for a handful of Babies Breath right now. When I was 
younger I had this boyfriend. He was an architect. Silly, even though everything was already built, 
he went to school to be an architect. He was a dreamer. To tell you the truth I can't even 
remember his name. But I remember my parents hated him, used to not tell me when he called. I 
was always attracted to scientists and engineers, anything that wasn't a real job. I couldn't date 
a nice stable painter or poet or musician. This particular architect, though, he sent me a handful of 
Babies Breath every day. Fresh little white flowers like summer frost. Smelling sweet. I would rub 
them against my cheeks to feel those soft petals, softer than eyelashes in a butterfly kiss. I hardly 
ever got to see him because he was always in his room, that was when we all stopped leaving our 
houses very much, but everyday the Babies Breath would be on my windowsill. He had his little 
brother bring them, cause his little brother was immune. Then one day, there weren't any flowers. 
Then another day. I called his room but there was no answer. Finally, after months, I snuck out of 
the house and found his brother. The architect had died, the little boy said. Police had gone in and 
found him suffocated. Turns out, those Babies Breath that he grew in his room, were the only way 
he got oxygen and he died five days after he gave the last bunch to me. I never slept with him, and
I don't even remember his name. Just a silly architect. He is still the person that I have loved most 
in my entire life. 


Scene Eight: finding and sleeping 
(Moses trudges on but seems unable to see Mud who lies on stage over the sled nearly covered in 
snow. The air is clear and crisp. Mud whispers as Moses approaches and his breath rises like a 
cloud. Moses hardly hears him and looks down to where he is right next to her. She collapses 
onto him, hugging him.) 

Moses- Where have you been? You stupid, where did you get lost too? Where do you go when 
you aren't with me? 

Mud- Momo. 

Moses- What Mud? Are you o.k.? No rhyme? 

Mud- He went to bed and bumped his head and didn't wake up in the morning. 

Moses- No Mud. I'm tired too, but we can't fall asleep. Mud, we aren't supposed top fall asleep. 
We've never needed to before. Maybe we're just cold. 

(She searches through the sled of things and unties a portable type 14" t.v. and turns it on. It need 
no cord. The dark night fills with bright colors jumping like Northern Lights. The t.v. glows. 
Moses turns from the t.v. to find Mud nearly asleep in the snow. She picks him up by the front of 
his blue snowsuit. She shakes him.) 

Moses- People who sleep die, Mud. If you give up and sleep now, you might never wake up.
Mud! Here sit by the t.v. 

(She pulls him over to the t.v. and they stare at it.) 

Moses- Mud, I'll protect us. You don't worry. Nothing will ever happen to you while I'm here. 
I'll never lose you again. 

Mud (weakly)- Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly away home. Your house is on fire and your children all 
gone. All except one, and that's little Anne, for she crept under the frying pan. 


Scene nine: Moses 
(Moses is cradling Mud in her arms, they both sit in front of the t.v.) 

Moses- I know that you're partial to Mommy's favorites, but do you remember Daddy's? 
Daddy's come around to see us and Mommy would say, now Jim, I don't want you telling the 
kids those nightmare stories. That's probably the real reason they don't sleep. But they weren't 
bad rhymes, they weren't scary, they were beautiful. This one, by a grown man named Poe: 
It was many and many a year ago, 
In a kingdom by the sea 
That a maiden there lived whom you may know 
By the name of Annabel Lee; 
And this maiden she lived with no other thought 
Than to love and be loved by me.
I was a child and she was a child, 
In this kingdom by the sea, 
But we loved with a love that was more than love- 
I and my Annabel Lee- 
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven 
Coveted her and me. 
And this was the reason that, long ago, 
In this kingdom by the sea, 
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling 
My beautiful Annabel Lee; 
So that her highborn kinsmen came 
And bore her away from me, 
To shut her up in a sepulchre 
In this kingdom by the sea. 
The angels, not half so happy in heaven, 
Went envying her and me- 
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know, 
In this kingdom by the sea) 
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee. 
But our love it was stronger by far than the love 
Of those who were older than we- 
Of many far wiser than we- 
And neither the angels in heaven above, 
Nor the demons down under the sea, 
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul 
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: 
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams 
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes 
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee: 
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side 
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride, 
In the sepulchre there by the sea- 
In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

(Moses falls asleep over the already sleeping Mud. Blackout.)

Scene ten: forks 
(The Old Woman looks out a normal-sized window frame from a house made of rough leather.) 

Old Woman- The air has started smelling like a plastic fork caught at the bottom of a dishwasher. 
Burned plastic steam. I bet those children don't even know what that is. 

Scene eleven: the other kids 
(Moses and Mud lay sleeping with intertwined arms in front of the glowing t.v. A group of 
children walk past. There are about seven eight-year-olds, in snowshoes with handheld t.v.s 
hanging from elastic on the right arm of their multi-colored snowsuits. The t.v.s swing gently as 
they walk. One in the front notices Moses and Mud's t.v. and they all stop. The lead boy 
approaches the two sleepers and looks at them. He watches their breath. The other kids stay shyly 
away. The leader unzips a pocket and pulls out two strings of big blue beads. He lays them on the 
snow in front of Moses and Mud. Moses wakes up a little and then with a start is sitting 
up. Moses jumps to her feet and growls fiercely at the leader. The leader backs away and the 
children run off in a group afraid. Moses watches them for a while then turns her head down to 
see Mud and finds the beads. Moses picks them up and looks at them. Mud wakes up. Blackout.) 

Scene twelve: thunder 
(Moses and Mud are walking with their sled behind them. The t.v. is on top of the sled, still 
spewing light. They are both wearing the blue beads around their necks over their snowsuits. The 
sky is greyish and the night is extra dark.)

Moses- We better find that compound soon. 

Mud- One I love, two I love, 
Three I love, I say; 
Four I love with all my heart, 

Moses- God! Would you stop that already! 

Mud- Five I cast away! 

Moses- Don't start with me Mud! I'm not in the- 

(Thunder crashes in the distance.) 

Moses- Dry lightening. What should we do?! 

(Lightening snaps right down by them. Mud pushes them both to the ground. They lay there flat 
on their stomachs with their arms around each other. Thunder sounds and then instantly lightening 
connects to the t.v. on their sled and blows the screen forward out of it. Moses and Mud put their 
faces down. Blackout.) 

Scene thirteen: a fox 
(Moses and Mud are sitting on the snow in silence. In front of them is the burnt t.v. shell and 
shattered glass, they're staring at it. The sled is destroyed. Mud starts humming a song. Moses 
eventually joins in. A fox trots up to Mud and smells him, then trots over to Moses and smells her. 
The children are awestruck and stop humming.) 

Moses- What is it? 

Mud- Would you eat them in a box? Would you eat them with a fox?

Moses- A fox! 

(Mud pets the fox a little. Moses touches the fox a little cautiously and then begins to pet him too. 
But then out of nowhere the fox trots away again. Blackout.) 

Scene fourteen: falling asleep again 
(Moses and Mud drag onstage, this time without the sled. They are both tired and shivering. Their 
teeth chatter. Mud trips and falls and doesn't bother to get up. Moses tries to pick him up but 
ends up falling next to him.) 

Moses- When I was younger, I felt so tough all the time. I felt like, if anyone hurt you or me, I 
could kill them. I think that I'm getting old Mud. Say a rhyme for me, please.

(She lays her head down on the snow. Mud is quiet, he hugs his sister and pulls her up to sitting.) 

Moses- Here I'll start, you remember this one? Little boy blue, come blow your horn, The sheep's 
in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. Come on Mud. Where's the little boy who looks after the 
sheep? Under the haystack, fast asleep. Ready Mud? Will you wake him, no, not I, for if I do, he's 
sure to cry. Another Mud, please? 

(Mud shakes his head gently and hugs his sister again. Moses shivers.) 

Moses- I'm sleepy Mud. A rhyme to go to sleep to? 

Mud- I don't want to rhyme anymore Moses. 

Moses- Thank you. 

Mud- I love you Moses, you are a good sister. 

Moses- I love you too.

Mud- I'm so cold. (He shivers.) We are going to die aren't we? 

Moses- Yes, I think we are. 

(The two huddle into each other. Blackout.) 

[If the three playlets are preformed together, this is where the intermission is.] 

Scene fifteen: fire 
(The Old Woman enters a livingroom with Moses draped in her arms asleep. Mud, Jesus, Caitlin, 
the leader, and the fox all lay sleeping on blankets in front of a huge stone fireplace. Pictures are 
hanging all over the walls. The Old Woman sets Moses down gently next to her brother. Moses 
wakes up and looks at The Old Woman who still has her arms around her.) 

Moses- Hello. 

Old Woman- Good morning. 

Moses- What does that mean? 

Old Woman- I don't know anymore. 

(The others are waking up and sitting up slowly.) 

Mud- Where are we? 

Jesus- Here, with us. 

Caitlin- You're not rhyming. 

Moses- Caitlin.

(Moses hugs her.)

The leader- You're in the shoe with the fox. 

Old Woman- And me. 

Jesus- It's more of a boot don't you think? 

Moses- Fire. 

Caitlin- It's fantastic isn't it.  

Mud- It's warm. 

Moses- It's warm. 

Mud- Can we stay here? 

Old Woman- For as long as you want. 

Moses- If you can make fire, can you make me a bakery? All I ever wanted to be was a Baker. 

Caitlin- Can you make my mom come back? 

Jesus- And my dad? 

the leader- Can you make us happy? 

Old Woman- I can't do those things. But I can make you hot chocolate and listen to your stories 
and tell you mine. We can plant seeds and wait for the snow to end. 

Mud- That would make me happy. 

Moses- Me too. 

Jesus- Me too. 

Caitlin and the leader- Me too. 

Old Woman- It might take forever and now that you sleep you won't have that long. 

Mud- I can wait.


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