A Proposal for a WikiPlay
by Ellen Murphy
Ellen Murphy has lived in Bellingham for 15 years, is a retired licensed counselor, a writer and poet and lifelong activist for peace and justice. She identifies mainly as a grandmother.
Editor’s note: The following is a piece of creative writing designed to be satirical, comedic and ironic. The column does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whatcom Watch.
The curtain rises on a world-spanning morality play/tragedy complete with chorus, play-within-a-play, and deus-ex-machina. It has an indeterminate number of characters, an interactive cast and audience, and no speaking parts, save for the chorus, audience deliberation, and the judgment rendered by their spokesperson. The play is performed in mime.
The plot revolves around a delusionally narcissistic Empire which has been covertly and overtly thrashing about the world killing and maiming for the sake of peace and good order, and possibly some geological assets. It is currently played by a black guy who may or may not be in on it.
A genius programmer kid (possibly played by the young Ron Howard) escapes the car he’s been living in ever since his dad found out about his possible sexual orientation, by joining the Army, becoming a Private First Class Intel Specialist and receiving Top Security Clearance.
The Intel that he processes could be getting to him, and may have long since felt like agency in a cover-up, so he or someone else has already taken great risks by doing some asking and telling. He’s allegedly released a war-crime type video to a Secrets of the Empire Leaking and Intervention website. (At a shock point in the play, the backdrop is used for the screening of the tape, i.e. the play-within-the-play).
He instant-messages his agony to a seemingly sympathetic possible ex-amphetamine addict who was once convicted of hacking The New York Times. The addict, who may now prefer ecstasy to speed, may once have been court-restrained from his ex-girlfriend for tasering her, and has either tweaked his principles or is a government informant, turns the kid in, but not before the kid, or someone, shoots some 200,000 other pieces of evidence downloaded onto a Lady Gaga album, to the Lead Leaker, an itinerant Australian and the human manifestation of the prophetic albino animal phenomenon, who helps whistle blowers hack alibi systems and crack codes of denial from a bunker in Iceland, with the aid of one thousand nine-hundred and eighty-four people all named Emmanuel Goldstein. They leak the docs to some places, including the same New York Times.
The kid is arrested and the Empire has plans for him.
Again, this is an audience-participation play. The audience, and its machine-hoisted representative, play the deus-ex-machina.
The audience elects someone to ride out over the stage on a pulley to state conclusions, cast judgments and decide on sentences or treatment plans for everyone, but not before the audience has unraveled the tangled web. While it deliberates, a chorus of astonished Vietnam Era Activists and Dumbfounded Nice People who have been waiting for 35 years for the next generation to take over, chants, “So THAT’S where they’ve been; So THAT’s what they do!”
In its deliberations and decisions, the audience must abide by only four Rules:
Rule # 1: You can’t frame the Albino.
Rule # 2: You can’t scapegoat the Kid.
Rule # 3: You may get the Informer into Rehab, and
Rule # 4: You may have the Empire disarmed, de-toxified, and enrolled in an exchange program in Cochabamba or North Waziristan.
Oh, one more thing. It’s not really against the rules, but you can’t just blame the black guy.
To the chorus’s “Get started. Time is of the essence. Good luck!” the denouement begins.
Possible title for the play: “Son of Pogo: We Have Met the Empire and He is Us.”
Cast of Characters
A Narcissistic Empire: No speaking or miming part; character is illustrated in props.
Deus-Ex-Machina: In Greek tragedy, a mechanized god that comes out at the end of the play to decide on all the issues. In this play, the D.E.M. is the machine-transported “foreman” of the audience, who articulates their decisions from above the stage.
The Chorus: Groups of volunteers, to chant as needed.
The Kid: Specialist Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement for allegedly whistleblowing thousands of documents, including atrocities from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to the WikiLeaks web site. He is said to resemble the young Ron Howard.
The Albino: Julian Assange, the young co-founder of the pro-transparency web site WikiLeaks, is a fair-skinned Australian who, until he recently dyed his hair brown to escape harm, had whitish hair.
The Informer: Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker, maybe an addict and a man with a new conscience or a new wad of money. Might be seen on stage receiving and making phone calls.
The Emmanuel Goldsteins: In Orwell’s “1984,” the original Emmanuel Goldstein is the enemy of the state.
Albino Animal Prophecy: In 1994, the white buffalo, Miracle, was born in Janesville, Wisconsin. Since then, at least 15 to 20 more white buffalo have been born. Many indigenous spiritual leaders have visited them from all over the world as signs of prophecies being fulfilled.
Pogo: The legendary Walt Kelly comic strip. Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”