Monday, January 12, 2009

Incubator - Medea - Blood and Semen, Semen and Blood

Inevitably, when you’re rewriting a script, some losses cut deeper than others. Some stuff is easy to cut out. Some stuff you just hate to let go of.

In one of my misbegotten earlier drafts of this Medea project, where I was still trying to wedge a modern day plotline and characters in alongside those of the Ancient Greeks, there was a happy accident that sticks with me. Rewriting that sequence of overlap the other day, I finally had to strike it out and move on.

Jason and Medea are meeting for the first time.

Meanwhile, on stage at the same time, a modern day character is working a shift on an AIDS Hotline.

Medea is helping Jason outwit her own father so that Jason can claim the Golden Fleece. One of the strategies is to use an ointment which will make him invincible for a day. The ointment is extracted from a plant which sprung up in the ground where the blood of Prometheus fell. Prometheus, who brought the secret of fire to humankind, was punished by the gods for it by being chained to a rock. There, a hungry eagle pecked away at his innards. His innards continually regenerated, making it an unending sequence of torture. You’ve got to hand it to the gods, they don’t think small.

But just as no good deed goes unpunished, out of the bad must come some good. Where Prometheus’ blood fell to the ground, a plant is born. The plant provides temporary invincibility for humans to achieve supernatural tasks. While it won’t do Prometheus much good, it came in mighty handy for Jason, thanks to Medea.

Of course the audience knows, at least a little, what’s coming down the pike. Jason and Medea meeting and pledging their love to one another isn’t going to come to a pretty end. There will be betrayal, there will be death. There’s a lot of blood on the ground by the time they’re finished with each other.

Meanwhile, our AIDS Hotline friend is resting between calls, pondering methods of transmissibility. He says aloud, to no one but himself, 

“Blood and semen. Semen and blood.”

Even if disease weren’t a factor, no sex is safe.

Fun, sure. Intense, if you’re lucky. Safe, not a chance.

Divorcing sex from emotion was never something I was particularly good at doing. If there’s no emotion involved, it’s just exercise.

Don’t get me wrong. I like exercise.

But that’s what I got a gym membership for.

There’s a Warren Zevon song that I keep thinking about in relation to these two mythological lovers. Of course, it’s a big old anachronism in many ways, but Warren always had a way of cutting through to the heart of the matter. Sometimes it’s sweet. Sometimes it’s not...

“You can screw everybody I’ve ever known
But I still won’t talk to you on the phone
It’s a hopeless cause
There’s no use crying
And I can die
You can die
We can die trying
Thanks anyway
There’s no use hanging around
While you try to put the finishing touches on me”

Juxtaposition. Point of view. Foreshadowing.

Two people meet. Their lives are never the same.

“Blood and semen. Semen and blood.”

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