by Hannah and Ian Keildson
Isis – Act One Scene One - Mother
Character and Costume
The sitting room is lit cosily by the table lamp on stage and the soft orange glow of a street light shining in through the window of the exterior door. The Mother Doll is sitting on the sofa and the Father Doll is sitting on the arm chair. There is a newspaper lying on the coffee table.
A dim spot light is shining on the dressing table on top of the pyramid. Sitting at the dressing table is ISIS , naked, with her back to the audience. She is gazing into the mirror, elbows on table, chin in hands. The mirror shows a VIDEO of a starry night sky seen as if floating in space.
The stage lights up softly as LITTLE SISTER enters through the door at stage left. She sees the dolls and taking them up, acts out a scene where mother doll nags, father doll ignores, mother nags again, father shouts, mother cries, father kisses mother and a baby doll is born from under mother's skirts, still attatched to the mother doll by a luminous, red umbilical cord. The mother doll rocks the baby doll in her arms while father looks on indulgently.
While the dolls are argueing and kissing, the VIDEO changes to wide expanses of ocean and then, when the baby doll is born, it moves to the raw wild Earth, vast forests, untamed moorland and rugged mountain ranges.
At the moment the baby doll is born, ISIS reaches down and sets the needle to the record on the grammaphone. A new moon rises above the mountains in the VIDEO .
LITTLE SISTER drops the dolls in fright on the floor between the chair and sofa and runs to hide behind the sofa as MOTHER enters through the doorway at stage right. As she enters the table lamps are dimmed a little and a bright white light floods in through the door at stage right, sillouetting Mother. Her face is also lit in such a way as to cast her face in an eery and forboding light.
She walks slowly towards the dining table ceremoniously holding before her a folded white table cloth as a soldier would carry a folded flag at a military funeral.
As she proceeds ISIS rises slowly from her revery and takes a white slip from the dressing table drawer. When Mother reaches the table she shakes out the cloth, making it billow like a cloud, and spreads it over the surface of the table. As she does so, Isis pulls the slip over her head. In the VIDEO white industrial smoke passes across the moon.
MOTHER ends the table cloth ritual with a slow, deliberate rendition of the "I have laboured....." gesture. The clock chimes and starts to tick. LITTLE SISTER creeps out from behind the sofa and pounces on her mother to surprise her. The eery lighting goes out abruptly and full lights come up on the sitting room. Mother performs the "Get out from under my feet" gesture and sends Little Sister out to the kitchen (door stage right). Mother goes to the sideboard, wrenches open a drawer and grabs a fist full of cutlery. She lays it ceremoniously on the dining table, does her "Thankyou Mrs Jones...." gesture and then sweeps the whole lot up again. She goes back to the sideboard, performing "Get out from under my feet" on the way, and gets out the very best cutlery and lays it, finishing with the "I have laboured....." gesture.
While Mother is setting the dining table, ISIS sits down again at the dressing table and anxiously brushes her hair. She pins it up with an assortment of hair clips, then takes it down, then plaits it, then undoes it and so on, mirroring her mother's indecision. The VIDEO during this section shows footage of forests being felled and wild land being ploughed with an emphasis on the hard sharp metal of plough blades and chain saws
MOTHER , changing from irritable efficiency to dreamy pathos, wanders across the room admiring her creation of irreproachable taste. When she reaches the cluster of family photographs hanging at the left of the stage, she takes hold of a picture of Isis and does her "But I do worry about you so" gesture over it. She drifts about the room in a nostalgic revery which is only broken when she catches her foot on the dolls which Little Sister dropped on the floor in front of the sofa, the baby doll still hanging out from beneath the mother doll's skirts. Mother does "God forbid that a child of mine....." as LITTLE SISTER comes back into the room through the door, stage right, riding an imaginary horse. Mother flings the dolls at her angrily and sends her to put them away. Little Sister exits stage right with dolls.
ISIS , during Mother's daydream, goes back to gazing into the mirror. The VIDEO shows fields of corn rippling under a blue summer's sky throughout this section.
MOTHER , now back in efficiency mode, goes back to the sideboard and takes out some plates which she then proceeds to set on the dining table. Meanwhile LITTLE SISTER returns carrying plates of fairy cakes and sandwiches which she places on the sideboard. She goes back and forth to the kitchen fetching party food with several lapses of concentration when she drifts off across the room, riding her horse or doing unwealdy handstands, while Mother puts out glasses, serviettes, and arranges the plates of food on the table. Mother changes her mind about the positioning of the food often, punctuating her deliberations with frequent "Get out from under my feet" gestures, aimed at the misbehaving Little Sister or, when she's out of the room, at a naughty little figment of her imagination. At the end of this flurry of activity, Mother sends Little Sister to her room to get changed through the door, stage left, and then returns to the table to survey her handywork. She suddenly remembers the birthday cake, fetches it from the side board and places it on the table, moving it this way and that. She finally decides on the centre of the table, and finishes this section with a ceremonious "I have laboured...." and then a "Thankyou Mrs Jones.That's very nice of you to say so" gesture. She takes off her apron with a tired air and gazes with satisfaction at the table.
ISIS , during this third sequence of Mother's solo, goes back to nervously brushing her hair, pinning. plaiting and clipping, constantly undoing each style as she achieves it. By the time her mother has finished laying the table and Isis goes back to gazing in the mirror, her hair is a chaos of half styles. The VIDEO during this section shows the corn field being reaped by vicious combine harvesters until all that is left by the end is a field of brown stubble covered in frost, backed by a leaden winter's sky.