|Jan/Feb 2014 • Miscellaneous|
Image courtesy of British Library Photostream
Buster Keaton/Projectionist's Projection
Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle
Buster Keatons 1
Buster Keatons 2
Dreaming Girls 1
Dreaming Girls 2
Place: A Fevered Dream
Time: Night, The End of the 20th Century
Running Time: 90 minutes
Night. A bed raked upwards is on a stage with curtains.
There is a projectionist booth behind the bed with a projector and a (sometimes) sleeping projectionist's video image. At times he is visible and at times the window to his booth is a screen.
Stage right of the stage is a rocking chair with its back to the audience facing a door upstage. The door is painted white and is another projection surface. A small projector runs until the film unspools and is rewound to play once again.
Stage left there is a suspended screen/window with a curtain (a miniature stage of sorts) and a chair in which Freud sits facing profile towards the bed. Downstage of the stage are three rows of movie theater seats with an aisle. They are facing the stage with the backs of the chairs facing the audience.
Lights up on the Dreaming Girl in the bed. She watches the audience intently. She takes out a small book, How to Be a Detective (A la Sherlock Jr), and begins to read. Marion Harris' recording of "After You've Gone" begins to play.
The Girl grows sleepy and fitfully falls asleep. The song fades with the lights.
Lights up on Keaton watching the audience intently. He takes out a small book, How to Be a Detective (A la Sherlock Jr), and reads. Marion Harris' recording of "After You've Gone" begins to play. Gradually he grows sleepy and falls asleep against the projector. The Song fades as the light fades.
Lights up on the Dreaming Girl. She sits bolt upright in the bed.
Dreaming Girl: (Muttering) I am the 20th century, century, the end of the 20th century, you see.
She looks at the audience, quizzically. She takes out a magnifying glass, inspects the audience and then puts it away.
"After You've Gone" fades up. Dreaming Girl falls asleep again. Lights Fade.
Keaton: (Muttering while still asleep) I am the 20th century, century...
Keaton peels away from himself and looks at his video image. Take to the audience. Lights Fade.
Lights up on the full stage. Beckett is in the rocking chair and rocks with the metronome when it is playing.
Dreaming Girls and Keatons are seated in the movie theater seats.
Mother is standing by the Dreaming Girl stroking her hair and feeling her forehead for fever in time with the rocking chair. There is the sound of a metronome which then fades in with Mother singing "After You've Gone."
After you've gone and left me crying
After you've gone there's no denying,
You'll feel blue, you'll feel sad,
You'll miss the bestest pal you've ever had
There'll come a time, now don't forget it,
There'll come a time, when you'll regret it...
Marion Harris' recording of the song fades up.
Mother: (Continues) Once time upon the past she was and is and forgets the beginning and the stonefaced screen of it all that is the end of the 20th century disappearing behind a mound and a tree and a fall. Dear heart. Good night, darling.
Dreaming Girl: (Muttering, still asleep) Nighty night.
Mother kisses Dreaming Girl on the forehead. Song fades. Metronome ticks.
Keaton's Projection watches himself sleep.
Movie audience's heads tick-tock with the metronome.
Beckett continues rocking.
Mother waves to the girl as if saying goodbye from a disembarking ship. She backs her way to the door where film is being projected. It plays against her body. She is in the film and holding the Dreaming Girl when she was a baby. She extends the baby up above her head and lowers her until their noses touch.
Mother: Once upon a time there was you, the 20th century, in a fevered dream up until the end. Dear agony working through the what was missed and not seen and forgotten. Mourning. Until Morning bright. Nighty night.
Freud: (Clearing his throat and writing on his notepad) I am Sigmund Freud. I am the 20th century.
Freud takes out a small book, How to Be a Detective, reads intently then puts it away.
Freud: (Continues) Recall, a screen dream is a dream divided by something else...
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls gasp. Everything freezes.
Keaton looks at his image. Take to audience. Startled. Hiccup. Takes off hat and then puts it on again. Looks at his image. Startled. Take to audience. Hiccup. Shrug. Looks at his image. Startled. Take to the audience. Hiccup.
Beckett: (Rocking madly) Enough!
Beckett looks up. Keaton freezes.
Beckett: I am the 20th century. I am Samuel Beckett and I am known also as the the 20th century, century. Remember me.
The Dreaming Girls and Keatons point at Beckett.
Keaton: My memory...
Dreaming Girl: (Squirming) Mmmmm...
Keaton unfreezes. He presses his face against the projectionist "window" and spies the girl. He puts one arm through. Startled. Take to the audience.
Dreaming Girls and Keatons point at Keaton.
Keaton: (Climbing through the projectionist window) Atta boy.
Keaton works his way slowly to the Dreaming Girl. He looks at her carefully. She squirms.
Keaton is startled. He jumps back only to carefully inch forward once again. Take to the audience.
Keaton: (As if from a dream, continues) Aside from the days and nights that bob and weave and disassemble into parts that are really minutes, I am nothing more than what some of you might remember some times when you are remembering what might of been some day so long ago and that you can't see more than a hazy glimmer of something that looks somewhat and somehow better.
The metronome begins ticking again.
Dreaming Girls and Keatons point to Beckett.
Beckett: (continues) I am Samuel Beckett inside the 20th century. (Or is the 20th century inside me?)Some might say I go to a pier (or my mother's room) or gaze out into something but I don't know what that is yet and yet it is all that there is somehow and maybe.
"After I'm Gone" begins playing once again. Mother lip syncs to the song and dances. Beckett shakes his head "no" side to side.
Keaton: I gazed out. From a pier. Or was it my mother's room?
Keaton takes out his book and opens it. He takes out a magnifying glass, inspects the audience. Puts it and the book away.
Keaton: (Continues) Wasn't that words once written?
Beckett: Forbidden screens dreamed.
Mother: Forget and remember. Nighty-Night.
Dreaming Girl gasps and sits up. Dreaming Girls gasp and stand and point at Dreaming Girl.
Dreaming Girl: And oh what a time we had. Dancing in the 20th century.
Mother: We went round and round. And then we didn't. I forget what happened next...something dark and dank that remember that I don't remember...
Keaton peers into the movie theater seats. He sees the Keatons. He shades his eyes and squints at them. Keatons look around. They point at themselves and then point to Keaton.
"Improvisation No. 2" begins to play.
Keatons rush the stage as Keaton rushes to the movie seats. They miss one another. All look around confused then sad. Once again, same result. They creep toward one another in slow motion then greet one another like dogs sniffing one another's tails. Once satisfied, they open their arms wide and hug one another like long lost friends.
Through all of this Dreaming Girl stands on bed and points to Dreaming Girls.
Keaton and Keatons notice the girls. Shyness ensues.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls notice Keaton and Keatons. Dreaming Girls run toward the bed in fright. They huddle together.
Dreaming Girl is not afraid. She gazes at Keaton as if she is seeing herself in a mirror.
Keaton and the Dreaming Girl walk towards once another. The song ends and is replaced with the metronome. Freud writes in time. Beckett rocks.
Freud: A keyhole may be your own face refracted out of time and place and within another.
Beckett: I am Samuel Beckett.
Mother: I and not I am not.
The metronome stops ticking. The reverie is broken. Keaton turns, confused and suddenly old, towards Keatons. Dreaming Girl looks after him curiously.
Dreaming Girls scamper in all directions suddenly playing hide and seek. After some time Keaton and Keatons notice Dreaming Girls antics.
The beginning bridge to "Organ Grinder's Swing" plays as they grow increasingly excited to join in on the fun. The music cuts out. Freeze. Tableaus.
Keaton: Watch me chase this woman in a bathing suit and feel all of the sorrow such an act must have meant for a man living with his nose in the bottle and his face on the floor.
Keaton 1: But it's so funny!
Keaton 2: What a legend! What a sad not sad end.
Keaton and Keatons: Or is it?
"Bitter Sweet Samba" begins to play. Keaton and Keatons give chase to the Dreaming Girls who have shed their dresses revealing old-fashioned bathing suits.
After 30 seconds or so they grow tired and begin to dance instead (A la Beach Blanket Bingo).
Dreaming Girls put their dresses on again. The music cuts out. Freeze. Tableaus.
Dreaming Girl: I am a dreaming girl and I sleep and this little man comes to my dreams and he does the extraordinary extraordinarily clumsily, so much so that...
Dreaming Girl 1: I can't help but to cry...
Dreaming Girl 2: ...but what I really mean is that I laugh twice... and then let the tears roll down so pretty.
Video plays on the projection booth of girls crying. Close-ups of tears rolling down cheeks,lips, dropping to the floor. "After You've Gone" plays.
Mother lip syncs.
Everyone else rushes to the movie theater seats to watch. Applause when the film and song end.
Keaton works his way down the aisle (A la Sherlock Jr)and ends up beside the curtains of the stage.
Dreaming Girl stands, points, and giggles silently. The "screen" drops down from the frame of the stage curtains (it can be raised and lowered).
Keaton: I am Buster Keaton. The 20th century ghost that will haunt your dreams. Watch! I enter the screen.
He enters the screen. Metronome begins. The "screen" is raised.
But it is a stage. A stage within the screen.
Dreaming Girl's giggles turns into a scream. Mother hushes her.
Mother: There, there... shhhh... shhhh...
Freud: (Rising in amazement) What a haunted cave! What would Plato say?
Dreaming Girl: (Recovering, to the Dreaming Girls) Pooh. He couldn't laugh twice then let the tears roll down down so prettily down.
Beckett: Freud would stitch that flower together with a hundred remembrances past and make it still seem dirty and wrong.
Freud sits and begins to write furiously.
Beckett looks into the distance, stirred up inside.
A film plays against door of girls playing on the beach with a giant beach ball. They scream and run. Cut to Keaton chasing the air on the beach. Freud nodding and smoking a cigar. Beckett Rocking.
"Fatty" music begins. The door that the film is playing on creaks open. Everyone looks, leans in(except Beckett who continues his reverie) and watches a large figure emerge slowly from the door.
"Fatty" Arbuckle slips out from behind the door struggling mightily with a giant bag of popcorn. His hat keeps slipping and he tries to adjust it without losing his grip on the popcorn.
Eventually the Keatons can't contain their laughter. Soon after Dreaming Girls chime in.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: I am "Fatty" Arbuckle. (Hate that "name"). My fingernails can't stay clean.
Keaton: (Hand out to "Fatty" in greeting) My mind is out of limits.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Unknowingly walking past Keaton and greeting Keatons) How do you do? How do you do?
Mother shoos "Fatty" Arbuckle away and off the stage into the movie seats' aisle.
Mother: Shoo... Shoo... That's how I do. How do you do...
Dreaming Girl and Keaton: (Both facing the audience) My mind is out of time with the rest of these thoughts that come and go like a screen being flicked upon with light.
Freud: (Also to the audience) Remember that and your toes won't curl when you die.
"Fatty" Arbuckle makes his way to the movie seats. He squeezes himself into a seat and watches the action and eats popcorn.
Metronome sound begins. Rapping sound as if knuckles knocking on the projection booth to get attention.
Projectionist Projection: (Recorded) This isn't what you thought it would be.
Keaton: (Approaching the projectionist booth) Fine. Let me tell you about me. About me when I was three and downtrodden but still applauded for falling in a clump.
Video of a young child performing on a vaudeville stage. He falls over and over again. Shot of crowd laughing uproariously.
Keatons mimic the movements on the screen perfectly. They fall over and over again.
Dreaming Girls run to the audience and mimic the audience onscreen. They giggle instead of clap.
Keatons 1: (With swagger) I didn't break a bone.
Keatons 2: (Without swagger) And I did do drink and then I didn't do drink.
Freud: That isn't the real story.
The video is cut off. Rewound. Reworked into something strange, a nightmare of sorts.
Everyone watches. Disturbed.
Freud scribbles furiously.
Keaton and Dreaming Girl take out their magnifying glasses and watch closely.
Dreaming Girl hold up a screen. During her speech video is projected onto it.
Dreaming Girl: I am dreaming girl and I sleep and I dream and this little bubble shows a man with a hat falling in a heap and he gazes into the camera and instead of it revealing it hides death in such a way that it is hovering so close and yet you are so old, but wait and young, and both are all wrapped up together.
On the screen: girls falling asleep, sleeping, waking up. Above their heads is a cartoon bubble that has a the figure of Keaton and Keatons. Cut to an eye (A la Film), cut to a kitten sleeping with a bubble and Dreaming Girl dreaming within it. Mother paces, disturbed.
During the film, Dreaming Girl moves across the stage letting the projection travel with her.
Dreaming Girls: I loved something or someone and instead there are kittens.
"After You've Gone" plays.
Dreaming Girl 1 cries. Mother comforts her.
Dreaming Girl 2 attempts to sit in Beckett's lap but is shoved off.
The sequence repeats until "Fatty" Arbuckle crudely burps.
Everyone falls asleep except for Dreaming Girl and Keaton. They snore softly.
Dreaming Girl stands stage left with her head in the miniature "stage" screen.
A miniature projection of Keaton appears to be next to her head doing the same gestures as live Keaton does in the speech below.
Keaton lies in the bed. A miniature projection of Dreaming Girl appears on the screen above his head. The live Dreaming Girl does the same gestures in her speech below.
Keaton: My face is what you could call placid. Not Lake Placid. But placid. It would be accurate. Yet, still drum up memory time of the Winter Olympics where I was not an Olympian and not even alive, to the best of my recollection.
Sounds of sleep. Long pause.
Dreaming Girl: I am a dreaming girl and afraid of what jumble of limbs you collapse like a house collapsing around yourself and that jumble is a jumble if you remember it at all and...
Dreaming Girls wake with a start and a gasp. Frightening images (A la The Shining) flicker across the stage.
Discordant music plays (possibly from The Shining).
Dreaming Girls: (As if the Twins in The Shining) I can't sleep...
Dreaming Girls 1: ...for fear you will fall asleep in my mouth...
Dreaming Girls 2: ...and make me whisper spooky things that are entirely from a different screen... and a different place and a different time...
Dreaming Girls: ...with a boy named Danny...
Dreaming Girl 2: ...and I laugh for fear...
Dreaming Girl 1: ...and fall down like that funny man with a hat and no cane.
Dreaming Girls: (...you remember remember remember him right?)
Mother: You remember remember remember this dream, this 20th century dream and I'm not really here...
Dreaming Girls: (Screaming) No!! Come back!! Come back!
Beckett wags his finger at the girls.
Beckett: Enough! My mother sighed.
Freud: The ghost in the machine inhabits the space where you once were.
Dreaming Girl: Mother?! I'm a dreaming girl and I'm in a dream and I'll wake up and wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up... I'm asleep at the end of the 20th century. There is a stage within this screen and a screen within the stage and I don't know where I begin and end.
Silence. Dreaming Girl lies down in her bed. She sleeps.
Keaton and Keatons surround her to play cards (a.k.a Sunset Blvd).
Keaton: Once I played cards with the best of them. We had a time indeed a time indeed and it was a little insulting but fine to be loved. Ready for something close...
Video of close-ups of lips, eyes, etc. Keaton poses like Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd with a magnifying glass. Or close-d up.
Surveys the video. Satisfied. Indeed.
Keaton and Keatons make their way over to the projector. There is a reel with film. They examine the film, get tangled up, and find themselves stuck together.
Keaton and Keatons: Remember the cut...
Keatons 1: ...and the way that the splice ate the cut...
Keatons 2: ...and made something behind me get sillier and sillier...
Keaton: ...and I couldn't help but almost die...
Keaton and Keatons: ...and that is when they laugh the most.
Keatons: Watch this. These are my moves.
Keatons begin to perform a series of magic tricks. They, of course, are all botched in the execution.
Dreaming Girls: (Waving to get the Keatons' attention) Watch this. This is my sleep.
They promptly lie down and begin to snore prettily. Mother smoothes their hair and kisses their foreheads.
Projectionist's Projection and Dreaming Girl: (Projectionist's Projection recorded) My sleep looks like this.
Dreaming Girl and Projectionist's Projection sit bolt upright, then lie down, asleep once again, and snore, not so prettily.
Keaton watches everyone asleep and mimics Mother and kisses everyone on the forehead.
Mother tries to soothe Keaton (who ignores her).
Freud listens intently to the snoring writing things down on his notepad occasionally.
Beckett paces back and forth from the rocking chair to the door (A la Footfalls). "Fatty" Arbuckle stands and observes the stage. Eventually he turns and faces the audience.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Too loud, but deliberate) How many screen dreams are divided by the cost of your body's weight at two different times and spaces of time in a life multiplied by bad endings?
Beckett: (Still pacing, slowly) How many screen dreams do you say to do something or something so badly that it opens a wound that turns to a laugh and fights Dr. Freud to the death?
Freud: (Flourishing his pen like a sword) On guard!
All stop and watch Freud fight the air. Freud eventually forgets what he is doing and sits once again. Dreaming Girl approaches Keaton with curiosity. They examine one another with wonder.
Keaton: Did you see the one where I?
Keatons: (Joining him in examining Dreaming Girl) Where I?
Keaton: Where I remembered to lose my balance. Again and Again.
Keaton does a pratfall five times in a row.
No one responds.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Too loud) Did you see the one where I where I did this one god awful thing only to do another and another and then forget and didn't done do it after all?
The Dreaming Girls kick his shins and then run away and hide near Mother.
Dreaming Girl opens her book and reads closely.
Dreaming Girl: (Closing the book carefully) Are you dreaming me or am I dreaming you. Or am I awake?
Beckett: Asleep and awake, between the two--straddled. And enough.
Keatons 1: (Dangerously, with swagger) Then I'll chase this fresh cheeked harpy across the sand to the worst music you've ever heard ever.
"Bittersweet Samba" plays.
Keatons 1 chases Dreaming Girl.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) And then it will be good someday when the right ears hear it and I'm dead buried and still dead.
Beckett: (Echoing) Dead and buried and still dead...
Metronome ticks. "Larghetto" begins.
All hush. Flickering light on all the screens.
Keaton: Listen. This isn't the end of film and the 20th century—though it is—and all of that and it isn't even a screen I had in mind and instead of this or that or my love you have something blank like a screen—there, I said it—and my very face is as blank as a screen—'ol stoneface—at the end of the road.
Keaton: And this isn't what you expected it to be but there it is and should we love it anyway or squash it with a shoe then get hit by a whizzing car...
Whizzing car sound. Keaton jumps aside.
Keaton: (Continues) ...when others remember the rest of it when time moves on by like it moves on by.
Beckett: (Walking in slow motion) I am Samuel Beckett, I am Samuel Beckett. I am not she. Time moves on by and doesn't. The past infects the air and the present is all the agony there is and then nothing.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: You can say that again.
Freud: (Perfectly still. Starts slowly but speeds up) Remembering, repetition, and working through. Remembering, repetition and working through. Rememberingrepetitionandworkingthrough....
Keaton looks at the projectionist's projection. He imitates his double (A la Sherlock Jr).
Dreaming Girl goes into the movie theater seats and paces between the aisles as if she is on a balance beam.
Dreaming Girls play follow the leader with her.
Dreaming Girl: (To Keaton) I am a dreaming girl and I dreamed and dreamed partly that you were a thief (quite a thief!) and the opposite of a thief which in some peoples' language means detective.
Keaton opens his book and reads closely.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) Here are two more girls and one more man and one other who we won't describe at all.
"Fatty" Arbuckle glares at the screen.
Dreaming Girls squeal.
Keatons approach the projection cautiously. They watch Keaton and play follow the leader with him playing follow the leader with the projection.
Beckett: (Balancing his head on a surface (A la Happy Days)) They are several thousand hundred of what was and is and will never be and after they've gone...
Freud: (Writing) They don't blow their noses for nothing...
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Jumping up and down in the theater seats) Don't forget their asses when they fall down go boom!
Keaton and Keatons fall to the floor as if slipping on a banana peel.
Keaton and Keatons: (Rubbing their bottoms) Ouch it hurts.
Mother: Careful now... careful...
Dreaming Girl: Momma, I don't remember the way you stand with your hair let down and brush it two-hundred times before bed, I don't remember your smell like musty rose petals floating on a little puddle and I don't remember if I'm sleeping or waking or sleeping...
Mother: You might know or you might not.
Dreaming Girl: But am I the 20th century century?
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Ain't it the truth? Or is it?
Keaton: I'm not the one you should remember.
Dreaming Girl: But you're the one I remember when I'm not remembering.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Embracing Keatons) You were the one who made me laugh.
Dreaming Girls: You were the one who started something that then became this very thing. This fitful dream.
Dreaming Girls 1: I'm not really here.
Dreaming Girls 2: Nor I.
Keaton: (As if drunk, heaves) I'm sick.
Beckett: (Rocking) I'm weary.
Metronome begins. "After You've Gone" plays as if from a distance.
Dreaming Girl: (Crying) I am the dreaming girl who sleeps and dreams and breathes and doesn't remember you and wants out of this screened dream.
Mother: Oh, hush.
Keaton takes pity on the girl. Sits next to her in the movie theater seats. She sobs.
Dreaming Girl: Am I, I? Are you dreaming me or am I dreaming you?
Keatons: We don't know!
Keaton: Let's drink coffee together and something might happen.
Dreaming Girl: Okay!
They run to the stage and pretend to drink coffee, ever so daintily.
Keaton: (A la Twin Peaks) Damn good!
Beckett: That's another screen!
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Too loud) Oh, boo!
Dreaming Girl: (In terror) I scream!
Keaton and Dreaming Girls: This isn't that kind of a dream.
Dreaming Girl: (Suddenly flirtatious) Silly boy.
Keatons: Remember the flea circus?
Keaton nods yes. Then no. Then yes again. He begins the flea circus act (A la Charlie Chaplin in Limelight).
Keatons: That was another screen!
Keaton is crestfallen, mortified and skulks off the stage to slouch down in the movie theater seats.
Freud: Multiply that and subtract this and you have the history of the world in eight slices!
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Or eight bodies.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls: Or dreams.
Keaton and Beckett: Or eyes.
Keaton and Dreaming Girl: (Overlapping) Forget me not and that is something else entirely. I'm in you. No, I'm in you. In you. I am the 20th century.
Dreaming Girl: Kiss.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls pucker up.
Keaton and Keatons are flustered.
Freud writes furiously.
Beckett begins to pace again.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Biting his knuckles) Yowza, yowza.
Keaton: I'll chase you.
Dreaming Girls: Oh, okay.
Keaton: Like this.
Keaton, Dreaming Girls, and Keatons freeze.
Video of a chase. Keatons chasing Dreaming Girls, Keaton dancing, Dreaming girl looking confused, "Fatty" Arbuckle getting knocked over while eating a large pastry.
Keatons: Just like this.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Yeah.
Freud and Beckett: Watch them go.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) It's like a movie that isn't a movie and happens on a stage that isn't a stage and instead is a screen.
Dreaming Girl: Oh, that is something else entirely.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Have you taken off your clothes?
Mother: No, no.
Dreaming Girls: Not yet.
Freud: But your shirt is over there.
A shirt flutters down from the projectionist booth. Everyone looks.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls: (Falling down) I fall down.
Dreaming Girl's Projection: (Recorded) I am the dreaming girl and I dream dreams or something like them and it makes me want ice cream divided by caramels and instead of brittle peanuts.
The Dreaming Girl is surrounded by other, different Dreaming Girls. Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls watch the screen. The Dreaming Girls on the screen watch them.
Keaton: (To the audience, with magnifying glass in hand) Why are you watching?
Projectionist's Projection and Freud: (Projection recorded, with magnifying glass) What does it mean?
Silence. Metronome begins.
Beckett: Nothing and I must insist on nothing other than yourself stitched together and multiplied by multitudes. And then nothing evermore nothing.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) At the beginning there was a stage and there wasn't a screen. Now and again there became a screen.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls: And then once upon a time a screen appeared and we were still dreaming.
They collapse on a heap on the bed. They sleep.
Mother circles the bed.
Freud reads from his book briefly then carefully puts it away.
Freud: (To the audience) The dreamer remembers bits and fragments from the day. They drift and sift through the people and things displayed in the screen memory. Now, the screen memory is that which is sliced up like apples and distributed throughout the dream. Delicious. A girl with a blue flowered dress holding a dandelion on top of a grassy hill recalls the war and the grenade that blew up like a flower when breath hits it just so. The flowers on the dress recall my mother in the garden the summer before she died coughing up blood and crying for mercy on the bathroom floor. Of course this wasn't my mother. My mother died and I felt little or nothing. Surprisingly so. Of course the grassy hill is me myself and my own worrying manhood and lack.
Keaton: (To the Projectionist's Projection) Taken together and taken apart the dream is that which could never be and yet is and was all at the same time.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) Some have said this is similar to sitting in the dark with a bag of popcorn.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (With the giant bag of popcorn, throwing a handful) Here, here!
Beckett and Dreaming Girls: (Sitting Up) Duh.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Too loud) Stop it girls, or you'll be stuffed on a screen like plump olives filled with garlic.
"Fatty" Arbuckle laughs. Everyone else is silent, frozen.
The Dreaming Girls scatter far away from him.
Freud writes furiously.
Keaton: (As if Freud) When a man enters a screen from a dream he fills it with the dull outlines of the day and the "fulfillment of a wish."
Dreaming Girl: (Reading book to the Dreaming Girls) Dr. Freud says a dream is a fulfillment of a wish.
Freud: Yet, it speaks crookedly; upside down and zig zagged opposites confuse the issue.
Video of bits and fragments from the play up until this point ending with Keaton, still and corpselike.
Keaton: (Reading from his book) You mean what I really want is my own plunging death clawing at the ground until it is all still like a grassy mound.
Keaton, Keatons, Dreaming Girl, Dreaming Girls line up with their heads perched on the bed, perfectly still.
Beckett and Freud: Indeed.
Keaton 1: (Zombie-like) And those zombies walking from the mud and infantry and bunkers over and over again like a creature from the black lagoon. They are the 20th century.
Keaton 2: Or a girl in a bathing suit. Bathing beauties. Look at them go!
Dreaming Girls pull off their dresses once again revealing old-fashioned bathing suits.
Dreaming Girls: (Running as if chased) Oooh la la.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Referring to his privates) They rise and rise again.
Silence. Then laugh track.
Dreaming Girls cover themselves modestly.
They then begin putting their dresses on then off repeatedly.
Keaton: There were two more by him also on the cross.
Keatons stand side by side with Keaton, arms to the side as if crucified.
Dreaming Girl: Hasn't this been written before.
Projectionist's Projection: Screened.
Beckett: Without permission.
Mother waves goodbye to the Keatons who put down their arms, ashamed.
Dreaming Girls: (Perfectly still) But I'm running in this sexy suit.
Keaton: (Running in place) I'll catch you. Play the music, son.
Silence. Then the metronome starts once again.
Beckett rocks in the rocking chair.
Beckett: Zombies dumbly fleshily eating fresh flesh and then getting shot so that there arms are pocked with round holes for the sun or moon or star. Fallen.
Silence. Video of Zombies/Soldiers.
Mother crosses herself. Dreaming
Girl recoils in horror.
Keaton: A voice of reason says that this is just the dream of a little one without the sophistication to know one big brave word (or world) from another.
Beckett: (Frozen) Shut up, kiddo.
Projectionist's Projection: This is silent.
Keaton: (Tantrum) But I talk!
Keatons: (Tantrum) Me too, me too!
Mother: Oh, hush.
Mother makes the bed smoothing the sheets and cover. She shakes her head and mutters to herself.
Dreaming Girl: (Carelessly acting all the actions out) My expectations for all of you were more that you would fall down the stairs, like so, pick yourself up and fling yourself down all over again, pick yourself up, and then remember to fall once more until all of them were gasping were gasping for air.
More Zombie/soldier video. World War II footage. Desolate landscape. Bombed out ruins. Home.
Keaton: Drowning, I see you from a pier. Or my mother's room?!
Beckett: Lay off. Nothing done at all.
Video changes to a "re-make" of Film.
Dreaming Girl takes out her magnifying glass.
Dreaming Girls and Keatons rush out to the movie theater seats, watch, and promptly fall asleep.
Dreaming Girl: But there can't be an entire film show without your face, why that would be an entire film show without your face.
Keaton: Until the end.
Video of an eye (A la the end of Film)
Dreaming Girl: I don't understand your meaning.
Beckett: Like shot.
Keaton: Eyed like shot.
Keatons mock shoot everyone onstage.
Everyone falls down as if dead.
They then stagger up like zombies to the movie theater seats. Look at the audience.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded.(A la Rod Sterling)) We watch. We watch the flickering present that is past and tricks into the now and again we watch and watch and watch your placidity expressed through this face so still so removed so live then gone and live again. This forgetful shadow that tumbles and falls into your dream... is he enough, enough for the 20th century dream of the screen massive and overreaching your own desire. We watch ourselves enter your own dream. Thank you and goodnight.
"After You've Gone" begins playing. Mother hums along.
Keaton enters the stage. He speaks to a pillow on the bed as if it were his lover (A la Singin' in the Rain).
"After You've Gone" fades. "Ladyfingers" plays.
Keaton: Goodnight, my love. You've always been my love. Now is the time where I get real romantic and my voice deepens like so....
Dreaming Girls: We can't hear you.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Shut the fuck up, kiddos.
Mother: Horror. Not movies. You. Horror. You.
Beckett: Your breath next to mine and the horror of the beating heart... forget me not. And I do.
Keaton: (Continuing to the pillow) You dream so sweetly with a laugh that is a tear so pretty down a rose of a cheek that I might just ask to kiss kiss and not miss... I'm going to crawl into your dream, but not like the finger knife man...
Beckett, Dreaming Girls, "Fatty" Arbuckle, and Freud: Another screen!
Keatons: (To the audience) Aw, go throw popcorn at yourselves. Watchers!
Keaton, Freud, and Dreaming Girl take out magnifying glasses and look out into the audience.
"Fatty" Arbuckle throws popcorn. Popcorn fight ensues.
Keaton puts the magnifying glass away and attends to the pillow again who rejects him violently. He tears the pillow asunder (A la Nightmare on Elm Street)
Dreaming Girls run out the door and around and around the stage.
"Fatty" Arbuckle does chase.
Mother worriedly tries to stop Dreaming Girls.
Beckett and Freud ignore the scene and continue looking out into the distance.
Eventually the chase ends with everyone colliding like dominos.
Keaton: Not like the Freddy of your nightmare (not a horror movie), more like the Buster bustered bursted and dreamed and day drenched with rain raining on you like rain... or water.
Freud: (Inspecting the group like a detective, magnifying glass out) Who's swearin'?
Freud inspects Mother and they size one another up.
"Angel at My Table Bells" plays. They begin to dance.
Dreaming Girls: (Taking off dresses, swimming) Let's enter the stream.
Dreaming Girl: (Swimming while standing on the bed) Wheeee....ha ha ha that makes me ha ha and giggle giggle.
Keaton 1: (Swimming too. Begins to drown) When are you going to dream again of me...
Keaton 2: (Swimming too. Begins to drown) ...in amongst those scenes of flowers tripping willy-nilly.
Keatons: (Drowned) ...and haunting the pebbled road?
Freud: Or my mother not coughing in blue flowered dresses.
Keaton: (Hard-boiled detective) Triple that threat and pour me a double.
Freud: (With admiration) That's very Raymond Chandler of you.
Keaton and Keatons: (Applauding and jumping up and down) Honk! Honk!
Dreaming Girl: (As if picking up a phone) Detectives Unlimited, may I help you?
Keaton: (Begging on both knees) Find me past.
Beckett: (Pirate) Argh!
Dreaming Girls: (Scampering) Pirates!! Wheeeee...ha ha ha that makes me ha ha and giggle giggle.
Keaton: Find me past, mister. Kiddo? Find. The. Past.
Music stops. Metronome begins.
"Fatty" Arbuckle turns around and sticks his tongue out at the audience.
Beckett: If it is all on a reel-to-reel that's forbidden.
"My Heart Belongs to Daddy" begins to play.
Dreaming Girl: Like my beautiful body on display?
Dreaming Girls rapidly take on and off their dresses revealing their old fashioned bathing suits.
Mother hurriedly takes the sheet from the bed and tries to hide them.
Dreaming Girl does an awkward burlesque turn.
Video of Busby Berkeley number done by Dreaming Girls and Video Performers plays in the background.
Beckett and Freud: (Approvingly) Quite.
Keaton, Keatons, and "Fatty" Arbuckle: (Leering) Honk! Honk! Yowza, yowza!
Dreaming Girl: (While dancing) I am a dreaming girl and I dream of wildly dancing and it all floats up past the sky and clouds and moon and star except when it falls down down down and we've all read that story before.
Music stops abruptly. Dreaming Girl collapses.
Beckett: Been there, done that.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Kid, you oughta be in pictures.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded. Wrapped in film) Here stand here. Watch me cut and splice and splice the cut within the screen within the stage within my fingers and between. Between the inside and the outside and remember the trick?
Keaton stands in front of a miniature screen.
Sherlock Jr. edited sequence is re-enacted.
Keaton: When I move like this? And the place behind moves like this.
Freud: Unspool the dream, ahoy!
Keaton: The trick of all screens. This looks like this.
Dreaming Girl tries to enter in the screen with him. Fails. Repeats. Fails. She flops on the bed in frustration and feigns sleep.
Keatons: (A la Frankenstein) It's alive!
Dreaming Girl: But, I'm merely a dreaming girl asleep like this. I move and make small sounds like this. My eyelids flutter like this. I never knew 'ya. Yet, I do. Oh, indeed I do!
Freud hovers over the bed with Mother.
"Fatty" Arbuckle turns around and sticks his tongue out at the audience once again giving a "rasberry" sound.
Freud: (Feeling Dreaming Girl's forehead for fever) The past never known and never known crept into her sleep which wasn't really sleep and the magic of it is that it all floats close to the surface—the 20th century—just waiting for the right temperature.
Keaton: (Still enacting Sherlock Jr) I am Buster Keaton. Welcome to my dream. I might run in place and never get from here to there. Or then again I might. Then I walk right on up this wall like it was a mountain. And there she is... this little figure. Sighing and trembling while sucking her thumb. Total amnesia. Is she me or is me her?
Film cuts out.
Keaton deflates, defeated.
Keaton: (Continues) By this I mean a big 'ol blank surrounded by a balloon holding nothing. Make of that what you will. But I never knew her. Not even once.
Dreaming Girl leaps by his side, eager to provide cheer. They pretend like the bed is a cafe table.
Dreaming Girl: Let's have a cup o' Joe.
Keaton: Yes, let's.
Keatons: Damn good.
Beckett: Heard that one before.
Dreaming Girl: (Chasing Keaton) Oh, hush. Have some fortitude. Drink up!
Keaton: (Running away, as if in a dream) But I don't do that... anymore. I did. Skidded my way downstairs to a bar named Ernie's and then crawled home. Used to. Not anymore.
Now in the movie theater seats, they pretend like they are in a cafe.
Keatons: Cup 'o Joe?
Dreaming Girls: (Forming their own tea party) Yes, let's.
Dreaming Girl: Now you're in mine and I'm in yours. But what does it all...
Dreaming Girl: Yes.
Dreaming Girl: Yes.
Keaton: Never heard of it.
Dreaming Girl: Of what?
Dreaming Girl: Yes.
Silence. Mother backs up next to the door, video plays upon her body.
Freud watches her and takes notes.
She occasionally freezes up in an uncomfortable tableau (A la Charcot's "hysteria" photographs).
Freud whispers in her ear and she gradually loosens and moves once again.
"Fatty" Arbuckle begins a hide and seek routine through each of the entrances and exits that continues throughout the "cafe" sequence.
Metronome begins. Beckett collapses with his head in his hands.
Keatons: Cup o' Joe.
All: Yes, let's.
Keaton: Damn good!
Beckett: (Lifting his head) Heard that. In combination with pie.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) Quite good.
Beckett: But derivative.
Freud: Meaning means.
Dreaming Girl: Of course it does.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Fleshy dreams are still dreams.
Dreaming Girls: Of course they are.
Keaton: I'm in you and you're in me.
Dreaming Girl: But why?
Keaton and Freud: Indeed.
Dreaming Girl runs through all the doors in the set lapping "Fatty" Arbuckle.
Dreaming Girl: Wake up, wake up, wake up... gotta wake up wake up wake up...
Dreaming Girl stops in her tracks. Sits back down on the bed as if nothing had happened.
The next section accelerates to a rapid pace. The metronome marks this acceleration.
Keatons: Cup 'o Joe?
Dreaming Girls: Sounds familiar.
Dreaming Girl: Drink up. Like you did once but don't do anymore.
Keaton: Then I'd fall. Without breaking a bone.
Keatons: Or wind.
Dreaming Girls: Ha, ha. Giggle, giggle.
Keaton: Always a crowd pleaser.
Freeze. Metronome stops. Mother is frozen, rigid like a corpse. Freud whispers into her ear.
Everyone else but Keaton, Freud, and Mother is in the movie theater seats leaning towards Dreaming Girl. Menacing.
Dreaming Girl: (To Freud) What do they want?
Freud: A screen to transfer themselves into.
Transparent cloths drop down once again from the frame of the stage making a makeshift screen.
Keaton: Invite them in.
Dreaming Girl: Come in, come in.
One at a time the characters enter the screen (A la Sherlock Jr) crowding the small space of the stage.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Who me?
Beckett: And me?
Keatons and Dreaming Girls: And us?
Keaton: Step right up. Step right in. Carefully. Step.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Like this?
Dreaming Girls and Keatons: And this?
All: Here we are.
Dreaming Girl: (Collapsing on the bed) Strange dreams.
Keaton: Must have had the beans last night.
Keatons: Or the magic sauce.
All: (Climbing onto the bed. Zombies) Here we are.
Everyone is crowded together on the bed.
The Dreaming Girl is smashed in the middle. Keaton is by her side. They look at one another.
Keaton: This bed is not a pipe.
Dreaming Girl: This bed is a boat. Now it is crowded.
Keatons and Dreaming Girls: But we were invited.
Keaton: Like vampires.
Keatons 1: Or zombies...
Keatons 2: ...dying again and again on the battlefield.
Beckett: Don't you mean men?
Keaton: Oh yeah. Stupid me.
Freud: (Reverie) Men dying again and again on the battlefield.
Keaton: I missed it.
Dreaming Girl: I'm afraid. I missed it.
Freud: I am Sigmund Freud and I am and the 20th century and I am the 20th century and I discovered that dreams that repeat are nightmares that repeat are a fulfillment of a wish that is beyond the pleasure principle confused by ten fold and subtracted by your losses missed that you never did do see.
Dreaming Girls: That's why they're right there!
Video of women crowded onto a bed sleeping feverishly. They gasp. Stare into the camera which cuts out suddenly.
Dreaming Girl: Oh, I see.
Mother: Hush and let me tell you a story. Once in time there was a dreaming girl who dreamed a girl who dreamed a boy who dreamed himself who dreamed another and another and another and they all played until they were frightened and they all cried until they were happy and they tried to wake up tried to wake up and never did do.
Everyone listens earnestly to Mother.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: I never did do wake up.
Dreaming Girl 1: I'm afraid.
Dreaming Girl 2: I'm frightened. Nightmare.
Dreaming Girl: And yet there is still sky (Turning to Keaton, gasping). And who might you be?
Keaton and Keatons: I am Buster Keaton.
Freud: (Vaudevillian) Tell me another.
Keaton: I am Buster Keaton.
Keatons: I can't even crack a smile.
Dreaming Girls: (Pressed against the screen) I miss you.
Keatons: But we are strangers.
Dreaming Girl: But I saw you here.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) On the screen.
Dreaming Girl: Yes.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) In your dream.
Mother: (Singing) "After you've gone and left me crying... after you've gone..."
Dreaming Girl and Keaton: Yes. Oh, dear. Wake up wake up wake up please wake up now now now.
Keaton: Wake up, dear one.
Dreaming Girl: But I am you. Remember?
Keaton: Or are you me?
Beckett: Not eyed.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Let's put on a show.
Keaton: Of course.
Keatons: Of course.
Dreaming Girls: Of course.
Dreaming Girl: Wake up.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (To the Audience) For them.
Dreaming Girl: I. Cant. Wake. Up.
Keaton: I'll dance.
Dreaming Girls: (Taking off their dresses) I'm in a sexy swim suit.
Dreaming Girl: (Pressed against the screen) Awake!
Metronome tick tocks.
Mother: Once the time upon the time it went from now to then to was to now and then again.
Keaton: (Half-hearted) I'll chase you.
Beckett: I've seen this before.
Keaton: Let's play cards.
Beckett: I've seen this before.
Keatons: (Turning their backs to the audience) Let's not show our faces.
Beckett: I've seen this before.
Dreaming Girls: (Pointing) I've seen this.
Keaton sits stone faced next to the Projectionist's Projection.
Dreaming Girls: (Continuing)And some of this, too.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) Slipping and sliding the dream does the doer and the doer doesn't. Dr. Freud remembers the stuff left behind and never knew and Buster Keaton is that stuff.
Freud: (Takes a folding chair from under the bed, sits down) He is that stuff that you desire and never knew and never will and forget in time until it emerges once again when you lose your keys on the way to the office.
Keaton: (Following Freud) I'm what you never knew.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Humping the side of the bed) Are the drives really silent?
Beckett: I don't get your meaning.
Freud: I do. And yes, they are. Fascinating, ain't it? Sit down and lie down and I'll listen.
All surround the bed and watch Keaton lie down to be analyzed.
Mother hovers at the head of the bed.
Keaton: I can only whisper.
Keaton: (Whispering) This is my mind and it is full of stunts and half-remembered tricks and bruises that my mother kissed and egged on and how much I missed her kiss. Kiss me now if you love me the gorgeous woman said and I obliged by squeezing her left breast hard enough to make her gasp...
Keatons put their arms out as if squeezing Dreaming Girls breasts.
Dreaming Girls: Ouch!
Keaton: Kiss. Kiss and hush until I remember you not and I end up in some little girl's dream somehow. Screened and not and is this what I'm supposed to say? I don't know what to say, I don't know what to say, I don't know what to say!
Freud: We have to stop now.
Keaton Sits up. Blinks. Lies down, asleep.
Beckett: (Skulking off) What a rip-off!
Dreaming Girl: I want to try! I want to try!
Freud: Sit down little one.
Dreaming Girl: (She sits down on the bed) Okay.
Freud: Now lie down.
Dreaming Girl: (She lies down next to sleeping Keaton) Okay.
Dreaming Girl: I've heard that before, but I'll do it anyway and I like marshmallows and little fellas and things that are sour and then sweet and rain but not too wet and of course I love furry creatures...
Dreaming Girls: If I talk, too, will I end up in your dreams?
Dreaming Girl: You already are!
Mother: I haunt the edges.
Freud writes furiously.
Everyone leans in watching anxiously except Dreaming Girl and Keaton.
Freud: Both of you exhibit love without love, and I have love without love times the sound of the reel slapping against the machine.
Dreaming Girl and Keaton: (Sitting upright. To one another) I understand completely.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Tapping Keaton's shoulder) Hey, fella. Remember me.
Keaton: (Pressing his face against the screen) Nah.
Video plays of Keaton and "Fatty" Arbuckle doing an "act" together.
During the following exchange a laugh track plays.
An audience of girls applauds wildly.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Pressing his face against the screen) I found you.
Keaton: (Keaton exits the screen) Nah.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: ("Fatty exits the screen) Truly.
During the following Keaton and "Fatty" play the scene as if it were an old vaudeville or music hall routine.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Yep.
Keaton: You don't say.
Big laugh from the laugh track. A smattering of applause.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: I do, I do.
Keaton: (Extending a hand) Well, how do you do?
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Shaking too long and too hard) Just fine. Fine...Yourself.
Beckett and Keaton: Middlin' at best.
Big laugh and applause from the laugh track.
Freud: (Pressing his face against the screen) Ain't it the way.
Keaton: You're a big sort of fella.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Big enough to eat you up.
Gasp from the laugh track. Then giggles.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls: (Huddled on the bed) Oh, my.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Or at least make you...you see.
Keaton and Keatons: (Shaking "Fatty" Arbuckle's hand for too long) I see. I see! Well, thank you very much. Very much indeed.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: (Too loud) I'm a sad specimen.
Big laugh from the laugh track.
Keaton: I spoke on your behalf.
Another smattering of a laugh and applause.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: But then I fell asleep and I didn't dream. Wake up, wake up, wake up. Silence.
Silence from the laugh track.
Keaton: Darn it.
Keaton: And you are?
"Fatty" slowly disappears behind the screen once again as if dissolving into thin air.
Freud: (as "Fatty" enters the screen) We forget dreams as the day's dust settles. All things fade, but especially shadows.
"Angel at My Table Bells" play.
Dreaming Girl extends herself out of the screen carefully depositing herself into the movie theater audience.
She finds a seat and sits down to watch the others.
Dreaming Girls: I'm a shadow!
Keatons: I'm a shadow!
Beckett: I'm immaterial and such.
Dreaming Girl: What fun!
Keaton catches sight of Dreaming Girl (A la The Purple Rose of Cairo).
He slowly leaves the screen and makes his way to her.
Keaton: And you are?
Dreaming Girl: Never mind.
Keaton: Oh, the folly. Once I went to a pier or something like it (my mother's room) and something happened and someone told me it wasn't my story.
Beckett: Indeed. Screened.
Dreaming Girl: What does it feel like up there?
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Light.
Dreaming Girl: I see.
Freud: You do, I can see you really do.
Dreaming Girl: I wish I could fly.
Keaton: Like something other than there.
Dreaming Girl: But you are right here.
Keaton: You're a beautiful baby.
Dreaming Girls: Look at me dance.
Keatons: Beautiful babies.
Dreaming Girl: I'm asleep and you're not real.
Keaton: Of course. I'm asleep and you're not real.
Dreaming Girl: Of course. But isn't it wonderful anyway?
Keaton: I am... you remember.
Freud: (To the Projectionist's Projection) Sit on my lap.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recording) That is rather intimate, isn't it?
Freud: Of course.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recording) All right.
Video of Projectionist sitting in Freud's lap.
Dreaming Girl: I want to whisper again... A screen dream is a dream divided by something else.
Freud's Projection: (Recording. Out to the audience) Come again?
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded. Still on Freud's lap) A screen dream is a dream divided by something else.
Keaton: What? Something else. What? Am I you?
Keaton: (Continues, points at Dreaming Girl) Or you?
Freud: A feather.
Dreaming Girl: Your hat.
Beckett: A father.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: A dress.
Dreaming Girls: Your beard.
Keatons: Your might-have-beens.
Keaton: Your everything.
Dreaming Girl: You.
Dreaming Girl: You.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) That's the ticket.
Keatons: And we all fall down.
No one moves.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recording) Go boom!
Keaton: (Entering the screen) I am Buster Keaton. I am in your dream, but not anymore. You forgot me. But I'm your everything. Your screen. It started here.
Keatons: Once upon a time and never ago.
Freud: It is true that he was once and meant once and was once and remembered once. That isn't your responsibility.
Dreaming Girl: (To the audience) I can't wake up.
Keaton: (Taking out his book) A story: "In Dreams Become Responsibilities."
Beckett: Impressive work I never do done read. There was a screen and a dream. Inside the page was the blankness of what was at the end of a long life lived, but somehow not and somehow it was still lived (although not) and still loved although without and still there was the happy happy triumph of each night each day and each disappearance remembers less and less until the loss dribbled until gone living what is until what was. That is the kind of story dreams and responsibilities done do tell.
Dreaming Girl: (Taking out her book) Read it aloud.
Keaton: The book is blank.
Dreaming Girl: I can't wake up.
Dreaming Girls: (Miming a cup) Drink this.
Keaton: I can't drink anymore.
Dreaming Girls: (Extending the cup to Dreaming Girl) Not you, fool.
Dreaming Girl takes the cup. Drinks. Finds her way back onto the screen and onto her bed.
Mother: There, there. You're only dreaming.
Dreaming Girl: Wake up wake up wake up...
Keaton: I'm always where I shouldn't be and then I wasn't.
Freud: (Sitting next to the bed) I remember.
Dreaming Girl: (To the Audience) You are still here! I'm trying to trying to get awake to my mommy!
Keaton: In the dress with flowers?
Mother waves and walks back to the door. Video is projected upon her. She holds a baby, kisses her on the nose.
Freud: That was my mommy. She died. I never did do feeling much. Although you could say my mourning occurred somehow differently, on the page and although I couldn't see her burning she still has that reproachful expression that I slept at all.
Freud: Of course.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Don't forget to laugh. That is the secret. Not my secret, but a secret if you get my meaning.
Dreaming Girl: Ha Ha? Giggle giggle?
Freud: You were always inappropriate at the right times.
All but Dreaming Girl: Thank you.
Dreaming Girl: (Sitting bolt upright) And I close my eyes and this is what I see: a river and a train and a building coming round your body and your face placid and adored.
Keaton: (By Dreaming Girl's side) Consider me warned!
Dreaming Girl, Keaton, and Freud open their books and read.
They peer from the pages and nod with understanding.
They take out their magnifying glasses and look at one another, the audience, the sky and nod once again.
Dreaming Girl: (With understanding) I am a dreaming girl asleep in her bed and she dreamed a screen above and there was a man who amused her greatly running in place then falling down and there were others too but really it was a surprise when he said he was Buster Keaton and then she said, "I love you," and meant it deeply but not in the conventional sense if you could call it sense at all, but somehow the 20th century needs thanking and loving and forgetting or something more than I could know because, of course, I'm very very young indeed.
Keaton: He (Buster Keaton) knew, too. What she meant. Referring of course to the girl that called herself she and the force of the 20th century.
Dreaming Girls: (Extending their hands) Shall we?
Keatons: (Beginning to dance) Yes.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls: I am the 20th century. Let's remember the whole history of this time, this place... and quickly, too.
Keaton: First there was a crowd and a train and then there was a trick and a disappearing lady and then there was a voyage to the moon and then there was a robbery which happened to be great (train again) and then there was a fall and a laugh and a cane and a hat and a dance and a slap and a gun and close lips and teeth and lovely hair and swimming too and space and the center of the earth and ghosts and zombies and tigers oh my and this and that and this and that and the whole world practically and you.
A video whirls through the history of film, the 20th century, and of the play itself.
Everyone rushes into the audience to watch.
Dreaming Girl and Dreaming Girls: Dreamed.
Keaton: Alone. There and not. Here and gone.
Dreaming Girls: Oh everything.
Dreaming Girl: (A la Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz) Oh, Mister Freud.
"Fatty" Arbuckle: Oh, Mister Moon.
Freud and Beckett: Oh, Mother.
Mother: Oh, my.
Keaton: Of course. Now we are close, close to the past and the now and...
"Fatty" Arbuckle: The truth. Are you she? Is she you? Will the morning appear or fade into night over and over again? A show! A show! This calls for another show!
Dreaming Girls and Keatons rush onto the stage.
They perform like children in an elementary school play.
"Angel at My Table Bells" plays.
Dreaming Girl 1: I open open wide and believe that I am this flesh until I am not I am not this flesh. Light flickers through me and suddenly I am the 20th century passing passing passing on by so very fast...
Keaton 1: ...I am the past that once was that is the 20th century. Watch me move too too fast and the machine hearts multiply and rush on by rush on by too too fast watch me turn to metal...
Keaton 2: I am your nightmare and my face doesn't move so still and all of you that is fear rushes up to me and plays upon this stony still placidly placid face. This is the 20th century...
Dreaming Girl 2: (Dreamily taking off and putting on her dress) ...so I breathe and breathe again with the breath of someone older than I and younger than I and somehow ending too. I miss miss the fleshiness of flesh and remember that I am this too too lightness of air frozen... and this time upon the time that supported my heart heavy with the passing of my shadow remembered to go to bed so sleepy examining the world as a sleuth, a spy, wanting to make sense of it all and sleepily sleep until over but somehow saw you and here I am...
"Fatty" Arbuckle stands and applauds.
Everyone watches him, silent.
Dreaming Girl: ...here I am fading away. Wake me up. Now. Please. Now.
Keaton: Are you sure?
Dreaming Girl nods. They regard one another.
Dreaming Girls and Keatons bow and recede into the movie theater audience.
Keaton: Should I go gently or with a shake.
Dreaming Girl: A shake?
Keaton: (Shakes her gently) Of course. Good girl and goodbye my dream dreaming me as if in a dream of this dream of the end of something. The 20th century? This I seeing you of what will be and I of what was and goodbye...
Dreaming Girl stumbles to the bed.
Keaton stumbles to the projection booth, begins to crawl inside.
Projectionist's Projection: (Recorded) Vanish and poof.
The projection vanishes, leaving just Keaton without his double. Silence. Metronome begins ticking.
Keaton: I was Buster Keaton, the 20th century.
Projectionist's Voice: (Recorded. As if from a dream) Aside from the days and nights that bob and weave and disassemble into parts that are really minutes, I am nothing more than what some of you might remember some times when you are remembering what might of been some day so long ago and that you can't see more than a hazy glimmer of something that looks somewhat and somehow better. Neither here nor there. I'm in you.
Projectionist's Voice: (Continued) and you're in me and one of us is flesh and real and the other is not, not of this world but somehow still flickering flickering in a dark room with the breathing breath of others heaving up and down dreaming themselves neither here nor there here nor there here nor there....
Freud: Screened divided by your sideways glance and multiplied by...
Beckett: A road? A tree?
Dreaming Girls: Dreams?
Keaton: Windows? Eyed. Alone.
Dreaming Girl: Doors?
Keaton: Something like that.
Keatons: Pssst... Wake up.
All but Dreaming Girl: Wake up!
Keaton and Mother: (Mother gently shakes Dreaming Girl) Wake up, sleepyhead.
Bird sounds. Sunrise. Bell rings.
Dreaming Girl sits bolt upright. Gasps. She falls asleep once again with a thud.
All but Mother disappear.
"After You've Gone" begins to play.
Mother: Upon this time there was a very young girl waking from a very young dream that stretched and stretched into time itself leaving itself and saying goodbye and then hello. Hello! Hello!
Good morning, darling.
Dreaming Girl: (Waking brightly, stretching wide) And oh, what a dream!