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© Copyright 1998, Jim Loy
a short play by Jim Loy
(In this play, the wizard's questions seldom have question marks. He just has a tendency to say his questions, rather than ask them.)
Scene I (A nearly empty street, in an ancient Arabian city. There are ragged beggars scattered about. The wizard, an old man with a long staff in one hand, slowly limps on stage, and crosses the stage. He stops in front of an apparently blind beggar (the guard) who, despite appearing blind (he might actually wear dark glasses and have a cup), as been following the wizard's limping progress.)
Wizard: Young man. You are watching me.
Guard: You are standing on my brick.
Wizard (pausing): I am standing on your brick. (Steps off the brick, and looks down.) Ah, I see. It is made of gold. (Pause.) You sit there all day guarding a brick.
Guard (pointing): And that brick, and that brick over there.
Wizard: You sit there all day guarding BRICKS.
Wizard: So that people will not stand on your BRICKS.
Guard: So people will not STEAL my bricks.
Wizard (coughing chuckle): And if I were to STEAL this brick.
Guard (standing up, drawing a magnificent curved sword, which he casually points toward the wizard): I would capture you or kill you. (After a pause, he lowers his sword, but remains standing.)
Wizard: What if you could not capture me.
Guard: Then the Sultan would have my head cut off.
Wizard (amused): And do you guard that brick way over yonder.
Guard: No, that guard over there guards that brick.
Wizard: Ah, that cripple who is not really crippled. (Pause.) Are there only guards in this city.
Guard: No, but the people are afraid to come out of their houses. Why, only yesterday, a woman was beheaded for THINKING of stealing a brick.
Wizard (amused): Well, I AM thinking of stealing your brick. (The guard becomes tense.) You cannot stop me from stealing your brick. (The guard raises his sword.) Here is your brick. (The brick appears magically in the wizard's outstretched hand.) Are you not going to capture me, or kill me.
(The guard raises his sword to strike down the wizard. And the wizard disappears, spectacularly. The guard stabs several times, where the wizard had been standing. He rushes around madly, looking for the wizard. There is no wizard, there is no brick.)
Guard (looking for his brick, in the hole in the street where it had been): Gone. My brick is gone. (He collapses, sobbing.)
Scene II (Sultan's dazzling throne room. The Sultan is on his throne. Beside the Sultan stands the Vizier. There are guards, standing at attention. Before the Sultan, stand a beautiful, richly clad woman, and an adorable, richly clad little girl.)
Sultan (speaking to the child): My dear, someone has accused you of stealing my golden elephant. (He holds up a toy, golden elephant.) That is a very serious charge. What do you have to say for yourself?
Child: I only took the elephant because I wanted to play with it. I would never steal.
Sultan: Of course you wouldn't. (The evil Vizier bends toward the Sultan, and whispers something in his ear. The Sultan's face goes from placid to very angry as the Vizier whispers.) But you did STEAL the elephant. Guards, cut off her head. (The guards approach the little girl with swords drawn.)
Child: But, but, but, Daddy! I only wanted to play with your elephant.
Sultan: Silence! Or things will go worse for you.
Woman (Goes to the child and puts her arms around the child, to shield her from the guards): Your Highness, she is your own flesh and blood. She does not steal.
Sultan (angry): Silence, woman. Just because you are my favorite wife, does not protect your head. (The woman weeps.)
(The Vizier whispers to the Sultan.)
Sultan (to the Vizier): Mercy. I should show mercy? (Shows relief on his face. Pause.) Very well. (He waves the guards away. To the Child:) I can be merciful. Here. (He holds out the golden elephant.) Take it. It is yours.
(The child hesitates, looks at her mother in fear. Then she rushes up to the throne, takes the elephant, and rushes back into her mother's arms. Her mother whispers to her, and points at the Sultan.)
Child (goes to her knees in front of the Sultan, and bows): Thank you, your Highness. And praise and thanks be to Allah.
Sultan: Yes. Yes. (He waves her away. The woman and child go to the side of the stage, and stand motionless but prominently seen by the audience.) Next order of business.
(The Vizier whispers in the Sultan's ear.)
Sultan: A wandering wizard, eh? (He chuckles.) Bring him in.
(There is some confusion, as they cannot find the wizard. Then the wizard magically appears before the Sultan. The Vizier hides his face from the Wizard. After recovering from his initial shock, the Sultan applauds in delight. Everyone else applauds in response. The wizard kneels with difficulty, before the Sultan, and bows.)
Wizard (still kneeling): I bring you this gift, your Highness. (He holds up an obviously empty hand. Then a large golden brick appears magically in that hand.)
Sultan (delighted): My Highness thanks you. Give it to me.
(The wizard stands with difficulty, and gives the brick to the Sultan.)
Sultan: Ah, gold. Beautiful gold. (He rubs it on his cheek, then looks at the brick in surprise.) This looks like one of MY bricks?
Wizard: I was just speaking with a man who said that it was HIS brick.
Sultan: Ah, you rescued my brick from a thief. You will be rewarded. Give the details to my Vizier (The Sultan points at the Vizier, who is still hiding his face), and we will have the thief beheaded.
Wizard: There was no thief. I merely BORROWED your brick from one of your guards.
(The Vizier, still hiding his face, whispers in the Sultan's ear.)
Sultan (becoming angry): BORROWED? You dared to BORROW one of my BRICKS? You are a thief. Guards, cut off his head.
(The wizard stands casually. The guards surround him cautiously and nervously.)
Sultan: Well? (He raises his eyebrows, and holds his hand out as if repeating the word, "Well?")
(A big guard raises his sword to strike the wizard. The wizard disappears, spectacularly.)
Woman: [inarticulate scream of anguish]. (Then:) My daughter! Where is my daughter?
(There is frantic searching. The child has disappeared, too.)
Scene III (Wizard's dark cave. The wizard limps on stage, with his staff glowing, lighting up the cave slightly. He is leading the child by the hand. She is wary, but is not resisting much.)
Wizard: Come along child. There is nothing to be afraid of.
Child: My father will save me. My father will cut off your head.
Wizard (chuckles): Yes, yes. I suppose he might. (He leads her to a pile of straw.) This is your bed. I would advise you to not try to run away. There are monsters (He gestures, and wild beasts roar from the darkness.), out there.
Child (frightened): Oh! Monsters! Don't let them eat me.
Wizard: They won't eat you (pause), while I am here.
Child: But it is so dark here. The Monsters may be approaching in the dark, right now.
Wizard: Hum. Dark. (He gestures, and the stage lights up.)
(We see books. We see chemical apparatus, some of it with colored liquids bubbling and fuming over. We see glowing objects, one of them is a skeleton.)
Child (going to the skeleton): Bones! Is this someone who you have killed? (Pause.) My father didn't kill him. He still has his head.
Wizard (chuckles, then has a coughing fit): No, I dug him up out of a grave.
(She approaches his chemical bench)
Wizard: Don't touch my chemicals. They are very dangerous. (He holds up a glass container) Why, this chemical would change you into a mouse.
Child: I could change into a mouse, and run away. Then my father's Vizier, who I'm sure is a mightier wizard than you are, would change me back into a little girl. (She looked proud of her logic.)
Wizard: But my monsters (he gestures, and wild animals roar from the darkness) love to eat mice. (Pause.) You say your father's Vizier is a wizard?
Child: Oh yes, he is a scary old man. He looks a lot like you. I think that he makes father cut people's heads off.
Wizard: Does he really. He sounds like someone I know.
(They are interrupted, when the wizard's crystal ball lights up. The wizard and the child look at the crystal ball. We see a moving, distorted image of the Sultan's face, in the crystal ball.)
Sultan (in the crystal ball): Hello? Hello? (The sound of someone tapping on a microphone.) Is this thing working? (The sound of someone blowing twice into a microphone.) I don't think this is turned on.
Wizard: Yes, your Highness. What do you want?
Sultan (angry): I want my golden elephant. (Pause. The wizard looks to the child, who slumps sadly onto a chair.) And I want my daughter. (Pause.) And I want your head.
Wizard: Sorry, no deal. (Pause.) But doesn't the elephant belong to your daughter. I thought you gave it to her.
Sultan: I loaned it to her. It is still mine. It is made of gold, after all. It is solid gold. (Pause.) She can play with it all she wants.
(The child sadly gives the elephant to the wizard, and sits gloomily on her chair.)
Wizard: Let me get back to you later. (He makes the crystal ball go dark.)
(The wizard goes to the child, and tries to cheer her up with magic tricks. We have a dazzling magic show, with many tricks, many of them well-known cliche magic tricks. He even asks her to pick a card (any card), and then asks her if this is her card. She slowly cheers up, and gets delightedly involved in the tricks.)
Wizard: Now, I'm going to saw you in half. (He brings out a box on wheels, which he spins around, to show all sides, and a big saw. The child is happily going to climb into the box, to be sawn in half, when the crystal ball lights up again.)
Wizard (To the crystal ball): Yes, Your Highness.
Sultan (Angry): I am still here, waiting for you. I suppose you had more important things to do than talking to me.
Wizard: I will return your elephant. I will keep your daughter, for the time being. And, I will keep my head. But, first I will put a drop of vinegar on your elephant. See what it looks like now. (He makes the elephant disappear, presumably sending it back to the Sultan.)
Sultan: My elephant is turning green. What have you done to it?
Wizard: Your "golden" elephant is brass. You might want to pour a little vinegar on your other riches. I suspect that all of your gold is brass.
Sultan (Upset): But, my Vizier assured me that it is all gold.
Wizard: Yes, I think that your Vizier has played a nice little trick on you.
Sultan: My riches, my power, all a lie!
Vizier (in crystal ball): Give me that crystal, you fool. (Sound of a scuffle.) (The Vizier magically appears in the cave.) That ungrateful . . . (He sees the Wizard and the Child.) Well well well, we meet again. I suppose you are pleased with yourself. I had it made, until you showed up. What do you plan to do with the little brat? You can't get much ransom out of that Sultan, unless you like brass.
Wizard: Charming as ever. (Looks to the child.) He has his mother's eyes, you know.
Vizier (fumbles in his robe): Yes, I've got them here, somewhere. (Chuckles.)
Wizard: Why are you here? You could have fled.
Vizier: Oh, it seemed necessary. Classic confrontation between good and evil.
Wizard: And, which one of us is good? (He turns to the child.) He and I are brothers, you know.
Child: Yes, I see a family resemblance.
(The Wizard and the Vizier both laugh loudly at this. They both have coughing fits. The Vizier recovers and quickly waves his hands. And the Wizard magically turns into a white statue. A statue may be produced by using someone dressed as the Wizard, but painted white.)
Vizier: Sorry, brother. But I must have my revenge. (He approaches the immobile statue, with an evil grin on his face, intent on doing some mischief to the statue.)
(The Child takes the chemical container, and throws the liquid in the Vizier's face.)
Vizier (Startled, he sputters. Then he laughs): What did you hope to accomplish by that, little one? (He laughs again. Then he turns into a little mouse (a large toy mouse on a string would be fine). It runs off stage. And we hear wild animals roaring.)
Child (Apprehensively looking toward where the mouse went): Oh, now what do I do? (She snaps her fingers at the statue.) Wake up! (She claps her hands.) Oh, no! (She looks around for clues. She opens a book.) I wish I could read. (She stands before the wizard, looking up at him.) You're eyes are moving. (Indeed, his eyes are moving.) What do you want? Something over here? A chemical. Does that mean "no"? Yes it means "no", or no it means "yes"? OK, look up if you mean "yes". Do you want a chemical? "No." Do you want a book? "No." Something over here? "Yes!" Your staff? "Yes!" What do you want me to do with it? Point it at you? "Yes!" (She cringes as she points the staff at him. Nothing happens.) Do you want me to say something? "Yes! First word. Does it start with an 'A'? "Yes!" Second letter, A? B? Yes! Third letter, A? B? C? DEFGHIJKLMNOPQRS? It was S? No! Was it R? Yes. Fourth letter, A? Yes. 'Abra! Second word...
Somebody in the audience (shouts): Cadabra!
Child (after a pause): Is it, by any chance, 'Cadabra?' Yes! Abra Cadabra!"
(The Wizard magically changes back into himself. The child sets down the staff, and hugs the wizard.)
Wizard: Well done, my friend.
(Note: While taking his bows, it might be amusing for the wizard to do a magic trick (maybe make flowers appear) or two (or make the wild animals roar).)
(Note: It may work well to have the Guard (blind beggar) be without legs, too. Then, when he stands up, we see that he does have legs, and that all of his handicaps are a "clever" ruse.)
(Note: I wrote this play, with Frank Simpson, a great magician, an actor, and an acquaintance of mine, in mind as the Wizard. I have not been able to find him, to tell him about this. I have found his car (license plate=SHAZAM), but I cannot find him.)
(P.S. I found him.)
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