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Tempest

I started this lj a long time ago, with a determination to write things down as they occurred to me, without editing. So why has my little script below hidden in google docs so long? Guess it was cos I didn't think it was good enough to show. It still might not be. But a chum is considering shooting his own wee script, and has shown it to friends, and it made me think of all the things I have left lurking. We are very different writers he and I, but a dab of his courage would do me good.

So here it is. This is one of my many versions of Shakespeare's Tempest. Would I turn it into a film? There are so many flaws with it, from its internal references to more mechanical/practical issues, I feel very few would stay with it, never mind enjoy it. To anyone coming across this, don't feel you have to read it. It's here because I want it to be.

Copyright is also an issue: For this script 'Tempest' copyright, intellectual property and all rights reserved to Debbie Gallagher 2010...excepting those that a certain Master Shakespeare might wangle. I hear he's a shark in court.



Location

The Royal Maudsley Psychiatric Unit, shot of hospital, Close up of a window pane, rain and a woman's face staring out. The rain grows fiercer, no ordinary downpour but a storm beyond the window, beyond the garden and the road, over the city of London and the Thames wild and raging.

Behind the pane is the doctor's study/office, warm, dry, not too clinical. There are hints of the island about it; view may drift across a library with a copy of Shakespeare's Tempest in it. There's an pen stand full of gull feathers on the desk, sea shells on the windowsill. Here Miranda and Prospero speak. There is something strange about them both, a hint of a lost magic.


Miranda: If, by your art you have put the wild waters in this roar, allay them! The sky it seems would pour down stinking pitch but that the sea, mounting to the welkin's cheek, dashes the fire out. I have suffered with those that I saw suffer -

Doctor: I really don't recommend you leaving at this stage...

Miranda: The cry did knock against my very heart! Had I been any god of power I would have sunk

Doctor: We can't make you stay but there are concerns. You could admit yourself, that's bed and food for as long as you need...it's dry too he smiles and we could run more tests.

Miranda: the sea within Turns to face him More tests.

Doctor: Yes. But they don't hurt, you know that.

Miranda: They don't tell you anything. You just want to keep me here.

Doctor: I just wouldn't want you to go out in this weather. Are those all the clothes you own?

Miranda shrugs. She looks out at the city.

Doctor:We could get them clean. Have a bath Miranda. You'd like that wouldn't you? Your coat is still wet from when you arrived.

Miranda: Rain's all right. I like storms.

Doctor: But you know that you are ill. You've been told that before haven't you?

He sits next to her

Doctor: I think you have a condition, it makes things different, harder; and I would like you to consider treatment.

Miranda: Treatment. She empties the pen holder full of feathers into her pocket.

Doctor: The medicine we discussed, yes. But even if you don't agree with me, at least stay where it's dry and safe. For now. Tonight, while the rain lasts. Better than the streets wouldn't you say? Cut to Miranda wandering the streets of the city, as his voice continues over Hmm? She's checking bins etc Where do you sleep? Where do you go?

Miranda: I don't sleep.I go to lots of places. I'm looking.

Doctor: Looking for?

Miranda: I need a boat.

Doctor: We're a bit short of boats in Denmark Hill, Miranda.

Miranda: Well I wouldn't look for a boat in a hospital. LaughsIf you would, maybe you should take a few tests. thunder and rain grows louder

***

Miranda is walking in the rain, through the streets down to the river under the bridges we see a tramp nearby/under bridge watching her. She wanders down to the rivers edge, warms herself at the oil drum. A cormormant fishes in the rain. She sits there watching, her hand reaches under the water and picks up an old doll. She flicks open the doll's eyes and stares intently.

Miranda: Pretty but not from the island.

The Doll: How can you tell?

Miranda: The eyes of course. Throws the doll into the Thames, it sinks and drowns, eyes upon us as the water closes over it

Miranda to tramp: I could tell you the whole thing again.

Tramp: Don't bother, I think you're mental. If your dad's the Duke of Milan, what are you doing here?

Miranda: Trying to get back.

Tramp: To Milan?

Miranda laughs No.

Tramp: The Island. You're on it aren't you?

Miranda shakes her head: Near but not close.

Thunder, lightning, downpour on the banks of the Thames, not a boat in sight. Someone is singing/shouting barely audible on a nearby bridge. In the rain we can just make out the figures got a staff or walking stick in their hands. Perhaps bits and pieces of the below can be heard, or maybe it's just a drunk in the rain, jumping up and down and ranting.

Doctor V/O: I have bedimm'd
The noontide sun, call'd forth the mutinous winds,
And 'twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck'd up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let 'em forth
By my so potent art sound fades out

Miranda: You see? A boat!

Tramp:That's a bloke on a bridge.

Miranda: A spirit do you think?</b>

Tramp: What, Mr Too Stupid To Get Out of the Rain? He's a nutter like you!

Miranda: He's singing a song of the waves, he knows the way. He'll find me a boat.

Tramp: You're on a river, even you could find a boat here. Got any money?

Miranda: shakes her head. No, I'm sorry. Starts to walk away

Tramp: what, nothing? Got to be something, even a bit of change?

Miranda: I haven't got anything.

Tramp Looks round, sees they're alone Go on, give us your watch.

The Tramp grabs her wrist and pulls her towards him

Miranda: You! I knew it!

Tramp:Shut up!

They struggle and fight as they speak.

Miranda: I pitied thee, took pains to make thee speak, when thou didst not, savage, know thine own meaning but wouldst gabble like a thing most brutish I -

Caliban: Shut up!

Miranda: Abhorred Slave!

Caliban: Pitied me? You pitied me?

Miranda: I endowed your purposes!

Caliban: What's my purpose now do you think?

Miranda: Caliban!

Caliban: What's my purpose now?

Miranda: Well it's not my watch is it?

Pulls back her sleeve to reveal no watch. They both half stop, half laugh.

Miranda: I break them. Or lose them.

Caliban: But you never buy them, cos you've got no money. He sits down.
The island, you're always talking about it. We're here. We're on it.

Miranda: No. No, on the island I wasn't mad, and you were stronger.

Caliban: True. Else I'd have people'd this isle with little calibans...

Miranda: It's already peopled. Indicates the river. Look.The man on the bridge sent a boat.

A small cabin cruiser approaches while they watch.

Caliban: I don't know why you're so pleased anyway. Last time you welcomed visitors it spoiled everything .You left and took all the magic with you. Ruined it.

The boat arrives.

Miranda: I'll unruin it, right here in front of you. Sings to herself.

Boatman smiles at them.


Caliban To the boatmanI can't believe you're out in this weather.

Boatman: Never stops me. I like it. You get the river to yourself... it's got its own kind of life, stuff you'd never believe. Years back someone spotted a mermaid, fished it out of the river, turned out to be half a manatee.

Caliban: What's a manatee doing on the Thames?

Miranda: Suffering a sea-change.

Caliban: Far from home and torn in half? No wonder they say mermaids are unlucky.

Boatman: I'm happy with birdwatching. 5000 cormorants spotted on the Thames in 4 years. They like storms.

Doctor's voice over: Reality is a consensus Miranda.

Miranda: I never consented to 5000 cormorants and half a manatee. I'd have remembered.

Caliban: How much for a trip out? She's looking for an island. I know, don't ask.

Boatman looks at them both covered in mud.That'll be a fiver each then. Winter rates.

Miranda: Here's mine. Presents him with coin and walks on to the boat.

Boatman looks at the coin. This isn't proper change!

Miranda: This isn't a proper riverbus. It's your own boat.

Caliban sighs: Would you swap us a lift for a watch? I've got a couple here, surprisingly good quality...

Boatman: No. Get off and take her with you, I'm not having this. Looks at the coin What the hell's a ducat anyway?

Miranda: If you don't do what I say my father will -

Caliban: No he won't.

Boatman: Her father?

Caliban; Don't listen to her.

Miranda: Please, you're doing the trip anyway. If you were getting off here I would understand, but you're just going to be steering this boat in the rain looking for cormorants in their thousands. You could take that ducat to an antique dealer. It's genuine. As he looks at the ducat Very old.

Boatman: All right, just...never mind, I must be mad, just get on, get on. To Caliban as they get on, indicating ducat Is this thing real?

Caliban: It's more real than she is.

They take the boat.

***

Flashback at the hospital

Doctor: What I would like to do is put you on a very light course of medication and see how you get on; Risperidone would be my recommendation, very gentle.

Miranda: Are there side-effects?

Doctor: Yes, all anti-psychotics have some side-effects, but these are marginal, really they are. This particular prescription is so mild it's used on children.

Miranda: I'm not a -

Doctor: I don't mean to imply that you're a child.

Miranda: I'm not a schizophrenic. You know that.

Doctor: It's clear that earlier prescriptions were inappropriate, but we can't ignore diagnosis. You do suffer severe delusional hallucinations Miranda.

Miranda: They'r not delusions or hallucinations. Who are you to say they are?

Doctor: One of us is a doctor.

Miranda: One of us is the Duke of Milan's daughter. It doesn't mean anything. What are those papers you've got?

Doctor: It's your medical history. We need to keep track of what happens to you, so we put all the information in a file.

Miranda: Why?

Doctor: So that mistakes don't get made with medication.

Miranda: Mistakes won't get made if I don't take the medication.

Doctor: You see, Miranda, that's a mistake.

***
Back on the boat

Miranda on the boat as it goes down the Thames: There was an island once, a magical place, full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep
Will make me sleep again;

Caliban: and then in dreaming
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me...

Boatman: This ducat's made of chocolate!

Caliban: If it was so wonderful why did you leave?

Miranda: My father cast a spell over the deep, and over me. He changed me, made me fall in love with a prince. We were all rescued, and the prince took us away in his ship to a great city state, where he made me his queen.

Caliban: And you lived happily ever after.

Miranda; No. It was a mistake. Spells wear off you know. I hated the Brave New World.

Boatman: So go home then.

Miranda: It's not so easy. Nothing looks the same as it did. Everything's so much harder to find...

Boatman: Good. I'd hate to think I was going to all this trouble for the Isle of Wight.

***

Flashback at the hospital

Doctor: Of course I wouldn't section you. You see, that's paranoia, Miranda. It's important that you understand that no-one is trying to hurt you in any way. You can commit yourself of course, and I would certainly recommend it, but no-one can make you stay against your will unless there's evidence of you being a danger -

Miranda: I'm not dangerous!

Doctor: No, not yet. But I cannot stress enough that this condition is chronic. It's never going to go away, indeed, without medication it will most likely deteriorate. You could become a very real danger to yourself and those around you. We can prevent that to some extent. Help bring you back to, well, for want of a better word -

Miranda: A brave new world.

Doctor: I'm not the enemy, Miranda. You could visit a theatre, and enjoy it for what it is. You wouldn't get confused, you wouldn't think you were living it. You'd know it was just a play.

Miranda: I don't get confused.

Doctor Indicates copy of The Tempest An old play. Anyone can read it. Down on the Thames, there are places where it's shown, matinees and evenings. A lovely play, but not real, not your life.

Miranda: You don't know anything about my life.

Doctor: Because you won't share. Maybe you were an actress once?

Miranda: No, you're wrong about me, wrong about waves at the copy that thing.

Doctor: Then how come that I know the ending?

Miranda: Another spell?

Doctor: A what?

Miranda: I should have stopped listening to you a long time ago.

Doctor: I have done nothing but in care of thee.

She runs out of the room

Doctor: Miranda!

His voice follows her as she runs through the hospital halls.

Doctor: Miranda!

***

Back on the boat as the weather worsens

Miranda: I know you I think

Boatman: Do you now?

Miranda: I think you are my father's servant, 12 years imprisoned in clozapine.

Caliban: 'A cloven pine,' Remember?

Boatman: Serves me right for asking. Right, if you're trying to find a floating island on the Thames, best you start concentrating and look out the window. We don't want you to miss it do we?

Caliban: You're humouring her.

Boatman: Seems harmless enough, poor thing.

They sail, the weather gets worse, and the tempest roars over London, the boat is in trouble as waves crash over the bow. The singer on the bridge gets louder:

DoctorV.O from the bridge
I'll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown your book.

We vaguely see the figure drop its staff, which enters the deep, spiralling down....its proportions seem strange to us, and whether it is a staff, the mast of a lost ship or some massive chunk of industrial piping is not clear. Under the water, we see something moving towards it through the water, a shadow that might be the hull of a boat.

Caliban to Boatman To shore, right now, we're in trouble.

Doctor V/O Dost thou forget?

Boatman: No!

Doctor V/O Thou dost! And thinkest it much to tread the ooze of the salt deep, to run upon the sharp wind of the north, to do me business in the veins of the earth!

Boatman: Be quiet!

Caliban: Christ, who are you talking to? You're as bad as she is! Head to shore you stupid -
There's something under the water, for Christ's sake, watch the fucking hull!

Thud as the grinding hit of something, the transformed staff against the hull...and into the hull. The ship tilts and begins to sink.

Boatman: We're hit, we're, fuck, we're -

Caliban: Use the radio!

Boatman: radio bollocks takes out his mobile phone dials 999, waits Hello? London Coastguard please...yes, hello, this is Witch of Argier, we are a
cabin cruiser on the river between Wapping and Greenwich, something's just split our hull, we're taking on water...we're sinking, yes. Position? We're at -

Caliban, looking out of the window, pouring rain obscures everything Can't see a fucking thing. Last thing I saw we were at Colombia Wharf -

Boatman: in phone Colombia Wharf we think - Another grinding roar beneath What the fuck is in the water?

Caliban: Jesus, jesus, fucking jesus, send a signal!

Boatman: A signal? What like a flare? gestures round the tiny cabin Where do you think I'd keep it? They'l be here any minute, they'll be -
Water bursts in.

The boat splits: Underwater shot as they fall through the bottom of the boat, staring up at us, the boatman, mobile leaving his hands as he falls to the deep, Caliban holding Miranda, she twists away, his eyes open and shut as he drowns and she struggles out of his hands while the song below is heard:


V/O singing
Full fathoms five thy father lies
Of his bones are coral made
These are pearls that were his eyes
Nothing of him that doth fade
But suffers a sea change
Into something rich and strange.
The sea nymphs hourly ring his knell.
hark I hear him. Ding dong dell.

The water is full of flotsam and jetsam, newspapers, a book, a staff. Papers, medical notes on a case study, pill bottles. The doll floats by. In the deep they spiral away from us, Caliban, Ariel and Miranda, each of them, drowning, as the song continues. The gentlemen disappear into the depths, Caliban reaches up towards Miranda before he floats into the dark. Miranda moves upward, a sea-change upon her, almost hidden underwater. Close up of her dead face, an eye opens.

Above water we see her clamber onto the remains of the ship and sit there. A watch floats by. she picks it up and clips it onto her wrist. She looks at us.


Miranda : Be Not Afeard.

But we do feel an edgy almost-fear at the crazy woman, with the bodies and ruin all around her in the water. She smiles at us, as the rain finally fills the screen, she slips into the water, we catch an inference of scales/tail where her legs were. A rainbow may trying to form over St Paul's behind her. She swims away.

End

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
abutterflygirl
Mar. 25th, 2011 08:21 am (UTC)
I've read it and now I'm the one that's afraid to comment for fear of not doing it enough justice. I hope that in itself shows you what I think of it. I love it! And I think you'd be surprised how many would stick to it, as for flaws...creases always get ironed out throughout the whole process. Thanks for sharing! You inspire me smokingboot!! xx


p.s. If you notice the edit in my comment, I'm so sorry! Butterfly is hanging her head in shame :-)

Edited at 2011-03-25 10:19 am (UTC)
smokingboot
Mar. 25th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I'm delighted!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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