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Texas Triptych
Ali Dipp (BFA PT 2022)


Introduction

‘If a river could speak...What would it say? And furthermore, how would we hear it?’ This piece is a window, painting, and portal into the many voices that converge in our Southwestern borderland.

This introduction includes a set of suggestions to coax a river, the Río Grande, into speech. While the stage uses language, humans as they stand between rivers, embankments, and regions, tell the story of the place between people.

As it contributes to the ever-evolving stage, Texas Triptych meditates on changing tradition. Set on a fringe, this is a play devoted to mavericks. Texas Triptych confronts conventions by breaking and reforming meaning over and once again. As so, this piece
examines the proximity between two words: bounds and boundless. Between these two words exists a paradox of how we commit to our medium over time, history, and an unbeknownst future. How does this work inform what came before? What ramifications are to follow? With a threshold as probing, we can humor the theatre’s use of metaphor
and its serious play. Hopefully, in time, the limits, both reconsidered and kept, can bring to light a ‘playful’ play.

In this work, there are fecund borders:

Freedom’s bounds: What definitions are ramparts, what walls are bridges? How does each player find their emancipation? What unexpected matrimony reveals itself between freedom and bondage?

Metaphorical bounds: This play confronts allegorical traditions. Characters symbolize forces that govern the borderland environment, breaking interior situations and forming larger stances. With this in mind, the play asks its ensemble to find what is personal to each character. In the balance between broad symbolism and considered specificity, the actors make myth out of individual truth.

Dialogue (a)bound: The piece expands across rivers, houses, rooms, people, and times. Lines refer and converse beyond intimate and domestic space in this play. The player gets to decide who will receive their line in its path of travel. Participants are encouraged to perform the dialogue as open and intentional as possible.

Stage bounds: Throughout the lines, parentheses imply a choice delegated to the player. Exercising impermanence on both ends, the player and script can change. Only when declaring, and taking a side, can the potential of language take form. It is imperative to note that there is a heavy emphasis on wordplay in this script. As on the frontera, humor and sadness collide in perpetuity. Perhaps the distance between ‘hysterical’ and ‘hysteria’ can serve as a concept to humor.


Player List:

TIERRA: The matriarch that is both everything and nothing. She is as undefinable as a river, as crucial as water.

SOL: An older sister. She questions the many definitions of freedom in the words ‘bound(less)’. Throughout the play, she writes a theory on time.

LUNA: Her younger sister in fraught fidelity with Bull Rider

MOTHER: The two sisters’ earthly matriarch.

BULL RIDER: A dreamer without feet and gambler of words, hopes, and ideas. He is Luna’s partner.

SHADOW: Two performers orchestrating the music and conducting a shadow puppet show.


An excerpt Texas Triptych (Act Two, Moonrise):

BULL RIDER
When you look at the moon from the ground, you try to chase it with your car, to meet it in orbit. A fool can only cherish what betrays him in the night passage.

SOL
What the wind feels like. Tombs rest without air.

TIERRA
Tombs rest without air. A permanence we once had. But as the terrain, I can’t show mercy for my dweller. It would be a paralyzing declaration. I would have to retire. And work is never done in this shifting cycle.

SOL and BULL RIDER
Why can’t you?

TIERRA
I have always been as restless and itching as a scorpion bite. Tombs rest without air.

LUNA
This time I am not running away. I am retracing. I can’t write what has been hammered into stone. But now and forever is a thin paper. As open as the sky in June—an empty unforeseen.

BULL RIDER
What makes this any different than what you have already done to us all?

TIERRA
You have sought life in the vessel of my valley. The arroyo must evolve again. And so, must you.

ALL
Turning, turning, towards the spinning irrational.

SOL
Why can’t you? Wait? That’s all I’ve done.

TIERRA
If I do, the fall will never end. I would turn into no man’s land.

SOL
But if you leave again, you can only be a nomad’s land.

TIERRA
Decaying with the seasons. Swelling with the summer. Sitting and lying between the ebbing, the swelling.

(A beat of undisturbed silence.)

ALL EXCEPT TIERRA
Sometimes when you look outside in the dark time, it can look like a sea separates you from the mountains.

BULL RIDER AND SOL
There is a nothingness resting between the now and the forgotten.

SOL
Only lies between, as it only lies within the in-between.

TIERRA
This vastness holds a previous eternity. I must walk towards the shadows.

SOL
If you leave this land, we will be nothing but a territory severed in half. A stitched abrasion without a heart’s blood.

TIERRA
Before me, there were many earths. I am only the fifth. You see, all worlds must know that they were born to die. A martyr cannot love in the wake of closure. That is betrayal.

SOL
Betrayal is here. More abandoning.

TIERRA
Betrayal, abandonment, the weight of trespassing waters. We are sisters. Vessels who break in the heat of hush.

(Sol memorizes her next four lines so she can walk across the bridge)

SOL
Must all sisters turn their backs?

TIERRA
It is our inheritance. Before us, mothers learned that rain heals the damage inflicted by rocks.

SOL
What came before you? Who is your mother?

TIERRA
I am the fifth world. At the end of every earth, a party commemorates the ground. And the world dies in a final flame. Tossing towards the sky. Like an agave extending its arm to the heavens before collapse.

MOTHER AND SOL
Where is life before this?

SOL
Maybe it came long before our mother knew what she looked like. Before even the soil made ground, composing country.

LUNA
She sounds like a god.

SOL
But you are not a god, so incapable of feeling ground.

TIERRA
No, I am under all paths and cuts in the crust of this earth. Tremors...my breath is all but the traveler’s thunder.

SOL
Why satisfy the moving walker? Why not the loyal here? As I wait.

TIERRA
I have to withstand the comfort of staying. My channels are being kept by weight.

LUNA
When you contain the air, it just becomes stale. Tomb without air.

BULL RIDER
It’s a pity men give an oath to an orbiting moon. Gliding across the sky, no intent to ever touch.

TIERRA AND LUNA
I would. In another time, or maybe life, I could.

SOL
Your departure will ring with an arrival.

TIERRA
Birth begins in death, remember that always, my Sol.

SOL
If you cannot be my mother, then to what land do I belong?

TIERRA
No man’s land...nomad’s land.

SOL
Can the air be the land? Can the water be the air? Where can I drink water, when the arroyo is the emptied drought house?

TIERRA
These questions I cannot answer when gone. You will have to ask them to the sky of a place beyond this soil.

SOL
What does your crack after the earthquake tell?

TIERRA
It speaks a different language from your tongue.

LUNA
We just speak different languages. In the lapse between words, peace doesn’t come. Not within this silence.

BULL RIDER
This silence, a void. In it, an absence. We have to remember, even in the broken tongue, there can be a whole ground.

(MOTHER looks at the clock.)

MOTHER
How long has this clock been broken?

SOL
I forgot the time.

MOTHER
Go get a new one before Luna comes.

TIERRA
An arrow through space, time cannot reverse.

SOL
How do we collect the period lost?

LUNA
When you have lost, you can’t look back, so our salt myth goes.

TIERRA
Into the waters, the still river travelers. They can’t see a bank, no markings recalled after the flood.

LUNA
In this distance, there is something we have known. Only in this miscommunication can there be a language shared.

BULL RIDER
It’s understood now.

TIERRA
When you put oil into the water of my river, you cannot take back what you threw. It expands into and through my body, and soon enough, what was added becomes a part of my blood.

LUNA
When you throw a penny into a fountain, and it overflows...

BULL RIDER
There’s no turning back.

ALL
Like the threat of becoming a pillar of salt, we have all to lose.

MOTHER
When turning back.

(LUNA turns back to BULL RIDER, lights change to blue. BULL RIDER sits on the
chair. LUNA follows and rests her head on his lap.)

BULL RIDER
We had to go through troubled rivers to find this?

LUNA
A tremor in the earthquake.


Making metaphors and pursuing paradigms between theater,
writing, and visual arts, Ali Dipp believes in bridges.