The Mighty, Roving, Pan-Galactic
Miknik Art Players

A One-Act Play

by Jo Davidsmeyer

Copyright 1997 • All rights reserved

Production History:
  • Reader's Theater version presented by Necronomicon in Tampa, Florida, Saturday, October 9, 1999.
  • Players of Sarasota, Florida presented a staged reading of the play July 27 and Aug 9, 1999 as part of their "Word of Mouth" series
  • A staged reading was presented at Vidcon, Camberly Inn, Tampa Florida, Saturday, July 25, 1998

Cast of Characters

Cast size: flexible. The play contains fifteen speaking roles that can be played by individual actors, or multiply cast to be played by as few as six performers: 3 men, 3 women (or 4 men, 2 women if the MANAGER is played by a man instead of a woman).

The cast portrays the slightly disreputable, always-broke Mighty, Roving, Pan-Galactic Miknik Art Players. They are a down-on-their-luck 23rd century acting troupe. This small company tries to appear as a cast of thousands. What these players lack in talent, they make up in an enthusiasm fueled by desperation -- if they don't attract an audience, they don't eat. The script has the following speaking roles:

  • THE COMPANY MANAGER
  • THE OLD MAN - a font of wisdom for our hero
  • MIKNIK - our hero, a brash youth
  • BUSINESS GIRL - she works at the local Bordello
  • BETTY - proprietor of Betty's Bare Bodkin Bordello
  • A POKER-PLAYING WEASEL
  • THESIA, the one-eyed drug runner, a woman
  • WATER FOUNTAIN
  • THE ATM MACHINE
  • ORVILLE - a doomed accountant
  • GEMIN - a cold woman who runs a local job brokerage
  • SECRETARY to Gemin - a wise-cracking cyberassistant
  • RICH TOURIST - a wealthy woman seeking companionship
  • GLADIATOR
  • and assorted scene changers, pilots, hooded figures, bar patrons

Directors may distribute the roles to tailor the show to their particular cast requirements. With a six-person cast, the following doubling is recommended:

WOMAN 1
  • Betty
  • Water Fountain
  • Pilot 2
  • Pilot 6
  • Gemin
WOMAN 2
  • Working Girl
  • Thesia the one-eyed drug runner
  • Pilot 4
  • Trash Disposer
  • Gladiator
  • Hooded figure (speaking)
  • Secretary
WOMAN 3
  • The Company Manager
  • Doctor
MAN 1
  • Old Man
  • Port Authority storagekeeper
  • Pilot 1
  • Pilot 5
  • Orville
  • a Hooded figure
MAN 2
  • Weasel
  • ATM Machine
  • Pilot 3
  • Orville's zero-g handler
  • Rich Tourist
  • a Hooded figure
MAN 3
  • Miknik
Approximate running time: 25 minutes

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NOTE: This is NOT a complete script! It is only a sample.

Producers and artistic directors of established theaters wishing a perusal copy of the complete script by email should contact Jo Davidsmeyer. To order a complete script to be delivered by mail CLICK HERE.

WARNING: Copyright infringement is illegal. It is an infringement of copyright to give a performance or reading of this play, either in its entirety or in excerpts, without prior written consent of the author. Rights for productions are obtained through the author or her designated agent.

It is also an infringement of copyright to copy all or part of this play by any means, including typewriter, photocopier, fax, and all other means of reproduction, both physical and electronic. It is an infringement of copyright to physically or electronically distribute any part of this play without the consent of the author.

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AT RISE:   The stage is bare. Under the direction of the Company MANAGER, a troupe of actors comes onto stage. She directs them to place a large crate centerstage and to set up costume racks upstage. The other actors carry on all the props and costumes they will use to create the universe of their story. The company is costumed and made up in bright, garish colors -- the brightness poorly conceals the tatters and wear. Some of the props and costumes look as if they were scrounged from the trash. For example: the costume for the actor playing the ATM MACHINE could consist simply of a muffin rack made into a breast plate, attached with string. The actors continue to set up, romp, and harass each other during the Manager's opening speech.
MANAGER:
Welcome ladies, gentlemen, Martians, Venusians, and Rigelians. Oh, and I see we even a have a Cretin in the front row. Welcome. A hearty welcome to all you sentient beings who came up with the price of a ticket. We are the Mighty, Roving, Pan-galactic Miknik Art Players.

COMPANY:
Huzzah!

(They bow for the audience with grand flourish)

MANAGER:
Now in our eighteenth season. You are in for a unique experience tonight. To the best of our knowledge, we are the only traveling entertainers in the 23rd century to present the lost, ancient artform of live theater.

COMPANY:
Huzzah!

MANAGER:
That's right! Live theater with live actors, performing live before your very eyes. There's no cameras.

(Company members mime a camera and the other items the MANAGER mentions.)

COMPANY:
No!

MANAGER:
No holoprojections.

COMPANY:
No!

MANAGER:
No virtual reality headsets.

COMPANY:
No!

MANAGER:
And, do you know why?

A COMPANY MEMBER:
They confiscated our equipment to cover our bills.

MANAGER:
No!

(The same company member turns to audience and mouths "Yes.")

MANAGER (continued):
We have none of that because we want none of that. We are in search of the pure theatrical experience. The same experience enjoyed by the ancients. When people couldn't rely on technology and image inplants to be entertained. Back when people had to use their imaginations to become part of the story.

MIKNIK:
And, for those of you who don't know how to use your imagination, user manuals are for sale in the lobby during intermission.

MANAGER:
We're recreating the art that has entertained across the ages. The magic of Euripides, of William Shakespeare, Anton Chekhov, Tori Spelling!

ANOTHER COMPANY MEMBER:
Hey, we're just trying to get enough cash to get home again.

YET ANOTHER COMPANY MEMBER:
And, necessity being the mother of invention, we learned to act without the technical equipment.

MANAGER:
We have researched deep into the ancient texts. We have immersed ourselves in the lost performing arts. And now, for your unique entertainment pleasure, our humble little troupe brings back into the universe the mystery and excitment of mime . . . (a member performs a brief mime routine) . . . of juggling . . . of contact football!

(Two women grab pompoms and start a cheer as two men run headlong into each other and collapse on the ground)

MANAGER (continued):
All this done in the name of our patron saint, Miknik.

COMPANY:
Praise Miknik!

(The company does their salute to Miknik, which includes a touch to the head, the heart, ending with all pointing to the ground with their other hand over their eyes -- all eyes to the floor)

MANAGER:
He is the saint of debtors, fools, and actors. Most of you probably know him as a folk hero whose exploits are legendary throughout the galaxy. He has inspired legends, songs, and poems.

STILL ANOTHER COMPANY MEMBER:
There once was a pilot named Miknik,
Who the ladies said had quite a thick--

MANAGER:
Whoa! That got us thrown off the last planet. Our first skit is about Miknik. It is entitled . . .

(A kazoo flourish sounds as the cast unfurls a banner reading "Paying Off Elsinor")

COMPANY:
Paying Off Elsinor!

MANAGER:
This takes place during Miknik's early years, before the glory of the Muspel war. When he, too, was down on his luck, and couldn't raise enough money to get himself home again.

(MIKNIK lies down on the ground. The others set the scene.)

OLD MAN:
In these times of darkness, he was often comforted by the words of the Old Man. Words of wisdom that guided him throughout his life.

MANAGER:
Hear the words of the Old Man.

COMPANY:
Praise Miknik!

(They repeat the salute, holding their eyes down and right hand pointed to the floor through the words of the Old Man. The company member playing the OLD MAN quickly dons a gray beard and holds over his head a handpainted sign that says "Old Man")

OLD MAN:
First thing when you walk into a strange place, you notice the floors. Study 'em, memorize 'em. Then, should you ever happen to wake up face down on one, you'll know exactly where you are.

(COMPANY releases the praise stance. The actor playing the Old Man returns into the company.)

MIKNIK:
(Lifting his head from the floor) That's some of the sage advice the old man raised me on. I know, I know. It's pretty stupid. But it came in handy recently. (stands up) Even though I was hung-over from a three-day drunk, cramped from sleeping on the floor, and left with a powerful thirst, with just one eye slitted to the world I knew - Betty's Bare Bodkin Bordello. Purple marblesheen floors with flecks of red imprinted with positions from the Kama Sutra. Yeah, I was in Betty's, all right. One of Betty's girls, the one with the vague personality and prominent overbite, was in the corner munching an apple when I awoke. "Morning," I said, blessing her with my most beguiling smile. She was unimpressed.

BETTY'S GIRL:
Hey Betty! The deadbeat's up!

BETTY:
          (rushes in and smothers MIKNIK in her ample embrace)
Miknik, my little love-muffin, you've been a naughty boy! You've been posted on the debtor's list. It's only out of the goodness of my generous heart that you haven't been incarcerated. Surely you didn't lose everything in that last hand, did you?

MANAGER:
God, what a game! A game that became legendary! A solid week of poker with some of the best players Miknik had ever come up against. Fortunes were lost and won with each hand.

MIKNIK:
It was poker the way God meant it to be.

MANAGER:
In the end, it all came down to one last glorious pot. There was a planet's ransom on that table. The players all had hands they figured couldn't be beat.

MIKNIK:
Who would have thought four sevens could lose?

BETTY:
Not you?

MIKNIK:
I would have bet my life on it.

BETTY:
You did.

MIKNIK:
Huh?

BETTY:
Miknik. You bet everything.

MIKNIK:
Yeah, I kinda recall all my winnings, title to my ship, and even my atmosphere chips thrown into that pot. And that little weasel had a straight flush to the nine.

BETTY:
That beats four sevens?

MIKNIK:
In this galaxy. Damn, it was fine poker! You wait a lifetime for such a game.

BETTY:
And now you're broke.

MIKNIK:
Flat broke, but it was worth it. Hey, I've gone bust before, no big deal.

BETTY:
My poor little idiot. Miknik, you're not planetside. You can't sleep under the stars if you haven't the price of a room, not on a space station. Especially, dearest, not on this one. You're on Elsinor, where the best things in life, including the air, are expensive. Just by breathing you're running up quite a bill. And water? You'll find your thumbprint won't activate the public drinking fountains anymore. No, my dear boy, I'm afraid that here, on Elsinor, poverty is a capital offense.

MIKNIK:
I'll find something. Don't you worry your pretty head.

BETTY:
Miknik, you're a fool. Charming, but still a fool. You owe me for a night's lodging. I've registered the debt in the public records. Nothing personal dear, just business.

MANAGER:
Before leaving, he accepted Betty's offer of breakfast, a shave, and a shower.

BETTY:
All dutifully added to his running tab.

MIKNIK:
Even the use of the john.

MANAGER:
She smothered him with her farewell hug, as if she never expected to see him alive again.

BETTY:
(hugging him)My little fool, if you should use the services of a job agency, you'll find Gemin is less dishonest than most. And please try not to do anything else stupid.

MANAGER:
Miknik figured the smart thing to do then was visit the spaceport.

(Company members hold up a sign saying "SPACEPORT", other members hold little ships in the air and have them coming in for landings.)

MANAGER (continued):
He was wrong. His ship was still there --

MIKNIK: Parked on that boring gray plascrete. From one end of the galaxy to the other, all spaceport floors look alike. And that little weasel had a crew of workmen busy making alterations to my ship.

(A company member gets on his knees and dons a weasel nose. He directs refitting activities.)

MANAGER:
He really is a weasel, literally, which explained all the re-fitting activity; his one meter height didn't allow him access to the control panel.

WEASEL:
Ssso, Meekneek, you are ssstill among living. Surprisssing. But there isss nothing here for you.

MIKNIK:
Actually, there is. I signed over my ship and cargo. My personal belongings weren't part of the bargain. I've come for them.

WEASEL:
Check with port authority. I've already put your things in ssstorage. . .

MIKNIK:
Well, that was real thoughtful of you, friend.

WEASEL:
. . . and I charged cossst to your public debt.

MIKNIK:
Hey, old buddy, until I can settle this little debt thing, could I bunk here on the ship? I could help you get familiar with this old heap's quirks.

(WEASEL yips and hisses, what probably passes for weasel laughter.)

WEASEL:
Meekneek, isss not posssible. Isss law againssst encouraging vagrantsss. You not know?

MIKNIK:
Seems there's quite a bit about Elsinor I've got to learn about.

WEASEL:
Meek, at gaming table you mossst worthy and challenging opponent. But in all other waysss, you ssseem a sssssilly, sssssstupid sssschmuck.

MANAGER:
That seemed to be of the majority opinion. Miknik left without another word.

(The company stops enacting a Spaceport and move into position to be the port authority, water fountain, and ATM machine.)

MIKNIK:
Hell, let the weasel discover for himself that the life-support tends to kick off in hyperspace. That's what he gets for ripping out my special-order simulated 20th-century Congoleum.

FEMALE COMPANY MEMBER:
Miknik went to claim his things from storage --

(MIKNIK goes to a table that has suddenly appears centerstage where a man stops him from going any further. MIKNIK is handed a computer reading palette.)

FEMALE COMPANY MEMBER (continued):
-- only to find that they had been impounded until his debt was covered. They did let him check the storage manifest.

MIKNIK:
At least my poker buddy was an honest weasel, everything seems to be there.

SECOND FEMALE COMPANY MEMBER:
But Miknik was beginning to worry about his rising public debt.

FIRST FEMALE COMPANY MEMBER:
About damn time, too.

(MIKNIK walks up to a company member who holds a sign reading 'Water Fountain' over his head. The WATER FOUNTAIN holds a squirt bottle, steadily shooting streams of water up in the air. When Miknik tries to lean over the stream for a drink, the water stops flowing.)

WATER FOUNTAIN:
Uh-uh.
          (MIKNIK presses the nose of the WATER FOUNTAIN.)
I said Uh-uh!
          (Whisks bottle out of his reach)

SECOND FEMALE COMPANY MEMBER:
The water fountains no longer worked for him, but the ATM machines did.

(Another company member appears next to the water fountain, holding a sign that reads "ATM machine" over his head.)

ATM MACHINE:
Uh-huh.

(Miknik presses the actor's nose and the ATM unrolls a long list, which MIKNIK reads.)

MANAGER:
In less than a day, Miknik had run up a tab of over 200 marks. He was glad to see that Betty had generously charged him the non-deluxe room fee and discount rates for the waste-recycling.

MIKNIK:
But, boy, these trips to the public johns are expensive! Almost as bad as Elsinor's air consumption charges.

MANAGER:
The most worrisome thing about the list of charges was the section of fine-print notes at the bottom.

ATM Machine
Note 1: Interest is accumulated at the rate of 5%, calculated daily on total outstanding balance. Note 2: Air consumption is adjusted by individual's height and weight with additional adjustments made for estimated sleep periods. Note 3: Should debt to any creditor reach 1000 marks, Elsinor Authority maintains the right to discharge the debt by . . .

COMPANY:
any available means.

MIKNIK:
Any available means?

ATM Machine:
That's what it says.

MIKNIK:
Okay, okay. Can I have hard copy, please.

ATM MACHINE
Okay.
          (ATM MACHINE hands paper to MIKNIK)
Two new charges added. Quarter mark for the printout, and one mark for the access time.

MIKNIK:
I finally began to realize how deep I was in it. Then I remembered another of the old man's sayings.

COMPANY:
Here the words of the Old Man (they do the salute).

OLD MAN:
It's always darkest before the dawn, unless you're in a well-lit bar.

. . . end of play excerpt

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All rights whatsoever in this play are strictly reserved. Professional and amateur applications to perform it, etc., must be made in advance, before rehearsals begin. For further information, email Jo Davidsmeyer at "writer" at the URL of jodavidsmeyer.com

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