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
(They bow for the audience with grand flourish)
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.
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.)
No virtual reality headsets.
And, do you know why?
A COMPANY MEMBER:
They confiscated our equipment to cover our bills.
(The same company member turns to audience and mouths "Yes.")
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.
And, for those of you who don't know how to use your imagination, user manuals are for
sale in the lobby during intermission.
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
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
(Two women grab pompoms and start a cheer as two men run headlong into each other
and collapse on the ground)
All this done in the name of our patron saint, 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)
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,
STILL ANOTHER COMPANY MEMBER:
There once was a pilot named Miknik,
Who the ladies said had quite a thick--
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
Paying Off Elsinor!
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.)
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.
Hear the words of the Old Man.
(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")
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
(COMPANY releases the praise stance. The actor playing the Old Man returns into the
(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.
Hey Betty! The deadbeat's up!
(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?
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.
It was poker the way God meant it to be.
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.
Who would have thought four sevens could lose?
I would have bet my life on it.
Miknik. You bet everything.
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.
That beats four sevens?
In this galaxy. Damn, it was fine poker! You wait a lifetime for such a game.
And now you're broke.
Flat broke, but it was worth it. Hey, I've gone bust before, no big deal.
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.
I'll find something. Don't you worry your pretty head.
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.
Before leaving, he accepted Betty's offer of breakfast, a shave, and a shower.
All dutifully added to his running tab.
Even the use of the john.
She smothered him with her farewell hug, as if she never expected to see him alive again.
(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.
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.)
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
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.
Ssso, Meekneek, you are ssstill among living. Surprisssing. But there isss nothing here
Actually, there is. I signed over my ship and cargo. My personal belongings weren't part
of the bargain. I've come for them.
Check with port authority. I've already put your things in ssstorage. . .
Well, that was real thoughtful of you, friend.
. . . and I charged cossst to your public debt.
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.)
Meekneek, isss not posssible. Isss law againssst encouraging vagrantsss. You not know?
Seems there's quite a bit about Elsinor I've got to learn about.
Meek, at gaming table you mossst worthy and challenging opponent. But in all other waysss,
you ssseem a sssssilly, sssssstupid sssschmuck.
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.)
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
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.
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
(MIKNIK presses the nose of
the WATER FOUNTAIN.)
I said Uh-uh!
(Whisks bottle out of his
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.)
(Miknik presses the actor's nose and the ATM unrolls a long list, which MIKNIK
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
But, boy, these trips to the public johns are expensive! Almost as bad as Elsinor's air
The most worrisome thing about the list of charges was the section of fine-print notes at
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
. . .
any available means.
Any available means?
That's what it says.
Okay, okay. Can I have hard copy, please.
(ATM MACHINE hands paper to
Two new charges added. Quarter mark for the printout, and one mark for the access time.
I finally began to realize how deep I was in it. Then I remembered another of the old
Here the words of the Old Man (they do the salute).
It's always darkest before the dawn, unless you're in a well-lit bar.
. . . end of play excerpt
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