A Cino Play – “The Warhol Machine” by Robert Patrick
A play of conquest and surrender
For five players
Cast: Haal Borske, Magie Domininc, Donald Kvares, Anne Sachs (Marcie Mornel), Robert Shields.
Directed by Theodore Mornel.
Poster by Kenny Burgess.
Photo by James D. Gossage.
HERO: Well, I’m damned; I go off and fight a war for our beliefs and I come back and find out you’ve betrayed them. What have you got to say for yourselves now?
HERO: I said, Well, I’m damned. I go off and fight a war for our beliefs and I come back and find out that you’ve betrayed them and I say “Well, I’m damned; I go off and fight a war for our beliefs and I come back and find out you’ve betrayed them. What have you got to say for yourselves now?” and you say “What?” I’m damned.
GIRL: No, no, you’ve won the war; the war is over, and we’re saved. Let’s say a prayer in thanks for your return.
MOTHER: – and for the souls of all those poor enemies we killed –
HERO: Poor? We?
BUD: Poor them.
MOTHER: – to the Warhol Machine.
HERO: The Warhol Machine, the Warhol Machine. All over the walls, all over the papers all over the country, the Warhol Machine,
MOTHER: All over the world –
MOTHER: Now that the war is over, our beliefs are all over the world –
HERO: Our beliefs are all over, all right –
GIRL: No, they’re not all over. Half the world still labors under others.
HERO: I fight against tyranny and I come back to find a tyranny –
GIRL: Not a tyranny.
MOTHER: Everyone voted for them –
MOTHER, GIRL, AND BUD: Everyone. Everyone. Everyone.
HERO: We’re under mob-rule.
GIRL: I don’t understand…
HERO: I don’t understand. It’s as if the war were still on. We fought those stupid people to make them have a free election instead of the tyranny under which they were buckling. Day and night for years we killed them, and still they kept coming like characters in a dirty book. We fought their oppressors to make them free and then we had to fight them to make them free! They were so short that when we’d attack them from all directions we’d sometimes shoot over their heads and be shooting each other to make them free. At last they ran out of ammunition and lined up like pygmies to have a “flee erection” – as they called it – and they voted the same party back into power. We had to bomb them. They were tough. Finally we had to bomb each one of them separately. The ones we couldn’t reach to bomb starved to death on high pedestals of earth in the middle of the bomb craters. The last one I saw was still waving the Communist flag at us. It didn’t make sense. How could one man be a communist? He was lost.
BUD: He could be one with the Universe . . .
HERO: I suppose under the Warhol Machine he’s encouraged to spout that nonsense.
MOTHER: Please, son. We try to indulge him. After all, he has nothing. It was to you we gave everything. The attention, the encouragement, the strict rules, the impossible examples up to which to live, the undeserved love, all that we had to give…
HERO: And then you betrayed me…
MOTHER: We gave you everything…
GIRL: And now you’re back in the home you fought to keep free.
HERO: And you’ve sold it to the Warhol Machine. Oh, Mother, how could you?
MOTHER: They’re the strongest party. I wanted the country to be strong.
GIRL: They want to go to the moon!
HERO: I’m all for it, for them.
MOTHER: Well, they can’t go without Government money!
BUD: To the moon…
HERO: See, only lunatics want to go to the moon.
MOTHER: People need something to believe in.
HERO: You used to believe in me…
GIRL: And you proved us right. Oh, darling, why can’t you just relax now.
HERO: How can I? We used to be one nation, indivisible, under God. Now we’re one nation invisible under the Warhol Machine!
GIRL: What’s the difference?
HERO: I’m a fighter! I’ve always fought. (To Mother) I fought with you, I fought with Bud, I fought with the team at school – I mean along with the team at school – (to Girl) I fought with you, darling –
GIRL: But that’s all over, now.
HERO: So what am I to do?
GIRL: Enjoy the freedom you fought for. Didn’t you fight to be free?
HERO: And so what now? Now I’m free to be fought by the Warhol Machine?
MOTHER: 0h, son, we were so happy to have you home.
BUD: I wrote a poem…
HERO: Look what he’s become. First it was cars. Then it was girls. Then it was bumming around the country. Then it was rebellion. Then it was drugs and religions. And now poetry. He had no fight in him, just went along with the crowd. Would you rather I’d been like him?
MOTHER: Well, he needed more, because he had nothing.
HERO: And we had so much…
GIRL: And we still have it. Only now we have unanimity.
MOTHER: It was the first election where everyone voted for one party.
HERO: Who did he vote for? (Pointing at Bud)
MOTHER: He didn’t vote.
GIRL: But a vote for nothing was a vote for the Warhol Machine.
HERO: Who else ran?
BUD: I didn’t run, I just didn’t vote. Won’t you hear my poem?
HERO: If you say it, I will.
BUD: “Don’t throw away the clock.
Time is there after you kill the clock.
The clock was all that told you where it was.
A man walks alone if he walks out of time.
We’re born in time to live in time.
We consume time
and pass time.
We tell time
and make time
and give time.
We buy time.
If we are wise, we read time.
So don’t waste your time.
If you kill the clock
You’re only killing time.”
HERO: What in the world was that?
BUD: I was speaking of the very deepest nature of the Universe.
HERO: But our problems aren’t that basic. We’ve only got one problem. The Warhol Machine.
MOTHER: If you had another, would you forget that one?
GIRL: Darling, marry me. You must marry me.
HERO: Why, are you going to have a baby?
GIRL: If you want me to. Marry me. Marry me and let’s settle down right here.
MOTHER: Don’t leave us, son.
HERO: Mother, I must. I must go and seek the Warhol Machine and destroy it, and make you all free.
MOTHER: We don’t want to be free!
HERO: You let me fight for a freedom, you didn’t want?
MOTHER: Oh – yes – we want freedom. But freedom under the Warhol Machine.
HERO: There is no freedom under the Warhol Machine.
MOTHER: 0ooooooooooh. You confuse me.
HERO: Goodbye, Mother. Goodbye, dearest. Bud, will you come with me?
HERO: To the Warhol Machine.
BUD: How can I?
HERO: Don’t you believe in anything?
HERO: Adieu… Remember me kindly.
MOTHER: Then be kindly. Son, son, don’t go!
GIRL: Think of the children.
HERO: War isn’t for children.
MOTHER: Son, I want you here. The hardest part of these last few years has been not to have you here. All our hopes, all our dreams, everything we ever wanted, is in you. Your father disappeared into you completely. If you go now, then everything goes with you. Everything that has never existed, you take with you.
HERO: You mean everything that has ever existed.
MOTHER: Ever, never, what’s the difference? Stay with us. We could stand it when we thought you might be killed, but if you go after the Warhol Machine, you’re sure to win, and then you’ll be away and not even dead, and we’ll have no son at all.
HERO: You have him. (Indicating Bud)
MOTHER: He’s not my son, he’s only your brother.
HERO: No, mother, that won’t stop me. I’m too used to being away.
MOTHER: 0h, curse the wars and factions and all the split parties of the world that make a son able to do without his mother. And bless the Warhol Machine.’
MOTHER: Yes, bless it. For having almost won!
HERO: Aha! I see it now. Oh, God, you love it! That’s why you want to stop me! You said you thought I’d beat it. You’ve betrayed me deeper than I thought. You even pretended the love for me that you’ve really given to it — in order to keep me here!
MOTHER: No, my love for you is real. No mother can touch a son she loves. If I didn’t love you, I’d grab you now and hold you here. I’d show you. (She takes her rolling pin and hits at him. Her blows strike a foot away with a terrible clang. She drops the rolling pin and beats at the invisible shield with her fists. She collapses and embraces the area around him.)
I am ashamed I am crying.
I am ashamed I am a mother.
I am ashamed I love my son.
I am ashamed I hate him.
I am ashamed I raised him.
I am ashamed I failed him.
I am ashamed I cannot stop him.
I am ashamed I am ashamed.
HERO: You see, mother? You can’t stop me.
MOTHER: Because I love you.
GIRL: Because she loves you.
BUD: She loves you.
HERO: No. Because you know I’m right.
BUD: And because you are right, we must all be left.
GIRL: Bud, stop him.
BUD: I’m too tired.
MOTHER: Darling, stop him, stop him. Only you can.
GIRL: Darling, come. Hold me. Take me. Stay with me. Forget other people. Forget the world. For their sake. For its sake. For your sake and for mine. Stay here. Whatever it is you want out there, I can give it to you. If you want fights, then I will give you quarrels. If you want adventure, I will give you mysteries. If you want power, I will give you children. But stay, stay, we love you. If you want fame, we will speak of nothing but you, even to the neighbors, even to each other. But stay.
HERO: No, no. You don’t understand me. You make me sound like the Warhol Machine. The Warhol Machine wants power and pleasure. I only want my home and my rights. The Warhol Machine wants what it can get. I want what’s coming to me. The Warhol Machine loves to use force. I’ve been driven to it. The Warhol Machine wants your brainless devotion. I want you to trust me.
MOTHER: But you can’t defeat it. It will destroy you.
HERO: How can it? Why should I be afraid of the Warhol Machine? I’ve got a whole war machine that’s been trained to follow me. I’m not a hero for nothing,
GIRL: Please, stay (She embraces him.)
HERO: Aha! Once again I’ve caught you in a lie. You see, Mother? She can touch me, and she loves me . . . She loves me. Doesn’t she?
BUD: Don’t ask questions. They can be answered.
HERO: What would you know?
MOTHER: Son, my son. Don’t go. There is no reason for you to go.
HERO: No reason? With a mother who betrays me and a girl who doesn’t love me? No reason? There is every reason. You have given me the final reason.
MOTHER: We always gave you everything.
HERO: You gave me lies and false security.
MOTHER: We always gave you everything.
GIRL: His mother – you can’t let him go.
HERO: (ro Mother) You have given me the final reason to go. The Machine that took you from me – even my dearly beloved brother from me – must be sought out and destroyed. I must go.
MOTHER: There is no reason for you to go. (She opens the TV and the Warhol Machine enters.) The Warhol Machine is here.
HERO: What. Here. In my own home. Traitors, (Raises gun)
GIRL: No, no, you mustn’t. (Girl throws herself before machine)
HERO: Darling, watch out. I can’t keep myself from firing!
HERO: You touched him! (Fires, Girl falls.)
BUD: She’s dead.
HERO: (To Warhol Machine) You killed her.
MOTHER: She gave herself.
HERO: (To Warhol Machine) She gave herself to you!
BUD: The girl you loved.
HERO: l could never love anyone who would do that. (To everyone, ending with The Warhol Machine) You, you, YOU twisted her mind and deluded her into it.
WARHOL MACHINE: You need me even to let you love your love.
HERO: I’ll kill you for her. (Mother stands between son and Machine) Mother!
MOTHER: No, son.
HERO: Mother, what are you doing?
BUD: She’s protecting him.
HERO: I can see that. Come away, I’ll nip this in the (Bud stands between Son and Warhol Machine) – Bud, get out of the way of the bullets. (He pushes Bud away. Mother steps back before WM)
MOTHER: Son, you force me to this!
HERO: Mother, why?
MOTHER: A person has to have someone to love.
HERO: But him?
MOTHER: No, you! But a person must be loved, too.
HERO: By him?
MOTHER: He loves me. He loves us. His dreams are in us as ours are in you!
HERO: And you want to be loved by him?
MOTHER: No! But if you kill him, then sooner or later we’ll have to ask you for
love, and you have none to give.
HERO: He’s drugged you! Move.
HERO: Then if I can’t move you I’ll shoot around you. He’s bigger than both of us.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: Why do you want to kill me? I love you.
HERO: Love me. Ah. Tell that to them.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: I love him.
MOTHER AND BUD: We know.
HERO: Don’t. I know what you want. You want to rule, Redddddddddd . . . .
THE WARHOL MACHINE: And if you kill me—
THE WARHOL MACHINE: –if you shoot me from a box while I stand on stage—
THE WARHOL MACHINE: Or shoot me from a passing car while I stand working in a sixth-story window—
THE WARHOL MACHINE: –if you shoot me—
THE WARHOL MACHINE: –then who will rule?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: You?
HERO: No! I don’t want to rule.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: I know. If you did, you would.
(Mother grabs gun and holds it against her breast)
MOTHER: Son, you can only kill him through me.
BUD: And me. I’m next.
HERO: Oh, No, no (Pinches himself) Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. (Winds up pinching his fingers with each other)
THE WARHOL MACHINE: But I thought you were stronger than that.
MOTHER: Son, son, understand … accept… Don’t ask how or why.
BUD: Or where.
HERO: Who are you? That you can do this to them?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: A new question!
HERO: I don’t understand.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: And out of your misunderstanding you have made a new question. A million years of men, fighting the Warhol Machine, asked “How,” and discovered all man’s crafts, and men moved into their “Hows” which became houses, and there they were paralyzed, for there is no end to asking “How,” until the next brave man asked “Why?” And a million men asked “Why” and became “Whys” and the wise looked out of the houses again and life was lived again, but there is no end to asking “Why” and no end to the darkness they looked into, and they burned “Whiches” and made light of them, and then someone asked “Where,” and men moved as they had never moved before. “Hows” had made doctors, carpenters, inventors and politicians who built the world where scientists, philosophers, poets, and saints asked “Whys,” that drove men like your brother to ask “‘Wheres” and become musicians, explorers, seducers, mechanics, tourists – lookers into their senses and the senses of others, and finally, because they “Where” out so quickly, they were reduced to mere racketeers and rocketeers, and we thought that man was frozen on the moon – but now! Now the newly risen sun asks ‘”Who” and we reflect back on him “Who”-rays
THE WARHOL MACHINE: Whom is where the heart is.
THE WARHOL MACHINE, MOM, AND BUD: Ray! Ray!
HERO: Don’t blind me with your rays. Answer me. Who is the Warhol Machine?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: Who are you asking?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: And who am I?
HERO: You are – the Warhol Machine!
THE WARHOL MACHINE: A circle. At last, another circle, thoughts moving in an endless ring, again creating energy and excitement to run the Warhol Machine for another million years.
HERO: From another senseless murder.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: No, the same old martyr. Love. Hang her there, to honor the new human hero – the man who asks who? The assassin, the underground, the private eye, the gossip columnist, the new builders of the culture, driven to avoid her death again.
HERO: Then who?
WARHOL MACHINE: Who?
BUD: Who what? Where? When? Why?
HERO: Who can I kill?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: The Warhol Machine!
HERO: Who is the Warhol Machine?
THE WARHOL MACHINE, MOTHER, AND BUD: Who!
HERO: (points gun at The Warhol Machine) You!
THE WARHOL MACHINE: l am chosen by those who will not choose.
HERO: (Points gun at Bud) You!
BUD: I did not choose.
HERO: (points gun at Mother) You!
MOTHER: I wanted your’ happiness. What choice did I have?
HERO: (points gun at himself) Me? But I tried to do what you wanted. It’s a vicious circle – with no one vicious in it… But I can kill us all!
THE WARHOL MACHINE: And if you do, then it will be someone else.
HERO: What will?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: The Warhol Machine.
HERO: And what is The Warhol Machine?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: You think that’s another new question. But it’s not. It’s the oldest one!
HERO: Then answer it!
THE WARHOL MACHINE: The Warhol Machine is – the answer to that question.
HERO: Which is – ?
BUD & MOTHER: The War –
THE WARHOL MACHINE: If you die, you’ll die not knowing and it may still go on.
BUD & MOTHER: -hol Machine.
HERO: I can’t take this anymore. I’ll go insane.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: Oh, no, you will never go mad.
BUD: It’s not an easy place to get to
THE WARHOL MACHINE: No one knows what the Warhol machine is. We only know what it does.
BUD & MOTHER: (To Son) Ask him what. (To Warhol Machine) Tell him what.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: The Warhol Machine is what gives the answer.
HERO: What is the answer?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: No. “What” is the question. And Why and How and Where and even Who are the questions . . .
HERO: What does it do? What does it do to make you all protect it?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: It is designed to give an answer – to kill a what. A million-billion-kill-a-what’s of power that must be paid for by devotion to the machine.
HERO: And if I won’t pay?
THE WARHOL MACHINE: You will be left in the dark – the dark that starts where the Warhol Machine ends. Oh, you can’t con Edison.
HERO: An answer – you said – an answer.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: Yes, my son, my father, my brother.
HERO: Answer me.
THE WARHOL MACHINE: We know the Warhol Machine exists – peace and sanity and rest exist- because we see that its opposite exists – the Whole War Machine – the machine that kills, that only asks how to kill and why to kill and where and who to kill. The Warhol Machine is the thing we must find to stop the Whole War Machine –
HERO: An answer – –
THE WARHOL MACHINE: The Warhol Machine is the end of war, because it always comes with the end of war.
WARHOL MACHINE: It doesn’t matter what people believe as long as they all believe
the same thing.
WARHOL MACHINE & BUD: It doesn’t matter what people believe – as long as they all believe the same thing.
WARHOL MACHINE & BUD & MOTHER: It doesn’t matter what people believe – as long as they all believe the same thing.
(They repeat this litany over and over as the Hero falls to his knees weeping and the lights dim.)
1837 N. Alexandria Ave.
L.A. CA 90027