Writing on the Wall

When I was in high school, I worked crew for a musical called Philemon (I actually auditioned and didn’t get cast). The show is about a Greek street performer and con man who takes the place of a Christian underground preacher in order to sell out the resistance to the Romans, and winds up keeping the role and the Christians’ secrets, even though it results in his death. There are two “songs” from the show that really stuck with me.

One was called “Sometimes,” and although it has a musical component, the meat of it is a monologue delivered by a young man named Andos. From memory (since I can’t find a full-text online):

On a day that seems like any other, you find yourself, outside, in the sunlight saying, “No. You can’t do this. This is not what human beings do…. I see the children huddled in the darkness. I see the bodies stacked like firewood. And I say: There is more than this. There must be more than this.”

I really wish I could remember the whole thing. I never had a script, and it’s damned difficult to find online (I’ve tried unsuccessfully). But the monologue always brought tears to my eyes, particularly since Andos is whipped to death right after delivering it. It resonates with me because this is a man (young man, only 18, with a baby son) who dies wishing, hoping, for something better. But it’s not like he’s hoping that the rains will come and water crops or that the blizzard will finally let up or the plague will pass by. The death and oppression he’s dealing with are perpetrated on him by the people around him, and they could choose to just stop.

The other bit from the show I like is delivered by a Roman solider named Servillus (played, when I was involved in the show in high school, by my best friend Mike). Again, from memory:

“Antioch prison: Already ancient in an ancient time. The walls are tomblike, wet…what do they say, these desperate writings on the walls?”

Mother.

“That’s probably the most common. Sometimes they’re pious, sometimes they’re defiant, and sometimes…simply human.”

My name is Ephemera. I’m 21 years old. I have two children, two children two and four. But they were taken away last week and sent to different camps. I die tomorrow, but I do not wish to live without my children.

I’m forgetting bits, but hopefully you see what I mean. One of the bits that I wrote early on for curse the darkness was this:

I lost my aunt my uncle three cousins and my father
Where was the UN where was the USA where was anyone?

The answer, of course, was that they were all already dead. But we didn’t know that then.

We all had questions.

I like the idea of graffiti being one major means of expression of outrage in the world of curse the darkness. It’s why there’s a little tag of “JESUS SAVES” in our ad. In the finished book, I think we’ll have some of the art be spraypainted messages to Him, statements of defiance, acquiescence, and simply humanity.

If you want to see a little of what I’m talking about, go to Pictures of Walls and look around a while. Some of it’s funny, some of it’s sad, some of it is stupid, and some of it is simply human.

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2 responses to “Writing on the Wall

  1. That sounds awesome. I’ve always been a big fan of what I guess you could call spontaneous communications, grapevines, graffiti, now social media (although those are getting less genuinely spontaneous by the day I think)…and where there’s anonymity, as in graffiti when the writer/artist wishes to be anonymous, there is also startling honesty. 🙂

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