Joseph P. DiMino
9020 N. 11th Place
Phoenix Arizona, 85020
Copyright by Joe DiMino,
who retains all reproduction rights.
ACT THREE: Architects continued:
A church in New York City, under construction, on the Upper East Side of the city. A lot of activity. It is being built in the tradition of the great Gothic Cathedrals, a project in progress for the past 50 years. All the stones are painstaking cut by hand. All the figures on the marble friezes have been meticulously fashioned by master and apprentice stonecutters. It is a monumental task that has utilized many professionals and volunteers.
DONOVAN is in a room somewhere in the interior of the church. He is working on a drawing at a table in the center of the room. The table is long and wide. Obviously it is a large work. With many aspects to it.
(DONOVAN):(Talking to himself:)
"No! No! That will not do!"
(He erases. Redraws.)
"My Christ must embody the spirit of love--
in such a way--
that even in his poised, outstretched hand
there must be a sense of divine activity--
a sense of divine blossoming...."
(After several more adjustments with his pen, he
"Yes! Yes! That's more like it!"
His room is sparsely furnished. A small table for eating. Basic cot for sleeping. On the cold, stone walls are hung drawings of various aspects of the cathedral. Obviously he has been helping with its construction. There is a small, electric heater...the room is quite damp. Donovan is wearing a heavy frock which he buttons to the very top of the neckline. He shivers...moves about coldly as he works. He pauses, goes over to the heater and fusses with dials, making certain it is still operating.
(He walks back to his drawing table...and as he settles into his art he begins to sing:)
'What power has brought me here?
Interrupted such a promising career--
power or quirk of ill fate
has driven me
from the comfortable present
to the arch of a Gothic gate?
Yet!--as I labor...
there is a curious devotion...
lack of fear..
I feel bright as armor
in the frock
of a sword-less volunteer...."
Soon entirely absorbed in work, Donovan doesn't hear a knock at the door. And after several, persistent repetitions that are unanswered, Sister Catherine (Out of habit, in a simple dress) enters carrying a pail and other cleaning utensils. There is nothing about her appearance that would suggest she is a nun.
(Catherine--looking up...surprised, rattling her utensils still in hand:)
"Oh! Excuse me!
I thought this room was empty..."
(She checks her list--)
"Yesterday was my first day...
and was given a list of vacant rooms that needed tidying...
Apparently my list has errors--"
"No! Please! It's quite all right!
You are not disturbing me one bit!"
Donovan rushes over to the door, to help her in with the rest of her burden. One can see by his excited body language, and expressive voice, that he isn't in the least bothered by the interruption. In fact, we get the hint this unexpected intrusion is welcomed.
After taking the pail from Catherine, he reaches for her hand to draw her in...
(She pulls away...obviously uncomfortable with his forwardness...)
"Excuse me! I didn't mean to frighten you...
"Sis.... Catherine. Catherine is my name!"
"Again I apologize for my eagerness...
but it's been months
since I've spoken
to someone my own age...
Especially someone so lovely...."
"Surely you can spare a couple moments...
stay at least long enough
for us to be properly introduced?
My name is Donovan!"
Catherine hesitates, as if she were reconsidering...but politely refuses all the same, this being a new situation for her, one she has little if any experience at all with.
"But you see...you must stay!
I mean...please stay..."
(His voice soft and reassuring--)
"I really am quite harmless...
and it gets so lonely here--
and as you can see--
I desperately do need tutoring
in the finer art of housekeeping..."
Catherine looks around...and then nods in agreement. Besides, his handsome face is youthfully disarming...and after deciding that Donovan is harmless though a bit impetuous, she tells herself:
('Why not come in for just a short while, and help bring some order to these surroundings...
Surely there can be no harm in this!')
Donovan, joyfully ushers her in. With an awkward clatter, he places the pail of utensils on the floor in the center of the room. Then, while holding an upside duster high above his head, he proudly exclaims:
"In your service my lady...
Point me toward those dusty dragons...
and my swift sword
will show those demons little mercy!"
(Catherine smiles...the first relaxed expression she has thus far exhibited.)
"You have a beautiful smile...
Why do you hide it
behind such seriousness?"
(Catherine walks over to Donovan and reaches to take the duster form his hand:)
"Somehow I think, more will be accomplished
if I go about this fierce campaign
all by myself!"
Donovan is much taller than Catherine. And as she rises on her toes to reach the duster, she loses balance, and to keep from falling she is forced to brace herself against his body.
Time is suspended.
"But that would be inexcusable of me...
to have you do all of the work
(He appears captivated by her innocent beauty--)
Catherine also finds herself speechless...lost in his searching eyes.... One gets the first impression, that she is definitely attracted to him.
There is an awkward silence between them. Her seeming to yield even closer into his body.
As Donovan slowly lowers the duster into her petite hand, for the first time he appears unsure...lost for words....
Catherine--in control--stepping back with duster in hand:
"I really don't mind cleaning alone.
Besides, your work is far more important...
and, in fact
would greatly benefit
from a lack of distraction."
Donovan reluctantly nods in agreement.
But back at his art table, he appears to have little success with concentrating.
Catherine attempts cleaning, but plainly her mind is elsewhere also.
Unable to keep his eyes from Catherine for any length of time, Donovan glances up from his artwork. He is embarrassed when she catches him...and quickly hides his interest, pretending to work, hoping she will not become uncomfortable and leave.
However, he soon comes to realize that Catherine is guilty of the same preoccupation with him, as she quickly looks away, after having been caught in a similar act.
Follows several more comical repetitions....
More concerned with Catherine, than what he is doing, Donovan clumsily knocks over a jar of soaking brushes, the fluid spilling onto the table and over his drawing.
"Good lord! Now look what I have done!"
He scrambles about the table, trying to find something to blot with.
Catherine comes to his rescue with a dry rag.
But Donovan seems more interested in watching Catherine, than saving his work, as he stands aside while Catherine hastens to sop up the runny fluid. She is aware of his infatuation.
"There! I've done the best that I can...
And there really doesn't
seem to be too much damage."
"Indeed--you have come to my rescue again....
In truth--I'm beginning to wonder
how ever in the past
I managed to survive
Besides--it is only a sketch for the main mural,
and I really shouldn't have gotten
Catherine looks again down at the drawing...and for the first time has a chance to digest its content.
"You are...I mean, it is?
Do you really feel there is some merit?"
"Merit!--You should have more faith
This is good.
It is magnificent!
This is the Christ
whom I know and love in my heart.
And feel loved by....
Yes loved...and not judged."
(A brief silence, as Catherine travels deeper into the drawing.)
"You must be very close to him."
To see Him so clearly,
you must have a personal relationship with Him--
wonderfully filled with living presence."
"If only I could be sure?"
(He bows his head, as if defeated.)
"I don't understand?"
"Nor do I, Catherine--nor do I!
...understand so little of what has happened to me
over the past several months...
...what has caused my once sturdy foundation
to crumble beneath me
like a child's poorly placed blocks...
leaving me battling with fiery shadows..."
"But you're here...helping to build
surely you have no doubt
as to its importance
and the sanctity of your labor?"
(Donovan--looking at one of the architectural drawings on the wall--)
"If only I could be sure?...
the little boy could be sure?...
with the church's blood beneath his feet...."
Catherine walks up behind him...places a compassionate hand on his shoulder.... Instinctively, his hand reaches and comes to rest upon hers, yet he turns only halfway toward her, appearing somewhat ashamed to face her, his downward gaze revealing an emotional state.
(CATHERINE):(Catherine begins to sing--the music, soft--her voice hauntingly serene:)
"Listen! Listen! Listen!
to a story
about an orphan child...
and good sisters...
and a small village
very far from here:
a story about a child who took a vow
out of loneliness and fear..."
(Donovan is entranced by the music of her words...not fully understanding the significance of the meaning, but somehow aware that Catherine is allowing him into the privacy of her being:)
"a child who grew to wander,
at night, through the ripening corn in the field.
If she shed her armor
and chose a star
would its light become her shield?"
(Donovan turns toward Catherine, to look upon her face, beautifully alive with reflected candlelight...as she continues her sensitive tale:)
"Listen! Listen! Listen!
each of us
has a hidden voice...
dark in silence;
far from light;
until we make a choice.
Then it speaks to us--
its language not words
but burst of torch-like flame--
to write with fire
(one by one revealed to us)
eternal letters of our name...."
Follows a brief silence, while they remain staring sympathetically into each others eyes...
(DONOVAN)(DONOVAN answers her soul--the same haunting melody:)
"At times! At times! Still times I've heard
a fleeing beam of light:
in the distance
but born again of night--
it sings, it sings, of mystical things
dark and yet so bright...a"
(They join hands and face the audience--DUET:)
"Listen! Listen! Listen!
Each of us has a voice--
dark in silence;
far from light;
until we make a choice:
and then it speaks
its language not words
but bursts of torch-like flame,
to write with fire
eternal letters of our names..."
(Donovan, looking deep into Catherine's eyes, bends to kiss her. But, when she seems to be yielding to his passion, abruptly she pushes away:)
"I don't understand?
I have never loved before
with such passion...
every fiber of my being
calling out to you..."
As he reaches to embrace Catherine, to draw her near, she turns away....
He stops...shakes his head in disbelief...
"How can I be wrong, Catherine,
when heaven has never felt so near?"
"There is something I must tell you..."
They are interrupted by a knock at the door...
Donovan hesitates to answer, thinks to pretend there is no one inside; but the caller is persistent, and clearly, he reasons, as he gazes questioningly at Catherine's troubled demeanor, that whatever was on her mind she would rather pursue it at a later time.
In steps the PASTOR (FATHER MARK), and BISHOP LACKWOOD.
"This is Donovan, the young architect,
whose talents I've bragged to you
so much about, Bishop.
Since he has come to us
the construction of our cathedral has moved along
at a miraculous pace.
We are indeed grateful to God
for leading him here--seeking, so Donovan has told us...."
"Seeking, you say, Father?"
"Yes, indeed, Bishop!
Seeking! And we all pray,
it is found--what he has been searching for--
in the divine foundation
of our sacred cathedral...."
The Bishop now turns his attention to Catherine's pensive presence.
"And this is Sis..., I mean, Catherine--"
He almost gave away Catherine's secret.
"It's all right, Father. Sister Catherine!"
(She kneels and kisses the Bishop's outstretched hand.)
The Bishop does a double take: First looking at Catherine's attire...then at Father Mark...then Catherine's attire again...and back to FATHER MARK, once more, for an explanation.
FATHER MARK studies
Donavan's aghast expression.
"I'll explain later, Bishop."
Donovan attempts to meet Catherine's eyes with his, but she avoids him.
Changing the topic, the Bishop crosses the room to the wall where Donavan's drawings are hung, and admiringly ponders the various blueprints and complicated sketches for the cathedral.
"Magnificent, isn't it!"
And now glancing down at the table, he begins to analyze Donavan's sketches for the chapel murals.
"Not only a talented architect, but a very gifted artist as well!"
Donovan appears nervous, unsure of himself, and his talent; and seems fearful of the Bishop's reaction to his work, for if displeased he could put an immediate halt to the entire project.
"Thank you for the compliment, Bishop."
Bishop Lakewood continues to scrutinize the drawings, beyond their obvious beauty and deeper into the subject matter:
"But I must confess--though your figures
seem to embody
a light, indeed, life all of their own--
yet, I find myself somewhat disturbed:
(He points to a section of drawing.)
"The figures here, surrounding the Christ...
seem to emanate light
equal to our divine Lord's."
"I had the same criticism, Bishop!
Donovan, at times,
is too reckless with his interpretations;
and for our cathedral
this just will not..."
(Bishop Lakewood, interrupting)
"Of course, were those not His own words?
'See these miracles I do...you will do even greater,
for I go to the Father...'"
(FATHER MARK)(clearing his throat.):
"Yes. Yes. Exactly, Bishop!"
Father Mark aggressively mobs his forehead with a handkerchief taken from his robe.
Catherine seems alive with excitement. She senses how much this would mean to Donovan, to be permitted to paint the sacred murals in the main chapel. Forgetting all else, for the moment, she slides discreetly closer to Donavan's side, to give his hand an encouraging squeeze.
The Bishop shakes his head from side to side. Father Mark again begins to mop his forehead. Donovan and Catherine, still with tension.
"The people listening to our Lord speak--
those on the hillside...and those seated on the rocks--
if one looks at them as a group and not individuals,
their combined image is that of a cathedral;
see here--the towers; and here--the bells...
Not the people, but Christ is the substance of the church!--
its body! We!--the guardians!--have a sworn duty
to protect the purity of that foundation!"
"Exactly! My objections also, Bishop!
No!--this will never d..."
"Then again, do not the scriptures also tell us,
'Know ye not, ye are the temples of the living God?'
Is that not so, Father?"
"Your deep understanding of the mysteries
continue to be a source
of inspiration to me, Bishop."
(Father Mark lets out a long sigh of relief while putting his handkerchief back in his robe.)
'Know ye not that your body
is the temple of the Holy ghost,
which is in you.'"
"The Gospel of Matthew, Father--I believe?"
"St. Paul, Bishop. His letter to the Corinthians."
(Then, Father Mark not wanting to disagree with the Bishop--clearing his throat, appearing less certain, adds:)
"However, Bishop, your memory in these matters
is generally impeccable; better I reserve judgment
for the moment."
"No need, Father--
I'm certain you are correct.
We know there is only one
who is impeccable in all things:
and compared to Him
all of us appear
"Besides--anyone can make a mistake."
Father Mark surprised by the uncharacteristic admission.
"Yes--yes; of course, Bishop."
"Come, Father--don't look so surprised!"
(FATHER MARK)(Awkwardly clearing his throat):
Then to everyone's complete surprise, the Bishop exclaims:
"You will begin to tomorrow!"
"I Beg your pardon, Bishop."
"Along with my memory,
has my ability to speak clearly
also deserted me, Father?"
Bishop Lakewood, turning to Donovan:
"That was your intention, wasn't it, young man...
you did want the honor of painting the chapel murals?"
(Donovan appears overwhelmed by joy)
"Yes!--or course, Bishop!"
He and Father Mark had expected considerably more trouble convincing the Bishop.
"Come, Father--don't seem so surprised.
I suspect you have had
a lot more to do
with this outcome
than you are letting on..."
(FATHER MARK)(Father Mark--clearing his throat):
"If this is your wish, Bishop,
I'm certain that Donovan
was being prepared for this mission
long before any of us
were aware of it..."
"I had better be careful, Father,
or you will have my job soon..."
(Bishop Lakewood--smiling fondly)
Donovan, ecstatic, turns to embrace Catherine, but respectfully stops as the reality of her being a nun for the first time settles with a thump in his heart. He tells himself softly:
"How can I feel so sad
while at the same time
with great joy?"
Catherine uncontrollably had started for Donavan's arms, but caught herself in time--however, not before body language had given her away. The Bishop with a tacit look again appeals to Father Mark for an explanation.
"I know, Father. Later."
The Bishop and Father Mark excuse themselves, leaving the room. Catherine indicating that she will be along shortly after gathering her utensils.
The haunting melody of "Listen--Listen" begins--progressively rising in intensity.
While Catherine gathers her utensils, Donovan follows her around the room. He begins to sing:
to the great joy
and sadness of my heart;
to behold a light
only destined to part.
To think this Spirit of love,
with an endless flow,
while my dearest source of inspiration
my rival my foe."
(As Catherine starts for the door, he reaches for her hand.)
I've taken a sacred vow!
"While that vow was the voice
of a young woman,
it was the orphan child who was speaking--
surely, Heaven could not hold you to this?"
was given to God!
I need time...
I must think..."
She runs from the room and Donavan's outstretched, pleading hand.
END OF ACT THREE
(Three months later)
Circular, revolving stage. Spilt scene. The audience can see into Catherine's room while at the same time see Donovan emerging from the chapel into a large hall. He walks over to a table and chair where he sits. He appears tired. He is wearing a paint stained frock. He has a brush in his hand which he proceeds to wipe clean on a rag. The lighting is dim--and one gets the impression that it is late evening.
(Donovan breathes deeply--a sigh of relief.)
At the same time, Catherine is standing in her room at a dressing table with a mirror. The mirror and dressing table look old--hand carved wood--probably an antique donated to the church. Her attire is conservative--her nightgown covering her slender form entirely. She holds up her nun's habit. Stares at it--turning it--looking at it from all angles. Holds it up next to her face--losing herself in own reflection in the mirror.
(DONOVAN)(Aria):(Pensive. Wiping his brush.):
"Once there was a child;
who dreamed of only building--
tall were his structures;
the sky could not compete, despite all its majesty
for the child would not awaken--
his building grew taller and taller."
"Once there was a child,
who dreamed she was alone;
surrounded by aloneness;
submerged and swept away
And while the world rejoiced
in blossoms and mountains
and endless sky...
she dreamed there was no sun;
and without a dawn
could not awaken."
"We are architects,
each of us--
whether sleeping or awake--
tossed to a sea of crashing waves
for lack of vision's sake.
Then one day, a fiery thought,
passes within reach--racing by;
grabbing hold, we draw near
to its mystical flame,
like the sun being caught by the sky.
We are architects, of dark and light--
artisans of eternity,
building mansions in the sky,
at last, having mastered the sea."
Catherine respectfully places her habit back on the dresser. She is calm...calmer than she has yet appeared to us--as if a great weight has been lifted from her. She slips into bed. Clicks off the light.
Now only the hall and Donovan are visible. The stage rotates a little further, till he is center stage, while Catherine's room rounds out of sight.
Donovan yawns. He sleepily rises from his chair. He gives the chapel door a satisfied glance.
"Finished at last.
And I pray,
a work that will honor
the spirit of light.
Yet, there is one dark place left in me--
forgive me, Father--this I leave
for Catherine to brighten."
The stage lights dim further as Donovan wearily retires for the night, leaving the hall.
Everything in the room is still and silent--the chapel door closed while a burst of harps float to a tranquil nothingness.
An unsettling, prolonged pause in action.
Vandals climb onto the stage. They enter left, right, and center from the orchestra pit. They are a youthful gang from the neighborhood; wearing gang jackets with insignias, carrying weapons and buckets of paint. Being quiet as possible, they proceed to cut paintings, splash walls with paint--painting obscene slogans and other graffiti. They continue to desecrate the entire hall, working their way toward the chapel. They enter the chapel. Close the door behind them. The audience hears muffled, tragic sounds coming from inside.
With a blast of music, the noise ceases. Immediately followed by another and another tumultuous clash....
(DISTANT CHOIR OF ETHEREAL VOICES):
"This is our Father's house,
where light sees all;
even in darkness,
we are known by our deeds.
High we lift a banner of light--
legion of the midnight sun!"
The chapel door violently swings open--revealing a brilliance inside.
Repelled by radiant beams, vandals back slowly out...shielding their eyes from light. As the last leaves we see he is pursued by a light-form. More light forms exit. Two take guard posts at the chapel door while others continue in procession to circle the hall....
The last vandal flees from the stage. All the stage lights, including the dim theater lights for the audience slowly diminish--the only light in the theater left, the forms on the stage. Light forms continue to circle the hall.
(CHOIR OF ETHEREAL VOICES):
"This is our Father's house--
high we life his banner of light--
legion of the midnight sun!"
(Repetitive chorus continues through the action): while still in procession, one by one the light forms go out. The choral voices softening accordingly--music fading off in response....
(brief interlude) COMPLETE DARKNESS. SILENCE.
MUSIC BEGINS. It is hauntingly meditative. While at the same time, beautifully lyrical. It lasts for several minutes and toward the end the house lights and stage lights start to brighten. IT IS MORNING.
DONOVAN arrives. Yawning. Stretching. But as his eyes focus, and he realizes what has happened:
(He runs to the chapel door. Looks inside.)
"How could they?
All that work!
All that beauty!
All for nothing!"
CATHERINE enters, carrying a breakfast tray. Aghast--she drops it.
DONOVAN turns toward the noise of the fallen tray.
Who would do such a thing?"
Catherine runs to the chapel door--looks inside...horrified by the destruction...but after a brief silence:
"You'll fix it.
You can do it again--even better!
Don't you see?--
It's the spirit--not the art!
And that spirit expresses through you.
In you that spirit lives immortal."
(DONOVAN)(looking longingly into Catherine's eyes):
"And what of your beautiful spirit, Catherine?"
(Catherine reaches for his hand. Moves closer.)
"At your side--forever.
Not the orphaned child.
But the woman...whose soul has found its wings..."
FATHER MARK and BISHOP LAKEWOOD arrive.
(FATHER MARK)(after being repelled--a brief, contemplative meditation):
almost completely unrecognizable...
yet I see the mural--its colors--brilliant!
Filled with light!
This would remain a chapel
were there no walls left to contain it!"
(BISHOP LAKEWOOOD)(the hall now ablaze with light):
"I see it also...
In the chapel of my heart...
an infant cathedral
opening its eyes for the first time...
awakened to its mission..."
The gang of vandals enter as they did the first time. But this time there are no weapons...instead they carry an array of cleaning utensil...
(Gang)(kneeling before the Bishop and Father Mark):
"Pain often chooses its targets foolishly...
and the perpetrators become their own victims...."
(The BISHOP motions for them to rise...)
(BISHOP LAKEWOOD)(Pointing to the youthful gang):
"These are the living stones of our cathedral!"
(The ENTIRE CAST, facing the audience...)
"Listen Listen Listen!
To the smallest light...
but born of distant night;
shining bright and clear,
star of the midnight sun...
We are each
a light of heaven--
a beam whisper or shout...
some shine dimmer before brighter...
but nothing can put us out...."
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