Big Glass Jar or: Pearls Go with Everything

© 1995 Dave Awl

(Stage is dark at top of play. All lighting is done by the 3 members of the CHORUS--Scott, Lusia and Diana who are seated on floor using flashlights shining through glass containers of water to create a rippled water lighting effect. Light comes up first on Phil who begins playing a slow syncopated rhythm on clapstick. After a few beats light comes up on Stephanie who begins playing three glass soda bottles tuned to different pitches, creating a flutelike effect. Then light comes up on Dave who begins telling the story, punctuated at times by lines from the CHORUS.)

DAVE: I heard a story once about a woman who kept the ocean in a jar. A big glass jar like you might use for pickles or olives or something like that. Woman. Ocean. Big glass jar. She lived in a little plywood shack next to a huge empty wasteland where nothing lived and nothing grew. Woman. Shack. Wasteland. At night when she lay down to sleep she could hear the tiny creatures of the sea calling to her from the glass jar where they swam around and around in tiny circles, trapped by the clear walls of the world.

CHORUS: Creatures. Jar. Around and around.

DAVE: Woman in bed; no sleep, no sleep. There were sharks and octopi and plankton and whales and starfish and stingrays and clownfish and seals, all swirling around like the sugar in your coffee cup, calling out to her in squeaky little voices:

CHORUS: (in falsetto whenever sea creatures' voices are being imitated) "Let us out! Help us! Let us out! Dorinda!"

DAVE: That was the woman's name. Dorinda. Sharks, plankton, starfish & seals, around and around, big staring eyes. Well this went on until one night the tired, haunted woman rose from her bed and picked up the jar...

CHORUS: (falsetto) "Throw us out the window!"

DAVE: The sea creatures cried.

CHORUS: (falsetto) "Throw us out the window with a smashing of glass!"

DAVE: Sea creatures. Window. Big glass jar. Smashing. Crashing. Big glass jar.

And the woman said: "I know how this goes. I throw the jar out the window. The jar breaks. Smashing. Crashing. The ocean is released into the wasteland which becomes its seabed. Sea creatures happy. Sea creatures free."

CHORUS: Woman. Ocean. Big glass jar.

DAVE: "But if I let the ocean out of the jar, what's left for me? What do I have to dream about? What tiny voices will I listen to in the wee still hours of the night? Oh, no. I'd rather dream by the wasteland. By the dry barren wasteland with a head full of stingrays and seals."

CHORUS: Woman. Wasteland. Big glass jar.

DAVE: Now the story I heard had more than one ending. I heard the story end more than one way. Sometimes the woman lived happily ever after, listening to the voices from the jar. Sometimes she gave in and let the ocean out of the jar, and in gratitude they crowned her Queen of the Sea Creatures, and built her a castle of coral and crabshells. But the ending I like best is the one where the creatures just kept swimming--around and around, faster and faster night after night until finally the jar exploded and the water came pouring out, flooding the woman's shack, and the woman--who had been asleep at the time--was transformed into a school of plankton.

CHORUS: Happy plankton. Free plankton. Around and around.

DAVE: Woman. Plankton. Big glass jar.

(Phil continues playing rhythm for a few seconds, then flashlight clicks off & rhythm stops.)


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