Afroplay Allah's Fool- Iraq

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a one act play


<p>ALLAHS FOOL A One-Act Play*Posted onMarch 3, 2011bysdonlineBy Pat McGeeverSetting:BaghdadTime:Present, with flashbacksA minimal set may be used. At least two sections of the stage can be illuminated separately. A back wall or screen will be used for projecting words and images.CharactersSHANDRA RAMADI late fifties, Iraqi, passionate and excitable, wears traditional dress and headdressDR. ALI RAMADI SHINAN Shandras husband, about sixty, Iraqi, dignified, reserved, wears professional Western dress and glasses with very thick lensesBEN DAGLEISH[pron: DOG-leash] about forty, American, smart-mouthed, likeable, can-do kind of guy, dresses in office-casualCARL[O.S. throughout]*DR. AMY FRIEDMAN about 40, a military doctor, intense, dedicated, complex, wears hospital scrubsDR. JUDY LEVINE about 30, also a military doctor, with a novices enthusiasm, usually wears hospital scrubsBBC REPORTER*NAVAL SEAL*U.S. MARINE SERGEANT**These characters can all be played by the same actor.PrologueLights up. The actors stand downstage in a single row facing the audience. They read the following quotations and authors names.BENIm not going to address the torture word.-Donald RumsfeldJUDYThe photographs are us.Susan SontagREPORTER, etc.This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation. And were going to ruin peoples lives over it? And were going to hamper our military effort? And then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time?Rush LimbaughALI[Torture is] any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.1984 Convention Against Torture, signed by the United StatesAMYThese prisoners, you know theyre not there for traffic violations. If theyre in cellblock 1-A or 1-B, these prisoners, theyre murderers, theyre terrorists, theyre insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands, and here were so concerned about the treatment of those individuals.Sen. James Inhofe, Senate Armed Services CommitteeSHANDRAThis is tortures true purpose: to terrorizenot only the people in Guantnamos cages and Syrias isolation cells but also, and more important, the broader community that hears about these abuses. Torture is a machine designed to break the will to resistthe individual prisoners will and the collective will.-Naomi KleinScene 1Four chairs in a neat row face the audience. SHANDRA stands behind them.SHANDRAI was a mere slip of a girl when first I met Ali Ramadi Shinan. He was not yet Doctor Ramadi, but a student at a university far away. My father, may Allah have mercy on his soul, was not about to commit his only daughter to a pre-arranged marriage. He knew me better than that! So Ali had to come to our house and meet me, face to face. But of course an unsupervised encounter was utterly unthinkable.From behind the second chair from Stage Left, SHANDRA takes a life-sized picture, from head to waist, of a dour-looking man in traditional Arab dress. She places it on the chair, facing front. She sits in the chair to Stage Left.SHANDRA (CONT.)My father was his usual dignified and impassive self. But I could barely contain my excitement as we waited for my prince. I couldnt wait to feast my eyes on his noble countenance and bearing!ALI enters Stage Right. He wears Western dress and thick glasses. He takes another picture of a dour-looking man in traditional Arab dress from behind the second chair from Stage Right and places it in the chair, facing front. He sits in the chair to Stage Right.SHANDRA (CONT.)Some prince! Shy, dressed like a foreigner, and glasses thicker than my thumb.A silence ensues. ALI coughs, blows his nose.SHANDRA (CONT.)And with the sniffles!ALI[Clearing his throat, addressing SHANDRAs father:] Allahs peace be upon this house. I am Ali Ramadi Shinan. May I introduce my father, Abdullah Ramadi Aziz. It was most gracious of you, sir, to invite us to your home.SHANDRA[Leaning forward:] Do you have a cold?[ALI, confused, glances at her father and then his own (neither of whom responds), then at SHANDRA:]ALIAh, er, um Did you speak?SHANDRAYes, I spoke. I asked if you have a cold.ALISir, may I have permission to speak directly to your daughter?SHANDRA[In a deep voice:] Permission granted!ALIOh. Um, yes. Yes, I suppose I do. Usually. That is to say, with the cold and rainy climate at Cambridge, I often have a little catarrh in my throatSHANDRASo its chronic. What do they give you for it?ALIThey? [Beat.] Well, you see, we study every imaginable illness, but, as far as Well, one wouldnt go to the infirmary for a trifle like this.SHANDRAYou live alone?ALIAlone. Yes.SHANDRAAmong infidels. With no one to give you honey and lemon. I will make you some, before you go.ALIYou are most generous. Generous and somewhatforward.SHANDRADo you find that objectionable?ALIQuite the contrary. I like to see the inner strength of a woman shining forth. But among Arab women it is not often apparent.SHANDRAPerhaps because among Arab men it is not often welcome.ALITouch.SHANDRAIn your cold, wet university, do you have a specialization?ALIIndeed I do. It is the human eye, one of the great marvels of all Allahs creation. Do you realize that when a baby is first conceived within a woman, the cells that will eventually make up the eyes are undifferentiated from other cells around them? But as the baby grows, they organize themselves to make two tiny cameras. They can take in light from the world around them, and shape it to focus on objects nearby, like a mothers face, or far away, like the stars of the heavens.SHANDRASo the babys eyes are twin miracles, to take in the other miracles of creation.ALIYes! Exactly. Of course, not all eyes are equally powerful. My own, for example, are terribly near-sighted. They could not quite focus the light from the stars, or even from your face, which at the moment is quite distant. Today, medical science is able to remedy such problems by placing additional lenses in front of theWhile ALI speaks, SHANDRA rises and walks toward him. ALI rises, his voice trailing off. SHANDRA stands quite close to ALI.SHANDRAThere. Can you see my face better now?A long pause.ALIMuch better, dear lady. But there is a problem.SHANDRAWhich is?ALIMy glasses are beginning to fog up!SHANDRAI must confess you are not quite what I expected.ALIYou were expecting, perhaps, a prince?SHANDRA[Nods.] Silly of me. I am not a princess.ALINow there I must disagree. From this day forward, you will always be my princess.ALI freezes in place. SHANDRA turns and walks downstage.SHANDRAI fear we upset our elders that day. But within the year we were man and wife. Ali was always a frail man, but a strong and courageous one. He rose within his profession of optometry to a prominent position in our nation. He even became an undersecretary in the Ministry of Health. We raised a large family and prospered in Allahs grace. But that seems like another world now, before Saddam Hussein and long before the Americans.Lights down.Scene 2BENHi. Im Ben, Ben Dagleish, civilian volunteer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. They recruited me to organize the cleanup at Ground Zero. When we wrapped up there, I was ready to head to the tropics to soak up some rays. Stupid me, I gave the guys in Washington my cell number.His cell phone rings.BEN (CONT.)Ben Dagleish here.VOICE (O.S.)Yo, Ben, its me.BENHey, Carl, hows it hangin?VOICENot bad. Look, the President wants me to tell you how delighted he was with your work at Ground Zero.BENReally? The President himself?VOICEAbsolutely. The way you pulled all those volunteers and contractors together to shape the place up so quickly was nothing short of amazing.BENThe spirit there was terrific. Everybody pitched in.VOICEYeah, but everybody pitching in can be a prescription for disaster. Youre the one who made it all happen, and everybody knows it. [Pause.] Which brings me to the purpose of my call. The President needs you in Baghdad.BENBaghdad? You gotta be shittin me! The troopsre still lightin the place up every night.VOICEBut the minute the shootings over, were sending in top-echelon personnel to begin the reconstruction. Paul Bremer will head up the Coalition Provisional Authority, and hell have a dozen people under him with specific portfolios. We want you to be one of them.BENWhich portfolio?VOICEMinistry of Health. We want you to get the hospitals up and running again.BENHospitals my ass! Theyve all been looted and the docs are long gone.VOICEWere going to appoint you acting Minister of Health, as a civilian with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, just like at Ground Zero. Youll make the decisions, but the Armyll be there to back them up. Look, Ben, this is the perfect career move.BENCareer move? Into the number one hell-hole on Gods earth?VOICEUnderstand this. The President is a man who never forgets a friend.BENOr an enemy?VOICEYour words, not mine. Look, you pull this one off the way you did Ground Zero, and after we get reelected next year, youll be in line for an ambassadorship. [Pause.] Can we count you in, Ben?BENWell, I sure as hell dont want to piss off the President.VOICEGood boy.BENI just wonder where Im gonna find doctors in Baghdad.Lights down.Scene 3A doctors office at Abu Ghraib Prison, Baghdad. DR. AMY FRIEDMAN sits at the desk, writing. On the desk is a photo of the Manhattan skyline, including the Twin Towers. AMY wears army fatigues, and a gold necklace with a Star of David. DR. JUDY LEVINE enters.JUDYThank Godair conditioning!AMYYou Doctor Levine?JUDYJudy. Baghdads a freaking sauna.AMYIm Amy Friedman.JUDYOh yeah, my mentor. [Shakes hands.] Excuse my manners, Im not real civil when my shorts are sticking to my butt.AMYThats OK. The heat you can adjust to.JUDY looks around. She picks up the picture from FRIEDMANs desk.JUDYYou from New York? [FRIEDMAN nods.] Same here. Id forgotten what it looked like with the Twin Towers.AMY[With surprising vehemence.] Ill never forget!There is an awkward pause. JUDY gets close enough to AMY to see her necklace.JUDYHoly shit! You wear that all the time?AMYWhat?JUDYThe Star of David.AMYWhy shouldnt I?JUDYYoure dealing all day with Muslims. Id say its a shade inflammatory?AMYIm proud of who I am. If the hajis dont like it, thats their problem.JUDYIm also proud of being a Jew, but well, to each her own.AMYHowd you end up here, Judy?JUDYArmy Reserve helped put me through med school, and I took some Arabic in undergrad. How about yourself?AMYI volunteered. Of course I didnt realize what a hell-hole this was.JUDYThe heat IS badAMYbut the hajisll kill ya.JUDYUm, yeah. You know, this used to be a beautiful part of the world.AMYWhat?JUDYBabylon was near here, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Some scholars think the Garden of Eden was between the Tigris and Euphrates.AMYAnd just look what Saddams turned it into now.JUDYYeah. You know the Iraqi flag?AMYNot really.JUDYStripes of red, white and black. Red for sacrifice, white for purity. Black for the dark past.AMYWell, they got that part right. The presents pretty grim too.There is a long, loud scream. JUDY jumps.JUDYOh my god! What was that?AMYAn interrogation in progress next door.JUDYAre they torturing him?AMYWe dont use the torture word around here. That means the kind of pain resulting in organ failure or death. Thats not what our guys do.JUDYWhat do our guys do?AMYThey use professional interrogation techniques.JUDYAha. But that godawful screamAMYIf milder techniques dont work, they can go to C.I.D. [She pauses expectantly, then continues.] C.I.D. are cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments, that dont cause organ failure or death. Havent you read the manual yet? Its all spelled out.JUDYSomebody just handed it to me five minutes ago.AMYMake it a priority, doctor. This war is different from what you read in the textbooks. There are times youll listen to the hajis scream. You better find a way to deal with it. Otherwise you go nuts.Lights down.</p> <p>Scene 4Baghdad, the Ministry of Health. BEN DAGLEISH, carrying a brief case, enters and stands alone.BENHello! Is this the Ministry of Health? Hello!A small group of people gathers.BEN (CONT.)Hi. Im Ben Dagleish, civilian volunteer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ive been sent by the Americans.Long pause. No response.BEN (CONT.)So, whos in charge?Some foot shuffling, but still no response. BEN folds his arms, lets the silence drag on.BEN (CONT.)OK, who speaks English? Whos the most senior person in the room?The group of people parts, leaving ALI in the middle. ALI steps forward.ALII am Doctor Ali Ramadi Shinan. I suppose I am the most senior.BEN extends his hand. They shake. BEN reaches into his brief case, takes out a document, and hands it to ALI.BENNice to meet you, Dr. Ramadi. Ive been appointed acting head of the Ministry of Health, by the President.ALIPresident Hussein?BEN[Flabbergasted:]Saddam Hussein? Whyno. I mean President BushALIOf course, Mr. Dagleish. I was merely having a little fun with you.BENHey, you had me going for a minute, Ali. May I call you Ali?ALIOf course. You Americans are so informal. Endearingly so.BENAnd Im Ben.They shake hands again, more warmly.ALIHow may I be of assistance, Ben?BENGet doctors and nurses back into the hospitals. Bombing mustve driven them out.ALIBefore that it was the presidential family. With them gone, I think I may be able to convince some people to return.BENTerrific! Presidential family? You mean Saddams?ALIOne time, Uday Hussein tried to commandeer the entire drug supply of Baghdad Hospital for a party he was having. It was left to me to turn him down, to his face.BENSounds dangerous.ALIDangerous enough. But I had the advantage of having seniority in the Party.BENWHAT? You were a member of the Baathist Party?ALII still am. It was a prerequisite to advancing in any profession.BENSweet Jesus. If I tell the brass Im doing business with a Baathist Look, would you be willing to renounce your membership?ALIThey would kill me.BENWell protect you.ALIYes, the omnipotent U.S. military. Which controls every square foot of the country.BENOK, OK. Ali, I need someone with some status. Someone willing to take a risk. OtherwiseALIOtherwise my people will continue to die without medical attention. Very well, Mr. Dagleish. I shall write a letter resigning my membership in the party.They shake hands, and embrace.Lights down.Scene 5ALIS home. Lights up on ALI and SHANDRA.SHANDRAYou did WHAT? My dear husband, have you taken leave of your senses?ALII had to, Princess. Otherwise I could not work with the Americans.SHANDRAThe Americans are the invaders! They are the occupiers! They are not our friends!ALIMr. Dagleish is my friend. He calls me Ali. I call him Ben. It is the...</p>