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Robert Red-Baer

Woman 1
Woman 2
Woman 3
Woman 4
King Charles

The setting can be as much or little as the director desires. A bench is the only piece that is required. Costumes of that period would add greatly to the play.

Copyright 1978 by Robert Red-Baer
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The play opens with AUDE, Roland's young, beautiful and innocent fiancee entering.

AUDE: I am going to be married soon. Married to the man I love-- Roland. He is a great knight and soon we will romp through the fields of Christianity on his mighty horse. He is away right now, killing all of the rotten pagans in Spain. They believe in idols, and we of Charles' kingdom pray that they will drop these pagan thoughts and deeds and embrace God and sit on His right hand as we do. (KING CHARLES enters. He is old and has a long white beard.) Here comes King Charles. Oh my gracious and great king, King Charles. May all the fruits in heaven shower upon your head.

CHARLES: I wish you would stop wishing those things, Aude. I am two hundred years old and my shrinking head could not stand such a shower of fruits. Is Roland back yet?

AUDE: He is still on that mission in Spain.

CHARLES: Ah yes, so he is. (ROLAND enters. He is a great man and the utmost in confidence. He should be wearing shining armor. No one can see or hear him.)

ROLAND: Here I am.

CHARLES (looking at Aude with dirty old man ideas): I thought he would be back by now.

ROLAND: Here I am. It is me, Roland.

AUDE: You know those pagans are stubborn. It takes time to coax them off of God's left hand.

ROLAND: I am the mighty Roland and I have returned. I've killed thousands of pagans in Spain and I have returned to my homeland. I have returned to France and I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate.

CHARLES: He wants to celebrate. I am already two hundred years old, but I want you.

AUDE: I am in love with Roland.

CHARLES: And I am the King.

AUDE: Oh my king, anything for my king.

ROLAND (putting his arms around Aude): It has been months since I've seen you and I want to lie in bed with you.

CHARLES: Roland is my best knight. The kingdom could not survive without him. He's not here now and you are and I want you in my kingly chamber and then I want to get inside you and rest my weary bones.

AUDE: You are an old man with gray hair and I want to embrace my Roland and pull him inside me and make him feel my body tremble with his power.

ROLAND: It is good to be back with you, Aude. I've killed thousands thinking of you.

AUDE: Oh Roland, I've been waiting here, thinking of you killing thousands.

CHARLES: He may be something when he is here, dear, but while he is gone, he is nothing. Do not you feel yourself wasting, holding onto nothing?

AUDE (caressing Roland): The feel of you next to me is the feel of...

ROLAND: The feel of a great knight home from a great victory.

CHARLES: The feel of nothing. Aude, you cannot waste yourself feeling nothing when there is something here that you can feel. Besides, it never hurts to get on the good side of the king. (PAGAN MAID enters and pulls Roland from Aude.)

MAID: Rape me!  Kill my husband and rape me!

AUDE: (to Charles):  King Charles, you know how much I love and respect you, but I think it is unfair for you to ask me to your kingly chamber.

ROLAND (to Maid): Haven't I seen you somewhere?

MAID: Rape my pagan body. Rape it with your body, the same body that killed my husband. You have to rape me. It must be done.

ROLAND: Yes, It must.

AUDE (to Charles):. You are my king and I do not think it is fair of you to take advantage of your position.

ROLAND (preparing to rape): Why must I rape you?

CHARLES: I do not want to take advantage of you. I just want to rest my weary bones on this cold night.

AUDE: There must be other weary bone resting places.

ROLAND: What is compelling me to do this?!

CHARLES (to Aude): Someday you will be old and wrinkled, too. Someday you will want a young man to keep you warm. Someday you will die alone and cold with false eyes gazing down on you while your heart is screaming for one sincere touch-- a squeeze of your hand that doesn't feel like an obligation.

ROLAND (to Maid): I have to rape after I kill. It makes me hard.

MAID: Yes. Rape! Rape! I have no one god, you will not have to suffer in hell.

ROLAND: You are a pagan, an ignorant animal.

AUDE (to Charles): I can think of nothing but my Roland. I can feel nothing in you while I am wearing the love of Roland.

MAID: Rape me with my husband's blood still warming your sword.

ROLAND: The blood of a pagan is kept warm with hell's fires. The cunt of a pagan spreads the fruitless fires over the innocent earth. I will extinguish these fires with my sword!

MAID: My husband's blood is still on your sword. I want it in me. I want to feel its dying warmth inside me. (Roland starts ripping the Maid's clothes off.) Rape!

ROLAND: In the name of Christ!

MAID: Rape!

CHARLES (to Aude): I am not as shriveled as I look. I am a king and I have a mighty staff and I want to share it with you. I want to love it with you. Roland is away and you are surrounded with nothing but air.

AUDE: I am surrounded by thoughts and memories.

CHARLES: Thoughts and memories are only useful on your death bed. Save them for then. Live now.

AUDE: To be with you and to not have any clothes on with you and then to embrace your nude shriveled body, is not life, not love, not youth. It is giving death a cheap lick, an ugly taste, a nasty past view, of a hopelessly lost life. I will open my door for that dark creature, when and only when I reach it. (Roland starts raping the Maid. Blackout. The lights come back up to show FOUR WOMEN sitting on a bench sewing and knitting.)

ALL WOMEN: Roland.

WOMAN 1: I am sewing for you.

ALL WOMEN: Roland.

WOMAN 2: I am knitting for you.

ALL WOMEN: Roland.

WOMAN 3: I am aching for you.

ALL WOMEN: Roland.

WOMAN 4: My heart is singing for you.

ALL WOMEN: Roland is dead. (Woman 1 stands and speaks to the audience.)

WOMAN 1: Roland has never been in my bed or anywhere in my body. I've never seen him, but I dream him and dream him inside me. When my husband lays on top of me, as husbands are supposed to do, I close my eyes and embrace Roland. I feel him coming home after a long battle and all of the warm blood he spilled flows inside me. It is like a screaming river.. I think of Roland often. (She lies down on the stage.)

WOMAN 2 (to audience): I saw Roland once. He was riding through the field my husband was planting. He disturbed many of the seeds and my husband said he was a great knight. He said he was proud to have Roland trampling his seeds. I heard that Roland battled that day and killed over two-hundred brave, stubborn pagans. I heard that over one third of them were cut right in half by his mighty sword. The power it must take to cut a man in half. God is on Roland's side and I will always be with the both of them. (Lies down on stage.)

WOMAN 3 (to audience): My friend Francis said that Roland has a cock two feet long. I would sure like to have two feet of thundering cock jamming my insides. I would sure like to have him explode inside me-- feel the power of an erupting volcano. I would give my life to scream and tremble under his massive body once ... Just one time. (Lies down on stage.)

WOMAN 4 (to audience): Roland's horse crushed my baby one day. My baby's insides were crushed under its hoof. The left front one. She, my baby was a girl, cried for not more than a second. She spent her last second of the few she lived, in tears. Her tears bathed in blood seeping on the ground, and soaking up in the brown dirt. The stains are still there, but Roland is gone. He said he was sorry and promised to kill a hundred extra pagans that day to make up for it. Roland is in my heart and it sings for him. My heart sings for Roland. (Lays on the stage. Roland enters and stands in front of them as the lights change to give an eerie feeling.)

ROLAND: I believe in one God.

WOMEN (slowly sitting up): You are dead.

ROLAND: I am a Christian.

WOMEN: You are a dead Christian.

ROLAND: I kill men that are wrong. They can change and live if they want.

WOMEN: Roland is dead.

ROLAND: I say a prayer for every man I kill and pray that I will not have to kill anymore. As long as pagans still live, heaven and God will be in a state of confusion. Sin on earth must be stopped.

WOMEN (standing, surrounding Roland): Roland is dead. You do not exist anymore. Roland is dead. You were betrayed and now you do not breath. (Roland falls to the ground and the women exit.) You are alive in our hearts and dead in your body. dead in your head. Dead. (Aude slowly enters and stands over Roland.)

AUDE: Roland, you are not dead. (Bends over and starts shaking him.) Wake up Roland! Please wake up. (GANELON, a knight of King Charles and a sinister man, sneaks up behind Aude and grabs her, muffling her scream.)

GANELON: Let him sleep! Let him sleep forever. (Roland stands. He is not seen or heard by anyone except when indicated.) Give him up, Aude. His waking up days are over. I made certain of that.

ROLAND: Ganelon, you would do anything to get rid of me, would not you?

GANELON: I hate you, Roland. All you can do is brag about your knightly deeds.

ROLAND: At least I do the deeds I brag about. You could never do what I do and you know it, because you have a jealous heart full of crawling, wheezing, sniveling little worms.

GANELON: I've had you killed, Roland, and now I am going to take your woman. (Releases Aude.)

AUDE: Ganelon, what are you doing here? I thought you were in Spain with my Roland and King Charles?

GANELON: King Charles has returned with most of the troops. We left Roland and a few of his vassals behind as the rear guard.

ROLAND: I was not afraid to stay behind.

GANELON (to Roland): I knew you would not be and now you are dead and I am rich and the pagans I had ambush you are happy. (to Aude) I want you to be my wife.

AUDE: I am in love with Roland and I am going to marry him.

GANELON: You cannot marry a dead man.

AUDE: What do you mean?

GANELON: I mean what kind of life would you expect to live with a dead man. How would you like kissing a cold mouth full of warm maggots or waking up to the stench of a rotting body. (to Roland,) That is you Roland. (to Aude.) Of course it would not always be like that. As time passes on, the maggots will go away, leaving you the bones. Things will not be so bad then--it is not difficult to take care of a nice clean set of your husband's bones, just dust them off every week or so.

AUDE: What are you talking about? Please.

GANELON: I am alive and I love you.

ROLAND: A coward's love is not love, it is passionate fear.

AUDE: You frighten me. Go away.

GANELON: I will go. I will go until you find out the fate of your beloved. (to Roland) You are being killed now. You are dying on the battlefield, drowning in your own blood (Laughs.)

AUDE: If you are going, go!

GANELON: Just a temporary absence my dear., Not like Roland's. (Exits)

ROLAND: It has been months since I've seen you, Aude. I get lonely without you.

AUDE: Oh Roland, why do you have to go out and fight these battles?

ROLAND: I am the best knight of King Charles. I am not a coward like Ganelon.

AUDE: I know what you are and I know why I want you with me. Your eyes sing to me when you come in my door. (Pagan Maid enters.)

MAID:  His eyes sing with thundering death.

AUDE: Your quiet innocent smile when you look at me.

MAID: His teeth shining with my husband's blood.

AUDE: Your gentle movements as you come to my waiting bed.

MAID: He walks softly on a river of blood.

AUDE: The weight of your body pulls me towards you when you sit on my bed

MAID:  It is the weight of the dead men piled on his shoulders.

AUDE: The way your lightest touch, even if it is unintentional, fills my body to a point of unbearable pleasure.

MAID: He fills you with the passion of his victim's lives.

AUDE (holding herself): And when we are naked and you embrace me, kiss me, press against my body-your weight. Oh God! And then... And then... And then! (Aude screams passionately. Maid screams and then the four Women scream from offstage. There is a blackout during the screaming and Roland and Maid exit. The lights come up with Aude on her knees, her hands covering her face and she is screaming alone.)

AUDE: Oh my God. (King Charles enters.)

CHARLES: What is it? What happened?

AUDE: I do not know. I just do not know.

CHARLES: Why do not you go and get some rest.

AUDE (surprised and excited): King Charles. You are back! You have come back from Spain!

CHARLES: Yes. We made peace with the Saragassens. Ganelon did the whole thing. I am quite proud of him.

AUDE: Where is Roland? He's back, is not he?

CHARLES: On Ganelon's brilliant advice, we left Roland back with a few of his men as rear guard, just in case. They have tried tricking us before and there is no sense in taking chances.

AUDE: Why did you leave Roland behind? It is not fair. You could have left Ganelon or someone. Roland has done more fighting than any of them.

CHARLES: That is just it, Roland is our best knight. If something did happen, he would have ho trouble handling it.

AUDE: What can he and a few thousand men do against hundreds of thousands of Saragassens?!

CHARLES: Do not waste a worry my dear Aude.  When Ganelon went to make the peace that the pagans asked for, he personally saw at least three hundred thousand of them drown in their heavy armor.

AUDE: How could that happen?

CHARLES: Part of the peace deal was that they had to send three fourths of all their knights and vassals back to their homeland. The pagan king put them on ships and God sunk the ships in the most terrible storm that man has ever seen.

AUDE: Ganelon said God did all that?

CHARLES: He saw it with his own eyes.

AUDE:  How car, you believe him? You know he hates Roland. It is a trick. I know it is.

CHARLES: Ganelon is one of my most loyal knights. He would never betray his loyalty to me and to France for his hatred of one man.

AUDE: I am afraid. There is something not right and I am afraid. (Roland enters. Charles embraces Aude in a fatherly way.)

CHARLES: Do not be afraid my dear. Roland alone has fought hundreds of men in one afternoon and left without a scratch.

AUDE: If Ganelon lied, he will be facing thousands. Even God would have trouble with that.

ROLAND: Do not be afraid. I will be with you. (Charles' fatherly embrace turns into a passionate one.) I am the bravest knight alive. I can split men in two with my sword. I can lift them from their horses with my lance. I can hurl them, screaming across rivers.

CHARLES: Do not be afraid.

AUDE: I want you here, Roland. (Aude starts responding to Charles' embraces as if he were Roland.)

ROLAND: There was a song told about me after I died and it was my legend. It told of how brave and mighty I was. It told how it took hundreds of thousands of pagan knights to kill me, how the field was red with pagan's blood, how I fought the best knights in the land, and how it was a betrayal that caused this ferocious battle.

CHARLES:  Do not be afraid.

AUDE: You belong here with me, my love, not dead in someone else's song. Not a stranger's legend, Be here with me.

ROLAND: I am a hero and a legend.

CHARLES: Do not be afraid of my white beard.

ROLAND: If I lived, I would die anyway. My legend will never die. (Four Women enter and stand upstage of the others. They are wearing as little as possible.)

AUDE: Let them love your legend. Let them have it. Let me love you. Let me have you. (Woman 1 walks down and embraces Roland.)

WOMAN 1: Your death has given you to me.

CHARLES (to Aude): Do not be afraid of my decaying body. It still has some breath. (Woman 2 joins Woman 1 in embracing Roland.)

WOMEN 1&2: Your song brings you to us.

AUDE: When you see all those pagans coming after you, coming to eat your life away, run! Run to me with all your might. And we'll love. (Woman 3 embraces Roland with the others.)

WOMEN 1,2&3: Without your legend you could not have us.

AUDE: They will not have you, not you. They will just have your legend.

CHARLES: Do not be afraid of my white shriveled skin. It still has some sense of touch.

AUDE: Roland, I cannot have you as a legend. I am pleading for our life-- begging. (Woman 4 joins the rest.)

ALL WOMEN: Without your heroic death you cannot have your legend-- The song of Roland. They do not worship cowards.

AUDE (pushing hot Charles away from her): Keeping your life is not cowardly. I cannot touch your song! I cannot feel it pressing against my body! It is nothing but a sad noise in the air. (She finally looks at Roland.) My God, please do not let it take you away from me!

ROLAND (pointing to Charles): That is a shriveled up two-hundred year old king. (Charles backs away in fear.) He's lived two-hundred years and will die with nothing. Nothing but an old, old body and a little name in the past. I will die a legend, die with a future. (Charles has backed completely off stage.)

ALL WOMEN: We understand. (Aude runs to Roland.)

AUDE: It is not fair. (Women push her to the stage floor.) You cannot take him away. I love him. (Roland starts walking away with the Women.)

WOMAN 1: He wants to go.

ALL WOMEN: That is what he wants.

AUDE: Roland, do not go with them. They only want your legend. Do not you understand?

ALL WOMEN: We understand.

WOMAN 2: He's already in my dream.

AUDE: Roland, please live! You can live. (She tries to break through the women and is again pushed to the ground. She screams his name.) Roland! Roland! (Roland and Women exit. A horn sounds. Ganelon is running across the stage. Charles is chasing him.)

CHARLES: Stop him! Stop that traitor! (Two GUARDS appear at the other end of the stage and stop Ganelon. Charles walks up to him.) You traitor. How could you betray your country like that?

AUDE (Going to Charles, not aware of what has happened): What has happened? Why has the horn sounded?

CHARLES (to Ganelon): I've raised you and trusted you like my own son. And now twenty thousand of our best men are gone. Slaughtered. Ambushed by the four-hundred thousand pagans that you said were drowned by God! You scum!

AUDE: Roland? Where is Roland?

GANELON: I did not do it to betray you or France, I did it to end Roland. It was the only way. The only way.

AUDE (screaming to Charles): Is Roland dead?!

CHARLES (to Aude): I do not know. We are going to ride back there now and find out what happened. We are going to avenge our men and see if anyone is left alive. I want this foul piece of disgust bound in our heaviest chains. (Charles exits. Aude leans into Ganelon's face and spits in it. Ganelon, incensed, breaks away from the guards and gives Aude a hard savage kiss.)

GANELON: Roland thought he had everything, He bragged about you and Charles and bragged about all the men he killed for France and Christ. Well I have you now! (Guards start pulling him off-stage.) I've set you free! Love me! I've set you free! Love me! (Aude walks slowly to the center of the stage. Roland enters, he's like an innocent child.)

ROLAND (smiling): Hello Aude.

AUDE: Roland! You are here. I know you could not die. I knew it.

ROLAND: I thought of you.

AUDE: I always think of you. I miss you so much when you are away. So much.

ROLAND: I know. I see a multitude of things now.

AUDE: At this moment I feel more love from you than have ever felt. I know you love me. Everything seems so peaceful in you.

ROLAND: I am not going to fight for France anymore. I am through fighting for anything.

AUDE (embracing him): Oh Roland, you can be with me all the time. I will never have to wait again.

ROLAND: Neither of us will have to wait again.

AUDE: You feel so good.

ROLAND: I will never have to kill another man again. My days of looking at death are over.

AUDE: Let's walk through the garden.

ROLAND: Yes. Let's walk through the garden. (Imaginary garden.)

AUDE: It is so nice and peaceful out here.

ROLAND: Yes, it is full of peace.

AUDE: The roses. Look at them, just blooming on your return. They were buds when you left. (pause) Are we going to be married soon? You do not have to go out battling anymore.

ROLAND: The roses are beautiful in full bloom. You are even more beautiful in your full bloom. I guess it is now... the time to look at you... because myself and my entire body being is not divided by distracting illusions, not pressured by the confines of time, now all of my being can see you. Your naive beauty filling my soul with sweet scents. We are at last and finally moving into each other, our souls resting comfortably. I would give eternity for this small moment.

AUDE: I've always loved you. That is all I can say. We are together now and you will not leave. (pause) You said you would not leave!

ROLAND: I am not going to battle anymore. I think we'd better kiss now.

AUDE: What is it? Something is not right.

ROLAND (caressing her face): Your simple sweet kiss is all I have left. It is all I ever want. (They kiss tenderly. Two Guards enter carrying a litter with Roland's sword and some roses on it. Charles follows. The Guards set the litter down behind Aude and Roland. The Guards exit.)

CHARLES: I am sorry Aude. Roland is dead. (Roland breaks away from Aude and stands by the litter. The four women walk out and wait. Aude screams.) His death was one of the most heroic deaths that anyone has ever died. Roland killed God's enemy by the thousands before they got him. He is a true hero. (Aude picks up Roland's sword from the litter and puts the point against her stomach. She walks over to Roland.)

AUDE: Help me, Roland. I want my love with you.

ROLAND: I will. I understand now. (He pushes the sword and Aude guides it into her stomach. Roland lies down on the litter.)

AUDE (lying down next to him): Oh Roland.

ROLAND: We are together. Only us and eternity. It is God's love. (Pagan Maid enters with blood all over her face. She is smiling.)

AUDE: I love you, Roland. (Maid pulls Aude off the litter and lays down next to Roland.)

MAID: My Roland, we have each other forever. My face will forever brighten your eyes with its rosy color. Look at my face, love! (Laughs. The four women carry the two of them off-stage on the litter.)

CHARLES (bending over Aude): Dead. Took her own life. Guards! (Two guards enter.) Take Roland's body to the place of honor. (The guards pantomime carrying the litter off-stage.) Roland will never be forgotten. I will have a song written about him.


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