PetBoy and the Bird's Dream.
Art Box, James Joyce Street, Dublin 1. November, 2016.

Pet Boy and The Bird's Dream is a live performance, written, narrated and directed by Sonia Shiel. It takes the shape of a staged read through, featuring intrinsic props, costumes and minimal set pieces, around which the action is performed, gestured and narrated. Written in the future conditional tense, it examines a fictional story from the past, that has yet to happen. Pet Boy and the Bird's dream acts as a prologue, with a peculiar hindsight. It is the first part of a serialised project by Sonia Shiel, supported by the UCD Artist in Residence Programme, The Arts Council and DLR Co.Co, which will continue throughout 2017.

Snail Operator, Perch Painter, Make-up and Lighting Crew:
Waki Kamino, Emiline Notari and Verna Kokkonen.

Kim Dongjin : PETBOY
Giri Kurichiyath : PRESENT NARRATOR




DIRECTIONS: On a table sit rolled-up trees, like logs, bags of seeds, and a basin of pink powder with a larger than usual blusher brush. Paulie wears a jacket, Petboy has a basket and the Bird's Dream wears boots, eye shadow, hoops and a V-marked tracksuit. In the foreground a gymnastic style beam with a vertical stand juts thru centre stage, and on it stands the Bird's Dream. In the background a window, with its curtains drawn back, acts as a light box and is its single source. Throughout the performance, the stage directions and narrator's descriptions are bound together with the characters' improvisation, and their interaction with set pieces literally materialises a landscape word by word, while also telling the story of its pending devastation. Throughout the prologue two geometric wooden snails, one a real person and one made of material, both on wooden sticks, appear to move slowly away from each other, like billiards breaking in a reverse pulling motion. They are operated by the crew. There are two narrators, one - the present narrator, describes the action unfolding in front of the audience, the other - the conditional narrator, describes what the audience cannot see. The double dash symbol // indicates text or dialogue that is spoken at the same time. The ---represents a beat, or a pause and is used to space these concurrent phrases. The scene begins at a table.

PRESENT NARRATOR: A tableau of characters arrange the set around them accordingly, from a heap on the table, all-piled-up in a kind of predicted past-tense action. The Voice of a Bird's Dream is on a perch which is painted gold as she speaks. She appeals directly, to all the people.

DIRECTIONS: Light grows slowly throughout the monologue from behind the window, as if from dusk, to day, to heaven.

THE VOICE OF A BIRD'S DREAM: (continuous,)

Imagine please, that this is the last day on earth.

Imagine please, that this is the last day and we are the last people and it is just morning.

Imagine please, the sun rising.

Imagine it starting small and blooming and spilling everywhere.
Imagine feeling it on your skin.

Imagine turning your back and feeling it there.

Imagine it like a cat.

Imagine it like a cat who's died eight times already in this exact scenario in the afternoon.

Imagine this scenario as the last of a ninth life, and it is already mid-day.

Imagine living that ninth life, until this very last scenario comes around again.
Imagine knowing it is the ninth of nine, but being human.
Imagine it as a human on holiday at the very very end of August.
Imagine the holiday is getting colder and shorter.
Imagine everybody going home and the tide going out and it sucking everything dry, and taking your swim with it.
Imagine the first six o'clock.
Imagine the second six o'clock.
Imagine the evening and the sun setting slowly down upon you.
Imagine, then, feeling sleepy.

Imagine forgetting, just for a moment, that this is the last-part of the last-evening, the last-sleepy of the last-sleep, and - it is only dusk.

Imagine please, shaking yourself up and falling in love, believing instead the best lies ahead still, the night and the stars and the moon.
Imagine please, appreciating all your senses - so that everything you know is really, really clear and you can name all the beautiful things one by one, out loud, and not forget any.
Imagine please, the stars disappearing until there are only four.
Imagine in this night, with three stars left, not squabbling, or regretting, or worrying - about anything, but stripping naked and feeling the wind instead.
Imagine that wind inside you, changing on every breath, cyclonic and out of you, another and again until there are two stars, then one.
Imagine something came to save you and you climbed in.
Imagine it brought you to an egg and you had to build, right from the start, the whole world again - but inside a small room.
Imagine please, that this is the first day in the room.

Imagine that this is the first-morning, of the first-day in the room, and you are one of only two people in it.
Imagine please, making the room bright

Imagine making the sun out of a hole in the wall.
Imagine it starting small and blooming and spilling everywhere.
Imagine feeling it on your skin.

Imagine making birds sing, and the sea and the sky and a forest from seed, and a baby.

And being all together three, then two, then one.

Imagine please, you are the only one and you have been alone for a very long time already.

Imagine you are the only-child of the only-people-who-ever-were, in this room, and your life is spread out before you.

Imagine the first six o'clock,

Imagine the second six o'clock.

Imagine it like a cat, seven times, eight times, until it is the ninth.

PRESENT NARRATOR: During this time everybody else gets up and puts the set into order, the birds hang up the trees and briefly look out through them. Petboy brings the eggs to them and puts them inside pockets of the bark, then hangs his empty basket on his shoulder. The snails are lowered to the ground tenderly and the body of a snail is pushed inside. The window is hung up, the flowers are arranged on its sill, with some falling perfectly onto the ground. The Voice of a Bird's Dream finishes her monologue and everybody sits down again at the table with their scripts. They tell the story of Paulie, her family's factory and how in a day it disappears. Paulie gets her face painted pink with a brush. When she has finished she paints the next person. The next person paints the next person and on an on, in an implication of consequence.

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: From the moment that day begins, Paulie will feel untethered. And it won't be just Paulie, it will be everything in Paulie's world. It will be as if the trees are wandering out of the earth, a hundred roots at a time. And it will be as if all those roots have pulled up the mountains, brought them down the rivers and dumped them on all the cities. It will be that quiet. And it will be the quiet, that wakes everyone up.The factory of pink bricks, that has stood there making pink brick noise in Paulie's family for generations will be gone. Just dust on the ground, no warning, no announcement. And confounded people of people, of the same people who first worked there, for Paulie's great grandfather PetBoy, will have nowhere to go. And just like that, overnight, the wind, that has come knocking all these years on the hard factory walls and been sent away, will come charging through the open valley with nothing between it and Paulie's face, but pink.

PRESENT NARRATOR: Paulie's pink face looks astonished at something in the distance. They all see in front of them, an unthinkable disaster. And then - they all look at Paulie.

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: Paulie will see the faces of those around her like they've been skinned alive, she will think about what to say to those faces. She will remember PetBoy, and how he built everything up from nothing. Scraping a world together from selling an egg he had painted blue, as special. Everybody knew that was wrong, but it was the only wrong thing he ever did, and it was the very thing that did him. He bought the egg back for twice the price, but the factory ran like an old horse from day one.

PAULIE'S BROTHER: Cursed, every generation, cursed.

PAULIE: That's all in the past. You can't go wrong with bricks and mortar, its an honest living. We're lucky to be part of a legacy.

PAULIE'S BROTHER: Except when it turns on a dishonest turf.

PAULIE: Well dishonest turf, it may be but its ours, we've always made good use of it, shared it with the people, given them jobs, its been a good thing in the end and..

PAULIE'S BROTHER: And the doners?

PAULIE: We have one left. I'm meeting him for lunch.


PRESENT NARRATOR: Louis and Paulie stand and embrace over the table, one kiss on the cheek, Paulie takes off her jacket, hands it to the person next to her along the line until it comes back to her and sits slowly down as Louis says his line. She has her jacket on again, once lunch is over.

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: Louis is Paulie's and the factory's last hope, everything else has already failed. At one point during lunch, right at the very beginning, after Paulie has removed her coat, Louis, will announce to no great drama, that..

LOUIS: I'm going to blow my head off..

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: ....He's going to blow his head off - and Paulie's coat will be carried away from her, like a dingy in a storm. Paulie will find herself feeling her arms and legs and neck and face for blood and wishing they had been her words, not his. She will wish she had owned them - and not had to find something to say back.

PAULIE: If there are one hundred ways to loose your lover, I will think, there must a thousand ways to lose you mind and 10,000 ways to loose your chance, especially when your chance is one in a million.

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: Whatever Paulie doesn't say will work and Louis won't kill himself that day. But Paulie will picture it every other one, wondering did it happen yet. Just now...was that it? Is this it? And every time Paulie thinks of Louis' it, she will think of her own it.

PAULIE:(echo) Just now...was that it? Is this it?

PRESENT NARRATOR: Three workers wipe the pink aftermath off their faces and weigh up the odds.

WORKER J. Well somebody fucked up - the whole thing is ash.

WORKER C. None of us have been following procedures to the button.


WORKER K: You know that more than anyone Stan. (jokingly to WORKER J)

WORKER J: I tell ya what if it had been me, I'd have taken that blue egg collection and sold it for a small fortune years ago.

WORKER C: Too late now.

WORKER K: It's a terrible thing though. Everybody's lost, the town will be empty, the families will be broken up and this old place will just grow - - flowers I guess, flowers all over.

DIRECTIONS: 3 WORKERS (K, J,C) hold up the painted trees and pop their heads out of them, while PAULIE is alone at the table for a moment longer tidying up. Pet boy rises with his basket and approaches the trees, raising his head and following sounds like a tennis ball.

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: When PetBoy started collecting eggs from the trees he heard the birds crying, too....

PAULIE: ...And, he collected...

Directions: Paulie stares straight ahead and then raises her head and closes her eyes.

PRESENT NARRATOR: ..spoken to a voice in her head, above it..

CONDITIONAL NARRATOR: When this day is over Paulie will be alone, she will know now, that nobody suspects her. It was reckless and impulsive and - wrong, but its the only wrong thing Paulie's ever done, and it's still all in the future.


PRESENT NARRATOR: The trees wrap themselves tightly around the birds, like hugs and the CHOIR OF FOREST LIFE nestles in. Their little feet hang limply down, as they snooze in the fresh night air, announcing the names of flowers and trees, as if counting sheep and throwing seeds about the concrete floor. One by one they snore sweetly, whistle and coo. At intervals they make animal and atmospheric noises, so that the whole of a forest, is suggested within.

DIRECTIONS: A crescendo builds and fades out, from the naming-out-loud of flowers; the cat meowing (PAULIE); the cat saying help and the birds quieting down, to the lone whistle (SET NARRATOR/LOUIS) of a bird's warning, which is the very last sound During this time, PETBOY who has been carrying a basket and wandering through the trees, stops and listens for THE CAT, but PETBOY cannot locate it, so he continues fake-walking, more or less on the spot. THE TREES help with the effect of accelleration by moving up the line and making a constant rolling landscape..

PRESENT NARRATOR: animal noises, forest life, mostly birds, beautiful, Whistle.......--tweet, ---- chirp, ---- chirp --- // whistle Whistle.......--tweet, ---- chirp, ---- chirp -- whistle Whistle.......--tweet, ---- chirp, ---- chirp --

TREE K: ---/impatients, busy-lizzies, super-elfins, yew, icarus -----------/clematis, -- chedda, -- hydrangia ---- arboresence, annabel -------------


TREE C: ---------/fuchsia, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, primroses, tweet /elm tree --


TREE/PAULIE ---------------------------------------------meow, ---- me'ow, ---- me'olp ---- me-elp --- --- help ----- HELP!


PRESENT NARRATOR: The last two birds take heed, slow their words, whistle and stop. Once they hear the sound of the cat crying for help amongst them, the birds each keep one eye open-wide. Two snails on wooden sticks that have been slowly moving away from each other, forever, finally snap - as one is torn free of its shell and climbs into the other. There is silence, PetBoy is running and the space grows completely dark.




© Copyright.

Pet Boy and The Bird's Dream, has been developed as part of Avocado - a UCD Parity Studios' Artist-in-Residence production, by the 2017 Arts and Humanities' Artist-in-Residence Sonia Shiel. It involves the materialisation of Shiel's own dove-tailing short-stories into a new play and will see its adaptation to film, performance, sculpture and installation with a series of events throughout 2016 and 2017,