The Mummers Play – A Christmas Tradition

I discovered the MUMMERS PLAY while researching SUICIDAL MANIACS, and would love to have it performed here in this house in Northern California where I’m spending Christmas, but that isn’t going to happen in this isolated farmland, so I send the script out to my readers hoping someone takes up the tradition.  It’s all play.  Merry Christmas.

“Eliza prints out versions of the Mummers play that cover the floor like fresh fallen snow. She plans that she and her friends will perform the cycle of plays, trite old pieces, and Shauna wonders if it’s not almost a séance Eliza’s planning.

“Shauna reads the play as she picks up the pages strewn on the carpet:

1. When righteous Joseph wedded was,

Unto a virtuous/virgin maid,

A glorious angel from heaven came,

Unto that virtuous/virgin maid,

Unto that virtuous/virgin maid.

2. O mortal man remember well,

When Christ our lord was born,

He was crucified betwixt two thieves

and crown’ed withe thorn,

And crown’ed with the thorn.

 

3. O mortal man remember well,

When Christ died on the rood,

’Twas for our sins and wicked ways,

Christ shed his precious blood,

Christ shed his precious blood.

4. O mortal man remember well,

When Christ was wrapped in clay,

He was taken to a sepulcre,

where no man ever lay,

Where no man ever lay.

5. God bless the mistress of this house,

With gold all/chain round her breast,

Where e’er her body sleeps or wakes,

Lord send her soul to rest.

6. God bless the master of this house,

With happiness beside,

Where e’er his body rides or walks,

Lord Jesus be his guide.

7. God bless your house, your children too,

Your cattle and your store,

The Lord increase you day by day,

And send/give you more and more.

Last week we hosted Yumi Sakugawa for a reading as part of our Second Sunday series at Artwalk (www.artwalkinc.org) and tonight will be the longest night of the year, so I’d like to share Yumi’s thought on the moon.  I’m in northern California for this night, and of course it’s raining, but I hope it clears long enough to see the moon.
Check out Yumi Sakagawa’s site and her comics.  One of my favorites, and a Staff Pic at Skylight Books (www.skylightbooks.com), is There is No Right Way to Meditate.
Happy Winter Solstice everyone.  The light increases starting now.

 

←yumi sakugawa :: illustrations + comics

 

 

 

 

Launching SUICIDAL MANIACS AND THE LADY OF SHALOTT

SPECIAL EVENT!

THE AI FACULTY PRESENTS THE FIRST IN A NEW FACULTY READING SERIES
First Featured Reader:  Roberta Morris Will read selections from her new book,

 

 

Suicidal Maniacs and the Lady of Shalott

 

Come celebrate the launch of this literary achievement and celebrate a wonderful faculty member!

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 12PM

3RD floor 

STUDENT LOUNGE

Reading at Art Institute of California – Hollywood

You are invited to
THE FIRST IN A NEW
FACULTY READING SERIES
First Featured Reader:
Roberta Morris

Will read selections from her new book,

Suicidal Maniacs and the Lady of Shalott

Come celebrate the launch of this literary achievement and celebrate a wonderful faculty member!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 5, 12PM
3RD FLOOR STUDENT LOUNGE

5250 Lankershim Boulevard

North Hollywood, CA 91601

Suicidal Maniacs and the Lady of Shalott is out!

So I’m holding a copy of my newest novel in my hand, and feel free to let it go entirely.  Of course, I have to work on publicity but it is done, out there in the world.  It is out there and I can move on.  This feels like the happy ending to a difficult love affair.

Thanks to all the people who worked with me on this project:  first and foremost to my daughter Andrea who inspired, encouraged, edited and now is helping with promotion. < http://www.andreamorris.com >  She has taught me to respect the art of acting even if I still don’t understand it, the mystery of making someone else besides yourself real in your very person.  It seems hard enough to make yourself real — to make some other self real?  Amazing.

And thanks to my son who encourages my writing at all stages.  Special thanks to Lisa Helene Donovan Bacalski for all she did to edit this book and for designing my website, to Jen Moran for providing the image for the front cover and Pat Millar for the image on the back cover.

What’s so good about bad poetry?

Last weekend I was staffing our booth for Artwalk (www.artwalkinc.org) at the annual ArtCycle event in East Hollywood, and the woman in the booth next to me was writing poems for people for $1.  It was more than sweet; it was inspiring.  There she worked away on an manual typewriter.  She wrote me a poem, but I forgot to ask her about copyright so I don’t feel right reproducing it here.  I also forgot to ask her name, and it isn’t legible on the poem she signed after writing it for me, so she will have to remain anonymous for now.

Her’s was quite good poetry, by the way, so how did we get onto the topic of bad poetry?  She and I  got talking about creative practices, one thing led to another to another, and finally to my “Bad Poetry” project.  I started it two years ago, writing one bad poem a day in a little red book.  I named it “Bad Poetry” at the outset and intended to write nothing but bad poetry in it.  I feel this succeeded where some projects, for instance my attempts to write good poetry, have failed.  It was freeing and creative work should be freeing.  Attempts to write good poetry can be freeing too, I realize, but in my experience not trying to write artfully was a huge pleasure and resulted in some… bad poems.  So I succeeded.

I love the Balinese saying, “We have no art; we try to do everything as well as we can.”  But sometimes the opposite might be the case; not trying to do something well, just doing it, can result in some interesting art.

New Novel sent off as an attachment – how weird is that?

Okay, it’s gone to press.  The manuscript for Suicidal Maniacs and the Lady of Shalott I sent off yesterday as a file attachment – after years of work on that novel.

I remember submitting No Words for Love and Famine to my publisher on a disk, thinking that might be the height of alienated labor; all the work that goes into writing a novel comes down to rearranged bits and bytes on a small disk.  But no, that wasn’t anywhere near as alienating as this experience yesterday.  This novel isn’t even submitted in “the body of the text”, “the body” being a metaphor that’s stretched a bit too far when you are referring to email.  And the novel isn’t even part of the body; it’s simply an attachment.

So here again I need to practice the principle of non-attachment.  Everything passes and all we do is love and labor as best we can.  “Attachment” then is in fact an excellent metaphor, because as an author I become way too attached to my little project and have to simply let it go.  It’s done.   Send it off.  Press “enter”.

 

SUICIDAL MANIACS AND THE LADY OF SHALOTT will be released November 17, 2012. 

Contact the author at www.RobertaMorrisAuthor.com to arrange a reading or interview.

Second Life

First, I have to admit I’m having difficulty keeping up with my first life, as a philosopher/priest/novelist. So the appeal of Second Life (http://secondlife.com/whatis/?lang=en-US) wasn’t immediately attractive. I was introduced to Second Life by the physicists in the Kira Institute who were trying to work on high level physics theory across the international dateline so they moved into Second Life.

But the character in my novel, Suicidal Maniacs and the Lady of Shalott has a simple goal:  She wants to create her imaginary world and mount a medieval play – The Mummers Play.  This is a traditional Christmas play which is hard to even consider in this heat wave we’re experiencing across North America, but maybe it’s a way to chill out.  Is there a medievalist playwright/Second Life geek out there who wants to collaborate on this project?

 

Here’s the script from the novel:

Eliza prints out versions of the Mummers play that cover the floor like fresh fallen snow.  She plans that she and her friends will perform the cycle of plays:

1. When righteous Joseph wedded was,Unto a virtuous/virgin maid,
A glorious angel from heaven came,Unto that virtuous/virgin maid,
Unto that virtuous/virgin maid.
2. O mortal man remember well,When Christ our lord was born,
He was cricified betwixt two theives

and crown’ed withe thorn,
And crown’ed with the thorn.

3. O mortal man remember well,When Christ died on the rood,
‘Twas for our sins and wicked ways,

Christ shed his precious blood,
Christ shed his precious blood.

4. O mortal man remember well,When Christ was wrapped in clay,
He was taken to a sepulcre,

where no man ever lay,
Where no man ever lay.

5. God bless the mistress of this house,
With gold all/chain round her breast,
Where e’er her body sleeps or wakes,
Lord send her soul to rest.
6. God bless the master of this house,
With happiness beside,
Where e’er his body rides or walks,
Lord Jesus be his guide.
7. God bless your house, your children too,
Your cattle and your store,
The Lord increase you day by day,
And send/give you more and more.

Eliza pours over a cookbook Shauna found, Pleyn Delit; medieval cooking for modern cooks.  She begins sewing costumes copying medieval folk dramas, reads everything she can get her hands on about the Mummer’s play.

Heidi is not a nun, but maybe a saint

Listening to this controversy that the Vatican has  incited by criticizing the good sisters in North American for not promoting the Vatican positions on sexuality, I consider a character we created in Sexual Mercy.  Heidi certainly is no nun – in fact she’s a lesbian phone sex operator – yet she may be articulating what the deepest Catholic teaching tries to maintain the connection between our sexuality and spirituality.  Here’s a stretch of conversation between Heidi and Dom that comes toward the end of the novel Sexual Mercy that might serve to illustrate that point:

            “I did love her.” [Dom]

            “Good, you recognize that it’s a verb.  Making love, the noun form, is the product of loving, as in the verb, an action.” [Heidi]

            “At least you recognize that this action, as you call it, doesn’t always have to be sexual.”

            Both women were noticeably testy, getting testier by the minute.

              “Just sexual?   As in just friends, as if friendship wasn’t the highest calling.”

            “According to you I should go back and fuck her, just to prove that I’m a human being.”

            “Who asked you to prove anything?”

            “Why are you trying to get the upper hand?”

            “Don’t get so defensive. I’m just trying to make a point.”

            “I can’t win here. Is that your point?  If Tuy and I were to become sexual partners again, that wouldn’t be as good as staying simply friends while, according to your logic, sex has some kind of mystical spiritual meaning.”

            “You’re absolutely right on that score.”

Both Heidi and Dom recognize that connection between spirituality and sexuality is close, they remind me of a story Fr. Jim, a priest for more than forty years, once told me:

 “You know, I have a friend, a psychiatrist, who told me he’d never had a patient come to him with a sexual problem that wasn’t, at the root, a spiritual problem.  I thought about it for a minute, then told him, ‘That’s interesting, because I’ve never had someone come to me with a spiritual problem that wasn’t, at the root, a sexual problem!’”

After decades of listening to confessions, Fr. Jim was well aware that our sexuality and our spirituality are intricately connected, maybe one in the same thing, a God given creative force pushing us to go beyond ourselves.  I think that’s Katy’s discovery in the novel.  Her husband is having an affair of sorts, with Heidi, a lesbian phone sex operator confined to a wheel chair.  Katy’s got to find her own power to be as sexually appealing as this voice on the phone, and in finding her own power I believe she comes to know a higher power, that which calls us to be powerfully compassionate, truly and completely a human being, body and soul, as one and ultimately/intimately with God.

The Vatican needs to learn to listen if they are going to provide any authentic leadership, listen to people who listen to the people, to renew their faith and inform their teachings certainly before they start giving directives to those people.

Re-reading yourself with an old novel; rewriting yourself with a new novel

Two years ago I had the strange experience of reading Huckleberry Finn while on vacation.  I enjoyed the novel every bit as much as I had the first time I read it, probably more for better understanding the author’s intention and pure genius.  Also, though, the pleasure I experienced in rereading it was in the odd experience of flashing back to the original experience, rereading both the text and my younger self at the same time.

The same thing is happening as I prepare my own novel, Vigil, to be reissued now as an eBook. As I move over the words looking for errors the scanner interjected, and a few embarrassing errors both my publisher, editor and I missed with the first edition, I flash back to that writer I was writing her first novel (and the issues that nearly did me in as a writer, and probably were doing in my marriage that ended soon after its publication.)  Where did that come from — the dark vision and the incredible optimism I experienced in what seemed to most a nightmare scenario.  I had not intended on writing a novel at the outset. Who were these people that took over my imagination and where did they come from?  Some people, friends and family, identified themselves in the novel but I don’t see that in any of them nor my characters though surely influences… well, influenced me.

When I come to the end it doesn’t end, I find.  Our language is a shared language, and the text grows and shrinks, ages and wrinkles and springs up to bite or delight us.