Play in One Act
by Pamela Carralero
In its worldwide cultural appeal, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest is an un-geographic play. Its continuous adaption and reinvention throughout history in theatre, poetry, and cinema begs the question as to what exactly attracts us to The Tempest. In my opinion, this attraction is because The Tempest is based on the individual’s plain and vicious fight for existence and identity within the world, a fight we have all encountered in one way or another. It is this sense of existence and self that I wanted to intimately explore Eden.
I became particularly interested in a post-colonialist understanding of The Tempest, especially through the characters of Ariel and Caliban, and wanted to explore what happens to a native people and their concept of nation and identity when a colonizing country retracts its presence from a native place. Can the inhabitants ever reconcile themselves with this home that has been changed? With their identity that has been supplanted, categorized, and interpolated? With each other? I wanted Eden to be a close, unsettling investigation into these questions, and attempted to do so by creating a very close relationship between the personal and the political.
A new life of awareness and identity, however, is not always easy to accept. I have not ended Eden with Ariel and Caliban’s complete acceptance and transition into these new identities, but with their understanding that a transition must somehow take place and their beginning steps to instill it. It is my hope that it will provoke the modern audience, regardless of their geographical location, to contemplate their own sense of identity and nation.
- A native spirit of the, clean, well groomed
- A native humanoid of the island, dirty, disheveled
The setting is Prospero’s cave. There is a weathered armchair, beside it a lamp. A desk and chair are positioned towards the back end of the stage as well as a clothes rack, where three ragged coats hang. On the desk is a small vase of wilting flowers. In the corner there is a bed frame with nothing on it but a mattress.
Caliban and Ariel stand center stage, staring across the audience to the back of the theater, watching Prospero's ship recede into the distance. Ariel waves. He holds a mirror in one hand, small enough to not be very noticeable. They watch the ship until it disappears.
Caliban turns to survey the stage behind them, walking around Prospero’s cave. He does not notice when Ariel looks down at the mirror in his hand.
Caliban looks under the seat cushion of the armchair, he touches things, he looks into the desk drawers.
Caliban They didn't leave a single thing behind, did they?
Ariel (pocketing the mirror) No. Except those rags on the railing.
Caliban Did he say anything to you in the end?
Ariel Well, he set me free. I guess that’s a goodbye in itself. We shook hands.
Caliban Was he sad?
Ariel Not particularly... Are you?
Caliban No. Do you think I’m sad to see Prospero go? This is my island now. I am king now.
Ariel I was here long before you.
Caliban You’re a spirit, you own nothing.
Ariel – Long before your mother ever saw this island from her boat.
Caliban (explosive) I will not subjugate myself again!
Ariel (quietly) I was hardly going to suggest such a thing.
Look, would it not be the ultimate freedom to be equals?
Ariel Yes. We could both be kings.
Caliban I want to be Almighty.
Ariel No one is almighty, Caliban.
Caliban Prospero was.
Ariel Men are always limited.
Caliban I am only half-man. I won’t be limited in the same way.
Ariel Caliban, would you imprison me against my will? Would you have me grovel? Would you happily shove me so far beneath you? (Pause) We are island-brothers.
Caliban fiddles with the standing lamp trying to turn it on.
Caliban How is it done, then? How do we both become kings?
Ariel We each dub each other. It’s a ceremony of sorts.
Caliban (still fiddling with the light) I don’t ever understand how this light turned on!
Ariel snaps his fingers. The lamp turns on.
Caliban (suddenly, fiercely) If I let us both become kings you must swear never
to use your magic against me!
Ariel You think I ever would?
Caliban Swear it!
Ariel I swear it.
Caliban Double it: You promise you swear it?
Ariel I promise I swear never to use magic against you. Now come here so I can make you king.
Ariel goes to take a wilted flower from the vase.
Caliban Those are Miranda’s flowers!
Ariel They’re our flowers now.
Caliban But what if they come back?
Ariel No one is coming back, Caliban. We’re alone now. Stand here. No – facing me. Do you, Caliban, accept kingship over this island?
Caliban I do.
Ariel And do you, Caliban, pledge to honor our mutual kingship?
Caliban I do.
Ariel Then Caliban become a King of the Natural Island. (He touches the head of the flower first on both Caliban’s shoulders).
Ariel hands the flower to Caliban.
Caliban Do you, Ariel, accept kingship over this island?
Ariel I do.
Caliban And honor our mutual kingship?
Ariel I do.
Caliban And never use your magic against me?
Ariel I already swore that.
Caliban Swear it.
Ariel I already did! – Twice!....I do.
Caliban Then, Ariel, become a King of the Natural Island.
They shake hands, exchanging pleased congratulations.
Caliban Is that it, then?
Ariel Well, yes, I suppose.
Caliban Then what do we do as kings.
Ariel Whatever we want, I guess.
Caliban So where are all our subjects?
Ariel We have none.
Caliban But what’s a king without subjects?
Ariel Why we’re the kings of everything, Caliban. Everything on the island is ours now. Our rocks. Our cliffs. Our chairs.
Caliban But then there’s no one to whom we can say – “don’t touch that, it’s mine!”
Ariel That’s what selfish children say.
Caliban That’s what kings say.
Ariel That’s not what kings say.
Caliban But how do we exercise our authority? Who will worship us? To whom will we show our generosity? To whom do we vent our anger upon? To whom do I say all my speeches too?
Ariel You’ve made up speeches?
Caliban Who dares betray me? I command the Natural Island! They who betray me shall perish in the volcanic plains of the higher regions, scabbed with thirst, blighted by the sun! And what you touch shall scorch your hands! And what you hear shall be the calls of the waiting carrion crows! And what you eat shall be ash and what you see shall make you wail to a sulfurous sky! Repent, repent the blight that is your disloyalty!
Ariel Do you have any nice, peaceful speeches?
Caliban I haven’t thought up any yet.
Ariel You might as well. I don’t think we’re going to have to worry about any troublesome subjects.
Ariel What are we going to do with all this stuff?
Caliban Keep it.
Ariel But it’s theirs.
Caliban It was. This is our home now. Why should we not enjoy it? Eat the way they ate, sit the way they sat. It’s ours now.
Caliban takes a small knife from a sheath at his side. He takes out a whetting stone and begins to sharpen it.
Ariel (alarmed) What are you doing? Where did you get a knife?
Caliban I made it.
Ariel When? (Caliban doesn’t respond) Did Prospero know? (Caliban snorts) You forged that of the island? You took our island’s resources and turned it into a weapon? You’ll have our island murder?
Caliban (angrily) Who said anything of murder?
Caliban You are so quick to accuse me. The island helps to protect us. If I was told that I was going to slide back into the past and relive my life up until now and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening – I would kill myself. If anyone tried to make me relive my life until now I would kill them. Ariel: we must be ready for the next shipwreck. We must prepare ourselves.
Ariel There’s not going to be any other shipwrecks. That time is over. Caliban, we’re alone now.
Caliban You’re being naïve. It’s never over. The way of the world is a vicious circle of imprisonment, liberation, imprisonment, liberation. That’s how it works. But this time, our positions are going to change. This time we’re going to make sure that we are the hunters, not the hunted. We’re going to be the masters, not the slaves.
Let’s set watch for a ship. You go first.
Caliban continues to sharpen his knife. Ariel sits down at the mouth of the cave. He discreetly takes the mirror out of his pocket. He looks at his reflection in it.
Ariel A knife isn’t going to protect you from anything.
Caliban I would need something bigger?
Ariel You would need a lot of things bigger.
Caliban (getting up, excited; Ariel quickly pockets the mirror) You’re right! Come with me. Let’s go down to the beach and see if we can collect rocks for sharpened spear heads. Then let’s go into the jungle and cut some shafts for spears and pikes and javelins!
Ariel No! You do not cut those from the island?
Caliban Then where do we get them from?
Ariel We don’t! You will not profane the island to create weapons for violence!
Caliban For protection!
Ariel Don’ try and fool me, Caliban.
Caliban Well, if you won’t go with me then you stay here. Keep watch for a ship. I’ll go alone.
Ariel (authoritatively) Sit down!
Caliban sits down in the armchair. After a moment he brings out his knife and begins to sharpen it against the whetting stone again.
Caliban We will have to make prisons for the prisoners of war. (Ariel doesn’t respond) We can put them on the plateau plains so that escape is nearly impossible. There would be nowhere to hide. Our spies will see them before they get to any cover.
Ariel We don’t have any spies.
Caliban We’ll solicit the help of the other island spirits.
Ariel Fine. You ask them.
Caliban (afraid of the spirits) Maybe we don’t actually need their help. (Pause) Then we’ll have to build a wall around the prison compound to make sure they can’t escape.
Ariel Caliban! Too much! What is wrong with you?
Caliban (angrily) Prospero’s love obviously ruined your sense of reality. You were safe with him, Ariel – you aren’t safe anymore! What are you going to do the day they come? Offer them your services? Betray the island? Why do you refuse to help me protect our home? – our kingdom? I won’t be imprisoned again!
Ariel You won’t be! My magic is far greater than any spears or pikes or javelins that anyone could throw at us. I can control the currents; make sure that any potential threat does not arrive. The sea will protect us. I won’t let anything happen. I’ll keep them away. Don’t you trust me? (Caliban is silent.) Don’t you?
Ariel We are island-brothers. I wouldn’t let anything happen to you. Give me the knife.
Ariel Give me the knife.
Caliban gives Ariel the knife; Ariel pockets it.
Caliban begins to wander around the cave again. He goes over to the clothing railing. He looks at the three coats on their hangers, chooses the one in the best condition, and puts it on. He looks down at himself.
Caliban How do I look? Pretty kingly, no?
Ariel (turning to look) A bit on the shabby side.
Caliban Can’t you make it better? Just a wiggle of your fingers?
Ariel Turn it inside out.
Caliban Come on, King Ariel. Just humor me.
Ariel I’m telling you, King Caliban - turn it inside out.
Caliban takes off the coat. He turns it inside out; the coat becomes colorful robes.
Caliban (putting it on) Very impressive! What a coat!
Ariel Very regal.
Caliban The things I could do with such a coat. In it I could understand the formation of the things of this world. I could exist in the splendor of knowledge. I could truly be King Caliban.
Ariel It’s just a coat.
Caliban (picking up the broom) And the things I could do with a staff! If only I had Prospero’s book.
Ariel You can’t read.
Caliban It is you who cannot read! I know more than you think! If only I could have read one word of one sentence of one page of one book.
Ariel King’s don’t need to know how to read, though.
Caliban They need to know how to read their spells. They need to know how to draw runes and call spirits.
Ariel They need to be wise.
Caliban I am a wise king. I can read. If he had only left one torn scrap I might have learned how to bring out the sun or summon the rain.
There is the sound of rain. Ariel is obliging Caliban again.
Caliban I summon the rain! I summon the winds! (The sound of wind and rain) You angry clouds, baptize the island and its new authorities! I want the sea to celebrate! Toss the waves, make them roar and swell! (The sound of pounding waves) Engender the tempest! I have engendered the tempest! Ariel! Ariel! Take on your sea-form! Morph! And like a water nymph, invisible to all except I, slide along the pulls and throws of the currents to the ship! Tell me where they are! Where is Prospero and his cohort? Tell me what registers on their faces when they realize that my usurpation and damnation will be avenged! Did they think they could forget the past twelve years?
The sound effects abruptly end.
Caliban Why did you stop? Bring it back!
Ariel That’s not what being king’s about!
Caliban Have you seen nothing these twelve years? That is exactly what being king is about: exultation of almighty power.
Ariel You are ignorant! What are your things, but someone else’s refuse? – Playing dress-up in Prospero’s rags! Trash! Backwash! You have no morals, Caliban, you have no mercy, you have no thought – you have become the cowering, snarling creature they made you out to be.
Caliban You should have gone with them. You look like them, you smell like them, you talk like them with a tongue that Prospero himself must have cut in two. You are perverted! The Island ousts you! You are not fit to be king! I will curse you all myself! Through the raw power of the Island, which I command! I call upon my mother, Sycorax, to –
Ariel Never play with the names of the dead. Especially those as cursed as your mother’s.
Ariel moves to exit.
Caliban Where are you going?
Ariel I’m leaving.
Caliban Where to?
Ariel The wildflower field.
Caliban That’s all the way across the island. You will never make it there before dark.
Ariel Caliban, I am the dark.
Ariel moves to exit.
Caliban Ariel, wait. You can’t go. You can’t leave me here! Stay with me! Things happen at night! The spirits are waiting to torment me!
Ariel Don’t be ridiculous. Why you’re king now. You command them.
Caliban There is nothing holding them back now! Be my protection! I won’t make you do anything again! I swear! I’ll throw off my robes! You can be ultimate king! (falls to his knees) I’ll be your slave – your humble Caliban – he’ll pledge his love. You’ll have his loyalty.
Ariel I’ve seen your so-called loyalty before. You got drunk on Stephano’s bottle and the hope of Prospero’s death! I was the only one who stopped it from happening!
Caliban But you are my island-brother. Remember when I sat by your pine all those years you were trapped? I kept you company, made sure that the woodpecker didn’t forage against your trunk, made sure the squirrel didn’t delve into your roots. Remember? I stayed with you out of love. I protected you.
Ariel Caliban, I am making you king of Prospero’s cave. I, as king, relinquish my hold on it. I want the flower field.
Caliban No! Stay with me!
Ariel You can visit me tomorrow, if you wish.
Caliban Stay! Stay!...Now I am the only one left. Everyone has gone and Caliban is left in this awful place. What am I to do? What am I to do? I have no power to exist on my own. The spirits will come. There is no command holding them back – If I could have only seen one word of one sentence of page of one book…then I would have been a king. Worthless! Worthless, Caliban! You are worthless! Miranda didn’t love you, Prospero’s didn’t love you, Ariel has left you. Worthless.
And now I have no one to call upon. Will there even be moonlight? Do I dare go out and look? They might see me. (He moves to step out of the cave, hears a noise) – What was that? What was that? Something has heard me! They know I’m here! (He hides, terrified)
Ariel (searching) Caliban? Caliban?
Caliban crawls into sight.
The next morning:
Ariel is on the bed, sleeping. He is covered in the robes Caliban was wearing last night.
There is a bathtub in the middle of the stage. On the desk there is a plate of fruit and a sponge. Caliban enters carrying a bucket of water. He carefully pours the water into the bathtub, and exits.
The noise of the water wakes Ariel. He quickly feels his pocket, to make sure the mirror is still there. Realizing he is alone, he takes out the mirror. He looks at his reflection.
Ariel (talking to his reflection) Beauty makes us akin, she told me. Take it.
It is yours, Ariel had said, I made it for you.
I want you to have it, she had said. So you can remember on this ugly island that you too are beautiful.
And then she got on the ship and sailed away to Italia. And Ariel is left here.
There is a noise backstage and Ariel hides the mirror.
Caliban enters, carrying two buckets of water with difficulty.
Ariel What are you doing?
Caliban I didn’t mean to wake you. There is breakfast waiting for you on your desk. (He pours the water into the bath) Your bath is almost ready.
Ariel Caliban, what are you doing?
Caliban I have drawn you your bath. I have warmed the water over a fire outside. Don’t you want it? Shall Caliban empty it again?
Ariel Why are you doing this?
Caliban For your generous protection last night I swore I would serve you.
Ariel I didn’t come back because I wanted to enslave you. I came back because you are my island-brother, and I care –
Caliban (quickly moving to exit) I’ll go heat more water. It’s the last bucket. While you wait there is breakfast on the desk.
Ariel Caliban. Stop. Why are you treating me like Prospero? This is Prospero’s morning routine.
Caliban Would you rather have breakfast after your bath?
Ariel (getting up) – No, that’s not the point. I don’t want you to treat me like that. I don’t want you to treat me like this, humiliatingly slave for me, peel and cut my fruit, heat water in a bucket for my bath.
Caliban We are not equals anymore. You came back last night. I now serve you.
Ariel You owe me nothing. Not a single thing stirred towards us last night despite what you feared.
Caliban You asked me how you could trust me when I have not been true to my word in the past. Now I am showing you how I can be I am being true to my word. I’ll be back soon.
Ariel stops him. He takes the buckets from Caliban.
Ariel How about you take the bath? I’ll go fill these up. (Caliban goes to take the buckets back but Ariel moves away) You need it and I don’t. Being king of the Natural Island doesn’t mean you have to be covered in it. Why don’t you get in? Go on. I’ll fill these up.
Caliban (looking after him, angrily) Well, what am I to you? Pet? Toy? Joke? Get in the bath? Is this some sort of test? You are as powerful as Prospero. If I do wrong then I am back to the cramps and stitches – that pain that was my daily punishment. (He looks to see if Ariel is coming, then hungrily steals a piece of fruit from the plate and picks up the sponge) Up since dawn, even before the crabs began to settle down with the first light, Caliban has been dragging the water from the fresh pool to the fireside, heating it over the fire, and then when he sticks his finger in to test the heat and its hot enough to burn him he toils up to the cave to pour it into the bath. Then I head back down to the pool. This was how Prospero had me do it. This is how I have done it. And then you go and say that you will fetch the water and that I will take the bath?
(Caliban begins to undress) Well who am I to you if you say you are not like Prospero? Am I still some sort of debasing creature, dragging my stomach along through the dirt? Am I the poisonous, abominable monster? Ugly and deformed? But last night you came back. And this morning I was certain each time I left the cave that when I returned you would not be there – that your good grace is limited and that you would have flown to your wildflower field.
Caliban gets in the bath. He begins washing with the sponge.
Ariel enters. He pours the last two buckets into the bath. He then goes towards the desks, stops, and checks to make sure that the mirror is still in his pocket. He brings it out, looks at it, and then puts it away. He gets the fruit plate and offers it to Caliban.
Ariel You must be hungry.
Caliban But that’s yours.
Ariel What’s mine is yours. We’re equals, remember?
Caliban (taking a piece of fruit) Thank you.
Ariel You’re welcome.
Caliban I’m sorry about last night.
Ariel You were angry.
Caliban You understand?
Ariel I think so.
Caliban Ariel – how do you see me? What am I to you?
Ariel You are my island-brother.
Caliban Yes, but – what is an island-brother? Am I monstrous? Am I apart from you? Am I like you?
Ariel We are not like each other, Caliban.
Caliban Yes, but, am I akin?
Ariel Yes, Caliban. Of course.
Ariel gives Caliban the plate of fruit and takes the sponge from him. He begins to wash Caliban’s back.
Caliban This is making me uncomfortable.
Ariel In Italia the kings have their servants wash them.
Caliban (eating the fruit) Italia. Is that where they went?
Ariel Yes. I’d have liked to see it. They said it’s a beautiful place filled with beautiful people.
Caliban Why would you want to go there, then?
Ariel You don’t want to go to a beautiful place filled with beautiful people?
Caliban We are not a part of their beauty.
We’re different. They were never a part of us and we were never part of them.
Ariel They were part of us.
Caliban They weren’t part of the island. They were parasitic in their consuming of it. To be beautiful is not to be worldly – and we are worldly creatures. We do not study the stars for their meaning, but for their magnificence. We do not observe the island to understand and categorize it, but because its worth looking at. That is the beauty that we are a part of. We are of the island, Ariel. Only we belong here.
Ariel And we could not belong to anywhere else?
Caliban No. We are creatures of one place.
Ariel But a place can be a place of many creatures. Our island is.
Caliban Well, the crabs and the birds and the weeds and the bats and the sunflowers and the badgers and foxes all make up the island – they build this place.
Ariel I wasn’t talking about them.
Caliban We build this place as well.
Ariel I wasn’t talking about us.
Caliban (flatly) Prospero did nothing but take and take and take. He did not make up the island, he commanded it. He was present through tyranny, not through existence.
Ariel But he did exist here. His footprints made impressions in the sand, he went hungry, he sweated in the heat and shivered at night – he scrabbled for existence on this rock like any of us.
Caliban Rock? You should call the island ‘life’, not ‘rock’.
Ariel What is freedom when you’re trapped here?
Caliban Ariel! Do you hear yourself? Don’t speak like them. This is our island. What was Prospero’s exile and imprisonment is our paradise. This is our garden that we have watched grow. We’ve tended and have been tended by it, we’ve watched it trampled and have been trampled with it when he found us, when he named us and taught us to speak. We were once taken away from the island but now we have been brought back.
Ariel Do we build this place? If we build this place the island changes according to what we are. And what are we, Caliban?
Caliban I am not Caliban.
And you are not Ariel. If we were Caliban and Ariel we would still be the servants of Prospero. And we’re not. We’re different.
Ariel puts down the sponge and takes the plate from Caliban.
Ariel Well, you don’t look like a servant anymore. I have scrubbed you beautiful.
Caliban (getting out, drying off; jokingly) Beautiful? (putting on his clothes) Is that how the servants are instructed to clean the kings? ‘Until beautiful’?
Ariel does not respond, placing the plate on the desk.
Caliban drops the joke and becomes serious.
Caliban I’ll empty this and then will gather more wood since there’s none left in here.
Ariel You don’t need to continue with Prospero’s chores. You’re free.
Caliban But –
Ariel (outburst)I don’t want to be your king!
Caliban Ariel – I am happy here with you.
Caliban begins to push the bath offstage.
Ariel (takes out the mirror, examining his face in it) I feel like two halves of an egg, empty shells, broken apart and then brought together again, a jagged fault running down the middle of what was once whole. (checks his face) It destroys what could be beautiful.
Ariel, if only your reflection could speak. If only it could tell you. If only you could become it, and be not of the element of this island but a reflection smiling out on the world, not to be blamed for the fault or the break because what are you? – nothing more than a reflection.
I made this for you, Miranda, because you were beautiful and you were a child, and I wanted you to see yourself and recognize that smiling reflection as your own.
Caliban enters, unnoticed by Ariel. He stops and watches Ariel, uncomprehending.
I didn’t want you to grow up thinking that you were like the island, dirty and barren and plain. I wanted you to know that your exile was a state, not an existence – that your beauty would never be infringed by it. And now you have left me with it and it only reminds me that my exile is my existence.
Do I regret – ? (Pause) No.
Caliban Regret what?
Ariel quickly pockets the mirror.
What was that in your hand?
Ariel Nothing was in my hand.
Caliban You put it in your pocket.
Ariel I can stand with my hand in my pocket while admiring the view.
Caliban Come on – let me see.
Ariel I have nothing to show you, Caliban.
Caliban (good naturedly) What are you hiding from me?
Ariel Nothing – just leave me alone.
Caliban tries to get at Ariel’s pocket. They get into a scuffle.
Caliban Look! A ship! A ship!
Ariel (eagerly) Where?
Through the distraction Caliban is able to wrestle away the mirror. In the process, Caliban’s knife falls out of Ariel’s pocket, but goes relatively unnoticed by both of them.
Caliban (triumphant) Ha-ha!
Caliban looks at the mirror and immediately sees his reflection. He is shocked. He does not like what he sees. He touches his face, as if to make sure the reflection is indeed his.
Ariel I cannot see the ship.
Caliban (still looking at his reflection)What is this? This is Miranda’s. How did you get this?
Ariel I cannot see it – perhaps it is beyond the horizon. I am going to go search for it!
Caliban You fool! You really thought they had returned? You’re an idiot!
Ariel (realizing) How dare you trick me like that. (sees Caliban has the mirror)
Caliban (yelling) Why do you have Miranda’s mirror? You stole it!
Ariel She gave it to me.
Caliban Why would she give this to you?
Ariel It was a present. She gave it to me before she left.
Caliban She gave you a goodbye present? She said goodbye to you?
Ariel Did she not say goodbye to you?
With a cry of anger Caliban lifts his arm to hurl the mirror to the ground.
Ariel (stopping him) No!
Caliban (struggling with Ariel) What! Did she favor you, wisp? Did she favor you so much, brother, that she would give you a remembrance token without even a question on my behalf? Was I kept away on purpose? – Cowering in the cave at Prospero’s command, waiting for someone to come get me, waiting to be taken to join them on the ship though I would have been manacled and shoved below deck!
Ariel It’s not that, Caliban! It isn’t a love token, it’s a remembrance token! Let go! It is mine!
Caliban You will not have it!
They struggle fiercely. When they move away from each other Ariel has the mirror.
Caliban Why would she give that to you and give me nothing?
Ariel How can you ask that, Caliban, after you —
Caliban After what?
Ariel After what you did!
Caliban What? What did I do, Ariel? ‘How can you ask that, Caliban after you –’
Ariel (in unison) Raped her!
Caliban (in unison) Raped her!
Caliban But I didn’t!
Ariel No one believed you.
Caliban Do you believe me, Ariel? Do you believe that I could attack something that I so loved? Something that allowed me to survive an enslaved and hated existence?
Ariel does not respond.
Caliban She was teaching me how to read! She had petted me! I went to kiss her!
Ariel She was bruised where you held her!
Caliban She tried to strike me! She scratched at my eyes! And he beat me until every inch of my body cried for mercy – then chained me to a rock, and like Prometheus I suffered every day with no respite. None. Even at night there was no rest – cast out, left alone, to a dig a hole like some animal to sleep in. And where were you? Where were you?
Ariel Caliban, I couldn’t –
Caliban I sat through you with your torment! I was there! Where were you for mine?
Ariel Caliban, I was bound to Prospero’s command just as you were!
Caliban Never as I was. You were valued. You were loved. And what I loved I never saw again. I should have hated her afterwards. It should have made me wish that I had truly hurt her to watch him suffer! – But there was no such wish in me, Ariel. Love is worldly, carnal – It rips you apart, you sacrifice yourself to it. And I sacrificed myself to it.
Ariel does not respond.
Did Prospero forbid her to say goodbye to me? Was she only being obedient?
Ariel does not respond.
Then did she laugh at me in the end? Did she say I was pathetic, evil, and monstrous? Did she wish I was dead? Ariel! Did she say anything about me?
Ariel shakes his head.
Ariel I am sorry, Caliban.
Caliban You cannot be. You cannot comprehend having lost love.
Ariel Yes, I can.
Caliban (angrily) You loved her?
Ariel As a sister.
Caliban As a sister? Then you wanted them to return when I said I saw a ship? You thought they had returned to you, to pick you up and take you away to their beautiful land of beautiful people? Ariel, I pity you. You think they loved you? You were nothing to them but a means!
Ariel (angrily) Yes you were kept away! She is married. To Ferdinand, Alonso’s son. They were married before they left the island. I was the wedding – it was the night before they left.
Caliban You are lying.
Ariel Prospero was careful to keep it from you. He didn’t want you to know – he thought it would protect them.
Caliban Protect them? What? Did you believe that I was such a demon that I would slay this Ferdinand out of raging jealousy? Out of the blackness of my heart? Out of hate for Prospero? Out of revenge on Miranda and her cry of rape?
Ariel Caliban, you were helping Stephano and Trinculo plot Prospero’s own death. He knew all about it! And if you had ever gotten to the stage where those drunks’ would have hesitated over Prospero’s body, you would have killed him down yourself! And you would have let them have had Miranda? You would have killed them first!
Caliban Am I nothing to you but a rapist and a murderous beast? Is that worse than a murderous man, who Prospero is able to forgive from the graciousness of his heart! He forgave his own brother when he tried to murder him for the lowest reasons! – but a wretch like Caliban? No, a wretch like Caliban is unforgivable! He is damned!
Ariel Any reasons for murder are the lowest reasons.
Caliban But Alonso was forgiven! He was welcomed back as a prodigal brother! And I was sent away with a command – unfit to even receive his goodbyes – after twelve years! I was ripped from looking on Miranda’s face as they sailed away!
Ariel Please understand, Caliban, he forbade me to speak to you about it.
Caliban Well you did your job well, Ariel. I’m sure Prospero was pleased with his spirit slave.
Ariel I was a part of them!
Caliban You betray me.
Ariel How? Caliban, we are still of the island, as you said before. We are still bound together, allied by nature.
Caliban No! I’m not like you! I don’t know you! You say you are not like Prospero and you wash me with your own hands but then you betray me? – Is this some sick game to you?
Ariel All she did was give me the mirror to have to remind me of her! She said it was so that I wouldn’t feel alone!
Caliban You’re not alone. You’re with me.
Caliban notices the knife. He slowly goes over and picks it up.
Caliban What am I for you, Ariel? Am I a murderer? Am I your friend? Am I a rapist? Aren’t we as close as brothers?
Ariel Yes, Caliban – I see you as my island-brother!
Caliban You liar!
Caliban lunges for Ariel, knife extended.
They struggle viciously over the mirror again.
Caliban You traitor! You said you weren’t like Prospero! You said you weren’t like Prospero!
Ariel Let go!
Caliban That mirror is mine! It should have been given to me!
Ariel Let go or I will blister you!
Caliban I’ll murder you! I’ll murder you!
There is a cry of pain.
The lights come up.
Both Ariel and Caliban are visible on opposite sides of the stage. Ariel has remained inside the cave, while Caliban is outside the cave on a separate part of the island.
With the knife Caliban is sharpening the ends of long pieces of wood. As he finishes each one he drives them into the ground so that they stand, their sharp points sticking upwards. He has made a semi-circle around him already.
Caliban Worthless! Said he wasn’t like Prospero. Worthless. (Pause; outburst) Betrayal! – Nothing less! Poor Caliban. It is nothing less. Betrayal. What hideous truth stares at me…What awful, awful – Alone. Prospero gone and Ariel gone with him.
Betrayal! He paves their way! He thought he could keep me from preparing myself. I will be hunted – looked for when they hear a monster-king lives on the island. But I have waited years to have it.
That brief glance – that look at that face staring out at me from the mirror. Who was that? That was Caliban. That was not only Caliban, that was Caliban made beautiful. (outburst to Ariel) I know what I am compared to you! You groomed me to feel that you were among the beautiful people – to feel that you were not alone. Because Caliban is nothing.
I am not Caliban. I am the island. I am not one, but am everything. You are alone, Ariel, but I am not alone. And as the island I will defend myself against you because Prospero still rules here. He sits in that cave maintaining it, keeping it between my cave-walls and my cave-floor and ceiling, breathing air – waiting for me to come groveling back. It is getting to be night, and you are waiting for Caliban to come slinking through these shadows, afraid, alone, and worthless. But I’ll not go. I’m not afraid – But I am not Caliban!
Prospero still rules here. Prospero was nothing but a charlatan, his books were fool’s prayers, his power was drawn from his slave Ariel. Ariel is the intangible, not the worldly. Ariel is not the original element, but man-made – farcical. Ariel was born once as original and then twice born through a tree, brought into the world by Prospero. Perhaps mighty sorcerer on the islands of men, on my island Prospero became midwife, surrogate mother who named his adopted children ‘Caliban’ and ‘Ariel’ and ‘snake’ and ‘badger’. (quietly) He taught us this language so smoothly, gave it to us so generously. It was such a beautiful gift. We felt so found. We were sure that it was love because we were sure that it was nothing but true. It was another birth. Otherwise we would have stayed immortal and innocent in our muteness – in our pure originality.
But Caliban will not be Caliban anymore. No one will imprison me with a name. No one will sentence me to death. Because what are names for but to identify? And what is the language of the name for but to lie?
In the cave Ariel is sitting in the armchair, looking at his hand. The mirror is placed on the desk in front of him.
On the other side of the stage Caliban continues to sharpen the sticks.
Ariel He wouldn’t have killed me. He wouldn’t have killed me. He just bit, like some wild animal or some angry dog, like Caliban. He called me Prospero and he bit me and ran away. And even in my spirit form I felt it – an angry clenching.
Caliban Prospero is the verb and Ariel is the noun!
Ariel He called me Prospero and bit me like an angry dog that turns against its master. But I am neither master nor servant – I am not part of that.
Ariel holds up the mirror and looks at his reflection.
Miranda looked in there and saw herself, Caliban looked in there and saw something else. But what does Ariel see?
He looks into the mirror. He is confused by what he sees. He looks closer, putting his hand to his face, as if tracing something.
Cracked? No. (he rubs at his face) Fading? No. I hope not. (rubs again).
Where we are going Papa says there are halls full of mirrors, she said. So you take this one, as a gift. (slowly puts the mirror down) And then she sailed away. (Pause) Do I regret – ? No.
Caliban He called her sister, but I am not brother but island-brother. I am relegated.
Ariel When you’re a prisoner you know you are a prisoner. But I am free now, and so what does that make me? I’ve been loosened and now flap about, like some leaf upon the wind.
Caliban I am king of this island! Not Prospero! This island was my mother’s and now it’s mine!
Ariel I wasn’t selfish. I was merciful. Caliban, I didn’t want you to see the mirror because –
Caliban I am not Caliban!
Ariel Do I regret – ? No.
Caliban If only I could have seen one page of one book. The words would have emblazoned themselves into my mind – I would have remembered. I would have been powerful.
Ariel What does the mirror show Caliban except a favoritism? When he looked into it what did it show him but his undisguised self. I was right in keeping it from him. (angry) Caliban does not understand. Caliban is like a child, he must be congratulated, he must be liked, he must be petted and crooned to. Caliban sees what someone else has and he wants it. What he sees as sacrifice is not the opportunity and self-consciousness of sacrifice, but is simply punishment for a wrongdoing. He does not understand the cruelty of sacrifice!
I’m tired. I feel it though I am nothing but a spirit. I feel it. I have become translucent and porous, living here in the residual of Prospero’s stay. I am unfixed, loosened, and now flap about. I am the island itself and yet the island is not me. I feel estranged.
He gets the mirror and checks his face in it again, examining it closely, rubbing at it.
(asking his reflection) Would Caliban truly kill me?
Ariel suddenly sees a ship on the horizon.
Caliban If I were king would I try you for treason, would I condemn you? If I were maker of kings would I destroy you? – Would I ever forgive you? – Never. Ariel and all his fantastic quality – all his sea-like shimmers and gleamings. You are no kindred to me. That poor old man I held such consuming hate for I now pity. What was he but a pathetic object, thread-bare, gaudy as any magician’s hat. Fake and dismembered. But Ariel streams with power.
Caliban suddenly sees the ship on the horizon.
Ariel (in unison) What is that? A ship?
Caliban (in unison) What is that? A ship?
Ariel A vision? No.
Caliban Returning? No.
Ariel (in unison) Has he seen it?
Caliban (in unison) Has he seen it?
Ariel If they came again would I leave with them this time?
Caliban They will come. Whoever that is will come and will see Ariel in all his power and beauty. They will adopt him and will kick me. They will take him away and he will go with them. He will leave me behind and I will be alone! (grabs a spear as if in preparation to fight the ship)
Ariel Does it come towards me?
Long pause as they watch the ship.
No, it slides away across the horizon. Invisible already.
Caliban lowers his spear.
Caliban (in unison) Did he see it?
Ariel (in unison) Did he see it?
They continue to look out to sea.
Ariel Why did I not give it to him? Why did I not let him have it? What is this mirror for me when my choice has already been made? What am I if I hold onto this?
The sea is loud this evening. And on this cliff I feel the salt spray that is me, and I feel the coming twilight that is me, and I feel the rocking sound of the waves and that is also me. Perhaps I should go looking for him. I should give him the mirror then go to the wildflower field. I will lay down there and rest after twelve years. I should leave this place. Yes, I should leave this place.
But I will wait for him here. He might return before it is completely dark. And I do not have the strength to fly with the wind tonight.
Ariel lies down in the bed. Blackout on Ariel.
Caliban returns to sharpening his spears.
Caliban Miranda, Miranda. If Ariel is maker and Prospero is ragged and I am – then what are you? I looked into your mirror and I defiled it. My face slid into where yours had once been. With my beastliness I defiled it! Defilement through me! Through me streams defilement. Every handprint, footprint, fingerprint I leave – every place that I stand, sit, lie, my presence defiles it. They have used me to disfigure my island. They have successfully dislocated me from it. Am I never to belong anywhere? To live unmoored as a spirit, is that Caliban’s lifelong punishment? To be too solid in the flesh but too spirit otherwise? All form and no form at all. But I am not Caliban! But I speak like Caliban. But I look like Caliban. I have no other life than Caliban’s. Worthless, worthless, worthless.
Blackout on Caliban.
Light on Ariel, who hears singing and wakes up. He moves out of the bed, holding the mirror. His eyes are closed and do not open until the dream is over.
There are no words to the song.
Ariel Is that my own voice singing?
Ariel follows the signing across the stage to where Caliban is sitting, singing. Like Ariel, Caliban’s eyes are closed throughout the scene.
Caliban stops singing.
Ariel sits next to him.
You sing very well. Strange – For a moment I thought –
How did I come into being? I can’t remember my life upon this island before Sycorax. I remember my life with Prospero, but what was I before?
Caliban Languageless, innocent in all manners, and, therefore, unhistorical. I was the garden, I was the sea, I was the air, I was the fertile ground.
Ariel Then was I everything and only begun being categorized and categorizing myself when I was forced into service? Into form? Was that my loss of innocence? Because now form is all I can think about. I clearly see beginnings and middles and ends. I feel structure – as if I were some badly worded sentence.
Raises Miranda’s mirror and looks at his reflection.
And the closer I feel towards form, the less I feel incorporated into the island. But I could never leave the island. To leave would be an exile.
Caliban And yet time passes.
Ariel I knew nothing of time to begin with. Eternity was before Prospero. Eternity lasted before Sycorax and even during Sycorax – I was imprisoned in the pine for what was eternity. And then suddenly was introduced to the construct of hours and minutes and seconds – form. Prospero taught, Miranda and I listened.
Caliban (in unison) There was the form of ‘you’ and of ‘I’. There was ‘here’ and ‘there’ and ‘now’ and ‘then’, when before there was no here and now but a formless equivalent –
Ariel (in unison) There was the form of ‘you’ and of ‘I’ – pronouns. There was ‘here’ and ‘there’ and ‘now’ and ‘then’, when before there was no here and now but a formless equivalent – ‘being’.
Then Prospero taught Miranda tenses, and I found that the strict form of this new world came in relation to the subject, the individual. I realized that ‘individual’ means ‘one’ and not ‘all’, and that time constructs the individual. The way he describes himself and speaks of himself is in relation to time – not in relation to eternity. And I thought
Caliban these people must not know themselves at all if they speak of themselves in relation to time. And time is synonymous with ‘life’. But before there was not ‘life’, there was only a being.
Ariel And so I began to see this garden in terms of time. My eyes became adjusted to time. I saw its presence on the island. Perhaps I didn’t actually see – instead time gave me eyes to see with, (in unison) changing me.
Caliban (in unison) changing me
Ariel I saw the flowers as advancing towards death. I marked the passing of the seasons. Day and night were no more became beautiful phenomenon, but the markers of life. Sleeping and waking were allotted specific, accepted time periods.
Caliban And then Prospero began to construct my being into form –
Ariel – began to form me. Fire and water and air. Elements which to me weren’t separate, weren’t individualized within the construct of words, but were all.
And then I began identifying myself with time. With the minutes of the hours, where the longer they were the longer I served him. I began counting. I became a subsequent thing. When the hours were done, I would be free. But free from what? This timed ‘being’, this formed ‘life’?
Ariel And so before I knew it I had forgotten where I originated from.
Prospero has given the island history. He has introduced it to some sort of
Ariel And to me this feels like some kind of
Ariel Falling is a state, and the island has passed from one state to another and I am afraid that it can never return to that state again. Have I fallen, Caliban? Yes – because my state has changed. Before I stood on the shores and looked inwards. Now I stand on the shores and look out.
Caliban (in unison) What is this mirror but a symbol of my fall? Of my change? – This should not be mine, this charter of change. What is it for but to look at ‘life’? And what does life end in but death?
Ariel (in unison) What is this mirror but a symbol of my fall? Of my change? – This should not be mine, this charter of change. What is it for but to look at ‘life’? And what does life end in but death? And am I subject?
Ariel raises the mirror in front of him, as if to look at himself.
Caliban reaches over and puts Ariel’s arm that is holding the mirror down. He turns Ariel towards him and they face each other.
Caliban (in unison) You and I. No more. No individualization but on evaporating sigh of being. My ‘I’ is only ratified by the ‘you’, and your ‘I’ by my ‘you’.
Ariel (in unison) You and I. No more. No individualization but on evaporating sigh of being. My ‘I’ is only ratified by the ‘you’, and your ‘I’ by my ‘you’.
I will leave the mirror.
Caliban begins to sing again.
Ariel gets up and goes back to the bed.
The mirror is left where Ariel was sitting.
The lights come up on Caliban, sleeping amongst his spears. Through the following dream sequence Caliban keeps his eyes shut.
The mirror is back with Ariel.
Caliban (as if speaking in his sleep) I will take the mirror. I will take the mirror. The island will never be mine until I have it, and when I do Ariel shall become my familiar. I shall become the maker and will not be limited to the form of one, damned thing – but all things.
But what power does this non-Caliban have? This creature new with promise? He has no books because he knows no language. He has no staff because he is not artifice. He has his inherited kingship. He has the natural island.
Through fear Ariel kept me from saying ‘Sycorax’ – and he has the right to tremor at that name. She who enslaved the island spirits will enslave them again. She’ll show me how to find his true shape, how to contort him into manageable matter.
I have no magic chalk, I have no spell, no potion, no ring of fire – but in the name of this dying island I call upon my mother’s spirit. I call upon the name of the god Setebos! I call upon the name of my dead witch-mother Sycorax!
Caliban, startled, sits up.
The stage goes as dark as possible. A single light illuminates Caliban.
Sycorax does not appear on stage. Only her voice is heard.
SYCORAX We have heard.
SYCORAX We have heard.
Caliban You left me the island as my inheritance. Now I will reclaim it as my own from Prospero’s extended rule. I will own it!
SYCORAX Why have you called upon me?
Caliban I need to become subject! I want to be the thing around which the sentence in structured, instead of an object made to fetch and there to punish. I need Ariel to become my object – I will become almighty.
SYCORAX What is Prospero’s language to you? You who are not of Prospero’s culture?
Caliban I have been subjected to it! Monster! Slave! Filth! Beast! I am not myself. This language has objectified me, manacled my subjectivity by the savage mask it replaced me with. This inappropriate and incorrect Caliban. Through me this language will devour itself. The word creates the world – and I will recreate it according to my rule.
SYCORAX My sorry, sorry child. You misunderstand the fabric that is your reality. Words do not create. Prospero’s language is not yours.
Caliban It is the only language I have! From this language Caliban was created, built and constructed, my physical substance was like clay – it reformed me. I was named and thus baptized and formed into the first man, the first subjected subject of Prospero’s island colony. He cut eyeholes in the mask he gave me. And though these eyeholes are reformed – not the form of my own eye – my subjected eyes could not help but peer through those keyholes. And this was a mistake. He should have plucked out my eyes and then put emptiness over emptiness because I saw. I observed with a gaze. And with this gaze I menaced, and inadvertently became more inappropriate than ever. And in this gaze I quietly become student, and as student I naturally learned and now will become master.
SYCORAX You misunderstand. You mimic, Caliban, but this will never transform you. What are reflections but reflections? Integrate yourself into Prospero’s language, you integrate yourself into Prospero’s system, and thus as long as Caliban orbits within this system he will always be in Prospero. And as long as Caliban remains Prospero, he will remain a false Prospero.
Caliban (angrily) No! (softer) Mother, what do you see me as? Do you recognize me as your son? This man-made thing? Am I what you wanted me to become? Am I not right to take back what is mine? To reassume a self that I have never been?
SYCORAX You are not Caliban. You are Prospero.
Caliban (furious) Ariel is Prospero! Prospero is Prospero! I am not Prospero!
SYCORAX It is you who created Prospero. You gave him a second birth just as he gave you a second birth because you desired to be him. You transformed him into something he was not and he transformed you into something you were not.
Caliban (furious) I have become what Prospero used to imprison me! Through the gaze that is language I become language! Because what was this gaze but understanding? And where was this understanding engendered but through a common language? And what does language do but create the world? I have become my own perpetrator, usurping Prospero’s position to become the power that he never was. More powerful than Ariel and his elements! I will cease to be a decorating bobble and will become the blazing sun!
SYCORAX Fool! Imbecile! Angry child!
Caliban I have never been a child!
SYCORAX When Prospero taught you his language Prospero offered you enlightenment! Prospero offered you the chance to understand, and thus to see him, and thus to become separate. You had the chance to identify him in his own language – Prospero – to name him, which made him tangible, mortal. You had the chance to see him for what he was and to take action to set yourself apart from him. You had the chance to be an individualized subject, not the subject that is Prospero. But you were blind!
Caliban He blinded me!
SYCORAX Yes. You are blinded. Prospero looks into a cracked and distorted mirror and sees his reflection that is Caliban. Caliban has no eyes because his eyes are Prospero’s.
Caliban Have mercy on me. Give me the words that will allow me to become subject. Give me the words that give me ultimate possession over Ariel and the island.
SYCORAX There are no words.
Caliban is confused.
Caliban I don’t understand.
SYCORAX You place words in spaces where there are none.
Caliban Setebos must have –
SYCORAX Do not attribute what is not a word to a word! You fool, Caliban. You still are Caliban. For what is language itself but representation?
Caliban is becoming desperate.
Caliban I will do anything for the island to become mine.
SYCORAX Setebos will grant you a word-less vengeance.
Caliban What is a world-less vengeance?
SYCORAX Ariel will not be bound with words, but with actions. Setebos demands a sacrifice.
Caliban Sacrifice? Ariel?
Caliban But then I will be alone. I will be a subject with no objects.
SYCORAX You will be the ultimate, almighty ruler you desire to be.
Caliban No. I will not be a –
SYCORAX Only through actions will you devour Caliban. You will become your own self-made king.
Caliban But how would I even sacrifice Ariel? It is impossible. He’s a spirit –
SYCORAX We will take care of that.
Caliban Prospero had ultimate action. Ariel had ultimate action. Now Caliban will have ultimate action.
That ship is gone. But it has weighed anchor just beyond my sight, waiting for daylight, afraid of the reefs that would shred the ship and the currents that would pull the sailors out and down to drown. They wait until daylight to come closer to shore. He has already called them. He has already brought them here on the currents. There is no time. The sun sets and it begins to get dark.
The song that Caliban sang in Ariel’s dream plays softly, echoing.
Caliban gets up, his knife in hand. His spotlight goes out and a spotlight comes on Ariel lying in the bed. Caliban enters the spotlight and pauses, watching Ariel. He advances to the bed, and leans down, as if to hear Ariel breathing.
He raises his knife and stabs at Ariel. Ariel screams; Caliban screams as if he is being stabbed. Blood begins to spread where Caliban has stabbed Ariel.
The music stops.
Caliban wakes up on the ground in his previous position in the semi-circle of spears. He holds his hands out in front of him and checks his shirt, looking for blood. He frantically looks around, locates his knife in his pocket, and draws it out.
Caliban Not bloodstained! It was just a dream! It was just a dream! (Pause) I thought it was real. And I thought I heard Ariel singing. (Pause) Was it his singing which woke me up? – Whatever it was, it is gone now. Far away – silent, now.
Tonight it’s black. There are no stars and no light except from the moon, which glares down at me like Setebos’ lidless eye.
Am I a murderer? In my dream I was a murderer – does that mean I’m a murderer?
If I steal the mirror he will take it back. He has his powers. If I run he will catch me. If I hide he will hunt me. But I must have it.
A spotlight comes on Ariel lying in the bed. Caliban enters the spotlight, knife in hand, and pauses, watching Ariel. He advances to the bed and reaches for the mirror Ariel holds in his hand.
Ariel wakes with a crash of thunder.
They fight over the mirror.
Caliban I must have it!
Caliban ends up dropping his knife and falling to the ground. The stage lights flare blindingly bright. Caliban is momentarily blinded.
When Ariel speaks his voice sounds warped and distorted.
Ariel Small monster! Selfish savage! Caliban! I have let you play your game for the last time! You have brought murder and greed into this garden, and now it ousts you.
You are cursed, Caliban: Salt will poison the earth that your foot steps on. The water you drink and the food you will eat will twist and cramp your stomach in agony.
You will bring defilement. You will bring disfigurement.
You will live in a dead world, Caliban: The nights will freeze and the days will burn and with your lidless and ever-open eye you will be forced to look upon and wander upon this carcass you created.
You will be deformed, Caliban: you shall have no tongue.
You will suffer Caliban: you will repent and repent the blight that is your disloyalty.
The sound of an earthquake.
The set begins to move. Some pieces of furniture fall on their sides, the desk splits in half, the furniture slides out of the cave (offstage), Ariel pushes it out with his magic. Caliban tries to look for and get to his knife amidst the moving furniture.
Caliban Give me the mirror, Ariel!
Ariel Nothing shall be yours. The splintered, cut wood shall return to the sea! All you find indispensable shall be taken! All you know shall be taken and you will see the emptiness that fills you!
Caliban (finding his knife) You said that you would leave the mirror!
Ariel To the depths! I leave you alone!
Sound of thunder.
Caliban lunges at Ariel with the knife, when they collide Ariel falls, the mirror shatters. Caliban stands over him aggressively with the knife.
The bright light subsides.
Neither of them notices the shattered mirror because Ariel shows that he is bleeding.
Ariel What sorcery have you been given?
Caliban (angrily) Don’t try and trick me – you don’t bleed! You’re not of flesh and blood! Stop! It is an illusion!
Ariel Come here.
Caliban Get away!
Ariel Bring the knife.
Caliban Enough! The mirror is yours!
They realize the mirror is broken.
Ariel Bring me the knife!
Caliban slowly approaches. Ariel holds out his finger and Caliban, with the tip of the knife, pricks it. They watch as a bubble of blood forms.
Ariel feels the blood, smears it around. He lets Caliban touch is unbelievingly.
Caliban drops the knife, unnerved.
Ariel (quietly) You have killed me, Caliban.
Caliban (worried) No – no, that won’t kill you. That’s just a cut.
Ariel And what I feel is pain.
Ariel What am I, now, then?
Caliban What are you not?
(upset) I –I thought it wouldn’t even hurt you – I never meant to – You have to put pressure on it to help make it stop. Let me –
Caliban cuts strips of cloth from his shirt. He begins to bind the wound.
Long pause as Caliban finishes binding the wound. Ariel goes over to the mirror, he looks at the broken shards and touches his face, searching for the crack, then touches his wound. He leaves the mirror there and goes to sit at the edge of the cave.
Caliban goes to sit in the armchair. He continually watches Ariel.
Caliban I’m sorry.
Ariel Is this your fault?
Caliban is at a loss
Then there’s no need to be sorry.
Caliban Ariel, I never meant to hurt you. You must believe me. You are –
Aren’t you angry with me?
Ariel No, Caliban.
Caliban But Miranda’s mirror and –
Ariel That doesn’t matter anymore. I realize now. Being given that mirror didn’t mean anything at all.
Caliban It meant that they cared for you.
Ariel Perhaps it made me more like them than I wanted to be. (looks at his wound)
Caliban What? Are you human, now?
Ariel No. I will never be human.
Caliban Are you sad?
Ariel Not about that.
Caliban I thought that if you had the mirror it would make you think of going after them.
Ariel You were afraid.
Caliban You understand?
Caliban They would have welcomed you. I was surprised they didn’t offer you to come with them in the first place. I was sure that you were going.
Ariel He did.
Caliban Prospero offered you a place on that ship? And you didn’t go? Why?
Ariel Because you’re right, Caliban. You don’t belong with something that you are not. We are not part of them. We are something else entirely.
Caliban Do you regret it?
Ariel No. I never did.
Ariel We haven’t been original with each other, Caliban. That has been our biggest crime. (Pause) Prospero himself wasn’t original either – not until the very end when he said goodbye.
Caliban What was he like?
Ariel Afraid and old. He told me It-a-lia doesn’t hold much for him.
Caliban But he goes back and becomes a Duke. With real subjects and a city.
Ariel He does not become a Duke, Caliban. He becomes simply a man again.
Caliban And what was he when he was here?
Ariel Like some sort of god. Some sort of deathless Self. An original who preferred to walk in our garden instead of mankind’s decaying cities.
Caliban He wanted to stay?
Ariel He would have liked to. `
Caliban He could never have stayed, though, Ariel. The island isn’t a sanctuary from the rest of the world. It’s not supposed to hide you.
Ariel What is it supposed to do, then?
Brief pause as Caliban thinks.
Caliban Birth you.
I think we need to leave this island.
Ariel Leave the island? But this is –
Caliban It’s not anymore. You know that.
Ariel We’ve never been any place else.
Caliban If we stay here any longer what will we become? Nothing but remnants, I think.
Ariel But this is our home! We belong here! You’re going to give all this up? Now that it’s finally yours?
Caliban I don’t know if it was ever mine in the way that I thought it was. And it will still always be ours. Just not in the same way.
The lights dim.
Caliban and Ariel exit.
The furniture of Prospero’s cave is moved on stage, floating in the sea, looking like the wreckage of some explosion. A straight line is left for their boat to sail through. The waves rolling onto the shore and the call of seagulls can be faintly heard.
The lights come up.
Ariel and Caliban are pushing the boat on stage. Fitted to it is a small mast fitted to it and a sail.
As they speak the broken furniture of Prospero’s cave slowly comes onstage, floating in the sea, looking like the wreckage of some explosion. A straight line is left for the ship to sail through.
The audience becomes the island.
Caliban Don’t push too hard, you’ll begin to bleed again.
Ariel It’s fine.
Caliban You can give it a rest. I’ve got it.
Ariel I’m fine. I’ll help you.
Pause as they concentrate on pushing the boat to center stage. The reach center stage and stop.
Ariel Are you still sure about this?
Caliban There is nothing for us here.
Caliban begins rigging the small sail.
Ariel Where are we going to go?
Caliban I don’t know anywhere else.
Ariel Well, then I guess we’ll just have to see where we eventually wash up. Perhaps we’ll find a new island.
Caliban (attempting to joke) Well at least we’ll have calm winds and smooth waters wherever we’re sailing, eh, Ariel?
They take one last look at the island.
Ariel Maybe we’ll come back someday. And if I ever forget and speak of it as if it were a dream, Caliban, remind me of how we lived here.
Caliban You won’t forget.
Caliban gets in the boat. Ariel stands on the edges of the boat behind him. They both look back at the audience.
Caliban Anchors aweigh.
Ariel blows against the sail, which billows. The ship slowly moves downstage, sailing through the furniture. They do not look back.