Length: 40 minute (short version); 80 minute (full-length)
Casting: Flexible | 5-40+
To get what you most want, you give up what you love the most.
SYNOPSIS: Nameless awakens in the desert. He doesn’t know who he is, but he knows he has a desire for greatness — and a sword. He goes gallivanting across the desert, learning how be a hero, defeating a great sand monster, and finally executing an evil king. Even achieving greatness, he is still unhappy, and so he continues to search for answers.
WHY THIS PLAY: Inspired by Macbeth and The Phantom Tollbooth, the goofy world of NAMELESS has biplanes and sword fights, monologues, and over-the-top characters, but at the heart it’s about the trade offs we make when we pursue our dreams.
Read the play on the New Play Exchange or contact BriandanielOglesby(at)gmail.com
NAMELESS in the DESERT
by Briandaniel Oglesby
A lonely desert. It’s not quite night. Not quite day. From mist, or is it smoke?, we see the Hollow Creatures. They whisper-hiss and circle the stage, chanting “Fairly foul, desert air.” From their huddled mass, they deliver a prone figure, whom we will call NAMELESS, and who is unconscious. Next to NAMELESS, a sword juts from the ground They circle and circle, then vanish. NAMELESS awakens. He blinks a bit. Coughs.
When I awaken, I remember nothing.
No name. No past.
Where am I?
Sand. Lots of sand. A sandbox. Am I child? Am I crab?
No. A desert. I am desert.
No. Body. Voice. I am human. I am human and I am in a desert.
And I have this feeling, an ache, a hunger, a desire – I am desire.
For what, I don’t know.
Maybe I am asleep? Yes. I am tucked into a warm bed, under a heavy layer of blankets made by an ancestor, lying next to a lover or a stuffed animal.
I’ll pinch myself – and I’ll wake up.
NAMELESS tries various ways of waking himself.
They all fail.
FINE THEN! I’m awake.
I am awake and I am in the desert.
And I’m alone.
We hear a voice from his memory. It is singing.
It’s singing a lullaby, in fact.
Rock-a-bye, baby in the treetop
When the wind blows…
The cradle will rock…
And when the bow breaks…
The cradle will fall.
It’s gone. Maybe it was just the wind.
It’s gone. Was that wind? A spirit? A curse?
No. A memory.
A memory of…. of… not desert.
No memory comes to him.
We hear the skittering of a creature. Something is over there.
Are you an enemy? Are you a flesh-eating creature meant to hollow the marrow from my bones?
I’ll fight you with my teeth! I’ll bite you. Go away!
NAMELESS throws a fistful of sand at the sound.
NAMELESS finds a skull and throws it.
NAMELESS finds a sword. He’s about to throw it – but, it’s a sword.
WHO GOES THERE!
I have a sword, apparently.
Hello sword. You seem to hum.
(He grips it. He’s trying it on. Yes, he likes it.)
I’m a knight or something!
With this sword, I’ll be a hero.
I’ll mount glorious steeds studded with chainmail, rescue damsels, slaughter lions and tigers and dragons. I will be known all across the lands.
Parry, thrust, jab, parry, thrust jab.
En guarde. En guarde!
Et tu, brute!
DAISY appears. She is on a mission.
She has a flower-covered backpack. Yes, this is a world with both swords and backpacks.
Stop moving! STOP MOVING!
NAMELESS freezes midstride.
You tromp around willy-nilly not even noticing the worms that you’re about to carelessly crush.