The Divine Plan: Notes for an Unperformable Mise-en-Scèneby Andrew Farkas
1 We open on blankness. Then, from the heavens, God steps down onto the empty stage. (If God prefers to leap onto the stage or float down to the stage, you’d better allow it because, you know, this is God we’re talking about.)
2 Now this isn’t an actor playing God; nor is it a faithful, realistic, or ironic portrayal of God; this is not the stereotypical God with the white beard and the flowing robes; this is not an anthropomorphized God. This is the real thing. God.
3 Much like the Supreme Court said about porn, you will know God when you see God. But you must search.
4 And if it is found, in the search for God, that there is no God, then perform a different play.
5 To find God, first try contacting the spirit of Bishop George Berkeley.
6 Bishop Berkeley, after all, was one of the founders of empiricism, which states that “To be is to be perceived” (“esse est percipi”); he then said that a tree falling in the woods would make a sound even if no one was around because God perceives everything. Since perception, according to Berkeley, is required in existing, then Bishop Berkeley must have perceived God plainly, unambiguously, and would therefore make a good casting consultant.
7 To contact the spirit of Bishop Berkeley, talk to John Edward for he can supposedly speak to the dead.
8 He supposedly does it all the time on his TV show Crossing Over.
9 If Bishop Berkeley cannot give you a clear, unambiguous description of God…
10 …if Bishop Berkeley cannot tell you how to contact God…
11 …then the project is wrecked and you should despair at the bar farthest away from the stage where your play will not be performed.
12 If it is found that John Edward cannot talk to the dead, that his show Crossing Over is just a scam, then the entire project is wrecked and you should perform another play.
13 Ideas on other plays to perform: Waiting for Godot, Rhinoceros, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
14 If you are able to find God, and you wish to perform this short play, you must begin by having God step out of the heavens onto the stage.
15 You probably won’t have to tell God to do so because God will already know what to do, knowing all.
16 Give God some credit, would ya? Sheesh
17 After stepping out of the heavens, God will do the following: make a rock so heavy even God can’t lift it, make a square that is a circle, make a movie starring Keanu Reeves wherein Mr. Reeves is actually able to play, convincingly, something other than a surfer or a pothead.
18 God will then make a grand speech wherein God will explain what the divine plan is.
19 God will not speak in prophecy, will not use parable, metaphor, or metonymy, will excise all abstractions, and, in a startling twist for God, will orate without ornament or ambiguity.
20 If you feel up to it, you could give God a challenge by saying to God, “During your grand speech wherein you explain what Your divine plan is, You cannot use the sentence, ‘I work in mysterious ways.’”
21 But, in the end, such a statement, such a challenge would be unnecessary because God knows all.
22 And God would let you know, midthought, to not worry yourself about giving God a challenge.
23 And God would let you know without the use of language because God works in mysterious ways.
24 In this play about God, you should know that the only proper pronoun to use in place of “God” is “God.” This is extremely important for the play is unperformable otherwise.
25 When God is finished with his divine plan speech, next should come a dual performance, directly in front of God, of Death of a Salesman starring Marlene Dietrich as Willy Loman, Marlon Brando as Linda Loman, Divine as Happy Loman, and Keanu Reeves as Biff Loman, alongside Long Day’s Journey Into Night with Humphrey Bogart as Mary Tyrone, Elvis Presley (Vegas era) as James Tyrone, Max Schreck as Edmund Tyrone, Boris Karloff as Kathleen, and Keanu Reeves as Jamie Tyrone.
26 See if the audience can tell the difference between the two plays, or if they bleed together.
27 The only way to truly find out this information is by employing an equal number of psychics to audience members; the psychics will stand throughout the crowd and report what each audience member is thinking.
28 You won’t have to worry about whether the psychics are lying or not because you will inject them with sodium pentathol.
29 On sodium pentathol, however, the psychics might admit to not being psychic at all.
30 All of the above mentioned deceased actors can be contacted via John Edward.
31 Or God, since you have God at your disposal.
32 Keanu Reeves, however, can only be contacted by visiting him at the beach.
32a Or wherever he gets his weed, which may very well be the beach.
33 But really anyone will do for the parts of Biff Loman and Jamie Tyrone because Mr. Reeves would not be convincing as either of them. Just ask God.
34 God nods God’s head.
35 Overtop of the dual performance of Death of a Salesman and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, project three films: Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars, and Last Man Standing.
36 The projectionist should use the rock that’s so heavy even God can’t lift it as a focal point for the three projectors.
37 Only union projectionists should be used.
38 Conduct a discussion about the similarities between the three films, about the differences. Then decide which is the best film by having a vote. In case of a tie, ask God.
39 No, the vote is unnecessary. God already knows how it will turn out.
40 God knew I would write this.
41 And this.
43 Turn the reigns of the play over to God.
44 When the director realizes that his play cannot be made, he walks out of the theater and gets on his bicycle.
45 The director rides his bicycle through the rain.
46 Simone Mareuil (again, the real deal, although she’s dead) from Un chien andalou watches the director ride his bicycle down the road.
47 What a nice day to ride a bicycle in the out-of-doors, actress Simone seems to say, but doesn’t.
48 Record this on color film.
49 But since it’s a black & white world, find that the film projects in black & white, which means mostly gray.
50 The director continues to ride his bike, and he stops outside of a bar.
51 In the bar, the director seems to say, “Why? Why? Why did God take over my play? Why didn’t Bishop Berkeley warn me? Why didn’t John Edward tell me that Bishop Berkeley was a sadist who liked to perceive people toiling away at impossible tasks? Why couldn’t I have just been a surfer like Keanu Reeves?”
52 But, actually, the director says nothing. He only seems to say the above by looking into his beer.
53 Keanu Reeves comes into the bar wearing a nun’s habit. He immediately takes it off in one motion as if it were a greatcoat.
54 The director puts on the nun’s habit and angrily leaves the bar.
55 Outside, the director seems refreshed. He decides to ride his bicycle down the middle of the road.
56 The director gets run over by a very old-fashioned car driven by someone long dead, but who can be contacted by John Edward, God, maybe even Keanu Reeves.
57 The director wonders why, why has this happened? Just when he’s decided to go on and become what any sensible person would decide to become in this situation, he’s been run down by a car.
58 The director, by the way, had decided to become a pothead.
59 Why, why? Could anyone give an explanation for this? Could God himself explain the divine plan that includes this conclusion for the director? And it doesn’t comfort the director any knowing that he doesn’t have to ask these questions because God already knew that the director would ask them. And the director doesn’t have to ask why God would let this happen, either.
60 Because God works in mysterious ways.
Andrew Farkas is the author of Self-Titled Debut and is a frequent contributor to The Brooklyn Rail.