Play begins at 50:20
Years ago I was a writer in a sketch comedy group in San Francisco. Then I put up my pen, never to sketch again. Until 2018 when I entered a play, Nonviolent Gulch, into the 2018 Orcas Island PlayFest. That play was about a rootin’ tootin’ gunslinger who finds himself outmatched by the nonviolent citizens of Nonviolent Gulch. It was just about the perfect summation of my values at that time: the Triumph of compassion over violence.
Then I had a real life experience with my own proverbial gunslinger and I lost. It was an agonizing monthslong conflict in which I had the rightness (and the law) on my side and the other person never apologized, and never made it right. In the countless nights I spent fuming about situation (it took over a year for me to clean up), a voice inside me screamed: They got away with it!
So I wanted to write about a thoroughly unapologetic, unyielding villain. And I wanted my hero to lose. It turned out to be hard to write. I wrote 12 drafts, and I didn’t like the final draft that I sent in to PlayFest.
I had mixed feelings when it was selected by the festival committee. Then PlayFest was indefinitely delayed due to production and scheduling problems. I forgot about the play.
Until a few weeks ago, when I got an email. They were assembling casts. They were going to perform my play, and several others from the 2019 PlayFest, on Zoom.
And so here it is. It’s better than I remember. And love what the actors and director (all island friends of mine) did with the script.
You can read the script here. Or I’ll paste it below. Enjoy.
In the Hall of the Mountain Wizard
by Evan Wagoner-Lynch
SIMON THE (EVIL) WIZARD – Male, older. A Tolkien-style sorcerer, ala Sarumon the White. 3,000 years old, authoritative, selfish, no self-awareness. The most frustrating person you’ve ever had a disagreement with.
MILO THE BRAVE – M/F younger (pronouns may need to be adjusted accordingly.) Plucky adventurer/hero. Accustomed to winning, believes strongly in right and wrong, good and bad.
VALKYRA THE GODDESS OF TERRIBLE VENGEANCE – Pronounced VAL-KEER-AH. Female, 20-40. Nordic Valkyrie goddess meets West Coast yoga teacher. Viking helmet probably mandatory.
OPENING to GRIEG’S IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING. A scary cave in a magic mountain. The CUP OF PLENTY is on a pedestal center stage. SIMON THE WIZARD is hidden behind a drape stage right. MILO enters stealthily, stage left. She carries the SWORD OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. She spots the CUP and goes for it, but just then SIMON reveals himself.
Who dares enter my mountain?
It is I, Milo the Brave. I have come to take back what belongs to my people: *The Cup of Plenty.*
SIMON takes the cup from the pedestal and holds it covetously.
SIMON (clearly making this up as he goes along)
Oh you mean *my* cup, that I found, when I was…doing magic…somewhere?
You did not! (calming himself) That is our cup. You stole it. I have come to take it back–*And* to take my revenge on you, Wicked Wizard of the Mountain. Now: Prepare to face the Sword of Righteousness.
MILO strikes a He-Man pose with the sword. THUNDER and SPOTLIGHT on MILO.
SIMON (not impressed, sarcastic)
Another hero with a magic sword. Prepare to join your defeated brothers and sisters. For I wield the unholy magics of Denial: Blame, Shame, and CONFUSION (CUE THUNDER CRASH)
As their argument continues, SIMON punctuates his blamey barbs by miming throwing a dart (this is how SIMON casts his spells.) MILO is not really conscious of this, but we see the “barbs” hitting him.
Well I have a sword so I’m just going to stab you.
Well if that will make you feel like a *big hero*, by all means…but you know what? I’m actually bored of this cup. (places cup back on pedestal) I have an entire room of magic cups. Go ahead, take it.
Don’t try and–(switching gears) Alright. (grabs the cup) Fine. But know this, wicked wizard. I will spare your life this time, but if I see you again–
Look this really isn’t a good time. I have magic paperwork to attend to…? You’ve saved the day, so now you can go.
MILO (pissed off)
You don’t tell me–! (sudden realization) Ah. You’re using your magic on me. Well it won’t work. I am taking this cup and I am leaving and there’s nothing you can do about it. (turns to leave stage left)
Good, I’m glad. (beat) And anyway, you basically forced me to take the cup in the first place. (mimes throwing a dart at MILO. MILO freezes, then turns.)
But you’ve got your little cup now, so goodbye.
MILO (seething with rage)
That’s right I have the cup. And the only reason I’m here is because you came to our village, you set it on fire, and then you stole our most precious and sacred object.
Look I was just walking my dragon in the neighborhood, and then the next thing I know, you and your friends are shooting arrows at me!
Because your dragon was burning all of our crops!
She can’t help that, she’s a dragon!
And then you set our village on fire with magic lightning!
It’s not my problem if you built your entire village out of wood! That’s just asking for trouble.
MILO (so frustrated)
Ahh! So it’s our fault? And you are responsible for what? Nothing?
That’s right! I’m just minding my own business on my magic mountain. And you and your friends keep harassing me.
What? What world do you live in? You have been terrorizing this valley for centuries! You are a wicked wizard! That is what you are! (losing it) I just want you to say it: ‘I am a wicked wizard.’ That’s all I want to hear. And then I’ll never come back.
You know I find it really interesting that you’re the *big expert* on who’s wicked, but you broke into my mountain, severely damaged my magic gate, and traumatized my poor, defenseless dragon… She won’t even come out of her cave, not even for snack time. That all sounds like the work of a wicked villain, don’t you agree?
MILO (beyond done with Simon)
Oh okay, so now I’m the bad guy, I get it. You know what? Forget the cup (puts it back on the pedestal.) All I want is for you to take responsibility for *anything.* Stealing the cup, burning the village, walking a dragon without a leash…Literally anything.
As SIMON responds long-windedly, MILO is overcome and drops to a knee to pray to the sky gods.
Me take responsibility? For what! I’m just minding my own business and then all of the sudden you break my magic gate, which was custom made, and then you– (finally noticing MILO) What are you doing?
O sky gods, hear my prayer.
You can’t pray in here! This mountain is non-denominational!
…I face the most wicked, most frustrating wizard in the whole world. I beg of thee, please send one of your gods to this mountain, to destroy this wizard once and for all. Because I’m so annoyed that I might die.
What are you calling for help now? What kind of hero are you? Why don’t you just stab me with your big sword?
MILO (bitter, deflated)
Because somehow you’ll make it all about you.
Well it *will be* because I’m just–
We hear THUNDER, LIGHTS go nuts (stormy) we hear FRIGHTFUL CHOIRS as VALKYRA GODDESS OF TERRIBLE VENGEANCE strides on stage left. SIMON cringes in genuine fear, MILO is struck by awe.
VALKYRA (commanding goddess voice)
BEHOLD MORTALS, FOR YOU WITNESS THE COMING OF VALKYRA…GODDESS OF TERRIBLE VENGEANCE.
Suddenly the cues cut out and VALKYRA coughs as if clearing her throat. She switches into a pleasant hippie drawl, as might be heard in a West Coast yoga studio.
‘Scuse me, sorry…did someone summon me?
Yes mighty Valkyra, Goddess of Terrible Vengeance. It is I, Milo the Brave. (pointing at SIMON) This wicked wizard stole the Cup of Plenty from my people, and then he—
–No, no, no, no. Listen Valkyra, this ruffian broke into my private residence, destroyed my very expensive magic gate–Which was made by a local artist—
Ok, yeah, thank you. I’m hearing a lot. First I should let you know that I go by Val now? And I haven’t been in the cosmic revenge business for about a year.
Yeah that was a complicated time in my life? Anyway, now I’m a certified yoga instructor.
And can this yoga magic destroy wicked wizards?
It’s not really about destroying? Yoga is a spiritual practice that involves movement and breath and a series of postures called asanas, which is Sanskrit for–
That’s it, I give up. I’ve failed to defeat the wizard and I’m just going to go now.
Milo you can’t leave.
No–good, get out of here.
This has been the most frustrating experience of my life. Good bye. (heads toward exit stage® left)
VALKYRA (suddenly loud and commanding)
NONE SHALL LEAVE.
MILO and SIMON turn and stare at VALKYRA. She resumes in her pleasant voice.
VALKYRA (apologetic about this)
Sorry friends…You can’t leave until I’m done or I’m required to turn you into stone. (mugs a ‘sorry guys’ face.) Sorry, I know it’s kind of dumb, but it’s part of the whole ‘Goddess of Terrible Vengeance’ thing …yeah. (beat as they take this in.) So, we might as well use the time we have. Milo, you and … (gestures at SIMON)
Simon. My name is Simon the Wizard.
Simon the Wicked Wizard.
Okay, gathering your attention. So the two of you have a conflict? Let’s just do one posture today that I think will resolve some of this negative energy. (switching into a soothing yoga teacher tone. SIMON and MILO follow along awkwardly and tentatively, like new students.) Okay let’s find our places. (gesturing for SIMON and MILO to stand together, which they do resentfully. As VALKYRA narrates the following pose she demonstrates it for us. SIMON and MILO are totally confused.) And moving into Compassionate Cat pose. So feet shoulder width apart, bringing our hands to our heart bone, making our little cat paws, breathing in all the compassion in the universe, and exhaling with the sound of a cat: Meow. Okay!
What is a heart bone?
Okay, good. (Approaches MILO) So Milo let’s make an adjustment. I see you’re carrying a lot of righteousness and judgment in your back body. So let’s just breathe the compassion into that back body.
And we’re not using props yet so let me just take that sword.
I can’t give it to you, it’s my Sword of Righteousness.
You know what, it will still be righteous when you get it back. (She takes the sword and puts it down.) Okay and once again breathing in that compassion and exhaling with the sound “Meow.” (MILO follows along but SIMON is just watching)
Meow. (A sudden and total change comes over MILO as the insight of understanding hits him.) Woah. What was that.
Why don’t you talk us through your journey?
MILO (searching, figuring this out)
Something marvelous has come over me. I can see myself, and the wizard Simon, and you, the goddess. And I can see that I’m pretty hung up on right and wrong..so much so that I don’t always see people. (turning to Simon, as if he is seeing him for the first time. Simon is really freaked out by all this.) Simon. Simon the wizard, who sometimes does bad things. Simon looks sad and lonely. I need to…think about this…for a long time.
Good, Milo, yeah. Maybe some understanding getting in there, great.
SIMON (freaked out)
What manner of dark magic is this yoga?
Okay Simon, it looks like you’re still holding a lot of denial in your sit bones (gesturing vaguely)
SIMON (nearly weeping with fear)
Sit bones? Speak plainly!
Okay so I’m just going to make a little adjustment here.
SIMON (quaking with fear)
Be merciful terrible goddess! (Valkyra makes a minute adjustment to Simon’s posture. Instant relief.) Oh!
Mmm, feeling that release. Okay, and breathing in the compassion of the universe and breathing out with the sound of the cat.
EVERYONE (varying levels of enthusiasm)
Simon is overcome by an awareness of himself and those around him.
SIMON (awed, searching, figuring it out)
Oh my dragon. I can see I’ve been carrying a lot of…personal baggage from my wizard childhood. And rather than deal with it, I’ve been, you know, stealing a lot of magic cups and um, burning a few–hundred– villages. (another realization hits him) Oh! And all those people around me. I was kind of a jerk to them. I guess I have a lot of apologies to make. After all, I’ve been doing this for three thousand years…I need to reexamine my entire life, which I will start doing now. (stares off into the distance)
Wow, okay. Looks like a seed of awareness has been planted. Friends I think my work is done here. I’m gonna go. (she bows and heads to exit stage left.)
Thank you, Valkyra, Goddess of Terrible Vengeance.
Please, call me Val.
VALKYRA exits. Awkward beat as MILO and SIMON are lost in their new worlds.
MILO (in a bit of a daze)
So. I think I’m gonna go. I have to ask you to stop all the burning and stealing.
SIMON (also in a bit of a daze)
I hear that, um. I obviously have some personal stuff to work through. And um. Sorry about all the lightning and the cup and all that.
MILO picks up the SWORD, looks at it, drops it, picks up the CUP and heads for exit stage left. As she goes:
When you leave, just latch the magic gate so the magic deer don’t, you know…(trails off)
Sure thing. Bye.
SIMON turns to stare at the audience. Slowly does the compassionate cat pose.
LIGHTS OUT as we hear the triumphant finale of IN THE HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING.