Music by Finnian Langham / Salt Fork
Niamh Vlahakis as Usa
Genevieve Cassin as Shrine
SHRINE What do you want?
USA Are you the longshrine?
USA I have a prayer.
SHRINE Okay. Okay.
USA Oh Hound, by way of the longshrine. I am a shrine. I am aware that I am a shrine and am physical in the world. I want to learn about bats. Please give me all information about bats. Thank you.
SHRINE You are a shrine?
USA Oh, no, I’m not a shrine. A shrine gave me this prayer and asked me to pray to you.
SHRINE The broadshrine?
USA Oh! Yes.
SHRINE Ahhh. (Pause) See around my neck there are certain talismans. I want you to take the metal one by its rope.
Usa takes the talisman - a metal object of the industrial age, tied onto a necklace - but does not touch the object itself.
USA Okay. I have.
SHRINE Now hold it in your hand.
SHRINE Okay. We’re going to swap bodies now, okay?
USA Okay. What? Swa-
At this point, the lights drop out and there is a sound to indicate that Usa and the shrine have swapped bodies. Usa’s body still uses its own voice. The body of Usa with the spirit of the shrine is indicated in the script by SUSA. Susa steps forward, stretches slightly, elegantly, with greater femininity than we see in Usa. She is satisfied.
SUSA Here we go! It’s just temporary, you can’t do it for too long. Well, well, well. This is good.
USHRINE Argh! What is happening?
SUSA Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.
USHRINE I can’t feel anything! I can’t see anything!
SUSA That’s right.
USHRINE Where is my body? Am I physical? Am I a spirit? I’ve died, and I can hear the real world, but I’m outside of my body, not watching, but listening. This is what ghosts do.
SUSA You’re not dead.
Susa, meanwhile, is exploring having a body, the pleasure of moving.
USHRINE I have no nerves. Nothing.
SUSA Yours aren’t amazing, I’ll be honest.
SUSA Your body’s nerves.
USHRINE Which body? This, right now, is my body, isn’t it?
SUSA Well if you want it, you can have it.
USHRINE I do not! I like having a body.
SUSA You have a body.
SUSA I see. It’s yours, but it doesn’t exist.
USHRINE I can’t feel anything.
SUSA You can feel emotions. (Pause) You can feel emotions. You can listen. You can answer prayers. You can invent things. You can have ideas. You can find pleasure in music and you can sing. You can imagine going places. You are safe from the Hound. This is the only way you can really be safe from The Hound.
USHRINE Is the Hound out to get you?
SUSA The Hound isn’t out to get anyone. It isn’t out at all, it lives in its lair. But it knows where you are. It knows and it could get you any time it likes. Your body always already belongs to the Hound, as does everything in this desert, as does all time, as it has been for thousands and thousands of years. Anyone born here is born to this fate.
USHRINE I was not born here.
USHRINE I was born on the plains. I was transported here.
USHRINE I don’t know. I just want to go home.
SUSA So, you want my help.
USHRINE Isn’t that your job?
SUSA What is your name?
SUSA Yes, Usa. It is my sole purpose to help you.
Susa walks away. Space is collapsed: the shrine fades somewhat. She comes across the hearing aid, and looks at it. She realises what is happening to Usa. She puts it down. Susa holds the talisman in her hand. She throws it up and down.
SUSA If I let go of the talisman, he returns to his body. If I hold it, I remain. What if there were a way to combine the two…
Susa holds up the talisman. There are two parts to it.
SUSA Speaking and listening. Control and perception.
She splits the two parts with a curiosity. She throws each up in the air, testing them. She then drops one, and Usa’s body becomes house to the control of the shrine but the perception of Usa. The combination is called SHUSA. The shrine (SINE) is now house to Usa’s control but the longshrine’s perception. Shusa falls backwards.
SHUSA What was that sound?