A Play by Selim Tezel


Sky Castle

A metaphor play about "longing" inspired by a 1928 drawing of M.C. Escher (titled "Castle in the Air") incorporating elements of Greek mythology and eastern philosophy (Ram Das).  It is purposefully short and is intended to be embedded in a rich dance/ballet choreography with creative musical elements and state-of-the-art visual and sound stage effects.

Story Synopsis:
Achilles learns from his friend the Tortoise about a castle that hangs in the sky at high seas.  Intrigued they go together to take a peek and no matter what they do they cannot figure out its purpose or how it is floating up there.  They invoke the natural elements the Moon, the Wind, the Ocean to help them solve the mystery but more mysteries and riddles are unveiled.

Character Breakdown: All the characters can be played by male or female actors as the director sees appropriate .

Author's Note:

This is a play about longing. All our lives we long for what seems to be beyond us. We imagine "castles in the sky" that ignite our imagination and promise us fulfillment. But the "riddle of the sky castle" is that to enter this magical kingdom we must come to first realize that the kingdom hosting our fulfillment is called the "kingdom of Now Here". Though now and here seems to us "nowhere" to be, it is in the now and here that the Self lives and that we are but already masters of this kingdom.

Sleep is suggested in the play to be the gatekeeper to the kingdom of Now Here as at the moment of falling asleep we cannot help but merge to the present. During deep rest we float as if on the humming waves of the here and now. Then another dream take us over.

Scene: 1

A Victorian bed room.

A man, Master of the House in night cloaks getting ready to go to bed. Wind beating on the window panes. He closes the panes, sound of wind subsides. He picks up a book and a candle, blows a few other candles off. Heads towards the bed. Yawns. Wind is heard softly beating on the house again. A sense of warmth and drowsiness comes over the room. Man enters the bed starts reading, before long his eye lids close.

Sleep is heard singing a lullaby. Sleep slowly enters the room and dances around. The man is heard softly snoring. Sleep rules the night.

Scene: 2

Achilles running in a forest. Carries a bag. Overtakes Tortoise, which he notices in the last minute. Stops, catches breathe. Tortoise comes up to him. They talk as Achilles sits on a rock.

Achilles: Well, good day Mister. I almost did not see you.

Tortoise: Good day to you sir. I hope you are enjoying yourself. A blessed gorgeous day we have today.

Achilles: By gods, you are right. Strange I did not realize so until now.

Tortoise: Seems there are some advantages to being so slow after all.

They both laugh.

Tortoise: So where might you be running in such hurry?

Achilles: I am trying to get back in shape for a tough journey I will have to take to the Eastern provinces next month...One has to be ready for such undertakings.

Tortoise: I guess so, though I couldn't really tell.

Achilles: What might you be up to my good friend?

Tortoise: My friend the seagull discovered a sky castle two hour's swim from the Misty Shore. Tonight I promised to join him to take a look. I was heading that way.

Achilles: A sky castle?

Tortoise: Sounds strange to the ear doesn't it. I thought it might be worth the trip.

Achilles: It sure does. Can I come with you?

Scene: 3

Tortoise with Achilles on his back slowly swims towards the sky castle. Moon is almost full. A bird is seen flying far far out by the clouds near the castle.

Achilles: By the gods, what a sight! I would never believe this unless I saw it with my own eyes.

Tortoise: Oh marvel!

Achilles: What is it doing up there?

Tortoise: I don't know. I see some lights. There must be some people living up there.

Achilles: Hello! Is anybody up there?

Echoes. Only echoes against the silence of the night.

Tortoise: Seems too far, I don't think any one up there can hear us.

Achilles: I am afraid you might be right. Your friend the seagull is nowhere in sight. Let's ask the moon. May be he can tell us.

Tortoise: Good idea!

Achilles: O kind lantern of the night skies! O watcher of lovers! O guide of lost ships, hear our voice!

Moon: What gentle creatures are calling me?

Moon touches Achilles and tortoise gently with his lights.

Achilles: O graceful Moon, hear my voice. Me, Achilles and my friend the Tortoise, came here to behold this mystery castle that hangs in the sky. Tell us in your wisdom, what can you see from where you are? What is this marvel that hangs in the night sky?

Moon: With gentle lights I kiss the sky castle every night. Every wall stone I have tried to tempt with gentle caress to tell me the secrets it hides. Yet silence rules over this kingdom, not even I can penetrate its thickness. Every once in a while I imagine that I see someone open a window pane to let fresh air in, or I fantasize hearing a sigh or even a cry. But that's all I can tell. Why don't you ask the Wind. She has undoubtedly visited these dwellings. She may have stories to share.

Achilles: Kind lover of night. Peace to you Moon and may the grace of gods be upon your gentle face.

Tortoise: The wind must have entered those rooms. She will know.

Achilles: O soft touch of Heaven! Invisible yet boundless One. Hear our voice.

The air starts becoming windy.

Tortoise: Waters are getting stirred, Achilles be careful with her.

Achilles: We come before you in humility, O great destroyer. O marvelous Dancer of gods.

Wind comes down upon them. Dances around them ever so gently and compassionately. Touches Achilles in the face and kisses him on the lips.

Wind: Whose gentle voice breathes these words? Who is it that has invoked me from my restful sleep?

Achilles: Kind lover, be gentle with us. We come in peace. We have no wish to disturb you, but only wish to understand the mystery the sky castle. Master Moon in his grace mentioned to us that you may have visited the castle and its rooms.

Wind kisses Achilles on the lips once more. Passionately and lets go.

Wind: I have danced on the walls of the castle many days and nights. I have tried to temp every stone to yield me the secrets it hides behind, with no avail. I even raged one day and beat upon the closed doors with my fury, threatening to blow the castle off the sky. Silence was all I got. Yet one day I saw a window pane open. I heard a sigh, then came the voice of someone crying with much longing. I came by the window and saw this beautiful delicate little girl in tears. As I caressed her face and consoled her with my fresh breeze, she felt delighted and let out a most wonderful song. I carried the song to far lands. It still echoes in far out villages and upon the face of the ocean. I was so taken by the little girl and her song that I forgot about the castle. Never again did I see the girl or hear her lovely voice. Even to me the castle is a mystery.

Wind dances some more and gives Achilles a parting kiss.

Achilles: O mesmerizing freshness of the night. Kind touch of Heaven. May the grace of gods be upon your gentle face.

Tortoise: Not even the wind knows. How strange!

Achilles:(recovering from the sensual encounter with the wind) I wonder if we will ever know. If only you friend the seagull came back may be he could tell us.

Tortoise: I am getting tired and sleepy. I think we should go back.

Achilles: May be we can come back tomorrow.

Scene: 4: Night time full moon. Achilles on top of tortoise, before the sky castle.

Achilles: (With much longing and passion. Voice echoes.) O great Paradox! O mystery of mysteries in the sky! It has been many nights we came before you. In humility. Asking you to tell us your secret. All we heard is your silence. We implore you! What is your secret, tell us! In kindness tell us so that we can understand. Whatever it is your meaning, teach us. Don't let us go back empty handed. We are seekers of the truths that you harbor. Break your silence. O great enigma!

Long silence. Echoes, wind, moon light. Achilles sits down.

Tortoise: Achilles. I don't think we will ever know. My friend the seagull never came back. I am worried about him. I am sorry I dragged you into all this.

Achilles: My mind is as if enchanted by this thing. I can't think of anything else.

They sit in silence for a while. Wind dances softly around them softly singing. Wind becomes Sleep, her song turns into a gentle lullaby.

Sleep: (softly) Sleep! Sleep! Sleep! gentle creatures.

Tortoise: I am feeling drowsy. My eyelids are closing. I feel...

Achilles: Let us rest a bit. I could...

Sleep: (softly) Sleep! Sleep! Sleep!

They both fall asleep. Tortoise snores a bit.

Lights dim. Sleep does a magical dance around the sleepers. Vapors, chants. Room for much creativity.

Scene: 5:

Achilles wakes up on the rocks by the gate of a castle. It is clear that he has somehow reached the Sky Castle. Sleep is the GateKeeper. Her voice is anything but soft. Digitally deepened superimposed multivoices is best suited.

Achilles:(Waking up, gets up and walks towards the gate) By gods where am I?

GateKeeper: Halt traveler!

Achilles: Is this the sky castle?

GateKeeper: This is the kingdom of NoWHere! (NoWHere sounds a mixture of nowhere and now here with echoes, should not be very clear)

Achilles:(Looking below at the waters) By the gods. I am on the sky castle.

GateKeeper: Halt traveler. What is your purpose! Whence do you come from?

Achilles: I come in peace kind keeper of the gate. Let me in. I mean no harm. I have, I am... It is confusing!

GateKeeper: No one enters these gates but a master of the Riddle, traveler. Not even gods.

Achilles: Riddle? What Riddle?

GateKeeper: The Riddle of NoWHere. (again NowHere is clouded by superimposed sounds)

Achilles: Tell me the Riddle kind sir. And let me have a go at it.

GateKeeper metamorphoses into the Riddle who tells itself.

Riddle: I am the beginning and the end of every Journey. I am the seed of every longing and the harvest of every reaching. Born of silence, I am the companion and the song on the road that sings itself. Who am I?

Riddle repeats herself and slowly starts to confront Achilles. They start to wrestle, Riddle repeating herself. Wrestling becomes sensual, kisses and caresses follow. Riddle who was wind and sleep and gatekeeper now makes love to Achilles.

Scene: 6

Achilles wakes up to find himself on the Tortoise

Achilles: Tortoise! Wake up!

Tortoise: (Mumbling to himself) Whewyuff...

Achilles: I had the strangest dream. I am in love!

Tortoise: What! What is going on?

Achilles: The woman of my dreams appeared to me in the form of a Riddle. She was the gatekeeper to the castle. We fought and then we...made love.

Tortoise: Sounds fantastic! Better than the dream I had. I was being served to the master of the sky castle. That is, as a dish of soup.

Achilles: You had to see her. She was love. So perfect a dream, I wish it was true.

Tortoise: Go back to sleep then. Why did you have to wake me up?

Achilles: I had...(hearing a fisherman boat approaching in distance) Hush!

Tortoise: What is it?

Achilles: I don't know. We might have visitors.

The fishing boat comes under the castle. Achilles and Tortoise lay low.

A ladder comes down from the sky castle. A man in dark coat and hat is seen descending with a lantern in his hand. The fisherman from the boat gives the man on the ladder a basket. Without saying much they part. Man ascending the ladder, boat receding.

Tortoise: What are we going to do?

Achilles: I don't know.

Tortoise: This might be our one chance. Do something.

Achilles: I am thinking.

Tortoise swims near the ladder. Man is nearing the end of ladder.

Tortoise: Go ahead! Climb up. What are you waiting?

Achilles: I.. I..

Tortoise: I will wait for you here don't worry. Go up before it is too late.

Achilles: I can't...

Tortoise: What do you mean you can't, every night for the last two months we have been coming here. And you... What's the matter, do it.

Achilles: I...

Before Achilles can finish the sentence the ladder starts to be pulled up. If Achilles wanted he could hold its end. But misses it and appears relieved that he misses it.

Achilles: I am sorry. I just couldn't do it.

Tortoise: You surprised me. I thought you would run for an opportunity like this. What happened?

Achilles: I don't know. I think it is that dream that confused me, made me afraid.

Tortoise: To face the woman of your dreams scared you?

Achilles: No not that. May be not to find her there. May be finding her but not having mastered the Riddle.

Tortoise: What is this Riddle you have been talking about?

Achilles: I am trying to remember.

Tortoise: Goodness...

Achilles: It is called the Riddle of nowhere.

Tortoise: The Riddle of nowhere? No wonder we are getting no where with all this!

Achilles: Hush! I think it went like this:

I am the beginning and...

Wind starts to blow. Turns to Riddle

Riddle & Achilles: ... and the end of every Journey. I am the seed of every longing and the harvest of every reaching. Born of silence, I am the companion and the song on the road that sings itself. Who am I?

They repeat a few times. A sensual atmosphere is created again.

Tortoise: Now that's a Riddle.

Achilles: Sure is. I wish we had a clue.

Tortoise: We could wait here till we rot for clue.

Achilles: You are right, waiting will get us nowhere.

Tortoise:(Flash of brilliance) That's it. We got it! We got it!

Achilles: Got what?

Tortoise: Bravo! Bravo! I could never dream of the answer myself. Bravo!

Achilles: What are you talking about?

Tortoise: Did you not say "waiting will get us nowhere?"

Achilles: Yes, what's the big thing about that.

Tortoise: You also said the Riddle is called the "Riddle of nowhere"?

Achilles: Yes, what are you up to?

Tortoise: Don't you get it. The answer to the riddle is given in the title. Very smart! Very! The answer is "nowhere".

Achilles: Don't be silly.

Tortoise: I am not. Every journey starts nowhere and ends nowhere. Look at ours as an example. We were looking for nowhere in particular and ended up in nowhere.

Achilles: You are going...

Tortoise:(continues with excitement) We had the longing of getting nowhere and nowhere was what we harvested. I need to find something about a song that sings itself that fits this theory... Now here, let me think a bit.

Achilles: Please stop it you are confusing matters...

Tortoise:(Calming down) I know. I am sorry. I got carried away.

Achilles: I will invoke the Ocean to help us solve this mystery. But we first need the help of the wind to wake up the Ocean.

Achilles: Gentle Touch of Heaven. The invisible and boundless dancer of the skies. Hear our voice, O Wind. Give us your hand.

Wind wakes up. Dances around them. Touching Achilles on the face, kissing him on the lips.

Wind: What gentle voice is this that calls my name?

Achilles: It is us again disturbing you from your resting place. We have a plea. We beg your kind help.

Wind: Ask gentle mortal. I will see what I can do.

Achilles: We request that you wake up the Ocean. May he rise so that he tosses us upon the shores of the castle in the sky.

Wind: Stay close to my heart so that the giant in his wake does not crush you asunder.

Wind starts stirring the Ocean. The Ocean is aroused to ecstasy by playful wind. As their flirtations turn to kisses and love making, a tornado is created waters rise amidst mist. We see Achilles and Tortoise rise up towards the sky castle with waters.

Scene: 7

On the rocky shores of the sky castle. It is day time. The storm has subsided. Wind dances on the shores. We see Achilles and Tortoise approach a sign on the shore that says:

"Welcome To the Kingdom of Now Here"

Tortoise: What a strange way to spell "nowhere"

They look at each other and head towards the castle gates.

We never learn what becomes of them.

Scene: 8

A Victorian room. Master of the house is having breakfast, served by his butler.

Butler: Hope the Master had a restful night.

Master: I had the strangest of dreams Martin. You will never believe.

Butler: But do tell Master.

Master: I was Achilles, the Greek hero, struggling to solve a riddle... (tasting the omelet) Hmmm. Delicious, Martin Just delicious..

Butler opens some windows

Master: Oh, thank you. Nothing like the sun light.

Behind the window panes we see clouds and catch a glimpse of the ocean miles below a rocky shore. It is clear we are on the sky castle.

Master: ...And there was this giant turtle...