“Compassion” by Salma Arastu

The Play - The Opening

As the audience enters the entire cast of characters is on stage all in a tableau in the style of the painting of Dionisio Baixeras, Reception with Caliph Abd al-Rahman III in Medina ai-Zahra. Low murmurings of various conversations can be heard, some one singing, another is eating, while another is smoking a pipe. Children are playing games, a mother shows her daughter how to kneed bread properly. The mood is quiet and serene, a mist of incense perfumes the air and makes it hazy.  This mood is broken by the screeching of a subway train pulling into a station.  Out from behind the arches appears a man with a NYC T-shirt on. He is our Master of Ceremonies Chris from New York City. The entire stage stops dead and stares at this odd person who has just landed in Cordoba Spain.

CHRIS

Ah… they said it was just one more stop on the W train… I followed the guys instructions… I don’t know anymore these new letters in the subway are all too confusing…

(Looking at everyone staring at him feeling very self consciousness)

Hi…. Ah…. Your probably all wondering what the hell is going on? Right?  Like who am I? Right?

            (No response)

Tough room.  My manager told me there would be gigs like this.  Listen, I was on my way to this Bread Festival in midtown Manhattan – thought I would indulge in a bit of the feasting – the invite said free bread. So where’s the bread?

(Still no response)

Alright then…. I see I am winning my “free” overnight stay here.  Lets start this all over.  Hello. My name is Chris.  I am from New York City, way over there, some where, I don’t know exactly where compared to here.  Hey… where the hell am I?

 

CHILD

Silly man, you’re in Cordoba!

 

CHRIS

Cordoba, as in Cordoba Spain? Wow the subway is getting harder to figure out. And to think they raised the fare for what? Confusion? Ok, so here I am in Cordoba. What to do… what to do….

 

CHILD

Hey mister… you said you wanted some bread. Well here’s some for you. Have a taste of my bread.

(The child hands him a piece of Challah)

 

CHRIS

Hey man thanks. What type of bread is this?

 

CHILD

Don’t you know?  It’s Challah. Very special bread.

 

CHRIS

Sorry I don’t – what so special about this?

 

CHILD

Shhhhh. Sit down you’re about to find out.

(The lights shift and drums begin to play softly. Dancers, dressed in white, do a complimentary dance as we listen to the following Prologue.)