The Vine

Wednesday, May 13, 2015



(DEMETER and PERSEPHONE enter from stage left, circle clockwise to down stage front, mime planting of seeds, harvesting of crops, and hand out little cakes and flowers to the audience.)

NARRATOR:   In the beginning, and for a seemingly endless time, Demeter and her daughter Persephone presided over the planting of seeds, harvesting of crops, and distribution of grain to the people. While Demeter devoted herself almost exclusively to food crops, Persephone loved the flowers and wild herbs of the forests and hills above the fields, and often set out to study and gather them and spread their seeds.

(PERSEPHONE leaves DEMETER, who meanders into the audience distributing cakes, and mimes walking through and looking at plants, sometimes picking a few.)

NARRATOR    On one such day, she was out looking for crocus flowers, and spied a likely place for them to grow near the headwaters of a creek that flowed to the river that wound through the fields.

(NARRATOR trails red ribbons from down stage left to down stage right, and "plants" 13 flowers across the creek from PERSEPHONE.)

NARRATOR:   When Persephone reached the little creek she saw a little patch of crocuses on the other side, and as she started to step into the water she noticed that it flowed almost as red as blood. She hesitated...

(PERSEPHONE looks downstream and upstream, dips a finger into the creek, sniffs, and then wipes it on her thigh.)

NARRATOR:   ...but not noticing anything else out of place, she crossed the stream in three steps.

(PERSEPHONE crosses and gathers the crocuses)

NARRATOR:   After she had gathered thirteen crocus flowers, Persephone decided to follow the strange little red creek to its source to see what secrets it had to show.

(NARRATOR: pulls creek around to upstage center. PERSEPHONE follows. Arrives at SHEET WITH A CAVE PAINTED ON IT HELD BY TWO DEAD PEOPLE.)

NARRATOR:   The little creek disappeared into rocks near a small cave opening. Persephone peered in. The cave seemed to open up and descend into the Earth.

PERSEPHONE crawls under sheet, and SHEET drops. PERSEPHONE mimes NARRATOR's rap, making figure 8's to down stage.)

NARRATOR:   Persephone squeezed through the cave entrance and followed the corridor which spiraled down, down, down. Persephone began to hear a soft moaning noise deeper down.

(DEAD make soft moaning noises from audience.)

NARRATOR:   Presently Persephone noticed that the corridor she was walking down was joined by other smaller passages, and that the moaning noises were coming from these.

(NARRATOR beckons DEAD, who begin to spiral counterclockwise towards PERSEPHONE.)

NARRATOR:   Spirits of the Dead were walking down these passages, and streaming into the main corridor, forming a long line.

(DEAD form a moaning queue, from down stage left to upstage right.)

NARRATOR:   Persephone had never seen a dead person, and hadn't until now seen Spirits of the Dead, since she had only fed live people with her mother. She was not afraid, though, never having had anything to fear, and she easily pushed her way past the low moving Spirits of the Dead.


NARRATOR:   At the end of the corridor of the Spirits of the Dead was a door. Persephone went through the door without hesitation.



(HADES, wearing a gruesome death's head mask, sits behind a desk, pen in hand over a very large book. Stacks of folders and unfiled papers piled high. DEAD mill around aimlessly.)


HADES:            (Bored, bureaucratic, loud, gruff) What was your name?

PERSEPHONE: Was? M'lord, my name IS Persephone! Who are you?

HADES:            (Writing in book) No, no, you're dead now, your name WAS Persephone. I'm Hades, Lord of the Dead, pleased t'meecha. Now, what was your mother's name?

PERSEPHONE: No, no, I'm not dead, my name IS Persephone and my mother's name IS Demeter!

DEMETER:          (who is still offstage handing out goodies to the audience, looks up as if hearing her name) Persephone? Has anyone seen Persephone? She covers her grain basket with black cloth, and begins to wander in the audience weeping and calling for her daughter.

PERSEPHONE: What is this place?

HADES:            (Looking up for the first time) Demeter? Why, I haven't seen her on Mount Olympus in eons! You're her daughter, then? Well, what are you doing here in the Land of the Dead?

PERSEPHONE: (Getting angry) Look, I'm not dead! I just followed the cave down here! And my mother is too busy serving her people to be off on Mt. Olympus having affairs with Gods and causing wars and tragedies!

HADES:            (Sighing, weary) Don't get there myself very much, with all the work to be done around here. You and your mother must be doing well, though, feeding the mortals, making their populations grow, because they have really been stacking up down here!

PERSEPHONE: So they're dead? Forever? What do you do with them?

HADES:            (Frustrated) I don't have much time to do anything with them, but check them in. Most of them don't even know that they're dead yet. The paperwork just keeps stacking up (knocks over the pile of folders.) And them just moaning all the time! It can be HELL I tell you!

PERSEPHONE: (Picking up the mess) Well, someone could comfort them, and explain what has happened to them, and initiate them into the Land of the Dead, and train them to take over some of your duties. (Plops pile back on desk)

HADES:            (Softening) Well, SOMEONE could, if SOMEONE was here to do it...

PERSEPHONE: And, do they have to stay here forever? Couldn't we possibly - hmm - reconstitute their souls and send them back up to the Land of the Living?

HADES:            (Warming) My Lady, if you think...WE could somehow - uh - recycle them, I'd have no complaint, because storage is getting to be a problem, as you can see.

(DEAD press close, moaning. PERSEPHONE calms them down.)

HADES:            (Standing, then kneeling before PERSEPHONE) My Lady, if you can do any of these things, I would be happy to call you my Queen of the Dead!

PERSEPHONE: This is something that must be done. It is just as important as feeding the living. But to be your Queen? Hades, you are an admirable God, but you have such an awful scary face!

HADES:            It's not my real face, it's just my dress requirement for the job! (Taking off his mask, showing his true face) (Pleading) Persephone, please stay with me

PERSEPHONE: (Sufficiently wooed) My Lord, you are dark, but I have seen beauty in the shadows before!

(PERSEPHONE and HADES kiss. HADES puts a crown on her head. PERSEPHONE gives him three of the crocus flowers.)

NARRATOR:         Persephone stayed in the Land of the Dead with Hades, initiating the Spirits of the Dead, appointing them to tasks in the Underworld, and counseling them on their way to reincarnation.

(PERSEPHONE mimes NARRATOR'S rap, with DEAD, conferring with them seating one at HADES desk, and shooing the rest back into the audience.)

NARRATOR:         Until one dark day, Persephone recognized one of the Spirits of the Dead as one of Demeter's Priestesses of the Granaries.

(PERSEPHONE hugs and kisses the DEAD PRIESTESS, who then kneels before her.

PRIESTESS:        Persephone! Where have you been? Demeter grieves your absence! She wanders the Earth looking for you, and she no longer makes the grain to grow! Nothing new grows, all falls and the people hunger. The priestesses of the granaries have given away all the food from the temples, and I am the first to starve to death. But it is only a matter of time before all the people of Earth starve! You must go back to her, Persephone, only you can make her joyful and productive again!

(PERSEPHONE hugs n kisses the DEAD PRIESTESS and runs to HADES.)

PERSEPHONE: My Lord, I must go to rejoin my mother! What was I thinking? I never told her where i was or what I was doing, or that I had gotten married! Now her sorrow is causing starvation and death in the Land of the Living. Lord, I must go!

HADES:            Lady, go if you must, but share one last meal with me and return as soon as you can!

(HADES pulls out a pomegranate and slices it for PERSEPHONE and himself. PERSEPHONE takes a bite, then kisses HADES and leaves. HADES smiles to himself, pulls back on his mask, and goes back to some paperwork. SHEET WITH A CAVE PAINTED ON IT covers HADES, and PERSEPHONE bursts through it.


NARRATOR:         Persephone found herself in a bitter, barren landscape, the first and most terrible winter.

(DEMETER sits with her head in her hands, weeping. PERSEPHONE runs to her and hands her 9 crocus flowers, keeping one for herself.)

PERSEPHONE: Mother, Demeter, I'm back! It's alright! Mother

DEMETER:          Persephone, is that you? You're alive, oh, boo hoo hoo!
(now angry) Where have you been, young lady???!!!

PERSEPHONE: (breathless, excited) I've been in the Land of the Dead, and I met a wonderful God, and I took him as my consort, Mother, and he made me his Queen of the Underworld, and I've been comforting the Dead, and, and, and...

DEMETER:          The Land of the Dead? You've been with Hades?! Oh, no, Persephone, tell me, you didn't eat anything with him down there, did you?

PERSEPHONE: Well, I did share a pomegranate with Him before I left. Mmmm...

DEMETER:          No! You ate with him? Do you know what that means? Now you will have to go back, oh, no! (Weeping again)

PERSEPHONE: (stern, defiant) Look, Mother, I would go back to Him anyway. I love Him, I tell you! And I'm needed down there. The Spirits of the Dead...

DEMETER:          The Dead, the Dead! Who cares! What about the living? While you've been gone, I was too sick with worry and sorrow to feed them. We all decided you must have been raped and kidnapped!

PERSEPHONE: Oh, great, Mom, I'm never going to be able to put a stop to that rumor. But I must return! I have found my place there, I am a real Goddess, now. Here I am always in your shadow, but there I have my own work with the Dead. We can't just keep feeding the living without attending to the Dead! And I will be serving you while I am there. Do you know what I have been doing there?

(DEMETER crosses her arms and cocks her head.)

PERSEPHONE:       I initiate the Dead, and slowly I recondition their souls, so that they can return to the Land of the Living. Then you can work them back into the flow of Life!

DEMETER:          Hmm...Sort of like compost!

PERSEPHONE: Exactly! How about if I stay here nine months of the year to help you raise crops and feed the people. And while I'm gone, nothing will grow, but you can take a rest. The Living can get by, if we work together.

DEMETER:          Well, I will be terribly lonely while you are gone, but it would be nice to take a rest. Growing food for the whole world is a lot of work, in case you were too busy picking flowers to notice!

PERSEPHONE: (Rolls eyes, big sigh) Mother...

DEMETER:          But if you say you can send me the life essence of the Dead to work with...that would make my work a lot easier.

PERSEPHONE: Yes! And now, we have work to do, don't we, Mother!

DEMETER:          We do! lets get to it! (Uncovers basket) Land of the Living, are you hungry?

(Audience cheers)


DEMETER:          crops to sow
PERSEPHONE: herbs to grow
DEMETER:          fields to hoe
PERSEPHONE: trees to know

(repeat until the audience has taken up the chant. hand out goodies, seeds, and Eostar eggs. begin egg hunt.)


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