James Connolly, international socialist and leader of the Irish Citizen Army, disappeared from his headquarters at Liberty Hall, Dublin, on January 19, 1916. When he returned four days later his only comment was, "I have been through hell." He had been held captive by the clandestine Irish Republican Brotherhood - a group that he had little in common with and often derided. In April 1916 he enthusiastically joined them in an unsuccessful - and some would say - suicidal attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland.
BLOOD, written by Larry Kirwan, was first presented by Synchronicity Space, at 55 Mercer Street, New York City in May 1993, with the following cast:
JAMES CONNOLLY: Jimmy Smallhorne
SEAN MacDERMOTT: Jeff Robbins
PATRICK PEARSE: John Tyrell
Directed by Keith Gilroy
Set Design: Scott Pask
Lighting Design: David Alan Comstock
Costumes: Susie Amato
Stage Manager: Elaine Bayless
Music: Larry Kirwan
JAMES CONNOLLY: Mid 40's, working class intellectual, self-educated but very well read, burning with energy and compassion. He is practical but also very idealistic. Left school at 11 to become a manure sweeper, has been a member of the British Army so has no illusions about his fate, has lived in the US where he was a political and union organizer.
SEAN MacDERMOTT: Early 30's, strikingly handsome, ruthless organizer, once athletic, outgoing and popular, was stricken by polio three years earlier. Though paralyzed on much of his left side, he masks this disability by sheer force of will and personality, and can move quickly when need be. He has absolutely no self-pity.
PATRICK PEARSE: Late 30's, enigmatic educator and Gaelic language enthusiast. Formal and often socially uncomfortable, he is an idealist and visionary but is very ambitious and driven. A well-regarded poet and writer of renown, he challenged contemporary notions of education with his pamphlet, The Murder Machine. Somewhat vain, yet he is a man of great dignity.
Darkness. Dissonant music mixed with repeating shards of relevant 1916 poetry such as:
"I see his blood upon the rose and in the stars the glory of his eyes..."
"Too long a sacrifice makes a stone of the heart..."
"I do not grudge them: Lord I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die...."
This segues with the distant murmur of the rosary. Spotlight up on James Connolly tied to a chair. His eyes are closed and he is hallucinating. He comes to and becomes aware of the praying (which continues under his following lines).
CONNOLLY: Will you listen to them - goin' at it a mile a minute - Jesus, Mary and Joseph, will they never give it a rest.
(Shouts) Go on, Pearse! Good man, MacDermott! Pray on yez two bastards...(in a whisper) At least they haven't shot you yet!
Jesus Christ! I wish I could scratch me arse. (Shouts) Hey you, Sergeant Major! Captain Big Cheese! Will you come in here and scratch me arse for me!
(To himself) Bastards! At least they won't shoot me tied to a chair!
Concentrating on the praying again) Ah Jaysus, that auld prayin' is depressin'! That's their whole problem. More faith in the hereafter than the here and now... How, in Christ's name, did I ever get mixed up with them? A crowd of half-baked poets and dreamers, mad with lust for their Kathleen Mabloody Vourneen! Where's their Mammy Ireland now when we need her to blow us the hell out of here?
And where were the great patriotic Irish people? Shower of bastards - spittin' at us and spatterin' us with horseshite as we were frog-marched out of the GPO and into this hellhole. Afraid we'd lose their precious Army pensions on them, weren't they! And where was the rest of the country when workin' class Dublin rose up in arms?
(Shouts) Are you listenin', Pearse? What happened to all your Gaelic Leaguers and Sinn Feiners blatherin' away about the noble deeds of Cuchullain (Koo-kullen)?
Under their beds rattlin' their chamber pots at the sound of the first bloody rifle shot, that's where they were. Me bollocks on them all!
(Shouts) Ah will yez, for the love of Jaysus, give up that bloody prayin'?
(To himself) How in the name of Christ did I ever get mixed up with them?
(Lights down. Dissonant music and poetry up.)
Lights up on a bare room with a naked light bulb hanging from the ceiling. Pearse and MacDermott are seated around a table. MacDermott's walking stick lies on the table.
PEARSE: It's no use. He won't break. They've tried all manner of interrogation on him.
MACDERMOTT: Just give me one hour with him and I'll break the bastard.
PEARSE: We can't keep him here forever.
MACDERMOTT: Better here than out running his mouth off on the streets!
PEARSE: His own people will be looking for him.
MACDERMOTT: Yeah, his girlfriend Markievicz will be howling to the heavens. Damn her and the rest of them! Crowd of bloody communists!
PEARSE: Whatever you want to call them, they might alert the authorities.
MACDERMOTT: All I need is one hour on me own with him.
MACDERMOTT: (quiet but dangerous) Is there some problem?
PEARSE: Not in the state you're in, Sean....
MACDERMOTT: What state?
(Not much louder but very confrontational)
What bloody state?
(Pearse refuses to be drawn. MacDermott returns to his controlled intensity.)
Well, if you won't give him to me. Maybe I'll just take him.
PEARSE: We had an agreement.
MACDERMOTT: The Irish Republican Brotherhood makes the decisions around here.
PEARSE: And I am a member of its Supreme Council.
MACDERMOTT: A recent member.
PEARSE: Recent or not, I have its complete confidence.
MACDERMOTT: (sarcastic) Is that a fact?
PEARSE: Are you suggesting otherwise?
MACDERMOTT: Don't get too big for your boots, Pearse. You were co-opted onto the Council for a reason.
PEARSE: If you think, for one moment, that I'm anyone's figurehead....
MACDERMOTT: Oh, you're not mine. Far from it! You wouldn't be here at all if Tom Clarke didn't see some use for you.
PEARSE: I am here at his express invitation.
MACDERMOTT: Mister Clarke, in his wisdom, concentrates on the broad strokes. I, on the other hand, am forced to attend to the...less "savory" details.
PEARSE: Perhaps, he feels you need some perspective in this... delicate matter.
MACDERMOTT: He's had no problems with other "delicate" matters I've attended to.
PEARSE: He may feel, in his wisdom, that this one calls for a... lighter touch.
MACDERMOTT: Don't push me, Pearse.
(They lock eyes in confrontation.)
PEARSE: So, how would you settle this?
(MacDermott removes a revolver from inside his jacket)
PEARSE: For God's sake, we can't go killing our own. That would make us no better than the English.
MACDERMOTT: That's why they have an empire and we're a half-step up from slaves.
PEARSE: What's happened to you, Sean?
MACDERMOTT: Nothing's happened to me, except that I won't let this loud-mouthed anarchist destroy all our plans.
PEARSE: He could be useful.
MACDERMOTT: You don't know him like I do.
PEARSE: Perhaps, if we were to give him an inkling of what's afoot?
MACDERMOTT: Are you mad? If he knew our plans he'd stick Easter eggs on Liberty Hall and invite the English to name the date of the rising!
There's only one way to deal with this fellah - put the fear of god in him!
PEARSE: I have it, on good account, he doesn't believe in god.
MACDERMOTT: Then maybe it's time he saw the light.
(Shouts in Gaelic to someone outside the room.)
"Scaoil amach an bastùn" (Schqeel amock ah bastoon = Send the bastard in!)
(To Pearse, quietly)
I'm warning you - if you say one word about Easter...
(Connolly is thrown into the room blindfolded and gagged. He lays on the floor - unable to rise. MacDermott removes his walking stick from the table, arises and, with just a little difficulty, walks over to Connolly. Connolly manages to get to his knees. He hears MacDermott coming and listens intently. MacDermott examines him.)
MACDERMOTT: By god, he's a lot easier to take when you can't hear him!
PEARSE: This is not Christian.
MACDERMOTT: On the contrary! Every messiah needs his night in Gethsemane.
(He prods Connolly with his walking stick.)
Amn't I right, Jesus?
PEARSE: Levity about our Savior is obnoxious at the best of times, but, at this present moment, it's outrageous!
MACDERMOTT: If you'd feel more comfortable back teaching catechism to your schoolboys - there's the door! Lock it on the way out.
PEARSE: There are certain standards....
MACDERMOTT: Yeah, for novices!
(He prods Connolly again with his walking stick, pushing him over then returns to the table. Pearse unties Connolly who wrestles with his blindfold. When he unties it he rushes at MacDermott.)
CONNOLLY: You bloody bastard! I knew your tip-tappin'!
(MacDermott picks up his revolver from the table and calmly points it at Connolly.)
MACDERMOTT: Nothing would give me greater pleasure.
What's keeping you, Seamus a mhic (vick)? Where's the hero of the barricades now?
CONNOLLY: I might have known it was you. Whenever there's skullduggery, I can always count on you bein' behind it.
MACDERMOTT: Day by day, I get more tired of being your guardian angel.
CONNOLLY: Then keep the hell out of my affairs.
MACDERMOTT: Gladly, except someone thinks you might come in handy down the line.
CONNOLLY: You tell Tom Clarke, I'm not his little pawn to be pushed around the streets of Dublin like the rest of yez.
MACDERMOTT: Maybe, when you get enough guts you'll tell him yourself.
PEARSE: For god's sake, can we not settle our differences? We do have common cause.
MACDERMOTT: With a crowd of gurriers running around like cowboys and indians.
CONNOLLY: At least, we're doin' somethin' - not sittin' on our arses pretendin' we're Finn McCool.
PEARSE: Stop it!
(He uncharacteristically raises his voice. They are both surprised by his power and authority.)
At this very moment, over 100,000 Irishmen are fighting England's battles overseas. And you two have the audacity to stand here and insult each other over personal matters.
MACDERMOTT: This madman thinks the world revolves around him!
PEARSE: I haven't finished!
CONNOLLY: And I haven't begun.
PEARSE: No, that's quite obvious, Mr. Connolly. But you will listen to me now. Ireland cannot afford to have your Citizen Army running amok on the streets.
CONNOLLY: Since when do you speak for Ireland?
PEARSE: (Pause, then quietly but deliberately) I have always spoken for her.
(Connolly is taken aback by Pearse's conviction and the audacity of his statement. MacDermott also pauses to digest this before resuming.)
MACDERMOTT: Jesus! If it's not one of you, it's the other... The English are only looking for an excuse to lock us all up.
CONNOLLY: Let them try!
PEARSE: Surely you realize that would be catastrophic.
CONNOLLY: But hasn't that always been your greatest ambition - to go to jail for Mother Ireland and be eulogized in song like Red Hugh O'Donnell or the Croppy Boy or some other figment of your overwrought imagination?
PEARSE: Your sarcasm ill becomes you.
CONNOLLY: That's not sarcasm, mister! It's the plain, honest to god, truth!
PEARSE: I regret that you choose to couch it in such personal terms.
CONNOLLY: I speak my mind.
PEARSE: And I mine! I have no more inclination to be incarcerated than the next person. What I do have is a burning desire to set my country free; to which end I would prefer to set my own timetable for battle.
CONNOLLY: Yeah, when Cuchullain rises from the grave.
PEARSE: I had hoped it would be at least a couple of aeons before that momentous event....
(MacDermott chuckles as Pearse's unexpected humor scores off Connolly)
Whatever the date, I fully expect that you'll be there beside me, Mr. Connolly, ready to lay down your life for Mother Ireland.
CONNOLLY: Easy up now, Padraig. First of all, I've only got one life, so I'm rather particular about where I choose to lay her down. Secondly, I work for the people and the concept of some Grand Dame Ireland paradin' around in green petticoats doesn't exactly set my knees atremblin'.
MACDERMOTT: How about her paradin' around with a Mauser in her fist?
PEARSE: Put that away!
MACDERMOTT: (Quiet but dangerous) If I want to be spoken to like a dog, I'll get an Englishman to do it. They're, at least, bred for the task!
PEARSE: I was merely trying to promote a rational discussion.
MACDERMOTT: Then "merely" try it with someone else.
(He holds up the revolver)
This is the only argument that Comrade Connolly understands.
PEARSE: I think Mr. Connolly understands a great deal more than you give him credit for.
(Connolly begins whistling.)
MACDERMOTT: He's making a gobshite of you! Listen to him.
CONNOLLY: Is that clock correct, Mr. Pearse?
PEARSE: It is precise - almost to the second.
CONNOLLY: Then you have 27 minutes - "almost to the second" - to get me to the nearest telegraph office.
MACDERMOTT: You're not leaving here until this thing is settled.
CONNOLLY: A pity, that! We'll all miss the fireworks, so.
MACDERMOTT: What are you on about now?
CONNOLLY: If I don't report to Liberty Hall by 3pm today, the lads are to assume that I've been lifted by the English, whereupon, they will launch an attack on Dublin Castle.
MACDERMOTT: Are you out of your skull?
CONNOLLY: Ah, Sean, Sean, "a mhic o mo chroï" (a vick oh moh kree)! Sure aren't all your dreams about to come true. The Irish Citizen Army will attack the seat of English power in Ireland and we'll all go up in one big symbolic bang!
PEARSE: And have our movement proscribed, our arms seized and all of us thrown in jail?
CONNOLLY: Sure, won't we have a grand auld time of it inside Kilmainham, recitin' poetry and speakin' "as gaeilge" (oss gwayilgeh). I tell you what? You can even make a speech from the dock like good old Bobby Emmet.
(Pause, as they size up the threat.)
MACDERMOTT: He's bluffing!
CONNOLLY: I have never been more serious in my life.
PEARSE: What do you expect to gain? Throwing your few hunting rifles at the might of the British Empire.
CONNOLLY: "Ireland must be washed clean by the blood of its martyrs..." I believe you made that quote, Mr. Pearse... Gentlemen, you have 24 minutes to decide.
CONNOLLY: (mocking and adopting a broad stage Irish accent) Padraig agus Sean (Pawdrig ogus Shawn).... ah sure now, whenever I do be hearin' the auld Gaeilge, don't I be knowin' that the big sincere speech isn't far behind.
MACDERMOTT: It's your real name not some English bastardization.
CONNOLLY: Spoken like a true son of Eireann (airin). Yet, neither James nor Seamus will put porridge on my table in the mornin'.
(Pause, as Pearse seeks to change tactics)
PEARSE: Our organization has watched, with sympathy and admiration, your efforts to forge the working people into a cohesive armed force.
MACDERMOTT: A crowd of tinkers'd put up a better show.
CONNOLLY: Your sympathy is duly noted, Mr. Pearse. However, I believe an t-Uasal MacDiarmada (on toosill Mackdeermahdah) reflects the broader opinion of your organization.
PEARSE: An t-Uasal MacDiarmada and I may differ on many matters. However, one thing we do agree on is the disaster of a premature insurrection.
CONNOLLY: Premature, my Aunt Fanny! England's been vulnerable for over a year and you Irish Volunteers have sat on your fat arses. Now, I may not be blessed with your school masterish skills, Mr. Pearse, but I know that as soon as they whip the Kaiser, the English will turn their attention over here and throw every rebel and radical behind bars!
PEARSE: There are plans of which you know nothing.
CONNOLLY: I don't give a damn about your plans! You have the weapons and the manpower. The only thing you lack is the backbone.
PEARSE: If you would put your army under the control of our central executive....
CONNOLLY: The workers of Dublin know what to expect from the likes of your bourgeois central executive.
MACDERMOTT: Bourgeois, mar yah! I haven't a shilling to me name.
CONNOLLY: It's your aspirations we're concerned with, MacDermott - not your bank balance!
PEARSE: There are those, amongst us, who have the utmost sympathy with the plight of the working classes.
CONNOLLY: Then where were "those amongst yez" two years ago when Boss Murphy threw us out on the streets and murdered us as we marched in peaceful protest?
PEARSE: We spoke out....
CONNOLLY: Like hell, you did! When the smoke cleared you might have mouthed a few platitudes but you weren't there when we needed you.
PEARSE: We learned, Jim, we mightn't be the quickest but we learned and we're still willing to learn.
CONNOLLY: Too bloody late. The workin' class knows who stood with it in its time of trial. And it knows what it has to do now.
MACDERMOTT: With it's two hundred peashooters!
CONNOLLY: (eyes burning) With its will to be free!
MACDERMOTT: You're mad!
CONNOLLY: Yeah, gloriously, uproariously mad as a bloody hatter!
MACDERMOTT: You haven't a chance!
CONNOLLY: Not a prayer! But we'll strike the fear of god into the whole rotten system and send it tumblin' down around your ears. And when the dust settles, we'll be the first out there rebuildin' a decent society for our children to grow up in.
MACDERMOTT: Yeah, you and Santy Claus! Now do you have any more words of wisdom for us?
CONNOLLY: Yes, by Jesus! You have 20 minutes left to make up your minds.
MACDERMOTT: Did it ever occur to you that you might have 19 minutes and 59 seconds left to say an act of contrition?
CONNOLLY: That's the difference between you and me, MacDermott - I don't need some mumbo jumbo muttered over my miserable life.
MACDERMOTT: A great atheist in the light of day! But you'll change your tune around midnight.
CONNOLLY: I doubt it. To quote Mister Pearse again - "The coward dies a million times, the free man dies but once."
MACDERMOTT: There's no talking to him!
(He turns away. Silence)
PEARSE: I watched your strike and, to my shame, I didn't join your pickets; still, my heart bled for the worker denied the right to a fair wage.
CONNOLLY: Mr. Pearse, I don't doubt that you are a well-meaning man - although you do keep the oddest of company.
(He looks pointedly at MacDermott)
We learned a bitter lesson during the lock out - when it comes to fightin' the bosses, we can expect no help from well-meaning dilettantes.
MACDERMOTT: What are you lookin' at me for? I can't even spell dilettante and I never employed a person in me life.
(Pause, as Connolly changes mood and focuses on MacDermott)
CONNOLLY: None of the rest of your bloody poets and dreamers surprised me...but you?
MACDERMOTT: What are you talking about now?
CONNOLLY: You know damn well what I'm talkin' about! You turned your back on us.
MACDERMOTT: It wasn't my call.
CONNOLLY: The lads looked up to you. They were sure you'd stand by them.
MACDERMOTT: The time wasn't right.
CONNOLLY: When in God's name is right? The women and the little children were starvin'.
MACDERMOTT: I had no choice, damn you! I was under orders.
CONNOLLY: Tom Clarke again, hah?
MACDERMOTT: (very quietly but intense) Shut up!
PEARSE: While you two carry on your private vendetta, young Irishmen are dying in Flanders.
CONNOLLY: I didn't send them!
PEARSE: Nor did I! But at the very least, they could be dying for Ireland.
CONNOLLY: Live - die! Nothin's goin' to change in this country until the worker controls the means of production and stops bein' the slave of the capitalist.
MACDERMOTT: You should borrow a new book. Mr. Marx must be wondering what happened to the last one.
CONNOLLY: All I know is that tonight you two will go home to your nice houses and your big dinners while my people starve in the worst slums in Europe.
PEARSE: You can rest assured that your views will be taken into account - no matter how alien they may be to some.
MACDERMOTT: Alien! The foot and mouth disease is more popular.
CONNOLLY: Oh come now, Sean, Jesus wasn't very fashionable at first and now look at the cut of him.
MACDERMOTT: If you've a mind to increasing the size of your pathetic little army, I wouldn't use that analogy outside the Dublin slums.
CONNOLLY: What the hell do you know about the Dublin slums, except to hold your sanctimonious snot nose every time you pass by?
MACDERMOTT: I've lived as tough a life as you, Connolly, so I don't need to hear your standard proletariat humbug! Besides, I know what the Irish people want - and it's not godless Marxism!
PEARSE: With freedom will come change, Sean, we have to respect all opinions.
MACDERMOTT: This boyo wants to take the land from the people and give it over to some communist state. Do you call that freedom?
PEARSE: God will look out for us.
MACDERMOTT: Yeah, he's been doing one hell of a job of it this last 700 years?
PEARSE: We've had our crosses to bear, but He's never deserted us and He never will.
MACDERMOTT: Never deserted you, Pearse!
(Pause as Pearse comprehends that MacDermott is referring to his polio.)
PEARSE: He has his reasons for everything.
MACDERMOTT: (bitterly) Yeah... I'll take care not to bother Him with any trifling questions.
CONNOLLY: You know I used to despise the both of you - now, I've only pity for you.
MACDERMOTT: I don't need you or your bloody pity!
CONNOLLY: So, what are you keepin' me here for?
MACDERMOTT: You'd be gone a long time if I had my way.
CONNOLLY: Look at the two of you, drownin' in your mad dreams! When was the last time either of you felt the good life of the earth pulsin' around you? Held a woman's breast in your hand or watched her grow big with your child?
(MacDermott turns away, troubled by the question. Silence.)
PEARSE: I've never been blessed with children but I do have my school and my boys.
CONNOLLY: Oh, don't for a minute think that that hasn't been commented on.
PEARSE: (very quietly) Are you suggesting something, Mr. Connolly?
CONNOLLY: Mr. Pearse, I'm tired and I apologize.
MACDERMOTT: You're a fine one to be talkin' - the pride of the proletariat playin' footsie with a Countess.
CONNOLLY: Someday, I'll put that smirk on the other side of your face.
MACDERMOTT: (putting down the gun) What about right now.
CONNOLLY: I don't fight with cripples.
(Pause. MacDermott is shattered by Connolly's remark)
PEARSE: Our enemies will gladly tear us apart. Do we have to stoop to their level?
CONNOLLY: I don't give a fiddler's if you both lie down with sheep. All I'm concerned is that you help set this country free of foreign oppression.
PEARSE: And our only concern is that you act under one unified chain of command.
CONNOLLY: I see more actin' goin' on in the Abbey Theatre. You have 14 minutes left, gentlemen. I hope you use them well.
(He disengages himself from Pearse and MacDermott and moves side stage. They speak in lower tones but no less intensely.)
PEARSE: He's an obstinate man.
MACDERMOTT: That's the understatement of the year.
PEARSE: By god, but we could use a man like that.
MACDERMOTT: Yeah, the next time we need a bull in a china shop.
PEARSE: Does he not inspire you at all?
MACDERMOTT: Inspire me? He frightens the shite out of me.
PEARSE: Oh, come now....
MACDERMOTT: I look at him and I see a part of myself looking back - the part I'm least fond of.
PEARSE: Killing him won't resolve that, Sean.
MACDERMOTT: He's like a perverse twin to me! When we share the same platform, I don't hear a word of any other speaker, my thoughts already locked in conflict with his. Two points of view worlds apart despite what we have in common. We were always equals - watching, waiting, probing for the hidden weakness, hurtling headlong towards this very moment. And now look at him, the blush of health glowing through his very skin. Well, he may outlive me but, by Christ, he won't stop what I've set in motion.
PEARSE: Perhaps, Mister Clarke was right. You're judgment is not... what it might be around him.
MACDERMOTT: (Surprised by this statement) Tom Clarke said that?
PEARSE: He meant no harm, Sean. He holds you in the highest regard... as do we all
MACDERMOTT: Tom Clarke is old - he's waited 50 years for this. And I'm... (Self-disgust) Jesus Christ, look at me!
(He gathers himself)
Listen, I need a moment alone with him.
(Silence as Pearse weighs his options.)
PEARSE: To what end?
MACDERMOTT: Oh I'd just like to see if he's read any good books lately.
PEARSE: This is hardly the time for a discussion of literature.
MACDERMOTT: Pearse... is this all an auld act or are you as half-baked as they say you are?
PEARSE: Half-baked, Mister MacDermott?
MACDERMOTT: You know something? The day after we declare an Irish republic, you and me are going to have a nice long talk, okay?
PEARSE: Was there a particular subject you had in mind?
MACDERMOTT: Oh, women, drinking, the usual...
PEARSE: I have little time for such pursuits.
MACDERMOTT: No, I bet you don't. By Christ, Pearse, I've met many's the odd one but you're the cleanest slate I've ever come across... In the meantime, this fellow is a walking time bomb. We have to get a handle on him!
PEARSE: And if that doesn't work?
MACDERMOTT: Then may God have mercy on the both of us!
(Pearse consider his request.)
PEARSE: Excuse me, Mr. Connolly, I've a pressing matter to attend to.
CONNOLLY: Ah, they say the kidneys are the first to weaken in times of stress.
PEARSE: Yes... quite...
(Pearse exits. There is a pained silence between Connolly & MacDermott)
MACDERMOTT: Do you smoke, Jim?
MACDERMOTT: I had chucked it in but took it up again in prison...
MACDERMOTT: There wasn't much else to do.
CONNOLLY: No, there wasn't.
MACDERMOTT: Were you in for long?
CONNOLLY: Long enough.
MACDERMOTT: It's a hard station.
CONNOLLY: It was hard on the family.
MACDERMOTT: I know what you mean.
CONNOLLY: You don't have a family.
MACDERMOTT: No... I never had the time. You know what it's like...
CONNOLLY: I made the time.
MACDERMOTT: I thought of it often enough... then... it didn't seem right.
(He makes the briefest of silent references to his polio)
CONNOLLY: You were always the belle of the ball at the ceili's - women all over you - young, good lookin' ones...
MACDERMOTT: The ladies of the Gaelic League have a taste for martyrs - especially living ones.
CONNOLLY: You could be worse.
MACDERMOTT: Fuck you, Connolly! What do you know about it?
(Silence, as MacDermott gathers himself)
I'm sorry... I don't always mean what I say.
CONNOLLY: On the contrary, it's the one thing I always admired about you.
MACDERMOTT: I never noticed you paying much pass.
CONNOLLY: You'd be hard to ignore, the way you throw your weight around... but, at least, you know what you're doin' - which is more than I can say for the others.
MACDERMOTT: Listen, Jim, we're both practical men. The others can dream we do the work.
CONNOLLY: I dream too.
MACDERMOTT: And I don't? What do you think kept me going these past 10 years? Traipsing around the country, sidling up to men in pubs and reading rooms, listening for the dropped word here, the hint there, that one of them - just one might have what it takes. Not much of a life to share with one of those good looking young ladies, is it? But I persevered and now I have my people in every village and towns land in Ireland, just waiting for my signal to rise. And I tell you one thing - no one is going to stop me now.
CONNOLLY: Unless we beat you to it.
MACDERMOTT: (fingering his gun) Yeah, there's always that. But I can guarantee you one thing, Connolly - you won't be a part of it.
CONNOLLY: We're goin' with or without you. Our women and children are not sufferin' through another generation of this.
MACDERMOTT: How much do you know about our organization?
CONNOLLY: You have twelve thousand men and a couple of thousand rifles.
MACDERMOTT: I'm talking about the Irish Republican Brotherhood not them leadarsed Volunteers.
CONNOLLY: I agree with the Catholic Church on one matter only - the danger of Irish secret societies.
MACDERMOTT: I'm sure Holy Mother Church is just thrilled with your approval!
CONNOLLY: At 1east, she knows where she stands with us.
MACDERMOTT: The Catholic Church doesn't give a goddamn about any of us as long as she has the English to do her dirty work for her. But one day when they're gone it will be a horse of a different color.... Listen to me, if I were to tell you that we control the Volunteers, what would you say?
CONNOLLY: I'd say - prove it!
MACDERMOTT: We have a majority on the Executive Council.
CONNOLLY: Does MacNeill know this?
MACDERMOTT: MacNeill doesn't know his arse from his elbow?
CONNOLLY: And Pearse?
MACDERMOTT: He's just a figurehead.
CONNOLLY: I wouldn't underestimate him.
MACDERMOTT: He's living in a dream world.
CONNOLLY: They may be dreams to you - they're not dreams to him
MACDERMOTT: Tom Clarke runs him. He does our bidding.
CONNOLLY: For now.
MACDERMOTT: For as long as he's useful... Besides, we might need a stately looking president someday.
CONNOLLY: Take care the tail doesn't start wagging the dog.
MACDERMOTT: I don't need your advice, Connolly. We didn't get into this business today or yesterday.
CONNOLLY: So you're the power? You and old man Clarke?
MACDERMOTT: (disdainfully) I should have thought that was obvious.
CONNOLLY: The gunmen!
MACDERMOTT: The practical men! Just like yourself.
CONNOLLY: Only one difference - I don't shoot men in the back of the head down dark lanes.
MACDERMOTT: No, you crack their skulls open and call them scabs from the safety of your union lines! Don't get sanctimonious with me, Connolly. Neither of us is exactly an innocent... Listen, if I were to ask you to trust me?
CONNOLLY: (laughing) Do you think I came down in the last shower?
MACDERMOTT: Don't laugh at me... Don't you ever fucking laugh at me...
(The chilling tone of his voice stops Connolly dead.)
There are things afoot about which you have no knowledge...
CONNOLLY: Names? Dates? Places? I've had enough of your pipe dreams.
MACDERMOTT: I can't talk right now!
CONNOLLY: And I can't hold back my men. Our children live in tenements not fit for the rats that bite them and you ask me to trust you...What, in Christ's name, have you ever done to deserve my trust?
MACDERMOTT: Save the sermons for your illiterate union members! We can do sweet damn all about your tenements until we get the English off our backs!
CONNOLLY: And then what? Paint our post boxes green and beseech the Virgin Mary to douse us all in holy water? Then hand the whole kit and caboodle over to the Bishops, so they can belt us over the head with their croziers anytime we step out of line.
MACDERMOTT: It won't be like that, I promise you.
CONNOLLY: Look at the state of you, MacDermott! What make you think you're going to be around to guarantee anything? Names, dates, places! Otherwise, no deal!
MACDERMOTT: I should have put a bullet in you years ago.
CONNOLLY: Why didn't you?
MACDERMOTT: Because... once upon a time, I let my heart rule my head.
CONNOLLY: You made a big mistake. Your type and mine will always be at odds in Ireland.
(They freeze into tableaux. Pearse observes them.)
PEARSE: Look at them! So sure of themselves, the very words dance off their lips, while I, am paralyzed by a reserve so deep, everything I say is analyzed and edited until the very life's essence is drained from it.
When I solicit a friendship I stumble like some awkward schoolboy until my very motives are suspect. If I look in their eyes, I stare too long, if I turn away I am distant and cold; should I sympathize, I am seen to criticize; when meekness is called for, I am overbearingly bold.
And so, I, the butt of their jokes, watch from afar, measure their strengths, take note of their weaknesses, while they settle their scores like men, at ease with each other despite their differences.
And yet, how pathetic they both are. One pines for a freedom that he won't live to enjoy, the other longs for a revolution that will sweep him away in its flood.
The fools! Trapped inside dreams of their own making. And so, battle on, my two comrades! For neither of you will hinder my endgame. And if pawns must be swept from the board... then, so be it.
(Connolly and MacDermott snap out of tableaux. Connolly shouts)
CONNOLLY: Pearse! Get back in here. Your damned bladder must be empty by now.
PEARSE: Well, Sean, a fruitful discussion, one hopes?
MACDERMOTT: Oh yeah, sour apples had nothing on it!
PEARSE: I see. And you, Mr. Connolly, do you have anything to add?
CONNOLLY: You have five minutes to settle this matter.
(Then studying Pearse)
You know, MacDermott, he does cut one hell of a refined figure - stately, one might add.
PEARSE: I fail to see how that remark has any relevance. Now, how do you suggest we proceed?
MACDERMOTT: There's no proceeding. He's composing his obituary.
CONNOLLY: If you'll excuse me, gentlemen, I have a revolution to attend to.
(Connolly walks towards the door. MacDermott points his revolver at him. Connolly stops dead in his tracks.)
PEARSE: Stop this madness! Have you no thought for the youth of Ireland spilling its blood for the British Empire? While at home we grow more anglified by the hour...
CONNOLLY: Will you listen to you, Pearse - like some Gaelic Messiah come to lead us all to a land of spuds and cabbage and red faced garsoons playin' hurlin' in Cuchulainn skirts.
PEARSE: There's no need for a messiah! This time the people themselves will be their own redeemer - scourged, crowned with thorns, agonizing and dying, to rise again immortal and impassible.
CONNOLLY: Hadn't you better leave someone alive to eat the spuds and cabbage?
PEARSE: Mister Connolly, I what I am and - take me or leave me. But, be perfectly clear on one point - I will not allow this opportunity to pass because of your petty faction fighting. We are going to strike a mortal blow against the enemy....
CONNOLLY: Yeah, sometime around the turn of the century!
PEARSE: No, now!
CONNOLLY: When, man, when?
MACDERMOTT: Shut up! He's milking you!
PEARSE: No one will use me! There must be a resurrection and if that takes blood...
CONNOLLY: The same old story! Men like you sit at home on your fat arses and send out the youth to get slaughtered.
PEARSE: (quietly) No, Mr. Connolly, it's not the youth I'm asking for a sacrifice. I'm demanding it of you and Sean and myself.
CONNOLLY: I've got a wife and a family at home waitin' for me. I want to live for Ireland - not die for it. Your time is up. Good day, gentlemen.
(He walks to the door. MacDermott kicks back his chair and aims the gun at him.)
MACDERMOTT: One more step and I'll blow you to kingdom come.
(Connolly keeps walking)
CONNOLLY: My bollocks, you will!
(MacDermott cocks the trigger. Connolly walks on.)
PEARSE: No, stop, Sean. We move on Easter Monday!
CONNOLLY: (stops) What?
MACDERMOTT: Shut up.
PEARSE: We take the center of Dublin and hold out for reinforcements from the south.
MACDERMOTT: You bloody fool!
(He points the gun at Pearse)
PEARSE: A German landing in the south. A division of Western Front regulars and 20 thousand rifles for our lads!
MACDERMOTT: I warned them about you!
PEARSE: You would have killed him.
MACDERMOTT: I said you'd crack and for what - him?
PEARSE: I'll take full responsibility for his actions.
MACDERMOTT: Like hell you will! This bastard doesn't leave here alive.
(He points the gun at Connolly with the intention of shooting. Connolly waits unflinching.)
PEARSE: (quietly) Then kill him and be done with it.
(It appears as if he will but MacDermott falters and finally lowers the gun.)
MACDERMOTT: (to Pearse) For 300 years every rising betrayed by our own. This was to be the exception. Only a handful of trusted people - and you!
CONNOLLY: Give me 5000 rifles and I'll bring out the whole of working class Dublin!
MACDERMOTT: I'll give you a rifle between the fucking eyes if a word of this leaks out.
CONNOLLY: I can get our railway unions to move the arms up from the country.
PEARSE: I knew it, Sean. Listen, he already has good ideas.
(MacDermott is becoming ill. He sways slightly. Pearse reaches out to help him.)
PEARSE: You look ill. Can I help you?
MACDERMOTT: I don't need your help!
CONNOLLY: The Germans should launch a pincer movement around Dublin.
PEARSE: Poor Sean...
MACDERMOTT: Poor fucking Sean? Is that what it's come to? Once it was Sean MacDermott, the dashing dancer, breaking the hearts of all the colleens...
PEARSE: For god's sake, sit down. Let me get you some water.
MACDERMOTT: Now it's Sean the fucking cripple!
(He throws his cane at the wall. He tries to walk without it but pitches forward on his face. Pearse rushes over to help but he screams angrily.
MACDERMOTT: Get away from me!
(He begins to rise, inch by inch. Pearse wishes to help but Connolly signals him to stay away. Though MacDermott can't see him Connolly is silently urging him up. Eventually, MacDermott gets to his feet and steadies himself. Connolly wipes the concern from his face before MacDermott turns to face him.)
CONNOLLY: Well, now that we've done with the histrionics, perhaps we can get down to business.
MACDERMOTT: I'll be watching you every second.
CONNOLLY: You're been doin' that for years, comrade.
MACDERMOTT: One false move - just one!
CONNOLLY: Save your threats for the English. We've less than 3 months to organize.
PEARSE: By the Summer we'll have thrown them into the sea and God will have granted us a republic.
CONNOLLY: I'll put my faith in the Germans. The Almighty hasn't been too helpful of late. Right, MacDermott?
(MacDermott does not answer)
Come now, Sean, what will be your first job as Minister for Justice in our glorious new Ireland?
MACDERMOTT: Throw you, the fuck, in jail!
CONNOLLY: Just about what I thought! Still, it'll be devastatingly lonely in there without you - ah sure, I suppose the best of friends must part.
PEARSE: We'll all have an equal say in the shaping of our new republic.
CONNOLLY: I'll hold you to that, Pearse. 'Cause, this time, we're settlin' for nothin' short of a people's republic with equal rights for men and women and a whole rake of demands for the working-class.
PEARSE: With God at our helm, success is assured.
MACDERMOTT: Marx in a kilt with a dozen angels piping the Internationale.
CONNOLLY: I can't vouch for the angels. But we're not goin' to stop 'til we kick the arse of every last slavemaster in Europe.
PEARSE: The Irish people will flock to our banner...We'll be the saviors of our race.
MACDERMOTT: I wouldn't count on it! I see nothing ahead but blood and sacrifice.
CONNOLLY: Good old Sean, cheerful to the end... Well, gentlemen, It's been a most invigorating afternoon. But now I must bid you good day - there's organizin' to be done!
(He heads for the door but then turns around and walks back to MacDermott.)
CONNOLLY: We've had our differences, comrade, and no doubt we'll have more. But when I have the British Army in front of me, there's no man I'd sooner have at my back.
(He holds out his hand. MacDermott does not take it.)
MACDERMOTT: There'll come a day when we'll settle matters.
CONNOLLY: When Ireland is free.
MACDERMOTT: (After a few moments, he takes Connolly's hand.) Until then...
(Lights go down and the praying tape comes up slowly. Spotlight on Connolly tied to his chair.)
CONNOLLY: Go on Pearse! Good man, MacDermott! Pray on yez two bastards! We showed them, didn't we! 6 days of rebellion and not a German to help!
(He is quiet for a moment and starts to slumber. A white spotlight illuminates Pearse and MacDermott, about to be executed. Pearse is on his knees praying. MacDermott effects indifference and stares straight ahead. MacDermott puts his hand on Pearse's shoulder.)
MACDERMOTT: C'mon, Pat. It's time.
(Pearse finishes his silent prayer and then blesses himself.)
PEARSE: Tonight, we'll be with Jesus in Paradise.
MACDERMOTT: I'd sooner run into a battalion of Germans.
PEARSE: All in it's own time.
(Connolly wakes and sees them.)
(The light suddenly goes out on Pearse and MacDermott as they are shot.)
(Lights up on Connolly.)
CONNOLLY: Can't you at least let me stand up!
(He makes one last effort to untie himself, then gathers himself and stares out defiantly as he is about to be shot.)
The song, James Connolly, begins. The actors take their bows as the song continues.)