Short Dramas and Plays
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act I Scene 4a)
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act I Scene 4a)
(Setting: Court of Trials. There are seven Adjudicators; each dressed in what might be described as ceremonial lab coats. They sit on a high bench as a judge might. There is a central podium where PHINEAS normally stands, flanked by two others, although each are some distance away from one another. These are for the INQUIRER and the ADVOCATE. The room is quite white and brightly lit.)
[Chief Academic of Justice Alder, Academic of Philosophy Baldwin, Academic of Theology Carson, Academic of Sociology Davis, Academic of Education Edwin, Academic of Psychology Ferris, Academic of Physiology Graham presiding.]
Justice: Advocate, you’ve had your short interval, may we, with your indulgence, continue with these proceedings?
Advocate: Apologies, Justice. Some matter I had needs to clear with the Subject in order to continue with the Inquiry. It was in the best interest of the Inquiry, I assure you.
Justice: We will decide what is in the best interest of the Inquiry, Advocate. I’ll not have the collective energies of all these Academics wasted by some meddling of the Subject’s Advocate. Both you and the Inquirer are in the proverbial doghouse, Advocate.
(Enter PHINEAS escorted by OFFICER. PHINEAS stops to hand ADVOCATE the document unsigned, ADVOCATE quickly reviews it, looks annoyed at PHINEAS. PHINEAS is then escorted to his position center)
Justice: Advocate! Do I have your attention? Is that document something to be examined by the Court?
Advocate: (flatly) No, sir, it is not.
Justice: Then Inquirer proceed without any more delay.
Inquirer: Yes, sir. For my next line of inquiry, I shall bring forward the students who were witness to the accounts in question that we may learn of them more directly of events in question.
Phineas: You can’t drag them into this! They’ll never reach any kind of academic status with the stigma of these proceedings on them.
Inquirer: I can’t do this? I? Subject, you were the one who put their careers in jeopardy when you had your outburst – of which their Observations you have made so clear that you are not in dispute –
Phineas: You’re doing this just to punish me through them –
Justice: And I will punish the both of you right now if all remarks are not directed to the Court! Have I made my self clear?
Phineas: Yes, sir.
Inquirer: Apologies, sir.
Justice: This Court has tired of apologies. You shall continue your expedient Inquiry without further incident upon pain of indictment yourself. And Subject! This Court has tired of you all together, do not antagonize it again! Now, on with the Inquiry.
Inquirer: Yes, sir. For this string of inquiry, I present Norman Randall.
Officer: The Court of Trials calls Norman Randall to answer to its Inquirer.
(Enter Norman Randall, he takes a seat )
Inquiry: This Observer was present on the morning in question, Your Academics, when the Subject is alleged to have made remarks that bear investigation. In order to save time, Mr. Randall’s identity has been confirmed through his Observations when they were submitted to the Court earlier in these proceedings, and we are satisfied with his identity at this later time. For the record, Mr. Randall, state your full name upon the Pledge of Truth.
Officer: Complete this pledge after me. “I shall submit statements, observations and opinions which are as near to the Truth as I understand it, so pledge I –“
Randall: “I shall submit statements, observations and opinions which are as near to the Truth as I understand it, so pledge I, Norman Michael Randall.
Officer: The Court of Truth receives Norman Michael Randall into its Inquiry.
Inquirer: Mr. Randall, we have taken a pledge of Observation from you about the morning in question, we would like to ask for clarification and furtherance of those Observations. Agreeable?
Inquirer: For the benefit of the Academics assembled here, could you state your relationship to the Subject?
Randall: I am a third year advanced student of Professor Galen’s in Theory of Theology.
Justice: In the future, you will refer to Mr. Galen as The Subject, Mr. Randall.
Randall: Oh, sorry, Academia.
Justice: Proceed, Inquirer.
Inquirer: Allow me to read a passage from your verbal transcript taken on site, “At first I thought I knew what he was doing, then I started to become confused.” Could you clarify this statement, Mr. Randall?
Randall: We were scheduled to discuss the reading assignment that day in preparation for our next paper that we were preparing. But he started out by describing this, this experience that he had the night previous.
Inquirer: Before going into details about this description of the previous night’s experience, can you explain what you mean by “you thought you knew what he was doing”?
Randall: Well, without going into detail, I thought he was testing us.
Inquirer: Testing you?
Randall: We were studying the theory of theology, how different unenlightened cultures in different stages of development would create and become comfortable with the concept and idea of a Higher Being to explain those things which were to them at the time unexplainable. That before the technology existed to provide crucial data combined with advanced learning and knowledge to allow for models of existence that –
Inquirer: Yes, fine, Mr. Randall, he was testing you?
Randall: Oh, yeah, well, I thought he was pretending to be someone who had some kind of unexplained phenomena occur and was attributing it to a god-being, and we were to ask and inquire in order to bring the subject out of his ignorance into an enlightened understanding.
Inquirer: You thought he was role-playing, then.
Randall: Yes. He had done so, previously, taking the Devil’s Advocate position and challenge us to bring enlightened thought to ignorant positions.
Inquirer: And at what time did you decide he was not role-playing, Mr. Randall?
Randall: He just kept on going on and on about it, I mean really into it, and at first I thought he had taken some performance art lessons because it was really believable, when he started going on about “Seeing things in a new way,” and “Finally understanding” and – oh, I’m not supposed to go into detail –
Inquirer: No, please, do go on. Please tell us what happened next.
Randall: Well, he kept on repeating, with this look of wonderment on his face, that it all made sense, now, and now he understood what Paul must have experienced –
Theology: Mr. Randall, that has meaning to me, but could you give some background for the rest of the Academics seated here.
Advocate: This Court does not recognize Mr. Randall as an academic of things Theological.
Justice: Well, it should at some time, Advocate. Mr. Randall is a third year advanced student in Theology with an impressive educational track. His word has validation here, I should say.
Phineas: (aside) That’s why you’re here, Norman. Don’t do it, kid, you don’t understand what’s at stake.
Theology: Please continue, Mr. Randall. I am satisfied with your qualifications.
Randall: Thank you, Academia. There was a man who was associated with a certain branch of religion who was actively persecuting a splinter sect; his name was Saul of Tarsus. On a journey to a neighboring settlement with intent to persecute the “heretics” found therein, tradition has it that he had such an encounter with a higher being. Chiefly due to this experience, he converted to the sect he was actively persecuting and became in essence its most zealous advocate.
Inquirer: And the Subject was likening his experience to that of this Saul of Tarsus?
Randall: Yes, he was.
Philosophy: Point of clarification. Your earlier observation stated that the Subject made references to one named Paul. The background information you gave referred to a “Saul of Tarsus”. So far your background is meaningless.
Randall: I meant to add before the Inquirer posed his question, Academia, that the effect of the experience was so radical upon this Saul changed his identity so radically that he changed his name to Paul.
Philosophy: I perceive, now. Thank you, Mr. Randall.
Inquirer: And did the Subject make any references to changing his name, Mr. Randall.
Randall: Not as such, but his demeanor was entirely different from his normal address to the class. He sat on his desk and waxed poetical about having the scales fall from his eyes, and now everything fell into place and made so much sense, and chastised himself for being such a fool as to seeing with closed eyes, and thinking in childish ways, and then remarking upon the irony of seeing through a child’s eyes, which confused me at that point.
Advocate: You have quite the memory, Mr. Randall. Are you quite sure you are paraphrasing the Subject correctly and not adding some interpretation of your own?
Randall: You forget that at this time I thought we were being challenged within this rhapsodic blathering of his, and so I took copious notes in preparation for refutation.
Phineas: (aside) Copious notes for your paper “My Observations on the Fall of an Instructor”, you mean.
Advocate: I forget nothing, Mr. Randall. It is my duty to “ask and inquire in a relentless pursuit of Truth”.
Phineas: (aside) Show the Academia your “compromise document” and make that boast, Devil’s Advocate.
Inquirer: Pardon the Advocate’s interruption, Mr. Randall, and continue with your discourse.
Randall: He began to wonder aloud to the class about how it must’ve been for Paul, having learned the prophetic writings and observed the rituals without understanding the full beauty of their purpose, and now, with this new revelation in his conversion, how at every turn he must’ve have seen hidden what had been staring him in the face the whole time.
Inquirer: What were these “hidden things” Mr. Randall?
Randall: Not so much a thing, but a person. A person he had vehemently denied and actively spent his days quelling his movement, which he saw as a direct attack upon his deeply held beliefs, but later, it turns out became the embodiment of his beliefs. Small wonder he turned from being the most ardent opponent to this movement, to becoming its most daring and dangerous advocate.
Inquirer: Dangerous, how, Mr. Randall?
Randall: The sect Paul had previously belonged to, when he was known as Saul, was comprised more of a localized culture, identified most commonly by birthright. Active recruitment beyond this elite was almost unheard of, as bringing outsiders into the religion, those not tied by birth, was suspect. There was a built in elect through which you made your communities, observed ceremonies, even married within, and these pockets of elite had a centralized territory, but there were also pockets of them scattered throughout the near Orient, Asia Minor, and the Mediterranean. This was Saul’s world.
Paul, on the other hand, was now armed with an aggressive mission which was to convert those within this elite sect, and also all other races, cultures and identifiable groups. Suddenly, everyone was fair game for the New Conversion, which included all citizens of Rome.
Inquirer: So, how was this dangerous, Mr. Randall?
Randall: Paul had a rich Jewish heritage well versed in the minutiae of every nuance of his ceremonies and laws. He was brought up in a Greek city, which exposed him to western philosophy and the Greek arts of oration, debate, and philosophical argumentation. He was also a Roman citizen, which gave him a rather unique status and position to move about the countryside under the protection of Rome, and in the end, when he was jailed for offenses connected with his missions, he exercised the right to appeal to Caesar, and brought the New Conversion to the heart of Rome itself.
Phineas: (aside) Out of the mouths of babes! Working through mysteries ways wonders to perform! I see it, now, the path of the Light!
Inquirer: So, along with waxing philosophical, the Subject was experiencing delusions of grandeur?
Advocate: While Mr. Randall has deftly shown us his knowledge in theological trivia, the court cannot indulge him as an expert in psychological profiling.
Justice: Academic Ferris?
Psychology: I concur with the Advocate.
Justice: Pursue a different line of investigation, Inquirer.
Inquirer: Yes, Academia.
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