Short Dramas and Plays
THE MADNESS OF PHINEAS GALEN (Act II Scene 1a)
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(Setting: Chambers for Deliberation of the Academia. Bookshelves lined with books, a heavy central table with eight chairs around it.)
[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]
(Enter JUSTICE first, followed by ALL PRESIDING ACADEMIA)
Psychology: In all my years in the Court of Trials--
Education: --What’s the meaning of this, Justice?
Physiology: --What kind of a stunt are you trying to pull here?
Justice: I have my reasons.
Philosophy: Or, more directly, what kind of a stunt has the Subject pulled
Justice: I can no longer reside over these proceedings, as I have become prejudiced toward the subject
Theology: Prejudiced? In what way? For or against?
Justice: I cannot reveal the nature of my prejudice, as it may jeopardize or endanger your impartiality as well.
Education: Doesn’t just saying that you are prejudiced toward the Subject automatically endanger our impartiality?
Philosophy: Perhaps not if she doesn’t reveal in what way, then we cannot be swayed one way or the other.
Education: Still. Since her neutrality has been violated—
Philosophy: We act and decide as individuals, not a body. We can be as objective about this disturbance as we can be about anything else that we choose to ignore as non-data in this inquiry.
Sociology: Apparently Justice can’t ignore what she heard as non-data, nor can she enter it as data for the equation.
Psychology: I wonder what kind of game he’s playing at? Why Justice?
Sociology: Well, if he’s stalling for time, he’s done the right trick. Any one of us could be replaced on the bench without much interference. But Justice here, well, she runs procedure, and procedure is key to these Investigations.
Education: What do you mean?
Sociology: He’s right. These inquiries are politically charged, replacing one of us is of hardly any consequence, we are just one of a majority. But Justice is key, as she dictates what is and isn’t allowed to be entered as evidence and hard data. It was a shrewd move.
Theology: Politically charged? What are you getting at?
Psychology: Don’t play innocent with us, Theology. You know these proceedings are just as much political or more, than just investigating the sudden outburst and unorthodox rantings of a minor Scholastic Instructor. Is there anyone in this room who hasn’t received some kind of pressure from someone in authority to make sure this investigation comes to a preordained conclusion?
Education: Now, that’s putting it a bit harsh—
Psychology: Nevertheless, does it make it any less true?
Philosophy: I was hoping this “preordained conclusion” and my own would be one in the same in the end.
Sociology: That’s wishful thinking.
Physiology: Have they all come from the same source?
Education: I don’t think any of us are at liberty to speak on the matter, so let’s just drop this line of thought right now.
Theology: But to what end could he possibly be playing at if this indeed was a premeditated maneuver?
Psychology: Justice, was it some kind of mind game or influence he exerted?
Sociology: Did he blackmail you or threaten you in any way?
Justice: I cannot reveal the nature of my prejudice, as it may jeopardize or endanger your impartiality as well. But I can say that I am acting without coercion or threat from the Subject. Of that, I can state.
Physiology: Well, this is a fine mess.
Philosophy: An interesting conundrum, though.
Psychology: Oh, stop it. This is serious.
Philosophy: I am serious. We were pressing the subject for full disclosure and cajoling him for his uncooperation. He finally breaks down and reveals what we want to hear to Justice, and she has to remove herself form the case. Even if we do get a replacement, how are we to proceed with our Inquiry?
Education: That’s the job of the Inquirer. It is not our place to direct the Inquiry, merely to make a decision upon the data given.
Physiology: How long do you think it will take to get a Justice replacement?
Justice: I’ve already reported on the situation thus far. I’ve been told we should get a new Academia of Justice by tomorrow.
Theology: Really? That soon?
Physiology: I shudder to think who really is greasing the wheels of this engine.
Philosophy: Of course there will have to be Orientation, too. That will take some time.
Sociology: Though I don’t doubt all will be done as expeditiously as possible to get things moving along.
Education: It is possible that the new Justice will rule that we’ve all been prejudiced just by this disruption and dismiss us all.
Sociology: Hardly likely.
Education: What makes you so sure?
Sociology: Think about it. Whatever new Justice that is appointed will have the same, if not more pressure from the Unknown force to act as expeditiously as possible. Dismissing us would be a disaster to that end.
Psychology: Justice, what did he say to you?
Justice : I told you already! Anything I say from this point on might tend to prejudice your objectivity. Technically, I shouldn’t even be in the same room with you anymore to preserve your objectivity.
Philosophy: She’s right. Any Academic who has exempted her or himself from an inquiry must be sequestered and debriefed outside of our witness. Our presence here only threatens our own neutrality.
Theology: And considering these influential parties who are interested in seeing this “forgone conclusion” go without a hitch, that’s technicality none of us can afford.
Physiology: Well, that’s it then. We must leave at once.
Psychology: Agreed. The opportunity for an appeal based upon a tainted decision are too great.
Theology: I’m sorry, Kate.
Justice: Go, go, all of you. I’ve messed this up as it is, don’t jeopardize what we’ve investigated this far for the sake of sentiment. Go. I’ll be all right.
(All exit but THEOLOGY and JUSTICE)
Theology: Kate, you did what you thought was right.
Justice: I know. Robert, can you send me someone from your discipline? I have some… I need some answers—
Theology: Of course. I know just the person.
Theology: When this is all over, if you can talk about it, I’d be interested—
Justice: I promise, you’ll be one of the first to hear. Thanks again.
Theology: Good luck, Kate
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