The Ghosts of Rowan Oak
(a musical)

Writing Sample: 
(click here for hard copy .pdf version download) 

Copy of entire play is available with consent of author and explicit arrangement.
Contact
michelerittenhouse@yahoo.com

ACT ONE, Company of Actors perform one of their rehearsed pieces for the next day's Faulkner Festival, THE HOUND.  After this rehearsal, the ghost, Sam comes on to offer them a chance to see the real Yoknapatawpha County, in Ghost-land:

Section of The Hound, not complete piece:

[Music: The Hound.  Guitar blues that is the foundation theme music for the entire piece.]
 
                        (During the course of the story, RACHAEL and ACTOR TWO (WOMAN) will stick near the DUMMY (dressed as one of the farmers) and KATE and ACTOR THREE (WOMAN) with ANTHONY (KILLER).  The performers act out the song story with stylized movements.  The rest of the cast,  become animated forest trees and barriers.  This is based on an extended cast.)
 
ROCKER ONE
Way off in the country lived two men. Their property lines joined deep down in the hollow where the woods were thick with kudzu, snakes and spirits.
 
ROCKER TWO
All their life they lived about a mile apart in one-room shacks that Jesus himself couldn't tell apart.
 
ROCKER ONE
They hated each other so bad and for so long a time…
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
That they couldn't remember why.
 
[Music: two identical strangers]
 
                                                            SINGER ONE
HE WAS BORN TO THE LIFE OF A FARMER
 
                                                            SINGER TWO
HE WAS BORN TO WORK HARD ALL HIS DAYS
 
 
                                                            SINGER ONE
HE WAS FILLED WITH HATE FOR HIS NEIGHBOR
 
                                                            SINGER TWO
HE HAD HATE FOR HIS LOOKS AND HIS WAYS
 
ROCKER TWO
That hate ran as deep as the ground they plowed.
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE
Year after back breaking year...
 
ROCKER TWO
Plowing, hoeing, weeding,...
 
ROCKER ONE
In the earth that was red and poor...
 
                                                            SINGER TWO
NO ONE KNEW HOW THE HATE GREW INSIDE HIM
 
                                                            SINGER ONE
NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE IN-CI-DENT WAS
 
                                                            SINGER TWO
IT WAS LONG IN THE MEM-RY OF OTHERS
 
                                                            SINGER ONE
IT IS LONG DID-N’T MAT-TER THE CAUSE
 
ROCKER TWO
If they had a mind to be friends,
 
ROCKER ONE
They might have worked together….
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
But they stood alone working….
 
ROCKER ONE
From sunup to sundown in the fields.
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
Then back in their shacks afore dark.
 
SINGER ONE
LOOK AT THESE POOR COUNTRY FARMERS
THEY’RE SO ALIKE IN THEIR WAYS
JUST ONE THING WAS DIF-FERENT BE-TWEEN THEM
AND THAT THING WAS THE HOUND AND HIS BAYS
 
ROCKER ONE
One had an old hound, just as thin and lonely as its master.
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
And that was enough.  That was enough for the hate to grow deeper.
 
(JOHN scratches a few fleas, licks his chops, and breathes in short pants, then goes back to sleep.)
 
[Music: hound theme]
 
SINGER ONE
POOR OLD HOUND WAS HALF STARVED LIKE HIS MASTER
THAT OLD HOUND COULD JUST BARELY SURVIVE
YET OLD HOUND LOVED THE LIFE HE WAS BORN TO
AND OLD HOUND LOVED HIS MASTER ALIVE
 
ROCKER ONE
One summer evening after a long day in the fields...
 
                        (KILLER mimes hoeing, sweating, glaring.)
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE (continued)
It came into the head of one man to follow the other home...
 
(KILLER puts the hoe down.  Creeps over to the stage right area.)
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
He crept over to a stand of pines trees and waited till he knew the other man was kneeling in front of his fire making his nightly fried cornbread.
 
[Music: two identical strangers reprise]
 
SINGER TWO
AS THE EVE OF THE MURDER COMES CREEPING
AND THE SHADOWS TURN SLOWLY TO NIGHT
 
                        (KILLER crosses to near the neighbor.) 
 
                                                            SINGER ONE
THE MAN SNEAKS TO THE HOUSE OF HIS NEIGHBOR
MAKING SURE THAT HE STAYS OUT OF SIGHT
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE
On the porch was a stack of kindling and naturally the stove wood went to his hand and just as naturally he....
 
ROCKER TWO
Hound heard him.
 
(HOUND raises head and growls.)
 
ROCKER ONE
But the man inside the shack called...
 
                                                            ANTHONY (KILLER)
                        (Husky voice)
Hush, dog
 
(HOUND stops growling and lays his head back down, but watches carefully.)
 
ROCKER ONE
                        (Whispering)
And just as naturally he walked into his neighbor's house.
 
SINGER ONE
OLD HOUND HEARS THE DANGER APPROACHING
OLD HOUND MOANS TO HIS MAS-TER IN-SIDE
BUT THE MASTER SAYS HUSH TO THE OLD DOG
AND THE FARMER DONE SNEAKS UP BE-HIND
 
[Music: murder sec.]
 
(KILLER mimes all the following action.)
 
SINGER TWO
HE SMASHES THE HEAD OF HIS NEIGHBOR
WITH A LOG THAT HE MANAGED TO HIDE
OLD HOUND COULDN’T DO NOTHING BOUT IT  
‘CAUSE HE’S TRAPPED ON THE PORCH OUTSIDE
 
ROCKER TWO
And just to make sure he was dead.
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE
He took the butcher knife from the hearth…
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
And drove it into the heart…
 
ROCKER ONE
Into the hearth of the old farmer's life.
 
SINGER ONE
THE KILLER HEARS GROANS FROM HIS VIC-TIM
 
                                                            SINGER TWO
GRABS A BIG KNIFE OVERHEAD
 
                                                            SINGER ONE
AND STABS THE HEART OF HIS NEIGHBOR
 
                                                            SINGER TWO
KNOWING ONCE AND FOR ALL HE IS DEAD
 
                                                             ROCKER ONE
Now after this terrible action…
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
He sits down in the chair of the man..
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE
And wonders what to do with the body…
 
                                                            ROCKER TWO
And where to put him down deep in the land.
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE
Where to put him down deep in the land.
 
                                                            ROCKER ONE/ROCKER TWO
Down deep in the land.
 
(KILLER sits in rocking chair and considers what to do next. HOUND starts pacing back and forth, periodically uttering an eerie sound, something between a growl and a whimper, but does not enter cabin.)
 
ANTHONY (KILLER)
I knowed I’d want to run away after I done this. But I cain't run. I got to finish it. I got to clean it up. Bury him deep.  Deep down in the land