A Series of Two Minute Comedy Sketches for short attention span theatre
A Two Minute Comedy
CAST: Colonel H. M. Riteus - Retired British hunter 60s Lilly Riteus - Pragmatic, Colonel’s wife 50s
Colonel Riteus’ trophy den. Big game hunter trophies, guns, skins,
etc. Front center is a large glass enclosed ant farm. There are two giant stereo speakers pointed at it. The
Colonel is peering through a magnifying glass. The image from the
magnifier is video projected on a screen hung above the stage. The
picture shows a complex ant colony with many tunnels and caverns and
thousands of ants hurriedly coming and going.
Lilly you must come and see this. It’s absolutely astonishing. In all
my years in the bush I have never seen anything like it. I swear
these are distinguishable symbols. They could hardly be anything else
- the linearity, the curves. Much more detail than yesterday.
Lilly: (entering with tea tray) Is it any wonder, with that awful music you play to them?
Colonel: It is not music. It’s the snuffling of the Australian anteater... the ants’ natural enemy.
Lilly: Well it sounds ridiculous. And it probably terrifies the poor things.
As it should. The best way to instill humility in a species is to
create a threat. When rescued from such a threat they will demonstrate
obedience, subservience and gratitude.
Lilly: H.R. do you really expect a colony of ants to show gratitude?
For protection from their most feared enemy? Absolutely. Look
darling… Look at this new formation. It was barely discernible
Lilly: But couldn’t it just be some kind of coincidence? That it just looks like symbols?
Colonel: See for yourself. There are three lines, two semi-circles and two perpendicular lines…
The video image focuses on the terrarium surface where moving lines of ants seem to form a group of lines and curves.
Lilly: (looking at the screen) They do appear to be sustaining a shape, don’t they?
Yesterday they were just beginning to form those two parallels on the
left. Today I looked and there were these two new semi-circles and
this perpendicular at the end. It’s extraordinary.
Lilly: (squinting through magnifier) It looks as if they were replacing themselves. Like a bucket brigade.
Yes. They usually do that to transport food. Highly disciplined, good
regimentation, superior logistics - all reasons I admire ant colonies.
But in all my years of hunting I have never once seen a display such as
Lilly: What in the world could it mean?
Colonel: That’s just it Lilly… It must mean something.
There is simply no way that these creatures have come to form these
symbols without it coming from some kind of intelligence or…
Lilly: Or genetic programming.
Yes. Precisely. Genetics would clearly be a reason for this kind of
behavior. But what genetics? And why would that be a part of their
Lilly: It’s as if they were trying to send us a message isn’t it?
Perhaps some kind of prayer or… Offering. Which means my training is
working. Can you imagine? Can you imagine the breakthrough this would
represent? A living example of insect intelligence? It would shock
the entire world.
Lilly: Look, they seem to be getting more active… Oh my, they are… They’re filling in more lines…
The video screen shows more movement in the symbols, as if being drawn by an insect filled pen.
(excited) I think I should get in touch with the Royal Academy Lil. I
think that Professor Olang should know about this. Do you realize… If
my ants are attempting to communicate with man for the first time…
Well, there could be a Nobel Prize at stake here!
Now don’t get too excited darling. Remember when you thought you’d
integrated that red species a couple years back. They killed the black
colonists and forced the survivors into slavery.
(tempered) Yes… Why I ever thought Polyergus Rufescens could be
anything but aggressive is beyond me. Took two years to recover from
Lilly: (looking through magnifier) Sweetheart, I think the semi-circles are becoming… circles.
Colonel: (looking) Astonishing. No question in my mind now. They are trying to tell us something.
Lilly: And the last perpendicular is joining together… Like an… Like an “L”
Colonel: Lil! You don’t think? You don’t think that these could be…
The video screen shows more movement. This time the symbols transform into clearly distinguishable alphabetic letters:
Lilly: (pause) H. R., are you seeing what I’m seeing?
Colonel: (staring) Is this some kind of a joke?? Who the hell has put this up?
Lilly: (bemused) They don’t seem afraid of your… antics, darling.
(sputtering anger) Fool??? If that is what…? (to the ants) Alright!
You want to have it off with me?? We’ll just show you who you’re
having it with around here, won’t we??
A loud CLAP of
THUNDER! Blackout. LIGHTNING flashes and LIGHTS slowly come up on the
Colonel wearing his pith helmet and fatigues. The terrarium is
shrouded in fog caused by blocks of dry ice bubbling all around it.
The Colonel punches a remote control and a strobe light pointed at the
ant farm flashes.
Colonel: (to ants) You thought
you were going to get away with that smart-alec display? Six legged
imbeciles!! What you forgot was that I am the power here!
He punches another button and more THUNDER EXPLODES from speakers surrounding the terrarium.
Colonel: Prepare to meet your maker renegades! I’m going to show you what Hell is really like!
He holds a shower hose over the ant farm and deluges it with water. More LIGHTNING, THUNDER and FOG.
Colonel: You seem to forget my ignorant little cretins… It is me who
controls your miserable little world! Only I can give you life, and
only I can take it away!!! Now, just who looks like the fool around
here??? Hmm?? Who looks like a fool???
LIGHTS slowly FADE as the Colonel disappears in LIGHTNING, THUNDER, CLOUDS and RAIN…