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Six Moons in Bakarulaka

Six Moons in Bakarulaka

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or how modernity came to its end deep in the Amazon rainforest
or how modernity came to its end deep in the Amazon rainforest

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Published by: Art on Jul 16, 2011
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12/27/2012

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Inside a single room hut. On either side of the door is a desk with a laptop on it and a
chair in front. There is window above each desk, and then further from the door in each
direction a hammock. There are four travel trunks piled in William's half of the hut (stage
left), and one in Rachel's (stage right) half.

Rachel is sitting on the chair by her desk, her arms around her knees pulled to her chest,
slumped, looking overwhelmed. William is organizing file folders and typing on his
computer, organizing the same files in a database program.

Rachel:

Oh god. What am I doing here?

William:

Uh... Your dissertation research. Your Ph.D. Everything you've been
working toward for the last four years.

Rachel:

[Moaning...]
Uuuhh.

William:

Your future! Come on, Rach, it's natural to have some doubts when you
first arrive in the field. It's like that stuff from Rodriguez's fieldwork
seminar – culture shock, too much self awareness – you got the high grade
in that class.

Rachel:

[Sullen.]

1

Yeah…

William:

You're the princess of ethnographic field research, the first pre-ABD with
an article published in the Journal of Qualitative Anthropology...

Rachel:

Yeah. Thanks, Will.
[Feeling a little better.]
And you know, as I've told you before, I couldn't have done that without
you as an example of how to really buckle down with some hard core
dedication and focus. You taught me that by example.

William:

Well, you were a hard worker before that...

Rachel:

Yeah, but I didn't really understand the- you know, the focus, the- quest
for perfection kind of hard work until I saw you- particularly with the
Kaplan Prize competition-

William:

Yeah, I was really after that one...

Rachel:

I know. And I saw that. And at first it was almost scary, the way you were.
But then I realized that that kind of zeroing-in focus and dedication to the
perfect result, that is the way, that's what- part of what made you great in
the way that you were- or are, actually.

William:

Well, you really are great at what you do too.

Rachel:

Hm.

William:

I just wish- I mean you probably wouldn't feel so insecure and on your
own if you'd tried harder for the NSF qualitative research grant. Or the
Wenner-Gren.

Rachel:

Hm.

William:

Because they do fund the qualitative stuff sometimes.

Pause.

William:

But, yeah, they tend to demand a bit more rigor in the structuring of your-
or one's inferences.

Rachel:

[Slightly sarcastic.]
Yeah, thanks again Will.

2

William:

But I do sympathize. Relying on your parents' money is a scary way to
finance a dissertation project.

Rachel:

I did get some grants, Will.

William:

I know, I know – what is it, 150 dollars from the Presbyterian Womens
Lunch Club?

Rachel:

It was 800 dollars from the Society for Expressive Culture.

William:

Oh right.

Rachel:

And 250 from the Association of Feminist Religious Studies.

William:

Right, right. I stand corrected.

Rachel:

William, please don't revert to your jerky ways. I really can't take that
right now.

William:

[Honestly.]
I'm sorry.
[Squeezes next to Rachel cutely on chair and puts arms around her.]
You used to like when I was jerky.

Rachel:

Yeah, but that was our debating period – when conflict brought us
together,

William:

United in antagonism

Rachel:

- made us one. But we agreed before we got married to move beyond that,
agree to disagree and let each other have their perspective, and just move
on –

William:

You're right.
[Kissing her; she accepts the kiss and kisses back.]

Rachel:

[Still a little whiny.]
You agreed.

William:

I know. But you know I would have agreed to anything to get you to
marry me!

Rachel:

Come on...

William:

I'm just teasing. And anyway you have to admit we've been good.

3

Rachel:

That's true. We have been good. But it's only been three months. And now
is when we really need to come together and look out for each other,

William:

Right.

Rachel:

support each other in getting our bearings here

William:

Yeah.

Rachel:

getting our projects going and finished.

William:

Wel, that's what I'm doing!
[Gets back up and starts working at his equipment.]

Rachel:

Yeah, but not just for yourself, I'm here too.
[Gets up, goes to her trunk.]

William:

And you know I'm willing to help any way I can. But, you know, since I
don't really get what you're doing, I don't know how much help I can be in
that sense.

Rachel:

[Changing into nightshirt.]
Just be supportive, Will. And that includes- And you know what I'm
doing. I've talked about my project for years. You read my proposal.

William:

I read it, but that doesn't mean I get it.

Rachel:

Come on, it's not that hard to understand, William.

William:

[Continuing to attend to his equipment.]
Tell me again.

Rachel:

[Getting into her hammock.]
The Wakaramaki express their religion, their world-view, in sacred dance-
rituals, messages of movement, symbolic action.

William:

Right.

Rachel:

And if I can understand the symbols – the messages – I can understand
what it means to be Wakaramaki.

William:

What it means to be Wakaramaki... Yeah, but- I'm sorry. I said I wouldn't-.
But seriously, Rach, how can you even purport to understand that, let

4

alone know you do when you do, as opposed to thinking you do without
ever being able really know you do? It's the-

Rachel:

You've got your knowledge, I've got mine-

William:

It makes no- I mean, that's the point. My knowledge is science-

Rachel:

Here we go.

William:

Standardized procedures, quantifiable data, replicable results – that's
knowledge.

Rachel:

[In a comically rehearsed/exhausted way, as if she has said these words
many times...]
That might be one particular, very limited form of knowledge-

William:

Real knowledge.

Rachel:

and your inability to recognize or understand there are other valid forms of
knowledge only shows how limited yours is.

William:

Knowledge is knowledge – I'm not apologizing for producing knowledge.

Rachel:

Of course you're not. You never apologize for anything.

William:

Well if I have something to apologize for, I will.

Rachel:

Yeah, actually, you won't. You've had plenty to apologize for, but you
could never admit it.

William:

What?!

Rachel:

Just like your father – you think you can't do anything wrong.

William:

What has my father done wrong?

Rachel:

Hm. Well there's dumping your mother for the nurse. Refusing to lend you
2000 dollars to buy a car. Grabbing my butt at the rehearsal dinner?

William:

You just- you misunderstood that-

Rachel:

He put his hand on my butt and squeezed – it's not hard to understand.

William:

You blew it out of proportion. It's not what you thought it was.

5

Rachel:

I know – it's what he thought it was, right?

William:

Right.

Rachel:

And nothing to apologize for.

William:

I don't know why you try to make me feel bad by comparing me to my
father. He's a very respected endocrinologist.

Rachel:

He's arrogant, William. And insensitive. Practically oblivious on some
points. I'm sorry, but those are not good qualities. You should not emulate
him in that regard.

William:

I just don't see it the way you do Rachel. I guess it's "cultural relativity."

Rachel:

No, actually it's denial. A wall of denial protecting a fortress of arrogance.

William:

What? Geez, you're so dramatic. I'm sorry but I can't play the jerk in your
melodrama right now. I've got to get this equipment set up.

Rachel:

[in her hammock, turning away from William]
Wel, good luck with that.

Silent moments. William unpacks stuff, arranging things, ...

Rachel:

Will?

William:

Yeah?

Rachel:

We've got to stop arguing, okay?

William:

Yeah, of course.

Rachel:

I mean, we have our projects-

William:

Yeah.

Rachel:

and your heart condition. I know I shouldn't be upsetting you.

William:

Yeah, wel, try not to think about that. That's what I do.

Rachel:

But you can't ignore it-

William:

Yes I can.

6

Rachel:

Wel we have to-. It's-. We have to avoid arguing, okay?

William:

Yes Rachel, you're right, of course.

Rachel:

Okay. Good night Will.

William:

Good night Rachel.

Silent moments as William continues unpacking, arranging, ...

Rachel:

Will?

William:

Yeah?

Rachel:

If things don't work out- I mean if one of our projects flopped and- only
one of us finished, got our PhD, we'd be okay right?

William:

Sure we would, Rach. Don't worry about that. We've been through a lot
the last two years.

Rachel:

Yeah.

William:

God, no one would have thought we would get together, the way we'd
debate at parties.

Rachel:

Yeah.

William:

In this corner, the beautiful ethnologist; in this corner, the pointy-headed
evolutionary ecologist. People would gather around to listen.

Rachel:

For about five minutes, then people would want to wring our necks. God,
it's embarrassing.

William:

What is?

Rachel:

Thinking back to those- I mean we would go on and on, back and forth for
hours.

William:

So?

Rachel:

At people's parties. Where they were trying to have a good time.

William:

Remember the time Suzanne asked us to leave?

Rachel:

[Laughs.]

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Yeah.

William:

Remember what we did?

Rachel:

Of course I remember. Our first kiss.

William:

Our first a lot more than that! Right in Suzanne's backyard. Geez, that was
quite the night. You really opened my eyes.

Rachel:

Captured the virgin scientist.

William:

But, yeah, we've made it this far, Rachel. We'll make it, we'll stick
together, that's how it works.

Rachel:

Okay.

William:

Even when we disagree, we're really working together, that's what people
don't understand.

Rachel:

Hm.

William:

We're always building toward something. The dynamic tension creating
forward propulsion, right?

Rachel:

Hm, yeah.

William:

That's how we make progress. And together we'll move forward, we'll
make it! And I'll do whatever it takes to help you achieve your goals, just
know that, okay sweetie?

Rachel:

Yeah. Thanks Will. Me too.

William:

Okay, now get some sleep. I'm going to keep setting this stuff up.

Rachel:

Okay. Good night Will.

William:

Good night Rach.

Silent moments as William finishes up some task.

Rachel:

Will?

William:

Yeah Rach?

Rachel:

I'm sorry I went off on your dad-

8

William:

Oh-

Rachel:

I know you admire him, and some of your good qualities come from him.

William:

[Now getting ready for sleep – changes t-shirt, drops pants.]
Well I don't know about that, but thanks.

Rachel:

The way you strive to excel, your ability to charm-

William:

[Laughs.]
I guess.

Rachel:

But I have to say, seriously, you're better than him. You have a sense of
responsibility that I don't see in him-

William:

[Climbs into his hammock.]
Well...

Rachel:

I mean, the way you put off your freshman year to take care of your mom
after he ran off with Miss Secretary. That was the opposite of him-

William:

I don't know about that-

Rachel:

Well, it shows you have a heart – that selfishness is not your driving value
– you're not trying to be slick.

William:

Hm.

Rachel:

Unlike some people. And I don't just mean your dad. I mean, most of the
people in the Anthro Department are the same way. Everything is all about
them.

William:

[Now tired.]
Yeah, there's a lot of that.

Rachel:

Or at least the character they're trying to play. But you're nothing like that,
and that's why I love you.

William:

[Sleepy, yawning...]
I love you too Rach.

Pause.

William:

[Falling asleep.]

9

Nighty-night.

Rachel:

Good night Will.

END SCENE
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