For copyright reasons this play is not (yet) available on the Web.
You can read an outline of it in this document, but you will not (yet)
be able to access the acts with the complete texts.
If you are interested in performing this play or in publishing it on
paper, please contact the writer, M. Vincent van Mechelen, at
P.O.Box 11449, 1001 GK Amsterdam,
You may also use the
"To rise, to reign and rest in dust again", says Death in the allegorical
play within this play. It was, it is and it will be the lot of all human
(and other living) beings. Together with death the common aspects of
life, such as family, friendship and sexuality, form the main theme of the
present play, including all attempts to hang on to life physically or to
transcend death or future nonexistence spiritually. Admittedly, this theme
is not extraordinary. Extraordinary is it that the three acts this play
consists of cover a period of more than a thousand years. For that reason
each character --even Death-- appears in one act only.
Besides death and the common aspects of life, there is another element of
the human condition which runs as a thematic thread thru the various parts
of this play. It is what might be called "the cross-temporal bias". Even
tho we have basically remained the same over the centuries, many tend to
look upon their fellow human beings of the past as people living in a worse
condition than their own. They picture to themselves a primitive species
struggling for survival without modern technical means and modern art.
And they picture for themselves a naive species endeavoring to live on
without modern scientific knowledge and modern media. When calling one
period of human history "the Dark Ages", they implicitly suggest that they
themselves are living in a scientifically and technologically advanced time
in which human beings have become enlightened (and moral) and have, if not
wholly, at least substantially managed to free themselves from stupidity
and the eternal human lot.
This play torpedoes that suggestion. Also the people from the so-called
'Dark Ages' can come up with reasons to consider the time of the writer of
this play 'a dark age', full of odd ideas, bad habits, frightful conflicts
and unenlightened people. All they need for such an image is the assumption
that everyone in our time thinks, feels, acts and is the victim of the same
things as everyone else, an assumption those thinking in historical
stereotypes all suffer from. "Unfortunately", one might say, it provides
this play with a greater thematic unity in spite of the incredibly long
time span. It will turn out that from its beginning to its end there are
characters who are 'glad to live in their day and age', which are
very different days and ages indeed.
In addition to the thematic unity of the play, there is a structural unity,
created, among other things, because certain characters in the first and
third acts are going to see this play themselves. This, perhaps, may be
nothing special for some, but it takes place without having those
characters end up in an infinite regress. And then it is done for good
substantive reasons as well.
In the title of the total play (which admits of at least two different
interpretations) Everyone alliterates with Elckerlyc.
Elckerlijc (spelled with ij or y) is, first of all,
the allegorical name of the protagonist in the medieval Flemish-Dutch
morality play of that name, which is the counterpart of the English
Everyman (probably a translation). Elckerlijc means
everyone, and this word is also used as the name of the main
character in the second act, which is based on the medieval allegory. (The
last syllable of Elckerlyc should be pronounced as the English term
leek, without stress or with a secondary stress as on the last
syllable of everyone).
The main scene is an idyllic medieval, Western European landscape with a
brook running in a dale on the left and a sweet-smelling wood on the right
and at the back. In the foreground there is a fire which is kept burning
with small pieces of wood. A round metal pot is put over it in a makeshift
arrangement. There is a little wooden table with about six soup plates on
it. It is the summer of the year 963 of the Christianist Era, the time of
the Papacy of John XII (the years 955-964). With regard to Europe, the
period of history concerned is now commonly referred to as 'the Dark Ages'
(the second half of the First Millennium).
During a part of this act there is a separate scene on the fringe of the
main scene. It shows a richly decorated palace bedroom with a king-sized
bed, a chair, an insence burner and gold chalice on a little table and a
large cross on the wall. This scene within the scene represents a private
experience in which the actors who are the object of the experience do not
and cannot interact with the actors seeing and hearing them. (Unlike a play
within a play, which is a public experience in which the actors playing the
actors can easily interact with the actors playing the audience, provided
that there is such an audience.)
In the main scene we meet one male-female couple and a mother and her son.
Their ages are between 17 and 40. The scene within the scene shows a
male-female couple and a second man, whose ages vary from 18 to 27. The
characters of both scenes appear in this act only. They are:
BERTRAM, a man of about 30-35 years old
SIGRID, Bertram's partner, a woman of about 26-30 years old
GERTRUDE, Sigrid's sister, a woman of about 35-40 years old
RONALD, Gertrude's 17-year-old son
OCTAVIAN, Pope John XII about 27 years old
LAURENCE, Octavian's friend of about the same age
FELICIA, Laurence's wife, about 18 years old
The scene is an elaborately decorated brightly lighted living room with a
table of tropical hardwood good for ten dinner guests. Against the left
wall there is a chest of drawers and on the same wall, to the left of it, a
computer-television flatscreen. In the back wall there is a large window
and, on the far right, a door to a hallway. On the right there is a steep,
open staircase with marble steps leading to a corridor upstairs.
Contemporary or even futuristic apparatuses, devices and gadgets may be
displayed and used in this part of the play.
This act features a play within the play, referred to in both the first and
the third acts. It is a modern adaptation of Elckerlijc and
Everyman (see above). Elckerlijc was created in a time midway
between the year 963 (the time of the first act) and the year 1963 (the
time of the third act), that is, around the year 1460 of the Christianist
Era. It is in essence a
normistic work of art, as it
centers on virtues and other values. Yet, the story has always been
presented in a clearly, if not blatantly,
theocentristic framework. Here
the medieval story is cut back to its purely normistic core, where it
concerns people of all times, of all beliefs and, not less, of nonbelief.
At the same time the allegory has been improved upon both by deleting
nonallegorical characters and by adding new allegorical ones.
We meet sixteen people of both sexes and various ages. Again, the
characters appear in this act only. They are:
ELCKERLYC (Elckerlijc, Everyman)
FEASTING, parent of Here and Now
HERE, young child of Feasting
NOW, young child of Feasting
FUTURE, parent of Longevity and Death
LONGEVITY, grown-up child of Future
DEATH, grown-up child of Future (Die Doot, Death)
FRIENDSHIP (Gheselscap, Fellowship)
FAMILY (Maghe & Neve, Kindred & Cousin)
WEALTH (Tgoet, Goods)
STRENGTH (Cracht, Strength)
BEAUTY (Schoonheyt, Beauty)
PRUDENCE (Vroetscap, Discretion)
PERCEPTION (Vijf Sinnen, Five Wits)
INSIGHT, sib of Good-Deeds (Kennisse, Knowledge)
GOOD-DEEDS, sib of Insight (Duecht, Good Deeds)
(The names between parentheses are the counterparts in the medieval plays
Elckerlijc and Everyman respectively.)
The scene is a large asphalt North American parking lot, bordered by the
left wall of a tall building on the right and a polluted concrete ditch on
the left. Because of the many cars it is not possible to see how far the
parking lot extends at the back and what is behind it. In the shade of the
wall on the left there are two adjacent plastic picnic tables. A number of
wooden poles support overhead telephone cables and there is also a public
phone booth. The time is 18 years after the end of the Second World War
(the year 1963 of the Christianist Era).
We meet seven people (two male-female couples, one same-sex female couple
and a single young man), aged 16-26. They are:
JAN, a woman of about 23 years old
GLADYS, Jan's partner, a woman of about the same age
ANGELA, Jan's sister, about 21 years old
WILLIAM, Angela's husband, about 25 years old
HIRAM, Jan's brother, about 19 years old
PETER, Hiram's friend of about the same age
MYRA, Peter's partner, about 17 years old
As far as the British and (North) American variants of the present language
are concerned, it should be noted that British rather than American idiom
and spelling are used in Act One, and American rather than British idiom
and spelling in Act Three. The same rule ought to be applied to the actors:
if native speakers, a British or other European accent is to be preferred
to a North American one in the first act, and a North American accent to a
European one in the third act. There is no such general guideline for Act
Two or with respect to other native and nonnative accents.
The language in both Act One and Act Three is old-fashioned in that it is
sexually irrelevantistic; in other words: genderized regardless of context.
The language in Act Two, however, is sex-neutral and -transcending (and
neither European nor North American, or both). It is the language of
persons rather than of men and women, unless sex is relevant in the context
concerned. (The third-person singular pronouns used are:
'e, 'im and
'er.) Hence, not only do the actions in Act Two take place at
the technologically most advanced time, they also take place at the
linguistically most advanced time of the play.