A nightingale's song. The Crack of dawn. The Islamic call to prayer.
A lamp is burning, and a man beside it, in prayer. This is MAJNUN
(maj-NOON). He sits on a large oriental carpet. The room is spacious
with columns and hanging draperies. In the background, the soft colors
of dawn play against silhouetted buildings of a 12th century Persian city.
Majnun begins to chant, accompanying his chant with motions. He calls
out, arms outstretched, and begins to drop toward the floor. At the lowest
point of his prostration, a light comes up on Layli (LAY-lee). Music.
Ravishing, ornately-dressed, veiled - she is the personification of Majnun's love.
As he prays she comes forward and begins to dance around him, music
following. Eventually, he becomes aware of her presence, though he never
seems to lay eyes on her. They dance: Fred and Ginger in 12th Century Persia.
At the end of the dance, they both return to their former positions. Majnun
moves as if to quench the lamp. Layli moves as if to remove her veil.
Lights come quickly up to full, Blackout.
Lights up. The same house. Majnun is gone, Layli is in the courtyard,
transformed into an ORANGE TREE. During the Scene 1 dance, another
individual, MUSA (moo-SAH), entered the room and has been occupied
in checking and correcting a set of blueprints of the house's structure. He
has worked in a manner at once diligent, surreptitious, and evidently unaware
of Majnun or Layli's presence, and he is now finishing up. He returns the
blueprints to a long tube. A sound from outside, Musa is startled, fearful that
he might be caught and his precious drawings confiscated. He quenches
the lamp and tiptoes out of the house. Another man, Karim (ka-REEM),
enters. He stops at the Orange Tree, takes a piece of fruit, and begins to eat it,
surveying the property casually. He goes near the lamp and sensing the
heat, reaches down to touch it. He jerks his hand back as if it's hot. He thinks a
moment and then returns to his orange and his musings. Another man, the
MULLA enters. He seems to be in a big hurry.
Mulla, Maharba! Welcome, welcome to Shiraz!
Thank you. This is the house of Infernal Hell Fire?
This is the house of Siyyid Ali Muhammad.
Ali Muhammad will do.
I'm sorry, Mulla, was he not a descendant of the Prophet?
Peace be upon Him! Such an honor was made of no consequence once he made
his pact with Satan!
MULLA (Looking around.)
Ayatollah says no stone will be left unturned.
Yes, yes. Allah-u-akbar! Ayatollah speaks, and it is so! It is
inconceivable this house could be used to promote the true faith of God!
What are you saying?
Who am I to say anything once Ayatollah has spoken?
Come, come. To the point. I don't have all day.
Insh'Allah. Excuse me, Mulla, for saying so, but this house. . . is. . .
Well, is it impossible to conceive the good name of Islam might be
promoted while it is still standing?
Speak plainly, Karim. Don't vex me with your Shirazi riddles!
For example. Mulla. If a local believer -- someone nearby -- were to
around every once and a while.
That's a great idea, Mulla!
It would have to be someone who lives very close, or someone who would be
willing to live here.
Yes. To make that sacrifice.
Someone to look after the place.
Someone we could trust.
Of course, he would have to be compensated for his sacrifice.
You are too kind, Mulla!
(A pernicious smile. He pronounces each word with great relish.)
No stone unturned! (He laughs and goes to leave but turns.) And get rid of
that accursed tree! "Verily, the Infernal Tree shall be the food of the
[He exits, laughing. Karim throws his orange peels on the
Absurd laughter coming from all directions. Lights up on Majnun in
Except he is now in the street. Merchants with wares, people passing by.
Layli is gone. Majnun digs his hands into the dirt, as if searching for gold.
Layli! Layli! Layli!
[Two men stand over him laughing.]
MAN #1 (In Persian.)
(Look at this mad boy. He's lost his mind. Sifting the dust, crying out
Young man, what doest thou?
I seek for Layli!
Alas for thee! Layli is of pure spirit, and thou seekest her in the dust!
I seek her everywhere. Haply somewhere I shall find her.
MAN #1 (In Persian.)
(Trans: It is shameful)
[Layli peeks in.]
[Majnun, hearing, starts up. The other men do not hear her,
but are jostled by his change.]
Here I am.
[Majnun runs off in the general direction of her voice.
The men laugh out loud -The laughter amplifies. Darkness.]
Back at the house, we hear demolition sounds. The orange tree (Layli)
looks worried. Two WORKERS come over to look at it. They take out various
implements of destruction and get ready to hack away at the orange tree.
Don't you gentlemen have something better to do?
I thought we were supposed to get rid of the tree.
If not now, then when?
I mean, don't you have walls to knock down? Foundations to tear up? It's
just a harmless orange tree.
Yeah, yeah, I know what Ayatollah says! Just get on with it, huh? You're not
getting paid to stand around! (He walks away.) What are you looking at, huh?!
Get to work!
[The workers shake their head and began to hack away at the
Orange Tree, chopping at its roots with an axe and a saw.
They grab the Orange Tree by the arms and tug. She puts up a
good fight with comic results. Eventually, they succeed in tearing
off an outer layer of her clothing. They seem quite happy
with this and walk away, dividing up the cloth. The Orange Tree
prostrates itself into a fetal position. She remains there for the
following scenes. Lights down. ]
Another street. Lights up on a doctor leading Majnun out of his shop.
young men stand nearby.
DOCTOR (Half in Persian.)
[I'm sorry, Majnun.] I have no medicine for one sick of love. [Aren't
those your friends?
Go ask if they have seen her.]
[The doctor exits. Majnun approaches one of the young men.]
[My friend.] These doctors, they know no cure for me. It's been years
I've been away from her. [My friend] can you help me?
[The young man walks away apologetically. Majnun approaches
another young man.]
[My friend.] I can't sleep at night. I can't rest by day. Look at me,
my body is worn to a sigh. Have you a good word for me, my friend?
[The other young man walks away. Majnun is left alone. He
begins to convulse.]
No. No. This tree has borne no fruit but despair. This fire is blazed
out. Fallen to ashes. Hope be gone! Tonight I meet my beloved in the
[He runs off. Lights out.]
Musa is sitting on the street crying. His friend, HUSAYN, approaches
Musa, what's wrong?
Oh, Husayn! The house. It's gone. They've destroyed it. What do I do?
But Musa, you said all the plans of the house were already drawn up.
Yes, yes, they were.
But then why despair, my friend? One day, this country will retrieve its
sanity. And that day, we'll rebuild, Musa. Just as it was. Exactly as it was,
my friend, and because of you. It is to your everlasting glory that it can be done.
But Husayn, there is nothing left. Nothing. My friend, all I needed was
a marker. One reference point and everything could have been rebuilt. One
thing. Anything. A brick in the outer wall. That orange tree. But
they even took the orange tree, Husayn! They've razed it all and covered it over
Well, that's okay, Musa. It doesn't have to be in the exact same spot...
No, no. It's not the same. It's not the same.
Musa! Where is your faith, man?! Certainly, you conditioned this endeavor
on the Will of God. Now give it up. Come. Come to my house. We will
pray and the way will be made plain.
[Musa gets up and follows Husayn off. Lights shift to the next
Majnun reenters with a lamp from the back of the house. He is exhausted
and walks with a limp down the aisle toward the stage.
Where are you? Koja hastid? Koja hastid? Layliy-e-man! Do not leave me
alone here! Khahesh-mikonam, Layli, do not leave me alone!
[A watchman enters.]
WATCHMAN (In Persian.)
[Hey there! Who are you? What are you up to at this hour?]
MAJNUN (Rousing from delirium.)
[He sees the watchman and runs offstage.]
[Hey! Stop! Come back here!]
[He runs after Majnun. Lights shift to next scene.]
Lights up on the Orange Tree in Fetal position. At specfic times during
the previous scenes she has moved slightly. Now she begins to move
and pushes upward, apparently breaking through the pavement. As she
comes up, she gasps deeply as if she was suffocating. She struggles to
stand. Musa enters.
This, this. What is this? The tree? The tree? The orange tree!!
[Musa runs offstage deliriously. The Orange Tree struggles to
grow. Lights shift to next scene.]
Majnun runs back on stage.
Surely this watchman is 'Isra'il, my angel of death, following so fast
[The watchman reenters.]
[Why did you run? What have you done?]
(Squaring off to fight him.)
Or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm me.
[Uh-oh. Mad dog. I'm not gonna fight you.] (He blows his whistle
[Majnun runs in one direction and is barred by another watchman.
He tries running in another direction and another watchman
appears. Then others appear. He runs straight up the stage and
jumps to scale a wall, crying out in pain as he climbs. The watchmen
come behind him, grab his feet and push him up.]
Lights go out on the watchmen and the street, and come up on the garden
where Majnun has flung himself at the feet of the Orange Tree, which he
knows as Layli. A nightingale's song. Majnun looks up to see Layli as
she is bending over to pick up a ring as if she had lost it.
Here you are.
[They look at each other. The Islamic call to prayer is heard.
They move toward each other in a simple dance. Music. She
gives him the ring and he places it on her finger. They move
into a formal and highly anticipated moment. She puts her
hand to her veil as might a bride on her wedding night, Eventually
coming downstage of Majnun, so when she removes her veil. It is
only Majnun that can look on her radiant face. He gazes at her,
she at him for a long moment. She lowers her gaze, and he falls
prostrate on the ground at her feet. She returns her veil and moves
behind him as in the opening scene, Majnun lifts his head, draws
a great breath, and speaks.]
O God! Give Thou glory to the watchman, and riches and long life. For
the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; of he was Israfil, bringing
life to this wretched one! Glory to God in the Highest! My Beloved and I are