NAWPA: The Lesser Wars Synopsis

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The Lesser Wars
by Diane Glancy

Coytoe: the male of the androgynous pair. Late 30’s.
Tecoyo: she wears a red taffeta dress, coyote ears, and sequins in her coyote fur. She carries a hand-fan. Dried bear ovaries and a fetus hang around her waist. Also late 30’s.

The two characters sit in two chairs, the backs of which are guillotines. A mirrored ball and red chili lights hang from the ceiling.

“I think we have two characters here, male and female. No, I think we have one character with two parts: male and female. During the dialogue, they dance the foxtrot from time to time, so the four feet of them, or the oneness of the two of them, interact.

Possibly there’s no character at all, only thought.

I’m interested in the transfiguration of the word on stage. A dance of image and language. The solo of the word through a NEW DARK. And what of dramatic action? Let it go for a moment. Let it be in the twining of two bodies as though they were one.

THE LESSER WARS is about a male/female relationship, as Tecoyo, the female character, says. The greater wars are what we see happening in the economy and between nations on the evening news. The male in THE LESSER WARS has gone through a divorce and lost everything. The female also lost in a divorce and is facing another crisis (a hysterectomy).

They meet at the Bel-Rae Ballroom. She has just moved to Minnesota from Oklahoma. He has come to the Bel-Rae for years. She is a history teacher. It’s not clear what he does. They talk, and in the act of dance, they unite. Over one summer, they share their words, their mutual needs and experiences. She gives him a lesson about Columbus. He remembers his vasectomy. She tells him of her fear of surgery. He remembers his father. She remembers hers. They talk about their former spouses. They share sympathy, understanding, rage.

Their names are Coytoe and Tecoyo. The Coyote tradition underpins the drama. It is a Native American myth of the Trickster, the survivor, the one who always is, the one who is always underneath what we think we are. Coytoe is a shape changer. He is the embodiment of everything (anything) (nothing), but especially of the contradictions within us.

Coytoe sticks with Tecoyo through her surgery and the loss of her idea of a child, and welcomes her into her new barrenness (her discovery of the New World). He takes her to pick strawberries. He takes her to the North Shore before she teaches school again. He tells her stories and she talks to him of what she learns as she faces the loss of the Old World. Fearing separation from Coytoe, she puts her head in a guillotine, and metaphorically kills herself to become “one” with him. (It seems the woman more than the man gives up a part of herself.)

THE LESSER WARS explores the risk of relationship with the other, the risk of knowing self, and the risk of relationship with the structure of writing.”

Synopsis written by the author.