“The Siege of Ennis” by Eileen O’Leary
Bernard and his daughter, Cathy, are visiting his childhood home. He has decided he wants the place. His sister, Agnes, lives here. His sister, Marian, has traveled here and wants it for herself. This excerpt is Bernard and Agnes in ACT II.
You’re going to throw it all away. The last bit of it. The last crumb. Could you not be
satisfied to leave me a goddamn crumb? I started my life in this house. Nowhere I can go
will change that. Nothing I do will give me different blood.
I’m not letting some bitter, angry woman throw the last of it away.
What do you think, Agnes? Maybe all the years…down through the centuries it was one
man come home refusing to let the thing die? Refusing bitterness? That man comes home. And keeps it alive.
You want it.
Cathy wants it.
I want it.
I want it.
It would play your hand against Marian.
Oh, there’s nothing like politics when it hits blood!
You won’t stop me. I’ll have the papers drawn up.
Has it crossed your mind that it’s mine by possession? That’s legal.
Until you’re pushed down the stairs, dammit.
And don’t think I won’t come back for a thousand years in a cloud of light in the upstairs
hallway and you’ll wake up screaming for what I’m still about. Papers. Documents. Deed
of assignment. It’s mine!
I’ll tell you what will be done here and what won’t.
You don’t love it. You don’t love your family, either…your own brother. I could help us all live together.
You’ll take over is what you’ll do.
If you’d just….
Listen! (LONG PAUSE) Listen. (LONG PAUSE) Silence. That’s what’s here. That’s what
joined me…kept me company. The shutters…the cows…the rain…sometimes I’d hear them.
But what was here…really lived here after everyone had gone…was silence. (PAUSE)
Some places…the back end of the universe dips down…and lives there. That’s what the
universe is made of…silence. Listen. (LONG PAUSE) Nothing.
If you can live with that….you can live with God. You can stand the prison of your own
skin. You want me to let you hammer some nails into the shingles on the roof? It seems to me that would bother the silence. And the silence has been here forty years…while you had your life…in a noisy world. No idea what’s out there past the heavens. That silence moved in here…and it’s my companion. I say…let the place rot. That’s the planet we’ve found ourselves on. I am rotting down…so are you…and I am happy moving toward the earth. Because if I wasn’t…if I used this place for profits…pushing for noise and the hammering of nails…the silence would fight back. And win.
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Eileen O’Leary Artist Statement:
Eileen O’Leary is a playwright with three Best New Play awards. Eight of her plays have
been produced in regional and university theatres. The Siege Of Ennis was a finalist at
the Long Beach New Works Festival and was staged at CAP21 Off-Broadway. She
attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for Fiction and was a Tennessee Williams
Playwriting Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. A screenplay she wrote won
Second Rounder/comedy at the Austin Film Festival. She wrote a novel, Secret Customs,
for which she’s hoping to find a publisher.