Eclectic Voices

Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More

The Shadow of Kings: Act 1, Scenes 3 & 4

stockvault-lion-sculpture-2500-years-ago-iran103713a new play by Tyler Tanner 

CLICK HERE to read Act 1, Scene 1 & 2A

CLICK HERE to read Act 1, Scene 2B

A Note from Tyler:  This is the first full length play that I wrote, so be gentle. The dialogue is admittedly heightened and still could be tweaked here and there. It takes place in England after the Viking Conquest of 1015, shaping the consequences that caused the Norman Conquest of 1066. It focuses on a man named Godwin and his family. History hasn’t been kind to Godwin. With what little there is, he’s normally presented as an opportunist and a Kingmaker. Following a trick of one of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, I decided to turn him into a protagonist without tampering with the history. This is what turned out.

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ACT 1, SCENE 3

LIGHTS UP. We see Queen EMMA, wife of Canute in her chamber. She is elegant, beautiful and not someone you want to cross paths with. She is standing and has been waiting for someone for some time. Godwin enters. He sees her demeanor and bows.

GODWIN: My queen Emma.

EMMA: It it true?

GODWIN: Yes, I’m afraid it is. You are to be married to Canute.

EMMA: I refuse.

GODWIN: It is either that or the nunnery.

EMMA: What do you suggest? Answer!

GODWIN: I believe he is a good man.

EMMA: As I thought. So typical. You reek of the uninventive.

GODWIN: Your majesty forgets. I did not beg for my life. It was given back to me.

EMMA: What of my sons?

GODWIN: Edward and Alfred will be spared. However, they will remain the rest of their lives in Normandy. They will not return to England.

EMMA: So any chance of –

GODWIN: Any chance of Alfred, or Edward, ascending to the throne will be preempted by your son.

EMMA: What son?

GODWIN: Your son by Canute. You are expected to breed.

EMMA: As simple as that? Doesn’t Canute already have a son?

GODWIN: This is true. His name his Harold. I have been assured his ascendancy to the throne will be as remote as your son Alfred’s. Harold has already earned the sobriquet of Harefoot.

EMMA: Why?

GODWIN: He kicked a servant boy to death.

EMMA: Uncivilized. Much like his father I would assume.

Godwin shrugs.

GODWIN: King Canute would have an answer, my Queen.

EMMA: If I have a son by Canute would he –

GODWIN: Canterbury will only recognize your son by Canute as having a legitimate claim to the throne.

EMMA: Is there any chance of my seeing Alfred and Edward –

GODWIN: (firm) I have also been assured that the only possibility of a reunion with them is if you join a convent, and your treasury will be seized.

Emma struggles with this. After a moment she straightens. Proud and regal.

EMMA: Inform the King that I will have – I request an audience with him tonight. And tell my handmaiden to bring me my jewelry. Go!

Godwin bows and exits offstage, leaving her alone.

Light fade out.

ACT 1, SCENE 4

Stage is black.

CaNUTE (O.S.): Godammit to hell, get me my armor!

LIGHTS UP Godwin enters. Fifteen years have passed. Godwin is dressed in more expensive garments indicating his rise of power. His age, now around fifty. STIGAND follows.

GODWIN: Another seizure?

STIGAND: Yes, only this time he is not recovering like we hoped he would. He’s deteriorated. Aethelnoth is performing the last rites.

GODWIN: Send for the Queen. And send ships dispatching letters for their son Hardicanute as well.

CANUTE (O.S.): My armor!!! I won’t die like some damn flea infested cur of a peasant!

STIGAND: It has been arranged. However.

GODWIN: However?

STIGAND: There has been a development.

GODWIN: What is it Stigand?

STIGAND: The Harefoot has also placed his bid to be the next king of England by right of primogeniture.

CANUTE (O.S.): I will not succumb to a straw death is that clear?!

GODWIN: He has no right. The king wants Hardicanute to succeed.

STIGAND: Nonetheless Harold has developed a following. How he knew of his father’s ailment so quickly, I must say, is incredibly resourceful. He must have a man at court.

CANUTE (O.S.): You will get me armor you buggering priest or I promise you, you will spit teeth from the wrong end!

Both turn to look in the direction of Canute’s chambers. A very flustered AETHELNOTH, the archbishop of Canterbury, comes from that direction and notices Godwin and Stigand.

AETHELNOTH: He has been demanding his armor since I prepared his soul for heaven.

GODWIN: It is an insult to a Viking, especially to one who has ruled us for this many years, not to die in battle. He wants to greet God as he lived, a warrior. Send someone to attend to the wishes of the king.

Aethelnoth nods and exits.

CANUTE (O.S.): Godwin? Come!

Godwin heads toward Canute’s chamber. Stigand follows.

CANUTE(O.S.): If Stigand is with you, leave him out there. I’ve had enough of priests for one day.

Stigand stays behind and Godwin exits.

Cross fade into Canute’s chambers.

A much older and emaciated Canute is lying on a bed of straw. Godwin enters.

CANUTE: This is an affront Godwin! Women die on straw pallets not kings. Is everything prepared?

GODWIN: Preparations are being made my king. I have sent for your armor.

CANUTE: Good my friend, good. Hardicanute will succeed. I am aware of Harefoot’s popularity. Watch out for that one there. Stigand. He and Leofric both are good at manipulating the Witan. Siward is logical but indifferent. He’ll act to his own interests.

GODWIN: Letters to Hardicanute are being sent, sire.

CANUTE: You’re a good man. My instincts were right to spare you that day. And you must admit, I haven’t that bad as a ruler.

GODWIN: You are…not what I expected.

CANUTE: Coming from you, that is high praise.

GODWIN: It is, your grace. Although I still wished you would have taking my advice on the incident on the sea shore, commanding the tide to go back.

The king roars with laughter that ends in a cough fit. Godwin helps him.

CANUTE: Those sycophants out there said that there was no king more powerful than I was. Showed them that God thought otherwise. Ruined a good pair of boots for the effort. Heh-heh. This is also another tide that will not turn back. Look after Emma, she did right by me to give such a fine son. He is giving Magnus a go of it, Yes? What of your sons?

GODWIN: All three of my boys are well. They are almost men.

CANUTE: Hardicanute will need advisors his age. They will do. And Gytha? Everything going well?

GODWIN: Very content. She hopes this time to have a daughter. She sends you her love.

CANUTE: My sister-in-law has been a good wife to you. I’ve almost caught you smiling.

Aethelnoth enters with Canute’s armor.

CANUTE: : Good. Now Godwin, help your friend.

Godwin does.

CANUTE: Aethelnoth this did not happen do you hear me?

AETHELNOTH: What shall I put in the Chronicle my King?

CANUTE: That I died! Just that! Remember me how I ruled, is that clear?

AETHELNOTH: I may have some disputes with –

CANUTE: You are the Archbishop of Canterbury! Make it happen!

AETHELNOTH: As you wish my king.

Godwin finishes dressing Canute.

CANUTE: There! Now I face God as a man. Get out.

Aethelnoth makes the sign of the cross. Godwin and Athelnoth start to depart.

GODWIN: (to Aethelnoth) Assemble the Witan at Oxford.

Lights fade out

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Originally from Texas, Tyler Tanner, as a young lad, dreamed of becoming the next Don Dokken. At Lon Morris College his musical tastes refined and realized he was more of a Robert Goulet type. He then tried his hand at writing comedy. It started with an online comedy troupe called What’s Wrong With Wally, then evolved to Tres Grimm at The Met and a late night serial comedies at Sacred Fools and The Eclectic. He has now “matured” to drama where he incorporated his wittiness and love of history into a monologue called “A Life” which played also at the Eclectic.

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2014 by in Playwriting and tagged , , , , , , .
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