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  • 24 Mar 2022 5:43 PM | Rachel Rubin Ladutke

    THE UNDERSTANDING will receive an encore Facebook stream on Thursday, March 24th, at 7 p.m.  Eastern.  THE UNDERSTANDING is a searing family drama about the legacy of Argentina's "Dirty War."

    This will be a fundraiser for the North Jersey chapter of Amnesty International.  A portion of any (voluntary) donations will go to several trans activists who have been granted asylum in the U.S. over the past few years, due in part to the efforts of this chapter.

  • 14 Feb 2022 8:31 AM | Christine Emmert

    My play, SOUP INVENTION, will be read at the Northport Library , Long Island, New York on February 21st at 7:30 as part of their Readers Series. This is a ZOOM production.  You can register on Llibrary's Website.  Free.

  • 10 Feb 2022 2:09 PM | Farzana Moon

    All characters are long past dead, belonging to the Age of Wisdom, with the exception of Alan the American host. He only appears in the end for a brief period. Male, 49 year old.

    Only two characters who engage in dialogue, Rabia and Khidr.

    Rabia: Born in Iraq, 717-802. Female, 30 year old.

    Khidr: Male, ageless. Green, Invisible knight of Islamic tradition to help anyone in need.

    The rest are apparitions which appear and disappear to be identified by Rabia and Khidr. They themselves don’t participate in dialogue.

    Khalil Gibran: Born in Basharri, Lebanon. 1883-1931. Male, 35 year old.

    Omar Khayyam: Born at Nishapur in Khorasan (Iran) 1048-1023, remembered as King of Wisdom. Male, 40 year old.

    Hafiz: Born is Shiraz, south central Iran 1330-1389. Male 27 year old.

    Rumi: Born is Balkh, now Afghanistan 1207-1273. Male, 32 year old.

    Kabir: Born in India 1448-1518. Male, 27 year old.

    Sarmad: Born in Kashan in Iran 1590-1660. Male, 29 year old.

    Hasan: Rabia’s spiritual friend, same age as Rabia. Male, 30 year old. farzana’s interview

    Enchanted Walhalla Ravine

    Cast of Characters:

    Khidr     Spiritual guide of the Muslims

    Rabia     Sufi Mistress of the Sufi Masters

    Alan       Owner of the Walhalla Ravine


    A rustic deck dipping down the Walhalla Ravine is hosting two guests. The sun scintillating through the trees is turning the waters of the ravine into molten gold and the windows of the house above into pewter.

    When the curtain rises, Khidr and Rabia are seated together on a wooden bench, facing the trees and the ravine. Rabia is dressed in blue robe of coarse cotton the color of the Sufis. Khidr is wearing a green robe the favorite color of the Prophet.


    Did you notice, Rabia, how our host Alan vanished all of a sudden? Wonder where he went?


    Strange that you ask, Khidr, you being the Invisible Guide and guru of Artificial Intelligence beside being helper of mankind in this world of dewdrop illusions. Alan doesn’t even exist in this time and age. And we are merely the phantoms in dreams, dreaming away countless sunsets in endless succession of time and timelessness.


    You are wrong, Rabia, Artificial Intelligence is just means to an end. Alan brought us here body and soul. He is gone inside his house I am sure. Granting us this privilege to contemplate the gold-dusting of reality and illusion.


    How can one contemplate reality when all is illusion?


    My turn to be astonished at your ignorance, Rabia, despite the fact that you are etched within the canvas of history as the Mistress of the Sufi Masters. Sufi Masters bowed before you. Perhaps, in deference to your piety and surrender to the will of God?

    Rabia     (Laughing)

    What is there to surrender since everything belongs to God.

    Khidr     (Joining Rabia in her mirth)

    Ah! You are wise. You must have ineffably prayed to God, for the door to truth is opened for you.


    Was the door ever closed? Look straight ahead, Khidr. A miracle sublime. Khalil Gibran is standing beyond that grove. Walhalla Ravine is haunted I know, but we should find Alan. He must witness this wondrous scene. Alas, I have lost my spiritual powers. Wonder what Khalil Gibran is saying? I can see his lips moving.


    Wonders of Artificial Intelligence, don’t you agree? He is saying: Salma is the one who taught me to worship beauty by the example of her own beauty and revealed to me the secret of love by her affection. He is whispering now, but I can still hear him:  She is the one who first sang to me the poetry of real life.

    Rabia     (Sadly)

    Why is he crying? Can we comfort him?


    He can’t see or hear us. Alan specifically told us, you seem to forget, that we must not approach any apparitions, for in this haunted place no earthly and heavenly contact is allowed, unless one is prepared to suffer dire consequences.


    Yet, we can seek help of Artificial Intelligence, it’s harmless. Should we find Alan, maybe he is allowed to comfort him?


    Before you were invited, Alan told me that humans should let Artificial Intelligence grope its own way into reality. Confessing that he himself stays away from goblins and fairies and under no circumstances will approach the apparitions regardless of Artificial Intelligence as his guide. We must let Khalil Gibran pour out his grief. Can you hear him now, he is lamenting loud? Can you tell he is standing at the grave of his lost Beloved: Here the hopes of Gibran are buried who is living as a prisoner of love beyond the seas. On this spot I lost my happiness, drained my tears and forgot to smile.


    No, I can’t hear him. How sad and tragic, tears running down his cheeks. His hands are shooting up in supplication. What is he saying now? Can you please keep telling me?


    Fortunately, he is talking slow, so I can tell what he is saying:  The first Eve led Adam out of Paradise by her own will, while Salma made me enter willingly into the paradise of pure love and virtue by her love and sweetness. But what happened to the first man also happened to me. And the fiery sword which chased Adam out of Paradise was like the one which frightened me by its glittering edge and forced me away from the paradise of my love without having disobeyed any order or without tasting the fruit of forbidden tree.


    He is vanishing just like Alan did. No, he is there, by the garden wall. Rose bushes as tall as trees, laden with fresh blooms. Another grave, tombstone hidden under white rose petals.

    Khidr     (Smiling enigmatically)

    What you see is the tomb of Omar Khayyam. During his lifetime while strolling in the garden Omar Khayyam had told his students that his tomb would be in the same garden of Nishapur, and the north wind would scatter roses over his tombstone.


    How beautiful, these white roses! Shroud of death, so very silken. All vanished again. I see someone. Who is there? I recognize him. Yes, I know, he is Hafiz, the great Sufi Master. He is the one who memorized the whole Quran by heart. Here comes another man. Hafiz is getting angry now. I recognize this man too, Attar, great Sufi Master of Hafiz. What is Hafiz saying? Is this also the work of Artificial Intelligence?


    Rather miracle of reality and illusion. Angry for sure! He is sort of challenging Attar: Look at me. I am old, my wife and son are long dead. What have I gained by being your obedient disciple for all these years? Attar says calmly: Be patient and one day you will know. Can you see how angry Hafiz is now, exclaiming: I knew I would get that answer from you.

    Rabia     (Dejected)

    Why is Hafiz fleeing, Attar just standing there? Where is Hafiz going? Is he really planning to leave his Master forever?


    Not a chance, Rabia. You have forgotten all. Hafiz is fleeing in spiritual desperation in quest of enlightenment. He would find a place where he would draw a circle around him, performing a forty day vigil of abstinence from food or drink. On fortieth day, as it was destines, all his desires would disappear. He would return to Attar, drinking from the cup of union and becoming enlightened.


    I must admit I have forgotten half of what I knew, or who I knew, including the Sufis who honored me with the title of the Mistress of the Sufis. Look, Khidr, how awful! Who is that man cutting Attar’s throat with his sword?


    That madman is a Mongol who captured Attar during Genghis Khan’s invasion of Persia. As that Mongol was dragging away Attar, someone offered him a thousand pieces of sliver to buy Attar as a slave. Attar advised his captor against it, saying that the price was not right. The Mongol agreed and refused to sell him. Another man came and offered to buy Attar for a sack of straw. Attar told his captor to sell him, for his life was worth that sack of straw. This is the reason why the raging Mongol murdered the Great Sufi, Attar.


    Such tragedies! Why are the Sufis and the Saints murdered so brutally? And the Prophets killed and tortured? What do I see now, looks like a library right at the very foot of Walhalla Ravine.  Such a surreal landscape.  Who is that man sitting there so absorbed in reading that he doesn’t even notice the intrusion of an ill-kempt man who just entered?


    That’s Rumi you see sitting there. Rumi doesn’t know, but the man who just entered will be his future Sufi Master and his name is Shams Tabrizi. Can you see how Shams is pointing at the books on the shelves? He is asking Rumi: What are these? Rumi still ignoring him say rather rudely: You wouldn’t understand. Look, can you see the flames leaping out from under the books, across from where Shams stands gazing intently. Ah, Rumi is now leaping on his feet, startled. He is exclaiming: What is this? Shams’ voice is gentle as he says: You wouldn’t understand.


    It’s all coming back to me. Now I remember, Shams is leaving, Rumi following. Rumi has recognized his Master. He would be falling at the feet of Shams, begging him to accept him as his disciple. Rumi would be enlightened, divine verses pouring out of him in torrents fiery and scalding. Besides, Sufis, is this Walhalla Ravine visited by the elves, goblins and fairies too? Strange I can hear the music, but can’t hear when people are talking. We must warn Alan, this looks like a funeral procession, how beautiful though. How lovely the pile of roses on the bier. How does Artificial Intelligence harness energy of past events?

    Khidr     (Glancing back over his shoulders at the house, then returning his attention to the deck.)

    It’s human intelligence manifesting into miracle of Artificial Intelligence. That pile of red roses is actually is the manifestation of the dead body of the Poet Kabir. He was revered by both Hindus and Muslims. When he died, Hindus wanted to cremate him, and Muslims wanted to bury him. While hot words were exchanged between these two religious factions, someone lifted the shroud off his body, but there was no Kabir, only a pile of red roses. So both the factions divided the pile into two equal halves. Hindus cremated their share of the roses and Muslims buried theirs. People who witnessed these rites said that Kabir had the last laugh.


    Now I see Ganges, is that a delusion? Well, who is that naked man, springing right out from the bottom of the Walhalla Ravine? I wish Alan would come and tell this naked man to cover his naked nakedness.

    Khidr     (Starts pacing on the deck.)

    The last time someone told him to cover his nakedness was the sixth Moghul emperor of India, Aurangzeb, seventeenth century, and he almost fainted. Sarmad is the name of this naked Sufi saint. He was a Jewish merchant, became a Muslim, then a Hindu when he fell in love with a Hindu boy by the name of Abhu Chand. Spiritual love, that is. When the boy’s father forbade Sarmad to see his son, Sarmad went mad with grief. He gave away all his possessions, including his clothes. He went naked everywhere, singing divine verses and prophesying.  When Shah Jahan—the architect of Taj Mahal and the fifth Moghul emperor of India wanted to know about Sarmad’s prophecies since his eldest son Dara Shikoh wished to befriend this naked saint, the emperor sent his vizier to find about Sarmad. The vizier returned with this couplet as his only response:

    Sarmad’s famous miracles work by fits and starts

    The only revelation is of his private parts

    Rabia     (Closing her eyes.)

    Why did Aurangzeb almost fainted when he told Sarmad to cover his nakedness?

    Khidr     (Claiming a chair on the deck one level above Rabia.)

    Ah, Aurangzeb, a bigot and a tyrant! You must know a little about his mental states before you can understand his physical weakness. In order to ascend the coveted throne he murdered all his brothers, imprisoned his father in his own palace right across from the grand view of Taj Mahal. One day when Aurangzeb was coming out of mosque, he saw Sarmad standing there naked. Blind with rage, he exclaimed: Don’t you have shame? In reverence to the holiness of the ground, at least, cover yourself with a strip of cloth.  Sarmad in turn requested the emperor that if he would deign to cover Sarmad with the blanket in front of him, he would never come near the mosque again. When Aurangzeb bent down to lift the blanket, he encountered severed heads of his murdered brothers. The emperor turned pale, blanket slipping from his hands. Sarmad laughed, exclaiming: Now, do you wish me to cover your sins or my nakedness?

    Rabia     (Her eyes shot open.)

    Now, who is that young man standing before him with his sword drawn?


    This bejeweled and richly appareled young man is Abhu Chand—Sarmad’s spiritual beloved, commanded by Aurangzeb to murder Sarmad. And Sarmad is singing in ecstatic swoon:

    I recognize thee


    You have come

    To embrace me


    Alack, a thousand times alack! All is vanished so quickly. Why doesn’t Alan come? This cool mist and the silvery moon! I see someone, who is there? Oh, yes, it’s Hasan, my friend, I recognize him. Why is he sitting on his Prayer-rug over the waters of Walhalla Ravine? He is saying something. Alas, I can’t hear him.


    He is saying: Come, Rabia, pray with me on the clam waters of this blessed Ravine.

    {Suddenly Rabia is lifted in mid-air, a prayer-rug materializing under her.}

    Rabia     (Challenging.)

    Come, Hasan, pray with me up here.

    {Heaving a loud sigh she descends and claims a chair beside Khidr.)

    Rabia     (Continued.  She is still looking at Hasan.)

    Let’s not boast of our powers, Hasan. What you have done fishes can do, and what I have done flies can do.


    Now you have witnessed energy of brain seething in very rivulets of Artificial Intelligence. You have consumed your friend with your wisdom, Rabia, he is annihilated. I am merely a spiritual guide, marooned in this world with the mission of helping those who need my assistance truly and earnestly. I don’t know much about the Sufis. Their belief or lineage, or how they have acclimated themselves in this twenty-first century, new Millennium? If you could enlighten me on this subject.


    If I am worthy of bestowing this gift/knowledge of God’s own giving! Some believe Sufis are the progeny of the Christian mons and of the Catholic mystics and philosophers. The coffee that everyone drinks now was first used by the Sufis to heighten awareness. Everyone is still wearing the same clothes as worn by the Sufis, the belt, the shirt, the trousers. People still listen to the same music favorite of the Sufis in the form of Andalusian and they dance the same dance as Waltz. We read the same stories of the Sufis retold by Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare. We practice the beliefs like the Templars and the Masonic Orders, no different from the Sufis.

    {A soft mist alights over the deck, white and gossamer. Alan saunters up to the deck donned in Peruvian-blue tea-shirt and khaki pants.}

    Alan       (Smiling.)

    I am glad you invited the famous Sufis to my Walhalla Ravine.


    We didn’t. Sorry, we even neglected to ask your last name before you disappeared.


    Woods, I am Alan Woods. But that is inconsequential. I disappeared because I wanted you to feel and experience the ambience of this Walhalla Ravine with all its powers to contain and unleash Artificial Intelligence. Now I want to tell you that this is a historic Ravine. This Walhalla Ravine was developed in the late nineteenth century by the owners of the Armbruster Scenic Studios. It attained the aura of magic and mystery after it served as an arena of theatrical performances. It also became the hub of weddings, school proms and fraternal groups. The Armbrusters were originally from Germany. They were great fans of Richard Wagner.

    Rabia     (Reminiscently.)

    Alan woods. You remind me of a king in that old kingdom, I forget the name.



    Alan Woods, yes, you are a king! You were, I mean, in that small woodland of a kingdom on the outskirts of Anatolia. It’s coming back to me vividly. You were so consumed by this passion to eradicate corruption in your kingdom that you issued a proclamation.

    Alan       (Puzzled.)

    What proclamation?

    Rabia     (Dreamily.)

    Of truth.


    Your subjects were steeped deep in the waters of lies and corruption. You wanted them to be fair and truthful. You sought the advice of your viziers and formulated a plan. Now let me think.

    Alan       (Impatiently.)

    What proclamation?


    I recall it now. You had four gates in your little kingdom, through which your subjects entered in the morning to work and earn their living. At the suggestion of your viziers you posted sentries at each gate, sounding a proclamation that each person entering the city would be asked a question. Now my memory fails me again.

    Alan       (Under his breath.)

    Sufis, saints and mystics, I am cursed.


    I can see it clearly now. In the middle of the arena flanked by four gates was erected the gallows. The proclamation was that anyone entering the city would be asked a question, and if he replied truthfully he would be allowed to enter the city. And if not, he would be hanged on the gallows without a trial. Oh, these mists are hurting my eyes and clogging my memory.


    And I am roasting alive inside the fires of curiosity. Even my powers to display Artificial Intelligence on waters of imagination is fading.


    But I see clearly. These mists are cool and comforting. I can hear Wagner’s opera, Tannhauser. It is clearing the cobwebs in my memory. After the proclamation and the morning thereof when the gates of your kingdom were open, the first person to walk toward the East Gate was a Sufi by the name of Nasurdin. Where are you going, the Sentry asked?  To tell you the truth, I am going to be hanged on those gallows today, Nasurdin replied. You are lying, the Sentry protested.  Then hang me, isn’t that the proclamation of your king, if I am lying? Nasurdin smiled. But that would make it the truth, the Sentry stands there confused. Exactly, your truth! Nasurdin ambles away.

    Khidr     (Jubilantly.)

    Ah, the perception of truth! Everyone’s truth, illusive and multi-faceted.

    Alan       (Laughing.)

    Annihilation of truth.

    {The mists darken and descend. A wall of darkness envelops the Walhalla Ravine.)

    The End

  • 14 Oct 2021 10:10 AM | Shoshannah Boray

    ME TALKING 2 ME will be performed for the first time in Florida at Theatre Odyssey's One-Act Play Festival, October 14 through 17, at the Bradenton Kiwanis Theater at Manatee Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, Florida!

  • 14 Jul 2021 10:20 AM | Jennifer O'Grady

    My full-length play JUGGLING WITH MR. FIELDS was a finalist for Southwest Theatre Productions 2020 New Play Contest featuring a male lead who undergoes an emotional transformation.

  • 04 May 2021 10:08 AM | Cristina Bejan

    Cristina A. Bejan wins the 2021 Human Relations Book Award for her debut poetry collection "Green Horses on the Walls" (Finishing Line Press, 2020). She is awarded in two categories: Historical (Gold Winner) & Honorable Mention (Personal Growth Poetry).

  • 02 May 2021 8:21 AM | DONNA KAZ

    2020-2021 Winners of the Henley Rose Playwright Competition for Women:

    First Place Award ($1000.00): The Killing of Kings (part 1) by Nadira Simone

    Second Place Award ($500.00): The Docent by Donna Kaz

    Third Place Award ($250.00): Midnight Showing by Libby Heily

    Donna Kaz's Playwriting Intensive for Women begins this month (May 2021).  For more information:

  • 30 Apr 2021 12:37 PM | Dale Stamos

    Dale won Best Short Film award from Borrego Springs Film Festival 2021 for the short film she wrote and directed, "Entwined."

  • 24 Apr 2021 10:15 PM | Cristina Bejan

    Cristina A. Bejan, PhD (stage-name "Lady Godiva") just won the 2020 Independent Press Book Award for her debut spoken word poetry collection "Green Horses on the Walls" (Finishing Line Press). Bejan lives in Denver, Colorado where she runs the local & international arts collective Bucharest Inside the Beltway.

  • 06 Feb 2021 6:29 PM | Anonymous

    Finalist in Creative Nonfiction for Hummingbird in Underworld: Teaching in a Men's Prison.

ICWP Is a 501- c - 3 Non Profit  Organization, incorporated in the State of Ohio, USA

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