Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis

Gwyneth Lewis was Wales’s National Poet from 2005-06, the first writer to be given the Welsh laureateship. She has published eight books of poetry in Welsh and English. Chaotic Angels (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) brings together the poems from her three English collections, Parables & Faxes, Zero Gravity and Keeping Mum. Her latest book is Sparrow Tree. Gwyneth wrote the six-foot-high words for the front of Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre (which are located just in front of the space-time continuum, as seen on Dr Who and Torchwood.). She won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod 2012.

Please visit Gwyneth Lewis’ website: www.gwynethlewis.com

 

Extract from Clytemnestra

by Gwyneth Lewis

First staged at Sherman Cymru April 2011

 
SCENE 6

CLYTEMNESTRA lies in bed, eyes open, staring at the ashes. FURY 1 paces around the room. She’s more embodied, her face now has a mouth. Throughout this scene, there should be a physical link reflecting the growing field of connection between CLYTEMNESTRA and the FURY.

 
FURY 1

Who’ll speak for the dead girls if I don’t?
The teenagers with skinny shoulders,
Out in party dresses, no coats,
The bodies are found on waste ground later,
Strangled with their own tights.

 
CLTYEMNESTRA

Leave me alone!

 
FURY 1

You see them in photos,
Bad haircuts, teeth too large, clothes
Chosen by Mum.

 
CLTYEMNESTRA

Sleep, I need sleep…

 
FURY 1

She’ll follow you there. She’s looking for you,
Where were you? Sit up so we can talk!

 
CLYTEMNESTRA doubles up in pain.

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

I must have done wrong…. I’m being punished.
I wasn’t maternal, I should have cuddled…

 
FURY 1

Me seems to recall, the Nestie not wanty
Girls…

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

Too clingy…

 
FURY 1

Boys much better… Mum knows
Where she is with them…

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

No!
That’s not quite right… The kids would go
To Agamemnon if they were hurt… We used to laugh
About it.

 
FURY 1

Did Clytemnestra mind?
She said she didn’t.

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

But I did.
I heard their voices soften when
They played with him, they giggled more.

 
FURY 1

So sentimental. Words are easy,
I deal in facts. Whom did she resemble?

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

Everyone said she looked like me.

 
FURY 1

She wasn’t his to give, she was yours!
Did Clytemnestra care for them when they were ill?

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

I did!

 
FURY 1

Who was it took her into danger?

 
CLTYEMNESTRA

Agamemnon! Clytemnestra is
The better parent!

 
FURY 1

Did Clytemnestra
Kill no, rape, then kill her daughter?
He took her from you.

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

No man should come
Between a mother and her daughter.

 
FURY 1

Love her to death they did… they fucked her
Fucked her till they broke her.

 
CLYTEMNESTRA lunges for the ashes.

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

Your death is bitter as your ashes.
My daughter. Iphigenia, come home
To Clytemnestra’s body, which is warm.

 
CLTYEMNESTRA crams ashes into her mouth. This is the first stage in which CLYTEMNESTRA and FURY become united physically, sharing the same will.

 
FURY 1

Now the whole drama comes into focus:
How shall we make Agamemnon pay?
There is a neighbour can come out to play,
In a worse state than you, he living in slurry.
Two messed-up clans that fucked each other
For fun and vengeance over years and years

 
Enter ELECTRA.

 
ELECTRA

What are you doing? Oh for pity’s sake…

 
ELECTRA rushes over to hold her mother to rock her. CLYTEMNESTRA continues to struggle, trying to hear what the FURY’s proposing.

 
FURY 1

Aegisthus. Go calling on him. Agamemnon’s
Cousin. He’ll understand, he’ll be
Your friend…

 
CLYTEMNESTRA

Daughters always belong to mothers.

 
ELECTRA

Oh, Clytemnestra.

 
Behind them the FURY expresses satisfaction in small insect movements.

 

Jonah Russell and Jaye Griffiths in Gwyneth Lewis' Clytemnestra
Nia Gwynne and Jaye Griffiths in Gwyneth Lewis' Clytemnestra
Rhian Blythe as Electra in Gwyneth Lewis' Clytemnestra

 
All text on this post: © Gwyneth Lewis
Published with the permission of Gwyneth Lewis