DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Lip Lock


Shelly Ebner


Mad Girl's Love Song

By Sylvia Plath


"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,

And arbitrary blackness gallops in:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed

And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:

Exit seraphim and Satan's men:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,

But I grow old and I forget your name.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;

At least when spring comes they roar back again.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

I was inspired by Sylvia Plath’s poem “Mad Girl's Love Song” and her connection to Ted Hughes to write “Lip Lock.”

(At rising, we see a semblance of an oven. The oven is a light installation omitting light from the inside giving the effect of a lack of realism.)


(The audience sees Sylvia Plath with her head in the oven. Her face is turned downstage so she is visible at the curtain. On the stage are an electric guitar and a chair. Throughout the play lighting is used to indicate a change in location.)


SYLVIA. I met him at a party last night -Ted Hughes. I went there searching for him. I found him standing by; thereby the wall. I introduced myself and he apologized for giving me such a bad review. He stood there with his big tiger face and weird slate eyes. A big tiger with a big tiger head, with a stupid look on its face saying,” How dare you to come at me?” Not ferocious but kind, kind of like with his whiskers sticking out, and odd ears that cannot hear anything, except for me singing a souped-up version of “The Chain Gang,” a Nina Simone song I just happen to know.

He touched me aggressively. Stuck me crisp like the tip of a pin. A shock went through me like a shock I've felt before. That shock that wakes me up from the darkness, the dead. That shoots me up into the hemispheres and brings me back again to a home I can bare. In his stare is where I find myself longing, reminding me I am living. Bringing me back to the sea and in the shells, I hear it and it tells me over and over again. (Sylvia begins throwing a ball against a wall, creating her own ritual and rhythm; she's casting a spell by reciting): Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. Hughes.

He had a lady waiting for him in the other room. So I bit him to mark him, give him something to remember me by, a feeling, a warning like two animals exploring each other.

Our moments together were maddening. Like mud, we began shaping one another. He's neither stronger nor fiercer than I. I must have him. I will think of him and nothing else. I will say his name over and over again. Say it and it will be done. Say it until his blood red heart is won. Until our hearts are one. Until he marries me, or no one. I’ll say it whispering into my pillow. Hear it buzzing in my ear like daddy. With mysterious mastery.

Perhaps I'll be busy, never speaking to him. Or perhaps I'll pounce on him directly, never liking being virgin after all; subtracting the obstacles while forgetting to eat. Until I see you again and I know we both feel stronger and it is new, new news. Newlywed, an understanding of my dark and inward styles. My worry rings, with beads that turn. My blank stare, open and calling you:

Sylvia Plath

Ted Hughes

Sylvia Hughes

It's you it's you it's you.

Ted Hughes Ted Hughes Ted Hughes. You.

You who possess all the many wonders of the world. A world that is all bleak and yet you are thunderous. You are not God. So what are you?


(BLACKOUT. Music interlude )




(It’s late at night in Sylvia’s living room. She is seated on the couch with a book and a drink, waiting for her husband to come home. Finally, Ted walks through the door, disheveled and shocked to find Sylvia sitting there alert. He tries small talk to avoid what he knows is coming. When Sylvia lived, the rules for men and women were proscribed and unequal; this difference shaped her and destroyed her. Sylvia is looking to settle this score. )


SYLVIA. An inventor needs an enemy. Someone to be better than, to be bettered.

I've always been afraid, afraid of anything that worked the first time. Edison intuition, self- taught, deaf. Only hearing the tapping of his own typewriter. Transcendent in the discipline. A native spark of intelligence. Equal parts visionary, Magician and witch.

I am an American. Americans always feel inferior to Europeans because of their fine schools, art, and literature. But Americans, we are inventors. You don't understand; you support. And people who support do not live on the same plain as the dream.

I am an arch light so bright you can't bear to be around me. Your shields are useless against my Edison intuition. Where there was once only a flame, a brave new world begins.

We can’t trust this poet Ted in a poet world we don't know how to trust. Taproot, edge mind ...

What did I do today? I made the soup. I cut the stalk. Creamed the carrots. Took a walk. All the while letting the hurt run out. I came back and I listened to crunchy sounds on the cutting board, de-celling the celery.

Are stewed tomatoes any good? I don't know so I threw them in too. No commitment, probably no good. I separated the garlic from the potato, then the boiling begins.

Opening that can of tomatoes reminded me of my first boyfriend, who persecuted me and pretty much ended the relationship because I had no idea how to use a manual can opener. I ended up screaming and crying. It’s abnormal to have this kind of grief when your parent dies but it’s perfectly acceptable to have it over the in-operation of a can opener. What am I even doing here, feeling horrible because he graduated from college and was adopted so he was allowed to be more fucked up than me? He gave me a comic book to read called “Death,” about a girl who goes searching for it, dressing in it, wearing it. Christian, his name was Christian. I met him at the Dome room in the middle of Boys Town in the gay area on Halsted.

Why am I telling you this? Because this is technicolor against your black and white. Small talk. I wanted to be independent… and now I'm earth hood and mother bound.

Where were you?

Where are you?

You’re home now... what's the big deal?

The deal is… dead. You ate the water and sunk us. Leave me alone… in any aspect…

Enjoy your destination.


(A voice in Sylvia’s head, VOICE OVER DEATH BED, speaks to her.)


SYLVIA. Do you know what it's like?

VOICEOVER DEATH BED. Sitting here waiting for you.

SYLVIA. Do you know what it's like? A bad day… with the….



SYLVIA. Do you know what it's like? You were once married and now you have a

VOICEOVER DEATH BED. Death wall over.

SYLVIA. Do you know what it's like? Do you? Do you know what it’s like? Do you know what it's like…?

VOICEOVER DEATH BED. With a hundred and three fever?

SYLVIA. Do you know what it's like? Being a girl who isn't allowed to deliver. Do you know what it's like? If you leave her here left to rot…

VOICEOVER DEATH BED. Death pillow: Death bed; Death pot.






(Sylvia snaps up from the oven startled as different memories flash before her. She is entering a soul station. A place where the soul goes after death to decide where it should go next. In a dream state Sylvia experiences events as they flash before her.)


SYLVIA. Edge. My last poem about a dead woman.Elm plank desk.Hand-painted cradle next to me. Outlawed, not enough published poetry. A sheep in foamy blacks Crackle and buried. If neurotic is: Someday I'll marry a poet like you and kill myself. We were both into astrology so we created that Ouija board, hoping it would bring us money by predicting the football results. Grammy came every summer. I demonstrated a talent for words and began speaking at an early age. My father diagnosed himself, disguised himself, and in a sense, he committed suicide because he could have prevented it. He never sought help from a doctor for his ailments. I was eight when he died.

I was eight when my first poem was printed In the Boston Herald.

“Hear the crickets in the dewy grass. Bright little fireflies twinkle as they pass.”

A short poem about what I see and hear on hot summer nights. I am two years ahead of everybody in school. Enrolled in a class with a tough English professor, who challenges me in the best of ways.


(Sylvia stands in front of her high school classroom. She is presenting her book report. She is in her element, enjoying the moment. Then the teacher disrupts her flow, and challenges her in the wrong way.)


SYLVIA. In the experiment showing the gap between attitudes and behaviors, a survey was conducted. Students in a theological seminary were recruited for a study on religious education.  They began by taking the survey in one building. And were then told to go to another building. And on the way they encountered a man slumped over in a doorway moaning. The experimenters’ manipulated the time constraint the students were under to get to the next building. Many did nothing. Some stepped over him trying to get to class on time. There are strict punishments for lateness.

I found the study of late students to be very interesting. In a way, I felt what they did to be very familiar. I feel similar to myself living here in this city. I take the train. One time I saw the same homeless women on the train twice in the same week. What are the odds of that happening? I was interested in helping her. I was mostly interested in making sure this person wasn't dead.

But conundrum, conundrum how do you help them? Do you physically touch them?

And in this case, my case I was doing a school performance that required me to be at the theater on time. And if I wasn't my lateness would certainly affect the others. The performers, the directors and the audience who were paying school tickets prices.

And most definitely I would be replaced if I said, "I'm sorry I'm late. Unfortunately, I had to help a homeless person."

So I guess what I am trying to say is that I think it may have been more beneficial for the teachers to teach these students that time is invaluable when you make the decision to become a seminary student. Your first priority is to help people. However, I'm sure Jesus wasn't under any time constraints when he was busy turning water into wine.




SYLVIA. I feel…


TEACHER. Sylvia, you’re quoting from the bible.

SYLVIA. So it's a book...this is a book report.


SYLVIA. I'm not talking about God. I'm talking about teachers. It's more of a question really for the society we live in. An eye into how we react under pressure. Asking, how are we as individuals meant to deal with such pressure? In closing my father taught me to be individual.

TEACHER. Sylvia by the way, our new student Marjorie recently lost her father. You might be good friends. Maybe the two of you should spend some time together and share your feelings.

SYLVIA. This isn't Marjorie’s book report. I understand she's lost a parent too, but we are not the same. I don't feel like her about it, we're different, I feel differently... then she does...I'm sure.

Anyway, this book report is mine, not Marjorie’s, it's my book report that I prepared. May I continue? Please….

It does exist, it's not just mere property or royalty or any of that. It's in your head, it’s for love, it’s for compatibility and there is something that is out there that is for you. Whatever we think, whatever we do, so thou we art. Or something like that. My father taught me to be individual and that's what I'm trying to do. I’m not thinking about where the information is coming from, just as long as it's recited in the most proper and beautiful way so people can hear it and understand it.

In closing, closing…I think that a more emotional survey is in need here for any real growth to be examined. Maybe by asking different questions, we can find the truth. How did it feel stepping over someone to get to class on time? How do you feel about your choice now? We do have a choice, right?






SYLVIA. Publication, success, hard work, persistence, submitting to hundreds of periodicals, time after time rejection slips that cause doubting, fearing loss of talent. Developing patterns throughout life. Stress and illness. More stress feeding upon, leading me spiraling downward. I recover slowly, success bullies me and buoys me!




(Sylvia is late to work, discovers she missed a chance meeting with her favorite poet Dylan Thomas. It sends her into total head-spin.)




SYLVIA. I'm sorry I'm late. What did I miss? I missed lunch with Dylan Thomas. (“If I stop I go inward I go mad.” ) Where can I find him? He’s gone. Where did he go? He's still around obviously he was just here in the office. I’m never late. It was meant for us to meet and I missed it. I missed my chance. When I’m not on, I’m off. I will find him, I have to have the things that are meant for me.





(Sylvia is rocking her baby and telling a story. After a while she fades away.)


SYLVIA. And these worlds are for told to be reborn. After the events of an immense battle between the gods and their enemies. And the world is enveloped in flames, only to be reborn a new. There the surviving gods will meet and the land will be fertile and green. Just like Alice in Wonderland. Mommy isn't crying because she isn't a superhero anymore. Mommy is crying because she always was a superhero and just didn’t know it. 

Things have changed and now I'm really unsure and lonely in this world wandering from place to place barely functioning. It isn’t your fault. What do you do when someone gives you something to wear and you don't like the way you look in it. Or what it represents. But you love the person and you want to make it work. It's what he wants and it is what you want. I am too big and out of proportion for the tiny box. I’m not over it. Over-distanced, feeling too much without reason. I do not want your reasons. I did this to myself. I conjured it all up and now I want nothing because what is there to want. It just evades me and magnifies in some other area that I don't need it to. I need a symbol, a sign; Alice’s rabbit might as well be standing here.


(A rabbit appears as another part of Sylvia's personality, an inner voice, her guide.)


RABBIT. As a rabbit, I am signifying luck, energy, and success. I am a good omen. As a rabbit, I point to your sexual urges, gentleness, and idealism. I am your threatened freedoms. I am a sign that you are connected to the spiritual world, so take my guidance.
SYLVIA. I’m frightened. 
RABBIT.  If I'm frightening, can I be associated with your emotions of uncertainty? Or is it because I suggest an unusual connection with your lover?

Want to go explore a new world? Let me lead you down the rabbit hole. Let's delve into the under. Come follow the white rabbit. What’s the matter? It is an unthinking decision to follow the White Rabbit. It leads only to new adventures. Perhaps you’re not taking into account the "unthinking" nature of this choice. After all, it is a choice. And you’ll make it perfectly foolhardy. You'll probably be killed by the fall. I have no idea where you will be going, what you will be facing, or how you'll get home. Going down the rabbit hole is a trip, a one-way trip – there is an entry, but there is no exit.


(The light of the oven beams and beckons Sylvia closer. A recording is played by Sylvia Plath reciting her poem Medusa.)


Selection from Medusa

By Sylvia Plath

Paralyzing the kicking lovers. Cobra light

Squeezing the breath from the blood bells

Of the fuchsia. I could draw no breath,

Dead and moneyless,


Overexposed, like an X-ray

Who do you think you are?

A communion wafer? Blubbery Mary?

I shall take no bite of your body,

Bottle in which I live,

The ghastly Vatican

I am sick to death of hot salt.

Green as eunuchs, your wishes

Hiss at my sins.

Off, off eely tentacle!

There is nothing between us.



DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.