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Contributed Writings:Dan

The Hunt of the Stag

Characters: Narrator

Part One

(The Stag, antlers held high on his head, stands center, facing audience)
Stag: Winter is upon the land! I smell it in the wind, see it in the falling leaves, feel it in my bones. It is not long now until the Hunter comes for me.
(exit the Stag, his right / our left. Enter the Narrator, our right)
Narrator: At the turning of the year, a dance as old as time takes place again. Something necessary, yet painful and overflowing with sorrow.
(exit the Narrator, his right / our left. Enter the Hunter, our right) Hunter: Winter is coming, and I must feed my people. Though the harvest is in and the larder stocked, I must hunt the Stag as is my duty.
(exit the Hunter)

Part Two

(The Stag stands to our left / his right, and the Hunter stands to our right / his left. The Stag still has his antlers held high, and the Hunter holds a bow.)
Stag: Now is the time for the hunt, but where is the Hunter? (The Stag looks out into the audience.)
Hunter: Now is the time for the hunt, but where is the Stag?
(The Hunter looks out into the audience.)
(The Stag crosses to the center, not looking at the Hunter.)
Stag: (loud voice) I am here!
(The Hunter looks up and around)
Hunter: He calls! (The Hunter moves halfway towards the center, turns and faces the Stag)
Hunter: I am here to hunt you.
Stag: You must catch me first.
(The Stag and Hunter now chase each other three times round in a circle, sunwise. It is not necessary to run, but if walking, there must be a stateliness and ritualistic feel to the chase.
At the end of the third circle, both stop. The Hunter takes aim, and lets an imaginary arrow fly. The Stag reacts as if hit, and sinks to the ground.)
Hunter: I have killed you.
Stag: Yes, you have slain me, in accordance with the Law.
Hunter: (remorseful) I wish it did not have to be this way.
(The Narrator steps forward) Narrator: Would you halt the flow of time? All things must die in their season.
Stag: This is my time to die. Death awaits all that lives. The ending gives meaning to the life.
Hunter: But cannot life have a meaning without death?
Narrator: Would you halt the change of the seasons? If there were no death, then there would be no change. Stag:Death is but the doorway, and all that lives passes through that door. Life that is lived with knowing death, not fearing it, becomes the greatest gift.
Hunter: But is not death the final end?
Narrator: Would you deny the cycle of life? Remember what you were taught: "Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that dies shall be reborn."
Stag:Death is not an ending or a beginning --- it is both. It is one of the most sacred of transitions, and to deny it is to be drowned in fear. (The Hunter drops his bow, but does not move to the Stag)
Stag:Please do not make my death meaningless.
Narrator:Step forward. Thank the Stag for the gift of his life, and claim the antlers for your own. (The Hunter looks to the Narrator for the first time)
Hunter:Who are you?
Narrator:I am what I am. I am the wisdom from the cauldron, the kingship from the stone, and He who taught Samildanach all that he knew. I am the child of my beloved, the loving partner by the sacred fires, and the wise old man in the cave. I am you, as I am the Stag, as I am a part of you all. (The last phrase is addressed to the audience) Hunter:(crossing to the Stag) With your permission?
Stag: (handing the antlers to the Hunter) You have that, and my blessings besides. Go, and honor this sacrifice through the winter.
Hunter:(crossing the antlers across his chest, bows to the Narrator) Thank you both for you words. I shall honor the Stag and You both, in my heart and my life. (exit the Hunter)
(The Stag, who has been sitting all this while, lies down until the Narrator crosses to him and touches him. At this, the Stag stands, bows to the Narrator, and leaves)
Narrator:Even in death, the seeds of new life are born. Death is but a place in the cycle, yet honor it we must. As the year fades, the antlers move as they are meant to, from one to another, in the promise of a new year and a new beginning. Blessed are you who join us here; you will always be remembered. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again! (The last sentence is said by All, as the Stag and Hunter join the Narrator.)