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13.9.11

The Kentucky Cycle - Part 1 - The Courtship of Morning Star

by Robert Schenkkan

The second play in this series of nine one-acts recycles only one character from the first - Michael Rowen, the ruthless Irishman. The play opens on a violent struggle between him and a young Cherokee girl called Knox Sanale, meaning 'Morning Star.' The girl he has chosen to become his wife.

Quite literally chosen, as he has physically dragged her from her home and tied her wrist to his with a piece of rawhide. Needless to say, she didn't have much of a say in this decision. Nothing will stop Rowen from getting what he wants. When she tries to escape, he chases her down and cuts the tendon in her ankle, assuring that she'll never be able to run away again.. because she'll never be able to run.
I cut the tendon cleanly. You'll always limp, but you'll walk soon enough just fine. no pain. But you'll never be able to run. Not fast enough. not far enough. (Beat. He raises his glass.) Here's to our firstborn. A son! (Beat.) Gimme a daughter, and I'll leave it on the mountain for the crows. 
I recently read this eye-opening article about the practice of sex-specific abortion in countries like India and China. It spoke about the pressures of having a son and how women will abort girl after girl until they get their precious son, causing there to be an imbalance in the ratio of men to women in society, leading to higher levels of aggression in the population. This practice of aborting only female babies was so sad to me and I was reminded of it in reading this play. I understand the importance of having a son to carry on the name, and to work the land, etc, but to so easily throw away human life simply because it is female - as if there is no possible benefit from having a daughter, seems so barbaric. It seems like something from another time, and yet, it still happens. Back in Michael's day they had to wait til the child was born to know if it was male or female but now modern technology has made it so easy to do away with life -  quicker and easier. As much as the human race learns and grows, it's not always for the better.

It's hard to feel anything for a man as merciless as Michael Rowen - who will steal and take whatever he needs to survive. And yet in a world where only the strong survive, he's doing what he has to do. In recalling the first man he ever killed, he says:
But there was no sport innit. See, I learned early, blood's just the coin of the realm, and it's important to keep strict accounts and pay your debts. That's all.
 I wouldn't want to be on his bad side..
Cherokee alphabet
Tomorrow's Play: The Kentucky Cycle - Part 1 - The Homecoming by Robert Schenkkan

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