The Persons of the Play
The Stupendous STILTSKIN
JEAN-LUC of Picardy
Enter [CHORUS as] Prologue
CHORUS: In London Town lies our scene. Near the Thames,
within the confines of a ramshackle
abode, our gaseous hero resides.
Destitute, drunk, and mildly deranged, he
spends his days railing against this jaundiced
world. In his youth he was the King’s fart man—
the most spectacular flatulist in
all of Albion. Not since the days of
Roland the Farter has there been one so
esteemed for his mastery of the wind.
His star fell in the King’s court; banished he
was from all he’d ever known. Thereupon
he became an itinerant, and ne’er
stopped searching for a way back to the top.
Now, bedecked in his most extravagant
popinjay attire, he once more sets
out to dazzle the masses, not as a
flatulist, but as a mentalist. Exit
Enter [The Stupendous] STILTSKIN performing in a public square
STILTSKIN: Now for my next bold prophecy. In the
not too distant future, I foresee a
lamentable tragedy occurring.
I know not the who, what, where, and wherefore,
but mark me kind citizens: I am not
HECKLER: Hey magician!
STILTSKIN: May thy plow seize, sirrah! I am not some
miserable magician: I am a
mentalist. Not that any of you vile,
confounded knaves would know the difference!
HECKLER: Weren’t ye a flatulist for the King
before thou becam’st a magic man?
CROWD MEMBER: Yea, he beeth that fart man of renown
who once dazzled the King’s court with unmatched
displays of flatulence mastery.
STILTSKIN: Sorry, but I do not engage in that
silliness any longer: I am a
mentalist now, not a silly-time man.
RABBLE: [shouting severally] Thou stinkst at the mental magic, fart man!
STILTSKIN: Oh really? How is this for stinking, ye
worthless conglomeration of execrable
[STILTSKIN turns around, grabs his ankles, and bellows out a mighty trumpet of gas]
RABBLE: [breaks into thunderous laughter and applause, some cry tears of joy]
STILTSKIN: Fie upon my life! O Lord in Heaven!...
Wherefore hast thou abandoned me to this
cruel ignominy? Exit
CHORUS: With the swiftest speed our scene shifts to the
frosty desolation of Dartmoor, where
our hero has taken to holing up
in a delve. An anchorite he’s become—
solemn contemplation his new calling.
The damage has been done, for him there is
nothing more to be won. Exit
Enter STILTSKIN and JEAN-LUC [of Picardy] with a walking stick
JEAN-LUC: Ça va, mon fils?
STILTSKIN: Excuse me?
JEAN-LUC: Je l’ai dit, ‘Ça va, mon fils?’
STILTSKIN: Speak American, goddamn frog!
JEAN-LUC: My apologies, I am a stranger
in this land. My name is Jean-Luc. I
hail from France. It’s [vaguely points in the direction of Crampkin Hollow]
over that way.
STILTSKIN: Thou art complected like a blackamoor
from Prester John’s Land! I always knew
Frenchers were a strange breed.
JEAN-LUC: Yea, it is true, and not a fault. I have
been scorchéd by the torrid sun for nigh
on six-and-forty years. Verily, I
was a sea captain once. I spent many
years sailing to the far corners of the world—
once even as far as to the land of
Pliny’s fabled dog-headed men.
STILTSKIN: Why are ye here? There is nary a man
here, besides myself. I have befriended
only the rocks. They speak to me. They have
seen much and impart their wisdom to me.
JEAN-LUC: I have become a wanderer. Why art
thou here, my son?
STILTSKIN: ’Tis a long story… I was a farter
once, in the service of the King. We fell
out over a wench, canst thou believe it?
I tupped his favorite ewe after one
of my fart-a-thons. She was taken with
my prodigious talent, so I took her.
His Majesty caught us in the midst of
some spirited conjugation.
JEAN-LUC: A flatulist, eh? That is a noble
profession. The gaseous arts are not to
be looked down upon. My dear departed
father was Le Fartere in the court of
STILTSKIN: No shit?
JEAN-LUC: Oui… Please continue.
STILTSKIN: Thenceforward I was down-and-out. I roamed
the streets of Eastcheap day and night.
Drinking sack became my life, until one
fated day I happened to cross paths with
an old, wizened ment’list who called himself
the Hyperbolic Hackman. Little did
I know that my life was about to change.
Hackman introduced me to the strange
and wonderful art of mentalism.
Unfortunately, he was killed in a
freak ox cart accident before he could
teacheth me anything of substance.
JEAN-LUC: I can train thee in the fantastical
arts of mental magic, my boy.
STILTSKIN: Thou canst?
JEAN-LUC: Aye. I dabbles a bit in the mental
STILTSKIN: Huzzah! What a wondrous happenstance! Exeunt
Enter STILTSKIN and JEAN-LUC climbing the steepest hill in Dartmoor
JEAN-LUC: Push it to the limit, my dear fellow!
STILTSKIN: And why are we doing this?
JEAN-LUC: Come on, matey! ♫ Getting strong now! ♫
[ten days later]
STILTSKIN: My training is complete. I am ready
to go back to London now. I am a
magic man, unequivocally.
JEAN-LUC: Make it so, my boy. Make it so. Exeunt
CHORUS: With new-found confidence our hero
flies with celerity back to London.
Gone are the sunken and red-rimmed eyes of
a bedlamite, and in their place peaceful
vernality resides. The Frenchman’s quick
and efficient lessons have provided
Stiltskin with the essentials he needs to
succeed in the cutthroat world of
mental magic. Exit
Enter STILTSKIN performing in a public square
STILTSKIN: For my next dazzling demonstration of
mentalism mastery, I shall speak with
the dead. I will need a volunteer. Which
of ye shall be my volunteer?
VOLUNTEER: I volunteer.
STILTSKIN: My kind sir, hast thou lost a close friend or
family member recently?
VOLUNTEER: Yes, too many. The great pox is rampant
in these parts. I’m sure many of us have lost
close friends and family.
STILTSKIN: Aha! So thou hast lost someone then! How
do I do it, folks!? I’m the [in singsong voice] Stupendous
[Enter INQUISITOR with GUARDSMEN]
INQUISITOR: By royal decree of His Majesty,
this blasphemer is under arrest for heresy!
Take him away to the gaol, boys!
STILTSKIN: Oh. This is most lamentable.
Exeunt GUARDSMEN with STILTSKIN in chains
CHORUS [is out for a smoke break] Exit
Enter INQUISITOR and STILTSKIN in the torture chamber
INQUISITOR: I have seen heretics from all walks of
life during my storied career doing
torture. But none of them were as vile
as thou art,Stiltskin!
STILTSKIN: [hanging in a strappado]
INQUISITOR: Time for thee to answer some questions!
STILTSKIN: You ain’t gettin’ shit outta me.
INQUISITOR: Beest thou a magician, Stiltskin?
STILTSKIN: Nay, my good sir: I am a mentalist.
INQUISITOR: And what is that?
STILTSKIN: I prognosticate things with precision,
among other talents.
INQUISTOR: Hmm. Beest thou a flatulist, Stiltskin?
STILTSKIN: I was once the greatest flatulist in
all the land once upon a time.
INQUISITOR: Thou freely admit’st thou wert a fart man?
STILTSKIN: Aye, every inch a fart man.
INQUISITOR: Then thou art a magician and a fart
man! Both be blasphemous occupations
that affront the sacrifices of our Lord
and Saviour! Thou shalt burneth like a
STILTSKIN: Before thou burn me at the stake I
need to tellest thou one last thing.
INQUISITOR: Yes, what is it?
STILTSKIN: Com’st closer. Near my ass.
[STILTSKIN whips around and belches out a molten-hot fart from his ass into INQUISITOR’s face]
CHORUS: The death procession marches closer to
the appointed spot where our hero will
meet his maker. Barefooted, rope around
his neck, nothing now stands between him and
his date with fire. The stake is set, the
kindling’s stacked. It wasn’t s’posed to end like this. Exit
Enter STILTSKIN tied to the stake and INQUISITOR with a torch
INQUISITOR: Any last words before I send thee to
the fiery pits of hell?
STILTSKIN: I am resigned to my destiny as
a martyr. Or more like fartyr, amirite!?
INQUISITOR: [lights STILTSKIN on fire]
STILTSKIN: O I die! [He dies] Exeunt with the body