Imagine a monster in a cave, stamping and howling for food.

Imagine the first airplanes and disputed borders.

Imagine infants being fed into gaping mouths of the gods.

Imagine the south wall of Jerusalem, where the followers of Moloch gathered, their drums drowning out the screams of the sacrificed children as the knives thrust in.

Imagine Moloch’s appetite – it must be appeased. We make gestures.

Imagine the inflamed minds of the revolutionaries trying to bring down the invincible empires, their blood running with new medicines.

Imagine the paint on the faces of the miners, deflecting the bullets at Marikana. Imagine their bullet wounds.

Imagine the General and his favoured Consort, a Queen in her own right, but born on the wrong side of the border.

Imagine the bold and black line, conceived of as an act of violence, (as the poet put it) marking off the rich from the poor, the righteous from the unknowing, the ethical from the immoral, the heathen from the true believer, the polygamist from the celibate virtuous.

Imagine the black line justifying the journey of the unmanned flying machines.

Imagine Daedalus in his laboratory, like some early Leonardo Da Vinci, designing the first flying machines.

Imagine Icarus, still a toddler, his running bum covered in vine leaves.

Imagine the poet’s father, shaping the inside of toilet rolls, with makeshift wings and large elastic bands.

Imagine that skinny man triumphantly flying these awkward and unfinished objects to the ceiling.

Imagine the craftsman, delicately gluing balsa wood and bits of the most fragile paper, to fashion the most beautifully shaped helicopter, a joy to perceive, but, actually ill conceived, unable to fly and bound to the earth.

Imagine the tearing line – ugly but functional or wondrous but earth-bound.

Imagine the labyrinth, with its twists and secret turns, with only a thread keeping us all from eternal darkness.

Imagine the Queen, her passions enflamed beyond reason, mating with a flying bull.

Imagine the moment of deadly ecstasy and pleasure as the queen is gored to her end by her son the Minotaur.

Imagine Tiresias, advisor to anyone who will listen, growing great provocative breasts every seven years, out of his ancient grey curled chest.

Imagine that same seer, his nose pushed into the magic crack in the Greek mountain, inhaling the sweet, dangerous, addictive, and wondrous smoke.

Imagine the monster and Icarus, enamoured, dancing at the same time.

Imagine Icarus, triumphant and high from the smoke, riding on the monster at midnight.

Imagine the monster howling with burdensome delight.

Imagine Icarus blackmailing his father to give him wings – he will kill the monster, fly and the gods be damned.

Imagine the bullfight. Imagine the minotaur dead.

Imagine Icarus, his wax wings spread wide, soaring into the sky.

Imagine Icarus, burnt by the sun, plunging into the ocean.

Imagine the devious gods saving him – he must take the killing machines and destroy anyone who crosses the border.

Imagine the first airmen of the USA air force, in their clumsy biplanes, destroying the hopes of the Mexican revolutionaries.

Imagine the brilliant design – the bullets passing through the propellers as if by magic.

Imagine the fronts of these awkward planes painted in war paint to terrorise the enemy.

Imagine the terrible pilotless fly machines, operated by an overheated Icarus.

Imagine the writhing bodies.

Imagine a triumphant Icarus flying into the heart of the burning rays.

Imagine Icarus, burnt by the sun, plunging into the ocean.

Imagine Icarus failing and the gods destroying him. Will he survive the fall?

Imagine Daedalus facing choice – Icarus must die.

Imagine the airman injecting himself with heroin.

Imagine the airman’s dream.



About the Author

Malcolm Purkey began his career in South African theatre as company manager for Theatre Workshop '71 and in 1976 founded Junction Avenue Theatre Company. He joined the staff of the Wits drama school as Lecturer in 1984, becoming Professor and Chair in 2000. From 2005-2013 he was the Artistic Director of the Market Theatre, and in 2014 became Dean of AFDA Johannesburg, the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance. His published plays with Junction Avenue include Randlords and Rotgut (1980), Sophiatown (1988), and Love, Crime and Johannesburg (2000). Recently, he directed Little Foot for the Market Theatre.