Play Archive

Inheritance

In Memory of Sandra Bland

CHARACTERS: MAYA – A Latina

CHORUS – of Latina

 

MAYA: This is my family history. As my mother told me As her mother told her. Repeated As Mexicans do At the table

CHORUS: Truth bled In red chile Slathered on thick tortillas

MAYA: Because that’s what Mexicans do.

CHORUS: Eat and repeat Their truths Over food

MAYA: Tears land in jail cell Albuquerque New Mexico Where in police custody great-grandfather Can’t speak Can’t defend The body He can’t Control 12 year-old son crawls into casket great-grandmother dies of broken heart

CHORUS: Muy joven So young Eat and repeat inherited pain Tears land 2 in jail cell Tears that make An ocean

MAYA: So when you ask me, Officer, for my license and registration

CHORUS: My blood’s been here before.

MAYA: You let him die Of a stroke In jail Because you thought He was a drunk Indian.

CHORUS: You let him die Of a stroke In jail Because you thought He was a drunk Indian. NO, I AM NOT DRUNK NO, I AM NOT DRUNK

MAYA: NO, I AM NOT DRUNK But yes, Officer There’s Indian in my veins I know because I was raised in an ocean of tears.

______________________________________________

Elaine Romero, award-winning playwright, has had her plays presented at the Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Kennedy Center, across the U.S. and abroad.  Elaine is a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists. She holds her MFA from UC Davis. She is an Assistant Professor of playwriting and dramaturgy at the University of Arizona.

LA SIDACEANERA: Una Pachanga Y Muchos Cuentos

Casting

8 – 12 Latina/o/x actors: A mix of US Caribbean, Mexican, Central American & South American professional actors and community members.

 

2 actors should be native Spanish speakers

2 actors should be trans, though the trans actress need not necessarily be cast as Estetica.

2 actors should be youth (1 teenage female, 1 early 20s male)

 

 

 

Stage is set with 3 banquet tables, 2 downstage left and right and 1 centerstage. There are streamers, flowers, a cake. La Enfermera, a nurse in scrubs and holding a present, enters from back of house. She places regalo on table and admires set up, enjoys this quiet moment.

 

La Enfermera

I had a lil scare in 2001. I was drawing blood from this HIV positive patient whose viral load was falling off the chart. As I was pulling out the needle, she kicked or moved or something and I scratched myself with the needle. So, as a nurse, I’ve never had a needle stick and then to be stuck with a needle that was contaminated by such a high viral load, I got very scared. I was scared cuz I got stuck but you kinda feel like you don’t want to tell nobody. But as a nurse, I knew I had to. I took HIV meds for about a month or 6 weeks and after that was still very negative. And I don’t have to but I get checked every year. I went through a lil bit of what my patients tell me when they first found out and how your whole world crumbles out from under you. Oh my God, who’m I gonna tell? I can’t tell my family, then they’re not gonna want to hug me. It was very, very frightening. It was just a good thing that I was single and not involved in a sexual relationship. We would have had to have been using condoms and all this other stuff and how do you explain to your husband? It was very, very, very, very traumatic. But not for long. I got a lil taste, just a small taste, of what it’s like, what my clients go through every day.

 

She exits as a blast of music and then another woman enters the stage. She has on a tiara but is not otherwise dressed for the part of a quinceanera and is also older than 15. She addresses audience.

 

La Sidaceanera

Shhhhhhh! Only one other person knows that I’m HIV positive. My hairdresser, La Estetica, y pos watchale, cuz here she comes.

 

Through lobby and then passing through audience with much flourish and fanfare, saying hi to those she knows y tirando besitos a su adoring public, La Estetica arrives on stage, milking audience for more.

 

La Estetica

Aplauso!

 

La Sidaceanera

(Interrupting applause) Today is my day, Este. (To audience) I’ve been HIV since 94. I’ve lived a completely reclusive life. Six months ago I decided I needed to turn that around, come out, become part of the community. We need to stop the stigma. Get rid of the homophobia, but it’s so thick in the Latino community. We’re knee deep in it. We must make sure people are dealt with dignity and respect.

La Estetica

Si si si mi reina La Sidceanera! Eso! Aplauso! (After applause dies down.) Pos fijate que you’re right that la comunidad latina es thick con todo esa mierda pero ju don’t gotta be so pesada ‘bout it. It’s a party. Plus, ju no la unica mujer positiva en este tarima. I was diagnosed con la VIH 12 years ago. A dozen divalicious years! Ap …

La Sidaceanera

(Cutting Estettica off) Mira, ya llegan mis madrinas. I asked some of my health care providers and amigos y camaradas del support group to stand with me to celebrate my debut como La Sidaceanera.

Lady Who’s Seen A Lot arrives and La Enfermera returns having changed into party-appropriate wear.

 

Lady Who’s Seen A Lot

(To audience, taking them in) I could hear you Hiv-viejas in the parking lot. Me, I’ve been hiv positive for thirteen years, I was diagnosed in 96, 97. Been away, awhile, been busy, not knowing I was gonna be raising a great niece and nephew, I’m like a mama now.

 

La Estetica

Si mi Lady, and looking good mamita. (To Enfermera) Y usted? Yo soy La Estetica, la fairy aidsmother de este pachanguita. (They shake hands and kiss on cheeks.)

 

La Enfermera

Mucho gusto, yo soy La Enfermera. Been a nurse for 18 years. Gracias por invitarme Sidaceanera

 

La Sida

Pos claro girl, you’re better than a cherry-flavored lifesaver y mucho mas importante para mi comunidad poz. C’mon, let’s go sit before the rest of the guests show up and eat up all the carnitas, pinches gueyes.

 

They all laugh and Sida, Este, La Enfermera and Lady go to sit at a table.Music starts up. At that, 3 men enter from one side of stage: El Homie, Sas! o Sass & RayRay the GayBoi. From the other side El Mesero enters and crosses, RayRay cruises him hard and El Mesero and Sas! o Sass lock eyes and search each other’s faces, thinking, as Libertango comes on and Grace Jones sings, “Strange, I’ve seen that face before.”

 

El Homie

(Sniffing at the air) Mmmmm, huele a carnitas y mujeres perfumadas. Dale gas, hombres, let’s get platos and a good table to make ojitos at the hainas. Just what a OG like me needs, a old school quince, menos the crashers y pleitos.

 

RayRay the GayBoi

Nah, Homie, this ain’t like them fiestas, we’re celebrating La Sidaceanera’s saliendo del HIV closet. Plus, me and Sas!, are here for the papis, what what. (To audience, holding up his cell) I’m RayRay the HotGayBoi. Holler! Check me out on tumbler, twitter, instagram, snapchat kickit, grindr. I’m CuerpoLimpio MenteSucio. For the reals.

 

Sas! o Sass

She’s coming out the HIV poz closet? (To audience) I’m not out. Obviously, I’m out as a gay guy, I don’t know if it comes across, but I’m not out about my status. Well my folks and friends know, hasta mi buelita, pero el publico, aww hells to the no.

 

RayRay the GayBoi

My dad is old school. I’m the only boy and for my father to accept that I’m gay, first, before the fact that I have hiv – hijole, that’s what’s up, what’s been up since I tested poz 2 years ago, right around my 19th birthday.

 

El Homie

Well everybody in San Anto knows about me on account of all the talks and presentations I give at schools, clinics, hasta the police academy. Imagine that ish? A Mexican from the southside, a con and an ex-junkie at that, who usedta roll on the east with my boys and been in and out of Texas Department of Corrections and Justice facilities for much of my adult life talking about HIV and Hep C, education and prevention, harm reduction and safe sex to hundreds of police officers with no guns being drawn. That right there is real achievement for raza. I see mocosos on the bus. They say, “Hey Sir, how you doing? How you holding up?” I say, I’m doing my thing, baby. Keeping my feet to the ground. Now my feet needs some rest and my stomach needs some food. C’mon, they’re gonna run out of carnitas y esas if we stand here talking to the people all nochita long man. Pos vamonos gallos.

 

Someone lets out a grito. Music starts up. RayRay and Homie exit, Sas! stays in place, looking a bit stunned. El Mesero crosses upstage back and forth with trays and plays throughout Sas! o Sass’ monologue.

 

Sas! o Sass (VO)

(As Sas paces and frets, we hear his frenetic thoughts.) This quince, Sidaceanera, event, experience, whatevs, is really taking me out of my comfort zone. There are a zillion Mexican restaurants in this city and the one Mexican restaurant that I work for is the one that catered this event. And I walked in and I saw El Mesero and I went arghhhh, I just lost a job. That just cost me $500 worth of work. I lived in New York for 16 years, I lived in Europe for a long time. That mentality is still in my head. But now that I’ve been back to San Antonio, my grandmother, every time I say I want to do the things for the AIDS Foundations she says, “Ah, no, no puedes hacer eso” cuz she’s afraid of what will happen to me and my family and my friends. And I’m like alright I get that. So I guess I’ve almost gone back into the closet and I didn’t realize it until I realized that I cared what El Mesero thinks. It’s odd cuz I’m from New York but not anymore. And being here you kinda do as the Romans do. I want to slowly inch out of the HIV poz clos but I’m really uncomfortable right now. And I’m thinking who’s he gonna tell.

 

Some silence. La Sidaceanera sees Sas! standing alone and waves him over.

 

La Sidaceanera

Hey Sas! bring your sassy ass over here and wish me a happy Sidaceanera loco.

 

Sas! returns to his sassy self and sashays over to La Sidaceanera, hugs and kisses and introductions following, he sits and joins her and La Estetica, La Enfermera and the Lady Who’s Seen A Lot.

 

Sas!

What you lovely ladies discutiendo?

 

La Estetica

Nuestra problema eternal e infinito.

 

Sas!

Let me guess

 

All

MEN!

 

Lady

My husband was a good man, a real good man. Found out he was positive and that he had infected me when we were boyfriend and girlfriend. And I still married him. He passed on in 97.

 

La Enfermera

Lastima, que en muchisimo paz se descanse. Lady’s esposo was the first patient with full blown Aids que I ever treated.

 

 

La Sidaceanera

Mi esposo no fue tan good como lo tuyo mi Lady. Pos fijate, I was diagnosed in 94 and the way that I found out was that I was digging through stuff and doing housework, housecleaning and found paperwork that my husband was HIV positive. And I not only found out that, I found out that he was sleeping around.

 

La Estetica

Este rata de dos patas gets no aplauso!

 

La Sidaceanera

He had no intention of letting me know whatsoever. And so, without him knowing it, I went and got tested and found out I was positive.

 

La Estetica

I still don’t know how I got infected, pero ni modo, asi es la vida y la vida mia es bien regia. I found out que soy positiva when I was beginning to transition from Eric a La Estetica. And I couldn’t tell nobody. I’m a Catholic girl de Laredo. Nombre! I grew up, went to college, graduated. This could not happen a mi, eso shouldn’t happen to me. Pero it did, mira no mas. Pero yo no soy una categoria, no soy una narcotraficante ni una drogera, no soy puta de la calle, ni fuera callejera en mi ninez o cuando salio como un gayboy en tiempos bien pasados. Estoy harta de ser una stigma, yo soy una persona, una mujer trans si, pero ordinaria tambien.

 

Sas

Honey, nothing about you is ordinary.

 

La Estetica

Muchisimas gracias amor but I thought we were talking about los menzez.

 

Mi Lady

I wanna dance. Would you do me the honor La Sidacenera?

 

La Sidaceneara

El honor es all mia mujer.

 

They ALL laugh and the ladies go off to dance leaving RayRay and Sas to gossip and cruise.

 

RayRay

Have you seen El Mesero? He puts the chauuu in chulo.

 

Sas!

Yeah I seen him. Not sure we’re his type.

 

RayRay

Speak for yourself dude.

 

Sas!

Y El Homie?

 

RayRay

No se. I think he’s talking bout the bad old days with some other hiv veteranos.

 

Sas!

Shall we mingle con la gente?

 

RayRay

Totes. (As they exit stage into audience, RayRay picks someone out in audience.) Hey papito, don’t I know you from the Ryan White care council? Looking firme en tu tejana y botas. That cocodrilo or snake? Save me a slow dance, eh?

 

They exit. Music shifts. La Sidaceanera and Lady dance back on to stage. They are laughing, but the song begins to bring back memories for Lady.

 

La Sidaceanera

This is the best quince that isn’t really a quince ever! No crees mi Lady? Hello, tierra a mi Lady, do you read me?

 

After a beat.

 

Lady

Sorry Sida, it’s just, this song, reminds me of growing up, here en San Anto, with my sister. I got sick for the first time, real bad, in the year 2000. No one could predict I would still be here, 10 years despues, sposed to be somewhere else.

 

La Sidaceanera

You’re doing good my Lady, good and healthy and good for the community. And tus babies.

 

Lady

But why am I here? The year 2003, my older sister was diagnosed with lung cancer. She didn’t live long.

 

La Sidaceanera

Triste.

 

Lady

And I told her, it was supposed to be me, not you.

 

La Sidaceanera

What did she say?

 

Lady

That her journey was done. That I was here for a reason. I told her, No, no, you got your two boys. She never smoked in her life. She was a teacher. Kinder. Taught so many kids.

 

La Sidaceanra

Una maestra, just like you, you’ve taught so many of us mujeres con VIH y Sida how to keep on keeping on. C’mon, you came up with our positive brown woman slogan, Dale gas! Not grief.

 

They both laugh, Lady reaches into purse or pocket for tissue, pulls out some lil toy belonging to one of her kids.

 

 

 

 

Lady

I didn’t know I was gonna wind up taking care of her grandkids. So here I am after all these years, raising a 6 years old and 3 years old. I love them to death. I don’t care what people think about me, they can talk all they want. I’m good.

 

La Sida

You mi Lady, are great.

 

Lady

I did my mistakes, learned from my mistakes. No ones perfect. No one. But I love myself and I’m thankful I’m here.

 

La Sida

Me too. Even though it’s hard out here for a Sidaceanera.

 

Lady

I hope I’m here so many years to see my lil ones at least graduate high school.

 

A moment. The last of our guests arrive: La Obrera Social, Indocumentada, Su Hija Mayor, El Activist Bien Jodon, El Joto Prodigal. A flurry of kisses and well wishes.

 

La Sidaceanera

Gracias a todas y todos por venir a mi coming out party.

 

Obrera

Te ves muy bien.

 

La Sidaceanera

Yous too Obrera, Indocumentada y Su Hja Mayor. How old are you now Hija?

 

Su Hija Mayor

15, a quince just like you Sida.

 

El Activist

What about us boys? Don’t we get any of the love?

 

La Sidaceanera

Por su, El Activist Bien Jodon. Lookin good and feroz como always. How you doing El Joto Prodigal?

 

El Joto Prodigal

Good good thanks. Me and este Activist Bien Jodon just got back from a national meeting, a conference of Latina and Latino AIDS public health workers, service providers, infected, affected. It was awesomesauce.

 

Su Hija Mayor

(Knowingly making a joke) Hay cake?

 

Indocumentada

Si Hija, es una quince, aunque es una bien distincta. Deben tener postre, pero no seas tan gacha mija.

 

 

Lady

There’s cake – tres leche, carnitas, arroz, frijoles, ensalada, tortillas, rolls, pan dulce y café and even an ice sculpture of an HIV positive swan.

 

El Activist

How you know the swan doesn’t have AIDS?

 

They all laugh and move to sit at tables. El Activist rises to make a toast.

 

El Activist

I’m a native San Antonian and I was diagnosed with the HIV in 1985 and converted to AIDS in 1987. Back in the early 80’s this, the virus and the disease was a white gay man’s virus and disease. It is no longer a white gay man’s problem, issue, virus and disease. It is all people. In our country, it’s spreading from the east coast to west coast, north to south. It’s here, my hometown, San Antonio. And I live on the westside and its affecting los mexicanos. We are the majority of those individuals here in San Antonio that are infected and living with HIV and AIDS. It’s a disease for all Americans, whether we’re white, black or brown, gay/lesbian, transgender, whatever.

 

La Estetica, Sas!, El Homie & RayRay enter and take seats as El Activist finishes his brindis.

 

La Estetica

Bien dicho Activista Bien Jodon. Aplauso!

 

Sas!

What she said.

 

El Homie

Dang man you holding it down for the poz n aids homies from the east, west, south hasta even the northside. Respect.

 

RayRay

Word. Fight the power. And check out my blog, Sexy, Sana y Sucio, cuz a sexy pozbody, a healthy attitude and a dirty mind are terrible things to waste. (Picking out a man in audience.) Like you with all that swagger in the third row.

 

La Estetica

La Enfermera had to go back to the hospital but she sends saludos a todas y todos.

 

El Homie

A healer, a warrior’s work is never done son.

 

La Estetica

Si, tienes razon corazon, pero yo soy hija, bien mono, no son.

 

El Homie

Disculpe Senorita, figure of hood speech, my bad. Hey what’s up Prodigal. How ya livin?

 

El Joto Prodigal

Day by day pero sigo siendo el rey.

 

 

RayRay

That’s what’s up. Sup Su Hija? How’s high school? Surprised to see you hear.

 

Su Hija

Goin good – I’m in the marching band and on the debate team. I’m here to support my mom.

 

La Obrera Social

Ya’know, I’ve worked in the community 23 years as a frontline worker and it’s always good to see an HIV positive person, ademas una madre latina, get full support from su familia. Recuerdas Indocumentada cuando empezastes a venir a la clinica cuando Su Hija Mayor fue bien chiquitita?

 

Indocumentada

Si Senora Obrera, como fue ayer, pero tambien como fue en un pasado bien lejos y antiguo. Como mucho de ustedes saben yo fue infectada ante una transfusion del sangre. Es dificil. te cambia la vida completamente. Si en el futuro me tengo que regresar a mi pais puedo conscientizar a la gente de los riesgos. Es bien dificil aceptar la enfermedad mas cuando tienes hijos, hijas. La experiencia ha sido demasiado dificil porque trabaje por catorce anos en salud y yo me decia porque ‘stoy enferma, porque eso me esta pasando a mi. Porque ahora no hay nadie que puede curar a mi.

 

Sas!

Tienes mucho razon y claridad Indocumentada. HIV and AIDS are diseases of love and trust. That’s how you get it Su Hija. You trust someone like RayRay did. You love someone como Lady y su man. It was the act of love en mi caso. Even a transfusion like your mami’s situation, she was trusting the medical system to help her.

 

La Estetica

Si si si. Eso no se necesita aplauso. Mejor un momento de silencio.

 

El Homie

I was a good kid. College bound, the only one of my mom’s kids to graduate from high school. But I didn’t get to go to college. Had to work. Eventually got caught up, mobbed up, and had to put in work, na’mean? I got the tatts, the scars, the record to show. Long story short, but I started doin dirt and then dirt was done to me. I been, I was diagnosed in 2003 in Baltimore, Maryland. I’m pretty much here today, the majority of my life, my adult life I’ve taken from people. Me doing this today is, I am just trying to give back what I’ve taken. Heroin that was my demon. When I lost my home in Corpus I moved back here to San Antonio and I got hooked on heroin and I was living in the Victoria Courts, if any of ya’ll remember the VC Courts. If you couldn’t find me on the streets of San Antonio you’d find me in Texas Department of Corrections and Justice. I made it a life habit. But then I told myself they weren’t gonna catch me. I’m gonna run. I went back to the east coast where I have a lot of family. A man approached me out there, a very good friend of mine to this day. He has a foundation and works with a lot of drug addicts.

 

As El Homie narrates, RayRay becomes his young self, Lil Homie and El Mesero the Counselor.

 

Counselor

Would you like to get an HIV test?

 

Lil Homie

I don’t ride like that, I just shoot dope.

 

 

Counselor

I can see that from your hands. I can imagine what your arms look like.

 

Lil Homie

My arms look like a shooting gallery baby cuz I’m a dope fiend. This is what I do.

 

Counselor

If you take this free test you get a free cup of coffee.

 

El Homie

And me being mexicano

 

Lil Homie

If it’s free, it’s for me

 

El Homie

Right?! It was cold that day, so I said

 

Lil Homie

Vamonos. Took the test, got the coffee.

 

El Homie

But I didn’t wait for my results

 

Lil Homie

I left cuz I needed my fix.

 

Counselor

I went back out there a couple of days later and I found him.

 

El Homie

And when he finds me he tells me

 

Counselor

Someone needs to talk to you. (To audience) but I couldn’t tell him who it was.

 

Lil Homie

I thought it was Texas Department of Corrections, Texas will pick you up anywhere you at. Don’t mess with Texas, ain’t just a slogan.

 

El Homie

I got paranoid on my way to the foundation but then I decided

 

Lil Homie

It is what it is, ain’t nothing gonna take me.

 

El Homie

They take me into this room and the lady looks at me and tells me

 

Obrera Social

You tested positive for the HIV virus.

 

El Homie

At that point

 

Lil Homie

At that minute

 

Obrera Social

They say it’s 85% mental

 

El Homie

At that moment for me it was 95% mental because I walked out of that office not really knowing what I had done

 

Counselor

Walking into the streets of Baltimore

 

El Homie

I stood there and thought to myself, I can’t go back to prison even if I wanted to. I used to write a lot of letters to my mom. And they were a lot of lies, I promise this, I’ll change. Every time I got out I’d not violate parole but violate my mom. I didn’t want to be that type of man. I had enough dope in my pocket

And like I always used to say. You talk about it, you better be about it. So I jumped in the alley, tied my arm off and od’d. The garbage man found me and rushed me to the hospital They brought me back and when I got out, I’d thought I’d beat death again. I came back to San Antonio. To see my mom and beg for her forgiveness. But here I go. I live in the south but I roll on the east And I end up on the eastside with my boys. Within 5 hours I had dope in my system and dope in my pocket. And then I was on the corner of Iowa & Huckenberry with my hands up and I got busted for possession and distribution. Again. On top of my violation of parole. I made that choice and I went back to prison. When I got out, I made peace with my mom. Cuz mom’s always gonna forgive you, man. You can steal the water heater, the ac and everything and they forgive you in the morning. I also made peace with myself and this disease. Just cuz I’m positive don’t mean I can’t live a positive life, que no? And that’s what I’m gonna do.

 

El Joto Prodigal

Man, it, that was beautiful. What you said and how you said it. But, for me mothers are a big cockblock in your becoming who you need to be. I did an obituary and I put on there in lieu of flowers, donations made to AIDS Foundation. My mom said I don’t want that on there. Who died, me or you? That’s what I want on there, in lieu of flowers I want donations sent to AIDS foundations. She didn’t want that, kept saying, they’re gonna think you died of AIDS. Really?!

 

 

La Estetica

My mom’s side – ellos no saben pero mi mami knows that I have the virus. El lado de mi papa, pues ellos si saben. Tengo una tia bien metiche la mujer. She got a hold of my estatus y ahora todo el mundo sabe. Lo que me enoja es que ella siempre decia cuando fallecio una persona de nuestra familia, it should be you instead of them. Nombre! Cunado fallecio mi buelita mi tia pues she did not know que su esposo, mi tio, was on the other side of the refri when she say to me, “No es justo, grandma died, you should have died. Tu eres sucia. Pos, mi tio en voz alto y firme dice a ella, “Don’t you ever talk to my niece like that again.” Pos, I didn’t mean to break up familia pero she said it. I didn’t.

 

Obrera Social

I lost an uncle to HIV/AIDS. When my family found out about him they gave him the cold shoulder, just being funny about it. But I couldn’t tell if they were being serious or about it or not. It’s a lack of education. It’s not like I didn’t give my uncle hugs and kisses but there were parties and barbecues he wasn’t invited to because of what he had. Not because he was gay, but because of the HIV, everybody was scared. What if he touches me or drinks out of my glass? (To audience) That’s not how HIV is transmitted, right? I educated my family. Early on when I started doing this work among HIV infected Latinas my mother’s comadres would ask her what I did and she would tell them and they would go, “Ay no, she’s working with the jotitos.” It’s not just jotos that get HIV, it’s women too! I would tell her. Now, she gives condoms to her grandkids.

 

El Activist

That’s great to hear Obrera. I been on my own in terms of familia fighting this disease. Pero ustedes ya son mi familia. I stood up for myself back then. But it’s harder I think for RayRay and the others to be an activist now.

 

RayRay

Oh don’t you worry bout me, I have no problem getting dates or access to services and information on my health.

 

El Activist

Yeah, it’s just that it’s not the 80s or 90s anymore. I’m so sick of fucking politics. Bureaucrats are just so full of shit. But if that’s what they want, I can throw shit back.

 

La Estetica

Mejor, let’s have cake now.

 

Hugs abound. Obera Social, Estetica, Indocumentada, Su Hija go in search of cake. El Joto, El Activist, El Homie, RayRay and Mi Lady take off. El Mesero crosses and cleans. Sida and Sas are left alone on stage. Sida removes her crown and places it on Sas’ head.

 

Sas

Wha?

 

Sida

You’re next mijo. I’m in training to run the Rock n Roll marathon and the tiara will just get all sweaty. Plus, it’s time for you to feel good about you. Always making everybody else laugh. It’s your time to shine. (Yelling to the women and running off in their direction.) Don’t cut my cake without me!

 

Sas stands feeling silly and special with the tiara on. Mesero approaches.

 

El Mesero

That crown becomes you.

 

Sas

You think?

 

El Mesero

Yes, very much.

 

Sas

Why thank you. I’m …

 

El Mesero

We’ve met.

 

Sas

Yes, we have. Please, don’t

 

El Mesero

Shhh, chambelan, I got my diagnosis 5 years ago. You must have never caught me taking my “multivitamin” like clockwork the times we’ve catered together.

 

Sas

You?! You too?!

 

El Mesero

Shhhhh. Shall we dance?

 

Sas

There’s no music playing.

 

El Mesero places his hand on Sas’ beating heart.

 

El Mesero

Oh, yes, there is.

 

Music. They, very formally and beautifully, waltz off stage.

 

Cake for All.

 

An End.

______________________________________________

Ricardo A. Bracho is a playwright whose work has been produced at Brava Theater Center, Theatre Rhinoceros and INTAR and has been staged read at Pregones Theater, Intersection for the Arts, Brown University and Stanford University. A former participant in the NEA/TCG Residency Program for Playwrights, Bracho has received two commissions from the Latino Theater Initiative of the Mark Taper Forum. His plays include The Sweetest Hangover, A to B, Sissy, and Querido.

All Hallows Eve At the Amarillo Jehovah’s Witness Weekly Grief Group In the Backroom of the Y Just Off the Feeder

CHARACTERS

JAKE: Group Leader

PENNY: Macabre.

DAN: In a Halloween cow costume

TANYA: Fanatic.

LIGHTS UP ON AN ILL-ATTENDED GRIEF GROUP. LOTS OF EMPTY SAD FOLD OUT CHAIRS. DAN IS OUT OF PLACE AS HE IS IN A HALLOWEEN COSTUME, A COW. PENNY HAS JUST FINISHED SHARING.THE GROUP IS HORRIFIED BY WHATEVER SHE’S JUST TOLD THEM. JAKE IS THE TIRED LEADER.

 

JAKE: Thank you for sharing Penny, the language of grief is a unifier and we all learn from you when you speak it with such visceral-uh- gory- horrifying details.

 

PENNY: Thank you Jake. The lord tells me to share and I must.

 

TANYA IS ABOUT TO THROW UP.

 

JAKE: You may sit down now.

 

PENNY: Thank you Jake. This grief group has given me so much. So much solace in a world I do not understand. So much comfort after the gruesome death-

 

JAKE: Please, Penny- sit. Thank you.

 

PENNY: Thank you, Jake.

 

PENNY SITS.

 

JAKE: We’ve all come here to talk about our feelings in the here and now. To honor that large container which is ourselves. Which has room for all things. Let’s put both feet on the floor- palms on our knees either face down or facing the heaven. Let’s close our eyes. Dan, please. Let’s breathe and be here together. We’re Jehovah’s Witnesses and we witness to each other. A few reminders and announcements- Please no cross talk or interrupting. No physical contact. Please continue to spread the word about this grief group. We hope to give our services to more in need.

 

Now, Let’s think of all the things we are grateful for today. We are living. We were lucky enough to secure the best Y backroom in Amarillo and we should count our blessings to be here together. To be present, to be exactly where our feet are and encourage the expression of emotion –

 

DAN: Can we talk about Halloween?

 

BEAT. THE GROUP DOES NOT WANT TO HEAR THAT WORD, LIKE A FORBIDDEN WORD.

 

JAKE: Dan- Please no cross talk.

 

DAN: Oh yes- Thank you Jake. May I taking the sharing position to discuss Halloween?

 

DAN: I uh-Is there something you are struggling with?

 

DAN: No.

 

JAKE: Any rising uh issues with our fundamental core belief in not acknowledging holidays?

 

PENNY: Dan, it is ok to struggle

 

TANYA: We all struggle

 

ALL: Yes-it’s true- that’s what we’re here for etc. etc.

 

JAKE: Please! The Cross Talk!

 

DAN: Can I- I’m sorry- Can I share?

 

JAKE: In that?-

 

DAN: Yes.

 

PENNY: This is a safe space Jake-

 

JAKE: Penny. Cross Talk. I mean yes please this is, of course, a safe place.

 

DAN ASSUMES THE SHARING POSITION.

 

DAN: I was born on October thirty first. On Halloween.

 

THE GROUP WINCES.

 

DAN: -which is- Halloween is- I’m sorry I have to say it

 

TANYA: Don’t-

 

DAN: Halloween is my birthday.

 

THE GROUP GROANS.

 

DAN: And I understand about God and the Pagans and how this is their doing and I understand about Satan and I know that while Halloween does include fun with family and friends, these gatherings are centered around attributes such as witchcraft death, deceit, and fright which are opposing to God

 

JAKE: Well, it’s not that these attributes are subtly snuck into the day, Halloween openly boasts them

 

DAN: But I-I-I

 

JAKE: It’s ok-

 

DAN: I- miss my dog you know- And I have to thank you Jake because this group has really helped me work though a lot of this. I miss Banjo so bad- I miss watching him run through the field, ears flapping as he chased the cows. He’d bark and circle them and they’d look down and moo apathetically and he was in heaven. Well, no, now he is in heaven but I don’t know if there are any cows there.

 

PENNY: Of course there are cows there! He has his cow friends in heaven-

 

DAN: And if it’s even possible that on my birthday-

 

GROUP GROAN.

 

JAKE: yikes-

 

DAN: Banjo’s spirit or ghost-

 

PENNY: Ghost?!

 

DAN: Yes Penny- if his ghost can walk the Earth on this day according to the Satanist pagans- if by any infinitesimal chance they are even some kinda right then I want to be here for him. Suppose Banjo is roaming our street looking for anything to remind him of home. I want to be there and if I can make his ghost just a little bit happier by waiting for him dressed as those cows he loved so much then I’m going to do it.

 

JAKE: I think we should read a passage now-

 

TANYA: -I want to commune with the dead too. I want to talk to my cousin.

 

PENNY: Cross Talk! Can we get some more leadership here? This is ridiculous.

 

JAKE: Ok Ok Ok Tanya, that was an example of cross talk but let’s go with us. Your cousin was an adventurous woman

 

TANYA: I want to talk to her spirit. I applied for Long Island medium like 4 times, but apparently you have to live there to participate. May I?

 

JAKE: Sure.

 

TANYA TAKES HER SHARING POSITION.

 

TANYA: My cousin died. She thought she wanted to be an engineer and she always wanted to know how everything worked. It was really cute. And this one night we were at Pastor Rick’s- they are so rich- they’re house is unbelievable- they had a dumb-waiter. And Rena wanted to know how it worked because she’s predictable like that so she stuck her head in the bottom to see the gears. And I don’t know how this happened but it snapped and the whole thing fell and chopped her head off.

 

THE SOUND OF A BLOOD CURDLING SCREAM.

 

TANYA: Rena?! REEEEEENA?! Is that you?!

 

A PERSON POKES THEIR HEAD IN FROM OFF STAGE

 

PERSON: Sorry for the disruption folks, we’re rehearsing that last scene in Our Town in the Y front room here. Apologies. We’re pushing ourselves today.

 

JAKE: No worries brother, thanks and bless you.

 

PERSON: Howdy!

 

PERSON EXITS.

 

TANYA: I lived my entire life with a cousin Rena until that day. Pastor Rick says that’s what happens to women who get into science but I think Rena is out there somewhere. I think she still wants to learn things and I imagine she’s snooping around with her head under her arm and now she can take that head and fit it into smaller places to see all the gears she wants.

 

And that makes me happy for her.

 

DAN: Yes. Just like Banjo

 

JAKE: No.

 

TANYA: What?

 

JAKE: There are no ghosts or holidays or birthdays or cow costumes.

 

TANYA: I think Rena would want me to help you Dan. I think Rena would’ve loved Banjo and so would I

 

DAN: He would’ve loved you

 

TANYA: So let’s wait for him. Let’s see if he comes by, or Rena or Penny’s son who went by Christina.

 

PENNY: He won’t come by. He hated me.

 

JAKE: You mean ‘It’- Stephen King’s ‘It’

 

TANYA: Cross Talk Jake. Let’s just see. See if we can call their ghosts- Because wouldn’t it give us comfort and isn’t comfort what this grief group is for?

 

THEY ALL LOOK TO JAKE.

 

JAKE: I can’t.

 

TANYA: Don’t you miss Pauline, Jake?

 

JAKE: I do.

 

TANYA: What if her ghost-

 

JAKE: Pick a different word-

 

TANYA: -or spirit-

JAKE: Nope-

 

TANYA: Her little tinkerbell light what if walks on by… wouldn’t you want to say hello.

 

JAKE: I would. I do.

 

DAN: Let’s do this- ok- Everybody put something in a middle here, something that reminds you of your loved one. Come on- here’s Banjo’s Bone.

 

TANYA: Here’s Rena’s Einstein choker necklace from the accident. It’s got some blood on it maybe that will help-

 

JAKE: Pauline’s hanky.

 

PENNY PULLS OUT A BUTCHER KNIFE AND PUTS IT IN THE CIRCLE. THE GROUP TAKES THAT IN.

 

PENNY: Christina’s favorite.

 

DAN: Ok. Let’s sit- everybody put both feet on the ground.

 

THEY SHUFFLE CHAIRS AROUND. A FLURRY OF MOVING AND SITTING AND ADJUSTING.

 

JAKE: Please don’t tell Pastor Rick

 

TANYA: Never- no one is telling Pastor Rick- Penny?

 

PENNY: I won’t. I promise.

 

TANYA: We all promise?

 

THE GROUP NODS. EVERYONE IS IN.

 

DAN: Ok we ready?

 

THEY INDICATE THAT THEY ARE READY. SOME SCARED. SOME DESPERATE.

 

DAN: ok. Tinkerbell light Séance-

 

JAKE: Don’t use séance

 

DAN: Tinkerbell light brigade sit in grief group Amarillo chapter edition call to the dead- begin!

 

THEY SIT IN SILENCE.

 

JAKE: So uh- what are we supposed to do here?

 

PENNY: Yea are they just gonna come in?-

 

DAN: I don’t know-

 

TANYA: Ok ok calm down. Ok How about this-

 

TANYA BREATHES AND JUMP A LITTLE LIKE ACTING WARM UP.

 

TANYA: Ok everyone. Stare out to a fixed point. Soften your focus. Stare far far out past the Amarillo city line into the great unknown. Focus and think of your loved one. What they smelled like on the best days, the kindest thing they ever said to you, that look on their face in their final moments

 

A SCREAM FROM OFF STAGE.

 

TANYA: Reeeena?!

 

PERSON STICKS HEAD IN.

 

PERSON: I’m so sorry folks- we’re making headway on this scene though!

 

PERSON EXITS.

 

TANYA: Think of how unknowable life is, death is, what your loved one like to eat for dinner.

 

PENNY: I feel nothing!

 

TANYA: Close you eyes. Hold hands! I feel it!

 

THE GROUP HOLDS HANDS. THEY SQUEEZE. THEY TRY TO FEEL IT.

 

TANYA: Jake misses you Pauline

 

JAKE: I do!

 

TANYA: He forgives you for the affair

 

JAKE: I do!

 

FLICKER OF LIGHTS. DAN GASPS

 

DAN: Satan is joining us-

 

PERSON FROM OFF STAGE RE-ENTERS.

 

PERSON: Son-of-a-breadbasket We blew the fuse sorry! Art is dangerous- sorry to- What are you guys-? I’ll just- ok bye-

 

TANYA: If you are out there. Wherever you are- behind a rock or under a tree or behind the moon know we love you. Know we wait for you here and will find you in the here after-

 

AS TANYA SPEAKS, VERY SLOWLY AND SOFTLY THE SOUND OF A DOG BARKING CREEPS IN. AS SHE SPEAKS THE BARKING GROWS LOUDER AND NEARER.

 

TANYA: We’ve forgotten how bratty you could be Rena, or how sexually confused you were Christina,

 

BARKING. THE BARKING BEGINS TO OVER WHELM TANYA’S SPEAKING. DAN OPENS HIS EYES AND HE CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT HE SEES. BANJO!

 

BARKING. CLOSER.

 

DAN STANDS. THE GROUP CONTINUES TO HOLD HANDS AND FOCUS. TANYA MUMBLES.

 

BARKING.

 

DAN WALKS FORWARD TOWARDS THE NOISE. THE GROUP FINALLY NOTICES. THEY WATCH DAN, WHO MOOS A LITTLE TO CALL BANJO OVER.

 

JAKE PICKS UP THE BONE AND HANDS IT TO DAN. THE GROUP HOLDS HANDS AND DAN TOSSES THE BONE OUT INTO THE AUDIENCE.

 

BLACKOUT. END OF PLAY.

______________________________________________

Molly Beach Murphy is a playwright and director originally from Galveston, Texas. Molly is a three-time artistic resident at the OBIE Award-winning Incubator Arts Project for which she created Molly Murphy & Neil deGrasse Tyson On Our Last Day On Earth (also seen in Ars Nova’s 2015 ANT FEST), Indigo Dai: Immortal Men, and Morbid Poetry. Molly is a 2015 member of Fresh Ground Pepper’s Playground Playgroup, JACK’s Creating Dangerously Writing Workshop, and The Habitat’s Director’s Playground. Recipient of the Garland Wright Award for Achievement in Directing. BFA, Southern Methodist University.

Page 2 of 2