Play Archive

The Bluegrass of God

CHARACTERS: ALITA, a small and deformed and living in an abandoned barn. About twenty or so. Wears a simple dress made from gunny sacks.

PAULA, a social worker, expectant mother, thirties.

SETTING: The old abandoned barn in the middle of nowhere. A storm is overhead, the light dim at best. A nest downstage left, made of rags, old rugs, old blankets that should have been burned or tossed. Time is now.

[ Lights up on Paula prodding at the sleeping Alita. Sound of wind heard, lonely and as if through trees not seen on stage, trees just outside unseen walls. Alita stirs sluggishly and Paula draws back, her big purse hanging from her shoulder. Paula wears slacks and a loose pretty yellow blouse under a light sweater. ]

PAULA

Alita. You can’t stay here. The owners are very upset. I can get you into a shelter but you have to come with me now, they’re holding it just for a few hours, it was the best I could do, what, with all the cuts and budget trimming.

[ Alita sits up, wearing a half mask over her face. Her hair is wild and snarled and filthy. ]

Come on now, you can’t stay here.

ALITA

Shhh. Listen. It’s my favorite sound in the world.

[ Alita turns her face upward, smiling at the sound of the wind. ]

The bluegrass of God.

PAULA

I have so much to do today. I am doing this as a favor to you…

ALITA

What about tomorrow? Where will I sleep tomorrow? That’s God’s fiddle in them trees. I was dreaming. Dreaming about hot water.

PAULA

You can take a shower at the shelter. We’ve been over this.

ALITA

Miss Paula– I like it here.

PAULA

That’s too bad.

ALITA

Nobody looks at me here, nobody expects me to take off my mask. My dad, he told me to wear it always, that my face had been slapped by the Devil, that was right before he tried to cut off my head with that chainsaw.

PAULA

Nobody at the shelter will make you take your mask off. I explained about it, it’s all been explained.

ALITA

You have to get home and make dinner.

PAULA

Yes, I do. You like riding in my car. You like to change the CD’s. I got some new ones, ones with rain and the ocean on them.

ALITA

Oh! But…I’m tired, Miss Paula. I’m real tired. And…and I watch the mice at night. The owls come in through the roof. There’s this big ole gray cat that comes around now and then, he’s not friendly. He scratched me–

[ Shows arm to Paula, who nods with complete unconcern. Alita slowly pulls her arm back into her body. ]

You’re going to be a horrible mother.

PAULA

Why would you say that? That’s mean. You’ve been very mean lately.

ALITA

Cause you don’t care. That guy just wants to get the freak out of his old nasty barn. You just want to get home to your nasty old husband. The one who cheated on you with that checker at…

PAULA

You’re not a freak, don’t say that. Of course I want you out of this barn. It’s falling down, they’re going to tear it down as soon as you leave. They can’t do that with you in here, now can they? You don’t belong here. And who told you those things about me? They’re not even true.

ALITA

They are so. The social worker that smells like vanilla and beer told me.

PAULA

Vanilla and beer? Someone is drinking…oh my God, I told that to him in strict confidence. That sonofabitch.

[ Stops herself, turns away from Alita who rises slowly, adjusting her clothes, pushing back her hair, fixing her mask more firmly in place. ]

I am sorry Mr. Ken was so unprofessional. But you seem to like him and actually listen so…but

PAULA

okay, that won’t happen again, he won’t be assigned to you anymore, not if I have anything to say and I do. Now get your things and let’s go. We can get you a hamburger.

ALITA

No no no, Mr. Ken said you kicked out the nasty husband. How can I be an example if I put up with that shit, it’s what Mr. Ken said you said. How can I help anyone if I’m such a weak, stupid, female…

PAULA

You two must have had quite a conversation.

ALITA

Oh sure. He doesn’t like you. He was happy. Happy you were so sad. That’s a kind of music, too, being happy when others are sad, that’s the real devil’s music. Are you sad?

PAULA

This is not the time or place and that is not an appropriate question.

ALITA

I should be sad. But I got that wind out there for company. I got owls at night sometimes. You’re sad all the time. I got this face and my leg don’t work, it don’t bend right. I ain’t going to that shelter. Last time that old man climbed on top of me and whispered he wanted to play pig. I kicked him and hid in the bathroom. Nobody wants to play pig here.

PAULA

I am sorry about all that, there’s just no money anymore, nobody remembers others are suffering worse than they are, charity is dead. Charity is fucking dead.

[ Silence. Paula moves away, rubs at her face. ]

I didn’t mean to swear. Why didn’t you tell me this? Is that why you won’t go back? I can take you to a different shelter or…

ALITA

It’s part of it. But. He won’t be there. He died, he died doing some heroin I heard, or doing a heron, I didn’t quite catch it all. Everybody talks real soft around me at the shelters, like this face makes me deaf. Like this leg doesn’t let me hear all the whispers. Psss psssss psssss. Like little birds in a nest, that psss psss psss all around me. You’re sad. And Ken said you was going to have another baby.

PAULA

Alita. That is none of your business.

ALITA

You get to know everything about me.

PAULA

That is my job. It’s what they pay me the big pennies for.

ALITA

I think dishwashers make more than you.

PAULA

I think they do, too. But. That’s neither here nor there. Now get your stuff, like I asked. Mr. Bendal, the OWNER, wants to call the cops. We don’t need the cops here, do we? You know you can’t stay here. My patience is about gone.

ALITA

In the shelter, you can’t hear this wind. It’s been trying to rain for days now, and it’s just wind, just this wind and a few drops now and then. Can’t you…can’t you drop me off on the side of the road, like, by some trees? I don’t mind getting rained on. Or being cold. It’s not winter.

PAULA

No. I am not dropping you off by the side of the road!! What are you, an unwanted puppy? You’re a human being! You deserve better.

[ Stops, takes a breath. Alita moves to the edge of the stage, listening intently. ]

You need a bath. You need some hot food. When was the last time you ate anything that didn’t come out of a garbage can?

ALITA

I stole a candy bar.

PAULA

Yes, that’s why I’m here, too. You can’t go in that store anymore, they won’t put up with stealing. You can’t just take things. You can’t just take things that aren’t yours, you have to pay for the candy bars. You have to pay.

ALITA

Like he paid, your nasty husband? Mr. Ken said it’s because you’re such a bitch. Like that’s a bad thing. I was hungry and it was  on sale, I took a sale candy bar, a Baby Ruth. Nobody ever eats them. They were three for a dollar. I only took one.

PAULA

Whatever that Ken said to you, you need to stop repeating. And taking just one is taking one too many. I would have bought you one. And we wouldn’t be in this trouble. You steal all the time. It’s not just candy bars. If you want to get placed in a home, you have to stop stealing.

ALITA

This is my home. That guy’s just gonna tear all this down, right? Well…can’t he just leave it alone? What’s he gonna put here?

PAULA

I am really trying to be patient here. I am really trying.

ALITA

I know. But. But I want to stay here.

PAULA

Well, you can’t.

ALITA

But it’s safe here.

PAULA

Uh…no, it’s not. Anyone could walk in here and really hurt you. You could fall down and break something and no one would know about it until it was too late. You could get sick, you’re always getting that stomach rot, as you call it, cause you eat out of the garbage. You eat bad food and you get sick, do you want to get one of those attacks here? In the middle of nowhere?

ALITA

Well…no, but…

PAULA

[ With triumph, going to Alita, about to take her arm. Alita does not allow this at all. ]

Well nothing. We are out of here. What? Is something wrong with your arm?

[ Alita limps away a few steps. Paula watches her, rather like a scientist would study a lab rat. ]

Someone hurt you? Did you fall down? I’ll have to put it in my report, might as well be accurate.

ALITA

You don’t care. I don’t want your fingers on me, it’s…it’s horrible.

PAULA

[ Nods. ]

Fine. That’s okay. And you think I don’t care? Would I be here if I didn’t? I would have let Mr. Bendal call the cops if I didn’t care. . I would have let the cops handle you. They would have kicked you out of here, and you’d be out in the storm tonight, the storm they keep predicting but never comes, it just goes around to the south or north, it never hits here.

ALITA

So. Let this guy call the cops. Go home. Go make dinner. Wait…wait a minute–

PAULA

Get your stuff. Please, Alita, stop making this so hard.

ALITA

Who are you making dinner for? Who are you rushing home to make dinner for??!!

[ Laughs, points at Paula. ]

It’s the nasty husband, you took him back, you’re…

PAULA

[ Rather grim, not really looking at Alita. ]

Again. None of your business. And it’s my sister. My sister is in town. Okay? Please get your backpack…where is your backpack?

ALITA

No, your face got all weird.

PAULA

It did not. I am not…

ALITA

You are, you’re lying.

[ Both stare at each other, something of a stand off. ]

It’s okay. I lie all the time. I took two candy bars. And some gum.

PAULA

I can get on my cell and call the police.

ALITA

Maybe. Maybe you should. I’m not going. This is my home. It smells good here. And nobody stares at me or goes psss psss psss. God plays his bluegrass here. I can’t hear it nowhere else. I can’t hear it.

PAULA

I really don’t give a shit anymore. I have plans. I don’t have time for this. I got you a warm bed and a warm meal. I moved heaven and earth to do it. That place is full up right now, full up until God blows that trumpet and it’s all over except for the crying. Got me?? You’re stealing, you hit that old lady, oh yes, I know all about that, you are trespassing on private property and somehow I have to fix all that, I have to fix it, cause God forbid you take any responsibility for your actions.

ALITA

She had it coming. She told me my face was like this on purpose, that it was part of a plan. So I smacked her. And her teeth flew out of her mouth, it was awesome. Just like in a movie.  I didn’t know I could hit so hard. I ran, I hid.

PAULA

It’s assault. And she didn’t have it coming. I can’t run interference anymore. There can’t be a next time. You can’t take up residence on private property.

ALITA

I have nowhere to go. I have nothing. Only pretty people matter, I know that. I know it from the bottom of my heart. Just tell em I wasn’t here and go make smoochies with your nasty husband. But you’re getting back something broken, something that’s been in the garbage.

PAULA

I don’t even know where to start with all that crap.

[ Silence. Alita looks upward. ]

Get your backpack. Make sure you gather all your little things…

ALITA

I buried all my things. In my backpack. I buried my past. It was nice. I said a little prayer and I think God heard me cause I found this place and the wind, it blows through like fiddle music, and it don’t care, it don’t care that I’ve been slapped by the Devil. So you see, Miss Paula…I can’t go with you. My past is buried nearby and it might, it might just burst out of the ground like a rocket. Just like a rocket.

PAULA

You buried your past? You had pictures of your mother, you had a doll you…

ALITA

Yep. I dug a hole with this spoon I found.

PAULA

But. But you loved that backpack. You knew exactly what was in it, to the last scrap of paper.

ALITA

It was time, that bluegrass wind said. I finally gave in. Like you. You’re going home to your nasty husband, it’s written on your lying face. It’s okay. You once told me you were an only child. I remember things.

[ Taps temple and smiles widely. Paula backs off, crosses arms over chest. ]

I like you better now. Cause you’re just like me. A little ugly inside, a little dirty and used and smelly. Just go home. What a word. Home. I finally…it’s here, home is here, in this barn. I finally get it. They’re going to have to shoot me. With the cop guns. Then I’ll be a ghost. I see em all the time. I like em. They don’t want to play pig. They don’t want anything.

PAULA

Fine.

[ Reaches into her purse, pulls out her cell phone, calls the police. She does this deliberately, putting on a show for Alita. Makes appropriate pauses and such. ]

Hi, this is Paula Parker, I need to report a trespasser. Yes. Ummm-huh. Alita Smack, that’s the only name I have for her. She’s living in an old barn out on Boat Landing Road, I think the number here is 2785 Boat Landing Road. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. I’ve tried talking with her, she’s a client of mine but she’s not listening and oh– she’s getting a little belligerent. She might do with a seven day in psych.

PAULA

[ Alita looks horrified. Shakes head. But Paula continues, smug now. ]

Oh sure, I’ll stay until you get here. I don’t think she’ll hurt me. Sure. You bet. Great. See you in a little bit.

[ Paula ends the call. Silence. Then the sound of wind heard. ]

I warned you. I keep my promises.

ALITA

I thought they cut the budgets.

[ Presses this home. ]

I thought there was no money left for charity and poor people and nutcases. Who’s paying for the seven day? Who’s got the dough to pay for that? They don’t keep me more than a night. If that. I’m not crazy, I don’t have robots in my head or ants crawling out of my bellybutton.

PAULA

Fine– you don’t want to go and get probed and prodded,  then you get in my car and we go to the shelter. And I will call back the cops and tell them not to come. They said it would be a while. They got real emergencies.

ALITA

I hope your baby doesn’t need you to be nice. Or understand. I hope it comes out all baked and frosted.

PAULA

And I hope you.

[ Stops, turns away at once. Breathing deeply. ]

ALITA

Yeah. I know.

PAULA

I don’t need this. You were supposed to hop in my car, I’d get you a burger, I’d drop you off and it would be over. I could go home and…and everything would be good. But oh no, not you. You have to set up shop in this goddamned rickety barn. You have to dig in your heels. Today. Today!! I have worked too hard to put my life back together to have it ruined again because I couldn’t get home by four. He said if you are not there by four, I am gone. Don’t you understand, Alita? God damn it.

ALITA

Life really sucks. It really sucks.

PAULA

The police are coming. I have to go. I can just make it if I leave now.

ALITA

Digging through garbage gets to be a habit. You could sit here with me.

[ Sits. Curls up in her nest. ]

And listen to that bluegrass wind.

PAULA

I screwed up. It wasn’t him. It was me. I love him.

[ Sighs, takes out cell phone. Alita does not watch this or acknowledge Paula at all. ]

You’ll be safe in the shelter. And you can get placed in a home. I’ll make sure of it. I’ll do my best. It’s just the wind, it’s not some special kind, it’s just the wind.

ALITA

Better call. Tell him you’re on your way. And. And the cops. They’ll have to shoot me. I’m not going.

PAULA

No, they’ll drag you out of here in restraints.

ALITA

No. Boom boom.

PAULA

Restraints. No matter what, you are leaving. There is no winning here for you.

ALITA

We’ll see. No winning for you, either. Ha ha.

PAULA

I have to go. Good luck. I’ll do what I can with the police later– I can’t stay here and deal with this anymore. You are on your own.

[ About to exit when Alita speaks up. ]

ALITA

Yep. I hope they shoot me. I’d rather be shot than restrained. Make him  a milkshake. I like milkshakes.

[ Paula exits. Alita pulls a blanket over herself. ]

I like milkshakes. They’re nice.

[ Sound of the wind, perhaps sound of thunder. Alita waits for the police as the lights fade to black. End of play. ]


Ann is a native Oregonian who’s traveled to China, Europe and Honduras. Oregon Gothic, a collection of her short stories published by Kensington Gore, came out in 2015.  City Theatre, Miami,  awarded her play, the Mating Season of Flying Monkeys, for Short Playwriting Finalist, 2015.  The Mating Season of Flying Monkeys can also be found in 2017’s Winter edition of the Santa Ana River Review. Her short plays, The Next Mrs. Jacob Anderson and The Care and Feeding of Baby Birds, are included in the volumes, Ten Ten-Minute Plays, Volumes II and III. My play, Traces of Memory, has been made into several short films by now. Ann also hold a BA in Theatre, from Eastern Oregon University and an MFA from UNLV in Playwriting. Her Twitter handle is A.R.W. @malheurwoman

 

Princess of the Sea

Characters

Princess of the Sea, a 16-year-old high school student, African American

Milkman, African American

Mother, African American

 

Time and Setting

The present.  Morning.  A kitchen (a table, chairs).

At rise:  PRINCESS enters.  Looking disheveled, she is dressed in PJs and a bathrobe.  Today is a school day, but she has told her mom that she is sick.  She sits at the kitchen table, removes a cell phone and checks for text messages.  She finds one and starts to read it aloud.

PRINCESS

(With a sour attitude)

Oh, boy.  A text from Connie.  “Guess what everyone!  I’ve been accepted to State University!”

Guess what, Connie.  I hope you go blind.

(She moves down to another text message)

A stupid text from Danny.  “Hey, I did it.  I joined the Navy.  I ship out the week after we graduate.”

Hey, Danny.  May you sink to the bottom of the ocean and stay there.

(She slams down the cell phone.  Beat)

PRINCESS

(As she rests her head on the table, falling asleep)

I wish everyone would leave me alone.  I wish I lived on different planet.  I wish…I wish…

(Beat.  A MILKMAN opens the backdoor, entering the kitchen without knocking.  He is dressed like a milkman in the 1950s:  clean starched matching shirt and pants, black bow tie and a hat with a visor)

 MILKMAN

Good morning.

(PRINCESS wakes up, looks around, sees MILKMAN)

PRINCESS

Who are you?

MILKMAN

I’m the milkman.

PRINCESS

Oh.

MILKMAN

Who are you?

PRINCESS

I’m the Princess of the Sea.

MILKMAN

(Starting to cross to the fridge– which may be played as an imaginary kitchen appliance)

Just ignore me.  I’ll go on about my work.

PRINCESS

What’s a milkman?

MILKMAN

What’s a milkman?  You might as well ask, what’s a morning without the sun?

PRINCESS

Huh?

MILKMAN

(Opening the fridge door)

If you don’t have milk for breakfast, what do you have?

PRINCESS

Dr. Pepper.

MILKMAN

I’d laugh but that’s not so funny to a milkman.  Now let’s see what you folks need.  (Looking) Well, well, well.  Your fridge is low on dairy.

PRINCESS

We order in pizza a lot.

MILKMAN

No milk.  No cottage cheese.  No eggs.  No butter.

PRINCESS

We have margarine.

MILKMAN

Don’t make me scream.

PRINCESS

My mom screams all the time.

MILKMAN

Margarine is plastic food.  If you want good health, consume natural food like milk and milk byproducts.

PRINCESS

Why are you wearing that military uniform?

MILKMAN

This is standard attire for the modern milkman.

PRINCESS

Can’t you wear t-shirts and shorts?

MILKMAN

We milkmen take pride in the service we provide to the community, and we like to show it in any and all manner, including our dress.  Shall I recite a poem I wrote about our profession?

PRINCESS

It’s early in the morning for poetry.

MILKMAN

Not for a milkman.  Listen up:

Wind, snow or sleet,

You’ll always find me on the street.

That includes Saturdays, holidays and the Jewish Passover.

You can whip our cream,

But you can’t beat our butter.   

That’s the poem.  What do you think?

PRINCESS

It’s not very romantic.

MILKMAN

My wife thinks I could be another Langston Hughes.  You know, that poet who lives in Harlem somewhere.

PRINCESS

He’s deceased.

MILKMAN

(Taking out an order book and pen)

Not Langston Hughes, the poet.  You must be thinking of a different Langston Hughes.  (Looking in the fridge and writing) For a proper stocking, your fridge needs:  three quarts of milk.  A carton of butter.  A dozen eggs.  And a tub of cottage cheese.  Does your mom like cottage cheese with or without chives?

PRINCESS

What are chives?

MILKMAN

(Writing)

No chives.  What favor ice cream do you like?

PRINCESS

Chocolate chip cookie dough.

MILKMAN

We carry vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

PRINCESS

In that case, one of each.

MILKMAN

(Writing)

Good thinking.  Look, princess –

PRINCESS

Of the sea.

MILKMAN

What?

PRINCESS

My name is Princess of the Sea.

MILKMAN

Look, Princess of the Sea, I wonder if your mom would help me out.  See, the company is having this contest.  The milkman who sells the most cottage cheese this month wins a set of dinnerware.  I’d love to present those dishes to my wife for her birthday.  If I sell 5 more tubs, that’ll put me ahead of the competition.

PRINCESS

My mom would like 8 tubs of college cheese, maybe 10.

MILKMAN

Are you sure?

PRINCESS

She’s always saying there’s never enough cottage cheese in this house.

MILKMAN

I’ll order you 5 tubs.  That’s plenty.  This is good news.  And these days a milkman needs all the good news he can get.

PRINCESS

Why is that?

MILKMAN

Because there is a steady incline in the number of supermarkets in this country and a decline in the number of milk companies that offer home delivery service.  Everyone is talking about it.  Guys down at the milk plant say there’ll be a time when people will do all their grocery shopping in supermarkets.

PRINCESS

Aren’t they doing that now?

MILKMAN

Yeah, the milkman is a vanishing breed.

PRINCESS

Have you heard about The Dead Back-Country Milkmen?

MILKMAN

What happened?  Were they lynched?

PRINCESS

No.  They’re a rap group.

MILKMAN

What’s rap?

PRINCESS

Rap is black music.

MILKMAN

To me, all black music is soul music.  You know.  Be it the music of Billie Holiday or Chuck Berry or etcetera.

PRINCESS

I’m not familiar with Etcetera, but Billie Holiday and Chuck Berry are dead.

MILKMAN

They are very much alive.

PRINCESS

They are?

MILKMAN

Absolutely.  They both just came out with new albums.

PRINCESS

Cool.

MILKMAN

Want to know what else is cool?

PRINCESS

What?

MILKMAN

The future.

PRINCESS

Not on this planet.

MILKMAN

As a young person, you should be enjoying a positive attitude about the future.

PRINCESS

As a milkman, you should be totally down on the future.  You just said you’re vanishing breed.

MILKMAN

Yes.  But whole new worlds are out there waiting for us.

PRINCESS

What new worlds?  Where are they?

MILKMAN

Out there, among the stars.  With space travel, we’ll be uncovering the mysteries of the universe.  We’ll all be spacemen and spacewomen.  White folks and black folks together.  We’ll be zooming to far flung

MILKMAN (continued)

galaxies in atomic powered rockets.  And, if any bug-eyed space monsters get in the way, we’ll blast them with ray guns.

PRINCESS

I know some people I’d like to blast with a ray gun.

MILKMAN

The future will not be a time of grudges of any kind.  No, ma’am.  It will be a time of adventure and wonder, a time of the stars.

PRINCESS

When that happens, may I be the Princess of the Stars?

MILKMAN

Of course, you may.

PRINCESS

Oh, thank you!  When will the time of the stars happen?

MILKMAN

When our first rocket lands on the moon.

PRINCESS

Hasn’t that already happened?

MILKMAN

No, not yet.

PRINCESS

But I thought it did.

MILKMAN

It will very soon.

PRINCESS

How soon?

MILKMAN

I figure our life in the stars will germinate when a certain young U.S. senator is elected president.   In a recent magazine article, he is quoted as saying that his top priority as president will be to put a man on the moon.

PRINCESS

What young senator?

MILKMAN

John F. Kennedy.  And I’m voting for him.

PRINCESS

But he’s dead.

MILKMAN

Gee, Princess of the Sea, you’re a funny kid.  You think everybody is dead.

PRINCESS

I don’t want to.

MILKMAN

(Putting away his order book and pen)

Now this is a big order.  I can’t fill it today with what I have in my truck.  Tell your mom I’ll be back tomorrow to lay in a full complement of dairy.  Have a nice day.

And remember:  The stars are beckoning.  They want you up there with them.

(He exits.  Beat.  Suddenly, she bursts out crying.  She puts her arms on the table, puts her head in her arms, sobbing. Dressed in business attire, MOTHER enters.  In one hand  she carries a briefcase; in the other, a cup of coffee.  She sets the briefcase down and takes a sip of the coffee, oblivious to PRINCESS’ now subdued crying)

MOTHER

I’m off to work.  You say you’re too sick to go to school – again.  Okay.  But I don’t want you to spend the day texting and eating cookies.  I want you to complete at least one college application.  You’d like to remain a child all your life, but that’s not going to happen.  Everyone grows up, if they’re not taken down by some fool’s bullet.  Do you hear me?  Are you crying?  Why are you crying?

(She crosses to PRINCESS, puts her hand on her shoulder, setting down the coffee cup)

MOTHER

What’s wrong, sweetheart?

PRINCESS

(Lifting her head, sobbing)

I’m sixteen years old, and we haven’t put a man on the moon yet.

MOTHER

What are you talking about?

PRINCESS

(Sobbing)

The stars want me up there with them.

MOTHER

Let me feel your forehead.

(PRINCESS raises her head as MOHTER places a hand  across PRINCESS’ forehead)

MOTHER

My God, you are burning up!   Come on, I’m putting you in bed.  Then I’m calling the doctor.  Come on, honey, stand up.

PRINCESS

We’ll all be up there in the stars together.  Blacks and whites.  And if any bug-eyed space monster gets in our way, I’ll blast it with my ray gun.  Okay, mom?  Okay?  Okay?

(Sobbing, PRINCESS stands as MOTHER walks her to her  bedroom, exiting.  Long beat.  MILKMAN enters, carrying a quart of milk in a glass bottle. Seeing that PRINCESS is not present, he places the milk bottle in the middle of the kitchen table and exits)

END                             


Stanley Toledo’s short plays are performed in theatres in the U.S. and aboard. Gun Jr. Leaves Home was staged last year at the Underexposed Theatre’s New Writing Festival in London, UK. Also that year, Acorn Theater presented The Snake Charmer as a staged reading at its 2nd Annual Spectacular Tournament of Playwrights in Three Oaks, MI. The play was voted runner-up and people’s choice.

A Worthie Woman All Hir Live

CAST:                        2 persons — 1 F, 1 M [doubling]

Allison                        — college instructor, a medievalist, mid-30s, recently widowed

Stranger                      — sly, small-time con man, late 20s

Policeman                   — police officer (off-stage voice)

Setting:                        suggestion of a kitchen — chairs, table, counter top, a cabinet

Time:                          February 1977

Option:                        time can be any year immediately after a Leap Year before the Internet era

Props:                          1970s phone, beer, wine bottle, a glass, books, notes, typewriter

Costume:                     female:  black turtleneck, long black skirt
male:  worn raincoat, scruffy jeans    [optional: unshaven]

Sound Effects:            floor creaks, low whistle, book drops, a dryer pings, knocking, car leaves

Summary:                  A con man, who breaks into a widowed teacher’s home, learns a lesson.

_______________________________

Synopsis:                    Chaucer’s lusty Wife of Bath could certainly speke of wo that is in marriage.  But turmoil made the much-married Alisoun of Bath more resourceful:  Of remedies of love she knew per chaunce, /  For she koude of that art the olde daunce.

 

A medievalist and recently widowed, ALLISON BATHFIELD is trying to gain career traction at the college where she teaches by submitting a monograph on The Wife of Bath Tale for a grant deadline.  The loss of her husband has left her absent-minded; she’s neglected to buy food, light bulbs, and stamps — and also forgot to lock the door of her lonely hilltop house.  Hastily arranging to borrow postage stamps from her sister, ALLISON assures MONA that she will recover her equilibrium shortly.  “I know the remedies for life’s mischances,” ALLISON insists.  Now, on the night when she must complete an important application, a menacing STRANGER confronts ALLISON in her kitchen.  Who is this man — and what does he want?

AT RISE:  ALLISON is talking on the phone in her kitchen

ALLISON

Just see if you have enough stamps for Special D.  Don’t pepper me with questions, Mona.  She gan to grucche a me!  I thought this was a Leap Year — — assumed February had an extra day.  Yes, I still have last year’s 1992 calendar up.  Stop making that sound, Mona.  Between the hospital, the funeral — — no, it’s not an excuse.  But I must finish this tonight.  I must make that deadline.  You found extra stamps?  Great!  (pause)  I’ll coffee through an all-nighter and drive to your place by nine A.M.  I can mail it downtown, then go straight to work.  (pause)  High-strung?  No, I know the remedies for life’s mischances.  I think I heard the dryer ping, Mona.  Let me go before I get all wrinkled.  (pause)  Me, too.  Call you later!

(ALLISON hangs up phone, checks her watch, and sits at typewriter)

[SOUND:  floor creaks]

ALLISON

HELLO!  Is someone THERE?

(ALLISON stands up, moves towards the doorway)

Another lightbulb died — — and I forgot to buy replacements!  Always one that outlasts the others.  Low wattage or not, we’re burning the midnight oil till I finish what I have to.  I should make coffee.  No, not until the dryer cycle ends.  No need just now to speak of that, forsooth.

[SOUND:  a low whistling sound]

ALLISON

What’s this noise: a restless soul?   I will fire up the coffeepot.  (pause)  She was a worthie woman all hir live — — husbands at churche door she had five . . .

(ALLISON walks to a counter, sets out two cups)

STRANGER

(STRANGER enters kitchen and hides near a cupboard)

ALLISON

TWO cups I’m preparing.  As if you were still here, Johnny.  (pause) What’s that smell?  COLOGNE?  What’s happening?  (pause)  I’ll call Mona, ask her to join me for supper — — and she’ll bring the postage stamps with her.  Kill two birds. . . .

[SOUND:  a heavy book falls]

ALLISON

Botheration!   I must get those old windows sealed properly before a shelf is blown down.

(ALLISON picks up the hand-set on the phone, about to dial)

No dial tone!  My lucky night.   May as well go to Mona’s, borrow a few lightbulbs, get my . . .

STRANGER

(STRANGER grabs ALLISON)

ALLISON

(loud)  HEY!  LET GO OF ME!  HOW DARE YOU!  TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF ME!

STRANGER

Don’t do anything silly and you won’t get hurt.

ALLISON

WHAT IS THIS?  How did you get in here?

STRANGER

(STRANGER moves hand menacingly inside coat pocket)

Sit down.

ALLISON

(ALLISON stares at him)

STRANGER

You deaf?  I said SIT DOWN.

ALLISON

My husband.  My — — my husband John will be home any second.

STRANGER

Your husband’s funeral was last month, lady.   Sit down and no one gets hurt.

ALLISON

(ALLISON stumbles as she grabs for a chair and then sits)

Who are you?  Do you — — did you know my HUSBAND?

STRANGER

Shut up and don’t be a pest.  I’ll ask the questions.

ALLISON

(low) She was a worthie woman all hir live . . .

STRANGER

WHAT?  Are you casting a spell?  What did you say?

ALLISON

Just reciting a line from a poem I was working on before. . . before you interrupted me.

STRANGER

Lah-di-dah.  So you fancy yourself a poet, eh?

ALLISON

I didn’t WRITE the poem.  I’m working on a monograph about the poem.  (pause)  If you came here looking for money, I don’t have any.

STRANGER

(laughs) You’re the first one I ever met who has time to go monogramming poems.

ALLISON

Monograph — — not monogram.  I teach in college.  Ever hear about “publish or perish”?

STRANGER

I know a lot of people who died before their time, if that’s what you mean.

ALLISON

Please.  I don’t know why you selected our house but . . .

STRANGER

You left keys in the door.  Like you wanted company.  Must get lonely — — no neighbors up on this hill.  The closest house empty — — with a faded “For Sale” sign flappin’ at no one.

ALLISON

(low) Prut!

STRANGER

(somewhat alarmed) You got a cold?

ALLISON

Perhaps I am coming down with influenza, the plague, or a highly contagious bokeler.

STRANGER

(chuckles)  Maybe you can use one of your enchantments to get well.

ALLISON

Enchantments?

STRANGER

Yeah, I’ve heard about these things of yours: potions — — abra-cadabra-ing weird shit.  But I ain’t afraid of you.  I’m like a cat with nine lives.

ALLISON

Obviously, you must have me mixed up with someone else.

STRANGER

Naaaah.  I got you pegged.  Don’t try none of your voodoo.

ALLISON

There’s no wizardry around here.  What makes you think there is?

STRANGER

I heard about you.  And this place is one helluva bizarre bazaar.

ALLISON

You were misinformed.  I teach literature in a college — — for very low pay.

STRANGER

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Don’t get on my nerves, you know what’s good for you.

[SOUND:  ping-ping-ping]

STRANGER

What’s that?  A burglar alarm?

ALLISON

No!  That’s the dryer.  The cycle finished.  (pause)  Can I get my clothes?  They get wrinkled if they stay cloistered in the hot machine.

STRANGER

(imitating her)  Can I get my clothes?  (sarcastic)  You kidding me?

ALLISON

(coughs)  Would you mind if I get a glass of water then?  (cordially) Would you like a drink?

STRANGER

Don’t be scheming — — trying to grab a knife.  G’ahead.  But I got my eye on you.

ALLISON

(ALLISON gets up, goes to counter, selects a drinking glass, pours)

Want a glass of water?  There’s not much in the refrigerator — — until payday.

STRANGER

What’s that yellow stuff?  Is that a bottle full of piss?  Or witches’ brew?

ALLISON

(ALLISON holds up a bottle with yellow liquid)

This is mead.  It’s delicious.  Want some?

STRANGER

What’s mead?

ALLISON

It’s like a wine made from honey.  It’s homemade.

STRANGER

Is that how you killed your husband?

ALLISON

HOW DARE YOU!  I DIDN’T KILL MY HUSBAND!

STRANGER

Listen, girlie.  You got your drink of water.  Now sit down and behave yourself.

ALLISON

You really have some nerve — — breaking in here . . .

STRANGER

(over “breaking in”)  Nobody BROKE in.  I was invited like.

ALLISON

Threatening me, being a bully, holding me against my will.  (pause)  Who ARE YOU?

STRANGER

(STRANGER picks up some papers from the table)

Who are you — — the whiff of bath?

ALLISON

That is part of my monograph on The Wife of Bath.  And tonight I was supposed to . . .

STRANGER

(STRANGER aggressively shoves the papers at ALLISON)

(angry)  “Whiff of bath” is what you typed.

ALLISON

You’re right.  I made a typo.  I typed “whiff” when I meant “wife.”

STRANGER

And what kind of a WIFE were you?

ALLISON

I was — — I am a good person.  I don’t go around bullying, making people miserable.

STRANGER

Except when you were busy killing my sister-in-law.

ALLISON

WHAT?  I didn’t kill anybody.  I’m sure I do not even know your sister-in-law.

STRANGER

(STRANGER takes a photo from his pocket, shoves it at ALLISON)

Here she is — — with her sex-machine Johnny-boy.  Now they’re both cold in the ground.

ALLISON

(ALLISON stares at the photo)

STRANGER

Recognize her?

(STRANGER looks at the photo, then he pockets it again)

ALLISON

I’m sorry for your loss.  I did not cause her death.  It was known she had a heart condition.

STRANGER

Ol’ Johnny-boy was her “heart” condition.  My brother hasn’t been the same since his wife died.

ALLISON

(insincerely)  It is difficult to lose a spouse.  (pause)  But I had nothing to do with this.

STRANGER

Way I heard it was that Johnny was leaving you for her.  Your black magic foxed her.

ALLISON

No!  No!  She worked at the same college where I teach.  She had a heart attack one evening.

STRANGER

Maybe the police bought that fairytale.  I don’t.  (long pause)  I got evidence, girlie.

ALLISON

(alarmed and trying not to show it)  I’m innocent.  Really I am.

STRANGER

I got hard evidence — — more than whiff of bath.  I could bring proof to the police, Allison.

ALLISON

I barely knew this woman.  I’m sorry she’s dead but I don’t know what you’re talking about.

STRANGER

I didn’t expect a confession.  You’re a pro at your business just like I’m good at what I do.

ALLISON

Just what is your line of work?  Home invasion?  Assault and battery?  Blackmail?

STRANGER

Johnny-boy used to like a brewski with supper.  You got any beer left?

ALLISON

In the refrigerator.

STRANGER

(STRANGER keeps an eye on ALLISON as he gets a beer)

ALLISON

(sarcastic)  Sorry I can’t offer you chips and onion dip.

STRANGER

Hah!  I wouldn’t touch your food.  Last meal she ate was some dainty you brought her.

(STRANGER raises beer bottle as in a toast)

You’re a clever dame.  Gotta hand it to you.  You almost escaped detection.  Almost.

ALLISON

If you came looking for a nice house to rob, you won’t find much.  We’re college teachers.  It was a struggle to pay the bills.  Even my wedding band is plain.  Tonight I was supposed to . . .

STRANGER

(over “to”) Nice try.  But he was worth more dead than alive.  What a juicy insurance policy, eh?

ALLISON

This is not the land of milk and honey.  All I have is a few dollars I needed for application fees.  If I give you that, will you please leave?  PLEASE!  I really need to get back to work.

STRANGER

Okay, that will do.  (long pause)  That and your car keys.

ALLISON

My car keys?  You can barely get up or down this hill without a vehicle.  How’d you get here?

STRANGER

Heh-heh-heh!  Yeah, yeah, maybe I hitched a ride.

ALLISON

My husband’s car is in the garage.  The blue sedan with the “For Sale” sign on the side.  I was driving it around last weekend, hoping to sell it — — make a quick sale.  John’s car is newer than my jalopy.

STRANGER

You wish to donate the better vehicle to my charitable cause.  I’m touched.  Yeah, riiight.

ALLISON

Consider this.  Folks around town recognize my rattle-trap.  But if you were driving John’s car, it would raise no suspicion.  People would assume I sold it to you.

STRANGER

Gimme the keys.  And the money.

ALLISON

(ALLISON takes something out of her pocket, gives it to him)

STRANGER

See ya tomorrow.  We’ll talk more — — on the way to your bank.  Don’t try nothing funny.

(STRANGER grabs ALLISON and kisses her, then he exits)

ALLISON

(ALLISON watches him from window, then picks up phone)

I forgot — — there’s no dial tone.  HE probably cut the phone lines.  Oooof!  Now what?

(ALLISON exits, returns with her handbag, coat, a beret or scarf)

I better call Mona from a payphone.  Wait!  I can’t come back HERE.  I better pack my things.

(ALLISON grabs her research papers and then exits again)

[SOUND:  closet noises — — then a heavy knocking on the door]

MALE VOICE [off-stage]

Hello!  I’m looking for Mr. John Bathfield.

ALLISON

Who’s there?

MALE VOICE [off-stage]

Police, ma’m.  There’s been a collision on Route 9.  The license plate was linked to this address.  Does John Bathfield . . .?

ALLISON

My husband is not here, officer.  You mean a thief stole our sedan?  Was there much damage?

MALE VOICE [off-stage]

I’m told it came shooting down the hill like a speed demon, ma’m.  Like it had no brakes at all.

ALLISON

Pity.  My husband kept saying he had to get those brakes fixed.  Terrible.

MALE VOICE [off-stage]

Sorry to disturb you at this hour.  Would you have any idea who was behind the wheel?

ALLISON

No name I can think of.  Were there many passengers?  Was the driver injured?

MALE VOICE [off-stage]

Here’s my card, ma’m.  If you call tomorrow, I’ll have an up-date.  Off-the-record, it looks bad.

ALLISON

Cars can be so unreliable.  Such a shame.  Always one that outlasts the others, though.

MALE VOICE [off-stage]

Good night, ma’m.

[SOUND: a door closes and a car drives off]

ALLISON

(triumphant and strong)  She was a worthie woman all hir live — — husbands at churche door she had five.   (dark laughter sustained)

[Black-out]

THE END.


A Lifetime Member of the Dramatists Guild, LindaAnn LoSchiavo wrote her first one-act at age 9. A year later, the play for a cast of five was produced in Brooklyn, NY and had a nice run. Since then her plays have been seen in New York, California, and Australia. Her writing has been featured in The Dramatist and elsewhere.

 

 

No Thank You

CHARACTERS:

BETH & LESLIE are women in their 30s.

BETH is dressed comfortably but conservatively. Her hair & makeup are put together. LESLIE has a bolder look. She has a few tasteful piercings & edgy accessories.

SETTING:

A coffee shop. Today.

AT RISE:

Beth sits at a table with two to-go cups of coffee. There’s an empty seat across from her.

BETH fidgets in her seat, her gaze slightly down. Then:

LESLIE enters. Beth stands to greet her.

BETH

Hi Leslie.

LESLIE

Yeah, hi.

After a moment of hesitation, they shake hands and sit.

BETH

How are you?

LESLIE

(ignoring) I only have a couple minutes.

BETH

Of course.

LESLIE

I have work in an hour, and I need to grab breakfast beforehand –

BETH

They have food here. Bagels and… I got you a coffee, if you’d like –

LESLIE

No thank you.

BETH

Okay.

(after a moment)

I’m incredibly grateful you agreed to meet me, even for just a moment.

LESLIE

Just to get to the point –

BETH

Right –

LESLIE

Why did you ask to meet with me?

 

BETH

All I want is to offer you a long overdue apology.

LESLIE

Okay.

BETH

I don’t deserve your forgiveness, and I promise not to ask for it. But even so, you deserve to hear from me face-to-face.

All I can say is that… I was indoctrinated from a young age with terrible lies about all types of people… but especially gay people. I know now the evil things I’ve done in the name of God, and I am trying my best to make things right –

LESLIE

Is this like an AA thing?

BETH

…What?

LESLIE

In AA, they tell you to go around and apologize to everyone you wronged –

BETH

It’s… the only thing I can think of to do.

LESLIE

So you’re apologizing to… everyone? How many protests did you do?

BETH

…Hundreds.

LESLIE

And… how many of those were at funerals?

BETH

  1. Maybe more.

LESLIE

Well, you’ve apologized. There you go. You can cross me off your list.

BETH

(before Leslie gets up)

If there’s anything you want to say or… ask perhaps.

LESLIE

No thank you.

BETH

I understand if you’re angry.

LESLIE

Do I seem angry?

BETH

All I mean is that I would understand if you were. I did the worst thing imaginable.

LESLIE

No. The worst thing would have been to kill my brother. You just celebrated the guy who did.

BETH

I’m sorry my actions have caused you so much pain.

LESLIE

You’re giving yourself too much credit. I didn’t know you back then, and I still don’t.

And whether or not your congregation picketed his funeral, Jeff would still be gone, so… I’m not angry. It’s not worth it, it never was. And as you said, you were indoctrinated, so…

I do have a question.

BETH

Anything.

LESLIE

What do you think this does?

BETH

I don’t know what you mean –

LESLIE

What are you trying to accomplish by apologizing to every single person face-to-face?

BETH

Just the right, best thing.

LESLIE

Does it make you feel better?

BETH

Not really.

LESLIE

Less guilty?

BETH

…No.

LESLIE

Well, it’s not helping me either, to remember that a whole church of supposed Jesus people literally celebrated the death of my brother, which only reminds me that plenty of others were celebrating as well, all over, silently and out of sight. So why do you do it?

BETH

I’m sorry if this seems selfish.

LESLIE

It’s just not helping me. And you said it’s not helping you –

BETH

I’m trying my best to –

LESLIE

It’s too late. You know that, right?

BETH

Yes.

LESLIE

You preyed on people at their weakest, and you enabled others to do the same. How could you possibly fix this?

BETH

I can’t fix it. I know that –

LESLIE

Should I congratulate you on changing from vile to decent?

BETH

No.

LESLIE

Then why do all of this?

BETH

I… just want to do the right thing.

LESLIE

Yes, you keep saying that. But did you ever consider – after everything you’ve done – that maybe the right thing is for you to just fucking kill yourself?

A beat.

BETH

I –

LESLIE

I’m sorry. Clearly, I am angry.

BETH

It’s okay.

LESLIE

Fuck. I don’t have much room for forgiveness these days.

BETH

I completely deserve it –

LESLIE

No, you don’t. Even you don’t.

BETH

Honestly, this is like the AA thing. I’m trying to make amends.

LESLIE

It’s… I guess that’s good.

I shouldn’t have said that.

BETH

Please, it’s forgotten. The least I can do.

LESLIE

Even after all this time, it’s still just below the surface… a generalized anger. Are the others… are they usually like me?

BETH

Yes. Many have been incredibly generous as well, which –

LESLIE

Oh God –

BETH

– I’m thankful for.

LESLIE

So I’m one of the not-so-generous ones…?

BETH

No, I didn’t mean to –

LESLIE

I read the profile they did about you in the Times – after you renounced your church. It was very sympathetic.

BETH

Sympathy I don’t deserve.

LESLIE

Your family won’t speak to you? That was mentioned in the article.

BETH

I don’t know if they won’t ever… but they haven’t since.

LESLIE

…That’s shitty. I’m sorry.

BETH

Thank you.

LESLIE

…So what is the best thing to do?

BETH

Maybe you were right. Maybe I’m doing more harm than good.

LESLIE

Right, but I meant, what’s the best thing for me to do now?

BETH

I’m not sure…

I guess I should forgive you. That’s the mature thing, right?

BETH

I don’t know.

LESLIE

But what do you think? If you weren’t you, what would you tell me to do?

BETH

I… I don’t think it’s my place –

LESLIE

That’s the least you could do.

BETH

(after a moment)

…I don’t think there’s a downside to forgiving others.

LESLIE

Sure there is. If forgiveness is so easily given, people will think it’s just as easily earned.

BETH

I meant for you.

A beat.

LESLIE

After it all came out, you know, why he was killed… My mom said, “Why did Jeff have to be so public about the gay thing?”

She wasn’t saying my brother deserved it…  And I know why she said it, so… I let it go.

But it’s years later now, and she still thinks that.

I’m just sick of waiting for people to see the light. Even if I keep hoping that they do.

BETH

I’m trying my best to –

LESLIE

I know.

(a moment)

I… do need to go to work –

BETH

Of course –

I promise it’s not just an excuse.

BETH

Even if it was…

Leslie stands. Beth sits forward.

BETH

If you… I know you need to go, but my flight out isn’t until tomorrow morning. If you wanted to talk or vent or… I promise only to listen.

Leslie considers it.

LESLIE

No. I don’t think so.

BETH

Okay.

LESLIE

(after a moment, pointing to the coffee cup) Is there cream in that?

BETH

No, but they have some at the counter –

LESLIE

I like it black.

BETH

Oh good.

Leslie picks it up and stands there, between the door and the table, stuck.

LESLIE

Thank you.

BETH

You too.

Leslie takes a sip of the coffee.

BLACKOUT.


Jesse Cramer is a writer and director living in Los Angeles. After receiving his English BA from Penn State University, he moved to Atlanta to pursue writing and theater. While there, his play The Strange Attractor received its world premiere at Act3 Productions and was subsequently nominated for a Suzi Bass Award for playwriting. Additionally, he has worked on a number of film and television productions, including Sundance premiere A.C.O.D. as well as showsExtant, Battle Creek, and Maron. Most recently, his short film Circles – featuring characters and actors on the Autism Spectrum – received its world premiere at the AS Film Festival in Rome, Italy.

Yes-And

“NO BLOOD, JUST FRAUD”

LEN: A gremlin. Height: 1’1”. Irritated, Rhode Island accent. Sits like Gollum.
FELIX: A dragon. Height: 8’4”. If Winnie-the-Pooh was a theater major.
STODDARD: An insurance agent. Height: 5’10”. Human. Grey.
THE WATCHER: A raven. Height: 1’2”. Scene: A loan office. Overtly grey—specifically grey-with-an-e, not an a.

LEN and FELIX are waiting in front of a desk with a handful comically upbeat desk toys on the front (novelty bobbleheads, etc.). Large, plain door behind the desk. THE WATCHER eyes them from its perch. FELIX should spend the scene stealing office supplies, etc. off the desk.

LEN: You’re looking at the watcher, aren’t you.

FELIX: He’s looking at me.

LEN: Well, that’s his job, isn’t it? He’s a watcher. He watches. Stop looking at him.

FELIX: I don’t like this plan. We should have done the father-son scam.

LEN: Nobody is going to believe the father-son—are you seeing this? Are we living the same truth right now? In what fucking world is someone going / FELIX /Listen, if you believe it, it’s all about how you//

LEN: //If you say ‘master the physicality of the role’ one more time I’m going to stab you.

FELIX: You wouldn’t.

Beat. LEN sharpens something.

FELIX: You wouldn’t, c’mon. You wouldn’t go back to jail over that.

Beat.

FELIX: [less sure] Len?

LEN: No, I’m not going to stab you.

FELIX: Okay. That’s cool. We could do it, though. Look, when I was in West Side Story, I was opposite this gnome who, like—like he couldn’t soft-shoe to save his life, you know? But he killed it as Tony ‘cause he knew how to, like

FELIX does several Broadway-esque dance routine move with a big finish to demonstrate. LEN is not having it.

FELIX: You know?

LEN: No.

FELIX is really trying to make this happen.

No. We’re doing the small-business thing.

FELIX: A family business!

LEN: No. And we need a loan. That’s the plan.

FELIX: What kind of business?

LEN: A bakery—shit, Felix, we talked about this an hour ago. Get it together.

FELIX: Can I ad-lib? Ad-libbing adds so much to this stuff. Remember Vienna?

LEN: We got chased out of Vienna.

FELIX: [dreamy] And what a rush it was.

LEN: Shut up. Shut up. He’s coming. Just stick to the plan.

FELIX: I don’t /want to

LEN: /Shutupshutupshutup

STODDARD enters. They are as grey as their office. They shake hands with each. FELIX does something weird (think kissing STODDARD’s hand, etc.). This is not commented on.

STODDARD: Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr., /uh FELIX /I’M LEN’S SON

STODDARD stops. Looks between the two obviously unrelated figures. LEN puts his head in his hands.

STOD: Mr., um/ LEN /Lenson, yes, that’s us.

FELIX: Our family name! Generations of Lensons ‘round these parts. Pillars of the community, really.

STOD. A Mr. Greg Smorl?

LEN seriously considers going back on that stabbing promise.

LEN That’s us. Lenson is, a. A nickname.* STOD. For both of you.

LEN [awkward, defeated] It’s a family nickname.

STODDARD wants to question this, but honestly, this is just their day job.

STOD. So, Mr. Smorl, it says that you and your… You’ll have to excuse me, but you two don’t look very alike.

FELIX I He panics. …haaaaave a skin condition. And if you don’t mind, I’m really kind of sensitive about it.

LEN That’s alright. We’re here today to talk to you about/

FELIX /Actually, it’s not alright. He stands up to his full height.

LEN tries to push his shoulder down. It doesn’t work.

LEN Oh, Jesus fuck. [to Felix] Son, let’s think this through—

FELIX Where’s your supervisor? I’d like to make a complaint. We’ll have your ass for this.

STOD. [flustered] I’m so sorry, Mr. Smorl, that was out of line. I hope you’ll forgive me, uh… I’m sorry, what was your name?

FELIX It’s Craig.

STOD. Ah.

FELIX Short for Craigory.

LEN [under his breath] Of course it fucking is.

STODDARD shakes their head quickly and glances back at the paperwork.

STOD. Yes, Mr. Smorl, and, erm, Craigory, you’re here to apply for a loan. For a small business?

FELIX It’s a family business!

LEN Yes, my…son and I are opening a bakery together. We’ve been saving up for several years, but we’re really in need of a loan to get things off the ground.*

STOD. Well, I think we can help you with that.

STODDARD plops out a file almost as tall as LEN on the desk.

LEN What’s that?

STOD. Some preliminary contracts, consent to background checks… Nothing unusual. Is that an issue?

LEN No, of course, not, I’m sure all our documentation is in order.

In the corner, THE WATCHER looks up.

Don’t you want to hear about our collateral first, though? I thought that was the first thing you were supposed to ask about.

STOD. We used to do it that way, but there was some trouble with criminal activity. I’m sure you understand.

FELIX starts taking the office supplies he’s stolen out of his pockets and putting them back. If possible, he should put back more than he stole in the first place.

FELIX Criminal activity? Wild. Who would try to… do… a crime…/

LEN /We’re fine with a background check.

STOD. Well, this shouldn’t take too long. Shall we begin?

STODDARD begins to fire questions rapid-fire at LEN. FELIX reacts accordingly.

STOD. Name?

LEN Greg Smorl. No middle name.

STOD. Occupation?

LEN Baker by trade, currently unemployed.

STOD. Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

LEN Absolutely not. He has.

STOD. Credit score?

LEN 761. It’s not.

STOD. Dependents?

LEN None.

FELIX coughs indignantly. One. My, uh. Son.

STOD. And how long have you and your wife been together?

LEN My wife? Beat. Oh, right, my wife.

LEN suddenly remembers that he is not into women.

Wonderful woman. Very… robust.

FELIX Well, she would have to be.

Gestures to himself, i.e. “Can you imagine giving birth to this?”

STOD. Oh, your wife, she’s a dragon?

LEN No. Beat. Actually, she passed away a few years ago. Very upsetting for us.

STOD. I’m very sorry.

FELIX It was difficult. Papa and I really bonded, though. That was right around when we decided to open our/

LEN /Anyway.

STOD. What was her name?

LEN Cynthia. Cynthia…

LEN panics and looks around for a last name. Glances at the desk.

…Staples.

STOD. Cynthia Staples. Alright. STODDARD looks a little suspicious but starts to sort through the files. Just a little more. Now, let’s talk about your collateral.

In the corner, THE WATCHER looks up. Robotic alert speech.

T.W. ALERT. NO MARRIAGE RECORD FOUND FOR: GREG. SMORL.

LEN Oh, jeez!

STOD. Hold on.

T.W. ALERT. NO HOSPITAL RECORDS FOUND FOR: CYNTHIA. STAPLES. SMORL. /ALERT. NO BIRTH RECORDS FOUND FOR: CRAIGORY. SMORL.

LEN /I think there might be a problem with your//

STOD. //Mr. Smorl, hold on.

T.W. SAY ‘REPEAT’ TO REPEAT THIS MESSAGE. SAY ‘CLOSE’ TO CLOSE.

STOD. Mr. Smorl, would you care to explain that?

T.W. SAY ‘REPEAT’ TO REPEAT THIS MESSAGE.

LEN I can explain.

T.W. SAY ‘CLOSE’ TO CLOSE.

LEN Can you turn that thing off? It’s really freaking me out.

STOD. Close!

THE WATCHER stills. STODDARD looks angry.

By all means, do tell.

LEN So, um, anyway, there was a slight issue with my credit in 2015 after my identity was stolen, right after my wife died. Pretty rough for my son and me. So my record is/

STOD. /Yes, but that doesn’t explain//

LEN //A little spotty there. The guy who did it was wild, he/

FELIX /You don’t have a record of me?

STOD. /Mr. Smorl.// .

LEN //spent a pretty exorbitant amount of money on, you know, the usual. Fur coats, plasma TVs, a speedboat…

STOD. Mr. Smorl, hold on/

FELIX /Papa,

LEN /but, I mean, what can you do//

STOD. //MR. SMORL!

LEN and FELIX freeze.

STOD. I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous.

LEN Now, just give me a second, I’m sure there’s a simple explanation to all//

STOD. //No, actually, I don’t think there is. You two are clearly not related, and frankly I’m starting to think this is some kind of scam, so if you’re quite finished, /I’d like you to leave before I call

LEN /There’s no need to do that, come on, we’ll be right//

FELIX //Papa? Both stop and turn to

FELIX, who looks extremely distressed.

This is his big moment. Papa, am I adopted?

Beat. Without warning, FELIX bursts into loud, watery sobs and throws himself across the desk. He and LEN begin to talk over each other.

You never told me/

LEN /Please, let’s not do this here.

FELIX Dr. Christine said I was going through an adjustment period/

LEN /And Dr. Christine is absolutely right, we’ll get you in to see her on Monday//

FELIX //You lied to me/ /

LEN /I’ll explain everything later.

He turns to STODDARD.

STOD. I’m so sorry, I had no idea—

LEN You should be sorry! Look what you’ve done! I’m really tempted to call your manager right now.

STOD. Mr. Smorl, I assure you I had no intention of/

LEN But you did, didn’t you? I think you’ve done enough here. Now that you’ve successfully ruined family dinner, we’d like to get our paperwork in order and go. Do you have a supervisor we can speak to?

STOD. I’ll get right to it, Mr. Smorl.

STODDARD hurries out to look for their boss.

FELIX carries on sobbing for a few seconds after the door closes, then snaps back to normal.

FELIX I think that went pretty well.

LEN I’m going to kill you in your sleep.

FELIX I’m really kind of enjoying feeling out this character. You know, we could really develop this going forward. He was orphaned at a young age, raised by wolves until he was taken in by a lonely baker after the death of his wife—no, raised by dolphins

He continues with an ad-libbed backstory for Craigory. LEN puts his head in his hands. Lights go down.

 


Georgia White is a playwright from Stonington, CT with work produced at Bryn Mawr College and the O’Neill Theater Center. All her characters are gay unless otherwise specified. Special thanks to the original Yes-And cast and crew: Anna Shuff, Claire Pincket, Betsy Ortner, Valerie Jin, Cat Slanski, and Charis Nandor.

I Am A Pear

CHARACTERS:

KIERAN HARBER-GLASSLEY: A teenage boy, a senior in high school.

AVERY HARBER-GLASSLEY: Kieran’s younger sister. An eighth grader. Has a pentagram somewhere on her.

DANNY PIERCE: Kieran’s boyfriend, also a senior in high school.

JOHN GLASSLEY: Kieran and Avery’s dad.

MELANIE HARBER: Kieran and Avery’s mother.

Lights go on. KIERAN, AVERY, JOHN, and MELANIE are onstage. They are dressed semi-formal, and are setting up the dinner table for a semi-formal occasion. KIERAN is pacing around, fretting.

AVERY: (Jumping up and down) When is he coming? When is he coming?

KIERAN: Bug off, Avery, I’m already nervous as it is.

AVERY: I’m so excited! My brother has a booooooyfriend!

KIERAN: Shut up, Avery. As if I need my weirdo witch sister bothering me at a time like this.

AVERY: You don’t know what you’re talking about! I am not weird! I am good at being a witch!

MELANIE: Kieran, be nice to your sister.

Doorbell rings. KIERAN jolts. AVERY’S glee increases. KIERAN adjusts his shirt, brushes back his hair, and answers the door. AVERY giggles behind him. DANNY enters. He is brings a bouquet of flowers with him. No one notices it, but there’s a beat when AVERY sees DANNY. The light goes gray over her, and her entire attitude completely changes. 

KIERAN: Oh, Danny! That’s so sweet of you, come in, come in! Mom, Dad, this is Danny.

DANNY shakes MELANIE and JOHN’S hands.

DANNY: Hello, Mrs. Harber, Mr. Glassley. Great to meet you.

JOHN: Oh, please, call me John.

MELANIE: Call me Melanie.

The family is laughing together with DANNY, making small talk. AVERY is off to the side, sulking. The light darkens around everyone else except for her. 

AVERY: My brother should not be dating that boy.

Lights go back to normal. She joins the family as they start to eat dinner. AVERY sits next to KIERAN, and DANNY sits on the other side of him. The parents sit on the other side. As the conversation goes, AVERY proceeds to annoyingly and aggressively poke her brother in the arm.

KIERAN: — And then I told, Danny, well, if the Neutral Milk Hotel albums on vinyl are out of stock at — Avery, please stop poking me — then you should — Avery, please stop poking me — probably — AVERY.

AVERY makes her best begging dog face, as well as her best I-need-you-to-listen-to-me flail as possible. KIERAN simply glares at her.

JOHN: Please do not bother your brother, Avery.

KIERAN: Actually, I think I need to go to the bathroom, anyway.

KIERAN walks over to the side. AVERY follows him. The lights darken over DANNY and the parents, who are no longer paying attention to KIERAN or AVERY, and they continue a conversation as the two siblings talk to each other. 

Avery, what is your deal? I thought you were happy about my boyfriend. I thought you were happy about Danny. But now you gotta go and act all weird on me. Do you realize how much this means to me?

AVERY sulks, not answering her brother. She opens her mouth to say something, but instead looks down on the ground, and mumbles something unintelligible.

Avery.

No answer. KIERAN raises one eyebrow.

Avery, am I not the only one attracted to Danny here? Might I add, that he is a twelfth grader, and you are an eighth grader?

AVERY freezes. She blushes hard, and then panics, trying to hide it. KIERAN shakes his head.

AVERY: I don’t — you don’t —

KIERAN: Alright, then, Avery, just don’t start anything funny here. Especially not anything witchy. Be normal for once and keep this to yourself.

KIERAN turns to return back to the conversation with the family, but AVERY does not return with him. An idea spreads in her head. Lights go back to the rest of the family.

MELANIE: Avery? Are you going to join the family back again right now? We are having a very lovely conversation here, I daresay, your brother is dating a very wonderful guy.

AVERY: Coming, mom, I just think I’ll get the dessert.

AVERY leaves. She returns with pear cobbler, and serves it to the family. As she returns to her seat by KIERAN, a suspicious smile starts to form across her face that no one notices.

JOHN: Oh, pear cobbler! What a treat. Thank you, Avery. Danny, did you ever know that Kieran’s sister is absolutely fantastic at baking desserts?

The family starts to bite into the pear cobbler. They are all enjoying the food. Suddenly, KIERAN jolts. Something inside of him has changed, and he is most certainly not himself.

KIERAN: I am a pear.

Beat. MELANIE, JOHN, and DANNY exchange looks. AVERY’S grin widens.

DANNY: I’m sorry, what?

MELANIE: Kieran? Are you okay?

JOHN: Son?

KIERAN stands on the table, his movements oddly robotic. As he speaks, he begins kneel down, taking the shape of a pear. 

KIERAN: I am a pear. I have a stem on top. I have a green body which is narrow on the top. My bottom is very plump.

The family stares at him in stunned silence.

DANNY: Um … Okay …

MELANIE: I — I —

JOHN: Son, first you come out to us as gay, and now you are telling us that you are a pear. Any more secrets that you are hiding?

There’s a beat. Everyone except for KIERAN turns to look at him.

AVERY: What?

DANNY: Your own son is behaving this way, and that is honestly your response? I am ashamed of you.

MELANIE: John, what on Earth?

DANNY: You find your son being gay equivalent to him being a pear? That doesn’t make sense.

MELANIE: John, I —

KIERAN: I am a pear.

MELANIE: Well, you what, son, that is fine. (Turns around to JOHN, her voice quieter) Honey, what the hell.

DANNY: (Swallowing) For real, though.

As soon as DANNY swallows, KIERAN whips his head to stare at him. There is an awkward silence, and DANNY awkwardly coughs. AVERY’S mood starts to shift. She doesn’t say anything that gives it away, but she slowly starts to realize that this joke isn’t funny anymore.

KIERAN: You’re eating me, Danny.

AVERY and the parents stare at DANNY.

DANNY: What?

KIERAN: My body. You are eating me. I am a pear and you are eating me. In the cobbler.

DANNY awkwardly realizes what is going on. He vomits. 

My family is eating me.

KIERAN snaps his head back to staring in the original position.

I am being eaten. I am nothing more than a fruit to consume in your dessert.

DANNY: Kieran, I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, I didn’t realize —

KIERAN: I am a pear.

AVERY: Kieran —

KIERAN: I am a pear.

JOHN: Son, the thing I said was ridiculous of me, and I’m —

KIERAN: I am a pear.

MELANIE: Kieran, you know better than —

KIERAN: I am a pear.

Beat.

DANNY: Is all that you are going to say is that you’re a pear?

KIERAN: I am a pear.

MELANIE slowly starts to stare at AVERY. There’s a very long silence, but, eventually, JOHN starts to catch on, too. DANNY is confused.

MELANIE: Avery.

JOHN: Avery.

There’s a beat. AVERY curls up into a ball. DANNY cocks his head to the side, not understanding.

MELANIE: Did you lace your brother’s cobbler with potion again?

AVERY: (Quietly) Maybe.

MELANIE facepalms. JOHN shakes his head.

JOHN: You know the drill. You can’t use your magic on family members.

DANNY: What’s going on? I don’t understand.

AVERY: (Looking down, almost to a whisper) Let’s just say, whereas magic is a very regular practice for me, I think we all know that I’ve taken it too far this time.

DANNY: What?

AVERY stands up. She turns around to DANNY for one short moment, and smiles sadly at him.

AVERY: In order to free him, I must take on the curse I have given him.

The lights get very dark, except for at the table, where a very red light shows. She eats the last of KIERAN’S cobbler. KIERAN falls to the ground, limp. DANNY grabs him to make sure that he is okay. AVERY walks onto the table, and stands there, robotically still. The lights go off, and then go back. They are the normal way that they were before. 

I am a pear.

Lights go off. End of play.

 


Mercury Marvin Sunderland is a transgender autistic gay man who uses he/him. He attends The Evergreen State College, and his dream is to become the most banned author in human history. He’s been featured in five magazines, including The Dollhouse and Marathon Literary Review. He’s @RomanGodMercury on Instagram and Facebook.

Girls and Boys, When They Sit in Trees and Share Their Toys

THE GIRL and THE BOY are in a kitchen, or in a car. They are very young. They might be crying, but probably not.

THE GIRL

HE MET AT THE HOMECOMING

DANCE WHO TOLD HIM

THEY WOULD NEVER MARRY

The books are the only things left.

THE BOY

WHO LIKED TO DRIVE FAST

CARS WHO WISHED HER BOOBS

WERE BIGGER

And you expect me to just hand them over?

THE GIRL

WHO LIKED TO READ BOOKS

   Did you read the books?

THE BOY

WHO HATED SUMMER

                   Only the one book.

THE GIRL

WHOSE PARENTS LET HIM

SLEEP IN HER BED

   Which one?

THE BOY

WHO LOVED HER OR SO HE

THOUGHT

   The one with your notes in it.

THE GIRL

WHO BOUGHT HIM AN

AIRPLANE LEGO SET FOR

HIS 19th BIRTHDAY TO WHICH

HE SAID I ONLY LIKE THE

STAR WARS LEGOS

   I didn’t write any notes.

THE BOY

   WHO BOUGHT HER DIAMONDS FOR

   HER BIRTHDAY AND RECEIVED

   ONLY A POLITE SMILE

   IN RESPONSE

   What were the notes then?

THE GIRL

   WHO THREW UP HER DINNER

   WHEN HE TOLD HER SHE WAS FAT

   They were already in the book when I bought it.

   My flight is at 12:45 tomorrow.

THE BOY

WHO HOARDED FOOD WHEN SHE

TOLD HIM HE WAS TOO SKINNY

   And?

THE GIRL

WHO HAD SWORN THAT SHE

WOULD NEVER LET A MAN’S

OPINION DICTATE HER CHOICES

   I thought you might want to know.

THE BOY

WHO EXPECTED SEX SIMPLY

BECAUSE SHE WAS HIS GIRLFRIEND

AND THAT IS WHAT GIRLFRIENDS

ARE SUPPOSED TO DO

   I didn’t.

THE GIRL

WHO WOULDN’T WEAR THONGS

EVEN WHEN HE ASKED NICELY

   Are you going to give me back my books?

THE BOY

WHO WAS JEALOUS OF OTHER BOYS

   I will if you kiss me.

THE GIRL

WHO WAS JEALOUS OF OTHER GIRLS

   Your kisses hurt.

THE BOY

WHO PAID $75 TO BUY HER THE

CUSTOM CORSAGE SHE DEMANDED

FOR PROM EVEN THOUGH HIS FRIENDS

ONLY PAID $40 FOR THEIR DATES

   Not even to say goodbye?

THE GIRL

   WHO WAS ALLERGIC TO GRASS

   I said goodbye a long time ago. You just weren’t

   listening.

THE BOY

   SHE LOVED OR SO HE THOUGHT

   And that’s why you won’t touch me?

THE GIRL

   WHO WEPT THE FIRST TIME AND

   THE SECOND TIME AND THE THIRD

   TIME AND THE FOURTH TIME

   Give me my books.

THE BOY

SHE CALLED EVERY NIGHT

If I threw these books at your eyes, one after the

other, your eyes would turn black. They would grow two

sizes, they would explode. You’d have to grope around

with your hands in the dark, because you’d have no eyes,

because I would have your eyes forever.

THE GIRL

   WHO SWORE TO BE FREE

   I need them back so I can rip them apart. So I can burn

   them.

THE BOY

   WHO LIKED HER PUDDING AND PIE,

   WHO KISSED

   Like I ripped you apart?

THE GIRL

AND MADE HER CRY

Are you going to give me my books?

 

 

END OF PLAY

 


Anna Miles has been creating feminist theatrical spaces and experiences as an actor, director and playwright professionally since 2013. She holds a BA in Theater and Creative Writing from Northwestern University, where her play It Was the Nightingale: Persephone’s Play was workshopped under the mentorship of Lookingglass Theater’s founding member David Catlin. She went on to earn her master’s from Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company MFA Programs in Acting and Directing, where she continued her playwriting studies under Trinity Rep’s resident playwright, Deborah Salem Smith, and where her play Alice’s Sordid Adventures Into What Was Once a Wonderland was selected for a staged reading. Anna’s work has most recently been produced at the Chance Theater in Anaheim, CA: her short plays Thinking of Monkeys and The Highest Shelf debuted as part of the company’s annual Chance-A-Thon festivals in 2017 and 2018, and her play Think of Me, Fred Weasley performed at both the Chance Theater and the Little Victory Theater in Burbank in Summer of 2018. Her non-fiction and fiction writing has been published in Prompt Magazine, the Ms. Millennial Blog, and Z Publishing’s “California’s Emerging Writers” series.

The Wall of Language

In response to

A COUPLE OF POOR, POLISH-SPEAKING ROMANIANS by Dorota Masłowska

translated from the Polish by Benjamin Paloff

Characters:

Blythe and Sy: A couple of idiots

The ghost of La Virgen de Guadalupe


Los Angeles. Winter. It’s 80 degrees out, who are we kidding. A gas station. Mariachi music.

BLYTHE: Hey! Hey! Are you our Driver?

SY: Fucking Lyft.

BLYTHE: Hay lady!

SY: Dude.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Fue hace unos años.

Muchos años?

No sé.

No puedo estar seguro. No mas. Jamas. Pyjamas.[1]

BLYTHE: Hi we need to get to Echo Park.

SY: Echo Park.

BLYTHE: Hables English?

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: I’ll put it in my GPS. One sec. How’s your morning going?

SY: I don’t even know. Morning? It was morning, I suppose. Out on the Pacific. The big blue. The water isn’t really blue, you know. The Greeks didn’t even have a word for blue. Most ancient people didn’t. I know. I read an article. Recent concept, blue. Like, there’s this one tribe, they have like five words for different shades of green, but none for blue. And you show them some green squares and some blue squares and they can’t tell the difference, you know, but if you show them a fucking dark green square and man they’re all over it like white on rice. They probably don’t have oceans, though. It’s more grey, in the morning that is. On Pacific Coast Highway? You know? PCH? We had chorizo, I think. Yeah! And eggs. After Moonrise Shakers. From one of those little dive-y places. You know the type. I mean you’re His-panic. You know.

BLYTHE: Dude, wait up, have you seen my baby?

SY: Your baby?

BLYTHE: Yeah don’t fuck with me. My baby girl. You know.

SY: I hear. I dunno if I know, bro. You brought a baby out to the Moonrise Shakers last night?

BLYTHE: No, my baby girl. Cariño.

SY: (aside) Shouldn’t that be cariña?

BLYTHE: (aside) Nah dude. It’s a masculine noun. ‘o’ ending for male and female. (back in the scene) God. Where is she? I was cradling her last night. I was feeling her warm breath on my face in the mist, in the sea salt spray. They say there are women who live in the mist, in Ireland, at least, they say that. I don’t know in California. Probably they all burn up once the sun comes up. Baby girl, baby girl, melted away like so much ice cream. You ever wonder if ice cream truck drivers go crazy, listening to that same song day in and day out, if they ever go fucking bananas and just kill someone and stash their body in the freezer?

SY: Wait, is your baby like a baby or like a chick, you know?

BLYTHE: Like my sky and earth and sun. Not sun. Daughter. Ellen Degeneres. If she grows up to be a lesbian I think I’ll be okay with that.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: (unheard) In like a tolerant way or a ‘fuck yeah!’ way?

SY: Wait, wait, go back, did you have her at Moonrise?

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: What color were her eyes?

BLYTHE: Green? Blue?

SY: Was she there with you at Moonrise?

BLYTHE: No? I think…nah man. If I had her I would have used her. OH! THERE she is! (Pulls out a gun.)

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Pues, fue hace mucho tiempo.

No recuerdo tanto ahora.

Recuerdo que viniéron,

Que nos quitaron nuestro tierra,

Nuestro cielo,

Que despues, lo unico

Que podiamos hacer –

Era reir por falta de lagrimas.[2]

BLYTHE: Oh, we pretend to be frat boys but we’re secretly Mexicans.

SY: Or, wait, was it the other way around? Are these boat shoes or galoshes?

BLYTHE: He is the housewife. He does the cooking and cleaning.

SY: Oh I’m the housewife? Well, you’re the ranchero. That’s right. All he does all day is drink and sing ballads.

BLYTHE: That’s bullshit.

SY: It’s true.

BLYTHE: I’ve had enough of your blue and your green and your bullshit!

SY: There’s a wall between language and meaning. I’ll –

BLYTHE shoots SY. It’s gory. BLYTHE takes out an ear of native corn and begins to plant kernels in the corpse. He sneaks something from a hip flask while he plants, and mutters an old ballad.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Wait, you’re not Latino. Are you allowed to make metaphors with corn?

BLYTHE: I’m not sure what I am anymore. I lie there like a burnt-out whore in a burnt-out house. My body’s the house, understand? My mind is the whore? Maybe. Metaphor’s foggy. Too many amphetamines. Was it today? Yesterday? And when I say burnt out, I mean scrubbed out, scraped out. Barren soil, see. No one’s gonna mash bananas for the baby now. Just corn. Just plain corn and corn meal and masa and tortillas with salt. Y mi madre. Mi madre con los ojos revolucionarios, mi madre viene como un viento, un milagro, my madre viene y los lobos sueltan.[3]

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Well, if you don’t mind, I’m going to put some music on. Some really hardcore EDM, I think. Like, untz – untz – untz. Something you could rage your face off too, all molly’d up, at your frat.

BLYTHE: I don’t know anything about rage. Could you teach me?

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Of course I could. I’m the Mother of God.

BLYTHE: La sagrada virgen?

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Si, mijo. Y aqui estoy al fin del mundo, por los ultimos dias[4], on fucking PCH.

BLYTHE begins to have contortions. Labor pains.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: It’s all immaculate conception, from here on out. Do you want to go left on Sunset? Do you have a preferred route?

BLYTHE: It hurts…oh God, it hurts.

I wonder if I left the iron on?

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: You should have thought of that sooner. Ai, mijo. If we were at my place, mi sanctuario, te haceré un té con limon y menta. Menta for the pain. Limon ‘cause you’re an asshole.

BLYTHE: Ahhh!

As BLYTHE’s contractions come closer together, the corn he planted in SY starts to sprout, little tendrils rising up. 

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: I suppose I’d best get you to a hospital, in that case. Classic. Always la madre rushing in to save the day. You’re welcome! By the way. And you think you’re so punk. Not even punk anymore. That was too rebellious, too hippy, too anarchist. You think you’re so frat. So-future-investment-banker with coke already dusting his dollar bills. With your Sparies. Always carving out plates, spoons, hangers, ah, como se digan, some musical instruments.

SY: (sprouted, corn-filled) Out on the banks there wasn’t even much room for crops. We built terraces in the mountains to the North and curated las selvas like a garden, cured the trees like the meat we spat over fires in pots con sal y chiles. My Dad’s Irish my Mom’s Italian. I’m an asshole. But I grew up out here in the asshole of California so I guess that makes me Mexican, right, two hundred years ago, out before the Gold Rush and the Chinese and gay bars and Madame Toussads. And maybe I’m not an original, no, no maybe, I’m not an original, not even a carbon copy, but I was weaned on the desert and if my Mom didn’t know enough to bury the umbilical cord out back to tie me to the land it’s not her fault, okay, it’s not her damn fault, she’s just Italian, okay, my Mom is, she’s Italian, my, my okay, my just, my damn, fault, fault, fault, sprouted, husk me, huck me, Huckleberry Finn, American classics and the land still belongs, it still belongs to the Spanish to the Indians to the corn, to me, or, no, I to it, eye to it, intuit. Inuit? No. No, probably not that.

BLYTHE: Ahhhhh!

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Can you translate?

SY: Sure.

BLYTHE: Ahhhh!

SY: His baby is a gun. It’s painful.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: I can imagine.

SY: Second amendment.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: What?

SY: Why he didn’t get an abortion. We talked about it.

LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE: Is it yours?

SY: The baby. The world. What isn’t?

Blackout. Gunshot. Baby crying.

 

[1] It was many years ago. Many years? I’m not sure. I can’t be sure anymore.

[2] Well, it was a long time ago. I don’t remember as much now. I remember that they came, that they took our land, our sky, and that after, the only thing we could do was laugh – for lack of tears.

[3] And my mother. My mother with the revolutionary’s eyes, my mother comes like a wind, like a miracle, my mother comes and the wolves are released/fall apart.

[4] And here I am at the end of the world, in the final days,

 


Brian is currently working on a book of essays for Harper Collins on site-specific and performance poetry’s intersections with marginalized spaces. He published his first book of poetry, I Sold These Poems, Now I Want Them Back, in 2016 with Yak Press. He has been the Writer in Residence for the Mall of America, Amtrak Trains, and Dollar Shave Club, and also creates typewriter poetry installations and shows for large clients from Google to the Emmys. As a teaching artist, Brian guest lectures at UCLA and teaches K-12 students throughout LA County in partnership with Get Lit and 24th Street Theatre. Brian holds an MA from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, with a thesis on community voicing projects.

Want: An Odyssey of an Interview

Cast of Characters

PRODUCER: A voice: a woman of unidentifiable age and a cool measuredness. Is
she God?

LEATHER DADDY: A man of at least 40. He wears a leather jacket and leather cap, a la
Tom of Finland, but his sexuality has partially spoiled. Probably has a moustache.

SIX PACK JACK: A man-child in his late teens to twenties. Young, swarthy, vapid, cartoon.

PAULIE: A disheveled and baseline-irate middle-aged man. He is wearing a soiled sleeveless shirt that once was white, and his gut asserts itself.

EAGLE EGG: A fussy yet urgently desirous woman in her 20s or 30s. She is pert,
dressed formally.

JUSTICE: A beautiful, wily, androgynous stud. They have short hair and two thin
lines of mustache drawn on with eyeliner or marker on either side of their
mouth. It is an obvious affectation, and is intended as such. Shimmery,
devilish, universally arresting.

Place

A spare studio.

Perhaps they’re in a mall, or somewhere in the Lower East Side. Or on the moon.

Note

All dialogue has been adapted from data culled from a widely distributed anonymous survey. No character represents any one respondent; they form a raucous aggregate every(wo)man.


Scene 1

Setting: ALL CHARACTERS sit on individual flimsy stools before identical photo studio
backdrops across the stage. Maybe the backdrops are patterned with clouds.
The spotlight will rest only on the character being interviewed. They are not present for one another’s interviews, and they’ve probably never met.
The transitions between scenes are 1-2 seconds long as lighting is adjusted.

At Rise: Spotlight on LEATHER DADDY as he stares confidently into a fixed point in the
audience that we come to understand represents the PRODUCER. The PRODUCER is offstage; her voice stands in for her body.

PRODUCER

Thanks for coming today.

LEATHER DADDY

Mhm. Sure.

PRODUCER

So. We’ll get to it. What do you want?

LEATHER DADDY

(Thoughtful, unexpectedly erudite)

To sit or recline comfortably in total darkness. To become drunk while cooking a delicious fillet. To have one friend, maybe two. To escape my inner saboteur. To avoid obligation both to others and the self. More money. Less dread.

BLACKOUT

Scene 2

Spotlight on SIX PACK JACK.

PRODUCER

So, what do you want?

SIX PACK JACK

To quit my day job.

BLACKOUT

Scene 3

Spotlight on PAULIE.

PAULIE (Desperately.)

The answers, man. I want the answers. I need to make up my mind. I can’t make up my fuckin’ mind.

BLACKOUT

Scene 4

Spotlight on EAGLE EGG.

EAGLE EGG (Timidly, tepidly.)

A sense of home, and an intriguing mind to share it with. I want to feel completely seen, you know? I want…

(Her desires have sprung a leak.)

I want to travel spontaneously. I want to want to go to… Madagascar! But I also want to be happy in one place. I want to live in my body, and to trace it. I want to do yoga on a mountain! To watch myself dance madly in the mirror, and to like it.

(Remembering herself.)

And I want to find a partner – not just a boyfriend or a husband to roll my eyes at and demand things from. I want a man who will go through life with me as a good friend. Nothing loud or showy or extravagant or wild – but paced and patient, and supportive. Maybe sometimes even boring! We’ll sit quietly together in our even happiness. And maybe go to Madagascar.

BLACKOUT

Scene 5

Spotlight on JUSTICE.

JUSTICE

Money, baby. I want to fill a yacht with dollar bills and float down the river by its side on an inner tube. No. I want to BE money. Am I already money? (Winks.)

PRODUCER (Nervously.)

Oh! Haha.

BLACKOUT

Scene 6

Spotlight back on LEATHER DADDY.

PRODUCER

What has to change?

LEATHER DADDY

Capitalism. The laws of physics. My relationship with my father. My mortgage rate. I’d like to subtract ten years from this body but keep the wisdom. I need to be less hungry – or hungrier. (Pointing.) To direct my desire.

BLACKOUT

Scene 7

Spotlight on SIX PACK JACK.

SIX PACK JACK

I need money, baby. I need to meet a rich woman who’ll take care of me. Look at me, look at this beautiful body, I deserve it. I’m a prize. I’m not picky, either. I’ll take ‘em young or old. I’d be like Anna Nicole Smith, marrying that ancient dude. I could have my own show on cable.

BLACKOUT

Scene 8

Spotlight on PAULIE.

PRODUCER

What needs to change?

PAULIE

(slumped, radiating anxiety. an dangerously unpredictable physicality.)

What needs to fuckin’ change? What doesn’t?

(He doesn’t say “bitch,” but he may as well have.)

The fuckin’ government, lady. The fact that I have to grind my hands to a pulp to put food on the table. The fact that my wife wishes she married Joe the grocer down the street, with the tiny fuckin’ Asian car. What the fuck do you think has to change? And now I can’t make up my fuckin’ mind. No one looks out for the guy like me, the average guy like me. And now I can’t fuckin’ decide or make up my fuckin’ mind.

BLACKOUT

Scene 9

Spotlight on EAGLE EGG.

EAGLE EGG (Somewhat loosened.)

What needs to change? Something fundamental about human nature, like at the lizard brain level. Our systems have failed. It’s depressing that the best compromise I can think of between an ideal future and a realistic one is something like The Matrix, only you don’t escape from it.

( She reveals to us her strangeness.)

We also need much more ozone. Also we should let the people who can afford to go to Mars do that and stay there, the sooner the better. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

BLACKOUT

Scene 10

Spotlight on JUSTICE.

JUSTICE (Licks their lips, contemplates.)

I need more sex. More dancing. More parties. Trips to Berlin. You know, the bouncers know me at Berghain. Stick with me, kid. I’m on the list. I am the list. Do you want a club-mate? I brought a case. We’re going to Bossa Nova later. (Holds up bottle.)

BLACKOUT

Scene 11

Spotlight on EAGLE EGG.

PRODUCER

Okay, this is a fun one. If you could live during any historical period, which would you choose and why?

EAGLE EGG (Vibrating with intentionality.)

Historical period? What do people say, like, the roaring twenties? The summer of love? What a question. (Considers.) I’d choose the 70s, maybe, for its emergent activism. (Considers further.) I won’t pretend I haven’t considered the question. Who hasn’t? But there’s also the issue of the continuum. I could put countless lives in jeopardy. I could erase my own existence. I mean, it’s not like that’s the chief issue, at hand, but… my perspective is inherently limited to the self. Damn self. Think of the wars, or dinosaurs, or paradoxes; the butterfly effect. There’s just so much unknown. I don’t know if I could be responsible for the repercussions of that decision. I can barely be accountable to myself.

(Pause.)

I’ll tell you — I’d love to adopt a little cat. I’ve even picked her out from the shelter. She’s perfectly white. I’d name her Iona. But every night I dream that once I have her, bring her home, her little head slides right off her neck and – plop! – drops onto the floor.

BLACKOUT

Scene 12

Spotlight on SIX PACK JACK.

SIX PACK JACK

(Gussying up as he considers.)

Historically? (Laughs.) I think I’d like to be a Roman. With a long sword. And golden shield. I’d charge out of that horse, you know. The big one from that movie with Brad Pitt. Slice some goddamn throats. Get the girl.

BLACKOUT

Scene 13

Spotlight on PAULIE.

PAULIE (Personally affronted.)

What kinda fuckin’ question is that?? Historical period? Must be nice to have the time to think about fanciful shit like that. Unicorns and sunflowers and strollin’ through the rain and shit. Must be nice.

PRODUCER

What do you think about?

PAULIE

Real fuckin’ life. My family. My kids. The fuckin’ government. Big brother watching over everything I say and do. The cameras they put in the trees in the parks, now. You heard about those? Good luck taking a leak when you need it. Good luck finding a moment of fuckin’ privacy.

BLACKOUT

Scene 14

Spotlight on LEATHER DADDY.

LEATHER DADDY (Calm. A breath of fresh air.)

I’d like to visit Ancient Egypt, before the library of Alexandria burned down. I think about that library often. What was lost? Of course, I’d have to be of a certain social class to benefit from the library. That’s implicit in all these historical what-if exercises. ( Pauses judgmentally.) Are you familiar with the concept of the grandfather paradox? Really, questions of this ilk are so transparently flawed.

BLACKOUT

Scene 15

Spotlight on JUSTICE.

JUSTICE (Oddly threatening.)

Germany, during the counter-reformation. (Takes a long sip of club-mate.)

BLACKOUT

Scene 16

Spotlight on SIX PACK JACK.

PRODUCER

Okay. Ready? Describe your ideal partner.

SIX PACK JACK (Flexing his arms. A caricature.)

Myself.

BLACKOUT

Scene 17

Spotlight on LEATHER DADDY, our North star.

LEATHER DADDY (Grins wrly.)

A partner? Trusting, witty, well-read. Not interested in ownership. Veiny forearms. Thick legs. Patient. Unconventionally romantic. Has a favorite Tarkovsky movie. Wants kids. Understands strength lies in vulnerability.

BLACKOUT

Scene 18

Spotlight on PAULIE.

PAULIE (Having lost some steam.)

My ideal partner? Can I be completely honest with you? I’m not such a conventional guy. People see me, they think, this is a conventional, everyday guy, walking down the street. No. Not so. I got exotic tastes. I don’t want your barbies, your bimbos, you know what I’m saying? I like flavor in my women. Spice. Vim. Vigor. Alright. My all-time dream woman? Cher in Moonstruck. She can slap me across the face any day, to tell you the absolute truth.

BLACKOUT

Scene 19

Spotlight on EAGLE EGG.

EAGLE EGG (Naked with desire.)

I want someone silly who will detect that, while I’ll never say it, I desperately want to dance to old timey music with them. I desire a mind I can love and fascinate over. Chew over. Someone with a lovely and lively intuition. “Two solitudes that meet, protect and greet each other,” as Rilke put it.

(Pause.)

I need someone who will let me trace and analyze them from head to toe. Someone who is learning and failing too, and waking up the next day. Someone funny and dumb and smart. Caring and eager to attend to this common world, who will love the sound of rain the with me. Who’ll watch movies with me.

(Another pause.)

I’m afraid to utter what I want out of fear that utterance will evaporate my chances. Evaporate the person. Or persons. (Baldly.) I believe in them.

BLACKOUT

Scene 20

Spotlight on JUSTICE.

JUSTICE (Thinking they’re a real card.)

I like legs that go all the way up to the asshole.

BLACKOUT

Scene 21

Spotlight on LEATHER DADDY.

PRODUCER

Okay, this is your last question. Describe your ideal self.

LEATHER DADDY (Considers.)

Voracious. A sexual hero. Peaceful. Compassionate. Assured. Accepting of change. Eating raw vegetables. Saying “no” more. Saying “yes” more. Myself. More of myself. At The Cock on Second Avenue.

BLACKOUT

Scene 22

Spotlight on JUSTICE.

JUSTICE

A Duchamp readymade radiating sex. A pulsing, erect art. The feeling when you wake up from a nightmare, skin cells percolating. A nonsense. An aroma: Tiresias Fucked. A brand. A lifestyle. An aimless bullet. An aimlessness.

BLACKOUT

Scene 23

Spotlight on PAULIE.

PAULIE (Drained, slumped, like a used handkerchief.)

My ideal self would be a self that could go the fuck home, please. When do I get my thirty bucks?

(Pause; implied silent encouragement from PRODUCER.)

Alright, fine, lady. I’m getting laid more. You like that? And I’m a world champion darts player. With groupies. I can’t think about this shit. What’s the fuckin’ point? Will you tell me, what is even the fuckin’ point of all this? Of thinking about this? I’ve got to decide on shit! I got real-life shit! How nice for you that you can spend your afternoons asking philosophical questions. Missus Socrates over here. How cute.

BLACKOUT

Scene 24

Spotlight on SIX PACK JACK.

SIX PACK JACK

(Now shirtless, applying grease to his pectorals).

My ideal self? Babe, why bother asking? You know what my answer’s gonna be. Take it all in.

(Grotesquely flexes.)

BLACKOUT

Scene 25

Spotlight on EAGLE EGG.

EAGLE EGG (Loosened.)

Who do I want to be? I want to act from the part of myself that wants to love, rather than the self that wants to be loved. To learn to be less crazed. Less neurotic. To commit to a yoga practice! To be forgiving. To recall that I have body, that I hold multiplicities in tension. To challenge myself, attending to my private world while also attending to the people I care for. To ask questions. To constantly learn and grow. To identify emotions and live happily, or contentedly, among them. To pluck from the tree of them and eat them. To find peace with the self and its notions. To grant others the strangeness that I often trick myself into thinking I am alone and lost in. To find communion with others. To allow in communion.

PRODUCER

Thank you. That’s all. Nice job.

(EAGLE EGG awkwardly rises from the stool, gathers herself, visibly adjusts her features to guard against the outside world, and walks off stage.)

BLACKOUT

THE END

 

 


Sam Regal is a playwright, poet, performance artist, and recent transplant from Brooklyn to Athens, Georgia. Her translation of Yao Feng’s One Love Only Until Death was published in 2017 by Vagabond Press, and she has performed most notably with Jennifer Vanilla at MoMA PS1, Le Poisson Rouge, and Brooklyn Bazaar. A former resident at TENT within the Yiddish Book Center, Sam was awarded the Colie Hoffman Prize in Poetry in 2017. She earned her MFA from Hunter College and now studies within the Creative Writing Ph.D. Program at the University of Georgia.

Why You Can’t Put a Wheelchair on the Stage

Conceived by Rani Deighe Crowe with Jill Summerville
* Monologues from Macbeth and Henry VI by William Shakespeare
** Dialogue from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Additional references to A Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Noises Off by Michael Frayn, and the musical Chicago
First staged reading Open Circle Theatre, Washington, DC


ACT I

Scene 1

Lights up. A special on an empty wheelchair center stage.

Director One enters, considering the wheelchair, making a wide circle.

DIRECTOR ONE

But what does it mean?

Director Two enters, followed by Director Three. They examine the wheelchair.

DIRECTOR TWO

It must be a metaphor.

DIRECTOR THREE

It will upstage the actors.

DIRECTOR ONE

Is it a tragedy?

DIRECTOR THREE

It will throw off the levels.

DIRECTOR ONE

Is it existential?

DIRECTOR TWO

It makes me sad.

DIRECTOR THREE

It moves so slowly. It’s gonna throw off the blocking. Maybe we can decorate it?

DIRECTOR ONE

Trapped in the modern condition…

DIRECTOR TWO

Exactly.

DIRECTOR THREE

Put it on a higher level? Do we have hydraulics? Or a flat? Where’s the stage manager?

DIRECTOR TWO

Just put it in the background. It’ symbolic.

The directors stop suddenly and stare at an actress with canes entering, moving slowly and loudly.

The directors silently watch her cross the stage and sit in the chair. The actress stares at the audience. Prepared to take direction. The directors huddle.

ALL THREE DIRECTORS

Shit.

DIRECTOR ONE

Now what are we supposed to do?

DIRECTOR THREE

It must be outreach night.

DIRECTOR ONE AND TWO

Outreach night!

Director Three approaches the wheelchair.

DIRECTOR TWO

Excuse me.

ACTRESS

Yes?

DIRECTOR TWO

Sweetie, are you sure you’re in the right place?

DIRECTOR ONE

       (Covering the actress with a blanket)

You look cold.

DIRECTOR THREE

Let us show you to the wheelchair section.

               AS THE DIRECTORS GRAB PART OF THE WHEELCHAIR AND START PUSHING IT TOWARD THE AUDIENCE.

DIRECTOR TWO

Thank you so much for coming.

DIRECTOR ONE

You’re such an inspiration.

The actress pushes back from the directors and moves herself back into the spotlight.

ACTRESS

I’m your actor.

Pause

I am waiting for you to direct me.

The directors huddle.

DIRECTOR THREE

Do you know any wheelchair plays? I’m classically trained.

DIRECTOR ONE

Normally, I’d cast an able-bodied actress…

DIRECTOR TWO

A wheelchair might help illustrate the character’s dependence…

DIRECTOR ONE

Maybe-

DIRECTOR TWO

… a physical manifestation

DIRECTOR ONE

Maybe.

They stare at the actress, considering…

DIRECTOR ONE

The Glass Menagerie!

       (to the Actress)

You’re crippled. You’re dependent. But you resent it.

Lights out.

The actors scramble to their places.

         LIGHTS UP WITH A WASH.:

Director Two becomes TOM. Director Three takes the spotlight and becomes AMANDA. Director One watches intently from the audience.

DIRECTOR TWO

The play is a memory…   gentleman caller…

DIRECTOR THREE

All that money up the spout.

DIRECTOR TWO

Blue Roses

DIRECTOR THREE

Jonquils. Jonquils. Jonquils.

DIRECTOR ONE

  (to Actress, feeding her lines)

Admit that I’m crippled… Admit that I’m crippled-

Actress halts everything.

ACTRESS

No. No. No. Laura? Have you no vision? Gimme Amanda.

     SPOTLIGHT COMES ON.:

ACTRESS

The typing instructor didn’t even know who you were. All that money just gone up the spout!

The picnics and dances. My gentlemen callers! Lovely. Everywhere filled with jonquils. And   then I met your father…

The Directors stare.

ALL THREE DIRECTORS

Huh.

DIRECTOR ONE

That was interesting.

DIRECTOR TWO

Yeah.

DIRECTOR THREE

Let’s do Lady M.

DIRECTOR ONE

Oooh.

DIRECTOR TWO

Yeah.

DIRECTOR THREE

Can you do Lady M?

ACTRESS

Out damned spot.

DIRECTOR THREE

More movement.

Actress uses hands.

ACTRESS

Out, I say!-One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ‘t. Hell is murky!

DIRECTOR THREE

Across the stage.

Actress starts wheeling herself.

ACTRESS

Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard?

DIRECTOR THREE

   (to Director Two)

Puppet her. A la Julie Taymor’s Tempest.

Director Two grabs the back of the chair and moves the actress around as if she were a giant puppet.

ACTRESS*

What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?- Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him. The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?– What, will these hands ne’er be clean?–No more o’that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with this starting. Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh, oh, oh!

DIRECTOR ONE

That is so interesting.

DIRECTOR TWO

My turn. Everybody in wheelchairs.

The directors all run off stage. A small set of steps and two doors are rolled on stage.

           BLACKOUT. :

Everyone scrambles to get in places. We hear things being knocked over.

       LIGHTS FADE UP.:

Director Three rolls on in a wheelchair carrying a plate and a phone with a never ending cord that gets wrapped around everything as they move.

DIRECTOR THREE

Sardines. Sardines. Where’s my head and where’s my sardines?

Director Three rolls in and out of the doors. Director Two and Three roll onto stage, Director Two has a bra around their neck.

DIRECTOR THREE

Hackam Sackam and Clackam. Can’t wait to get out of these clothes-

    (They start bumping into the steps.)

I mean into something warm, I mean, into something wet, I mean, you know what I’m talking about.

DIRECTOR TWO

My contacts!

Everyone stops. Looks at the ground.

ACTRESS

Ladies and gentlemen, the performance will start in three minutes. Ladies and gentlemen, the performance will start in one minute. Ladies and gentlemen, the performance will start in five minutes. Ladies and gentlemen…

EVERYONE

        (yelling)

Selsden!

They all bow. The steps and doors are rolled offstage.

ACTRESS

A musical? I’ve always wanted to do a musical.

  BLACKOUT.:

Lights fade up on the four characters in wheelchairs backlit behind prison bars. They make sexy-like poses that change with vampy musical beats. And jazz hands. Lots of jazz hands.

DIRECTOR ONE

Abled

DIRECTOR TWO

Selfish

DIRECTOR THREE

Rude

ACTRESS

Dipshits!

Repeat two times. Faster each time.

EVERYONE

They deserved it. They sure deserved it. They can eat shit. And I’d do it again and again.

ACTRESS

I went to the groceries and this able bodied couple were parked in the handicapped parking space with their beautiful new SUV. So I ran my wheelchair into their car. I ran into twenty- two times.

EVERYONE

They deserved it. They sure deserved it. They can eat shit. And I’d do it again and again.

DIRECTOR ONE

Abled

DIRECTOR TWO

Selfish

DIRECTOR THREE

Rude

ACTRESS

Dipshits!

    LIGHTS FADE OUT. LIGHTS FADE UP.:

DIRECTOR TWO

That was fun.

DIRECTOR ONE

      (to Actress)

You know, you’re not bad.

ACTRESS

Thank you. You’re not bad yourself.

DIRECTOR ONE

I’m a little rusty.

DIRECTOR TWO

Let’s do another. Lights!

          BLACKOUT:

The extra wheelchairs disappear in the blackout. Directors One and Three sit in the audience.

Lights up on Actress, wearing a minimal costume suggestion of Juliet. Perhaps a long-haired wig. Director Two wears a minimal costume suggestion of a nurse. **

ACTRESS AS JULIET

Come hither, nurse. What is yond gentleman?

DIRECTOR TWO AS NURSE

The son and heir of old Tiberio.

ACTRESS AS JULIET

What’s he that now is going out of door?

DIRECTOR TWO

Marry, that, I think, be young Petrucio.

ACTRESS

What’s he that follows there, that would not dance?

DIRECTOR TWO

I know not.

ACTRESS

Go ask his name: if he be married. My grave is like to be my wedding bed.

DIRECTOR TWO

His name is Romeo, and a Montague; The only son of your great enemy.

ACTRESS

My only love sprung from my only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, That I must love a loathed enemy.

DIRECTOR TWO

What’s this? what’s this?

ACTRESS

A rhyme I learn’d even now Of one I danced withal. One calls within ‘Juliet.’

DIRECTOR TWO

Anon, anon!Come, let’s away; the strangers all are gone.

They exit. Then quickly peak their heads out.

DIRECTOR TWO

What’d you think?

DIRECTOR THREE

Technically, you’re a little old for Juliet.

ACTRESS

Don’t even go there. That’s a whole ‘nother play.

DIRECTOR ONE

What about Beckett? That could work.

DIRECTOR TWO

Ooh!

DIRECTOR THREE

We stay away from Beckett.

DIRECTOR TWO

Oleanna? Could be interesting.

DIRECTOR THREE

Eh. Definitely no talkbacks.

DIRECTOR ONE

Albee?

DIRECTOR TWO AND THREE

No.

DIRECTOR ONE

Right.

DIRECTOR THREE

I have an idea!

    (to the Directors)

Take your seats.

Director Three takes actress backstage. Directors Two and One sit in the audience.

BLACKOUT:

Lights up on Actress sitting in wheelchair trimmed like a throne, wearing a minimal costume piece suggesting a queen. Perhaps a crown.

ACTRESS AS QUEEN MARGARET FROM HENRY VI*

Brave warriors, Clifford and Northumberland, Come, make him stand upon this molehill here, That raught at mountains with outstretched arms, Yet parted but the shadow with his hand. What! was it you that would be England’s king? Was’t you that revell’d in our parliament, And made a preachment of your high descent? Where are your mess of sons to back you now? The wanton Edward, and the lusty George? And where’s that valiant crook-back prodigy, Dicky your boy, that with his grumbling voice Was wont to cheer his dad in mutinies? Or, with the rest, where is your darling Rutland? Look, York: I stain’d this napkin with the blood That valiant Clifford, with his rapier’s point, Made issue from the bosom of the boy; And if thine eyes can water for his death, I give thee this to dry thy cheeks withal. Alas poor York! but that I hate thee deadly, I should lament thy miserable state. I prithee, grieve, to make me merry, York. What, hath thy fiery heart so parch’d thine entrails That not a tear can fall for Rutland’s death? Why art thou patient, man? thou shouldst be mad; And I, to make thee mad, do mock thee thus. Stamp, rave, and fret, that I may sing and dance. Thou wouldst be fee’d, I see, to make me sport: York cannot speak, unless he wear a crown. A crown for York! and, lords, bow low to him: Hold you his hands, whilst I do set it on.[Putting a paper crown on his head] Ay, marry, sir, now looks he like a king! Ay, this is he that took King Henry’s chair, And this is he was his adopted heir. But how is it that great Plantagenet Is crown’d so soon, and broke his solemn oath? As I bethink me, you should not be king Till our King Henry had shook hands with death. And will you pale your head in Henry’s glory, And rob his temples of the diadem, Now in his life, against your holy oath? O, ’tis a fault too too unpardonable! Off with the crown, and with the crown his head; And, whilst we breathe, take time to do him dead.

The directors applaud, rising to give the actress a standing ovation.

DIRECTOR ONE

I kinda forgot about the wheelchair.

They all look at Director Two, unsure if that is a good thing to say.

DIRECTOR ONE

I mean, it was there, obviously, but it wasn’t about that.

DIRECTOR THREE

Yeah.

ACTRESS

Exactly.

ALL THREE DIRECTORS

       (epiphany)

Oh.

THE END

 

 


Rani Deighe Crowe is a theater and film artist teaching screenwriting in the Creative Writing Program at Ball State University. Her award-winning short films Heather Has Four Moms, Beautiful Eyes, and Texting: A Love Story have screened at film festivals all over the world. Her poem, ‘Beautiful Eyes’ was published in the January, 2018 edition of The American Journal of Poetry. Her flash fiction story, ‘Church of Denial’, was published in the August, 2018 inaugural edition of Delay Fiction.

http://ranideighecrowe.com

Page 1 of 3