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.

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