These were the toughest submissions I’ve ever had to judge. By “judge” I do not mean in any critical sense. Maybe “judge” is the wrong word. In short, the selection was made on my taste and my taste alone. Therefore, please understand that this is not a contest for which play is best, but which play tickled me the most.
Also, there were 2 plays submitted with the name of the playwright. I deleted those names and, after waiting a good while to read them, I don’t remember what it was they sent. One of the curses of old age!
The following 7 plays are in the offering.
BUS STOP CHATS by . . . Olivia Arieti
LITTLE WHITE LIES COME TRUE by . . . Michael Weems
THE DAY OF DANIEL by . . . Michael Moon
THE RAVAGES OF TIME by . . . Paul T (Castlecat7)
TIME FOR CHANGE by . . . David Muncy
FORTNIGHT by . . . shirleyk
ONE THEORY OF EVOLUTION by . . . timmy
BUS STOP CHATS warns us that if you’re going to be a bad boy and do bad things it’s best to keep it to yourself. One never knows to whom one is speaking. LITTLE WHITE LIES COME TRUE takes us on a journey into relationships as heard through the letters written between a young man and woman. With neither tone nor body language can we really assess the character of another through the written word? Hey kids, pick up the telephone! THE DAY OF DANIEL suggests that one never knows who’s watching our every move. Is life but a pop quiz or a cosmic test? Kids, make certain you have all your proverbial ducks in a row. Don’t talk to me about THE RAVAGES OF TIME. I’m a walking example! So if you’re an old fart be careful how you interpret what you see through the fog of fartdom. The enigmatic TIME TO CHANGE explores how relationships suffer from the drudgery of routine. So make everyday a new day in every sense of the word and make it an unpredictable adventure before your mate gets a case of wanderlust. FORTNIGHT shows us that some brains are just too small for rational thought, poetry or dentistry. Dentistry? When you only have a fortnight then you had better make the best of it. So strike while the iron’s hot, so to speak. In ONE THEORY OF EVOLUTION we see how a husband’s indifference creates an opportunity for his wife’s disappointment. This play was short, sly, funny and it tickled my fancy. That is why it is the winner of this contest and its author gets to choose from one of the following publications:
Edward Albee’s masterpiece THREE TALL WOMEN, Jane Wagner’s THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, written for her partner Lily Tomlin (with whom I held in my arms while dancing until I stepped on her toe), SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION by John Guare, 3 GUYS IN DRAG SELLING THEIR STUFF or FLOWERS OUT OF SEASON autographed by the playwright (that would be me).
Congratulations to all the playwrights and thank you for entering our little contest.
BUS STOP CHATS
Characters: NICK, OFFICER (Normally dressed). Setting: A Bus Stop.
(OFFICER is standing at the bus stop. Nick arrives hurriedly.)
NICK: (Heavy breath.) Has the bus already passed by, Sir?
OFFICER: No, not yet.
NICK: Thank goodness. You see, I've just killed my wife, have to get out of here as quick as possible.
OFFICER: A taxi would have been better.
NICK: Didn't have enough money. The old hag kept it all for herself.
OFFICER: So she did? Shouldn't trust strangers, however. Could be dangerous telling around what you did. NICK: Simple bus stop chatting. OFFICER: I might be an officer, a crime detective. NICK: Bah, they always wear shabby old trench-coats.
OFFICER: It's sunny today.
NICK: No difference.
OFFICER: Listen, buddy-
NICK: You can call me, Nick.
OFFICER: Great. (Takes out a notepad.) Well, Nick, where did this crime exactly take place?
NICK: Why so nosy?
OFFICER: Simply curious.
NICK: We were in the kitchen and she started yelling as usual. Couldn't take it any more.
OFFICER: What time was it when you killed the old hag, er… I mean, your wife?
NICK: Hey, we're not in court. If you really want to know, however, I killed her about thirty minutes ago.
OFFICER: Where are you planning to escape?
NICK: A chap down in Georgia is going to help me out. (Takes out a knife.) See, this is the weapon, thought I'd keep it as a souvenir.
OFFICER: Mind if I have a look?
NICK: At all.
OFFICER: (Takes the knife. Takes out manacles.) I'm afraid you’ll have to follow me, Nick.
NICK: Follow you?
OFFICER: Yeah, I'm a local cop, got to keep control of the district and hand in criminals, of course. (Attaches the manacles on Nick's wrists.) By the way, thank you for your co-operation. It certainly made things easier.
LITTLE WHITE LIES COME TRUE
HIM: (Excitedly) Who says long distance relationships can’t work? Friday the 9th. One week until our date. (He writes) A few questions for you -
HER: (She writes) Okay, here are my answers. I’m taking a little break from studying because I’m about to go nuts. My guilty pleasures? Watching TV in the middle of the day, lying in the sun, taking breaks from work, and checking email when I’m supposed to be working. I can honestly say I think about you all the time. I dream about how I would like things between us to be like and I wonder why its not that easy to do. I care about you immensely and you probably know more about me than anyone here or at home. You have been such a constant part of my life over the past three years and I am so lucky because of that. I don’t only think of you as a friend, but also fantasize about you as a lover. It’s weird for me to tell you this, but I figure that I might as well be honest with you. I know we haven’t had the “sex” talk before, but if I were to lose my virginity to anyone, it would have to be you. I feel so close to you even though we are so far apart. I love knowing that you care about me so much and a lot of times, when the world has totally got me down, that thought is all that carries me through the day. I wonder all the time why we are not together, because sometimes it just seems so right. I don’t know if it’s the distance thing, a commitment thing, or vulnerability, but it’s something and I wish I knew what it was. I hope that this answers your question and it shows that I want to be totally honest with you. I want to feel like I can talk to you about anything without it being awkward. I hope you have having a great day. I can’t wait to see you in less than a week. Miss you. Lots.
HIM: (He finishes reading her letter and folds it up carefully) I miss you. Lots. Friday the 16th. Visit day.
(She crosses in close to give him a big hug – they separate slightly and kiss at first tentatively and then deeply. They break apart slightly as each breathes heavily)
HER: I love you.
(She smiles and breaks the hug – stepping away and wrapping an arm around herself, but still holding his hand and attempting a smile)
HIM: Friday the 23rd. One week later.
HER: (Writing) It is such an emotionally and mentally unhealthy way to deal with fear. I know I need to start facing the unknown head on and without looking back. I guess what I’m saying is that I want to make an effort to be with you because I know what we had was great and I was just too afraid to see it for what it was. I am so sorry for the pain that I’ve caused because that was never my intent. There’s something inside me that longs to be loved and wants to be loved back. But there’s also something inside me that is terrified of the whole thing. In order to be love and be loved, one has to be accessible. Sometimes I get so frustrated when I write to you. Like maybe we’re misreading or not on the same page. And then it happens in person too, I just get so tongue tied when all I want to do is explain myself and maybe help you understand me a bit more.
HIM: (Reading) I love you, still.
HER: (Writing) Not that you aren’t the most understanding person in the world! (Beat) I’m still trying to figure out why I ran this last time. I felt so right when you were here and I loved every minute of that weekend. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to you. Maybe that fact alone was enough to make me question myself and force me to put up my guard. I don’t want to have to do that anymore. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of you and wonder how you are. I ask God everyday to watch over you and keep you happy and healthy because you mean so much to me. I miss you. I’m sorry.
HIM: (Writing back) I’m sitting here trying to study, but I find myself thinking of you. I keep trying to tell myself that the romantic part of our relationship is over, but the lover inside me refuses to believe it. I try to tell myself that we’re better off as friends, but my argument isn’t too convincing. Something’s missing. It’s that same sort of feeling that you get at the end of a good movie and you walk outside. The world seems a whole lot bigger and you feel a whole lot smaller. Please tell me you feel the same way?
HER: (Slow realization) It all makes sense now.
HIM: Friday the 30th. Two weeks later. Full God mode.
HER: (Writing to him) Thank you so much for your letter. You have no idea how much it brightened my day. It’s always nice to get real mail. It sounds like you are doing well at school and keeping busy. I couldn’t agree with you more that time is flying by. We’re already half way done with the semester. That’s really neat that you’ll have a real job in two more years. Your personality and caring nature are going to make you such an amazing counselor. Things here are going really well. I’m living everyday for the glory of God and through Him, I have a strength that gets me over any obstacle. The power of the Lord is incredible and I sometimes can’t believe it took 20 years for me to notice it. I am in constant awe of His power, grace, and love and giving my life to Christ was the best thing I have ever done. I have been kept busy this semester with two Fellowship groups and two Bible study groups. My only regret is that I don’t get to spend enough time with my wonderful new roommates Amy and Meredith. They are such incredible friends and I am blessed many times over to have all of them in my life. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t think of you often. I do, and I’m reminded of a special time we shared and it brings a smile to my face. I’m thankful for all the times we laughed together. I’m also so happy that no matter what is going on between us, we are still able to have a strong enough friendship to continue our communication. Even though we don’t seem to have a knack for a relationship, what we do have is indescribable. It’s so nice to have a friend who is so completely honest and kind and loving. Anyone who is able to show as wonderful a personality as yours from so far away, is someone I hope to have in my life forever. I owe you a thousand thank yous for being the person you are and I want you to know that my thoughts and prayers are with you. If you have a minute, I found a few verses from the bible that I thought of you when I read them. Ephesians 1:16-20 and Colossians 3:15-17. I hope this letter finds you happy, healthy, and strong in spirit. I hope to hear from you soon. God Bless.
HIM: And she’s gone.
(End of Scene. End of Play)
ONE THEORY OF EVOLUTION
(Lights: MARK & CLOE sitting. Mark is reading a newspaper or has a TV remote)
CLOE: So I was reading about the Giant Pandas in my National Geographic...about how the female allows the male to mate with her only one day a year...
CLOE: ...about how if the male doesn’t happen to be around that one day then...oops...
CLOE: ...about how if the male doesn’t really feel like mating that one day then...oops...
another whole year can go by and...nothing. (sighs) Just nothing.
CLOE: ...about how more often than not the end result of either situation is another year of total frustration and pent-up aggression, especially for the female Giant Panda.
MARK: Say, do we have any pickled herring?
CLOE: All this reminded me something.
CLOE: ...about the relationship my father had with my mother. How she always used to tell me, “Cloe, never, never let an opportunity slip by unnoticed...”
MARK: The pickled herring?
CLOE: No, silly...the Giant Panda theory.
MARK: The what?
CLOE: It’s in the fridge...second shelf.
MARK: (Short pause) We have Giant Panda in the fridge? (beat) It was on-sale, I hope.
CLOE: Did I mention the furnace man is due for his once-a-year service check, Mark. Tomorrow morning? Would you like me to be here for him? He does such a good job.
MARK: (Walking off stage) Of course, dear...you do whatever is necessary. Sonofabitch only comes 'round once a year. I’ll just fend for myself.
THE DAY OF DANIEL
A man sits shuffling papers at a desk. He stops and pushes a button on the desk
Mr. Winslow: 362? Number 362 Please.
He continues shuffling papers. A man runs onstage as if falling, he looks confused and dazed.
Mr. Winslow: 362? Please have a seat.
Daniel: I’m sorry?
Mr. Winslow: Name? (typing at a computer keyboard)
Daniel: (sitting) My name is Daniel. Daniel….
Mr. Winslow: (interrupting him) Age?
Daniel: Excuse me?
He looks at him over his glasses
Daniel: 22. Ahhh…I think there’s been a mistake.
Mr. Winslow: (taking his glasses off and scolding) Sir. We at the Department of Transition do not make mistakes. (going back to the keyboard) What was your point of departure?
Daniel: I’m sorry?
Mr. Winslow: (growing impatient) Sir. I have 3967 cases to complete before lunch, if you insist on wasting my time I will be forced to continue your case to a later date in which case you will held in limbo. What was your point of departure, please?
Daniel: You mean, where was I before here?
Mr. Winslow: Yes sir. Your point of departure, your last hold upon the physical world, where you shook loose the mortal coil, where you stepped into the great unknown, the final door, the open widow, the staircase to the stars, from whence you came across the vast divide, the lifting of the veil, the closing of the book, the ending of the story. Where sir, Did... You.. Die..?
Daniel: Unhh. My apartment?
Mr. Winslow: (looking at a file on his desk) 3729 Clausen Street, Baltimore Maryland USA. Is that correct?
Daniel: How did you know that?
Mr. Winslow: There is little that we don’t know about you Daniel Wasserstein. (turning pages of file) Your middle name is Elbert. You threw up in the lap of your first grade teacher after eating a handful of chalk, you had your first sexual experience with your third cousin in the back of a pick-up truck parked outside a Seven-Eleven, you spent three months in jail for transport of controlled substances from Canada, not drugs mind you, toilet paper. You were engaged to a MS. Julie K. Malthron of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma until she found your collection of Star Wars figures arranged in suggestive sexual positions at which point she left you for a body builder from Fresno. You had $11.60 in the bank at the time of your death, and your cat recently relieved itself on your grandmother’s antique quilt covering your sofa. We at the Department of Transition know everything, except the last moments of your life, which you are required to supply before the transition is permitted. So…if you would be so kind to answer the remaining questions.
Daniel: My last name isn’t Wasserstein.
Mr. Winslow: Pardon me?
Daniel: My name isn’t Wasserstein. It’s Klein.
Mr. Winslow: (pointing to the file) Your name is Wasserstein.
Daniel: No it’s not.
Mr. Winslow: You’re not Daniel Wasserstein of 3729 Clausen Street, Baltimore, Maryland USA?
Daniel: No. I’m Daniel Klein of 3729 Clausen Street, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Want to see my license? (he reaches for his wallet)
Mr. Winslow: (growing agitated) You have to be Daniel Wasserstein of 3729 Clausen Street, Baltimore, Maryland USA. You have to be. Things like this don’t happen. There are procedures, checklists, verifications; you have to be Daniel Wasserstein.
Daniel: I’m sorry, but I’m not.
Mr. Winslow: But…but…
Daniel: So do I get a refund? I mean how do you normally work these things? Do I get to go back? I’ve got a game on Saturday, me and some of the boys are shooting hoops.
Mr. Winslow: How do we??? Don’t you understand? We don’t make mistakes. We don’t give refunds. In my 600 years of working at the Department, I’ve never… Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I have to notify the manager. He’s going to be upset. Very, very upset.
He stands and starts to collect the file quickly. He starts to leave, then stops.
Mr. Winslow: Don’t move from here! Don’t leave this room! Do you understand?
Daniel: Sure, whatever. Hey could I get a Coke or something to drink?
Mr. Winslow: (leaving) No! No Coke! Just sit there!
Daniel pulls a cell phone from his pocket and dials
Daniel: Hey, Big Guy? It looks like Winslow is a no-go for that promotion, the guy rattles too easy. What? Yeah, sure. Let me finish up and I’ll meet you at MacNulty’s, you’re buying.
Daniel closes the phone and leans back in the chair putting his feet on desk. He whistles “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”
THE RAVAGES OF TIME
Cast: Pete - An old Fart. Phil - An even older Fart.
Pete and Phil are sitting on a park bench. Both are reading newspapers. Pete looks up, skywards and is obviously watching something in the sky.
Pete: Well would you look at that?
Phil stops reading his paper and looks to the sky. He obviously sees something but looks away back to his paper disinterestedly.
Phil: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
He returns to his paper. Pete gives him a sideways look.
Pete: Is that all you’ve got to say?
Phil: Well what do you expect me to say?
Pete: Well not many people get to see that and all you can say is ‘Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.’
Phil looks back to the sky.
Phil: What are you talking about? I see them every day. (He pauses.) Not necessarily on fire I grant you, but there’s hundreds up there all the time.
Pete: Hundreds? On fire? Are you insane? That’s a Comet. You don’t get to see many of them in a life time let alone a Saturday afternoon!
Phil squints up at the sky once more.
Phil: That’s not a Comet.
Pete: What? Well what is it then?
Phil: That’s a plane.
Pete does a double take at both Phil and the ‘object’.
Pete: A Plane? A Plane! How many planes do you see on fire and falling from the sky?
Phil: This is my first.
Pete: It’s not a plane you idiot. It’s a Comet. Most probably Halley’s.
Phil looks to the sky again.
Phil: Nope. It’s British Airways.
Phil looks up again.
Phil: A 747 Jumbo.
Pete: A 747? OK. So tell me. What are all those small objects falling from the main fireball?
Phil looks up again.
Pete: Passengers? You old fool. They’re bits of the Comet’s tail. All Comets have tails.
Phil: OK. If that’s a Comet it would be flying past the planet. Right?
Pete: Of course.
Phil: Then why is it coming this way?
Pete looks up to the object and begins to realize that it is heading his way.
Pete: Oh my God! It’s coming our way. This is it. We’re going to die!
Both Pete and Phil are looking terrified and are clutching each other.
A mother pushing a pram whilst holding the hand of a little girl who is holding a sparkler, walk across the stage. The little girl looks at the two men and waves at them with her sparkler.
Phil looks at Pete.
Phil: Comet! Old fool!
Pete: 747! Old fart!
They both return to reading their newspapers.
TIME FOR CHANGE
We are in the modern, functional kitchen of a mid-price house. It is morning. CAROLINE sips her coffee and stares blankly into space. MICHAEL is ever cheerful.
MICHAEL: Are you catching the oh-eight-thirty-five?
CAROLINE: Don't I always catch the oh-eight-thirty-five?
MICHAEL : Shall I walk you down?
CAROLINE : Don't you always walk me down?
MICHAEL : So, what have you got lined up today then? Any meetings? Conferences? No? A chance for you to catch up on paperwork then.
CAROLINE puts down her mug and puts on her coat. She doesn't look at MICHAEL.
MICHAEL : Oh. That time already. I'll just fetch my jacket.
CAROLINE : Don't come.
MICHAEL : Eh?
CAROLINE : I'll walk down on my own.
MICHAEL : I always walk down with you.
CAROLINE : I know.
MICHAEL : So, I'll get my jacket.
CAROLINE : DON'T COME!
MICHAEL : Why not?
CAROLINE : Because I hate my life. I hate my job. I hate the oh-eight-thirty-five.
MICHAEL : Do you hate me?
CAROLINE does not speak.
MICHAEL : I'll do lasagna tonight. OK? A bottle of vino. We'll have a chat then. Sort every thing out. I'll get a paper and have a look at the jobs, see if we can find something that suits you better.
CAROLINE : I don't want to change my job.
MICHAEL : But if you're unhappy...
CAROLINE : I'd better be going.
MICHAEL : Just a second. I'll just get my jacket.
TOM: See those blinks, Sam? A female firefly is looking for a mate.
SAM: Oh? Well, I am totally looking for love.
TOM: Love? I don't think most fireflies know the L word.
GLORIA: Gloria here. Blink longer and faster and I may choose you for my mate.
TOM: Blink, blink, blink, longer and faster! Do you find me attractive, Gloria?
GLORIA: No, but perhaps we could be friends, Tom. Next?
SAM: Why do we live only to mate? I would like to live so I could become a dentist.
TOM: Our brains are very small, Sam. They do not allow for rational thought or dentistry.
SAM: Oh. Then perhaps I could become a poet, like Edna St. Vincent Millay.
TOM: Sam, face it, our days are numbered. We live for only a fortnight.
SAM: Truly? Only a fortnight?
TOM: And we seldom go to cities now because pollution has driven us away.
SAM: The symbolism is too much to bear. I would rather just be a firefly looking for love, hoping not to be eaten by Gloria
TOM: I don't know if Gloria has teeth.
SAM: Gloria, if I became a dentist I would give you a lovely set of teeth.
TOM: Are you out of your blinking mind?
SAM: No, for I have only just begun to blink. Look! I am madly blinking, blinking, blinking!
TOM: Did you eat your last mate, Gloria?
GLORIA: I had no choice. He called me a beetle.
TOM: But we ARE beetles.
GLORIA: At first. But in summer we become fireflies, lighting the sky in a brilliant bonanza of brightness.
TOM: You know, we are only about the size of a paper clip.
GLORIA: Your point is?
SAM: I don't believe he has one. Does everything need to have a point, Gloria?
GLORIA: When your days are numbered, yes.
SAM: But are we sure the fatal number is two weeks or a fortnight?
GLORIA: In some languages there is no “fortnight.” The Sanskrit word "paksha" indicates we are fated to live either 14 or 15 solar days.
SAM: They couldn't decide?
TOM: I fear many of us will perish sooner.
GLORIA: So make your move, Sam.
SAM: Meaning you are eager to take me as your mate? I am stoked!
GLORIA: Forget the courtship. No time for roses and candygrams. We will speed mate.
TOM: Candygrams? What happened to worms and slugs?
SAM: Don't you remember? We ate those as beetles but now -- oh, no. I said the B word!
GLORIA: I warned you!
TOM: No! Your fate is sealed.
SAM: All right. It is what it is. I understand and I am ready to meet my paksha.
TOM: Even if you die without ever becoming a poet or a dentist?
SAM: Yes. For I believe our mission in life is -- Gloria, what is our mission in life?
GLORIA: Loving each other --
SAM: The L word! She said the L word!
GLORIA: just long enough to create a new generation of fireflies lighting the skies in a dazzling display of pyrotechnics. Sam? Are you ready?
SAM: Okay! My candle burns at both ends, it may not last the night, but ah, my foes and oh, my friends it gives a lovely light! Gloria, here I come!
Okay. We've still 3 plays without a byline: RAVAGES OF TIME, BUS STOP CHATS, FORTNIGHT. Please send me an email with your play title and name to firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know on this thread.
Congratulations to timmy! Please email me your prize choice or simply let me know on this thread.
Well done Timmy.
I wonder how many of us can relate!!!
Edd. Yup. Ravages of Time was my meagre effort. One old fart writing about two other old farts!
I'm now back in the UK having defeated the ASH CLOUD but our cat which is due this Tuesday has now had her flight cancelled due to the British Airways strike!!!
There's got to be a play in there somewhere!