SCENE: A living room of a small apartment. A picture is prominently displayed, the last picture drawn by Jeremy, PAMELA's older brother. It is crude and obviously drawn by someone very emotionally disturbed.
AT RISE the audience has a moment with this picture, then CATHERINE and PAMELA enter. PAMELA
has her eyes covered.
OK, You can uncover your eyes Pam.
PAMELA [ she doesn't notice the painting yet]
Wow! It's so beautiful! Oh wow! You can
see like forever from way up here Mom.
It's kind a small and cramped but I like it.
It's the city dear. You'll get used to it.
So, my room?
CATHERINE [gestures off stage]
PAMELA [exits and from offstage calls out]
Cool! hey, my own bathroom!
It's just won(derful)...
[ She has noticed the painting. She knows this painting. This
moment is very long but exactly what physically happens here is
left to you. Whether Pam finishes the word 'wonderful' is also
left to you. PAM breaks the silence]
Momma... Momma why?
I thought that you promised a fresh start here.
The picture is kept to remind me Pam.
Remind you? Remind you? Why would you want
to be reminded of that awful night?
Because those who forget the past are doomed
to relive the past, not just remember.
And I cannot dare to relive that day.
So instead we relive it every time
we look at this? Momma, I just don't know.
Sweetheart, I failed. I failed you. I failed him.
Jerry's gone. I can't risk losing you too.
So I have placed that picture there so that
I am reminded, and you, dear, are warned.
Warned? Warned of what Momma? What did I do?
Nothing sweetheart. It's just that, you are now
fast approaching the age that kids play with
things forbidden. I know I did. I'm at
fault, but drugs had a role to play in his
suicide. So for you - this is to warn.
And what is the picture's purpose for you?
Remember, I all but shot him myself.
I will never take that pain off the shelf.
When he cried out for help, I cut him off.
When he reached out for love, I pushed him off.
I abandoned him in his hour of need.
It was I which planted the evil seed
of despair that blossomed into the hate
that took him away. I acted as though
dealing with him through the drugs was too low
for me. But this is far harder to wear.
The awful night you were raped, he was there
and we left him. We should have taken him.
I left your father's gun behind for him.
I killed my son. Regret, sorrow, too late.
I know. It hurts to say it but I know.
No more secrets right? That's what we promised.
Yes. There are no more secrets between us.
I've been meaning to ask you for awhile
now, and can't think how best to, and so I'll
just ask. That first night that Jerry got bad
messed up on smack, and he made you so mad
that you sent me to my room so that you
could talk with him alone - I stayed. While you
tore into him I was in the hall. I
heard every God damn word you said to him
about his father. My father. To him,
he was the world. I have no memory
of dad but it hurt me as well. Jerry
did nothing to deserve that. I know you
regret it. I regret just hearing you.
And every night since I've asked, why Mom? Why?
I'm a complete failure as a parent.
Only if you give up on me; yourself!
We shall have no more secrets, right?
Then sit. I have something I must tell you
that I should not have kept secret from you.
Something that you have a right to know and
should have known a long time ago my child.
Does it have anything to do with why
I never saw my dad either Momma?
Many things are my fault, but that isn't.
Keith chose to leave - he chose to stay away.
I didn't want that. Never wanted it.
But he did not want to have a part of
our lives after I betrayed his trust.
I got pregnant. With another man's child.
Arthur's child. You.
I'm sorry that I never told you this.
I'm sorry that I agreed not to tell.
Agreed? With who? With who Momma? With who?
It was Arthur's wish that you not know. He
never told me why, and I was too weak
to question him in the matter.
He knew and he still...
So you're telling me everything is my
fault. You wouldn't have been with that bastard
if I wasn't born, that Keith left because...
No Pam, stop. Stop it now. It's not your fault.
All this was my doing and mine alone.
I alone am to blame and you have no
share. You are the chief evidence of my
transgression, but that does not make you the
author. You are not at fault and I will
not let you say you are to blame for this.
Do you understand me girl?
I have never blamed you and I'll be damned
before I let you blame yourself.
I have been cruel to you, but no longer.
I will still make mistakes, but no longer
will I fail to make amends. I will do
all I can to support and nurture you.
For you will make mistakes too, and I will
help you to correct them or better I'll
help you avoid the ones I made dear child.
You will anger me. You will make me cry.
You'll try my patience without knowing why.
And so the picture kept will remind me.
When I am weak it will yet remind me
of the consequence of just giving up.
Jeremy is dead because I gave up.
I will not let that fate be yours my child.
Pam, these next few years will
be hard but I will help you as best I
can. I've been through this. I know how it feels.
Your own father never raped you Momma!!!
No, he did not. In my case it was my
uncle. When my father - your grandfather
found out, he took him out on a deer hunt,
and shot his own brother with a .32
caliber rifle. My father was cruel
at times, but I never doubted his love
after that, strange as it seems. I
am just glad I wasn't lying to him.
I still remember the night
he came home. He looked at me tears running
down his face. He said, "It's done Cat, Ricky
won't touch you - won't touch anyone - again."
I never before, and never after,
saw my father cry. And we never told
Mom. It was an unspoken agreement.
You are now the only other one I
have told of this Pamela. I'm frightened.
Of what Momma?
When that happened to me
I went completely wild just like Jerry.
I lost all my modesty and became
something worse than a whore. A whore at least
has the dignity to charge a fee. I
know you're stronger than I am, but I don't
know what this will do to you. So, starting
on Monday, you're seeing a therapist.
No Momma. I already told you no.
She's not going to start with that issue,
She's going to start by simply trying
to figure out why you can score an A
in everything but math. I've seen how long
you study just to get a B. Something
beyond your control is wrong and maybe
she can figure out what it is. If she
and only if she earns your trust will she
ever know anything else. I will not
tell her about what has happened unless
you are ok with me doing so Pam.
Momma, I don't know if I can do this.
She has to earn your trust, not mine, and if
she cannot do that you don't have to tell
her a thing that you don't want to, ok?
I'm not sure.
Please. All I'm asking is you
give her a chance and try. If you really
don't want to - If this scares you too much I'll
cancel, but I really think this will help.
OK, I guess.
No, 'I guess'. You have to
give it an honest try Pam. If you can't
do that tell me now and I will listen.
OK then, I'll give it a shot. For you.
Thank you sweetheart. We'll get through this, ok?
Yes. We'll pull through and leave this behind us.
When I was your age I didn't listen
to my mom because she did not listen
to me. And so I promise to listen
to you in the hope that you will listen
to me. And I promise you I'll listen
whenever you need me to just listen.
Jeremy died cause I didn't listen.
I can't, I won't ever make that mistake
again. The picture kept will remind me.
I like the ideas you're presenting here, but...and perhaps this is because of the blank-verse style here or perhaps the characters have a more sophisticated background, but I didn't think they seemed to talk like normal 37- and 15-year olds. Stuff like "We look upon this", "the chief evidence of my transgression", etc.
Also, I feel like there's a lot more you can do with these characters in terms of a potential story now that you have their backgrounds down. Right now they just spill each other's hearts out to each other right off the bat. Maybe have Catherine dishonor the agreement and keep one more secret...one that would really shatter Pamela if she knew it? Something like her being Arthur's kid?
She is Arthur's kid, and that is in that play. Again...
I got pregnant. With another man's child.
Arthur's child. You.
I'm sorry that I never told you this.
I'm sorry that I agreed not to tell.
Couple of things come to light in the full play that are outside of the scope of this play and scene. First, Pamela eventually goes to Yale, Catherine herself is an English major so the characters are both quite intelligent. Second this play and its five siblings in Moments where written because the first play I wrote, Five Against One, might never escape the rights negotiation phase because its a musical attached to songs I didn't write. It references that play more than its siblings because it is the closest to it. The next 5 plays (which are all completed at this point) deal with these events.
An Unexpected Change in Relations: Pamela breaks up with her first boyfriend (Billy), ironically at the same time her mother falls in love with his father (Brian). The characters end up brother & sister (hence the title).
A Proposal: Brian asks Pamela for permission to marry Catherine, but she struggles with what that is going to mean - her feelings towards 'fathers' being quite tainted.
Crossroads: Pamela and Billy leave for college even as Catherine and Brian announce that they have a sibling on the way. This play probably needs the most work.
What Love Truly Is: This play, the most difficult, darkest, yet brightest of the six, is a conversation between Pamela and the man she marries just before they have sex for the first time - and the first time she willingly has sex. To do this she has to deal with the demons in her mind.
Closure: The final play was the first to be written after Five Against One - and answers the question of what finally happens to Pamela. She confronts Arthur about what he did and why he chose to hide the fact he is her father from her - a fact this play introduces.
At the moment I'm polishing up the plays, but they are starting to lose their individual cohesion. That might be unavoidable. I'm planning to do some readings with them this year and it remains to be seen whether they will keep their independence, or if I take the plunge and expand further causing these 6 10 minute plays to lose their usefulness as separate plays.
While having Catherine hang on to another secret is a fine idea, the main reason I am hesitant about it is that it would shift the focus towards her too much. Five Against One, the prequel to Moments, is ostensibly Catherine's story. One pattern in my cast lists - you know who the protagonist is because I introduce them first and describe all other characters in relation to that character.
Comparing the cast page of Five Against One:
Catherine Burbank, age 36, a housewife.
Pamela Burbank, age 14, her daughter. Pamela and Catherine are roughly the same stature.
Jeremy Burbank, age 16, her son.
Benjamin Reynolds, age 28, her brother. Marine recruiter.
Christine Reynolds, age 59, her mother. Widowed.
Arthur Burbank, age 40. Policeman. Catherine's second husband of 14 years. Pamela and Jeremy's stepfather.
In addition, there is a chorus of four actors to represent the rest of the world and serve as narrators. They are double cast for the characters Girlfriend, Dealer, Inmates and Gentleman. Pamela's actress also plays young Catherine in the first act.
There are two acts, each approximately 1 1/2 hours.
It is the present day in any small town in the United States.
To the cast page of Moments
This play consists of six ten minute plays each set one year apart in different locations. The master cast list is as follows.
Pamela Reynolds, a young girl and, eventually, woman.
Catherine Reynolds, her mother
Billy Mitchell, her boyfriend and, later, stepbrother.
Brian Mitchell, who becomes her stepfather, an Anglican minister
Alex Harrison, who becomes her husband
Arthur Burbank, her father who is imprisoned.
When performed as a complete play interludes are to be added to give the crew time to transition the sets of the plays. No play of the six expects to have a detailed set.
This play is a sequel to the musical Five Against One. It begins some six months after the events of that play. It is not necessary for the actors or the audience to read or even know about the prequel in order to enjoy this work, but the two together do enrich each other. As that play mentions, Pamela and Catherine are similar in stature. While that is an important plot point to Five Against One it is not important to Moments.
The truly astute may note the last names of Pamela and Catherine change between the plays - that is because both have legally changed their surnames back to Catherine's maiden name because of events in Five Against One.
Run time for the whole play and the soliloquies, Approximately 80 minutes. An intermission between the third and 4th plays is recommended.
Moments is Pamela's story. Catherine is a major character in this scene and play, but a minor character in the larger play as a whole. Her story is told, and hopefully I can share it one day.
I've been thinking on some of your points some more the last few days. "we look upon this" can change to "we look at this thing" -- same beat count, less sophisticated which works better for Pamela. Cat however is just fine - as I mentioned earlier she's an English major.
As for the "Right now they just spill each other's hearts out to each other right off the bat" -- that's bothered me a bit. I mean, this is by format a 10 minute play. Within this play I don't have much space for any exposition. I have done more with these characters in other plays - but is that detracting from this play when weighed by its own merits somehow?