We have eight marvelous short plays this month and I couldn’t make up my mind. So we have a 3-way tie! Why not? I can do what I want—I’m the boss of me.
Mary Alice Mark treats us to ACADEMIC OBJECTIVITY. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this piece. Mary Alice creates a world gone topsy-turvy: A world somewhere outside our solar system with a thin atmosphere that suffocates creativity and where “no child is left behind” is left behind. This is a world where the students could teach the teachers a thing or two—and should. They are sad teachers, indeed, who do not learn from their students. FOUNDLING by Deirdre opens up a mysterious world of wives’ tales, superstition and religious folklore. Set on a river bank of the Seine we travel back to a time of “pre-legend.” This play packs not only a punch, but wondrous ambiance, great characters and an engaging story. As with several of this month’s plays, there is more to be found than meets the eye. John Conforti’s BIG LEAGUE JERK ON A LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM shows us how sometimes we, as adults, have learned not to have fun—have learned to take the joy out of the game. Sometimes adults can be the biggest children of all—and it’s most unflattering of the adult and, sadly, negatively instructive to the child—children listen and watch and that is how they learn. The game of life doesn’t need to be as serious as far too many of us make it. Batter up!THE JOB INTERVIEW by Luana Krause is delicious. I know the young woman in this monologue. I saw her only yesterday. She works at Target, shops the malls and, in fact, I seem to run into her everywhere. Oh, gag me! Luana’s monologue is written by an observant mind and a sharp tongue. Ouch! This is a great audition piece for a young woman. I actually read this aloud to Ron with my lilting Valley voice and he went like all hysterical. Martin Heavisides’ ARE YOU THICK OR WHAT? is yet another example of the gloriously scenic territory of Martin’s maze of a mind. This play certainly deserves more than a single reading. In less than a page we are witness to a slice-of-life and an in depth vision of a truly functioning deaf, dumb and blind man. Ah, straight men! I still can’t figure them out. GOOD ANGELS by Olivia Arieti treats us to a taste of fatal irony. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t watching over you. Oh, yes, I believe in angels, but it never occurred to me that my angel might not like me at all. Good, after all, is a relative term. Speaking of “good,” THE GOOD-BYE by Vanessa David displays her great use of minimalist dialogue. Most of us do not speak in those long sentences that we write. My literary verbosity is testament to that. Good playwriting is predicated on good listening. Fine-tune your ear and listen to how we really speak—Vanessa has. And Vanessa has given us a glimpse into the tragedy of the dreams of dreamers who fail to work toward actualizing them. Having a dream is but the first step of a long journey of hard work. THE ANIMAL INSIDE by Timmy is surprising and wonderful! The next time you take a weekend getaway, leave your troubles and your excess baggage behind—if you can. Exercise and eat plenty of fruit. Although, I can’t imagine why anyone would keep their bananas in a closet, but who cares? It works. What’s in your closet?
And our first place tie goes to Deidre, Luana and Timmy. Will the three of you pick out your prize and let me know in an email or PM and include your postal address where I can mail it. (Check last month's post for the list of prizes.)
Well, my friends, I’ve enjoyed being your moderator. You have all taught and given me much. I believe you all have what it takes to be successful playwrights. Grab your dream and work it. Never lose your passion, your drive to continue with a vengeance when faced with rejection, your desire and vision for success—whatever “success” means to you. Never lose sight of that vision.
I wish you what I wish for myself: Love, laughter, bravos and fabulous lighting.
* * * * * * * * * *
By Mary Alice Mark
cast of characters
SQUIT: an elementary-school student
MANY STUDENTS: (as many as desired.)
SETTING: The center of a classroom, clear except for a desk and pallets on the floor.
AT RISE: TEACHER marks papers. ALL STUDENTS are sprawled on their pallets, coloring. We might hear comments like, “Hey!! That’s mine!” “I was using it!” Or, “I need the green one.” TEACHER’S AIDE walks around peering at the papers, murmuring encouragement, handing a crayon to a student here or there until TEACHER sets her papers aside.
TEACHER: Now then, we’ll see if you remember our lesson on dinosaurs. Scientists do not know what color dinosaurs actually were! (TEACHER wanders around looking at papers.)
TEACHER’S ASSISTANT: I think you’ll like this one!
TEACHER (Going to look): What have you got, Squit? (Indignant.) You know that can’t be!
SQUIT: You said, scientists don’t know what color dinosaurs actually were!
TEACHER (Holding up the picture.) We all know, they didn’t have stripes!
* * * * * * * * * *
On a river bank of the Seine, 1397
Christina – a fine lady in her 30’s
Mary – a ragged pagan in her 30’s
At rise CHRISTINA is sitting comfortably under a shady tree, slightly hidden, with a book in her hand. MARY comes up from the river & hurries by her.
CHRISTINA: You there, stop. Where are you going? The babe... the babe...
MARY: Hello. You frightened me. Are you talking to me? What babe?
CHRISTINA: The one you held in your arms not 3 moments ago. Where is it? I watched you carry it to the bank of the river.
MARY: Oh that one. That one’s half way to the English Channel, I suspect.
CHRISTINA: What! You threw it in the river! Why?
MARY: To drown, Miss. Are you a princess? Or a dame? I never saw you hiding there under that tree. Waiting on a lover?
CHRISTINA: Get it back, fetch it out of there!
MARY: I think not.
CHRISTINA: You will! Come down to the reeds and help me look you wench!
MARY: Your fine shoes will be spoiled ma’am & your dress. Besides I’m sure it’s too late. It was only 2 days old, never learned to swim yet...Oh. You’ve got it. Run up against a branch. It’s out of my hands, I won’t be blamed for this.
CHRISTINA (holding a bundle in a blanket): He’s still alive, but cold. Take him.
MARY: No. Besides he’s a her and more’s the pity.
CHRISTINA: Wicked woman. Were you whoring, is this the issue?
MARY: Oh no. She’s a proper daughter of a faithful wife. But we dare not keep it.
CHRISTINA: Then leave her at the foundling wheel if you’re too impoverished to care for it.
MARY: Heard of that, the foundling wheel. But I’m not one for passing on a curse. Born on the 9th day of the 9th month of the 99th year.
CHRISTINA: We’re still in August you fool. 1397 to be more precise.
MARY: Are we? I’ll pass that on. But she’s got the harelip besides. Have a look for yourself. (Christina looks.) You see?
CHRISTINA: Barely touched. I see virtue in her face.
MARY: I see another beating from the husband. The moment she was born I felt ashamed and could not speak. Till now. It’s a huge relief to have that lifted.
(CHRISTINA opens her dress and puts the baby inside to warm it.)
MARY: (Continues.) I wouldn’t do that if I were you.
CHRISTINA: She’s hardly bigger than a cold pear.
MARY: I don’t hold much fruit. What were you really doing under that tree?
CHRISTINA: I come here often, to find the shade of the riverbank and to collect my thoughts. Oh. She moves.
MARY: Collect your thoughts? Have you no husband to collect them for you?
CHRISTINA: I do but I like to think I can collect my own. I’m writing a book on the virtues and intelligence of women.
MARY: (pause) You’re lying, women don’t write books. Certainly not on the virtues of women. Are you a witch? Where is he then? Your husband?
CHRISTINA: He’s far away these months, soon to return. We lost a child, he might be glad to see another in the house. She’s warming now.
MARY: You’re not keeping it.
CHRISTINA: Unless you take her back. I haven’t thought yet. You have the milk.
MARY: My eldest son fell down the day she was born and never got up.
CHRISTINA: I won’t leave her to drown in the Seine. Someone must take her.
MARY: Oh I shiver to think you’ll not see your husband alive again.
CHRISTINA: Why would I not see him alive again?
MARY: Not for me to say. Though elves might come. With darts, poisoned with the sickness...I’m not making this up. They’ll find him, that’s the way of a curse. Not too late to toss it right into the deepest hole you can reach. We’ll put some flowers along the bank you’ll feel better. (reaching) I’ll do it again if you’ve not got the sense.
CHRISTINA: Stop. What’s her name?
MARY: I will not give it a name. How could I? Given all that I know? (pause) Though Joan came once, unbidden. Poor creature.
CHRISTINA: Then she’ll be Joan. And live to fight off more than your ignorance. I daresay.
* * * * * * * * * *
BIG LEAGUE JERK ON A LITTLE LEAGUE TEAM
By John Conforti
A coach stands staring at his ten players on his little league team sitting on their bench. He appears visibly frustrated with them. An eleventh player, JEREMY, walks in with a baseball bat and sits down.
COACH RICHARDS: Way to swing at the pitch, Jeremy. Good to know we can’t count on you to get on base ever.
JEREMY: Sorry coach.
COACH RICHARDS: All right. We still have time to make a comeback, so all isn’t lost.
MARK: Coach, the game’s over.
COACH RICHARDS: Yes, if you have that kind of attitude you little puke.
LUIS: No, he means the game’s over. We only play six innings in little league.
COACH RICHARDS: Luis...shut up. This is why nobody on the team likes you.
KEITH: I like Luis.
COACH RICHARDS: Well, you’re a loser. What did you bat, oh for three, today?
D.J.: It’s not our fault. Pee Wee’s is the best team in the league.
MITCH and EDDIE: Yeah!
COACH RICHARDS: Are you all this pathetic that you just accept defeat? Lopez triplets - are you with me?
LOPEZ TRIPLETS: (In unison) Que?
COACH RICHARDS: See, they’re with me.
LUIS: No. That’s Spanish. They’re saying “what.”
COACH RICHARDS: Luis, I hate everything about who you are and what you decide to be in life. (Beat) All right, if you think we’ve lost, get the hell out of my dug-out.
(Most of the team gets up and exits. Seeing the rest of the team stand, the LOPEZ TRIPLETS stand up and exit as well leaving COACH RICHARDS and one other player, CHAD.)
CHAD: I don’t think we’ve lost, Dad.
(There’s a considerable pause.)
COACH RICHARDS: (After a deep breath) You aren’t even my favorite player on this team.
* * * * * * * * * *
THE JOB INTERVIEW
By Luana Krause
(Lights up on young woman center stage addressing the audience.)
So I went for this job interview at a bank, and like, it was so weird. I waited for like, ten minutes in the lobby and I was so BORED I thought I was gonna DIE. I couldn't stand it any longer and checked out their magazines. You would think they'd have cool mags like "People" or "In Style." No such luck. All they had was like, generic. You know, "Time" and "Newsweek." Like, who reads THAT!
Finally, this lady called my name and I went into this, like HUGE office. The boss was sitting at this really big desk and asked me to sit down. He was a fat dude, and bald, but super nice. He's all, "Why do you want to work at this bank?" And I'm all, "Because I need a job." And he's all, "What skills do you have?" And I'm all, "I can use a computer and talk on the phone." And he's all, "Are you good with numbers?" And I'm all, "Duh. I've got five credit cards and not one is maxed out yet." And he's all, "Do you enjoy dealing with the public?"And I'm all, "Shut up! I deal with the public all the time. I go to the mall, like, every Saturday." He stood up and shook my hand. And he's all, "I'll get back to you. Have a nice day."
I know he's gonna offer me the job. He'll be like, "When can you start?" And I'll be like, "Right away."
* * * * * * * * * *
ARE YOU THICK OR WHAT?
By Martin Heavisides
(A man and a woman occupy adjacent stools at a bar.)
MAN: So I'm chatting up this smouldering chick at a bar for over an hour, making pretty good progress I think when she suddenly says to me:
WOMAN: How long have you been married?
MAN: I'm not married whatever gave you that idea?
WOMAN: Separated? You've got quite a groove indented on your ring finger.
MAN: Oh right! separated of course I'd forgotten.
WOMAN: Tricks of the mind. You really want to sleep with me don't you? (He nods.) All right here's what I'll do. I'll come back to your room, we'll share intimate fluids and in the morning I'll track down your wife and tell her what happened. Maybe even show her videos, I always have technical equipment on my person. If you're separated, no harm done except good luck if you were hoping for a reconciliation. If not I'm going to give her a whack of practical advice how to wring every penny out of you in a divorce settlement. Still want to sleep with me?
MAN: Sounds great! just like that, no strings attached.
WOMAN: None I haven't mentioned, are you thick or what?
MAN: That's for me to know and you to find out. Long story short, night of monkey gymnastics like you wouldn't believe and do you know what that bitch did the very next day? I trace the entire collapse of my marriage to her actions that day. What makes a person do something like that, right out of the blue?
* * * * * * * * * *
By Olivia Arieti
GARY A good angel
JACK A good angel
Setting: A path in Heaven.
GARY: Hey, Jack, you too up here?
JACK: Yeah, a car accident, the guy I was looking after smashed his car against the bridge's railing. I'm waiting for another assignment. What about you, Gary? Thought yours was quite young.
GARY: Mine died too. I still can't get over it.
JACK: I can and am so happy. He was such a lousy creep, not even the patience of a good angel could stand that much.
GARY: Now, now there, better stop using such expressions. We're up here…
JACK: Oops, I'm sorry, but he really drove me mad. Kept telling him, "Don't do it, this is bad, that is wrong, sooner or later you'll be judged"…
GARY: Well, you did your job, and ours isn't an easy one, especially nowadays.
JACK: Yeah, we're Heaven's volunteers but it's really getting hard.
GARY: Too much competition, Lucifer's guys are more appealing than us and you run into them at every corner.
JACK: My guy was surrounded. Besides gambling and drinking, he had all sorts of shameful affairs despite his lovely wife, almost an angel herself.
GARY: Just like the girl I had been assigned to, so sweet, so gentle… poor creature. (Sobs.) I still can't help crying when I think of her.
JACK: There, there now… Perhaps she's happier now.
GARY: She cried herself to sleep every night for that lousy bastard. He has never been true to her.
JACK: Nay, nay, those words, Gary… Forgot you're a good angel?
GARY: (Shouts.) She died of a broken heart, Jack. He killed her!
JACK: Shhhh! Shouting is not allowed up here.
GARY: If I find him, I'll break his neck, cross my heart! His good angel's one too for letting him do what he did. And he should be around here, I'm sure, for the guy died recently… in a car accident, a reckless driver too, right by a bridge.
JACK: Oh, really? Well… er… I just remembered I've been summoned by the upper Headquarters, got to go now, buddy… Nice seeing you.
GARY: Hey, wait a minute!
JACK: (Hurriedly.) Sorry, can't keep them waiting.
GARY: Where did you say your guy smashed his car?!?
* * * * * * * * * *
By Vanessa David
The train station. HE enters, followed by SHE. She can barely look at him.
HIM – Want me to wait with—
HER – No, I’m okay.
HIM – I’m sorry.
HER – Don’t be sorry.
HIM – We were gonna be rock stars. Tour the world, rock the masses…
HER – Heavy metal’s Sonny and Cher.
HIM – That’s right, what were we gonna sing?
HER – uh…Ozzy and Lita Ford—
BOTH – “Close My Eyes Forever”
HER – Was that the only song?
HIM – I think so.
HER – So, that would be our whole concert?
HIM – I think so.
HER – No wonder we didn’t take off.
HIM – Speaking of which…
(It’s time for Him to go. They look at each other for a moment and go to hug each other. They are awkward for a moment, until they melt into each other’s arms as if they were always meant to be there. They stay like this a little too long, they realize it. They peel away from each other. They want to kiss, but they don’t.)
HIM – Good-bye.
(He leaves. She stares where he was.)
* * * * * * * * * *
THE ANIMAL INSIDE
Hotel Room. Dallas is making a drink. He wears bathrobe. Landon enters, carrying a few bags.
DALLAS: How was shopping?
LANDON: Beautiful. It’s almost like a religious experience for me.
DALLAS: (Sign of the Cross) Yes...I know.
LANDON: Oh, pooh you.
DALLAS: Need a drink?
LANDON: Do you mean “Would I like a drink?” (beat) Yes, I would.
LANDON: Honestly, Dallas. Do I look like I need a drink?
LANDON: You’re a shit.
DALLAS: Sorry. (Makes drink during following exchange.)
LANDON: Dallas...why did we come here?
DALLAS: To get away.
LANDON: From what?
DALLAS: Life. Stress. Christ, we haven’t taken a vacation in three years. (hands her the drink)
LANDON: (Sits on bed) Well, for heaven’s sake, what have we left behind? It’s like there’s a big gorilla in the room wherever we go. And it’s been like this for years.
DALLAS: Don’t be so melodramatic, dear. We took this trip to relax. So, relax.
LANDON: I give up. I’m going to take a shower. If you feel the need, you can join me. (LANDON looks at Dallas, invitingly. Exits to bathroom.)
(DALLAS takes a deep drink. Looks in mirror. Pats stomach, bottom of chin, etc. Opens robe, extends boxer shorts out, looks down. Shakes head. Shower is heard from bathroom)
DALLAS: What did you buy?
LANDON’S VOICE: What?
DALLAS: I said, what did you buy?
LANDON’S VOICE: Bananas. We haven’t been eating enough fruit on the trip. Put them in the closet, please.
DALLAS: (More to himself) Bananas? Christ...
(DALLAS picks up bag. Looks in. Laughs. Walks like a monkey to the closet and opens the door. A huge gorilla barrels out of the closet and takes him to the floor to the side of the bed away from the audience.)
LANDON’S VOICE: Did you say something, Dallas? Are you coming soon? And I don't mean that as a joke.
(Gorilla rises. Looks in mirror. Pats stomach, bottom of chin, etc. Looks down, smiles broadly. Strolls to bathroom door and pushes it open.)
The last one page play I tried when I was playing around with the form last month certainly did. It's now a full length play, I Foresee Trouble, which I entered in the Cheshire Comedy Competition. The one page version simply left too much unsaid. (The one I submitted here didn't prompt the same kind of expansion however.)
Once again, my own little effort is in good company. Congrats to the triumvirate of winners.