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The Best of PlayGround 2006


AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS ©2006 Tom Swift NOWHERE MAN ©2006 Tim Bauer PORTALS OF THE PAST ©2006 Dave Garrett SEWERMONSTER DIARIES ©2006 Brady Lea SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO ©2006 Ross Peter Nelson THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE ©2006 Molly Rhodes THREE, UM, SISTERS ©2006 Geetha Reddy CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that performance of the plays contained in this publication (see above) are subject to a royalty. They are fully protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America, and of all countries covered by the International Copyright Union (including the Dominion of Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth), and of all countries covered by the Pan-American Copyright Convention, the Universal Copyright Convention, the Berne Convention, and of all countries with which the United States has reciprocal copyright relations. All rights, including professional/amateur stage rights, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, video or sound recording, all other forms of mechanical or electronic reproduction, such as CD-ROM, CD-1, DVD, information storage and retrieval systems and photocopying, and the rights of translation into foreign languages, are strictly reserved. Particular emphasis is placed upon the matter of readings, permission for which must be secured from the Author’s agent in writing. The English language stock and amateur stage performance rights in the United States, its territories, possessions and Canada in the above-listed plays are controlled exclusively by PLAYGROUND, INC., 268 Bush Street, #2912, San Francisco, CA 94104. No professional or non-professional performance of the Play may be given without obtaining in advance the written permission of PLAYGROUND, INC., and paying the requisite fee. Inquiries concerning all other rights should be addressed to the appropriate playwright, c/o PlayGround, 268 Bush Street, #2912, San Francisco, CA 94104. SPECIAL NOTE: Anyone receiving permission to produce any of the plays contained in this publication is required to give credit to the Author as sole and exclusive Author of such Play(s) on the title page of all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play(s) and in all instances in which the title of the Play(s) appears for purposes of advertising, publicizing or otherwise exploiting the Play and/or a production thereof. The name of the Author must appear on a separate line, in which no other name appears, immediately beneath the title and in size of type equal to 50% of the size of the largest most prominent letter used for the title of the Play(s). No person, firm or entity may receive credit larger or more prominent than that accorded the Author. The following acknowledgment must appear on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play: PlayGround developed and subsequently produced the World Premiere of [Play] in San Francisco in [year, as indicated on credits page] James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director SPECIAL NOTE ON SONGS AND RECORDINGS: For performances of copyrighted songs, arrangements or recordings mentioned in these Plays, the permission of the copyright owner(s) must be obtained. Other songs, arrangements or recordings may be substituted provided permission from the copyright owner(s) of such songs, arrangements or recordings is obtained; or songs, arrangements or recordings in the public domain may be substituted. Layout, Artwork, Introduction ©2006 PlayGround, Inc. Printed by DeHART’s Printing Services Corporation.


Table of Contents Introduction .................................................................. 5 Foreword ..................................................................... 7 AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS .............................. 9 NOWHERE MAN ............................................................. 23 PORTALS OF THE PAST .................................................... 31 SEWERMONSTER DIARIES .................................................. 43 SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN Aテ前 NUEVO ..................................... 55 THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE ................................................. 67 THREE, UM, SISTERS ....................................................... 77


The Best of PlayGround (2006) PlayGround, Inc. Board of Directors James A. Kleinmann, President Kari Kiernan, Vice President Lara N. Gilman, Secretary Trynne Miller, Treasurer Robert Allen Wendy Bear Jennifer Cockayne David Eisenbud Barbara Oliver KJ Page Stephen Von Rump Susannah Wise Artistic Director James A. Kleinmann Associate Director Annie Stuart Dramaturg and Education Coordinator Garret Jon Groenveld Acknowledgments: Continued thanks to Paula Vogel for the inspiration, to co-founders Brighde Mullins and Denise Shama, to Berkeley Repertory Theatre for providing PlayGround’s home since 2003, and to the PlayGround Writers Pool⎯whose work fuels everything we do and who represent the future of the American Theatre. PlayGround is a member of Theatre Bay Area and Theatre Communications Group, the national service organization of the professional theatre. PlayGround operates under an agreement with Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. PlayGround is made possible in part by generous funding from: The Dramatists Guild Fund, Fleishhacker Foundation, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Lenore & Howard Klein Foundation, Negley Flinn Charitable Foundation, Bernard Osher Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Tournesol Project, The Zellerbach Family Foundation To make a tax-deductible contribution to PlayGround, write to: PlayGround, Inc., 268 Bush Street #2912, San Francisco, CA 94104. Or visit our website, www.playground-sf.org.


Introduction Welcome to The Best of PlayGround (2006), the sixth publication in PlayGround’s ongoing “Best of” series. During the period from October 2005 through March 2006, PlayGround developed and staged 36 original short plays out of more than 170 submissions by San Francisco Bay Area emerging writers. Each was written in just four days in response to different monthly topics initiated by PlayGround. Seven of these works received their world premiere in May 2006 at PlayGround’s annual showcase for emerging writers, The Best of PlayGround Festival, now celebrating its tenth consecutive year. The Best of PlayGround (2006) features the seven plays selected for this year’s festival. PlayGround was founded in 1994 by myself, Brighde Mullins and Denise Shama. Our mission was and remains: to support the development of new local voices for the theatre. In our first twelve years, PlayGround has quickly emerged as the largest developer of new works and new writers in the Bay Area. PlayGround has also become a place where community is created, where developing writers create connections with the Bay Area’s working professionals⎯directors and actors who make their careers on some of our most significant stages. PlayGround’s alumni have gone on to win both local and national honors for their short and fulllength work, including recognition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, the Love Creek/Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, and The Drama League’s New Directors-New Works series, among others. PlayGround’s ongoing activities include: Monday Night PlayGround, a monthly staged reading series of original ten-minute plays by emerging writers running October through March; the Emerging Playwright Awards, presented to the top emerging writers discovered through the Monday Night PlayGround series; The Best of PlayGround Festival, featuring short plays by the season’s Emerging Playwright Award winners, fully produced by a team of professional directors, designers, actors, and dramaturg; monthly playwriting intensives and lectures; and two full-length commissioning programs⎯the June Anne Baker Prize and the PlayGround Fellowship. We look forward to providing additional services for developing playwrights and the professional theatre community in the years to come. James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director 5


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Foreword Ten years ago, the PlayGround Festival was born (originally titled the Emerging Playwrights Festival and now known as The Best of PlayGround festival). And in 1997, I was fortunate enough to have one of my works selected for inclusion. My play was called Good Fools, Nice Women. The inspiration was to do a straightforward, albeit humorous, reaction to the many early PlayGround scripts about a guy getting a girl just by being charming. As most of the early PlayGround writers were enrolled in San Francisco State at the time, and most of them were young straight guys—it wasn’t a stretch that most of the early writings would be about what they were not successful at. The script was the first of many times that I played on the device of split dialogue, a wonderful tool to add unexpected depth. I know I didn’t originate it, but at the time it felt like an innovation. There were other plays that night I can still remember, including Mary Michael Wagner’s beautifully restrained monologue, Crawling Out of Your Skin, about a young woman’s rape, so powerfully delivered by Delia McDougal that it still haunts me today. Or Robert Barker’s Skittish. It taught me a lesson: that true moments of emotion can overcome the structural challenges a play might carry, just as the short play, like the poem, lives best on emotion. And now, 12 years after we started and 10 Festivals later, it’s still that idea of innovation and emotion thriving in the creative process that has become PlayGround. As of this year, through our Festival for emerging playwrights, we have premiered 68 new plays (the first year we did only five) by 42 writers, often giving those writers their first professional production. This was the place that gave me my first production and my first commission. I consider it my home. And still, every month, after over 400 plays developed by PlayGround in our Monday Night play development series, as I sit down to read, I ask myself, “What else can be done with a tenpage play?” And the answer is, “Everything and anything.” This year’s work has particularly impressed me with humor and innovation. Tim Bauer’s title character, Nowhere Man, makes his presence known in a very unusual way and Ross Nelson’s anthropomorphic Sexual Perversity in Año Nuevo will forever make me question what elephant seals are thinking. I am particularly pleased that our collaborations have also produced such very interesting results. Ross’ play was part of our third annual collaboration with 7


the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. And our unique collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and its exhibit, “1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures,” yielded Dave Garrett’s Portals of the Past. This play examines not only two different ways of looking at how art is created, but also at two different ways of dealing with disaster. With many plays examining the state of women in the world, this year’s work also feels very exciting and miles away from the early days. Molly Rhodes’ play, Three Divided into One, is a touching look into the demands of modern motherhood, and last year’s June Anne Baker Prize winner Geetha Reddy’s play, Three, Um, Sisters, cleverly examines female body image issues. Which brings us to this year’s recipient of the June Anne Baker Prize, Brady Lea. Her consistently quirky humor is evident in this year’s festival play, Sewermonster Diaries. Brady has a knack for taking the absurd and making it real, from a talking sandwich in last year’s Mushroom Boy, to the title character in this year’s piece. To say more would spoil the joy of it. In Brady’s plays, characters live the small things most people wouldn’t care about as if they meant life and death. Lastly, there is the very feminine, very innovative, And Now, A Word from Our Sponsors, by Tom Swift. As you’ll see, he plays with both the Medea story and modern advertising, whipping it all up into a frothy lather. It’s this type of innovation that led us to award Tom this year’s PlayGround Fellowship. From this year’s Sponsor to 2004’s My Name is Yin to 2005’s The Beginning, Tom has taken the mundane and thrown it on its tail. All of the plays in this book represent what has become a PlayGround trademark, comedy past sketch, innovative form suiting function, and strong characters showing us a new way of looking at the world. Which is why we go to the theatre, right? To be entertained? Nod your head and say, “Yes.” Garret Jon Groenveld Poet, Playwright and PlayGround Alumnus

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS By Tom Swift

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS By Tom Swift AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on October 17, 2005. It was directed by Joan Mankin. The cast was as follows: Madge............................................................. Marie Shell Janis............................................................... Gwen Loeb Cathy........................................................... Carla Pantoja AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of PlayGround (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by Jim Kleinmann. The cast was as follows: Madge......................................................... Cat Thompson Janis............................................................ Danielle Thys Cathy.......................................................... Ellen Scarpaci Tom Swift received a degree in acting from Northwestern University in 1984. He is a three-time PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award winner and the recipient of the 2006 PlayGround Fellowship. His adaptation of the movie “Chinatown,” Isaiah 43:20, was staged at the University of San Francisco in 2005, directed by Ellen Sebastian Chang. His full-length play, The Marthamenides, received a staged reading at Theater Rhinoceros in 2004. In real life he serves as Captain of the Financial Avengers, an investment management firm that he founded with his sidekick, The Oracle.

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS By Tom Swift SCENE ONE JANIS is onstage, alone. She is scrubbing a toilet with her bare hands. MADGE enters. MADGE:

Yoo-hoo, Janis! Janis? Are you home?

JANIS:

I’m in the bathroom, Madge.

MADGE:

Oh, I’m sorry— I’ll come back.

JANIS:

Oh, silly! I’m cleaning the toilet. Come on in.

MADGE:

Don’t you have the maid do that?

JANIS:

Not since I discovered Argo, from Clorox. I never knew that cleaning the toilet could be so satisfying.

MADGE:

You’re not even using a brush?

JANIS:

Or rubber gloves!

MADGE:

Janis!

JANIS:

There’s no need for brushes and gloves anymore, Madge. With Argo’s two-in-one action, I can clean my toilet and moisturize my hands, all at the same time. Here, try it!

MADGE:

I don’t know…

JANIS:

Madge, don’t be silly— it’s as easy as pie.

MADGE:

(She gets down on her knees, with JANIS.) It is so clean and white. And, it smells like spring lilacs.

JANIS:

Feel these hands.

MADGE:

(She does. They share a meaningful moment.) Oh, Janis. They’re so soft and… supple.

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR JANIS:

Madge, Argo has changed my life. Maybe it can change yours, too. (They are still holding hands.)

MADGE:

Argo, from Clorox.

JANIS:

Now, with two-in-one action. (Another shared moment. Lights out.) SCENE TWO MADGE is onstage. She is bereft. JANIS enters.

JANIS:

Madge. As soon as I heard I came right over.

MADGE:

Oh, Janis. It’s so good to see you. (Labored.) Can I get you a cup of coffee? (She bursts into tears.)

JANIS:

It’s alright, dear. Let it out.

MADGE:

I just didn’t see it coming. I thought we were so happy.

JANIS:

And, after all these years. Why did Steve leave?

MADGE:

I’m so ashamed.

JANIS:

Was it another woman?

MADGE:

No. It was halitosis.

JANIS:

Bad breath?

MADGE:

Yes. He said my breath smells like a septic tank.

JANIS:

Oh, Madge. Haven’t you heard of Flush?

MADGE:

Flush?

JANIS:

New Flush, from Procter and Gamble. One rinse and your breath stays fresh all day.

MADGE:

Does it really work all day?

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR JANIS:

Sure! I Flushed this morning and my breath is fresh as a summer breeze. Here, sniff. (She blows in MADGE’s face.)

MADGE:

It smells… alluring.

JANIS:

Just one Flush and I get twelve hours of fresh breath protection. And, now there’s Fantastic Golden Flush, with fast-acting whitener. My mouth gets two-in-one action. Here, try it.

MADGE:

(She does.) Oh, my mouth is alive with summer glory. And feel that two-in-one action.

JANIS:

Yes, two-in-one action. (Pause.) Well… I’m sure Steve will come back, now that you’ve found Golden Flush.

MADGE:

I suppose he will.

JANIS:

I bet you can’t wait to call him.

MADGE:

No, I can wait. (Pause.)

JANIS:

Oh. Well. I guess I better be going.

MADGE:

Janis, my mouth is alive with summer glory.

JANIS:

Can I taste?

MADGE:

Oh, please. (They kiss, passionately. Lights out.) SCENE THREE JANIS and MADGE are in bed. There is a sound of a happy alarm clock.

MADGE:

What a glorious morning!

JANIS:

Did you sleep well?

MADGE:

I’ve never slept better.

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR JANIS:

That’s because of NightTime— it puts you out without a doubt! New, from—

MADGE:

No Janis, it’s not because of NightTime. It’s because of you. I’ve never been so happy in my life! I feel complete.

JANIS:

Madge, hush. What would our sponsors say?

MADGE:

To hell with our sponsors! I’m in love!

JANIS:

Madge! It’s not wise to curse the sponsors!

MADGE:

Oh peshaw! (Sound of distant thunder.) Get up, sleepy-head, we have a busy day!

JANIS:

We do?

MADGE:

We have to go see the gynecologist!

JANIS:

Oh, that. You know Madge, I’ve been thinking…

MADGE:

What? What have you been thinking? You don’t want to have children? Janis, we’ve been inseminating for weeks.

JANIS:

No, not that silly. I’ve been thinking about new LesbiKit, from Johnson and Johnson.

MADGE:

What’s LesbiKit?

JANIS:

Lesbikit is a new pregnancy detection device that comes in community-sensitive, rainbow strips. There’s no uncomfortable penetration, no messy urine collection and no insensitive gynecological probes. And, LesBiKit’s Revolutionary Ultrasound Sensation will not only verify your pregnancy, it will also indicate the baby’s gender with eightyfive percent statistical certainty! LesbiKit is designed for women who love women, but can also be used by women who love men, women who love men and women, and women who are questioning. LesbiKit is not for women who smoke, women over forty and women who are 14


AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR taking the pill. A small number of women who use LesbiKit develop an uncomfortable rash and genital ulcers. MADGE:

Sounds great! How’d you hear about it?

JANIS:

My friend Cathy told me about it. Here, just place this rainbow strip under your tongue. (She does.)

MADGE:

(With mouth closed.) Who’s Cathy?

JANIS:

And count to five. One. Two.

MADGE:

Who’s Cathy, Janis?

JANIS:

Keep that mouth closed. Three. Four.

MADGE:

Who’s Cathy?

JANIS:

Five! There, it’s done. (She takes out the strip.)

MADGE:

Honey, who’s Cathy?

JANIS:

Are you ready for the biggest moment of your life?

MADGE:

I— I suppose so. But—

JANIS:

Shhhhh. Just close your eyes and wait for the sound of Melissa Etheridge. (They close their eyes and wait. Melissa Etheridge sound plays. JANIS shrieks.) Twins! Twins!! (She hugs MADGE.) We’re going to have twin boys!

MADGE:

Honey—

JANIS:

I’m so happy. And, it’s all because of LesbiKit.

MADGE:

But, Janis—

JANIS:

New, from Johnson and lesbians are people, too.

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Johnson.

Because


AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR MADGE:

(Quietly, but intensely.) Who’s Cathy?

JANIS:

(Quickly.) A portion of all LesbiKit sales will be donated to the Rubyfruit Jungle Foundation.

MADGE:

(Very angry.) Who the fuck is Cathy? (Thunder. Lights out.) SCENE FOUR MADGE and JANIS are seated. JANIS is eating. MADGE is still. She looks terrible.

JANIS:

Madge, this cake is delicious.

MADGE:

Thank you.

JANIS:

Is it a QuickieCake from Betty Crocker?

MADGE:

No.

JANIS:

Oh. Well, it tastes just like a Betty Crocker QuickieCake. It’s light and delicious with a third less calories.

MADGE:

No, Janis, I made it myself. It is not a QuickieCake and it does not have a third less calories. It’s fattening as hell.

JANIS:

Oh.

MADGE:

Where were you last night?

JANIS:

I was… out. In our new Subaru Hybrid Huntress. I just can’t get enough of that smooth, safe ride.

MADGE:

Can it, Janis.

JANIS:

But it’s Eco-Friendly.

MADGE:

Will you cut the crap?

JANIS:

(Intensely.) I told you, it’s not wise to curse the sponsors. 16


AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR MADGE:

Fuck the sponsors. (Thunder and lightning. Angry.) I know where you were and I know who you were with. And, while you were out with her, I was up all night with the twins. Marcus was vomiting and Michael had diarrhea.

JANIS:

You should have tried StopItAll, from Gerber.

MADGE:

Janis, stop it.

JANIS:

Not StopIt. StopItAll, from Gerber. It’s guaranteed—

MADGE:

Janis, I don’t want to talk about StopItAll. I want to talk about us. (Long pause.) Both begin speaking at once.

JANIS:

StopItAll may cause gastrointestinal backup, and is not intended for pregnant women and adults. Consult your physician if constipation continues for more than three days. Children should not operate heavy equipment while using StopItAll. A small number of StopItAll users lose their appetite and suffer from wasting. StopItAll can cause dry-mouth, malnutrition, abdominal swelling, dehydration, impotence…

MADGE:

I know it all happened so quickly, but I think we can work it out. I’ve been seeing a counselor and she says I’m too dependent. She says I need to think about what it means to be a lesbian, and then think about what kind of lesbian I should be in a relationship. She also thinks you’re too controlling, but that’s because I just came out of the closet and need an Alpha Female. And, she thinks couples counseling can work for us. Whaddaya think?

JANIS:

… I can’t do this anymore.

MADGE:

What?

JANIS:

I want to break up. 17


AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR MADGE:

My God.

JANIS:

I’m in love with Cathy. We’re going to get married. She’s Canadian.

MADGE:

But… what about the kids?

JANIS:

You can have them.

MADGE:

I don’t want them.

JANIS:

Neither do I.

MADGE:

But, having kids was your idea.

JANIS:

They’re not my kids, they’re your kids. And, I want you to move out.

MADGE:

Janis! How could you?

JANIS:

How? It was easy. I used DivorceDotCom, the new legal service for busy people with busy lives.

MADGE:

Omigod, I can’t believe this is happening to me.

JANIS:

DivorceDotCom is a new open-source software system, from Google.

MADGE:

You're dumping me with Google?

JANIS:

Since we never registered as domestic partners—

MADGE:

Yes, but—

JANIS:

And, never filed adoption papers for your twins—

MADGE:

They’re our twins—

JANIS:

The Introductory Dissolution Agreement was all I needed to get you out of my life forever.

MADGE:

Janis—

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR JANIS:

Just $29.95, plus shipping and handling. (Hands her a document.)

MADGE:

(Begging.) Janis, please, don’t do this.

JANIS:

I want you out of the house immediately—

MADGE:

I don’t want to leave…

JANIS

—or, for an additional charge, deputized marshals will remove you by force.

MADGE:

Janis!!

JANIS:

It’s for the best, Madge, you’re just too clingy. (Pause. MADGE bursts into tears.) DivorceDotCom, for those unpleasant moments in any life. SCENE FIVE There is a sound of a happy doorbell. JANIS enters. MADGE is standing downstage.

JANIS:

Oh, Madge. It’s you.

MADGE:

Janis.

JANIS:

What a surprise.

MADGE:

I’m sorry to bother you. I won’t take too much of your time.

JANIS:

You’re violating the restraining order. (Pause.)

MADGE:

Did you get the wedding present I sent?

JANIS:

Yes, that was sweet. The bathrobe was beautiful. Cathy’s trying it on now.

MADGE:

Oh, good. I’m glad she liked it. I hope it smelled Downey Fresh.

JANIS:

It did.

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AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR MADGE:

Two-in-one action. You taught me that. (Pause.)

JANIS:

This is awkward.

MADGE:

I know. Look, I don’t want to keep you. I want to apologize. I know I’ve been difficult. You were right. I was on the re-bound from Steve and it all happened so quickly. I wasn’t ready.

JANIS:

Shhh, don’t. What’s done is done. That’s all in the past now.

MADGE:

I hope we can be friends. I hope we can all be friends. Cathy, too.

JANIS:

I’m sure we can. (Pause.) So… it was real nice of you to stop by. I hope the boys are doing okay.

MADGE:

They’re not.

JANIS:

What’s wrong?

MADGE:

Well, I was wondering if you could take them— I think they’d be happier with you and Cathy.

JANIS:

DivorceDotCom stipulates that I have no legal obligation—

MADGE:

They miss you so much.

JANIS:

Here we go again.

MADGE:

They’re in the car now. Do you want to see them?

JANIS:

I don’t think that would be a good idea—

MADGE:

No really— I think you should see them. Now. She exits. As JANIS calls after her, we hear a commotion offstage. Then, screams from CATHY who enters, on fire, running in circles.

JANIS:

Cathy? Cathy!?! Cathy!! Stop, drop and roll, Cathy, stop, drop and roll. (CATHY does so. 20


AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR MADGE enters, carrying two large shopping bags.) What have you done, you witch? MADGE:

That? Oh, that’s New Flaming Fresh Downey, with Napalm. (CATHY screams.)

JANIS:

You’re mad.

MADGE:

Soft as a flower but burns for an hour, now part of your rinse and revenge cycle. From Lockheed Martin! CATHY still writhes, but is near death.

JANIS:

Oh, God. Oh, God. What have you done?

MADGE:

And, here are the kids. (Referring to the shopping bags.) The apartment was so small, I didn’t have a place to put them. Until I heard about Space-Bag Storage Packs, as seen on TV! Just pop your babies in an extra-large bag, hook up your vacuum cleaner, (She shows two large Space-Bag Storage Packs with a dead baby encased in each. Triumphant and maniacal.) and suck their life away. (A blood-curdling scream as the realization sinks in. A CHORUS emerges from the darkness.)

CHORUS:

Space-Bag Storage Packs as seen on TV. Order now and receive seven bags for one low price. Now only $19.95 plus shipping and handling. Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back.

A RED WASH and another blood-curdling scream from JANIS. MADGE is triumphant, holding the children. End of play.

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NOWHERE MAN By Tim Bauer

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NOWHERE MAN By Tim Bauer NOWHERE MAN was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on January 16, 2006. It was directed by James A. Kleinmann. The cast was as follows: Arlene............................................................. Diana Boos Manny......................................................... Jesse Caldwell Grezwyk..................................................... Stephen Pawley Amber........................................................ Isabelle Ortega Jerome........................................................ Robert Parnell NOWHERE MAN was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of PlayGround (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by George Maguire. The cast was as follows: Arlene.............................................................. Mary Baird Manny............................................................ Soren Oliver Grezwyk................................................. Eric Fraisher Hayes Amber.......................................................... Ellen Scarpaci Jerome....................................................... Douglas Giorgis Tim Bauer’s short plays have been performed at theaters such as Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Colonial Playhouse, National Comedy Theater, Phoenix Theatre and the American Conservatory Theater, where he was a winner of the David Mamet Writing Contest in 2003. Tim is a recipient of a 2006 PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award, a 2004 winner of the Short Leaps Festival, and a Semifinalist for both the Academy Foundation’s Nicholl Fellowship and the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project. His first full-length play was developed by Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco; his second will be workshopped by Shelterbelt Theatre at Edward Albee’s Great Plains Conference. Tim serves on the Literary Committee at the Magic Theatre and lives in San Francisco with his wife Mariella Krause.

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NOWHERE MAN By Tim Bauer At Rise: A diner in some big city. ARLENE, 30s, the waitress, talks to the audience from downstage. MANNY, 50s, the owner of the diner, mans the register stage left. GREZWYK, 30s, the line cook who talks with a vaguely Eastern European accent, works the line upstage. AMBER, 20s, a hipster customer, sits at a table stage right. They all speak directly to the audience about JEROME, 70s, a skinny old guy at another table in the middle, with his back to the audience, who is slowly eating the ten pieces of cake, pies and ice cream sundaes that cover his table. ARLENE:

What kind of fool orders one of everything? One of everything? There’s gotta be one dessert you don’t like.

MANNY:

The guy, he comes in like he always comes in. What’s not to like? He’s a good customer. So he wants every dessert we have? So what? All of a sudden his money’s no good?

GREZWYK:

Six orders I have. Then I must stop to cut piece of cake from every cake. One pie from every pie. Skinny bastard.

AMBER:

Hello? Jenny Craig?

ARLENE:

He comes in from time to time. Almost always sits in my section. Which is just my luck ’cause he don’t tip for shit. Although I can’t guarantee he actually asks to be sat in my section every time. Truth be told, there ain’t nothing but two sections. And for all I know he just likes to sit away from the window so his Mafia buddies don’t gun him down. Still. He always ends up in my section. I bet he likes me. That’d be just my luck.

AMBER:

Here’s what I’m thinking. You know those eating contests that they treat like it’s a real sport? Where big tubs of lard and little skinny dorks who couldn’t do anything else with their lives shove hot dogs down their throats so they can win, like, 25


NOWHERE MAN a plaque? They take these people who have absolutely no skills except doing the one thing we all have to do to stay alive— hello, that’s not a talent, that’s instinct— and they get famous for being on some cable channel you only see if you accidentally sit on the remote. Anyway, I figure he’s training for that stupid thing. Loser. MANNY:

Maybe the guy’s hungry. Maybe the guy’s training for a World’s Record. Maybe the guy wants attention. If his cash is plain old American cash, he can do what he wants. Although I reserve the right to refuse service. No shirt, no shoes— get out!… But he has shoes.

GREZWYK:

First they say, “Stop with hamburger. Cut up many cakes. Cut up every cakes! Put ice cream in dish.” Then they say, “Where is hamburger?” A cook has a system. To mess with a cook’s system? Woe to you, I say. Woe to you.

ARLENE:

I remember the first time he came in here. Paid me in change. Seven dollars and ninety-three cents in change. How do I remember it was seven dollars and ninety-three cents in change? Because he counted it. While I waited. Made me stand there holding an almost-full coffee pot while he’s all, “Seven eighty-two. Seven eighty-three. Seven eighty-four.” I said right there, “Don’t you ever forget this man’s face, Arlene, because he sits in your section again, you spill something on that man.” I didn’t. But I ain’t promising nothing. He’s still on my list.

MANNY:

I remember that guy. He’s always doing something. Knocked over my gumball machine. I had a gumball machine for Jerry’s Kids. Put in a quarter, watch the gumball spiral, cure muscular dystrophy. Customers love it. When I bring out the gumball machine, an extra $1500 in sales, guaranteed. The people, they love entertainment. Then one day. He walks in. Bang. Gumballs everywhere. Glass everywhere. The whole place

26


NOWHERE MAN applauds. This kind of entertainment, I don’t need. GREZWYK:

I remember this man. This man? Doggy Bag Man. You watch. He will want I take back all the food I give him, put in doggy bag. God damn this Doggy Bag Man.

AMBER:

Wait a minute. I remember that dude. That dude’s in my yoga class. Stares at JEROME. No, that dude was fatter.

MANNY:

Some customers order the same thing every time. They want you to remember their name. They want to play the big shot. They bring their friend, you say, “Hello, Mister Sullivan. The usual?” This they think makes them important. They think their friend will be impressed by their lack of originality. “All the many choices on this menu,” they will think, “and my friend chooses an egg salad sandwich, every single time. What a great man my friend must be!” And so this guy? Dollars to donuts he knocks things down, pays with pennies, eats three pies, so he can bring his friends and we say, “Ahh, Mister Pie Man! Welcome back.” People do strange things to be remembered.

ARLENE:

I’ll bet his mama didn’t raise him right. I saw this program on PBS? They took a monkey, and instead of letting that monkey be held by his mama, they had that monkey raised by a wire basket. They took some wire, made a little basket that rocked him and held his bottle for him, and he didn’t have no human contact— or no monkey contact— whatsoever. And he grew up to be all whacked out of his mind. Kept rocking back and forth. Throwing around his rubber tire. Looked like that monkey in that suitcase commercial. Mmm-hmmm. What we got here is one messed-up monkey. 27


NOWHERE MAN GREZWYK:

If you ask me, here’s what that Doggy Bag Man is up to. He is afraid of death. He thinks, “If I am noticed, if I make spectacle, I am immortal.”

AMBER:

If he keeps eating that way, he’s gonna need some yoga.

MANNY:

Some people are desperate for attention. These are the ones you see at parties. You say, “I saw something interesting on the subway.” And they say, “Oh my God, I heard the funniest thing on the subway, the doors wouldn’t close, and the conductor comes on the speaker, and he says, ‘The doors are closing,’ and this old lady starts looking around and saying, ‘Who said that?’ and oh my God it was so funny.” And you say, “Yes, well, I saw something interesting on the subway.” And they say, “Oh my God, they’re doing construction at my subway stop, and now I have to walk sixteen extra blocks, it’s insane.” And you say, “Yes, well, I saw something interesting on the subway.” And they say, “Oh my God, the oldest subway tunnel in the United States is on Boston’s Green Line, built in 1897, isn’t that hilarious?” And you give up. This is called negative attention. This is what this guy is seeking. Mark my words.

GREZWYK:

In my country, we have saying. “Breschnicht dan speintle ein delving fernk. Ich deltash mertuschticht, ein deltash der nichklintell.”

GREZWYK nods significantly at the audience, as if it’s selfexplanatory. AMBER:

What if this dude’s like a serial killer? It’s always the ones who look normal who end up being the serial killers. Although eating that much dessert I guess doesn’t qualify as normal. But still. He looks like one of those nice, quiet guys. Keeps to himself. Doesn’t bother anyone. Nods to you when you pass him in the hall. Holds the elevator when you’re carrying packages. Brings your mail when it gets put in his mailbox instead of your 28


NOWHERE MAN mailbox. Stands up and offers you a seat when you get on the bus, even though he’s clearly about 80 years old, and you’ve clearly just come from yoga class, so of course you’re in much better shape and he should just keep the damn seat. Those guys always end up being serial killers. ARLENE:

You know what he says to me one day? This is the weirdest thing I ever heard. He says to me, “It’s good to get out. Sometimes I go so long without speaking to anyone, I think I might forget what my voice sounds like.” (Pauses.) Now who forgets what their voice sounds like? You know that voice that’s running through your head all day long saying, “Don’t mess with me, fool. Yeah, you better step to the side on that sidewalk, little Chinese woman. I ain’t stepping to the side. I’m taller than you.” Well, that’s your voice!

MANNY:

I spoke to him once. I said something like, “Here’s your change, my friend.” And he says, “I’m honored you would consider me a friend.” Can you believe this? I tell everyone, “Here’s your change, my friend.” I’ve probably told 300 people just today. That doesn’t mean I’m inviting 300 guests to Thanksgiving next year.

AMBER:

When I walked in, he said something to me. Do I remember what he said? No. That’s how boring this guy is. He’s like the Fred MacMurray of FortyNinth Street. You know Fred MacMurray? He was the dad on “My Three Sons.” And then all of a sudden he shows up in “Double Indemnity” and we’re supposed to find him all intriguing. Hello! You’re eating pie! Big freaking deal. No one cares. No one’s noticed. You’re a nobody.

MANNY:

He’s average height. Average weight. Average length hair. He’s reached the age where the average man has to prepare himself for his average death. And so wherever he goes, he makes trouble. He stands out. This way, in case he dies today, at least someone noticed him. 29


NOWHERE MAN ARLENE:

The guy probably likes me. That’d be just my luck.

AMBER:

He should really think about working out if he’s gonna eat like that.

MANNY:

But, long as he pays, he can be as big a pain as he wants. The customer is always right.

GREZWYK:

There is story in my country. Man walks up to farmer. Says, “I come from far away. I think I move here. What is village like?” Farmer says, “What is like where you come from?” Man says, “Wonderful. People friendly. Kids lovely. Great village.” Farmer says, “I think you find same thing here.” (Pause.) Later, different man. Says, “I think I move here. What is village like?” Farmer says, “What is like where you come from?” Man says, “Terrible. Filled with bastards. Kids stupid. Terrible place to live.” Farmer says, “I think you find same thing here.” (Nods significantly at the audience, as if it’s selfexplanatory.) You understand? I come from far away. I get here, everything just the same. Filled with bastards like this fucking guy.

Lights out. End of play.

30


PORTALS OF THE PAST By Dave Garrett

31


PORTALS OF THE PAST By Dave Garrett PORTALS OF THE PAST was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on February 20, 2006. It was directed by Barbara Oliver. The cast was as follows: Arnold Genthe.................................................... Steve Irish Harry Coleman......................................... Eric Fraisher Hayes PORTALS OF THE PAST was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of Playground (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by Barbara Oliver. The cast was as follows: Arnold Genthe.................................................. Soren Oliver Harry Coleman......................................... Eric Fraisher Hayes Dave Garrett is marking his third Emerging Playwright Award, following awards for A Pocket Full of Memories in 2002 and I Left my Heart on the 38 Geary in 2004. He is pleased to be in such outstanding company once again. Dave is a Bay Area native and has been acting, writing and teaching for the past 14 years. He is the lead instructor for the Each One Reach One organization, teaching playwriting to incarcerated youth. Dave is an alum of the San Francisco State University and University of California - Davis Drama departments.

32


PORTALS OF THE PAST By Dave Garrett Characters: ARNOLD GENTHE - 47, cultured, with a slight German accent HARRY COLEMAN - 28, working class gumption GENTHE sits in a simple chair. COLEMAN leans against a ladder. GENTHE:

I only met Harry Coleman once, in 1906, the day after the great earthquake. He was reckless, but not unskilled as a photographer.

COLEMAN:

I met Arnold Genthe once, in ’06. He was a thoughtful man and a hell of an artist with a camera.

GENTHE:

I was more— considered. I recognized photography as an emerging art form, able to elicit an emotional response from the viewer and record a moment for all time.

COLEMAN:

My job was to get the picture no one else could get— to sell newspapers.

GENTHE:

Coleman was a bit more mercenary.

Sound effect: Earthquake. COLEMAN:

It’s five seconds after the big quake stops. I catch my breath, throw my clothes on and I’m out of my hotel room like a shot. I’m sprinting down Pine Street toward my camera. It’s at the Examiner building, downtown.

GENTHE:

When the shaking stopped and the snowflakes of plaster had ceased their descent; I rose from my bed and looked out my window. Debris was scattered about like foam from an invisible wave. People in various states of disarray started to emerge from their homes, seeking safety in the middle of the street.

33


PORTALS OF THE PAST COLEMAN:

There’s men in pajamas and coats, women in their scanties with blankets thrown over their shoulders.

GENTHE:

Some laughing hysterically…

COLEMAN:

Some wailing…

GENTHE:

Some injured…

COLEMAN:

Some suffering horribly…

GENTHE:

I’m not sure how long I stood there.

COLEMAN:

I fight every instinct to stop and help people.

GENTHE:

We were all in a bit of shock, I suppose.

COLEMAN:

If I could run any faster, I would. Busted water mains have flooded some of the intersections. I have to climb over building facades that have fallen clean off, leaving giant-sized cubbyholes with people inside.

GENTHE stands on the chair. GENTHE:

I went upstairs to inspect my studio for damage.

COLEMAN:

I get to the Examiner, coughing up dust as I try and catch my breath. The building is intact, but its insides are all a jumble.

GENTHE:

My chimney had collapsed, spilling bookshelves and burying them with brick and mortar.

COLEMAN:

My camera is in the art room on the seventh floor.

GENTHE:

A small after-tremor suggested that perhaps I should get dressed, and so I did.

COLEMAN:

A sane man would turn around and leave. But Mr. Hearst doesn’t pay me to be sane.

34


PORTALS OF THE PAST GENTHE:

I decided that the most suitable “earthquake attire” would be my khaki riding things.

COLEMAN:

I rush into the building and make my way to my equipment.

COLEMAN climbs the ladder. GENTHE:

I wandered around the street for a bit, then to the house of some dear friends of mine.

COLEMAN:

The room is knee-deep in rubble, but my gear is stored in metal lockers and has survived.

GENTHE:

They had survived and were calmly sitting on the front steps.

COLEMAN:

I hoist the twenty-pound camera up and put the strap around my neck.

GENTHE:

We decided it would be a good idea to have some breakfast.

COLEMAN:

I grab as much film as I can carry, and pick my way back down to Market Street.

COLEMAN climbs down ladder. GENTHE sits in chair. GENTHE:

So we went to the St. Francis Hotel, which had not been damaged.

COLEMAN:

The crumbling buildings look like they were made of piecrust, flaked and fragile.

GENTHE:

We had a breakfast of hot coffee, fruit and pastries. When I asked for the bill, the waiter said “No charge today!”

COLEMAN:

Everywhere I point my camera there’s a newsworthy picture. Stampeding cattle shot dead in the streets, plumes of smoke rising into the sky, firefighters standing helplessly by— hydrants dry as Egypt.

35


PORTALS OF THE PAST GENTHE:

After seeing my friends home, my foremost thought was to retrieve a camera and record some of the images that I had been witnessing.

COLEMAN:

The fires South of Market start to chase me uptown, along with a steady stream of rats.

GENTHE:

I was disappointed to find that my handheld cameras had all been damaged.

COLEMAN:

All the while, I’m taking pictures of the wreckage.

GENTHE:

I made my way to George Kahn, my equipment supplier on Montgomery Street to borrow a camera. He told me to take anything I wanted. That he expected the approaching fires to destroy his store. I selected his best camera, a 3A Kodak Special, and stuffed my pockets with film.

COLEMAN:

When I notice that I’m coming to the end of my film, I start to circle back to the Examiner for additional supplies.

GENTHE:

Until that point, I hadn’t fully appreciated the extent of the damage.

COLEMAN:

Four blocks away, I’m stopped by a line of soldiers.

GENTHE:

The earth had been indiscriminate in its wrath. Rich, poor, men of all colors; we’d all been tossed into the same salad.

COLEMAN:

I show them my press badge, but they aren’t budging. Besides, they say, the Examiner building is up in flames. So are the Call and Chronicle buildings.

GENTHE:

I tried to compose images that would capture the heartbreak of it all for posterity.

36


PORTALS OF THE PAST COLEMAN:

There will be no newspapers tomorrow. I— How many have lost their lives? How will they be remembered?

GENTHE:

The stunned victims, the heroic rescuers.

COLEMAN:

The impermanence of it all. Our wonderful city.

GENTHE:

The powdered stone and twisted steel.

COLEMAN:

Destroyed in a matter of hours.

GENTHE:

The great billowing clouds of smoke. It was quite unbelievable.

COLEMAN:

A soldier snaps me out of it with his rifle butt, and yells at me to get out of harm’s way. The fires are continuing to spread and exit routes are becoming few and far between.

GENTHE:

It did not occur to me to bring my possessions to a place of safety. All afternoon I had been roaming the city and taking pictures without any thought to the danger posed to my own home.

COLEMAN:

I head back uptown to what’s left of City Hall.

GENTHE:

I chanced upon an acquaintance. He told me that my studio was about to be dynamited as part of a plan to stop the fire.

COLEMAN:

I run into one of my editors. He tells me that the Examiner, the Call and the Chronicle have arranged to make use of the Oakland Tribune’s presses. We’re combining our resources to put a joint paper out tomorrow.

GENTHE:

I hurried up Sutter Street, but was turned back by a soldier.

COLEMAN:

They’re working on getting film and developing supplies ferried over from Oakland. I know I’ll go stir-crazy with nothing to do until then, so I volunteer my services as a temporary policeman. 37


PORTALS OF THE PAST GENTHE:

I spent that night in Golden Gate Park, and was surprised by the crowd there that suggested more of a camping out than a gathering of refugees.

COLEMAN:

I spend the night gathering beds from homes near the fire lines and transporting them to a temporary hospital where they can be of use. At around 2:00 am, I finally stop to catch some shuteye.

GENTHE:

The next day, I was able to find safe haven with friends on Maple Street near the Presidio.

COLEMAN:

The next day, my editor tracks me down with my camera and a new batch of film and puts me to work.

GENTHE:

And I continued to work.

COLEMAN:

I am trying to find a high spot, where I can capture as much of the landscape as possible.

GENTHE:

Nob Hill provided the setting for many of the most famous of my photographs.

GENTHE frames a picture of the ladder. COLEMAN:

That’s where I run into Genthe.

GENTHE:

That’s where I met Harry Coleman.

COLEMAN:

Was this your home?

GENTHE:

If I’m not mistaken, this was the home of Mr. Towne.

COLEMAN:

Pretty impressive entryway. Too bad it’s all that’s left.

GENTHE:

Yes. But you see, my subject is in the distance.

COLEMAN:

Oh. I see. Using the entryway as a frame, City Hall in the background. That’s good.

38


PORTALS OF THE PAST GENTHE:

I’m waiting for a bit more light. Are you a news photographer?

COLEMAN:

With the Examiner. Harry Coleman.

GENTHE:

Pleased to meet you Mr. Coleman. Arnold Genthe.

COLEMAN:

Mr. Genthe. I admire your work.

GENTHE:

Thank you. I’ve seen your work as well.

COLEMAN:

Is your studio all right?

GENTHE:

I have a few negatives stored away, but I’m afraid I have lost everything else. Twenty years of work, gone for eternity.

COLEMAN:

Me too. I mean, the Examiner building, fwhoosh. All my stuff was up there.

GENTHE:

It is difficult to complain. So many have lost so much.

COLEMAN:

Yeah. Nothing lasts forever, I guess.

GENTHE:

So it would seem.

COLEMAN:

This, uh— It’s like a doorway to yesterday.

GENTHE:

You might say that, yes.

COLEMAN:

I wish I could get a little higher up, try to get the whole picture.

GENTHE:

It would seem that this is our best vantage point. All the tallest buildings are destroyed or surrounded by flames.

COLEMAN:

Except for City Hall.

GENTHE:

Of that, there is little left save the bare girders.

39


PORTALS OF THE PAST COLEMAN:

Yeah. Well. It’s been nice meeting you, Mr. Genthe. Good shooting.

GENTHE:

Good luck to you, Mr. Coleman.

COLEMAN:

I leave Genthe and head down the hill.

GENTHE:

I never again met Mr. Coleman.

COLEMAN:

It looks like an empty birdcage. I might just be able to do it.

GENTHE:

However, when I chose to leave San Francisco two months later—

COLEMAN:

The Chief of Police won’t grant me a permit until I sign a waiver releasing both him and the city from any responsibility.

GENTHE:

— I picked up a copy of the Examiner as I waited for my train.

COLEMAN climbs ladder. COLEMAN:

It’s a treacherous climb, eight stories to the top, probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done. But Mr. Hearst doesn’t pay me to be sane.

GENTHE:

And there was a supplement, with a magnificent photograph of the city landscape.

COLEMAN:

Two hours later, I’m sitting here, taking a picture that no one else would think to take.

GENTHE:

That picture was taken by Mr. Harry Coleman.

COLEMAN:

You only live once.

GENTHE:

From the top of City Hall.

COLEMAN:

And I gotta sell some newspapers.

End of play.

40


PORTALS OF THE PAST This play was inspired by and adapted from autobiographical narratives, recounted by Arnold Genthe in As I Remember (New York, 1937) and by Harry T. Coleman in Give Us a Smile, Baby. (E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1943; copyright renewed 1971 by Henry J. Coleman.) These and other narratives were collected in Three Fearful Days: San Francisco Memoirs of the 1906 Earthquake & Fire, compiled and introduced by Malcolm E. Barker. (Londonborn Publications, San Francisco, 1998.)

41


42


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES By Brady Lea

43


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES By Brady Lea SEWERMONSTER DIARIES was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on November 21, 2005. It was directed by William O. Selig. The cast was as follows: “Sue”............................................................... Stacy Ross Lieutenant Peter Harris..................................... Gabriel Marin Sylvia Johnson................................................ Cat Thompson Doug Johnson.................................................. Liam Vincent SEWERMONSTER DIARIES was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of Playground (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by William O. Selig. The cast was as follows: “Sue”............................................................Danielle Thys Lieutenant Peter Harris...............................Eric Fraisher Hayes Sylvia Johnson................................................ Cat Thompson Doug Johnson................................................ Douglas Giorgis Brady Lea is a playwright, performer and theatre arts educator. She is a three-time Emerging Playwrights Award winner (Remember Paris, 2002; Mushroom Boy, 2005) and the recipient of the 2006 June Anne Baker Prize. She is a graduate of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and a co-founder of the vaudeville trio The Kloons. Brady has taught physical theatre, improvisation, circus skills and clowning, and currently teaches improvisation in San Francisco. She lives in Bernal Heights with her husband David Gallagher.

44


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES By Brady Lea The Cast: “SUE” - female. A sewermonster LIEUTENANT PETER HARRIS - male, 30s or 40s SYLVIA JOHNSON - a woman, 35-50 DOUG JOHNSON - Sylvia’s husband. 35-50 The Scene: The stage is fairly blank. There should be an area where “SUE”, a scaly, lizardlike, shapeshifting beast who appears as a woman in simple non-glamorous attire, sits, writing in her diary, another area that indicates the Johnsons’ bathroom, and their shower in particular, and room left open to play out other scenes. SYLVIA, an overly well-groomed woman, is in the shower. SYLVIA:

(Calling out.) Honey? Honey, could you grab me a towel? They’re in the dryer.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, This evening I crept up the drainpipe of Sylvia Johnson’s shower, and as she rinsed off her rosemary tea tree shower gel, I extended one claw up into her shower and skewered her big toe. SYLVIA reacts as if her foot has been attacked.

SYLVIA:

Aiiiieeeieieieiieieieieieieeeeeeeeee.

“SUE”:

The amount of blood was impressive.

SYLVIA:

HONEY! Help! Oh my god, I’m bleeding. Help! Help!

“SUE”:

And she reacted just how I expected. DOUG JOHNSON, a country-clubbish marketing-exec type, rushes to his wife with a towel.

DOUG:

Sweetheart, what is it… Oh my god!

“SUE”:

I know I swore I’d stay away from my old block, but I couldn’t help myself. I found myself 45


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES obsessing about how she’d always put a traffic cone in the parking space in front of her house, because her gold Expedition didn’t fit through their garage door. DOUG wraps SYLVIA in a towel and ushers her away, sobbing. SYLVIA:

(As she exits.) Why me? Why, Doug, why? “SUE” starts a new entry.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, This morning I hit the girls’ locker room at Washington High. Freshman gym class had just ended and I went down the row of showers and just poked a pinky claw up through the drains, one at a time. From offstage we hear three sequential girly screams.

“SUE”:

I barely drew any blood but the screaming was satisfying. LIEUTENANT PETER HARRIS, hunky in a borderline-annoying way, enters, and writes in his police log.

LT. HARRIS:

Police Log: November third. Two “sewermonster” incidents in the last three days. The Examiner is running items daily, and hounding me and my squad for action. And quotes. Feel it would be a real boost to my squad if we could just nail him … IT… this week. I’m confident I’m getting close.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, UGH! They called me “him” again. So annoying. And I had to find this out after a perfectly pleasant morning of popping off people’s toenails with my one pointiest claw while they showered. I saw half of today’s paper wedged through the sewer grate on Third and Market, and I just had to look, didn’t I? This makes me want to… I don’t know what. I’ll think of something. SYLVIA screams bloodcurdlingly. 46


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES SYLVIA:

Doug!! Doug, help!!

DOUG:

Not again!

LT. HARRIS:

Police Log: November Seventh. A nightmare week. Not only am I being hounded by the press… well, the Examiner… I’m fielding calls daily from victims.

SYLVIA enters and speaks on the phone. SYLVIA:

… and another thing, Lieutenant Harris, I am not satisfied with the level of community policing. And, clearly I am being targeted by this beast. He attacks me repeatedly, and your department…

LT. HARRIS:

Mrs. Johnson, believe me, we’re doing everything we can…

SYLVIA:

Clearly that’s not enough.

LT. HARRIS:

I’ve got all my officers pulling double overtime here, I understand your fears, but…

SYLVIA:

Oh, you understand, do you? Do you realize what this is doing to me?

LT. HARRIS:

Of course, Mrs. Johnson, it’s terrible, and there have been plenty others, but…

SYLVIA:

My book club refuses to meet at my house! I am becoming a social pariah!

LT. HARRIS:

Like I said, we’ve got a lot of leads… we’re really close…

Their phone conversation fades as “SUE” continues her diary. “SUE”:

Dear Diary, I’m feeling a little blue. Like, what’s the point. For example, last night I’m wandering around the sewers when I smell a little dishwater, so I follow that scent up the pipes until I get to the drain of the kitchen sink. I reach 47


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES up and barely puncture the very tip of this guy’s index finger. Just enough so he’d think maybe he grabbed a shard of broken glass. And I just felt, I don’t know. Empty? I’ve already hit everybody in HR at my old company, and I scared the crap out of that nasty kid on my old block. The one who threw a beer bottle at my front window when I suggested that instead of honking for a half hour to get his girlfriend’s attention, he ring the damn doorbell. And I’ve been checking the papers whenever I can pull a piece of one down here and I haven’t seen anything about myself for weeks. What’s going on? LT. HARRIS:

Police Log: December Fifteenth. Three weeks since I enacted Operation Maximum Sewermonster Destruction, and not a single reported attack since. You’ve got to hand it to yourself, Peter Harris, you’ve really done it this time.

DOUG JOHNSON storms in to LT. HARRIS with a newspaper. DOUG:

Lieutenant!

LT. HARRIS:

I’m sorry, do you have an appointment…?

DOUG:

I’m agog. I’m aghast. Lieutenant, I am appalled. (He shoves the newspaper in LT. HARRIS’s face.) This is you on the front page, isn’t it? Accepting honors from the mayor for eradicating the “Sewermonster Situation.”

LT. HARRIS:

Why yes! Thank yo…

For an instant, LT. HARRIS prepares to sign an autograph. DOUG:

I am not congratulating you, Lieutenant. Look at this. DOUG rips off his shoe and sock and waves his foot at LT. HARRIS.

LT. HARRIS:

(Starting to call outside his “office” for help.) Could I get an officer in here… 48


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES DOUG:

This morning, Lieutenant. This happened today! And I’m not the only one… My wife… I’m sure you know my wife…

LT. HARRIS:

(Quietly realizing) Oh… yes… I think I do.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, Finally! A little satisfaction and joy returns to my life. That idiot police Lieutenant’s overly square-jawed mug was on the front of the paper boasting about how he Made The City Safe for bathers, dishwashers and “other users of the sewage system.” And when I had to choose toenails to pop off, I couldn’t help but head back to my good old neighbors’ house. And as I waited around for their evening bath, I remembered the night I saw every single person on our block but me sitting on folding chairs in Doug and Sylvia’s garage. Back when I lived… you know… up there. I poked my head in and said, “Hi.” SYLVIA speaks for herself in the Diary entry, and “SUE” responds directly to her.

SYLVIA:

Oh, excuse us… we’re starting a neighborhood watch group and the meeting is scheduled to start now. If you need to talk to us, maybe you can leave a note in our mailbox?

“SUE”:

Oh… I’d be happy to stay for the meeting…

SYLVIA:

Oh, sweetheart, I’m sorry. It’s a neighborhood watch meeting for homeowners. It’s not for renters. “SUE” continues her diary entry.

“SUE”:

The way she said the word renters. Like I was vermin. Huh. (She pauses.) Vermin. Ha. That’s kind of funny now, I guess.

LT. HARRIS:

Police Log: December 20th. Humiliation for my squad. Immediately after receiving a commendation from the mayor, the attacks started again. Well, I’m not so sure it’s actually a “Sewer49


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES monster”, or the sewermonster. Maybe just large rodents? Or, maybe… a copycat crime? And now I’ve got this watchdog group, SMVA— the SewerMonster Victims Association, breathing down my throat constantly. SYLVIA and DOUG address imaginary passers-by on a street corner, or perhaps, the audience. DOUG:

Hi… Doug Johnson, SewerMonster Victims Association… please take a look at our literature.

SYLVIA:

Yes, right, we’re raising funds.

DOUG:

We’ve got a hundred and fifty thousand in city funds pledged…

SYLVIA:

But we need your support.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, Goddamn Johnsons.

DOUG:

With your help, we can stop him.

SYLVIA:

Please… won’t you just help me reclaim my life?

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I’ve been down here full time. I mean, yeah, the last month or so has dragged a bit but I remember that first night like it was yesterday. I came home exhausted after a dinner with my friend Susan and her New! Boyfriend! It was hard to take how chipper she was, and maybe that last martini wasn’t the greatest idea. And this guy called her “my sweetie” all night long. To the valet parker guy, “Can you get My Sweetie’s car?” and the coat check guy, “My Sweetie has a red wool cape.” And on and on. It could have been sweet, but… it just felt creepy. Anyway, I got home, and reached for my toothbrush, and grabbed a razor that was sticking out of the same cup in my bathroom. A razor. Shit. My ex’s, and he hadn’t lived with me for a year. Okay, I could have been a little better about cleaning things out when he left. As I watched the blood drip 50


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES into my nice white bathroom sink… okay, who am I kidding? As I watched the blood drip into my toothpaste-encrusted grimy bathroom sink, I thought: What if I just followed? All of me. One drop at a time. And you know? I really like it here. I don’t think I’ll ever live up there again. SYLVIA and DOUG conduct a meeting. DOUG:

Thank you all so much for coming.

SYLVIA:

And thank you for your generous contributions.

DOUG:

I’ve been able to take a leave of absence from my job to run the SMVA full time.

SYLVIA:

So thank you all so much for making sure Doug keeps his six-figure salary!

DOUG:

The police department in this city has let us down.

SYLVIA:

That’s right. And we need accountability.

LT. HARRIS:

Police Log: February Second. Goddamn Johnsons. This darn victim’s group is killing my squad. They’ve got a newspaper column giving bi-weekly reports. They’ve got a letter-writing campaign— we get at least a hundred irate emails a day. I’m starting to think this… thing… whatever it is… it’s not after the Johnsons, and it’s not after the HR department at Patterson Richards. It’s after me. (He’s defeated, but finds new resolve.) But you know what? I am personally going to Take! Him! Down! And you can quote me on that. And to celebrate the start of our new mission, I’m taking the entire squad out to Smitty’s as soon as our shift is over.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, Oh, what a fool I was last night. I spent the day yesterday under the men’s room down at the police station, and— decided I could 51


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES take a few hours vacation from the sewers. I wanted to see if I went back out there if I’d look like my old self. I did, turns out. I checked myself out in a store window after I slunk up through a sewer grate. And you know, I wasn’t half the wreck I remembered. Anyway… I just wanted to go out. And… get a look at him. Lieutenant Whatshisname. “SUE” turns and runs straight into LT. HARRIS—at Smitty’s Bar. LT. HARRIS:

Oh, I’m sorry.

“SUE”:

No, excuse me… She looks up at him, and realizes he’s actually hunky. He, likewise, realizes he’s run into a fairly attractive woman, and becomes a little cheesier.

LT. HARRIS:

No, really, it was all my fault… and, my pleasure.

“SUE”:

(Addressing the audience/writing in diary.) Oh please.

LT. HARRIS:

Can I buy you a drink?

“SUE”:

This bonehead is actually offering to buy me a drink. Could I really pass up an opportunity to figure out what makes the Lieutenant tick? (She addresses him. She’s actually nervous when speaking to him.) I… okay. Yes, sure. I’ll have a martini.

LT. HARRIS:

Gin, I’m sure.

“SUE”:

(To Diary/Audience.) What an idiot. (To him.) Tee hee… uh… yeah. Gin. (To Diary/Audience) Oh god. I was the idiot. Anyway, he bought me a drink… and then another. And I guess in my year of sewage only, I’ve become a bit of a lightweight. I could barely keep my eyes open.

52


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES LT. HARRIS:

… and you know, I’m actually the lead investigator on the Sewermonster case. I’m sure you’ve read about it.

“SUE”:

(Barely propping up her chin) Ummm. Hmmm. Yeah.

LT. HARRIS:

I’ve come up with a whole new strategy. It’s going to be a great week for me I can tell. Maybe next week you’ll meet me back here and we’ll celebrate my victory over the insidious beast! I will bring him down!

“SUE”:

(Diary/Audience) And like that. All night. On and on. I couldn’t believe it. Okay… he… wasn’t bad to look at. (She takes a long look at him.) And I guess if I just imagined he was saying other things…

LT. HARRIS:

(Imaginarily saying other things.) You are so smart. You are so adorable. Please, Miss. Make me a better person. Teach me to be like you…

“SUE”:

I started to think I could face a few more days on earth as a human, but this chatter… well, I couldn’t take it. I straightened myself up… (She does.) and walked right out of the bar… and right smack into… SYLVIA and DOUG are picketing for the SMVA.

SYLVIA:

Lt. Harris drinks beer while victims suffer!

DOUG:

Stop the suffering!

“SUE”:

Oh no.

SYLVIA:

Jennifer?

“SUE”:

I’m sorry, you must be mistaking…

DOUG:

Jenny! Jenny Jen Jen! Where’ve you been! Your landlord just had all your belongings carted to the dump! 53


SEWERMONSTER DIARIES SYLVIA:

We guessed you were dead!

DOUG:

HaHaHa! They laugh together. All lights fade except for a special on “SUE”.

“SUE”:

Dear Diary, I’m back. I’m not sorry I made the trip up there, I guess. I could almost imagine a life up there that was bearable. I think— well, maybe someday I will go back. It’s not so bad there. At least nobody calls me “him” when they see me in person. I’m not ready to go back just yet, though. As it turns out… I’ve got some more work to do. Lights fade out as:

SYLVIA:

Aaaiiieiieieieiieieieiieieieieeeeeeeeee End of play.

54


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN Aテ前 NUEVO By Ross Peter Nelson

55


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO By Ross Peter Nelson SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on March 20, 2006. It was directed by James A. Kleinmann. The cast was as follows: Mortimer.........................................................Jordan Lund Eddie....................................................Anthony Nemirovsky Al......................................................... Eric Fraisher Hayes SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of PlayGround (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by Lee Sankowich. The cast was as follows: Mortimer........................................................ Soren Oliver Eddie..........................................................Douglas Giorgis Al......................................................... Eric Fraisher Hayes Ross Peter Nelson is a playwright, software engineer, and the author of two non-fiction books. He has studied fiction and poetry at Foothill College and playwriting at Stanford University. He is a three-season alumnus of PlayGround, and in addition to four performances there, his work has been seen at Actors’ Theatre of Santa Cruz and the Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View. Most recently, his one-act “In The End” appeared at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco as part of BOA 2006, produced by Three Wise Monkeys.

56


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO By Ross Peter Nelson Characters: MORTIMER - a 12-year-old elephant seal. The alpha male EDDIE - a 6-year-old male elephant seal AL - a 7-year-old male elephant seal Setting: Año Nuevo State Park, California. Time: Now. EDDIE and AL are standing on the beach, dressed as typical twenty-something (human) males. EDDIE:

Al. Check this one out.

AL:

Where?

EDDIE:

Two o’clock.

AL:

Oh my goodness.

EDDIE:

You think she’s…

AL:

Experienced?

EDDIE:

Yeah.

AL:

You think?

EDDIE:

What do you think?

AL:

Written all over her.

EDDIE:

Yeah.

AL:

She knows the moves.

EDDIE:

The motion.

AL:

She probably invented the motion.

EDDIE:

Sixteen hundred? 57


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO AL:

No way.

EDDIE:

No.

AL:

Eighteen hundred if she’s an ounce.

EDDIE:

Baby got back.

AL:

She does. Course, I’m more of a flipper man, myself. MORTIMER saunters by.

MORTIMER:

Hey. What are you punks doing?

AL:

It’s a free country.

MORTIMER:

Not around here it ain’t. Get the fuck off my sand. Go back to one of the loser beaches where you belong.

EDDIE:

If this is your beach, it must be a loser beach. Loser.

MORTIMER:

Listen to the punk. You call yourself an elephant seal? What a laugh. I’ve got wives bigger than you. Hell, I’ve stomped weaners bigger than you.

EDDIE:

I’ll rip your throat open.

AL:

Cool down, Eddie. Let’s take a walk. MORTIMER follows EDDIE and AL offstage. MORTIMER patrols the beach for a while and exits. EDDIE and AL return.

AL:

Bastard.

EDDIE:

He’s got it made, though, doesn’t he? The girls.

AL:

The pool.

EDDIE:

The private beach.

58


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO AL:

The whole nine yards. The life of an alpha male.

EDDIE:

I hate this beta shit.

AL:

Beta. Gamma. Delta. We’re low on the totem pole.

EDDIE:

Did you see the size of his… thing?

AL:

Proboscis.

EDDIE:

Must have been two feet long.

AL:

Schnoz.

EDDIE:

Look at me.

AL:

Schozzle. Schnozzola.

EDDIE:

Well?

AL:

Fourteen inches, at the very least. Fifteen maybe.

EDDIE:

Fourteen?

AL:

Fifteen. For sure.

EDDIE:

Is that all?

AL:

Gotta be patient.

EDDIE:

Patient? I’m dying, Al. Every morning for the last two years I’ve woken up so horny I just want to scream. I’ll screw anything. Anything. EDDIE drops to his knees and lunges at AL's leg and wraps his arms around it.

AL:

Easy, Eddie.

EDDIE:

Sorry.

AL:

Pity about the flippers. 59


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO EDDIE:

What?

AL:

If we had hands, at least we could masturbate.

EDDIE:

So it gets to you, too?

AL:

The urge to merge.

EDDIE:

The need for the deed.

AL:

Yeah.

EDDIE:

What do you do about it?

AL:

Eat.

EDDIE:

Eat?

AL:

Eat.

EDDIE:

You mean sublimate.

AL:

No, Eddie. We’re talking bulk.

EDDIE:

Bulk.

AL:

Body weight. Mortimer?

EDDIE:

Yeah?

AL:

Six thousand pounds.

EDDIE:

No way.

AL:

Your teeth may be sharp, but we’re like matchsticks to him. Gotta bulk up.

EDDIE:

But what… about… the girls?

AL:

Give it a rest, Eddie. At six years old, odds are you won’t get to mate for at least four more years.

60


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO EDDIE:

Four years? I’ll die, Al. From pure frustration. I’m not gonna make it.

AL:

Ever play chess?

EDDIE:

Me?

AL:

Checkers then.

EDDIE:

Sure.

AL:

Somebody wins, somebody loses, right?

EDDIE:

Right.

AL:

Same with sex. One female. Who gets her?

EDDIE:

The biggest…

AL:

baddest…

EDDIE:

meanest…

AL:

motherfucker out there.

EDDIE:

Four years.

AL:

Unless. You change the rules.

EDDIE:

What?

AL:

Three card monte. One winner. One loser. Just like checkers. Except.

EDDIE:

Except.

AL:

You run a con.

EDDIE:

A scam?

AL:

A strategy. If you’re gonna evolve, you gotta have a strategy.

EDDIE:

I thought we were intelligently designed. 61


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO AL:

Eddie. We’re built like three-thousand-pound slugs. We’ve got noses two feet long. Our mothers abandon us when we’re barely a month old. Our fathers try to trample us to death. We have to learn how to swim all by ourselves, in an ocean that’s crawling with great white sharks.

EDDIE:

All that and we got no hands. So what’s the con?

AL:

What did he say?

EDDIE:

Mortimer?

AL:

I’ve got wives bigger than you.

EDDIE:

So?

AL:

I say we go with it.

EDDIE:

It. AL runs off stage and returns with two bras or bikini tops. He hands one to EDDIE and puts the other on.

EDDIE:

What’s this?

AL:

We fake like we’re girls. You go flirt with Mortimer. Keep him occupied. I’ll slip into the harem like I’m one of the wives and have myself a good time. Then we swap.

EDDIE:

I don’t know, Al.

AL:

You wanna get laid? Put it on. EDDIE puts on the top.

EDDIE:

How do I look?

AL:

Perfect. Just like Tony Curtis. There’s only one problem.

EDDIE:

Uh-oh.

62


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO AL:

The old proboscis.

EDDIE:

The schnoz.

AL:

At four hundred yards you’d be safe, but up close those fourteen inches are going to stand out.

EDDIE:

Fifteen.

AL:

Here, use this. AL pulls a hand fan from his back pocket and hands it to EDDIE.

EDDIE:

I can’t do it, Al. I wouldn’t know what to say.

AL:

Four years, Eddie. I’ll tell you what. I’ll take Mortimer and give you first crack at the harem.

EDDIE:

Really? You’d do that for me?

AL:

Sure thing, kid. What are friends for? EDDIE passes the fan to AL. They exit. MORTIMER saunters on stage and looks around. A little later, AL enters, fluttering "her" eyes behind the fan to attract MORTIMER's attention, but evading him later when he gets too interested.

MORTIMER:

Hey, sister. Do I know you?

AL:

I’m new here. You know where a girl can get some decent calamari?

MORTIMER:

You don’t want calamari.

AL:

I don’t?

MORTIMER:

You want six thousand pounds of bull elephant. Let’s do it in sand, baby.

AL:

What, no foreplay?

63


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO MORTIMER:

You’re good sized, too. I like a girl with some meat on her bones.

AL:

It’s probably just water retention. I’m a little bloated this time of month.

MORTIMER:

You women. Always playing hard to get.

AL:

Well, maybe you could do something to impress me.

MORTIMER:

Ain’t I impressive enough just to look at?

AL:

I mean, how do I know you could defend me?

MORTIMER:

What are you talking about? Nobody touches Mortimer’s dames.

AL:

Well, either there’s some hot girl-on-girl action going down in the harem or you’ve got an uninvited guest.

MORTIMER:

What the fuck? It’s that little beta puke. He’s going to pay for this.

MORTIMER runs off. AL watches the spectacle unfold, wincing in sympathy from time to time. AL:

Oof… Oh… Oh, man… Oh, Eddie. MORTIMER returns bleeding, disheveled and panting. He drags EDDIE's body in with him and drops it at AL's feet.

MORTIMER:

What do you think of that, babe? Can I defend my harem, or what?

AL:

You were magnificent. That was so… so… alpha of you.

MORTIMER:

That runt’s not going to bother me again. Man, those little punks wear me out. I thought he’d run, but he went for my throat.

64


SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO AL:

He bit you! Your neck, it’s bleeding. Let me take care of it.

MORTIMER:

Ow. Don’t touch me. I’ll be OK. I just need to rest up.

AL:

Maybe when you’re feeling better you could wander down to the harem. You might even find me there.

MORTIMER:

You go find a primo spot. I’ll bone you when my neck heals up.

AL:

I’ll be waiting, big guy. MORTIMER staggers off.

AL:

It was nothing personal, Eddie. You just have to pick the right strategy for the game. AL tosses the fan away, slicks back his hair and struts down to the harem. End of play.

65


66


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE By Molly Rhodes

67


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE By Molly Rhodes THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on March 20, 2006. It was directed by James A. Kleinmann. The cast was as follows: Janice........................................................... Kelly Ground Dr. Falon...................................................... Michele Leavy THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of PlayGround (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by Virginia E. Reed. The cast was as follows: Janice.............................................................. Mary Baird Dr. Falon...................................................... Ellen Scarpaci Molly Rhodes is marking her second season in the PlayGround writers pool and her first in Best of PlayGround. When she’s not working on numerous play ideas, Molly can be found raising money to help San Francisco’s street youth or producing a variety of Magic Theatre playwriting development festivals. Molly’s playwriting has become all the better through the quiet companionship of Sigmund, and the passion for theatre, sharp insights, and love of James.

68


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE By Molly Rhodes Characters: JANICE - female, late 40s/early 50s, any race DR. FALON - female, late 30s/early 40s, any race JANICE sits in DR. FALON’s office, in a chair next to the doctor’s table, a table with wheels. DR. FALON enters. DR. FALON acknowledges JANICE and then heads for her desk to wipe down and prepare her hands. JANICE:

Oh, Dr. Falon, I’m so sorry I was late, the scene at the supermarket, you would not believe— but it was so nice of you to adjust your schedule for me, yet again. I know, you said the tests shouldn’t wait, and I really meant to make last week’s appointment, but if you knew what that week was like, my kids are just— all the things they have been doing, it’s incredible. DR. FALON gestures for JANICE to sit on the table. DR. FALON smoothly rolls up JANICE’s sleeve.

JANICE:

I actually have to leave in half an hour, today is Janey’s championship, she has been practicing so hard— I’m sure all the girls practice hard, but my Janey, if you saw her out there, you would just know, she is a natural. DR. FALON takes JANICE’s wrist, checks her pulse.

JANICE:

I know, I’ve been running all over— Tuesdays are practice for Janey and theatre rehearsal for Jess, not to mention that extra hour of piano when the recitals are coming up. Insane, right? But my kids deserve it. DR. FALON writes down the results of the pulse check on her clipboard, and fetches her blood pressure device.

JANICE:

Just the thought of them wasting their gifts— I mean, my Janey— I’m not an expert, but I know when someone has talent, real, undeniable 69


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE talent, and she has it. Not like my middle one. Well, no— I know, no mother should say that— of course Jake has talent, but I agree with his coach, he just doesn’t know how to apply himself. Or doesn’t want to, not that you heard that from me. DR. FALON rolls up JANICE’s shirt sleeve higher. DR. FALON wraps the blood pressure cuff around JANICE’s arm and squeezes the ball. JANICE:

Always an excuse, that one, and I tell him, one day, there will be no more excuses, and what are you going to do then? Are you going to come running to me? Because as much as I love you— and I do love Jake, of course, I love all of them, I can’t help myself— but as much as I love you I won’t be able to help. No one will. DR. FALON writes down the blood pressure results on her clipboard.

JANICE:

And of course Jake just rolls his eyes— you know, a way to be tough— and I say, Jake, you don’t have to be tough with me. I know you. I know how sweet you are. DR. FALON points a light into JANICE’s ears. Then she writes down something more on her clipboard.

JANICE:

I remember— oh, he would hate to have me tell you this— I remember when his pet hamster Choco died— I know, isn’t that just the funniest name?— when he died and Jake would not stop crying. And the only way to calm him down was this silly story his father insisted on making up about how Choco wasn’t dead, he had only come for a visit anyway and now he had to return to some far off land where he was king. DR. FALON gestures for JANICE to cover one eye. JANICE does and DR. FALON shines the light into the other eye.

70


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE JANICE:

The story was really a bit, you know— I don’t want my kids to grow up dumb— but you should have seen Jake, how his eyes lit up, like this was the answer to everything. And I am watching my child perform this elaborate ceremony for his hamster— I mean, he and his father made a crown, you know, because he’s this king— I feel so silly telling this to you— and I realized Jake should be the one in theatre. DR. FALON indicates for JANICE to cover the other eye. DR. FALON shines a light into the uncovered eye, then writes something down on her clipboard.

JANICE:

He’s the one with the real imagination. Not Jess. Jess is, well— Jess is good at dramatics, Oh yes. You remember, two years ago, the fake flu case. Couldn’t go camping with the rest of the family. She even had you fooled. And then, what a surprise, we come home to find her and that boy from next door. DR. FALON puts her hand to JANICE’s forehead for a moment. Then she writes something down on her clipboard.

JANICE:

Always lots of dramatics with that one. And always lots of boys. The latest one, it won’t last long. Well, I shouldn’t say that— if she heard me say that she would go “mo-om!” you know, that way that teenagers do, “mo-om!” DR. FALON feels around JANICE’s neck and glands.

JANICE:

But last week, right before my appointment here, she was late for theatre rehearsal, waiting to be picked up by her boyfriend— this guy she’s seeing really, he doesn’t seem to take it seriously enough to call him her boyfriend, but that’s the word she uses, so, who am I— and he called— no, didn’t even call, sent one of those texts— and said he had this thing and she should take the bus. I mean, “the bus.”

71


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE DR. FALON feels further down JANICE’s neck, to her chest. JANICE:

So Jess is near tears, I mean, who wouldn’t be, and I thought, well, what’s more important than my kids? So of course I drove her to the theatre, and we had this heart to heart— well, she cried and I cried and I felt that was real progress. You know, because they might not want to say it, they might only say “mo-om!”— though Jake doesn’t really like to say anything— but whatever they say, it might not be exactly what they mean, but I know. DR. FALON takes out her stethoscope to listen more closely to JANICE’s chest.

JANICE:

Deep breaths, right? Deep breaths. Just like I told Janey last month, when she had that fall— no, I don’t say fall, I say slip. I mean, yes, the judges noticed, but I told her, that’s what judges do, they notice, they are “judgmental people.” But those people in the crowd, those people who are cheering her on, they know what a wonderful person she is, because she radiates it, she really does. DR. FALON gestures for JANICE to take off her blouse. JANICE does.

JANICE:

She might not be as pretty as Jess or have as many friends as Jake, but she is just as lovely inside and people can see that when she performs. I’ve had other parents come up to me after the meets— parents who don’t even know me, they just know I’m Janey’s mother, they see the sweater, Janey’s mother— no, I’m kidding, it’s just a button— they see the button and they come up to me, and they say, I wish my daughter was as powerful as yours. As powerful? How many 14-year-olds get called powerful? DR. FALON puts a stethoscope to JANICE’s back.

72


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE JANICE:

Not that many, I tell her, not that many at all. Not just teenagers, all of us. Were the people in that supermarket today calling me powerful when I fell— oh, sorry, slipped— were they calling me powerful then? No, they weren’t. I plan to tell her that as soon as I get home. DR. FALON indicates for JANICE to stand up and remove her shoes and skirt. JANICE does. JANICE is left in a fulllength slip.

JANICE:

I even considered going straight home myself— really capitalize on this moment to show her, see? your mom gets it— but your receptionist was so stern this morning, all those scheduled tests she keeps having to reschedule. I know, you don’t even have to give me the look, I know, those couple episodes I had last fall, my family history, all that stuff you doctors keep going on about— but with all the things my kids are into, my days are just as crazy as they come. You should be impressed I found the time to come in at all. DR. FALON lets JANICE’s hair down. DR. FALON produces a hairbrush and starts brushing JANICE’s hair, with long, slow, loving strokes.

JANICE:

Aside from Tuesdays, Wednesdays are just impossible, every other Thursdays are family night— when we’re together just “being” together — and Friday nights we’re off for our weekends at the cabin. Oh, that reminds me, I know your receptionist said you should have the results by Friday, but I was thinking we would leave early for the cabin, so I can get them next week. It’s Jake’s birthday this weekend— 16, can you believe it? Where does the time go?— and I wanted to do something special for him. DR. FALON produces a brightly-colored regal robe. It should glitter and twinkle, if possible. DR. FALON envelops JANICE in the robe. DR. FALON takes her time.

73


THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE JANICE:

I bought him the most wonderful surprise, at the supermarket— I know, I probably should have waited until after, but I thought I’d just run in and pick up dinner for the kids and there were these Spiderman cakes, no, really, red and blue cakes with this black web of frosting, right in the bakery section. And I remembered how much Jake loved Spiderman when he was little, the movie, the costumes, the bedspread and everything, and I thought, well, in honor of him growing older, I would get him one. I know, I know, he’s not a kid anymore, but sometimes, it’s nice to let our kids know that we do think of them, even if they don’t think we do. DR. FALON helps JANICE onto the bed, so JANICE is upright. DR. FALON adjusts JANICE’s dress and bed so everything is perfect for her.

JANICE:

I mean, when I fell— no, never fall, slipped— right there, in front of the Spiderman cakes— god, you should have seen the mess I made, everything crashing down around me— and those people, crowding in, asking me questions— was I okay, did I want them to call an ambulance or call someone at home— oh, Jake is probably home. I have to hide the Spiderman cake. Yes. Huh. What did I do with that cake? DR. FALON produces a homemade paper crown and places it on JANICE’s head.

JANICE:

Isn’t that funny. I can’t remember buying the thing. But it was there, in my hands, I’m sure of it. I remember thinking of my kids. Picturing the expression that will be on Jake’s face when he sees the Spiderman cake, that look that will say to me— even if Jake would never say it, too cool to say it— that look of, I know how much you give me, mo-om, I know how much you love me. Those are the looks every mother lives for. The look that makes all my years of slaving away worth it.

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THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE DR. FALON, with one hand on JANICE and one hand on the bed, wheels JANICE towards the front of the stage, leading her off. JANICE:

Not that I have any doubts. No true mother does. If you’re not willing to give everything, well, I know this might sound a little harsh to other mothers who try to, you know, have their own life, to focus on themselves a little more, but it really won’t work that way. There is only so much in the end, and if you start hoarding it for yourself, what happens to your kids, huh? What will happen to them? As DR. FALON and JANICE reach the edge of the stage, there is a bright light from where they are heading.

JANICE:

But listen to me go on. Let’s take those tests, shall we? End of play.

75


76


THREE, UM, SISTERS By Geetha Reddy

77


THREE, UM, SISTERS By Geetha Reddy THREE, UM, SISTERS was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on December 19, 2005. It was directed by Nancy Carlin. The cast was as follows: Lee............................................................. Cat Thompson Ally............................................................. Jessa Berkner Random Girl................................................... Carolyn Doyle Random Guy................................................... Gabriel Marin THREE, UM, SISTERS was premiered by PlayGround at the 10th Annual Best of PlayGround (2006) festival on May 11, 2006. It was directed by Nancy Carlin. The cast was as follows: Lee............................................................. Cat Thompson Ally............................................................. Ellen Scarpaci Random Girl................................................... Danielle Thys Random Guy................................................. Douglas Giorgis Geetha Reddy is a playwright living and working in Burlingame, California. She is a three-time recipient of PlayGround’s Emerging Playwright Award and was awarded PlayGround’s June Anne Baker Prize in 2005. Her play Honey, I’m Home was showcased at the inaugural San Francisco Theater Festival. Recently her plays were part of the Santa Rosa Actors Theatre “Quickies” festival and the Best of San Francisco Fringe show “Three Plays About Your Mother.” She is also a member of the writing group Rumpus.

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THREE, UM, SISTERS By Geetha Reddy Characters: LEE - young woman, skinny ALLY - her sister, regular RANDOM GIRL - not skinny RANDOM GUY LEE, and ALLY at a dining table. There are snacks on the table—cookies, apples, bottled water. RANDOM GIRL, holding a small Starbucks cup is separate from the action. During the first half of the play RANDOM GIRL is a player in LEE’s anecdote. LEE and ALLY watch her like a TV show. RANDOM GIRL:

Can I? Do you mind? I just have to ask, how do you do it? Stay sooo thin?

LEE and ALLY return to their conversation in present time. ALLY:

Na-uh!

LEE:

Ya-huh!

ALLY:

She did not say that!?

LEE:

She did!

ALLY:

At Starbucks? Some random girl just comes up and—

LEE:

Yes!

ALLY:

That is so weird.

LEE:

Yeah! No kidding.

ALLY:

So what…

LEE:

So what was I supposed to say? I was all like “excuuuse me?”

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THREE, UM, SISTERS ALLY:

Yeah?

LEE:

So then she’s all:

RANDOM GIRL:

It’s just that you’re so thin and, um, beautiful and—

ALLY:

Aw— well that’s nice— that must have made you feel good—

LEE:

I guess—

RANDOM GIRL:

and I just have been trying to lose some weight. And I just thought if I just asked you and you told me I would do what you do and then maybe I would know, you know, know the secret—

ALLY:

So wait. She’s overweight? Right?

LEE:

Well… She was— a little… (Gesturing roundness.) Like she was drinking this huge Venti Mocha Frappucino— RANDOM GIRL looks at her small cup confused.

ALLY:

Oh… ew.

LEE:

I know it is like 530 Calories! And then she is like— why am I so fat?!

ALLY:

530! Are you sure?

LEE:

Yeah— 18 grams of fat. 84 carbs.

ALLY:

18! Yeesh! Who knew? 84 carbs… ALLY picks up an apple and starts cutting it into small pieces.

LEE:

SO there she is with her sugar fat bomb saying:

RANDOM GIRL:

Not the secret, but you know what I mean, your routine. I’ll do what you do and then I’ll be like— ’Cause I mean I’m exercising and eating salads 80


THREE, UM, SISTERS and taking vitamins and drinking water and having lots of sex. ALLY:

Lots of sex?

RANDOM GIRL:

Oh yeah. Did you see that Oprah— where she was, like, if you have more sex you’ll lose, like, a ton of weight?

ALLY:

She did?

LEE:

(To RANDOM GIRL.) Yeah… I saw that show too. (To ALLY.) Some guest had sex twice a day to lose weight.

ALLY:

Good for her!

RANDOM GIRL:

I know! Isn’t it so great? Finally a valid excuse for casual sex!

ALLY:

Hee! Do you want some of this? (Offering some apple. LEE gestures a refusal.) So what did you say to all of that?

LEE:

Well, you know, I told her it wasn’t her fault and that I just have a good metabolism.

ALLY:

Did you tell her—

LEE:

I told her. I told her! You have to eat six small meals and exercise moderately and give into your cravings sometimes. And just stick with it.

ALLY:

See, there! Good for you!

LEE:

I know!

ALLY:

(Pushing the cookies forward.) Here— I’m hogging these.

LEE:

(Pushing the cookies away.) What? What did she expect me to tell her? That she was a fat disgusting—

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THREE, UM, SISTERS ALLY:

I thought you said that she was only a little—

LEE:

She wasn’t. She was hideous! She was enormous. RANDOM GIRL starts to examine her body, as if looking in a mirror. She becomes increasingly discouraged by what she sees. She filled the room. She wasn’t an apple or a pear she was just a huge, huge… elephant. A pregnant elephant. But soft, like a marshmallow peep. I mean, her stomach! It— It— It— hung over her pants like soft-serve ice cream. What should I tell her? God! That she has so many fat cells that even if she did lose weight any time she ate a spoonful of ice cream she would expand like— like— like— like—

ALLY:

Lee!

LEE:

Like a fat pig! All. Over. Again.

ALLY:

Wow. She really really upset you.

LEE:

Well, she did. You don’t know…

ALLY:

I’m sorry. Have a cookie, you’ll feel better. It’s no big deal.

LEE:

Because, because you don’t know, then she said— that she lived across the street—

RANDOM GIRL:

Across the alley off Hillside— I’m just saying that I’ve never seen you eat anything.

LEE:

What? Are you watching me?

RANDOM GIRL:

No. Yes. Look. You don’t eat. Not even when, like, when you are watching TV.

LEE:

I eat.

RANDOM GIRL:

When?

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THREE, UM, SISTERS Pause. LEE:

At work.

RANDOM GIRL:

You do?

LEE:

What! Are you following me there too?

ALLY:

Oh my god. You should call the police.

RANDOM GIRL:

No, one of the guys I’m sleeping with— you know, just for the exercise— works in your section.

LEE:

Who— Ryan? It’s Ryan. That little creep! So the two of you are just watching me like some reality show.

RANDOM GIRL:

It’s nothing like that!

LEE:

(Screaming.) Leave me alone! Get away from me!

RANDOM GIRL:

Sorry…

RANDOM GIRL exits. ALLY:

Whoa!

LEE:

I know, I was so embarrassed. Everyone was looking. It was like I was the crazy person or something!

ALLY:

Well, it’s over now. You’re safe. Do you want to move? You said weren’t happy here. I could give you some money.

LEE:

No. No. It’s okay. I just overreacted. But she was just, like crazy.

ALLY:

Yeah. Crazy. Nuts!

LEE:

I’m okay, now.

ALLY:

You look great. You look beautiful. Don’t let her get to you. 83


THREE, UM, SISTERS LEE:

Thanks.

ALLY:

You always do. Look beautiful, I mean.

LEE:

Thank you!

ALLY:

And, where does she get off implying you don’t eat?

LEE:

I know.

ALLY:

I mean we haven’t eaten anything today—

LEE:

But you just flew in this morning—

ALLY:

Exactly! And I’m not even hungry—

LEE:

Neither am I Pause. We should go out— Do you want to go out— I’m sick of being here. Like a bug under a microscope. Let’s go shopping. Go to the gym? Something.

ALLY:

Actually, I am getting sorta hungry. Hey, can we go to that Taqueria?

LEE:

Sure. Why don’t you go. Take a walk. I’m not hungry.

ALLY:

Mmm. God, suddenly I’m dying for one of those super burritos! Come on let’s go.

LEE:

I’m not eating that. Look, I don’t to be like y— her. I mean her. I don't want to be repulsive. Bloated. Enormous. Like her.

ALLY:

You think I am fat?

LEE:

(Lying.) Noooo! No. No. No…

84


THREE, UM, SISTERS ALLY:

Do you think I’m getting fat? I mean I always gain a few pounds this time of the year.

LEE:

You’re fine. You look… great. Really. Um. Great.

ALLY:

You’re right. I'll get back on track when I get home. Maybe we should go to the gym now. You really think I gained weight?

LEE:

Well…

ALLY:

Okay. It’s okay. I can take care of it. It is just because I’ve been working so much. (Pacing furiously.) These pants do seem a little tighter. It’s so gross. So, so… Anyway, anyway… (Calming down.) So… What— Is that her apartment over there? Pointing out the window.

LEE:

What? Yeah.

ALLY:

It’s really close. I mean, in her defense she sort of can’t help but look in here, can she? I wouldn’t worry about it. She’s probably not psycho— just curious. Who wouldn’t notice you! Be jealous…

LEE:

Well, she was checking up on me at work too!

ALLY:

Sort of— I guess. Of course, but… Huh? So, is that a painting— What is that? Is it a print or a painting? It’s huge.

LEE:

I think she’s an artist. Or something— maybe a gallery owner. She’s always hanging different stuff on that wall.

ALLY:

It’s really cool— an ice cream cone or a— what is that?

LEE:

Yes. A giant ice cream cone. A giant fucking chocolate ice cream cone… And before that she had like 64 small paintings of fruit. In a grid. And 85


THREE, UM, SISTERS before that it was a sculpture of kids made out of candy bar wrappers. She’s obsessed with food! And then— ALLY:

Uh— Um, I thought she was some Random Girl you had never seen before?

LEE:

She is! I mean I had never talked to her, but, like you said, you can’t help looking— I mean she lives right over there— It wasn’t like I’m spying or—

ALLY:

Hey— oops— there she is. (They both duck aside hiding. RANDOM GIRL re-enters into her apartment with shopping bags. ALLY and LEE peek at RANDOM GIRL from behind their window.) Is that her? She isn’t so… (LEE looks at her skeptically.) I mean she has a pretty face. RANDOM GIRL starts unloading wine and bread and cheese and other yummy food.

LEE:

See? Look at that! So much for eating healthy!

ALLY:

Well, wine is good for you. Moderation and all…

LEE:

That’s Pink Champagne. That’s all she drinks. It has more calories, you know, 105— a serving. That’s 15 minutes of running, minimum, for every glass… RANDOM GIRL hears a noise and turns. RANDOM GUY enters with flowers. He immediately starts disrobing. RANDOM GIRL goes to him. LEE and ALLY lean in watching the embrace. The lights fade. End of play.

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THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2006) Seven short plays by seven of the San Francisco Bay Area's leading emerging playwrights as featured in PlayGround's 10th annual Best of PlayGround festival. AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS by Tom Swift NOWHERE MAN by Tim Bauer PORTALS OF THE PAST by Dave Garrett SEWERMONSTER DIARIES by Brady Lea SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN AÑO NUEVO by Ross Peter Nelson THREE DIVIDED INTO ONE by Molly Rhodes THREE, UM, SISTERS by Geetha Reddy

“As entertaining and thought-provoking as anything on stage at The City's major theaters these days.” -San Francisco Examiner “You never know, maybe you can say you saw them when.” -SF Gate

Other publications in The Best of PlayGround series: THE THE THE THE THE

BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2005) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2004) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2003) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2002) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (1997-2001)

For more information, visit www.playground-sf.org.

A publication of PlayGround, Inc.


Best of PlayGround 2006