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THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND–SAN FRANCISCO (2013) Six short plays by six of the San Francisco Bay Area's leading emerging playwrights as featured in PlayGround's 17th annual Best of PlayGround festival.

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MY BETTER HALF by Jonathan Spector

SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN by William Bivins VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT by Ruben Grijalva Other publications in The Best of PlayGround series: THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE

BEST OF PLAYGROUND–LOS ANGELES (2013) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2012) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2011) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2010) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2009) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2008) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2007) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2006) 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.

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THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION by Katie May

The Best of PlayGround – San Francisco (2013)

SIMPLE AND ELEGANT by Evelyn Jean Pine

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SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE by Amy Sass


The Best of PlayGround San Francisco 2013


MY BETTER HALF ©2013 Jonathan Spector SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE ©2012 Amy Sass SIMPLE AND ELEGANT ©2012 Evelyn Jean Pine THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION ©2013 Katie May SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN ©2013 William Bivins VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT ©2012 Ruben Grijalva 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., 3286 Adeline Street, #8, Berkeley, CA 94703-2485. 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, 3286 Adeline Street, #8, Berkeley, CA 94703. 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 copy­ right owner(s) must be obtained. Other songs, arrangements or recordings may be substituted provided permission from the copyright owner(s) of such songs, arrange­ ments or recordings is obtained; or songs, arrangements or recordings in the public domain may be substituted. Layout, Artwork, Introduction, Foreword © 2013 PlayGround Publications ISBN: 978-0-9722708-2-3 Printed in the United States

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Contents

Introduction ..............................................................5 Foreword .................................................................7 MY BETTER HALF.........................................................9 SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE.................................................. 25 SIMPLE AND ELEGANT.................................................. 35 THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION.................. 43 SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN......................................... 57 VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT .......................................... 67

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PlayGround, Inc. Board of Directors Regina Guggenheim, Chair James A. Kleinmann, President Patrick O’Brien, Vice President

Maya L. Tussing, Treasurer Aaron Loeb, Secretary

Robert Allen Robert L. Bryant Richard J. Idell Bruno Kurtic

Barbara Oliver Kenn Rabin David G. Steele

James A. Kleinmann Artistic Director

Annie Stuart Associate Director

Cass Brayton Editor, Best of PlayGround 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 Associa­ tion, the union of professional actors and stage managers. PlayGround is made possible in part by generous funding from: Alameda County Arts Commission • Berkeley Civic Arts • The Bernard Osher Foundation • Blackrock • Creative Capacity Fund • Dramatists Guild Fund • Electronic Arts • Financial Avengers, Inc. • The Fleishhacker Foundation • Grants For The Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund • Harold & Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust • IBM Corporation • The Kenneth Rainin Foundation • Lenore & Howard Klein Foundation • The Leo J. & Celia Carlin Fund • Microsoft • The Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation • San Francisco Arts Commission • The San Francisco Foundation • The Shenson Foundation • The Tournesol Project • Visa • The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation • The Zellerbach Family Foundation Contributors to PlayGround Publications Indiegogo Campaign: Burlington Willes, Anonymous. To make a tax-deductible contribution to PlayGround, write to: PlayGround, Inc., 3286 Adeline Street, #8, Berkeley, CA 94703. Or visit our website, www.playground-sf.org. —4—


Introduction Welcome to The Best of PlayGround (2013), the thirteenth publication in PlayGround’s ongoing “Best of” series. ­ During the period from October 2012 through March 2013, PlayGround developed and staged 36 original short plays out of over 190 submissions by San Francisco Bay Area emerging ­writers. Each was written in just four days in response to different monthly ­topics initiated by PlayGround. Six of these works received their world ­premiere in May 2013 at PlayGround’s annual showcase for emerging ­writers, The Best of PlayGround Festival, now cele­ brating its seventeenth consecutive year. The Best of PlayGround (2013) features the six 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 eighteen 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 full-length work, including recognition at the Humana Festival, Sundance Festival, Bay Area Playwrights ­Festival, Aurora Theatre Company’s Global Age Project, the ­Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play ­Festival, and the New York International Fringe Festival, among others. PlayGround’s ongoing activities include: the monthly short play staged reading series Monday Night PlayGround; the Emerg­ ing Playwright Awards, presented to the top emerging writers discovered through the Monday Night PlayGround series; The Best of PlayGround Festival, featuring an evening-length pro­gram of the season’s best short plays; monthly playwriting intensives and lectures; and the Commissioning Initiative, by which PlayGround commissions and develops seven new full-length plays each season and, more recently, the New Play Production Fund,

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supporting production of new plays by Bay Area playwrights. In 2012, PlayGround launched the PlayGround Film Festival to support the development of short films by teams of local filmmakers and writers, adapted from some of the more than 100 original short plays featured in the Best of PlayGround Festival since 1997. This year, the second PlayGround Film Festival premiered seven new short films adapted from works developed for the stage by PlayGround. 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

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Foreword Why theatre? The question is ever more relevant today as we move into an age of technology where it seems there is nothing we can imagine that cannot be realized, no question we can ask that cannot be answered. However, it is precisely in times like these that the answer to “Why theatre?” is most clear. Throughout history, theatre has demonstrated its ability to thrive by providing an avenue for creative response and expres­ sion, and it continues to do so today. The inventive qualities used to fuel modern technological advancements come from the same natural human creativity that fuels many theatrical endeavors. In fact, the solutions and visual stimulation brought on by advancements in technology serve as a welcome challenge, and give us new reasons to test and explore creative boundaries in the theatre. What can we do on the stage that cannot be accomplished any other way? What are the unanswered questions we still must explore? In response to these challenges, theatre artists have experimented with perspective, time, space, and narrative techniques to draw us into worlds where imaginations can run wild. This particular collection of short plays provides a perfect example of how today’s theatrical experience asks us to explore our own reality by first abandoning it. Jonathan Spector’s My Better Half takes us into a world where the drama is larger than life. This play introduces us to a couple resorting to extreme measures in order to deal with some bizarre, and very problematic differences that have come between them. There are some actions that are simply unforgiveable. A play by writer Amy Sass takes us deep into memory as we explore the minds of two docents. The effects and notions of time and space are set adrift as they reveal their memories of certain Significant People. What makes a person significant, and to whom? What will be remembered? What forgotten? These, and other questions, are explored in Amy’s piece.

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A new legend is created in Evelyn Jean Pine’s Simple and Elegant. With the style and feel of a favor­ite childhood storybook, Evy tells us a story of two sisters who live in a magical world where fish possess the power of speech. Though resembling the shape and sound of a fairy tale, Evy’s play provokes further thought with an unconventional happily-ever-after. Katie May’s The Spherical Loneliness of Beverly Onion was born from this season’s math night topic, “Fearful Symmetry.” Katie’s play examines a seemingly inconsequential woman, Beverly Onion, with the added perspectives of Luck and Fate, inhabitants of a parallel world that sometimes intersects and sometimes inter­rupts our own. It begs the question: How much power do we have over our supposed fates, and who exactly is making the important decisions? William Bivins’ Symmetrical Smack-Down, another play on parallels, was also inspired by this season’s math night theme “Fearful Symmetry.” Smack-Down layers a relationship tiff with a tense wrestling match. Both will turn ugly, but who will win? Value Over Replacement tugs at our moral compass with a glance back in time that sheds a different light on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports. This short play by Ruben Grijalva gives reason to wonder what circumstances we might be overlooking when we label things right or wrong. These six plays all find ways to challenge readers, directors, actors, and audiences by bending the rules of reality, or by doing away with them altogether. Not only do varied inter­pretations and open questions allow for imaginative trans­ lation to the stage—or the screen—they require and inspire creative thinking from conception all the way through to final production. In a world where answers and information run rampant, isn’t it fun to ponder the impossible? Isn’t it fun to wonder? ­—Celine Delcayre Dramaturg, Best of PlayGround 2013

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MY BETTER HALF By Jonathan Spector

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MY BETTER HALF By Jonathan Spector MY BETTER HALF 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 25, 2013. It was directed by Jon Tracy. The cast was as follows: Anna....................................................... Kathryn Zdan Dave.........................................................Patrick Jones Charles................................................. Scott Coopwood Marilyn.......................................................Katie Rubin MY BETTER HALF was premiered by PlayGround at the 17th Annual Best of Play­Ground (2013) festival on May 9, 2013. It was directed by Michael French. The cast was as follows: Anna....................................................Rebecca Pingree Dave...............................................................Will Dao Charles................................................... Jomar Tagatac Marilyn.................................................... Anne Darragh Jonathan Spector is a playwright and director. His plays have been produced and developed with Aurora Theater, Playwrights Foundation, PlayGround, Source Theater Festival, and St. Bona­ venture College and he’s been a finalist for the O’Neill Play­ wrights Conference, New Harmony Project, and Juilliard Lila Acheson Wallace Playwright Fellowship. His local directing credits include The Internationalist, 1001, Current Nobody, and I Have Loved Strangers, with his company Just Theater, and This Is All I Need with Mugwumpin. He is the recipient of a 2013 PlayGround Fellowship commission. He is currently pursuing an MFA in playwriting at SF State.

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MY BETTER HALF By Jonathan Spector Characters: Anna, female, 30s, a formerly together person who is at the end of her rope Dave, male, 30s, well-meaning and sensitive Charles, male, 40s–50s, professional and confident Marilyn, female, 40s–50s, empathic, kind and maybe a touch New-Agey Note on the text: Line breaks, capitalizations, etc., though primarily meant as a guide to the character’s thought, also inform the rhythm of the line.

(1. ANNA and DAVE, in their living room.) ANNA: So Just so we’re on the same page you’re telling me that first of all while on safari my mother has been eaten by a Tiger DAVE: A very brightly colored tiger it was mesmerizing ANNA: and secondly that you and she were having an affair and this began before we even moved in together DAVE: well I don’t want to get into a semantic I mean when do you really say something (Makes air quotes.) begins? Is that like the first time you flirt the first time you anyway now’s not the time for that — 11 —


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ANNA: you told me you were going to Europe DAVE: we did change planes in Frankfurt ANNA: on business DAVE: and I did a little work on my laptop in the hotel so I’m thinking maybe I can expense it ANNA: I thought she loved me DAVE: She did love you Everytime we were together she’d ask after you And how’s my Anna she’d say but Anna now she’ll always know because she’ll always be watching you she’s with us still I believe that ANNA: I should have known She always said you couldn’t be trusted DAVE: I don’t think that’s the kind of thing she would say ANNA: She never liked you I thought she never liked you Has everything been a lie? DAVE: Anna that’s a big question and I find that in times like these in times of Mourning — 12 —


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ANNA: David please DAVE: it’s best to well I think it’s only natural to want to ask these Big Questions but I think also ANNA: please don’t DAVE: it’s important for you to acknowledge that you can Never Know The Answer life is a mystery ANNA: please stop talking to me DAVE: everyone must stand alone ANNA: who are you? DAVE: I hear you call my name (DAVE starts singing.) And it feeeeeels liiiike/ home ANNA: no DAVE: When you call my name/ It’s like a little prayer ANNA: No NO DAVE: I’m down on my knees — 13 —


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ANNA: NO NO NO NO STOP DAVE: I’m sorry but I thought Madonna would cheer you up Your whole undergrad thesis was about how she was Consistently Comforting throughout the decades ANNA: I said she was consistently conFORMing. To the musical and fashion styles of the day That she got credit for being a trailblazer when in fact Are you serious? Were you really just not paying attention every time I talked about this? DAVE: This makes a lot more sense I could never figure out why you had needed to read all that Foucault ANNA: You have to leave I don’t ever want to see you DAVE: You can’t mean that ANNA: You’ve ruined my life DAVE: Anna I know you have some intense feelings at this moment and that’s ok   I want to you to know that I am here for you in your time of grief  

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And when you’re ready and I know this may take some time you may want to acknowledge that I too am suffering ANNA: If you don’t leave this house in the next five seconds I will hire someone to kill you DAVE: Anna ANNA: 5 DAVE: that’s a very hurtful thing to say ANNA: 4 DAVE: and I know you don’t mean it ANNA: 3 DAVE: You only have Forty-Seven Dollars in your bank account ANNA: 2 (Lighting shifts.) (2. ANNA and CHARLES, in a coffee shop.) ANNA: Will you walk me through how this works? You just what you follow him around for a few days track his patterns wait for a moment when he’s alone

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ANNA (contd): a dark alley or even just after he went to bed and then it’s so long hope you have a nice hot day in Hell! CHARLES: Well Ms. Parsing If we decide that there are Irreconcilable Differences between you and the target then yes there is a process that’s set in motion which does include meticulous observance of the target’s behaviors and experiences but I think we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here ANNA: You know that’s fine I don’t need to know it’s probably better if I don’t know just a time frame? like a week? a month? I mean I guess you don’t have to tell me when like if that makes you superstitious (CHARLES holds up a finger.) CHARLES: I think you may be misunderstanding how this process works ANNA: I was told you were best CHARLES: I appreciate the compliment and I wouldn’t argue with it as a Statement Of Fact ANNA: They said you were professional

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CHARLES: that you will have to judge for yourself ANNA: So why are we I’m sorry why are we dicking around here? CHARLES: Anna we are a three hundred sixty degree operation do you understand what that means? it means that we offer you a range of services termination is and should be and we believe in this very strongly a Last Resort Alternative We find that as many as eighty percent of our clients are able to find solutions to their problems through other means ANNA: He slept with my mother CHARLES: I’ve been made aware of the circumstances ANNA: They went on a safari together she was eaten by a tiger CHARLES: well that is upsetting   but if it’s any consolation we once had a Special Needs client and without disclosing too much I can say that Death by Tiger they go right for the jugular so it’s over pretty quick not much suffering   But either way I am sorry for your loss   — 17 —


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CHARLES (contd): And I also feel that it would be prudent to point out that your primary uh Point Of Contention with the target is no longer an issue ANNA: NO LONGER AN ISSUE? CHARLES: If you’ll forgive me it’s not as though he can carry on an affair with her corpse (ANNA stares at him in disbelief.) CHARLES (contd): I’m sorry to be so blunt but we find and between me and my partners we have almost eighty years of experience in the field we find that revenge tends to be a Very Poor Motive for ­taking this kind of action Because it neither makes the problem go away Nor does it successfully absolve the complicated feelings our clients generally have about their targets in these cases   Now what I would suggest is we have an excellent couples therapist on staff she’s well she’s saved my marriages a couple of times   she’s just very attentive you know like Really Present with you in the room ANNA: um I’m sorry if we Save My Marriage? I’m hiring you to Kill My Husband  

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If you don’t want to do it I’ll find someone who will CHARLES: That’s your choice of course though I do feel compelled to disclose that now that we’ve had this initial consultation you wouldn’t be able to engage the services of any of our Less Thorough competitors in our field when there’s concern that someone else is poaching your clients well let’s just say things can get very messy very quickly   So what we’ll do is we’ll set you up with a few sessions with our therapist you and the target attend then you come back to us in three, four months and we’ll see where we’re at   How’s that sound? (Lighting shifts.) (3. ANNA, MARILYN and DAVE, in MARILYN’s office. ANNA and DAVE on a couch. ANNA has an opaque water bottle.) MARILYN: Ok Anna Would you like to start Do you have an idea why Dave requested that we meet early this week ANNA: Because he hates me? Because you’re a bitch who always takes his side MARILYN: now Anna remember we agreed that in this room we only carry on Respectful Dialogues

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(ANNA takes a swig from her water bottle.) MARILYN: David spoke to me privately there’s something he feels he’s never articulated to you I think he’s being very brave here so I’m going to ask you make an effort to listen with an open mind and an open heart ok? Dave? DAVE: Thank you Yes Anna I value our relationship And it’s (He falters, almost crying.) And I MARILYN: it’s ok this is a Safe Space DAVE: Anna I know it’s difficult for to you hear this but she was so much like you you could’ve been twins so being with her was really a way for me to more fully be with you in a way I never could be if I was just with you MARILYN: so for you Dave it was an Expression of Love? DAVE: I think so yes

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and it’s because I love her that it’s so difficult for me to watch her do this to herself she hasn’t been eating she doesn’t shower and I know she thinks I don’t notice but I’m the one who takes out the recycling I see the empty bottles ANNA: It’s not that I think you don’t notice I just don’t give a shit MARILYN: Great This is Great Anna do you want to tell Dave why you don’t give a shit? ANNA: I hate my life I hate you both I just want it to be over DAVE: It scares me when I hear you talk about hurting yourself I’ve been through enough loss this year I can’t handle another (ANNA looks at him, takes another swig.) MARILYN: Anna Are you drinking alcohol right now? ANNA: I’m an adult MARILYN: of course you are and part of being an adult means taking responsibility for our actions

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ANNA: what about that asshole is he taking responsibility for Having Sex With My Mother? MARILYN: Now Anna we’ve been over this DAVE: we can’t Retract The Past MARILYN: we can only Enact The Future ANNA: I’ve been trying to enact the future You Won’t Let Me MARILYN: Anna I’m just a facilitator ANNA: they said three months it’s been five MARILYN: And as you requested in our last session I had a dialogue with your point person at the organization and we all agreed that we’re making a lot of progress here DAVE: we are I think we are MARILYN: So what I proposed was we continue to meet weekly for the next six months ANNA: Are you fucking kidding me?

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MARILYN: and then we maybe we’ll be in a place where we can really take stock of how we’re feeling ANNA: You Evil Bitch MARILYN: Anna would you mind stepping outside for a moment and giving Dave and I a sec to speak alone? ANNA: Fuck You All! (ANNA storms out.) MARILYN: I acknowledge this must be very difficult for you DAVE: It’s been a rough year I don’t know if I can keep doing this MARILYN: Well at a certain point David you may have to just I’m not saying Cut Your Losses but people change when they want to and change only comes from within So if you decide what you need to do for you is to move on that’s a decision you can feel ok about DAVE: Oh God I’d just be so guilty abandoning her like this

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MARILYN: She’ll find a way to put the pieces back together or possibly she won’t but right now I think you need to ask yourself   How do I take care of David’s needs? (Lighting shifts.) End of play.

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SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE By Amy Sass

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SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE By Amy Sass SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE 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 19, 2012. It was directed by Molly Noble. The cast was as follows: Docent 1................................................... David Cramer Docent 2.................................................. JoAnne Winter SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE was premiered by PlayGround at the 17th Annual Best of Play­Ground (2013) festival on May 9, 2013. It was directed by Steven Anthony Jones. The cast was as follows: Docent 1................................................... Dodds Delzell Docent 2................................................... Anne Darragh Amy Sass is Co-founder and Artistic Director of Ragged Wing Ensemble. As playwright, director, actor, choreographer, and visual artist, Amy’s creative vision sits firmly at the crossroads of artistic disciplines. A member of PlayGround, Amy has won the People’s Choice Award twice for her short plays Significant People and Structural Instability, and is the recipient of the 2013 June Anne Baker Prize and commission. Ragged Wing Ensemble credits include: Maybe Baby (Writer, Director), OPEN. (Writer, Director), Handless (Writer, Director), and So Many Ways To Kill A Man (Writer, Clytaemnestra).

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SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE By Amy Sass Characters: Docent 1, male, 60s Docent 2, female, 60s Setting: We begin with a blank stage. It is an historic site of cultural significance. The house of a notable couple. As the characters tour the house, the scenic objects and rooms mentioned in the text are left to the imagination. The only room to appear in tangible form is The Study. (As the play opens, the DOCENTS stand addressing the audience. They wear tags that read: docent. A tour is about to begin.) DOCENT 1:  Certain people are important. DOCENT 2:  More important than others. DOCENT 1:  This is because they contributed. They put us on the map. DOCENT 2:  By us, we mean: Americans. They put Americans on the map. DOCENT 1:  They made strides in one direction or another. DOCENT 2:  They were known. DOCENT 1:  Known for their contributions, their works of outstanding creative or cultural genius. They were significant. DOCENT 2: Well, he was significant. She wasn’t quite as significant. DOCENT 1:  She was significant. DOCENT 2:  Not really.

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DOCENT 1:  She was significant to him. DOCENT 2:  Not the same. DOCENT 1:  Does it matter? DOCENT 2:  Depends on whom you ask. DOCENT 1:  Ok, she was somewhat significant. DOCENT 2:  Maybe. But she was certainly not historic. (Pause. She remembers the audience. Smiles.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  He was famous. DOCENT 1:  He didn’t start famous. DOCENT 2:  He won awards. DOCENT 1:  He became famous. DOCENT 2:  Famous people thought he was famous. DOCENT 1:  He was only famous to some. DOCENT 2:  He was trendy-famous. Tortured-famous. Remove yourself from the world famous. Drink yourself into oblivion famous. (Pause.) DOCENT 1:  Well. DOCENT 2:  Well. (Big smiles.) DOCENT 1:  In any case, here we are! Thank you for your interest in this historic site of significant persons. DOCENT 2:  Person.

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DOCENT 1:  People. (They smile big.) DOCENT 2:  A few rules: No food. No drink. DOCENT 1:  No touching, littering, vomiting. DOCENT 2:  No dogs, cats, turtles or hamsters. DOCENT 1:  No children. DOCENT 2:  No gum. (Pause.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  Now, then! The house is large. DOCENT 1:  Meandering. DOCENT 2:  It’s easy to get lost. DOCENT 1:  So stay together! DOCENT 2:  Follow along! DOCENT 1:  Don’t trip! DOCENT 2:  Does everyone have a buddy? (Beat.) First stop: the breakfast nook! Overlooking the pool house. The gardens. The orchard. Here is where she brought his meals. DOCENT 1:  Toast and jam. DOCENT 2:  Biscuits and butter. Here is where they shared afternoon tea. DOCENT 1:  Cream and sugar. Two lumps for him. DOCENT 2:  One for her. DOCENT 2: And look, French doors! Opening out onto . . . the veranda.

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DOCENT 1:  Where he wrote his essays. DOCENT 2:  Where they sipped wine. (Beat.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  This way. DOCENT 1:  Don’t get lost. DOCENT 2:  This is the parlor. Where they entertained. DOCENT 1:  Important guests. DOCENT 2:  Some more important than others. All of them glamorous. DOCENT 1:  All of them dead. DOCENT 2:  All of them significant. (Beat.) DOCENT 1:  Up the stairs . . . down the hall. Bedrooms. Hers . . . DOCENT 2:  And His. They had separate bedrooms then. That was how it was. Each with adjoining bathrooms. DOCENT 1:  Hers painted a noxious tangerine. DOCENT 2:  His a depressing fog grey. Here is where he showered, shaved, brushed his teeth. DOCENT 1:  She curled her hair, put on her face. DOCENT 2:  His dresser. DOCENT 1:  Her vanity. DOCENT 2:  See this picture? Third from the left. DOCENT 1:  His grey suit!

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DOCENT 2:  Her tangerine dress. DOCENT 1:  They met at a dance. DOCENT 2:  They didn’t like each other at first. DOCENT 1:  They didn’t like each other. But they were attracted. DOCENT 2:  Opposites . . . you know? DOCENT 1:  At least they could agree on that. DOCENT 2:  For a time. (Beat.) She started buying him ties. DOCENT 1:  Is that significant? DOCENT 2:  It was a turning point. She began with ties, hats, driving gloves, then moved on to socks, cufflinks, hand­ker­ chiefs. A few months in, she graduated to underwear. DOCENT 1:  Monogrammed underwear. DOCENT 2:  You can track their intimacy by the clothing receipts. She took over his wardrobe. DOCENT 1:  She took over his life. (Beat.) DOCENT 1 (contd):  From this window you can see the guesthouse. Sometimes, he would hole up there. DOCENT 2:  He wasn’t always alone. (Beat.) It was to be expected, of course. He was famous. Important. DOCENT 1:  Aging. (Pause.) The occasional . . . DOCENT 2:  Woman. He tried to pass her off as a client. A cousin. His charity case. DOCENT 1:  She knew better. DOCENT 2:  They didn’t discuss it.

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(Beat.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  Ah. The storage closet! DOCENT 1:  Here is his suitcase. Packed with guilt. DOCENT 2:  Here is her designer trunk. She used it for hats. And gloves. DOCENT 1:  And resentment. (Pause.) She chose him so she could tidy him up. DOCENT 2:  He aged. DOCENT 1:  She aged. DOCENT 2:  She forgot why she chose him. DOCENT 1:  It didn’t matter. They were . . . DOCENT 2:  They mostly were . . . DOCENT 1:  Good for each other. DOCENT 2:  And finally. the place where it all happened. The outstanding works of creative genius! The cultural significance! (Lights illuminate the study. It is the quintessential study. Significant and melancholic. The desk and chair. A wardrobe upstage.) (Pause.) DOCENT 1:  This is The Study. This is where he . . . DOCENT 2:  It’s where he . . . (They look at each other, holding the gaze. DOCENT 1 slowly begins to fade away. DOCENT 2 speaks quickly, a rising dread, as she watches her husband fade into shadow.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  This is the original desk. These are the awards he won. His shot glass collection. His stash of bourbon. His paperweight. — 32 —


SI G NI F I C ANT

PEO P LE

(Pause. He stands frozen in a half-light downstage.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  When he was gone . . . it was like he was still around. Here, in the ring from his coffee cup. The smell of cigars. (She moves out of the room, downstage, to stand opposite him. The study has gone dark. He is only a shadow now, fading slowly to black.) DOCENT 2 (contd):  She left the room and closed the door. A year passed. Two years. Five. Then, one day . . . she rises early . . . (Lights illuminate study in an early morning glow. She pauses, takes in the room, then goes to the wardrobe and opens it. A man’s grey suit is revealed. She puts on his trousers. Slides  on his jacket. His tie, his hat, his shoes. She opens the top desk drawer, takes out a cigar. Lights it and takes a pull. She scrounges around the drawer until she finds his whisky. She opens it, swigs, adjusts her hat, swaggers back to the wardrobe. A tangerine dress is revealed. She reaches in slowly and takes it out.) (Music begins. A slow nostalgic song from a bygone era. She holds the garment tenderly and begins a sweet slow dance. She plays the part of her husband as she dances, holding the dress, an embodiment of her former self. The music blooms and expands. As it comes to a close, she gently places the dress on the chair. She pauses a moment, then takes off his hat. She places it on the dress, arranging the sleeves to hold the hat. A quiet half-glow illuminates DOCENT 1.) DOCENT 1:  She was found this way a few days later. His hat in her hands. (Pause.) DOCENT 2:  He was an important man. Significant. DOCENT 1:  He had his flaws. He did things he . . . shouldn’t have done. DOCENT 2:  Even so, she still managed to . . .

— 33 —


SI G NI F I C ANT

PEO PLE

DOCENT 1:  Did she? DOCENT 2:  Didn’t she? DOCENT 1:  Even after he . . . ? DOCENT 2:  Even after. DOCENT 1:  She was significant. DOCENT 2:  Only in relation to him. DOCENT 1:  No. She was more important than she knew. (He touches her cheek. Lights fade to black.) End of play.

— 34 —


SIMPLE AND ELEGANT By Evelyn Jean Pine

— 35 —


SIMPLE AND ELEGANT By Evelyn Jean Pine SIMPLE AND ELEGANT was originally developed by PlayGround (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Rep­ er­tory Theatre on December 17, 2012. It was directed by Nancy Carlin. The cast was as follows: Fisherman................................................. Dodds Delzell Simple................................................. Rinabeth Apostol Elegant....................................................... Lyndsy Kail Fish.........................................................Lowell Abelon SIMPLE AND ELEGANT was premiered by PlayGround at the 17th Annual Best of Play­Ground (2013) festival on May 9, 2013. It was directed by Tracy Ward. The cast was as follows: Fisherman................................................. Dodds Delzell Simple..................................................Rebecca Pingree Elegant.................................................... Carla Pantoja Fish................................................................Will Dao Evelyn Jean Pine writes about the moment when you feel your world is brand new. A PlayGround Resident Playwright, she’s won  the Emerging Playwright Award five times plus the June Anne Baker Prize. Her PlayGround commissions include First, about Bill Gates and the first personal computer, premiering July 2013 at A.C.T.’s Costume Shop, directed by Michael French. A 2013 Djerassi Resident Artist, she has an MFA from San Fran­ cisco State where she teaches performance studies.

— 36 —


SIMPLE AND ELEGANT By Evelyn Jean Pine (For B.L.) Characters: Fisherman (who has, as in a fairy tale, a Prince inside him), male, 40-50 Simple, female, 18–25, Fisherman’s daughter Elegant, female, 18–25, also Fisherman’s daughter The Fish, male, ageless Setting: There are three playing spaces—outside the Fisher­man’s cottage, the bank of the green river, and the shore of the sea—but all play spaces are “fungible.” Playwright’s note: Performers speak the lines of their characters as well as, at times, lines of narration, sometimes solo, sometimes in unison, spoken directly to the audience. “ALL” means all four characters speak in unison, both in character and as narrators, and act out the business described.

(All four performers are on stage.) ALL:  Once upon a time by the green river, FISHERMAN:  lived a fisherman who had SIMPLE & ELEGANT:  two daughters FISHERMAN:  And he named them SIMPLE: Simple FISHERMAN: and ELEGANT: Elegant. SIMPLE & ELEGANT:  And the two girls grew up together ELEGANT:  dancing under the sunsets, SIMPLE:  and wading,

— 37 —


SI MPLE

AND

ELEG ANT

ELEGANT:  their skirts held high, SIMPLE:  in the green river. (As they speak, SIMPLE, ELEGANT and THE FISH enact the scene below: the cutting of the bough and the thread, throwing in the line, reeling in the fish, etc.) SIMPLE & ELEGANT:  One day by the river, ELEGANT:  Elegant used her pearly knife to cut a willow branch SIMPLE:  and Simple made a fishing line from her woolen thread ELEGANT:  and, in the time it takes to sing an old song, SIMPLE:  Simple hooked an enormous fish, SIMPLE & ELEGANT:  so strong that the two girls had to reel it in together. THE FISH:  It flopped on the side of the river, glistening silver THE FISH: ELEGANT: and elegant. And Elegant ELEGANT:  took her knife with the pearly handle and cut open the fish’s huge belly. THE FISH:  Out rolled a heavy, ancient coin of gold. SIMPLE & ELEGANT:  Mine! (SIMPLE and ELEGANT rustle and tussle for the coin, until ELEGANT sticks her knife into SIMPLE’s breast. ELEGANT, pulls out the bloody knife and grabs the gold coin and runs away. Bleeding, SIMPLE falls to the ground, crying.) THE FISH:  Weep not, little girl. Pull out your golden needle and sew up my belly, so I can swim to the blue sea. If you do not, I fear we both shall die. SIMPLE:  How did you know I have a golden needle?

— 38 —


SI M PLE

AND

ELEG A NT

THE FISH:  Because I need you. (SIMPLE threads her needle and sews up THE FISH’s belly. As SIMPLE sews, she grows faint.) THE FISH:  (Laughing.) How you tickle me. SIMPLE:  (To the audience.) And as she made each stitch, THE FISH:  the blood seeped through her cloak, looking like a rose over her heart, and blood from the wound fell on the fish’s belly, SIMPLE:  making him even more luminous and beautiful. (By the time the last stitch is done, SIMPLE grows weaker, but THE FISH is fascinated by SIMPLE’s growing flower of blood.) SIMPLE:  At least you will live. THE FISH:  Little simple one, let me lick your wound. (SIMPLE is clearly terrified by this idea.) THE FISH:  If you don’t let me, you will surely die. SIMPLE:  (To the audience.) Simple didn’t know what frightened her more: the snowy whiteness of death THE FISH:  (To the audience.) or the demanding, rigid mouth of the fish. SIMPLE:  I must go back to my father’s house. (SIMPLE, stands and swoons, and THE FISH catches her in his magnificent tail and puts his mouth over her bloody wound.) THE FISH:  (To the audience.) When at last she slept, the Fish, ELEGANT:  (Whispering to the audience.) the stitches on his belly simple and elegant,

— 39 —


SI MPLE

AND

ELEG ANT

THE FISH:  dived back into the currents and swam away, ELEGANT:  the taste of Simple, THE FISH:  still rusty in his mouth. (A change of scene: ELEGANT is crying outside of her father’s cottage.) FISHERMAN:  Little daughter, little daughter, why do you weep? (ELEGANT throws her arms around her father, crying.) ELEGANT:  Simple and I were fishing in the river and an enormous fish leapt out of the water and bit Simple in the heart. She lies lifeless in the reeds, her blood staining the water. (The FISHERMAN slaps ELEGANT.) FISHERMAN:  Why didn’t you come for me at once? ELEGANT:  I was overcome with grief. (But the audience can see she is fingering the gold coin, heavy in her pocket. The FISHERMAN takes ELEGANT’s other hand and they run to the riverbank, but SIMPLE is no longer there.) FISHERMAN:  Where is she? ELEGANT:  Her body has drifted downstream. She is in the sea with the mermaids now. They comfort her, pure and simple. FISHERMAN:  We must find her. (The FISHERMAN pulls ELEGANT along as she still fingers that coin.) SIMPLE:  Hours before, when the dew rose up, Simple awoke. THE FISH:  Fearing her sister, she knew she had no choice but to flee to the great blue sea, which she had never seen.

— 40 —


SI M PLE

AND

ELEG A NT

SIMPLE:  (Walking and singing.) Help me now, my silvery fish Our hearts are joined by a woolly stitch Though you roam in your watery ways Our hearts beat together till the end of days. THE FISH:  Simple heard the sea before she saw it, SIMPLE:  but she didn’t know if it was the murmur of a lonely prince or the breath of her own heart. THE FISH:  Simple smelled the sea before she saw it. SIMPLE:  Was it the smell of her tears or bracing voice of her father who woke her each day? THE FISH:  But when she saw the sea she was overwhelmed and stared at the water, laughing, SIMPLE:  thrilled to discover something as big and simple as the sky. (THE FISH emerges from the water as if he has heard her laughing.) THE FISH:  Simple, Simple, why do you call me? (SIMPLE climbs onto the back of THE FISH and rides.) SIMPLE:  And she rode across the ocean. (ELEGANT comes to the beach with her father, the FISHER­ MAN, who is weeping. She sits and he puts his head on her lap—in a moment, she realizes he has died. Returning from the sea, SIMPLE, seeing ELEGANT and her father, leaps  from THE FISH’s back. THE FISH disappears into the sea. ELEGANT, surprised and horrified to see her sister, stands as if to hug SIMPLE.) ELEGANT:  Dear Simple, father has drowned in his own tears, but at least you and I are still alive.

— 41 —


SI MPLE

AND

ELEG ANT

(SIMPLE lunges at ELEGANT and the two sisters rustle and tussle. ELEGANT thinks SIMPLE wants to kill her, but when SIMPLE grabs the knife, she cuts open her father, the FISHERMAN, instead, and pulls out a handsome prince.) SIMPLE:  Simple raised Elegant’s pearly knife and cut open their father. ELEGANT:  and out she pulled a handsome prince. SIMPLE:  (To the PRINCE.) Elegant Prince, see my sister, marry her for she has no home. FISHERPRINCE: (As the PRINCE, to ELEGANT.) You are elegant, but my father is cold and forbidding and vows I shall never wed. SIMPLE:  (To the PRINCE.) My sister has a gold coin that she will place in your father’s mouth and his heart will melt. (FISHERPRINCE and ELEGANT kiss. He carries her away.) SIMPLE:  (To the audience.) For seven days and seven nights, I waited at the water’s edge. THE FISH:  And when the fish flung itself at her feet, ELEGANT:  she took Elegant’s knife FISHERPRINCE:  and slit open those simple, elegant stitches, SIMPLE:  and I climbed into its cool belly, which I stitched up again this time from the inside out, THE FISH:  and there she lives to this very day, SIMPLE:  listening to the tremulous beat of its heart. End of play.

— 42 —


THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION By Katie May

— 43 —


THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION By Katie May THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION 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 25, 2013. It was directed by Virginia Reed. The cast was as follows: Fate......................................................... Liam Vincent Luck........................................................ Julia Brothers Beverly Onion................................................ Lisa Morse Dates/Corpse.......................................... Benjamin Pither THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION was premiered by PlayGround at the 17th Annual Best of Play­ Ground (2013) festival on May 9, 2013. It was directed by Rebecca Ennals. The cast was as follows: Fate....................................................... Jomar Tagatac Luck........................................................ Anne Darragh Beverly Onion............................................ Carla Pantoja Dates/Corpse....................................................Will Dao Katie May is a playwright, comedy writer, and performer. Her plays include Black Sheep Gospel (Great Plains Theater Conference), A History of Freaks (finalist for the David Mark Cohen Award in playwriting), and Manic Pixie Dream Girl (PlayGround Fellowship commission) among others. Her short play Rapunzel’s Etymology of Zero (Best of PlayGround, Short + Sweet Sydney) was pub­ lished in the Best of PlayGround (2011). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia Piper Writing Center and the National University of Singapore, a grant from the Society for Women in Film, and a PlayGround Emerging Playwright Award winner. She is currently working on a second PlayGround fulllength commission, Abominable, and on the web series Liz/Kat with Liz Anderson. She holds an MFA in Playwriting from Arizona State University.

— 44 —


THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION By Katie May Characters: Fate, a man. Mature. Powerful. Luck, a woman. Mature. Powerful. Beverly Onion, a mortician’s assistant. Awkward. Neither young nor old. Dates/Corpse, a youngish man. (No spoken lines.) FATE: (Quietly to LUCK, an aside.) This does not end well for you. LUCK:  (Ignoring him.) It’s dark. FATE:  This is how it begins. LUCK:  It’s dark. FATE:  This is how it begins. It’s round and compressed. LUCK:  It’s dark. FATE:  This is how it begins. It’s round, it’s compressed and spherical. LUCK:  It’s dark. FATE:  This how it begins— LUCK: You are wrong! It can’t begin without a disruption, an inciting incident. What’s different about today than every other day? FATE:  It’s round, it’s compressed and spherical. It’s a perfect sphere—a red hot sphere, no matter how you rotate it, it appears unchanged. LUCK:  (More insistent.) What’s different about today than every other day?

— 45 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

FATE:  It’s cooling. And now, for the first time perhaps, there is a flaw. LUCK:  Like the death star? FATE: Seriously? LUCK:  A small but exploitable weakness that leads to its destruction, the death star. FATE:  Fine like the death star. LUCK:  This is how it begins. With a flaw in the infinite spherical sameness. A weakness that leads to an explosion. (Sound of a distant explosion.) FATE:  An explosion that leads to everything. (Lights up.) LUCK:  A universe full of patterned marriages of opposing forces, opposite and equal, a tendency toward balance. FATE: LUCK: Matter, anti-matter. Hamburgers, hot dogs. FATE: LUCK: Love, hate. Cats, dogs. FATE: LUCK: Mass, energy. Battlestar Glactica, Downton Abbey. FATE & LUCK:  And US. FATE:  (Introducing LUCK.) Luck. LUCK: Hello. (Introducing FATE.) Fate. FATE:  Hi. A marriage of opposing forces, opposite and equal, a tendency toward balance. LUCK:  A tendency toward BORING.

— 46 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

FATE:  Mine is the realm of the known, the patterned and predictable. I like orderly marches in 3/4 time, and quilts. She is— LUCK:  The wrench in the works. The alternate choice. The missed train that makes you late for work, that is the last straw for the boss, that leads to the layoff that leads to the career change that leads to happiness. FATE:  Or despair. (LUCK shrugs.) In short— LUCK:  I Fuck Shit Up. FATE: True. LUCK:  But I—at least I am not boring. In a universe that tends toward patterns, and dualities, toward the unimaginable dullness of beautiful symmetries—I make the scars that mar the surfaces, because beneath the scar there is always a good story. So. FATE: So. LUCK:  This is how it begins— FATE:  This does not end well for you. LUCK:  (Ignoring him.) —What’s different about today than every other day? (She turns to FATE.) LUCK (contd):  I have come to believe that there is no tendency of life, no predetermined pattern, or order of events whose nature is so strong, so constant in its set course that I cannot— FATE:  Fuck it up. LUCK:  Precisely. Alter it, knock it off its axis establish a new pattern, a new set of rules, a way of being that did not previously exist. And I’m bored.

— 47 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

FATE:  So a wager, a contest, a demonstration of power? LUCK:  An experiment, to test a hypothesis. (Beat.) FATE:  So a wager, a contest, a demonstration of power. LUCK:  The subject upon which I must act to prove myself is up to you— FATE:  I have already chosen her. LUCK: Her? FATE: Yes. LUCK: Interesting. FATE:  Actually, she’s the opposite. (Lights up on BEVERLY and a CORPSE on a table.) This is— BEVERLY:  (To the CORPSE.) Beverly, Mr. Dawkins. Beverly Onion. I know you can’t hear me but I’m going to talk you through this if you don’t mind. It’s more respectful to the decedent that way. The decedent being you, because, well you’re dead. LUCK:  Beverly Onion. FATE:  Mortician’s assistant. BEVERLY:  These are called eye caps. I put them on your eyeballs. They have little spurs on them so that when I close your eyelids over them they’ll stay closed. It freaks out the mourners when you stare at them. Last week Mrs. Butterfield’s left eye popped open in the middle of Amazing Grace, and her 43-year-old niece peed herself in the viewing room. FATE:  She’s lonely. LUCK:  You don’t say.

— 48 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

BEVERLY:  OK, Mr. Dawkins, now I’m going to roll you over and sew your anus shut. I know it seems undignified but it prevents anal leakage in the casket, which is a lot more undignified in the long run. And smelly. Really smelly. (BEVERLY freezes.) LUCK:  Well I’ve seen enough of that. FATE:  She’s lonely. LUCK:  You mentioned that. FATE:  That is the pattern of her whole life. Somewhere there is a woman whose days are filled with companionship, who has never woken alone in an empty bed to the hollow gnawing darkness of 3 a.m. Beverly is the balance. Here in the basement of Hortaman’s Funeral Home, her fate is spherical. No matter how you rotate it, every face is the same, the smooth curve of infinite, impenetrable, Lonely. LUCK:  Until now. (She pulls out a phone and begins to dial.) LUCK (contd):  What’s different about today than every other day? (In a voice like Fran Drescher.) Hello? Is this Beverly Onion? I’m Cindy from Cindy-Met-Lou-Then-You Speed Dating Service. BEVERLY:  Um . . . Hi? (BEVERLY freezes. Lights out on funeral home.) FATE:  Speed Dating? There is nothing more lonely than Speed Dating. LUCK:  I know. (Lights up across the stage. A table and a chair with a couple of hats beneath it. The CORPSE is now BEVERLY’s SPEED DATE. He is wearing a hat. Every time the bell rings he reaches under the chair puts on a new hat, and strikes a new pose to become her next DATE.)

— 49 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

BEVERLY:  I’m sorry about the smell, I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare. It’s formaldehyde. I work with dead people. What do you do? (The DATE grabs the bell in desperation and rings it. BEVERLY freezes, he changes hats. They unfreeze.) BEVERLY (contd):  Hobbies? Well I’m into researching strange burial rights from around the globe. Did you know that the Ishikonobo tribe indigenous to the lower Urguazian Desert skewer their dead on tall poles and leave them in temperatures of well over 120 degrees? It totally preserves them. They come down looking like jerky. (The DATE rings the bell.) BEVERLY (contd):  (As if answering a question.) “Star Wars.” (DATE reaches for the bell.) Specifically, “The Empire Strikes Back.” (He pauses.) I absolutely can’t take the prequels seriously as part of the canon. Can you believe George Lucas sold to Disney? (He takes her hand.) FATE:  Even I was surprised by that. LUCK:  He receives a phone call. (DATE puts a phone to his ear.) There has been a small fire at his office. (He makes an “oh no” face.) Nothing serious. But there is smoke damage. No need to come into work tomorrow. They go home together (They go home together.) to watch “The Empire Strikes Back,” except not really. (BEVERLY and her DATE move quickly into three quick make­ out poses, freezing for a beat in each one.) FATE:  There is nothing in the world more lonely than awkward couch sex. (He is really into it. She is obviously not. She is somewhere else in her mind completely.) FATE (contd):  Where only one person is enjoying himself.

— 50 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

LUCK:  In the morning Beverly wakes up on a couch that is not her own. (BEVERLY wakes up.) The date has gone to work after all. She is slightly hungover. There are bits of popcorn stuck to the side of her chin. (She brushes them off.) She is alone. (BEVERLY sits alone for a beat. Then crosses back to the mortician’s basement.) FATE:  You are losing. How much longer before you concede? LUCK:  Why should I do that? FATE:  Not only is her fate unaltered, it’s more tightly sealed than before. LUCK: Precisely. FATE: Precisely? LUCK: You said it yourself an impenetrable sphere of loneliness, the same from all angles, no way to disrupt it. So I’m increasing it. (In the background BEVERLY is not feeling well.) LUCK (contd):  Turning up the heat, building the pressure. (BEVERLY is REALLY not feeling well.) LUCK (contd):  Even now we are speeding toward an event, a crack, something has to give, the Big Bang of Beverly Onion. (BEVERLY begins to throw up. There is the distant sound of an explosion. The lights go dim over BEVERLY.) LUCK (contd):  This is how it begins. BEVERLY:  It’s dark. (A DOCTOR enters.) LUCK:  This is how it begins. It’s round and compressed.

— 51 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

BEVERLY:  Why is it so dark? (DOCTOR leads BEVERLY to the table and sits her down.) LUCK:  This is how it begins. It’s round, it’s compressed and spherical. (DOCTOR grabs a chair and sits in front of her, a tableau of doctor and patient.) BEVERLY:  It’s dark. What’s going on? (Lights come on.) LUCK: A red hot sphere. Four cells, then eight, then sixteen, a symmetrical and even progression, a tendency toward balance. Look closer. Look for the disruptions, an ecstasy of differentiations that will lead to eyes, to nose, to the tiny crescent curve of a nail on a pinky finger. BEVERLY: Oh. LUCK:  Growing, expanding, dividing, expanding, growing! BEVERLY: Oh. LUCK:  What’s different about today than every other day? (To FATE. Triumphant.) Disruptions, flaws, small alterations to the incessant sameness of the pattern. This is how things get DONE! (Meanwhile, BEVERLY has left her world and crossed to our narrators.) BEVERLY:  Why did you do this? LUCK:  Excuse me? BEVERLY: Why? LUCK:  (Appalled.) You can’t talk to us. Go back, over there, we’re telling your story. You can’t come OUT here.

— 52 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

BEVERLY:  Why not? LUCK:  Because . . . We are forces of nature, not to be trifled with. We act. We are not made to answer. BEVERLY:  Well you should be. LUCK:  To you? BEVERLY:  Yes! Why did you do this? (Beat. They stare each other down.) LUCK:  It is our nature . . . and I was bored. BEVERLY: Bored? LUCK: Yes. BEVERLY: BORED!? LUCK:  We are infinite beings, locked into a patterned world populated by diametrically opposed and equally powerful forces for all time. Do you realize how mind-numbingly ­boring that is? BEVERLY:  Fuck you. LUCK:  It was an experiment. BEVERLY:  An experiment? FATE:  (Stirring the pot.) Well more of a contest, really. BEVERLY:  Oh really? Who’s winning? LUCK: Me. BEVERLY:  Is that so? LUCK:  Yes. I altered your life, threw it off its axis, unsettled the humdrum progression of events ticking over like dominoes, and gave you the chance to—

— 53 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

BEVERLY:  You hijacked it! LUCK: You are creating something where there was nothing. Creation is the ultimate act of connection. It’s striking out against the inevitable loneliness of singular perception it’s— BEVERLY: Over. LUCK: What? BEVERLY:  I don’t want it. (She crosses back to the DOCTOR.) LUCK:  Is she serious? This is an opportunity! BEVERLY: I liked my axis, and my humdrum dominoes! You are screwing with life here. With lives. There is an order to things, there was to my things. You can take your act of connection and shove it. LUCK:  But you were so Alone. And you were going to be—you will be—forever. The fierce and gut-wrenching impenetrable, spherically-symmetrical loneliness that was/is your life, I saved you from that, can save you from that. This is how it begins. BEVERLY:  I don’t do beginnings! I am here, at the end. LUCK:  (To FATE.) You said she was lonely. BEVERLY:  I am. Endings are lonely—inevitably and irrevocably, lonely. And I am here creating something, an illusion perhaps but something dignified, ease and comfort for everyone that doesn’t have to see what I see, or know what I know, and that is why I do it. Alone. (To the DOCTOR.) There are pills? (He nods.) Will it hurt? (He nods again.) LUCK:  (Desperate to keep the upper hand.) The doctor gets struck by lightning! (A brief pause. They all look around. Nothing.) LUCK (contd):  THE DOCTOR GETS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING!

— 54 —


T H E S P H E R I C A L L O N E L I N E S S O F B E V E R LY O N I O N

(Nothing. BEVERLY takes the pills.) LUCK (contd):  The pills are made from sugar— FATE: Stop— LUCK:  No, no . . . a phone rings! FATE:  You’ve gone too far— LUCK:  There was . . . a mix-up in a lab somewhere! The pills are TOXIC! (BEVERLY hunches over in pain. There is the sound of a distant explosion.) FATE: ENOUGH! (To BEVERLY.) This is how it begins. What is different about today than every other day? Nothing. It is just a day. Like yesterday. Like tomorrow. (BEVERLY unhunches and resets as she was when we first met her. The DOCTOR lies down on the table to become the CORPSE.) FATE (contd):  Beverly Onion is in the basement of Hortaman’s Funeral Home. She is talking to the dead. She is lonely. BEVERLY:  (Smiles.) Thank you. FATE:  You’re welcome. BEVERLY:  (As if picking up where she left off earlier.) All sealed up Mr. Dawkins. I am sorry about the awkwardness. I hope I was gentle. (Lights begin to slowly fade.) FATE:  You went too far this time. LUCK:  It’s getting dark. FATE:  This is how it begins. With a disruption, a flaw, a weakness that leads to an explosion.

— 55 —


LUCK:  It’s dark. FATE:  I told you this was not going to end well for you. LUCK:  Why is it so dark? FATE:  This is how it begins. End of play.

— 56 —


SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN By William Bivins

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SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN By William Bivins SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN 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 25, 2013. It was directed by Amy Mueller. The cast was as follows: Napalm................................................... Jomar Tagatac El Chupacabro............................................ Dodds Delzell Raquel...................................................... Elena Wright Marian...................................................... Julia McNeal SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN was premiered by PlayGround at the 17th Annual Best of Play­Ground (2013) festival on May 9, 2013. It was directed by Jim Kleinmann. The cast was as follows: Napalm................................................... Jomar Tagatac El Chupacabro............................................ Dodds Delzell Raquel..................................................Rebecca Pingree Marian..................................................... Carla Pantoja William Bivins is an award-winning playwright whose full-length productions include The Education of a Rake, The Apotheosis of Pig Husbandry, and Pulp Scripture, among others. He has won the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award, the Hyperion Project Original Play Competition, and numerous San Francisco Fringe Festival Awards. In addition to PlayGround, William is a member of the Monday Night Playwrights Group, the Will Dunne Dramatic Writing Workshop, and the Dramatists Guild. He lives in San Francisco.

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SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN By William Bivins Characters: Napalm, male, 20s–30s, professional wrestler El Chupacabro, male, 50s, professional wrestler Raquel, female, 20s, sportswriter; El Chupacabro’s daughter Marian, female, 40s–50s, reference librarian (A cafe table and two chairs. MARIAN and RAQUEL stand on either side of the table. NAPALM and EL CHUPACABRO stand on either end of the stage. All face the audience. The DING of a bell, as in a wrestling match.) NAPALM:  I am Napalm, the fire-bomber. I leave behind me a wake of devastation. El Chupacabro is my sworn enemy. Today I will OBLITERATE HIM! EL CHUPACABRO:  I am El Chupacabro. Destroyer of men. Inflicter of pain. Napalm is my sworn enemy. Today he will TASTE MY WRATH! RAQUEL:  I’m Raquel. I am a sportswriter and daughter of a pro­ fes­sional wrestler. Marian is my girlfriend of three years. Today I will find out if she’s willing to fight for me. MARIAN: I am Marian. I’m a reference librarian. Do not laugh. Today I am angry with Raquel for reasons I’d rather not discuss. (DING. The two women sit at the table across from each other.) MARIAN (contd):  Your hair could use some attention. RAQUEL:  You got something you want to say to me? MARIAN:  What are you talking about?

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RAQUEL:  You’ve been crabby all morning. MARIAN:  Have I? I haven’t noticed. Where is the waiter? The ser­ vice here is abysmal. RAQUEL:  Let’s pretend we’re breaking up. MARIAN:  You want to break up? RAQUEL:  I want to pretend to break up. Kind of a game. MARIAN:  Okay. You start. RAQUEL:  Marian, I’m breaking up with you. MARIAN:  How do I react? RAQUEL:  I don’t know. Shock, anger, indifference. MARIAN:  I choose indifference. RAQUEL:  You do? MARIAN:  We’re just pretending, aren’t we? RAQUEL:  Yeah, but why indifference? MARIAN:  What happens next? RAQUEL:  You ask me why I’m breaking up with you. MARIAN:  Why are you breaking up with me? (DING. The two women freeze. The two fighters face off with each other.) EL CHUPACABRO:  (Yelling.) When I am done with you, you will be my little house bitch, wearing an apron and cleaning the floor in my mansion of PAAAIN! NAPALM:  (Yelling.) When I am done with you, you will not only wish you had never been born, you will wish your father, grandfather and great-grandfather had never been BOOORN!

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EL CHUPACABRO:  (Normal voice.) That’s too complicated. NAPALM:  No, it’s not. EL CHUPACABRO: The whole father/grandfather thing gets the audience thinking too much. Takes them out. NAPALM:  You got something you want to say to me? EL CHUPACABRO:  What are you talking about? NAPALM:  You’ve been busting my chops all morning. EL CHUPACABRO:  Just giving you feedback, that’s all. One more thing: I know you’re supposed to take this fight; but I’d like to have it. NAPALM:  Not my choice. You know that. Talk to management. EL CHUPACABRO:  We can work it out between us. I’m about to retire; I wanna go out with a win. NAPALM:  I could get in trouble. EL CHUPACABRO: You’re the flavor of the month. You’d get a slap on the wrist. NAPALM:  I’m the flavor of the month in our regional division; but I’m still slinging lattes at Starbucks. I’m ready to go full-pro, dude. Getting beaten by an old fart will set me back. (DING. The wrestlers freeze.) RAQUEL:  Things don’t feel equal to me. MARIAN:  What do you mean? RAQUEL:  Our feelings for each other. MARIAN:  All relationships are asymmetrical. RAQUEL:  You’re admitting it?

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MARIAN:  This is a pretend break-up. I’m pretending to admit it. RAQUEL:  How about you pretend to give a shit about it? MARIAN: Okay. (She pretends to give a shit.) How’s this? (DING. The women get up from the table. All four face the audience, such that RAQUEL and NAPALM are adjacent and MARIAN and EL CHUPACABRO are adjacent. MARIAN and EL CHUPACABRO take out cell phones.) MARIAN (contd):  (On phone.) She’s cheating on me. EL CHUPACABRO:  (On phone.) Impossible. MARIAN:  I know her. I can tell. EL CHUPACABRO:  I’m her father. I would know. MARIAN:  For most of her life you didn’t even know she was a lesbian. EL CHUPACABRO:  She says she loves you more than you love her. MARIAN:  You believe that? EL CHUPACABRO:  She believes it. That’s what counts. (DING. RAQUEL and MARIAN switch places. NAPALM and MARIAN remain frozen.) EL CHUPACABRO (contd):  You’ve got to be kidding. Him? RAQUEL:  I’m not proud of it. EL CHUPACABRO:  That little home-wrecking prick. RAQUEL:  Promise you won’t say anything to him. EL CHUPACABRO:  What were you thinking? Was it just some hetero­sexual experiment? RAQUEL:  So she knows, huh? — 62 —


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EL CHUPACABRO:  She suspects. RAQUEL:  Did she seem upset? EL CHUPACABRO:  She loves you. RAQUEL:  Dad, you’re not answering my question. (DING. EL CHUPACABRO and RAQUEL freeze.) MARIAN:  I’ll have a soy latte to go. NAPALM:  (Seeing her, flustered.) Oh . . . uh. MARIAN:  Do we know each other? NAPALM:  No! I’m sorry, we’re out of soy today. MARIAN:  You look familiar. NAPALM:  We don’t know each other. Okay? Look, there are people in line. You wanna order something else? (DING. The women switch places again. NAPALM and RAQUEL remain frozen.) MARIAN:  (On phone.) I think I know who it is: one of those meatheads you work with. EL CHUPACABRO:  (On phone.) No! MARIAN:  He’s named after some sort of incendiary device. I’m leaving her. EL CHUPACABRO:  Marian, don’t do anything rash. MARIAN:  It’s bad enough she’s fucking a man. Turns out it’s a guy who wears tights and smashes chairs over people’s heads for a living. No offense. EL CHUPACABRO:  Look, if she’s cheating—I’m not saying she is, mind you—but if she is, maybe she’s trying to say something to you. You know, subconsciously.

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MARIAN:  If she has something to say, she can say it. EL CHUPACABRO:  Talk to her at least. Clear the air. Have a blood-letting. MARIAN:  You’re mixing your metaphors. EL CHUPACABRO:  Mixing my what? (DING. MARIAN and EL CHUPACABRO remain frozen.) RAQUEL:  I can’t see you anymore. NAPALM:  I love you. RAQUEL:  No you don’t. I’m the daughter of your arch-rival slash father figure; it’s just some weird Freudian thing. NAPALM:  So that’s it? We’re done? RAQUEL:  We’re done. NAPALM:  She came into the cafe, by the way. I recognized her from her pictures. I don’t know what you see in her. RAQUEL:  She’s better in bed than you and she can talk about string theory. NAPALM:  String what? (DING. The women sit at the table. The wrestlers face off.) EL CHUPACABRO:  If you won’t give me this match, let’s do it for real. NAPALM:  You’ve got to be kidding. A real fight? EL CHUPACABRO:  It’s been done. NAPALM:  Wrestling is pretend. That’s what keeps it safe. EL CHUPACABRO:  What’s the matter? You scared ’cause you know I’ll destroy you?

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NAPALM:  That’ll be the day. EL CHUPACABRO:  Crush and humiliate you. Mop the ring with your sleazy little ass. NAPALM: Sleazy? EL CHUPACABRO:  Matter of fact, let’s do it right now. NAPALM:  Dude, what’s gotten into you today? EL CHUPACABRO:  I’m hungry for chicken. NAPALM:  You got something to say to me, old man? EL CHUPACABRO:  I got nothing to say to you. Chicken Boy. NAPALM:  I am not chicken! EL CHUPACABRO:  Bck bck bck. NAPALM:  You wanna get it on?! Let’s get it on! (DING. The fighters freeze in attack posture.) RAQUEL:  Okay, now it’s your turn. MARIAN:  Raquel, I’m leaving you. RAQUEL: Why? MARIAN:  It’s not you, it’s me. I don’t love you anymore. RAQUEL:  You’re lying. MARIAN:  You’re immature, impulsive, and lazy. You have chron­ ically bad breath and the weight you’ve gained around your ass is unattractive. RAQUEL:  Fuck you. MARIAN:  I’m pretending.

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RAQUEL:  Let’s stop pretending. MARIAN:  Pretending keeps it safe. Isn’t that the point? RAQUEL:  You afraid to get real? MARIAN:  I am not afraid! RAQUEL:  Bck bck bck. (MARIAN stands up.) MARIAN:  FUCK YOU! (RAQUEL stands up.) RAQUEL:  Yeah?! You got something to say? MARIAN:  Yeah, I got something to say! (DING. The fighters charge each other, lock shoulders.) EL CHUPACABRO: NAPALM: AAAAAAHHHHHHHH! AAAAAAHHHHHHHH! (Blackout.) End of play.

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VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT By Ruben Grijalva

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VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT By Ruben Grijalva VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT was originally developed by Play­ Ground (James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director) for the Monday Night PlayGround staged reading series in residence at Berkeley Repertory Theatre on October 15, 2012. It was directed by Katja Rivera. The cast was as follows: Edward “Chip” Fuller.................................... Aaron Wilton Dan Drake.................................................Robert Sicular Emily Fuller................................................ Liz Anderson Miguel/Caller..............................................Dmitri Woods Producer/Caller..........................................Amelia Bethel VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT was premiered by PlayGround at the 17th Annual Best of Play­Ground (2013) festival on May 9, 2013. It was directed by Katja Rivera. The cast was as follows: Edward “Chip” Fuller.................................. Jomar Tagatac Dan Drake................................................. Dodds Delzell Emily Fuller............................................Rebecca Pingree Miguel/Caller....................................................Will Dao Producer/Caller.......................................... Anne Darragh Ruben Grijalva is a playwright, director, and filmmaker. His first full-length play, Foresight (2010), explores the prospect of digital immortality. His short film, Shadow Ball (2007), about the Negro League ritual of baseball in pantomime, was recognized by Eastman/Kodak, screened at festivals worldwide, and included on the Official Best of Fest DVD series. He helped start Virtual Active, an exercise-media company that brings iconic sights from around the world to your treadmill. He is the recipient of a 2013 PlayGround Fellowship commission.

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VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT By Ruben Grijalva Characters: Edward “Chip” Fuller, male, late 30s, smallish former utility infielder Dan Drake, male, 40s, baseball writer Emily Fuller, female, late 20s Miguel, male (offstage voice only) Producer, male or female (offstage voice only) Anonymous Radio Callers, 2 men, 2 women (In blackness, a rapid succession of anonymous, static-filled rage.) MAN’S VOICE: They should just kick him out, him and all the other cheaters. The problem is these . . . WOMAN’S VOICE:  . . . these guys lack respect for the game, plain and simple. I want to know . . . MAN’S VOICE:  . . . to know what his wife thinks when she sees his shrunken little balls. Are her big house and fancy clothes worth . . . WOMAN’S VOICE:  . . . worth it, knowing there’s a twelve-year-old kid out there looking up to him, thinking, if my hero does it, maybe it’s a good idea . . . (Lights up on a table of lightweight radio broadcast equip­ ment. EDWARD “CHIP” FULLER sits behind one microphone, DAN DRAKE behind another.) MIGUEL:  . . . good idea to re-sign. Hobbs is a great player, but if he turns up dirty, Knights’s management is going to have to think twice about giving him a new contract—­ CHIP: And I’m sure they will think twice if and when there’s anything beyond speculation, but again—­ DAN:  You still don’t think he did anything?

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CHIP:  I honestly don’t know. Look, it’s true that players are bigger than they used to be, and some of it looks suspicious. But I played with Ken Hobbs for two years and the only thing I ever saw him do was show up at the yard every day, hours before anyone else, work his butt off in the weight room, hours after everyone else went home, take those extra hacks in the cage, hit the snot out of the ball and help his team win, day in and day out. Baseball is in the guy’s blood— we’re talking about Roy Hobbs’s grandson. He is playing with an advantage, but he didn’t get it from the pharmacy, he picked it off the family tree. Thanks for the call, Miguel. DAN:  You think it’s just genetics, then? CHIP:  I think Kenny Hobbs is the greatest player of his era, and that kind of greatness doesn’t come from a pill. DAN:  What about a syringe? Can you inject greatness into your butt? CHIP:  I guarantee you, Dan, I could inject your butt everyday for ten years and you still couldn’t hit big league pitching. DAN:  Fair enough. But, if Ken Hobbs is on that list, if he tested positive for performance-enhancers, aren’t his numbers meaningless? CHIP:  No, numbers are never meaningless. If he did it, then the guy made a mistake, the same mistake that, evidently, a lot of guys made, and none of them—­ DAN:  Did you? CHIP: Sorry? DAN:  Did you ever make that mistake? CHIP:  (Laughs.) Apparently you’ve never seen the back of my baseball card: hundred sixty pounds, tops, six years in the bigs, seven home runs. Not exactly Hobbsian numbers. DAN:  Were you ever tempted?

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CHIP:  I never really thought about it. DAN:  Really? With all the guys around you getting bigger, putting up huge years, you never thought a little help could turn that one home-run a year into two, three, ten jacks a year? CHIP:  I don’t think drugs make that big a difference—­ DAN:  How big a difference do they make? CHIP:  I don’t know—a marginal difference. DAN:  The marginal difference between triple-A and the show? CHIP:  I really don’t know what difference they make. I don’t even know how you measure that. DAN:  OPS, runs created, win shares, value over replacement player, I can think of a dozen ways. This game is obsessed with measuring things. How about hat size? CHIP:  (Laughs, leans in to mic.) Chip Fuller here, hat size sevenand-a-half since the Pony Leagues, talking with Knights’s beat writer Dan Drake. If you just tuned in, the Commissioner’s report on Performance-Enhancing Drugs in Baseball drops tomorrow and it will name names, including—allegedly—that of home-run king Ken Hobbs. We’ve got to break for news, but we’ll be back with more rumormongering shortly, here on The Chip Fuller Show. (An obnoxious station ID follows. DAN switches both micro­ phones off.) DAN:  Chip, I’ve seen the report. CHIP:  Really. Is he on it? DAN:  Yes, him. And others. CHIP:  Other big fish? DAN:  Some big fish. And some smaller fish.

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(CHIP ponders briefly, and an awareness washes over him. He looks around, nervously pushes the mic further away.) CHIP:  How small? DAN:  A buck-sixty, tops. (CHIP walks away from the table. DAN follows, cautiously.) DAN:  Chip, everyone else is going to write about Hobbs, but I think there’s a more interesting story here. I’d like to give you a say in how it’s told. CHIP:  Can I see the report? DAN:  I really shouldn’t—­ CHIP:  You really should—­ DAN:  I promised my source—­ CHIP:  If you want me to respond to an accusation, I need to see what you’re talking about. (DAN pulls a stack of paper from his bag, finds a page, shows CHIP.) DAN:  Hobbs is arrogant, he’s prickly, people will be happy to take him down. But, people love you. You could be the friendly face of this thing. People will forgive you, if you just— CHIP:  You asked me a question you knew the answer to. On the air, on my show, you set me up to lie. DAN:  Or to come clean. (CHIP looks as though he may throw a punch. DAN holds up his digital recorder as if it’s a shield.) CHIP:  You think I’m going to give you an interview, now? You’re lucky I don’t knock you the fuck out.

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DAN:  I can write that story, if that’s what you want. “Chip Fuller, faced with evidence of steroid use, flies into ’roid rage.” That’ll sell. But I don’t think that’s your story. (CHIP backs off, turns his back.) So, what is your story? (CHIP wanders a few steps away. The lights dim on the broadcast booth, and brighten on an adjacent space. He enters this space, picks up a bat, swings. CRACK. He resets, swings again. CRACK. With intense focus, he fights off one pitch after another. EMILY enters, watches him.) EMILY:  Swing’s looking better. How’s the knee? CHIP:  What knee? EMILY: That-a-babe. (CHIP takes another swing and winces.) CHIP:  Oh, that knee. EMILY:  That’s the one. Maybe you should lay off it a bit. CHIP:  Can’t do that. EMILY:  You don’t want to make it worse. CHIP:  Can’t wait any longer. They gave Jimenez a camp invite. EMILY:  What’s that mean? CHIP:  It means that in addition to the twenty-year-old wunderkind, I’ve gotta beat out a crusty old vet who was almost completely out of the game last year. Apparently, he’s stumbled upon the fountain of fucking youth: they say he hit .330 in Venezuela this winter. EMILY:  Must be on a new diet. CHIP:  Yeah, I hear Greek yogurt can cure lost bat-speed. EMILY:  You don’t think it’s that kind of diet?

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CHIP:  I think whatever he’s doing, that’s what I need to do. EMILY:  You don’t want to do that. CHIP:  I don’t want to be out of the game. EMILY:  You won’t be. CHIP:  I don’t want to spend another year riding buses to small towns. EMILY: You won’t. I don’t care who’s in camp, you’re going to make the team this year. CHIP:  Oh yeah, how’s that? EMILY:  Because you want it more. CHIP:  (Stops hitting.) Do I want it more? Can I really claim to want it more—? EMILY:  You want it more. You just don’t want it that way. CHIP:  (Steps out of the cage, hobbling a little, faces her directly.) And what if that’s the only way that’ll work? EMILY:  It’s not. (EMILY leans against CHIP tenderly. DAN has wandered into the scene, though EMILY does not acknowledge him.) CHIP:  (To DAN.) Here’s what the back of my baseball card looked like just before I made the mistake: twenty-seven years old, eight years in the minor leagues, two September call-ups, twelve major league at-bats, two major league hits, three knee surgeries. CHIP (contd):  (To EMILY.) I just need a little something to help me with the knee. Just temporarily. It’s perfectly safe— EMILY:  I don’t believe that—­

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CHIP:  Emily, it’s just a short-term fix, just until I’m at full strength—­ EMILY:  And how do you know when you’re at full strength? CHIP:  When my knee doesn’t hurt anymore and I can start ­hitting with my legs again. I’m not looking for an advantage, I’m just looking to remove a disadvantage. EMILY:  We are not going to risk your health—­ CHIP:  It’s just a short-term solution—­ EMILY:  Well, we need to start thinking about the long term, because it’s not just about you and me anymore! CHIP:  (To DAN.) Zero years of college, four years of marriage, two months pregnant. EMILY:  I need you to be healthy for a long time. I need you to think about what’s best for all of us. CHIP:  (To DAN.) Six hundred dollars a week, one year left on my contract, one blue chip shortstop nipping at my heels, one juicing old man cutting in front of me, one last chance. EMILY:  Promise me you’ll do what’s best for all of us. CHIP:  (To DAN.) Twenty-seven years dedicated to one single purpose, zero backup plans. EMILY:  Promise me. CHIP:  I promise. I’ll do what’s best. (They embrace, she exits.) Do you have any idea how excruciating it is to be almost good enough? DAN:  No, I don’t.

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CHIP:  Every day these sanctimonious idiots on the phone—they don’t know it, but they’re talking about me when they ask, “Chip, how do these cheaters look their kids in the eye?” And I just want to scream at them, because their kids have full bellies! Because I can take care of them! That’s how I look them in the eye! If things had gone the other way, if I hadn’t made a move, I don’t know how I would have fed them. I don’t know how to do anything else. I made damn sure I could take care of my kids, and if that’s disappointing to Crazy Carl from Alameda, I am so fucking sorry! I am sorry that my God-given ability only took me ninety-nine percent of the way. I’m sorry God gave me just enough talent to waste a decade trying. It wasn’t a mistake, it was a choice. God didn’t give me what I needed, so I took it! Fourteen IU of HGH, fifty milligrams of Nandrolone, five milligrams THG, fourteen pounds of muscle, thirty points on my batting average, twenty-fifth spot on the Knights’s big league roster, six years in the show, zero regrets. DAN:  None at all? CHIP:  I know I’m supposed to feel remorseful about this—but do you have any idea how much better my life has been since I made that “mistake”? DAN:  I don’t know how you measure that. Dollars? CHIP:  The dollars are important, I’m not going to lie, but they’re just the start. You can’t put a price on the sheer exhilaration you feel standing up there in the ninth inning with runners on, stadium buzzing, forty-thousand eyeballs on you, just like you imagined in your backyard when you were ten. Money’s great, but lots of people have money—how many people get to be ten years old every night? People are surprised that we’ll risk our health to play the game? They should be surprised we don’t murder each other to free up roster spots! I was months away from selling used cars—and instead I got to play baseball on the same field as Ken Hobbs. Every day of my life has been better since I decided to do what had to be done—every day with the notable exception of tomorrow. Tomorrow will almost certainly be worse. DAN:  What do you expect tomorrow?

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CHIP:  Hundreds of disappointed fans. Two disappointed parents. One humiliated wife. Two kids teased in school. Two kids I’m going to have to look in the eye and try to explain. Zero chance they’ll understand. PRODUCER:  (Offstage.) Chip! We’re back in ten! (CHIP hustles back to the desk, prepares to return to air. DAN follows.) DAN:  What are you going to say? PRODUCER:  (Offstage.) Back in three, two . . . CHIP:  Welcome back to The Chip Fuller Show. I’m here with Dan Drake of the Chronicle and we’re talking PerformanceEnhancing drugs in baseball. We’re going to kick off the next hour with a question to our audience: Assuming you have eighty years to live, how many years would you be willing to trade to be exactly what you wanted to be when you were ten years old? I want to hear from all the would-be rock stars and astronauts out there. Chris from Berkeley, we’ll start with you, welcome to The Chip Fuller Show . . . (Blackout.) End of play.

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THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2004): Aegis by Jonathan Luskin; Honey, I’m Home by Geetha Reddy; I Left My Heart on the 38 Geary by David Garrett; My Name Is Yin by Tom Swift; Reunion by Kenn Rabin; The Maror the Merrier by Aaron Loeb; The Wait of the World by Maria Rokas THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2003):  Cold Calls by Martha Soukup; Hunters and Gatherers by Kenn Rabin; I’d Like to Buy a Vowel by Cass Brayton; Letterophilia by Kristina Goodnight; Plans and Peccadilloes by Maria Rokas; Sound by Aaron Loeb; The Vigil by Michael Lütz THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2002):  A Pocket Full of Memories by David Garrett;

Celadon Box #8 by Kenn Rabin; Missive by Garret Jon Groenveld; Peter’s Place In The Stars by Carol Marshall; Remember Paris by Brady Lea; Shameful/Shameless by Aaron Loeb; The Bandersnatch by Kristina Goodnight

THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND (1997-2001): A Bouncing Baby Girl by Mary Michael Wagner; Iowa by Malachy Walsh; Ondine by Garret Jon Groenveld; One of Those Things by Veronica Xavier Andrew; Sudden Descent by Sean Owens; The Docent by Mark Sherstinsky; The Golden Yes by Daniele Nathanson and Tania Katan Available for purchase online at www.playground-sf.org


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THE BEST OF PLAYGROUND–SAN FRANCISCO (2013) Six short plays by six of the San Francisco Bay Area's leading emerging playwrights as featured in PlayGround's 17th annual Best of PlayGround festival.

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MY BETTER HALF by Jonathan Spector

SYMMETRICAL SMACK-DOWN by William Bivins VALUE OVER REPLACEMENT by Ruben Grijalva Other publications in The Best of PlayGround series: THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE THE

BEST OF PLAYGROUND–LOS ANGELES (2013) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2012) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2011) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2010) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2009) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2008) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2007) BEST OF PLAYGROUND (2006) 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.

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THE SPHERICAL LONELINESS OF BEVERLY ONION by Katie May

The Best of PlayGround – San Francisco (2013)

SIMPLE AND ELEGANT by Evelyn Jean Pine

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SIGNIFICANT PEOPLE by Amy Sass

Best of PlayGround 2013 (San Francisco)  

An anthology of the best short plays from the 17th annual Best of PlayGround Festival, May 9-26, 2013. Includes works by William Bivins, Rub...

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