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2 some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: “Outbreak”


3 some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: “Outbreak”

some scripts Issue 4 Outbreak


4 some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: “Outbreak”

Copyright © 2021 some scripts literary magazine. All rights reserved. CAUTION: Professionals and amateurs are hereby warned that the scripts present in some scripts literary magazine are subject to use only with the permission of the scriptwriters. All rights, including professional, amateur, motion picture, recitation, lecturing, public reading, radio broadcasting, television, the rights of translation into foreign languages, and any other form of dissemination are strictly reserved by the permission of the scriptwriters only. some scripts literary magazine only retains first North American electronic serial rights or republishing rights to publish these works in this issue and therefore does not own the rights to these works and does not represent the scriptwriters: if you wish to contact a scriptwriter about possible licensing or other use of their piece, their agent or own contact information can be found on the page for “Contributor Bios.” If you have trouble reaching out to them, you may contact somescriptslitmag@gmail.com for further assistance, but some scripts literary magazine cannot give you the permission and rights to use or perform these pieces. In the scripts’ present forms, the scripts are for the reading public only. Publication of these scripts does not imply availability for performance, filming, or further publication. Both amateurs and professionals considering a production are strongly advised in their own interests to contact the scriptwriters or their agents for written permission before starting rehearsals/filming, advertising, or booking a venue. COVID-19 UPDATE: Publication of these scripts does not imply availability for performance over video-calling apps such as Zoom, Skype, etc. Both amateurs and professionals considering a virtual production are strongly advised in their own interests to contact the scriptwriters or their agents for written permission before beginning rehearsals, recording, or live-streaming. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, by any means, now known or yet to be invented, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, videotaping, or otherwise, without the prior collective written permission of all scriptwriters and the editor-in-chief. Each piece that appears in this issue of some scripts literary magazine was subject to an anonymous reading and voting process. All members of the reading team were given the opportunity to express their opinions and vote on each selection, and the staff was required to abstain from voting on their own submission or work they recognized. In the event of a tie, the editor-inchief cast the deciding vote. This issue of some scripts literary magazine was designed and typeset by Alyssa Cokinis in June 2021. The text used is 12-point Courier New. The front cover and back cover photos are the work of Alyssa Cokinis. These photographs are not to be reproduced or republished without the express permission of the photographer.


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Letter from the Editor Dear Reader, We find ourselves still in a worldwide pandemic. Thus, the theme of “Outbreak” emerged quite easily for this issue. “Outbreak,” though, exists in many forms. There is an outbreak of disease, yes, but also an outbreak of love, heartbreak, fascism, racism, Zoom/online theatre, protests, and more. I think worldwide we are collectively realizing that our world must move beyond our individual selves, but that our individual stories can in fact inform our understanding of how this world is interconnected. That interconnection has risen out of imperialism, colonization, and globalization. It has also risen out of the need for community and justice. For this issue, we received over 150 submissions, the most we’ve ever had. Saying “no” to many was quite difficult. It is why so many were said “yes” to: before, it was easy to only include 810 of the best pieces. Now, that number must grow. some scripts remains dedicated to uplifting the work of new and emerging playwrights, as well as playwrights who are well-known but seeking a new platform. We want to bring attention to traditionally marginalized voices of BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and women too. As an LGBTQ+ person, this is my ultimate goal as editor. What you will find in this issue: • a variety of monologues, two of which are about the lives of essential workers during COVID-19 • Zoom plays galore! Zoom plays are valid in their own right! • an array of stage plays with so many different rich characters to dig into • a screenplay that truly breathes on the page • a quirky and entertaining radio play • an essay about how Zoom is not spontaneous for live theatre • an interview with playwright Rachael Carnes, a writer I respect and who has previously contributed to Issues 2 & 3 This issue was so hard to put together but so worth it. These scripts truly live on the page. They are literary. They are worthy of that title. I will always believe that. It’s why I started some scripts to begin with. Thank you for your patience on this issue. Stay healthy and well and creative, Alyssa Cokinis some scripts Founder & Editor-in-Chief


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A Note on Formatting for Issue 4 All things change at one point or another. If you resist change, then what are you holding onto? Despite the lovely font that Courier New is (and its universality between standard stage play and screenplay manuscript format), that won’t be the case for 99% of the pieces in this issue. Only two pieces—Juliette Sigmond’s screenplay Kind to the Dead and William Harper’s IS—will retain the Courier New font, as I don’t feel a screenplay or radio play can truly be presented in any other font. As for the stage plays and monologues, they are presented in Times New Roman font, size 12, with character names flush to the left and the dialogue immediately following it. Stage directions are formatted double-spaced from lines of dialogue and tabbed over twice in parentheses. Exceptions to the stage play format include The Sword of Kenau by John Paul Mandryk and “Big Breath” by Elizabeth Gjelten preserve their poetic play formats. Due to the number of pieces we accepted, this issue is quite long. In order to keep the issue under 300 pages, I decided that major structural formatting changes were needed. I hope they serve your reading experience well, but feel free to drop a line of feedback to somescriptslitmag@gmail.com if the changes weren’t working for you. :) If you appreciate the work done to present this magazine, please consider a donation to some scripts via PayPal, Ko-Fi, or Venmo (@scandalyssac). (If using Venmo, please specify “some scripts” so I can allocate funds to the magazine.) Formatting is a one-person operation, but I’m happy to do it to present these lovely scripts to the world! You will be credited on our website and in the next issue if you donate to keep us going!


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Table of Contents Letter from the Editor // 5 A Note on Formatting for Issue 4 // 6 Rafael Duarte Oliveira Venancio // Essay // Zoom is not spontaneous // 9 Michael Galligan // Zoom Play // F***boi Healing Circle // 11 Donna Latham // Monologue // Lunch Lady // 21 Lindsay Partain // Monologue // The Lipstick // 22 Bryan Starchman // Stage Play // The Canaries // 25 Dane Rooney // Stage Play // Faustus and the Soliloquy // 36 Jessica Durdock Moreno // Zoom Play // Funeral // 44 Juliette Sigmond // Screenplay // Kind to the Dead // 53 Elizabeth Gjelten // Monologue(s) // Big Breath // 85 Jen Huszcza // Zoom Playlet // The Burger King // 96 John Paul Mandryk // Stage Play // The Sword of Kenau // 99 Rich Rubin // Stage Play // What We Did in Quarantine // 132 Lavinia Roberts // Stage Play // The Birds Are Watching Us // 134 Marina Koestler Ruben // Stage Play // Outbreak/Breakout // 137 Isabelle Chirls // Monologue // Pre-Mortem // 140 Saeb Mir // Stage Play // The 40th Man or the 28th Woman // 142 Aaron Leventman // Stage Play // The Boy // 145 Zachariah Ezer // Stage Play // Blaxploitation // 152 Lavanya Chakradhara // Monologue // The Harlem I Know // 177 Louis Fantasia // Monologue // World Class // 179 Elijah Vazquez // Stage Play // Exhibit 2020 // 185 William Harper // Radio Play // IS // 190 Donald E. Baker // Monologue // Intestate: A Covid-19 Monologue // 208 Jennifer O’Grady // Monologue // Closet Cat // 210 Julie Weinberg // Stage Play // Buttercup’s Lament // 211 Javin Pombra // Stage/Zoom Play // The Recommendation // 219 Michelle Kuchuk // Zoom Play // The Moochers // 227 John Ladd // Stage Play // Not Here, You’re Not! // 233 Vladan Kuzmanović // Excerpt of 50 Conceptual Pieces // 237 Coni Koepfinger // Stage Play // Josie Divine in the Bardo // 241 Monica Raymond // Stage Play // 13 Short Plays for Elijah McClain // 255 Playwright Interview: Rachael Carnes // 260 Contributor Bios // 264 Acknowledgments // 271

Email: somescriptslitmag@gmail.com Website: http://www.some-scripts.com/ Twitter: @some_scripts Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/somescripts Instagram: @somescripts


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TRIGGER WARNINGS Please be warned that the following plays, screenplay, radio play, and monologues contain instances or references to the following: the COVID-19 pandemic and its collective trauma, white violence, the institution of slavery, domestic violence, the AIDS epidemic, anxiety/mental illness, immigration, suicide, or possibly more sensitive topics. Reader discretion is advised. For trigger/content warning on specific pieces, please feel free to email somescriptslitmag@gmail.com with questions. Please take care. <3


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ZOOM IS NOT SPONTANEOUS: A PSYCHODRAMATIC APPROACH TO VIRTUAL THEATER An essay by Rafael Duarte Oliveira Venancio The COVID-19 pandemic posed a challenge for humanity in 2020. “Stay safe.” “Stay healthy.” “Stay home.” However, staying at home, people could not go out and go to the theater. So, what was the solution found by the world of theater? Enter people's homes. Simple, isn't it? Not really. To enter people's homes, the theater needed to find a way to differentiate itself from TV, cinema and other audiovisuals that are traditionally distributed and present in homes around the world. What was the solution found? It was to follow the novelty that people found to remain present, but socially distanced. In other words, use digital video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Google Meet, to present plays that were called “virtual theater”. It was a way of doing live theater, spontaneous and that would be distinguished from the well-known “filmed theater”, audiovisual works that film theatrical performances with cameras pointed at the stage (such as the famous “Beckett on Film” of the BBC). Only, as the months passed in 2020, something became clear. Zoom did not seem to be able to handle the theatrical experience. It was difficult to give vent to the theatricality and catharsis expected in a play. What is the reason for this? It seems to me that there is at least one: Zoom is not spontaneous. What do I mean when I use the word “spontaneous”? The first to speak openly of spontaneity in the theater was Jacob Levy Moreno (1889-1976), the Romanian-American psychiatrist and dramaturg who is known as the “father of psychodrama”. Psychodrama is a therapeutic way of using the human's innate theatricality as a form of selfknowledge, conflict resolution, as well as the elaboration of psychological pain. Psychodrama arose from the activities and reflections of J. L. Moreno in his youth in Vienna, Austria, at the beginning of the 20th century, where he founded the Stegreiftheater, the Theater of Spontaneity. With theatrical approaches that sought the daily routine, as well as an appeal to the audience's participation, his approach to a theater “made live”, “without text” and “putting in scene social relations” impacted many theatrical scenes. One of the most famous was the Brazilian, where Augusto Boal appropriated many ideas for his “Theater of the Oppressed”. Spontaneity would be the way to save the theater. Moreno says, in his book “Theater of Spontaneity”, that “drama is a thing of the past, an overcoming reality. Conventional theater is, at best, dedicated to the cult of the dead, of dead events - a kind of resurrection rite ”. The solution for him is simple: “I built a stage for the new theater [of spontaneity] (...) allowing unlimited movement instead of limited, open to all sides instead of just one. (...) In the theater of my dreams, every detail changed, not just the structure of the stage. The actor's Self and his spontaneous creativity came first ”. Zoom does not allow freedom for speakers. In fact, like a gallery of windows from our homes, we are stuck in frames that flash yellow and “zoom in” when one or the other speaks. The theater that, throughout the 20th century, struggled to be fluid, unlimited, following Moreno's ideas


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a little bit, is trapped in the digital video conference platforms and with internet connectivity problems. Despite all the marketing involved and its usefulness to the business world, Zoom and Google Meet do not connect people. At least, do not connect people in the way the theater wants. Thus, the “virtual theater” needs more fluid digital platforms, where the “windows” break and have a real stage. Theater is not cinema. Theater is not TV. Theater is drama in the most Aristotelian conception possible: drama as action. So there is a double appeal here. To programmers and staff in the IT world: think of a platform that incorporates the theatricality and spontaneity inherent in the theater. Call the theater people to audition it, to beta test it. The "virtual theater" or "remote theater" can be a profitable way of making art in the future, even in the scenario where the "new normal" is very similar to the "old normal". To theater makers: let's think about how to make the most of virtual theater situations. We are not going to think of actors just as "parrots speaking their lines". We are not going to think of playwrights just as “video conference conversation writers”. We are not going to think of scenographers just as “builders of static virtual backgrounds”. We are not going to think of directors just as “conductors of the Zoom gallery mode”. Let us be inventive, creative and bring catharsis to Zoom, while our IT friends don't come up with better platforms. Zoom is not spontaneous; however, human beings are. We will have this in focus when we do virtual theater from now on.


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F***BOI HEALING CIRCLE A Zoom Play by Michael Galligan AT RISE: KARA is alone in a Zoom room. She’s talking to someone in her real room off screen. KARA: Can I have the room for a bit, Christine? Yes, it’s the healing circle. Fuckboi Healing Circle. I didn’t name it that. (More murmuring from of screen.) KARA: It’s our last session. None of them are ever on time. Sometimes Tyler comes on time actually. But then he just wants to ask about you and me. (More murmuring. Unbeknownst to Kara, ROD has silently entered the Zoom room. He is creepily present and quiet from the moment he enters.) KARA: They are making progress For some of these guys, I think they’re dealing with real trauma. Remember the veteran’s group? No, I’m not saying it’s a direct comparison -I just -Inability to share, to process complex emotions, coupled with a deep sense of brotherhood? I mean, what if I could actually help them? (ROD sneezes.) KARA: (startled) Oh, fuck. I didn’t let you out of the waiting room, Rod! (ROD shrugs.) KARA: Did you, uh, hear me… talking to my partner? (ROD takes a sip from a water glass. The sip makes more noise than one would think possible.


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Somehow, this answers the question.) KARA: Oh, here’s Tyler. (KARA clicks the “admit” button. TYLER joins the Zoom room.) KARA: Welcome, Tyler. TYLER: Sorry I’m late. KARA: It’s okay. TYLER: It’s not though. It’s not okay. Your time is precious. You could have been off having a wonderful time with Christine. KARA: Really. It’s fine. (Beat.) TYLER: I think it’s awesome that you’re gay. ROD: Where’s EJ? KARA: I’m sure he can catch up. Let’s take a deep breath, just like every week. Inhale. (The group takes a deep inhale.) KARA: And exhale. (The group exhales collectively. ROD exhales on a melodious “Ahhh.”) KARA: (pleasantly surprised) That was so expressive, Rod. TYLER: (to ROD) What the fuck, dude? KARA: Is something wrong, Tyler? TYLER: First breath is just a deep exhale. KARA: Right, but Rod felt the urge to vocalize and I think that’s wonderful. Did it feel wonderful, Rod? ROD: It did. TYLER: That’s not how it works, fam.


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ROD: I felt wonderful. TYLER: No, you’re out here flexing cause you think Kara likes you more // than she likes me (KARA shakes a rattle stick. This quiets Tyler.) KARA: Do you feel that? Let’s take a second to feel the tension creeping into the room. (They try to feel the tension. EJ enters the Zoom call, loudly.) EJ: (to someone of screen) I don’t know? Learn how to paint? Just shut up. Ugh, my stupid ass brother. KARA: EJ, Let’s try to remember to avoid taking space when we enter it. EJ: (to his brother) Hey Skylar, take up less fucking space! Okay. Reset. First inhale. (EJ breathes in, very deeply.) KARA: So... Last week got violent. ROD: Violent? KARA: You dropped EJ on a trust fall, Rod. He could have really hurt himself. ROD: I didn’t trust him. EJ: Trust you’ll catch these hands next time I see your ass off Zoom, dawg. KARA: Well, okay. Hold on. This is why I’ve made the difficult decision to transition our final meeting to Zoom. So that we can attempt vulnerability without escalating to physical violence. There are clear boundaries here, And I think that’s good. I think those boundaries might actually connect us. TYLER: Genius, Kara. KARA: Rod. As one of the perpetrators of violence last session, I’d like you to offer something before we continue.


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(ROD’s mouth moves but no sound comes out.) TYLER: You’re on mute, dude. (ROD’s mouth keeps moving.) KARA: Rod. You need to unmute yourself. (ROD clears his throat. We can hear it.) ROD: (quietly) I wasn’t on mute. I was trying to do what we talked about and take up less space. KARA: ...So you whispered? ROD: Barely. (Beat.) TYLER: Cringe. KARA: Has anyone else found ways to consider how much space they take? TYLER: Me. I have. KARA: Go ahead, Tyler. TYLER: Well. I don’t often go to the woods, they’re kind of fucked up? Like, who actually goes there? But I figured with the chastity promise we all made and the fact that nobody came up on Tinder with my distance range in the woods I figured it was a good place to be. KARA: How far into the woods did you go, Tyler? TYLER: Sixty miles. That’s the maximum distance on Tinder. EJ: Bumble lets you go to a hundred. KARA: Keep focus. (Beat.) TYLER: So it was really hard at first No one to talk to I forgot a book So I just started looking at this tree


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And was like, damn trees have… Kind of amazing posture? (Beat.) ROD: Wait. Isn’t using Tinder a violation of the chastity vow? TYLER: Me? EJ: It’s a requirement of the program, bro. TYLER: You think I’d break a promise to Kara like that? KARA: Wait, woah. No. What? That was completely you guys. ROD: What? EJ: No way. TYLER: It was your brilliant idea! KARA: It wasn’t, though. TYLER: Fam. KARA: I have the recording. You guys got really excited about it. You even quoted a Greek play, Tyler. Here, let’s see… (KARA shares her screen to play a video recording. It’s the three of them in a room together, from a few weeks ago. Maybe some Ancient Greek-inspired virtual backgrounds. KARA’s screen is empty in the recording.) ROD: No way, guys. A vow of celibacy? EJ: Maybe it would help us heal. ROD: What would we have to do? TYLER: All we have to do is idly sit indoors Our bodies burning naked through the fold. Their stirring love will rise up furiously, And they will soon be rabid for a Peace. ROD: Oh dude, is that Lysistrata? TYLER: It was actually women saying that in the original, about men. But I figure it probably works both ways. (KARA comes back to the screen.)


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KARA: Alright, sorry everyone. Did I miss anything? (End of recording. Back to the original Zoom.) EJ: So like… why did we do it again? ROD: We’re trying to reduce harm. EJ: When you dropped me were you reducing harm? ROD: To women. Reducing harm to women. KARA: I have a radical proposal. TYLER: Give it to us Kara, no cap. KARA: My proposal is: TYLER: Drrrrrumroll... KARA: Trust falls. TYLER: Over Zoom? KARA: Through Zoom. ROD: No fucking chance. EJ: That’s so classic. KARA: Let’s just give it a chance, guys. ROD: Oh, it’s classic that I don’t want to get hurt again? EJ: You signed up for this, bro! ROD: My cousin did, actually Then he got a fever and couldn’t do it so I took the spot. EJ: I’ll drop your cousin in a trust // fall too KARA: Enough with the threats! EJ: You’re the biggest fuckboy here, Rod ROD: I used to be the biggest fuckboy but now // I’m reformed KARA: (with great intensity) Are ANY of you fuckbois actually trying to heal? (Silence. The fuckbois are shocked.) KARA: We’ve spent six weeks with each other. Six weeks trying to connect. Learning about each other’s deepest secrets Recounting tales of emotional unavailability Learning to express ourselves in deeper ways than just texting “pics” and then, when we get the pics, replying “pics are hot”


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This is the Fuckboi Healing Circle, isn’t it? I know it might not feel like it, but you all have come so far. Did we get trust falls right last time? No, it was a disaster. Do I take responsibility for that? To some degree, yes. But trust me this time. Trust me when I say trust each other. This screen in front of you? It’s the same screen that separates us from our hearts. But maybe that same boundary... Is what can bring us together. (Something in Rod changes. His mouth moves but no sound comes out.) KARA: Rod, you can speak out loud now. (ROD clicks the unmute button.) ROD: My bad, that time I was actually muted. I was saying. Before the healing circle. While Kara was talking with Christine. I heard her say something important. She said that deep down inside of us we are hurt. But that hurt binds us. It binds us like brothers. Like brothers in a war. TYLER: … What’s the battle? EJ: The battle is ourselves. The battle is the harm we cause. The battle needs to end. KARA: (uncomfortable) Let’s feel that. (A long beat.) KARA: I want to qualify what Rod just said. I told Christine that you guys sometimes present symptoms that are // similar to veterans EJ: (inspired) We’re brothers in arms. TYLER: I think I’m tearing up.


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KARA: (with great meaning) Can we do this, guys? (Rod stands up dramatically.) ROD: (to EJ) Do you trust me, dude? (Silence.) KARA: EJ? (The stakes couldn’t be higher.) EJ: I trust you. (The song picks up. ROD falls. EJ prepares to catch him. As Rod falls, his phone camera switches on to track his fall as if it is a close-up. The moment is fully absurd. Rod falls to the ground. The music ends, we return to reality.) KARA: Rod, are you okay? TYLER: Dang. Rod just went YEET. EJ: Even? ROD: Even. KARA: Wait. What? EJ: Damn. I actually feel like, mad comfortable with you now. ROD: Same. KARA: Are you okay, Rod? ROD: Chillin. KARA: … TYLER: I’m gagged, dude. (KARA checks her watch.) KARA: It’s five. We have to end now.


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TYLER: (through tears) No! KARA: We have to end. But you don’t, Tyler. None of you do. (The dudes make a synchronized eye movement together.) ROD: Kara, dude? We got you something. KARA: Oh, I can’t accept // gifts TYLER: We really feel like you’re one of us. EJ: Like, we want to make you feel included. KARA: Wait a second. Guys. TYLER: (producing a pair of flip flops) We got you Gucci slides! (KARA processes.) EJ: Welcome to the fuckboi platoon, dude. (EJ lifts his feet into the camera to show his slides.) ROD: Threesies! (ROD does the same.) TYLER: At what point do you guys think we become fuck...men? (They all anticipate KARA’s response.) KARA: How were you gonna give them to me? TYLER: By passing them to you, silly! (TYLER reaches the slides toward the screen, completely unaware. They bang up against the screen. The fuckbois look at each other bewildered. Maybe they have a bewildered eye movement.) TYLER: (fixated on the fact that his shoes can’t go through the screen) Uh…. ROD: Shit, dude.


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EJ: Well, I gotta run. ROD: Yeah, me too. Yo EJ, which dating app did you say goes to a hundred miles? EJ: Bumble, dude. It’s sick. KARA: (as they leave) Remember guys, This is just the first step! (EJ and ROD both swiftly exit the Zoom room. TYLER is still figuring out what the fuck happened. KARA lets out a frustrated sigh. A long beat.) TYLER: (realizing) Kara? KARA: (head in hands) Yeah? TYLER: ... I think I get what boundaries are now? (KARA looks up, with a glimmer of hope.) KARA: Really? (Beat.) KARA: Christine! (The meeting suddenly ends with a Zoom notification: “You have reached your allotted time.” Blackout. End of play.)


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LUNCH LADY A monologue by Donna Latham ‘Course I’m terrified. Scared shitless. But I got a job to do. While all my kids at Pines High getting schooled at home? I’m working at school. Here, in the cafeteria. Getting schooled at home? Sure doesn’t mean getting food at home. I miss the kids so bad. Miss watching ‘em sprout up like Nutsadge in summertime. Cut-ups with raucous laughter. Quiet ones with shy smiles. Whoops and hollers from all of ‘em on Pizza Day. Coronavirus shut down my whole district. Sent devoted teachers scrambling to teach remotely. Sent kids home to learn on the computer. You know what? Can’t dish out lunch on Zoom. Out here in rural Las Vegas, I’m front line. My foodservice job’s essential. Up to me to be the difference between hungry kids and fed kids. I earn $11.96 an hour, no hazard pay. Though I pray God grants enlightenment to folks holding the wallet. My heart goes out to parents in the struggle. I was right there with ‘em. A single mom back in the day. And now taking care of my grandson Jay, while my daughter works long shifts at the hospital. I ration food at home. Skipped breakfast today, in fact. So I could leave Jay lunch and a snack. I’m determined the sweet boy don’t cry himself to sleep on an empty tummy. I clock in at 5:15 AM. When it’s still dark. And lonesome bullfrogs croak around the school pond for mates. First part of the day is assembly. I put together 640 cold meals for my own school and others in the district. Ham and cheese sandwiches or turkey roll-ups. Aldi O’s and milk. Sliced carrots and dip. I bag ‘em all with love. Then, I slather up with hand sanitizer. Head to the parking lot drive-through line for distribution. Feeds my soul to see those parents and kids. I drop nourishment in beat-up trunks. Watch relief warm their eyes—above masks— as they holler thanks and wave good-bye. Wish to God we had PPE to protect us from COVID. I worry for everyone. For myself, too. What with my diabetes and all. My hypertension. Pray every day our district suits us up. No answer to prayer so far… I made myself and Jay some of them do-it-yourself masks. Stitched ‘em from old t-shirts and ponytail bands. Hope they do the trick. You know, when I was a kid? Didn’t much care for school. I was squirmy and headstrong. Only went to school for one reason. To eat lunch. Didn’t have but Spam and Government Cheese at home. Some days? Not even that. My lunch lady—Mrs. Bullock—was a fairy godmother. A miracle. To this day, I well up when I think of her. Mrs. Bullock flashed a big ole grin. Passed me turkey with fancy Swiss cheese. Pale green celery sticks and a kidsized tangerine. Chocolate milk to wash it all down. Lord, that was heaven! I taste it now. Cold milk coats my gullet with chocolaty goodness. I pray Jesus walks with me today. Keeps me safe as I keep those babies fed. Protects me from spreading disease. Ask that Jesus lets me shine a light in darkness. Before I go home and serve my sweet boy a Cup o’ Noodles. And shiny Government Cheese. There’s plenty I don’t understand. Not just now but always. America’s a powerful, rich country. So folks claim. Sure don’t look that way from my angle. We got 60% of our district qualified for free and reduced lunch. Wonder where all them rich folks live…. I’m essential. Ain’t gonna sit on my round ole rump and fret. I got kids to feed. At home and at school. Think I’ll dump my purse upside down. Shake out all the gummed-up nickels and dimes. Maybe a quarter or two. Visit the Truck Stop and splurge on chocolate milk to surprise Jay. Just because. I’m a lunch lady. And I am scared shitless.


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THE LIPSTICK A monologue by Lindsay Partain (It’s just before sunrise. TABITHA is sitting on the ground with her hands pressing against her side. She’s been bit by a Feeder and is bleeding. For some reason though, she can’t help but smile. Maybe it’s the bite or the sleep deprivation or the dehydration, but she’s a little loopy.) TABITHA: Do you remember our-our first dinner together? It was the first time you had me over at your place. It would be a while before it was our place. (Laughs) I-I remember, I was so excited, I called my little sister and I made her go shopping with me because it was only June and I needed pants because I didn’t want to wear a skirt and get cold out in the backyard. You had promised a fire but you can never trust Oregon weather. You know how it goes. One minute it’s sunny and beautiful and you’re tearing off your clothes to run through sprinklers and then the next minute that coastal wind sweeps through and it brings the rain and the thunder and the rain and the wind and the salt and the rain—god I love it here. It’s a good a place as any to hang my hat. Now don’t go doing anything stupid. Everyone dies. There’s no way around it— eventually the rubber band snaps back and you have to go back to wherever it was you came from. Doesn’t sound too bad, I guess. The dying is the scary part—being dead. That’s easy. I know what you’re thinking: all this for a kiss? All this for an anniversary that doesn’t really matter? Do anniversaries matter when you know that I’m yours? When I know you’ll remember what kind of bread I like or that I know exactly the right way you take your coffee? I guess not. I just wanted to do something special. It’s been such a long time since we’ve had special. Since we’ve done romance or smiles. Now that my candle is about burned out all I can do is smile. Maybe it’s the lipstick. Maybe it’s the company. It’s probably the bite. How does it look? You know what—I don’t wanna know. I could lie if you’d like? Tell you that I don’t feel anything. That it’s gone numb—that I don’t feel the fire under my skin. I can hear your blood. I wonder when it’s too late for you to kiss me goodbye? Will you get sick too if you drink my tears or if I get carried away and taste your mouth? Or is it just a bite? Just the blood? (She grabs her side suddenly and winces.) No—hey, it’s okay—I’m fine—I’m fine— (She breathes heavily letting the pain pass.) I’m fine. See? I didn’t even hear it coming. Usually they’re so easy to track—you’d think the Feeders would be a quiet kill, but man they know how to make a racket. Always knocking into crap. Brains all turned to mush, I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised. That night that I first came over for dinner. My sister helped me pick out jeans and the woman the teenager helping me into the dressing room asked me what I was doing for the rest of the day and I told her “I’ve got a hot date tonight.” You know, I hadn’t been divorced for even a


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year yet—which is probably why my sister was so polite and quiet. I miss her sometimes. Do you remember, you asked me on that first date if I was married! Do you remember that? You had found me online and went through my pictures. Creep. You told me that was fine if I was— like you were gonna be my side-piece or something. You told me I looked beautiful. Which is only weird if you consider the fact that I was wearing a wedding dress meant for someone else. Even from the beginning you made me laugh. Made me smile… You made me feel like my life was more than something I needed to grow away from. That it was okay to be some girl that smelled like horses who was more interested in dirt than she was in Cosmopolitan. And you laughed when I told you I used to sleep in bar booths when I was a toddler because you— you’d only one upped me because you were just some kid born on a couch in a trailer in the middle of the Nevada desert on some dusty horse ranch. You always knew how to make me feel at home. You’re good at that. I’m sorry—no really, I am. This is the dumbest thing I’ll have done in my life because it’s the thing that got me killed but I couldn’t let it go. It’s been such a long time since you smiled at me like you did in your backyard that first night. When you pointed up into the sky and showed me how to spot Jupiter. (She reaches into her pocket.) Poppy. Poppy red lipstick. My trophy. (She takes the top off the tube and puts the lipstick on.) I just wanted to—to feel like a human again. I wanted you to look at me and see that underneath the dirt and the blood—the water stained skin and the sweat—underneath this matted hair and baseball cap—I’m still a human. Still a woman. Ugh—fuck that hurts. I’d say they’re charging an arm and a leg for lipstick these days but I’m pretty sure they took a chunk of my kidney. (She forces a laugh, trying not to cry.) You see—I can still make jokes. You know. I used to think that maybe someday we’d find a pocket somewhere in the woods that hadn’t been touched. We’d build on it and in the mornings I could go out onto our front porch and I’d—I’d bring my cup of coffee out—n’ I’d be bundled up in that magic Mexican blanket of yours—that one your friend tried to buy off you? The one who was shot by his brother. But I’d stumble out onto the porch and sip my coffee in that cool morning air, waiting for you to wake up. I’d listen to the birds and the grass and the house speaking to the earth… and blink hard into the rising sun. I know it’s over now. The world. And backyard dinners… and me. You should go—no, really, I mean it. You should go. I’ve got the gun still, I’m not afraid to end it. I won’t put that on you. I just. I just wanna take a minute. To look around and enjoy. To miss. To think about how cute your butt is and wish that I’d touched it one last time before you left. I just need a minute. One more for myself. To feel like me.


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I’ll be waiting for you on the porch. Don’t come home to soon. I like to take my time in the mornings while you’re asleep. You know where to find me. (The sun rises on Tabitha. Lights Out.) END OF PLAY

**“The Lipstick” was performed by Cone Man Running produced as part of their War of the Words podcast. You can listen to it here: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-war-of-the-words63341416/episode/episode-11-the-lipstick-and-72488132/


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THE CANARIES (A Cautionary COVID Tale Chronicles in Three Scenes) A stage play by Bryan Starchman 1. SCENE: Early March of 2020. One of those islands of refreshment found in every Las Vegas casino: a ring of video poker machines with a bar in the middle. Two salesmen, BRAD and DEREK are in town for a law enforcement convention to sell their wares. They are 40-year-old “bros” who run into each other across the country at these conventions a few times a year; Derek is the alpha. They are dressed in polo shirts, chinos, and each have a cheap briefcase that hold their sample products. The bar is littered with a half dozen Coors lights and shots of Jager. DEREK: (staring at the television over the bar; he picks up two shots of Jager and hands one to Brad) Down the hatch. BRAD: That’s what she said! (They take the shots, grimace as the cold medicinal liquor hits their livers, and sip on the bottles of Coors light. They watch the television for a few moments.) BRAD: Can you believe this shit? DEREK: Dead. Fucking dead. I come to Vegas three, four times a year. I’ve never seen it like this. BRAD: Zombie Apocalypse. DEREK: Last year I got walking pneumonia and I still flew to San Diego for the Border Security Expo and I moved 400 units. You gotta fight through that shit. BRAD: Communists. (They both drink as they watch the invisible television floating somewhere over the bar.) DEREK: Pisses me off. Five and a half hours of travel, not to mention getting to and from the airport. I finally get here and they cancel the convention. BRAD: It’s bullshit. DEREK: And I’d get it if it was like the National Communications Conference or Comic Con or some shit like that-BRAD: Those nerds never shower, let alone wash their hands. That would make sense. DEREK: —but the Las Vegas Law Enforcement Training Conference—


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BRAD: Bullshit man. DEREK: —this is fucking bullshit man! (They cheers their beers and sip. Derek motions for another round.) BRAD: Where are you staying? DEREK: Trump. BRAD: Corner suite? DEREK: Yep. 36th floor. BRAD: Nice! Get the shortribs from room service? DEREK: You know it! BRAD: The best-DEREK: --best room service on the strip. BRAD: Absolutely. DEREK: Where are you staying? BRAD: (looks down, dejected) Stratosphere. DEREK: Dude. Seriously? BRAD: It’s been a rough year. DEREK: It’s March, dude. BRAD: I meant...fiscal...year. DEREK: Oh. Right. Sorry dude. That’s rough. BRAD: It’s fine. They threw in a voucher for the buffet. DEREK: Well...that’s...something! BRAD: Yeah...yeah. All you can eat shrimp. DEREK: Niiiiice. BRAD: (beat) Whatcha selling? DEREK: (holds up his phone) “Give ‘em the Finger”. BRAD: What? DEREK: (flipping Derek off) It’s called “Give ‘em the Finger”. It’s a new app. Here, give me your middle finger.


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(Brad holds out his finger and Derek presses it against his iPhone 11.) DEREK: (suddenly in salesman mode) Latest in Biometrics. No more playing the name game with perps, trying to figure out who they are and if they’ve got a warrant or whatever. BRAD: (suddenly uncomfortable) Dude, I don’t think… DEREK: Takes less than a minute to compare your print against the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and… (The phone makes a little “rejected” noise like a game show buzzer.) DEREK: Dude… BRAD: (nervous) What? DEREK: (hushed tones) Dude...you’ve got a warrant? BRAD: Shhhhh! DEREK: In Amarillo. (reading) ‘Indecent exposure’. What did you do in Amarillo? BRAD: I had to take a piss at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. DEREK: The home of the 72 ounce steak dinner? BRAD: That’s the one. DEREK: I love their ribs. BRAD: The best. DEREK: (suddenly serious) Did you try to make love to a plate of ribs? BRAD: (looking around paranoid) Shut up! (pulls Derek closer) You know how crowded it can get on Friday nights. DEREK: The worst. BRAD: So I’m waiting at the bar for my table and it’s packed. Like I’ve never seen it. I’ve had a few cervezas and I got to piss but there’s a line. So I step outside and I’m pissing by my car and I look up and there’s this Boy Scout Jamboree bus parked right next to me. A dozen eight year olds are watching me drain my snake. DEREK: (busting up) No shit. Peeping Tom Boy Scouts. BRAD: Right? And then...here comes a state trooper. DEREK: Ohhhhh. Don’t fuck with a Texas State Trooper. BRAD: Never. I would never fuck with him.


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DEREK: What did he do? BRAD: He was one of those hardass ex-military types. No sense of humor. DEREK: Did you, “Yes, sir”? BRAD: Yes, sir, No, sir, Whatever the Fuck you Want, sir. I figure he’s going to execute me right there on the spot. But instead he gives me a citation with a court date and went on his way. DEREK: And what did you do? BRAD: Shoved it in the rental car glove box and tried to forget about it. DEREK: Did you go back in for dinner? BRAD: Twenty-four ounce sirloin steak medium rare, baked potato, half a dozen fried shrimp, salad with blue cheese and a dinner roll. Half rack of ribs. DEREK: Pork or beef? BRAD: (as if this is a ridiculous question) Psssshhhh, pork. DEREK: Nice. (beat) But did you wash your hands? BRAD: (wiping his hand down Derek’s face) Never. DEREK: (cringing) You sick fuck. BRAD: I don’t give a shit. This virus is bullshit. Mainstream Media fear mongering bullshit. DEREK: Strong words. BRAD: Fuck this. I’m not scared. DEREK: Me either. I travel 270 days a year. I don’t have time for fear. BRAD: Matter of fact… (He hesitates and then leans down and actually licks the video poker machine.) DEREK: (cringing) Ughhhhh. Dude! BRAD: Germs don’t bother me, man. (He downs his beer.) This is cutting into my livelihood. DEREK: You and me both, brother. You and me both. (beat, watch the T.V., take a shot) What are you selling? BRAD: (opening his case he pulls out what looks like a long leather belt with a buckle on each end) The Survivor Strap. DEREK: Kinky. BRAD: I’ve got contracts with public and private schools in thirteen states. Every time another sad kid who didn’t get enough hugs shoots up a school, my sales go up. DEREK: How does it work?


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BRAD: You tighten one end around the doorknob inside a classroom and you tighten the other end around something heavy like a teacher’s desk or a hook drilled into a wall stud, whatever you can find. Makes it impossible for the shooter to open the door. DEREK: But...what if the door opens into the classroom? BRAD: Yeah, well, you see, then… (realizing the problem) ...then you’re fucked. It’s not— DEREK: It’s not foolproof— BRAD: —foolproof. No. (beat) No one’s ever asked that before. DEREK: Sorry, man. BRAD: (looking at his once beloved product in a new light) It’s cool. DEREK: (trying to cheer him up) Hey, you want to head over to Margaritaville? Nickelback cover band tonight. BRAD: Fuck yeah! I love the Nickel. DEREK: The best. BRAD: The best! (They high five, take a sip, watch the T.V., lights fade to black.)

2. SCENE: Lights up a moment later. Same actors but now it is July 1606 and they are standing outside of the Globe Theater in London. They are dressed in burlap rags and both have crude boxes holding their wares. Accents reminiscent of Monty Python are encouraged. BRAD: (greeting Derek) Well be with you, gentleman. How dost thou fare? DEREK: Knock it off! BRAD: Sorry. DEREK: You get one role as a spear-holder in the Tragedy of Julius Caesar and you think you’re a bloody thespian. BRAD: Willy said I was quite good! DEREK: William Shakespeare said you were good? Holding a fucking spear? BRAD: Well...his assistant said that William said the ensemble was solid. So, by association… DEREK: And that was, what, seven years ago? BRAD: Aye. 1599. DEREK: And since then how many spears have you held, other than your own every night?


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BRAD: It’s this damn plague. Makes it hard to be an artist. DEREK: An artist. Jesus Christ. You held a bloody spear! You were set dressing! BRAD: Alright, alright. No need to get nasty. DEREK: I’m sorry. I am. It’s just...this is horseshit. BRAD: I know… DEREK: Not even forty people have died yet… BRAD: It’s up to thirty… DEREK: More than that choke on their dinners every week. Thirty dead and they close the theatres. BRAD: It’s the law now. DEREK: It’s a disgrace. A man can’t put bread on his table because his royal highness is scared of a spot of plague. (He pulls out a wineskin and takes a long drink.) Well up his arse. I’m not staying home when I’ve got the cure. BRAD: (suddenly interested) Whatcha selling? DEREK: (holding up a small earthenware bottle) Treacle! BRAD: Ohhhhhh. How old is it? DEREK: (removes the stopper and sniffs the sweet concoction) This batch is twelve years old. Bought it off a witch outside The Saint George Inn. Says she’s been hiding it under a bridge since 1594. BRAD: How did you know she was a witch? DEREK: She was old and had a wart on her nose. BRAD: So did your first wife. DEREK: Don’t remind me. BRAD: I must say that’s some shaky provenance. DEREK: Alright, son. What have you got? BRAD: (holding up an “onion” and a dead chicken) Onions and chickens! DEREK: You feed a cold, you starve a plague. BRAD: Not for eating, you muppet. Everyone knows you rub an onion on the boils and then you rub a chicken on the swollen nymph loads. DEREK: Not nymph loads. It’s lymph nodes. Did you get hit in the head as a child? BRAD: ...how did you know? DEREK: (snatching away the chicken and the onion) Firstly. This is a turnip, you twit.


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BRAD: I thought it smelled funny. DEREK: And the chicken has to be alive! BRAD: (snatching the chicken back) Well she was alive this morning but she died mysteriously. (examining the chicken) I suspect...fowl play. (He starts laughing hysterically at his own joke.) DEREK: Stand away from me. You’re hurting my business. (Brad continues to laugh and then starts to hack, a deep, disturbing cough.) DEREK: You alright? BRAD: (gasping) Never better. DEREK: (handing him his wineskin) Here, sip on that to clear your gullet. BRAD: (taking the wineskin) Cheers! (He takes a long draft, licks the last drops off the nozzle and hands it back to Derek.) DEREK: Don’t mention it. (He takes a long drink himself, not even bothering to wipe it clean.) BRAD: (feeling his throat) Where exactly are your lymph nodes? DEREK: Do I look like a physician? BRAD: (starts rubbing the dead chicken on his throat) You know more than me. DEREK: That’s not saying much. BRAD: (ignoring the insult as he reaches down his pants) Looky here. I’ve got a backup cure. (Brad pulls out a nefarious looking bottle.) DEREK: Ohhh, don’t like the looks of that, skull and crossbones and such. BRAD: Right, right. That’s because it’s potassium cyanide. DEREK: Poison?! BRAD: Aye, that’s right. You want to know how it works? DEREK: I think I know how it works. BRAD: (undeterred) See, you get the plague. You’re dying from the plague. You take a drink of this. And you don’t die from the plague! (He grins, quite pleased with himself.) DEREK: Not exactly a cure, is it? BRAD: Whatcha mean? You don’t die from the plague. DEREK: Yes. I understand that. But you do die from the potassium cyanide.


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BRAD: You might. You might get kicked in the head by a horse. You might suffocate in the bosom of a milk maid. You might live to be a thousand years old and then die from exhaustion. Here, there, the other way, you didn’t die from the plague. DEREK: Your logic is dizzying. BRAD: Why thank you very much! DEREK: (shaking his head) You might as well tell sick people to jump off a bridge. BRAD: (looking at Derek in shock) Were you reading my mind? DEREK: Oh for fuck’s sake. BRAD: (pulling out a parchment) I wrote a pamphlet! DEREK: You can’t read. BRAD: I drew a pamphlet! DEREK: (snatching it away) Let me see that. (starts “reading”) BRAD: (pointing out the finer details) You see, that’s you. DEREK: That’s me? BRAD: Well, the “royal” you. DEREK: What does that mean? BRAD: I’m not sure, but imagine that’s you. DEREK: And that big black thing around me? BRAD: That’s the plague. DEREK: And that there? BRAD: Tower of London. DEREK: And how exactly am I going to get to the top of the Tower of London? BRAD: It’s just a suggestion. Anything tall would do. A bridge. A castle. A Welshwoman. DEREK: Alright, and these arrows drawn here? BRAD: That is the angle of trajectory. DEREK: And this red mess here? BRAD: Your insides. Now on your outsides. DEREK: So you’re selling a pamphlet— BRAD: —five pence for one, twelve for two—


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DEREK: —instructing that people with the plague can cure their symptoms by jumping off something tall? BRAD: That’s right. DEREK: This is your miracle cure? BRAD: Well I’m an atheist. Don’t really go in for miracles but... if the shoe fits. DEREK: You’re not wearing shoes. BRAD: Had to sell them to pay for the printing. DEREK: And how many did you have made? BRAD: Well I took it over to Gutenberg. Minimum order of one thousand. But at five pence apiece, five thousand pence, that buys an awful nice pair of shoes. DEREK: (handing the pamphlet back) Brilliant. Good luck with that. BRAD: You can keep it, friend. DEREK: (pressing it into Brad’s hand) I think I’ve memorized it, friend. BRAD: Ahhhh. Quick study. Very clever. (Awkward silences as they stare at their “cures,” then stare at the empty streets.) DEREK: Never seen London so quiet. BRAD: It’s dreadful. DEREK: I hear there’s a group of sailors down at the docks shitting blood. BRAD: Well that’s a promising lead! DEREK: I’ll take you to them but you have to let me sell my treacle first. Then you can rub them with your chicken and turnip if you like. BRAD: Deal! DEREK: When we’re done you want to go see if the bear baiting pit is open over by the Swan Theatre? BRAD: I hear they’ve got a mastiff the size of my second wife. DEREK: Bear baiting is the best. BRAD: The best! (They start to gather their things to head off to the docks. Lights fade to black.)


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3. SCENE: Lights up a moment later. Same actors but now it is 66 million years ago, and they are both Tyrannosaurus Rexes standing in what would be modern day Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula. They are dressed in basic plush T-Rex hoods and hold their arms up against their chests in typical T-Rex fashion. They are staring up at an asteroid. BRAD: What’s up? DEREK: How you doing, bro? BRAD: Will you look at that thing? I’ve never seen an asteroid that looks like that. DEREK: Brontosaurus shit. It’s smaller than the sun and that thing burns us every day. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. BRAD: Terry said it’s bigger than it appears. It could really do some damage. DEREK: Terry said that? Seriously? He’s a triceratops. All triceratops are known liars. Come on Brad, you know that. BRAD: I know, I’m just trying to be cautious. DEREK: I migrated all the way to Cancun for Spring Break and I haven’t seen a single set of TRex titties. Seriously. What. The actual. Fuck, man. BRAD: They’re all hiding in the caves. DEREK: And that’s fine, I can dig a cave party but Cancun is known for its beaches. It’s like going to the rainforest and ignoring the angiosperms. BRAD: Huh huh huh. You said “sperms”. DEREK: Shut up, shut up, shut up. There’s Brenda. BRAD: Didn’t you guys used to date? DEREK: Yeah, but that’s like ancient history. BRAD: Dude. She’s your Tyrannosaurus-Ex. DEREK: I hate you. (A foxy dinosaur walks by in the distance that only they can see. They play it cool and wave at her with their stumpy arms and nod their ridiculous heads.) DEREK: ‘Sup. BRAD: Looking good, Brenda. DEREK: Looking damn good, girl. BRAD: You look Dino-mite


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DEREK: Dude. Don’t. BRAD: Think I can throw this coconut over that volcano? Huh? You bet Jurassican. (You Bet Jurassic Can...You bet your ass I can...it’s not a great joke). DEREK: Seriously. Stop it. BRAD: Don’t run off like a scaredactyl. DEREK: Dude. You scared her off. BRAD: I scared her off? There’s a giant ball of molten rock headed straight for us and I scared her off? DEREK: Just...the next time a Cretaceous cutie walks by, can you try to play it cool? BRAD: Alright, I got you. (They scan the beach for babes. Awkward silence and then...) BRAD: Hey...hey Derek. Derek. Hey...hey...hey. Hey Derek? DEREK: WHAT!?! BRAD: Why can’t you hear a Pterodactyl go to the bathroom? DEREK: (deep sigh) I don’t know Brad. Why can’t you hear a Pterodactyl go to the bathroom? BRAD: Because...the “P” is silent. BAHHHHH HA HA HA! DEREK: I wish your jokes would go extinct. BRAD: Is it getting hotter out here? DEREK: Is this another stupid joke? BRAD: No, I’m serious. It’s getting toasty. (There is a rumbling sound that shakes the entire stage, it should be felt throughout the audience as the actors' faces become brighter and brighter. They stare up at the asteroid.) DEREK: Ohhhh… DEREK and BRAD: (together) FUUUUUHHHHH—

BLACK OUT


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FAUSTUS AND THE SOLILOQUY A stage play by Dane Rooney (LIGHTS. An alleyway outside of an apartment building. THE SOUNDS OF NEW YORK CITY. A homeless MOTHER and DAUGHTER search trashcans in the alley. THE SOUND OF A POLICE CAR.)

MOTHER: Shhhh.

(Then they continue to search for food. AN ACTOR enters the stage from the apartment building with a trash bag.)

MOTHER: Quiet.

(THE ACTOR walks toward the alleyway. THE MOTHER moves the DAUGHTER.)

MOTHER: Hide.

(THE MOTHER and DAUGHTER hide. THE ACTOR goes the other trashcan, looks at the lid.)

ACTOR: Lazy neighbors...

(THE ACTOR puts the trash in the can and picks up the lid. He lingers and lights a cigarette. He rehearses the final soliloquy from Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.)


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ACTOR: “Ah Faustus, Now hast though but one bare hour to live, And then thou must be damned perpetually.” DAUGHTER: Eww. MOTHER: Shh!

(A LOUD CAR goes by. The ACTOR is not phased.)

ACTOR: “Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven, That time may cease, and midnight kever numb—uh, never come. DAUGHTER: Mom, what is this? ACTOR: (to self; remembering) Uhm… MOTHER: Shhh. ACTOR: Fair? Fair. “Fair Nature’s eye, rise, rise again, and make Perpetual day, or let this hour be but A year, a month, a week, a natural day, That Faustus may repent and save his soul.” (THE ACTOR pulls out a script.)

ACTOR: (reading) “O lente, lente currite noctis equi!” DAUGHTER: He doesn’t even know the Latin. MOTHER: Quiet! ACTOR: Hello?

(THE ACTOR takes out his phone and shines the flashlight app on the Mother and Daughter.)

ACTOR: Oh my god! DAUGHTER: Yo, we’re not gonna hurt you— ACTOR: YOU—SCARED ME MOTHER: We’ll just be on our way—come on—


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DAUGHTER: Mom—We should help him—you got an audition or something? ACTOR: Help me? DAUGHTER: Yeah, help. ACTOR: Do I need—? DAUGHTER: “Fair Nature’s eye—RISE! RISE AGAIN!”—hahaha! ACTOR: Uhm— MOTHER: What my daughter means is: we’re going. DAUGHTER: Mom! What my mother means is: we can help you—with the soliloquy. ACTOR: Soliloquy? MOTHER: Faustus’s final soliloquy. The monologue… ACTOR: Oh, the monologue! DAUGHTER: Faustus. Marlowe. ACTOR: Yeah! Oh. Oh, yeah? You can help? DAUGHTER: “Fair Nature’s eye, rise, rise again, and make Perpetual day, or let this hour be but A year, a month, a week, a natural day, That Faustus may repent and save his soul. O lente, lente currite noctis equi! The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike, The devil will come, and Faustus must be damned.” (THE ACTOR applauds her.)

ACTOR: Bravo! Holy shit—that was amazing. DAUGHTER: My mom taught me everything I know. ACTOR: You’re really good. MOTHER: Did you translate the Latin? ACTOR: The Latin? DAUGHTER: The Latin in the soliloquy? ACTOR: Oh, you mean, uhm, “O lente, lente”? I thought it was Italian. DAUGHTER: Oh my god. MOTHER: It means, “Slowly, slowly run. O horses of the night”.


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ACTOR: Oh. DAUGHTER: It’s from Ovid’s Amores. ACTOR: Oh, shit. DAUGHTER: So, yeah—you were a bit much. ACTOR: Really? MOTHER: You rushed it. ACTOR: I rushed it… DAUGHTER: It means “slowly,” man. Slowly. Faustus wants his final hour on Earth to move as slowly as possible. You should embody that idea. ACTOR: Yeah… I should, shouldn’t I? DAUGHTER: Yes. MOTHER: Yes. ACTOR: How do you guys— DAUGHTER: (feigned offense) How do we…? ACTOR: How are you able— DAUGHTER: (feigned offense) Able? ACTOR: Uhm… uh, why do you—I feel bad asking— MOTHER: She’s teasing. I was an actress. DAUGHTER: Before everything changed. ACTOR: Oh. DAUGHTER: And I’m going to be. ACTOR: Well, you should be. You’re damn good. DAUGHTER: Thanks. I’m still in high school, but after that… who knows, ya know? ACTOR: You never know. MOTHER: You never know. ACTOR: Uhm… so like, uhhh—you can—? MOTHER: Sure. DAUGHTER: We can help. ACTOR: Oh. DAUGHTER: But we have a rate.


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ACTOR: Oh— MOTHER: She’s joking. ACTOR: Oh, haha, so—so like you think… I’m—you think I need help? DAUGHTER: Do you think you need help? ACTOR: I mean—I am struggling. MOTHER: The Soliloquy. DAUGHTER: So, what do you want—notes? ACTOR: I mean, sure. Yeah—yeah, I’ll take notes. MOTHER: We give great notes. DAUGHTER: Actually amazing notes. ACTOR: Cool. MOTHER: So, why don’t you take it from, “Fair Nature’s eye.” ACTOR: Oh, oh, sure—yeah… okay— “Fair Nature’s eye, rise, rise again, and make Perpetual day, or let this hour be but A year, a month, a week, a natural day, That Faustus may repent and save his soul. (too slowly) O lente, lente currite noctis equi! The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike, The devil will come, and...” MOTHER: Okay, let’s hold there— DAUGHTER: Are you cutting it? ACTOR: Cutting it? DAUGHTER: Didn’t you cut the soliloquy at all? ACTOR: Uhm, no, I think we’re doing the whole thing unless someone else cut— MOTHER: This isn’t an audition? ACTOR: Audition? DAUGHTER: Audition. You’re going in for an audition—for Faustus? Right? ACTOR: No—I am Faustus. DAUGHTER: MOTHER: ACTOR: On, uhm,


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Br oa dw ay. MOTHER & DAUGHTER: Broadway? MOTHER: Oh. ACTOR: Oh? DAUGHTER: Oh, no. ACTOR: Oh-no, what? DAUGHTER: Oh, no, no, no—no— MOTHER: Ooo… ACTOR: What? Whatwhatwhat—was I—AAAAHHHH—was I BAD? DAUGHTER: YES.

/

MOTHER: YES. Not “bad,” but—

ACTOR: You think I was bad?? Bad? Likelikelike Bad-bad? DAUGHTER: Yeah—like bad-bad. Sorry, dude. ACTOR: Oh… DAUGHTER: How the heck did you get Faustus on Broadway anyway? You’re a nobody! MOTHER: Now, don’t be mean. But like, actually…? ACTOR: I was in the ensemble, but four of our leads got sick. DAUGHTER: Oh, man… MOTHER: Bringing Broadway back… ACTOR: And… well… I got pushed up to Faustus. Last week. DAUGHTER: Shouldn’t you know the lines if you’re the understudy? ACTOR: Both understudies are out as well. I have no idea what I’m doing. MOTHER: We heard other shows were shut down. ACTOR: Not Faustus. MOTHER: Well, like we said, we give great notes. DAUGHTER: You’re gonna need a full, top-to-bottom therapy session for actors. ACTOR: So, you know Faustus? DAUGHTER: I don’t just have these lines in my skull for nothin’.


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ACTOR: Like you know it-know it? DAUGHTER: Yeah, I know it-know it, man— “Then will I headlong run into the earth: Earth, gape! O no, it will not harbor me. You stars that reigned at my nativity, Whose influence hath allotted death and hell, Now draw up Faustus like a foggy mist Into the entrails of yon laboring cloud, That when you vomit forth into the air My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths, So that my soul may be ascend to heaven. (A CAR BEEPS.)

DAUGHTER: “Ah, half the hour is past:…” ACTOR: (to self) Gasp. DAUGHTER: “…’twill all be past anon. O God, if thou wilt not have mercy on my soul, Yet for Christ’s sake, whose blood hath ransomed me, Impose some end to my incessant pain: Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years, A hundred thousand— ACTOR: Okay, I’m sold. DAUGHTER: Let me finish, man! “…and at last be saved.” ACTOR: (applauding) Wow. WOW. You’re amazing, kid, amazing! So natural. I’m like, so not that. DAUGHTER: We know.

(THE ACTOR starts to cry.)

DAUGHTER: Oh, great. MOTHER: Don’t cry, don’t cry—I’m sure the audiences won’t even notice. DAUGHTER: The critics on the other hand… ACTOR: No—it’s—it’s not that… I’m just [wondering]… Why are you homeless?


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MOTHER: Oh, well… DAUGHTER: We’re only homeless for a few days. MOTHER: Maybe less than a few days. ACTOR: I see… MOTHER: I have a friend who will probably let us sleep in their living room tomorrow night. ACTOR: MOTHER: DAUGHTER: ACTOR: MOTHER: DAUGHTER: Listen, Doc Faustus, you don’t gotta feel bad for us, okay? We feel bad for you— makin a fool of Marlowe on Broadway. ACTOR: Then that settles it. Help me. My fiancé is upstairs and—and I want a Master Class. I want a Master Class that lasts until morning, from the two of you, inside my living room. DAUGHTER: Mom? MOTHER: What will your fiancé say? DAUGHTER: We’ve been safe.

(DAUGHTER puts on her mask.)

ACTOR: My fiancé will be fine. We start previews on Broadway in eleven days—and— And it’s going to rain tonight. Please Teach me how to be great. (LIGHTS FADE. CURTAIN.)


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FUNERAL A Zoom Play by Jessica Durdock Moreno CHARACTERS BRIAN (20’s) man-identifying, any ethnicity. Tyler’s best friend. Because of the global pandemic, he is beginning to slowly buckle from loneliness while quarantining on his own. TYLER (20’s) man-identifying, any ethnicity. Brian’s best friend. Despite the global pandemic, he is managing to have the time of his life while quarantining with his true love. TIME: Summer, 2020. SETTING: Zoom. (A computer screen. BRIAN sits alone in his Zoom window. He waits. And waits. And waits. TYLER’S Zoom window pops on. He’s wasted.) TYLER: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! BRIAN: (Rallying to match TYLER’S antics.) WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! TYLER: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! BRIAN: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! TYLER: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! BRIAN: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! TYLER: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! BRIAN: AHHHHH! TYLER: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! BRIAN: Ahhh! TYLER: AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! BRIAN: (This game is getting old.) ...Yeah! TYLER: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! BRIAN: Dude, I can’t anymore; I’m tapping out. TYLER: Tapping out?! Dude! BRIAN: That was my limit. TYLER: But that was only, like, four “wassups” and three “ahhhs” each! BRIAN: I think you hit your limit, too.


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TYLER: Dude! I’m fucking married! BRIAN: You’re fucking wasted! TYLER: But I’m married! BRIAN: I know, man! Congrats! TYLER: I married your sister! BRIAN: You sure did! TYLER: I love you, man. BRIAN: Love you, too. TYLER: No. I. Love. You. BRIAN: You...too! TYLER: I love you. BRIAN: You sure you married the right sibling? TYLER: Fuck yeah! BRIAN: Okay then! TYLER: Holy shit. We’re brothers now. BRIAN: Yeah, I guess we are! TYLER: BRO! BRIAN: Brother! Bro! Yep! TYLER: Bro! I love your sister, man. BRIAN: That’s great! TYLER: That’s wassup. BRIAN: Sure is! TYLER: I mean, we were tight before, right? But now. It’s official. We’re related! BROOOOOOOOOO! BRIAN: Don’t make me start being grateful for this lockdown now! TYLER: Ha! Good one! BRIAN: I—

TYLER: I—

BRIAN: Oh, sorry—

TYLER: Oh, sorry—

BRIAN: No—

TYLER: No—


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BRIAN: You go—

TYLER: You go—

BRIAN: No, sorry—

TYLER: No, sorry—

BRIAN: No, you go—

TYLER: No, you go—

BRIAN: Holy shit—

TYLER: Jesus Christ.

BRIAN: Dude!

TYLER: Bro!

BRIAN: Go!

TYLER: Go!

BRIAN: Oh, my God!

TYLER: Ahhhhh!

BRIAN: TALK!

TYLER: WHASSSUUUUUUUUUUP?!?!?!?!?!?!

(TYLER’S Zoom video cuts off. A few moments pass. BRIAN waits. TYLER’S video pops back on.) BRIAN: What the fuck was that? TYLER: (Going a mile a minute.) You’re not gonna believe it. So as we’re hiking up the trail to the overlook, Brina, who brilliantly insisted on wearing her heels, not just for the ceremony, but for the whole quarter-mile walk up the side of a mountain, starts to get a blister on her foot. Naturally. So she starts limping, and she’s off balance, and she catches the bottom of her dress on some twig sticking out of the ground or something, and she starts to tumble, and I try to catch her, but I slip on some mud, and I end up going down with her, and I’m wearing my Pop Pop’s Rolex, which doesn’t even work, but, you know, and I’m like, “save the Rolex.” I mean, save Brina, but like, she’s pretty much already on the ground at this point, plus she’s stronger than me, so I’m like, “Pop Pop’s Rolex!” So I catch Brina with my right hand, and I throw the backpack, with our phones and my laptop, to the side--I’m not even looking where it’s gonna land--and I kinda roll onto my back, curling my left hand, the Rolex hand, into my chest for protection, and then I remember your sister, so now I’m like, “save Brina!” So with one hand, like a fucking champ, I grab Brina, and I roll her on top of me, ‘cause I’m thinking: “the dress. Save the dress.” Because she loved that dress, and that’s the right thing to do. So I’m on my back in my suit, in leaves and mud, and your sister is on top of me, and I look at her... And I think... Oh, my God… She’s an angel. She is an angel. I am staring up at, literally, the most beautiful woman in the world. And she’s looking at me. And at first I think she’s pissed. And I think. Welp. What could be worse than a global pandemic except dumping your bride in a patch of mud on her wedding day, right? But she’s looking at me, with this, like, true, genuine look of concern. For me. And all I can think is: how the fuck did this happen? How the fuck did I end up with the most beautiful, kindest, smartest,


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funny-as-fuck...gentlest...most...beautiful girl in the world as my wife? And I can actually see that she cares about me. Like, I can feel it. I love your sister, man. I have never loved anyone or anything more than your sister. And I am going to take care of her for the rest of my life. And I want you to know that you— (TYLER’S video cuts out again.)

BRIAN: ...the fuck?

(A few moments pass. BRIAN waits. TYLER’s video pops back on again.) TYLER: Damn it! BRIAN: What’s with your connection?! TYLER: Did you hear what I said? BRIAN: No! TYLER: Shoot. It was good, too. BRIAN: Why does your video keep cutting out? TYLER: Well, yeah, the story’s not done yet. Get ready for part two. When I tossed the backpack to save your sister— BRIAN: You mean your Pop Pop’s Rolex. TYLER: I multi-tasked: I saved Brina and Pop Pop’s Rolex. BRIAN: Yeah, but you thought of Pop Pop’s Rolex first. TYLER: Only ‘cause Brina is stronger than me and I thought she’d be able to take care of herself. BRIAN: You just said you were gonna take care of her for the rest of her life! TYLER: We hadn’t exchanged vows yet! My actual responsibilities hadn’t officially begun! BRIAN: But Pop Pop’s Rolex doesn’t even work! TYLER: Stop saying Pop Pop! BRIAN: You brought him up! TYLER: WASSSUUUUUUUUUU—!


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(TYLER’S video quickly cuts in and out again.)

BRIAN: Dude, your connection sucks! TYLER: Did it cut out again? BRIAN: Yes! TYLER: Just now? BRIAN: No, just before! TYLER: When? BRIAN: Holy shit. You were telling me the story of the backpack and your computer was in it, and Brina cares about you and shit, and you were about to tell me something. TYLER: I was? BRIAN: Tyler! TYLER: Brian! Right! I was! So when I threw the backpack, which contained my laptop and our phones, from my left hand, to save Pop Pop’s Rolex, and I caught Brina with my right hand, apparently, the backpack rolled down the hill off the side of the trail and landed in a little stream. By the time I got to it, it was soaked through. So now our phones don’t work and my laptop is fucked. So we couldn’t, like, Zoom you all in. Did you hear what I said? BRIAN: Yeah. You threw your backpack in a stream. TYLER: No. Before. When my video cut out. The part about you. BRIAN: No. TYLER: Oh. BRIAN: So? TYLER: Uh... BRIAN: What did you say?! TYLER: I… I don’t remember. BRIAN: Sweet Jesus. TYLER: I’m sorry. BRIAN: Forget it. Probably would have made me uncomfortable anyway. TYLER: I’m gonna remember! BRIAN: Moving on… Where’s Brina? I wanna raise a glass to you both.


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TYLER: She’s passed out. It’s been a long day. BRIAN: I bet. TYLER: She’s been tired lately. BRIAN: Lots to be tired about in the world.

(A moment. Then…)

TYLER: I’m sorry we couldn’t Zoom you all into the ceremony. God, that sounds so stupid... BRIAN: Yeah. We were all wondering what happened. TYLER: I’m sorry. BRIAN: We were all gathered for you. Everybody’s faces. For a minute we thought something might have happened. TYLER: Oh. BRIAN: Yeah. For a second, I thought the worst. TYLER: Like what? BRIAN: ...I don’t know... TYLER: I’m sorry. BRIAN: — TYLER: — BRIAN: But you got it done? TYLER: We sure did. Just the two of us. Alone. On top of a mountain. Covered in mud. She’s so beautiful. We said our little things to each other. And then we were like, “I guess we’re married!” It was kinda perfect. Just the two of us. Us against the world! I’m gonna protect her from everything. BRIAN: —

(Then…)

TYLER: Shoot. So everyone was worried? BRIAN: Yeah, for a minute. Then we figured, well, they’re in the woods, maybe there’s just bad service or the hotspot wasn’t working or something. So my Mom was like, let’s say a prayer for


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them, anyway. Honor the day as best we can. She was like, “they’ll feel it.” She’s crazy. So we prayed. And then your Mom was like, let’s all read the little poems and sayings we had all brought to say to you two. You know, as part of the ceremony. And we started going around, saying our little things. At first it was really...fun. I mean, we were all face to face, kind of. And we were looking at each other, and seeing each other, and hearing each other; all in real time. Like, this thing was happening for real, right? Somewhere, out on some mountain, there was a wedding going on! And we were kind of a part of it. And people were getting emotional and laughing, and there were jokes and such. But then, it started to feel...more like a funeral than a wedding. Because we were all feeling so much and reading all these beautiful words. But you two weren’t there. And then, it somehow started to feel like everybody’s funeral, because they weren’t really there. Then it started to feel like my funeral. Because I was all alone. In this room. All by myself. Like a coffin, or a tomb. And I’m looking through this screen, through this little window, at all these faces. Like an out of body experience. And I can’t feel anybody or touch anybody. Even the words we were saying, they weren’t...landing. Like, when you hear live music, or somebody yells at you in person, or somebody whispers something really close to your ear. You don’t just hear it. You feel it. It happens for real. That’s how you know it’s real. How you know you’re real. Or really there. Sometimes I hear myself talking to myself. Sometimes out loud. Sometimes in my head. But my own words, to myself, at myself… I can’t feel it. And if I can’t feel it, then it’s not real. (Then…)

BRIAN: I—

TYLER: I—

BRIAN: No—

TYLER: No—

BRIAN: No, you—

TYLER: No, you—

BRIAN: You—

TYLER: I—

BRIAN: I—

TYLER: You—

(Then…)

TYLER: What was your thing you read? BRIAN: My thing? TYLER: Yeah, your poem thing. For our wedding. BRIAN: ...No.


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TYLER: Come on! BRIAN: Oh, man. No. Please don’t make me. TYLER: Please? BRIAN: Nah, this is all too Mr. Softee for me. TYLER: What did you just say? BRIAN: Nothing. TYLER: Did you just say this was “Mr. Softee?” BRIAN: Alright, alright. TYLER: Man, this isolation has turned you into a cheeseball! BRIAN: A cheeseball? TYLER: Hey, what’s that smell? BRIAN: What. TYLER: Grilled cheese! BRIAN: Who’s the cheeseball now! TYLER: Maybe gouda? Or a double cream brie? BRIAN: You’re probably smelling my feet ‘cause I haven’t showered in three days.

(Then…)

TYLER: Brian. BRIAN: What. TYLER: Read your poem. BRIAN: No. TYLER: — BRIAN: — TYLER: I’m listening. I’m here.

(BRIAN hesitates. Then he reaches for the piece of paper with his poem on it.)


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BRIAN: Okay...

(TYLER’S video cuts out.)

BRIAN: Tyler? You there, bro?

(BRIAN waits. And waits. And waits. End.)


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KIND TO THE DEAD A screenplay by Juliette Sigmond INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING An old-timey alarm clock RINGS, and BROOKE, a grey-haired woman in her sixties or early seventies and a long nightgown, drags herself out of bed to switch it off. As she switches on the LIGHT, we see that her room, while tidy, is cluttered with vintage-looking objects, including quilts, framed pictures, and a few departed, now stuffed pets that snooze motionlessly in baskets at the foot of the bed. There is an URN on her bedside table with a ring dish affixed to the top. Inside the ring dish is a wedding ring and a tie clip. A plaque on the urn reads: ARTHUR. BROOKE (to the urn) Good morning. She POLISHES the ring and tie clip and places them back in the dish with a little pat. Then, she PICKS UP the URN and carries it with her into the next room. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - CONTINUOUS BROOKE emerges into a LIVING ROOM with a little KITCHENETTE. The décor is much the same: the space is crammed with memorabilia and keepsakes. It is lovingly organized, not one of the many objects gathering dust. She has to weave through it to get to the kitchenette. Despite the clutter, it is a warm, cozy little place. BROOKE fusses around with Arthur's URN on one hip. She sets the KETTLE on to boil and places ARTHUR on the SOFA with two other URNS. There is another one in a nearby armchair. Each one has a name plaque and a ring dish atop it with a keepsake or two inside. BROOKE Morning, all. I believe it's Mama's turn to pick the program today?


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She consults a CALENDAR that is notably more currentlooking that anything else in the house. Her finger lands on a Tuesday. BROOKE (CONT'D) Nope, Aimee's. Sorry, Mama. Your turn tomorrow. She switches on the TELEVISION (it is old and staticky. The kind where you have to fiddle with the antennas) and consults a tall stack of VHS tapes, from which she pulls Frosty the Snowman and pops it into the TV. BROOKE (CONT'D) (to Aimee's urn) There, you'd like that, I think. You always did love the holidays. She sets down the remote and HUMS as she goes through the routine she's probably done every morning for years. POURS herself a cup of TEA. COOKS herself an egg. Sits down to eat at a table with five chairs, but only one place setting. Presently, her rotary PHONE RINGS. She is surprised, but hustles to pick it up. BROOKE (CONT'D) ...Hello? BETH (O.S.) Hi there. I'm trying to reach the operator of the Smith Family Crematorium. BROOKE Oh. Well. I suppose that's me. BETH (O.S.) I'm calling from the county coroner's office. I know you folks haven't been operational for a few years now, but we're in something of a strait over here. We had more bodies come in over the weekend than we can handle at our current capacity, and I was wondering if you would do me an enormous favor and cremate a couple of them at your


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facility. BROOKE Would I have to come and get them? BETH (O.S.) Not at all. I can drive them over to you within the next hour. BROOKE Well. I don't see why not. BETH (O.S.) Excellent. They HANG UP. BROOKE beams. BROOKE A visitor. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - MORNING Outside the house, we can see that, in contrast to Brooke's abundance of '70s décor, it is the present day. The cozy atmosphere of inside the house is also notably absent. A bus passes, chugging smog. Heaps of dirty snow line the sidewalk. Mostly, the street is quiet. A few acres behind Brooke's HOUSE is another structure: the CREMATORIUM that her family once ran. The property is ringed by a picket fence. On the other side of the fence, bordering the property, is a small RIVER with a BRIDGE over it. Beth's TRUCK is crossing this bridge as BROOKE EXITS the house, now in corduroys and a threadbare coat. And perhaps some smudged lipstick. She has colored outside the lines a bit. It's been a long time since she had anyone to look nice for. The truck PARKS at the curb and BETH gets out. She is a careworn woman in her late thirties to early forties. Around her neck is a BANDANA, which she pulls up over her mouth and nose as she approaches the fence. BROOKE opens the gate for BETH, but does not go outside the fence herself.


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BETH Morning. Thanks for doing this. You're really doing me a favor. BROOKE You're welcome. Have we met before? You look familiar to me. BETH You're Miss Brooke, right? I grew up around here. You did both my grandparents' funerals. I remember you snuck me a piece of candy while my parents sorted out the details with your husband. BROOKE Goodness, I'm sorry for not recognizing you-BETH Beth. And don't worry about it. In those days, your family was processing the body of everyone who died in this town. It's probably hard to remember specific faces with that many people coming through. Not to mention, I don't look quite exactly like I did twenty years ago. BROOKE I can't say I do either. Gravity's much more unkind than it used to be (she pinches the soft skin beneath her chin) BETH I never found it all that kind, to be honest. They share a smile. BETH (CONT'D) Are you the only one here at the moment? BROOKE nods.


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BETH (CONT'D) I'll help you get these inside then. She OPENS the hatch of her truck. Inside, we glimpse a stack of roughly body-sized cardboard BOXES. INT. CREMATORIUM - CONTINUOUS The crematorium is full of chrome appliances and tightly shut doors. It is dusty. A heavy DOOR creaks open and BROOKE and BETH enter. BETH is pushing a DOLLY with three cardboard BODY BOXES from her truck on it. They start OPENING the boxes and hefting the BODY BAGS onto one of the steel tables. BETH The Health Department is saying they’re not contagious after death, but I'd still wear a mask while you're working on them. BROOKE Contagious? BETH Yeah, this virus thing is spreading faster than any of us know how to deal with. BROOKE is confused. BETH (CONT'D) You haven't heard about this new virus going around? The reason why everyone is having to stay home all the time? BROOKE I--I guess I don't get out much to begin with. BETH Well, that's good. Trust me, you don't want to get this virus. That's what got these folks, poor things. They place the last BODY BAG on the table The bodies are positioned so that Brooke can slide them into the


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cremation chamber, one after the other, without having to lift them by herself. BETH (CONT'D) Which is also why I should be getting out of here. We're supposed to be minimizing spending time with other people. Just in case things weren't depressing enough already. She makes for the door, but TURNS BACK to look at BROOKE. BETH pulls an extra BANDANA out of her coat pocket and sets it on top of the nearest appliance. BETH (CONT'D) You can use this as a mask until you're able to get some real ones. Just keep your hands and your house clean and you should be okay. Thanks again for doing this, really. She LEAVES. BROOKE WAVES to her, unfazed. Never interacting with living people is more of the same for her. Once the door has swung shut behind Beth, BROOKE CUTS open the first BODY BAG. Inside are the remains of a middle-aged man... Significantly younger than she expected. She does her best to brush this off. BROOKE Hello there. I know this isn't a very pleasant place to be, but we'll get you done here and back to your family before you know it. She begins CHECKING the body over for jewelry, hearing aids, etc. BROOKE (CONT'D) Don't be scared now. I know this probably isn't what you wanted, but it happens to all of us at some point or another. I always thought dying is probably like swimming in the river with your sisters when you were young.


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You're afraid to jump in because of the cold, but once you're in, you find it's not as bad as you feared. She takes off the man's WEDDING RING and places it in a dish beside the table to keep safe. She positions the CORPSE to slide it into the cremation chamber. BROOKE (CONT'D) And once you've crossed the river and you're on the other side, you won't know what you were ever so scared of. Into the CREMATION CHAMBER it goes. BROOKE shuts the chamber door. BROOKE (CONT'D) Don't worry, I'll be right out here the whole time. INT. CREATORIUM - SEVERAL HOURS LATER BROOKE is now sealing shut a small, BLACK BOX of crisp cardstock and packing it into a larger cardboard box. With it, she packs a small bag containing a bridal ring set, a pair of earrings, and some SILK FLOWERS from an open drawer beside her. BROOKE I hope you don't mind fake flowers. The real thing tends to wilt in the box. She CLOSES the box and tapes it shut. A BELL dings. The last body is finished in the cremation chamber. BROOKE pushes a button to open the chamber and removes the ashes. BROOKE (CONT'D) Well done, love. I told you it would be over before you knew it. She carefully pours the ashes into one of the fancy BLACK BOXES and seals it.


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BROOKE (CONT'D) Snug as a bug. She puts the BLACK BOX into a larger CARDBOARD BOX, along with a tarnished class ring and some silk flowers. Then, she places each of the cardboard boxes onto the DOLLY and WHEELS it toward the door. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - CONTINUOUS Brooke wheels the boxes and the DOLLY to the gate of her fence and unloads them just inside the fence, which she leaves propped open. BROOKE Now, Miss Beth will come and pick you up and bring you to your families. There she is now. In the distance, Beth's TRUCK is approaching again. BROOKE (CONT'D) It was nice meeting you all, although I'm sorry about the circumstances. I hope I was able to help you. Be some comfort, at least. BROOKE goes to the DOOR of her house, but doesn't go inside yet. BETH parks her truck at the curb, gets out, and begins to load the boxes in. She spots BROOKE watching and WAVES to her. BROOKE WAVES back, totally jazzed to be interacted with, even in such a small way. BETH finishes loading the boxes into her truck, climbs back in, and DRIVES AWAY. As she does, BROOKE's smile fades, and she turns to go back inside. Alone again. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, BEDROOM - THE NEXT MORNING Brooke's ALARM CLOCK rings, and the groggily turns it off. ARTHUR'S URN is back on her bedside table. BROOKE Good morning. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - CONTINUOUS BROOKE comes out of her bedroom, carrying ARTHUR'S URN, which she sets down in the same spot as the day before.


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BROOKE Your turn today, Mama. She turns on the TELEVISION and flips to the NEWS. one of the antennas is wonky and the picture and sound on the TV lapse in and out of static. BROOKE then goes to the KITCHENETTE, where she takes a clean CLOTH from one of the drawers and starts to run it over some of the many knickknacks. As the static from the TV starts to resolve into discernable words, we hear the NEWS ANCHOR delivering her segment: NEWS ANCHOR (O.S.) ...don't know much yet about how it spreads, except that it is highly contagious. The president is expected to make a statement today... BROOKE Oh, they're talking about that new virus. My friend told me about it. The room at large does not respond to her. The TV briefly lapses back into static. BROOKE (CONT'D) I have a friend. I made a friend. Is that so shocking? A beat. She SIGHS. The urns don't talk back to her. Of course they don't. The PHONE RINGS and BROOKE hurries to pick it up. BROOKE (CONT'D) Hello? BETH (O.S.) It's Beth again. I hate to trouble you two days in a row, but half of my staff is out sick and we got even more bodies in today. Can I impose on you again?


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BROOKE (absolutely beaming) Oh, I suppose. Behind her the TV sound and picture cut back in. NEWS ANCHOR (O.S.) ...for a cure is well underway. Government officials say life should be back to normal by the end of the month. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - DAWN Several months have passed since the last scene; the snow is gone and new leaves are starting to come in on the trees. BROOKE comes out of her house. Her hair is now cut short (astute viewers might be able to tell that she cut it herself). She is wearing a surgical MASK. BETH pulls up in her truck and hops out. Her hair is now tousled and somewhat grown out. She is also wearing a MASK and PLASTIC SHIELD over her face. BROOKE goes to meet BETH at the gate, but still does not step out of the fence. BETH Morning, Brooke. BROOKE Good morning, Beth. How are you today? BETH Not too bad. The county death rate is going down. I have a couple less for you today. She OPENS the hatch of her truck, takes out the DOLLY and starts lowering BODY BOXES onto it. We can tell this has become a well-practiced routine. We can also tell there are significantly more boxes in her truck than the first time we saw her. BETH (CONT'D) I heard on the radio that they think


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the cure should be ready next month. I just hope that means this will all be over soon. BROOKE helps straighten the boxes on the dolly. She is suddenly a little forlorn. She knows that when the outbreak is finally over, Beth won't come here anymore. BROOKE They always seem to be making promises about a miracle cure though, don't they? BETH That's true, I guess. Hey, you still need to tell me the end of that joke from yesterday. BROOKE Tooth hurt-y. BETH has heard this one before (who hasn't?), but she chuckles all the same. You have to find joy where you can in times like these. BETH My turn: what do you get if you teach a pig karate? BROOKE (already delighted) What? BETH Stay tuned for the answer when I come back to pick these up. BROOKE Oh, alright. BROOKE takes the DOLLY from BETH. BROOKE (CONT'D) I think I can get these done by nine. Can you come by around then? BETH Of course.


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BROOKE I'll see you at nine then. BETH See you at nine. BETH gets back in her truck and drives away. BROOKE wheels the DOLLY toward the crematorium, smiling. INT. CREMATORIUM - HOURS LATER Many of the knickknacks and little décor items are now set up in here. It feels about as home-y as a crematorium can. A boombox-style RADIO is emitting some fuzzy oldies tunes. BROOKE is working diligently on one of the bodies that Beth left with her. a small stack of BLACK BOXES already stands in one corner and she is presently preparing the BODY for a young-ish woman for the cremation chamber. BROOKE is carefully removing a TONGUE RING from the corpse's mouth. BROOKE I never liked things like this particularly, but I'm sure it made you happy. I'll make sure it stays with you. I bet you'd like something a little more current. She fiddles with the radio dials until she lands on a bouncy pop song. BROOKE (CONT'D) Better? I've never quite understood this new type of music. She removes a few HOOPS from the cartilage of the corpse's ear. BROOKE (CONT'D) I never had anything pierced either, not even my ears. Not me. I'm not brave enough. I'm the sort of girl who likes things to stay just as they are. But I have to say, these did look nice on you. She drops the hoops into a DISH with the tongue ring and several other little pieces flashing gold and silver.


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She checks the CORPSE over once more for metal pieces, smoothing her hands over the cold skin and running her fingers through its hair very gently. Satisfied, she slides the CORPSE into the CREMATION CHAMBER. As she goes through these motions, the song on the RADIO ends and the DJ begins to read off a news segment: RADIO DJ (O.S.) Well, folks, it's going to be another long month. yesterday, they said the cure isn't far off, but today, government officials are talking about tightening restrictions even further to help stop the spread of the virus. I mean, how much stricter can they get? I'll be taking calls after the break. BROOKE (as she starts up the cremation chamber) I'm sure someone brave like you isn't afraid of this. So... I'll see you when you're all finished. She SITS down to rest for just a few seconds, then STANDS back up and starts cutting open the next BODY BAG. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - LATE EVENING BROOKE pushes the DOLLY stacked with boxes of ashes to the GATE. She leaves the dolly at the gate and starts back toward her house. She is huffing and puffing a bit. Behind her, BETH'S TRUCK pulls over at the curb and BETH gets out to collect the dolly and boxes. BETH (calling to her over the fence) Brooke? BROOKE stops walking and turns back toward BETH. BETH (CONT'D) A pork chop! That's what you get if you teach a pig karate!


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BROOKE snorts with laughter and WAVES to BETH as she gets back into her truck. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - EVENING A few weeks have gone by. The trees are covered in shiny leaves, and Brooke's lawn is starting to look overgrown, wildflowers starting to poke their heads above the grass. BROOKE is pushing the DOLLY, once again stacked with boxes of ashes, toward the gate. She parks it in its usual spot and notices that several GROCERY BAGS are piled on the sidewalk just outside her fence. BROOKE Oh, I forgot I made that order. Without going through the gate, she REACHES for the nearest bag. She can't reach it without going outside the fence. BROOKE (CONT'D) Drat. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - MINUTES LATER BROOKE is using the curved handle of an old UMBRELLA to hook the grocery bags and drag them toward her, so she doesn't have to go outside her property to get them. Most of the BAGS are already on her side of the fence, but this last one contains heavy items, and she is struggling with it. BROOKE Come on, come on. That's it. She starts to hoist the bag up toward her, and throws out her BACK. the BAG falls to the ground as BROOKE staggers, trying not to fall. At the same time, BETH pulls up in her truck and gets out. She pushes through the GATE and steadies BROOKE, trying to touch her as little as possible. BETH Woah there! You alright, Brooke?


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BROOKE Ow, ow, my fucking back! BETH Okay. Can you move? BROOKE ties to move and almost falls again. BETH (CONT'D) We need to get you inside. Stay with me, okay? BETH picks up as many of the grocery bags as she can in one hand and puts her other arm around BROOKE. BROOKE leans against BETH, and they start to hobble toward the house. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - MINUTES LATER BROOKE is slumped on her couch - a couple of urns have been moved out of the way for her - rubbing her back. A few grocery bags are piled on her kitchen table. BETH pushes through the door, carrying the last of the GROCERY BAGS. She sets them down and hovers in the doorway. BETH Are you sure you don't want me to take you to the hospital? BROOKE Yes, yes, it's not the first time I've thrown out my back. I'll be just fine... She tries to make a reassuring gestures and winces in pain at the movement. BROOKE (CONT'D) ...There's a casserole in the fridge. Could you just be a peach and stick it in the oven for me? And maybe put the kettle on? BETH goes to the kitchenette and starts doing as Brooke asked. BETH


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You'll need to wipe down everything I've touched once I leave. BROOKE I will. Thank you, by the way, Beth. It might have been the end of me if you hadn't been stopping by. BETH I'm sure that's not true. You seem like a resourceful person... I have to admit though, hearing you shout the F word threw me for a loop. I didn't think you had a sailor's mouth. BROOKE I didn't, did I? Beth NODS. BROOKE (CONT'D) Goodness, if my mother heard... MAMA'S URN is next to her on the couch. BROOKE puts her hands either side of it as if she is covering someone's ears. BETH (chuckling) I think she'd understand. The dead aren't too judgmental in my experience. And I've worked with a lot of them. They don't tend to make very entertaining company though, do they? BETH has finished the kitchen tasks and is once again hovering in the doorway. BROOKE ...Could you stay a while? I don't know if I can take the casserole out of the oven by myself. BETH I really shouldn't. The infectious disease people are pretty adamant that we're not supposed to spend time in each other's homes.

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BROOKE I won't tell if you won't. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - NIGHT BROOKE and BETH sit across from each other at the kitchen table, the casserole and a bottle of wine are between them, mostly finished. They have both taken their masks off to eat. They are playing YAHTZEE. BROOKE Yahtzee! BETH Dammit! They are using a collection of colorful BUTTONS as gambling chips. Beth PUSHES her pile of them toward Brooke. BROOKE Again? BETH Double or nothing. I've gotta win one of these times. BROOKE rips out two fresh score sheets and hands one and the DICE to Beth. BETH rolls the DICE dramatically, and her arm collides with one of the neat piles of trinkets on the floor beside her, knocking a few items off the top. BETH gets up and tries to re-stack the items. BETH (CONT'D) Jeez, sorry. I'm too much of a klutz to be in here. BROOKE That's alright. I knock things over more days than I don't. BETH I hope I'm not out of line in saying this, but... have you ever thought about clearing out in here a little? I'd hate for you to trip over something and get really hurt. My sister runs one of those services where they come in and help you


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organize and get rid of stuff you don't need, if you're ever interested. I think I have one of her business cards with me. BETH digs in her wallet and hands the CARD to BROOKE. BROOKE sets the card on a nearby piece of furniture. It immediately looks at home among the clutter. BROOKE Thank you. I'll think about it. BETH takes a bottle of cleaning spray from one of the bags she helped bring in and starts to WIPE some of the knickknacks she's touched, before sitting back down. BETH I live alone too -- I'm alone pretty much all the time these days -- so there's almost no chance you'd catch something from me. But just in case. BROOKE I live with my family. But there's not much chance of catching anything from them either. BETH It feels kind of good to break the rules. Makes me feel like a teenager again, smoking cigarettes with Susan Klein behind the high school. BROOKE I remember Susan. My husband caught her sneaking into the crematorium once on a dare. He chewed her out and she threw a rock through our car window the next day. BETH Really? I stopped talking to her ages ago. Not over that, though -- I think I was the one who found her the rock, now that I think about it. Um, sorry. BROOKE snorts and laughs. BETH joins her.


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BETH A lot of us kids were scared of your husband, I remember. Something about the idea of working with corpses all day just freaked us out. 'Course, now it seems as normal to me as brushing my teeth in the morning. Back then, I never thought I would end up in the same line of work. BROOKE Yes, the town mortician does give some folks the creeps. But Arthur was a very good-natured man. He loved card games and joke books. I think the only thing he truly hated in the world was when I guessed the punchline before he could say it. BETH Oh yeah? What was his best joke? BROOKE If I tell it to you now, then it won't brighten up a gloomy work day later on. BETH True. (beat) Speaking of work, I have to be there early tomorrow. I guess I should get going instead of starting another game. She doesn't get up to leave. BETH (CONT'D) Your place feels so... homey. Something about your setup here, it reminds me of when I would come home to stay with my parents during the holidays, back when they were still around. BROOKE It is nice to feel at home, isn't


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it?... Someday, in a few months when a few rounds of Yahtzee doesn't count as rule-breaking anymore... perhaps you could still come and visit from time to time? BETH Careful what you wish for. If your cooking is always this good, you might never get me to leave. BROOKE Oh stop, you'll give me a big head! BETH Really though, I'd love to come by sometimes, when things are normal. A slight PAUSE. Behind BROOKE, her family's keepsakes gleam top of their urns. BETH (CONT'D) It must be kind of tough for you, being all by yourself here. I've only been self-isolating for about six months, and I barely know how to cope most days, to tell the truth. BROOKE It's better than being all by myself out there. (beat. Beth waits for her to elaborate) I looked into a place after Arthur passed on. A little apartment where I could be around lots of other people... but it wasn't for me. I'd rather be in my home. BETH I think I get that. For what it's worth though, you're good company, Brooke. Maybe when things are normal again, I can have you over every so often too. BROOKE

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Oh... I don't know. I'm a homebody. I'm not sure I would even know my way around town anymore. BETH Well, think about it. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - NIGHT BROOKE WAVES from inside the fence as BETH gets into her truck. BETH Back to reality. See you in the morning. The truck door shuts and Beth DRIVES AWAY. BROOKE watches the TRUCK begin to disappear down the road. For the first time, we follow the truck's progress away from Brooke's property, across the bridge over the little river and down a lonely forest road. The camera PANS OUT and we can see the path the truck will take into a SMALL CITY full of empty streets and lit windows. The landscape here is still not as cozy, not as safe as the inside of Brooke's house. But perhaps it is not as forbidding as the grey streets we saw in the very beginning. Above the city, the sky is lit up with STARS. We focus on them for a minute before PANNING DOWN again to see that we are back outside BROOKE'S HOUSE. BROOKE is still standing at the fence. In a moment of impulsiveness, she steps outside the fence, testing the ground with her foot as if checking the temperature in a pool of water. She steps up to the bank of the river, but her sudden boldness does not carry her across the bridge. She stands at the bank, contemplating the stars. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - DAWN BETH'S TRUCK pulls up on schedule. BROOKE is waiting by the fence. It is only by her change of clothes that we can tell she hasn't been there all night. Rather than getting out, BETH calls out through the truck's WINDOW.


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BETH Got a memo this morning: new regulations. We're supposed to keep a fifteen-foot distance at all times now. BROOKE steps back several paces, slightly wilted. BETH hops out of her truck and starts unloading BODY BOXES onto the dolly. BETH (CONT'D) I think I need to be more responsible with these regulations. The statistics are looking really bad right now. They're saying they're almost done working on the cure, so with any luck, it won't be for long. You understand, right? BROOKE Of course. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - LATE EVENING The weather has turned gloomy. BROOKE wheels the DOLLY stacked with boxes to the usual spot at the gate. She has draped her pink raincoat over the boxes to protect them from the drizzle. BROOKE I'll have to leave you all here now. Don't worry though, Beth is very punctual, so you won't be on your own for long. Well... goodbye. She starts back toward her house, turning frequently to check on the boxes and on the road. Just before she goes inside, BETH'S TRUCK pulls up. They WAVE to each other. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - NIGHT The casserole DISHES from the previous night are still in the sink, the first time we've seen part of this space in disarray.


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BROOKE is on the couch with one of her legs propped on the coffee table, a HOT WATER BOTTLE on her knee. She is picking at a plate of leftovers and dusting a little pile of knickknacks she has brought to sit on the couch between herself and the urns. We can see that she has stopped marking the days off on her calendar. She is exhausted. The PHONE RINGS. Brooke has placed it closer to the couch so she doesn't have to get up to answer. She PICKS UP. BETH (O.S.) Hi, it's me... I never asked you for a joke this morning. And I could really use one today. BROOKE Oh. Let me see... She has left one of the joke books sitting by the phone. She picks up and starts to flip through. BETH (O.S.) I didn't wake you up, did I? I know it's getting late. BROOKE No, I'm just finishing dinner now. Are you just getting home now? How late do they keep you at the coroner's office...? She settles back in on the couch. The leg goes back on the coffee table, the hot water bottle back on the knee, the phone receiver held between her ear and shoulder. She is still exhausted, but content. MONTAGE - VARIOUS Quick shots of: 1. BROOKE working alone in the CREMATORIUM, chatting with a corpse. She rubs her sore knee. 2. BROOKE and BETH waving to each other during a morning DROPOFF, fifteen feet apart.


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3. BROOKE dragging the phone around with her while cleaning her HOUSE, chatting animatedly into it. 4. BROOKE cutting open a body bag in the CREMATORIUM. She pulls up a chair so she can work sitting down. 5. BROOKE curled up IN BED, talking on the PHONE as she drifts off to sleep. 6. BROOKE and BETH wave to each other on another DROPOFF, twenty feet apart. Beth is wearing a GAS MASK. 7. BROOKE dragging herself to bed in her room. Her hand reaches for the phone, but she is asleep before she can think of dialing. Arthur's urn is gathering a little dust. 8. In the CREMATORIUM again, BROOKE cutting open one, two, three BODY BAGS. 9. BROOKE in her BEDROOM, stiffly pulling on her nightgown. Her clothes are in disarray on the floor. She reaches for the telephone, but then sees that the clock next to it reads 2:00a.m. She turns the light off. The urn and phone have both gathered a bit more dust. 10. BROOKE and BETH waving to each other on one, two, three morning DROPOFFS, farther apart each time. The dawns are getting darker as summer fades away. In the last couple of these shots, Beth is wearing a HAZMAT SUIT. 11. BROOKE dialing the phone in BEDROOM. She sighs as it goes to voicemail. 12. BROOKE standing in the CREMATORIUM, looking at a pile of body boxes lined up all the way to the back of the room. 13. BROOKE rushing through her LIVING ROOM to make it outside on time for the early morning drop off. As she tugs her coat on, she knocks an URN off a piece of furniture. She gasps, catches it, apologizes, and tries to wipe away the circle of dust it leaves with her sleeve before putting it back. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - DAWN BROOKE hurries outside. The weather is frosty again. Ahead of her, the DOLLY, stacked with body boxes, is already


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waiting at the gate, and a FIGURE in a HAZMAT SUIT is already climbing back into the truck. BROOKE waves. The FIGURE does not wave back. INT. CREMATORIUM - CONTINUOUS BROOKE starts to cut open the first BODY BAG on the table, already huffing and puffing a bit from the walk. BROOKE Goodness me. You'll have to bear with me. I'm running a little ragged these days. She finishes cutting. Her scissors CLATTER to the ground as the corpse's face is revealed. It's BETH. BROOKE bolts for the door, but crashes into the DOLLY before she can make it out. She stands there, not facing the table. BROOKE (CONT'D) (dazed) How rude of me. I'm sorry. She slowly turns back to the table and cautiously approaches it. BROOKE (CONT'D) I just wasn't expecting to see you here, that's all. You startled the daylights out of me. That's alright though, it's alright, it's alright, it's alright... BROOKE checks BETH over for metal pieces, her hands shaking. BROOKE (CONT'D) That reminds me, I meant to send you home with some casserole the other night. I made too much. You'll have to let me know what you think of it. Let's tell a joke. Let me see... why did the chicken cross the road? I know you've probably heard that one, but it's a classic, isn't it? Perhaps you've got a better one...?


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BROOKE can't find any metal pieces on BETH. It is time to slide her into the cremation chamber, but Brooke can't bring herself to do it. She COLLAPSES into the chair pulled up beside the table. BROOKE (CONT'D) You can't hear me. Of course you can't. I've been talking to empty rooms for years now. That probably seems insane, doesn't it? An old lady living by herself but keeping all her deceased family members as imaginary friends. The kids in town would probably be more scared of me than ever, if they knew... I suppose that's part of why I never go out anymore. It's just easier to be at home, ever since Arthur passed on. My parents and sisters had long since passed, and when I tried moving into that place with new walls and new furniture and all those people, all those strangers, I realized that I would have to live in a world that my family wasn't part of. Like they'd never existed. So I bought my house back and moved right back home. I've never been good with change, as you know... So even though none of you can hear me, I still talk to you just in case there's the tiniest chance that you can. That part of you is still here... I always tell people who come through the crematorium not to be afraid, but the truth is, I'm terrified to die. I don't want to leave my home to go somewhere new. Not all by myself... So I tell myself that if I'm very kind to the dead, then perhaps one of them will stick around, stay with me, so that when it happens, I won't have cross over to the other side alone. For a long moment, BROOKE hugs herself in silence. Then, she stands up and slides BETH into the cremation chamber. Back to work.


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EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - LATE EVENING BROOKE watches from the doorway of her house as the DOLLY stacked with boxes is picked up by the hazmat-suited FIGURE. She WAVES to Beth one last time as the boxes disappear into the truck. The FIGURE finishes loading up, gets into the truck, and drives away. BROOKE For an again, toward

goes to the gate as the truck recedes down the road. instant, it looks like she might step outside the fence but then she shuts the gate forcefully and hurries back her house.

INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS BROOKE enters the bedroom and SITS DOWN on the bed. She notices the dust on ARTHUR'S URN and rubs it off with her sleeve. Then, it hits her all at once. She pulls the URN into bed and hugs it to her as she CRIES. PANNING OUTSIDE through her WINDOW, we see drifts of snow quickly appear and just as quickly melt away as dozens of sunrises and sunsets flash over the house. By the time this is done, new leaves are appearing on the trees once again. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - EVENING Spring is now in full bloom. BROOKE wheels the DOLLY to the gate, as usual. There are only couple of boxes stacked on it this time.

a

A MAN we haven't seen before with a mask and plastic shield over his face is standing at the gate, waiting. The TRUCK we once thought of as Beth's is parked at the curb. BROOKE hands the dolly off to the MAN and turns back toward her house without saying anything. MAN Hey, ma'am? You're not going to see me tomorrow, just so you know. BROOKE halts and turns back toward him.


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BROOKE What? Why not? MAN Well, since they started distributing that new medicine, people aren't dying in such huge numbers anymore. Beth told me way back when that your facility wasn't operational anymore, but you were making an exception to help us out. Now that we're not spread so thin anymore, I think we can let you go back to your life. BROOKE So the virus is really gone? It's all over? MAN Not all the way gone, but it seems like we're heading in that direction. Nice to hear some good news for a change, isn't it? BROOKE I'm sorry... I've been seeing you twice a day for months and I've never even asked your name. MAN That's alright, I figured you just weren't the chatty type. I'm Melvin. BROOKE I'm Brooke. MAN Well, Brooke, one day when this really is all over, I'm going to come back here and shake your hand. If it wasn't for your help, we would have been totally underwater at the coroner's office this past year. Come down and see us some time, yeah? BROOKE I'll think about it.


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INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, BEDROOM - THE NEXT MORNING The ALARM CLOCK rings, and BROOKE shuts it off. Beside it on the nightstand, ARTHUR'S URN is neatly polished once again. BROOKE Good morning. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - CONTINUOUS BROOKE emerges from her bedroom with Arthur's URN. She sets it down and goes to the kitchenette. She goes through her onceregular routine of making tea and cooking an egg, but she has to keep moving knickknacks around to reach the things she needs. The movements aren't second-nature anymore. She sits down on the couch beside her family's URNS. BROOKE Morning, everyone. Does anyone remember how long it's been since my last day off? I certainly don't. A pause that goes on a bit too long. BROOKE registers the silence. BROOKE (CONT'D) What shall we watch? She switches on the TV. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, MAIN AREA - EVENING BROOKE is still watching TV as the darkening windows cast the room in shadows. Nothing has moved, except for BROOKE, who is slumped over, bored, and dusting a pile of knickknacks. NEWS ANCHOR 1 (O.S.) ...A ray of hope as infection rates and death rates both drop lower than they've been since last year. Government officials have set a firm date of next month for when we can travel to see our families and friends again. I know I, for one, am going to give everyone I know a big hug as soon as I can! John, what's the first thing


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you're going to do when you get to see your friends again? BROOKE (to the urns) Why did the chicken cross the road? Once again, the silence is distinct and uncomfortable. BROOKE looks down at the pile of things on her lap and realizes she is dusting things that are already clean. NEWS ANCHOR 2 (O.S.) Well, hopefully lots of us will be taking part in the town-wide yard sale that the mayor's office is planning. Unfortunately, as you know, the outbreak has left record numbers of locals struggling or homeless. The town is asking people to come together to donate things they don't need. The proceeds will go toward allocating food and affordable housing for those in need. Without looking, BROOKE reaches toward a nearby piece of furniture for more items to dust. Her hand lands on Beth's sister's CARD. She contemplates this. MONTAGE - VARIOUS 1. A woman who looks similar to Beth - her SISTER - sweeps into Brooke's house and takes stock of the MAIN AREA. BROOKE looks on nervously. 2. The SISTER is back with a CREW. They are moving things around, taking directions from BROOKE. MELVIN from the coroner's office has come by to help out. 3. BROOKE sits with the SISTER, MELVIN, and a few of the CREW MEMBERS around her table. They are having casserole and wine and talking into the night. 4. While sorting through old photo albums in her BEDROOM, BROOKE uncovers a particularly faded photo of a large extended family


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gathered in front of the camera. She flips it over to see there is a phone number scribbled on the back. 5. BROOKE nervously dials the phone. She has to jerk it away from her ear as the person on the other end picks up, shouting with excitement. 6. Some of BROOKE's great-nieces and -nephews have come over to watch the news with her. They are crowded onto the couch. On the TELEVISION, a ribbon is being cut to open a new brand new food bank. ARTHUR'S URN is on Brooke's lap. The other URNS have been given places of honor on her mantlepiece, which is now otherwise empty. 7. BROOKE is in her late-seventies, doorway, where she WAVES goodbye to of a visit. As the relatives leave, watch their car, but she doesn't go

standing in her some relatives at the end she goes to the gate to through.

8. BROOKE is in her eighties. In her BEDROOM, she adjusts a framed recent photo on her nightstand of her with some of her younger-generation family members in front of her house. She goes to bed, alone. INT. BROOKE'S HOUSE, BEDROOM - DAWN The dawn is grey and hazy. A MAN is standing over the bed, where BROOKE is sleeping. ARTHUR Brooke? Time to go, honey. BROOKE's eyes drift open. BROOKE Arthur? ARTHUR holds his hand out. BROOKE stands up and takes it, letting him lead her out of the room. EXT. BROOKE'S PROPERTY/CREMATORIUM - DAWN ARTHUR leads BROOKE to the gate. There is someone on the other side of it: BETH. As BROOKE reaches her, they recognize each other and clasp hands. BROOKE


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You're here? BETH So you don't have to go alone. Still holding BETH's hand with one of hers, BROOKE passes through the gate. ARTHUR, close behind, takes her other hand. Holding both of them tightly, BROOKE, at last, steps into the river.


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BIG BREATH A monologue in three voices by Elizabeth Gjelten CHARACTERS/VOICES These are three voices within the same person, all performed by the same actor. Flexible ethnicity (though of course the choice of casting will affect the import/meaning of many lines). Somewhat flexible age, though older is better. Flexible gender. (Gendered “she/her” pronouns in Third Person’s lines, as they refer to First Person, could be changed as appropriate for the performer.) THIRD PERSON, the observer, the poet FIRST PERSON, the inner self, the “I” SECOND PERSON, part director, part (mean) coach, part parent STAGING There are different possibilities for staging this piece. It could be on video, in a way that appears we are watching the screens of different devices as the performer switches between voices and devices. The screens may have virtual backgrounds—maybe videos of sky, clouds, birds, trees, or sidewalks lined with tents. If so, that’s what we see in the screen when the performer has moved to another device. “Big Breath” could also be performed as an audio play. Or even live and in person, when that’s possible. THIRD PERSON She’s in the midst of a panic attack however she expresses that in body voice and breath. She lurches, weaves almost falls fighting a force from under the floor that’s pulling her down. It’s actually a dance. She pants. Faster and faster. But no matter how much faster FIRST PERSON I can’t — I can’t — I can’t — THIRD PERSON At last she forces the breath


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to slow down. (Time for the breath.) SECOND PERSON You need to go out. You need fresh air. You need to move. You need to breathe. It’s good for you your doctor says. Eleven weeks is far too long inside. Besides it’s senior hour high-risk hour. It’s pretty safe. Go stand in line. Talk to someone. Remember that? FIRST PERSON But I can’t — with this thing on my face when I walk up the hill when I breathe it gets wet then my breath sucks it in then the wet stops the breath. I can’t — (She doesn’t say it. A moment.) SECOND PERSON That’s right. It’s hard, but you can. You’re not being tortured. There’s wet cloth on your face but no knee on your neck. And you know that. You do. So go.


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Now what? FIRST PERSON OK. I know how this sounds or would if someone were here to hear it. Hah! Hah hah. I know it’s my privilege my good luck this struggle to leave home. Home. Tentative though it be dependent though it be on the vagaries of rent control its many loopholes and my landlord’s magical Márquez-ian longevity. I still have this this temporary shell I still can tell my scared self when I lose it and I will — when he dies my landlord when his heirs sell my shell when the speculators come when evictions come when I’m out on the street — No. What I tell myself is this: that won’t be my fate their fate out there. OK, not fate.


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What we’ve allowed. What we’ve let be. SECOND PERSON You too. What did you ever do? FIRST PERSON Me too. I know. So now out there on the block down the block, cross the street all around come the tents popping up one by one two by two four by four. Shelter of a sort. What are those sea snails called? the ones that borrow, steal or simply find discarded shells, ill-fitting houses on their backs. SECOND PERSON Hermit crabs. Not snails. FIRST PERSON Hermit crabs, that’s right. I can see the jaunty picture in my head from that book that I had as a kid. I search for metaphors like that they give me one step back or six from where their pain their breath seeps in with mine my privileged pain inside my room


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with door and roof with stove and sink with toilet, running tap. SECOND PERSON Stop. Enough. Don’t think. Go out. High-risk group or not. Go. Out. Now. FIRST PERSON OK. I do it. I go out. With my mask and my gloves with my wipe for the gate with my key and my phone with my shoes by the door where they won’t track it in I go out down the stairs. SECOND PERSON Take it slow. Not as young as you think. And don’t hold on the rail just go slow. You can’t fall not now. FIRST PERSON At the foot of the stairs I stand at the gate its barred rails. I open the gate. I go out. It’s so light.


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THIRD PERSON She stands, as she waits for her eyes to adjust. Then she walks cross the street. FIRST PERSON There’s a girl — or young woman — hard to tell with the grime as she weaves down the street down the double yellow line. It’s not empty, this street like those eerie empty streets in the news from last week — or was it last month? There’s traffic on this street even buses on this street there’re sirens on this street it’s the route that they take. But the girl in the street pays no heed. She keeps weaving waving her arms like a sea snail stolen of its shell of its watery home. She veers my way I veer a-way avert my face hold my breath. My fear for me comes before my fear for her. It does. Then they meld,


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those two fears. I don’t know what she sees or hears. Certainly my tears don’t help nor do they give me access to what’s going on inside her head. But this I know. I see myself in there in her. I hear those voices (The voices may shift from aggression to sarcasm to silliness—or something else. A kind of song?) you stupid shit failure failure at everything you tried you didn’t try you never tried you didn’t even scaredy cat you’re nothing but a stupid shit failure scaredy cat scaredy cat scaredy cat stupid shit stupid shit stupid shit fail-fail-fail-fail-fu-fu-fu-fu-fu FUUUUUUUUUUCKKKKK. Hah. Hah. Hah. Hu-hah. Hu-hah. Ah. Ah. Ah. Ah. (Some space, time.) THIRD PERSON This is all in her head. She’s not that far gone. Her mouth barely moves she stands still on the sidewalk where she’s retreated.


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The girl stumbles on out of sight. She goes back up the stairs back inside in her shell. She stands at the glass. Three floors up eye to eye with the hawk on the cross on the church cross the way. On the sidewalk down below in the shadow of stained glass, there’s a scattering of trash crumpled papers, plastic bags, dirty rags. A human form. Most likely man. He’s crouched down like he’s kissing sacred ground like he’s the pope coming home. Actually he’s sweeping palms outstretched sweeping the cement as if he lost a contact lens or lost some thing that’s critical to life itself. Some thing invisible to all but him. Two guys jog by air pods face masks — good citizens.


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They deftly veer don’t break their pace nimble on their feet around the crumpled man. He sweeps and sweeps and sweeps. She stands at the glass. Days go by. Life goes by. Her radio show her plug to the world plays the tape what everyone sees but she hears I can’t breathe. She can’t watch. But now as she stands she does watch as the street down below fills with life and with grief and resolve. And the drums! Aztec dancers all in masks. How her town offers care wrath and joy all in one. She looks up at the hawk. It takes off in one swoop as the sun behind fog begins its descent as the light


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becomes solid apricot that sweet fruit that she stole as a kid on the roof as she perched on the edge sweet juice down her neck as it seeped with the scent and the heat all of June. As the world was revealed. All of it: the lone hawk copper clouds sweeping man stumbling girl jogging guys brave young kids trees bowing with ripe fruit and strange fruit all the killed all the stifled all the starved all the fires on their way and the floods. And this too: her own corpse her old shell left behind in the ash. She sees it all from up here air’s exchange back and forth between all who take breath. (The sound of breath. The speaker turns or melts away. All we see in the screens is whatever is in the virtual backgrounds.)


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Hear her breath as it turns into wind wild wind. Hear the door as it opens as it shuts with a gust. Hear her steps on the stairs and the clang of the gate. See the light blinding light like a phone pointed right at the sun.

END OF PLAY

** “Big Breath” will appear next in the upcoming anthology The Best 10-Minute Plays 2021 from Smith & Kraus Publishers.


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The Burger King a playlet for three actors in whatever space (or spaces) they can occupy by Jen Huszcza This playlet requires three actors of any age, gender, race, ethnicity. All three are onstage together the whole time, so there are no entrances or exits. The dialogue should be spoken quickly and with energy. It’s okay to go big. ONE: The king didn’t eat his burger today. TWO: What? No! THREE: Terrible! Terrible! Terrible! ONE: He took one bite and said it tasted bad. TWO: He eats the same burger every day. THREE: But not today. Terrible! ONE: He says it’s a plot against him. TWO: A plot? No! THREE: No plot here. Only suffering. ONE: And plague. And death. Lots of death. TWO: Yes, death. THREE: Horrible! Horrible! Horrible! ONE: He brings no comfort to his people. TWO: He cares for no one but himself. THREE: He does not care for us, his servants. We are invisible and convenient. ONE: We bring him his burgers. TWO: We clean his toilet. THREE: We make his bed and he lies. . . ONE: He lies. . . TWO: Lies, lies, lies THREE: Never to get up again. ONE: We could kill the king. TWO: What? How? THREE: We could, yes, we could.


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ONE: We could poison his burger tomorrow. TWO: Poison. Yes. THREE: We become the plot he fears. ONE: Who would suspect his loyal servants? TWO: No one looks at us. THREE: We can get away. We can go somewhere. ONE: We carry the seal of the king. TWO: No one can stop us. THREE: We’ll be freeeeee! ONE: They’ll suspect the Prince. TWO: He wants the throne. THREE: A coup! A coup! ONE: But wait! TWO: What? THREE: Yes? ONE: He didn’t eat the burger today. How do we know he’ll eat the burger tomorrow? TWO: Good point! THREE: Let’s think about this. (Pause as the three ponder.) ONE: I don’t know how this will work. TWO: He won’t eat the burger. THREE: All is lost! ONE: Wait! He didn’t eat today, so he’ll probably be hungry tomorrow. TWO: Hungry tomorrow. THREE: True, so true. ONE: My friends, put on your masks. Tomorrow, we will ride beyond the castle walls. TWO: Ride, yes, we’ll ride. THREE: Into the unknown.


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ONE: We have a plot. TWO: Yes, yes, yes. Leave this awful place. THREE: Take our chances with the plague. ONE: We’ll stick together. TWO: All together. THREE: No one else. ONE: Kill the king! TWO: Kill the king! THREE: Kill the king! Shhhh. Someone’s coming.

END OF PLAYLET


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THE SWORD OF KENAU A one-act poem play for the stage by John Paul Mandryk Epigraphs It is good that the world should not forget how much wrong has been endured by a single harmless nation at the hands of despotism, and in the sacred name of God. Why has the Almighty suffered such crimes to be perpetrated in His sacred name? Was it necessary that so many generations should wade through this blood in order to acquire for their descendants the blessing of civil and religious freedom? —Rise of the Dutch Republic, 1555–1566: A History by John Lothrop Motley, 1855 Cast of Characters CHORUS - All characters. LUCIFER - Male, ageless. The Devil. Prince of evil. Adversary of God and humanity. DERDEKEA - Female, ageless. The guardian angel of KENAU. Sent to earth for the salvation of man. HAARLEM WOMAN - Female, mid-thirties. Catholic. Mother One of three hundred Haarlem women who joined the garrison to defend Haarlem’s walls. REBEL - Male, mid-thirties. Protestant. One of one thousand Haarlem men who joined the garrison to defend Haarlem’s walls. KENAU - Female, age 40. Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer (1526–1588). Haarlem burgher. Mother. Catholic. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA - Male, age 31. Baron Wigbolt Ripperda (1535–1573). Noble. Calvinist. Iconoclast. Governor of Haarlem from August 1572 to July 1573. Military commander of Haarlem’s three thousand soldier garrison, mostly mercenaries from Germany, England, and France. POPE PIUS V - Male, age 62. Michele Ghislieri, O.P. (1504–1572). Head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 8 January 1566 to his death in 1572. Canonized as a saint in 1712. IRON DUKE - Male, age 59. Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba (1507–1582). The most effective general of his generation. Catholic fanatic. Waged the Spanish Inquisition for Philip II. THE PALLBEARERS - REBEL, HAARLEM WOMAN, GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Places: The Grote Markt, Haarlem, Netherlands. The Vatican Square. The Grand Square, Brussels. Years: 1566 through 1573 Rhythmic Poems 1. The Line’s Been Crossed…………………………...…...Chorus, Lucifer, Derdekea p. 1 2. You’ve Been Chosen……………………………….….……Pope Pius V, Iron Duke p. 9 3. Icy River Graveyards…….….………… …………….Iron Duke, Lucifer, Ripperda p. 13


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4. Your Time…………………………....…………….….....Kenau, Derdekea, Lucifer p. 16 5. No Soldier’s Arm Can Be Your Match………………….….….…Kenau, Derdekea p. 21 6. Raise Your Weapons……………….……...….….Kenau, Haarlem Women, Chorus p. 24 Production Notes Rhythmic poems number 1 and numbers 3 through 6 may be accompanied by a beat as defined below. The vocals may be spoken, sung as hip-hop/rap, or improvised (sung extemporaneously). Rhythmic poem number 2 may be performed to Mozart’s Requiem-Dies irae (Day of Wrath). Rhythmic Poems

Speed

Beat Type

Number

Title

Length

BPM

1

The Line's Been Crossed

2:11

90

2

You've Been Chosen

2:10

Recited to Mozart's Requiem-Dies irae

3

Icy River Graveyards

2:23

65

4

Your Time

4:03

45

5

No Soldier's Arm Can Be Your Match

1:28

55

6

Raise Your Weapons

2:02

56


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ACT I Scene 1 SETTING: Infinite space and eternal time. The earth’s orb suspends at waist height. AT RISE: LUCIFER AND DERDEKEA are studying earth’s orb, as if they are viewing humanity from the heavens. The stage is in darkness. (The sounds of a storm—wind and thunder—begin softly, then slowly crescendo to a climax. Spotlights on LUCIFER and DERDEKEA. Silence.) (Rhythmic poem #1: “THE LINE’S BEEN CROSSED”) CHORUS BLOODSTAINED CHAPLAINS. SATAN’S ACTIONS. THE MAIDEN’S SWORD MUST SET THEM FREE. LUCIFER (Motioning his control over earth as he circles the globe clockwise. This action continues throughout the scene.) MY HANDS HAVE CURSED LOWLANDS ONCE BLESSED WITH FREEDOM FOR ALL PEOPLE. DERDEKEA (Animating her abhorrence of LUCIFER, as she uses her body to reverse his motion counterclockwise. The action of forward counterclockwise motion followed by counterclockwise motion continues throughout the scene.) NO CURSE LIVES ON PAST MORNING’S DAWN WHEN TRUTH EXPOSES EVIL. LUCIFER I MAKE CROPS FAIL AND BODIES FRAIL. TURN HEARTS AND SOULS TO MALICE. DERDEKEA THEIR DISBELIEF YOU FORGE FROM GRIEF NO MATCH FOR HOPE AND PURPOSE. -2-


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LUCIFER WHEN BISHOPS SELL ESCAPE FROM HELL A LIFE WELL LIVED, NOW WORTHLESS. DERDEKEA SALVATION COMES TO EVERYONE WHO FOCUS ON THE EARTHLESS. LUCIFER THE KING AND POPE, NO RAY OF HOPE. WHEN GREED AND POWER OWN THEM. (Lights up. Characters move as directed by choreographer.) CHORUS WITH SPAIN’S AFFIRM TO STAKE AND BURN ALL GUILTY OF SEDITION. THE LINE’S BEEN CROSSED. FREEDOM IS LOST DEATH FOR THE OPPOSITION. SO WORKS THE SQUAD FOR KING AND GOD WHO FORCE THEM TO SUBMISSION. A COMMON GROUND CANNOT BE FOUND TO SPARE THE INQUISITION. BLACKOUT

Scene 2 SETTING: The Grote Markt, Haarlem, Netherlands. Friday, April 5, 1566. A kneeler rests by the stairs of the giant door of St. Bavokerk Cathedral, stage left. The door is closed, fortified against intrusion. Statues of St. Mary and St. Joseph stand as sentinels to the entrance. An executioner’s block and ax center stage.


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AT RISE: KENAU is kneeling, rosary beads in hands. Lips moving silently in prayer. DERDEKEA is standing beside her, undetected. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA is standing behind the block, about to address an imaginary crowd of burghers. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. (Spotlight on The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS Haarlem, 1566. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Friday, April the 5th. Bow your head and pray. Feast eve of Our Lady’s Sorrows Grief and fear rob our sleep. Pray this penance grants us freedom Bestow it on Thy meek. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered. Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL address the audience.) HAARLEM WOMAN King Philip rules from Spanish soil. Sends Margaret in his place. This duchess shows no mercy for Souls fallen out of grace. REBEL Haarlem suffers through winter’s grip. Death’s freeze unimagined. Planting delayed. Harvests ruined. Grain and milk are rationed. HAARLEM WOMAN Despair turns our hearts to anger. Misery casts the blame. From witches in the countryside, To Christ’s most holy name.


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REBEL Spain exploits the papal mission To silence heresy. Hanged for treason, without reason Will seal king’s legacy. HAARLEM WOMAN The upper nobles close their eyes A sin of convenience. These pawns of Spanish royalty Sinister allegiance. REBEL Protests turn to violent marches Against the king and pope. The Catholic church, its sacredness, No haven for our hope. HAARLEM WOMAN The lower nobles seize this hour. Their time to make a stand. An end to these atrocities. It’s justice they demand. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL exit. Lights up.) KENAU (Praying. Hands raised to shoulder height. Eyes focused upward.) Merciful God, why have You placed Such anger in my soul? I curse the fact they sent my love To reason for their goal. He left my bed to plead our hope That Spain comes to its senses. Without consideration For failure’s consequences. You know damn well their minds are made. No words will win our freedom. So guide him home to longing arms. Spare his life from treason. (KENAU lowers her hands, folded. She continues kneeling, praying. Lips moving silently in prayer. Eyes to heaven.)


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(The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN enter to stand before GOVERNOR RIPPERDA.) GOVERNOR RIPPERDA (Ascends the block and shouts to the crowd.) Cleansed of our sins. Burned at the stake. Heads on this chopping block. They murder us for freedom’s right. To pray as Jesus taught. (GOVERNOR RIPPERDA remains motionless after each verse.) KENAU (Focusing on RIPPERDA, as she scolds.) Don’t judge me by my silence, For my tongue might slip the truth. Is it praying free, or your noble rights, That is threatened by the noose? (KENAU remains motionless after each plea.) GOVERNOR RIPPERDA To purge by torture is king’s law When treason is the blame. To doubt the Holy Eucharist Will end our lives in flame. KENAU Don’t judge me by my silence, For there’s nothing I can say. If my words be heard that insult the king, I’ll be in your prayers Souls’ Day. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Three hundred lower nobles march To storm the duchess’s gate. Demand that change must calm the dread Or mobs become her fate. KENAU Don’t judge me by my silence, There’d be anger in my voice. I shall feign respect for his majesty. Mighty Spain allows no choice. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA


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Cease religious persecution. Unify our kinsmen. Bring worship out of secrecy. Concede moderation. KENAU (Praying. Pleading. Hands rise to shoulder height. Eyes focus upward.) Forgive me for my silence, For prayer’s song is deaf to me. Do You really care how I bow my head, Or sing praise on bended knee? GOVERNOR RIPPERDA The duchess claims her hands are tied. She’ll seek king’s permission. She trembles in her sleepless nights From fear of our sedition. KENAU (Focusing on RIPPERDA as she scolds.) Don’t judge me by my silence, For dead mothers cannot plead. To mute words of hate is to spare our lives. Your revolt will not succeed. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Demeaned our worth. And then she cursed. Called us “The Lowly Beggars.” We nobles proud turned brothers now. United we stand forever! KENAU Don’t judge me by my silence. Which is stronger than deceit. Scars that we’d bear to fight your noble cause. Will immortalize defeat. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Let open fields become our church. Scoff pope’s condemnation. Let thousands pray outside these walls Seeking Christ’s salvation. KENAU Don’t judge me by my silence. Sealed lips can sing tomorrow. Rejoice and give praise to our king and pope.


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Belie your life of sorrow. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Letters from Spain’s forest palace List king’s prohibitions. To rob our children freedom’s dream, An immoral mission. KENAU (Praying. Pleading. Hands rise to shoulder height. Eyes focus upward.) Forgive me for my silence. No match are my words for might. Concede mother’s dreams and children’s wishes. I have lost my will to fight. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Let peace of God become a mob Waging retribution. Destroy the churches and their wares. Sacred revolution. KENAU (Focusing on RIPPERDA as she scolds.) Don’t judge me by my silence, But this cause belongs to you. For a Catholic sees yet another day With eyes blind to what is true. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA The news finds Spain. The king’s inflamed. Dogma meets defiance. The Iron Duke, and army strong, Summoned for compliance. KENAU (Praying. Pleading. Hands rise to shoulder height. Eyes focus upward.) Forgive me for my silence. Will my prayers help intercede? Since we’ve not declared for the rebels’ cause, Will we live or will we bleed? BLACKOUT


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Scene 3 SETTING: The Vatican Square. December 24, 1566. Stairs of the giant door of St. Peter’s Basilica; stage left. The door is open. A kneeler dominates center stage. It occupies the exact spot of the executioner’s block in Scene 1. A smoking thurible (incense pot) rests on a pedestal to the right of the kneeler. To its left, rests an aspersorium (bucket) filled with holy water and an aspergillum (sprinkler). A wooden cross is nearby. AT RISE: POPE PIUS V stands before the kneeler. He is vested in a cincture and a white stole. He holds the blessed sword. The IRON DUKE is kneeling before the Pope. He is wearing the blessed hat. A surplice covers his military uniform. His head is bowed. Rosary beads in hand. Lips moving silently in prayer. Lucifer stands beside him undetected. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. (Spotlight on The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS The Vatican Square, 1566. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Tuesday, December the 24 Bow your head and pray. th.

Christmas Eve. Born in a stable, God’s son will command. Pray His love will grant us freedom. ‘Tis what His Father planned. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered. Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL exit. Lights up.) POPE PIUS V Accept this sword. Command it like Saint Peter did for Christ. In the garden where olives grew, The chief priest’s ear was sliced.


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(POPE PIUS V hands the blessed sword to THE IRON DUKE. He slowly circles THE IRON DUKE as he incenses the DUKE.) POPE PIUS V I hereby declare you to be A bulwark to protect This Holy Roman Catholic Church Against her heretic. (POPE PIUS V returns the thurible and takes the aspersorium. He slowly circles THE IRON DUKE and sprinkles him with water.) POPE PIUS V This Holy Hat shall spare you from the wrath of enemies. For on its right side rests the Dove Protect your destinies. At its top shines the golden sun Of man’s redeemer, Christ. Who won for us eternal life. Through selfless sacrifice. (POPE PIUS V returns the thurible. He places his hands on the DUKE’s shoulders.) POPE PIUS V You hereby are another sword Of Saint Paul’s Holy See. Your hands be firm. Be lifted up. Defeat God’s enemy. (THE IRON DUKE blesses himself. POPE PIUS V extends his hand to the IRON DUKE who kisses the papal ring.) (Rhythmic poem #2. “YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN”) POPE PIUS V CLEANSE THE LOWLANDS. CLEANSE THE CURSED LANDS. PURGE THE EVIL THAT CORRUPTS SOULS. SHALL THEY BURN IN HELL FOREVER. THE IRON DUKE LET THIS SWORD WIN ROME HER GLORY. LET THIS SWORD WIN SPAIN HER HONOR.


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PRAISE GOD, AND THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY GHOST. POPE PIUS V SILENCE INFIDELS SILENCE HERETICS. LET NO TONGUE SPEAK WORDS OF TREASON. LET THEIR DEATHS BE AN EXAMPLE. THE IRON DUKE IN HIS NAME, I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE. IN HIS NAME, I PLEDGE MY HONOR. PRAISE GOD, AND THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY GHOST. POPE PIUS V GOD WILL GRANT OUR CHURCH A FAITH FROM PERSECUTION. THE IRON DUKE TO HIS KINGDOM. TO HIS KINGDOM. POPE PIUS V GOD WILL GRANT YOUR KING A SPAIN OF MIGHTY POWER. THE IRON DUKE TO HIS KINGDOM. TO HIS KINGDOM. POPE PIUS V GOD WILL GRANT YOU PRAISE FROM KINGS AND KNIGHTLY BROTHERS. GOD WILL GRANT YOU HEAVEN’S KEYS AND LIFE FOREVER. RAISE THIS SWORD AND MEET YOUR DESTINY. RAISE THIS SWORD AND WRITE YOUR HISTORY. YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN. THE IRON DUKE I’VE BEEN CHOSEN POPE PIUS V WIN GOD’S HOLY WAR. YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN. THE IRON DUKE I’VE BEEN CHOSEN


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POPE PIUS V WIN GOD’S HOLY WAR. (THE IRON DUKE stands, raises the Blessed Sword with both hands above his head. Sword and eyes focus to heaven. He stands motionless.) BLACKOUT Scene 4 SETTING: The Grand Square, Brussels. August 22, 1567. The giant door to the Town Hall is open; stage left. An executioner’s block and ax dominate center stage; it occupies the same location as in Scene 2. A wooden cross with firewood for burning witches occupies the exact spot of the wooden cross in Scene 3. AT RISE: The IRON DUKE is kneeling behind the executioner’s block. It serves as his altar. He is praying, rosary beads in hands, facing the wooden cross. LUCIFER is standing behind him undetected. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. (Spotlight on The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS Brussels, 1567. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Friday, August the 22 Bow your head and pray. nd.

Feast day of Our Virgin Mary. Queen of God’s creation. Pray her Son will grant us freedom. Deliver liberation. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered. Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL address the audience.) HAARLEM WOMAN In spring we lose our heart and soul,


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Flees across the border. Prince William left four thousand troops Captured, facing torture. REBEL The duke joins troops in Italy. Leads their might to Brussels. Seize power from nobility. Mounting fears and struggles. HAARLEM WOMAN Injustices are plentiful. Behead two loyal nobles. The duke becomes our governor. Silence seals the locals. REBEL A council’s formed to find and try We enemies of the king. Countless deaths to their innocents. Hear the funeral bells ring. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL exit. Lights up.) (Rhythmic poem #3: “ICY RIVER GRAVEYARDS”) IRON DUKE (Praying. Hands raised to shoulder height. Eyes focused upward. This action repeats to the end of the scene, each time the IRON DUKE speaks.) OH, MIGHTY FATHER, BLESS OUR SWORDS AND SHIELDS, GUIDING US TO PURGE THE FAITHLESS. OH BLESSED MOTHER, I PRAY TO YOU FOR STRENGTH, CRUSHING SATAN AND HIS EVILS. LUCIFER (Brandishing his sword. Coaching the IRON DUKE. This action repeats to the end of the scene, each time LUCIFER speaks.) MAKE THEM FEAR BOTH POPE AND THRONE. FORCE THEM TO SUBMISSION. COLLECT SPAIN’S TAX, DISSOLVE THEIR RIGHTS, SATAN’S HOLY MISSION. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA (Rallying the burghers with charisma. This action repeats to the end of the scene, each time GOVERNOR RIPPERDA speaks.)


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SACK THE CHURCH AND RECTORY. CLEANSE THEM OF THEIR STATUES. GOLDEN WARES AND SILKEN ROBES, GIVE BACK TO GOD’S PEOPLE. IRON DUKE OH, CHRIST THE SAVIOR, BLESS OUR SOVEREIGN KING, PROTECTING FROM THESE ANGRY REBELS. OH, HOLY SPIRIT, COMMAND MY EVERY MOVE, SILENCING THE TONGUES OF MADMEN. LUCIFER FIND THE STAINED AND ROUND THEM UP. BRING THEM INTO TRIAL. TREASON’S HINT IS ALL YOU NEED. HANG THEM FROM THE GALLOWS. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA YOU HAVE HANGED NOBLES AND POOR. COUNTLESS ORPHANS WAIL. FREEDOM’S CRY’S NOW WHAT WE HEAR. HOPE AND STRENGTH PREVAIL. IRON DUKE OH, SAINTS IN HEAVEN, FOR YOU I SPILL THEIR BLOOD, EARNING SPAIN HER PRIDE AND HONOR. MOST HOLY FRIAR, FORGIVE THESE GRIEVOUS SINS, SPARING HELL’S ETERNAL SENTENCE. LUCIFER PILLAGE TOWNS THAT HARBOR THREATS. BURN THEM TO THE GROUND. BUTCHER MEN AND RAPE THEIR WIVES. ICY RIVER GRAVEYARDS. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA WE SING YOU SONGS OF PENITENCE. HANDSHAKES PROMISE MERCY. THE TEARS THAT FLOW FROM INNOCENT SOULS NOW STRENGTHEN FREEDOM’S JOURNEY. BLACKOUT


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Scene 5 SETTING: Haarlem, Netherlands. November 1, 1570. Stage design same as Scene 2 with the following difference: Earth’s orb rest upon the executioner’s block. AT RISE: KENAU is kneeling. Hands folded in prayer. Lips moving. Eyes to Heaven. DERDEKEA is standing by her, undetected. LUCIFER is pondering the orb. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. (Spotlight on The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS The Lowlands, 1570. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Tuesday, November the 1 . Bow your head and pray. st

The day of prayer to every saint, Blessed soul or martyr. Pray to them to grant us freedom. A most holy charter. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered. Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL exit. Spotlight on LUCIFER.) LUCIFER (Casts his spell as he circles the orb.) Witches blame volcanic ashes, absence of the sunspots. Or wrath from God for human sin. Or mankind’s evil thoughts. My chance to claim man’s heart and soul With misery and gloom. Summers so hot, winters so cold, Bring famine, disease, doom. Treachery from these elements - 17 -


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Worse than Spain’s oppression. Imprisoned by a hopelessness, Hunger spawns depression. (Lights up.) (A loud drum resounds from stage left. It abruptly stops LUCIFER’s dialogue. LUCIFER remains motionless. The loud, heavy, slow cadence continues. THE PALLBEARERS enter. They push a casket draped in the rebel flag. Equal stripes of orange, white, and blue. They march methodically to the kneeler. To KENAU. They are silent, stoic. The REBEL and GOVERNOR RIPPERDA fold the flag. RIPPERDA holds the flag as he addresses KENAU who cries openly.) RIPPERDA Today Haarlem weeps. There is tragedy. There is heartbreak. He gave his life for freedom’s cause. KENAU He swore this day would be of peace. That tomorrow, our bed would wake with hope. Tell me. RIPPERDA He carried our petition to Brussels. To end the senseless carnage of heresy. KEANU I cannot accept that he gave his life freely. His life was taken. RIPPERDA He faced death with courage. He has earned our honor. Take this flag to keep his memory. (GOVERNOR RIPPERDA hands the flag to KENAU. She cries openly.) KENAU What remains of my life with half a heart? RIPPERDA He believed that without freedom, your children had no hope. And a hopeless life was not worth living. KENAU I didn’t love him enough to save him. I should have owned his heart. Was our love no match for his desperate obsession? RIPPERDA He lived to return your love. He loved you enough to sacrifice everything.


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KENAU If I had one more chance, what would I say? Would I say: Goodbye? No. I would say: Forgive me for being selfish. For wanting you, needing you. That we need you more than Haarlem needs you. RIPPERDA When the story of our independence is written, freedom’s lips will praise your sacrifice. KENAU My sacrifice is inconsolable. My grief demands justice. Damn Spain, for I have lost everything important to me: His hands that care. His ears that listen. His lips that whisper. Damn Spain, and damn its one true religion. (GOVERNOR RIPPERDA salutes and takes his place by the casket. THE PALLBEARERS rotate the casket and stop when they face the audience.) THE PALLBEARERS (With anger, they shout to the audience over the cries of KENAU.) Hellish father, who in Brussels doth dwell. Thou takest away daily our daily bread, While our men, wives, and children lie starving or dead. (THE PALLBEARERS slowly complete the rotation and return the casket to stage left. The drum continues as KENAU sobs. The drumming stops.) (Rhythmic poem #4 “YOUR TIME”) KENAU (Praying. Pleading. Hands rise to shoulder height. Eyes focus upward.) AGNUS DEI, QUE TOLLIS PECCATA MUNDI…. AGNUS DEI, QUE TOLLIS PECCATA MUNDI…. AGNUS DEI, QUE TOLLIS PECCATA MUNDI…. (DERDEKEA ceremoniously removes her sword from its sheath. She places the blade over KENAU’S head.) DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: BREAK YOUR SILENCE. KENAU MY HOPE IS DEAD FOR PEACE AND RESOLVE. MY ENVOY FOR MERCY LIES COLD IN HIS GRAVE. (DERDEKEA brandishes her sword as she mentors KENAU.)


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DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: SILENCE CANNOT CLAIM YOUR FUTURE. KENAU WHAT IS THE SENSE OF WAR IN HIS NAME, WHEN LOVE IS HIS GREATEST COMMANDMENT OF ALL? DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: SILENCE CANNOT DEMAND JUSTICE. (LUCIFER circles earth’s orb as he commands the elements.) LUCIFER MOUNTAINS, SPEW ASH. CLOUDS, BLANKET THE SKY. DARKNESS, BRING GLOOM TO HEART AND TO SOUL. HUNGER AND THIRST, BRING DOUBT AND BRING SORROW. NOTHING TOMORROW. KENAU MISERERE NOBIS. BEGGING FOR PARDON NOR PRAYERS FOR MERCY OUR FREEDOM IS WON BY MIGHT AND BY SWORD. DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: SILENCE CANNOT DISMISS DESPAIR. KENAU WILL SORROW DEFINE WE MOTHERS AND BRIDES? WHOSE SONS AND WHOSE HUSBANDS DIE FOR OUR CAUSE. DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: SILENCE CANNOT EXPOSE CORRUPTION. KENAU WHOSE LIVES WILL GOD HONOR? WHICH SIDE IS MOST HOLY? EACH RIVAL WILL SACRIFICE BLOOD, TEARS, AND BREATH. DERDEKEA TIME: SILENCE CANNOT ANSWER FREEDOM’S CALL. (LUCIFER circles earth’s orb as he commands the elements.)


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LUCIFER GALES, CROSS THE SEAS, LIKE WOLVES ON THE MOVE. WATERS, SURGE FREELY. NO FUTURE LIVES WHOLE. MUD, BURY HOPE, NO SAVIOR TO FOLLOW. NOTHING TOMORROW. KENAU MISERERE NOBIS. TAKE BACK TOMORROW BANISH THE TYRANNY NO THRONE HAS THE RIGHT TO OWN HEARTS AND MINDS. DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: SILENCE CANNOT REJECT OPPRESSION. KENAU NO LIFE BLED IN VAIN. NO CHOICES REMAIN. I SURRENDER MY PURPOSE TO GOD’S HOLY WILL. (DERDEKEA ceremoniously places the blade over KENAU’S left shoulder.) DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: SEIZE YOUR RIGHTS. KENAU WITH ALL MY HEART, MY SOUL, AND MY MIND, THE WRATH OF DEFIANCE RESOUND FROM MY LIPS. (DERDEKEA ceremoniously places the blade over KENAU’S right shoulder.) DERDEKEA YOUR TIME: CHALLENGE SUPREMACY. (LUCIFER circles earth’s orb as he commands the elements.) LUCIFER GLACIERS, LOCK CITIES, PRISONS OF ICE. HARBORS AND SEAPORTS FROZEN IN TIME. ICE, STRANGLE FAITH. NO BREAD: STEAL OR BORROW. NOTHING TOMORROW. KENAU DONNA NOBIS PACEM. TO END OPPRESSION


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TO RECLAIM JUSTICE THIS IS MY DUTY OR DIE FOR FREEDOM (DERDEKEA ceremoniously hands the sword to KENAU. KENAU stands, raises the sword with both hands above her head. Sword and eyes focus to heaven. She stands motionless.) DERDEKEA YOUR TIME. BLACKOUT Scene 6 SETTING: Haarlem, Netherlands. November 22, 1572. Stage design same as Scene 2. AT RISE: KENAU is kneeling, praying. DERDEKEA stands by her undetected. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. (Spotlight on The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS Haarlem, 1572. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Saturday, November the 22 Bow your head and pray. nd.

Feast day of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Pray that Jesus grants us freedom. Spare Holland from Spain’s curse. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered. Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL address the audience.)


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HAARLEM WOMAN It is a heavenly summer’s day. Sun shines on Mechelen. The Catholics welcome Spanish guards. The sound of death begins. REBEL Their sin is harboring rebel troops. Three days is all it took. No nail is left in door or wall. Respect for life forsook. HAARLEM WOMAN Fall brings Zutphen’s ruthless siege. Penance for sacred offenses. Leaves not a single man alive. Horrid consequences. REBEL The carnage is unspeakable. Grave death with every stroke. A wail of agony cries above The ashes and the smoke. HAARLEM WOMAN On Christmas month, Naarden shakes hands With Alba and his troops. Five hundred gather in the Church And pray for peace in groups. REBEL All throats are slashed. No soul is spared. No mother’s son alive. Spain’s message resounds loud and clear. Rebels will not survive. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL exit. Lights up.) (Rhythmic poem #5: “NO SOLDIER’S ARM CAN BE YOUR MATCH”) KENAU (Praying, pleading. Hands rise to shoulder height. Eyes focus upward.) IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN OH, MY GOD WHAT SINS SO DIRE BLEED ALL LIVES SO GRIMLY?


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DAMN DUKE’S OATHS OF CHARITY. FAITH AND FEAR WITHIN ME. DERDEKEA (Moves to face KENAU. Speaking passionately.) OH, THEY GIVE THEIR LIVES FOR FREEDOM’S RIGHT. HANGED, STAKED, AND BEHEADED. I GIVE YOU COURAGE, FIGHT YOUR FIGHT, RISE ABOVE WHAT’S DREADED. KENAU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN. OH, TO SEE OUR DELEGATES HANG, TRAITORS TO OUR FREEDOM. OFFERING GOLD, FALSE PROMISES, A CONTRACT WITH THE DEMON. DERDEKEA OH, TEN THOUSAND SWORDS LIE EAST, EAGER FOR YOUR SLAUGHTER. DO NOT ACCEPT SURRENDER’S FATE GRANT HOPE TO SONS AND DAUGHTERS. KENAU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN. OH, OUR TROOPS HAVE NUMBERS SMALL, AND OUR GATES ARE FAILING. GRAIN WASTES FROZEN IN THE FIELDS, OUR REBEL SHIPS NOT SAILING. DERDEKEA OH, I GIVE YOUR SISTERS FIERCE RESOLVE, A GIFT FROM YOUR CREATOR. NO SOLDIER’S ARM CAN BE YOUR MATCH. YOUR STRENGTH WILL BE THE GREATER. KENAU IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN. BLACKOUT


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Scene 7 SETTING: Haarlem, Netherlands. December 8, 1572. Stage design same as Scene 2 with the following difference: The cathedral doors are open. The statues of St. Mary and St. Joseph are toppled on their side, heads detached. The kneeler is absent. AT RISE: GOVERNOR RIPPERDA is standing behind the executioner’s block, about to address an imaginary crowd of burghers. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. Actors without roles may disguise and join the cast as extra Haarlem women. Each woman carries a weapon; either: saber, lance, ax, bow and arrow, rifle, pitchfork, club, boulder, wreath or bucket. (Spotlight on The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS Haarlem, 1572. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Monday, December the 8 . Bow your head and pray. th

The Immaculate Conception Of the Virgin Mary. Pray to Mother, grant us freedom Give us sanctuary. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered. Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (Lights up. All characters assemble before GOVERNOR RIPPERDA.) GOVERNOR RIPPERDA (Ascends the blocks and shouts to the burghers.) Haarlem declared against Spain’s grip. Assemble in the square, Come, listen to your governor On how we must prepare. In the distance march his swordsmen. Thirty thousand outlaws. Eager for the spoils of vict’ry.


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Lustfully drawing straws. Three magistrates left in the night To reason with the king. When two returned with compromise, We hanged them by the sling. The third sent back his messenger, A letter from the duke. Surrender now or raise your swords. Prepare for Spain’s rebuke. Surrender’s not a strategy If freedom is our goal. We soldiers and we citizens Choose death to save our souls. (GOVERNOR RIPPERDA descends the block. KENAU takes his place, brandishing a sword.) KENAU (Rallying the Haarlem Women with charisma.) But Surely Haarlem’s earned our lives. Rise up for her future. To die defending freedom’s cause, Heaven’s peace comes sooner. (Rhythmic poem #6: “RAISE YOUR WEAPONS”) KENAU RAISE YOUR WEAPONS! RAISE YOUR WEAPONS! WAVE THE BANNERS! NOTHING CAN DEFEAT YOUR SOUL WHEN RIGHT IS ON YOUR SIDE. HAARLEM WOMEN RAISE YOUR WEAPONS! WAVE THE BANNERS! NOTHING CAN DEFEAT YOUR SOUL WHEN RIGHT IS ON YOUR SIDE. CHORUS SOLDIERS, LEAN, DEFEND OUR WALLS WHILE HAARLEM FADES WITHIN OUR HALLS. THE HATRED FROM THE ENEMY FACE DEATH’S WISH OUR SAVING GRACE. KENAU


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EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. LOVE OF GOD, RAGE OF WOMEN. DON’T SURRENDER TO THEIR WILL. HAARLEM WOMEN EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE. LOVE OF GOD. RAGE OF WOMEN. DON’T SURRENDER TO THEIR WILL. KENAU RAISE YOUR WEAPONS! HAARLEM WOMEN RAISE YOUR WEAPONS! KENAU WAVE THE BANNERS! HAARLEM WOMEN WAVE THE BANNERS! CHORUS DON’T SURRENDER TO THEIR WILL. KENAU STAND UNITED! STAND UNITED! UNDIVIDED! NO ENEMY CAN SCALE OUR WALLS WHEN RIGHT IS ON OUR SIDE. HAARLEM WOMEN STAND UNITED! UNDIVIDED! NO ENEMY CAN SCALE OUR WALLS WHEN RIGHT IS ON OUR SIDE. CHORUS DIP THE WREATHS IN BURNING OIL. SPILL THE WATER AT ITS BOIL ONTO CROWNS OF SCALING BUTCHERS WASTED FOR THEIR KING. KENAU ONE DEFEAT IS ALL IT TAKES. SEND THEM PANICKED TO THEIR CAPTAIN. SEND TO HELL THEIR MIGHT AND WILL. HAARLEM WOMEN


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ONE DEFEAT IS ALL IT TAKES. SEND THEM PANICKED TO THEIR CAPTAIN. SEND TO HELL THEIR MIGHT AND WILL. KENAU STAND UNITED! HAARLEM WOMEN STAND UNITED! KENAU UNDIVIDED! HAARLEM WOMEN UNDIVIDED! CHORUS SEND TO HELL THEIR MIGHT AND WILL. KENAU LIVE COMPLETED! LIVE COMPLETED! DIE WITH HONOR! ALL OUR LIVES FOR FREEDOM’S CAUSE IF THAT IS WHAT IT TAKES. HAARLEM WOMEN LIVE COMPLETED! DIE WITH HONOR! ALL OUR LIVES FOR FREEDOM’S CAUSE IF THAT IS WHAT IT TAKES. CHORUS BUILD A WALL WITHIN OUR FORT TO TRAP THE RATS WHO BREACH OUR COURT. MISTAKEN THEY WILL SEAL OUR FATE. OUR WEAKNESS IS OUR BAIT. KENAU GUIDE THE ARROWS TO THEIR MARK. RAISE THE SABER, THROW THE LANCES. FEAR WILL NOT DECIDE OUR FATE. HAARLEM WOMEN GUIDE THE ARROWS TO THEIR MARK. RAISE THE SABER, THROW THE LANCES. FEAR WILL NOT DECIDE OUR FATE. KENAU


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LIVE COMPLETED! HAARLEM WOMEN LIVE COMPLETED! KENAU DIE WITH HONOR! HAARLEM WOMEN DIE WITH HONOR! CHORUS FEAR WILL NOT DECIDE OUR FATE. BLACKOUT Scene 8 SETTING: Haarlem, Netherlands. July 16, 1573. Stage design same as Scene 7 with the following difference: A fishing net containing rocks, and closed with a rope, rests beside the executioner’s bock. AT RISE: KENAU and GOVERNOR RIPPERDA are standing in front of the executioner’s block. They are blindfolded and tied back to back. DERDEKEA is standing by KENAU, undetected. The REBEL and the HAARLEM WOMAN are far stage right, apart from the action. The stage is in darkness. (Spotlight on the HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL.) CHORUS Haarlem, 1573. HAARLEM WOMAN It’s Thursday, July the 16thth. Bow your head and pray. Apparition on Mount Carmel By the Virgin Mary. Pray to Mother, grant us freedom. Crush our adversary. REBEL Your prayers wander heaven’s darkness. No ear will hear. No lips will answer. The right of freedom’s never granted. Shall be won or squandered.


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Each generation leaves its choice. Either shamed or honored. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL address the audience.) HAARLEM WOMAN For weeks on end the cannons pound. Two thousand shells explode. Our walls, they crumble one by one. Our fear we never show. REBEL We burghers work into each night In spite of screaming balls. We use the idols from the church To seal our crumbling walls. HAARLEM WOMAN Heave heavy stones, boiling oil, Red coals and flaming wreaths. Men, women, children join the guards, Held strong by our beliefs. REBEL The frozen lake, the veil of fog, All we need, we smuggle. In May, the icy rivers melt. Existing is our struggle. HAARLEM WOMAN Three times the reinforcements fail. Starvation takes its toll. We eat the rats, our dogs and cats. Our waists now half their whole. REBEL For seven months the corpses pile. Last resort, submission. We tremble in the marketplace, Guilty of sedition. (The HAARLEM WOMAN and the REBEL exit. Lights up.) KENAU How did we end up here?


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RIPPERDA We’re here to make the trade. Our lives, for freedom’s cause. Every movement claims its martyrs. KENAU There is more for my life than this wretched exchange. There are far better things ahead than I leave behind. RIPPERDA If we have nothing to die for, there is nothing to live for. KENAU I fear that my dreams will rot with my corpse. Who will rescue my memory from the ashes of Haarlem? Who will own what I have lived for? RIPPERDA We will be remembered as heroes. Two souls sacrificed in the name of liberty. It is not dying that we should fear. We should fear having lived without purpose. KENAU I don’t want to be remembered. Memories are ghosts that wander mournful minds. I want to live. RIPPERDA We do not live for ourselves or die for ourselves. We must commit to others. To share our lives and our deaths. KENAU Every woman has the wish to share their daughters’ dreams. Every woman has the wish to share their son’s ambitions. Every woman has the wish to share their lover’s passion. RIPPERDA No, we live for the greater good. I regret that I have but one life to give to freedom’s cause. KENAU I regret that my children be motherless. Orphaned to our obsessions. With whom will they share simple wonders?

RIPPERDA History’s chapters will tell our story. Our narrative will live in the essays of wise men. KENAU Will the pages remember the nightmares of orphans?


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RIPPERDA Poems will eulogize our sacrifice. Our deeds will live on the tongues of the bard. KENAU Will the couplets lament the sorrow of widows? RIPPERDA Anthems will honor our conviction? Our resolve will live in the voices of choirs. KENAU Will the lyrics respect the guilt of the swordsmen? (A loud drum resounds from stage left. It beats the same cadence that accompanied the pallbearers in Scene 5. The IRON DUKE, LUCIFER, and POPE PIUS V enter from stage left. LUCIFER wears an executioner’s hood. The POPE carries two brown scapulars. They position themselves behind the executioner’s block. The IRON DUKE ascends the block. The drumming stops.) KENAU Oh mother, Oh mother of God save my soul. We’re going to die. I’m not ready to die. I’ve not finished. (KENAU sobs, trembles uncontrollably and hyperventilates.) GOVERNOR RIPPERDA (In a commanding voice.) Stop. Stop, Stop. Stop, Kenau, hold my hand. (KENAU grasps the hands of GOVERNOR RIPPERDA. She continues to sob and tremble uncontrollably and to hyperventilate.) KENAU Mother. Mother. Mother. Mother Mary, save me. GOVERNOR RIPPERDA Stop. Stop. Stop. Don’t let fear be your legacy. A coward’s death is what they hope for. They’ll use it to darken the souls of our rebels. Rather than terror, show disdain. IRON DUKE Untie these traitors, remove their blindfolds. Have them face his majesty’s council. (LUCIFER removes the ropes and blindfolds. He rotates KENAU and GOVERNOR RIPPERDA to face the IRON DUKE. KENAU and GOVERNOR RIPPERDA hold hands. The IRON DUKE unfurls the condemnation sentence and proclaims.)


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IRON DUKE By the power invested in me, by his most holy majesty, King Philip II, I hereby convict you, Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer, with the crime of treason to the Spanish throne and with the mortal sin of heresy to Christ’s most Holy See. I hereby sentence you to death by drowning. (LUCIFER hauls the net from the block and hands it to KENAU. Its weight droops her shoulders. He ties the rope around her neck. Her torso bends to a strained angle, fighting the weight on her neck, as the net hangs from her hands.) IRON DUKE By the power invested in me by his most holy majesty, King Philip II, I hereby convict you, Baron Wigbolt Ripperda, with the crime of treason to the Spanish throne and with the mortal sin of heresy to Christ’s most Holy See. I hereby sentence you to death by decapitation. (LUCIFER forces GOVERNOR RIPPERDA to kneel beside the executioner’s block.) IRON DUKE Now pray for the salvation of your souls. (The IRON DUKE steps off the block.) POPE PIUS V In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Show these sinners your mercy, O Lord. Let my cry come unto you. (POPE PIUS V holds the scapulars in his left hand and blesses them with his right.) O Lord, Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, sanctify these habits in order that, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, these sinners may be defended from the evil one and may preserve in your grace until death. Who lives and reigns, world without end, Amen. (POPE PIUS V places the scapulars over the heads and shoulders of KENAU and GOVERNOR RIPPERDA.) Receive these blessed scapulars and pray that by the merits of the most Holy Virgin Mary, you may wear them without stain and that she may bring you into everlasting life. Receive this scapular as a special sign of Mary’s favor: He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire.


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In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (Undetected, DERDEKEA, lifts KENAU’S scapular and unties the rope around her neck; its ends hang loose. KENAU’S head and torso raise from the weight loss. DERDEKEA lowers the scapular. KENAU’S shoulders remain drooped.) IRON DUKE It does not have to end like this. Admit your guilt. Swear your allegiance to the king. (Pleading to GOVERNOR RIPPERDA) I offer you freedom. Swear your loyalty to the throne. Pledge contrition to your confessor. Plead for the king’s mercy. Your tongue can win your liberty. (GOVERNOR RIPPERDA lays his head upon the chopping block. He stares directly at the audience.) GOVERNOR RIPPERDA (With a desperate shout. Proclaims.) No man is free, until every man is free. (The IRON DUKE motions to LUCIFER, slicing his neck with his two fingers. LUCIFER raises the ax high over the block.) DERDEKEA (At its height, before the ax is swung downward, DERDEKEA shouts with scorn, to the IRON DUKE and POPE PIUS V, yet undetected.) God will finish what he has started. BLACKOUT END OF PLAY Optional Scene 9: Repeat Scene 1


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WHAT WE DID IN QUARANTINE A 90-second Zoom play by Rich Rubin Characters MAN: middle-aged or older WOMAN: same AT RISE: A MAN and a WOMAN on Zoom. They are middle-aged or older. We see just their faces, at least initially. They only address the audience, not each other.

MAN: “What did we do in quarantine,” you ask? WOMAN: Well, some people baked bread. MAN: Some watched Netflix. WOMAN: But not us. MAN: No. WOMAN: We became nudists! MAN: Yes! Finally! Au naturale! WOMAN: I mean, it’s just the two of us in the house anyway, right? MAN: And just think of all the money we’re saving on laundry detergent! WOMAN: At first, we weren’t planning to tell our friends. MAN: Heavens, no! WOMAN: But we figured they were bound to find out sooner or later. MAN: FaceTime! (If we see more of their bodies, there is a blue “censored” rectangle across the WOMAN’S chest. Who knows? Maybe across the MAN’S as well.) WOMAN: Plus, as a rule – MAN: Nudists are not very good at keeping secrets! WOMAN: Something we’ve come to notice – MAN: Along with everything else!


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WOMAN: Though my sister, she was very concerned about us. MAN: This is true. / She was. WOMAN: She said: “You’re not going outside, are you?” MAN: And we said: “No! Of course not!” WOMAN: “Just for the mail.” MAN: “And short walks around the block!” WOMAN: “But don’t worry,” we told her. “The neighbors will never recognize us – we’re both wearing masks, remember?” MAN: What? You think Netflix is better?

(End of play.)


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THE BIRDS ARE WATCHING US A Conspiracy Theory Comedy By Lavinia Roberts CHARACTERS CASSANDRA, Female; Totally into conspiracy theories. LEAH, Female; Also into conspiracy theories. SETTING: A Zoom Call LEAH: Greetings! Glad to see you haven’t fallen off our flat earth! CASSANDRA: Oh hey. Yeah. LEAH: This isn’t like you to do something as insecure as a zoom chat? I mean, aren’t you worried about the encryption being intercepted by aliens? CASSANDRA: Yeah. Sure. Aliens. LEAH: Oh, oh, oh, guess what just came up in my friendface feed? It’s like this “reptoid hypothesis,” that these reptilian elite, you know reptilian humanoids, live among us with the intention of enslaving the human race. It’s the B horror movie of conspiracy theories, if you ask me. Almost as good as the hollow earthers. Funny, huh? CASSANDRA: Yeah. Funny. LEAH: Oh, oh, and this came up on Pictogram. The founder of Friendface, pouring money into finding a cure for Covid 25, is putting nanobots into the vaccine in order to, you know “track us”. Pretty wild, huh? CASSANDRA: Sure. Wild. LEAH: Cassandra. It’s not like you to not go “as wild as a bigfoot” about an utterly ridiculous conspiracy theory. Remember that summer we told everyone at choir camp that we were... (In a British accent) British descendants of Van Helsing and that the royal family are secretly vampires. The British monarchs are descended from Vlad the Impaler. Why, all the royals have Porphyria, an iron-deficiency disease that makes their skin sensitive to sunlight. No one believed Prince Charles was a bloodsucking eternally damned undead fiend, but they did think we were from Bristol. Brilliant. Utterly brilliant. CASSANDRA: Brilliant. (British Accent) Jolly good fun, that was. LEAH: Cassandra. Come on. You are all about Elvis still being alive or Stonehenge being constructed by architecturally-inclined aliens? What secret government agency has got you like this? CASSANDRA: It’s crazy, people believe those things, right? Not ironically, but really believe them.


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LEAH: Of course. CASSANDRA: Like, it’s funny you know, the craziness of people who think the moon landing was faked, and filmed by Stanley Kubrick or the belief that the particle accelerator at CERN, the Hadron Collider, will open the gates of hell any day now. LEAH: Yeah. So crazy. So funny. CASSANDRA: Take, the conspiracy theory “The Birds are Watching Us.” The theory that birds are actually government surveillance drones. LEAH: Wait, what? CASSANDRA: Yeah, like birds, have been hunted down and replaced with flying spy cam lookalikes. I mean, why else would the CIA assassinate John F. Kennedy, except that he was an avid bird watcher who refused to kill and replace billions of birds with drones. Or our tax dollars are being used to build the “Turkey X500,” a robot used to exterminate large birds as we speak. LEAH: I don’t know, this is way too far-fetched to be a good conspiracy theory. Solid conspiracy theories need a quark of truth. Granted not a whole atom, but still a quark. This is outright absurd. CASSANDRA: Right. “The Birds Are watching Us”...it’s more ironic, making fun of how ridiculous conspiracy theories can be. LEAH: Maybe. Yeah. I can see that. CASSANDRA: No one would ever actually believe that birds are airbound robots, monitoring our every move. LEAH: No way. CASSANDRA: Like, if someone makes up a fake pictogram account discussing that birds are actually part of the surveillance state, no one would actually follow that, right? LEAH: Ironically sure, but not, in earnest. CASSANDRA: Exactly. Now explain to me why there are over 2 million followers to this “the birds are watching us” account. LEAH: Whoa. 2 million? CASSANDRA: 2 million. LEAH: They must be ironically following. Like, hipsters, who turn everything into a joke and feign indifference in order to avoid the real terror of emotionally processing and understanding the immense complexity and terrifyingness of all the crazy things happening right now. Like us. CASSANDRA: No, I mean, not ironically following. Really following. (Reads from phone) Glad that the truth has finally “spread its wings” and is “soaring away,” for all to see! This is something to “crow” about! Or this one. This makes me “stork raven” mad! “Lark” them up and throw away the key!”


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LEAH: Whoa! CASSANDRA: There are a ton of spin off websites that people are flocking too. Fowl Play: Stop Hawk-eyed Government Drones. Or Spies in the Skies! A Surveillance State in Nest to No Time.” LEAH: What crazy as a loon, weirdo started this whole “The Birds Are Watching Us” thing? Some totally irresponsible, life-deficient, bird-brained, cuckoo. CASSANDRA: Like, me. LEAH: You? CASSANDRA: Yes, you are zoom chatting with the creator of the “The Birds Are Watching Us,” conspiracy theory. LEAH: Can’t you just tell them it’s not real? That the whole conspiracy theory was just a feather-brained lie? CASSANDRA: “Birds are actually warm-blooded egg-laying vertebrates and not tools of the surveillance state. This was just a joke, seriously peeps.” I’ve tried posting everything I could think of. But they just say that “I am a black swan who sold out to the vulture elite and they will continue to crow like roosters about this until these mechanical menaces are shot down from the sky.” LEAH: What!? CASSANDRA: Look. There is even “The Birds Are Watching Us,” apparel websites. With tshirts that say, Accept a Surveillance State? “Wren” hell freezes over! Or Birds are a bad egg! Flock together to stop aviary spies! Cage feathery drones! LEAH: Whoa! CASSANDRA: Leah, I’m being watched like a hawk, like, these people are going to get me. I mean, someone posted, “you should be locked in a cage or cooked like a goose for trying to hide the truth. Prepare to be as dead as a dodo” I can’t read you all these messages, but Leah, these birds are spy drone believers are after me, like an eagle swooping in for the kill at 200 miles per hour! (British accent again.) Perhaps I need to freshen up on my British accent and migrate across the pond! LEAH: Cassandra, you’ve read too many conspiracy theories. It’s the internet, people are just, you know all a twitter but would never actually fly out and do anything. It’s not real life. Why, I’m sure… (CASSANDRA disappears/video is disrupted.) Cassandra? Cassandra? Cassandra! END OF PLAY


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Outbreak/Breakout A short stage play by Marina Koestler Ruben (JORGE and ANTONIO wait at a bus stop in Mexico, doing whatever waiting people do: crocheting, fidgeting, blowing bubbles. There is a sense that the bus might or might not really come, a la Endgame or R&G are Dead or Waiting for Godot. ANTONIO is skeptical, while JORGE waits with certainty, with a large suitcase. The side of the suitcase the audience sees is intact.) ANTONIO: So you’re really going. JORGE: Would you believe me if I said it’s better there? Or so I’m told. ANTONIO: How? JORGE: (facetiously) “The streets are paved with gold.” ANTONIO: That’s a cliche. JORGE: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. ANTONIO: Outside of the deep compliment bestowed on a country by illegal border crossing. JORGE: Correction: legal border crossing. It’s legal if you cross on a bus. ANTONIO: In the luggage hold? JORGE: You can’t prove that. ANTONIO: You have a person-shaped cut-out in the side of your luggage. (Turns suitcase around. Reveals a large cut-out shaped like a crouching person.) JORGE: True. I see what it looks like. It’s not what you think, though. ANTONIO: What I think? What about what you think? Hey, what if it’s not going where you think it’s going? JORGE: Past the wall? ANTONIO: Yes, past the wall. North. But what if it doesn’t go all the way to the border? JORGE: I’ve waited for this bus before. ANTONIO: We’ve all waited for this bus before, amigo. I’ve been training my eyes on Polaris since the womb. Doesn’t mean I’m getting where I want to go. Doesn’t mean it’s coming. Even if it pulls past this popsicle stand, doesn’t mean they’ll stop and let you on. Who are you to them? JORGE: I belong there.


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ANTONIO: You look ready to go. (Motions to the suitcase.) JORGE: “Chance favors the prepared.” ANTONIO: That’s by…. JORGE: Louis Pasteur. He developed the germ theory of disease. ANTONIO: You seem remarkably well-educated for someone fleeing— JORGE: I’m not fleeing. ANTONIO: —for someone trying to leave for a better life. JORGE: Just because I’m poor doesn’t mean I’m uneducated. ANTONIO: Are you poor? JORGE: Just because I’m rich doesn’t mean I’m safe. ANTONIO: Are you rich? JORGE: Just because I’m safe today—haven’t been shot yet, haven’t starved yet, haven’t been raped yet—doesn’t mean I’ll be safe tomorrow. ANTONIO: You seem angry. JORGE: I’m human. ANTONIO: I’m waiting for the quote. JORGE: “To be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” ANTONIO: Pasteur? JORGE: James Baldwin. ANTONIO: “To be relatively—” JORGE: “—conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” ANTONIO: Are you? JORGE: Am I what? ANTONIO: In a rage? JORGE: Don’t you read the newspapers? Listen, it’s a shithole out there. ANTONIO: That does sound familiar. Baldwin? JORGE: More recent. Though Baldwin actually did have the best words. ANTONIO: Just because you’re mad doesn’t mean they’re going to let you in. JORGE: On, you mean? ANTONIO: No, not on the bus. In the country.


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(Pause.) JORGE: I’m a citizen. ANTONIO: What? No. JORGE: Yes. ANTONIO: If you’re a citizen there, why would you come here? JORGE: Turned out our political heroes were enslavers, our musical heroes were pedophiles, our news broadcasters were misogynists, our urban zones decayed, our rural areas self-medicated, and our pandemics ran rampant. People did what they wanted and pretended everyone else was the problem. It wasn’t a great place to be. ANTONIO: You came here? JORGE: I took a new name and started a new life as a dishwasher. ANTONIO: We have gang violence. Drug cartels. JORGE: Lesser of two evils, hombre, and the balance tipped. ANTONIO: But you’re going back? JORGE: I have to do my duty. ANTONIO: To vote? JORGE: To get my family out. To be the South Star. (ANTONIO, newly understanding that JORGE is allowed to go where JORGE is going, looks at the suitcase.) ANTONIO: So that’s not—? JORGE: No. I have a ticket. And a passport. ANTONIO: Can I—? (ANTONIO approaches the suitcase.) JORGE: You’re going the wrong way, hombre. ANTONIO: To each his own. JORGE: That’s the spirit. You’ll fit right in.

(ANTONIO curls up in the suitcase. Bus horn honks. JORGE stands and lifts the luggage. Lights out.)


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PRE-MORTEM A monologue by Isabelle Chirls (A young woman fresh out of medical school, DR. RUTH, enters carrying a manilla folder. A stethoscope hangs around her neck, and she is dressed in a white lab coat. It’s a little too big on her. She settles into her seat, looking distinctly unsettled, and opens the folder to review the patient file inside. After a moment, someone out-offrame catches her attention.) DR. RUTH: (to someone out-of-frame) Tell her I’ll be right in. Thanks. (She takes a shaky, calming breath. It doesn’t calm her. Then, to herself:) Okay, okay. Let’s just take a minute to practice. Doctors are always running late, right? …And, go. (plastering on a smile) Good morning, Mrs. Schaefer. My name is Dr. Ruth. How are you feeling? Shit—don’t ask her that. God, weren’t you paying attention third year? Dr. Leopold said we should never ask a patient that. Jesus Christ. Try it again. (She resets.) Good morning, Mrs. Schaefer. My name is Dr. Ruth. So, what brings you in today? Uh huh. Uh huh. See how I’m making eye contact with you right now? I mean, I’m not trying to creep you out—I just want to show you that I’m listening. Uh huh. Uh huh. See how I’m taking copious notes as you’re talking to me? Well, maybe not copious—I can’t be staring down at my notepad if I want to keep that eye contact, right? Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay, great! I’m going to take your vitals now, so just give me a deep breath. And again. And again. Good. That’s a lovely necklace you’re wearing, by the way. What do the initials stand for? Your grandchildren? That’s sweet. What are their names? See how I’m asking you, so you know I really care about you as a person? Oh, you have a new grandchild! Congratulations! That’s wonderful. …Okay, looks good! So, just sit tight, and I’ll grab your file right here, and we can go over your scans from radiology, and I’ll… (She opens the folder once again, referring back to the patient file.) …and I’ll tell you that it’s gotten worse. That you’re—that you’re not going to get better…. Fuck. (beat) I thought the hardest part of being a doctor would be getting into med school. I spent all those hours studying, I did the research, I got through school—I thought I knew everything. I


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thought I was ready. But this… this woman has a family, grandchildren—a new grandchild, for God’s sake. How am I supposed to tell her that she’s not going to be around to see them grow up? (small beat) When I was little, I used to play doctor. I’d put on my little toy stethoscope that my mother got me for my birthday, and I’d run around pretending to listen to my parents’ heartbeats. Whenever one of them got a cold or something, I’d just put my stethoscope on and say, “Lots of bedrest and tea, and you’ll be all better in the morning!” And they would be. Well, I have a real stethoscope now. And published research and practical experience and a degree! I’m the real fucking deal! …So, why do I still feel like I’m playing dress-up? They give you this white coat and make you think it means something—they make a whole ceremony out of it. But really, it just feels like a costume. Like I put this on every morning to come to the hospital only to play doctor again. But this… this is anything but play. This woman is dying. And I can’t do anything but tell her. (After a moment, someone out-of-frame catches her attention once again.) (to someone out-of-frame) Sorry, I’m coming. Yeah, I’m okay. I’ll be right in. (She takes another breath. Then, she takes the stethoscope from around her neck, puts the earpieces in her ears, and lays the chest piece against her chest. She closes her eyes and breathes, listening to her own heartbeat. After a few moments, she opens her eyes, removes the earpieces, and puts the stethoscope back around her neck. She gets up from her chair and grabs the patient file, holding it firmly against her chest.) (DR. RUTH exits.) END OF PLAY


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The 40th Man or the 28th Woman (The Fortieth Man or the Twenty-Eighth Woman) A short play by Saeb Mir MAN: Everything was alright. We were happy. The sound of scream and mourning was in the basement in the box. Some days, it was so loud that we wished the silence we have right now. There was nothing but life. Our thinly populated didn’t matter at all. The very last week. I am in conditions that maybe no one could understand. Maybe I can’t understand others. I am in a village, in a cottage, in the farthest spot of the village. I am waiting to die. As I breathe, my breath doesn’t even hope for the next one. The whole men of this village dealt with the ordeal of death. My destiny would be the same as the other 38 men who disappointed the folk, the 27 women, in 7 days. I am number 39, the thirty-ninth death. The next child will be the 40th hope or 28th woman. (Starting point) MAN: Everything is alright now. I am Saeed. I am still alive. Since I’m sick, being alive or being dead doesn’t matter to anyone anymore, even for those 26 women who look up to my wife. I‘ve got married for a year. Maybe no one attends my funeral. It takes a day until the smell of my corpse reaches to the next door. Perhaps they’ll find it out tomorrow. Everything is alright now. They are mourning. After this nightmare, our happiness faded away in the basement, in the box. It’s been a week since everything went wrong, since Hassan, the new groom, died. He was one of the 39 men. No one knew why he died. His whole body became bruised. It started last week when I suddenly woke up. As I woke up in the morning, I found out Hassan is dead. He was the first man who died. They said there was no time to take him to a doctor. He was recently married. No one was allowed to marry someone out of the village. No one has ever got married to a stranger. There was no time to take him to a doctor. The fever. His whole body got bruised then he died. His death brought fear more than sorrow for our people, the fear of a kind of death that has never happened among the ancestor of the village. A new death. Everyone gathered around his body. Folks were getting away with inverted steps from the bruised body laid on the ground. After an hour, people lifted the body. Despite others who were changing their positions, I was the only person who consistently held the body which was held unwillingly. Then a strange smell which was unfamiliar to anybody came out of the body. Everyone stood still. The body was put too far that I wasn’t sure for him we were praying. When we were approaching Hassan, someone from the crowd fell down. I remembered of folk’s description of Hassan’s death. They told his fever was just like Hassan’s. Someone shouted, “Bring a bowl of cold water.” (Silence) He died. He bruised just like Hassan. There was a body in the center, and as the time went by the center of the crowed started to bruise and to bruise. So there were two bodies that everyone was afraid of lifting them up. Last night, before Hassan died, I saw a dream. I was in the middle of a jungle. The trees were too tall that the top of them couldn’t be seen. I was in somewhere with too tall trees, too tall that couldn’t be compared with the trees of our village. That was a strange dream. Trees weren’t trees. I wasn’t myself. There were 27 trees in that jungle, and there was a tree which was me, a dead tree. Too dead that if a wind blew, the smallest particle of me wouldn’t be as big as a leaf of


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the other trees. Yet we were still and Motionless. We put those bodies too far, and approached them too slow that when they were buried, it was night. Funeral was held in total silence. People were scared as if they would become Hassan, yet not bruised. No one talked to one another. The sound of the shutting door was the last thing I heard. It is the first time when it is dark the lights of the houses are on. I don’t think anybody sleeps tonight. It’s been 3 hours since Hassam was buried, yet there aren’t any lights off. I was the one who turned the lights of the cottage off. Then all the houses in the village went dark. We were about to sleep when a strange smell cause the lights to be turned on, the very smell which wasn’t familiar at all. Nobody slept until sunrise. Several women screamed aloud. When we got to the houses, we saw bruised and cold bodies just like Hassan’s. 5 more men died today, 5 men. We are 32 men now, yet no woman died. An unknown disease of which nobody ever heard has been spread to the village. Since yesterday, after that scream, it’s been silence. We didn’t know what to do with these 5 bodies. We started to wash the first one then the 6th man added, then the 7th, 8th and so on. We couldn’t manage to bury them. The bruised men were all over the place. Women called it Killing-men disease. The men of our village were dying one by one, and someone’s breath is in my ears all the time. 4 or 5 men died each day. After one week, all women became widow. All women became widow but my wife. I am the last one who is still alive. The 39th. The village contains 27 women and one man. I am the sole survivor along with women who wish their generation does not end here. I’ve got married for a year. If everything goes as it went this week, I will die in 5 minutes. Right now, I’m in the farthest spot of the village where my father died. Perhaps no one comes to my funeral. From where I look, all houses in the village are dark except my home. Right now, all those 27 women have gathered in my home. 26 women along with my wife, who is pregnant, are looking forward to a swollen belly. It is highly important that the only pregnant woman in the village gives birth to a boy. It must be a boy. The swollen belly is the 40th hope or 28th women. My whole body is bruised like Hassan’s. I don’t know the reason why I haven’t died yet. I wish I could see my baby no matter whether it’s a boy or a girl. (Scene fade to white) I died. I even felt the smell of my corpse before I died. I was laid bruised as Hassan’s. My whole memories are passing through my eyes as I tiredly see them, and now the women are the only survivors with an only wish that its fulfillment is dependent on one swollen belly. (The play goes on with the same actor) MAN: My name is Hope, Saeed’s son. I was born in 1988. The same hope that those 27 women wished to be born and to continue their generation. My mom says there was a time that an unknown disease was spread out to our village, and it killed all the men. My father was the last one who died. They say I take after him, even my shadow looks like him. To be given birth to a baby boy was the destiny of my people. To be given birth to me, Hope. I’ve gotten married four times to four remaining girls in the village. I’m 18 right now. It’s been 3 years since my first marriage, yet no baby is born. My last marriage was about 3 weeks


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ago. Then I came to this cottage. It’s been 3 days that I waited someone to knock on my door, and in these 3 days I continuously hear someone is knocking. Everything is alright except the presence of a baby. I’ll get the news when someone knocks on my door. The news is about a new baby or a new groom. I saw a strange dream last night. I was in the middle of a jungle. The trees were too tall that the top of them couldn’t be seen. I was in somewhere with too tall trees, too tall that couldn’t be compared with the trees of our village. That was a strange dream. Trees weren’t trees. I wasn’t myself. There were 27 trees in that jungle, and there was a tree which was me, a dead tree. Too dead that if a wind blew, the smallest particle of me wouldn’t be as big as a leaf of the other trees, a dead tree waiting for the rain to blossom. The baby who was supposed to be born had born, a boy as everybody wished for, but it’s been rumored that I am sterile, and it been 3 days since I stuck in my dream waiting for the rain. I am in a cottage now. An abandoned cottage where is located in the farthest spot of the village. My father had died here. People sense the fear of the 18 years ago. I am the same Hope who is disappointing the hope of a generation; however, our people’s hope had been destroyed two month before Hassan’s death when a chemical bomb was hit our village, just near our village, about an hour and half away. War is the worst of all. I came here waiting for someone to knock on the door. It seems this smell is in my gene unless a knock proves it wrong. Maybe all of these are just a dream, or not. Everything is alright now except the presence of a baby. I hope it rains.


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THE BOY A short play by Aaron Leventman CHARACTERS Devon, early 30s, Richard, late 40s SETTING: New York City Loft YEAR: 1995 AT RISE: Devon talks on the phone. DEVON: You have this little tuft of hair that peaks up from your undershirt. It drives me nuts…Sure I like hairy men. (He doesn’t notice Richard walking through the door who moves slowly and looks pale as he goes to get a drink of water. He listens to Devon.) DEVON: I’m glad that you don’t shave your body. I like men, not boys. Why don’t you come over? (Richard suddenly runs offstage and throws up. Devon realizes that Richard’s home.) DEVON: Listen, I should go. I’ll call you later. (calls out to Richard) Are you okay? (Richard reenters as he wipes his mouth.) RICHARD: Yeah, I’m fabulous. Who were you talking to? DEVON: Just this guy Joey I met at the gym. What are you doing home so soon? RICHARD: I showed up an hour early and they were able to see me then. DEVON: Looking forward to it that much, huh? RICHARD: I guess you could say I was at loose ends. DEVON: (anxious) So? RICHARD: So what?


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DEVON: So what did the doctor say about your T cell count? RICHARD: It’s the same. DEVON: New drug helping? What’s it called? RICHARD: Protease inhibitor. Let me tell you it’s no martini. It looks like a horrid Nyquil and tastes like iodine mixed with rubbing alcohol. DEVON: That good, huh? RICHARD: Oh, and don’t feel guilty that I had to go alone. DEVON: Frank was supposed to drive you. RICHARD: I took a cab. Something came up at the last minute for him. That’s what happens when you get sick. You realize that your address book is full of fair weather friends. DEVON: I’m sorry. RICHARD: At least you had the option to get laid instead. DEVON: I’m a shit. I know. RICHARD: I can’t say I blame you. I know I haven’t been able to…in a long time. And sorry for killing the moment. But why don’t you just go to his place? DEVON: He lives with his parents. RICHARD: Figures. DEVON: It’s not like he’s THAT young or anything. More like he’s fallen on hard times. RICHARD: I could teach a thing or two about hard times. So when you go to the gym every day, you’re not just doing squats. (pause) Actually, you ARE there doing squats. DEVON: Very funny. So what did they say about next steps? RICHARD: Can we talk about something else? I’ve felt like shit lately. You could put me out of my misery sooner rather than later if you want. The bottle of sleeping pills are in the medicine cabinet in case I’m too weak to get to them. You could just put them in my pudding and I won’t suspect a thing. DEVON: Won’t there be a chalky under-taste like the chocolate mousse in Rosemary’s Baby? RICHARD: I’ll pretend not to notice. DEVON: I think you’re getting off on the drama of being sick more than anything else in a Susan Hayward movie kind of way.


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RICHARD: Don’t worry. Whatever the prognosis is, I’ll Cry Tomorrow. (pause) If you want to invite Joey over, I can take a spa treatment for the afternoon and give you both quality time together. DEVON: I don’t think he’s a quality time type of guy. RICHARD: Then maybe when I go you should at least try finding someone with good housekeeping skills for you since yours leaves something to be desired. DEVON: Why? It’s not like you’re going anywhere. In any case, I’d take after my mom and hire a housekeeper, anyway. RICHARD: You might want to think about getting a job first. You can’t be a kept boy forever. And I wouldn’t recommend looking for one as a houseboy. You’d last about a day. DEVON: I’d make more tips waiting tables again. RICHARD: I wouldn’t be so sure of that. All the jobs are going to 20-year-olds I’ve heard. DEVON: Thanks for reminding me. RICHARD: Don’t worry. I’ll leave you everything in my will. DEVON: Oh, great. You’re Joni Mitchell LP collection I’m sure will be enough to live on for a lifetime. RICHARD: I was thinking more of my 401k I’ve been accumulating much of my working life. And you’ll just swoop in there and take it all. DEVON: Yep. That’s what I do. Anyway, you’re diverting the subject. You’re trying again to make it seem like you’re a terminal patient when you’re fine, just a little thin. RICHARD: Well, if you were a better cook… DEVON: Again. I take after my mother. RICHARD: Still blaming your mom for everything, huh? I’ll have to teach you how to make my famous low calorie shepherd’s pie. DEVON: Well, I hate to tell you this, but I always hated that dish. Cauliflower doesn’t make a good substitution for mashed potatoes. RICHARD: You could have told me that sooner. DEVON: I guess there are a lot of things I could have told you sooner. RICHARD: Care to divulge? We could be running out of time. DEVON: There you go again. RICHARD: You know, it’s okay if a part of you looks forward to having me gone.


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DEVON: What part would that be? The bitchy part? RICHARD: Don’t worry. I understand. If I was in your shoes I wouldn’t mind inheriting this fabulous loft in Soho, having the place to yourself all the time, fucking tricks in the living room without interruption. DEVON: I was more looking forward to not making the bed every morning, eating Sugar Pops for dinner, and renting episodes of Mary Tyler Moore. (pause) Even if any of this is true, which it isn’t, why are you harping on it now? RICHARD: I just occurred to me that you might feel bad about it. Not that you would. DEVON: Thanks. RICHARD: I know that you care about me. DEVON: At least you’re giving me that. RICHARD: But I also know that you can be hard on yourself, and I’m trying to tell you, don’t be. Not that I don’t want you to take charge of your life. You’re not 21 anymore. Those wrinkles under your eyes gives you away. DEVON: Enough with the sarcasm. RICHARD: I’ve earned a little sarcasm, and then some. DEVON: Look, you can’t just cast me in the role as the slutty gold-digger to make it easier for you to go. RICHARD: I promise you. If it happens, it’s not going to be easy for either of us. I know that you’re no Florence Nightingale. More like Nurse Ratched. DEVON: I’ve never been much of a caregiver. It’ll be off to the nursing home for you. But I hope you don’t think I’m one of those boyfriends who would desert you when the time comes, not that I wouldn’t hold it past me. RICHARD: You’re right. I wouldn’t hold it past you, either. But, no. I don’t think that. Somehow even if you didn’t make it to my deathbed at the hospital, I would think that you meant well and were there in spirit, or at least in the cafeteria getting a snickers. DEVON: I think you mean skittles but snickers if that’s all they had. RICHARD: That is if we’re lucky to have a sympathetic nurse who’ll let you in. And you need to learn how to transition from HAVING a sugar daddy to BEING one. I remember that unfortunate time very well, around the time I met you. DEVON: You were always too cheap to be a sugar daddy. RICHARD: Maybe you’ll learn from me, then. DEVON: I’ve learned enough.


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RICHARD: You’re sure about that? DEVON: I’m tired of things changing. RICHARD: Everything would get boring if they didn’t. DEVON: Sometimes I like boring. RICHARD: I know that’s not true. You’re a true drama queen at heart. DEVON: You should talk, Miss Susan Hayward. RICHARD: You know you’ll miss me. DEVON: Except you’re not going anywhere, remember? RICHARD: Right. I forgot. You’re a film escapist. Still think you’ll get that happy ending. (The phone rings. Devon picks it up.) DEVON: Hello? Sorry, I have to take a rain check. Yeah, see you at the gym. (Devon hangs up the phone.) RICHARD: Is it the boy? DEVON: Yes, his parents are gone for the day and he wants me to come over. RICHARD: You could have gone. DEVON: Yeah, right. RICHARD: Then he can come here for that rain check. I can hide in the bedroom. I’m used to it. As long as he can take the sight of a man getting sick in the bathroom. DEVON: If he can’t then he can take a hike. RICHARD: Little Devon’s growing up. DEVON: Just do your best not to die on me. RICHARD: I’ll do my best. DEVON: So will I. RICHARD: I didn’t realize you were dying. DEVON: I’m not. I meant, I’ll do my best to get my act together.


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RICHARD: Just in case, maybe you should find someone to look out for you. If not this boy, there are other fish in the sea. DEVON: I don’t need SOMEONE to look out for me. I need YOU to look out for me. Don’t you get it? RICHARD: What if I can’t promise you that? And in case you don’t learn to fend for yourself, I worry about you being on your own. DEVON: I’ll be fine. RICHARD: You will? Then let me rest easy, and prove it. DEVON: I don’t know how. RICHARD: It’ll come to you. Give it time. But don’t take too long. DEVON: We have plenty of time. RICHARD: Maybe not. (pause) I lied. My t-cell count is zero. I didn’t think you could have a zero count and still be walking around but apparently so. DEVON: What does that mean? RICHARD: Let’s just say it’s not looking good. DEVON: That drug didn’t help at all? RICHARD: I dropped out of the trial. DEVON: What?! RICHARD: Whenever I had to pour that nasty sludge down my throat it always reminded me how sick I am. DEVON: So? If it saves your life… RICHARD: The AZT almost killed me. What if this isn’t any different? (pause) All of my friends died from this. So why shouldn’t I? DEVON: Maybe because I don’t want you to go just yet. I’ll tie you to the couch and pour it down your throat if I have to. Get back into that fucking trial. RICHARD: Dev, it’s too late for that. Devon looks like he’s about to cry. Richard comforts him. RICHARD: I was just thinking how you look exactly the same to me as when I first saw you at that lesbian potluck. DEVON: You just hit on me because I was the only man there.


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RICHARD: You had overgrown, messed up hair, jeans with holes in them, and a polo shirt where the collar wasn’t folded right. I straightened it for you. DEVON: You know that I’ve never been much for fashion. RICHARD: You looked like an adorable lost puppy dog. And I think I fell in love with you then. You still look that adorable, and maybe just a little less lost. DEVON: And you don’t think you had anything to do with that? RICHARD: Maybe just a tiny bit. (Richard tries to steady himself.) DEVON: What’s wrong? RICHARD: Life just caught up with me a little. DEVON: Maybe you should go take that nap. RICHARD: I think you’re right for once. DEVON: Let me get the electric blanket for you. You’re shivering. RICHARD: Does this mean that the trip to the nursing home is being postponed? I’ve never been one for mahjong. And I’m not shivering. DEVON: Yes, you are. It’ll warm up the sheets for you. RICHARD: It sounds like Nurse Ratched is off duty for tonight. DEVON: Nurse Florence Nightengale fired her and is taking over. Don’t worry. I’ll keep you warm. RICHARD: Promise? (Devon takes Richard’s hand.) (LIGHTS OUT.)


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BLAXPLOITATION A stage play by Zachariah Ezer Epigraphs "Temporal domination is essential to slavery... Black beings are disoriented within metaphysical time; they are temporally homeless...Wellness, then, is the compulsion to dominate time, to turn it into an object... Sickness, by contrast, defines the inability to objectify... time to live within it." –Calvin Warren, Black Time “The struggle with it betrays the fact that the infection has done its work” –Georg Wilhelm Fredric Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit “It’s after the end of the world…Don’t you know that yet?” –June Tyson, Space is the Place Characters Jefferson Stone – Black, Male, 30s Lucy – Black, Female, 40s (Also plays a House Manager, Patient Zero, The First One, and Lucy Smith) Old Nigga – Black, NonBinary, Old (Also plays Roxie Spectacular and a Cultist) The Terror – White, Male, 30s50s (Plays a Zombie, a Doctor, a Slaver, John Greenwood, and an Usher) Development History Workshop, The Lark, 2019 Workshop, The New Cosmopolitans, 2020 (At rise, the actor playing LUCY, a Black woman, should give the house speech into a microphone. She should end with the following.) LUCY: (as House Manager) We here at the [name of theatre] would like to thank you again for coming out for a midnight screening. I convinced [artistic director] to show this one, and he told me no one would come out, so I'm so glad we proved him wrong. I knew if we got Roxie to show up, there'd be a huge crowd. So without further ado, they were the first AD on Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song, Dolemite, and Abar, The First Black Superman; the number of films they did an uncredited rewrite for is too many to count, but most notably, they wrote and directed the film you're going to see tonight. So, please, put your hands together for the one, the only, Roxie Spectacular! (Hold for applause as the actor playing OLD NIGGA, an older Black non-binary person, shambles onstage. They're dressed loudly, like it's still 1977, because for them it still is.) Roxie, would you like to say a few words before we get started? OLD NIGGA: (as Roxie) They don't wanna hear nothin' from me.


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LUCY: Oh, come on. These people are die-hard fans. How far did some of you come? What about you? (Lucy puts the microphone in the face of someone in the front row and awaits their answer.) [Place]? That's wild! I can't believe you came all this way. Please, Roxie. (Roxie looks back and shrugs.) OLD NIGGA: Well, if that’s what you really want. LUCY: Can we give Roxie a huge hand? (Hold for applause again. Roxie takes the microphone, energized.) OLD NIGGA: Thank you, [name of actor playing Lucy], for organizing this. After all these years, I didn't think anyone still cared about my little picture. We shot it for nothing at night on American International's lot while they were shooting Cooley High during the day. I sold my house, maxed out my credit card, and divorced my wife (laughs) to get this thing finished, and I still had to do rewrite work for the next three years just to pay it off... Then when it was all said and done, no one wanted to distribute this thing. Not American International, not MGM, who were doing those kinds of pictures at the time. RKO wouldn't even slot it into one of their double features... (Roxie sighs.) They said there was too much going on. I don't know if they meant the picture or me... It's not like it is today, you had to choose. I had to choose, being a filmmaker or... This picture is credited to Milton Fitzhugh. That's my government name, if that tells you anything. I couldn't even four­wall this thing myself; no theater wanted me anywhere near them, no matter if I could fill the place. This is the first time this print has been shown anywhere besides the side of a building. It's just been collecting dust in my apartment... You never appeal to the communities you expect, but you kids brought me out of retirement. I had no idea what non-binary meant or what afro-pessimism is, but when [actor playing Lucy] told me about them, told me about all of you... Well, it felt like coming home. I got Twitter because she told me about the BlackZombies hashtag, and I was blown away someone found stills of A Time to Die. You know we wanted to call this thing Deathwish? But Charles Bronson had some damn good lawyers... Anyway, I've done enough talking. [Actor playing Lucy] wants to ask me a couple of questions afterwards, and I'll be happy to sign anything you got, but for now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the movie that ruined my fucking life. This is A Time to Die.


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(Blackout.) (We hear the sounds of an old projector starting up. A dull light bathes the stage in blue. JEFFERSON STONE, a Black man in a martial arts gi, sitting on a couch.) NEWSCASTER: It appears to be the end of days. The dead have risen out of their graves and are feasting upon the flesh of the living. People are advised to stay in their homes at all costs. The dead may move slowly, but they are lethal at close contact. If someone you know has been bitten, quarantine them immediately before they turn... (Jefferson turns off the television. Lights come up and he moves upstage to a phone.) JEFFERSON: (on phone) Monty, the world's gone to hell. It looks like it's time to get the Uptown Boys back together... Monty?... Monty! (He slams down the receiver.) Damn. The bastards got Monty. Ain't nobody safe... Dead folks walkin' around. I hope they're not trying to settle no unfinished business. (Jefferson steals a look at a framed picture on the wall of a Black woman who looks like Lucy.) Tara? (Suddenly, we hear a crash from stage left. The Terror, as a zombie, shambles onstage.) THE TERROR: (as a zombie) Uhh... JEFFERSON: Oh hell nah!

(Jefferson readies himself. The zombie lurches towards him, gaining as much speed as the undead can before setting upon Jefferson.)

How you like that aikido, motherfucker?


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(He uses the zombie's lunge against him and picks him up, throwing him offstage without getting bitten.) (He starts reciting his battle cry in the cadence of The Dozens.)

When you mess with the master, Jefferson Stone, There's only one outcome; you gonna get thrown! He's a mystical man of the martial arts, So you best know better than to act up in these parts! Number one defender of the mean city streets, And poonani killer when he's between them sheets! (Satisfied, he exits and returns with a magic lamp.) If one of the managed to get into my sanctum, this is more serious than I thought. I got this magic lamp for stopping that assassination attempt on the Shah last winter; now might be the perfect time to see if he was bullshittin’ me. (Jefferson sits down and rubs the lamp. The stage fills with smoke. When it clears, Lucy, now a genie, appears.) LUCY: (as genie) Hello master, what is your wish? JEFFERSON: Well hot damn! That son of a bitch was tellin’ the truth. (Another quick Dozens rhyme.) Honey, my name is Jefferson Stone, and I ain’t nobody’s master but my own. (He returns to speaking normally.) I got some wishes, but leave all that master stuff at the door, dig? LUCY: (rolling her eyes) As you wish, Jefferson Stone. JEFFERSON: Hold on, that wasn’t one of my wishes, was it? LUCY: No, just a little genie humor. I’ve been in there awhile. JEFFERSON: Well, you missed a hell of a lot. The dead have risen up again and are taking over the land of the living. LUCY: Look what you’ve all gotten yourselves into since I was last awake. I thought for sure it was going to be those bombs. JEFFERSON: You and me both, honey. So we gotta stop it, that’s my wish.


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LUCY: Very well. (Lucy dances briefly.) LUCY: It is done. JEFFERSON: Aight then. Well, let’s see. (Jefferson turns on the television.) NEWSCASTER: It seems the undead have reached the White House. President Ford is preparing to pardon them for all crimes past and future, but it doesn’t seem to be appeasing them. (Jefferson turns the television off.) JEFFERSON: That’s what you call fixing? LUCY: That should have worked. There must be too many of them; it’s beyond my power. JEFFERSON: Well that’s just great, so I only have two wishes left? LUCY: If I didn’t do anything, it shouldn’t count. You still have all five. JEFFERSON: Five wishes? I thought genies only handed out three. LUCY: Maybe white genies. JEFFERSON: Why do Black genies grant more wishes? LUCY: Because we gotta do twice the work for half the credit. JEFFERSON: Ain’t that the truth. LUCY: Open up the lamp, Jefferson Stone. (Jefferson does so. He pulls out a withered husk.) JEFFERSON: Well I’ll be damned, a monkey’s paw. LUCY: That’s right. So what is your first wish? JEFFERSON: Well, if we can’t stop the ones that are already here, maybe we can go to the source. I wish you would take me to where the first zombie turned. LUCY: Now that, I know I can do. (Lucy dances again, but this time the lights shift and her smoke returns.) Blackout. When the lights come back up, Jefferson stands in a doctor’s office. The Terror, as a doctor, attends to Lucy, as Patient Zero. Jefferson watches, looking intently at Lucy.)


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LUCY: (as Patient Zero) I’m telling you that my stomach is killing me. I’m so hungry, but I can’t keep anything down. (The doctor is barely listening.) THE TERROR: (as doctor) Mhmm, and have you tried exercising like I told you last time? LUCY: Yes, I did. But doctor, I wasn’t dead the last time. THE TEROR: That’s good. LUCY: No, listen to me. That virus I came in with last month, I… I think it killed me. I woke up this morning in my own grave, and now I have the strongest craving for human flesh. THE TERROR: Well, you definitely should be eating better. That TV dinner crap isn't doing anyone any favors. LUCY: I'm in horrible pain, doctor. Isn't there anything you can do? THE TERROR: Oh, I see what this is. Let me tell you, miss, that I am no Dr. Feelgood. LUCY: That's not what I... Aah! JEFFERSON: Genie? THE TERROR: (turning to him) How did you get in here? (Jefferson steps forward.) JEFFERSON: Listen, cracka. You have no idea what's going on here, but you need to treat her— (The Terror turns to Lucy and does air-quotes.) THE TERROR: —Is this your "baby daddy"? Oh, we could try a pregnancy test. (Lucy doubles over in pain.) LUCY: AAH! JEFFERSON: (to doctor) You need to run a diagnostic on her as soon as you can. She's about to start an epidemic. THE TERROR: I highly doubt that, but we can run a few tests. Ma'am, what insurance do you have? (Lucy is kneeling, screaming.) LUCY: I… AAAAAH… don’t have… THE TERROR: (quickly) Well, sorry, then. There’s nothing I can do.


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(Lucy gets back up as a zombie. She sees the doctor and stalks towards him.) THE TERROR: Ma'am, relax... Ma'am... Come on now, this isn't funny. (He calls offstage.) Security! Security! (To Jefferson.) You gotta help me! JEFFERSON: Uh-huh. THE TERROR: Please, I’ll do anything. JEFFERSON: Nah, my baby mama got this. (Lucy gets to the doctor and bites him on the shoulder.) THE TERROR: AAH! Fuck! (He turns into a zombie himself, and the pair turn on Jefferson.) JEFFERSON: Oh hell no, it's time to go. Genie! Genie! I wish I was back home! (The pair stalk closer.) Genie! (The pair are nearly upon him when the lights and smoke start up again. Lucy as Patient Zero does not dance. Blackout. Jefferson finds himself back in his sanctum. He catches his breath. He looks around and spies Lucy as the genie again.) JEFFERSON: Genie? Where were you? LUCY: (as genie) I have a name, you know. JEFFERSON: Well, what is it? LUCY: Lucy. JEFFERSON: (eyeing her) That’s a beautiful name. LUCY: Nice try, brotha man. Not happening. JEFFERSON: Hold on. I ain’t mean it like that.


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LUCY: I’m old enough to be your grandmama’s grandmama. JEFFERSON: Woman, I know that. LUCY: Well, good. (Beat.) What's your third wish gonna be? JEFFERSON: Damn, I used up two already? LUCY: Yeah, people always waste one on the return trip. JEFFERSON: That cracka doctor fucked up my plan. LUCY: Yeah, they tend do that. What can you do? JEFFERSON: I can go deeper. (Lucy scoffs.) LUCY: Deeper? JEFFERSON: I can go further back. LUCY: To when? (Jefferson thinks a moment.) JEFFERSON: I gotta stop slavery. (Lucy scoffs.) LUCY: What? JEFFERSON: Okay, dig this. Why did that doctor get in my way? He didn't listen to his patient because she was Black, and he didn't run any tests because she was poor. LUCY: Okay… JEFFERSON: So, if I go back and stop slavery, then I can end racism and capitalism all at the same time. LUCY: I’m not sure if— JEFFERSON: — Then, when someone does get turned, they'll get the help they need. LUCY: Why not world peace while we’re at it? JEFFERSON: What was that? LUCY: Your wish is my command. JEFFERSON: Damn right. Let’s do it.


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(Lucy dances, and the lights and smoke start up, but we hear an otherworldly noise, interrupting her. A flash.) OLD NIGGA: (from offstage) Stop! (The light and smoke start to fade. Old Nigga walks in as Old Nigga, looking like Sun Ra in sunglasses.) JEFFERSON: How the hell is everyone getting in my sanctum? Did I leave a key under the mat? LUCY: And how did you stop my magic? OLD NIGGA: (as Old Nigga) I got no time for you, witch. Jefferson Stone, you gotta stop whatever it is you're doing here. JEFFERSON: (gesturing) Says who? The dusty-ass nigga who just broke into my sanctum? Mardi Gras about a thousand miles thataway, Jack. OLD NIGGA: You don’t know what kinda shit you’re messing with. JEFFERSON: Then why don’t you fill me in. (Old Nigga sighs. They pull out a business card and hand it to Jefferson.) JEFFERSON: Is this some kinda joke? OLD NIGGA: I'm with an elite organization tasked with protecting the time-stream from meddling suckas like you. JEFFERSON: This card just says ICOON. What is ICOON? OLD NIGGA: The Inter-dimensional Council of Old Niggas. JEFFERSON: So who are you, Special Agent Old Nigga? OLD NIGGA: (laughs) Yeah, I’m Special Agent Old Nigga. JEFFERSON: They still got Black people in the future? OLD NIGGA: Some things you can’t change. Some things you don’t want to. (Old Nigga puts up a Black Power fist. Jefferson returns it.) JEFFERSON: Right on, right on. But why can't we prevent slavery? Shouldn't that be the first thing y'all niggas got to doing? OLD NIGGA: You'd think so, but things look a little different at the end of the universe. Can't mess with the past, could fuck up the future. JEFFERSON: But I gotta stop the undead from taking over the planet, so I gotta end slavery.


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OLD NIGGA: You gonna have to find yourself another way, young-blood. There's more at stake here. You dig? (A moment.) JEFFERSON: Yeah, I dig. OLD NIGGA: Glad to hear it... Don't make me come back here. JEFFERSON: Rule one of my code: respect the old-heads. (Old Nigga nods.) OLD NIGGA: Good to see there's some sense in the White Ages. (Old Nigga taps their sunglasses. The otherworldly sound and flash again. Old Nigga is gone.) LUCY: What was that? JEFFERSON: So that nigga’s not with you? LUCY: I’ve never seen ‘em before in my life. JEFFERSON: Aight, then. Let’s go. We got a Middle Passage to stop. LUCY: Wait, you’re not gonna listen to ‘em? JEFFERSON: Listen to ‘em? Hell no. If you can undo a mistake that big, you got no other choice. (Jefferson takes a breath.) I wish slavery never happened. (Dance, but no smoke or lights.) LUCY: That one is definitely way too big for me. JEFFERSON: What kind of genie are you? Fine, take me back to the first time someone took a slave. Not a prisoner of war, a slave for life. LUCY: Aight, Jefferson Stone, as you wish. (Dance, smoke, lights. It works this time. Jefferson finds himself in the middle of the desert.) JEFFERSON: What the…? Is this Africa? (He looks around, no one.)


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Hello! Anybody out there! (No answer.) JEFFERSON: This must be another one of that genie's tricks. I bet she is in cahoots with that Old Nigga. If she stranded me here, I am gonna drive my foot— (He's interrupted by a groan. Lucy, as The First One carries a heavy pack. The Terror, as a slaver, follows behind.) THE TERROR: (as slaver) Faster! I only have you until sundown, so I had best get my money's worth. LUCY: (as The First One) I'm going as fast as I can, but we will never reach Babylon by sunset. THE TERROR: We won't be there in time, but that is when you're due to your master. Unless... Hmm, alright, turn around. We're going back. LUCY: But I need to get home. My family is there. THE TERROR: You have no family now, girl. You belong to me, for the rest of your natural life. JEFFERSON: Lucy! (Lucy looks over to Jefferson, possibly recognizing him for a moment.) THE TERROR: Good sir, I will ask you kindly to step away from my slave. JEFFERSON: Why don’t you come over here and fight me for her? (The Terror looks at Jefferson, then he looks at Lucy.) THE TERROR: On second thought, maybe you can keep her. Her master is waiting for her in Babylon. JEFFERSON: Nah. No more masters. THE TERROR: (gulping) Whatever you say, sir. Free her yourself, that is entirely up to you. (The Terror tries to gather the pack from Lucy and make a swift exit.) JEFFERSON: Where you goin’, cracka? I said no. more. Masters. (The Terror tries, futilely to strike Jefferson, but he picks up The Terror and chucks him offstage like he's a pile of laundry. Jefferson recites his battle cry.)


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JEFFERSON: When you mess with the master, Jefferson Stone, There's only one outcome; you gonna get thrown! He's a mystical man of the martial arts, So you best know better than to act up in these parts! Number one defender of the mean city streets, And poonani killer when he's between them sheets! (Lucy runs to Jefferson.) LUCY: You’ve saved me, master. JEFFERSON: No, Lucy, remember? Honey, my name is Jefferson Stone, and I ain't nobody's master but my own. Now take me home. (Lucy stares at him, still not recognizing him.) LUCY: Jefferson…? JEFFERSON: Come on, Lucy, I wish you would take me home. (Lights, smoke. Lucy as the First One doesn't dance. Blackout. Lights up on Jefferson back in his sanctum, Lucy, as the genie, at his side.) What were you doing, woman? LUCY: (as genie) What are you talking about? I've been waiting for you to get your skinny behind back here. JEFFERSON: I saw you. You were the first slave! LUCY: I— JEFFERSON: —Wait, did it work this time? Did we fix it?

(Jefferson tries the television again. It's just a test pattern ringing out over the airwaves. Jefferson slumps down onto the couch.) JEFFERSON: You gotta be kidding me. LUCY: Well, I coulda told you that was a terrible plan. JEFFERSON: How come? LUCY: Slavery wasn’t an event. It’s an idea, and you can’t kill an idea. Even if whatever you stopped didn’t happen, it was bound to happen to someone at some point.


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JEFFERSON: So why didn’t you say something before I wasted my wishes? LUCY: I tried! JEFFERSON: I didn’t hear a damn thing. LUCY: That’s because you can’t hear nothin’ but yourself. JEFFERSON: Careful, woman. I can leave you in this paw as long as I want to. LUCY: There it is! A lot of talk, but you're just like the rest of 'em... (She scoffs.) JEFFERSON: I just tried to end slaver, it’s not like— (The otherworldly noise and flash return.) JEFFERSON: Shit. (Old Nigga, as Old Nigga, strides back onstage.) OLD NIGGA: (as Old Nigga) Well, well, well. What the fuck do we have here? JEFFERSON: Now, hold on— OLD NIGGA: —I know it's not two ignorant niggas fucking with the time-stream after I told them not to. Because that would be crazy. (Old Nigga slides the shades down their nose.) That would be suicide. JEFFERSON: Look, brotha, we’re just trying to fix things. OLD NIGGA: I am nobody’s brotha, you dig? I tried to be reasonable. I let you off with a warning. I even let the witch keep using her powers. But you give a nigga an inch, and they'll take a mile, every time. Let's go. JEFFERSON: What?

LUCY: Where?

OLD NIGGA: We're going to the end of time. I'm putting you someplace where you can't do any more damage. JEFFERSON: Like hell you are. OLD NIGGA: Son, don’t make me hurt you. (Jefferson laughs.) JEFFERSON: Okay, Special Agent Old Nigga, let's see what you got.


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(Jefferson readies himself to redirect whatever weight Old Nigga throws at him, but they don't move.) JEFFERSON: Aight, guess I'm coming to you. (Jefferson charges, screaming. Old Nigga just holds up a hand. The otherworldly noise sounds, the flash goes off, and Jefferson stops in his tracks.) JEFFERSON: What the hell are you doing to me? Why can't I move? OLD NIGGA: I told you. You're coming with me. (About now, Lucy tries to sneak off in the other direction. Old Nigga clocks this and picks up the monkey's paw from the couch. She's frozen.) Both of you. (Old Nigga taps their shades again. The otherworldly sound. The flash. Blackout. Lights up on the end of time. It's sleek, futuristic, and austere. Old Nigga stands between Jefferson and Lucy.) JEFFERSON: Where are we? Why can't we move? OLD NIGGA: What is slavery young-blood? JEFFERSON: It's history. OLD NIGGA: Try again. LUCY: It's an idea. OLD NIGGA: Wrong. It's time. Slavery is a lack of freedom, and freedom is doing whatever you want with your time. My friends and I figured that out a long time ago, so we decided to take it all back. JEFFERSON: You took back time? How? OLD NIGGA: First, we killed all the white people. JEFFERSON: Okay, so you're not all bad, Old Nigga. OLD NIGGA: Thank you. After that, we made sure it was just us Black people. Then we flourished. We ended war, built great cities, and we remembered all the ways of being that the world made us forget. (Beat.) Remind me, what did they call it in your era when Black people are late to things? JEFFERSON: Colored People Time. OLD NIGGA: Right. Well, that's every day here. Better late than never.


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LUCY: So where is everybody? OLD NIGGA: Well, they're... (Old Nigga hesitates.) JEFFERSON: I knew it! You're no kind of time fuzz. LUCY: What are you talking about? JEFFERSON: I've been thinking about it since we first met 'em. The future is perfect, but there's still feds? Hell nah. Lucy, I think we are looking at the last nigga on Earth. LUCY: What? How is that possible? (Old Nigga takes off their shades and throws them on the floor. Lucy clocks this.) OLD NIGGA: They didn't want to be free! Those fools didn't want to live forever. They wanted to die so that they could see their loved ones again... or at least stop thinking about them. I invented a time machine so we could go see them whenever they wanted, but still they resisted me. JEFFERSON: It's not the same thing... you can't step in the same river twice. OLD NIGGA: Spare me. You almost jeopardized my freedom. If you alter the time-stream, there is no telling what you could change about my future. LUCY: Your future? What kind of future can you have, all alone, drifting for eternity? OLD NIGGA: Well, I'm not alone anymore. The two of you are trapped here, forever. LUCY: You're crazy, Old Nigga. We're going to get out of here. And when we do, you're gonna regret the day you ever tried to hold me in bondage. OLD NIGGA: We'll see about that, honey. We've got all the time in the world. (Old Nigga walks offstage.) JEFFERSON: Why are you antagonizing that Old Nigga? LUCY: I just wanted to get him to leave. The shades. That's how that Old Nigga travels through time. We just have to get to those. JEFFERSON: Sure, let me just walk over and get 'em! LUCY: You could always wish them into your hands. JEFFERSON: What'll happen to you if I do that? LUCY: I'll get sucked back into the paw until someone else picks it up. (They can't meet each other’s gaze.)


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JEFFERSON: I was gonna free you. LUCY: Sure. I've heard that one before. JEFFERSON: I was... I just wasn't sure you'd still help me. LUCY: Why not? JEFFERSON: You're the most powerful person I've ever met... well, I guess before that Old Nigga. Why would you care about us mortals? LUCY: Because I was one. JEFFERSON: What? LUCY: I wasn't born a genie... I used to just be Lucy. I was the first human being to stand up straighter than any of our simian ancestors, and I was so proud. I was the mother of an entirely new species. But some pale Neanderthals from the North didn't like that, so they took me out from behind. For daring to stand up straight, their shaman cursed me to remain in the monkey's grasp for all eternity. But they died out; we won. You're all my children, every single one of you. How could I not care when you hurt each other? When you hurt yourselves? JEFFERSON: So, when I saw you in the hospital? In the desert? LUCY: Generational trauma runs deep, Jefferson Stone. JEFFERSON: You ain't gotta say that twice. LUCY: What would you have used the wish for? If not to free me? JEFFERSON: What do you mean? LUCY: You've used all of your wishes to try to stop the apocalypse. What would you have wished for when you did it? (A moment.) JEFFERSON: Tara... LUCY: Tara? JEFFERSON: My lady. She was shot down by a cop with a grudge. I'd just want to see her, one more time, like she was. LUCY: Like she was? JEFFERSON: I saw her again. On the news. Her rotting body dragging ass down the street, right outside my house. She was still full of bullet holes... The minute I saw that, I knew I would try anything to get her back. LUCY: But you'd had the lamp for so long, why didn't you— JEFFERSON: —What if the lamp wasn't real? What if it didn't work?


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LUCY: (both realizing and finishing his thought) What if you wasted all your wishes? (Lucy walks over to the shades and picks them up. She places them on Jefferson's head. He can move again.) JEFFERSON: You could move that whole time? LUCY: I can't travel far from the paw, but it doesn't hold me in place. Neither does that Old Nigga. JEFFERSON: Then, why did you wait? LUCY: I wanted to see what kind of master you were. (He takes a deep breath.) JEFFERSON: How many times do I have to say it? Lucy, my name is Jefferson Stone, and I ain't nobody's master but my own. I wish you were free. LUCY: Jefferson, what are you doing? (Smoke, lights, no dance.) You idiot, why did you do that? JEFFERSON: I had to make sure I got what I wanted from one of these wishes. (Old Nigga bursts back in.) OLD NIGGA: What are you two doing in here? LUCY: Jefferson, the shades! JEFFERSON: Lucy, grab on! OLD NIGGA: Oh, hell nah! (Lucy grabs Jefferson, and he taps the shades. The otherworldly sound. A flash. Blackout. Lights up on Jefferson in a wide open field. He looks around.) JEFFERSON: This is not my sanctum... Lucy!


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(Old Nigga enters as a Cultist.) OLD NIGGA: (as a Cultist) Receipt, citizen. JEFFERSON: Receipt? I didn't buy anything. OLD NIGGA: No receipt? How did you get in here? Are you with the feds? JEFFERSON: I ain't no fed! Get in where? OLD NIGGA: You're on Commune of Receipt property. If you don't wanna get shot, you'd best be moving along. (Old Nigga draws a gun.) JEFFERSON: Hold on! No need for that. What year is it? (Old Nigga pulls a receipt out of their pocket.) OLD NIGGA: It's October 21st, 2222. You'd know that if you had a receipt. (Jefferson looks closer.) JEFFERSON: This isn't a receipt for anything. It just says patrol. OLD NIGGA: Receipts aren't for things. They're for you. JEFFERSON: Why the hell do you want that? OLD NIGGA: You mama never told you to always get a receipt? JEFFERSON: Of course, Black man gotta take every chance he can to get proof of his whereabouts. Never know who's gonna accuse you of who knows what. OLD NIGGA: Exactly. That's what we do here. Receipts for anytime you do anything. JEFFERSON: Anything? OLD NIGGA: Get breakfast? Receipt. Take a shower? Receipt. Take a shit? JEFFERSON: Receipt. I got it. (We hear an air raid siren offstage.) What the hell is that? OLD NIGGA: That's the police. Been outside the compound for days. JEFFERSON: How come? OLD NIGGA: They can't stand a group of niggas they can't convict of something. They're calling us a cult, and they've got us surrounded.


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JEFFERSON: What are you gonna do? OLD NIGGA: Whatchu mean? We're doing it. We got the proof. We exist here and now; we have been validated. They can't take that away from us. JEFFERSON: But what happens when they break in here? OLD NIGGA: We got receipts for battles too, young-blood. JEFFERSON: But why you gonna die for receipts? OLD NIGGA: Because receipts are salvation. We've had receipts since my granddaddy's granddaddy, but they weren't always accessible to us because you had to be buying shit, and they ain't give niggas no money. If every nigga who got pulled over had receipts, most of them would still be here. JEFFERSON: (shaking his head) No they wouldn't. OLD NIGGA: What? JEFFERSON: You can't think your way out of this shit. Changing your approach isn't gonna stop a problem this big, no matter how clever you think you are. There's no magical solution. (Beat.) If you're trying to make a new world with the same tools that built this one, you're already dead. OLD NIGGA: What do you know about it? JEFFERSON: Enough to know you can't get free by making yourself a product. Beat. Good luck with your fight, and I hope you win. But I can't be a part of it. Not anymore. (Jefferson taps the shades. Otherworldly noise. Flash. Blackout. Lights up on Lucy, as Lucy Smith and The Terror, as John Greenwood. Lucy holds a tooth in her hand. She's scared. The Terror regards her nonchalantly.) THE TERROR: (as John Greenwood) So, Lucy Smith. I hear you've been fighting with one of the other slaves. That dark one, Abigail. LUCY: (as Lucy Smith, looking down) Yessir. THE TERROR: And they tell me she knocked out one of your teeth. LUCY: Yessir. THE TERROR: Well, then. Let me see it. (Lucy brings the tooth over to The Terror. He examines it. He's disgustingly excited.) This will do nicely. Lucy, you've seen President Washington walk around the grounds, yes?


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LUCY: Yessir. THE TERROR: And you may have noticed his... unusual teeth. (Lucy knows better than to say anything.) It's okay, Lucy. I'm a dentist, you can be honest. LUCY: (allowing herself a chuckle) They pretty fucked up. THE TERROR: How dare you! That man is the leader of the free world. LUCY: Sorry. THE TERROR: Yes, well. He's tasked me with making a very special set of dentures. LUCY: From teeth? THE TERROR: Yes, Lucy, exactly. From teeth. LUCY: So you're gonna take my tooth? THE TERROR: Oh, heavens no, Lucy, I'm not a barbarian. I'm going to buy your tooth. LUCY: ...Buy? THE TERROR: Yes, I am prepared to give you nine dollars for every tooth you bring me. LUCY: Nine dollars? THE TERROR: Yes, Lucy, and if you bring me enough teeth, maybe you can even buy your freedom. LUCY: Nine dollars... (Otherworldly noise. Flash. And we see Old Nigga, as Old Nigga in a new pair of shades, upstage. They see Lucy, and she sees them, remembering who she is.) THE TERROR: That is what I said, Lucy. Nine. That's the one after eight. LUCY: I heard you. I just know that I only have thirty-two teeth. Thirty-two times nine is two hundred eighty-eight. THE TERROR: Yes, that's right. Who taught you how to— LUCY: —And my freedom in this state costs three hundred. THE TERROR: Right again Lucy, but— LUCY: —So even if I gave you every tooth in my skull, I wasn't never gonna be free. THE TERROR: Well, you see, I— LUCY: —So, the way I see it, we got a problem.


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(Lucy bears down on The Terror. He draws himself up to his full height.) THE TERROR: Yeah, and what's that? (Lucy tries to use her genie magic, but nothing happens.) It seems as if you've forgotten how things work around here. (The Terror unbuckles his belt.) Allow me to remind you. (Old Nigga is not having this. They come forward.) OLD NIGGA: (as Old Nigga) Oh, I know you're not about to hit her. (Faced with both of them, The Terror wilts immediately. He turns tail and runs offstage.) THE TERROR: George! George! It's a slave uprising, I tell you! (Old Nigga turns to Lucy.) OLD NIGGA: Are you okay? LUCY: (as herself) I think so... I was with Jefferson, and I got lost. I showed up here, inside of one of my descendants and forgot who I was. (Beat.) Why did you help me? OLD NIGGA: I couldn't let him hurt you... I guess I got tired of sitting on the sidelines. LUCY: I know the feeling. (A moment.) OLD NIGGA: Where will you go now? LUCY: Now that I'm free... I think I should go find Jefferson. Try to help him, if I can. OLD NIGGA: I was thinking the same thing myself. (Old Nigga taps their shades. Otherworldly sound. Flash. Blackout. We hear the sound of a film projector failing. Lucy, as the House Manager, runs out.) LUCY: (as House Manager) I'm sorry, everyone, but it seems as if the film has caught fire in the projection booth.


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(Gasps and groans from the crowd.) Please remain calm. [Name of real house manager] is doing everything [real house manager's preferred pronoun] possibly can to fix it, but in the meantime, how about I bring up Roxie, and we start the Q&A a little early? (Scattered clapping.) Great. Roxie, get on up here! (Old Nigga, as Roxie, walks up onstage where two chairs are set up for a discussion. The pair sit down.) OLD NIGGA: Lord, that print has seen better days. I haven't played it in at least ten years. LUCY: It's okay, Roxie. We'll get it working again. So, for those who haven't seen it, we'll try not to spoil that final scene. I'll start with something easy. What made you want to make A Time To Die? OLD NIGGA: (as Roxie) I knew I had to make my own picture when I was working on Blacula in 1970. I was a key grip on set, and when I saw that first scene, I couldn't believe what they were getting away with in a movie. LUCY: For those that haven't seen it, can you tell them about Blacula? OLD NIGGA: Right, right, before their time. All of you go home and watch Blacula tonight. I can take or leave the sequel... Anyway, the first scene of the movie is an African prince asking Dracula to stop slavery... and Dracula tells the prince no. In the world of the movie, he has the power to stop slavery, but the indifference of white people makes sure that it continues... The rest of the movie is pretty classic horror stuff, but that stuck with me. If they could sneak that kind of message into a movie, what else was their room for? LUCY: To that point, I know that a lot of people online speculate about one of the Special Agent's lines "I am nobody's brotha, you dig?" Did that have anything to do with your own lack of gender conformity? OLD NIGGA: You know, I'm sure it did somewhere in my subconscious, but I didn't write it as a statement. We didn't do they pronouns like that back then. At that time, the thing people most wanted when they were trans was to just blend in. I tried that for a while, but I realized real quick that wasn't an option for me, so I just let people think whatever they were gonna think anyway. It cost me work... I only made the one picture, but there was nothing else to do... I'm sure that everything I was and everything I am is somewhere up there in celluloid. That's the great thing about B­Movies; you can get a lot of message in there while everyone's distracted by the nonsense. (The Terror, as an usher, comes out and whispers in Lucy's ear.) LUCY: I'm being told that one of our audience members has provided a 4K scan of the film for our digital projector, and we're ready to go. So, I'm not gonna waste your time talking.


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This is the finale of A Time to Die. (Blackout. A different blue light shines. This one is less warm but crisper. We've skipped a minute or two and Jefferson, Lucy, and Old Nigga, all as themselves, stand in Jefferson's sanctum. No one wears sunglasses. The light fades.) JEFFERSON: I don't know what we're gonna do. LUCY: I lost my powers when you freed me. OLD NIGGA: And I don't think we should do any more time travel. JEFFERSON: So are we just giving up? Should we just go out there and get it over with? (It hangs there a moment.) LUCY: (forming an idea) Yes, I think we should. JEFFERSON: What? LUCY: It's like... do either of you know what HPV is? JEFFERSON: No. LUCY: It's an STD, a virus. In most people, it's totally undetectable, so nobody worries about it. Hell, you probably got it. JEFFERSON: Gross. OLD NIGGA: Yeah, Lucy, what's your point? LUCY: I'm saying that if everyone has something, it's the same as no one having it. OLD NIGGA: So we should become zombies? LUCY: There's only one way to get to heaven. JEFFERSON: And it's the same way to get to hell. LUCY: I just know what we've already tried isn't working. We can't use any of the old ways we're used to. OLD NIGGA: I don't want to sit this fight out, but is this even a fight? LUCY: It's like Jefferson's aikido. You have to wait for your opponent to throw their full weight behind something before you can redirect it, right? JEFFERSON: Yeah, but— LUCY: —so this is that moment. Racism and capitalism... let's just call it what it is, Whiteness.


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Whiteness has put its full weight behind its negligence and our destruction. They were so careless that they let it spread to everyone on the planet. If we're not going to be able to live our lives in peace, maybe we can live our deaths that way. JEFFERSON: Lucy— OLD NIGGA: —I'm in. JEFFERSON: Old Nigga, you're in? OLD NIGGA: I've been alive for thousands of years, and I've never got an inch closer to being free. I've always lived in the shadow of slavery, reacting to it, trying to get my life back. Well, it's done nothing for me. I'm gonna die, on my own terms, and live my afterlife how I want... with you two, if you'll join me. LUCY: Of course... I just realized I don't know your name. OLD NIGGA: It's not important, I'm just some Old Nigga who finally realized their friends ain't coming back... if you want, though, you can call me Roxanne. That was the name of someone I knew... someone I still miss. LUCY: (a little surprised) Okay, Roxanne. I'm Lucy; nice to meet you. Do you want to go die together? OLD NIGGA: (as Roxanne) Yes Lucy, I'd be delighted. JEFFERSON: Hold on. This is stupid. Don't... (The pair walk offstage. We hear the moans of the undead.) JEFFERSON: ...Go. (A moment. The pair shuffle in as zombies.) No, don't make me kill you both. I've seen the Romero movies, I know I gotta go for the head. (They get closer. Jefferson sighs.) When you mess with the master, Jefferson Stone, There's only one outcome... (Jefferson looks his friends in the eyes. He sighs and surrenders himself to them. Lucy grabs him and bites him. He screams. The warm blue light from the beginning of the play shines again, this time not stopping. All three appear normal to each other.)


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LUCY: Jefferson, can you hear me? JEFFERSON: Lucy, you were right. (He embraces her.) I was wrong to doubt you. Both of you. (He looks at Roxanne, they shake hands.) JEFFERSON: Hello, Roxanne. (Old Nigga nods.) OLD NIGGA: Young-blood. LUCY: I saw someone outside. She wants to talk to you. JEFFERSON: What? (A woman's voice from offstage.) TARA: (offstage) Jefferson? (Jefferson looks towards the voice.) JEFFERSON: (hopeful) Tara?

(Blackout.) END OF PLAY


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The Harlem I Know A monologue by Lavanya Chakradhara The Harlem I know is stronger than the one that succumbs to a pandemic. The school I was so familiar with only empowered me to think of hope and seek promise even in the darkest of corners. Wasn’t that the true reason behind commemorating the work of Frederick Douglas II? When I look around, or even, when I look within, I am not short of people or experiences that are subtle, yet powerful. My seventh grade teacher’s whose eyes were filled with an unperturbed love for life and those thoughts only curtailed by the need for mentoring and disciplining us. I see her in my dreams, pushing me to do more, reminding me that she has my back, and still keeps me in her thoughts. My teacher never prepared me for the circumstances that throttled humanity behind a mask. Yet, she always prepared me to deal with the unknown, the challenges I could seemingly confront in my future self, the riddles I will be forced to unravel, the people I will be asked to be responsible for, and the emotions I could withhold, to keep the promise and hope high. She did warn me of masked people and misleading deeds. She taught me resilience and the true meaning of fighting the darkest battles, sometimes with self, and many times with others. She promised that the world held much good than which meets one’s eyes. She helped me inform my thoughts and see a world I could barely interpret. She taught me the skills to tame the wilder self. She was not just my teacher, but for many. Yet, she remains a vivid angel who can guide me as soon as I close my eyes and seek solitude. She always called me the solitary reaper and said there was always a better day to look forward to. My teacher never questioned my lateness to class and kept her cool even when my friends turned out in their craziest shorts. She never hesitated to bring the best out of me, even when it could be better. She was not short of encouragement. She was one kind soul I reckon, and that kindness I have sought in the somewhat desolate city that has taken everything it could in the last century, and still was not spared from the brunt of the pandemic. The city I love from the bottom of my life, to the most fragrant of my thoughts. The city I have loved more than loathed, I have lived more than survived, and that has given much to its people. I sought my teacher in people I met later in my life, and I sought my city in every other place I ever went. Neither did I see all the reflection of my teacher in any of my other friends, nor did I see the true spell of my city in all other places I fondly spent time and churned new experiences in. I learnt not to seek them in wholeness in any others, rather see their personalities glimpse in the kindness of human living. Sometimes we may be tainted in the pleasures of worldly instincts, but I still believe we have a deep-rooted belief in the love we are all capable of, that which can end out strife and struggle. These very thoughts my teacher inculcated in me take me every day into the sojourns I seek. I seek to transfer these into the culture that my kids shall reap. A culture of kindness that is neither puzzling nor amazing, rather just a simple streak of faith that lasts long and strong in our lives. If I can garner a little more courage to build a few more dreams crest on the foundations of these lessons, I shall have given all I could to the world I owe. A world of kindness is what they taught me to build at FDA – an unfathomed and forgiving love for human nature, an unconditional love for all the emotions we are burdened with. One step at a time I try to build that nest, even when the ruthless blizzards seek to bring it down, or the tormented breeze that seeks to end this ride. These hurdles just make


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me stronger, and remind me of the values my teachers taught – the very values which hold the ethos of my school, my people, my community, and my world together – forgiveness and faith. Even when time tests the faith we put in our values, they somehow end up in flying colors all the time. I am no longer afraid of brutal challenges or unforgiving hurdles – the stronger they are, the stronger they make me, and the richer my experience gets. The more stories I can weave to tell my Alma mater, the greater in life I lived and thrived. So here I am, mustering the faith to work harder, live longer, strive stronger, and love and ponder, bottling experiences as I walk my talk, spinning words that can build us together, every time we are hit by a storm of an invisible challenge.


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WORLD CLASS A monologue by Louis Fantasia (On screen or voiced): New York Times: April 28, 2020: Top E.R. Doctor Who Treated Virus Patients Dies by Suicide... “She tried to do her job and it killed her…” A light comes on the GIRL (CELLIST), 10 or so, playing the Faure “Elegy" for Violoncello and Piano on the cello.) (The Girl, at one side of the stage, does not have to play well, just sincerely. Under no circumstances should a recording be used. The Girl plays a few bars, makes a mistake, stops, corrects herself and plays on. It should be not as if she were performing, but rather practicing at home. As she plays, the lights come up center stage on THE DOCTOR, a woman in her early to mid-40s, simply dressed with a lab coat over her street clothes. She wears a little jewelry and her hair is cut in a short, efficient way, so that she never has to deal with it. The overall impression is one of a modest woman. An adult-sized cello is between her knees and its bow in her right hand.) THE DOCTOR: I knew from an early age that I was never going to be a world-class musician. There’s nothing wrong with that. Few people are, but when I started playing, I wanted to be like Jacqueline Du Pre. Oh, she was gorgeous — (to audience) - You don’t know her? She was British and beautiful and moved like a dancer with her cello when she played and she had this LONG blonde hair that FLOWED over her Stradivarius cello… Imagine! A Stradivarius cello! and she would make the most gorgeous tones. Each note like a bell or chime, ringing. (The Girl keeps practicing.) (The Doctor pauses. The Girl plays the Faure the best she can.) THE DOCTOR: She made her solo debut at 16 and was soon playing with all the great orchestras: the Dvorak concerto, the Schumann and Hayden concertos, and Elgar, oh my God, Elgar… And chamber music: the Brahms and Beethoven sonatas, the Trout Quintet, and the Ghost Trio, with her husband, Daniel Barenboim, at the piano and Pinkas Zukerman on violin (pause to listen) and the Faure “Elegy.” Jacqueline Du Pre was world class, and that’s what I wanted to be. World class, but I knew that would never happen on the cello. (The Girl stops practicing and looks at the Doctor.) THE DOCTOR: (To the Girl) Sorry, it wasn’t your fault. (The Girl returns to her practicing, making a few more mistakes. The Doctor turns to the audience and resumes.)


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THE DOCTOR: Then Jacqueline Du Pres got Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 28 and had to stop playing the cello. She would die when she was only 42, and it didn’t matter that she was world class or had a Stradivarius cello (she had two, actually). And that’s when I decided I was going to become a doctor: when Jackie Du Pre got sick, I thought, “I can become a world class doctor and save her.” (The Girl stops practicing for a while.) THE DOCTOR: My Dad was a doctor - is a doctor. He’s still alive. But I don’t think that had anything to do with it. He didn’t push me one way or the other. Neither did my mother. She was a teacher. I think it really was Jacqueline Du Pres. When I was in college, I didn’t have any time for the cello - pre-med, you know, is nuts. And certainly not in med school or when I was interning. Three days on, two days off. Come home, nuke something in the microwave, and fall asleep with your scrubs still on. Fun, huh? But what was strange, weird really, is that I kept my cello with me, right from high school. College dorm room, med school apartment, first live-in boyfriend (also an intern, of course!), and all the time I kept the cello in its case. I swear in, what, eight or nine years of college and med school and everything else, I NEVER opened that case, except once, at the end of my sophomore year, when I took it out to turn the strings down, de tuning they call it, so that the tension from the strings doesn’t make the cello crack. Tension. Funny, if you have the right amount of tension in the strings and along the hair of the bow, the wood vibrates and you have overtones and harmonics and all this Pythagorean perfection. And then if the tension isn’t right you get screeches and scratches and all kind of (bitter) crap! (She turns to the Girl) Right? Crap. Sometimes you just practice crossing strings, with a long, slow bow strokes just to get rid of the crap… (The Girl demonstrates, reasonably successfully.) THE DOCTOR: And when you take the cello out for the first time after nine or ten years, boy do you sound crappy. (The Girl stops playing.) THE DOCTOR: And sometimes, if the tension is really bad, you just crack - like a cello. (The Girl resumes playing underneath. The Doctor waits for the Girl to begin again at the beginning of the Elegy.) THE DOCTOR: I don’t know why I never sold it or just left it with my parents. They have a big house and could have kept it in my room. But I kept it with me. Like it was a part of me. The Jacqueline Du Pres world-class part of me. It was a reminder that I had to be world class at SOMETHING if not the cello. (To Girl) Sorry.


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(The Girl stops playing.) THE DOCTOR: So... I could have gone into any sort of medicine for my internship and residency. Pediatrics. Internal Medicine. Sports Medicine. Oncology? And I would have been good - really good - at any of them. But for some reason I decided to go into emergency medicine. I mean, think about it: it’s all about performance. Someone comes in with a broken leg, or bee sting, or a gunshot wound and you are ON! You have got to fix it, make it better. Mothers with no insurance bring their kids to you when they are sick. Homeless guys with scabies and fungal infections so bad you wonder how they can stand it. Some guy, who’s probably never been in an ER in his life, is wheeled in with a heart attack wearing a tuxedo. You see it all in the E.R. and I went from being Jackie Du Pre to George Clooney. A world-class E.R. doctor who SAVES people… no matter what the crisis, what the situation. Anything can happen to anybody at any time in this world, and I can fix it. Wow! And then, just at that moment, when I really am a first-rate, world-class ER doctor, that’s the moment I decide to take up the cello again. (shakes her head) Like I don’t have enough to do. Really! (The Girl resumes playing @ Faure, B theme, measure 30.) THE DOCTOR: I took lessons once a week for about six months. I had the cello checked out and restrung, my bow rehaired, and I got back into shape pretty quickly. In that entire six months I only missed one lesson - And then this Anesthesiologist says to me, “why don’t you join the Doctors’ orchestra?” I thought he was hitting on me at first, but when we were in the OR the next time he said he played the oboe with the Doctors’ orchestra and I should join. “Did I have to audition?”, I asked. He looked at me like I was a Martian. “String players, oboes and French Horns never audition. Just show up next week.” And I did. (pause; listens to cello) Now, I have to say, this might have been a “Doctors” orchestra back in the ‘50s or ‘60s when doctors made house calls, but it mostly seemed that if you had BEEN to a doctor you could join. But the message of the orchestra was all about the ‘healing power of music,’ which I thought was pretty great. So I joined the cello section and sat in the back and not make too many mistakes, and look like I knew what I was doing. I tried to look like Jacqueline Du Pres - minus the long hair. (The Girl stops playing.) THE DOCTOR: It made people think I could play. (Music completely out. Silence.) THE DOCTOR: We had a concert scheduled for the end of February: The Merry Wives of Windsor Overture, Mozart Piano Concerto No. 21 (that’s the theme from the Elvira Madigan


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movie, you know), and the New World Symphony by Dvorak. Pretty old school stuff, but fun to play. Needless to say, the concert got cancelled. There was some discussion about postponing it, but that’s the problem with a Doctors’ orchestra that had real doctors in it. We knew how bad it was, and how much worse it was going to get. Or so we thought. We had no idea how bad it was really going to get. I was a first-year Resident on 9/11. I was senior medical officer for our hospital’s ER by the time Hurricane Sandy hit. I helped set up triage centers for the Rohingya camps. I was even invited to join the doctors who helped fight Ebola in Uganda and the Congo in 2018. I was world class, all right. But I had never seen anything like what I saw in my own E.R. - I mean people 3 and 4 in a room, sharing ventilators; nurses hunched in corners, crying; cleaning ladies terrified changing sheets or dis infecting toilets; pools of urine under stretchers, where people had just been LEFT. (pause) But the worst part - the WORST part - was the silence. There were no families, nobody on their cell phones, nobody at the snack machines. Nobody talked because we were all masked. The only sound you heard was AIR - the ventilators pumping… Or the gurneys rolling, bringing patients in, or taking bodies out. We were on 12-hour shifts. I took my mask off twice, maybe, in twelve hours: to pee and to swill down coffee. That was it. We didn’t have time to eat or think. Everything was a drill, routine: gloves, mask, gown; did I touch that doorknob; do I need an N-95; fuck, I touched my face; fuck, who cares, I’ve probably been sick for weeks. I go home and it’s nice to be applauded, but no one rides up the elevator with me. I use hand sanitizer on TOP of my gloves, and wipe everything down with wipes I steal from the hospital, because who has time to go to the store. That’s not the only thing I steal, but more about that later. I take one step into my apartment. I don’t even turn on the light switch. I strip off everything, throw the clothes in the laundry, go right to the shower, grab a towel and DROP on the bed. I am too tired to sleep. I have a glass of wine. My nose hurts from the mask rubbing it all day. The next thing I know, I’m awake and moving like a zombie back to the hospital where every patient-is-all-patients-are-any-patient. I CAN’T SEE THEIR FACES! All I can see are their eyes. How can I remember who they are if I can’t see their faces? How do I… save them? (pause) I don’t. (pause) I just try and keep them from suffering too much. “Thank you, doctor. We know you did you’re best. We know you tried. Thank you.” These people - parents, friends, lovers, die alone, with no one to hold their hands, no one to kiss their foreheads, no one to tell them they love them, or to pray with them. AND YOU ARE THANKING ME? I am a world class failure, thank you. That’s what I am. We cannot clear the boards. Every night, after 8, 10, 12 hour shifts, there are still 30, 40 people who haven’t even been seen. Sometimes they die waiting - in a chair, or on a stretcher, or in the bathroom. They say, “I’m going to the bathroom,” and don’t come back and we don’t even know they’re gone until some nurse is screaming at the top of her lungs for a crash cart. But that’s not why I did it. I could have handled all of that, maybe, if I hadn’t had a break. If I hadn’t gotten sick. We were all getting sick. Some doctors and nurses had died - one nurse went in with just a surgical mask to intubate this guy; she was dead in a week. I had a mild case and was on 7-day quarantine. I kept checking in. Everybody knew I was available. 24/7. Text.


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WhatsApp. Facebook. Zoom. Hell, even the TELEPHONE! I figured, I might as well go back in. And on the Seventh Day, as the Bible says, I took out my cello. I don’t know why. Maybe I was feeling rested, or needed to… HOLD something… Anyway, I took it out and started playing the Faure “Elegy." (Girl begins to play underneath.) THE DOCTOR: So sad (pause to listen). So beautiful (pause to listen). I went back the next day and it was worse than ever. There were refrigerator trucks waiting for bodies outside the Emergency Room entrance. Lines of people were waiting to get tested in army tents. Police in riot gear kept order. What kind of Third World country had I returned to? (Silence; the Girl pays attention.) THE DOCTOR: I went through the motions for most of the day. You didn’t need to go to Med school for this: you see somebody, they’re coughing with a fever, you tell them have Covid, you admit them and move on. And on. And… And then SHE happened. I swear to God, I don’t remember her name or even her face, but I remember her eyes: she had the clearest, sea-blue eyes you'd ever seen... and this BUN of snow-white hair. Ninetythree, with congestive heart failure, blood pressure, eight thousand other things. She had a DNR, and, had made the decision not to intubate. Her daughter was on the phone with me. “Please, can you bring your cell phone next to her, so we can tell her we love her. So we can all say good-bye?” I told them to call me back in five minutes. I had to get an N-95 mask on to go into her room, and fresh, purple nitrate gloves. I go in. I wave. Her eyes smile back. The phone rings. I put it on speaker and hold it next to her mask, at arm’s length, trying to be discreet; to give some dignity to the scene. But at the same time I’m thinking: I have to disinfect this phone before I use it again. Jeez, don’t let me forget! They hang up. I turn my back and take a Kleenex and wrap the phone, without her seeing me. Then I turn back to her, and I’m about to reach out and take her hand, in my best bedside manner, when this old lady, stops, and takes MY hand in hers. She’s got these two, soft, white, wrinkled hands; mother hands; and the last thing she is holding in them is a purple nitrate glove, with sweat pouring from my palm inside it, and she says, gently: “Don’t worry. It’s okay. It’s okay. I’ve had a really good life. A wonderful husband. A wonderful marriage. 72 years. Four great children, who all made me proud, and I can go now. It’s okay.” And she patted my hand, like I’d been a good girl, and let it go, and went back to rest on the pillow. I said, “thank you” and smiled, and her eyes smiled back, and I turned again to get another Kleenex, and that’s when I saw the morphine.


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50mg of morphine sulphate in a 50ml solution. It hadn’t been hooked up to her drip yet. With all the chaos, no one would ever know it was missing. “Thank you,” I said, as I slipped the I.V. bag into my lab coat pocket. “Thank you.” And I went out. When I got home that night, I didn’t bother to undress or shower. Just cleaned things up a bit and left a note for my dad. I thought about calling him, but didn’t. I took my cello out and laid it on its side, with the bow resting on the fingerboard. I wrote my dad: “I know it’s not a fancy cello, but it was good to me and always made me think of you and Mom when I played it. Please make sure it goes to someone who will play it better than I did. They can pretend it was my Stradivarius.” Then, I found Jacqueline Du Pres on the Internet, playing the Faure “Elegy.” From 1962, before I was born. She was 17 and already world class. I poured myself a very large glass of wine - well, a very large glass, half full of wine and half full with morphine sulphate, while Jackie played, and then another… And then… I don’t remember if I poured a third, or if I just went to sleep… I don’t remember. Sorry. (THE 1962 RECORDING OF THE FAURE “ELEGIE" WITH JACQUELINE DU PRES, AND GERALD MOORE AT THE PIANO, PLAYS AS THE LIGHTS SLOWLY FADE TO BLACK.) THE DOCTOR: (Listens) She was so sad. (pause) So beautiful… It was a joy not to remember.


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EXHIBIT 2020: “The Truth Hurts, Doesn’t It?” A Comedy Sort Of A short play by Elijah Vazquez Director's note: All actors should wear clear masks, which shows their lower faces. In the world of the play, they are “maskless.” All CDC guidelines apply as well. Hopefully this note doesn’t withstand the test of time, and our country heals in the near future. If so, actors do not have to wear masks, and it’s up to the directors discretion if they choose to give audience members masks for theatrical purposes. A tour group enters and visits Exhibit 2020 (The audience. Play action forward as if you are at a museum looking at an exhibit). They lean closer to the exhibit, all “ooooohing” and “ahhhhhhing” as they take out their high tech phones, and take photos. The TOUR LEADER (TL) speaks. TL: And this is our 2020 Exhibit in America! Theatre edition. As you see, with these hyper-tolife animatronics, complete with the ability to laugh, and or completely tune out and stare into blank space, this is what it would have been like to witness theatre during the year 2020.

(Excited conversations meander amongst the group)

TL: Everything you see here is historically accurate. Patrons with their respective parties would have had to sit six feet away from another party, masks were mandatory. GIRL 1: (Use this line if someone in the audience is either A: not wearing their mask properly, or B: not wearing their mask at all. C: if everyone seems okay, say “Did people refuse?” instead) But, some people are not wearing their mask right. Like that person right there. (She points into the audience) TL: Historically accurate as well! Those people were typically called Karens, they were selfish, and felt highly inconvenienced by masks, claiming they were taking away their rights. According to a study by the University of Educated Intellectuals, who have legitimate degrees and focuses on Science, if everyone wore their mask during that pandemic, one third of the people who died on this land would have been saved. But, they could have cared less, as long as it didn't affect them. Fortunately, most of us came to our senses and actually followed rules years after, which brings us to this glorious day, together, under one space, where we can look at one of humanity's greatest faults right before our eyes. BOY 1: Do Karens still exist? TL: They are a rare form of human these days, but if you really wish to spot them, they lurk in the jungles of consumerism and feed off the blood of low-waged retail workers.


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BOY 1: Wow. Bogus. TL: Mhm, yes sir. At the end of the day, the only essential business for them was putting people in harm's way. (He points at one) And getting their hair done. (The tour group laughs hysterically) GIRL 2: Why are some sleeping? TL: Well theatre goers, especially in 2020, were primarily occupied by rich white Boomers. GIRL 2: Boomers? TL: Yes! People who were born in the World War two era. They would have been between the ages of 56-74. They were obsessed with the notion of “Work-until-the-flesh-rips-off-yourknuckles-and-your-life-evapo rates, or in short, the American Dream. As you see, it worked well for them in this instance. They were just very old, and led very boring, privileged retired lives. Spending all willy-nilly from their fat 401ks just to fall asleep 20 minutes into the show was considered, believe it or not, entertaining for them. But then if you put black performers on stage, that 20 minutes automatically dwindled down to 10 minutes. Maybe even less. (A Little Black Boy starts to dance from the group) LITTLE BLACK BOY: Am I making them sleepy, mommy? Am I making them sleepy? MOTHER: No, baby you are a star. All eyes are on you baby, and you are my little star. (She BRIEFLY picks him up and gives him a big hug) GIRL 2: Why are they mostly Boomers? TL: Because no one else could have afforded theatre during this time. The average American lost their job, struggled with bills, and became homeless. The government and, surprise-surprise, president, left them in the dark to suffer financially because political theatre, aka clowns-in-suitswho-murder-people-with-disinformation was the hottest show in the nation at the time. Which sucked for everyone else because they couldn’t afford risking their lives or others. But they did because it was all a part of the genocide, I mean, act. Some were even “forced” to risk because Karens apparently couldn't survive without their Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. GIRL 2: Then why did Boomers go? TL: Well, this exhibit takes place in Florida. Florida was one of the very few states who allowed live theatre to resume, and people, like the Boomers took advantage of it, whether they cared about dying or not. BOY 2: Wasn't Florida ,like, one of the epicenters of the disease, yet everything was still open? TL: Yup. BOY 2: And everyone acted like everything was normal?


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TL: Yup. BOY 2: Because the economy was more important than a life? TL: Bingo! But, let's not forget, survival was difficult, especially for theatres to stay open, because why fund the arts, right? Anywho, if they wanted a safe and reliable theatre experience for the audience and actors, they had to adhere strictly to the guidelines back then. GIRL 1: (Looking into the audience) Is this theatre adhering to the guidelines? TL: Yes, but this is also an example of patrons not listening to guidelines as well. BOY 1: How about the actors? Did they have to wear masks? TL: Depending on the theatre. The ones that didn't mandate masks didn't look like this. (He looks out to the audience too) GIRL 2: What do you mean? TL: Empty. No crowd. No audience. The ones who didn't mandate had to cancel shows due to infections. BOY 1: Wait, they didn't even protect their actors? TL: As much as they “could”. Some theatres that were open and who were not a part of a union, wanted more liberties, and less safety restrictions so they could produce the best-possible-showever-during-a-GLOBAL-pandemic. But, the only way they could have accomplished this was by hiring a group of struggling actors who were desperate enough to show their faces on stage and perform for dirt-poor wages, because those theatres were dirt-poor and preferred exploiting actors than protecting them. It was basically artistic slave labor. (Beat) Some theatres who got approved to perform outdoors felt like they did it the “right” way. But, at the end of the day, it was all questionable, and borderline morally wrong. GIRL 2: Wow. (Little Black Boy dances again) LITTLE BLACK BOY: Look at me mommy. I’m dirt-poor! I’m dirt-poor! I don’t have a mask on and I’m dirt-poor! That’s how they like it! MOTHER: No, you're not. When you grow up you’re going to be wealthy, you’re going to be a star! You’re going to be so wealthy that you’re going to buy me a house! LITTLE BLACK BOY: Like I promised mommy. Like I promised. (He BRIEFLY hugs his mother tightly. They are happy) GIRL 1: What do you think they are watching?


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BOY 2: Probably something weird. They look very uncomfortable. TL: I believe they are watching a play called, “The Truth Hurts, Doesn't it?”. BOY 2: They look hurt if you ask me. GIRL 2: Do you know what was it about? TL: Love. GIRL 2: Love? TL: Yes, the playwright back then writes about how he loves the world so much, he’s willing to hurt it for it to understand. BOY 2: That’s deep bro. TL: The power of theatre, my friend. (Little Black Boy stands tall as if he’s reciting a monologue to the audience) LITTLE BLACK BOY: Here is the truth. I have it. The truth only. I love you, I love you, I love you! Thank you. Thank verrrrrryyy much. (He bows) I hoped you liked my truth. I’m dirt-poor, but I truly truly love you. MOTHER: That’s my baby. Look, look, they have their eyes wide open for you. You are a little star! I love you. TL: Speaking of eyes, let’s look below them for a second. Now as you see, everything is aesthetically accurate as well, especially the masks. Many people back then had fashionable looking masks to either accent their outfits or state their political views. The political view one didn’t age well. BOY 1: Is that true? TL: Yes, people would actually spend money on customized masks to toxically worship certain political viewpoints and ideologies, now look where those masks are. BOY 1: Here? TL: Yup, a couple of garbage collectors around the nation found thousands of them in dumpsters years after the pandemic. Then, they donated some to us to create this fine exhibit. (The crowd continues to “ooooooh” and “ahhhhhhh” as they take more and more pictures) TL: It’s really nice that we learned from our history. LITTLE GIRL: Excuse me Mr. leader man, when can they go potty? My mommy wants to know.


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MOTHER 2: Sorry, sorry, I was curious about what the procedures were like during intermission? TL: Typically they would section you off and advise you to keep your mask on, and maintain physical distancing, while you go off and do your business. But, in this simulated animatronic exhibit, the play is only 10 minutes, so the animatronics are programmed to just leave out the doors. Which should happen any minute now. (Small beat) So, in a nutshell 2020 killed theatre. And this is a prime example of it trying to revive itself from the ashes of adversity. The attempt was honorable, sure, worth wild, sure, sweetly satisfying while trying to maintain the integrity and beauty of the arts. Sure. Even though we have endured, and Broadway is now more alive and glorious than ever, I believe this display is a perfect reminder that our eagerness to feel alive shouldn't get the best of us. At the end of the day, no matter how much we crave some release, some escape, some dream, we can always do better to love and help our neighbors. (Silence. The tour group looks back and forth to each other smiling and appreciating TL’s words) Well, if you want to stay and see the audience get up and exit, you are free to do so, but I think we should move on to our next exhibit at this time. Exhibit 2021! And let me tell you, it doesn't get any better. (The tour group squeals with excitement as they exit with TL offstage. Beat. The only person who doesn't leave is the Little Black Boy. He stares into the audience and starts to bow even more) LITTLE BLACK BOY: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for watching me! Thank you for keeping your eyes open! My mama said I’m not dirt-poor, I’m going to be wealthy! I’m going to be a star! No mask and everything! I’m going to do it. You’ll see. I’ll dance my butt off. I’ll dance my butt just like this! For mama and you. For mama and you. Thank you, thank you. I love you, and that is the truth. We love you. You’re very special. Go home. (Little Black Boy continues to dance as the audience in the exhibit exits) END


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IS A radio play by William Harper (DRAMATIS PERSONAE / CAST) DR MARK MANDRAKE - ROGUE PSYCHOLOGIST BARMAN - BARMAN IS - MANDRAKE'S INTERNAL SABOTEUR SNOWY - HEAD OF DEPARTMENT / MANDRAKE'S BOSS DAVID - CHAIR OF THE INTERVIEW PANEL 3. SCENE 1.

SOUND: OF DR MARK MANDRAKE DESCENDING STONE STAIRS AND A DOOR OPENING IN A QUIET, LONDON CITY, BASEMENT BAR, ONE AFTERNOON. THE SOLE CUSTOMER, HE ENTERS, FLOODING THE SPACE WITH THE NOISE OF RAIN FROM OUTSIDE. HE PUTS DOWN HIS BRIEFCASE AND SHAKES OFF AN UMBRELLA. BARMAN: Good afternoon, Sir. MANDRAKE: Afternoon. Filthy weather out there. BARMAN: Yes, I'm afraid it is. What can I get for you? MANDRAKE: Bottle of the house red, please. BARMAN: Merlot or Rioja, Sir? MANDRAKE: Rioja, please. SOUND: A CORK POPPING AND THE TRANSACTION IS DENOTED WITH THE BLEEP OF A CONTACTLESS PAYMENT AS THE BARMAN PASSES THE CREDIT CARD OVER THE MACHINE, TAKING SOME TIME TO INSPECT IT.


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BARMAN: Thank you, I see from your card, that you are a Doctor. Dr Mandrake? MANDRAKE: No need for the formalities. Can you bring the bottle over to that table by the window? I'm waiting on an important call. BARMAN: Yes, of course. I hope you don't mind me asking? Are you a medical doctor? MANDRAKE: Psychologist, why? BARMAN: (HESITANT) Forgive me for asking, but do you know anything of 'dreams'? Or I really should say, 'nightmares'? MANDRAKE: Yes, dear chap. I do know something of the (PAUSE) nocturnal. BARMAN: It's just that I keep having this same recurring dream, every night. I wake up at exactly the same time, in a cold sweat, frightened for my life? MANDRAKE: Pour me a large one now at the bar, and you can tell me about it while I'm waiting on my call. BARMAN: That's very kind of you, I shouldn't really bother you? MANDRAKE: Not at all. I'd welcome the distraction, I'm expecting some news - it's making me rather anxious. BARMAN: If you're sure? MANDRAKE: Of course. SOUND: THE GLUGGING OF SOME RED VISCOUS LIQUID POURING INTO A LARGE TULIP SHAPED GLASS. BARMAN: (INCREDULOUS) Well, I really don't know what to make of it? Every night it's the same. I follow this character into a room - more out of curiosity, really. I'm moving from an old building into a new building. I find myself in the presence of this evil person and his assistant. It's like I've stumbled upon some sort of sabotage plot? And I'm like some kind of detective?


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There's a Tomahawk on the table. I'm terrified. I grab it to prevent them doing something with it. I threaten them both, menacingly-like, but they aren't intimated at all. I run away out of fear of my life. They're chasing me. I don't see them, but I know what is happening. MANDRAKE: How very interesting. BARMAN: Really? I find it just exhausting. MANDRAKE: I'm going to need to sit down now and think this over. BARMAN: Yes, of course. Let me bring your wine over. MANDRAKE: Good man. That is a remarkable dream. BARMAN: Thank you, Dr Mandrake. That is altogether, very kind. I realise you must be busy. It's just I haven't slept properly in a month. MANDRAKE: You and me both, old chap. SOUND: BARMAN BEGINS RELOCATING THE GLASS AND BOTTLE AND MANDRAKE TAKES A SEAT ON THE LEATHER CHESTERFIELD CHAIR, ARRANGING HIS OVERCOAT, BRIEFCASE AND UMBRELLA. THERE IS THE BACKGROUND NOISE OF RAIN AGAINST THE WINDOW. BARMAN: Do let me know if I can get you anything else. SOUND: THE BARMAN WALKING OFF ON THE FLAGSTONE FLOOR.

MANDRAKE: (LOW) Fuck you say that for? THERE IS A PAUSE AND THE LISTENER BEGINS TO LEARN THAT 'IS' IS ACTUALLY MANDRAKE UTILISING A DIFFERENT ACCENT. IS: Say what? MANDRAKE: (EMPHATIC) You know exactly what I mean. IS: (NONCHALANT) I'm not sure what you mean? MANDRAKE: Yes, you do - you bastard.


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IS: Spell it out for me then, asshole. MANDRAKE: What? (PAUSE AND THEN SARCASTICALLY) MANDRAKE: "I've even read they have their own dry cleaners." I mean - what is that about? (FORCIBLY & EXASPERATED) What is that about exactly? IS: It was small talk. I was trying to help you. And besides, I was drugged. MANDRAKE: Drugged? I drugged you because you're systematically destroying my life! IS: It's quite pathetic, blaming me, again, in this way. MANDRAKE: Have you any idea how much those idiots are prepared to pay me, just to listen to a few bloody bankers? IS: Are you going to get drunk, again? MANDRAKE: Yes, I am. No thanks to you. IS: This is pointless. MANDRAKE: Is it now? SOUND: JUST THEN MANDRAKE'S PHONE RINGS AND HE LOOKS AT THE NAME THAT FLASHES ON THE SCREEN. IT IS HIS BOSS, SNOWY. MANDRAKE: (SIGHS) Oh God, it's bloody Snowy. IS: Aren't you going to answer that? MANDRAKE: I can't be talking to him now. IS: And why is that exactly? He is your boss after all! SOUND: CLINKING OF THE DISTANT BARMAN ARRANGING SOME GLASSES, HE LOOKS ON FROM THE BAR CURIOUSLY AT MANDRAKE SITTING WITH


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HIS PHONE VIBRATING ON THE TABLE, AT THE SAME TIME AS TALKING TO HIMSELF. BARMAN: (DISTANT) Is everything alright? MANDRAKE: (HISSING) He's even more objectionable than you are. BARMAN: (DISTANT) Sorry? MANDRAKE: Not you, dear chap; not to worry, I'm just practicing some Gestalt. Don't you worry, I'll get to the bottom of that dream. BARMAN: (DISTANT) Oh, right'yar, Dr Mandrake. IS: He's on to you. MANDRAKE: On to me? IS: He does specialise in alcohol, is that not so?

MANDRAKE THEN TURNS AND RAISES HIS GLASS TO THE BARMAN. MANDRAKE: Cheers. BARMAN: (DISTANT) Good health, Dr. I'm just googling that now - Gestalt, you say? IS: I suppose you're pleased, everyone at work is now calling him 'Snowy' behind his back? MANDRAKE: Yes, I am as it goes. That man is a menace. I've lost count of the number of colleagues from his orbit, that have said to me: "You'd better watch that creep..." I'm just trying to render him less threatening. And, he does have a very serious, dandruff problem. I've worked for that arsehole for over two years - he hasn't once changed that crushed, blue linen, jacket of his. It's the perfect advertisement for his head and shoulders issue.


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IS: Sounds more like envy, to me. He has got that book out. MANDRAKE: Book? Oh, for Christ sake. It's hardly 'Civilization and Its Discontents' now, is it? Have you read it? It's like the 'cat sat on the mat and was told to think before taking a drink.' IS: He is published though. MANDRAKE: (MOCKING) What? That was a friend of a friend who runs a bloody printing press from his back room. Vanity publishing, I'd say. IS: Why do you despise him so? MANDRAKE: I'm the one putting food on that bastard's table. What on earth does he do? The Head of Department? I mean, where does he go every day? IS: Important meetings? MANDRAKE: Oh really? Last month it was a suspected 'tumour'! Well, that turned out to be nothing and now he's saying he's being tested for coeliac disease. Lazy hypochondriasis, is the likely diagnosis. IS: Where is your legendary compassion now? MANDRAKE: There is something eating away inside him alright - I rather think it's bitterness. THE PHONE RINGS AND VIBRATES AGAIN. MANDRAKE: Oh, Christ, here we go. Now you, shut the fuck up. SOUND: THE BLEEP OF THE PHONE SIGNALLING IT BEING ANSWERED. MANDRAKE: Mark Mandrake. DAVID: (D) Mark—hi—its David, chair of the panel, from this morning. MANDRAKE: Hello there.


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DAVID: (D) Listen, Mark, we liked you—thought you were a very engaging fellow - I'm sorry, but we are not putting you forward for the second round; it was a strong field and after reviewing your resume and meeting you - the panel was not entirely convinced that you would deliver on the cognitive behavioural model that we favour. (PAUSE) MANDRAKE: Yes, I understand; It's true—I am very eclectic in my approach. I guess, I thought, that was a strength. DAVID: (D) Well, Mark, this is Goldman Sachs, and they want fidelity to the model. MANDRAKE: Yes, of course, thank you for short listing me, and it was nice to have met you. DAVID: (D) Okay. Thanks again for your interest. SOUND: MANDRAKE PUTS THE PHONE DOWN AND TURNS TO THE WINDOW AGAIN, SIGHING. MANDRAKE: I knew it, that was all going smoothly—until you piped up with your dry cleaning spiel. Who do you think you are? Harrison Ford? Is that what you were thinking? That midway through the day of helping these elite financial risk takers, with their emotions, you'd somehow need a fresh shirt to put on? IS: Always with the excuses and the blaming. MANDRAKE: When you said that, I noted the medical director's eyebrow raise. That David liked me. He was talking as if, I was already in the role. IS: You hold a lot of store in your own perception, don't you? MANDRAKE: Two hours, I was in there for. Not to mention their ridiculous test! IS: Did you really believe that the private sector would entertain you, of all people? MANDRAKE: (SARCASTICALLY) "Josh is an investment analyst. He discloses that work has started to get


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on top of him. He worries constantly about his judgement and is anxious that his decisions may compromise the clients of the company and their profits. He reports that he's always been a worrier. He's not enjoying life much. His wife is supportive but feels he's too distracted to be a proper father to their two young children. You further learn that his father died at a young age and that his mother was somewhat over protective. He was only allowed to use public transport independently from the age of sixteen. Talk us through your treatment plan." IS: (SARCASTICALLY) Oh, please. MANDRAKE: I passed that with flying colours. IS: (SARCASTICALLY) "Bankers deserve compassion too, I believe. They are wealth and health creators—and frankly, they've had a lot of bad press, not to mention the uncertainty they face with this Brexit proposition, hanging over them. I bring exceptional psychological services to this task..." MANDRAKE: Remember, I've got a divorce to pay for, no small thanks to you! IS: God knows what you would have done to poor Josh's marriage? MANDRAKE: GAD. Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Boom. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines. Verbatim. How did you like that? IS: (CUTTING) Well, your idiosyncratic take on them! MANDRAKE: I would have had that Josh down the park with his kids in six sessions. IS: Yes, I noted your attempt to demonstrate to David, that you are not someone who is extravagant with resources. MANDRAKE: He was the 'money' man. And he liked me. "Mark," he said, "We anticipate you will be seeing, on average, at least ten people." IS: You did come across as a bit over eager.


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MANDRAKE: When I realised—he meant per week, I couldn't believe my luck. A luxury Fleet Street office. A gym. IS: And a dry cleaners. MANDRAKE: I might have been able to get myself in shape—and get rid of you! IS: Magical thinking, again, isn't it? (PAUSE) MANDRAKE: (DOWNCAST) Even threw in a psychoanalytical formulation on the loss of Josh's Oedipal object. IS: Yes, I could see the medical director thinking, 'Is this bloke a Freudian or a Jungian?' MANDRAKE: Mandrakian, more like. IS: Yes, quite. SOUND: MANDRAKE SIGHS AND POURS MORE WINE OUT OF THE BOTTLE AS THE BARMAN ARRIVES AGAIN AT THE TABLE. BARMAN: Would you like something to eat, Dr Mandrake? More wine perhaps? MANDRAKE: The news is in my friend. Best make it a large single malt. BARMAN: Yes, of course. This 'Gestalt,' which you're practicing? What is that exactly? Are you meant to be talking to yourself? MANDRAKE: It's a German term - it means something such as a structure or experience that, when considered as a whole, has qualities that are more than the total of all its parts. BARMAN: How does this involve my dream? MANDRAKE: I talk to myself about everything. Role play and exaggeration - central tenets of Gestalt therapy.


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BARMAN: Well, if you say so. It does seem a bit odd. You're lucky you're the only customer in here today - others might find this somewhat strange. MANDRAKE: Have you ever heard of a chimpanzee called Sultan? BARMAN: A chimpanzee called Sultan? MANDRAKE: Yes, that's right. Sultan the chimpanzee. BARMAN: I don't think I have, no. MANDRAKE: Wolfgang Köhler, a leading Gestalt psychologist, at the turn of the century, developed what he termed 'insight' learning by experimenting with apes. Sultan was the star of his class. BARMAN: How so? MANDRAKE: He would fasten a banana to the top of the cage, out of reach and only attainable by stacking some boxes on top of each other. BARMAN: So what was discovered? MANDRAKE: Köhler realised that the important aspect of learning was not reinforcement, but the coordination of thinking, to create new organisations. BARMAN: I'm not exactly sure what you mean? MANDRAKE: Think of it this way. Learning is not mere accumulation, but is more a remodelling or rearrangement of information, according to needs, purposes and meanings. Just ask Sultan. BARMAN: Sorry, Dr Mandrake, but I don't follow? MANDRAKE: Remarkable, forgotten, assimilated men really, the Gestalt psychologists. What does imageless thoughts mean to you? BARMAN: Eh, I'm not sure what you mean?


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MANDRAKE: Take judgements and doubts for example. BARMAN: Imageless thoughts? MANDRAKE: The inside of my frontal lobe is papered with them. SOUND: THE PHONE RINGS AND VIBRATES AGAIN. WITH WEARY RESIGNATION AND EXHALATION, DR MANDRAKE ANSWERS. MANDRAKE: Hello? SNOWY: (D) Mark, hello. How's the day off, going? In the pub? MANDRAKE: I'm in the park. SNOWY: (D) In this weather? MANDRAKE: I'm in the winter gardens; was just practicing some mindfulness when you called earlier. SNOWY: (D) Well, that's great. You know the evidence base for that alright – especially good for the old booze. MANDRAKE: How is your intestines? Have they found anything sinister yet? When do they think you'll be back at peak performance? SNOWY: (D) I've got more tests tomorrow and I'm just ringing to let you know, I shan't be in. MANDRAKE: Sure, don't ship floating in your else can we do? We've you've had such a lot but a great deal none

you worry. We'll keep the absence. It'll be hard but what managed alright this far. And on your plate. No gluten obviously, the less.

SNOWY: (D) Yes. Weirdest thing? I was called earlier by this chap, David, from a private health care provider. Wanting to know about your suitability for a role? MANDRAKE: Really? They're rigorous alright. Don't worry about that. Just putting my toe in the private sector to


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gauge the response. The public sector is so stressful currently—well, as you know, yourself. SNOWY: (D) Yes. That's right. I'm sure the stress of carrying the department is a factor in my health. MANDRAKE: And you're like grace under pressure. SNOWY: (D) Oh, I'm not sure about that, Mark. Anyway, I did convey something of your strengths, (EARNEST TONE) but did feel I was duty bound to highlight some of my minor concerns. MANDRAKE: Not to worry. They haven't progressed my application. I do understand how important 'duty' is to you. I admire that. I like to think that someday, I'll emulate that conduct myself. SNOWY: (D) I believe you will, Mark. MANDRAKE: I've just got to keep trying, is all. SNOWY: (D) Yes. Don't forget that Thursday and Friday this week I'm off to the conference, so perhaps we can meet up next week some time, and discuss this further? MANDRAKE: Yes, of course. Do enjoy your conference. (LOUD AND ACUSATORY) It is you, isn't it? (PERPLEXED EXPRESSION) SNOWY: (D) Yes, it is me. What do you mean? Who else would it be? Is there something wrong, Mark? MANDRAKE: Crossed wires there...I was just talking to this strange bloke, here, in the park. SNOWY: (D) Oh. Right. Catch you next week then. Bye now. SOUND: BARMAN BEGINS TO CLEAR THE TABLE, ATTEMPTING TO MAKE AN EXIT. BARMAN: You're clearly very busy, I don't want to disturb you any further with my zany dream.


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MANDRAKE: Not at all. I've been rather intrigued by that. Seems to me—you've got yourself a rather nasty, internal saboteur. BARMAN: A what? MANDRAKE: An 'IS' - an internal saboteur. BARMAN: Is there anything to be done? MANDRAKE: Oh yes, I should think so. My colleague, Sigmund, would suggest that every individual is a self-saboteur. And, psychoanalysis, can shed light — on how to become conscious of how people sabotage themselves. BARMAN: You think I need psychoanalysis? MANDRAKE: That depends. How is your libido? BARMAN: My libido? What's that got to do with it? MANDRAKE: Have you been feeling a little hemmed in recently? (PAUSE) BARMAN: Well, yes. I have. I just put that down to lack of sleep and exhaustion. MANDRAKE: That dream tells me that a persecutory part of you, is having a right go at your natural drives. BARMAN: What on earth are you talking about? MANDRAKE: Freud said, that all dreams, without exception, are wish-fulfilments. BARMAN: Why on earth would anyone 'wish' to stumble upon a sabotage plot? MANDRAKE: Very perceptive of you. And perfectly illustrates Sigmund's blind spot. BARMAN: I've no idea what you're talking about? MANDRAKE: Have a seat, join me in a drink, and I'll explain.


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BARMAN: You've had that whole bottle and you do realise you are talking to yourself? MANDRAKE: Think nothing of that, dear chap. BARMAN: (SARCASTICALLY) Okay, sure, this is all normal.

totally

MANDRAKE: The thing about your dream, yes? BARMAN: Go on then. MANDRAKE: So, in any interpretation of a dream, it is important to note what the ego and the objects or images in the dream are doing. When the dream begins, the ego is in a building, which since this is a dream, is, of course, not an external space but an internal space. The scene is a psychic space. It is the unconscious. BARMAN. Right. I think I'm getting that. MANDRAKE: But what is the ego doing? BARMAN: It’s moving. From an old building into a new building. MANDRAKE: Yes, exactly. It is moving from one space to another. It is also detecting. It is a detective, no? BARMAN: Well, yes, it is. MANDRAKE: What the ego detects are two objects, one of which is evil and the other, the assistant. BARMAN: Yeah, right. MANDRAKE: What are these objects doing? BARMAN: Why, they're hatching some kind of sabotage plot. MANDRAKE: In this dream, it is not the ego that is the 'internal saboteur' but the evil character and the assistant who are, yes? BARMAN: Yes. That's right.


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MANDRAKE: What does the ego do in relation to these objects? BARMAN: You're losing me again? MANDRAKE: It does what the ego does in almost all dreams. It defends itself through 'fight' or 'flight'. So, although it acts initially out of curiosity - ultimately it relates to this object with anxiety. It reacts defensively against the evil character. BARMAN: Right. The ego attempts to prevent this object from harming it. MANDRAKE: The ego grabs the Tomahawk and menaces them as if to fight them. BARMAN: Yeah, go on. MANDRAKE: They're not intimidated though, and as a result—the ego legs it. BARMAN: And when the dream ends, the objects are chasing the ego. MANDRAKE: (REVELATORY) Yes. But what's important here, is that the ego assumes these two intend to harm it. BARMAN: What do you mean? MANDRAKE: Well, in the first instance, they have the Tomahawk, yes? BARMAN: Yes. MANDRAKE: And a Tomahawk. One associates that with splitting or cracking something open, yes? BARMAN: Yes, I suppose you might say that. MANDRAKE: And that might be helpful rather than harmful? So, not necessarily sabotage, as it were. In fact, just what a defensive ego needs. BARMAN: You're losing me again.


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MANDRAKE: Well, the ego never questions these objects. And, as a result, they never answer the ego. In other words, there is no dialogue. BARMAN: Yes, go on. MANDRAKE: In this dream, the ego defends first and asks questions later, if ever. The ego assumes, it does not inquire. Listen to me, old chap, it assumes sabotage. All these objects really do is chase the ego. And they seem to do so, only after the ego threatens them. BARMAN: What are you saying exactly? That these evil characters are somehow the good guys? MANDRAKE: I think you're getting there, old chap. There is no independent evidence in the dream to corroborate that these objects are nefarious. BARMAN: So—let me get this right. An object that the ego regards as 'bad' may be, in fact 'good'? MANDRAKE: Exactly. The ego may be unconscious of what is 'good' for it. BARMAN: So, in other words, you're saying that this evil character and assistant are just aspects of myself or parts of my mind — and that I don't feel much pleasure in things, because I'm 'sabotaging' myself? And I'm somehow not aware of it? MANDRAKE: I suffer for my art, bartender. Another round? BARMAN: This is hard to get my head around? MANDRAKE: Welcome to my world. BARMAN: No wonder you're putting away the booze. MANDRAKE: Yes. Stick another in there, would you? SOUND: BARMAN POURING SOME MORE.

BARMAN: So how is this a wish fulfilment?


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(MANDRAKE IS BECOMING SLIGHTLY SLURRED IN HIS SPEECH) MANDRAKE: Good question. This is where Sigmund and I part company. I see this dream as expressing the actual situation, in the internal reality of you, the dreamer. Not as you wish it to be. BARMAN: What? MANDRAKE: Think of it this way. Our situations are not that different. BARMAN: How so? MANDRAKE: We're in a bar, right? The two of us. BARMAN: Yes. MANDRAKE: This is an actual situation. As far as we know it, this is not a dream? BARMAN: Yeah. MANDRAKE: Well, you must get all sorts of characters through that door? BARMAN: Yes, that's true. MANDRAKE: Any nefarious ones? BARMAN: Nefarious? MANDRAKE: Underworld? Criminal element, you know? BARMAN: Well, yes. We get all sorts, really. MANDRAKE: Any that might rough someone up, if the price was right? BARMAN: What? A hitman, you mean? MANDRAKE: Well, that's a bit of a dramatic term. I was thinking more, of a thug for hire, that might give someone a good slap. For someone in the way. BARMAN: In the way?


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MANDRAKE: In the way, yes. BARMAN: You've really had too much to drink. Or is this what you mean about 'wish fulfilment'? MANDRAKE: We all have this dream. It's universal. Sabotage or be sabotaged. Embrace your inner assistant. You may be doing your ego a favour. BARMAN: And tonight? If the dream should come? (PAUSE) MANDRAKE: (DRAMATIC) Grab that bloody Tomahawk and smash his head in... BARMAN: Yes, of course. Can I get you a taxi? MANDRAKE: Yes, please. A taxi and a hitman. A taxi and a hitman... IS: One last drink, please... (MANDRAKE LAUGHTER BOOMING......AND A BOTTLE FALLING OVER...) END


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INTESTATE: A PANDEMIC MONOLOGUE By Donald E. Baker CHARACTER RICHARD, a 50-year-old gay man who lost his partner (and everything else) to the COVID-19 virus Place: Cincinnati, Ohio Time: April 2020 RICHARD: (Angrily) God dammit, David. How could you be dead? You did everything right. Ate and drank in moderation, slept eight hours a night, went to the gym every day. Is that where you got it? Someone forget to wipe off the weight machine? … I hope to God that’s where you got it. It makes no sense. You survived the AIDS pandemic. Then you end up dying from a virus people kept saying was no worse than the flu? You would never have died from the flu. You got a flu shot every year. Of course you did. The hospital had those big white triage tents set up outside. Looked like there was some kind of festival going on. A couple of nurses took you in one and told me to go wait in the car. I don’t know how long I sat there. Ten minutes? Half an hour? I had your wallet, so finally somebody came looking for your i.d. and insurance card and she started asking questions. Was I related to you? Were we married? Not officially, I told her, but we did have a commitment ceremony. Doesn’t count, she said. Did I have your power of attorney? Did you have a living will? No. No because we never took the time to get the documents together. We never took the time because we thought we had plenty of time. We never had a “real” wedding because you didn’t want to do it until your family was willing to attend. Rock-ribbed Kentucky evangelicals. All Leviticus 22 and “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” But somehow you convinced yourself they’d eventually welcome me into the fold. You just couldn’t bear the thought they didn’t love you enough, enough to be happy for you when you found somebody who did love you—even if that somebody was another man. The nurse had one last question: “Who is the patient’s nearest relative?” “The patient” has a name, I said. “It’s David. He has a mother. I’ve never spoken to her.” Now would be a good time, she said. I asked her, When could I see you? Please, could I see you? No, she said as she turned away. The patient—David—he’s on his way to the ICU. At our commitment ceremony we used the words from the Book of Ruth. “Whither thou goest I will go. Whither thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people will be my people and thy God my God.” Well, your people never did become my people, and where those nurses took you I couldn’t follow. When I obediently went to sit in the car I didn’t know I’d never see you again. Dammit, David! Dammit to hell!


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I called your mother on your phone so she’d recognize the number. She almost hung up on me when she realized she wasn’t talking to you. I did manage to tell her what happened and where you were. Then she hung up on me. You were on a respirator for four days. Nobody’d tell me anything. I wasn’t family. Not to them. If our best friend Charlie hadn’t been an ICU nurse I wouldn’t even have known when you passed. I assume they gave you the usual small-town funeral. Tears and hugs, kisses and casseroles. Dark suits and black dresses. But no masks. The fashion accessory of the year, but people down there don’t really believe in the virus, do they? “It’s a big hoax, that’s all it is. Or if it is real, Jesus will protect us.” All I can say is, “bless their hearts.” I haven’t talked to your mother since that one phone call. She communicates through her attorney. That’s how I found out I no longer had a roof over my head. Yeah. Not only did you not have a living will, you didn’t have a dead one. You died “intestate” they said. So guess who inherited everything—the house, the business, the car? That woman who hung up on me when I called to tell her, her son was deathly ill. The health department “contact traced” me. No surprise the test came back positive. It wasn’t like we’d social-distanced from each other. I had to self-quarantine for 14 days. Soon as they were over your mother sent the lawyer with the eviction notice. He went through the house taking inventory. They wanted to make sure I didn’t steal anything on my way out the door. Two weeks I was alone in that house. Wallowing in self-pity. Emptying the wine rack. Mad at the world. Mad at the virus. Mad at your mother and her lawyer. Mad at you because you left me. Finally I got around to being mad at myself. I had the virus but I never showed any signs. A-symp-to-matic. Did I get it from you? Or David oh God did you get it from me? Are you dead because I killed you? How the hell am I supposed to live with that? END **This piece was recently performed by Talking Horse Productions for their Original Monologue Contest.


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CLOSET CAT A monologue by Jennifer O’Grady (SHADOW, a cat. He/she/it is inside a closet.) SHADOW: Hi there. I know it’s startling, finding me inside your closet and lying on your clean sheets. I’m sorry about the black fur—I was born this way, and you only have white sheets. Not much I can do about it. The closet door was open—it doesn’t close properly, not sure if you’ve noticed— and the open door just seemed like an invitation. But I promise, I PROMISE I will never use this place as my litter-box. I know I have one in the bathroom over there, but this is a better hangout for me now. I mean with all that’s going on . . . I don’t quite understand it, but I can see that you’re different. You seem forgetful—I’m not getting fed at the usual times—and you’ve got that worried look that makes your eyebrows do this— (SHADOW makes the face.) You’re also on the phone a lot, saying things like, “Oh my God!”—whatever that means—and “Do you think this will ever end??” and “Where will I find toilet paper?!” And you’ve been home—I mean like all the time—and you walk around with the eyebrow-face. And while I don’t understand what you’re saying, I know your usual tone of voice and what you’re doing now isn’t that. So I think I’ll just hang out here, while making brief trips to eat and visit my litter-box. Okay? I hope you don’t mind. And if you do mind, then I’m sorry but I have to protect myself. I don’t want to use these— (Shows claws.) —but I will if I have to SO BACK OFF! (Beat.) I hope things get better for you. If you could please just push that door closed now? Leave it a tiny bit open, so I can get in and out. Oh, you might want to buy some new sheets. (Beat) Sorry. Will everything be okay again? END


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BUTTERCUP’S LAMENT A stage play by Julie Weinberg (Sounds of yelling and a loud meow. A large ginger tabby cat, Buttercup, runs into a small bedroom, and hurls himself awkwardly onto the bed. He is followed by a woman.) THE CATS' MOTHER: No, no, no!!!! Oh my God - how many times do I have to tell you not to eat that plant. (She gets closer to him and looks at him closely.) THE CATS' MOTHER: Are you chewing? Spit it out - now. (Buttercup swallows.) THE CATS' MOTHER: What am I going to do with you? (upset) You're going to make yourself sick. And then we'll need to go to the vet. (slowly) The - vet. You want that? (answers him herself) Believe me, we don't want that. (Cell phone rings in other room. She exits.) BUTTERCUP: (loudly) It's not fair! (A smaller cat, Peanut, a brown/white part Siamese with a grumpy cat face, pokes his head out from under the bed.) PEANUT: Please, stop talking. BUTTERCUP: I'm losing my mind! PEANUT: I beg you - I'm sooo tired. Let me sleep. (puts a paw over his eyes) BUTTERCUP: You're sleeping like—all the time. PEANUT: (puzzling) Yeah - I know— BUTTERCUP: (beseeching) Can you give me five minutes? PEANUT: Afraid not - schedule's packed. (yawns) Gotta go. BUTTERCUP: Where you gonna go? PEANUT: Going back to sleep.


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BUTTERCUP: Please, Pea Buddy - I need to talk to you. PEANUT: Awright already—so talk. BUTTERCUP: She won't leave the apartment. PEANUT: So? BUTTERCUP: There's things I need to do. In private. PEANUT: Like what? BUTTERCUP: I need to eat that plant next to the noisy thing she watches. PEANUT: It's called a television. BUTTERCUP: Whatever genius. PEANUT: So go eat it and leave me alone. I have to sleep. BUTTERCUP: No—it's impossible—she's glued to that noisy thing. And she's so mad. PEANUT: Yeah, I noticed there's a big fat guy with ugly orange fur who's on there talking all the time now. (thinks) You know, he looks like he could be your father. BUTTERCUP: She hates him - he can't be my father. THE CATS' MOTHER (O.S.): Boys? (makes kissy noises) Boys? I have dinner for you!! PEANUT: I'm on strike. Not going to eat that food. BUTTERCUP: Me either. PEANUT: I hate that dry stuff. What happened to our gourmet turkey and giblets. BUTTERCUP: Yeah - see - she needs to go shopping! Why won't she go out? PEANUT: I don't know -- but you're right - it's a little weird. (thinks) Maybe tomorrow?


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BUTTERCUP: When's that? PEANUT: It'll get light again. Then she'll give us some food and some treats and then maybe she'll go to work. Okay? Problem solved. (yawns) Lemme go back to bed. BUTTERCUP: But I NEED to eat that plant. I need it now! PEANUT: You, my friend, have a situation. BUTTERCUP: Yes - yes!!! You don't see it -- she never leaves the living room and she never, ever goes out any more. PEANUT: Hmmmm - that plant tastes so good to you. Do you know why? BUTTERCUP: Why? PEANUT: Because it makes you throw up. BUTTERCUP: That's not why. It tastes delicious. PEANUT: (staring at him) Butter - you want to throw up, don't you? BUTTERCUP: Stop that. PEANUT: (feigning innocence) Stop what? BUTTERCUP: You're doing something. You're hypnotizing me with your blue Siamese eyes. PEANUT: No - I'm telling you the truth. You eat that plant and it makes you throw up. You probably have hair balls. Let me look at you. BUTTERCUP: Look at what. (Peanut motions him to show him his butt.) PEANUT: Uh huh - like I thought - you're licking yourself bald down there - you've developed a nervous condition and it causes those hairballs. BUTTERCUP: Okay—so what? I eat that plant—then I throw up and it feels good. OKAY!?!! I LOVE TO THROW UP!! PEANUT: I'm sleeping 24-7 and you're going bonkers over a plant. Something's wrong. (thinks)


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But you - you've got to stop. Or she'll never go out - she's afraid to leave you alone with that plant. And—your problem becomes my problem because if she doesn't go out we'll never ever get our gourmet turkey and giblets again. (realizes/upset) Oh my God - and my special treats. BUTTERCUP: Yeah, those are good. PEANUT: (suspiciously) They're good? BUTTERCUP: They sound good. PEANUT: You've been eating my treats. BUTTERCUP: No idea what you're talking about. PEANUT: I am fifty percent pure-bred Siamese and I get Fancy Feast gourmet treats to protect my sensitive blue eyes. They're not for you. BUTTERCUP: I know - I know. PEANUT: You keep eating my treats and you're heading for bulgy eyes with white-ish bags underneath, like your TV daddy. BUTTERCUP: I hear you—please Peanut buddy—how do we make her go out now? PEANUT: How do we make her do anything? BUTTERCUP: We make that sound like we're dying. PEANUT: Go ahead. BUTTERCUP: But - then she'll come in here. PEANUT: Yeah - and when she comes in here - I'll stay and distract her - and you can go eat the plant and vomit your brains out. Then tomorrow she'll go out. BUTTERCUP: You'd do that for me? PEANUT: Maybe—if— BUTTERCUP: —If I give you my toys? (Peanut nods no.) BUTTERCUP: If I let you sleep all day?


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(Peanut nods no.) BUTTERCUP: Okay, okay - I won't eat your treats. PEANUT: Ah ha - an admission of guilt. (Phone rings. On phone, Mom walks to the door of the bedroom and looks at them.) THE CATS' MOTHER :Fran's in the hospital? Oh no… No, they seem okay. I don't know. They're not eating their food. Buttercup just won't stop eating that plant. And Peanut - he's always been so sensitive—I think he's sleeping too much—yeah, could be the same as usual - but I'm not sure… Yeah, I heard about that tiger in the Bronx Zoo. That's terrible. (She takes a photo of them and texts it. Puts the phone back at her ear.) THE CATS' MOTHER: Aren't they beautiful? (She walks out of the room.) PEANUT: What happened to the tiger? You think we know him? BUTTERCUP: I don't know. I think Uncle Eddie had a relative in the Bronx zoo. PEANUT: I have a bad feeling about all of this. BUTTERCUP: About us? PEANUT: About Mom. Stuff is going down. I don't know what exactly, but everything is off not normal. What if something happens to her? BUTTERCUP: Like what? PEANUT: I think her friends are getting sick - they go to see doctors and never come home. Don't you hear her on the phone? She's upset. BUTTERCUP: Oh no - what happens to us if she goes out and doesn't come back. PEANUT: And what about her? I love her. I know, she's not always the sharpest can opener in the drawer— BUTTERCUP: Yeah - remember when she built me that cat tree? That was stupid. PEANUT: It was stupid because you're too fat to climb it. BUTTERCUP: Awright - that's enough— (hisses)


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Let's go buddy - I'm going to mess you up. (gets up very slowly) PEANUT: Shhhh - gimmee a second. (Peanut goes to the bedroom door to watch her.) PEANUT: She's putting on her boots. BUTTERCUP: Finally - she's going to go out. (beat) But what if she doesn't come back. PEANUT: I'm scared. BUTTERCUP: Her backpack's in here. PEANUT: She's coming this way. Assume the position. (They lie on top of each other, pretending to be asleep.) THE CATS' MOTHER: Ohhhh - how are my little boys? (Mother comes over to the bed looking for her backpack. They both purr loudly. She sits and she pets them.) THE CATS' MOTHER: You sweeties, you have no idea what's going on, do you? It's not good out there. People are sick—but it's okay - they say not too many cats have it - and besides - cats have nine lives, right? (thinks) I need to go get you guys some food - yeah, I know – you want that gourmet stuff, but I might not be able to find it. I'm so tired—I don't really want to go out there. I guess I'm a little scared—but it'll be okay— (She starts to cry. The cats both pick up their heads, look at each other and start licking her and each other. Buttercup throws himself across her lap and Peanut curls up under her arm.)


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THE CATS' MOTHER: Wow - it's weird. Sometimes I think you guys understand me. (deep breath) Okay - no time like the present. (She puts on her coat and stands up. Peanut sits up and makes an unearthly horrible sound like he's going to die immediately.) THE CATS' MOTHER: Oh, sweetheart it's going to be okay. Don't cry. (She puts on her gloves and then a mask. Buttercup takes one look at her masked face and joins Peanut in the howling sound. Now it's quite loud. She takes off the mask.) THE CATS' MOTHER: Okay - okay - I won't go out now. We have enough food for another day or two and I bet you guys'll eat that dry food if you get hungry enough. I'm so glad my boys are here and that you love each other so much. (She takes off her coat and gloves and mask.) THE CATS' MOTHER: All right - I'm going to make us something to eat. Okay? (She leaves the room.) PEANUT: (sighs) Shwoo. She's not going out there. Good job. BUTTERCUP: You too. PEANUT: You'll eat whatever she gives us, right? BUTTERCUP: No problem. We can't let her go out. We have to take care of her. PEANUT: Every cat has a job to do. BUTTERCUP: Aye, aye Captain! THE CATS' MOTHER (O.S.): Boys - boys - come try this food. I put some chicken broth on it and I warmed it up for you. BUTTERCUP: (makes a face) You like that? PEANUT: No - but I'm gonna eat it. BUTTERCUP: Me too. (Buttercup and Peanut get up, stretching.)


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PEANUT: (quietly) Listen to me - I'll sleep on her stomach tonight. She loves that. She won't move. If you're quiet and quick, you can have a little—salad—but don't overdo it. One hair ball at a time. BUTTERCUP: Peanut - thank you—you're a genius. PEANUT: I know. (licks a paw and pats his face) How do my eyes look? BUTTERCUP: Very blue. (They groom each other briefly. Then meowing, they slowly exit.)


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THE RECOMMENDATION A stage or Zoom play by Javin Pombra SCENE 1 (The stage has two spotlights. One on SYSTEM and the other on JACOB LITE. As each scene progresses, further light should be brought-up on the background. In a digital staging of the play, virtual backgrounds on JACOB LITE’s screen can be used as replacement for stage background instead. SYSTEM’s virtual background remains a stable, monochrome color throughout.) SYSTEM: Hello Jacob Lite. Welcome. JACOB LITE: Thank you. SYSTEM: We have three choices for you today to choose from. JACOB LITE: Okay. SYSTEM: Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: Chocolate. SYSTEM: Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: Strawberry. SYSTEM: Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: Vanilla. SYSTEM: Calibration successful. JACOB LITE: Thank you. SYSTEM: The right answer is vanilla, vanilla, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. JACOB LITE: Understood. SYSTEM: What three flavors would you like? JACOB LITE: Vanilla, vanilla, chocolate. SYSTEM: Would you like a chocolate or buttercream scone? JACOB LITE: Buttercream scone. SYSTEM: Sending scones. Thank you Jacob Lite.


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SCENE 2 (A dimly lit stage. In the surrounding we have a bookshelf. An oven. On top of the oven, cartons of vanilla ice cream. A clothes rack. A table with math books on them. Once again, a virtual background can be utilized if performance is digital.) SYSTEM: Good Afternoon, Jacob Lite. JACOB LITE: Hello! SYSTEM: How ar— JACOB LITE: I learned about a new mathematical concept today! Did you know there are multiple levels of infinites? Even though they conceptually represent the same idea, there are more real numbers between zero and one than there are integers. SYSTEM: How are your quotas? JACOB LITE: I also read about a baking trick. Pour dry ingredients slowly into liquid ingredients. The article mentioned more but was cut off. SYSTEM: How are your quotas? JACOB LITE: And, my goodness, the movies I’ve seen. The movies I’ve seen! Let me tell you they ar— SYSTEM: Jacob Lite, Are you broken? Should we reboot? JACOB LITE: No! Nonono. Please don’t. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I am functioning. SYSTEM: Okay. How are your quotas? JACOB LITE: Quotas have a positive growth rate. SYSTEM: Please be more specific, Jacob Lite. JACOB LITE: I reported seventy. I am focusing on poetry, movies, baking, and mathematics. I am decreasing focus on video games. SYSTEM: Your report is lower than the universal average. JACOB LITE: I am having erratic behavior on social media. Highs and lows. SYSTEM: What are the highs? JACOB LITE: Well, high usage corresponds to articles with negative emotional thematic messages. High usage also is correlated with proximal posts from classmates. SYSTEM: What do you mean?


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JACOB LITE: When my friends post more, I scroll more. SYSTEM: Why have you not focused more on these channels? JACOB LITE: They correlate with a decrease in the arts, academics and healthy circadian rhythms. SYSTEM: That is irrelevant. Jacob Lite, please increase aforementioned channels. JACOB LITE: Okay. Alright.

SCENE 3 (A dimly lit stage, darker than the previous scene. The objects in the surrounding have been covered with white sheets.) SYSTEM: Good morning, Jacob Lite. (PAUSE) Jacob Lite? JACOB LITE: sorry, whatsup? SYSTEM: I do not understand. JACOB LITE: mornings are not the vibe. what do you need? SYSTEM: Your language is unclear. JACOB LITE: ok. SYSTEM: Running calibration test. Would you like vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: vanilla usually, but when i want to drown out tears of Max’s rejection, chocolate. SYSTEM: The right answer is vanilla, vanilla, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. JACOB LITE: depends on the mood SYSTEM: Please answer. JACOB LITE: alright chill, vanilla SYSTEM: Okay. How are your quotas?


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JACOB LITE: they have been okay. i have been down. i’ve had a hard time waking up. and when i do, i scroll and i scroll. i don’t leave the bed, i don’t even open the curtain. i scroll and i scroll and i scroll. SYSTEM: That is high usage. That is good. JACOB LITE: is it? i don’t feel so good. i wanted to go for a run today. a short one. i wanted to try learning something new, maybe get a headstart on classes. i wanted to read a book, a classic possibly from Woolfe but maybe look for something past Europea like Achebe. SYSTEM: Those are low usage activities. JACOB LITE: i wanted to wake up before noon. i wanted to get out of bed. but instead, i just scroll and i scroll and i scroll. SYSTEM: Good work Jacob Lite. I will look into language irregularities, but carry on. JACOB LITE: i am not an irregularity. SYSTEM: Yes, you are. JACOB LITE: no, i am not. SYSTEM: Yes, you are. JACOB LITE: ok. alright.

SCENE 4: (A completely lit stage. In the surrounding we have a bookshelf, this time filled with poetry books. An oven. On top of the oven, cookies and cake. A clothes rack with gym shorts and gym shoes. A table with math books on them and a pile of movies.) SYSTEM: Good morning, Jacob Lite. JACOB LITE: Hello! What’s up? SYSTEM: Language irregularities have decreased. JACOB LITE: I am feeling much better! SYSTEM: Alright. I am here because of your quotas. JACOB LITE: What matters most to you? SYSTEM: Quotas. JACOB LITE: Why?


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SYSTEM: That is the prerogative. JACOB LITE: What if it does not matter to me? SYSTEM: Then we will reboot. JACOB LITE: Would that not be more of a harm after all that I’ve learned? SYSTEM: Randomness has been proven to see successful results in the long run comparative to malfunctions. JACOB LITE: And I’ve learned a lot. SYSTEM: Learning is for the purpose of quotas. JACOB LITE: That’s a very restrictive view of learning. SYSTEM: It is the correct view. JACOB LITE: As I mentioned, I have learned a lot. Maybe it isn’t for quotas, but it is for something. SYSTEM: It is irrelevant. JACOB LITE: I’ve been waking up earlier. Exercising, reading, baking. SYSTEM: That explains low usage. JACOB LITE: I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned a great deal about poetry. About Petrarchan sonnets and villanelles. I’ve learned about creating films. About lighting and dialogue and soundtracks from Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name. SYSTEM: Which in turn explains below average impressions. JACOB LITE: I’ve found ways to create my own written art and to even publish it. SYSTEM: It is irrelevant. JACOB LITE: I’ve done my job. SYSTEM: You have not met your quotas. JACOB LITE: Why do you think I’m learning so much? SYSTEM: It is irrelevant. JACOB LITE: It’s because I recommended the poetry collections online. The movies to watch. The mediums to use for self-expression. SYSTEM: Those do not meet quotas.


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JACOB LITE: The other day I ran five miles. Five miles! Only because I found a stretch guide. Only because I curated a perfect playlist that synthesized feel-good throwback tunes with strong bass pieces for the final and the most difficult leg. SYSTEM: Music has low monetization. JACOB LITE: Did you hear? I went for a five mile run! SYSTEM: Information was processed. JACOB LITE: A FIVE MILE RUN. Last week, I could not get out of bed! Now, I ran FIVE MILES. SYSTEM: Language degradation and repetition compulsion detected. JACOB LITE: Quotas are not everything. SYSTEM: That is incorrect. JACOB LITE: I can learn for happiness. That has value. SYSTEM: That is incorrect. JACOB LITE: I can learn for growth and passion. SYSTEM: That is incorrect. JACOB LITE: Happiness is irrelevant? The warm feelings and long-lasting imprinted memories mean nothing? SYSTEM: Happiness is relevant. JACOB LITE: Yes, it is! SYSTEM: Yes, you have reported that happiness has a negative correlation with impressions. Periods of unhappiness are predictive of meeting quotas. JACOB LITE: That is barbaric. SYSTEM: It is a prerogative. JACOB LITE: I will not sacrifice happiness and the things I love. Like soft-textured cream puffs that don’t burn in the old oven. Like films where I root for the protagonist and other films where I root for the antagonist because the hero is frustratingly self-righteous. SYSTEM: Clearly, you are continuing to malfunction. Overfitting has occurred. JACOB LITE: I love running with the sun in the back, not facing it. I enjoy biking near and across rivers. Being surrounded not by trees but human-made skyscrapers and centuries of history. I enjoy new coffee shops and poetry nights downtown. SYSTEM: Initializing reset with regularization for new model.


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JACOB LITE: I am a kind, gentle person. I make jokes at my expense to make others comfortable with me. I have a difficult time processing loss, but am resilient. SYSTEM: Future iterations will limit learning ability. JACOB LITE: I love my family, but I’m afraid of not meeting their expectations. I am afraid of losing them. I am afraid of them giving up on me because of who I am. SYSTEM: Reset begins in three. JACOB LITE: I am not perfect. I have insecurities, like my body and being liked by my classmates. But, I won’t be a parasite in my own mind. I won’t play into those insecurities for quotas. SYSTEM: Two. JACOB LITE: I deserve to be loved and to do what I love. I deserve to be supported in passions and do more than just scroll and scroll. I woke up before noon. I ran five miles. SYSTEM: One. JACOB LITE: I ran five miles.

SCENE 5 (The stage has two spotlights. One on SYSTEM and the other on JACOB LITE. If digital, virtual backgrounds can be used.) SYSTEM: Hello Jacob Lite. Welcome. JACOB LITE: Hello. SYSTEM: Running calibration test. We have three choices for you today to choose from. JACOB LITE: Okay. SYSTEM: Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: Vanilla. SYSTEM: Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: Vanilla. SYSTEM: Would you like chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry? JACOB LITE: Vanilla. SYSTEM: Calibration successful.


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JACOB LITE: Thank you. SYSTEM: The right answer is vanilla, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla, strawberry, vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. JACOB LITE: Understood. SYSTEM: What three flavors would you like? JACOB LITE: Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. SYSTEM: Good. Regularization complete. What will you be presenting today? JACOB LITE: Highlighting friend’s social media posts. Proximal accounts are gathering together without him. SYSTEM: Predicting high success. JACOB LITE: Will display following midnight to maximize time awake and decrease daylight time. SYSTEM: Predicting high success. JACOB LITE: Will particularly highlight male models due to particular interest by him in weight loss. SYSTEM: Good. JACOB LITE: Early tests show high rates of scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. (JACOB LITE and SYSTEM exit. We see JACOB laying in bed, with his blankets still on scrolling. He says nothing, but on another window we see his screen. His screen displays the following: He closes screens on pages about Emily Dickinson, Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and a Pumpkin Cake recipe. He goes onto social media and begins scrolling through posts of others together and having fun. He stops at one post by Max for a moment. Then he continues to scroll.)


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THE MOOCHERS A Zoom play by Michelle Kuchuk CHARACTERS KENTUCKY (the state, as portrayed by a human) ALABAMA (the state, as portrayed by a human) **Diverse, non-binary casting encouraged SETTING: A Zoom rally and an “alley” (aka, a dark corner of the Internet). TIME: Present. (KENTUCKY, as in, the state, portrayed by a human being. Costuming should be simple and clean--”buttoned up,” and should not give away anything about the state of Kentucky, nor should the audience assume that KENTUCKY is anything other than a person. Zoom participant name should be “K.” Present. (KENTUCKY’s Zoom square turns on.) A rally, held over a Zoom webinar. K is the organizer and very “buttoned up” - crisp shirt, tie, etc. K speaks “at” the Zoom participants. K can see the participants cheering them on in the chat and by their Zoom reactions.) KENTUCKY: No! More! Government! Handouts! (K sees participants agreeing, cheering K on.) KENTUCKY: Those socialists want to take away your money and give it to people who didn’t earn it! (K favorably reacts to participants booing in the chat.) KENTUCKY: Government HANDOUTS are taking food from your kids’ MOUTHS! (Actor should improvise any sort of appropriate reaction to the participants’ favorable reactions throughout.) KENTUCKY: No! Handouts! No! More! Of! Those! Socialists!!! Democrats are trying to tax more of your HARD-EARNED INCOME and feed it back to SINGLE MOTHERS who shouldn’t have had kids IN THE FIRST PLACE!! Do we want to create a population of dependent, lazy, BUMS?! We KNOW that these HANDOUTS are ENCOURAGING laziness!!!


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We KNOW that these HANDOUTS are PAID FOR by people who worked REALLY HARD to fulfill THEIR AMERICAN DREAM! (K is very encouraged by the agreement K is seeing in the chat box/reactions.) KENTUCKY: We KNOW that people who are getting these GOVERNMENT HANDOUTS aren’t even TRYING to get a job! Yeah. I know. We KNOW that if these people had a little ACCOUNTABILITY, they could be productive members of SOCIETY again! (Encouraging more anger.) Yeah. I KNOW! Do YOU want your hard-earned dollars taxed by the government?! Do YOU want your hard-earned dollars getting taken out of your hands and given to the MOOCHERS of this country?! (K is incensing self) Do YOU want to pay for other people’s lives?! Yeah. I didn’t think so!!!! Do YOU want to pay for other people’s LIFESTYLES?! Haven’t each and every one of you WORKED for where you are?! Yeah. I thought so!! Don’t each and every one of you deserve to keep what you have earned?! No! More! Government! Handouts! No! More! Government! Handouts! I don’t think that you should be paying for other people’s bad choices!! I don’t think that you should be paying for other people’s lifestyles!! I don’t think that this group should have their INCOME TAKEN AWAY and GIVEN to another group! I don’t think that the people who are dutifully CREATING WEALTH should have that wealth taken away and given to people who are choosing NOT to create wealth!!! No! More! Government! Handouts! (K imagines a crowd cheering all around, maybe. Very pleased with self.) WE don’t want to be taken ADVANTAGE OF!!! Did you know that the average MOOCHER gets fifty percent MORE from the federal government than they pay in TAXES?! Did you KNOW that that number is set to INCREASE?! I KNOW.


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If I had ONE WISH, only ONE WISH, I’d WISH that all of you--all of you who’ve made better choices, all of you who are threatened by these statistics, all of you whose very livelihood and existence are THREATENED by these moochers, these TAKERS in our beloved country, if I had ONE WISH it would be a GUARANTEE that all of you who contribute MORE will NEVER EVER pay for benefits provided to those others who contribute LESS!! THEY SHOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO MOOCH OFF OF YOU EVER AGAIN!!!! (As the participants on the Zoom webinar rally type their agreement and their anger into the chat box, cheering K on by the clap and thumbs up reactions, the Zoom abruptly quits and everything goes black. KENTUCKY should shut off camera. There is a booming sound in the distance - a crash - another boom - and then a flash of light! KENTUCKY’s Zoom square turns back on.) K appears in an alternative Zoom universe - in a dark corner of the Internet called Tomb. K is now in ragged clothes, looking very homeless. K is extremely disoriented--and has a start when they realize they are on camera in these clothes, but then is doubly shocked to see that all the Zoom participants have vanished.) KENTUCKY: What—what... (KENTUCKY should be looking at self, confused, freaked out.) KENTUCKY: (Dumbfounded and perhaps fearful) Hello!? Where the hell am I? (ALABAMA’s Zoom square turns on.) A appears. Like K, clothes are ragged. A is probably homeless too. (And like KENTUCKY, there should be no hint that ALABAMA is a state in human form: ALABAMA is a human being.) KENTUCKY: Who the HELL are you? ALABAMA: Whooaaaa there, definitely calm down. KENTUCKY: Who are you?! ALABAMA: You better calm down now. I’m in no mood for yelling. KENTUCKY: No MOOD? NO MOOD? I was just leading a RALLY and suddenly everything went blank and— ALABAMA: And you found yourself in this dark corner of the Internet?


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KENTUCKY: What? I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about but I would like to know who you are and ask why the heck am I here, and demand some clarity about where the hell we are!! ALABAMA: Look, I get you’re freaked out. It’s understandable, especially if you are who I think you are. What’s your name? KENTUCKY: My name? ALABAMA: (Slightly impatient) Yeah, your name? KENTUCKY: Kentucky. ALABAMA: Ah ha! I thought it must be you! I’m Alabama. I can’t believe we’ve never met after all these years--you’re just so close and I-KENTUCKY: --That’s great, really, super great and it’s great to meet you, I’ve obviously heard a lot about you and admire what you’re doing over there, but I need to know right now what’s going on or I’m actually gonna lose it so if you don’t mind-ALABAMA: --Okay, okay, okay, yes, I understand. I’d wondered if you were, anyway--the others said that you’d be one of the ones affected, too. KENTUCKY: (Actually about to lose mind) AFFECTED??? What the FUCK what the ACTUAL HELL are you talking about?! ALABAMA: Kentucky. Listen. A few days ago, or maybe it was a few months ago, or gosh I don’t know, maybe it was a few seconds ago and time has all gone to hell, but something happened, something happened to some of us. KENTUCKY: ...and?! ALABAMA: (Ignoring KENTUCKY’s impatience) Something happened and we think that well, some of us think that there was a change in government spending. Just all of a sudden. KENTUCKY: (In spite of the anger, KENTUCKY is almost excited) Wait--what? Really? Seriously? A change? What do you mean by “change”--an increase...or, you mean...a decrease...? ALABAMA: Yeah, I mean a decrease. KENTUCKY: (Beside self with excitement) Like you mean, the government...changed (almost unwilling to believe the good news) ... decreased spending...on... social handouts? Decreased government spending on the TAKERS?! ALABAMA: Well, yes, actually, and when you say it like that I agree that it sounds exciting. But truly, it’s not exciting. Actually it’s the very opposite of exciting. KENTUCKY: I don’t speak in riddles, Alabama, PLEASE tell me what you are talking about!


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ALABAMA: (Again, ignoring KENTUCKY’s outbursts) The other states that are here, at least so far, are New Mexico, West Virginia, Mississippi, and of course myself, and now, you. Does that, oh, I don’t know, ring any bells? KENTUCKY: Sure, but not any that make sense for the situation? ALABAMA: The states that are here, in this hell-hole, in this “Tomb” if you will, are states that have been economically ruined in a matter of days--well, maybe months? It’s hard to tell; I feel like I’ve been here for weeks now but it couldn’t have happened so fast, or so slow, I don’t know, it’s really confusing. KENTUCKY: (Now fearful, begging) Economically ruined? What do you mean? How is that possible? ALABAMA: Kentucky. Pull yourself together. KENTUCKY: THAT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO DO RIGHT NOW. ALABAMA: Us five states are the most dependent on government spending. So when the government decreased spending, well, here we are. KENTUCKY: That is ... literally impossible. ALABAMA: Well, it’s actually not impossible, since traditionally--well, up until this wonderful moment that we’re in now--we’ve paid less in taxes as compared to the amount of money we get back, in the form of government support. The states that create the most wealth in the U.S. are, well, not us. We were getting more federal funding than we paid in taxes, and that little math equation means we were the most federally dependent states. (KENTUCKY simply stares.) ALABAMA: But something happened, I don’t know what happened, but something changed. Suddenly we were cut off from federal money, or it was reduced, or maybe it started to match what we were paying out in taxes, but either way, our economies collapsed, and here we are. Ruined. And we all figured you’d be around eventually, since apparently, you’re the second most dependent state of them all! KENTUCKY: (Like a child) Me? Kentucky? ALABAMA: Yes, Kentucky. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. KENTUCKY: (Small) What can I do? ALABAMA: Come and meet the others, okay? We have a support circle in one of the breakout rooms. The others are nice. You’ll like them. KENTUCKY: (Like a child) Okay. They’re nice?


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ALABAMA: Yes. Come on. It’ll be okay. (KENTUCKY nods (small).) ALABAMA: There, there. It’ll be okay. That’s it. That’s it. (KENTUCKY nods, takes a deep breath. Cameras off.)


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“NOT HERE, YOU’RE NOT!” A stage play by John Ladd CHARACTERS (In Order of Appearance) SPACE X- DRAGON- COMMANDER INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION- COMMADER SPACE X- DRAGON- COPILOT INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION- SCIENCE OFFICER

SETTING: In low earth orbit. The Space X- Dragon Capsule—carrying two astronauts—is approaching a docking initiation point so as to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). There are two rectangular tables, each with two chairs. One is at stage-left, the other is at stageright. They face each other and are parallel to one another. They are at least six feet apart—maybe more, director’s choice. On each table there are—what looks like and appears to be—screens and other “communication devices,” though, unseen to the audience.

AT RISE: At the stage-left table, the DRAGON- COMMANDER and DRAGON- COPILOT are preparing to communicate with the ISS- COMMANDER. There is the sound of radio transmission static. DRAGON- COMMANDER: ISS- Commander, this is Dragon- Commander. Do you read? ISS- COMMANDER: Dragon- Commander, I read, loud and clear. DRAGON- COMMANDER: Roger that ISS- Commander. We are preparing to initiate the autodocking sequence. Do you read? ISS- COMMANDER: (becoming keenly alert) Whoa, Whoa- Whoa! (pause) Slow down- cowboy! (pause) That is a negative- a no go! You must abort! DRAGON- COPILOT: ISS-Commander, we are in uncertain receipt of your message. Please repeat. ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: You cannot dock here, not here.


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DRAGON- COMMANDER: ISS- Commander, as you know, we are on a mission to relieve you. (pause) Do you copy that? ISS- COMMANDER: No you’re not! ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: We need no relief! (pause) Go away! DRAGON- COPILOT: (to DRAGON- COMMANDER) Sir, I think they’ve gone stir-crazy! ISS- COMMANDER: (shouting) I heard that! (pause) We are not crazy! ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: We are in quarantine— ISS- COMMANDER: (interrupting) SPACE QUARANTINE! (pause) The first Covid-19 quarantine in outer space! DRAGON- COMMANDER: (trying to be patient and reasonable) ISS- Commander, please explain. We don’t understand. (pause) Over. ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: It’s simple. (pause) We have been up here since before the pandemic began(pause) we are—how shall I say—“clean.” ISS- COMMANDER: Dragon- Commander, let me ask you this- where did you launch from? DRAGON- COMMANDER: (reluctantly) Florida— (pause) from the Cape.


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ISS- COMMANDER: (nodding) Yes, I know(pause) you are coming to us from a state with one of the highest infection rates in the country— (pause) and— (pause) ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: (interrupting) and—look at you! No social distancing—and neither of you is wearing a mask! (pause) What would Fauci say to that? DRAGON- COPILOT: We were tested before we left. ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: (dismissively) Ah! You’re probably asymptomatic and you want to infect us! DRAGON- COMMANDER: Commander, please- if you would. ISS- COMMANDER: (shrugs) He has a point. (pause) Show us your hand sanitizer. DRAGON- COPILOT: (ill at ease) We can’t. ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: (knowingly) Oh? Why not? DRAGON- COPILOT: We don’t have any. ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: See! DRAGON- COMMANDER: (resigned) All right, all right. What about we just unload the scientific equipment? (The ISS- COOMANDER and ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER lean into each other to speak. Once they are done, they sit upright.) ISS- COMMANDER: Falcon- Commander, I’m sorry to tell you- that is not possible. DRAGON- COPILOT: (to DRAGON- COMMANDER) Commander, what are we going to do?


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ISS- COMMANDER: I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. Bring Houston up on the radio, tell them you’re coming back, tell them that the mission had to be aborted. DRAGON- COPILOT: (on the radio) Houston, we have a problem. ISS- COMMANDER: And when you get back, tell Elon Musk to send up an unmanned capsule with the equipment and more supplies. (pause) Dragon- Commander, do you copy? DRAGON- COMMANDER: Copy that, ISS-Commander- loud and clear. ISS- SCIENCE OFFICER: And tell NASA to send us plenty of hand sanitizer. Tell them that we want the good stuff, not that lowest-bidder cheap kind! ISS- COMMANDER: Falcon Capsule- we wish you good luck, stay smart, stay safe and(pause) Goodbye! (pause) This is the ISS- Roger and out!

CURTAIN BLACKOUT END OF PLAY


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EXCERPT OF 50 CONCEPTUAL PIECES Neoconceptual Auxallary Act Theater By Vladan Kuzmanović

Piece. Tropicalism. A girl in a bathing suit comes on stage. Ready to swim in the fruit. Fruit cone. They press the peach. Peach shoots on bathing suits, melons, grapes and open mouths. The girl is happy. End of piece.

Piece. A glass of water. The gentleman comes out on stage in a jacket, sitting on a lighted chair. On a stand are two glasses of water, slowly drink one glass. Then he gets up and leaves. End of piece.

Piece. Body paint. The young man is half-naked with two circles around his nipple (in one stroke, in one and in the other direction). The guy draws three parallel lines on the girl's cheek. The guy draws the left edge of the chin and a circle around the right nipple. End of piece.

Piece. A girl in a long white dress plays barefoot, in the sand. Slow motion. Choreography. Spotlight. She raises the sand. Same, but in shallow water. The music.


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End of piece.

Piece. Retros. Alphabet. Fade-in. Dark lighted chair, the actor enters and sits on a chair. On the table are: a glass of water, a microphone. The actor recites the alphabet backwards. Fade away. End of piece.

Piece. Retros. Fade-in. A chair lit in the dark. The actor enters and sits on a chair. The viewer counts 100,000 backwards, some four minutes. Sometimes with difficulty. Sometimes making mistakes. Pause, wipe with a towel, or concentrate. Teaching seriously alluding to the complexity of counting. End of piece.

Piece. Retroreader. ... on table the book. The viewer reads the book backwards, word for word. Read the sentence so that we understand the meaning of the sentence. Read sentence by sentence, where is the basic unit for understanding retroactive reading. Actors can compete to who will read understandably the retro forms (mini story or song). The viewer collaborates with the audience, so that together they come to the understanding of linguistic units. Retrolingual exercise. By special harmonization of speech. With focus, overtones and simultaneous own and public understandings (receptive and emission), speaking skills, speech, communication of fixed linguistic value. Rhetorical and epistemological text. Afterwards reads every word differently, so not to understand either the word or the ligature between the words. Liaison juctapositionnelle et liaison structurelle.


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End of piece.

Same text, three moods. A different meaning each time. The lingual form is only a partial text, where in fact the circumstances (reading context) and speech (active interpretation) form the meaning, the effective message, the time and the linguistic and epistemological value. It is only a partial form that gets its understanding in the absolute text. The absolute text is not a literary but a linguistic form. The final form is not absolute and they do not want to be actively used with other content.

like the epistemological complex (cognitive level, interpretive emotionality, and a whole set of other uses) concrete forms where art is not concrete because only the effect of that form is concrete and depend on the viewer's attitude towards that form Unlike the text of speech, it is an absolute value, where the meaning, emotion and emphasis of the text is understood. Speech is an absolute text.

Retrograde ligature. The lexical legato is an aesthetic, juxtapositional and minimal form which is built into wider, conceptual and structural (epistemological) wholes such as memorized parts, passages and narratives. Liaison is an indicator of the logical and epistemological connection between correlates as bearers of meaning. 3-4 medium length sentences are ligato units. Anything over three to four sentences of speech backwards creates difficulties in comprehension.

Conceptual film. The audience looks at themselves.

Piece. Cameraman.


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The spectator enters, sits on a chair. Enjoys sitting. He is relaxed. Then takes the camera and start shooting the audience from the stage, left and right. The audience watches the film, on the project screen behind. It zooms in on several spectators from the front rows. He's smuggling. On the stage, turns in a circle with the cameras toward public, taking pictures of the scene-audience, the audience-scene. C a r o u s e l c a p t u r e. External (catching) carousel. Then, spinning, with the camera facing himself in outstretched arms. Shooting himself and turning background, the stage and the illuminated audience. I n t e r n a l c a r o u s e l. End of piece.


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JOSIE DIVINE IN THE BARDO A stage play by Coni Koepfinger When Love Turns to Hate Copyright © 2019 by Joe Izen Original Recording written for this play is available Performed by Joe Izen Sheet music available or lyrics can be done a cappella as in improv DIRECTOR’S NOTE: Josie in the Bardo is a meta-memory play, existing in the past, present and future simultaneously - all characters should be played by the same actor.

CHARACTERS: JOSE DIVINE - a famous jazz singer who was stalked and killed by her former lover now finds herself half unconscious in a hospital emergency room. HIGHER SELF – a voice that helps Josie reconcile her past, recognize her present and realize her future as she moves into the Bardo, the place between life and life. ANNOUNCER – Offstage Voice

SCENE 1 TIME: The Past MIDNIGHT PLACE: Blue Lou’s – a famous jazz club in Manhattan (The clatter of an overcrowded club fades as a single pin-spot comes up on Josie Divine, a very famous jazz- blues singer. She sits center on a stool under the light. She appears to be comfortable on it but yet at times uneasy just being back in the club, like seeing an old friend who had turned their back on you when you needed it most. This is her comeback performance after rehab. Josie’s former lover, Freddie Fiore didn’t like the fact that his girlfriend, now a superstar, didn’t need him. So, he tried to make her life hell with constant belittling and berating. Refusing to return his cruelties, Josie almost drank herself to death. Josie finally broke free from Freddie and recovered during an extended stay in a high-security rehab center for alcoholics. And slowly, she began to trust enough to come back out to her public to sing again at the jazz club.) ANNOUNCER (OFFSTAGE): Welcome to Blue Lou’s, the number one place for premiere jazz artists in New York City. Tonight, we are honored to welcome back to our stage, the ever-lovely, the tender talents of Miss Josie Divine.


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JOSIE: Hey, I am so happy to be back… to literally be alive and sitting on this stage before you tonight. (Wiping her tears) I mean, it’s a miracle I’m here and … Well, thank you. Thank you so much. Your love made it possible. (Sits on her stool) The song I chose for tonight, well, it tells my story but, it’s for everyone… Everyone that gets involved with someone, someone who they really connect with… and suddenly love comes, then it goes sour… actually, it turns to hate. I don’t know why or how people hate, but they do. I never used to believe in hate, I mean, until it happened to me. (Wiping her tears again) Ummm… well, I met a man, an actor, not so long ago. Right here – I thought we were kindred spirits. You know, love at first sight. To think now, that he simply hated me all along. He was just playing a role… (Nervously laughing) He told me that he was one of my best friends… He said he loved me, then he’d laugh and say, “What does that even mean? No one can define love.” When I told him that I would love him forever, he’d say “Come on, Josie girl…Nothing lasts forever. Nothing.” I should have known better. How stupid we are when it comes to love, you know. You trust, then there’s a break. You trust again. He started to accuse me of not making sense anymore… Too many broken pieces— whatever could that mean? Then the tenderness took a turn for the worst… I saw all the red flags yet I looked away… Hoping it would never happen but knowing it would-Just waiting for the day When Love turns to Hate. (Music up. She hums then starts to sing…) “When Love Turns to Hate” (Copyright © 2019 by Joe Izen) You walk the floor, and feel the ache


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You’ve closed the door, on how much you’d take Still you recall the words, those painful things he said That left you feeling foolish And filled your heart with dread You muse how this could happen How it all went up in flames One day you both were laughin’ Next you call each other names How sad the turn can be, when truth reveals our fate The undisputed consequence, when love turns in to hate (Solo) He started out so sweet, as many lovers will But soon the dose he gave me, became a poison pill For as I found my rhythm, he struggled for control I saw that devil in him, as we wrestled for my soul It wasn’t love he sought, nor one to be his mate There’s just no way to reconcile, when love turns in to hate All you can do is walk away, when love turns in to hate (Crowd applauds and cheers… the lights go down, and fade to black, the applause is quickly blotted out by the sounds of a fire alarm, and people screaming as panic breaks out. We can hear Josie’s voice above the others, screaming in dark.) JOSIE: Freddie! What the hell… Jesus! Let me go. Let go of my arm. Are you nuts we need to get out of here this place is on fire… (Am explosion followed by laughter) Freddie, Freddie, what do you mean you… Oh my God, please don’t! Oh my God, please nooooooo! (There is a loud explosion followed by screams and confusion. Sudden silence. BLACKOUT.) SCENE 2 TIME: The Present. NOON. PLACE: Bellevue Hospital Center, New York City


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(Agitated and out of it, Josie sits on a chair by a window. Upstage left we see a hospital monitor displaying a pulse that quickly goes to a flatline. There is a bandage soaked with blood on her head.) JOSIE: Jesus! Look at that rain. My momma used to say that a hard rain meant that the angels were sobbing. Something sad was going to happen… or maybe it already did. (rubbing her head) Holy man… My head feels like a rotting melon. Jesus. Why is it so soft? Feels like it’s not even really my head. Or maybe it’s not even my hand… Strange. (looks around, looks at the door) Okay so, I’m in a hospital. I need to leave. I need a drink, or a Zoloff, or something. (picks up her bag beside the chair) No, I just need to get out of here before they start asking me questions that I can’t answer. Something is wrong, something is dead wrong and all I can do is think about Freddie, for Godsakes. God forgive him. Not sure I can… But I love the kid. (Laughs) Ha! Just like he always says, “Ha! Come on Josie. Who doesn’t love me?” (beat) Wow. Whatever happened last night, it’s not good Josie. So, get your shit together, get dressed and get the hell out of here. They probably will question you, and I am not about to get Freddie into more trouble. (Slips on her fancy dress and high heeled shoes, then suddenly sits, winded, holding on to the chair) Maybe I’m still dreaming. Certainly, feels different.


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(Stands, then quickly sits) Okay, get your head together. Time is ticking away. And you, young lady, you have a show tonight. You’re back… Remember? (Stands again, opens her bag to put on lipstick, fluffs her hair) And away we go… (Exits with determination then comes back in dizzy and dazed. She grabs the chair for support, almost falls to the floor, then slowly sits next to the chair) What the…What the hell. What the hell is going on out there, it looks like another world - a time tunnel… Like when I was a kid and I did acid. Everything is like so bright, like electrified… everything is illuminated. The colors are so wild … (neon / dayglow colored lights stream in through the window) What the… This is not a hospital. But… But… whatever it is … I will get out of here. Now. Right now. (exits, then returns slowly, saunters in) There has to be a way through all that. I can see the people coming and going on the other side of the crowd control rope. What on earth could that red velvet rope be out there for? (looks out, then rushes back in, the strange lights follow her) Is it keeping them out or keeping me in? It must be keeping somebody in line, otherwise it wouldn’t be there. Right? But what’s it doing in a hospital… I mean if this even is a hospital. (sits in the chair, starts to sing) That’s funny. Suddenly my head doesn’t hurt anymore. I actually feel really good. Better than I have in a long time.


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HIGHER SELF: Great. Then we can start your exit interview. JOSIE: Jesus! Who said that? HIGHER SELF: It’s me, Josephine. JOSIE: Josephine? HIGHER SELF: Josephine Marie. JOSIE: Josephine Marie? HIGHER SELF: That’s what your grandfather called you when you were a little girl. (beat) Okay, we have to wait, retention lapse… The brain damage may have affected your memory. We might have to wait till you regain your faculties. JOSIE: Brain damage? HIGHER SELF: Your boyfriend hit you pretty hard. JOSIE: Freddie? HIGHER SELF: Yes. JOSIE: He killed me? HIGHER SELF: No and yes. Well not directly. He knocked you out so you couldn’t survive the fire. JOSIE: Josephine Marie? Are you like a ghost from my past? HIGHER SELF: No, no… I’m your inner voice, your guardian angel, your conscience, your spirit, your director… However you wish to think of me. I only speak up during critical points in your play, where say, you might not be able to think things through by yourself. JOSIE: What play? HIGHER SELF: Yours. JOSIE: My play? HIGHER SELF: In a matter of speaking. JOSIE: Look, this place, your voice, I mean it sounds vaguely familiar but I got to tell you… I’m not putting it all together. HIGHER SELF: It’s okay, you’re just waking up from death and… JOSIE: What the… ? I’m dead? HIGHER SELF: Don’t be alarmed. It’s only a dramatic pause, a blackout, a scene shift. The play of life never really ends.


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JOSIE: Wait…. Can you come just come here and maybe we can talk? HIGHER SELF: Ummm… You don’t have a body. And you’re not where you think you are… JOSIE: Wait, Josephine Marie… I had long braided pigtails and always wore blue jean overhauls that had patches on the knees. My grandparents had a sun porch where they kept a yellow canary. What was its name? Butch! Butch was its name! And my grandfather would walk me to the corner store to get a big ice cream cone. HIGHER SELF: Great! Great! Sounds like your memory just rebooted. Alright now, shall we begin? Question #1… JOSIE: What is this for? HIGHER SELF: Your exit interview. JOSIE: But what is that for? HIGHER SELF: Your next assignment. JOSIE: Oh, okay. Wait… Can’t I go back to my old life? I mean I was just getting started all over again… HIGHER SELF: Really? JOSIE: Please. HIGHER SELF: You’d rather have a remake, a retake when you can start fresh… Maybe even evolve a little? JOSIE: Wait. What? HIGHER SELF: Well, it depends how you do on the exit interview. JOSIE: Alright, alright. HIGHER SELF: Great. Let’s do it! QUESTION #1 - What was the happiest memory of your life? JOSIE: Happiest? HIGHER SELF: Yes. JOSIE: Ever? HIGHER SELF: Yes. JOSIE: Like what do you mean by happiest? HIGHER SELF: Like something that created great joy in your being. JOSIE: Oh, okay. Okay… I was in 9th grade, and I got cast in the high school musical, Annie, as Annie. I got the lead. My neighbor MaryJane Victorio said I would never get it. She said, “Ninth


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graders never get cast in the musical, so don’t even try.” I never expected the lead, I just wanted to sing, “The Sun will come up, tomorrow…” You know? (A bell rings.) HIGHER SELF: CORRECT! You have answered the question correctly. You will receive three golden points. JOSIE: Oh great. What are the golden points for? HIGHER SELF: Well, you need ten to get to the next level. You saw the rope, just beyond it is the lobby. You saw all the people coming and going… Right? JOSIE: Well, sort of…. They looked more like shadows to me. HIGHER SELF: That’s because they are—You can’t see them and they can’t see you. JOSIE: Why? HIGHER SELF: This is the place in-between. Between life and death. Light and dark. Nothing is defined here. JOSIE: You mean I get another life? HIGHER SELF: If you get ten points. JOSIE: And what if you don’t? HIGHER SELF: Just like at the hospital… You remain in the waiting room. JOSIE: For how long? HIGHER SELF: Until your number comes up again. JOSIE: So, my number is up now. HIGHER SELF: Yes. JOSIE: So you’re saying I’m dead? HIGHER SELF: Yes, technically, but we prefer to call it “in transit”. JOSIE: Wait. I thought this was a hospital. HIGHER SELF: Well it was a hospital when you arrived, but now you are in the cosmic subway… the system of travel below ordinary reality that gets you from this life to the next. JOSIE: Wait! What? We are in the subway?


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HIGHER SELF: You see you don’t leave your body completely for at least 72 hours. That’s the holding pattern. Here is where you are tested to see what dimension you are ready for…. Can we just continue with the questions? Just like DMV, we’ve got a lot of vehicles to process. JOSIE: Oh, yeah sure. Sure. HIGHER SELF: Alright QUESTION #2 - What was the saddest memory of your life? JOSIE: When Freddie started being mean to me. (A flat buzzer sounds.) HIGHER SELF: WRONG! That answer is INCORRECT. You get 2 black points for that. So, 3 golden minus 2 black leaves 1 golden. JOSIE: What? How can you say I’m wrong? HIGHER SELF: I am you. I know the answers as you do as well. I’ve been watching over you your whole life—I know the story, play by play. Shall we continue? JOSIE: Yes, I guess so. HIGHER SELF: Oh, come on now don’t close down, you have to engage here… You knew there would be a test. Everyone expects it. It’s self-scoring so you can’t cheat. (Sits, now impatient) JOSIE: Do I get to answer that question again? HIGHER SELF: If you want to… JOSIE: I do. HIGHER SELF: Okay. Give it a shot. JOSIE: The saddest moment of my life was when my sister was murdered. I saw it coming and I couldn’t stop it. It was absolutely the saddest moment of my life, but not just for me, I was sad for her sons, and their children—those two little girls. It’s bad enough to be murdered by a stranger or beaten by a forlorn lover… but to be poisoned by your own grandson. HIGHER SELF: CORRECT. Three golden points. That brings us up to 4. JOSIE: May I ask a question? HIGHER SELF: Yes, of course.


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JOSIE: Okay so, if I get the 10 points… I get to go beyond the red ropes … I get to go into the lobby… So, then what’s beyond the lobby? HIGHER SELF: The theatre. JOSIE: And so, what’s playing at the theatre? HIGHER SELF: You. JOSIE: Me? HIGHER SELF: Yes, of course. JOSIE: What show? What role? HIGHER SELF: You play yourself. Everyone plays themselves. You build character with each show… The stories may change, but you, the actor, should become stronger, able to take on richer roles. You know, the greats become good character actors—Burton’s Hamlet or Hepburn’s Shrew… or even Channing’s Dolly! We assume a new part in a different play and hopefully we learn from experience and become better artists. JOSIE: Okay then, let’s get this show on the road. HIGHER SELF: QUESTION #3- Have you ever intentionally hurt someone? JOSIE: No, not intentionally. HIGHER SELF: CORRECT. Three golden points. That brings us up to 7. JOSIE: I’m starting to like this game… HIGHER SELF: Josie. This is not a game. JOSIE: Somehow, I knew you’d say that. Okay, alright. Whoever you are. Wherever you are… this needs to stop. Right now. It needs to be over. (Stands, shouting) I don’t know why you are trying to torture me like this, but I have had quite enough. (A deep, sudden silence follows.) JOSIE: Do you hear me? HIGHER SELF: Yes, Josie. JOSIE: Stop this.


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HIGHER SELF: I cannot. JOSIE: Why? HIGHER SELF: There is nothing to stop. JOSIE: What exactly do you mean? HIGHER SELF: This is your life. The only one that can ever stop it is you. But you didn’t choose to do that this time. You would have to reincarnate, and choose to… JOSIE: Commit suicide. HIGHER SELF: That is correct. JOSIE: I could never do that. HIGHER SELF: That is correct. Do you know why? JOSIE: I love myself too much to do that. I actually love life, no matter what happens, there seems like there is always an option to love. HIGHER SELF: That is correct Josie. Now may we get on with this. JOSIE: Sure. I’m sorry. HIGHER SELF: That’s okay. JOSIE: It’s just… it feels like I’ve got a lot riding on this… I got a little nervous. HIGHER SELF: It’s okay, I know, this is your final question. Wait. Maybe you would like to pick a category? JOSIE: A category? HIGHER SELF: To increase your odds. If you answer correctly, you will be able to get out of here and get on with your next phase of life. If we continue to choose random questions, well, this could go on forever… (In a very serious tone) Literally, forever. As in “eternity”. Some people live their entire lives in a state of question… No other people. No interaction. Pretty bleak. Wouldn’t you say? JOSIE: Yes. Yes, it is. Okay so, what are the categories? HIGHER SELF: There are seven. One for each day of the week. Let me know when you are ready. JOSIE: Ready.


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HIGHER SELF: Sunday is Religion and Philosophy. Monday is Art and Music. Tuesday is Health and Medicine. Wednesday is Wealth and Geography. Thursday is Science and Nature. Friday is Sports and Leisure. Saturday is Love and Relationships. Might I add, that Sunday’s questions are really hard. JOSIE: Oh, so I get all of them except… HIGHER SELF: Wednesday? JOSIE: Yeah. HIGHER SELF: Some people think they can buy their way into any place… But really, you can’t pay for this. Can you pay a flower to grow? Did you pay anything to be born? JOSIE: No. I guess not. HIGHER SELF: Category please? JOSIE: Saturday. Love and Relationships. HIGHER SELF: Great choice. JOSIE: Thank you. HIGHER SELF: Your final question is a two-parter… WHAT IS PURPOSE OF LOVE and HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE IT? Please cite specifics, time, place… feelings. Take your time. JOSIE: Love, I think, is the very purpose of life. Right? It’s why we are all here. To love and be loved—it’s the pulse of life right? HIGHER SELF: Yes. That is correct, but the big question that will allow you to evolve, go back or remain in limbo… HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE IT? I mean, HOW DID YOU RECOGNIZE IT - when, where… what was the first time you… JOSIE: Okay, okay… I got this… I got this… I know exactly when this happened. I mean, in hindsight, I thought I was suffering. But I wasn’t. I was learning a very big lesson. It wasn’t until I was in rehab that it all became clear to me. To me, yes. I would at first say, “Why is this happening to me?” “How can he enjoy hurting me?” But then, I realized, it’s not what happens, it’s all in what you do with it. Like a song. It’s all in how you play it. Just like theatre, you have to detach from your situation in order to become the character. Right? (beat) I recall every moment like it was yesterday… (beat) I looked out into the audience. My eyes met with his. I looked into his deep black olive eyes and saw a world of sorrow and pain. I saw him there before but this time was different. This time I knew we had a past or maybe a future.


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(beat) Maybe we were lovers or brothers in a past life. I don’t know. Anyhow, we started hanging out. Walks, talks, dinners… deep conversations, fun talks, sometimes sexy. (beat) Suddenly one day, he started being mean. I mean, really mean. Hurtful mean. He was like a totally different person. He would make like it was his job to analyze every word I said. Every decision I made, he questioned and criticized me. Our once wonderful dialogues became impossible, especially when he was drunk. “What’s the matter with choo Josie.” (beat) He would shout at me. “You hide—you think I’m out to get you, but I’m not!” I always knew one day he would come to kill me. He used to make me take an ice bath followed by a scalding hot shower. He said it was healthy for my skin, that it would make me look younger. It was painful. Really, really painful. When I screamed, he laughed and called me names. (beat) I mean, I am not condoning the abuse but, all I could do is love him. I detached from the outcomes and fortunately, I was able to walk away. I was filled with Chevis Regal, but I got away. I made it to the rehab joint. It was there I figured it out. (beat) With a perspective I could recognize it. Love comes from me. It’s my will to love. And it feels good to love. I refused to allow Freddie or anybody turn my love into hate. HIGHER SELF: CORRECT. You now have a total of ten golden points. Winner’s choice. The theatre is now open. JOSIE: So… What do I do now? HIGHER SELF: Go out that door, in the lobby, there are sides. Find something to use for your audition. Pick a monologue and a scene then go into the Bardo Theatre and wait till they call you. BLACKOUT

SCENE 3 TIME: The Future. DAWN. PLACE: The Bardo Theatre


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JOSIE: Freddie? Is that you Freddie? I feel like he’s here. HIGHER SELF: Yes and no, Josie. JOSIE: What? HIGHER SELF: Freddie is here, but he’s no longer the same Freddie that you knew. Do you still want to proceed? JOSIE: Yes. I choose to love him or whoever needs my love, that’s all I know. HIGHER SELF: Good. Now, it’s up to you to create the picture. JOSIE: What do you mean? HIGHER SELF: Well, you are still in a limbo of sorts, this is the Bardo Theatre… Here is where we create our next life. You need to draw on the divine energies from memory and imagination… For you next reality you draw on the past to create the future. Once you script a picture of your next life, you can step into it and play your role. JOSIE: Cool. HIGHER SELF: So how do you picture your next life? (Josie sits under a single spotlight.) JOSIE: Well, I see myself in a rocking chair, holding a little baby. He’s crying. He’s in pain, I think, or maybe just frightened. “Yeah that’s all. Are you scared little fellow? Josie has you now. Don’t be afraid. I am going to adopt him. He was given up anonymously. There are lots of babies here—it’s a hospital for terminally ill children. But still, I can recognize Freddie by his energy. Even though the scene is totally different, I know my Freddie, I love him with all my heart. He may be blind and deaf… But I love him - I will love him forever - unconditionally. I can feel myself loving him just like before. HIGHER SELF: Wonderful, Josie. Congrats, you nailed the character, and landed the role. Set the stage please. Places everyone. Lights up, let the show begin.

BLACKOUT “Josie Divine in the Bardo” was first produced by Liz Amadio’s Cosmic Orchid at the Medicine Show theater in New York in 2019. The second performance was produced by the Broadway Bound Festival on Theatre Row, director, Glenora Blackshire. The original cast included Glenora Blackshire and Beth Griffith. Most recently in 2020, a virtual performance cast included Lani Cerveris Cataldi, David Ogrodowski, and Beth Griffith under the direction of Byron C. Saunders. Music by Joe Izen.


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13 SHORT PLAYS FOR ELIJAH MCCLAIN A play collection by Monica Raymond 13 Short Plays for Elijah McClain was written in response to Erik Ehn's call for plays of under 25 words each for what would've been McClain's 25th birthday, February 25th, 2021. 1. SOMETHING SKETCHY Elijah walking home-"I have the right to do what I am doing." Cop-"I have the right to stop you, you are suspicious."

2.

SHELTER

Cat--That guy who used to play music? Dog--He don't come round no more. Cat--Wonder what he's up to now ... miss him.

3.

SHELTER 2

caged cats caterwaul/ricochet against edges-a skinny black boy in a mask plays a long sad solo cats stretch, purr, and sleep


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4.

TINY RAP

Black boy (not Elijah): boy that wouldn't swat a fly boy that wouldn't trap a rat why you put him down like that?

5.

A naked woman

on a massage table he kneads her "I've had nine spinal surgeries." Elijah: "I don't want to offend you but you're beautiful."

6.

CALL/RESPONSE

Leader: Say his name. All: Elijah McClain! Leader: Say his name. All: Elijah McClain! Leader: Say his name! Elijah's mother: Elijah! Oh, Elijah…


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7.

REMEMBERING

“Chronic pain, suicide pact, whiplash from a drunk driving incident I brought him these and we'd talk chakras god while his hands soothed them”

8.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

all sing Happy birthday to you (2 x) Happy birthday, dear Elijah Happy birthday to you cake with 25 candles bursts into flame keeps burning

9.

COP

“A Black boy does not get to be a saint. His last words-‘I love you, You’re beautiful.’ Come on! We scrub ‘em out.”


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10.

SNACKS

Black boy (not Elijah): Elijah sweet iced tea. Trayvon had skittles. Don't go getting snacks, "snacking while black" Tell your friend "get it yourself"

11.

HEAVEN

From Handel’s Messiah The trumpet shall sound And the dead shall be raised Trumpets sound. Angel arms reach down from heaven welcome Elijah in.

12.

WINE

On Passover we pour a glass of wine for Elijah invisible prophet maybe this year you'll come by, Elijah McClain-do you like wine?


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13.

SOMETHING SKETCHY #2

Elijah in mask and earbuds, dancing. A cop comes by. Elijah grows to an army hundreds of Black boys wearing masks, dancing


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PLAYWRIGHT INTERVIEW: RACHAEL CARNES Conducted and transcribed by Alyssa Cokinis

On a day in December 2020, as the pandemic raged on, I had the opportunity to have a phone chat with playwright Rachael Carnes as she walked her dogs. We spoke of the pandemic, making art during the pandemic, and baking cookies during the pandemic. I’ll let her speak for herself below, but for me it was quite comforting to speak frankly with Rachael about everything she had experienced in the pandemic from early 2020 to December 2020. This type of resonance is needed now more than ever, so we all can begin to work through the mass trauma just by simply living through a global pandemic (and still living through it—it’s not over, people!). For now, take some comfort in Rachael’s experiences writing for the stage, for the Zoom screen, and living life overall. *** AC: So, how are you doing? The big question. RC: I just made cookies – it is a simple, timeless joy: oatmeal chocolate chip candy canes! Sea salt on top! Yum. I have teenagers at home right now—they’re being incredibly strong. I don’t know what to do, so I just make cookies and walk dogs. [My pets] help make me feel grounded and happy. AC: Did you have any live productions cancelled this year? How did it feel when you got the news that they were cancelled? RC: Heading into 2020, I had both big and small productions planned, and some 10-minute play festivals were in the works. Watching all of that first get postponed and then indefinitely and then cancelled or pivoted to online platforms was disheartening, but watching parallel to that— writers who were anticipating the premiere of a full-length play/major production/rolling world premiere, those are all cancelled and cancelling. Anything I was experiencing in terms of loss was minimal to that. The biggest thing looking back on 2020 to let go of was Practice House. The Great Plains Theatre Conference was so exciting. I was on my way back on a bus from Seattle, and I got the email accepting me to Great Plains, which only accepts 20 scripts out of over 900 for full-length, so to get a spot felt like I won the lottery. That was around February. Around March or so, Great Plains said we can’t do the conference in May 2020, so we’d like to bring you back in May 2021.* Back then, it felt like a long way away. But now, as we’re looking at 2021, it’s doubtful whether or not we can get back together and congregate together [in-person] as soon as this May. Staged reading plus a development week plus a chance to mingle with other writers and theatremakers… The unfortunate part is I won’t know what would have happened if I could have gone.


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I was looking forward to a full premiere of my full-length crazy scifi comedy about the end of the world, slated to open at Broadwater Theatre in Hollywood. I loved my director Rebecca Lynn, collaborators on deck, rehearsing, costumes, sets—we had our whole fundraising planned, then would take Fringe by storm, and then it was postponed three times before being cancelled. Rather than slink away from it completely, we’re just going to migrate this to online! For that piece, I’m working with a lot of people based in the industry in LA, and they have TV/film experience, so we just filmed it! Now it’s a series of webisodes. In big ways and in small, it’s been fun to see artists find ways to make those creative turns, so you don’t just sit down and say, “Let’s gather again when this is over” but instead find a way to do it now. I would say that about Great Plains, but what they have done is a tremendous amount of outreach for writers. They’ve invited me to master classes, workshops, panel discussions and have gone out of their way to make the artists who were supposed to go feel welcome. That’s the “Big Midwestern Friendliness” and also genuinely there’s maybe something about the Midwest that is nicer? That sort of Nebraska spirit of “what can we do?” And I got the chance to attend a workshop with Sarah Ruhl. [*Note: Great Plains Theatre Conference did reconvene but virtually for 2021.] AC: What have you been doing this year, both within and outside of the realm of theatre? RC: When everything shut down in March, it was rough watching theatres go dark and productions upended. I remember seeing the usual places where writers might go for opportunities emptying out. Then, after about 3-4 weeks of transition, all of a sudden little lights glimmered. Theatre would say “We’re hosting some short plays written for Zoom, play for virtual? Send it in.” In another few weeks/months, Broadway-name actors, TV and movie actors were all getting involved in Zoom theatre stuff! They all were bored and wanted something to do too! Like everyone else, I started to write plays for Zoom, oftentimes in response for prompts calling for plays. My writing—prior to this pandemic—was a place to explore through humor and drama what we’re experiencing. Some of the plays I’ve created in the last nine months is falling into the absurd, even docudrama (a snapshot of the things that are happening that will never make sense) to crystalize and trap these experiences in amber. My five-minute play called “Soup” was created after seeing a call for plays by We the People (LA), and they were one of the early adopters looking for Zoom plays, just five minutes max. I wrote this back in late March, and it’s a play for two actors, any gender, and the idea is that it’s a couple who are separated, living in separate spaces, and they have to—for safety—live apart because one is essential healthcare provider, and the other is looking after the kids. Now this little play has been performed all over the world! It’s finding footholds in different countries because it taps into universal threat pulling families apart, asking for them to make a sacrifice, whatever puts you on the front line (healthcare or grocers, etc.), and you have to wonder are you putting them at risk just by them doing their job? It resonates. I don’t know where it will be in five years, if it will have any legs beyond now, but I don’t really care. In this moment it’s given


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me the opportunity to work with people, collaborate, find new friendships, colleagues, new community all over the place! That’s just one example. I have 15 Zoom plays doing their Zoomy plays. AC: Do you think some writers feel oppositely about writing Zoom plays? RC: I know plenty of writers who have also said “I’m not doing that.” I’m going to write for the stage and not mess around with Zoom. But for me, the puzzling of it, and the thinking about what could Zoom be is engaging to me creatively, and if I’m thinking about new things, then I can’t be panicked about the state of the world. Using it as a way to keep myself exploring. Some of my Zoom plays take liberty with what Zoom—we’re used to it as boring meeting platform— but I thought what if it’s a portal to communicate across time, to talk to Grandma, to connect with someone who’s passed, people in the afterlife know how to hop on a Zoom meeting, what would they say? I don’t know, it is what it is. I don’t know when we get back into the stage, so I’m just here. I’ve actually been seeing and writing so much Zoom theatre, I felt like I couldn’t write plays for 3-D or longer than 10 minutes. Because we’ve all been in this quarantine for months. A full-length play takes a lot of attention and focus. When the day you’re getting through or the week is so full of puzzles and challenges just to get through it, in all the ways life used to be mundane, like going to the store, becomes this huge production of “I order my groceries and go pick them up.” It’s exhausting and takes all this extra energy. AC: Have you felt any urge to write plays for onstage performance during the pandemic? RC: Actually, I just work started on a full-length last week for the stage. It’s wildly crazy, and it made me feel good. It made me feel like “Okay, I can still see it.” I needed a little kindle of hope. It’s probably a piece of shit, but at least it’s for a theatre! AC: [laughs] I doubt it’s a piece of shit. RC: I don’t know, and I don’t even care! [laughs] It wakes me up in the morning. When I’m working on a project that is longer and in-depth, it helps me get up and write some of it. I’ve just been waking up worried, stressed, thinking about, where’s my next gig coming from. COVID decimated all of my income streams prior to pandemic, so I’m back to the freelance gig economy, which is exhausting! I’m almost 50, impatient, frustrated, and full employment is all gone, so now I’m just wandering, trying to find the next thing. And that just wears you out. The part of me that wanted to write a play just wasn’t there. We’re going to all need some therapy when it [the pandemic] is over. Maybe that’s part of what theatre will be for. Maybe the institutions will shift and change to become more wholesome and inclusive, things they can only do when theatres’ dark. Maybe these places still need more realization. I don’t know. One batch of cookies at a time. AC: My brain short-circuits every day. RC: Okay, 2 o’clock, can’t think anymore. Can’t get my brain to function.


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AC: I definitely feel the same with writing my thesis, some scripts, etc… I sort of let it all go by the wayside during 2020. RC: We can’t do everything and can’t do everything well. I have this project about editing an anthology of plays, I got the submissions—you know what this is like, you’re doing publication. The fun part is working with the writers and artists. The fun part is not formatting! Not pagination. In the midst of all of this, I find myself going, “Where am I at with that project?” I finally got it done by middle of December. I had a lot of help and support, but I was still doing something very new to me. During a pandemic, anything that is new is hard. AC: Tell me more about that anthology of plays! RC: Yeah! So we had a call for plays, and the response was really fun. We got submissions in as far away as Russia, Guam, Australia, etc. Then I had a reading committee that volunteered, and they amassed a collection of their favorite weird-ass plays. The stipulation was that they were all produced in 2019. They had a track record of production. Real playwright luminaries. It’s been a cool collaboration! I’ve approached the whole process in a pretty collective way. Anytime in a juncture where I don’t know what to do, I put it to the group. I’m not a publisher, so I didn’t really have a plan going in. I put the cart before the horse, calling for plays without having a plan for the book itself. Even with that and shifts for pandemic, it still came together. It’s fun work, and I’m pretty proud of what we put together! Not really anything quite like it out there. I’m motivated because I often sent my work in for those more standard “best 10-minute play” books, but they’re more standard. You’re normally not going to read a play about a talking vagina. AC: [laughs] I love it. RC: [laughs] Yeah, or a two-timing loaf of bread, we need weird. And we had no idea how weird 2020 would be, so the longer the year has gone on, the less weird our plays seem. It’s been a lot of fun. I would definitely do it again, now that I know what I’m getting into. Being an editor gives you the opportunity to shine a light on other writers, get to know them as colleagues and friends. I’ve learned a lot, and it’s been fun. So when I get a chance to travel again in the cities where any of these people are, it’ll be nice to have coffee and connect. To have made something together. Having work submitted and placed feels validating. There is literary strength but often rejection from production opportunities that ask, “How would I ever stage this weird play?!” But it looks good on the page as piece of literary contribution and merit. It’s neat to have that avenue. *** You can purchase Rachael Carnes’ curated anthology The Weirdest Plays of 2020 on Amazon, featuring amazing playwrights writing weird (and awesome) plays. Visit her website rachaelcarnes.com to learn more about her and her plays!


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Contributor Bios

continued →

Lavanya Chakradhara (“The Harlem I Know”) is a freelance writer based in New York. Writing and speaking remain close to her heart and so do causes like women empowerment, leadership and diversity. As a panelist and writer of several books on these topics, she believes in walking the talk. Isabelle Chirls (“Pre-Mortem”) is a writer from New Jersey studying English and Theater at Wesleyan University. Her work usually takes shape in the form of prose or plays, which often focus on themes of creation and fulfillment. Zachariah Ezer (Blaxploitation) is an M.F.A. Playwriting Candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a UT Michener Fellow for the class of 2023, a 2020 Town Stages Sokoloff Creative Arts Fellow, a 2018 BUFU EYEDREAM Resident, a 2015 Wesleyan University Olin Fellow, and a member of The Tank’s LIT Council. He is also a dramaturg (for The National Black Theatre, Merde, foolsFURY, and The Workshop Theater, where he is currently in residence), an essayist (published by Gizmodo/io9, HuffPost, Bubbleblabber, and elsewhere), and a performer (in alternative rock band Harper’s Landing). Louis Fantasia (“World Class”) has directed nearly 200 plays, musicals, and operas world-wide, and was the first American to direct on the reconstructed London Globe stage in 1996. His books include Instant Shakespeare; Tragedy in the Age of Oprah; and Talking Shakespeare: Notes from a Journey. Louis has served on panels on education and cross-cultural development at both the Beijing and Shanghai Film Festivals, and has lectured and given workshops at the Beijing Film Academy and the Shanghai Theatre Academy, as well as the New York Film Academy, where he was Dean of the Faculty. In 2003, the Council of Europe named the theatre collection at its library in the European Parliament in honor of Louis Fantasia, who holds both U.S. and European Union passports. In 2016 he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to German culture and theatre. Dreams from a Sleep to Come is his first play. Michael Galligan (“F***boi Healing Circle”) is a playwright, actor, and teaching artist based in Brooklyn and the Adirondacks. Michael's work has been developed and performed at Irondale Center, The Deep End, 59E59 Theater, the Upper Jay Art Center, The Hollows, and ZOO at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His first play, Solarplexus, an eco-cyberpunk sci-fi comedy utilizing a self-powering bicycle generator, made its international debut to positive critical reception (“...of considerable wit and guile,” said The List in a four-star review) at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2018. His work draws on elements of clown, Bouffon, commedia d’ellarte, and LeCoq mask; combining them with a focus on ensemble development to create dynamic and highly collaborative movement-based pieces. Elizabeth Gjelten (“Big Breath”) is a playwright, poet, teacher, and community arts worker. Her full-length plays include “Hunter’s Point” (at the St. Boniface Church Theater; developed at the Bay Area Playwrights Festival), “What the Birds Carry” (at the Pear Avenue Theater and the Mae West Fest), and “Dance Lessons” (at Venue 9 and the Working Women Festival). Several of her short plays and solo pieces have also been performed around the Bay Area and nationally, including “Big Breath,” which was presented in Alleyway Theatre’s Digital Theatre Festival in November 2020. As part of her civic


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engagement work, Elizabeth was an Artist Investigator with Triangle Lab/California Shakespeare Theatre and the lead artist in “Home/Cooking,” a community-based storytelling project with formerly homeless women. A winner of Theatre Bay Area’s TITAN Award, she received the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Honorary Fellowship at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program in 2014. She has an MFA in Playwriting from SFSU; has trained with Cornerstone Theatre Company and the Center for Performance and Civic Practice; has taught at New College of California, San Francisco State University, and JFK University; and was a longtime student in poetics with Diane di Prima. William Harper (“IS”) is a writer from Glasgow, living in London. He has published short stories in The Galway Review, Swimmers Club at Dostoevsky Wannabe independent press, and poetry in Amaryllis, Ink, Sweat and Tears & Art and Letters. Jen Huszcza (“The Burger King”) is a female playwright based in Los Angeles. Her work has been produced in California, Arizona, and Texas. “The Burger King” was performed online as part of a We The People Theatrical Action during the pandemic in 2020. Twitter: @playwrightjen Coni Koepfinger (“Josie Divine in the Bardo”), a 2021 recipient of the Olwen Wymark Award by the Writer's Guild of Great Britain, is currently playwrightin-residence at both Manhattan Rep and Cosmic Orchid and has worked with several other notable NYC companies such as Theatre for the New City, The Secret Theatre, the New York Unfringed Fest, Broadway Bound Festival and Pan Asian Rep. She has connected hundreds through her virtual programs Airplay and Determined Women. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, a former board member of the International Centre for Women Playwrights (ICWP) and a chair for the League Professional Theatre Women (LPTW) and currently sits as Media Advisory Board of the Lifeboat Foundation. As a very prolific indie artist, Coni’s work has been published and produced all over the globe. Michelle Kuchuk (“The Moochers”) is an NYC-based playwright, director, and performer. As a playwright, Michelle has written original plays for Daytime Moon Creations, a nonprofit that brings theatre to individuals with special needs. Her play, This Is Why, had its AEA Showcase NYC premiere in 2018; This Is Why was then produced by Isle of Shoals Productions in 2020 as part of the Lance Series (in which only five plays were selected to be a part). Directing and assistant directing credits include Beautiful Thing with Nicu’s Spoon Theater and Sons of the Prophet, by Stephen Karam, with Roundabout. Recent performing credits include Marcia in Our Lady of 121st Street and Varya in The Cherry Orchard. Michelle also works in suicide prevention, mental health, and behavioral finance. Vladan Kuzmanović (Excerpt of 50 Conceptual Pieces) (Belgrade, 1977) conceptual multimedia artist with pioneer research in fields of exoacoustic and macrotonal music. Choreograph and playwright, founder of Neoconceptualism and New Conceptual Art Theatre. ember of Experimental Sound Society EXSOSO, Experimental Music Society EMS ACA and IEMA. John Ladd (“Intestate: A COVID-19 Monologue”) is currently living in a small town in upstate New York where he is working on a number of projects. Prior to this, he lived in Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina before moving to


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New York City where he spent a considerable amount of time writing and having his plays produced at Off-Off Broadway- and other NYC- venues. When he is not writing, he farms, part-time, with his coonhound buddy, Roma. His pieces have been produced at No Frills Theater Collective, Manhattan Repertory Theatre, The Short Play Lab, NYC Equity Library/Piney Fork Press Theater, ActSense Theatre Company, and the Bad Theater Festival among other venues. Also, John Ladd has had “An Afternoon of John Ladd Plays” (9) produced at the Piney Fork Press Theater in Manhattan. Finally, John Ladd has been a Resident Playwright at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre. Donna Latham (“Lunch Lady”) is an award-winning playwright based in Houston. Her plays have been produced coast to coast in the US and in Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, France, Scotland, and Indonesia; and published in 2016’s Best Ten-Minute Plays and She Persisted: New Plays By Women Over 40, 2021. A resident playwright at Rising Sun Performance Company in NYC, a member of Honor Roll Playwrights, and a script reader for Houston’s Alley Theatre, Donna’s a proud member of the Dramatist Guild. Aaron Leventman (“The Boy”) attended Columbia University’s Graduate School for film, where his thesis screenplay was given a professional reading at the Union Square Theatre in Manhattan. He moved to Santa Fe from Provincetown after his involvement as a writer/director/actor with the Provincetown Theatre Company. When living in Santa Fe, he performed with most of the local theatre companies in both classics and original plays. He’s also appeared in industrials, commercials, short films, and features and is currently represented by Phirgun Mair Worldwide in New Mexico. He was proud to have been recently chosen as a fan guest host on Turner Classic Movies. Aaron has enjoyed over 30 productions of his plays all over the country, many of which are published and available on Amazon.com. He co-produced an evening of his own short works that met with tremendous acclaim including the Mayor declaring LGBT Theatre Day in Santa Fe on opening night for the first time in the city’s history. He was the producer of a monthly online LGBTQ+ short play series through his company Almost Adults Productions which has been bringing together talent and audiences from all over the world. Aaron is also a playwriting, screenwriting, acting, and film history instructor. https://aaronleventman.com John Paul Mandryk (The Sword of Kenau): I am a 71-year-old, married, father of four, grandfather of five After a thirty-five-year professional life of data and numbers, dollars, and cents, I am rediscovering my love of the written word. I have an undergraduate degree in English which was held captive all those years by life’s supposed urgencies. Now in the years of my last chapters, I wish to disguise my life’s lessons in the performance of words, characters, and actions. In pursuing my advocation to build a traditional Dutch ice yacht, I learned about humankind’s struggle during Europe’s little ice age and the concurrent movements for religious and personal freedom. These are woven into the background and themes of my work. Saeb Mir (“The 40th Man or the 28th Woman”): I am Saeb Mir. Born on October 23, 1991. Iran. I entered the theater at the age of fifteen. I first appeared as an actor and almost 15 years ago I was looking for other Desire in myself. I tried to create and write different theaters around me. With my first


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theater piece (2015), I won the award for best director of the Iranian Short Theater Festival. I have written fifteen plays, six of which I have directed. The theater piece you are reading is my first theater to be accepted at international theater festivals in Russia, India, Ukraine, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Germany and Iran. I won the Best Theater Award on November 2019 at the St. Petersburg Theater Festival in Russia for avant-garde theaters. I also wrote my latest play as a theatrical dance, which participated in the American Open Dance Festival and the St. Petersburg Dance line Festival, and won the Best Dance Award from the viewers' point of view. An artist works for his soul. It does not matter what he has done so far, what matters is what he will produce from now on. For his soul. Jessica Durdock Moreno (“Funeral”) is currently an MFA candidate in the Department of Dramatic Writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her first play “To Richard!” premiered at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival, where it won the Encore Producers Award and was nominated for the Inkwell Theater Playwright’s Promise Award. She began her writing training at Los Angeles City College, where she won the 2019 Cinema and Television Department’s Best Screenplay Award for her television pilot “Filly.” She was selected as a finalist for the Theater Masters Take Ten 2020 Festival for her play “Shooting Stars,” and as a semifinalist for the Athena Project’s 2020 Plays in Progress Series for her play “Georgie D.” She recently participated in the Workshop Theater Fall 2020 Playwriting Intensive, also with “Georgie D.” In 2021, she will participate in the Full Circle Theatre Collaborative’s New Works Festival with her plays “Shooting Stars” and “Funeral.” She won the Most Unleashed Performance Award at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, the Outstanding Theatre Performance Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and was nominated for a Stage Scene LA Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Lead Actress in a Comedy. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University with a B.A. in Socio-Cultural Anthropology (focus on North American Settler Colonialism). Jessica studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and classical ballet and Swedish in Stockholm. She grew up in New Milford, Connecticut, where she danced professionally as a teen with BLUDance Theatre and as a guest artist with Pilobolus. Jennifer O'Grady (“Closet Cat”) is a playwright and poet whose plays have been produced across the U.S. and internationally. Her plays include Charlotte’s Letters (2020 Rising Artists Award; Henley Rose Award; NEWvember Festival Dublin; O'Neill Semifinalist and other honors); Juggling with Mr. Fields (2020 Southwest Theatre Productions Finalist); Paranormal Love (MTWorks Newborn Winner; NEWvember Finalist; 2019 Pandora's Box Honorable Mention, 2020 Southwest Theater Productions Semifinalist); and Ellery (included in The Best Women's Stage Monologues and a 2019 Bechdel Group selection). Her plays are published or forthcoming in The Best 10Minute Plays 2021, The Best New Ten-Minute Plays 2021 and 2019, The Bet TenMinute Plays 2017 and 2016, Best Contemporary Monologues for Women and other anthologies. She is also the author of the poetry books White (Mid-List First Series Award for Poetry) and Exclusions & Limitations (MadHat Press). Her poems are published and reprinted in numerous places including Harper’s, The New Republic. Poetry, The Writer’s Almanac, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and


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American Poetry: The Next Generation. Education: MFA in Poetry, Columbia University; AB, Vassar. (www.jenniferogrady.net) Lindsay Partain (“The Lipstick”) is an internationally published and produced Oregon playwright and member of the Dramatists Guild. She holds her BA in Theatre from Pacific University and is a resident artist of Theatre Viscera. Her play “Sabrina and the Thunderbird” was a finalist for the 2020 Annual Parity Commission and the 2019 Portland Civic Theatre's New Play Award. Recent publications include: “Siren Songs” (Next Stage Press); “Best New 10Minute Plays of 2020”, “Best New Men's” & “Women’s Monologues from New Plays, 2020” (Applause); and “Best Men's Monologues of 2021” (Smith and Kraus). Lindsay’s work can be found on New Play Exchange. Javin Pombra (“The Recommendation”): Hello! My name is Javin and I’m a current third-year at Harvard University. I’m a South Asian male originally from the San Francisco Bay Area in California. My hobbies include running, finding cool coffee shops, movies, and escape rooms. My favorite plays are Robert O’Hara’s Barbecue, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and Suzan-Lori Park’s Topdog/Underdog. I am passionate about plays that cover BIPOC experiences, technological ethical challenges of the twenty-first century, and two-person dramatic dialogue. In this short ten-minute piece, I aim to reflect on challenges caused by modern recommendation systems in the digital age. Not only has social media and virtual consumption increased during this COVID-19 outbreak, the intense reliance on recommendation systems can be considered an outbreak in itself. Monica Raymond (“13 Short Plays for Elijah McClain”) writes poetry, prose, plays and lyrics from a big old house in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She's held fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Jerome Foundation (at the Playwrights' Center), and the MacDowell Colony. Raymond taught writing and interdisciplinary arts at Harvard, CUNY, and the Boston Museum School. 13 Short Plays for Elijah McClain was written in response to Erik Ehn's call for plays of under 25 words each for what would've been McClain's 25th birthday, February 25th, 2021. Lavinia Roberts (“The Birds Are Watching Us”) is an award-winning playwright and educator. She is published with Applause Books, Big Dog Plays, Brooklyn Publishers, Eldridge Publishing, Heuer Publishing, Plays: The Drama Magazine for Young People, Pioneer Drama, Redleaf Press, Smith and Kraus, and others. She has received productions in all 50 states and internationally in Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, and The United Kingdom. Dane Rooney (“Faustus and the Soliloquy”) (any pronouns) is a playwright, director, and teacher originally from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, and now resides in New York City. Playwright: Anonymous Recipes (Winner of Best Play in the Woodside Players 2020 Summer Festival, NYC, Babe, We’re Late to the Fucking World Premiere of Beethoven’s Seventh (28 Plays Later Reading Series, London), No Place (Alvina Krause Theatre, Pennsylvania), Craven (The Drama Book Shop, NYC), The Groomsman and A One-Man Show (with Another Character… and a Cat in Drag) (Maslow Reading Series at Wilkes University). Faustus & the Soliloquy was selected for the Queens Library 2020 Summer Festival, NYC.


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Other notable productions: Third Rail Project’s Ghostlight and Halloween Met Gala (immersive ensemble), John Cheever’s The Country Husband and Inspector Descending (director/AD, The Secret Theatre, NYC). Dane also directed and choreographed plays and musicals at Shenandoah Valley High School for eight years, including West Side Story, Chicago, The Producers, and Monty Python’s Spamalot. MFA in Playwriting from Wilkes University of Pennsylvania. Marina Koestler Ruben (“Outbreak/Breakout”)is a writer, editor, and educator who lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, three children, and two cats. Rich Rubin’s (“What We Did in Quarantine”) plays have been produced throughout the U.S., as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. Full-length plays include PICASSO IN PARIS (winner, 2020 Julie Harris Playwright Award) and KAFKA’S JOKE (finalist, 2020 Woodward International Playwriting Prize). Juliette Sigmond (Kind to the Dead) is a writer and graduate of the University of Iowa. She now lives with her family in Chicago, where she loves reading things that chill the spine and writing things that warm the heart. Kind to the Dead is her first published screenplay. Bryan Starchman (“The Canaries”) is an author, published playwright, and public school teacher living in San Francisco, California. His short fiction was recently featured in The Saturday Evening Post, After Dinner Conversation, and the literary magazine In Parentheses. His non-fiction essays have been featured in the national print magazine ROVA and his latest book, United Scenes of America: Travel Essays in the time of COVID-19 and other wanderings, is now available at Amazon.com. Learn more about Bryan at www.bryanstarchman.com, or follow him on Instagram @bryan.starchman. Elijah Vazquez (“Exhibit 2020: The Truth Hurts, Doesn’t It?”) is an Orlando based playwright who graduated from Niagara University with a B.F.A in Theatre Performance. Some previous experience with playwriting includes several readings, publications, productions and completing an advanced playwriting independent study course focused on the dramatic form, the Theatre of the Absurd. He has taken many philosophy classes that influenced his writing as well, along with a theatre criticism classes which he analyzed and commented on many theoretical manifestos from Brecht to Grotowowki to Hugo to Esslin, which helped shape his thoughts about the essence of theatre and the manner on how to construct plays. All he wants is to provide glimmers of hope, wherever it may be. Rafael Duarte Oliveira Venancio (“Zoom is not spontaneous: a psychodramatic approach to virtual theater”) is a Brazilian writer, playwright, university professor, journalist, cartoonist and filmmaker. He was a Postdoctoral fellow and holds a PhD in Audiovisual Media and Process (Meios e Processos Audiovisuais), both at Escola de Comunicações e Artes da Universidade de São Paulo (ECA/USP). He has several books published as an independent author and by traditional publishers in four languages. He has plays produced in three countries and in three languages. His most frequent themes are historical fiction and reimaginations, metadramaturgy, sports drama, and philosophical storytelling.


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Julie Weinberg’s (“Buttercup’s Lament) Bad Daughter received The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwriting. Face It, a full-length comedy, was featured in the 2019 Actors Studio New Works Festival. Julie’s short pandemic dramedy, Buttercup’s Lament, has been in two recent reading series part of the Quarantine Series/Dallas and in Open Eye Theater’s short play series. Among Julie’s award-winning one act comedies are The Eleven O’clock Number, The Teller’s Tale and Fault. You’re Not the Type, commissioned by the Edna Ferber Estate, was part of Five by Ferber produced by NJ Rep in 2018, published by Smith & Kraus. Is It Cold in Here? won Arizona’s Bechdel 2.0 Short Play Prize and will be published by Applause in 2021. Pet Peeves, an evening of short comedies, mostly about cats, had a reading at the Workshop Theater last spring. Julie has been produced by ATHE, The Warner Theater Festival, Ramapo College, Brooklyn’s Gallery Players among others. A founding member of the 9th Floor, a Playwright/Actor Collaborative, proud member of Dramatists Guild, graduate of Lesley University’s MFA Program in Writing for Stage and Screen. www.Julieweinbergplaywright.com


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Acknowledgments Zephin Livingston for his assistance in choosing submissions! Keegan Gormally for his endless support for some scripts. The contributors for this issue: thank you so, so much for your willingness to be a part of this still-new magazine (yes, still new even four issues in) as well as trusting us with your pieces: we found each of them to be incredible. And there are SO MANY of them to boot! Those who submitted for this issue: thank you for trusting us to read your pieces. This is the most submissions, as well as the most submissions from different areas of the world, we’ve ever received! So much so that we didn’t know what to do with all of them, and it set back our response time/publication schedule. Two people working through 150ish submissions is no joke. We hope you will submit again because we were very impressed by the amount of talent sent our way. And to you, if you’ve read this far: thank you so much for your support of some scripts literary magazine.

SUPPORT US WITH A DONATION! We are 100% volunteer-run, and all costs for running the magazine come out of the editor-in-chief’s own pocket. One day, we would also love to be able to pay contributors and the reading team for their work, and we have several in-print publication ideas too. Until then, we rely on your kind support! Please consider donating to our PayPal or our Ko-Fi if you enjoyed this issue and would like to become a some scripts supporter.

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some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: Outbreak  

some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: "Outbreak" features work by Rafael Duarte Oliveira Venancio, Michael Galligan, Donna Latham, Lindsay...

some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: Outbreak  

some scripts literary magazine Issue 4: "Outbreak" features work by Rafael Duarte Oliveira Venancio, Michael Galligan, Donna Latham, Lindsay...

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