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Viewing Blog: A. PLAYWRIGHT'S RAMBLINGS, Most Recent at Top
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The exhilaration, exultation, expectations and experiences of writing plays and getting a play produced or noticed.
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1. It's new dawn...a new day... and a somewhat new re-writing of the play

It's been an on-off situation but there has been some advancement in re-writing "Old Soldiers." The characters, first introduced in a short story a while ago, caught my imagination and over the years the quartet of senior service veterans have participated in many theatrical scenarios. However - it's always the 'howevers' in life that get you - somehow there has been a lack of direction as to how their story should play out.

The necessity or impetus for turning it into a play was to enter it the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition a few years ago. The undertaking was made even more challenging since the medium of radio requires sound effects to accompany the dialogue, in place of visual movement. It was a challenge and in spite of a successful conversion, the play didn't win or receive recognition. Still, when it's all said and done or written, it was an interesting pursuit but probably something I will pass on in the future.

My philosophy in as far as rejections are concerned is to moan/groan and agonize the reason for them not recognizing genius when they read it, following which to forget about it for a while. This allows time for introspection and objectivity upon re-reading the play in preparation for the editing process.

To this end, some decisions have or are in the process of being made as to the story line. In the original version submitted to the BBC competition, there were physical transitions to various locales, which were plausible given the medium, whereas the story now takes place in one place being the pub or bar for the entire play.

- in the initial short story,  the main character, Joe McKenna had a dog, which has been added in the updated version - so far. The rationale behind including a dog is that as a lonely, elderly and cantankerous service veteran, the dog would be his reason for his existence.
- although most of the original characters remain, a few newcomers are joining the quartet: a food/drink inspector who comes to do a regular inspection of the bar premises, a small group of young punks who take an dislike to the old soldiers, especially Joe

Here is an abbreviated version of the synopsis, which supplies some background on the characters:

"As an ex-army man and soldier, eighty-eight year old Joe McKenna is a man of habit. A widower, he lives in a small apartment with his only companion, a 12 year old dog, Daisy. The aging process is taking its toll physically and emotionally, turning him into a bitter man full of resentment towards society and what he perceives to be life’s injustices. He is a lonely soul with too much time to think about the past and knowing that the future will leave him dependent on the kindness of others.

 His main interaction with the outside world is a timeworn friendship with a group of army veterans in the same situation, who cling to each other for support and companionship.

Every year since the end of the war, Joe and his group of army pals gather together in a local bar/pub to mark Remembrance Day and to attend memorial services held in the park. Conversation focuses predominantly on their various physical ailments and debilitations and what they perceive to be a lack of support by the veterans administration. They are relics of another time who regard death as their only escape from pain."
 
We'll see which direction the story line takes, which always makes the trip more interesting.
 

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2. OLD SOLDIERS - an excerpt of updated version

As shared in this blog many times before, this started out as a short story, which touched something deep in my writer's soul for lack of a better way to describe it. Over the years...many years and many re-writes, it evolved into a radio play that was entered and subsequently didn't win or even place, in the BBC International Playwriting competition and then back to a play. In spite of many attempts at 'putting it to bed' permanently, somehow, it always calls me back. Maybe there's a message there or perhaps merely wishful thinking on my part. It's still a work in progress.

Be that as it may...here is the latest edit . Changed the venue of the story to one place and gave Joe McKenna a dog. Characters are basically the same but adding a few more as the story develops.  Note that there is more spacing than normal to make reading easier.

In the way of background information, Joe McKenna is a crusty, old curmudgeon who lives with and for his dog, Daisy. A few times per week, he and his army buddies drop by the local bar to talk about old times, re-live past glories and complain about their aches and pains.



OLD SOLDIERS

 

THE TIME:

 
THE PRESENT. AUTUMN. EARLY MORNING.


SETTING:

 
A PUB/BAR.

 
AT RISE:

 
VETERAN JOE MCKENNA, DRESSED IN FULL SERVICE UNIFORM, SITS AT A TABLE READING A NEWSPAPER, WHILE WAITING FOR HIS BUDDIES TO ARRIVE. A WHITE DOG LAYS ON THE FLOOR BY HIS FEET. BACKGROUND MUSIC SUPPLIED BY AN OLD JUKE BOX


JOE

(to himself)

Yup…yup…yup… The way things are goin’, won’t be long before we’re all gone. Poor old, Perce. Died alone without anyone there to see him on his way to the big battlefield in the sky. ‘Here’s to you, Perce! You’ll be missed for sure!’


                                    Lifts glass in the air and lowers it

 
‘Refill, Vince.’


                                    JOE’S FRIEND, MIKE, DRESSED IN UNIFORM
                                    COMPLETE WITH STRIPES AND MEDAL, JOINS HIM
                                    AT THE TABLE

 
MIKE

Freezing out there. Wind cuts like a knife. See you got a head start. Buying a round?


JOE

You just got here and already trying to mooch a free drink?

 

MIKE

When it comes to mooching, bud, you got that covered and then some. When’s the last time you paid?


JOE

(pretends to take out imaginary book)

Let me check my diary here…last Wednesday, three in the afternoon. You buying or not?
 

MIKE

Not

JOE

You are a cheap bastard! I’m stuck with the bill, again. ‘Vince – two whiskeys’  


MIKE
       -  Joe here is paying by the way -

 

JOE

Whatever. See you’re in full regalia.

 
MIKE

If not today, when? Take it out once a year. Pee-ew! What’s that stink coming from your direction

 
JOE

Throw in a dozen or so moth balls when I store the uniform

 
MIKE

At least put it out to air a couple days before you wear it. Really reeks


                                    VINCE, the bartender, brings over drinks

 
VINCE

One of you guys forget to wash?

 
MIKE

Joe here uses moth balls for his uniform

 
JOE

So what. Why should I share it with moths

 
VINCE

No insult intended but you’re smelling up my bar. Wouldn’t hurt to go out and air yourself out a bit. You paying, Joe?


JOE

Put it on my tab. The man’s as cheap as they come. You’d think for a special occasion he’d spring for a round but that would be asking too much for his old friend

 VINCE

Nice if one of you would pay cash for a change. Your tab, Joe, goes back a year. Let’s see…you owe me $1500.34. I’m feeling generous today so drop the thirty-four cents and make an even $1500

JOE

You’re all heart. Where d’ya expect me to find that kind of money on my service pension?


VINCE

At least give me something. Anything! I have bills to pay, too, y’know

 
JOE

Next check. I’ll give you a couple of bucks towards it. May have to give up some food items and my dog here will have to get used to eating just a few days a week…

 
VINCE

Why don’t you lay on the guilt a bit more. Listen…about your Daisy…You know I’ve never objected to you bringing her here. I like her a lot but like I told you, dogs aren’t allowed in bars. I’ve closed my eyes up until now but there’s a new inspector and word has it that he goes by the letter of the law

 
JOE

She’s a service dog. Aren’t you girl?

                                    Daisy picks up her head responding to hearing her name


She goes where I go. Calms my nerves and watches out for me

 
MIKE

How old is she, anyway? Getting’ on in years

 
JOE

What’s the difference? She’s there when I need her

 
VINCE

She better be legally registered when or if the inspector comes ‘round

 
JOE

Don’t worry ‘bout my Daisy. I’ll just explain there’s extenuating circumstances

 
VINCE

Don’t say I didn’t warn you

 
JOE

Mac’s supposed to meet us here

 
MIKE

Seriously? The man doesn’t drive and uses a walker. How’s he getting here?


JOE

He wants to join us for Percy’s funeral

 
MIKE

Amazing. Never lets his condition stop him from doing anything. Sometimes I wonder how he gets around but he does. Mind over matter I guess. It’s either that or give up and die. Mind you, sometimes when pain takes over, it don’t seem like such a bad idea


JOE

He just walked in. Poor guy can hardly move. ‘Over here, Mac!’

 
MIKE

None of us are peppy anymore, in case you hadn’t noticed. My glass is empty by the way

 
JOE

Yeah and? I bought last time

 
MIKE

So what. You owed me from all the rounds I bought before


JOE

It’s your turn, el cheapo!

 
MAC

(gasping to catch his breath)

Really…windy… out… there – and cold. Hope the wind… dies…down… for later. Hard to get around in this kind of weather, ‘specially with a walker. What times the funeral, anyway?

 
MIKE

You really planning to attend, Mac? Not trying to discourage you or anything but it’ll be hard pushing your walker on grass and that wind…

 
MAC

I’ll manage. Old Percy was one of the last few members of our group. He deserves our respect and he’d do the same for any of us. Can’t believe he’s gone… Really cold out


JOE

You look like an ice cube and your hands turned blue. Why didn’t you wear gloves? How’d you get here, anyway?

 
MAC

By bus. Took me forty-five minutes if you don’t count standing at the bus stop waiting for twenty minutes. Damn busses never stick to their schedule

 
JOE

What’s in the package?

 
MAC

Got a treat for Daisy


                                    MAC takes a bone out of a bag

 

(cont’d. MAC) Found it in the trash in back of the supermarket on the way here. Look at it – a perfectly good bone with lots of meat. Probably even good enough for us to eat. You should see all the food they toss out there. Fruit and veggies with a couple of bruises and piles of bread. Cakes too!


                                    DAISY struggles to get up as MAC gives her the bone

 
MIKE

The dog eats better than we do. You…you don’t take things from the trash…do you?

 
MAC

I personally don’t but what if I did? There are people in third world countries that wouldn’t think twice about eating it. ‘There you go Daisy. A perfectly good bone for you. Enjoy. ’Ouch…trouble standing up…back is out again. Stupid bus trip didn’t help none


JOE

Why didn’t you take a cab?


MAC

You hav’ta be kidding. Like I can afford a taxi? I’m here now so stop jabbering and order me something warm. No – make that hot. Gonna be freezing at the cemetery for sure. Not too many people will show up ‘specially at our age

 
MIKE

There ain’t that many at our age, left. We don’t get to choose the kind of weather t’get buried. Funeral’s called for noon

 
JOE

What’s your pleasure, Mac? I’m paying


MIKE

You’re buying hima drink? What about me?


JOE

He just arrived. The man needs to warm up and besides, he brought Daisy a bone. Anyone who thinks about my Daisy’s needs deserves a drink on the house

 
MIKE

Remember I’m your old army pal who stayed with you in thick and thin?

 
JOE

I paid you back a long time ago. What’s your poison, Mac? Whiskey like always?

 
MAC

Neh. Hot coffee will do me fine


JOE

With a shot of whiskey t’give it flavor, right?

 
MAC

Plain, old hot coffee with milk and sugar

 
JOE

Straight coffee?  That’s it?


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3. Zoo Diary: the show must go on, somehow

ZOO DIARY
 

SCENE: A small zoo. Zebra, Christmas show director/producer/mentor to the lesser talented, is preparing the zoo denizens to put on their annual Christmas performance

AT RISE: Some of the performers are chatting amongst themselves while others work closely, in some cases too closely, going over lines

ZEBRA
(checking list)
...sleigh...bag of toys...jingle bells...  What's missing? Hello? Where are the reindeer?

REINDEER RANDY
(munching on moss)
I'm here, Zee (burps) There - better

ZEBRA
Did your mother not teach you it's uncouth to burp out loud, not to mention very impolite and boorish

REINDEER RANDY
Maybe she did if I knew what those words meant

ZEBRA
Why...why do I agree to do this every year?

(ZEBRA stares at himself in the mirror) 'You do it for the sake of the theatre, you talented, handsome beast...'

(cont'd.) Where, pray tell, are the others, he asks, afraid of what he'll be told

REINDEER RANDY
They're back in the barn, playing poker.

ZEBRA
(jumps back)
Say what? The show is about to begin and they're gambling?

REINDER RANDY
They're playing for some green

ZEBRA
Stop them immediately! The last thing we need is for the zoo to be raided!

(staring at himself in the mirror)' It just never ends, does it, gorgeous beast!'

REINDEER RANDY
Not to worry. There's only moss in the pot. Want me to go get them?

ZEBRA
Why must I suffer the humiliation of amatoor performers? Why?

REINDEER RANDY
Because nobody else will do it?

ZEBRA
(pacing)
Tell them to take their places in front of the sleigh, immediately. I'm a professional... I have a reputation to retain... they need me... without my presence there is no show. Go and bring them here posthaste - that means fast for your edification

(ZEBRA stares at himself in full-length mirror. Places a cloth on his forehead)

(cont'd.) I feel a mee-graine coming on...must control myself
(cont'd.)'My but those stripes are stunning! I would fall in love with you if I hadn't already!' 

(loud squawking can be heard)

(cont'd. ZEBRA) My head...the noise...Is there no peace for moi? (staring at himself in the mirror) 'What did I do to deserve to be put in charge of these...these maladroit soubrettes? Still, the show must go on. I am a professional. Hmmmm - my stripes do give my very well proportioned body a certain je ne said quoi...What are you doing after the show, handsome...

RAT
Excuse me Zeb...but there's a problem

ZEBRA
...those dark enquiring eyes...those long lashes... Rat! Why are here? You're in the opening scene

RAT
Figured you'd want to know -

ZEBRA
- we can't afford any more delays. My mee-grain is definitely getting worse so break it to me in gentle hints

RAT
Well...it has to do with Santa....

ZEBRA
- are my eyes bloodshot? There's nothing worse than a zebra with red eyes. People will think I've taken to drink, although I wouldn't blame myself. Is it the costume thing, again? I mean, really, the chicken is quite vain. She assured me she could handle the role. Nobody will even realize that the jacket won't close...just tell her to hold her mitts in front...

RAT
...and one of the actors

ZEBRA
I sent her to a quiet place to go over her lines with the acting coach, although why the necessity is beyond me. I mean, really, "Ho-ho-ho. I think I hear Santa" Nevertheless - where is she? Thespian chickens tend to be peckish. I'll have to give her a pep talk

RAT
Well that's just it...

ZEBRA
What's it? Stop speaking in riddles and go get her

RAT
Seems somebody offered to give her private coaching in his den

ZEBRA
That can't be a bad thing. Wait a minute - did you say 'den'? That Cheetah! I should have known better! Last year it was Mr. Squeeze who got up close and personal with the squirrel and now this. I need some of my special tonic to help assuage my nerves.

RAT
Perhaps that's not such a great idea, Zeb. Remember what happened last year

ZEBRA
They don't pay me enough greens to direct this Christmas show. Must calm down. Is it...

RAT
(holding up feathers)
...too late

ZEBRA
No! This can't be happening! There's no time for a replacement so I, myself, will be forced to don the red costume, even though it clashes with my stripes and does absolutely nothing for my skin. The show must go on. But first, a dose of tonic....maybe two doses...down the hatch. "Places everyone! Curtain up!"

NEXT:
IT'S SHOW TIME, IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

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4. Decisions...decisions...and hope for a brighter future

Once again as has been the case on too many occasions, a rejection slip slipped in my email 'in' box. Somehow, in spite of nice, genteel words of apology by the theatre or whoever is in charge of the rejection notices, it doesn't get easier.

Really, given my former position as a freelance newspaper columnist/writer for many years, rejection slips aren't an unusual occurrence, but receiving playwriting-related rejections is a downer.

This time the recipient of the rebuff was one of my favorite short plays, "The Lemon." A short comedy, it focuses on the trials and tribulations of a woman attempting to contact a towing company in order to get her car removed, while trying to convince a public phone user to make the call.  In spite of the usual assurances that the theatre will keep the play for possible future use, it was a disheartening notice. Dejection, as any writer will attest, never gets easier.

Looking back, none of my plays have yet to be produced in spite of witty dialogue, interesting plots and good spelling and punctuation. Look - gotta look for positive points where I can find them! Had high hopes for "The Shrubs", which didn't materialize and my short plays came back home without a successful showing.

Today while skimming through potential submission opportunities, came across a notification that the deadline for the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition is coming up at the end of January 2016. In the past on two occasions, attempts to convert a play and a short story into radio format met with rejection. I'm toying with the idea - that's as far as it's progressed - of trying to convert "The Lemon" into a radio play. Given the fast approaching deadline, starting a new play isn't practical and it would be a personal challenge to see what can be accomplished in a month. Who knows...

Meanwhile, old soldier Joe McKenna and his vet pals are still meeting at the neighborhood bar, waiting for a new direction from the playwright. This play keeps calling me back in spite of self-declarations to let it die in peace. But it won't. There is something about the characters and the story line that is compelling and begging to be told.

"We ain't gettin' any younger," they all keep reminding me.

Neither are any of us, guys. Neither are any of us... Read the rest of this post

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5. Zoo Diary: the zoo denizens get into the holiday spirit

ZOO DIARY

SCENE: A small zoo. Preparing for the holiday performance.

At rise: The residents of the zoo are practicing for the annual holiday performance. It's the last dress rehearsal before the actual production and chaos reigns supreme.

ZEBRA
Hello? Everyone? May I have your attention, please? There is far too much cacophony among the performers. I can't hear myself think! Not you my dear...you embody the true thespian soul

CROW 1
(laughing while watching from a tree)
Uh-oh...zebra says there's too much caca-phony around here. The elephants have been using the toilets, again

CROW 2
(laughing hysterically)
Oh Cyril - you're so witty!

ZEBRA
You mean, witless. Now where were we? Oh yes...we were discussing your acting abilities, my dear.

FEMALE ZEBRA
You think I have talent? My acting coach has offered to give me private lessons

ZEBRA
Would your coach anyone I would know? Perhaps we could work together to maximize your performance

FEMALE ZEBRA
That's a very kind offer but 'CH' swore me to secrecy. He doesn't want the whole world calling him and begging for private tutoring> He's a very private person

ZEBRA
Totally understandable, my dear. Know exactly where he's coming from. I too separate myself from the lesser...well...talent-challenged among us

(ZEBRA admires his frame from all angles, in a full-length mirror)

(cont'd. ZEBRA) 'Perfection!'  (whispering) You can share the name of your acting coach with me. There is a professional code of silence among zebra directors that is adhered to. You said his initials were CH? Hmmmm....not familiar with any coaches with those initials...

FEMALE ZEBRA
He calls himself cheetah

(ZEBRA reacts with horror)

ZEBRA
Cheetah...you did say cheetah? Does this cheetah...would this coach live, perchance, in a cage in this very zoo?

FEMALE ZEBRA
He would! How did you know? He said that his style of coaching requires getting down to the bare bones of acting

ZEBRA
(horrified)
My dear, naïve, zebra! Forget about - um - coach cheetah. I, myself, shall take you on as a client, gratis, and as a cost to myself (aside to himself) ...wait 'til I get my hands on cheetah...' What am I saying? Let's just say, my dear, that his reputation and taste for zebras is well developed. Why don't you go over there in the corner and study your lines

FEMALE ZEBRA
If you say so. "I think I hear Santa!....I think I hear Santa....I think I hear Santa...'

ZEBRA
Okay...actors - places please! Mr. Squeeze - please tear yourself away from rat? We don't want a repeat performance of last year's incident

MR. SQUEEZE
I was just trying to show him some love

RAT
(gasping for breath)
Surrre! Remember the squirrel incident? We lost our Santa Claus on account of you

MR. SQUEEZE
We're good friends! Right rat? Who ever heard of a squirrel playing Santa Claus, anyway?

ZEBRA
(admiring himself in the mirror and fixing his cravat)
'You handsome devil! Your stripes don't do you justice. 'kiss-kiss....' For the record and given our budget, which is half of last year's, which was next to nothing, he was the only one who could fit into the Santa suit. Who will play the old elf this year?

(a chicken jumps down from the branch of a tree)

CHICKEN
I would like to volunteer my services for the cause

MR. SQUEEZE
(slithering up close to chicken)
Great idea! And my contribution will be to offer my help We can go over your lines in my den

ZEBRA
Not! Thank you for your...offer but I'm sure chicken can remember "ho-ho-ho..." Now if you will put on the suit, we can start our rehearsal

CHICKEN
It's a little tight...jacket won't...fit...over my...breast bone...

CHEETAH
Perhaps I can fix that problem ...

MR. SQUEEZE
...my particular qualities can definitely fix that...

(both cheetah and MR. SQUEEZE inch closer to the chicken)

ZEBRA
Stop where you are, both of you! We will make do with what we have. Please put on the red hat and black shiny boots and get on the sled. The children are arriving

CHICKEN
(smoothing his feathers and pulling the jacket over his breast)
I'm very nervous.. This is my first acting job

CHEETAH
Don't worry my friend. I'll be watching close by...in case you forget your lines, of course

ZEBRA
Places people! Mr. Squeeze - you're not in the first scene

MR. SQUEEZE
Just helping chicken get over his nerves. Everyone needs a hug


NEXT TIME: THE SHOW MUST GO ON...MAYBE
Open the curtains and let the play begin!


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6. OLD SOLDIERS: SCENE II - OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES

On November 11th, Remembrance Day, at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we remember them.

"Old Soldiers" which started out as a short story, came about as a result of an interview with some old soldiers/veterans for a newspaper column that I was writing at the time. Was drawn back to the story over time and as is my habit, tweaked it over the years and somehow the main focus of the story, Joe McKenna, seemed to take on a life of his own, along with his service buddies. One of my many (big on this aspect) re-writes resulted in an attempt to turn it as a radio play that was  entered in the BBC International Playwriting Competition.  Needless to say it didn't win but thought I'd share the second scene in this blog. It's still in the editing process (so what else is new). Formatting went askew in places during cut-and-paste.

To set the stage so to speak, JOE MCKENNA is a disillusioned old veteran who saw action and is angry with the world. He and his buddies are relics from another era who are afflicted with a variety of debilitating conditions, and the death of one of them hits Joe particularly hard. He decides to make a personal statement to make his views known at a remembrance day service in a park and along the way fate steps in when he meets up with a young boy (TIM) and his mother.


SCENE: A PARK.

AT RISE: Joe McKenna is slowly making his way to where the Remembrance Day service is taking place in a park. His body racked with pain, he stops to sit down on a bench. A military band can be heard in the distance playing band music and the voice speaking through a loud speaker system.


JOE:                           Look at ‘em all! Sheep – a bunch of bloody sheep!

YOUNG BOY:          Mister – where are the sheep?

JOE:                           Huh? What you talking about, son?

TIM:                           You said something about seeing sheep. Where are they?

JOE:                           I meant… No sheep. Just talking to myself, is all

TIM:                           I like marching bands. Last Christmas I marched in the Santa Claus parade               with one of the elves

JOE:                           That’s nice. Now you go find your mom…

TIM:                           See her over there? Reading a book? My mom told me that it's                               important we come here every year. She didn’t tell me why, though…

JOE:                           You better go or she’ll come looking for you, besides, you shouldn’t talk to strangers

TIM:                           She said I could go play if I stayed where she could see me. If I can see                               see her then she can see me. Are you a soldier?

JOE:                           I was, a long, long time ago. Guess I’ll always be a soldier in my heart.

TIM:                           How come you’re dressed different than the others?

JOE:                           Look sonny boy – I don’t think your mom would like you talking to strange, old men so you better go stay with her

TIM:                           I’ll just wave at her so she’ll know everything is okay. ‘Hi mom! This man is a soldier too! Is it okay if I talk to him?’

JOE:                           Oh G-d. That’s all I need now. Talking to strange kiddies… I’m out’ta here…

TIM:                           My mom is coming over to say hi so you can talk to her

JOE:                           I don’t think so, kid. Shoot! I’m behind in my schedule!

BOY’S MOM (BETH) You know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers! We’ve discussed                                           this a million times…

TIM:                           I know mom but he was a soldier, too. Look – he’s wearing a uniform

BETH:                        Why don’t you go play on the swings over there, Tim

TIM:                           But I why can’t I talk to him? What are those ribbons for, mister?

BETH:                        Well…because… Oh look! There are some kids throwing a                                   a     ball  around. Why don’t you go join them?

TIM:                           But…

BETH:                        Go play, Timmy. Now!

JOE                            Don’t blame you for telling him that. Heaven knows I tried! Look…if you don’t want him talking to me, that’s fine. I got places to go – things to do, anyway

BETH:                        Tim is such a trusting boy. Loves the world. These days that can be                                                 a fatal fault. Takes after his great grand-dad, G-d rest his soul

JOE:                           Trust me lady that I didn’t initiate the conversation. I was just                                     sitting here on this bench resting a bit. Your boy was just being a kid

BETH:                        I’m assuming by your uniform that you were in the army. Which war?

JOE:                           Does it make a difference? War is war. Shoot! I’m way behind now…

BETH:                        Didn’t mean any disrespect. It just came out. My grandfather wore the same uniform. Such a strong man but he was never the same when he returned. A fraction of his former self

JOE:                           Weren’t we all. Nice talking to you but…

BETH:                        Have we met before?

JOE:                           Doubt it given the big difference in our age. Do you work in the Vet Hospital, he asked, hoping to get an “in” there…

BETH:                        Maybe we don’t know each other but I’ve seen your face…but where…

JOE:                           I used to play checkers here in the park but that ain’t gonna happen anymore…

BETH:                        Sorry. Don’t wanna keep you. I gotta be somewhere else, myself

JOE                            Nice meeting you…

BETH:                        …Beth…

JOE                            You don’t look like you’re dressed nearly warm enough to be in a park this time of the year. Maybe you and the kid should go home and put on some warmer clothes. Well – it’s been interesting…you’ve got a sweet and trusting little boy

BOY’S MOM            Takes after his great-grandfather. Sweetest man in the world, he was. That’s why I’m here – and dressed like this. I’m burying him after the memorial ceremonies. He was a soldier so he’s getting full military honors. In fact if I don’t get a move on, I’m gonna be late ‘Tim – come on. We have to go!’

JOE:                           Would you mind sharing the name of your grandfather with a stranger you just met? Could be we knew each other

BETH:                        Percy… Percy Albertson

JOE:                           Can’t be…not possible… This is too much. Percy was my best friend in war and in peace. In fact, me and the last of our platoon buddies are gonna be at his funeral. You’re – Percy’s granddaughter? Never even knew he had a daughter ‘til I read his obit in the paper. Is your mother here? Would be great to meet Percy's old lady and I’m sure the others would, too

BETH:                        She passed a year ago of a heart attack. Lived in a small apartment and kept it like a shrine devoted to gramps. Funny thing is they rarely spoke to each other. Some kind of stupid fued or the other and then they separated. Sad. I never had the chance to meet him.

JOE:                           Old Perce was a stubborn and proud man. He should’a gone t’live in the VA hospital years ago but he always refused them. Instead he existed from hand-to-mouth and never enough money to pay for medication. I mean, what are the odds that you and me should meet?

BETH:                        Now I remember where we met. At the pub a long time ago, when I was a little girl! I visited the place a couple of times with my grand-dad. Listen – if you’re alone here, why don’t we attend the funeral together? I know my son would be happy and so would my grand-dad for sure

JOE:                           Thanks for the invite but I…got plans…hav’ta do something…for Percy…

BETH:                        Please – it would make me so happy and my grandparents would have wanted this. I’d like that we get to know each other and maybe you have some photos you could share of him and you during the war. It would be nice if my son got to know his great-grandfather through you

JOE:                           Perhaps we could meet there, after … You’ll have to excuse me. Got an important appointment

TIM:                           What do you have to do?

BOY’S MOM:           Stop asking him so many questions, Timmy. The man has to go and. that’s that. Maybe we’ll see him later

TIM:                           Can I thank you

JOE:                           Thank me - for?

TIM:                           My mom says we should thank old soldiers for fighting to help us stay free. Didn’t you tell me that, mom?

BETH:                        I did say that – and I meant it. Not only old soldiers – all soldiers. Thank you from me and my son…you never told me your name

JOE:                           Joe. Joe McKenna

BETH:                        You’re “the” Joe? My grandfather spoke fondly of you, all the time! Fate must have arranged for our meeting

JOE:                           Wouldn’t put it past Old Percy to arrange this. I really gotta leave now.

TIM:                           Look – I can salute! I practiced at home.

JOE:                           You do that well. You take good care of your son

BETH:                        Listen – if you have nothing planned after the funeral, perhaps you’d at least join us for a bite to eat?

JOE:                           Maybe another time…

BETH:                        Of course. I’m just being selfish. Here – let me give you my phone and cell numbers. Give me a call if you’d like to join us

JOE:                           I’m really running late now…Nice meeting you both…

TIM:                           Have a good day! I’m going to salute all the soldiers at the ceramo…cerrro…

JOE:                           …ceremonies

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7. Waiting and waiting.... Been there, experienced that, etc.

Hate to see a straight line indicating nobody has dropped by my playwriting blog, as is the case presently. Actually, this is applicable to all my blogs. As writers, the purpose of sharing our thoughts via a blog is to reach the public in the hope that something we have written strike their fancy or that they see and read as interesting. A straight line means nobody finds the blog worthwhile enough to drop by. Don't like straight lines but it goes as it goes. Anyway...

Still sending out my plays and short play-ettes here, there and everywhere and hoping to hit pay-dirt. Wish I could report some progress but alas and alack, it's still a waiting game. I've to confess that I've been hesitant to enter my ten-minute plays in competitions where a submission fee is required - reading fee as it is called - and no financial compensation is offered. Any feedback on this? It's nice to think that our time writing the play, be it a short one, is worth a token payment.

Came across a theatre recently that was holding a competition for full 2-act plays but they would only accept snail-mail-in submissions. There is a part of me that understands their rationale since having to print up potentially usable plays costs money and most theatres are short of funds these days. If this is the case and at least in my mind, it would be easier then to read plays submitted electronically, no? At least in my case, my plays have been edited so many times that printing each copy would cost a fortune, and then there's the postage...

Amazing how easy it is to come up with complaints about the unfair system. I mean, who else you gonna blame? Oneself? Neh...

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8. SCENES FROM LIFE - A SHORT PLAYETTE

THE COFFEE QUANDARY
 
 
SCENECOFFEE SHOP. A HALF-DOZEN PEOPLE LINE UP TO ORDER COFFEE. PERSON ENTERS AND LINES UP,  ALONE, NEXT TO THE EXISTING LINE.
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Hello? We're all waiting to be served, too
 
(COFFEE DRINKER 2 IGNORES COFFEE DRINKER 1)
 
(CONT'D.) COFFEE DRINKER 1
 'Scuse me but he line begins and ends here. Feel free to join us - at the back
 
COFFEE DRINKER 2
I only want to order a coffee! Nothing else
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Me too!
 
COFFEE DRINKER 2
You would make me go to the back of the line for just one cup of coffee?
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Why not? That's why we're here but we wait our turn!
 
(COFFEE DRINKER 2 reluctantly and slowly moves to back of line, talking to people in line as she walks,  shaking her head)
 
COFFEE DRINKER 2
This is so dumb! One lousy coffee that would take less than thirty seconds to order. Ridiculous!
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Not really. A line up is a line up is a lineup. We all gotta abide by the rules. I mean, what would the world be like without structure. Utter chaos. Right people?
 
COFFEE DRINKER 3
Y'know...I'm not in a rush. You can go before me
 
(steps aside to allow coffee drinker 2 to move up)
 
COFFEE DRINKER 4
Me too. Gotta lotta time to kill
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Thank you so very much for backing me up, people! This is a perfect example why the world is in the condition it's in. Nobody cares! Rules are the glue that solidifies civilization!
 
COFFEE DRINKER 3
Give her a break! You're in front so why do you care?
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
That's not the point, my friend. Why do I care you ask? I care because we must retain some semblance of order in society. There are societal rules that are accepted norms and lining up and waiting our turn to be served is one of them. Can you imagine - and I'm sure it would never happen because you people seem civilized - if everyone pushed in and demanded to be served? There would be chaos!

COFFEE DRINKER 2
It's a coffee! That's it! Nothing to go along with it. No danish or pastry or anything that will take more time.

COFFEE DRINKER 1
That's what you say now but how do we know we can believe you?

COFFEE DRINKER 3 AND OTHERS LINING UP
"I believe her..."

COFFEE SHOP SERVER
Can I serve anyone over here?
 
(people rush over to the other line. COFFEE DRINKER 2 waves and smiles at COFFEE DRINKER 1)
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
I tried. Can't teach everyone to have manners. 'A large regular coffee - in a china mug, please'

SERVER
Only paper cups. Our dishwasher is broken
 
COFFEE DRINKER 1
Say what? You expect civilized people like me to...to drink coffee out of a paper receptacle? This is absolutely unacceptable. Wash one out by hand, for goodness sake!

SERVER
Look over there. See the big pile of dishes in the sink? You expect me to wash out a mug for you? I think not!

COFFEE DRINKER 1
Do I have a choice - but don't expect me to enjoy it!

(COFFEE DRINKER 1 takes paper cup and looks for a table. She sees COFFEE DRINKER 2 seated by herself at the only available table)

COFFEE DRINKER 1
Excuse me...but would you mind if I join you? In my discussion with the coffee server person regarding the non-availability of china coffee mugs, it appears all the chairs and tables are taken. You would think that they would keep extra mugs on hand for people who can't tolerate drinking their beverage out of paper.

COFFEE DRINKER 2
Well...now. How about that. Go figure. There is justice in this world. Why don't you line up and wait for someone to vacate a table.

COFFEE DRINKER 1
But that could take a long time. You on the other hand, are all alone

COFFEE DRINKER 2
I like my space

(COFFEE DRINKER 3 approaches the table)

COFFEE DRINKER 3
Do you mind if I join you?

COFFEE DRINKER 2
Be my guest.

ASIDE TO COFFEE DRINKER 1: Like you said, there are rules and waiting our turn is one of them.  I think I just may order another one...or maybe two...
 
 
 


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9. Upon reflection

In his playwriting blog, "The Producer's Perspective," Broadway producer, Ken Davenport, shared his thoughts and dispensed some advice to aspiring playwrights. In particular his contention that "new-er" playwrights over-write their plays.

This caught my attention and got me thinking about my own plays and whether they are over-written. Perhaps (speculation number gazillion) this could be yet another reason and rationalization why my plays have yet to see a stage.

Not just long, Ken shared in the blog, but too wordy (my interpretation). There is a tendency to write too much to ensure that the audience grasps what the playwright is attempting to put across.

The problem from my perspective is that it's difficult to know how much is too much.  I've strived to keep physical direction to a minimum and to focus upon the dialogue and more importantly, the story line. So if indeed I'm guilty of over-writing, it's difficult to ascertain if and where the edits should be made, having edited various parts incessantly over time.

Contributed my two-cents-worth to the topic in the form of a comment, "frequently, we never hear back again as to whether a play is over-written or whatever else is wrong." As I've frequently bemoaned and shared that the submission process more often than not results in never hearing anything back, period.

On one occasion and to a theatre's credit, part of its commitment to playwriting, a submission resulted in a complete analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the play, including suggestions as to changes that would strengthen its overall quality. How refreshing.

In the end, it's a waiting game dependent upon hope that someone, somewhere, will see the potential. Perhaps - pure speculation (again) on my part - over-writing is involved or maybe it's a case of under-writing. Go know.

Meanwhile, here's the coordinates to sign up for Ken Davenport's blog: https://www.theproducersperspective.com/welcome-to-the-producers-perspective-forum



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10. Hello? Same old, same old...

Nothing really new to report but for anybody keeping up with the score so far - zero-zero - for the playwright.

Really (she wrote emphasizing the really) made a concerted effort to submit my literary gems (at least in my eyes they are) to various theatres and related opportunities. Received a response from perhaps one with the usual form letter: "Dear Playwright." At least an effort could have been made to address our kind by our given name. I mean, if I'm going to be given bad news, at least relate it personally to me. Don't you think?

Where was I now...oh yeah. 'Dear Playwright, given the huge response to our call for submissions, unfortunately your play will not be among this year's productions.' There is more blah-blah but in the end - who cares. Right? Guess I should be happy that at least I received a response, be it a negative one.

Once the brain acknowledges a rejection, the questions and doubts start popping up like:

- maybe I shouldn't have done re-write # 7,500
- maybe I'm deluding myself into believing I can write plays
- maybe I should adapt my title to "writer-of-plays-that-are-waiting-for-production"
- maybe I'm living in the wrong country
- maybe I'm using the wrong font - that has to be it. Right?
- what happens if I run out of theatres in which to submit?
- what happens if I'm submitting to the same theatres having forgotten to note the lucky recipients?

And so they continue, those insidious doubts that show up in the quiet of the night, filling the mind of the writer-of-plays-that-are-waiting-for- production with doubt and bewilderment. Know what I mean?

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11. SCENES FROM LIFE - A SHORT PLAYETTE. At the coffee shop

POST PLAY DISCUSSION
 
SCENE: Coffee shop
AT RISE: Two friends discuss a theatre performance they have just seen
 
 FRIEND 1
(perusing menu)
Decisions…decisions… I just started seeing a dietician but I absolutely adore their chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake… One more time couldn’t hurt.
 
 FRIEND 2
Given that it’s past eight o’clock and the worst time for weight gain, I, on the other hand, will stick to my usual expresso
 
FRIEND 1
You’re so holy-holy, perfect, human being
 
FRIEND 2
Jealousy is futile. It’s my genes. Everyone in my family is thin, going back generations
You do realize I could eat whatever I wanted without guilt but I don’t, because I respect my body
 
 FRIEND 1
Hey! Me too! My body tells me regularly, “feed me chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake’ and I’ll make you feel real good!”
 
FRIEND 2
Anywaaay…So what did you think of the show?
 
FRIEND 1
Well…it had its moments
 
FRIEND 2
You didn’t like it, I take it?
 
 FRIEND 1
I never said that
 
 FRIEND 2
What are you saying?
 
 
FRIEND 1
It had its moments

 
FRIEND 2
Which means?
 
 
FRIEND 1
 
Kind of dragged in parts
 
 
FRIEND 2
I dunno. Made me laugh – a lot
 
 
FRIEND 1
That’s ‘cause you’re easily amused
 
FRIEND 2
Is it necessary to insult me, just because you consider yourself (makes quotation marks with her fingers) “a playwright”?
 
FRIEND 1
It’s the words and how they’re put together that interest me
 
FRIEND 2
Seemed like one great show, overall, in my eyes
 
 
FRIEND 1
You didn’t find that the first act seemed to never end?
 
FRIEND 2
I go to the theatre to be entertained. Period. I don’t agonize over whether the first act is better than the second because really, I don’t care! If the actors can provide a couple of hours of escapism, then they’ve done their job
 
 
FRIEND 1
We obviously view the entertainment through different eyes. I’m interested in the flow of the dialogue…the inter-action of the performers…things of interest to a person who writes plays -
 
 
FRIEND 2
- remind me how many of your plays have been produced –
 
 
FRIEND 1
So? What does that have to do with anything? It’s not for lack of trying. Have you any idea how many playwrights are out there all over the planet, hoping that someone will share them with the world? Gazillions I can tell you – including me! I mean, well known one’s, too! One day – one sweet day – someone, somewhere will read one of my plays and say, “this is the winner we’ve been waiting for!” One day, you and I, will sit here as we do after a night at the theatre, and discuss the merits of one of my plays. You’ll tell me how witty the dialogue was and how it made you laugh and how lucky that our friendship has maintained over the years…
 
 
FRIEND 2
So, are we ordering or what?
 
 
FRIEND 1
I’m thinking here perhaps it is too late for something heavy like the chocolate-chocolate-and-more-chocolate molten lava cake
 
 
FRIEND 2
Good idea - think healthy
 
(waitress approaches to take order)
 (cont’d.)We’ll have two expresso coffees, please…
 
 FRIEND 1
…hang on…
 FRIEND 2
I thought you decided against the cake
 
 
FRIEND 1
The cake is on the heavy side but a small butter pecan muffin wouldn’t even register on the scale.  Now about the play…the acting was adequate but then they didn't have much to work with...


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12. SCENES FROM LIFE: A SHORT PLAYETTE At the theatre

INTERMISSION
 
 
SCENE: WOMEN'S WASHROOM IN THEATRE
 
AT RISE:  FEMALES LINE UP TO USE BATHROOM
 
 
FEMALE 1
Line is really long...hope we have enough time
 
FEMALE 2
(turning around)
Sorry?
 
FEMALE 1
I was just commenting that there's a lot of women waiting to get in and only a 15 minute intermission
 
FEMALE 2
When 'ya gotta go - 'ya gotta go, right?
 
FEMALE 1
(moving anxiously from foot to foot)
Don't I know it - and I really have to! Go, I mean
 
FEMALE 2
It usually picks up and moves faster when they near the end of the intermission
 
FEMALE 1
Hope so... Do you notice how the guys seem to be able to do what they have to do in three minutes?
 
FEMALE 2
That's cause they don't have as much clothing to remove and don't stare at the mirror or fix their makeup
 
FEMALE 1
Once in dire desperation, I used the men's washroom. I had to. I pushed the door open, screamed 'is anybody there 'cause I'm coming in!'
 
FEMALE 2
What happened?
 
FEMALE 1
I held my head down and didn't dare glance at the urinals. Went in a cubicle, slammed the door and never urinated so fast in my life! Thank goodness there was nobody in there, as far as I knowThe line is moving but barely. C'mon people - move quicker!
 
FEMALE 3
(behind both of them)
Don't mean to interrupt but there's another bathroom located downstairs. Everyone seems to gravitate to this one for one reason or another
 
FEMALE 1
Thanks for the suggestion but if I'll lose my place if I check it out and I don't know if it's an improvement on this.
 
(ASIDE TO FEMALE 2) Perhaps if you would hold my place...?
 
FEMALE 2
Don't think that's a good idea. If you end up returning, they'll attack me figuring you're trying to cut in the line. You have to decide which is the better option
 
FEMALE 1
All I know is that I really gotta pee!
 
FEMALE 2
Even if I let you in front of me, it's not much of an improvement
 
FEMALE 1
It's better than nothing and I would be most appreciative. Things are really getting desperate!
 
FEMALE 2
I suppose I could...I mean, I've been where you have....
 
FEMALE 1
Oh thank you, thank you!
 
(FEMALE 1 moves in front of FEMALE 2)
 
(CONT'D. FEMALE 1) Almost there...just a few more to go...
 
(moving back and forth from foot-to-foot)
 
FEMALE 1
(to female in front of her)
'...such a long line up...oh dear and intermission is almost over... Really, really, have to go...you would do that for me? You're too kind...thank you...'
 
(FEMALE 1 moves up the line)
 
FEMALE 1
(to herself)
A person has'ta do what a person has'ta do...the flush of victory is at hand...
 
 


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13. WHEREAS THE SHARK TANK MEMBERS CONSIDER A NEW INVENTION

Even though I have a plastic watering container, for whatever reason, punching holes in the lid of a large, empty juice container seemed like a good idea. This got me thinking - one of those "what if" moments: what if everyone reading this decided to do the same and pursue our creation on the "Shark Tank" TV program for financial backing! Would it fly?

 
 
SCENE: SET OF “SHARK TANK” TV SERIES. A FEMALE, FOLLOWED BY A LARGE GROUP OF MALES AND FEMALES HOLDING JUICE CONTAINERS, ENTERS. THE FOUR “SHARKS” STUDY HER WHILE MAKING NOTES.

VOICE OVER: “NEXT ON SHARK TANK, A GARDENING AFIENCIENADO WHO HAS COME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE ALTERNATIVE TO A STORE-BOUGHT WATERING DEVICE. SHE’S ASKING FOR $50,000 FOR 30% EQUITY

 

FEMALE INVENTOR

Hello moneyed sharks! My name is blah-blah and I’ve come up with an inventive and cheap alternative to the watering can. When it comes to buying gardening tools, most gardeners head to their local gardening outlet to buy their equipment. Chances are that you or your maid or whoever takes care of buying grocery supplies buy the larger sized juice containers being more economical (sharks all shake their heads in agreement and take more notes). Once the container is empty, it’s tossed in the recycling pile. But wait a minute! Don’t do that! It can be recycled again.

 
MARK CUBAN

Who are all those people you brought with you?

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

They’re the CYBER FRIENDS OF FACEBOOK group who are my strongest supporters. They’re also big fans of Shark Tank

 
KEVIN O’LEARY

Yuck! Juice spilled on my very expensive tie. If you can’t wash out your invention before bringing it here… I’m…

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

Wait! Let me elucidate this great concept that’s akin to reinventing the wheel!

 
MARK CUBAN

What is this? Says here in my notes that this is about juice containers. Now you’re talking about a new wheel?

 
LORI GRENIER

Give her a chance, Mark. So why exactly have you come to us for big bucks? Are you asking us to fund a juice container with wheels? I don’t get it…

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

If I may explain?


KEVIN O’LEARY

So? We’re waiting

 
FEMALE INVENTOR
(visibly nervous)

Okay… let me think here…


DAYMOND JOHN

Honestly? All I see there is a used juice container. Maybe this isn’t for me…

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

Okay. I got it together now.


ROBERT HERJAVEC

Time is marching on, lady. Get on with your pitch!

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

As I was saying…I was about to throw an orange juice container in the recycling pile and suddenly – you know – one of those eureka moments – I get the urge to punch holes in the lid, which I did…


KEVIN O’LEARY

…this is painful. So big deal! Anybody can do that! Next!


FEMALE INVENTOR

…filled it up with water and then used it to water my flower boxes. No splashing and the perfect system for a gentle watering of plants


BARBARA CORCORON

So let’s see this container of yours

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

I’ve only brought one sample. If you can pass it along…


KEVIN O’LEARY

We have to share one lousy juice container and it’s sticky with juice residue

 
MARK CUBAN

You should’a brought enough for all of us and Kevin is right. The least you could have done is wash the juice container

 
DAYMOND JOHN

All I see is five holes in a lid of a juice container. Anybody… No everybody who buys juice can do that. I’m out

 
KEVIN O’LEARY

Maybe this has potential and maybe it doesn’t. Tell you what I’m gonna do because they don’t call me Mr. Wonderful for nothing. I’ll give you $500 for a 75% equity. That’s more than fair

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

I don’t know…what do you think, people?

 
(she turns and asks the large group of people with her holding juice containers. They shake their heads indicating approval)


KEVIN O’LEARY

Better hurry up and decide whether to take my offer. Your only offer

 
FEMALE INVENTOR

Um…I don’t know what to do…


(large group of people chant, “take it, take it…”

 
(cont’d. FEMALE INVENTOR) As much as I thank you for your support, I have to decline your offer

 
MARK CUBAN
(laughing)

You made a big mistake, lady. Next!

 
KEVIN O’LEARY

You are nothing to me! A cockroach looking for leftovers in the juice of life…or something. Leave and take your container with you

 
BARBARA CORCORON

Kevin – must you always philosophize when someone tells you and your offer to take a hike? You could be more charitable

 
KEVIN O’LEARY

And lose my reputation as Mr. Wonderful?

 
FEMALE INVENTOR FOLLOWED BY HER GROUP LEAVE, DROPPING THE CONTAINERS IN THE TRASH AS THEY WALK OUT

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14. SCENES FROM LIFE: A SHORT PLAYETTE At the supermarket

THE WAIT
 
 
SCENE: A BUSY SUPERMARKET.
 AT RISE: A LONG LINE UP OF PEOPLE WAIT TO PAY FOR THEIR GROCERIES.
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
(to herself)
 
Would you believe how slow this cashier is? I probably could check out myself faster
 
 
MALE CUSTOMER BEHIND HER
 
They should open more cashes
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Sorry?
MALE CUSTOMER
 
They need more cashiers. Can’t open more cashes without cashiers. Only three on a holiday weekend doesn’t do it
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
So true. I mean, you would think that they would have thought of that. I hate waiting
MALE CUSTOMER
 
Who likes it
 
 (female customer searches the line ups)

FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
I just moved over here from the other line. This one looks like it was moving faster but now the other one is better. Always happens. Wherever I move, the other lines are faster
MALE CUSTOMER
 
From what I can see, there are hardly any people in the first cash
 
 (they both look over to check it out)
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
That’s only for eight items or less. I’ve got a lot more than that
 
MALE CUSTOMER
Maybe they would take you being that they’re so busy everywhere
 
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Don’t like to take advantage, not to mention that the customers with just a few items get really upset when you try to push in with a full shopping cart. Can't say I blame them. Tried that a while back and everyone turned on me. “Are you blind?” they all yelled, pointing to the 8 items or less sign accompanied by insults. Wasn’t worth it – very embarrassing. Anyway, I’d lose my place here in line. Hey…you wouldn’t be trying to move up faster in the line here…
 
MALE CUSTOMER
 
Just trying to be helpful
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Why don’t you try your luck at the first cash? Maybe you'll be luckier
 
MALE CUSTOMER
 
I’ll wait my turn. You were complaining
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Actually, I was talking to myself and you overheard me
 
MALE CUSTOMER
Sorry to butt in your private conversation with yourself
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Merely pointing out to myself that they need more cashiers
 
MALE CUSTOMER
 
And I agreed. No ulterior motive intended
 
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
 
Sorry - I tend to get impatient in line ups. Here we want to give them our hard-earned cash and we have to wait to hand it over. Not that I would ever want to be a cashier...
 
  (Throws her head back and looks at ceiling)
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Would you believe? Now they’re counting cash! This means another five minute delay at least
 
MALE CUSTOMER
 
 
Nothing we can do about it

 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
Why, why does this always happen to me? Why couldn’t they have waited until they finished checking out my food items first?
MALE CUSTOMER
 
A conspiracy for sure. Relax – getting all worked up won’t make things work faster
 
 (answers his cell phone) 
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
 
On top of it all, they’ve put new cashiers on a day like today. I mean, really. Okay, they have to learn but today? Good - finished their cash count. Only one person in front of us, now. Should be out of here in five…maybe ten minutes at the most, for sure. I’ll just get ready to place my items here on the counter…they have some good specials today… I don’t believe it!   
 
MALE CUSTOMER
Something wrong?

 
 
FEMALE CUSTOMER
Would you believe? There’s no price on some of her items and now they have to do a price check! That’s gonna put us back an extra ten minutes for sure. Is there no end to keep us customers waiting forever? (addresses customer in front of her) ‘Excuse me, but why didn’t you check your items before throwing them into your shopping cart? We've been waiting here for over fifteen minutes, y’know! Some of us have things to do, places to go.’ 
 
                        (male customer moves over to new cash that opens up) 
 
(cont’d.) Hey! I was in front of you
 
MALE CUSTOMER
You were and now I’m in front of you, first in line. You snooze – you lose. Patience is a virtue
 

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15. A taste of "ACORN FARM"


ACORN FARM
A small sampling from a play written as a joint project, which started out as an add-to-the-story writing exercise with bits and pieces added over time. Like most of my plays, it's a comedy but with dramatic overtones.  Listed only the three main characters in this snippet.
 

By Eleanor Tylbor

and

Jeff Slater

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

 
BESS MALONE, 50’s, Widow

LEANN WALKER, 17, spoiled niece of Becky

WAYNE SMITH, 60’s, physically-disabled old grouch and owner of dilapidated cabin in the woods

 

THE TIME

The present. Autumn

AT RISE: Bess enters walking at a fast clip, arms filled with small kitchen equipment. Leann lags behind while attempting to use her cell phone, dragging a suitcase on wheels behind her
 

BESS
(stopping to glance back at LEANN)

Don’t offer to help or anything. Of course it’s totally understandable. Strain your arms and you won’t be able to iron your hair or whatever you do with it

LEANN

My cell phone’s not working and I forgot to bring a charger. D’ya have one I can borrow?

BESS

Of course! Doesn’t everyone carry a spare phone charger in case a phone goes dead. Just a minute – I’ll check my purse…

LEANN

Good ‘cause I promised Jeremy I’d call him as soon as we arrived. How much longer ‘til we get to where we’re supposed to be? I’m getting hungry

BESS

Forget about touching base with Jeremy. You’re far, far away from civilization and there’s not a hope that your cell phone will work here, anyway

LEANN

I’m sure they’ll be some kind of phone connection at the place we’re staying. Can’t wait to take a hot shower and get out of these grungy clothes. Hey – maybe there’ll be a Jacuzzi, or even an indoor pool
 
                        BESS drops the pots and pans at the front door of the cabin

BESS

In these parts? ‘Ya gotta be kidding! Where do you think we’ll be staying? At a five-star hotel?

LEANN

Wha’cha do that for? I mean, let’s get back in the car and get there already
 
BESS

We’re – here – or there

LEANN
(looking around, panic-stricken)

Tell me this isn’t the place. It’s a joke, right? To teach me a lesson? Of course it is. Nobody in their right mind would stay... here. C’mon – it’s getting dark already and I could fall and break a heel on my new shoes

BESS

Be it ever so humble, kiddo!

LEANN

You-you can’t expect someone like…me to stay…in a place like that. I’ll catch a fatal disease or something

BESS

You wanna knock on the front door or should I?

LEANN

There’s has’ta be a hotel around here. I’ll even stay in a bed-and-breakfast. Maybe if we go back on the main road…

BESS

I didn’t see any buildings for miles around driving up here Look at it this way: it’ll build character and heaven knows you need some of that.

                        BESS searches the door frame for a doorbell and then knocks

(cont'd) Hello?

                        Moves back and examines the house from all angles

(cont'd) A palace it ain’t

LEANN

Nobody’s home. Let’s turn around and call whoever from a hotel

                        LEANN turns around and starts walking

BESS

We’re not going anywhere, unless you feel like hiking through the woods alone in the dark with all those bears and mountain lions out there, not to mention snakes

LEANN

I could borrow your car and go get help.

BESS

Over my dead body you will! I promised your parents that you’re spending the summer with me and that’s exactly what you’re going to do

LEANN

They’re punishing me for dating Jeremy! Think they can keep us apart but they’re wrong. One phone call from me and he’ll rush up here and take me away from all of…this. You’ll see

BESS

Face it, sweetie – there isn’t a cabin or means of communicating with lover boy for miles and miles. From what your parents told me, he drives an old motorcycle and that sure won’t make it up here

LEANN
(starting to cry)

Why are you doing this to me? I’m not the type that can survive without my cell and friends and…

BESS

Believe me, by the time this is over, you’ll thank me for the experience

                        BESS knocks on the door again

(Cont.d) Why doesn’t he answer? Wha’cha gonna live on, anyway? Love? Baby girl – love don’t pay the rent or buy groceries or pay your cell phone bill. I understand that Jeremy doesn’t have a pot to piss in

LEANN

He has job prospects. Last week he had an interview with a company to demonstrate toys in a shopping mall

BESS
(banging on the door)

Real career move that is. Maybe you can join him and the two of you can spend your lives window shopping. Where the heck is Wayne? Hel-lo? How old are you now, anyway?

LEANN

Seventeen next month and we won’t have to worry ‘bout money ‘cause I’ll be bringing in money too

BESS

You? Work? Wha’cha gonna do? Be a nail polish tester? Look – I haven’t got the patience to fight with you. I’m too tired and getting more frustrated by the minute. ‘Hello! Wayne!’

LEANN

Let’s go back, then.  Maybe…maybe the person who lives here went away. I mean, what human being could stay in a dump like this?

BESS

I understand he’s in a wheelchair so he’s gotta be inside. Not the friendly type either, his son told me so we’ll just have to figure another way to get in Maybe…

                        Lifts a mat in front of the door and picks up key

Why would anyone hide the key to get in here? I can imagine what it’s like on the inside

                        Opens door

As bad in the inside as it is on the outside…worse

LEANN

Eeee-uuuu! Tell me we’re not sleeping here

BESS

Well sweetness and light, unless there’s a tent tucked away in that designer suitcase of yours, this is home for a while

LEANN

Like…you gotta be joking! There’s no way. I’m calling my parents to come pick me up

BESS

First of all, your parents are on a cruise ship. Second, before they left, your mom and dad insisted that I take you with me to experience real life, so I doubt they’d even spring for bus fare, let alone come rescue you. Might as well give up on getting in touch with the outside world for a while

LEANN

Where I live, they would condemn a place like this. Gross!

BESS

Were you live, maxing your credit card is considered a hardship

LEANN

I figured this was a shelter for people who get lost in a storm or something

BESS

Surprise! A real live person lives here. Go grab that box with the kitchen stuff

LEANN

Darn! I broke a nail and I just had a French manicure yesterday. D’ya have an emery board? I can’t do anything unless I file down this nail. The last thing I need is jagged edges

BESS

Oh no! We wouldn’t want that! Hold on a minute while I look through my suitcases here. Shoot! Must’a left it back on my manicure table A nail file no less… Now move it, girl!

                        She looks around the room. Dirty dishes cover the surface of the table;
                        clothes litter the floor and a torn curtain hangs from a broken rod and
                        blackened pots and pans sit on top of the stove

Filth! Absolute filth

                                                                                                SFX: person coughing
 
WAYNE
(V/O)
 
Whoever you are, don’t even twitch or blink an eye. I got a shotgun [pointed directly at your heart so’s you might as well start sayin’ your prayers now

BESS
(piling dishes one on top of the other, responding to WAYNE)

And you must be Wayne? Geez – when was the last time you washed these? There’s over an inch of mold growing all over them

WAYNE

                        At entrance of room in front of open door in a wheelchair with oxygen tank
                        Attached

I’m warning ‘ya – I’m a crack shot

BESS

Of course you are and I’m Martha Stewart, here to remodel your home. Not a good idea to use a gun ‘specially since yu’re dragging oxygen around with you

                        WAYNE slowly wheels himself into the room, one hand on wheelchair
                        control lever and the other holds the shotgun supported under his armpit

WAYNE

You think I don’t know how to use this don’cha, woman? Lemme tell you something lady, this here baby (taps rifle) has seen lots of action over the years. Bagged me plenty of deer in my day and a couple of bears. If you don’t believe me, look up at the wall over there

                        Glances up at wall displaying mounted bear and dear heads – looks away

BESS

Disgusting! Shooting defenceless creatures that can’t fight back

WAYNE

It was either them or me. I was defending myself

BESS

I bet. That deer looks really vicious. Threatened to nibble your hand, right? If I’m gonna stay here, it’ll all hav’ta gho, along with a lot of other crap you’ve accumulated

WAYNE

Over my dead body!

BESS

The way you look pal that could be sooner than you think. Go back to the other room and let me do my thing

WAYNE

Just who the hell are you, lady, paradin’ yourself in here like you own my place? You answer my ad for a wife? If ‘ya did, you not what I had in mind. Lift your skirt and lemme see your legs…

BESS

Not. Whad’ya think I am? A horse? No – don’t answer that. I don’t know much about guns and don’t take this the wrong way, but one twitch of your trigger finger and your foot is history. God knows you have enough problems without adding missing toes to the list

WAYNE

You’re here to rob me, ain’cha? Heard ‘bout your type. Come on to me all sweet like and then you’ll knock me out and steal everything I own after having your way with me…

BESS

…which adds up to a fat zero. For your information, your son hired me as a housekeeper, so we’d better learn to co-exist with each other. Believe me, if I deidn’t need some extra cash… In fact, I’m gonna get in touch with him and ask for more money, especially since it means living here with the likes of you
 
WAYNE
(coughing and choking)

Sure. My money-grabbing kid gets word through the grapevine that I’m an helpless old man in a wheelchair and he sees dollar signs floatin’ in front of his eyes! Damn kids – bring ‘em up to be God-fearin’ Americans and then they try to knock you off... Where are my cigarettes...

BESS

You think that your children want to inherit…this? You’re a joke, Wayne! There is no way you're going smoke in my presence so you can forget about your cancer sticks. What else? You can barely talk from coughing, not to mention carrying around an oxygen tank

WAYNE

We'll see about that. Go back and tell my sonny boy, I don’t need nobody’s help and that includes yours. Tell him…I ain’t ready to kick the bucket, yet! Get out’ta here. GET OUT – and take your helper with you. I don't need no old battle-axe tellin' me how t'live my life

 
 

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16. First scene of A WEDDING

Sharing the first scene of my first play, "A WEDDING" a.k.a. "MAKE ME A WEDDING." A comedy, the story focuses on the trials and tribulations of a young couple who want a small, intimate wedding, versus the bride and groom's mothers, who want an all-out, no holds barred (expensive) affair.

In this opening scene, the bride announces her engagement to her parents.


A WEDDING
 
ACT 1

Scene I

 
SETTING: Greenberg family living room. Plastic slip-covers cover,
         kitschy French-provincial furniture, circa 1970’s. On
         either side of the couch are two end tables with drop
         “crystal” lamps on each table

 

AT RISE:  A tense MORTY GREENBERG paces, stopping                 
          periodically to glance out of a window.SADIE     
          his wife, sits in an armchair, absorbed in her knitting.  
          She glances up from time-to-time to watch MORTY

 

TIME:     Late evening

                                  SFX: television blaring

 MORTY

What time is it now?

 

SADIE


Five minutes later than the last time you asked me. Stop
pacing already or you'll wear a hole in the carpet. It's thin enough as it is

 

MORTY


(staring out of window)

What could they be doing in the middle of the night?

SADIE


Counting toothpicks in a restaurant. What's it your business? She needs your permission to stay out late?

MORTY


What'll the neighbors think?

SADIE


Oh pul-l-eeze! Get a life. They'll talk no matter what she does or doesn't do and what they don't know, they make up. Sit down and watch TV 

MORTY


I can't focus knowing that my daughter is out there – somewhere - doing who-knows-what. Maybe we should go search for her or better yet, call the police

SADIE


Not! If we brought her up right, she's okay. You stay up and wait for her if you want but I'm going to bed

MORTY


Don't you wanna be here when she comes in?
                                                                                                        

SADIE

(standing)

Why? She doesn't know the way to her room? Come to bed, Morty!

MORTY

Some mother you are. What happens if… if they were in an accident or something? Maybe they're injured and can't call us

SADIE

Rachel has a cell phone

MORTY

Maybe the cell phone got crushed along with the car…

SADIE

…and maybe you should get a life?

MORTY

I'm staying up and waiting for her like a good father, unlike other people who are more interested in their beauty rest. Like it'll help anyway… I can’t take it anymore! I’m calling the police

SADIE

Enough already! Really Morty, she’s 22 years old. Sit here if you want to but I gotta get some sleep

MORTY

Sure, go to bed and leave me all alone to wait for your daughter

SADIE


How come she’s “your daughter” when she does things that you don't like? Besides, I'm sure David is taking good care of her

MORTY


That's what worries me!

SADIE


Move away from that window or the neighbors will think you're a voyeur! Did I mention Becky's daughter got engaged last night? Don't think she didn't rub it in about the big diamond that her Joanie got. Two carats she tells me! Like the size of a diamond would interest me!

MORTY

(flipping TV clicker)

Of course not! Things like that aren't important to a person with your class. You materialistic? Never!
 
SADIE

It's what's inside a person’s heart that counts, not the size of a bank account. That's what I told Becky. Honestly, that woman is so money-oriented! I don't know how we stayed best friends all these years

MORTY

Are you telling me that you’d hold it against a potential husband for your daughter, if he was cash-friendly?

SADIE

Let me put it this way: if and I say if, the boy happens to come from a wealthy family, I wouldn’t hold it against him. I'm not prejudiced that way. Listen, I get dark circles under my eyes if I don’t get enough sleep

           SADIE exits

MORTY
(calling after her)

“And you need all the help you can get!” Dark circles aren't her only problem. The woman needs a complete head transplant. Where's that daughter of mine? 

                                           SFX: key in lock

           MORTY rushes to chair and feigns sleep

RACHEL
(V/O)

'Don't forget to call me the minute you get home! Mom will be thrilled when I tell her our news. Wave to Mrs. Belinsky across the road, the nosy busybody. I love you, David!'

           RACHEL enters

Hi popsy. Wha'cha doin' up so late? Are you waiting up for me again?

MORTY

Wha…hmmm..? Must'a fallen asleep in front of the TV. What time is it?

RACHEL

What am I going to do with you, pops?  Where's mom?

MORTY

Your mother was tired so she went upstairs. She was knitting me another one of her scarves to join the other sixteen stored away in the closet. When will she realize that I only have one neck? Where were you so late?

RACHEL

I was under the impression I can come home whenever I feel like it – at least that’s what you tell me

MORTY

What'll the neighbors think, a nice girl like you coming in at the crack of dawn?

RACHEL

Would you prefer that I move out altogether and you won’t have to worry about what everyone will say? Let them mind their own business for a change

MORTY

It's a lot to ask to call home and say you're alive?

RACHEL

Can we move on? I have something important to tell you both. Better still, go wake up mom. She'll wanna hear this

MORTY

Something is wrong! I knew it! I told your mother that she should wait up but did she listen? Noooo! Her beauty rest is more important

RACHEL

Why do you always think the worst? It just so happens that this is fantastic news and mom will be thrilled when she hears what I have to say

           Dances around room, waving her left hand

D'ya notice anything new – like - on my left hand?

MORTY

You changed the color of your nail polish?

RACHEL

Look close…realLY close

MORTY

Whoa! That’s new since breakfast?

RACHEL

You do know what this means…

MORTY

A miracle! At last there's gonna be another male in the family and I'll have a chance at winning an argument, for a change!

RACHEL

I didn't expect that kind of reaction but I'll take it as a sign you approve?

MORTY

What's not to approve? The groom to be is David?

RACHEL

Who else? You know we've been seeing each other seriously and there's never been anyone else in my life, nor will there ever be. He's the most wonderful, sensitive, romantic…

MORTY

And those are just his so-so qualities. Only joking, honey. He's a good guy and normal, unlike some of those other weirdos you brought home to us. I still break out in a sweat thinking about - what was his name now - Clifford? What kind’a person tattoos the name of his girlfriend on his forehead and God knows where else?

RACHEL

That was just a high school crush, pop and besides, I
kind’a thought it was romantic at the time

MORTY

Sure you would 'cause you're not a parent - yet. Let’s see now - who came next? What did he call himself - Pukey? Porky? And then there was…
RACHEL

I get your point, popsy

MORTY

Remember your first rock concert? I couldn't hear for three days and never told your mother. Let me tell you - it was bliss!

RACHEL

So? I'm still waiting for congratulations and a kiss

MORTY

(hugging RACHEL)

My little girl -  a bride! That means I’m old. I’ve never been old before

RACHEL

How 'bout go get mom so I can share the good news with her, too?

MORTY

You want me to go wake up sleeping beauty? If I disturb her beauty rest, she'll open up a mouth to me but if I don't… Be right back

MORTY EXIT
 
SADIE
(V/O)

‘Whad'ya doing? Lemme alone Morty. I'm tired! It's not Saturday night…go watch another program or something. What about Rachel? Are you talking about our daughter,…. Get me my duster in the cupboard! The other one! That's for the rummage sale. Do you ever look at what I wear?’

           SADIE rushes on stage followed by MORTY

Rachel, is this another of your father's senior moments?

RACHEL
(extends hand)

So? Look for yourself!

SADIE

It's about time! Looks like a decent sized diamond. Must be -  what - a carat at least? Bigger maybe?

RACHEL

David surprised me with it tonight. We don't want a long engagement so you won't have to plan a big party

MORTY

You're both so young. What's the big rush?

SADIE

They've been going out for five years! D'ya want she should be an old maid like your sister Miranda? I'm so excited! Becky's Joanie got engaged yesterday so she only beat you by one day!

RACHEL

This isn't a contest as far as I'm concerned. We want to get married in three months

SADIE
(ignoring RACHEL)

A summer wedding would be perfect, don'cha think? Maybe we could have it under a tent, in the back garden, just like those fancy society weddings. Mind you, indoors might be better in case of rain, but we have plenty of time to talk about the details

RACHEL

Did you hear what I said? We wanna get married in –like -three months
SADIE

Come again? I gotta get my ears checked 'cause I thought I heard you say three months

RACHEL

Your ears are fine, ma, and even if - and I say if - we wanted a garden wedding, pops has his old cars stored on the lawn, along with a thousand spare parts covering every square inch

MORTY

Listen, you want a reception in the back yard, I'll move everything into the garage…

RACHEL

It has to be at that time because David's been invited to be a keynote speaker at a big lawyer's convention in Europe, so we'll make it a working honeymoon. It's the only time we're both free

MORTY

…maybe call a few scrap dealers today to see what they'll give me. At least we'll have a couple of extra dollars towards the wedding expenses…

SADIE

Typical! Your father is worrying about the gelt, already! You expect we should get everything together in such a short time? It takes a year at least to reserve a place and even then, we have to talk to a caterer, get a band…

MORTY

…then again maybe I should keep them all. 'Ya never know when my car is gonna die on me. It's going on nine years already

RACHEL

There’s something else I haven't told you. We want a small wedding with just close friends and family, so there shouldn't be any problems with the arrangements

SADIE

           Grabs chest, feigns shock and grabs MORTY for
          support

 Do I hear right? You would deprive your parents of making you a big tra-la-la-wedding? I think I'm gonna faint. Catch me Morty!

RACHEL

We'd rather put everything towards important things like buying a house. You should be happy with all the money you’re gonna save

SADIE

Happy? You're gonna kill me! What'll I tell my friends? They'll think we're too cheap or can't afford to marry off our only daughter right! You can't do this to me Rachel!

RACHEL

Sorry? It's our wedding and we want to keep it small. The idea of inviting a lot of people we don't know is not for us! I'm really tired and not prepared to hash this out with you now. We'll continue tomorrow when I'm fresh and can think clearly. At least I'll have a fighting chance

RACHEL starts to leave

SADIE

Stay right where you are! I wanna hear all about how David proposed. This is what a mother waits for!

RACHEL

I promise to tell you everything only let me get a couple of hours of sleep. Please?

MORTY

Let her go to bed, Sadie. The kind of wedding you want will put us back a few dollars. I like the idea that the kids are thinking small. Small is good

 SADIE

You would, Mr. Cheap-skate! I'm sure David's family would want a decent-sized affair, too. Open up your pockets father-of-the-bride and let the moths fly out! Small wedding - over my dead body

MORTY

That can be arranged

SADIE
(taunting)

"Cheap-cheap-cheap…"

RACHEL

I've heard enough for one night. Enjoy yourselves, you two!

RACHEL exits

SADIE

You don't get it, do you? A big wedding means nice gifts. Have a small wedding and you end up with a bunch of fruit bowls and vases

MORTY

As far as I know, the only green growing on our trees are leaves. I have to worry about the cost if you don't

SADIE

What's money when you're marrying off your only child? Dear, dear, husband of mine, you should keep your nose out of things that aren't your business. Planning a wedding is a woman's affair. The husband only writes the checks

MORTY

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17. SCENES FROM LIFE - A SHORT PLAYETTE: MR. AND MRS. EVERYBODY TALK PLANTS

SCENE:  DEN IN THE EVERYBODY HOUSEHOLD.

AT RISE:  MRS. EVERYBODY IS HAVING AN IMPORTANT CHAT WHILE MR. EVERYBODY IS READING A NEWSPAPER

MRS. EVERYBODY
Why? Why must you torture me like this? What did I ever do to deserve this treatment other than heap undying love and devotion to your upkeep?

(MR. EVERYBODY glances up and returns to reading his book)

MRS. EVERYBODY
You seem to be dying slowly right in front of my eyes and I'm at a loss how to save you

MR. EVERYBODY
(looking around)
You talking to me?

MRS. EVERYBODY
Fed you top of the line nutritional supplements and this is the thanks I get

MR. EVERYBODY
I appreciate your cooking, honey. You make fantastic meals and really, I'm in great shape

MRS. EVERYBODY
You are not aging well, sweetheart

MR. EVERYBODY

(gets up to examine himself in the mirror on the wall behind him)

For the record, I'm in better condition now than I was when we married. Sure there's a few extra inches on my stomach but that's due to your good cooking. Work out on the tread mill...

MRS. EVERYBODY
I fear it's time for us to part, sweetheart. You are halfway between this world and the next

MR. EVERYBODY
Say what? Is it something I said?

MRS. EVERYBODY
You've given me a lot of pleasure over the years. Your nightly performance kept me riveted and it's something I will cherish all my life

MR. EVERYBODY
Hey! There's still a lot of life left in this body! Is there somebody else? I can change, y'know!

(MRS. EVERYBODY turns around and stares at her husband)

MRS. EVERYBODY
It's just so hard to say goodbye! Did you say something?

MR. EVERYBODY
You never said a word. I deserve to know who's the new love of your life!

MRS. EVERYBODY
Say what? What are you babbling about?

MR. EVERYBODY
You're leaving me!

MRS. EVERYBODY
Are you insane? You thought that... That is really funny

MRS. EVERYBODY
There is nothing funny about being informed that your wife is leaving your for someone else. It's always the husband that is the last to know

MRS. EVERYBODY
Husband of mine - I was talking to my prayer plant here that is slowly croaking after 40 years and I'm about to replace her with a new one

MR. EVERYBODY
How was I supposed to know? There was only you and me in the room and I never guessed you were talking to a...a... house plant

MRS. EVERYBODY
I've raised this houseplant from a small little stalk. Fed her...coddled her...and she gave me years of pleasure but lately she seems to have taken a turn for the worst. The writing is on the wall...or in this case, in all those brown leaves.

MR. EVERYBODY
A plant is a plant is a plant. Don't know what the big thing is. Just empty the pot and replace it with a new one. Simple

MRS. EVERYBODY
How could you be so cruel and callous! You just can't...discard it like it that!

MR. EVERYBODY
I dunno. Never bothers you to do that with your clothes

MRS. EVERYBODY
Besides, I read an article that said plants can sense pain and they react to it. How could I betray my friend after all the years we've been together? I feel like a killer! I feel like I'd be ripping out her guts and tearing her apart

MR. EVERYBODY
Not that I pretend to feel what you feel but check this out

(MR. EVERYBODY shows her a page of the newspaper)

MRS. EVERYBODY
What's this? The Plant-a-atrium is having a sale on houseplants?

(turns to look at plant and at newspaper ad)

(MRS. EVERYBODY cont'd.)  'Parting is such sweet sorrow my formerly green friend. Go meet your other friends in the composter! Do not think badly of me for I shall remember you with great fondness.' I'm ready.

MR. EVERYBODY
Ready for...?

MRS. EVERYBODY
To make new friends at the Plant-a-atrium, silly! We all gotta go some time. I mean, it's just a silly plant for heaven's sake...


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18. Still waiting - what does that mean, she who pens plays ponders...

As mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog, patience isn't one of my strong points. This usually doesn't work in my favor especially when it comes to waiting for updates/news regarding the fate of my plays. Many of them took cyber trips to numerous geographical locations around the globe in the hope that they would see a stage but so far, no response one way or the other.

According to the various playwriting related sites where this topic is discussed and digested, this is not a good sign but perhaps no definitive decision has been made as to their stage-a-bility. At least that's what I tell myself.

There is a pattern as to my follow up process, which includes avowing to myself that I will wait to receive "the word."

"Gotta give it time," I tell myself. "People don't respond because you want them to. Your plays are among hundreds, maybe thousands, that are submitted with dreams of production."

Patience today, patience tomorrow, inevitably, and when experiencing a particularly discouraging "why do I bother" or "maybe my plays suck" period, a follow-up e-mail is sent out. Usually, the end result is no response followed by a period of "why didn't I wait."

Upon reflection, perhaps a follow-up questionnaire to the submitted theatres would facilitate the process. Something to the effect:

Dear blah-blah (insert theatre name/producer/to whom it may concern),

Recently, (insert date that play was submitted), you were the lucky recipient of my play, blah-blah (insert name of play).

It has been (number of days/weeks/months/years/who remembers) since there has been any updates as to whether said play strikes your fancy. Perhaps the lack of communication on your part is a result of (pick one) a) stunning dialogue requiring further thought b) seeking a period of time in which to program the play to optimize audience participation  c) unable to open file.

When could a decision on its fate one way or the other be expected: a) days b) months c)years d) never (please circle one)

Yours forever in hope,

A. Playwright

It's worth a shot. Am I right?


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19. THE VISIT - a Christmas play-ette

Wrote this a while back but have done some editing and bringing it back being that it's almost Christmas.


 

THE VISIT

 

  CAST OF CHARACTERS:

 

Molly Rigby, 88, senior citizen
David Grey, 20-something reporter
Paul Seaton, camera man

 

SETTING:     Recreation hall of a senior's residence. A few seniors are dozing, some in wheelchairs, others are in regular chairs.

AT RISE:       A reporter (DAVID) enters the room in preparation for an interview with MOLLY RIGBY, who claims to have communicated with whom she believes to be, Santa Claus

DAVID enters the room, taking notes and practicing his introduction

 
DAVID

"We're here at the Happy Hollows Seniors Home to interview resident, Molly Rigby, who claims to have been visited by old Saint Nick, himself. Come Christmas Eve, Molly has stated she will be leaving on an extended trip…”

 
                         PAUL enters, holding a TV camera

 
PAUL

So…what’s the story, here? I mean, it’s Christmas Eve! Couldn’t this one have waited?

 
DAVID

Hey – it’s not my decision! The brass wants us to do a “feel-good” story and interview an old granny claiming to have met the real Santa Claus,

 
PAUL

Yeah and the tooth fairy is alive and well. Is she like…’all there’ if you get my drift?

 
DAVID

Who knows. It's one of those seniors sleeping over there.
 

DAVID approaches the trio, gently shaking each woman.

 
DAVID

Um…’scuse me… Misses… Ladies…Hello? Molly? Which one of you is Molly?


                          MOLLY stirs, sits upright

 
                                                                        MOLLY

Who wants to know? That a TV camera? You’re another one of those TV wisenheimer news guys! Take a hike! I’m sleeping

                         
DAVID

Really – this will only take a few minutes. The world wants – needs - to know if it’s true!

 
MOLLY

Like I said – make like the wind and blow away

 
   MOLLY goes back to sleep. DAVID shakes her gently.

 
DAVID

Paul - this is the lucky lady we were discussing who’s met Santa

 
MOLLY

I was having such a nice dream ‘til your friend here came along and popped it

 
PAUL

Meet Dave Grey, Molly, the reporter that's made WGMZ the number one station in the market

 
DAVE

I'm sure Molly doesn't care about those things

 
MOLLY

You're like all the others. You think I’m a little ‘cuckoo’ in the ‘woo-coo.’ Well I’m not, you know! Oh ‘ye of little faith!

 
DAVID

If you’ll stand next to me right over here and we’ll do the interview…

 
MOLLY

I know what I saw and no one’s gonna tell me diff’rent. Now let me go back to sleep so’s I can be rested when he comes for me

 
DAVID

It’ll only take a few minutes and then we’ll be gone. Come on, Molly! It’s Christmas Eve! A time for miracles. Don’t you want to share your good luck with everyone?

 
MOLLY

Think you're the first reporter to doubt me? I may be old and crotchety but I’m not crazy! Okay – go for it but only because you’ll be the last. Hey  - watch where you put that microphone.

 
DAVID

We’ll do the interview and then we’ll be outta your hair. Really

 
MOLLY

Better make it fast ‘cause I’m expecting my special visitor real soon now

 
PAUL

Guess a family member is taking you home, being that it's Christmas Eve?

 
MOLLY

I suppose you could call him that being that we’re very close friends now. He’ll be coming for me in a big, big sleigh that flies faster than the speed of light. We’re gonna go up, up and fly high in the sky. Just him and me and …

 
DAVID
(snickering)

This special ‘friend’ of yours… would he, like… be dressed all in red with a long white beard and wearing black shiny boots and white gloves?

 
MOLLY

Last time he was here, told me t’pack a couple of things for our long trip just the two of us is gonna take. and he'd be 'round to get me on Christmas Eve. Tonight is Christmas Eve, right?

 
PAUL
(laughing)

This… friend of yours, would he…like…have big white wings and wear a halo or was he dressed in black and carry a big sickle…

 
DAVID

…don’t mind him. Thinks he’s funny. When did this… ‘friend’ first show up?

 
MOLLY

Can we sit down? I wanna save my strength for tonight. Yeah - he first dropped in ‘bout a month ago. ‘Why me?’ I asked him. ‘Why not you’, he says. Can’t argue with that logic…

 
DAVID

How'd you know he was the real one? I mean, there are a lot of people claiming to be Santa this time of year

 
MOLLY

…and y’know what else he said? ‘Molly - you never stopped believing in me.’ That’s what my friend told me., ‘Cause I believe!  

 
DAVID

How do you get in touch with him? 


MOLLY

I don’t get in touch with him, silly! He sends me messages

 
DAVID

How’d I know you were gonna say that?

 
MOLLY

Only I can receive his messages (points to head) – right here


PAUL

Oh fer… We’re wasting time. Let’s wrap up.

 
MOLLY

You think I’m crazy and hear voices, don’t you? I know-what- I-know! Wanna hear how we became friends? Last Christmas Eve at this very time, I sent him a letter asking if I could go along t’help deliver toys? I mean, being that I’m 88 years of  age, who knows if I’ll even be around next year so I told him in my letter that it was now or never

 
PAUL

This man…your friend answered your letter? Did it have a stamp and a post-mark?

 
MOLLY

Always with the questions – and doubts. You young people can’t accept that people can be nice to each other for no reason. I didn’t bother checking for a post mark. I don’t hav’ta because -


DAVID

- I know. You believe. You have to admit that there are a lot of phonies running cons at this time of the year

 
MOLLY

Oh ye of little faith, sonny boy! He never has asked me for anything. Not one cent! Wanna know how he introduced himself?

 
DAVID

By telephone and he asked you to make a donation to his toy campaign?

 
MOLLY

Found him sitting on the end of my bed, watching Seinfeld re-runs and laughing his head off. That old fart has a good sense of humor, y’know! Suppose he has to what with all the doubters he meets. I mean - you can imagine how shocked I was t’see a stranger watchin’ TV in my room. ‘

 
DAVID

He told you that he was Santa and you believed him?

 
MOLLY

You sound like all the rest and they doubted me, too. Why wouldn’t I?

 
DAVID

You hav’ta understand that it's not everyone who gets a visit from Santa in person

 
PAUL

We almost finished, here? I’d like to make it home to open gifts with my kids

 
MOLLY

Told me he was gonna take me away on his sleigh, t’stay with him...forever! Me! Molly Rigby, going t’ live with Santa Claus and his elves. I just couldn't believe it!

 
DAVID

Me neither. So, you took him up on his offer?

 
MOLLY

Are you serious? Wouldn't everyone?

 
DAVID

Are you're telling me that you went for a ride with…

 
MOLLY

…Santa Claus? You bet'cha your perfectly sprayed hair, I did

 
DAVID

(laughing)

And I suppose there were the reindeer parked on the roof, or maybe outside your bedroom window? How does an elderly lady – no disrespect intended – climb into a sleigh? I see you use a walker

 
MOLLY

Somehow  - and I don't know how he did it - I found myself floating in the air, right out of the window. It was one of those high tech sleighs with flashing lights…

 
DAVID

A…high…tech sleigh? Led by high tech reindeer too, I guess?

 
MOLLY

Now that I think about it - their antlers did look like antennas…and the sleigh had colored flashing lights all around

 
DAVID

And was this…Santa… on the - small-ishside with a big head, large black eyes and grey-ish white skin color?

 
MOLLY

Could be but then I'm color-blind. D’ya wanna meet him?

 
DAVID

Him – who? You mean, Santa? Why not? If nothing else it’ll make a good Christmas story and we can expose a holiday phony

 
MOLLY

Now you hav’ta promise me that you won’t try recording us leaving. Santa doesn’t like publicity or anything. He’s a very simple, private man

 
DAVID

Yeah…course…no recording… Right Paul?

 
MOLLY

Promise me you won’t!  Y’a gotta promise!

 
DAVID

I promise. Ready, Paul?

 
PAUL

We’re leaving? I’m ready when you are

 
DAVID

To capture the moment that Molly, here, leaves the rest home for the North Pole

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20. Elvis - the real story

Today would have been Elvis "The King of Rock'n'roll " Presley's 80th birthday. It is generally believed by most that Elvis is no longer with us as in gone to that great jam session in the sky. However - love those howevers of life - there are those who believe he arranged for his disappearance and is out there somewhere, doing gigs. What if they're right? You just never know.



Elvis – The Real Story


 CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

TAMMY        40-something avid Elvis fan and wife of Len
LEN                40-something husband of Tammy
"THE" ELVIS, former big star/singer/performer

 

 THE TIME

The present

 THE PLACE

Jackson’s 7-11 GAS BAR AND DINER

 

Photos of Elvis cover a large portion of one wall; Elvis songs play non-stop. There is a table with two chairs on one side of the room, while the other side of the room has the usual gas station displays of motor oil, etc.

 
AT RISE:

TAMMY and LEN, two customers, are seated at a table looking around the room

LEN
(Scrutinizing the surroundings)

Um…who recommended this place?
 
TAMMY
(reading book)
The restaurant guide write-up says it’s fine dining with a difference

LEN
Fine dining if you’re a rat! Did you happen to notice that a cockroach just crawled out of our bread basket? Must be one that escaped the Chef’s special catch-of-the-day

TAMMY
Stop being so negative and take in the atmosphere

LEN
You mean the aromatic scent of “eau du trash” coming from the back? Phee-ew!

TAMMY
You’re so…so…provincial in your thinking, sweetheart. It's about this authentic ‘60’s décor that gives the place its special caché!

LEN
More like early condemned. Every square inch of wall space is covered with faded Elvis photos and the man’s been dead for how many years?

TAMMY
That's the beauty of this place! It’s like a shrine devoted to “The King.” It's all too…wonderful

LEN
Are you saying that this…this gas station and one-table-diner was the King of Rock and Roll’s eatery of choice? Not!

TAMMY
For your information they say he used to eat fried chicken here and sometimes he even entertained diners

LEN
Was that before or after he turned into the Goodyear blimp? If I had known we were coming here to eat, I’d have checked to make sure my insurance policy was paid up

 TAMMY
You know how long I hadda wait to get reservations for this restaurant…

LEN
…obviously not long enough…

TAMMY
…seven months! If you think I’m going to give up the chance to dine here…

LEN
…and a fine dining establishment it is – if you’re into salmonella poisoning

TAMMY
Get a grip! The waiter is coming to try to act normal, if that’s possible
 
               the waiter dressed in an Elvis jumpsuit struts over, swinging his hips in a
              typical Elvis-like walk. He smoothes the sides of his hair with his hands,
             frequently

WAITER
(swinging his hips between every word)
Evening folks’. Need a menu? Uh-huh – oh yeah…

LEN
No. We prefer to use ESP to order. Of course we need a menu!

TAMMY
Don’t mind my husband – I don’t. Leave the menu here and we’ll choose

LEN
So tacky. All the dishes are Elvis songs. 'Be-bop-a-lu-la' chicken wings…' The 'Love Me Tender' T-bone looks questionable and it comes with fries that are probably a couple months old and a 'I Did It My Way' salad. Look at this: says here on the menu that all their steaks are aged to perfection. Yesterday's road-kill most likely

TAMMY
Have you considered that your cranial spark plugs have stopped kicking in? I can’t make up my mind – so many choices…

               the waiter comes over to take the order

LEN
Are all those dishes served a la carte?

WAITER
(swinging hips)
No – on a plate. Uh-huh…

TAMMY
Just choose something already, will you?

WAITER
Want me to come back, folks? Uh-huh…

                                                                                                            SFX: LIGHTS DIM

TAMMY
Ssshhh! Quiet! The shows is gonna begin

                                                                                                           SOUND: GUITAR TWANG

LEN
I don’t see why we hav’ta be quiet. Cheez – I can hear the sound of someone pumping gas outside, not to mention the smell. Mind you, it's hard to tell the difference between the food and the gas

 

              (The song from “2001: A Space Odyssey” is heard and the waiter now dressed

               in a mechanic’s uniform on the other side of the room walks in front of the

              counter holding a hand mic)

VOICE OVER
“For you entertainment and pllllea-sure, the King has entered the building!”

 An over-weight bordering-on-obese man dressed in a white jump suit enters, stopping to pose while leaning on a cane. A wide belt hangs well below a sagging stomach; black aviator glasses cover his eyes and a badly-fitting black wig sits lob-sided towards the front of his head

(VOICE OVER)
“Direct from his engagement at the luxurious Pink Flamingo Laundromat and Bank Drive Thru in Tijuana, Mex-i-co, the management of Jackson’s 7/11 and Diner is proud to present, “the” King of Rock’n’Roll himself, the one – the only – El-vis!”

A bent over Elvis slowly makes his way to the other side of the room. He bends over to kiss Len, who pushes him way

ELVIS
“Whoops – sorry. Gotta get my eyes checked

He whips out a dirty handkerchief, spits on it and cleans his eyes and replaces it in a back pocket

ELVIS
(in weak squeaky voice)
Thank y’all very much! It’s the first time I been back this way goin’ on twenty years…or maybe it’s thirty…could be forty… Anyway… Good t'see y’all ain’t fergetten the King

              whips out his handkerchief again and blows his nose

ELVIS
Guess I ain’t the same Elvis you remember a ways back, huh? But then who is?       

Starts coughing and choking. Scantily dresses nurses rush over to pat him on
the back
 
ELVIS
See? I still got it but now I don’t know what to do with it! Thank y’all very much… Listen ladies – go see if you can find my extra set of dentures that I left in a steak yesterday.

He chokes again and a well-endowed female doctor wearing tight fitting clothing enters, with a stethoscope draped around her neck

DOCTOR
Now Mr. Elvis – honey – you know you gotta take it easy. Your ticker ain’t what it used to be

ELVIS
(laughing and staring at her breasts)
Yeah but ask me if I care. Thank you all very much. And now before the spaceship comes to take me away, I’m gonna sing you a personal favourite of mine…

              ELVIS sings the first few lines of “My Way” completely off-key

LEN
(starting to get up)
Oh fer… We’re not gonna stay and listen to this… The man is obviously senile

              Sound of tires squeaking to a stop and the slam of car doors

ELVIS
Uh-oh…they’re coming back…I knew they’d find me… Damn aliens!

Two males wearing white outfits move on either side of Elvis and take his arms

MALE 1
C’mon pops. You got another gig at the Sunnyvale Nursing Home

ELVIS
ut…but…I ain’t finished my set, yet!

 MALE 1
Shaking his head and winking at Len and Tammy
You don’t wanna be late for your big entrance.

ELVIS
Where’s my peanut butter and banana sandwich. I caint sing without it 

               the two men start to lead Elvis off the stage but Elvis stops and addresses the
               couple

ELVIS
Thank you all very much!

Elvis walks over, signs a piece of paper and hands it to Len and then exits with the men
 
LEN
(addressing waiter)
That was not “the” Elvis Presley now, was it? You got us here under false pretences. And that’s against the law, y’know!

WAITER
The guy is 80 years old. Whad’ya expect? He’s got two hip replacements, a bad knee and now all that shaking he does is the real thing, poor bastard. By the way, know that piece of paper he handed you?

LEN
I really couldn’t care less about the man’s autograph… In fact this is what I think of you AND your Elvis

               LEN rips up the piece of paper into small pieces

WAITER
You shouldn’t have done that. Uh-uh…

LEN
Elvis my a-s-s!

WAITER
That piece of paper would’a given you a tank of gas with your meal. Oh well…uh-huh…

Len throws himself down on the floor picking up the pieces of paper trying to put them together

LEN
Don't just stand there, Tammy. A tank of gas is a tank of gas is…

VOICE OVER
“The King has left the building 

LEN
(on his knees scooping up pieces of paper frantically)

Hang on a minute. I can put these pieces together… gimme some of that leftover barbeque sauce...

 

 

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21. Snippet from Dead Writes - revised

Started writing this play a while back and have been slowly - accent on the slowly - adding-to and tweaking the play over time. Recently gave it yet another read and after deep thought and concentration, have finally come to what I believe and hope to be, a good ending. Still not finished, yet, but I've been making progress, which in itself is a good omen. Sometimes omens are all we have to propel us along.

I've shared bits and pieces of it here before but here is the latest incarnation. The cast list will most likely grow slightly. I've adapted it for this blog but the cutting and pasting isn't ideal. Comments welcome.

The story: Sometimes lessons in life come at a cost especially when the cost involves sacrifice on behalf of another.




DEAD WRITES
By Eleanor Tylbor

 
CAST OF CHARACTERS

 
CHARLOTTE PEMBROOK:     50-something; former reporter, deceased

JOSIAH:                 Heavenly "Spiritual Adviser - Disembodied Souls Division:

MIA STEVENSON:          Ambitious young reporter

 
THE TIME  
                        
PRESENT DAY, MORNING

 
THE PLACE

Anywhere

 

SETTING:   A funeral parlor

 
AT RISE:   A group of people are seated in a funeral chapel, socializing for the most part, while waiting for the service to begin. A coffin is situated on an elevated stand in the middle of the room.

 
CHARLOTTE PEMBROOK, wearing a diaphanous flowing dress lays next to the coffin. Slowly she sits up, looks around in a confused, slightly stunned state. Touching her arms and body parts, she moves to an upright position and pulls at the material of her dress
         

                                  FX: SOMBER MUSIC

 
CHARLOTTE

Really must'a tied one on last night. Weird, though. No hang-over like usual.
 
Stands upright, moves closer to coffin, straining to see inside. A funeral organizer passes by without acknowledging her presence. She pokes him in the back, to no avail.

 
'Scuse me…hello'? Could you tell me…? Wait a minute. Don't ignore me. You are so rude!’

He ignores her, focusing on the coffin

 
Lemme be blunt like the real me: who's the corpse?

 
         Man continues to ignore her

 
What is your problem? A name - that's all I want! It's not a lot to ask.  Fine. Suit yourself. I'll find out on my own…creep!
          

A man, JOSIAH, enters and stands directly behind CHARLOTTE. Dressed entirely in white, he glitters from head to toe


JOSIAH


There's really no need to yell. I can provide you with that information
 
          Startled, she whirls around to face him

 
CHARLOTTE

You could give a person a heart attack sneaking up like that. And I thought I looked bad in this outfit? If you don’t mind me saying, sir, you look like a bad case of indigestion after eating too many Halloween candies. I've been trying to find out what's going on but the guy over there is ignoring me. Some people just don’t have any manners


 

JOSIAH


He can't hear you

 

CHARLOTTE


It’s not like me not to remember some details of the night before but my mind is a complete blank. Not even a few flashes. Nothing

 

JOSIAH


Not surprising. You’ll get used to it

 

CHARLOTTE


I get it now! This place is one of those new theme clubs and you're the bartender, right? Explains a lot especially the look. So – like - you doing Liberace? That would explain my dress, too. Go figure a funeral parlor would double as a club. So where’s the booze?


 

JOSIAH


The one thing I can assure you is that this is not a nightclub. You know…if you really want, Icould tell you who's in that coffin

 

CHARLOTTE


How would you know that unless… What’s wrong with me? Here's me going on about nothing and you're burying someone who means a lot to you. That’s it, isn’t it? Sometimes I'm so dense. My sympathies.


JOSIAH


You could say I’m related to that dead person. In fact - I'm close with most people that pass through

 

CHARLOTTE


You work here, then?
 

JOSIAH


In a way. Death is the human equalizer, don't you think? Everyone is on an equal plane no matter how important your life was or how much money you had or how much power you wielded

 

CHARLOTTE


I suppose so - can't say I've given it much thought, lately. You wouldn’t happen to know how I ended up here, though, would you?

 

JOSIAH


Do these mourners strike a familiar chord?


CHARLOTTE glances at the mourners

 

Vaguely... Hang on a minute!  These people work with me!

 
(Aside to mourners): ‘This is a surprise party, right? It's all a big joke. I should have known. Whose birthday is it? 'Ya don't hafta worry 'bout me giving it away!  Hello? I’m talking to you all!’

 
Weird. They're all ignoring me like I wasn’t here or something. Dumb…dumb…dumb. Ignorance, thy name is Charlotte! This is a "for real " funeral. That has'ta be it and this here is a real body in a real coffin! Okay –so – then - why am I here? Must be somebody I knew…

She strains to see in the coffin again without results

CHARLOTTE


You seem to know a lot about this. Was it Don McGrath or Pete Winston? Don't know how many times I warned them both to slow down, but did they listen? ‘Course not! What does an old broad like me know, right? Burn the candle at both ends and you’re gonna burn your light out, I told them time and time again. Everyone thinks they’re gonna live forever

 

JOSIAH


It wasn't either one of them

 

CHARLOTTE


That's a relief 'cause we're the last three old farts left at The Sentinal. Started out together at the same time and we've seen 'em come and we seen 'em leave. Some on to bigger and better and some like this here person, in a wooden box. Things are sure different now. Back when we were in our prime, the only thing we had'da know was a keyboard. Nowadays everything is electronic - cyber this, cyber that. They'll soon find a way to replace us all with computer systems and you know what? Nobody will give a damn

 

JOSIAH


They'll always be a need for the human touch

 

CHARLOTTE


Look at 'em all…young kids just out of J-school. What do they know about getting’ a story? How can you write about life if you never experienced it?  This really is a real funeral, isn’t it?

 

JOSIAH


Unfortunately, you are correct

 

CHARLOTTE


Guess you were a friend of the corpse, then, or related?

 

JOSIAH


I'm friends with a lot of people. You can say that I help them through a difficult period

 

CHARLOTTE


So you're one of those - what do they call them - grief councillors? Bet you go to a lotta funerals

 

JOSIAH


I can honestly say that I've never missed one

 

CHARLOTTE


Never?

 

JOSIAH


Never in all the years I've been assigned here

 

CHARLOTTE


Have we met somewhere before, maybe a long while back? The more I look at you, the more familiar your face seems to me. Wait a minute! It’s so obvious as the nose on my face. You're a new bartender at Pat's watering hole. I'll pay my tab next week, I swear, it's just that I've been running a little short lately…

 

JOSIAH


We've had a few close encounters in the past, Charlotte, but this is the first time we've met one-on-one. My drinking days are history in the true sense of the word but you seem very caught up with alcoholic beverages

 

CHARLOTTE


Got it now. You own the new funeral parlor down the block and you're here to scope out the competition

 

JOSIAH


Not…exactly but you could say I'm in the funeral business since I make a point never to miss any. In fact, funeral parlors are where I first connect with…

 

CHARLOTTE

(backing away)

Hey! You're not one of those slimy creeps who pick up rich, lonely women at funerals. Listen buddy, I'm not rich and certainly not in the market to add a new man in my life.  Been there, done that, too many times. Know what I mean?

 

JOSIAH


(laughing)

You're quite priceless, my dear. Trust me when I say my interest in you is anything but corporeal in nature. You do like games, don't you, with all your questions that I would be glad to answer. There really is no secret

 

CHARLOTTE


It's my nature to snoop and dig for answers

 

JOSIAH


You don't have to. I'd be most happy to supply you with the necessary information but if you insist. Have it your way

 

CHARLOTTE


Strikes me that this corpse wasn't too popular in life judging by the amount of people who showed up here

 

JOSIAH


It's all quite sad, actually. She believed she never needed people and in the end, seems that people weren't there when she needed them most

Mourner moves to front of room and stands in front of coffin

So the departed is a female. Looky who's here! It’s my friend and co-worker, Janice. Hey girl, we were supposed to meet for lunch yesterday! I showed up but what happened to you?

 

JANICE


Miserable, lying witch! At last you made a useful contribution to the world and left it! Good riddance to bad rubbish

 

CHARLOTTE


Is that the way to talk about the dearly departed? Even dead people deserve respect from the living. Your mama never taught you any manners?

JANICE touches the coffin and returns to her seat

(aside to JANICE): ‘Janice? You-hoo! It's me.’

(aside to JOSIAH) I'm not surprised! She was always a grudge holder. We better take a seat…the minister is here

Gives Janice "the finger" while passing her by and sits with others, accompanied by JOSIAH

(Cont’d. CHARLOTTE - aside to male, PETE): ‘Heeeey Pete-eee! So, how things goin' with you? Sorry 'bout that story, but I just couldn't help myself. In fact, I did just that. I'll return the favor in the future. You know how it is in our biz’

 

(PETE) ignores CHARLOTTE and talks to female on other side

(Cont’d. CHARLOTTE) Still mad at me, huh? See if I care! That’s the last time I share a lead with him, let me tell you

 

JOSIAH


He can't hear you

 


CHARLOTTE


What are you talking about? Of course he can but he's busy chatting up the new receptionist. Probably still pissed 'cause I stole a lead on the story he was after! Far

be it for me to beg forgiveness. He knows that's the way things work. First come - first served!


JOSIAH


And you certainly helped yourself, a lot, didn't you?

 

CHARLOTTE


Listen, if something falls into my hands, who am I not to take advantage? I needed a lead and Pete was nice enough to do the legwork for me. We're old friends anyway. He'll come around, won't you sweetie?

 

JOSIAH


You find a way to justify everything. Has it dawned on you, yet, why you're here and that people are ignoring your presence?

 

CHARLOTTE


What other reason than to pay my respects to someone in the paper 'biz. Really bugging me, though, how I got here and landed up lying next to a coffin. I've covered practically every kind of story but I can't ever remember spending the night in a funeral parlor. Maybe I was after a story but why is my mind blank?

 

JOSIAH


Merely a temporary fog that will clear after you -

 
CHARLOTTE

- sssh! Talk softer. We're gonna get kicked out and I'll never find out who's in the coffin



MINISTER steps behind podium

 

MINISTER


Friends…
 

           Voice calls out:

'She didn't have any, so move on!'


 

MINISTER


..we are here to bid goodbye to one…


Another voice:

'Good riddance to bad rubbish!'


 

MINISTER


…a…good reporter, a good friend and colleague.

 
CHARLOTTE

This dead person must'a really screwed them over but good, but she – you did say it was a woman? Like I was saying, the dead deserve some respect too.

 
CHARLOTTE stands up and addresses everyone
 

'That's no way to speak about the dead, you bunch of parasites. Have some respect!'

 

MINISTER


Is there anyone here who has something positive to say, about the departed? Surely there must be one person in this entire room that could say a few nice words about the late Charlotte Pembrook?

 

CHARLOTTE


Excuse me? I can speak for myself, thank you very much… What's with this "late" junk?


MINISTER


No one? Then we'll proceed with the service
 

CHARLOTTE


What in the hell is he talking about? 'I'm still among you, in the flesh! Look! I’m here’

 

JOSIAH


Please try to control using the "H" word? I've been trying to tell you that no one can hear you – or see you, either


CHARLOTTE


They're doing it on purpose to teach me a lesson. ‘Well, it won't work people! I'm on to you all!’

 
CHARLOTTE stands up on chair, waves and screams on top of her lungs


CHARLOTTE


‘Charlotte is here! The old witch is alive and kicking. You can't ignore me forever’


JOSIAH walks to the front of the room and stands behind the coffin

JOSIAH


I'm the only person who can see you, at least for now


CHARLOTTE


Calm down, Charlotte. There’s a very simple explanation for all of this. I’ve had too much too drink and this is just a nightmare. Soon I'm gonna wake up and everything will be like it should. That’s it. A nightmare.

JOSIAH

What’s the last thing you can remember?


CHARLOTTE

Food! I was at The Rib Rack gnawing on a rib. Must’a been a bad rack or something to give me a nightmare like this. Alright – gotta calm down. I’m okay…gotta will myself to wake up…time to wake up now… C’mon body – wake up!


JOSIAH


Come over here and take a peak inside

 
CHARLOTTE moves slowly to the front of the coffin and peers down. She jumps back


CHARLOTTE


If this is a bad joke, I don't have a good sense of humor, today. Enough is enough, already. I don't know how you did this, Joey or whatever your name is to make a person look just like me. A dummy - it's a dummy, right? Hey - it's been a blast meeting you, but I got things to do, places to go…

           Aside to mourners

 
‘Okay you guys. You pulled off the ultimate practical joke. Got me fair and square. I give in. C'mon – don't be such grudge holders! You know I was only doing what you would'a done in my place’

 

JOSIAH


It's you in there for real



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22. Notes: in submission

Thought I'd share some thoughts about submission - of the literary type. As is the case with most playwrights, I'm continually searching the web for possible good fits for my literary babies. They really are like babies given the attention, work and copious amounts of love that go into their creation. As is the case with offspring who reach maturity, there is a point where one has to part with them for their own good - and mine.

Progress has been achieved in the submission process including a rejection letter accompanied by a wonderful critique and evaluation of the submitted play. Theatres that are open to unsolicited submissions must be the recipients of thousands of plays and understandably, responding to playwrights individually isn't practical. It's commendable, therefore, when a theatre takes the time to not only respond to a play submission but actually take the time in writing to point out the plays strengths and weaknesses and make suggestions as to changes that would strengthen the overall story line. Let's say that it was one of the nicest rejections received to date.

Some of my other plays were sent packing to try their luck and as yet there has been no response. As if the playwriting process isn't difficult enough, the waiting period to hear back one way or the other is equally if not more stressful. Frequently, there is no response, which in itself is an indication of their fate.

I'm now taking precautions to e-mail my plays to myself before sending them out to ensure that it is in a readable format for the recipients. This move came about after encountering a problem submitting a play electronically when converting one of the older files to the latest version. Checking to ensure the play was successfully sent, somehow the text ended up in the wrong visual format. After a period of ranting and raving and some hair pulling, literally and figuratively, I decided to re-send in spite of a nagging, internal voice telling me to hold off for a bit. Re-sent it, anyway, accompanied by a two-sentence explanation only to discover the next day upon re-examination that the text somehow had adjusted itself and was visually perfect. Also re-confirmed my belief to always heed that inner voice.

While waiting for news, I'm continuing working on "Dead Writes", a fantasy with some comedic tones combined with interesting moral messages and dilemmas for the characters. Definitely a challenge but one worth meeting. Then again, the act of writing plays is always a challenge, no matter what.

When asked the question of the time it takes to complete a play, I quote the line expressed by Edward Albee: "People often ask me how long it takes me to write a play, and I tell them 'all my life." And then some.


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23. Playwright's ruminations - the fix is in

Sitting down in front of the computer, chin in hand and thinking about playwriting. Again. Note the word, "thinking" but not the actual act of taking fingers to keyboard and producing some worthwhile dialogue. Still further delayed the process by going over finished plays and assessing whether they need fixing or editing, something I'm prone to do in both my writing and painting. Frequently, the end result is ruining any progress on whatever project I'm "fixing."

I'm an inordinate "fixer" of all my artistic undertakings, which really don't require further adjusting. Recently, I applied what I swore were the absolute final strokes to a black and white painting first started three years ago, which has been "fixed" over the years. Perhaps this will be the reality and then again, who knows.

In as far as my plays are concerned, some have been altered to the point where all objectivity has been  lost as to the strongest version. Most often, the changes are relegated to small dialogue adjustments or altering what appears to me to be a weak a scene. In the end, a decision has to be made which version is the best version to submit, followed by a period of self-doubt and whether my plays are actually produce-able. Perhaps this is a common pattern with writers in general in that the selection of the right words is paramount to the whole story line. In as far as dialogue is concerned, the character has to utter words and phrases that suit her/his mannerisms, personality and mien and therein lies the challenge.

Although the actual act of submitting plays is a positive move, there is also the self-doubt that creeps in  waiting for updates on their fate. Negative thoughts like:

- perhaps the wrong version was sent - whatever that is
- maybe I don't have what it takes to be a "real" playwright
- given the volume of experienced and produced playwrights, many of whom are familiar names to   
  the public and within the theatre community, do my literary gems stand a chance?

And so the uncertainty continues but something drives me to persevere. The possibility, whatever the odds that  there  is a theatre "out there" somewhere that will see something special in my plays is enough to keep me going and press on. Meanwhile, some fine tuning of the dialogue and changes to the story arc is required to Dead Writes. Really.

P.S.: just read that Larry David's new play, "Fish In the Dark" is a big hit on Broadway. It should only happen to me!  Mazel-tov, Larry...or Mr. David. Good to note that good comedy will always draw a crowd.

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24. SCENES FROM LIFE - A SHORT PLAYETTE. AT THE COFFEE SHOP


SMALL TALK

 
SCENE:  SMALL COFFEE SHOP

AT RISE: A FEMALE (FEMALE 1) BRINGS A TRAY TO A TABLE, PULLS OUT A CHAIR,  SITS DOWN, STARTS TO UNWRAP A SANDWICH AND DRINK HER COFFEE

AN ELDERLY FEMALE (FEMALE 2) AT THE NEXT TABLE EATING A SANDWICH, TURNS AND STUDIES HER.

 
FEMALE 2

Your hair
 

FEMALE 1

Sorry?

 
FEMALE 2

Your hair is nice


FEMALE 1
(touching hair)

Thank you.

 
FEMALE 2

I mean, your hair is reallynice. Who does it?


FEMALE 1

A local hair stylist where I live

 
(Turns her attention to a cell phone)

 
FEMALE 2

My children and my grandchildren have those electronic gadgets


FEMALE 1

My cell?


FEMALE 2

Is that what it’s called?


FEMALE 1

Very handy. Pick up my mail…see what’s happening in the world…
 

FEMALE 2

Hmmm… I still like a good, old fashioned phone that stays in one place

 
FEMALE 1

Hardly use mine


FEMALE 2

Can only use my good, old fashioned, black push-button phone in my apartment, though, but that’s okay. The way I see it, I don’t want the world to hear my conversations. Not that I have anything to hide.  Know what I mean?


FEMALE 1

Got’cha

 
(cell rings as FEMALE 2 watches FEMALE 1 speaking on the cell)


FEMALE 2

See? I heard everything you were saying. Not that I was trying to be nosy or anything. Point I’m making is there’s no privacy these days.

 
FEMALE 1

(staring down at her cell and involved in texting, somewhat ignoring FEMALE 2)

…uh-huh…

 
FEMALE 2

Know what? Before when I was in the bathroom, I heard a woman talking on those things while she was…well you know…peeing. That is like – so disgusting, don’t you think? I mean, couldn’t she live without that thing for the few minutes it would take to use the toilet? And she didn’t even flush! Probably didn’t even wash her hands, either, after!


FEMALE 1

…appointment tomorrow at 10 a.m. with John…

 
FEMALE 2

I’m sorry. You’re busy.
 

 (silence between them for 10 seconds)

 
(cont’d. FEMALE 2) You’re a coffee drinker I would guess?


FEMALE 1

Yup…


FEMALE 2

Don’t you find that coffee loses flavor in a paper cup?


FEMALE 1

...uh-huh...

 
FEMALE 2

People don’t have time to take care of the little things in life, anymore, like taking the time to really talk one-on-one. Human communication is a lost art


(FEMALE 1 loads her tray and starts to get up, preparing to leave, her focus on her cell)


FEMALE 1

Nice talking to you. Have a great day

 
FEMALE 2

Same here.  (calling as she walks away) ‘Love her your hair…’

 
(a female (FEMALE 3) sits down at the table next to FEMALE 2 , drinking coffee and reading a newspaper)
 

FEMALE 2

Always good to keep updated with the latest news. I would give up lots of things before giving up a newspaper that I actually touch and flip the pages. Mind you, I think our kind are dinosaurs

 
FEMALE 3
(inattentive)

Um – I guess…maybe…

 
(FEMALE 2 continues to talk waiting/hoping for a reaction from FEMALE 3)
 

FEMALE 2

Mind you, these days people get all their latest news and speak to each other on those cell phone gadgets but I don’t own one, though…  Don’t even have a computer…my kids wanted to get me one but then I’d have to learn to use it… By the way, your hair is really nice…who does it?

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25. Wishing...and hoping...and thinking...and praying...

Somehow - perhaps it's the arrival of Spring and all that it promises - one anticipates updates as to the fate of one's (mine of course) literary send-outs. More specifically and to put it in simply and succinctly ('that's a lot of sss's, Eleanor'), will any of my plays see a stage this year.

Throughout the year minor dialogue changes were made, a few lines were eliminated or added but for the most part they were sent on their way based on the strength of the story line and characters, to seek their fate. Waiting to receive news about one's plays is comparable, at least for me, to sending your children out to seek their fortune in the jungle of life (feeling very philosophical today) for their own good, if not for the caregiver's good. So they're all "out there" and the wait for any updates is all-consuming wondering and hypothesizing what's happening at the 'other end', so to speak.

"How many more plays are left to be read?" a literary manager might ask a theatre producer and play readers while assessing the amount of plays still waiting to be read  "Seems like there are thousands more waiting to be read."

"We have to narrow it down to just a few promising plays, already," the literary manager will/could/might declare, while checking her/his cell phone for phone messages. "Time is marching on and we have to choose some potential money-makers for the coming season."

"I've come across a promising production," one of the readers could suggest, "although the playwright doesn't have any track record. The play, though, is really a good read."

"Nothing produced, anywhere, in the whole wide world?" the producer would ask of the reader.

"Not according to her biography and CV but really - she's good and this play is and an entertaining read  - really funny!" the reader would affirm.

"Could be problematic if she hasn't got a recognizable name that could sell tickets, though," the literary manager and/or producer would put forward.

"But it's a really good play," the reader would insist. "Why not give her a chance?"

"Not bankable," the literary manager and/or producer would answer, somewhat sadly (one would hope). "File away for future considerations."

Pure speculation on my part but one has to do something waiting for "the word". Then again, depending on what the word is, perhaps ignorance is bliss.

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