November 12, 2010

A One Act, Satirical Play I Wrote

Apr 8, 2008

Guess what I got for you!? That's right, a PLAY! A play that I wrote! In all the begillion things I've ever written I don't think I've ever written a play before. I've directed them and I've probably imagined a couple, but thinking them little more than flights of fancy, I've never tried to pen one.

The thing is, it's actually kinda old! I wrote it back middle of last year. Think I mentioned it in a BLOG Schedule before I went to Laos but never got around to it. Just too damn busy. I even told Jeff about it though, and he was like "Cool, let's PERFORM it." I just looked at him, blinked, and didn't know what to say, as I tried to convert my imagined version into an impromptu...Bangkok park version. Had no idea HOW we would do that, but it was interesting to hear him suggest it.

At the time I was pretty excited about having written it though. It was COOL to me, somethin new and unexpected. It's just one act so I wrote it all in like an hour, and it happened at WORK! It just came to me while I was at my desk...I think (i really don't remember how I came about the idea as far as a train of thought is concerned), but when it came to me, I thought it was so interesting to methat I got out my yellow notepad and started writing it all out.

Honestly, as cheesy as it may sound, I imagined it all taking place on Saturday Night Live (a tv show in america of comedic skits). I guess because I grew up watching that, it is often the setting for some of my creative mental wanderings. I actually harbor a secret desire to write a whole show's worth of skits...but it would help if I ever became famous :-D.

The irony is that this wouldn't be appropriate for SNL at all! Mainly because it's a piece of social SATIRE. The humor is far from overt and it's probably as amusing as it is tragic. Could you imagine SNL running something like that!? Needless to say, while it started out (in my mind) on SNL, it has become a bit bigger than that.

Nevertheless, I even wrote a joke to follow it on the fake news bit they do. It reads: "In a recent news flash, reports have come in that the art community is applauding SNL's theatrical efforts, while the rest of the country changed the channel and had another beer." :-)

For a few weeks now I've been thinking about it, remembering it and thinkin about how I should type it up. I would've done so over this three day weekend, but it turns out I had the notepad at work and didn't realize it.

The entire discourse of the play was written down then and there though and I haven't taken anything out of it and I've added very little. The only thing I had to write here is the setting and character descriptions which I saw clearly in my head already.

Like I said, it's satirical, and technically it's even science-fiction. And yet it deals with something I seem to learn more and more about everyday. Funny how that works, eh? Lol! "Ah, the folly of the misunderstood man.." ;-)

I haven't a title for it (*at the time that I wrote that that was true), though I suppose it should have one. If you have any suggestions, I'll take em (*and that's what I did! :). And Please let me know what you think cuz its novelty has completely worn off on me and I'm just hoping it's something close to what I thought it was when I first wrote it.

Oh, as a disclaimer, I'll also say, I haven't read a script, much less a play in quite sometime, so I'm very RUSTY on the proper way to punctuate or annotate these things. All I've done is try to type it up in a way that makes sense to me and doesn't distract visually. I also realize that, the way I wrote it makes it almost like a cross between a play and a short story. Since I have no plans to put it on stage though, I'm not really gonna worry about it. Just roll with it folks ;). Hope that works. Enjoy.

~M to the KJ



Main Characters~

Johnny: Early twenties, average height and build, attractive and personable. Seems to have found success early on in life through the family business.

John Ronald: Johnny's older brother, 3 years difference. Noticeably larger than Johnny, much more of an athletic build, but gets along well with his brother in business and family.

The Mother: Early fifties, showing her age but still a strong woman, reserved as that strength may be. Nothing but pride and trust in her sons.

Francine: Johnny's fiancee. Blonde, perfectly pretty, sweet looking, slightly younger, but mature enough to be very much in love.

Stage and Setting~

The year is 2062. The world is a different place. That which was constantly called progress in the 1900s, is considered a deranged lapse in logic on the natural order of the world. Diversity is nothing to be valued anymore, it only brings conflict. That is clear now. Advanced forms of population control in the hands of the 'majority' rewrote the social experiment of "equality"--a word now so rarely used that young adults often misunderstand it.

Suddenly, ONE YEAR, certain races stopped being ABLE to reproduce in certain places. The Majority became the judges of the world in an invisible court of "law." They slipped something into the water, or maybe the food, but....soon enough the joy and tears that often come with pregnancy in various parts of the world began to diminish and disappear. It was subtle at first, but as soon as it was noticeable, the truth became too frightening to talk about openly. What else could they do? No one could imagine. What else could they do?

The abandoned ships of separatist values resurged and were given new terms and titles, an altered flag to boot: new words for once out-dated beliefs, like the Past had been reborn but needed to distance itself from its conceiver.

At last old men had an excuse to do what their great-grandfathers wanted them to do.

On stage we find a polished living room that opens out to the audience. The features resemble more closely that of an upper-class dwelling 100 years prior, or possibly the 1920s than those inhabitating it realize. Rich cherry oak seems to peek out from behind thick rugs and cotton handmade doilies draping the end-tables. Two plants, a couple small pieces of art adorn the wooden walls, and a few family pictures are spaced evenly about the room. Books along one wall, where they have been grouped together by color.

While the room isn't small, today it seems crowded. Ten fully-developed individuals are standing about chatting, enjoying a drink--before dinner perhaps. Some even have champagne. They are all adults and all of the same skin color.

The men are dressed formally, but none look uncomfortable. All of them are in good-shape. All of them are wearing white, long sleeve, button-up shirts and dark trousers. No tie, but most have dinner jackets. Some are in navy blue jackets, some in beige, some in black. Their age ranges, but nowhere below 20, and not above 45 either.

The women are almost dressed identical as well. The choice of articles define the wearer as female, even though the thick materials seem to hide what a woman is. Each is wearing a starched, dark blue, pleated skirt that fastens well-above the hips. Between the length and the folds, once upon a time, such a piece of cloth might have been mistaken for a curtain. Above the waistline, they are all wearing light colored, buttoned blouses. Creams and whites and the occasional faint floral pattern. Their hair varies in color and style but none too short. Some of them are even wearing a thin, black leather belt.

The attire and the guests' calm, pleasant, complacent behavior makes it difficult to tell whether this is a formal and special occasion or just an ordinary dinner gathering. Everybody appears to be very happy to be there. Most of them truly are.

There are no children, nor pets, of any kind, present.


Our attention is directed towards Johnny, who isn't wearing his jacket and seems to be milling about the most, exchanging laughs and pats on the back as he goes. A hug here and there. Everyone there seems to like him a lot, maybe even cares about him. As he does this, he is sleekly stealing glances from his hopeful fiancee Francine as she politely participates in a conversation she is not interested in. She's only interested in one thing tonight: "What on Earth is Johnny Ronald about to tell everyone? He said....even I didn't know."

Johnny's mother watches all of this with pride. Her two boys are the arms and legs of the family, and they are sure to carry it far in their late father's footsteps. She loves them both samely, though the boys are very...she would never say "different," but definitely unalike. John is much more of a "man's man" as they used to say. Tall and large, serious but not against a good someone else's expense. Johnny is the charismatic one, with a personality as charming as it is respectable and sincere. He was even unusually creative, a trait she had to displace when he was a child since there was so little use for such a thing "these days." But nothing made her happier than seeing them grown and together, surrounded by friends and friends of the family. "My, they make this family look good!" she thought.

As if hearing his Mother's thought, Johnny looks over at her and makes eye contact. Her smile widens and he smiles his love to her. It is time now. And he knows it. He prays she takes it well.

Johnny excuses himself from the two friends talking to him, walks back over to the coffee table in the middle of the room and picks up his crystal champagne glass. He takes a pen out of his shirt pocket and taps the glass three times. Each ting sings with refinement. He's smiling but nobody notices his hand is shaking a little. The guests--now his guests--stand and gather around the young man in an arc: a quarter moon of faces devoid of worry, with a hidden sea of intranquility standing in the middle.

He sets the glass back down, looks around, is pleased, and prepares to address his audience.

Johnny: Thank you for coming. As you know, I called you all here today to make an important announcement. Not necessarily important to you, but most important to me. I called you in particular because I love and trust you the most--and I've been looking forward to this day too long.

Johnny's Mother: [interrupting] Oh, what is it dear? Are you going to take a year off to work in a reform school in Botswana, make those blackies a little whiter? [smiling as she looks around at everyone] You know that's something our Johnny would do and it would've made his father so proud.
[approving looks all around]

Johnny: [sheepish] No Mom, that's not it...

[the mother finally notices the nervousness]

Mother: [concerned voice] Oh? something the matter dear?

[everyone leans in a little closer]

Johnny: No Mom...actually it feels good to finally be able to tell you this. It should have been done long ago...but I've...I've been scared thanks to the blasted Ministry of Sameness! [concerned glances exchanged amongst the guests. Johnny doesn't notice and continues, focusing on his own hands for a moment before meeting their eyes.]

Johnny: I don't want to keep you in suspense any longer than I already have. Especially for fear of making this seem like more of an ordeal than it really is [He tries to smile]. It's actually quite small, in the big scheme of things...don't know why I waited so long to talk... [his voice fades and his attention is again drawn down to his hands which are holding each other]...ANYWAY, I'm rambling [He looks up, beams a smile, embarrassed a little, but everyone smiles right back]...getting right to it!

Friends, family, Francine...[a long look into her shy, pretty eyes as he clasps her hand tight for a second. She blushes. He looks around, takes a deep breath]...I want you all to know...that I'm....left....handed.

[GASPS! DISBELIEF! Stunned expressions all around! Horror is apparent. No words, just dumbfounded faces. Mother feels faint and has to ease herself down into the chair. Francine covers her face with both hands, eyes bulging over the tips of her fingers. No one else moves. He takes a deep breath, assures himself and goes on speaking as confidently as he can.]

Johnny: I knowww, I know it's a shock to some of you. I've gone to so much trouble to hide it and be a righty like everybody else....but I can't change it. I am what I am--but I AM still me. [He says the last line as he steps toward frozen Francine, eyes still wide, staring off at the floor. He reaches out to her and gently touches the sides of her arm. She finally comes back from her unraveling future and looks up at him, like a lost child looking for familiarity. Slowly she takes her hands away from her face as her eyes well-up, looking back and forth into his. Finally she blurts out]

Francine: It's Like...It's Like I Don't even Know YOU ANYMORE!!! [She turns and runs off hysterically like a 10-year-old girl, arms flailing, legs kicking, shaking her head like she's trying to hurl the tears out of her eyes, a blur of blonde locks fades through a dark doorway, still crying out. Now it's Johnny's turn to be surprised.]

[Impulsively, he steps to follow whom he had hoped would be his greatest ally, but his older brother intercepts him. John puts his hands on Johnny's shoulders, his head hangs down a little as he does so. Johnny watches over John's shoulder as Francine disappears, then he looks at his big brother's hanging head. Johnny doesn't dare look around. He knows if she couldn't accept it...the rest of them won't be any kinder. Her reaction may seem extreme to them but only because they have more self-control. And love him less unconditionally.]

Johnny: Brother?

John: Don't Johnny. [He looks up, disappointed and sad, and without breaking this steeled eye-contact, his right hand slides down and removes the antique pen from Johnny's breast pocket. Johnny looks down as he does this, to glimpse it, to believe it, but does not move otherwise.]

Johnny:[voice now shaking a little] ....Dad's...lucky pen...

John: Let's be thankful he never knew how you would use it.

[Stung by this Johnny reaches to lay his hand on his brother's shoulder or neck as his eyes tear up, reaches for compassion. But John shies away from the gesture disdainfully. Johnny stops, looking at his hand stopped in midair. His left hand.]

[John lets go and steps over to the mother who's been sitting in statuesque silence, hands in her lap, staring at the floor as if her perfect life just crashed like a vase in front of her.]

[John takes his mother's arm at the elbow and hand and helps her up. She rises as if in a trance. Hypnotized by disillusionment. He escorts her out of the room quietly and as they go she turns and looks over her shoulder, straining her neck, reaching out to her precious son with her eyes, but unable to stop herself from leaving in shame. As they exit, the other guests slowly disperse the other way, behind his back.]

[Dejected, he turns and faces the audience. Looks down at his left hand, maybe sheds an angry tear. 10 seconds later the lights dim and police lights flash. A short clip of a siren is heard, and a red light swings through the living-room before a man comes on a megaphone.]

Policeman: This is the police, here on the authority of the Ministry of Sameness. It's been reported that someone classifiably different is in the premises. We demand you surrender yourself immediately. Come out with both hands up...[mumbles in slow rough voice] god-damned LEFTY!

[The blood red light continues to swing through the black room like an axe. Johnny looks up at the sky with one last desperate "why me?" on his lips, then drops his head and shakes it in despair.]

{Lights out}.

The end.


mynamesnotalice said...

I really enjoyed the imagery and descriptions of the characters' behavior. I was surprised by the "why me?" ending. Was it because he wants to be like everyone else? i read his decision to come out to his family as a defiant gesture rather than lamenting his "bad" fortune. also, the suspense was cool :)

KJ Ink said...

YAY! You liked it! :D
Okay, now that I got that outta the way I'll put my inner child away and answer your question ;).

I'm surprised that you're surprised ;).
Can the feeling that often makes say "why me" only be interpreted one way? I'm tempted to wait for you to answer so we can "talk" about this but...In the name of expediency I'll go ahead and assume your answer would be no. And if you thought about that feeling, truly put yourself in his shoes at that moment, you might understand that (like most really "different" people), he may have accepted his difference, but that doesn't mean he truly understands it. And until he does, despair will always be a possibility whenever his differences bring suffering to his existence. Cuz if he truly got it and saw its PURPOSE in his life, the suffering would make perfect sense and would trouble him so much less than before.

KJ Ink said...

Make sense? (forgot to ask!)