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This Content From 2003 (or earlier) see index

[outlandish] | [texts] | [music] | [ mannafesto ] | [ideas]

Art... Text!

Originally Staged 11/30/2001 in the Shop Theatre, via The Experimental Theater Wing (New York University Tisch School of the Arts). Directed by Josh Koenig. Lights by Shaun Fillion. Sound by Alex Gideon. With Frank Robbins as Phillip, Andrew Elsas as John, Jamie Proctor as Sarah, Maria-Elena Lopez Frank as Celia, John Norman Schneider as Conner, Melissa Zygmant as Athena and Jonathan Ross as Sal. Everyone gets a chance to play the shadow.

Note: In this version I wrote out sketches of what we devised to go into the dream sequences. They are meant to be made up by the ensemble to convey the basic theme. If you ever want to do this show, throw out what I did there and just get your own thing cooking that conveys some of the same information.

nitewerk

text by josh koenig

 

---Cast of Characters---

Phillip: A lately passionless bisexual

John: Misfit and sometime emotional supermen

Sarah: An old-feeling young woman

Celia: Idealistic beauty and do-gooder

Conner: A popular guy, with all the according baggage

Sal: A sage butcher with a past

Athena: A goddess of wisdom reincarnated. Homeless

The Shadow: An ancient thing inside us all

 

 

 

MOVEMENT ONE

1.0 - Introduction, Invocation, Dreamscape

[dreamscape: a series of images, planted mockery from the audience, fragments of text, music. A few minutes of abstract flickers to cleanse the audience’s palette. How it ends: drumbeat. all actors collapse. blackout. those not in 1.1 exit. projection: "nitewerk". blankets fall from ceiling onto the four characters in 1.1]

1.1 - Protagonists waking, wondering

SARAH: [sleepy] Alex? Alex? ... Huh. No goodbyes, no pretending with the phone numbers. I kind of liked that one. Clean. Very clean. Ohhhhhh, how long has this been going on? How many mornings waking up tired, alone, tired and alone, tired and alone. With someone else crowding the bed, tired and alone.

I feel it deep. Deep down tired, not just from last night or the night before, down in my bones. I feel old, like I'm starting to sour. I'm a young woman, goddamnit. I'm a young woman and my body is tight and my stomach is flat... and yet I feel so old. Why is that? Why today of all days have I become an old woman? Maybe there's a little youth left in a hot shower. Maybe enough for today.

[phone rings] Hello? Oh, hi mom... Mom... Listen…

CELIA: How do I feel good this morning? I feel good. I think I feel good every morning. Why is that? It can't be normal, can it? It must be because I go to bed with a light spirit. I wonder what it's like for everyone else...

But I never remember my dreams. Why can't I? I'm sure they're just as peaceful as I feel when I wake up. They must be or else I'd wake up tense, right? [sighs] What will today bring? What surprises? What opportunities? My mother told me that the world is as magical as you choose it to be, and I choose it to be a very magic place. The sun in the morning is magic enough if you look at it with the right sort of eyes. Today will be a good day. Today I will make a difference

JOHN: Is there something wrong with me? Sometimes I hate people. Really hate. Like, like that asshole who carries around that little teddy bear. Like, he actually cares about this bear, you know? He's had it since he was a kid and it really means something to him. That's cool, ok? Whatever gets you through the day.

But he's like advertising this bear thing, you know? He's like broadcasting it or something and that's what fucking pisses me off. Like he thinks it'll get him chicks or something. Fucking exploiting himself. Like, we're all tortured and sensitive, ok? No need to stick it in our faces. I was raised to be considerate, hide my weak spots like a normal person. Some people.

PHILLIP: Oh Jesus, why bother? Why rise? Why? Really, I'm asking. So I can do the same shit that I did yesterday? Same shower, same coffee, same day, same friends, same night, same drinks, same darkness waiting at the end of the tunnel. Why not just lie here and rot? I wonder, who gets bedsores in this day and age. It might be rather novel. Something to talk about, break the monotony. "Hey have you seen my latest bedsore? It took me two weeks to get. I think it's infected!" [laughs]

To just lie here until it all comes crashing down: booted out for non-payment of rent, sleeping on the street where the landlord dumped me, slowly turning the same color as the pavement, taking on the subtle tones of diesel exhaust and old chewing gum. Melting into the gutter until one day I just slip away, down the drain and out to sea. That's life.

[rising for a moment] Why bother? The truth is, lying here is just as boring as not.

1.2 ATHENA BEGS SARAH

[diner. Sarah is at work, idling, Athena comes in looking for some breakfast]

SARAH: Can I help you?

ATHENA: Good morning. I know you. Do you remember me?

SARAH: Ummm... yeah. Yeah, I've seen you around.

ATHENA: You look troubled. What is wrong, child?

SARAH: [surprising herself] I was- I was talking to my mother

ATHENA: You should be happy to talk with your mother

SARAH: Fucking... Right.

ATHENA: What?

SARAH: She always want's to know how it is that I live the way I do. Like it's totally incomprehensible to her that I can be in control of my life, that I choose my own destiny and I don't need anyone else to get along.

ATHENA: Might I trade you some advice for a plate of breakfast?

SARAH: I'm really not supposed to do that.

ATHENA: Just a plate of leftovers, child. I'm known for my advice.

SARAH: Yeah... Ok, I guess so.

ATHENA: Good. You are having troubles with your mother. She doesn't understand you. Maybe that is because you are young and she is old

SARAH: What? Just because I'm not doing what she did? Just because I'm not husband shopping and I'm not some dried-up career bitch? Please!

ATHENA: You are right, I know your mother–

SARAH: No you don't know my mother. She acts like she's done it all, but that's such hypocritical shit. You know, so what my mother burned her bra and marched in the streets. You know she actually sat me sat me down last time I was home to talk about my quote-unquote reputation?

ATHENA: Yes, yes, I can see how she treats you. But does she know how good you are at taking care of yourself?

SARAH: [pause] I don't think she gets it. I'm just trying to take some fucking responsibility because, you know, if I don't than who will, right?

ATHENA: That is correct, but-

SARAH: You think I wouldn't love to give up, fall "in love" with somebody, give in to that fantasy?

ATHENA: Well who wouldn't?

SARAH: [sigh] Yeah, but I can't just run out and do that because what if-

ATHENA: You still seem to run into an awful lot of boys though. Always a new one on your arm. Don't look at me like that. Just because you don't notice me doesn't mean I don't notice you. I know things, child. I give good advice because I know things. Yes, a new one every week: bright young things.

SARAH: Look, whatever you may think about my life, that's totally different: you go in, you get off, you get out of there before you get hurt. End of story. And that's fine. Fun. Fine fucking fun

ATHENA: [loosing patience] So you've got it all figured out then? Right?

SARAH: You know what? Fuck you. Just because I can't always stick to some philosophy and maybe I start to try for a little something more and maybe I start to think that me and this guy are... something, and then maybe, like always, I get totally burned... fuck you, ok? I'm fucking trying to take care of myself from now on and that's the bottom line

ATHENA: [singing] You are a rock. You are an island

SARAH: Fuck you

ATHENA: I'm just saying...

SARAH: What? What are you saying?

ATHENA: Humans weren't meant to be so alone all the time, child

SARAH: Yeah well... Yeah. [pause] Enjoy your food. [exits]

[fade]

1.3 MISFITS AT THE DINER

[The Misfit boys the morning, errrr… afternoon. The diner, as before. John very bored, Phillip pontificating and loving every minute as the "center of attention"]

PHILLIP: But then the last time I RoboTripped, I drank two bottles of Robotussin and popped about twenty Dramamines. And at some point I went up to my room, put a CD on repeat and just sat there sweating profusely for about 14 hours. My roommates were, like, about to take me to the hospital but I managed to, you know, mutter that I was fine every half an hour or so. That's what they said anyway...

JOHN: Yo I don’t wanna cut you off, but are you still going to help me find a job today like you said, 'cuase I really need to if I'm going to handle my half of this month's rent.

PHILLIP: What?

JOHN: Cuz, you know, we were supposed to do it this morning.

PHILLIP: What the fuck time is it, John?

JOHN: Two-thirty

PHILLIP: And were you or were you not supposed to wake me up?

JOHN: Yeah, I know. I had to do laundry

PHILLIP: I see. Shaking hands with the unemployed again? [makes jerk-off gesture]

JOHN: Yeah, you wish. I had to take my laundry over to my moms to use her dryer. The one downstairs is fucking broken.

PHILLIP: Fucking cheap ass landlord... [mischievous] So wait a second. You're telling me you whacked off in your mother's bathroom? That’s kinky! [patting cheek] There's hope for you yet

JOHN: [a little disturbed] Right

PHILLIP: Dude, I was just fooling around

JOHN: I know

PHILLIP: Do we have to have the talk again?

JOHN: No

PHILLIP: I mean, your pathetic ego can accept the fact that, although I have in the past hooked up with men, I don't particularly want to throw it into you right now

JOHN: [uncomfortable] I know that, yo

PHILLIP: Ok, fine. [shaking his head] Boggles the mind

JOHN: What?

PHILLIP: You're so convinced that none of the girls you're always hung up on are even remotely into you, and at the same time you're totally sure that every guy who is maybe even just a quarter gay automatically wants to jump on your ass

JOHN: Whatever, man. As long as this job you told me about i'nt at some beefcake strip club, I'm cool... We can't all get checks from mom and dad when we don't feel like working this month

PHILLIP: Hey, low blow.

JOHN: Sorry, man. I'm just kinda sorta serious about this job thing is all

PHILLIP: I told you I had it covered, right?

JOHN: Yeah

PHILLIP: So it's covered, ok? Now where was I?

[enter Sarah]

JOHN: Uhhh... You were all fucked up on Robotussin?

PHILLIP: Yeah, right... All I remember was being in a white space-

SARAH: [interrupts] Telling stories again?

PHILLIP: Hey Sarah, just telling John here about the good old days. You met John yet?

SARAH: Guess I have now

PHILLIP: We go way back, [to john] right?

JOHN: Yeah. Hi. We're roommates. I just moved in

SARAH: So what do you do, John?

JOHN: Ummm... I dunno. I do some carpentry, some construction, I'm not in any unions yet. Sort of freelance. But that's just for money. I'm in a band too

SARAH: Priceless. Well it's nice to meet you. Coffee?

PHILLIP: S’what we’re here for.

JOHN: Umm... can I have room for cream, Sarah?

SARAH: Sure thing. John. [pours, exits]

JOHN: [moment of humiliation[ You told me about her. Didn't you and her used to...

PHILLIP: A while ago. Not any more. Didn't work out

JOHN: But she's hot!

PHILLIP: A lot of people in this world are hot.

JOHN: Yeah, right

PHILLIP: Anyway, I’m in the white space, it’s fucking all white. Everywhere. And this voice was repeating over and over "why did you do this? don't do this to me again!" And all I can think of is that it was my mind, you know, my brain, talking to me

JOHN: Shit dude... How'd you come down off that?

PHILLIP: Mostly smoked cigarettes and watched TV

JOHN: Yeah

PHILLIP: You can get through a lot if you watch enough TV

JOHN: Yeah

PHILLIP: You know, so I lost a week of my life, but after that I started feeling better I got that nice-ass feeling for a few days. Like I'm Jesus, you know?

JOHN: College, man: what a scene.

PHILLIP: How come you never went?

JOHN: I thought about trying to go in high school, but, you know, it woulda been more for my parents then for me. Now it just seems... I dunno, pointless.

PHILLIP: Huh. Took me 4 years of that bullshit to figure that out.

JOHN: So you felt like Jesus

PHILLIP: Best way I can describe it... That's why you can't trust really mellow people, man

JOHN: How do you figure that?

PHILLIP: Well, like, who in their right mind in this day and age is all mellow and shit all the time? Right? They're either all fucked up like I was or they're hiding something

JOHN: I don't know...

PHILLIP: I'm telling you, bro. Back in the day I volunteered for a beat-up women's place. Whadya call it... a shelter. Like I was mostly around to watch the door to keep out the guys who weren't allowed in.

JOHN: Shit, that musta been weird

PHILLIP: For real. The scariest dudes are the really mellow ones. These guys, you swear they look like they wouldn't hurt a fly, but you put a half-rack of beer in 'em, get 'em a little mad, and they just tweak out, you know?

JOHN: I know how that works

PHILLIP: That what your dad was like?

JOHN: Not- Sort of. Not like he ever did anything all that bad. Like, he never hit me or anything, just yelled sometimes... But he could be the meanest most selfish motherfucker in the world, like, his eyes were... I dunno, it was like someone else was driving or something

PHILLIP: S'what I'm saying

JOHN: I guess, but I mean, still... Like, you know that girl Celia?

PHILLIP: Yeah... yeah! I know her, seen her around. Dude, she's not mellow. She's just... I dunno, weak.

JOHN: Whatever! Weak? She does more, like, real stuff in a day than you do in a fucking year, jackass

PHILLIP: Ooooooohhh... Celia works at the soup kitchen. She does stuff with her life... Ooooohh, I'm John and I'm in loooove with her because she does good deeeeeds... my looser friend Phillip doesn't do anything

JOHN: Shuddup, man. What do you know about it?

PHILLIP: I'm telling you. You know, Celia's hot and all, and you should fucking try to ask her out or something 'cuz I'm tired of hearing you whine about women, but she's weak, man. She can't deal with the real world

JOHN: I still say she deals with the real world a lot more than you do

PHILLIP: What, serving soup to bums? Get real man. I mean, it's admirable and all, but... you just have to see it. There are certain people who just can't handle what life really is

JOHN: Whatever. At least she's out of bed before 2 in the afternoon.

PHILLIP: Yeah, well, what are you gonna do...

JOHN: Pay the check so we can get on with this shit?

PHILLIP: Ok, turbo, let's roll... [they start to get up, freeze]

[enter sarah, picking up tip, wiping down table]

SARAH: [nostalgic] Phillip, the weekend warrior. A fast-lane casualty if there ever was one. I wonder what he's up to now. Boyfriend or girlfriend. Or no one. The new guy? No. [sigh] No one, if I know him. Too much like me. Still a lousy tipper. [blackout]

1.5 Conner in passing

[street. Athena is in her usual spot with her sign: "charms for sale". Phillip walking by, drinking some coffee, stops to chat]

PHILLIP: Hey, babe. How are you doing this morning? (pause) I brought you some coffee from the diner

ATHENA: You are a kind man, Phillip

PHILLIP: Just doin' my job

ATHENA: May I give you advice in return at least?

PHILLIP: Always

ATHENA: People are't supposed to be so alone all the time

PHILLIP: What?

ATHENA: Human beings are social creatures. Hermits, in any form, are a mutation. This is my advice to everyone in this city today: venture outside your fortress and let the world in.

PHILLIP: That's sweet, babe. But we all built those walls for a reason.

ATHENA: Of course. And what ails you today that you have to come and bring me hot coffee?

PHILLIP: Nothing. Just bored

ATHENA: So you say, and I can see it is the truth. You can't have always been so... relaxed about life

PHILLIP: I guess not. I mean, for a while, like back in school, I was mister fucking cause of the week. But it all seemed so put-on, even at the time. Like it was just such a scene. I was also kinda out of it for a while. Too many drugs. I dunno, these days I make a point of living in the real world. I get drunk and pass out on the floor in front of the TV like a normal person. Thing is, the real world's a boring place to be

ATHENA: A marvel. That a person can maintain boredom with so much going on, with planets spinning and wind blowing and atoms humming and birds-

[Conner enters on his way to the Butcher Shop]

PHILLIP: Yeah, Riiiight. [seeing Conner on his way to pass by] Here, check this out. [catcalling in a queeny voice] Wooohooo, baby! Yeah, shake it. Work that thing!

CONNER: [angry] The fuck did you just say to me?

PHILLIP: ["normal" voice] I was commenting on the perfect curve of your ass, man

CONNER: Fuck off, Phillip

PHILLIP: But really, Conner, it's quite stunning. I almost can't help it

CONNER: Yeah, very funny

PHILLIP: You know that once they did a study where they sat down a bunch of supposedly straight men, half of them admitted homophobes, and had them watch gay porn, and they had these little things hooked up to their cocks to measure any increase in diameter and you know what they found out?

CONNER: Fuck you, I don't have time for this bullshit

PHILLIP: [calling after him, again in a queeny voice] The phobic ones all got big old hard-ons! Off the scale! Yeah! Work it! [pause, sigh] Now that's truly diverting

ATHENA: Why is causing that man discomfort fun for you?

PHILLIP: Come on, he's so wound up. And he's an asshole. Besides I've known him for years...

ATHENA: That doesn't explain why his humiliation is your pleasure.

PHILLIP: Look, whatever. He's a dick, ok?, and he's had the same girlfriend, like, for ever. So there's no reason for him so even-

ATHENA: Didn't you once try to win that girl away from him?

PHILLIP: [pause] So? [pause] You know what, baby? I gotta go. Things to see, people to do. I'll catch you on the flip side

1.6 SALS SHOP I

[the butcher shop. Sal taking out his aggression on some meat, pounding the hell out of it. Conner enters and he quickly returns to normal, hiding the ruined meat]

SAL: So what can I do for you, buddy?

CONNER: You got ready-made burger meat, in patties?

SAL: Only the best

CONNER: I need about 25 pounds, like 100 patties

SAL: Big party?

CONNER: BBQ

[enter Celia]

SAL: Hey darlin'

CONNER: 'Sup

CELIA: Hello Sal. Hey Conner.

SAL: Just a minute, darlin'. See, here's the thing buddy. I don't have that many ready made right now. Come back tomorrow?

CONNER: Yeah, ok, no problem. Yo, Celia, check it out. I'm bustin' a big party on the roof, you know full moon and all, so it might get a little crazy. It's too loud, you know, if it's too much, I'd appreciate it if you could deal with me personally before you complain to the super again.

CELIA: Ok. Thanks for letting me know.

CONNER: You know, you can totally come up if you want. I mean, I guess everyone in the building is sort of invited

CELIA: Thanks... I'm working all weekend

CONNER: Where do you work, again?

CELIA: Ummm... volunteering, actually

CONNER: That's cool. You know what? Seems like every time I talk to you you're always workin' or doin' charity or somethin'. You need learn to kick back. Might be good for you to come up and let loose for a while.

CELIA: Maybe

CONNER: A'ieght... you be missin' out if you don't. [exits]

SAL: That a friend of yours?

CELIA: Sort of. He's my upstairs neighbor.

SAL: Looks like bad news to me

CELIA: What do you mean?

SAL: He's got a wicked little knot in him. I can feel it from here

CELIA: Conner? He's just inconsiderate sometimes. But he can be sweet too if he wants to. When I first moved in he helped me carry my furniture up 4 flights of stairs and I didn't even have to ask him to

SAL: I'm sure he's a teddy bear, but he's just all... knotted up inside. You watch people long enough, you get to where you can spot it a mile away

CELIA: Yeah?

SAL: Yeah. People get so caught up in their own stories they loose touch with whatever's true about them, but the truth always feels better

CELIA: I should write that down

SAL: Awww... now you're just blowin' smoke

CELIA: So how are things, Sal?

SAL: Things are things

CELIA: You always say that

SAL: You always ask

CELIA: You know, one of these days you're going to break down and tell me something about yourself

SAL: I don't think there's a whole lot you wanna know about me, sweetheart. Just another long boring story. You come to chat or you here for more soup fixins?

CELIA: Uh-huh, do you have anything for me?

SAL: I sure do, so long as you don't ask what part I cut it from

CELIA: Ummm... ok. I don't think they would mind even if they knew. They seem glad just to get something warm, whatever it is. Makes me feel a little bit guilty when I go home and open up my fridge, you know?

SAL: I hear that. Try reconciling fillet meignon and world hunger. You know it takes more than 8 pounds of grain to make a pound of beef?

CELIA: Don't cows graze?

SAL: Yeah, for a while, then they put 'em in the factory, fatten 'em up for the slaughterhouse. Factory feed would be 8 pounds of bread for every pound of fat beef.

CELIA: It all seems rather horrible

SAL: Nature didn't make all that much all that pretty, darlin'. We ain’t doin’ much better.

CELIA: But the whole thing, factories, it all seems so unnatural. Still, I suppose people have to eat, and then there are all the people who work at making meat. Where would you be if it all ended?

SAL: Somewhere else, I suppose. Maybe be a sailor

CELIA: It's just too complicated for me to do anything about, anyway

SAL: Sure, darlin'. Don't you worry a bit. Here's your soup vittles, on the house of course

CELIA: Thank you Sal

SAL: Any time

[she turns to leave, enter John]

CELIA: Oh, hi

JOHN: Hey, Celia! Ummm... yeah, what are you up to?

CELIA: Going back to the shelter for the rest of the afternoon

JOHN: Oh. Cool.... cool. Yeah, I need to get a job.

CELIA: Are you broke?

JOHN: Not totally, but soon, you know? Plus, I'm going crazy just hanging around all the time.

[pause]

CELIA: Umm... Do you want to come to a party tomorrow night?

JOHN: Sure! Where?

CELIA: My building. This guy I know is throwing it. On the roof, ummm...

JOHN: That's awesome. I'd love to come. Can I bring my roommate?

CELIA: Ok, yeah. So... I have to go

JOHN: Yeah, ok. Ok. uhhh... see you tomorrow then

CELIA: Alright. [exits]

[John turns to Sal]

SAL: You're breakin' my heart, kid

JOHN: What?

SAL: Come on, you know. She's a sweet girl

JOHN: [laughs] Yeah?

SAL: She's right in the neighborhood too, you know

JOHN: I know. What's good today?

SAL: Porterhouse is extra thick

JOHN: Gimme two fat ones

SAL: Sure thing. You know these ain't cheap steaks, kid. If you're running low I can recommend-

JOHN: Roommate’s paying

SAL: [grinning, fetching meat] I hear that. [hands over package] Here you go. Have a better one

JOHN: You too, man

SAL: You know it. G'nite. [John exits]

[big light change and music as The Shadow makes entrance]

SHADOW: [after a while] Hello Salvadore

SAL: [looks up, pause] Get out

SHADOW: Oh come now, have a care for an old friend. It's been a while since I've had a good bone to cut my teeth on

SAL: I told you to leave

SHADOW: Just a thin cut for a hungry old pal, Sal. I saw that package you gave that bright eyed little bitch

SAL: I don't sell your kind of meat anymore. Out of my store

SHADOW: Write it off, eh Sal? Think you can forget where you came from? I remember when you were a kid, the trouble

SAL: That was then

SHADOW: You think that kind of thing just goes away? It's still in you. I can feel it. Have you learned your history, boy?

SAL: [hefting the cleaver] It's time for you to leave. [sound of thunder]

SHADOW: Of course. Think about it Sal. You never know when you'll need me again. It's been a pleasure... [exits slowly]

SAL: [long sigh, looks a cleaver in hand, puts down quickly] It's the binge principle. The way things fester, gestate, pressurize and then come out in a rush - hours of boredom and stagnation bursting open, a sack of rotting meat overfull with maggots, a wet pop. They just kept breeding...

[crossfade to Phillip, intro to dreamworld]

PHILLIP: The equal and opposite reaction, of course, is the burnout, the long slow consumers demise. The occasional frenzies becoming more and more frequent and less and less wild, until finally you settle into the steady binary cycle. Want and satisfaction shorn of all decor, any clutter, baggage, distraction. [lying down, sound of heavy rain] Grey-green oblivion to mask the suicidal race to the sea. That night I dreamt of something that mattered [fade to black]

1.7 DREAMS

[projection: "Phillip’s Dream". Lights up on what seems to be a protest rally]

PHILLIP: We’re not going to take it any more!
CROWD: Yeah!

PHILLIP: We’re tired of the big guy picking on the little guy!

CROWD: Yeah!

PHILLIP: We’re gonna stand up!

CROWD: Yeah!

PHILLIP: We’re gonna fight ‘em on the beaches, we’re gonna fight ‘em on the streets, we’re gonna fight ‘em in out living rooms, we’re gonna fight ‘em on our couches!

CROWD: YEAH!

[crowd collapses. Now it’s Phillip and "Ralph Nader", doing lines of coke]

NADER: That was an excellent speech, Phillip.

PHILLIP: Really, thank you so much. You know, I have so much respect for you, you are the man, you really know what-

NADER: You want some? [offers line]

PHILLIP: Oh yeah! Thanks a lot! [snorts]

NADER: But seriously, Phillip, the work you do it so important. You’re getting a message across that very few other people can.

PHILLIP: Really?

NADER: That’s right, and you’re committed to your cause, right?

[the dynamic shifts to that of a football coach psyching up a linebacker]

PHILLIP: Yeah!

NADER: So you better be pumped up, right!

PHILLIP: Yeah!

NADER: You gotta get in there and make a difference!

PHILLIP: Make a difference!

NADER: You’re going to fuck their shit up!

PHILLIP: I’m gonna fuck ‘em up!

NADER: You’re going to kick some ass!

PHILLIP: Kick some ass!

NADER: Kick their ass!

PHILLIP: Kick ass!

NADER: Yeah!

PHILLIP: Yeah!

NADER: Yeah!

PHILLIP: Yeah!

NADER: Ok, go!

[Phillip charges, knocking down people like bowling pins. Meanwhile, the Nader actor has become the Shadow]

PHILLIP: TOUCHDOWN!

[the fallen actors become a "studio audience", Phillip mugs for them, getting laughs]

SHADOW: Phillip.

PHILLIP: Who is there?

SHADOW: It is I, your worst nightmare.

PHILLIP: Well, be that as it may, I will still destroy you. [engages ‘light saber’, mimes holding a sword and makes "buzz" noise. Studio audience: "ooh"]

SHADOW: We shall see who destroys who. [engages his own ‘light saber’]

[They duel. Lots of studio audience reaction. When near defeat, the shadow suddenly stops with the pretense]

SHADOW: What the fuck are you doing?

PHILLIP: Light-saber fighting.

SHADOW: Light saber fighting? There’s nothing there.

PHILLIP: I know, but-

SHADOW: Light sabers aren’t real, Phil. You’re holding your hands together and making a buzzing noise. That’s pathetic.

PHILLIP: Yeah, but-

SHADOW: You wanna try something real?

[crosses down, the others form a ring in Fight Club style. The shadow kicks Phillip’s ass]

INSULT: Why can’t you be more like your brother?

INSULT: What’s with that haircut?

INSULT: You give lousy head

INSULT: I just want to be able to see other people

INSULT: I just don’t think you’re ready

[Phillip collapses, a final round of insults]

INSULT: I never got off once

INSULT: Nobody believes you

INSULT: Don’t bother calling

INSULT: You smoke cigarettes like a little fucking girl

INSULT: You really let us all down

SHADOW: Who are you trying to impress? Have you ever listened to yourself talk? You sound like a fucking idiot. [blackout]

[Projection: "Celia’s Dream". Lights up on the opening tableaux: Celia staring out at us while someone mimes pointing a gun at her head. The others form various violent still images.]

[Kid with gun chases Celia, turns it on himself, chases more. she is caught forced to watch him as he shoots himself]

STUDIO AUDIENCE: Awwwwww…

[The catcher does a happy dance, Celia comes downstage]

STUDIO AUDIENCE: Yaaaaaay!

CELIA: So in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue, and he was the first white person to come to America. And he met the indians, who came here from India, and they were best friends and they had lots of fun having thanksgiving dinner, and that’s where he met Phocahontus, and she was a beeautiful singer and she had a singing raccoon and I just love her songs, and so…

[meanwhile, the cannibals have gotten set up upstage: two actors with knives and a third playing dead in between them]

CANNIBAL 1: Oh, let’s eat!

[Cannibal 2 takes a big bite of corpses leg. Whoops! He’s not quite dead]

CORPSE: AAAAAAGH!

CANNIBAL 1 & 2: Oh, oh, oh… OHHHH!

CANNIBAL 2: This is great meat

CANNIBAL 1: Not stringy at all

CANNIBAL 2: Here, get some of this

CANNIBAL 1: Oooh! Let’s get the heart.

CANNIBAL 2: Yeah! Damn, these ribs are hard

CANNIBAL 1: No kidding, we could really use some more hands here… [spying celia] Say, could you.

CANNIBAL 2: I mean

CANNIBAL 1 & 2: We just, could you, just like, um yeah, we ahh, you, ahh

CANNIBAL 1: Oh my gosh this must look just terrible

CANNIBAL 2: Oh dear…

CANNIBAL 1: This isn’t what it looks like

CANNIBAL 2: He’s Phillipino!

CANNIBAL 1: Well, you see, we’re helping this guy out

CANNIBAL 2: He was a worker for Nike. $1.50 a day

CANNIBAL 1: He never had it so good!

CANNIBAL 2: You’re right. And because of him, we’re making progress.

CANNIBAL 1: Costs are down.

CANNIBAL 2: Output is up.

CANNIBAL 1: Revenue is up

CANNIBAL 2: So there’s more money for the important things

CANNIBAL 1: Like advertising!

CANNIBAL 2: I know! Those endorsements are so expensive!

CANNIBAL 1: Really! Especially those Olympic athletes

CANNIBAL 2: Even the special olympics

CANNIBAL 1: The one-legged sprinter guy?

CANNIBAL 2: Oh! Love him!
CANNIBAL 1: He sure can sell shoes, I’ll tell you that much. But really, it’s so hard.

CANNIBAL 1 & 2: So hard.

CANNIBAL 1: Something had to give

[the shadow appears, Celia comes down, gets a hug and comfort from shadow]

SHADOW: I give of myself

[now the assault of ramen: the shadow throws Celia to the ground, trying to pry her legs open, repeating "I give of myself" while a crowd forms around her]

CROWD: What are you going to do with that ramen? One package can feed two children. I mean come on, you didn’t even pay for it, you’re mom bought it at Sam’s price club! You’ve got all the flavors, why can’t you share! Yeah, give us some of your fucking ramen noodles!

[Celia screams, gets away, the crowd closes in again, crawling, grabbing at her legs. Stillness, one final "I give of myself" and then Blackout]

 

 

1.8 CELIA AND ATHENA

[The next morning in the shelter. Celia there, stirring soup. enter Athena, all wet and messed up looking]

CELIA: Are you ok?

ATHENA: [blankly] I'm tired, my dear

CELIA: Were you sleeping out in that?

ATHENA: Not sleeping. I... I thought I was talking to someone I knew. He was going to tell me how long I had to stay here

CELIA: You can stay here as long as you need to

ATHENA: Not this shelter, child. This world. This time. I don't belong here

CELIA: What are you saying?

ATHENA: Do you think I would live like this if this was where I belonged? How can a person, a human being, belong so miserable? No, it must be some terrible mix-up. That's it...

CELIA: [thinking she's crazy] Maybe... do you want some soup?

ATHENA: Thank you. Is there somewhere I can rest?

CELIA: Of course. [handing over soup] Here. I'll see about getting you a bed, alright?

ATHENA: Many thanks. [exit Celia... pause. Athena contemplates her soup] What am I doing here? [the voices rise]

ATHENA: Why can't you be more clear, like before. Revelations! How can I help these people if you just spout gibberish?

[Celia returns]

CELIA: Ok, I think we've got some space for you. How's that soup?

ATHENA: How much niceness can the world absorb?

CELIA: What?

ATHENA: How many good vibes? If standard mechanical laws govern our minds, then every action should have an equal and opposite reaction, right?

CELIA: Ummm... I guess so

ATHENA: Backlash, then -- spiritual backlash. Every good deed, every kindness lending its counterforce to the ugly spirit

CELIA: Are you ok?

ATHENA: [getting lost in her world, the voices rising behind her] But it's all relative of course, what's ugly and what isn't. We suppose that some things are evil at the root, but we're wrong. Their manifestations are sometimes evil, or at least destructive, and then there are the usual suspects: sex, anger, jealousy, desire for power. But these are natural things. They are frustrated and provoked into what we fear: dark beasts that strain at their bonds and then run wild like starving tigers when released...

Feed the soul, tent the tigers and you will have nothing to fear

Oh, but we are not careful tenders of the tigers; we are tamers. Brutal, controlling, misguided tamers. We seek to teach the tigers when and how to appear. Listen:

[lights up on sarah, in sexy confession to audience, smoking]

SARAH: Those boys, they barter with the wild side to show me that terrible intoxicating passion in the night and still try and pass off the daytime fiction of monogamy: that such a fierce blaze has only one source spark, that it is more than indiscriminant animalism. Oh, I suppose we all want to believe it, and it makes me feel warm that they try... [sigh] but the truth is that-

[back to normal time: Athena has cut her off]

ATHENA: The tigers will not be tamed. And when they are beaten down they turn mean, and once they are mean they must be beaten down further... So it goes. We all conspire to script our own worst nightmares. [trailing off] Our own worst nightmares. Who else could do that...

CELIA: [very unsure what is going on] Uhh... I think I... Maybe- I- You need to get some rest and some dry clothes

ATHENA: [coming out of it] Yes. You're right. And you should be getting ready for your party

CELIA: Yeah I... how did you know about that?

ATHENA: A voice told me. Something important will happen there. They never tell me anything like that unless something important will happen

CELIA: [off balance] Ummmm... Ok. Why don't you just finish your soup and I'll... I'll see you later. [exits]

ATHENA: She must have seen it too, then. Poor child. She's in for a bad time, I think

1.9 A PARTY

[crowd sound, music, the smell of beer. lights up on PHILLIP and JOHN, holding party cups, off to one side]

JOHN: [to audience] Man, this is a pretty thick crowd.

PHILLIP: No shit.

JOHN: You seen Celia?

PHILLIP: Nah

JOHN: [drinks, cringes] Ugh, I think this is light beer

PHILLIP: Whatever, beer snob. Gets the job done. [sings] "Life's a bummer! Coors light."

JOHN: Life's too short for lite beer, man. I mean, one, it tastes like absolute crap and two you have to drink, like, twice as much of it.

PHILLIP: How's that?

JOHN: Where do you think the calories come from? There's no sugar, no carbohydrates. The only, like, energy source in a can of Coors lite is the alcohol. Less energy, less calories, less booze

PHILLIP: Those rank bastards and their damn Bikini girls!

JOHN: Totally. It's not a defensible option like diet Coke. There's absolutely no excuse for people to drink this watered down shit

PHILLIP: [going into a routine from Blue Velvet] Hey man, what about some Heineken?

JOHN: [ala Dennis hopper] Heineken! Fuck that shit! Pabst! Blue! Ribbon! [laughs] that's the shit.

PHILLIP: [laughing] So, you're kinda buzzed, huh?

JOHN: Nah. Maybe a little. [looking around]

PHILLIP: [drains his cup] Hope I don't have to know the secret frat handshake to get a refill. I'll be back in a sec. [exits]

JOHN: Cool

[lights up on Celia in another area of the stage. pure wallflower. john spots her.]

JOHN: Hey, Celia!

CELIA: Oh, hi

JOHN: You ok?

CELIA: Ummm... yeah. I just had a weird day at the shelter. I think I need a couple of days off

JOHN: TGIF then, right?

CELIA: I'm supposed to help run an outreach this weekend though

JOHN: Oh. Well can't you take time off after that?

CELIA: Yeah, but I don't really know what I'd do with myself

JOHN: You ever go to the river?

CELIA: Sometimes

JOHN: I dunno, I go there whenever I'm too stressed, need to mellow out

CELIA: Yeah?

JOHN: Yeah. Ummm...

[cross-fade to different part of party: Sarah and Phillip are standing, pretending not to notice each other. Finally, Sarah breaks the silence]

SARAH: So how you been?

PHILLIP: Ok. Little strung out lately

SARAH: Working?

PHILLIP: Nah, coasting for a month or two

[pause]

SARAH: Seeing any girls?

PHILLIP: Nah

SARAH: Any boys?

PHILLIP: Nah. [pause, drinks, laughs] You know what I just learned tonight?

SARAH: What?

PHILLIP: Life's too short for this shit

SARAH: Good lesson, who got you to realize that?

PHILLIP: John

SARAH: Smart friend. Works for a lot of things

PHILLIP: Huh?

SARAH: There's a lot of things life's too short for

PHILLIP: Like what

SARAH: I dunno, the usual list of contradictions: Playing games, not playing games, fucking around, not fucking around, staying put, wandering. That kindof shit

PHILLIP: [mocking] Yo, that's deep

SARAH: Oh shut up. Just because I try and offer something and shit means stuff to me, and I'm not always looking to shoot down other people's ideas all the time to make myself look smart. No one ever calls you on your shit, am I right?

PHILLIP: I guess not. [pause] Sorry I made fun of you.

[cross-fade back to John and Celia. Enter Conner, drunk]

CONNER: Hey! Hey you! Yeah! Punk!

JOHN: Oh shit, who invited that guy

CELIA: Ummm... it's his party

CONNER: Hey! You talkin' about me, faggot?

CELIA: Why don't you go back over with your friends, Conner

CONNER: Not talkin to you. Talkin to the faggot over here

JOHN: What do you want, Conner?

CONNER: I want you quit stinkin up my party, how about that?

CELIA: Conner, you're drunk, why don't we just...

CONNER: Back off, honey. What, you the faggot's friend? You his little fag hag friend, can't get a date so you hang around this queer? Huh? [silence] Maybe you aughtta get off my roof, punk. Before something happens

CELIA: I think we should go

JOHN: Ok. yeah. [they turn as if to go]

CONNER: Where you goin' baby? I didn't tell you to leave. You stay here, we'll take care of you

JOHN: Don't you fucking tell her what to do

CONNER: What'd you just say-

JOHN: Don't tell her what to do.

CONNER: [suddenly very sober-like and serious] I know you. Even if I don't know you specifically, I've known you all my life, and I've never trusted you. And you've known me the same way. I was the kid who never passed you the ball in gym class, the guy who fucked your date on prom night, the one who got you fired from your first real job, and you hate me. And you know what? I hate you too. Not because you're a punk or because you're smarter than me, I hate you because it always came too easy for you. No one is that relaxed. No one is that unconscious. I hate you because you pretend the things that are my life don't matter. Now get the fuck off my roof.

CELIA: [beat] Just go John. I'll see you later, ok?

JOHN: Ok. [goes to leave, pauses half-out of light to watch]

CONNER: You want some of my beer?

CELIA: No

CONNER: [leading her off] Awwww... come on...

JOHN: [stalking out] Asshole! Fucking rich jock no-brained asshole... [punches wall]

[music up… time has passed]

SARAH: [beat] So you wanna come home with me or what?

PHILLIP: [carefully] Come home with you?

SARAH: Yeah. Let's get the fuck out of here. [head out]

[Conner is near unconscious, stumbles in front of them, falls]

CELIA: Are you ok?

CONNER: [heavy breath] I'm fine, baby, just need some sleep

CELIA: Where's your girlfriend?

CONNER: I dunno. Said some stuff earlier. Think she's gone...

CELIA: Why do you do this to yourself, Conner?

CONNER: What the fuck? I'm just doing what I should to be... being the person people want me to be, baby...

CELIA: [beat] You should go home

CONNER: Nah. I'm fucking raging! Where'd my friends go...

CELIA: I don't know. I'm tired, ok? I'm going to go home

CONNER: Sure sure sure, I know. Just lea'me here...

CELIA: Ok. Well... Feel better. [exits]

CONNER: [muttering as lights fade]...all that faggot's fault. Talkin about my ass and shit, lucky if I wake up with my pants still on... fucking faggot dreams... [fade out]

1.10 DREAMS OF DESIRE

[Projection: "Conner’s Dream". Lights up on Conner in space, music starts, dance of frenetic tension, people running all around him, tripping him up, etc. This ends with with Conner being picked up and forced to watch hard-core gay images: fisting, whipping, blowjob. Music changes to Sade and Conner and the Shadow slow-dance while a stand-up routine on "gaydar" is performed. Conner realizes what is happening, rejects the shadow, and is manhandled and forced to the floor. Blackout.]

[Projection: "John’s Dream". The lineup: Boss, Teacher, Father, Rich Cousin, Cheerleader. John in front of them off to one side, reacting to insults.]

BOSS: All you do is slack off and waste time playing solitare when you’re supposed to be working. If I didn’t know your father, I’d have fired you weeks ago.

TEACHER: I just don’t feel that you’re trying hard enough. You’re not fulfilling your potential at all. I don’t have very much of a choice, John.

FATHER: Why don’t you ever bring any girls home, Son? You gotta learn how t handle ‘em otherwise you’ll just marry the first one that puts her hooks into you and then where will you be?

COUSIN: Yeah, so my mom said to tell you so you could, you know, tell your mom that we’re just not going to have space for your family up at the house this thanksgiving, ok? Can you pass that along?

CHEERLEADER: Oooh baby. Not! Let’s recap: you’re poor. You’re not on a varsity team. You’re breaking out in a pathetic way. What makes you think I would have anything to do with you, ever?

[shadow whispers in his ear, gives him the gun-hand]

JOHN: [to boss] You’re pathetic. You think you’re king of your little world, don’t you? A bunch of fucking losers in an office bothering people on the phone. That’s nothing. You’re nothing. You’re a fucking joke. [fires. To teacher] You never helped me. You never even tried to help me. All you ever did was talk about my potential, like talking about it would make it real. You’re so fucking unfair! [fired. To father] You think I want to end up like you? You know why I never brought anyone home? I was embarrassed of you. I didn’t want anyone to see you or hear you or smell you… fuck you! [fires. To cousin] You think your family is everything, right? You think you’re just predestined to rule the world, don’t know? You think you’re better than me? Huh! What do you think now! [fires. To cheerleader] All I wanted was to talk to you, get to know you. And you had to humiliate me. You had to tease me and tell everyone a lot of lies and have your fucking jock friends beat the shit out me! I don’t want you! I wouldn’t touch you with a 10-foot-pole, you fucking stuck up bitch [fires]

SHADOW: Didn’t that feel good? All that power? Can’t you think of 100 more people you’d want to… talk to right now?

[the cheerleader rises, now she’s "Dead Cheerleader". Vamps around John. He changes, becoming arrogant, speaks to her while peeling duct tape from a roll in a threatening fashion]

JOHN: Oooh my baby, sweet little purfumed baby, twist for me and my money keep you safe from harm. Oooh my baby, sick skinny purfumed baby, starve yourself and maybe then I’ll get hard.

[the others rise up, zombies, after him, he tries shooting but the gun is no good. Blackout.]

1.11 THE BREAKING OF CELIA

[celia brushing her teeth, ready for bed. The Shadow creeping behind her]

[for this scene, there is a piece of wall, a big hunk of cardboard held by another cast member. celia can back up to it, and it can move around on her. in the end she is obscured from the audience by the wall and we see only the shadow]

SHADOW: Don't be scared

CELIA: What are you doing here

SHADOW: I didn't come here to scare you

CELIA: Who are you?

SHADOW: Oh, don't pretend you don't know who I am.

CELIA: I don't know you!

SHADOW: That's a good girl, just hide for a minute. Let's hide, ok? yeah, let's just hide ourselves and it'll all be better, right? You're a busy girl. Busy busy busy busy busy. That's good. You fill up your days good, don't you? Yeah, close your eyes, maybe that'll help.

CELIA: Go away

SHADOW: I've been watching you. You're strong, aren't you. Determined. Yeah, you did a lot today you must be tired. Are you tired? Are you tired? Huh? Tired? Don't look at me. It's not a good idea to look at me. I'm you, right? Right? I'm you right? I'm you right? I'm you right? Do we need to talk about our feelings? Should we go get some coffee?

CELIA: Leave me alone

SHADOW: We did a lot today, didn't we? We fed some people, right? Fed those thirty white americans. Good for us, feeding the white americans and giving them places to sleep and clothes to wear. Good for us. We had a good day, didn't we? We're making a difference, right? Right? We're having an impact. And the other day we read to the children! Three whole hours! They're still talking about it I hear.

CELIA: Why are you saying these things?

SHADOW: You know why? Because something's not fair. You know what it is? You know what it is? No? No? Well, we do all these nice things together, but you get to have things that I don't get to have. You get to have these things I don't, and I think it's time we shared. You get to feel good and feel satisfied and you get to feel like we're really saving the world. Yeah, yeah, let's save the world, right? Let's save the world. But I’m the one who has to know that it doesn't make any real difference. It doesn't make any difference. You have the light switch over there on your side, you can just turn out the light but I have to look at everything, everything we can't help and everything that just rolls right over what we did, and it's just not fair. No. No it's not fair at all. I have to know about the denial. Yeah. I have to know about the denial. I think it's time we shared. Yeah, I think it's time we shared. I think you need to come over here into the light for a while. Let me help you. Let me help you. Let me help you come and see the light. I think it's important, because I think it's time for us to share.

[SHADOW rushes her. Celia screams, black out. Celia beings to cry.]

[intermission]

 

MOVEMENT TWO

2.0 THE RETURN

[some vocal stuff: the cast does a little improvisational humming, then a wordless tune, then a few simple statements to the audience (improvise: whatever is on your mind), then they sing together, taking lines from John Prine’s "Angel from Montgomery"]

2.1 THE MORNING AFTER COLLAGE

[first the butcher, remembering old times]

SAL: He's so sorry he ever picked up that gun. Now he can never go home

The poor poor boy, he can never go home

Yes now his time has passed and the cold thing inside him has grown,

staking out his innards piece by piece for his own

He tried to kill it,

he watched the shows just like everyone else,

got drunk and kissed girls he didn't like at parties,

but still he felt

It

Simmering icy cold thing hiding behind his eyes,

drifting off to sleep he sees the faces, hears the cries

All those crimes

All that time spend fucking his french teacher in his minds eye

No one knew about it, about the lies,

about the unhealthy obsession with the graveyard [sighs]

Hmmmm... doesn't look like I can let this one slide. Have to get involved again. It's for the best, maybe help some people out this time, finally do my penance

[Crossfade: Phillip and Sarah and a blanket, post wake-up sex]

SARAH: Do you think this will go anywhere?

PHILLIP: I don't know. I don't want to do anything that's not fully real, you know? Can you appreciate that?

SARAH: You're so full of shit, you know that?

PHILLIP: What?

SARAH: "Fully real?" Come on, don't use that line on me. Something's real because you make it real. Perception is reality. You of all people should know that

PHILLIP: Ok, I agree, but I think you're taking-

SARAH: Look, maybe you can use this routine that to impress some of those art-school girls – and I do mean girls, those ones who want to play at being angst ridden, the ones who never had to balance a check book but who understand the fire and the blackness – but don't fuck around here. Jesus Christ, what the fuck did you do before you met me?

PHILLIP: [hurt] I was lonely most of the time, I s'pose.

SARAH: [pause] Tell me how you lost your virginity

PHILLIP: How did I loose my...

SARAH: Yeah. Tell me. I wanna hear the story

PHILLIP: Umm... Ok... How I lost my virginity... I was 17, and I was in love with this girl, that way you are you're 17, and that night we were supposed to go out and party, get all dressed up, all classy and adult. I was already, like, dizzy, before I had anything to drink, from the anticipation. I mean, I knew it was going to be that night. We ended up in the laundry room at the party. It wasn't even close to her first time, and I didn't really even know what I was doing, but she said nice stuff afterwords anyway. We tried it again a little later and it was better. Slept in the laundry room on some clothes like fuckin' cats

SARAH: That's a good story

PHILLIP: Yeah?

SARAH: Yeah

PHILLIP: So what's yours

SARAH: You don't wanna know

PHILLIP: Maybe I do

SARAH: Nothing to tell really. I was 12 or something. He was older. I wasn't really a participant in any real sense of the word

PHILLIP: I'm sorry

SARAH: Don't be. When something like that happens, you have to decide whether to take it back or not. I dunno, you grow up. [pause] I've always imagined myself a martyr, like there's someone watching my life and everything is just a little more unfair than it is. And this person sees what I'm going through, and they understand that it's wrong. And that's enough... I not interested in your pity...

[cross-fade, Butcher shop. Enter JOHN]

JOHN: Hey man -

SAL: Are you allright?

JOHN: Sure. Yeah. Why do you ask?

SAL: I was just worried about you. About all of y'all. Some shady people around here lately. Weird nights

[Cross fade: the shelter]

ATHENA: Good morning, child

CELIA: ...

ATHENA: What's wrong?

CELIA: Nothing

[Fade to Butcher]

JOHN: Listen, I heard you were good for advice. I need some advice

SAL: Sure thing, kid. What's up?

JOHN: You remember Celia?

SAL: 'course I do... What's the matter? She's obviously got it for you-

JOHN: Well, ok. I just- It's just- I don't know how to, you know, get to know her, or whatever

SAL: If that's all you need, kid, I mean no problem, but...

[back to shelter]

ATHENA: You've been hurt

CELIA: [pause] I lost something

ATHENA: What?

CELIA: I don't know. It took it

[fade]

JOHN: Ok. So, like, well I have these impulses sometimes, like, you know, I have these dreams, where I just wanna... you know?

SAL: That's natural, man. We're all a little animal, you know, a little beast in every one of us. It's a good thing, in moderation

JOHN: Yeah, but sometimes its more than that, you know? Sometimes I just want to, like, break stuff, or, like, hurt someone. You don't know some of the crazy shit that goes on up here [pointing to head]

[fade]

ATHENA: Who took it?

CELIA: The thing from my dream

[fade]

SAL: Well, I won't tell you to go out and hurt people, but I will tell you that if you don't keep in touch with that side of yourself, if you try and forget about it, or pretend it's not there, or try like the devil to keep it locked down, sooner or later it'll come back up twice as mean

JOHN: [laughs] yeah... Someday someone will read my thoughts and I'll be drug out into the street and shot

SAL: It's not all as bad as that, kid. Ya just try not to be guilty about the animal part of your heart. It can be your greatest ally, you know. But you've got to let it have some space, gotta let it breathe.

[fade]

ATHENA: What did it take?

CELIA: I don't know

ATHENA: [pause lifts her chin to look in her eyes] I do. I know what it does. It's an old thing, a very old thing, a bad thing

[fade]

JOHN: Ok, I guess. Any advice about the girl?

SAL: The girl? Shit, If you can handle this stuff the girl's easy. Just relax and follow your feelings. Don't be afraid to move on the moment... Shit, I sound like fucking Dear Abby

JOHN: No, man. It's cool. I mean, I guess I already knew a lot of that, but maybe I just needed to hear it from you

SAL: Sure kid. Remember what I said, ok?

[fade]

CELIA: What is it?

ATHENA: It's hard to explain. I don't really know how to tell you about it. Do you remember what happened here yesterday?

CELIA: Yes

ATHENA: It's like that, just fades into places and does this to people, this thing. We have to find you some help

CELIA: I don't know

ATHENA: You have to confront it, my dear. It is the only way to heal, face it down and swallow it whole

[cross-fade, Conner face down, the Shadow standing next to him]

SHADOW: Did you like that?

CONNER: Mmmmm... yes

SHADOW: What did you like the best?

CONNER: What?

SHADOW: Tell me what you liked the best

CONNER: The part that... that almost hurt

SHADOW: Good. Good boy. Don't tell any of your little friends about our little chat, now, alright?

CONNER: Ok, I won't

SHADOW: Sleep tight. [he returns to slumber] No one knows me. No one knows anyone. They never listen. That's lucky for me. Have you ever listened to the sound of yourself talking? It's a strangely irritating noise. That's lucky for me too. Turn a voice back onto itself for long enough, eventually it comes loose. That's what I like. That's what I am

2.3 DISCOVERING THE DAMAGE

[John and Celia, seated apart, "on the phone" with each other]

CELIA: H- hello?

JOHN: Hi, celia?

CELIA: [pause] umm... yeah

JOHN: Hey, it's John here. [pause] Are you ok

CELIA: [long pause] no

JOHN: What's wrong? Are you hung over?

CELIA: no

JOHN: Well what's up then... you don't sound too good

CELIA: I... Uh...

JOHN: What happened?

CELIA: I... I don't know... I-

JOHN: … just tell me what happened?

CELIA: I... I was... someone was in my room when I came home, and-

JOHN: Who was it? Was it that dick Conner? One of his fucking meathead friends?

CELIA: No. It was...

JOHN: Who?

[It all comes out in a rush, like someone who's been tripping alone for hours and finally finds someone to talk to. During this, light fades out on john.]

CELIA: I was brushing my teeth. I was about to. I. I was. I have really good teeth, my dentist always said. There was someone in my apartment. Someone. I don't know. I knew them from before, but I couldn't remember when, and then she spoke and it was like hearing my own voice and she said awful things. About my future. About me and what I would do. About you. She said you were only going to use me and that you wanted to hurt me and she said I would have to keep you on a leash if I wanted to have you and she told me about crimes and punishments and conglomorations and the ozone layer and all the things I do every day that are killing the earth and killing people and killing myself. And living is just waiting to die she said to me. Told me about no control and the feral children in Romania and the slave trade in Rwanda and the pedophile ring in Belgum and the speed freaks and the rust belt and the end of the family and and and what does is all matter: in the end living is just dying in slow motion she said. She said we are ruled by TV, she said the world is an ugly ugly place and that it's dying and she said that dying is the most solitary act and we all have to do it alone and she said the world is dying and the world is dying alone, she said, and there's nowhere to hide and if you think otherwise you're only fooling yourself and she said the old gods were dead and the new ones were fake and she said I should take what I can and get out of town because this place is going to come crashing down and she said you wanted to kill me, or at least to hurt me, or at least to control me. And she said... She said... She said...

[lights back up on John]

JOHN: Oh my- [pause] are you still there?

CELIA: And then... I don't know what happened. I was at work somehow, and I was talking to that woman who's always out there and the I was going to go home but I don't know what happened I don't know where I was. But I think something’s broken. I can't remember. [silence]

JOHN: Ummm... I don't know what to say... I'm totally here if you-

CELIA: Can you come over?

JOHN: I… Uhhhhh…

CELIA: I... I don't want to be alone anymore

JOHN: Ok, I’ll be- I’ll be over later, ok?. [lights dim on him and celia]

CONNER: [hears mocking voices] [muttering] fucking faggot shit fucker motherfucker what the fuck happened fuckfuckfuck... [directed at audience] I'm not a fucking queer! Fucking queer's the guy who wouldn't fucking shower in gym class, fucking theatre kid, that little shit with the hats we shoved in the locker, that little home-ec queen... bullshit cocksucking little fancy buttpacking asshole bitch motherfukers like, like, like... like Phillip! That fucking nancy boy Phillip and his queer little punk ass friend... Fuck!

You can fucking see them, spot them, man. Do I look like a faggot to you? Huh? [spits on floor] That's fucking right. [blackout]

2.4 THE DINER REDUX

[John and Phillip at the Diner, mid conversation, Sarah interrupts with coffee]

SARAH: No more coffee?

JOHN: No thanks.

SARAH: Phillip? Coffee?

PHILLIP: M’fine…

SARAH: What? Can’t hear you

PHILLIP: I’m fine, thanks. [she exits in a huff]

JOHN: What’s up with that?

PHILLIP: I honestly don’t know. So what are you going to do about-

JOHN: I dunno, t she's totally, like, shaken up and shit. I’ve gotta get over there.

PHILLIP: This is so fucked up

JOHN: No shit

PHILLIP: No, I mean, like, that's just fucking not right

JOHN: I know

PHILLIP: I mean, I know I said some stuff about Celia before, but I mean all the more reason why this shit shouldn't happen to her. It's so fucked up. Fuckin weird-ass people showing up in people's apartments...

JOHN: Yeah. I dunno. I think I... I'm gonna make her dinner

PHILLIP: Now hold up

JOHN: What?

PHILLIP: What are you planning

JOHN: You know, dinner

PHILLIP: Ok. Let me tell you something. You can not fuck her now

JOHN: What?

PHILLIP: You can't fuck her

JOHN: Look, I don't know where you get the idea you need to tell me what I can and cannot do, but I'm fucking sick of your attitude.

PHILLIP: I'm sure you are, but I'm serious. She just went through some serious taruma and she'll probably even want to but you can't. It'll be all fucked up and shit. [pause] Trust me.

JOHN: Look, I’m not talking about fucking her, ok? I’m talking about making her my fettucini

PHILLIP: Sure, whatever. It's a nice gesture

JOHN: Damn right it is. Good fettucini too

[enter sarah]

SARAH: Hey look, everything ok?

JOHN: Yeah, sorry, nothing to worry about

SARAH: You want any pie or anything? On me

JOHN: No thanks, I gotta to.

SARAH: How about you, Phillip?

PHILLIP: Ummm... nah

[moment of weird vibes]

SARAH: Ok then [exits]

JOHN: Ok, what the fuck was that all about?

PHILLIP: She and I, uhhhh... after the party, we-

JOHN: You're kidding

PHILLIP: No, and now... I dunno, she's really cool and all but I'm just not sure if I can handle it

JOHN: But you, uhhh, like her, right?

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean... yeah. She wants to hang out again tonight but...

JOHN: But what?

PHILLIP: I dunno... I was supposed to go meet somebody else

JOHN: Who? You didn't tell me

PHILLIP: This guy I met

JOHN: Where, at the gym?

PHILLIP: No, not at the gym. Why do you always assume guys meet each other at the gym? Did it ever occur to you that I meet guys in the same places you or I meet girls?

JOHN: Ok, you're right, but what are you gonna do?

PHILLIP: Well- I mean, I'd really like to see Sarah again, but it's just- It's kinda hard with her sometimes

JOHN: Ok, listen. I don't get it. I don't get you. You obviously want to go out with this girl more than you want to go out with this guy. And I'm not saying this because I don't want you to, like, get with guys or anything, so don't give me that condescending look. I may not totally understand your sexual identity thing, but I do know you sound a lot more excited about Sarah than this random dude.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I know. But it seems so easy with guys, you know? No baggage, no attachments... it's just fun. With her there's like all this other shit that goes on and sometimes it's kindof fucked up

JOHN: Is that really the way it is? You know, I mean, I know that's the stereotype and all that shit, but it can't be all that cut and dry: men easy, women complicated

PHILLIP: You're right. But for some reason it just seems more... natural for guys to take things easier and for women to- I mean, sure it's the same old double standard, but I trust a guy more when he says it's just a casual thing

JOHN: But why?

PHILLIP: I dunno, man. It just seems like every time I meet a woman who tells me she's not into a really heavy emotional relationship she's just putting up some kind of screen to, like, snare me. Or otherwise she really does want that, but she's got herself all twisted up and convinced she doesn't. That's the fucking worst.

JOHN: Ok, well, I don't want to shock you or anything, but maybe you're the one who's fooling yourself into thinking you want all these casual things, these little meaningless flings. You know, maybe it's 'cause you're, like, scared of getting hurt or maybe just because it's easier and you're just really lazy. But I mean, seriously, it doesn't seem like you're really all that into meeting this guy and it does seem like Sarah maybe means something to you

PHILLIP: Ooooooh, I'm John. I have deep insight into my friends tortured heart. I understand his darkness...

JOHN: Look, you can try and brush me off, but it's pretty obvious.

PHILLIP: [pause] Yeah. Yeah, ok. Ok, I'll talk to her.

JOHN: Good. Look, I gotta go. You do your thing. I'll catch you later. [exits]

[crossfade Sarah against the wall, Phillip takes a moment to gather courage, approaches, she starts the conversation before he is ready]

SARAH: So you wanna kick it tonight or what?

PHILLIP: I dunno

SARAH: [imitating] "I dunno"

PHILLIP: I just think maybe it's a little fast

SARAH: Whatever Phil. We've done this before, remember

PHILLIP: I don't know if I can give you want you want

SARAH: Because what I want is so fucking much, right?

PHILLIP: No. I just. I just havn't felt like anything matters in a long time and all of a sudden all these things seem to make a difference. It matters to me about John and this girl. It matters to me if I let you down. It matters-

SARAH: You know what? Thanks for the concern, but I can take care of myself. I may look and sometimes act like I need something, but I don't. I may be in deep, but I know how to swim, ok? So take your pity and shove it

PHILLIP: That's not what I meant

SARAH: That's what you sound like

PHILLIP: Well... it's how I feel ok?

SARAH: Fine. Look, I have to get back to work. You wanna come over later you can. You wanna go do your little thing or whatever, fine with me. now get outta my way. I got work to do.

2.6 CONNER BLOWS IT

[street. dusk. Athena there, Conner in passing, troubled]

ATHENA: [startled] Young man

CONNER: What

ATHENA: I see something on your back

CONNER: What?

ATHENA: You should take steps to remove it

CONNER: [trying to brush off his back] What is it? A sign?

ATHENA: A great shifting beast, looks heavy

CONNER: [pause] Whatever, you crazy old bitch

ATHENA: [suddenly powerful] Do not dismiss me. You must have been keeping it down long for it to be so vile. It is draining you.

CONNER: Look, I have no idea what you're-

ATHENA: Do not pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. It's going around. You're not the only one... But you still aren't sure. Let me tell you something. I know what you've been dreaming of. I know what you're hiding. I know, and so does the beast of burden on your back

CONNER: You leave me alone [starts to exit]

ATHENA: I know. I know about this morning when you woke up on the roof. your chat with the thing from your dream. You need guidance. [the mocking voices return]

CONNER: I NEED YOU TO QUIT FUCKING TELLING ME WHAT TO DO! Fuck all of you, all you telling me what to do. Can't I ever fucking relax? Why is everything a struggle with you? Why is everything complecated? Why, why why why can't I fucking control my own hands? Why is my girlfriend such a bitch? Why can't I... What am i supposed to do?

ATHENA: You are supposed to admit that you need help, that you cannot do everything alone. The butcher. He knows what you are dealing with. Talk to him. Tell him the whole story, whatever it is.

CONNER: [recovering] Ok. Ok... I'll go talk to that guy...

ATHENA: Good.

[CONNER exits]

2.7 CELIA AND JOHN

[celia's place, john is cleaning a saucepan or something]

JOHN: So you liked my pasta?

CELIA: Yeah. It was good

JOHN: I don't cook a lot anymore, but I used to when I was a kid, like with my mom and stuff

CELIA: Yeah?

JOHN: Yeah, we'd make like cookies and soup and all sorts of shit

CELIA: Why not anymore?

JOHN: I dunno. Moved out. No time. No, like, pots and stuff

CELIA: That's too bad

JOHN: Well, I'd like to cook for you again if you want

CELIA: I'd really like that...

JOHN: So...

CELIA: Do you think that a person can make a difference in the world?

JOHN: What do you mean?

CELIA: Like, can one person really effect a change of anything?

JOHN: I dunno about, like, making world peace, but I definitely think someone can make a difference with their life

CELIA: Really?

JOHN: Of course. Every person, I mean, they touch so many other lives, and those people touch other people, and so on. And of course people in positions of power have a bigger effect because they can set big things into action, but every person changes the world a little bit every day whether they like it or not, you know? And if you choose how you're going to do that changing, I definitely think you're making a difference

CELIA: That's kinda cool

JOHN: Yeah?

CELIA: Yeah

JOHN: [pause] So... Ummm, let me finish with the dishes and then I should probably go home

CELIA: You don't have to go home

JOHN: What do you mean?

CELIA: I mean, I'd... like it if you stayed here

JOHN: Ok. don't think we should...

CELIA: You wanna go?

JOHN: No. Not at all. I really want to stay. I just think it's a little too... you know. I'd still really like to be here with you though

CELIA: That's sweet

JOHN: What? I'm just being honest, and-

CELIA: Oh shut up [kisses him]

2.8 CONNER AND THE BUTCHER

[the butcher shop. night. thunder again. Sal methodically cutting meat]

SAL: [to self] Cut, shift, clean. Cut, shift, clean... coulda been a sailor. Coulda seen the world. Coulda been out there under the blue black sky, feeling small, feeling forgiven. So much blood. So much more saltwater... Cut, shift, clean...

[enter Conner]

SAL: Hey kid

CONNER: Hey

SAL: So what'll it be?

CONNER: T-bone

SAL: Just a sec

CONNER: Ok

SAL: There you go- hey, you allright?

CONNER: 'Course I'm allright. What?

SAL: Nothin. Just, for a second there I thought I saw... here's your steak kid.

CONNER: What? What did you see?

SAL: Something on your back

CONNER: What did it look like?

SAL: Black, menacing, angry, I don't know

CONNER: Don't tell me you don't know. You do. She said you would. What the fuck is it?

SAL: I can't tell you that, but the chances are if I can see it you know what it is already.

CONNER: Help me

SAL: What?

CONNER: Help me. She said you could help me, said you knew what this is. I can feel it, always in the corner of my eyes, always on the back of my neck, like something is watching me, like... like something is watching me from inside, like it's digging into my skull, pressure, like I'm going to pop open and I can't take it anymore. She said you can help me.

SAL: I can

CONNER: SO DO SOMETHING! Please! Do something!

SAL: Come here. Take this. [hands him tenderizing hammer] hit it. Hit it harder. Harder. Come on, let it out!

[conner beats the living shit out of a hunk of meat]

SAL: There. How's that?

CONNER: [trembling] Maybe a little better

CAL: Good... good. You're on your way

2.9 SARAH AND PHILLIP RECONCILE

[sarah's place. night. rain. thunder. a knock at the door]

SARAH: [opening door] Hi

PHILLIP: Hey

SARAH: So

PHLLIP: So I'm here

SARAH: So you are. What's that supposed to tell me?

PHILLIP: I could go

SARAH: No, you can stay

PHILLIP: Ok

SARAH: Come in, you want a beer?

[time-lapse. sex. now they're in the bed]

SARAH: [sigh] So we weren't drunk this time

PHILLIP: No

SARAH: You still wanna stay over?

PHILLIP: [pause] yes

SARAH: [to audience] That night we deamed of letting go, and all the good things that might be out there waiting for us

[cross-fade]

JOHN: That night I dreamed of untwisting myself

CELIA: That night I had no dreams at all

[cross-fade]

SAL & CONNER: That night we worked

2.10 FINAL DREAMS

[Projection: "Phillip and Sarah’s Dream" Phillip and Sarah share a dream of liberation: Dull trudging while the actors are reciting the worst parts of their morning routine, unscripted, then singing the "inchworm" song (two and two is four…), finally that breaks apart and a wordless tune of freedom begins. During this, Sarah and Phillip come together, have a solo/feature moment and then play the counting game as the others disappear. This counting game is simply the actors counting from one to ten and saying whatever they feel like saying on the theme of road trips. After the last image is spoken, they say goodbye and drift apart. Fade out.]

[Projection "John’s Dream" John does a thriller-style dance with everyone else backing him up, then begins shooting people wholesale in the style of Colombine High. Finally it comes time for him to shoot Celia, he hesitates. The Shadow appears]

SHADOW: Come on, she’s only going to humiliate you, and then everyone will laugh.

[Sal and Conner appear, reminding John of who’s he’s about to kill, he instead turns the gun on the shadow]

SHADOW: Oh, so you want to shoot me? Come on. Do it. Go ahead. I dare you to. Shoot me. Come on. Shoot me. Right in the heart. Shoot me!

[John approaches her, but lowers the weapon]

SHADOW: Awwwww, he couldn’t do it. Such a big man and he can’t even shoot-

[John embraces the shadow, the humming becomes an open song as he shakes hand or acknowledges all the other characters, finally hugging Celia. Blackout.]

2.11 CONCLUSION

[sarah and phillip waking. morning]

SARAH: Are you awake?

PHILLIP: Yeah

SARAH: I had a dream about-

PHILLIP: Me too

[pause]

SARAH: Let's get out of here, Phillip

PHILLIP: What do you mean?

SARAH: Let's just go. I can quit my job. We'll get a car, head west or north or south or east. Just out, wherever it ends up being. Out of this town

PHILLIP: Ok. When do you want to go?

SARAH: Today

PHILLIP: Today?

SARAH: Yeah today! What do you have that's holding you here besides a lot of old habbits you're fucking sick of anyway?

PHILLIP: Ok... ok we'll go... we'll go today

[cross-fade]

CELIA: Are you awake?

JOHN: Uh-huh, I had a dream and you were in it

CELIA: Was it a good dream?

JOHN: Yes it was

CELIA: I have to get ready for work soon

JOHN: Weren't you taking the day off?

CELIA: I was going to, but-

JOHN: Take the day off, we'll go to the river and sit for a while

CELIA: Ok

[they turn, sit up, she puts her arm around him, tablaux, slow fade]

2.12 CODA

[street. dawn. Athena in her spot. Celia on her way to work]

CELIA: Good morning

ATHENA: Hello, child

CELIA: [stopping] How are things?

ATHENA: Things are things

CELIA: [pause] Yeah. They are

ATHENA: How is John?

CELIA: Good. He just got a new job

ATHENA: That's nice. And your other friends?

CELIA: I think they're going to be ok. They took off for a while, see the world a bit.... How are you?

ATHENA: All right. [pause] I think I'm leaving as well

CELIA: Where are you going?

ATHENA: Someplace else. The butcher is pulling up stakes. He offered me a ride to the coast

CELIA: The coast?

ATHENA: He's going to be a sailor

CELIA: He said something about that

ATHENA: He's been dreaming about it for a long time

CELIA: Yeah [pause] Well...

ATHENA: Good bye, child

CELIA: Good luck

ATHENA: Good bye

[crossfade into the butcher's shop. Conner is now the butcher]

JOHN: Oh, hi

CONNER: Hey kid.

JOHN: Hey. What happened to Sal?

CONNER: He's retired. Hung it up

JOHN: Yeah?

CONNER: Yeah. So what’ll it be?

JOHN: Uh, two T-bones, I guess

CONNER: Special occasion?

JOHN: Nah, just making dinner for me and Celia

CONNER: So you and her together now?

JOHN: I guess so [reaches to pay]

CONNER: It’s on the house

JOHN: Really?

CONNER: Yeah

JOHN: Thanks

CONNER: Ok. See you tomorrow

[CLOSURE: Everyone dons masks, plays the counting game as before, this time to 14 (2 for each cast member) and on the theme of new beginnings. Exit cast. Projection "The End"]

[outlandish] | [texts] | [music] | [ mannafesto ] | [ideas]

© Josh Koenig | You can perform, read aloud, copy, print, distribure or otherwise be inspired by this to your heart's content. Please don't re-publish for profit or plagarize it though. And if you ever do anything with it (i.e. performance), let me know!


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Trips

Trips in Space and Time 8/02/03

Big Wheels in Berkeley
I scored a set of west-coast wheels today at the Ashby BART station flea market. It's a very tall schwinn road bike, black, deceptively heavy but smooth-riding. Thirty-five dollars to boot. I oiled and cleaned the works, dialed in the bakes and took it out for a shake-down cruise immediately. Nice riding on a beautiful saturday, realizing how out of shape I am as I wheezed my way though the hilly area behind the Berkeley campus.

After about an hour I started to get the swing of it. Made some minor mechanical adjustments (including a free wheel truing at the bike collective on Shattuck), drank a few liters of water and started finding my groove, cruising up and around and ending up with a beautiful view of the whole bay. The roads here are not kind to the speed inclined -- too many stop signs and crosswalks and lights -- but it was good to get out and proj for a while. This changes my summer dramatically.

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Smother Me With
Filthy Lucre