Newton's Cradle by Stina Trollbäck

CHARACTERS: Felicity (27), Lucille (30), Balfour (32).

SETTING: The dining room of FELICITY, LUCILLE, and BALFOUR’s parents’ house. There is a party going on that happens annually. There is a table in the middle of the room with four chairs around it. There is a Newton’s Cradle on the table.

The room is empty.

______________________________________________________________________

BALFOUR walks in quickly, door slamming behind him. He stands against the wall and gives a loud sigh.

(Pause)

LUCILLE and FELICITY walk in quickly together, door slamming behind them as well. LUCILLE has a glass of wine in hand; she sits down at the end of the table and swirls the wine in her glass. FELICITY sits down on a chair backwards, elbows propped up on the back of it. BALFOUR starts the Newton’s Cradle.

BALFOUR

(After a few moments of silence)  I’m not much of a social collar.

BALFOUR looks up towards the ceiling and reaches up to run his fingers along the collar of his shirt.

FELICITY

Neither am I.

LUCILLE looks at FELICITY, but turns away quickly, and stares at BALFOUR.

LUCILLE

Balfour, please. You make your rounds like you’re a glittery red flag on a wind turbine.

BALFOUR

Only sometimes.

LUCILLE

Every time.

BALFOUR rolls his eyes and sighs. FELICITY looks at LUCILLE.

FELICITY

I want to glitter, too.

LUCILLE

(Dismissively) You do glitter.

LUCILLE looks away quickly, focusing her attention on BALFOUR again. She taps her heels against the floor once, loudly, stands, and walks to BALFOUR.

BALFOUR

Stop stabbing me with your breath. You’re breathing too close to me.

LUCILLE

Just examining.

BALFOUR

Why?

LUCILLE

You’re being different.

BALFOUR

How so?

LUCILLE walks away from him and sits down at the dining table, as far away from both FELICITY and BALFOUR as possible, and taps her heels against the ground once, loudly, again. FELICITY starts shivering. 

LUCILLE

You talked to our mother differently, and your shoulders are more slouched than usual.

BALFOUR

And?

LUCILLE sighs and takes a sip of her wine.

FELICITY

I’m cold.

LUCILLE and BALFOUR do not turn to face FELICITY. LUCILLE wears a face of resignation.

LUCILLE

We should go back out to the party.

FELICITY

Or not.

BALFOUR moves towards the door.

BALFOUR

You’re right, Lucille. We probably should.

FELICITY slams her fist on the table and stands up. LUCILLE jumps a little, but BALFOUR just glares at FELICITY. FELICITY looks worried.

FELICITY

No.

LUCILLE

Why?

FELICITY

It makes me feel like a sink that’s overspilling.

BALFOUR

Well you could just stay. They don’t need you out there anyway.

LUCILLE taps her heels again, once, speaking as she stands.

LUCILLE

(Sternly) Balfour.

FELICITY

(Quietly, only to LUCILLE) That’s why I don’t want to go, though. (Louder, after a pause) Fine. You two go make your glittery rounds, then.

The three of them have moved so that they are all standing close together by the door, stiffly.

LUCILLE

We can stay.

BALFOUR

(Pause) But there’s more alcohol outside.

LUCILLE glares at BALFOUR.

LUCILLE

You remind me of insufficiently dissolved blubber.

LUCILLE takes a sip of her wine with a satisfied expression. BALFOUR raises his eyebrows and points at LUCILLE as if to signal that she drew an accurate parallel.

BALFOUR

That’s why Lottie left me.

(Pause)

LUCILLE

How is she, by the way?

BALFOUR

Fine, I suppose. Enjoying finding herself, or something. She said something about needing to scrub the murk off her moon.

FELICITY is sitting down again, tapping the table repetitively with one index finger, quietly, in a steady rhythm.

LUCILLE

Good to hear. How are you feeling about it?

BALFOUR

Like an apricot dipped in sour milk.

LUCILLE

Bad, then, I take it?

BALFOUR shrugs and gives a slight nod.

BALFOUR

Bad.

FELICITY props her elbow up on the table and places her chin in her palm.

FELICITY

Lucille?

LUCILLE

Yes?

FELICITY

Do you know what our father meant when he said I was leaving a convulsive blueprint?

LUCILLE inhales deeply, pensively.

LUCILLE

(Softly) I think he meant you were being a bit abrasive.

FELICITY

I don’t like seeing him.

LUCILLE

Felicity…

BALFOUR

I don’t particularly like it either.

LUCILLE

It’s the guests I don’t like seeing.

LUCILLE slowly sits down, softly clicking her heels once on the floor again. BALFOUR follows, and sits down as well.

FELICITY

They’re all so critical.

LUCILLE

They’re like a babbling eclipse of moths.

FELICITY

And all they care about is why we’re unmarried.

LUCILLE

Because a woman is nothing if she’s not a female honorific attached to a man’s name.

BALFOUR scoots his chair in towards the table quietly. LUCILLE’s statement resonates for a few seconds.

BALFOUR

Lottie kept her maiden name.

LUCILLE

That’ll make leaving easier.

BALFOUR looks uneasy. It is as if he is crumbling inside, but he is too proud to admit it, so he makes a somewhat-failed attempt at masking it. FELICITY moves as though she is going to stand up, but relaxes in her chair again. LUCILLE furrows her eyebrows.

BALFOUR

She’s bolting like a copper comet.

FELICITY stands and puts her elbows on the table, leaning forward.

BALFOUR

Mother has been acting a lot like Lottie did. She’s been smoking more fluently.

LUCILLE

She wouldn’t leave our father.

BALFOUR

I’m not saying she should, I’m just saying she’s acting like Lottie did.

LUCILLE

She thinks she’s too old.

FELICITY
She is, I think.

BALFOUR
But she looks at him like she wishes her eyes were hatchets.

LUCILLE

(Quietly) Her face is permanently jaded, and she tries to hide it with smiles, but she can’t. I don’t even know when it started.

FELICITY

We should have noticed it earlier.

LUCILLE is staring at the door, but it is as if her eyes are not focusing on anything in particular.

LUCILLE

She just lost herself at some point.

BALFOUR stands. There is a beat of silence as he walks over to where he stood against the wall before, and lets out a loud sigh.

BALFOUR

She likes these parties, though.

LUCILLE breaks her gaze to look at BALFOUR. She gives a slight smile.

LUCILLE

I know. That’s why we come.

FELICITY takes her elbows off the table and stands up straight. She walks around the table and sits down in the chair that BALFOUR had been sitting in. BALFOUR taps his hands against the sides of his thighs rhythmically, creating a steady, quiet, simple beat like the ticking of a clock. LUCILLE stands up too, as if having realized something. She looks around, thinking. She reaches for her wine glass, and takes a sip. FELICITY reaches out to LUCILLE for the wine glass, takes it from her hands, and sips as well. FELICITY hands the glass to BALFOUR. He hesitates, then stops his tapping, and takes the glass. He holds it up to his mouth, looks at FELICITY and LUCILLE, and then takes a sip as well.

FELICITY

We have to go back out, then.

BALFOUR

Are you sure?

FELICITY

(Nodding) For her.

BALFOUR hands the glass back to LUCILLE, who places it back on the table. LUCILLE smiles.

BALFOUR

(Nodding) Okay.

LUCILLE nods, too.

LUCILLE

Then let’s go glitter.

 

Two in Time by Lucy Sydel

A Note from the Playwright:

    This play may be performed in many different ways. The first production was originally played by a man and a woman, but One and Two may be played by actors of any gender, age, or ethnicity.
    In the original production, the actors worked with a combination of physical props and mime to represent the different objects in the play. However, other productions may choose to use as many or as few props as needed. It is important to note that there is no spoken dialogue in this play: any time the actors are “speaking,” they should not be mouthing the words but instead using gesture and movement to communicate. This play was initially performed with only two actors, but more actors can added if necessary (i.e. background guests at the party). Likewise, the music suggestions for each scene may be replaced or removed, especially in cases where it is not possible to obtain permission for copyrighted works. If used, music should be instrumental versions that are played continuously during each scene.

Scene 1

The curtain rises on a table, two chairs, and two doors.

(Music: playful and lighthearted, such as “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini)

One and Two are four years old. They are in a preschool classroom.

One and Two walk in, but in different ways -- One has his head down and is watching his feet as they move, and Two has her head up and is not looking where she is going.

One sits down and starts stacking blocks very carefully, making a castle.

Two bumps into the table, climbs onto it, and starts reading a picture book. She swings her legs as she reads. Two rips out a page, crumples it up, tries to eat it, doesn’t like it, and stuffs it down her shirt. This happens two more times. The second time, Two gets very angry that the paper does not taste good. Two chucks the crumpled up paper at One.

One is very frightened by the piece of paper. One does not see anyone behind him, so One becomes convinced that the paper flew on its own. One examines the paper like it is both the most beautiful and the most terribly frightening thing he has ever seen. One holds up the paper slowly and with the other hand, motions for it to fly. The paper does not fly. One decides the paper is not high up enough to fly. One stands up. The paper still does not fly. One is upset that the paper will not fly so he throws the paper. One immediately feels bad for the paper and runs after it.

Two has been watching One very intently. Two sees that One has left his block castle to pick up the paper. Two sees her chance, her face lights up, and she walks over to the castle.

One is still trying to make the paper fly. He tries blowing to make a wind, staring at it, and tossing it in the air, but none of these methods work.

Two knocks over the castle.

One runs over to the castle and mourns.

Two decides that this is very funny. Two laughs.

One is very scared. One looks up at Two with deer-in-the-headlights eyes. One looks back down at the castle, and starts to cry.

Two stops laughing and offers to rebuild the castle.

One is screaming and crying and punching the air.

Two salvages most of the castle, and presents it to One.

One stops screaming, looks at the castle for a few seconds, and then kicks it over.

One and Two both stand up, face the audience, and change to hold the posture of 13 year olds.

Scene 2

(Music: mischievous and suspenseful, such as “His Morning Promenade” by Charlie Chaplin)

One and Two are in a middle school lunchroom.

One sits down alone, takes everything out of his lunchbox, and sets it out on the table meticulously.

Two stands stage left of OneTwo opens her lunchbag, takes a bite out of a sandwich, doesn’t like it, and puts it back into the lunchbag. Two looks over at One, then walks up behind him, standing over the table with a mischievous expression.

One drops his napkin on the floor, and reaches down to pick it up.

Two knocks the lunchbox off the table.

One sits back up, and is about to eat the sandwich when he sees his lunchbox on the floor. He puts down the uneaten sandwich, and reaches below the table to find the lunchbox.

Two reaches over One as he bends down. Two snatches the sandwich. Two takes a very large bite out of the sandwich. Two puts the sandwich back on the table just as One sits back up. The outline of the bite in the sandwich is obvious.

One sits back up, and puts the lunchbox back on the table. One takes a deep breath, and picks up the sandwich to start eating it again. One sees the bite mark in the sandwich. One quickly pushes back his chair in fear.

Two, still standing behind One, gets hit by the chair as he pushes it back.

One looks up at Two. They both freeze.

Two is still chewing the bite of the sandwich. She looks around, hesitates, then sits down next to OneTwo takes One’s sandwich. Then she reaches into her bag or under the table to reveal a new sandwich.  

One reluctantly takes the new sandwich.

One and Two eat their sandwiches, each looking in the opposite directions.

One turns his head to look at Two.

Two notices that One is looking at her. She quickly looks away, and slightly down. After a moment, she turns to look at One.

One quickly looks away.

One and Two both continue to avoid each other’s eye contact, until Two gets up and walks slowly to stage right while eating the sandwich. Two does not fully exit, and stops before she reaches the door.

One stands up, looking towards Two as she leaves.

One and Two face the audience, and change to hold the posture of 25 year olds.

Scene 3

(Music: upbeat big band swing, such as “Sing Sing Sing,” by Benny Goodman)

One and Two are at a party.

Two saunters in, carrying a cup. She takes a drink.

One is standing around greeting people at the party.

Two sees One, realizes who it is, and walks over to tap his shoulder.

One turns his head, gets dizzy, trips, and knocks into someone at the party. He gets into a fight, and punches the other person. He then gets hit and falls into Two.

Two catches One.

One and Two freeze, and look at each other. They share a moment of surprise and recognition.

One spins Two around. They dance, moving stage right, then stop before they reach the door.

One and Two face the audience, and change to hold the posture of 35 year olds. Two exits stage right.

Scene 4

(Music: pensive and conveying tension, such as “Opening” by Philip Glass)

One sits down tiredly and nervously, holding a baby wrapped in a blanket and rocking it.

Two enters the room with slumped shoulders. She is coming home from work. Two takes off her coat and hat and hangs them up.

One rushes over to Two, and hands her the baby.

Two receives the baby, sits down, and starts rocking it.

One collapses into the other chair, exhausted.

Two begins to fall asleep as she rocks the baby. She catches herself just as she is about to fall over. After a few moments, Two falls asleep again and lists over to the side while still rocking the baby.

One notices, and walks over to Two, carefully takes the baby from Two and walks across the room.

Two continues to her rock her hands even though the baby is gone. Suddenly she wakes up, and is surprised to find that her arms are empty. Two thinks that she lost the baby. Two looks everywhere: under the chairs, under the table, behind herself. Finally, Two spins around and sees that One has the baby. Two is relieved. Meanwhile . . .

One’s phone rings. He picks up the phone, and starts to argue with the person on the other end while still rocking the baby.

Two sees that One isn’t paying attention to the baby. She runs over and takes the baby back. Two sits down with the baby, opens a computer, and starts typing. She gets distracted by something on the computer and puts the baby down on the table next to her.

One and Two are occupied with their devices for a few moments and the baby is in the center.

One continues to argue into the phone for a little while, then looks down into his empty arms, and realizes the baby is gone. One runs over to the table where the baby is lying.

Two looks up from her computer, and sees One standing over the baby.

One takes the baby, storms off, and exits to the door stage left. He slams the door in Two’s face.

Two takes her computer, puts it in her bag, and grabs her coat. She pauses, looks back, then exits to the door stage right.

Scene 5

(Music: nostalgic big band jazz, such as “Begin the Beguine” by Artie Shaw)

One and Two are 75 years old. They walk into the Senior Residence Center from two separate doors.

One and Two greet each other in the middle, warmly. They hug.

One pulls back a chair, and offers it to Two.

One and Two sit down.

One and Two both take out a stack of photographs and set them on the table. Then, in unison, they look, reach over, and slide the other’s photographs toward themselves. They look at each other, and both sift through the pictures.

Two takes a photograph, and shows One. This photo is of them in preschool.

One looks at the photo, pauses, and then shakes his head.

Two raises her eyebrows, and puts down the photograph. Then she slowly gets up and stands behind One, walking as if she is a child. Two knocks the stacks of photos down in the same way that she knocked down the blocks in scene 1.

One pretends to cry, and they both laugh at the memory.

One looks at the picture, then at the photos, then at Two. His face lights up as he remembers. Then he takes out another photo and hands it to Two.

Two looks at the photo, pauses, and shakes her head.

One stands up, and motions for Two to get up. One pretends to punch himself in the face. He stumbles back a little bit.

Two catches him the same way she did during Scene 3. She remembers, and they dance. She spins around slowly; their arms are crossed.

One spins away from Two, and leaves her with her arms crossed.

Two’s arms loosen and she pretends to rock a baby. She stops, looks up at One, and hides her hands behind her back.

One walks over to the table, takes a photo of their child, and holds it up to Two.

One and Two stand together looking at the photo in stillness.

One slowly leaves and walks away. He looks back once, and then exits stage left.

Two reaches for One’s hand, and is surprised to find he is not there anymore.

Two faces the audience, and changes to hold the posture of an 85 year old.

Scene 6

(Music: optimistic and sweet, such as “59 Street Bridge Song,” by Paul Simon, instrumental version by Hit Co. Masters)

Two walks across the stage, very slowly, then sits down.

Two is enjoying the day. Her eyes search the room, expectantly.

Two looks at the empty chair next to her, where One would have been. She looks down, confused. After a moment, she looks up again hopefully, but still does not see him.

Two spins around slowly but playfully, as if One is hiding right behind her. She turns around again, concerned.

Two stands up. Her hands are shaking on the table.

Two walks a little to her left, looking at the door, waiting eagerly for One.

Two turns and anxiously scans the room.

Two stumbles back a bit. Her panicked expression changes slowly to one that is mournful.

Two clasps her hands together, and looks up, as if in prayer.

Two closes her eyes, and lowers her head.

Curtain.

The Volunteer, The Ranger, and Margot: Scenes 1-3 by Anastassia Kolchanov

The Volunteer, The Ranger, and Margot

Characters:

National Park Service Volunteer (aka the Volunteer)-  a bald man in his 60s. He has no hat, and he is wearing a grey shirt, adorned with a patch and embroidered words. His hands are rough from a lifetime of working outdoors as a fisherman. He retired several years ago after sustaining a back injury. His brows are constantly knit in a furrowed expression.

National Park Service Ranger (aka the Ranger)- late 30s, has a blond beard and long blond hair. He is wearing the uniform and carrying a large backpack with hiking shoes dangling from the back. He is absolutely enchanted with the island and knows the inlets like the back of his hand. He talks a lot, but is not a chatterbox.

Margot- 12 years old, has thin dark brown hair that is usually in two braids. She has a basic understanding of the wilderness through camping  trips she used to take with her parents. Margot lives on the island in a community called Water Island, which is relatively secluded. Out of the three, she is the most talkative and has a bubbly personality.  

 

Act 1:

Setting: The Sunken Forest at Fire Island,  Summer 1976

 

Scene 1

AT RISE: The National Park Service Volunteer and the National Park Service Ranger are sitting together on a bench on the first ferry from Bay Shore to the Sunken Forest. It is a brisk, chilly morning with the smell of saltwater in the air.

 

Ranger    You know, I was talking to the cashier at the store today before I got to the docks. Grabbed a couple of stuff to get us through the day.

 

Volunteer    Yeah? The one on Grove? Thank God. That snack stand on the island ain’t got nothin’ but corn dogs and hot dogs. (mutters) Too many goddamn dogs.  

Ranger    Yeah. She asked me where I was heading off to so early in the morning. (laughs) I told her to look at my patch and she said “ Sunken Forest Fire Island”, where’s that? (beat) I couldn’t believe it. I mean, how can someone live so close to one of the most beautiful places on Earth and not know what it is?

Volunteer    Ah (scoffs) those folks never knew what they were talking about. They don’t care about nothin’. The goddamn Grand Canyon could be five minutes and they’d never know it cause they were too lazy to get up from their armchairs and TV dinners. I’m tellin’ you, these people are losing curiosity, you know, their will to live. Sooner or later they won’t give a damn about anythin’. (beat) Ever been to New York?
Ranger     Maybe once or twice as a child, but never liked it. It was so loud, I’d cover my ears until the day we were on the train home. Everyone in town is always so enchanted by that city but if you look at it straight, it’s just a pile of concrete.

Volunteer    Air is so disgusting there it might as well be like breathing into a smokestack.

Ranger    See that’s why I’d always wanna come back. The city might have all the galleries and shows, but out here… It’s always better. I like the bay when it’s calm. It seems to freeze over in an icy trance, even on the hottest days.

Volunteer     Nah, I like the water rough. After the storms in the ocean, though, it did have some kinda eerie stillness. Never liked it, ‘specially when we were hauling in the catch. Seemed like something was gonna happen.

Ranger    I guess that’s what made you the best fisherman on Fire Island! (laughs) My mother would always call you that. You were some kind of a local hero.

Volunteer    (laughs heartily) Damnit I hated that name. It’s like I was some kinda wimp who needed a trophy to prove himself. I wasn’t a wimp. No sir, I’d be the first to dive in the waves.

Ranger    You enjoyed it, though? Even with the nor’easters and the floods, the winds and the winters...

Volunteer     You take it cause it’s part of the job. It was our duty to protect the island, you know? To live off it and make a living. It was our pride. I loved it, the whole thing. My dad was a bayman, my grandad was a bayman. We’ve been here for a long time.

Ranger    Why’d end up moving to Bay Shore?

Volunteer     (long pause) In the end, the island always wins. Nearly took my life couple of years back. We were haulin’ in the catch and outta nowhere this storm comes and the waves were big... They nearly washed me into the ocean. I thought I was a gone man.

Ranger    (pause) I lived in Saltaire until I was about 20. I wanted to be a fisherman or a baymen, somethin’ of the sort. Then... (sighs heavily) I guess being a ranger is as close as I’ll get, huh?

Volunteer    It’s better than being one of them brainwashed crooks.     

(They both stare out into the bay. Finally, the Ranger sighs and stands up. The Volunteer follows suit. They slowly make their way to the lower level of the ship, where they would soon be docking).

 

Scene 2

(Footsteps are heard and the Ranger and the Volunteer are seen coming up the stairs at the front of the stage. They stand at the doorway, and the rest of the stage is dark. The Ranger unlocks the door (mimed or real unsure yet) , and finds the light switch. The lights illuminate the small, cramped space, and the Ranger and Volunteer enter the small National Park Service Sunken Forest shack. They start checking the windows and open areas to see if the nightly rain had found a way in (for it always does). They are completely oblivious to the green sleeping bag on the floor, until the Volunteer turns around to walk to the center of the room and feels that he stepped on something rather soft. In disbelief, he looks down, then looks up.)

Volunteer    Hey, (motions to the bag) this here last night?

Ranger    (turns around from a leak he was repairing) ...No?

Volunteer    (mutters) We’ve got someone here then.

Ranger     Looks like it. (beat) Should we… I dunno...Find the intruder?

Volunteer    (shrugs) I guess.

(There is a banner on the back wall which reads: National Park Service- 1916-1976: 60 Year Anniversary. The two start look around the space. There isn’t much room for one to hide in the shack. There’s a couple of bookshelves and brochure stands. The only significant pieces of furniture of the shack are the two counters: one in the back of the shack, and one at the side. They hear the opening of some plastic wrapping, which seems to be coming from behind the side counter where we see a girl with her knees drawn up to her chest, hiding )

Volunteer    Hey, (motions to the counter) back here

(They both stealthily go around and find Margot crouching behind the counter. She has two braids, and in one hand was an opened granola bar and in another was a small pendant. After several moments of silence, she smiles)

Margot    Mornin’, fellas!

(The Ranger and Volunteer slowly squat down to either side of her.)

Margot    Uh.. Sure is nice out there this mornin’, huh? ‘Specially after that squall last night, huh?

(Neither the Ranger nor the Volunteer dare say a word)

Margot    (looking at the windows) You guys have a real leaky cabin, huh? (forced laughter from Margot. When she sees that her joke caused no reaction, she sighs) I was patching up the leaks all night long. I would have been in knee deep water if I hadn’t. Luckily my dad (she pauses, and takes a deep breath), that’s right he taught me how to patch up leaks in the old cabin. (she smiles to herself as she reminiscences)

Ranger    (to himself) This is gonna be a long day.

Margot    Hey,( she snaps out of her day dream) I can hear you. (turns to the Ranger). What’s your name?

Ranger    I don’t have one.

Margot    (baffled) Everyone ‘s got a name. What’s yours?

Ranger     Don’t have one. I’m just the Ranger.

Margot    It’s real hard to imagine that. I honestly cannot even imagine how hard life must be if you don’t have a name. (she laughs)... And you? Don’t tell you don’t have one either!

Volunteer    Now wait a second there, miss. Before you get all smart with me, you gotta tell us who you are, and so help me God if you don’t.

Margot    (laughs again) I’ll tell you exactly who I am. I’m Jan Brady and I’m part of the Brady Bunch. I ran away from the family ‘cause it was just too much to handle. All that fame, you know? It’s real tough bein-

Volunteer    We ain’t  foolin around here, miss. If we don’t find out in the next 10 seconds your name, age, and where you’re from, I’ll have to call the police. Of course, if the wires ain’t tangled from those winds last night.

Margot    (a long sigh, then finally she starts speaking) My name is Margot, I’m 12 years old, and I can’t tell you where I’m from.

Ranger    Well.. why not? I don’t understand.

Margot    You’ll send me back if I tell you...

Volunteer    Send you back where?

Margot     ...Or you’ll start screaming and you’ll call  the child protection services and then I’ll be an orphan forever! (she springs up from her hiding place)

Volunteer    You sure talk a lot for a girl your age… Now tell me where you’re coming from and we’ll try our best to send you back home.

Margot    (shaking her head) I can’t go back.

Volunteer    What are you? Some kind of activist that can’t go back to their home country? You tell us-

Ranger    I hope you know that reference went completely over her head.

Volunteer    Well I ain’t too sure of that she’s pretty goddamn smart.

Ranger    (turning to Margot) First of all, tell us, are you in some kind of grave danger?

(There’s a moment of silence. Margot shifts around a bit in her spot. The Ranger and the Volunteer make eye contact and confused expressions, after all the situation is extremely bizarre and neither of them know what to do. )

Margot    Well, not exactly. See I, uh, went away. I didn’t run away, so you don’t have to call child protection services because the situation at home ain’t bad or somethin’ like that-

Volunteer    Miss, I still don’t understand. What do you mean by “went away”? You know, if your mom don’t know about it, they call it runnin’ away.

Ranger    Hush, she hasn’t finished.

(Margot looks down at her feet and walks to one of the windows, where she continues to stare off into the distance. She seems to be worried about something, but she has on a mask of coolness in effort to impress the Ranger and the Volunteer)

Volunteer    (taking the Ranger to the side) What the hell are we gonna do with this girl?

Ranger    Hey, there now,  she seems alright.

Margot    (still staring into the window) It looks like it’s gonna rain again.

Volunteer    Take it easy back there

Ranger    Don’t you have grandchildren?

Volunteer    Not when you haven’t seen them in 7 years.

Ranger    (sighing) Well we have quite a situation in our hands. I dunno, maybe we should call the office or the island police. .

Volunteer    We can’t  do that ‘cause we ain’t got no information about this girl. They’ll laugh in our faces if we tell ‘em we got some 12 year old girl and we know nothin’ else. Besides, the island police ain’t interested in you unless you got a lead on a drug bust.

Ranger     Yeah that‘s very true. You know they just had one a couple of days ago in the Fire Island Pines?

Volunteer    They‘re always trippin‘ on acid over there.     

Ranger    So what do we so about her?

Volunteer    (sighs) I guess she can hang around here while we figure somethin’ out. Meanwhile we gotta get all the brochure stands and benches outside.

Ranger    Yeah well get ’em out there. (looks to Margot) Hey, Margot. Wanna help us out?

Volunteer    (looks at the Ranger in a puzzled manner) Are you kidding me? She’s as skinny as a stick. She ain’t gonna be able to pick up those benches, we can hardly do it ourselves.

Ranger    I pick up the benches, you stand there rolling a cigarette.

Volunteer    (shrugs)  I got a bad back but you know, I’m there for the emotional support.

Ranger    (sighs) Well let’s get them out there.

Margot    (runs over) Hey you guys called me over?

(She’s standing there with her eyes sparkling. Margot is fidgeting a bit while the Ranger and the Volunteer stand on either side of her. The stage goes dark, and occasionally there are flashing lights from the back that illuminate their silhouettes that indicate the movement of the benches. The banjo accompaniment of “This Land is Your Land” starts to softly play. The three characters start to hum along whilst moving the benches as indicated with the flashing light. After around 1 minute, the stage lights slowly come back, and we can see that there is a bit more room in the shack ).

 

Scene 3

(When the lights come back on, we see that they are sitting together at the counter in the back)

Margot    (shifting around on her stool) Is it always this slow around here?

Volunteer    (looking through drawers) Depends.

Margot    Well aren’t there usually more people coming over here?

Ranger    I think the clouds are scaring the people. After all, they don’t want to be rained on at the beach.

Margot    Come on, there’s so much more to this island than just the sand! I mean, look at the trees and the dunes. The birds and deer. I really don’t understand those people.

Ranger    You took the words right out of my mouth.

Margot     Then there’s the people coming from the shore areas who come over with their jaws on the ground, sayin’, (in an exaggerated and funny voice) “MY GOD, Margaret! Who would’ve known that such a beauty was only 20 minutes away by boat?!” and then the wife would say, ( high pitched) “Oh Tommy you’re such a genius! Thank you for getting us out here to eat sandwiches, throw Coke bottles in the sand, and swim like a baby afraid of water!”

(The Volunteer and Ranger are laughing heartily, and Margot smiles)

Volunteer    (recovering from his laughing fit) You’re a sharp whip alright. (muttering with a smile) Swimming like a baby afraid of water. (grumbling) Jesus Christ where are those matches?

Margot     Whatcha lookin for?

Volunteer    Matches.

Margot    Cigarettes?

Volunteer    Pipe.

Ranger     Hey, I thought you were trying to quit.

Volunteer    (smiles) The habits of the sea don’t die so easy.   

Ranger     You’re a sly man. (takes the matches from the drawers on his side of the table) Here you go.

Volunteer    (laughs) See without my pipe, this rotten cabin wouldn’t have that rural feel-

Margot    (interjects) My dad used to smoke a pipe.

Volunteer    Really? What kind of a pipe did he smoke?

Margot     How am I supposed to know?

Volunteer     Well… (pauses) I suppose you could describe it to me.

Margot    I don’t remember it much. It’s been...kind of a long time.

Volunteer    Mhm. Well, my pipe is called the half bent taper because it bends slightly right here at the stem.

Margot    (pretending to be interested) Huh.

Volunteer     I used to smoke a quarter bent squat bulldog, but then after the accident I decided to change my habits a bit. I thought I didn’t have much time left, so I threw my pipe away. Big mistake on my part, cause I realized-

Margot     (loudly) Someone’s coming to the door!

Ranger    (straining to see) That should be… Randy, I believe.

( Randy comes into  the small station. He is a retired bayman who now owns his own boat dispatch business, but he often delivers the morning papers to the island communities. He’s a tough 85 year old man with a chipped tooth)

Randy        Mornin’ fellas. How’d you weather the storm?

Volunteer    Can’t call it much of a storm, can ya? (they laugh, and the Volunteer comes from behind the counter to hug him) How’ve you been holdin’ up?

Randy        My wife’s finally found the stash. Bless her soul, she was so angry.

Ranger    Well looks like you made it out alive.

Randy        You can count your lucky stars on that one today. Who knows what’ll happen when she finds the other stash (they all start laughing and Margot sits quietly at the counter, trying to cower away from sight).

Volunteer     Got the papers then, Randy?

Randy        Always got ‘em. 100 Fire Island Gazettes fresh off the press. (he places them in the small stand next to the counter and looks up to see Margot staring at him) Who’s this?

Ranger    Ah (he rubs his hand on the back of his neck in a flustered manner) That...  is (beat) Margot.

Randy        Margot, huh. (turns to Margot) And where’d you come from, Margot?

Margot    Water Island. (she instantly remembers too late  that she was trying to keep her origins a secret, and looks to the floor sheepishly)

Randy        God that’s real far.

(The Volunteer and Ranger groan)

Randy        What’s the matter?

Volunteer    Oh God Almighty (sighs heavily)  we’ve been trying to get that information out of her ever since she got here and now she just blurts it out to the first stranger that passes by. (turns to Margot angrily) Dont’chya trust us? (he is fuming)

Ranger    Hey, easy now. (turns to Margot) Hey, Margot (beat) why didn’t you...tell us where you were from? You know we...are trying to help you.

Margot    (looks around skittishly) I kind of... forgot that I didn’t tell you? (The Ranger and the Volunteer are visibly disappointed) It’s just that Randy reminds me so much of this man at Water Island  who used to go out on a skiff every morning with my dad. I dunno, I guess I thought it was him.

Randy     I actually was a bayman but I retired fifteen years ago. I used to work with (gestures to the Volunteer) this man over here. Damn good catcher, he was.

Volunteer    Ah, stop it would’ya. You weren’t so bad yourself. Now look at ya, ownin’ a business ‘n everything.

Randy     It ain’t so bad. Besides, it makes good money. And lemme tell you, it comes in handy when your wife wants to redo the livin’ room for the fourth time.

Margot    A bayman traps the fish in the Long Island Sound, right?

Randy        (laughs) Oh it’s much more than that.

Volunteer    (reminiscing) yeah, it was quite the life. (beat) I miss the water everyday.

Randy     Well if you ever feel like workin’ with water again, you can always call me.

Volunteer    And to be stuck with you for thirty more years? No thanks Randy I think I’ll pass (laughs)

Randy     What a joker. Oh (he turns to the Ranger)  By the way, Lauren is examining the boardwalk right now to the beach. She’ll be comin’ up in a couple of minutes.

Ranger    Has it already been a month? I thought she came last week?
Volunteer    Nope it’s been a month, pal. (pats him on the back) Better get the books then.

Randy     Mind if I wait around outside for a little while? I’m takin’ her from station to station for the monthly check ups. (looking at his watch) She’s throwin’ me off my time schedule, though. I have papers to deliver.

Ranger    Sure thing. I think they might have coffee at the snack stand at the docks.

Randy        They don’t make their coffee they way I like it. (sighs) I’ll try to knock some sense into their watered down shit--

Ranger    Ahem (nods his head towards Margot, still sitting at the counter)

Randy     Oh god, I’m sorry. (sways awkwardly side to side) Well, I’m gonna head out.

Volunteer    See ya, Randy.

Margot    Bye, Randy!

Randy        Nice meeting ya, Margot! (nods his head to Ranger) See ya.

 

I Am Blue by Stina Trollbäck

 

Dialogue that is italicized should also be taken as stage directions.

Each bullet point signals a change.

CHARACTERS:

6

12

SETTING:

All white room.

--------------------------

6

Six

12

And twelve

6

Stand staring at each other in an all white room. They are clad in simple black clothing.

12

Twelve and Six should be treated as their character names.

6

They do not have real names because they are so obsessed with things that are intangible.

12

They do not feel like they belong.

6

But their emotions are very real.

12

Very human.

  •  

12

I am Blue

6

Six walks ten paces to the left

12

Yeah. I’m blue. Periwinkle maybe.

6

I would say I’m pink.

12

No, I disagree. Well… What shade?

6

Light? Or maybe very dark. The kind of pink that’s almost red, but more rebellious than that.

12

You’re not rebellious, though.

6

Yeah, I know.

12

You’re light pink.

6

Six walks to Twelve.

  •  

6

What color is my hair?

12

Brown.

6

I think so too.

12

Is beige considered brown?

6

Beige is beige.

12

Name objects that are beige.

6

Why?

12

Please?

6

...Sand, unless it’s not. My classrooms at school. My skin.

  •  

12

What holiday would you be if you were a holiday?

6

6 sighs and lies down.

You’d be birthdays. I don’t know what I’d be, but you’d be birthdays.

12

Twelve walks out.

6

Six sits up and looks to where Twelve exited.

You’re the light from a fluorescent lamp that’s been swallowed by sunlight. I can only tell you’re lit because I see the particles in the air near you.

It’s always someone’s birthday, so that’s too many. Because light bulbs burn out sometimes, and you can’t be excited and lit up all the time. I understand that. But you’re still light. I think you’re the birthday of every person you’ve ever been annoyed at. You’re a gentle pink. You’re gingerbread cookie chicken noodle soup.

12

Twelve comes in and switches places with Six.

You’d be New Year’s.

6

Six walks out.

12

Twelve sits up, arm propped up on knee, and looks to where Six walked out.

Not the parties or the underage drinkers, but the dresses they wear. The excitement. You’re sparkly and iridescent and white. You’re seafoam green and bubbling. Wavy and striped.

You’re the minute after midnight on New Year’s Day. You’re the surprised, hopeless feeling. I think that moment is underestimated. It’s the instant when there’s a change that can’t be controlled. You’re time.

6

Six enters.

6 and 12

Six and Twelve face each other.

  •  

6

Do you remember the time we bought yellow neon knee-high socks and unthreaded the fibers so we could use them to make knitted neon necklaces?

12

Twelve nods.

We hung blue and red buttons from the yellow fibers and called ourselves primary.

6

We bought white sombreros and painted them with silver glitter.

12

We fought off killer orangutan flies and rhinoceros mirrors --

6

And marshmallow paper cuts and words.

6 and 12

Pause

6

Six starts walking a little.

  •  

6

Sometimes I don’t want to talk because the pressure is too much and I have to get every word right or someone will misinterpret or get sad, and that’ll be my fault.

12

Sometimes I don’t want people to think I’m a rainbow. I want them to think I’m a grey scale and I want to be dull so people won’t look at me, won’t think about me, won’t smell me. I just want to sit and observe and listen.

6

Why is being okay never an option? Why are we always striving to be unique even though we already are from the moment we are born.  Our planet is one of billions that are capable of life, and we’re so inconceivably small, but there is only one of each of us.

No two things that exist are the same, but we still don’t understand that uniqueness is a property of existence.

  •  

12

When I touch your hand, we’re not touching, because there’s always going to be a miniscule amount of space between our fingers.

6 and 12

Six and Twelve stand, each with hands stretched out in front of them against the other’s hands.

6

The distance between our fingers is the same distance between our feet and the ground, so we’re always hovering if you think about it.

12

Twelve and Six walk in semicircles, facing outward.

  •  

6

I wish I were as influential as a color.

12

Or light.

6

I wish I were a concept. Intangible, not tangible. Figmented. Something that can’t be described.

12

You can’t describe color to someone that can’t see.

6 and 12

Pause.

12

But I can describe you as a color, because in my life, you are that big.

6

Six walks out.

12

Twelve lies down, head opposite the way it was before.

You want to cut off your face and plaster it on a gazelle, because you’re not graceful enough. You’re not fast enough. Your bones don’t sit right, and your knees can swivel around too far. You want to hide under your windowsill and play with rose color barrettes. And you don’t think that’s normal. I think that’s normal because we’re all normal, and there is no normal.

12 fidgets and crosses legs in several different ways, and stands up, and sits back down, slowly this time.

  •  

12

I want to move to Algeria.

6

Six walks in.

You want to move to Algeria?

12

No, not particularly. I want to move to Nepal.

6

You do?

12

No, not really.

6

I would be unhappy.

12

Thank you.

6

I’d be blue.

6 and 12

Short silence.

12

I’d be pink for you.

6

Close your eyes.

6 and 12

Lights dim.

  •  

6

Picture a desert. Picture one that has no cacti or coin collections or dark chocolate. Picture a grey door with a hole in the middle that has no window. Or a fluorescent light turned on in a bright hallway at noon. And imagine a leaking faucet whose drips are all dripping in the same place; imagine the tangerine swirls of rust around the leak.

(Lights rise.)

12

Why?

6

Well if you went to Algeria, that’s what I’d be.

12

I see.

(12 hugs 6. They linger.)

12

I don’t want you to be blue.

6

You’re the one who is.

12

I’m not blue because of you.

  •  

(Quietly play Moonchild/In Your Quiet Place by Gary Burton starting at 2:24)

6

Sometimes I’m drowning while in the air, and no air is in my lungs, but there’s no water either. I fly drown. I swim jump.

12

Be in a cloud. There’s water and air there.

6

I’ll be a cloud. That way I can be drenched and float at the same time, and I can swim through myself while flying.

12

I’ll be your sky, light blue and continuous. You’ll be rose pink reflecting the sinking sun, and I’ll be indigo for your coral.

(6 and 12 hold hands.)

6

We’ll be colossal.

12

Vast and anxious. Glorious and afraid.

6

We won’t have to talk, either, we can just whisper as the wind.

12

I’ll hear your words in the rustling leaves and you’ll hear mine in the stars.

(6 and 12 make movements like they are the blowing wind. They spin around and abruptly sit down, then stand again and walk lightly to the back of the stage where they each pick up a bouquet of flowers. 6 picks up pink. 12 picks up blue. They hand the flowers off to the audience members.)
 

Human Experiment by Lucy Sydel

Grace and Sam are sitting and waiting for the bus. Grace walks up to Sam, who is trying to ignore her by reading his newspaper. Grace's lines should be read earnestly and naively while Sam's lines should be read sarcastically and with dull expression.

GRACE: Hello! Today is my first day in the real world.

SAM: Good for you.

GRACE: Okay. I am guessing that today is not your first day in the real world.

SAM: Bingo!

GRACE: Bingo?

SAM: Bingo.

GRACE: So. How many days?

SAM: How many days what?

GRACE: How many days have you been in the real world?

SAM: Oh. A few.

GRACE: Oh. You must really know your way around here, huh.

SAM: Um yeah sure.

GRACE: I really do not know my way around. I'm learning, though. To live in the real world. It seems really quite interesting.

SAM: Yeah, I guess so.

(A long pause. Grace studies Sam for any clues about his character. Sam is not a particularly interesting man -- he is middle-aged, bald, and his face is almost always in an apathetic expression. However, Grace is fascinated by him.)

GRACE: Your hands shake when you hold the newspaper. Why? Are you ignoring me? Why are you ignoring me? I do not like to be ignored. Wow. My first ever real world person is ignoring me. Is this how every real world person is? If so, I do not like the real world right now. (Pause) I want to have lots of friends in the real world. Do you have lots of friends?

SAM: Well, not exactly.

GRACE: You don’t have exact numbers of friends?

SAM: What?

GRACE: You said ‘not exactly.’

SAM: No. I just meant that I … how do I …

GRACE: You don’t have any friends, do you?

SAM: No.

(SAM is reading a newspaper. GRACE notices the back of SAM's newspaper.)

GRACE: (pointing) That's me.

SAM: What's you?

GRACE: What's me?

SAM: What?

GRACE: Oh. That's me. (points) On the back of your newspaper. See?

(GRACE grabs the newspaper out of SAM's hands and holds up the article with the picture of her next to her face. It is clear that GRACE is in the newspaper.)

SAM: ... Yeah. What the hell. (SAM grabs the newspaper out of GRACE's hands.) Why are you in the newspaper?

GRACE: Oh, I escaped.

SAM: You what?

GRACE: I escaped.

SAM: Um, okay. (SAM fumbles with the newspaper, dropping it on the floor. He has to bend over to pick it back up and this takes a lot of energy because SAM is older and has a bad back. Finally, SAM sits back up.)

GRACE: Well. What does it say?

SAM: What does what say?

GRACE: The newspaper, silly.

SAM: Oh. Well. Let's see... It says, "Twelve Year Old Experiment Escapes from Lab in Seattle."

GRACE: Oh. What else does it say?

SAM: (Clears his throat) Grace Greenwood is a 'human experiment' who has escaped from the YSCP Lab in Seattle. Researchers have been keeping her in captivity for twelve years in order to evaluate her growth and mental maturation without contact from the outside world. Grace and many others like her were all scheduled for release at the age of 35 in order to assess their social intelligence against that of the average citizen in Seattle. Grace has allegedly murdered four guards, who were all found lying on the ground with stab wounds. Grace was last seen wearing a dark red coat and black pants.

SAM: (pause) Well, shit.

GRACE: That's me!

SAM: I'm sorry. Is this some kind of a joke or something?

GRACE: No.

SAM: Okay. (SAM tries to fold the newspaper and put it in his bag calmly but it is obvious that his hands are shaking and that he is in a rush. He stands up and turns to leave.)

GRACE: Oh.

SAM: What?

GRACE: Are you leaving?

SAM: No, no, I just, uh, (checks his watch) I just better be going.

GRACE: Oh no! You can't go.

SAM: Why not?

(GRACE pulls out a butter knife).

SAM: Oh. (SAM sits back down. They sit in silence for ten seconds.)

SAM: You know, knives don't work on people from the real world.

GRACE: Oh. Why?

SAM: Um. Well it's simple really. It's just, um, our skin is just a lot stronger so you can't really hurt us.

GRACE: Oh. Are you sure?

SAM: Yeah.

GRACE: I'm not sure I believe you.

SAM: I'm pretty sure you believe me.

GRACE: No, I don't think I believe you.

SAM: Grace?

GRACE: Yeah.

SAM: Why are you doing this?

GRACE: Why am I doing what?

SAM: Why did you run away? What are you doing here? Why are you talking to me -- I'm the least interesting person you could talk to. Why the hell did you choose me?

GRACE: Well. I know why I'm talking to you. Why are you talking to me?

SAM: Because you have a butter knife.

GRACE: Oh. Right.

SAM: Yeah.

(Another ten second pause. It is clear that SAM is strategizing. SAM lunges for the knife and wrestles it out of GRACE's hands. SAM sits facing GRACE with the knife.)

GRACE: Wow. What are you going to do with that?

SAM: I really don't know.

GRACE: Will you give that back to me please?

SAM: Why?

(GRACE takes out a cloth napkin from her coat pocket and lays it out next to her on the bench. She unfolds it to reveal a slice of bread. Next, she takes out a jar of strawberry jam from her other pocket and puts it next to the bread. GRACE opens the jar of jam, looks up at SAM, and slowly takes the knife out of his hands. SAM lets her take the knife with a puzzled expression on his face. GRACE plunges the knife into the jam, and spreads it onto the slice of bread. She cuts the bread in half. She slowly looks up and holds out one half of the bread to SAM. SAM hesitates, and without lowering his gaze, slowly takes the slice of bread. They both take a bite out of the bread.)

 

CURTAIN