“Deleting Discontent”

I wrote “Deleting Discontent” in 2011 while I was living in China. I stayed there five years but not a semester passed that I wasn’t looking to live somewhere else, usually another foreign country. It will be included in our next project here in Oaxaca, being translated and performed in Spanish.

Synopsis: a man questions his place in the world.

CHARACTERS

BENNY, white male, 45

DEB, black or Hispanic female, 40

TIME: The Present

PLACE: New York City and China

1.

(Lights up on BENNY sitting at a table. He’s handsome and looks at least 10 years younger than his age. On his table is a laptop, a glass of beer [almost empty], peanuts, ashtray and cigarettes. On the floor next to the table are five empty half-liter beer bottles [Chinese Beer].

DEB, a naturally beautiful Black or Hispanic woman sits in a comfy chair or sofa. She is drinking bottled water.

BENNY types and we hear the SOUND of a Skype call)

BENNY: Hello? Can you hear me? Deb? Deb?

DEB: Hey, Benny. I can hear you. Can you hear me?

BENNY: I can. And we have video, too.

DEB: For now.

BENNY: For now. You’re lookin’ good. How do ya feel?

DEB: Tired as hell. I really should slow down.

BENNY: Yes, the life of an actor slash director slash stand up slash blogger slash girl looking for a boyfriend. Did I miss anything?

2.

DEB: No. And I may complain but I’m enjoying every bit of it. Like to find more sleep time, but…

BENNY: I need your advice.

DEB: Why? You never take it?

BENNY: I listen to it.

DEB: Whatever.

BENNY: I have three days to decide if I’m coming back to teach next year.

DEB: Stay. Why wouldn’t you? You love the country, the cuisine, your students—

BENNY: There’s lots of other reasons. Well, maybe only a couple, but conundrums they are.

DEB: What’s your friend, the universe, saying about all this?

BENNY: I’ve put it out to her.

DEB: She’s not returning your calls?

BENNY: Go ahead and laugh but if you’d just open your mind a little…

DEB: I am open-minded.

3.

BENNY: Yeah, well, not about everything.

DEB: You’re right. No threesome with my sister.

BENNY: Now, there’s an open-minded—

DEB: Slut. Listen, if the universe works for you.

BENNY: Let’s talk about my problem, okay? Hey, where’re you going?

DEB: I gotta pee.

BENNY: Take your laptop.

DEB: No.

BENNY: C’mon, for old time’s sake.

DEB: You forgot what it looks like?

BENNY: Hell no. Well, maybe the image is getting a little fuzzy. You know, my memory ain’t what it used to be.

(DEB exits)

DEB: (from off-stage) Use your imagination.

BENNY: (Louder) Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, know what I mean? You used to be more compassionate. You know how long it’s been since—

(The sound of a toilet FLUSHING. DEB enters and sits)

DEB: You lost your viewing rights when we split.

BENNY: Just wanted a little peek.

4.

(DEB unbuttons two buttons of her blouse)

BENNY: That’s all I get? A little cleavage?

DEB: Take it or leave it.

BENNY: I’ll take it, I’ll take it. But, can you hold your computer above your head, looking down, like this? Give me a little better angle?

DEB: No. Pig.

BENNY: So, anyway, do you remember St. Louie Lucy?

DEB: Vaguely, although why you thought I’d be interested in hearing about all your –exes…

BENNY: She’s the one I really, really liked but never pulled the trigger on because I’m an idiot.

DEB: Duly noted.

BENNY: So, I found her on the Net. After twenty years. Can you believe it? We’ve Skyped a ton of times and she’s more beautiful than I remembered and it’s like everything I want it to be.

(BENNY waits for a response.  None arrives)

We’re both available and we agree on all the important things, except one. Unless I move back to the states…

DEB: Why?

5.

BENNY: She’s set in her law career, even though there’s a teacher here that gave up his practice to—it doesn’t matter.  She’s forty and just made partner. My situation is a bit more fluid, although as my students are fond of saying, “Every coin has two sides.” I really like living here, the food is great, the people are friendly, I’ve traveled to five countries in three years and I’m doing three weeks in Europe this summer. Someone told me teaching is my part-time job.

DEB: And America’s not an option because…

BENNY: You got all day? (Beat) Ok, yes, I could go back and teach English to immigrants, but if I’m going to get Guatemalans to say ‘My name is Pedro,’ I want to do it in Guatemala, not Queens. And how long would anyone be my friend if every time they saw me I bitched about not living overseas?

DEB: Not long. (beat) Think back to when we were together.

BENNY: I never should have left you.

DEB: You had to leave. Or I would’ve. We both thought we could morph into someone we weren’t.

BENNY: I didn’t try and change you.

DEB: Do you really listen to me? Your life is all about change, adventure.

BENNY: You know my track record with relationships. It sucks.

DEB: It’s not about—arrgghh!! Okay, another example. My first time around doing stand-up I was opening for the biggest R&B acts in the biz. I was playing Vegas.

6.

BENNY: Was what? You’re breaking up. Can you hear me?

DEB: Yes. Should I call you back?

BENNY: No, you’re back. So, you were playing with yourself—

DEB: I said I was playing Vegas.

BENNY: Let’s go with playing with yourself, cuz you know it’s been a while since I’ve had a woman.

DEB: You’re a sick man, Benny. I was playing Vegas and making very good money. I was happy as hell, but not content. I kept nagging my manager, where’s my three-picture deal; where’s my sitcom? All that discontent started eroding my happiness. I gave it all up. I was heading for my 19th nervous breakdown.

BENNY: So, it’s all about contentment?

DEB: It’s about maximizing both. (Pause) Oh, oh, you’ve got that deep thinker look.

BENNY: Doing a quick inventory. (short pause) Searching for my discontent.

DEB: Maybe you don’t have any.

(BENNY exits)

Hey!

BENNY: I can hear you.

DEB: Personally, I have very little of it.

7.

(BENNY enters with another beer)

BENNY: Wouldn’t it be great if we could just delete our discontent and anything else we didn’t like about ourselves?  You know, like on a computer?

DEB: Is that another beer?

BENNY: My second.

DEB: How many empties on the floor? You always liked to keep track.

BENNY: None. One. So, the way I see it, nobody is absolutely content. Not even animals. Birds always want a bigger worm. Squirrels want bigger nuts.

(DEB laughs loudly)

To eat, I mean. You know what I’m saying.

DEB: I know. And all I’m saying is that life’s a balancing act. Increase the happiness by decreasing the discontent to find a livable balance.

BENNY: For a creative type, Deb, you’re pretty damn logical.

DEB: We can’t all live on our feelings, Benny.

BENNY: I think things through.

DEB: Name the last time.

(BENNY lights a cigarette)

8.

BENNY: I’m lonely. I need physical contact. Not sex, necessarily, although that would be nice. You know it’s been so long.

DEB: Benny!!

BENNY: Sorry.

DEB: So, find somebody. You never had a problem over here.

BENNY: Maybe, but it’s a little different in this culture.  First, there are my students. Beautiful, sexy, intelligent and fun…Do you think twenty-five years is too big a gap?  Then there are the recent graduates working in the city.  Beautiful, sexy, intelligent and fun. Do you think twenty years is too big a gap? Divorcees. Not as beautiful or sexy because they’re older and have had children, but still attractive. The problem is finding them. They work and go home to the kid. Foreigners are teachers, mostly. My choices are limited as they’re mostly white chicks, but a few are from the Pacific Rim. I’d have to go to the ex-pat bars to find them though and I did that for decades. Look for chicks in bars in the states. No thanks. And many of them are also under thirty. So, you see, I’m not exactly in an enviable position.

DEB: But, you don’t look your age.

BENNY: Babe, it doesn’t matter if I look twenty, the fact is I’m old and most of these women eventually want to get married and have a baby. Do I? I don’t know. There’s this one student. I’m afraid I’m falling in love, silly as it sounds. She’s twenty but only a freshman, so I’d have to stay here another three years. I haven’t even kissed her, but I can’t remember the last time a woman made me feel so content. So, there’s your word. My contentment lies with a twenty year-old.

9.

DEB: How much do you still like Lucy?

BENNY: Maybe a lot.

DEB: Then?

BENNY: She smokes.

DEB: Oh, please.

BENNY: Yeah, but I’m a once a week social smoker. She’s a perennial all-star hall-of-famer. She’s the bloody Michael Jordan of smokers.

DEB: So, wait. The universe will provide, right?

BENNY: It always has.

DEB: Listen, I gotta run. I have an audition this morning.  Off-Broadway with a decent contract.

BENNY: Good luck. And thanks for listening. Love you.

DEB: Love you, too.

BENNY: Come visit me.

DEB: You got the money?

BENNY: Wanna hear my new theme song?

DEB: I really gotta go, Benny.

BENNY: It’s short.

10.

DEB: Let’s hear it.

(BENNY PLAYS “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” as he drinks his beer. Lights fade to black)

THE END

You can request the Spanish translation by emailing me at mjinoaxaca@gmail.com.

 

“A Terrible Tourist”

I wrote this play after overhearing a tourist complaining to a local in Oaxaca for not being able to speak English. Granted, it would help her because she comes into contact with foreigners regularly at the souvenir store where she works.  BUT, this is Mexico so I put all the fault on the tourist, with his white privilege and arrogance, for not learning even the basics of tourism Spanish. This happens more often that you think.

This play will be produced later this year as part of our second “Una noche de las obras cortas.”

“Terrible Tourist” synopsis: a tourist in Mexico who can’t speak Spanish learns a lesson.

CHARACTERS

Ray, an American, average build and good looking

Blanca, a Mexican, very attractive

PLACE: A side-of-the-road restaurant in a mountainous rural area in Mexico

TIME: The present

1.

(Lights up on two small tables with two or three chairs at each. A chalk written menu hangs on the wall listing 4 or 5 food offerings in Spanish. A radio plays Mexican music. BLANCA, dressed casually and wearing a traditional Zapotec apron, sits at a table and reads a magazine. RAY, his t-shirt sweat soaked and his face a little grimy, enters and stops as he wipes his face with a small towel)

RAY: Oh my god, food. Finally. (To Blanca) Hello, uh, hola.

BLANCA: Hola. ¿Cómo estás?

RAY: I’m fine. Ok. Buena. No, Bueno. She’s a girl so maybe buena, but I’m a man, so maybe bueno. Speaker or spoken to. Dammit! I’m fine, thanks. Wow, you’re beautiful.

BLANCA: Boo-ti-ful. Ah, bonita. ¿sí?

RAY: I don’t know bonita. But, you are definitely beautiful, hot. Uh, like Salma Hayek.

BLANCA: Yo? Como Salma Hayek? Conoces a Salma Hayek?

RAY: Co-no says? Cono-six? Uh, no comprendo.

BLANCA: Cansado?

RAY: What?

BLANCA: Te ves cansado.

RAY: This is not good. Do you speak English? (pronounces the ‘h’) Haba English?

2.

BLANCA: No hablo Inglés.

RAY: I speak Chinese. Do you speak Chinese? Ni hao.

BLANCA: Hablo español.

RAY: Dammit. Oh, wait. Uno monumento. (Takes a cell phone from his backpack) Do you have WiFi?

BLANCA: No wee-fee.

RAY: Shit.

(RAY puts the phone back in the backpack and rummages for something else)

BLANCA: ¿Hablas español?

RAY: No.

BLANCA: ¿Un poquito?

RAY: ¿Poquito?

BLANCA: (putting her thumb and forefinger close together) Poquito. Un poquito.

RAY: Small? Close? Little?

(RAY rummages in his backpack again)

Great. Just freakin’ great. I lost my notebook. I need food. (gestures eating) Food. Food.

BLANCA: ¿Comida?

3.

RAY: What’s comida? No, I want food. You know, tacos, enchiladas.

BLANCA: No tacos. No enchiladas. Tenemos sincronizadas, enfrijoladas y tlayudas.

RAY: Toyotas? I’m hungry enough to eat one.

(RAY sits and drinks from a bottle of water he took from his backpack)

I’ll be adios-ing in a minute. (waving) Just let me rest for a minute.

BLANCA: ¿Cómo se llama?

RAY: Ah, finally something I understand. My se llama is Ray.

BLANCA: Ray?

RAY: Ray. R-A-Y. Ray. Like a ray of sun.

BLANCA: Ray. Soy Blanca.

RAY: Soy Blanca. Interesting name.

BLANCA: No soy Blanca. Solo Blanca.

RAY: Ok, Solo Blanca. My bad.

BLANCA: No, no. Soy Blanca, pero no Soy Blanca. Solo Blanca.

(RAY is totally confused)

RAY: You know what? I’m just going to call you Blanca. It’s easier. And my favorite movie is Casablanca.

BLANCA: ¿Qué?

RAY: Ok? No, it’s great! A real love story.

(BLANCA smiles and nods. RAY gestures as needed during the following)

This has not been my best day. I started on a hike this morning, you know, walking, in the mountains. But, I never found the village I was looking for. You know village, right? Small place, only a few people, not many houses. Dammit, what’s that word? So, I’ve been walking for hours trying to find someone to help me. You don’t understand anything I’m saying do you? Let’s try food again. Do you have eggs?

BLANCA: Ex?

RAY: Yeah, ex. Like from a chicken.

(RAY walks like a chicken while clucking. He gestures that eggs fall from his butt)

BLANCA: (laughing) Ah, huevos.

RAY: Yeah, ey-bos. Do you have ey-bos?

BLANCA: No hay huevos. Te voy a cocinar una tlayuda.

RAY: Try—

BLANCA: No, no. Tlay. Tlay.

RAY: Tlay.

BLANCA: Sí. Ahora dices tlay-uda. Tlayuda.

5.

RAY: Tlayuda. Tlayuda. I got it!!! Sí, I want a tlayuda. What is it? Chicken, beef, vegetables? (No response) Ahh, this is useless. Where can I find a bus? (More gestures) You know, big car. Many people.

BLANCA: ¡Ahh! ¿El autobús?

RAY: Autobús. Yeah, that’s probably it. To Puerto Escondido. To la mer, la mar, la more. (beat) The ocean.

BLANCA: Sí. Mañana en la mañana a las ocho.

RAY: Tomorrow, tomorrow, eight. Two days from now?

BLANCA: Autobús. Mañana en—

RAY: I know, I know. Mañana, mañana. Ok, let’s try for a hotel. Somebody will speak English there. Uh, dónde hotel?

BLANCA: ¿Hotel? ¿Quieres un hotel?

RAY: Yes. Sí, sí. Hotel.

BLANCA: No hotel.

RAY: Okay. Adiós.

(RAY puts on his backpack and exits. BLANCA waits a few seconds, moves towards the exit and stops)

BLANCA: Hey, Ray. I thought you wanted a tlayuda.

6.

(RAY enters)

RAY: What the hell? All this time you knew…

BLANCA: I’m sorry, it gets boring up here. This is just my way of having some wicked fun.

RAY: Fun for you, maybe.

BLANCA: Have a seat over here.

(THEY both sit)

RAY: Have you lived in the US?

BLANCA: Colorado. Ten years.

RAY: So, that’s where you learned English.

BLANCA: I actually knew a lot before I went. That’s what Americans want, right?

RAY: It is.

BLANCA: So, when I see foreigners in Mexico who can’t speak Spanish, I have some fun with them.

RAY: I’m such a terrible tourist. (beat) Do you finally speak English to all of us losers?

BLANCA: No.

RAY: Why me?

7.

BLANCA: Porque tienes unos ojos bien bonitos.

RAY: What?

BLANCA: Never mind. One tlayuda coming up.

(Lights down)

THE END

Los 8 textos de “Una noche de obras cortas”

Para mis amigos hispanohablantes en Oaxaca y hispanohablantes de todo el mundo, aquí están los textos de “Una noche de obras cortas”.

Por favor, disfrute de leerlos y por favor comparta esta página. Gracias.

importa (does it matter)

un plan (a plan)

todo o nada (all or nothing)

percepcion (perception)

relaciones sexuales (sexual relations)

la broma (the prank)

y si…(what if)

lo harias (would you)

“Would You?”

“Would You?” is #8, the final play from “Una noche de las obras cortas” (A Night of Short Plays) that was produced in Oaxaca, Mexico in June 2018.

Please scroll down the page to read the other plays I’ve published. You can read them quickly and I know you’ll find them enjoyable.

“Would You?” synopsis: Beauty vs a bad habit in determining whether to approach someone.

CHARACTERS

A: a male

B: a female

TIME: The Present

PLACE: At the beach

The characters have no names which puts no limits on who can be cast. All ages, races and ethnicities should be considered.

1.

A: It’s hard to say.

B: That’s no answer. Would you?

A: Are you listening?

B: Yes.

A: Okay then.

B: You still have to choose.

A: I’m tired of this game.

B: You chose it.

A: I know. I’m an idiot.

B: Maybe a different topic?

A: Are there any left?

B: Not many.

A: Let’s just finish this one.

B: Ok. Would you?

A: Tell my mother?…

2.

B: That your father is cheating.

A: Is she dying?

B: What difference—

A: A lot.

B: Fine.

A: If she is, then no.

B: If she isn’t?

A: I don’t know.

B: At least you answered something.

A: Thank you.

B: You’re not very decisive.

A: It’s my burden.

B: You like to ponder.

A: I almost majored in philosophy.

B: Now you teach physics.

3.

A: Yeah. How’d that happen?

B: There’s the “work” you.

A: And the “personal” me.

B: Unlike me.

A: Unlike you. The decision maker.

B: Not about everything, though.

A: No?

B: You’d be surprised.

A: Such as?

B: Socks.

A: Would you wear yellow socks?—

B: On Christmas? How’d you know?

A: I didn’t. That’s your dilemma?

B: It’ll give me a breakdown.

A: Red is the obvious color.

4.

B: Not in my world.

A: Glad I don’t live there.

B: Pray you never do.

A: So many beautiful people here.

B: More than usual.

A: I wonder why.

B: Don’t question “eye candy.”

A: True.

B: Especially her.

A: Who her?

B: Over there. Tall, thin, beautiful.

A: That doesn’t help.

B: Reading the book.

A: Oh my god!!!

B: Unbelievable, right?

5.

A: Never seen her before.

B: Me, neither.

A: Definitely my type.

B: Definitely everybody’s type.

A: Agreed.

B: Go talk to her.

A: Maybe she wants you.

B: Maybe, but I doubt it.

A: Got your gaydar working?

B: No, just a feeling.

A: Could I afford her?

B: She does look high maintenance.

A: And I’m just a teacher.

B: Ask her to join us.

A: If she says no…

6.

B: Nothing lost. But, if she—

A: Say yes…

B: So, go.

A: I will.

(A doesn’t move)

B: What?

A: Don’t rush me.

B: Is there a problem?

A: Yes. I need something.

B: What?

A: Courage.

B: I’ll wave her over.

A: Don’t do that.

B: You don’t go, I’m leaving.

A: Ok, I’ll talk to her.

7.

(A starts to walk)

B: (loud whisper) Wait!

A: What?

B: Look.

A: Look at what?

B: What she’s doing.

A: Scratching her nose.

B: Not scratching!

A: Well, she’s not picking it.

B: Really? Look closer.

A: Girls that beautiful just don’t.

B: You’re the expert?

A: They don’t do anything nasty.

B: No bodily functions?

A: I like to think not.

8.

B: Mister Dream World.

A: She didn’t do it.

B: Not yet.

A: You think she will?

B: I’m willing to bet. You?

A: How much?

B: Twenty dollars.

A: Where’s your confidence? Fifty.

B: Wanna see confidence? One hundred.

A: It’s a bet!

B: So, let’s say she does.

A: Pick it?

B: Yes. You still approach her?

A: No. (pause) I don’t know.

B: So, you might.

9.

A: Nobody’s perfect.

B: But, doing it…in public?

A: She hasn’t done it, yet.

B: What if she did it—

A: It won’t happen.

B: —After a great first date?

A: I saw her do it?

B: Yes.

A: Hmm. Tough decision.

B: What about after great sex.

A: Wow. Yellow socks on Christmas.

B: Exactly.

A: Sex changes everything.

B: With her it would.

A: Difficult to give that up.

10.

B: Look. She’s going for it.

A: No.

B: Such long, thin fingers.

A: For playing the piano.

B: (B puts finger next to her nose) And this.

A: No way.

B: The finger is in.

A: I can’t believe it.

B: I win!

A: I’m devastated. Heartbroken.

B: Double or nothing?

A: On what?

B: She does it again.

A: She won’t.

B: Then, let’s bet.

11.

A: Ok. Oh my god!

B: What?

A: Can you see? It’s huge.

B: Like a grape.

A: A kiwi.

B: Imagine if we were closer.

A: Yeah, maybe a grapefruit.

B: And her nose is small.

A: Must be deep.

B: Nobody sees her.

A: Just us, you think?

B: We have the perfect angle.

A: Behind and to the side.

B: Now, she’s playing with it.

A: Arrgh. (hands over eyes) Saving it for later?

12.

B: Maybe for lunch. (beat) Oh, cle-ver.

A: What?

B: She hid it.

A: Where?

B: Inside her book.

(A spreads his fingers to look)

A: I don’t see it.

B: Covered her face with it.

A: Never thought she’d do it.

B: She’s a professional.

A: Is she going in again?

B: Looks like it.

A: To the other nostril.

B: With her other hand.

A: She’s ambidextrous.

13.

B: She’s had lots of practice.

A: Gotta admire talent like that.

B: You owe me two hundred.

A: I know.

B: Double or nothing again?

A: On what? She’s outa hands.

B: She eats them.

A: That’s disgusting.

B: Maybe, but that’s the bet.

A: Okay. She’ll never…

B: You’re sure about the bet?

A: Absolutely.

B: Would you? Right now?

A: Would I what?

B: Would you still date her?

14.

A: Depends.

B: Are you kidding?! On what?

A: If I win this bet.

B: So, just picking is okay?

A: It’s not a deal breaker.

B: It’s a habit. Like heroin.

A: She’s not an addict.

B: What if you lose?

A: I won’t.

B: Maybe you spoke too soon.

A: I think she’s just yawning.

B: Hand close to her mouth.

A: Close means nothing.

B: Mouth opening.

A: (Pointing finger towards girl) Don’t, don’t, don’t.

B: (Pointing finger towards girl) Eat, eat, eat.

(Lights down)

THE END

“What If?”

This is play #7 in “La noche de las obras cortas” (The Night of Short Plays) produced in June 2018 in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“What If?” synopsis: Two people wanting to move on after recent breakups.

CHARACTERS

A

B

They can be any combination of age, race or gender

TIME: It’s always the present

PLACE: Anywhere

1.

(Two actors somewhere. Each has their phone out and a drink in front of them)

B: You’re not listening.

A: Huh? Uh, yes, yes.

B: What’d I just say?

A: Something about more shit.

B: Not even close.

A: Um, Dover cliffs.

B: Pay attention!

A: Okay.

B: Are-you-over-it?

A: So over it.

B: Like me and my –ex?

A: You’re not over that.

B: Have been.

A: You constantly call.

2.

B: Owes me money. Lots.

A: You’ll never see it.

B: Maybe, but I’m over it.

A: Never.

B: Just like you.

A: Totally different situation.

B: Exactly the same.

A: I dumped. You got dumped.

B: A breakup is a breakup.

A: So not.

B: What are you doing now?

A: Message—nothing.

B: So not over it.

(B extends their hand asking to see the phone.)

A: No.

3.

B: I can just take it.

A: Hah! Try it.

B: You know I can.

A: Try.

B: I’m stronger.

A: I’ve been working out.

B: Since when?

A: Since…I have more time.

B: Hard to tell.

A: Just toning. Not muscles.

B: You don’t need muscles.

A: That’s what I thought.

B: Getting back in the game?

A: Just getting fitter.

B: You’re good looking.

4.

A: Thanks.

B: Won’t take you long.

A: I’m not available.

B: Not now.

A: Not for a long while.

B: Who are you messaging?

A: No—no one.

B: You promised to quit.

A: I’m deleting.

B: Liar, liar, pants on fire.

A: Honest.

B: What if…

A: I’m not playing.

B: Afraid?

A: Waste of time.

5.

B: Fun to play, though.

A: What’s done is done.

B: Just one. Different topic.

A: Let’s hear it.

B: What if…I died tomorrow?

A: I’d take your Beemer.

B: So sensitive.

A: What, I should cry?

B: It’s an option.

A: What if I died tomorrow?

B: Before me or after?

A: Such a comedian.

B: I’d go to work.

A: No shit?!

B: You die, the world stops?

6.

A: I guess not.

B: What if the call comes?

A: (sings)Stop right there.

B: (sings) Before I go any further?

A: You got it, Meatloaf.

B: My favorite album.

A: What if you get one?

B: A call from—?

A: Yes. Or they came here?

B: This isn’t about me.

A: Touchy, touchy.

B: Not at all.

A: Because (sings) You’re cold as ice.

B: (sings) Willing to sacrifice.

A: (sings) Your love.

7.

B: Told you. Way over it.

(THEIR phones ring. They look at them and disconnect)

A & B: Was it?…No.

B: You were hoping.

A: No way.

B: I saw your face.

A: You still have feelings, too.

B: Honestly?

A: Of course.

B: A few.

A: How strong?

B: Medium and waning. You?

A: Depends on the day.

B: Yeah.

A: We need to move on.

8.

B: Definitely.

A: What if…?

B: Yes?

A: No, it’s crazy.

B: Tell me.

A: You and me.

B: Us?

A: You. Me. Us.

B: Ridiculous.

A: I know, right? Sorry.

B: It’s okay.

A: You and me. Never work.

B: Probably, not, but…

A: What? You think it could?

B: Why not?

9.

A: (pause) Yeah, why not?

B: We know each other.

A: Better than anybody.

B: We have common interests.

A: Totally.

B: Might be worth a shot.

A: Be foolish not to try.

B: Absolutely!

A: So, we’re actually a couple?

B: From this moment on.

A: Wow.

(The sound of a DOORBELL [KNOCKING]. A & B look towards the door. Blackout)

THE END

“The Prank”

Play #6 in “La noche de las obras cortas” (The Night of Short Plays) produced in June 2018 in  Oaxaca, Mexico.

Synopsis: A patient pranks their doctor.

CHARACTERS

A

B

TIME: The Present

PLACE: Some place

1.

A: You said you’d help me.

B: And I will.

A: You won’t back out?

B: No.

A: Everyone else has.

B: I’m not them.

A: That’s encouraging.

B: I always keep my word.

A: This could test that.

B: We’ll see.

A: You don’t know the task.

B: It doesn’t matter.

A: It’s extreme.

B: Extreme doesn’t scare me.

A: I’ve had a good life.

2.

B: Better than good.

A: Almost perfect.

B: I wouldn’t go that far.

A: As lives go.

B: Better than most.

A: Better than most.

B: Successful business.

A: I’m rich.

B: Quite rich!

A: But, not happy.

B: Really?

A: I’m not into things.

B: What then?

A: Experiences.

B: Such as.

3.

A: Saving that woman.

B: From her burning car.

A: Right place, right time.

B: You’re a hero.

A: No, but it was fulfilling.

B: You were on CNN.

A: I didn’t want that.

B: What else?

A: Winning the spelling bee.

B: When?

A: Fifth grade.

B: Good experience?

A: Good? Great! The best!

B: Why?

A: I beat Frank Collins.

4.

B: Who was that?

A: Smartest kid in the class.

B: Good for you.

A: My greatest moment growing up.

B: You’ve had a full life.

A: Yes.

B: Many achievements and memories.

A: Yes. There’s another. Happened yesterday.

B: Let me guess.

A: Go ahead.

B: I know you well.

A: Then it should be easy.

B: You won the lottery?

A: You don’t know me.

B: Why not?

5.

A: I don’t play the lottery.

B: One time we played.

A: Yeah, jackpot was a billion.

B: Never again?

A: Never. Next guess.

B: You’re dating your personal trainer.

A: That’s so shallow.

B: You’re shallow.

A: I am not.

B: You used to be.

A: Not anymore.

B: Prove it.

A: How?

B: See that guy over there?

A: The one with five chins?

6.

B: Yes. I know him.

A: Would I date him?

B: Great singer. Wicked SOH.

A: SOH?

B: Sense of humor. Fabulous cook.

A: Probably taken.

B: He’s not.

A: Not?

B: Not.

A: Wow. I don’t know. Tempting.

B: I’ll call him over.

A: I’ll kill you.

B: Still shallow.

A: I have standards.

B: So, no personal trainer?

7.

A: No. Last guess.

B: (thinking) I give up.

A: You wanna hint?

B: Ok.

A: What’s my favorite sport?

B: Golf. Oh my god!

A: What?!

B: You didn’t. No, you did!

A: Did what?

B: You made a hole-in-one! Congratulations!

A: Thanks. What a thrill!

B: So hard to do.

A: Perfection.

B: Exactly.

A: It’s also the end.

8.

B: End of playing golf?

A: End of living.

B: That’s funny.

A: I’m serious.

B: You can’t be.

A: Why not?

B: It’s crazy!

A: People commit suicide every day.

B: Every hour, maybe, but still…

A: So, you think I’m crazy.

B: Not in a clinical sense.

A: I’m perfectly sane.

B: Ok, then explain your decision.

A: I’ve achieved perfection.

B: That’s your reason.

9.

A: Nothing more to live for.

B: You can find perfection again.

A: How?

B: Bowling.

A: I’d rather be dead.

B: There must be something else.

A: Stop it. I’ve decided.

B: I want a better reason.

A: Go out on top.

B: That’s bullshit.

A: It’s not.

B: You must have other goals.

A: None I can’t live without.

B: Or die. What about Africa?

A: What about it?

10.

B: You’ve always wanted to go.

A: Haven’t been lotsa places.

B: Well, there you go.

A: Perfection in travel is difficult.

B: There’s travel perfection?

A: Sure. Visit every country.

B: Yeah, go for that!

A: I’m rich, not Gates rich.

B: True.

A: It’s a hassle. Tickets. Hotels.

B: Your mind’s made up.

A: Yes.

B: Suicide it is.

A: Suicide it is.

B: What’s your plan?

11.

A: You mean the method?

B: Yes.

A: I’m not sure. Look.

(A opens the backpack and takes out some rope, a bottle of pills and a knife)

B: No imagination.

A: What about the subway?

B: Also trite.

A: Any creative ideas?

B: A pit of poisonous snakes.

A: Sounds painful.

B: Very poisonous snakes. Quick death.

A: Where would I find them?

B: I know someone. A herpetologist.

A: A herpe-what?

B: Herpetologist. Person who studies snakes.

12.

A: Really?

B: Works at a university.

A: You’re going to help me?

B: Of course.

A: But, you’re my doctor.

B: And your friend.

A: You’re supposed to dissuade me.

B: It’s your wish. When? Tomorrow?

A: No.

B: The sooner the better.

A: No, I’m only joking.

B: Joking?

A: (laughs) Yeah. A prank.

B: A prank.

A: With a new twist.

13.

B: What’s that?

A: Patient gives doctor bad news.

B: Unique.

A: Are you mad?

B: Am I mad?

A: Yeah, mad, angry, pissed.

B: Nah, but here’s a suggestion.

A: Go see a psychiatrist?

B: No. Follow through with it.

A: I told you. A joke.

B: It’ll be quicker.

A: What are you talking about?

B: I saw your bloodwork results.

A: Ah, my cholesterol kinda high?

B: You have a rare disease.

14.

A: You’re kidding, right?

B: A blood disease.

A: This is a revenge prank.

B: There’s a treatment.

A: I’m sorry I pranked you.

B: Chance of survival is 30%.

A: You’re serious aren’t you?

B: What’s your decision? Treatment? Suicide?

A: Shit.

(Lights down)

THE END

“Sexual Relations”

Play #5 in “La noche de las obras cortas” (The Night of Short Plays) performed in Oaxaca, Mexico in June 2018.

Anybody interested in producing these eight plays–scripts available in English and Spanish–please click on contact and send me a message.

“Sexual Relations” synopsis: a vow of celibacy,  a change of heart and family.

CHARACTERS

A

B

TIME: The Present

PLACE: A bar and a park in a small city

1.

(Lights up on a bar signified by one tall table people would stand at. Music PLAYS in the b.g.)

A: Ready for another?

B: Are you?

A: If you are.

B: Maybe. You?

A: I’m good either way.

B: Me, too. Glad that’s settled.

A: Nothin’ happenin’ here.

B: No.

A: So?

B: Up to you.

A: A movie?

B: Which one?

A: Too much pressure. I’m open.

B: Anything is fine.

2.

A: Scifi?

B: Not a big fan.

A: Anything but scifi.

B: Yeah. Comedy?

A: What about a comedy club?

B: Ooh, that sounds good.

A: Great. Let’s go.

B: Oh, we can’t.

A: Why not?

B: It’s Tuesday. It’s closed.

A: Ah, crap.

B: Yeah.

A: I need to move.

B: Where?

A: A city with more action.

3.

B: Yeah, this burg is boring.

A: One comedy club. One cinema.

B: But, four screens.

A: Whooooppeee! What’s your dream city?

B: Hmmm. Springfield.

A: Springfield? What about Miami? LA?

B: Too big.

A: New York. That’s my city.

B: Ever been?

A: Once. Didn’t want to leave.

B: What’s stopping you now?

A: Money. And you?

B: Me what?

A: Springfield.

B: Umm…a possible situation.

4.

A: Ooh, how cryptic.

B: I think you know it.

A: (smiles) Maybe. Go for a walk?

B: Sure. Where?

A: With walking, destination doesn’t matter.

(The ACTORS walk aimlessly around the stage and through the audience if possible, for the next several lines. They stop at the park bench. B takes A’s hand. A pulls away)

B: You didn’t like it?

A: No. I mean, yes.

B: But, you pulled away.

A: Maybe too soon.

B: For holding hands?

A: Well…

B: We’ve done it before.

A: I know.

5.

B: Then what is it?

A: Nothing.

(B holds out hand. A hesitates, but takes it)

B: How does it feel?

A: Fine.

B: That’s it? Just fine?

A: Soft. It’s a nice hand.

B: Are you nervous about something?

A: (quickly) No.

B: You don’t have to lie.

A: Okay, maybe a little.

B: About what?

A: One thing leads to another.

B: It can.

A: Yes, it can.

6.

B: Do you want it to?

A: Yes, but…

B: But, what?

A: Where are we going?

B: I thought my apartment.

A: Why?

B: One thing leads to another.

A: Let’s stay here. Please?

B: Sure. For a little while.

(THEY sit on the bench)

A: Thanks. I’m not really afraid.

B: Of what?

A: You know.

B: Can you say it?

A: Of course.

7.

B: Okay.

A: Now?

B: If you don’t mind.

A: The one with three letters?

B: Or four. Your choice.

A: Three.

B: Okay.

A: S-s-sex.

B: That was difficult for you.

A: A little.

B: A lot. Why?

A: I can’t say.

B: Bad experience?

A: Not that.

B: You won’t tell me.

8.

A: It’s too soon.

B: To tell me or sex?

A: Both.

B: I like you.

A: I like you, too.

B: Really, really like you.

A: Oh, thank you.

B: We need to communicate.

A: About “it”?

B: It’s essential to a relationship.

A: Mmm-hmmm.

B: Let’s talk.

A: Anything but that.

B: Just one question?

A: Let’s talk about climate change.

9.

B: The climate is changing.

A: Yes, it is.

B: Between us.

A: Oh. Sorry.

B: Have you ever done it?

A: I don’t want—no.

B: No? Never? At your age?

A: I know. I’m a freak.

B: No, just…hard to find.

A: I made a promise.

B: To whom?

A: It doesn’t matter.

B: To god?

A: Not exactly.

B: What’s the promise?

10.

A: Save myself for marriage.

B: Must be hard.

A: Very funny.

B: My bad.

A: Sometimes it’s very…difficult.

B: I don’t know any virgins.

A: We’re special. Maybe even endangered.

B: I admire your conviction, although…

A: Although what?

B: Finding a compatible partner.

A: Obviously, I haven’t.

B: Maybe an ex-nun.

A: I’ve tried that.

B: Really? And?

A: Couldn’t wait to do it.

11.

B: No kidding?

A: All over me in minutes.

B: Well, don’t give up.

A: It’s a deal breaker.

B: Not necessarily.

A: What do you mean?

B: Maybe you’re worth the wait.

A: I’ve never heard that before.

B: Always a first time.

A: I’m very happy.

B: Me, too.

(A gives B a soft kiss on the lips)

A: A question.

B: Sure.

A: Why did you decide—

12.

B: To deal with it?

A: Yes.

B: Maybe it’s not that important.

A: But, you like it.

B: Too much, probably.

A: There’s one more thing.

B: Is this the last thing?

A: Yes. Are you catholic?

B: Not the best, but yes.

A: Good.

B: Why?

A: My uncle will be thrilled.

B: That’s nice.

A: I need to call him.

B: You promised him?

13.

A: Yes. Say I found someone.

B: Let’s call from my apartment.

A: I can’t wait that long.

(A dials)

Hello. Father Tom Jenkins, please.

B: Stop! Hang up! Now!

A: Why?

B: Just do it.

(A disconnects the call)

A: What’s the matter?

B: Maybe there’s more than one.

A: One what?

B: Father Tom Jenkins.

A: Could be.

B: Does he live in Cleveland?

A: Yes.

B: Works for the bishop?

14.

A: Yes.

B: Shit.

A: What’s this about?

B: Do you know his story?

A: I don’t understand.

B: After he was ordained?

A: We kinda lost touch. Why?

B: He broke a promise.

A: Nobody’s perfect.

B: We’re first cousins.

(Lights down)

THE END

“Perception”

Play #4 from the “Night of Short Plays.”

Synopsis: getting older and looking much younger than they are.

CHARACTERS

A – Woman

B – Man

TIME: The Present

PLACE: Anywhere

1.

B: Don’t leave!

A: I really should.

B: You have other plans?

A: No plans.

B: A curfew?

A: No, but it’s getting late.

B: It’s 6:30.

A: (looks at phone) So, it is.

B: Am I bad company?

A: No, that’s not it.

B: I think maybe you’re bored.

A: Are you kidding?

B: No.

A: Bored with you?

B: With me.

2.

A: Why do you say that?

B: Because I’m old.

A: The universe is old.

B: I’ll bet you’re very active.

A: How do you know?

B: Your look. Healthy. Fit.

A: I try.

B: Do you swim?

A: No, but I work out.

B: I’m not surprised. Anything else?

A: Rock climbing. Triathlons.

B: Jesus, you’re Superwoman.

A: Not really. What about you?

B: Boring stuff.

3.

A: Tell me anyway.

B: I jump out of planes.

A: Oh, you parachute.

B: No. I jump.

A: You’re funny.

B: I’m not active. Bad hip.

A: But, when you were young…

B: I did everything.

A: You look like an athlete.

B: And now you’re going to…ummm.

A: See, you forgot already.

B: No, I didn’t. Wait. Africa.

A: Yes, Sierra Leone.

B: Like the Humphrey Bogart movie.

A: That was Sierra Madre.

4.

B: Right. And, you’ll be teaching.

A: Training teachers, actually.

B: For two years.

A: Yes. If they take me.

B: See, I’ve been listening.

A: I’ll give you a B.

B: Maybe a B+?

A: Closer to a B-.

B: Wow, you’re a tough grader.

A: My students loved me.

B: You’ll be accepted.

A: I think I will.

B: Just my luck.

A: What?

B: Nothing.

5.

A: Africa has always intrigued me.

B: This city intrigues me enough.

A: I love it, too, but…

B: You’re going alone?

A: Three teachers will be selected.

B: All women?

A: Why?

B: No reason. Just wondering.

A: I really don’t know.

B: Until you’re chosen.

A: If I’m—yes.

B: Africa’s so far away.

A: Closer than Asia. Or Australia.

B: Do they speak English there?

A: All classes are in English.

6.

B: That’s good. Are you afraid?

A: Of what?

B: Don’t they have evil mosquitos?

A: I’ve had all the shots.

B: What about Ivanka?

A: Ivanka?

B: Wasn’t that a disease there?

A: You mean Ebola?

B: Are you sure? Not Ivanka?

A: Now, it’s really getting late.

B: Because I didn’t know Ebola?

A: I thought you’d be…

B: More aware?

A: Well, you went to college.

B: Yes. Barber college.

A: Really?

B: No, not really. Northwestern.

A: Then you knew about Ebola.

B: Yes.

A: Why pretend you didn’t?

B: Your sense of humor test.

A: You’re testing me?

B: You gave me a B-.

A: Touché’. Did I pass?

B: So, the disease is gone?

A: I wouldn’t go, otherwise.

B: Some African countries are dangerous.

A: What place is safe today?

B: True. London, Paris, Las Vegas.

A: I won’t live in fear.

8.

B: Positive attitude.

A: What about you?

B: I try to live fearlessly.

A: It’s not always easy.

B: Why are you doing this?

A: Time for a change.

B: Running from something? Somebody?

A: That’s a little personal.

B: Sorry.

(A touches B’s arm, forgiving the question)

A: Running? Yes. But, running to.

B: The best reason. Something new.

A: Teaching middle school got old.

B: There’s high school. Or college.

A: Living here has gotten old.

9.

B: Don’t forget crazy, too.

A: I want to travel more.

B: It’s so enriching.

A: Where have you been?

B: I did Europe after college.

A: What part?

B: Eastern Europe, mostly.

A: No Paris or Rome?

B: No money for it!

A: Got it.

B: What about you?

A: Never been outside the US.

B: Got a favorite place?

A: I love Louisiana.

B: I’ve been to New Orleans.

10.

A: Been to Cajun country?

B: No.

A: It’s wonderful. The food, music.

B: I like zydeco.

A: My favorite!

B: I’ve kinda stopped traveling, actually.

A: Why?

B: Tired of doing it alone.

A: That’s a problem for you?

B: You’re surprised?

A: You’re good looking. Kinda smart.

B: Thanks. I think.

A: I’m joking.

B: Going places solo gets lonely.

A: You must know people.

11.

B: That’s not the problem.

A: Money?

B: No, not anymore.

A: Then I can’t imagine.

B: Age.

A: Age?

B: Age.

A: Explain.

B: You won’t believe me.

A: Try me.

B: I’m older than you.

A: I doubt it.

B: Up for a wager?

A: It would be like stealing.

B: Take my money. I insist.

12.

A: Ok. How about dinner?

B: You’re on. How old?

A: You?

B: Me.

A: Forty-three.

B: I love you. Sixty.

A: No way.

B: Wanna see my license?

A: Unbelievable. But, sixty isn’t old.

B: Woman thirty-two thinks I’m forty-three.

A: Ok.

B: I’m dating material.

A: Of course, you are.

B: But, when she hears sixty?

A: You’re her dad.

13.

B: Bingo.

A: You’re still the same guy.

B: Doesn’t matter. It’s about perception.

A: People are so judgmental.

B: Even you think differently now.

A: I don’t.

B: You’re lying or very special.

A: Neither. Ok, a little special.

B: I’ll go with very special.

A: That’s nice. Now your turn.

B: Twenty-one.

A: Quit playing.

B: Um, thirty-five.

A: Love you back. Fifty-four.

B: No Shit!!?

14.

A: Wanna see my license?

B: So, you go from hot—

A: Chick to cougar.

B: Same coin, different sides.

A: Exactly. I’ve given up trying.

B: For a relationship?

A: Yes.

B: Amazing that two people…

A: Chance or fate?

B: (Shrugs with palms up) This might be brash, but…

A: Go on.

B: We can eliminate our problems.

A: By dating?

B: It’s crossed my mind.

A: Well, you’re interesting enough.

15.

B: I think so.

A: For an old guy.

B: You passed the test.

(A’s phone DINGS)

A: One second.

(A taps on the screen)

B: Important?

A: Very. (pause) I’ve been accepted.

B: When do you leave?

A: (long pause) Next week.

(Lights down)

THE END

 

“All or Nothing”

This is the third play from the “Night of Short Plays.” The local actors we used possessed such talent which surprised me a little because Oaxaca isn’t known for theatre. They should be because all eight of the actors we used were fabulous.

“All of Nothing” synopsis: Is setting a timetable for having a baby the right thing to do?

CHARACTERS

A

B

TIME: The Present

PLACE: Somewhere

*Author strongly recommends creative casting.

1.

(B looks at phone occasionally)

A: Wow. That’s a big gamble.

B: I know.

A: You’re not a gambler.

B: No, I’m not.

A: It’s also a huge responsibility.

B: The hugest.

A: Are you up to it?

B: Totally.

A: There’s a middle ground, y’know.

B: Not for this.

A: There’s always a middle ground.

B: That depends.

A: On?

B: The degree of commitment.

A: I’ll buy that.

B: Thank you.

A: Your mind is made up.

B: It is.

A: I should go home, then.

B: No.

2.

A: Why should I stay?

B: Tell me your thoughts.

A: It’s a waste of time.

B: I respect your opinions.

A: Usually, but this time…

B: This time, too. Please?

A: You’ve thought about this thoroughly?

B: Constantly on my mind.

A: Looked at all the angles?

B: Right, acute and obtuse.

(B looks at phone)

A: Expecting a call?

B: You’re very clever.

A: I am. Anyone special.

B: You could say that.

A: But, you won’t.

B: I will. Later.

A: What changed your mind?

B: Lots of things.

A: Care to divulge?

B: Hard to explain.

A: Why?

B: Because there’s no identifiable reason.

A: Please elucidate for me.

B: It was a feeling.

A: That’s it? A feeling? Mental?

B: Biological.

3.

A: Your eggs (sperm) started jumping around?

B: No, silly.

A: Then what?

B: I told you. Hard to—

A: Explain. I remember a time…

B: So do I.

A: When you were adamant—

B: Absolutely no kids. I know.

A: Now, out of nowhere…

B: Not nowhere. A process.

A: First I’ve heard of it.

B: I know. Sorry.

A: That’s okay. It’s personal.

B: The decision was recent.

A: I see. You’re thirty-five, right?

B: In a month.

A: You’ll search until forty.

B: That’s the plan.

A: How? Where?

4.

B: I don’t understand.

A: Like, the Internet? www I want a baby . com

B: Does that exist?

A: I don’t know. Probably.

B: Maybe an introduction through friends.

A: You should try fliers.

B: What?

A: Distribute fliers on the street.

B: Like, “Hey, are you fertile?”

A: Yup. Then give a flier.

B: That’s ludicrous.

A: The direct approach.

B: No one will say yes.

A: You don’t know that.

B: Who would?

A: Someone desperate like you.

B: That was mean.

A: It looks like you are.

B: I’m not.

A: I’m sorry.

5.

B: I thought you’d see that.

A: …

B: You’re a social worker.

A: You’re right.

B: You should have seen it.

A: Please understand something.

B: What?

A: I’ve seen your situation before.

B: I’m sure.

A: So many times.

B: Give me your advice.

A: Keep emotion out of it.

B: Difficult.

A: Almost impossible, but necessary.

B: Still, some compassion from you…

6.

A: Would be detrimental. Trust me.

B: Ok.

A: Back to the topic.

B: Ok.

A: You seem desperate.

B: Why, because I want kids?

A: No.

B: Then why?

A: Your “all or nothing” plan.

B: It works for me.

A: Any person who doesn’t want—

B: Not the person for me.

A: Maybe they’ll change their mind.

B: I’m not dealing in maybe.

A: Ever hear of compromising?

B: Heard of it.

A: But?

B: Not doing it.

A: It worked for me.

B: For you and…

A: Yes. I compromised big time.

B: On what?

A: Certain sex acts.

B: That’s disgusting. Which ones?

7.

A: Ones that I really liked.

B: And you’re happy?

A: You know I am.

B: My situation is different.

A: To you.

B: To everyone.

A: To everyone who wants kids.

B: True. You didn’t.

A: Neither of us.

B: Ok, then. To me.

A: Think about this.

B: Why?

A: You find your perfect match.

B: My dream come true.

A: You try to have kids.

B: What fun!

A: You discover they can’t.

B: Imposs—oh. Ohhh.

A: Yeah. Now, what?

B: I hadn’t thought of that.

A: Nobody does. End of relationship?

B: Could be.

A: Why? They’re perfect.

B: Not quite.

A: What if you’re already thirty-nine?

8.

B: I see what you mean.

A: No time to find another.

B: I’d raise the age.

A: To what? Forty-two? Forty-five?

B: Possibly.

A: Why not fifty?

B: That’s too old.

A: Is it?

B: Yes.

A: If you’re alone at forty-five?

B: Okay, maybe fifty.

A: Really?

B: If I’m still able.

A: Are you now?

9.

B: Able to have children?

A: Yes. Are you?

B: Of course. I think so.

A: But, you’re not sure.

B: I find out today.

A: You went for tests?

B: Yes. I gotta know now.

A: Better now than later.

B: Absolutely. Because if I can’t…

A: Even if you can.

B: What?

A: Statistically, your chances stink.

B: You know that for sure?

A: Pretty sure.

B: You studied this?

A: Not clinically.

B: Not at all.

A: Think about it.

B: It’s doable.

A: You have a good prospect?

B: At the moment? No, but…

A: Three years minimum.

B: Could be less.

A: If everything happens immediately.

B: Let’s hear it.

A: One year dating.

B: Maybe less.

10.

A: One year plan the wedding.

B: Definitely less.

A: Getting pregnant, having the baby.

B: That’s the unknown.

A: Could take five or more.

B: You’re not on my side.

A: I just want you happy.

B: Sure doesn’t sound like it.

A: (As B’s phone rings) I—

B: Hello?

(Lights down)