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.
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.
BENNY, white male, 45
DEB, black or Hispanic female, 40
TIME: The Present
PLACE: New York City and China
(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?
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.
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.
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.
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: (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.
(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…
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.
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: I can hear you.
DEB: Personally, I have very little of it.
(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)
BENNY: I’m lonely. I need physical contact. Not sex, necessarily, although that would be nice. You know it’s been so long.
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.
DEB: How much do you still like Lucy?
BENNY: Maybe a lot.
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.
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)
You can request the Spanish translation by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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
(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: Te ves cansado.
RAY: This is not good. Do you speak English? (pronounces the ‘h’) Haba English?
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 puts the phone back in the backpack and rummages for something else)
BLANCA: ¿Hablas español?
BLANCA: ¿Un 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
BLANCA: No, no. Tlay. Tlay.
BLANCA: Sí. Ahora dices tlay-uda. Tlayuda.
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.
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?
RAY: Why me?
BLANCA: Porque tienes unos ojos bien bonitos.
BLANCA: Never mind. One tlayuda coming up.
The next several plays I’ll publish haven’t been produced, but the first four are scheduled for a production later in 2019 here in Oaxaca. They’ve already been translated into Spanish. These are also plays that were written at various times over the past 25 years. “Totally Committed” was written in 2001.
These plays fall into the standard play format meaning the characters have names and genders and locations are given. Unlike the previous 10-minute plays I published, each line of dialogue isn’t limited to five words. Your basic normal plays. 🙂
Synopsis: A celibate woman goes back on her promise of sexual activity upon her engagement.
Note: Actors can be any age, just so long as it’s believable that the female has had a sexual life and has been celibate for almost a decade. Diverse casting is encouraged.
SETTING: Stevie’s apartment. The only necessary set piece is a couch (or a bed if the play is set in the bedroom).
(Lights up on JORDAN and STEVIE, some clothes off, kissing and groping. Jazz plays in the b.g. STEVIE moans)
JORDAN: Oh, yeah. Feels good. Feels sooo goooood.
STEVIE: Jordan, stop.
JORDAN: Can’t stop.
STEVIE: Please stop.
JORDAN: Don’t wanna stop. (STEVIE pushes JORDAN with such force that he rolls across the floor) What?!!
STEVIE: (covering her breasts with her shirt) I can’t.
JORDAN: You have to.
STEVIE: I do not.
JORDAN: But, you promised.
STEVIE: My promise to the Lord is stronger.
JORDAN: If he were sitting here with the raging stiffo I have, he’d be saying, ‘Stevie, grabbeth thy rod and leadeth me to salvation. Giveth me salvation. Stroketh me to ejaculation.’
STEVIE: This is no joking matter.
JORDAN: Who’s joking? You can’t leave me in this condition.
STEVIE: I felt a shooting pain. It was a sign.
JORDAN: It was pleasure. The intense kind. You just can’t tell the difference after all these VIE: I know the difference. It started when you touched me down there.
JORDAN: Down there could use a little touching. I’m surprised your clit hasn’t divorced you for neglect.
STEVIE: I take my vow very seriously. And so does my clit.
JORDAN: Is that why your hand made a bee-line for my dick?
STEVIE: I’m not immune to temptation. Just because I’m celibate doesn’t mean I’m not human.
JORDAN: Stevie, you haven’t masturbated in nine years. I question your humanness.
STEVIE: I pray. Especially when it’s throbbing like it is now. Pray with me.
JORDAN: Let me do a laying of the hands. Isn’t that what Jesus did to relieve to pain?
STEVIE: I know Jesus. You’re not Jesus.
(JORDAN plays a sexy song on his phone)
STEVIE: I don’t think that’s a good idea.
JORDAN: We always dance to this song.
STEVIE: This is different.
JORDAN: What about the ring?
STEVIE: It’s beautiful.
JORDAN: It’s commitment.
STEVIE: Yes, it is.
STEVIE: I just don’t think we should dance, Jordan.
JORDAN: Forget the music, then. Talk to me. Don’t look at me like that. That ring is supposed to be my ticket to the Promised Land.
STEVIE: I’ve had a change of heart.
JORDAN: You had what, Cruella?
STEVIE: Don’t be mean.
JORDAN: When did you have this revelation?
STEVIE: The other day. And I owe it all to you, sweetheart.
JORDAN: Don’t blame me for your fit of temporary insanity.
STEVIE: I’m not crazy. This is about fulfillment. Our fulfillment.
JORDAN: (Taking her in his arms) Then let me start fulfilling.
STEVIE: I’m talking spiritual.
JORDAN: Excuse me, but I’ve had enough spirit to fill ten heavens. You promised me some sex and I want it now!
STEVIE: God will forgive you for that lie.
JORDAN: Did I say intercourse? Did I?
STEVIE: No, but I naturally thought so.
JORDAN: Sex is comprised of many activities, if you recall. None of which I’ve been able to enjoy for sex—I mean, six—months. Six agonizingly loooong months.
STEVIE: I never forced you into anything.
JORDAN: Granted, but you did say that once we were totally committed to each other, we could commence with touching, caressing and kissing, right?
JORDAN: Baby, I’m tired of taking matters into my own hand. I’ve had the patience of, of—
JORDAN: Yeah, Job. And I’d say that ring you accepted tonight—accepted willingly, I might add—that’s about as totally committed as two people can get, wouldn’t you say?
STEVIE: Why are you questioning me like a criminal?
JORDAN: Because what you’re doing to me is a crime. Do you agree with my last statement?
STEVIE: Yes, I do, Mister Mason.
JORDAN: Very funny. Listen, if you go back on this, what’s next?
STEVIE: Like what?
JORDAN: Before your condition—
STEVIE: Celibacy is not a condition. It’s a privilege.
JORDAN: Fine. Before your privilege, what was your favorite thing about sex?
STEVIE: You know.
JORDAN: Humor me.
STEVIE: Oral sex.
JORDAN: What if you decide next year that it’s disgusting?
STEVIE: Never happen. You don’t know how much I loved it.
JORDAN: See, you said loved. Past tense. You’ve already changed your mind.
STEVIE: Oh, sweetheart, I can’t wait for the moment we put our mouths to work.
JORDAN: This is torture. To love someone more than the world and not be able to touch them.
STEVIE: It’ll be worth the wait. You’ll see. Besides, we’re more than just sex, aren’t we?
JORDAN: It’s not natural to suppress these feelings.
STEVIE: It’s what made you so special, though. You saw beyond the physical.
JORDAN: Everybody told me I was nuts to go along with this, but I said, “Nope, I know what I’m doing. We have a pact. Appetizers before the ‘I do,’ the main course after.” Baby, I haven’t eaten a full meal in six months and I’m hungry.
STEVIE: Oh, but how good that first mouthful is going to taste. And all the ones after it. Listen, I know it’s hard. (giggles) Sorry. You said you understood why I wanted to wait.
JORDAN: Easy for you. You’re not human, remember?
STEVIE: That’s not true.
JORDAN: Anybody who can go ten years without sex…
STEVIE: I told you I pray.
JORDAN: I know, I know. Which means you’ve questioned your decision.
STEVIE: Not giving in has made me stronger.
JORDAN: Lucky me. You promised physical contact when we committed. You’ve changed your mind without consulting me, and now I have to suffer until we get married.
STEVIE: It’ll be easier for you if you see it as something besides suffering.
JORDAN: Let’s elope. Tonight. There’s got to be a state close by that will marry us.
STEVIE: No. We’re sticking to our plan. Jordan?
JORDAN: (pouting) What?
STEVIE: You say you understand my faith, but do you?
JORDAN: Something about being used by men.
STEVIE: Bingo. And the solution was the commitment I made to Jesus Christ. I know that whomever I’m destined to share my life with will see this greatness that surrounds me, and enlarges itself every moment of my life. Selah.
JORDAN: Jesus never went back on his word.
STEVIE: Is something else bothering you? About us, I mean.
JORDAN: Not a thing. You know you’re the only woman I’ve ever wanted to marry. Ever.
STEVIE: Then what’s another six months compared to decades together?
JORDAN: What about kissing? Kissing is not a bad thing.
STEVIE: It’s a wonderful thing. One of the most intimate acts two people can share.
JORDAN: How about one teeny, tiny kiss to commemorate our commitment?
STEVIE: Just one? I don’t know.
JORDAN: I know you have a heart.
STEVIE: Well, it is a special occasion.
(They kiss. Jordan caresses her breast. She puts her hand near his penis, but instantly pulls it away and ends the kiss)
You said just a kiss.
JORDAN: Your hand was on a journey, too.
STEVIE: God, but you’re a great kisser.
JORDAN: I want to sleep with you tonight.
JORDAN: I mean just sleep.
STEVIE: And you wonder why I insist on no contact. Look where this is heading.
JORDAN: But, just now, the kiss, you liked it. Loved it, even. You can’t tell me you can turn it off until the wedding just like that.
STEVIE: I must avoid the temptation.
JORDAN: I want the real reason you changed your mind.
STEVIE: About two years ago I met this guy, a real ladies’ man so I was shocked when he stuck around. We’d been dating about seven months when he said he’d finally found the woman he wanted buried next to him.
JORDAN: How romantic.
STEVIE: It was the way he said it.
STEVIE: Anyway, we kissed and before I knew it, his head was between my legs.
JORDAN: You were naked?! With a man?!
STEVIE: Quit making fun. I was ashamed of my behavior and stopped it right away. I told him there’d be no more until the wedding and that was the last time I saw him. I shouldn’t be surprised, really. My point is, just because you say you’re committed, it doesn’t mean…
JORDAN: But, I gave you a ring.
STEVIE: If you can wait until the wedding, then I’ll know you were sincere. There’s no better way to show your love.
JORDAN: Physical contact between two people as they grow closer is completely natural. More, it’s totally essential.
STEVIE: What you say makes perfect sense. The answer is still no.
JORDAN: Then I want my ring back.
STEVIE: You’re not serious.
JORDAN: I’m not leaving without it.
STEVIE: What has happened to you?
JORDAN: Me? You’re the one denying us an essential element in our relationship.
STEVIE: Leaving would be the biggest mistake of your life.
JORDAN: I can’t live with this new arrangement.
STEVIE: Are you really leaving?
JORDAN: No contact?
(STEVIE shakes her head. JORDAN opens the door)
STEVIE: See, I was right. You’re just like all the others.
JORDAN: None of the others stayed this long. Or gave you a ring.
STEVIE: No, but they left just the same. (long pause) I’m going to bed. Alone. Will I hear from you tomorrow? (pause) I love you, Jordan. You’re very special. In my eyes and His.
JORDAN: Yeah, you’re special, too.
STEVIE: It’ll be worth it, you’ll see. Just put your faith in the Lord.
(JORDAN kisses her cheek and leaves. STEVIE leans against the door and slides to a crouching position. She closes her eyes and puts her hands on her breasts as the lights fade to black)
You can request the Spanish translation of this script by emailing me at email@example.com.