Monday, August 27, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #27 - "Gunning"

Another short scene from my ballet story for my graphic novel. Still need a name, probably something that is a play on Swan Lake. As you can observe from these pieces, I suck at titles.

Day #27 - "Gunning"

JOANNA: How did the audition go?

LISE: Great. Well, okay. Well, I have no idea.

JOANNA: You really have no idea how you did?

LISE: Oh, I don’t know. I might feel okay about it, but the way he looks at me, I don’t know if I can trust myself to judge.

JOANNA: Who, Jason? I seriously doubt he thinks as little of you as you seem to think he does. I mean, he’s given you roles before.

LISE: Yeah, but you don’t see how he is. Like… like no matter how hard I try, I am never going to do well enough for him. No matter how well I think I do, he always pushes for more.

JOANNA: No wonder you’re so stressed out. He sounds like a pain.

LISE: No! It’s not him. Joanna, he’s brilliant. He has so much talent and creativity, and all this passion for dance… if anything, it’s because I’m not good enough.

JOANNA: You’re an amazing dancer, Lise.

LISE: Not amazing enough. Not for him, anyway. But believe me, he’s not the problem.

JOANNA: Then what is it?

LISE: It’s… this other girl. This other dancer in the company.

JOANNA: Which one?

LISE: Her name’s Marina. Maybe it’s crazy, but I feel like… like she’s gunning for me.

JOANNA: Oh, come on.

LISE: Not like that! Like she sees me as competition, and she wants me out of the way.

JOANNA: Well, as far as I’m concerned, you are the dancer to beat.

LISE: She’s really good, Jo. And she’s good at all the things that were tough for me. She’s clean, she’s precise, she’s consistent… Jason’s got to see that.

JOANNA: Was she at the audition too?

LISE: Yeah.

JOANNA: How’d she do?

LISE: I wasn’t really able to watch her. But I’m sure she was great. She has so much focus, you know? I bet she wasn’t second-guessing herself, trying to gauge Jason’s reaction.

JOANNA: I hope you didn’t trip yourself up worrying about him rather than what you were doing.

LISE: Geez. That’s probably exactly what I did.

JOANNA: Don’t beat yourself up too much about it. That seems like exactly the way to psych yourself out.

LISE: I just… don’t know if I have it, you know?

JOANNA: I know. But that’s one way to never find out.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #26 - "Moving Out"

With the switching up of roommates that's currently happening at my house, moving in and moving out has been on my mind. Here's a little piece that involves that theme.


Day #26 - "Moving Out"

(BRAD is packing things in a box. SHANNON sits on the couch reading a magazine.)

BRAD: Almost done.

SHANNON: Glad to hear it.

BRAD: I’m completely out of the bedroom, but there’s still a good bit in the kitchen.

SHANNON: Better get on that.

BRAD: And, you know, some of the furniture is mine.

SHANNON: Oh, really.

BRAD: Not going to be able to move it by myself, though.

SHANNON: I guess you’re going to have to find somebody to help you.

BRAD: Well. You’re here now.

SHANNON: I’m busy right now.

BRAD: The longer it takes me to find someone, the longer you’re going to have to wait for me to be out.

SHANNON: No skin off my nose. If you can’t get it moved, you’re just going to have to leave it here. I’m fine keeping it.

BRAD: It’s my stuff, Shannon.

SHANNON: Then you can drag it out of here. I helped move it in, I’m not moving it out again.

BRAD: Fine. Well, if I can’t get it out today, I won’t be able to finish until next week.

SHANNON: Nope. By next week, you won’t live here anymore. I don’t have to let you back in.

BRAD: You weren’t so keen on getting me out of here last week.

SHANNON: Well, last week you were my boyfriend, and I was under the impression that you were happy to be with me. No, under those circumstances I wasn’t so keen.

BRAD: But now you’re kicking my ass to the curb.

SHANNON: It’s where you seem determined to go. And you said I wasn’t helping.

BRAD: What do you want, Shannon? Should I stick around even though it’s not right anymore?

SHANNON: Guess not.

BRAD: Then what am I supposed to do?

SHANNON: Exactly what you’re doing, I guess.

BRAD: Then why are you treating me like such a monster?

SHANNON: I suppose I’m supposed to be the only one who feels bad, then.

BRAD: I didn’t do anything wrong.

SHANNON: You didn’t do anything right, either. You already ripped yourself out of my life. You’re right, you had to do it and I have to deal with it. But I sure as hell don’t have to make it any easier on you.

(She storms out.)

SHANNON: Move your own damn couch.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #25 - "Daughter's Daughter"

Just trying to fill the quota. I'm really behind due to crazy.


Day #25 - "Daughter's Daughter"


SAM: Hey, Adela.

ADELA: You still recognize me? It’s been a while.

SAM: A real long time, yeah.


SAM: How you been?

ADELA: Oh, don’t start with that nonsense.

SAM: I’m sorry?

ADELA: What are you doing here? After all this time?

SAM: I… I thought I should stop by and see you.

ADELA: You saw me ten years ago. You saw so much you got sick of me.

SAM: That wasn’t it.

ADELA: Oh, yeah? Then what was it that sent you off?

SAM: Adela.

ADELA: Well, what’s got you back now? I got nothing for you anymore.

SAM: Adela… Rosie sent me a picture. Of the baby.

ADELA: She… she did?

SAM: Yeah.

ADELA: I don’t even know how she could find you to send it.

SAM: Adela, it was the first I knew about it.

ADELA: Well, wasn’t like I knew you would want to hear.

(SAM takes the picture out of his wallet.)

SAM: She’s… she’s beautiful, Adela.

ADELA: Yeah, she is.

SAM: I like her name. Rosie wrote it on the back. Ch—Chantal? Is that how you say it?

ADELA: Yeah.

SAM: Where’d she come up with a name like that?

ADELA: Sam, what do you want?

SAM: What do you mean?

ADELA: Just tell me what you’re after so I can send you on your way.

SAM: Adela, I— I want to see her. The baby.

ADELA: Now you want to have something to do with this family?

SAM: Rosie sent this to me.

ADELA: Didn’t much matter when she was a kid.

SAM: But she still wrote to me. She wanted me to come.

ADELA: You think you can just waltz back in here like nothing ever happened?

SAM: No! I know I don’t deserve that.

ADELA: Then what do you want?

SAM: I want to see my daughter’s daughter. Like she asked me to. That’s all.

(Pause. ADELA considers.)

ADELA: If that’s what Rosie wants, I guess.

SAM: I’ll leave right after if that’s what you want.

ADELA: Be back here at six tomorrow. Rosie’s bringing the baby over for dinner.

SAM: I won’t be late.

ADELA: You’re ten years late. Don’t do it to us again, Sam.

SAM: I promise.

ADELA: I’ve heard that before.

Friday, August 24, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #24 - "The Old House"

This is based on a truly fabulous scene from The Golden Girls featuring some excellent acting by Betty White and some brilliant, spot-on-for-the-character writing. I love that show, and I love how it deals with issues so rarely seen on prime time television.


Day #24 - "The Old House"

(An older lady, ELLA OSSING, cooks in her kitchen. The table is laid with two places of fancy china and has tall candles on it. ELLA lays her meal in a pretty dish and brings it to the table. She lights the candles with a match and sits down. She addresses the place across from her.)

ELLA: Surprise, Bill. Montalcino chicken and figs! Well, I guess it’s not really a surprise. I make your favorite every anniversary. And, well… I always make your favorite when I have something tough to tell you. I hope you won’t be upset, Bill, but… I’m thinking of moving. Of selling the house. I know, I know. We’ve got so much time in this house. It’s not like I want to leave. Feels like I just got it all done up the way I like it. Goodness, I don’t like the idea of anyone greasing up my countertops or letting their dog mess up my Berber carpets. I don’t like the idea of leaving the place where we’ve got so many memories. God. I miss you, Bill, I miss you so much. That’s why I’ve stayed. Because I like looking around the house and remembering… everything we did here. The kids’ birthdays, and the block parties, and watching movies on the couch. When I’m here, it’s easier to pretend that things are just the way they always were. It’s less lonely with those memories. But, Bill… it’s still lonely. There’s not much here for me besides those memories. I like setting places for you and playing your favorite radio shows and keeping your shirts ironed, but… it just makes me see all the places where you should be where you aren’t anymore. I read in a book just now that stuff is all just ways of making the dead stay dead. I don’t want that, Bill. I want you along with me. So I can’t just… stay here where I used to be, doing things that keep you dead. That’s not good for either of us. That’s what’s keeping me from moving on with my life. I could have a long time left, you know. So I think I’m going to have to start somewhere new. Somewhere without… all of this to hold me back in old things. So… that’s why I’m selling the house. To get that new start. Not sure where yet. I’ll have to do a little research. But I’m looking forward to it, actually. It’ll be hard, letting go… but after that, I think it will be good for me. And that’s what you always wanted for me. So I knew you would understand.

(She serves herself some of the dinner and picks up a fork.)

ELLA: I love you, Bill. Happy anniversary.

(She begins to eat the lovely meal.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #23 - "Lie Down and Die"

This piece attaches to the very first one I wrote for my 31 Plays 31 Days challenge, which comes from an idea for a play about a model who must cope with rebuilding her life and identity after being horrendously disfigured in an assault. This section has a psychiatrist tell her she still has a life ahead of her and insist that she get busy living, or get busy dying.

Incidentally, I submitted piece #1, Pretty is Power, for a "one page play" call. You may be amused to know that the theme was "Heroine." That section alone is a bit horrific out of context, and perhaps even a bit disgusting when you think of it as relating to theme of "Heroine," but I kind of like the awful turnabout of it. I think deep down I am a creep.


Day #23 - "Lie Down and Die"

(Former supermodel CHRISTINA MORAY lies around on a chaise in a bathrobe. Her face is completely covered by bandages and a mask.)

(A professional middle-aged woman, DR. MAUREEN BELL, enters at a respectful distance.)

DR. BELL: Miss Moray?

(CHRISTINA sits up and spins to face away from her.)

CHRISTINA: Who’s there?

DR. BELL: Dr. Maureen Bell. Your assistant let me in.

CHRISTINA: Who the hell are you?

DR. BELL: I’m the psychiatrist your primary care providers referred you to. You were supposed to call me, but you never did.

(CHRISTINA stands and moves off.)

CHRISTINA: So you just barge in here?

DR. BELL: Dr. Gorman was concerned about your mental state, so when I didn’t hear from you I thought it might be prudent to check in in person.

CHRISTINA: Ah, because I’ve become a crazy shut-in.

DR. BELL: It is a fairly significant behavioral change.

CHRISTINA: Oh, yeah, huge red flag!

DR. BELL: Of course, it’s understandable. You have suffered an enormous trauma.


DR. BELL: That’s the sort of thing a person needs help to deal with.

CHRISTINA: Help? You’re going to help me do what?

DR. BELL: Process what happened to you, and move forward from it.

CHRISTINA: Move forward? You’re going to help me move forward?

DR. BELL: That’s my hope.

(CHRISTINA turns around to stare her down.)

CHRISTINA: Didn’t anybody tell you what happened to me, doc?

DR. BELL: Yes. You were horrifically assaulted.

CHRISTINA: Assaulted? Nobody stole my goddamn purse! Nobody jumped out of the bushes and raped me! Let me make it perfectly clear to you— some freak threw hydrochloric acid at me and melted my entire face off! How the hell do you move forward from that?

DR. BELL: You have to do something to take care of yourself, or you’ll be destroyed.

CHRISTINA: Are you kidding me? I’m already destroyed! I was the most beautiful woman most people would ever see, and now I have to consider myself lucky that I can even still talk! Forget my fucking career! I don’t even look like a person anymore!

DR. BELL: But you are. You’re still a person.

CHRISTINA: No, I’m not!

DR. BELL: You can still have a life.

CHRISTINA: What life? My life is over! I’m not who I was! Everything over! There’s nothing left! I don’t want to move forward, I want to fucking kill myself!

DR. BELL: Then why haven’t you?

(CHRISTINA freezes, looks at her, then collapses on the chaise.)

DR. BELL: Yes, your old life is over. So you’ve got to make a new one. Unless you really do want to lie down and die.

(She turns and starts to exit.)

DR. BELL: I’ll see you tomorrow at two o’clock. We’ll get started then.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #22 - "Complement"

Another piece that came of thinking about my graphic novel project. Which still needs a name, now that I think of it. This'll need a lot of work, but I'm just struggling to get all my pieces done for the challenge.

The ballet they will be doing in the piece is Swan Lake. I didn't want to do that, as another prominent ballet-themed property The Black Swan used it recently, but its plot serves the rivalry I wanted so well.


Day #22 - "Complement"

(A rehearsal studio. JASON the director is flipping through a notebook. MARINA is carefully stretching her legs, the picture of focus. LISE enters, surprised.)

MARINA: What’s she doing here?

LISE: Where’s everybody else?

JASON: Nobody else today. Just the two of you.

MARINA: What for?

JASON: The two of you need to work on your performance in relation to each other.

LISE: What does that mean?

JASON: Odette and Odile need to be identical enough that you can be mistaken for each other, but different enough to create a contrast. Two sides of the same coin. So I want you to start working on matching each other.

LISE: Our styles are completely different.

JASON: I’ve observed that.

MARINA: Why would you pick us if you wanted two dancers that looked the same?

JASON: Are you even listening to me? I want the contrast too. But you’ve already got the contrast down. Now I need you to figure out how to complement each other.

(They look at each other warily.)

JASON: Show me the mirror dance. Tell me what you each notice about how the other executes it. Go on, already.

(They take their places facing each other and begin to perform a dance with movements that mirror one another.)

LISE: Slow down.

MARINA: Can’t you keep up?

JASON: It’s not a contest. What do you notice?

MARINA: Her arms are a technical mess.

JASON: Marina.

LISE: Yeah, well, you can’t pirouette on your left side.

JASON: Jesus, grow up, you two. Just do what I asked already.

(They continue dancing, watching one another.)

LISE: She’s… very precise.

JASON: Right. She finds marks and she hits them. You find something, Marina.

MARINA: She’s fluid. Seamless from one step to another.

JASON: Yeah, everything flows.

MARINA: I feel like I’m dragging my through so you can match me.

LISE: You’re too staccato, it’s all choppy.

MARINA: I’m not compromising just to make you look good!

JASON: Jesus Christ, get over yourselves. I don’t have time for this. If I wanted to do a show with just one dancer on the stage for two hours, I’d just do it myself and not bother with any of you. Go take a break, and when you come back, I expect you to be ready to work.

(MARINA storms off.)

LISE: I can’t work with her.

JASON: Oh, save it.

LISE: She hates me. She isn’t going to cooperate.

JASON: Then you make it work. You’re the lead, the show’s on you.

LISE: Oh, God.

JASON: But hey, you’ve got it all down, right? Just so you know, Cechetti couldn’t turn on his left side either, you know.

LISE: Really?

JASON: He choreographed all his pieces so that he never had to. And he has a whole method named after him.

(JASON turns to exit.)

JASON: Find some way to make it work, Lise.


I've had this on my phone for a while now. When Bernie and I went to help Michael move, I discovered this little fellow slithering alone. I was impressed by the size of him, bigger than my finger, and his leopard spots. I was a bit worried for him as he was booking it toward the street, but who am I to speculate on the motivations of the spotty and slimy. He knew his own business, I'm sure.

Also, I am twelve. "Look at this picture of a gross thing! Loooook!"


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #21 - "Don't Tell Anyone"

Working out more bits for use in my graphic novel. Right now the one particular thread of it is standing out in my mind, so I am writing out pieces involving that thread while I have the inspiration to do so.


Day #21 - "Don't Tell Anyone"

(MARINA is collapsed in a heap, her face contorted in pain. LISE rushes over.)

LISE: Marina, what's wrong!?

(MARINA struggles to pull up her tight. LISE comes over and helps her.)

LISE: Here, let me...

(MARINA's knee is bulgy and covered with a dark bruise.)

LISE: Oh, my God...

(She stands up to go.)

LISE: I'll— I'll go get someone. I'll get Jason—

(MARINA heaves herself up and clamps onto Leto's arm to stop her, pulling her close so that the two girls are facing each other.)

MARINA: No! Not Jason!

(MARINA drags herself up from the ground.)

LISE: You need help!

MARINA: What I need is for you to shut up!

(MARINA sits and extends her injured leg in front of her.)

MARINA: Shut up and grab onto me.

LISE: What?

(MARINA grabs LISE's arms and places her hands on her calf just below her swollen knee.)

MARINA: Grab on! Right here!

LISE: O-Okay...

MARINA: Now pull.

(LISE looks up at her in horror.)

MARINA: Just pull!

(LISE pulls tentatively.)

MARINA: Ahhhhhh!

(LISE releases her leg.)

LISE: Marina—!

MARINA: Just do it!

(Again LISE pulls, face screwed up and turned aside. MARINA grits her teeth in agony, but her knee back into place. She makes a small sound of mixed pain and relief.)

MARINA: Ahhh! Oh, thank God!

(MARINA grabs onto LISE.)

MARINA: Now help me up.

LISE: You need a doctor or something—

(MARINA reaches down to roll her tight back down, holding onto LISE for balance.)

MARINA: I have to go back on!

LISE: You can't go on like this!

MARINA: Watch me!

LISE: Marina—

MARINA: And don't you dare tell anyone about this! Don't you dare.

(MARINA dances back out as if nothing happened. LISE hangs back, looking after her in shock.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #20 - "Last Shot"

Been picking away at my graphic novel idea. So today's piece is an important scene near the climax of that story that I want to adapt for the comic. I feel kind of bad spoiling what's supposed to be one of the most powerful moments before I even introduce the story, but I had to write something for today, and it was one of the most fully formed moments in my mind.

I am borrowing an element of my ten-minute play Fountain Thoughts, of the performer who is reluctant to go on and runs away to wade in the water while she's trying to make up her mind. I think this can be a powerful motif and tie into some thematic elements of the greater story I'm working out.


Day #20 - "Last Shot"

(LISE wades knee-deep in a pond. MARINA approaches in a cold fury.)

MARINA: So is it true? Are you going to bail on the performance?

LISE: I don’t know if I can do it.

MARINA: My God. You are gutless.

LISE: You don’t understand!

MARINA: What’s there to understand? You’re punking out!

LISE: They don’t need me.

MARINA: Jason picked you.

LISE: Well, you can dance both parts! That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?

MARINA: Jason didn’t want me. He wants you.

LISE: Well, Jason was wrong. I don’t have it.


MARINA: You selfish little bitch.

LISE: What?

MARINA: You haven’t thought about anybody besides yourself since you came out here to wallow.

LISE: I just don’t want to screw this up for everyone.

MARINA: Unbelievable. You have no idea how to push, do you?

LISE: What? Of course I do! That’s all ballet is!

MARINA: You never had to push. You’re all talent, all perfect form. It was always easy for you, wasn’t it?

LISE: I worked hard too!

(MARINA splashes into the water with her.)

MARINA: Worked through what? You never had anyone ever tell you that your legs were too stocky, or that your hips were too tight. You never had to fight against a turnout that wasn’t wide enough, or too-short ligaments, or… or…

LISE: Your knees.

MARINA: Yeah. Or knees that never seem to loosen up, no matter how long or how carefully you work them. You’ve never had to do that, have you?

LISE: No. But I know what it’s like to work through the pain, Marina!

MARINA: Really? You know that it’s like to keep pushing and keep pushing no matter how much it hurts, until eventually you work them so hard they can’t take it anymore.

LISE: I saw. It’s bad, isn’t?


LISE: Isn’t it?

MARINA: You have no idea.

LISE: You won’t be able to go on much longer like that.

MARINA: Exactly! Don’t you get it? This is my last chance! It’s going to blow, Lise. I know that, I’m not an idiot. It’s only a matter of time.

LISE: So why are you doing this to yourself? Do you want to ruin that leg forever?

MARINA: What’s the use if I can never dance again anyway?

LISE: Is that worth being in pain for the rest of your life?

MARINA: Ha! Too late for that now.

LISE: Oh, God.

MARINA: I’m on my way out, Lise. I’m going to go out on top. And I can’t do that if you bail out. You’re the one they want to see.

LISE: Marina, you are a beautiful dancer.

MARINA: Not beautiful enough. You’re the one that has the talent, the skill, the passion, the look… everything they want. Jason saw it, that’s why he picked you. And I could never stand you because… you’re everything I’ve always wanted to be. This was… supposed to be my whole life. Now I’m going to have to figure out something else. That’s going to be hard enough without… without getting my one last moment. People are going to see me one more time. They’re going to see what I can do. But the only way that’s going to happen is if they come to see you. So you can’t bail on this now. You can’t do that to me.

LISE: Marina—!

MARINA: Don’t you ruin this for me. Don’t you take my last shot from me!

(She storms away, leaving LISE alone in the water.)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

31 Plays in 31 Days: #19 - "Pushing for Perfection"

This short piece is something I may use as part of my graphic novel project, which will be about rival ballet dancers. This may be the words and imagery that opens the piece. I thought getting some thoughts out about it might help me figure out what it should look and read like.


Day #19 - "Pushing for Perfection"

(LISE, a ballet dancer, is folded up in a traditional “sleeping” position. She sits up and faces the audience, hands folded in front of her.)

LISE: In ballet, there is a traditional motif of the dancer sleeping and waking.

(She rises fluidly to her feet and takes a few balletic steps forward.)

LISE: She rises, unfolding like a flower, light as air… and then she goes into focus. First.

(She snaps into full first.)

LISE: Second.

(She snaps into full second.)

LISE: Third, fourth, fifth.

(She goes through full third, fourth, and fifth in quick succession.)

LISE: Ballet is closely codified, sharply defined. Tendu.

(She extends her left leg before her.)

LISE: Dégagé.

(Her left leg pops into the air.)

LISE: Ronde du jamb.

(She rotates the leg in the arm so that it’s behind her. She lowers the leg, still extended, to the ground, and moves her arms to first and arabesque.)

LISE: An established repertoire of movements that form the building blocks with which all choreography is designed.

(She slowly, deliberately begins to dance.)

LISE: The practice in its entirety consists of learning and honing the performance of this limited repertoire.

(She executes a piqué turn.)

LISE: The company is run like an army, and we are the soldiers.

(She lunges and combres.)

LISE: It requires total focus and concentration.

(She pirouettes.)

LISE: Constantly pushing, striving for a perfection that can never be achieved.

(She relevés with her arms in fifth and extends her other leg before her.)

LISE: By its very nature, I will never, ever be good enough.

(She slowly fondus, finally crouching on the ground.)

LISE: I understand why a dancer would want to sleep after.

(She folds herself back up into the sleeping pose.)
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