PLAY #34: THE NEBULIZERS (JAN 3)

Red Hook, Brooklyn.

November 2012: days after Superstorm Sandy.

Two NEBULIZERS (actors or nebulizers as puppets) talk.

 

NEBULIZER #1

I don’t know if this can continue.

 

NEBULIZER #2

You’ll get power soon. We can go on.

 

NEBULIZER #1

It’s been days.

 

NEBULIZER #2

I know.

(beat.)

But we do what we do. Get charged where we can. Go up flight after flight of stairs. Keep people breathing.

 

NEBULIZER #1

It’s too much on us. Why don’t people donate battery powered nebulizers instead of t-shirts? Who needs a t-shirt after a hurricane in November?

 

NEBULIZER #2

People mean well.

 

NEBULIZER #1

It’s not good enough. It’s so unfair.

 

NEBULIZER #2

Storms aren’t fair.

 

NEBULIZER #1

I feel like I’m not doing enough.

 

NEBULIZER #2

We do what we can do.

 

NEBULIZER #1

But don’t you think about the bigger picture?

 

NEBULIZER #2

I’m a nebulizer.

(beat.)

I do what I do best. Charge up. Keep going.

 

NEBULIZER #1

But that’s the problem. Keeping going when….

 

NEBULIZER #2

What?

 

NEBULIZER #1

It all feels so hugely unfair. Already, the asthma rates are disproportionately high in Red Hook: a quarter of the population!

 

NEBULIZER #2

Well, we don’t know what causes asthma for sure.

 

NEBULIZER #1

No. But we know that there’s a large amount of mold and damp in some of the Red Hook Houses that we’ve visited over the last couple of days, mold which will only get worse after the storm. We know there’s pollution from the Gowanus.

 

NEBULIZER #2

But that probably doesn’t have anything to do with asthma. Mold and damp yes but-

 

NEBULIZER #1

It’s part of the pattern though. Like the cruise ships, which release all sorts of pollutants into the air, including the same carbon dioxide that’s warming the planet and rising sea levels so that storms like Sandy hurt much more here.

You know the cruise ships won’t plug into the power-grid until they’re get taxpayer subsidized energy rates? Meanwhile, they’re chugging out fossil fuels while they idle in Red Hook, filling the air with nitrogen oxide and sulphur oxide and-

 

NEBULIZER #2

I’m aware of the situation. The place with lots of asthma is also the place where there’s no power for people to charge their nebulizers which is also the place where there’s no elevators running so people have to go up and down lots of stairs. It sucks.

 

NEBULIZER #1

It feels like we’re not doing enough.

(beat.)

It’s not just unfair, it’s environmental racism. Black kids are twice as likely to hospitalized for asthma and four times as likely to die from asthma than white kids. Latinos are thirty times more likely to be hospitalized by asthma. And so it seems likely that there’s a connection between the large African-American and Hispanic population of Red Hook Houses and the high rates of asthma here. And there’s also a connection between race and pollution, between race and the speed at which things get fixed in this city…and we’re here, like band-aids, barely finding a socket to plug into. I want to do more.

 

NEBULIZER #2

Most band-aids imagine a skin colour that’s white. We’re better than that at least.

 

NEBULIZER #1

Maybe.

(beat.)

What do we do?

 

NEBULIZER #2

We charge. We keep people breathing.

(beat.)

What else can nebulizers do?

NEBULIZER #1

???

 

Advertisements