PLAY #226: BEFORE YOU TURN OUT THE LIGHTS (JULY 31)

A hallway.

ATLAS, picks up a suitcase, does a final check of things before he leaves.

He switches off the light, puts his hand on the doorknob.

 

VOICE comes from above.

ATLAS stays by the door throughout, listening.

 

VOICE

have you turned off the oven?

have you canceled the milk?

have you kenneled the dog?

have you fed the cat?

have you watered the plants?

have you left them a note?

are the instructions you’ve given

concise and clear?

are the locks you’ve left

strong enough to hold?

 

have you thought about

all the possibilities?

has your brain been through

possible calamities?

 

do you feel confident

that enough has been done?

do you think that you’ve found

the right steward?

 

will it all fall apart

if you turn the door?

will things be any different at all

if you stay?

do the actions that you, Atlas, take

have any bearing at all?

 

would there ever be a thing

to stop a spin?

what is the secret

to keeping things aloft?

 

ATLAS opens the door, exits.

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PLAY #225: CONNECTIONS (JULY 30)

Ireland, a gay health center.

Two men– JOHNNY (20s) and MARK (30s); JOHNNY sitting on a plastic chair, an empty one beside him.

 

MARK

Seat taken?

 

JOHNNY

No. Go ahead.

 

MARK

It’ll get busy enough, soon. Once five hits, it’s standing room only.

 

JOHNNY

Oh. This is my first time.

 

MARK

I know.

 

JOHNNY looks perturbed.

 

MARK

Only first timers get the yellow form.

 

JOHNNY

Oh! You’re a pro, so.

 

MARK

Well…

(beat.)

Don’t be worrying, you’ll be grand.

 

JOHNNY

I know, I’ve been tested before. Lots of times. I mean not lots of times but-

 

MARK

I know.

(beat.)

The hardest thing is holding in the piss.

 

JOHNNY

Right. It takes that long to be seen?

 

MARK

We’re not at the Ritz.

 

JOHNNY

You could have fooled me.

 

MARK

Ha, you do have a sense of humor!

 

JOHNNY

Only under pressure.

 

Pause.

 

MARK

They’re lovely here. They’ll treat you well.

 

JOHNNY

Yeah.

 

Pause.

 

JOHNNY

I’m bursting now.

 

MARK

Sorry.

 

JOHNNY

I had a gallon of water or something before coming here. And an iced coffee.

 

MARK

Iced coffee? Where do you think you are, the Bahamas?

 

JOHNNY

I know, it’s stupid but I’m just back from the States. I got addicted to it over there.

 

MARK

Seems like that’s not all you got in the States.

 

JOHNNY nearly falls off the chair.

 

JOHNNY

You’re very personal!

 

MARK

Sorry.

 

JOHNNY

I mean, I don’t even know who you are-

 

MARK

Mark.

 

JOHNNY

And you’re…

 

MARK

Casting aspersions on your chastity?

 

JOHNNY

No, but…

 

MARK

I’m sorry. Just the nerves. Makes me a bit rude. Sorry.

 

JOHNNY

No, you’re grand.

 

MARK

Were they?

 

JOHNNY

What?

 

MARK

The Yanks. Grand?

 

JOHNNY

Oh. Well. Yeah. Yeah, they were.

 

Pause.

 

JOHNNY

I’m just being cautious.

 

MARK

No judgment.

 

JOHNNY

I mean I’ve no reason to be worried.

 

MARK

You don’t have to tell me anything.

 

JOHNNY

Changed your tune?

 

MARK

Just the hot parts. I don’t need the whole novel.

 

JOHNNY

Ha. Well, there’s nothing much to tell. More short stories. Haikus, really.

 

MARK

Are you a poet?

 

JOHNNY

No. A scientist.

 

MARK

Really?

 

JOHNNY

Swear to God. And why would I lie about that?

 

MARK

People lie all the time when they’re trying to seduce someone.

 

JOHNNY

Uh-huh.

 

MARK

That was a non-sequiter by the way.

 

JOHNNY

Thanks for the explanation.

 

MARK

So what sort of science do you do?

 

JOHNNY

Climate.

 

MARK

Ice-caps?

 

JOHNNY

Models. I’m looking at clouds.

 

MARK

In the States? Sure, don’t we have plenty of them here?

 

JOHNNY

Where my funding is.

 

MARK

Right. And some beautiful, short poetry.

 

JOHNNY

Right. And you must be a comedian?

 

MARK

Private detective. Your Ma hired me. Relax…I’m a teacher.

 

JOHNNY

Cool.

 

MARK

You don’t think I look old enough to be a teacher?

 

JOHNNY

No, you’re definitely that.

 

Pause.

JOHNNY shifts in the seat: he really has to pee now.

 

MARK

Tell me about your clouds. It’ll help distract you.

 

JOHNNY

Talking about rain?

 

MARK

At least it’s not waterfalls of clouds. Diving down into the ocean and-

 

JOHNNY

Alright, I’ll tell you, but there’s not much to say.

 

MARK

They’re causing climate change?

 

JOHNNY

No. That would be stupidity.

 

MARK

They’re going to save us from climate change?

 

JOHNNY

That would be space-ships.

 

MARK

They’re very pretty to look at and they might help distract us from our horribly warming earth?

 

JOHNNY

Do you ever shut up?

 

MARK

I’ve only known you five minutes and it already feels like we’re dating!

(beat.)

I’m shutting up now.

(beat.)

And you can ask them for a cup, take your sample early if you need.

 

JOHNNY

I’m okay.

(beat.)

So, if you are interested, what I’m looking at is the history of clouds.

 

MARK

What? How can clouds have history? What are you doing, interviewing lakes and asking them about their past, their fall from the top?

 

JOHNNY

Weather records. And we’re looking at the future. Models.

 

MARK

Things on computers?

 

JOHNNY

Yes. To see what effect increased temperatures will have on clouds. And vice versa.

 

MARK

And?

 

JOHNNY

It’s inconclusive. We’re still looking. It’s helpful though, to have predictions.

 

MARK

So that you know what the worst can be?

 

JOHNNY

Yeah.

 

Pause.

 

MARK

I don’t know, sometimes I think you’re better in ignorance.

 

JOHNNY

Really?

 

MARK

No.

(beat.)

But, it does have its appeals.

 

JOHNNY

Yeah.

 

Pause.

 

MARK

So, what’s your professional diagnosis?

 

JOHNNY

What?

 

MARK

For the planet. As a scientist, what’s your outcome?

 

JOHNNY

I’m only a grad student.

 

MARK

I’d trust you more than a politician.

 

JOHNNY

I’d trust you more than a politician.

 

MARK

You’re a real charmer.

 

JOHNNY

I try.

(beat.)

You know what I was thinking about, before you walked in?

 

MARK

That you were hoping a handsome stranger would arrive?

 

JOHNNY

That it’s a bit fucked up the way that disease can come with love.

 

MARK

Is that what you call it?

 

JOHNNY

I’m serious.

 

MARK

Me too. I’m very serious about protecting sex from this love business.

 

JOHNNY

Ha. No, but, it’s a shame…that something you’re doing that’s so good can also be harmful.

 

MARK

You’re not preaching abstinence, I hope?

 

JOHNNY

No!

 

MARK

You’re suggesting that we get a giant condom for the earth. Protect us from the sun.

 

JOHNNY

No!

 

MARK

Protect us from each other!

 

JOHNNY

No, I don’t know what I’m saying, what I’m thinking. I don’t have a diagnosis or any conclusions for the planet. I’m still jet-lagged. And then I had too much iced coffee and-

 

MARK

The ice probably froze your brain.

 

JOHNNY

Lucky. Otherwise you would have broken it.

 

MARK

Ha!

(beat.)

You know what I think?

 

JOHNNY

I’m sure you’re about to tell me.

 

MARK

There’s still some hope, yet.

 

JOHNNY

That’s your scientific opinion?

 

MARK

It can bring out the best in people. Crisis.

 

JOHNNY

True.

 

MARK

And it can make all sorts of things possible, not just disease.

 

JOHNNY

Crises?

 

MARK

No.

 

JOHNNY

Oh. Yeah.

 

MARK

You never know what will happen.

 

JOHNNY

You don’t.

 

A smile between them.

Blackout.

 

PLAY #224: AVOCADO HEART (JULY 29)

The Museum of Extinction.

A large, draughty place, its décor itself no longer seen in 21st century places.

Something of a vastly expanded Cabinet of Curiosities feel about the place.

 

A rusty conveyor belt collects objects which fall from a chute, leads them on to…

 

OLD PRO moves around, taking records of each object, pulling a lever to stop and start the conveyor belt.

APPRENTICE looks on, helping, distracted by feelings, prickling away inside.

 

A large crate with something inside passes – the sounds are wild, animal.

OLD PRO takes note, moves it along.

Many avocados tumble from the sky.

OLD PRO takes notes, moves the conveyor belt along.

 

APPRENTICE picks up an avocado, holds it, reluctant to let it go along on its way.

 

APPRENTICE

What is our purpose?

 

OLD PRO

Not to question, for one thing.

 

APPRENTICE

Don’t you-?

 

OLD PRO

No. It’s not for us to interfere.

 

APPRENTICE

But-

 

OLD PRO

That’s the way it is.

 

APPRENTICE places the avocado on the conveyer belt.

OLD PRO turns it on.

They conveyer belt moves along until the avocado disappears.

 

APPRENTICE

Sometimes, I think our only function – the only thing that we can do about this – is try to remember the things that we are losing. Is that all we’re doing, making an elegy for the earth?

 

OLD PRO

Yes.

 

OLD PRO continues to work.

APPRENTICE hesitates for a moment, joins.

PLAY #223: THE BATTLE BETWEEN SHALL AND SHOULD (JULY 28)

A huge reproduction of the Paris Agreement, set out as wrestling ring.

SHALL and SHOULD, two wrestlers, face off against each other.

 

SHALL

You shall submit.

 

SHOULD

You should admit defeat.

 

SHALL holds out some rope, moves closer.

 

SHALL

I shall not back down until this text is legally binding.

 

SHOULD

You should know that binding is messy.

 

SHALL

I promised after Copenhagen that I would not be shut out again; I shall not disappoint.

 

SHOULD

You should look at the way the wind’s blowing: the climate is set for a looser pact, one that should gives countries room for maneuver.

 

SHALL

I shall not let the climate be compromised by cowardice.

 

SHOULD

You should not let grandstanding get in the way of getting this text negotiated.

 

SHALL

There is no negotiating with the climate – things shall get much worse unless we take decisive binding action.

 

SHOULD

You should consider working with a modifier; I’ve heard ‘seek’ is available.

 

SHALL

I shall not seek solutions – you know that weakens my powers.

 

SHOULD

You should realize that compromise is inevitable.

 

SHALL

I shall not compromise for the sake of face.

 

SHOULD

You should.

 

SHALL

Shall…

 

SHOULD

Should…

 

They wrestle, tumbling across the text, paper flying everywhere, but not decisively, not yet.

PLAY #222: UNCIVIL SERVICE (JULY 27)

The U.K.

SERVICE, a chorus of civil servants, are in the middle of building a house.

The house is half-finished, a green door, half a roof, open windows etc.

MINISTER OF DASH arrives.

 

MINISTER OF DASH

No no, stop, we’re not going ahead with this plan-

 

SERVICE

What?

 

MINISTER OF DASH

Yes, change of plan, let’s move, we just don’t have the buy-in for solar subsidies anymore.

 

SERVICE

That was your policy.

 

MINISTER OF DASH

Was, indeed. And now a new government, a new year.

 

SERVICE

But what about all these panels?

 

MINISTER OF DASH

I’m sure somebody will want them.

 

SERVICE

And what about all the other schemes?

 

MINISTER OF DASH

Yes, well, let’s just move on, shall we? You can leave the door though, looks nice. Alright, gotta go, plans to make!

 

MINISTER OF DASH rushes off.

SERVICE look around at the unfinished house in despair.

PLAY #221: DIVISION OF LABOR (JULY 25)

Mayo, Ireland.

A bedroom with a pipe running through it.

Two priests, FATHER YES and FATHER NO, stand either side of the pipe, addressing it.

 

FATHER YES

You are a blessing.

 

FATHER NO

You are a curse.

 

FATHER YES

For the jobs you bring

For the support you bring to the community

I anoint you.

 

FATHER YES anoints the pipe with holy water.

 

FATHER NO

Saint Patrick long ago banished the snakes

And we don’t need this

creatures slithering along the ground

spreading division through the community

ripping up land

 

FATHER YES

building

you are building something good

a bridge to the future

 

FATHER NO

ripping up the future

when we think of what the Pope said

what our responsibilities are for this planet

than how can we support this?

 

FATHER YES

we have a responsibility to the community

to stability

and as the Pope said

some fuels are lesser evils

and that is what gas is

unavoidable to use it

it might as well bring some good here.

 

FATHER NO

only harm

that’s all it’s brought

that’s all it can carry.

 

FATHER YES AND FATHER NO look at each other.

The pipe starts to move, twisting its way around the room, moving forward off the stage…

PLAY #220: MADE (JULY 24)

Mayo, Ireland.

A couple in their thirties in bed – BRIAN and SHEILA.

They lie in the dark, thinking.

 

BRIAN

What’s up?

 

SHEILA

You know.

 

BRIAN

Isn’t it done? It’s done now.

 

SHEILA

I suppose it is.

 

Pause.

 

BRIAN

That pipe’ll be laid anyway, better us having the money than not.

 

SHEILA

We’ve made our bed.

 

BRIAN

Better than us being in jail.

 

SHEILA

We’ll lie in it.

 

BRIAN

I was thinking of the kids.

 

SHEILA

They’re what I’m thinking of too.

 

EXECUTIVES enter, tip-toing, start to lay down a pipe, under and around the bed, moving BRIAN and SHEILA the better to lay the pipe.

BRIAN and SHEILA act as if they are not there.

 

BRIAN

We’ll go on a holiday. Get away from this. It’ll be good for the kids.

 

SHEILA turns over, looks away.

BRIAN sighs.

EXECUTIVES continue to lay down the pipe.