PLAY #349: PARIS (10. DEC.2015)

Paris, evening of Dec 9th 2015.

ANJALI and ZAC are at a bistro in Paris.

ZAC is sitting at a table on his phone, ANJALI returns from the bathroom.

 

ANJALI

I’ve already told you that posting naked pictures won’t get you any more followers.

 

ZAC

What if they’re not of me?

 

ANJALI

I don’t know if Gladys would agree that it’s part of her contract.

 

ZAC

Well, it’s more of a free-form agreement.

 

ANJALI

Voluntary contributions?

 

ZAC

That’s it.

 

ZAC puts his phone away.

 

ANJALI

It’s killing you not being in there.

 

ZAC

No.

 

ANJALI

You miss the huddles.

 

ZAC

I have all the huddling I want.

 

ANJALI

You could go and loiter through the night.

 

ZAC

That’s not what I want to do tonight.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

ZAC

Anjali…

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

So, give me the optimistic spin.

 

ZAC

1.5 is still on the table.

 

ANJALI

One of three options.

 

ZAC

I think it’ll happen.

 

ANJALI

In symbolism yes, in practice…

 

ZAC

I didn’t think it was possible last year.

 

ANJALI

Who knew what poor countries could do when they shout together?

 

ZAC

There’s still some language about human rights.

 

ANJALI

Once it’s not specific. Not like indigenous people or women have any special vulnerability to climate change.

 

ZAC

Adaptation, they’ve worked through that: hardly a square bracket in sight.

 

ANJALI

Loss and damage…

 

ZAC

We’ll see. 2050 is still on the table. Five year reviews are in.

 

ANJALI

And international transport is out. Not like ships or planes have any special emissions.

 

ZAC

I’m sure the IMO and the ICA will sort it out.

 

ANJALI

Careful, Zac, that sounded like cynicism.

 

ZAC

Mid-thirties now. Gotta find something to match the stubble.

 

ANJALI

Which, by the way, is ill-advised.

 

ZAC

Your objections are noted.

 

ANJALI

My favourite part is still Article 2 option 2.

 

ZAC

The purpose of the UNFCCC: ‘no text.’

 

ANJALI

Sums it up.

 

ZAC

I thought you were feeling good about things.

 

ANJALI

I’m feeling good about things outside the bloody COP. But why do we keep coming here to cycle through the same bullshit?

 

ZAC

So you can ask that question every year?

 

ANJALI

And I can scowl at your dimples. Seriously, I don’t understand why everybody is excited about 1.5 degrees when the current INDCS have us at 2.7 degrees at the least-

 

ZAC

That’ll have to change-

 

ANJALI

And they can’t even say a fossil free world. More of this zero net carbon emissions double-talk, so that we will bend every way to offset everything instead of just stopping using the bloody things that are causing this mess.

 

ZAC

Modi’s solar deal is a good step-

 

ANJALI

Don’t get me started on him. What’s the point of expanding solar when you’re also expanding coal?

 

ZAC

Coal’s on the way out.

 

ANJALI

Right: natural gas is the energy of the future. I can’t believe they’re distributing tote bags touting gas. Or, I can believe it. Nothing about the False Solutions exhibit would surprise me.

 

ZAC

I haven’t been yet.

 

ANJALI

Neither have I of course.

 

ZAC

But you’ve seen the pictures.

 

ANJALI

Some of us follow the right people.

 

ZAC

It doesn’t even feel like we’re in Paris.

 

ANJALI

We have croissants. And wine. What more do you want?

 

ZAC

Moonlight under the Eiffel Tower?

 

ANJALI

I’ve told you to be careful about that sounding like Woody Allen shit.

 

ZAC

Anjali-

 

ANJALI

Saturday, we’ll go on a trip.

 

ZAC

To a jail cell?

 

ANJALI

To an exciting undisclosed location. I’m excited to push the boundaries of your civil disobedience.

 

ZAC

I thought I did an excellent job of sitting in today.

 

ANJALI

Apart from some of your suggestions.

 

ZAC

I didn’t think other people would be listening to us.

 

ANJALI

You should leave the thinking to me.

(beat.)

I mean…

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

Are we going to keep pretending that nothing has changed?

 

ANJALI

I don’t know.

(beat.)

I don’t want to talk about it now. With all this.

 

ZAC

Maybe we can schedule a huddle?

 

ANJALI

December 13th?

 

ZAC

Midnight under The Eiffel Tower?

 

ANJALI

If we’re not in jail.

 

ZAC

Maybe I can charm my way out and release you.

 

ANJALI

I won’t be holding my breath.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

You think they’ll finish by then?

 

ANJALI

We could still be here.

 

ZAC

We could never leave.

 

ANJALI

I’m running off with that Greenpeace polar bear.

 

ZAC

I’ve got my eyes on one of those Angels.

 

ANJALI

I had you pegged for a mermaid man.

 

ZAC

Keeping my options open.

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

I do feel good. About things. Surprisingly.

 

ZAC

Oh.

 

ANJALI

The climate movement is getting stronger and stronger.

 

ZAC

Oh.

 

ANJALI

There is a sense of movement that wasn’t there in-

 

ZAC

Don’t.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

They don’t talk about Copenhagen.

They never talk about Copenhagen.

 

ANJALI

But I feel excited by Montreuil this weekend, by some of the wins that have happened this year. Including 1.5 degrees. Because even if we’re nowhere near set to meet that goal, lines are being drawn and we have something to hold the bastards to.

(beat.)

And I feel good about other things.

 

ZAC

Hopeful?

 

ANJALI

Not without hope. That’s what I’d say.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

There’s always Marrakesh.

 

ANJALI

Yes. It’s always possible to postpone your urgent decisions for a year.

 

ZAC

Or we could always just never leave Paris.

 

ANJALI

Right. The current climate is very attractive. Maybe the National Front can turn this airport into a military base once COP is over.

 

ZAC

What was that you were saying about hope?

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

Marrakesh. There’s somewhere between Marrakesh and Paris.

 

ZAC

Some place in square brackets.

 

ANJALI

Multiple locations.

 

ZAC

We [should] decide.

 

ANJALI

We [shall] decide.

 

ZAC

No hurry.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

They drink.

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PLAY #323: BLUE (NOV 11)

Bangalore, 2012.

BHAKTI (60s; female; brown) is sitting by a large window, clearly sick.

ANJALI (30; female; brown) enters.

BHAKTI holds a drawing by a child.

 

ANJALI turns to the audience, addresses them.

 

ANJALI

This is it. Our last conversation. The one I return and return to. Because if I’d known that this would be the last time we talked, I would have…

 

BHAKTI turns to look at ANJALI.

 

ANJALI

Is everything alright?

 

BHAKTI

You left the house like that?

 

ANJALI

Yes.

 

BHAKTI

You could be so beautiful.

(beat.)

What’s wrong?

 

ANJALI

I’m counting to ten.

 

BHAKTI

Maybe you should do that before your outfits.

 

ANJALI

Four. Five.

 

BHAKTI

What? I can say what I want now: I’m dying.

 

ANJALI

We’re all dying all the time. You’re just embracing it.

 

BHAKTI

Don’t get philosophical. I knew all that university would come back to haunt me.

 

ANJALI

Let me get you some water.

 

BHAKTI

I’m perfectly hydrated. I’m not the one who moved to London: I thrive in this climate.

 

ANJALI

You should keep drinking.

 

BHAKTI

Why? So you can feel better? You’re as bad as Priya, bringing me pillows and tablets and flowers and water so you don’t have to talk to me.

 

ANJALI goes to get water, addresses the audience.

 

ANJALI

When I go back in. That’s when I’ll be my best self. That’s when we’ll talk. This time it will be different…

 

BHAKTI

You could at least water the flowers.

 

ANJALI

These are from the garden?

 

BHAKTI

Some of them. Why people bring me flowers I don’t know. As if that’ll make things better.

 

ANJALI

Keeps the room bright.

 

BHAKTI

Attracts all sorts of insects. I’ll probably be murdered by a bee.

 

ANJALI

At least you’ll bring it down with you. Drink this.

 

BHAKTI

You want to shut up?

 

ANJALI

I’m looking after you.

 

Pause.

ANJALI pulls out her phone.

 

BHAKTI

Don’t tell me you’re saving the world again?

 

ANJALI

I have to work.

 

BHAKTI

I don’t know how you call twittering work.

 

ANJALI

You know it’s tweeting. And maybe I should go mine some jewels.

 

BHAKTI

I wish you’d wear some. You were always so beautiful.

 

ANJALI

Were?

 

BHAKTI

It’s not good for your eyes. Always looking at that phone. At that laptop. Tracking all these policies and counting clouds and going to all these conferences when you’re not getting any younger.

 

ANJALI

Thanks for the reminder.

 

BHAKTI

I said it at Priya’s wedding, it should have been you first-

 

ANJALI

I remember.

 

BHAKTI

You were always the beautiful one-

 

ANJALI

Smart one. That’s what I always wanted to be.

 

BHAKTI

Stubborn one. You were always that at least.

 

ANJALI

I don’t know where I got it from.

 

ANJALI’s phone beeps: she looks at it, talks to the audience.

 

ANJALI

And this isn’t how it should go, this isn’t why I keep coming back to this memory, because we’ve had this fight, so many times, and I want this to be different, I want to look up from my phone and notice the drawing on your lap, which Priya tells me about later, which was something I drew for you when I was, who remembers how old, flowers, blue, your favourite color, always your favourite colour, and I wish I said something, I wish I dug up some sapphires from the dirt and brought them to you, I wish I said something different…

 

BHAKTI

I don’t know why you bother. It doesn’t matter what anybody does once China keeps polluting.

 

ANJALI

India is hardly innocent in the emissions charts.

 

BHAKTI

We’re just catching up. How many million people need electricity? You wouldn’t deny them that?

 

ANJALI

No reason that development has to be based on fossil fuels. There are lots of local initiatives with renewable energy-

 

BHAKTI

More money for the Chinese – you know they have the solar panel market sorted. When I was there last year I-

 

ANJALI

I don’t want to get into an argument.

 

ANJALI looks at her phone, looks up to the audience.

 

ANJALI

And yet, maybe I should have, because maybe it would have been different, because you were showing an interest in my work, were at least acknowledging the existence of climate change as something other than an obstacle to me snagging a husband and maybe if I hadn’t shut you down, maybe we could have had a conversation…

 

Pause.

 

BHAKTI

You’re very aggressive when you type. It’s probably not good for your fingers.

 

ANJALI

Maybe I should hire a servant.

 

BHAKTI

Right. I’m a dinosaur. But who else is going to look after me?

 

ANJALI

Do you need anything?

 

BHAKTI

Oh, no you’re all concern.

 

ANJALI

What can I get for you?

 

ANJALI looks to the audience.

 

ANJALI

A question I meant. Maybe if I’d changed the tone. Maybe there’s a way of saying it where I get a different answer. Because this can’t be our last talk, not when only seconds later you’ll say ‘nothing’ and then I’ll have to go and that will be that and there won’t be another chance to say…all the things I’d say if I took it seriously, if I thought you were so close to leaving, you were always so indefatigable, I thought that this would be the same, that you had it under control but if only…

 

BHAKTI turns to the audience.

 

BHAKTI

If only I hadn’t been so sharp with you.

 

ANJALI turns to BHAKTI in shock.

 

BHAKTI

What? You think you’re the only one who comes back to this memory? You don’t think that I wouldn’t have liked to say something different. You don’t think I wish I’d said how proud I was of you?

 

ANJALI

You don’t have to say anything-

 

BHAKTI

Stop interrupting me! This is where I say how proud I am of this person who always disagrees with me.

 

ANJALI

No, I’m supposed to say how proud I am of you.

 

BHAKTI

Stop stealing my thunder! This should be where I say that I want to talk to you instead of ‘nothing’ and I’ll say that it doesn’t matter if you do keep at that job, even if it bores me to tears, and it doesn’t matter if you have no more use for jewels than cars, even if they always suited you, and I should say that even if I never understood you, I always loved you-

 

ANJALI

And me too-

 

BHAKTI

Stop interrupting! This is my last speech. What it should have been. I should have said that you shouldn’t jump into a marriage for me, not to Vikram-

 

ANJALI

Don’t blame Vikram-

 

BHAKTI

I don’t blame him, I blame you! And me. For not saying this. For not saying that all I wanted you to do was live your own life-

 

ANJALI

Once you don’t have to look at it-

 

BHAKTI

Not so nice to look at you unhappily married. Or divorced.

 

ANJALI

This is me imagining. This is what I wanted you to say.

 

BHAKTI

You think you have a monopoly on hallucinations? I’m the one on all the drugs.

 

ANJALI

Maybe you should give me some.

 

BHAKTI

You don’t need any. You were always very self-contained. You didn’t need anything.

 

ANJALI

Nothing. That’s what you need. That’s what you say. What you said.

 

BHAKTI

And then you say you have to go. And then you do. And then…

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

Well? What can I get for you?

 

BHAKTI

Nothing. I need nothing.

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

Well. I should get going.

 

BHAKTI

Don’t let me keep you.

 

ANJALI

I’ll see you later.

 

BHAKTI

Yes. Yes.

 

ANJALI leaves.

BHAKTI looks at the drawing by her chair.

PLAY #322: ZEPHYR (NOV 10)

USA, 2000.

YAYA (25, black, female) and ZAC (19, white, male) stand on a hill by a tree in the Virginia countryside.

YAYA holds an urn.

 

YAYA

This the spot.

 

ZAC

It’s beautiful.

 

YAYA

You’re sure your loafers survived?

 

ZAC

I should have brought boots.

 

YAYA

I should have told you.

 

ZAC

But you wanted to make fun of me.

 

YAYA

No. Well. Maybe a little.

 

ZAC

Nick would be proud.

 

YAYA

Yeah.

 

YAYA sits and pulls out some food from her backpack.

 

YAYA

Lunch?

 

ZAC

Sure. It’s all from the farm?

 

YAYA

Yeah.

 

ZAC

It’s great. I mean, delicious. Like, way better than what you get at Dean and Deluca.

 

YAYA

Uh-huh.

 

ZAC

And so much better than the Meal Plan at College. Nice to have real food.

 

YAYA

Maybe I’ll send you a basket in the Fall.

 

ZAC

Maybe I can come volunteer next Summer?

 

YAYA

What about all your internships?

 

ZAC

I can do an internship at your radical school, no?

 

YAYA

Not sure the Free School will be as useful for your resume.

 

ZAC

Maybe not.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

It would be cool to see Maya.

 

YAYA

Yeah.

 

ZAC

Maybe you can get to D.C. sometime.

 

YAYA

I don’t know. I used to only go there for protests. Not sure that she’s old enough yet.

 

ZAC

Or Connecticut.

 

YAYA

Don’t think that’ll be happening.

 

ZAC

They’d be glad to see you.

 

YAYA

They blame me.

 

ZAC

And Maya. It could be good for everybody.

 

YAYA

She’s a kid, not a bandage. She can’t be the thing that holds everything together.

 

ZAC

No.

(beat.)

They blame themselves.

 

YAYA

They should.

(beat.)

I blame him sometimes.

 

ZAC

Me too.

 

Pause.

 

YAYA

You want to do this?

 

ZAC

Sure…you sure we should do it here? With the wind?

 

YAYA

Don’t want Nick to get one last punch in?

(beat.)

Sorry, that was…

 

ZAC

No, it was funny. He’d love it.

(beat.)

I wish we could laugh about it more.

 

YAYA

You set up the Suicide Stand-Up Show; I’ll watch.

 

YAYA opens the urn.

 

ZAC

You don’t want Maya to be here?

 

YAYA

We’ve done our thing.

 

ZAC

Cool.

(beat.)

You’re right. It’s not too much wind. Just a little breeze. Gentle. Nice to have some currents, so you don’t know where it’ll end up. A zephyr.

 

YAYA

Thanks, AP English.

 

ZAC

I know all the ‘z’ words, my little alphabet-sakes. Gotta get them into conversation when I can. Not too many times a day you can admire a zenith or observe zymosis or spot a zebra…sorry. I talk too much when I’m nervous. Nick used to time me sometimes. Not that he could talk. Or, the opposite – he could really talk…

 

YAYA

Yeah.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

You used to come here together?

 

YAYA

Sometimes.

 

ZAC

Thanks for inviting me.

 

YAYA

All good.

 

ZAC

I would like to come back and see the farm and the school and the collective and maybe I can even talk to Senator Watkins about getting money or some grants for some of the cool energy things you’re doing. I mean, we’re working more on the international policy side of global warming but the local matters too and I could put in a word and-

 

YAYA

It’s okay.

 

ZAC

Oh. Right. You don’t believe in government here.

 

YAYA

Nobody’s accusing you of anything. You pick your own path.

 

ZAC

I do believe in it. I do think it matters who wins this election.

 

YAYA

Your idealism is admirable.

 

ZAC

International negotiations are the only place where meaningful action on the climate can happen, Nick knew that-

 

YAYA

You don’t have to justify yourself to me. Or to him.

 

ZAC

No. Different paths.

(beat.)

Do you ever imagine he’s here?

 

YAYA

Here?

 

ZAC

Anywhere. That you can see him. That he’s talking to you. Arguing with you. Sure of himself.

 

YAYA

A complete self-righteous bastard!?

 

ZAC

Exactly.

 

YAYA

If I do see him, I’m the one talking. When I’m not hitting him. Or holding him.

 

ZAC

That makes sense.

 

YAYA

Maybe. Lets do this.

 

ZAC

Lets. Should we say a prayer or something? Is that what you do?

 

YAYA

We’re a collective not a cult.

 

ZAC

I know. Just seems like there should be some ceremony.

 

YAYA

You got a hymn you want to share?

 

ZAC

I don’t know what Nick would like.

 

YAYA

Well, he didn’t leave us any instructions, alongside the other whole lot of nothing he left, so…

 

ZAC

We wing it.

 

YAYA

Yeah.

 

ZAC

We trust in the zephyr. The flow of the world.

 

YAYA

You’re sure you don’t want to join a cult?

 

ZAC

Isn’t that what government is for you?

 

YAYA

Little brother can be funny.

 

ZAC

I have my moments.

 

Pause.

 

YAYA

Let’s do this.

 

ZAC

Lets.

 

YAYA holds out the urn.

PLAY #321: AND AFTER PARIS…(NOV 9)

Bonn, November 2015.

A hotel room.

ANJALI is on her phone, dressed.

ZAC is getting dressed.

 

ANJALI

I hate this new heart.

 

ZAC

And all this time I had you for a romantic.

 

ANJALI

It might as well be skull-shaped: it’s the beginning of the end for Twitter.

 

ZAC

I don’t see how it’s so different from a star.

 

ANJALI

That’s because you’re American: you are benumbed to the tyranny of the heart.

 

ZAC

Ouch, right in the aorta!

 

ANJALI

You can’t ‘heart’ an article about ice-melt.

 

ZAC

I’m sure somebody will innovate an emoji to deal with this crisis.

 

ANJALI

Or you can’t heart a link about climate refugees. Or bombs in Syria. It’s like an assault against anything remotely serious on Twitter. Clear off news, make way for cats on treadmills that people can heart until the internet vomits from all the love.

 

ZAC

You hearted Obama’s Keystone rejection.

 

ANJALI

It’s easy to like a win.

 

ZAC

What about poor Paul Ryan?

 

ANJALI

I’m not going to be drawn into an argument about Keystone.

 

ZAC

Because you know that it won’t make all that difference going into Paris.

 

ANJALI

Because you know that its symbolic impact is huge and I’ve told you, I’m not going to be pulled into this fight.

 

ZAC

You’d rather fight about Twitter?

 

ANJALI

I’m a pacifist, I’d rather not fight at all.

 

ZAC

Except that this makes it easier for you to ignore what’s happening.

 

ANJALI

What?

 

ZAC

It’s how we roll: pick a fight about something small, exhaust each other out. Makes leaving easier.

 

ANJALI

Did you get that from your therapist?

 

ZAC

Self-help books. They might reach Twitter some day.

 

ANJALI

I’ll be sure to heart them.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

What are we doing?

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

You want some of this?

 

ZAC

You saved me half a croissant?

 

ANJALI

I was hungry. And I know how long your showers are.

 

ZAC

As if I had no regard for the climate.

 

ANJALI

Exactly. So this will be good for your food consumption footprint. And your belly.

 

ZAC

That’s your distraction tool?

 

ANJALI

I’m sure I can find a CrossFit joke.

 

ZAC

Anjali…

 

ANJALI

I know. I don’t know. I don’t know what we’re doing either.

 

ANJALI walks to the window.

ZAC eats half a croissant.

 

ZAC

I hope these are better in Paris.

 

ANJALI

I think that’s one thing we can bet on.

 

ZAC

I can go out and get us some German doughy thing or something if you want.

 

ANJALI

No. I should order a cab soon.

 

ZAC

Right.

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

This doesn’t have to mean anything different.

 

ZAC

No.

 

ANJALI

Just a collision of circumstances.

 

ZAC

A happy one?

 

ANJALI

Always.

 

ZAC

But not one you’d heart?

 

ANJALI looks out the window.

 

ANJALI

It’s weird being here without…

 

ZAC

All the conference paraphernalia?

 

ANJALI

Yeah.

 

ZAC

Well, Bonn’s got a lot going for it.

 

ANJALI

Anonymity?

 

ZAC

Familiarity.

 

ANJALI

It’s hard to think of coming back here. After…

 

ZAC

The smash success of Paris where everything is saved?

 

ANJALI

Exactly. I feel like this conference has been on the horizon for so long and now it’s only month away and…

 

ZAC

It can only disappoint?

 

ANJALI

Maybe. Or maybe I’m just starting to feel old. This is the part where you tell me I’m not old.

 

ZAC

You will never hear me tell you’re old. Even when we’re tweeting from Bonn in our seventies.

 

ANJALI

Don’t…

 

ZAC

Who knows what’ll happen after Paris. But at least there’ll be a map. Think about where things were five years ago.

 

But they don’t think about Copenhagen; they try never to think about Copenhagen.

ANJALI looks out the window.

 

ANJALI

You’re right.

 

ZAC

Could you repeat that? Maybe I can make a recording on my phone.

 

ANJALI

No use thinking too far ahead right now.

 

ZAC

You’re talking about Paris?

 

ANJALI

We don’t have to decide anything. Good to keep things open, no?

 

ZAC

Yeah. What do they say in France?

 

ANJALI

Not sure I want to know.

 

ZAC

On va voir.

 

ANJALI

Exactement.

(beat.)

I should get going.

 

ZAC

You sure you don’t want to hear the other French sentence I know first?

 

ANJALI is not sure, neither of them are, so they stay standing looking at each other, waiting for what will be to be.

PLAY #305: BONN (OCT 24)

Bonn, 2015.

A bar.

ANJALI walks over with two drinks and an apple with a logo of the Paris Accord.

ZAC looks up from his phone.

 

ZAC

How did you get that?

 

ANJALI

Wouldn’t you like to know.

 

ZAC

Only delegates have those.

 

ANJALI

Todd won’t share his with you since he fired you?

 

ZAC

Since I quit. And I’m not going to let you rile me up. I’m not biting.

 

ANJALI

Good. This is for me.

 

ANJALI takes a bite out of the apple.

 

ANJALI

Cute. It shows confidence that they have time to brand their produce with the world to save.

 

ZAC

Now they’ve abandoned loss and damage they’ve probably got lots of time.

 

ANJALI

That’s my line.

 

ZAC

You can’t make pronouncements with your mouth full: it’s undignified.

 

ANJALI

I can, however, throw things.

 

ANJALI picks up one of the glasses, as a threat.

ZAC takes it from her.

 

ANJALI

Who says I got it for you?

 

ZAC

Want me to pass it along to South Africa? Mxakato-Diseko’s probably who you’re shipping now, no? Except for her ambivalence to Twitter.

 

ANJALI

She had a good performance.

 

ZAC

Did she give you the apple?

 

ANJALI

They have extras. In case any of the diplomats drops theirs. Or a photo opportunity is missed.

 

ZAC takes a bite from the apple.

 

ZAC

They’re good.

 

ANJALI

Yeah. You can’t even taste the disappointment.

 

ZAC

At least the food will be good in Paris.

 

ANJALI

Lucky us.

 

ZAC

Croissants. We’ll at least have croissants.

 

ANJALI

Like every hotel in Europe.

 

ZAC

The right kind. They’ll do things right in Paris.

 

ANJALI

You think this is a good sign?

 

ZAC

There’s a workable text.

 

ANJALI

Which has thrown out half of the ideas-

 

ZAC

You can’t work with an 80 page text-

 

ANJALI

The text is meaningless unless there are specific finance commitments-

 

ZAC

Which there are-

 

ANJALI

Which aren’t charity disguised as neoliberal loans-

 

ZAC

Which have to contain some guarantees to transition towards carbon neutrality-

 

ANJALI

And if all the principles of Rio are thrown out along with any mention of historical responsibility-

 

ZAC

Because this isn’t 1992 and this text is making a good compromise-

 

ANJALI

Then we might as well just throw the whole thing into a blender-

 

They stop.

Pause.

 

ZAC

Hard not to bite.

 

ANJALI

Yes.

 

ZAC

I think it’s far from perfect too.

 

ANJALI

A generous assessment.

 

ZAC

But isn’t that the name of this game?

 

ANJALI

I’m not sure what we’re playing now.

 

ANJALI takes a bite of the apple, passes it to ZAC.

ZAC takes a bite.

 

ANJALI

I’m getting too old for this.

 

ZAC

Pretty sure apples are inter-generational. Until your teeth rot. Which is why you should really consider moving to the States-

 

ANJALI

We’re getting too old for this.

 

ZAC

Shipping and aviation. We could argue about that. Or agree – it’s mad that they’ve left it out.

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

You’re supposed to say you’re not old.

 

ZAC

Right. I’m just confused as to the rules here.

 

ANJALI

Well, nothing’s binding in Bonn, it’s just a place to-

 

ZAC

Experiment?

 

ANJALI

Sure.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

Do you think they picked here for the HQ so nobody would ever cover what goes on?

 

ANJALI

It does have an appealing anonymity. Not like-

 

ZAC

Don’t.

 

They don’t talk about Copenhagen.

They never talk about Copenhagen.

ANJALI finishes the apple.

 

ZAC

What times your flight?

 

ANJALI

Ten. You?

 

ZAC

Not till the morning.

 

Pause.

 

ANJALI

So. I should get going.

 

ZAC

That’s not why you came over.

 

ANJALI

No.

 

ZAC

We’re in unchartered territory here.

 

ANJALI

I guess you’re never too old for that.

 

ZAC finishes his drink.

Pause.

 

ZAC

You’re sure about this?

 

ANJALI

No.

 

ANJALI smiles.

ANJALI and ZAC exit.

 

 

PLAY #203: MONTREAL (JULY 3)

Montreal, December 2005.

A bar at the UN Climate Summit.

ANJALI sits surrounded by empty drinks & chairs: it is clear that others have left, that ANJALI and ZAC have been here for a while.

ZAC enters with two drinks.

ANJALI takes a drink, talks as if continuing a conversation.

 

ANJALI

You know, I’ve been thinking about the perfect analogy for cap and trade.

 

ZAC

You realize everybody else has bailed?

 

ANJALI

I don’t need their support to take you down.

 

ZAC

I thought Switzerland might have stuck around.

 

ANJALI

Rolf had to go. And stop trying to change the subject.

 

ZAC

Right. You’ve got a great metaphor for the carbon market.

 

ANJALI

Why make citizens pay for pollution?

 

ZAC

You know what CDMs can do-

 

ANJALI

Clean Defence Mechanisms have nothing to offer.

 

ZAC

Just like Switzerland.

 

ANJALI

His name is Rolf. And you are jealous!

 

ZAC

No way. Especially not to somebody named after the Nazi from the Sound of Music.

 

ANJALI

Liesl’s boyfriend is not a Nazi.

 

ZAC

Neutrality is just another word for evil.

 

ANJALI

At least Switzerland has signed onto Kyoto.

 

ZAC

Fair. Alright, you want to dazzle me with this metaphor?

 

ANJALI points to the array of drink glasses on the table.

 

ANJALI

This is it.

 

ZAC

You want to trade me some empty glasses? I think I’m happy with what I got here.

 

ANJALI

Unsurprising that the US would be happy to retain its resources.

 

ZAC

Not fair.

 

ANJALI

Anyway, this is about historical responsibility.

 

ZAC

This isn’t all mine.

 

ANJALI

Not everything is about you.

 

ZAC

Poland was here before us. Brazil too.

 

ANJALI

Drinking all afternoon. Exactly. Some people are responsible for more glasses than others.

 

ZAC

Switzerland shouldn’t be getting credit for being a dry shit.

 

ANJALI

But we’re left to share this common space.

 

ZAC

I can take them to the bar.

 

ANJALI

It’s not about the glasses.

 

ZAC

It’s a metaphor!

 

ANJALI

It’s about gasses.

 

ZAC

I don’t mind taking them though.

 

ANJALI

Trading pollution is like rewarding Poland for making such a mess. And then buying more space on the table to fill up.

 

ZAC

I hate metaphors.

 

ANJALI

Though in this case, for Poland read the ‘U.K.’ Or the ‘U.S.’

 

ZAC

And maybe you’ll be finished by the time I’m back.

 

ANJALI finishes her drink very quickly.

 

ANJALI

I think I’m finished now.

 

ZAC

You’re going to leave me with your mess?

 

ANJALI

You’ll probably just get your personal assistant to clear it up.

 

ZAC

You think I have a personal assistant?

 

ANJALI

Of course. All the think wanks have one.

 

ZAC

Is that another metaphor?

 

ANJALI

I wish.

 

ZAC

You’re the one with a cleaner.

 

ANJALI

My mother has a cleaner. And that was an earlier conversation.

 

ZAC

I get listening points, right?

 

ANJALI

You know how to use your ears, congratulations. But we’re not talking about me. We’re talking about Gladys.

 

ZAC

Gladys!?

 

ANJALI

Your assistant.

 

ZAC

Of course.

 

ANJALI

She’s very loyal.

 

ZAC

Why wouldn’t she be?

 

ANJALI

Calls you out on your crap.

 

ZAC

An invaluable resource.

 

ANJALI

Tells you that charm can only compensate for so much.

 

ZAC

You think I’m charming?

 

ANJALI

We’re talking about Gladys.

 

ZAC

Right. So what’s Gladys’ opinion on cap and trade?

 

ANJALI

Gladys secretly dreams of a socialist state with carbon rationing.

 

ZAC

I didn’t know I was harbouring a KGB spy.

 

ANJALI

It’s tough at the top.

 

Little pause.

ZAC drinks.

 

ZAC

It worked before.

 

ANJALI

What?

 

ZAC

Montreal Conference. 1987-

 

ANJALI

I know what happened.

 

ZAC

It’s a good precedent-

 

ANJALI

Makes no sense to compare them. We talked about this earlier. Maybe your ears were turned off.

 

ZAC

Maybe I was distracted.

 

ANJALI

Making doe eyes at Rolf?

 

ZAC

You know I can’t resist a man whose hobby is competitive chess.

 

ANJALI

Stop trying to change the subject. You know the market had nothing to do with regulating CFCs.

 

ZAC

Check. But they adapted their business models, found new technology.

 

ANJALI

Only after they were forced to by international law. After they lobbyed that the whole scare was a controversy, lacking any adequate science. Who knows where we’d be if we’d tried to trade CFCs?

 

ZAC

Still, it’s a source of hope: the world coming together to bash together an international treaty.

 

ANJALI

Anything’s a source of hope to a delusionist.

 

ZAC finishes his drink.

 

ZAC

Maybe. You want another? Catch up with Poland?

 

ANJALI

It’s my round.

 

ZAC

On me.

 

ANJALI

No thanks. Nothing more dangerous than a gift.

 

ZAC

Maybe I’ll call Gladys up. Invite her for a cocktail.

 

ANJALI

I think she’s more of a sherry woman.

 

ZAC

Bottle under the desk?

 

ANJALI

Fun Fridays! No problem, maybe I’ll go see what Switzerland’s doing.

 

ZAC

Probably turning curtains into Nazi flags.

 

ANJALI

Not an acceptable source of humor.

 

ZAC

I’m surprised they let me out.

 

ANJALI

Somebody should sequester you before you cause international offense.

 

ZAC

Really?

 

ANJALI

Yes.

 

ANJALI steps a bit closer.

Pause.

 

ZAC

So about that drink?

 

ANJALI

Don’t think we need it. Do you?

 

ZAC shakes head.

ANJALI exits, ZAC follows her.

PLAY #183: NAIROBI (JUNE 10)

Nairobi, 2006.

A hotel room.

ANJALI and ZAC are getting dressed.

ANJALI throws a lanyard across to ZAC.

 

ANJALI

Don’t forget this.

 

ZAC

Thank you. Don’t forget to mock me.

 

ANJALI

I’m waiting until you try to style your tie around the lanyard. And for the performance ritual where your tie lasts longer than a speech from Venezuela.

 

ZAC picks up his tie, starts the elaborate business of knotting it.

 

ZAC

You might laugh, you won’t be the first. Nick thought it was hilarious that I cared about all the different knots-

 

ANJALI

The Wizards and the Whisks?

 

ZAC

The half-Windsor, thank you. He came up with his own names for knots, most of them obscene. He used to wear his school-tie around his head, half the time, as if that made him a rebel, though I guess it did to Dad, nothing drove him crazier…

 

ZAC is caught in the memory for a moment, catches himself.

 

ZAC

You want a drink?

 

ANJALI

It’s still early.

 

ZAC

Not at home.

 

ANJALI

It’s even earlier in the US.

 

ZAC

Maybe I’m on Indian time then.

 

ZAC pours a drink for himself.

 

ANJALI

How much older than you was he?

 

ZAC

Two years.

(beat.)

I’m sorry I brought it up. I guess it’s just on the surface because we were talking about it earlier.

 

ANJALI

You don’t have to apologize.

 

ZAC

I know but the dead brother shtick is a bit of a mood-kill.

 

ANJALI

Well, we’re at a climate conference where yet again the possibility of international agreement is more fantastical than Harry Potter. This is the space for pessimism.

 

ZAC

Maybe we should go outside.

 

ANJALI

And find a bar?

 

ZAC

No. Just do something. I’m sick of being cooped up in hotels and conference rooms that look the same, listening to people make the same excuses about mitigation and the impossibility of international action. What’s the point of coming to Nairobi if we’re going to spend all our time in the same air-conditioned chamber. It’s like all the COPS take place in a giant mall. Except that nobody wants to buy anything.

 

ANJALI

Political action can be pretty expensive.

 

ZAC

I don’t know if I can handle more speeches.

 

ANJALI

You want to go on a safari? Buy beaded trinkets? Demonstrate your cultural sensitivity?

 

ZAC

Throw you to the lions…we could go for a walk. Source some liquor.

 

ANJALI

I have to get back to work.

 

ZAC

Sure. Maybe we can go on an expedition later.

 

ZAC gets ready to leave.

 

ANJALI

Listen-

 

ZAC

Never a good start to a sentence-

 

ANJALI

A necessary one for you.

 

ZAC

I’m all ears.

 

ANJALI

I think we should establish some rules.

 

ZAC

Diplomatic protocol?

 

ANJALI

Nothing binding.

 

ZAC

Clearly. We’re talking about a UN Conference.

 

ANJALI

I don’t want us to get too…

 

ZAC

Entwined?

 

ANJALI

Messy.

 

ZAC

We can go to my room if you like. Or I could get Gladys to give this place a once-over-

 

ANJALI

Can you be serious for a second?

 

ZAC

Sure. But we don’t have to have the conversation. I get it. You want this to be more of a friends with benefits thing.

 

ANJALI

You sure there’s any benefits involved for me in this?

 

ZAC

Now who’s not being serious?

 

ANJALI

I just think it would be good to have clear parameters.

 

ZAC

We could draft up a contract.

 

ANJALI

Zac-

 

ZAC

Okay, sorry, more of a verbal agreement thing, sure, I get it. I’m sorry, I infringed upon the lightness of all this by bringing up Nick. I shouldn’t have.

 

ANJALI

It’s okay. I asked you what got you into this. You told the truth.

 

ZAC

Most days I don’t think about what happened.

 

ANJALI

It’s important to me that we respect each other.

 

ZAC

Or at least most days I don’t talk about it.

 

ANJALI

I just want to be clear about what support I can give.

 

ZAC

Some days I really do forget about it, him. Or I think I do at least. Others, not so much. March 18th is the worst. His anniversary. Every year I think it’ll be better, especially if I drink enough for St. Paddy’s Day, but it’s still there, lurking in the calendar, a stealth bomb, and it doesn’t matter how drunk or hungover I am, it floors me every year. Christmas too. Part of why I like coming to these things, gets me away from my parents. They always sag at this time of year, as if they can see the presents they would have got him under the tree…

 

ZAC pours another drink.

 

ZAC

Sorry. Sort of like a dripping tap, hard to turn it off.

 

ANJALI

Have you thought about talking to a therapist?

 

ZAC

I’m a rich American, I had a therapist before I had a playschool.

 

ANJALI

Okay. Anyway-

 

ZAC

This isn’t about Nick.

 

ANJALI

No. And yes. It’s about intimacy.

 

ZAC

A little late to back-track on that.

 

ANJALI

I can’t be your therapist. I can’t be your girlfriend. I can’t be your date. I want…

 

ZAC

Something with less strings?

 

ANJALI

Yes.

 

ZAC

Hard to ask for at a UN Climate Summit.

 

ANJALI

The US seems to have done a pretty good job of it so far.

 

Pause.

 

ZAC

Damn. And I thought the whole dead brother thing would really win you over.

 

ZAC smiles.

 

ANJALI

That or your incredible sense of humor. And tact.

 

ZAC

Not to mention my political acumen.

 

ANJALI

I never want to mention your politics.

 

ZAC

Or devastating handsomeness.

 

ANJALI

It’s your classic American modesty I’m really attracted to.

 

They kiss.

 

ZAC

Guess we’d better go back to the Conference.

 

ANJALI

Or…

 

ZAC

Wait, a minute ago you were kicking me out.

 

ANJALI

If we’re not going to have strings, we may as well cut them in style. How about this for a contract. Annual sex without strings at the conference of the parties. No other requirements. Five year term.

 

ZAC

Are you sure that the UN Climate Summits will continue for that long? Maybe they’ll have sorted out the whole situation by then.

 

ANJALI

Now that was funny.

 

ZAC

I definitely won’t be here in five years.

 

ANJALI

Don’t worry. There’s always Switzerland.

 

ZAC

Sure you don’t want me to send Gladys?

 

ANJALI

You can bring her next year. So…

 

ZAC

Haven’t we met our obligations for this year?

 

ANJALI

There’s always room for improvement.

 

ZAC

Did I tell you how much I hate you?

 

ANJALI

Please do.

 

ANJALI takes off ZAC’s tie, leads him to the bed.