PLAY #345: ONE POINT FIVE TO SURVIVE (DEC.5.2015)

A large greenhouse.

A large foam ‘UNFCCC’ logo inside.

 

[i]

 

OCEANIA (mermaid from the Pacific Ocean) enters with a sign: ‘’Rio 1992.’

 

OCEANIA twirls around the stage.

Happy, loud music.

NICK (20s; white American; male) starts to fill the greenhouse with trees.

 

OCEANIA

I swim

in streams of possibilities

this new world we create

swirls with hope.

crisp blank pages

await the twirls of proud pens

happy to intervene

before the energy rushes away.

 

[ii]

 

NICK starts to take out some trees to make way for large reams of paper, with UNFCCC text on them.

OCEANIA enters with a sign: ‘Berlin, 1995.’

NICK continues to add paper.

 

NICK – around 17 or so at this point – hands OCEANIA a card.

 

OCEANIA

You’re in the Model UN?

 

NICK

And now the real one!

 

OCEANIA

You’re part of the Youth Groups.

 

NICK

You got it.

(beat.)

Will you sign it? I’ve never met a mermaid before.

 

OCEANIA

Sure.

 

NICK hands OCEANIA a pen.

 

NICK

I love swimming. And boating. And surfing.

 

OCEANIA

I bet.

 

OCEANIA hands NICK back the card.

NICK pulls out another card.

 

NICK

I’ll sign one for you too. Maybe one day it’ll be worth something!

 

OCEANIA

When you’re the President?

 

NICK

I think Environment Secretary would be fine. I really want to make a difference, you know? And I mean there’s so many people and places to save!

 

OCEANIA

You’re excited to play Superman?

 

NICK

Batman, I’d say. Way cooler.

(beat.)

Have you seen any of the negotiation sessions?

 

OCEANIA

No.

 

NICK

I sat in one of the overflow rooms. I’m trying to learn another three languages – I have six so far, but if you want to do well here, I think a dozen is the best bet.

 

OCEANIA

How many languages can you say ‘goodbye’ in?

 

NICK

That’s easy. Probably even two dozen-

 

But OCEANIA is gone.

NICK shrugs, fetches more paper.

 

[iii]

 

NICK is still adding paper.

OCEANIA flips her sign: ‘Kyoto, 1997.’

NICK sees OCEANIA, tries to avoid her.

 

OCEANIA

what’s wrong?

 

NICK

It’s not going to pass.

Not in the States.

It’s all…

 

NICK throws a ream of paper into the air, exits.

 

[iv]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Bonn, 1999.’

NICK takes out the remaining trees, continues to bring in paper.

 

OCEANIA

I am running out of words

as they lap around me

how many times can I say

that islands will disappear

that the ocean will sting in its bitterness

that my scales will peel

my lungs burst

while people chase a millennium bug

not looking at the end

that eyes them from the other side.

 

NICK exits the greenhouse, looks in from the outside.

 

[v]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Montreal, 2005.’

NICK sits by the side of the greenhouse, looking in.

 

NICK

my little brother’s here now

Zac

he took it hard

I think

me leaving the way I did

even

if I think he could see the sense of it

death by Kyoto Protocol

or lack thereof

is a tough thing to take.

so

here he is

stretching away from my shadow

he won’t let go of hope

clinging to it with his teeth

he is

the stubborn fucker.

 

[vi]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Copenhagen, 2009.

OCEANIA moves around the greenhouse, protesting.

NICK sits outside the greenhouse.

 

OCEANIA

two degrees is suicide.

that can’t be the only thing we agree to here.

the obliteration of everything around me.

 

NICK

Hopenhagen!

I thought he’d do something

my little bro

Obama

anybody

but every sliver of possibility we have

we waste.

 

OCEANIA

two degrees is suicide

we have not agreed to anything

in the spaces on the edges of the margin

we fight.

 

[vii.]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Lima, 2014.’

 

OCEANIA starts to swim in all the paper with various agreements written on it.

OCEANIA throws the paper in the air, splashes around vigorously.

NICK watches from outside.

 

[viii.]

 

OCEANIA holds up a sign: ‘Paris, 2015.’

 

NICK sits down by the side of the greenhouse, looking in.

OCEANIA starts to re-arrange all the bits of paper, until it spells out a large ‘1.5.’

As she does this, OCEANIA chants:

 

OCEANIA

One point five to survive

we are not drowning

we are fighting

One point five to survive

we are not stuck in brackets

we are fighting back from the edges of the page

One point five to survive

One point five to survive…

 

 

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PLAY #339: JET SET (NOV 29)

Washington D.C., 2009.

Georgetown University, a pond.

JAMES (late 20s; Chinese; male) sits on a bench, in a suit.

 

ISAIAH (20s; African-American; male) enters in a tattered military uniform and sits beside JAMES.

 

JAMES

Isaiah!

 

ISAIAH

You didn’t think I’d make the reunion?

 

JAMES

This is…

 

ISAIAH

I was always dead set on being here. Though I didn’t realize how dead set I’d be. You were the one who wasn’t sure if you’d be bothered traveling from China for some half-assed five-year thing where nobody’s changed enough to like them yet.

 

JAMES

Yeah. Guess you beat me on the distance.

 

ISAIAH

Sure did.

 

JAMES

I live here now, actually.

 

ISAIAH

This bench? I had you pegged for bigger things.

 

JAMES

D.C.

 

ISAIAH

Bet your Dad’s not too happy about that.

 

JAMES

Among other things.

 

ISAIAH

You told him?

 

JAMES

Yeah.

 

ISAIAH

Whoa! I wish I could drink to toast something.

 

JAMES

Me too.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

You think they could have stumped up for a statue? All they got is some plaque for me shared with some other sap who was stupid enough to sign up. Not even a scholarship boy. He didn’t get the memo that rich folk aren’t supposed to die in this war.

 

JAMES

You were mentioned. Part of a speech.

 

ISAIAH

Who knew that all I had to was get blown up to make a name for myself around here? Still, at least I got myself a plaque. That’s more than Nick got.

 

JAMES

I guess suicide is not so marketable.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

Who all else is here?

 

JAMES

Not many people I actually want to talk to.

 

ISAIAH

Don’t tell me that all those power-interns are actually running the city now?

 

JAMES

Everything we feared has come to pass.

 

ISAIAH

The jet set have taken over.

 

JAMES

Just about.

 

ISAIAH

Well I got enough miles for all of us. First class ride back here, too: all class for corpses.

 

JAMES

Yeah.

 

ISAIAH

Yaya make it?

 

JAMES

She’s off working at some farm.

 

ISAIAH

Definitely not speech-material. Go mad into debt so that you can grow your own lettuce. However, the scholarship boy who could get himself blown up, that is a story worth spinning!

(beat.)

Any of the gay crew here?

 

JAMES

Not any you’d want to sleep with.

 

ISAIAH

Just as well. Not sure old Brandon would really be up for ghost kink.

 

JAMES

He’s working at the Capitol now, who knows what kink he gets into.

 

ISAIAH

You know where his office is at?

 

JAMES

You’re going to perv on him?

 

ISAIAH

Ghost’s got to have some fun. You seeing somebody?

 

JAMES

Yeah. Actually. An environmental activist.

 

ISAIAH

Your Dad must be really pissed.

 

JAMES

Yeah. He’s a drag queen too.

 

ISAIAH

From coal magnate to screaming queen?

 

JAMES

Josh! Delicious Drag-On.

 

ISAIAH

Sweet. Nice for you to have somebody you’re on the same page with.

 

JAMES

We still find things to fight about.

 

ISAIAH

Not like us though.

 

JAMES

No.

 

ISAIAH

He’s here?

 

JAMES

Not really his scene.

 

ISAIAH

Not ours either.

 

JAMES

No.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

You were right.

 

JAMES

That’s no comfort.

 

ISAIAH

The war was bullshit.

 

JAMES

You remember the protests here? The pro-war group outnumbered us. You weren’t the only one here in support of the war.

 

ISAIAH

Only one here stupid enough to die for it. Or, one of two, not even unique in that.

(beat.)

You were right. Whole war was a dirty scramble for what’s beneath. Something we have no business in getting involved in.

(beat.)

They’re lucky I died. I’d be here too otherwise, setting fire to the plaque or the flag or the endowment or whatever I could ignite. Nothing I believe in now.

 

Pause.

 

JAMES

There’s always friendship. Or hope. Or revenge.

 

ISAIAH

Something.

 

JAMES

Streets are crammed with ghosts. That’s what I like to think in protests: streets are full of spirits on our side.

 

ISAIAH

People don’t believe in ghosts.

 

JAMES

Don’t believe in dragons either. But that’s no good to you when you’re faced with a mouth that’s aflame, is it?

 

ISAIAH

Guess not.

 

Pause.

 

ISAIAH

You should go. Mingle with the jet set.

 

JAMES

I’m happy enough here.

 

ISAIAH

On your own by this dumb pond?

 

JAMES

I always was a freak, right?

 

ISAIAH

Yeah.

 

They sit by the pond for some time before ISAIAH walks off, leaving JAMES on the bench, nothing to jet set off to.

PLAY #337: IGNITE (NOV 27)

Fallujah, 2004.

ISAIAH (20s; African-American; male) lies on the ground – an American soldier, he is covered in dust & wounded.

HELEN (late teens; African-American; female) enters wrapped in a huge, tattered American flag, which seems to have come from the 19th century.

 

ISAIAH

What’s happening?

 

HELEN

Try not to talk too much: it’ll be easier that way.

 

ISAIAH

Who are you?

 

HELEN

Name’s Helen.

 

ISAIAH

Are you an angel?

 

HELEN

Oh, I’ve had far too much fun for that.

 

ISAIAH

A dream, tell me you’re a dream.

 

HELEN

Plenty of folks have called me that. I’m not one to turn down a compliment.

 

ISAIAH

Tell me I’m not dying.

 

HELEN

I’ve been known to lie – some people say that’s all I am – but myself, I believe in brutal honesty. There’s a tenderness to brutality once you’re clear about it, don’t you think?

 

ISAIAH

I am dying.

 

HELEN

It’s not so bad. Try not to talk or think too much: it’ll make it easier.

 

ISAIAH

Fuck!

 

HELEN

Or if you are going to talk, come up with some better last words. You could try ‘Helen.’ Focus on me and you’ll be fine.

 

ISAIAH

Who are you?

 

HELEN

I’ve told you: Helen. You can call me something else if you want. The name of a sweetheart. Or a sweet guy, I’m not fussed. Wrap whatever noun you want around me: Jamie. Billy. Freedom. Revenge.

 

ISAIAH

James was right. I should never have come here.

 

HELEN

Thinking is especially ill-advised.

 

ISAIAH

A phony war for a phony President. I should never have got involved in all of this.

 

HELEN

Focus on me: you’ll feel better.

 

ISAIAH

Whole war’s just another fucked up way to kill brothers.

 

HELEN

I’m the thing that makes all this horribleness acceptable. Look up at me and see that there is something worth fighting for, something worth dying for, and it’s something higher and elevated – that’s how I fancy myself now – not something down and dirty. Let your death be glorious and golden-

 

Sound of gunfire.

An explosion.

A geyser of oil erupts from the ground, drenching HELEN, the flag, and ISAIAH.

After the oil and gunfire has stopped, ISAIAH is dead.

HELEN shakes herself out, sits down beside ISAIAH.

 

 

PLAY #335: HOW TO (UN)MAKE AN AMERICAN FLAG (NOV 25)

1813, Baltimore.

The Star-Spangled Banner lies across a table, half-assembled.

To the side of the stage: rubble.

 

GRACE (13; black; female) is sewing.

HELEN (14; black; female) is modeling different scraps of cloth.

 

GRACE

Would you stop fooling?

 

HELEN

Red and blue are awful together: I think gold would be my colour.

 

GRACE

I’m the one who’ll get in trouble if you rip something.

 

HELEN

Or maybe purple. I bet Cleopatra would have had her some fine purple cloth.

With gold stars. Why these ones need to be so pale, I don’t see. Not like when you look up at the sky, stars can have all sorts of colors.

 

GRACE

You’re an expert now, are you?

 

HELEN

When are you going to make something for me?

 

GRACE

I’ll make you some purple ribbon and then I’ll use it to keep your mouth shut.

 

HELEN

Grace, where are your manners? You’re supposed to be the one learning skills. A free young woman.

 

GRACE

Indentured young woman.

 

HELEN

Still, you’re the one going places. It’s up to you to keep up decorum.

 

GRACE

Such as turning a flag into a dress?

 

HELEN

I’m helping.

 

GRACE

You haven’t done a scrap of work.

 

HELEN

Only because you tease me if I do help.

 

GRACE

Your stitches would be fine if you concentrated on what you were doing and not how you look doing it.

 

HELEN

Why should I care about fashioning this silly old flag though? I’m just the anonymous slave girl that nobody will remember: when this flag gets draped across history, there’ll be nobody there to record my name.

 

GRACE

Should I write it in the corners?

 

HELEN

I’d rather you included my picture: such a face should not be lost to history.

 

GRACE

I’ll draw it across every star, so.

 

HELEN

Mind you do. It would be better to have somebody beautiful smiling from a flag, no. That’s why they have all those statues of women isn’t it? Somebody beautiful to fight for. I do think it would be an improvement to the flag.

 

HELEN puts a piece of the flag over her face, trying it out.

GRACE puts down the piece of flag she is working on, walks over to HELEN.

 

GRACE

It has the advantage that you can no longer babble on.

 

HELEN

You are dreadfully unkind to me. Worse than all those horrid nieces who come here to help.

 

GRACE

At least they are unkind to you. They pretend not to see me.

 

HELEN

Well, of course nobody could pretend that I am invisible.

 

GRACE

No.

 

Pause.

HELEN and GRACE stare at each other.

 

HELEN

Look how hard your hands are worn.

 

GRACE

It’s fine.

 

HELEN

And your eyes – you’ll go blind working like this.

 

GRACE

I thought you did so much more work that I did around here.

 

HELEN

Well, I do. But I’m strong.

 

GRACE

Yes.

 

HELEN

And my hands are already worn away to nothing.

 

GRACE

No.

 

HELEN

Yes. See.

 

GRACE holds HELEN’s hands.

 

GRACE

They’re…lovely.

 

HELEN

Horrid. That’s what that niece would call them – I can never remember which is which. And it is of no matter – my forehead remains perfection.

 

GRACE

Yes.

 

Pause.

HELEN breaks away and walks to the rubble, looking out at a window.

 

HELEN

I do wish this flag was finished.

 

GRACE

It’s nearly done. Ready for the Battle.

 

HELEN

She gets in such a mood about it.

 

GRACE

I know.

 

HELEN

And what is the use of it anyway? Wouldn’t take much for a cannon to knock off one of those stars.

 

GRACE

They’ll stitch it up anew, so.

 

HELEN

All lies, too. Stars are not what they’re fighting over – there’s nothing pretty about this. Only ugly things pulled from the ground – who can sell what where – that is what people battle over, only it is a finer thing to imagine that one is fighting for a star or a woman.

(beat.)

The stars must have their revenges on us. We treat them as though we own them: squashing them down to size, slotting them onto a piece of a cloth, stripping away all of their color and sparkle. They’ll burn us, one day, show us humans that all the time we’re squabbling over who owns what or who owns where, they can’t be captured or controlled.

 

GRACE

I’ll steal one for you. When this is done. You can decorate it as you wish.

 

HELEN

Grace…

 

GRACE

Nobody’ll miss one of them. Not when there’s the war running around us all. As you say, some old cannon might as easy blast through the thing.

 

HELEN

It’ll be a new country.

 

HELEN

The Republic of Helen?

 

GRACE

No ownership or squabbling.

 

HELEN

No more needles.

 

GRACE

No more carrying.

 

HELEN

No more wrinkles.

 

GRACE

Only sparkling.

(beat.)

And holding.

 

HELEN

I’d like to go there.

 

GRACE

Me too.

 

HELEN and GRACE look at each other across the flag.

The sound of something from outside – gunfire or fireworks, it is unclear which.

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLAY #333: GRACE (NOV 22)

Florida, 2012.

FAITH (60s; African-American; female) sits sewing at a table, a faded white piece of cloth in front of her.

GRACE (13; African-American; female) enters, dressed as if she just walked in from 1813, which, in some ways, she did.

 

FAITH

You came.

 

GRACE

You called.

 

FAITH

You’re just as I imagined you.

 

GRACE

Fancy that.

 

FAITH

I read all about you when I was small.

 

GRACE

All about me?

 

FAITH

Well, a little about you. Your name at least. There’s a bit about you in the museum in D.C. where they have the Star Spangled Banner.

 

GRACE

A bit?

 

FAITH

Your name. Grace Wisher. You made an impression upon me.

 

GRACE

The little slave girl who could?

 

FAITH

That’s how I imagined you. Somebody not afraid to speak up. Within limits.

 

GRACE

The girl who bit her lip and rolled her eyes?

 

FAITH

And made history when nobody was looking at her.

 

GRACE

Nobody drew her picture that’s for sure.

 

FAITH

True.

 

GRACE

Nor kept her papers.

 

FAITH

No.

 

GRACE

Just a collection of letters: might as well be as if she never sat here.

 

FAITH

No. Strong hands. I knew with all that sewing, you must have good hands.

 

GRACE

Fine hands.

 

FAITH

Yes. Skilled hands. Things of beauty.

 

GRACE sits and starts to sew beside FAITH.

 

GRACE

You sew?

 

FAITH

Since I was small.

 

GRACE

I can see: written in your hands.

 

FAITH

Wrinkles upon wrinkles, who’d want to be reading them?

 

GRACE

Can tell a lot by reading between lines, my Mama used to say.

 

FAITH

Wise woman.

 

GRACE

That’s what she liked to think: that wisdom was like wrinkles, got to the point, where you couldn’t count how much you had.

 

FAITH

Ha! I should be getting there so.

 

They sew.

 

FAITH

You have a lovely way about your sewing.

 

GRACE

Should hope so: been scolded enough.

 

FAITH

My children can barely sew a button between them.

 

GRACE

I’ll hold them in my prayers.

 

FAITH

You had children?

 

GRACE

Had to.

 

FAITH

You would have changed your name too. No longer Wisher.

 

GRACE

You’re wanting to find some connection between us?

 

FAITH

It isn’t impossible.

 

GRACE

‘Cause all black people are related?

 

FAITH

‘Cause what you made shouldn’t be lost.

GRACE

Cause you want to be descended from somebody important.

 

FAITH

Think you’re something important?

 

GRACE

If not Cleopatra, me?

 

FAITH

I was asking questions is all. No crime there.

 

GRACE

True.

 

They sew.

 

FAITH

You kept it.

 

GRACE

Beyond questions now?

 

FAITH

I knew when I saw the missing star at the museum: it was you.

 

GRACE

You got the facts clear in your head, I’ll allow you that.

 

 

FAITH

You kept it. All those years. A memento. Something that was just for you. That claimed that new country for you, said you couldn’t be bought and sold, clutched hope to your heart.

 

GRACE

A fine story you have.

 

FAITH

And you would have given it to your children, and they to theirs, and it passed on, between generations, between hardship: a light.

 

GRACE

You’re wanting to say that some dusty piece of cloth in your garage came from the Star Spangled Banner?

 

FAITH

No. I don’t have a garage. Don’t have anything that’s not from Rite Aid and K-Mart. Everything else was washed away in Katrina.

 

GRACE

Don’t need to tell me all your woes: I can read it in your wrinkles.

(beat.)

I’m sorry for your loss.

 

FAITH

Things. What are things when my legs are still going? That’s what I said to myself when we got out, off the roof, out of the Dome, when we survived what I thought was the worst. Things were nothing to be mourned, I thought. And I was right. Still though, it’s a surprise to know how much bricks and jugs and whatnots can mean.

 

GRACE

I know.

 

FAITH

Don’t take this from me.

 

GRACE

Not my business to take anything.

 

FAITH

I need it for my kids. Something to pass on that’s bigger than all of this. Something that can endure.

 

GRACE

Your piece of cloth: you can cut it anyway you please.

 

FAITH and GRACE continue to sew together, making or unmaking what may or may not be a star, a light of unknown provenance illuminating the table, their sewing, the things passing between them.

PLAY #331: FLAGS ARE FANTASIES THAT BURN LIKE FIREWORKS (NOV 20)

New Orleans, 2015.

An abandoned house: garden full of weeds.

FAITH (60s; black; female) sits sewing in the garden.

EBONY (late 20s; black; female) enters, holding a box.

 

EBONY

Mama? Mama, are you here?

 

FAITH

I’m here, baby.

 

EBONY

I thought you’d be here.

 

FAITH

You should be wearing a coat.

 

EBONY

Don’t be worrying about me.

 

FAITH

It’s December.

 

EBONY

I just got back from New York, so this is nowhere near cold.

 

FAITH

As you wish. That’s how you always do.

 

Pause.

 

EBONY

I was visiting Joshua.

 

FAITH

Oh.

 

EBONY

We had Thanksgiving together.

 

FAITH

That’s nice.

 

EBONY

He misses you too, you know.

 

FAITH

I’m sure.

 

Pause.

 

EBONY

Are you cold?

 

FAITH

It’s a fine December day.

 

EBONY

No, wherever…

 

FAITH

These aren’t the kinds of questions I can be answering.

 

EBONY

No.

 

Pause.

 

EBONY

I knew you’d come back here.

 

FAITH

Longest home I’ve ever had.

 

EBONY

I’ve been worried about coming back.

 

FAITH

No need to fear the place: no weeds going to bite you.

 

EBONY

No: I’m afraid that it won’t be like this. That it’ll be developed. Some clean shopping mall or some crumbling coffee shop and I’ll want to scream and say that’s where your porch was where you’d sit and sew and this was the garden where I did my first tumble and this was the roof that we all climbed up on and cried and prayed and held each other so tight that we might have squeezed out the life but I know that I’ll say none of these things and just nod my head and leave, so I can’t go back.

 

FAITH

Don’t be upsetting yourself: I hate to see you worked up.

 

EBONY

Sometimes I imagine that Josh will get his Delicious kit on and fly down here and scorch away all the change with her breath until everything is perfectly preserved, not a weed in sight, and we’re all together again.

 

FAITH

Too many comic books: I should never have let him read those comic books.

 

EBONY

She’s doing well: Delicious has lots of shows in the city. Some of them even have audiences! Joke.

 

FAITH

The two of you fooling around: I could never keep up. You’ll see one day, I’d think, when you both have young ones of your own running around your kitchens, but…

 

EBONY

You’re going to be like this, even now?

 

FAITH

Death doesn’t change a person’s character: hardens it, that’s all.

EBONY takes out a piece of white cloth from the box.

 

EBONY

There’s something I wanted to ask you about.

 

FAITH

You’ve never been shy of questions.

 

EBONY

You never told me about this.

 

FAITH

What would I be talking to you about tablecloths for?

 

EBONY

It’s shaped like a star.

 

FAITH

Not so useful, then.

 

EBONY

I never saw it in our house. Or in your place in Florida.

 

FAITH

What use would I be having for some dirty old piece of cloth that doesn’t even cover a table? That thing’d be better off in some trashcan.

 

EBONY

Or a museum.

 

Pause.

 

EBONY

Why didn’t you tell me?

 

FAITH

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

 

EBONY

You kept it with the family documents: they were even wrapped inside it.

 

FAITH

Well, good to use something to keep things safe: no point minding it.

 

EBONY

I’ve been doing more research.

 

FAITH

You were always one for questions: it’s no wonder you don’t have kiddies of your own when your nose is always poking into books or business that you shouldn’t be minding.

 

EBONY

It’s the fifteenth star. From the Star-Spangled Banner. The missing one.

 

FAITH

You’re in fantasy land now.

 

EBONY

It’s been missing as long as the flags been on display in the Smithsonian, longer. People say that it was cut out for some famous person. Or blown off in the Battle of Baltimore.

 

FAITH

And you’re saying that it’s been sitting under my bed for all these years?

 

EBONY

Grace Wisher was the indentured servant who helped sew the flag. You had information about her wrapped up in this cloth.

 

FAITH

This is your evidence?

 

EBONY

How did you get this star?

 

FAITH

Maybe I traveled back to the 18whatevers and snatched it: that’s about as much sense as you’re making.

 

EBONY

Why didn’t you tell me about it?

 

FAITH

Why would I be talking about that thing?

 

EBONY

Because it’s huge – enormous – as big as an actual star in the sky! Something from the most famous flag in the country in our house, cut out not for some President but by the forgotten slave girl that sewed it.

 

FAITH

You don’t know any of that, baby.

 

EBONY

Because you never told me.

 

FAITH

I’ll tell you this: it’s what your feet stand on that matters, not what’s up in the sky. No point clutching some star to your chest. Not when men with guns will shoot you off a bridge. Not when you’re crammed into a Superdome like your life doesn’t mean nothing. Not when everything you own can be swept away, you too, no space for you anymore in the city that your feet always stood on. What use is a star in times like that?

 

EBONY

How did it survive Katrina? Did you have it then?

 

FAITH

No point looking for miracles: it’s just a piece of old cloth is all.

 

EBONY

No! You’re just a figment-

 

FAITH

That’s what you’re calling me now?

 

EBONY

I can’t trust what you’re saying.

 

FAITH

Because I’m a ghost? A phantom? A, what was it, a figment? You say that like you have any idea what other people think even when blood runs through their veins.

 

EBONY

I know what I think. This is real.

 

FAITH

Think what you like: you always did as you wished. But I’m telling you, baby, there isn’t any star worth believing in.

 

EBONY

Then why hold onto it?

 

FAITH

Some things are too heavy to shed.

 

EBONY

I’m keeping it.

 

FAITH

As you wish, baby. As you wish.

 

FAITH continues to sew.

EBONY holds the star.

Sun starts to go down, FAITH, her sewing, the house and the garden all lost as the light leaves, until it’s just EBONY holding a star on an empty stage.

PLAY #330: VERY WELL, BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT MY IMMANENT DEATH? (NOV 19)

New York, 2013.

An apartment in Red Hook.

VIOLET (70s; African American; female) sits in her apartment in Red Hook, a blanket over her.

Snow visible through the window outside.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS enter.

A word about THE UNIQUORRRNS.

They are multiple.

They could be visible.

If they are visible, they are of many colors.

VIOLET certainly sees THE UNIQUORRRNS enter: in through the window, snow following, piling up on her carpet.

 

VIOLET

Ah. I’ve lost it. I thought the cold would kill me. Or mold. But no, my mind has finally gone. That’s how it will end.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

we cannot believe in

endings

we leave endings be

our belief lies in

the gaps

between

 

VIOLET

Talking too? Maybe I took too many of the tablets – the last few days have been blurry.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

we break

apart

the

lines

that carve timmmmmmme

+

s                         p                   a                 c                      e

 

VIOLET

Who are you?

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

we are the

left

out

out left

we are

the things kicked off the boat

the ones denied a pair

we are

the uniquorrrns.

we shit in the

gaps

between covenants.

 

VIOLET

Don’t tell me about covenants! Not supposed to happen again, that was the deal. Well, I don’t think Noah was much of a lawyer: look outside the window and it’s clear what’s coming.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

in the

gaps

between

contracts     (we)     and     (survive)         codes

 

VIOLET

Don’t talk to me about contracts, either! Somebody’s supposed to fix the mold in this apartment, but no, not a peep from anyone. And the back rent! You know they charged us for November? When NYCHA couldn’t get their act together to get the elevator working or heat running through the pipes. Might as well be invisible as black, here.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

danger lurks

in the

after

when

the water has drained

and the last camera has clicked

that is when neglect

curls

when wallpaper spots

when radiators die

when purses empty

when

the forgetting starts.

 

VIOLET

Could you talk some sense? Only visitors I’ve had for two days! I can’t get down to Ang, and she can’t get up here either, because the elevator’s gone in her building and they’ve no excuse for not fixing it now. You know I almost miss the storm? There was something nice about it: everybody’s doors open and candles in the corridors and all the time for stories in the world. And now I’m just some dot on that guy’s map.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

no

we are greater than

dots

we are not

drops

we are not

foot-notes

we are not

sinking

we are not

the forgot.

 

VIOLET

I can see why Noah might have left behind: I wouldn’t say you would have got much work done on that ship. Talking round and round in circles when there’s tiger shit to scoop up and ropes to be pulled. I don’t know what you’re doing here: are you going to close that window or let me freeze to death?

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

we are not

slipping silently

into

the great deep.

 

VIOLET

Very well, but what about me?

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

you are not

the forgot.

neglect will not

creeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

 

VIOLET

But what are you going to do?

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

we shit in the

gaps

between

hero + saved

we skewer hierarchies

among the

left                                                                                      out

we are all

swimmers.

 

VIOLET stands, closes the window.

 

VIOLET

So what are you doing here?

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS

you bring

hope.

 

VIOLET

All I know is that you bring me a headache! I’m going to have to tackle the stairs to tell Ang all about this.

 

THE UNIQUORRRNS leave, in different directions.

VIOLET looks around the room, unsure if they are gone or still there, or what either outcome would mean.

VIOLET walks slowly to the door, exits.