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Warts and All: New Pages from Write Out Front NYC

August 8, 2014

Yesterday I spent two hours in the front window of the Drama Book Shop in NYC starting a new play as a part of TheatreSpeak’s Write Out Front NYC.  A “playwright happening” in which 125 playwrights will practice their craft in 2 hour shifts at the Drama Book Shop during the month of August.

WOF Photo 1

In preparation for this event, the previous week, I took suggestions on facebook and wound up with “bringing home a dog + a secret,” “two friends long lost friends catching up + tequila,” “thesis paper,” “checks,” and “writing about people watching me through the window.”  In addition to these suggestions, I also took along an envelope filled with artifacts that wound up in my parents yard after a tornado that happened 60 miles away from their house (some books scraps, a tattered photo, a bible verse).

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After percolating on these ideas for a few days, I spent a bit of the morning on the Highline (the fantastic above ground walkway running near 10th avenue in Chelsea) formulating a plan.

When I arrived at the Drama Book Shop and was welcomed by Micheline, the face and spirit behind Write Out Front 2014, I was ready to go.  So I sat down in the window, typed the title page, and dove in.  My goal:  to write the first scene of a new play, a new comedy.

Two hours and many pages later, I wrapped up my shift energized and inspired.  Below you can find what I wrote: warts and all.  I have not edited this work, other than the revisions and edits I did at the Drama Book Shop, but I did reformat it to save space.  Thanks to those who gave me the ideas, and the friends who dropped by to show support.  I will reflect further on this experience via blog, but for now here’s what I worked on:

 

WOF Photo 2

 

Patrón

A new play

By

Dave White

Written:  August 7, 2014 at Write Out Front, NYC

 

CHARACTERS:

DAHLIA (f)

SYDNEY (f)

LINCOLN (m)

 

PLACE:  first floor apartment in a city.

 

TIME:  Soon  or now

 

NOTE: a single punctuation mark indicated a look or gesture.

 

Scene 1

(Lights up.

First floor apartment,  Window looking out onto the street.  Curtains, but occasionally people pass by and look into the room.

The room is a shambles.

LINCOLN is propped up against a door.

There is incessant barking from the other side of the door.  SYDNEY stands in the middle of the room in a bathrobe, clearly surprised by the barking)

SYDNEY: Why in the hell did you bring that thing home?

LINCOLN: I saw it in the window and the price was right.

SYDNEY: The price was right?  You know that purchasing animals is…there are so many abandoned—

LINCOLN: Not this again.  You volunteer for the SPCA for one month two years ago and now you’re holier than—

(A particularly vicious bark from the dog)

LINCOLN: Holy crap!

SYDNEY: Holy crap is right.  Why did you bring that goddam animal into our home.  The boss said no animals and now you have a seething, snarling, ball of canine terror locked in your room.

LINCOLN: He’s a good boy.  He told me with his eyes.

SYDNEY: And he’s telling me something else with his bark.

(The dog quiets down)

LINCOLN: There.  See.  I told you…it a dog, but it also has a home—

SYDNEY: And also a secret…apparently.

LINCOLN: I read my horoscope today and it said—

SYDNEY: Horoscope?  Like signs and visions falling from the sky?

LINCOLN: Yes…and they said that today I would make a new friend.

SYDNEY: And you think that dog is your new friend.

LINCOLN: No one else wanted it.

SYDNEY: And that’s the qualification for a new friend.

LINCOLN: You’ve got a better idea?

SYDNEY: I don’t know why I ever suggested that you come a visit.

LINCOLN: I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

SYDNEY: And now you have a dog, which means that you have even fewer options.

LINCOLN: But I thought you’d like a dog.

SYDNEY: I do like dogs.  You might even say I’m a dog person, but I don’t want a dog now…I want a dog later…like when I’m ready to settle down.

LINCOLN: Maybe I am ready to settle down.

SYDNEY: You don’t even have a place to live.

LINCOLN: All the more reason to settle down.

(beat)

By the way…Dahlia called.

SYDNEY: Dahlia called?

LINCOLN: Yeah…she’s back in town.

SYDNEY: Back in town?  But we haven’t talked in…years.

LINCOLN: I know.  You missed her wedding.  That was not well received.

SYDNEY: You think it was any easier on me?

LINCOLN: You could have at least shown up.

SYDNEY: I was busy.

LINCOLN: You were not.  You were making excuses.

SYDNEY: I can’t stand up for something I don’t believe in.

LINCOLN: You didn’t believe in Dahlia?

SYDNEY: I couldn’t see their happiness.

LINCOLN: Did you need to?  Isn’t that making it about you?

SYDNEY: You’re a bastard.

LINCOLN: I’m sorry, but we all knew each other for so long…and then you…you went and ruined it my making it all about you.

SYDNEY: I’m trying to be better, I really am.

LINCOLN: I know.

SYDNEY: I let you live here.

LINCOLN: A selfless act if there ever was one.

(Dog snarls and growls through the door)

 SYDNEY: And now you’ve brought home a dog.

LINCOLN: I think it’s going to be a good match, besides, we’ve needed someone to complete our trio.

SYDNEY: Our trio?

LINCOLN: You, me, and …we’re always better when we have someone—

SYDNEY: That dog is not a someone—

LINCOLN: Something—to round us out…to balance us out.   Like Dahlia used to.

SYDNEY: And now she’s coming to visit.

LINCOLN: She’s back.  From Hong Kong.

SYDNEY: Hong Kong?

LINCOLN: You really don’t keep up with facebook.

(The dog begins to bark again.  The door shakes as the dog tries to twist the handle and open it)

LINCOLN: Damn dog.

SYDNEY: Is it trying to open the door?

LINCOLN: I think so.

SYDNEY: You think so.

LINCOLN:  (holding onto the handle)  It’s definitely trying to get out.

SYDNEY: I’ve never seen a dog open a door.

LINCOLN: Neither have I.

(LINCOLN steps back to let it happen.  SYDNEY watches)

SYDNEY: What are you doing?

LINCOLN: How often do we get to see something we’ve never seen before?

SYDNEY: Are you mad?

LINCOLN: No, but if we’ve never…maybe we should.  I need your help.

(Dog shakes the door again.  Quiet)

SYDNEY: So…when is DAHLIA getting into town?

LINCOLN: Today.

SYDNEY: Today?

LINCOLN: Yeah.  Soon.

SYDNEY: When did you find out?

LINCOLN: A few weeks ago.

SYDNEY: A few weeks?

LINCOLN: Okay.  A month.

SYDNEY: A month!  Why didn’t you—

LINCOLN: Because I figured you’d blow town again.

SYDNEY: Blow town?

LINCOLN: Your excuses are abundant.

(Dog barks)

LINCOLN: Shut up!

SYDNEY: You brought it home.

LINCOLN:  For you.

SYDNEY: For you.

LINCOLN: It’s self-preservation.  Pure and simple.

SYDNEY: Uh-huh.

LINCOLN: You love the dog.  You love me.  You keep the dog.  Maybe you’ll keep me.

SYDNEY: Keep you?  I don’t want to keep you.  You are not worth keeping.

LINCOLN: That hurts.

SYDNEY: It’s 8:45 in the morning.

LINCOLN: Yeah…and that hurts.

SYDNEY: Where did you even find a dog at this hour?

LINCOLN: The pet store opened early.

SYDNEY: The pet store?

LINCOLN: Guy on the corner.  He told me that he got the dog from a friend.

SYDNEY: And what kind of friends do you think the guy on the corner has?

LINCOLN: Sketchy friends.

SYDNEY: That’s right…sketchy friends.

LINCOLN: But they’re interesting.

SYDNEY: He’s a guy on the corner.  Of course he’s interesting…

LINCOLN: And he told me that this dog…this dog was a winner.

SYDNEY: You bought a dog fighting dog!

LINCOLN: I’m not going to fight him.  He needs a good home.  He needs love.

SYDNEY: You are loyalless and impossible.  You are the opposite of this dog.

LINCOLN: The opposite of dog.  Is that god?

SYDNEY: Why are you home?  Shouldn’t you be at the library?

LINCOLN: Yeah, but I can’t work there anymore.  The lights…they hum at a constant b-flat.  It’s driving me batty.  Why are you up?  Shouldn’t people be watching you sleep?

SYDNEY: That’s not funny.

LINCOLN: Last night I was out at this bar…and this woman in an Eskimo Joe’s shirt was dancing with her Marlboro…alone…on the dance floor…Some Ten Years After song is playing and she’s dancing…Red coal her only partner…her connection to reality.

And as I looked at her, I realized that behind her…Just behind her…At a table…Drinking a beer…Was a clown.

And not a clown like a person being silly…A clown with 8 colors of hair and white makeup and overalls and big shoes and too many handkerchiefs and a Budweiser.

And that’s when I lost myself…I wondered, what am I doing in this bar…with this clown?

(beat)

I brought you a present.

SYDNEY: Besides the dog?

LINCOLN: Oh…the dog.  Right.  Yes…besides the dog.

(LINCOLN produces a bottle of tequila)

SYDNEY: Tequila?  But it’s 8:45 in the—

LINCOLN: Dahlia is going to be here this morning.  This is for you two—

SYDNEY: So…let me put all this together:  You thought I needed a surprise.

LINCOLN: Yes.

SYDNEY: But you didn’t know how I’d respond to one surprise so you—

LINCOLN: Brought you two.

SYDNEY: I know you probably thought that you were being considerate, but–

LINCOLN: This morning I woke with a start, horrified at what I’d done…hours must have passed, but I couldn’t stop thinking about that clown–

SYDNEY: You were going to bring home a snarling dog,

A bottle of tequila,

And my old friend whom I haven’t talked to since, since she married that, that—

LINCOLN: You can really hold a grudge.

SYDNEY: What were you thinking?

LINCOLN: I was hoping that you would be distracted enough by the dog and the tequila, that perhaps you and Dahlia would forget about the past and start dealing with the present.

SYDNEY: Deal with the present?  You come in here before 9:00 in the morning talking about gin-soaked clowns.

LINCOLN: Beer-drenched clowns.

SYDNEY: And you want me to start dealing with the present.  How about you start dealing with reality?

LINCOLN: I start to move.  Then I stop.  We see each other at the same instant.

DHALIA: (from outside the window)  Hello!

SYDNEY and LINCOLN: She’s here!

SYDNEY: Crap!

(SYDNEY runs to out of the room)

LINCOLN: Crap!

(LINCOLN answers the front door)

LINCOLN: Hi.

DHALIA: Hi.  It’s been a—

LINCOLN: Long time.

DHALIA: Yeah.  I…uh—

LINCOLN: Tequila?

DHALIA: It’s barely 9 in the morning.

LINCOLN: Just trying to—

DHALIA: Trying to get me drunk?

LINCOLN: No…I just—

DHALIA: Is she here?

LINCOLN: Yeah…she’s—

(DAHLIA goes to the door)

LINCOLN: Not in there!

(The dog begins to go crazy)

DHALIA: What do you have in—

LINCOLN: I got a dog.

DHALIA: Sounds like a big dog.

LINCOLN: Yeah, and Syd’s not too happy about it.

DHALIA: When did you get it?

LINCOLN: This morning.

DHALIA: This morning?

LINCOLN: I went out to get the tequila, and the guy on the corner—

DHALIA: Nothing’s changed with you.

LINCOLN: That’s not true.  I’m working on my Master’s Degree.

DHALIA: By going to buy tequila at 8 o’clock in the morning?

LINCOLN: 7 o’clock.  And it was a surprise for Sydney.

DHALIA: I’m sure she loved it.

LINCOLN: You know her as well as ever.

DHALIA: I thought I heard her voice when I—

LINCOLN: Yeah, she had to—

DHALIA: You still making excuses for her?

(VOICE FROM STREET comes in the window)

VOICE FROM STREET:  Can you tell me where a bodega—

LINCOLN: Down at the corner—

VOICE FROM STREET:  Thanks!

DHALIA: The master of distraction has returned.

LINCOLN: Look, I just wanted us all to get along.  How was Hong Kong?

DHALIA: Amazing.

LINCOLN: The photos looked amazing.  What were you doing there?

DHALIA: You know, this and that.

LINCOLN: This and that?

DHALIA: Nothing nefarious.

LINCOLN: Did I say nefarious?

DHALIA: No, but you were—

LINCOLN: I was.

DHALIA: I’m not in college anymore.

LINCOLN: Hey, that’s not—

(SYDNEY enters from her room.  She is dressed: half-presentable)

SYDNEY: Hey.

DHALIA: Hey.  How are—

LINCOLN: Tequila?

DAHLIA & SYDNEY: Shut up!

LINCOLN: Ok.  Fine.

DHALIA: (simultaneous with SYDNEY )  So are you—

SYDNEY: (simultaneous with DAHLIA)  What have—

DHALIA: .

SYDNEY: .

LINCOLN: Anybody want—

DHALIA: !

SYDNEY: !

LINCOLN: I’m going to my room…for a minute.  Let you two catch up.

(LINCOLN touches the handle and the dog goes crazy)

LINCOLN: Easy.  Easy buddy.

(LINCOLN gets pulled into the room.  Dog is snarling)

LINCOLN: Easy buddy!

(LINCOLN exits)

DHALIA: Hi.

SYDNEY: Hi.

DHALIA: It’s been a long time.

SYDNEY: Yeah.  It sure has.

DHALIA: You been–

SYDNEY: You’ve been living in Hong Kong.

DHALIA: Yeah.

SYDNEY: That’s incredible.

DHALIA: It was.  And now I’m back.

SYDNEY: Back for what?

DHALIA: Back forever.  I think.

SYDNEY: But why?

DHALIA: Parents.  Stuff.  Unresolved stuff.  What’ve you been up to?

SYDNEY: Ya know.

DHALIA: Yeah.  You working?

SYDNEY: Yeah.

DHALIA: Where?

SYDNEY: Here.

DHALIA: Here?

SYDNEY: Yeah, my boss, he—

DHALIA: Are you okay?

SYDNEY: Yeah, my boss, he—

DHALIA: He what?

SYDNEY: Hong Kong must have been incredible.

DHALIA: Yeah.  It was.  What about your boss?

SYDNEY: I work from home.

DHALIA: That’s great!  I dream of working from home!

SYDNEY: Not like this.

DHALIA: What do you mean…

SYDNEY: Talking about it makes it weird.

DHALIA: Weird how?

SYDNEY: I haven’t left the house in three years.

DHALIA: You what?

SYDNEY: This is my job.  People watch me live.

DHALIA: And your boss…

SYDNEY: I met him once.  When he set up the cameras—

DHALIA: So I’m…

SYDNEY: Being broadcast live.

(Long pause.  DAHLIA looks around for cameras)

SYDNEY: What’s wrong?

DHALIA: Nothing…I…uh…didn’t know.

SYDNEY: You’ve been in Hong Kong.

DHALIA: Do people watch you?

SYDNEY: Lots of people.  Why?

DHALIA: I need to go.

SYDNEY: But you just got here!

(LINCOLN enters.  Scrambling out of the room)

LINCOLN: What’s happening?

DHALIA: I have to go.  You should have told me about—

LINCOLN: You can’t go…we’re just catching up…old times and all that…

SYDNEY: If she needs to go, she should go.

LINCOLN: No.  I’ve worked hard to make this happen, and now—

DHALIA: We may all be in trouble.

(Dog barks)

LINCOLN: If you leave…I’ll…I’ll kill the dog.

SYDNEY: You will not.

LINCOLN: I knew you’d change your mind.

VOICE OF THE BOSS:

DHALIA: We take her mighty ideas along quietly so that we may come right.

 

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