Sunday, 8 February 2015

PROMEDY, by Wade Bradford.

 Beatrix, the 17-year old president of the student body. after her "ex-friend" deviously cancels the prom.

BEATRIX.   Young women need the Prom. It's a rite of passage as sacred as getting your driver's license or buying your first bra. There are only a few things in life that are guaranteed to be glorious and memorable and sparkling with gowns and cummerbunds. Prom is the quintessential teenage experience.

Think of the unlucky grown-ups and the elderly who lament the day they decided not to go to the Prom. It is a key ingredient to a happy and meaningful life. Prom is short for Promenade, a slow, gentle walk through a shady glen, and this beloved ceremony symbolizes our journey from the shadows of adolescence to the bright sunshine of the adult world with all its freedoms.

And it may be the only chance I'll ever have to dance with a boy. Maybe I'll never have someone get down on a knee and offer me a diamond ring. Maybe I'll never walk down the aisle with a smug look of bridal triumph. But it is my right, and the right of every plain, frumpy, book-wormy, soon-to-be librarian to have one night of Cinderella magic. Even if we have to go with our cousin, or our gay best friend from tap class, we will have a Prom. And you will help me.


 Stepha woman upset by something she heard her boyfriend has said about her appearance.

STEPH.   He hurt me, he really did, you know? I mean, I can take a lot, pretty much, anyway, but I'm, like, my face? That's jerk. It just is ... (Beat.) Not that I think I'm some beauty — an old-fashioned glamour gal or anything, I don't — but I'm not bad, ya know, not bad at all ... and even if I was, ugly, I'm saying, even if I was not cute or close to that, unattractive by world standards, don't I wanna be with someone who finds me beautiful? I think so. It's not like a math equation or anything, it is fairly simple — you can't be with a guy who finds you unpleasant to look at. Not that, but even on the fence ... How can I? Knowing that he's sitting there at dinner across from me but he's always reaching for something, the salt or whatever, or looking around the room, and why? 'Cause he doesn't wanna make eye contact. That would suck, completely suck if you were that woman and that was gonna be me — I'm saying once I knew how he felt about me, that was what I had to look forward to. Listen, it's weird, I know that, because I don't count looks as my top thing in a guy, not at all — look at Greg. He's got a good face, really, not knockout but very OK, yet I never used to even think it to myself, I mean, envision him in that way. Sometimes, a friend or, like, some cousin of mine visited a few months back and she whispered to me at a family thing we were at, a barbecue, "God, he's cute. He's so cute!" And I looked over to where she was pointing, expecting to see a boy from the neighborhood— and she's pointing at Greg. Just right there, my boyfriend, who's over at the grill and laughing and making burgers for all of us ... and he was, too. With the sun going down — you know how it shoots a ray out sometimes around something, like a halo, almost — it was doing that and he was bathed in this light for a second, in this splash of gold and creamy light, and I thought, "Yeah, he is. He really is a handsome man," but, see, that still isn't any big deal to me. Even though he is ... in his own way ... it's not the thing about him that first made me like him. Uh-uh.

Not saying this is full of profound insight or anything but any woman I know, like, my age or younger, she's gonna be super upset if she heard what I did. That her boyfriend thinks her face is "OK." You can't swallow that down and find a way to come up smiling or anything, you know what I'm saying? There is just no good way to take that! (Beat.) Why do we feel that way, though, I wonder? Is it maybe TV or magazines or something, our moms telling us that we're pretty no matter what we look like ... I'm not sure. I just know that women throw everything they've got into their physical being, and a main part of that — the main part — is the face. (Beat.) I go nuts if I still break out on my chin or anything, carry tweezers in my purse, and I'm not even, like, all crazy about it like a lot of my friends are ... and every one of them, the ones that I've called, at least, they all said to dump him. They did. Because if he's willing to say that, even to a friend, then you can bet he's probably thinking even more than you know about. Can you imagine what he's actually feeling about my legs or arms, anything ... OK, yes, I'm thinking about all the rest of it, too, of course I am! I can't even start to go there without wanting to throw up. I always felt like my face was one of my better parts and he's talking about me like I'm some old Buick out in the backyard that he keeps thinking about fixing but just can't get to it. (Laughs.) "Meant as a compliment," he says to me, like that should calm my nerves or something, so ... forget that. I mean, really. I'm realistic and I know me as a person — I don't have that much going for me, not really. Not all educated and smart or anything, and not gorgeous, not like some girls — but I like what I've got and I'm gonna protect that. I am. Yeah. (Beat.) I mean, wouldn't you?

MARCUS IS WALKING, by Joan Ackerman.

  Caitlin, a woman prone to panic attacks while driving.

CAITLYN.  Did you know that one out of eight women have panic attacks?  One out of eight.  That’s a lot of panic.  I know it’s all in my head but I can’t control it, it’s like the road freezes in a freeze frame, things stop moving as a video, and my mind jams into this . . . ozone . . . warp and it’s exhausting like I’m towing a car with my brain and I can’t breathe and I get disconnected from my body and I think I’ll pass out.  I never have passed out but I think I will.  If there’s a breakdown lane it doesn’t happen; if there isn’t one, it’s . . . god, it’s indescribably awful.  The weird thing, I’m more afraid of the fear than I am of actually getting into a car crash.

Maybe something in my brain knows something I don’t know; maybe it’s protecting me and being very sensible, very rational.  I mean, up until this century human beings didn’t go faster than, what, five miles an hour, unless they were flung up on an ox or a horse or something, pitched out a castle window.  For centuries, for millennia, humans have traveled very, very slowly.  When you think about it, going sixty miles an hour, going forty miles an hour is a profoundly unnatural thing to do.  Insanely dangerous.  Maybe some part of my brain realizes this and says what the heck are you doing out in the little tinny metal box that can crumple like gum foil in an instant, flying, hurtling through space alongside of hundreds of other people in little tinny metal boxes, many of whom are complete idiots,morons entrusted with these death machines.  It’s insane.  Really, people have panic attacks in very logical places – elevators, airplanes, cars – dangerous places.  Maybe it’s not panic, maybe it’s preservation of the species, common sense, it’s “Get your body out of here.  It’s a very, very stupid place for you to be.”


  Tess, struggling in a group therapy meeting to find a place where she belongs.

TESS.  Being adopted . . . is about feeling like you . . . I mean feeling like I don’t belong anywhere.  (Pause, embarrassed)  I sound like I’m on Sally Jesse Raphaelor something.  Let’s just forget it.  It’s not important anyway.  It’s ancient history.  It’s got nothing to do with anything, anyway.  It was bad enough not to look like them.  But I didn’t even think like them or . . .  (laughs) smell like them.  It’s crazy, but for the longest time, I actually tried to smell like my mother.  I’d sneak into her closet and wrap myself up in her old fisherman’s sweater just so her smell would rub off on me.  But it never worked.  (laughs)  It was this blend of Chanel Number Five, cigarettes, and wintergreen lifesavers.  It was sickening, really. (pause)  See, how nuts is that?  I wanted to walk through the world engulfed in a nauseating aroma just because it reminded me of my mother.

The thing is, I don’t think they ever really wanted me, which sounds stupid because when most people adopt a child it’s because they really do want one but can’t have their own.  I think my parents adopted me because it was the right thing to do.  Like they were proving to the world, to God, maybe, that they were good people.  But they never seemed to want me around.  I think they went on a cruise ship up the Nile three days after they brought me home.  (pause, a laugh)  It must have been three weeks.  Three days wouldn’t look good.  It’s like they traveled all the time.  When I was fourteen they sent me to Emma Willard – it’s a boarding school. And then they stayed home.  Now they keep asking why I don’t visit more often.  How messed up is that?

LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE by Nora and Delia Ephron.

 “The Bathrobe,” Rosie, on how her mother’s early death affected her fashion sense.


ROSIE.  The truth is, I have no fashion sense – never did.  For many years I blamed this on my mom’s death.  Then again, I blame pretty much everything on that, my weight, my addiction to television, my inability to spell.  In my fantasy world, had my mother lived, I would be extremely well-dressed. I would know what went with what, and everything I tried on would fit.  Mom and I would shop together at the places that moms and daughters go – a department store, an outlet mall, the flea market.  I would wear a lot of tasteful make-up too.  We would lunch someplace while shopping.  It would be at a cafĂ© where we would have salad and like it.  We’d laugh about how great our lives turned out and make plans for the things we were still going to do.  But that’s all a dream, because my mother did not live.  She died when she was 39 years old.  (Beat)  The fact is that no item of clothing has ever moved me in any way – except one.  After my mom died, my father took his five motherless children to Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I guess he thought we could best recover from the trauma of her death by living in a war zone.  The IRA was nowhere near as scary as what had just happened to our lives.  When we returned, we found her side of the closet empty.  All her clothes were gone.  (Beat)  A few years later my dad got remarried to a lovely woman.  She was a schoolteacher named Mary May.  After the wedding she moved in.  That first morning she was there, I was eating breakfast with a few of my siblings when my new stepmom walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.  She was wearing a long burgundy velour three-quarter sleeve zip bathrobe with a thick vertical white stripedown the center, surrounding the zipper.  No one said a word.  We all looked at each other then back at Mary as she happily made her way to the stove to put on the kettle.  My mother had had the same exact bathrobe – in blue.  Electric blue.  What are the chances of that really?  The unspoken rule in my house was that my mom’s name was never mentioned after her death.  But that morning, I knew that rule was about to be broken.  My siblings left the kitchen.  I was alone with Mary.  “Mary,” I said.  “My Mom had the same bathrobe in blue.”  “Oh,” she said.  And that robe disappeared. Gone.  Sent away to the same place my mother’s clothes went, I assume.  (Beat)   To this day that bathrobe is the only piece of clothing I can actually see in my mind.  I have no visuals of prom dresses or favorite sweater or shoes I couldn’t live without.  Clothes are just something I use for cover, leaving room for one electric blue memory.

LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE by Nora and Delia Ephron.

 “The Prom Dress.”  Stephanie,reflecting on two different prom experiences.

STEPHANIE.  My junior prom dress was powder blue and white.  It was ribbed, with tiny ribs and a white waistband, and a white band around the bottom kind of like Cinderella, with a big powder blue bow.  The problem was my date.  He rang the bell, and I opened the door, and there he was, in a powder blue tuxedo with a white frilly shirt and a powder blue bow tie.  We matched.  It was totally mortifying.  I didn’t rally like him, but I was sort of the last to be asked to the prom – not the very last but one of the last, so I didn’t really have a choice in the date or what he wore, and I had a really horrible time at the prom, and afterwards we went into a field and tipped cows.  (Beat)  My senior prom was completely different.  My prom dress was black and short, it was in that sort of Madonna 1980s style, her “Like a Virgin” phase, tight on top and then it went out in a black net pouf and black lace gloves.  My date was also short, but dark and handsome, and we ended up drinking champagne and making out in his car, and it was great.  But here’s the thing – I’ve never really known for sure which of those two people I am – the girl who almost doesn’t get asked to prom at all or the girl who gets to go with a really cute guy.  Every time I thought I knew which one I was, I turned out to be the other.  Which is one reason why I think I got married, to, like, end the confusion.

LOVE, LOSS AND WHAT I WORE by Nora and Delia Ephron.

 “The Shirt,” Pam, on losing her favorite shirt.

PAM.  Last summer I lost my favorite shirt.  Or to be more accurate, my favorite shirt vanished into thin air.  When I got home from being away for the summer and I unpacked my bags, the shirt simply never materialized.  I have replayed the sequence of events in my mind several times, and I have theories about what happened to it, but the fact remains that the shirt just ceased to be.  The really sad part was that this came at the end of a summer when that shirt gradually revealed itself to be the perfect shirt.  It was flattering (I always felt pretty in it), I liked the color and the cut, it went with all my favorite pants, it was casual and dressed down but not crappy and falling apart, it was comfortable.  It was one of those shirts you have to make yourself NOT wear, because it seems every day’s outfit would be improved by it.  And as silly as it may sound, I am generally happier when I have clothes like this in my life, when there’s something I know I can put on and feel good in.  Something to fall back on.  When I realized the shirt was gone, I couldn’t think of anything else I owned that served remotely the same function, and I felt cheated out of something truly rare and precious.

I realize that I sound like I am talking about death, or about lost love – and maybe I am.  It’s probably worth noting that my relationship with my boyfriend was ending just at the same time I lost the shirt.  But I could have sworn to you at the time that I was not transferring my feelings about the loss of my boyfriend onto the shirt, but was actually mourning the loss of the shirt itself.  The main lesson to be learned from this experience came from the purchase of eight different shirts, which each had some likeness to the lost shirt, whether it be in color, cut, material, casualness.  But none of them in any way replaced it, and I eventually had to resolve to be thankful for the time I had with the shirt and move on.  At least I know what I’m looking for.

WASTWATER By Simon Stephens

When I was twelve I drowned a dog. At the back of the house where my first foster parents lived. Just south-east of Stoke. They had a house with a huge field and a lake behind it. Well, I say a huge field. It was more like a very big unusually attractive recreational ground. And I say lake, it was more like, what? A pond? My first foster father had a brother called Clive who lived in Swansea. He was a fucking rat-hole. He used to come and visit us. He had this dog. I say dog. It was more of a bundle of shit than a dog. He used to threaten me with it. He fell asleep. I took the dog for a walk. Hit it over the back of its skull with a brick that my first foster father kept in the garage because one day he was hoping to build his own extension. Stunned it. It became comically weary. Wobbled about a bit. I dragged it by its lead to the pond. Dragged it in. Held its head under the water. It didn't react for a long time. And then it did. Its legs got all tense. It thrashed about.
I had a heck of a time explaining why my skirt was wet. I can tell you that for nothing. How long have you been going grey for?
It didn't just happen when Alain rang, did it? Or did it? I bet it did, didn't it?
I like your watch. Where did you get that from?

WASTWATER By Simon Stephens

He asked me if that was enough money and I said no. And he said, 'Well. There is a way, if you want, that I could help you make a bit more money.' I asked him how and he said, 'Well, I find you very attractive.' I was like, right, sonny Jim, where are we going with this one and he was like, 'Have you thought about doing any acting?' I said no, and he said, 'Well. I'd like to make a film with you, would you like that?' Well. I'm thinking, OK. I've never actually made a film before so that's quite exciting and I said, 'What kind of film is it?' And he looked at me. Like. He did a funny little cheeky grin and he said, 'It's a porno.' He asked me how I felt about that. I asked him what it would involve doing and he said, 'Well, what do you think?' And, you know me. You know what I'm like. So I decided to say OK. But I draw the line. There are some things I won't do. I said, 'I won't do anal and I won't do animals and I won't do children, is that OK?' And he said that yes, it was OK. And so we did, actually. You know? I really liked him and I still do. I still really like him. I don't see him anymore but if I saw him I wouldn’t have anything to say against him. I know that sounds a bit odd but I do think at heart he’s a good person. He was always very clean and he was always very concerned that I didn’t get, you know, properly hurt. We go to this hotel and it’s a hotel near Stansted Airport. In Essex. And there’s me and him and his friend Jason. And the thing about Jason is that they obviously cast him carefully because he is nice and he is handsome and I was sitting in this car on the way to the hotel thinking you know. I don’t mind, frankly. I don’t mind. With him. That’s OK. So we’re sat there. And his friend Michelle, who’s lovely. She’s a bit younger than I am. And a bit thick. But she’s nice. And he says, ‘So you have to pretend that you’ve come home and you’ve found Jason fucking Michelle and Michelle is your daughter and what happens is you really. You like it. Yes? And you decide to join in.’ Which is fine, isn’t it, because in real life Michelle isn’t actually my daughter, is she? We’re just, you know, pretending. And it’s a bit stupid because we have to cram the idea that this hotel room is my home into the story and it doesn’t completely work. But you know? I’d never had sex with a woman and that was. We got quite giggly. It did make me feel old. And Jason was very gentle and even though it got a bit blokey at times it was fine. It was clean. They paid me £500 every time I made a film. Which for me at the time was quite a lot of money. After a while you get a bit immune to it. You assimilate it, I think is the word.

SKYLIGHT By David Hare

‘Female'? That's a very odd choice of word.
You see I'm afraid I think this is typical. It's something that's happened . . . it's only happened of late. That people should need to ask why I'm helping these children. I'm helping them because they need to be helped.
Everyone makes merry, discussing motive. Of course she does this. She works in the East End. She only does it because she's unhappy. She does it because of a lack in herself. She doesn't have a man. If she had a man, she wouldn't need to do it. Do you think she's a dyke? She must be fucked up, she must be an Amazon, she must be a weirdo to choose to work where she does . . . Well I say, what the hell does it matter why I'm doing it? Why anyone goes out and helps? The reason is hardly of primary importance. If I didn't do it, it wouldn't get done.
I'm tired of these sophistries. I'm tired of these right-wing fuckers. They wouldn't lift a finger themselves. They work contentedly in offices and banks. Yet now they sit pontificating in parliament, in papers, impugning our motives, questioning our judgements. And why? Because they themselves need to feel better by putting down everyone whose work is so much harder than theirs. You only have to say the words 'social worker’ . . . 'probation officer' . . . 'counsellor' . . . for everyone in this country to sneer. Do you know what social workers do? Every day? They try and clear out society's drains. They clear out the rubbish. They do what no one else is doing, what no one else is willing to do. And for that, oh Christ, do we thank them? No, we take our own rotten consciences, wipe them all over the social worker's face, and say'if...’ FUCK! 'ifIdidthejob,thenofcourseifIdidit...ohno,excuseme,Iwouldn't·doitlikethat. . .’ Well I say: 'OK, then, fucking do it, journalist. Politician, talk to the addicts. Hold families together. Stop the kids from stealing in the streets. Deal with couples who beat each other up. You fucking try it, why not? Since you're so full of advice. Sure, come and join us. This work is one big casino. By all means. Anyone can play. But there's only one rule. You can't play for nothing. You have to buy some chips to sit at the table. And if you won't pay with your own time . . . with your own effort . . . then I’m sorry. Fuck off!’

LOVE by Patricia Cornelius

The moment I saw you, I reckon, that very second, that's when, I knew it then, I just knew it, I felt it, I knew the feeling straight away though I never felt it before, I knew it as if it was a second·skin, as if something had crawled up and bit me, like something had fallen off a building site and hit me, I knew, I loved you.
I saw the bitches smelling you, their eyes slits, tongues circling their lips, mouths filling with spit, and I growled at them, I really did, I growled, could've bared me teeth, probably did, because I was that sure that none of them were going to have you, you were all mine and I growled at them, to let them know, back off or I'll let rip. Their hackles rose and I had to square up to them a bit but they scampered off, tails between their legs, they did.
Fell for you then and there. You were wasted and looked like shit, in the clink for a six-month stint, your hair all lank, you had a split lip, you had amazing tits, you were like some bird, yeah a bird, with your wings tangled and I thought, Jesus Christ, you are for me and I'm for you, no doubt, no fucking doubt, I'm going to look after you, nobody but nobody is going to hurt you, not without having to contend with me first, nobody is going to lay a hand on you, never.
You must have felt it. You couldn't have not. It was hot. Wasn't it? I went up to you, knew I had to get to you fast before anyone else got to you but I couldn't run though I really wanted to but I couldn't run because you wouldn't have wanted me if I'd run, like someone desperate for you. I had to saunter up to you, sure like, and interested, but just so and I said to you . . . ‘you are the most beautiful woman in the world’.
And I had you.