Set in Paradise, Kentucky, Another Paradise is a full-length memory play narrated by two women, Birdie Mae Tyler, and her daughter Neva, both on a journey of self-discovery. In this monologue, Neva, age 30, talks to her mother about being ashamed of her family. Neva is very elegant, and speaks with a genteel Southern accent.NEVA:
You see, Ma, it wasn't that I didn't love you. Daddy, too. But I wanted us to be ACCEPTABLE, Ma. And we weren't. I wanted us to be middle class. Educated. I wasn't ever going to be laughed at again. Did you know I was laughed at, Ma?
(Touches BIRDIE MAE's shoulder.) First for my poverty, then for my accent when I went to college. Oh, yes, we all had accents, Ma, but I sounded like poor country folk. Which we were. My words were different. And if I hadn't been so goddamned beautiful, Ma, and so smart, I never would have been accepted.
And still it wasn't easy. When I married Aaron, I said it made no difference that he was Jewish. But it did, Ma.
(BIRDIE MAE freezes, standing down center. While speaking, NEVA gives her shawl to her mother and places elegant combs in her hair, adjusting her to appear more elegant.) So I did what I had to do. I made you rich, elegant. I said Daddy was educated. I know you think he was, and I suppose compared to you he seemed so, but he wasn't really, Ma. Oh, the world is not an easy place; you have to fight to live in it. And it wasn't pure invention, just exaggeration... a little distortion here and there. But I always loved you.
I will never mention this again, Ma. I will tell our story the way it should have been, the way it is. I will set you free.
(NEVA's voice becomes shy and girlish.) There's something I've been wanting to tell you, Ma. A dream I keep having, and it's so strange. You see, in this dream I'm all alone on a summer's night, and there are little breezes blowing around me. I hear crickets and smell honeysuckle drifting in the moonlight. My hair is silky, and I feel it on my shoulders. And then...
(Laughs apologetically.) ...I realize I'm naked and standing on a barn roof. Well, there's no one around to see me, but I feel so lovely I wouldn't care anyway. I move around a little, but I'm very careful not to fall off. And then... I look up, and I see you, Ma, dancing in the clouds. You look so beautiful, Ma. I... I call: Ma! But you don't seem to hear me, so I reach up to you, and I... I force myself to rise up, up to where you're having such a good time, because I want to dance with you, but...
(Her voice becomes whining, tearfully despairing, as though she cannot comprehend this at all.) ...before I can get there, I always wake up. (She reaches toward BIRDIE MAE, who is dancing away in the clouds.)