Monday, September 17, 2007

a scene from Open Minds

I was rereading a play I wrote about 4 years ago. there is some klunkly stuff and a bit of overwriting, but I have to say, I'm proud of it. Here's a scene: (MOTHER’s house. Ordinary. Comfortable, clean, but not expensive. A large cardboard box in one corner.) MOTHER Herbie, do you have to carry that big old rock around in your pocket? You’re ruining all your good pants. HERBIE I need it, Mama. It’s important. MOTHER It can’t be so important. I have to buy you new pants. It’s not even like you’re doing hard labor. You’re just walking around with a rock in your pocket so it wears holes in your clothes. HERBIE Doesn’t wear holes. MOTHER But it does, Herbie. If you have to carry the rock around. . . HERBIE It’s my special white rock. MOTHER If you have to carry it, couldn’t you switch pockets once in a while? HERBIE It goes in this pocket. MOTHER But couldn’t you just put it in your left front pocket for a change or maybe one of your back pockets? HERBIE Wouldn’t like that. Needs to be in this pocket. Otherwise it would hurt. It would hurt . . . otherwise. MOTHER There’s no use talking sense to you. HERBIE Mama, can I go to my box now? MOTHER Not yet. I want to talk to you for a minute. You know your father won’t be home for a while and you’re gonna have to be the man. I know that’s hard for you cause you’re not like your daddy. You’re big, sure, but you don’t have the head to go with it. But that’s not your fault. It’s the way God made you and but, son, you’re going to have to try to be a man around here. You hear me? What are you doing? HERBIE (hand in pocket.) Got to rub my stone. Make it smooth. Rub it good. MOTHER I know, honey. I need you to be strong while your daddy’s gone. You think you can do that? HERBIE Can I be strong in the box? MOTHER Well, sure, but not just yet. Sit down and lets us have a talk first. (HERBIE sits.) MOTHER Now Herbie, you listening? Listen now. I think you can’t help, you know, what you’re like, but people are going to get the wrong idea with that stone in your pocket and your hand always in there. People will think . . . well, I just don’t know how to say this to you. You can’t play with the rock when people come over. HERBIE People coming over? MOTHER Well there may be some people over here later and I need you to come out of your box and be on your best behavior. HERBIE Scary people. MOTHER No, not scary people, but I need for you to be good. Can you be good? HERBIE Uh huh. Sure, Mama. MOTHER Good. And it would be good if you didn’t play with your rock in your pocket because people might think, people might think you were playing with Mr. Winkie and we both know people don’t want to see other people play with Mr. Winkie when they’re just coming over for some milk and pie. You hear me? HERBIE Yeah, Mama. MOTHER Let’s practice now. Take you hand out of your pocket. (He does so slowly.) There you go. There you go. Good. HERBIE Am I done now? (Looks towards box.) MOTHER Not quite yet. Oh, you’re such a good boy. Stand up straight. Now aren’t you a smart looking boy? Who’s my soldier? HERBIE I am. MOTHER That’s right. You are, aren’t you? Now what are you going to do when people come to visit? HERBIE Not touch my winkie? MOTHER Right. What else? HERBIE Stand up straight? MOTHER Yes. What else? HERBIE Keep my hands out of my pocket? MOTHER Right. HERBIE Can I go to my box now? MOTHER Not yet, honey. I need you to be a strong little soldier. We have to go over a few more things now. HERBIE What things? MOTHER Well, we have to pretend a few things. HERBIE I like to pretend. MOTHER I know. What do you say we pretend Daddy’s a baker? HERBIE Daddy’s not a baker. MOTHER Today we’re pretending he is. From now on, everyday Daddy’s a baker. OK? HERBIE OK, Mama. MOTHER Now what does Daddy do? HERBIE He’s a baker. MOTHER What does he do at work? HERBIE He shoots people. MOTHER No, Daddy doesn’t shoot people. He bakes bread and pastry and cakes. HERBIE Mmm. Yummy. MOTHER Right. After the visitors go maybe we can get some cakes. If you’re good and keep your hand, where? HERBIE Away from Mr. Winkie? MOTHER Right. And out of your pocket and if you don’t say. . . if you tell them Daddy’s a baker. HERBIE OK, Mama. MOTHER What does your daddy do? HERBIE He’s a baker. MOTHER What does he do all day? HERBIE He bakes . . . bread . . . and . . . pizza. MOTHER Close enough. HERBIE Can I go in my box now? MOTHER Not yet. While the company’s here, I don’t want you to go in the box. Stay out here and don’t say anything unless someone asks you a question. HERBIE Like what? MOTHER Like what does your Daddy do? HERBIE He cooks things. MAMA Bakes things. HERBIE Yeah, Mama. Course he bakes things. And he writes letters and articles and walks on the streets with signs and sometimes when he has to . . . he doesn’t want to . . . but sometimes when he has to he shoots people, even in the head. MOTHER No, he doesn’t. It’ll be very bad if you say that while the people are here. How about if you just say he’s a baker? HERBIE He’s a baker. MOTHER What does he do? HERBIE Makes cookies and sometimes letter bombs. MOTHER No. Just cookies and cakes. HERBIE And pizza. MOTHER OK and pizza. Maybe we should pretend you’re mute. Could you be mute? HERBIE Mama? MOTHER Never mind. Your Daddy’s a baker. A baker and he doesn’t do anything wrong. HERBIE Doesn’t do anything wrong. MOTHER That’s right. HERBIE Mama? MOTHER All right. Go ahead. Get in your box. (HERBIE climbs in his refrigerator-sized cardboard box.) MOTHER Comfortable? HERBIE Yes, Mama. MOTHER All right. Good. HERBIE Mama? MOTHER Yes? HERBIE Where’s Daddy? MOTHER I don’t know, Herbie. Some men are going to come in today because no one knows where Daddy is and Daddy might be angry so the men are afraid. HERBIE Why? MOTHER Because Daddy’s mad at the men and the men don’t know what Daddy will do. HERBIE What will Daddy do? MOTHER I don’t know. But don’t worry about that. HERBIE Why? MOTHER Because good always wins and your Daddy is a good man. HERBIE He’s a good baker. MOTHER Yes he is. What does he bake? HERBIE Cookies. MOTHER What else? HERBIE Jelly beans. MOTHER No he doesn’t! You’re being silly. HERBIE (Laughing at his joke.) Jelly beans! (Blackout.)

7 comments:

mbh said...

Solid work on the scene... this the opening scene? How old is the child?

I thought your self-critique was spot on, although it's less over-written (I feel) than it repeats itself (especially when Mother keeps asking Herbie the same question, but I trust you know about them and you're either going to cut or you are doing it for a reason... hard to say without seeing the rest of the script...

But based on what I've seen... good work.

Michael

Adam said...

Thanks Michael. He is late teens to early 20s. This is not the first scene but it is their first scene. It's a wacky play in a lot of ways but there is also a lot about it I still like.

It's funny, but I had forgotten that i had named him Herbie. i have another very different character named Herbie in another play. I wonder why I keep using the same names over and over for different characters. I have like 3 different Bobbys.

JJW said...

....

so what happens next? i can't wait to find out.

Adam said...

well, i probably won't post any more. you can read the rest if you want though. It's your typical story about the Patriot Act taken to extremes.

JJW said...

oh yes. a typical patriot act story.

somehow, i doubt your capable of writing something "typical." i mean come on he's rubbing his winky, i mean stone.

Adam said...

isn't everyone's winky like a stone?

JJW said...

are you serious? it's supposed to be like a stone?

(shit.)