November 20, 2009

While Waiting in Line




Act I: (Modern Day)

All characters stand in line at the back of the stage, facing right-stage and spanning across so as to create the illusion of no beginning or end to the line. There is a sign hung above with an arrow pointing right, labeled "Gate 13" From left to right: Luis, Clark, Mandé, Bill, Lisa, Tom, and Marianne. Luis and Clark are both young college men. Luis is spectacled and contently reading a newspaper, while Clark is tapping his foot impatiently and constantly looking at his watch. Mandé is not young but not old and is talking loudly on her cell phone, annoying the old man next to her, Bill, who is wearing an old suit with a bowler hat. Marianne carries a purse and keeps rummaging around in it, seeing if she has everything. Throughout the play she tries to keep the unruly kids, Lisa and Tom, from causing too much mischief. Tom is chubby and is sucking on a lollipop, and Liza is a skinny, hiding half of ehr face behind thick, dark hair.

Mandé and Bill are center-stage and talk louder than the others, who make background noise as to give the illusion of a crowded place.

Mandé (with a southern drawl): Yes, Ma. Can you believe it, engaged to this bum who doesn't even spit out a dime, and I'm the one stuck picking his god damn children up. (pause) Uh-huh. Ma, I'm telling you, even though this guy's a prick, he's loaded! (pause) What? (more loudly) What?! Of course he's paying for the gas (pause, as if in agreement) and the hotel room (pause, nods her head) and the car.

Bill (mumbling to himself, obviously annoyed): That damn woman better shut her trap. Jesus, if Sara turned out that way I would have beat the shit out of her. Yappin' on about things no modest woman would do. For Christ's sake, how long will I have to listen to this racket?

Mandé (oblivious to Bill's discomfort): Yes, last night. With candles and everything. (loud boisterous laughter) No! No! Not here, not now. But I can say that it was a hell of a time. Later this week we're planning on going out to see a play and then dinner. (pause) Well I don't rightly know what kind of play it is, Ma. He picked it. I think it's called "Waiting in a Desert" or the like.

Bill: Back in the day we used to use our imaginations better. Now, everything's presented as it should be, directly, with no hidden agenda or meaning. These young folks wouldn't know a satire if it tied them up and displayed them as trinkets for entertainment and profit.

Mandé: Profit is the idea, Ma. That's why I'm with him, and he looks very handsome, don't you think so? (pause) Well the limp is unfortunate. But it doesn't keep him from (stops herself before saying anything else, and drops her voice to a loud whisper) He's even bigger than Brian.

Bill: When you're an old man, everything shrinks. You lose your hair, your back is bent, and the meat is str-r-r-ripped off your bones. My God, I hope Susan will cook up some Swiss Chicken tonight. (confused pause) Where is she anyway? (looks around vaguely) Damn daughter of mine, always getting lost.

A voice off-stage yells "Next!" and the line moves one position forward, Marianne vanishing off-stage to appear at the end of the line from left-stage. In this way the actors circle about constantly. Now Mandé and Clark are together in center-stage. Mandé forgets to take a step.

Clark (checking his watch again and stomping his foot): Fuck! Can this line go any slower? I have to be in New Guinea by tomorrow, and it's midday already. As an executive Boaring member, I have to be there for the eight o' clock meet and greet. Hey, hay woman (shakes Mandé's shoulder) take a step already.

Brittany (to Clark): At least you didn't have to wait yesterday--Nothing Ma, just talking to a boy complaining about the line--

Clark: Who says I wasn't waiting yesterday? I've been waiting for years! The stupid bureaucracy of this country astounds me, can it go any slower?

Brittany: For years, right? (uncertain) I don't remember seeing you at all.

Clark: I was here, I assure you. This very spot. Behind you and before him (points to Luis). I was here yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that.

Brittany (to phone): He says he's been here forever. (to Clark) Well I'm sure I was here first, or else I wouldn't be in front of you.

Clark (softly): Unless you cut.

Brittany: What was that?--hold on Ma--

Clark (loudly): Unless you cut in front of me!


Off-stage voice shouts "Next!" and the line moves forwards one step.

Luis (in a casual tone): Clark, why are you being so noisy?

Clark: This bitch over here is saying she's been waiting longer than us, when I believe she just cut us this morning, and--

Luis (turning a page in the newspaper and inspecting it in interest): What does it matter, really?

Clark (taken aback): What?

Luis (still reading): We have been waiting forever, and will continue to stand here no matter how many people are in front of us tomorrow or the next. Might as well enjoy the journey, not worry about the end. It's the way the Chinese see it, anyway.

Clark: You're always lazy, Luis. You don't want to go anywhere in life. It's all about the destination, or else what have you got to aim for?

Luis: Happiness. (flips a page)

Off-stage voice shouts, "Next!" and the line moves forwards another step.

Marianne (checking her purse): Okay, I have my cell phone, ID. What about Lisa's--oh here it is. Some crackers for Tom because he eats like a horse. Oh no, where did I put the birth certificates? (searches frantically)

Clark (reading out loud from an article): "The nervous mother worrying about her baby shows it even to the unconscious child at her breast. When the child is older she still shows it, until the little one knows as well as it knows when the sun is shining that "mother is worrying again." The worrying wife does not keep her worry to herself; she pours it out to, or upon, her husband. The worrying husband is just the same. If it is the wife that causes him to worry - or to think so - he pours out his worry in turbulent words, thus adding fuel to a fire already too hot for comfort."

The off-stage voice shouts "Next!" and the line moves forwards a step-and-a-half, and now Tom, Lisa, and Marianna are in the center.

1 comment:

  1. My play idea incorporating my own version of "Waiting for Godot," except with a Dante twist to it! I hope this turns out witty and entertaining!