A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
A short play
By Adam Seidel
A bare stage. A man, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, stands in front of a microphone.
My fellow Americans. Tonight I would like to talk to you about the rumors which have been recently swirling around the media. These rumors concern an alleged comet, which according to television pundits, fringe scientists and conspiracy theorists alike, will strike the Western Hemisphere of our planet later this week resulting in as they put it, “complete and total destruction of the world as we know it.” (Beat.) I before you today, as your elected leader, to tell you that this is simply not true. (Pause.) There is no such comet and our world is certainly not in danger of extinction. My fellow Americans, in times such as these, we must think objectively and not fall victim to figments of the human imagination. Our ability to imagine is what makes us great. Imagination is the tool of progress, the beacon of hope in times of darkness. But imagination can also be our greatest foe, persuading us to give into fears predicated on the fictions of Hollywood. Tonight I ask that you refrain from giving into fear, but instead turn to sound logic. (Beat.) Again, I repeat, there is no comet and we are under no imminent… (Pause.) I’m sorry. I can’t do this.
After you get elected president, and you take the oath of office, one of the first things that happens is they bring you into the situation room at the White House, where you are met by a general from the army.
This general proceeds to tell you many things: locations of military black sites, nuclear launch codes, and most importantly he tells you the IVAN protocol, which simply put, is a list of things that the president should never under any circumstances tell the public, because if he did, civilization would instantly devolve into complete and total anarchy. Today I am going to break the IVAN protocol and tell you the truth. For the past nine years, the best scientists in the world have been monitoring a comet the size of Rhode Island, which we knew was on a collision course with Earth. Despite our best efforts, which have included numerous missions to this comet, both manned and unmanned, to alter it’s course by any means necessary, we have failed. And in two days time, this comet will hit the Atlantic Ocean approximately two-hundred miles off the coast of South Carolina.
For those of you who are still watching I imagine that you have many questions racing through your heads. Right now I will attempt to answer a few that I would ask if I were in your shoes. Question number one: “What can I do?” The answer is, not much. Question number two: “Am I going to die?” Very likely. Question number three: “When I die, how bad will it be?” I want you to imagine the worst most painful way to die, and then multiply it by ten. Question number four: “What is going to happen to you, the President of the United States?” Following this broadcast I will be swept off by my security detail to a an undisclosed location two miles below a mountain where I will spend the next twenty to thirty years waiting for radiation levels to reach safe levels and for all infected survivors to kill each other off.
Before I go, I want to tell you a few things. First and foremost, I feel tremendous guilt that I’m going to spend the next three decades in total comfort while all of you suffer and die. Believe it or not, I didn’t ask for this, it’s just how it is. But why me? I’m not that smart. I’m also not all that particularly interesting. Why not a teacher? Why not a janitor? Why not a stand up comedian? The future is going to be a serious place. It makes sense to me to have someone there who can provide a little levity. (Beat.) Secondly, I want you all to know that the mob did in fact kill President Kennedy. That’s part of the briefing from the army general in the situation room. It’s actually kind of interesting how they did it. There were three gunmen in different locations on the grassy knoll, one dressed as a construction worker, one as a cop and the third as a priest, and a woman standing on the sidewalk with an umbrella gave them all the signal… I guess the specifics don’t really matter. But I thought you should all know. (Beat.) Third, aliens do exist. They came here to learn how to farm things like corn and squash on their own planet. We helped them out and then they left. It’s really not that exciting.
There’s one final thing I want to say. And while I am technically saying it to all of you who are still watching, I am only speaking to one person, who I very much hope is still watching. His name is Fred Gerrard. And Fred, if you’re out there, I want to tell you that I’ve spent my whole adult life being dishonest. Some would say that is called being a politician. I’ve been dishonest about many things – campaign contributions, voter fraud, perjury.
But the lowest moment of my life came when I was dishonest about how I felt for you. What happened in the Harvard boat house on that cool September night wasn’t a drunken mistake. It was the greatest evening of my entire life. Embracing your body against mine- well, I won’t get into details during a broadcast to the entire world, but that night was the only time I’ve ever felt like I was really me. And then the next day when you came to see me and I was in my dorm room with Kippy, who is now my wife, and I told you to get out of my room and to go fuck yourself, I know how deeply it hurt you. It hurt me too. I was scared, Fred. I was scared to admit who I was. I’ve regretted that moment since it happened. (Beat.) Why do we allow the judgement of others to stop us from being who we are? From being happy? I hope you’re well, Fred, and I pledge to you that if in twenty to thirty years the world is still here, and we rebuild civilization, that we’re going to have one simple guiding principle. Honesty. Honesty about our fears. Honesty about the things which push us apart from one another. Honesty about why we are afraid to be who we really are. If I have any say in it, and I am the president so I probably will, the future will be a place of acceptance and love. No more judgement, no more hatred. If there is a future, Fred, you will be there. Because you will be in my heart. (Beat.) And Kippy, we’ll talk about all this on the plane. (Beat.) Okay. I guess that’s it. God Bless you all. And God Bless America.
Adam Seidel is a Chicago-based playwright. His play “American Outlaws” is set to world premiere this July at the Labute New Theatre Festival in St. Louis and “Other People’s Happiness” will receive it’s world premiere at Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN in 2017.