JUNEY, a college-aged female
GEORGIA, Juney’s mom, divorced, early fifties
CATHY, Georgia’s sister-in-law and neighbor, late forties
DAVIS, Cathy’s husband, late forties
Present day, afternoon.
A middle-class family in a suburban neighborhood in Kentucky. A front door opens from the wings stage left into a kitchen. Center stage, a kitchen table with four chairs. Stage left, a “kitchen island.” Upstage right, a modest Christmas tree with lights lit.
Note: The use of a working “kitchen island” with built-in stovetop can be implied by a cabinet, no electricity to this cabinet is necessary. A real, pre-cooked packaged spiral ham, such as Kentucky Legend, is needed as a prop.
Play begins when JUNEY and GEORGIA return home from Sunday church service.
JUNEY and GEORGIA are carrying plastic bags of groceries looped around their wrists into the kitchen. JUNEY holds a pamphlet that had been wedged inside the screen door.
based on “The Harbinger,”
a short story by O HENRY
© 2017 Roy Proctor
Inquiries regarding performance rights for “The Dollar Bill” should be addressed to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUBLIC DOMAIN: “The Harbinger,” which was included in O Henry’s 1908 short story collection, “The Voice of the City,” is in the public domain.
“Sorrow is concealed in gilded palaces, and there’s no escaping it.”
–The Double, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
PETE – in his late 20s, a guy who can blend into the background of any room. He’s made enough traumatic emotional messes to be guarded and measured, avoiding any big emotion.
MAYA – in her late 20s, a woman whose default setting is lively joy, but since her husband’s death she hasn’t had the energy, or even looked very hard, though she’s working on getting it back.
WENDY – in her late 20s, a sweet, thoughtful woman who’s too nervous to be completely supportive when her friend needs her.
DOCTOR – in his 60s, a warm and connected psychiatrist who still holds himself at a good, professional reserve (though this character is written as male here, the role could be played by any gender).
FRIEND (voice) – in his late 20s, affable but distant.
Melody, a teenage girl, age 13
NOTE: The Snap Game is a game where different colored jelly bracelets represent sexual favors. If a boy successfully breaks a jelly bracelet off a girl’s wrist, he gets a sexual coupon for the associated act. A black jelly bracelet signifies intercourse.
MELODY plays with a black bracelet on her wrist, struggles to explain its significance to her older cousin.
It’s just a bracelet. It’s like, cool, okay, and I like black. ‘Cause it’s goth. Not goth like I’m gonna kill myself, that would be totally sad, but it’s a color or a shade or whatever. It like, goes with everything or something, right? Whatever. I can wear a black bracelet if I want to.
NOTES FROM THE PLAYWRIGHT:
I once read that New Mexico had abolished the death penalty, but that the repeals do not apply retroactively, leaving inmates currently sentenced on death row. This play was inspired by my imagining how those inmates must feel, knowing they are the last unlucky few to be executed.
When the script feels fast, it should go fast. When the script feels slow, especially in the pauses and towards the end, it should be slow.
It should take its time.
MAGGIE- 40 something teacher.
Auditorium at a school.
A microphone on a stage.
MAGGIE, a proper woman in her forties dressed plainly comes up to the microphone. She looks around the room a moment to gauge the audience. Then she begins.
Hi. I wrote a statement and if it’s alright I’d like to read it before you all vote. A beat. She takes out a piece of paper, clears her throat and starts to read.
First off I’d like to thank the Saint Robert School parent teacher association for allowing me to speak. I would also like to thank you parents who have sacrificed your evening to participate in tonight’s vote.
I assume most of you know who I am by now, but for those who don’t, my name is Margaret Smith, or as my students refer to me, “Miss S”. For the past seven years I’ve taught the second grade here at Saint Roberts Elementary School and I’d like to take a moment to tell you about my methods as an educator. Beyond adhering to the curriculum requirements mandated by the state I strive to get my students to be mindful of the world around them. I want them not just to be successful inside the classroom, but outside of it as well. To do this I, on occasion, have my class read books which aim to teach fundamental life lessons. Last week we read such a book. “Skippy goes to the Vet.”
Jack 30-40, male, tall, overweight artist with tattoos
Miranda (Jack’s ex-wife) 30-40, female, dark haired, pretty and strong
Jack’s mother (played by same actress cast as Miranda)
Magda 25-30, female, beautiful and voluptuous, Polish
Irv (Magda’s husband) 50-60, male, grey haired business man
Lupe 25-50, female, housekeeper, Hispanic
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.
PRESIDENT starts to walk away. He stops. He looks at the crowd. He returns to the microphone.
Franny Ornstein, Secret Agent/Sous Chef
by Brian Leahy Doyle
Cast of Characters
FRANCES RACHEL ORNSTEIN (FRANNY): Mid-late 20s, pretty enough, yet slightly insecure. A sous chef.
JENKS HEDGEPATH: Mid-late 20s, Franny’s fiancé. Well-built, gym-sculpted physique on a slender frame, classic good looks with a good head of hair. Knows how to pronounce words like “coif.” Venture capitalist.
VERA: Mid-late 20s, Franny’s assistant, attractive, great sense of humor, buoyant, the sort of person overlooked in high school who everyone cannot get over how great she looks at a high school reunion.
CHUCK (or DAVE): Mid-late 20s, rugged lumberjack physique. White ethnic. Also knows how to pronounce “coif,” but wouldn’t be caught dead saying it. Has perpetual two days’ growth of beard. Should look good in a flannel shirt. Ponytail optional. Plumber or furniture restorer.
R.S.: Acerbic sense of humor. Small of physical stature but with commanding sense of self.
PHELPS: WASP with a basic no-nonsense integrity. Dry sense of humor.
Setting: A bedroom. Diffused morning light through window blinds shines upon a queen-sized bed that is adorned with attractive blankets, pillows, and a duvet cover. To the right of the bed on a nightstand is a digital alarm clock, its digits frozen in time.
(A viewing room at a funeral home. An open coffin, subdued lighting. Enter DAVID, age 44. He approaches coffin with trepidation. He comes to at ease by degrees. Finally………)
Well. Well well. Just look at you. All decked out in your astronaut’s garb. Dressed to kill, aren’t you? Was this how you planned it? To do your exit as a starman? It does become you, you know. Really, it does. So tell me, are you braced for tomorrow? Have you dialed in your humble mode? You know they’ll be sending you out as only the Air Force can. Full military honors. A flyover with the missing wingman. And they’ll retell how one time you flew so high, you clipped the chinwhiskers of Zeus himself. And they’ll retell how you throttled that demon out at mach seven. Yes yes, I know it’s all true, but remember, the order of the day is humility. They’ll want to see your aw shucks side. Not funny? Sorry. I’m trying to be clever. Guess I’m not very good at clever.