Showmance. a short play about actors.

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Showmance

A ten minute play

by

Ron Campbell

SETTING:

An alcove in a theatre lobby in Berkeley, California

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Tracy…………….A director in his 40’s

Hank………………An actor in his 30’s

Lilly…………….An actress in her 30’s

Don………….A playwright in his 50’s

NOTE:

Quotation marks indicate when the characters are reading from the script.

(Tracy enters followed by Hank and Lilly. Hank is confident, good looking. Lilly is pretty, perhaps a little younger than Hank. Tracy is already speaking as the lights come up.)

TRACY

Okay let’s get started. They don’t give us much time on these things and I have to go check if they can play the music file I have for the ending. C’mon in, you guys. You got your scripts? Hank, Lilly, you know each other right?

Where’s my chairs? They said there’d be chairs.

LILLY

Actually I don’t actually-

TRACY

You don’t know Hank? I thought you two had worked together. That’s what she told me. That you two had worked together.

LILLY

Actually we haven’t actually. But I’ve seen him. I mean, I know his work.

HANK

(Playing it cool.)

Really? What have you seen me in?

LILLY

I saw you in the co-pro of the Nova Scotia Song Cycle you did with The Water Balloon Ensemble at Snore Space. I even went to the marathon.

HANK

You came to the marathon, did you? All thirty-seven hours?

LILLY

It was sensational. But I think I first saw you in the devised piece you did with Clenched Fist Theatre Collective.

HANK

I love devised theatre.

LILLY

I do too! It’s so …devised.

TRACY

Okay you two. Let’s look at this. The stage direction says you start out standing face to face so… let’s try you sitting back to back. That way there’s more mystery. More angst. More what the Germans call Finfuffgässenghümmer.

HANK

I get it. That way we’ve got somewhere to go. It isn’t all spelled out for the audience from the very beginning. God, I hate that.

TRACY

I know, right? I saw the Turgenev piece at the Borrealis last night. So spelled out. You knew from the set she was going to jump out the window. So obvious. Halfway through I wanted to jump out the window myself!

LILLY

Actually, I’m in that.

TRACY

(Without missing a beat:)

But the performances were phenomenal. What did you play? I don’t recognize you- which is a compliment. The highest compliment. See that’s the thing about directing- and I know Bill. I know his partner. We used to be friends with his ex partner. But you can’t over emphasize. I can’t over emphasize that enough. Everything in its place. That’s the directors’ art. That’s what we do. And the best directors know how to get out of the way. Just let the moments live. And help the actors. That’s key. Help the actors find their own way. Let it come from them. Organically. So where were we? Oh yes. You’re both sitting. In the chairs. Back to back.

(During the following Hank tries different ways of sitting in the chair.)

TRACY

Not like that. Not like that. Not like that. Not like that. Keep trying. I’ll know it when I see it. Not like that. Not like that. Not like that.

HANK

(Finally fed up:)

Well what do you want? I mean, Jeez!

TRACY

That! That’s it. Start with that. That frustration. That fire. You’ve got it! Now. Start the scene.

LILLY

Actually I don’t have-

TRACY

What is it darling? Why are you stopping? What don’t you have? You have everything you need. You’ve got your heart. You’ve got your senses. You’ve got your life experience to draw from. You’ve-

HANK

You’ve got really nice eyes.

LILLY

Really?

HANK

Yeah. Really nice.

TRACY

Okay guys. We only have a short time. We need to get some chemistry going between you two. I can’t believe she told me you two had worked together before and you haven’t. No prob! We’ll have to start from scratch. But there’s no time. And I have absolutely got to see if this music file works for the ending music. Let’s take it from the beginning. Don’t think, darling. Just go. Read the first line.

LILLY

Actually- I’ve been trying to tell you- I don’t have a script.

TRACY

You don’t have a script? Didn’t she send you a script?

LILLY

She did, she did. It’s just- I don’t have a printer.

TRACY

You don’t have a printer? Who doesn’t have a printer? You need a copy. How you gonna read the scene if you don’t have a copy.

HANK

I have a copy. I made two. One for me, one for you. Here you go.

(He hands her the pages.)

LILLY

Thanks.

(There is a look between Lilly and Hank. The hint of an attraction.)

TRACY

Okay. You’ve both got a script. We can finally start rehearsing. But look at the time. Let’s cut to the end. I want to hear if the music I want is going to work for the end. We’ll work backwards from there. Let’s see… Take it from “But I thought I was your only one.” Go.

LILLY

“But I thought I was your only one.”

HANK

“You are. You are. It’s just when we opened the shop in Point Reyes-”

TRACY

Wait. Let’s change that. Make it Pinole.

HANK

(Using a pencil to change the word in his script:)

Pinole?

TRACY

Yeah. Pinole. It’s stronger. More sexual. Pinole. But pronounce it pee hole.

HANK

(Trying it out:)

Pinole.

TRACY

Perfect. Take it from there.

HANK

“It’s just- when we opened the shop in Pinole they suggested I hire an assistant.”

LILLY

“What are you telling me?”

HANK

“It didn’t mean anything.”

LILLY

“What didn’t mean anything?”

HANK

“The whole thing. The meetings that went late into the night. The dinners. The racquetball games. The long walks by the beach. They didn’t mean anything.”

LILLY

Actually- I have a question. There’s no actual beach in Pinole. That’s why he had Point Reyes originally.

TRACY

What? Why are you stopping? Who had Point Reyes?

LILLY

The playwright.

TRACY

Darling. We have precious little time to rehearse this piece. Can we just get through to the ending so I can hear if my music is going to work? Last impressions darling. The most important. Last impressions. Remember that darling. Now where were we? Take it from “The dinners. The racquetball games. ” Go ahead.

HANK

“The dinners. The racquetball games. The long walks by the beach. They didn’t mean anything.”

LILLY

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this. Are you telling me you had an affair?”

HANK

“Not an affair. More of a dalliance.”

LILLY

“A dalliance? What, are you trying to make yourself feel better about it by changing it’s name? I loved you.”

HANK

“Don’t put it in the past tense. We can start over.”

LILLY

“We? There is no “we” anymore. You dallianced the “we” away.”

HANK

“Baby, don’t be like this.”

LILLY

“Like what?”

HANK

“The Wronged Woman.”

LILLY

“I am The Wronged Woman! And you did the wronging.”

HANK

“But I didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

LILLY

“Then why didn’t you keep your prick in your pants on the beach in Point Reyes?”

TRACY

Pinole.

LILLY

Pinole. “Why didn’t you keep your prick in your pants on the beach in Pinole?”

TRACY

Good!

HANK

“Because I wanted to know you were truly the one.”

LILLY

(Coming out of character, to Tracy:)

Now it says here that I slap him. Are we going to choreograph this? I haven’t done much stage combat actually.

TRACY

Choreograph? What’s to choreograph? Just slap him. It’s the end of the scene darling. It needs to end with a bang. Then we blackout and the audience hears the music cue I selected. Juxtaposition. Irony. I’m going for something very visceral here. Darling. Look, you’re very lovely but I need you to get out of your own way here. Tell you what: I’m going to go check on the music cue. You and Hank work out the slap. You can help her, right Hank? You cup your hand or something. Figure it out. I’ll be back.

(Tracy goes. Lilly and Hank look at each other. Hank takes her hand. Gently:)

HANK

Hey. He can be an asshole sometimes but he wins a lot of awards. Lilly. You’re doing great. And he’s right. You are lovely. Let’s just run the end and work the slap. It’ll be fine. You okay?

LILLY

Yeah. Yeah I’m fine. It’s just- I just went through this. With my ex boyfriend.

HANK

He cheated on you?

LILLY

Yeah. In Point Reyes.

HANK

Ouch.

LILLY

I’m working through it. Processing. But it’s still fresh. You know what I mean?

HANK

I do. I just broke up with mine in fact. In Pinole.

LILLY

You’re kidding. Wow. We’re quite a pair.

HANK

Send in the clowns.

(They share a smile.)

Okay. Let’s do this. How ’bout from “I didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t intend to hurt you”?

LILLY

Okay.

HANK

“But I didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

LILLY

“Then why didn’t you keep your prick in your pants on the beach in Pinole?”

HANK

“Because I wanted to know you were truly the one.”

(Lilly slaps Hank, but very lightly.)

LILLY

Oh my god. Are you okay? I don’t want to hurt you.

HANK

No worries. I’m fine. You can do it a lot harder. Just cup your hand. It’ll get a better sound. Like this.

(Hank takes her hand. Places it on his cheek. Holds it there. He places his hand on her cheek as well. Gently cupping her jawline.)

Right there.

LILLY

Right there?

HANK

Yeah. That’s perfect.

(They stand there. Close. Her hand on his cheek. His hand on hers. Don enters.)

DON

Oh. Excuse me. I didn’t know you were working. Sorry. Excuse me.

HANK

No worries. We’re just working out the ending. You must be the playwright. I’m Hank.

DON

Yes, I know who you are Hank. I saw you in The Clitoris Variations at Open Sphincter Theatre a couple years back. You were marvelous by the way.

HANK

Thank you so much. This is-

DON

Yes, we’ve met. Hello Lilly.

LILLY

Hello Don.

DON

(After an awkward beat:)

Well. I won’t keep you. Thanks for doing the reading Hank. It’s great to have someone of your calibre doing my words. Lilly.

(Don exits.)

HANK

That’s him isn’t it? Your ex. The playwright is your ex.

LILLY

Is it that obvious?

HANK

You could have told me.

LILLY

When? I didn’t want to interrupt the steady flow of compliments you’ve been getting all day. Besides, it’s over. Let’s just do the scene. Take it from “But I didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

HANK

“But I didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t intend to hurt you.”

LILLY

“Then why didn’t you keep your prick in your pants on the beach in Pinole?”

HANK

“Because I wanted to know you were truly the one.”

(Lilly quickly slaps him, a little harder this time.)

Better. Can I make a little suggestion? Could you just look at me first? Make eye contact. You’ve got great eyes, Lilly. Use them. Burn into me. Then let me have it.

LILLY

I just thought it was more of a knee jerk reaction actually. She hears those words and she just… reacts. No thinking. A triggered response. Sort of animal. Shock. It catches her off guard. Before she knows it she’s slapping him. Bang!

HANK

(With a chuckle:)

Oh Lilly. You remind me of myself when I was just starting out. Lots of passion but zero technique. Knee jerk reactions? Is that what they teach you at National Drama Academy these days? Just listen to Hank darling, you’ll be fine.

(Hank puts his arms around her. She accepts it. But we can see she’s starting to fume. Tracy enters.)

TRACY

Oh. I see you two are bonding. Good. That’s good. Chemistry. I knew if I left you two alone long enough you’d find it. That’s the directors art. Helping the actors find their chemistry, their equilibrium. On their own.

LILLY

Actually we were just-

TRACY

You don’t have to tell me, darling. I know all about Hank. I know how he works. You’re in the arms of brilliance, Lilly. Don’t forget that. Did you see his one man version of Our Town called My Town at The Swamp last year? A revelation. I’ll leave you two alone. Apparently our playwright is on some kind of crying jag in the cloakroom. Putting out fires. That’s the director’s art. I’ll be right back. Work your magic, Hank. Show her how it’s done.

(Tracy exits.)

LILLY

That’s him, isn’t it? Your ex. The director is your ex.

HANK

Is it that obvious?

LILLY

You could have told me.

HANK

Let’s just rehearse the scene, shall we?

LILLY

But you were so nice. You talked about my eyes. You printed up a script for me. You said I was lovely. You touched my cheek so softly. I thought…

HANK

But I didn’t mean it that way. I didn’t intend to hurt you.

LILLY

Then why didn’t you keep your prick in your pants on the beach in Pinole?

HANK

Because I wanted to know you were truly the one.

(Lilly just looks at him. Burns. Takes a huge wind up. Tracy enters. She swings. The lights go to black as we hear a huge CRACK! We hear Tracy triumphantly yell “PERFECT!” as The Doors’ “This Is The End” comes on full blast.)

 

End of Play.

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