THREE COMIC ONE-ACTS – Plays by Robert Patrick

1970's college production of "Un Bel Di," date and place unknown.
College production of “Un Bel Di,” date and place unknown.

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    UN BEL DI

by Robert Patrick

FOR CHARLES STANLEY
(In the dark three male voices sing: “Un,” “Bel!,” and “Di,” & la the NBC sound trademark.)
(Scene: the prow of a luxury liner. Cheers, horns, sailing noises. Three Men stand at the railing, waving farewell. They’re holding champagne glasses. Man One drinks his champagne, smiles. Man Two spills his down his front. Man Three throws his out at the audience. Blackout.)
(In the darkness, sounds of a shipwreck: fog-horns, crunching, sirens, bells, and a slow gur-gling down the drain. Then we hear a soprano singing the opening notes of “Un Bel Di,” from Madame Butterfly.)
(The lights come up on a raft, with three sides of railing completed, somewhere in the middle of the ocean. The three Men disport themselves variously. One, in nifty vest and little blue cot-ton boxer shorts, and still sporting his derby, is putting the finishing touches on a complex, burbling water purifier in one corner. Three, in sloppy, oversized T-shirt and voluminous white shorts with red kissrnarks al1 over them, is lan-guidly, as ’twere his habit, haranguing Two, who wears a one-piece, button-up-the-front B.V.D. special. One occasionally picks up a telescope and gives a quick skim of the horizon.)
THREE: You’re disgusting.
TWO: I know it.
THREE: You’re weak.
TWO: I’m aware of it.
THREE: You’re nothing.
TWO: I’m certain of it.
THREE: I don’t know why you live.
TWO: I’m used to it.
THREE: I don’t know why I let you live!
TWO (running to One): Help!
ONE: Did you see a ship?
THREE (mocking): Did you see a ship?
TWO: He threatened me.
ONE; Who? Oh, him. He didn’t mean it.
TWO: He did, he did.
ONE: Look, you’ve got to understand people like him. They don’t mean what they say.
TWO: He does.
ONE: Well, if you really feel that way, stand up to him. He’ll back down fast enough.
TWO: No, he won’t.
ONE: He doesn’t really want to do anything to you. He needs you to make him feel important.
THREE (to One): What are you saying to him?
ONE (to Two): Now pay no attention.
THREE: You’re talking about me, aren’t choo?
ONE: You see? Harmless.
TWO: No, we weren’t. So there!
THREE: Don’t try to get out of it. Scoot!
(Three knocks Two away and takes his place be-side One.)
ONE: Did you want something?
THREE: No, I don’t want something.
ONE: Then what do you want?
THREE: I don’t want anything from you.
ONE: Then I’ve got to fish, thank you. (He hangs fishing pole over the rail.)
THREE: I don’t want any fish from you.
TWO (from his corner): Don’t give him any.
ONE: It’s no trouble.
THREE: I could take all that fishing equipment and throw it away.
ONE: You could do that. Or you could start fishing for driftwood, so I can finish the rail around this thing.
THREE: Why should I?
TWO: So you’ll fall in!
ONE: So we won’t fall in.
THREE: Listen, you. I could push you off this thing.
(No response from One, who is checking the wind or something.0
THEE: I said, I could push you off this thing.
ONE: Oh, I’m terribly sorry; I thought you were talking to him.
THREE: No, I was talking to you.
(One continues to ignore Three, who goes on, growing more ecstatically involved in his vi-sion. Two huddles in a corner, pouting. One builds the fourth side of the raft.)
THREE: I said, I could push you off this thing. And you’d fall in the ocean and try to crawl back on. And I’d let you get halfway back on and then I’d shove you back in. And you’d clutch at the raft and I’d jump up and down on your fingers. And you’d try to swim after us and you’d fall behind and you’d see us slipping away and you’d feel terrified and you’d scream and I’d ignore you and you’d begin gasping and crying and losing your stroke and then you’d feel the cold thrill of a shark’s fin brush-ing against the sole of your feet. (He visualizes it all for an almost religious moment, then taps One and asks.-) Why shouldn’t I do that?
ONE (busily finishing rail, automatically) Be-cause you’d go crazy with loneliness and guilt.
THREE (after thinking this over for a long mo-ment): I don’t like you,
ONE: That’s all right, you’ve got him. (He in-dicates Two.)
TWO: I’m no good.
THREE (to One): What on earth are you doing?
ONE (fitting the action to the word): Just fin-ishing the rail.
TWO: No ship is going to pick us up.
THREE (shaking his fist at the ocean): They’d better!
TWO (sticking his tongue out at Three): They won’t!
ONE: Well, we’ve got a few things going for us even if they don’t. We’ve got the raft and the water purifier, and now we’ve got the rail.
THREE (looking at each of these as an affront): A big enough storm could wipe this dinky raft out!
(One ignores him and raises a signal flag made of a shirt.)
THREE: I said, a big enough storm could—
ONE: What do you want me to do with those remarks, grade them? (To Two, holding out rope.) Here, hold this while I measure out how much I need.
THREE (knocking Two away): I’ll do it!
TWO: He asked me to. THREE: You’d mess it up.
(During their spat, One goes ahead by himself, measures out the rope from another piece and secures the water purifier.)
TWO: No, I wouldn’t
THREE: You would.
(They are engaged in a tug of war.)
TWO: But he asked me to.
THREE: To mess it up?
TWO: To hold it.
THREE: Because he feels sorry for you.
TWO: No, he doesn’t,
THREE: Yes, he does.
TWO: No, he doesn’t
THREE: Yes, he does.
TWO: No, he doesn’t. He likes me.
THREE: What makes you think so?
TWO: He defends me against you.
THREE: Yeah, but why?
TWO: Because he feels sorry for me.
THREE: No, he doesn’t.
TWO: Yes, he does.
THREE: No, he doesn’t.
TWO: Yes, he does.
ONE (finishing the water purifier, hauling in the fishing line with three littfe fish on it, then calling just at the peak of this argument): Lunch!
(Two and Three come out of their hang-up.)
THREE: Lunch? Aren’t you even going to tie
down the water purifier?
ONE: No. (He hands Three a fish.)
TWO: Why not?
ONE: I already did. (He hands Two a fish; they sit down and eat.)
TWO: I’m sorry.
THREE (to One): I could kick you off into the ocean. (He holds his fish.)
ONE, eating contentedly: Why?
THREE: Just by shoving you over, that’s how. (He takes the fish and eats happily; then, real-izing something is wrong, quickly runs over the conversation, moving his lips, hits the error and shouts.) THREE: Why?
(One ignores him.)
THREE: Why? What do you mean, WHY?
ONE (pleasantly): Why should you shove me over.
THREE: Oh, yeah? (Satisfied with this rebuttal, he eats his fish.)
(There is a brief moment of peace during which we again hear the soprano starting “Un Bel Di.”)
TWO, idly: I’m no good.
ONE: Yes, you are.
TWO: No, I’m not.
ONE: Well, why not?
TWO: I just never was.
ONE: Well, you can be.
TWO: No.
ONE: Why?
TWO: There’s nowhere to start.
ONE: Why not?
TWO: I’m not worth anything.
ONE: Why?
TWO: Nobody likes me.
ONE: I like you.
TWO; You shouldn’t.
ONE: Why not?
TWO: Because.
ONE: Because why?
TWO: I just make work for you.
ONE: I don’t mind.
TWO: You should.
ONE: Why? (He is having very little time to eat.)
TWO: Because I’m not worth it.
ONE: Sure, sure you are.
TWO: Why?
ONE: Well, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like you.
TWO: Yes, you would.
ONE: Well, it’s all right, then. I like to work,
TWO: You shouldn’t.
ONE: Which?
TWO: Which what?
ONE: Work or like to work?
TWO: Either.
ONE: Why?
TWO: You should make me. do it.
ONE: Well, I try.
TWO: Yeah … but you don’t like me.
ONE: It’s all right. You make work for me.
TWO: Yeah, but you don’t like me.
ONE: Why?
TWO: Why don’t you, or why do I know?
ONE: The latter.
TWO: Because … if you liked me … (hoarse whisper) you’d get rid of him (indicating Three, who is picking his fish clean).
ONE: Why? TWO : Because. ONE: He’s OK. TWO: He’s no good.
ONE: He’s different.
TWO: You like him.
ONE: Why not?
TWO: He’s mean to me. ONE: Who isn’t?
(Three becomes puzzled-looking and comes to One, as if for a refresher course.)
THREE: Hey—why shouldn’t I kick you off here?
ONE (indicating Two): Because you’d be left with him.
THREE: No, why, really?
ONE (beginning to wear down a bit): Look, you don’t want to kick me off.
THREE (defiantly): Oh, yeah?
ONE (simply): Yeah. (He walks away from Three, who is left suspended all alone. Toward Two, who has begun idly peeling splinters from the raft.)
ONE: What are you doing?
TWO: Peeling splinters off the ol’ raft.
ONE: You’ll destroy the raft if you do that.
TWO: You can repair it.
ONE: But why?
TWO: Otherwise we’ll drown.
ONE: No, no—not why should I repair it, why are you doing it? It’s unnecessary.
TWO: It’s work for you.
THREE (as though it’s a difficult mathematical
point): WHY don’t I want to kick you off?
ONE: Because then you’d be left with nothing to hate.
THREE (pondering a moment, noticing Two): Him!
ONE: But then you’d have nothing to love.
TWO: And you’d starve.
THREE: I can fish.
ONE: But you wouldn’t.
THREE: Yeah?
TWO: No!
THREE (pondering, indicating Two again): He could fish.
ONE: He’d be dreadful at it.
TWO: I’m no good, you know.
ONE: Stop picking at those splinters!
TWO: All right. (He stops.)
THREE: What do you know?
ONE: About what?
THREE: You know what I mean.
ONE: Yes, but do you?
THREE: Sure.
ONE: Then what?
THREE: Huh? (He is again left suspended.)
(One sits down to rest for a moment. “Un Bel Di” is heard in the air.)
TWO: What can I do?
ONE: I don’t care.
(Two instantly picks a splinter.)
ONE: Stop!
TWO: I thought you didn’t care what I—
ONE: I care, I care.
TWO: Then what can I do?
ONE: Put a canopy over the raft.
TWO: How?
ONE: Use a red-and-green striped 500-pIy, Gov-ernment-inspected Underwriters Approved Weathers-eight G-12 tarpaulin acetate, 8 by 12,
with steel-grooved stanchions and a crenulated gutter-edge.
TWO: I don’t have one.
ONE: Watch the water till one floats by.
TWO (cheerfully): OK! (He bends over the rail and looks.)
(We hear one note of “Un Be! Di.”)
THREE: Do I what?
ONE: Know what you mean.
THREE: Sure!
ONE :Good!
(Three is suspended in thought again, working out the logic of that. One watches for ships, Two for aw-nings. “Un Bel Di” plays throughout. Two pulls from the water several bottles with messages, which he reads and tosses back.)
THREE: Hey.
ONE: What?
THREE: Whatever it was I asked you before?
ONE: Oh, yes,
THREE: Answer it, will ya?
ONE: Sure. A lot.
THREE: A lot what?
ONE: You asked “What do I know?” I know a lot.
THREE: No. Listen. I mean. What I asked you first. Before all that. You know? That? What-ever? Before? Answer. That. Huh?
ONE: OK. You don’t want to knock me over the side—
THREE: Oh, right! Right!
ONE:—because it would be self-destructive.
THREE: How self?
ONE: Now, look. We’re all in this thing togeth-er. Each other is all we have. Now each of us has his nature, his apparatus entelechus, his Tao, his thing—his thing to do, his manner of look-ing at life, his fund of feeling, his synaptic context, the emotions he needs to express and to externalize, his relationship to the cosmos, his image of the universal Idea that he must constantly reaffirm and reestablish by the in-teraction between I and Thou, the self and non-self, the . .. (Noticing that Three has grooved almost into a trance.) Hey!
THREE: Right, right, right, just keep talking, wow!
ONE: Now, in your case, what you want to ex-press is malice. That is to say, your essential relationship to the mega-universe is catabolic, one of breaking down, as opposed to mine, which is metabolic, or building up. Now, I’m very fortunate that a situation such as this one calls out the best in me and fulfills me, whereas in your case its restrictions are frustrating in that there’s so little to destroy that if you indulge yourself to any great extent, there’ll soon be nothing left for you to destroy but yourself,
THREE (long meditation, then indicating Two):…Him.
ONE: That’s just a stopgap.
THREE: Nothing but myself, huh?
ONE: Right—and you don’t want to do that.
THREE, heartily: No, no. (Uncertainly.) No?
ONE: No.
THREE: No.
ONE: Right.
THREE: Right.
ONE: That’s right.
THREE: No, huh?
(Two is beginning to listen with growing in-terest.)
ONE: No.
THREE (as if he were learning a new word): Nooo.
ONE: Definitely not.
THREE: Definitely not.
ONE: Absolutely not
THREE: Ab-so-lute-ly not.
ONE: Not for a minute!
THREE: Not for a minute!
ONE; Not in the least.
THREE: Not in the least.
ONE: Not for a million dollars—
THREE: Not for a million dollars—
ONE: Not for the world.
THREE: Not for the world.
ONE: Not for anything!
THREE: Not for anything!
ONE; Never!
THREE: Nein!
ONE: Nyet! (Russian dance step.)
THREE: Non! (French twist.)
ONE: Naw.
THREE: Nyah.
ONE: No-no.
THREE, No-no—(He has forgotten what they are talking about.) No-no what?
ONE: Destroy yourself—
THREE: All right. (He starts to go over the edge.)
ONE (rushing to stop him): No !
THREE, poised: No?
ONE: No!
TWO: Yes!
ONE (to Two): No!
THREE (questioning Two): Yes?
ONE: No!
TWO: Yes! Yes!
ONE (to Two): No!
TWO (on his knees, as Three still stands on the rail waiting): Yes, yes, please!
ONE: Not at all.
TWO: ( going back to his corner, miffed):
A wwwwwwww.
(Three remains on the rail, pondering, although the immediate danger seems past. Two bends over the rail again. One walks carefully away from Three, making sure that Three is not in imminent danger, then notices Two.)
ONE: What are you doing?
TWO: Looking for awnings?
ONE: Pssssssssssh! Whew. (He lies down, beat.) Watch for ships.
THREE (carefully walking over to him, con-cerned): Are you all right?
ONE: Yes, yes.
THREE: You’re lying down.
ONE: I’m tired.
THREE: I’m sorry.
ONE: No, no, don’t be.
THREE: It’s my fault.
ONE; No, no.
THREE: I did it.
ONE: It happens. People get tired.
THREE: I’ll kill myself?
ONE (not particularly concerned): Naw.
THREE: I’m no good.
TWO (tiptoeing over): That’s right.
THREE: I’m a louse.
TWO: You are that.
THREE: I’m a creep.
TWO: The creepiest.
THREE: You’re right, I’m disgusting.
TWO: I know it.
THREE: I’m weak.
TWO: I’m aware of it.
THREE: I’m nothing.
TWO: I’m certain of it.
THREE: I don’t know why I live.
TWO: About that .. . (He is guiding him over to the rail.)
ONE (sitting up): Wait a minute. THREE and TWO: What?
ONE: Stand side by side.
THREE and TWO: Sure. (They do.)
ONE (looking them ove)r: I just wanted to get you straight. (He starts to jump overboard.) Goodbye.
THREE and TWO (rushing to pull him back): Hey, no, stop, don’t do that, hold on. (Etc.)
ONE (safety returned): OK. Sorry.
THREE: It’s all right.
TWO: That’s OK.
ONE: It’s just the strain.
THREE: Sure.
TWO: We know.
ONE: A little rest?
THREE: That’s right.
TWO: That’s all.
ONE: We should all rest.
THREE: Good idea.
TWO: Nice idea.
ONE: We’ll rest.
THREE (stretching): Mmrnmmmm.
TWO: I could use it.
ONE: And then I’ll catch us something nice for dessert.
(They lie down, One in the middle.)
TWO (drowsily chatting): I didn’t get an awning.
ONE: That’s all right. I only set you to watch-ing for it ’cause I wanted to keep you quiet.
TWO (affectionately): I know.
THREE (after a moment of “Un Bel Di,” sit-ting up): Why shouldn’t I throw you—
ONE: Because you’d die of thirst.
THREE: Why thirst?
ONE: I rigged the water purifier so no one but me could work it. (He yawns.)
THREE (lovingly): Paranoid. (He lies down.)
ONE (chuckling): Yeah. (To Two.) What was in all those bottles?
TWO: Requests for help.
ONE: Ours?
TWO: Who knows?
(They settle down to sleep. Three pops up with another question, thinks better of it, and lies back down. After a silent moment…)
THREE: There’s a ship …
(Pause.)
TWO (up!): A ship?
THREE (realizing): A ship! (up!)
ONE (up): A ship?
(Two and Three begin to dance and rejoice.)
THREE: Yes, a ship, we’re saved!
TWO: Saved, we’re saved!
THREE (to One): You saw us through!
TWO (to One): You did it!
THREE: We’d never have made it without you!
TWO: You saved us!
THREE: Oh, baby, you’re great!
ONE (standing pondering the news: A ship, huh?
THREE: Yeah!
TWO: Yeah, there!
THREE: See? Ship?
TWO: There, a ship!
THREE: There, see?
ONE (as before): Just one?
THREE: Yeah, uh-huh.
TWO: Right there.
ONE: No others?
TWO: Nope, just one.
THREE: I’ll call it, huh?
ONE: No.
THREE : Oh, right, you call it!
TWO: Yeah, of course,
ONE: No, thanks.
THREE: No?
TWO: No?
ONE: No.
THREE: No, huh?
ONE: Huh-uh.
TWO: Not call it?
THREE (as if it had been a problem of terminol-ogy): “Hail” it!
(One shakes his head.)
TWO: Not hail?
THREE: It?
ONE ( definitely negative): Hmmmmmmmmm-mmmmmm.
THREE (as they watch the ship sail away): Oh.
TWO: Really?
ONE: Really.
THREE: Oh.
TWO: Oh.
(Long silent pause, One smiling wisely, Three and Two thinking.)
TWO:…Why?
THREE: Yeah, why?
ONE: Well… no hard feelings?
TWO (disowning the very idea): Nooo.
THREE: Huh-uh.
TWO: ‘Course not.
THREE: Never.
ONE: It’s only one.
THREE: Yeah, and…?
TWO: One, yeah.
THREE: One boat. There.
ONE: And …
THREE: Yeah?
TWO: What?
ONE: Meaning no insult.
THREE: No, no, no.
TWO: None taken.
ONE (after a smiling look at each of them): . . . We need three.
THREE (as if that makes it all clear): Oooooooh.
TWO (smiting his forehead): Right!
THREE (Savoring the delicious logic.): Mmmmmmmmm-mmmmmininm-mm-mrnmmmm.
TWO: Sharp. THREE: Yeah. ONE: It’s OK?
THREE: God, yes. (He holds his nose and makes a derisive gesture toward the ship.)
TWO: Sure.
ONE: I mean, after all—
THREE (“You don’t have to say anything else”): Right.
TWO: Natch.
THREE (“We’re not idiots, you don’t have to explain”): God!
TWO: (“Who wants an old ship, anyway?”): Ech!
ONE (lying down): Good night.
THREE (following suit): Good night.
TWO (him too): Good night.
(They are silent for a little while. Three sits up, frowning, works a brief problem out in his head, smiles, nods, lies down. A passing bottle catches Two’s eye. He fishes it out, reads the message (“HELP” clearly written on a piece of transparent plastic) and throws it away.)
TWO: Are you kidding?
(He lies down and we hear three voices, as in the NBC sound trademark, singing “Un,” “Bel,” and “Di.”)

CURTAIN

    LEFT OUT

by Robert Patrick

The stage is bare except for a young woman who stands center,
sadly looking offstage left. A young man enters from the left,
sees the girl, and stops, smiling at her.
MAN: Well, hello. I haven’t seen you before.
WOMAN: Oh, hello. I can see you haven’t heard.
MAN: About you? No, I haven’t, but I’d love to.
(Takes one step toward her.)
WOMAN: Stop! Don’t take another step!
MAN (Stops): I’m sorry. I seem to have frightened you. I didn’t
mean to.
WOMAN: No, no, no, you don’t understand.
MAN.- You seem upset. Can I help?
(Takes another step toward her.)
WOMAN: Stay where you are!
MAN: (stops): What’s made you so paranoid?
WOMAN: “Paranoid” means “irrationally afraid.” “Causelessly
afraid.” Well, I’m not paranoid. I have every reason to be afraid.
And so have you.
MAN: Look, I really don’t know what you’re talking about.
Maybe I’d better just move on.
(Takes a step.)
WOMAN: No! No! Don’t!
MAN (stops): I’m not going to hurt you. I’m going right past you
and on about my business.
(Takes a step.)
WOMAN: Please, stop! Oh, why can’t I make you understand?
MAN (he has stopped at her command): Okay. Okay. Tell me.
Maybe I can help.
WOMAN: No one can help. You obviously didn’t hear the news.
We’ve run out of left.
MAN: Run out of what?
WOMAN: Left. The direction left. There’s no left left.
MAN (walking toward her.): Hey, are you all right?
WOMAN: We’re all right now. That’s all there is now.
MAN (stops when facing her): Okay, tell me your problem.
WOMAN: It’s our problem. You men. So wise. So understanding.
So worried we’d run out of oil, or coal, or gold, or air, or
water. Or food or space. You never even thought to look up
and look around and see that there were other, more basic,
natural resources we might be using up, things we were using
long before you discovered fire and metal and farming.
MAN: Other natural resources? Like what?
WOMAN: Things you couldn’t see or touch. Or buy or sell or
steal from one another. Intangibles, resources you can’t see but
without which nothing is possible.
MAN: You mean like patience? I’m running out of that.
WOMAN: Hah! Patience! No! (she smiles, and says, not angrily)
Get away from me.
MAN: Okay, if that’s how you feel.
(He tries to back away from her but cannot.)
Hey, what is this?
WOMAN: Now do you see?
MAN (still standing in front of her, he turns around to face
left): What is it? Some sort of force-field? A glass wall?
WOMAN: No, no, nothing from your dreary science fiction.
You’ve run up against something you can’t understand, don’t
you understand that?
MAN (moves right to stand beside her): That’s incredible. It’s like
an invisible stone cliff. No give at all.
WOMAN: You see? I tried to stop you. Now you can never go
back where you came from.
MAN: But my home—my people—my life—my world—they’re all
there. Do you mean I can never go back?
WOMAN: Never. If you’ve left anything behind that you valued,
it’s lost forever . . . unless you can make it come to you.
MAN: That can’t be. Let me try again.
(He shoves at the air in front of him, but cannot move.)
This is incredible.
WOMAN: For countless centuries we moved in any direction we
chose, thinking there’d always be a chance to go back. And
now it’s too late. We’ve worn out left.
MAN: Maybe if I back up and get a running start at it.
(He backs up a few steps like someone about to charge a locked
door.)
WOMAN (not moving, but turning her head to look at him): No,
don’t believe me. Oh, why don’t you believe me?
MAN: Now I’ll charge it!
(He tries to storm forward, but cannot. Tries again. Falls
down.)
This is humiliating.
WOMAN: That’s right! Think only of your pride! That’s right!
Refuse to face the truth. That’s what you’ve always done!
MAN: That can’t be. Nothing can defeat the human spirit.
(Tries several times to back up and charge, but falls down each
time. He is now almost offstage right.)
WOMAN: Please, give up. Stay where you are and there may be
some hope.
MAN: Stay where I am? Never! I’ll go find others and they’ll join
with me and we’ll find a way of meeting this challenge!
(He looks off right.)
Won’t you come with me?
WOMAN: No, I’m staying here. I’m not losing any more ground.
MAN: But there’s no progress if you stay in one place.
WOMAN: If you keep moving in one direction, you’ll wind up
back here anyway.
MAN: This is ridiculous. I know it can be defeated!
(Backs offstage and we hear him once again charge and fall.)
Ooooooooooof!
WOMAN: You see? You see?
MAN (offstage): All right! All right! If I have to I’ll go clear
around the universe, but I’ll find a way to hold onto everything
I’ve gained!
WOMAN: Don’t be a fool!
MAN: (offstage): Wait a minute. It’s getting harder to move right!
Come with me! Come with me while there’s still time!
WOMAN: Still time! Oh, goodness! I wonder if—! Stay where you
are!
MAN: I can’t do that! I can’t do that! I … can’t … do … that!
WOMAN: I’ll help you.
(Tries to take a step right. Can’t.)
Oh, no. I can’t.
MAN: What’s happening now?
WOMAN: We lost our left. Now we’ve lost our rights. We have no direction. I wonder what we’ll lose next?
(Lights start to dim. She looks up.)

WOMAN AND MAN: OoOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOh,
noooooooooooooooooo (Lights black out entirely.)

CURTAIN

    SIMULTANEOUS TRANSMISSIONS

by Robert Patrick

(No set required. At each side of the-stage is a family, consisting of a mother, a father, and a teenage son.)

PARENTS : There they are. Look at them looking at us. Who knows what they’re up to?

SONS : Who are they? Mother? Father? What do they want?

PARENTS : Who knows what they want? You know what they want? I know what they want.

SONS : Tell me. I want to know.

PARENTS : They want to take our things away from us.

SONS: Don’t they have any things of their own?

PARENTS : Yes, they do! And no, they don’t! They have plenty, but they want ours! They have nothing, but they want what we’ve got!

SONS: What have they got that’s good?

PARENTS: They have nothing that we want, and they wouldn’t give it to us anyway. They have things we want and we can get it out of them! We don’t want anything they’ve got, and besides, we need it! We don’t want anything to do with them; how dare they pry into our lives? Besides, we want to be friends with them; how dare they be so stand-offish?

SONS: I don’t understand. It does not compute. Tell me what you mean.

PARENTS: Of course you don’t understand; you’re younger. I’m older; I know what I mean.

SONS: I understand; you understand.

PARENTS: Then understand this: We’ve got to do something about them.

SONS: I don’t understand; what is it you think they’re doing? parent: They’re watching us; they’re talking about us.

SONS : We’re watching them; we’re talking about them.

PARENTS : But they’re watching us all the time. Watch them watch us. Look, try this simple test: We’ll turn away, then when we turn back you’ll see that they’re watching us. Now, turn away.

(Sons turn away. The two sets of parents wave to each other, smiling.)

PARENTS : Now turn around. See? They’re watching us.

SONS : Wow! You’re right. But — were they watching us all the time?

PARENTS : Yes, yes.

SONS: How do you know?

PARENTS: Do you doubt us? We were watching them.

SONS: How could I ever doubt you? What shall we do?

PARENTS : You must go and fight them. I am needed here at home. I fear they plan an invasion.

SONS: If you say so.

PARENTS: But your military training must be secret from them. Close your eyes and do what we say.

SONS: My eyes are closed; what shall I do?

(The fathers hand the sns rifles wth baynets.The sons advance with their eyes closed and have a mock-battle in accord with the next speech. The sons never quite touch each other during this pantomimed battle.)

PARENTS : He is directly before you. Stab him with your bayonet. Shove his filthy carcass off your weapon. Shoot him in the head. Stab him in the gut. Hold him down and pull your bayonet out. Kick him in the teeth. Hop on his head. Leave him on the battlefield, dead, dead, dead! Now, come home to us. Follow our voices home!

SONS : Can I open my eyes now?

PARENTS : Yes, yes, my boy, your training is complete. Now are you ready to go?

SONS : I guess so. Are they ready?

PARENTS: Yes. I have it on secret authority that they’ve been train-ing, too. They’re going to sneak up on us if we don’t attack. It’s up to you now.

SONS : I hope that I can do it.

PARENTS : Do it!

SONS: I hope that I can win!

PARENTS : Win!

SONS : It’s all been games ’til now.

PARENTS: Now!

SONS : Now the real tests begin!

PARENTS: Begin!

(During the next speeches the sons move toward and past each other, and perform the described actions on the opposite parents, who are taken by surprise and killed.)

PARENTS : Advance with your weapon. There is the enemy. Protect me from him. He is directly before you. Stab him with your bayonet!

SONS : Shove his filthy carcass off my weapon. Shoot him in the head. Stab him in the gut. Hold him down and pull my bayonet out. Kick him in the teeth. Hop on his head. Leave him on the battlefield, dead, dead, dead! The sons wander aimlessly around the stage. Daddy? Mommy? Can I open my eyes now?

CURTAIN

All rights reserved by:
Robert Patrick
#211
1837 N. Alexandria Ave.
L. A. CA 90027
(323) 661-4737
rbrtptrck@aol.com
IM: rbrtptrck
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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2 Responses to “THREE COMIC ONE-ACTS – Plays by Robert Patrick”

  1. RESUME/Links to Online Works « Robert Patrick's Personal Blog Says:

    […]   THREE COMIC ONE-ACTS “Un Bel Di,” “Left Out,” and “Simultaneous Transmissions” https://robertpatrickpersonal.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/three-comic-one-acts-plays-by-robert-patrick/    CHEESECAKE (1966) (Psychedelic skit written for Cino revue; one male one female.) […]

  2. ROBERT PATRICK BIO by Wendell Stone « Quit Says:

    […] […]

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