Sunday, October 09, 2011

A Lot Can Happen In 24 Hours - part 8

Once again, this year, I signed on to be part of the something-like-annual 24-hour theater event known as Slapdash Flimflammery. By 24-hour, I mean that a series of short plays are written, rehearsed, and staged for an audience inside that amount of time. This is the 8th year that Loaded Gun Theory Productions has put this on, and if memory serves, I've participated in all but one, maybe two, of them in some capacity - usually writing, sometimes acting, and a couple of times, both.

Yeah, those days of "both" are long over.

This year, the theme of the event was Time. When I got to the theater Friday night, the following things happened:
  1. I wrote down a line of dialogue on a note card. This was to be the last line of my play. The other six writers did the same and we threw them all in a hat. 
  2. We passed the hat around and drew. Whatever line you drew was your first line. 
  3. We threw twenty-one note cards into yet another hat (or was it the same hat?), one card for each actor with only their gender written on it. Each writer then drew three cards to know what they had to work with sex-wise, though since we're all adults, that's really the kind of thing we should know already. 
  4. Since the theme was Time, there was yet another collection of notecards on which the members of Loaded Gun Theory had written various dates, some future, some past, one present. Each of us drew one. This date was to be used somehow in the play we wrote. 
  5. We all sat down around the table and made with the playwrightering. Our deadline? 6:00 AM.
Coffee station
I don't think we quite killed the coffeepot, but we definitely made a dent.

I'm 35 years old, so staying up all night is not the cakewalk that it once was. I had taken the day off from work and attempted a nap, but I've never been able to sleep during the day. I yawned on my way to the theater, then yelled at myself. "There'll be none'o that, Holmes!"

By the time the directors arrived at 7:00 AM, we were all plenty zombiefied. After conversing  briefly with the director that drew my script, I went home to make a futile attempt at a nap while she went off to rehearse with her actors. They had just under half a day to get the thing on its feet.

As always, it was a great time, the plays all came off really well, and everybody - as far as I could tell - had a blast, made all the more blasteriffic by the keg that followed the show. Have you ever stayed up all night and then the whole next day and then downed a beer? Your shit gets loopy, my friends. No joke.

This year's crew of writers
Anyway, below is the script that I came up with over the course of Friday night - Saturday morning. The date I drew was October 31st, 2364. I could have kicked myself for the last line that I came up with, but it worked out, I guess. Your brain goes weird places in the middle of the night.


Hollow Steve
Melba is seated cross-legged on the ground picking her nose. Downstage from her, off to one side, is a gargoyle up on a pedestal of some kind. Gozz enters from behind her. She is carrying a large futuristic-looking gun. She stands behind Melba and points the gun at the back of her head.
GOZZ
What about the pterodactyl?
Melba looks up at the gargoyle.
MELBA
That’s a gargoyle, gorgeous.
GOZZ
No, stupid. I mean for Hollow Steve.
MELBA
Oh. A pterodactyl? Like a flying dinosaur?
GOZZ
Yeah!
Gozz shrieks and flaps her arms in flying dinosaur fashion. She’s very into it. No really, don’t puss out. Get Mesozoic on this shit.
MELBA
That’s impressive.
GOZZ
Fucking ptero-ma-dactyl, bitch! Great idea, huh?  
MELBA
I don’t know.
GOZZ
What’s not to know? Need me to do it again?
MELBA
No. I mean, you can if you want. I just mean, dinosaurs? What are we, five?
GOZZ
No. I’m eleven.
MELBA
Yeah, and I’m going to be twelve next month.
GOZZ
So?
MELBA
So, don’t you think maybe we’re getting to be too old for this Hollow Steve stuff?
GOZZ
What? No way.
MELBA
Look, Gozz, gorgeous, I’m not saying we can’t mutate this year. I’m just saying, let’s be cool about it.
GOZZ
Pterodactyls are cool.
MELBA
No. They’re not. They’re really not. They put dinosaurs on little kid tee-shirts and in little kid read-books and on little kid table-mats for gross little kids to spill their dinosaur-shaped mac-and-cheese product all over. Face it. Dinosaur equals little kid equals not cool.
GOZZ
A dinosaur would tear your head off.
MELBA
Maybe if they didn’t go extinct thousands of years ago.
GOZZ
Millions.
MELBA
What?  
GOZZ
Dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago, not thousands.
MELBA
Congratulations.
GOZZ
A pterodactyl’s wingspan could reach up to twelve meters. Or as my great great great
Counts the “greats” on her fingers
great great grandpa would say, forty feet.
MELBA
Look, if you’re so hung up on going out for Hollow Steve mutated like a pre-schooler, be my guest.
GOZZ
But the three of us always mutate as the same thing.
MELBA
Well maybe things change this year.
GOZZ
Well, what do you think we should go as?  
Before Melba can answer, Comet streaks in with all the energy of a preteen who has downed five too many energy drinks.
COMET
AH MAH GAW! AH MAH GAW! AH MAH GAW! AH MAH GAW! AH MAH GAW!
And so on and so forth as you see fit.
MELBA
Comet!
GOZZ
Comet!
Melba and Gozz both yell at Comet, trying to catch her attention while she runs around screaming in full-on freakout mode, seemingly unable to control herself. When shouting at her fails, they resort to physical restraint.
MELBA
Comet, gorgeous. Use your words.
COMET
You’ll never guess what Ethyl and them are going as for Hollow Steve.
GOZZ
What?
COMET
Robots.
GOZZ
Robots?!
COMET
Fifteen meter robots.
GOZZ
What?! That’s like fifty feet!
MELBA
Rolling eyes
Ahm gaw.
COMET
With flames.
GOZZ
Flames?!
COMET
And lasers.
GOZZ
Lasers?!?!!
COMET
I know, right!?
MELBA
What the ever.
GOZZ
Examining gun
I don’t even think my mutator does robots. Oh yeah it does. But they’re only six meters. No flames or lasers either.
COMET
Takes gun from Gozz and examines it
I think you have to pop in a Moleculo upgrade clip.
GOZZ
Ahm gaw. Those are like three-million dollars.
COMET
I already spent my allowance.
GOZZ
Okay, you know what? That’s fine, because I know what we’re going to mutate as this year and it’s going to fly circles around Ethyl and her stupid robots. Li-tuh-ruh-lee.
COMET
What what what? Tell me tell me tell me.
MELBA
Dinosaurs.
COMETS
Dinosaurs?
GOZZ
Hey, I wanted to say it!
MELBA
Flying dinosaurs.
COMET
Flying dinosaurs?! YOU MEAN PTERODACTYLS?!?!!
GOZZ
I KNOW, RIGHT!!!
Gozz and Comet both do the shrieking arm-flapping routine that Gozz did earlier. Seriously, go nuts, y’all. They take to snapping at each other, as one could imagine real pterodactyls might do with those long sharp beaks of theirs. Comet makes the mistake of snapping at Melba.
MELBA
Would you two stop it?
COMET
You don’t want to be a pterodactyl, Melby?
GOZZ
Melba thinks flying dinosaurs with wingspans of up to twelve meters and talons that could slice through steel are lame.
COMET
They could slice through steel?
GOZZ
Probably, sure, yeah, totally.
MELBA
They are lame. This whole Hollow Steve thing is lame. Who was this Hollow Steve guy anyway? And why do we mutate into things because of him?
COMET
I think Steve was the name of the guy that invented the mutator gun. I don’t know why they call him hollow, though.
GOZZ
My great great great great
counts on her fingers
great great grandma said it used to be called something else. Like Hollow Eve or something.
MELBA
So who was Eve?
GOZZ
I don’t know. But supposedly, the way it used to work was, kids would go around to people’s houses and knock on their doors and ask for stuff.
COMET
Like money?
GOZZ
Yeah! Or food.
MELBA
Wow, that actually sounds kind of fun.
COMET
I want to go to people’s houses and ask for food and money.
GOZZ
But how would you do that if you were a pterodactyl? Or a fifteen meter robot?
COMET
Or even last year when we all went as horses. I guess you could put the money in your saddlebags.
GOZZ
But pterodactyls don’t wear saddlebags.
COMET
But they could. We could make special pterodactyl bags. OH! Or we could carry baskets in our steel-shredding talons!
GOZZ
Totally!
They do the pterodactyl routine again, this time holding bags and baskets.
COMET
I’m a pterodactyl! Give me your fucking money!
GOZZ
Or I’ll tear the roof off of your car!
COMET
And give me some ice cream while you’re at it!
GOZZ
Or I’ll stab you with my beak!
Beak-stabbing motions!
COMET
Chocolate ice cream!
GOZZ
Chocolate, bitches!
More pterodactylling.
MELBA
STOP IIIIIIIIIT!
Silence. Comet and Gozz freeze mid-flap and look at Melba in shock. Comet lets out an inquisitive pterodactyl caw.
MELBA (cont’d)
I don’t want to be a pterodactyl.
GOZZ
I think you’re outvoted.
MELBA
But I, I...
She breaks down sobbing.
GOZZ
You’re still outvoted.
COMET
Hey, Melby, don’t cry. It’s okay.
Comet puts her finger in Melba’s nose in a gesture that is meant to be comforting.
Are you crying because you don’t want to mutate as a pterodactyl for Hollow Steve?  
Melba nods.

GOZZ
Picking her own nose
This from the person who was going on about maturity.
COMET
Melba, is there something else you want to be for Hollow Steve?
Melba nods again.
COMET (cont’d)
Yeah? What is it?
GOZZ
If it’s anything less than a pterodactyl, you can forget it.
COMET
What is it, Melby?
MELBA
Through the sniffles
A unicorn.
COMET
A unicorn?
GOZZ
No. We went as horses last year.
MELBA
They’re not horses, they’re unicorns.
GOZZ
Whatever. I’m not going as one.
COMET
But we always go together. As the same thing.
GOZZ
And she always picks it! Every year! Who decided we should be horses last year? Melba. Who decided we should be giant balls of yarn the year before that? Melba. And when we were in kindergarten, who decided that we should be giant hamsters in giant hamster wheels.  
MELBA
Hey, we won the school mutation contest, didn’t we?
GOZZ
I’m not going as a stupid unicorn.
MELBA
Unicorns and beautiful and magical.
COMET
Puts her finger in both of their noses
Okay, you guys, wait, hold on. Maybe we don’t have to go as the same thing this year. Maybe we could just do like, you know, a theme.
MELBA
What do you mean?
COMET
Well like, we could all go as things that fly. Gozz, you could be a pterodactyl. Melba, you could -- wait, unicorns have wings, right?
MELBA
No.
COMET
Oh. Well, could yours have wings?
MELBA
Uh --
COMET
And I could be, uh, uh, a comet! Since that’s my name!
MELBA
Unicorns don’t have wings.
COMET
Could you just work with me here, Melba? I’m just trying to--
Gozz grabs the mutator gun and points it at them both. During this exchange, Melba backs away while Comet inches, er, centimeters closer to Gozz.
GOZZ
No. No unicorns. No comets. No real comets I mean. People named Comet are okay.
COMET
Gozz, what are you doing?
GOZZ
Get away from me. Put your finger in your own nose.
COMET
Gozz--
GOZZ
I’m setting the mutator gun to pterodactyl--
COMET
Gozz, put it down.
GOZZ
And I’m turning all three of us into motherfucking pterodactyls.
Aims at Melba
COMET
Gozz!
Comet jumps, but she is too late. The mutator fires and Melba is hit. The force of the blast knocks her back. Offstage, in fact. From backstage, there is a furious roar. The walls shake with terrifying violence. Melba emerges back on stage in the process of mutating into a pterodactyl. She flaps her mighty wings and advances on Gozz and Comet, who are both now screaming their fool heads off.
COMET
You turned her into an angry pterodactyl!
GOZZ
This thing doesn’t specify emotional state!
COMET
Hurry! Change her back before she takes flight!
Gozz fiddles with the dial and fires again. Melba stops shrieking, drops her wings, halts her advance, and speaks in an even, if not somewhat condescending tone.
MELBA
So you admit that you have sexual feelings for your mother?
COMET
Gah wha?!
GOZZ
Dammit! I set it to psychoanalyst.
COMET
What?
GOZZ
It’s the next thing down from pterodactyl in alphabetical order!
MELBA
How does that make you feel?
COMET
Yanking the mutator away
Give me that! You have to set it to undo.
Comet fiddles with the mutator and fires at Melba again. Melba reverts back into dinosaur rage, picks up her wings, etc.
GOZZ
Undo it again! Undo it again!
Comet fires again. This time, Melba’s transformation back into herself is slower, as if she is resisting it. Comet keeps hitting her though. At the end of it, Melba is down on the floor, motionless. Gozz and Comet look at Melba’s prone form in shock for a moment, then snap out of it and run to her side.
GOZZ
Melba!
Gozz and Comet kneel next to their friend and roll her onto her back. They help her sit up, but her head dangles. Gozz is crying.  
GOZZ (cont’d)
This is all my fault! I’m so sorry! We can be unicorns for Hollow Steve, Melba, I don’t care!
Melba looks up at Gozz.  
MELBA
No. We will be pterodactyls.
GOZZ
We will?
MELBA
Yes. We will all be pterodactyls.
COMET
Oh good! I’m glad that’s settled.
MELBA
I can’t even describe to you...I’ve never felt anything like it. The cells of my body weren’t simply jostled into the form of some other creature. I was taken somewhere, somewhen. I became something else. I saw the world through whole new eyes. I felt so much power...the power to fly, to rip, tear, destroy, kill. I didn’t want to come back.
COMET
So you don’t want to be a unicorn anymore?
GOZZ
Because we can if you want. I’m so sorry.
MELBA
No. I don’t want to be some stupid unicorn. I want to find a unicorn, swoop down on it from on high, grab it in my talons, and tear its magical hide to shreds.  
GOZZ
But there’s no such thing as unicorns.
MELBA
A horse will work. The point is, we’ll all do it together.
COMET
Together! Yay!
MELBA
And then, we’ll set our sights on Ethyl and her stupid giant robots.
COMET
Robots are made of steel.
GOZZ
So you’re not mad at me?
MELBA
Mad?
Laughs, puts her finger in Gozz’s nose.
Go ahead, gorgeous. Stick your finger up my nose. See what happens.

1 comment:

Nicole said...

I love this and am incredibly jealous that I didn't ge to stay up all night incorporating nose picking into my mini play. Maybe nex year when I am 35.

Very, very fun piece.