The American Dream & The Sandbox & The Death of Bessie Smith & Fam and Yam
Published by Dramatists Play Service
Mommy and Daddy sit in a barren living room making small talk
Mommy, the domineering wife, is grappling with the thought of putting Grandma in a nursing home
Daddy, the long-suffering husband, could not care less
Grandma appears, lugging boxes of belongings, which she stacks by the door
Mommy and Daddy can't imagine what's in those boxes, but Grandma is well aware of Mommy's possible intentions
Mrs Barker, the chairman of the women's club, arrives, not knowing why she is there - is she there to take Grandma away?
It all becomes evident when Grandma reveals to Mrs Barker the story of the botched adoption of a "bumble of joy" twenty years ago by Mommy and Daddy
Mrs. Barker appears to have figured it out when Young Man enters
He's muscular, well-spoken, the answer to Mommy and Daddy's prayers - The American Dream
Grandma convinces him to assist in her master plan
She puts one over on everybody and escapes the absurdly realistic world which she finds so predictable - M2,F3
A man in a spotlight, clad in swimming trunks, is doing his exercises silently.
A couple appears to remark, dryly, "Well, here we are; this is the beach"
The woman orders a clarinetist out onto the stage and commands him to play
The couple exits, then returns carrying the woman's eighty-six-year-old mother and dumps her in a sandbox
Grandma begins to weave her history between the cool, indifferent patter of the people and the equally cool, but somehow more sympathetic, sounds from the clarinet
As Grandma covers herself with sand, it begins to dawn that the mysterious, cryptic athlete is much more than local color, and his conversation with Grandma is, in fact, prelude to his purpose
He is "after all, the Angel of Death"
The Death of Bessie Smith
Memphis, Tennessee, 1937 - a time when the South's aristocracy is crumbling amidst the deeply racist views of its citizens
At a white hospital a Nurse belittles a black Orderly, a polite young man eager to improve himself, and is severely condescending to an Intern, a white man, who is seemingly in love with her
When the Intern finally turns on her she vows to retaliate by ruining his career
The conflict comes to a head when a blood-spattered black man, a car accident victim, stumbles in pleading to get help for his woman friend who is in his wrecked car
The Nurse orders him out, but the Intern convinces the Orderly to go with him to investigate
The Nurse is furious and when they return the Intern announces, in a helpless fury, that the woman is dead
The driver reveals that his woman friend was the legendary blues singer Bessie Smith
The Nurse admits she had heard of Bessie, but it seems her anger at the futile rescue by the Intern is the only emotion she feels - M5,F2
FAM and YAM
Yam (the young American playwright) has requested an interview with FAM (the famous American playwright)
The interview begins as YAM clucks appreciatively over all the evidences of FAM's success - the paintings, the view, the luxury of his apartment
FAM endeavors to bring the conversation back to the subject at hand, the article for which YAM is gathering material
YAM responds - with a vengeance!
As FAM swallows one glass of sherry after another, YAM proceeds to mount a vitriolic attack on the insidious commerciality of the Broadway theatre
FAM is enormously amused and fails to realize words are being put in his mouth
The interview ends, and YAM thanks his host for the "interview" which he intends to use as the basis for his article
FAM is struck - too late - by the realization of the trap into which his fatuousness has allowed him to be led
He turns ashen as his paintings frown, reel, tilt and crash down around him - M2