An Exercise in Confusion by Glenn Beatty


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author’s PRIOR consent


General Note:

      All 14 actors are on stage and involved all the time.
      These are real people in real situations yet reacting in specific
      rhythms, solo, duet and chorus and at times are part of the set
      (frozen in poses if they are not speaking)and as such affect the
      overall gestalt of the piece at all times. The play is about
      non-communication and some of its’ results. In all of the short scenes
      (for example in the first 3 or 4 pages) the actors are never fully
      aware of or listening to, each other. With this show, success lies in
      executing all movement and dialogue very naturally with all words and
      movement focused, sharp and exact.  Bon chance.


      The Play opens in the blackout with all 14 characters chattering on
      the bus. This builds to a climax as the lights come up and as the
      lights come up the chatter comes to an immediate stop and the 14
      characters are frozen in place.

      PROLOGUE

      (1 MALE and 1 FEMALE)

      1 - It’s so hot, I can’t hear myself think.
      2 - Monday morning, its’ Monday morning.
      1 – I bet the paint is melting off the walls.
      2 – Bob decided not to paint this weekend.
      1 – I bet the paint is melting off the walls.
      2 – Oh, yeah.
      (they laugh)
      1 – What’s with her/him (in unison)

      (2 FEMALES)

      3 – Hot?
      4 – No.
      3 – No?
      4 – No.
      3 – I am.
      4 – Good.
      3 – Good? (laughs)
      4 – Yeah. (laughs uncertainly)
      3 & 4 - (to themselves) What?
      3 & 4 - Good, Good; yeah.

 

      (2 MALES)

      5 - Lunch?
      6 – (reading something) Haven’t had breakfast yet.
      5 – How about lunch today?
      6 – What?
      5 – Lunch?
      6 – Haven’t had breakfast yet.
      5 – My cat died.
      6 - Haven’t had breakfast.
      (pause)
      6 - What?

      (2 MALES)

      7 – Damn these corns.
      8 – I sweat right through my shirt.
      7 – Nothing gets them.
      8 – 8:30 am.
      7 – They are invincible.
      8 – No deodorant in the…
      7 – Could take over the City…

      (in unison with the “In/or”  overlapped)

      8 – In the world!
      7 – Or The world!
      (beat)
      7 & 8 - You say something?

      (1 MALE and 1 FEMALE)

      9 – (Reads Sports section of Newspaper) Mets (or your team) are not
      doing bad.
      10 – Uh-huh.
      9 – They could make it.
      10 – I made it last night
      9 – They could go all the way.
      10 – Yeah, it was beautiful.
      9 – (Sings) Take me out to a ballgame.
      10 – Wam-Bam in the ninth.
      (pause)
      9 – Wasn’t it…? It was the sixth wasn’t it?
      10 – Yeah, sure. Oh, yeah, yeah, sure.

 

 

      (2 MALES)

      11 – A pig!
      12 – I hate my job!
      11 - My wife’s a pig.
      12 – Do you know how many pigs I wait on each day?
      11 – Every night, a new one.
      12 – Coffee and a roll? I’m your peon, baby.
      12 – Forget it.
      11 - Forget it.
      11 & 12 – I just hate it…
      11 & 12 – I just hate it…
      11 & 12 – Hey, wait a minute…..Nobody’s gonna.
      11 & 12 – Steady boy, steady, you’ll be alright.

      (2 FEMALES)

      13 - Damn city!
      14 – I never have time for anything.
      13 - Damn bus!
      14 – I’m tired as soon as I…
      13 – Two-fifty-nine for Onions!
      14 – That’s Gross!
      13 – Mayor Sh-may-er!
      14 – Deblazzio Kill-bazzio! (or current Politician - your
      city/state)
      13 – Damn! Damn!
      14 – Shopping; not shopping.  I wish…
      13 – I wish I could….
      14 – Ground beef, 5.50 a…
      13 – Pound him! No, we should grind him into…
      14 - Hostess Twinkies…...a buck plus! Used to be…
      13 – Policemen! When you need them, where?
      14 – Air! Bread made of air!
      13 - Yeah, what air? You have to wear a mask!
      7 and 1 – Please, could you knock it off? You’re giving me a
      migraine.

      (1 MALE)

      8 - And why do you have a migraine? Because you don’t have peace in
      your heart. The Lord will give you that peace my friends, just give up
      your heart to him and he will enter into yours forever.

      (All but 6 and 2 get up and start to leave as 8 starts to sing and is
      joined by 2 and 6 = all three sing)

      The Lord’s gonna gather us, gather us all
      and take us to the tower of Babel
      And then he’s a gonna, yes, he’s a gonna
      8 Contd - Judge us one by one, yes, judge us one by one. Yeah!

      (During the above song, the following lines are said.)

      9 - Not again.
      12 – My goodness.
      1 - From here I walk.
      4 - Why today?
      5 – Always happens to me!
      11 – Come on, let us out…
      3 – Gees.
      7 – Some people.  Damn.
      13 & 14 – Damn City!
      All – Yeah. Yeah-yeah!

      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      (Lights come up on all actors…)

      All actors have no electronic devices.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors now have ear-phones/buds.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors have no electronic devices.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors now have cell-phones.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors have no electronic devices.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors now have tablets.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors have no electronic devices.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors now have laptops.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      All actors have no electronic devices.
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      All - in blackout start eastern prayer chant which may shift to a
      Gregorian Chant. As lights come up the actors are totally engrossed in
      worshiping the technology in various poses…Some on their knees, some
      blessing the machines as if with holy water, some preaching with and
      to the machines. Chant/hum continues under…

      1-7 -  And the God of Techno said: worship me as I fill your lives
      with tetra-bites as…

      8-14 - You twitter away your precious earth time with faceless
      non-books. Bye the bye, I had tofu for lunch. Like? Not-like? Share?


      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      (1 MALE, 1 FEMALE)

      9 - You don’t listen.  I didn’t mean that…
      4 - Yes, you did. You hurt me.
      9 - What did I do?
      4 - You said you would never do anything you didn’t like to do again.
      For anyone.
      9 - I didn’t mean that.
      4 - Except maybe your children.
      9 - How does that affect you?
      4 - What?  You said that you worked at that lousy job for me.
      9 - I didn’t do it only for you.
      4 - Then why do you blame me?
      9 - Jesus, woman, there was a time before you! You don’t listen to me.
      You hear it the way you want to hear it. You create unhappiness for
      yourself, I don’t.
      4 - Why are you so pushy with me?
      9 - I don’t know. I…
      4 - Why did you say that?
      9 - I was feeling so relaxed, so free. Why couldn’t you be happier for
      me to have reached a decision like that? Why couldn’t you be happy for
      me instead of being threatened by it?
      4 - How could I not be threatened by it? You ask me to marry you. You
      talk kids and I’m not supposed to worry about two years from now when
      we have children and you won’t work at something you don’t like!
      9 - That’s not what I meant. I don’t know what I meant now. Of course
      I would work for my children. Who wouldn’t? Don’t you know anything
      about me yet?  That some things I mean and somethings are just silly
      and in the moment?
      4 - OK.
      9 – OK.

      (pause)

      4 - You’re crazy. Really crazy. If you ever behave like that again
      I’ll hit you over the head with a chair!
      9 - A big chair?
      4 - Yes, a very big chair.

      (they embrace)
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      (All actors are on cellphone for this scene. 1-7 = 1 through 7 and
      8-14 = 8 through 14))
      1-7 – Hi, Mom. It’s me..
      8-14 – Hi, Dad, It’s me.
      1-7 – Hi, bro, its’ me
      8-14 – Hi, sis, its’ me
      1-7 – Uncle and Auntie
      8-14 - Cousin Sandy.
      1-7 – It’s me.
      8-14 - It’s me.
      1-7 – It’s me.
      8-14 - Me.
      1-7 – Who? What? Cellphone.
      1-7 – On a bus…
      8-14 – a bus…
      1-7 – Rude! Speaking…
      8-14 – Yeah, it is rude…
      1-7 – What did we do before?
      8-14 – Did less. Did less?
      1-7 – Everybody does it.
      8-14 – Jump off a bridge?
      1-7 – What? Why would I…
      1-7 – I would not!
      8-14 – (whispers) I love you, too.
      1-7 – It’s public, I can’t…
      8-14 – Can’t wait.
      1-7 - Mom! Dad!
      8-14 – Sister, Brother…...
      1-7 – Uncle, Aunt
      8-14 – War does…
      1-7 – Kill families
      8-14 – Why is it the…
      1-7 – Great economic leveler?
      All – Forever so? Forever so. Forever so.

      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE
      (2 FEMALES)

      2 - It’s been ten minutes
      4 – So?
      2 – It’s been ten minutes.
      4 – Yeah.
      2 – It’s been ten minutes.
      4 – So, you know, they’ve arrested…
      2 – It’s been…
      4 - Arrested thousands - California, Michigan, Illinois, New York..
      Environment, Jobs, Discrimination, War, all over. Rich over Poor.
      2 – I’m late for…
      4 – Huge Problems!
      2 – I’m late!
      4 – You-owe-me-ments not entitlements! We pay in!
      2 - I’ll get docked if I’m late again.
      4 – Unemployment benefits prevent revolutions.
      2 – Docked. Then…
      4 - Social Security keeps old folks from dyin’ in the street. (pause)
      Are you ever going to react to some of the more….
      2 – Then fired.
      4- Serious issues. React! React!
      2 – Fired! React. Great, Great!  React! OK, I’ll react! (yells)
      BOOM. (laughs) I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.  BOOM! BOOM! (continues
      laughing and making fun…......)
      4 – Well, I can, “A”, go insane and kill her…
      7 – Kill her. (Breaks freeze)

      (pause)

      4 – or I could…
      7 – Kill her!
      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      (1 MALE and 1 FEMALE)

      7 - I talk and I talk and I talk…
      3 - And say nothing, nothing, nothing.
      7 - You don’t hear a word.  What did I just say, huh, if you were
      listening? What did I just say?
      3 - You said,  “I talk and I talk and I talk.”
      7 - Before that.
      3 - Why keep asking?
      7 - Stop it.
      3 – I won’t.
      7 - I said,  “I love you”.
      3 - I don’t care…
      7 - I said, “I love you”.
      3 – So…what’s in it for me?
      (PAUSE)
      3 - You gonna fix that pipe in the kitchen like I asked 3 months ago?

      7 – You gonna fix me a better work-lunch like I asked for forever?
      3 - You gonna put your filthy clothes in the hamper instead of
      creating a global stink o-quilt in our home?
      7 – You gonna iron my clothes instead of sending me off to work
      looking like I slept on the couch?
      3 – You gonna stop acting like a football zombie “Don’t touch that
      remote” every Sunday from 1 to 7?
      7 - How’s about you stop vacuuming EVERY YEAR during the Superbowl?
      3 – How’s about you stop burping during every bridge game?
      7 – How’s about you learn to be civilized?
      3 - Who’s not civilized?
      7 - You’re not; but you’re gonna be!
      3 - Who said so?
      7 - I do!
      3 - Who’s you?
      7 – Me. That’s who. The boss. The one in control.  The one who pays
      the bills, see, the one who pays the bills!
      3 - Oh, yeah! Then you’re the one who’s going to wash your own smelly
      socks, babysit your own bitchy kids and cook your own Barbarian food,
      Mr. Macho Macho!  I’ve had it!
      7 – Well,  Ms. Lib Lib, that’s fine with me.

      (starts to exit)

      3 - Where you going?
      7 - I don’t know.  I thought I’d stroll over to the cleaners and have
      them burn your best dress.
      3 - Great idea. Just put it on first.
      7 -  Goodbye!
      3 -  Good riddance!

      (pause)

      7 - We still going to your mothers this weekend?

      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      (All hold magazines/newspapers/tablets in front of their faces. When
      they speak, they lower the magazine or newspaper and then replace them
      in front of their faces for the next repetition).

      1 - My cousins wife is a bitch!
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 - He used to be so cool.
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 - Used to wear cool, strategically sloppy clothes…
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 – Used to be loose, like a long-haired goose…
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 - Loose y-goosey and….sort of.
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 – Sort of New Jersey Charming….
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1-  Now he’s neat.
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 - And miserable.
      2 - Oh yeah.
      1 – And sort of New Jersey Ignorant.
      2 - Oh yeah.
      (pause)
      1 & 2 - Too bad.

      (2 FEMALES)

      3 - You know.
      4 - Oh yeah.
      3 - I get my period in the oddest places.
      4 - Oh yeah.
      3 - On the bus.
      1,2, 4 - Oh yeah.

      (2 MALES)

      6 - my parents just don’t understand me.
      11 - Oh yeah.
      6 - They try but they just don’t see.
      11 - Oh yeah.
      6 - They can’t see my growth,  my strength,  my striving to reach a
      new level of…
      1,2,3,4,6 - Oh yeah.
      6 - Oh, yeah, oh, yeah, oh yeah.

      (2 MALES)

      12 - The struggling artists life is a pain.
      8 - Oh yeah.
      12 - Forty hours a week of rent/food work.
      8 - Oh yeah.
      12 – Fifteen hours a week of classes and rehearsals.
      8 - Oh yeah.
      12 - And if I’m lucky another fifteen hours a week of auditions.
      8 - Oh yeah.
      12 - 70 hours a week.
      1,2,3, 4, 5, 6 - Think you’ll make it?

      (pause)

      Projection Screen w/SFX under: Text Types on Screen quickly - letter
      by letter….”So much of life is a projection….. of what “we”
      think it should be, wish it would be or what we secretly want it to
      be: success, failure, care for someone, have someone care for
      us…..breeding the sins we wish would go away and if we are lucky
      enough to find a mate without a death-wish….. We do not cherish, we
      let that perish, in the name of something else because we don’t really
      want the happiness, we would rather wallow in un-met desires on our
      “own terms”, whatever that means. You won! I won! But you’re
      alone, miserable and don’t know how to share…...poor you,
      boo-hoo..selfish bitch-bastards! So there! Signed, The One and
      Only.”
      (The one with many names)


      Projection Screen w/SFX under Contd:

      P.S. “Just kidding….......universal love abounds….......every
      moment…Yet, historically, worldwide, humanity steps on love in
      blind-desire-fulfillment. A quaint suggestion: STAY AWAKE, listen,
      look and feel, you sillies. Hint: Giving = happiness.”

      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      10 – The American people cannot fathom the European Mentality.
      9 – Oh yeah.
      10 – No sense of history.
      9 – Oh yeah.
      10 – No patience.
      9 – Oh yeah.
      10 – Expect the whole world to have lightning-fast wi-fi.
      9 – Oh yeah.
      10 - Expect the whole world to have Charmin.
      9 – Oh yeah.
      10 – Expect the whole world to speak English.
      9 – Oh yeah.
      10 - Have absolutely no dignity in Europe.
      9 – You can say that again.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – You can say that again.
      All – We – just - did.
      7 – You want to know what’s wrong around here?
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – I’ll tell ya!
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – First, this city is too crazy to live in.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – Second, Third and Fourth…
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 - I can’t stand my job, my wife, my kids!
      All - Oh yeah, Oh yeah, Oh yeah.
      7 – Fifth & Sixth, my kids never see me and…
      All - Oh yeah, oh, yeah.
      7 – They don’t care!
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – Seventh, nobody respects the elderly.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7- Eighth, common courtesy has become a commodity.
      All – Ya gotta pay us to say, “Oh, yeah!”
      7 – Ninth, we have so many minorities, each minority has a minority
      that’s against another minority.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 - Tenth – Computers have changed our world; robotics,
      auto-everything… killing U.S. Jobs.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 - Eleventh - The result: innovation equals worker elimination.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – Twelfth, Sin is a word that other people commit. Not me!
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 - Thirteenth, people are so zoned in on their own crapola, they
      don’t bother to listen and thus never understand a damn thing.
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – Fourteenth, multi-tasking is in but somebody forgot to mention
      that its’ not possible to do more than “one thing right at a
      time”.......so let’s all try FIVE!
      All - Oh yeah.
      7 – And I’m not finished…..

      5 – Oh, yes, you are. You’re as finished as you’re ever gonna be,
      ‘cause I’ve had it; had it up to here with you people. I don’t know
      what the hell you’re talkin’ about but its’ drivin’ me ape! APE! And
      I’m not takin’ it anymore!  You’re all crazy and you’re getting’ off
      the bus! Right now! Right now! (Nobody moves) Move! Vamoose! Get lost!
      Beat it! Out, out, out, out, out!

      (pause)

      BLACKOUT/CROSSFADE

      PROLOGUE CUT-DOWN REPEAT

      1 - I can’t hear myself think.
      2 - Its’ Monday morning, its’...
      3 & 4 - What?
      3 & 4 - Good, yeah.
      5 – Lunch!
      6 - Haven’t had breakfast…
      7 - Damn these corns!
      8 - I sweat right through my shirt.
      9 - Mets aren’t doing….
      10 - Uh-huh.
      9 - They could make it.
      (pause)
      11 - A pig.
      12 - I hate this job.
      11 - My wife’s a pig.
      13 & 14 - Damn city!

[end of extract]

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