Kitty and Lina by Manuel Igrejas
Kitty: A woman in her mid-twenties. She has blonde hair.
She wears a smashing red dress and red high heels.
Lina: An elegant woman in her seventies. She wears a
stylish black pantsuit.
For the Manhattan Theatre Source production, the set was dressed as
the inside of a jewelry box, red and gold velvet curtains covered the
backstage wall. The suggestion is that both women are priceless,
There is a small cocktail table with a chair center stage.
Right here. Right now.
There is a short break between scenes for set adjustment
but no intermission.
For the New York Production, the walls of the stage were covered in
red, gold and black velvet, suggesting the interior of a jewel box.
There is a cocktail table and chair center stage.
We hear the intro music. "You Stepped Out A Dream," sung by Sarah
(Kitty pokes her head out from behind the curtain. checks out the
audience and comes onstage. She is young and pretty with blonde hair.
She is wearing a smashing red dress and red high heels.)
My name is Kitty. I live in New York City. And I am very pretty. Do
you think I'm pretty? Don't answer. This ain't no audience
participation thing. I'm just having a pretty day today and I
don't want or need anybody telling me otherwise. Sometimes when you
feel it, you just feel it. If you're not having a pretty day, please
don't be angry or threatened. It's no reflection on you. It's
just how I feel, you know, today. Perhaps by reveling in my own
prettiness, I can inspire you to feel good too, no matter where you
stand in the beauty pageant of life.
Wait. This isn't QVC. So put away your credit cards. I am not
responsible for any of your feelings left over 30 seconds.
Of course, this prettiness of mine may be all in my head and that's
where all prettiness starts, ultimately. I'm not just talking about
good bones and sparkling eyes (which I have) but a prettiness of the
soul. Or, to boil it down to its essence-a good heart. A generosity
of spirit. These inner qualities inform and radiate the physical
I've encountered some people with very good bones and fine features.
They wore impeccable clothes. But, after some time in their company I
was able to detect the starved, mean, cold souls their good looks
couldn't disguise. They were carrying around the true ugliness that
comes from deep within. Of course, I have also met some people who
were just plain fucking ugly, inside and out. Bless their hearts.
Today I woke up and said to myself, Kitty, you are one pretty girl. I
washed my face as the coffee brewed and noticed the areas where time
and gravity had established beachheads but this only added to my sense
of well being. I looked deep into my own eyes and realized they are a
shade of sparkling hazel not yet matched in nature. Wait. Yes it is.
Think of the Hudson River on a sunny spring morning.
(She comes closer to the audience and shows off her sparkling eyes)
My hair is thick and lustrous, a symphony of highlights. My lips are
the color of ripe strawberries and when I apply strawberry lip-gloss,
they taste like them too.
(With a Texas accent) My Daddy used to say, Kitten, you are the
prettiest little thing on the planet. Whenever he said that, I felt my
dimples flex, involuntarily. I noticed Mama would flinch a bit, a
little tremor in her pageboy, her ever ready smile just the teensiest
Mama was a pretty woman. She started out as Ascension Aguilar, the
prettiest girl in San Elizario, (just outside of El Paso) and wound up
as Ashley Barrington of the Brookhaven Country Club. I always felt
there was a fundamental sadness in her, and I must admit, an
unpleasantness that would surface when she had a few too many
Manhattans. But I'm not here to talk about her. Let her do her own
show. Mama Takes Manhattan.
I'm from Texas, as some of you smart folk might have guessed.
It's a big state filled with pretty women. Not carelessly, carefree
pretty women, but hardcore, coiffed to the hilt,
don't-spare-the-highlights, full-battle makeup,
plastic-surgeon-on-speed-dial, pretty till-the-day-I-die women. Why
just look at our former First Lady, Ms. Laura Bush, that pretty little
thing, bless her heart. Every time I saw that dear, sweet creature on
television I thank whatever reserves of nerve brought me to New York.
All the energy it takes to maintain that little smile all goddamn day
long when you know that precious angel is dying to smoke her way
through a pack of Chesterfields and suck down some nail polish
Back home I was Little Miss Theater. I had the leads in all the school
productions and then in community theater. I could sing, dance and
act. Well I thought I could act then, anyway. One season I played
Maria in The Sound Of Music and Maria in West Side Story. Once my
family was resigned to my showbiz aspirations they hoped I would
follow the path of that other Texas beauty, Ms. Farrah Fawcett and go
to Hollywood to become movie star. Oh, Farrah, bless her heart.
(She does the famous Charlie's Angle pose, holding an imaginary
But I always had my eye on New York City. I steeped myself in movies
set in New York, especially Woody Allen movies. All those smart, edgy
people, talking up a storm, taking their emotional temperatures every
second of every day in glorious, art-filled apartments with Central
Park right outside their windows. I have always had a deep affinity
for Marilyn Monroe and even Marilyn went to New York to sign up with
The Actors Studio and learn how to act. That was my plan too.
But now, let's talk about men.
(Pause. She points to a woman in the audience)
You first—-Kidding! Me first. I've gotten used to a certain amount
of attention from men. It started it kindergarten when Topher
Treadwell kissed me in the playground. Back home there were plenty of
good-looking, well-built, pleasant boys but they bored the panties off
me. My fantasy man was a scrawny, sensitive New York intellectual,
somebody like Woody, but younger and better looking.
I wanted me a nice Jewish boy.
My sunny, Texas country-club childhood did not prepare me for life in
New York City. I did love the hustle, energy, the noise, the nerve but
I was not prepared for the action on the street, the lack of, well,
manners, and what I did not expect was the male wolf packs a girl has
to negotiate. It took me awhile to get used to honking horns and those
obscene whistles and catcalls.
Sometimes I can sail right past them but every so often they go right
through me like hateful, poison-tipped arrows. I feel pinned to
whatever brick wall I happen to be passing, stripped naked while time
stands still in the middle of the great city, in the middle of the
day. I devolve into every dumb chick that walked into the dark spooky
old house at midnight on Friday the 13th, despite all the evidence,
and came face to face with Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers and every
other psycho the movies can crank out to off young women. In the
middle of the day, in the middle of the great city.
A little prayer pops into my head, a gift from my Baptist days.
Everything is beautiful
I'm very happy and so are you
Then traffic moves on, life goes on and I'm myself again.
But I figured it out.
I didn't get into The Actors Studio but I did find a good acting
teacher. I temped at an event-planning company and caught the eye of
the boss, Kristin, who hired me on full time. Now I'm her right-hand
woman but she knows my acting career comes first so my schedule is
flexible. This weekend you can see me as Olivia in Twelfth Night at
The Inwood Merry Players, of which I am a charter member. (She takes a
(She shows off her dress, does a twirl)
I love this dress. It's like slipping into a champagne glass full of
cherry coke—with a shot of vodka. Sometimes on dreary winter days I
wear it and dance around my apartment. When I wear it my hair
automatically tosses itself, my eyes glitter, my lips moisten and I
have the posture of Miss America. It's something like the dress
Marilyn wears in The Seven-Year Itch, right?
I went to a loft party on a warm spring evening in this little number.
I knew a lot of the women there but none of the men. When I arrived,
it looked like a wake, boys on one side of the room, girls on the
other facing the coffee table, where a casket could have been but
chips and dip were instead.
(She walks to stage right)
Well, I went over to the girls' side and started talking to my good
girlfriends or what I thought were my good girlfriends. Now some of
them are pretty and some of them are not, but I don't ask my friends
to be cover girls before they can know me. I like them for who they
are. This being a New York party, a lot of the girls were wearing
black, even in late spring. And I know some of my girlfriends have
their issues, weight, skin, hair, men.
"What an interesting outfit," Jessica said from deep inside her
"How brave of you to wear something like that," Trudy said, in her
black jeans and black pullover.
Time for a drink! The bar was on boys' side of the room.
(She walks to stage left)
I was checking out the available booze, in the dim light trying to
tell the vodka from the gin. A good-looking boy stepped forward and
said: can I help you find what you're looking for?
In a half-hour I was talking to all the boys on our side of the room
while my good girlfriends looked like a pile of used tires on the
other side, bless their hearts. After a bumpy start, I wound up
having a great time at that party and got some new gentleman callers.
I think, in a very small way, a pretty girl in a pretty dress helps
make the world a better place.
If you don't think so then why oh why are we still talking about
Marilyn forty years after her passing? The camera lovingly followed
her walk in The Seven Year Itch, in Niagara, in Gentlemen Prefer
Blondes, and Some Like It Hot. She wasn't posing, flirting, being
seductive, she was just walking, wrapped in her own nimbus of
prettiness, trying to get from one place to another—in a tight
Despite her inner demons, everything about her body radiates a sense
of well being, a luxurious tickle and purr from deep within that makes
everything she says and does seem pre-orgasmic. She's always halfway
there before a man enters the picture!
When I'm feeling pretty I feel like I'm channeling Marilyn. I'm
owning it, riding the wave, taking that walk in the tight dress,
seeing where it takes me. It has next to nothing to do with other
people and my effect on them; it's that tickle and purr I'm
"I learned to walk as a baby and I haven't had a lesson since."
Marilyn was a hungry girl. That glow of hers was her hunger. She was
so hungry and she didn't even know it. She's so hungry she's
choking on it, her voice so soft and breathless.
"No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All
little girls should be told they are pretty even if they are not,"
(Sharply) Me, I'm not all that hungry. I know who I am. I get what I
want. I want to be a good actor. I want to do good work. When I get
older I want to age gracefully and stop being the pretty girl and
become the substantial woman. I love inhabiting Olivia. She's
accomplished, deeply romantic, open-hearted and blazingly articulate.
Some of the men in the cast are buzzing around me and one of them, the
guy playing Malvolio, is dangerously attractive. Okay, he's not
Jewish but I bet we could have a good time. His life seems very
complicated and all I can smell is trouble. I don't want no trouble
right now. I've been down that road but that's another story for
another day. A rainy day. Focus, Kitten, focus.
(Pause) While I have you, let me run this by you. When you look a
certain way you get the "you know who you look like? routine. From
the time I was ten on some dolt has hit me with that nerf ball. And
it's never the same person. It's always whichever blonde happens
to be in the public eye at the time. I'm in line at the bank, the
supermarket, the corner deli. I see the look in someone's eye and
instead of keeping this brilliant discovery to themselves, I know this
putz is going to share his or her discovery of my remarkable
resemblance to fill-in-blanks with me and everyone else within
earshot. The heady mix of our celebrity-obsessed culture and adult
strength ADD and my day has a good chance at being ruined. A little
throat clearing and here it comes, "You know who you look like?
It's always any famous woman with some shade of blonde, real or
bottled in her hair. And it is not always flattering. You know what I
mean? Does it happen to you too?
(She picks someone from the audience, male or female)
Who do you get? (Fill in blank of celebrity mentioned by audience
member) Matt Damon? Yeah, I can see that. But isn't it
insulting?—Okay, back to me.
The one nobody has ever mentioned is Marilyn. I could handle that, I
guess. But I've invested a lot in being me and looking like me, so I
don't find these comparisons flattering at all. And—the first time
someone says Tori Spelling, I start swinging!
So looks are relative. People assign them to you; people take them
away from you. This I learned the hard way, in that story for another
day I mentioned earlier. Well, here comes that rainy day.
When I was in college I got a chance to do some summer theater in
Provincetown. To make ends meet, I worked a few nights a week at a
popular Italian restaurant. There was roadwork on Commercial Street
that summer and some of the guys came into the restaurant for dinner.
Two of them wound up coming in pretty much every night. They were
Italians from Boston and our place had good food. Now Italians were
second on my list of exotic men I wanted to experience so I
appreciated the opportunity.
Frankie and Jimmy. Frank was 35, short, dark, bandy-legged with a
silly little mustache and thinning black hair. He was married with two
kids. Jimmy was 21, big and beefy, a body builder, dark haired and
dark-eyed too with a sweet smile. He was a big puppy of a boy. I could
tell he had a crush on me and was trying to rev up the courage to ask
me out. Now I had perfectly good boyfriend back home but I'm not
opposed to a little adventure. Jimmy brought me flowers sometimes.
Always asked me how my day was going but he never did really ask me
Frank sat there and scoped me out, his eyes black and dead in his
head. Sometimes he stroked his mustache. When he did that he looked
like a panther scoping out a gazelle, calculating the right time to
pounce. He snorted at Jimmy's sweet talk and seemed to shake his
head at everything I said. It spooked me. Those black eyes staring at
me. I found myself adding silly little flourishes to everything I
said, acting like the dumb chick in the haunted house. One night I
said, "Today's special is Egg Pant Parmigiana".
Egg-Fucking-Pant? Frank snorted.
(She imitates Frank's Boston accent)
"You drinking on the job, Kitten?"
He never called me by name before and he went right for the special,
"intimate" version. I was rattled.
I was carrying 5 bowls of minestrone to a party, passed Frank's
table. He gave me a look with some heat in it, raised one brow and
stroked his mustache. I tripped on a snag in the carpet and everything
went flying. Nobody got hurt but I sure felt stupid and my face was
cherry red. With the help of the busboys and Jimmy I cleaned up the
mess on my knees, my back to Frank.
(She imitates Frank's accent)
"They must feed you real good here. You're filling out. Bet you
really like the Egg Pant."
It was one of those poison-tipped arrows, zing! Right to the heart!
The dumb chick walks into the haunted house at midnight on Friday the
13th And she's fat!
Fade out, fade in. Frank became my summer lover. Or my summer fuck. My
summer object lesson in self-esteem. "Looks like you're getting a
zit." "Your legs gave me a friction burn. Time to break out the
Lady Gillette." "What color is your hair supposed to be?" And
the weight ones always worked. "You're really packing those jeans,
mama. I like my women plump." I don't know if I gained any weight
or not but he sure made me feel fat. It made it all better/worse,
sweeter/worse when he fucked me and I could feel how on fire he was,
how hungry he was. He had me staked out where he could take big
hungry bites whenever he got the urge. And I, straight A, Glee Club
Kitty, signed up for it.
(She takes off her blond wig. Her hair is dark and short. She wipes
off her lipstick)
Who am I now? A fat stupid Mexican waitress far from home getting
fucked by a horny little married monkey. Oh Marilyn, Marilyn! I get it
A week or so before Labor Day, Commercial Street is packed. I'm on
my way to meet Frank at a little bar we liked on a side street. I see
him ahead of me near the library. A car comes to a screeching halt and
from two blocks away I can hear a woman screaming.
(With a Boston accent)
"You ugly little piece of shit. You're fucking every whore up here
while I'm watching your kids and sweating my ass off at home.
Don't you even try to deny it, you stupid little gavone. You can
keep your fucking pimply ass up here all year as far as I'm
concerned and if you ever come near me and the kids, I'll cut your
balls off." Mrs. Frank peeled away and Frank, well, he shrank and
wandered toward the bay, getting tinier with each step. The Incredible
Shrinking Mother Fucker. But Mrs. Frank's bitch slap knocked sense
back into me too. I never saw him again. Did he go home with her that
day or is he at the bottom of the Atlantic? Doesn't matter.
They give it to you and they take it away from you. So you develop
other qualities that you can own, like character, a sense of humor.
You keep the pilot light going in your eyes. And you keep your eyes on
the road ahead. Right now my eyes are on the road.
Now, do I seem less pretty to you?
(She takes a deep breath and exhales)
Well, I'm banking on that internal beauty thing to keep me going,
you know? That generosity of spirit and open-heartedness that
transforms every atom of your being and transcends the march of time.
Oh yeah, I'm banking on it and I signed up for a life long supply.
Everything is beautiful
I'm very happy
And so are you.
(She blows a kiss to the entire audience and exits)
END OF SCENE ONE
SETTING: The same jewel box stage with the table and chair.
We hear "I Don't Know Enough About You" sung by Peggy Lee.
LINA enters. She is glamorous, vibrant, and good-looking, wearing a
black pantsuit. As she enters, she looks at audience members on her
way to the stage, to the table and chair. Lina is well-dressed and
has a smart purse. She pays special attention to the men on her way to
the chair. Onstage, she sits in the chair and rifles through her
purse, takes out a gold cigarette case containing Pall Mall unfiltered
cigarettes. She pulls a black cigarette holder out of her bag and puts
a cigarette in it. She looks through her bag for a lighter. She looks
offstage and snaps her fingers.
Give me a light, sweetie.
No smoking in the theatre.
Goddammit! (She puts her smokes away) No smoking in restaurants! No
smoking in bars! What's next? No drinking? No thinking for yourself?
That Goddam Bloomberg, he turned this town into Salt Lake Fucking
City! Oh, the hell with it.
[End of Extract]