Price of Admission by Christina Hamlett


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


      CAST OF CHARACTERS

      CASSIDY WESTFIELD - a high school senior
      CLAIRE WESTFIELD - Cassidy’s mom
      BLANCA - the Westfields’ middle-aged housekeeper
      CONNOR HAYES - Cassidy’s boyfriend
      DULCE HERNANDEZ - a high school senior
      MARU HERNANDEZ - Dulce’s mother
      ESTELA GARCIA - a middle aged customer and friend of Maru
      MRS. WOO - an Asian grandmother
      ANTHONY WOO - a high school senior and Mrs. Woo’s grandson
      VANESSA DRAKE - mother of one of Cassidy’s classmates
      CARLTON HAGUE - a college admissions director
      ALLISON DEVERAUX - an FBI agent
      BEN OSBORNE - an FBI agent
      SABINA DRAKE - a high school senior

      CIRCA AND SETTING: Present-day Los Angeles

      SET DESIGN: All action transpires on a single set with three distinct
      staging areas, the largest being the living room in the center. Each
      space is illuminated only when a scene is taking place; the rest of
      the stage is in darkness.

      Stage right is the office of the college admissions director and
      should be set farther downstage to distinguish it. Door stage right.
      Its upstage wall features framed awards and certificates. There is a
      desk, desk chair and two visitor chairs.

      Stage left is a small taqueria; it, too, is set farther downstage. Its
      upstage wall contains a festive menu board. There is a counter with
      two colorful bar stools and a cash register.

      The main playing space in the center is the upscale living room of a
      home in Los Angeles. It contains a love seat, coffee table, wing
      chairs and an upstage credenza with a large arrangement of flowers in
      front of a floor-to-ceiling window that looks out on blue skies and
      palm trees. On either side of the window are arched open doorways.
      Expensive art adorns the walls.

      AT RISE:

      CASSIDY and her mother CLAIRE enter, laughing, from the upstage right
      doorway. They both wear oversized dark glasses and each carries
      multiple shopping bags from designer boutiques. Both are trim, tan and
      fashionistas. Exhausted, they plop their bags on the floor and plop
      themselves onto the furniture as they remove their dark glasses.

      CLAIRE
      Was there any shop we missed? I swear Rodeo Drive will have to
      completely restock!

      CASSIDY
      You’re the bestest, bestest mom ever!

      CLAIRE
      Oh Cassidy honey. You’re not just saying that because I bought you
      three more pairs of Jimmy Choos?

      CASSIDY
      Well duh. It’s not like I didn’t really, really need them.

      Claire reaches into the nearest bag and pulls out a designer shoe.

      CLAIRE
      Ulterior motive actually. We do wear the same size. I can wear these
      to the Langhams’ party next weekend.

      Cassidy goes to playfully grab it back as BLANCA, the housekeeper,
      enters from the upstage right doorway.

      BLANCA
      Excuse me, Senorita Westfield. Your young man has been waiting in the
      kitchen.

      CASSIDY
      Oh cripes! Was that today?

      CLAIRE
      (amused)
      Leave it to a growing boy to always hang out where the food is.
      CASSIDY
      (to Blanca)
      Well, don’t just stand there like a cow in the headlights. Tell him to
      come on in.

      Blanca exits.

      CLAIRE
      Why do you always have to be so mean to Blanca? She’s been with us
      almost all your life.

      CASSIDY
      (rolls her eyes)
      She’s just the help, Mom. Why do you always have to go on about it?

      CLAIRE
      She’s practically family, darling.

      CASSIDY
      Then how come you never take her shopping?

      Before Claire can answer, CONNOR enters. He’s straight from Central
      Casting as a blond, buff athlete whose usual accessory is probably a
      surfboard.

      CONNOR
      Hey, Cass. Hey, Mrs. Westfield.

      Cassidy bounces up to give him a hug.

      CLAIRE
      Connor, dear. I hope that housekeeper of ours didn’t leave you to
      starve.

      CONNOR
      Uh—not at all. Thanks.
      (to Cassidy)
      Did you forget or what?

      CASSIDY
      Of course not, silly. It’s just that something came up.

      He glances at the shopping bags.

      CONNOR
      (with a smirk)
      Yeah, let me guess.

      CLAIRE
      (pats the love seat)
      Come sit, Connor. I want to hear all about what you’ve been doing.

      CONNOR
      Nothing much really. Just—

      CLAIRE
      Cassidy told us all about your getting a little scholarship.

      CASSIDY
      A full scholarship, Mom. They’ll be paying for everything.

      CLAIRE
      I bet you can’t wait to get there and play football every day!

      CONNOR
      Not exactly every day, Mrs. Westfield. I’ll have to be in classes,
      too.

      CLAIRE
      Oh pfffft! What difference does it make? Once you turn pro and start
      piling on all those luscious endorsements, you’ll never have to work a
      day in your life.

      CASSIDY
      Connor’s hoping to go into sports medicine after graduation.

      CLAIRE
      Yes, well I suppose that’s nice, too.

      CONNOR
      It’ll only happen, though, if I can keep up my grades. If I drop below
      a 2.3 GPA, I’ll get kicked out.

      CLAIRE
      Oh, sweetie, what a gullible boy you are.

      CONNOR
      ‘Scuse me?

      CLAIRE
      It’s just numbers, and numbers can be fixed any way we want. Take
      Cassidy’s father, for instance.
      (shakes her head)
      He was a total dunce when I first met him but he had the brawn to get
      into a school that was sheer legend for its football team. Well, his
      coach knew the best chance they had with another turn at championships
      was to keep Dwight playing.
      (laughs)
      I don’t think I have to tell you how that worked out.

      CONNOR
      (a bit aghast)
      He cheated on his tests?

      CLAIRE
      Of course not! He didn’t even take tests, not when he could pay
      someone else to take them for him and score brilliantly.

      Blanca enters from upstage with a tray containing a pitcher of
      lemonade and glasses. She moves to put it on the coffee table and pour
      them beverages.

      CONNOR
      Respectfully, Mrs. Westfield, that still sounds like—

      CLAIRE
      Like what? There’s no harm in pulling a few strings or even weaving
      them into an entire tapestry.
      (indicates living room)
      Does it honestly look like anyone got harmed in the making of this
      lifestyle?

      CASSIDY
      (laughing, to Connor)
      Don’t answer that or you’ll be stuck here all day. Want to go
      swimming?

      CONNOR
      Um—okay, sure. Oh hey, before I forget, have you gotten your SATs
      yet?

      CASSIDY
      Huh?

      CONNOR
      Shouldn’t they have come by now? Trish and Danny got theirs last
      Friday.

      CASSIDY
      I don’t know. Mom, have my SATs come yet?

      CLAIRE
      I’ll have to check with Blanca, sweetie. She’s the one who brings in
      the mail.

      Noticing Blanca as if for the first time.

      CLAIRE
      Speaking of whom—

      BLANCA
      Si, Senora?

      CLAIRE
      Have you seen an envelope from the College Board?

      BLANCA
      The mail has not yet arrived today, Senora.

      CLAIRE
      Well, keep your eyes peeled. It’s very, very important. Comprende?

      BLANCA
      Si, Senora.

      CONNOR
      (to Cassidy)
      Nervous?

      CLAIRE
      Why should she be nervous? I have the most brilliant daughter on the
      planet. Her test scores are going to fly off the charts.

      CASSIDY
      Oh, Mom. You’re just biased.

      CLAIRE
      Absolutely. It’s a mother’s right to brag.

      Cassidy snaps her fingers at Blanca and points at the tray.

      CASSIDY
      Blanca! Bring the lemonade.

      As Cassidy and Connor exit through the upstage left doorway, Blanca
      picks up the tray. Claire’s cell phone rings.

      CLAIRE
      Hello?

      Her demeanor changes. Glancing over her shoulder, she moves downstage.
      Her voice drops as she speaks confidentially.

      CLAIRE
      In the first place, I’ve asked you not to call. We have a professional
      arrangement and there is no need whatsoever for you to remind me of
      it. And in the second place—no, do not interrupt me. In the second
      place, you’ll have the balance in your account when I see the test
      scores, and not a moment before. Is that clear? Good. I’ll expect them
      to be to my highest satisfaction. This is, after all, my daughter’s
      future we’re talking about ...

      Blanca exits through the upstage left door but we know she has heard
      every word of the one-sided conversation.

      The lights go down on the living room.

      SFX: Lively Mexican music which fades as the conversation gets
      underway.

      The lights come up downstage left. MARU is at the cash register as
      daughter DULCE sets a large plastic bag on the counter. Their
      customer, ESTELA, has parked herself on one of the stools as she
      awaits her order.

      DULCE
      (reading off a list)
      That’s ten tamales, ten soft chicken tacos, a double order of rice and
      a double order of frijoles. Have I missed anything?

      Estela laughs, shakes her head and opens her purse to pay.

      MARU
      Ten and ten? Your boys are hungrier than usual, amiga!

      ESTELA
      Not for the familia this time, Maru. Carlos—my youngest? It is his
      first day on a new job.

      MARU
      ¡Qué bueno!

      DULCE
      What will he be doing?

      ESTELA
      He will be helping to build houses.
      (off takeout bags)
      Food this good will make him popular with others at the construction
      site. He will make more friends than he can bring home!

      MARU
      But then they’ll expect him to bring them lunch every day!

      ESTELA
      Would that be such a bad thing for you and Dulce? You’ll be up to your
      ears with so many orders to fill!

      DULCE
      (curious)
      Since when did Carlos ever have to use food as a bribe to friendship,
      Senora Garcia? Everyone already likes him for his kindness and his
      sense of humor.

      ESTELA
      Trust me, little one. Since when did anyone ever walk away from your
      mama’s delicious tamales?

      MARU
      They are mostly Dulce’s tamales now.

      DULCE
      Mama is an excellent teacher.

      MARU
      (hugs Dulce)
      And my beautiful daughter is a natural in the kitchen.

      ESTELA
      Such a blessing! What would you ever do without her?

      MARU
      In a few months, I’m afraid I’ll have to figure that out.

      ESTELA
      What happens in a few months?


      DULCE
      Now, Mama, we don’t know for sure—

      MARU
      (proudly)
      Dulce has applied to several universities out of state. We’re waiting
      to hear back any day now.

      ESTELA
      Carlos is taking night classes at the community college. Maybe you
      could do something like that and still live at home.

      MARU
      My little bird has to leave the nest someday, Estela. As long as she
      is happy in her studies, I will find a way to manage.

      ESTELA
      Then my fingers will be crossed for both of you.

      She picks up the bag and, waving goodbye, exits stage left.

      DULCE
      You know, Mama, it’s okay with me if I don’t get in. I really love
      working here with you and if they decide I’m just not—

      MARU
      What sort of loco talk is this? You have loved school from your very
      first day. Do you remember when we went on the bus and you felt so
      grown up that you didn’t want me to walk you to the classroom?

      DULCE
      (laughs)     
      I was only pretending I felt grown up. Deep down I was terrified.

      MARU
      And yet the second day you couldn’t wait to go back! Do you remember
      how you even wanted to go on Saturday and I had to tell you that no
      one would be there again until Monday?
      (beat)
      I think you will like your time at university just as much.

      DULCE
      But if I get the school I really want, it’s clear across the country.
      We can’t ride the bus together on my first day.


      MARU
      (smiles)
      I am the boss of me. I can always take a few days off.

      They laugh and hug as the lights go down stage left.

[End of Extract]


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