Save the Pier by James Harris
SAVE THE PIER!
West end of the Santa Monica Pier.
At stage left are a counter and two small tables with chairs. At stage
right are a podium and a soapbox.
Randomly scattered people, "PIER LOVERS" and "MEN OF PROGRESS"
stand against the rail, facing the ocean, their backs to the audience.
LUCKY, carrying a fishing pole over his shoulder, enters and addresses
LUCKY: Well hello! Welcome to the Santa Monica Pier!
It's a great place, isn't it? And a great day! (Beat) They're
all great. I am Lucky. (Beat) That's my name. It's true! But "lucky" is
mostly just what I am. Lucky to come here every day. You're lucky
too! It's fun, isn't it!!! And there's something really special
about this old pier… Something "Enchanting".
One by one, the Pier Lovers on the rail turn around to address the
audience. Lucky fades up to the rail, sets down his fishing pole, and
listens to his colleagues, admiring.
COLLEEN: Oh yes, enchanting. Hi, I'm Colleen. And I find the Pier to
LARRY: Hello, I'm Larry! To me the Pier is…
JOAN: "Lovely"! I'm Joan, and I think the Pier is just
GEORGE: George here. If you ask me, the best word for the Pier is
MAYNARD: Hi, I'm Maynard - the bumper car guy.
SHEILA: I'm Sheila.
Maynard puts his arm around Sheila.
MAYNARD: My wife! (Smiles at her, then turns again to the audience)
"Interesting"! My word would have to be "Interesting".
SHEILA: "People". Interesting "People".
MAYNARD: Yes! Lots of interesting people!
PAT: It's really… awesome!
Lucky clears his throat to get Pat's attention. Once he does, he
whispers and nods to Pat.
PAT: (To Lucky) Huh? Oh, I gotcha! (To audience) I'm Pat! And the
Pier's really "Awesome"! It's the coolest hangout for me and
LARRY: It's always been cool for artist and activist-types, too.
DIANA: And fishermen! Hi I'm Diana! Let's don't forget the
fishermen. And women!
GEORGE: The Pier is like… home.
COLLEEN: Oh yes! I lived here, you know! Above the merry go-round.
DIANA: I fished here. Every chance I got!
LARRY: I worked here. A lot of us worked here.
PAT: I surfed here. And worked here. And fished. Heck, sometimes I
even crashed here! I guess you could say that I lived here too!
MAYNARD: We all LIVE here.
LUCKY: It's true. When you really think about it, we all LIVE here.
The Men of Progress turn in unison, casting an air of darkness as they
SCOTT: It's an eyesore.
COUNCILMAN: A blight on the fine City of Santa Monica.
Lucky crosses to them and pushes them aside as he speaks.
LUCKY: Of course, not everyone has loved the Pier.
SCOTT: I'm City Manager Scott, responsible for all matters of this
city, including this pier.
COUNCILMAN: And I am your honorably elected City Councilman. That
would make me Mr. Scott's esteemed boss.
SCOTT: This old pile of scrapwood is in constant need.
COUNCILMAN: It's a terrible, wasteful financial burden! (To Scott)
You should do something about it. Mr. Scott.
SCOTT: What do you propose I do?
COUNCILMAN: Fix it! You're the City Manager. It's your job to fix
The Councilman "washes his hands of it" as he walks offstage.
Scott follows him, frustrated and mumbling.
SCOTT: Fix it? How am I gonna fix this old broken-down pile of sticks.
It's nonsensical, unimaginable…
Lucky watches them exit.
LUCKY: Some don't see it as being so special, I guess. And that's
how we almost lost it… That's right, this very place your standing
on was almost destroyed. On purpose!
He crosses in front of the Pier Lovers.
LUCKY: And these fine folks, along with many, many, many others, saved
it. They saved the Pier!
The Pier Lovers nod, pat each other on the back, smile.
LUCKY: It made for a great story too! With heroes and villains. Cheers
and boos. Oh, I love the story of when they saved the Pier… (To the
Pier Lovers) Let's tell it, shall we?
The Pier Lovers all boisterously approve.
LUCKY: Hooray! Oh, you're in luck! We're going to tell you the
story about these folks saved the Pier! So sit right back and we'll
all tell you the tale!
He nods to the Pier Lovers and they scurry to the counter and tables
to prepare. George exits altogether. Diana returns to her spot on the
stage right rail facing the ocean, fishing.
LUCKY: Now, let's see… Where to begin… It was way back in
1972… Once upon a time… Ah! I know! Here's how I best remember
it. And it's all got to start at a place called Al's Kitchen and
with the fella who was the mastermind behind it all, a guy named
Diana takes notice of what Lucky has just said and shouts to Lucky.
DIANA: Hey! What'd you say about "mastermind" to save the Pier?
LUCKY: Ah, Diana! I was just telling these folks here about Jack, down
DIANA: And what about me? Aren't you going to tell them about me? Or
did you forget?
LUCKY: N-n-no, Diana. I didn't forget. It's just that-
DIANA: Just what?
LUCKY: Well Diana, you never hung out at Al's.
DIANA: That's right, I didn't.
LUCKY: You were always out with the fisherman, rallying them up.
DIANA: And everyone else who came within earshot!
LUCKY: Yep. That's true. You were always good at that.
DIANA: And I am a mastermind!
LUCKY: Yes, you are! But you see, I had to start the story somewhere,
so I chose Al's. I'll get to your part, I promise.
DIANA: Alright then.
LUCKY: Besides, I know how you like to fish, so I thought you'd want
a little time-
DIANA: Are you gonna tell them how I learned to fish?
LUCKY: Well no, I-
Diana leaves her fishing pole at the rail and crosses downstage to
DIANA: Oh you've got to! Wait, let me tell it. I'm a better talker
than you anyway.
She nudges him out of the way, then addresses the audience.
DIANA: Fishing. I love fishing! Now, do I look like a fisherman? Heck
no! I'm a woman. Right? A fisher-woman! And don't you forget it!
Now, like I said, I love to fish… But it wasn't always that way.
Oh no! I used to come down to the Pier just to walk out over the
ocean, take in all the beauty. It's always peaceful, you know. No
matter how busy it gets, it's always peaceful… Good times… Well,
one day I'm walking down here, minding my own business, when this
crusty old fisherman - Smoky was his name - (to Lucky) Remember
LUCKY: Yeah, I remember him.
DIANA: Good. Here, you be him for a minute.
DIANA: Be Smoky! Come on, help me tell the story! These people want to
see story, not just hear words!
LUCKY: Oh! Okay.
DIANA: Well Smoky comes up to me and asks me if I want to learn how to
She motions to Lucky, who slowly catches on.
LUCKY: Um… (Affecting a growly voice) Hey little lady. Wanna learn
how to catch a fish?
DIANA: "Fish? Me?" I said to him. And before I know it he's got
one big smelly hand on my shoulder…
She waits for Lucky, then finally grabs his arm and puts his hand on
Lucky catches on, helping her act out the rest of the story.
DIANA: And his other grimy, filthy paw handing me a fishing pole. Then
he turns me to the water and helps me cast out maybe twenty feet or so
and tells me:
LUCKY: Now you wait.
DIANA: So I waited. And you know what happened next?
LUCKY: You caught a fish.
DIANA: No, I did not catch a fish. Not a single bite all day long. But
let me tell you - I was hooked! Yes, I know that's a pun, but I
gotta tell you, that's the way it was! There is nothing like the
anticipation, the hope and yet, still, the peace. It's the most
amazing feeling - exciting yet gentle. That's what I love about
fishing. And that's what I love about this pier! And that's why I
had to save it.
She smiles, proudly, then returns to her spot at the rail, giving
orders to Lucky as she goes.
DIANA: You can continue with your story, Lucky.
He addresses the audience.
LUCKY: That was, uh, well, Diana. Of course. Isn't she something?
He looks over his shoulder, toward her. She's fishing.
LUCKY: Now let's see, where were we…
Scott abruptly enters, carrying a large sketch pad. He looks at Diana,
then at Lucky, and shakes his head. He is oblivious to the Pier
Lovers, but they certainly see him!
PIER LOVERS: (Softly) Boo! Hiss!
Scott continues toward the pier rail and sits on a bench, facing the
LUCKY: (To the audience) The City Manager. Remember?
Scott opens the sketch pad and begins drawing as the booing subsides.
Jack enters, walking aimlessly.
JACK: (To the audience) Hi, I'm Jack - the guy they warned you
He observes Diana.
JACK: Any luck today?
DIANA: Not even a nibble, but I feel a whopper coming on!
Jack smiles, then observes Scott and crosses toward him close enough
to get a peek at what Scott is drawing. Scott senses him and pulls the
sketch pad close to his chest.
JACK: Whatcha doing?
JACK: Whatcha drawing?
SCOTT: None of your business.
JACK: I see…
I was just curious, you know. But I respect your secrecy. I always
respect an artist!
SCOTT: (Disdainfully) Artist?! Oh, I am not an artist.
JACK: You don't have to be modest. Art is very personal.
SCOTT: Well, I wouldn't really call it art. It's just an idea
I'm working on.
JACK: Isn't that what art is? Sharing ideas?
SCOTT: This is something bigger. Something more important.
JACK: More important? Than art?
SCOTT: Absolutely. It's the future. It's progress!
JACK: Progress? You're kidding me.
SCOTT: I kid you not.
JACK: Well, this I've got to see! May I?
He nods toward the sketch pad. Scott is hesitant, sizes Jack up for a
SCOTT: I suppose so.
He opens the sketch pad and shows Jack his work.
JACK: Say, that's pretty good. How can you say you're not an
SCOTT: (Flattered) Well, not by trade.
JACK: It's like a floating city, isn't it?
Scott's pride begins to swell.
SCOTT: It's an island.
JACK: Yes, yes it is!
SCOTT: It's a paradise.
JACK: It's a metropolis.
SCOTT: Yes! A fantastic man-made island with a metropolitan paradise
floating right out there!
He points to the water just beyond the pier.
Scott smiles, pleased with himself
JACK: Too bad it'll never work.
JACK: It would ruin the great ocean view! Nobody wants to look at a
Scott slams his sketch book shut, sizes Jack up once more as his
frustration mounts, then storms off, exclaiming:
Jack smiles, satisfied with his exchange.
LUCKY: So, that's Jack. The guy I was telling you about!
Jack crosses into the cafe, nods with a cool gesture to acknowledge
the audience, then sits on a stool, sips a cup of coffee and reviews
LUCKY: He was the manager of a great little greasy spoon on the Pier
called Al's Kitchen.
Larry, Pat, and Joan gather at the counter while Colleen, Maynard and
Sheila sit at the tables.
LUCKY: Now ya see, Al's was one of those places that didn't look
like much on the outside. But it's the kind of place that, when you
walked inside, you were likely to hear people talking about politics,
or art or some other intellectual stuff. There were famous people too!
With names like Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda and Joan Baez hanging out there
talking over coffee. Sometimes you could hear a cantankerous ol' guy
named Bukowski recitin' racy poems full of lusty women and salty
The scene is set. The cooks - Pat and Larry - and Joan are behind
the counter. Joan is at the register. Colleen sits alone at one table.
Maynard and Sheila, a married couple, share another.
LUCKY: The place was owned by a sweet, lovely woman named Joan.
LUCKY: How's the coffee today, Joanie?
JOAN: Nice and hot!
LUCKY: Joanie was great. Started as a waitress when she was young,
ended up buying the place!
JOAN: Order! Order!
JOAN: Let's see, we need two eggs scrambled with bacon and…
JOAN: I can't quite read it. Let me get my glasses.
Without even looking at the ticket, Larry answers.
JOAN: Yes, toast! (To the audience) Isn't he amazing? (To
PAT: Right on!
JOAN: (To Larry) Thank you again, Larry.
LARRY: You're welcome.
JOAN: Aren't you about due to take your break?
LARRY: I am, thanks! Quick cup of coffee before I go?
JOAN: Is it hot?
LARRY: Of course!
JOAN: Good. You know how I like my coffee hot.
Larry hands her a cup of coffee, then searches the counter for
LARRY: Anyone seen today's-
Jack holds up a rolled newspaper.
LARRY: -newspaper? Thanks Jack!
He sits beside Jack and begins reading.
George enters, distraught, searching the room for someone in
particular. Maynard spots him right away and flags him down.
MAYNARD: George! Over here!
George joins Maynard and Sheila at their table. Joan recognizes George
from the register.
JOAN: Good morning, George!
George politely waves to Joan.
GEORGE: Sheila, Maynard! I'm glad you're here.
SHEILA: You look terrible. Are you feeling alright?
GEORGE: Why, haven't you heard the news?
MAYNARD: What news?
GEORGE: What news? What news! It's the island!!!
GEORGE: The 35-acre man-made resort island - right out here in the
SHEILA: You must really not be feeling well, George. That's old
MAYNARD: She's right. That old island project was shot down by the
voters years ago.
GEORGE: I'm telling you, it's back!
He grabs the newspaper from Larry.
GEORGE: It's right here in the paper. "Scott Proposes New Island
Maynard studies the newspaper.
JACK: Funny, the other day I saw a guy out at the end of the Pier
drawing a picture of an island.
GEORGE: And here's the worst of it!
MAYNARD: (Reading) "The plan calls for the-"
GEORGE &MAYNARD: "Demolition of the Santa Monica Pier".
[End of Extract]