The Stand In by Sky Vogel


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


BERNIE (30s-40s) A director of film, television and theatre. A
sophisticated but slightly eccentric man. Witty and playful

BETTY (upper 20s-mid 30s) A lovely, vivacious film star. Smart and

BARNEY (upper 20s-30s) A background actor. Quiet, shy. He may somewhat
resemble Bernie

Time: The time is the present; morning

Place: A temporary rehearsal space or implied exterior location for a
film shoot

At rise we the space, empty except for a small folding table next to a
folding canvas director's chair. It is set off to one side, its back
to the audience. There may also be a couple ornamental items such as
equipment crates and coiled lighting cables to help suggest the scene

After a few moments, BERNIE enters. He is carrying a light jacket and
attaché, a Styrofoam coffee cup, and a script

There is no fourth wall

BERNIE: (slightly flustered but in good humor) Good morning everyone!
So sorry I'm late. Teamsters. Kidding!

He places his belongings on or near the table &chair, though he
maintains a death grip on his coffee cup

BERNIE: (cont'd) We ready to start? Well, I'm ready so I'll
start. You can all jump in when the mood strikes. Let's see, what
are we shooting today? Oh, I know, of course I know. Les scene du
Paree, l'amour, les French kisses, and for all of eet we will need
ze leading lay-dee. So where is our star? Is she ready? (Calling)
Betty, dear? Elizabeth? Is she in makeup? Betty?

BETTY: (off) Coming!

BERNIE: (to himself) Oh, don't tease me.

BETTY enters, a vision of pulchritude

BETTY: Morning, handsome!

BERNIE: What?! Yesterday it was "sexy!"

She approaches him and they peck on the cheeks

BERNIE: (cont'd) Now that puts me in a fine, fine mood.

BETTY: When are you ever not in a good mood?

BERNIE: Love everlasting, we're three days behind schedule, the
weather won't cooperate, my son* has decided to join the Marines -
yay, gun tattoos! And best of all, meaning worst of all, I have a
birthday right around the corner.

*Note: If the actor playing Bernie is not plausibly old enough to have
an 18-year-old son, change this to "kid brother."

BETTY: Oh, poor baby.

BERNIE: Never mind I've got this script to memorize!

BETTY: Well then, you need another one of these.

She kisses him on the cheek again, this time lingering a bit

BERNIE: Careful, I don't think we can afford to get four days
behind. (Out, to the unseen crew members) So, are we ready to have our
director make a damn fool of himself?

BETTY: Oh stop, I think you're a good actor.

BERNIE: Spoken like a good actor herself. Anyway, let's just get
this thing rehearsed, then we'll shoot right after break. Good?

BETTY: Very good.

BERNIE: You're so easy to work with. Remind me to find a place for
you in my next box office bomb.

She giggles

BERNIE: (cont'd) All right, let's try to do this. (Again, to the
"crew") We're going to rehearse for a bit. Do whatever you like,
just be back in 30. (To Betty, while flipping open his script) Now
then, let me see. Yes, the scene has us on the walkway of a city
bridge. Old part of town. Cobblestones, street lamps, a bit of
drizzle. It's chilly, with scarves, hats, people bundled up so not
easy to make out who—

BETTY: Y'know, I so love the sound of your voice.

BERNIE: Easy to, a-hem, make out who anybody is. As for you and me, we
are old lovers, meeting, by chance, in the spot where we first laid
goo-goo eyes on each other, years prior.

BETTY: Great.

BERNIE: So, shall we try it? Let's just try it, see how it goes. All
right, now, why don't I come from over here, and you, right about

BETTY: Oh, Bernie?


BETTY: Your stand-in…

BERNIE: My…oh, of course! Of course, where is my head this morning?
Where is he? (Out, though there's now no one there) Where's our
double? Is he here? Anyone?

BETTY: I was just talking with him. He's right over- There he

She exits

BERNIE: (calling) Sweetheart! Betty, you don't… (To himself)
Beautiful. Dedicated. (Calling again) Betty, see if you can find my
A.D. while you're at it. I'm guessing he's at the craft table
beneath the coffee urn looking like a newborn robin.

BETTY enters with BARNEY in tow. He may be dressed similarly to
BERNIE. He is holding a partially-eaten bagel and is clearly ill at

BETTY: Found him!

BERNIE: There you are! Good morning!

He goes to shake BARNEY's hand, only to find the bagel

BERNIE: (cont'd, aside) Actors and free edibles, isn't it always
the case.

BETTY: Not for me.

BERNIE: Actresses and cigarettes, isn't it always the case.

BETTY: (a little laugh) Sweetie, this is Barney.

BERNIE: I'm sorry…Barney?

BETTY: That's what he said. Between bites.

BERNIE: Ah, yes.

He takes the bagel away from BARNEY and places it on the table

BERNIE: (cont'd) Let's just set this aside for now, I'm certain
it'll keep. Now then…hold on, what is that smell? (He sniffs at
his fingers and reacts, coughing) Is there a reason we have garlic
bagels on the breakfast table?!

BETTY: Oop, wait! Here, I have some mints.

She opens her bag and retrieves a small plastic container of breath

BERNIE: (regarding the bagel he's just placed on the table) Wait, is
that peanut butter?!

BETTY: Here you go.

BARNEY opens the box and attempts to dispense a mint into his hand.
The box rattles as he fails numerous times. Finally, after one
vigorous shake, they all spill out at once. Now with one hand full and
the other holding the empty box, he pauses, chagrined. He lifts his
hand to his mouth, managing to get one inside. After a beat, he offers
the rest to the others. They decline, after which he regards the
impossibility of getting them back in the box, and so puts all of them
in his mouth. After a beat, he gives the box back to BETTY

BARNEY: (garbled) Thank you very much.

BERNIE: Now, now, let's not 'mints' words.

BETTY: Ouch! That's so bad! (To Barney) You're welcome. My

BERNIE: Well, we'll have no more pleasure, it's time to rehearse!
Now then, Barney, is it? Barney, as my stand-in I'll need you to,
well, stand in, in my place at various times during the scene. Also,
there are some moments in the script when you'll need to…well,
let's just say…my god, you smell like a peppermint pizza! Anyway,
let's take one thing at a time.

He leads BARNEY over to the chair

BERNIE: (cont'd) For now, you just stay right over here and watch.

He turns away and walks back to BETTY. As he does so, BARNEY spots his
bagel on the table and starts to reach for it

BERNIE: (cont'd, without looking back) And don't touch that

BETTY: Sweetie, you'll make him a wreck.

BERNIE: You're right. (To Barney) Don't touch that bagel. (beat)
Bevakasha*. (To Betty) Better?

*Please (Hebrew)

BETTY: (with a laugh) Better than nothing, I guess.

BERNIE: All right then, where were we?

BETTY: Our scene, where we—

BERNIE: Our scene, where we bump into each other by chance for the
first time in what has felt like forever. Once in love, messy parting,
lots of unsettled issues. Not a happy place. Are you off book?

BETTY: (mock outraged) Am I off book!

BERNIE: I don't mean to insult. Actually, I was only hoping you
weren't so I wouldn't look so bad next to you.

BETTY: You'll be fine. You're so cute.

BERNIE: Sexy, then handsome, now cute. I'm going backwards!

She giggles

BERNIE: (cont'd) Okay, let's try it. Ready?

BETTY: Ready. Wait, where do you want me?

A beat, as this nearly irresistible double entendre subtly registers
on BERNIE's face

BERNIE: Right. Well, this is "our" bridge, straddling "our"
river in "our" city. Again, let's have you approach from there,
and I'll come from the opposite direction.

BERNIE and BETTY cross to their places

BERNIE: (con't) Barney, you okay over there?

BARNEY: (hesitating, not sure if he's still in trouble) Yes.

BERNIE: Good, glad to have you with us. (Beat) By the way, have we

BARNEY hesitates again

BERNIE: No, no, never mind. (To Betty) Ready?

BETTY: I'm all yours.

BERNIE: Yes, but are you ready?

She giggles

BERNIE: (cont'd) Okay. Give it a moment…and…begin.

BERNIE and BETTY, in character, casually walk towards and then past
each other, neither recognizing the other. After a few steps, she
stops and turns, stunned, watching him. A few steps later, he also
stops. After a beat, he turns and sees her regarding him. There is a

BETTY: Hello.

BERNIE: Hello.

BETTY: Hello. (Beat) Well.

BERNIE: I…I'm…Esther.

BETTY: No, I'm Esther, you're Leon*.

*Per the French pronunciation.

BERNIE: (with an embarrassed laugh) Yes, yes.

BETTY: You're also…also a son of a bitch. (She turns away) You
were, anyway.

BERNIE/Leon approaches her

BERNIE: Esther, please.

BETTY: (to herself) God, I thought I was through with this.

BERNIE/Leon is now directly behind her

BERNIE: Please. Look at me.

BETTY: (turning around, upset) Look at you?! That's all I've been
doing! Whenever I've been shopping, walking my dog, sitting across
from another man over dinner. Even in bed with my eyes closed I
can't stop looking at you!

A beat

BERNIE: (as himself) Good! Let's stop for a moment. That was very
nice. Goosebumps.

BETTY: Thank you.

BERNIE: Now, I want to try something. Barney, would you please come
here? All right, now—wait! Of course, I remember us meeting. Of
course, pre-production. Yes, how have you been? I hardly recognize
you. Thank you for doing your…hair* that. Anyway, let's try
this again. Now, I need you to stand in for me. Walk up to the lady,
just as I did, and play the scene as best you can. You don't have to
say the lines. I'll recite them from where I'm standing.

*The play was first written for two bald actors. You may substitute
"moustache" or "stubble" or whatever works as long as it shows
Bernie to just be at a momentary loss, never mean.

BARNEY: I know the lines.

BERNIE: You do! Really! Hmm! Picked them up like that, eh? Very nice,
I'm impressed. All right, just one moment.

BERNIE turns to BETTY and whispers something in her ear

BERNIE: (cont'd) Yes?

She nods

BERNIE: (cont'd) Good. All right, let's run it.

BETTY and BARNEY cross to their characters' opening marks as BERNIE
sits in his chair

BERNIE: (cont'd) Give it a moment…and… begin.

BETTY and BARNEY enact the movements, as before

BETTY: Hello.

BARNEY: Hello.

BETTY: Hello. (Beat) Well.

BARNEY: I…I'm…Esther.

BETTY: No, I'm Esther, you're Leon.

BARNEY: Yes, yes.

BETTY: You're also…also a son of a bitch. (She turns away) You
were, anyway.

BARNEY: Esther, please.

BETTY: (to herself) God, I thought I was through with this.

BARNEY: Please. Look at me.

BETTY: (suddenly turns and slaps him across the face) Look at you?!
It's all I've been doing…looking at you! When I'm shopping,
walking my dog, sitting across from another man over dinner. Trying to
get to sleep, with my eyes closed, I can't stop looking at you!

A beat

BERNIE: Hold, please. Excellent! Yes, I like that. Very much. What do
you think?

BETTY: Yeah, it works! More dynamic. Pronounced. I think it shows my
pain is really significant. But, well, is it maybe a little

BERNIE: No, it's just right. Your holding back internally even while
letting loose physically balances out. Plus, to look at you, it's
not something we'd expect. A surprise. A shock.

BETTY: Yeah, I like that.

BERNIE: Good? Okay, let's go on. (To Barney) Thank you, my friend.
You can wait over there again.

BARNEY crosses back to the chair

BERNIE: (cont'd, to Betty) All right, reset. We're here on the
bridge. You've just walloped me. Ready?

She nods

BERNIE: Give it a moment…and…begin.

BETTY: Look at you?! It's all I've been doing! When I'm
shopping, out walking my dog, sitting across from another man over
dinner. With my eyes closed, trying to get to sleep, I cannot stop
looking at you!

BERNIE: I'm so sorry. I can't tell you.

BETTY: Sorry?! You're sorry?!

BERNIE: Yes! Yes, of course I'm sorry! It's…it's been
terrible, and sad, knowing you would never know what you meant to me.

BETTY: You make me sick! Your lies, your deceit, your cheating. I
wouldn't believe you if you told me it was morning and we were
standing on a bridge in Paris, France!

BERNIE: (as himself) Hold it! Hold it, sweetheart.

He whispers something to her. She nods. He motions to BARNEY

BERNIE: (cont'd) Barney, my friend.

BARNEY hesitates a beat, then crosses to the others

BERNIE: (cont'd) Once again, let's go back. I need to see
something. (To Barney) Help me out, please. All right?


BETTY: I just realized something.


BETTY: The two of you. Bernie, Barney…

BARNEY: Betty.

A beat

BERNIE: Blimey! Okay, let's try it.

BETTY and BARNEY take their places

BERNIE: (cont'd) A moment…and… begin.

BETTY: It's all I've been doing, looking at you! When I'm
shopping, out walking my dog, sitting across from another man over
dinner. With my eyes closed, struggling to sleep, I cannot stop
looking at you!

BARNEY: I'm so sorry. I can't tell you.

BETTY: Sorry?! You're sorry?!

BARNEY: Yes! Yes, of course I'm sorry! It's…it's been
terrible, and sad, knowing you would never know what you meant to me.

Suddenly, she spits in BARNEY's face

BETTY: You make me sick! Your lies, your deceit, your cheating. I
wouldn't believe you if you told me it was morning and we were
standing on a bridge in Paris!

BERNIE: Hold, please. Excellent! Bravo!

BERNIE's focus is on BETTY, which means he ignores BARNEY, though
not intending to be dismissive. BARNEY, understanding his place,
retreats, wiping his face with his sleeve

BETTY: Yeah, it really takes it up a notch. It's exciting!

BERNIE: The stakes are raised.

BETTY: I love it!

[End of Extract]


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