Zelda! Zelda! by Marianne Weber


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

  Time: July 1918

      (Background could show some slides of troops at camp in Montgomery,
      with military music playing.)

      NARRATOR: In 1917 and 1918, thousands of handsome soldiers descended
      upon Montgomery, Alabama waiting to ship overseas to fight. They
      filled dance halls, courted our lovely girls, flew their planes
      overhead and changed our conventional Southern society. Those daring
      soldiers from faraway places and their new jazz music called to ZELDA
      like a siren song. And so, at the dawn of the Jazz Age, the lovely
      belle of Montgomery was on her way to becoming a woman unlike any
      other. She became the flapper, ZELDA!

      Curtain opens. ZELDA is wearing a flimsy slip. She sits before a
      dresser and applies makeup. A Victrola plays a jazz song. Dresses and
      a corset are strewn across the bed. She leans over and inhales the
      sweet scent of roses. She smokes a cigarette and blows smoke toward an
      open window. Outside a group of young men whistle and call.

      Men (unseen) whistle and call: ZELDA! ZELDA! Come out, ZELDA!

      ZELDA rises, picks up a scarf, goes to the window and flaps the scarf.

      She lets it float to the ground as she says: Oh boys, Iím busy.
      Later! Later!

      She laughs, turns the music louder and returns to her preening. She
      picks up a pair of scissors, holds a tress of hair and snips it off.

      She puts down the cigarette, takes a swig from a flask, gets up, holds
      a dress close to her body, twirls about laughing giddily. She dances a
      few steps to the fast jazz tune playing on the Victrola. She pauses
      and looks at herself in the mirror. She tosses the dress aside, then
      picks up the corset and flings it across the room. ZELDA grabs another
      dress, twirls to the music.

      MAMA (MINNIE Sayre) enters, turns off the Victrola and says: Baby,
      people can hear this half way down the block. The Judge will have a
      fit if he comes home and hears this racket.

      ZELDA twirls around with the dress and says: How about this one
      tonight? Itís perfect for daytime parties, but itís rather drab for night.

      MAMA: Oh, but the fabric is soft and pretty. I made one for your
      sister from that same material. You both have a purse and gloves to

      ZELDA: (throws dress on the floor.) It doesnít have any spark.
      MAMA: Picks up dress. Baby, you are enough spark. Look at your pretty
      self. She lays the dress on the bed and holds up the corset. You
      donít have this on.

      ZELDA points at the corset: I hate that thing. Besides, itís too hot
      for a corset. Thank heavens women arenít wearing them so much

      MAMA lays the corset on the bed. She says: Ladies still wear them. If
      itís too hot, take that pretty fan with you tonight.

      ZELDA picks up the fan and fans herself in a coquettish manner, and
      says: Like this. Oooohhhhh, la la la. I could do a special dance with
      this. Iíll be a fan dancer. She dances and flits around.

      MAMA: Tuck it in your purse. A lady never knows when she can use a fan
      in a dramatic way.

      ZELDA: If I use it at all, it will be to cool the sweat off my body
      from dancing.

      MAMA: Baby, donít be indelicate. MAMA spies a tress of hair on the
      floor near the dresser. She walks over, picks it up and says, Why did
      you cut your beautiful hair? You have gorgeous hair, Baby. I know
      women who would kill to have hair as pretty as yours. You donít have
      to do anything to it and it always looks lovely.

      ZELDA in a sing-song manner: I snipped a bit here. Snipped a bit
      there. I may snip a bit more everywhere.

      MAMA: You shouldnít be whacking your hair. Youíll ruin it. It will
      look all chopped off and not at all feminine. .

      ZELDA: Maybe itís time for a new style. Sort of sleek, with bangs. I
      havenít decided yet.

      MAMA spies the cigarette, picks it up then stubs it out. You know
      better than to smoke! You could burn the house down!

      ZELDA: Uh oh. You caught me.

      MAMA: If the Judge catches you, there will be trouble.

      ZELDA: Let me guess. Heíll give the sermon on A woman who smokes a
      cigarette will do anything. Or maybe it will be, (she says in a deep voice)
      Cigarettes are for trashy women.

      MAMA: At least you know how he feels.

      ZELDA: Rules is a better choice of words.

      MAMA: No disrespect, now, Baby.

      ZELDA: The Judge isnít home yet, is he?

      MAMA: Not yet. He called a while ago to say heíd been detained.
      Heís probably finishing his chess game.

      ZELDA: Ha! Or canoodling some hussy.

      MAMA: ZELDA! Donít say such things about the Judge. Where did you
      get such an idea?

      ZELDA: Oh MAMA, Iím just teasing about Old Dick.

      MAMA: I donít like that kind of teasing. Itís disrespectful. And I
      donít like you calling your father Old Dick. When you call him Judge
      itís bad enough.

      ZELDA: Oh MAMA. I know you try to be his opposite, but sometimes
      youíre just like him, you know.

      MAMA: Howís that?

      ZELDA: No humor. None at all. You should lighten up. Laugh more.

      MAMA: The weather is too hot, and Iím tired tonight. Iím not in
      the mood for humor.

      ZELDA: I guess not with the dark shadow waiting to cast his gory glow.

      MAMA: I know the Judge can be harsh sometimes.

      ZELDA: Sometimes, MAMA! Thereís no reasoning with himóabout
      anything. .

      MAMA: Well, this is his house.

      ZELDA: How well I know that. (Sarcastically) Itís good of him to let
      us live here.

      Outside the window, whistles and calls of ďZELDA, Oh, ZELDA! Come
      out ZELDA. The partyís started! Where are you ZELDA?Ē More

      ZELDA goes to the window, leans out and yells, Go on boys, Iím

      MAMA: Baby! Get back in here! Youíre half naked! Youíll be the
      talk of this town.

      ZELDA laughs and turns around and shimmies. I already am! I like being

      MAMA: Daring is hardly the word. This shameful behavior will lead to
      your ruination. Act like a lady!

      ZELDA: Iím not ready to be a lady, all corseted, prim and proper,
      tight as a tick. ZELDA sits at the dresser and applies lipstick and
      fluffs her hair.

      MAMA: You might as well get ready to be a lady. Youíre 18 and itís
      time for you to act like one. Youíll never have any respect in this
      town if you keep this up. You donít want a bad girl reputation. She
      walks behind ZELDA and says, Thatís too much rouge.

      ZELDA: Itís the right amount for evening.

      MAMA: Maybe for hussy-like females.

      ZELDA laughs. Hussy-like! Oh MAMA, what a word!

      MAMA: Can you think of a better word to describe what this is?

      ZELDA: Not really.

      MAMA: I was always good with words. Still am.

      ZELDA: Maybe you ought to do more of what you really like, MAMA. Maybe
      you ought to write more.

      MAMA: I do enough. You children and the Judge have been my life.

      ZELDA: But donít you get sick to death of us? Everythingís the
      same, day in and day out.

      MAMA: Some days are long, but Iím satisfied with the rewards.

      ZELDA: Which ones? The ones where the Judge comes home, eats his
      sandwich and goes to bed, sometimes before sunset.

      MAMA: He gets tired, Baby. He has long days.

      ZELDA: MAMA, didnít you ever feel like you wanted more?

      MAMA: I suppose. When I was young. You know about the time I went to
      Philadelphia and spent several months there during the winter. Oh that
      was a magical time. I read for a part in a play. I was just thrilled
      out of my mind when I was offered a role. I could see the world just
      waiting for me. For me!

      ZELDA: So what happened?

      MAMA: Your grandfather Machen had a fit. He said heíd rather see me
      dead than performing.

      ZELDA: Dead! How awful! Thatís cruel. What did Grandmother do to
      stick up for you?

      MAMA: There wasnít much she could do. She never crossed him.

      ZELDA: Not ever?

      MAMA: Never. He was the leader, and she followed.

      ZELDA pauses, then thoughtfully says: Do you suppose thatís why she
      did it?

      MAMA: You know we donít talk about that.

      ZELDA: Maybe we ought to talk about it. Maybe we ought to talk about
      Grandmotherís suicide.

      MAMA: Oh ZELDA, my MAMA suffered and grieved after your grandfather

      ZELDA: People die every day, and those they leave behind donít
      always go crazy.

      MAMA: My mother was different.

      ZELDA: Well you lost a baby, and you didnít go crazy and kill

      MAMA: I grieved, but I was young, and I had your father to lean on. I
      had hope for happiness ahead. And it came. You children came. Mother
      thought her life was over without her husband. She loved your
      grandfather and she couldnít live without him. She grieved herself
      to death. Some animals do that, you know.

      ZELDA: Maybe itís more complicated than that.

      MAMA: Letís not talk about it. Saddens me. There are times when I
      wish I had a MAMA to talk to.

      ZELDA: Like now, like you and me talking.

      MAMA comes up to ZELDA, hugs and kisses her on her head and says, Yes,
      like now.

      ZELDA: So what did Grandmother do when Granddaddy said you had to come

      MAMA: What could she do? (pauses) I packed my bags and came home.

      ZELDA picks up a few pieces of jewelry, puts on earrings and says:
      Like a good little girl.

      MAMA: Wistfully says, Like a good little girl. I was sad at first, but
      it all worked out. I met your Daddy and fell in love.

      ZELDA: I think Iím more like you were back then, MAMA. I want more.
      Donít you see that?

      MAMA: Iím not blind, Baby. Of course I see that. But ladies have a
      certain path to follow.

      ZELDA, growing anxious, says: I feel likeÖÖ(haltingly) like Iím
      penned in. Like a bird in a cage. She throws her hands into the air
      and says: I want to SOAR. SOAR!

      Judge walks in with scarf in his hands as ZELDA has her hands in air
      and says. If you were trying to soar with this thing, itís a wonder
      youíre still alive to tell it!

      MINNIE jumps up, grabs the scarf. Oh, she must have dropped it. Glad
      you found it. Itís one of Babyís favorites. She hands it to ZELDA
      and says: Here, cover yourself.

      ZELDA slings the scarf over her shoulder.

      JUDGE: I didnít find it. I took it away from some army man parading
      around the yard with it. He was acting the damn fool. He didnít want
      to give it up. I took after him.

      ZELDA: Now that must have been a sight for sore eyes.

      JUDGE: Rather disgusting. I chased him off.

      ZELDA: Judge! You didnít!

      JUDGE: Donít worry. Heíll be back. Probably bring friends with
      him. And another thing,

      ZELDA: What?

      JUDGE: Your behavior! I know youíve been running around with some of
      those army men. Flaunting yourself, acting the fool. I wonít have it!

      MINNIE: Now, now, Judge.

      JUDGE: Hush woman! I want this little Missy to hear what I have to
      say. Baby, youíre going to change your behavior and I mean it!

      ZELDA: But Daddy.

      JUDGE: Donít ďbut DaddyĒ me. Iíve said my peace and I expect
      you to follow it.

      ZELDA: Yes, Daddy.

      MINNIE: Iíll get your sandwich in a few minutes, Judge. Thereís
      some sweet tea waiting for you.

      JUDGE: Iíll go read the paper. I need a few minutes to unwind.
      Iíve had a brutal day.

      Judge leaves.

      MAMA says: I canít believe you threw this beautiful scarf out the

      ZELDA: I said I wanted to fly!

      MAMA: Youíll fly, Baby. Youíll meet a nice boy and get married and
      fill your home with sweet babies, just like I did.

      ZELDA jumps up, puts her hands over her ears and makes a face. Not me!
      Thatís not flying! Iím going to do something. Be somebody.

      MAMA: You are somebody, Baby. Youíre my sweet Baby; youíre a
      talented dancer; youíre a lovely society girl. Oh yes, and a poet.
      Remember your poem that was published? It was a poem about our boys
      going to fight. You have real talent in that area, too.

      ZELDA: Oh yes, Over the top with Pershing. ZELDA chants: ďThey took
      their places in face of death, and waited their turn with bated
      breath.Ē Then repeats it louder: ďThey took their places in face
      of death, and waited their turn with bated breath.Ē

      Outside, more whistles and calls of ZELDA! ZELDA! She goes to the
      window with the scarf and flaps it:

      ZELDA: ďWoooo Hoooo! Later, Boys!Ē She lets the scarf float to the
      ground. More whistles and calls follow.

      MAMA: Come back in here! Shame on you! No lady shows her bosom. Iíll
      tell the Judge about you prancing around half naked. Heíll forbid you to go out.

      ZELDA: You wouldnít do that to me, now would you? Iím a good girl.
      I really am.

      MAMA: Youíre not acting like one. Youíre being naughty.

      ZELDA: Oh, but naughty is more fun. Iím just having fun. Fun like
      you used to have. You did have fun, didnít you?

      MAMA: Of course I had fun.

      ZELDA: Did you and Daddy have fun together, or was he always THE

      MAMA: No he wasnít always The JUDGE as you say. I remember those
      days very well.

      ZELDA: Tell me. What fun did you have?

      MAMA: Oh, we talked, walked. Dined out. Enjoyed each otherís

[End of Extract]