Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Class Action and the Cantaloupe (My stab at writing a play...)

Act One

The scene opens with darkness and the sounds of silence: a wind blowing. It fades to nothing and as it does, a spotlight, growing in intensity, falls on a solitary figure sitting on a chair, surrounded by blackness, and facing the audience.
Shadows fall over his eyes, giving an almost haunted expression. The figure is dressed in jeans and a collared shirt with some red in it. He’s 34 and balding.
There is a pregnant opening silence lasting 10 seconds or more.

Zick: (speaking sternly, and sharply, and raising and pointing his finger into the bosom of the audience) I know what you’re thinking. And you’re wrong. I’ve thought about this, and I’ve thought of all the questions you’ve already asked me, and the one’s you’re about to ask. I still intend to go through with this.
Lawyer: (the lawyer is merely a very deep baritone voice, somewhat Godlike – like Brando in Superman - emanating from within or behind the audience) Have you spoken to anyone else about this.
Zick: (answering quickly, enthused, activated, and energetic) I’ve spoken to my girlfriend – well, she’s my ex girlfriend now, but we talked about it.
Lawyer: (grim) And what did she say?
Zick: (wryly) She said, ‘You can’t hate the whole world, Zick.’
Lights extinguish for 3 seconds. They light up and:

Now Zick is sitting in the same chair but turned away, his back to the audience, but now he has long hair, fingering car keys. One arm covers the length of the top of the sofa. Twirling them around a finger as his girlfriend sits, on a chair, her left side facing the chairs backrest, her right side facing a desk – apparently she is doing schoolwork. She is in uniform. The TV murmurs in the background. They glance at each other and then to the TV.

Zick: (casual, and with an imbedded kindness, softness and love for the person he is speaking to) Why do you think I hate the world?
Pam: (Flicking black curls off her shoulders, sounding irritated) What do you think people at my school would say if I took my class to court? You just don’t do that.
Zick: (measured irritability in his voice) Well see, I’m not at school.
Pam: (shaking her head) So?
Zick: (a slight plaintiveness in his voice now) So it’s different.
He glances at the TV while she stares at him, mouth open. She closes her mouth then sighs.
As he looks at her she glances at the TV.
Pam: I just think – well you don’t care what I think. I just think you should let it go.
Zick: Don’t you think I’ve tried!
Pam: Well try some more. And leave me alone I have to do my homework. I wish you would find something to do. And just smile more. When you’re – you know what they say? When you’re smiling, (sings), ‘When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.’ You’re not smiling. I wish you’d drop this and start smiling.
Zick: (stares at her, while light slowly fades)
Now same as the original scene:

Zick: I think her point was that when you hate the world, it ends up hating you right back. But that’s not it is it? I just want the sweet taste again. I was innocent, and they poisoned me. The water was clear and they polluted it. The world became bitter because of them, and I refuse to say that it’s my fault.
Lawyer: (unrelenting) Then whose fault is it?
Zick: The class of ’89.
Lawyer: Of which you were an integral part.
Zick: Are you accepting this case or not?
Lawyer: Do you know how a class action works, Mr. Van den Hoogenband?”
Zick: Class action? Um…
Lawyer: You will need a number of people to support you. To corroborate your testimony of grievous and lasting damage to your personality property, and your right to a good name.
(Long silence)
Zick: I don’t see how that is possible.
Lawyer: Nor do I.
Zick: Is there nothing I can do?
Lawyer: Do you insist on this course of action?
Zick: (firmly)Yes I do.
Lawyer: Will you not let it go?
Zick: (brightening, even firmer now) Yes, I will not.
Lawyer: Then I will seek adjudication. (Pauses) What do you hope to achieve with this? What do you hope to win?
Zick: That’s a private matter.
Lawyer: It will soon not be. And it may come at a price.
Zick: I’m aware of that.
Lawyer: I hope you know what you’re doing.
Zick: (pleasantly)And I hope you know what you’re doing.

Xander is wearing a cap, and sitting beside a giant canvas, applying oil paint to it. Just the noise of the palette knife scratching against the canvas. Yella is smoking a cigarette and sitting casually in a bathrobe; she’s daydreaming and glances idly at her brother, seeming to make up her mind about something. .
Xander: (holding up a painting for his sister, looks at her)
Yella: (nasal voice) I like it. It’s nice. (she stubs out her cigarette) Listen I want to talk to you about something.
Xander: You mean Zick?
Yella: Did you hear about that?
Xander: Well I can’t believe it.
Yella: Believe it, because it’s true.
Xander: (reconsidering) Well, actually I can.
Yella: He’s mentioned this over the years.
Xander: I don’t why he can’t let go of it.
Yella: Everyone in this family has their addictions. We’re one obsessive compulsive circus.
Xander: I don’t know about this though. This takes looney to a whole new level.
Yella: Have you spoken to him about it.
Xander: He’s suing his matric class. He’s taking his class of ’89 to court. It’s done. He’s served affidavits, the date has been set.
Yella: It’s in today’s paper: Brown Boy Sues Own Class.
Xander: Well, he always wanted to be famous.
Yella: Do you think that’s what this is about. Him wanting attention?
Xander: That’s all he has, and all he’ll ever have.
Yella: We all need attention man.
Xander: (each consecutive sentence becomes less controlled) He’s embarrassing the family. What about my good name; it goes onto my pictures for Christ’s sake. He’s ruining it for me, every day this goes on.
Yella: Are you going to court today?
Xander: It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s got nothing to do with anyone. It’s waste of breath, and of my time. I don’t even want to talk about or think about it. He can go to hell.

(sister appears in the shadows in an otherwise black void behind him. She sits down, and glances from her brother to sweeping the audience, and back)

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