Setting: Blank Stage. Natalie Wood is present. She is stuck in a bubble of limbo, floating in the universe. She is tired… but still very lovely. The atmosphere that is around her is a light dust storm of memories. We hear a radio tuning and hints of news headlines telling the death of Natalie Wood and James Dean. She sits in a chair facing upstage. The dust settles down…
Natalie. I was going to be Mrs. Natalie Dean. That’s what everyone was going to call me. Mrs. Natalie Dean. Wife of the Rebel. (Natalie turns around. Excited to tell her story. Perhaps hitting a cute pose) We met on the set of Rebel Without a Cause. Him and the writer were having a conversation. I don’t know. It seemed nothing less than awkward to me. I thought to myself, ‘he’s cute… but a waste of time.’ As soon as I dismissed him and turned to leave I suddenly heard a noise
(Mooing heard from offstage)
Natalie. A very strange noise.
Natalie. They were acting like cows. I turned my head back around and gapped open my mouth. And he said something like:
(Offstage: Something the matter little lady?)
Natalie. Little Lady. He called me little lady. I’ll always remember that
(Again: Something the matter little lady?)
Natalie. I gained my composure and told him in a sexy angry kind of way “I was always told that cows belonged in barns.” And he said:
(Welcome to Hollywood; just a farm for crazy hay bailers and money grubbing pigs. I chose to be a cow)
Natalie. I knew from that moment it was going to be fantastic. The film. I was so scared to work with Jimmy. He was older than me. I was just a teenager at the time. He wasn’t. But he was so good at making me feel relaxed. Before we went on the set he would do this drunk vaudeville kind of dance. Ha. It was sweet. I would laugh and calm down. He was sweet.
(**Recording from film**
Judy: I love somebody. All the time I've been... I've been looking for someone to love me. And now I love somebody. And it's so easy. Why is it easy now?
Jim Stark: I don't know; it is for me, too.
Judy: I love you, Jim. I really mean it.)
(Natalie pauses. The remembering hurts)
Natalie (Gathers herself). For our first date we had a picnic by the Hollywood sign. Romantic, right? Well, you have to understand he’s a country boy and so he brought a bucket of fried chicken, biscuits, and two root beers. I had half apiece of the chicken and Jimmy… ha… he finished the bucket. Then he… he put the bucket on his head so it covered to just about his top lip and started doing his dumb dance again… he was getting really into it and reached down to pick me up to dance with him. We danced in a circle for a while. Waltzed. Every dance rolled into a ten second laughing suggestion of what the dances were. He was spinning me. He even flipped me on his back. We were just having fun. Being goofy. When he… ha… during it we lost our footing and started rolling down the hill. If you’ve never seen the hill that the sign is on, it’s a big hill- long. Long enough that if you’re rolling down it, like me and Jimmy were, you stop being scared about the rolling. And you start to enjoy the rolling. You stop spinning and the hill starts pressing around you in circles. We stared at each other.
(**Recording from film**
Jim Stark. I'm not gonna be lonely any more, ever, ever. Not you or me.
(Natalie is caught up in this)
Natalie. And he smiled, kissed me on the nose. And then when we got near the end. Everything went back to normal. The hill stood still and we were rolling again. We landed up against a tree and we both laid there and looked up at the stars. Jimmy told me once that if you can count all the stars you see in the sky without stopping or having to start over… you’ll live forever… and never die. I tried. My eyes started to hurt. I rolled my head over and stared at Jimmy… wondering if he remembered anything that happened on the roll down. I stared at him for a long time. Long enough for him to know. He knew. And without him looking at me I heard:
Natalie. Ha. Ha. It’s funny how many times you can have a thought that starts, ‘in that moment’. But… in that moment I knew that jimmy was going to die in a car accident. And that, for only making three films, his death would be one of the hardest losses for us to get through. A group of 4 teenagers in Germany jumped from the top of a building. Killing themselves. The day after he crashed his car. A 46 year old mother had her daughter committed because the little girl cried for 3 weeks straight… nearly dying of dehydration. How did I deal with his death? I never did. I ignored it. Pretending it never happened. Pretended that he had to go somewhere he’ll be right back. As if he left me a letter with instructions on how to lead my life so no one would ever know of us- I married. Divorced. Married again… same guy. One night I was out on a boat with some friends. Looking up at the stars. I tried to count them.
(Jim Stark. Once you’ve been up there you really know you’ve been someplace)
Natalie. I tried so hard to count them all. I got to 97. Then my eyes started to hurt. Then my neck started to hurt. Then my heart… started to hurt. I looked down. My hands were on fire. It went up my arms. It was almost to my face when I jumped into the water to save myself. When I jumped into the water… to kill myself.
(**Recording from the film**
Jim Stark. I woke up this morning, you know... and the sun was shining, and it was nice, and all that type of stuff. And the first thing, I saw you, and, uh, I said, "Boy, this is gonna be one terrific day, so you better live it up, because tomorrow you'll be nothing. You see? And I almost was.)
(Natalie is near tears. This is hard for her)
Natalie. I was going to be Mrs. Natalie Dean. That’s what everyone was going to call me. Mrs. Natalie Dean. Wife of the Rebel.
(Sounds begin. The dust storm gets more violent. Combinations of static and news anchors announcing the death of James Dean and Natalie Wood. Much of it runs together and sounds morphed. It drives to the end as Natalie gets caught up. It’s swirling. Spinning. Rolling down the hill with her. As she did with James. Lost in the memory… She goes to sit back down in her chair facing upstage. Ending just as it began. We realize she is stuck forever)
Natalie. Mrs. Natalie Dean. I was going to be Mrs. Natalie Dean… Natalie Dean… That’s what they were going to call me…