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 Posted: Tue Jan 6th, 2009 05:12 pm
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
Hey, all!

This is a segment from my most recent play Life Lessons with Susan Gail. I had a little trouble with the formatting, so I hope it worked out, and I hope you'll forgive me.

This play is done without an intermission. This is the first ten pages. I had a reading last summer, and got some really helpful feedback, but I'd love to get more critique, and I plan on coming back to it once I finish the first draft of my next play.

Thanks in advance!

~David

Life Lessons with Susan Gail
By David Rigano

Prologue

Susan Gail—really Susan Gail Bronsky—enters holding a cigar and addresses the audience.

SUSAN

Good morning, class. (beat) God, if that isn’t the most obnoxious way to start a day. So, it’s “Career Day,” is it? I’m supposed to tell you something and by the end of class, you’re supposed to know what you want to do for the rest of your natural lives. Good. No pressure.

They’ve told you who I am, right? I’m Susan Gail. I’m Diana’s Godmother. Hi, Diana. How’s your mom? Good. Tell her she owes me. (back to the class) I write books. Without pictures. Has anyone in here heard of me? Oh, your mother loves my books. Well, thank you for not making me feel old.

So, I’m here to tell you all about writing books, because you don’t know about it. You can’t know. I’m the writer. You’re not. I’m the writer. So, let’s talk about writing. (she lights her cigar and takes a puff) Since this is “Career Day” and not “Isn’t it Great to be an Artist Day” we’re going to talk about the business side of things.

What? It bothers you? (indicating her cigar) This bothers you? Well, to answer your questions: 1. Yes, they told me I couldn’t smoke this in here. 2. Fuck ‘em.

Whatsamatter? What grade are they? Seventh? They know the word. They don’t know what it means, but they know the word.

(to the student who complained) Puff, puff, baby.

I’ll start this by saying you won’t all be novelists when you grow up, and that’s a shame. We need more and we need them to be better than most that we have. But, considering the fact that many of you probably won’t be better than most that we have, it’s probably for the better that you won’t all be novelists when you grow up. But, what you’re hear to learn and I’m the one who’s going to teach you, is that no matter where you go in life, it’s always business. I don’t just mean in your career, even though this is “Career Day,” I mean wherever you go. Parties, bars, walking down the street. You are always doing business, and there are bastards in this world who will remember every single move you make. There are times in business and non-business when you’ll want to gently put your fingernail under someone’s eyeball and pop it out, not so it lands on the floor, but just dangles down bouncing off their cheek. But, of course, one can’t do that and then come out with another best-seller, can one? The answer, for those of you with mouths gaping open and drool dripping onto your desks, is “no, one cannot.”

But, this is what they don’t tell you. There’s an art to business. A very delicate art. A dance you must do to make the business work in your favor. Some people treat art like business, when what they don’t realize is that they should be treating business like art.

If you don’t have a “voice” you can’t market yourself. If you can’t market yourself, you’re kaput. Am I getting through? Am I getting ahead of myself? OK, so some people will tell you that the only way to get a book sold is to give your audience what they want. No. Those people are wrong. Those people are idiots. Most of those people are publishers. The way to get a book sold is to give the audience what they don’t know they want. And the only way to do that is to find a voice and stick with it. Until they’ve figured out your secrets. Then, get new secrets. Me? I’ve got plenty of secrets.

Blackout.

Scene 1

Susan is on a talk show hosted by Melinda Sharp. Melinda wears a bright smile and pretends to be droll. Susan gnaws on her unlit cigar.

MELINDA

Well, how exciting is it to have Susan Gail herself here?

SUSAN

I don’t know. How exciting is it?

MELINDA

What wit!

SUSAN

(trying to be cordial) Thank you. I pride myself on keeping it up to form.

MELINDA

This must be something that helps you a lot in your writing, isn’t it?

SUSAN

One would hope.

MELINDA

So, Susan Gail. How are you today?

SUSAN

I guess I’m as good as I’ll be, for now.

MELINDA

Aw. That’s a rather sad way to put it.

SUSAN

We take what we can get, right? (a forced laugh) And how are you?

MELINDA

Thrilled. Thrilled to have you on our show today.

SUSAN

Well, I’m glad to be here.

MELINDA

Thrilled?

SUSAN

Sure.

MELINDA

Good! Well, what I want to dive right into is a few secrets.

SUSAN

Secrets?

MELINDA

Well, you must have secrets.

SUSAN

I suppose I have a few.

MELINDA

And I want to uncover all of them! (to the audience) Isn’t this exciting? (back to Susan) So, most importantly, I want to know the secret to your successful career.

SUSAN

(somewhat relieved) Well, keep on keepin’ on.

MELINDA
That’s funny! I like that! But, please, delve a little deeper. What makes your writing so good?

SUSAN
When I write, I just try to think of situations that would keep me awake if I were the
reader.

MELINDA
Hahaha! (not laughter, literally “Ha, ha, ha!”) How funny!

SUSAN
For you, maybe. I’m serious. If people fall asleep when reading my books, no one will
buy my books.

MELINDA
Well, why would people fall asleep?

SUSAN
They don’t. That’s why I’m so successful. But I’ve read books that have made me
absolutely fall asleep. I’ve read books that make you want to kill yourself.

MELINDA
Oh, because they’re so depressing? That brings me to an interesting point about your own writing—

SUSAN
I don’t care about depressing. I like a good depressing book. Kill my favorite character. Make me feel something to remind myself that there’s blood running through my veins. I’m talking about boring books. If the only way to remind myself that there’s blood running through my body is to take a knife and cut myself open so I can see it, then you, my friend, are doing something wrong.

MELINDA
I… see. Because you’ve had some depressing things in your books.

SUSAN
Of course I’ve had depressing things in my books. If the story starts off happy and stays happy and ends happy, I wouldn’t have to worry about my readers slitting their wrists, I would have done it myself already!

MELINDA
(after an awkward beat) Hahaha! (same as before) So, uh… your latest book. Two for Now. (pause) Let’s talk about it.

SUSAN
Let’s.

Pause.

MELINDA
So. Two for Now. What an interesting title. Did you come up with the title first or the idea first? Or did you just write it all down first?

SUSAN
Many people seem to have decided for me what my books are supposed to be about, so I’ve devoted my career to proving them wrong.

MELINDA
I don’t follow.

SUSAN
They say, “Oh she writes such strong female characters, she must be a feminist.” Or “Oh, she’s written so many books, she’s a hack.” Or “Didn’t she start out writing romance novels? She must be terrible.”

MELINDA
So, you’re not a feminist?

SUSAN
I’m not a hack, either. Hope I haven’t disappointed anyone.

MELINDA
Well, then if you don’t mind me asking, what are you?

SUSAN
An author.

MELINDA
I see. So, the purpose of this book, Two for Now—

SUSAN
Was to tell a story. All of my books are about telling stories.

MELINDA
Well, yes, of course, but I think a woman like Chavonne, your main character, could be very important to many woman, just in terms of—

SUSAN
She’s important to anyone who reads the book. She’s the main character.

MELINDA
But I mean on a grander scheme. She’s an alcoholic, but she wins out at the end. I was curious, however, as to why she didn’t over come the alcoholism—sorry to spoil it for anyone out there.

SUSAN
Because real women don’t overcome alcoholism.

MELINDA
What do you mean?

SUSAN
I mean it’s something you live with. (Melinda opens her mouth to speak) Or else it will
kill you. Or you’ll kill yourself.

Pause.

MELINDA
An interesting point, and a nice segue. You might have a career in talk show hosting!
(Melinda laughs, but Susan does not) Anyway, this isn’t the first time you’ve mentioned… (she has a difficult time continuing)

SUSAN
Yes?

MELINDA
This. And, it appears to be very prevalent in your writing. Is this something you yourself may have dealt with at any point in your life? (Susan doesn’t respond) In the past? (Susan gets out of her chair and walks off the set.) Susan?

Blackout.

Back in Class

Susan talks to the students.

SUSAN
Only you know what you want. No one else does. Remember that. Even now. If your parents ever say, “Are you sure that’s what you want?” say, “Yes!” People who say, “Are you sure that’s what you want?” really mean, “I don’t want you to want that.” You’ll see things you want, and other people will decide you shouldn’t want those things. And if you believe them, then you’ll start censoring yourself. You’ll be judging your characters when they want things just the way other people judge you when you want things. Well, those people are boring, and they’ll make you boring and that will make your books boring. Everyone will do what they “ought” to do, and I will close the book on page five.

So, if you see something you want, and you’re sure you want it, go for it.

Blackout.

Scene 2

Susan packs up her things from a book signing with her editor, George.

GEORGE
So, what’s next on the docket for you?

SUSAN
Late lunch with Leyla.

GEORGE
Say that five times fast.

SUSAN
The two of you need to come over for dinner some time soon. The two most important people in my life and you still hardly know anything about each other.

GEORGE
Well, I’m flattered.

SUSAN
Why?

GEORGE
I’m one of the most important people in your life?

SUSAN
Oh. Only because my books wouldn’t get published without you. I guess they might,
though. I could get another editor.

GEORGE
Well, I’ll look at my calendar when I get home.

SUSAN
Do we have a meeting coming up?

GEORGE
I’ll ask my secretary on Monday.

SUSAN
You had a question about the next book?

GEORGE
Oh, of course. Just a few things I wanted to go over.

SUSAN
There’s not much book to go over, yet, but whatever you want.

A younger man, Raymond, approaches them.

RAYMOND
Excuse me.

SUSAN
Yes?

RAYMOND
I just wanted to say how much I enjoy—

SUSAN
You’re late.

RAYMOND
What?

SUSAN
It’s over. I’ve signed my last book for the day.

RAYMOND
I don’t want you to sign anything.

SUSAN
George, will you tell him he came too late?

GEORGE
Sorry, buddy. It’s too late. Susan has to leave.

RAYMOND
I just wanted to talk.

SUSAN
To talk?

GEORGE
You could have waited on line and said hello then.

RAYMOND
No, I had some questions for Mrs. Gail.

SUSAN
It’s Ms. And if you want an interview, you can call my agent.

RAYMOND
I don’t want an interview, I just wanted to chat.

SUSAN
Chat? George, he wants to chat.

GEORGE
Kid, Susan is busy.

RAYMOND
Can I take you for coffee or something?

SUSAN
Are you asking me out? I thought I was well past going on dates. Listen, what’s your
name?

RAYMOND
I’m Raymond.

SUSAN
Okay, Raymond. Maybe kids these days still go for coffee, but I have to go for lunch with a friend. Old folks like me don’t go on dates.

RAYMOND
You’re not old.

SUSAN
Older than you think, apparently.

RAYMOND
I just mean, we could talk over a cup of coffee.

SUSAN
Before or after my lunch date with Leyla?

RAYMOND
Whenever.

SUSAN
George, how does this sound to you?

GEORGE
Suspicious.

SUSAN
If I wrote it in one of my books, what would you think?

GEORGE
The kid’s gonna get killed.

SUSAN
So, kid. Are you willing to stick around to find out whether or not you’ll get killed?

RAYMOND
I think I am.

SUSAN
He thinks.

GEORGE
You don’t know her like I do, Raymond. You’ve got to be sure.

RAYMOND
Then I’m sure.

She gives George a look: “What do you think?”

GEORGE
How much time do you have before late lunch with Leyla?

SUSAN
Half an hour?

GEORGE
The kid’s sure.

SUSAN
Okay, then. (to Raymond) Where to?

RAYMOND
There’s a Starbucks.

SUSAN
You have much to learn.

They exit as the lights fade.

Back in Class

SUSAN
Who are you in business for? Your boss? The company your boss works for? Remember that they need you. Not more than you need them, but they do need you. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have hired you. So, who are you in business for? For you. Susan Gail, Inc. That’s who I work for. So, if you’re in business for yourself, why should you take crap from other people? They’re in business for themselves, too, right? They’ll tell you they need something. Really, though, they just want it really badly so they can get whatever it is they’re looking for in their business. And if it works with your business, great. But it won’t always. Does this make sense to you?

Any businessman will tell you that it’s all about holding your ground. It’s the same with this. This is “Career Day,” right? Not “I Hope You Like Me Day.” So we hold our ground, even if it makes people dislike us. Especially in this business. Because there’s something resting on the fact that you hold your ground. I’m not talking about things like people’s jobs and corporate bankruptcy and things like that. I’m talking about real things. Big things. If you don’t hold your ground, your book will become mediocre. It won’t be bad. Unless you’re a bad writer. It will become enjoyable, and forgettable. Like a Sunday Afternoon 3:00 Movie on basic cable.

Hold. Your. Ground.

Blackout.

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 Posted: Thu Jan 8th, 2009 02:17 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
David,

This is a great opening...right from the opening visual of her entering the room! (So often playwrights forget about the effect of the visual.)

I love Susan. You define her visually and through the dialogue. You have me very inquisitive about the possibilities of where she is going in the story.

The talk show is terrific. She is a great character, whether she appears again or not. I love the character's name.

The meeting with the young man is neatly set-up. There must be "something" about him that makes her agree to meet with him, and it is there in the dialogue as he "stands his ground."

In ten pages you do a helliva lot to get us to want follow her.

It is also very funny.

You have me wondering how many characters are in the play. And do a few actors play many parts, or do George and Melinda return, and do we meet Leyla? Does George get to go to dinner with Leyla and Susan as suggested? What will happen with the young man?

I would love to see more! That is the best compliment. In fact, I can't wait to see more. I want to turn to the next page!

best,

in media res

Last edited on Thu Jan 8th, 2009 02:23 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Fri Jan 9th, 2009 02:52 am
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Marc-Andre
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Mana: 
Well done, David, you made me laugh, but more significantly you got me hooked and I can't wait to read the rest...Have a marvelous day! Mark

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 Posted: Sat Jan 10th, 2009 04:19 am
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
Wow! I didn't expect that kind of reception from just this much. I realize I should have defined the characters. Here's the character list:

Susan
George
Raymond
Leyla
Melinda/Heather/Receptionist
Cristofero/Waiter/Greg
Ben/Porter


The first four are the only recurring characters in the play, which is why the actors playing them take on just one role. The other eight characters are to be played by three ensemble actors, divided as shown. They each appear (if I'm not mistaken) in one scene each. Since the play is told through a series of vignettes (which break apart the present action of Susan in the classroom) many of those characters are just pawns in her life that help to characterize her. She doesn't let many people in.


I'll post more when I get the chance. Formatting's a bitch, though!


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 Posted: Sat Jan 10th, 2009 04:34 am
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Mana: 
Formatting worked fine.

I don't know what you had to suffer through to get there, however!

Whatever you did, worked well.

Post more.

best,

in media res

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 Posted: Sat Jan 10th, 2009 08:19 am
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muncy
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Mana: 
You're onto a winner David. I'm looking forward to reading more.

Last edited on Sat Jan 10th, 2009 08:22 am by muncy

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 Posted: Tue Jan 13th, 2009 03:36 pm
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
My formatting problem is that the script is formatted on my computer, and the formatting doesn't translate here, so I have to RE-format it so that y'all can read it.

So, I do have time to post some more of the play here today. And after this next batch I have some specific questions for you guys.

I'm SO glad you like her!

~David

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 Posted: Wed Jan 14th, 2009 01:51 pm
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David,

Microsoft Word has always worked okay for me in posting.

If the formatting problems are slight, it won't affect the reading of it.

What are you using?

in media res

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 Posted: Fri Jan 16th, 2009 03:52 pm
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DavidRigano
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Because of how I have it formatted in Word, I have to re-do a bunch of things to make it legible here. I wish there was a way that it could read my formatting and just post that!

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 Posted: Fri Jan 16th, 2009 04:12 pm
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
Next batch, picking up where I left off:

Back in Class

SUSAN
Who are you in business for? Your boss? The company your boss works for? Remember that they need you. Not more than you need them, but they do need you. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have hired you. So, who are you in business for? For you. Susan Gail, Inc. That’s who I work for. So, if you’re in business for yourself, why should you take crap from other people? They’re in business for themselves, too, right? They’ll tell you they need something. Really, though, they just want it really badly so they can get whatever it is they’re looking for in their business. And if it works with your business, great. But it won’t always. Does this make sense to you?
Any businessman will tell you that it’s all about holding your ground. It’s the same with this. This is “Career Day,” right? Not “I Hope You Like Me Day.” So we hold our ground, even if it makes people dislike us. Especially in this business. Because there’s something resting on the fact that you hold your ground. I’m not talking about things like people’s jobs and corporate bankruptcy and things like that. I’m talking about real things. Big things. If you don’t hold your ground, your book will become mediocre. It won’t be bad. Unless you’re a bad writer. It will become enjoyable, and forgettable. Like a Sunday Afternoon 3:00 Movie on basic cable.
Hold. Your. Ground.

Blackout.

Scene 3

George sits at a table in a restaurant, waiting for Susan. Susan enters, wearing large sunglasses. She finds George’s table. He rises and pulls the chair out for her and she sits down.

GEORGE
How are you?

SUSAN
As good as I’ll get, I guess.

GEORGE
I suppose that’s something. (he sits)

SUSAN
George.

GEORGE
Yes, Susan?

SUSAN
I don’t know. I felt like one of us should have said something and it felt like my turn.

GEORGE
Well. (pause) They really like your new draft.

SUSAN
They’d better.

GEORGE
A couple of questions that I have, but we can get to those later.

The waiter arrives.

WAITER
Good afternoon. May I help you?

GEORGE
Oh, Susan hasn’t really had time to look at the menu—

SUSAN
I’m having coffee.

GEORGE
That’s it?

SUSAN
Yes. (beat) I’m not very hungry.

GEORGE
OK. I’ll have the pasta special. So we’re good to go.

SUSAN
Good. (to the waiter) We’re good to go.

WAITER
Very good. (he exits)

GEORGE
Are your eyes bothering you?

SUSAN
No.

GEORGE
Because you’ve still got your sunglasses on. Maybe you didn’t realize—

SUSAN
I know.

GEORGE
Are you going to take them off?

SUSAN
I wasn’t planning on it.

GEORGE
Susan, are you drunk?

SUSAN
What?

GEORGE
I want to know if you’re drunk. You stumble in here, order just a coffee and don’t take off your glasses—

SUSAN
(overlapping) I did not “stumble” in here. When did I stumble?

GEORGE
OK. Then why are you keeping your glasses on inside?

SUSAN
Do I need a reason? Are you my parent or my editor?

GEORGE
Of course you need a reason to be wearing dark glasses indoors.

SUSAN
(under her breath) I don’t feel like getting recognized today.

Pause.

GEORGE
What?

SUSAN
Don’t make me say it louder.

GEORGE
Do you mean that?

SUSAN
Yes. I’m just in no mood today.

GEORGE
Who do you think is going to recognize you?

SUSAN
George, I’m a public figure.

GEORGE
You’re a novelist.

SUSAN
I’m a very successful novelist, George. I think you of all people would recognize and appreciate that. I keep you employed. (he laughs a little) What? What’s so funny? I do keep you employed!

GEORGE
Yes, Susan, you solely keep me afloat. And every Christmastime, my children say grace for you, thanking you for the meals you put on our table.

SUSAN
(hushed frenzy) I write damn good books, and I have been recognized in the past and I don’t feel like it today.

GEORGE
What? Is it that kid?

SUSAN
Kid? What kid? Oh, you mean—no, nothing with him.

GEORGE
Whatever happened to him anyway?

SUSAN
He moved in.

GEORGE
What?

Pause.

SUSAN
I can afford it.

GEORGE
That’s not what I mean.

SUSAN
What do you care?

GEORGE
What do I care? I think you’re hiding from this stalker kid or something, and it turns out he lives at your house!

SUSAN
So?

GEORGE
So, what’s going on? What happened?

SUSAN
Nothing’s going on. Nothing happened.

GEORGE
Then take those off. You look ridiculous and I feel like you’re hiding from me behind them.

She takes them off.

SUSAN
If you’re going to make a scene… Better?

GEORGE
Better. Now, what are you doing? Charity work?

SUSAN
George!

The waiter approaches with Susan’s coffee.

GEORGE
He was bolder than most. He was younger than most. So you go for coffee. Coffee, Susan!

WAITER
Coffee?

SUSAN
Thank you. (the waiter exits)

GEORGE
And then you take him in?

SUSAN
George, it doesn’t mean anything. He’s an actor. Is this really what we came here for?

GEORGE
I wanted to have a civil conversation about your manuscript.

SUSAN
OK, let’s have a civil conversation about my manuscript.

GEORGE
And forget about… (he can’t remember the name)

SUSAN
Raymond.

GEORGE
Forget about Raymond.

SUSAN
So, here I am. Eyes open, glasses off. What do you want to say?

GEORGE
(taking the manuscript from his briefcase) I think—and correct me if I’m wrong—but I really do think you’ve gone too far in the direction of autobiography in this one. Or memoir. Unless that’s what you were going for.

SUSAN
What are you talking about?

GEORGE
(holding the manuscript) I think she’s too much like you.

SUSAN
You think that?

GEORGE
In my candid opinion—

SUSAN
Cut the bullshit polite editor lingo, George. What makes you think that this character is me? And who cares if she is?

GEORGE
I just don’t know if this is the best place for you to be writing from.

SUSAN
My life?

GEORGE
If your audience recognizes this—

SUSAN
People don’t recognize me, George! You just said that!

GEORGE
I mean—

SUSAN
Am I recognizable or not, George?

GEORGE
Susan, you’re not listening.

SUSAN
You’re mad because of Raymond, and you’re taking it out on my characters!

GEORGE
I thought we’re forgetting about Raymond.

SUSAN
Then forget about him and focus on the book.

GEORGE
You’re really not listening.

SUSAN
I’ve heard everything you’ve said, George!

The waiter arrives with George’s pasta.

WAITER
(placing the food down) Is there anything else I can do for you?

SUSAN
Just… go. (he does) George, what’s wrong with her?

GEORGE
It’s just not your best writing.

SUSAN
You don’t like it, therefore you think I based her on me?

GEORGE
I don’t think you have enough perspective on her.

SUSAN
What do you mean? She’s a bitch on ice!

GEORGE
You let her off too easy. You never let your characters off this easy. Why are you being so nice to her?

SUSAN
You think I’m being nice to her? Her life sucks.

GEORGE
I think you’re trying to get sympathy for her.

SUSAN
What do you know?

GEORGE
I’ve been reading your stuff for years, Susan.

SUSAN
So?

GEORGE
I was hoping we’d reached a point where we could talk constructively about your work.

SUSAN
You’re talking destructively.

GEORGE
Why do you want them to like her so much? You always write such strong women who don’t care what anyone thinks. That’s why people like them. You’re trying too hard here.

SUSAN
George. You’re telling me the manuscript is no good.

GEORGE
I’m telling you that this woman has potential. You just need to detach yourself from her.

SUSAN
You’re telling me her circumstances don’t help the book and the character is too weak.

GEORGE
I’m telling you you’re letting her lean on you too much. Just tell a story, Susan.

SUSAN
That’s all I ever do, George! I tell stories. That’s my job!

GEORGE
Don’t get upset.

SUSAN
You make me upset.

GEORGE
I don’t want to. I just want this book to be the best it can be.

SUSAN
It is.

GEORGE
Then I’m afraid it’s not good enough.

Susan reaches across the table, picks up George’s plate of pasta and drops it on the floor, then takes a sip of her coffee.

SUSAN
Check, please.

Blackout.

Back in class

Susan is talking to the kids, puffing on her cigar occasionally.

SUSAN
Secrets. Don’t give them away. For free.
You need an ace up your sleeve. A secret weapon. A… rabbit in your hat, I don’t know. The cliché doesn’t matter. There are people who want to break down your barriers. Who want to discover your secrets. They call it lots of things. Hide their intents in different ways. But all they want is to find that secret place you don’t show.
What’s so funny? Oh, “secret place that…” Glad to see how fast they mature by seventh grade. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, kid. (puff) Think about it.
Secrets are not easy to keep. They’re exciting. They’re fun. Having one is fun. Having one is so much fun, you want to share it, but the second you do, it’s not a secret anymore.
Yes, I said don’t give them away for free. Does that mean there are times when it’s okay to give the secrets away? Depends on the secret. But, yes, if you have something someone else wants, and they have something you want, you find a way to trade so that you both get what you want. And that is a basic principle that our country is built upon.
It’s called dishonesty.

Blackout.

Scene 4

Susan sits at a bar with her friend Leyla and Ben, a colleague.

LEYLA
(laughing) So, Susan says, “Yeah, I’m Susan Gail. What about it?” And he says, “I work in publishing. I remember you from when you used to write romance novels.” And this guy is fucking disgusting looking, so Susan says to him, “I never wrote romance novels.” And he says, “Yes, you did. I remember you.” And she says, “Susan Bronsky wrote romance novels, and I haven’t seen her in years!” (they all laugh)

SUSAN
Where the fuck did she get to, anyway?

LEYLA
I see her around every now and then.

SUSAN
Where?

LEYLA
Your house. (Susan laughs)

BEN
Why did you change it, anyway?

SUSAN
From Bronsky?

BEN
Yeah, why Gail?

SUSAN
Gail was my middle name.

BEN
Still, why?

LEYLA
Why what?

BEN
Why change it?

SUSAN
You, my friend, are very dumb.

LEYLA
People used to think that Susan Bronsky was some fat bitch sitting alone in a studio apartment typing out her fantasies.

SUSAN
They were almost right.

BEN
So, which did you change first, the fantasies or the name?

LEYLA
Or the chicken or the egg? (Susan laughs)

SUSAN
The fantasies never changed. I just realized I could sell more books if I wrote down what I was actually fantasizing about.

They all laugh.

LEYLA
Yeah, Susan isn’t actually a good writer at all. She’s just mastered the art of shock value.

SUSAN
That’s all good writing is. Finding new ways to shock people.

BEN
I don’t know if I believe that.

SUSAN
Then how do you sell books?

BEN
Find characters I like. And play.

SUSAN
Do bad things to them?

BEN
Sometimes.

SUSAN
That’s what keeps a reader. Do something bad, and they’ll wait with you to see if you’ll do something good in the end. See if they’ll get rewarded.

BEN
And do we give them a reward?

LEYLA
No!

BEN
Why not?

LEYLA
The sons of bitches don’t deserve it.

SUSAN
I think sometimes they get a reward.

LEYLA
Sit, stay, roll over.

SUSAN
Good puppy! Here’s a treat!

BEN
I’m glad to see you have such respect for your audience.

SUSAN
I have a great deal of respect for my audience!

LEYLA
Susan loves her audience!

SUSAN
That’s why my audience loves me.

BEN
It works nicely.

SUSAN
Writing can be so solitary. Do you ever find that?

BEN
I do. Quite often.

SUSAN
We have something else in common.

LEYLA
I think I see a friend over there. You two don’t mind if I…

SUSAN
Go right ahead.

Leyla exits.

SUSAN
Remember when you could smoke in bars?

BEN
I guess so.

SUSAN
You don’t smoke?

BEN
No.

SUSAN
Well, that’s okay.

Pause.

BEN
You were saying.

SUSAN
Was I?

BEN
About how solitary it can be. Trying to connect with an audience while you sit in a little box and write. Like unrequited love.

SUSAN
Like what?

BEN
You know. Like that person at the other end of the room who you desperately want to like you.

SUSAN
Writing is like unrequited love… I haven’t thought of it that way.

BEN
Rather… lonesome, I guess.

SUSAN
Lonesome?

BEN
So close and yet so far.

SUSAN
“Water, water, everywhere…”

BEN
“Only in Miami…”

They laugh.

SUSAN
Lonesome is not in my vocabulary.

BEN
No?

SUSAN
I must pick up a dictionary on my way out.

BEN
But you have such a big vocabulary.

SUSAN
Well, I heard that you have a big… vocabulary, too.

BEN
Don’t you think you’re going a bit too far?

SUSAN
Do you?

BEN
Not yet, I guess.

SUSAN
Then not yet. So, explain to me this wonderful lonesome feeling.

BEN
Why are you asking me this?

SUSAN
I want to hear it straight from the author.

BEN
You’re something.

SUSAN
You’re something else.

BEN
You have a reputation, you know.

SUSAN
Oh?

BEN
Who gave it to you?

SUSAN
Characters in books. You nurture them, give them life and they do horrible things to you.

BEN
What I see here is a woman letting her guard down.

SUSAN
I never drink. Wine.

BEN
Dracula.

SUSAN
Good. So?

BEN
So?

SUSAN
So.

BEN
Haven’t you ever had a crush?

SUSAN
They’re unseemly.

BEN
You would see that.

SUSAN
Then, tell me about them.

BEN
You’re a writer.

SUSAN
So are you.

BEN
Okay. It’s the feeling that when someone walks into the room, no one else exists.

SUSAN
Like target practice.

BEN
No, this is different. This is a little less romantic. (Susan laughs) And a little more idiotic. No one else exists because that person is everything. And there’s no reason for it. You can’t explain it, but you need to be near this person. Do you know what that feels like?

SUSAN
No. But keep explaining, I like the way you tell it.

BEN
I think you know more than you let on.

SUSAN
I think you have to if you want to stay alive.

BEN
And you want to stay alive?

SUSAN
Most of the time.

BEN
And the rest of the time? Death?

SUSAN
A little.

BEN
Une petit mort?

SUSAN
(with a laugh) Perhaps.

Raymond has entered and seen Susan and Ben flirting. He approaches the bar. Leyla sees him and intervenes.

RAYMOND
Susan.

SUSAN
What?

LEYLA
Wait.

RAYMOND
What’s going on?

SUSAN
I’m having a drink.

BEN
I’m Ben.

RAYMOND
I see.

LEYLA
Ray, cut it out.

RAYMOND
Cut what out?

BEN
Is everything okay?

RAYMOND
I guess so.

LEYLA
Ray, just go home.

RAYMOND
I guess I will. I’ll see you at home, Susan.

SUSAN
Sure. Don’t wait up.

LEYLA
Fucking kid.

Raymond turns and exits.

LEYLA
He’s hungry, that’s all.

BEN
Who is he?

SUSAN
This kid who likes to hang around me.

LEYLA
He’s nothing.

BEN
Does he live with you?

LEYLA
He mooches, like every other stud in LA.

BEN
Maybe we shouldn’t—

SUSAN
I don’t even know why he still hangs around.

LEYLA
He’s hungry.

Lights fade.

Last edited on Fri Jan 16th, 2009 04:13 pm by DavidRigano

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 Posted: Fri Jan 16th, 2009 04:39 pm
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David,

Still have me. Snappy dialogue appropriate to their jobs.

Couple of new twists.

Did not like the pasta bit. Been done too many times. And think of the clean -up necessary for the next scene. Of course they could MIME it all. That eliminates clean-up.

Thought for a waiter in LA he would have a more a snappy comeback than "Very good." or "Is there anything else I can do for you?" Add some LA so-called "style" to make him a real character rather than a "waiter." I'd find another way to end it. But do not concern yourself with this now. This pasta thing is minor minor minor!

Keep it coming.

best,

in media res

Last edited on Fri Jan 16th, 2009 06:49 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Sun Jan 18th, 2009 04:15 pm
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
I'm intrigued by your comment about the waiter. It's true that right now, he's sort of a prop in the scene, but I don't think I want to make him much more than that. I love the idea of giving him a little more attitude.

Interesting thing about the pasta. Originally, when I started the scene, I was going to have Susan throw her own plate. Then as I was writing the scene, I discovered that Susan didn't order any food. So, what to do? She grabbed George's food instead. I'll figure out what to do about that.

So, here come my questions: What do you feel about Susan the person? (Not Susan the character, Susan the person.) Are there any moments where you feel like you wouldn't mind hanging out with her? Any moments where you really agree with what she tells the kids? Does she frighten you? Does she remind you of anyone you know?

This is the biggest thing for right now. A lot rides on that. More questions will come later, along with more details you'll find out about the characters.

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 Posted: Tue Jan 20th, 2009 02:23 am
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Don't be concerned whether we "like" the person. Be concerned that we are fascinated theatrically with the character!

Tell her story. Don't get timid.

Do I want to see more? YES!

best,

in media res

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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
I admit I am a bit concerned with whether or not you like her.

But more than that, right now, I'd love to get your impressions of her as a person rather than as a character; like, dislike or anywhere in between. That will give me good ideas as to what more we need to see of her, what people do like about her, what direction possibly to steer her in.

I'm trying very hard to ask my questions without revealing anything about her. I suppose I'll just keep posting and taking the feedback as it comes, and then asking the questions at the end.

Last edited on Tue Jan 20th, 2009 02:51 am by DavidRigano

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David,

If the play is finished in the draft you have it, just keep posting.

You can become too careful in trying to please rather than have your character live in her theatrical setting.

Don't sweat what anyone thinks at this stage. You will have ample time to write and re-write. That is what this Forum is all about. Use it. This is not a class in school where you are looking for an "A" and hope to please the teacher. This is a working Forum for playwrights. Have some fun. Dare.

She is a terrific character and I want to see what happens next. What more can a writer ask for?

Since you are new here, no one is going to figuratively beat you up if we don't like something. We are here to give you an honest reaction/perception and then you do what you want with the critique.

Do I like her?! Do I like Lady Macbeth? No! Do I like Mary Tyrone? No! (But I pity her.) Do I like Amanda Wingfield? No. Do I pity her and am I fascinated by her? Yes. Do I like Blanche Dubois? No. Do I feel for her, and pity her? Yes. Am I fascinated by them all? Yes.

It is kind of like an actor wanting to be liked on stage. You can't worry about it, you just have to play the part. Those who want to be "liked" don't last long. Because they never hit the nail on the head of the character.

The best comment an actor can get after a performance playing a despicable character in certain plays is "I hated you!"

So, let Susan Gail live. Don't put her in therapy/analysis too soon with us.

What is happening with the young man she meets? Will he get the better of her? Will he break her heart? Will she eat him alive and spit him out in little pieces? Will all her tough talk turn out to be a sham?

Does any of this make sense to you? Or am I just babbling?

Post more!!

best,

in media res

Last edited on Tue Jan 20th, 2009 02:50 pm by in media res

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muncy
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David

I agree with everything imr said.

There is a so called 'golden rule' that every drama has to have someone in it that the audience will identify with and I think that you want this to be Susan which is why you are concerned about whether we like her. Firstly, I don't believe that rule applies in a well written drama, and this is a well written drama, and secondly I've seen enough in Susan already for me to admire her and that is enough. If she were a real person? Well, I would certainly want her to be in my group of friends, for the entertainment value if nothing else, but I think I would be a little afraid of her; knowing that she could destroy me if she wanted.

As imr says, if you have already completed a draft of this please post the whole thing before you start making any changes.

This is the best thing I've read in ages, looking forward to reading more!

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Mana: 
Thank you for allaying some of my fears. Thank you, also, for your insight as to Susan as a person. (I'm really not that concerned that you "like" her, but I'm always concerned with my audience's feeling of my characters as people more than characters.)

Here's the next chunk, smaller this time. Just a little something to see some new sides of Susan. Enjoy!

Back In Class

Susan is puffing away at her cigar.

SUSAN
Overall, it’s a business. Do you understand? As I said, this is “Career Day” and not “Wouldn’t It Be Nice to Have Fun for the Rest of My Life Day.” Now, understand that when I say this I mean that you need to have a head for business. There are a lot of idiots out there.
Take my editor, George, for example. George is an idiot. He’s a smart idiot, but he’s an idiot. He doesn’t really know about writing. Editors don’t. They’re people who wanted to write, but couldn’t so they take pleasure in telling other people what they’re doing wrong. But if it weren’t for my brilliance, George wouldn’t have a job. Or agents who try to tell you what you want to write next and really they mean what they want you to write next to make more money for them. But they actually think they know what you want to write next.
The thing to remember is that they don’t know. You know. You’re the writer. They’re not. There are a lot of stupid people out there. And the worst is those poor fools, those idiots they stick at reception desks so the bigger idiots don’t have to talk to you. But the problem is, the bigger idiots at least know what’s going on. These poor idiots at the reception desks have no clue.

Blackout.

Scene 5

Lights come up on the reception desk at George’s office. Heather, an intern, is seated at the desk, cruising MySpace because no one is around. Susan enters.

SUSAN
Hello.

HEATHER
How may I help you?

SUSAN
I’m Susan Gail.

HEATHER
What a pretty name!

SUSAN
Ummm… thank you?

HEATHER
You’re welcome!

SUSAN
Okay, anyway where the hell is my editor?

HEATHER
Well, who’s you’re editor, then I can tell you.

SUSAN
I’m Susan Gail.

HEATHER
Uh-huh.

SUSAN
George Kramer is my editor. Where is he?

HEATHER
Oh, he hasn’t come in today.

SUSAN
Hasn’t he?

HEATHER
No. I swear.

SUSAN
Is he avoiding me?

HEATHER
What? No! I mean, no, he doesn’t avoid his clients.

SUSAN
I am not one of his fucking clients, I am Susan Gail—okay, little girl. Okay, what’s your name?

HEATHER
I’m Heather.

SUSAN
Well, Heather, I don’t want to hear what he told you to tell me, I want the truth. Is he avoiding me?

HEATHER
He didn’t tell me to tell you anything.

SUSAN
That’s probably what he told you to tell me. The bastard.

HEATHER
He’s a really nice man.

SUSAN
Anyone who doesn’t show up to work after slashing my new chapter to pieces is a bastard. He knew I’d be coming in today.

HEATHER
I think he had a meeting at another office.

SUSAN
Very convenient meeting.

HEATHER
I don’t think he planned it.

SUSAN
Then he planned to cut this chapter out the very day before he knew he wouldn’t be here.

HEATHER
Please don’t get excited.

SUSAN
Let me see that desk. (Susan tries to get around behind the reception desk)

HEATHER
Ummm… I… I can’t let you… you really can’t…

SUSAN
Is there a note? Is there something that says, “If anyone sees Susan in the security cameras, lock the doors!”

HEATHER
No, I… why? Are you…

SUSAN
Dangerous? I am when the bastard can’t even come forward and fucking talk to me.

HEATHER
(somewhat forceful for once) I really need you to calm down and stop yelling.

SUSAN
(pulling a manuscript out of her bag) Don’t you order me around! I will paper-cut you to death!

Blackout.

Scene 6

Susan walks into the bathroom, agitated. She opens the medicine cabinet, pulls out a cigar and lighter, lights the cigar, and closes the medicine cabinet. She turns on the faucet and runs her hands under the water. Finally, she turns off the water and looks at herself in the mirror. She stares for a bit before speaking to her reflection.

SUSAN
I see you, Bronsky. You can’t hide. You can’t get away from me.
Remember when you wanted to be a bank teller? What? Are you talking to me? No, Bronsky, I never wanted to be a bank teller. I’m Susan Gail, the famous novelist. You, my dear, wanted to be a bank teller.
You were a person then. A real, honest to fuck person. You wanted a real job. What are you now? A reflection.
Other people see you and think you’re Susan Gail, the famous novelist, but I know better. I know that trick. You’re not Susan Gail, I am.
Listen to me, Bronsky, you’ve been snooping your mug around here too much. I am an angel for letting you freeload off of me. But we all have to pay our dues, Bronsky. I don’t care if you are Susan Gail’s reflection. One of these days I’m gonna cut you off. Cut you out! I am an angel, but I am a devil because I can make you bleed. I can bleed you out of me.
Fucking bank teller. You used to want things, Bronsky. You used to feel things.

She opens the cabinet again, takes out a razor, closes the cabinet and takes off her shirt.

How does this feel?

She starts to slice into her forearm. Quick intake of breath at the sensation.

What I really want is to feel what you feel. How does this feel, Bronsky? Tell me and I’ll stop. That’s all I want. But how can I get that when you stand there and take it with your mouth shut?

There is a knock at the bathroom door.

I’m busy.

RAYMOND
How long?

SUSAN
I have no clothes on.

RAYMOND
I don’t mind.

SUSAN
I’m shitting. (back to the mirror) So, this is what I need to do. If you won’t talk, I’ll make you go away. I’ll bleed you out. (she cuts into her other arm) Yes. (she sighs contentedly as she lets the blood drip down her arm)

She puts her shirt back on and blood stains the sleeves. She turns on the faucet and puts out the cigar in the sink, then turns off the faucet. She goes to open the door, bloody. Raymond stands waiting.

RAYMOND
I thought you had no clothes on.

SUSAN
Disappointed?

RAYMOND
Yes. I thought you were shitting.

SUSAN
I was.

RAYMOND
There was no flush.

SUSAN
Caught me.

RAYMOND
Your shirt is bloody.

SUSAN
I’ll go change.

RAYMOND
What were you doing in here?

SUSAN
I’ll go change.

RAYMOND
Susan, you’re really bleeding!

SUSAN
So, I’ll change my shirt.

RAYMOND
How did this happen?

SUSAN
You know.

RAYMOND
Did you do this?

SUSAN
You know.

RAYMOND
(starts taking Susan’s shirt off of her) I don’t know why you do this to yourself.

SUSAN
(overlapping) What are you doing?

RAYMOND
I’m cleaning you up. (he sees the cuts and grabs toilet paper) Oh, God!

Susan sits on the toilet. She does not have the energy to fight.

SUSAN
I need to lie down.

RAYMOND
I don’t know why you do this. Things are good, aren’t they? I thought things were good.

SUSAN
Things are fine.

Raymond is cleaning her arms and examining the cuts.

RAYMOND
You did a good job this time.

SUSAN
It’s just to feel it.

RAYMOND
I’ll bet you felt this one. (he continues cleaning her, then he takes Susan’s face in his hand) Susan, I really don’t like when you do this.

SUSAN
You’re a kid. What do you know? (he tries to kiss her) Stop it. This is damned romantic. All bloody. Why do they feel so much?

RAYMOND
Who?

SUSAN
Kiara, Chavonne, Sally, Laura…

RAYMOND
Your characters.

SUSAN
How do they feel all that?

RAYMOND
They’re human.

SUSAN
No, they’re not. They’re ink on paper. I’m human.

RAYMOND
But you gave them human qualities.

SUSAN
How? How do they feel so much?

RAYMOND
Because you’re a good writer.

SUSAN
But where do the feelings come from?

RAYMOND
From you.

SUSAN
No.

RAYMOND
No?

SUSAN
If I had those feelings I wouldn’t waste them on ink on paper. I wouldn’t give them away. (Raymond leans in and kisses her) Not if I had those feelings. Not if I felt anything.

Pause. Raymond continues cleaning Susan’s cuts. Fade to black.

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 Posted: Wed Jan 21st, 2009 03:07 am
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David,

RE: "Persons" as opposed to "Theatrical Characters" fromRichard Schechner

“Great errors are made because performers and directors (we would add playwrights) think of characters as people rather than as dramatis personae : masks of dramatic action. A role conforms to the logic of theatre, not the logic of any other life system. To think of a role as a person is like picnicking on a landscape painting.”

I love how he says “life system” regarding theatre!

I will get to the new posting tomorrow, as I am celebrating Mr. Obama.

best,

in media res

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DavidRigano
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That's a fascinating quote. Where is it from? Is it in a book, because I feel like that would be a good read.

I understand where you're coming from. I guess Susan was taking over a little. She does that sometimes. Another tidbit to save for after I post the whole thing!

(Oh, and yay for celebrating OBAMA!)

Last edited on Wed Jan 21st, 2009 04:21 pm by DavidRigano

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David,

The quote is by Richard Schechner (you can google him.) It quote of Schechner's Louis Catron uses in his book, "Elements of Playwriting" which I find a wonderful book.

I hesitate to critique the current post as I want to see more of where things are going after what she has done.

Post more.

best,

in media res

Last edited on Thu Jan 22nd, 2009 07:20 pm by in media res

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DavidRigano
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Well, I can't resist an offer like that, can I?

Back in Class

Susan is now sitting behind the desk in the classroom.

SUSAN
Never write when you’re drunk. You’ll want to stab yourself with a letter-opener when you re-read it. So, I was up all night writing, because I couldn’t sober myself up until nearly ten at night. And you do not go a day without writing. Never.
This is something you don’t know. Of course it is. Why else am I here? I’m the writer. You’re not. I know. You don’t. So. What was…? Nevermind. This is something you don’t know. I used to write during the day and wait til night to drink. Then I learned. No, I’m not drunk, what do you take me for? Not even a mimosa. What? I’ll explain it when you’re older.
So, when I saw that I had to be here this morning after writing all night, I thought, “Shit.”
What?
Okay, okay. This is the most important thing, and I know killing people is bad, but if I could kill someone and have no one else know… well, the truth is, I have. And everyone knows. And nobody knows. Does everyone know where I’m coming from? I have killed so many people. Friends, enemies, lovers. Lots of lovers. The other day I experienced a moment of pure joy sitting on a lover’s face and smothering him to death. You can’t know what that is like. Until the book is published, at least.
Yes, of course they’re all in books! What am I, a crazy lady? You shut up!
It’s the little things, you know? The early morning cigar. The silence at night as your pen scratches paper—because you always write in pen. Punctured flesh. The little things.

Blackout.

Scene 7

Lights come up on Susan’s living room. Susan is in her pajamas and robe pacing with a cigar in her mouth. George is in a suit.

GEORGE
So, what happened?

SUSAN
You cut a whole chapter, that’s what happened!

GEORGE
I suggested you rewrite it and that’s not what I’m talking about.

SUSAN
Rewrite it? You cut it and I’m the one who has to put a new one in its place.

GEORGE
I got a message that you threatened an intern.

SUSAN
Because you weren’t there, you bastard!

GEORGE
What happened?

SUSAN
How many times have I told you…?

GEORGE
What?

SUSAN
A piece that big is like a piece of me.

GEORGE
I just suggested—

SUSAN
That I cut off my arm and grow a new better one. This isn’t like, “Clip your nails, Susan” or “Put on some lipstick, Susan.”

GEORGE
It didn’t work.

SUSAN
It works fine! (she waves her arm) See?

GEORGE
Susan, the chapter wasn’t working.

SUSAN
Why not?

GEORGE
I like what you’ve done with the book. I think it’s a lot better, but this chapter is really weak.

SUSAN
You haven’t liked this book since the beginning.

GEORGE
I like the book! It’s the chapter I’m talking about.

SUSAN
I already did the impossible and fixed the book, George.

GEORGE
I get where you were going, but it wasn’t working.

SUSAN
Shit.

GEORGE
Susan… Susan, there’s blood on your shirt.

SUSAN
I know that.

GEORGE
How did—?

SUSAN
Don’t worry, ok? I’m fine, I’m standing. I can talk. I can blink. (pause) Do you remember the time Daniel got hit by a car because Laura asked her best friend to kill him?

GEORGE
Who could forget?

SUSAN
You wanted me to change that, too. I told you it would have been like cutting my heart out or my uterus.

GEORGE
Susan, I remember. What’s the point?

SUSAN
(screams) I need my fucking arms, George!

Blackout.

Back in Class

SUSAN
Okay, so am I supposed to take questions or something? Or am I just supposed to keep talking until you learn something? Oh, you have a question? Hit me.
Ah, of course. I was waiting for it. Congratulations, you have fulfilled my expectation for the day. The question, for those of you who didn’t hear, was “How do I come up with my stories?” Well, it’s really very very simple. I take my real life and say, “What if this happened?” In general I add in an element that would make my life actually interesting to read. Once that secret ingredient is in there it is no longer my life and I am free to do whatever the fuck I want.
What is it with you people and that word? Whatever the hell I want. Better? Or fudge or something?
The thing to remember is: you’re in control. Even if it’s your life that you’re writing about, you’re in control. You’ve got the pen. You can make anything happen. Now, that doesn’t mean you make everything turn out good for you. There’s a word for that and you don’t use a pen. But as long as you’re writing, you’re the one in control. Completely in control.

Blackout.

Scene 8

Susan’s living room. Tables, cabinets and floor are strewn with empty and half empty glasses. There is a loud knock at the front door. We hear Leyla’s voice from outside.

LEYLA
Susan? (louder knock) Susan?

A sob is heard from off in the other direction. Leyla tries the door to find it open.

LEYLA
Susan? Are you in here? (louder sobs are heard) Susan?

Leyla exits in the direction of Susan’s bedroom. We hear them from offstage.

LEYLA
Susan, what the fuck happened?

SUSAN
Go away!

LEYLA
Are you all right?

SUSAN
No, I’m not fucking all right. You can tell to look at me that I’m not fucking all right!

LEYLA
Well, yes, I can see that.

SUSAN
Why did you even come over here?

LEYLA
Because we had a lunch date and you didn’t show up, and when you don’t show up, it either means you’re drunk or slicing into yourself.

SUSAN
Shut up!

LEYLA
Let’s go into the kitchen and get you some water or something.

Leyla walks Susan out. Susan is a mess, sobbing and clutching a bottle of wine.

SUSAN
I don’t want… don’t need… leave me alone…

LEYLA
Come on, let’s get you some water.

SUSAN
Don’t want… (she slumps over onto a chair)

LEYLA
All right, you wait there. I’ll get you some water. (Leyla takes the bottle from Susan and exits into the kitchen)

SUSAN
Don’t… (she bursts into tears again)

Leyla re-enters with a glass of water.

LEYLA
Drink. (she holds it up to Susan’s mouth and Susan dutifully sips) Good. Now, what the hell happened to you?

SUSAN
(through her tears) Wendy…

LEYLA
Wendy’s dead, Susan.

SUSAN
Wendy’s dead.

LEYLA
Yes, I know. Wendy’s been dead for (she counts in her head) a long time.

SUSAN
Seven years.

LEYLA
(doing the math over) Yes, seven years.

SUSAN
Last week. Seven years last week.

LEYLA
Yes.

SUSAN
(crying more) I missed it.

LEYLA
Missed it?

SUSAN
I’ve never missed it. Today I looked at the calendar and it was last week. I missed it. But I’ve just been so busy lately, and I’m never so busy that I miss it, but I was so busy…

LEYLA
It’s fine, Susan.

SUSAN
It is not fine!

LEYLA
It doesn’t mean you didn’t love her. It just—

SUSAN
But every year! It’s important!

LEYLA
Yes, it’s important. But what’s most important is that you and she had a lot of good times.

SUSAN
She’s my best friend!

LEYLA
I know.

SUSAN
You don’t forget the anniversary of your best friend’s death!

LEYLA
I guess you don’t.

SUSAN
You don’t. (she suddenly, but quietly starts crying again) Every year I would light a candle.

LEYLA
Like… in church?

SUSAN
No, not in fucking church. Just here. I would set aside an evening and light a candle and have dinner with her. And I’d just let it burn out. I’d set a glass of wine next to the candle.

LEYLA
For Elijah?

SUSAN
(laughing in spite of herself) Shut up. It was our evening. Then I’d usually go to bed and cry. (crying) But I missed it this year. This never happens. How did this happen?

LEYLA
You’re a busy gal.

SUSAN
But I never miss it! I just keep thinking about it. And I keep thinking of the day she died.

LEYLA
Do you want to light a candle?

SUSAN
Why?

LEYLA
For Wendy.

SUSAN
(angry and crying more) It’s too late! I can’t! I told you, I missed it. It was last week, and I can’t do it now.

LEYLA
But if it will make you feel better—

SUSAN
It won’t! I can’t do it this late. I can’t do it ‘til next year. And every year I’ll remember that I missed it!

LEYLA
(a little annoyed) Well, Susan, what can I do to help you?

SUSAN
I don’t know. Why did you even come over here?

LEYLA
Because I was worried about you, believe it or not. Remember the day Wendy killed herself?

SUSAN
Of course I fucking remember!

LEYLA
So maybe you understand how the rest of us feel when you’ve been cutting into yourself.

SUSAN
I’m not going to kill myself!

LEYLA
You could, Susan. Even if you don’t mean to.

SUSAN
I don’t stick any chemicals into myself. (Leyla holds up a wine bottle) I mean like drugs. I don’t smoke crack or anything like that. But that gets me high.

LEYLA
It gets you light-headed.

SUSAN
It makes me feel something.

LEYLA
It makes your friends feel something, too.

Pause. Leyla gets up reaches into Susan’s pocket, pulling out a lighter.

SUSAN
What are you doing?

Leyla lights a candle that sits on the coffee table.

LEYLA
It’s for Wendy. From me.

Susan begins to cry some more and Leyla cradles her as the lights fade to black.

Back in class

Susan has her feet up on the desk, and is using a textbook for an ashtray.

SUSAN
Let’s talk about fame for a second. There are writers whose names you know. Really famous authors. Hemingway. Fitzgerald. (to one of the students) Do you know what they look like? No? (to another student) How about you? Didn’t think so.
Fame is a very different thing for an author than it is for an actor on TV. Who do you like on TV? (beat) Is that even a real name? Never mind. You’d recognize that person walking down the street. Or in the subway. What? Well, if you were in New York, on the subway. But you don’t recognize famous authors, even though they’re famous. That’s because writing isn’t about being famous. That TV star you said… what was that name? Yeah, whatever. That’s all about being famous. Writing is about making something that counts. It’s about making something that will have a real effect on someone’s life.
I used to not care about making things that count. I wrote what are commonly known as “romance novels.” Also known as “crap fiction.” I was not famous when I was writing things that didn’t count. I mean, you can still pick those up in the library or wherever if you wanted to. But they don’t count. And, when I was writing things that didn’t count as bad as those romance novels didn’t count, I started getting bored. I started getting antsy. Finally one day, I was so fed up with my main character, I did something drastic. I made her do something drastic. I made her kill her lover. I mean, this isn’t anything really new in romance novels, but it was how she did it. It wasn’t in a fit of passion with a stolen gun or a kitchen knife. It was calculated. It was smart. Suddenly, boom, success. Fame. A helluva lot more money.
I kept playing with women who would never kill in their lives. I kept examining what would make them kill, and the different ways these different women would kill. My books mattered. I got famous.
That still doesn’t mean I’m recognized like a TV actor. Like… what the hell was that name? Yes.

Lights fade to black.

Scene 9

Susan sits in the doctor’s waiting area. A man, Porter, sits in another seat, reading a book. It is Susan’s latest book. She watches him for a moment, before leaning over and speaking to him.

SUSAN
Any good?

PORTER
Huh? Oh, yeah. The best.

SUSAN
Oh?

PORTER
Yeah, she writes the best books ever.

SUSAN
Really?

PORTER
I’ve read all of them.

SUSAN
I should look into one.

PORTER
I think there’s a collection coming out.

SUSAN
Really?

PORTER
Yeah, I saw something about it on Amazon.

SUSAN
Nice.

PORTER
Yeah, it’s a good price. Of course I already have all of them.

SUSAN
Oh, you own the books?

PORTER
Yeah.

SUSAN
I thought maybe you got them from the library or something.

PORTER
Nope, I own all of them. I go back to them every now and then.

SUSAN
What do you like so much about them?

PORTER
She always keeps me interested. No one else does that.

SUSAN
Really?

PORTER
Yeah, she keeps finding new ways to shock me.

SUSAN
I once heard that’s all a good writer has to do.

PORTER
Well, she does it. She’s the best. And she writes the best deaths.

SUSAN
Oh?

PORTER
Yeah, in all of her books.

SUSAN
What is it in this one?

PORTER
I haven’t gotten there, yet. In the last one the main woman tied this guy’s feet to the bed and tied a rope around his neck to the ceiling fan.

SUSAN
Wow.

PORTER
Yeah! I wasn’t expecting that. That’s how she always surprises me.

SUSAN
I can imagine.

PORTER
I sound like I work for her or something. (Susan laughs) I don’t, I swear.

SUSAN
I believe you.

PORTER
I just really like her books.

SUSAN
But you’ve never met her?

PORTER
Oh, no.

SUSAN
At like a book signing or something.

PORTER
No, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t want to.

SUSAN
Why not?

PORTER
It would ruin it for me.

SUSAN
Ruin what?

PORTER
Reading the books.

SUSAN
Why?

PORTER
Well, she’s a bitch.

Beat.

SUSAN
What?

PORTER
Yeah.

SUSAN
I thought you’d never met her.

PORTER
I haven’t. I can just tell.

SUSAN
By what?

PORTER
The way she writes. These characters. That last woman strangled a guy by a ceiling fan!

SUSAN
I thought you said you liked that.

PORTER
Well, yeah, to read. But think of what kind of a woman would write something like that. She’d have to be a total bitch.

SUSAN
She might just be really creative.

PORTER
It’s always the men who die in her books. I’m not complaining. I really like the books. But it’s always the men. She’s probably a lesbian, too.

SUSAN
What?

PORTER
I’m just saying. I don’t want to offend you or anything… like if you’re a lesbian, too…

SUSAN
No. I’m not.

PORTER
Because you seem upset.

SUSAN
Well, you’re judging this woman—

PORTER
Look, I’m just saying I don’t want to meet her, because it would ruin my enjoyment of her books, that’s all.

SUSAN
And that—

RECEPTIONIST
Ms. Gail? Susan Gail?

SUSAN
What? (beat) Oh. Yes.

RECEPTIONIST
Dr. Marcus will see you.

SUSAN
Thank you. (she turns to Porter) Lovely talking with you.

She exits into the doctor’s office, leaving Porter staring agape as the lights fade.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 30th, 2009 12:28 pm
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muncy
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Mana: 
I continue to be impressed by this. I'm not absolutely sure about the 'fan' in the waiting room but I'll reserve judgement for now. Look forward to reading more.

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 Posted: Fri Jan 30th, 2009 04:07 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
Aim with muncy on this, David! Except I love the fan in the waiting room, as it is a terrifying/stupefying mirror for her.

You DO continue to surprise us!

My only question...and I hesitate to ask it...so I won't! I don't want to quibble in the face of creativity.

Let's see more!

best,

in media res

Last edited on Fri Jan 30th, 2009 04:13 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Sat Feb 7th, 2009 04:46 am
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
Just so you guys know, my show goes into tech on Monday night and opens on Wednesday, so I've been CRAZY busy with rehearsal, plus my day-job, plus the classes I teach. I promise I'll post more as soon as I can, but I've hardly had time to scratch my ass.

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 Posted: Sun Feb 15th, 2009 10:03 pm
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 

Scene 10

Lights come up on Susan by her pool with Cristofero. On the table between them is a pitcher of Sangria and two glasses. Cristofero’s glass is mostly full. Susan’s glass is empty, except for a slice of apple.

SUSAN
Cristofero. Do you know why I asked you to come?
CRISTOFERO
I think—
SUSAN
You think nothing. Well, no. You think wrong. You think I wanted to fuck you. I didn’t. But I did. Fuck you, that is. I think you know that. I think you were there when it happened. Anyway.
CRISTOFERO
Susan…
SUSAN
I want to apologize. Our affair meant nothing to me. You were nothing. You still are; that’s why I can still fuck you.
CRISTOFERO
Susan, that’s fine.
SUSAN
And that name! God, when I found out that was your name, I thought you’d be some Latin God or something. With a Spanish accent and all that.
CRISTOFERO
It’s Italian, not Spanish.
SUSAN
Isn’t it the same?
CRISTOFERO
Italian and Spanish?
SUSAN
No, the name in both things. Anyway, so I wanted to apologize.
CRISTOFERO
You don’t have to. I knew how it was. I thought it was mutual.
SUSAN
What? No! That’s not what I’m apologizing for. Do you think I’m some kind of sap? I wrote romance novels because I don’t believe in them. You can’t write romance novels if you believe they can really happen. Not good ones, at least.
CRISTOFERO
But you wrote good ones.
SUSAN
Probably not. There’s no such thing. I wanted to apologize for killing you.
CRISTOFERO
Oh?
SUSAN
In Little Sally’s Big Life Lesson. It was awful of me.
CRISTOFERO
It’s just a book.
SUSAN
But you really didn’t deserve it, Cristofero. You deserved better. You I could have just shot. It probably wouldn’t even have hurt the book. But no. I had to roll a truck over you backwards while you worked on your precious artwork. But that’s what you get for making art out of shards of glass, Cristofero.
CRISTOFERO
Susan, I don’t—
SUSAN
But your character did. I should have shot him. (she holds her head in her hands; she is crying) Why didn’t I shoot you when I had the chance?
CRISTOFERO
Susan…
SUSAN
I could have just shot you. Just fucking shot you. The opportunity was right there.
CRISTOFERO
I think I’ve stayed long enough.
SUSAN
(grabbing his shirt) Why didn’t I? Cristofero, why couldn’t I just buy a gun and shoot your brains out? (he recoils) Or not even your brains. I’m sorry, Cristofero, that’s even crueler than rolling a truck over you. I could have shot you in the heart or the stomach. (she is sobbing) I would never shoot your brains out, Cristofero!

Blackout.

Back in Class

Susan sucks on her cigar and blows a few rings of smoke into the air contemplatively, then turns forward to the children.

SUSAN
Don’t depend on anyone. The second you depend on someone else, you’ve got nothing left. If you’ve still got you, you’ve got a lot. Once you neeed other people, it’s all done. Once you neeeed other people, you won’t be able to do anything yourself. You only have to neeeeed one person for one thing, and then it’s all over. You say, “Gee, this is nice, to have someone do something for me,” and you let other things slip. Before you know it, you don’t know how to do anything.
Now, you can’t take this too far. I neeed my plumber, because I can’t fix pipes. And I’m perfectly fine with not being able to fix pipes. It’s nice when the plumber has to come over. But I don’t rely on my plumber on a regular basis. I neeed my editor, but that’s because of politics. What does he really know anyway? I’m lucky that I have an editor I can talk to, so when we have meetings, he can feel like something’s accomplished. He’s a necessity, but he neeeds me more than I neeed him.
After that, I can’t think of anyone else I neeed. No one I rely on for things I couldn’t just as well take care of myself. You need to stay afloat. Drowning people need help. When you’re drowning, you cannot help yourself. Someone comes and helps you, or you drown. You have no choice. Stay afloat.
How many bestsellers have you seen from drowning victims? Virginia Woolf excluded?

Blackout.

Scene 11

Susan it sitting at her desk with a pen in hand and a stack of paper in front of her. There is not much light, except that coming from her desk lamp. She sits staring at the paper as a grim and panicked expression crosses her face. She picks up the phone and dials.

SUSAN
Leyla. Leyla. There’s nothing there. Nothing’s coming out. I’m holding my pen, but nothing’s coming out. The problem is that there’s nothing there! From where? It’s empty, Leyla! Completely empty. What do I do? How can I—? What—? Come over. Please come over. Leyla, there’s nothing there! (Raymond enters) I need a— if I could only—where is the fucking—?! Leyla, yes, now! (Susan hangs up the phone)
RAYMOND
Are you okay?
SUSAN
No! Fucking no!
RAYMOND
So… here I am.
SUSAN
Good for you. I need a smoke. Where the fuck—?
RAYMOND
Susan. Susan, are you drunk?
SUSAN
No! I’m writing!
RAYMOND
Okay.
SUSAN
Why would you think I’m drunk?
RAYMOND
Susan, you’re upset.
SUSAN
Yes!
RAYMOND
Calm down.
SUSAN
You don’t understand. None of you understand. Not even Leyla understands.
RAYMOND
You can’t say that.
SUSAN
You don’t. There’s nothing there!
RAYMOND
What?
SUSAN
I’m trying, but it’s not coming.
RAYMOND
What’s not?
SUSAN
Where are my cigars?!
RAYMOND
Susan—
SUSAN
Tell me where the fuck my cigars are!
RAYMOND
Susan, I don’t know where they are. One of the drawers?
SUSAN
Which one?
RAYMOND
Top?
Susan opens the top drawer, no cigars.
SUSAN
No! Nothing! Fucking nothing!
RAYMOND
Susan, why are you so upset?
SUSAN
There’s nothing there!
RAYMOND
I can get some from somewhere else.
SUSAN
I don’t mean fucking—I mean… I mean there’s just… nothing! Nothing!
RAYMOND
Susan, you’re not making sense.
SUSAN
It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing there.
RAYMOND
Where?
SUSAN
Anywhere! Where did it go?

Leyla enters.

LEYLA
I’m here.
RAYMOND
What’s going on?
LEYLA
I’m here, let me handle this.
RAYMOND
I can help.
SUSAN
Where did it go?
RAYMOND
Susan let me help you.
LEYLA
Susan, I’m here.
RAYMOND
What’s going on?
LEYLA
You don’t understand.
SUSAN
No one understands!
RAYMOND
I can try to understand.
SUSAN
Ray… Ray, don’t talk to me. Please. Please. Don’t talk to me.
RAYMOND
Susan, grow up.

For a moment, Susan stares blankly at Raymond. Then she suddenly screams and does not stop.

LEYLA
All right, buddy. Good work, but you’re done.
RAYMOND
What’s going on?
Leyla goes to Susan and holds her hand tightly.
LEYLA
Susan, breathe. Breathe, Susan!

Susan continues screaming.

RAYMOND
What’s going on?
LEYLA
Get out! (to Susan) Susan, honey, let’s calm down. Can you count with me? Susan shakes her head “no,” still screaming.
RAYMOND
Will you please tell me—
LEYLA
(suddenly shouting) This is not about you! (back to Susan, caressing her hand) Let’s try to breathe, Susan.
SUSAN
(barely getting the words out) I can’t—I can’t—!
LEYLA
(to Raymond) Get a glass of water, okay? (he exits) Okay, honey, can we try to just
breathe, slowly?

Susan is beginning to calm down, but she’s still hyperventilating and letting out deep moans.

SUSAN
I—I don’t—I…
LEYLA
Slowly. Take it slowly.
SUSAN
There’s… nothing…!
LEYLA
Okay, I know.
SUSAN
Nothing!
LEYLA
But, Susan, this has happened before, yes?
SUSAN
No.
LEYLA
It has, I remember it.
SUSAN
No!
LEYLA
Susan. (she holds Susan’s face in her hands) I remember that this—(Raymond comes back in with the water)
RAYMOND
Here. Now what should I do?
LEYLA
I don’t know. Jump on one leg or something.
RAYMOND
What is going on?
LEYLA
I need to take care of Susan.
RAYMOND
I can help.
LEYLA
No, you can’t.
RAYMOND
Why not?
LEYLA
You’ve never dealt with her like this. Just let me do this! (to Susan) Susan, you need to sleep. There’ll be more there when you wake up.
SUSAN
It’s empty!
LEYLA
So, let’s sleep. Can you stand?
SUSAN
No.
LEYLA
I think you can.
SUSAN
No!
LEYLA
Come on, can you stand if I help you?
SUSAN
Maybe. (she stands and slumps into Leyla’s arms)
LEYLA
Okay, okay. Ray, here’s where you can help. Get her up.

Raymond gets on the other side of Susan and they hold her up.

SUSAN
Leyla… Leyla…
LEYLA
I’m right here.
SUSAN
It’s gone.
LEYLA
No, it’s not.
SUSAN
Yes, it is. It’s all gone. Nothing’s coming out of the pen. It’s empty.
LEYLA
There’ll be more when you wake up.
SUSAN
No!
LEYLA
You have to—
SUSAN
No, it’s gone.
LEYLA
Then let’s go to sleep.
SUSAN
Let’s go to sleep?
LEYLA
Yes, let’s go to sleep.
SUSAN
Let’s go to sleep.

They lead Susan off. Lights fade.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 01:04 pm
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muncy
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Mana: 
Oh wow! What a great final scene. Is that the end or is there still act two to come? I ask because I think it could end there but still I want more!

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 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 03:58 pm
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
There is no Act Two, but that is not the end of the play. There are just about ten pages left. We're into the home stretch now!

I'm glad you liked it.

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 Posted: Mon Feb 16th, 2009 07:46 pm
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DavidRigano
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Here's the last of it. I look forward to the discussion that will follow!

Back in Class

Susan is sitting on the desk, puffing away.

SUSAN
There will be people in your life who affect your writing. And damn them for it, but it happens. And you won’t realize it until five years later when you write him into a book and no matter what you do, you can’t bring yourself to kill him. And you know that your audience will expect it. So you have to give it to them. And you think, “Maybe I’ll surprise them this time.” But deep down you really want to kill him. You just can’t.
And by this time, you’ve practically got an entire novel under you, so you can’t just scratch the character and write one you don’t mind killing. And when it gets to this point, you can’t pretend it’s not the person from your real life, because… well, let’s be serious here.
So, you think of all the ways you could possibly do him in, when you realize the problem. It’s not him you can’t kill, it’s what he represents. It’s a time in your life you don’t want to go back to or think about. It’s everything that surrounded him. And even if you did kill him, that wouldn’t make the rest of it go away. You’d have to kill yourself for that. And even then, there’s no guarantee. When you come to realize this, he becomes so much more antagonistic. Fucker. So smug, sitting there smiling amid all of your rubbish. That’s when you can pick up a gun and—blammo!

Scene 12

At a fountain in a park. Susan sits, alone. Greg enters.

GREG
I got your phone call.
SUSAN
That was stupid of me.
GREG
Well, you showed up.
SUSAN
I said I would.
GREG
I almost came just to see if you really meant it.
SUSAN
I didn’t.
GREG
You’re here.
SUSAN
I’m leaving.
She turns to exit.
GREG
Don’t go.
SUSAN
Why?
GREG
Let’s talk.
SUSAN
What about?
GREG
About us.
SUSAN
When was the last time there was an “us”?
GREG
About you and me.
SUSAN
Okay. There you are. Here I am.
GREG
I don’t want there to be an “us” again, if that’s what you’re thinking.
SUSAN
Funny. That’s what I was thinking.
GREG
I do miss you.
SUSAN
Why? Haven’t I given you every reason not to miss you?
GREG
Yes, you have.
SUSAN
Then I’m going.
GREG
Don’t.
SUSAN
Greg. We’ve been over for years. What can you possibly say now?
GREG
I love you.
SUSAN
Of course you do.
GREG
I’m not in love with you.
SUSAN
Of course you’re not.
GREG
Do you ever believe a word I say?
SUSAN
Did you ever give me reason to?
GREG
Plenty!
SUSAN
(beat) So what?
GREG
Listen, I love you. I miss you. Meaning I care about you. It’s been years, Susan.
SUSAN
I know. That’s why I think it’s stupid of you to—
GREG
It is. Stupid of me to care about what happens in your life. You don’t care what happens in my life.
SUSAN
Don’t start. Don’t point that at me.
GREG
But something in me remembers that we used to have fun. And remembers what it was like when we liked each other.
SUSAN
When was that?
GREG
I remember it.
SUSAN
It’s fading.
GREG
I remember when we could have a civil conversation. When we could talk about anything and everything. On the phone for hours. Late into the night.
SUSAN
There you go again.
GREG
There I go where again?
SUSAN
“Talking late into the night.” There you go there again!
GREG
You can’t even listen without hearing “I’m in love with you, Susan.” Maybe it wasn’t stupid of me to care, but stupid to think you’d care that I care. Give me a call if you ever think about something other than yourself.

He turns to go.

SUSAN
I care! (beat, he turns back) Is it a crime to want to forget a portion of your life? A part that was bad? Is it even a crime to decide you don’t like someone anymore? I don’t like you anymore!
GREG
I thought I was a good thing then.
SUSAN
But you remind me of all the other bad things.
GREG
Did the bad things go away?
SUSAN
Yes, they left when you left.
GREG
(suddenly angry) You left!

Pause.

SUSAN
Fine. I left. And, yes things are better. The bad things have gone away.
GREG
I still worry about you. That you hurt yourself.
SUSAN
I don’t.
GREG
Let me see your wrists.
SUSAN
What?
GREG
Let me see them!
SUSAN
No!
GREG
Fine, fine. “Yes, I’m better. The bad things have gone away, but you can’t see my wrists!” Of course!
SUSAN
Here! (rolling up her sleeves and showing Greg her bare wrists) Okay?
GREG
Sorry.
SUSAN
Good.
Beat.
GREG
I still worry, though. You don’t seem better, Susan.
SUSAN
Fuck you.
GREG
Can’t I say that? Haven’t we been through enough?
SUSAN
What have you been through? Stop saying you’ve been through anything! I’m the one who went through it.
GREG
And where was I? Twiddling my thumbs while you went off and did crazy things to yourself and cried to me afterwards?
SUSAN
Don’t use that word.
GREG
Biding my time while you bounced from loony-bin to loony-bin?
SUSAN
Stop using those words!
GREG
Or was I crying? Was I using up all my tears while you were out of the room so that I could be the strong one when it was your turn to cry? Was I laying up some nights wondering what was really happening to you? Was I getting desperate messages on my phone morning after morning and wondering whether you were dead or alive?
SUSAN
Stop it.
GREG
I’m sorry. To presume that I’ve been through anything. No. you’re the only one, Susan.
The only one who has troubles. In fact, you’re the only one in the world. I’m not even here.
SUSAN
You don’t know what I went through then.
GREG
I thought we went through it together.
Pause.
SUSAN
You were wrong.

Greg exits. Susan rubs her wrists and begins to cry.

Back in Class

Susan has taken off her jacket.

SUSAN
What is—? What does that mean? You have a question? Oh, okay. You looked like you had a cramp. What’s your question?
“Is there anything I regret?” Oh good Lord in heaven above. This is the most important thing anyone will ever say to you and you’re hearing it from me. Aren’t you lucky? There is no such thing as a missed opportunity. If you miss opportunities, if things pass you by, that means that you are not in control. Who’s holding the pen? You are. Who’s the writer? You are. You are in control. If you have a chance to do something and you don’t do it or you don’t do it soon enough, then you turn that into a new opportunity.
Everything is about the choices you make. And you’ll make some stupid fucking choices.
Pardon my French. Wha—nevermind.
You make a choice. You take one opportunity, you lose another. You lose an opportunity, you make another. But there’s no such thing as a missed opportunity. There’s no time for missed opportunities.

Lights fade.

Scene 13

Susan is in her apartment pacing. The door opens and Raymond enters.

SUSAN
I’m so glad your home. Leave.
RAYMOND
I beg your pardon.
SUSAN
Leave. I can’t keep you.
RAYMOND
I’m so glad to see you, honey. Isn’t it nice out? How was your meeting?
SUSAN
I’m glad you’re glad. Lovely. Boring. Leave.
RAYMOND
Can we talk about this for a little bit?
SUSAN
I’ll give you a dictionary and two minutes to look up the word “leave.”
RAYMOND
What’s this about? Where am I supposed to go?
SUSAN
So long as I don’t trip on you on my way into the house, I’m fine wherever you go.
RAYMOND
Am I not good enough for you?
SUSAN
Oh, you goddamn fool, no that’s not it.
RAYMOND
Then what?
SUSAN
I can’t keep you anymore.
RAYMOND
I want to know where I’m supposed to go.
SUSAN
There are some lovely hotels in the area. Do you want money? I’ll pay you to leave.
RAYMOND
Don’t you like me?
SUSAN
No, I don’t like you. Was I supposed to like you? I didn’t realize that was in the contract. You don’t like me.
RAYMOND
I do like you.
SUSAN
You’re a gigolo, it’s your job not to like me. What do you want from me if you don’t want money?
RAYMOND
I’m not—
SUSAN
All actors are gigolos. You don’t really like me.
RAYMOND
I do.
SUSAN
You like my books.
RAYMOND
I like you, Susan.
SUSAN
Then I’m too good for you.
RAYMOND
Since when?
SUSAN
Since right now. Since forever. I’m a genius, a fucking genius. You’re an LA actor. I should go back to New York. At least there actors admit that they’re starving.
RAYMOND
I’m starving. I like having a place to stay. And I like it here.
SUSAN
It was fun, but really, you’re not good enough for me. Will you leave now?
RAYMOND
I want to talk to you about this.
SUSAN
No, you want me to say I’m better than you.
RAYMOND
No, I want to stay.
SUSAN
Well, that’s not an option.
RAYMOND
Why can’t we talk?
SUSAN
When you walked in, I said “leave.” I thought that you’d realize I meant you should leave and then leave, but you haven’t. We’ve been talking this whole time. So I don’t think “why can’t we talk” is the question.
RAYMOND
So what is the question?
SUSAN
Why are you still here?
RAYMOND
Because I want to know why you want me out.
SUSAN
Because I can’t stand how much you love my books, ok?
RAYMOND
Of course I love your books.
SUSAN
And so I want you to leave.
RAYMOND
If I hated your books—?
SUSAN
Don’t be an asshole.
RAYMOND
What then?
SUSAN
You’re trying figure out what the next book is. You’re trying to get into the book. I can tell. You say clever little things that no one says hoping I’ll put it in the book. And worst of all, you’re trying to find out how I’m going to kill you, and I can’t stand it! That’s like those bastards who read the last chapter first and I wrote it last for a reason! Well, maybe I won’t kill you! You don’t deserve it. I’m not going to kill you. I’m kicking you out. There you go. Now you know how it ends. Now you’ve read the last chapter first. Happy?
RAYMOND
This doesn’t seem fair, Susan.
SUSAN
Don’t talk to me about fair. (the doorbell rings) And don’t you dare answer that door, you don’t live here! (she goes to the door and George enters) Oh, fuck you, George.
GEORGE
Nice to see you, too.
SUSAN
Make it fast, George, I’m kicking someone out of my house.
GEORGE
Susan we have things to discuss. You missed your meeting.
SUSAN
George, can this please wait? (to Raymond) Raymond, darling. Please, I beg of you, get out. (to George) I’ll be right with you.
RAYMOND
I guess I’ll go pack my stuff.
SUSAN
It’s packed. Actually, George, I’m glad you’re here. I’m moving back to New York.
GEORGE
What? Why?
SUSAN
Every little bird has its secrets.
GEORGE
You can’t just move back to New York.
SUSAN
You do realize it’s my life we’re talking about, George?
GEORGE
But your career is here.
SUSAN
I can have a career any goddamn place I choose.
RAYMOND
Susan—
SUSAN
(flying after him) Why are you still here?!
RAYMOND
Okay. I’ll go. I’m still here because I really do like it here and I really do like you. But obviously, if that’s not enough—nevermind. I’m going, Susan. (he exits for his things)
SUSAN
That should have been a lot easier.

Blackout.

Epilogue

Susan’s cigar has just about worn itself down.

SUSAN
What’s it all about? What’s it all about?
It’s all about success. No, no. I don’t mean money. I mean success. I mean working your ass off so you do something that’s good. Because there are plenty of people who sit on their asses all day and produce shit and make a million dollars and if you think that’s success, well, you know what? It is. But not my kind of success.
I’m not talking about money and fame kinda success. Of course, I’ve got money and fame, but I’m talking about… it’s kind of like when people say that if you don’t go looking for love it’ll find you—which is crap—like, you can’t be trying to make money.
You have to work hard to make the best damn thing you can. And you know what? Sometimes life will try to get in the way. And you have to put it on hold sometimes. And people will want you to go out some nights. And you’ll be invited places. And of course sometimes you have to go, because it’s industrial. But usually you say, “I’ve got a book to write.”
You’ve got a career to think about. That’s why this is “Career Day” and not “I’m So Fucking Proud of Myself Day.” You have a career to think about. You have a book to write.
Someone will say, “Susan, how’s Friday night?”
“Sorry, I’ve got a book to write.”
Someone will say, “Susan, we’re going to the movies.”
“Sorry, I’ve got a book to write.”
“Susan, will you marry me.”
Whatever. You know what’s important. You know what’s important. They don’t. They’re not writers, you are. You know what’s important.

Fade to black. End of play.

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 Posted: Tue Feb 17th, 2009 03:23 pm
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in media res
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Mana: 
David,

I really loved this piece. It held me throughout with your witty - but not overly witty - writing. By this I mean you never extended the writing for the sake of the writing. You knew when to stop the humor to make the humor appropriate to its place and setting. Everything kept moving along and there were twists and turns that kept me along on Susan's roller coaster.

This kind of sums her up:

PORTER
Reading the books.

SUSAN
Why?

PORTER
Well, she’s a bitch.

muncy said he would have her over for a party. I might, but I would make sure she left before late night! Or maybe Sunday brunch would be safer for all!!!

She is fascinating. I am sure we all have known people like this. I know I have. Even dated a couple in my single days. There is an attraction, but you have to make sure you get out alive. Greg did.

Very intriguing her feelings about art/writing and her books and the characters in her books. I think there are a lot of actors who would love to play her. And the minor characters are fun as well.

I still think 7th grade is too young. Waaaaay too young. It makes it unbelievable. She would be gone in a second. I would make it seniors in high school. She might be a gone there, too. Or best, having her talk to a college writing class. She can get away with the language then. And what she is talking about.

And the students in college would hang on her every word. And she would not be asked to leave.

Thanks for posting this. It was a real treat.

My quibble mentioned early on was that sometimes I felt that Raymond was a tangential character and wanted him to be more. Glad I kept my mouth shut at the time. Because he is. Everyone is a tangential character in Susan's life - except her characters.

Good luck with this.

Let's see some more stuff.

best,

in media res

Last edited on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 03:43 pm by in media res

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 Posted: Sun Feb 22nd, 2009 07:29 pm
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muncy
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Mana: 
imr has summed it up so nicely. It's a great piece of writing that had me hooked from beginning to end.

Susan makes me smile, makes me angry, makes me happy to know her, makes me wish I'd never met her. She is as real to me as the people I see every day. Quite an achievement. All the other characters have depth too and I agree that actors should be flocking to be in this.

Thanks for posting and lets see some more

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 Posted: Mon Feb 23rd, 2009 02:52 am
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DavidRigano
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Mana: 
Not so fast!!!!! I have questions!!!

Okay, while I am THRILLED that you guys like Susan so much (I adore her and often refer to her--and even quote her--as though she were a real person) she does still need a bit of work. One thing I know I need to do is cut back on the cursing in the classroom. I also think I need to characterize the teacher. I was about to say "characterize the teacher more," but I realize I haven't really done anything to characterize her. I imagine her to be a really mousy type who's basically scared shitless of Susan, hence Susan does not get tossed out of class. Re: imr's suggestion, I've been considering making it a 9th grade class, freshman year of high school, just old enough, but still very naive.

A little background on Susan: the character was inspired by this photo of Elizabeth LeCompte (http://www.newyorker.com/images/2007/10/08/p233/071008_r16644_p233.jpg) and looking at the photo, I thought, "What if this woman were talking to a class of seventh-graders on Career Day?" I used to hang the photo on my desk so I constantly had my image of Susan Gail staring me down, forcing me to work. Then the actress who read the role of Susan in the first (and only) workshop reading said something very interesting to me about the fact that Susan is speaking to seventh-graders. She said, "Look at what she's come to." I do think that the older the kids are, the more important Susan really is. Aside from the comedy, I think there is something heartbreaking about this woman giving a talk that ought be to for college students to such young kids. But, I also agree with imr.

Other more pointed questions that I have:
What do you think of Greg? Do you have any questions about Greg? (i.e. does her relationship to Greg need to be clearer?) Do you wish to see more of him?
What do we think of the scene with Porter (her devoted-yet-misguided fan)? I've gotten mixed reactions to it, and part of me thinks it's a little too sitcom.
Do we want to see more of Heather-the-Intern? Not to say should she be in more scenes, but is her scene too short. Do we give her (or Susan) enough of a chance in that scene?
Any other questions that you have? imr, you mentioned that you had a question you were holding. I'm very interested to hear it!

Please, critique me!

Last edited on Mon Feb 23rd, 2009 02:54 am by DavidRigano

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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 11:08 am
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muncy
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Mana: 
David

I don't really feel qualified to critique you. I am relatively new to writing but I know if I like something and I like this a lot.  I don't think I can answer questions like 'should I develop Greg more'. I like the character and the interactions but I really couldn't say if I'd like to see more of him. If you were to invent new scenes I might like them, I might not.

I do think you hit the mail on the head about the scene with Porter. I said at the time I wasn't sure about it and it does seem out of step with the rest of the play.

I tend not to over analyse my own writing too much. I have sometimes looked back at a completed work and thought that things might have been done differently but then developing that idea can lead to a new piece of work, and I tend not to make changes.

 Others may be able to give you the critique you require, but if you don’t get any replies please remember that it is difficult on a forum because written words can often be misinterpreted so people may shy away. Please don’t let that put you off posting more work.

 

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