Hey guys, so this is my first post here. I am looking for any feedback I can get (Good or bad) so that I can make this piece stronger. I am entering it into a really fierce competition and could really use all the help I can get. Thank you for your time and effort.
List of Characters:
Setting: Current time; Eli Shepherd’s basement.
Director’s Note: Dragon in the Basement is a piece up to your interpretation. It needs no set accept, it is required to have some form of artistically drawn dragon that comes into play. The preferred method is a chalkboard where the character Natalie can illuminate Eli’s description to the audience but if a giant chalk board isn’t manageable; any other form could work just as well. Glow chalk works nicely for the dragon’s eyes.
Acknowledgements: Dragon in the basement is based off the hypothetical written by astronomer Carl Edward Sagan. This piece is intended to be a nod to Sagan and his work.
“…who told me dragons did not exist, then led me to their lairs ....”
-Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Dragon in the Basement
(Two teenagers enter into the Basement of Eli Shepherd’s home. They are entering because Eli has insisted that there lives a Nine foot tall, fire breathing Dragon in his garage.)
Todd: So where is this “dragon” Eli?
Eli: Over here, this way. I have to keep him locked up in the basement because well; have you ever seen a nine foot tall Dragon when he’s hungry?
Natalie: I haven’t seen a dragon ever…
Todd: I’m telling you dude, Dragons just don’t exist. I mean if they did exist, don’t you think there’d be something about it on discovery channel?
Eli: Do you even watch discovery channel?
(Natalie and Todd simultaneously answer)
Todd: How would you know Natalie?
Natalie: Because I can hear your TV from my room Todd. You just watch lame sitcoms all the time. That or you’re on the internet watching…
Eli: (Interrupting) alright guys! Here we are.
Natalie: I still don’t see anything Eli.
Eli: You’re looking in the wrong direction. Look over there. (Points)
Natalie: Still nothing…
Todd: Yeah man, there’s nothing there. I know your mom has her medical marijuana license dude but maybe you should cut back a bit.
Natalie: Todd shut up. Marijuana isn’t anywhere near strong enough to make him hallucinate that badly. (Second guessing herself) Right Eli?
Eli: (Laughing) I swear you guys, I am not hallucinating. Just look over there in the corner, he is sitting. Squint your eyes a bit maybe.
Todd: There is nothing there…
Eli: So I forgot to mention he is invisible at first but after awhile I saw him. So give it a try.
(All three of them stand facing the audience; squinting there eyes trying to see the dragon. Eli sees’s it.)
Eli: See him now?
Eli: Gah, he’s right there in front of you! I see him, why don’t you? (To the Dragon) I see you buddy, why can’t they? (A rumble is heard that Todd and Natalie can’t hear) Because they don’t have faith? That’s why they can’t see you? (Another rumble) Well that makes perfect sense! Alright, Natalie, Todd, if you want to see my dragon it’s pretty simple. He says to have faith.
Natalie: That sounds like a bad fortune cookie.
Todd: I am out of here dude, Natalie if you’re buying this crap you can stay but I am going home. I might put in a call to child services…Eli, You’re nuts.
(Todd goes to exit but Eli stops him. Eli is set upon having Todd meet his dragon.)
Eli: Okay, I am sorry you can’t see him yet but, just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there; Right?
Natalie: (Feeling for Eli) Yeah, let’s give him a chance Todd. Come on.
Todd: And what happens if I stay Natalie? What happens if we kill another hour or two here and the end result is the same; nothing?
Natalie: Then you’ll know for sure Eli is insane. Anyway what have you got to lose? An hour of TV? I am sure you won’t miss anything.
Todd: Fine, I’ll stay. But there had better be a damn dragon.
Natalie: Good. Now Eli, how do we prove your “Dragon” exists?
Eli: My dragon says it’s simple, just have faith.
Todd: That doesn’t mean anything! Having faith is stupid and just makes you look and sound retarded. Okay here’s my plan. This dragon is invisible right? How about we pour flour all over the floor and see his foot prints? Does that sound fair?
Natalie: Great idea Todd.
Eli: We could do that but…
Todd: But what Eli?
Eli: There’s only one problem with that plan though, my dragon floats.
Natalie: He floats? Like a balloon?
Eli: More or less.
Todd: Okay fine, how about we get an infrared sensor and test his fire? He has fire right? (Eli nods yes) If it goes off then we will know that the dragon exists.
Natalie: Todd, think about that. Where in the world are you going to get an infrared sensor? Walmart?
Eli: Where would you get one?
Natalie: They have those?
Todd: Yep, So how about it Eli? Infrared?
Eli: That’d work, except my dragon’s fire is heatless.
Todd: (Catching Eli’s trend) Of course it is! You know what buddy I am trying to level with you here but this is getting ridiculous. I have one more idea. How about we just spray paint this “Dragon” and then we will know that he does, in fact exist? Spray paint, from a can. Can’s (Puts the can in Eli’s face) exist.
Eli: That would work except…
Todd: (Interrupting) Except?
Eli: Did I mention that my dragon is…incorporeal?
Natalie: It means having no material body or form…
Todd: Thanks Natalie, I know. What I meant is this is ridiculous! No, it’s been ridiculous. Now it is getting ABSURD! Dragon’s don’t exist, Eli. They never have and they never will. You do not have a dragon. You have a bunch of space and some air living in the corner of your basement. You are just a high school sophomore with way too much time on his hands that has been at the marijuana a tad bit too much lately. I am done with this. Natalie get your coat, we’re leaving.
Natalie: He has a point Eli, we’ve been trying but you really have no proof.
Eli: I have faith.
Todd: Hate to break it to you buddy but faith doesn’t get anybody anywhere now a days. (Putting on his jacket) Hey Eli, tell me this. What’s the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon that spits heatless fire and no dragon at all?
Eli: I don’t know Todd. What?
Todd: Absolutely fucking nothing.
(Eli sits down in defeat.)
Natalie: Todd, don’t be an ass.
Todd: I am not the one being an ass here Nat; at least I am not making up stories and preaching about faith to people. I am what I say. I am seventeen and go to Pinewood High school. I have one sister, a mom and a dad. I believe in what is and think following fairy tales and miss-guided notions of “invisible floating dragons” is stupid.
Eli: I am sorry…
Todd: (Interrupting) Enough. I don’t want to hear anymore preaching from you.
Natalie: Todd, let him speak.
Todd: Don’t you think he has spoken enough for one day?
Eli: I know you don’t believe me Todd, and I am sorry for that. I also understand where you are coming from. How could I not look like anything but a freak to someone like you when I: invite you to my home, take you down into my garage, and then attempt to show you a…dragon. I am sorry that you don’t have the capacity to believe things that your natural senses tell you can’t be true. But most of all I am sorry that you can’t see my dragon. He’s beautiful.
Natalie: Eli, maybe you should stop talking.
Todd: No, I want to hear this Natalie.
Eli: He is wonderful; May I describe him to you?
Todd: If for every sentence you speak I get to lash out at you?
Natalie: Todd no. Eli, don’t do it.
Natalie: God! (Walks to the back of the room)
Eli: I need you to hear about my dragon Todd. You need to know for your own good.
Todd: Then start. Describe him to me.
(Todd and Eli stand facing each other while Natalie fades into the background. A huge chalk board is there and Natalie sketches out what Eli sees.)
Eli: My dragon is great in many respects, for he has a body built of sapphires.
Todd: You are a child describing a fantasy, nothing exists that can’t be seen.
Eli: And he has silvery hair laced like a Celtic chain.
Todd: Your mother was drunk when she had you. Your father wasn’t even there.
Eli: he has eyes built to see through the hearts of the impure and the scared…
Todd: You’re a retarded fool who will never know the love of a girl.
Eli: And he is looking at you now. His fire cools the skin of the non-believing. You have shivers now huh?
Todd: (Ignoring the fact that he does) Eli you’re a fucking LOON! THERE IS NO DRAGON HERE! They don’t exist and if they did why would one live with you? You are a loser who has nothing going for yourself. God, even your own father bailed on you. I don’t know if this is some fucked up shit to deal with that or what but stop it! Stop. You are losing the only friends you have.
(Stepping back from the looming dragon in the back ground, Natalie reappears, entranced by the Sapphire dragon.)
Natalie: (Softly) Todd?
Todd: (Ignoring Natalie, losing control of his fear) Want more Eli? Okay here’s some more reality check. You failed math last quarter because you slept through half of it. You tried to get with Stacie Moore but she rejected you because she says you look like you have Down’s syndrome.
(While Todd is lashing Eli the Sapphire dragon moves ever closer and closer in behind him. Eli stands smiling while Natalie grows quiet from terror/ amazement at the existence of the dragon.)
Todd: You suck at baseball; even the coach’s daughter can out pitch you. You are the worst member of the year book team. You always get put on the last two pages because as Vincent says, “Nobody can fuck up the last two pages, they’re adds.” And we all know how much of a fuck up you are Eli.
Natalie: Christ sake Todd, look behind you.
Todd: (Refusing to look behind him) you’re mom is a hooker, I’ve had her myself!
Eli: All you are is noise Todd; Furious and loud but none-the-less noise.
Natalie: It exists! Todd, god damn it; the Dragon exists!!
Todd: She only cost me a quarter!!!
(Todd can’t handle it and finally turns around. He fully confronts the dragon. Fear consumes him and he falls to his knees. Natalie is crying on stage left from her disbelief while Eli is smiling in awe on stage right. Down center Todd kneels before a great dragon.)
Todd: So with the hands of my own family and friend, I am shown to the dragon’s lair. What a world. What a beautifully fucked up world.
(Todd stares into the dragon’s eye while the stage falls to black. All we see is the dragon’s ever present blue eyes. Todd screams. End.)
Hi there - this is an interesting piece. I liked a lot of the dialogue and I like Todd - I like the way he has thought through all these plans. I liked the idea of the dragon.
I don't know if you're done with this piece. I don't know if you need Natalie. Do you? Isn't this really between Todd and Eli?
And while I thought that Todd was the most interesting character I also thought he had the most inexplicable lapses. Todd is a guy who likes Eli, right? So why does he choose to really stick the knife in to get Eli to understand there is no dragon? What does he think will be accomplished by doing that? Because if he is just doing it because he hates Eli, then Todd is just an inexplicable sadist. But more important than that: why does Todd suddenly see the Dragon? Is he insulting Eli more and more in the hopes of putting off the vision of the dragon? If so, can you hint at that some way in the script? What changes in Todd for him to see what he could not see before? Could it even be Eli's faith in Todd?
Thank you so much for your feedback! I will try and answer your questions as best as possible. First of all, it is definitely not a finished piece. It is having it's first stage reading on october 28th and that will be a great help.
Each of the three characters represent a religious stand point. Todd = Atheist, Eli = Christian, Natalie = agnostic. Without her the piece would fall apart because she is really vital as a mediator between the two and also she is meant to represent how agnostics kind of fall silent in the entire religious debate. (She physically disappears before the show is over, and she converts to Christianity when she sees the dragon) But from your comment I will note to make her more poignant. :D
As far as Todd, I think that the relationship is really between Natalie and Eli with Todd tagging along with his sister. He likes Eli, but when he has a chance to explain why he thinks Christians are wrong, he'll take it. There is also an element of fear with the idea of the dragon being shoved into his face. He doesn't want to believe but when Eli's faith becomes strong enough, Todd has to succumb to it's power. Then he truly sees the dragon. Does this make more sense? There are changes in Todd, slight ones, but that is for the actor to interpret and show. Though I am going back and am going to reevaluate that. Thanks for pointing it out!