Welp, I figure it's time to cast my bread upon the waters, as it were. Enjoy (I hope)!
LOUGHLIN: A captain.
OCHOA: A lieutenant
STENSON: A lieutenant
(A pond surrounded by plants. Insects buzz; a few frogs croak. Suddenly, roaring engines, pounding feet, massive shouting O.S.)
LOUGHLIN (O.S.): Give me perimeter sweeps! Where the hell are the tents? You three, go see what's down that hill. I don't want anybody sneaking up on us. Go go go!
(OCHOA enters in fatigues and pauses when she sees the pond. She comes up to the pond and, after checking to be sure she's unobserved, drops to her knees behind it.)
OCHOA: Yemaya, I dedicate this sacred pool to you. Bless its waters and any who drink from it. May all thirsts be quenched.
(OCHOA looks around again. She pulls a large vial from beneath her shirt and dips it into the pond. She holds it up and looks at the water. LOUGHLIN enters. OCHOA hastily slips the vial back under her shirt but is still kneeling.)
LOUGHLIN: Good work, Ochoa.
OCHOA (salutes): Ma'am.
LOUGHLIN (calling O.S.): Stenson!
(STENSON runs on.)
STENSON: Ma'am! (Stops.) What's this? Is Ochoa having devil-time?
LOUGHLIN: Stenson! Ochoa is a member of the United States Army, and she has the right to her beliefs—no matter how weird they are. Anyway, she's found a likely contaminant. Get the spray.
STENSON: Ma'am, yes, ma'am.
OCHOA (stands hastily): What? No!
LOUGHLIN: Stand down, Lieutenant.
OCHOA: Captain Loughlin, no!
LOUGHLIN: Are you questioning my orders, Ochoa?
OCHOA: There's no contamination here, ma'am. This water is clean.
LOUGHLIN: You don't know that.
OCHOA: I do. It's the entire reason I'm posted with this company: because I do know that. If you're going to disregard all of my suggestions, why am I even here?
STENSON: What I've been wondering all along.
LOUGHLIN: Stenson! That's enough. Get the spray.
STENSON: Yes, ma'am! (STENSON salutes and runs off.)
LOUGHLIN: Ochoa, it's a cesspool. These puddles always are. By this time tomorrow, this place will be so overrun with mosquitos our grandkids will itch.
OCHOA: Mosquitos only breed in stagnant water. The water is moving.
LOUGHLIN: That's the wind.
OCHOA: What wind? Something's feeding it. Keeping it circulating.
LOUGHLIN: Just because it's moving doesn't mean it's clean. You ever heard of the Cuyahoga River fire? This thing is seething with parasites, and I want them blasted back to the primordial ooze.
OCHOA: Ma'am, please look. (Pointing) Mimosa, spiny restharrow, artemisia. That is a clutch of salamander eggs, and that is an ophrydium. I can't think of a better indicator of water health—not to mention the fact that the water's clear enough for me to see all of that in the first place. Look. (OCHOA kneels, rolls up her sleeve, and puts her arm in the water.) Perfectly clear. And you can see the currents. This water is moving. Captain, in case you haven't noticed, we're in a desert. Water sources are precious. Let's not destroy this one.
LOUGHLIN: Our supply trucks carry enough water to supply the entire army for the next three years. We are not taking this chance, Ochoa.
(STENSON enters, carrying large canister with spray nozzle.)
LOUGHLIN (to STENSON): Blast it. (To OCHOA) Ochoa, move.
(OCHOA takes her arm out of the water but remains kneeling.)
OCHOA: What does it do?
LOUGHLIN: You know what it does. Stand aside.
OCHOA: I'd like to hear you say it, ma'am.
LOUGHLIN: It will kill every organism living in and around this puddle for the next year.
(STENSON whistles softly.)
OCHOA: You're killing it.
LOUGHLIN: For God's sake, it's a pothole full of muddy water. Now move and let Stenson do her job.
LOUGHLIN: That is an order, Ochoa. If you don't move this instant, I will have you up on charges so fast your ass won't know it's falling 'til it hits the ground.
OCHOA (stands): Then let's see if my religious discrimination charge trumps your insubordination charge.
STENSON: On what grounds?
OCHOA: I am an initiate of Yemaja, orisha of the oceans. All waters are sacred to her. By poisoning this pond, you are desecrating a place of worship and restricting my ability to practice my chosen faith.
STENSON: Devil faith.
OCHOA: That's your opinion, but I have as much right to practice it as you do yours.
LOUGHLIN: You are placing your own wants over the health and safety of this entire company.
OCHOA: I am not. (OCHOA pulls the vial from under her shirt.) I have a sample. Chan could have it tested in fifteen minutes.
LOUGHLIN: Or I could have it sprayed in two.
(OCHOA opens the vial and takes a large drink of water.)
OCHOA: Now you have to test it. If it's contaminated, so am I.
LOUGHLIN: Damn it! Stenson, take the damned vial to Chan. As soon as her equipment is set up, this is her first priority. Got that?
STENSON: Yes, ma'am. (STENSON sullenly takes vial from OCHOA.) You'll be fine. Satan will take the poison out of you.
(Clamor O.S.: shouting, pounding feet, car horns.)
OCHOA: How many times do I have to tell you that's not how it works, Stenson? I don't worship Satan. If I did, I'da had him turn you into a frog the day I met you.
LOUGHLIN: Knock it off, both of you. Stenson, you have your orders. And see what the hell that racket's about.
STENSON: Ma'am. (STENSON salutes and exits.)
LOUGHLIN: What the hell is wrong with you, Ochoa? You can't keep disobeying orders like this.
OCHOA: You would do the same thing. If we'd rolled in here and found some broken-down church I said wasn't safe, you would've chained yourself to the altar.
LOUGHLIN: This isn't a church!
OCHOA: It's my church. And I have taken all the jokes and rolled eyes and whispers about Satan that I'm going to. This is my line in the sand, Captain. Either this company starts treating my religion with respect—starting with you—
LOUGHLIN: Or you'll hex us?
OCHOA: Or I'll sue you.
LOUGHLIN: This isn't even about religion. It's about this water.
OCHOA: They're the same thing to me, and the fact that you don't get that just proves my point.
(STENSON runs onstage.)
STENSON: Captain Loughlin! Captain!
LOUGHLIN: Did Chan run the test already?
STENSON: She didn't have to. The scouts found a village at the bottom of the hill. Three hundred people and a whole crapload of goats. This is their aquifer.
STENSON: It runs underground a half klick, then pops up as a stream. Supplies water for this whole end of the valley.
LOUGHLIN: Shit, shit, shit.
OCHOA: It's okay, ma'am.
LOUGHLIN: It's not okay, Ochoa. I almost poisoned hundreds of people.
STENSON: You were doing what was best for the company.
LOUGHLIN: Oh, God. Hundreds of civilians. And their goats! These things are always contaminated. How the hell was I supposed to know it wasn't contaminated? (to OCHOA) You knew.
OCHOA: About the village? No.
LOUGHLIN: About the water.
OCHOA: It's my job to know.
STENSON: You could've said.
OCHOA: Are you shitting me, Stenson? I've done nothing but say for the past ten minutes. I even drank the damned stuff.
LOUGHLIN: All right, all right. Don't be smug.
OCHOA: Not smug. Relieved. Happy.
LOUGHLIN: You get to keep your church.
OCHOA: It's a victory for everyone, ma'am.
LOUGHLIN: And your goddess or whatever is happy, too, right? Not going to turn us into frogs or anything.
OCHOA: For the last time, ma'am, it doesn't work that way.
Too Black Hat/White Hat. Too preachy. Doesn't present an interesting moral question. Loughlin is too much of a one-dimensional ass that is very obviously there to be hated by the audience.
Strikes me very much as a "Cause Play"; that is, the type of play that's done to raise awareness about a particular cause, like racism, or LBGT rights, or in this case, religious intolerance. The problem with many of these plays is that they often just merely hammer the audience with what any sane member of the audience already knows, that discrimination is BAD. You have to have an interesting take that goes beyond that; this play doesn't. If you want to ask the question of "Why does discrimination happen?", your answer has to be more interesting than "Because some people are stupid jerks."
Also I don't buy this line, "I do. It's the entire reason I'm posted with this company: because I do know that. If you're going to disregard all of my suggestions, why am I even here?" The U.S. Army (or whatever army this is) posted somebody with a unit because the Army thinks he has a mystical connection with nature? It'd be analogous to posting Water Dowsers with Combat Engineer units.
What exactly is Ochoa's job in this unit? What does he do, officially? If he's there to determine water quality, shouldn't he be the one doing the test? It's also naive of him to expect his fellow soldiers to make decisions in the field based on his religious hunches. It'd be the same as a soldier calling up artillery support on that tree line over there "because God told him to."
Also why can't Loughlin wait 15 minutes for test? It's not like they seem to be doing anything pressing. It seems they'll be camping the night there anyways. Or is it mainly just because Loughlin is a stupid jerk?
That's how I responded to it, and what I'd think if I saw it as an audience member. Sorry for the brutal honesty.
As far as the "place of worship" back and forth goes; what if they got in a situation where Loughlin was right? Where they needed to spray somewhere to prevent soldiers from catching a host of infectious diseases? Would Ochoa still claim "religious intolerance" and knowingly put lives at risk for his religious beliefs?
Thank you for your thoughts, QuixotesGhost. You weren't the only person to note confusion as to what Ochoa's job was, exactly. She's not there because of a mystical connection to nature; she's there because she has a PhD in hydrology, specifically in determining water health. I've since added a couple of lines about that. I'll also take a look at Loughlin to see where I can make her more rounded, as well.
The question about if Loughlin had been right is also an interesting one. I think that adding the clarification of Ochoa's qualifications eliminates the question from this piece, because it's clear she's basing her assessment on years of training and expertise, rather than a hunch or *just* her religious beliefs. But it's interesting to ponder.