I HAD A DREAM…

 

(SOUNDTRACK-TRIO)

 

BEGIN w/STROBE, changing breakneck (from WIFEBEATER-GREEN LEATHER PANTS-BROWN BOOTS) into PINSTRIPE VEST-PLAID KILT  outfit, with BLACK BOOTS, WHITE SOCKS. Pause, then do RUNWAY WALK, swinging shoulders, slight pout, swagger in boots. Back to 1ST POSITION. TAKE OFF OUTFIT. KILL STROBE. VOLUME DOWN.  LAMP LIGHTING. Standing there raw, naked, vulnerable, but strong in DANCER’S UNDIES.

 

(hopeful, earnest, idealist, eyes/mouth wide/urgent) I HAD A DREAM…

 

(raise voice, as though over hubbub, but confidential to audience) I was trying on clothes in a covert space for a covert sect of Manhattan society. (coy, hang head, smile, sheepish) It was like I was a (accentuate) fresh piece of meat (PULLING ON EGG DRESS W/SNEAKERS)

 

HOLD UP MICROCASSETTE RECORDER/TAPE (disparaging, dominating) Hey…you.

 

(point to self—act innocent, surprised)

 

ME-A voice, a familiar voice, started (emphasize) directing me, telling me where to go, what to do. It was…emasculating, but I’m embarrassed to say…I liked it.

 

T-Yeah, that’s right.

 

(gesture w/right hand, mouth “okay”)

 

T-Jesus. Whatsamatter w/you?

 

(hesitant, bemused, obliging)

 

M to T-I’m ready. What  do you want me to do?

 

M-Somehow, I wanted to please this voice—you know, I’ve always been afraid of being judged, but lately I’ve been like…(shake head w/hand gesture) fuck that…I gotta go out on a limb, really risk making a fool of myself (gesture w/finger)—only then will I finally be revealing thosee parts of me everybody says I hide.

 

T-Fuck. I told you before. (beat) You’re hot stuff, right?

 

(to T, shrug, hand gesture) I guess so.

 

M-People have told me that, but I like to be humble. I think it’s important.

 

T-Okay. Let’s see your shit (beat). Jesus. We’re trying to (emphasize) entertain these people, right?

 

I nod.

 

M-Yes, exactly. (finger gesture) That’s what I do. (nod) I’m an entertainer.

 

T-Move your sweet ass, you fuckin’ pussy.

 

M-What the voice didn’t realize is, I (emphasize) am in touch w/my feminine side, but this in fact makes me (emphasize) more (shake head) not less of a man.

 

GO OVER TO OUTFITS ON HANGERS, FUMBLE WITH.

 

T-(lightens a little, now ordering me patiently) No, no. Just work w/what you got. Let’s see you walk. (emphasize) Confident now, w/a little (emphasize) swagger. (beat, as if I should know better) You’re wearin’ a fuckin’ dress, right?

 

M-People say I’m very (emphasize) macho in a dress (giggle, coy). Have you ever noticed how (emphasize) tough most drag queens are?

 

I DO IT.

 

T-(festive, bitchy, diva-ish, gleeful) Yes, yes. (beat) Now you’re (emphasize) talkin’. (beat, lurch, voice drops, a little indifferent) Okay, uh, (beat) go ahead and…try something else on (beat, embarrassed, pained) uh…whatever you want.

 

M-I was getting under the voice’s skin (beat, nod), I could tell. I was gonna have to play this one right (beat). I decided to try out a new style.

 

SIFT THROUGH OUTFITS, A LITTLE FRANTIC, PULL OUT RAINBOW JACKET ENSEMBLE, HOLD UP, BEGIN DRESSING.

 

M-(male model, surfer dude, laid back narcissist, naif, mellow beefcake guy, speak very slowly, w/gaps, exaggerated articulation, drawl) Um…I want you to check out this look. It’s…uh…like a…(brighten) neo-preppie (lower again) kinda thing (beat, brighten, nod) I think it might play really well to (emphasize, look at audience, thrust head, phony grin) THIS crowd.

 

(long pause, struggling to get ready, very self focused, breathing)

 

M-(eager to please, part good son, part young hustler) (shrug) So…um…(brow up, jerk head) whaddya think?

 

T-(paternal, avuncular, big bro, Boy Scout leader) What do I think?

 

(like suddenly realizes why I would say something like that, empathetic, encouraging, raise voice) What do I think! (unbridled, spits words out, a little too aggressive) I think you’re a fuckin’ (emphasize) genius, man. (committed, like expert on  subject) You have the aesthetic sense of a (searches for words)…a (exclaim) Jesus, I don’t know…(breathing) a freakin’…young…Mondrian…fuckin’ Ken Russell…Broadway Joe…I don’t know (long beat, catches breath heavily).

 

SOUNDTRACK-CUE BUTTHOLE SURFERS. ALSO CUE RECORDER.

 

M-The crowd was (emphasize, nod) loving it…clapping in about as (emph/nod) uproarious a manner as they could manage in their dignified way. (look reflective, like something transforming’s about to happen) But the voice…(shake head in disbelief) he didn’t even (emphasize) care about (emphasize, boyish) them anymore (beat). They got very still.

 

T-(suddenly still, eerie, calm, controlled, though still breathing) You know what you need to (emphasize) do? (beat) You need to come over here (ardor rising, almost hysterical). You need to come over here…right now, and…

 

PUT HANDS OUT QUIZZICALLY, AS THOUGH I DON”T UNDERSTAND WHY HE’S DOING THIS.

 

T-(peaking, yell) Get the fuck over here.

 

HESITATE, TAKE DEEP BREATH, LOOK DOUBTFUL, SIGH.

 

T-(barely controlled, quivering, trying to put on patient face, stuttering) Iiii…said…come over here (high, cracking voice, whine) now…(adult baby voice) please.

 

STROLL GRUDGINGLY OVER, TRYING TO KEEP COOL.

 

T-(tender, drawn out) Heyyy…Heyyy. (seductive) You…wanna do this, right?

 

SHRUG, LIKE I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON.

 

T-(voice deepens, dominating, getting excited) Yeahhh. (beat) I (trying to be playful, lilt in voice) thought so (long beat, breathing, makeout sounds)

 

STROBE ON, LIGHTS OUT.

 

T-Mmm…mmm (passion gets better of, moaning w/pleasure) Ohh…Ohh yeah…Yeah…Yeah.

 

GO DOWN ON HIM.

 

M-(sheepish, wide eyed, hands out) I figured…(grin, shake head) hey, um…(pointed, nod) it couldn’t hurt.

 

T-(vocal) Unnh…Unnh…Yeah, boy…Yeah.

 

UNZIP PANTS, LET “HIM” TAKE TURN.

 

M-(breathing, serious, looking down and at audience, thrusting) Ohhh…(shake head) Oh God…Oh God…Yes.

 

“HE” TURNS ME AROUND, I PULL MY PANTS AND UNDERWEAR DOWN OVER BUTT, HE BANGS MY ASS. I MOVE BACK AND FORTH IN TIME W/GRUNTS, MOUTH AGAPE, GUTTURAL, BREATHLESS.

 

(at same time)

 

M-Unnh…Unnh…Yeah baby…Yeah.

T-(ghetto, mack daddy, pimp) Yeeeah…Yeeeah…Take dat shit.

 

FLIP “HIM” AROUND, TAKE MY TURN PUMPIN’, GRIPPING “HIS” SHOULDERS. TALK LIKE BLUESMAN, LEANING TOWARD “HIS” EAR.

 

M-Thass right. Thass right, daddy…(like Aunt Jemima) Mmm Mmm good!

 

STROBE OFF, FLASHLIGHT IN FACE.

 

M-Suddenly, (beat) they were back into it.

 

CUE RECORDER, raise voice, overwhelmed.

 

M-They (emphasize, nod) loved it. (beat) They were drowning us in applause. (thoughtful, calm, hushed, beat) I looked at them…just took them in…and after awhile…(breathless) it was like…(shake head) time had stopped. (beat) I could hear nothing.

 

LIGHTS/SURFERS OFF, STRAFE W/FLASHLIGHT, CUE TAPE, LIP SYNCH MY SONG “FLICKER”.

 

FLASHLIGHT OFF, LIGHTS ON.

 

M-(thoughtful) It was at some point…during this…(emphasize, like we’re sharing joke) “interlude” (beat) that I realized…why the voice was so…(emphasize, nod) familiar (acknowledging audience’s suspicion) Yeah…if that’s what you were thinking…(hand gesture) you guessed right (long beat, as though trying to help understand, throw out hands) You cringe…but you gotta understand (beat, emphasize, nod) society did this to me…(shake head) to us…don’t you see…(emphasize, nod) this…is where we’re headed…with that (mocking, use hands for quotes) cult of the self thing…we glorified back in the 20th century (exuberant, revelatory, cleansed) We’re goin’ back to Adam and Eve, man…the Garden of Eden…(pronounce, throw out hands) but this time, we’re takin’ it all the way to the point where it’s just (emphasize, nod, gleeful) you that exists for you, right? (down home Keillor smile, baby voice) Is there someone better ta love?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(SOUNDTRACK-DEF LEPPARD)

 

BEGIN W/STROBE, WEARING STRIPED DRESS SHIRT UNTUCKED, PORTNOY’S WIG, RUST KHAKIS, MAROON WINGTIPS. CROUCH, TAKE DEEP DRAG OF CIG (LIQUID CEMENT UNCAPPED AND SPILLED A LITTLE ONTO PAPER TOWEL, HIDDEN ONSTAGE), EYES CLOSED, THEN OPEN THEM, CRANE HEAD LITTLE BY LITTLE, LOOK TO THE SKY, WATCHING SMOKE AS I BREATHE IT OUT SLOWLY. RISE UP, BOUNCE AROUND ROOM IN JERKY, AWKWARD, ADOLESCENT WAY, MOUTHING LYRICS W/CONTORTED EXPRESSION, BANGING HEAD REPETITIVELY. GET UP AND DOWN A FEW TIMES, THEN SIT, STROBE OFF, FULL LIGHTING, VOLUME DOWN. FAMILY PHOTO COLLAGE ON DISPLAY.

 

(somewhat more resigned, but at peace) I HAD A DREAM…

 

(boyish but angst ridden, furrowed brow) I was back in high school…in my room in Chevy Chase, MD, just outside of D.C…and I was (expression of hard to imagine joy, wistful, far off, emphasize) really (beat, at audience, intent) rockin’ out. (TAKE ORGASMIC DRAG OF CIG, COUGH) I was…smokin’…what we used to call…a Sherman Stick…cigarette dipped in PCP…with the window wide open (nod, emphasize) rockin’…and phasing in and out… (CUE TAPE) of a porno movie…playing on the Zenith color TV…normally kept in the family den on a wheeled console…so if  I wanted privacy…all I had to do was pull it the few feet down the hall and into my room (beat) Periodically, (UNZIP PANTS, MASTURBATE, VOICE QUAVERING) I would break off and masturbate with furious intent…looking down at my giant penis (PUT IT BACK IN PANTS, PEER CURIOUSLY AT AUDIENCE) It was miraculous to see a cock in a pussy (exclaim like kid)…just like that…they were slimy, pulsing, living, breathing organisms…little creatures. Suddenly (look around expectantly, anxiety creeping in) my mom rapped at the door. (TAPE OFF)

 

(pained, paranoid, claustrophobic, jittery) Yeah?

 

She asked what I was doing in there.

 

(miraculously pull it together, devise, self-preservational) Listening to some music (beat). Resting (beat). Don’t come in, please.

 

That was the last thing I should’ve said (beat). She burst in and asked again what was going on (beat). She had this way of inspiring (emphasize, earnest) fear in me.

 

TOSS CIG NONCHALANTLY OUT WINDOW, TURN CHANNEL ON TV W/O MISSING BEAT.

 

(frustrated at intrusion, interruption, in complete denial of anything I’ve been doing, though reeling, punch drunk, a little aggressive from the Sherman, whining a little): Nothin’!

 

I peered toward the TV, as if the porn could return any moment (DO IT).

 

(look back at her, glazing, head sagging, lock eyes) (w/wonder): Then the weirdest thing happened (beat). It was as though my mom could see…I was having a hard enough time w/the world as it was…and she had decided to let this one go (beat). I felt like I knew her…for the first time in years…in that dream (beat). She told me “enough TV for the night…put it back in the den (beat).” Then she turned and headed for my door (beat). I could’ve sworn she gave me a knowing look first (beat), but it was only a dream.

 

POP TAPE OUT AND URGENTLY BURY IT SOMEWHERE.

 

(burst of energy, comfortably numbed, cow w/cud, methadone client) So I rolled the TV…out of my room…and back down the hall (DO IT, beat). I felt somehow…a weight had been lifted…like I was gonna be…left in peace…to wallow in…whatever I needed to (beat). I rushed back to my room…and shut the door tight (beat, wild-eyed, desperate, but calm now that alone) like a kid in a candy store.

 

CUE RAFFERTY, JUST LAMP LIGHTING.

 

(expression of bliss, fluttering eyes, detachment) I took a deep drag (DO) and gazed out the window (beat, blood throbbing, surge of heat washing over, glassy eyed) watching dusk spread its grasping, enveloping fingers…over the (childlike smile) possibly haunted but…oddly beautiful…brown shingled house…next door (beat) that had an air…of Hansel and Gretel…about it (beat, like telling ghost story, roving audience w/eyes) symbols carved…into its shutters (beat) stars…diamonds…moons (beat) dense shrubbery…which the disheveled, eccentric, middle aged son…who was taking over the place…from his decrepit, sagging faced but somehow dignified eccentric old father (beat) would roam in…late at night…beaming a flashlight around…like a mad scientist…on a mission (beat) and all the other beguiling, eccentric old houses…each…its own…sprawling Pandora’s box…full of secrets (beat) in a neighborhood…of loveable, aging eccentrics…rapidly giving way…to the newly dubbed at the time…yuppies (beat) and in that dream…for a flicker…of a moment…I knew that someday…everything…would be all right (look at audience wide eyed, hopeful, breathing hard, start to sob).

 

RAFFERTY OFF. JUST FLASHLIGHT, STRAFE.

 

If I could feel something/

Anything/

That could touch me/

I would be the most/

Thankful guy/

In the world/

But right now/

Other people/

Are so far away/

I can only float/

In this space/

Inside myself/

I call home.

 

(wry, a little self-loathing) (FLASHLIGHT IN FACE) I have to admit…the sobbing…was in significant part…due to self-pity…and it felt (emphasize) pretty damn good. (beat, soften) Then the moment passed…and I felt angry…w/a gnawing sense of hopelessness again.

 

TAKE DEEP DRAG, TOTTER, WOBBLY, CLUNK DOWN ON TABLE, HAND OUTSTRETCHED, CLUTCHING CIG.

 

(whisper) So I went…to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(SOUNDTRACK-ORNETTE COLEMAN)

 

BEGIN W/LIGHTS UP, WEARING RED PLAID SUIT, NO SHIRT, GOLD-PLATED “M” MEDALLION NECKLACE, BROWN FELT HAT, BLACK SNEAKS, LEANING ON RABBIT CANE. VOLUME DOWN.

 

(as if already past, to Audience) I HAD A DREAM…

 

(wistful) I lost it all…and ended up out on street (exaggerated, earnest), exploding people’s preconceptions…about who a homeless person is (beat, up, raconteur). I’d been lurking around the Union Square 6 platform…one spring weekday morning…w/o a whole lotta luck…so as the uptown train arrived…I decided to board (beat, finger, professoral) I’d found that line…to have…a demographic…both wealthy and liberal…which equals philanthropic at street level (beat). I cased out the car (beat). People were in…morning mode…buried in newspapers…sipping coffee…dozing (beat, shake head). Not promising.

 

(dogged patience but performing, charming, to Subway Car) Ladies and  gentlement (beat), I know it’s hard to believe these days…when you look around and see all these young kids…w/their trendy clothes and cocky good spirits…but us serious, starving artists…do still exist.

 

To A-In my  accumulating experience on the street…and I discovered in my dream that, believe me…it happens quick…I’d found…an honest…but not piteous approach…most effective (beat, wonder). It’s amazing what you can get from people…if you just…present yourself…as you are (beat). I don’t know why we’ve…gotten away from that…these days (beat). Anyway…a few folks…peered at me w/disdain…shaking their heads…and rolling their eyes…at what I’d said (beat, never say die). I decided to press on (beat). Maybe I’d started out…too cynical.

 

To SC (exaggerated humble)-That is not to say…that there is anything wrong…w/being young, confident and beautiful…I mean, the youth…are our lifeblood…we need their idealism and, uh…persistence…it’s just that (long beat, shoe gaze, look back up, a little doleful) some of us haven’t had it so easy (beat). We’ve had to scrape…for every last penny…so we can keep our little room…in a shabby tenement loft…pick up pasta and rice and beans…for sustenance…(gather pride) get acrylics and canvases, needles and thread, props…and fuckin’ four track recorders to make our art (beat). We’re not begging on the streets all the time…we have temp jobs, restaurant shifts, go go gigs (beat). But we don’t wanna sit on our asses…when we have no work (beat, shocked, a little wounded). Then we’re just…one day closer…to getting down…to nothing.

 

A (a little ebullient)-Now I’d hit the right chord (beat). People’s posture was relaxing (beat). They were…digging in pockets…casting thoughtful (smile, nod) glances my way…checking each other out (gesture w/finger) you (nod) know you’re doing it right…when a little (jaunty, shake head) love blooms…in the car—(beat) change was jinglin’…hands were extending (beat) I made my way…down the line.

 

A/SC (WANDER THROUGH CROWD, politely)-Thank you very much. Thanks. Thank you. Thanks. Thank you very much. Oh, you’re too kind. Good day, sunshine. Hey, nice hat, buddy. Oh, what a beautiful morning. Chirp, chirp, chirp. Ha ha, got you there. Cheers. Cheerio.

 

A-I turned and faced the car again.

 

SC (a little jauntier, like sidewalk minister)-I really appreciate this, people…you know…all of us…including me…need to travel this city…with our eyes open…more often…and I don’t just mean…(look up) taking in…the stately architecture…that towers above us…breathing in…(inhale w/pleasure) the international aromas…that waft at will…through our streets…tuning in (cup ear expectantly)…to the nonstop rhythms…of strolling…marching…stumbling…dancing…prancing…clomping…strutting feet…the occasionally (hold hands up) overwhelming din…of all the voices…happy…angry…sad…the hummm…of the machinery…that makes our city run.

 

A-I could see they were digging my poetry (beat) Some of them…were shaking their heads and smiling…like they were…celebrating the fact…that in New York…even the bums are talented (LAUGH LIGHTLY, POINT)…A couple dignified…dreadlocked, bearded black jazz guys w/tall hats in black leather trenchcoats nodded…like I was…on the right track (SAY “HOW YA DOIN’” PIOUSLY). A Latin…high school kid…stared at me…real seriously…like he was…deigning to listen…and I should know…that was…a sign…of respect (SAY “ALRIGHT” GRAVELY). A couple young…Latinas…with him…giggled…like I was…cute (SMILE SWEETLY, RAISE EYEBROWS).

 

A-(gain commitment, gravity) I continued.

 

SC-I mean…yeah…a little sensory exploration…is a good…first step…in getting beyond ourselves…but (emphasize, nod) it gets to exactly what I’m talking about…(thoughtful) I mean…I feel like…most of the time…each of us thinks…he or she…is the only person…on earth…the only one…trying to survive…to enjoy…him or herself (look around, genuinely amazed, dumbfounded, long beat, emphasize) Shit (beat) You or me…one of…how many million is it now (beat, touch of sorrow but forceful)? Sometimes…I catch myself…bitin’ off the head…of a…pedestrian…who accidentally cut me off…snappin’…at a deli guy…who’s slow…givin’ me…change for…cigarettes…whatever (beat) and I’m (beat, be this) embarrassed (beat, look around audience). What is it…about this city…that makes us…so (beat, emphasize) uptight, so (beat) hairtrigger, so (beat) impatient, so (beat) selfish (beat). This city…seems to…hammer away…at our defenses (beat, uplift, head up, perky, swiveling) Well, I…for one…am going to…strive (emphasize, like Brit) not to give in…this year (beat) I…am going to be (emphasize) nice…to…pay attention…where I’m…walking…who I’m…interrupting.

 

A-In my dream, I was looking…at people’s outstretched hands…as I gave this speech…to confirm…if they had anything…for me…in ‘em (beat). Suddenly…I came upon…a hand…that was open…but empty…facing up…to me (look up curiously, jarred, almost speechless). The culprit…was beautiful…strangely radiant…not of this earth…Everything around her…(surprised) vanished…so there was just…us.

 

(SOUNDTRACK-JAMES CHANCE)

 

(FLASHLIGHT IN FACE, OTHER LIGHTS OFF)

 

A-She asked…(matter of fact) what I do.

 

TO GIRL (nervous, quizzical, taken aback)-What do you mean?

 

A-She wanted to know…what my art was like (I hate that question).

 

TO G (laconic)-Oh (beat) uh (beat) well…you know…it’s hard…for an artist…to describe…his or her work.

 

A-She demanded…I do it anyway.

 

G-Uh (beat) I don’t know (beat, making effort to explain) often it’s…semi-autobiographical (beat, coalescing thoughts) For instance…I write these scenes…in which…several archetypes…collide…in some temporary situation (beat) and…um…I capture…what passes…between them…in those few…moments…you know (beat) how those…exchanges…give…meaning…definition…to our lives.

 

A-She told me…that sounded…interesting…she often thought…about…those…situations…but…she…was ready…to see…something…from me…that…actions…speak louder…than words.

 

G (dubious, suddenly shy)-Like what?

 

A-Whatever you want…she said.

 

G (furrow brow, figuring)-Um (beat) maybe…I’ll…sing…something…that…often…seems…to be…a good…way to…start.

 

A-She…just nodded…as if…to say…go ahead (beat) It…took me…a second.

 

(CUT CHANCE)

 

(SING BUCKLEY, STRAFED W/FLASHLIGHT)

 

(THEN FLASHLIGHT IN FACE)

 

A (gentle)-Not bad…she said…and started…to get up (beat, moment of heartbreak) It was…her stop (beat, brim over) I wanna hear more songs…she said…holding out her hand (beat, coy, shrug) I followed (beat, furrow brow, serious) So…love…exists (beat, smile insouciantly, raise brow, shake head) I’m as (emphasize, draw out) surprizzzed as you are…

 

LIGHTS UP.

 

END.