Monday, January 16, 2012

English for Beginners - Act 1, Scene Three

 It is very late.  
Everyone is in the house, which is brightly light, and has plates of food in their hands and are milling about eating, talking and drinking.  There is a general noise of party and talk.  Bits and pieces of conversations can be heard.

LORELEI
Well, I just recently moved back to the Bay Area.  I hate San Francisco.  It's too small town for me.  Anyway, Julia and I went to school together. We were the outcasts of the theatre department because everyone else were all a bunch of republican cow farmers.  It's like all the miss peaches and avocados and pomegranates or whatever from Modesto and Brisbane or where ever all thought they'd take theatre classes before moving to LA to be famous.  I hope they all hopped off the bus and right into porn movies.  Some of them did. Those cowtown people like to fuck.  What about you?

CLYDE
Oh.  Well -

We don't hear the rest of this conversation.

MIKE
Mike - Laura's Husband
You can't divide yourself up.  To produce good work you have to be focused and dedicated.  So, I'm having to say no to a lot of projects right now.  That way, I can give more of myself and do better work with the projects I say yes to.

AJ
Makes sense.  What have you said no to?

MIKE
A few acting gigs. I really need to just be a playwright, you know?  That's where my heart is.  And then a few producing jobs.

AJ
But you are still going to keep the theatre company going, right?

MIKE
I'll still be involved, but in a much more limited sense.  The beauty of the company is that I really only have to be involved a few months out of the year.  Laura handles all the day to day stuff.  She's better at that anyway.  I'm really better with the artistic side.  I need someone to handle everything else.

AJ
A marriage made in heaven!

We don't hear the rest of this conversation

ANNE
Sure.

SADIE
Clyde is just so cute and he barely says anything at all.

ANNE
Uh-huh.

SADIE
I think they would make a good couple.

ANNE
Sure.

SADIE
They both look like the burning man type, you know.

ANNE
Right.

SADIE
Do you think we should spend the next two weeks trying to get them together?

ANNE
Sure.

SADIE
Hooray!  I love a project.

ANNE
Whatever.

We don't hear the rest of this conversation.

LAURA
I'm really looking forward to backing away from the company this year.  It's been a lot of fun, but it was never my ambition to do it for this long.  Mike was the one who wanted to start the company in the first place and it's really been a showcase for his work.  

JULIA
So what will happen to the company?

LAURA
Mike will take over the day to day stuff. I'm going to be in New York for three months.  There's no way I can manage it from there.

JULIA
You are lucky you have a relationship that is so supportive.

LAURA
We are very good at communicating.


We don't hear the rest of this conversation.

BRIAN
I thought you knew.

GREG
How would I know that?  It's not like he came up and told me I was being passive aggressive.  Besides, I've never been passive aggressive in my professional life.  It's not worth it.  I'm only passive aggressive in my personal life.  Ask Francis. He can tell you all about it I'm sure.   

BRIAN
You didn't talk to him the whole time we were in the bar.

GREG
One: There is nothing passive aggressive about that.  I knew that if we talked I would have to be fake and I hate being fake.  Two: It's not like he came up to me to talk to me either. And we didn't have a reason to talk to each other. He was there celebrating the opening of his show, I was celebrating the opening of mine. Three: If I wanted to be passive aggressive I would find a better way of doing it than just giving him the silent treatment in a crowded bar. 

BRIAN
Like what?

GREG
Write a scene in a play about it. But, in the end, that would just be petty.
  
We don't hear the rest of this conversation.
FRANCIS
Francis
He's the least self aware person I've ever met in my whole life. It's completely entertaining.

JASON
I drank too much.

FRANCIS
Why are you still awake?  Go to bed.

JASON
I need to talk to Laura.

FRANCIS
You're thinking of leaving aren't you?

JASON
I think maybe I shouldn't have come.  I don't know what I thought was going to happen.

FRANCIS
That you'd write a bitching play and have a vacation and hang out with me?

JASON
Don't get me wrong, that is all great -

FRANCIS
Sure.  Whateves.  I'm just your oldest friend ever.

JASON
Shit man -

FRANCIS
I'm sort of joking.  Listen.  The best way to get over her is proximity.  Work the fantasy right out of your head and stop being a whiny bitch.

JASON
I am such an idiot.

FRANCIS
Totally.  But it's not completely your fault.  Laura's great but she also married Mike which means she's damaged. 

JASON
Can we just talk about something else?

FRANCIS
Gladly.  I'm getting a production at Kitchen Dog Theatre next year.

JASON
That's awesome man.  Congratulations.

FRANCIS
Yeah.  I really like their work and it's going to be neat going back down to Texas.

JASON
Cool.  Cool.

FRANCIS
But I've really been giving more thought to trying to get into TV.

JASON
Uh-huh.

FRANCIS
I mean, that's where all the best stuff is happening right now.  And I would love love love the opportunity to write some shitty teen melodrama.

JASON
Yeah.  Great.

FRANCIS
And then I'm going to move to France and live out my dream of becoming an Elvis impersonator.

JASON
Sure.

FRANCIS
Only after I hire the Yakuza to kidnap you, take you to Japan, and turn you into a sex bot.

JASON
Good. Great.

FRANCIS
Why don't you drown in that self pity some more while I go get a drink?

JASON
Sure.
FRANCIS gets up and leaves JASON.  JASON doesn't notice.
LORELEI
I think the scene in San Francisco is bullshit.  There's no money for playwrights, not that there are that many playwrights anyway.  I mean, there's like five hardcore real playwrights and then, like, a million fly by night hobbyists who get seem to accidentally get productions or, heaven forbid, end up in an MFA program.

CLYDE
You do know that there are thirteen playwrights here tonight, right?

LORELEI
Really?  I thought this was a mixed group.  You're a playwright?

CLYDE
Yeah.

LORELEI
What have you written?

CLYDE
Well, a comedy called "Rats!!!!!!" Six exclamation points.  And I was the leader of a sketch comedy troupe -

LORELEI
Well but that's not really writing, is it? I mean, everyone goes through a phase where they write skits.

CLYDE
Sketch, actually -

LORELEI
And you either grow out of it or don't grow at all.

CLYDE
Hey, Brian!  I haven't said hi to you man! Excuse me, I haven't said hi to that guy.

BRIAN
What's up?

CLYDE
Hey look over here!  Are these plants real?

BRIAN
I don't think they are.

CLYDE
Let's go investigate.

CLYDE pulls BRIAN over to a far corner.  GREG goes and gets more to drink then joins JULIA and LAURA. LORELEI looks around for a new victim.  She sees JASON.
SADIE
I'm just so excited to be here!  I feel like, really really grateful to be around so many really really smart people.  People who are in the know.

ANNE
Yeah.

SADIE
And I really really want your thoughts about the play.  I'm really proud of where it's going and I think you'll like it too.

ANNE
Uh-huh.

SADIE
Anne.  Can I ask you a question?

ANNE
Sure, Sadie.  Go ahead.

SADIE
Do you think I deserve to be here?

ANNE
Yeah.  Totally.

SADIE
Really?  I just feel like I'm too old and I'm not as talented as anyone else here.

ANNE
No.  I do.  You really do belong here.  And you don't know about everyone.  I mean, you haven't even heard from that chick.

SADIE
Lorelei?  I can tell she's an amazing playwright.  I mean look at her.  It's like she is made of confidence.

ANNE
Maybe she's just a good bullshit artist.  I mean, if anyone doesn't belong here it's fucking AJ.

SADIE
But he is a part of the community, you know.  I mean, like, who am I?  Just some late forties hanger on.  Everyone here hates me.

ANNE
No.  Don't say that.  It's not true.

SADIE
Really?

ANNE
Really.  You are a talented writer.  You deserve to be here.

SADIE
Hooray!  You are so great Anne!  We're going to be BFF's forever!

ANNE
Oh...so awesome.

We don't hear the rest of this conversation.
LAURA
Hey Greg. 

GREG
Hey. 

JULIA
How are you doing?

GREG
Oh my god. So much drama. It was so weird, Brian was just telling me that Peter thinks I'm passive agressive.  And I don't care what Peter thinks, so I can only think Brian told me because he's upset at me for one reason or another.  Now that is passive agressive.

LAURA
Really?  He just walked up to you and said "Peter thinks you are passive agressive"?

JULIA
Who's Peter?

LAURA
I don't think he meant it that way.  I mean Brian doesn't have a malicious bone in his body.

GREG
No.  You're right.  I'm being silly.  Anyway, Julia, how are you?  I feel like we haven't talked in forever.

JULIA
I'm good.  This has been stressful, but now that we are here and we've gotten started I feel great.

GREG
Getting ready for this? You mean writing?

JULIA
No.  I mean everything today and setting everything up.

LAURA
Julia's been doing a lot of the behind the scenes stuff while I've been in rehearsal.  She even sent the emails right from my account.

GREG
I had no idea.  Wow.  Are you still working on that one play, what was it...the one about the color yellow?

JULIA
Odd Humors.  Yes.  I brought that to work on.

LAURA
Is that the one about the magicians falling in love?

JULIA
No.  That was a different project.

LAURA
Did that one happen already?

JULIA
No.  I'm not working on it anymore.

GREG
What happened?

JULIA
Nothing.  It wasn't really my project in the first place.  I was just helping.

LAURA
Alex was working on that, wasn't he?

GREG
Where is he, I thought he was coming?

LAURA
You know Alex, his watch is two days slow.

GREG
Oh, god, I know.  He never checks email and I don't think he uses text and he is never on time.  Alex and Julia would make a perfect couple.

LAURA and GREG laugh.  JULIA doesn't have the courage to extricate herself.  We don't hear the rest of this conversation.

MIKE
I just don't think musical theatre has anything left to give to the world.  I don't think it had anything to give in the first place.  It's whole purpose was to play to the lowest common denominator and make money.  I feel like at some point we should move beyond that.  Chekhov, Ibsen, Shaw...these are playwrights who never compromised their work.

AJ
How many musicals have you seen?

MIKE
Two or three.

AJ
And you are completely ready to write of the whole art form?

MIKE
If musicals are an art form then so are commercials, reality TV, stripping and half time shows at the super bowl. 

AJ
I would like to put you in a room with Stephen Sondheim and see how that works out.

FRANCIS enters the conversation.
FRANCIS
What about Sondheim?

AJ
Mike doesn't believe in musicals.

FRANCIS
It's ok.  They believe in you Mike.

We don't hear the rest of this conversation.
LORELEI
I love Chicago.  It's full of my kind of people you know? But I hate the cold and I hate when it's too hot.  So, that's out.  What can you do?  I think there are only two cities in the world I'm really made for and one of them is filled with all the assholes I went to school with and I need a work visa for the other.  What can you do, right?  Anyway, it's awesome that you were able to come out here.  Are you rich or something? Don't be offended.  I'm rich.  I have a love hate relationship with rich people.  I'm one of those trust fund kids everyone talks about, but I'm not damaged like the rest of them.  Money damages people.  I think the only way I was able to escape it was by going to a school where no one had money and then becoming a writer.

A long pause.

JASON
Oh. Sorry.  I didn't know you were done talking.

LORELEI
You are so funny.
We don't hear the rest of this conversation.
BRIAN
Should we save Jason?

CLYDE
This is a each man for himself situation.  If you fall behind, you get left behind.

BRIAN
I just feel so bad.

CLYDE
Look away, man.  Look away.

They look away, they see ANNE.

CLYDE
Oh fuck.

BRIAN
Anne looks like shit.

CLYDE
I think she's going to hurl.

BRAIN
She is talking to Sadie.

CLYDE
We should get her out of here.

BRIAN
Can this be an each man for himself situation?  I can't handle vomit.

We don't hear the rest of this conversation.


MIKE
Look, I wrote a musical.  It wasn't that hard.  And people went ape-shit for it.  Which only tells me that people are idiots and musicals aren't that big a deal.

AJ
You call that a musical?

MIKE
You saw it?

AJ
Don't you read my blog?

FRANCIS
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. This is the best moment of my life, I need to go get Greg.

FRANCIS turns to shout for GREG.


MIKE
Tell me what you thought.


AJ
I thought the music itself was fine.


FRANCIS
Greg! Come over here real quick.


ANNE suddenly jumps up.
SADIE
Is something wrong?

ANNE
I just need - 

ANNE moves forward, but has to stop and hold back the vomit. 


SADIE
What can I do?


CLYDE
I'm just going to check up on her.

GREG
Excuse me, Francis looks too excited to ignore.

LAURA
What's going on with Anne?

AJ
But there really wasn't much of a story.

MIKE
How can you say that?  The guy was struggling against forces he couldn't control and then he gave into them. It's the oldest story in the book.

ANNE shakes off SADIE and CLYDE and starts making her way to the bathroom. 

FRANCIS
It was my favorite review ever.  Greg, what was it AJ said about Mike's musical?

GREG
"It was like being vomited on."

AJ
My exact words where "I would rather have been vomited on." 

ANNE runs right over to AJ and throws up on him.  This is entirely unintentional. There is a brief pause.

AJ
What the fuck?!


SADIE
Holy shit!


MIKE
That was amazing.


ANNE
Oh my god, I'm so sorry.



SADIE
Anne, are you OK?


AJ

She did that on purpose!

LORLEI
What's going on over there?

JASON
I don't know.


GREG
I got some on me.

CLYDE
(To Anne.) Come on, I've got you.  It's OK. 

SADIE
I've got baby wipes in my bag.


ANNE
I'm so sorry.


AJ
You fucking bitch!

JASON stands up and makes his way to the crowd.

LORELEI
Isn't it early for drama?

MIKE
Hey!  

CLYDE
Back off man.  She had too much to drink.

SADIE
God, AJ, it was an accident.


AJ
Get her the fuck out of my face.


MIKE
For fuck's sake AJ.

SADIE
She's going, AJ.  Chill out!

LAURA
God damn it. AJ, calm down.

JULIA
I'll get some paper towels.

AJ
Don't tell me to calm the fuck down Laura!  Look at me!

JASON
Hey! Don't you don't talk to people like that!


LAURA
It's fine, Jason. 


MIKE
Will someone just take Anne out of here?


SADIE
I've got her Clyde.  


CLYDE
It's OK. I'll come too.

GREG
I think I'm going to be sick.

GREG leaves followed by FRANCIS.


FRANCIS
But you have to admit,  Anne has freakish good timing. 


GREG
Shut up Francis. 

ANNE
I'm so sorry.

CLYDE
I know.  Let's go.


SADIE
It was kind of funny. 



ANNE
I'm so sorry.

SADIE and CLYDE take ANNE and exit.
AJ
Jesus H. fucking Christ!

JASON
You need to talk a walk.

AJ
Who the fuck are you? I have every right to be fucking pissed off. I don't need a god damned walk! I need a fucking shower! 

LAURA
Come on, AJ.  I'll help you clean up.

AJ
I don't need your help.

JASON
She's just trying to make this better.

AJ
You know how you can make it better, Laura? First thing tomorrow morning I want her gone. 

LAURA
Lets calm down, we'll talk about this - 


AJ
I'm not going to fucking change my fucking mind.  You get that fucking cunt out of this house or take me the fuck home!

AJ exits. 
LAURA
What the hell?


JULIA
There weren't any paper towels, but there were a shit ton of take out napkins.  You think this will do it?

LAURA
It's fine.


JASON
Who does that guy think he is?

JULIA
What happened? 

LAURA
It doesn't matter. It's over. 


MIKE
He said "I would rather have been vomited on" and then Ann, right after he said it, just puked all over him.  It was a Christmas miracle!    

LAURA
Don't be an ass Mike.

JULIA
Why would he say that?

MIKE
He was talking about some review he wrote.


JASON
If he wants to go, you should just let him go.

MIKE
I say we keep them both around.  I've never felt so happy in all my life.

LAURA
I've got to go talk to him. Mike, if he wants to go you're going to have to drive him back tomorrow. 

MIKE
Let him call a cab then if he wants to go.  Fuck him.

MIKE goes to exit.


LAURA
Where are you going?


MIKE
I've had enough.  I think I'm going to go to bed.  

MIKE exits. 
JASON
Are you OK?


LAURA
I'm fine, Jason. Jesus.  You know I don't need you coming in like a fucking power ranger to save the day.  


JASON
He -


LAURA
I don't care.  I'm an adult and I can handle it, ok.  


JASON
I just wanted -


LAURA
I know.  Just.  Help Julia clean up, OK?


LAURA exits. 

JULIA
Could you check down stairs and see if there's a supply cabinet or something?

JASON
Sure.

JASON exits.

JULIA
Brian, are you OK?

BRIAN
I'm just not good with the sight of vomit.

JULIA
Do you need a glass of water or something?

BRIAN
I think...I think I'm going to go lay down.  

BRIAN exits. 

LORELEI
And then there were two.


JULIA
I had no idea it would get this crazy.


LORELEI
How much do you want to bet everyone is talking about this tomorrow morning?  It will be the Rashomon of vomit stories. 

JULIA
Totally. Do you think Brian will turn green every time?

LORELEI
Was he the twink that left just now?

JULIA
Don't talk like that. 

LORELEI
Why? He is.

JULIA
Brian's a great guy.

LORELEI
I didn't say he wasn't.  But you can't tell me he doesn't go as a fairy every fucking Halloween. He's totally cute.  You know who else is cute? That Jason guy.  Do you know anything about him?

JULIA
No.  Laura invited him. I didn't get to talk to him at all.


LORELEI
I think he's into me.  Maybe I'll sneak into his bed one of these nights to see what would happen. Who is he rooming with?


JULIA
Clyde and...Alex. 

LORELEI
Alex? Really?

JULIA
Yeah.  Alex.

LORELEI
You didn't tell me he was coming.


JULIA
I don't think he is.  It's almost 1am.  I thought he'd be here by now.


LORELEI
Drama. Drama. Drama.

JULIA
Don't say that.  Everything is going to be fine.

LORELEI
Sure.  And I'll be here when you find out he's fucking some other girl so I can tell you, again, you need to get over him.


JULIA
Can we just not talk about it?


LORELEI
Sure. I'm cool. You need help?


JULIA
No, thanks.  I think I'm done.


LORELEI
Great. I'm going to bed.  You and me are sharing a room, right?

JULIA
Yeah.  Sadie is in our room too.

LORELEI
Is she the one who threw up?

JULIA
No, she's the one who liked your name. 

LORELEI
Oh yeah, the old chick.  Anyway, I'm going to get up early and run, do you want me to wake you up too?

JULIA
Sure.

LORELEI
'K. I'm off to bed.  'Night.

JULIA
Good night. Lorelei?

LORELEI
Yeah?


JULIA
I'm glad you're here.


LORELEI
See you in the morning!  

LORELEI exits.  JASON enters.

JASON
Found some.

JULIA
Great.

JASON
I'm going to bed.

JULIA
Okay.  I'll see you in the morning.

JASON
Is this what it's going to be like the whole time?

JULIA
No.  I'm sure there will be less vomiting. 

JASON
You don't need any help, right? You've got this under control? 

JULIA
Yeah. Totally.

JASOn
Great. I'm beat. Good night.

JULIA
'Night! 
JULIA looks around her at the mess. Cups and bottles and plates and personal stuff everywhere.  She steals herself for the task and starts cleaning up.  ALEX enters.  He is too cool for school. A modern James Dean.  A bad boy.  He probably came on his motorcycle.  It is stupid how cliche he really is. He revels in it.  He watches JULIA for a moment and then knocks on the door and comes in. 

ALEX
Hey Julia. It's good to see you!

JULIA
Hey! It's good to see you too.
ALEX hugs JULIA with genuine affection.
JULIA
Quiet.  I think a bunch of them went to sleep already.

ALEX
I'm sorry I'm so late.  Rehearsal got out way later than I thought and then we all went drinking.

JULIA
Did you drive here drunk?

ALEX
Only a little buzzed. Did I miss anything?

JULIA
Anne threw up on AJ.

ALEX
What? Awesome!

JULIA
Everyone went off to bed.

ALEX
What are you doing up?

JULIA
Cleaning.

ALEX
By yourself?

JULIA
Well, I mean...who else is going to do it?

ALEX
Come on.  I'll help.

JULIA
No, you don't have to.

ALEX
Stop it.  I can roll my sleeves up with the best of them.

JULIA
Are you sure?

ALEX
Absolutely.  You wash, I'll dry.  So, is everyone here?

JULIA
Yup. The gang's all here.

ALEX
Let the games begin!


We don't hear the rest of this conversation.
End of scene.