Summer events: from felines to Furies

From felines to Furies, from the flatlands of Berkeley to the heights of Mount Olympus and the Adirondacks,  I’ve got a lot going on this summer theatrically speaking.  It’s all fun and affordable, so come out and enjoy!  I’ll try to be brief.  Follow the links for more information.  Thanks!
  • What I’m writing now:  two short plays for the fourth annual San Francisco Olympians Festival, collectively titled “Who’s Your Daddy?” or “When Briseis Met Chryseis.”  Twenty-nine other Bay Area playwrights are also in the process of writing their plays for this year’s festival on the theme of the Trojan War, and we are in the midst of waging a fundraising campaign to pay the rent on the theatre and a modest (well, tiny) stipend to the 100+ artists involved.  It’s a really, really good cause and we have less than two weeks to meet our goal, so please contribute what you can: $1, $5, $50 … it all helps. Thank you! Donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/san-francisco-olympians-festival-iv-trojan-requiem [The festival itself will take place in San Francisco November 6-23.  Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.]
  • The cats are back!  If you missed Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies in April because EVERY SHOW WAS SOLD OUT, now is your (last) chance to enjoy this hilarious evening of monologues and solo performances on the theme of … yes, Cat Ladies. My contribution to the evening is a monologue called “The Metamorphosis” about a strange thing that happens to a teenage girl in the middle of her English class one Monday morning.  Two encore performances on June 10 & 11 in Central Berkeley.    Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/390190
  • I will be participating in a 36-Hour Play Festival at the Live Oak Theatre in North Berkeley on Monday, June 24 to raise money for a women’s Safe House in San Francisco.  I can’t tell you what I’ll be writing about because I don’t know yet.  Here’s how it works:  on Sunday morning, the playwrights, six of us, meet our actors and director and are assigned a topic; we have until Sunday at 9 pm to write a 10-minute play; the plays are rehearsed on Monday during the day, and then on Monday night, they are performed.  It’s kind of like reality TV–but better. Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/389206
  • My newest full-length play, Just Deserts, a comedy about getting what you deserve–or not, runs from July 11 to September 1 at Forever Wild Theatre in upstate New York.  Performances will take place Thursdays-Sundays at Lake George Battlefield Park in the Adirondack mountains. Information (and pretty pictures of the mountains) here: http://foreverwildtheatre.org/
To summarize:
 
NOW until June 7: You can do it from anywhere: Support the San Francisco Olympians Festival IV: Trojan Requiem indiegogo campaign:
June 10-11, Berkeley: Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies:

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/390190

June 24, Berkeley: UWAC’s “Empowering Women,” a 36-Hour Play Festival (benefit for San Francisco Safe House)
July 11-September 1, Lake George, New York, Just Deserts at Forever Wild Theatre Collective

 

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Something strange happens to Georgia in the middle of Monday morning: “The Metamorphosis,” a monologue

THE METAMORPHOSIS

a monologue

by Carol S. Lashof

(GEORGIA appears to be an ordinary fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl.  She is sitting on a chair, talking to someone standing in front of her.  She often looks away from her listener, down at her hands and her body. She is wearing jeans and a loose-fitting jacket with long sleeves that she pulls down over her hands.)

GEORGIA

            Hi, how are you?

Me?  I’m not sure.  I feel okay now—but something weird happened to me in school today. Like nothing that’s ever happened to me before …

I don’t know if you can help me.  Um.

(Pause. Fidgets. Then in a rush.)

But maybe I should explain first about the book we’ve been reading in English—it’s this weird story about a guy who turns into some kind of a gross bug thing.  Like a cockroach?  Or, or, a dung beetle.  Which is a bug that eats shi—I mean, crap. But you probably knew that already, huh?  I mean, even if you don’t learn about insects in vet school—or do you?

But, still, you’re probably, like, an expert on all kinds of animals, right?  Not only regular dogs and cats, but other weird creatures.

Oh.  Oh, no.  I’m not here about a pet tarantula or whatever.  And I know I didn’t have an appointment, and I haven’t seen you since last summer—when my cat got cancer and you had to put him to sleep.  And you were so nice.  And probably this is your lunch hour or something, so … what I mean is, thank you.  For making time for me.

Anyway.  I was saying.  We’ve been reading this story about this guy Gregor who turns into a bug.  And the bug he turns into is huge and ugly and definitely not something you’d want crawling around your bedroom.

Well, I wouldn’t, anyway.

Then.  This morning. The teacher pairs everybody up with a partner to make lists of questions to talk about in class discussion.  And I’m hella pumped because I’m paired with this guy Robert who I’ve liked forever.

Now, Robert is something you would want crawling around your bedroom.

Well, if you were a teenage girl, you would.

So I’m trying to sound smart to impress Robert but not like stuck up or anything?  You know what I mean?  And I say, “In the story, when Gregor’s father throws an apple at him—do you think it’s significant that it’s an apple?”  I’m thinking, you know, about the garden of Eden and everything.  And Robert, he for sure sees what I’m getting at because he says, “If you offered me an apple, I would totally bite it.”

And I’m thinking, yeah!  He likes me!  And I’m also thinking, I bet he thinks that’s a pretty smart question.  Because he’s a good student too, like me.  And then he says, “You know what I think?” And I say “What?”

And he says, “I think tight sweaters were invented for girls like you.”

(Pause.)

And that kinda stops my train of thought about the insect-guy right there.  Like, dead in its tracks.  I mean, I want to be thinking about good discussion questions—because that’s the kind of student I am. Usually. The kind teachers count on to do the work, even when everybody else is goofing off.  Do you know what I mean?

But what I’m actually thinking is about how good I look in that sweater, and how it’s soft like cats’ fur, so it kinda makes people wanna touch me when I’m wearing it—Hey, is it true that cats are so silky because they eat raw meat? I read that somewhere.

Really?  It is. That’s so gross.  I’m not sure I wanted to know that.

And I was totally not sure I wanted Robert to know I knew how hot I looked in the sweater I was wearing. And I definitely didn’t want him to think I was wearing it because of him, even though, yeah, I guess I was.

And so I’m chasing these thoughts around and around in my head like a cat chasing a mouse, and—

Meowwrr!

(GEORGIA covers her mouth.)

I’m sorry!

(GEORGIA’S voice is taking on a feline quality in spite of her efforts to speak like a person.)

Ummmm.  Errrr.  Anyhowwlll— Anyhow.  I’m trrrying to think of what’s the rrright thing to say to Rrrroberrt.  Robert.  When ssssuddenly he ssstarrrts sstaring at me really hard.  Sstrraight at the middle of my face.  I think CRAP!  I must have some humongous zit on my nose or something.  The way he’s looking at me.  Horrified.         Meowr!

(GEORGIA makes a terrific effort to control her voice.)

So I reach up automatically to cover my face, to hide what I think must be the grossest, ugliest, hugest zit ever, and I feel … whiskers.  Long stiff cat whiskers.  And I’m thinking—what if this isn’t going to stop with whiskers?  What if I’m turrrning into a for rrrreeall cat, with furrr and claws and a tail and everrrrrything, rright in the middle of the classrrrroom—meow—in the middle of Monday—meow—morning?

(Regaining control)

And I couldn’t stay in the classroom turning into a cat, could I? So I grabbed my jacket off the back of my chair and pulled it on and ran out of the room.

And then I stood in the hallway, just breathing for a minute, and pretty soon, I started to feel a little bit better, a little bit more like myself, you know?  But still pretty weird.  So I thought about going to see the school nurse, but I didn’t think she’d know how to deal, you know?  And then I thought of you.

So can you help me?

Help me … be me, I guess.

END OF MONOLOGUE

 

More FREE AUDITION MONOLOGUES from GAP …

… this time, for men.

ACTORS:  are you looking for original, unpublished monologues, something the casting director hasn’t heard a dozen, or a thousand, times before?  Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a variety of monologues on this site.  I began with three monologues for women (see previous posting) from the play Gap, set in the present at a large urban public high school.   I continue with two monologues for men from the same play.  All of the monologues in Gap are addressed directly to the audience.  They are a form of testimony—what the characters would say if they believed that someone were really listening.

You are free to use any of these monologues in the classroom or for auditions.

Public performances require my express authorization and may be subject to royalties. Contact me for rights or other information: clashof@gmail.com

 

THAT PARTICULAR BATTLE

(RUBEN is a respected and popular teacher of US History and Government at a large public high school.)

RUBEN

Sixth period I teach AP American Government.  And there’s this blond kid.  Daniel.    Always wears his soccer uniform to class.  Supposedly he doesn’t have time to change before practice, but you can tell he’s showing off, showing off that he’s on Varsity, showing off his knee brace, his physique.  We’ve all seen the type.  Always sits in the back of the room, whispering, laughing.  I figure he hates me, hates my class.  Probably telling jokes about me, when he’s not too busy sizing up the girls.

His interests definitely lie elsewhere than American Government, that’s for sure.

Monday at the end of class, I handed back a test on the Declaration of Independence.  There was an essay question, worth a lot of points, comparingJefferson’s draft with the final version.  Daniel’s essay—pure bull, not a clue.  Didn’t even know that the changes in the Declaration had anything to do with the issue of slavery.  So he got a “D.”  When I handed the exam back to him and he looked at the grade, he went rigid and silent, this kid who’s always joking, always moving.  He stalked out of the room, not making eye contact with anyone.

Then yesterday, he stays after class to talk to me.  I think, well, that’s something. He’s figured out he has to take my class seriously.  He’s actually risking being late for practice, risking the wrath of his coach to talk to me.  He was holding the test paper in his hand, and I could see that he’d crumpled it up and then tried to smooth it out, and he says, “Mr. Gutierrez …” and it sounds like he’s lisping the end of my name, you know, mocking … Suddenly my palms are sweating, my mouth is utterly dry, and I’m back in high school myself.  And it’s not Daniel towering over me, it’s a different tall blond kid, a different boy with muscles and a red face and a swagger … twelve, fourteen years ago.   But it feels like now.  Peter, his name was, the boy who used to call me faggot and beaner. And corner me behind the bleachers.  I have to slow my breathing very deliberately and remind myself that I’m the teacher now, Daniel is my student, and he is not going to beat me to a pulp.

I hope.

I force myself to say—and I think I said it pretty calmly, “Yes, Daniel.  How can I help you?”  And I look at him.  And what I see in his face is not anger, not hatred, it’s fear.  And the odd slur in his speech?  It’s not mockery.  He’s trying to hold back the tears, swallow them down before they well up in his eyes.

As it happens, I’m rather familiar with that particular battle.

I want to pat him on the back and say, “There, there, it’s all right.”  But I just wait for him to speak.  He wasn’t in class when we discussed The Declaration.  He was in the hospital, having knee surgery.  His second surgery.  He says, I gave you the note from the doctor, and it’s true, he did.  But I’d forgotten.  I mean, I deal with 148 students every day.  I ask Daniel why he stays on the soccer team.  Two knee surgeries and he’s only seventeen years old.  He looks at me like I’m crazy to be asking.  It’s his team.  He’s a soccer player.  What else is there to say about it?

So we make a deal.  He can re-take the test.  But he has to sit in the front of the classroom for the rest of the semester and pay attention.  And when he has to leave school early for away games, he’ll email me, and I’ll fill him in on what he’s missed.  I might manage to teach him something about American Government.  We’ll see.

————————————————————————————————

ABOVE AVERAGE

(VICTOR is the father of Will, a fifteen-year-old high school student.)

VICTOR

Victor.  My name is Victor.  And I always used to feel like the name fit me.  Like I was a “Victor.”  Successful career.  Mainstay of my community.  All of that. And then Will started high school.  Last year, his freshman year, he started bringing home B’s and C’s.  He was always a straight-A student, he took geometry in eighth grade—that’s a tenth grade course—so why all of a sudden was he getting a C in math?   And do you know what he said when I asked him about it?  He said, “What’s the big deal?  I’m doing above average for a Black boy.”

It was all I could do—I mean that—all I could do not to throttle him.

I am not by nature an angry person.  I know about anger.  The vets I work with, my clients, they’re all of them angry.  So, yeah, I know about anger.  But I did not know I had it in me to feel so enraged.

He’s failing half his courses.  Will is.  My son.  Failing.  Because he doesn’t go to class.  Apparently.  Where does he go?  He leaves the house on time every morning.  We thought he was going to school.  Until today.  Until his mid-term report card came.  If I find out he’s into drugs …

If he gets himself arrested …

When I look at him, I still see the happy-go-lucky kid who hated to miss a day of school … He’ll be sixteen in May, and then …?

I say my prayers every night.

—————————————————————————

Public performances require my express authorization and may be subject to royalties. Contact me for rights or other information: clashof@gmail.com

 

 GAP is a full-length play designed to be performed by a diverse cast of 5 (3w, 2m) playing a dozen roles in all.  I have also written a one-act play, CLAY, for four teen actors (2f, 2m), drawing on the same material.  CLAY is published by YouthPLAYS.   

Info at http://youthplays.com/plays/view/154/Clay

Free Audition Monologues for Women

ACTORS:  are you looking for original, unpublished monologues, something the casting director hasn’t heard a dozen, or a thousand, times before?  Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a variety of monologues on this site.  I will begin with three monologues for women (17-55) from the play Gap, set in the present at a large urban public high school.  All of the monologues in the play are addressed directly to the audience.  They are a form of testimony—what the characters would say if they believed that someone were really listening.

You are free to use any of these monologues in the classroom or for auditions.

Public performances require my express authorization and may be subject to royalties.  Contact me for rights or other information: <clashof@gmail.com>

RUCK, MAUL

                                                    (LILY is a high school senior.  She is wearing a rugby jersey.)

LILY

                                                      (Slow and clear.)

“Ruck, maul.  Ruck, maul.  A woman’s work is never done.”  Great bumper sticker, huh?  I put it on my dad’s car.  He tore it off.  Scrubbed it clean.

A ruck:  that’s like a scrum, but smaller, more impromptu.  I mean, the ball is on the ground.  No one has control.  If you’re in the ruck, then you’re trying to push the players from the other team out of the way, so your team can get the ball.  It’s such a rush.  I mean, it is a total blast.

Well, maybe you have to be there.

And a maul?  That might not be quite what you think it is.  At least, no one’s actually supposed to end up mauled.  But, hey, what’s a little subcutaneous bleeding between friends?

I used to play soccer.  But rugby is more fun.  It’s not so much that I’m into extraneous violence, but it turns out I’m actually pretty good at tackling 300 pound girls.  And the

girls who play rugby are different too.  Different from the soccer girls.  Once before a game, our captain brought us a humungous bag of bagels and kept telling us to eat, eat, eat, eat!  She said we were all too skinny.  I can’t see that happening in soccer, can you?

My folks made me quit the team.    I shouldn’t have been surprised.  What can you expect from people who name their daughter “Lily”—and they always thought the name fit me.   Until I started playing rugby.  My dad said, why do you want to roll around in the mud with a bunch of fat, ugly lesbians?  It’s true we got muddy. Hellaciously, beautifully muddy.  But fat and ugly?  No way.  As for lesbians?  To the best of my knowledge, there were only two on the team:  Jennie and me.

After my parents kicked me out of the house this fall, Jennie’s mom, Marjorie, invited me to move in with them.  Jennie was already away at college.  Anyway, we broke up over the summer.  She said I was too conflicted.

Well, duh.

So here I am, living at my ex-girlfriend’s house with her mom and two little brothers.  I’m not sure why Marjorie is willing to put up with me.  The house is kind of small, pretty cramped actually, and I don’t think I’m so easy to live with—I get into these moods sometimes—and Marjorie’s husband died of cancer last year, so she already had

plenty of crap to deal with.  Why would she want to add my problems to the mix?  Pretty crazy if you ask me.  But she’s really, really kind to me.  Do you know what that’s like?  To have someone be so kind to you?  For no reason?  Just because?

The only bad thing about not living at home is I hardly get to see my sister Sophie.  She’s a pretty cool kid, in spite of being my little sister and all that.

I miss her.

I rejoined the team.  They were glad to get me back.  My nickname is Lily “internal bleeding” Mendelssohn.

Wanna ruck?

————————————————————————————————————-

TIME MANAGEMENT

                                                   (FRAN is a high school English teacher in her first year of teaching.  At the beginning of the day she looked crisp and in control.  But it is not the beginning of the day.)

FRAN

Don’t talk to me about time management.  The next person who talks to me about time management, I’m going to kill them.  I mean, him.  Or her.  A pronoun must agree with its antecedent.

How many times have I written that already, and I’ve only been a full-time teacher for three months?  And it’s a complete waste of time.  They, my students, most of them don’t know what a pronoun is.  They definitely do not know what an antecedent is.  How am I supposed to explain it all in the margins of their papers?  And I’m not supposed to take class time to explain that sort of thing—pronoun reference is part of the state standards for elementary school, for crying out loud, not high school.

I forgot about the Humanities meeting.  I was counting on those two hours.   To shop.  To call my mother.  I’m out of milk.  Almost out of toilet paper.    I didn’t take a shower this morning because I was doing last-minute prep for first period and lost track of time.   I haven’t called my mother in a week. I forget about the time difference between here andIllinois, and then it’s too late to call.

Illinois. Sullivan,Illinois. Home of the only stop light inMoultrieCounty.   My colleagues, they all remember I’m from the Midwest, a farm girl, so they thinkIowa, maybeKansas. Nobody remembersIllinois.  It might as well beIllyria.

And what should I do in Illyria?
My brother he is in Elysium.

Twelfth Night.  Act One, scene two.  I saw my first Shakespeare play in college, at theUniversityofIllinois.  The Tempest.  Before that, I was pre-med.

Did I really believe that teaching high school English would be all about opening young minds to the joys of Shakespeare?

Sometimes I try to imagine what Shakespeare characters my students might be if they were Shakespeare characters.  Will.  He would be Ariel.  The magical spirit from The Tempest.  He never stops moving.  But J?  No Shakespeare character has as little energy and passion as that girl does.  She’s always there, but she just sits like a lump, passive.  Until the bell rings.  Then she’s up and running.  Will, on the other hand, he’s almost never in class, and when he is, well, his mind appears to be somewhere else, but at least you get the feeling that wherever his mind is wandering, it’s somewhere really interesting.

I wonder where his daydreams take him.  To Illyria?  Or Elysium?  Or just anywhere else but school?

————————————————————————————-

CIRCUMSTANCE

                                                     (“Pomp and Circumstance” plays in the background.  As the music fades out, SHERYL, a middle-aged woman, nicely dressed, begins speaking to the audience.)

SHERYL

Of course I was proud.  Any mother would be proud.  There she was—my daughter, my Maggie, addressing an audience of hundreds, no, thousands of people.  Seven hundred and twenty students in the graduating class, plus parents, and grandparents, and teachers, and siblings.  So maybe . . . three thousand people, give or take.  So much to be proud of.  She won a scholarship from the local TV station, “The Phoenix Scholarship,” for students who overcome difficult backgrounds in order to excel in school.

She didn’t learn how to read at the first grade level until she was nine or ten, even though we always had lots of books in the house when she was little, and I read to her every night and took her to the library for story time on Saturdays. For a couple of years, they had her tracked in Special Ed.  Then, finally, one of Maggie’s teachers in seventh grade realized she was really very smart and had her tested for dyslexia.  That changed everything.  So I am grateful to that teacher.

But.

When Maggie won the scholarship, the TV station interviewed her in front of the high school building and one of her friends was standing next to her.  She was jumping up and down and clapping, and she said, “Oh, Maggie, you’re so perfect for the ‘Phoenix’ thing.”  It was very sweet.  Even the weatherman said so after the camera cut back to the studio and before he gave his forecast:  “Morning fog.  Clearing in the afternoon.”

So I deserve to be proud, don’t I?  In the fall, she’s going toBrownUniversityon a full ride scholarship.

In her speech, Maggie said that her life changed in middle school.

(Pause.  Gathers her courage.)

Her life changed when Child Protective Services took her away from me and made her a ward of the state.  That’s what she said to all those thousands of people.  All her amazing success, she said, she owed it to her foster parents and to her teachers and her friends.

In seventh grade, she told her teacher that when she came home from school in the afternoons, there wasn’t anyone to help her with homework, except prostitutes and drug dealers.  If she remembers it that way, I can’t necessarily argue.  When you’re schizophrenic, you lose chunks of your life.  So I don’t know.

But what I remember was a house full of musicians and artists.  And yes, there were parties.  And yes, there were drugs.  But where is it written that a drug dealer can’t help you with your Algebra homework?  Or that a prostitute knows nothing about Catcher in the Rye?

 I can tell you this much:  no one in that house was ever anything but kind to her.  And I never did anything but love her, or ever wanted anything except what was best for her.

I had to leave the graduation after Maggie’s speech.  What with all those thousands of people sitting there in the sun despising me.  So I didn’t get to see her receive her diploma.  I wish I had been able to stay for that. I wish . . .

Well, there’s a whole lot of things I wish.  A lot of stuff I wish were different.

(Pause.  Change of tone.)

But mostly I just wish for her to be happy.  I wish for her to get everything she wants, every good thing in the world . . . She deserves it all.