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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A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG CAREERIST

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with questions of work/life balance and particularly with the shape of women’s careers. For serious reflections on this topic, see my previous post: https://carolslashof.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/confessions-of-an-intermittently-emerging-playwright/
For a comic treatment of the challenges facing an emerging artist, read the ten-minute play posted below. GAIL & PETER puts a contemporary, gender-bending spin on the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion who falls in love with his statue, Galatea. (This myth was the inspiration for Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which, in turn, was the source of My Fair Lady.)
GAIL & PETER premiered at TAPAS 2012 at Pegasus Theater in Rio Nido, California.

GAIL & PETER

GAIL’s studio. A winter afternoon. Grey light. GAIL is putting the finishing touches on her sculpture of a handsome tennis player. He stands on a pedestal in the middle of a drop cloth, positioned as if to make a serve. Next to the sculpture is a stepladder. GAIL kneels at the statue’s feet, gently sanding his ankles and legs while talking on a cell phone. Gradually, she works her way up his body, polishing, gently brushing away stone dust, climbing up on the step ladder when it becomes necessary. She is wearing an artist’s smock over sweater and jeans.

GAIL

Ohmygawd, he’s so beautiful. And he’s mine! Okay, not mine exactly. Strictly speaking, he belongs to the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club. … Yeah, today—the movers are coming at four. … Do you know how many months I’ve been living on ramen, trying to finish this commission on time? And I haven’t even been on a date in—I don’t know—so long I can’t remember how long… But it’s all gonna be worth it—the offers are gonna start rolling in now, as soon as they see this guy… Hey, whaddaya think I should call him? …

(Sarcastic)

Yeah, right, Rumpelstiltskin is sooo romantic. … No, nix on Pinocchio too. I’m serious. He needs a name, a for real name. Something befitting his incomparable beauty and all the fame and glory he is going to bring me.

(By now, GAIL is standing on the step ladder, working on the statue’s left shoulder and arm.)

How about Peter? What do you think of “Peter”? You know, like Pierre, stone. … Well, to me it’s beautiful. Stone is beautiful. Especially when I’m carving it.

(She gazes at him lovingly.)

Hey, Peter. I love you, Peter.

(GAIL touches the fingers of PETER’s left hand very gently with the fingers of her right. The gesture suggests God touching the hand of Adam. PETER shudders; GAIL draws back, nearly falling off the ladder.)

Uh. I’ll call you back.

(GAIL steps down from the ladder. PETER steps down from the pedestal. Tentatively, GAIL reaches out to take PETER’s hands. He grasps her hands firmly in his and pulls her to him. He kisses her hard and long. After an extended embrace, they separate. GAIL takes a couple of steps backwards.)

GAIL (CONT’D)

Uh. Wow.

PETER

(More a statement of self-realization than an introduction.)

I’m Peter.

GAIL

Yes. Um. Hello. I’m Gail.

PETER

Hello.

GAIL

How… ?

PETER

You said my name. Peter. You touched me.

GAIL

Yeah, but…?

PETER

Before that, there was nothing. Only darkness and silence.

GAIL

And I… I brought you out of the darkness?

PETER

Yes.

GAIL

Wow.

Pause. They look at each other. He kisses her again.

GAIL (CONT’D)

No one has ever kissed me like that before—like I was the only thing in the world that mattered to them. Do you know what I mean?

(PETER shakes his head.)

With every other guy I’ve been with, it was like he had something else on his mind. Not me. Sex with me, maybe. But not simply me.

(Pause. Hastily.)

Not that I’ve been with so many guys—it’s not like I’m, well, you know… No, you don’t know, do you? You didn’t exist up until now.

PETER

Up until now, there was nothing. And then…

GAIL

And then…?

PETER

And then there was now. There was you.

(Pause.)

There is you.

GAIL

Never in the world has there ever been anyone like you, Peter.

PETER

I like it when you say my name.

GAIL

Peter. Peter. Peter.

They stand still, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. A sudden wind blows open the door of the studio, startling them; they separate. PETER shivers and rubs his bare arms. GAIL hastens to the door and looks out. Seeing nothing, she closes it and returns to PETER.

GAIL

Oh, dear. You must be freezing.

(GAIL feels the thin material of Peter’s t-shirt and shorts.)

GAIL (CONT’D)

You need something warmer. I didn’t think to… Well, of course, I didn’t know that you… I mean, it’s always warm at the Pool and Tennis Club…

(GAIL wraps her arms around PETER, trying to warm him up. They huddle together, briefly, then suddenly, struck by a realization, she pulls away.)

Oh, dear, the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club… What the hell are we going to do?

Pause. GAIL looks at PETER. He shrugs.

PETER

We could kiss some more?

GAIL

No, I mean… I mean, yes we could do that, kiss, that would be nice, but I meant, about the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club? What am I going to do?

(PETER looks at GAIL without comprehension. He shrugs, moves to kiss her. She pulls back.)

Oh, you don’t understand, do you? How could you? Um, see… How can I explain this? You don’t belong to me… I wish you belonged to me.

PETER

I belong to me? To Peter?

GAIL

No. You belong to the Pool and Tennis Club. They commissioned you. Uh, I signed a contract. I made a commitment, a promise… The art movers are coming this afternoon. Soon. To pick you up.

PETER

And you?

GAIL

No. Not me. Only you.

PETER

I don’t want to go anywhere without you.

GAIL

Oh, Peter… I don’t want you to go anywhere either. But what can I do? They paid a fee, an advance… It’s a legal contract. I have to deliver a statue to the Pool and Tennis Club. And if I don’t deliver a statue, then I don’t get paid, and if I don’t get paid, then I can’t pay my rent, my horribly, horribly overdue rent, and I can’t buy

GAIL (CONT’D)

groceries, and… oh, I’d have to pay back the advance too… I’d be worse than broke, Peter. I’d be out on the street.

(PETER stares at GAIL with utter incomprehension. She points out the window.)

Out there. In the cold.

He walks to the window and looks out. She joins him.

PETER

What’s out there?

GAIL

The city. Buildings. Streets, cars, people.

PETER

I could go out there.

GAIL

You don’t want to go out there.

PETER

It looks noisy out there. And bright.

GAIL

You like noise?

PETER

And light. Yes.

GAIL

It will be dark soon. The temperature is supposed to drop below zero tonight.

(Pause. PETER looks at GAIL.)

Fahrenheit.

(Pause. PETER continues to look at GAIL.)

That means it will be cold. Very cold.

PETER

Cold is not good.

GAIL

No. Cold is not good. Warm is good. A warm place to live, and to work. Those are good.

PETER

The Pool and Tennis Club is warm. You said.

GAIL

Absolutely! You would be nice and warm and cozy there.

PETER

You too? You could be nice and warm there too. And cozy!

GAIL

Well. No. I couldn’t. Actually. Because I don’t belong to the Pool and Tennis Club. I could visit you, I guess, but I couldn’t stay there with you.

PETER

Will you be cold?

GAIL

Not if I pay my rent and the heating bill. And if you go to the Pool and Tennis Club, like you’re supposed to, then I’ll be able to pay my rent. And the utilities.

Pause. PETER considers.

PETER

Okay.

PETER sits down cross-legged on the floor. He looks comfortable and content, prepared to wait for the movers to arrive.

GAIL

You’ll go with the movers when they come?

PETER

Sure.

(Pause.)

Can we kiss?

GAIL

Now?

PETER

(Nodding yes.)

And later? When you visit me.

GAIL

Later, um… later, I don’t know. See, the Pool and Tennis Club didn’t commission a person to come and stand in their atrium. They commissioned a statue. That’s what they’re expecting. It’s what they bought.

PETER

But I’m not a statue. Not any more.

GAIL

Yeah, and that’s a problem. A way huge problem.

PETER

Why?

GAIL

Because, if I don’t deliver on this commission, I am totally screwed.

(Pause. Pleading.)

There must be some way to undo—whatever I did. Some way to turn you back into a statue again.

PETER

I don’t want to be a statue again. I like being Peter.

GAIL

I like you being Peter too, but…You wouldn’t really know the difference, would you?

PETER

I don’t like it. The darkness. The silence. No kisses.

GAIL

Oh, Peter. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. But I don’t know what else to do. It’s not just the money. I mean, I’d probably figure something out… I could move in with friends, I guess, or… my parents, if worse came to worst. But I’d be finished as an artist.

(She is silent for a moment as she contemplates the truth of this statement.)

No one would ever give me another commission. No one would ever take me seriously as an artist again. Do you know how much I’ve sacrificed to get this far?

PETER

I won’t go back!

GAIL

But, Peter… Listen… I owe a statue to the Pool and Tennis Club.

PETER

Give them another statue. Not me.

GAIL

I don’t have another statue to give them.

PETER

I’m Peter. I belong to Peter.

GAIL

And you think that’s enough? You think you can live by simply being Peter?

(Pause. PETER shrugs.)

You don’t have a social security card or a green card or an address or a phone. Or a government-issued photo id, for chrissake. You don’t have a bank account, an ATM card, a credit card … I know these things don’t mean anything to you right now, but believe me, you can’t live without them. Not here. You don’t even have a last name!

PETER

I’ll figure something out.

GAIL approaches PETER coaxingly, holding her hand out. For every step she takes towards him, he takes two steps back.

GAIL

Like what? You don’t have parents to move back in with, or friends.

(Pause.)

Only me.

(Pause.)

Peter. Listen to me, you’ve got to try to be a statue again.

(Pause. By now, PETER has backed himself up to the door. He stands leaning against it.)

Maybe if you step back up on the pedestal and think quiet thoughts, maybe that would work. We could try it… Please…

(GAIL takes PETER by the hand to lead him back to the pedestal. He pulls away from her and runs out the door, slamming it behind him.)

Peter!

(Pause.)

Hell.

(GAIL stands in the middle of the room, looking around her, at a loss. After a few desperate moments, she sees the door open again. PETER enters. He is wet and cold.)

GAIL (CONT’D)

Oh, Peter, you poor thing!

(GAIL takes off her smock as she tentatively approaches PETER. She rubs him dry with her smock, cooing over him. He is shivering too hard to speak.)

You poor dear, it’s sleeting out there. It’s the worst weather ever invented. Half-rain. Half-snow. Come on, I’ll warm you up.

(GAIL takes off her sweater—she is wearing only an undershirt or camisole underneath and shivers a little herself. She does her inadequate best to wrap the sweater around PETER. Then, with an arm around his waist, she leads him back to the pedestal.)

In the atrium of the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club, it’s always warm.

PETER

No sleeting?

GAIL

No sleeting. No wind blowing, no rain, no hail, no snow. I promise. And it’s bright, and noisy. Lots of people coming and going all day long. And they will all stop to admire you.

(PETER allows GAIL to guide him back up onto the pedestal. She climbs up on the step ladder in order to position him as he was at the opening of the play. Her sweater falls off his shoulders. She leans down to give him a brief kiss.)

Goodbye, Peter.

PETER freezes into position as a statue just as the doorbell rings. Presumably, it is the movers. GAIL glances at her watch, climbs down from the ladder, and walks to the door.

END OF PLAY

I Survived the 24-Hour Play Fest!

I want a t-shirt that says, “I survived the 24-Hour Play Fest”!

On Saturday, September 15, the Playwrights Center of San Francisco presented its second (but my first) 24-Hour Play Fest.  The experience was far more exhilarating and artistically satisfying than I could have imagined—and every bit as exhausting as I expected it to be.

For the playwrights, the adventure began on Friday evening about 6 pm at Theatre 250 on Mission Street when we (Vonn Scott Bair, Rachel Bublitz, Gaetana Caldwell-Smith, Modecai Cohen Ettinger, Jerome Joseph Gentes, Laylah Muran, and I) gathered to draw little slips of paper out of a hat.  By virtue of this wonderfully random process, we were each assigned actors and a director, and were collectively assigned a theme: “That’s Not True!”  We met briefly with our ensembles.  Then we went home to write a play for them.

7:45 pm on Friday: Since the sorting hat has assigned me a cast of four—three women and one man—my fancies turn to Macbeth and the witches … Scratch that, witches are overdone.  How about the witches’ “familiars”—the spirits who attend upon them, or perhaps, actually govern their actions?  Two familiars are named in the text of the Scottish play: Graymalkin and Paddock, a cat and a toad.  Google around to find a third appropriate name:  “Pyewacket.”  For variety, let’s call her a dog.  Set the scene: between life and death.  The time: the day after tomorrow.  Start writing dialogue.  “Pyewacket” rhymes with “thwack it” … If Macbeth had thwacked less and thought more, he might have lived to see tomorrow … Oh, this is fun … Write more silly lines …

And then discover, around about midnight, that my characters have no reason for being.  Why are they here?  What do they want from each other?  Why on earth did I volunteer to write a ten-minute script overnight when I am by nature a slow, deliberative, and matutinal writer?  In other circumstances, I would give the premise up as a bad idea.  But there is a 7 am deadline looming.  It’s way too late and I’m way too wired to come up with a new concept.  So I allow my characters to interrogate each other:  “What do you want from us?” they ask. And lo and behold, they answer.  The Familiars:  We want recognition.  The witches always get all the credit.  Macbeth: I want a chance for a do-over, not to make the same mistakes again.

A little before 4 am, I checked my formatting and e-mailed “The Day After Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow …” to festival producer Jennifer Roberts.  Twice.  Just to be safe.  Then I went to bed and failed to sleep.

Rehearsals were well under way when I walked in the front door of Say Media on 3rd and Townsend shortly after noon on Saturday.  (Thank you, Say Media, for loaning PCSF this fantastic rehearsal space.)  Rising from the stairwell came the clamor of seven casts rehearsing seven new plays.  I found my stalwart ensemble and settled in to watch. Their turn now to work.  My turn for the pleasure of seeing my characters come beautifully to life.

7:45 pm on Saturday:  Back at Theatre 250.  A sold-out show.  In spite of a non-functioning dimmer board, the house lights go down, the stage lights come up.  Paddock croaks.  The audience laughs.

Thanks. And thanks and ever thanks to director Amy Crumpacker and actors Riley Krull, Sarah Nowicke, Shaun Plander, and Ashley Sullivan:  you were brilliant, bold, and resolute!  And off book too.

THE DOGGY IN THE ROOM, a ten-minute play

 When Angela decides to give a dog to her mother as a holiday gift, sibling rivalry threatens to morph into canine homicide … Read THE DOGGY IN THE ROOM, a ten-minute play for two female actors.

 Like all scripts and monologues shared on this site, THE DOGGY IN THE ROOM may be used without charge in classrooms and for auditions.  Any other use requires the author’s permission and may be subject to royalty/licensing fees.

THE DOGGY IN THE ROOM

a ten-minute stage play

by Carol S. Lashof

TIME: The present

PLACE:  The living room of Angie’s apartment in San Francisco

CHARACTERS:

SYDNEY (SYD): A middle-aged woman.

ANGELA (ANGIE):  Also a middle-aged woman, SYD’s younger sister.

THE DOGGY IN THE ROOM

(ANGIE and SYD are sitting at the kitchen table of ANGIE’S  apartment in San Francisco.  They’re wrapping gifts. ANGIE wraps carefully, slowly, meticulously, with sharply creased edges and using lots of curling ribbon.  SYD moves through her stack of presents much more quickly with less attention to detail.  ANGIE hums off key as she wraps.  SYD tolerates the humming as long as she can.  Which isn’t long.  She glares at ANGIE.  ANGIE continues to hum, oblivious.)

SYD

(Sharply)

Maybe you want to put on a CD or something?

ANGIE

My CD player is broken.

SYD

Oh.

(SYD grits her teeth and keeps wrapping.  ANGIE keeps humming.)

Why don’t you let Mom buy you a new one?  You know how she likes to spoil you.

ANGIE

It’s okay.  I’ll get this one fixed.

(A dog barks offstage.)

SYD

What’s that?

ANGIE

What’s what?

SYD

The barking.  It sounds like there’s a dog in your bedroom.

(Pause.  More barking.  ANGIE hums louder, trying to cover the sound of the barking.  The dog’s barking will continue intermittently, but never very loudly or insistently, throughout the scene.)

That has to be a dog.

ANGIE

It doesn’t have to be a dog.  It could be a recording of a dog.  Or a person imitating a dog.

SYD

But it is a dog, isn’t it? In your bedroom?

ANGIE

Well.  Yes.

SYD

You have a dog?  In this apartment.  I didn’t know you were even allowed to have dogs in this building.

ANGIE

She’s a small dog.

SYD

Still.

ANGIE

Her name is Frederica.  She’s an English cocker spaniel.

SYD

(Not a question)

It’s not really a good idea, is it, to have dogs in the city.

ANGIE

I wasn’t planning to keep her in the city.

SYD

You’re moving?

ANGIE

I mean, she’s not really mine.  She’s a gift.

SYD

For who?

(Pause.)

ANGIE

For Mom.

SYD

What?

ANGIE

I got her all her shots and everything.  She’s housebroken.  And I got the special crate you need to take her on the plane, and I made the reservations for her.  I was surprised actually.  It wasn’t that expensive, even with the transfer in Chicago—

SYD

Wait a minute.  This dog is going back to Wisconsin with me?

ANGIE

No.  With Mom.  She’s going with Mom.

SYD

But that means with me.

ANGIE

Mom is Frederica’s owner.  Her guardian, I mean.

SYD

I am already the owner of two cats.  And one of them needs daily insulin shots.  Twice daily.  I can’t deal with a dog.

ANGIE

It’s Mom who will be dealing with her, not you.

SYD

But Mom lives with me.

ANGIE

Don’t worry.  They’ll take good care of each other.  Frederica will be a great source of comfort to Mom.

SYD

Mom is doing just fine.  Without a dog.  She doesn’t need “comfort.”

(Pause.)

And why does a small dog need such a long name?  Four syllables!

ANGIE

She’s named after the opera singer.  But you can call her Freddie.  Or Fred even.

SYD

Frederica!  Freddie!  Fred!  She’s going to be a pain in the ass.

ANGIE

Do you know that dog owners over 65 make 30% fewer doctor’s visits than non-dog owners over 65?  That’s from the Harvard Health newsletter.

SYD

Do you know that dog owners over 65 make thousands of emergency room visits every year due to injuries caused by tripping over their dogs?

ANGIE

Where’d you get that from?

SYD

I don’t remember, but it’s true.  Ask Siri.

(SYD gets out her smart phone and offers it to ANGIE, who waves it away.)

ANGIE

Mom’s smart enough to watch where she’s going.  And Freddie is smart enough to get out of the way.

SYD

Mom does not need a dog.  She’s got me.  And Joel.

ANGIE

But you’re at work all day.  And Joel is leaving for college in September.

SYD

She has friends. Lots of friends.  They go to movies, concerts, lunch, bird watching!  She plays mahjongg! You should see her calendar.  She goes out more than I do.  Way more.

ANGIE

You should go out more often.  It would be good for you.

SYD

We’re taking an early flight home on Saturday morning because Mom has a ticket for a cello concert on Saturday night.  Some classical luminary.

ANGIE

Aren’t you going?

SYD

I can’t.  I have a grant proposal due on Monday.  It was hard enough to take the time off to be here this week, what with helping Joel finish his college applications …

ANGIE

See.  That’s my point.  You have your own life.

SYD

Of course I do.  So do you.  And yours happens to be as far away from Mom as you could get without leaving the country.  Well, the lower 48.

ANGIE

My daughter is living in Hawaii.  I’m splitting the difference.

SYD

And I’m in Madison and Mom’s in Madison and this yappy dog is going to be in Madison.  With me.  In my house.

ANGIE

(Talking over SYD)

Which Mom helped you buy.  And which is, I might add, a very big house.

SYD

(Talking over ANGIE)

Peeing on my rugs.  And scratching my furniture.

ANGIE

And Frederica doesn’t yap.  She barks sometimes, in a friendly sort of way.  Come and meet her.  You’ll love her.  I promise. She’s totally adorable.

(ANGIE stands up and starts to walk towards the bedroom.  SYD remains sitting.)

Or you can wait until tomorrow.  If you want.  At the party.  When I give her to Mom. She’ll be so pretty, curled up under the tree with a big pink satin bow around her collar.  And a cute little tag that says “For Mom.  Love, Angie.” Or maybe I’ll let her jump out of a box, and we can all yell “Surprise”!

SYD

A big pink satin bow? Where did you get that idea?  From a Hallmark commercial?

ANGIE

It doesn’t have to be pink.  Or satin.

(ANGIE shuffles through a pile of ribbons and decorations, holding up one and then another for SYD’s approval.)

How about this one?

(ANGIE wraps one particularly large and gaudy ribbon around her own neck.)

What do you think?

SYD

I think I’m going to strangle you with that goddamned ribbon.  And then I’m going to strangle the goddamned dog.

(SYD reaches for the ribbon.  ANGIE laughs—but nervously—and dodges away from her sister, leaving the ribbon in SYD’s hands.)

ANGIE

You wouldn’t, would you?  You wouldn’t hurt Freddie!

SYD

If you force me to take that canine diva home with me—I can’t promise what I’ll do.

ANGIE

I’m not forcing you to do anything.  I thought you’d be pleased.  Haven’t you always wanted a dog?  I thought you always wanted a dog.

SYD

Me?  No.  It was you.  Every Christmas.  And Hanukkah.  And Kwanzaa.  Every birthday.  Every day in between.  You whined and you begged.  And Mom said no.  Because she knew that she would end up being the one who walked it three times a day and scooped its poop and took it to the vet.  And now you’re trying to get revenge on her by giving her a dog, which she isn’t even going to want.

ANGIE

Her.  She’s a her.  And Mom will walk her and brush her and love her and … and they’ll make each other happy.  Don’t you want Mom to be happy?

SYD

Of course I do, but—but Mom doesn’t even like dogs.

ANGIE

Well, maybe not dogs in general—

SYD

Any creature not capable of intelligent conversation—Mom is not interested.  Simply not interested.  Bored.  By dumb animals.  And babies.

ANGIE

But Frederica.  She will love Frederica.

SYD

You don’t know that.

ANGIE

Yes, I do.  She adores Frederica.

(Long pause.)

SYD

What are you saying?

ANGIE

Mom loves Frederica.

SYD

Are you saying that Mom already knows you’re giving her this dog, that she’s already met the dog?  Because you said it was going to be a surprise at the party tomorrow, so I thought—

ANGIE

I said we would all shout “Surprise!”  I didn’t say Mom would actually be surprised.  She promised to pretend to be surprised.  But of course she already knows.  How could I give her a dog without knowing whether they would like each other?  Besides, she had to sign the adoption papers, didn’t she?  We went to the breeder together, and she picked Frederica out right away.  It was love at first sight.  You should have seen them … well, you will see tomorrow … Freddie crawled into Mom’s lap and nuzzled her cheek.  It was the sweetest thing.

SYD

And what did Mom do?

ANGIE

She cooed.

SYD

She what?

ANGIE

Cooed.  She cooed.  She was in raptures.  She beamed.  She petted her and rubbed her tummy and cooed to her in baby talk.

SYD

You’re talking about our mom?  Our mom “cooed”?  Over a dog?  She talked to it—her—in baby talk?  She beamed!?

(ANGIE imitates their mother fussing over the dog.  She talks in a high, sweet voice.  SYDNEY watches in astonishment.)

ANGIE

Oh, you sweet wittle thing … Aren’t you adorable?  Oh, you are just the cutest wittle doggy in the whole wide world … that’s a good baby … oh, good girl, good girl … who’s my wittle sweetie-poo …

(ANGIE continues to coo and babble, using nonsense words and blowing kisses.  SYD twists and yanks the ribbon in her hands.)

SYD

I don’t believe it.

ANGIE

You will.  When you meet Frederica.  When you see the way Mom babies her.  And the way Frederica curls up in her lap.  And purrs.

SYD

Dogs don’t purr.

ANGIE

This one does.

SYD

And Mom doesn’t fuss. She doesn’t coo.  It’s just not who she is.

(ANGIE shrugs, giving SYD a “wait and see” look.)

Mom never fussed and cooed over us when we were babies.

ANGIE

How would you know?  You couldn’t possibly remember.

SYD

I don’t remember her ever fussing and cooing over her grandchildren.  Do you?

(Pause.  ANGIE thinks about it.)

I would remember if she cooed over Joel.  Did she coo over Amber?

(Longer pause.  The answer is clearly “no.”)

When you and Paul and Amber were living in Chicago, and Mom came to visit for the weekend, did she babysit so you and Paul could have a date night?  Or was she too busy going to the Art Institute and the Symphony?  How many diapers did she change?

ANGIE

You can’t blame her for not liking to change diapers.  Nobody likes to change diapers.

SYD

Did she coo?  Did she beam?  Did she babble away in baby talk?

ANGIE

She took Amber to the ballet.  You remember how much Amber used to love ballet … And she took her to the planetarium as soon as she was old enough.

SYD

Exactly.  Once her grandchildren were old enough to be interested in ballet or art museums or the solar system, once they were old enough to talk and read and get good grades, then she was interested in them.  But not before.  Not when they were babies. Not when they were little helpless bundles of neediness. Our mother is not interested in dumb little creatures who only need to be loved.

(Pause.)

ANGIE

Except Frederica.

SYD

(Ominously)

Except Frederica.

(SYD tugs on both ends of the ribbon in her hands, testing its strength. She walks quickly towards the bedroom door.  ANGIE grabs hold of SYD’s arm, trying to stop her, but SYD breaks free.  She runs into the bedroom and slams and locks the door behind her.  A furious barking erupts. ANGIE pounds on the door, shouting to be heard above the noise of the dog.)

ANGIE

No, Syd!  No!  Don’t!  Please, don’t!  I’ll bring her back to the breeder.  Or I’ll adopt her myself.  I’ll move to a place where I can keep a dog. I promise.  Don’t hurt her.  Please.

(Suddenly the barking stops.  There is a long silence. ANGIE presses her ear to the bedroom door.)

Sydney?  … Frederica? …

(From the other side of the door comes a small, happy “yip,” then the rhythmic thump of a wagging tail hitting a hard wood floor and the coo of an enraptured dog lover.)

SYD

(Off)

Ohhh, aren’t you the sweetest little thing?   Oh, you cutie-pie!  Who’s Mommy’s favorite little baby?  Come here, Freddie.  Give Mommy a kiss …

(And now the dog is purring.  The purring and cooing continue until the lights fade out.)

END OF PLAY