Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Let Dogs Lie (Play) - Part I

Podcast.

LET DOGS LIE - Part I
A play in one act

by Susan Smith Nash

copyright 1996 by Susan Smith Nash, all rights reserved

Please register all performances in advance by contacting Susan Smith Nash at susan@beyondutopia.com Also, please inquire about scholarships, grants, and prizes available for those who perform this play and provide information about the performance (reviews, photographs, copy of the program, etc.) Special incentives / prizes available to repertory groups using high school and undergraduate students. Please note that this play and others are collected in catfishes & jackals, published by potes & poets press, and available through Small Press Distribution. http://www.spdbooks.org

Performance history: This play was first performed in February 1997 at St. Gregory's College in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The play was directed by Dr. Susan Procter. Many thanks and fond memories to everyone at St. Gregory's College, and to Father Lawrence, Father Victor, Sister Veronica. The wonderful people of St. Gregory's blessed my life in many ways -- ways I'm still discovering. The play was also performed at DC Art Center in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC, in April 1997.

The Characters:

RENSSELAER: a woman in her late thirties

Joli: a man in his early twenties

Vandergraft: a woman in her late fifties

Grizz: a man in his early thirties

Mouchie: a pink dog of indeterminate gender

Machiavelli: a reddish dog

Montaigne: a blue dog

Mallarme: a brown dog

****************

A bare room. Gray, interior light. RENSSELAER is at a table. Four unmatched chairs at the table. There is nothing on the table but a large, gift-wrapped box. The dogs are lying to the side of the stage on a blanket. The background, a floor lamp and a side table with an large, empty vase, is dim. A refrigerator stands to the side. A large window is on the side, with movable curtains.

RENSSELAER

(In a monotone, without energy.) Money. Control. Complications. I never asked for any of it. I'm sick of being misunderstood.

(Pause.)

Someone said "get a dog!" So I bought someone else's soul and called it a pet. Now it's time. It's time.

(Pause. In a duller voice.)

I said "It's time."

(Pause.)

No one ever gets it.

(Pause.)

They will, though. They will.



(Grizz walks in through the door. He doesn't notice the dogs. They notice him, and turn and look at him. He is wearing a faded t-shirt, torn and paint-splattered sweatpants, and ragged basketball shoes.)

GRIZZ

(Speaks in a loud voice.)

Hey!

(Pause.)

Hey!

(Pause.)

Aren't you going to answer?

RENSSELAER

Overpopulation. Sacrificing one species so the rest can survive.

GRIZZ

You're still mad at me for taking the towels at the Motel Six.

(Pause.)

I don't know why you're mad. They expect it. They charge too much and when that happens, I'm taking something.

RENSSELAER

Self-righteous is not a word. Self applies to a moment in time that can be identified by the perceivable bag of skin and bone that's stuck up in your face -- in the mirror or in your bed.

(Pause.)

Righteous, as opposed to "left-eous" is even more meaningless.

(Pauses, acknowledges Grizz for the first time.)

Are you still working at the dog lab?

GRIZZ

I never did work at the lab. You know that.

(Sits at table.)

Joli still works there, in case you're wondering.

RENSSELAER

And you're taking something.

GRIZZ

Well, I don't see any towels, so I don't see how I can take anything here. But they way you're not communicating with me is making me feel pretty ripped off.

(Pauses. Pulls chair up close to table.)

RENSSELAER

You mean "entitled" to something?

GRIZZ

Motel Six hand-towels make great kitchen towels, especially when I'm barbecuing.

RENSSELAER

Things to ruin then throw away.

(Pause.)

Stain, stain, stain. Sin and barbecue sauce.

GRIZZ

I'm hungry. I thought you said you were cooking dinner tonight.

RENSSELAER

I had a dream last night. I was shovelling in a room. A big room. Mounds of stuff I was shovelling.

You know what I was shovelling?

I was shovelling dead mice -- mainly hairless babies -- as if they were snow or piles of coal. No more squeaking. Nothing.

There's a tape of me playing the piano. With squeaking. Lots of squeaking. I listened to it and wondered what the squeaking was. A mouse dying in a glue trap under the piano.

Squeaking is a kind of music. Right?

Death is another kind of music entirely.

GRIZZ

Youth culture, huh.

RENSSELAER

I hate it that you know me so well.

(Pause. Looks at box on table.)

Youth culture. Yeah right. Youth is preyed upon and projected upon. It has no power, no rights.

I wonder if the box will start squeaking. Mounds and mounds of pink flesh and brown fur.

GRIZZ

Music.

RENSSELAER

Squeaking.

GRIZZ

Scored for The Man Without Qualities.

RENSSELAER

A little nachtmusik. A little nichtmusik. Death, right?

GRIZZ

Nope. You're wrong.

(Pause.)

Again.

(Stands.)

And denial makes me want to get another tattoo.

RENSSELAER

Death. (Doesn't acknowledge Grizz.) Death.

(In a far-off voice, with far-off expression.)

Death-music.

(More matter-of-factly.)

This kind of indiscriminate mating makes me realize we only pretend to care about the youth. What we want is to exterminate anything that can breed. That's part of survival. Kill off the breeders so there's more left for the already-bred.

GRIZZ

Oh. Not again. You said all that when you were yapping about PACs and big business buying big government.

RENSSELAER

I hate it that I'm still in love with you.

GRIZZ

You think you hate it!

RENSSELAER

What's this present for anyway?

GRIZZ

I thought you brought it.

RENSSELAER

Just what we need. A Pandora's Box motif.

(Pause.)

Death is not eroticism, no matter what anyone might say. I see a package here that is obviously a metonymic equivalent to "The Womb" or "The Random" -- I mean if it goes off -- does a Unabomber routine.

(Pause.)

Money. Control. Complications. I never asked for any of it.

GRIZZ

(Rummaging around in refrigerator.)

Hey, you got any beer in here?

**************************
end of part 1

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