Friday, October 14, 2011

Scenes From a Marriage: A Play in Three Acts

Act I

The stage is split to indicate two separate apartments.  In the apartment on the left, a woman is sitting on an overstuffed off-white sofa eating from a take-out container.  Two cats have settled into her lap and she holds the container above their heads as she eats.  It is awkward, but she doesn't want to disturb them.  The large console TV is on and her empty eyes focus on it.  There are books on the coffee table and baskets filled with yarn and abandoned projects overflowing onto the floor.  There are free weights under the table that serves as a bar, but they are covered with a thick layer of bohemian velvet.

In the apartment on the right, a man is sitting on a brown and tan sofa with simple lines.  He is eating a bowl of cereal.  His eyes are focused on a TV in an entertainment center that also houses an elaborate stereo system.  The decor is minimalist - the apartment is clean and tidy, with the exception of the dining room table.  The table itself - as well as every chair surrounding it - is piled high with papers, envelopes and magazines. A glimpse into the bedroom reveals a framed poster of a cut-away of the Starship Enterprise hung carefully over the bed.

This scene lasts several minutes - long enough to make the audience uncomfortable with the loneliness being represented.

He consults a piece of paper and sighs.  He shrugs and picks up the phone.  We hear it ring in her apartment.  She picks it up and smiles.

They move to the front of the stage and a curtain drops, obscuring the apartment scene.

Both still with the phone to their ear, we see other characters swoop in and out - men embracing her, women embracing him - they move on and off the stage quickly, as the couple step slowly towards each other.  Sometimes they are both being embraced by another - sometimes just one, while the other waits on the phone - their movement towards each other is slow, but it is steady and inevitable.  When they finally meet, center stage, they take each others hands.  The cats purr and rub up against their ankles.  They bring their heads together in a kiss.  They embrace with one arm each, while the other reaches out to grab the curtain and pull it around them, obscuring them from the audiences view.

Act II

As the curtain rises, the man and woman are sitting side by side on a plaid sofa which is located to the side of the stage.  The room is littered with toys.  A toddler is playing on the floor and an infant is sleeping in a wooden cradle next to the sofa. The woman puts her head on the man's shoulder and he embraces her.  The toddler abandons her toys and crawls up so that she is somehow occupying both parents' laps. The embrace that began between the parents happily opens up to accept the child.  The baby cries and the mother extricates herself from the group hug and leans over the crib to pick up the infant.  She paces the floor, patting the baby, while the father and the toddler look through the pages of a book  They catch each others eyes and smile.

The man takes the toddler by the hand and leads her offstage.  The mother, carrying the infant, follows them.

The man enters the stage again and sits on the sofa.  He picks up the remote and turns on the TV.  The woman enters the stage shortly thereafter. She picks up the toys on the floor and places them in a bright pink toy box.  When she is through, she sits next to him on the sofa.  They hold hands.

A preschooler enters the stage.  She is dressed as Princess Leia.  Her wig - made of yarn - is askew and she is struggling with a plastic light saber that is taller than she is.  She makes it to center stage and bows. At the sound of applause, she bows again, with more flourish.  She bows to the left.  She bows to the right.  She curtsies.  The parents rise from their spot on the sofa and gently coax her offstage.  She peeks around the curtain for one last bow.

A school aged child and a pre-schooler enter the stage.  The older child is wearing round eyeglasses and is carrying a book.  Her younger sister is dressed in a blue and white checkered pinafore over a white blouse.  Her socks are blue and her shoes are red and glittery.  She carries a basket with three stuffed dogs - one black, one brown and one gold.  She is walking quickly to keep up with her sister.  The older child crosses the stage and sits on the sofa.  She opens her book.  Her parents flank her and become engrossed in the pages with her.  The youngest puts her basket down on the stage and dances with her stuffed dogs, each one in turn.  As she twirls her way off stage, the oldest picks up her abandoned basket and follows her.  The parents close the gap on the sofa, meeting in a half embrace.

Two school aged children enter the stage.  They are wearing capes and battling each other with wands. The oldest grabs an upright bass from offstage.  She drops her cape and begins to play it with her wand.  The youngest pulls a second wand from a pocket inside of her cape and begins playing air drums wildly and dancing.  As she reaches her sister, she spins the bass, pulling both girls and the instrument off stage.  The mother rests her head on the father's shoulder.

Two pre-teens enter the stage.  They are both dressed in black.  One is wearing gothic makeup.  Both are wearing concert T-shirts.  They cross the stage as though each step they take is torture.  The parents shake their heads at each other and smile. They lean towards each other and kiss.  The curtain falls.


The curtain opens on the man and the woman at the dinner table.  The table is at the front and center of the stage.  It is set beautifully and they are sharing a bottle of wine.  He lifts his glass to her and she meets it with her own.  A teenaged girl with bright pink hair crosses the stage behind them quickly, takes a roll from the basket on the table and exits just as quickly.  Her phone never leaves her ear. She is talking animatedly and barely looks at her parents during the brief moment that she is onstage.  Another teenaged girl with long brown hair enters the stage from the other side.  She sits with her parents for just a moment before her phone buzzes.  She looks at it, smiles, and leaves the table - walking then running offstage.  She looks over her shoulder briefly just as she exits.  The man reaches across the table and takes the woman's hand.

Act III isn't finished yet.  But I bet it will be good.  Because that man and that woman?  They sure do like each other.

Happy Anniversary, Darlin'. Sixteen sweet years and counting.


bassislife said...

Beautiful, honey. Happy Anniversary.

Unknown said...

Awwwwwwwww.....Happy Anniversary!

Unknown said...

I know a lot of words, but none of them say as much as the tear that just welled up in my eye.

Happy anniversary to two of my favorite people, and the whole amazing family they have created.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Aww Tammy, that's awesome. Happy anniversary to you and your beloved. This is a wonderful story.... and they lived happily everafter.
xoxo jj