Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Remember Tuesday Excerpts? Well Here's A New One!

This week's selection comes from my advanced playwriting class. The name of the exercise was "Never Metaphor I Didn't Like." Isn't it just dripping with cleverness? Here goes:


When It Rains...

September 2007

A covered bus stop with a bench in the morning. There is a trash can nearby. It is raining lightly, and continues to rain harder throughout. YOUNG WOMAN is sitting on the bench. Enter Francis, umbrella over his head. He sits at the bench and opens his briefcase, removing the latest Bob Woodward book, which he reads for a few moments until Reginald arrives, no rain coat, holding his newspaper above his head to ward off the rain. He ducks under the cover and stands to the side of Francis.

What a day, huh?

(looking up)
Yeah, yeah, what a day. Looks like it’s just going to rain harder, too.

Nasty weather.

(indicating his own umbrella)
You should have brought an umbrella, Reggie.

(shaking the water off his newspaper)
The paper didn’t say anything about rain today, though!

(shrugs, goes back to reading his book)
It was kind of sprinkling when I was getting ready to leave my building, so I went back up and grabbed my umbrella and rain coat. Good thing too.

Yeah, but this will pass. Probably clear up by lunch time!

Fade out, noise of bus, fade back in to stage, Reginald and Francis gone, Young Woman still seated. It is raining harder. Enter Reginald, this time with rain coat and umbrella.

(looking into the distance, calling)
Francis! Good morning!

(off stage)
Good morning!
(enters, both get under the cover)
Can you believe it rained all weekend? Totally ruined my plans, I had to run on a treadmill!

I know! I had to go to dinner with my mistress in my sedan! Imagine! And I had promised her a ride in my roadster! And then the art fair she wanted to take me to got rained out, so I had to spend Saturday night with my wife...
But what are you going to do?
(unfolds the paper he pulls out from inside his coat)

(sits, takes out his book)
Not much you can do but wait for the rain to end, I suppose.

(reading the paper)
Ah! Should be gone by Wednesday. Look, it says so right here.

Sounds of bus, fade again. Lights up on stage, young woman still in her position. It is raining harder now and thundering, too. The sound of wind. Enter Francis, and Reginald, braced against the torrent; Francis’ umbrella is torn apart by the wind, so they huddle together under Reginald’s until they reach the safety of the stop.

Well, good thing we ran into each other, otherwise I would’ve been soaked to the bone!
(tries to repair his umbrella, but it’s hopeless)
Well, I guess I should just get a new one.
(places it in the trash can)

(he has already started reading his paper)
Ah! No need! Listen to this:
(reading aloud)
“Rains continue into the afternoon, finally moving eastward around two. Clearing skies and high in the mid 70’s.” Oh, it gets better! “Tomorrow, sunny and bright with a high of 77.” At last, an end to the rain, am I right, Francis?

(looking at the rain as a bolt of lightning rips through the sky, the very earth shaking at the thunder)
I’ll celebrate as soon as it’s over, Reginald.

Well then, I think the moment the rain stops at two this afternoon, we should have ourselves an Office Happy Hour! I’ll send a memo out as soon as we arrive!

Bus, fade out. Fade in. The rain is truly coming down like it has never come down before; we’re talking about ten minutes until Noah drifts by with his floating zoo. The Young Woman’s rain coat is drenched despite the presence of her umbrella. Reginald stands outside the bus stop, wearing his suit, a leather coat, expensive sunglasses, and reading his rapidly deteriorating newspaper. Enter Francis with a new umbrella.

(yelling above the sound of rain, thunder, wind)
Reg! Reg!
(no response)
(Reginald looks over)
What are you doing?

(shouting as well)
Francis, why on Earth are you still dressed in that slicker? Aren’t you simply baking in that? And why the umbrella?
(looks up, shielding his eyes)
Though I suppose it does keep out the sun.

Reginald, get under the cover, man! You’re going to get sick!
(gets under the cover himself)

Nonsense! Do you like the new coat? My children’s nanny says I look very young and virile in it! It’s genuine Italian leather!
(reads paper)
Oh, look! Record highs in Albany last weekend. Huh!

Bus, fade out. Fade in. It is drizzling, slowing up. The sun begins to shine through the drops of rain. The Young Woman is not at the bus stop. Francis approaches, carrying his umbrella above his head but holding his rain coat in his arm. As he approaches the bus stop, the rain stops altogether. He holds out his hand, sighs, and closes his umbrella, collapsing it and putting it in the bundle of his coat. Young Woman arrives, folding her umbrella, and stands beside Francis in front of the covered stop. They each slide a pair of sunglasses down from atop their heads.

(looking around)
Where’s your friend?

Excuse me?
(he takes his sunglasses off to look at her)

(she takes hers off to look at him)
Your friend, the one who was always reading the paper?

(smiles, laughs)
Him? He wasn’t my friend, just one of the big wigs at my brokerage firm.
(puts his sunglasses back on, faces audience)
He got pneumonia and died.

(puts her sunglasses back on, faces audience)
(she reaches into her purse and pulls out a paper)
Look, it’s supposed to storm all morning.
(she pauses, folds up the paper and tosses it into the trash can)

Sound of bus, fade to black.


It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. -Robert Benchley

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