I’ve Written a Mediocre Script

Hello all. It’s been a while. A couple things have happened since my last post. The Tempest was cancelled (I think I’m finally done crying about that) and I’m now home for the rest of the semester, as classes have moved online. You all know why.

Since these developments, I found the Quarantine Playwriting Bakeoff. It is exactly what it sounds like. A group of displaced Theatre Majors created the community, because all we creative types are bored and sad as all of our arts are being cancelled. On Monday, they emailed out 5 “ingredients.” By Tuesday at 6:00 pm CST (fifteen minutes ago when I’m drafting this), a script of 15 pages max., incorporating all 5 “ingredients,” was due to their website. On March 22nd (hopefully), they’ll conduct dramatic readings of 10-20 of these scripts on YouTube Live. (Check out their Facebook for more info and updates.)

It’s all just for funsies, and I kind of needed something fun to do. And I like scripts. So I wrote something.

The five ingredients:

  1. An empty store/stadium/theatre.
  2. A bottle of hand sanitizer.
  3. A virtual dance or duet.
  4. A moment of mass panic.
  5. A light in the dark.

+ Bonus: a flower or flour.

 

So I now give to you my personal result from that list – a script I wrote with far too little care – All That And More:

CHARACTERS

LARA BOHATER – a seventeen-year-old grocery store clerk. The Chosen One.

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON – (written as a woman, but gender irrelevant). Informs Lara of her status as the Chosen One. Mysterious and oddly knowledgeable about the apocalypse.

ERIC CHARMING – the picture of charm, cheekbones that could cut steel, and everyone’s ideal boyfriend. A tad too concerned that he is not the Chosen One, however.

MARTYNA – the obligatory spunky, slightly off-the-wall character that shows up in a blaze of glory to help our hero. She will be sure to tell you that it’s Martina, but with a “y.”

TIME

The modern day. But if you want to tweak details, any time when grocery stores exist. Set it in the Old West in the town store, if you like. Go wild.

PLACE

All That And More, your favorite, local, 24-hour stop-and-shop.

NOTES

Lara’s last name is pronounced “Bow-hadder.”

“Administering the plague is assault.” – Joseph Selle, September 2018. On the topic of sneezing. A particularly prophetic (and, currently, highly relevant) thing to say.

Lights up on LARA, alone at her check stand. Tinny Top-40s music plays through the store. She is the only person working. SHE is bored out of her skull. SHE taps a bag of flour somebody left behind with her at checkout.

LARA

I should probably put you away, huh? (SHE continues tapping the flour.) Then again. It’s not like either of us is in a hurry. It’s two a.m., and I’ve still got six hours to go. Who’ll keep me company if I re-shelve you? (SHE whispers conspiratorially to the bag of flour.) Don’t tell him I said this, but the bottle of hand sanitizer isn’t great company since I got that papercut from the receipt printer. And the register doesn’t count as company, it’s basically part of the counter.

Beat. SHE comes to herself a little.

Jesus. I’m talking to a bag of flour. This is why I specifically asked not to work graveyards. (SHE takes the flour offstage to re-shelve it. When SHE returns to her check stand, SHE absentmindedly squirts two pumps of hand sanitizer into her hands. As SHE rubs it in, SHE hisses as it hits the aforementioned papercut.) Ah, shit.

Door-bells jingle as someone enters the store. LARA jumps to attention.

Welcome to All That And More, your favorite, local, 24-hour stop-and-shop. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

The stage remains empty except for LARA. SHE clears her throat. The stage still remains empty. LARA keeps her eyes trained on the “door,” waiting.

Ma’am? Are you alright?

Very slowly, MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON shuffles onstage, a large hooded cloak concealing their face.

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

Lara.

LARA

(Glances at her nametag.) Silly to ask how you knew that, I guess. Yeah, I’m Lara. What can I help you with, ma’am?

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

It is not what you can do for me that brings me here, Lara, but what you can do for us all.

LARA

(Turning on the old customer-service smile.) I’m not sure I understand what you mean, ma’am, but if you need help finding some groceries, I’m –

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

It’s coming, Lara. The end is coming. And you’re our only hope of stopping it.

LARA

Ma’am, I don’t know what you’re talking about. If you aren’t going to buy anything, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

I’ll leave, Lara. But it’s important you know your destiny.

LARA

Ma’am, at the moment, the only destiny I have is to finish this graveyard shift and go home. You’re kind of making me question whether I’ll even successfully fulfill that destiny. Please leave the store, or I’m going to have to call the police.

The lights flicker and change into many colors, and MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON straightens, throwing back their hood. When they speak, MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON’s voice echoes around.

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

Lara Bohater, you are the Chosen One. The world faces an untimely end at the hands of the Focaree people, a race that has been watching the planet earth for millennia. They have observed the human race and have declared that your people has declined to a point past saving. At dawn they begin preparations to destroy the planet. Only you have the ability to stop them – only you can save the earth and its inhabitants.

LARA

(Looking at the strange lights and hearing the modified voice.) Ma’am, you really can’t do this in here …

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

You have been watched since your birth – the result of an unlikely union between a Focaree and a human. It is your status –

LARA

Wait. No, I live with my parents and they’re both –

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

(The lights go back to normal and M.O.P. speaks normally.) You’re adopted. (The lights change and the voice is modified again.) It is your status as a mix between Focaree and human –

LARA

I’m adopted? When were they planning to tell me?

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

– that affords you the unique position to save the race of your homeland. This is –

LARA

Also, I’ve been watched since my birth? By who? You? Are there others?

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

– a singular honor, though one we wish you did not have to be burdened with. We wish –

LARA

And wait! Are both of my parents adopted parents? Or is one of them my biological parent? And which one of my parents wasn’t human?

MYSTERIOUS OLD PERSON

– you good fortune and a clear head as you move forward these next hours. We know you will succeed, Lara Bohater. Good luck – and we will be watching.

The lights return to normal, M.O.P. puts up their hood and shuffles back out of the store. The door-bells jingle. As M.O.P. leaves, LARA shouts:

LARA

Wait! Come back! You’ve kind of left me with a lot to unpack here. What am I supposed to do? How are these Focaree gonna … and she’s gone.

Beat.

I’m adopted? Jesus Christ. (SHE leans against her check stand.)

The door-bells jingle. LARA apprehensively looks offstage at the door.

LARA

Oh, good, I thought – never mind. Welcome to All That And More, your favorite, local –

ERIC CHARMING

Hello! Lara, right? I was told I’d find Lara working here.

LARA

I’m starting to think people aren’t just cluing into my name tag. Yeah, sure, I’m Lara. You want to strike up some rave lighting and fill me in on my destiny?

ERIC CHARMING

What?

LARA

Nevermind. Long shift. How can I help you?

ERIC CHARMING

Well, my name is Eric. Eric Charming. (HE smiles. Charmingly.) While I’m not quite sure what you meant about the rave lighting, I was hoping to talk to you about your destiny.

LARA

Of course you were. Look, Eric – it was Eric, right? Okay, good – I’m all about finding yourself and destiny, but it’s almost 3 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and I’d really just like to point you in the direction of the breakfast cereals or something. So if you aren’t going to buy something, then I’m going to have to ask you –

ERIC CHARMING

I understand it’s a lot to handle, Lara, being the Chosen One, but please, hear me out! That’s why I’ve come. I want to help! I was raised by a human and Focaree – I’m adopted –

LARA

Well, aren’t we all. Apparently.

ERIC CHARMING

– so I have a unique perspective that no other human has. I can help! I know how the Focaree think, how they work. Let me help you! We have about three and half hours until sunrise. That’s when they’ll start. That should be just enough time for me to fill you in on what you need to know.

LARA

Listen. Eric. I’m working an 8-hour graveyard shift at a 24-hour grocery store for minimum wage. 20 minutes ago, some old lady told me I was the Chosen One and now you, a strange man I don’t know, is offering to help me stop the end of the world. This is above my pay grade. And forgive me if I find it a little far-fetched. Why don’t you go home, go to bed. If you wake up tomorrow morning, either you and that old lady were lunatics or you’re right and I saved the world. If you don’t wake up, you’re right and I failed. Either way, you get a full night’s sleep, and I get to go back to hanging out with bad music and a bag of flour. It’s a win-win.

Before ERIC can respond, the door-bells jingle. In dashes Martyna.

LARA

What now? Do you want to reveal something else about me or the apocalypse, or just offer to help?

MARTYNA

I was actually just hoping to pick up some eggs …

LARA

Really? Oh, perfect! They’re all the way to the left, in the refrigerated –

MARTYNA

But whatever you’re talking about sounds a lot more interesting. Hi! I’m Martyna. With a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i.’ And you’re … (SHE squints to read the nametag.) Lara! Nice to meet you. (SHE turns to ERIC.) And you are?

ERIC CHARMING

Eric. Eric Charming. Nice to meet you.

THEY shake hands.

MARTYNA

Charmed, I’m sure. (SHE turns back to LARA.) So, what’s this about an apocalypse?

LARA

You know, I’d really like to show you to those eggs –

ERIC CHARMING

She’s the Chosen One. Tomorrow at dawn an alien race is going to destroy the planet, and –

LARA

You know what? I can go get you those eggs! (SHE starts to leave.)

MARTYNA

No, let me guess! She’s the only one who can stop them?

ERIC CHARMING

Exactly!

MARTYNA catches LARA’s arm, stopping her.

MARTYNA

It’s okay, I wouldn’t dream of asking the Chosen One to get my eggs. (SHE turns back to ERIC.) Where do you fit into all of this, then, Mr. Charming?

ERIC CHARMING

Oh. Well. I’m just offering my services to Lara. I was raised by a Focaree and a human, so I have a lot of valuable information for Lara.

MARTYNA

Well, what are the chances? That’s lucky for you, huh, Lara?

LARA

Mhm. I’m drowning in luck.

MARTYNA

Well, this is more than I bargained for when I came in here! Then again, a lot of stuff is more than a bargain for a dozen eggs. (SHE hops up and sits on the still conveyor belt of LARA’s check stand.) Well, get to it, you two! Have your little “saving the world” information session. I’ll be here if you need me. (HER phone rings. It’s a video call. SHE picks it up.) Gracie! Hi! (SHE does a little dance to the phone – think a friend handshake, but on a larger scale. SHE does it all while still sitting on the conveyor belt.) It is so great of you to check in, but I’m a little busy right now. Call back at, like, six? Should be all sorted by then. Love you, bye! (SHE hangs up. ERIC CHARMING and LARA stare.) What’s your problem? Don’t you have planning to do? Get a move on!

ERIC CHARMING

(Regaining HIS cool with a signature CHARMING smile.) Alright. Well, Lara –

LARA

I don’t know what you think you can tell me that will help. I don’t even know if I believe what’s happening. I’m kind of thinking maybe I passed out at my register and this is all a sanitizer-fumes induced dream. Regardless, if this is real, then I’m the Chosen One, not you, Charming. I’m pretty sure that means I’m the one that has to sort all of this out. So thanks for the sentiment, but I don’t see how you’re going to help – and I’m not in the habit of taking unsolicited advice from men who come running into my store in the middle of the night.

ERIC CHARMING, indignant, starts to say something. Before HE can, though, RED LIGHT streams in from the direction of the GROCERY STORE DOOR. SCREAMS are heard, first just a few, then a cacophony.

LARA

What’s going on?

MARTYNA

Haven’t you been paying attention? The end of the world, silly.

LARA

Well, yes, I know that, but I thought we had until sunrise. It’s not even five yet! We should have at least another hour!

ERIC CHARMING

(A little pouty.) Well, if you’d have let me, I would have told you. It takes a lot of power to boot up a planet-destroyer. They have to start early. And if it’s ready sooner than dawn – well, the Focaree aren’t so attached to a schedule for their Armageddon.

LARA

I can’t focus with all this screaming. Why can’t everybody just be quiet?

MARTYNA

Well, Lara, darling, they just woke up to a red sky and the end of the world. Cut them a little slack.

LARA

All they have to do is accept death! I’m the one with the stressful job here, and you don’t see me panicking!

ERIC CHARMING

(Still a little pouty.) Well, I mean, you are a retail worker. You deal with apocalyptic situations every day.

A beat. LARA has a realization.

LARA

Oh my God, Eric! Eric Charming, you’re a genius! (SHE grabs HIS face and presses a quick kiss to HIS cheek.) I’m a retail worker! (SHE snatches a megaphone from behind the check stand and dashes out of the store. The door bells jingle.)

ERIC holds a hand to where SHE kissed HIM, a dazed little smile on HIS face. HE suddenly comes to.

ERIC CHARMING

Wait, Lara! I’m glad I helped but … what are you doing? (HE also runs out. The door bells jingle.)

MARTYNA

(SHE looks up, having been on HER phone.) Oh! Looks like the party’s moved outside. (SHE also follows outside, at a leisurely pace. The door bells jingle.)

The store sits empty. All the following is heard from OFFSTAGE.

LARA

(Through MEGAPHONE.) Everybody, please remain calm! We are doing all we can to resolve your concerns! Please return to your homes in an orderly fashion! Complaint forms are available online if you would like to fill them out!

Beat.

No, Karen, there is not a manager you can speak to at the moment. But I’ll be happy to give you his number and you can call during regular nine-to-five business hours.

Beat. When LARA’s voice is back, it’s a little quieter, as though no longer through a megaphone.

Yeah, it’s 555-985-0268. No, that’s 0268. Yes, looks perfect. Have a great rest of your morning, ma’am. Yep, you too.

LARA’s voice is once more through a MEGAPHONE.

Please return to your houses! Thank you for your cooperation during this issue, we will do our utmost to resolve your concerns! Thank you!

The SCREAMS slowly dwindle away. LARA comes back into the store, with the door bell jingle. ERIC CHARMING and MARTYNA follow, respectively CONFUSED and AMUSED.

ERIC CHARMING

I can’t believe that worked.

MARTYNA

You’ve never worked customer service, have you?

ERIC CHARMING

No.

MARTYNA

Ah. It shows. Well, our Lara here has one heck of a customer-service demeanor.

LARA is pacing, thinking.

MARTYNA

How you doing, champ?

LARA

I’m just trying to think. At least one grumpy customer per day threatens to destroy me and the store. This is just that, but … well, you know, on a slightly larger scale. I’m trying to think what I usually say to that grumpy customer. And how it applies to an enraged alien species.

ERIC CHARMING

Well, they aren’t enraged, per se. Just disappointed.

LARA

(Straightens and stills, another realization.) Disappointed in their shopping experience, you might say?

ERIC CHARMING

(Catching on, slowly smiling HIS CHARMING smile.) I suppose you could say that, yes.

LARA grabs HER megaphone again, standing confident and tall.

LARA

I’ll be right back. I was born for this. (To MARTYNA.) Watch my register? (SHE walks out calmly. The door bells jingle.)

MARTYNA and ERIC CHARMING exchange a look. MARTYNA it totally CALM, ERIC a little NERVOUS. MARTYNA pats HIS shoulder.

MARTYNA

It’ll be okay, my lovely-cheekboned fellow. Trust me, Lara’s delivered this speech dozens of times.

ERIC CHARMING

And it works every time?

MARTYNA

(With a slight pause.) Sure. It will this time, anyway, that’s what matters.

We hear LARA’s voice from OFFSTAGE, through the megaphone.

LARA

Hello, Focaree people! My name is Lara Bohater. I’m an employee here, and I understand you’re unhappy with your experience of Earth.

The LIGHTS FLICKER.

On behalf of management, I’d like to extend our sincere apologies for your unsatisfactory experience. May I offer you a complaint form?

There is a loud SHRIEKING – the language of the Focaree – and the lights go out. MARTYNA’s flashlight on HER phone turns on, the only light in the darkness.

ERIC CHARMING

I don’t think it’s working.

MARTYNA

Shh. Just give it a minute.

LARA, cont’d.

Thank you for your feedback – I will inform management of it as soon as possible. Though we are sorry for your poor experience, may I recommend your patronage of several planets just down the way? I’m sure you will have a much better experience with any of them, and, in the meantime, we will use your feedback to better Earth.

A loud SHRIEKING again, and the RED LIGHTS return.

Thank you, again, for your patronage. We wish you the best of luck as you take your loyalty elsewhere. Have a wonderful day!

The SHRIEKING and RED LIGHTS fade. Slowly, the onstage store lights come back up – on a perfectly CALM MARTYNA and a rather FRIGHTENED ERIC CHARMING. LARA enters. The door bells jingle. SHE looks only the tiniest bit rattled.

ERIC CHARMING

Are you okay?

MARTYNA

You were magnificent! A real paragon of conflict de-escalation!

LARA

I can’t believe that worked!

ERIC CHARMING

I’m glad it did. I never would have thought of it.

LARA

I never would have had the idea without you. Thank you, Eric. SHE smiles.  Eric Charming.

MARTYNA

Oh, I never doubted it would work. You’re one heck of a customer server, Lara. Anyway, I’ve got to be going before they leave me behind. Could I get those eggs?

LARA

Wait – before who leaves?

MARTYNA

I’ll go grab them. (SHE goes off stage – opposite the door way – and comes back with a carton of eggs. SHE hands LARA a $100.) I trust this will cover it. Great job, great show, great to meet you both. Maybe I’ll see you later? (SHE pulls out her phone and dials.) Gracie? Yeah, I’m ready to come back to the ship. (SHE hangs up.) Again – absolutely fantastic job, glad I was able to be here.

MARTYNA is beamed away in a RED BEAM OF LIGHT.

ERIC CHARMING

She was a –

LARA

Apparently.

ERIC CHARMING

Wow.

LARA

Yep. (SHE looks toward the DOORS.) Hey, look. The sun’s coming up.

ERIC CHARMING

Pretty.

LARA

My shift’s almost over. I should really get back to it. There’s some stock to shelve with my name on it.

ERIC CHARMING

Yeah, of course. I’ll get out of your hair.

LARA

Can I …  get you anything? Before you go?

ERIC CHARMING

(With a CHARMING smile.) No, I’m alright. I got what I came for. (HE heads to the door. Before leaving, HE looks back at LARA and SMILES one more time. HE leaves. The door bells jingle.)

LARA

(After ERIC CHARMING, almost to HERSELF.) Thanks for coming by All That And More. (To the AUDIENCE.) We hope you come again soon.

The LIGHTS tinge SLIGHTLY RED.

BLACKOUT.

Finis

 

Well! If you made it to the end, thanks. I know it’s not terribly good, but honestly, I kind of like it. It amuses me, and it was a really fun distraction to write.

Now that I’m home early and practicing  ~ social distancing ~, I’m going to try and post regularly(ish). You know, like I promise to do (and fail to deliver on) every time something changes in my life. We’ll discover whether or not that will happen together.

Stay safe and healthy, everyone. Do your part with  ~ social distancing! ~


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