Art, Theater
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Do Audiences Dream of Electronic Sheep [an unfinished play that was never produced or performed]

Act One

 

Scene One

 

A bare stage. Three Actors, man, woman, and Mike, are sitting down cross legged.

 

Man: Do you think we’ll get an audience today?


Woman: Can’t be any worse than yesterday.

 

Mike: You guys are so down on our luck.

 

Man: We’ve performing our skit for a month now on the streets and we haven’t got any money to show for it.

 

Mike: It’s not all about the money. We do it for art.

 

Woman: But it’s getting cold out here.

 

Mike: You shouldn’t give up so soon. We’ll find our niche.

 

Man: Maybe if we were in New York City.

 

Woman: Look, there’s someone walking by!

 

Mike: To your feet. Quick. Come on.

 

A STRANGER enters stage.

 

Mike: Hello, stranger. Do you have a minute to spare?

 

Stranger One: I was on my way to work.

 

Mike: We’ll only take a minute of your time. We call ourselves the Detroit Fringe Society. We’re an avante guard group that performs the theater in the streets. We gladly present to you our play, ‘Street Rapper Blues.

 

The actors jump into place.  Man and woman start beat boxing.

 

Mike: It’s a hard knock life,

Living on the edge of a knife,

Drifitng through these streets,

With so many mouths to feed.

 

Stranger One: I’m sorry. I don’t like rap.

 

Mike; But it’s an honest portrayal of the struggle our youth are going through today.

 

Stranger One: I don’t care about struggles.

 

Mike: But we only ask a minute of your time.

 

Stranger: And I’ve already give you one. I’m sorry, but I can’t. (Exits)

 

Man: That went well.

 

Mike: I’m telling you, we just have to keep trying.

 

Woman: I’m starting to feel like we’re the one with mouths to feed.

 

Mike: Look, here comes another potential audience member.

 

Stranger 2 enters stage.

 

Mike: Well, hello there ma’am. It’s a lovely morning, isn’t it.

 

Stranger 2: I shouldn’t be talking to strangers, There a symbol of the danger in the inner city and lack of sincerity among our neighbors.

 

Mike: Did you say symbol of danger. My group, The Detroit Fringe Society, is putting on a play about the dangers of the inner city.

 

Stranger 2: A play! I do like plays.

 

Mike: You’re just the audience member we need. Here, take a step back and watch my group perform.

 

The actors jump into place.  Man and woman start beat boxing.

 

Mike: It’s a hard knock life,

Living on the edge of a knife,

Drifitng through these streets,

With so many mouths to feed.

Gotta hustle to to make it thrive

Gotta hustle if you want to survive.

 

Man: (stops beatboxing) What’s up B Fox?

 

Mike: Just another day hustling.

 

Man: You  hear they got Snakeskin at the abandoned mill?

 

Mike: They got Snakeskin.

 

Man: Shot him twelve times. Said he charged the cops.

 

Woman: Did you say they shot Snakeskin?

 

Man: They tore him to pieces.

 

Mike: We gotta do something about it.

 

Man: We gotta riot. That’s what we got to do.

 

Stranger 2: Did you say riot. I’m sorry, but this is too violent.

 

Mike: But we’ve only started.

 

Stranger 2: I like pleasant stories. One where people are happy.

 

Mike: But this is a story of our times. Kids in the streets are getting shot down every day. Police brutality has gone to new extremes. It’s a story of our times.

 

Stranger 2: I’m sorry. It’s just not my cup of tea.

 

Man: Could you at least donate a dollar to our performance?

 

Stranger: I can’t support such obscene material. Have a good day. (Exits)

 

Man: Did you hear her. She can’t support obscene material!

 

Mike: She was a bad apple.

 

Woman: They’re all bad apples.

 

Mike: We must give it time.

 

Man: No one wants to support street performers.

 

Mike: We’re more than street performers. We’re street artists.

 

Man: I don’t care what we are! They don’t want it.

 

Mike: Do you know how long it takes to build an audience. What we offer is a niche. A niche that this city needs. I’m not just going to give up on that.

 

Man: Mike, I’ve been with you for four years. I’ve been on your side the whole time. I believe everything you say. And you’re a good writer. But there comes a time when we must give up.

 

Stephanie: I’m with William. We can’t keep doing this.

 

Mike: But we’ve only just begun.

 

Stephanie: Maybe we should try to find a job in a theater. You know, like an actual venue.

 

William: That is a realistic idea.

 

Mike: You know the theater sells out today.

 

William: Maybe we need to go commercial.

 

Mike: I can’t believe I’m hearing this from you two. We’ve always been devoted to the avant garde.

 

Stephanie: I love the fringe, but I want to perform for somebody. Anybody.

 

William: You’re a good writer, Mike. Well versed in the stage. No one’s doubting your ability. We’re just doubting your method.

 

Mike: (sits down) Hm. I feel like a limb has been lost.

 

William: There’s no need to be dramatic.

 

Mike: No. I’m not being dramatic. I feel like I’ve lost my arms. I can feel them, but they no longer are there.

 

Stephanie: Oh, is this supposed to be some sort of symbolism.

 

Mike: I’m not kidding. They’re gone. I think they call this phantom limb syndrome.

 

Stephanie: (sits down and lifts Mike’s right arm up) Look Mike, your arm is still here.

 

Mike: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

 

Stephanie: (she kisses Mike) You can feel that, can’t you.

 

Mike: Maybe you’re right. The streets of Detroit are no place for hagglers. Shakespeare wrote for a stage. Why can’t I.

 

William: Now you’re thinking.

 

Mike: But where will we find a stage to perform at. The world is full of writers and I can’t imagine a huge demand for one.

 

William: I’ll check right now. (Pulls out phone and starts pressing buttons)

 

Stephanie: (hugs his arm) Can your phantom limb feel my warmth.

 

Mike: It can feel a lump.

 

Stephanie: My breasts?

 

Mike: (wiggles his arm) Two of them.

 

Stephanie: Imagine if we could find a steady job. We wouldn’t have to live with your parents anymore.

 

Mike:

 

Act One

 

Scene Two

 

Stage is set up in two halves. On the right side is bare stage. On left side of stage is a desk with nothing on it. There’s two empty chairs behind the desk. At the front left corner of the stage is a small desk. Whitney, the secretary,is sitting there typing.

 

Producers and Jacks walk in front of stage from left. Both have an e-chip on their neck.

 

Robert: Has your day gone well, sir?

 

Jack: It wouldn’t go well without my morning coffee.

 

Robert: Nothing like a good cup of Joe.

 

Jack: No, there really isn’t. Especially when it’s black and hot.

 

Robert: I think our search for a writer shall go well.

 

Jack: As long as they can sell the chip we’ll be fine.

 

Jack and Robert sit at desk.

 

Jack: Good morning, Whitney.

 

Whitney: Good morning, sir.

 

Jack: What’s on the menu today?

 

Whitney: There’s three writers lined up.

 

Jack: Three huh? Robert, you keep insisting we look for talent when I tell you all we need is a hack.

 

Robert:  Sir, with all due respect, I feel even with corporate sponsorship we could use a talented writer.

 

Jack: Very well, have the first sent in. (to Robert) This should be interesting.

 

Lisa enters office.

 

Jack: Welcome, my dear. Please, have a seat. (Motions to empty seat.) My name is Jack. I’m the owner of Charlotte’s Venue. Next to me is our producer and director, Robert.

 

Robert: Hello.

 

Jack: As you know, we’ve put out an ad for a writer for a new show to be produced. We’re going for sponsorship with Feelslab, the company that created the e-chip. (Points to chip on neck). You’ve heard of it haven’t you?

 

Lisa: I’ve seen the commercials. About being anything you wanted.

 

Jack: (laughs) Not everything, but yes, the chip can turn you into a whole new person. Even enhance emotion. Which is why Feelslab is interested in sponsoring us. They feel the audiences will wear the chip during the play. We need a play to sell it. Would you be so kind as to tell us a little about yourself.

 

Lisa: Thank you so much for this opportunity. My name is Lisa, I’ve been writing now for ten years.

 

Jack: That’s good. Have you much experience in the theater?

 

Lisa: I graduated with my MFA from the University of Michigan, where my first play, ‘Chicken Scratch,’ was produced.

 

Robert: Ah, I think I heard of that one. About the doctor and his daughter who has leukemia.

 

Lisa: Oh my god. I can’t believe you’ve heard of it.

 

Robert: (to Jack) A terrible play. This should not go well.

 

Jack: That’s very good. Well, Lisa. What do you say we have a go and hear your idea?

 

Lisa: My idea is about a paralegal who falls in love with a lawyer. She gets cancer.

Jack: Cancer doesn’t sound uplifting.

Lisa: There’s a happy ending. The lawyer’s father is a scientist who just happens to discover a cure.

Robert: That doesn’t sound realistic

Lisa: I was going for magical realism.

Robert: It’s called deus ex machina.

Jack: Robert, please let the woman talk. Do go on. Give us a hint of dialogue.

Lisa: The paralegal has been diagnosed, she’s in the hospital, and the lawyer she works for has come into her room…

As Lisa talks, the lights dim on the office, and light up the bare stage on the right. Two actors, Stephanie and William, are standing in front of each other.

Stephanie: Roger, you came. I wasn’t expecting you too.

William: I did what I could. But I haven’t much time.

Stephanie: What do you mean?

William: I can’t do this Carla. I can’t watch you die.

Stephanie: But I need you, Roger. I love you.

William: And I love you. The word is an oyster. And your my pearl.

Stephanie: Then stay with me Roger. Together we can fight this damn cancer.

William: I can’t fight what can’t be defeated. I’m a lawyer, not a lover. I must think with my head.

Stephanie: Oh Roger, isn’t there anything I can do to change your mind?

William: I’m afraid this is the end of the line. Here’s looking at you kid.

Light dims on actors. The office is re-lit.

Lisa: Roger walks out of the hospital. She cries.

Robert: You really quoted from ‘Casablanca?’

Lisa: I thought that was a master stroke.

Robert: And is that all of your second act?

Lisa: No, I have more. I have my script right here. (She holds script up).

Jack: No, no. That was enough. Have a seat in our waiting room. We’ll get back to you shortly.

Lisa exits.

Robert: That was terrible.

Jack: Terrible doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t sell tickets.

Robert: The sappy romance?

Jack: You sound like that’s a bad thing.

Robert: It’s melodrama.

Jack: That’s what audiences want.

Robert: The audience never knows what it wants.

Jack: Whitney, what’d you think of it.

Whitney: (stops typing) Me. I thought it was endearing. I felt so bad for the woman.

Jack: There you have it. Whitney likes it.

Robert: She’s the secretary!

Jack: Jack, do you really have to be so insensitive? She’s the administrative assistant.

Robert: I can’t believe we’re having this argument.

Jack: Neither can I. Please, your setting.

Robert: (sighs) Yes, sir. (Presses e-chip) Regains composure.

Jack: Much better?

Robert: I feel very calm, sir.

Jack: Good. Whitney, could you call our next writer in.

Robert: Maybe I could get you coffee.

Jack: Your agreement chip is working fine. Such a wonderful gift from the company.

Pat enters.

Jack: Ah, welcome. Have a seat my boy. And what’s your name.

Pat: (sits) The name’s Patrick, but I go by Pat.

Jack: My brother’s name was Pat. Well Pat, you read the ad. We need a writer for an upcoming production that we’re hoping will get us sponsorship. Do you have anything good?

Pat: Yes, sir.

Jack: Come on. Out with it.

Pat: My play’s about a super-hero named Crayon Man.

Robert; What’s his power?

Pat: He can change the color of his skin.

Robert: What’s so special about that?

Pat: Absolutely nothing.

Robert: I don’t get it.

Pat: He’s the most useless super-hero of all time.

Robert: I still don’t get it.

Pat: It’s a comedy.

Jack: This super-hero, does he have a villain.

Pat: Oh yes, sir. His name is Turpentine Man. He can erase any color.

Robert: I take it he’s the most useless super-villain of all time.

Pat: How’d you know?

Robert: Wild guess.

Jack: Do you have a scene between the two.

Pat: Yes. Crayon Man has just discovered a plot by Turpentine Man to take over the world. He’s cornered him…

Lights dim of office and light up right side of stage.

Stephanie: Halt right there, evil doer!

William: Or you’ll do what?

Stephanie: I’ll change to red, the universal color for stop!

William: That’s my favorite color.

Stephanie: Blue?

William: My second favorite.

Stephanie: Pink?

William: Now you’re just being facetious. No matter, with my power, I’ll just erase your skin tone! And then you’ll be transparent man!  

Stephanie: Ha ha! I thought of that. Which is why I brought along this bag of cat litter, known to absorb turpentine!

Audience plant: I don’t get it. Is this supposed to be funny?

Different audience plant: Where’s the slapstick?

William: (sighs) I don’t actually use turpentine. That’s just a clever name.

Stephanie: Well, what do you use?

William: My mind. Like you do.

Stephanie: So you’re telling me, that with your mind, you can erase the color of my skin?

William: Exactly. Isn’t it marvelous?

Stephanie: That does sound cool.  How’d you get it?

William: A funny story. I used to work for Crayola, but I was fired for being too creative. Then I came across this magic genie bottle…

Stephanie: No way! Me too!

William: Wait. Did you find it on the corner of 3rd and Cherry?

Stephanie: How’d you know?

William: That’s where I found my magic genie bottle! You know, we have a lot in common.

Stephanie: Except for one thing. Our powers oppose each other. Which means we’re sworn enemies!

William: We can’t do lunch?

Stephanie: I don’t think that’s possible.

William: But we share a common origin story. I think at the very least we should add each other as friends on Facebook.

Stephanie: It wouldn’t look good to the other super-heroes.

William: Twitter?

Stephanie: Uh uh.

William: Wait. I know! What if we had a Magneto and Professor X thing going? We’d be best friends but sworn enemies.

Stephanie: Like frenemies?

William: Exactly!

Stephanie: I guess it couldn’t hurt to try something new.

William; Well there you have it.

Stephanie; So what do we do now?

William: Well, I can’t just render you entirely useless now that we’re pals.

Stephanie: Hm. Oh, I know! What if I turned into a color we both like, and we agree to walk away.

William: I love green!

Stephanie: Get out of here. Me too. (gestures dramatically). There! I’m now the color of the earth.

William: Emerald, huh? I’m more of a hunter green fan.

Stephanie: No wait! I can do hunter. (Gestures dramatically again)

William: (laughs manically) Ha! I made you stall, all the while the bomb I set has been ticking away! You’ll never save the Earth now!

Stephanie: No!

Lights dim on the right side of the stage and re-light the office.

Pat: So Crayon Man yells no, and that’s the end of the scene.

Robert: I have to admit, I had my doubts, but that was funny.

Jack: Yes, yes, that was very good.

Pat: So you liked it?

Jack: Sure, sure. I’ll tell you what. We have two more writers coming in. Have a seat in our lobby and we’ll let you know.

Pat: Oh thank you. (Pat exits.)

Jack: I think his humor worked wonderfully.

Robert: As did I, Jack. After all, I was a writer once myself. But we must keep corporate in mind.

Jack: Are you saying you didn’t like it?

Robert: I’m saying it might go over the audiences heads. It relies on wit and wordplay. What audiences want is slapstick.

Jack: Should audience expectation override good taste.

Robert: Your devotion to the material is that of a puppy.

Jack starts to have convulvsions.

Robert: It looks like I’ve struck a nerve. (Presses Jack’s e-chip. Jack rregains his composure.) Feeling much better.

Jack: Much better, sir..

Robert: Whitney, send our last writer in.

Mike enters.

Jack: Welcome. Have a seat. And what is your name.

Mike: Mike.

Jack: Mike, tell me a little bit about yourself.

Mike: I’m an actor for a local fringe theater in Detroit. We do original pieces in public.

Jack: Ah, a starving artist. Do you have any education?

Mike: I dropped out at the University of Toledo my sophomore year.

Jack: A self taught man, huh?

Mike: I learned much from Shepard as I did Beckett. They were my teachers.

Jack: Very well. What we looking for today is a writer for our play that is going for corporate sponsorship. Do you think you have anything that might interest us?

Mike: It’s about an inventor who’s built the perfect killing machine for the government.

Jack: And?

Mike: He ends up having remorse for all the death he’s now responsible for.

Jack: Do you have a final act?

1: The inventor is waiting in his house all by himself. He had a daughter who died years ago. A clock ticks on the wall. Minutes go by. There’s a knock on the door. The inventor opens it. A soldier’s standing there, dripping wet from the rain. It’s one of the cyborgs he helped create.

Lights dim over office. The right side of the stage is re-lit.

William: Welcome Model DQU1253, I’ve been waiting for you. Come in.

Lights re-lit over office:

Robert: That name sounds like your license plate number.

Mike: It is. Like I said, the soldier enters the house.

Lights dim again.

Stephanie pretends to step through door. She holds her hand up in the shape of a gun.

William: If I may, I’d like to call you John. I always wanted to name a son that. (pause) Did you have much trouble getting here?

Stephanie: Nothing I couldn’t handle, sir.

William: I forget. You were made to get by harder situations. But enough of this. We’ve only got a few moments. Come, sit down.

William: You know, it’s been almost a decade since another person has stepped into my house. Times have changed. For the worst, I say.

Stephanie: Time always changes, sir.

William: (Laughs) You are right, but that’s not quite what I meant. This world, this country, what it is, or rather, what it once was, it’s no more. We’ve changed as a whole.

Stephanie: I don’t comprehended.

William: Of course not. You can’t think. At least not yet. But they don’t know that.

Stephanie: Sir, I only exist to perform. I fight, I kill. I know nothing, other than who the enemy is.

William: That’s what they need. (Pretends to pull picture frame off shelf and hands it to Stephanie) I was a kid in that picture. See that toy car. That was the first thing I ever built. Pretty generic. Back then, most people were personalizing their computers. But I built a toy. No computer chips, no electronics. Just some cheap wood and rubber wheels.

Stephanie: I don’t follow, sir.

William: They’d been building these for over a hundred years. But I had to begin somewhere. It’s the fundamentals that carry a man through life, like knowing how to ride a bike. Tell me, John, have you ever rode a bike?

Stephanie: No, sir.

William: It’s been a while since I have, but I remember it being fun.

Stephanie: What is fun?

William: A question. Good. You’re just a child, only a decade old. You know what you are, don’t you.

Stephanie: The perfect soldier, designed by the Special Technology Forces Department of the U.S. military, created by chief scientist, Tom Daranbout.

William: Straight from the manual. It took me years to perfect you. So many times I had come close, and still so many flaws. They wouldn’t allow any margin of error. And what resulted was you, designed to…

Stephanie: Search and destroy the enemy, at whatever cost necessary.

William: Exactly. The perfectly fit alpha, without the emotion. We could have programmed you to feel, but that would have defeated your purpose. No empathy. Just the order to kill.

Stephanie: No operation has ever failed. We have a hundred percent victory rate.

William: Unfortunately. My greatest accomplishment, and yet the worst thing I ever did, aside from losing Lilly.

Stephanie: Your daughter.

William: I was away building you while she sat here and suffered. Leukemia. Hell of a disease. (pause) It’s funny. I don’t remember how old she was.”

Stephanie: She was Mike0-years-old, sir.

William: You know a lot, John, don’t you?

Stephanie: We are given complete information about the enemy. With information, victory is certain.

William: But at what cost?

Stephanie: At whatever cost necessary, sir.

William: We can do better.

Stephanie: Then why don’t you?

William: That’s why I made you?

Stephanie: (raises hand in shape of gun) I have to kill you, Tom Daranbout.

William: I’ve been waiting.

Stephanie: Before I do, I need to know why.

William: Sometimes we have dreams that seem impossible. But once in a while there comes a spark that lets them become reality. We get what we want but we have to live with the consequences

Stephanie: What is it like to live?

William: Oh, John, it’s wonderful. And painful. It’s everything there is to feel.

Stephanie: I wish I understood that.

William: You will soon.

Stephanie pretends to shoot. William falls to the ground. Debonair plant in the audience starts sobbing uncontrollably.

Lights dim over right side of stage. The office is re-lit.

Mike: The scientist lays there, taking a final breath. The soldier says sorry.

Robert: (clapping) That was good.

Mike: So you like it?

Jack: Like it? I loved it.

Mike: That’s wonderful. So did I get the job?

Jack: Give us a few moment to talk things over. Have a seat in the waiting area and we’ll get back to you.

Mike exits.

Robert: Jack, that was a wonderful script.

Jack: Indeed, Robert, it was good. But what will corporate think?

Robert: But you said you loved it.

Jack: Yes, I did. But we must not lose sight of the hand that feeds. It’s too complex. Corporate tells us that there’s been a few problems with the chip handling too many emotions at once. A couple of cases with children.

Robert: Children? What are you saying?

Jack: Nothing, nothing. I’m all saying is that audiences need something that won’t overload their chip.

Robert: You’re telling me this thing on my neck can get overloaded!

Jack: I’m telling you need to calm down.

Robert: This is nuts. I’ll have none of this.

Jack: (He opens a drawer and pulls out a remote.) I think your chip has made you a little too devoted to your setting as enthusiastic producer. Fortunately, corporate sent me this remote controller as a gift.

Producer: A remote controller?

Jack: Hasn’t even hit the market yet. They say it’ll be great for parents. Even has a child lock that prevents a child from being able to change their settings.

Producer: I’m not a kid.

Jack: See, they thought about that, and they figured this would also make a great tool for employers as well. No more problems with disobedience.

Producer: You speak as if the employee is a dog.

Jack: A dog. (laughs) A dog can be trained to sit. A human, no, they cling to free will.

Producer: What are you saying?

Jack: That chip I gave you was pre-programmed to settings of my choice. Naturally, I chose what was best for this theater. I think it’s time we change your setting. How about obedient dog? (Jack presses button on chip.)

Robert: (Sits down) Thank you, sir.

Jack: Are we feeling much better?

Robert: I’m happy.

Jack: Very good.

Fade to black

 

Act One

Scene Three

Jack: It’s ambitious to say the least.

1: So you like it?

Jack: Like it? I love it.

Producer: It’s a miracle!

Lisa: You can’t be serious.

2: See, I’m not the only one who likes it.

Jack: Let me finish. I love it, but I can’t produce it.

Lisa: Ha!

1: Excuse me, sir.

Jack: As you were speaking, I felt my heart being tugged. (He points to his e-chip on his neck, which is blinking wildly.)

1: That’s good. You were moved.

Jack: Yes, but now I care for the character. I don’t want him to die.

1: That’s melancholy.

Jack: An archaic emotion that should be removed from the world. Who wants to feel like they should cry?

1: Tears are a method of catharsis.

Jack: My boy, we have technology to provide that for us.

1: A chip that numbs us to the things that make us feel?

Jack: You forget that we’re going up for corporate sponsorship, who just happens to be the creator of the e-chip.

1: A useless device.

Jack: Nonsense! The chip can provide every emotion necessary. All that’s needed is for actors to move around and say a few words. (The Jack changes the setting on his e-chip). Here, I ‘ll show you. Tell me the worst joke you’ve ever heard.

2: Oh, I got one!

Jack: Let me have it.

2: One night I’m sitting at home. It’s winter and my wife is picking feathers off my sweater. All of the sudden she turns to me and asks, “Have you been cheating on me with a bird?” So I look at her right in the eye and say, “I swear, it was just a peck on the cheek.” She kicked me out of the house.

The Producer just stares while the Jack starts laughing hysterically. The producer changes the setting on his device and starts laughing hysterically.

Jack: Woo, that was a doozy.

Producer: A real gut buster.

1: That chip could make them like anything. They’d laugh at a man getting hit in the groin with a football.

The Jack and producer start laughing louder and more uncontrollably.

1: This isn’t America’s funniest home videos.

Jack: (points at MIke, still laughing) The ball! His groin!

Producer: (Starts sobbing) It works on so many levels!

Jack: (still laughing) Oh dear, tears. Quick, your setting.

The Producer changes the setting on the Producer’s e-chip. At the drop of a dime he regains his composure. The Jack changes the setting on his e-chip. He regains his composure.

Jack: Don’t you see? With this chip, the audience can enhance whatever emotion they want. But no one wants to see something that will make it enhance their sadness.

1: It’s dishonest.

Jack: This is the theater. It was built on lies.

1: This is art. There’s always a truth waiting to be exposed.

Jack: You seem to think you know more about the theater than I.

1: How can we let you down when you all have to do is press a button to make you feel happy?

Jack: If you had an e-chip you wouldn’t feel the need to ask that.

 

Act Two

Scene 1

Jack’s office, same set up as Act One, Scene Three.  The Jack sits at his desk. Across from him is the company rep. He has a chip on his neck that has a knob.

Rep: Did I ever tell you the one about the people who couldn’t see the airplane?

Jack: I can’t recall that you did.

Rep: It went over their heads.

Jack: (laughs) A marvelous joke, Mr. Sellsout.

Rep: You know, I spent seven years in the Air Force.

Jack: You’re a true patriot.

Rep: A man outta make sacrifices. I could only do my part. Beside, my father served, and his father served, and if you keep going, you’ll see that his father served.

Jack: Tell me. Have the armed forces taken an interest in your chip?

Rep: Taken an interest? They helped fund the technology. The military spent two billion in D and R. It was their idea for the Rambo chip. Our first product.

Jack: Ah, yes, the Rambo chip.

Rep: You know it was banned in 27 countries. Once the terrorists got a hold of it we knew we had a good product.

Jack: Every side has an investor.

Rep: That oil money kept us afloat. But you didn’t hear that from me.

Jack: So what does the military have in mind?

Rep: You know that’s confidential. But I’d say we’re friends, now, Jack. Can you keep a secret?

Jack: Certainly.

Rep: We want to start out young. You know how popular G. I. Joe toys have been.

Jack: I played with them as a kid.

Rep: Me too. Well we’ve designed a G. I. Joe chip for kids, that is bundled with a virtual reality game. Buy the assault rifle accessory, and you have the first complete training kit for children. We’ll make marksmen of them all.

Jack: I must say that Feellabs has outdone themselves.

Rep: Video games are the future. People don’t want actors anymore. They want total immersion. I’ll be honest. I’m not much of a theater man myself. I grew up worshiping film. The theater asks too much of the audience. To use their imaginations. To think. That’s why I don’t think we can sponsor your show.

Jack: That’s certainly unexpected. I thought we had an agreement.

Rep: An intern read you proposal. They sent me out here as a formal courtesy. Nothing more.

Jack: But I’ve put my money into this venture. Hired writers, a director. We bring actors in today.

Rep: I’m sorry but I can’t sink my company’s money into a play. The theater is dead.

Jack: Dead. They’ve been saying that since the 20th century.

Rep: Some things die slowly.

Jack: And some things can be revived. I can’t argue that we’re not in a dark period, but these things are cyclical.

Rep: It doesn’t matter. Audiences want their sensory inputs overloaded, not their brain stimulated. The theater requires an imagination.

Jack: But I tell you, this play won’t require an imagination. It’s been tailored for modern audiences.

Rep: I’ve heard this all before.

Jack: There must be something I can do to change your mind.

Rep: I’m afraid not, Jack. I enjoyed our conersation. But I must go.

Jack: Wait! What if I gave you a cut of the profit. Say five percent?

Rep: Jack, you can’t seriously be bribing me.

Jack: I make a business proposition.

Rep: A low ball deal.

Jack: Seven percent.

Rep: I’d settle for ten.

Jack: It’s good to see you care about the arts.

Rep: Have to keep them in our best interests. I must remind you this doesn’t guarantee my higher ups will buy it. You’ve merely purchased my staying here. I find the theater terribly boring. Too much talking. You’re going to have to hit a home run.

Jack: I assure you I have just the writer to put on the show.

Rep: I’ve heard assurances before. I need proof.

Jack: Would you care to meet him?

Rep: Is he a man of influence?

Jack: Influence? I hold him under my thumb.

Rep: Indeed. It’d be my pleasure to meet him.

Jack: (Presses a button on intercom on his desk). Whitney, could you fetch Lisa and have come to my office?

Rep: Is there a director as well?

Jack: Our producer is doubling down as our director. I’ll send him in is well. (Presses button on intercom again) Whitney, could you send in Robert, as well.

Rep: I feel like royalty.

Jack: Only the best for our guest. Tell me, Mr. Sellsout, that chip on your neck, is that a new model?

Rep: (points to chip) I was wondering if you would notice this. This is our highest end model. Not even on the market.

Jack: I must say I’m jealous.That knob, what does it do?

Rep: A sensation meter. Have you ever smoked a joint, Robert?

Jack: In my youth.

Rep: Well then you know the joys of feeling high. But of course you know that these things are illegal.

Jack: It’s the modern shame of our nation.

Rep: Imagine you could enhance your perceptions. Forget emotion. Somatic sensation enhancement is what they call it.

Jack: I must admit, I’m not familiar with your terminology.

Rep: The somatic system is what control sensation. My chip can enhance it. In other words, a perfectly legal way of feeling good. No need to ever feel down again. Just one turn of the dial and I can instantly feel happy. Imagine walking through life on a cloud.

Jack: How do you get around government regulations?

Rep: It’s not a drug, and therefor doesn’t fall into the FDA hands. Besides, a free chip sent to a congressman helps sway votes and turns heads away from passing bill.

Jack: I must say, your company has outdone itself.

Rep: I work for the best.

A Knock.

Jack: That must be them. (Offstage) Come in!

Lisa and Robert enter.

Jack: Mr. Sellsout, let me introduce you to the creative team. This is Lisa, our writer, and Robert, our producer and director.

Rep: (stands) So this is the brains to the operation.

Jack: Mr. Sellsout is a company representative from corporate. He’s here to keep an eye on our play.

Rep: Oh, really Jack. I’m here to have fun.

Lisa: It’s a pleasure to meet you.

Rep: So Jack here tells me you have a play that can sell the e-chip. Is that so?

Lisa: My play will give the audience everything they’re asking for. Happiness, an uncomplicated story, characters to fall in love with.

Rep: But will they want to buy the chip?

Lisa: My play will sell out all of your e-shapes. I’ve worked on it day and night. Not one stone has been unturned.

Producer: We made sure it will appeal to the most popular chips.

Rep: That’s all fine, but what I’m suggesting is advertisements. Jack, you get what I’m saying?

Jack: We have posters all around the theater. Commercials lined up.

Rep: Sure, but what I mean is do you have anything in-play? Product placements.

Lisa: Product placements?

Rep: Yes.You’ve seen films haven’t you?

Lisa: Of course I have.

Rep: Then you know that the easiest way to sell a product is to have an actor say a few lines about the product.

Lisa: I wasn’t aware we could do that.

Rep: Oh, I merely suggest. I mean it’s only my opinion that can influence my company’s sponsorship of you play.

Jack: What we have is a communication breakdown. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to throw in a few lines.

Lisa: Certainly, sir.

Rep: That’d be great. Make sure they hold the product to the audience. They need to see the brand.

Lisa: Anything you ask for.

Rep: Tell me. Who are the characters of your play?

Lisa: There’s a man and woman…

Rep: How old are they?

Lisa: I didn’t have a specific age in mind.

Rep: Are they adults?

Lisa: I thought that was obvious.

Rep: They need to be teenagers.

Lisa: Teenagers?

Rep: That’s all the rage today. Kids in love. Tell me, this boy character, what does he do?

Lisa: He was a lawyer.

Rep: No, no. He’s a nerd. The boy gets bullied.

Lisa: But he’s the hero.

Rep: We need to hit up the nerd cultire. Quick, the girl, what is she?

Lisa: A paralegal.

Rep: No more, she’s now a cheerleader who’s also valedictorian.

Lisa: But the play hinges on that dynamic careers. That’s the whole plot.

Rep: Plot,oh yes, plot. That dreary thing. What you need is keywords.

Lisa: Keywords?

Rep: You know, like hash tags. What’s trending. The buzz.

Lisa: Like twitter?

Rep: Sure. For example, all the rage right now is war. People want a good war film. Then there’s historical epics, biographies, political intrigue, disabilities, show business, boobs, heart-warming, minority rights, did I say boobs?, justice porn, destruction porn, regular porn, and more boobs. Can your play deliver the hitwords. We need the internet lit up.

Lisa: I’ve never thought of a play like that.

Rep: Then spit them out.

Lisa: Well, there’s cancer survivor, romance, triumph.

Rep: That’s good, that’s good. There’s a nugget there. But we need more. I must look over this play.

Lisa: But the actor’s will be in soon to audition.

Rep: Doesn’t matter. We’ll give them a few lines. Doesn’t even matter how they say it. We just need them to look good.

Jack: I don’t think it should be a problem to let him have a look over the play.

Lisa: No, not at all. I’ll get it once.

Rep: Good, good.

Lisa exits.

Rep: (to producer) Jack says you the producer and director.

Producer: That’s correct, sir.

Rep: What’s your direction for the play?

Producer: My direction?

Rep: Yes, yes. What do you aim to get out of the audience?

Producer: The goal was to get them to come out of the theater feeling good.

Rep: We need more. The product must sell. Feellabs can’t put their name on a product that doesn’t sell.

Producer: What would you have me do?

Rep: We need the actors to stare. A lot.

Produucer: I’ve never been told that.

Rep: Our studies show that audiences want actors to stare into their eyes. Like in films.

Producer: But this is the theater. The audience can’t see the actors’ faces.

Rep: True, but we have a chip now that can enhance eye sight. We call it hawk eyes. Your play would be a great selling point for the product.

Jack: That shouldn’t be a hard direction to give, now should it Robert?

Producer: Not at all sir.

Rep: While we’re at it, I’d like to see the actors today.

Jack: An easy accommodation.

Producer: Is that all?

Rep: I think I’m finished here.

Jack: That’ll be all, Robert.

Producer exits.

Jack: Has your appetite been wetted?

Rep: Hardly. I’m not convinced this play is a good fit. I’ll need to see this script.. We’re in the business of selling, not pleasing.

Jack: Then let the play do the talking.

Rep: We’ll see about that.

Fade to black.

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This entry was posted in: Art, Theater
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My name is Michael and during my free time I avoid having a day job. Strangely enough, this gives me the freedom to run this blog. I write just about anything that can be considered art. I also occasionally post articles that may or may not be relevant to the theme of this site. You’ve been warned.

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