Start Talking, part 2

This is the second part of the exercise I wrote, using vague characters from plays I was stuck on. Or with.



JOAN
Ha. Well then. Yes, Patricia, we do laugh at you behind your back. And like Grandmother and Red, Alex and I “eat funny” just as you suspect. And she/he/they is indeed in cahoots with me. 

PATRICIA
You haven’t said your name yet. Or what you think you’re supposed to be doing.

JOAN
Oh, well. I beg your humble pardon. You said my name, I believe.

PATRICIA
Did I?

JOAN
And you think I’m dotty. I am Joan. I am a retired academic folklorist and I would like very much to learn how to turn into a tree.

GRANDMOTHER
A tree? That sounds exciting.

JOAN
Yes. A tree. The alternative to being put into some dreadful kind of place by my charming daughter here, who is all efficient in her little suit.

PATRICIA
A tree? Well, that just goes to show that it’s not safe for you to be living alone anymore. I’m going to see an attorney, and. . . 

ALEX
Mom! Gram’s fine. She’s just fine. I should know because I see her a lot more than you do. At least, I’ve seen her for what, Gram? Three pages?

JOAN
Four.

ALEX
See? We didn’t even know what you looked like.

PATRICIA
Well I must say, I certainly did not expect any child of mine to appear in public looking like, like. . .

ALEX
What? A typical  teenager? What did you expect? An Instagram poser? A Tik-Tok celebrity?

PATRICIA
Oh for heaven’s sake. Stop running your mouth and introduce yourself.

ALEX
I’m Alex. I don’t really know my mother, yet, but I do know Joan, my Gram. I like her a lot. I didn’t think I disliked my mother anymore than any kid does, but now that I’ve met her and see what a jerk she is, well, I don’t think I like her. If I were Gram, I’d want to turn into a tree, too.

(Laura enters, graceful, dramatic. She stand by the table, smiling. 
There’s a silence while they all look at her.)

LAURA
Wow, you started without me.  (Reacting to the silence.)         What?

PLAYWRIGHT
I didn’t invite you.

LAURA
Really? Well, I’d have thought that my relationship with my mother was the point of this whole thing.

PLAYWRIGHT
It isn’t. These are plays about folklore, about mythology. Not at all about you.

LAURA
Come on, everything’s about me, and you know it. I want a chair. Where’s a chair? (Turns toward entrance.) Hey you back there! I want a chair!

(Stagehand enters with a folding chair, opens it and sets it up.)

LAURA
Not this kind. It’s not good for my back. I’m a dancer, you know? I have to be careful of my back.

PLAYWRIGHT
Fuck your back. I don’t want you here, but since you are, you can sit down and shut up.

LAURA
(Sits.)
I thought you wanted us to talk.

PLAYWRIGHT
Not. You. Just be quiet.

ANNIE
 (Enters, harried, looks around until she sees Laura.)
There you are, Laura. I’ve been looking for you everywhere. I thought you were in Florida, with the circus.

PLAYWRIGHT
Oh, terrific.


LAURA
I was, but then this happened. (Gesturing toward the group.)

ANNIE
And what is this? Would someone please tell me what’s going on?

PLAYWRIGHT
Okay. Everyone, this is Annie. As I’m sure you’ve gathered, she’s Laura’s mother. Laura is,  or she was. ..

LAURA
I think I should speak for myself.

PLAYWRIGHT
No. You shouldn’t. Shut up. I’ve thrown you away so many times. I don’t want to hear your smug, self-indulged voice ever again. 

LAURA
Whoa. Bad energy there.

PLAYWRIGHT
(Rising and threatening.)
I’ll give you bad energy. . . 

ANNIE
What’s going on? Laura, what are we doing here? Who are these people?

PLAYWRIGHT
Shit. Okay. (Calling to stage hand.) Another chair!
(Stage hand appears with a chair, opens it. Annie sits next to Patricia.)
As I was saying. Annie is Laura’s mother. Laura was a character in a novel, a long time ago, in which she ran away to the circus and was shot by a clown. I should have left her there, bleeding in the sawdust, but no, I resurrected her in a play that did not work. At all. And now for some reason known only unto Laura, Annie, her poor mother, has to deal with her again. Annie, I’m sorry.

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