This is being revised now because some of my playwright colleagues think it’s worth working on. But I’ll keep posting the original draft.
PLAYWRIGHT Great. Make-believe people asking me questions. Okay. Go ahead JOAN Where did I come from? PATRICIA Yeah, that’s a really good question. I suggest you go around the table and tell each one of us where we came from. PLAYWRIGHT In what way will that help me with these—TWO—plays I’m trying to write? GRANDMOTHER Who knows? That’s the fun of art, isn’t it? LAURA And why didn’t you invite me? PATRICIA All right, all right. Playwright, where did we come from? And there’s three plays, whether you like it or not. PLAYWRIGHT Okay, okay. You win. But I’m not going to go around the table. I’m going to start with Laura because she’s the oldest. LAURA You’re kidding, right? I’m only twenty-four. PLAYWRIGHT No. I’m not kidding. You’re the oldest in literary time. So. I don’t have a daughter, right? I have a son, who never gave us any kind of serious trouble. So one day I got to thinking, if we’d had a daughter, what would she be like. The opposite, is what I thought. LAURA So I’m your anti-son? PLAYWRIGHT Yup. LAURA Really. PLAYWRIGHT Yup. Conceived on a journal page early one morning about twenty years ago. LAURA So I dropped out of school, did drugs, ran away, got pregnant by a street person, had an abortion. . PLAYWRIGHT . . . you had the baby, remember, but he died. . . LAURA Oh yeah. I forgot. Anyhow then you made me run away and join a circus and get shot by a clown. PLAYWRIGHT Except in the play you weren’t going to get shot. LAURA I thought I would. PLAYWRIGHT I never got that far in the play. You only just ran away before I gave it up. LAURA I hope I get shot. It’s more dramatic. PLAYWRIGHT Well, if that’s what you want to believe, believe it. Because I’m not going to write it. You’re history. PATRICIA Could we please stick to the subject? What about Annie? ANNIE If Laura’s your anti-son, am I your anti-self? PLAYWRIGHT Crap. I don’t know. I made you up. I just don’t know. ANNIE I let Laura get away with everything. I thought everything she did was wonderful. I never disciplined her at all. After her father died. . . PLAYWRIGHT Well, yeah. The point, I mean, the point I was trying to make, was something about the unlived lives of parents. If you’d been a Latin scholar after all, if you’d had a life outside motherhood, things with Laura might have been different, don’t you see? PAT There it is. What-ifs. You can’t do what-ifs all the time. It’s what I kept trying to tell you. It’s why the damn novel didn’t work. PLAYWRIGHT Thanks, Pat. At least I got you right. PATRICIA What do you mean by that? You got me right, I think. PLAYWRIGHT Yeah, yeah, I guess so. You are a controlling bitch. PATRICIA Thank you. I do my best. JOAN Wait a minute, here. Are you saying that the rest of us aren’t what you call “right”? I beg your pardon. We are absolutely doing what you created us to do, in the very limited space you’ve given us. Alex and I have had only four pages so far. PLAYWRIGHT I know, I know. Which is why I called this meeting. I need to know you better. I guess what I mean by Pat and Patricia being right is that their voices are really clear to me, and have been from the beginning. It’s the rest of you I’m not sure about. You, for instance, Joan. Are you ironic, or straight-forward? Stern? I was thinking you were rather stern, but now I’m not sure. PATRICIA Speaking of my being a controlling bitch, how about your going back to telling us where we came from. You could keep going with Joan. PLAYWRIGHT I could, couldn’t I? Okay. Let’s see. I think Joan may be the scholar I wasn’t. The anthropologist, folklorist, classicist. ANNIE Oh. Maybe that explains me, too! PLAYWRIGHT Please be quiet, Annie. Yeah, I’ve always been interested in those things but never really did anything but dabble. And I’ve been interested lately in the connections between people, especially women, and trees, and looking for those myths. What intrigues me so far, is that in most of the cases, the woman became a tree to escape something. You all know about Daphne, of course, but then there was a woman in a San tale. . . PATRICIA All right, all right. We don’t need to know all this, do we? Just that Joan is a could-have-been of yours. Next? JOAN No, wait a minute. This is good for me to know. Now I’m wondering if you, Patricia, have a “could-have-been” in your past that makes you so bitchy. Did I hold you back from something? Did I fail to encourage you? PATRICIA Did you fail to encourage me? Mother! Are you kidding? You hardly even noticed me, you were so busy with all your research. Early on, I decided I wouldn’t do that stuff. I’d find a job that was just that, a job. Not a passion. And I’d be involved in my daughter’s life, and I have been. ALEX I’ll say.