Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Untitled Play: Scene 5 Part 1 Another Complete Rewrite

(In Walk Cousins 1 and 2, older daughters of Uncle and Aunt. Cousin 1, a west-coast doctor and wears as much maturity as possible as a pose. She is 30 and rail thin, but her dark hair is beginning to have grey highlights. Cousin 2, 28, is a bit thicker-set, but quite physically fit and tan from nearly ten years living in Israel. Aunt sees her daughters and literally breaks down weeping. Everybody else laughs. They come up to their mother and hug her from either side.)

Aunt: (through sobs to everybody) Why didn't you tell me they were coming into town?

Uncle: Your son wanted to keep this a secret.

Aunt: You all knew?

(Everybody awkwardly nods their heads)

Aunt: (suddenly angry at them all) How could you keep this a secret from me???

Uncle: What? Are you not happy your children are here?

Aunt: (offended they weren't there for Thanksgiving) Where were they for Thanksgiving?

Cousin 1: We were in Seattle.

Aunt: And where have you been for the three weeks since his bar-mitzvah? (points to Son 3)

Cousin 2: I was going through the National Parks with some friends from Israel.

Aunt: (ready to explode) You've been here for three extra weeks and you don't see your family?!

Son 1: Can you blame her?

Cousin 2: It was a chance to learn things for the Kibbutz.

Aunt: Yes, I'm sure your desert kibbutz needs to know everything there is to know about how to cope with 40 degree rainy seasons.

Cousin 3: Mom, you can't get mad at her. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity she got on a grant from the Israeli government.

Aunt: If I knew you were coming into town I'd have gotten ready for you!

Uncle: What do you need to do to get ready? Just make their beds and we'll make them lunch tomorrow!

Aunt: (frustrated) Their rooms are a mess from the last time they were in town!

Cousin 2: Relax Mom, we've been able to clean our rooms for a quarter-century.

Aunt: (exasperated) We redid the entire house last year and I've been dreaming the whole time about us all staying in a clean house together. Now it's a mess!

Cousin 1: I'm sure it's gorgeous.

Aunt: (rising anger) I'd have called all your cousins to come over!

Uncle: This doesn't need to be a big production. They all saw each other at the Bar Mitzvah.

Aunt: (furious) All we have in the fridge is leftover chicken!

Cousin 3: I'm sorry Mom, I told them to make it a surprise because I thought you were going to be happy to see them again.

Cousin 1: We can buy something tomorrow morning Mom.

Cousin 5 (entering): No you won't. It's Shabbos.

Cousin 2: (looks over to Cousin 5) Abba (Dad) warned us about you.

Cousin 5: What did he say?

Cousin 2: Nothing, just that you were 'exploring your Judaism.'

Cousin 5: You should explore it too!

Cousin 2: What do you think I'm doing in Israel?

Son 1: According to your emails you sound like you kill a Palestinian every day and then go out for Ice Cream to celebrate.

Mom: What's email?

Son 1: I explained this to you Mom. It's just like regular mail, but on a computer.

Mom: Oh that's right!

Son 1: If you like I can also show you how the Cotton Gin works.

Uncle: Be nicer to your mother.

Son 1: This is 1995! You have to know what computers are if you want to do anything today.

Dad: Well he's right that everything is computers these days but it's all gonna be over in a few years.

Son 1: Here comes the expert on all things technology.

Dad: It has to or else we're all farcockt! One day soon we're all going to store every tchotchke (triviality/trinket) in the world on a computer and one little glitch happens and it'll all disappear.

Son 1: Here it is, The Charge of The Luddite Brigade!

Dad: How can anybody get anything done on a computer? I didn't think a person could get any more addicted to anything than you were to television. Then you discovered the internet!

Cousin 1 (to Cousin 2): Here we go.

Dad: You stay in your room for hours at a time looking at that screen. What the hell is so interesting?

Aunt: Oh I think we know...

Son 1: Alright, fuck every last one of you.

Mom: Sha!

Son 1: (indignant) I'm happy you all can find people to spend your lives with. You all think it's so easy! But not everybody finds it easy to jump through all those hoops, and even if we did, we wouldn't want to.

Dad: Wait,... what?

Son 1: You all go through life as though there's nothing to life but a Heuse mit Zvay point Zvay Kinder (house with two point two children) und (and) a Veiss (white) Picket Fence!  But we all have the right to some happiness in the way we want and need and I'm sick of people judging about it!

Dad: I really don't know what you're talking about?

(son 2 whispers in his ear)

Dad: (horrified, amused, and excited about the possibility at the same time) Is that really what people do on the internet?

Son 1: (gets up) Oh god, I'm leaving.

Dad: (gets up to stop him) Haltn mein sohn (stop my son). Let me red (tell) you a little nishtik (trivial something) you didn't know. You may not realize this but your Zaydie had a thing for pornography too.

Son 1: I don't have a thing for pornography!

Dad: Well your Zaydie certainly did!

Son 1: Stop talking about him like that! He's right here!

Dad: Neyn neyn (no no), your other Zaydie.

(long pause) 

Son 2: You gotta be kidding me.

Dad: Yes, while he was dying of cancer he would sit on the sofa in your Bubbie's living room, and there would be all these alte (old) Playboys right underneath the sofa. And no matter who was over, he never moved them.

Uncle: This can't possibly be true! I was living there to help take care of him and I never saw them.

Dad: I swear they were there every time we were there!

Uncle: Those must have been my Playboys.

Dad: Stop covering for him. It was your father's and you know it! We would sit there every Shabbos afternoon, you, me, your Tate, and Rabbi Blitz, the playboys would be right underneath the sofa and Rabbi Blitz had to pretend he didn't see anything!

Cousin 1: That's amazing!

Dad: (to Cousins 1 and 2) And it was the 70's, so all the women were totally unshaved. Is that back out of style with your friends?

Mom: What the hell are you doing?

Dad: What? I asked about their friends, not them!

Cousin 1: See Mom, we wouldn't have missed this for the world. Come hug me.

(long, firm embrace between them) 

Aunt: (coming out of the hug) You have a rip in your jeans. That's not like you!

Son 2: It's all the rage now in Seattle. (Cousin 1 affectionately rolls her eyes) 

Aunt: What do you mean?

Cousin 3: Everybody tries to be like Kurt Cobain over there.

Aunt: Who's Kurt Cobain.

Son 1: He's a famous rock singer from Seattle who killed himself last year when he realized how bad his music was.

Son 2: I think his music is great!

Son 1: Another great example of a Columbia education at work.

(needs transition...)

(Cousin 5 goes over to hug her sisters, hugs Cousin 2 first) 

Cousin 2: I love your skirt!

Cousin 5: Thanks!

Cousin 2: The Charedi girls in Israel don't look nearly this beautiful.

Cousin 5: (disappointed) Oh... (unconsciously puts her hands over herself to cover herself up) 

Cousin 1: Don't worry, you still look plenty tzniyustic (modest).

Cousin 5: Aw... thanks! (hugs Cousin 1. Within a second of when they go in for a hug, Cousin 1 pulls back, suddenly quite nauseous.) Excuse me, I have to head to the bathroom... (runs out of room)

Dad (jokingly): Oh don't tell me she's pregnant. (long awkward pause) 

Son 1: Well shit...

Cousin 3: None of you were supposed to know until Sunday so when she announces it, act surprised.

Son 1: Who's the father?

Cousin 3: (immediately, so that no speculation starts) The new guy.

Son 2: Who's the new guy?

Uncle: (with a slight hint of pride) Another doctor at the hospital.

Son 1: (chuckling with barely contained relish) He's divorced with grown up kids.

Dad: Her fiancee has grayer hair than any of us. When she brought him here over Labor Day I figured it was to set him up with her grandmother.

Son 1: Well, speaking of the fact that he's old,... not that that I care but is he...

Uncle: (interrupting) He's converting.

Son 1: No, I know that, I mean, is he... (makes a motion as though it's obvious)

Uncle: I don't understand.

(this time Son 1 makes a scissor motion, Uncle buries head in hands)

Aunt: You know, I never asked... Do you know? (turns to Cousin 2)

Cousin 2: She never mentioned one way or the other.

Dad: Well this is probably something you're going to need to know.

Mom: (irritated at Dad) You don't need to know anything.

Son 1: But don't you want to find out?

Son 2: I know I do.

Mom: Don't ask her. Please.

Cousin 1: (enters) What do you want to ask me? Whether I'm pregnant?

(nervous laughter all around except for Son 1)
     
Son 1: No, actually we figured that out about a minute ago. What we want to know is whether your new boy is...

Cousin 1: Jewish? No, he told me he was interested in converting before we even started dating.

Son 1: No, not Jewish. Is he...

Cousin 1: Black? Yes, you know that, so what?

Son 1: No not that either. Is he?...

Cousin 1: Is he?...

Son 1: Is he?...

(Cousin 1 looks at him as though to say 'I don't understand, say it out loud...) 

Son 1: (exasperated so just saying it) Has he had his dick cut?!

Cousin 1: Oh! No, he actually hasn't.

Son 2: Ew. You're not going to make him go through with that are you?

Cousin 1: Brisses are different for adults.

Son 2: Do we castrate the adults?

Cousin 1: No, they just take a needle and prick it like a blood test so a few drops of blood come out like a blood test.

(collective gasps and exclamations) 

Son 2: (loud enough to be over the din) That's the most disgusting thing I've ever heard!

Cousin 1: He's a surgeon. He does worse all the time!

Son 2: How can you all be OK with a religion that sees newborn boys and feels the urge to mutilate their penises?

(more collective gasps and exclamations) 

Dad: (loud enough to be over the din) Why are you so hostile to everything we do?

Son 2: Why are you so hostile to the idea that maybe we shouldn't sever the genitals of defenseless babies?

(the daughters leave the room with their mother) 

Uncle: (as though he's been waiting the whole time for the chance to strike back) And how can you be OK with supporting a religion that severs the genitals of girls when they're already teenagers?

Son 2: It's not the whole religion, it's just a small part of it.

Uncle: It's not that small.

Son 2: You can't paint all of Islam like that.

Uncle: Why not? They do it to us!

Son 2: So you should just be as bad as they are?

Uncle: There's no way we could ever be as bad as they are!

Son 2: Well what do we do? We stick a million of them in a piece of land smaller than Manhattan. How is that not like the ghettos?

(Mom's and Uncle's lines at the same time)

Uncle: Don't you dare use that word to compare us to that.  

Mom: How can you be so hateful to your own people?

Son 2: (To Mom) Because it's my people doing these things!

Uncle: Oh, so we're only your people when you get to criticize us?

Son 2: You criticize me all the time, and I'm your people!

Uncle: That's because you want your own people to die!

Son 2: Ah, you see?! There it is! Just because I want peace I'm no different than people who want to butcher women and commit genocide!

Dad: Oh, so you admit that they want to commit genocide?

Son 2: Well after what we've done to them, who can blame them?

(exclamations of exasperation all around from Mom, Dad, Uncle) 

Son 1: Alright, this whole fight is bullshit. I'm going to the other room.

Mom: Can you call your cousins back in here when you go?

Son 1: I want to talk to them!

Mom: They still haven't said hello to their father.

Son 1: Why's that my responsibility? He's foaming at the mouth right now about his nephew riding a Hezbollah rocket into Tel Aviv.

Uncle: (suddenly realizing how badly he lost it) No,... no, I'm done. Can you call them in?

Son 1: I don't think I need to...

(enter all three daughters...)

Daughter 1: Is everything alright in here?

Uncle: (Looking around, tears in his eyes) Yeh, yeh, alz is recht (Yes, yes, everything's right). (grabs his two older daughters)

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