Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New York City Living as a Budding Playwright

Foto by tgw, New York City, 2010
"Whaz Hap'nin'?"
a play in One Act
by thegrowlingwolf
(posing as The Fly on the Wall)

Our action begins--it's the White House dining room. Our main character, who we'll call Mr. President, is readying himself to go to another room in this big white house and sign into being what he's proudly already referred to as his crowning moment in US history. Why, he's going to dedicate it to the memory of his mother who he says fought the insurance companies tooth and nail as she lay dying.

But first we set this scene by flashing back to a speech Mr. President gave at a press conference yesterday in which he announced the passage of the bill.

[the White House Rose is a little past noon; the sky is dreary; the roses haven't yet bloomed...]

Mr President [looking dapper in his Van Heusen dress shirt, the common man's dress shirt, with his sleeves rolled up to the legitimate level--high on his naked wrists--he is not wearing a wristwatch--he is in control of his time--and he sports a pair of Docker's custom-tailored slacks tailored for our president by a blind Chinese 4-year-old tailor in Shanghai (jokingly considered an American city in the back rooms and bathrooms of Congress)]: my time this moment is a compleat moment for me. This is a crowning moment in my life and I think in US history. This is a moment that is the fulfillment of a promise I made...a solemn promise...I made the American people in a glowing brilliant speech on the subject I made before a crowd of average Bills and Barbaras in the great state of Indiana, southern Indiana, not that evil northern Indiana, like Gary. Being from Chicago, the South Side of Chicago, we knew when you had to go to Gary to get a job you were low, man. You know what low is? It's commutin' to Gary from Chicago in order to work...uhhhhmphhhh...I'm sorry.... [he looks confused; one of his assistants, his Secretary of Embarrassing Moments, runs over to him with a bottle of Tigerade...he takes a long swig]...Wow, I mean, this is my moment...I apologize if I'm sort of jerked out of sync here...but anyway, like I told those good southern Indiana folks, I'm gonna make damn sure, very damn sure, that I'm gonna deliver to you average jokers the best damn national healthcare package this country's ever seen--Praise the Reverend Jeremy Wright [Reference to a living person in this play is purely coincidental]--or may my mother rise from the grave and slap me silly. And what I told those folks in that little burg of Indianapolis (in an aside to his aide: "Is that where we were? Is that southern Indiana? Really? I used to ride through there on the bus but...."), yes, Indianapolis. And today, ladies and gentlemen of the press and of the enormously prejudiced and bickering and dividing members of Congress, and all you damn "Medicare for all" terrorists out there, you "Public Option Communist-leaners," and especially to my, my pals from the Big Pharmas over there--how y'all? And, hey, there's my brothers and sisters from our thriving healthcare insurance industry--big bonuses this year, right my brothers and sisters--thanks to who? Thanks to WHO? Let's hear it: THANKS TO ME, MR. PRESIDENT, that's who. As our great president and one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan, said, "Yes we can fly from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo, Japan, in three and one-half hours" and so I say to you today--you in southern Indiana and of course, the rest of you Americans, too. (In another aside to another of his aides: "I'm just structuring my speech to include as many rightwing nutjob references as I can make.") And today I'm sayin', yes we can glorify in the fact that I have kept alive, in fact I have given a big boost to, our glorious pay-or-die type of national healthcare--what a bane for you folks who have already pulled yourselves up by your bootstraps and have enough of our always-available Treasury bucks coming in to afford the best damn high-priced medical care in the world, even though in terms of national healthcare we're 27th in the world--but, hey, look at it this way, we're ahead of Slovenia. And while I'm on the subject, how about a big round of applause for my man, Gimmy Teithner, our glorious Secretary of the Big Giveaway! Don't worry, boys, Gimmy's got another windfall bailout comin' your way.... [He pauses to let the laughter subside.] But let me get serious now. I'm here to proudly announce, humbly, with my hat in my hand...(he pauses after some boos are heard in the attendance)...hey, I jive. And I can jive, you, I can play the Dozens. Any of you wanna play the Dozens with me? But anyway, I'm proud to announce I got most of my Dumbocrat comrades, including that hayseed Minnesota dude, what's his name, Stupid Who?...Stupak? I got most of them, and I wanna give a big hug and kiss to Nancy Girl Pelosi for covering my female-side ass in this mess, for standing up like a man to these single-payer Red-leaning.... (He's stopped by another of his aides, it's Paris Hillary Hilton his Secretary of State Apologies and Defenses of Israel. "Mr. President, I'd suggest you refer to these homegrown terrorists as 'Socialists,' sir, and not Reds or Commies...may I remind you how much we owe the Chinese COMMIES." "I get your point," Mr. President replies.) Ladies and gentleman, my Secretary of State Apologies and Defenses of Israel has just reminded me of how much damn money we owe the glorious People's Republic of China, or who we today simply refer to as the Big C, the real China....

[The scene shifts back to the White House dining room. Sitting around the dining room table* are: Bill "Big Bucks" Boozer, the chairman of the board of Fizzer Farmaceuticals; Glen "Two Yachts" Shiftlesson, the chairman of the board of the United Healthcare Conspiracy, Inc. of the US and the Cayman Islands; Pierce Lincoln Moses, chairman and CEO of ProfitMotive Healthcare of America and the Cayman Islands; Bobby Joe "Prior Condition" Halliburton, Jr., chairman and CEO of Halliburton Healthcare Management Corp. of Dubai and the Cayman Islands, with a one-man office in Ardmore, Oklahoma; and Mr. President's Secretary of Pay-or-Die Health and No Welfare, Dr. Julia Child Saint Elsewhere.

* The White House dining room table: goes back to Sears-Roebuck on the 6th--[Mr. Ed: that's the playwright's joke he's been saving since he learned it in junior high]--BUT, it actually goes back to Miss Dolly Madison's time in the White (Man's) House--when Mr. President's black relatives were slaving like dogs waiting on the charming Miss Dolly and President Madison's every waking moment--their main mammy even suckling the Madison kids while Miss Dolly saved her breasts for entertaining her many, many guests--party time at the White House in those days!

Mr. President [Sitting at the far end of this long elegant dining table, he's wearing a blue business suit (made for him by a 2 1/2-year-old Muslim tailor in his old country of Indonesia). He appears to be fretting]: Damn, you folks, know you forced my back against the wall on this jive ass national healthcare BS. Jesus Christ, for almost a year. I mean, Bill, I gave you Big Pharma contributors to my campaign plenty of leeway in raising the hell out of what you now charge our old fogies for your already-overpriced drugs--plus, dammit, I've barred generic drugs, which could reduce drug costs under G.W. Bush's Medicare Plan D hoist of the cost of drugs to our old worthless and worn-out seniors--they are a drain on our economy, I know that--also I'm not letting cheaper drugs come in from Canada--so, believe you me, I appreciate those big bucks you shoved my way in beating Slick Willie's wife, but I mean we're raising the cost of drugs to our old folks on Medicare--raising the cost of life-saving drugs. How the hell is that reforming anything--except your bank accounts? But, I know, politics, Huey Newton said, it's all politics even our national healthcare reform.

Bill "Big Bucks" Boozer: Come on, Bad Rock, you can't get sentimental and be president of the USA. This is Capitalism you're saving, Mr. President. You hear me? It's Capitalism you're saving. We Big Pharma's have the money 'cause we set the prices in Davros every year. Hey, you know what it cost us to make say one of our arthritis pills that doesn't really work? It costs 3 cents a pill to make 'em but by the time you add in profits--we've got our shareholders to satisfy--like Warren Buffett and Billy and Melinda Gates, those Fortune 500 1 percenters who own us all, even me--why, hell, I only made 20 million last year. Billy Boy Gates makes that in the time it takes him to satisfy Melinda on the billiards table....

[There's booming laughter all around the table on that last crack by Bill Boozer.]

Mr. President: Boys, let's be men about blue humor, please. The First Lady may be snooping around back there in the kitchen. [Another round of laughter circles the table.]

Bobby Joe Halliburton, Jr.: Now, Mr. President, I gotta say this, we at Halliburton don't give a good god-damn what happens to the American people--we say the sicker they get the richer we get--and how about this, the older the coots the more we wish 'em dead? Get rid of the old people and you've gotten rid of the biggest part of the problem. By the way, Mr. President, on behalf of my relatives at Halliburton, now International, baby, no longer that hick company from Oklahoma, we be in Dubai now, baby, so on behalf of my relatives and all the operatives and big bonus-baby CEOs and vice presidents we've promoted due to the record-making profits we've bilked the US government out of--Whoooooo, dogies! And now with this healthcare ruse--man, there's nothing know, we're going into the funeral home business--you see the connection? We're gonna make billions off the people who are gonna die because they can't afford our outrageously expensive but oh-so profitable pay-or-die traditional way of providing national healthcare--not keepin' 'em alive is the profitable way to deal with seniors. And, me personally, I think that deserves a big Yee-HAW! from you brothers under the flag of the Global Marketplace....

Pierce Lincoln Moses: Brother Halliburton, and, oh yeah, Mr. President, too, could I lead you all in the Global Marketplace Pledge of Allegiance? [A big roar of "Yes" goes up around the table. Mr. President has seemingly lost control of the meeting.] Let's ever-body stand and put your hands over your wallets and repeat after me: "I do hereby pledge my allegiance not to any nation or national government but to the Globe, the world, to the brotherhood of 1 percenters who rule the whole big god-damn world! WE OWN THE WORLD! India this year got its first ever billionaires! We're on our way to conquering the Asian markets through selling them automobiles and cigarettes and Budweiser beer--those Chinks love Budweiser beer, baby, let me tell you."

Mr. President: Yo, dudes, who the hell is Mr. President here?

The Guests in Unison: We are, Sir! [Then quickly Bobby Joe Halliburton stands and says, "Jest teasin', Mr. President, of course you are the finest Mr. President our money can buy."]

Mr. President: Thanks Bobby Joe. And thanks you guys for the levity we needed to break the ice here. But anyway, I'm fixing to go out there and in the name of my finest hour so far and sign into being my, did you hear ME, MY, national healthcare reform package--I've given you bastards everything you want--I prevented those Single-Payor nuts to turn this thing into a Socialist document--god knows being Black is bad enough but being a Black Socialist--oh my God--.

Dr. Julia Child Saint Elsewhere: Mr. President, out of curiosity, were any of your relatives ever slaves?
--------------------------------------------The Curtain Descends-----------------------------------------


for The Daily Growler Literary Journal
Criticism of the above play from the The Daily Growler's own venerable old journalist wit and sagging sage, Walter Crackpot (from his yacht anchored somewhere off the Outer Banks):
I'm disappointed. I expected a more searing satire than the rather silly result. Sorry, Wolf Man, but a playwright you ain't.
Great American Playwrights?
So You Say You Want to Be a Playwright?
Well, here ya go:

From Chapter 4 or Playwriting 101:

Story Development

Writing off the top of our head sometimes is great to capture a fleeting idea. But real planning and preparation work can save the writer a lot of frustration and backpedaling at a later date. Outlining and breaking down the dramatic elements of a story are well worth the effort. By playing contrasts and conflict to maximum effect the playwright can stir the primal in us.

There are so many ways to approach an idea. And the actual activity of logging in the possibilities is not a pleasant task. But having an easy and systematic method to catalog ideas, dialogue, and other snippets is like having an assistant available at all time to do your bidding. In recent years software developers have created products to simplify this process; some are for outlining/brainstorming and others specifically organize dramatic elements under a theoretical umbrella.

Question: Is using software to write a play really writing a play? OK, we $500 for some software that will help you write the perfect play and the result might sell--in Terre Haute maybe. Why can't we program a Shakespearean 40X Playwriting software where you just type in a theme and it writes your play as though Shakespear were writing it. Or maybe it could be possible to put many styles of playwriting into a Staged Playfection software--say you wanted to write a play like Samuel Beckett. Software that writes like Beckett! Or how about PinterText...or Mamet Manuscripting?
for The Daily Growler

No comments: