Welcome Back, America!
Camera Operator (nonspeaking)
Makeup / Wardrobe Assistant (nonspeaking)
Setting: Stage with two comfortable chairs, a small table between the chairs with a large fern on it and two ridiculously large coffee cups, a TV camera trained on both actors: Selena is impeccably dressed and coifed, very professional, but also appealingly casual. Richard is dressed well, waiting to be interviewed. Lights up.
Selena: Welcome back, America! So glad you could join us today! Our next guest has a zen for getting things... wrong (small laugh to herself). Is that fair, Richard?
Richard: (leaning forward) Well...
S: Great! His first published (laugh) book: "A Miserable Failure" details his attempts at publishing his Great American Novel, a twenty-eight year journey that led him around the country, from publisher to publisher, agent to agent, in and out of three marriages, writing to rewriting to rewriting again and again, in and out of hospitals for nervous breakdowns and drug addiction, through four suicide attempts, two convictions for attempted murder, and two more for theft as he stole whatever he could to stay alive. Welcome to Welcome Back, America, Richard!
R: Thank you...
S: We're going to take a short break, and then we will be right back with Richard Sturvante. See you then, America!
(lights change slightly, Camera Operator (CO) makes signal to show that they are off the air. S spends the time shuffling papers, drinking coffee and being primped by a make-up / wardrobe assistant. Richard is surprised by the abruptness of the commercial, but sits patiently waiting. CO looks into camera, holds up a hand above camera and counts down from five on his fingers. S snaps into a graceful, confident posture; Richard attempts to do the same, lights change, CO gives "on air" signal, they are back on the air)
S: Welcome back, America! We are talking with Richard Sturvante, an author who's gaining recognition for being published about being unpublished (small laugh). Is that fair to say, Richard?
S: Great! Richard and I were chatting during the commercial break, and he told me... well, can I tell them this Richard, or do you want to do it?
R: (no clue what she is referring to) Uhhh...
S: Richard told me that he has been a faithful watcher of our show for fifteen years now, and that I'm the best host he's seen! Thanks, Richard! With an attitude like that; we'll be having you back often! (big laugh) Now, seriously, Richard. What got me most about your book was the words! Wow! What great words! Tell me about them, Richard.
R: It... was really...
S: I bet it was! We'll find out more about Richard's words right after these messages. See you then, America!
(lights change slightly, S leaves chair completely at CO's signal that they are off-air, she exits stage, CO leaves in the opposite direction, R sits in awkward silence for quite a while, sips coffee, looks at S's papers surreptitiously, taps fingers. At the last second, CO rushes in and gets behind camera, S sprints in, leaps into her chair just as lights change and CO gives "on air" signal)
S: (looking at R and laughing in a coy, phony way, reaching out as if she just slapped his knee) Ohhh... Welcome back, America! This guy (pointing at R)... what a card! He had me laughing the whole break! I guess you need a sense of humour like yours after all you've been through!
R: Yes, I...
S: Of course, you do! Seriously though, we've been joking around here today, but your book does detail some rather harrowing events in your life. Some truly terrible situations to be in. Tell us about that!
R: Ummm... well there have been so many...
S: Exactly! Wow! We'll continue to hear about more of Richard's trials and travails right after this short commercial break. See you then, America!
(as the previous break, R shows signs of agitation now, alone on stage. He may get up and pace, or take a couple deep breaths)
S: Welcome back, America! Talking today with Richard Sturvante, author of "A Miserable Failure", a published novel about an unpublished novel. Is that fair to say, Richard?
R: A memoir...
S: A powerful memoir it is too! We've discussed the amazing words that you use and the frightful situations you found yourself in as you tried to get your first novel published. What I think everyone at home wants to know, though, is how it felt to pursue your goal for twenty-eight years and ultimately not succeed in it. Wow! It must have been something that you believed in very much.
S: And to have no one pay any attention to a story that you knew was so important, so good, how did that feel?
R: Well, really...
S: Horrible! I bet! Wow! We'll be right back with Richard Sturvante, and I believe he's going to favor us with a reading from his book? Is that right, Richard?
S: See you then, America!
(as before, R is kicking himself, angry now, makes an internal resolution to talk a lot more)
S: Welcome back, America! Our guest today, Richard Sturvante, is making waves with his new book. His first book to be published, but definitely not the first book in his heart. Is that fair to say, Richard?
R: (very quickly) Yes, I really want to get my novel...
S: (cutting him off that much harder) Exactly. Perhaps with the exposure from this memoir, the original novel will now also be published. (with disarming sincerity) So, Richard, here's the part we all waited for: to hear your own beautiful voice reading your own beautiful words.
R: (his anger dissipating at S's perfect compliment) Ummm, yes, I'd like to read from the section that details my first arrest for the attempted murder of my agent after he had stolen my advance money and broken the contract with the only publisher to want to take on my novel. (he awaits S cutting him off, she simply nods enthusiastically for him to continue; R still expects to be cut-off so keeps looking at her, she nods again and signals with her hand for him to go on, R opens his book to the reading section and starts) "When the first police officer bashed into my shabby motel room..."
S: Wow! Ohhh! Such beautiful, beautiful words! Thanks so much for being on the show, Richard! Again the book is called "A Miserable Failure", available anywhere. We'll be right back with Whacky Jack, our favorite crazy auto mechanic who has some new thinking on airbag safety for us all. See you then, America!
(lights change, off-air signal, S leaves, CO leaves. R looks at the camera, throws book off stage, turns the chairs upside down, spits in S's coffee, turns off camera, pulls out car keys from his pocket and scratches the camera lens, then turns it around completely and leaves, lights out)