July 12, 2006

A Play A Day #90


The Beeper
The Runner

(A scene suggestive of a city park.  Bench up center.  Maybe some shrubs.  A suggestion of a path curving from stage right to stage left running out along the front edge of the stage.  Beeper sits on bench.  He can be dressed casually, not in rags, although he probably isn’t doing really well for himself.  He seems to be doing nothing, but you get the impression that he always has something going on.  Runner, dressed appropriately, enters from stage right, jogging across the stage. He makes it about halfway…)

Beeper (loudly):  Beep!

(Runner continues, not paying any attention. Lights out quickly, lights up quickly, Beeper has changed position to suggest some time has passed, the runner enters again stage right, he is running laps around the small park, maybe a half-mile loop, and he is a long-distance runner. He gets about halfway across the stage…)

B:  Beep!

(Runner does quick glance over shoulder, continues, lights out, lights up, change of beeper’s position on bench, runner enters stage right, makes it halfway across stage…)

B:  Beep!

(Runner gives slight head shake, glancing at Beeper, continues on, lights out, lights up, etc… Runner makes it halfway across stage, nothing… Runner slows considerably, expecting the beep.  Continues on, as he reaches far stage left, he hears…)

B: (a little louder this time) Beep!!

(Runner is off by now.  Lights out, then up, etc…  Beeper is partially reclined on bench facing stage left, runner, who has seen this from off stage right, very quietly walks on stage and looks at Beeper.  He realizes that walking that quietly will look silly; so about halfway across stage, he starts walking at a normal pace, gets most of the way off stage left…)

B: (slower now)  Beeeeeep!

(Runner shakes head with something akin to both annoyance and amazement, and then he’s off sl.  Lights out, lights up…  Beeper is sitting very tall and straight in center of bench, facing straight ahead, runner enter from up stage right, he very quietly walks as far u.s. of the bench as possible.  Beeper is not fooled.  He waits until Runner is sl, then he mimics Runner’s stealth approach in his word…)

B:  (loud whisper, full of importance)  beep.

(Runner audibly expresses his increasing anger, walks, frustrated, off stage.  Lights down, lights up.  We see Runner hiding as far upstage left as possible, behind a plant or something.  Runner watches as a woman comes jogging in from stage right, makes it off stage left without a ‘beep’ from Beeper, a few seconds pass, a man comes walking past, same path, no ‘beep’, then again, a couple walks past, another jogger, a kid… all pass unmolested by the ‘beep’…. Runner exits quietly, trying to remain unseen…)

B:  (quietly again, sneakiness in his voice)  beep.

(Lights out, then up, Beeper is nowhere to be seen, Runner enters, running this time from stage right, and stops, somewhat in shock at beeper’s absence.  He looks at bench, then approaches it, looking around waiting for Beeper to appear.  He feels like a sneak.  He is next to bench, when he sees a piece of paper on the seat.  He picks it up.  He unfolds it, hoping for some clue to the Beeper’s identity and habits.  Of course, when he opens the paper all the way, he reads it aloud.)

R: (in horror at his own ability to be so easily duped)  Beep.  (He crumbles the paper and throws it as far as he can, he continues his jogging toward stage left, Beeper enters from stage right, he now has a newspaper or hot dog or book or ice cream cone.  He sees Runner leaving…)

B:  (Friendly, as if waving after a departing friend)  Beep!

(Lights out, light up, Beeper is stuffing his face, Runner comes by very stoically, this has to end right?  Beeper gives his usual)

B:  Beep! (but food flies out of his mouth, runner leaves in disgust.)

(Lights out, lights up, Beeper sits… no one comes on stage.  Lights out, lights up, Beeper sits, we hear someone jogging offstage, Beeper looks up excitedly, but no one appears.  Lights out, lights up, Beeper sits, there is a very long pause, Beeper looks around, grave concern on his face, he slowly gets sadder and sadder, eventually hanging his head in despair, with a very dejected)

B: beep…

(Lights out, lights up. Beeper is asleep on bench.  Runner enters; he is in a different outfit.  It is a new day.  Runner sees Beeper, then runs quickly past.  Lights out, lights up, Runner enters again, slows and looks at Beeper, then continues off stage.  Lights out, lights up, Runner enters slowly and stops.  He looks around, then approaches the bench. He is both genuinely concerned and slightly wary of feeling genuinely concerned. He looks down level with Beeper’s face, checks to make sure he’s breathing, having reassured himself, he starts to move away, but kicks one of the bench legs as he leaves. The Beeper’s eyes shoot open; he sits up abruptly, and says in a “Good Morning” fashion)

B: Beep!

(Runner shakes his head and backs away. He doesn’t know why he bothered. He exits. The following sequence repeats three times: Lights out, lights up, Runner passes in front of Beeper, each time Beeeper is in a different position or doing something different, each time he says “Beep” to the Runner, getting more insistent with his beeps each time. The lights go out and up a fourth time, Runner walks purposefully toward Beeper. Beeper stands, looks him straight in the eye and says as if its the final word on the subject)

B: Beep.

R: (gives up, with great pathos and bewilderment) Beep?!?

(Beeper gives a very big smile, a tiny hands-clasped Zen bow to Runner, then a big hug, and he exits)

R: (very slowly moving through several emotional states as his brain works out what exactly has happened; he is confused, thoughful, pondering, then amazed, and then nodding his head in understanding) Beeeeeep.

(Lights fade out as he continues nodding and walking off stage. Pause. Lights up. Runner is on park bench, doing whatever. Another runner jogs in front of the bench. Runner looks up with a face like sunshine.)

R: Beep!

(lights out)


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