October 2, 2006

A Play A Day #172

Empty Chair

Performer 1
Performer 2

Setting: Stage, two chairs, fairly close to each other.

(Performer 1 enters sits in one of the chairs, he is well dressed, holding a nice leather folder, which he opens, and from which he starts to read.)

1: (stiffly, but a nice reading voice nonetheless) If you find yourself alone in this world, like a wallflower at the dance, the lonely one at the party, just put a chair out for someone else. It is your lure, if you are trying to fish; your bouquet, if you are trying to charm; your chocolates, if you are trying to entice; your decoy, if you are trying to shoot for that special someone. You never know what the empty chair will bring. An implied invitation. A key to the soul of a new friend, or maybe more so, a new love. It says "sit"; it says "talk"; it asks "friends?" Even if nothing happens, you've made the effort. Then you get a reputation as someone who will put out the empty chair for anyone; that becomes its own pull. Everyone begins to feel it, even when you don't have an actual chair to put out there. You're more open; the empty chair attracts people to you in more ways than one. It...

(enter Performer 2, a beautiful, well-dressed woman. She walks around as if she's meeting and talking to people at a party, occasionally she peeks at 1, but continues laughing silently with the invisibles)

1: (tries to continue his reading) ....attracts people to you in more ways than one. It... ummm... (distracted by 2) it offers and invitation to others, it also teaches you to become more... uhhh.... (more distraction) open and.... (distracted, entranced) open.... and.... uhhhhh.... the empty chair is... the empty chair.... is... ummmm...

(2 waves good-bye to some invisibles and then sees the chair and sits in it)

1: The empty... uhhh.... chair is... (stage whispering to 2) What are you doing here?

2: Hmmm?

1: (stage whisper) What are you doing here?

2: Well, I just saw you sitting there all alone, and, welllll, I felt kind of bad for you.

1: No, I put the empty chair there for people to sit in it.

2: Well, that's what I'm doing.

1: I know; I can see that, but it's... it's not for you.

2: Oh, someone else was sitting here?

1: No, no, no one, but I was just kind of...

2: Is it okay then?

1: To sit there?

2: Yeah, is this alright?

1: Well, I wasn't to the right part.

2: What part?

1: In my monologue; I wasn't to the part where anyone sits in it yet.

2: In this chair?

1: Yeah, I wasn't at the right part yet.

2: In a monologue?

1: Yeah, my monologue. (holds up the folder)

2: Ohhh, I saw you reading that. Are you rehearsing for something?

1: No... well..... no, not really. I'm actually, ummmm.... I'm performing a one-man one act called "The Empty Chair".

2: Really? Is that a Stoppard play?

1: No. No. I... I ... it's mine. I wrote it.

2: Really? That's great; I admire people who can write well.

1: Thanks, but...anyway... I'm performing it, and...

2: Where?

1: Where? I'm.... uhhh... performing it here.

2: Really? Here? Wow!

1: Yeah, right here.

2: Seems like a nice place to do a play.

1: Yeah, it is...

2: When's the performance?

1: Ummm... right now.

2: Really? Neat! Can I watch?

1: No ... I mean... yes, of course, but...

2: So, you're just starting it?

1: No... I.... uhhhh...

2: Where's the stage exactly? I mean, where should I sit?

1: Uhhh... you're on the... the... the stage.

2: Ohh! Wow! Intimate theater, huh?

1: Yeah... I like that; it helps you connect to the... uhhh...

2: Audience?

1: Yes... the audience.

2: So, you're starting right now?

1: Yeah... I mean, no... I already started it.

2: Oh, cool...

1: So...

2: Ohhhhhh.... wait a sec... Am I interrupting your play?

1: Well... yes... it's about an empty chair as an invitation to others.

2: Ohhh... okay... yeah, I get that... like the empty chair is a symbol of the unfulfilled half of your self, and you're the seeker of that half; because you've spent your whole life half-lived, walking in circles, waiting for the other half on which to lean, to grow, to drift into the bliss of mature love and the peace of understanding? Interweaving your half with another half? Taking two halves and making two wholes? Like that?

1: (looking at his text, with a little bit of shame) Yeah... uhhh... yeah... something like that.

2: That's sounds very interesting.

1: Yeah... so... could... ummm... you know? Could you leave now?

2: Oh! Right... sorry. (she gets up, looks around) Ummmm... hey... where should I sit then?

1: (indicating audience) Out there.

2: (looks into lights for first time) Ohh! Hey! Looks like there are plenty of empty chairs out there. (walking into audience) Thanks! Nice to meet you.

1: (sits for awhile, then picks up the folder, tries to find his spot) .... more open... (running his finger through the text, looking for where he left off) Ah. The empty chair is opportunity, and you should never let any opportunity pass. It will probably come to you when you're not ready. Never let its unexpected arrival make you pull away, to hide in.... your.... prepared text, (slowing down, getting more and more morose as the realization hits him right in the face) when... so much.... more...... could be done.... in the.... in the.... moment..... just ..... being (long pause, he drops the folder on the stage and puts his head in his hands) yourself.

(lights out)


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