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Days of Post Racial America - A Play

Current

Days of Post Racial America - A Play

Guest Contributor

Morgan McGuire is an actress and playwright based in Brooklyn, NY. She normally writes quippy romantic comedies or sad family drama's about sad societal issues. She's never written an allegory and she is happy to experiment and jump out of her comfort zone with The Curiosituer this month. You can see her full length play The Red Room this July in New York at the TBG Theatre. For more information visit: www.theshelternyc.org 

She has graciously written Days of Post Racial America - A Play, exclusively for The New Intelligentsia Issue. 

 

Days of Post Racial America

A Play

By, Morgan McGuire

 

The Announcer’s voice comes through the darkness:

The Announcer/Director

When we last left our lovers and “Days of Post Racial America”, Wisteria was fighting the scourge of Necrotizing Fasciitis. Handsome british Doctor Forrestman had been forced to remove not one, but both her legs (dramatic pause). Doctor Forrestman has found the necrotizing fasciitis has moved to her small intestine and given Wisteria two weeks to live (dramatic pause). Jackson is beside himself and has run to be at her bedside, but will she take him back? 

Lights up on a sound stage. A pool of light and a lone hospital bed. In it sits a black woman.  She is not well. This is clear. We hear the whirl and beeping of hospital machinery. A white man enters with flowers. 

 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Flowers? 

Jackson/Josh

Wisteria

Wisteria/Jennifer

That’s cheap. Visiting hours are over. 

Jackson/Josh

I’ve got ten minutes. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

You can’t let me die in peace. Can you? 

Jackson/Josh

You’re not dying right now. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

No. Not this exact moment. But apparently in two weeks or so. So can you—

Jackson/Josh

Can you just take the damn flowers? 

Wisteria/Jennifer

No. 

Jackson/Josh

I didn’t come here to fight. I came here to—

Wisteria/Jennifer

I don’t want your cheap flowers. 

Jackson/Josh

Just take the fucking flowers—

Wisteria/Jennifer

I do not want your flowers—

Jackson/Josh

I thought dying people were supposed to suddenly have a grip on what matters? I thought you were suddenly supposed to not hold grudges. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Jackson, this is not a grudge. Now go. I don’t have time—

Jackson/Josh

We’ve got ten minutes and the rest of your life. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

No. You do not have ten minutes with me. You have ten minutes. I have ten minutes, but together we do not have anything. And since I do not actually have a whole lot of ten minute increments left in my life I do not want to waste them with you. 

Jackson/Josh

Just take the flowers. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

No. 

Jackson/Josh

Why? 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Because. They’re cheap. 

Jackson/Josh

I flew it in from—

Wisteria/Jennifer

My name. You bought Wisteria because it’s my name. And like most things you have no idea what they mean. 

Jackson/Josh

Why is it so offensive that I bought you the flower you’re named after? 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Jackson/Josh, that’s not what is offensive and you know it. Now can you please go? 

Jackson/Josh

Wisteria—

Wisteria/Jennifer

I see that diplomatic overtures will not be working—

Jackson/Josh

I’m only asking for ten minutes—

Wisteria/Jennifer

That I do not want to give you. 

Jackson/Josh

You’re talking to me—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Yes because I cannot get out of this bed because of you— Nurse! Nurse!

Jackson/Josh

Wisteria! Shhh!

Wisteria/Jennifer

No. If you won’t fucking leave I’m calling the fucking nurse and she’s calling security. 

 

The Announcer/Director

Cut. No cursing please Wisteria. If you want the audience on your side you must behave with a bit more decorum.

Nodding in assent. She reaches for the call button hanging on the bed. It is positioned awkwardly. She reaches for it and yet she cannot reach it. From beneath the covers we see two stumps. The rest of her legs are covered in bandages and we see the bandages on her legs covering a fiercely growing necrotizing fasciitis. 

 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Ahhh! 

Jackson/Josh

Let me help you. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

I swear to God if you help me I will—

Jackson/Josh

Please let me help you. 

 

Wisteria/Jennifer tries to move away from Jackson/Josh as he tries to reach over her to get the call button. He falls on her. We hear her shriek and shouted apologies from Jackson/Josh. Wisteria/Jennifer weeps.

 

Jackson/Josh

I’m— I’m so sorry. 

Wisteria/Jennifer weeps and presses her morphine drip. 

 I didn’t mean to—

Wisteria/Jennifer

You never do.

Jackson/Josh

I was trying to help.

Wisteria/Jennifer

You always are.

Jackson/Josh

I should go—

Wisteria/Jennifer

You are such son of a bitch. 

 

The Announcer/Director

Cut. Again, Wisteria/Jennifer the cursing. Now you’ll have to be punished. 

He sends a shock to her bed. It is a small shock. We see her jump at it.

He’s just trying to explain himself. Be less strident or really who is going to want good things for you?

Wisteria/Jennifer

Sure thing. But it’s in the—

The Announcer/Director

    I don’t care. Find a different word or I will have to press the button again. Understood?

Wisteria/Jennifer

Got it.  (looks at Jackson/Josh). Ready?

They resume the scene.

Wisteria/Jennifer

You are such a (searches for a word) toad. 

Jackson/Josh

Please don’t name call. We’re past that.

Wisteria/Jennifer

No. We’re not. You self righteous son of a (she pauses) gun.

 

They both wait for the announcer/director. Nothing. 

 

Jackson/Josh

What? I tried to apologize. I tried to help—

Wisteria/Jennifer

The operative word in there being tried. Were you ever actually helpful or did you ever actually apologize for anything?

The Announcer/Director

Cut. Wisteria, he was actually trying to be helpful. Now if you’re not going to treat him fairly I’m going to have to punish you again. You just didn’t see it as helpful. Let’s take it back?

 

He shocks her. This time with a little more voltage. It hurts. We see her writhe in pain. 

 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Yep. Got it. (to Jackson/Josh) Ready? 

                        He nods.

The operative word there being tried. Did you ever actually apologize?

Jackson/Josh

Well, no because you’re so angry. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Yes! I’m wildly angry. I hate your guts— absolutely hate your guts—

The Announcer/Director

And if you’re so angry why is he going to want to apologize? 

 

Both Jackson/Josh and Wisteria/Jennifer look to the up left corner where they know he is watching. Jackson/Josh is even made uncomfortable by this interjection as Wisteria/Jennifer seems to have been playing by the rules. She waits to be shocked. 

 

I’m sorry I spoke a little out of turn there. But only a little. Please proceed.

Jackson/Josh

And I don’t get that because I didn’t actually—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Pull the trigger? 

Jackson/Josh

Well, yeah.

Wisteria/Jennifer

It was your gun Jackson. Your stupid automatic weapon.

Jackson/Josh

I know that. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Something I begged you to get rid of a million times.

Jackson/Josh

I know. But it was my Grandad’s—

Wisteria/Jennifer

And you wanted to keep your toys.

Jackson/Josh

I didn’t know Calhoun would—

Wisteria/Jennifer

It doesn’t matter what Calhoun— It was your gun. You never should have had it to begin  with—

Jackson/Josh

The necrotizing fasciitis—

Wisteria/Jennifer

I wouldn’t be in here if your friend hadn’t shot me with your fucking grandfathers gun—

The Announcer/ Director

Wisteria/Jennifer! Language!

He shocks her. It hurts. She writhes and twitches. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

FUCKING is in the script there. I swear! CHECK IT!

A moment passes.

The Announcer/Director

Indeed it is. But I’d like to strike it. You’re coming across really angry—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Pretty sure I should be angry. The doctor just told me I’m dying from fucking—

The Announcer/Director

Yes, but Jackson didn’t give you the flesh eating bacteria. And really it was his grandad’s gun so—

Wisteria/Jennifer

So I should just shut up and take the guilt flowers.

The Announcer/Director

I wouldn’t look at them as guilt flowers—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Okay. You’re changing the narrative though—

The Announcer/Director

Yes, but it’s more favorable Wisteria. And we need things to be favorable. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Can we pick it up from fucking grandfather’s gun?

The Announcer/Director

We’re striking that remember.

                        Jennifer presses on. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

I wouldn’t be in here if your friend hadn’t shot me with your (pause) grandfathers gun. And then I wouldn’t have contracted necrotizing fasciitis that has now found its way to my intestine. And I wouldn’t have two weeks to live.

Jackson/Josh

I know that!

Wisteria/Jennifer

Then what are you doing here with stupid WISTERIA!?!?

Jackson/Josh

I didn’t know what else to do. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

So you show up with stupid stupid stupid flowers.

Jackson/Josh

Because I love you—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Enough.

The Announcer/Director

But he loves you—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Enough is in the FUCKING SCRIPT!

The Announcer/Director

(amused)

Cursing again! I should shock you just for that. I know it’s in there, but I’d like to amend it. 

Wisteria/Jennifer

Why?

The Announcer/Director

Because he loves you—

Wisteria/Jennifer

And?

The Announcer/Director

And that’s a nice thing and you should be happy with—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Listen dude bro are you gonna say anything here?

Jackson/Josh

Ummm…

Wisteria/Jennifer

Fucking hell—

The Announcer/Director

Wisteria, we’ve already talked about language. 

               

He shocks her and this time it really hurts. She writhes in pain. We see her pause and then get out of the bed. She removes the sheet that cleverly conceals her actual legs and we see a healthy woman with stage makeup mimicking necrotizing fasciitis covering her thighs. 

 

Wisteria, get back in the bed.

Wisteria/Jennifer

    My name is Jennifer. 

The Announcer/Director

If you don’t—

Wisteria/Jennifer

You’ll shock me? I’m on the floor with Mr. Man so if you shock me you’re shocking stupid mc-stupid silent Sam over here and I have a feeling you won’t do that to the prized pony. 

The Announcer/Director

Get back in the bed—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Eat shit and die. 

Jackson/Josh

Wisteria, maybe—

Wisteria/Jennifer

Asshole, my name is Jennifer. 

Jennifer fully becomes herself dropping all of the trappings of playing wisteria. She will now only appear as Jennifer. 

The Announcer/Director

You are crossing a line. Get back in the bed, now. 

Jackson/Josh

I know Jen, I just… Let’s just finish the scene. 

Jennifer

Yeah, you’re not the one getting shocked. 

Jackson/Josh

Maybe if you did what he asked—

Jennifer

You’re serious aren’t you?

Jackson/Josh

I don’t know. Jen, I just don’t want this to end badly and—

Over the following a large gun begins to loom from where the camera would be. Unaware Jennifer has her back to it. 

Jennifer

Do you know how many times you said fucking during the scene?

Jackson/Josh

I don’t—

Jennifer

Seriously Josh. Do you know how many times?

Josh

No.

Jennifer

You said it three times. And damn once. How many times have you been shocked?

As Josh pleads with a fully realized Jennifer he also drops the trappings of playing Jackson and becomes fully himself. 

Josh

None.

Jennifer

Exactly.

Josh

Jennifer let’s  get back to the scene and we can do this—

Jennifer

    Later?

Josh

    Yes. Later. I think if we do this later we can get further than here on—

Jennifer

When it’s convenient for you? Because this conversation is really inconvenient for you right now so we should just get back to the scene. Because you only want to talk about this when it I convenient for you. Because your convenience and your comfort that’s like paramount. 

Josh

    No. I’m on your side. Let’s just do the scene because—

Jennifer

The scene where your character is completely and totally and utterly at fault because he had an automatic weapon in his home. But I’m supposed to change the narrative and play it like you’re the hero for some unknown reason—

Josh finally seeing the gun. 

Josh

Jennifer stop—

Jennifer

It was a loaded fucking gun. Gonna shock me for that one asshole? 

The loaded gun looming in the background fires a round on Jennifer and miraculously missed Joshua. She falls and writhes on the floor. 

The Announcer/Director

I told you you were crossing a line. 

Josh

Holy shit. Jen.

The Announcer/Director

Joshua, we will have a replacement shortly. Maybe a little fairer or just less mouthy. We’ll be back with you shortly. 

Jennifer

You said fuck three times. It wasn’t even in the script. 

Josh

Can we get some help in here?

Jennifer

You said fuck three times… You could have said something— We didn’t even get to finish the scene. 

Josh

I— Can we get some help in here? Please, someone help us. 

Jennifer

You don’t even know what Wisteria means do you? 

Josh

No—I— Jen—

She whispers in his ear. 

I need some help in here. Please? Someone? Anyone? 

 

No one is coming. Lights fade. 

The announcers voice comes through the darkness. 

 

The Announcer/Director

And those are the days of post racial America. 

                          

End of Play

 

 

 

 

 

 

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