Sunday, August 1, 2021

On Any Given Winter Wednesday Night: First Two Sections

   On Any Given Winter Wednesday Night

A Play

By Alan Haehnel


Production Notes:  

1. As written, this play is performed with 15 actors.  This number is not set in stone.  Directors have my permission to re-assign lines to accommodate whatever cast size works best.  

2. The ensemble varies throughout the play; most scenes have fewer than 15.  The reason for this is simple:  I subtracted the number of named characters in that scene from the overall ensemble.  This way, those playing named characters, the “townspeople,” will be able to exit the stage for costume changes, if desired.  Again, if this convention does not work for a particular director, it can be altered.  

3.  In its entirety, “On Any Given Winter Wednesday Night” is a full-length play, running about 90 minutes.  However, directors should feel free to cut scenes or portions of scenes to get the show to whatever length works best for their needs.    

4.  If you have the talent and inclination, this would be a great show for using projections on a screen over the set.  The names of the various scenes could be displayed at their beginnings, and then photos, pictures and videos could enhance the scenes themselves.  I would just caution that these visuals not be too literal nor too busy.  

5.  A note about punctuation and delivery.  Since this play is written in poetic form, actors might be tempted to pause at the end of each line break.  This tendency will kill the pace of the show.  Unless I have placed punctuation at the end of a line, the actor should not pause.  Moreover, if the line goes from one actor to the next and I have not punctuated the transition, the actors should strive for a pause-less transition.  If I do think there should be a pause between actors, I have included ellipses.  



(Open to an empty stage. The ensemble enters, bringing in boxes of various sizes.  The ensemble members, speaking their lines as they work, unhurriedly but efficiently arrange the boxes into a configuration.  Once the arrangement is set, lights come up within the boxes and shine through windows cut into them to create a picture of a town at night. Throughout the play, the ensemble stands, sits on and moves amidst the boxes.)  

Scene 1: Introduction

1A:  On any given winter Wednesday night,  

1B:  In any given town you might pass through,

!C:  Behind the flashing windows, in the lighted rooms, 

1D:  There dwells…

ALL:   A tribe.  

1E:  On average, across this country,

A tribe of seven hundred fifty-two.

1F:  Circumscribed not by blood

Or political affiliation

1G:  But by virtue of simple habitation

Within established boundaries. 

1H:  A tribe defined by lines

Inscribed upon some map.

ALL:  On any given winter Wednesday night

1I:  We find them. 


1J:  Eagles!

1K,L,M:  Go Eagles!

1N:  Tigers!

1O, 1A, 1B: Eat ‘em up, Tigers!  

1C:  Panthers!

1D,1E,1F:  You got no answer for the Panthers, baby!

1G:  Bulldogs,Vikings, devils, rams and bears

ALL:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...

(Each ensemble member finishes this chant with a different mascot, shouted simultaneously.) 

1H:  Their tribal totems,

The tools of their identity, 

The symbols they shout and wear.

1I:  But here, day over, 

School behind them,

There is no single story

That defines them. 

1J:  That is our task.

1K:  A big ask, 15 of us to represent 750, 

give or take.

1L:  Make no mistake--50 per is a lot.

ALL:  We got it.

1M:  But, in order to fulfill this tall order

1N:  This will be one of those deals 

Where the characters wheel

In various directions.

1O:  We’ll be testing your agility,

Your mental flexibility

1A:  To keep track of the various personalities

We portray up here tonight.

1B:  The very same person might 

Narrate one moment

1C:  Then gyrate around to become

1D:  A character commented upon.

1E:  Brother becomes mother becomes son.

1F:  In other words, pay attention.

1G:  Get past your dismay

That I might play

The part of a boy. 

Other than the plumbing

And appendages,

Maybe there’s more that engenders

Us to each other 

Rather than renders us 

Mutually inscrutable. 

We have to respect

That on various spectrums

We’re all all over the place anyway.

So say I’m a boy,

Or a grandmother,

A narrator-- 

Above, between, 

in the midst,


I am and can be myriad,

And that’s not deranged.

That’s human.


ALL:  Period.

Scene 2:  Private Battles

(The Ensemble re-arranges the set into a new view of “the town” as they speak the first lines of the scene.  This is the convention at the beginning of each named scene.)

2A:  Remember way back a minute ago

We spoke of a tribe

You might drive by 

And wonder about?

2B:  752 strong could shout

They go to the self-same school.

2C:  But once they’re scattered

At the end of the day, 

Who are they?

2D:  Well, one of them is Max Nunez.

He had mono for a month,

Missed a ton of classes

Which he now has to make up.  

2E:  Most of the teachers

Are picking and choosing

Just a few things

For Max to do,

But not old Mrs. McCrady.

MAX:  Man, I hate that lady.

No, for her, for me to get credit,

I have to write, write, write

And then edit

A three-thousand-word essay.

Who even has that much to say?

Especially about this lame quote

She gave me as a topic.    

Talk about rotten.  

Listen to this:  

2F:  “Be kinder than necessary

For everyone you meet

Is fighting some kind of battle.”

MAX:  Rattle that around in your brain

For a while, see if it 

Doesn’t drive you insane.

That’s by James Matthew Barrie,

By the way,

Best known as the author of Peter Pan,

With the pirate and the fairy. 

2G:  “Everyone you meet is fighting

Some kind of”

MAX:  So what?  I’m supposed

To picture everybody marching?  

ALL: Hup, two, three, four!

2H:  Get into line;

Life is a war!

ALL:  Five, six, seven, eight!

2I:  Nobody’s got it

All that great!

ALL:  Nine, ten, eleven, twelve!

MAX:  Speak for yourself, J.M. Barrie!

“Be kinder than necessary.”  Right.

What about McGrady?

She sure wasn’t kind.  

2J:  Max looks out the window,

Peers through the falling

Curtain of snow

Separating him from his next-door

Neighbor, Jim Spaulding.  

Of Jim, Max thinks

MAX:  He’s not fighting any battle!  

Women come to him like cattle

To the slaughter.

I ought to find the cause of his war

And immediately enlist.

2K:  Pissed, Max sits, disconsolate.  


2L:  And what of Jim, whom Max has labeled

A battle-free chick magnet?

He doesn’t look like he’s bragging.

2A:  The way he moves,

It’s like he’s dragging

Some heavy baggage.

JIM:  No way.  No way.  No way, no way, no way!

2B:  No way what?

2C:  No way why?

2D:  No way how and when?

2E:  What’s the cause of your bother, Jim?

JIM:  Women should go with men!

And men with women.

It’s plain as day.  

It’s how I was raised;

It’s what I believe; 

It’s the natural order of things.  

You can’t just fling all that away

‘Cause somebody shouts, 

“It’s a brand-new day!”  

Some things need to stay 

As they are.  

As they were 

As they should be.  

2F:  Who’s he trying to convince?

2G:  If I had to guess

I think Jim’s feeling

Some kind of inner pinch. 

JIM:  No way, no freaking, possible way!

2H:  These “no ways” are certainly 

weighing him down.  

JIM:  So say I see some clown, some dude.

I happen to notice

The smoothness of his skin,

The shape of his eyes,

The symmetry of his physique.

Say his name is Pete.  

I notice, so what?

That doesn’t make me a freak.

But what if I start to feel weak

In his presence?

What if I miss him so much

That I’m crushed 

When he doesn’t sit near me?

No way, is there?

No way, right?

No way, no way, no way

In the world

That I could be,

I should be,

I might be,

I can’t be…


2I:  Oh.  

2J:  So Max was totally wrong about Jim.

2K:  A significant conflict is raging in him.  

2L:  That baggage he’s dragging is big.  

2A:  So Max’s battle is the aftermath of mono,

2B:  And Jim’s is whether he’s homosexual.  

2C:  But that’s only two of the overall tribe.

2D:  Can we decide, with confidence,

That J.M. Barrie spoke true?

2E:  That everyone we can point to…

(The Ensemble members point out at the audience.)

2F:  You,

2G:  You,

2H:  You, 

2I:  You, 

2J:  You, 

2K:  Everyone we might meet--

2L:  Even you in the back,

Nipping from the bottle--

2A:  Is fighting some kind of battle?

2B:  Well, we certainly can’t be scientific.

2C:  It would take too terrifically long

For us to poll and extol

All 752 to tell us the truth.

2D:  So let’s let randomness have its due.  

(to 2E) Give me a number!

2E:  Uh…

2D:  Off the top of your head!

2E:  Um…

2D:  Never mind, time’s up;

Opportunity’s dead!

2E:  Hey!

2D:  Give me a number!

2F:  558! 

2D:  Checking the records

For any given winter Wednesday night...

2G:  558, a great number, 

coordinates with

2H:  One Mary Cecily Dyson.  

2I:  And what is Mary’s crisis?

MARY (on the phone) :  His hat was crazy!

It kept falling off

And his hair was all messy--

He looked like a half rabid cat. 

2J:  Seems happy enough.

2K:  Seems settled and sane.

2L:  Inane conversation, 

But nothing outside of the norm.  

MARY:  Just tell him to take a hike. 

No, I don’t like him!

His brother, on the other hand,

I’d tangle with him

If you gave me the chance.

I’d angle a slow and long little dance.

My mind’s in the gutter?

What about yours?

2A:  Mary Cecily Dyson seems immune

From the every-person battle

Barrie’s quote assumes.   

2B:  So.  Two were besieged;

One was not.

2C:  The saying is caught

In a lie.

2D:  “Be kinder than necessary

For everyone you meet

Is fighting some kind of battle”?

2E, 2F, 2G:  Prattle!

2H:  Ding meets dong,

Ping meets pong,

J.M. Barrie is just plain wrong.

2I:  And now, we move along.

2J:  Umm…

2K:  What?

2J:  “Barrie is just plain wrong.”

I can’t buy that conclusion.

2L  (sarcastic):   Thank you for confessing your confusion.

We’re all uncertain at times. 

2J:  Okay, but this is important.

We haven’t fully sorted this out.  

We’re given the image of Mary,

Laughing on the phone.  

2A:  Yeah, oblivious to any significant struggle.

2B:  Listen to her.

MARY: I swear he was smoking a joint

Right in the back of the classroom!

Everybody could smell it, 

But the whole time Mr. Parnellus

Is lecturing about how misspelling

Will ruin our lives. 

It was hilarious!

2C:  This silliness, if anything,

Is proof that some people

Shouldn’t be treated kindly.

2D:  She needs a harsh dose of reality.  

2J:  She’ll get it.  

Next week she’ll be inconsolable

When she learns 

That her aunt’s cancer

Is unstoppable,

Her death inevitable.  

What’s more, to deepen

The terror, 

It’s hereditary. 


2E:  Well, that’s a heady dose of heaviness.

2J:  J.M. Barrie wasn’t wrong.

Maybe his quote should go,

“Be kinder than necessary

For everyone you meet

Is or was or will be fighting 

Some kind of battle.”

2K:  How ‘bout we vote?

All those in favor of the amended quote,

That what Barrie wrote wasn’t all that he felt,

Say aye!

ALL:  Aye! 

2J:  Thank-you. That pause was justified 

And totally worth it. 

2L:  To be honest, 

I think it was totally bull…

2A:  Shifting our focus now

To another view of the crew

That has been entrusted to us.  

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Quest for Seven Lunkets--A Children's Play: Partial Draft

The Quest for Seven Lunkets
Revised Version
A Children’s Play
By Alan Haehnel

Production Note:  All characters are gender-flexible.  Characters can also be added or subtracted by re-assigning lines.

(Lights up to the fanciful interior of a cave:  stalactites, stalagmites, many natural platforms and small caves-within-the-cave.  Several funnels rise from the floor as well, emitting steam. The cave is multi-hued and lit mysteriously.  There’s a door in one of the walls. Lee enters through it, looking around furtively. Right behind her comes Jordan. The light coming through the door is bright and sterile compared to the light in the cave.  Lee comes further into the cave while Jordan stays peering in from the doorway.)

Lee (whispering):  Stay there. Keep your hand on the door so it doesn’t shut.

Jordan:  What did you say? 

Lee:  Sh! I said keep your hand on the door so it doesn’t…  (Too late. Jordan has let go of the door, and it slams shut.)  Jordan!

Jordan:  What?

Lee:  I told you to keep the door open!

Jordan:  Well, you were whispering.  (turning to the door, which has no handle)  Hey, how do we get out of here?

Lee:  That’s my point!

(Lee pounds on the door a few times.  Jordan follows suit, pounding even more. Eventually, she stops.)

Jordan:  It won’t open.

Lee:  No kidding, Sherlock.  Come on, let’s check this place out.

(Jordan and Lee begin to explore. Occasionally, odd creatures scuttle around, ducking into caves and behind formations.  Lee and Jordan get brief looks at them. They make Jordan especially nervous.)

Jordan:  Are you seeing things running around in here?

Lee:  I’m sure they’re more scared of us than we are of them.

Jordan.  Okay. (Pause.  Another creature appears and disappears.)  How are you so sure of that?

Lee:  Just look around.  Relax.

Jordan:  Okay. Hey, Lee, how do we get out of here?

Lee:  Through the door I told you not to close.

Jordan:  But it’s closed.

Lee:  Uh-huh.  

Jordan: do we get out of here?

Lee:  Nobody told you to follow me.  

(Payton suddenly opens the door and pokes her head in.)

Payton:  Hey!

Jordan:  Aaah!

Payton:  What are you guys doing in here?

Lee:  We’re checking it out.

Jordan (crossing to the door):  Oh, man, that’s great. I’m so glad you opened this door, Payton. Wow.  

(Jordan stands in the doorway.  Payton comes farther into the cave.)

Payton:  What is this place?

Lee:  That’s what I want to know.  

Payton:  No, wait a minute. I don’t care what this place is.  The point is, you’re not supposed to be in here.

Jordan:  It is majorly spooky.

Payton:  The sign on that door said, quote, “Do Not Enter!  Absolutely, Positively No Entrance Allowed! Those Who Enter Here Will Be Sorry!”

Various Voices (saying the final words simultaneously with Payton):  Will be sorry!

(The words “will be sorry” echo.)

Jordan:  That was super-duper majorly spooky.  

Lee:  Jordan, whatever you do…

Jordan (walking away from the door):  What?  

(The door slams shut behind Jordan.)

Lee:  Do not let the door shut.  Why did you do that?

Jordan:  I...I...I...I shouldn’t have done that.  I regret doing that. Now we can’t get out of this super-duper majorly spooky place.

Payton:  Listen, you guys.  I don’t know why you came in here in the first place, but we have got to get out and get back to the rest of the class, asap!

Lee:  Why? So we can go back to that crazy-boring field trip?  With all the paintings of the houses and the sunsets…

Jordan:  And the more houses and the trees…

Lee:  And about a million boring people telling you about the brushstrokes the artists used to make all of the houses and the sunsets…

Jordan:  And the more houses and the trees... 

Payton:  It doesn’t matter if you were bored or not.  We are on a school field trip and the first rule of field trips is “Do not leave the group.”  And you guys left the group! Not only that, you went through a door with a sign on it that said, “Absolutely Do Not Enter!”

Lee:  Hey, at least I have a sense of adventure.

Jordan:  Yeah, me too.

Lee (to Jordan):  I didn’t invite you.

Jordan:  You didn’t not invite me.

Payton:  I don’t care about your sense of adventure.  What I care about is that Ms. Donnelly told me to help keep an eye on you two, and I took that job very seriously, and now all three of us are absent from the group which is totally against the rules!

Lee:  You and your rules.

Payton: Rules keep us safe.

Lee:  Rules keep us bored.

Jordan:  Rules keep us...I got nothing.  

Payton:  We need to get this door open.

Lee:  Don’t bother.  It’s locked.

Jordan:  And there’s no handle on this side.  I practically broke my hand pounding on it.  

Payton:  Well, then, we need to find an alternate exit.  

Lee:  Who says there is one?

Payton:  This is a public space.  They have to have alternate exits.  It’s the law.

Lee:  The museum was a public space.  This...I don’t even know what this place is.

Jordan:  It’s spooky.

Lee:  I like it.

Jordan:  Yeah, me too.  

Payton:  Focus, people, on finding an exit back to the museum.

Jordan (referring to the audience): Hey, maybe they could help us.

Payton:  Who?

Jordan:  Those guys out there.
Lee (to audience):  Oh, hey. I didn’t even see you.  Hi!

Jordan:  I did. I saw them.  Hi!

Payton:  Yes, fine, hello.  I want to say, for the record, that I had nothing to do with them leaving the school group, and I am doing everything in my power to get us back where we belong.

(A booming sound comes from inside one of the formations.  Jordan screams and runs to hide behind an outcropping. Lee and Payton quickly join her.) 

Jordan:  What was that?  

Lee:  I don’t know!

Payton:  What happened to your sense of adventure?

Lee:  I am adventurously hiding behind this rock.

Jordan:  I am scaredly hiding behind this rock.  

(Momo enters, a large and pompous character, followed by Bim, a smaller character carrying and beating on a drum.  Bim’s cadence matches Momo’s slow and self-important walk. Momo takes a stance. Bim stops drumming.)

Momo:  Ahem!

Bim:  Some phlegm!

(Bim drums the stresses of the words he speaks, which rhyme with and mimic the stresses of Momo’s words.  In this case, the pounded beat would be a two-syllable short-long pattern: bum-BUM.) 

Momo:  The intruders who have intruded shall reveal themselves!

Bim:  Pow! 

(One-syllable beat. Lee, Payton and Jordan come out from where they have been hiding.)

Lee: you mean us?

Momo:  Are you the intruders?

Payton:  We...might be.

Momo:  Did you come in through the forbidden door?

Lee:  We...might have.

Momo:  Did you?

Bim:  Kerchoo?

(Two-syllable drum beat.)

Lee:  You mean that door over there?

Momo:  The forbidden door!

Bim:  Those who know the score!

(Five-syllable beat.)

Lee:  Well…

Jordan:  Well…

Payton:   Yes, they did.  They both intruded through that door, the forbidden door.  They are intruders.

Jordan:  So are you!

Payton:  Technically, no.  I am a retriever. 

Lee:  Like a golden retriever?  Go fetch!  

Jordan:  Good one.

Payton:  Hilarious.  The point is…

Momo:  You should leave.

Bim:  Get a sleeve!

(Bim pounds out the three-syllable beat.  Pause. Then Momo and Bim start to walk away, Bim beating the cadence of Momo’s walk, as when they entered.)

Payton:  Wait! Please.  Do you know how to get out of here?

Momo:  Using precisely the same method you used to get in.  The forbidden door.

Jordan:  Right, but, uh, we tried that and it doesn’t seem to want to open for us.  

Lee:  Not that we’re in a big hurry to get back.  

Payton:  We are in a very big hurry to get back.   

Jordan:  Well, I sort of am and sort of not.  I’m not big on going back to all the paintings, but my   cat will miss me if I don’t get home after school.  

Momo:  Indeed.  

Bim:  Such greed!

(Two-syllable beat.)

Jordan:  His name’s Hairball.

Momo:  How original.

Payton:  Anyway, the point is we were not planning on staying.

Momo:  I have certainly heard that before.

Lee:  Before?  Others have been here before?

Momo:  Just as others like you have named their cats “Hairball” and couldn’t possibly imagine anyone else being so clever, others have come through the forbidden door and couldn’t possibly imagine anyone else being so rebellious.

Drummer: The jelly nut!  

(Four-syllable beat.)

Payton:  Again, for the record…

Jordan:  What’s a jelly nut? 

Payton:  For the record…

Lee:  I’m sure they know, Payton, that for the record you were not being rebellious.  You were enforcing the rules like a good little girl.  

Payton:  Precisely.

Jordan:  What’s a jelly nut?

Lee:  What happened to the other people who came here?

Momo:  Too many questions.

Lee:  But…

Momo:  Leaving here is simple.   First, you knock.  

Lee:  Oh, I did that!  I did that a lot!

Momo:  Three times only.

Bim:  Just as lonely! 

(Four-syllable beat.)

Momo:  Like so.  Bim, employ your pounding device.

(Bim pounds on the door three times with his drumstick.)

Momo:  This will summon the Door-keeper.

(The Door-keeper comes out on a platform near and above the door.  She has an enormous mouth for a puppet on one hand. Her other hand is shaped like a large key.  She has no mouth on her face. She speaks and eats using the mouth on her hand. She is very cheerful and excitable.)

Door-keeper:  Hello, hello, hello!  Am I wanted?  

Momo:  The forbidden door is in need of opening.  

Bim:  Slope the ring!

(Three-syllable beat.)

Door-Keeper:  Splendid! Wunderbar!  You’re in need of opening; I am in need of obliging!  What a happy coincidence!  

Momo:  And, of course, you are…

Door-Keeper:  Hungry, hungry, hungry!  I have a baaad case of the yums!  

Momo:  Predictably so.  (Aside to Lee.) While she seems eminently cooperative, nothing less than seven lunkets will get her to do your bidding.  

Door-Keeper:  Might you happen to have a tiny snack?  A tad of a bit of a morsel?  

(The Door-Keeper smacks her lips and makes hungry sounds.  Momo takes out a small bag and hands it to Bim.)

Momo:  Bim, if you would, feed it.  

(Bim pulls a lunket--a small, golden lump--from the bag and tosses it up at the Door-Keeper.)

Door-Keeper:  Just a little something that might…(She grabs the lunket from the air and devours it noisily.)  Oh, very nice. Just the thing. Splendid. But only one? Might you…(Bim sends up another lunket.  She eats this one as well.) Equally satisfying! I am getting very near to my happy place, if only… (In quick succession, Bim tosses a third, fourth, fifth and sixth lunket.  Door-Keeper catches and eats each one ravenously, with brief comments of delight in between. After the sixth, she pauses, mouth wide open. Bim holds the seventh lunket. Pause.)  I think I’m catching the fragrance of more. Pretty please?

Momo:  How many has she eaten?

Lee:  You’re asking me?  I think it wasn’t quite keeping track.  

Momo:  One must keep track!  

Lee:  Payton, did you keep track?

Payton:  I’m not here to count what she eats.

Jordan (to audience):   Did you guys notice how many of those things she ate?  Was it...four?

(Jordan waits to hear the correct answer of six from the audience.  She then reports to Momo.)

Jordan:  Six. She had six junkets.

Momo:  Lunkets.

Jordan:  Right. Lunkets.  Six.

Momo:  Bim, don’t tease.

(Bim tosses the seventh lunket to the Door-Keeper, who ecstatically eats it.)  

Door-Keeper:  Oh, my. Oh, that was scrumptiously delish.  Deliciously scrumped. How about about a thousand more of those!  Keep ‘em coming!  

Momo (to the three Intruders):  Pay attention to my words. (to the Door-Keeper)  
Seven is all you will get, 
seven and not a bit more, 
until you open, 
wide and clear, 
the forbidden door!

Bim:  Underwear in drawer!

(Five-syllable beat.  As the Door-Keeper speaks these next lines, her key hand begins to glow, increasing in brightness over several seconds.)

Door-Keeper:  Well, those seven did land quite nicely.  Nothing like good, fresh lunkets to get the old key hand glowing.  I mean, of course, you’re right. I shouldn’t want any more. Have to stay in shape, after all, but, if, perhaps, you did have a million more I would gladly eat and eat and eat and eat until...oops!  (The key hand reaches maximum intensity and the forbidden door opens.) There you go.  

Jordan:  Nice!

(Jordan, Lee and Payton head to the door.)

Payton:  See, that wasn’t so hard.  (to Momo and Bim) Nice to meet you.

Lee:  Do we have to go back?

Payton:  Yes! 

Jordan:  Hairball will miss me.  (The door slams shut just before the three can exit.)  Hey! That wasn’t kind!

Door-Keeper:  Thanks for the lunkets.  Mega-delectable! Toodle-oo!

(She exits.)

Payton:  Wait! We needed to go through there.

Momo:  Only those whose lunkets were fed to the Doorkeeper may exit the door.  

Payton:  But…

Momo:  Three knocks; seven of your lunkets; one rhyme...and you will be free to return to your Hairball.  

Bim:  Sore catcall.

(Three-syllable beat.)

Lee:  But, do we get lunkets?

Momo:  The old-fashioned way.  You earn them.  

Payton:  How?  

Jordan:  And, by the way, what is a lunket?

Momo:  Rather complicated, actually.   They can best be described as a cross between a couple of things:  a lump of gold, a ticket, and a piece of junk.  

Payton:  Um…

Momo:  Yes?

Payton:  Well, I don’t want to be rude, but you said a lunket was a cross between a couple of things.

Momo:  Yes?

Payton:  And a couple means two, and but then you listed three things.  A lump of gold, a ticket…

Momo and Payton:    And a piece of junk.

Bim:  Greasy punk!

(Three-syllable beat.)

Momo:  So I did.  Hm.  

Lee:  Sorry. Payton is pretty picky.  

Payton:  Hey.

Lee:  You are.

Jordan:  That’s for sure.  

Momo:  No, indeed, it is I who owe the apology for my inaccuracy and slovenly use of language.  You are quite correct. For your astute listening, your intelligence, and your willingness to provide appropriate correction, I award you your first lunket.  In a handy carrying sack, free of charge.  

(Momo takes out a lunket in a small bag and hands it to Payton.)

Payton:  Well, thank-you!

Jordan:  Cool. We got a plunket.

Lee:  Lunket.

Jordan:  Right.  

Momo:  Six to go.

Payton:  I mean, that’s kind of one of my strengths, you know.  I pay attention to little things like that.  

Momo:  Indeed.

Payton:  A lot of people just let them go, but I tend to notice when people use the wrong words.  

Momo:  Hold out your lunket. 

Lee:  Uh-oh.  

Payton:  Excuse me?

Momo:  Hold it out.  In your hand.

Payton:  Is there something…?

(Payton takes the lunket from its bag and holds it out.  Bim snatches it.)

Momo:  I’m taking it back.

Payton:  Hey! 

Bim:  A stacking attack!

(Five-syllable beat.)

Momo:  You earned it for intelligence; you lost it for bragging.  Seven to go. You may keep the bag. Free of charge.  

Lee:  Nice job, show-off.

Payton:  That’s not fair!

Momo:  If you had another lunket, I would take it away for whining. Instead, I shall simply leave.

Jordan:  Wait!

(Momo walks away, Bim beating the cadence as they exit.)

Momo:  Seven to go.  (stops, turns)  I would wish you good luck, but I don’t like to waste my breath.

Bim:  Paste your death!

(Three-syllable beat.  Pause. Momo walks off with Bim on drum accompaniment.)

Payton:  But how do we find…?  

Jordan:  Where do we get…?  

Lee:  Well played, Payton.  

Payton:  Hey, at least I got us one.

Jordan: Hey, at least you lost it for bragging.

Payton:  Whatever.  The point is, we know how to get out of here.  Three things: three knocks on the door. Check.  Seven lunkets. Not-so-check. One rhyme. Check. 

Lee:  Really?

Payton:  What do you mean?

Lee:  You remember the whole thing?

Jordan:  I remember the first word.  Let me think. Actually, no I don’t.

Payton:  Of course I remember. (reciting)
“Seven is all you will get, 
seven and not a bit more, 
until you open…” (struggling to remember)
Something, something... 
“the forbidden door!”

Lee:  “Something, something”?  That’s not going to work.   

Jordan (to audience):   Do you remember? (She gets the answer from the audience:  “wide and clear.”) Yes, yes, that’s it! “Wide and clear”! 

“Until you open, 
Wide and clear,
The forbidden door.”  So: one rhyme. Check.

Jordan (to audience):  You guys may need to help us with that when the time comes, okay? 

Lee:  If the time comes.  

Payton:  When the time comes.  Why do you have to be so negative?

Lee:  Why do you have to be so here?  I was all set to have a great time without you.

Jordan:  Yeah, we were.  We, right, Lee?

(Time comes running from out of a cave, straight at the three Intruders.   They duck and Time jumps over them, then tears off in another direction.)

Time: Zzzzzzooom!

Lee:  Hey! What was that?

(Time comes in again and does the same action--running in with a zzzz sound, jumping over the three, then exiting.)

Time:  Zzzzzzzzowie!

Payton:  Stop that!   

Jordan:  You could hurt somebody, you know!

(And a third time.)

Time:  Zzzzzziddlehoppers!  

Lee:  Stop flying around like that.

(Time comes to a sudden stop.)

Time:  Eeeert!  What did you say?

Lee:  I said you should stop flying around like…

Time:  I flew?  Did I fly?  Was I actually flying?  

Payton:  Not actually, obviously.  

Time:  But she said I was!

Lee:  I just meant you were going very quickly.  

Time:  Of course I was!  I always do. Except when I don’t.  Then I drag. Then I inch along. Then I’m slow as death going uphill in the winter.  

Jordan:  Who are you, anyway?

Time:  Time.  

Lee:  Time?

Time:  Yup.  

Lee:  But why did you almost run us over?  Why were you flying around…?

Time:  Was I really flying?  Was I?

Payton:  Why were you running so quickly and almost crashing into us?

Time:  Oh, that.  I have to do that.  

Lee:  Why?

Time:  Because I’m Time.  And I run. And sometimes I run out on you.  And if you let me run out on you completely, guess what?

Jordan:  What?

Time:  You’re going to be in really big trouble.  

Payton:  Well, how much time do we have?

Time (opening his shirt to reveal a ticking clock):  Um...43 minutes and 22, 21, 20, 19, seconds. 17, 16, 15.  And so on. (getting geared up to run again) Zzzz….

Lee:  But what happens if we…

Payton:  How will we know when…

(Time takes off, runs around once, and goes straight for the three again, who duck.  Time leaps over them.)

Payton:  Now stop that!

Time: Zzzzonkers!

(Time exits.)

Jordan:  Boy, you’ve really got to stay on your toes around here.  

Lee:  Yeah. It’s pretty cool.  

Payton:  Okay, down to business.  We need lunkets. Seven of them, to be exact.  

Lee:  I thought we had one already.  Didn’t we have one, Jordan?

Jordan:  Yeah, but she lost it again.

Lee:  Oh, that’s right.  Payton lost it.

Payton:  Very funny.  Anyway, lunkets.  A mix between a lump of gold, a ticket, and a piece of junk.  So what do we do? Dig for them?  

(Suddenly, a Drick pops up from one of the volcanic-looking funnels in the floor.  It is wearing a lunket around its neck. None of the three sees the Drick.)

Drick 1:  Looking for a lunket?

(Drick 1 ducks back down the funnel.)

Lee:  What?  

Jordan:  Yes, yes, we are looking for a lunket!  

Payton:  Who said that?  Where are you?

(Drick 2 pops up from another volcanic funnel.)

Drick 2:  Over here!

(And back down again.)

Jordan:  I saw them!  

Lee:  We all did.  Whoever they are.  Whatever they are.  

Payton:  Can you tell us how to get a lunket, please?  Or maybe seven of them?

(Dricks 3, 4 and 5 pop up from their funnels and speak simultaneously.)

Dricks 3, 4, 5:  Sure! We’ve got lunkets!

(Down they go.)

Lee:  Great!  

Jordan:  Could you, maybe, uh, share some with us?

(Pause, then all five Dricks pop up.)

Dricks 1-5:  Yup!

(And they’re gone again.)

Payton:  Excellent.  I saw them that time--the lunkets!  You’re wearing them around your necks, aren’t you?

Dricks 1-5 (same action as before):  Yup!

Jordan:  Nice.  

Payton:  So, you’re wearing them, and you’re willing to share them, so all you have to do is come on out and hand them to me, right?

Dricks 1-5 (same action):  Nope!

Lee:  Come on!  

Payton:  How are we supposed to get them?

(For the following segment, each Drick rises up just long enough to say its line, then ducks back down.)

Drick 2:  Nab us!

Drick 5:  Catch us!

Drick 1:  Snag us!

Dricks 3, 4: Grab us!

All Dricks:  Then you can have our lunkets!

(This time, when the five duck back down, we hear a giggling coming from the funnels.)

Lee:  Oh, I get it.  You guys think this is fun, don’t you?

(Same action as the previous segment, only Lee, Payton and Jordan try to catch each Drick as it rises--but they’re too quick.)

Drick 4:  Yup!

Drick 2:  Yes!

Drick 1:  Affirmative!

Drick 5:  You got it!

Drick 3:  Yuperoo!

(All duck down.  More giggling. As Lee speaks, she moves over to the Drick 1 funnel and waits there.  Lee motions for Payton and Jordan to come join her, which they do.)

Lee:  Yeah, you guys remind me of my neighbor’s dog, Wally.  My neighbor doesn’t play with him much, so when I come over, he gets very excited and jumps all over the place.  I bet you guys don’t get many chances to play, do you?  

(During the following segment, the three hover over Drick 1’s tunnel, waiting for it to pop up.)

Drick 2:  Nope!

Drick 5:  Negatory!

Drick 4:  Hardly ever!

Drick 3:  Noperoo!

(The three wait for several seconds.)

Payton: We said, I bet you guys don’t get many chances to play, do you?

Drick 2:  Sometimes we do!

Drick 5:  But hardly ever!

Drick 4:  But today we do!

Drick 3:  With you!  

(The three wait again, looking expectantly down Drick funnel 1.  After a few more seconds, they give up and step away from the funnel.  As soon as they do, Drick 1 pops up.)

Drick 1:  Who would’ve thunk it; I gotta lunket!

(Lee leaps at Drick 1, but it’s gone before she can catch it.  Each Drick pops up again during the next segment, and Lee, Payton and Jordan frantically try to catch them but fail.)

Drick 4:  Over here, over here!

Drick 3:  Oh, close--try me!

Drick 1:  You’re the fastest ones we’ve seen!

Drick 2:  But not fast enough!

Drick 5:  I’ve got a great lunket!  Whoops!

(Pause, then all 5 up and down quickly.)

Dricks 1-5:  Whoops!

Lee: Can’t you guys slow down?

Drick 3:  Sure we can!

Drick 5:  Absolutely!

Payton:  Thank goodness.

Dricks 1, 2, 4:  But we won’t.  

(The three sit in the middle of the funnels, frustrated.)

Payton:  Perfect.  

Jordan:  Everybody around here seems to have trunkets but us.  

Lee:   Lunkets.  

Jordan:  Yeah, those.  

Lee:  It’s just like playing with Wally.  I throw him a ball, and then, instead of bringing it back to me, I have to chase him all over the yard.  I can never catch him; he’s too quick. So, what I have to do…  

(Lee looks around at the Drick funnels, an idea hatching.)

Payton:  What?

(Lee  puts her finger to her lips to signal quiet, then she motions for the others to do as she is doing.  She lies down on her side, pretending to be asleep.)

Jordan:  What are you doing?  Are we taking a nap?

Lee:  Shhh!

Jordan:  But…

(Payton takes Jordan’s arm and gently pulls her down so that all three are lying still, feigning sleep.)

Jordan (whispering):  I don’t get it.

Lee:  You will.  Sh.

(After a long pause, the Dricks pop up.)

Drick 1:  Boop!

Drick 3:  Here I am!

Drick 5:  I’ve got a lovely lunket!

Drick 2:  Come and get it!

(Drick 4 pops up and blows a loud raspberry, then ducks back down.  Pause.)

Drick 3 (sing-song):  We’ve got the lunkets; you should come and get ‘em!

(Drick 3 remains standing and is joined in the taunt by Drick 1.)

Dricks 1, 3:  We’ve got the lunkets; you should come and grab ‘em!

(1 and 3 duck down.  Pause. All 5 stand up and keep singing.  The three continue to pretend to be asleep.  Lee smiles and occasionally looks out at the audience.)

Dricks 1-5:  We’ve got the lunkets; you should come and get ‘em!  We’ve got the lunkets; you should come and grab ‘em! 

 (They keep chanting a couple more times, but their energy trails off as they see that the three aren’t reacting.)

Drick 1:  Hey! Hey, Intruder Kids!

Drick 5:  Do you think they’re dead?

Drick 3:  They might be.

Drick 4:  They sure aren’t much fun.

Drick 2:  They’re more lumps than our lunkets.  

(Drick 3 crawls out of its funnel and walks cautiously toward the “sleeping” trio.)

Drick 1:  Careful--they can be dangerous.

Drick 2:  Don’t let them bite you.

(Drick 3 takes its lunket from around its neck and holds it out as a lure.  It sings, nervously.)

Drick 3:  I’ve got a lunket; you should come and get it.

(Drick 3 jumps back.)

Drick 5:  What happened?

Drick 3: I thought I saw one of them...I think it…

Drick 4:  Aw, nothing happened.  You just got scared.

Drick 3:  I did not!  I just got scared!  I mean…

(As they talk, all of the Dricks come from their funnels and eventually gather around the three.)

Drick 5:  I think they’re duds.

Drick 2:  Yeah. Remember the last one?  We had him running around chasing us for twenty hundred hours.

Drick 4:  That was so much fun.

Drick 1 (regarding the trio):  Did they run out of batteries or something?

Drick 3:  You should touch one.

Drick 4:  I’m not gonna touch one.  You touch one.

Drick 3:  Not me. You do it.

Drick 4 (leaning over Lee):  I think it’s breathing. Do you guys see it breathing?

Drick 5:  Naw. I think that’s just the wind.

Drick 1:  There’s no wind.  What do you mean, the wind?

Drick 5:  There could be a wind.  

(With a shout, Lee suddenly rolls over and grabs for the Dricks’ lunkets. Payton and Jordan follow her lead and do the same.  The Dricks respond with screams and scurry back to their funnels, but not before Lee, Payton and Jordan have each grabbed a lunket.)

Lee:  I got one!

Jordan:  Me too!

Payton:  And I have one!  That’s three lunkets!

(The Dricks pop up and down as before.)

Drick 1:  That was a trick!

Drick 3:  We got fooled.

Drick 4:  It was a pretty good trick.

Drick 2:  It got my lunket!

Drick 5:  They’re tricky intruders!

(All five Dricks hide for a second, then pop out simultaneously to deliver one last resounding raspberry, then they are gone for good.)

Lee:  Well, that’s okay.  You can pbbbbt at us all you want.  We got three lunkets!  

(Momo and Bim enter from a cave up high, Bim providing the usual cadence.)  

Jordan:  Oh, hello again!  

Payton:  Look, we got three of them!

Momo:  Quite a bit better than the average intruders, I must admit.  Four to go.

Bim:  Bored of snow!

(Three-syllable beat.)

Momo:  Your method of capturing the lunkets was noteworthy, as well.  You compared an earlier experience you had with your neighbor’s dog to your experience with the Dricks.  You extrapolated. A very creative methodology.

Bim: Mess of collard greens!

(Five-syllable beat.)

Lee:  Why, thank you.  
(All around the cave, various formations glow and pulse in an array of colors.)

Jordan (admiring the light show):  Whoa! That’s so cool.  

Payton:  What’s going on?

Momo:  The cave is reacting.  This is the heart of the museum, the center of its creativity.  When someone generates growth-producing vibrations such as you did when gathering your lunkets, the heart responds.  

Lee:  We did that?  Holy cow!  

Momo:  I am pleased to hear you express wonder rather than pride.  

Payton:  Maybe we should get another lunket for that?

Momo:  Maybe not.

Bim:  Baby rot!

(Three-syllable beat.)

Jordan: Um, I’ve been wondering.  (referring to Bim) Why does he do that?

Momo:  Do what?

Jordan:  You know, the rhyming with you thing and the drumming thing?

Momo:  Ah, you mean Bim.  Bim is my apprentice.  He is in training to be the next Momo.

Lee::  Momo?

Momo:  The next me.  Every few hundred years, we retire.

Bim:  Three on fire!

(Three-syllable beat.)

Jordan:  Oh. Well, Bim, you’re very good at your rhyming and drumming.  I think you’ll make an excellent next Momo.

(Bim grins and shifts his feet, obviously quite pleased with the compliment.)

Momo:  Indeed.  Well, carry on, then, Intruders.  Four to go.

(Momo and Bim exit.)

Payton:  Wait, wait!  Can’t you tell us where we can get more lunkets?  I think the Dricks are done playing. I just….(Momo and Bim are gone.  From offstage, we hear a tone that gets increasingly high. We also hear the Lunkologists speaking.)  What’s that?  

Lunkologist 1:  It’s getting ready to blow!

Lee:  Who’s that?

Lunkologist 2:  Any second now!  

Jordan:  Hello?

Lunkologist 3:  Everybody take cover!

Payton:  Take cover?  Why? What’s happening?

All Lunkologists:!

(The three Lunkologists jump out from the wings and land on the stage floor, covering up as if anticipating a bomb. The trio crouches down as well.  The tone has reached a very high point, but nothing happens.)

Lunkologist 2:  Well, that’s strange.  

Lunkologist 1:  According to my calculations, it should have gone off six point two seconds ago.

Lee:  What should have?

Lunkologist 3:  Who are you? What are you doing here?  This is a very dangerous…

(Suddenly, a loud explosion goes off.  Confetti and smoke pour from the wings.  The trio and the Lunkologists are knocked to the ground.)

Jordan:  Wow!

Lunkologist 2:  I’ll need to recalibrate my bangometer, I see.

Lunkologist 3:  All right, then, suit up!

(The Lunkologists take off their backpacks and proceed to “suit up” during the following dialogue.  They put on goggles, helmets and elaborate climbing gear.)

Lee:  Excuse me, hello.  My name is Lee.

Payton:  I’m Payton.

Jordan:  Jordan here.

Lunkologist 1:  Well, Lee, that’s fascinating, but we don’t really care.

Lunkologist 2:  Not in the least bit, no.

Payton: Okay.  But what was that explosion?

Lunkologist 3:  Late. By 2.2 seconds.

Lunkologist 2:  I still think the bangometer was off.

Lunkologist 1 (peering through a scope at the ceiling offstage):  Late or not, the vibrations jarred loose a good vein.  

Lunkologist 3:  Excellent!

Lunkologist 2:  Let’s get up there asap!

Payton:  Excuse me?

(Lunkologist 1 struggles to get a piece of his equipment in place.  All of the Lunkologists ignore the trio.)

Lunkologist 3: I’m hoping we get a growth as extensive as the last time.  

Lunkologist 2:  The trends have been good.  Perhaps we can deduce something more about the vibrational patterns this time.

Lunkologist 1:  The data so far has been inconclusive, but…(referring to his equipment) what is the matter with this thing?

Lunkologist 2:  Are we ready?

Lunkologist 3:  No time like the present!

Lunkologist 1:  Just a moment, I…

(Payton crosses to Lunkologist 1 and unravels the problem.)

Payton:  Here. You’re just a little twisted up.

Lunkologist 1:  Careful, that’s very technical equip…  (problem solved) Oh. Well. Thank-you.

Payton:  You’re welcome.  I know you’re in a hurry and very busy, but…

Lunkologist 2:  That is exactly right.  Off we go!

Payton:  But could you answer just two questions?

Lunkologist 3:  Just two?

Payton:  Yes.

Lunkologist 3:  No. We need to go.

Lunkologist 1:  Make it quick, Paypal.

Payton:  It’s actually Payton.

Lunkologist 2:  Payton, Plankton, la, la, la.  Science awaits! Are we Lunkologists or are we tour guides?

Payton:  Okay, really quick:  One, what was the explosion, and two, where are you going?

Lunkologist 1:  The explosion was a geyserspritzer; they go off on a regular basis here, and we monitor them.  We are now about to climb up to the ceiling of the cave, where we will collect the lunkets that were jarred loose by the vibrations of the exploding geyserspritzer.

Lee:  You’re going to get lunkets?  Can we go with you?

Lunkologist 2:  No!

Lunkologist 3:  Are you mad? We are certified Lunkologists, trained in lunket extraction!

Lunkologist 1:  Our job is dangerous and highly technical.  Thank-you for your help, but we have to go.

(The Lunkologists exit.  Payton looks off in the wings where the explosion came from, then up at the ceiling of the opposite wing where the Lunkologists took their exit.  She looks puzzled.) 

Payton:  Huh.  

Jordan:  What’s the matter?

Payton:  Huh.

(The Lunkologists come back in.)

Lunkologist 1:  What was that?

Lunkologist 2:  Out with it.

Lee:  What was what?

Lunkologist 3:  Somebody just “huh-ed.”

Payton:  Oh, well, yes, I guess I did.  I thought you had to go.

Lunkologist 2:  We did. But you can’t audibly and sincerely say “huh” in the presence of scientists and not expect them to ask what you’re “huh”-ing about.  

Lunkologist 3:  “Huh” is the very genesis of science.  But I suspect you knew that.

Payton:  I didn’t, I swear, I was just...thinking about something.

Lunkologist 1:  Spill it!

Payton: Okay, okay.  So, you guys said that geyserspritzer exploded, and that the vibrations from the explosion exposed the lunkets.  So the lunkets were up there all along, but just hidden.  

Lunkologist 3:  As good an explanation as we could expect from someone ignorant of most of the data.

Lunkologist 2:  Incomplete but close enough.

Payton:  Well, it’s just that my first thought, when I saw where the geyserspritzer exploded and where you scientists are going to climb to get the lunkets is that...oh, never mind.

Lunkologist 1:  No, you can’t “never mind” now.  Out with it. Uncover your “huh.”

Jordan:  Yeah, Payton, uncover your “huh.”

Lee:  Is it possible that the lunkets came from the geyserspritzer and that the force of the explosion got them stuck in the ceiling?  

Lunkologist 3:  Ah, I see. You’re hypothesizing that the geyserspritzer is actually a sort of lunket cannon?

Lee:  Yes.

Lunkologist 2:  And that the lunkets actually originate  from within the geyserspritzer?

Lee:  That’s what I was wondering.

Lunkologist 1:  Well.  

Lunkologist 2:  I see.

Lunkologist 3:  Hmmm….

(The three Lunkologists look at one another, then break into uproarious laughter.  They can barely get out their words.)

Lunkologist 2:  A lunket cannon!

Lunkologist 1:  Lunkets occurring within…!

Lunkologist 3:  The most absurd idea in the history of science!

Lee: Okay, okay, I get it!  I was just thinking, that’s all.

Lunkologist 2:  Oh, she was just thinking!

Lunkologist 3:  Just stinking, did you say?

(The Lunkologists roll on the floor from laughter.)

Lee:  You people are so rude.  Just because I don’t have a degree in Lunkerology…

(All three Lunkologists suddenly stop laughing and stare at Lee.)

Lunkologist 2:  The word is Lunkology.

Lunkologist 3:  We all have advanced degrees in Lunkology, not Lunkerology.

Lunkologist 1:  Lunkerologists are an entirely different breed with which we do not associate, thank you very much.

Lunkologist 2:  Indeed. And now, having had our pleasant bit of levity and laughter, we must proceed to our task.

Lunkologist 3:  With all speed and diligence!  Off we go!

(The three adjust their equipment and exit.  Lunkologist 1 re-appears briefly, tracing with his eyes the trajectory from the explosion to the lunkets in the ceiling, then exits again.  Lee looks around disconsolately.)

Lee:  It was just an idea.  Sheesh.  

(Time enters.)

Time: Zzzzzzzzz….

Lee:  Oh, no.

Time:  Zzzzzzzz….

Lee:  You know, you’re like a mosquito, buzzing around like that.

Time:  What’s a mosquito?

Lee:  Oh, you don’t have those in here?  You’re lucky. They’re these annoying little…

Time:  I’m annoying?

Lee:  Kind of.  When you do the zzz thing all the time.  

Time:  What else do mosquitoes do?

Lee:  They bite, and they suck your blood.

Time:  I don’t do that!

Lee:  I know.  I said you’re like one.  Thank goodness you’re not exactly like one.  Those flying little pests.

Time:  Flying?  Mosquitoes fly?  I’m like a mosquito?  I fly like a mosquito?

Lee: Again, you’re not exactly like one.  Why do you want to fly so much?

Time:  Well, it’s like this.  I’ve heard a lot of things about me.  I creep, I crawl, I crunch, I wait for no man, all that.  But the thing I hear most is that I fly! Time flies--have you ever heard that?

Lee:  I’ve probably said it myself.

Time:  See? I just...I want it to be true.  I can creep and crawl and crunch just fine,  Wouldn’t that be the coolest?

Lee:  I see your point.

Time:  Do you think it’s true?

Lee:  Well…

Time:  I know, I know.  It’s not.  

Lee:  I’m sorry.

Time:  Whatever.  (Time starts running around again, finally leaping over Lee.)  Zzzzzzooblyzobblers! You’ve got 23 minutes and 42 seconds left!

(Time exits.)