Monday, August 7, 2017

Territorial: Two Short PRESTO Plays (partial)

Two Short PRESTO Plays
By Alan Haehnel

Production Note:   PRESTO stands for “Pre-arranged Sudden Theater Opportunity.”   I call these PRESTO plays because they are designed to be rehearsed and ready for performance in a very short time.  

Play 1: What I Say, When I Say It
(A single pool of light shines on Sarah, who sits on a high stool with an open book on a stand in front of her.  She is on a platform upstage center.)

Sarah:  This is an odd play.  If you are in the mood for a typical play in which the actors have memorized lines and carefully choreographed movements and meticulously crafted costumes and so on, I suggest you do one of two things:  exit now--quietly, with as little fanfare as possible--or shift your mood from one that anticipates a typical play to one that anticipates an odd play, which, as I mentioned, this is.  Thank you.  I will give you 10 seconds to either exit or shift.  Of course, if you have already come mentally prepared for an odd play, you need do nothing during the following ten seconds but contemplate your superiority.  The exiting or shifting period will begin now.  (She pauses for 10 seconds.)  We shall proceed.  A group of five people enters the stage, chattering noisily, and mills about mid-stage right.  

(Sarah snaps her fingers or makes some other similar signal.  The lights shift to a general wash over the full stage.  We see the group of five enter, speaking simultaneously.  The conversation is ad-libbed.  This continues for several seconds.  Sarah snaps her fingers; the lights shift back to her, leaving the group in the dark.  The group of five freezes and silences.  This light change and freeze are the convention for shifting focus between Sarah and the rest of the action.)  

Sarah:  The aforementioned oddness should be becoming clear to you by now.  I am in charge.  The actors appearing in this play do not know their lines; rather, they speak in an extemporaneous manner according to my instructions.  I know my lines because I am reading them from this book, my book, which is entitled The Book of What Will Be.  I am most definitely in charge.  When I speak, the Me light is on, and I am saying what will be.  When the Me light is on, anyone else on the stage is silent and still, a feature of this play with which I am extremely pleased.  

(From the group, Meg sneezes.  Kyle whispers “Gesundheit.”)

Meg:  Thanks.

Sarah:  Ahem!  I am reading from The Book of What Will Be, and I did not read that anyone sneezes, that anyone responds to that sneeze, or that the sneezer thanks the responder for his response.  

Meg: Sorry.  Allergies.

Kyle:  Sorry.  Politeness.

Sarah:  Apologies heard; apologies unaccepted.  Follow the rules!  (pause)  Continuing on.  The babbling resumes.  One of the characters in this group of five--Kirstin by name--cuts through the chatter and reminds the group that they have assembled here to accomplish a particular task, which is to plan an oral presentation for class. Kirstin puts forward her idea for how this presentation should be organized.

(The lights shift, and the action takes place.)

Note:  Kirstin should be more specific than Sarah has been.  In other words, Kirstin should not say something like, “All right, cut the chatter. Remember we need to plan our oral presentation for class.  I have an idea for how we should organize things.”  Rather, she might say something like, “Okay, okay, you guys--enough already about the prom.  We only have two days to put together this project on The Catcher in the Rye.  What I figured was that me and Alan could make a poster showing where Holden has been in the city…” and so on. This is true throughout the play; whenever Sarah gives generalized descriptions of what will take place, the actors provide different wording and greater specificity.

Another Note:  From here on out, the direction “shift” indicates when the lights should change from Sarah to the full stage, the action should take place, and then the lights should go back to just Sarah.  The pace should be quick.  

Sarah:  Alan objects, questioning Kirstin’s authority over the group, to which Kirstin refers to her past accomplishments as proof of her worthiness.  

An argument ensues during which everyone in the group takes a side either for or against Kirstin.  The argument proceeds for eight seconds until Bella, who has been trying to calm the group, throws a small but effective tantrum  reminding everyone of the short amount of time they have and their need to stop squabbling.  After a brief pause to take in Bella’s outburst, Kyle, who has never seen Bella do such a thing and is a bit frightened by her behavior, suggests that everyone sit down.  The group members comply and sit quietly for a moment.  

Meg sneezes and says, “Allergies.”  

Members of the group bless her in both English and German.  


Meg thanks them in just English.


A second group of five people enters, much like the first group did, and occupies the space mid-stage center.  They, too, enter in a chattering fashion.  


Skyler quiets the group and reminds them that the reason they have gathered is to plan out the activities their club is going to do during the coming year.  He suggests that each member of the club put forward one idea he or she would like to see happen.  Everyone participates except Justin.  


Everyone stares at Justin expectantly, waiting for him to make his suggestion.  Justin says, “What?”


Skyler reminds Justin of his duty, to provide an idea of one thing he would like to see happen in the club during the following year.  Justin goes on for a full 45 seconds talking about why he could not come up with any ideas.


Justin continues to provide excuses for his non-participation, sounding as if he could go on for another 45 seconds or more, when Melissa yells for him to stop already and just say something productive.


Justin complains that Melissa’s outburst actually made him less able to think of an idea than ever before, and everyone makes a brief but exasperated reply.  Justin, sensing he is losing his audience, blurts out an idea so blatantly ridiculous that the rest of the group members seem to be on the verge of causing him bodily harm.  


A third group of five enters silently, looking quite despondent.  They slump to the floor, occupying the only logical place on the stage for them to occupy at this point--mid-stage left.  You, the audience, are left to wonder for several seconds what their story is, why they are so depressed and silent.  All you will get for your wondering are several sighs and an occasional sniffle from the members of this third group. Nothing more.  


After five more uncomfortable seconds of silence, sighs and sniffles, Jen will speak, revealing the nature of the loss she and her cohorts have suffered.  The loss will be devastating to them but ridiculous to you, eliciting your laughter at their pain, which is a common source of humor.  Anne and Ben, in that order,  will add their dismay to Jen’s, telling of how the turn of events has dashed their hopes for the future.


You will continue to smile and chuckle a bit at that last melodramatic display despite the fact that all of you, at various times in your lives, have been equally histrionic over equally ridiculous things.  This woeful gang will sit wallowing in misery for a couple more seconds before Max, who has been attempting to hold his emotions in check, will pitifully call out for a close relative and need to be comforted by Marie, who does her best though she personally finds Max a bit repugnant.  


And now, having introduced all of the characters, having established their initial situations, I take a moment to turn specifically to you, the audience.  How are you?  If you recall, at the outset of this play, I warned you of its oddness, and I gave you an opportunity…

(Shortly after the last shift, when they are supposed to be silent and frozen, some of the group members have been shifting slightly, occasionally coughing or clearing their throats, even leaning over to whisper to a fellow actor.  Sarah stops abruptly in her speech to the audience and turns her attention to what is happening onstage.)

Hey!  Need I remind you that I am Sarah; I am in charge; and I am reading from the book of what will be?  And neither my book nor I have indicated that you should be fidgeting, fussing, whispering or doing anything other than staying frozen!  You’re fortunate that I’m allowing you to breathe!  
(back to the audience)  

If you recall, at the outset of this play, I warned you of its oddness, and I gave you the opportunity to adjust to that oddness, either through physical removal or mental re-adjustment.  Now, having been fully immersed, so to speak, in this theatrical experience for a good amount of time; having experienced its full effect and having understood the specific definition of odd, some of you, I sense, are wishing you might have another opportunity to physically remove yourselves.  To you I say, forget it.  Others of you are still resistance to the oddness and are hoping this play will eventually become more typical. You have not, in other words, shifted your mood. To that select group, I proffer this message:  Tough luck.  And to the final group, those who shifted their mood or came with the appropriate one from the very inception, I say this: You are my friends, and I love you.  Don’t ask for anything from me, but I love you.  Now I shall return to my role as prophet and controller of those below me, both physically and intellectually.  Kyle of the first group will stand and clear his throat significantly to draw attention to himself, a move which will prove successful as evidenced by everyone onstage turning to pay attention to him.  


Kyle, using far many more words and non-words than necessary because he doesn’t want to be overbearing, eventually makes the point that his group has permission to be on the stage at this time, and he has a form from the office to prove it.  He produces said form from his pocket. The form will be blue.  


Kim of the second, center group will stand and make a speech similar to Kyle’s, but she will use even more words and non-words as a means of sarcastically mocking Kyle.  At the end of her speech, she will produce a form identical to Kyle’s.  


Ben of the third group will stand, pull a third blue office form from his pocket, and will say, “Yo.”


After the revelation of the three forms, everyone onstage will have something to say about the situation, and they will proceed to say it quite noisily.  Amanda will produce a loud, noise-making device.  She will make a loud noise with it, thus quieting the crowd.  Amanda will explain why she carries this loud, noise-making device, and then she will tell everyone she is aware of the workings of the office and how those employed there would allow for such a mistake to happen.  


Anne will rise to suggest that perhaps they can all cooperate and coexist in the space together.  This comment elicits general agreement from everyone, so they huddle into their three separate groups and continue with their business.  Over a minute’s time, however, the volume level increases as do the number of annoyed looks exchanged between the various groups until Meg stands, produces a second noise-making device even louder than Amanda’s, and uses it for its designated purpose.  


Meg explains why she has the noise-making device and tells everyone that she not only has allergies, but she also can’t stand confusion.  She implores everyone to lower their voices as they work.  Again, general agreement.  Again, an attempt to co-habitat.  Again, after a brief time, the volume level rises.


Marie produces a final, loudest-of-them-all noise-making device, which she employs, which elicits screaming, gasping, and ducking for cover.  Marie explains her reason for having the device, then proceeds to posit that the three groups working simultaneously in the same space is just not going to work.  The nods and murmurs of the people on stage indicate general agreement with this statement.  


Kirstin rises, insincerely apologizes for what she is about to say and the inconvenience it may cause, and proclaims that her group was here first and therefore should stay while the other should leave.  Kristin’s statement is met with various objections by various people from the other two groups, all spoken simultaneously.


Kim vociferously makes the claim that while the first group may have been there first, she was the first to get permission from the office.  This proclamation sparks chaos and noise louder than we have yet experienced, escalating quickly.  Amanda, Meg and Marie simultaneously let loose with their noise-makers, causing everyone but the noise makers to drop down as if participating in an old-fashioned air raid drill.  Amanda, Meg and Marie smile satisfyingly at one another, then sit with their fallen comrades.


Max stands and gives a long speech about what a shame it is that he and all of classmates can’t figure out a reasonable solution to this problem, particularly given that they are intelligent people.  He urges them to rise above their petty squabbling and work toward a higher purpose.  He proposes that they each choose a representative from their group to present the case for why their group is most deserving of staying while the others leave.  Above all, Max promotes a spirit of comradeship and mutual benefit.  

(Shift.  Max rises, open his mouth to speak, then turns slightly toward Sarah.  He breaks convention by talking directly to her.  Sarah’s light comes on along with the stage light.)

Max:  Wait, what?

Sarah:  What are you doing?  Don’t talk to me!

Max:  But...what am I supposed to say?

Sarah:  I just read what you’re supposed to say, from The Book of What Will Be.

Max:  Yeah, yeah, right, but you threw an awful lot of stuff out there.  

Sarah:  Never mind.  I’ll have someone else do it.

(Bella stands.)

Bella:  I thought you were reading from The Book of What Will Be.

Sarah:  I am.  Stop talking to me!  You’re supposed to be frozen and silent until I tell you not to be frozen and silent!  

Bella:  But if that book is supposed to say what will be, you can’t just switch in the middle of things.  

Sarah:  I can do whatever I want!

Max:  I’m not trying to get out of anything.  I’ll do the speech.  Just give me a quick review again of what I’m supposed to say.

Bella:  I mean, either it’s The Book of What Will Be or it isn’t.  That’s false advertising.  Maybe it’s The Book of What Might Be or The Book of Suggested Possibilities…

Sarah:  All right, enough! Sit down.  Be frozen and silent.  Sit in the dark.  I will review, Max, what you’re supposed to say.  Just this once.  Just this once, people!

Max:  Cool.

(Bella and Max sit.  The stage lights go out, leaving just Sarah illuminated.)

Sarah:  It is not “cool.”  It is highly irregular and annoying.  Now, where was...ah!  Max stands and gives a long speech--make that medium-length--about what a shame it is that he and all of classmates can’t figure out a reasonable solution to this problem, particularly given….  All right, Max, the Sparknotes version:  1.  Tell them they should be smart enough to figure this out.  2.  They should stop acting like children.  3.  They should each choose somebody from the group to present the case for staying.  4.  They should play nice.  

(Shift.  Max stands.  He silently counts on his fingers, trying to review his assignment.)

Max:  What was the fourth one again?

Sarah:  Play nice!  Play nice!  

Jen:  You don’t have to shout.

Sarah:  You don’t have to unfreeze and speak!  Max, for the love of…

Max:  I got it!  Got it!  I’m all set.

Sarah:  Fabulous.

(Max delivers the long-awaited speech.  It is quite short, using just enough words to complete the assignment.  The lights shift back to Sarah.)

Sarah:  I, the sole individual designated to be in charge--totally in charge--of this presentation, shall now continue to read from The Book of What Will Be.  Certain members of the audience may be questioning whether what has just gone on signals some change in the hierarchy, the order of authority up here.  I, reading from The Book of What Will Be, not the Book of What Might Be or The Book of Possible Outcomes or The Book of What Little Upstarts Might Think Would Be Cool...I, reading from The Book of What Will Be, state emphatically that all that has transpired and all that will transpire occurs under and because of my absolute authority.  Amen.  

Ben:  Hallelujah and Amen.

(Sarah looks up sharply to stifle any further rebellion.)

Sarah:  That, uh...that comment was in the book.  I just happened to miss that sentence.  It says right here that Ben will say, “Hallelujah and Amen.”   And he did.  No loss of control or continuity here.  Reading on.  Melissa rises to be the first to argue for her group’s right to stay.  Her argument is based on the branch of classical rhetoric known as ethos, whereby the speaker tries to convince the audience not so much of the issue at hand but rather of the speaker’s credibility.  Melissa’s tactic is to come across as trustworthy.  


Bella goes next, basing her speech on logos.  Her appeal is based on facts, rationality and systematic reasoning.  


Anne rises last in this sequence of attempts to convince.  Her tactic is to rely solely on the concept of pathos, or appeal to emotion.  She tries to sway everyone by tugging on their heart-strings, by making them feel sorry for her group’s plight.  


Alan then suggests that a vote is called for.  He conducts the vote, asking for all of those in favor of Melissa’s group, then Bella’s, and finally Anne’s.  The vote ends up tied since the group members, predictably enough, vote for their representative.  


Amanda suggests that they try again, with different people speaking for their groups this time.  Amanda makes an impassioned plea for everyone onstage to actually listen to what people have to say and not just let their own self interests cloud their judgments.  Amanda nominates Kim to speak for their group.  Kim, in her attempt to be persuasive, compares her group’s situation to a historical event.


Marie comes up with a hypothetical situation as her means of persuasion, and, finally, Meg references a current event as the basis for her speech.  


Alan rises and begins to get ready to conduct a second vote, but Amanda interrupts and reiterates her plea, more passionately this time, that everyone open up their thinking, search their souls deeply, and be brave enough to go beyond partisanship.  Alan proceeds with the vote.  The results do not change.  


Amanda suddenly says she must change her vote!
This is not the end of the play.  E-mail me at if you’d like to read the rest.  

Play 2:  Spinny Chair Dominion
A Fable
By Alan Haehnel

Production Note:  This script was written with a beat in mind and can be delivered rhythmically.  Avoid being too regular or sing-songy, however, as this quickly gets annoying.  

(Five readers stand upstage on platforms.  They each read from scripts  on stands in front of them.  The area downstage of them is empty at rise.)

All Readers:  You walk into a room.

(As each Reader speaks his/her number, his/her corresponding person--his/her Spinner--enters and takes a spot on the stage.  The Spinners act according to what their Readers dictate.)

Reader 5:  Five.

Reader 4:  Four.  

Reader 3:  Three.

Reader 2:  Two.

(“Boom” brings in Spinner 1.)

All Readers:  Boom.  

Reader 5:  There’s five of you in the place.

Reader 4:  Four not you plus one.  

Reader 3:  Don’t look the others in the face.
They’re strangers.

Reader 2:  Feels a little bit dangerous right now.

Reader 1:  You take a look around,
Check out your surroundings.

Reader 3:  You’re gonna be here for a while.  

Reader 2:  Maybe some windows,
Maybe some books…
Reader 5:  Maybe some refreshments in the corner.

Reader 4:  Wishing you’d gotten here sooner;
The best of the donuts are gone.

Reader 1:  You’re longing for a chocolate one.
Reader 5:  But then…

Readers 1 and 3: But then...  

Readers 2 and 4:  But then…

(An wheeled office chair comes rolling on from the wings.)

Reader 5:  Something just arrived!

All Readers:  A spinny chair!

Reader 4:  You’re one of five staring…

All Readers:  At the spinny chair!

Reader 1:  Should you be a jerk and grab it?

Reader 3:  It’s generally your habit to be polite…

Reader 2:  But good night, people,
It’s come to light
There’s only one…

Reader 5:  Dagnab it,
And you for sure deserve it!

Reader 4:  Plus what is that you hear?

Reader 5:  Footsteps coming near?

Reader 2:  More people about to enter?

Reader 1:  Temperature’s rising amongst the five--

Reader 3:  You can feel it.  

Reader 5:  Wheels turning,

Reader 4:  Stomachs churning,

Reader 3:  Ambitions burning,

Reader 2:  And still that chair is empty.

Reader 1:  And something like an army
Is coming down the hall.

Reader 2:  All you want is your tush
On the cushion of that chair.

Reader 3:  Do you dare be the tyrant to take it?

Reader 4:  But wait!  

(An identical chair to the first one wheels on.)

Reader 5:  Here comes another one!

(A third chair comes in.)

Reader 2:  Here comes another!

(And another.)

Reader 3:  And a fourth just rolled on in!

(And the last, at last.)

Reader 4:  And a fifth has made an appearance!

All Readers:  Hallelujah!  

Reader 1:  Spinny chairs just gliding on in
Like manna arriving from heaven!

(Another person enters.)

Reader 5:  But here comes someone else.
That’s six!

(Another person enters.)

Reader 3:  And seven!  

(Three more people enter.)

Reader 4:  Now eight and nine and ten!

Reader 2:  Population doubled in just mere seconds;
There’s ten in the room.

Reader 5:  The reckoning time has come!

(The original five people--the Spinners--rush to each claim a chair.  They sit, leaving the others standing.)

Reader 1:  You run and you claim your wheels!

All Readers (relieved sigh):  Aaaah!

Reader 2: Feels great!

Reader 4:  You look around at your seated mates
And smile.

Reader 5:  For quite a long while
you swivel back and forth
And smile.

Reader 3:  But what of the others unseated?

Reader 1:  Do they have to stay on their feet?

Reader 5:  How is it that you rate?

Reader 3:  Well…

Reader 4:  You know…

Reader 2:  Well…

Reader 1:  After all…

All Readers:  They were late!

Reader 2:  Plus it seems quite clear,
The ones without the chairs…

Reader 3:  Are pretty much inferior
To you.  

Reader 4:  They certainly were late--
On that point you must be unswerving.

Reader 5:  But they’re also quite undeserving
To boot.   

Reader 2:  But wait just a sec.

Reader 3:  What the heck are you thinking?

Reader 1:  There’s symmetry afoot and apace.  

Reader 5:  Five chairs, five seated, five standing--

Reader 4:  In other words,
five winners, five losers
In the spinny-chair-based race.

All Readers:  The losers should serve the winners!  

Reader 1:  What better way to strengthen the borders
And reinforce the natural order
With everyone knowing their place?  

Reader 3:  That’s that. You snap.  

(All Spinners snap their fingers.)

Reader 4:  They don’t get it.

Reader 2:  They’re standing there like posts.

Reader 5:  How can they not know
What they’re supposed to do?  

Reader 3:  It’s true.  Not only inferior
But grossly incompetent, too.  

Reader 5:  A snap and a signal should do it.

(All Spinners snap their fingers and make a signal to indicate that those standing should get behind the chairs.)

Reader 1:  A snap and a signal
To tell them to get in line.

Reader 4:  And get behind none other than…

All Readers:  You.  

(The standing others--hereafter known as the Servants--do as the Spinners have indicated, one Servant behind each of the five chairs.)  

Reader 2:  There they go at last.

Reader 4:  They’re catching the idea.

Reader 1:  You deserve to sit...

Reader 3:  They’ll serve to push and steer.

(The Spinners signal they want to be pushed forward.  The Servants comply, pushing them downstage a few feet.  The Servants continue to comply with the Spinners’ orders as the script indicates.  During this section, everyone moves in unison.)

Reader 5:  Forward!  

Reader 1:  Let’s go!  

Reader 2:  Nice.  

Reader 4:  Now back to the original spot.  

Reader 5:  Perfect.  

Reader 3:  Once was good.  

Reader 1:  Twice will even be better.  

Reader 4:  But they should be a little faster.

Reader 5:  So go!

Reader 2:  Up…

Reader 3:  Back.  

Reader 4:  That was no disaster.

Reader 3:  No sweat.

Reader 2:  You’re getting used to this.

Reader 1:  What kind of shape are these servants in?

Reader 5:  Let’s see if they can do a decent spin.

(After getting a signal from the Spinners, the Servants spin their Spinners on the chairs.)

Reader 2:  Spin...

Reader 3:  Spin...

Reader 1:  Spin...

Reader 4:  Spin…

All Readers: Whee!

Reader 5:  Look at me!

Reader 2:  Now stop and put it in reverse.

Reader 3:  And whee the other way!

All Readers:  Yay!

Reader 4:  The center of the spinning universe…

Reader 1:  That’s you, like a child at play!

All Readers:  Now halt!

Reader 2:  Whoa, the world is spinning.

Reader 3:  The grin feels more like a groan.  

Reader 4:  Servants, back away from the chair.

Reader 1:  You want to be alone for a minute.

Reader 5:  You contemplate the moment.

Reader 1:  You mentally sniff the air.

Reader 3:  Your derriere is properly ensconced.

Reader 4:  Your servant is behind you.

Reader 5:  What more do you want?

Reader 2:  You look around, unsatisfied.    

Reader 3:  The matter is
four others have your status.

Reader 2:  Patting themselves on the back, no less,
For what you rightfully earned.

Reader 1:  You take a turn and head out from the pack.

(The Servants turn their Spinners at various angles, then spread out away from each other.)

Reader 5:  Those others certainly lack
The qualities you have.  

Reader 4:  You steal a glance around at them.

Reader 3:  My gosh, they’re looking smug.

Reader 2:  Smug and snug as bugs in rugs,
Without a care in their spinny chairs.

Reader 5:  How dare they not recognize
That you alone get top prize?

Reader 4:  You catch their eyes
And see no deference.

Reader 1:  No reference
To the difference
Between you and the rest.
Reader 2:  You signal to your servant
To move you away some more.

Reader 3:  In isolation you contemplate
The others’ ignorance to the truth.

(During this next section, each Spinner is featured.  Each should turn to face the audience and come downstage slightly for their moment.)  

Reader 1:  Clearly you’re better looking.
Your symmetry and fashion sense
Are totally impeccable
while theirs are completely homely,
And frankly just despicable.  

Reader 4:  Clearly you’re that much stronger.
No one with cognition
Can deny your muscular definition
Or skip how ripped you are.  

Reader 2:  Clearly your mind is most keen.
The things you think up
Are totally designed
To blow the average mind
While their ideas won’t even show up
As anything more than a hiccup
On the intellectual scene.  

Reader 5:  Clearly you’re the kindest.
Never mind any other test;
Kitties and children flock to you.
Your abilities and charities
Just mop the floor with the rest.

Reader 3:  Clearly you’re the richest.
A quick look at your portfolio
Would adjust the others’ attitude.
One look and they would say,
“Oh, no!  We’re poor as poor
If we’re compared to this dude!”

Reader 1:  Darn it, you’re superior!

Reader 2:  Darn it, they need to know it!

Reader 5:  Darn it and dang it
And hang it all…

All Readers:  There’s gotta be a way to show it!

Reader 3:  But wait!  

Reader 4:  A thought that flew by
A while ago has just come and re-perched.  

All Readers: A race!  

Reader 5:  What could be a more basic way
To wipe off their smirks than a race?

Reader 1:  Head to head...

Reader 4:  Wheel to wheel…

Reader 2:  Servant to servant…

Reader 3:  And off you’d squeal.

Reader 1:  And yes, you’d be sure to win!

Reader 5:  And when the results were in…

Reader 2:  The sin they would see would be…

Reader 4:  Inevitable.

Reader 3:  Inescapable.

Reader 2:  They would know they’re just not capable.

Reader 3:  In short, they would see.

Reader 4:  They would suffer,
They would snuff out every hope.

Reader 1:  The universe’s joke would dawn on them:
Reader 5:  They simply, just and totally aren’t you.

All Readers:  Boo-hoo. (pause)  Ha!

(All of the Servants bring their Spinners to get in line to start the race.  They line up downstage to upstage.)
Reader 3:  Quickly, you snap to your engine.

Reader 2:  Promptly, you snap into line.

Reader 5:  Snappily and happily...

Reader 4:  Excitedly...

Reader 1:  With unmeasured glee…

Reader 3:  You’re thinking,
This victory is mine!

All Readers:  Go, baby, go, go, go!

(And they’re off--in slow motion.  The straining of the servants and the faces of the spinners should create the sense that the racers are engaged in a high-speed contest.  They proceed around the stage as if on an oval track.)

Reader 2:  The speed is blinding!
Reader 4:  The acceleration intense!

Reader 5:  Immense are the pressures!

Reader 1:  You can feel the tires grinding!

Reader 3:  But oh, the exhilaration!

Reader 2:  The coming annihilation
Of the others
Will make any tension…

All Readers:  Absolutely worth it!

Reader 4:  You’re leaning into the corners.

Reader 5:  You’re easing onto the straights.

Reader 2:  You’re blazing along like a well-tuned song…

Reader 1:  And yes!  You finish first place!

(Servant 1 brings Spinny 1 downstage.  Spinny 1 is exuberant, arms raised in victory.  Behind Servant 1 and Spinny 1, however, the rest of the racers continue around the stage.)

Reader 1:  You knew it!  You knew it!
And now it’s been confirmed!
You’ve firmly established your dominance.
Your confidence, your prominence,
The evidence of your eminence
Is plainly and finally in view!  
Phew!  Congratulations, you!
Now wait a minute.
What is that rolling sound?
Why are they still going ‘round?
Oh, no!
That was only stage one
Of the Tour de Spinny
And Holy Spit, they’ve plowed along
To stage two without you!
You yell to your servant, “Let’s go,
You clod!  You gotta get me back in!
(Spinner 1 frantically waves for Servant 1 to get him back in the race.  They go back to the oval track and resume racing around.)
We’ll keep tearing up the sod
And ripping apart the pavement
Till we win, win, win, win, win!”   
And away you go,
Not afraid of the fray,
Oh no.
Reader 3:  The fight to the finish
Will be long.

Reader 2:  So be it.  

Reader 4:  What won’t be diminished
Is your ambition

Reader 5:  To defeat it.

(Servants 3 and 4 bring Spinners 3 and 4 downstage to face front.  The servants pantomime continuing with the race as their seated charges have a slow-mo physical altercation.)

Reader 3:  “Eat it!” you tell all you others.
“Eat my dust and then some!
I ain’t taking prisoners
And nothing’s held for ransom!”

Reader 4:  “Bam, son!  Take that!” you yell.
“Can’t you tell you don’t belong?”
Get off the track!
Pack it up and scuttle to the back!”

Readers 3 and 4:  Attack!

Reader 3:  You pull and you push
And you ram.

Reader 4:  Kapow, kaboom,

Reader 3:  You’ve made the race into a roller derby!

Reader  4:  You’ll do what it takes and you don’t mean maybe!

Reader 3:  Your motto goes like this:  
“Take it to ‘em hard!”

Reader 4:  Choke hold or eye poke,
smoke ‘em in the thigh bone!

Readers 3 and 4:  No holds barred!

Reader 3:  Mutilate!

Reader 4:  Amputate!

Readers 3 and 4:  You mess with me,
You pay the price--
This is my reputation!

(Servants 3 and 4 bring their Spinners back to re-join the race.)

Reader 2:  Man, you think, this race is long.

Reader 5:  Wow, it’s getting brutal.

Reader 1:  You’re losing track of the laps
You’ve taken.

Reader 2:  And you’re shaken by a futile feeling.

Reader 3:  As much as you love
To push and shove…

Reader 4:  As much as you hate to lose…

Reader 3:  You’re wondering how many layers
You can take
Of bruises piling on bruises.

(Servants 2 and 5 bring Spinners 2 and 5 downstage. As with the previous segment, the effect is that the Spinners and their Servants are still involved in the race as the thoughts go through their heads.)

Reader 2:  Concerning.

Reader 5:  Strange.

Reader 2:  Disconcerting.

This is not the end of the play.  E-mail me at if you’d like to read the rest.