Category Archives: One-Act Play

HAROLD PINTER: FORGOTTEN SKETCH REDISCOVERED—READ HERE NOW! ·

(Pinter’s short play and Mark Brown’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/24.)

It was part of a 1960 revue at the Nottingham Playhouse called You, Me and the Gatepost, performed for one night only, and then promptly forgotten.

But the sketch, written by a 29-year-old Harold Pinter and lost for more than half a century, has re-emerged as a result of some diligent detective work and is published by the Guardian for the first time and in full.

The sketch, set on the sunbathed terrace of a large hotel and called Umbrellas, is very Pinter, and if there was any doubt who the author was, then the 12 designated pauses are something of a giveaway.

Pinter's widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, said she had been "completely unaware" of the existence of Umbrellas. "It's fun. We've all been quarrelling over acting it in the family. I want to act B, which is the better part, but so far I've only managed to act A, so we're waiting for some really good actors to do it."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/oct/24/harold-pinter-sketch-umbrella

ONE ACT: ‘DANCING WITH JOY’ (A BODONI COUNTY FABLE) BY FRANK GAGLIANO ·

(Frank Gagliano’s DANCING WITH JOY is included in FROM THE BODONI COUNTY SONGBOOK ANTHOLOGY, a 21st Century combination of Our Town, Spoon River, and Jacques Brel on acid.  It was first developed at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s Musical Theatre Conference, then at the Vineyard Theatre’s Musical Workshop in New York, and then, by a Workshop in Pittsburgh.)

 

OVERVIEW

 "DANCING WITH JOY."A BODONI COUNTY FABLE. As told by yours truly, Jonathan Overviewwith the help of Eubie Copocolo, Joy, Old Matilda Trimble and The Bikini Poster Girl. In which Eubie meets Joy and, together, they step into a travel poster, make love on a travel poster beech, and look for Joy’s fabled Island of Despair.

 

(JONATHAN clips on a garish bow tie

as EUBIE, wearing an even more garish bow tie,

enters, riding a small unicycle that is trailing tin cans)

 

Eubie Copocolo always wears a bow tie. And Eubie Copocolo has

the most zits of any 23-year-old that ever lived in Bodoni County. In addition—and Eubie will tell this to anyone who will listen—

 

EUBIE

                            (Untying the tine cans with great difficulty)

I was kind of old before one of my testicles descended. But I took shots for that. And it was just a matter of time before my twin jewel stopped playing hide-and-seek and yo-yoed properly; so I didn't sweat that.

                            (Throws the tin cans off stage)

And I was neat! Inside and out! Always neat. And bow ties seemed the neatest. I went to Bodoni County Junior College for a year.

                            (ENSEMBLE run out  and steal EUBIE's unicycle.

                            EUBIE shrugs)

But nobody there wore a bow tie. So College wasn't for me.

        

                                                        OVERVIEW

What was for Eubie Copocolo?

 

                                                        EUBIE

                            (He walks in circles)

Travel to far off romantic places. Because, in truth, I have a turbulent, romantic soul. Seething.  Full of angst-agony; excessive passion; exotic longings—all that.

                            (Stops walking in circles)

But fat chance I had of realizing my exotic angst-potential in Bodoni County. In Bodoni County I was "that neat nerd"—and in Bodoni County I would always be "that neat nerd."

                            (ENSEMBLE runs out. One kneels

                            behind EUBIE and taps him on the shoulder;

                            the other gets in front of EUBIE and

                            pushes him over the kneeling EMSEMBLE member

                            From the floor, EUBIE shrugs)

 

EUBIE

                            (Continued)

So one day I said to myself: "Eubie, you're waltzing out of this burg."

 

                            (EUBIE rises with great and clumsy difficulty)

 

OVERVIEW

He meant that metaphorically, of course. For when he did try to dance, Eubie resembled an arthritic duck with a double hernia, and an inner ear problem.

        

EUBIE

So I pack, check out of the YMCA—and if you don't think living at the Y isn't a zits enhancer, you don't know our young Christian men! Then I say goodbye to the only person who ever cared for me, Old Matilda Trimble, the head of the orphanage.

                                    

                            (OLD MATILDA TRIMBLE enters.

                            Wearing a bow tie)

She cries a little and says,

 

MATILDA

Oh, Eubie, life sucks!

 

OVERVIEW

Then she straightens her wig, and gives Eubie a new bow tie.

 

MATILDA

Here's a new bow tie; special for my Eubie.

 

                            (OLD MATILDA TRIMBLE removes the bow tie

                            EUBIE is wearing and replaces it with

                            the special bow tie and exits)

 

EUBIE

And it is a big one—neat of course—with red dots!

                            (He walks in circles)

Then I walk all the way down to the Greyhound and buy a one-way ticket to Corning, New York! Because I love glass.

         EUBIE

                            (Continued)                 

                            (Takes out colored marbles from

                            his pocket and plays with them on the floor)

Hear they have the best glass; plan to get a job as a Night Watchman at the Corning Glass Museum; and, for the rest of my life,

                                    

                            (Holds colored marbles to his eye)

I'd look at my world through the prettiest colors!

 

                            (Puts marbles away as

                            the ENSEMBLE run out and become

                             a bus)

 

                                               OVERVIEW

But when Eubie gets right up to the bus—

 

                                               EUBIE

I put a foot up and I can't put it down! On the step!

                            (The bus retreats)

I keep trying!

                            (The bus knocks him backwards)

And falling backwards! And everyone laughs!

                            (The bus become people who

                            laugh at EUBIE without making a sound;

                            and mouth what EUBIE says)

And says stuff like, "Is that a new nerd dance?" And those in the bus get ticky!

                            (Those on the bus get ticky)

Because they want the bus to go!

 

                                               OVERVIEW

And those waiting behind Eubie get even tickier and begin to punch him and kick him and pull at his "special" bow tie!

 

         (They punch him and kick him and pull his "special" bow tie

         —let it snap back hard at his Adams apple)

                                              

                                               EUBIE

So I say, what the hell! I'll hitch out of town. But when I get to the outskirts I still can't leave! Something stops me again,

 

                            (The Bus ENSEMBLE become a wall)

 

Some kind of a wall or something! And I keep throwing myself forward; but I keep bouncing! —Back!  To the Bodoni County line!

 

                            (EUBIE throws himself against the human wall

                            and keeps bouncing off them)

                                              

OVERVIEW

So Eubie gets the message. No escape.

                            (The ENSEMBLE EXIT. FAST!)

Some hidden power does not want Eubie Copocolo to leave Bodoni County. And it's back to old Matilda Trimble,

                            (MATILDA TRIMBLE enters)

who cries, says it is God's will,

 

MATILDA

                            (Through tears)

and God's will often sucks, Eubie.

 

OVERVIEW

Then she straightens out the "special" bow tie she had given him

                            (She does; then EXITS)

and let's him stay in an empty basement room of the orphanage.

 

EUBIE

                            (Fetal position, sucking thumb, ETC.)

What to do?

 

OVERVIEW

Agonizes Eubie.

                            (A member of the ENSEMBLE

                            becomes a newspaper boy, delivers a

                            paper to EUBIE and waits while

                             EUBIE reads)

 

Then he sees this ad that says:

                           

(EUBIE mouths, while OVERVIEW recites)

 "Night watchman wanted. Prestigious building. Featuring The Bodoni County Travel Agency. Perfect for someone who wants 'night's cloak' to hide him."

 

EUBIE

Just the job for me!

                            (Hands the newspaper back

                            to the Newspaper Boy, who quickly EXITS;

                            as EUBIE walks in circles)

So I straightaway apply for the job and get it!

 

OVERVIEW

So Eubie night watches and takes to staring at all the travel posters.

                            (OVERVIEW hands Eubie a flashlight

                            as the LIGHTS GO TO BLACK and  EUBIE

                            switches on the flashlight and pans the audience)

                                              

OVERVIEW

                            (Continued)

And then one night Joy comes into Eubie Copocolo's life. 

 

JOY

You there, sir! With the zits and the bow tie? Kindly let me in.

 

EUBIE

                            (Catching JOY in the light of his flashlight)

She's tapping on the outside window in a friendly and smiley way.

                            (Lights increase)

And when I see her. . . my yo-yo's really bounce. She's cute and all; but, mostly, I love her because she's neat. She even wears a little bow tie on her prim blouse. I don't worry if she's a terrorist or anything. I just know that I have to find out who she is. So I let her in.

 

                            (Lights increase to romantic level)

JOY

My name is Joy. Say,

 

OVERVIEW

Says Joy, joyously,

 

JOY

                            (Joyously)

Aren't you that nerd, Eubie?

 

EUBIE

Yes.

 

JOY

                            (Joyously)

I thought so!

                            (Seriously

—Say do you know the Winona Street Witch—Carmelita Strega? Well, she told me about this certain poster. Beach scene. If it has the serial number 262 49 32, it's a poster you can walk into. I've been looking all over town for that poster.  Then I saw it here.  Just now. As I was passing.  God, I hope this is the walk-in poster!

                            (TWO MEMBERS of the ENSEMBLE

                            enter carrying an empty poster frame.

                            The POSTER ENSEMBLE will move the

                            empty poster frame as needed in the scene)

 

JOY

                            (Continued)

 Can I get more light in here?

 

EUBIE

This late? Better not—but you can use my flashlight.

 

                                              

OVERVIEW

And when Eubie gives her his flashlight, he feels. . . peculiar, somehow. Intimate, as Joy fingers his flashlight—and examines the poster.    

 

EUBIE

Listen, Joy. . .do you think you could love a man with zits? —and a neat bow tie?

 

JOY

Sure,

 

OVERVIEW

Says Joy, —who is having a tough time making out the smudged serial number on the poster.

 

JOY

As long as he had a turbulent, romantic soul. Seething. Full of angst-agony. Excessiove passion. Exotic longings—all that.

 

EUBIE

Why, Joy! That is a verbatim transcript of my own inner assessment of myself!

 

JOY

Eubie, can you tell if that's a five or a six?

 

EUBIE

A six. Listen, Joy; this is important:  . . .Why do you need to walk into the poster?

 

JOY

Because I can't get on busses. I keep falling backwards. And I've got to get out of Bodoni County!

 

 

EUBIE

Why, Joy! That's a verbatim transcript of my existential quandary! But, tell me, Joy—and this is really important—does your wanting to leave Bodoni County have anything to do with—colored glass?

 

 

JOY

No. It has to do with the blues.

                           

                            (LIGHT CHANGES TO BLUES LIGHTING,

                            and follow spot catches Joy, Stage Center))       

 

JOY

                            (Continued)

—Eubie, I'm a born chanteuse. I sit on pianos and sing the blues. The only place I can chanteuse at in this town is "The Beer Belly." Yucko! There's a customer—every night? —when I'm lost in the smoky lyrics of a blues number? —this joker sucks on my ankle—right through my panty hose! Yucko ditto! —Listen Eubie—I can see your seething soul right through your bloodshot eyes, so I can tell you about it: I once saw this travel poster. Luxury cruiser. Nightclub aboard it. Gorgeous chanteuse with gorgeous gown, slinky black, with a crimson dragon made of crimson sequins—slit up the side. Tall, gentlemanly Gentlemen, stand around in tuxedos and sip martinis and champagne, and try to keep their erotic thoughts secret—though their eyes, focused on the chanteuse—like yours are focused on moi—reveal their simmering smolder. And it's all in glossy color and the chanteuse is caught in the moment of revealing an angst-spasm and—Oh, look, Eubie!

                           

(BLUES LIGHTING OUT AND BACK TO

                            NORMAL LIGHTING AS JOY MOVES

                            TO THE POSTER FRAME AGAIN)

 

That last number is a 32! This is the poster! 262 49 32!

 

OVERVIEW

And she practically rips off her clothes! Down to her delicate see-through undies! And Eubie is speechless!

                            (A MEMBER of the ENSEMBLE runs out

                            with an overnight bag; hands it to JOY,

                            then exits)                    

And Joy pulls from an overnight bag—and puts on—a crimson-dragon, black, slit-up-the-side, gown—identical to the one she described.

 

                                              

 

JOY

                            (Dressing)

Listen, Eubie; Carmelita Strega said there's a graveyard of dead poster scenes on an island called. . ."Despair." My chanteuse poster is in that graveyard, on that island. But to get there you first have to enter a current poster, with this number and—There! Now I'm ready. See you Eubie—and thanks for letting me in here.

 

                            (JOY climbs into the empty poster frame)

                                    

OVERVIEW

She is already into the poster and on the beach when Eubie's instinct says,

 

EUBIE

Joy! Wait! I'm coming, too!

 

OVERVIEW

And he dives into the poster after Joy!

 

                            (EUBIE dives through the empty poster frame,

                            as the POSTER ENSEMBLE exit with the frame

                           

                            Beach lighting)

 

                                                      OVERVIEW

                            (Continued)

A beach! White, white sand! Lots of blue sky. A mountain in the background. A beautiful woman running down the beach. Very tanned. Enormous breasts. Wearing a white bikini. Her top is in the shape of a slim bow tie.

                            (BIKINI GIRL ENTERS;

                            running in place. Her top, indeed, is in the

                            shape of a slim bow tie.)

She is running at the water's edge; kicking some blue-green splash about. Waving. Eubie takes Joy's hand and they run in the splash alongside the woman.

 

JOY

Say, how did you get that great tan?

 

BIKINI GIRL

Always had it. Always will. It's my poster tan.

 

EUBIE

You seem so happy and excited. —I know! You're running and waving to a lover! Down the beach.

 

BIKINI GIRL

No. There's no lover. I'm just running. And waving. That's what I do. Run.

And wave. I'm a poster Bikini girl, with a poster tan, and all I do is run! And wave.

 

EUBIE

How come there are so few people on this beach?

 

BIKINI GIRL

There are always few people on a beach in poster land!

 

                            (BIKINI GIRL and JOY Exit)                                

 

OVERVIEW

Then she's gone. And so is Joy! And Eubie panics!

 

EUBIE

Joy! Joy! Where are you?

 

OVERVIEW

Off poster, Joy shouts—!

 

JOY

                            (Off stage)

Here, Eubie! Off poster! —Turn left at the last palm tree in the foreground!

 

OVERVIEW

Which Eubie does and—LO! —Suddenly everything is black, shiny black! The ground is a shiny black dance floor with silver sparkles flashing in it, and shafts of spotlights that hit and circle the floor. And there is a fanfare and Joy is in a hot shaft of light and opens her arms and says:

 

                            (Lighting—like OVERVIEW just said)

 

JOY

Eubie! I think we're in a limbo area between posters. And I'm sure we're meant to dance here. Yes, Eubie! Let's dance!

 

EUBIE

But I can't dance!

 

JOY

You must, Eubie! One must dance in this place. That's clear. But I can't dance by myself, Eubie.

 

OVERVIEW

God, Eubie is depressed. But then a wonderful thing happens! Eubie hears from inside his soul, the voice of dear friend, Old Matilda Trimble:

 

OLD MATILDA TRIMBLE

                            (Voice amplified)

The bow tie, Eubie—the one I gave you? Rub it!

 

OVERVIEW

And Eubie does and —LO!—his shoes grow pointy and tap heavy. He glides over to Joy, takes her in his arms and —LO! Again— they are Fred and Ginger! Gene and Vera Ellen! Pricilla Presley and anybody! —And first they waltz. Then they do the Peabody. Then it's a seamless transition to all the different ballroom dances that ever were. The Tango.  . . . The Rumba.  . . .The Samba.  . . .The Foxtrot.  . . . the Limbo. . . —all of 'em!

 

                            (They do them all!)      

 

JOY

Poster coming up!

 

OVERVIEW

And this time it's a small island full of coconuts. From her overnight bag Joy takes out a little hammer and spike and taps holes in a coconut.

                            (JOY does all this)

Then she takes two straws out of the bag.

                            (JOY does this)

Then, like the boy and girl in Our Town, they sip coconut juice and make goo goo eyes at each other.

 

JOY

I feel a chanteuse inspired blues lyric coming on:

 

                                     (SINGS OR RECITES LYRICS))   

TIDES ROLL IN.

TIDES ROLL OUT.

AND MY LOVE AFFAIRS DO THE SAME.

WHY IS IT THAT NONE OF THEM LAST?

ARE MY LOVERS AT FAULT? OR AM I TO BLAME?

MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE I KEEP LOOKING FOR THAT FIRST ONE,

ON THE BEACH WHERE I PAID LOVE'S DUES.

PERHAPS I KEEP ON WANTING THE EXTRAORDINARY PLEASURE

OF FIRST-LOVE'S SAND DUNE BLUES.

JOY

                            (Continued)

SAND DUNE BLUES,

FIRST LOVE IN ITS RERUNS.

SAND DUNE BLUES,

HOT SAND ON MY HOT BUNS.

         MEMORABLE DAY.

         WE WENT ALL THE WAY!

                   SAND DUNE BLUES;

                   SAND DUNE BLUES.

 

SAND DUNE BLUES,

THE GLOW FROM CAMP FIRE'S EMBER.

SAND DUNE BLUES,

THE LOG THAT WAS HIS MEMBER.

         MEMORABLE DAY,

         WE WENT ALL THE WAY.

                   SAND DUNE BLUES.

                   SAND DUNE BLUES.

    

                            BUT IF IT WAS SUCH A MAJOR EVENT,

                            WHY CAN'T I RECALL MY FIRST-LOVE'S FACE?

                                     (Discovery)

                            PERHAPS MUCH OF THE TIME I WAS SITTING ON IT?

                            AH, YES—KNOWING ME, THAT WAS THE CASE!

 

SAND DUNE BLUES—SWEET PAIN OF FIRST DESIRE!

SAND DUNE BLUES—GETTING OFF FIVE TIMES

IN A FIVE-ALARM DESIRE FIRE!

        

                   MEMORABLE DAY.

                   MEMORABLE LAY!

                   SAND DUNE BLUES. . .

                   SAND DUNE BLUES. . .

        

OVERVIEW

And then, of course, they make love. And Eubie's world is a kaleidoscope of colors and colored prisms. 

                            (Love and prisms and ETC. happen)

Then, when it all settles back to glossy poster color, Joy says,

 

JOY

Say Eubie, that was really unique—wearing a bow tie through it all! But now it's time to go!

EUBIE

But, I don't want to leave here. Not now. Not ever.

 

JOY

Ah, that's sweet, Eubie. But, I know who I am and where I belong. And I belong on my Chanteuse Poster.

 

EUBIE

But I don't know who I am; or where I belong. I don't know my essence.

 

JOY

I'm all dressed now Eubie and need to high step it off to the Island of "Despair." Coming?

 

                            (JOY tap dances around)

        

OVERVIEW

And Joy tap-dances away off the poster.

                            (EUBIE follows)

And Eubie follows onto the black dance floor. And they tap on down the great black way.

 

JOY

Island ahead!

 

OVERVIEW

And there is nothing on the Island but pole structures that look like crucifixes. And crumpled up old posters all over the ground. And Joy pokes around and miraculously, immediately, finds the chanteuse poster. 

 

                            (The POSTER ENSEMBLE enter with

                            an empty frame)

 

JOY

Eubie, help me put it up.

 

OVERVIEW

And Eubie does. And it is wrinkled and faded; but it is clearly the chanteuse poster. 

 

JOY

Now kiss me goodbye, Eubie.

 

                                              

 

OVERVIEW

So Eubie kisses Joy .

                           

                            (The POSTER ENSEMBLE frame her

                            in the empty poster frame)

 

And she moves into the poster and—LO!—She slips into the figure of the chanteuse on the piano and she is caught forever, arms shooting over her head, in the high-angst moment of the blues! And Eubie is depressed and his feet start to tap dance away.

 

EUBIE

To where? Back to Bodoni County?

 

OVERVIEW

Then—LO!—Eubie hears Old Matilda Trimble's voice saying,

 

OLD MATILDA TRIMBLE

                            (Voice amplified)

Look for the stained glass poster, Eubie.

 

                            (Two more MEMBERS from The ENSEMBLE

                            enter with another empty Poster Frame

                            and lay it on the ground—they move back)                                               

                                    

OVERVIEW

And there it is. At his feet. A faded ripped poster of a stained glass window. And it is of the naked god Mercury.

 

EUBIE

With no zits and the most magnificent yo-yo's that ever were. And there are wings on his heels and a little World War I tin hat on his head and he's dashing through a meteor explosion of reds and blues and greens and magentas and oranges!

 

OVERVIEW

And Eubie's heart idles like a truck, he's so excited;

(The two Poster ENSEMBLE accomplish the following)

and, quickly, he puts up the poster facing the chanteuse poster–and suddenly panics:

 

 

EUBIE

Is this what I really want?

 

OVERVIEW

Then Eubie hears Old Matilda Trimble's voice:

                                              

                                               OLD MATILDA TRIMBLE

                            (Off. Voice Amplified)

It's either this, Eubie; or return to Zitsville. —No, Eubie! There's no choice! And you know it!

 

                                     (The Two Poster Frame ENSEMBLE 

                                     frame EUBIE, opposite JOY's frame)

 

OVERVIEW

So Eubie climbs into the poster and becomes the wingèd God Mercury! And he appears to be dashing toward the chanteuse poster—and will always appear to be dashing that way! And Eubie is finally happy, for he will now look on his Joy, forever and ever—there, on the Island of Despair.

 

                                     (They SING)

                                              

                                              

EUBIE AND JOY

SAND DUNE BLUES.

 

JOY

ESCAPING FROM THE WORLD'S WOES.

 

                                               EUBIE AND JOY

SAND DUNE BLUES.

 

EUBIE

THE FREEDOM OF MY YO-YO'S.

 

                                               EUBIE AND JOY

NEVER A TEAR,

FROM YEAR TO YEAR. . .

SAND DUNE BLUES!

SAND DUNE BLUES!

 

                                               OVERVIEW

And so ends our fable!

 

 

–(c) by Frank Gagliano. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

 

(Frank Gagliano’s work is included in One On One:  The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books.  Visit his Web site: www.gaglianoriff.com.)