THE NATURALIST: a five minute play
by Robin Goldfin
Time: just yesterday.
Place: North of England, an auditorium. There is a standing microphone on stage. The ACTOR enters and speaks into it.
I was sitting in the doctor’s office. In London. My foot hurt. I remember thinking: something always hurts. I feel like such a strange bird. I picked up a magazine. It was a Nature magazine. In it, I found another strange bird.
I have learned that most of my writing starts as a complaint. My attempt is to transform it into something….It begins with—
(He puts on a pair of glasses, becomes The Naturalist. Strong North of England accent.)
Access—to the attic—was via trap door—in the ceiling. By precarious means—I realize now how soon I might have departed this life—I entered the loft and recorded egg laying, hatching and fledging. For my tree, I chose the flowering cherry in the garden, recording bud changes, first leaves, first flowers, first fruits and their development. My school was Highly Commended, two medals were awarded, one to me.
So began my love affair with Nature. It is impossible to estimate here the influence of these early events on my development…as today I stand before you not to accept yet another award, but to pass on the legacy…of love. I know we are all waiting impatiently to hear from this year’s winner who has so diligently devoted him/her self to observing these creatures in their native surroundings. So! Without further ado: The Tree Warden Society of The Home Parish Council of Wombourne, South Staffordshire hereby presents a FIRST for Animal In Its Natural Habitat Appreciation to–
Scout Ernesto Hermon (my strange bird) and his outstanding work, “Defenestration and the Little Finches.”
Scout Ernesto, do come up and tell us—how does it feel to come first?
(The Actor takes two steps forward, pivots, takes off the glasses and stashes them in a pocket to return as 12 year old Ernesto. Shy? Mortified. He stands frozen at the mic. Speaks to his Scoutmaster.)
I don’t know what to—. There are so many people—(a whisper) Ok.
I want to thank me Ma, me Da, the…Good Lord! Don’t move, don’t breathe!
(He gropes in his pocket for telescope and slowly extends it—the sexual metaphor should not be lost—he can barely contain his excitement. Scanning the audience.)
There! A snag-toothed warbling frustration! And there—a belly-throated regret! Wait, it couldn’t be—it is! A red-breasted lust! And right next to her—the sleek-throated shame! Oh, what a pair… this is my…Ah!…..The full breasted loneliness is feeding her babies! Oh! The flat-footed failure has laid another egg!…..(Gasp!)—I don’t believe—so rarely seen in these parts: The dark hued blue-crested sadness. (Whistles) Look at that wing span…
(He watches as the bird flies off. Lights fade. End of play.)
© 2009 by Robin Goldfin
(Robin Goldfin’s work is included in One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.)