Three Plays

THREE PLAYS by Ann Gottesman
          Jack & Jill
          Robinn & Mariann

24 pp, hand-sewn
D Press Play Service
2006 Sebastopol


     JILL—young, literally, or young at heart, dressed as a street urchin in tattered black clothes. She carries a backpack with a tape recorder, a doll, doll parts and boxes inside it.
     JACK—her older brother by several years is dressed in Civil War rags. He carries a gun with a flag attached to it.
     MOTHER NOOSE—a hard, cold, impersonal, domineering voice—the tone, one hears over a public address system.

The stage is a grassy knoll.

. . .

     [Jill enters by rolling from the top of the hill, down to the front of the stage. She sits facing the audience.]

     JILL:  At night, Iím a bat. I fly through the thick, inky black. [towards off stage] Oh, shut up Jack. [towards the audience] Jackís always asking me to do stuff. You must know men who, every time you turn around, are asking for something. [towards off stage, behind the hill] Oh, Jack. [to the audience] I hate it when he doesnít answer. [She hugs her backpack.] Really, Iím his sister and his enemy. Iím going to plot with him to kill our mother. Sheís hateful. Why, you must think Iím just awful. [Audience hears this as Jill rocks her backpack, singing to it. A tape recorder plays from her backpack.] Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

[Then, she gets up and moves around the stage flapping her arms, as if she were a bat.]

Itís au currant to be bad, beyond bad, beyond evil. These days killingís nothing. Bang, bang the T.V. goes. Bang, bang goes a guard or someone eating a hot dog. Really we eat animals. We have to kill them to eat them. So, why does it matter if we have to kill our mother? Oh yes, mothers are so dear, but theyíre just bread bakers. Mothers donít feel. They suffer. Theyíre in pain, so thatís why they have us kids, just to distract them. [over her shoulder] Jack, get down here will you. [to audience] I use to play with dolls until my mother said I was too old for them. So, I dismembered them, then trashed them. [beat] Can you believe she ran over our cat because she hated him? Hated all animals. Said we were animals. She eats animals like she eats us. [directly towards audience] Jack get over here.

     [Jack appears at top of the hill, takes some poses with his gun like a statue at a war memorial.]

     JACK:  Jill. Oh Jill, my beloved. Sweetheart. Loin of my love. Coin of my dove. Jill, Iím over the hill.

     JILL:  Jack. Attack Jack.

     [He does a maneuver. Jill pulls a doll from her backpack and starts pulling off the arms and legs. She gets out boxes and sorts the legs into one, arms into another. Jack looks at her back and thinks that it is a target. He runs his gun through her, under her arm pit.]

     JILL:  Sit Jack.

     [He is fighting a ferocious battle with a ghost, wrestling it, until it runs away.]

     JACK:  Scared that fellow away. That yellow fellow.

     JILL:  Thatís right. You watch for the enemy. I was telling these ghosts in the dark that weíre going to kill our mother.

     JACK:  Oh, Jill. I told you that was just a joke. An egg yoke. [His expression changes.] Jill my lusty, little sister. I want to pull down your pants and stick...

     [Heís getting into his war mode again with his gun.]

     JILL:  [loudly] Jack, what rhymes with pants?

     [Jack freezes.]

     JACK:  Pants? Well thereís ants and plants, perhaps dance, if thatís fair. Jilly, oh chilly Jill, please donít ignore me. Please, donít say Iím wrong again. Please, oh please, donít tell me Iím stupid or bad, or Iíll flick this stick, and itíll do the trick. Then, Jill will be over the hill.

     [Jill looks wistfully at the audience, away from Jack.]

     JILL:  Donít you just love night? Canít see in the night. Everything gets covered up with black goo. My dolls all come together in my dreams. Funny, even those thatíve lost their legs., Jack I had a vision just now.

     [She looks at Jack.]

     JACK:  Vision? Division, incision, collision...

     JILL:  I saw this beautiful woman all dressed in silver, and she had a sign on her chest. Big red letter, a scarlet letter.

     JACK:  What letter was it Jill, bill, dill, skill

     JILL:  M. M for Ma...Mo...ther. Donít you love to make that letter? M. M. Feel how the lips go together M. M.

     [Holding each other, they repeat m, m, m. Then, they begin to rock and to recite.]

     BOTH:  Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Jack and Jill went up the-

     [Machine gun sound, and the two of them writhe and die.]

     MOTHER NOOSE:  Next time when I tell you to get water, youíll do it.

The stage goes completely black, quickly.


On stage: a man and woman, dressed in Robin Hood style clothing, sit in a green and yellow camouflage-painted rowboat with a red sail. ďGolden CasketĒ is written on the side of the boat. A simulated storm, using a fan on stage, is blowing the sail. Shark silhouettes are projected on the back stage curtain.

. . .

     [The boat rocks. Robinn is beating off sharks with an oar, while Mariann sits, calmly embroidering.]

     MARIANN:  [She sings.] A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket. I wrote a letter to my love, but on the way I dropped it. I drop, drop, dropped it, and on the way I dropped it. A little elf picked it up, and put it in his jacket, his jacket. A tisket, a tasket, Robinn found a letter and put it in his poc-

     ROBINN:  Mariann, quiet! I didnít find any letter. There is nothing in my pocket, nothing. [He whacks a shark.]

     MARIANN:  You donít have to get huffy. All I really want is a love letter from you one of these days, after all these eons of being together.

     [The wind gets stronger. The boat lurches. Robinn continues to frantically smack sharks with the oar.]

     ROBINN:  Maid Mariann, please help with the sail. This isnít the Sheriff of Nottingham that Iím fighting here. Be useful, girl, or weíll die. Anyway, it was a letter of credit, not a love letter.

     [She sets her embroidery down. Her reality is calm while his is frantic.]

     MARIANN:  You finally wrote me a letter but it got lost? Do you know how long Iíve been waiting for a letter from you? Whatís a letter of credit?

     ROBINN:  Too hard to explain. Iíll write your damn love letter. Now, please shut up. Canít you see, we wonít survive if you donít help?

     MARIANN:  Help! I hate that word.

     ROBINN:  Dearest, try to be logical. We are lost at sea in a storm, and there are sharks attacking our boat. Not only that, our boat is old, and if we capsize, weíll be food for these sharks. In short, weíre doomed, unless youíd be so gracious as to participate.

     MARIANN:  Oh, there you go again with your gloomy, doomy stuff. Okay, you rest, and Iíll take over.

     [Robinn, who is physically exhausted, collapses into the boat with his feet over the side. Mariann calmly takes the oar and holds the sail. But now she is the frantic one, beating off the sharks and dealing with the sail in the wind. Robinn hangs his head on the edge of the rocking boat as Mariann fights the sharks and the elements.]

     ROBINN:  [He pulls himself up.] What has God done to us, Mariann? Life is the pits and then you die. I miss the woods, the light coming through trees like beacons flickering on and off. The smell of wet leaves and soil. The sound of deer making their way through the underbrush. I just love to hug trees. If God can do anything, He should never put a for sale sign on the forests because it would siphon off the magic. What would life be like without the plants and the animals, without clean water and fresh air? I remember fishing one day, and in the shadow of trees lying across the shallow water, I spotted these dark patches, which were water caves where fish rest.

     [Thereís a sudden calm, and the sail deflates. Mariann freezes and turns in slow animated motion. It is very quiet. No hollowing wind or sloppy water hitting the boat.]

     MARIANN:  God is giving us the opportunity to listen, and maybe to find a letter. [Exasperated, he looks up at her.] Where do you get those strange ideas like letters of credit? People write love letters, Robinn, when they are in love. Is it vibrations, waveforms, cycles, hallucinations... or is it paying attention to the pieces that donít quite fit, those odd little miracles and wonders?

     ROBINN:  Lifeís the pits and then you die. [He picks up the oar and smacks a shark.]

     MARIANN:  Quiet! We have to listen.

     ROBINN:  Iím listening, but I really donít hear anything.

     MARIANN:  Ever since Iíve known you, you talk of things that donít exist: letters of credit, banksÖ you even used the word freeway the other day. Whatís that? And TV, traffic jams? And you cried about something called a bulldozer. I canít take it anymore. [Humming] A tisket a tasket, a green and yellow basket, I wrote a letter to my love-

     ROBINN:  I canít explain it Mariann. If only you knew what the Sheriff of Nottingham is capable of. One day, in the future, he will become what is called the President of a powerful country and, in the name of fighting Terrorism, gain great wealth, just like he is doing now. History repeats itself.

     MARIANN:  [She holds up her embroidery.] I donít get it. I just want a love letter, and I admit I do want adventure, but stealing this boat and then launching it into this unknown territory just isnít my idea of fun. [beat] Besides, you shouldnít say things, if you donít know for sure they are true.

     ROBINN:  Why the hell not? No one listens to reason anymore, anyway. Do you?

     MARIANN:  I like to embroidery. This is my-

     ROBINN:  Work of art? [Suddenly, a shark appears with a letter in its mouth. Robinn takes the letter and smacks the shark on the head, just for good measure. He unfolds the letter and looks through a large hole in it at the audience. Setting her embroidery down, Mariann puts her arms around his waist and looks over his shoulder.]

     MARIANN:  I think thatís your lost letter. [She kisses him.]

     ROBINN:  [He reads.] You are headed for Earth. Earth is your Letter of Credit. You must take good care of Earth, or the Lender will have you removed. This is a Loan. One last thing, when you land, please donít litter in The Garden.

     [The background scene changes into trees.]

     MARIANN:  Is this where our adventure really begins?

     ROBINN:  Might be.

     [He takes her hand. As they step out of the boat, roses fall from the sky.]

The stage fades to black.



The streets are dark and empty. All the shops are closed. A moonless night. A beat-up Volvo comes over the hill, moving west on Buchanan Street, followed by an old, but shiny Cadillac. They are the only two cars on the road.

ANDREW, a young man with a boyish face, dressed in a worn suit, takes a hit off a joint and passes it to DANA, waving it around her face. She is much younger than him. She has long hair and is dressed in tight jeans, cowboy boots, oversize sweater, with a long scarf wrapped around her neck. She stares into the shadows of the streets and shopping areas, twisting the end of her scarf and ignoring Andrew. Then, without looking at Andrew, she grabs the joint, rolls down the window and tosses it. Andrew turns towards her. When he turns back to the road, an elderly JAPANESE MAN crossing the street. He slams on the brakes. The Cadillac, which follows, bumps into the Volvo. The Japanese man walks around to the driverís side of the Volvo without any expression. Dana watches in the rear view mirror as the MAN in the Cadillac gets out of his car. He is over 6 feet tall, 250 pounds, and wears a pink tutu, red stacked heels, an Afro wig with a tiara, and he has an overly made-up face. Dana names him Tutu.

The Japanese man stands close to the driverís door. Andrew rolls down the window. The Japanese man slaps him. Andrew is stunned and does not move. Dana gets out of the car. Tutu, witnessing this, stomps his foot at the Japanese man and points his finger. The Japanese man spits and walks away. Andrew, rubbing his face, gets out of the car, as Dana runs around the front of the car to join him. He shoves her away and walks towards Tutu who is bent over looking at their fenders. Dana meanders back to her side of the car, her eyes following the Japanese man as he walks into the darkness. She fiddles with her scarf. Then, from over the roof of the car, she watches Tutu pout and wag his finger in a shaming gesture at Andrew. They both look down briefly at the fenders again. Dana looks into the shadows of the empty shops and at a broken fountain. Andrew smiles broadly at Tutu and shrugs. Tutu shrugs, blows him a kiss, and then wobbles back to his car. Andrew smiles again. He watches as the Cadillac backs up and then zoom around him.

Andrew gets back in the car. Dana is gone. The car wonít start.