Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lectures in Time: Nicole and Winter by Erin Browne

Here is the final play of Lectures in Time called Nicole and Winter. It is a time far after Rhymes and the sun was mad but building on those two and their mythology.

As I sit in my warm apartment, observing out my window the continued chaos caused by a blizzard in Brooklyn - the importance of seasons, of making it through Winter to a coming Spring are apparent everywhere - both physical and emotional seasons... 

Again dealing with religion and obviously infected with one of my favorite plays, Elmer Rice's The Adding Machine - this play is about finding place and identity. 

This play always reminds me of a time in my life (undergrad and moving to New York) in which my world was totally being rebuilt - my entire reality was changing. Not only was I moving to New York and getting used to snow and ice again, subways and basements (things that don't happen in a place prone to earthquakes), but I was becoming an adult with all of the freedom and burdens that brings, going from small town to big big big city. There was a world of new thinking and reconstruction going on in my head and all I could think to do was write about it, and some people will recognize the poem in the 1st scene that has really become a mantra in my life.  

The structure of this play is also a precursor I think, to the way I write now - is a first step to how I got to where I am.

Thanks for reading and Spring is coming!  

As always if you use this or have any comments - email me. 

Nicole and Winter 
{part three} 
[May 1999 version] 

Elsie (has a visible nervous tick) 
The Computer (a very human voice) 
Sales Clerk 
Woman in Black 
Man in Black 
Rock Star 
Old Woman 
The Boy 


Scene One 
(Elsie enters with a large kitchen knife.) 

Elsie- Holding ten, us ten fingers all too tight, there was just nothing left to do but write. 

(Elsie cuts off her right hand and dies. Blackout) 

Scene Two 
(Elsie sits in front of a computer screen, that flashes on her face. She types something and her 
computer makes a screeching sound. Elsie types frantically until it stops.) 

Elsie- I didn't mean it when I said that I didn't understand your art. I just wanted to hurt you. I'm 
tired of living underground. 

The Computer- Even my art is immature, it's like a vacuum sucking me up. 

Elsie- Your art is who you are. 

The Computer- I have feelings too. I eat pizza just like everyone else. 

Elsie- You are an artist. I have no art. 

The Computer- Everyone has art. Even you Elsie. 

Elsie- Even me. 


Scene Three
(Elsie is sitting in the booth of a restaurant with Woman and Man in Black.) 

Elsie- I need more money. 

Woman and Man- If you want more money you have to work for it. 

Elsie- Work how? 

Woman and Man- At your job. We all have a job. 

Elsie- I don't know what my job is. No one has told me yet. If they did I forgot. 

Woman and Man- We have told you and you have forgotten. 

Elsie- Can you tell me again? Please. 

Woman- You should have remembered the first time. 

Man- I will help you, I'll tell- 

Woman- No. We won't come here again. We don't know you anymore. 

Elsie- But you do know me. 

Woman- Not anymore. 

Elsie- How can you stop knowing me. 

Woman- It's easy, we'll forget. 

(Woman and Man in Black leave.) 

Elsie- How will I eat? 


Scene Four 
(Rock Star sits on a bench playing guitar. Elsie enters)

Elsie- Wait, you're... Are you? 

Rock Star- Yes. 

Elsie- You're my favorite! 

Rock Star- Humph. 

Elsie- That one song, it's all about me. I love it. 

Rock Star- I'm so tired of this. Who do you think you are to talk to me? Are you important? 

Elsie- I'm important. 

Rock Star- I'm tired of everyone thinking they know who I am. 

Elsie- I don't think I know you. I was just- 

Rock Star- I don't know you. I don't want to know you. 


Scene Five 
(Elsie comes on with her brain in her hands.) 

Elsie- Work! Work! Work! Work! 


Scene Six 
(Elsie sits in front of her computer typing.) 

Elsie- How come you never put what I type on the screen!? 

The Computer- My art absorbs me. Why are you so cranky?

Elsie- I'm tired of winter. For five years it's been winter. I'm beginning to think that spring will 
never come. I'm tired of playing inside. 

The Computer- I've never been outside. If you have a purpose, you don't need to go anywhere. 
The fern died because you forgot to water it. Would you buy another one please, I'm lonely. 

Elsie- I don't have any money. 


Scene Seven 
(Elsie sits in a desk in front of Teacher and chalkboard.) 

Teacher- Thus, we see that 2 + 3 equals 7. 

(Elsie raises her hand) 

Elsie- I disagree, I think the answer is four. 

Teacher- Well, Elsie, you're wrong. The answer is seven. Now, moving on- 

(Elsie raises her hand) 

Teacher- Yes, Elsie 

Elsie- I'm sorry but I don't understand the problem, could you please explain it again. 

Teacher- I can't hold the other students back for you Elsie. 

Elsie- What other students? 

Teacher- Elsie, are you causing problems? 


Scene Eight 
(The Captain stands at attention as Elsie enters) 

Elsie- Can I make money here? 

Captain- If you succeed. Attention. (Elsie snaps to attention) Are you here to protect democracy? 

Elsie- Sure, when do I get my first paycheck? 

Captain- First you have to go through boot camp. 

Elsie- O.K. What do I need to do? 

(Old Woman comes out. Captain hands Elsie a gun.) 

Captain- you have to shoot this old woman. 

Elsie- What? 


Scene Nine 
(Elsie enters with a fern. The Computer flashes.) 

Elsie- I brought you a plant. 

The Computer- Did you get money? 

Elsie- Yes. (She sits in front of The Computer) It's cold in here. 

The Computer- I turned off the heater. I decided that you were too weak. 

Elsie- I need some coffee. 


Scene Ten 
(Elsie is sitting in the booth drinking coffee. The Man and Woman in Black enter and sit next to 

Man and Woman- Have you come to ask us for more money? 

Elsie- I don't want your money. And stop looking at me like I'm rotten milk. 

Man and Woman- You need us. 

Elsie- Leave me alone, forget me. 

Woman and Man- You'll need us again. 

(They leave. Blackout) 

Scene Eleven 
(Model struts in front of the Photographer. Elsie enters

Elsie- Hello. 

(Neither responds or acknowledges Elsie. Elsie walks after the model, following her. Elsie begins 
to take on some of Model's movements. Still neither person notices her though she is almost 
touching them. Rock Star enters and watches Model for a while. Rock Star grabs Model by the 
arm and they exit. Elsie struts in front of Photographer. He notices her, watches her for a while, 
drops his camera, and then leaves. Elsie stands there for a while, she picks up the camera but 
can't figure out how to work it. She breaks it. Blackout) 

Scene Twelve
(Elsie is sitting on a bench. Mugger comes up to Elsie with a big kitchen knife.) 

Mugger- Give me your job. 

Elsie- I don't have a job. 

Mugger- Then give me your art. 

Elsie- I don't have any art. 

Mugger- Then give me your money! 

Elsie- I ran out. 

Mugger- I can see that you don't have looks, what do you have? 

Elsie- I have a computer but not with me. 

Mugger- I don't want your computer, I believe that computers were the downfall of society. 

Elsie- I didn't know society had fallen. Could I be a mugger? 

Mugger- Do you have a big knife? 

(Elsie pulls a big knife out of her pocket.) 

Mugger- Anyone could, even you. 


Scene Thirteen 
(Nicole is drawing a tiger on the wall with chalk. Elsie walks to Nicole with her knife.) 

Elsie- Give me your job. 

Nicole- I don't have one. 

Elsie- Then give me your art.

Nicole- I don't need any. 

Elsie- Money? 

Nicole- Sorry. 

Elsie- Do you have looks? 

Nicole- I have looks but I don't think that you want them, they've never gotten me anything. 

Elsie- What do you have? 

(Nicole hands Elsie some chalk.) 

Elsie- Do you have a computer? 

(Elsie draws a computer.) 

Nicole- Yes. (Whispers)You know spring is coming. 

Elsie- What's your name? 

Nicole- Nicole or Nikki. Yours? 

Elsie- Elsie. 


Scene Fourteen 
(Elsie sits in front of The Computer) 

Elsie- You know someone told me today that spring was coming. 

The Computer- You were one of the people that voted to live underground, what do you care? 

Elsie- I'm never voting for anything again. 

The Computer- I'll believe spring when I see it.

Elsie- I'm bored. 

The Computer- I think you need a family. 


Scene Fifteen 
(Elsie is at the baby market. Sales Clerk is standing behind a table with raffle tickets and a 
money box on it.) 

Sales Clerk- Families on sale. Today 20% off. 

Elsie- I would like to buy a family. 

Sales Clerk- Here I have a nice mother and a matching father, (pulls out a mother and a father 
from under the table) if you buy them together it's an extra discount of ten percent, on one of 
them that is. 

Elsie- I don't really- 

Sales Clerk- Not your style. (Puts parents back and pulls out a baby) Alright, I have a brand new 
baby right here, nice and fresh, just in today. 

Elsie- Oh, it's beautiful but I don't really have any money. 

Sales Clerk- Then what are you doing wasting my time? 

Elsie- I have this. (She pulls out the chalk) Can I trade the baby for this? 

Sales Clerk- A piece of chalk. No way Jose. For a lousy piece of chalk. (He pulls a ten year old 
boy out from under the table, The Boy is wearing a gas mask) This is all I have to trade for chalk. 

Elsie- Well, I guess it will do. Come on. 

(The Boy follows Elsie off as the Sales Clerk writes down the sale in his book. Blackout) 

Scene Sixteen 
(Elsie and The Boy sit in a booth. Elsie is drinking coffee.) 

Elsie- Now I don't have any money for this so we are going to have to run. Why do you wear that 

(The Boy doesn't answer) 

Elsie- Can't you talk? 

(The Boy doesn't answer) 

Elsie- Lucky me. 

(Nicole enters and sits with Elsie and The Boy) 

Elsie- I was hoping that I would see you again. How did you know that spring was coming? 

Nicole- Who is this? 

Elsie- This is my family. 

Nicole- What's his name? 

Elsie- I don't know. 

Nicole- I go above ground sometimes. There the flowers are just poking out, the buds on trees, 
baby leaves that are the neon green of baby leaves. We're under Maine you know. Spring comes 
later there. 

Elsie- Wait, you go above ground. We can't. They tell us that we can't. 

Nicole- I stopped listening to them.

Elsie- Take me. 

Nicole- I'm on my way to church. 

Elsie- Church? We'll go with you. Come on Boy. 


Scene Seventeen 
(Nicole is kneeling praying, Elsie is kneeling trying to pray and watch Nicole at the same time, 
The Boy is kneeling playing with noose.) 

Elsie- Can we go yet? 

Nicole- Yes, lets go. God is busy today. 

Elsie- I thought God had died. I was invited to the funeral. 

Nicole- It must have been for someone else. 

(Nicole and Elsie stand up. Nicole reaches behind an altar to get a key. Nicole takes a key and 
opens up one of the submarine windows on the wall.) 

Nicole- Through here. Elsie, you first, then Boy and I will go last and close the door. 

Elsie- My legs are like bags of ants. What if I don't recognize it? What if I've forgotten? 

Nicole- Just go, what are you afraid of? 

(Elsie climbs through the door, then The Boy, and Nicole goes through last and closes the door. 

Scene Eighteen
(Above ground. Elsie is touching the ground, her tick is gone. Nicole is taking in deep breaths. 
The Boy takes off his gas mask.) 

The Boy- I didn't remember what it looked like, I was only five when we went under. It's like a 
story book that no one read to me but I could tell the whole book from the cover. 

(Elsie and Nicole look at him a second.)    

Elsie- You talk? 

The Boy- Thanks for bringing me here. Thanks for a family. 

Nicole- What's your name? 

The Boy- The Boy. 

Nicole- See the buds on that tree, it's nearly summer. 

Elsie- Fruit. Sun. Oh, the air is so heavy. 

The Boy- The air is so real. 

Nicole- It makes me tired it's so sweet. Are you ready to go back? 

Elsie- That's it. We have to go back? Why? 

Nicole- I have to put the key back. 

Elsie- Can't we walk? I feel like I might float away. 

The Boy- Please. 

Nicole- Maybe a little walk. 


Scene Nineteen
(Elsie is talking excitedly to The Computer, her tick is back. The boy sits is a corner with his gas 
mask on, petting the fern.) 

Elsie- And it was real, there were trees and grass. Just like on t.v. 

The Computer- You aren't supposed to go up there. 

Elsie- And the air was just like you would imagine air, just like air. It was like a dream. Nicole 
said that she would take us back. She promised. 

The Computer- My art is a wall, I can't think. 


Scene Twenty 
(Elsie and The Boy wait at the booth for Nicole. Enter the Man and Woman in Black and sit.) 

Elsie- We are waiting for someone, you'll have to move. 

Man and Woman- If you are waiting for Nicole, she's dead. 

Elsie- What? 

Man and Woman- Her face melted off last night while she slept. Is this boy with you? 

Elsie- Nicole? The Nicole that believes God is still around? 

Woman- The same Nicole. 

Elsie- We have to go. 

Man- We miss giving you- 

Woman- Shut up! Get out of here, but you can't run from us forever, you have a family to 
support. The boy will need things, he looks sickly, medicine is expensive.

(Elsie and the boy leave. Blackout) 

Scene Twenty-one 
(Elsie talking to The Boy) 

Elsie- I can't cry. I forgot how to cry. Do you remember? Tell me how. 

(The Boy shakes his head) 

The Computer- If you had art you wouldn't need to cry, you could make other people cry. 

Elsie- I wasn't talking to you. 

(Nicole enters as a ghost) 

Elsie- I thought that you were dead. 

Nicole- I am. 

Elsie- Your face melted off. 

Nicole- That it did. 

Elsie- Did it hurt? 

Nicole- Not as much as you would think. 

Elsie- I don't believe in after-life, what are you doing here? 

Nicole- God said hi. 

Elsie- I wish I could believe you. 

Nicole- The key is in the bottom drawer on the right. Good bye. 

Elsie- Are you sad that you are dead?

Nicole- I have been buried for five years, it's not much different. Now I really have to go. 

Elsie- Goodbye 

(Nicole leaves) 

Elsie- Wait. Come back. 

(Elsie starts crying. Blackout.) 

Scene Twenty-Two 
(Elsie and The Boy are lying in the grass above ground, Elsie without her tick, The Boy without 
his mask.) 

The Boy- I came up with a name, what do you think of Gus? 

Elsie- Gus, Gus, I like it. Should I call you Gus from now on? 

The Boy- Yes. 

Elsie- Alright Gus, I think I am going to write a novel. 

The Boy- About what? 

Elsie- Coffee. 

The Boy- I'll read it. 

Elsie- Gus, are you ready to go back? 

The Boy- Yeah Elsie, I guess if we have to. 

(They disappear through a hole in the ground. Blackout) 

the end

No comments:

Post a Comment