La Mama, New York, November 3, 1965; Center Stage Theater, Santa Barbara, September 2007 (from Michael’s extensive BLOG)
I wrote this tiny play with Remy Charlip and Johnny Dodd for our friend Joyce Aaron to perform on an evening of short plays organized by Robert Patrick as a benefit for La Mama. I revived it as part of “Bad Dogs and Other Plays” (see “Bad Dog”), with Susan Keller giving an artful performance as the two-sided protagonist.
“MORE. MORE. I WANT MORE!”
a conversation with herself for Joyce Aaron
by Remy Charlip, Johnny Dodd, and Michael Smith
Set: a table, two chairs, two cups of coffee, two napkins, and two spoons; or nothing.
Joyce skips on.
GIRLISH: Do you think I should be zippy and zip around like a little dog?
WOMANLY: Well what do you want?
GIRLISH: More. More. I want more!
WOMANLY: Well you’re old enough, you should know how to get what you want.
GIRLISH: But everybody expects me to be zippy.
WOMANLY: Well you are zippy.
GIRLISH: What’s the matter with that?
WOMANLY: Well, but is it what you want?
GIRLISH: Sure, there’s nothing wrong with that.
WOMANLY: Well I could answer that question.
GIRLISH: What question?
WOMANLY: Well the first one you asked. Do I think you should be zippy and zip around like a little dog? I think you should be zippy if you want to be zippy but I think you should do something else too.
WOMANLY: Well what do you want me to tell you? Do you think I’m happy myself?
GIRLISH: Well, you’re sophisticated and mature and relaxed and you do a lot of interesting things.
WOMANLY: I’m so unzippy I can’t even work myself up.
GIRLISH: Well what is it that people always say when they want to have sex?
WOMANLY: Why don’t we go up to your place and have a cup of coffee?
She acknowledges a nod and walks off.
[This play is fully copyrighted and all rights to reproduction or production are the property of Lanford Wilson.]
[Dancer/director Bill Mitchell says Lanford wrote this charming little jewel at Bill’s request, for a proposed revue, and it is indeed due to Bill’s good offices that the script has been preserved. Lanford says he wrote it in Chicago just before coming to New York. At any rate, Bill’s revue was canceled, Bill did a memorable pirate production of “The Boy Friend” instead, and Lanford used the skit in “BbAaNnGg!!” a 1965 benefit gala for La Mama. Sharon Gans played Miss Williams, Harvey Selsby played Benny, and Jeanne Lansan played Dorothy. Photos are by James D. Gossage.]
for four or six players
Dorothy (can be above girl)
Joe (can be boy above)
I’ve never seen a fog like this. It’s pitch black, you can’t even see the skyline.
You wouldn’t even know Manhattan was there; you can’t even see one light.
Yes, you can. Look over there; there must be a break in the fog. There’s one window lit.
Oh, yes. It looks like a window right through the sky.
It does look like that, doesn’t it?
If you had a ladder you could climb right up into heaven. Right up past the sky.
If you had a ladder, and wanted to. It looks like you could.
Don’t you know it would be beautiful up there? And quiet?
You think so? What do you think it would be like? Right now, up there in heaven?
Right now? Well, let’s see. It would be lovely. It must be past midnight so the angels would be preparing for morning. There would be a choir singing, and everyone would be lying around on fluffy pink clouds, waiting for the sun to come up, and there would be soft…….
O.K., O.K., O.K., you guys! Now shut up a minute! Whadda you think this is, Christmas? We got a sunrise to pull off at 6:15 sharp, now shape up! (CALLING) Hey, Charlie – you got that fog? Look, that fog’s gotta be here by 6:10 and not a minute later. Dorothy?
(A SECRETARY RUNS UP, PENCIL AND PEN IN HAND, NOTE BOOK, ETC.)
Yes, sir, I’m ready, sir!
No dictation this morning, sweetheart. Where the devil is Miss Wiliams?
I saw her in the color-coordination room ten minutes ago!
Once. Just once I’d like to get one good morning together with her here on time. I don’t mind working for a nut, but…
(A REALLY FRANTIC FEMALE DESIGNER. HAIR DISHEVELED. SHE WEARS GLASSES, IS A BALL OF FIRE, BUNDLE OF NERVES AND ENERGY, WHO GESTURES MADLY. SHE COMES RUNNING IN, CARRYING LARGE CIRCLES OF RED AND YELLOW PAPER. SHE’S STILL TERRIBLY CHIC.)
Here we are, Benny! Oh, god, darling, forgive me! I had one hell of a night last night. Honestly, I awakened this morning thinking it was October! All I could see was gray, gray, gray! When I looked at the calendar and saw it was April 15th…..
Baby, don’t tell me you haven’t planned anything again this morning!
Well I’ve been thinking, darling, but nothing comes to me! I’ve got some color swatches for the sun but nothing looks really good to me. (HOLDING UP A COLORED CIRCLE) What do you think? Does that say April 15th to you?
Baby, I’m not a designer. I just do what you tell me.
I know, I know, sweetheart; you’re under-staffed and under-paid, but surely you have an opinion. Oh, never mind. I’ll think of something. (PAUSE) When I was coming down the hall just now I was thinking: Pink! You know, just plain fluffy pink clouds with maybe a little silver lining, but that’s so prosaic. Dorothy?
Yes, Miss Williams?
Dorothy, why don’t you check with Velvé and see what he’s got planned for the afternoon? I can’t very well take rain clouds all the way to noon and just make them disappear if he’s planning sunshine.
I called him on the way down and he said he’d just follow your lead.
(TAPPING HER FEET)
Follow my lead! Follow my lead. Now doesn’t that sound just like him? Peter told me, “Terry, if you’ve got a brain in your head you’ll try to transfer to afternoons and make Velvé take mornings.” Did you catch his sunset? Nothing! Just nothing! Once I’d like to do a really good sunset!
(AN ASSISTANT TECHNICIAN, RUSHES IN)
Thirty-five minutes, Miss Williams! (RUSHES OUT)
Thirty-five minutes? Are you out of your mind? Benny! Honestly, now, what do you think of just plain bright cerulean?
I told you, baby…..
Well, surely you can picture just plain bright cerulean! Or maybe pale, pale blue with very long finger clouds stretching halfway across the sky. A kind of hand effect.
No, no. The last time you pulled one of those, everybody started calling the weather stations! And weather stations tried to convince ’em that it was a natural phenomenon….
…Oh, yes, I remember now.
…And people didn’t understand natural phenomenon so they called the priests and before nine o’clock, 37 priests were sending up….
…O.K., O.K., I remember! We’ll do something else.
(MUMBLING)…The switchboards were tied up for two hours with all our operators trying to explain what natural phenomenon…..
O.K., I said! Let me think, will you?
Miss Williams, Moisture wants to know humidity!
Tell Moisture to hold its humidity. (FINGERS A FILE-CARD BOX) Hmmmmm. What did we do last April 15th? (SLAMS CASE FIRMLY) No! I’m not going to resort to that! (DOROTHY AND BENNY STAND WAITING FOR INSTRUCTIONS. MISS WILLIAMS SIGHS. TO DOROTHY) Dorothy, you’d better check with Farmer’s Almanac.
Farmer’s Almanac, oh my god.
I know it sounds childish, but Franklin had a fit the last time I rained when he said sunshine.
Oh, no! Look, Benny, we’re going to go ahead with the fluffy pink clouds; prosaic or not. It won’t get us any nominations, but old women love it. But I want those all gone by nine sharp. You’d better start by bringing up the soft rose. Use a number 17 filter and just gradually brng it up till we see: plain fluffy pink clouds. And give me popcorn! The last time I said fluffy clouds, I’ve never seen such shapeless nothing.
O.K. Joe! Now as the last of the fog goes, bring up the #17 rose…and slow, this time, hear?
Benny, don’t bellow like that. It’s going to sound like thunder down there. Joe, tell Moisture fluffy pink clouds till nine o’clock and then just play it by ear.
(WHO HAS BEEN LOOKING THROUGH FARMER’S ALMANAC, FRANTIC)
Just a minute, darling. Now you’re going to have to look up fluffy pink, but I think it runs about 60 to 70 humidity.
What is it, Dorothy?
Farmer’s Almanac says: Eclipse.
Augst 10th, 1962, New York and New England. Total eclipse of the sun beginning at dawn 6:15 and extending till seven forty-seven. Latitude four……..
Hold that pink sky!
MISS MISS WILLIAMS
Total! (IN WONDER) A T.E.! Benny, baby, do you know when the last time was I did a T.E?
Can you pull it off?
Can I pull it off? I’ve been waiting for an eclipse for three centuries. Barcelona! When I had Barcelona there was going to be an eclipse in 3 days. Three days, mind you, and I got transferred. You can’t tell me there wasn’t politics involved in that deal.
I’ve been practicing an eclipse for years.
Benny, we’re going to do this up really good. Just you and I. Now, I want this black as midnight and mysterious as hell.
This ought to show that Barcelona division. Ready, baby?
Ready, you guys?
We’ll scare the pants off New York!
O.K. (INTO MIKE) Now. When I give the sign!
Five seconds, Miss Williams!
We’ll tie the switchboards up for a month. (PAUSE) Summer Festival indeed.
O.K.’…..Let ‘em have it.
(MAKES MOTION TO CUT LIGHTS)
(TOTAL BLACKOUT. EVERYONE SAYS “Ah” AND “Ooooooooooo!…….)
(FROM THE DARKNESS)