Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Soul Searching - A One Act Play

It's a bit rough, but here you go! My ten-minute play!

EZRA- Thirty-something businessman. Cynical. A bit awkward
GIRL- About nine years old. Sarcastic and dry. Smarter than she looks.
LEANNE- A woman of roughly thirty, GIRL's mother
GREGGORY- A man of roughly thirty, GIRL's father

Soul Searching
A One Act Play
By Sarah Gay

A graveyard at dusk. A few tombstones are spread among fallen leaves and fog. One tombstone, placed stage right, reads in large letters: “Emmeline Sensini”. It is worn with age and neglect, far overgrown. A second and third gravestone, stage left, read “Greggory Hollandsworth” and “Leanne Hollandsworth” respectively. These two headstones are better kept, though older.

A GIRL about the age of nine sits in between these two headstones, legs crossed and eyes closed. She wears a white sundress with her hair in braids down her back. She breathes deeply and is still. From stage right, EZRA, a young man in his thirties, enters carrying fresh flowers. He is a businessman and wears a smart blazer and khaki pants. Not noticing the girl, he kneels before the first tombstone, and begins speaking to the grave. GIRL listens from a distance, unmoving, though occasionally glancing in his direction.

EZRA: (obviously uncomfortable) Uh… Hey, Mom. It’s really been a while, huh? (A pause). I hope you’re doing okay… I mean, the whole being dead thing is kind of a bummer I guess. I mean, unless it’s not, of course. Maybe Heaven isn’t as boring as the Bible makes it out to be. Or maybe you’re in like… Nirvana or whatever. (Stammering) I guess what I’m trying to say is that I hope being dead isn’t… erm… Well I hope it’s all it’s cracked up to be. I-In the good way, of course!

(GIRL has to stifle a laugh. She gradually becomes more interested in Ezra’s futile attempt to make conversation with the tombstone)

EZRA: So um… I guess the reason I came here today was to talk to you about last night. I had a dream about you. (Nervous) Y-you were all choked up. I couldn’t hear what you were saying, but I really want to know, Mom. You were so… intense. I know what you had to tell me was important. I came here thinking… well, maybe you could, I dunno… show me a sign?

(GIRL, now very fascinated with Ezra’s ramblings, begins to creep behind tombstones in order to better hear him. EZRA continues to be ignorant of her presence)

EZRA: That’s how it works, right? I ask for a sign and you like… ruffle some leaves or- or you know, knock once for yes, twice for no? (A pause) That’s how it works right? (Defeated) What the hell am I even doing here? This is ridiculous.

GIRL: (Popping up from behind Emmeline’s tombstone) Hey! I can bring her back to talk to you, y’know? I’ve been practicing!

EZRA: (Startled) What the fu-! Oh, you scared the hell out of me.

GIRL: (Ignoring him) I’m serious! I can help you! I’ve really been practicing

EZRA: Where are your parents? You’re not here by yourself, are you?

GIRL: (Gesturing stage left) Over there!

EZRA: (Looking for them) I don’t see anybody. Are you lost?

GIRL: Well of course you can’t see them. They’re not awake right now! But I can wake them up if you’d like. You can meet them! They’re really nice.

EZRA: Why would they be sleeping in a graveyard? Doesn’t that seem a bit… I dunno… morbid?

GIRL: (Obviously exhausted) Well they live here, so I don’t see why they wouldn’t sleep here.

EZRA: So, you live here? Do you live in the mortuary?

GIRL: (Disgusted) That dingy old place? God, no! You're a bit slow on the uptake, if you know what I mean.

EZRA: (Incredulously) Slow?

GIRL: So you don’t know what I mean.

EZRA: Oh, please. I know what you mean but - whatever. I don’t see your parents. I’m going to call the police so they can come and take you back home, okay?

GIRL: You really are slow. They’re right over there. (She points indiscriminately to stage left once more) See? They’re sleeping.

EZRA: (Finally catching on) Oh, sweetie. (He kneels) Honey, they’re not sleeping. I don’t know how much whoever has been looking after you has told you, but judging by the looks of it, not much. (A pause) I really hate to tell you this, but your parents have passed away. It’s kind of like sleeping but less… alive. I don’t want you to be upset, but they’re not going to be coming back. You should really get home to your family. Would you like me to take you?

GIRL: (rolling her eyes) I know how to get back home. I come to visit them every weekend. And don’t worry, they’re really strict about me getting back home before dark.

EZRA: You mean your caretaker is strict?

GIRL: (Exasperated) Oh my gooooood, no! My. Parents. I don’t see how this is so hard to understand, and frankly, mister, I’m losing daylight. So you can either go back to struggling to make conversation with an inanimate tombstone for the next twenty minutes, or you can recruit my help.

EZRA: Your help?

GIRL: Yes! I can help you talk to your mom. That’s what you wanted, right? To talk?

EZRA: Well, yeah, but that’s not possible.

GIRL: Of course it is, silly! I do it all the time. (Grabbing his hand) Come here.

(GIRL sits on the ground in front of the stone, and pulls down Ezra next to her)

GIRL: The problem with what you were doing before was actually quite simple and it happens all the time to newbies, so I wouldn’t feel too stupid. Rookie mistake. Really, as a whole, talking to the dead is a process. You can’t just walk up to your mom like (imitating Ezra) “Hey-o, Madre! Hope being dead doesn’t suck! Now talk to me!” No, no, no! It’s like… super off-putting to start out a conversation that way. Like, could you imagine being asleep for (she glances at the tombstone, observing the date of death) nine years and then being woke up with someone shoving flowers up your nose and screaming in your ear? (She observes EZRA, who just shrugs) Well, you wouldn’t really feel like talking, would you? What you’ve gotta do instead is talk to yourself. Figure out what it is that you want to get out of disturbing such a (mocking a spooky voice) peaceful slumber.

EZRA: Well, I want to know what she was trying to tell me in my dream last night. I thought that was kind of obvious…

GIRL: Well, okay, that’s a start. A bad, doofus-y start, but a start nevertheless.

EZRA: Hey, well I’m trying here, okay? Not everybody is a creepy little girl in a graveyard who goes all “Sixth Sense” every weekend and claims to talk to her dead parents.

GIRL: No, but not everybody is a cynical, hardened asshole who won’t even give spirituality and enlightenment a chance. And don’t talk shit about Sixth Sense! (A pause) It’s not like she can read your mind, dude. She’s not God. You’ve gotta talk to her.

EZRA: (Surprised by the girl’s vulgarity) Okay, damn. I’m listening.

GIRL: Why do you think her message is important?

EZRA: What?

GIRL: Why do you think she was trying to talk to you? Do you think there might be something going on right now that you know she would have helped you with when she was alive? Something that has stuck with you for a while? That tends to be the case with dreams like that. People tend to find answers in places and people they associate with their problem. It’s got something to do with psychological conditioning or something.

EZRA: Well… (hesitant) I’m finalizing my divorce tomorrow.

GIRL: Awesome!

EZRA: (Offended) Excuse me?

GIRL: Whoa. Okay, I get how that could have sounded insensitive, but I honestly couldn’t care less about your failing love life. It’s just a much better start to this whole thing.

EZRA: I see.

GIRL: So…?

EZRA: So…?

GIRL: Keep going!

EZRA: I don’t know if I want to- erm… you wouldn’t understand.

GIRL: Good thing you’re not talking to me, then.

EZRA: (Giving her a look) Okay. Well then… I’ve been feeling really shitty about the whole thing lately. I don’t know what happened. My marriage just fell apart right under my nose and I didn’t even notice it until she threw the papers on my desk and put the pen in my hand. I wanted to have kids. I wanted to travel the world with her. I wanted to grow old, die, and be buried next to her. I don’t know what I did to make her hate me. I feel so hopeless - useless, really. I don’t know how to fix this… but now it’s too late. I was hoping my mom- (stammering) you… could give me some advice about how to move on. You went through the same thing with dad… and you turned out alright, from what I remember. I was just hoping you could shed some light for me… what my next step should be.

GIRL: Wow. Heavy.

EZRA: (Glaring) I know. (Under his breath) Thought I wasn’t talking to you...

GIRL: (Ignoring him) Well this is good. You’ve come clean with yourself. That’s the first step. She knows what’s wrong now, and you’ve opened up the gateway to communication. This is very good. The next thing I want you to do is close your eyes and listen.

EZRA: ...For what, exactly?

GIRL: Anything.

EZRA: (Sarcastic) Specific.

GIRL: I’m serious. Don’t be such a wad. Just… (she closes her eyes and takes a deep breath) listen. You’ll understand when you hear it.

(EZRA mimics the girl, but awkwardly places his fingers on his knees in a meditative position. He peeks at the girl through his lashes. GIRL, opening her eyes to check his progress, discovers his ridiculous position and scoffs)

GIRL: You look like Bruce Lee trying to catch a fly between two chopsticks… with another chopstick up your butt. Why are you being so uptight about this?

EZRA: I just don’t see how this is going to help. (A beat) And you know who Bruce Lee is?

GIRL: Doesn’t everyone? Anyway, you really need to relax and enjoy the moment, okay? It’s really not that hard. Who would want to talk to someone who looks like they’re going to make a break for the little boys room at any second during the conversation? You look like you had one too many bean burritos at lunch today. Just… chill.

EZRA: (Angering) I don’t want to “chill”! I want answers!

GIRL: I’m trying to give them to you the best I can! I’ve been practicing! I can help!

EZRA: (Standing up) The only help you’re giving is to my dry cleaner, having me sit in all this dirt! I don’t need this!

GIRL: Of course you do! This is why you came here today, right?

EZRA: I came here to put an end to my nagging mind, okay? I didn’t come here to sit around in a filthy graveyard and get shat on by a creepy nine year old who sees dead people! (Turning to leave) I’m going.

GIRL: (Yelling) Have you ever stopped to think this is why she’s leaving?

EZRA: (Pausing) What?

GIRL: How could any woman respect someone who won’t even take the proper time to talk to her? To listen? How could she confide in someone who only answers to reason, not faith? Maybe she needs someone to believe in her when all signs point to failure. You don’t have any idea what love is if this is any representation of how you treat her. (Standing) When was the last time you asked her about her day? Yesterday? A week ago? Last month? When did you last thank her for making you breakfast, or for cleaning your hair out of the sink? Have you looked her in the eyes, swept her up in your arms, and told her how much she means to you? Because it’s kind of hard to know those kinds of things without being told so.

EZRA: I - well…

GIRL: And don’t tell me you’ve tried everything. I know what your soul looks like, Ezra, and I see it’s lacking. You tell me how you’ve tried to find the answer, and yet I see you here today, throwing your answer away because you don’t want your pants to get dirty. Well, get this, bub - love isn’t in a bottle of Tide stain-removing detergent, okay? Maybe you need to stop and listen just a bit more. Maybe you need to learn to open up to let love in. (Disenchanted) Your soul is so empty, Ezra.

EZRA: (Angry, then cooling) Wow. You really think that? (A beat) Maybe you’re right. I - (To himself) I still have time... (suddenly frantic) I’ve got to go. Thank you, erm-

GIRL: Emma.

EZRA: Right. Thank  you, Emma. I’m sorry. I’ve got to-

GIRL: It’s okay, it’s getting dark anyway. I’ve got to get home soon or my parents will flip.

EZRA: Right. (Turning back to the girl) How did you know my name, by the way?

GIRL: Oh, it’s on your nametag.

EZRA: (Looking down at his blazer) Oh, right. Well, thank you again! Get home safe!

GIRL: You too!

(EZRA EXITS. GIRL watches him leave. She turns to the gravestone, brushing the letters with her fingers. She picks up the bouquet of flowers Ezra has left behind and smells them. She smiles. Two figures, one male, one female, dressed in white ENTER stage right, holding hands)

LEANNE: Do you think he’s going to be okay, Emmeline?

GIRL: I think so. He has enough left in him. I don’t think he’s too late. (A beat) I worry about him.

GREGGORY: Well, you’re doing a mighty fine job of keeping him on track, baby girl.

(GIRL walks to them, they embrace)

GIRL: Do you think he’ll come to visit now? I miss him. It’s been almost nine years since we talked.

LEANNE: I hope so, sweetie.

GIRL: Mama, do you think - one day - I’ll be able to tell him the truth?

LEANNE: I’m sure, some day… but I think he still has a little ways to go. Keep trying, baby girl. Everything will turn out okay. I don’t think you have to worry about him too much any more.

GIRL: (Crying) I just love him so much. I want to tell him everything.

GREGGORY: Do you remember the first time you came to visit us? In this very same cemetery? We did the same thing. You know he has to come to his realizations on his own, otherwise his lessons will never be learned. (He kisses her forehead) You’re doing well.

GIRL: Okay, Papa. Maybe you’re right. It’s just so hard sometimes, seeing him like that. He’s my boy, y’know? (She smiles, and looks up at the sky) Let’s go home. It’s almost dark.




  1. I enjoyed this! There's a growing market for ten-minute plays. you might want to consider sending it to a few places.