There’s a theatre company in Chicago, called BYOT (Bring Your Own Theatre). Once a month, everyone assembles comma including actors, writers, directors, technicians, etc., for the purpose of creating a theater piece in a 24-hour period .
As writers, we were all given the theme, “low protester turnout”, at 9 o’clock on Friday. The script was due the following morning by 8 am. At which point, the actors and directors get to work blocking, memorizing script and doing a tech rehearsal for performance that Saturday evening at 8pm.
Last week, I participated. This is what I came up with.
Setting: The year is 2018, somewhere in the south, it’s daylight, and it’s hot out. The location is outside of a random municipal hall.
Frank is seen carrying a clipboard as he paces frantically. He’s about 30 years old and tends to carry a chip on his shoulder wherever he goes. He was the kid at a birthday party when he was little, who looked around to make sure that nobody got a bigger piece of cake than he did. He is “mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”
Micky is a few years younger than Frank. He is from Chicago. He followed an ex girlfriend to the south but it didn’t work out. He had difficulty finding work, until he met Frank one day in a bar and Frank told him to come by the factory, that he would give him a job. Frank has worked at the factory half of his life. He began working there in high school. The livelihood of the town depends entirely upon the running of the factory.
Frank: Damn it’s hot out today! Where is Herman?
Micky: He’s not coming, boss.
Frank : Why the hell not?
Micky: Herman was caught with Billy last night, boss.
Frank: Billy? Isn’t that the goat he’s always talking about?
Micky: I don’t know, boss.. It’s all very confusing. He’s in jail for beastie behavior or something like that. I don’t know. He wants me to call his mom to bail him out. I don’t want to make that call.
Frank: mick, have you taken a good look at Herman lately?
Micky: yeah. No wonder he smells like a goat.
Frank: somehow I don’t think it will come as a shock to the old lady.
Micky: should I call her now?
Frank: hell no! He messed up and let us down. Let him stew behind bars for a while. Now we’ve got to put somebody else in charge of crowd control. Dammit! (New beat) Did y’all finish the signs?
Micky: we had a little problem there.
Frank: what kind of problem?
Micky: a supply problem.
Frank: what are you talking about? I gave you $200 for materials! What the hell could go wrong?
Micky: well, remember when you said we could only buy American? Well, it turns out the posters come from China, the markers are made in Japan, and the duct tape is from Mexico! Goddam foreigners!
So Margaret had the idea to make banners out of old sheets. You know that great borscht that she makes?
Frank: Right. Love it!
Micky: Well, we tried painting the sheets with the borscht to keep it strictly American. But the red stains on sheets look too much like… well… It just wasn’t good. Then she got all pissed because we ruined her sheets for nothing. She kicked us out and refuses to come today.
Frank: For chrissake! I’m surrounded by carp!
Enter Charlotte carrying a bag. She is a bubbly, cheerleader type around 30. Not the brightest bulb on the tree. She may be a little bit quirky, but everybody loves Charlotte and wonders why she’s with Frank.
Charlotte: (saying this with the anticipation of singing up a scale) who is ready to protest the pussy?
Hi sugar! (indicating to Frank.) Where is everybody?
Micky: Herman’s in jail. Margaret is staying home.
Charlotte: why is Herman in jail? I hope it’s not Billy again.
Frank: shut up about Billy! Is Fox news still coming?
Charlotte: well, Mr. O’Reilly promised to come only if I give him a private showing of my Barbie doll collection, I guess his daughter was really into Barbie. But now I don’t think he’s gonna make it. I heard he’s taking time off to write his newest book “There’s A Fox in the Henhouse”
Frank: try not to think, Charlotte. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself.
Micky: come on, boss! That’s not very nice.
Charlotte: thanks Micky.
Frank: hey! If you two are finished with your little love scene, we’ve got a lot more important shit to do. People are going to start showing up any minute now, and we’ve got to be ready for them!
Charlotte, did you make any signs?
Charlotte: of course! Think I’m stupid?
Frank: well, come on, let’s see!
She pulls out a sign that says “ we hate pussy!” with a feeble drawing of a vagina on it.
Charlotte: ta daa! Isn’t it great? I did it myself.
Frank: what the hell, you stupid bitch! What is that drawing?
Charlotte: it’s a pussy.
Frank: you can’t carry a sign with a picture of a vagina on it!
(Micky chuckles to himself.)
Frank: speaking of vaginas, I thought you were bringing the women’s bowling league. Where are they?
Charlotte: they couldn’t come.
Frank: stupid bitches! We need them! Why not? Why aren’t they here as promised?
Charlotte: they’re busy working on a bake sale to raise money for Linda’s mom.
Frank: (incredulous) What the fuck! A bake sale? Are you kidding me!
Charlotte: Her mom lost her health insurance with Trumpcare and was just diagnosed with breast cancer. We’re all very worried about her.
Frank: dammit! We need the bodies.
Micky: what the fuck, Frank! What’s up with you?
Micky: dude. These are women. Nice women, trying to help each other out. What the fuck, man?
Frank: what? If they really want to help themselves, they should be here making America great again! It’s called “sacrifice for the cause” dude.
Charlotte: I think they’ve got bigger fish to fry right now.
Frank: what are you talking about? It’s our job to save this country from all the stinking foreigners.
And what about you, Mick? You were supposed to bring the softball league. Why the hell are they running late? They should’ve been here 40 minutes ago.
Micky: they’re all down at the factory, waiting to find out if we still have jobs.
Frank: that’s just stupid! Of course we have our jobs. President Trump promised to create even more jobs. Trust me. We’re cool, buddy. Those guys are just a bunch of drunken losers, too lazy to show up to fight the good fight .
Charlotte: Frankie! What are you talking about? These are your buddies. You grew up with most of these guys and some of them even work for you!
Frank: yeah. That’s how I know they’re a bunch of drunken losers. It’s OK, we don’t need ‘ em.
People are going to be showing up any minute now by the busloads. We were on the news for god sakes!
Where is Jimmy? I’ll get him down here. Everybody loves Jimmy. He’s so charming he could charm the pants off the pope! I’m gonna call him. People would follow him off a cliff. He’ll get them down here.
(Frank calls and gets a disconnect voicemail)
What the hell? It says “this number is disconnected”. Did he get a new phone?
Micky: haven’t you heard?
Frank: heard? Heard what?
Micky: he was deported yesterday.
Frank: what? That’s crazy. You’re crazy! I’ve known Jimmy since I was a kid. He’s an American. He pays taxes just like you and me
Micky: well, he may pay taxes, but he came here when he was two years old. So they came and got him yesterday. He’s on his way to bumfuk Mexico. It’s really fucked! His wife is pregnant with their third kid. She is scared to death. How could you NOT know this?
Frank: I’ve been busy planning this protest! I have to do everything myself!
Charlotte: that’s terrible. I love Jimmy. Everybody does.
Frank: just shut up and let me think, you dumb bitch!
Micky: OK, that’s it! Why do you put up with this shit, Charlotte?
Charlotte: he doesn’t mean it
Micky: bullshit. You’re a sweet girl, you deserve so much better!
Charlotte: I do?
(Frank is preoccupied with his cell phone.)
Micky: Hell yes! How did you ever hook up with this jamoke anyway? (Frank is increasingly distracted by his cell phone but not so much as to not notice that Micky just referred to him as a jamoke. He’s annoyed.)
Charlotte: I don’t know. I guess we just hooked up one night after too many shots of SoCo. I’ve been with him ever since. I guess I never gave it much thought. Besides I’m not getting any younger.
Micky: Well, you might want to rethink your plan. You’re a wonderful girl, and lots of guys would kill to be with you.
(Frank is still texting and getting more and more agitated.)
Charlotte: you think so? Like who?
Micky: like me!
Micky: Hell yes! I think I could make you very happy, given half a chance.
Mind if I ask you a personal question though?
Charlotte: OK. What is it?
Micky: why did you vote for Trump?
Charlotte: that’s easy. Because Frank told me to. What about you?
Micky: me too. He told me if I didn’t he would fire me so I figured, what difference does it make?
Charlotte: you mean you’re not a fan? Then what are you doing here?
Micky: isn’t it obvious? I just wanted to be near you.
(Frank just got bad news via text and he loses it)
Micky: what’s the matter?
Frank: they closed the factory. We’re all out of work! Goddamn Hillary! Fucking foreigners! It’s all their fault and that stupid asshole, Obama!
Micky: come on Char, let me buy you a drink.
Frank: where do you think you’re going? Who’s going to manage the crowds? I need to practice my speech!
Micky: it’s over, Frank. We fucked up big time. We backed the wrong horse. What really pisses me off is we just followed you blindly and you followed Trump blindly. Now we’re all in a bus driven by a madman, that’s about to go over a cliff! Time to bail, dude.
Frank: what are you talking about? This is Obama’s fault! Trump is going to make America great again! ( Frank has snapped!)
Start tweeting! Look at these crowds! Holy shit! They are huge! Spectacular! I hope there isn’t a stampede. This is bigger than Fourth of July parade! Come on, everybody, shout it out with me! We hate pussy! We hate pussy! We hate pussy! We hate pussy!
(Micky and Charlotte look at one another as though Frank has lost his mind.)
Charlotte: is he going to be OK?
Micky: Who knows? What’s in the bag?
Charlotte: oh! You want to see? I bought the cutest little hat at this little shop when I went to visit my mama.
(She puts on the straw pink pussy hat and they walk hand-in-hand off stage to go get a drink.)
Thanks for tuning in. If you’re a Trump supporter, you may want to give this a pass. Oh!! Also, turn on closed captioning as the sound is not great.