A Lesson to Forgive
This play was my first work produced in London, and premiered in 1994 at The Man In The Moon, Pub Theatre, through faith in the work by its director, Areta Breeze. It is a style that solidified my thinking, in British terms, of theatre opportunities, with all permissions of context, concepts, staging, and forums of performance -pub, studio spaces, community hall, theatres, Festivals. This was an initial freedom of exploration – in imagination and writing at the start of a journey, orienting how I would work in the medium of live stage performance..
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Boy #1 teenage
Boy #2 teenage
Boy #3 teenage
TEDDI late 20’s
MRS DEAN indeterminate age
LOCATION: A ‘far removed time’ and emptiness; an interior of a ‘haberdashery’, or old style knick-knack shop.
/ The excerpt contains very strong language, and suggested violence /
MRS. DEAN: If he will not be lead, he will remain -and I will take you back.
MRS. DEAN: I am the Guide. Here, the backward glance is released.
MRS. DEAN: The last ties of life relinquished.
TEDDI: There is no past to regret.
MRS. DEAN: Let it begin.
TEDDI: Forgive yourself.
[TEDDI disappears into shadow. MRS. DEAN waits for OLIVER to waken.]
MRS. DEAN: Oliver. -Oliver.
MRS. DEAN: Oliver.
OLIVER: -..who are you?
MRS. DEAN: I am the-
OLIVER: My side hurts.
MRS. DEAN: It is a rememberance. This is the place to shed those.
OLIVER: What are you talking about?
MRS. DEAN: The knife that made that wound has rusted into dust long ago.
OLIVER: But it hurts.
MRS. DEAN: You remind yourself. That is all.
OLIVER: Yeah, right. Simple. -Ok. -I don't want to be reminded. -It doesn’t hurt. -I mean..not a twitch.
MRS. DEAN: Yes.
OLIVER: I just said I don't want it anymore -and it was gone.
MRS. DEAN: That is how it happens.
OLIVER: Things that give me pain..
MRS. DEAN: Things you regret. Give them up.
OLIVER: -And then what?
MRS. DEAN: Then you move on.
OLIVER: Yeah- all right. Anything to get away from here.
MRS. DEAN: Good. Begin.
MRS. DEAN: At the beginning.
OLIVER: How ‘bout just the highlights -or we’ll be here forever.
MRS. DEAN: Oliver.
OLIVER: -Yeah. OK. -When I was eight -I slapped my cousin for killing my goldfish. Never felt too good about that.
MRS. DEAN: Yes.
OLIVER: All right. How do I move on?
MRS. DEAN: You have no other regrets?
OLIVER: Well..-My brother had a girlfriend I hated.
MRS. DEAN: Yes.
OLIVER: So I told her he was a mass murderer -that the family was about to have him committed.
MRS. DEAN: Yes.
OLIVER: Well -nothing to regret. It was his fault. -He took her to a horror show the next night. Pretended he was a lunatic. -She left screaming. -He blamed me. -Never forgave me. -Guess I'm sorry about that.
BOY *2: Bet it's under the floor.
BOY *1: [pulling out his own knife] So? Where's the dosh?
[TEDDI calmly moves around the BOYS to get to the display counter. He walks behind it, bends down and pulls out a lead pipe. He places it on the counter.]
TEDDI: You know your way out.
[BOYS are stunned for a second]
BOY *3: Man must be joking.
BOY *2: Bet mine's bigger than yours-
BOY *1: You think you're funny?
BOY *3: A stand up comedian.
BOY *2: [looking around] Man - you can't count.
BOY *1: We'll rip out your cocksucking heart.
TEDDI: Out there is where you belong. Not here in my-
BOY *1: What the fuck you mean 'out there'?
BOY *2: ..Yeah -like we're some nightmare or something-
BOY *3: Sure. You'd pucker up if you could get some dick out of it -wouldn't you?
BOY *1: If we slit your throat this very second -no one would ever know. You could rot in here all on your own-
TEDDI: [He snatches the pipe and smacks it against the door frame.] What do you think? Sounds like it could hurt to me. But.. you know. It's up to you.
BOY *2: Hey -if I wanted to be threatened, I'd have stayed home. -Let's just take him-
TEDDI: We've had the conversation. Now -get the hell out of my shop!
[TEDDI advances threateningly towards them. He takes a swing and barely misses a head.]
BOY *3: Fucking fag-
TEDDI: Who's about to dent your skull! Get out -all of you. Now!
[BOYS make for the exit]
BOY *2: We got time to wait.
BOY *1: We'll get it. We'll get what you got.
BOY *3: Yeah. Silly faggot!
TEDDI: It's a shop. There are no strangers here -just potential customers. Unfortunately most of them come with violent natures.
[TEDDI exits through the drape to get a glass of water. OLIVER looks about the shop]
OLIVER: [distantly] -..nothing is safe from the streets....
TEDDI: [entering; handing OLIVER a glass] I'm prompt as well you see. I open every day- promptly, at this time.
TEDDI: And I still have to set up for our special. We're having a sale on checks today.
TEDDI: Everything comes full circle.. -What's your name?
OLIVER: - ..Oliver.
TEDDI: The world has lost its imagination Oliver. Everyone's turning back to the classics. [He pulls out a few sheets of fabric] Here. It's an original remnant.
OLIVER: Of what?
TEDDI: The bolt Givenchy used for Audrey Hepburn.
OLIVER: And you bought it with that hole?
TEDDI: Quality -only appreciates in value. Like pain.
OLIVER: Yes. [stands- handing back the glass. He takes a few steps towards the door -but can't continue.] Where am I supposed to go?
TEDDI: Across the park?
OLIVER: Not home?
TEDDI: Where's that?
OLIVER: I- I don't remem..-
OLIVER: -..Just..-..is this the dream..-or something else?
TEDDI: -What dream?
OLIVER: ..about forgiveness-
TEDDI: It's getting late.
TEDDI: I'm not a youth hostel -or your mother. And even in my more lachrymose fantasies -I have never laid claim to being a saint.
OLIVER: I can tell.
TEDDI: Then I needn't repeat myself.
[OLIVER returns -sits.]
TEDDI: Oliver- when people are ready to leave a place, they usually rise -make decisive and direct movements towards the exit of the room -possibly wave a tidy good-bye in the entrance -and then proceed with their lives.
OLIVER: Some do I guess.
TEDDI: Shall we give it a try? [raising OLIVER] It was kind of you to drop by. And you say 'Not at all'. And I say, 'We'll have to do it again very soon'. And you say, 'Absolutely. Thank you so much for the drink'. And I say, 'Not at all'. And then -you move on.
[OLIVER is standing in the doorway regarding TEDDI]
OLIVER: ..No. I..need to be here. -I need to be here.
OLIVER: Well..-look at the place. It's a dump..
TEDDI: I beg your pardon.
OLIVER: It's falling apart. Those shelves need fixing -and that excuse for a doorbell needs sorting. This place needs me. How about a job?
TEDDI: How about you leave-
OLIVER: Give me a chance. I could surprise you.
TEDDI: Do I really look like I need one?
OLIVER: I could be a lost Prince.
TEDDI: And I could be Josephine Baker.
OLIVER: Who's to say?