#31plays31days Y6 #31. Your Cruise Director

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Your Cruise Director — A Short Play by Paul Hagen

CANDY, your cruise director, is leading an excited group of new arrivals on a tour of her fabulous ocean liner, The Full Release. Its name is printed in oversize letters on the wall, punctuated by a series of storefronts and portholes.

 

CANDY: I’ll be your cruise director, so relax:

It’s time to let your troubles float on by.

We’ll make sure that you all get drinks and snacks.

 

CANDY leads the group over to the first storefront, a salon labelled “Hairy Situations.”

 

For those who haven’t haven’t had the time to wax,

Our staff’s so gentle you won’t even sigh.

Trust me, your cruise director, just relax.

 

CANDY leads the group to a second storefront, a swim clothing boutique called “Suits to Kill.”

 

Is saggy swimwear showing all your cracks?

Try something sleek that hugs you at the thigh.

But leave some leeway for the drinks and snacks.

 

CANDY leads the group to a third storefront, a combination casino and marijuana dispensary called “Feeling Flush.”

 

A treat for all you Kings and Queens and Jacks!

Come try your luck where Aces get you high.

Your cruise director tokes too, so relax!

 

CANDY leads the group to a fourth storefront, an all you can-eat buffet called “Loosen Up, My Gluttons.”

 

Shrimp cocktail, french fries, pancakes by the stacks:

Your favorite foods — unlimited supply!

You’ll never ever want for drinks and snacks.

 

CANDY leads the group to the final storefront, a brothel called “All Tricked Out.”

 

And naturally we’ll want you to climax

We’re happy to provide a girl or guy.

I’ll be your cruise director, so relax.

We’ll make sure that you all get drinks and snacks.

 

The tour group breaks up, its members excitedly running into the different storefronts. CANDY smiles, pulls a joint from under her nautical cap, lights up, and saunters off to welcome her next group as LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

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#31plays31days Y6 #30. Pop a Cork!

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POP A CORK! – A Short Play by Paul Hagen

 

MAEVE, an Auntie Mame-like figure descends a fabulous staircase into a crowd of revelers.

 

MAEVE: Since life’s a banquet, better grab a fork,

And snatch a bite from each dish as it comes.

Go ‘head and grab a bottle – pop a cork!

 

MAEVE walks up to a painfully thin-looking guest, grabs a big tray of hors d’oeuvres from passing WAITER, and begins shoving food into her mouth.

 

Let’s stuff our faces with the finest pork!

Let’s scarf until there’s nothing left but crumbs!

If life’s a banquet, better grab a fork!

 

MAEVE hands the tray to the thin girl and moves on — grabbing a bottle from a passing WAITER She walks up to an evidently pregnant guest, tosses out her non-alcoholic drink, refills the glass with champagne and hands it back to the pregnant woman.

 

Let’s drink like we’re done waiting for the stork!

Let’s pickle baby like the Japs do plums!

Go ‘head and grab a bottle – pop a cork!

 

MAEVE finds a fat man sitting on the couch, grabs a cream puff from a nearby tower of desserts and squeezes the cream out onto her finger, teasing him by waving it around just out of reach of his mouth.

 

Let’s live like Liza sings, “New York, New York”!

Let’s shake like Congra players at their drums!

If life’s a banquet, better grab a fork!

 

MAEVE denies the fat man, eating the cream herself and crawls over him, discovering a couple in the midst of making out and plopping herself down right in the middle of them.

 

Let’s party like we’re Mickey fucking Rourke!

Get higher than the dope queens in the slums!

Go ‘head and grab a bottle – pop the cork!

 

MAEVE kisses each half of the couple and then stumbles over to an ice bucket from which she grabs a fresh bottle of champagne and hands it to a muscular party guest who begins to work at the top with his fingers.

 

Let bust that bad boy open! It takes torque!

Yeah, buddy, put your back into those thumbs!

If life’s a banquet, better grab a fork!

Go ‘head and grab a bottle – pop the cork!

 

There is a loud pop and an impressive gush assthe bottle finally opens, but the cork flies and hits MAEVE in the head. She drops to the ground. LIGHTS OUT.

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#31plays31days Y6 #29. Playing with the Clock

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PLAYING WITH THE CLOCK – A Short Play by Paul Hagen

 

We are in a futuristic science lab built around a large, empty glowing platform. Suddenly, it emits a high-pitched whine and a blinding blast of light, and FUTURE TIMOTHY appears on the platform dressed in a shimmering, skin-tight jumpsuit with wraparound sunglasses that glow neon blue.

 

TIMOTHY: It’s tricky when you’re playing with the clock,

The consequences can be quite extreme.

Be careful, you may get a nasty shock.

 

The platform flashes again and FUTURE TIMOTHY disappears but is quickly replaced by CAVEMAN TIMOTHY, who wears a crude fur loincloth and carries a crudely-carved club.

 

You. May. Need. To. Hit Something. With. Big. Rock.

And. It. Might. Hit. You. Back. Or. Make. Big. Scream.

It’s. Tricky. When. You’re. Playing. With. The. Clock.

 

The platform flashes and CAVEMAN TIMOTHY is replaced by ANCIENT ROMAN TIMOTHY, dressed in a toga and crowned with laurels.

 

And like the lone wolf on the path you walk.

Where enemies, at first, like allies seem.

Be careful, you may get a nasty shock.

 

The platform flashes and ANCIENT ROMAN TIMOTHY is replaced by VICTORIAN SOLDIER TIMOTHY — all brass buttons and medals of honor and sporting an elaborate hat.

 

The rules of war — some follow and some mock.

Some meet you head on; some will hide and scheme.

It’s tricky when you’re playing with the clock.

 

The platform flashes and VICTORIAN SOLDIER TIMOTHY is replaced by ROARING ‘20s TIMOTHY — sporting a striped suit and boater hat and zippy affect.

 

You may hide treasures underneath a rock.

With riches you’ll retrieve to fund your dream.

Be careful, you may get a nasty shock.

 

The platform flashes and ROARING ‘20s TIMOTHY is replaced by HIPPIE ‘60s TIMOTHY — splendid (and perhaps a bit stoned) in faded jeans and beads and a dashiki.

 

And if you run into yourself, take stock:

Are you as good as you thought you would seem?

It’s tricky when you’re playing with the clock.

Be careful, you may get a nasty shock.

 

The platform flashes HIPPIE ‘60s TIMOTHY is replaced by FUTURE TIMOTHY. He wipes his brow and steadies himself against the side of the platform before deciding to step off and exits as lights slowly begin to fade. The platform flashes one last time. LIGHTS OUT.

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#31plays31days Y6 #28. Taking Niagara

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TAKING NIAGARA – A Short Play by Paul Hagen

 

SNAPPY is standing on The Maid of the Mist, the famous ferry that allows tourists to approach Niagara Falls. He is wearing a cheap blue poncho and has out his phone to take pictures of the falls.

 

SNAPPY:It can really be frustrating, when you’re on the boat and waiting,

Waiting for the perfect picture of the churning wall of foam

It can be intimidating, trying to be calculating,

When and from what angle you can grab a photo on your phone.

You may spend some time debating: are we still accelerating?

Shall we wait until we’re stiller to snap something to take home?

 

SNAPPY takes a few pictures on his phone but then shakes his head in disappointment when he examines them.

 

Yes, it can be somewhat grating seeing failures aggregating

One more fuck-up and I just might end up letting out a groan.

Still I keep on concentrating, gauging and recalculating,

While I’m staring at what’s falling wildly down a wall of stone.

Maybe they’ll be fascinating later when evaluating

Compared to the good ones I’ll show to everyone I’ve ever known.

 

SNAPPY raises his phone again, but is forced to lower it by the onslaught of a huge cloud of mist. He has to shout even louder to be heard over the sound of the Falls.

 

God, I feel so stuck debating whether there’s too much gyrating

Water in the air. I guess I’ll hold until I’m past this zone.

If I don’t, I’ll end up hating all of my commemorating,

It will look like nothing – ragged rectangles as white as bone.

But once the ship’s done rotating, it will be exhilarating.

I’m know I’ll be glad in the end I decided to postpone.

 

SNAPPY wipes the moisture out of his eyes and pushes back his hood as the mist begins to recede but he’s starting to look a bit the worse for wear.

 

Soon the mist must be abating at least enough for creating

Proof that nothing stops me – fearlessly I, through the world, did roam,

Boating may be nauseating but it’s not excruciating

Many have survived much worse than this sad seasickness syndrome,

Not wholly debilitating — though it may be complicating

Getting the right picture that I’ll treasure later when I’ve flown.

 

The mist clears dramatically and SNAPPY is suddenly able to see the Falls with perfect clarity. He is awed by his own photographic prowess!

 

Trust me, I’m not just placating, at last focus I’m locating,

Finally, the shots I wanted! Finally the falls have shown!

Wow! This is illuminating! More than I’d been speculating!

I cannot believe my luck! Just look at this — my mind is blown!

It woulda been humiliating — really, really devastating,

If I came and didn’t get a picture—

 

SNAPPY phone slips out of his grip and over the edge of the boat.

 

—shit! I dropped my phone!!
SNAPPY looks forlornly over the edge as LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

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#31plays31days Y6 #27. The Lady Is Crying

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THE LADY’S CRYING – A Short Play by Paul Hagen

 

FREEDOM enters, dressed in a shimmering array of stars and stripes. She is standing at the base of the statue of liberty.

 

FREEDOM: Somewhere beyond the harbor of a massive, shining city

A lady stands – now old and green – but in her way so pretty

She’s watching over all the people that she’s long protected.

And she’s got some concerns about someone whom they elected.

He found his way to power like a bully, talking smack;

He had a problem with the fact the President was black.

He said that President was not industrious enough;

So when he got to office, he mostly played golf and stuff.

He shared his strong concern that Mexicans might soon invade us.

And those who disagreed with him, well, he tried to persuade us:

That he was not afraid of them because their skin was brown,

That in his orange mind white’s always up while dark is down;

But it’s tough not to feel when Nazis wave signs with his name

That he does not feel similarly or, perhaps, the same.

Especially since it’s not all foreigners that he’s afraid of,

The paler ones in Russia — he seems to like what they’re made of.

Meanwhile, at home he cheers when Congress tries to tank health care

For people who are poor or really who need it anywhere.

His staffing efforts also have left many quite frustrated,

Of late it seems they’re mostly fired or related.

But, hey, it’s just our massive military he commands:

He might decide their lives and deaths — or discharge, if they’re trans.

He moans the media’s the thing that makes him seem so mad.

But all it takes is his own words to make her feel so sad.

 

FREEDOM points up to the statue, taking a long slow look at her before looking back at the audience.

 

There’s a lady in the harbor of a proud and diverse city,

Where many think the fact he calls it home is kind of shitty.

They named her after liberty and liberty is dying.

They say if you look closely, you might even see her crying.

 

FREEDOM disappears. LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

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#31plays31days Y6 #26. The Fowl Trick

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THE FOWL TRICK – A Short Play By Paul Hagen

 

Lightning illuminates an abandoned railway car, in which sits CHARLIE — a middle-aged gentleman in a rain-splattered trench coat and fedora. Roused from quiet contemplation by a rolling thunder, he stumbles center stage looking rather frazzled.

 

CHARLIE: I don’t know how long ago, I’ve lost all track of time,

Since someone did this to me — this truly heinous crime.

But I will tell the story of what happened, that I’ll do.

In hopes that no one someday does the same damn thing to you.

I was walking one night through a none-too-wealthy part of town:

Mostly I was moving forward, keeping my head down

When suddenly a creature in a window caught my eye.

I stopped there in my tracks. I had to. I will tell you why:

She was seated in a storefront window, with a sparkling curtain,

Staring out into the street — she seemed determined, just so certain

That once she caught my eye I’d enter, and that’s what I did.

There was something that I had to see, that in her lap she hid.

“What have you got there?” I wondered after stumbling in the door,

Even though I wasn’t really sure what I’d gone in there for.

Why I needed it revealed to me, I didn’t understand,

Then she pulled it from her garment and I saw it in her hand:

At first I thought: This can’t be real — this lovely little thing

But then it turned its face up at me and began to sing.

It trilled and tittered, I was charmed by every chirp and peep

It seemed to beg me: “Take me home!” I watched it squirm and leap

From one hand to the other of the strange, shadowy lady

I asked, her “Will you sell it to me?” though she seemed quite shady.

“I will,” she whispered in a rasp that struck me as quite queer.

“Except it’s very special; so the price is rather dear.”

“It’s just a little bird,” I said. “How pricey can it be?”

“It’s more than just a bird. It’s magic. Watch and you will see.”

With that the bird – who was a rather shocking shade of pink

Became a bold bright blue within the quickness of a blink.

Now that was something that I’d never seen a birdie do.

“But how?” I asked. “I wished for it,” she answered. “So can you.”

And in that moment all these possibilities occurred

The things that I could do if it were my wish-granting bird.

She quoted me a price I found to be, frankly, too high.

I handed her my credit card. “Declined,” she said. “But why?”

I asked. “Have you another card, perhaps?” I had a debit.

“Put in your pin and that should do — since you can’t use your credit.”

I did. She said, “That’s incorrect. Perhaps you could pay cash?”

I emptied out my wallet; she took the entire stash.

And she caged up the birdie, who still seemed to be quite mellow

And by this point had turned a fascinating shade of yellow.

Concerned my cards had not gone through I rushed into the night

Realized I’d left my gloves, I turned – the store was gone from sight

And furthermore, to heighten my alarming state of plight,

The bird had lost all color — now a dull and greyish white.

I tried to call an Uber but it wouldn’t take my card.

And neither would the ATM. I took it pretty hard.

So angrily I called my credit company about

The situation and they said that my card was maxed out.

And desperately I called my bank, for I now feared a con.

They told me my account had been already overdrawn.

Wearily I started walking home, then came the rain.

I wandered here into this railyard, feet aching in pain.

I fell asleep here, on this dusty old cargo car’s floor.

When I awoke after a while my whole body was sore

And then I noticed somehow — on the bird’s crate — that the door

Was open, the bird: gone! I cursed that woman and her store!

For now I had no cash, no credit, my phone’s charge was dead!

How could I let this happen? Had I no sense in my head?

 

CHARLIE hangs his head in shame, takes a handkerchief out of his pocket and wipes his brow before addressing the crowd again.

 

So if you’re ever in a none-too-wealthy part of town,

And someone tries to sell you something strange, please turn them down.

Don’t give away your credit card or pin — it could be theft!

Don’t give away your cash — it might be all that you have left!

And if you see a woman in a window — don’t you go!

And if you see my birdie — well… I hope you’ll let me know.

 

CHARLIE picks up an empty cage and begins to looks forlornly around the railcar for his missing bird as LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

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#31plays31days Y6 #25. A Fart in Church

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A FART IN CHURCH – A Short play by Paul Hagen

 

BEULA exits the doors of the church, fanning herself with the weekly bulletin.

 

BEULA: I wore my nicest hat, my nicest dress, my nicest gloves,

And on my arm, my second-nicest purse.

I had my hair all did up nice, ‘cause you know Jesus loves

You so much more when you look nice for church.

The temperature was lovely and just right for early May

The flowers blooming on the silver birch.

The sky was blue, the sun was bright, it was a perfect day,

Right up until it came: a fart in church.

My lady friends said nice things ‘bout my outfit as I entered

I was so glad I made the choice to splurge.

It made me feel so stylish and that made me feel so centered

The perfect way to feel when starting church.

But little did they know the stink that was about to happen:

They’d smell it and then to the doors they’d surge.

That familiar butt-trumpeting that comes just before crappin’ –

And it would happen right there in that church.

The moment, mercifully, came somewhere quite late in the service

In slo-mo, I could feel my cheeks diverge.

And even in those seconds I did get a little nervous

About the egg that I would lay in church.

I thought that it might make a toot and that would leave me blushing;

I had nt clue yet what was to emerge.

A vile thing — like several old jalopies all backfiring

Real resonant was that big fart in church.

But still the worse was yet to come, the thing that sent them running:

That left the folks behind me in a lurch.

And when I smelled it — I admit that it was pretty stunning:

The stink that came off from that fart in church.

It smelled like something left to mold in water but then fried:

Like waste from scientific strange research,

Like I’d grabbed animals that crawled up in my wall and died

And stuffed ‘em in my ass and went to church.

The congregation started — ooh — to gag and some just fled

The final hymn felt like a funeral dirge.

And ain’t nobody stick around for coffee hour to spread

The usual gossip that goes around after church.

I let them all go first — it was the least that I could do;

And now I’m glad to finally emerge

And take me one last look around, realizing what I would do:

I’m gonna need to find another church.

 

BEAULA looks lovingly up at the church — letting out a long and sonically varied burst of flatulence as she does — and LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK.

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