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"Hangers”
by
Alison Parham

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Deborah Bryant

The Bureau of Surrealist Research
(excerpt from play currently in development)

CHARACTERS

                            SEARCHER                  man, 30 – 50 years of age                       

                            THE GREY LADY        woman, 70 – 90 years of age                  

TIME AND PLACE
Present Day.  Harbor town on a rugged French island in the Bay of Biscay.

 

 

                                                                        (At rise.  Set may be minimal.)

                                                           SEARCHER
I came looking.  Looking for something that was not, not what I was looking for.  It didn’t sit right with me, when I would walk down the boney roads of that small harbor town.  There was nothing in the visual field that stood upright.  Telephone poles, streetlights, mail boxes all pivoting around their own invisible axes.  My stomach, always a little queasy.  The dwellings all seemed to take cover against the slope of a dune or the shin of a crag.  And the people.  Something about the people bracing against the relentless wind.  How many times do you need to be blown through before you come to know that this land doesn’t want you?  I was running enveloped.  I couldn’t outrun it.  I flailed and kicked, dove; couldn’t fight my way out of it.  It was freakish.  All that agitation and churning had formed it.  “Don’t fight it!”, the voice said.  And I stopped.  It lapped up every part of me, then moved onward without me.

                                                         THE GREY LADY
It just wants a taste of you.

                                                              SEARCHER
I feel violated.

                                                         THE GREY LADY
You’ll get used that feeling.  (Beat.)  I’ve seen you.

                                                              SEARCHER
No.

                                                         THE GREY LADY
Yes, I’ve seen you.  (Beat.)  Don’t worry your secret’s safe.

                                                              SEARCHER
I’m not hiding.

                                                         THE GREY LADY
Are you not, now?  (Beat.)  House is just up the path.  Come in for some mead.

                                                              SEARCHER
No, thanks.  I’ve––

                                                          THE GREY LADY
Got someplace to be?

                                                              SEARCHER
(Pause.)  D’accord.  I think I will.  Come in for some mead.

                   (They walk up a path.  THE GREY LADY stops at the door.)

                                                          THEY GREY LADY
May I enter, House?  (Listens.)

                                                               SEARCHER
Pardon, but I think . . . I’ve changed my mind, I really must go–––

                                                           THE GREY LADY
Shhh!   (Beat.)  He seems a goodly sort.  Had a run in with the foam.  (Listens.)  Oh, bless and keep you, House.

                                                                SEARCHER
Do you . . . Do you have to do that every time you leave or enter?

                                                           THE GREY LADY
It’s no bother at all.  (Beat.)  Go sit by the fire.  (She ladles two pints of mead.)  If you’re going to make a go of it here, you’ll need to get out of your head and learn to read the wind and sea.

                                                                SEARCHER
I don’t know if I’ll be staying.

                                                            THE GREY LADY
Well, yes.  It’s not for everyone.

                                                                SEARCHER
How do you manage?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
I’ve got my wits and I’ve got House; don’t need much more.

                                                                SEARCHER
How long have you had  (Pause.)  House?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
Oh, I think he washed up in fifty-three.

                                                                SEARCHER
Washed up?  From the sea?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
Mmm, yes.  Few of the houses washed up throughout the years.  Mullumbimby–The–Drunk got his in seventy-nine.  You stick around long enough, one’ll wash up for you.

                                                                SEARCHER
An entire house?  Full, intact?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
Yes.

                                                                SEARCHER
Where do they come from?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
I don’t rightly know.  They just show up.  House here, arrived with the furniture still inside.  I watched him from shore.  Pulling in.  Pulling out.  Pulling in, and pulling so far out, I thought he’d moved on.  When I came up the path next morning, there he was creaking lightly as he settled into the dune, door wide open.  Waiting for me.

                                                                SEARCHER
This sounds . . . You know what this sounds like?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
That there’s more to this life than is agreed upon.

                                                                SEARCHER
What makes you think House won’t cast off to a new land?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
To be sure it will happen.  Go look in those drawers.

                                    (SEARCHER looks in cabinet and drawers.)

                                                                SEARCHER
A uniform.

                                                            THE GREY LADY
An habit à la française from Napoleon’s Bataillon de Guerre.

                                                                SEARCHER
From?  From the . . . –––

                                                            THE GREY LADY
1806.

                                                                SEARCHER
No.

                                                            THE GREY LADY
Yes.

                                                                SEARCHER
This one has seed jars and a packet with children’s teeth.

                                                            THE GREY LADY
1931.

                                                                SEARCHER
You’re saying that they were already there?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
I didn’t put them there.

                                                                SEARCHER
Do you have a drawer?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
Yes.

                                                                SEARCHER
(Expectant pause.)

                                                            THE GREY LADY
I suppose you want to know what’s in it.

                                                                SEARCHER
Yes.

                                                            THE GREY LADY
All I own really–––a nightgown and words on paper wrapped in baker’s twine.

                                                                SEARCHER
Love letters.

                                                            THE GREY LADY
A letter.  Written.  Thought.  But never spoken. 

                                                                SEARCHER
May I see this letter?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
No, Monsieur.  It is for me alone.

                                                                SEARCHER
It is for you alone, or for you alone?

                                                            THE GREY LADY
It is not for you.

                                                                SEARCHER
It is you, Madame, who’ve prompted me to enter House, to look through the cabinet, to look through the drawers.  You, who invited my curiosity.

                    (THE GREY LADY considers this, then opens a
                     drawer, removes the letter and gives it to SEARCHER.
                     SEARCHER removes the twine, opens and reads the letter                      silently, then reads aloud.)

                                                                SEARCHER

“Ma moitié,

You are waiting for me in Gare Saint-Lazare, at the beginning.  You have only minutes before I arrive.  The word love is a placeholder for what I have for you.  I am consumed.  But, I would give my life to save yours.  And so I do.  The neuf quarante-cinq to Lyon will give us life, but you shall become another.  Another version of you, oui.  The one who bears this letter is free, is particle and light.  Take any train, save Lyon, to let her live.

DEBORAH BRYANT – is both a playwright and actor and has appeared in productions with Cabrillo Theatre, Friends of Gus, Actors’ Theatre, Willing Suspension Armchair Theatre  and Northern Castle Theater for Children.  As a writer she seeks to engage a diverse audience with original work and is supported by colleagues in Santa Cruz’s Monday Night Playwrights. Her play The Mooring won the 2013 Bay Area Full-Length Play contest .

In Celebration of the Muse
Brianna Barreto
Donna Becker
Deborah Bryant
Ruth Elliott
Susan Freeman
Patricia Grube
Diane Dobrin Grunes
Geneffa Popatia Jonker
Sylvia Patience
Jennifer Pittman
Bernice Rendrick
Dena Taylor
Louise Thornton
Patrice Vecchione
Renee Winter
J. Zimmerman

Rosie King for Tilly Shaw

Barbara Bloom for Joan Safajek

Featured Artist
Alison Parham

 

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