This is a ten minute play I wrote for the 2011 Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival – a fundraiser put on by DRIFTWOOD THEATRE.
The Speech was written on Thursday March 10th – and performed 6 times in front of a rotating audience of approximately 300 people on Friday March 11th. It was performed at Trafalgar Castle, in Whitby, Ontario.
This play is copyright protected. It can be used royalty free, with prior written permission. please contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
TITLE: THE SPEECH
ONE LINE SYNOPSIS: Karen has to give a speech, but isn’t quite ready to speak in public.
DESCRIPTION: Matthew and Karen have made a deal. Matthew will write the speech for the Ladies’ Auxiliary, if Karen will present it. Matthew has fulfilled his part of the deal. Can Karen get over her fear of public speaking in time to carry out her end of the bargain?
Stage – Just prior to the Ladies’ Auxiliary Meeting
KAREN [At the microphone/podium]: I’m scared.
MATTHEW [Behind curtain upstage right]: Do it!
KAREN: But I’m scared. I don’t wanna do it.
MATTHEW [Stomps out to the podium]: Do it! Come on. You’re not even in front of an audience yet. What are you afraid of?
KAREN: Bears. People with bad breath. Bank lines. Trampolines! Sunglasses. Fear itself. Yes. I’m afraid of fear. That’s what scares me the most. And Pancakes. The way they—
MATTHEW: I didn’t ask what scares you in general! I asked what you’re afraid of now. Being on stage? There’s nobody here. What does it matter! Just. Do. It.
KAREN [Covers microphone with hand]: Sshhhhhhh!
MATTHEW: Who are you shushing? The mic isn’t even on and nobody else is here! God, Karen. Get a grip. You have to do this tonight. We have to practice. Do you wanna freeze up here in front of all those people?
KAREN: Aha! I got it! You can be my audience. You’re not helping me up here. Actually, you’re making me think of bears. And bank lines. Would you…do you think you can go out there. You know. Be my audience? My muse.
MATTHEW: That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard of.
KAREN: Please, Matthew.
MATTHEW: Whatever. Okay. [Steps off the stage and takes two or three steps away] Okay. Do it.
KAREN: Not there. Be an audience, Matthew. Spread out.
MATTHEW: I’m one person. How do you suggest I do that?
KAREN: For starters, you can move away from the stage and sit around.
MATTHEW: You do realize I can only sit in one chair at a time, don’t you?
KAREN: You’re not helping me! Be a crowd.
MATTHEW: Again. I am one person.
KAREN: Please. Improvise.
MATTHEW [Walks to the back of the room]: Okay. I’ll be the lady who stepped out to use the toilet. I’ll stand here with my arms folded, angry that I have to wait for you to finish before I can return to my seat. How’s this?
KAREN: Performance anxiety.
KAREN: I can’t make a speech with that woman standing there shooting me daggers. You should see the look on her face!
MATTHEW: I can’t see it, but I can assure you I can feel it!
KAREN: Maybe if you were the guy who, you know, had a bit of a crush on me and just sat there thinking you want to ask me out on a date when I’m finished speaking. You know that guy. Okay. Go. Move over there. And make a face like you can’t wait to take me out for linguini. And wine.
MATTHEW: There aren’t going to be any men in the audience. I think I’ll go back behind the curtain now.
KAREN [Stands straight at the podium]: Good evening, ladies. Thank you for having me here today…
MATTHEW: Thank you!
KAREN: Ooh. That felt good. You know, I always wanted to be an actress! Romeo, Romeo…where forearms bow, Romeo!
MATTHEW [Walking back to the stage]: Wherefore art thou!
KAREN: I’m right here, silly.
MATTHEW: No. The line. It’s Wherefore art thou.
KAREN: You’re so cute when you’re wrong.
MATTHEW: I’m right. I studied Shakespeare in college.
KAREN: And I studied with Johnson. What does that have to do with the price of apricots in New England?
MATTHEW: No. I didn’t study with Shakespeare. I studied Shakespeare. The playwright. William. Shakespeare.
KAREN: How lovely. How is this helping me? You’re not a terribly good audience, Matthew. So far, you played an angry woman with toilet paper clinging to her dress and a not very convincing suitor who didn’t even get to the part where he pines for me and wants to ask me out on a date.
MATTHEW: I’ll be behind the curtain. Can you just do it. [Stomps onto the stage and returns behind the curtain.] Please!
KAREN: You know I’m not good at public speaking. I feel so alone up here.
MATTHEW: You are alone.
KAREN: Thanks. That really helps. The stage just got ten times bigger now. I’m just going to hyperventilate, if you don’t mind.
MATTHEW: The plan, Karen, was that I would write the speech and you would give it. I did my part. It’s your turn.
KAREN: But I’m afraid of bears!
MATTHEW: I’ll make sure we have a bouncer at the door. He’ll be given specific instructions to turn away all bears. On sight.
KAREN: I’m sensing sarcasm.
MATTHEW: No. Really. I’ll print out a mug shot of a bear so there won’t be any room for error.
KAREN: You know what I love about you?
MATTHEW: No. But I’m probably gonna find out.
KAREN: That you could be so mean as to use my fears against me! Next you’ll be hauling out a trampoline. You know what those things do to me.
MATTHEW: I don’t know about that, I kind of get a kick out of them.
KAREN: All that bouncing. Terrifying! Why they ever invented something that can shoot a human being up into the air like that, I’ll never know.
MATTHEW: I heard the inventor was someone in a bank line-up who was bored waiting for their turn with the teller. Rumour has it he was wearing sunglasses at the time. And eating a pancake.
KAREN: How could you!
MATTHEW: The speech, Karen. The speech. If there was an audience out there right now, heads would be lolling. They would all be dying of boredom.
KAREN: That’s just crazy. I’m captivating.
MATTHEW [Comes out to the podium]: Would it make you happy if we just, I don’t know, did some adlibbing? Had some fun at the mic.
KAREN: Romeo, Romeo…
MATTHEW: No. No. Don’t butcher that one again. How about I’m your long lost brother and you’re the millionaire heiress of the man who invented the sticky note.
MATTHEW: No it isn’t. We’re just adlibbing. Anything goes.
KAREN: No. A woman invented the sticky note.
MATTHEW: Oh God. I’m going to die.
KAREN: You can’t die now, brother! You’ve only just come home!
MATTHEW: No. I’m not the brother yet. I mean I’m going to die of frustration. You’re killing me, Karen.
KAREN: But I’m not Karen. Who is this Karen you speak of? I am Juanita Francisca Albertson the third.
MATTHEW: We’re never gonna get this speech out, are we?
KAREN: What speech do you mean, sweet brother. [Goes in to hug MATTHEW.] Oh, but I have missed you all these long years, dear brother. Poppa is two years dead now and poor Momma is in a home for the mentally ill. You’ve missed so much. Where to begin!
MATTHEW: Okay. Stop now. I think you’re ready. Let’s get back to the speech.
KAREN: But Claudio, you must be so upset. Just now hearing of Poppa’s passing. I can’t imagine how you must feel.
MATTHEW: Does murderous ring a bell? Stop now!
KAREN: How am I ever gonna get over my fear of being on a stage if I can’t step into character. And. Act!
MATTHEW: You’re giving a speech to the Ladies’ Auxiliary about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases in the North American bird population.
KAREN: You take the glamour out of everything!
MATTHEW: There is no glamour in diseases, Karen. If you wanted glamour you should have been a beautician. Or an actress.
KAREN: Does Avon count? My mother sells Avon.
MATTHEW: Does it make you feel glamourous?
KAREN: Not especially. Although, the bug spray is rather fragrant.
MATTHEW: Avon makes bug spray?
KAREN: Focus, Matthew. You’re getting away from the speech.
MATTHEW: Oh. I’m sorry. Here I am holding everything back. The guests are due to arrive any minute now and I’ve been talking about bug spray this whole time.
KAREN: Yes, dear. You do have a way of procrastinating.
MATTHEW: Do the speech. Now. Speak into the mic. Enunciate. Raise your voice.
KAREN: Don’t get pushy. [Walks off the stage and goes to the back of the room and faces the stage with her arms spread wide.]
MATTHEW: What are you doing now?
KAREN: I’m visualizing. All politicians do it.
MATTHEW: Get up here.
KAREN: I’m imagining my speech.
MATTHEW: They’re coming soon, Karen. You have to do a run through or you’re gonna bomb in front of all those people.
KAREN: Calm down, Matthew. I’m sure that as long as you keep out the bears, the speech will go off without a hitch.
MATTHEW: Do me a favour and show me that you can do it.
KAREN: Okay, okay. Alright already. Keep your pants on.
[They change places. KAREN goes to the podium and MATTHEW goes to the back of the room]
MATTHEW: On three. One. Two. Three.
[KAREN doesn’t say anything. MATTHEW prompts her with his hands.]
KAREN: Sorry. I thought you were gonna say GO.
MATTHEW [Through gritted teeth]: One. Two. Three.
[KAREN doesn’t say anything. MATTHEW stomps his feet.]
KAREN: Sorry, sorry. So you’re not gonna say go?
MATTHEW [Fast]: One two three GO!
KAREN: That was too fast. I wasn’t ready.
[MATTHEW stomps toward the stage – looking murderous.]
KAREN [Clearly, into the mic.]: Good evening, ladies. Thank you so much for having me here this evening.