So, in my earlier post I mentioned that my Trafalgar24 play this year was a drama. For all seven of my previously produced 10-minute plays I went with comedy. I’ve written drama in full-length. But nobody has seen them but me. I write full length plays…and they are always dramatic. I just don’t do anything with them. I really don’t know what to do with them. I know I still have a lot to learn as far as writing for the stage goes, so I patiently hone my craft by writing one play after the other that never sees the light of day. (-: I am the proverbial monkey pounding away at the typewriter hoping I one day accidentally hit the right keys. I beat on, boats against the current…
Anyway, as I usually do, I am posting my 2014 Trafalgar24 10-minute play here. If you happen to stumble upon this post by google-fuing 10-minute plays, and you would like to use this one…please feel free to do so. I only ask that you email me and ask me ahead of time. I have had a few of my plays posted on this site used in the past, and I love that! I really appreciate KNOWING when they are used, so please shoot me an email at kevintcraig @ hotmail.com. Thanks!
TITLE: The History of Us
SYNOPSIS: Charlie’s snuck off to the library alone again and it’s up to Ben to bring him home safely.
Clothing choice optional…
CHARLIE WILKINS [this character was written for the actor Christopher Kelk]: Suffers from dementia.
BEN [this character was written for the actor Adriano Sobretodo Jr.]: CHARLIE’s son-in-law and one of his caregivers
DESCRIPTION: Charlie’s not quite the man he used to be. Suffering from dementia, he can no longer be trusted to take care of himself. He still manages to get out on his own, though. After searching everywhere for Charlie, Ben finally finds him in the library. Charlie’s latest spell has him obsessing about stars, and the loss of a loved one. If anyone can rescue him, calm him down and bring him safely home, it’ll be his favourite son.
BEN [Rushes into the library, looks through the stacks]: Charlie? You in here, Charlie?
CHARLIE [Studying book spines, seemingly lost. Agitated]: If I could just find… that book. I just, I need to remember… it’s the one with the… with the…
BEN [Approaches CHARLIE from the back of the aisle]: Charlie. Thank God you’re okay. I looked in all your favourite places. I didn’t know where you were—
CHARLIE: I can’t find it. I can’t find the right one. I need that book. You know. The one with the… oh, what is it?
BEN [Puts a hand on CHARLIE’s shoulder]: It’s okay, Charlie. Here. [Hauls over a chair] Please. Sit down. [Gently leads CHARLIE to the chair and helps him sit down]
CHARLIE: You don’t understand. I need to find it. I need that book.
BEN: It’s okay. I’m here now. We can find it together. Whatever it is you’re looking for.
CHARLIE: Well. [Relaxes slightly in the chair] It’s the one with the… about the stars. The starry nights, Ben. Remember. [He’s getting worked up again.] The stars are my story. Our story.
BEN: I remember, Charlie. I’m sure I know the book you mean. You just sit. Let me find it for you. [BEN looks down the aisle CHARLIE was in and finds the book.] It’s gotta be here somewhere. Where is it? It’s around here. I remember this one [Holds it up]. You’ve checked it out before. This is the one, isn’t it?
CHARLIE: That’s my story. The Starry Nights one. That’s it. [He stands and takes the book from BEN, holds it to his chest, relieved.]
BEN: Glad to help, Charlie. Now, remember how we talked about you coming to the library alone.
CHARLIE: Don’t go to the library alone, Charlie. Don’t go alone. David always says that. [Points at BEN] You too. Mother hens.
BEN: That’s right. I said I’d be happy to take you any time. You know how I feel about you, Charlie. All you have to do is ask. I’ll take you wherever it is you want to go.
CHARLIE: Because I’m not smart now, right Ben. Not anymore. I’m not like I used to be. Can’t be trusted now. Charlie’s lost it. He’s whackadoodle.
BEN: You’re plenty smart, Charlie. Stop it. Plenty smart. You’re the smartest guy I know. And I trust you implicitly. I’ll never stop looking up to you.
CHARLIE [Awkwardly hugs BEN]: You’re just saying that, Ben. At least you’re still nice to me. Not like those other two. [Pulls away, focuses back on the book] I used to know the night sky. Everything in it. It was my place in the world. See [pats the cover of the book]. My story. Our story. But I’m not him, right, Ben. [Traces author’s name on the cover] I’m not the guy who wrote this. It’s his book. But it’s our story.
BEN: No. You’re right. You’re Charlie Wilkins. Remember? An amazing man. Super intelligent. You’re my favourite person. Everybody likes Charlie. An astrophysicist who always wanted to be an astronomer.
CHARLIE [points finger in BEN’s face]: Retired!
BEN: Right! A retired astrophysicist. Yes. And you were a teacher too. At U of T. Like you didn’t already have enough to do. A total inspiration.
CHARLIE: And the stars are our life story. The sky. That’s me. It’s me and Maggie.
BEN: Yeah. You taught me everything I know about the universe, Charlie. Every single thing. Shall I continue? You married Maggie. And you have two sons. David and—
CHARLIE: Michael! I know that one. Michael is the other son. He’s married [makes a sour face]. Her name is… it’s something about Daisy. A flower. Her name. And David is with… he’s with… [Looks at BEN, has an aha moment] You’re my son-in-law, Ben. You’re my third son. Number one son, right Maggie?! That’s how she always put it.
BEN: Yes, Charlie. That’s right. David is with me. And remember, you live with us now. You live with David and I. On Calder Street.
CHARLIE: Because Maggie. [Starts to get distraught] Yes. Because Maggie… I miss her.
BEN: It’s okay, Charlie. I’m here. I’ve come to bring you back home. David’s making you something to eat. Wouldn’t that be nice?
CHARLIE [Has an aha moment]: Rose. Her name is Rose. Michael’s wife. Of course. A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet…
BEN: Yes [laughs]. That’s the line Michael always says to Rose. You remember.
CHARLIE [Under his breath]: She smells like disinfectant. Disinfectant, Ben [Makes a face]. Gross.
BEN: Shhh. You know you can’t say things like that when Rose is around, though. Right.
CHARLIE: Well. It’s true. Maggie didn’t like Rose. Thought she was too… too… I can’t remember. Too high something or other.
BEN: Falutin. Yeah. She called her highfalutin. That’s right. See! Your memory’s just fine.
CHARLIE: She liked you. Maggie adored her Ben. Said you were the best thing that ever happened to our family. Ben’s this family’s hero. Our saviour. We should count our lucky stars! She always said that about you. And she loved her stars, Ben. Lucky and otherwise.
BEN: And the two of you were my heroes, Dad. There’s no shortage of hero worship in our family.
CHARLIE: I lost her, haven’t I? [Sits back down in the chair, puts head in hands]. I’ve lost my girl. I don’t know what to do without her.
BEN: Come on now, Charlie. You’ll be okay. It’s early days yet.
CHARLIE [springs up, stomps down the aisle and up the next one over]: Well, you’ve found my night sky book. And the sky’s to be clear tonight. I can go home now. We should leave.
BEN: That’s a good idea. We’ll go home and have something to eat. Then you can get ready to stargaze tonight, okay.
CHARLIE: And David and Maggie can join us. Maggie loves a clear sky. Remember when we were kids? And we’d lay out there all night long? In the Taylors’ backfield. On a clear night we could see Cassiopeia. Remember that, Ben. Maggie’d trace its zigzags with her finger. Just like so.
BEN: But I wasn’t there, Charlie—
CHARLIE: And she’d tell us what everything was. As if I didn’t know. She called the night sky the history of us. The history of us. Ursa Major. Cepheus. Everything. The history. Of us.
BEN: I know. I remember that. She told me that, too. That you and her, you could be found up there. She said you spent so much time looking at the stars that you became a part of them. And she’d sing, right? God, I remember that. Stars fading, but I linger on, Dear…
CHARLIE: You got it, Ben. Maggie was my girl. She’d never fade. Never in a million years. Brightest damn star up there.
BEN [Looks at CHARLIE with pure adoration]: I know, Charlie. You loved each other like nobody else ever loved before. It was your sky.
CHARLIE: Rose and Michael don’t have that.
BEN: Not everyone can have what you and Maggie had.
CHARLIE: But you do. You and David do.
BEN: Maybe, Charlie. Perhaps we do.
CHARLIE: The time we took Michael and Rose up north. Sitting out under that canopy of stars and Maggie shows Rose the Pegasus Constellation. That’s no horse with wings, she said. It’s just a dumb box with a tail. She doesn’t have an ounce of magic in her, that one. Something wrong with her.
BEN: Come on, now, Charlie. Be nice. She’s still your daughter-in-law.
CHARLIE: Well, Maggie says Michael could do better. And I say Maggie’s right.
BEN: I really should get you home now. David’ll be worried.
CHARLIE: Maggie’s gonna show me the night sky tonight. We’ll spread one blanket out on the back lawn for us, and another one beside us for our two little boys. We always do that. They’ll be in their PJs and they’ll fall asleep under all those constellations.
BEN: That sounds really great. I’d love to join you if I could.
CHARLIE: Sure thing, Ben. Once our boys fall asleep, Maggie’ll be happy to show you where everything is up there. But I have to warn you, it’s our story up in that bowl. She’ll tell you straight off, it’s all just a history of us up there.
BEN [Holds CHARLIE’s arm, pats him.]: But remember your boys are all grown up now. That’s okay, though. It’s… It’s been a long day.
CHARLIE [Raises his voice, performs]: When she shall die, take her and cut her out in little stars, and she will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun.
BEN: That’s beautiful.
CHARLIE: Ha. Not me. Shakespeare. That’s Juliet talking about Romeo. But I like to switch it up, because that’s Maggie in a nutshell, Ben. That’s my Maggie.
BEN: Yes it is, Charlie. Absolutely.
CHARLIE: I miss her. I’d like to go home now and be with her. Are you ready to go? I want to go home and be with Maggie now.
BEN: Come on, Charlie. [Takes CHARLIE’s arm in his and walks him out] I’ll take you there.
CHARLIE: Stars fading, but I linger on, dear…