Theater Words offers royalty free plays and scenes, plays for women, plays for Black actors, African American plays, plays with gay themes, ten minutes plays, scenes, plays for children, plays for small theater groups, created by the Performing Arts Department of The Shipley School.
When Lilacs Last
CONTAINS MATURE LANGUAGE AND SUBJECT MATTER.
Two young men confront their sexuality. Brendan, school
athlete, three sport champion and son of an abusive alcoholic father speaks to us directly and introduces us to his world. Jackie, a highly
verbal and intelligent young man losses himself to the poetry of Walt
Whitman. Jackie's father, a blue collar bridge worker locks out the world. To
protect his family from the "Commies, the Coloreds, the Queers and the
Jews," he keeps a gun. He finds a copy of "Leaves of Grass" in his son's room
& suspects his son's sexual inclination. He will kill Jackie
rather than see him queer. Brendan's home: all to please an alcoholic and
abusive father. Brendan must pass a poetry test to play in a game. Brendan
seeks the help of Jackie and discovers something that draws him to
Jackie's company. Brendan's team mates harass him for hanging around with
faggots. They attack Jackie with intense verbal violence. Jackie
returns home in torment. He finds his father's gun. He loads it. Suddenly,
Brendan calls to him from outside. Jackie puts down the gun. Brendan appeals
to Jackie for forgiveness. As he explains his regret he reveals that
he has been looking for someone like himself. Jackie is taken aback and notes
that he is not gay. But Brendan has already revealed himself and
collapses in anguish at Jackie's feet begging not to be disclosed. Jackie
raises Brendan from the floor. At that moment Jackie's father enters. He sees
the two boys and picks up the gun. In the heat of the moment he will
kill his own son. Brendan grabs the gun and runs from the house. Brendan
alone. We see and hear the same tormentors that repeat , "We don't want no
faggots, no homos, no queers, 'round here." Brendan fires the
WHEN LILACS LAST A Play in a
Cast: JACK O'Donnell MARIE O'Donnell JACKIE O'Donnell,
JIMMY Conlin BRENDAN Conlin, his son
CHORUS of Men
and Women. The Chorus parts in this script are set up for four men and four
women but the lines may also be distributed according to need. In
the optimum casting, in addition to the adult chorus, there would be a chorus of
teenagers. __________________________________________________ Note on the
text. The text is written in dialect. What may look like misspellings are
attempts to capture the working class Philadelphia speech. Thus, "himself" is rendered "hisself", "you" (plural) is "yous," "contradict" is
Production Notes. The set for this piece should be
kept at an absolute minimum. Furnishings should be no more than simple wood
chairs and stools painted black. There may also be a simple black wood
table. The curtain warmer might be a black and white projection of the Walt
Whitman Bridge. The only other projection is "Philadelphia,
1955." Costuming as well should be simple. 1950 type clothing may be
suggested by t-shirts, jeans, and "house coats" available anywhere.
Proper lighting is essential. All backgrounds should be kept at pale
silver blues. Characters speaking lit accordingly. The Chorus would be best
placed below the action on the stage. They should face forward towards the
audience, even though the character to whom they may be speaking is
behind them. _____ Lighting
X X ( over table and chairs)
(DSL) _____________________________________________________________________________ Apron
speaking lit accordingly. All monologues are delivered directly to the
audience. When Brendan calls for Jackie, Brendan stands facing out DSL.
Jackie stands facing out DC. The Chorus would be best placed below the
action on the stage. They should face forward towards the audience, even though
the character to whom they may be speaking is behind
The stage. There is no curtain. Before the play begins, we see
: The back wall shows a projection, black and white, of the Walt Whitman
bridge. On stage we see: Stage right - a simple wooden table with a
chair on each side, facing DS. Behind the table is a small stool or table that
holds the only props needed: a six case of bottled beer and a stage
Just before the play begins the image of the bridge fades
to a projection that reads:
character ( BRENDAN) appears in silhouette. The words then begin to fade,
as they do, his silhouette emerges from the back wall. It is
BRENDAN: (first down stage on the apron,
then descending to out on the floor just ahead of the chorus, before the
audience.) Where you are now The place where you are now leave it
behind. Leave it behind and come with me. Come with me to where I
live. Come with me to a different time. A different place. This is
Philadelphia. South Philadelphia. South Philadelphia,
1955. (beat) Philadelphia (beat) Penn's city of Brotherly
love. Brotherly love. Philadelphia (beat) So, let me tell you this
story. Let me tell you. A story you may know It may even be your
story Your story with different names. Your story at a different
time But still, The same story. (beat) Do you know this
world? Or even just a part of it? Did you know this world? Did you know
it? But choose to forget it? Was this you? Is this what you
said? Were these your words? But have you forgotten? Is that what you
chose to do? Chose to forget the shame? Chose to forget the
truth? (beat) Have you hidden it? Have you forgotten
it? (beat) But, It's not forgotten. Not forgotten. (beat) It
will not let itself be forgotten. Not let itself be forgotten Because it
is beyond you. Beyond the world you create. Beyond the world you want it
to be. There is another world. A world you close your eyes to. A world
you will not hear A world you will not speak of. But, But, still. It
is a crying voice A crying voice. ( half beat) An endless voice It
speaks in all times It speaks in all worlds It speaks of all our
children. (beat) But wait. (beat) Before we tell you,. Before we
tell you this story. There is one thing I need to ask Just one
thing, One thing I need to ask. I need to ask you. Need to ask
you. Not to judge. Please, I ask you. Please, don’t judge. Don't
judge this world. Yes, We want to judge. Yes, I
know. Judging. Weighing. Taking stock. It's what we do. It's how
we measure. How me measure ourselves against others.
To some we say
“yes” To some we say “no”.
So easy to do. Not a moment’s
Here in my space. Here where I stand,.. You are
right. You are wrong. You are like me. You are different. You, I
accept. You, I reject. That's what we do. But, this was our
world. This is what we knew. This is what we thought. This is what we
said. Our words are not always words we want to hear. What we did was not
always do the right thing to do. But this was our world. (beat) Stay
with me for a moment. Let our voices speak. Let them speak Perhaps our
voices are not unlike your own. So, when you hear them You may
ask: (beat) Don’t I know them?
SCENE (Lights up on first the
CHORUS Leader as he begins his narration then - gradually revealing the
First time down this street? First time
on this block? Brick homes. Row homes. Philly homes. City of
homes. Bricks Red bricks Houses of bricks Shoulder to
shoulder Rib to rib. One window out front One window out back A view
of the alley A view of the street Row homes Brick homes A white
CHORUS 1.White kids 2. Black kids 3. Pollacks,
4. Daygos and Jews (Daygos=Italians.) 1.Coloreds and Mics ( Mics=
Irish) 2. Unloaded the ships 3. Unloaded the stocks 4.Stole from the
hold 1.A fifth from the box. 2. And then the others 3. The others with
skills 4. They shimmied the iron 1. And bolted the beams 2. Over the
river 3. They mastered the steel 4. Over the water 1. They fashioned
the bridge. 2. Under the bridge they work the docks. 3. Under the bridge
the load the ships. 4. The rivets 1. The girders 2. The
(Women step out of the mix and move down and left. Men remain
behind.) Women only
1. Our men
3. Our fathers
4. Our sons
Father to son
2. Brother to brother
2. Steel and iron.
3. Father and son.
Man to man.
(Men now step down and right.) MEN ONLY 1. This is our
2. This is our block.
3. These are our wives.
These are our kids.
1. An ' we built that bridge.
2. We work them
3. We climbed them girders.
4. We weld that
1. We sweat on that bridge.
2. Men died on that
3. And what yous gonna name it?
4. "Walt Whitman
ALL: (loudly) Walt Whitman?!!
( A Priest steps out of
PRIEST: "Walt Whitman ? "A bridge is a beautiful and
graceful structure that thrusts heavenward then descends again to security to
the opposite bank." (break) Whitman? (beat) Walt
Whitman? (beat) A poet? Godless and selfish, (beat) This man's
life and works are personally objectionable to us, This, …. This
… homo-erotic Revolting works revolting imagery that is not
confined but permeates... permeates the fetid whole."
(In the next
exchange, Men and Women stir into a mix and speak as one.)
speaking together.) (heavily ) Not in our city! (they stomp feet in
unison.) Not in our homes! (they stomp again.) NOT IN OUR CITY! NOT
IN OUR HOMES!
BRENDAN: This is his house. Jackie's
house. A row home like mine A brick home like mine His father, like
mine. Worked on the bridge, like mine. (semi beat) His
mom, Well, His mom was there. (semi beat) That's not like
mine. My mom left left when my dad came back. Came back from the
war. Or, that's what they tell me. (beat) But Jackie's dad, like my
dad, Went to work every morning Came home every night Every night with
the paper Under his arm the paper. In his hand the lunch box. The empty
(Lights up on JACK, JACKIE's father. He enters the kitchen
after his day on construction at the new bridge. In the kitchen ( suggested)/ His wife, MARIE, is preparing dinner. JACK enters with his
lunch box, newspaper. )
JACK: Yo, Marie. Marie, Ahm
home. (beat) God damn, lock. Gotta fix 'at lock. (beat) Be sure
you keep 'at door locked, Marie. Keep it locked. Never know who's tryin'
ta get in here. All kinds out 'ere on na street. ( out there on there
street.) Ya never know. ( he hands her his lunch box. He takes off his
jacket. JACK takes off his shoes and rubs his feet.) MARIE: How was yer
lunch, Jack? OK? JACK: What was that you give me? MARIE: Oh, somthin'
new. JACK: Somethin' new? MARIE: Yeh, I made ya salami. A salami
sammich. JACK: What? MARIE: Salami,. (beat) JACK: What? MARIE:
Salami, Jack. (beat) Eye-talian salami. I got it down at the
corner. Down at Fiorelli’s. you know. The eye-talian. the eye-talian
on the corner. JACK: that guinea wop? Prob'ly in the mob. MARIE:
Well, he says to me. (beat) Mrs. O Donnel. You always take the same
thing. You come in every week an' you say " pound of Baloney" Mr.
Fiorelli." or "pound of Ham", Mr Fiorelli'" Then he said. Somethin'
monkey talk, Somthin' in Eye-talian' You know How they do. Then he
sez "Sama t'ing's not good all da time." (semi beat) How 'bout if I
sugges some-a-tin differen?" (beat) So, I says. You know, My
Jack, He likes his sammich (sandwich) the way I makes it. That's what he
likes. (semi beat) Then he says. "How 'bout some-a-tin new?" JACK:
New? MARIE: So, I sez. OK. OK, Mr Fiorelli. Let's try "some-a-tin
new. " (beat) So, he gives me 'at 'er salami/ ( that there
salami) An' I put it in yer sammich. (in your sandwich) Nice man, that
Fiorelli. JACK: Well, don't get it no more. MARIE: Why not, Jack? JACK:
jus' don' get it no more, All that greaseball stuff. That greaseball
stuff gets me here ( he thumps his stomach with his fist). Right here.
(again) Ya know. (beat) Don't buy it no more. MARIE: ya didn' like
it? JACK: No, I didn’ like it. Jus' stick with the ham. The ham an'
the baloney, MARIE. An you can leave out the cheese too. Gives me
gas. MARIE: Sure, Jack. Jus' ham an' b'loney. JACK: An' be sure I get a
TastyKake. How many times I tol' you ' that. MARIE: But I gave you
TastyKakes. JACK: Yeh, but not 'em chocolate ones. They stick in yer
mouth. The roof a' yer mouth. Gi' me 'em Krimpets or 'em ones with
somthin' innem. You know, the ones wit' the jelly or the cream. MARIE:
Sure, Jack, sure. I'll get 'em jus' for you. (beat) So, how'd it go today
Jack? I seen yer almos' to the cenner of the bridge. JACK: They was back
again today. MARIE: Who was back again? JACK: You know.. all them
people people shoutin' and screamin' them people carryin' them
signs. MARIE: Ya mean about what they's callin' the bridge? JACK: Yeh,
about what they's callin' it (beat). Even had a priest with
'em Yeh, Some priest. But ya know. Ya know what? They're
right. They're right, Marie. I don't go for that protestin' stuff But
they're right. (beat) Ya know, I take my life in my hands ev'ry day up
them beams. Ev'ry day. MARIE: Yeh, I know. JACK: Up them beams ta drive
in them rivets. Up on them beams.... (beat) Fellas even get
killed Know what I mean? Fellas get killed. 'Member that Pollock
guy? What was his name? (beat) MARIE: I don' remember Jack. JACK:
Belinski. (beat) Yeh, Belinski. That's it. That was his name.
Belinski. Went to the Pollock Church. Always eatin' that smelly
sausage in his lunch. Boy, did that stink! (half beat) That fella left
three kids. Three kids, Marie. Know what I mean? Yah know? (half
beat) Fellas get killed. They get killed. An' their gonna call this
bridge after some freakin' poet pansey? Some poet pansey! What the
hell? (Jack opens his newspaper.) (reading the paper) Look at this
crap. What the hell's wrong with this country? What the hell they
doin'? Look at this! Jus' look at this! (beat) What's this colored
woman on a bus? Coloreds on buses! Who wants to read about coloreds on
busses? Oughtta know their place. Always makin' trouble. Oughtta know
their place. Damn cullerds.!
_Ya know, Ev'ry body's got a place. A place. Know what I
mean? (beat) (He turns to the sports page.) Cripes! Look at
this! Even baseball ain't sacred It ain't sacred I tell ya. Look what
they're doin'. What they doin' to our team. Philly
team (beat) Athalectics ( note: the Philadelphia pronunciation of
Athletics is "athaletics.") Athaletics off to God knows
Kansas Philadelphia Athletics. (beat) -Philadelphia - not
Kansas. (beat) Ya hear me, Marie? Where's fuckin'
Kansas? (semi-beat) Ain't nothin' makes sense. The whole country’s
goin’ ta hell inna han’basket.
MARIE: Kansas, Yeh, Kansas,
JACK, Kansas. You know. You know, Dorothy You know, Judy
Garland. Judy Garland and that little dog. That little dog. What was
his name?? The little dog and the midgets and the witch. (MARIE starts to
sing off key.) "Somewhere, over the rainbow...." JACK: (JACK joins
in the final notes and continues:) "Over the
rainbow...." (beat) Rainbows. Yeh. Rainbows. Right. Rainbows
an' midgets. No wonder the kid's the way he
is. (beat) MARIE: Toto!
JACK: (JACK pays no
attention.) That kid should be out workin' MARIE: That's his
JACK: Should be out after school makin’ a penny for
hisself. MARIE: Toto! (JACK ignores MARIE.) JACK: Ta hell inna
han’basket. (beat) Why ain’t he home yet? Why ain't he home yet
MARIE : I don’t know. What time is it?
MARIE: After five already? (she looks at the kitchen
clock.) Yeh. You're home. I guess it is.
JACK: ( He looks up at
the kitchen clock.) Yeh, After five. Where the hell is that kid?
MARIE: He’ll be home soon. .
JACK: Wastin' his
MARIE: Said somethin’ this mornin’ ‘bout stayin’ to work after
JACK: (suspicious) He done somethin’ wrong?
Maybe he just was stayin’.
JACK: That kid better not got hisself in
MARIE: I’m sure JACKIE ain’t in no trouble. Not like him.
JACK: It’s never like ‘em. That’s what they all say.
Can’t trust these kids.
MARIE: You know as I think on it
JACKIE said somethin’ about workin on the school paper Or
JACK: School paper. He oughtta be out sellin papers.
Sellin papers on the corner like I did.
MARIE: Kids don’t sell
newspapers no more, JACK. (MARIE continues with the table) He should be
home. He should be home soon.
JACK: Can’t see why he has the time
to be hangin; ‘round after school. He got time, he oughtta be out gettin
a' after school job somewhere.
MARIE He can’t be doing no
JACK: What’s wrong with a job. Won’t kill him. If he’s got
that kinda time, let him get a job. A job.
MARIE: He'll get ' round
to it. He'll get roun'.
JACK: you spoil that kid MARIE. You
keep treatin' him like 'at an' you gonna turn him a sissy. You hear what
Ahm tellin' ya. A sissy. He should be out workin' Out sellin’
newpapers. Makin’ hisself a buck. Doin' a job like a
MARIE: These kids ain’t like us JACK. They got it too good to
worry about makin’ somethin’.
JACK: Where the
hell you been? (He swats JACKIE on the back of his head with the
JACKIE: I told mom.
JACKIE: I told
JACKIE: I'd be after school.
following exchange is simultaneous.) MARIE: Oh, that's right he
...... JACKIE: (preempting her thought)"be after school" JACK: What the
hell you after school for? _________________________ JACK: You get
yourself into trouble?
JACKIE: No, Pop. I told mom I was going to
work on the school magazine.
MARIE: I’m sorry. I tol' your dad it
was somethin’ but I couldn’t quite remember.
JACK: Don’t pick up for him
MARIE. (To JACKIE) You got time to fool with that stuff you got time to
get a job, do some work around here.
JACKIE: They wanted me to give
them my stuff.
JACK: What stuff?
JACKIE: You know, the stuff
JACK: You should be helpin’ out at home.
Jacobs says he wants to print it in the school magazine.
JACK: You wanna
print? Go to work and print. Help your mother out in the
MARIE: Gonna put you in print, huh?
JACKIE: Yeh, he wants
to put it in the school magazine.
MARIE: All them words. It’s the
Irish in ya. The gift a’ gab.
JACK: Well, I don’t want you stayin’
after school no more. You get yourself home where you belong.
Tomorrow, ya get home early and go lookin' for a part time job- ya got so
much time ta kill. (To Jackie) Get yourself upstairs and wash yer
han’s before dinner. Go on. (beat) Ta hell inna han’basket, I tell
ya, Ta hell inna han’basket.
SCENE ( Lights up on BRENDAN who appears SL.
Then, up center on JACKIE who is seated SR of the
BRENDAN: That was Jackie's dad. That was Jackie's
mom. That how they saw things. But for Jackie. For Jackie there was
something else. Something that this street, Something that these
houses, Something these red bricks Didn't see. Something they didn't
hear. Something they didn't say.
JACKIE: (reciting a passage from
Walt Whitman's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed)
last in the door-yard bloom’d, And the great star early droop’d in the
western sky in the night, I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning
O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring; Lilac
blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west, And thought of him I
(JACKIE addresses the audience directly.) Me...? Why
bother? (beat) I don't fit. Don't fit (beat) Don't
belong. (beat) I know that. I always knew that. It's
ok. (beat) Just looked Looked for someone. Someone. Looked for
anyone Anyone. (beat) Someone who could... I don't
know.... (beat) I don't know... But some one... Ya
know..... Someone with words. With new words. With words that
... (beat) I don't know, (beat) I don't know,. (beat) Words.
... Words have a taste. They have a feeling Words that do
something Words that say something Words that make us Words that
move... (beat) See, .... the thing is.... I love words I love their
sound I love their feel They have a taste They have a smell They
have a feeling (beat) Words do everything You know
that? (beat) Everything. Words kiss. Words
touch. (beat) sometimes words even kill.. (beat,
down on Jackie. BRENDAN remains lit.)
BRENDAN: And me? Where did I
live? Not so different. I'll show you my house. This is my
house. Like Jackie's but different. My house. My house with me and my
dad. Just me and my dad. Just us. My mom left. I don't really know
my mom. I remember her some ways. But I don't know her. It's just
me Me and my dad. (beat) My Dad. I remember the scent. I remember
the scent As he entered the house The scent of the after shave. The
hint of the beer. The shine of the hair cream The red glow of the wind
roughed skin. (half beat)
Here, Come. Come in with me. And
when you see You may remember. Even the scent may come to you The
beer, The after shave The glow. (beat) You may
up center as BRENDAN moves from SR to C behind the table. He is making dinner
for his father. Hot dogs. This is pantomime There are no real
(JIMMY CONLIN from left wing.) JIMMY CONLIN: BRENDAN, you
BRENDAN: Yeh, Dad. In the kitchen.
sure/ (beat) ready for dinner? Got your dinner. Hungry? Got
dinner ready in a minute. Hot dogs.
JIMMY enters. Brendan hands his
father a beer. The beer bottle is one of the only real props. - There is no
refrigerator or kitchen. The prop may be on an inconspicuous stool
behind the central table.)
JIMMY: Just what I could use. (Jimmy slugs the
full bottle.) (beat) Jus' been tellin' the fellas 'bout you. Been
tellin the fellas down at Sharkey's Had a round 'a shots for all the
guys. A round 'a shots Tol' em all about you. Bought 'em a round a
shots. (beat) BRENDAN: Yeh, Pa. Sure. JIMMY: Ain't none of 'em got
a kid like you. BRENDAN: Yeh, Pa? JIMMY: Ain't none of 'em....( Jimmy
staggers in his drunken stupor. He takes off his jacket and tries unsuccessfully
to put it on the back of the chair.) Ok. So tell me. Tell
me. How'd that there scrimmage go. BRENDAN: Great Pop, great. Crawled
right over 'em/ Scored three times. JIMMY: Yeh, well, you could do
better. BRENDAN: Coach said I did ok. Here ya go, Pop. (Brendan
brings him his dinner.) JIMMY: That coach don’t know shit. I says you can
do better. (looking at the pantomimed hotdog.) I could use another beer
with this. (Brendan gets him another beer.) BRENDAN: sure, Pop.
Sure. JIMMY: (beer in hand.) Ya know ya got it in ya from me. From your
ol' man. From me’s where ya got it. (beat) Ya got it from your ol'
man. (beat) Where's the mustard? (beat) BRENDAN: Here ya go,
Pa. Here's your mustard. JIMMY: (repeating in drunkenness.) From
me's where ya get it. I couldda been somethin'. Couldda been out
there. Out there with the big time. Wouldn't have to be climbin' some
riggin' Crawlin' over some beam Shovin' some bolt inta some
girder. Humpin' some fuckin' bridge. (beat) Coulda been
somthin' (beat) Wasn't so hot with basketball. (Jimmy eats and
drinks.) Basketball . Huh, That's for them cullerds anyway. gotta be some
ten foot spear-chucker for basketball. (beat) But, football. I tell ya,
football. Football, ya gotta have balls. Know what I mean? Ya gotta
BRENDAN: Yeh, Pa. I know.
JIMMY: ( already
drunk.) You know? You know? Whadda you know? (In his drunken state,
JIMMY falls off his chair.) You don' know shit. (beat) Movin' yer ass
aroun' na kitchen. Whadda you know. What the hells wrong wit'
you. (BRENDAN goes to help him up. As BRENDAN helps his father back up into
his chair JIMMY continues.) You some kinna fairy? Some kinna fairy always
inna kitchen? BRENDAN: I'm just gettin' your dinner,
Pop. (Beat) JIMMY:You don't know nothin' You an' your pansy-ass
coach. BRENDAN: Just makin' you dinner Pa. JIMMY: (ignoring
Brendan.) Them fuckin' Commies. Them Commies in Korea screwed me outta
it. Got me right in the ass. Messed up my legs for good.
Yeh, Pop, I know. You told me.
JIMMY: Yeh, I tol' ya. An' don't you
forget it. Your ol' man got shot in the ass for this
country. (beat) BRENDAN: Pop, JIMMY: What? BRENDAN: Pop. JIMMY:
What? BRENDAN: You want another? JIMMY: Another what? BRENDAN: Another
hotdog. JIMMY: No, I don't want nothin'! Get me another beer. BRENDAN:
If you're ok, then I'm gonna go out for a while. JIMMY: where the hell you
goin'? BRENDAN: I wanna talk to one of the kids in my class. JIMMY: Yeh,
what for. BRENDAN: I need help with my English. JIMMY: Wha the fuck for
? You don' speak English? BRENDAN: No, Pop. It's poetry. JIMMY:
Poetry? BRENDAN: Yeh, we gotta test. And if I don't pass, I can't
play. JIMMY: You can'(t) play. What the hell's wrong with those people? (
note: the "t" of can't is not pronounced.) (beat) I know - I know.
Don' tell me. They're all them pansy teachers with their noses up
their assses.. (beat) (He swigs his beer,) So, where you
goin'? BRENDAN: Just down the street. JIMMY: Just down the street
where. BRENDAN: Jackie's. JIMMY: Where!? BRENDAN: Jackie's JIMMY:
Jackie who? BRENDAN: Jackie O'Donnell JIMMY: O'Donnell ? That little
fag? That little fag down the street? What you goin' over there for.
I don' like that kid. I don' want you hangin' round wit'
him. Little light in the loafers
_Ya know what I mean.
BRENDAN: Pop, I need some help in English and he can
JIMMY: What kinna stuff he gonna help ya with?
You know Pop.
JIMMY: No, I don't know. What kin'na
BRENDAN: You know, like poems and all. All that stuff in
poems. You know.
JIMMY: I don' want you over there.
But Pop, if I don't pass this test, they won't let me play.
the hell's wrong with these people? Fuck ass teachers.
he's the smartest kid in school. He can help me.
dammit, Ok Soes you can play.
BRENDAN: Yeh, Pop.
yeh. Ok- Them pansies Them pansies, I suppose Them pansies get that
stuff. But you just do your school stuff. Un'erstan? School
stuff. But don' let him get nowheres near you Hear what Ahm
sayin'? (beat) And don't sit nowheres near him. You keep to ya'self.
BRENDAN: Yeh, Pop. I.... But I don't...
JIMMY: No, you
don't. But I do. I do! I know them fags. Found out 'bout them
ass fucks in Korea. I know 'bout them/ Sneakin' up on you. Crawlin' up
at night/ At night when you're alone. (beat) Worse than the god damn
commies. Worse than the commies. I KNOW. I KNOW You watch it, ya
BRENDAN: Yeh, Pop, Sure. Sure, I hear ya. (beat) I
guess I’m not that hungry. I’ll just go now and get it over
JIMMY: ‘Member what I told
(lights down on all except Jimmy. From
his chair at the table. He talks toward center.) JIMMY: That kid don'
know. He don know what's out there. Don' know nothin' about the
war. Don't know nothin' about them.... (beat) You
know...... (beat) He don' know how it got so lonely. He don' know what
happens When ya get lonely. (beat) (Jimmy rise from his chair and comes
DSC. He changes his tone.) Yeh, That kid's gonna be a winner. Goin'
straight to the Eagles ( pronounced "Ihguls") Run all over them
Browns Flatten them Steelers. This kid's championship. Not gonna get
shot in the ass like me Not like me I tell ya Not like me. (lights
Jimmy.) __________________________________________________________ SCENE
half up on Brendan, stage left.) (lights on CHORUS) CHORUS:
of the West!
To you many things to absorb, I teach, to help you become
pupil of mine. Yet, if blood like mine circle not in your veins;
If you be not silently selected by lovers, and do not silently
select lovers, Of what use is it that you seek to become pupil of
mine? (Note: Whitman writes: "Eleve of mine." But the French would be
meaningless to the audience and so the plays translates "eleve" to
(Lights down on CHORUS. Remain up on
So, I knew JACKIE. Knew him because he was really smart. The smartest kid
in school. (beat) But when I really met Jackie. I went to him for
help. Help with poetry. (beat) Poetry. (beat) But there was
something else. Something in Jackie that I knew. Something in Jackie that
I felt. Something I didn’t have in my mind. Something I didn’t have words
for. But something I knew. Something..... Something that
connected. Something that was Jackie. Something that was
Brendan enters the moment. He calls to Jackie from the street.) STAGING NOTE:
BRENDAN comes down stage left to the apron. He calls out to JACKIE while facing
the audience. JACKIE, in return, comes down stage right to the apron
and speaks outward. When JACKIE invites BRENDAN inside, the two meet center stage as lights come up on them.)
BRENDAN: JACKIE! He,
JACKIE! You home? Hey, JACKIE!
JACKIE: ( Stage right) Hey,
BRENDAN: hey, yo, JACKIE. You got a
JACKIE: Me? (beat) Yeh
BRENDAN: Can you come
out. I need to talk to you.
JACKIE: Yeh, sure. Just a
(Jackie goes toward Brendan) (The two meet CS.)
JACKIE: Come on in. ( The two move the
table. In effect, the table becomes Jackie's bed . BRENDAN and JACKIE sit on
BRENDAN: Listen, Jackie. I was just
wondering. (beat) We have this test coming up. The essay
BRENDAN: Well. (beat) Well, I can
use some help.
JACKIE: Help? Help ,with what?
BRENDAN: You know
that poem we got in school. You know. For English. you know. the one
by the bridge guy.
JACKIE:" When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard
BRENDAN: yeh," When Lilacs Last. " That's the
BRENDAN: Well, I know you're good at this
JACKIE: I try.
BRENDAN: No man, you're good.
JACKIE: ( a silent nod)
BRENDAN: I mean, you know, like this
poem we have to do. For me, for me .. Well, I just don't.......
don’t get that stuff.
JACKIE: what's not to get?
BRENDAN: I mean,
sometimes I think I do .... but, not really.
JACKIE: Did you read it
BRENDAN: Yeh, I read some but....
JACKIE: Well, then, just
JACKIE: Yeh, ...just read
BRENDAN: I’m not such a good reader.
JACKIE: I’m sure you are.
Here, just read.
(JACKIE passes BRENDAN a book. It is not the text book
BRENDAN: This isn't the right book.
JACKIE: Yes it
BRENDAN: No, I'm talkin' about our poem book. Our poem book from
JACKIE: It's the same thing. My book has the same
thing. Here. Look. It's right here.
JACKIE: Here. The same thing. (half beat) The same
thing. (beat) Just read it.
last in the door-yard bloom’d, And the great star early droop’d in the
western sky in the night, I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning
O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring; Lilac
blooming per - en - ni - al, (Brendan stumbles over the word "perennial"
) and drooping star in the west, And thought of him I
I'm not sure I get it.
JACKIE: Well, you know
what it's about, right?
BRENDAN: well, kind of. I think so. Jacobs
said it was about Lincoln.
JACKIE: Lincoln. Right. About Lincoln's
death. His assassination.
BRENDAN: Yeh, OK. So?
JACKIE: So, the
poem is all about Lincoln.
BRENDAN: Yeh, but I don't see
JACKIE: OK, Look. Just take it piece by piece.
Whad'da ya mean?
JACKIE: Piece by piece. Verse by
BRENDAN: I don't know....
JACKIE: Look. When was
BRENDAN: I don't know.
JACKIE: April. He was shot
JACKIE: And he was the star in the
BRENDAN: Star in the Western sky.
'cause he was president. The star.
BRENDAN: Yeh. I never thought of
that. (half beat) But what does that have to do with
JACKIE: Because, lilacs come out in April.
then, what's a lilac? Is it like a rose?
JACKIE: No, no. they're
like... Lilacs are like bunches. Clusters. Purple, sometime white.
They have a strong scent, and their leaves are
BRENDAN: Oh, ... (beat) Heart
shaped. (beat) You mean like...... (beat) You mean like he's
JACKIE: Like he's saying ,.. what?
BRENDAN: I don't
know. ... That's my problem. I don’t know what he’s saying. (beat) So,
anyway.... What does "per - en - ni - al" mean?
JACKIE: It means it
comes back into flower every year at the same time. And so, when we see them
they make us remember.
BRENDAN: They make us remember ? (beat) They
make us remember every year. (beat) They make us
remember. Ok. (beat) But then. But then he says: "him I
love." (beat) See, now. What's that crap? (beat) ..he some kind
of....? (beat) This some kind of, You know, Faggot
JACKIE: No, no! Nothing like that at all. He's talking about
Lincoln. He's talking about big things. He's talking about
BRENDAN: Oh, See, I didn’t get that, I….
Lincoln. Lincoln. He loves Abraham Lincoln. Loves him for what he
BRENDAN: Yeh, for what he did. (beat) JACKIE: Yeh, you know,
it's like... It's like you love God.
BRENDAN: Oh, So, It's
not... It's not that other stuff. (beat) You know. Like he was ....
JACKIE: Like he was a queer?
BRENDAN: Yeh, you
JACKIE: No, it's not that.
BRENDAN: Yeh, yeh. Ok.
Now, I see.
JACKIE: It's not so tough. Once you get the hang of it.
Poems make a lot of sense.
BRENDAN: I suppose they do. But for a
smart guy like you it’s easy.
JACKIE: Not really, you just have to take
your time. And, anyway, I’m not so smart.
BRENDAN: You got the best
grades in class.
JACKIE: But that’s because it’s all I do. I don’t do
much else. After all, look at you. You’re the star player on every team.
You’ve got every girl in the school chasing after you.
BRENDAN: Nah, not
really. I mean, I don't mind foolin' around with them But,.... you
JACKIE: No, I don't. But I sure wouldn't mind
BRENDAN: (hesitantly) Yeh, well. May be I can introduce
you to a few of them.
JACKIE: OK, you're
BRENDAN: Anyway. This poem. (beat) See. when I read
this stuff I just read what it says. I mean, , You know --- I read what it
says. But you see things. More things. You see something else. I
just don't get that. I just don't get it when a teacher tells you it has a
meaning. But you. You, do. (beat) How do you do that? How do you
see that something else?
JACKIE: I don't know. I don't think I
try. It just happens.
BRENDAN: I wish I could do that. It just
seems so hard.
JACKIE: I think you just have to give yourself a
BRENDAN: Yeh, maybe. But I’m not the book type. You
JACKIE: Maybe you just think that. Maybe you just think that
because that’s what people expect.
BRENDAN: What they
JACKIE: Yeh, what they expect.
BRENDAN: What do you
JACKIE: Come on Brendan. Think about it. You’re supposed to
be the jock, the football star.
JACKIE: You're not supposed to like
BRENDAN: But I don't.
JACKIE: But Brendan, how do you know
if you never tried?
BRENDAN: I guess I don't. But you think I
JACKIE: Why not?
JACKIE: So, anyway. Want to
finish the poem?
BRENDAN: Yeh, I do. But you know
what. (beat) People think I'm too stupid for poems?
not what I was trying to....
BRENDAN: No, no. You're right. Maybe it
is what people think. Maybe that is what they want me to be And so that's
what I do.... (beat) But, you know. You know, I think I got the idea
now. What you showed me. I do, I think I got it. (beat) You
know, Maybe I’ll try the rest of it on my own.
(BRENDAN moves away
BRENDAN:(hesitantly.) Hey, JACKIE, you wanna to
down to Greenberg's Drug Store for a cherry coke? My treat.
Well, I would,....
BRENDAN: We can just talk.
JACKIE: But I have
tons of work to finish here.
BRENDAN: Oh. Yeh. OK. Well, I suppose I
should be getting home. I told my dad I wouldn't be long. I'll see you
O slender leaves! 2. O blossoms of my blood! 3. I permit you to tell
in your own way of the heart that is under you, 4. O I do not know what
you mean there underneath yourselves, 1. you are not happiness. (Calamus
(JACK, stage left. To the audience.) JACK: A man does his
job. For the wife. For the kids. Don’t give nobody no trouble. You
know the world these days is so full of them others. You know what I
mean Them Liberals and them Commies. Them Jews and them
faggots. Everywhere you go. All them movies. Them magazines. All
that crap that’s everywhere you go. You think I don’t know?
‘cause who I am, what I do, I don’t know. Well think again. What makes you
think yous the only one. I know. Yeh, that’s right. I know. They’re
all around us. Commie Reds The Cullerds. The Jews The
Queers Well, they’re not takin’ me. I can tell you that. They’re not
takin’ me. Now, don't get me wrong. I don’t go for none a that brick
throwin' I ain't gonna smash no winda's Or carry no signs. But I think
ya deserve what ya deserve. An' I'm gonna take care a my own. Soes that
once in a while you can take the wife and kids away Take ‘em away. Take
‘em to the shore. Get a nice motel. Sit on na beach. Get a little
(The SCENE continues.)
(MARIE, stage right continuing to the
MARIE: Yah know, JACK’s a good man. But, he gets mad
if I don't keep the lock on the door. He wants that door locked. He's
afraid for us. Afraid of all them out there on the street. I gotta tell ya
too. Jack's not one a them that drinks. He don’t never drink. Never see
him down at Sharkey's Not even a beer inna house. An' Jack never raised a
han' ta me. Never a han'. (beat) Yeh, we have are squabbles. But,
who don’t? You never have a fight with your husban'? (beat) Ahm home
all day. JACK don' like th’idea of me workin'. (beat) Sometimes
though, JACK's got a temper./ Who ain't after all. We all got our ways
about us. He jus' don' like nobody tellin' 'im what ta do or ya
know.... Yeh, he’s stric(t) with Jackie. ( the "t" of strict is not normally
pronounced.) But that’s ‘cause he want him to be right To grow up To be
a man. (beat) One thing I gotta say. One thing I keep on him
about. I don' like he keeps a gun in the house. I jus never liked that
sort a thing. I know what he means. he wants to protect us. But, I don'
know. You know, a gun. ya never know.. It can jus' go off, I keep
tellin' him. Jus like that JACK, ' It can jus' go
moves to center stage as light comes up over the table. He picks up JACKIE'S
JACK: MARIE. Yo, MARIE!
MARIE: What is it
JACK: Get up here.
(MARIE moves center
MARIE: What is it JACK? What you so excited
JACK: You see this? Look at
JACK: This book. I found it in his
JACK: This ain't no school book. You
see what it says?
MARIE. (taking the book.) Leaves of Grass. Funny
name. Grass don't have leaves.
JACK: What the hell's wrong with
you - look at the name.
MARIE: Walt Whit.... Oh - that's the
bridge,... JACK: Yeh, that's right, - the bridge! You heard the priest
what he said. They had all them people down there. You know what they was
MARIE: JACK, you're not sayin...
the hell you think I'm sayin'? (beat) Here, look at this! First page I
(Jack reads from Hymn to Myself He stumbles somewhat over the
words.) I mind how once we lay such a transparent summer morning, How
you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn'd over upon
me, And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your
tongue to my bare-stript heart, And reach'd till you felt my beard,
and reach'd till you held my feet. What kinna stuff is that? What
kinna stuff!! Who writes that kinna stuff? Some kinna pervert. Some
kinna .... Not ..... (beat) The fellas was right. They was right,
MARIE. It's no wonder., No wonder the priest had 'em all down
'ere. Like what he said... There's somethin' wrong with sombody who writes
this kinna stuff. Yeh, but let me tell ya, Some thin' not right with a
kid who wants ta read it. Why he want to read this
stuff? (beat) Heh? (beat) Why? Why? Ahm askin'
MARIE: Whad da ya sayin' Jack? JACK: You heard me. There's
somethin' wrong, Ahm tellin' ya. Somethin' wrong. (beat) Well, not
in my house. Noty while's I got somthin' ta say about it. Not my
MARIE: Jack, what does he know 'bout them things? He's justa
JACK: No son a mine.
JACKIE: Mom, Pop, what are you....
(severely) Go downstairs MARIE.
JACK: ( he
repeats with authority.) Go
(Beat) (JACK strikes JACKIE loud
and hard across the side of the face with the book. JACKIE covers his face as
he breaks into tears.)
JACK: Tell me what this is! Tell
BRENDAN: It's a book Pa.
JACK: I know it's a damn
book, you think I'm stupid? What the hell kin'na book is what I wanna
JACKIE: (sobbing) A book of poems, Pa A book of
(MARIE is lit stage left. Her cries break between Jackie and
Jack.) MARIE: O holy virgin Mary ! What am I supposed to
JACK: Yeh, I know, That's what I'm talkin' about. You think I
don' know who this guy was? (he grabs him by the collar) You think I don'
know. I heard the fellas talkin' I know all about this guy. Ya know
what he was? Ya know? A goddamn pansy. That's
MARIE: Don' let him hit the boy. He's jus' a kid. He
don' know nothin' bout them things.
(JACK grabs JACKIE by the
JACK: You some kinna faggot? You some kinna
faggot? (beat) Tell me! Tell me! and I'll kill ya now. ( as he
MARIE:(Lit stage left) Oh Jesus, Mary and
Joseph. Is there somethin' wrong the kid? Is he one 'a them not
right? One them not right?
JACKIE: No, Pa, No. They're
MARIE: Oh, Saint Jude, don' let it be. Not my
boy. Not my JACKIE.
JACK: I don' want you readin' none a this
stuff. (Rattles him) You hear me!? ( swats him with the book) Not in my
house. (He becomes far more intense. He swats him again.)
pulls away. JACK Takes the book and heaves it across the
room.) (looking at the book. ...)
(Jack cries out:) God damn
SCENE (We see
JACKIE slowly rise. He stands sobbing and searches for his book. JACKIE moves
down center to the apron. He sits on the front stoop. Still sobbing,
he is smoothing out the pages of his Whitman. ) (BRENDAN
BRENDAN: Hey Jackie, I was just going to call up to
you. I was just on my way home from practice And hoping I would catch
you. Was gonna call up to you. Didn't think you'd be out
JACKIE: Hey, BRENDAN, how's it going?
BRENDAN: Yeh, I was
wondering if I would catch you. Just wondering on my way
home. (beat) (BRENDAN looks slowly at JACKIE.) You ok? You look like
JACKIE: Yeh, fine. Just got something in my
BRENDAN: You reading your poems?
JACKIE: Yeh. Same old
BRENDAN: I gotta tell you. I've been working on that poem. You
JACKIE: "When lilacs..."
BRENDAN: Yeh, that one. I
think I'm gonna be ready for the test. I really am.
JACKIE: Yeh, I'm
sure you'll do fine.
BRENDAN: Well, I couldn't have done it
myself. You really helped me out. (BRENDAN pats JACKIE on the
JACKIE: That's ok. ( as BRENDAN pats) It's ok.
You know, there's another part in that poem. I wanted to ask you
about. I think I get it, but I'm not sure.
JACKIE: What part is
BRENDAN: Let me see your book. (beat) ( as an aside
thought.) How come you're reading it out on the stoop?
inside. Just wanted to get outside Get some fresh air.
Yeh, . .is warm tonight. (beat) But, look, you can see some
BRENDAN: Yeh, the stars. JACKIE: You
look at the stars?
BRENDAN: Yeh, I do.
JACKIE: I wouldn't have
figured you .....
BRENDAN: Why, cause I'm .... a
JACKIE: Sorry, I didn't mean.
BRENDAN: No, it's
OK. It's like you said before. It's what people expect.
BRENDAN: No, really. It's ok, See, I like looking up
there I like looking up there and just wondering. Wonder if there's
anybody up there? You ever wonder that?
JACKIE: Yeh, I
BRENDAN: You know, They say that if you get away
from here Get away from the city Get way outside Outside in the
country The sky is white with stars So many you can't even
JACKIE: You mean like the Milky Way.
BRENDAN: Yeh, the
Milky Way. (beat) BRENDAN: You ever been out of the city?
Went to the shore once.
BRENDAN: Never been there. Never even saw the
JACKIE: You've never seen the ocean?
Never. Except in movies. (beat) Maybe when they finish the
JACKIE: Yeh, maybe.
(long beat as BRENDAN catches himself
looking too intently at JACKIE)
BRENDAN: (Suddenly) But you have all your
books. ( he takes the book.) So, anyway. I want to show you this
part. Gotta find it. (BRENDAN takes JACKIE'S book.) Wait, this isn't
the right one. This isn't our book from school.
_JACKIE: No, but it has the poem.
does Where? Where is it in this book?
JACKIE: Here. Right
here... Let me find it for you .... Let me find it. (JACKIE opens his
book to the right page.) Here you go.
BRENDAN: Yeh, Yeh, Hold
Where's that part? Where's that part? (looking at the
book.) Down here somewhere. ( he searches.) Yeh, here it is.
He reads from the book .He reads slowly and with intent.) O cruel hands
that hold me powerless -- O helpless soul of me! O harsh surrounding cloud
that will not free my soul.
BRENDAN: (Looking directly
at Jackie.) Yeh. I mean.. I think I get this part. (beat) “Cruel
hands….” (beat) Yeh, Yeh, I know.... I know what this
means. (There is a silent, uncomfortable moment where Brendan catches
Jackie's eyes.) I know what that means. Do
JACKIE: (interrupting the moment.) I told you it's
not that hard.
BRENDAN: Yeh, Not that hard. (Continuing
hesitantly.) Can I ask you something?
BRENDAN: When you…. When you and your dad… (beat) Has your
JACKIE: Has my dad ever what?
BRENDAN: I don't
know. (beat) You ever talk to him about this stuff.
BRENDAN: You know, .... poems and all?
.... my pop?.... poems?. .. No.
BRENDAN: mine neither. (beat) Oh.
What the fuck... (BRENDAN slaps JACKIE on the back.)
(laughing) Yeh. ...What the fuck...
BRENDAN: (beat) You know. I
really like talking to you about this stuff. (beat) Funny, 'cause I never
thought I would. But you know. You showed me something. You really
JACKIE: That’s ok.
BRENDAN: No, really. I get this stuff
now. I like talking to you. And I like this poem.
listen, if you really like it I'll lend you this book. The poetry book they
give us in school only has this poem. But Whitman wrote tons of
others. See. (he shows him the cover of Leaves of Grass.) The whole
thing's called "Leaves of Grass." "Leaves of Grass" by Walt
BRENDAN: Walt Whitman!! The bridge guy?! (beat) Wait
a minute. You mean, the poem that's in our book The poem that's in
school The poem is the bridge guy?
JACKIE: Yeh. You just read
it. Walt Whitman.
BRENDAN: I didn't know that. (beat) Now
that you say it.... (beat) I guess I never paid attention. Never put it
JACKIE: Yeh, it's the same person.
BRENDAN: I still
don't get it. If we read it in school What's the problem? What's the
JACKIE Because he also wrote other
BRENDAN: Other things?
JACKIE: Yes.... not just this
BRENDAN: So, what else?
else? (beat) Other things.
BRENDAN: You mean that stuff they’re all
talking about? (beat) That faggot stuff?
JACKIE: BRENDAN, I just
like to read. I don’t pay attention to any of that. I like to
read. These are great poems. Great words. Great .... I don't
know... Just great!
BRENDAN: Yeh, but does he really write about
that stuff? You know… What they say?
JACKIE: They’re poems.
That’s all. Here. (He offers him the book.) Borrow it and see
BRENDAN: No, man, that's ok. I’m not messin’ with any of
that stuff. One poem at a time's enough for
(Beat) (BRENDAN turns to go, then turns
(BRENDAN takes the book. He looks at it
for a moment, then hands it back.) No. Maybe not. Thanks. See ya
BRENDAN: Yes, I talked to Jackie Yes, I saw him almost every
day. Always after school. At his house. On his front stoop. I
called. I called to him "Jackie, you there?" Called to the front
window Called and he was there We talked on the stoop We talked in his
room We talked to each other We talked as friends. But always
alone. And never in class Never at lunch Never in the halls. Never
in the lockers. (beat) Still, somehow they must have seen me. My
friends must have seen me. (beat) My friends. My friends in
class. My friends on the field. My friends in the hall. All the people
I knew. People who liked me. Who said they liked me. They
spoke They had something to say. I heard them I knew what they
said. I knew them I knew me. Where else could I go? Where else could
I be? Only BRENDAN BRENDAN Who else was there? Who else? Who else
talked to me? Really talked to me? To me? (beat) Could I go
home? Home? What was at home? (beat) There was my dad. My dad and
those Friday nights. Those Friday nights together. Friday nights on the
couch. Friday night in front of the TV. The Friday night fights. Just
him and me. Just him and me. We watched every fight. On a left
JIMMY: “What the fuck” . BRENDAN: A
slip..... JIMMY: “What’s wrong with that asshole?” BRENDAN. We’re
together. Father and son. He talks. He talks. But not to me. To
the screen.. To the voice. To the ring. He talks to the TV. But he
never talks to me. Fixed on the screen. He never looks my way. Never
see his eyes.
JIMMY: ( he is smoking a cigarette.) Now, that was a
fight! Hey, get me another beer, will ya, BRENDAN? Need another beer
after that fight. (Brendan goes for another beer.) Marciano, man. I’m
tellin’ you. Them guinnie wops and them cullerds. They know how ta
fight. These guys really have it down!
( Jimmy opens the bottle.
Sips. Spits out the beer.)
JIMMY : What the f……. This beer’s
BRENDAN: Shouldn’t be.
JIMMY: I said, it’s
BRENDAN: But... JIMMY: You counterdictin'
me? BRENDAN: No, pop….. JIMMY: (JIMMY slowly rises from his chair and
advances toward BRENDAN.) What you say? BRENDAN: Nothin'
Pop. JIMMY: (Jimmy, with the cigarette between his teeth, begins to slap
Brendan, one side then the other with each exchange.) You counterdictin'
me? (slap) What’s your problem? (slap) What’s your problem,
BRENDAN: I got it from the frige….. JIMMY: This
beer’s fuckin hot. (he grabs BRENDAN by the arm, twists it behind
him) BRENDAN: (imploring.) It didn’t feel warm when I picked it
up. JIMMY: Didn’t feel warm? (beat) Didn’t feel warm? (twists
BRENDAN’s arm tighter.) You dumb shit! Stupid cunt! What the fuck you
know? BRENDAN: Please, Pop. No! JIMMY: What the fuck you
know? (beat) You like warm beer? Warm? You like it warm? Wanna
know what the fuck warm is? Heh? Ya wannah know? Wanna
BRENDAN: No, Pa, No.
JIMMY: (He raises the cigarette.
) You want warm. Here’s warm. (beat) Here’s warm. Here’s fuckin’
hot. (JIMMY presses his lit cigarette into BRENDAN’s neck. ) (BRENDAN
writhes and slips to the floor. ) JIMMY: You stupid fuckin' girly
cunt! JIMMY: (becoming even more possessed and fitful goes back for the
bottle of beer.) You can't get nothin’ right? Nothin'. (beat) You’re
like your ol’ lady. that stupid bitch. A stupid bitch.... Gin
whore.... Gin whore went runnin' off. (BRENDAN is still on the
floor.) (beat) JIMMY: (Putting his foot on BRENDAN’S chest and pouring the
beer in his face.) Here you little creep. Piss on you. Go on. ( He
bends and pours the beer into BRENDAN’s face.) Go on. Drink it. Drink
BRENDAN: No, Pop, No I don’t
JIMMY: Go ahead you little pussy. Go ahead. Drink
it. Go ahead. You drink it. You drink it warm. Warm. Drink it
warm. Like piss.
(There is a pause as JIMMY stagers and slowly
straightens himself. He look down at Brendan. JIMMY kicks BRENDAN who is still
writhing on the floor. )
JIMMY: (Wiping him mouth with the back
of his sleeve.) Cry Baby. (beat) (quietly) Fuck. Ahm gone down to
Sharkies. Pussy kid (JIMMY
exits.) _______________________________________ (Brendan remains lit DSC
as the chorus speaks.) SCENE CHORUS
THERE was a child went forth
every day; And the first object he look’d upon, that object he
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part
of the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.
The early lilacs became part of this child, And
grass, and white and red morning-glories, and white and red clover, and the song
of the phoebe-bird,
( BRENDAN slowly rises from the floor and
comes downstage.) BRENDAN: Was I a good son? You tell me. Oh, I did
everything a good son would do. I was out there every day. In fall, out
there arching that goal post pass. In winter, sinking that final
basket. In spring, that grasping outing glove. Just for
him Football Basketball Baseball (beat) The touchdown. The
basket The run… Out there ready Always ready. Always I loved
him. How much I loved him. Did he love me? (beat) Could he love
me? (beat) I don't know. In all ways. There was no better
son. _________________________________________________________ SCENE
(continues) BRENDAN: What was there at home? What was there at
school? Seeing JACKIE was the only time I felt like something. Seeing
JACKIE was the only thing that felt good. The only thing
that..... (beat) That, (beat) I don't know. (beat) The only
(BRENDAN facing the audience and calling from stage
BRENDAN: JACKIE, hey, JACKIE, you home?
BRENDAN: Got a minute?
JACKIE: Sure. I'll be right
(JACKIE and BRENDAN move center stage.)
BRENDAN. Hey, how's
JACKIE: (beat) Whoa! Hey, what happened to
BRENDAN: Oh, got tackled I guess.
JACKIE: Sure looks like
it. You like to get beat up like that?
BRENDAN: Hey, That's part of
JACKIE: I suppose so. (beat) So, what’s
BRENDAN: I just wanted to tell you.. The test. The essay
test. I passed. Passed with a "C", But I passed. I gotta say.
You really helped me make sense of that poem.
JACKIE: Sure. No
BRENDAN: No really. You helped me a lot.
It's ok. (beat) BRENDAN: Yeh.
JACKIE: So, Now you can
play. Play in the game..
BRENDAN: Yeh. I can play. Makes my
old man happy.
JACKIE: See, I told you you could do
BRENDAN: Yeh, You did.
JACKIE: So, you're on your
BRENDAN: On my own?
JACKIE: Yeh, you passed the
test. You get the poem. You see what it
BRENDAN: Oh, Yeh, (beat) Well. Well, we can still
you won't have to worry about your friends.
BRENDAN: Worry about my
JACKIE: Look, I
JACKIE: You don't have to
BRENDAN: But. (beat) Oh, What do they
know? (beat) Look, I was thinking. Maybe, Maybe, I would like to
borrow that book.
JACKIE: You mean the Whitman?
BRENDAN: Yeh, the
one our poem in class came from.
JACKIE: Really? You want to read
BRENDAN: Yeh, can I?
JACKIE: Sure. Here.
hands BRENDAN the book and exits. Lights dim except on Brendan. To the
audience:) BRENDAN: I borrowed the book. I read it. I read the
book. The whole book. It was different. Different than just the poem
they gave us in school. I read. Page by page I read. At first it wasn't
easy. But I kept on going. At first there was nothing. At first there
was no point. But then I knew I knew why I read, I read for
JACKIE. I wanted to read. To read for him. To read to tell him To
read to show him To read..... (beat) Then, it happened At a certain
point It happened At a certain point. It took me across Took me
across a bridge Across a bridge To someplace new. First there were the
words Words not like words Words people here don't say Words Then
there was something in the sound. The sound of the words The sound of the
words in my ears. The sound of the words in my head. And there was
something in the feel. Something like a beat Something like a " tum,/ ta ,
tum / ta , tum." I felt it. I felt it inside me. And, then, in a funny
way. In a funny way, Things began to make sense. There was a deeper
sound. A sound inside me. The words seemed to fit. The words seemed to
by my words. Words I didn't know I had.
(Brendan reads from
Not heat flames up and consumes, Not sea-waves
hurry in and out, Not the air, delicious and dry, the air of the
ripe summer, bears lightly along white down-balls of myriads of seeds,
Wafted, sailing gracefully, to drop where they may; Not
these—O none of these, more than the flames of me, consuming, burning for his
love whom I love! 5 O none, more than I, hurrying in and out:
—Does the tide hurry, seeking something, and never give up? O I the
same; O nor down-balls, nor perfumes, nor the high, rain-emitting
clouds, are borne through the open air, Any more than my Soul is
borne through the open air, Wafted in all directions, O love, for
friendship, for you.
(WW Not Heat Flames.)
CHORUS ( the
chorus speaks in an echo Woman first, men second.)
1. (women) Brick
homes. 1. (men) Brick homes.
2. Row homes. 2.Row
3.Shoulder to shoulder 3.Shoulder t o shoulder.
to rib. 4. Rib to rib.
1. One window out front 1.One window out
2.One window out back. 2. One window out back
3. A view
of the alley
4. A view of the street
1. A white marble
------------------------------ (Lights up center stage. Marie
holds the gun. Light up stage left on Jack.)
MARIE: JACK, Do we
really gotta keep this thing in here?
JACK: Don’t start with that again
MARIE. You know what I gotta say about it,
MARIE: It’s just
JACK: It’s just that. It’s just that. And that’s all there
is to it.
JACK: (comes down the steps from the stage and addresses the
A gun? Yeh, I always kept a gun. Always.
You know it’s the final word. A gun says, “you can’ push me
around”. “You can’t take what’s mine:”
An' that's why they don' like
And I ain’t talking just about your dagos and cullerds and
portarickins. I'm talkin' about the govvament. The govvament. They don'
like real men havin' no guns. Why? Why? "Cause they's afraid. Afraid
a real men that make this country. Jus' look aroun' Look aroun' ya I
That Rosevelt That Rosevelt and then that Truman. Them
Democrats Them Democrats sold us out. Sold us out to the Reds, Look
what it got us. Look at Germany. Look at Poland. I know The Pollack
fellas tol' me all about it. Look at Korea. I know. Korea I was
there. I was there with a wife an' a baby kid. I saw all that stuff.
All of it. Sold us out. Sold out. (beat)
sellin me out. Nobody's fuckin me up the ass. I keep that gun Keep that
gun for when they come An’ you know they’re comin’ They’re all part of it
down there in Washington. Look what they done to Joe McCarthy last
year. They shut him up. Shut him up good. They ain't doin' that ta
Yeh, so that’s why I have a gun. And I have a right to. I
know it. You can’t hold that against me. I talked to the boys about
it. They all agree. Most of ‘em have guns too. No crime. No crime
an’ I know it.
JACK ( to MARIE) Put it back MARIE. Jus’ leave it.
Jus’ leave it where I left
Come, said my soul, Such verses
for my Body let us write, (for we are one,) That should I after
return, Or, long, long hence, in other spheres, There to some group of
mates the chants resuming, (Tallying Earth's soil, trees, winds, tumultuous
waves,) Ever with pleas'd smile I may keep on, Ever and ever yet the
verses owning--as, first, I here and now Signing for Soul and Body, set to
now. Now, let me show you that last day. You may not want to see that
day. You may not want to face it. You may not want to face that world A
world you may remember. A world you chose to forget But it was my
world. The last day of my world. The last day. That last day at school.
The day that changed it all. The day that changed everything. The day
when I knew what I was. (beat) No, Not what I was... (beat) Who I
SCENE (We see JACKIE with books in his hand. He is up stage.
The CHORUS moves from the floor level to the stage as they verbally attack JACKIE. They engulf him. ) (sarcastic and syrupy) 1.
Hey look, it’s the poem boy.
2. He knows the
4. Got all the answers right.
3. He knows the
4. He reads poems
5. Pretty poems
Pretty boy. (beat) (Now, viciously.) 7.
10. Adam and Eve
JACKIE: I'm not!
Jackie falling to the floor., attacked by their words. JACKIE finds his own
words ad lib. in response to the verbal attacks The CHORUS returns to their
place on the floor below the stage and continues:.)
1. Not Adam and
1. Get outta here.
1. Ass fuck.
What a pansy
3. Girly boy
2. don’t want (stomp)
your kind (stomp)
4. 'round here. (stomp)
the cries escalate – they are animal cries.)
1 and 2. We don’t
want (They stomp with their feet.))
3 and 4 you’re
1,2,3,4 Round here (stomp) (The foot stomping
continues with greater ferocity between each line.) 1, 2, 3, 4/. Round here.
Round here. We don’t want.
1,2 : No faggots
1,2,3,4 Round here.
JACKIE: NO! (STOMP!)
(BRENDAN has been watching from stage
left. JACKIE rises. BRENDAN moves stage center as JACKIE looks at him and exits
And where was I that day? Where was I? I let him stand
there. I let him stand there for .... (beat) Why didn't I ? Why
didn't I stop them? Why didn't I ..... (beat) Who were they talking
about? Who ....?
(beat) He gave me..... (beat) It wasn't just
him. He's not the only one. Who were they screaming at? (beat) I
wanted to join them. I wanted to ..... (beat) God damn
it! Why? What's wrong with me!? (beat) Why? Why? Why do I have
to be this. Why do I have to …. Why can’t I be….. It’s not
fair. It’s not fair. Who did this? Is it God who did this? Is this
from God? (BRENDAN looks up to the heavens.) Did you do this? Did
you? Why? Why? Am I some joke? What – so you’re playing a
joke. Answer me! Damn you, Answer me! Am I a joke? You hear
me? Answer me! You think it’s funny? You think it's funny? Huh!
Huh, Is it funny? Funny!? (beat) Well, fuck you. (Fuck god.) Line
may be omitted.
(to the audience) Fuck all of you. Tell your faggot
jokes. Spit at the homos. Beat up on the queers. Beat their fuckin
faces. Kick their pussy asses. Go ahead. Go ahead. I’ll join
you, I’ll beat their fuckin’ faces in. I’ll kick them in their twisted
balls. I hate those fuckin' faggots. I hate them! Do you hear me? I
hate them! Yeh, I’m with you! (He beats his head with his fist) I’m
_lights dim slightly on Brendan as he freezes in place. Lights come up on the
chorus as we hear:)
1. O YOU whom I often
and silently come where you are,
2. that I may be with you; (lights
black out on Brendan.) 3.As I walk by your side, or sit near, or
remain in the same room with you,
4. Little you know the subtle
electric fire that for your sake is playing within me
________________________________________________ SCENE (We
see Jackie in the chair to SR of the table. Head in his hands. He is sobbing
violently. He has found his father's gun. He raises the gun in his
hands. He loads it ( with the stage cartridge) He looks at the gun
thoughtfully. Then suddenly , BRENDAN appears, SL)
BRENDAN: Hey JACKIE! JACKIE! You
JACKIE: ( we see JACKIE stage right - hearing but ignoring,
still looking at the gun.)
BRENDAN: JACKIE! Listen. I need to
tell you something!
I need to talk to
JACKIE: ( drops the gun on the table. He moves to his "window"
position DSR.) Yeh, What is it?
BRENDAN: Can I come in? I
BRENDAN: I just
JACKIE: What do you want?
BRENDAN: I just wanna
JACKIE: Tell me what!?
BRENDAN: Just wanna tell
you. I ..... Jackie. Jackie. I know, I think I really know, I
know You must feel alone. I know it. It's hard not to, Not to feel
alone. And I want you to know… Well,,,, I didn’t know anyone else,
anyone else like you who showed me something new. Who showed me what you ……
(Brendan puts his hands on Jackie’s shoulders.)
JACKIE: Yeh? Showed you
what? Showed you what?! Well where the hell were you
today?! (beat) Go back to your friends on the
BRENDAN: Well, it’s not like the guys. The guys on the
team They’re friends. You know, friends on the field. Laughs in
the lockeroom. Laughs in the hall. Just hangin’ out in the parking lot.
Never think much about other things,. It's not like ... Not like
with you. Not like with you and me. (beat)
Can I tell you
something? Can I?
(beat) It may seem stupid But it's not. I
mean, Well, (beat) You know.. (beat) You ever look at the
stars? You ever wonder....? (beat)
You know, After
practice, After practice when I’m walking home. Or when I'm
walkin' Walking home after the game. Walking home when it gets dark. I
look up at the stars. You know how I like looking at the stars. And I see
those few stars Those few stars you can see in a city night sky. I
imagine up there someone like me. Some one like me on his way home. On
his way home up there on one of those stars. He would be my twin. My twin
looking down at me. A twin. You ever think about a
twin? (beat) Funny isn’t it. Funny to think that’s he’s looking
down. Because…. Think about it He’d be looking up too. .. I wonder if
he made the same mistake. .
Who knows? Maybe he is
out there somewhere.
BRENDAN: And, You know, this book, This
book, \Well …… JACKIE: You read the poems? Read them on your
BRENDAN: Yeh, I did I read them. I read them on my
own. And I think I think I see.
JACK: See? See
BRENDAN: Something. I think I see something.
So, tell me.
BRENDAN: I don't really know
JACKIE: So, what are you
BRENDAN: I don't know. But .....
what? Look, Brendan, what do you want?
BRENDAN: Can I
read something? Read something for you?
JACKIE: You want to read for
BRENDAN: A poem.
JACKIE: You're going to read me a
BRENDAN: Yeh. Can I?
JACKIE: I guess. Sure. Why
BRENDAN: ( he reads) We two boys together clinging, One the
other never leaving, Up and down the roads going, North and South excursions
making, Power enjoying, elbows stretching, fingers clutching, Arm'd and
fearless, eating, drinking, sleeping, loving. ( Whitman:
JACKIE: I don't remember that one.
JACKIE: No, I don't.
BRENDAN: Well.... (beat) You
know, I….. Well…. The two boys… I think…. Well… I
think…. (beat) (then suddenly)
I think they’re like you and
JACKIE: Like you and me? How do you figure
BRENDAN: Well, You know, Like those guys today. You
know. Like what they said to you.
JACKIE: BRENDAN, They’re
wrong. They may think that, But, really, They’re
BRENDAN: But… But, I thought you.. I mean the way you
like poems and books and reading and things. I thought
you…. _____________________________________________________________________________ (Simultaneously)
were like me. JACKIE: they’re wrong. (Silence) JACKIE: I was like
JACKIE: You mean
BRENDAN: JACKIE, You’re not ….. You’re
not gonna tell…. JACKIE, I…. I….. (BRENDAN breaks down in
tears.) No, No, No, no, no. Why? Why? (He falls to the floor
JACKIE: BRENDAN. BRENDAN It doesn’t
matter. Listen to me. It doesn’t
matter. (violently) BRENDAN! BRENDAN: No, No, Why? I don’t
want this. I didn’t ask for this.
JACKIE: BRENDAN, ‘Come
on. Come on, man. It’s ok It’s ok I’m your friend. (beat) I’m
your friend. Your friend…
(JACKIE bends down to raise up
BRENDAN. They move slowly, BRENDAN looks directly into JACKIE’s
eyes. He holds him in his gaze. BRENDAN moves his face close to JACKIE .
BRENDAN: ( silently or very faintly) JACKIE. (at the same time as
the above, JACK enters. He is coming home after work. He carries his
lunch box and a newspaper rolled up. JACK reaches center stage.)
What the ………….
(slowly) You,,, God.. Damn…. Queer.
I knew it. I
I blow your fuckin’ brains out.
(He sees the gun that JACKIE has left on the table. He picks it
No son of mine! Faggot! Faggot! God damn
(He raises the gun.)
JACKIE: Dad! Dad!
NO ! NO ! (beat) No son a mine!
immobilized by his own threat. BRENDAN rushes forward. He grabs the
gun. They all freeze in mutual disbelief. BRENDAN rushes off with the
gun. The stage goes black . JACK and JACKIE
exit. _________________________________________________ SCENE
rushes back to DSC in the dark. Then, he is lit center stage. CHORUS
lit dimly Main light is on BRENDAN. We hear the torments: 1.
3. Adam and Eve
Not Adam and Steve
5. Get outta here.
2. What a pansy
1. We (stomp)
don’t want (stomp)
3. your kind (stomp)
'round here. (stomp)
( the cries escalate – they are animal
ALL: We don’t want
We don’t want.
1: 2: :
3,4, No Queers.
1,2,3,4 Round here.
here Round here!
(The vowel “O” becomes a wail, a
dissonant chord that becomes louder and louder.
( As the torments grow
louder BRENDAN raises the gun to his head. Suddenly – and simultaneously,
BRENDAN has the gun in his hand. He is panting. He is driven.
Suddenly, as the chorus reaches the desired level, the sound stops, the stage
goes black and BRENDAN fires the gun. He ends the torment.
Immediate Blackout with the
timed pause) CHORUS ( Lights rise slowly on the CHORUS.)
1.The war is
completed-the price is paid-the title is settled beyond recall;)
every one answer! let those who sleep be waked! let none evade!
we still go on with our affectations and sneaking?
4. Let me bring this
to a close-I pronounce openly for a new distribution of roles;
that which stood in front go behind! and let that which was behind advance to
the front and speak;
6.Let murderers, bigots, fools, unclean persons,
offer new propositions!
7. Let the old propositions be
(Each character appears on the far left and far right, lit
in a single beam.)
JIMMY:(SL) That kid's gonna be a winner Major
leagues Big time World's not gonna shoot him in the ass like it done
me. Not gonna get shot in the ass like me Not like me Not like
me I'll tell ya
JACK: (SR) Lots 'a fellas keep a gun in the
house. Lots 'a fellas.
MARIE: (SR next to JACK) What about my
boy? Him too? Is he not right?
BRENDAN: (appears center stage
down.) Reading from Leaves of Grass: WHEN I read the book, the biography
famous, And is this, then, (said I,) what the author calls a man’s
life? And so will some one, when I am dead and gone, write my life?
(As if any man really knew aught of my life;
Why, even I
myself, I often think, know little or nothing of my real life;
5 Only a few hints—a few diffused, faint clues and
indirections, I seek, for my own use, to trace out here.)
Judging others Easy to judge Easy to judge others
you know these voices? Have you heard them? Our voices. Your
voices Voices we all hear
They are not silent.
next to BRENDAN.)
JACKIE: (reading) WHEN lilacs last in the door-yard
bloom’d, And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the
night, I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring; Lilac blooming
perennial, and drooping star in the west, and thought of him I