THE TWENTY-FOURTH CHALLENGE
Food. Cook and prepare food on stage.
It needs to come from a personal place. It can be taboo.
This is, no doubt, a “campfire play” vs a “raindance play”
Make it about why we are who we are, but that doesn’t have to be innocent.
Make it sensual in terms of the sizzle and smell.
Share it with the audience? Why not?
(there are few things more satisfying than getting to the words End of Act One or End of Play – here’s the last of the latest version of Spellbound, for now
The rest of act two is here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here and now, the end of it)
MICAH and DUNCAN walk together as the lights shift.
The metaphysical supply store fades into the dark as
MICAH’s place, with the fallen guitar, appears.
MICAH and DUNCAN walk into the light and MICAH picks up the guitar.
It’s weird, the more time I spend with the guitar, the more sensitive I am about it being bumped into or knocked over. It’s like the American flag, I’m not supposed to let it touch the ground.
You guys spend a lot of time with the guitar?
Yeah. It seemed like a safe kind of intimacy, for a while. Plus, you know, something physical between us, literally.
Guitar hangs low in just the right places.
My musical chastity belt.
He wrote me a song.
He made it simple, too, because he wanted me to be able to play it myself if he wasn’t around.
That idea brings MICAH up short.
He’ll be around. Again. Just give it a little time.
In the meantime, he gave you a song.
You should play it.
Right now? No.
I’m a very non-judgmental audience.
I’d like to hear it.
The kind of song he’d write about you probably says just as much about him as it does about you.
I could get to know you both a little bit better.
He’s really a much better guitar player than I am. It’s his job.
He’s not here. And he wrote it for you to play. You should play it. If you want.
Oh, I want to.
Pretend I’m not here if you want, if that helps. Close your eyes.
Then I really won’t be able to play. I don’t have it memorized.
Focus on the guitar then.
Whatever gets you there.
MICAH starts to play, then realizes the sound is off.
We knocked it out of tune.
Tune it. I’m in no hurry.
Normally, Auggie has little stories he tells, bantering with the audience while he quickly tunes the guitar. I’m not that quick, and I have zero stories at the moment, my mind’s a blank.
I’ve got a story.
Great. You talk, I’ll tune.
MICAH tunes the guitar as DUNCAN speaks.
I owe my existence to a busted green metal alarm clock.
My grandma, my mom's mom, had an older sister and two younger sisters and a brother, and into their young adult years they all lived with their parents in a crowded house across a narrow alley from a woman who took in boarders, mostly young men who came to town to work in the local factory.
Well, one day, the neighbor landlady came over and asked my grandma's older sister Constance for help. Turns out one of the boarders in her house wasn't waking up, and she was afraid he was going to be late for work. His alarm clock apparently didn't go off, and no amount of calling from downstairs or even knocking on the door seemed to be waking him up.
The window in Constance's room on the second floor was just across that narrow alley from this guy's room. So Constance got herself a broom, opened her window, and just kept poking at the guy's bedroom window until it roused him. He came to the window, opened it and poked his head out, confused, and Constance told him, "You overslept, you're going to be late for work." And with that, the guy hurried off to get ready.
Well, at the end of the work day, Constance was waiting out on her porch for that young man to come back home. She was waiting with my grandma, of course. In those days, a young woman couldn't be thought to be just waiting around, lying in wait for a man to walk by. Two sisters who just happened to be enjoying a summer night out on the porch, however, that was perfectly respectable.
Home the young man came, and he was on the lookout for Constance, as well. He introduced himself. His name was Bruce. He thanked her for her assistance in helping him keep his job. He complained that this wasn't the first time his alarm clock had failed him. He asked if he might come to call again.
And so he did. And since my grandma was Constance's constant companion, Bruce brought a friend. His name was Andrew. The two couples went out on double dates together. And that was it. My grandma put thoughts of all other boyfriends out of her head, and set her cap, as she liked to say, for Andrew. Both couples were married within a year of each other.
Andrew and my grandma had only one child - my mother. Who met my father. And here I am.
My great-uncle Bruce smoked a pipe his whole life, developed emphysema, and spent his last few years hooked up to a little oxygen tank that he dragged around on wheels behind him. Sometimes Constance helped. His breathing in those last years was more like wheezing, shallowly, with great effort. Bruce fought to stay with Constance as long as he could, but eventually his lungs were just done. Constance only outlived him by a year. Though she had her children, without Bruce, Constance was lonely. Almost a year to the day after she put Bruce in the ground, Constance died in her sleep. Her daughter found her. It was a peaceful way to go. When they cleaned out Constance's house, her daughter found something tucked away in the back of a kitchen drawer - a busted green metal alarm clock.
I don't know if Bruce gave the clock to Constance as a joke, or a gift, if she swiped it when he wasn't looking, or rescued it from the trash, or he just hung onto it himself. But that busted green metal alarm clock was the reason they met. So they hung onto it, for the rest of their lives. No matter how many times they moved, no matter how many times they downsized their possessions and threw things away.
That busted green metal alarm clock is the reason Bruce met Constance, and Andrew met my grandma, who gave birth to my mother, who gave birth to me.
So I owe my existence to the fact that one morning back in the 1930s, a man's green metal alarm clock failed to ring.
I believe in magic but -
Magic's got nothing on that.
MICAH finished tuning the guitar a long time ago and is just standing there, staring at DUNCAN.
So, you gonna play that thing or what?
Oh. Yeah. Sure.
MICAH strums the guitar chords in a gentle rhythm. He’s not professional, but he’s not bad.
This can be as obvious or subtle a flirtation from both directions as you like. But it should be clear something is starting between the two of them.
I blame you (C major chord)
for the (A minor chord)
blush in my (F major 7 chord)
cheek. Don’t (G major chord)
tell me the (C major chord)
heart’s just a (A minor chord)
mus-cle (F major 7 chord), (G major chord)
To touch your (F major 7 chord)
face your (G major chord)
hair your (E minor chord)
hand; I (A minor chord)
hold you (F major 7 chord)
and I (G major chord)
un-der-stand (E minor chord), (A minor chord)
MICAH’s phone rings.
MICAH stops briefly to check.
You should answer it.
MICAH answers the call.
AUGGIE, on the phone, and SARAH appear in another pool of light.
Hey. How’re you doing?
OK. How about you?
And Sarah. And the baby
See you tomorrow?
Yeah. I’d like that.
Oh. OK. Good.
It’s gonna be a little weird for a while.
But that’s OK.
We’ll get through it. If you want.
We can talk more, tomorrow?
Get a good night’s sleep. We’ll start fresh, tomorrow.
Have a good night, Auggie.
They hang up.
AUGGIE’s relief makes SARAH relieved.
So, that was the first verse.
And the chorus?
MICAH plays again.
There was a
hole at the (D minor chord)
center of my (G major chord)
life; (C major chord), (C major chord)
Another pool of light appears, revealing JEFFREY, looking at his grandmother’s grimoire which he holds in his hands.
We can now see all the characters on stage at once, JEFFREY; AUGGIE and SARAH, as MICAH continues to sing to an attentive DUNCAN.
Hole at the (D minor chord)
center of my (G major chord)
life; there was a (C major chord), (C major chord)
hole at the (D minor chord)
center of my, (Am minor chord)
center of my (Em minor chord)
life; But (Am minor chord)
life’s a (D minor chord)
whole lot (G major chord)
better now with (C major chord)
you. (C major chord)
MICAH and DUNCAN look at each other.
The lights fade to black on JEFFREY
Then AUGGIE and SARAH
And finally MICAH, DUNCAN, and the guitar.
END OF PLAY