Let That Go (Play Excerpt)

I was an idiot when I was 16. I talked like I knew everything, but I had no clue about 99.9999% of the world that existed outside of my small high school. I didn’t understand how to put myself in the shoes of people who weren’t like me- girls, gay students, and others that didn’t really fit in (I had girl friends, gay friends and others, but being friends with someone is not the same thing as really trying to understand them). The only reason that I’m not constantly reminded of my embarrassing ignorance is because social media didn’t exist yet. I graduated in 2003; Facebook wasn’t founded until 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2011. It was more common for high school students to have a car than a cell phone, and the first camera cell phone wouldn’t be released until November 2002, seven months before I graduated and way too expensive for regular high schoolers. Basically, there’s no evidence of my foolishness.

Today’s children don’t have that luxury. They can’t be anonymous morons like I was. They’re growing up in a world where everything they do is recorded and documented on the internet forever, and most of them don’t really understand the consequences of that (hell, many adults don’t understand the consequences of that). I’m fascinated by the idea of how young people will navigate a world of constant surveillance, not from the NSA or the CIA, but from their friends and even themselves. I started working on a play a couple of years ago to explore this idea. I never finished it, but I think there’s some decent writing that I want to share. I may even return to the idea if I can find the time, but for now, here’s an excerpt from that play.

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Title: Let That Go 

 

Cast of Characters

Malcolm- A boy in his mid-teens.

Huey- A boy in his mid-teens.

Rosa- A girl in her mid-teens.

Angela- A girl in her late teens. Rosa’s older cousin.

Fred- A boy in his mid-teens.

Harriet- A girl in her mid-teens. Malcolm’s younger sister.

Miscellaneous characters.

 

Act I

Setting: A run-down outdoor basketball court. Grass shoots up through the cracked cement. One of the hoops is missing a net. The children are playing under the hoop with a net.

At Rise: MALCOLM, FRED and HUEY are shooting around the basketball. They are laughing and rough-housing while trying to grab rebounds. The boys play for a few moments before HUEY calls a time out. FRED sits on the edge of the court. MALCOLM continues to shoot.

HUEY

Y’all started Mr. Olman’s Egypt assignment yet?

FRED

Not yet. I started thinking about what I want to write about though. I wanna do Egyptian gods.

MALCOLM

Man, that’s boring. Everybody’s gonna write about that. I’m gonna write about making mummies.

HUEY

You mean the embalming process? Yeah, that’s a good idea! I wish I’d thought of that.

MALCOLM

(Shoots the ball at the basket)

Don’t take my idea, you gotta find your own.

HUEY

I’m not going to! I just gotta think about it.

FRED

(stands up)

So what if other people write about the gods? I can pick different gods than they gonna use.

MALCOLM

What if y’all pick the same gods?

FRED

We won’t. I’ma pick some really different gods. Not like Rah or Anubis, something real different.

MALCOLM

(Sarcastically)

If you really want to be different, then pick a different topic.

(FRED lunges for the ball, and MALCOLM easily avoids him. The three boys begin playing basketball again. From the other side of the stage, ANGELA appears. She walks deliberately towards the boys, wearing ripped jeans, a fit t-shirt and sneakers.)

ANGELA

(yelling)

Hey, Malcolm!

(The boys stop playing basketball. FRED is holding the basketball, staring in the direction of ANGELA. HUEY takes a step back. MALCOLM takes a step forward, trying to recognize her.)

MALCOLM

Yeah, who’s that?

ANGELA

Who do you think it is?

(MALCOLM takes a few more steps forward, then recognizes ANGELA)

MALCOLM

Oh, Angela! Yo, what’s up! What are you doing home from college?

ANGELA

I came home for my mom’s birthday this weekend. So how’ve you been? Anything new?

MALCOLM

(shrugs)

You know me, same old stuff.

ANGELA

(steps closer to MALCOLM)

Really? That ain’t what I heard. I heard you got a new hobby. You into photography now?

MALCOLM

Photography? Who told you that?

(ANGELA takes out her cell phone from her pocket. FRED edges forward. HUEY stays still.)

ANGELA

You take pictures, right? And you like to show people the pictures you take. Like this one?

(ANGELA shoves the phone into MALCOLM’S face. He leans back to see the picture that has been floating around the school for the last week. He looks worried for a moment, then defiant. He slaps her hand away from his face.)

MALCOLM

Get that outta my face. How’d you get that picture?

ANGELA

From Rosa, stupid. You sent it to everyone on your friend list, including her. She called me the day after saying that everyone at school is calling her a slut, that even the teachers are treating her differently.

MALCOLM

I didn’t mean to do that! I only meant to send it to one person, I messed up and-

ANGELA

Shut up!

(ANGELA pushes MALCOLM to the ground. MALCOLM looks up at her angrily, but doesn’t try to stand up. FRED rushes over to help MALCOLM, but ANGELA shoots him a look and he stops cold. HUEY moves closer, but keeps a distance between himself and MALCOLM.)

You think because it was an accident that makes it okay? Did you “accidentally” take that picture in the first place?  Did you “accidentally” decide to send it to one person?

MALCOLM

(sits up)

She shouldn’t be doing that stuff if she don’t want no one to know about it.

ANGELA

(kicks MALCOLM in the leg. MALCOLM clutches his leg, screaming in pain.)

She was doing it to you, you stupid asshole! Are you that dense? Or are you so much of a coward that you can’t even admit you messed up?

FRED

(Stepping forward)

Come on, he said it was a mistake. He didn’t mean to-

ANGELA

I don’t know you, but you need to shut up and back up before I whoop your ass too. Your boy wants to act like he’s the man, let him act like it with me. I been beating his ass since before his little dick could even get hard.

(FRED backs off. MALCOLM releases his leg and staggers to his feet)

MALCOLM

You want to fight me over this? As long as I’ve known you, and you take Rosa’s side?

ANGELA

I want to kill you over this. The only reason I didn’t really hurt you was because Rosa asked me not to. You don’t get it, do you? That picture is on every cell phone in that whole school now. Some of your boys probably showed it to some of their boys, and then they showed it to some more people. It’s out there forever now. And all those people who saw it? They ain’t asking who the nigga with the little dick is in the picture, they asking “who’s the girl?” “Who’s that bitch?” You’re too much of a punk to put your face in the picture, but you put hers. Matter of fact, I am gonna kill you right now.

(ANGELA lunges for MALCOLM. MALCOLM dodges her and runs behind HUEY. FRED steps in between ANGELA and MALCOLM, his hands up).

FRED

Look, what Malcoln did is messed up, real messed up. He was trying to send the picture to me, and shit got messed up.

ANGELA

So you wanted it? That’s what gets you off, looking at your boy with another girl?

FRED

No, you think I wanna see this dude’s dick? I deleted it as soon as he sent it. Rosa’s my friend too. We didn’t mean for this to happen.

ANGELA

(Yelling to HUEY)

What about you, being all quiet? Was you a part of this too?

HUEY

(Takes a step back and puts his hands up)

I promise, I didn’t have nothing to do with this. That was all Malcolm, he did that on his own.

ANGELA

(Straightens up from her lunge, and rubs her hand across her hair to flatten it.)

Yeah right. All y’all are innocent, everyone just made a mistake, no one meant for shit to happen. And here you three are, playing basketball and laughing, while Rosa’s hiding inside her house to get away from all the dudes who keep harassing her. I’ll be back for all three of you. It’s your turn to hide.

(ANGELA turns to walk away. She turns back around and kicks the basketball off stage, the exits on the far side of the stage. The three boys regard each other silently for a moment.)

MALCOLM

Shit.

 

ACT I, Scene ii

Setting: The hallway of the local high school. The linoleum tiles are cracked and worn. Paint is chipping off the lockers which line the walls. An EXIT sign sags from the ceiling.

At Rise: ROSA is standing in front of her locker, flipping through a stack of papers in her hand. The hall is deserted save for ROSA.

 

ROSA

(Fumbles through the papers again. She tosses the papers into her locker and slams it shut. She hurries off STAGE LEFT. The stage is silent and empty for a moment. ROSA re-enters from STAGE LEFT, going to her locker again. She opens it and grabs the pile of papers again. She begins to read the first piece of paper out loud.)

“Rosa, your conduct has violated the terms laid out in the Student Handbook. The sharing of inappropriate images on school property is forbidden, and this rule is strictly enforced by the administration. A copy of this letter has been sent to your home address. You must return this letter and the accompanying conference schedule, with a signature from your legal guardians and a time to meet with school administrators, no later than this Friday…”

(Stops reading the letter. ROSA allows her hand to sink slowly. The bell rings, and the hallway is flooded with students heading to their next class. None of them notice ROSA as she stands next to her open locker, motionless. The hallways clear, and ROSA is alone again.)

ROSA

So do I tell my parents about the picture, or wait for Mrs. Adams to do it? Fuck.

(HARRIET walks in from STAGE RIGHT. She is wearing her school uniform and a large backpack. She sees ROSA and hesitates for a moment. ROSA doesn’t seem to notice her.)

HARRIET

Uh, hey Rosa.

(ROSA looks over at HARRIET, but doesn’t say anything.)

How have you been?

ROSA

Great, just great.

(ROSA places the papers behind her back and closes her locker.)

HARRIET

I’ve heard some of the stuff going around school. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay.

ROSA

Well I am. I’m okay.

HARRIET

You don’t seem okay. What’s that in your hand? I could hear you reading it all the way down the hall.

ROSA

Then you know what it is, don’t you?

HARRIET

I wasn’t eavesdropping, I just heard you saying something. Come on, don’t be like that.

ROSA

Be like what? What do you want to say to me? We don’t have nothing to talk about.

HARRIET

I want to say I’m sorry. I want to say more than that, but I’m not sure. Like I wannna help, but I don’t know how.

ROSA

You wanna help? Leave me alone. I don’t have time for you stumbling around with your words and feelings. You got something to say to me, figure it out and come back.

HARRIET

I didn’t do anything wrong, so stop treating me like I did. That was my brother, not me.

ROSA

So I still gotta be cool with you, is that it? ‘Be mad at my brother, not me?’ You ain’t worried about how I feel, you’re worried about how YOU feel. You got the nerve to tell me how I need to treat you?

HARRIET

I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just saying, we’ve been friends for a long time.

 

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