Inside and Out

by Jean H. Klein
  • 10 minutes
  • 1 Male, 1 Female. 1 M or F. Max 3, Min 3

$5.00$30.00

 

This 10-minute poetic play by Jean Klein dramatizes a mother’s attempt to reach inside the autistic mind of her young son. Characters include Jonah, the boy, his mother, Jonah’s mind. This play is a great change of pace in an evening of short plays and as an introduction to discussion groups and classes in social work and mental health settings.

$5.00
$5.00
$30.00

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  • Review Script 5.00 Watermarked PDF Download
  • Review Script 30.00 Watermarked PDF Download

Performance Fee $5.00 A Production License Fee Per Performance (mandatory for all performances)

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Play Details

Overview

In Inside and Out by Jean Klein, a mother begins to discover a means of communication with her autistic son Jonah through music.  A third actor gives voice to Jonah’s tumbling thoughts. Although the mother does not quite pierce the veil, she is able to stimulate his inner voice, which the audience can hear.

From the Play

 

JONAH, the boy

JONAH, the mind

MOTHER, Jonah’s mother

The Scene: The bare trappings of a child’s bedroom. A bed, perhaps some stuffed toys or toy chest. Toys may be scattered randomly about the room.

As lights rise, Jonah, the boy, is lying in a fetal position. Jonah, the mind, is sitting off in the corner. (In one reading this part was effectively played by a woman.) Although he speaks Jonah’s thoughts with great vocal expression, his face remains expressionless throughout.

MIND
Three is an infinity of plums. Seven defines the universe. Eleven is blue with lightning. Thirteen follows . . .

MOTHER
(Offstage in a whisper.)
Jonah?

MIND
Stop! Seventeen’s falling fast. . . Catch it. Now . . .

MOTHER
Jonah?

(JONAH grunts.)

MIND
Loud, loud, don’t you know how loud . . .

(MOTHER enters holding laptop and touches Jonah gently on the shoulder.}

MOTHER
(singing)
Hush little baby you’re not to blame, One day you’ll look when I call your name.

MIND
Eyes look in, not out. in. out, in, out.. .Out hurts.

MOTHER
It’s Mama. Ma . . .Ma—Ma . . .

JASON
Mgggra . . . Mggrraaa. . .

MOTHER
Ma…..Ma

MIND
Mama. It’s so easy to think it. Why don’t you understand when I say it back? Please. Tell me what it you tell me what it means.

MOTHER
Jo. Nah.
(Jonah grunts.)

MIND
Jonah. I hear that. Why do you say that all the time? And do that funny thing with your lips? They curve up every time you say it. Jo-nah. What’s a Jo-nah? Does it come before or after 23?

MOTHER
Time to get up. We’ve got our lessons.

(JONAH drags himself uncomfortably into a sitting position. He moans uncomfortably.)

MIND
Ouch. It hurts when you touch me. Your hand like fire on my skin. Those things you say, so loud in my ears. Cover my ears, please.

(JONAH tries to cover his ears. She takes his hands in hers and pulls them to her.)

MOTHER
Please, Jonah. Can’t you look at me? I’d love it if you could just look at me.

JONAH
Mmmgra. Mmmmuuuu .

MIND
Who are you? You call yourself Mother. But you don’t answer when I say it. I
just said it. Mama. And my name is Jonah! Jo-Nah!

JONAH
JJJJJJJJJG’aaaa-

MIND
Why don’t you answer me? Mother. Mother. Mother. My name. My name.
Say it. Jonah.

MOTHER
Jonah…

JONAH
Gggggjjjjjjaaaa

MOTHER
Try it again. Jo-nah.

JONAH
Gggggjjjjjjaaaa

MOTHER
Jo—

MIND
No!!!! I said it. Jonah! Jonah!!!!

MOTHER
Jo-nah

MIND
Just like that! Jonah!!!!

(MOTHER gets out a laptop)

MOTHER
We’re going to try the computer again today. Here, Jonah. Give me your hand.

(JONAH tries to pull his hand back, but she holds onto it. JONAH grunts)

MIND
It hurts. The keys hurt my fingers. Your thumb is burning my wrist.

(She lays his hands gently on the top of the laptop.)

JASON
Ooooooow.

MOTHER
You remember what we did yesterday?

MIND
Yesterday. You use these words. They flow like a river in my head. I say them back and you don’t answer. I have a slate in the back of my head. I can see it even when my eyes are open. Just write on the slate. Teach me to write on yours. You must have one. Behind your eyes. Just look for it.

MOTHER

We typed words.

JONAH
Ddddddssssss.

MOTHER
Yes!

MIND
Yes! I held your hand and you typed a word. Words.

JONAH
Mmmgra. Mmmmuuuu .

MOTHER
No. Words, Jonah.

MIND
That was a word. You just can’t hear it. Like you can’t see the numbers . . .

MOTHER
Like this. Let me show you.

(The screen of the laptop is facing her.)

MIND
No, no, letters falling. Number like stars. Prime numbers. Indivisible. Like us. Inseparable. Words. They separate. Fall into pieces. Sentences fall. Into words. Words explode into letters and fly away. One is one and always one.

(MOTHER touches the keys.)

MOTHER
No, words, Jonah. Like this, Jonah. (She types out the letters.) J.O. N.A.H.

MIND
No, the slate. Write on the slate. Make it say Jonah.

(JONAH shakes his head wildly and tries to pull his hands away.)

MOTHER
Okay, let’s try something else. (JONAH wriggles.) Just give me your hand.

MIND
Do you know it hurts? Where is the music? Play the music.

MOTHER
You were able to write something. Remember?

MIND
Remember. What is that? Today is today is today. Forever and ever. So much hurts me. I try not to hold my ears when you talk to me. I know you don’t like that. But so loud sometimes. Your voice is so loud. Why is the music never loud?

MOTHER
That’s right. Just hold your fingers over the keys.

MIND
The smell of your perfume is fuchsia. Too bright for this room. I can’t see my slate. It all mixes together.

(She turns the computer toward him.)

MOTHER
Here. You can see the screen now.

JONAH
(In a tone that could be pleasure or pain.)
Oooooooow.

MOTHER
Look! You typed an “I.” That stands for you, Jonah. You are “I.” I am “me.” Together, we are “we.”

MIND
Fuschia and lilacs all dancing together. Swimming together. Letters all floating toward the edge. Bright fish in the sunlight. If you could only see. My slate won’t hold it all. What if it breaks? What will I do then?

(JONAH tries to hold onto the screen of the laptop, but she holds his hands over the keys.)

MOTHER
Just a little more for today.

MIND
What are you doing? I try to look at it. Too bright. Bright breaks. Don’t break the slate.

JONAH
BrrrBrrrGgggg

MOTHER
Don’t stop now. You’re doing well!

JONAH
Nnnnnnnngggggg

MOTHER
Don’t give up .. .We can’t give up. (Jonah twists and tries to get away.)
We did it yesterday. We got almost to the end.

(Jonah thrashes his head back and forth.)

MOTHER
You will do it. It wasn’t just an accident.

MIND
There are no accidents in numbers. They’re music. Let me listen to them.

(A Mozart string quartet begins to play very faintly in the background. The music is only in his head.)

MOTHER
Give me your hands! (He tries to sit on them. She pulls them out.) The doctor says we have to practice. That you might talk to me with this. I want to hear you, Jonah, oh, God, how I want to hear you.

(She forces his hand over the keyboard. He tries to pull it back.)

MOTHER
Give me your hand! Like you did yesterday. Give it to me.

(They struggle together. Finally Jason yanks his hand free and it flails in the air, hitting the laptop. His mother grabs for it and tries to hold it still. At one point it looks as if he may be conducting music. As he flails, his hand hits the keyboard. JONAH yells in pain. MOTHER stops and takes his face in her hands.)

MOTHER
Oh, Jonah. I’m so sorry. You try to hard and I . . . Oh my sweet boy.

(She grabs him to her. He accepts her embrace passively.)

MIND
Do you know how it hurts, this touching. And yet you seem to need it, this burning bright that sears me. Only those notes, like cool petals falling from the sky. Only those . . . Only those . . .

(The music is louder. MOTHER releases him and sits back, looking in his face. As she speaks, he seems to mouth words after her, silently.)

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