From the Play
Play Excerpt: CHARACTERS
NORMAN TUBBS: In his thirties, a research specialist experimenting in new modes of intervention with drop-out potential children in the schools.
WAYNE JEFFERSON: 9TH grader, African American, exceptionally bright, thinks metaphorically, which is rare for a 15 year old kid. His strongest attribute is his laughter–which is a defense as much as a release.
MARTIN ZALINSKI: The ‘mascot’ of the group, always looking for attention–a non stop talker. 9th grader but immature. He is also a bit of a clown. He does not relate well to his peers.
STEPHANIE CALDWELL: Also in the 9th grade. She comes from a somewhat wealthy upper middle class family and she has recently been caught in the middle of a divorce situation.
FRANCINE WATERS: 17 year old African American. She is loud, somewhat defensive, but also insecure. She has real problems with school, and is still at about the 6th grade level in reading and writing.
A room in a high school. It is the last period of the day. Set could consist of natural objects such as a hall tree and a table to put the props on, or it could go more abstract, using frames, which are like doorways, with hooks on them. Ideally the scene transitions could be supported by the use of meaningful lighting changes. Music is used to help support the ‘bell’ sound indicated. Chairs can be used, institutional, but rearranged to support the action of the scene. Characters don’t have to leave the stage to ‘exit’, sometimes they just turn their backs on the audience until their next ‘entrance’.
(Bell rings. Sounds of kids in hallway. Lockers banging. Shouts. NORMAN TUBBS enters laden with a box of props, hats, and costume pieces which he starts distributing over the ‘frames’ at the back of the ‘room’. He is whistling. Rumpled looking, he wears glasses. MARTIN sticks his head in.)
MARTIN: This the place. (Waves a piece of paper.) You Norman Toobs?
NORMAN: Norman Tubbs. Have a seat.
MARTIN: Yeah, O.K. (He sits, squirms, stands again. Picks up newspaper.) You gonna use this for something?
NORMAN: Put down the props, Martin.
MARTIN: Props? Sorry, it looked like a newspaper to me. How come you know my name? (A look from NORMAN.) O.K., I just want to know what’s going down–they said we didn’t have to do this–whatever it is. Said it’d be something different. I’m good at this sort of thing. My older brother Frankie said I should be on the stage–a natural–I was gonna go out for the school play ‘DRACULA’C “I vant to suck your blood.” Pretty good, eh? Frankie said I was a natural. You want to see my bird imitations? A duck. (He ducks.) A swallow. (He swallows with a gulp.) A humming bird. (He hums.)
NORMAN: Did Frankie ever go out for any of the school plays?
MARTIN: Naw. He coulda done it though if he wanted to. He could do anything. You should see him do Jackie Chan. Hi-ya!
(He goes into his karate routine. WAYNE JEFFERSON walks in. MARTIN stops his act. WAYNE crumples up the paper he has, walks in and sits down. Impassive. He will endure the hour. MARTIN sits, crossing his legs in front of him and leaning back the same way WAYNE does, trying to act cool, but somehow it doesn’t look quite as good on Martin. He can’t seem to sit still.)
NORMAN: Wayne Jefferson?
WAYNE: (Raises hand.) Yes sir. Right here, sir.
NORMAN: Would you like to give me the bag?
WAYNE: (Long look.) My bag stays with me.
NORMAN: You know the conditions Wayne. No bags, no books.
MARTIN: Yeah, that’s why I agreed B no books. (Laughs.)
WAYNE: No sharp or blunt instruments. Nothing to commit suicide with. You want my belt?
MARTIN: The bag, Wayne.
WAYNE: (Hands bag over.) You don’t open it. You put it where it is visible. You understand?
(NORMAN puts bag near his chair. FRANCINE enters, jiving to her walkman, wearing headphones. She starts talking to NORMAN as she is dancing.)
FRANCINE: Doc Fraley told me to tell you that Melanie Solkowski ain’t comin’ today as they is sending someone else down to take her place. . .
(NORMAN takes off her head set, and sets it down next to WAYNE’S bag.)
He touched me. You see that? I got witnesses. Nobody touches the lady. You could be in big trouble. . .
(WAYNE laughs. He high fives with FRANCINE. She blows a big bubble with her bubble gum and stretches it out. STEPHANIE enters tentatively.)
STEPHANIE: Mr. Tubbs? Hi, I’m Stephanie Caldwell.
NORMAN: Come in, Stephanie, take a sit.
(He refers to notes or a file form his briefcase. As STEPHANIE crosses the room, WAYNE chants softly.)
WAYNE: “Two four six eight, who do we appreciate. . .? Steph-a-nie? Rah-rah-rah.”
STEPHANIE: I don’t think this is . . .
NORMAN: Just sit down, Stephanie. You got a problem Wayne?
WAYNE: Yeah. I thought this little get together was going to be for us problem kids. I mean, if I had known that little miss cheerleader was going to be in attendance I would of wore a tie.
STEPHANIE: This isn’t going to work.
NORMAN: Just go ahead and have a seat and put your
bags down over there. (To WAYNE.) O.K.,Wayne, what’s your problem?
WAYNE: She’s a cheerleader.
MARTIN: ‘Rah, ray, sis boom bra.’
WAYNE: She lives in Bellaire. Her Daddy plays golf at Oakdale Country Club.
STEPHANIE: Not any more.
WAYNE: O.K., he plays at Ridgemont.
STEPHANIE: I’m not a cheerleader any more. I quit.
WAYNE: Once a cheerleader always a cheerleader. It gets in your blood–like malaria.
NORMAN: Alright. (Pause.) My name is Norman Tubbs. I’m here from the Intermediate Unit and will be conducting a series of ah. . . workshops. . . that deal with intervention with youth in crisis. . .
WAYNE: That’s us.
NORMAN: That’s right. No beating around the bush. You are considered, for various reasons, to be potential drop out kids. Now, the basic format that we’ll be using. . .
STEPHANIE: (Raising her hand.) Excuse me, uh. . . Mr. Tubbs?
NORMAN: Yes, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE: I don’t think I belong here.
NORMAN: Why’s that, Stephanie?
STEPHANIE: I’m not a . . . drop out.
NORMAN: Well, none of you have dropped out yet.
STEPHANIE: I mean. . . I don’t plan on dropping out.
NORMAN: (Checks file.) Let’s see. . . mostly C’s and
D’s last report period. Six unexcused absences. This period 8 unexcused absences, more “E’s” at mid term report. Anything else? Ah yes. “Stephanie is just not handing in her homework.” “When she is in class she falls asleep.” “Cannot keep up.”
FRANCINE: Join the club, Steph