Setting – A room for a meeting, chairs, table, a coffee machine
As simple as needed, as complex as the budget wants
Time – Now…..very now
Cast of Characters
(Many characters will be onstage at beginning of play and throughout – with appropriate staging, parts may be doubled as necessary)
JEANNIE (The leader) 50s -60s
GEMMA – (30s)
CLARK – (70s, dapper dresser, Southern accent)
WANDA/NEECY– (older, black)
RHONDA/MARIA – (older)
FLORENCE – (older)
SAVANNAH – (20s, looks older, Southern accent)
KYLE – (teenager)
KARL – (Kyle’s great-grandfather, 100)
FRANKLIN – (70s, dapper)
(The set is simple to start, a table with chairsin the corner of the stage. About 15
minutes before the play begins, a woman will come on. This is JEANNIE,in her 50s-60s, and she starts to arrange the chairs and table for the meeting. Thiswill help get the crowd in earlier, as the play does not start untillights up, but there can be some interesting business to watch.
JEANNIE puts the chairs in a semi-circle, with part of it open so that, effectively, it feels like the audience is in some of the chairs. She now starts to brew some coffee, set up a plate of brownies, cookies - nibble food - and get the cups ready. While she is preparing, others will start to arrive. The order of arrival will be different every night, just like it is at a real meeting. There will be a total of at least eight people, all ages, from teen to 80s, more women than men, all colors and racial ethnicities will be represented - and in the full-length version, more characters, with each actor doubling, possibly tripling.
While she is getting ready, we can see vignettes from homes and caregivers at various locations in the theater. One person is making a meal, another getting a person dressed for bed – we don’t have to see the other person in all these, but in some we can.
One young man is getting something and we hear him…’Grandpa, I put your coffee right here, don’t spill it….I’ll be home in a few hours’
A woman is putting a bathrobe on her loved one and we hear her….’There, that should keep you warm….just don’t take it off!’ And one younger woman is seen holding a pillow….she hugs it to her and we hear….’It would be so easy…..if you just used this pillow, it would be so easy to get comfortable……’
As the house lights go down, the actors look at their people being cared for and all say together…WILL YOU BE ALRIGHT? House lights down, stage lights up.
Now everyone is getting coffee and talking amongst themselves., JEANNIE goes backstage and wheels out the final prop, a wheelchair with the sign CAREGIVERS ANONYMOUS.
SAVANNAH, the woman who had the pillow now enters, shelooks around for a chair to sit in, but they are all filled. Jeannie sees her and zooms over with the chair.)
JEANNIE - You're new! And welcome! We always love a fresh face! Well, actually, we
love anyone's face because most of us have to take care of someone and sometimes, just sometimes......we get really sick oflooking at that same face all day! Right gang?
(The others laughand agree.)
JEANNIE -And other times, we get really annoyed, like whenour loved ones do stupid things,
like diabetics who eat a chocolate cake for breakfast,washed down with a liter of Coke,of course! Or they have back surgery and are toldDO NOT LIFT ANYTHING and they come homeand what do they do?
(She encourages the othersto join in)
GROUP – (TOGETHER) THEY LIFT!
JEANNIE - THEY LIFT! Even though theyknow it could end them up with PERMANENT
DAMAGE or BACK IN THE HOSPITAL! Or they refuse to take their medicine ...oh,yeah! Or they run out in the street naked because they are now two years old inside their brain, but they have adult bodies and no one wants them running around without their clothing!
(She sits in the wheelchair and sighs)
JEANNIE - Now this doesn't mean we hate the people we love....but sometimes we do! And
we sometimes hate taking care of them! And sometimes we want to run away.......but we can't because we're all CRAZY! ...and.......we have some strange sense of duty or right and wrong....or...maybe....love.......and that's why....we come here....
(She now stands up from the wheelchair and takes it over to SAVANNAH who is shocked)
JEANNIE - So now, we welcome you to Caregivers Anonymous, where you can say anything
and it will be kept completely confidential - where you can tell us what you are going through...becauseeach ofus here is onthe same journey, maybe at different places along the path, but we can give you a heads up about where some of the potholes are.....and how to avoid them without becoming a pothead!
(The others jeer at this)
Or a drunk, or suicidal......or ........sick.
(She spins the wheelchair on one wheel)
And this......this is the wheelchair of fortune! Everyone has a chance to sit here and tell their story. Why a wheelchair? Because it's a reminder that, no matter how bad it is to be the caretaker.....it ain't soeasy for the ones we are taking care of! And when you are ready, you get to take a ride in it, and tell everyone why YOU are here.......
(She tilts the chair towards SAVANNAH)
JEANNIE - Welcome! Since you’re new, how about starting off and telling us your name?
(SAVANNAH shakes her head ‘no’ and Jeannie is not upset)
JEANNIE - Don’t wanna talk? Don’t worry….. here…’no’ means ‘no problem’! We can
start with someone else…..who wants to show her how it’s done? First, let’s tell her who we take care of or have taken care of……….anybody?
(While Jeannie gets another chair for Savannah, the group responds talking over each other)
MATTIE – My mother!
FLORENCE – My father…..
RHONDA – My mother and my father….and my mother has Alzheimers!
FRANKLIN – My wife…..
NEECY – My aunt…..
CLARK – My lover…..
GEMMA- My children…..
JEANNIE – My grandmother and my husband!
(She puts the chair down and Savannah sits)
JEANNIE - You see, we have a lot of people taking care of a lot of people! The way it works,
we have announcements…also known as the Daily Dilemma!……then we talk…about anything we want to……and it’s anonymous– what we say here….stays here!
(The others cheer this and applaud.)
(WANDA, an older black woman, stands up and walks over to the wheelchair, takes it
and spins it, then sits, as if she is a queen. She even removes a paper crown from her bag and puts it on her head. )
WANDA -There is a reason I have taken this chair for a spin first, as you know I have never
talked first in one of these here meetings.....
(The others argue about this)
WANDA -All right, I barely talk at all. But that is completely irrelevant today.....because I
am.... (Singing) Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty I am free at last!
(When she sees the faces of the others she stands quickly, waving her hands)
WANDA - No, not that kind of free! He's still alive, George is still alive! But I am free
because (she laughs) We went to a new doctor, and the doctor changed the medicine George has been using for twenty-five years. In two days, George was outta bed! He was prancing around like a young man, and then, I wake up today and find this note.....
(She opens a paper, reads)
Baby, I want to thank you for all you have done all these years......
Well, no, he didn't write that, I just was hopin'....
Dear Lena......I am sorry, but I have to go. I only took my clothes and a little money. We will be fine. Love, George
(Mocks) Love, George! I take care of him for sixteen years of his bitchin' and moanin' in that bed all day.....and he has the nerve to say...'love, George'? What a man!
The best part is, he left me for the nurse that helped take care of him! Ruby Gunn! Better as Rue....Be Gone! And good riddance to the both of them!
(She shakes with laughter)
WANDA - The best part is I have been prayin' for this for the last ten years, and when the
children helped to pay for a nurse to help me, I picked that Ruby and I hoped the two of them would like each other! And now, I got exactly what I wanted! Hallelujah!
(She goes to her seat and picks up her bag and puts her hat back on, turning to leave)
WANDA - I know they say, be careful what you wish for, and maybe tomorrow I will be sad,
but for right now, I am gonna go out and watch me a movie and sit at the beach until the sun goes down and do exactly what I wanna do for the first time in 16 years! And I am not gonna worry about gettin' home in time to relieve the nurse because.......the nurse has relieved me!
(She goes to leave, dancing a little jig as she sings out ‘Free at Last’ as the others cheer with her as they applaud, a woman comes in carrying a large box. GEMMA is in her thirties, very harried, but happy. She plunks the box down next to the coffee)
GEMMA - I'm SO sorry to be late, everyone, but there was a HUGE line at the bakery, and then I realized I had left my purse in the CAR! So, PLEASE forgive me, but I really don't care, because tomorrow is my BIRTHDAY!
(The others break into ‘Happy Birthday’ but she waves her hands for them to stop)
GEMMA - Thank you! But I HATE hearing that more than once, and since I will have to hear it
tomorrow, let's just have some cupcakes and donuts!
(Everyone comes over for cake and they wish her happy birthday, except for SAVANNAH who hangs back.)
GEMMA - Thank you! Thank you! Have as much as you like, it's my BIRTHDAY! (As they all return to their seats with a cupcake/donut, she stands up and looks around)
GEMMA - Thank you all for being such good friends, and for sharing my birthday, and
for helping through all the other days, which are sometimes not so happy.....
(She notices SAVANNAH and nods)
GEMMA - You’re new……
JEANNIE - She is – and she has no idea of what our stories are, so why don’t you show her how
(Jeannie wiggles and the others laugh, Gemma shakes her head)
GEMMA – Oh Jeannie! Only you would think it like that! (Laughs, turns to Savannah) I take
care of twopeople, my oldest son Eric, who has Down Syndrome, and my daughter Angela, who has cystic fibrosis. And I have two other children, Marybeth, who is four and Lyle who is just two, so I can be a little busy sometimes........But, I know that things could be worse, and coming here every week…….
JEANNIE – Every week?
(The others hoot)
GEMMA – Ok, ok! Coming here WHENEVER I can….has given me a whole new perspective
on ….what we all do. Remember Doug?
(She looks around, the others nod)
GEMMA - He took care of his 85 year old mother, and then—out of the blue— he was in a
terrible car crash, and he died....so, I guess, you just never know.
But that's all the personal stuff, because I wanna talk about something having to do with my birthday....something I have been thinking about for a long time. Because this is the day BEFORE my birthday, and since I've had children, I know that you remember the day they're born, but also, the day before, before everything changes.
Each of your kid’s birthdays is burned into your brain like a photograph, and you wonder what the day before your own birth was like, and since my folks are both gone, and I'm the oldest, I have no one to ask. But I wonder about another day. I mean, you all know that I am NOT a religious person...I do not belong to a church or anything, but this year, I just starting wondering about God,
CLARK – (Southern accent) Oh, my God! Are we gonna be talkin’ about Jesus, because if I
wanna hear about Jesus, I can go visit my family!
(The others ‘shush’ him)
JEANNIE – We have a rule – people can speak – and BELIEVE – what they want – without
(The others hoot)
JEANNIE - Without TOO much interruption! You go on, Gemma….
GEMMA – So…..I just starting wondering about God,
and what he did the day BEFORE the Big Bang, the day BEFORE the universe was born...... I mean, was he just resting? Or did he spend the whole day planning and making lists, because the whole universe is awfully well put together, and you know, maybe God is a bit OCD? Was he wondering where to put everything? Or did he have help, maybe? (cont)
GEMMA - Okay, sorry, I’ll get back on track, and I know this may be getting a little weird, but on the day before I was born.......did God know what my life was going to be like? My parents, and who I would marry? That I would have children with......special needs?
(She directs the next couple of lines to SAVANNAH)
GEMMA - By the way, I hate that expression. When people say that to me....(mimics) Oh, it must be so hard to have TWO children with SPECIAL NEEDS.....(Back to herself) I tell them, 'But ALL my children have special needs, it's just that two of them have EXTRA special needs.' And then they get a look on their faces that I just love, and I walk away. That's almost as good as a great birthday present, that look on their face.......but it doesn't help with my OTHER question.....did God know what I was getting?
(She takes a deep breath and walks toward her chair, nodding at the new girl)
GEMMA - Or is it just …..luck?
(She sits and takes a big bite of her cupcake. One of the older women, MATTIE, starts
to laugh hysterically.)
MATTIE - A birthday! You got cupcakes, and tonight off, but I'll bet you don't even get the day
off, do you?
(GEMMA nods and shrugs)
MATTIE - I knew it! I never got birthdays off either! Not for ages!
(She starts searching in her purse)
MATTIE - I even saved one of the cards from my brother.....
(As she continues to dig through the purse)
MATTIE - He and my sister would come to 'help' me with mom so I could theoretically have my
birthday off.....and they would arrive and I would give them a list for what Mom could eat and show them how Mom would need help in the bathroom, and how to reach me, and by the time I got to where I was going....a restaurant to meet a friend....the movies......there would be a call (imitates) 'there seems to be a problem with your mother…..
(She indicates the crowd knows the next and they join her)
GROUP and MATTIE – PLEASE CALL HOME!
MATTIE - And I would call, and there had been a problem, they had given Mom some raisins
and she had choked on them, even though right there on the list had been 'food to avoid' - all items that can be choked on, like nuts and popcorn and.......RAISINS. Or when they took her to the bathroom, Mom had slipped on the rug, even though, on the list, it said...(loud) Please help Mom all the way to the toilet, BECAUSE SHE MIGHT TRIP.
So, before I could eat, or see the movie, I had to go home. But they gave me beautiful cards..... (happy) Here it is!
(She holds up the finally-found-card to the crowd, then reads)
MATTIE - 'A day for relaxing......'
(The others laugh)
MATTIE - 'A day for dreaming.....'
(Now the others are really laughing)
MATTIE - 'A day for you.....'
(They are rolling, as she opens the card)
MATTIE - But not today!
(They all hoot and holler as she puts the card back into her purse)
MATTIE - The best laugh in town!
(She smiles, then shakes her head)
MATTIE - But then, she passed. And not just gas my friends, but the whole enchilada.
(She looks at the others, they join in)
FRANKLIN - Bit the dust!
RHONDA – Kicked the bucket!
CLARK – (Southern accent) Bought the farm!
NEECY - Crapped out!
JEANNIE - ......finito....
MATTIE - …….pushing up daisies...
FRANKLIN -.....Took the final bow……
RHONDA - Cashed in her chips!
MATTIE - ...croaked.....met one's maker.....took the final bow....in case you didn't figure it
out.....(takes a deep breath) she’s dead.
And suddenly, where I saw my brother and sister at least a few times a year, for
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mom's birthday......I haven't laid eyes on 'em for over five years. Maybe I'll see them at the next funeral, but I have a lot more time now. I can spend the whole day reading and watching TV, and many days I can't remember what day it is, because they're all the same. (cont)
That's why I still come to these meetings, even though my dear mother has been gone over eight years....to remind everyone here that it doesn't last forever, it helps to be grateful for what we have, every single day.
I guess when I asked God for a day off, he was listening, because now, I have them all off. So, my friends, when you ask for a day off, maybe you should......be more specific than I was.......because....
(She looks up)
MATTIE - Mom, I miss you......and now, I wish I didn't have so many days
(CLARK stands) CLARK –(Southern accent) Thank you, Mattie, I remember why I liked this group so much…not
the stories….the food! Okay, maybe the stories…. Boy, a lot of new faces for me! I know I missed a few meetins.... (The others laugh and shout at him) CLARK - All right, maybe a coupla years of meetins! But I had to go back home and take care
of all those little details that you need to take care of .....when somebody dies...... (The others offer condolences) CLARK - That's all right......I'm almost over it......just came back, because I wanted to do what
so many members here do.......come back and help those still in the trenches....am I right? (Cheers) CLARK - As some of you might remember, I am HIV positive now for over 20 years, amazin'
right?.....and Nate never got HIV from me, he was clean, we were careful...careful!...........(getting annoyed) ....and then he had to go up on that ladder, because God forbid!.... he did not want to ever appear like a sissy, even though he was 67 years old, and even though we HAD the money to hire some young man to climb up on the roof......(sings) it had to be him!.......(back to himself).....HE just hadta go up the top rung to make sure our gutters were clean! (cont)
CLARK - (cont) Because of my...condition.....we always thought I would go first......and he was
always in good shape, he ran.....he played golf......And then he goes and has a heart attack........and he dies.....and he falls off the ladder and breaks his hip....which wouldn't matter if he had stayed dead, but noooooo, the paramedics jumpstarted him and kept him going, and then I kept him goin.....another six years......with two operations that nevah really fixed the hip......the doctors would be so upset (imitates doctor, no accent) but this is such an unusual result.....hip replacements are 99 per cent successful!.......(back to himself) that was always a big help!....And then bedsores on his back and sores on his legs, and miserable.....and even though it has not been a picnic havin HIV,,,,,(shudders)
Takin care of someone....it was brutal! To be totally honest, I have no idea how I
woulda survived those years without alla you.......even if I am the only person heah who can make a decent cuppa coffee! (The others jeer and the man smiles)
CLARK - Ain't life strange......he wouldn't marry me in San Francisco, I told him we didn't have
to announce it when we went home to Tennessee.....just we would know,, ....our not-so-little secret......his family still liked to pretend that we were BUSINESS partners...... but NOOOOOO......no thought of a marriage....until .......he falls off the ladder.........and he has to have me take care of him.......and we are talkin' heavy care heah.......the big time......shots, and bathroom and showers and everyone here knows what I'm talkin' about..........because he was nevah outta that wheelchair after the fall...... (The others nod and shake their heads in solidarity)
CLARK - and suddenly HE wants to get married! Him! After alla these years.......of course, we
wouldn't be tellin' the family.....but he would deign to marry little ole me.......Me who was now takin' care of him.... (Listens to a question, nods)
CLARK - No, we never did get married.......and he died, I mean, REALLY died this time...and
that is the end of the story..... (Listens) CLARK - Why didn' we get hitched finally.....good question....I loved that man, more than
anythin' in the world....but I didn't marry him.....(sighs)....because I didn't want to........I thunk about it......a lot.....but...no...... (He spins the wheelchair, turns to go back to his seat, stops, looks back)
CLARK - I love myself too much.......to have married someone—anyone……out of pity......so
when he died, his very-much-still-alive mama got all his money....... and that, as my mama used to say....is how the potato chips fall.....
(As she sits the woman who stands next is RHONDA and she is laughing)
RHONDA - I don't have a lot to say this week, but I do have a question. One I've had a
few minutes to think about during the time spent waiting for doctors.
Why is everyone so upset at the thought of being abducted by aliens? I, for one,
am looking forward to it—it might be the only vacation I get!
So I have put a sign on top of my front porch that I hope they can see, and it says, 'Here I Am—Come and Get Me!'
(She waves at the ceiling in desperation as the others laugh)
RHONDA - So far, no luck......but I keep hoping!
(The others laugh and applaud as she sits)
JEANNIE – Can I go with you?
(Jeannie looks around as the others laugh about aliens)
JEANNIE - So, who’s next? Florence?
(FLORENCE has a big box that she brings and puts onto the wheelchair. She is smiling, but one can sense that is covering a little crazy—maybe not covering it so well, either)
FLORENCE - Hi everyone! I just wanted to come back to visit everyone before I send in my
paperwork for the Shark Tank....I figure you could help me improve my pitch to them.....because you see, I have the greatest new idea in the whole world, an idea no one has ever seen before......TRAVEL TOYS!
(The group looks a bit surprised)
FLORENCE - Oh, maybe I should say right away that these are travel toys.....for seniors!
There are over 64 million unpaid caregivers in the US alone, and when you are taking care of seniors, it's a lot like taking care of children.....maybe that's why they call it...second childhood! (cont)
FLORENCE - Well, when you have to keep a senior occupied for hours, days, without help, you need to have something that will give you that help......Senior Travel Toys!
(She opens the box and removes keys, shakes them)
FLORENCE - Remember how a one-year-old loves to play with keys...well, so do seniors! And
these look just like real keys! They make all the same noises that your car keys do - only your senior will not be able to drive with them! They can't start the car, drive down the street, crash into anyone! But they won't be able to remember that for long, so you can use them almost every day! Now this....
(She pulls a book from the box)
This is a book that can talk! And you can put in photos from the senior's family! And it will keep them occupied for hours.....so you can make dinner or do the wash! A truly great literary aid.
But this.....this is the best.....
(She takes out a phone)
FLORENCE - This looks like a real phone, and you can even dial.......
(She pokes at the buttons)
FLORENCE - But .....it doesn't work! And they can't figure out why!
These are all part of my invention.....and for just a million dollars, you can have 50% of what has got to be the greatest opportunity of a lifetime!
(The others are laughing, all except for SAVANNAH, who is horrified. She stands and looks at the group)
SAVANNAH- (Strong Southern accent)What are you all laughing about—this is the most
horrible thing that I have ever seen! And you all encourage this! I have been listening all night and I don't understand who allows a group like this to continue! It is sick! And I am going to report you all!
(She turns to go and JEANNIE stops her)
JEANNIE - You have sat here and listened and you have not shared, but we haven’t
forced you to….because we understand how difficult this is…… Because we have all been there, where you are today. And we are all there for each other, every day....because we all hate those we love sometimes......but most of all, we love them, and we come here so we can continue to care.....and take care.....so if you want to complain, we will listen....but never, do you hear us? Never, threaten to stop us........
Because we will hunt you down, and we will.....(gets very serious in her face) ...we will make you sorry that you ever tried to make trouble for us.....we will......(hisses)....make you take care of all of our people! We will bring them all over to your house and YOU can watch them while WE take some time off! Think carefully what you want to do, you have trouble taking care of ONE, how do you think you can handle.....a WHOLE ARMY? (The others laugh and SAVANNAH is confused)
JEANNIE - (Softer) We are all under incredible pressure – that’s why we have to think about
ourselves as diamonds…..right gang?
(The others join in …’diamonds in the rough’)
JEANNIE - WE have to have a place where we can all be ourselves without anyone watching.....we can laugh and cry and say horrible things about the people we take care of..... can make fun of second childhood, and can joke about having a puppet with more brains.......and you.....you can think about sharing……
(Savannah turns away)
JEANNIE – (Very focused) You’ve been here before, you just never came in…..I’ve seen you
in the parking lot, sitting in your car……so you have a reason to be here…..don’t you think it’s time……
(The others are quiet, and Savannah sighs deeply and stands up, first slumping, then squaring her shoulders)
SAVANNAH - Hello, my name is......no that's not important. I want to thank you all for bein' so
kind and tryin' to get me to talk with you. I don't think I'll be comin' back again, but I do think you deserve to hear my story......which appropriately enough involves a wheelchair, but, at this moment, I see no good fortune in it, so I will not sit in it.....
(She pushes the chair aside and takes a deep breath)
My husband, I'll call him Terry, and I met in a small town, where he was stationed before he left for Afghanistan. We fell in love very fast.....and got married very fast. And then he left.....for a tour that lasted 18 months. I was faithful to him, I don't know if he was to me, over there, at first that bothered me, but the others wives told me that if I worried about that, I would waste all my worrying time!
He came home and he was….. different. Very different. He had seen things that he wouldn't talk about, except with his buddies. And then he went back, for another 18 months. The second time was.....easier, and harder.
And he came back all in one piece. My friend Angie said that was somethin' to be grateful for....and I was. But he now wasverydifferent.
I suppose he was sufferin' from that PTSD thing, but I didn't know much, and the VA is not that helpful.
(Deep sigh) He was so handsome in his uniform. And he .....still loved me. Whatever he did over there, he didn't run around here. That I could tell. But I couldn't help him through his private hell.
My friend Angie told me I didn't have to live like this. Her husband Chris, he was weird, too, and she told him to (imitates friend) 'Get help or get out!' And when he refused, she got out. With their kids. And Terry and I didn't have any kids. Angie told me it was better that way, easier to go.
We had some horrible fights.
SAVANNAH - After one, I knew that I was gonna leave. The next day, I was gonna call the
lawyer, and be gone, back home, where at least my parents would let me stay until I could sort everythin' out.
(She looks out as if she can see him)
SAVANNAH - He left that night on his motorcycle......does that give you a clue what's about to
happen next? I got the call at 3 am from the police....... Most drunks don’t get hurt bad in an accident, but motorcycles….they’re different. Two tours in a war zone, not a scratch, but now….he was paralyzed.....waist down. What a waste!
He saw me in the hospital and he was under all this medication, and still in pain, and he grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes and he.....(hard to remember)....he said 'thank you for comin, baby, I love you......'
How could I leave him? I have seen him through five operations, and four years of therapy. He can use a wheelchair very well, but.......(trying not to cry).......there's still somethin' wrong with him! And I can't take it anymore! It's not fair! I was about to leave him! And then, for some stupid reason, I couldn't let him face this all alone.....not after he came back whole, just to lose it in some stupid bar fight.....
The lawsuit - which was just finished! -gave him enough money so that he will not have to worry for the rest of his life.
But me...what about me? I can't take it! Who's gonna take care of me if somethin' happens? I don't wanna do this for another fifty years! I don't wanna live with a man who can barely talk to me without yellin'! A man who will probably never walk again.......God forgive me for sayin' these things! But if I could kill him and no one would know, I would do it!
(She breaks down now and the others come over and try to hug her, she steps away)
Don't try to make me feel better! I feel like shit and that's all I deserve after sayin' somethin' like that!
And you haven't even heard the worst part.....
(Deep sigh) I still love him......
(Lights down. Curtain Act 1)
(Lights up as the group is still watching Savannah, Jeannie turns to the others)
JEANNIE - Quick show of hands – who has wanted to kill the person they are taking care of –
(Everyone raises their hands, except one older lady, MARGARET)
JEANNIE - Please be honest now……
MARGARET - I don’t believe in murder…..
JEANNIE - But you had another alternative….
MARGARET - (Matter of fact) I wanted him to be abducted by aliens.
JEANNIE - And so for the rest of you…. did it happen…….How many of you have killed the
person you’re taking care of?
(All put their hands down, jEANNIE takes a glass hands it to her)
JEANNIE - We’re all in the same boat here….might as well have a drink while we’re in the
(Woman in her sixties stands up, this is JACKIE. She goes to the wheelchair and holds the handles, as if seeing someone in the chair, then looks at others)
JACKIE - Am I the only one here tonight who's a paid?
(A couple of others raise their hands)
JACKIE - People think 'cause we're paid to care for someone, we don't really care, but that's not
JACKIE -I never had no grandparents, they was dead before I could remember 'em.....so....I
didn't have a lot of experience with old folks. The first lady I took care of, she was mean, no family left, no husband ever, no kids.....all her friends were dead.....and I don't think she had so many friends when they were alive! (cont)
JACKIE - But I took care of her for a coupla years......not easy. I was workin' for the state then,
had to take two buses to get to her....but they paid me, and I did it. Maybe not as cheeful as I shoulda been, but always nice to her.....even when she wasn't real nice to me. Then she started to get slower.....you know what that means....
(The others nod...one says...'oh, yeah!')
JACKIE - One day I come in, and she's lookin' through some old albums of her family, when
she was a kid, and she was cryin'.....'What you cryin' about?' I asked her, and she looked at me and I still remember.....she said....'I'm starting to forget things....and when I forget.....there's no one left to remember ......and when I die.....there'll be no one left to remember....me.'
And all of a sudden I saw what she was talkin' about....I mean, I got kids, so I don't think I'll ever be like her....but it was sad.....and I told her,'I'll write down your stories, and we can make a book' and she smiled, like the sun came out.
And we worked on that book of her life for the next few months, and she scraped together some money and we got it printed up nice, and I brought it to the library, to donate. And she still had enough energy to go, and the people met her, and it was nice.
Two days after we was at library, I see her sittin' there lookin' out the window on her back yard, and she was smilin'......and when I came back with her coffee....she was gone....
(She reaches into her bag and brings out a book)
JACKIE - Still carry the book with me. (Reads) The Life and Times of Edna May
Simpson......as told to Jackie Bintowski...that's me in case you didn't guess.....
And she left me what little she had....most important..... she left me her car, so I could drive to my next job, in a nicer neighborhood.....and that changed my life......but no one told me that it was gonna hurt so much when she passed......like a family member, almost.....the fact I got paid didn't mean nothin'......it still hurt......
(She touches the wheelchair again, goes to sit down, as she passes SAVANNAH she puts her hand on the her shoulder.)
JACKIE - And my husband, nothin' physically wrong with him and there ain't a week goes by I
don't wanna smash his head with board! So, honey, you ain't alone....
(The others laugh and then we hear a skateboard rattling in and a young man enters riding one, which he jumps off and grabs. This is Kyle, and the others give him looks, but affectionately)
JEANNIE - You know the rules! No skating in the building!
(The young man comes hesitantly to the wheelchair, sits in it and does a wheelie, laughs)
KYLE -Sorry, I just love my skateboard! I don't have a lotta time to ride....so I practice with
the wheelchair at home!... ….well, you know my mom, Brenda, well she couldn't come with me today because gramps, that's her grandfather.....that's my great grandfather....he's having a procedure, and she has to drive him, and I don't have a license yet, so, she told me I should come here now, when she’s not here, because….. it might help me....because I'm feeling kinda.....I dunno.....
(The others chime in with adjectives that might fit....'rotten?' 'horrible', lousy....'like running away' Kyle starts laughing and nods.)
KYLE - Running away! That's what I'd like to do......but not like that guy from before, whose
dad really died, I mean, that's not what I want.....I just want to be.....what I am, I wanna be fifteen for a few days.....without worrying about gramps.... and if he took his pills, or too many pills….if he can get to the bathroom without help…..make sure he doesn’t trip on my shoes!...Yeah, he’s the one…. he's a hundred now, it's really amazing, ever since he turned 100 in September, a lot of reporters come and the TV people. They love him, and so do I. I mean, he doesn't do a lot now except tell stories. They're good stories, it's just....when I was about six, seven, eight, he'd take me out for ice cream and a movie sometimes, and tell the same stories.
(He takes the wheelchair and moves it around the stage, pointing at things)
KYLE - He may be a hundred, but I musta heard those stories a hundred times! And no one
comes from the TV to ask how I take him for a ride every day in the wheelchair, to give him, you know, a little fresh air.
And I feel really guilty to feel like this.....(getting more upset) ...I mean, I know it's a blessing to have a grandparent, and even bigger blessing to have a great-grandparent. And I love my gramps.....he's a great guy, but....I just wanna know....when does my life start? I mean, when do I get to live, so I'll have stories for my grandchildren..... (in anguish) When does it get to be.....my turn?
(He moves the chair to the side, goes to sit down, as he finishes speaking, he will sit, and the others will approach him and put on a wig that is gray, and a jacket that an older person would wear, shoes with velcro....until he is no longer young, but .....his own great-grandfather. He stands and walks very slowly to the wheelchair, sitting with difficulty, then standing up, walking with a bit more strength)
KARL - I am not going to sit in that chair! What do I need that for? I can still walk! I'm not
going to be running in one of those marathons like some crazy old people do, but I can still get to the bathroom under my own steam!
My great grandson is a good kid.....but you hear only one side of the story.....his side!
And all of you....
(He indicates the others in the group and then the audience)
You listen to the other young people - and when I say young, I mean anyone under the age of 85! You listen to them complain about how tough it is to listen to all my old stories.....well, so what? They have no idea what it's like to be old! Now I can remember what it was like to be young....don't let anyone fool you....it was great!
Now all I have is stories, and when I tell those stories, I can see it in their eyes....(imitates) How many times do I have to listen to this?' (cont)
(cont) Ok, maybe I'm 100 years old, and they come to talk to me about how I lived so long? How the hell am I supposed to know? Am I God?
All I know.....is that I wish I was 15 again! I listen to people say 'ooh, how wonderful it must be to be 100....' What a pile of hooey! No one lies in bed at night and thinks.......Wow, I can hardly wait until I'm 100! I'm looking forward to being old and wrinkled and have liver spots and can't drink or smoke anymore! And all the ailments - mmmm, they sound so enticing! And most of my friends will be dead and gone! There's another bonus! All those funerals I can look forward to - what a shangri-la it is to get old!
(He starts to get tired, leans onto the wheelchair sits heavily)
Well, that's it for my energy for today, folks. What was that? Three minutes of excitement? A new record!
(He wheels away slowly, stops, looks back)
One thing, I do love that boy....it's a pleasure watching him grow up to be a nice young man.....(thinks) ....Payback......maybe that's why I lived this long....., I didn't listen to my grandpa, now I don't get listened to......maybe that's what he meant when he would tell me....what goes around, comes around.....
(He does a spin in the wheelchair....reminiscent of his great-grandson, and wheels off as lights fade on him come back up on the others. MARIA steps forward, an older woman, she is not fat, not skinny, not ugly, not beautiful, not much of anything, but when she opens her mouth, she has a beautiful voice, like honey, with a very slight accent. She goes over to SAVANNAH and looks at her.)
MARIA - So you think after what you told us that we're gonna be, what? Surprised?
Horrified? Upset? (She laughs) Honey, we have heard it all here! We are all in the same boat - we take care of someone. And we all have a story. And I'm gonna tell you my story.......
(The others protest, she waves her hands to quiet them)
.......even though everyone here knows it.....maybe it'll help you see that you are not alone! Look at me....
(She puts her face close to the other woman, who pulls back a bit)
No need to back away, I'm not that ugly anymore. I'm old and ugly, which is acceptable.....and lemma tell ya, I know the difference, because I was born ugly, and my own papa left us because I was so ugly. At least, that's what my mama told me, just before she left with my good-looking brothers, left me with my Aunt Anita......who raised me, and helped me.
(She pulls a scarf out of a pocket and ties it around her head, leaning her face away)
MARIA - Not so bad now, right?
(She takes the scarf off)
MARIA - I keep this scarf with me to remind me what it was like my whole childhood, it's what
I wore to school. Didn't help, they still made fun. My Aunt would say, 'pretty is as pretty does' and so is ugly, SO don't pay attention to mean people.'
I tried, but that meant I could only talk to her and the other old people where we lived in Long Beach after the war.
'But I'm so ugly, who will marry me?' I would ask her and she would shake her head. 'Not so hard to find a man, just go where there are sailors, men in uniform, pick one who is drunk, with a nice face, not mean. Men are simple, they will do almost anything when they are drunk or when they want a woman. The man is drunk, you drive to Las Vegas, get married, do the thing I told you about that you should only do when you get married, and bingo! You have a man!' And she would laugh, but I listened, and I saved my money and bought a car, and one day, when I was eighteen, I went downtown.
When the boys were not drunk, they ignored me. But once a few drinks were in, they were very....friendly. I picked one with a nice face, from Nebraska. He got so drunk, I didn't think it would work, that we would get to Las Vegas and he would be asleep. But sex wins......he told the minister he wanted to marry me and he smiled. He was blind....blind drunk.
I'll never forget his face the next morning when he woke up and saw me....
(Her eyes open wide and she steps back as if she's seen the devil.)
MARIA - I almost cried, but I pretended to love him. He didn't run away, and when it turns out
I was pregnant, his parents insisted on meeting me, and making him do the right thing. His mother looked at me and when we spoke, she said (Midwest twang) 'I thought for sure my son had done another idiot thing, like he did when he signed up for the Navy, but once I saw you, I knew he did good. Welcome to the family.'
And she kissed me, and I looked at her, she was older already, but I could see she had not been that good-looking as a girl......that is one of the great things about gettin' old, everyone hits the same level of ugly. And plastic surgery just makes it look plastic ugly!
MARIA - So now, I don't have to wear the scarf.
(She listens, the others are urging her to get to the point)
MARIA - All right, I'm getting there! Everyone's in a rush, that's the problem with the world,
too much rushing. Anyhow, my husband, Randy was his name, he dropped dead of a heart attack at 38, shoveling snow. No insurance, not much from the VA, so I had to work. What could I do? I did what I did my whole life, I took care of people. I had taken care of my Aunt, and then my mother-in-law, the word spread, and people would call, I would be on what I called...death watch.
Waitin' for people to die. But then, one day, oh, this was about twenty years ago, I was takin' care of a man, Mr. Hutchison, his name was, a nice man. He used to watch me when I cleaned up his room. He hated a messy room. He was almost blind and could barely go to the bathroom, so I had to help, and then he started having accidents, so we're onto diaper duty, and I could see he was a little embarrassed at first, then one day, I went by his bed and he touched me. You know...he touched me. And when I pulled away, he held my hand.
'Please' he said, 'I just want you to touch me.....but not because of a diaper. Because I'm a man.'
I thought I'd be horrified, but I wasn't because I understood. And then he said.....(she is very moved by this).....'You are so beautiful, Maria.'
I almost cried, no one had ever said that to me before. Not my parents who left me, not Aunt Anita, not even my husband could handle that lie, but here, he said it, and I knew he meant it, even if he was blind.
And then he told me he had a hundred dollar bill hidden under his mattress. Now in those days, $100 was all I was making a week, live-in, and my car's just had a leak in the radiator, so I thought...what the hell? He saw that I was hesitating, so he says, 'Don't worry, I can't do anything anymore, so you won't get pregnant' ....and we both laughed.
No one was home....so..... I took off his diaper, and..... I touched him, and he was so happy. He wasn't a rich man, but he gave me nice tips every week, and when he died, his daughter gave me a check for $5,000. She told me he left it for me in his will, but I think she knew what was going on. She said she knew I made him happy, that she knew he appreciated the good care. That I had ...what did she call it?.......helping hands.
(Looks at Savannah again, laughs)
MARIA - Oh, you can sit there judging me, but I'll bet you voted to give old people the right to
smoke that marijuana......funny, smoking is bad, then it's good, but sex, even with all the things you see now on the TV, sex is somehow still only for young people!
But it's not. And after Mr. H, I decided he was probably not the only older man in.....such circumstances, and I found these men, and .......now I have money saved, and the last gentleman who I took care of, Mr. Eddie, he left me $50,000, so right now, I'm taking some time off, and in my time off, I'm taking care of my cousin who just broke her hip. Because that's I do.....I help.
(She holds up her hands)
With my helping hands......
when NEECY, an older black woman enters, walking slowly, the others greet her, and Savannah sits, happy to be out of the spotlight, although some of the others go to her and put a hand on a shoulder, nod, etc. NEECY sees this and waves off questions)
NEECY - Y'all noticed I haven't been here in awhile, well, sorry to say, and I am
truly sorry to say this, but I became...(she shudders)..an OPNA.....
(The others react with horror, she holds up her hands to quiet them)
NEECY - I know, our greatest fear....one we all have deep inside, that we too, will
become....OPNAs.....for you new girl, I am not sayin' Oprah, I am sayin' OPNA because OPNA is the polite term for...Old Person Needing Aid.....
It was my own fault. I have not been as steady on my feet since the ear infection last winter. And I had a basket of laundry in one hand, and all the laundry essentials in the other to put into the car, because, of course, I wanted to save time by only making....can we hear a big shout out......by only making......
(They all join her)
WHOLE GROUP- ONE TRIP
NEECY –-ONE TRIP!
And so I did just that.....I had one trip.....right by the gate where the stones are a bit
uneven, and I am always admonishing my auntie to be careful. Well, as always, I
shoulda taken my own advice, but ......I haven't had a trip in years, so I guess this was it,
folks. Flat on my face....you can see the remnants of the bruises because, even after three
months, nothin' heals easy over 65.....
So I broke a wrist, and twisted my ankle, and my cousins had to finally come in and step
up and take care of their momma, and me, too. (cont)
NEECY - It was not a pretty few weeks there. My auntie is still a wonderful lady, but, God love
her, I'm lucky my neighbor saw me sprawled out there like an ink blot with all the
laundry flyin' in the street. At least the laundry that hadn't gotten dropped into the dirt......and of course, it wasn't on the trip there, it had to be after everything was washed. Ain't that the way it goes!
But one thing, I did get me some rest. They gave me some NICE sleeping medicine for
the pain, and I slept for I think mighta been a week. Oooh, that showed me why people
like dope so much, that saying they got now, you know the one, everybody says it....'no worries'.... musta come from someone on morphine......
Anyhow, things started to heal, and I am back on a modified schedule, because the doctor
told my cousins that if I wasn't well enough to help their momma, they would have to do
the whole job, and boy, did they start helping me! Finally treating me like I was worth something......
(She walks over to her chair)
NEECY - But bein' an OPNA......, just showed me what y'all been talkin' about all these years. It's better to be taking care of, than the one who's sick.....do I hear an Amen?
(She raises her hands and they all join her in 'Amen. A voice is heard approaching and an older man dances onstage, very dapper, with hat and cane.)
FRANKLIN - I know everyone is dying to hear what tonight's song will be...
(The others hoot- oh, no!not another one! Don’t say ‘dying’..all holler affectionately)
FRANKLIN - And tonight's song is—surprisingly enough.....in honor of my dear wife........
(He taps the cane and the others are quiet)
(Some of the others join in as they recognize the song, but only for the first paragraph)
Let me call you "Sweetheart," I'm in love with you.
Let me hear you whisper that you love me too.
Keep the love-light glowing in your eyes so true.
Let me call you "Sweetheart," I'm in love with you.
FRANKLIN (singing alone) - Let me call you sweetheart
'Cause you can't recall your name
And even though you can't remember
I know you're not to blame
I'll keep the night lightglowing so you won't fall and break your hip
Let me call you sweetheart but please honey..... Do Not Trip!
(The others groan and make catcalls, and at this he breaks into an old soft shoe)
JEANNIE - Thank you, Franklin, for another cheery tune!
FRANKLIN – And did I hear someone ask for the history of my caregiving?
(Everyone cheers for him to continue and he turns to Savannah)
FRANKLIN - My wife of 53 years…..no longer knows who I am….so….wait a minute….
(He cups a hand to an ear in a very theatrical gesture)
FRANKLIN - Did I hear a question? The inevitable question about the origin of this noble
gathering?Whatsa matter? You don't trust the brochure?
(Opens a paper, reads)
'Caregivers Anonymous began as a small group of friends who got together to compare notes about taking care of others. This grew into a collection of caregivers exchanging ideas, stories and experiences for over......well...many years.'
I just love public relations!
(The group laughs together)
The reality - the first four members used to take their assorted - and sordid - patients - to a local donut shop! And while the patients compared notes about biopsies and bunions and....... bowel movements......the caregivers would get a sugar high - fueled by super caffienated coffee to keep us going!
We decided that keeping sane was impossible, but maintaining some level of functionality was optimal, so we codified our meetings at this lovely hall......still fueled by these amazing donuts.....thank you,my friend!.....and the industrial coffee.
One of our members had been in publicity B.C. –Before Caregiving! - during the normal part of their life.....had even known some famous people!....so they designed the name, and logo - which incidentally, we tell everyone the four characters stand for the patient, caregiver, family and community - but the truth is......it was the original four of us.....of which I am the last!
And so we became .....horrible word!....legitimate.....and the one good thing we did......we decided to call ourselves anonymous, so we could all tell the truth.....the whole truth.....and nothing but the donut hole truth.........without having to pretend........
And so here we are......still guzzling the coffee......and chomping the donuts......or is it chomping the coffee and guzzling the donuts? Whatever it is.....we're still here....and we're still anonymous.....and thank God for that! We say.....together all!...God grant me the serenity to accept the diapers we cannot change......the courage to change the ones we can....and the wisdom - and the nasal clarity! -to know the difference!
(Raises a coffee cup as the others raise theirs and cheer)
(Savannah holds her sweater like a pillow, squeezes it tight)
SAVANNAH - It would be easy....so easy......I could use a pillow.....or ...(thinking) .... I could
give him......different pills for a few days.....or no pills, he'd never notice. He hates taking them anyhow. I don't think he'd mind......so it would be even....easier.
Why do I hesitate? If it was reversed, if I was the one who could never walk again....never have children again.....would he hesitate? Or would he have been gone already?
JEANNIE - Be specific! In this group….we love details! How would you do this?
SAVANNAH - Exactly how? You mean would I actually place the pillow over his sleeping
(She holds the pillow tightly then leans as if over a sleeping body)
How long would it take? Could I hold it long enough? Would he struggle? Or let it go........(sighs) maybe the pills would be the best way......
CLARK – Honey, you can do bettah than that! How many pills? Did you get an insurance
policy? Juicier! We need juicier!
(The others chime in, goading her on..’what’s your alibi’ ‘would you use an onion to cry when the police show up’)
SAVANNAH - Ok! I got it! (In pain) Maybe...maybe I really don't want to kill him! Maybe all
I want is for him to be stretched out on some rack until he admits that he was......(furious) WRONG! That he should never have gone out that night when he was already buzzed! That he shoulda let a friend take him home....or called me, for God's sakes! But he could never admit that, could he? Not for one minute! He would take a bullet for me, but to say...I'm sorry, I shoulda listened to you, babe....that, that he can't do!
(Laughs) Zero. You know when one plus one equals zero? My Daddy taught me....one drunk and one motorcycle equals ...zero......And now I am married to that zero, and that is what we have....nothin'......
(The others watch her and finally Rhonda stands comes forward with a paper tiara and offers it to Savannah)
RHONDA – You are looking for a special crown, my dear…..based on the the most beautiful
three words in the whole world, three little words that mean so much, and are so hard to get! (Slowly with great feeling) You.....are .....right!
(She suddenly puts the tiara on Savannah)
Do you feel it? Do you feel that magic sensation?
You can sense the mystical weight of that rare coronet of correctness, that tiara of power, that.......CROWN OF RIGHTNESS!
This is what you are looking for – what everyone secretly wants…I mean along with a million dollars and a visit from Brad Pitt……someone admittin that you… have been right.
So here it is……you’re not dreaming, dear, we all acknowledge that you are right!
This is a true honor, as one cannot give oneself this honor, no matter how much one knows one is right - the Crown of Rightness can only be bestowed by others........Enjoy this moment, because it will soon be a distant memory! Because…..what day is it today?
(Jeannie walks over to Savannah, takes off the tiara)
JEANNIE - You want him on a rack, tortured…..You say you maybe wanna kill him! You say
you are thinkin' about puttin' your old man outta his misery? You know what I say?
(Shouting) Bulla hunkey! You heard me baby.....you are fulla somethin and everybody here knows it.....and the big question is...do you?
I mean, you know the real truth, that when you take care of somebody, the easy way out is murder, and no caregiver evah does anythin' easy! Otherwise we wouldn't be takin care of folks!
Nah, you got a bigger problem, baby, and it has nothin' to do with killin' him....it has to do with life.....am I right? I am, I can tell.....you be honest here, baby.....we are here for you, but if you ain't honest, we can't help.....you can't help yourself.....until you tell.....the truth! Really the truth!
(Savannah cannot stand the scrutiny, and she looks around the group, then stands and goes to the wheelchair, shaking her head)
SAVANNAH -(Southern accent) Before he went overseas....to Iraq the first time, he said the
sargeant made all the men do several things. (Hard to say) The first, they had to have wills ....and insurance.......and.....letters .......to the ones they loved.......
And for those who wanted .......to have children.....they had to prepare......and we did.....he left a...deposit at the bank....the sperm bank......oh, did we laugh about it, because you nevah wanna think about it for real.......and I nevah thought........it would be necessary....because he came back ok and all.....but then, after the accident, we nevah talked about it.....
(She is in anguish)
You are right, I don't wanna kill him! Maybe a little torture….
(The group laughs with her)
SAVANNAH - Even with everythin that’s gone on, with all the bad between us, I still…..I want
him to be well.....back to what he was.....before......And I still, in spite of everything and even though I have no idea how this could possibly work! .....I still..... really…..wanna have his baby.....
But.....I also want it to be the way it was...when we first met....when we had a life that was good....
(In the dark at the back of the stage, a spotlight on a young man in uniform with flowers and she goes to him)
SAVANNAH - And we had wonderful times.....times that I will never forget....
(They dance and kiss, she pulls away)
SAVANNAH - And that's what I want!
(The spotlight dims on the young man and the others now hoot and holler)
CLARK - Oh, I know what that is- that's the perfect past!
NEECY - Where everythin’ is all rosy!
(A pink spotlight flashes onto the young man as he looks around in surprise)
RHONDA - And there are no problems....
FLORENCE - That's our favorite game here ......let's go back!
(The others take out a board from a board game and put it on the floor)
MATTIE -Let's go back to a time when .......
WANDA -Everything was perfect!
GEMMA -Let's go back.......
FRANKLIN (with a grand gesture) - To a time when there were
The whole group - NO PROBLEMS!
JEANNIE -Let's return to .......
The whole group - THE GLORIOUS PAST!
(The others laugh and JEANNIE steps up to Savannah, the others stop laughing)
JEANNIE - There's only one tiny problem, my new friend......
(The others are very quiet now)
JEANNIE - What day is it...today?
This is all you get....today. I'm not going to say you can't go back, because you know that. What I am asking, is you to realize you already made your choice - for today. You didn't hurt anyone, not him, not yourself.....but you did make one choice….
You came here……and that’s the beginning……
SAVANNAH - (Smiling) You people are all nuts!
JEANNIE - There’s no argument with that! But we have to have a place where we can all be ourselves without anyone watching.....we can laugh and cry and say horrible
things about the people we take care of..... can make fun of second childhood,
and can joke about having a puppet with more brains.......and you.....you can think
about offing the one you love..........something which everyone here can admit to
thinking about at one time or another.....
MATTIE - Not me! I never would consider that.... JEANNIE - Everyone who is HONEST can admit to thinking about this.....and no one
here judges us.......There have been a few attempts to do articles and TV shows
about our little group.....but we have wisely resisted, because we need to retain
our ability....to tell the truth... SAVANNAH - (Almost crying) The truth, I don't think I can handle that...... (The group mocks her using the movie accent) GROUP - The truth....You can’t handle THE TRUTH.... (Savannah laughs in spite of herself) JEANNIE - You look like you might be ready for a...group hug.... (The others go to hug her, she holds up her hand, they stop) SAVANNAH - Maybe not quite yet.....
JEANNIE - We understand—we will never force you to be hugged! That's a
promise....but at least answer one thing......are you safe? And is the person you take care of safe?
SAVANNAH - (Sighs heavily) I guess...yes….(laughs) …for tonight at least.....
(The others laugh with her)
JEANNIE - Good......I know we sound horrible, but whenever I hear of some abuse case, I always notice that those folks had no support system......you have to have a
CLARK- Kind of like a jockstrap for all us nuts!
JEANNIE - Think about it, honey.....we are part of THE ONLY anonymous group
where you are miserable when you join......and miserable when you leave!
SAVANNAH - (Confused) Wha......
GEMMA- Everyone wants to finish drinking.....they are happy to get out of AA....
JEANNIE - And gambling may be hard to quit, but people are happy to graduate from
Gamblers Anonymous .....
FLORENCE - And Narcotics Anonymous....
CLARK- And Sexaholics Anonymous.....well, maybe not them....
JEANNIE - But when you leave our group.....it's never for a happy reason......if your person is now in a home, it's because they are sicker.......or worse, if they pass….. well, that is possibly the most painful.......
SAVANNAH - Never thought of it like that.....
JEANNIE - Well, please do, as we are about to close up tonight's meeting - we had a
great time, didn't we folks?
(The group reacts with cheers)
JEANNIE - And honey, we will give you a list of names you can call when you get to
the end of your rope......and we will encourage you to come here every week,
because you need a moment for yourself, and after a few weeks, or months, you
will figure this out, and get a second night a week to go see a movie, or visit a
friend......and we do this because we may not be able to solve your
problems....only you can do that, but we can offer you a lifeline, we can offer you
a donut......we can offer you a laugh or two.....we can offer you a hug.....
SAVANNAH - I don’t know if I wanna be hugged by people who don’t know my
name…so….my name is Savannah…..pleased to meet y’all….. (SAVANNAH indicates a hug is ok now, and they surround her and hug.)
JEANNIE - We can offer you that most needed of all commodities....hope......
(The group freezes for a moment, then full lights come up)
JEANNIE - And because we want to help others....we are opening the conversation
right here and now......
(Members of the group start to walk into the audience)
JEANNIE - All our cast members have pamphlets with information for caregivers......if
you are here tonight, or if you know a caregiver.....please share this help with
them......and thank you for coming.......take care getting home…..and “take care!”
(As the cast finishes leaving the stage, the stage lights go dim, except for a final spot on the wheelchair, where someone has placed the box of donuts. Never the end for caregivers......God bless us all)
This page features FINALE
The photo above is Marc Biagi, performing FINALE at the UHAO
Other work by Janet S. Tiger
To purchase FINALE Running time –8-10 minutes $10.00/script Time- The past
Set – Bare stage Characters - 1 man mid 20s, strong Cockney accent
A magician gives a performance - with a surprising finale.
This one-act was published with funds from a grant provided by the Dramatists Guild Fund
First production - Swedenborg Hall, San Diego, 2008 Great piece for auditions and competitions.
For more info about THE AFFIDAVIT, including photos and production info, click here BLIND WOMAN’S BLUFF Running time – 25 minutes $8.00/script
Set – living room, semi-rundown
2 characters 1 man – early 20s
1 woman – late 60s
An old blind woman puts a classified ad in the paper and a young man answers the ad - but is he there to buy or to rip her off? Quick, funny and a good showcase piece for actors.
Winner DFAS National One-act Playwriting Contest 3rd Place
Published in PERSPECTIVES THREE
(HBJ, Canada -8th grade textbook)
Pioneer Drama Service
Since its first publication, BLIND WOMAN'S BLUFF has had numerous productions. If you would like your production included in the upcoming page 'where in the world have I seen this play?', please e-mail the details email@example.com
BLIND WOMAN'S BLUFF is available
through PIONEER DRAMA SERVICE. Please click here to purchase via their
.Click here for production info and photos.
CURSE OF THE DUCHESS(monologue) Running time – 15 minutes $8.00/script Set – minimal - chair, table, lamp Lighting and sound effects very important Character - The duchess - in her late 80s, very British
A duchess recounts how a curse changed her life. Touching- a tour de force for an older actress.
Winner - DFAS National 1-Act Playwriting Contest 2nd Place Produced - Five Flags Theatre, Dubuque, Iowa Televised - Public Access Cable Channel Iowa
– DAY OF ATONEMENT Running time – 15 minutes $10.00/script
Set – kitchen, living area middle-class New York late 1970s
2 characters 2 women, both 60s, both with Polish accent
Finalist - Fritz Blitz Contest for One-Act Plays, San Diego, CA
Produced - December 2006 San Diego, CA Swedenborg Hall
August 2006 Dubuque, Iowa Winner DFAS National One-Act Playwriting Contest
Two women, lifelong friends, face Yom Kippur (the Jewish New Year also known as the Day of Atonement) with different ideas. Great showpiece for two older actresses.
– Click here for photos and production info
DON’T YOU CRY FOR ME
Running time – 35 minutes $10.00/script Time- 1966 Late summer evening of a very hot day, almost dusk Set – Sitting room in a gracoious house in a rural Atlanta suburb Characters - 2 men, 2 women all with Southern accents The death of his father - and an unusual request in the will - leads a young man to deal with major issues in his life, and his family, in a very Southern finale. Strong language
Award -Fritz Blitz of New Plays Produced- The Seventh Annual Fritz Blitz of New Plays, San Diego, CA
This play is part of the TRANSFUSION trilogy. (The other is OH, SUSANNAH) There is a discount if all three plays in the trilogy are purchased at the same time.
FINALE Running time –8-10 minutes $10.00/script Time- The past
Set – Bare stage Characters - 1 man mid 20s, strong Cockney accent
A magician gives a performance - with a surprising finale.
This one-act was published with funds from a grant provided by the Dramatists Guild Fund
First production - Swedenborg Hall, San Diego, 2008 Great piece for auditions and competitions.
INTERVIEW - New title - HORNET'S NEST
Running time – 45 minutes $10.00/script Set – Living room as talk show set Characters - 2 men, 2 women
Finalist - 2nd Annual Robert R. Lehan Playwriting Awards, Westfield State College, Westfield, MASS
Welcome to the Hornet's Nest - a radio talk show that can be very interesting - and dangerous. When Audrey Hornet hosts a political guest that used to be an old lover, anything can happen. And it does. Riveting suspense that build to an explosive climax - keeps audiences on the edge of their seats.
Running time – 15 minutes $10.00/script Set – Midwest middle-class living room 2 characters 1 man – Russian accent, 70s 1 woman- American, 70s
This play was completed with funds from a COMBO-NEA Grant.
Produced - Vintage Theatre, San Diego, CA 1993
Susannah returns from her husband's funeral to find a suitor at her doorstep.
– This play is part of the TRANSFUSION trilogy. (The other is OH, SUSANNAH)There is a discount if all three plays in the trilogy are purchased at the same time.
SAVE A PLACE FOR ME Running time – 15 minutes $10.00/script
Set – Bus stop
Characters - 2 men, 2 women
This play was commissioned by the Aaronson Foundation.
SCRIPTEASE Running time – 45 minutes $10.00/script
Set – modern living room
Characters - 5 men –30-s-50-s
4 women – 20-40's
Lead female needs British accent
A well-known playwright is found dead at the reading of his newest play - which of his 'friends' didn't like his latest literary offering?
Mystery with a DEATHTRAP twist - fast and funny with some good chances for stylist characterizations and staging.
***Janet S. Tiger's first full production! Southwestern College Chula Vista, CA
This play was produced by Scripteasers, the well-known San Diego Writers-Actors group that has helped new playwrights for over 50 years! Janet S. Tiger had her first play read at Scripteasers in ....well, many years ago. It was very.......long. But the Scripteasers helped her improve her writing, and most of her plays had first readings at one of their meetings. SCRIPTEASE was written as a 'thank you' , and it was produced by Scripteasers in May 1981. For more information, you can visit the Scripteasers website www scripteasers . org.
Running time – 45 minutes $10.00/script
Set – semi-rundown apartment
Characters - 2 men, 50s, 60s
Winner - 1986 West Coast Ensemble Festival of One-Acts
Produced - Playbill Theatre, Los Angeles, CA 1986 (extended run)
THE WAITING ROOM (also available in full-length) Running time – 45 minutes $10.00/script
Set – living room/dining room European, circa 1938
Characters 2 men –25-50
3 women – 25-75
A Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, just before World War II, is faced with crucial decisions about taking the opportunity to leave - or staying behind with an aged and ill relative. Basic human questions about the value of life and importance of family are confronted. Poignant drama.
This play has won many awards, including the Gassner Memorial and the DFAS National Playwriting Contest.. THE WAITING ROOM has been produced numerous times, from San Diego to New York. For more details, please firstname.lastname@example.org
MONOLOGUES- For samples from the monologues, click here
Please e-mail for royalty rates – rates depend on ticket price, number of shows, theater size, etc.
All of the following are available via e-mail.
**Special offer- Buy one monologue and have it sent via e-mail only (no snail mail) and I will send you a second monologue FREE. (Save a tree, too!)
THE TOWEL LADY Running time –3 minutes $5.00/script Set – minimal, some towels, a clothesline, washbasket 1 character 1 older woman – 50s-60s
A woman hangs out her laundry while telling her unusual views on towels - and life.
This is possibly Janet S. Tiger's most produced work, having had numerous productions nationally and internationally. This is also a popular piece for drama contests and auditions.
GET A COLD Running time –8 minutes $5.00/script Set – simple, future 1 characters 1 man – older
A man from the future describes the delight he has in the simple pleasure of...getting a cold. (****This monologue was completed in August 2005 -it is part of the full-length play THE END OF DEATH, which will receive its world premiere in August 2007 at Swedenborg Hall in San Diego.)
‘BLOOD’ monologue from TRANSFUSION Running time – $4..00/script monologue - $!5.00 full-length play Set – bare stage 1 character 1 man – 40s
A moving expression of a man who is trying to deal with a transfusion from his son - a transfusion that has given him AIDS.
This monologue has been very successful in both state and national competitions. Click here to see one winner who used this monologue.
CURSE OF THE DUCHESS(monologue)
Running time – 15 minutes $8.00/script Set – minimal - chair, table, lamp Lighting and sound effects very important Character - The duchess - in her late 80s, very British
A duchess recounts how a curse changed her life. Touching- a tour de force for an older actress. Winner - DFAS National 1-Act Playwriting Contest 2nd Place Produced - Five Flags Theatre, Dubuque, Iowa Televised - Public Access Cable Channel Iowa
THE AIRPORT MONOLOGUES- (all set in an airport)
THIS FLIGHT HAS BEEN DELAYED AIRPORT DREAMS
AUDITION PIECE - THE WINNER
ALWAYS IN MY HEART
Other new monologues-
WHAT HAVE I FORGOTTEN THIS TIME?
'When I was a little girl' monologue (female 30-50)
'Tillie's' monologue (female teens-30s)
both from THE END OF DEATH
Monologue from DON'T YOU CRY FOR ME (male)
More works by Janet S. Tiger will be coming soon - she has a drawer full of over 100 monologues/plays/screenplays/books that are 10-70% completed.
PRODUCTION INFO - For more details, click on PRODUCTIONS button at the top of the page
Plays by Janet S. Tiger have been performed throughout the world including United States, Canada, England, Austria and New Zealand. If your group has performed a play by Janet S. Tiger and would like to have it listed on the PRODUCTIONS page which will include international productions, please e-mail details of the production to email@example.com.
Unusual facts about some of Janet S. Tiger's productions-
1st Reading - UGANDA at a Scripteasers meeting in....a long time ago. (See info about the one-act SCRIPTEASE.)
1st production - SCRIPTEASE (one-act) in 1981 was directed by William Virchis
Janet S. Tiger's plays have won awards five times in the DFAS National One-Act Playwriting Contest -
THE WAITING ROOM -2nd place 1982
THE AFFIDAVIT - 1st place 1983
BLIND WOMAN'S BLUFF - 3rd place 1984
SAVE A PLACE FOR ME - Honorable Mention 1989
CURSE OF THE DUCHESS- 2nd place 1990
The first three prizes were won by Janet Schechter (the 'S' in Janet S. Tiger), the others after she married Stanley Tiger. Janet traveled to Dubuque, Iowa to watch the productions in 1982, 1983 and 1984, and made many friends that she still is in touch with today. For more info on the DFAS Contest, google Dubuque Fine Arts Players One-Act Playwriting Contest
Copyright 2005 Janet S. Tiger. All rights reserved.