A performance written by the 2001 PEER HELPING CLASS
& performed at the Arena Theater, May 4, 2001 as part of Cultural Diversity Day
A basic set, divided in half by a winding, two-lane highway. Stage right is a typical country-style kitchen, decorated with obvious love and care; stage left is a neglected, bare kitchen in an urban apartment with an area of street in the front.
Lighting has three phases: 1) general house lights, 2) a set of lights aimed at each kitchen, 3) plus a spotlight that follows the narrator.
[curtain OPENS TO BLACK and LIGHTS GO UP on country home (stage right), as mom, dad, Jake, and Sarah go through the motions of a typical morning at the family breakfast table, dadís going to work, mom to do errands and work, Jake & Sarah off to school; excitement is around the class field trip the kids are taking to San Francisco]
Mom: You want eggs this morning honey?
Dad: Sounds good.
Mom: How do you want them?
Dad: Over easy.
Jake: [enters] Whatís for breakfast?
Jake: Boring. [opens the fridge, stands motionless, rummages around and doesnít find what he wants; says in a cool tone] What? Thereís no more milk?
Mom: [isnít baited by his attitude and remains light-spirited] Donít worry your highness, Iím going shopping today. When you come home tonight, there will be milk [she bows playfully].
Jake: [sighs, acts perturbed cause he thinks it is cool, but it is obvious that he really loves his goofy mom]
Mom: Sarah! Come get breakfast. If you donít hurry up, youíre going to make your brother late and youíll both miss the van for the field trip.
Sarah: [enters, sits at the table luxuriously, still putting on make up and obviously in no hurry]
Mom: [kisses her on the forehead] Good morning darling. Eggs? [serves Jake his eggs]
Sarah: Not today. Any mangos?
Mom: Too expensive right now; all we have are bananas and oranges. Iíll give you some extra money and maybe you can pick up some fresh fruit when you and Jake are in the city.
Dad: The city? Where you two going today anyway?
Jake & Sarah: [both answering with subtle excitement] San Francisco.
Jake: Our class is going to see a play; I saw clips about it on MTV.
Dad: What play?
Dad: Know what itís about?
Sarah: [still not looking up from her mirror] Yeah. It is about making rhythm out of every day objects. It was really big in New York City and has traveled all over America.
Mom: You two will have a great time.
Dad: [looks at his watch and stands up] Ready kids? If we donít get moving, weíll all be late [goes over to mom and kisses her cheek].
Mom: Have a good day honey. [goes over and hands Sarah a bag with a banana and orange in it, then palms her some extra cash] this is for a couple of mangos and some other yummy city treat for your mom [she also gives Jake some money, squeezes his hand and winks] get yourself some milk at the vending machine
Jake & Sarah: [both smile] Thanks mom [exit]
Mom: [calls out to them as they leave] Have fun and listen to your teachers... [pauses, as if trying to stop herself from saying it]...donít forget to be careful. Cities are a dangerous place!
[kitchen lights FADE TO BLACK on country kitchen, then LIGHTS BACK UP on kitchen in rundown urban apartment, outside the window (front Stage Left) four gang members are milling about, bored, troublesome, sound of a baby crying off stage]
Manuel: [enters kitchen and begins rummaging through cupboards, obviously looking for something to eat] Damn. Thereís nothiní to eat. [looks around] Nothiní. She still ainít even home yet. [opens the fridge, empty but for a half eaten plastic container of Top Ramen noodles, sits down at the table and starts to eat]
Mom: [enters, sheís a fried out prostitute-looking lady, works the streets to keep herself in drugs, obviously just came in from the night] Manuel what ya doiní just sittin there? Why arenít you gone to school yet?
Manuel: [looks at her like sheís trippiní, which she very well maybe] Like yesterday and the day before and the one before that, I ainít goiní to school...as if you give a damn...yeah, Iím gunna go out and try to make some money since you canít seem to make a liviní for us.
Mom: Iím tired of your games. You ainít done nothing around here, you ainít helped me and you ainít helped your baby sister. Youíre going to school today.
Manuel: [clicks his tongue in disgust] whatever. [walks out and joins his friends on the street.]
Mom: [hollers after him, although he is long gone] Why does it smell like smoke in here. Yyou better not be smoking. How many times have I told you what that stuff can do to you. Youíre gunna end up like your uncle. Black lungs, doctors bills you canít pay. Itíll kill you!
[LIGHTS GO BLACK on urban kitchen, then UP SLOWLY to spotlight following narrator as he/she walks to center front; narrator standing on road, in the middle as if balanced between two worlds, as the narrator begins speaking, the country students walk out on road, each taking a position to form a half circle behind the narrator; as narrator speaks, VERY DIM LIGHTS come up at stage front left, revealing a group of young gangsters talkiní smack thus foreshadowing the conflict to come]
Narrator: [confident, all knowing, omniscient voice]
Point Arena High
a school of subcultures
finds its way to the city
we all walk these walls together
trying to get along
through our vast and tiny differences
respecting when we can
each of us an island in our mind
sentenced to belong, wanting to belong
to something, to anything
even if only an invention
a name that separates you from me from them
differences that keep us apart
like skyscrapers and trees
[as narrator finishes, each subculture, one by one steps forward into the SPOTLIGHT ON CENTER and speaks about their identity, when they are finished, they step back into the shadows and their own inwardly focused attention]
Iím part of a pack
you might recognize our wranglers, hats, boots
cause we dress for pleasure and dirt
durable functionality, thatís us
with chew-stained cheeks, Copenhagen breath
you can bet some of us hunt pigs, deer, ducks
stickiní to a long-lived tradition of sport, enjoyment, food¾ beer
ignorant of the blood shed during the battle of Gettysburg
our confederate flag flies for rebelliousness
a white right to power
true to our western & southern image, we ride horses,
big truck substitutes or both
giving us unstoppable freedom to go where ever the hell we want
packin our tools everywhere
yall know, a chain saw is self-sufficiency
till one of us gets stuck in the mud
"hey man will you pull me out."
Sure Iím a preppie
conservative and smart
organized and prissy
cause like others in my tribe
I know what I want
like my parents
weíre not afraid to be rich, successful
maybe impressive to a fault
our values may not please everyone
but at least we are determined, disciplined
dedicated down to the tips of our clean nails
perfect hair, expensive clothes
so what if weíre clicky
we are definitely going somewhere great
watch and learn
"Sorry, canít come to the party, have to study."
Hey [pauses to take in the situation]
yeah, whatever man, cool
hang loose and chill
donít ya know our time
is stretched out into tight buds
no Preppie anxiety
itís all relaxed, easy art
but ya gotta be catchy to hold
our short term attention span
which can get hooked
on self exaggeration
only momentarily aware
of the selfís connection to the world
even worse, for the paranoid, for the abusers
only momentarily aware
of the unconscious fears and problems
wanting to hide
inside fat green intentions
"Wanna Bong Rip?"
some call me scared
but a few recognize
know it takes courage
to be separate, true to me
by myself, solitary
in my private world
quiet, thoughtful, creative
bored by the plotters
of social conditioning
why not make me happy and just
"Leave me alone."
Iím either wasted
or hung over
look in my mirror
and see all the disheveled faces
who look just like me
Jack Daniel faces
that donít care about appearance
about the stupid
obnoxious things we do
or anything else for that matter
whether weíre snoring or broke
alcohol is our excuse
for being real
expressing our feelings
is harder than you think
You bet, we read comics in the library
cause weíre way too quick to get caught
most think of us as a bunch of geeks
timid and shy
plugged into computers
surfing the net for computer clubs
trading magic cards for fun
but donít let our goofy highwaters
and thick glasses fool you
we are smart phreaks
smarter than you can imagine
"Hey! Yeah. Hey you with the chess set
you want to be my study buddy?"
[makes peace sign to the audience]
peace and love
joy and happiness
to the whole world my brothers and sisters
cause itís all about the environment
the earth recycling
out of linear dominance
back into the holistic paradigm
of Bob Marley
Cheech and Chong
always down for spiritual travel
for a trip
for the idealistic kind
"Make Love, Not War."
we are scary in our "unique"
some call it "weird"
open ourselves up for you
we donít care
if you think weíre strange
contemplate our funky clothes
our artistic nature
our wacked out hair
then go out and pierce yourself
wear a dog collar
"Be true to yourself fully."
Lost and Alone
No home to return to
Lost between two worlds
Put on hold
Until we get
your fire water inside us
alcoholics, stoners & losers
are all thatís left
for this young brave
I mean look at me
tell me what you see
do you see me
or the assimilations that I have been force to make
to become more like you want to see
"Mother where are we?"
loyal to our family
we move together
stick with our Latino
hermanas y hermanos
with a strong belief in the Catholic church
the tortillas and salsa of life
crowns our code
forever protective of our cultural values
who else will defend what is ours
"La Vida Loca"
When youíre watching
to the deep
you might notice
our maverick sensitivity
you can bet we donít
work only for grades
it is up to us to notice life
respect the infinite
uncharted, contemplative places
of discovery and books
where free thinkers
have plenty of room
to roam and learn
"you know what?
I donít like stereotypes."
[LIGHTS UP on entire stage, so audience sees country kids and city gang and the narrator]
Narrator: Whether we like it or not, problems are a part of life. Built in. Just like love, joy, and success. So, if you are alive everyday, truly alive, youíll have to face something hard...even if you do everything perfectly. True, some problems arenít as hard as others. But its relative. No matter how big or small, problems all feel the same to those who are experiencing them...[LIGHTS UP on country kitchen as narrator walks over to the country side and continues]...look at this life. Jake & Sarah. They wake up to a loving mother and father who are there for them, who comforts them when they feel bad about things or something doesnít work out. They wake up in the morning with shelter; they wake up warm. The first problem theyíre going to face in day is pretty minor, like whether thereís enough milk in the house for cereal. [LIGHTS DOWN on country kitchen and LIGHTS UP on city kitchen as narrator walks over the city side and continues] Look at this life. Manuel, he wakes up every morning in a cold apartment, tough, tired and scared, wondering what happened to his mom, whether sheís ever come home again or not. Besides not having any food for breakfast, heís got to worry about whether heís going to have what it takes to stay alive for the next 24 hours, how many guys heís going to have to fight, prove to that heís tough enough to hold his own, to be respected in the struggling rat race, otherwise known as the city life.
[LIGHTS DOWN on city kitchen and SPOT LIGHT UP on center highway, narrator steps off to the side, city and country kids meet on the street]
Manuel: Where are you from?
[as the line "where are you from" is uttered, HOUSE LIGHTS FLASH ON AND OFF as the gang members attack and a fight breaks out]
Ribbon Dancers: [dancers enter from opposite ends, with one dancer waving a red bandanna, the other waving a blue bandanna, and dance across the stage, spin through the middle of the fight, bringing in the energy of peace and truth, willingness not accept the violence; eventually, the dancers chase the city gang members off stage and exit]
[as dancers exit HOUSE LIGHTS STOP FLASHING and the country students freeze; SPOT ON ENTER STAGE as one by each student voices his or her reflections, others remain frozen as each student unfreezes and speaks]
Student 1: "Itís not safe anywhere, I canít even walk down the street here."
Student 2: "What the Hell just happened"
Student 3: "Who were those guys?"
Student 4: "What are they thinking about, fighting their own kind?" [said by a Mexican]
Student 5: "Thatís crazy"
Student 6: "Why is everyone standing around watchiní? We ainít no television show for their entertainment."
Student 7: "All because of a bandanna?
Student 8: "Damn, were these guys really ready to die over a stupid color, who cares if it is red or blue.
[LIGHTS UP on country kitchen as students unfreeze, walk down the road, and enter the country kitchen; as they pile in, students sit around the table, on the floor, counters, whereever they can find space; then LIGHTS DIM on country kitchen and SPOTLIGHT RETURNS to the front of Stage Center]
Narrator: [walks back to the middle front of the road]: Every experience in life has a lesson, a reason for happening. Itís not really anybodyís place to say who stands in the right or wrong. When you interact with people, the way you treat them always comes back to you: good and bad. But, even if we get treated in a bad way, every one of us gets to decide how much weíll learn from that situation. No matter what you think or where you come from, you can rise above what happened and accept it as a difficult lesson or internalize it and become a victim. But remember, as these students showed you, violence doesnít have to cause more violence. Instead, it can bring about awareness. So, when youíre feeling something, let it fill you, let your fear go and look at it, then find a positive way to express it. This is how to turn ignorance into knowledge. If we work together, we can help each other through the hard times; cause, one time or another, weíre all gonna need it.
[LIGHTS GO BLACK]
BACK to school
or go for more