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?

Mom: Eggs.

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?

Sarah: Stomp.

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 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

naturally rugged

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?"



Iím shy

an observer

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

passed out

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

"Got beer?"



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


backpack ready

always down for spiritual travel

for a trip

for the idealistic kind

"Make Love, Not War."





exotic expressionists

we are scary in our "unique"

some call it "weird"


watch us

open ourselves up for you

we donít care

if you think weíre strange

we are

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

these days

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

group minded

we move together

stick with our Latino

hermanas y hermanos

language intact

watchful conspirators

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

paying attention

to the deep

the details

you might notice

our maverick sensitivity

you can bet we donít


work only for grades

or money

it is up to us to notice life

respect the infinite

sometimes lonely

genius places

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.





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