The play "The Song" was performed six times in 2014 on Waiheke Island in New Zealand. It is being performed again in Sept. of 2015 in Manila, Philippines, as part of the Manila Short and Sweet Festival.
RON and JANET are standing in the front room arguing. There is a couch, chair, coffee table and piano (can be an electric piano if a real piano is not available) in the room. They are in their mid-thirties, or thereabouts, and as well as being intimates they are professional songwriters, who have written many songs together over the years.
RON: (Agitated) Do you expect that from me?
JANET: Well I’m hoping.
RON: But do you really expect it?
JANET: I don’t know—but that’s what I need.
RON: It’s an unreasonable expectation. No man can give that.
JANET: I don’t believe that.
RON: Well I sure can’t give you that!
JANET: Why not?
RON: I don’t know. I just know I can’t.
JANET: Well I don’t know if I can stay in this relationship if you can’t give me that.
RON: (Incredulously) So what are you saying? That’s it?
JANET: Yes… I guess that’s what I’m saying. I can’t go on with it, feeling constantly
frustrated…feeling like it’s not going to change.
RON: Wow! That really sucks. I can’t believe you would end it just like that.
JANET: It’s not like it’s a sudden thing. It’s been building up for a long time.RON: Uh huh. Well maybe you should have said something a little sooner…at least given me some warning.
JANET: (Her voice rising) Maybe you should have been a little more aware of what was going on with me…a little more sensitive.
RON: (His voice quieting) I’m sorry. I didn’t realize things were that bad.
JANET: They are.
RON: (Spoken sadly) Well . . . if this is really it . . . maybe we could at least write a last song together? . . . about our breakup.
JANET: (Quietly) Maybe we should.
RON: Ok. I’ll give you the melody if you give me some words. I’ll try to help with the words too.
JANET: That’s how we’ve always worked. I do the words—you do the music.
RON: Do you have an opening line?
JANET: How about: “You couldn’t give me what I needed and that was the end of us”.
RON: (He winces) Not bad. (Tinkles away at the piano, working up a melody.)
JANET: Let me see: “You couldn’t give me what I needed and that was the end of us. That evening as I packed my bags you came to my room to talk”.
RON: That’s good. How about, after that: “You choked on your words as you asked me to stay”.
JANET: I like that—even if it isn’t true. And the next line could be: “And my heart began to unlock”.
(Ron continues to tinkle on the piano coming up with a melody)
RON: Not bad. I think maybe there’s a better line there but we’ll go with that for now. At least the guy has her attention and she’s stopped packing for the moment.
JANET: Right. Next line could be: “Do we really want to do this, after all that we’ve been through?”
RON: It’s a little clichéd but true enough—let’s go with it.
JANET: So now we’ve got:
“You couldn’t give me what I needed and that was the end of us.
That evening as I packed my bags you came to my room to talk.
You choked on your words as you asked me to stay
And my heart began to unlock.
You said do we really want to do this, after all that we’ve been through?”
RON: (Tinkles on piano) I think we’re onto something.
JANET: “I said, I don’t know the answer, I’ve never stopped loving you.”
(His tinkling is getting slower as his face softens and his eyes get misty)
RON: (His voice softening) Damn, this isn’t easy. I can’t believe this song is about us. We’ve always written these kinds of songs about somebody else…not us.
JANET: Well you shouldn’t have let it get to this.
RON: (More energetically)You can’t just lay it on me. There are two of us here and you’re not perfect.
JANET: (Defensive and agitated) I didn’t say I was.
RON: Well you’re suggesting that this break-up is all my fault.
JANET: It IS your fault.
RON: I don’t believe that.
JANET: Oh forget it.
RON: (Exasperated) Jeesus!—can’t we even finish the damn song?
JANET: Yes, we can.
RON: OK. Where were we?
JANET: We were at the point where the girl tells the guy she still loves him.
RON: Right. OK, so you gave me: “I said I don’t know the answer—I’ve never stopped loving you.” Where does it go from there?
JANET: How about: “She went back to her packing, and he went back to his shell.”
RON: (Mutters under his voice) Great—right back on me.
RON: Nothing. Keep going, you’re on a roll.
JANET: “She closed her bag and pressed the lock, then started for the door.”
RON: OK. Slow down a bit—you’re getting way ahead of me. (He tinkles away, trying to find a melody for the words)
JANET: Maybe we’re moving too fast. Maybe she lingers for a while before picking up her bag, hoping the guy will do something to make her change her mind.
RON: Yes, that can be the bridge. The lady hasn’t really decided she wants to leave…she’s just trying to get the guy to acquiesce to her demand that he give her what she wants.
JANET: (Angrily) It’s not what she wants—it’s what she NEEDS. There’s a difference.
RON: Ok, ok. What she needs. But her need is also her want. I mean, she’s gotten by all these years in their relationship without that particular need; now all of a sudden she can’t go on without it.
JANET: Peoples’ needs change over time.
RON: Some people.
JANET: Most people.
RON: I’m not sure about that.
JANET: Just because yours don’t… I bet if you took a poll you would find that most peoples’ needs change over time—either in the context of a relationship or in life in general.
RON: (Exasperated) Alright—can we stay with the song?
JANET: I’m trying to. But you keep adding your opinions to my words.
RON: I’m just trying to keep it real.
JANET: It IS real. Now let’s keep going; back to the bridge. How about: “She finished packing, but didn’t close the bag, brushing her hair aside.”
RON: That’s good—really good. The listeners are going to be wondering what’s going to happen.
RON: Maybe something about seeing her brush her hair aside sends him back to the first time he saw her when she made that same gesture.
JANET: Yes, there has to be something to give him pause, to bring him back out of his shell.
RON: Yeah, so that gesture of her brushing her hair aside kind of stops him in his tracks. But he isn’t quite able to feel it fully or say anything about it…it just gives him pause.
JANET: But it also makes him uncomfortable.
RON: So maybe he makes up some kind of excuse to leave the room for a minute while he collects himself.
JANET: Alright, I think I can work with that. So we have: “She finished packing but didn’t close the bag, brushing her hair aside.” The next line could be: “He felt a stirring in his chest and tears came to his eyes.”
RON: Cool. We need two more lines to complete the bridge.
JANET: Ok. (She is walking around the room concentrating heavily): “He said, I think I left something on the stove, and quickly left the room.”
RON: Great. (Playing with more energy as the song takes shape) One more line and we’ve got the bridge.
JANET: Let’s see:
“She finished packing but didn’t close the bag, brushing her hair aside.
He felt a stirring in his chest and tears came to his eyes.
He said, I think I left something on the stove, and quickly left the room.
As he walked along the hall he felt the heart-pain growing.”
RON: I think you’ve captured it pretty well. (His eyes water up)
(Spoken softly) So now we just need a final verse. What happens?
JANET: I guess it could go in several different directions. She could close her bag and head for the door and he’s left in mild shock. Or, he could rush back into the room, telling her he loves her and begs her not to leave.
RON: (With humour) Or, he could give her a good smack, ala Moonstruck, and yell at her to snap out of it. (Tries to fake a chuckle—she offers an insincere, half smile)
JANET: Yeah, I’m sure that’s the way you’d like for it to end.
RON: Sorry, just trying to make a little joke.
JANET: Well I don’t think we need a Hollywood ending here. You want to keep it real so let’s keep it real. I think we should have her closing her bag and heading for the door. So how about:
“She closed the bag and grabbed her purse, and headed for the door.
Her heart was breaking and the tears came fast, as she walked along the hall.”
RON: This is a killer. (He has stopped tinkling the piano and is sitting quietly, staring straight ahead with tears in his eyes)
JANET: We’re almost done. Two more lines. We just need to decide if the guy sees her again as he comes back from the kitchen, or does he just hear the door shut as she leaves?
RON: Right. (He chokes the word under his breath)
JANET: I’m thinking it might be more effective if he just hears the door shut. What do you think?
RON: (Tears are rolling down his face) Can we not finish this right now?
JANET: (She stares at him, then slowly walks over to him, gently embracing him and says, very slowly, with great feeling) That’s all I needed.
in god we trust
Characters: Steve—a private in the army
Carol--- his fiancé
Steve and Carol are standing in Carol’s front room. There is a couch, two chairs and a coffee table. Steve is dressed in his military uniform. He has just come over to Carol’s flat to talk with her.
Steve: Sorry for coming over so late baby, but I needed to talk to you.
Carol: That’s fine my darling. What’s up?
Steve: (Clearly on edge) I’ve been called.
Steve: I got the call. Afghanistan…next month.
Carol: Oh my God! Are you serious?
Steve: Yes…’fraid so.
Carol: (Turns slightly pale) Oh my God.
Steve: I know…I’m kinda’ in a state of shock myself.
Carol: When did you hear?
Carol: And you leave next month?
Steve: Yes…in four weeks.
Carol: (Concerned) How do you feel about it?
Steve: Well, that’s why I needed to talk to you. I don’t feel good about it. I’m
Carol: Oh sweetheart, it will be alright.
Steve: I don’t know. I didn’t think I would feel this way when the call came. But I
don’t want to go. I’m afraid I won’t make it back.
Carol: (Walks to him and puts her arms around him) Darling, you’ll make it back.
Nothing is going to happen to you.
Steve: (Gently pushes her away) How do you know that? A lot have died over there,
or been seriously wounded. I could easily be one of them. And for what?! (He is
getting angry) I’m not even sure I believe in this damn war. What the hell are we
Carol: You’re protecting your country sweetheart. It’s a courageous and noble thing
you’re doing. You chose it because of who you are—a strong and brave man…the
thing that attracted me to you in the first place.
Steve: Well I’m not feeling so damn strong and brave right now. I’m feeling fuckin’
scared. I don’t want to go. I want to be here with you…to marry you and start our
Carol: But you’ll be back my darling. And we’ll be married as soon as you get home
and we’ll start our family then.
Steve: (Yelling) What if I don’t make it home? You won’t have a husband OR a
Carol: You can’t talk like that! Have faith sweetheart. God protects those who are
good…and you are good. You’re a good man, Steve. No harm will come to you.
Don’t think like that.
Steve: (Calming a little) It’s more than that. I mean it’s more than maybe me being
killed or wounded.
Carol: What do you mean?
Steve: Well even if no harm comes to me, what if I have to do harm to somebody
else? What if I have to kill a man I don’t even know? How can I look a total stranger
in the eyes and kill him, just because he doesn’t live in the same country as me? It’s
crazy! I don’t know how I can do that.
Carol: Sweetie, you are doing it for your country---for the millions of people living
here in freedom. It is a sacrifice and it is a noble thing you are doing. I know you
don’t want to kill a stranger. You are too good a man for that; but they are our
enemies and if we don’t kill them they will kill us. God works in strange ways---some
are meant to live and some are meant to die and they are meant to die. It’s out of your
control Steve. It’s in His hands.
Steve: (Getting angry again) How can killing a man who has done nothing to me be a
noble thing? He could be a man just like me, waiting to get married and start a family.
Or maybe he already has a family, with three little kids at home and a wife he
loves…the same way I love you. (Yelling again) And I’m going to kill him, just like
that?! How can I do that?! (He’s almost wailing)
Carol: (Walks to Steve and takes his hands in hers, trying to calm him) My darling,
don’t work yourself up like this. This war is bigger than any one man. This is in
God’s hands and He rewards those who do good work for the benefit of all. You
know that. He will protect you and take care of you and bring you home….I promise.
Steve: (Takes his hands out of hers) Is it not a sin to kill another?
Carol: Not if it’s in self-defence.
Steve: But they haven’t done anything to us. They are only fighting us because we
attacked them. They are the ones fighting in self-defence.
Carol: But they are bringing harm to their own people, and potentially to us as well…
Not everybody, I’m not saying that, but sometimes some have to die for the sake of
everybody else. If they are evil God will punish them. You are only a servant to Him,
my love..you are doing His Work.
Steve: (Getting loud again) What if I’m maimed and lose my legs or arms...paralyzed
for life? Will you still love me then? Will you take care of me then?
Carol: Of course my darling. I am going to be your wife, in sickness and in health—
remember? But anyway, nothing is going to happen to you. You are going to be fine.
God will protect you and bring you home to me.
Steve: (Yelling) What fuckin’ God?! I don’t believe in such a God.
Carol: (With great urgency) Don’t talk like that sweetheart. You know there is a God.
And He is good. And He protects those who are good. Be strong my darling. Ask for
God’s help and He will give it to you. Pray for his Help.
Steve (Weeping) I’m trying, but I’m afraid. Maybe I should fake an illness or hurt
myself. Then I won’t have to go.
Carol: Baby, that would not be the right thing to do. You would disgrace yourself and
you would not be able to live with yourself. You know that. You chose this life and
you have to honour it. What you are doing is a good thing, a brave thing. God will
reward you for your bravery sweetheart….I have no doubt of that. He will bring you
home to me and we will be married and we will have a family. Everything will be ok.
Steve: (Loudly) How can you be so damn sure? You haven’t been over there. You’re
not the one going. It’s too easy for you to say that. You don’t know what it’s like.
Carol: I know I don’t. But I trust in God’s Will and I know He will take care of you.
You have to use His strength and ask for His Help. (Pleading) Please,
sweetheart…just pray for God’s Help and Guidance. He will hear your prayers.
(She wraps her arms around him and kisses his face)
Steve: (Calming down) I guess I don’t have any choice. You’re right… I wouldn’t be
able to live with myself if I deserted. I can’t do that. I have to go. I have to do it for
Carol: And I’ll be here waiting for you. And I’ll write to you every day.
Steve: Will you send me pictures of yourself?
Carol: Of course darling. I’ll even send some of me in those outfits you especially
like. And I’ll buy some new ones. Don’t worry, I won’t let you forget me.
Steve: You still have that gift certificate from Victoria’s Secret that I gave you for
Carol: Yes, I do. I’ll surprise you with some new outfits.
Steve: And I’ll send you pictures of Afghanistan, although I don’t think there’s much
to see, from what I hear; a lot of brown hills and desert.
Carol: I don’t care sweetheart…I just want to see you. I’m so proud of what you’re
doing and who you are. I’m a lucky girl to have a man like you. And you’ll make the
most wonderful father… I know that.
Steve: Well if our kids get your looks and your brains they’ll be pretty lucky.
Carol: And your strength and courage.
Steve: And we won’t argue about how many kids we’re going to have until I get home.
Carol: Agreed. As long as it’s at least three.
Steve: Now hold on…I said until I get home.
Carol: (Smiling) Ok my love.
Steve: How come you’re so wise?
Carol: The only wise thing about me is choosing you to be my husband and the father
of my children.
Steve: (goes to her and puts his arms around her and kisses her) I guess I better get
going. I promised the boys I’d meet them at the club.
Carol: Can’t you stay the night?
Steve: No, I promised them I’d come. They need a fourth guy for the pool game. And
I missed the last two get-togethers so I better go. Besides, I want to tell them the
Carol: OK. I understand. But you’ll call me first thing in the morning?
Steve: Yes. I’ll come by and get you tomorrow and take you out for a brunch.
Carol: Great. I love you Steve.
Steve: And I love you.
3 months later.
(Carol is pacing anxiously around the kitchen)
Carol: (Looking concerned) Hmm…that’s weird…Where are you darling? I haven’t
heard from you in four days. I guess you’re on a mission somewhere.
(Two officers are seen approaching her front door. They knock. Carol goes to the door and opens it.)