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Something Less Depressing –– A 10-Minute Play

By Cooper Sarafin, VI Form

Something Less Depressing –– A 10-Minute Play

Editor’s Note: In the VI Form elective “Writing for Actors,” the assignment called for students to write a stageable one act play, beginning with a dramatic problem. Cooper workshopped his play several times in class, culminating in a staged reading at the end of the third window. He then took it upon himself to revise it once more before sending it out to a national forum, “Trade a Play Tuesday” , where another writer read his play and provided feedback.

SOMETHING LESS DEPRESSING

By Cooper Sarafin

Cast of Characters

James: Individual who prefers the company of himself as opposed to that of others. Doesn’t care what others think of him.

Lily: A friendly girl who likes to get to know many people.

Amy: Stereotypical popular student, superficial and self-obsessed.

Opens with a Lone Figure sitting at a lunch table in thought. In the corner is a vending machine. 

Scene 1 

James begins talking into a tape recorder

James:

Such a stigma around this, sitting alone. Why must it be regarded as entirely wrong? As something to be undesired? I see them all sitting together, absorbed in mindless conversation, unstimulating, quite boring in fact. Not to say I haven’t been counted part of them, for that’d be inaccurate. Such times as I have attempted to interact with them I joined only to have been left feeling more alone than I do now. It’s my opinion that sitting here alone, my mind to roam free, is much less lonely than to be trapped in your own head with nothing to say. Isn’t it rather lonely to be the only person who doesn’t seem to care? To be an irrelevant bystander, in close proximity, yet so far removed. For me, to exculpate myself is not a decision, but the only reasonable course of action. For alone by choice is far better than alone by force.

Amy and Lily enter

Lily:

Hey James! Can we join you?

James:

Sure.

Amy:

(Speaking to Lily) So I was talking to Brad and I think he’s totally into me.

Lily:

That’s lovely Amy.

Amy:

(To James) Are you recording some sort of interview? I just love being interviewed. I’d let you interview me.

James:

No, I am uh… just keeping track of my thoughts.

Amy:

Mhm. Too bad.

 Lily:

What are you thinking about now?

James:

About what a strange thing it is to not know why you get out of the bed in the morning.

Amy:

Excuse me? I don’t really understand.

James:

Do you know why you get out of bed in the morning?

Amy:

I get out of bed because I have to. I need to go to class.

 Lily:

Same!

James:

But you don’t have to. Don’t you see? You don’t need to go to class. It’s not comparable to your basic needs; to eat, to drink, or to breathe. What if school is something you dread rather than enjoy? Would you still get out of bed?

Amy:

I would.

Lily:

Maybe not.

Amy:

Even if you didn’t have class you’d still get out of bed.

James:

Then you must have other reasons. Humour me… what if you were to have none?

Amy:

But I always will.

James:

So you say, but that’s not to say that won’t change. I suppose you are thinking of your friends, your family, your passions, and anything else you consider worthy of getting out of bed for. But imagine being alone, isolated, estranged. To have your life stripped down and yourself brought into a depression. Then would you still have a reason to get out of bed?

Lily:

But that seems so extreme. Why would you stay in bed?

James:

I can. For someone to get out of bed, you need a reason that justifies the means. So rather than generating a reason for being in bed, it’s an absence of reason not to be there.

Amy:

You may be onto something there. But wouldn’t you rather talk about something else? Something less depressing.

James:

What would you prefer?

Lily gets up and starts walking away

Amy:

The dance this friday, I’m so stressed out trying to find a date. Where you going Lily?

Lily:

Getting a drink, don’t mind me.

James:

What about Brad?

Amy:

I want him to ask me but it’s not that simple, I have to get him to think that he is asking me.

James:

Sounds difficult.

Amy:

It is! Guess you aren’t as strange as everyone thinks you are.

James:

So that’s what you consider normal? Why is deep conversation so illicit that it’s considered strange? Is it so far out of the question? Perhaps not in theory, but in practice it’s entirely different. People don’t seem to be open to a give and take, or even to take the conversation past pleasantries and small talk, even being scared to try. All they want is to talk about themselves, they don’t care about anyone else’s opinions or thoughts regarding anything but themselves. Wouldn’t it be nice once in awhile to have banter, some back and forth rather than a one sided discussion full of derisive demeanor and self absorbed thought? That’ll be the day.

Amy becomes noticeably irritated with James

Amy:

I’ll have you know I have many deep conversations.

James:

Do elaborate. I’m intrigued.

Lily returns to the table

Lily:

What’d I miss?

Amy:

Nothing much. Did I tell you my dress arrived! You should see it! It’s absolutely stunning, I’m going to look so amazing. I just can’t wait!

Lily:

That’s amazing Amy. Oh, James I was meaning to ask you, what you thought of class today? I thought it was so interesting. Didn’t even cross my mind the way the book connects to that. How’d you think of it?

Amy:

How come you aren’t asking me about class?

 Lily:

You didn’t say anything in class Amy, you just sit there making jokes.

Amy:

Don’t you think they’re funny?

Lily:

They’re just distractions, I’m here to learn, not goof off.

Amy:

They’re meant to be distracting.

James:

It’s just one of the things I think about often, so to me it was as clear as day. We have a way of seeing what we want to see in everything. It’s all hermeneutics, perspective, no one person ever has the same view, it’s all individual.

Amy:

I was thinking that as well, just didn’t get a chance to say it.

Lily:

I suppose you’re right James. But there must be some universal truth. Everything can’t be seen differently.

James:

Then you must have an idea of what it is.

Lily:

Well, you can look at it in terms of life and why we are all here. We must all be here for the same thing. To be happy.

Amy:

I second that!

James:

If we are here to be happy, why do we tolerate so much we don’t enjoy? And what’s to say what defines happy? For some, learning and the pursuit of knowledge brings happiness and that’s a harmless passion. But imagine someone like a serial killer. For them, happy is the act of killing someone else. And by the logic of we are here to be happy, they are justified in committing those acts. But society has these “morals”, these natural laws supposedly bestowed upon us all. They tell us such action is wrong, just as our laws do. But if our end goal is to be happy, then why do we have such oppressive systems?

Amy:

(Almost pleading) Didn’t I say we should talk about something less depressing? Lily, can we change the subject?

Lily:

I think it’s interesting, what if instead of happiness, morals were the ultimate truth?

James:

Ever notice how morals have changed over periods in our history? In biblical times, slaves were part of the culture but we see now such things are wrong. In ancient Greece it was common for young boys to explore their sexuality with older men before they were married, yet now a days such acts are deemed indecent and the older men labeled as pedophiles. It was common practice to execute people throughout the middle ages, for acts today that wouldn’t even reach the magnitude necessary to be considered for a death penalty here. So you tell me, are morals our truth?

Amy:

That’s so wrong! Not to mention gross. Can’t we have a normal conversation?

Lily:

I really don’t mind it, I find…

Amy:

You don’t need to humour him. Can we talk for a second?

Amy pulls Lily away from the table 

Amy:

Why are you talking to that weirdo? We shouldn’t have sat there.

Lily:

It’s interesting, kind of refreshing in a way.

Amy:

He’s weird. He wants to talk about all this stuff that doesn’t matter. Come on let’s go while he isn’t here.

Lily:

Different doesn’t make him weird. I’m enjoying this.

Amy:

Why are you defending him? Do you like him or something?(In a mocking tone) Maybe you should invite him to the dance this Friday.

Lily starts walking back to the table. Amy is visibly distressed.

Lily:

It’s not like that.

James:

What’s not like that?

Lily:

The dance. Amy has some romantic ballroom fantasy of what it will be like. You planning on going?

Amy:

Doubt it.

Lily:

Maybe he is, are you, James?

James:

No, she’s right.

Lily:

How come?

James:

Those types of gatherings make me uncomfortable.

Lily:

Have you ever tried?

James:

I’ve gone a few times, never stayed longer than fifteen minutes.

Lily:

Nothing ever happens in the first fifteen minutes! You need to stay longer to get to the good parts! Like dancing, food, music, conversation. Lots of things to do!

James:

Well, fifteen minutes is a long time to be bored.

Amy:

How is that long? It’s only fifteen minutes.

James:

Einstein said time is relative. Time appears to be stretched when you are bored, turning 15 minutes into an hour, and time is shrunken when you are enraptured in something making fifteen minutes pass unnoticed.

Amy:

But that doesn’t make time any longer. It’s still just fifteen minutes.

Lily:

He didn’t say it was longer, just that it appears to be longer.

Amy:

Can’t you take my side?

Lily:

I’m not on anyone’s side. Why are you so bored in just 15 minutes?

James:

I feel more alone at them than I do anywhere else.

Amy:

I imagine you’d feel alone all the time.

Lily:

Why do you keep doing that Amy?

Amy:

Because you’re my friend you should be on my side. Why don’t you like me? Why don’t people like me? I try so hard all the time ok? You don’t know how hard it is to be me. Having to act confident and cool all the time. It’s exhausting. And instead of talking to me, you’re wasting your time with this loser.

Lily:

Amy, you’re my friend. But don’t you think I should be able to talk to someone else as well? He isn’t a waste of time loser either, he has valued Amy.

James:

Should I go?

Amy:

No, I will. I know when I’m not wanted.

Amy Exits

 James:

Shouldn’t you go after her?

Lily:

No, when she gets like this the best thing to do is give her some space to let it all out. And I’m sorry about how she was treating you.

James:

No need, she just said the same thing everyone else does.

Lily:

Well, I think they are wrong. Where were we? Oh yes, why do you feel more alone at them?

 James:

Being alone by choice is much better than alone by force.Normally, I can ignore the fact that no one cares, it isn’t staring me in the face.

Lily:

But being put in that type of social situation makes you confront the superficiality of your relationships. You can’t ignore the fact that they don’t know you. That they don’t want to know you. It’s a much less personal aloneness.

James:

Guess you read my mind.

Lily:

What if there was one who cared?

 James:

I suppose that it could possibly be better. But I couldn’t be certain.

Lily:

Well, I hope you know you’re always welcome to talk with me.

 

 

 

 


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