Full-Length Play

Rage, Children! Rage!

A Play by William Ivor Fowkes

Sometimes recovering from parental betrayals is a full-time job.

 

LENGTH: 2 hours

CAST: 3M, 2F 

 

SYNOPSIS: A desperate journalist teams up with a resourceful black homeless woman who claims to be the estranged daughter of a famous white actress in an attempt to get both of their lives back on track after suffering the lingering effects of child abuse and parental betrayals. 

 

SETTING: New York City

TIME: 2016.

 


HONOR

 

2020: FINALIST, Lance Hewitt Reading Series, Isle of Shoals, New York City.


AN EXCERPT

ACT ONE

 

Scene 1:  

 

VOICEOVER

Our next Story Slam presenter was born and raised in New York City and currently resides in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s give it up for Jeremy Fletcher!

 

Spotlight up on JEREMY’s microphone. There will be five spotlights in this play, one for each actor. The spotlights are used only when indicated. JEREMY’s spotlight is at center stage. JEREMY enters. Approaches his mic. Takes a deep breath. Finally—

 

JEREMY

My father died. 

                                                (taking in the audience’s reaction)

No, wait—I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me. You just need to know, because none of this would have happened if he hadn’t died. Well, that’s not exactly right. I mean it would have happened differently. Or it would have had a different meaning—yeah, that’s it. You see, my father— he— God! Do you have a hard time talking about your father, too? All right, forget all that. The point is: I may have done some bad things, but I want you to realize I’m basically a good person. The problem is—or maybe it’s not a problem—I’ve always been driven to accomplish great things. To matter. And I got that drive from my father. I guess it became a problem when it blinded me to the needs of other people. But can we change who we are? I mean really? God, this is sounding so defensive! Let me just dive right into my story. It’s an April evening around 7:40PM. I’m rushing to the theater—the Atlantic Theater Company on West 20th Street. Maybe you know it. I live just two blocks away. Someone really special’s starring in a play there—and someone else really special is going to see it with me. And then this happens.

 

Spotlight off. JEREMY moves downstage. His phone rings. He accepts the call.

 

JEREMY (CONT’D)

(into his phone—brightly)

Hey, Stud! Don’t worry—I’m not late. I’ll be there in three— 

(checking his phone)

No, make that two minutes. 

 

Lights up on SHANE.  

 

SHANE

                                                (into his phone)

Uh, Jeremy, I know this is very last minute, but I can’t go to the theater with you tonight. Something’s come up.

 

JEREMY

What? What’s come up?

                                                (to the audience)

Don’t ever do that! If they want to tell you, they’ll tell you. This just makes them lie.

 

SHANE

This thing—I can’t get out of it.

 

JEREMY

No, really? Are you sure?

 (to the audience)

Can you believe that? He didn’t even try to lie!

 

SHANE`

I would if I could, but I can’t, so— 

 

JEREMY

                                                (into the phone)

No, no, that’s all right. I understand. It’s just so close to curtain time!

 

SHANE

This sucks. I’m so sorry. I’ll pay you for my ticket.

 

JEREMY

No, no, I’ll try to sell it at the theater. Don’t worry about it. Uh . . . is something the matter?

 

SHANE

Well, okay, since you asked— 

(suddenly colder)

I keep thinking about what you did, and I just can’t forgive you. 

 

JEREMY

You mean that article?

 

SHANE

Of course I mean that article! You took advantage of me! 

 

JEREMY

I didn’t mean to do that. I was just trying to write the best article I could. My father taught me to write things that will help people. 

 

SHANE

How does betraying the trust of your boyfriend help people? 

 

JEREMY

I didn’t think I was betraying you.

 

SHANE

How could you possibly think that?

 

JEREMY

Because I thought I was serving a good cause. I have a responsibility as a journalist to report on what I see—and that’s what I did. 

 

SHANE

Someone told my boss I was dating you, and I had to lie and say I didn’t even know you. If they ever discovered I was your source, I could lose my job!

 

JEREMY

They’re the ones guilty of wrongdoing—they shouldn’t take it out on you.

 

SHANE

I’m just lucky they haven’t found out.

 

JEREMY

Let’s hope they never do. But you know what—even if they ever did, you’re very good at your job. You’d find another one. 

 

SHANE

That’s not for you to decide, asshole!

 

JEREMY

You’re right! Of course you’re right, and I’m sorry—but look at the big picture! You and all the other researchers at that law firm were being exploited. It was time someone blew the whistle on that.

 

SHANE

So, what’d you get for your effort? Where’s your Pulitzer Prize, Mr. Big Time Journalist? All I see is a damaged relationship. And didn’t your magazine get sued?

 

JEREMY

They started paying you overtime, didn’t they?

 

SHANE

Okay, yes. Your article did some good.

 

JEREMY

That’s all that matters.

 

SHANE

To you maybe.

                                                (almost to himself)

I can’t believe I fell in love with you.

 

Lights down on SHANE. 

 

JEREMY (CONT’D)

Hello? . . . Hello? 

                                                (looking at the phone)

Shit!

                                                (to the audience)

I don’t understand. Is he in love with me? Or is he dumping me? No, no, you don’t want to dump me, Shane! What we’ve got going is too good!

                                                (looking at his watch)

Shit—I don’t have time to think about this. I’ve gotta go sell his ticket.

 

JEREMY crosses the stage. GARRETT and CELIA enter from the opposite direction. GARRETT carries a plastic grocery bag. When they reach JEREMY, they separate and walk on either side of him. GARRETT bumps into JEREMY. A second later the bag drops and smashes on the ground. Red liquid oozes from the bag.

 

GARRETT

Man, look what you did!

 

JEREMY

Oh, hey, I’m sorry. Ooh, that’s too bad.

 

GARRETT

(angry)

You did that! You gotta pay me, man! 

                                                (indicating CELIA)

That was a special bottle of wine for my wife! 

 

JEREMY

I’m sorry, but it was just an accident.

 

                                                            JEREMY turns. Resumes walking.

 

GARRETT

Ya can’t walk away like that! What’s the matter wit you?

 

CELIA

(imploring—in a street dialect)

Hey, that was for our anniversary, man! 

 

                                                            JEREMY pauses. Turns toward them.

 

JEREMY

I’m sorry—I know that sucks, but it was just an accident. 

 

                                                            JEREMY resumes walking away.

 

GARRETT

You gotta make this right! Shit, man, don’t just walk away!

 

CELIA

Back off, Garrett. I’ll handle this.

 

CELIA runs after JEREMY. 

 

CELIA (CONT’D)

                                                (sweetly and sincerely)

You gotta make this right, mister. It’s a big night for us. He gonna be so bummed out. How ’bout we split it fifty-fifty?

 

JEREMY

I’m very sorry. I hope you have a very happy anniversary.

 

JEREMY turns and walks away decisively. 

 

CELIA

(crying out)

Don’t you have a heart?

 

JEREMY stops. A new attitude.

 

JEREMY

Wait a second. I just realized what’s going on here. He bumped into me, not the other way around. But then you made me question it, and I wasn’t sure anymore.

 

 

CELIA

So let’s just split it fifty-fifty.

 

JEREMY

You know, I was just in Paris and the guidebooks warned me about con artists like you, so when someone tried to pull the gold ring scam on me, I was ready for them. But here? Right in my own neighborhood? I can’t believe I almost fell for it! 

 

CELIA

What you talkin’ ’bout? I never been to Paris. I never been outta this city.

 

JEREMY

You’re lucky I don’t call the cops.

 

GARRETT approaches.

 

GARRETT

What’s goin’ on? He pay or not? 

 

CELIA

Get outta here! Quick! He’s callin’ the pigs. I’ll meet you at Sal’s.

 

GARRETT

I ain’t leaving without you.

 

CELIA

Quick, baby! I’ll be all right. Just go! You can’t get caught again!

 

GARRETT

All right. See you at Sal’s. Love ya, baby.

 

GARRETT kisses CELIA.

 

JEREMY

(sarcastically)

Don’t you mean, “Happy anniversary, baby”?

 

GARRETT

You messin with me?

 

CELIA

Just go, Garrett!

 

[END OF EXCERPT]