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Student Writings for Theatre by the Numbers: A Sampling

Student submissions from Nancy Hoffman’s Advanced Theatre Arts Class, highlighted in the related story: The Play’s the Thing; So’s the Writing

“Side Effects” by Heaven Rademaker

Hello, over-the-counter medication.

Hi, it’s me again. I know I keep calling with complaints but poison control stopped answering to me because all I do — is complain. On the back of the bottle it has your number so I’m calling with a … complaint. (shoulder shrug) The side effects include: itching, bloating, dizziness, trouble sleeping, stomach pain, blurry vision, red skin, nausea, diarrhea… (confused) Constipation? Sneezing, coughing, sore throat, dry mouth, blood clots, headaches, and rash.

Yeah… so… those are the side effects, but I don’t think the drugstore told my mom that. Which is fine, but I’m just a little scared because my brother is at his Dad’s house and my mom has been asleep for a long time. Longer than usual. (Get anxious & start talking faster) And the stove is on and it’s smoky but I don’t want to leave her here. I’m not strong enough to carry her and I’m too small to reach the knobs on the stove. And it smells burnt in here. And I’m scared. Which is fine (defeated) but could you please add a few side effects?

Really? Okay great! (sound excited) Please include: May fall down, may forget, may turn into a bad parent, may cause you to lose your job, have no money, but two kids. May cause your children to become the parents. May cause your life to substantially and literally fall apart before your eyes (factually). May be the reason your family stops calling. May cause your ex to pretend you don’t have a problem. And may cause your 12 year old daughter to act 17 JUST IN CASE you “fall asleep again.”

(Ends rant)

Thank you, that would be really helpful… (voice trails off)

“Death should be my girlfriend” by Avery Harriger

Jasper stands over a body, a bloody cloth in his hands. He wipes his brow, and flicks his fingers impatiently. Suddenly a girl dressed in black robes appears, walking up crossing something off a list, she looks up and locks eyes with him. She’s annoyed and upset.

Diana: “Jasper? What are you doing here? Again.”

Jasper: “Di, hey! I wanted to see you, I mean it’s been awhile right?”

Diana: “I don’t know that I’d call 2 weeks awhile but –”

Jasper: “I just mean, like, I need to talk to you about something.”

Diana: “Yeah ok, make it quick, I’ve got an 80 year old across town in 15.”

Jasper: “I have sort of an issue.”

Diana: “Wait, ok, Yeah. You do, I can help if you want, but I’m glad you finally realize what’s happening here is a problem!”

Jasper: “So you see my side, that we –”

Diana: “Need to stop this”

Jasper: “Wait, what? No, that I’m in love with you.”

Diana: “No. That you’ve been contacting me by killing people and waiting for me to show up. That’s an issue. That needs to stop.”

Jasper: “I mean, i just wanted to see you.”

Diana: “The only time you should want to see me is, like, hopefully, in a good 70 years. This is the kind of stuff that would warrant like, immediate psych attention.”

Jasper: “No no no — it’s not like that! The first time we met, when my mother died, it was just — like — like magic! You know? I hadn’t connected with someone in such a — sudden, and intense way. You walked in and you were like this force in the room..”

Diana: “Yeah. Death, I gather human souls. I was there to, er, harvest — your mom.”

Jasper: “And when you did, my heart skipped abeat!”

Diana: “I probably stopped it for a second by getting too close!”

Jasper: “Man I wish we were closer…” (dreamily)

Diana: “Well, Jasper, I mean, look – Your mother wouldn’t have wanted this! Killing all these people, to see, me — that’s not cool, man!”

Jasper: “Wow, ok you clearly have never met my mother.”

Diana: “What do you mean?”

Jasper: “She was a real eye for an eye kinda lady, vigilante justice kinda gal — if anything, she’d have put me in her will if she heard about this before she kicked the bucket.”

Diana: “Ok but you’re making my job a lot harder than it has to be, if you want to see me so bad, like — Facebook message me, or something, invite me for coffee — you don’t have to — to kill someone every time, man — That’s not really a way to start a relationship, you know?”

Jasper: “So you’re open to a relationship!?”

Diana: “No, no, if I touched you you’d die. Like, fast man. And I mean (bargaining) then you’d never see me again! So, we really shouldn’t.”

Jasper: “So then what do you suggest we do?”

Diana: “We shouldn’t do anything. You should stop doing this. You should never try to see me again.”

Jasper: “I can’t do that Diana!”

Diana: “Jasper, one of us has to cut off the other, and if I cut you off then things end up bad for you particularly.” (He looks puzzled)

Diana: “You never die. It sounds great, but just wait until you have to attend your great grand child’s funeral. Not a fun time, for anyone really.’

Jasper – “So I’d be immortal, but I’d never see you again.”

Diana – “Yeah, and when you get caught for all these murders, and sent to the chair, you stay there. I won’t come to get you. You’ll just suffer.”

Jasper – “That’s not cool babe.”

Diana: “Don’t babe me. I’m the opposite of a baby. Jasper. I need to take this guy, and I need to leave. And I don’t want to see you again. Ok?”

Jasper: “But –”

Diana: “I’m leaving, Jas. Have a good night.” (She walks over to the body and reaches just past him to collect the soul or something, and walks off stage shaking her head. Jasper looks after her.)

Jasper: “You’re still drop-dead gorgeous.” (Smirks, looks down at guy.) “If you weren’t dead that’dve killed you.”

“The Suspension Bridge Effect” by Donovan Fletcher

(Lights fade in as we see a boy and a girl both sitting on a narrow platform, tightly gripping each other. The girl’s legs are on the side to the audience and the boy’s legs are away from the audience)

Karen: I don’t know how we got up here, and really I don’t care, I’m blaming you.

Chase: What?!

: You might not be able to see from your perspective, but these two are on top of a bridge about 500 feet above the ground.

: Oh yeah because me talking too loud on the bus caused the entire bridge to break and fling us up here.

: Well you weren’t exactly helping.

: (sarcastically) Oh, ok alright, and what exactly were you doing, huh?

: (with hesitation) I — I was taking a light nap.

: And there it is.

(Chase freezes and Karen escapes his grasp to face the audience)

Karen: Ugh! Out of all people to be stuck with in a life threatening situation, it HAD to be Chase. This annoying brat has been pestering me since middle school. You would think that by now he would take the hint and leave me alone, but of course not, fate would rather hand pick this specific situation for us to be in. I just hope to make it out of this alive. My god, my heart is racing…

(Karen returns to the scene and Chase becomes unfrozen)

Karen: Look, your sass right now is the last thing we need. Can you see the damage to the bridge from here?

: I guess I can try. (Chase tries to look down but loses balance in the process. Both scream and grip each other stronger. Chase then faces the audience in the same way as before while chuckling.) Of course I’d be stuck up here with Karen Mayweather, the very girl that made most of my school years a living hell. Every aspect of her frustrates the crap out of me, the way she sees herself above it all, her head held up high, and that smug look on her face whenever I’m around her, as if she’s already won a fight we haven’t started yet. Her looks are the only thing she has going for her, but that’s only like if someone somehow managed to polish a rotten apple. Man, it feels like we could fall at any second, my heart is about to burst out of my chest.

(Chase enters back into the scene again)

Karen: OK, so not trying that again…

Chase: Definitely…

(prolonged awkward silence)

Karen: I – If we weren’t about to die, (coldly) I’d rather not be in this position with you.

Chase: Huh?

Karen: (embarrassed) You know… like, this close…

Chase: (stunned) Oh, y-yeah I guess so….

Narrator: Despite their constant bickering and insulting, both of them have something in common. They tend to keep to themselves, only occasionally socializing with others. Especially avoiding those of the opposite sex.

Chase: (turns to the audience) She smells really nice for some reason, I guess we’ve never been this close… this close… (snaps out of it) W-what am I thinking? How can one intimate moment make me forget all of the hatred that I had? My
heart … This, this has to be the height! I can’t be feeling these kinds of things right now. (enters back in but once he does both lose balance again and grip harder, again)

Karen: (turns to the audience) This, this feeling … A mix of enticement of contact and the thrill of near death, nothing has ever been so exciting in my boring life. I … I could get used to this… (snaps out of it) Ka- Karen!! Wha- what are you talking about!? It’s the situation not the boy that’s exciting! Cm’on, snap out of it! We were supposed to get over him years ago! (realizes she told her secret to the audience) Oh… Oh no… (shakily and slowly gets back into the scene)

Distant voice: Hey you two! Hang tight, we’ll be up there to rescue you shortly! (both have sighs of relief and shared laughter. Lights fade then come back up as they are standing without the platforms)

Karen: (on her knees) Ah, the ground! I would kiss it if it wasn’t the dirty side of a bridge.

Chase: (violently kissing the ground) GROUND GROUND SWEET STABLE GROUND HOW I’VE MISSED YOU!

Karen: Oh, get up off of the ground you little mongrel. (Chase rises after a scoff then some light chuckling, they make eye contact for a while, then both face the audience)

Both: Ok, we’re safe and apart from each other. I’m looking at her/him right now aaaaaand… My heart is not racing! I knew it was just the height!

Chase: We lived! (Both run to each other and hug. After a while the sound of a heart rate increasing plays. The both open their eyes still in their embrace)

Both: Oh no….

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