So, we had a very successful run of Thorns and Thistles last weekend, What a great show. It’s kinda funny, last night I was sitting at home, sure that I was supposed to be somewhere, but i didn’t have rehearsals anymore. That’s the two-edged sword of theatre, it’s so much fun, but takes so much time. Now that i’m between shows, i have time again in the evenings, but i don’t get to hang out with all the cool kids i met through New Play Project.
But, with the thrill of the theatre still fresh in my heart, and with a new job as Technical Director of New Play Project, i took some time to work on my own play. My goal, then, by the time i graduate from BYU is to have been involved in NPP in every aspect, from audience member, to actor, to tech director, to writer, and maybe even director. That’d be fun, and really round out my range of theater skills.
So, to any who care, here is the first half of my play i call Nobler in the Mind.
Nobler in the Mind
John Nobler (enters in front of the curtain, crosses to downstage center): Good Evening, and welcome to our theatre, our show, my mind. For I am John Nobler and I invite you all to enter my mind and look around, and see if you find anything interesting. I have prepared for you tonight a few scenes from my life, a few events that have shaped me, and made me who I am. I have fictionalized them a bit, but that is of no matter. I mean, what is the real difference between Fact and Fiction? Between Life and Art? Some say Life imitates Art, and others maintain that Art is an imitation of Life. Well, which is it? I don’t think it’s either. I say, Life is Life, and Art is Art. And if there is a similarity between the two, it is only because the Artist is also Alive, and he infuses his Art with a part of his Life and invites others to look at his Artistic Life and find a resemblance to their own.
Life isn’t really like a movie, when you really think about it. But maybe that’s why we like movies so much. We get enough real life out there in real life; we don’t want to have to watch it when go to the movies. We go to the movies for a chance to escape, for a chance to forget our own ugly, brutish, nasty, short lives, and a chance to pretend, if only for a moment, that life could be great. We long to believe that the good guys always win. We long to believe that the underdog can triumph. We long to believe that True Love can be found. And we are willing to overlook the small details; we are willing to suspend our disbelief. Because we all know True Love doesn’t happen everyday. But honestly, we wouldn’t want it to. We have enough problems with our normal, everyday variety of love; we don’t want to complicate that further by adding that capital letter in True. And perhaps it is the effort, the time and energy involved in these normal, everyday loves which make them all the more interesting and real. And perhaps it is even all of this effort, this constant give-and-take and working together which takes the normal, everyday variety of love and turns it into a True Love, with an emphasis on the capital letters. It doesn’t happen in the course of a 30-minute sitcom or a 90-minute movie. And that is why it is special. Because we make it so.
And so, with those thoughts running rampant through your minds, we start our show. Sit back, relax, and enjoy it, just please don’t fall asleep, Life and Art deserve a little better than that. Thank you. The stage is set, the actors take their places, and the play begins.
(Exits stage right, curtain opens, revealing the inside of a small chapel. It should be so set that the audience feels that they are sitting in the last row of the church, watching. The scene is a funeral, perhaps there are a few pictures of a young man, mid twenties. A preacher stands at the pulpit.)
Preacher: Dear friends and family, relatives and loved ones, today we remember and respect our dearly departed Justin Peters. This athlete, musician, friend, brother, son meant so much to each of us. His life has influenced each of ours in such a way, like no one else’s could. He was, unfortunately, taken from us all too soon. His life was short, but his soul was big, and his impact on the world, on our world, even greater. He will be sorely missed.
But we who remain, we who are left now find ourselves facing a dilemma. We must ask ourselves some very difficult questions. What is life? Why must young men die? Is there a God, and does He really care? But we are not alone in asking these questions. Mankind has asked himself these questions and similar ones since the beginning of time. And must we remain without answer? Are the Heavens silent on this subject? Will God not reveal Himself and His plan to men??
The answer is … He will and He does. We have the words of Holy Prophets, written in scripture to comfort our souls in such troubled and troubling times. From Isaiah we learn ….
(While preacher continues to mouth a few words, a woman stands up from her seat, turns and walks downstage. The curtain closes behind her.)
Mother: I loved that boy. Even with everything he did, I loved him. And now he’s gone. (Pause) They say your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. And I don’t know if that happened to my Justin, but it certainly happened to me. He’s gone, but I see his life flashing before me. I remember him.
(Enter Father, as if holding a new-born child, crosses to mother)
Father: Look, honey, isn’t he beautiful? Look at our son!
Mother: I’m sure he’ll grow up to be big and tall, just like his father.
Father: Just as long as he’s as smart as his mother! (Exits stage R, A tricycle is pushed and rolls across the stage from Stage R to Stage L, Father enters following it)
Father: Look at our little speed demon go! He’s growing up so fast! (Exits Stage L, reenters with a baseball glove, crosses to center stage where he catches a baseball thrown from off stage)
Father: Quite an arm that kid has! Catch this one, son! (Throws the ball back, and exits, following it. Reenters, crosses to Mother, standing next to her)
Father: Well, I gave him the car keys, and he took off with some friends. They’ll be back later.
Mother: Will they be all right?
Father: It’s his birthday, let him have some fun with his friends. They’ll be fine. (Exits Stage R, reenters with a camera)
Father: So, our little boy is graduating today. He looks so grown up in his cap and gown. Come over here son, and stand next to your mother.
(Mother puts her arm around her “son”, and smiles as Father takes a picture, perhaps saying something like “Smile” or “Say cheese!”. Father then puts his arm around his “son” and exits Stage L. Reenters, crosses slowly to Mother, and puts his arm around her.)
Father: He’s gone. The doctors did all they could to help him, but there wasn’t much that they could do. He’s gone. Our boy is gone. (Exits Stage L slowly, visibly upset)
(Mother steps forward)
Mother: Our boy is gone. (Pause) But I’m still remembering. (Curtain opens, and she returns to her seat.)
Matt: ( stands up, walks downstage) I didn’t really know him, not really. I mean, sure, we hung out together some, played some video games together, were on the same team at school. But, he was always more a friend of a friend than actually a friend of mine, know what I mean? But still, I knew him, even if we hadn’t seen each other since we graduated. (Pause)
I still can’t believe he’s gone. It happened so suddenly, none of us expected it. But then, it wasn’t really all that surprising, either, I mean, the way he died. I think Barnes said it best, – When Justin died, the newspaper talked to all his old running buddies from high school, and Barnes told them he was so shocked to hear the he had died, but not so shocked to hear how he died, in an accident like that. Pete was always so full of life, trying to do a little bit more, go a little bit further, have a little bit more fun.
Having fun and pushing limits like that – it’s probably exactly how Justin wanted to go. (Pause) But definitely not when. (Returns to his seat.)
Louisa: (stands, walks downstage) So many memories. Coming back here, seeing everybody again. I wish we could all just sit around and talk about the old days forever. But it kinda seems wrong, you know, laughing at the old stories when we’re here for Justin’s funeral. Everybody’s walking around so somber, they seem so depressed, and here we are laughing our heads off at Jimmy’s classic penguin impression! (laughs slightly)
You know, we’ve known each other since elementary school, Justin and I. I had a great time whenever I was with him. He never failed to make me smile. He was just so much fun to be with. That’s why I don’t think it’s all that bad that we laugh and have a good time at his funeral. I’m sure he would have wanted it that way. Heck, if he were here, he’d probably be making the most jokes, and definitely the most vulgar ones.
Funerals are funny in that regard. I mean, sure we’re sad that he’s dead, that we won’t get to hear any of his jokes again, won’t get to talk with him, but aren’t we supposed to be here to remember him? And remembering him makes me laugh, is there anything wrong with that? I don’t think so. I think the best tribute I can give to my dear old friend and the boy that I loved is to laugh for him. To remember his jokes and laugh for him. So, Justin, if you’re listening, this one’s for you. (laughs)
John Nobler: (walks downstage, curtain closes behind him) All in all, it was a nice weekend, considering the circumstances. It was kinda nice to see everyone again, to catch up, to remember the old times. It was great to see how much some friends had changed, and to see that certain friends hadn’t changed at all.
But we were all there to mourn Justin, to pay our respects, as they say. It was a sobering experience. To think that one of our friends was dead, and at such a young age, too. (MORE)
Curtain opens to reveal the exact same set, the inside of the church.
Justin Peters: (Enters from upstage R) It’s a really unique experience – being at your own funeral. You should try it some time! It’s odd, though, to hear so many good things said about me. I’m pretty sure half of that wasn’t true, I mean, I’m not that good am I? But I guess it makes them feel better to eulogize me like that. And that’s a funny word, eulogy – from the Greek “to speak well”, well, they certainly spoke well of me. (Pause)
And I still don’t think I was really that good. I’ve had some time to think about that lately. I remember what I learned in Sunday School : when you die , you stand before God to be judged. Well, obviously I’m still alive – or maybe alive isn’t the right word – awake? Aware! Yeah, I’m still conscious and aware of what’s going on, is that what it is to be dead? Do I still have time? Time for repentance, or forgiveness, or … or anything? I don’t know, but I guess I have some time to find out.
Hope you enjoyed, i enjoyed writing it. I’ll be working on the second half, then have it workshopped by the lovely people over at New Play Project, and hopefully it’ll be produced sometime soon!
Catch you all lator, and don’t forget, “The Play’s the thing!”