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Maya lavender's senior project in theater and performance (part 1): a play

The script for the first part of my Senior Project in theater and performance, submitted to the Division of the arts at Bard College. each student was assigned to devise a 10-minute performance piece, the genesis of the idea for this piece was to use metatheatrical devices to portray the feeling of becoming an adult. 

SCENE 1: THE INTRODUCTION AND THE SUBSEQUENT EXIT (She enters. Not quite into the center of a spotlight that’s not quite in the center of the stage. I think there’s a big clock counting down behind her. She’s holding a microphone. She looks like she’s about to say something, but doesn’t for just long enough that the audience might start to wonder if this is going to be the whole show.) SHE: I want to tell a coming of age story. A story about finding myself and becoming an adult. It’s hard, though. I have a feeling those stories are easier to write with hindsight and retrospect, and I’m still in the middle of things right now– I guess. I’m in that stage where people are asking me what I’m gonna do when I graduate. When I’m out in the real world… and I hate that. Because on one hand, The Real World is an MTV reality show that somehow ran for thirty three seasons. And on the other hand: Is this not the real world!? (She gestures around to the stage.) Okay well, actually, not this– Uh- Could you… hold on for- Sorry. (She walks off the stage and then gestures again.) This is, though. REAL, right? Okay I might need to walk out of… well maybe this entire building, for anything to be, like, really real. But I’m hoping you get my point. (She walks back onto the stage.) This feels weird now. (She’s still for a moment, feeling the weirdness, before looking around. She walks to a corner of the stage that feels furthest from the audience, before looking into the darkness of Backstage. She can feel weirdness emanating from back there, too. She leaves the stage again. Before she goes, she yells over her shoulder. To the audience? To the crew? To somebody.) My show isn’t over. It’s… I was– We were each given a full ten minutes. So, uh, please watch the rest of the show, even if I’m not in here. Like, don’t go to the bathroom or cough super loud or whatever. I mean, unless you really have to. Then that’s– whatever. Scene 2: THE PLAY WITHIN THE PLAY AND THE PLAY WITHIN THAT ONE (The stage is left empty, except for the slightly off center spotlight. This lasts for a moment. A moment long enough that people might think that this is the rest of the show. Then a person appears on the stage. They read from a sheet of paper as if they’re giving a book report. I think they have shaky hands.) PERSON: Theater is considered metatheatrical when it calls attention to its own theatricality. An example of metatheatricality could be a moment in a play when a character directly addresses the audience directly. Another example of metatheatricality is a metatheatrical device called The Play Within The Play. The Play Within The Play is often used to convey a moment of heightened theatricality or performativity within the play that contains it and the themes of The Play Within The Play will often mirror those of the Container Play…… okay. (The person sits down. Two actors walk onto the stage.) ACTOR 1: What do you want to be when you grow up? ACTOR 2: I want to be happy. What about you? ACTOR 1: I was going to say that I want to be an astronaut, but now that you answered, I feel like I should change mine. I want to be happy too. ACTOR 2: Wait, can I change mine, too? I want to be an actor. (The actors bow and leave the stage. The person applauds politely as they stand up. They’re no longer reading from their book report.) PERSON: That was really nice. I think my favorite part was when they… Well, I liked, um, I liked how the theme was conveyed through– I’m actually not very good at this. Please don’t tell anybody. Actually, if anyone asks, can you please tell them that I’m really good at it? (The person bows and then walks off stage. Another moment passes. Maybe the audience knows better by now than to think that the rest of the show would be an empty stage.) THIS IS NOT A SCENE AND YOU WILL NOT SEE IT While she’s gone, something happens. She goes behind the curtain. She goes backstage. And maybe that’s all it is, but she’s transformed. Like, not to be dramatic, but she comes back different. Different in a way that the audience may not be able to see. Maybe they’ll feel it. Or maybe they will never, ever notice. Her transformation is something that can’t be written down. It’s her dirty little secret that’s actually massive and honestly pretty clean and maybe not a secret at all because it happens to everybody and she thinks she knows what it is and that’s what this whole show is supposed to be about but it has to happen behind a curtain because she can’t comprehend it because she doesn’t have the hindsight and the retrospect yet and so, like a secret, she can’t tell anyone and she can’t write about it. It cannot be written down. But it will happen. It has to happen. It’s in the script, so it will happen. In fact, it is happening. Still. Scene 3: THE RETURN AND THEN THE END (She returns to her spot on the stage. She lingers for a moment, and then sits right on the stage’s edge. Her legs swing like she's a little kid in a highchair. Maybe she feels like a little kid.) SHE: I feel- Well, I think that I- …I feel like I think I feel... (to backstage) Sorry, there’s… a lot going on- …People wearing black and headsets… Everyone’s quiet… still too loud. People are on edge. Doing breathing exercises, saline rinses. People are mean. I don’t think they mean to be. … It’s not just “people” You know? It’s my friends. The people you came out to see tonight. Me. And I think this is the only time we’re ever like this. … And it feels like we’re doing it in preparation for something … but I thought this was it. … You know, like, we can stop waiting around for something to happen. Enough is already going on. … … … I want someone to apologize, but I’m not sure who. (She sits on the edge of the stage with her feet swinging. She feels young and she feels old. She looks at the audience. They look at her. Maybe they wonder what she’s thinking about. Maybe she wonders what she’s thinking about, too. I think she will feel vulnerable. I think she might have a hard time looking at the audience, but they will keep looking at her. That’s what audiences do, after all. I do hope that, in time, she finds a certain comfort there—sitting on the edge of the stage, with her feet swinging, feeling maybe-vulnerable, looking at the audience or not. The clock behind her counts down to 00:00, and then the lights go down. This is the rest of the play. She does not bow.) The end!

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