Dream House
a solo comedy by
Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller
Bozo the Clown
Liz the Developer
Bessie the Plumber
Beth the Dreamer
Bette the Inspector
Liza the Gambler
Lizzie the Slut
and Elizabeth Fuller
The play is performed within a cube of white PVC pipe, 8x8x8 ft. A revolving stool, a chair, a step ladder, and a bin. At the beginning, the cube is entirely covered by translucent fabric.
© 2007 Conrad Bishop & Elizabeth Fuller. All rights reserved.
For production information, contact WordWorkers, 800-357-6016 or E-mail.
Music. To black.
Flashlight behind cloth. Beam moves about.
Where the hell? Where’d I put it?
Where where where. . .
It’s the only one I’ve got. I need to find it. Where’d I put it? I need to find it.
You can’t.
I can’t. It’s lost.
It’s a dream it’s a dream it’s a dream. . .
It’s a dream. It’s ok, it’s only a—
I’m spinning I’m spinning
Spin spin spin spin
Dream dream dream. . .
Here it is.
She puts on a red nose.
That’s scary. Stick it on better. Dream stuff falls off.
She pounds the nose on tight. Reacts in pain. Looks around.
Dreamland. Is this it?
Well yeh. Cause I am happy. Feel it.
I am truly happy, truly blest, full of contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, delight, ecstasy, thrills, kicks, jollies, glee, buzz, joy, and so damned depressed.
I’m scattered, I’m old, I’m ugly, I’m fat, I’m tired, I’m driven—
Most times, nothing rhymes.
She explores the space.
It’s a ladder. I could get high.
No. Ladder signifies aspiration. Trunk: conservation. Lamp: illumination. Stool: spinning around.
Gotta figure this out before it figures me out.
I dreamed I looked in the mirror and saw a clown. Didn’t look like me, it looked like my sister, but I don’t have a sister, so this was a complication. But I had to look in the mirror to put my face on straight. It’s loose. It wobbles.
I don’t have dreams like this. Maybe it’s not mine. Cause I dream about people I love and parties and flowers and hideous monsters and being naked in algebra class. Normal stuff.
Peeks through cloth to front.
You find this confusing, O creatures from outer space? Welcome to my innards.
Remember: You bought a ticket. You chose this little jaunt. I didn’t.
I’d rather just spin around.
She spins on the stool.
It comes to a stop.
Nothing lasts forever.
Take off that nose!
She yanks it off.
Poor excuse for an ego. Can’t even go shopping without it.
I mean you’ve earned it, you deserve it, just don’t take it for granted. There are billions of people on this planet who wake every day not knowing what they’ll find on their face.
Nightmarish cries.
This shows all the signs of getting very freaky.
She puts the nose on.
Or maybe . . . opportunity! Cause the Chinese character for Opportunity is Danger and Crisis. Or Opportunity and Crisis are Danger in China. Or Character and Crisis in China are a Dangerous Opportunity.
Deep wisdom for frantic people.
So this is my dream world, my dream vacation, my. . .
My Dream House. . .
Beautiful. That’s beautiful, incredible, fantastic! My Dream House!
Could it be? Dream. Fantasize. Envision. Let’s do it.
Black. She grabs cloth in the center, pulls it down on herself. Lights.
She looks out from under the cloth.
Yes yes yes. A place to be. My Dream House.
I’ve never never ever had just what I want, but it’s my dream so I can have just what I want. What do I want?
Ok, this is West. West? It’s my dream: it’s West. So I want big-time permeability in the West, windows wall to wall, that rosy light pouring in.
East, my portal, so the door is here, gorgeous archway. Wham.
South, big fireplace in the South, and Pow! to the North. Earth stuff, store my intellect there, and photo albums, gas receipts, piles of crap.
And a clear space for looking out. Clearly in here looking out. Me. Here. Out.
Then a great big plant that just goes RAHHH! And a curtain of ivy in a pot right over the door, so the earthquake comes it falls on my head, I have one fantastic orgasm and die! Facing West.
My cats, my ivy, my ficus, my lemon tree. Old lovers down in the root cellar. And I live and work and cook and dance and garden and love and yell THANK YOU MAMA!
I can’t believe it’s happening.
It’s not.
But it will. Just gotta keep my nose on. Stay focused.
Find it! Find what? Find the letter! What letter? The letter I’m dreaming about. Where’s the—
She searches frantically.
“In accord with the mandate of executors hereinunder named—
It’s here. . .
This is to detail particulars of the bequest of which you are named legatee—
It’s gotta be. . .
“As joint beneficiary with your sisters.”
She finds the letter, halts.
Sisters. Sisters, right. I didn’t read that far.
I don’t think I really need any sisters here, cause I’ve got it pretty well worked out, and anyway that’s kinda complicated because I don’t . . . have any sisters and . . . we’re barely on speaking terms.
Black. Phone beeps. Fragmentary echoes.
Liz? (Yes.) Liz, yeh, it’s me. (Yes.) Gee, it’s been a while— (No.) But can you make it? (Yes.) Great. Because this is a great place, but you’re the pro, I mean a sister who’s a realtor— (Developer.) Developer. Sorry, Liz. But I mean take a look, tell me what you think, because I really value your opinion even though we don’t always agree, in fact we never do, but still— (I’ll be there.) I’m here. I’m right here with my nose on. See you. Bye.
Lights. Liz stands in the center. She addresses the nose.
Well nice to see you. Why don’t you just sit right there and I’ll take a look around.
She puts the nose on the stool, then investigates the room.
So I’m assuming that you just want my opinion on the property as an investment.
Isn’t it beautiful?
Beautiful. Well that’s an interesting idea. It’s a matter of taste, Bozo.
I’m sorry, I forgot, you don’t like to be called Bozo, even though we’ve always called you Bozo, I mean what do your other sisters call you? You don’t have a name of your own.
Cell phone beeps. Liz answers.
Scuse me. (to phone) Yes. Yes. No. Yes. Developer! (to the nose) It’s you. (to phone) I’ll be there. Just wait. Thanks.
Clicks off.
My dear, we are sisters. We have sisters. And in this family we are named Elizabeth.
It is not for me to speculate why our parents chose to name seven daughters Elizabeth, but life is like that. And after exhausting Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Beth, Bessie, Bette, what is there left but Bozo?
I do my best to meet your needs. Now you need me to be an experienced real estate developer, so be it. Just as I had to be a piano prodigy, a merit scholar, a full-charge bookkeeper, an actress, a composer, a public relations expert, a pathological liar, or whatever else you needed me to excel at. I must admit to being a bit tired of it all.
Liz, I’m sorry, if you don’t want to do it, then—
Now have you talked to the owner? Don’t. Let me talk. Don’t embarrass me. Contractors, inspectors, permits, I’ll handle that. You’re a clown.
You’ll need to get rid of the light. That’s West, the sun pours in there, wall it up. Fireplace should go in the North, that’s standard, and for heaven’s sakes no plants.
I kinda wanted some plants—
Real estate is real estate, plants are botany, you are a clown. No plants!
So, location. Location is the watchword. Are you here or are you somewhere else? I have always thought of you as not quite all here.
Because real estate, unlike my gift for languages, my perfect pitch, my taste in clothes, my knowledge of all the state capitols in alphabetical order, my expertise in herbal medicine, goddess mythology, motorcycles and hunting rifles, or my skill in macrame— What was the subject?
I wanted some plants—
I do have great empathy with people who feel they’re inferior, because they probably are. And I feel your pain when you see me looking fifteen years younger and my recipe for authentic Bolivian chili. But it’s a matter of attitude. Value is attitude. Truth is beauty, beauty truth, Keats, and I don’t think you’re listening to me! You never listen to me! You dump around in your dumpy clothes and your dumpy attitude and your totally inadequate grasp of French! It’s unsisterly, Bozo! It’s betrayal!
She stops dead in the tirade.
Liz, I’m not meaning to insult you. I really want to have some connection here. I don’t deny that I needed you at one time—
Tape fades as her real voice takes over.
—I needed you at one time because you could get all A’s and win the gold medal and be really special so Mommy thought it was me that did that and she wouldn’t put me down the garbage disposal.
She puts on the nose, becomes Clown.
But I knew it was you, Liz! I was proud of you! But right now we need to kinda team up and tackle this thing together and—
Snatches off the nose, becomes Liz:
Do you know what that cost? For me to win those medals all the time thinking I was going to vomit except I wasn’t because there wasn’t anything left? For me to stand up in class and win the spelling bees and recite the poem on Columbus Day and all my classmates snickering and giving me the finger? For me to make up the lies and the lies and the lies because the truth was never enough? Do you know what that cost?
Nose on.
A lot?
Nose off.
And you don’t even have an address!
Black. Voice fragments.
Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Beth, Bessie,
Bette. . .
No plants.
Sisters sisters sisters
As Elizabeth:
Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie. . .
Fireplace should go in the North.
No plants.
Sisters sisters
Location is the watchword.
Sisters sisters
As Elizabeth:
Liza, Beth, Bessie, Bette. . .
Value is attitude.
Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie. . .
No plants.
You need to get rid of the light.
Liza, Beth, Bessie, Bette. . .
Wall it up.
Wall it up.
Wall it up.
As the Clown:
I’d like a little privacy!
Assess the damage. Still got my clothes on at least.
(as if to Liz) No, it’s not ready yet. It’s a dream. Dreams leak.
You didn’t have to come apart all over the floor. I never asked you for a thing. You just did it. Thank you. I got other sisters. Never a shortage of sisters.
But she’s right, I need an address.
Finds materials and tools.
Cause how can I be here if I don’t know where is here? I’ve got lotsa good addresses. Memories. All saved up. Like coupons.
3231, that’s a good one. White picket fence.
That’s where Ladybug died. Cold floors. Loud TV.
Maybe 115. High ceilings.
Plaster keeps peeling. Just a matter of time. Somebody’s coming through the window.
409-22. Warm and cozy.
Hit your head on the steam pipes. Car exhaust. Boom boxes. Freezing cold. Hot.
2729. So full of love.
One big dead rat in the skillet.
502. Yeh, trees and flowers and a garden, always wanted a garden.
Weeds. Crabgrass. Gophers. Weeds. Weeds. 367. Dishes spilling out of the sink. 93. Rotten leftovers in the fridge. 7835. Blank walls. 2233. Smashing glasses in the kitchen sink. 616. 9322. 53652. 1600. Mice. Rats. Ants. Roaches. Neighbors.
We should have learned from 9-11. Never trust an Arabic numeral.
Shouts into the void.
Bessie! Hello! Help!
Black. Sound. Voice overlays:
I remember the north room was cold and there was a fireplace but never a fire and it was dark, it was very. . .
The phone was down the hall and whenever it rang I thought it must be for me and I hoped nobody would answer it but then I had to answer...
And it was all hard-edged and new, you couldn’t put a nail in the walls, you couldn’t walk on the carpet, this house did not want you in it. . .
The kitchen table, the best place was right in the middle of this great big space, there wasn’t even a kitchen, it was just stuck over at one side, and the kitchen table was right in the middle of everything. And the kitchen table in this other place was just a little island, a little island so you could walk all around it to the sink, to the fridge, to the stove, it was just a little island of its own. And the kitchen table was up in this pantry, it was the strangest little room, they must have had a place where they must have had lots of cupboards, and the kitchen table, well it wasn’t a kitchen table to sit and eat at because we had one of those, but it was up in that wonderful pantry, and the kitchen table, well it was right up against the stove, it was right up because it was so small. . .
Voice of Bessie:
No problem, don’t say a word, we’ll fix it.
Light. Bessie the Plumber:
So whatta you got here? You got no plumbing. You never put first things first. Plumbing is beneath me, you think. It damn well better be. Try to have civilization without it. The Metropolitan Opera relies on good plumbing. The Super Bowl—that’s why they call it that. The United Nations—one thing they all agree on. One human need.
Just keep your mouth shut. I don’t like chit-chat.
Starts putting PVC together.
I hate new construction. It’s all so shoddy. I need a beer. Any beer, Bozo, beer for your sis? Course not. Depend on me. Maintain your angle of slope. Hold on, we gotta vent this.
Starts banging with a hammer.
People don’t think you’re working if you don’t make a lotta noise.
Tosses hammer away, searches tool box.
Never have what I need. Do it anyway. There’s always a work-around. Nobody sees any of this. Polite company pretends I don’t exist. Don’t you yearn for the days when you went out behind a bush?
Don’t tell me. I can deal with it. We’re sisters. Tell you the truth, I don’t have total respect for people that can’t pressure-punch the shit-clogs out of their pipe. But you got higher things to think about. That’s what smelly sisters are for.
Yeh, I got aggressive tendencies. Good thing for you. Use a snake it’s pretty tedious, yayayayayaya! Rrpprkkrkkk nyh nyh! But that’s life.
See, here’s the thing. Gravity is your friend. Friction is your enemy. The right set-up makes your shit want to go back in the eco-system. Just relax, it’s a downhill ride.
You never say a word. I could do with some chit-chat. Scuse me, gotta make more noise.
Bangs on things, then back to work.
See, this shapes my world view. People think there’s this magic place called Away. Grease in your pan, you throw it Away. Trash, garbage, they take it Away. Toxic waste, Away. Toilet training means crap where you want but shove it under the rug. But I say this: your pipes clog up you better put a zipper on your ass.
Not you personally, sis. Clowns are special. Just stop interrupting in case you were thinking about it.
Looks at her connections.
What’s this? What’s this do? It’s all outlet, no inlet. It’s just going around. Send your poop in a loop. This is not up to my standards.
I need a connector. There are caps, there are elbows, there are T’s and not one union. And you never say a word.
Just once I’d like to do something complete to the finish. It’s always do what’s needed, finish it later, off to the next. I’m gonna do this one right. Don’t do nothing till I get back. Don’t touch nothing, don’t even think it. You are a clown and a klutz and if you lay one finger on that you will void the warranty. Don’t even blow your nose. Blackout!
Black. Fragmentary sounds. Clown’s voice in black:
Do it. Just do it, Elizabeth. You know better. You don’t have any damn sisters, you do it all yourself, it’s you, it’s really you fixing the plumbing and hanging the door and earning the money and doing the taxes and cooking very good Italian food and writing songs and making a perfectly good life as an incredibly functional and competent human being with just a little help from my— My sisters! (You don’t have any—) I need my sisters! (You don’t have any goddamn—) They were always there. They can be me a lot better than I can be me.
Lights. She is barefaced. Slowly puts nose on. With energy:
We’re kinda cluttered. Straighten up. That ancient Japanese science of finding the energetic alignments inherent in the mess.
Basic survival skills: keep your pants on, don’t forget to breathe, and if the world gives you lemons, make lemonade. If they’re not already squeezed.
Make a list. I can do that. Construct my own reality.
Music. She drags in a pile of wood, starts to build, Echoes.
Fix the charger. Strip the floor. Set the alarm.
Feed the dog. Find the dog food. Find the dog. Neuter the cat.
Put toys away. Write thank-you notes. Brush teeth. Memorize poem. Find Crayolas. Sharpen knife. Kill chicken.
Take off trap. Clean up goop. Stop drip. Take nap. Smoke dope.
Lose homework. Forge report card. Miss bus. Lie to parents. Shoplift. Get pregnant. Time contractions. Have baby. Nurse baby. Raise baby.
Circuit tester, wire stripper, nippers, pliers, receipts, canceled checks, contracts, petty cash, general ledger, trial balance, quarterlies. 990’s. 1099’s. W2’s.
Eat apple. Build ark. Leave Egypt. Battle Philistines. Rise from dead.
Sew my pants. Fix the sewing machine so I can sew my pants. Change the bulb so I can fix the sewing machine so I can sew my pants. Borrow a ladder so I can change the bulb so I can fix the sewing machine so I can sew my pants. Put on my pants so I can borrow a ladder—
Reinstall operating system.
Comes to a dead halt.
I think I need . . . just a little rest . . . just. . .
No! No no! I see this one coming. The airhead. First real challenge, she honks off to sleep. Total avoidance. Always dream it, never do it.
At least I know better than try to fool myself saying I’ll just close my eyes for two minutes and get some energy and just. . .
Snore. She’s sound asleep. Black. Echoes. Lights: Beth the Dreamer.
Sweet Bozo, imagine. Sink into the light. Like our house in Milwaukee, before we moved. Full of light. Little nooks and crannies, look up at the slanted wall. Imagine.
We’ll have a party after we’re settled in. A huge chandelier, with light from beeswax candles, we’ll keep bees and make beeswax candles and honey for mead, punch bowls of mead with rose petals floating. All the food from our garden, chickens and ducks, home-grown, and bees for honey and mead.
We’ll arrange these amazing mirrors, and this door in the wall to the East, it’s not there now, but around the door that isn’t there it seems like open space, and you walk right through the wall to the room that isn’t behind the wall that isn’t there.
And it’s huge. Walk through the rooms, brighter, brighter. Rooms full of dreams, all free. Rooms lit by phosphorescence. You hear water, the crackle of fire?
You like it, Bozo? Is that a nice dream? Do I dream you nice dreams?
As Clown:
Oh yeh, they’ll all go wild, they’ll say, My God, look what she did, and they’ll call all their friends and say, Believe, believe in magic. Believe!
As Dreamer:
Then at midnight we’ll open the walls and let in the fog—imagine the candles in fog? And through the fog we see the herd of elk. Stately, majestic elk walking under the stars.
To your wedding. You’re marrying yourself. It’s been a really tough courtship. Lotta doubts and fights. But it’s all worked out, and your guests are bringing you silver. I dream it for you, sister. Dream you a life.
As Clown:
It’s more than a party. It’s the cusp of change.
See the beauty and joy in just being alive. Sweep away the rubble. Join hands and sing our blessings.
It’s a huge moment in human history.
When do we do it?
As Dreamer:
Let’s say three weeks.
As Bessie the Plumber:
Three weeks? Oh Jesus Christ! Three weeks??? We do bees and honey and elk and human transmogrification— A toilet you’ll maybe get in three weeks. Invite over your friends, “Hey come and try out my toilet!”
You have to let go. The world needs dreamers, vision, the world needs magic.
The world needs a good swift kick. Bees and honey and beeswax all in three weeks.
No one asked you for bees.
No, you’ll wait three weeks and then “Bessie, we need bees! Trot down to the bee store, and while you’re out, pick up a dozen elk.”
Would you slow down and let things find their rightful form—
I get called in on emergencies.
What is an emergency?
An emergency is what happens when you take your time.
But if you can’t dance with it, then all the rest of your life will cooperate in limiting you.
There was one time I had the chance to take the time to do it right. Take it apart, put it together, see it. That’s a luxury, with one helluva luxury tax.
You’re the whipped cream. But what holds the whipped cream up? You just go pftt pftt pftt, and stick a cherry on top.
The world goes to work every day forgetting its dreams. Racing against time, the fast runner.
As Clown:
Will you all shut up! I don’t need this!
I do stuff. I did stuff for the party.
I invited two hundred people.
Nightmarish cries.
Bessie? Beth?
Clown alone.
I feel kind of alone. At this moment in history.
I invited two hundred people. I don’t know two hundred people. I must be somebody else who knows two hundred people.
No. My nose. Still me. Pants firmly in place. At least it’s not that kinda dream.
Do something. Where do you get an elk? Or a chandelier?
Major construction. Forget the warranty. There’s no warranty on life. They ship it, you mangle it, then you’re marked Return to Sender.
So we’re not quite ready here. Gotta get ready before we get that phone call.
Phone rings.
I know who it is. Never need to call her. She’s always just around the corner. Stop ringing. I know what you’ll say. I’ve got it memorized.
She answers the phone. Opens the trunk, puts on costume elements.
Bette, hi. Great to talk to you. It’s always really special.
Well yeh, it’s got great potential. I know there’s a lot to do, Bessie’s taking care of the plumbing if she gets back pretty soon, and I’ve got a housewarming party coming up.
It’s not quite ready to look at yet, even though when it’s ready I’d like you to look if there’s any code violations or such, because if there’s anything wrong I know Bette is the one to spot it.
But I’m not quite ready now, I have to start brewing the mead from the honey I’ll get from the bees when I get the bees.
So yeh, I’d love to see you so stop over in maybe about three weeks, or like . . . right now?
Takes off nose. Bette the Inspector. She examines things.
No. Nope. No. No way. No no. Nosireebob. Negative. Nope. No.
You ask if you conform to code. No you do not. Maybe the Code of Hammurabi or the tax code or the Morse code, but not to the building code.
Violations: there, there, there, there, there, there and there. Also there. I know you’re aware of this. There’s guilt written all over your nose.
I find this. A work list. “Put my toys away. Do my arithmetic. Say my prayers.” But what about your ground fault interrupt? That is required in kitchens and bathrooms and don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ground fault interrupt. People think Oh I’m grounded I’m hot shit. You may be grounded, but if you haven’t got an interrupt you’re not up to code.
No ground fault interrupt.
Entrances: this is really substandard except for a Hobbit. Outlets, switches: substandard. Crawl space: substandard.
Worklist: “Feed the cat. Wash my hair. Balance the petty cash.” Petty cash: substandard. Hair: substandard. Cat: substandard.
Floor, ok, you got a floor. We’re making progress. Doors and windows: you need some. Roof: You have no roof. Did you ever look up? You have rain, Bozo, you have meteorites, you have shitting birds, and there are books that show pictures of roofs, you can see what they look like, roofs in Switzerland and in China and in the United States of America.
This is not the former Soviet Union. This is not Cuba where they are forced by the secret police to divide up their roofs. You may have your own roof if you please!
I need to write this up.
Bette, couldn’t you sometimes say what’s good instead of what’s bad? Evaluation in a spirit of support. Do I have to take more tests to decide whether I deserve to be alive?
Walls! Look at this, watch this!
Waves arm through wall space.
You have no walls. You have no walls! You have a framework of plastic pipes. I think you’d better invest in building some walls and then rethink your philosophy of life.
We’re not talking occupancy permits here. We are talking about your license to the American middle class, your license to survival. No, I’m sorry.
She rips a document to pieces.
Now put your nose on and cry!
Nose on. Clown cries bitterly. Nose off.
I know you think I’m strict, but just look at Leviticus. All the regulations. And the Ark, the specific building regulations: three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide, thirty cubits high, window here, door there, three stories, one two three, required materials are pitch and gopher wood, and in Leviticus, when you sin you bring a young bullock to the tabernacle, and the head and the hide and the kidneys and the blood and the dung, whole damn bullock, burnt offerings and wave offerings and heave offerings, and where is your bullock??? Cry!
Nose on. Cries. Nose off.
Bozo, you are substandard. Five minutes after birth you achieved a perfect score on your Apgar test, and it’s been all downhill from there.
This nose is full of snot.
A pause. Bette refocuses, speaks to audience.
What are you looking at? Don’t you dare judge me when you don’t even know if I love cats.
I come here when I’m called. I’m here on her first day of school. Her report card. Her first trip to the dentist. Her first date. Her first copulation. All the tests. I tell her what she already knows. I never say a word. I’m just the echo.
All she would do was curl in a heap and cry. Bessie could fix stuff, Liz could lie, Beth went to sleep and Lizzie got laid. Bozo just cried.
She couldn’t sort laundry. Her mom would ask her to sort laundry, and she’d sit there, look at this basket of laundry and cry. Crying in front of underpants.
Her clothes closet. They bought her clothes and clothes and clothes, and she tried to pretend she was pretty. She was not pretty. The coke-bottle glasses, the braces, this big butt that stuck out, and when she was little she thought it was cute because people patted her on the butt but I straightened her out on that.
She cried. She pretended to cry. She’d turn all red, and tears and tears and tears, but what did she have worth crying about?
She was smart. But if you’re going to be smart, then make that your life, don’t play with yourself under the covers. Just be smart.
She knows. She knows deep down that she’s special. And if she’s special, if she’s consuming ten, twenty, thirty times what that little girl in Darfur, in Bangladesh or the Sudan consumes, then she must be ten, twenty, thirty times as perfect.
And so this is what she pays. To the people of Darfur, of Bangladesh, of Sudan, Chiapas, Bosnia, Afghanistan, the Congo, the woman in Philadelphia working twelve hours a day who doesn’t have a toilet for her kids, the people nobody thinks of as people, the mother in Thailand who sells her ten-year-old daughter to be fucked by nice businessmen because she has NO CHOICE IN THE MATTER— And it will all happen to you unless you’re special.
Are you special? Are you thirty times as perfect? I’ll be making my rounds.
She removes Inspector’s costume. Puts on her nose. As the Clown:
I liked to have nice hair. Clean clothes. Clean hands. Till the inspections started.
She’ll be back whenever I’m not ready.
The lights are out. Stay that way.
Flashlight on. A doll with a red clown nose is raised into the beam. Clown, behind, is a second voice. Doll is manipulated in a non-representational way.
Somebody help me.
Climb the stairs.
I need Mama.
Dream a mama.
Mad mama.
That’s Moo. She’s in the kitchen. Talking to herself. Round baby face. Frizzy red hair. Big baggy belly. Razor lips.
Gonna cut off my hair and keep me ugly.
Climb the stairs.
Jungle of legs. And Moo is coming and she knows my name and she’ll grab it and rip it up and I won’t even be born cause I don’t have a name.
Climb the stairs.
Crying. Echoes.
Who’s crying?
I’m naked.
Climb the stairs.
There’s a monster.
In the attic. There’s a monster in every attic but it’s better than the one in the kitchen that’s mumbling Love me! Say thank you! Answer me!
I want my sisters.
No sisters in the attic. Just the Sphinx.
The monster is the Sphinx and the Sphinx is a riddler and the riddle is Who?
Who are you???
Doll disappears. Clown in the flashlight beam.
I wanna go home.
Voice of the Gambler:
Well you can’t. There isn’t any.
Black. Sound of heavy breathing.
Who’s that? ... Is that you? ... Liza? ... It is. ... I don’t need you now. ... I’m ok. ... I’m fine. I think I just need ... not as many sisters.
Lights. Liza the Gambler, high on the stepladder.
So come on up here. You’re scared. So what? Be scared. Win, lose, no big deal. You win, you keep playing the game. You lose, that’s it. Worst thing that happens, you die, then all your problems are solved. I call that looking on the bright side. Let’s play the game.
Pause. Brings the nose to her face. Other hand slaps it away.
Enough with the nose. I had one, lost it in a game of blackjack. You play, you play it bare-faced.
I don’t know how.
Sure you do. Put down some cards, pick up some cards, let the universe decide. I bid two no trump, stand pat, snake eyes, pawn to queen seven. See the trick is even knowing what game you’re playing. Damn. I won.
You won?
Winning just means taking longer to lose. What do you win? You win the chance to keep playing the game. We’re not playing for bottle caps, baby.
Now you play. You’re a big girl now. It’s a matter of will. Pull the will over your own eyes.
Clown attempts to play cards. Other hand snatches the cards away.
You’re no fun. You take it too serious. It gives you hives or asthma or diarrhea. No fun playing with someone who’s itching or wheezing or shitting. Play your cards.
Let me alone.
Listen, sweetheart, I only come when I’m invited.
I just want a nice place to live.
I come when I’m invited. You call me every day, twice, three times a day, Liza this, Liza that. Phone, email, fax, cosmic vibrations. I scare you, yeh. But you would be so scared without me. When I deliver a hit, you feel it. You could be an addict. You got the gift. Play your cards.
I don’t want to lose.
Losing is better than winning. It’s a rush. Call and raise ten! Play your fucking cards!
It’s too far down!
Every day you risk. You get up outa bed. You cross the street. You take your pills. You fall in love. You walk past geese in the park never knowing what their plans are. You believe there’s a safety net. You believe a piece of paper is a dollar, and your dollar will always be faithful because it loves you. You risk being humiliated by street performers. You risk that your toilet will not become voracious. You risk the Last Judgment might pre-empt the Super Bowl. You risk that this brisket of beef might be your first-born son.
It’s a long way down. Best way to get there is . . . fast. Before you have second thoughts.
It’s suicide.
Suicide? . . . It brings on many changes. . . What is that first line. . . Suicide is. . . Yeh, suicide. Obviously I never succeeded. I have more than flirted with it. I have, as they used to say, engaged in heavy petting. Yeh. . .
Your problem is you want to stay alive.
I don’t want to die.
How do you know if you’ve never tried it? I say lose big. Like an aneurism. The odds are long on an aneurism, but man, you blow it. You just blow it and you are so dead so fast.
Whereas these guys with cancers, or Parkinson’s, Tay-Sachs, Alzheimers, diseases that sound like grocery stores, the doctors keep milking’em, hooked up like a bloated cow at a dairy farm.
Yeh, I play against myself. Playing against the odds, against this fucking world that is so vicious and vile and ruthless, it makes a hell of an opponent when its teeth and claws come out and you are shredded cabbage. Read the cards, read the signs, read the Bible, read the comic books. As far as human beings, God shoulda stopped at the slug.
I’d be just as happy if I sat in a small dark cell and bet who was gonna die first. I’d think, how like life.
I’ve thought about it. But I thought, no. I just want my house. And my sisters, even who they are. And my nose.
Your nose is on the table. High stakes. Play your cards.
Ahhh . . . Three, please. . . . Pass. . . . Call. . . . Full house.
Black. Sounds. Lights. Clown stands at foot of ladder.
One draw of the cards. I don’t get to be dead. That’s life.
I don’t think my sisters are doing me that much good. These family reunions are too crowded. Kill’em all off. Keep the snapshots.
Starts building. Voices of the sisters as she works:
It is not for me to speculate why our parents chose to name seven daughters Elizabeth, but after exhausting Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Beth, Bessie—
Who? Me?
Walk through the rooms, brighter, brighter. Rooms full of dreams, all free. Rooms lit by—
West. West? Yeh West.
West, the sun pours in there, wall it up, and for heaven’s sakes no—
Plants, cats, chandelier. . .
Huge chandelier, with light from beeswax candles, we’ll keep bees and make beeswax—
Plumbing pipes.
But I say this: Your pipes clog up you better put a zipper on your—
Framework of plastic pipes. I think you’d better rethink your philosophy of—
Clown and a klutz and if you lay one finger on that you will void the—
People of Darfur, of Bangladesh, of Sudan, Chiapas, Bosnia, Afghanistan, the Congo—
I’m scared.
Scared. So what? Be scared. Win, lose, no big deal. Worst thing that happens, you—
Join hands and sing our blessings. It’s a huge moment in human—
Cost? For me to win those medals thinking I was going to vomit except I wasn’t because there wasn’t anything—
She cried she cried she cried.
She cried. She pretended to cry. She’d turn all red and her nose would be all snot, and tears and tears and tears, but what did she have worth—
Shopping for.
It’s a long way down. Best way to get there is . . . fast. Before you have second—
Losing is better than winning. It’s a rush. Call and raise ten! Play your fucking—
And through the fog we see the herd of—
Basic survival skills: keep your pants on—
Keep your pants on.
I’m talking about the ground fault—
I’m talking about the ground fault—
I’m talking about the ground fault—
I’m talking about the ground fault—
I dream it for you, sister. Dream you a—
Abrupt halt. Clown surveys her work. It’s a wild, haphazard construction. Clown looks front.
My Dream House.
Good side is, if it’s hit by a bomb, it won’t show.
Not quite what I had in mind.
Call my sisters? No. Except. . .
There’s Lizzie.
Lizzie. I don’t see her much. I keep losing her number. She doesn’t call. She doesn’t get along with the others. I like her.
Just have to be careful. She’s the scary one.
Very hesitantly, she costumes herself. Music. She takes off her nose, becomes Lizzie the Slut.
I’m you. She’s me. Who am I?
You’re Lizzie the All-Purpose Slut. Almost. Something kinda weird.
You’ve got kinda mixed feelings about this, huh?
But maybe us two oughta hang out a little. Because . . . don’t you like chocolate?
Don’t you like bittersweet? Maybe with hazelnut, cherry, or orange peel dipped in chocolate, there’s a word for that: enrobing. In a chocolate factory you saw the enrobing room, remember? Made you want to strip . . . and get enrobed.
She tastes her finger.
Who you really are, honey? One of the last remaining voluptuaries. That’s you to the core.
You love to dance, you love clothes that have texture, velvets, satins, embroidery, fringe.
Food, you adore food, the juice, the tang, the smell, the bite, the fullness. . .
Another finger.
Great parties. Good things to drink and eat, music, dancing, deep talk, flirtation, sparks, chemistry, you’re one of the candle flames, a great old wine or a really good stinky cheese.
Another finger.
Sex. You are a celebrant, a priestess of appreciation. By nature a total slut, an absolute walking wa-hoo.
You love the big bang, it’s great, but that’s just the anchovy on the pizza.
It’s the buzz, the maybe, the tilting, the yes. And they’re running their hand across you, and you feel how good you feel. Feel how round, how soft, how tough, how gooshy, how you taste.
You come to the sea. That’s your mama. That’s who you slipped out of, baby. She growls, she roars, then dissolves into lace. Oh, taste her lips.
Changed tone:
Who’s Elizabeth? Who’s the sister and who’s the you? Who’s getting older now? Who gets freaked by the military pharmaceutical complex?
Who looms in the mirror? Who’s finding her face at the very moment she’s dissolving?
Grass, and the stars are so bright, I’m hanging on so I won’t fall off the earth. Oh Mama, hold me. That’s what gravity is, it’s love, it’s Mama hanging on. Hold me.
Hold who? Who’s at the core?
I was dancing. I was barefoot, I had a long scarf and long floaty skirt, and a very slithery top. I was so carried away by the music I made a really clumsy step on a piece of my—
And I just went tail over teakettle. And this slithery shirt flopped completely inside out and hanging off my wrists, and here I am topless, my skirt half down my butt, my feet in the air.
And I just howled. I laughed till I almost peed myself. So who’s at the core of that laughing fool?
As Clown:
Who is?
What does she do?
She takes her clothes off.
To see who’s there.
You get naked to have a baby.
Oh. Ok.
She looks around, then starts to take off her clothes. The nose remains. Music. Voices of the sisters:
She’s really doing that.
She’s taking off her clothes.
How far?
Oh God.
I don’t believe that’s legal without a permit. I believe you need a permit.
Well it’s really crass.
She’s doing the hoochie-koochie.
I suppose she’s trying to prove something.
I suppose she thinks she’s daring.
I suppose she thinks that’s cute.
This isn’t the Sixties, for heaven’s sakes.
Is that supposed to shock us?
She thinks she’s back in the old days where they look at your tits. But everybody’s got tits now, even guys, so what’s the big deal?
She doesn’t really have anything to show off, you know.
What if children saw that?
Is she that desperate for attention?
A professional dancer knows how to take her clothes off, but ordinary people don’t know how to take their clothes off, it takes a professional.
She wants freedom, but freedom is five feet ten with dark curly hair and slender, much larger breasts, with a serpent tattoo up the thigh and circling around the pubis which is shaved but veiled, that’s freedom.
Isn’t she courageous given how she looks?
She takes the nose off. Lights glare.
Your knees are knobby, your knuckles are lumpy, your feet are flat.
Big butt, thick ankles, sway back, shoulders hunched.
Skin spots. Moles. Five pounds around the waist.
It’s so realistic.
You don’t even have a tan.
Just stand there like a cow?
Nude is beautiful but naked is ugly.
There’s no mystery left.
You are violating people’s privacy.
You look as if you’re about to cry.
You look like you want to hide.
You are making a very confused political statement.
You are making a total fool of yourself.
Do something exciting! Piss! Bleed!
You’ll get blisters. You’ll pick up fibers.
You’ll get abrasions.
Nice people shave their armpits.
You’re obviously embarrassed.
You’re old.
You’re too old to be naked.
You’re an embarrassment.
You’re self-indulgent.
You’re a fake.
Grow up.
Act your age.
It’s invasive.
It’s stupid.
It’s pure self-loathing.
It’s unaesthetic.
It’s inexcusable.
It’s masturbation.
It’s silly.
It’s idiotic.
It’s disgusting.
It’s pathetic.
It’s all been done before.
Black. Sound of her laughter. Lights. She is covered. She touches her body. She picks up Lizzie’s wig, then lets it fall.
Sound of tiny baby crying.
My nose. It’s cold. I’ll make it a nest.
She takes off her wig. Makes a nest of the wig, puts the nose in it. Discovers her hair.
Looks at the structure.
Need to make this fit.
Music. She shifts the structures into a humanoid form.
We need skin.
Draws fabric over it.
The dance
The juice
The light
The fullness
The flame
The buzz the tilting the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes
Taste her lips
Oh mama
The yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes the yes. . .
Lights change: many colors. The construction forms a huge, gawky but elegant figure of an up-reaching human creature, its eyes—holes in a sink unit—glowing. She picks up the wig that contains the nose.
How you doing?
She unwraps it. It’s a small plant in a red pot.
Ok, so bloom.
She spins on the stool. Fade.