Monologue for a man 20's-60,
from the one act play Happy Hour
(free for students & auditions)
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2003
JAY recounts his misery as a frustrated literary manager trying
to operate within an utterly screwed-up system--- and how he's
JAY: Thing is, any fool can write a play. And as I learned
the hard way through stupefying experience, only fools do! Normals
get out and work at something sane!
Once upon a time, I was a LORT theatre's literary manager. My
job was to read the slush pile. Unsolicited scripts. And at first
I did. Oh, my God. I can't describe the boredom. The mind-numbing
nerve-shattering unadulterated boredom. How can writers string
together every behavioral or verbal cliche known to mankind and
still not hit on a plot? Or-- even just by accident-- a character?
As for what passed for ideas! From this mountain of tedium I would
dutifully extract the one tenth of one percent of scripts that
showed even a glimmer of promise, and dump them into what our
Artistic Director optimistically called"Development."
Development!? Give me a break! There are two sorts of playwright
circulating the System: the My Words Are From Mt. Sinai and Engraved
In Stone assholes and the Please Somebody Tell Me What I Should
Write wimps-- and neither of them can be"developed"
any more than a prune pit can grow into a pine tree. The System's
utterly screwed. There's always a System: anytime you have two
factors-- one, somebody's pouring in money; and two, nobody really
gives a shit. The money is for Development, not for plays-- so
Development is what you get. How long should it take a writer
to figure out he's never going to get a production? A month? A
year? Five? But they never learn Now. Listen to this.
(dials phone number).
The demonstration. He'll be there. Sitting by the phone, waiting.
Writers can't help it, attention is like catnip. (phone is
answered) Ken? It's Jay Bailey here. How you doing? ............
Oh, I'm fine, too. Better-- I'm really in a kind of glow, here.
My board was really really positive about your play. Your writing
impressed the hell out of them.......... Yeah, we do. Really!........
Unfortunately we won't be able to, though. At least not next season.
But I do want to hang on to it. See, right now we just don't have
anybody in our casting pool who could do it justice. ....... Yeah,
for Allison. I mean, what would an actress who could play Allison
be doing here in Roanoke? But we do have somebody great who'd
like to work with us........ Not just a good actor-- a killer
draw. If we could find this guy the right vehicle, we'd have to
beat off his fans with sticks. It occurred to me that maybe you
might have something, something else, that.... Older guy, semiretired.
Big in made-for-TV flicks in the early nineties, but good. Made
his chops early with Pinter and Shakespeare.......... No. I can't
say his name. You understand. ......... Cause his f-ing agent
doesn't know he's looking to do an f-ing play! Out in the sticks,
yet! Even if you don't watch TV, you'd know this guy. He's a household
word! Thing is, you got a play with a part for him? Strong, charismatic,
versatile-- a guy who could do The Scottish Play, or Tyrone in
Long Day's Journey? ....... Great! Pack 'em up and get em to me.
Attention Jay. You've got our PO Box, right? ...... Terrific!
I can't wait. If he likes your script, we're golden, Ken. Gotta
go now-- there's a VIP heading into my office. (hangs up)
See? Like candy from a baby. Ken'll send along another signed
cover letter, carefully worded to sound sane and important yet
modest and friendly. He's hooked. Probably send three scripts--
Overnight Express! From a fool who'll believe anything-- 'cause
believe is what he does best.