A Full Length Play
GRANNY WEARS COMBAT BOOTS
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2013
CHARACTERS (all age 60 or older)
RONA – a charming cheerful retired librarian. She never married, but has led a full and active life at work and in the community. However, she is now having a series of almost imperceptible strokes resulting in disorientation and some damage to her memory.
VERONICA – a reclusive, depressed intellectual; a constant reader who met Rona years ago at the local library where they bonded over books. Veronica survived, barely, the illness and death of both her husband and her only child, supporting herself through a series of ill-paid boring jobs until she retired on Social Security.
EMMA – a red-diaper baby who has worked her whole life as a labor organizer and volunteer for progressive causes. Emma's 3 children are all in "helping professions" and have given her 5 grandkids. She is a practical optimist and a natural leader.
JOY – mother of 4, grandma to 6, Joy worked from a home office in her husband's plumbing contracting business. Joy has always been active in the community, but before The Grannies she mostly connected with "safe" do-gooding like the Food Pantry and the Parents & Teachers Association. Joy and Emma have been friends for many years.
BOB – a "great guy" and Joy's "model husband". Raised traditionally as the cherished only son of parents with a happy marriage, Bob's work out of his own home and in partnership with Joy has brought him great satisfaction. Bob is comfortable around women and secure enough to allow them to lead.
DOLORES – coffee colored, elegant, and faintly exotic, Dolores is free with comments and criticism but reticent when it comes to her own personal life and history. She seems to have hard-won knowledge and bitter experience that she is reluctant to share.
AMY – a devout member of a small congregation of traditionally pacifist Christians, Amy works hard for church, community, and family. She finds great satisfaction in service, and looks for the good in others. She loves to sing, but is modest about her own abilities.
HELEN – a warm and friendly do-gooder who is a substitute school teacher and a part-time Merry Prankster. She joins the group mid-play, and may be doubled by RONA if the actress is skillful enough that the doubling will pass undetected.
PLACE: A progressive suburb in a Blue state, USA. TIME: the recent past or near future.
SET: Most of the scenes take place at Bob and Joy's house, but the set cannot be naturalistic: scenes must shift seamlessly to various locations, from a performance venue to Rona’s apartment and the waiting area outside Rona’s hospital room.
SCENE ONE: Granny-Action on a street. Emma and Joy are holding political signs including "Honk if you want them home!", and singing to the tune of "God Bless America")
God, help America! Turn us away / From the greedy, who are leading /
All of us to go bust every day.
What with torturing, and outsourcing. And invading foreign soil /
God help America, trading blood for oil!
God forgive America, trading blood for oil.
Encouraging honks from car horns and shouts from a crowd: "Go Grannies Go! You tell ’em! Beat back the Repuglocrats!" etc. Emma and Joy wave their signs and give the thumbs up gesture to passing motorists. Emma thumbs her nose at the heckler who shouts: "Shut up, you old bags! You should’ve never got the vote, you’re too ignorant!"
Bob enters, iPhone in hand
BOB Got it! I think it's good enough.
JOY Let me hear it. (recording plays) That's awful! We sound awful. Why do we do this? You know I just howl out of tune. Tell me this is Not going up on YouTube!
BOB The wrong notes are part of the charm.
EMMA You really take a great picture, Joy. It's impossible to watch you without smiling.
JOY As long as the sound's off! I'm supposed to just mouth the words. You know that's what my daughter makes me do? When we go Christmas caroling? If I make any noise, Becca elbows me in the ribs to shut me up. I've asked Rona to do the same, 'cause I can't trust you to save me. Why isn't Rona here? This isn't the night she's a literacy tutor, is it?
EMMA Rona does that on Tuesday. We wouldn't have scheduled this if she hadn't said she would come. Rona or Dolores are the only singers we have who are strong enough to-- .
JOY Drown me out.
EMMA I was going to say--
JOY Something more tactful. Like, "overcome the distractions of traffic" or….
EMMA Or something. The Granny point is that if something is important to everybody, it's too important to be left to professionals. We don't want to sound too good.
JOY I don't think that's ever going to be a worry. Only 1 out of 3 of us can actually sing--
EMMA To be honest, more like 2 out of 20. You needn't feel singled out--
JOY Come on! You're not bad, and Amy's actually good!
EMMA There is Amy. But she'll never stand on a corner with you and me, carrying a rude sign.
JOY Thank God for Rona.
BOB It's not like Rona to say she'll come and not show up.
JOY She was looking sort of -- pale? -- last meeting. You know what I mean?
EMMA Pale and wan.
JOY I hope she's all right.
BOB Did you call her?
EMMA Today? Yes. I left voice mail.
JOY One of us should have called earlier. She didn't look good.
EMMA Pale and wan.
SCENE TWO: The Entrance Area Of Rona’s Apartment
(RONA is dressed to go out, but is slumped in a chair, unconscious or sleeping. A hairbrush is in her limp hand, her huge carpetbag at her side. VERONICA is outside, alternately ringing the doorbell and knocking, calling.)
VERONICA Rona! Rona, are you in there?
(RONA wakes slowly, staring as if confused about where she is and what is happening. She looks at the hairbrush as if it is a clue.)
VERONICA It’s Veronica. Can you let me in?
RONA Will you give me a minute, please? I seem to be–
VERONICA Should I call 911?
RONA No. No! I’m fine. The dizziness is going away. If I can open the door–
VERONICA(comes in) It's open. You look surprised.
RONA I must have fallen asleep. I thought you might be–
VERONICA Might be who?
RONA I must have had a nightmare. (rummages through bag, looks at date book, puzzled) What day is it?
VERONICA Friday. Friday the thirteenth, in fact.
RONA And the time? My watch. Seems to have stopped?
VERONICA (takes Rona’s watch) The reset button. I can fix it. There: ten minutes after twelve. Am I too early?
RONA I'm sure you're right on time. I just wish– It doesn't matter. I don’t hurt anywhere --at least not anywhere unusual. The sun is shining. You've brought me something Italian?
VERONICA Lasagna. But -- did you get bad news from your doctor?
RONA My– my tests weren't good. He wants me at the hospital tomorrow at 3. They're going to keep me overnight. So there's something– something I'd like you to do for me.
VERONICA Of course– if I can. What is it?
RONA Something– Just give me a minute. You still sing in the community chorus? (Looks at her notes in her datebook. Frowns, turns the page forward, then back.)
VERONICA Uh huh. I missed the last concert, but I’m rehearsing–
RONA Sub for me with the Grannies. Please? Rehearse at 4, sing in my place at 7 tomorrow night. You'd be back in time for that PBS show you like.
VERONICA I wish I could, Rona! You know my phobias: strangers and--
RONA Please, Veronica! This group is so important to me. I never felt I could work for what I believe in while I was a government employee--
VERONICA But you faced down the FBI over the library's borrowing records-
RONA That was as a professional. Retired, and with the Grannies, I can be utterly unprofessional, which is so invigorating! You, who sing real music, with an orchestra--
VERONICA 100 of us, anonymous in black, with a score in front of my face.
RONA You can be anonymous-- or pretend to be me. Sub rosa to sub for Rona.
VERONICA Impersonate a grandma? I'd feel like an impostor -- though technically, I might qualify.
RONA You’ve never mentioned grandchildren–
VERONICA One grandchild: whom I haven’t seen since he was six months old. I’ll tell you about him some day, if you like. Not now, though. Rona, I'd do anything for you. But this--
RONA Half our Gaggle can’t be there, and Emma was going to cancel. I said, "Do it with five". I talked Emma into it. Now leave her stranded? Please-- I know it's silly, making a fool of yourself–
VERONICA I don't mind silly, but I'm terrified! Look, I've started to shake just thinking of it... Can't you think of anyone? You've so many friends.
RONA Half of my friends can't sing, and other half can't walk. If you won't, I'll have to skip the doctor.
VERONICA Your health comes first, Rona. The Grannies will understand.
RONA It'd prey on my mind in the hospital. Anxiety's bad for my blood pressure. I'm supposed to hold up a piggy toe picture– the last little piggy, number five– (VERONICA laughs) Please. I wouldn’t be able to rest easy, knowing Emma needs five piggies and I’m not there to go "wee, wee, wee".
VERONICA That’ll be me? Going "wee, wee, wee"?
RONA It's simple. Like reading a story in the children's room.
VERONICA They're not children! There will be activists and hecklers and reporters and cameras and FBI spies and maybe even somebody who knows me; I can't!
RONA Very well. If you can't, you can't. (begins to cry)
VERONICA Rona, are you crying?
RONA It doesn't matter. Sound and fury, signifying nothing. Thank you for the lasagna. I'll see you tomorrow. (turns away)
VERONICA All right, all right. (embraces Rona) I'll do it.
RONA Oh, bless you! You’ll like the Grannies: you will. Amy's religion is a bit much, and Dolores is– … Well, difficult. But maybe for you a kindred spirit? Take my Granny bag. (indicates) Directions and the music. Bonnet and shawl.
VERONICA What all is in here? It weighs a ton!
RONA There’s an itemized list in the outside pocket.
VERONICA What is this? A green ham sandwich?!?
RONA It can’t be! I never–!
VERONICA Looks like your handwriting.
RONA I swear, I've never seen that– that disgusting sandwich-thing– before.
VERONICA Life's little mysteries. Don't worry, Rona. I’ve got your bag, I’ve got your back. You can rest easy.
SCENE THREE: Joy’s Dining Room
(Table at one side, chairs. JOY and EMMA are making pig faces for the paddle puppets they’ll use in Emma’s skit, EMMA singing a ditty she is working up, JOY repeating each phrase, somewhat out of tune: "BE A CITIZEN, NOT A CONSUMER/ DON'T FALL FOR THE SCAM OF THE BRAND!" )
BOB: (enters, holds up box of nails) What’ll you be doing with these?
JOY(demonstrates) Fastening these sticks to the pig heads.
EMMA We thought we'd use gorilla glue–
JOY For guerilla theatre–
EMMA But the glue's in Rona’s bag.
BOB I think you want to use staples.
JOY What do you think, Em?
EMMA Bob's usually right.
JOY: You all keep saying that!
EMMA If you want an honest opinion– (doorbell rings, Bob starts to go)
JOY Who are we expecting? Bob? I’ll get the door. You get the stapler. (JOY exits)
EMMA We have a stapler, Bob. (shows small one)
BOB That's for paper. You need a gun.
EMMA I'm against guns. Beat ’em into plowshares.
BOB A staple gun isn't really–
EMMA I know! I’m just pulling your chain.
BOB You don't fool me, Machiavelli.
EMMA (batting eyelashes) Why, sir! Lil' ol' me?
(JOY enters with VERONICA.)
JOY Veronica, this is my husband Bob, and the shameless hussy who is flirting with him is Emma. (to BOB) Veronica is Rona’s friend.
BOB Emma wasn't really flirting–
EMMA Of course I was! If a woman has a terrific husband, shower him with positive reinforcement.
BOB When they come out with stuff like that, they call it "Gaggle Rules"! If you’ll excuse me, I’m going down cellar to get a gun. (starts to exit)
VERONICA To What?!
JOY Get a staple gun. (Southern Belle giggles) Cause we-all'd never be able to find it on his big 'ol manly workbench.
BOB (to VERONICA) These gals ought to call themselves a Giggle, not a Gaggle. (BOB exits. JOY and EMMA laugh)
JOY You can change the Gaggle Rules if you want. We’re democratic.
VERONICA I'm not really up to this. First of all, I'm not a grandma.
EMMA "Granny" is a function, not biology. You've gotta be old, though! Human brains evolved when some women lived long enough to develop experience-based long term thinking. They teach and protect the kids while their mothers are out foraging.
VERONICA My grandmother was a selfish bi- -. Almost a monster.
EMMA Right! Angel, monster, or just fade away. A long journey, step by step to those 3 destinations.
VERONICA I'm afraid I'm a fader. Painfully shy, and not at all involved in politics.
JOY If you're Rona's friend, she sent you because you're right for us.
VERONICA She's friends with everyone, always helping--
JOY Always helping, yes. But her real friends are a select few. You have to be--? (looks to Emma)
EMMA Wide or deep. Her political friends are all wide: fireballs, out fighting for change. You say you're not: so you must be one of the deep ones. Literary. Musical.
JOY We really need Musical.
EMMA Let's just trust Rona, shall we? We've got a lot to do today.
VERONICA I hope I'm not too late. I had some trouble finding the house–
JOY Late? Rehearsal's not for another hour.
VERONICA You rehearse at 5:30? To perform at 7?
EMMA We'll run the choreography twice, then practice the songs in the van while Bob is driving us over.
JOY It's lucky you're early, though. We can use the help.
EMMA Making piggy paddle puppets. But we– uh– Can you draw?
VERONICA Not really.
JOY Turns out I’m terrible at drawing. Emma, too.
EMMA You'd think in any group at least one would be able to draw!
JOY I can't sing or write, either. Joy the Talentless.
EMMA You've got soul, Joy. You inspire us.
BOB (enters) Your staple gun, ladies. (offers it with a bow)
EMMA (grabs "gun" and points) Up against the wall, muthas!
JOY (laughs, takes stapler) You are so naughty, Em!
EMMA While your Bobby is so good! (to BOB) Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou!
JOY And he’s all mine. (BOB waves at VERONICA, exits)
JOY( to VERONICA) Don’t mind us. We go way back.
EMMA To the Protozoic. Veronica? Do you think you could outline the head in black and do something with the eyes? While we're cutting out the rest.
VERONICA I could try.
EMMA I’m the first little piggy: The Disaster Capitalist that went to market.
JOY I’m the fourth: the American Worker– the piggy that had none.
EMMA You're Rona's stand-in– so the last piggy, right?
JOY You go, "Wee wee wee– Wee wee wee–" (VERONICA joins last wees)
EMMA I want my pig to have a top hat and a piggy bank.
JOY But when we draw on a hat, it doesn’t look like a pig.
VERONICA What if the snout were more like this?
(demonstrates change with pencil)
EMMA Much better! Here’s a brush. Black paint's in the black jar.
VERONICA Do I wear this apron?
EMMA (shouts) No! (takes apron away from VERONICA) That’s a costume!
VERONICA Aren't costumes a hat and a shawl? Rona said--
EMMA Shawls fall off when we do choreography.
JOY So we bought aprons. Kept here because I’m the one with an iron.
EMMA I gave my iron away in 1974.
VERONICA Do you have a non-costume apron? For work?
JOY Us? Never! Well, I did have a joke apron, once. It said "a woman’s place is on the tennis court." When I got bad knees and quit tennis, Bob started wearing it when he cooked. But people took the apron to mean, Bob ordered me to stay out of the kitchen! Like, "Go play on the tennis court, woman! I'm the chef!" So we got rid of that one, too.
EMMA Nobody I know wears aprons. Who wants to look like a Granny for real?
VERONICA Not to cook?
EMMA Nobody I know cooks!
JOY I cook! But I wear an old tee shirt, like for scrubbing the toilet.
VERONICA No apron. I’ll get more paint on my clothes than on the pig.
EMMA Paint naked and take a shower. (VERONICA looks startled)
JOY She's kidding! Emma: go easy on the jokes till Veronica gets to know us.
EMMA We never even introduced! Sorry. (shaking hands) My name’s Emma Goldman Winckler White, and I’m a career agitator. Organizing and protesting since I was a kid. You name it, I've been against it.
VERONICA Is there anything you're for? (begins painting)
EMMA I’m for fewer career agitators. We need amateurs, like you and Rona.
VERONICA When I was in my twenties, I helped desegregate Kansas City. And I marched against Vietnam– for a while.
EMMA Welcome back!
VERONICA I’m not back. This is just one time, for Rona.
JOY I love Rona. I hope she's all right?
VERONICA She says she is.
JOY Rona’s like me: accentuate the positive.
EMMA (sings) "Elim-i-nate the negative.."
VERONICA I was surprised to learn Rona has no family. All those friends, of course, but apparently not close friends....
JOY I think she was very close to her sister.
VERONICA Who died last year. (Pause. They look at each other)
JOY You brought Rona's bag. Mind if I fish out a lozenge? I've got a tickle in my throat. (gets lozenge)
EMMA Rona and her magic potions!
JOY Rona’s a kick-ass reference librarian. She checks the tests on her every recommendation.
VERONICA You may change your opinion, once you hear me audition–
EMMA Sing "My Country 'tis of Thee."
VERONICA I beg your pardon?
EMMA Sing "My Country 'tis of Thee." Audition.
VERONICA (sings) "My Country 'tis of Thee (Bob enters, smiles)
Sweet Land of Liberty/ Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died–" (Bob applauds)
EMMA You're in. Too good for us, really, but we fight with the army we've got. You take #5 paddle pig and stand on the audience right, your left. When we get to the line about the last little piggy, you hold up the paddle– hold it up! And you squeal "wee, wee, wee!" as loud as you can. Ready? (Bob waves and exits)
EMMA and (tone deaf) JOY "little piggy had none. And the last little piggy went-"
VERONICA "Wee, wee, wee!"
EMMA & JOY "All the way Home!"
EMMA I now pronounce you "rehearsed."
VERONICA But I'm not--
EMMA You'll be fine. Granny philosophy is not to sound polished. Nobody should doubt that they can do it better themselves. After the skit, I'm going to do a roving mic.
JOY Invite someone in the crowd to voice an opinion.
EMMA Anyone who does has taken the first step on the road to activism.
JOY But Emma wants to start by talking about Harriet Nahanee! Tell her it's a bad idea. (They return to their work on the pig paddle puppets.)
VERONICA Harriet who?
JOY That's my point!
EMMA Harriet Nahanee. A Granny who died in jail, while serving a sentence for stopping the bulldozers.
VERONICA Bulldozers? Is this in Israel?
EMMA Canada. Defending the nature reserve.
VERONICA I’ve never heard of–
JOY Nobody's heard! Canada’s the bore next door. Stick to what people around here are mad about, and show them how they can come together to fix it, I say. Never mind Granny martyrs.
VERONICA Grannies have Martyrs?
EMMA Maybe-- three?
JOY Martyrs aren't the point! They could have been hit by a bus. Positive connections, power for ordinary people– that's us.
VERONICA Whew! I was flashing on the photos of that Muslim grandma, the one with the 3 martyred sons who blew herself up? –
(AMY and DOLORES ring the bell and come in.)
AMY Joy? We decided to come early.
DOLORES Amy wants extra rehearsal. I suspect mainly to get away from her family. But if there's a chance we'll be less bad, I'm all in favor–
AMY(gestures at VERONICA) You're new! You're the new one.
JOY Rona's friend. Veronica, this is Amy. And Dolores.
AMY Wonderful! Welcome to the Grans. Emma! Wait till you see what I brought! Barbara made a recording of the Piggy music, so we can practice the moves. Plus there's 6 other ditties on here– including the two we're doing tonight! So much easier to stay on pitch!
EMMA But Amy! We won't have a keyboard tonight, and who knows what for a sound system. We should rehearse as we'll perform, without crutches–
AMY At our age, why shouldn't we have crutches? Walkers, even?
DOLORES It might be a good thing, Emma. Or at least better–
AMY I know you have problems with Barbara. I do, too. She's so rich! But–
EMMA I'm fine with Barbara! Barbara's smart and energetic. I'm sorry she has a problem with me, but I'd never be against something because it was Barbara's idea–
AMY So can we try it? Since we've extra time?
EMMA The paddle puppets aren't ready.
VERONICA Close, though. I'm on the second to last–
AMY We can hold up empty sticks. Please? I'm dying to try–
JOY If the recording makes it easier for me to hear the tune–
DOLORES That's three "yes" votes, Emma. We’re a Democracy.
VERONICA Four, if I get to vote.
EMMA All right. Gaggle rules.
AMY Let's go, top of the chorus! Piggy places! You know where to stand?
VERONICA Audience right, my left.
(They line up, some with completed puppets, some without. Each has a sign to hang around her neck identifying a political figure identified with each pig. Each has gestures/movements to indicate the figure's characteristic that is being mocked. VERONICA is surprised at who she "is"– and a bit panicked when she realizes that she's supposed to have a movement to go with her "wee wee wee.")
(sing) This little piggy went to market Hail, the market! (CAPITALIST)
This little piggy went home. Goodbye, children! (UNEMPLOYED TEACHER)
This little piggy had roast beef (rude noise) Oink, oink! (TRUMP)
& This little piggy had none (whimper) Poor me. ( TEMP WORKER)
& This little piggy went "wee wee wee" all the way home! (SOLDIER)
(shout) Go home! Come home! Take back our Home--- now!
SCENE FOUR: The Grannies in Performance
Begins in black with the faded-in crowd sounds and then the sound of a Granny ditty. [tune My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean]
Where are we going with leaders/ Who ought to be going to jail?
Why do we fight in the desert? / We'd be better off if we fail!
Who is it set this agenda? / What are they trying to do?
I think they've stolen our country/
They'll own the whole Globe when they're through!
(chorus:) Yes, we are singing/ This nasty song
Hope's what we're bringing/ So sing along!
Your Granny’s angry / At the mess they've made.
Let's right these wrongs!/ Join our parade! (applause & cheers)
(In the dark the Grannies get into costume, and get paddle puppets for the Piggy skit. When the lights come up the theatre audience sees them performing "The Little Piggies" for the rally crowd from an off-angle when "on stage", but can also see them "backstage"– behind a black masking curtain– when waiting for an entrance or watching and commenting while Emma talks to the rally crowd. The crowd people who speak can pre-recorded, along with crowd noise, applause, cheers. The crowd sound levels should fade behind the Granny voices so that it is clear that the backstage action is meant to be the focus of the theatre audience’s attention.)
ANNOUNCER Now, people: give it up for the Grannies and The Little Piggies! (applause)
(GRANNIES take their places and perform the routine)
(sing) This little piggy went to market. Hail, the market! (CAPITALIST)
This little piggy went home! Goodbye, children! (UNEMPLOYED TEACHER) This little piggy had roast beef (rude noise) Oink, oink! (TRUMP)
& This little piggy had none (whimper) Poor me. ( TEMP WORKER)
& This little piggy went "wee wee wee" all the way home! ( SOLDIER)
(shout) Go home! Come home! Take back our Home--- now!
(cheers and applause as the Grannies file off stage)
ALL BACK STAGE (Ad. lib.) We did it! Shh! Emma's speaking.
EMMA ON MIC ON STAGE Hi! I'm Granny Emma, and I want to ask you: How many of you are afraid of being out of a job? (crowd noise) Medically bankrupt? Losing your house? Afraid you have an FBI file and you can be locked up as an enemy of the State? (crowd noise) Like one of "those crazy hippies" who blocked the doors to the criminal banks?
AMY: Good for you, Veronica! You're practically a pro!
EMMA Well, get over it! I was there in 1960. I hung out with hippies because the "respectable …
ALL Ad lib, hugging VERONICA & putting away the pig-skit props).
EMMA .... adults" were talking gibberish. The hippies I knew weren't crazy– at least not to start out. They were serious enough to recognize delusion. Vietnam was insane.
DOLORES: You weren't scared at all.
VERONICA: Oh yes I was!
EMMA Like what's happening now! America's 60-year effort to secure a cheap oil supply has stopped working.
AMY: Well, it didn't show.
JOY: Rona would be proud of you.
VERONICA: You're very kind.
EMMA We bring down elected governments– then complain that Muslims are Islamofascists!
DOLORES: We’re trying to butter you up and get you to stay.
JOY: At least come back to my house after the show.
EMMA Frankly, we're once again in a time when being serious means you recognize delusion. Can we start to turn things around?
(ALL join applauding and cheering.)
AMY: Please do. I feel we should be friends..
JOY: Listen to that crowd! Emma's got 'em!
EMMA Cause we're the ones who have to do it. Our elected "leaders" are all on the lobbyists' payroll. It's turn it around or go crazy. What do you think, people? Try to keep your comments to under a minute– Hands up!
(Emma disappears into rally audience)
VOICE FROM AUDIENCE SPEAKER #1: (recorded audio.) Over here! What happened to the Democrats? Afraid they're wiretapped? Making shady deals? Well, I say– let the chips fall where they may! Everybody, tell the truth...
DOLORES: Like that's going to happen!
VOICE FROM AUDIENCE SPEAKER #1: No one living on this earth is perfect. To learn from our mistakes we've got to admit them. Our country has gotten so used to liars that when someone's truthful they get accused of flip-flopping. But it's time to insist on the truth. Our side too! (applause)
EMMA Anyone else have something to say?
AUDIENCE SPEAKER #2, HELEN: I'm Helen. I got the notion I'd go to Baghdad to see the war for myself– and report on it. Yeah! I actually went! My local weekly got me a press pass.
JOY: Wow! She's either a total nut, or my hero.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER #2, HELEN Problem is, I couldn't get much of the story, 'cause they wouldn't let me out of the Green Zone! Still, some Iraqis spoke English– especially women–
VERONICA: She looks to be sixty.
AUDIENCE SPEAKER #2, HELEN ….. and they told me terrible things that Americans never hear.
JOY: What if we could get her to join us?
DOLORES: Hell, we should join her!
AUDIENCE SPEAKER #2, HELEN I had lunch in the cafeteria one day: the next day it was bombed! Suddenly I felt it was time to go home and see my grandchildren. The weekly printed all my stuff– but it’s really small. I just want to tell you– tell everybody I can. We don't belong in countries we don't understand, hiring some Natives to be our Friends and fight the Natives who are our Enemies! (crowd applause)
JOY: I’m going to try to recruit her!
VERONICA: Aren't we supposed to stay here?
DOLORES: If Joy does recruit that woman, Emma will love it!
EMMA You may think our rulers can only be influenced by big donors-- that's who they talk to, it's true. But you know what gets their attention? Laughter! Mockery! There's a reason Jon Stewart is the most trusted name in News! You want to laugh some more? (applause)
VERONICA: I’ve only rehearsed the songs we just did.
DOLORES: Take your word sheet on stage with you. Fake it. You'll be better than the rest if they rehearse for a year.
ANNOUNCER People, we'll bring the Grannies back. But first, Sandy Magee is going to lead you in that old Movement Anthem: If I Had a Hammer.
( crowd sings. Dolores turns down the sound on the monitor)
VERONICA: Usually crowds frighten me, but this one.. Look at them all.
DOLORES: I get choked up, too.
AMY: Sometimes when we’re singing, tears run down my cheeks. DOLORES: Old Vets with their medals and gray mustaches– young ones, from Iraq and Afghanistan..
VERONICA: All the students, so gorgeous. Like Vietnam protests, before the middle class turned on their own children.
(song ends, EMMA returns to stage)
ANNOUNCER Come on back out, Grannies! Let's give 'em a hand!
AMY (on rally stage) People! We’re got a new Granny here today, for her first time. How about welcoming her. (applause) Say something to the people, Veronica.
VERONICA I don’t really have anything–
AMY Don’t be shy. Democracy only works if we all make our voices heard.
VERONICA Well, Ummm.. I am shy. Can I let the music speak for me, please? (sings) This Granny’s angry / At the mess they’ve made.
Let’s right these wrongs!/ Join the parade!
AMY (starts singing– tune "Good Night Sweetheart") Good night ladies, (Delores joins– VERONICA frantically tries to find words )
Till we meet tomorrow (VERONICA joins– they sing harmony, sound pretty good. JOY and HELEN join in from "backstage.")
Sweet dreams ladies, dreams will ease your sorrow. (JOY looks confused: should she go onstage?)
While you’re dreaming, Grannies are up and scheming
To fight the good fight, ladies– Good night! (GRANNIES all file off.)
ANNOUNCER Give the Grannies a great big hand, folks! (applause) Now, people? Here’s Jeb Pool, Professor of Law at DI Polytech. Thanks for joining us, professor.
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL It’s great to be here, friends! You bet your butt I want my Goddamn country back! No f-ing Swat teams busting down doors and shooting grandpa, no pervert torturers locking up blacks in for-profit prisons that are Hell on earth. But this didn't happen overnight. ….
AMY: Joy! You found her!
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL The corporate takeover got rolling in the early 70’s, when Texas oil men financed a drive to take over the Republican party.
JOY: This is Helen. I think she’s going to join us.
EMMA: That’s wonderful!
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL They push moderates out and Democrats to the right. No progressives left! They’re all the Money Party…..
HELEN: I’ll be in this area till I’ve saved up for my next stunt.
DOLORES: I think you may be my heroine.
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL With all the Police State tools King George put in place: Do you trust government?
CROWD and ALL BACKSTAGE: "No!"
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL Do you believe me when I say The f-ing Kleptocracy is Bi-partisan?
HELEN and EMMA: No!
HELEN: Did you hear about the time I served George Bush an eviction notice?
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL Please! Can we petition the United Nations for an interim government?
ALL BACKSTAGE (astonished): What a good idea! (Nods. soft cheers.)
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL The odds are against us. …..
HELEN: Bush had no right to be in the White House. He wasn't elected!
SPEAKER # 3 PROFESSOR POOL But if you and I work night and day, maybe there's hope we can restore government to the people. (applause) Thanks for listening. (applause and bridge music)
HELEN: Back during the Eviction I didn’t have friends in the press. But my next stunt, I hope you'll hear about it and say: "Good! I wish I’d done that!"
JOY: Good! I wish I’d done that! (hugs HELEN)
EMMA: Either one of that!
AMY: Baghdad’s heroic, but the eviction stunt’s too much like a prank.
JOY: You mean like fun? Fun's great! I’m all for it.
HELEN: Laughter damps down the fear that makes people cruel and stupid.
EMMA: As my namesake Emma Goldman said, "If I can’t dance, you can keep your Revolution."
JOY: My knees won't let me dance much, but I can keep trucking.
ANNOUNCER Don’t go away! Here’s the one you’ve been waiting for! That fantasmasgastic, superslappin’ rarpperdasting on- man DMZ– The Green Zone Hornet!
GREEN ZONE: Grannies? You back there? Come on out and join up with me! Let’s kick this scene up a level! All right?!
(Cheers. Grannies scramble to put bonnets back on as they go back out on the rally stage. A drum-heavy intro to the Green Zone Hornet’s rap number begins. Grannies try to do call-and-response and ad lib choreography with the rapper.)
GZH: Say! No war!
GRANS: No war!
GZH: What’s it for!
GRANS: What’s it for!
GZH: Stand and insist!
GRANS: Stand and insist!
GZH: Shake your fist!
GRANS: Shake your fist!
GZH: Shake it! Shake it! Shake it! Shake it! (The music segues into the chorus of the Grannies’ "Nasty Song.")
SCENE FIVE: Joy’s Dining Room
(BOB and the exhilarated Grannies celebrating post-performance at Joy’s, some collapsing, some bouncing around, reprising the skit and song. Lights down as they move into place, continuing the "Nasty Song.")
Yes, we are singing/ This nasty song
Hope’s what we’re bringing/ So sing along!
Your Granny’s angry / At the mess they’ve made. (lights up)
Let’s right these wrongs!/ Join our parade!
BOB Here’s to you, ladies! Another triumph!
JOY We were great! Veronica especially.
VERONICA I should be getting home.
JOY Not till we try out Rona's new song. She'll want to hear how it goes.
AMY You must tell Rona we got a blessed response! Best rally ever, I’d say.
DOLORES You always say that.
JOY Bob was out front watching, and he agrees. Don’t you, dear?
BOB Absolutely. Best ever.
DOLORES Bob always agrees.
AMY The audience all joined in!
VERONICA The ones close up did.
BOB I felt real kinship when all of us in the audience sang "If I Had a Hammer".
DOLORES If they know they have a hammer, why don't they ever swing it rather than just singing it? This is a Movement that doesn't move.
EMMA With a compelling analysis and a clear direction--.
BOB I have great memories of those old songs. I drew #363 in the draft lottery, so from then on I could relax and enjoy the Summers of Love.
JOY Bob! You enjoyed what?
BOB You and your friends did, too!
JOY Don't tell the kids.
EMMA Not me! I was always on duty. Marxist parents, Union organizing. People born after 1950 can hardly imagine how brain-dead this country was back then– all that Cold War purging and blacklisting.
BOB What about you, Veronica? Bread and roses? Or wine and weed?
VERONICA Neither, really. I married young.
DOLORES I thought I detected a hint of hippie.
VERONICA My hair? I can't stand to have anyone fuss with it.
EMMA Didn't you say you marched against Vietnam?
VERONICA My husband and I had student friends who were Resisters.
AMY Now the young can pretend it doesn’t touch them. Our foreign wars are fought by mercenaries, professional warriors.
DOLORES They still feel guilt and Post Traumatic Stress. Their suicide rate is astronomical!
AMY Everybody knows killing is wrong. That's why they’re traumatized! But all that cursing made the professor sound like one of the brutes he's --
BOB I didn’t hear all that much cursing.
AMY He used the f-word, he took the name of God in vain–
JOY He said our prisons are Hell on earth. That’s not a curse, it’s a job description.
EMMA He used milder language than I do!
AMY Sometimes your language is offensive, Emma. But I know your heart, so I forgive you. But to appeal to conservatives who could be with us on the issues–
BOB Reminds me– I’d better get our mic out of the van. (exits)
EMMA At least they let us use the sound system! Last time we were stuck out of range at the back of the stage, and the reporter wrote about our "frail Granny voices."
JOY: Frail! I ask you, Veronica. Are we frail?
(Pause. Veronica doesn't know what to say)
AMY Blessed are the meek. The peacemakers.
JOY It’s one thing to look frail– frail-ish. But do you think we sound– ?
DOLORES Compared to the rapper we do.
EMMA Because he had the big fat phallic mic!
DOLORES Face it. Without mics of our own, we’re barely a back-up group.
AMY More like a back drop group.
EMMA His posse of geriatric bootie-shakers!
JOY: Pumping it up. "Resist!"
ALL "Resist! Shake your fist! Shake it! Shake it! Shake it!"
(ALL collapse in a heap of laughter)
JOY If we don't have mics-- Maybe we should do mime skits. Street theatre.
DOLORES Street theatre’s what we’re doing! It’s certainly not music.
AMY Don’t be an elitist, Dolores.
DOLORES I’m the opposite of an elitist. I sing with you, don’t I?
AMY The Bible doesn’t say sing like angels. "Make a joyful noise", it says. "Shout, O daughters of Jerusalem."
DOLORES The Bible is incoherent superstition. Why should I care what it says?
JOY I dance with bad knees and two left feet. But I can shout loud!
DOLORES Loud is good. In tune is better.
EMMA After three years, Dolores, you still don’t get it. We’re not opera or gospel. We're not even The Weavers. The point of us is that we’re not daunted. We do what we can– what anyone can!– and we demonstrate that it makes a difference. I think today's roving mic worked, and we should build on it. Bob has a proposal to make– (BOB walks in carrying a big cardboard mic box, pauses to listen.)
JOY After something to eat, please! I’m famished.
VERONICA I only meant to stay to hear Rona's song...
AMY Singing makes me happy. Best of all is singing well, with people you love.
VERONICA (to Amy) Now I remember you! You’re in the Community Chorus! You sit way on the other side–
AMY Second soprano.
VERONICA You must be good. To pass the audition.
AMY I think I got in because the accompanist is my church's choir director.
DOLORES That would explain it!
JOY Amy is much better musically than most of us, and I don't think you should fault her for being patient and Christian. I for one am grateful!
DOLORES You're right. I should just S-T-F-U!
AMY What’d she say? S-T what?
EMMA Don’t ask.
DOLORES You might faint dead away.
AMY Will somebody please tell me?
EMMA Do you promise not to faint?
(AMY nods, EMMA whispers, AMY is shocked.)
AMY People say this? In public?
BOB Don’t you ever watch the comedy channel? VERONICA What do you shout at the TV when Fox news comes on?
AMY We don't watch much TV. It's all Mammon-talk. I can’t stand to hear it, I turn down the sound–
ALL BUT AMY (ad lib) Right! (or) That’s it! STFU!
BOB Where on TV are any voices like the Grannies? Like those people at the rally?
EMMA From your lips to God’s ears! There are rumors– I can’t talk about it yet, this is a plan that needs to stay under the radar– but we may get a chance to tell our rulers what we think of them. Face to face.
BOB Not going to happen. They vet the crowds, screen out dissenters.... (turns to exit)
AMY(to BOB) Come back and join us. We’re not rehearsing, just having fun.
BOB I’m bringing in the brownies.
AMY You baked brownies? Yum!
JOY I know it’s the custom, Amy. But flirting's not compulsory, you know.
AMY I wasn't--! I’m sorry.
BOB Only members of the "I’ve-known-Bob & Joy-for-ages-club" get to flirt.
JOY You’re getting close, though, Amy. We met back– when? 2002?
AMY 2001, I think. At the Shelter. But I didn’t meet Bob till the antiwar demonstration in 2003.
BOB Three or four years to go yet. Sorry. (exits)
EMMA We forgive you, though. The temptation to flirt with Bob is really strong.
AMY My husband’s a wonderful man. He really is. He’s on the board of charities, mentors the youth group, and personally he’ll do anything for someone in trouble. If some widow doesn’t have a man around to mow her yard or clean out her storm drain--? But expect him to put away a dish? Fold his own underwear? If I’m called away to the phone, he won’t even ladle out dinner for our grandchildren. He’ll sit there, letting the food get cold, till I come back.
DOLORES I hate to cook. But my Sam hasn’t a clue how to put together a healthy meal for his diabetes, and I’m not ready to be a widow.
EMMA My husband and I take turns. His nights are mostly pizza and a Bag O' Salad. Not good, but good for a laugh.
AMY Laughter’s a blessing. I wouldn’t mind the rest if Jim had Bob’s sense of fun.
JOY Laughter gives us positive energy.
EMMA It also drains off the righteous anger that drives change.
VERONICA Better that, than that the anger turns inward and eats away at your heart.
DOLORES The Gaggle in Minnesota pulled off a Rage Raid. A temper tantrum, with screams and sirens and drums and the oldest ones clattering with their walkers like the chorus line in The Producers! They tore up a recruitment center, threw blood all over–!
JOY "Grannies on a Rampage" Did they get away with it?
DOLORES They were arrested, but released. Maybe it’ll be on TV when there’s a trial.
AMY If they get sentences like the 3-1/2 years for Betty Krawcyzk.
VERONICA What did she do, Betty –?
AMY Krawcyck. The article's in Rona’s bag. (fishes it out) She photocopied it from the Times. (VERONICA reads it.)
EMMA I’m okay with getting arrested as a publicity stunt, but anything really criminal would reflect on the Union.
JOY What about the Peninsula Grans thing? Going to our Representatives with calcium tablets? – saying, "grow a backbone!"
EMMA Our reps are the biggest liberals in the country!
JOY (slaps head) What was I thinking?
EMMA You’re thinking: How can we make points? Not, How can we make friends? Don’t scorn, organize.
BOB (enters) I’m ready to serve. How many coffees? (hands up) Cocoa? (hands) Tea?
VERONICA Is it herbal?
BOB If you want. What kind?
VERONICA Anything without caffeine. I have trouble sleeping.
(BOB turns to go, but DOLORES stops him)
DOLORES How’d we do for bucks in the buckets, Bob?
BOB Donations? Not so well. About $45.
DOLORES $ 45?!
BOB I’m afraid so.
VERONICA Out of hundreds of people?!
EMMA The economy's still in recession. Isn't that our point? And it's worse for our kind of people than for professionals.
DOLORES Our kind? Is there anybody in this room without a college degree?
AMY Me. I just went to high school.
JOY I started college, but married Junior year.
VERONICA And me. But I'm subbing for Rona, who has 2 Masters'.
DOLORES: So we flunked fund-raising. Did we get any recruits?
JOY Helen! We got that wonderful Helen!
EMMA She can’t join till after next month, she’s taking a class.
DOLORES (skeptical) A class.
JOY Bob said dozens signed the mailing list.
EMMA We'll have to wait till Joan's back for a follow-up on that.
DOLORES: Joan’s out. She broke her hip.
EMMA Such a pessimist! Sharon thought she’d never be back, but--
DOLORES Sharon had a hip replacement, not multiple fractures. Joan will be staying with her daughter until she leaves Florida in a box.
JOY Laura won’t be with us any more, either. She’s moving to South Carolina.
DOLORES At least none of us has dropped dead on stage. Yet.
BOB (entering with food) Besides brownies, I’ve got no-sugar bran muffins. You can take your husband a diabetic doggy bag, Dolores. I’ll be right back with the drinks.
AMY That’s a lot to carry. I’ll give you a hand. (exits after Bob)
DOLORES(to JOY) Aren’t you going to go and keep an eye on her?
JOY I'm not getting out of this chair. My 2 left feet have got new bunions.
DOLORES $45 won’t cover new aprons. So do we each pay for our own?
JOY We should chip in an extra 2 bucks for Amy, who really can’t afford–
DOLORES She could if she didn’t tithe. Ten percent to that cult church of hers. Buy health, buy heaven, buy votes… I know it's none of my business, but some my own family has handed over their hard-earned to those Preaching Predators, too. I hate them!
JOY Amy’s church buys meals for the homeless. Serves them, too. At the shelter.
EMMA And they are pacifists: always been against war.
JOY Which is why her daughter’s marriage is such a shock.
VERONICA Her daughter married– ?
JOY Outside the church. A soldier.
DOLORES Pacifism is all very well– but Amy has some nerve, forgiving Emma her language!
EMMA (laughing) It’s okay. I forgive her for forgiving me. But Amy was way out of line to put our newbie on the spot. I apologize for that, Veronica.
VERONICA People who quote scripture frighten me. There’s a lot of choir singers in the Community Chorus, and some of them--. I'm just not comfortable. I’m the square peg–
EMMA We all are! I know I’m the reason Barbara and her friends aren't here. They rehearse separately, and skip some gigs. But we can still cooperate... where we agree.
DOLORES Barbara’s phobic about Socialists. If we have to convert the 90% who hate Socialists before we can oust the criminal millionaires--
JOY It's not socialism. It's gays.
EMMA What? JOY Barbara doesn't approve of Emma's attitude towards gays.
EMMA Doesn’t approve of my–? What?
JOY I haven’t a clue. She said something about the Gaggle and Lesbians, and I couldn’t tell if she meant we were too pro or too anti. Whichever, she doesn't approve.
EMMA You don't know which?
JOY Don’t ask; don’t tell.
DELORES Well– 4 of us are married. That might be a clue. Meet at the house of the most married of all.
JOY So it’s all Bob's fault? Thanks a lot.
EMMA I guess I ought to do some fence-mending.
JOY After all, some of our best friends are.... (they laugh helplessly) Rona will be back, won't she?
VERONICA She promised me my subbing is a one-time thing.
DOLORES She's lying! She wants you to join us. You might as well give in. Even I can't say no to Rona.
JOY What’s wrong with her? Do you know?
VERONICA I know that she’s seeing a doctor. And sometimes she seems-- disoriented. But that's all I know.
JOY She says you’re her best friend!
VERONICA Does she? I mean, Rona is MY best friend. The books she gives me and the talks we have are my lifeline. But Rona has friends by the dozens-
JOY We all love Rona...
DOLORES Love’s a strong word, but no one is better company.
EMMA Old age is not for sissies. My mother is a holy terror, and that’s probably why at 95 she’s still bullying politicians and managing the family law firm.
DOLORES At 95? My idea of hell.
JOY 95's the new 70. I look 15 years younger than my mother did.
VERONICA Are you all really grandmothers? You look way too young.
EMMA Two great-grandkids. But I still get carded sometimes!
JOY When I tried out with the Senior Chorus, they looked as if I had no right to be there.
DOLORES Was this after they heard you sing? (AMY & BOB re-enter with refreshments. JOY grabs a brownie.)
AMY You’ll have to come to the table– the kettle’s really hot.
DOLORES Where’s the Sweet & Low?
AMY Rona's bag has some. (VERONICA rummages)
VERONICA Got it! (passes it)
DOLORES Thank you, Rona!
AMY These brownies are scrumptious, Bob. (applause)
DOLORES Would you pass a muffin, please? I'm too stiff to reach.
VERONICA Me, too. Too old for choreography.
EMMA We may not move as well as when we were young, but doing what we're doing--
BOB Joy, is that a second brownie you're eating?
JOY Uh huh. They're so chocolate -y. You've outdone yourself.
BOB Don't make me regret it. We had a pact: just one.
DOLORES Bob's right, Joy. Moderation now saves botheration later.
JOY I heard that chocolate's good for you.
DOLORES Yes. But sugar and refined flour?
JOY I hoped I'd get away with it, Rona not being here.
DOLORES Rona has the statistics. I have experience. You don't want to have to count every gram of carb and fiber, like my husband. And cooking for a diabetic's no more fun than eating like one!
AMY My church has potlucks, pancake breakfasts, pizza night, cake for birthdays and holidays. It's how we celebrate and become family.
BOB Kids fight all the time over what to eat or wear!
EMMA Over keeping kosher! I've got an Orthodox Rabbi for a son-in-law. Food's one fight the Grannies are not taking on, OK?
VERONICA Rona's working to get soda out of the schools, and for a ban on genetically modified food.
EMMA Good for her! But no scolding. The connection between food and comfort is too close. If we open the door and say, "Come to Granny, darling" but all we offer is spinach…
AMY I do think women find it easier to admit that something comfortable might be a mistake, and try to find a better way.
VERONICA I would so like to believe that! It would help if Hilary ever admitted her vote for the Iraq War was a mistake.
DOLORES Hilary's biggest mistake was not telling her husband that once he was caught with his pants down it became his patriotic duty to go out and get himself shot. He'd be a Democrat martyr. We'd have had two terms of President Gore followed by her!
JOY Uhmm.. Veronica? We voted not to discuss candidates.
VERONICA Rona was always for Obama. Isn't that why she's with you?
JOY Some Grannies are Greens, Wobblies, Libertarians-.
EMMA We say to all parties: stop destroying the planet, stop the wars; stop unwarranted surveillance and restore the rule of law. Pry the system out of the hands of crooks who profit from it.
AMY My nephew drove a truckload of food down after Katrina, but his his buddies warned him not to. They were right! Homeland Security stopped him, like a criminal!
VERONICA After my husband lost his security clearance, he never got another real job. A million people are on the "No Fly" watch list! How many are on the Don't Hire" or "Don't give a Loan" list?
JOY That can't be true, can it? Who would even know?
BOB "They" know, Joy. Back when we started the business, I had to keep warning you to watch what you say and who you associate with. But don't worry. We've aged out of the "threat" profiling. Retired old softie, and his wife who likes to dress up and sing? We can pretty much do or say anything, as long as we don't brandish a weapon.
EMMA I’ve got an FBI file yea long, but the Union lawyers, they'll stand up for me.
AMY My church will stand up for me.
DOLORES Don’t fool yourself. Peter denied Jesus! For every Christian who backs you, there’ll be a dozen who say they "never really knew you that well" and "the police are just doing their job".
AMY Then they aren't Christians! My church has been tried by fire. Our men gave themselves up to be shot in WWII, rather than be soldiers.
EMMA I believe you. I just want to be sure you understand that in every group-- unions, Quakers, nuns-- there are Snitches. Spies. Paid by FBI. Local police, too. The NYPD’s undercover squad was all over the 2004 Republican Convention. At St. Paul and Denver security did pre-emptive sweeps. They have lists of leaders of every protest group and all alternative press people, and they lock them up till the conventions were over.
JOY Well, so what if there are spies! The more the merrier! We'll convert them to our side.
AMY I'm glad you’re here, Veronica. Please stay.
VERONICA Rona may need me to be her driver.
EMMA Have a Merry Revolution: That’s our motto! A Gaggle in Iowa passes out fabulous hats to get women to come on stage with them as Instant Grannies!
AMY If someone like me, who voted for Bush believing that he was a compassionate Christian who’d unite us–
BOB He united us, all right.
DOLORES In fear and loathing
AMY I don't want to loathe anybody! I want to love my enemies, and turn them from evil. I pray for the president, and for the poor soldiers, too.
DOLORES And you imagine your prayers work how?
AMY Look at a policeman's face. Sometimes he looks angry, but more often it’s sorrow or disgust. Cuffing a protester makes him sick.
DOLORES That's the tear gas.
JOY I don’t think so! When a Granny is dragged to jail, people think of their own grannies.
EMMA Speaking of jail! Who's going with me to the Code Pink strategy session on Wednesday? If we want a good slot at the rally we need to be in the room.
BOB Joy and I are editing the Podcast Project, remember?
AMY I'm on duty at the Shelter.
DOLORES I'm taking my husband in for a checkup.
JOY The Project needs interviewers. Beyond the two of us.
AMY Maybe I could interview Veronica?
EMMA That’s the spirit! (to Veronica) Are you willing?
VERONICA I can’t. I just can't. What's this for?
BOB You Tube. We're recording opinions and questions, like the videos people submitted for the nominees at the 2008 Debate.
DOLORES That was so bogus! What kind of participatory democracy is it if the Media chooses who participates?
BOB For our Project, we get to choose.
DOLORES Choose the wildest. Mind-set breakers.
VERONICA Rona says that as a librarian she never felt free to take a public stand.
EMMA When a scrupulous woman like Rona speaks out, that's powerful. This is the moment.
AMY I feel in my heart that if Americans can elect a Black man, a great historic wrong begins to be set right.
DOLORES Any moment can become a beginning. Once you set your eyes on the prize, just brush off setbacks. Don't let them turn you around.
AMY So I don't see why we can't work for-
EMMA Individually, Emma White is going to vote for the Socialist: just as proof that there IS a Socialist! But as Grannies, our job is to get our fellow citizens to stop being passive and practice bottom-up small-d democracy.
JOY Veronica, would you pass me Rona’s bag? (gets bag, looks in) Here's the song. A patriotic song: just a few changed words. Something to bring people together. (passes it)
DOLORES I have to go. When and where's the next rehearsal?
AMY(recognizing song) O, this is such a good idea!
JOY Rehearsal here, Friday, after you all vote on the Podcast thingee. Can we run this song through once? Please?
VERONICA I don't know if I'll be with you when–?
DOLORES Veronica? STFU. Just sing. Amy, you want to start us?
AMY You start us, Dolores. Bob, you should sing too.
ALL: O beautiful for spacious skies/ With no more fighter planes
For purple mountains’ majesty/ Fields of organic grains
America, America, God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with sisterhood/ From sea to shining sea.
JOY Thank you! Even if we don’t ever perform it, it felt really good to hear it.
DOLORES You weren't half bad, Joy. You were actually singing alto.
JOY I remember it from middle school. I love that song.
EMMA We can sing it. Hell, Let's sing it again. (They sing as lights fade.)
-SCENE SIX: Podcast Interview Project
(BOB, JOY, AMY, EMMA, DOLORES, RONA and VERONICA are listening to the recordings of "Public Opinion" interviews. We hear the beginning of VOICE ONE before the lights go up. BOB is playing the recordings for the group to vote what is usable material. RONA speaks sparely and with hesitations. She is still experiencing symptoms. Sound fades in. Image is optional: the Granny group can watch the interviews on a laptop, or they can be projected so that the audience can see them, too )
VOICE ONE You can’t expect women to lead a revolution. They're used to being useless. My mother, for instance? Household help, country club, lived on Dad till he settled her in a senior complex and died so she could play bridge all day.
BOB The sound quality's not bad. Is it?
WOMEN It’s fine. Okay. Not bad.
VOICE ONE Mom's determined to live till she's spent Dad's last penny. Never learned to drive, can you believe it? Her retirement palace has a chauffeured van.
BOB I can edit out the noise if you think this is worth keeping. AMY Erase it. I can't stand her OR her mother!
VOICE ONE Still– even a woman who stays home can raise a conscious kid,
BOB Is she that off-putting? Veronica?
VOICE ONE .. who works for social justice: that's what I do. Anti-discrimination rallies? I’ve got a van that'll carry eight.
VERONICA You can’t go by me. I'm not a people person. Rona?
VOICE ONE … The only excuse for having a gas guzzler is to haul the shock troops
RONA That sounds – promising.
VOICE ONE ... to the front lines. You know? My mother is so selfish, she even refuses to recycle.
DOLORES Unless that's supposed to be comic relief…
BOB We use what works for the point we're making, cut the rest–
AMY That doesn't seem honest to me.
EMMA Rating it one to five: what do you give? (ALL: fingers up)
JOY What about your vote, Emma?
EMMA I'm staying out of this. You decide.
BOB Average 2. Not ready for Prime Time. Next-
VOICE TWO You won't get me to protest. I work second shift, and I need my job. I’m going to need it till I'm eighty-- (Amy pushes stop button)
AMY Bob, can we talk? (ad lib agreement) I have very mixed feelings about doing this. I know you think it's the wave of the future, this--- what is this called?
AMY No, I mean all this sort of thing. Like in that movie about the Facebook kid--
JOY Social Networking. It's how young people communicate. There's tweeting, and texting--
AMY Yes! And sexting and webisodes and I don't know what all. Well, in my humble opinion--
AMY It's for the young. Not us. For us it isn't-- honest.
BOB Will you listen to one more before you decide? (cues up VOICE THREE)
AMY Even if it says exactly what I want to hear, having the words come from a woman I don't know personally puts me in a -- wrong relationship. One I don't feel good about.
VOICE THREE I stopped marching, out of fear. What if the police break down my door? I’m not apathetic! Not in the least! But when someone everyone I know despises-- someone all the polls said would lose– wins an election, I can't -- trust. Or hope. Hope is a kind of trust.
VERONICA Sounds like the "hopeless" tape that runs in my head.
VERONICA What do I know? I just read books, mostly sad ones.
RONA Much as I love literature, it doesn't speak to young people any more. They find themselves though things like Facebook and You Tube. So isn't that where we should go?
VERONICA Save civilization with podcasts?
RONA Or with ditties, or flash mobs. If that's what reaches them. I would, dear.
BOB We've had some interest when we put the Granny-ditties up on You Tube. But there are so many more platforms. People can can listen to a podcast on a bus, or during lunch. Doing homework. How many kids even hear about our performances, let alone come! With different technologies, the message gets to where young people like to go.
AMY It's going into a kind of electronic marketplace, right? With lots of ads, and people telling each other what they are doing, eating, buying. Hoping to be popular. And a person, or a made-up name-- like BigGuy70 or something-- can say anything, whether or not it is true?
BOB That's a problem with all storytelling, not just electronic.
AMY We are not just telling stories, are we? We're bearing witness. With our wrinkles, and our scars, our own hands and faces. We look people in the eye, and say: I was taught some things as true by my forebears. I have tried to live by these truths, and this is what I've learned. Take it: my body and blood. Make your own choices in the light of what we share.
RONA (considering) What we share.
AMY But the sharing only matters because I am different! Unique, and speaking from myself. Bearing witness.
VERONICA (to Rona) You told me once that the mark of a great book is that it is both unique and universal, literal and mythic.
DOLORES Strange word, myth. Meaning both "deeply true and important" and "a once-believable lie".
EMMA This is obviously the beginning of a long and serious discussion.
BOB (frustrated) I think you should at least listen to the end of this one! (cues up)
VOICE THREE But lately, I'd begun to feel a little hopeful. Florida straightening out, Ohio putting in paper ballots. I came to your rally, even in that awful rain. But what can a mere citizen do? I don't just feel powerless. I'm scared sick, scared to the point of paralysis. (interview pauses)
EMMA I hope you urged this one to join us! Give me her address and phone number.
VERONICA (begins to cry) I'm sorry. I'm sorry Rona. Everyone. Forgive me. I'm not used to being with people.
EMMA I'm going to contact that woman. I wonder how she'd respond if we gave her a chance to confront her fear directly, in civic action.
RONA Civic action. As in– Disobedience? I want to be part of that.
EMMA You've given us a lot to think about, Bob.
RONA Can we get to the singing now? You said we have in a march next Saturday. (As lights fade the sound of the GRANNIES performing is heard)
The Grannies are marching as to war, hurrah, hurrah.
But peace is what we’re fighting for, hurrah, hurrah!
We'll throw a wrench in the war machine
We'll teach the Army what we mean
And we'll all be free, when we bring our soldiers home!
DOLORES Tell me, Emma dear. Do you put up with Joy because you need Bob, or put up with Bob because you need Joy?
EMMA I don't need either! I love them.
SCENE SEVEN: Rona’s Entranceway
(RONA stands dazed, in nightgown.)
VERONICA (outside) Rona? Rona, are you in there? It's Veronica. Are you okay? Please. I'm letting myself in, so I can help–
RONA (to door) I don't– I can't– Help! I can’t– (sobs, overlaps ) No! No! No, no, no!
VERONICA (enters with key) What is it? What's the matter? There, there. It's all right. I'll call your doctor– I'll stay with you. Or I'll drive you to the emergency room..
RONA Not the doctor, not emergency. Got to go! Somewhere! But I can’t remember. You, you're in it! Tell me where.
VERONICA You asked me to drive you to rehearsal. At Joy's. With the Grannies.
RONA The Grannies. Yes.
VERONICA But you're not well– (Rona puts on her jacket and picks up her magic bag.)
RONA I'm fine. I'm fine. I was lost, but now I'm found.
VERONICA Oh, my dear– you can’t.
RONA A matter of life. I’m ready.
VERONICA You’re not dressed. (RONA looks puzzled) You’re wearing your nightgown.
RONA Help me dress, please. (puts down bag, unbuttons robe) The readiness is all.
VERONICA I think we should call your doctor and go to the emergency room. You don’t have to dress to do that.
RONA I’m going – to the Grannies.
VERONICA There will be other rehearsals.
RONA I can’t be sure. I can’t be sure– what’s next. There’s a rehearsal now: isn’t there? You drive me. Please. Help me do this. This is what I want to do.
VERONICA I’ll get your clothes.
RONA Don’t let me forget my bag! (lights down)
SCENE EIGHT: Joy’s Dining Room
DOLORES Why can we never get a rehearsal started?
BOB Should I bring in the tea? I’ve made upside down cake.
AMY How appropriate! (BOB exits) I'm so looking forward to singing with a big group of Grannies. How many other Gaggles do you think will make it?
JOY How many of this Gaggle will? In theory, there are 22 of us. We already know Dolores can't be away from from her husband overnight--
EMMA Barbara and Judy are going. They’ll practice whatever we decide. Edith won’t be singing with us for a while. Her mother had an episode.
AMY An episode of what? (EMMA shrugs)
DOLORES Sounds like a soap opera. (BOB brings tea.)
JOY (helps distribute cups and tea) Rona told me she was coming when I talked to her on Sunday. Except that she seemed to think Sunday was Monday. Emma?
EMMA I talked to Veronica. She was about to pick up Rona– an hour ago. (to Bob) Do you want to try her again? (BOB takes cell phone, exits.)
AMY I had a very strange conversation with Rona yesterday. I called to ask her how she was feeling, and I told her that I put her name out into our Wednesday night prayer circle. And she said in just the harshest tone, "I’ll thank you to keep my name out of your superstitions. When I want prayers, I’ll ask for them!" (DOLORES & EMMA laugh) Well, you may laugh, but I have to say it hurt me. Now if it were Dolores, or even Emma–
EMMA You’d forgive me.
AMY Yes, I would. That’s how you are, and in spite of it I think you’re fond of me–
EMMA It’s true. I'm fond of you.
AMY But Rona’s not like that! "Fond." I thought we were friends.
DOLORES Live and learn. Could at least talk about the songs? I wrote a new verse for the nasty: take a look. (gives up searching) Joy! Still no Sweet & Low?
JOY I’m sorry, Dolores. I keep forgetting.
DOLORES My fault. Or Rona’s, for being my supplier. Try this, Amy. Emma? (sing)Let’s hear you singing/ Our nasty song
March on the Capitol! Ten million strong!
Give us resignations! / For the mess you’ve made.
Or the whole world/ Joins our parade!
JOY I hope we include a patriotic one, along with the hit ’em hard satire. It's fine to bash congress and the Supreme Court, but --
AMY Fine? It's not fine: it may be treasonous! Except that we're harmless comic Grandmas! Faces like ours have to be front and center if the Police crack down.
DOLORES I wish I could be there. Though it looks as if the Grannies may not get on the Free Speech Stage. There's a problem with the permits.
EMMA Permits or no permits, there’ll be a lot of talent competing for a slot.
DOLORES But we're an International brand! Founded in Canada: remember? The Granville Grannies made network news with their Recruiting Center Caper. "Take me! Let my grandsons live!"
EMMA Chained the door and shut the place down.
AMY The military police took them to jail?
JOY The army doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.
EMMA Shutdowns work. We get 15 minutes of fame for every arrest.
JOY Well, it’s an arresting story!
DOLORES Cute little old ladies are good for local news ratings.
EMMA So far we've always won acquittal if we fight. There are still judges who take the first amendment seriously.
AMY I think counter-recruiting at high schools is better. Actually talking to the kids, one on one, as if they were our grandchildren–
DOLORES It might be, if you offered them an alternative. Like, a scholarship? Or a career? If those kids have to stay put in the ghetto, they might be safer in the military. Don’t expect me to go along next time you harass those kids. I’ve had it with hypocrisy.
EMMA So it’ll just be Joy and Amy with me on Thursday?
AMY I – I can’t this week. My daughter Sue–.
JOY Bob will come, if you think it’d be good to have a man along.
EMMA We don’t want to wear Bob out: we need him as our roadie. Any police brutality, it'll be his job to record it and distribute it to the press.
DOLORES I vote Bob counter-recruit. A man makes it less of an insult.
AMY I second the motion.
DOLORES We haven’t a quorum. Or do we? (enter VERONICA & RONA)
JOY We do! Here they are!
BOB They were just turning onto our street when I called.
EMMA (hugs) Welcome! It’s so good to see you, Rona.
AMY I hope you’re feeling better?
RONA I’m– I’ll be all right.
JOY You’ve brought your magic bag! With Sweet & Low and cookies?
RONA Oatmeal raisin. (indicates to VERONICA she should get cookies out)
BOB I’ll bring in some more hot water. (exits)
VERONICA I can’t seem to find the cookies– but here’s the Sweet & Low–
DOLORES I brought a new set of lyrics, Veronica. (gives it) Sing and improve our sound.
EMMA Who needs improving? Me?
VERONICA Look at this, Rona.
(sings) Give us resignations! / For the mess you’ve made.
RONA (joins in) Or the whole world/ Joins our parade!
DOLORES Rona’s an irreplaceable asset, of course. (Applauds. Others join)
RONA I’m so happy to be here. You can’t imagine how much this means to me. (Begins to cry . The others hug her and murmur encouragement.)
JOY Did you ever think when we started singing that there’d be a real Movement? Monster rallies?
EMMA When I started, eons ago, I thought I’d be singing in the People’s Republic! Now I’d settle for what we had under Eisenhower.
DOLORES Talk about lowered expectations!
EMMA I’d dance in the streets.
BOB There are so many signed on to march that there’s no way the police can cordon us off. We’ll make headlines all over America, so large and so loud and so–
JOY We aren’t just a fringe, we’re the People. United we stand.
EMMA Maybe even united we sit down.
RONA Sit down?
EMMA You've wanted a sit-down strike. If enough people join, we’ll turn into a Velvet Revolution! Can’t arrest the whole population.
RONA Yes! Do it! I'll be right there beside you!
JOY We’re going to get our country back. I can feel it in my bones.
DOLORES That’s osteoarthritis, baby doll. Sit down and you may not get up again.
AMY We should make it easy for people cross over and join in.
DOLORES People like your soldier son-in-law? How's that going?
AMY The last thing my daughter needs is people saying that her husband is going to hell.
JOY All we’re saying is bring them all home! Not that our troops are evil.
AMY Her father believes that soldiers are damned. All soldiers. Our pastor preaches it, but–.
VERONICA Your family must be in terrible pain from this.
RONA There are signs. (ALL look at RONA)
VERONICA Signs of what, Rona?
RONA Did I say something?
VERONICA We were talking about Amy’s daughter. And you said, "There are signs."
RONA I – I’ve seen people carrying Signs. That say our troops are guilty of war crimes.
AMY If we were to paint that on a 40-foot banner, God help me! Sue is so upset, and Dan--. He’s– he’s volatile.
JOY Dan has a loaded gun! He’s not just volatile, he’s dangerous.
BOB If he won’t get help–.
AMY He’s getting help! The church is helping him. Dan would never hurt Sue.
JOY He’s hurt her already.
AMY That was an accident. He was asleep. I told you that in confidence! If Sue found out, she'd never forgive me.
BOB Suicide, car crashes, stupid crimes that amount to suicide. Your Dan is one of thousands.
EMMA Amy, we just want to help.
BOB A couple kids I went to high school with who came home from Vietnam were dead within a year. I wish I’d at least talked to them. But I kept my head down and my mouth shut.
AMY People can heal. Whole countries have.
DOLORES Like who? Don't say Germany! Defeat in World War One made Germany worse. That, and an economic collapse, which began for the US in 2007. Be careful what you wish for.
RONA What we wish for? Why?
DOLORES The economy's not coming back. Look for the KKK to rise again. The Disaster Capitalists will unleash the Blackwater Blackshirts. We might be better off letting Reagan's disciples own the mess.
EMMA Dolores, It's one thing to be an Eeyore. That's your temperament. But don't paint what we're doing as foolish and futile, just so you won't have to feel bad about letting us down.
AMY We all do what we can, even if in a worldly sense it fails.
RONA "Sing of human unsuccess/ In a rapture of distress"
VERONICA We pessimists are a blight on humanity. All we're good for is some spectacular despairing gesture. Like the Vietnamese monks?
AMY Set yourself on fire! That's horrible! And a sin.
RONA Death isn’t the– the worst. The worst is a tale told by an Idiot.
VERONICA Signifying nothing.
EMMA Pooh. Women ruled by tyrants like the Taliban burn themselves alive every day. For nothing! For no change! What we're doing works-- as Margaret Mead said, "It's the only thing that does work". Marching, rallying, registering voters. Setting out the progressive agenda, and convincing young people--
RONA Yes. I say, too. Young people want to do–
VERONICA The right thing?
RONA (nods) Matter of life.
JOY As long as I get some fun with my do-gooding– fun and friendship.
EMMA Save the world, with fun and friendship. All in favor? (ALL: Aye!) Motion passed.
AMY Time to sing.
BOB (removing dishes, exiting) I'll clear up here.
EMMA We can do "Nasty" with Dolores' verse. And Joy, you have a suggestion?
JOY "America". What could be more patriotic than what we're doing?
EMMA So, "America the Beautiful" and what else?
AMY I think we should let Rona pick.
EMMA What do you want us to sing, Rona? Your favorite.
RONA The other– other words.
VERONICA Other words? To a tune they've sung?
RONA Not words. Not brain. Heart. About... about.... (crumples)
VERONICA She’s convulsing– Get an ambulance. Her pills are in her purse.
JOY Bob! Call 911! (goes to RONA)
AMY (hands pills) Here.
VERONICA Rona? Rona, try to swallow.
DELORES Let me do it. I’ve had practice.
EMMA That looks like a stroke to me.
AMY Oh dear God, please, not Rona. Is she going to die?
DOLORES If she’s lucky.
(An ambulance siren fades into police sirens.)
SCENE TEN: Hospital, Waiting Area Outside Rona’s Room
(VERONICA is sitting reading a book. DOLORES comes in, carrying flowers.)
DOLORES Don’t look so surprised. I was sure you’d be here. Why were you sure that I wouldn’t?
VERONICA I thought you'd be busy. Caring for your husband. Bailing out your friends.
DOLORES They're all out of jail and back home-- except Emma.
VERONICA The ACLU predicts she'll only be locked up over the weekend.
DOLORES Security must have flagged Emma as a ringleader.
DOLORES She’ll straighten them out. No dark power behind the gray heads.
VERONICA If there were one, it’d probably be someone on a government payroll.
DOLORES The cops knew beforehand what groups were coming, where they were staying. They jailed people before they could get a message out.
VERONICA I noticed there wasn’t more than a sound bite on the news. Protestors arrested. No pictures, nothing about who or why.
DOLORES If only the Feds were that well organized for disasters! They canceled permits, cordoned off protests, kept the arrests out of sight.
VERONICA People must have had cell phones. Where are the pictures?
DOLORES Kill technology? Could the police have kill technology?
VERONICA To block three square miles of cell phones?
DOLORES It’d be classified.
VERONICA Of course it would.
DOLORES I’d better go in. If Rona’s awake she’ll be wondering what’s going on.
VERONICA She won’t know you.
DOLORES These things take time.
VERONICA It’s so ironic! Rona wanted to die onstage singing, or in jail!
DOLORES Few of us are able to chose the manner of our going.
VERONICA To be numbered among the martyrs? Seems it shouldn't be impossible, for a person with energy and courage. But no: the machines got her.
DOLORES A ventilator? My Aunt had that, and she recovered.
VERONICA What’s in there is a terrified animal, howling in the clutch of demons. A Rona doesn’t "recover" from that.
DOLORES If she has some speech, that’s a good sign.
VERONICA Not speech. Sounds that she'd never want anybody to hear. They’re keeping her alive to justify their technology. Spending thousands of dollars that Rona would want to go to young people, or to her library. I tell you, it’s horrible.
DOLORES I’m tough. I can take it. (starts off)
VERONICA I can’t!
DOLORES Then go home. Live your life. We can only do what we can.
VERONICA I’m still trying to figure out what that is.
DOLORES Rona would want you to carry on with the Grannies.
VERONICA If there were still a Rona for whom it would mean something, I would. It’d be almost unbearable, dancing and singing while the person I care about sinks– but I’d do it one last time. If I thought it mattered to her.
DOLORES One last time?
VERONICA My husband died young, of Lou Gehrig’s. Horrible. Our son Miles, just 27, with a pregnant wife and a one year teaching contract? His headaches turned out to be a brain tumor. We watched him suffer, his wife and I. Until he couldn’t stand to watch us watching him, and took his own life.
DOLORES That must have been very hard.
VERONICA I was in the house when Miles did it. I didn’t know, I didn’t help– but his wife accused me, said that I was glad. I was devastated! But I was– was relieved, too. I was, Kay could see that, and see that I felt guilty for being glad that Miles was able to chose. Kay, though; she was angry, bitterly angry– with Miles for leaving her, with me for letting him. With her God for condemning suicides to Hell. Kay never accepted that Miles did it for us. For love. She took Miles' baby to live with her parents, and cut off all contact.
DOLORES You don’t need this. Why are you here?
VERONICA It’s a good place to think, wouldn’t you say? To contemplate mortality?
DOLORES To feel, I’d say.
VERONICA Oh, I can feel anywhere! I have more feelings than I know what to do with. I need to think. My life is a burden to me, but I don’t want to throw it away. I want to spend it on something significant. Tell me what to do!
DOLORES Me? Dolores Doomsday? Well, I'm sticking with the Grannies, if only as a Time Out from my grumpy husband. Sam's pessimism makes me look like Pollyanna. Plus, I enjoy writing ditties for Emma. I admire her.
VERONICA So do I. Emma is the very model of a moderate major activist. But you’re the one who understands. Do you remember the Palestinian woman who made the cover of Newsweek? Great-grandmother of 37, mother and grandmother of martyrs? Who strapped on a vest in a smiling video, and blew up a bus?
DOLORES You’re not thinking of bombs!?
VERONICA Why not? You think of bombs. And lynch mobs. All the time. I know you do. But I’m thinking of symbols. Like Buddhist monks burning in Saigon. The poor and powerless version of Shock and Awe.
DOLORES You can’t mean to–
VERONICA No, I have no mind to turn murderer– if for no better reason than that people like me can never get close enough to our real enemies. But the impotent and old are not always tame. With Lear, I say: "I will do such things– what they are yet I know not; but they shall be the terrors of the earth."
DOLORES Lear was mad at the time.
VERONICA Me, too. (chuckles) Laugh or go mad-- isn't that what Emma says? I've outlived my sense of humor.
DOLORES No, you haven't-- and you haven't outlived your caring. I WILL tell you what to do. Stick around for a while. Be my friend. Laugh at my snark. Sing with the Grannies on the days when you feel up to it, and on really good days? Allow yourself to believe that our country won't go the way of Nazi Germany.
VERONICA You predict whoever wins will be assassinated.
DOLORES Dolores Doomsday figures a 70% chance. Haters have guns. Why do you suppose Republicans choose a boogyman for Vice President? Assassination insurance.
VERONICA Chaos? Civil war? I don't see how I can stand--
DOLORES "Interesting Times", like the Chinese curse. Chin up! Life's a comedy to those who think. You can always off yourself, and waiting gives you time to plan something really really spectacular. But when you do, for God’s sake, don’t tell me about it! (sounds of visitors coming towards them) All your friends will be vulnerable--
VERONICA I won’t be evil. Just– spectacular.
DOLORES Not even a hint! Don’t tempt any of us to help you, or stop you, or turn you in. People at Virginia Tech who so much as went to third grade with Cho– they were visited by police, interviewed on CNN–
VERONICA I won’t involve anyone. (indicates friends)
DOLORES You’ve already involved me! What am I supposed to do?
(DOLORES bursts out laughing, embraces VERONICA, who is laughing and crying at once. AMY, JOY, EMMA, and HELEN enter, some of them carrying flowers. Hugs all around)
EMMA Are you having a party?
JOY Is Rona better? Does she recognize you?
DOLORES Emma. you’re out! (hugs her) Looking like a million bucks!
EMMA Hardly! But the size of my bail was very flattering.
DOLORES I haven’t seen Rona.
VERONICA She doesn’t recognize. The doctors don’t hold out much hope. What they say is, they "can’t rule out a miracle".
AMY I believe in miracles. I’m going to go pray with her. (goes )
DOLORES (to Emma) You're smiling!
EMMA Sorry. I just heard from Helen that there is some video -- in spite of all efforts to suppress it. We'll make the national news tomorrow morning.
HELEN You'll be getting new recruits by the dozens. I'm sure of it!
EMMA Veronica, you know Helen? The intrepid Baghdad reporter? She’s a real musician, too; from a musical family. Her twin granddaughters are home from college and want to play their guitars with us!
HELEN (nods) They think you gals are a hoot.
VERONICA And you think so, too? After the fiasco of the million-member rally?
HELEN Fiascos are the stuff of legend. Let me tell you about the time I-
EMMA Save it for rehearsal, won’t you? When we can give it our full attention.
DOLORES Our Gaggle thinks rehearsals are for gossip.
(Bob enters unnoticed, listens.)
EMMA Dolores has this eccentric notion that we should do justice to the music.
BOB Why haven’t you gone in? Are they doing a procedure?
JOY I think Emma’s stalling because she wants to give Amy space for her prayers.
VERONICA It’s hard to be in that room. Even though it’s wall-to-wall flowers. The nurses have started taking her bouquets to other patients. People send them who know her from the library, from her book clubs, literacy tutoring, the Symphony Society–
JOY Of course. They love her. (AMY re-enters)
AMY Rona looks as if she’s in some terrible– distress. I– I feel as if my prayers are making her worse.
VERONICA She never thought much of prayer. Why ask favors? she said. If God is good, he’ll do what’s best. If not?– don’t give Him the satisfaction.
JOY We should sing. Is that allowed?
BOB People in a coma respond to singing. It shows up in their brain waves.
JOY Let’s sing "Gimme That Old Time Constitution." She loved that.
VERONICA No, she didn’t! She approved of it, because she thought it worked. But the truth is she didn’t like satire, or ditties. She liked hymns; sad and serious ones.
AMY "How Can I Keep From Singing?"– That’s her favorite. Remember, Emma? You wanted Dolores to rewrite it, but Rona said it's too beautiful to parody.
VERONICA That sounds like Rona.
EMMA Granny Rule is only sing stuff that’s Granny-written.
BOB Rules are made to be broken.
EMMA Of course! But nobody knows it. I mean I do, but I'm probably the only–
HELEN I know it. (Some others agree.)
AMY Is it possible we all know it? Wouldn’t that be a miracle?
(They nod, and begin to sing in harmony, which becomes beautiful as they gather strength and confidence.)
DOLORES (sings) My life goes on in endless song
ALL: Above earth’s lamentation,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
What though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
What though the darkness 'round me close,
Songs in the night it giveth.
In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts of love are winging,
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?