The people have spoken... This month's People's Choice Award goes to Cleavon Smith for his original short play, You Eat What You Kill, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround "O'Neill Night" at Berkeley Rep last Monday. Congratulations, Cleavon!
Courtesy of Mr. Smith, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!
You Eat What You Kill
by Cleavon Smith
Cast of Characters
MARTHA, sixty-something, working-middle class African American woman.
JAMES, sixty-something, tall, working-middle class African American man. Martha’s husband.
JAMIE, late thirties, African American man. Son of Martha and James. Tall, attractive, fit, well-educated. Highly influential campaign fundraiser.
(In darkness an excerpt of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech plays “It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’” As the applause from the recording wanes the lights on stage come up.
Mid-afternoon on an early August day in a small town in the South. MARTHA, JAMIE, and JAMES occupy the living room of a modest home. Several glasses from departed visitors remain on the coffee table. Jamie has just shared with his mother the news of his new job as a chief fundraiser for a presidential campaign.)
MARTHAWhy did you wait to the minute you were leaving to share this good news with us, boy?
JAMIEI didn’t know how to share it, Momma. Everybody was all around until just now, and I didn’t want to be making any public announcements trying to bring attention to myself.
MARTHAThat would have been alright by me. Nothing wrong with making your Momma proud, is there? I oughta have a good reason to strut a little bit in front of your folks now shouldn’t I? Shame on you. You just done gone and took that satisfaction away from me.
JAMIEWell next time I’ll make a big deal out of it. But you always talked about having a little humility from what I remember.
MARTHAI did. I did indeed. People around here should have some humility. They never did anything that amounted to much of nothing but they go around bragging about it like they done got chiseled on Mount Rushmore. But when somebody done accomplished something real big, then you should make a big deal out of it.
JAMIEThank you, Momma. I’ll remember that, but this isn’t that big.
MARTHASays who? These people ain’t never done nothing for a presidential candidate ‘cept vote for him if they did that much. And you the one he turn to when he gotta raise some money. Now that’s something special to share with folks.
JAMIEIf you say so, Momma.
MARTHAGood. Come back soon because if I tell it myself people gonna think that I’m just bragging.
MARTHAAll that hard work. Done finally started to really pay itself off now, hasn’t it? Hasn’t it, James?
JAMESGuess it has. (To Jamie.) How much you getting paid for this fund-raising?
MARTHAThat’s not the point though just now. What matters is this is what he’s been working for all these years and it done paid off just now. Otherwise it would be another four years before he’d get this opportunity. (Pause.) How much, Jamie?
MARTHASee. James, they pay him enough. (Pause.) Which is?
JAMIEEnough, momma. That’s not polite talk, remember? Didn’t you always tell me that?
MARTHAI was talking about with just everyday folks. This is among family.
Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround at Berkeley Rep on Monday, December 19, 2011 at 8pm and choose your own favorite!