Friday, November 22, 2013

November People's Choice Award

The people have spoken... The November People's Choice Award goes to Maury Zeff for his short musical, Love Spacewalked In, presented as a staged reading at the capacity-crowd Monday Night PlayGround Musical Theatre Night on November 18 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Maury!

Courtesy of Mr. Zeff, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!

by Maury Zeff

Cast in Order of Appearance:

LIEUTENANT KIP STRONGBOW – Astronaut – Male – 40s – Any race –All-American astronaut made from the Top Gun fighter pilot mold. He spent much of his astronaut career earthbound, since NASA’s budgets dried up just as he reached his prime years. He is thrilled to get this crack at a mission before he is too old to be sent into space. Realizing that this may be his first and only space mission, he hopes to squeeze as much glory out of it as possible.

CAPTAIN NORMAN “BUZZ” GLICKSTEIN - Astronaut – Male – 30s or 40s – White – In the vein of the great astronaut-nerds who willed their way into space through sheer intellectual horsepower, Norman has always excelled at the more cerebral aspects of the job. Not so much the physical demands. He absolutely hates zero gravity. Please call him “Buzz,” although nobody does.

HOUSTON – Disembodied voice – Male – Any age – Any race – The ubiquitous Houston control center voice from every NASA-related space movie you’ve ever seen. Should be crackly and officious. On top of being efficient-sounding, Houston is morose. His girlfriend recently dumped him. Until his conversation with Valentina on page 7 turns flirtatious, Houston should speak in the desultory tones of a broken man.

RAFAEL DUNWOODY – Mogul – Male – 20s or 30s – Any race       – Founder of a global conglomerate of media properties, telecommunications companies, Internet businesses, airlines, and a space exploration company. He is an adventurer of the highest order, a risk-taker extraordinaire, and an egomaniac par excellence. He has been invited along on this mission in the interest of promoting greater collaboration between NASA and private industry.

LIEUTENANT VALENTINA BLAZHENOV – Cosmonaut, technical wiz, zero gravity handiwoman – Female – 20s or 30s – White, with a Russian accent – Valentina is the hardest working person in the interplanetary space business. She is the personification of “If you want a job done, do it yourself.” Whether it’s reprogramming a dust collection satellite or hanging pictures that won’t look crooked in zero gravity, she’s your cosmonaut. She is also an intergalactic femme fatale, turning spacemen’s helmets wherever she goes across the galaxy. She has worked hard to achieve this level of skill and recognition, but she has not given herself enough ‘Valentina Time’: She almost never gets to her parents dacha in the country on weekends, rarely stops to smell the chamomile, and has not taken the time to find the right petro-oligarch to settle down and have little Sputniks with.

Featuring the George and Ira Gershwin song “Love Walked In.”
Note about the music: When Kip sings the first few lines of the song on page 3 and Norman does the same on page 6, they should sing it in the torchy style in which it was recorded in the 1930s. But during the bigger musical number, the cast should sing it in the more upbeat style in which Frank Sinatra recorded it in 1961.

SETTING: Five miles above the lunar surface. The Pluto 1 is orbiting the moon, tracking the movements of an unmanned specimen collection module that has been sent down to explore and collect samples of lunar dust and rocks. The astronauts have been in space for three weeks and are getting a little sick of each other. They are in zero gravity.

CAPTAIN NORMAN “BUZZ” GLICKSTEIN and LIEUTENANT KIP STRONGBOW sit at different places in the spacecraft. They are “strapped” to their seats. When people move around the spacecraft, they should “float” as astronauts do in zero gravity. Actors should have fun with the simulation of a gravity-free environment, remembering that they will also have to use their hands to bounce off the “ceiling” and “walls” of the craft as they walk/float around.

New coordinates coming in from Pluto 2 on the lunar surface.

Let me have ‘em.

30 degrees longitude, 47 degrees latitude.

Okay, at 32, 49, have Pluto 2 collect another sample of rocks and dust.

KIP presses some buttons on the “computer.”

(Into the “microphone.”) Houston, this is Captain Buzz Glickstein on Pluto 1. We are collecting lunar samples at 32 long and 49 lat. Pluto 2 is operating smoothly. All systems are go. I repeat, all systems are go. Over.

Norman, this is Houston. Copy. Proceed with flight plan as indicated. Over. (Exaggerated sigh.)

Houston, this is Buzz Glickstein on Pluto 1. Copy. Over. (To KIP.) What’s wrong with him?

His girlfriend dumped him. Been a mess for months. [Taking notes] What do you think? “So that future generations of mankind may leap forward, we take this modest step of understanding.”

You are not going to have a Neil Armstrong moment where you get to say something profound.

(Making edits to the page in front of him.) Hmm, how about this? “From our smallish gait, we produce a huge bound for all of mankind.”

Americans will not be gathered around their TVs waiting for transmission of us sorting through moon dust. And, anyway, you’re totally plagiarizing Armstrong.

All great literature is derivative. Armstrong copped it from Churchill’s ‘We will fight them on the beaches’ speech.

No, he didn’t. Space travel wasn’t exactly front of mind during the Battle of Britain.

I have one request: When the transmission goes live, can I make the announcement to the world?

Kip…Lieutenant Strongbow, our mission has been christenened Pluto 1. We are named after a downgraded former planet. (Pause.) We are in space, collecting rocks that will be catalogued at NASA to reveal the same minerals we’ve been studying for decades. I wish this was a more high profile endeavor, but it just isn’t. We will land, the doctors will check us out, we will drive home on I-95 to our suburban homes, and the minivan drivers in the next lane will have no idea that we were orbiting the surface of the moon only two days earlier.

Don’t you think there should be more to it though?

More what?

More, I don’t know… More recognition…More humanity.

More connection?

Yes, more than just flying around collecting rocks. It should matter to someone other than geologist nerds in some laboratory. This trip should somehow change us, make us better.

Change us?

Opening bars to ‘Love Walked In’ begin to play.

Yes, something is missing. (Unstrapping himself, standing, beginning to sing and float around.)
Nothing seems to matter anymore,
Don’t care what I am headed for,
Time is standing still,
No one counts till…
(Sighs. Music ends. Sits down, straps himself back in.) I just can’t put my finger on what’s missing…

NORMAN looks thoughtful. RAFAEL DUNWOODY zero gravity-walks in.

(Matter-of-factly, carrying the Wall Street Journal.)
Head’s not draining, guys.


Join us for the next Monday Night PlayGround on Monday, December 16, at Berkeley Rep and choose your own favorite. Click here for more info.


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