The people have spoken... The March People's Choice Award goes to Takeo Rivera for his short play, Feminist Valhalla, presented as a staged reading at the “HerStory”-inspired Monday Night PlayGround on March 16 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Takeo!
Courtesy of Mr. Rivera, we're pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!
by Takeo Rivera
Cast in order of appearance
AUDRE – Black female, late 50s to early 60s
HATSHEPSUT – Black female, late 40s to early 50s
GABRIELA – Filipina female, early 30s
FRIDA – Mexican female, early to late 40s
JOAN – White female, late teens to early 20s
CAROL – white female, early to mid 40s; also plays OFFSTAGE TV VOICE
All action takes place in Feminist Valhalla, the mythical, glorious afterlife for fierce women who have fought for liberation. Stage can either be bare and abstract, or ridiculously adorned like a fire-lit hall from Norse myth.
AUDRE – loose-fitting and colorful 20th century poet’s garb
HATSHEPSUT- as an Egyptian pharaoh, including false beard
GABRIELA – colonial Spanish-inflected traditional clothes
FRIDA – anything you’d associate with Frida Kahlo, really
JOAN – something medieval, preferably armor
CAROL – contemporary boardroom CEO pantsuit
Huge claymore-like sword, TV, easel, chairs, chessboard, briefcase full of resumés
This work is entirely a work of fiction. Although the characters represented here are loosely inspired by historical figures, it is in no way depicting any actual events or even behaviors.
“//”indicates overlapping lines
It is a leisurely day in Feminist Valhalla, the glorious feminist afterworld. The honored heroes lounge around doing various activities: AUDRE lazily sits in front of a TV watching Top Chef. HATSHEPSUT and GABRIELA sit opposite one another intensely concentrating on a chess match. FRIDA is in one corner carefully focusing on painting a self-portrait.
OFFSTAGE TV VOICE
And for this week’s challenge, you will have to cook braised chickens.... with the lights off. DUN-DUN! And no knives! DUN-DUN!
Audre, shut off the damn TV.
Just let me watch ‘til the elimination part.
I can’t hear myself think and I’m getting my ass whupped. [moves a chess piece]
Honey, we’re in Feminist Valhalla. Last time I checked, I can do whatever I damn want up here after a lifetime of service.
All you did is write a bunch of poems. I could do that with my eyes closed.
Yeah, well, at least I succeeded at something, Mrs. I’m Gonna Lead a Filipino Resistance Struggle to Its Death in the Eighteenth Century.
HATSHEPSUT quietly moves her piece. GABRIELA glares frustratingly, eyeing the board carefully. The OFFSTAGE TV VOICE kicks back in and AUDRE pays close attention.
OFFSTAGE TV VOICE
You’ll have to work as teams to slaughter the chickens with your bare hands. And you’ll have to impress guest judges Taylor Swift and Donald Rumsfeld with your original culinary creations.
Ohmygod shut off that trash. Frida! Help me out, here!
How the hell can you work with Audre’s Top Chef on full blast? [moves piece]
Because.... I am my own muse. I am all I need. (beat) Besides, Feminist Ragnarok can happen any day now. We must make the most of all we can.
(beat) This is why I don’t talk to you.
Frida’s right, you know. The shitty thing with a Norse-themed afterlife is that it all comes crashing down eventually. Ragnarok. End of days! Glorious battle!
HATSHEPSUT moves her piece and checkmates GABRIELA. GABRIELA is pissed, and HATSHEPSUT is delighted.
Checkmate. Ante up. You owe me twenty. // Haha!
[reaches into her pocket, gives HATSHEPSUT a twenty dollar bill] // That ain’t fair. Chess wasn’t even invented in fifteen hundred BC or whenever your mummy ass died. Neither was paper money, for that matter.
But you know what we had in the Eighteenth Dynasty? Brains. I know because we kept them in canopic jars. (beat) Wait, did we?
GABRIELA puts up both her middle fingers at HATSHEPSUT, who blows her a kiss in return. GABRIELA turns to AUDRE.
This is your fault.
You just don’t want to admit that a fierce Black sister is better than you at something.
AUDRE and HATSHEPSUT acknowledge each other and throw fists up. GABRIELA rolls her eyes. Suddenly, JOAN rushes in, clutching her massive sword.
I have a vision! I have a vision!!!
Well, good afternoon to you, too, Joan.