View Full Version : When I Wake

August 30th, 2010, 01:50 PM
When I Wake

One act drama, for "black box theater"
type production. Minimalist set. The stage is dark except
for a few shafts of light. SAMAEL, a man of indeterminate
late middle age possibly fifty or sixty, is alone on stage under one of the shafts of light. HUGH, a middle aged businessman,
enters walking briskly past.

HUGH continues walking past.
Are you speaking to me?SAMAEL

(Looks around, then laughs.)
Weíre the only ones here. So, yes.HUGH
Look, Iím kind of busy. I have...SAMAEL AND HUGH

(Simultaneously, but HUGH trails off
when he notices SAMAEL echoing his
...lots to do.HUGH

I decided today that I am going to make some changes in
my life.SAMAEL
Did you? Now that is interesting.HUGH
I donít know why I told you that. I donít know you. I
donít usually speak to people I donít know.SAMAEL
Most people donít.HUGH
Donít what?SAMAEL
Speak to people they donít know -- not really
anyway. Not much beyond a simple greeting, or enough
words to transact some insignificant piece of business,
or another.

HUGH impatiently looks at his wrist for his watch
and notices it is gone. He looks around on the
floor, checks his pockets, oblivious to SAMAEL.
People build houses to avoid contact with other people,
concrete, steel, brick, and wood shelters with heavy
draped windows and steel doors locked to keep...

(No longer able to contain his anxiety)
My watch is gone!SAMAEL

Itís on your dresser. As I was saying, people build
I assure you, they do.HUGH
No. I mean, maybe that is where my watch is. Then
again, maybe not.SAMAEL
Thatís where it is.HUGH
How can you know that?SAMAEL
I know people. You took it off last night, right?HUGH
I guess so. I mean, I must have, but I donít really
remember. Last night was a little hazy, if you get my
When you take your watch off where do you usually place
On the dresser.SAMAEL
Thatís where it is. Itís on your dresser. No one
stole it -- if that is what you are thinking. People
are so quick to accuse each other of truly awful
things. Itís a shame really. Where has trust
gone? Itís like I was saying about building houses.HUGH
I donít care to hear about this right now.SAMAEL
Your watch isnít going anywhere. Itís in your
house. People supposedly build houses as shelters for
themselves, but what they are really doing is creating
a shelter for their things. Their possessions spend
more time locked in those windowed boxes than the
people do. The people are out trying their darnedest
to find the means to get more things. So, I ask you,
are houses shelters for the people, or are they mostly
protection for their stuff?HUGH

Maybe I lost it? But I donít really remember putting
it on this morning. I really donít remember much about
this morning.

(Rubs his temples.)
My head is killing me.SAMAEL
Itís on your dresser. Trust me. I know people. You
took it off last night and put it on the
dresser. People are also so quick to worry over
things. What was it that Jesus said about
worry? Something like, who of you by worrying can add
a single hour to his life?" Or something like
that. Wise man Jesus, problem is he doesnít know
I wouldnít know.SAMAEL
Yeah, see, my point exactly. Jesus says not to worry,
but people worry. Heís right of course. When you
think about it, what is a watch anyway? Just an object
Mineís a Rolex. Itís a work of art, An expensive work
of art.SAMAEL
Alright, just an "expensive work of art" that keeps
track of a man made abstract number system. Thatís all
that time is, an abstract number system. The
definition of "time" is "an indefinite period." To
quote the Chicago Transit Authority,-- the rock band,
not the actual transit Authority -- "Does anybody
really know what time it is, does anybody really..."HUGH
...Hey buddy, I donít care.SAMAEL
No, no. "...Really care. If so I canít imagine why,
weíve all got time enough to..."HUGH
Look, look. I donít mean to be rude, but Iím upset over
my watch, and I have to get about my business. Iím in
a bit of a hurry, I...SAMAEL AND HUGH

...have lots to do.SAMAEL
Yes, I remember. Youíre making changes in your
life. What? Like eating better --No more red meat for
you-- being a more loving husband and father, taking
time to smell the roses or at least look at them, that
sort of thing?HUGH
Yeah. I guess.SAMAEL

(Sinisterly precise)
You should have quit drinking yesterday.HUGH
Years ago really. Youíre a nasty drunk.HUGH
What did you just say?! Iím a what? To hell with you mister.

HUGH Starts to exit.SAMAEL
That is one of your big plans for today, isnít it?

HUGH stops and turns back.
One of your big life changes, right? You plan to find
help to quit drinking.

Youíve tried before on your own, but that didnít work
out so good.

August 30th, 2010, 01:51 PM
Here's the second half.
Who the hell are you? Has my wife been talking to
you? What has the little tramp been saying about me
this time?
I know people. That’s my job. You said that "last
night was hazy." You said that you "didn’t remember
much" and that today "you have a headache." Sounds
like you lost your memory in a bottle or two...or
That! That’s what I’m talking about. How would you
know that?
Know what?
Know exactly how many beers I had last night.SAMAEL
One, two, or fourteen?
You know damn well I had fourteen!
Temper, temper. Don’t lose that temper of
yours. That’s another of your goals for today. Right?HUGH
Are you a private investigator? No? Her lawyer? Is
that it? You are her lawyer and she’s been filling
your head with a bunch of stories...SAMAEL
I am a lawyer of sorts, actually I am more of a
Lawyer huh. Hey bud, how many lawyers does it take to
screw in a light bulb?
I don’t know, how many?
Only one. If you have one lawyer you can screw

HUGH starts to exit again.

Ha! That’s pretty good!


HUGH stops moving but doesn’t turn back.
Did you hear about the man who used to beat his wife?

No. I didn’t.SAMAEL
She killed him in his sleep. Bashed his head in with a

Turns back toward SAMAEL.
That’s not funny.SAMAEL
It’s a true story.HUGH
When did it happen.SAMAEL
Forty five minutes ago.HUGH
Forty-five...how did you find out about it? Do you
have a friend in the police department who sends you
text messages or something?SAMAEL

I know people.HUGH
Right. You’ve said that.
It’s funny, people build these houses -- these
shelters-- to protect themselves from other people...HUGH
No. No. That is not the only reason why people build
houses. How about the weather? People build houses to
stay out of the weather.SAMAEL
They need steel doors, locks and security systems to
keep them safe from the weather? Fine.

So, they have this house with locks on every orifice
and a state of the art alarm system linked to a
security service...and then they get drunk and beat up
someone who lives inside of their locked house with
I suppose some people do.SAMAEL
Oh yes. They certainly do. Do you want to know the
truly sad part?

The one they are abusing trusted them, loved them
maybe, at least at first, until the abuser got drunk
again and they got pushed and knocked around a few
times too many. I asked you earlier where trust has
gone. Sometimes, it gets beaten out of people.HUGH
Who the hell are you?SAMAEL
Who the hell indeed. You can call me Samael.
No. "Sam-Ah-El." It’s Hebrew. Want to know what it

Well Sam-Ah-El, I couldn’t care less. I’m going.

HUGH starts to exit again, then pauses with a
confused expression on his face.
Go on then. Don’t let me stop you.

(SAMAEL laughs at HUGH’s confusion.)
Go on, get the hell out of here.HUGH
Cut out the laughing! Just shut up!

SAMAEL moves toward HUGH.
Keep away from me!

(HUGH grabs his head head in pain.)
Ahh! God! My head is killing me!

SAMAEL takes another step towards HUGH.
Keep away, I said!SAMAEL
Whatever you say.

(Laughs again.)
Why don’t you tell me where it is you’re planning to
I...I’m...Where? I can’t think. I don’t know. I
can’t remember. Why can't I remember!?SAMAEL

What? You had all those big plans, all those things
you were going to do when you wake. Remember all those
big changes in your life.HUGH
Who the hell are you?SAMAEL
My name is...HUGH
"Samael," I remember. What’s it mean in Hebrew?SAMAEL
I like the way the Rolling Stones put it --the rock
group, not falling rocks-- "Guess my name..."HUGH
Not even close. Oh now wait a second. Literally my
name is "Poison of God." Let’s just say that the road
to where I live is paved with people’s "big undone life
changes." Changes they were going to make when they
wake, but the problem is, they never did wake.HUGH
I can change!SAMAEL
No you can’t. You don’t remember waking this morning
because you didn’t. Oh, and that watch of yours --I
mean the expensive work of art-- It’s not really on
your dresser. I lied about that. Your wife took it off your cold
limp arm around forty-five minutes ago. She's going to pawn it
later this morning. She needs getaway money.
She is planning to make some big changes in her life too.HUGH
You’re a liar! None of this is true!SAMAEL
I am a liar, but I did tell you one thing that was very
true...you should have quit drinking yesterday.

THE ENDAny comments?

August 30th, 2010, 08:33 PM
Just one - Brilliant.

No, loved it, my kind of pace and read you got me hooked. I'm glad you added the second half straight away otherwise I'd have been hitting the screen. I hope this piece goes further for you.

September 4th, 2010, 08:14 AM
This was a really interesting piece of work. It had a very clear and enjoyable rhythm throughout the dialogue. The first half echoed "Waiting for Godot" in its general structure, which is neat, but should be approached quite carefully. I thought that it was going to go in a very different direction than it did - and I'm glad you didn't try to pull a Beckett over this.

I loved the way you integrated the idea of the houses to develop from one of a philosophical endeavour to a very personal source - very clever. I started to figure out what was going on once Samael made the wife killing joke - it was quite a disturbing side of the character (given, it was a disturbing subject matter). I do think that this disturbing side of Samael could be developed further. At the moment, the voices of Samael and Hugh are a bit too similar. Samael definitely is slower paced, but I feel he is lacking some depth. It would be interesting to see him slowly reveal a darker side to his character before we have the revelation of Hughís actions. He is the Angel of Death, no? This characterture has been done many times Ė why not give him a bit of an edge? This will also help deter cynical minds (such as mine) away from seeing the first half of the script as an overly ambitious attempt at a post-modern script - which it is not.

Also, although very minor, I need to point out that when Hugh says, ďTo hell with you misterĒ in the first act...I really disliked the use of the word ďmisterĒ. I felt it was a young personís way of addressing someone, not to mention the fact that he has just been called a nasty drunk by this man Ė why does he have any respect for him at all? I donít know, it just didnít seem to be consistent with Hughís character.

I would also like to see more revealed about the kind of person Hugh is. Perhaps lead the audience down a different path Ė establish that this man was in fact successful, and the eyes of many, a moral man. If you wanted to explore the concept of abuse behind closed doors, it might be interesting to first explore what the rest of the world sees, and slowly reveal the darker side of it (which I think you have started to do). This is of course only if you wanted to extend the script, as it is quite short. There is a lot in there, and it would be great to see it pursued further.

Thank you for sharing :)

September 6th, 2010, 02:16 PM
Thanks for your comments Sonofjoe, I appreciate the compliments.

Nightsarah, interesting take on the play. I saw a very good production of waiting for Godot recently. I think that I wrote this before going to that, but I was familiar with the play before as well. Mine begins almost counter to Beckett, with my character saying "Lots to do" where Beckett says "Nothing to be done."

Good spot on "Mister" someone else also told me that once. I think since more than one person have a problem with that, I need to make a change.

Thanks for reading!

September 6th, 2010, 03:31 PM
I think that I wrote this before going to that, but I was familiar with the play before as well. Mine begins almost counter to Beckett, with my character saying "Lots to do" where Beckett says "Nothing to be done."

Interesting. May I ask why you have chosen to counter Estragon's words? It doesn't really seem like you are countering any of the existential philosophies in the piece...rather you seem to be somewhat adhering to them with your conceptualisation of the angel of death. Estragon statement completely encapsulates the fatalist philosophy....by countering this it almost suggests you are trying to create an idealistic refute to his work.

Just thought I'd provide a little dramaturgical POV there :P

September 7th, 2010, 01:17 PM
My countering Beckett's statement wasn't intentional; I just noticed after you mentioned it :neutral:. It's an observation after the fact. However, my character is dead and doesn't realize it, he believes his life has meaning found in the things he will do. Estragon is alive and searching for the point to it, or questioning if there is a point other than life itself. So, there is a strange sort of contrast in the character's belief and Estragon's statement.

Estragon statement completely encapsulates the fatalist philosophy.

It really does doesn't it. I saw the play with a director of a local professional theater company and I said to him, "That opening statement says it all."

February 18th, 2011, 12:13 PM
You have an excellent feel for dialogue.

I was uneasy listening to Hugh wanting to move on and not doing so. As the Director, what motivation would you give to the actor to stand still and listen, when all the time he has somewhere to go? Later on I accept there is a mongoose- cobra reason, but at the beginning?

And again what motivation would you suggest for Hugh to blurt out, so early:

I decided today that I am going to make some changes in
my life.

For this to work (for me) they have to be obliged to stay together. There has to be a restriction imposed (not dustbins) on their movement, so that when one speaks the other has to hear it.

Thatís where it is. Itís on your dresser. No one
stole it -- if that is what you are thinking.

I became aware of the parallel with 'Godot' at this ^ point in the script and wondered how it would develop. The honest answer is, not much. The dialogue is strong and flowing and more revelations are made, but it doesn't seem to change the dynamics of either of them individually or towards each other or did I miss something(s)?

I've just read my comments back and it sounds as though I didn't enjoy it - for the avoidance of doubt - I did. Super dialogue.

February 26th, 2011, 08:17 PM
Thanks quertyman for your comments and suggestions. Glad you liked the dialog. I see your point about the need to superimpose a restriction requiring them to stay together. If I do anything more with this, I may make that change.

I made him blurt out about changing because I wanted it to feel like a cleansing moment for him. Once admitted, it's harder to go back. It shows his dedication to the desire to change.

Thanks again, good insights.