When I Wake


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  1. #1

    When I Wake

    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.
    SAMAEL
    Hello.

    HUGH continues walking past.
    Hello!
    HUGH
    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
    words.)
    ...lots to do.
    HUGH
    Yes.
    (Beat)
    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...
    HUGH
    (No longer able to contain his anxiety)
    My watch is gone!
    SAMAEL
    (Confidently)
    Itís on your dresser. As I was saying, people build
    houses...
    HUGH
    Maybe.
    SAMAEL
    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
    drift.
    SAMAEL
    When you take your watch off where do you usually place
    it?
    HUGH
    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
    (Distracted.)
    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
    people.
    HUGH
    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
    that...
    HUGH
    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
    (Simultaneously)
    ...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
    What?
    SAMAEL
    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.
    (Beat.)
    Youíve tried before on your own, but that didnít work
    out so good.
    "PS: don't take technical advice about cold fusion from someone who can't spell fuzhun."

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  2. #2
    Here's the second half.
    HUGH
    Who the hell are you? Has my wife been talking to
    you? What has the little tramp been saying about me
    this time?
    SAMAEL
    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
    fourteen.
    HUGH
    That! That’s what I’m talking about. How would you
    know that?
    SAMAEL
    Know what?
    HUGH
    Know exactly how many beers I had last night.
    SAMAEL
    One, two, or fourteen?
    HUGH
    You know damn well I had fourteen!
    SAMAEL
    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
    prosecutor.
    HUGH
    Lawyer huh. Hey bud, how many lawyers does it take to
    screw in a light bulb?
    SAMAEL
    I don’t know, how many?
    HUGH
    Only one. If you have one lawyer you can screw
    anything.
    HUGH starts to exit again.


    SAMAEL
    Ha! That’s pretty good!
    (Beat.)
    Say...

    HUGH stops moving but doesn’t turn back.
    Did you hear about the man who used to beat his wife?
    HUGH
    (Pause)
    No. I didn’t.
    SAMAEL
    She killed him in his sleep. Bashed his head in with a
    hammer.
    HUGH
    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.
    SAMAEL
    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.

    (Sarcastic)
    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
    them!
    HUGH
    I suppose some people do.
    SAMAEL
    Oh yes. They certainly do. Do you want to know the
    truly sad part?
    (Beat)
    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.
    HUGH
    Samuel...
    SAMAEL
    No. "Sam-Ah-El." It’s Hebrew. Want to know what it
    means?
    HUGH
    (Mocking)
    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.
    SAMAEL
    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
    go?
    HUGH
    I...I’m...Where? I can’t think. I don’t know. I
    can’t remember. Why can't I remember!?
    SAMAEL
    (Sardonically.)
    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
    Oh God...
    SAMAEL
    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 END
    Any comments?
    "PS: don't take technical advice about cold fusion from someone who can't spell fuzhun."

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  3. #3
    Member Sonofjoe's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
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    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.
    Beer, Cigs, Caffeine, Fry-ups & Chocolate Cake. Always make sure you get your five a day!

  4. #4
    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


  5. #5
    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!
    "PS: don't take technical advice about cold fusion from someone who can't spell fuzhun."

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by vangoghsear View Post
    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
    Criticism is always subjective, but never be ignorant.

  7. #7
    My countering Beckett's statement wasn't intentional; I just noticed after you mentioned it . 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."
    "PS: don't take technical advice about cold fusion from someone who can't spell fuzhun."

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  8. #8
    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.

  9. #9
    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.
    "PS: don't take technical advice about cold fusion from someone who can't spell fuzhun."

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