Silence is Golden
by K. Brian Neel
© 2007, all rights reserved
As the Band plays transition music, the six girls enter with sleeping bags, some dancing to the music, some protesting having to go to sleep, etc. The song ends.
BAND: Alright girls, time to go to sleep.
The girls protest with hems and haws, but get into their sleeping bags.
BAND: Tomorrow's a big family day.
NICE: Okay, Band. I love you.
BITCH: Mamma's girl.
BAND: Lights out.
SCARE: Bad things happen when lights go out.
FREAK: Marsupials thrive.
They attempt to settle down, achieving it at first. But little spasms of activity ensue. Mary comes out of her bag and addresses the audience. The others don't seem to hear.
MARY: Be careful what you ask for, they say. I remember watching movies with my dad on the couch in our apartment, eating microwave popcorn. Just the two of us. It was nice. But sometimes I'd feel... bored. I'd fantasize about a big family, not brothers and sisters. Too late for that. But cousins. That sounded cool. Careful what you wish for.
The others begin talking, softly at first. Some have flashlights.
FREAK: I changed my own diapers once, when I was a baby.
BITCH: No way.
FREAK: That was my first memory.
NICE: You've always been very smart, Freak.
GIGGLE: It's just like using toilet paper, only it's wet nappies, right Bitch?
BITCH: You can't change your own diapers. It's a matter of brain development.
SCARE: Shh. Someone's dying.
SCARE: 32 thousand people die each minute in this world.
BITCH: And you heard one, huh Scary?
SCARE: Yea. A little girl was buried alive. I heard her last gasp for air.
GIGGLE: I saw that movie. It was funny. Blood shooted out of their arm holes and their neck holes when the heads were chopped off.
NICE: You're not old enough to watch gory movies, Giggle.
GIGGLE: My mom and dad don't care. But they cover my eyes when people kiss or get naked.
BITCH: I have a forty two inch plasma t.v. in my room. I can watch anything I want on the Dish Network. I saw Saw and Saw II and Saw III.
FREAK: Parents show caring with restrictions, Bitch.
BITCH: What are you laughing at?
GIGGLE: Freaky said erections.
BITCH: She said restrictions.
GIGGLE: I don't know what that means.
BITCH: You're such a goat.
NICE: Mary? Do you get to watch R-rated movies?
Everyone turns to the new girl.
MARY: I used to before dad married into the Band. (To audience) I felt like an explorer visiting a primitive tribe in South America for the first time. Discovering the local customs, learning the language little bits at a time: Tree. Rock. Family.
SCARE: You were better off before, with just your dad. This whole family is repressed.
NICE: My mom and dad and I watch Veggie Tales every night before I go to bed.
SCARE: Singing vegetables are torture.
FREAK: Like the Catholic inquisition.
NICE: (singing) Vegetables are good for you…
BITCH: If we ignore her, she’ll stop.
SCARE: Just like that Christmas when we all ignored Nice for the whole day. And her mom and dad got all crossy (makes the sign of the cross) on Bitch, and said prayers at her, trying to exorcise the devil.
BITCH: I get blamed for everything.
SCARE: It was your idea.
BITCH: Wanna buy a bridge?
SCARE: I don't like you.
BITCH: But you can't ignore me.
FREAK: Cruel children, crying babies: All grow up as geese and gabies.
GIGGLE: You said gabies!
BITCH: I know a secret about you: She was born in and insane asylum.
FREAK: Shut up!
The noise is too much for Band to ignore.
BAND: Girls. What’s going on over there?
NICE: Nothing, Band.
BAND: That’s enough.
They’re silent. Then...
MARY: Is that true? Your parents are mentally ill?
FREAK: They were. Dad inseminated mom in a padded cell. I was born in the infirmary. But now they’re in the band.
FREAK: That’s my name, don’t ware it out.
MARY: Do you all hate each other?
NICE: And no. (pause) Remember Easter? In the morning, we woke up and were going to hunt for eggs, but the night before we planned a rebellion. We agreed to not find any eggs. We were all walking around, looking around like we were stupid or something. And it was at Bitch’s house with that huge yard. And we keep going back and forth for, like, a long time. And even the eggs that were right out in the open, we’d just say, “Where? I don’t see it.” And the Band…
GIGGLE: The band never caught on.
FREAK: Yes they did.
NICE: Eventually. But they loved it. Thought it was hysterical. They let us go. And the hunt lasted, like, five hours. And we’re laughing.
BITCH: Band had to get the eggs eventually.
GIGGLE: They didn’t even find some. The Easter Bunny hides hard ones sometimes.
MARY: (To audience) As I listened to the story of the year of the Easter rouse, that’s when I realized I’d be okay in this family. I liked hearing their lore, and witnessing their conflict, and though we are all different, we’ll find ways to get along.
The band begins to play behind Mary’s speech.
Ways to be tolerant, find compromise, support each other at times, and be flexible our own way.
GIGGLE: (Together) Who’s she talking to?
FREAK: (Together) She’s the freak.
MARY: (To audience) Nice’s dad is the drummer. Her mom, percussion. Freak’s mom plays bass. Her dad sing’s backup. Giggle? Her dad blows woodwinds and her mom’s a groupie. They smoke pot. And Bitch’s parents: lead singer and lead guitar, of course. And my parents play rhythm guitar. Together, they are the band. And we are a family.
They sing and dance a slumber number (possibly to the tune of Billy Joel’s Innocent Man). They raise pillows and spiral their legs in a way that would make Esther Williams proud.
MARY: (singing) A girl cannot choose the family who
FREAK: (singing) Circles her life like a hungry hawk.
GIGGLE: (singing) Even if you’re a flower blooming out by the hour,
BITCH: (singing) Chances are you’ll be plucked and withered.
SCARE: (singing) Until your beauty and ‘fume are rancid and strewn
NICE: (singing) Across a psychiatrist’s helpful room.
MARY: (singing) But once or twice a year, there’s the chance to be near
SCARE: (singing) Other innocent victims.
ALL:(singing) For we am cousins!
Oh, yes we am,
NICE : (singing) We join in camaraderie telling confusing stories.
GIGGLE: (singing) And bonding to a common enemy.
BITCH: (singing) Though we know it all, and unjustly are stalled
FREAK: (singing) By the band’s random adult wisdom.
ALL: (singing) We know they are wrong.
For we am cousins.
Oh, yes we am,
Oh, yes we am,
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