FICTION FRIDAY: The Place Where You Started–a libretto

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I’ve just finished collaborating on an opera with my husband, which will open in Portland in November. I wrote the libretto (script) he wrote all the music (much harder than the script). We developed the story together. This is the first act–about a five to eight minute read. The synopsis is just below the cast list should you only want to read that. I may post the rest, should anyone like it. It’s modern, funny, and toward the end, tragic. Enjoy.

Characters

Meredith – Frustrated writer
Macario – Gardner
Steve – Meredith’s long-time, underachieving boyfriend Brianne* – Steve’s sister-in-law
Brendan☩ – Steve’s brother
Samantha – Meredith’s agent

Soprano Baritone

Synopsis

A literary phenomena at age 19, Meredith never imagined that now, some years later, she would be writing un-produced screenplays and teaching part time at a community college.

Macario finds peace working as a landscaper and gardener. These daily tasks help keep him from becoming consumed with memories of a terrible tragedy in his past.

Through a chance encounter, Meredith and Macario discover they have much in common and form an unlikely friendship, transforming them both. But a petty act of jealousy will tear the friendship apart.

The Place Where You Started is about living fully in the moment, not being held hostage to past decisions, and discovering a future wide open to possibilities.

 

 

*Each scene should proceed immediately and without pause into the next. The one exception being between scenes 4 & 5, where a significant pause should be taken.

Duration: ca. 1 hour and 35 minutes 3

SCENE 1

(Lights up on MEREDITH in the living room of a small, very modest Southern California bungalow. There are hints of a window, a door to the outside, a door to another room. MEREDITH is sitting in front of an open laptop, staring at the screen.)

MEREDITH

Why is this hard?
Why is this so difficult?
It never took so long
To write a simple line of dialog

Stuck in a rut with a –
What?
A black cursor on a blank page

How can I not write this?
This should be easy
Samantha said it would be easy

Write it in a week or two.
It’s been three weeks instead

And I’m banging my head

Night and day

Be romantic, Meredith!
Be sexy, Meredith!
Be everything, but don’t be you, Meredith!

It’s good girl meets bad boy

Fantasy romance
I know how this goes
And yet I got nothin’.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself

Just do it.
Come on, let’s go.

Oh!
I just received an email
Turn off your goddamn email!

Focus, Meredith, focus Here I go  (She writes)

 

FADE IN

Lucinda and Roland…

(Lights come up on LUCINDA, hip virgin and ROLAND, brooding, sexy vampire – think “Twilight.” They sing dialog as MEREDITH writes.)

LUCINDA

Roland – I’m excited And nervous
But I feel safe with you.

ROLAND

You should not feel safe with me, Lucinda Ever

LUCINDA

But I do
You’ll never convince me you’re evil

ROLAND

I’ve done terrible things

LUCINDA

I see kindness in your eyes

ROLAND

You’re so innocent

Vulnerable to the world
A world that takes advantage

That is my world

LUCINDA

I want to see your world

ROLAND

I will show you things you cannot imagine

Terrifying things
Wonderful things
Things no mortal should ever see

LUCINDA

I want to see

ROLAND

I want to show you

 

LUCINDA

I want to spread my wings

ROLAND

Spread your wings and let me in – To your mind

(ROLAND takes LUCINDA’s hands)

LUCINDA

(Reacting to his cold hands)

Ah!
Your hands are so cold

ROLAND

You smell like life

LUCINDA

Smell me, Roland, smell me!

(ROLAND and LUCINDA freeze in their current position)

MEREDITH

Smell me?

(Lights down on ROLAND and LUCINDA)

Is this the best I can do? I can do better
I’m better than this

Vampire romance sickly sweet

Uninspired fantasy

How did I get here?

Once a “literary phenomenon”
A fresh new voice!
Endless potential
The New Yorker at nineteen!
“On the threshold of a spectacular career!”

That’s what they said

But I chose film
Derailed by flickering promises of fame and fortune

 

Ah well, too late to undo

I might have been more

There were no guarantees

But I was on the right track

On my way

People believed in me, heard of me I want that time back

I want to rewind
Start again, start over, have another chance!

I’ve wasted so much time!

Is this the best I can do?
I can do better
I’m better than this
I want to be better than this I want…

(STEVE emerges from somewhere)

STEVE

I want a beer
Do we have any beer?

(Opens the fridge – success!) (Opening beer)

How is it going?

MEREDITH

It’s not

STEVE

Want a beer?

MEREDITH

No

STEVE

Hungry?

MEREDITH

Nope

STEVE

 

Wanna watch TV?

MEREDITH

(Getting frustrated)

No

STEVE

(Thinking, taking a long moment)

Want to…fool around?

MEREDITH

(Thinking, shrugs)

Okay

(Fast lights down. End of scene 1)

 

SCENE 2

(The next morning. MEREDITH is getting coffee. Her laptop is open on the table as it was in the opening of scene 1. MEREDITH’s cell phone rings.)

MEREDITH

(Answering)

Hi, Samantha

(Fast lights up on SAMANTHA, wearing a power suit. SAMANTHA is located somewhere on stage indicating that she is calling from her office.)

SAMANTHA

Hi, honey!
Is it going well?
Are you almost finished?
The studio loved your treatment

They had some notes:

Make it more romantic
More sexy
But not too much!
Lucinda should be sweet and innocent

But not too much!

They have other writers working
But don’t worry, you’re their first choice I know you’ll get the offer
If you finish soon
No pressure
But finish soon!

How about tomorrow?
Is that possible?
This is such an opportunity

You’ll be set

You’re on your way

On the “A” list
Their go-to writer

We’ll be on our way! So finish soon

Can you finish soon?
I know you’ll finish soon

Remember: keep it hot

Make it steamy
But not too much!

 

Roland should be dark and dangerous

But not too much!
I’d love to send them a draft
Perhaps tomorrow, or Wednesday?

No pressure

But finish soon!

I know you will
You’re perfect for this

Just the right voice
You always come through

Know how to deliver

Work well under pressure

You’re on your way
We’re on our way
So finish soon

Let’s get a draft to them tomorrow, or Wednesday

But no later than that
Call me when you’re finished
Once you’re finished

I can send it to them
Before the other writers
Don’t forget the other writers
But you are their first choice

Make sure you’re their first choice

No pressure!
But finish soon!

Okay, honey Call me!

(SAMANTHA hangs up. Lights off her quickly. Beat. MEREDITH’s phone rings again. Fast lights up on SAMANTHA.)

SAMANTHA

Oh, I almost forgot
Can I bring anything on Saturday? No?

Okay, honey
Call me!

(SAMANTHA hangs up. Fast lights down again. MEREDITH sits down at the computer.)

MEREDITH

Finish soon

 

Tomorrow?
Don’t sleep
More coffee
I can do this
It’s just girl meets boy

Who wants to bite girl

(She takes a deep breath as she begins to type. Lights back up on LUCINDA and ROLAND)

LUCINDA

You can’t understand how I feel

ROLAND

I can see into your soul

LUCINDA

You only see my youth

ROLAND

Your beauty is eternal

LUCINDA

Beauty is fleeting
My body has a sell-by date!

ROLAND

I…don’t understand

LUCINDA

I’m on the clock here, Roland! Yesterday I found a gray hair

Down there!

ROLAND

Um…

(Sound of a weed-whacker – loud. It’s coming from outside Meredith’s house. LUCINDA and ROLAND freeze momentarily. The weed-whacker stops and MEREDITH sighs and continues.)

LUCINDA

Roland, aren’t you hungry?

 

ROLAND

You have no idea!

LUCINDA

Then take me…

ROLAND

Never!

LUCINDA

(Pouty)

Don’t you want me?

ROLAND

More than anything

LUCINDA

Then what’s the problem?
Make me like you, and we’ll have eternity! Everybody’s happy

ROLAND

I will not condemn you to my existence

Roaming the night
Never aging

LUCINDA

As long as I’m young I’ll always be relevant

ROLAND

Frozen in time
In perpetual youth

LUCINDA

I don’t see the down side…

ROLAND

Ah, sweet innocent, pure, Lucinda

LUCINDA

Would you bite me already!

 

(Weed whacker. Everyone stops. Waits. MEREDITH aggressively erases last few lines, stabbing the “delete” button. She starts to type again, aggressively)

LUCINDA

I need more time…

ROLAND

Be careful what you wish for

LUCINDA

I wish to live forever!

ROLAND

Forever is damnation!

LUCINDA

Oh, don’t be dramatic!

ROLAND

I only want to protect you

LUCINDA

Okay, here we go!

ROLAND

You are my everything

Only you understand me

LUCINDA

Of course I do
You were born in the 18th Century
To you mouthwash is a technical marvel

ROLAND

(Wistfully)

It’s so minty…

LUCINDA

(Exposing her neck)

How about it, Roland, just a little nip You know you want to!

ROLAND

No!

 

LUCINDA

But I need more time to restart my career!

ROLAND

Wait…what?

(Hysterical weed-whacker. Lights off immediately from ROLAND and LUCINDA)

MEREDITH

Jesus!

(MEREDITH slams the computer closed and stomps over to the door to the outside and goes out. Lights up on MACARIO, who is yielding the weed-wacker and wearing ear protection)

MEREDITH

Excuse me! Excuse me!
Do you mind…?

MACARIO

(Jumps – surprised. MACARIO removes his ear protection.) My apologies, Señorita
I was not aware…

MEREDITH

Can you do that somewhere else?

MACARIO

I am sorry for the noise
But I noticed this area needed work

MEREDITH

Do you have to do it now?

MACARIO

No
It can wait (Turns to go)

MEREDITH

(Guilty)
Wait! I’m sorry Please – it’s not you

I forgot the day

 

MACARIO

It’s alright

MEREDITH

Please, continue

Anyway, I need a break

(MACARIO goes to put the ear protection back on.)

MEREDITH

Oh – may I ask you a question?

MACARIO

Of course

MEREDITH

I was thinking that some flowers here might be nice

Growing something might inspire
It’s just…
I don’t know how

MACARIO

It is not difficult
Depending on the flower
But they all require some attention

MEREDITH

I can learn
It would be good for me
Are Marigolds difficult to grow?

MACARIO

Not difficult
But they are…
(Attempting to translate internally) Not – nativo?

MEREDITH

Native! Of course
Hard to grow in the desert

MACARIO

(In his element)

Have you thought about… Cacti, aloe

 

MEREDITH

Succulents

MACARIO

Si

Zanzibar, agave, echeveria, rosea

Some even bloom with proper attention

Plenty of sun
Not too much water

MEREDITH

That sounds like a lot of work

MARCARIO

At first much work
But rewarding!
Working with nature

Calming the mind
One simple task to the next

Brings…paz interior

(Taps his chest)

Peace

MEREDITH

I could really use that

MACARIO

If you would like, Señorita, I can help you get started

Bring the right soil
Next Tuesday

Arrive a little early?
Show you how to elevate the ground

MEREDITH

Yes
And please, call me Meredith

MACARIO

Macario

Encantado

Next Tuesday then, Meredith

MEREDITH

Thank you

Gracias

 

(MACARIO puts ear protection back on. Lights down as MEREDITH goes back into the house and MACARIO goes to re-start the weed whacker. End of scene 2)

6 thoughts on “FICTION FRIDAY: The Place Where You Started–a libretto

  1. …”should anyone like it?” We can’t wait, and are trying to figure out how to get a back-row seat at the Portland premier. Not kidding. Not to overstate anything, but this could just be “it”. Goosebumps. xo m&s >

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