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Ahren Buhmann as Andrew, Roy Stanton as Colin. Photo by John Ulman.

Bliss Potential

produced at the 14/48 festival, 7/30/11. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "My Best Time Ever." My random actor draw: write a play for two men and zero women.

Lights up on a hotel room. COLIN, a rock star (preferably an aging one), is lying on a couch, wearing hotel bathrobe and slippers, writhing a bit, moaning softly, under the influence of the drug Ecstasy, but having a melancholy & lonely trip. On a coffee table in front of the couch is a large silver room service platter, but instead of plates and glasses on it, we see several tidy lines of white powder laid out, next to a small mountain of white powder, a small silver spoon, a razor blade, and a rolled up (hundred dollar) bill. The lid for the platter sits nearby. After watching this tableau for a few beats, a cell phone rings. Colin digs it out of his bathrobe pocket, checks the caller ID, and reluctantly decides to answer it.

COLIN: Now what? …. Who? …. No, I haven't forgotten. He sits up. It's a cover story, right? …. Yeah, whatever, I can dig it.... Of course I can manage without Suzanne, for fuck's sake. I'm a fucking professional... No, I'm not high on Ecstasy again, I always sound like this. Tell the front desk to send the guy up.

He hangs up, shakes his head a few times trying to sober up, maybe jumps up and down a bit to restore circulation. Almost as an afterthought he places the room service lid neatly over the platter to disguise his mound of white powder. A knock at the door, which he answers. Standing there is ANDREW, dressed neatly in adult hipster attire.

COLIN: You must be the “music journalist.”

ANDREW: Andrew Sellars, yeah. Is this a bad time?

COLIN: It's always a bad time, Andrew Sellars. Just get in here.

Andrew enters and Colin leads him to a chair near the couch; Colin resumes a reclining but not altogether disconnected position on the couch.

ANDREW: Thanks for making time to see me after your show. After closing night of your tour, no less! I know you must be exhausted.

COLIN: I'm wide awake actually.

ANDREW: Ah, excellent. He is actually quite nervous about this encounter. Before we start, I know it's not super professional to do this, but I just wanted to say – this is actually kind of... kind of a dream assignment for me.

COLIN taking an interest: Oh, I'm your “dream assignment,” am I, Andrew Sellars?

ANDREW: Absolutely. I saw you for the first time ten years ago in Chicago, at the Vic. I was actually there for the opening act but then we stayed to see your set, and over the counter muscle relaxers.

COLIN: “Mesmerized,” yeah you can say that, that's a perfectly good thing to say, “mesmerized.”

ANDREW: Exactly. I found a bootleg recording of that show, it's one of my prize possessions. Relaxes a little. Now I, uh, I do have the list of taboo topics your publicist sent me. I'm assuming that list is still accurate?

COLIN surprised: What list?

ANDREW: Uh, let me see if I can dig it up... Also surprised: You mean your publicist isn't actually here?

COLIN: Schedule mixup, she's in LA until tomorrow.

ANDREW ideas dawning: I see, well, I, uh... I'm sure I can dig up that list, I know I have it with me-

COLIN: Screw the list, Andrew Sellars, I'm feeling gregarious. Fire away, no topic is forbidden, I will provide you with an exclusive, one night only, no holds barred interview with the famously private rock star, Colin Hardison.

ANDREW not quite believing: Uh... Sure! Sure, and thank you! So... why don't we just dive right in then?

COLIN: I'm gonna dive right in, you betcha.

ANDREW pulls out a micro-recorder, turns it on, and places it on the coffee table: Let's talk about your new record for a start. It's... interesting.

COLIN: Don't lie to me, Andrew Sellars. Your entire aura turns an ugly shade of sinister orange when you lie.

ANDREW: It's an unusually acrimonious and personally revealing album for you. Every track seems to be a vicious and direct attack on what I presume is your ex-wife?

COLIN: That is an accurate presumption.

ANDREW: Why did you make that choice, at the risk of alienating your entire fan base who expect-

COLIN: Let me tell you a funny story about my “ex-wife.” Did you media bastards ever figure out why we divorced?

ANDREW: Actually no. Your handlers do a surprisingly good job keeping you completely out of sight.

COLIN: Did you notice anything unusual about the band lineup on this tour?

ANDREW: Uh, yeah – you've replaced Rob Eddie, your usual bass player.

COLIN: I've replaced him with a bass player who didn't secretly fuck my wife for several years, yes. Broke my heart.

ANDREW: Replacing Rob Eddie?

COLIN: No, you fuckwit, finding out my wife was sleeping with him. I loved her, you understand, like some ridiculous fairy tale – rock star marries high school sweetheart and lives happily ever after atop a pile of fame and money and Ecstasy. As an aside: I don't do cocaine, it makes me twitchy.

ANDREW: So you divorced her?

COLIN: No, Andrew Sellars, I offered to make a go of it, but she decided she'd had enough. Here's the hilarious thing. Somehow her lawyers worked it so she'd get 90% of the profit from the last remaining album on my recording contract, and the tour to support that album.

ANDREW: 90%? Even though she was at fault?

COLIN: She claimed all manner of distress because of my “selfish rock star lifestyle.”

ANDREW: That seems pretty non-specific.

COLIN: She had ammunition.

ANDREW: What kind of ammunition?

COLIN: Oh, you know... He casually removes the lid from the platter, revealing his mountain of drugs.

ANDREW momentarily stunned: That's... more specific. Pause. What's “hilarious” about all that?

COLIN: I decided if she was going to make so much money off that record, it might as well be all about her. That way every time she heard my songs on the radio, she'd hear me telling the whole world what a rotten human being she was, down deep to the core. Pause. She heard the master recording of the album for the first time the night before the tour opened.

ANDREW: How did she react?

Slowly Colin pulls a carefully preserved & folded handwritten letter out of his pocket and hands it to Andrew to read. Andrew takes it in while Colin very deliberately inhales another big line of Ecstasy.

ANDREW: This is a suicide note. Colin nods. When did you get this?

COLIN: The next morning.

ANDREW: Opening night of the tour? Colin nods again. I was at that show. I felt like I was at the wrong concert. The whole audiovisual palette was just... assaultive. Why didn't you cancel it? You had every right.

COLIN: Then the world would know what I had done to her.

ANDREW: But... this interview is on the record. The world is going to know.

COLIN: Yes. The tour is over. Time for my penance. Now if you'll excuse me, Andrew Sellars, I'm afraid I am... losing my taste for linear conversation.

He slowly slides onto his back on the couch, closes his eyes, and for all purposes, no longer notices Andrew. Andrew watches him sadly for a long moment, then collects his micro-recorder and goes to leave. But then, he stops – heads back to the couch, and carefully tucks the micro-recorder inside the pocket of Colin's robe. He turns to go once more.

COLIN almost gone: Why did you do that, Andrew Sellars?

ANDREW: You were trapped singing those songs every night on tour for months. I think that's penance enough.

COLIN: Was I still your... “dream assignment”?

Andrew does not respond; he exits instead. Colin is left as we saw him at the opening of the play: writhing a bit, moaning softly, having a melancholy & lonely trip. Lights fade.

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