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Jason Sharp as Al, Sharon Barto Gouran as Patty, Brandon Ryan as James, Annie Lareau as Nancy. Photo by Omar Willey.
This Isn't Happening
Produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/15/16. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Unfinished Business." My random actor draw: write a play for two men and two women. Two separate, interleaved conversations: James & Nancy; Al & Patty. JAMES: I want to get the band back together. NANCY: Are you out of your fucking mind? JAMES: Iím not. NANCY: The band broke up because we all hated each other. JAMES: That was five years ago. NANCY: Have you even spoken to Al or Patty in the last five years? JAMES: I just had coffee with Al. NANCY: What? JAMES: Heís back in town. NANCY: When did that happen? JAMES: I donít know. Recently I guess. NANCY: What about Patty? JAMES: Al said he would talk to Patty.
PATTY: Are you out of your fucking mind? AL: Heís been writing songs again. PATTY: Great. He can put out a fucking solo record. AL: Yeah I suggested that, and he said, ďWhat am I, Paul McCartney?Ē PATTY: He fucking wishes he was Paul McCartney. AL: Anyway the point is he wants to tour again. As a band. PATTY: Heís broke, right? Thatís what this is about?
NANCY: Because it sounds like youíre broke. JAMES: Iím not! NANCY: Do you know how ugly it is when bands get back together because theyíre broke? JAMES: Iím not broke. I still live uptown. I just bought a $12,000 espresso machine. NANCY: What? JAMES: I mean, I bought it used. It has some light scuffing. Look, Iím not rich, Iím not broke, Iím just - Iím writing songs again.
PATTY: Are they any good? AL: Yeah, the feel is definitely there. I mean, theyíre just demos. But theyíre really tight. PATTY: What are they about? AL: I donít know. Heís just laying down scratch vocals right now. Placeholders. PATTY: Whatever. All he ever writes about is himself. AL: To be fair, heís considered one of the most nuanced practitioners of the autobiographical idiom in songwriting- PATTY: Donít you fucking quote Pitchfork at me, Al. AL: Sorry.
JAMES: And we didnít all hate each other. I mean, you guys never hated each other, right? And you and Al didnít hate me or Patty, you just hated me and Patty. NANCY: And Patty hated you in the end. JAMES: Obviously, but look, I never hated anybody, not even Patty. I was sad about her, yes. Iím still sad about her. NANCY: Ohhhh. Thatís what this is about? JAMES: What? NANCY: You want to get the band back together so that you have a rational excuse to be in the same room with Patty again. Am I getting warm here? JAMES: No, thatís ridiculous, I mean, I told you already, Iím just - Iím writing songs again. NANCY: About what? JAMES: About Patty. NANCY: Dammit!
AL: You should come into the studio and just listen to the demos. PATTY: Thereís no point. AL: Sure there is. Theyíre good songs. I think if you heard them- PATTY: If I heard them, what? Iíd drop everything going on in my life to be a side player in his band again? Because why would I do that? AL: Well - the studio has an extremely nice espresso machine.
NANCY: Anyway you did actually hate somebody. You hated yourself. Thatís what all your songs were about. Thatís what Patty hated about you in the end. JAMES: Did she tell you that? NANCY: No. She didnít have to. Thatís what her songs are about. JAMES: What songs? NANCY: The songs on her albums? Please tell me youíve listened to her albums. JAMES: I havenít. Are they any good? NANCY: Of course theyíre good! JAMES: Donít say ďof courseĒ like itís some automatic thing to write good songs. NANCY: She spent most of her twenties playing your songs in your band. She had plenty of exposure to genius songwriting. Trust me, she picked up a few things. You really havenít listened to her albums? JAMES: I didnít know about her albums! Are they on Spotify? NANCY: Of course theyíre on Spotify! JAMES: See, I hate Spotify, I prefer vinyl.
PATTY: Are you recording with him? AL: I was thinking about it. PATTY: Why donít you play in my band instead? AL: What band? PATTY: Iím opening for Airee Macpherson. East coast for sure, probably Europe. AL: Really? PATTY: Yes ďreally,Ē Jesus. AL: No, I just meant - thatís huge. Congratulations. PATTY: Thank you. Itís all happening very fast though, and Iím scrambling to pull together a touring lineup. I mean - I realize you now have access to an extremely nice espresso machine... AL: I donít care about the espresso machine, Patty. PATTY: It sounded like you were pretty into it. AL: No, Iím not into it - itís lightly scuffed, for godís sake. PATTY: Anyway I hear they have espresso in Europe. If touring Europe in the near future interests you. AL: Yes of course it does. You know, you should ask him too. The man can still play drums, Patty. PATTY: So can my drum machine, Al. And I wonít be tempted to sleep with my drum machine.
NANCY: You can get her albums on 180 gram vinyl. You should. She practically recorded them for you. JAMES: I will. Iíll go to the record store right now. NANCY: And then maybe, after you listen to them - instead of staging a big reunion tour - you can just try calling her sometime. JAMES: But I want a big reunion tour. NANCY: You might not, after you listen to her albums. JAMES: Oh. Long pause. Why - is something wrong with the way theyíre mixed? NANCY: The mixes are fine, you jackass! Jesus, no wonder she went solo. End.
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