Play in the Drawer: Brooke Berman

Brooke, not babbling

Welcome back to Play in the Drawer. I'm so pleased the drawer is full gain. This week we offer an excerpt form Cake, by Brooke Berman. Brooke's been hanging out in L. A. for a while, but I wish she'd come back. Brooke’s plays have been produced at the Humana Festival, The Second Stage, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, The Play Company; Naked Angels and others. She is the recipient of a Berillla Kerr Foundation grant, two Francesca Primus prizes, the Helen Merrill Award, two Lecomte du Nouy awards and a commission from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her play Defusion was included in Christine Jones’s “The Theater for One” project at New York Theatre Workshop and recently published in an anthology of one-act plays edited by Craig Lucas. Recently, Brooke has been working on a screenplay adaptation of Smashing for Natalie Portman, a new play for Arielle Tepper Productions and an original screenplay for Fugitive Films. She has been teaching playwriting and creative process labs for eight years.

Of Cake, Brooke says, CAKE was my final project at Juilliard, 1999. it's only 50 pages. when i got out of school, some agents were into it but felt it was too short, they asked me to make it longer - i got caught up writing new things - and then, i didn't end up working with those agents but with morgan who said, "MUD was 50 pages too. don't worry about it." but for some reason, the play never had a real life. i love the first scene.


having it and eating it too

"language is a skin. I rub my language against the other."

Roland Barthes, A Lovers Discourse

"The secret small pores of the being began to breathe a life of plant and flower. I went to sleep a human being and awakened with the nervous sensibility of a leaf, with the fin knowledge of a fish, with the hardness of coral, with the sulpherous eyes of a mineral. I awakened with eyes at the end of long arms that floated everywhere and with eyes on the soles of my feet. I awakened in stands of angel hair with lungs of cocoon milk,"

Anais Nin, House of Incest


Alice almost 30; an artisan/glass-blower, teaches in an art school

Thomas Alice's husband. 35. Owns his own business.

Benjamin Alice's student, barely 20. Some tattoos maybe.

Cordelia Alice's friend. Teaches in the same school.


Alice and a young man. Benjamin. BARELY 20, WITH A TATTOO AND LONG-ISH HAIR. LOOKS LIKE AN ART STUDENT. IS ONE. She is eating cake from his fingers. He feeds her. It is very erotic.


Is it yin?




What will it do to me? Will it make me expand?


Yes. That's what yin does. It makes you expand.


Will I get bigger?


Yes. You will.


Will I open inside?


Yes. You will do that.


And what will that do?


It will make you hungry. It's the sugar, especially in the frosting. It's very extreme yin. And it creates an opening inside of you and this opening will make you want me.


Are you a magician?


No. But I was raised macrobiotic. I know about yin and yang. Things that are yin. Things that are yang. I know about polarity and expansion. And that's a little like magic. I can make things happen.


You're a magician.


You said that.


I was thinking of the first time I saw you. Those beads you wore. How rude you were. Why were you so rude to me? I always like the ones who aren't nice. Do you know how huge my appetite is? Once I've tasted even a little bit, I want more.


Have more.

(he gives her more cake)


I can't have sex with you.


I know.


I'm married.


You said that.


Well, I am.


But you can, what? Flirt?


We're allowed to flirt. We decided that we were.


You decided?

ALICE nods


And where's your husband right now?


At work. He works.


Why are you here?


I told you. I'm here to eat cake.


Is that it?



B No?

ALICE I'm here because I want to undress you.


Well, I think maybe you should do that.


But I've never cheated before.


You don't have to.


Oh, no. I want to...

She starts to undress him.

Black out. Lights up on:


Alice,with Thomas, her husband.

ALICE I swam today. I did laps around the pool. The water held me, and everything sparkled. It was all underwater, but I was buyoant, and I sparkled too. Did you know that swimming could be so incredible? Did you have any idea it could be such an experience? Sweetheart?

Thomas, Alice's husband, appears from offstage. He has been getting dressed and searching for a tie.




You weren't listening.

THOMAS No. I was looking for a tie. What were you saying?

ALICE I said I went swimming today.

THOMAS Since when do you swim?


Are you ready? I want to go.

THOMAS I'm not ready.

ALICE Can you get ready?

THOMAS Just a minute. Just wait. You can't leave without me.

Beat. She looks for stuff to do. He re-enters.....

THOMAS So, since when do you swim? Where do you go, the river?

ALICE The gym. I swim at the gym. I do lots of things there. Things you don't know about. Kick boxing and spinning and yoga. I've been spinning for months. Are you almost ready? Because we're going to be late. And they're expecting us.

THOMAS Okay, I'm ready. Should we bring wine?

ALICE That's a great idea. We should. I think we even have a bottle. The water felt good.


ALICE I said the water felt good. When I was swimming. It made my body light. Did you find the wine? Or do we have to stop and buy some?

THOMAS No, I know you're right; we have a bottle. I'm sure we do. Wait... there it is. Okay, you want to go now?

ALICE I've been waiting. Yes. Honey, don't forget the --

THOMAS I know. I have it right here.

ALICE And one of those bags.

THOMAS Oh right. The wrapping thing.

ALICE It looks better that way.

THOMAS You're right. I know. Okay. I think we're ready. What did you say about spinning , swimming? I wasn't really sure what you were talking about. Were you swimming, or were you spinning? And were you literally doing these things? Or were you making a point about them? Cause, frankly, you lost me.

ALICE Doesn't matter.

THOMAS Good. Because I wasn't getting what you were getting at.

ALICE That happens.

THOMAS Because sometimes you aren't logical. I love you anyway. But sometimes...

ALICE Sweetheart, it had nothing to do with logic. I was talking about the gym.

THOMAS I still love you. I mean, even if I have no idea what you're saying half the time.

ALICE I'll keep that in mind. (beat) Remember when we were first married?

THOMAS We had sex three times a day for a whole month. Maybe two.

ALICE Remember how you used to look at me?

THOMAS No. How did I look at you?

ALICE I want you to look at me like that again.

THOMAS How did I look at you?

ALICE Like I was precious.

THOMAS You are precious.

ALICE But you don't look at me like I am. I want you to look at me like I'm glass.

THOMAS But you aren't glass. You're the woman I married. You are precious, but you are not fragile. Glass is fragile. It breaks. And it's hard. You are not hard and you do not break and shatter like glass does. Therefore, I won't look at you like you're glass. I will look at you like you're Alice.

ALICE Which is how?

THOMAS Which is enough.

ALICE What's enough? How can anything ever be enough?

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