Play in the Drawer: Winter Miller

The Elephant in the Room: Ms. Miller requested we use this as an author photo. We oblige.

Our series, in which we ask favorite playwrights to offer us scenes form unproduced plays, proudly continues. This week's scribe is the lovely Winter Miller, a 13P member, Miller's plays include THE PENETRATION PLAY (produced by 13P, 2004); CAKE AND ICE CREAM; GREETINGS FROM VIETNAM, WISH YOU WERE HERE; and a series of short plays, including DARFUR, SUDAN and PARTYLINES (Ignite Festival, Synapse 2006). Miller was awarded The Guthrie Theater and Playwrights' Center's Two-Headed Challenge 2006. She was a 2003 O'Neill Finalist.

What follows is an excerpt from her musical in progress SOMETHING’S WRONG WITH AMANDINE. Set in 1830’s France, the story, told in three acts. Miller adds, "For those who read Foucault (it’s okay, no one’s watching you read this), Amandine’s roots are found in the based-on-a-true-story of Herculine Barbin." In this scene, Amandine, a young teacher, has a stomach pain so terrible she is compelled to see the doctor.

DOCTOR Breathe.

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AMANDINE I am.

DOCTOR In, and out. In and out.

AMANDINE inhales and exhales.

DOCTOR (cont’d) Raise your arms. Lower them. Raise. Lower. Whistle.

AMANDINE I can’t.

DOCTOR Stand on one leg.

AMANDINE does a lovely arabesque. The DOCTOR makes notes.

DoCTOR (cont’d) How old are you?

AMANDINE Twenty one.

DOCTOR When did you begin menstruation?

AMANDINE I don’t know.

DOCTOR How often do you?

AMANDINE Do I what?

DOCTOR Menstruate!

AMANDINE I don’t know.

DOCTOR Your stomach is concave, like a young man’s. Does this hurt?

The DOCTOR pokes AMANDINE in the stomach several times.

AMANDINE No.

DOCTOR Remove your robe.

AMANDINE I musn’t! I’ve changed my mind. I feel fine!

DOCTOR You must. I can’t guess what’s under there.

AMANDINE removes her robe and stands in her underclothes. The DOCTOR circles her, humming and clucking to himself.

AMANDINE Is it my arms?

DOCTOR Let me see. Peculiarly hairy.

The DOCTOR makes a note.

DOCTOR (cont’d) Have you engaged in carnal relations with a man?

AMANDINE Gasp!

DOCTOR Did he do this to you?

The DOCTOR reaches for her breast.

DOCTOR (cont’d) What lovely, tiny, pink nipples you have.

The DOCTOR makes a note. He reaches for AMANDINE’s drawers.

AMANDINE No!

DOCTOR That’s what you should have said to him.

AMANDINE There was no him!

The DOCTOR thrusts his hand down AMANDINE’S drawers.

AmANDINE (cont’d) Gasp!

DOCTOR What have we here?

AMANDINE Am I ill?

THE DOCTOR clucks. And inspects.

DOCTOR Hmmmmm. Something must be done.

Removing his hand from her groin, he slaps AMANDINE across the face.

DOCTOR (cont’d) Monstrous! What chicanery. AmANDINE But I--

DOCTOR Thought you could fool the Doctor, eh?

AMANDINE No!

The DOCTOR puts his face up close to AMANDINE’S.

DOCTOR You can’t fool a man with this sort of deviant behavior. Madame et mademoiselles, entrez-vous. I regret to inform you, you have been taken in, duped.

2ND TEACHER Heavens!

1ST TEACHER What do you mean?

AmANDINE I didn’t mean to!

2ND TEACHER God help us!

AMANDINE I’m going to be ill!

DOCTOR Hoodwinked. Pulled the wool over. Betrayed. Bamboozled. A most disgusting, and might I add, pitiful--display of femininity.

2ND TEACHER She was our prized teacher. I don’t understand--

AMANDINE faints, landing in 1ST TEACHER’S arms.

2nd TEACHER (cont’d) Oh!

She drops AMANDINE to the floor where she remains.

2nd TEACHER (cont’d) Oh!

DOCTOR That is not a she.

2ND TEACHER Pardon?

DOCTOR That. Is. A. He.

1ST TEACHER Scandalous!

2ND TEACHER She looks the same as yesterday!

DOCTOR Silence! I’m thinking. It’s obvious he needs a name and a vocation. Hmmmm.

A placard with the name Gaston drops from above.

DoCTOR (cont’d) Gaston. He looks like a Gaston. But what can he do?

A placard with the word ditchdigger drops from above.

DOCTOR (cont’d) He will be a ditchdigger. But where will he go?

A placard with Paris! drops from above.

DOCTOR (cont’d) Off to Paris he’ll go!

2ND TEACHER Will there be a scandal?

1ST TEACHER What do we do with... it?

DOCTOR Leave it to me, I’m the doctor.

2ND TEACHER Bless you. Lord bless us all.

1ST TEACHER Forgive us Father, for the sinner among us.

1st and 2nd teacher Keep us safe from harm, protected from evil, and safe from deception.

Teachers and DOCTOR Amen.

MOTHER SUPERIOR draws the curtain to the examination room.

MoTHER SUPERIOR (sings) HOODWINKED! BETRAYED! BAMBOOZLED! PULLED THE WOOL OVER! THERE IS NO SCANDAL NOT EVER, AT L’ACADEMIE DU SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS!

MOTHER SUPERIOR steps out from behind the curtain, composed.

MoTHER SUPERIOR (cont’d) Bless Amandine, bless us all.

Teachers 1, 2 Bless Amandine, bless us all.

1ST TEACHER I was near vomiting.

2ND TEACHER I feel

1ST TEACHER Ill.

2ND TEACHER No. Shame. Take this bowl, wash from me my sin, cleanse me.

MoTHER SUPERIOR I once loved Amandine as one loves a child.

1ST TEACHER I suppose it explains her curiosity.

MoTHER SUPERIOR Intellectual curiosity.

1ST TEACHER Yes of course! Such an intellectual nature, so aggressive in its pursuit of... facts.

MOTHER SUPERIOR I will retire. I’ll send for tea.

MOTHER SUPERIOR retires.

1ST TEACHER Intellectual curiosity my foot.

2ND TEACHER I feel small and irrelevant.

1ST TEACHER Did you love the boy yourself?

2ND TEACHER No but--

1ST TEACHER Grant your pity to the weak and poor, not the liars and perverts.

2ND TEACHER Is she a liar if she never knew the truth?

1ST TEACHER He knew. He kept it hidden. He never swam.

2ND TEACHER She only undressed in the toilet.

1ST TEACHER I shudder to think...

2ND TEACHER What exactly is it that we saw?

1ST TEACHER How do you mean?

2ND TEACHER His... appearance?

1ST TEACHER The genitalia?

2ND TEACHER Was it misshapen?

1ST TEACHER I suspect.

2ND TEACHER I wouldn’t know, is all--

1ST TEACHER Are you suggesting I would?

2ND TEACHER No! I meant that, well IT seemed small.

1ST TEACHER There are different sizes.

2ND TEACHER I think I mean harmless? Perhaps?

1ST TEACHER Genitals, in and of themselves, are harmful. It’s a fact that men, outside of the clergy have uncontrollable--

2ND TEACHER What? Uncontrollable what?

1ST TEACHER Urges.

2ND TEACHER I am at a loss. I would like an egg. Maybe with toast. This is all very unsettling to the digestive system.

1ST TEACHER The lies... Perhaps Amandine is not the only one in need of an examination. If a carnal sin were--

2ND TEACHER I’m feverish!

1ST TEACHER Time will tell. It would be scandalous for l’Academie.

2ND TEACHER My forehead is warm. I will lie down until dinner. I may send for an egg to be poached.

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