Theater

Play in the Drawer: Winter Miller

by


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.

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.