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Mini-Jellybeans-Poster-C12134148.jpegIt's Out of the Hat time again, only now it's under new management, sorta, so it's called the Chicken Hat plays. At any rate, the rules are still the same and I have to produce a short play tonight and tomorrow night based on prompts.

My play I just finished for Friday night probably uses the prompts more literally than any play I've ever done.

Who: An Expensive Radio Consultant
What: A Hatful of Jellybeans
Where: A Dock

The different thing this time around is that each play on Friday will feature a cameo by Mayor Steve Anderson of Proctor.

Once again I return to a common theme of my plays. There's a true believer in conflict with a skeptic. I really should just call these the On the Couch Plays since I work out my own issues in them.

Written for Chicken Hat 1
Rubber Chicken Productions
Proctor, Minnesota
May 30, 2008

Lawrence Lee

Who: An Expensive Radio Consultant
What: A Hatful of Jellybeans
Where: A Dock
Cameo: Mayor Steve Anderson of Proctor

MEG – a radio engineer
HANNAH – a radio on-air personality
BUD – an expensive radio consultant

A Hat
Jellybeans – a couple bags

[Lights up on MEG and HANNAH sitting on a dock (desk?) with a hat between them. One by one they are taking turns pulling jellybeans out of the hat, naming their color, and throwing them into the lake. Every time they throw one into the lake it is followed by a PLOINK sound effect. The length between when they throw it and when the PLOINK occurs can be varied for comedic effect.]

MEG – Red. *

* [Or whatever color it actually is. Throws the jellybean off the dock. SFX – PLOINK!]

HANNAH – Purple. *

MEG – Yellow. *

HANNAH – Green. *

MEG – Green. *

HANNAH – Orange. *

[This goes on for a good long while. It’s clear this is draining on them though HANNAH tries to remain cheerful with varying degrees of success.]

MEG – Can you remind me why we are doing this? Black. *

HANNAH – It’s an exercise. Green. *

MEG – An exercise in futility. Red. *

HANNAH – No, you heard the speaker. This is to prepare us to free ourselves for less critical and more creative thinking. Purple. *

MEG – [a take] Pink. *

HANNAH – The jellybeans are a metaphor… for our attachments… and we’re ridding ourselves of them. Orange. *

MEG – Couldn’t we rid ourselves of our metaphorical attachments by eating them instead? Yellow. *

HANNAH – No, that would invalidate the exercise. We can’t detach ourselves from something we eat. Red *

MEG – Oh really? What did you have for breakfast this morning? Purple. *

HANNAH – [thinks a bit] Yogurt and toast, with lite margarine, and grapefruit juice. Orange. *

MEG – And yesterday? Pink. *

HANNAH – [thinks harder] Coffee and a bagel, no, wait, I don’t think I had breakfast yesterday. I think that was Monday. Red. *

MEG – You sound sufficiently unattached from your breakfast. Yellow. *

HANNAH – That’s not what he meant by attachment. We are practicing naming and discarding things so that we can lessen our anxiety about change because, in a climate of corporate upheaval, we need to be able to let go. [proud of herself] Green! *

MEG – How much is the station paying this guy? Black. *

HANNAH – Oh, he comes highly recommended. He did a seminar with KRKW last spring and now their drivetime show share is going through the roof. Purple. *

MEG – Right. Green. *

HANNAH – Black. *

MEG – It’s just… it’s not really naming, is it? Orange. *

HANNAH – What do you mean? Orange. *

MEG – Well, you aren’t really naming something by describing the color of it. Like your name is Hannah. It isn’t pasty beige. White. *

HANNAH – [takes some umbrage] But he told us in the session… [picks up a jellybean]

MEG – [stops her from throwing it] I know what he told us, but it’s not really the same thing, is it? I mean we might as well say “kinda round” or “about a half inch long” or “about five grams”…

HANNAH – Don’t use the metric system. It confuses me.

MEG – Look, this exercise just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s meaningless… and a perfectly good waste of jellybeans.

HANNAH – [defiantly] Red! *

MEG – [folds her arms]

HANNAH – [urges MEG to take one] Come on… What if they are watching?

MEG – [studies nails]

HANNAH – [grabs MEG’s hand and sticks it in the hat and makes her pull one out]

MEG – [shocked at HANNAH’s behavior, but doesn’t stop her]

HANNAH – [stage whisper] It’s green. [or whatever color it is] C’mon… Say it’s green.

MEG – It’s a tiny bit of sugar and high fructose corn syrup with edible dye and… [pops it in her mouth] it’s delicious.

HANNAH – [shocked] You can’t do that!

MEG – Watch me! I’m not even looking at what color it is! [takes one out and pops it in her mouth]

HANNAH – You’re ruining the exercise!

MEG – I’m so detached I don’t care! [takes one out of the hat and throws it in the air catching it in her mouth] I think that one was black because it tasted like licorice.

HANNAH – Stop it!

MEG – You want me to stop it?

HANNAH – Yes! Just do the exercise! This guy knows what he is doing! Why else would we pay him so much money?

MEG – Because… we’re idiots?

HANNAH – [glowers]

MEG – Okay. I’ll do the exercise. [picks up the hat and looks inside] Rainbow! [throws all of the jellybeans out of the hat, SFX – lots of PLOINKS] Exercise over! I feel very detached now.

HANNAH – [gaping at MEG in disbelief]

BUD – [enters and sees the empty hat] Oh, excellent! Well done! You obviously are making progress. [refills the hat with jellybeans from a bag he has with him and exits]

HANNAH – [smiles superiorly at MEG]

MEG – [defeated] Orange. *

HANNAH – Green. *

MEG – Purple. *

[and so on, lights out]


Are you a disciple of Samuel Beckett? (Then again Beckett was too grim and minimalist to include jelly beans.)

The scary thing about this is, when I was working for the state dept of health, the "professionals" of our division had to go to various corporate-type seminars, and one of them involved different colors of hats (I cannot for the life of me remember the title). It sounded incredibly stupid to me, and I was happy to be just a lowly secretary so I didn't have to go. I've never been good at that kind of thing--and I can't do that "lean back and someone will catch you" trust-building exercise, either.

I like it, but I think Meg gives up too soon.

Yeah, I agree, Leah. But there comes a point when you just have to put the script to bed.

I have to admit in being really disappointed in the execution of the play last night. The actress playing Hannah started sneaking jellybeans into her mouth rather obviously toward the beginning of the piece which totally negated her umbrage later on at Meg eating them. It didn't work at all and it devolved into a scene with two women alternately eating and throwing jellybeans.


It was very disappointing.

Ummmm, well, that's just poor! What was her problem? It's not improv, right? There's a script-and the script was written a certain way to make a certain (and very relevant) point (which, no offense, doesn't take a rocket scientist to see, so they should have figured it out). That's incredibly unprofessional of them.

Hannah eating the jellybeans was a misstep but I still thought it was one of the better skits of the evening. There was a lot of improv going on that night. I thought that was the nature of the event, so there are always risks-- sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Anyway you can save this for future use.

FB, at best you can say it was a "bad choice" by the director or actor. But, no, the point is not improv. If it were, no scripts would be necessary.

I'm glad you came and glad you enjoyed my script!

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