Denver’s Birthday [short film script]

The following is a birthday present for my buddy, Denver. But you can enjoy it too if you want.

Denver’s Birthday

INT.NONDESCRIPT ROOM.DAY

A birthday cake with unlit candles is sitting on a surface in the foreground. The background is a blank wall. Denver walks in from left of screen. He’s wearing some sort of formal wear. He lights the candles on the cake and stands center on the screen. He clears his throat, addresses the camera. The whole scene is one continuous shot.

DENVER
I’ve prepared a statement.

He pulls a folded up piece of paper from his right suit coat inner pocket. He unfolds the piece of paper and reads.

DENVER
Now that the Communist revolution is nigh at hand, it seems prudent to look back at how we got here…

He looks at the paper curiously. Addresses the camera again.

DENVER
Wrong statement. This is for another occasion.

He folds the paper back up and places it back in his right pocket. Now he reaches into his left inner suit coat pocket and pulls out a different folded up piece of paper. Clear his throat again.

DENVER
According to a Facebook meme I saw once, the ceremony of the birthday cake is an old pagan ritual. The candles are the light of life, and the smoke of the snuffed light carries our prayers to the gods. This is why we make the prayer of the wish before we blow out the candles.

Denver hands the paper left offscreen and exits to the right side of the screen. A new reader enters from the left.

NOTDENVER1
We always feel the need to inoculate ourselves from cultural and historical context. History now only extends to the loudest living person’s lifetime.

This reader hands the paper left offscreen and exits to the right side of the screen. A new reader enters from the left.

NOTDENVER2
Some historians and alchemists can see the holy interplay of billions of people over millennia interacting and grinding the grist of history, bringing forward the new, and leaving the unmovable by the side of the road.

The second NotDenver hands the paper offscreen and exits as before. Entering from the left once more is Denver.

DENVER
So this year, my birthday wish is to see the dialectical interplay of all of time and space. I now send this wish to the gods.

Denver blows out the candles and walks offscreen.

END

Motivational Speech [monologue]

(LIGHTS UP. The stage of the Quarantine Theatre is empty. M L Woldman goes to CENTER STAGE wearing a ragged thrift store business suit that doesn’t fit right. He’s wearing one of those tiny microphones that stick to the side of the face as if by douche bag magic.)

Welcome back to the Quarantine Theatre. I like what you’ve done with your hair. It’s very distinctive.

I asked you here today because I saw an ad on Facebook that told me I should be a motivational speaker. And seeing as I always do what Facebook ads tell me to do, I decided that I’m going to motivate the shit out of you today. So look out! Motivation is coming at ya!

(He pauses a beat and looks around, unsure of what to say next.)

Do you like my suit? I think it exudes a certain motivational gravitas. That’s one thing you can say about people in suits. They always look so motivated. Wearing suits, waiting impatiently, on business calls, checking watches, being shitty to people in the service industry… these are the signs of a motivated person.

So how do you become a motivated person? Well, it helps if your parents were motivated professionals who worked nonstop throughout your childhood and who treated you like an unwelcome house guest. That way you can learn from an early age to supplant material reward in place of love. This will allow you to crush underfoot any ethical encumbrances in your pursuit of capital.

(As he says the following section, he slowly takes off his jacket, tie and button-down shirt.)

But that’s just one kind of motivation. That’s the motivation that poisons the world. There are other motivations out there that don’t get as much play.

What motivates you? Is it love, light, truth, beauty, art, equity, and human connection? Or is it venality, avarice, vengeance, spectacle, and atomization? Is it some weird combination?

We’re all motivated by something at any given point. That’s just the human drive. Even if you’re too depressed to get out of bed, depression is motivating you to stay in bed.

(As he takes off his shirt, he reveals a t-shirt underneath which reads “Choose your motivation.”)

The most empowering thing I can tell you now is that you can choose your motivation; and that doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason.

Our culture fetishizes action.

“Make sure you’re doing things all the time. Don’t stop to think about why you’re doing these things. Don’t consider the implications of your actions. Just produce.”

So it’s important to stop for a minute. Look at what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Ask yourself if you’re happy with your methods and motivations.

Because there is no magic more powerful than your examined will exacted with clarity and heart.

(LIGHTS DOWN. CURTAIN.)

Direct Address [monologue]

Direct Address

//Lights Up. A single Spotlight illuminates an empty stage, which is framed by ornate red and gold curtains. M L Woldman is Down Center stage, wearing pajama pants, a T-shirt, and a top hat. He addresses the audience.//

Welcome to the Quarantine Theatre, located in your mind. It’s very conveniently located, surrounded by great restaurants you can go to without fear of infection. Around the corner is your favorite bar where you can grab some drinks with your friends after the show.

There are all sorts of things that I didn’t do before the quarantine that I wish I could do now. Going to the theatre is one of them. So I thought, as a public service, I could bring the theatre to you.

At first blush, this may seem like a compromise. But the imaginary theatre has benefits the real theatre doesn’t have. For example, look over here to your right. It’s your favorite painting by your favorite artist.

//Your favorite painting materializes Stage Right from thin air.//

And over to your left, your favorite musician is playing your favorite song.

//Your favorite musician materializes Stage Left from thin air.//

You can’t get this in the real theatre.

//The painting and the musician disappear.//

Your mind can fill in the gaps where reality fails. And right now there are a lot of gaps. The quarantine is a gap. The future is a gap. How humanity interacts from here on out is a gap.

And that last gap is partly why I wanted to build this theatre in your head. Because this weird little blog I’m making here is getting more attention lately, and I wanted to talk to you directly.

I really appreciate you being here. It means a lot to me. I’ve been writing poetry and plays for 20 years now, with very limited success. And suddenly I show up to WordPress and you all accepted me with open arms. It feels like I have a home now.

I started this blog because there are things I want to see in the world that don’t exist yet. I want to bring those things into being. This is why I make art. This is why I exist. I may not succeed all the time. But what I’m finding is that as a community we can find resonance even where this aim fails.

Community is powerful. And now that the entire world is sharing a single plight, it’s time to connect to each other and care for each other.

I didn’t mean for this to be so sappy. But I feel a love for the world and my fellow humans that I didn’t feel before the pandemic.

And so maybe I should end on that note. A note of harmony and solidarity with all humans. Seems like a good closer.

Thanks for coming out to the Quarantine Theatre. Please be safe on your way home.

//Lights down.
end.//