Beasts

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When a tent city of homeless people are given a 3-day eviction notice by the government, they must scramble to find a way to escape the encroaching bulldozers that will destroy their encampment.

The setting is Palo, Alto, California. But really the setting could be many cities throughout the world with homeless encampments. This tent city is affectionately referred to as ‘Camp Hell.’

Although this work is fiction, the scenario presented is a common occurrence. The criminalization of urban homelessness has scared many people into woods, abandoned lots, and parks. Once situated away from the public eye, instinct kicks in: communities are formed, relationships blossom, a daily routine establishes itself.

The tone of this story shouldn’t be too heavy or tragically dark. These are vibrant, and complex people who have pieced together a life. There is humor and vitality amidst the hunger, loss, and betrayal.

Read Sample

SETTING: Camp Hell. A tent city in the park. It’s the afternoon and there’s a rumbling of thunder in the distance. Screaming can be heard. Berg drags Zo away from a fight. Zo holds a crumpled sheet of paper to her nose. Blood covers her face. She yells at a park ranger in the woods.

ZO
You know what you can do, motherfucker? You can suck my cunt you fake-ass mixed martial arts bitch! YOU CAN’T TREAT ME LIKE THAT!! Like I don’t have no feelings!

BERG
Chill Zo! Fall back.

ZO
You tell that Nazi motherfucker to fall back. I ain’t bitchmade. (to ranger)! Talk slick, but say that shit again to my face, you itty-bitty shrimp cocktail-ass bitch. I’ll fold your ass up like clean laundry. Sherwin-Williams paint smelling-ass bitch!

BERG
(holding her)
You bleeding all over. Stop moving!

ZO
Dog-head bald-ass rainbow-wishing Lucky Charm leprechaun! I’ll put you in a fucking box. Fucker, you light work! Backpedal and put your pussy-ass into reverse-gear ‘fore we grind you the fuck up.

BERG
Yeah!

Berg has taken some bloody rags out of his pocket and presses them to her face.
ZO
We got a whole nation of motherfuckers that will murder you! You lil’ dick, piss-on-your-nuts cum rag.

BERG
Yeah! Right! We got a whole nation of motherfuckers who will... um, stomp your dicks off!

ZO
You ain’t nothing! All them steroids you shoot into your butt don’t mean shit. You still a bitch-ass Yogi Bear-wanna park ranger!

BERG
Here (guiding her hand to take the rags) And that’s Smokey the Bear. Not Yogi.

ZO
Huh?

BERG
Smokey the Bear is the park ranger. (looks off into distance) Shit, look at my home.

ZO
Nah, it’s Yogi. That fuckass cartoon bear that talks.

BERG
Both of them are fuckass cartoons bears that talk, They’re talking bears so they ain’t real. They’re cartoons.

ZO
Say what motherfucker?

BERG
Bears don’t talk. Yogi bear is the one who is trying to get in bitch’s picnic baskets. Smokey the Bear is the park ranger who points his finger and says ‘Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires.’ Now can we stop this bullshit and figure out how to fix my home.

ZO
Don’t come at me with that Wikipedia smarty-art professor shit,
ZO (cont’d)
Berg/ Just cause you went to college and shit...

BERG
/I ain’t coming at you like a smarty-art professor. Everyone knows bears can’t talk. So a talking bear has to be a cartoon.

ZO
Berg, how do you know? When’s the last time you asked a motherfucking bear? And what about the bear at Chucky Cheese? That’s not a cartoon.

BERG
That’s a robotic rat.

ZO
And why you always interrupting my fucking flow to correct me?

BERG
Cause you’re wrong.

ZO
So? That fuckass Hitler was wrong for smashing your tent and popping me in the face. But you didn’t interrupt him. You just sat there with your thumb up your coochie like you were fishing for a wet spot.

BERG
I ain’t trying to escalate shit between us and them. But I did yell and put myself in between you two. Shit! They busted up my planks and ripped my tarp.
ZO
You put yourself in between me and his dust trail. Only after Hitler goose-stepped back to his jeep did your punk-ass even bother to come over and help me. (looking at rags) And what the fuck are these?

BERG
What does it look like? I’m just trying to stop the blood.

ZO
Berg, I know you didn’t just take your filthy junkie blood rags and put them against my nose!

BERG
(snatching back rags)
You’re welcome, Zo. No need to thank me.

ZO
Thank you? Nice try you paddle-dick fatherfucker.

BERG
Nice try what?

ZO
I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to sweeten me up so you can get more from the stash. Thank you for giving me hepatitis, Ebola, and whatever else is on them nasty, crusty dope fiend rags but no deal.

There’s the sound of pots clanging in the distance.

ZO
That’s Getty.

BERG
You think I’m scheming to get-

ZO
-yes!

BERG
You’re such a gremlin.

ZO
That’s why I was put in charge of the pot.

BERG
You’re not in charge of the pot. You just hold it. You know what? Getty will take care of you and this whole fucked up shit.

ZO
Getty ain’t God.

BERG
He ain’t God but he knows better than to cuss out a park ranger. And he got ways and means.

ZO
If he had so much way and so many means he wouldn’t be out here with us.

TAURUS enters carrying a bag.

TAURUS
Yo yo! Just checking the wires. What’s Gucci, peeps?

ZO
What’s Gucci? Where the fuck have you been, turdcake? You supposed to be security!

TAURUS
Someone’s hotter than a hog’s twat in August mud. Who broke your crayons today, Zo?

ZO
Keep talking slick and I’ll beat that ass ‘till the meat dangles.

TAURUS
What’s got her? She on her rags?

BERG
A talking bear got her.

TAURUS
Probably mistook her for bait.

ZO
Before I chop both of you in your damn throats, Taurus we got something important to ask you.

TAURUS
What?

ZO
Which bear was the talking park ranger: Yogi Bear or Smokey the Bear?

TAURUS
What?

BERG
(picking up bloody sheet of paper)
What the fuck you still on that Bear shit for. Taurus, we got a problem. The ranger just stopped by-

TAURUS
-I think it was Yogi Bear.

ZO
A-ha! Bow down, bitches!

BERG
What? No, it was Smokey the Bear.

TAURUS
But Yogi Bear lived in a park. Had on a tie and hat right?

ZO
Nailed it!

BERG
But Yogi Bear wasn’t a park ranger. He just who stole food from people’s picnic baskets in the park.

TAURUS
What kind of a simple-ass country bear wears a tie and a hat? I mean a hat or tie sure. But a tie and hat? Nah, that mofo was a licensed, certified professional.

BERG
You know what…fine. Sure, Yogi Bear. I don’t care any more.

ZO
Smarty-art professor getting upset, ahhha!

BERG
Look, Taurus. Zo is saying she won’t give me cash from the pot. But that’s the camp pot. We all put in that for emergencies like this.

ZO
He’s just going to use that money to get doped up.

TAURUS
Talk to Getty. He’ll settle it.

BERG
When he getting back?

TAURUS
Should’ve been back by now. But I’m bending his ear first.

BERG
I think our news is more important.

TAURUS
Doubt it. Y’all guess what?

BERG
Taurus-

TAURUS
I found a woman.

BERG
Big deal. You find chicks every day.

ZO
And then you drive them crazy and run them away.

BERG
You wear out all your girls.

ZO
That’s cause he a ho.

TAURUS
Cause I’m a stud.

ZO
Same thing.

TAURUS
Wrong. A ho has low self-esteem. A stud has enough to spread around. And yes, in my younger day I beat them cakes up. Bake dem bitches like they was Betty Crocker. Beat the cake and eat the box.

ZO
Dudes who talk about how many cakes they beat, ain’t doing nothing but beating off. You probably ain’t even have no body count.

TAURUS
My body counts like “Saving Private Ryan.” I sniper that pussy from long-range. Trust. But now it’s a new day. I found a woman. A special woman thanks to Getty. She on her way here now. So I’m about to retire my rifle.

ZO
You hear that, Berg? He’s giving up his lil’ pea shooter cause he skeeted in some ho who probably got a gash so caved in it’s looser than a wizard’s sleeve.

TAURUS
You just mad cause no one wants to tongue-punch your fart box without a stadium tarp wrapped around that foaming roast beef sandwich sagging between your legs.

ZO
You gummi-bear-shaped, Rumpelstiltskin-looking motherfucker!

BERG
You guys stop!!!

TAURUS
Berg, we’re just playing around. We all know that Zo can’t get enough of me.

ZO
Yeah. Now sit your $2 ass down before I make change-

BERG
-This is serious!

Berg hands Taurus the bloody notice.

TAURUS
There’s blood on this-

BERG
Just read it!

TAURUS
(reads)
‘Hereby declare…an illegal encampment...must remove property within 72 hours or...’

BERG
Someone snitched.

ZO
What’s the big deal? We’ll just find another park to squat in.

TAURUS
Another park? Like it’s that easy to move a camp. We got wood burning stoves, tents, makeshift generators, pets, mattresses. I finally got the camp security system set up.

ZO
You acting like you just built Fort Knox or some James Bond villain’s lair shit. It’s just pots and pans on a string.

TAURUS
You taking this pretty easy considering where you came from. Maybe you’re the one that snitched.
ZO
Yeah, I snitched T. Cause I wanted to get punched and kicked in the face by a park ranger so I could bleed so much it looks like my face is having its period.

TAURUS
When did this happen?

ZO
Just a minute ago when a bunch of rangers made it through your amazing security system without setting off so much as a warning sound and they was goon’ed the fuck up. One was putting up this notice and another one was smashing in Berg’s tent when I tried to stop them.

TAURUS
Oh shit! Berg, are you all right?

ZO
Hold up. U-turn this bitch around. I said “I tried to stop them.” Berg wasn’t doing shit but nodding off on a box crate.

BERG
I didn’t want them to hurt my instruments.

ZO
What instruments? You bang on buckets for spare change.

BERG
It’s my fucking trade! Respect it! At least I don’t shoplift from dollar stores and suck dick at truck stops for crank.

ZO
Eat a dick!

BERG
Yeah, how much you charge for that? Taurus, I got no roof or even a tarp. I’ll have to move all my shit before the rain comes.

There’s the sound of pots jangling in the distance.

ZO
There goes your high-tech alarm system.

TAURUS
Probably Getty coming back from town.

BERG
What do you think he’ll do?

ZO
I don’t know why y’all think Getty is some sort of camp prophet-Lord-God-almighty-savior? He just another homeless motherfucker with a tent.

SISSY enters. She has a duffel bag. Zo stares at her with hostility. Berg looks her up and down lustfully.

BERG
Hey, how are you?

SISSY
Where the bathroom at?

ZO
Excuse me?

SISSY
I said do you peeps have a bathroom in this camp or do you just do it in the bushes like a bunch of runaway slaves?

ZO
Who the fuck is this-

TAURUS
This is Sissy. She’s my woman.

ZO
Oh, that explains it.

SISSY
What does that mean?

TAURUS
Nothing, baby. Don’t pay that snaggle-tooth viper no mind. We’re just dealing with a lot right now.

SISSY
So...am I going to give me a GPS status on where you dragged me to?

TAURUS
This is Camp Hell.

SISSY
What?

TAURUS
That’s our nickname for the place. Don’t worry it’s just a joke name. But we use it some times to scare away the creeps who might be thinking about settling around these parts. We gotta nice little thing going on. And as long as everyone follows the 3 rules we keep the peace. We got about 20 campers-

SISSY
-And what are the 3 rules?

BERG
No weapons, no drugs, no drama.

SISSY
And Taurus, you going to give me an intro for these folks?

TAURUS
Baby, can we do this later? We gotta a bit of a problem here that we have to take care of-

SISSY
-Well I’m not asking for A&E biography on the motherfuckers! I’m just trying to be polite, get a Christian name, birthplace, a probation number, something.

TAURUS
This is Zo and she-

BERG
-a ho. A thief and a VD messenger. I’m Iceberg or Berg. And I’m a-

ZO
-worthless fucking junkie. Dope fiend, crackhead whose body smells like a dead festering beaver run over by a truck full of pig shit.

SISSY
Sounds just like my family. No wonder I tried to burn down the house as a kid. So where the bathroom at?

TAURUS
Keep going down that path and hang a right at Berg’s...ah, at the busted tent.

Sissy drops her duffel bag at Taurus’s feet. Then she looks Zo and Berg up and down, before walking past them.

ZO
Un-uh! What day-old, store-bought fish did you just bring up here in this camp?

BERG
She nice, man. I mean really really-

TAURUS
She’s mine.

BERG
Totally dig that. Just saying...good job.

TAURUS
And she’s just staying for a spell.

Cast Requirements

3M, 3W

CHARACTERS

1. GETTY – 40s, former army man who helps run the tent city.
2. SIMONE – 30, wife who ran away from an abusive husband.
3. ZO - 20, tomboy and thief who left home as a teenager.
4. TAURUS – 35, ex-con who is camp security.
5. BERG – 30, junkie who plays the buckets for money.
6. SISSY – 25, Taurus’s girlfriend and Getty’s sister.

Set Description

PRODUCTION NOTES
The camp can be sparsely staged with lights strung on poles and series of box crates for sitting in the ‘town square.’ Different pools of light should be used for individual tents.

Production and Development History

reading at The Juilliard School, 2015