THIS IS NOT THE PLAY

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Distrust and prejudice abound when a black playwright tries to wrangle a story out of white characters. After an intensely personal confrontation, it looks as though she might be getting somewhere, building a rapport. But then she discovers things about her potential protagonist that make her wary of putting the girl on the stage.

Read Sample

WHITE GIRL 2
I was forced to go to the shittiest of shit schools not by an oppressive government, not because of some bullshit Separate-But-Equal law, but because my own mother made me! My own mother was oppressing me! Sabotaging my chances at success!

PLAYWRIGHT
(genuinely impressed by the drama)
Wow.

WHITE WOMAN
How is getting you into Princeton sabotage?

WHITE GIRL 2
You didn’t get me into Princeton! I got me into Princeton!

PLAYWRIGHT
(more to herself than anyone else)
I am going to write the fuck out of this play.

WHITE WOMAN
You want to write a play about this, you make sure you get it right. The only reason she got into Princeton was because of the decisions I made for her.
(to White Girl 2)
How far do you think you would’ve gotten if I didn’t do what I did? If I didn’t give you something to rage against? Light a fire under your privileged, white ass?
WHITE WOMAN
(back to the Playwright)
Write a play about that!

WHITE GIRL 2
…What?

WHITE WOMAN
You never stopped to think that I might know what I was doing, did you? You were just so busy blaming me for your
temporary, easily surmountable problems. Do you remember what you wrote your college essay on?

(White Girl 2 is paralyzed by
the memory.)

WHITE WOMAN (CONT.)
No? Here, let me refresh your memory:
(an essay materializes in her hand)
“Overcoming”… that’s the title. “Overcoming… by Maren Frank…”

PLAYWRIGHT
Maren. Yes…

WHITE WOMAN
“Yesterday, I overheard a conversation that my History teacher was having on her cell phone. In the middle of class. ‘No, it’s cool. We can talk,’ she said. ‘It’s last period on a Friday. Half the class ain’t here and the other half ain’t gettin’ nothin’ done.’ I had to strain to hear because a few of my fellow students were boisterously debating the merits of acrylic nails versus those of gel tips at a decibel completely at odds with the subject. A couple more were practicing a step-routine in the back of the classroom. Yet another was taking a mid-afternoon nap, an impressive feat given all the noise. I am getting an A+ in History. In fact, I have an A+ in each and every one of my classes. They don’t count for anything. At least not to a place like Princeton. I know this. All you have to do to pass most of the classes here is show up. Actually doing assignments is a bonus. Science is the only class I get advanced work in because the Biology teacher noticed that I actually wanted to learn and was kind enough to offer me an independent study…”

WHITE WOMAN (CONT.)
(breaking away from the reading)
The result, by the way, of a conversation with yours truly. And fifty bucks an hour. “Kind” my ass. Didn’t know that, did you?

(White Girl 2 is stunned.)

WHITE WOMAN (CONT.)
Shall I continue?

(The Playwright nods, “Please do.”)

WHITE WOMAN (CONT.)
“Despite all this, I know what Occam’s Razor is and can explain the differences between the original principle and each of its subsequent philosophical variations. I know <>. I can identify virtually any quotation from any of Shakespeare’s works with an accuracy that belies the fact that I read most of them only once, and— like many of the young scholars vying for admission to your school— I can solve a Rubik’s cube in under a minute. I mention all this not to show off my hard-won knowledge, but with the hope that you will appreciate that it was, indeed, hard-won. I need you to know that I am not one to let sub-standard schooling get in the way of a top-notch education, nor am I the type to be overcome by a systematically constructed culture of ignorance. I can and will overcome anything that life throws at me…”
(Beat.)
That was a little cliché, Maren. You could’ve done better.
(back to reading)
“I can and will overcome anything that life throws at me. But I can’t help wondering— and I hope that you are intrigued enough to join me in doing so— what I could do, what I could learn, what I could be at a top-notch university.”

(Pause.)

PLAYWRIGHT
(impressed)
You wrote that?

WHITE GIRL 2
Yeah.

PLAYWRIGHT
And you lived that. Hm.

WHITE WOMAN
Ask her what she did at that top-notch university.

WHITE GIRL 2
Ma…

WHITE WOMAN
Ask her why they kicked her out. Go on.

Cast Requirements

PLAYWRIGHT (black female)
WHITE GIRL 1
WHITE GIRL 2
MAN (white)
WHITE WOMAN

Set Description

Abstract space.

Honors

New York Innovative Theater Award

Production and Development History

Commissioned by Mad Dog Theater Company (NYC).
Regional premierer at the Cleveland Public Theater.