Beautiful Province (Belle Province)

Available in Library

Fifteen-year-old Jimmy escapes a Rust Belt adolescence by driving across Quebec with Mr. Green, his high school French teacher. Will the end of the road lead to Jimmy’s sexual and linguistic awakening —- or to something far more tragic? Learning another language has never been this reckless.

Read Sample

SCENE 7: "Mr. Green Dreams Of Finding A Sidewalk Café"

(MR. GREEN is dreaming again. He’s strolling. A WAITER approaches him. They speak in the register of a higher-level language tape.)

WAITER
A table for one, sir?

MR. GREEN
A table?

WAITER
Are you dining with us?

MR. GREEN
May I?

WAITER
Of course!

MR. GREEN
Now that you mention it, I’m quite hungry.

WAITER
Paris is famous for its wide boulevards. Along the boulevards are many sidewalk cafés.

(MR. GREEN realizes he’s at a café.)

MR. GREEN
And such a charming sidewalk café this is!

WAITER
At a sidewalk café, you can drink coffee, order a light meal, or read the newspaper.

MR. GREEN
I just might do all three!

WAITER
Welcome to Charles de Gaulle Airport! Welcome to Paris! Welcome to France!

MR. GREEN
I’m sorry. I thought this was a sidewalk café.

WAITER
This is a sidewalk café. In Charles de Gaulle Airport!

MR. GREEN
I’m still in the airport?

WAITER
Why would you want to leave the airport?

MR. GREEN
To see Paris. I’ve always wanted to see Paris.

WAITER
But all of Paris is right here!

MR. GREEN
That’s convenient.

WAITER
A table for one, sir?

MR. GREEN
Thank you.

(MR. GREEN sits down.)

WAITER
This is one of the most famous cafés in Charles de Gaulle Airport. Many artists and writers have come to this café to discuss art and writing.

MR. GREEN
How interesting!

WAITER
In fact, you are sitting at the table that was the favorite of Marcel Proust.

MR. GREEN
I am?

WAITER
Why, of course! Would you like an aperitif?

MR. GREEN
By aperitif, do you mean an alcoholic beverage consumed before a meal?

WAITER
Yes, an aperitif.

MR. GREEN
What would you recommend?

WAITER
A Kir Royal!

MR. GREEN
A Kir Royal?

WAITER
A Kir Royal, made with crème de cassis and champagne, is named after Felix Kir, the mayor of Dijon who invented the drink.

MR. GREEN
Sounds delicious!

WAITER
One Kir Royal, coming up!

(The WAITER brings MR. GREEN a glass. MR. GREEN drinks it.)

MR. GREEN
Mmmm, full-bodied!

WAITER
Are you ready to order your light meal?

MR. GREEN
I sure am!

(The WAITER gives MR. GREEN a menu.)

MR. GREEN
(Reading the menu.)
“Salt.” “Bread.” “Salad.”

(Pause.)

This is it? Salt? Bread? Salad? This is the Level One menu. Level One vocabulary!

WAITER
As you turn the pages, the vocabulary will become more advanced.

(MR. GREEN turns the pages.)

MR. GREEN
I see.

WAITER
The special for today is Braised Rabbit With Mustard.

MR. GREEN
What’s that like?

WAITER
A very young, nubile rabbit smothered in a saucey mélange of spicy and creamy. It’s a triumph of earthy sensations.

MR. GREEN
Sounds interesting. But not rabbit for me.

(The WAITER’s tone becomes increasingly sexual.)

WAITER
Perhaps the lamb cutlet? The leg of a very young, juicy lamb. With a texture that’s firm and velvety. Served on the bone. The bone is quite large and satisfying to the eye.

MR. GREEN
No lamb either.

WAITER
Stewed veal then? A very young, tender steer on the brink of manhood is kept tightly in a cage ensuring the flesh remains rich and succulent. The way it melts in your mouth will leave you begging for mercy.

MR. GREEN
I’m not really sure what I want.

WAITER
Turn the page.

MR. GREEN
Oh.

WAITER
You know these dishes?

MR. GREEN
My students. How interesting they’re appearing in a menu in France. Considering how badly they spoke the language! And their photos are organized by class year. Convenient.

Oh, here’s Topher. He pronounces all the consonants though how many times I’ve told him they’re often silent at the end of a word! But his smile is so dazzling, made even more so by the braces he’s had to wear, that I try to be especially patient.

And Rohit! Speaks awful French, but beautiful Hindi. In the main office, he speaks it when he calls home to his mother. His eyes sparkle when he speaks it. Hindi and French are related, you know. They’re both Indo-European.

And here’s Nate. Nate’s the class comedian. Always ready with a joke. Always ready to put everyone at ease.

And Connor, the lacrosse player, with the requisite musculature of the legs. He wore his jersey once to class. Number thirty-five.

Nate and Connor. I do believe they’re having sexual intercourse. Not in class, of course. But I imagine they do. I can picture it right now.

(The WAITER begins to sound like a therapist.)

WAITER
How often do you have these fantasies?

MR. GREEN
Often.

WAITER
While you’re in class?

MR. GREEN
While I’m in class. While I’m buying groceries. While I’m filling up at the gas station. It’s not a fantasy of course.

WAITER
What do you mean?

MR. GREEN
Connor and Nate are having sex. It’s not just a fantasy I’ve created. It’s a fact. I know the difference between reality and fantasy.

WAITER
But you fantasize.

MR. GREEN
Yes, that’s the word. Let’s be precise with our words.

(Pause.)

Look, here’s a picture of me. I look so distinguished, don’t I? And they have no idea. None of the other teachers. Definitely none of the parents. It’s just Mr. Green. French teacher.

(He looks down at what he’s holding. It’s no longer a menu, but a yearbook.)

Is it strange? That I have this yearbook.

WAITER
Many high school teachers have a copy of their yearbook.

MR. GREEN
How often do they look through them? Not as often as I do! I have every one since I started teaching. Thirty-one volumes on a shelf. With each one, the picture of Mr. Green grows older and more distinguished.

(Pause.)

I can’t look at myself anymore. Sorry.

(He turns to another page.)

Jimmy. He’s the best student in class. The way he picks up French is remarkable. At the same time, I believe he’s the most innocent one in the room.

WAITER
Why do you use the word “innocent?”

MR. GREEN
I don’t know.

WAITER
Do you think you’re not innocent?

MR. GREEN
I hate how you judge me. Stop judging me! This is fucking bullshit! I’m going to die eventually, right? We’re all going to die and I’m going to die never having what I want. No one deserves to feel like this. No one deserves to feel this ache. Well I say, fuck it! Fuck it!

WAITER
Calm down, Mr. Green.

MR. GREEN
I will not calm down! I will not! I will do as I please. For once in my life, I will do as I please. I am a fucking human being and I want to feel something real. I fucking deserve to feel something real. Something beautiful. And something real!

(End of scene.)

SCENE 8: "A Hotel Room At Niagara Falls"

(A hotel room. JIMMY is lying on a bed. MR. GREEN is standing over him, carrying a paper bag.)

MR. GREEN
I’m back.

(JIMMY wakes up.)

JIMMY
Sorry, I didn’t know you’d left.

MR. GREEN
I nabbed us some nourishment for the evening.

JIMMY
Thanks. But I thought we were going out for dinner.

MR. GREEN
No, no! Let’s stay in. We’ve had such a long day. You must be exhausted.

JIMMY
I just took a nap. I’ve got my energy back. If you want to go out.

MR. GREEN
It’s freezing.

JIMMY
It’s not that cold.

MR. GREEN
After being soaked from the Falls? What if you get hypothermia?

JIMMY
We didn’t get soaked. Since we bought ponchos on the boat.

MR. GREEN
Your memory is so keen.

JIMMY
How can I forget? I’ve never done so many things in one day. Hiking a cliff, seeing the Falls –- both from the American and Canadian side, going to a casino. I’ve never been to a casino!

MR. GREEN
You quite relished those card games.

JIMMY
I’ll pay you back. I swear.

MR. GREEN
Don’t worry about the losses. That comes with games of chance.

(Pause.)

So you don’t mind staying in tonight?

JIMMY
I guess not. What’s for dinner?

(MR. GREEN pulls out various bottles from the bag along with two paper cups.)

JIMMY
That looks like alcohol.

MR. GREEN
We’ll start with an aperitif. That’s a beverage consumed before a meal.

Cast Requirements

4 men

Set Description

Flexible set

Honors

Yale Drama Series Prize for Emerging Playwrights, judged by John Guare (2012)

Publisher

Yale University Press (2013)

Production and Development History

Bay Area Playwrights Festival (2011), The Inkwell / InkReading (2010), The Inkwell / Showcase (2009)