System Wonderland

Available in Library

Drama
Somewhere on the LA County Coast… The Oscar for the best screenplay of 1994 still sits on Jerry’s mantle. He was famous then. So was his wife, Evelyn, who now re-watches her reels and pines for her former life as a happening actress. When a producer sends a young assistant to help Jerry finish his script, these three lost artists begin to boil in this crucible of a play about talent, lust, truth, and the high price of making art.

From left: Robert Desiderio (Jerry), John Sloan (Aaron) and Shannon Cochran (Evelyn) in System Wonderland at South Coast Rep
From left: Robert Desiderio (Jerry), John Sloan (Aaron) and Shannon Cochran (Evelyn) in System Wonderland at South Coast Rep

Read Sample

EVELYN
It’s different for women. We die and never know. They move the camera further away. They use filters. That’s how you know. They shoot you in the dim light. In the dark. You’re dead. They put you in a box. On Hollywood Squares.
(Pause.)
I don’t want to be sad tonight…
(Short pause.)
For God’s sake. Say something.
(Pause.)

AARON
You’re very beautiful.

EVELYN
You should know I am immune to facile compliments.

AARON
Facile?

EVELYN
Yes facile. Facile men. Facile words. Empty words about how I look. I’m over-exposed. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard artless men say artless things about my body and the way my skin appears in certain lights. I am immune to such words. And those who use them can go to hell. And you, most likely, can go to hell.

AARON
Paris Moon.

EVELYN
What?

AARON
It’s from Paris Moon.

EVELYN
What?

AARON
What you just said. The whole thing is—

EVELYN
I’d like to be alone now.

AARON
Eunice says it to Bram on the veranda.

EVELYN
No.

AARON
You said it to Bram on the—

EVELYN
Go away.

AARON
It’s my like one of my favorite—

EVELYN
I said get out!

(Pause.)

AARON
I wrote one once.

EVELYN
What?

AARON
Those letters you get.

EVELYN
What about them?

AARON
I wrote one… once.

EVELYN
When you were a boy?

AARON
No.
(Beat.)
Good night.

(AARON rises to leave.)

EVELYN
What did it say?

AARON
I don’t remember.

EVELYN
I don’t believe you.

AARON
It was about particles.

EVELYN
Particles of what?

AARON
Of you.

EVELYN
Yeah, there’s pieces of me all over this town.

AARON
No. Not pieces. Particles. It was about atomic particles.

EVELYN
I’m not really a science person.

AARON
They’re the smallest things, you see. They’re uh… They’re always spinning. And they— It was about how they move faster in heat. How they whirl around each other and… I’m sorry. I’m embarrassing myself.

(Short Pause.)

EVELYN
What else did it say?

AARON
I don’t remember.

EVELYN
You’re a liar.

AARON
They have gravity. They’re attracted to each other. There’s something between them. But they never touch. They can’t. They can be very close and never touch. It’s this magnetic sort of grace. It’s grace. Until something changes. Something changes and they collide.

EVELYN
Then what happens?

AARON
They slam into each other. And there’s tremendous heat. And light. And, sometimes. Sometimes they wind up embedded. In each other. And it changes them. They become unrecognizable. Together they’re something new.

EVELYN
You never wrote that.

AARON
Yes I did.

EVELYN
No. I would have remembered that one. I would have remembered something like that.

AARON
I never sent it.

EVELYN
Ah. Well, I can say one thing for the crazies then. At least they have the guts to put it in the mail.

AARON
I don’t think so.

EVELYN
No?

AARON
No. If they had guts, they’d come to your house.

Cast Requirements

1 woman
2 men

Press

“David Wiener's powerful play about the deeply personal whirl of machinations at a Hollywood studio, should be required viewing for industry types and other voyeurs curious to see the exposed guts of their business.” – The Hollywood Reporter

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Press

“The script is masterful. Its dialogue is at times both terse and soaring. The action never flags as it moves through its varying moods.” – LA Stage

“Wiener has a striking gift for clipped, overlapping repartee in which the subject of conversation remains buried beneath the words tumbling around it, which contributes to the mystery and suspense already built into the psychosexual drama.” – LA Weekly

Production and Development History

Commissioned: South Coast Repertory.

Produced: South Coast Repertory (2007).