The Given

Available in Library

Cathea is torn between her two best friends - Swannee, an HIV positive man seeking validation from conventional society and Leon, a drug user and “bug chaser” - a man who actively seeks infection and wants little to do with the mainstream. Working as a stripper, she meets and falls for a married man who challenges her perspective on her world. But will acceptance from the mainstream ever be possible for Cathea and her friends on the fringe?

Read Sample

The Gift.

SCENE I
The dressing room of a run down strip-club. Cathea, a woman in her twenties sits on the floor by a locker. She is changing out of street clothes into a one-piece bikini contraption. Suzie Wild an enthusiastic woman of 40 sloppily applies powder –she is wearing a wig and a sequined bikini. She takes her time putting on arm bands, touching up her wig, body lotion, etc.

SUZIE
People wit no arms …or no leg - they can’t walk, mother fuckas want a pee on you … today a midget and a prostitute come in, sounds like the beginning of a joke, they don’t even pass go, they make a bee line right for me. Look at me --I look like some kind of freak magnet to you?
(No response. She does.)
This place is a piece a shit.
I used to work over on twelf avenue. Used to hafta wait for them at the door girls was so cut throat over there. Hadda grab em soon as they walk in. Then I’d get someone wanted me to let him pull my hair out, I stand there. And I’ma one that grabbed him! Ha!

CATHEA
Those places are different though.

SUZIE
What do you mean?

CATHEA
Not like this like with nice tables and lights and everything.

SUZIE
Don’t kid yourself baby this is the worst a the worst.

SUZIE
(About Cathea’s outfit)
Hey I like that that’s cute.

CATHEA
Thank you.

SUZIE
Where’d you get that.

CATHEA
I got a guy.

SUZIE
A gay guy?

CATHEA
He used to come around Sheer Elegance. Met him my first night. He’s like my best friend now.

SUZIE
We had a gay guy here was our house mom. He croaked.

Cathea looks at her.

SUZIE
Sheer Elegance huh? Fancy. What’s it like working at Elegance?

CATHEA
I got fired.

SUZIE
For doin what, givin head?

CATHEA
No!

SUZIE
Hey relax, I don’t care. I don’t care you let them jerk off, you stand there. Wanna get pissed on? I’ll give you the guys number.

Cathea primps to avoid talking to her.

SUZIE
What, you get liposuction?

CATHEA
Excuse me.

SUZIE
On ya gut?

CATHEA
No.

SUZIE
Got no kids, huh?

CATHEA
When I have kids I’m not gonna be here.

SUZIE
No? Where you gonna be?

Silence.

SUZIE
Tonight your first night?

CATHEA
Yes.

SUZIE
‘Spose it’s for the best you got bumped. Bye bye Elegance! Might as well lay down with swine. Ha!

Cathea reacts, but decides not to respond.

SUZIE
I don’t know why I bother …I got eighteen minutes leff ‘fore I’m off the clock. Less this motherfucka calls me onstage.
Fuck it.
(She begins to undo everything she’s just done…Flips off her shoes, unpins her wig, takes off jewelry, etc.)
Anyway I gotta get some red eye. Tomorrow I got yoga.

CATHEA
Shut eye.

SUZIE
(Handing her a bottle of prescription meds)
Huh? Hey can you read this for me?

CATHEA
(Reading)
Take as needed

SUZIE
That’s it?

CATHEA
(Reading)
Do not mix with alcohol.

SUZIE
(Mumbling)
Kiss my ass
Oooh you wanna see the pictures my uncle took?

Suzie, in disarray now, no wig, wiped make-up, regular underwear, goes to her locker.

SUZIE
You get pictures done?

CATHEA
No

SUZIE
You didn’t get yer pictures done? You should get your pictures done//for magazines and

CATHEA
I said no.

Suzie takes out some glossy “headshot” pictures.

DJ
This is your last chance to tip the ladies Next up Suzie Wild. Suzie Wild. That’s Suzie Wild on Standby.

SUZIE
For fuck sake.

DJ
Suzie Wild ….Suzie Wild Stand By.

SUZIE
I Can Feel Every Single Nerve.

CATHEA
Want me to cover your stage?

SUZIE
Can you go? Gimme justa second I’ll meet you up there.

CATHEA
Well I’m not gonna to do half a show for you.

SUZIE
You’re right. That’s alright. Make money.

CATHEA
I’m gonna tell the DJ

SUZIE
(Grabs her)
Wait.
Doncha wanna see these pictures my uncle tooka me?

CATHEA
Maybe later.

SUZIE
You got time.

Cathea flips through them as fast as possible...She can’t help but be struck by one.

CATHEA
This ones nice.

SUZIE
Yeah?

CATHEA
Soft.

SUZIE
“Soft” Ha! That man He grabbed my titties the minute I turnt twelve.
(Cathea is struck.)
It’s alright. Soon after I got caught stealin a bike outside the lemon ice king a corona when I tell you the HOTTEST day of the year. What an idiot I was! Anyway I went to juvvie right away thank god. Hadda be 600 witnesses saw that shit. Ha!
Don’ look at me like that I aint gonna steal from you. I was justa kid.

DJ
Again That’s Suzie Wild. Suzie Wild Standby

Cathea looks at herself in the mirror one last time.

CATHEA
He don’t bother you no more I hope.

SUZIE
My uncle, oh no. No that’s dead ‘n buried. Water under the bridge as they say.

CATHEA
Did you tell him.

SUZIE
Tell him what?

CATHEA


What he took from you?

SUZIE
…Took? …Took? No, Oh no baby. What it was was a gift. It was a gift.

They stay like this. Light extinguishes to black…As the hands reset the stage.

PLAY CONTINUES...

Cast Requirements

3 men
3 women

Multiple Sets

Production and Development History

Produced:
Studio Dante (September 2006, Directed by Michael Imperioli and Zetna Fuentes).