Why We Left Brooklyn

Available in Library

Everything is changing. Jason is finally ready to give up acting - and New York City - for a solid teaching job in Columbus, Ohio. His wife, Michelle, would join him, if not for the budding book deal. On the eve of Jason's departure, their closest friends have gathered among packed boxes and uncertain prospects to mark the occasion with a farewell dinner party. On a blisteringly comic battleground littered with crushed hopes and artisanal flatbreads, ten strivers reckon their successes and wonder how much longer they can hold out.

Read Sample

ACT 2 - Scene 1

JASON
Yoga is the McDonald’s of inner peace.

FRANNY
Want me to get a recommendation for you?

MICHELLE
I’m sure I can do that myself.

GEORGE
Fran likes to find yoga centers.

FRANNY
Because I really think it’s good for people.

MICHELLE
I’ll find one. It’s cool. Something to research while I look for a job. Get me excited about Ohio.

JASON
She’s good at Google. She has a Google-skill. A talent for Google. Googlejitsu. Plus, she is not excited about Ohio, yet. Not yet.

MICHELLE
Jay, no one has ever been excited about Ohio. Even if they are looking forward to Ohio, they don’t get excited.

FRANNY
You should try it though, Jay. I’m serious.

JASON
I could get a yoga mat and carry from class to class. On my back. Around campus. Like an asshole.

FRANNY
Don’t let self-consciousness keep you from trying yoga.

MICHELLE
He’s not going to do it.

FRANNY
There’s really no one it’s not good for.

DAWN
I tried it for a while but with my schedule, it doesn’t work.

FRANNY
There are late night classes.

CHARLIE
I can’t move my knees more than 90 degrees. I had bone spurs all over my body when I was a kid. My knees looked like someone had smashed them with a hammer. Got them all shaved off, in a really painful procedure, between my freshman and sophomore years in college. Shaved bone right off my knees, my shoulders, my back. There are some little scars, but it’s hard to tell. Even so, I still can’t do a lot of things. Like sit Indian style. Honestly, it was this crazy situation because, like, imagine that you’re already thirteen and you have zits and you’re skinny and you’re in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Everything is a fucking pool party or a party on a boat. Everyone wants you to go out with your shorts or with your shirt off and cook brats or whatever. That’s the thing, like most of the year it’s freezing and the weather in dangerous, and the rest of the time, around the lake, it’s like we’re living on the beach. So I would go through all these weird, I mean weird, twisted lies to avoid showing up anywhere in a bathing suit. Machinations. Elaborate scams. Invent funerals, killing off lots of imaginary cousins and uncles. I literally got in a car and drove home once, just disappeared from a party, because I was at this girl’s house and they gave me her brother’s bathing suit when I told them I forgot mine at home. I was in the bath room, holding these shorts, trapped like an animal. I thought, “Fuck it, there’s no way out.” Drove away, just to keep people from seeing my actual body. So, I don’t know, lots of kinds of exercise, that rely on flexibility, are challenging for me. Painful.

Pause.

FRANNY
You should still try yoga.

CHARLIE
I can’t bend my knees.

FRANNY
You could do…

NICOLE
He’s not going to fucking do the downward facing dog Fran. He’d rather be shot in the good knee.

CHARLIE
I don’t have a good knee.

DAWN
I just can’t find the time. That’s the thing. How do you find the time?

FRANNY
You should make the time. Everyone has an excuse. It’s your health. It’s important to just be in your physical shape for a while, to breathe, to experiment.

DAWN
Why don’t I do this? I’ll send you my calendar and you find time in my schedule for your priorities.

Pause.

FRANNY
Fine. You guys make fun. Be prickly. Do it. You don’t want to hear it, and I know it’s a cliche, but yoga saved my life. I had eight months of physical therapy before I started doing yoga. Okay? Eight months. I think I’ve earned the right to be a little evangelical.

Pause.

CHARLIE
I think we are out of beer. I am going to get some more beer.

JASON
Oh I’ll go. I’m sorry.

CHARLIE
No, I’ll do it. I’m the one that brought beer no one likes.

NICOLE
I’ll go with you.

CHARLIE
You don’t...

NICOLE
I’ll come. Fresh air. I’ll help.

CHARLIE
Okay so...

JASON
You don’t have to.

CHARLIE
I am. In need of more. Beer. I’m a drunkard. I will return, with beer.

JASON
Can we give you cash?

NICOLE
I’ll cover it. We’re good.

NICOLE heads to the bedroom to get her coat. CHARLIE accompanies her.

MICHELLE
We should give them money.

JASON
They’re fine.

MICHELLE
They’re buying us beer.

JASON
You’re not even drinking beer.

MICHELLE
Then they’re buying you beer. So give them some money.

JASON
You’re making it weird.

MICHELLE
No I’m not.

NICOLE and CHARLIE re-enter. NICOLE has her coat in hand. CHARLIE grabs his from the coat rack.

NICOLE
Back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

JASON
Shelly says I should help pay for beer.

CHARLIE
No, no. Don’t.

MICHELLE
I insist.

NICOLE
You’re making it weird.

MICHELLE
I am?

NICOLE
Yes. Neither of has a job, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have any money.

CHARLIE
I’m buying.

NICOLE
See?

CHARLIE
I’m buying?

They exit.

FRANNY
I feel bad.

GEORGE
Don’t.

FRANNY
I chased them away.

JASON
No, no. Chuck does this. He does this every time. They go off and get beer.

LEANNA
They do this every time?

FRANNY quietly gets up and heads to the bathroom.

JASON
Well not, every time.

HARRY
She’s married, right?

JASON
Yeah. How’s the restaurant business?

MICHELLE
We want to come and eat. Can we come and eat?

HARRY
Sure.

LEANNA
You haven’t been yet? I’ll take you. You have to try it.

MICHELLE
I read the New York Magazine thing.

GEORGE
Do you wear a chef’s hat?

JASON
Right? Do you get to wear one?

LEANNA
They have to wear hats. But it’s not like…

JASON
You should totally wear one. I mean, you can do whatever you want. Wear a fucking chef’s hat. Wear your colors proud.

HARRY
That’s funny.

JASON
Is it?

HARRY
Yeah, you’re funny.

JASON
Am I?

HARRY
I don’t wear a chef’s hat.

GEORGE
You could get away with it.

HARRY
Why would I do that?

GEORGE
Because it’s hilarious. Or…

JASON
Or instead of a chef’s hat…what do they call those?

GEORGE
I think it’s a toque.

JASON
Like in Endgame.

GEORGE
I had to wear one when Jason and I played Hamm and Clov in college.

JASON
I’m sure you can understand that. Because of the cooking thing. Ham. Clove. You know?

GEORGE
Anyway I wore a toque.

JASON
And it was hilarious. You should wear one.

GEORGE
I was fetching in mine. It matched my bloody stumps and the blindness.

JASON
You were. You were a fucking king of Existential comedy. And that girl was always losing the hat. Who was she?

GEORGE
You dated her.

JASON
Who?

GEORGE
Hannah.

JASON
Right! Hannah. She always lost the hat and was like, “Do you need the hat?” (to GEORGE) And you were like “It’s my costume!”

GEORGE
“I don’t technically need it, per se.”

JASON
No one needs a toque. But…

GEORGE
It made the whole thing funnier. Plus, it’s in the script. “So please, Hannah, find my hat.”

JASON
What was she even doing with it?

GEORGE
Right?

Pause.

JASON
You’re the one who dated Hannah.

Pause.

Anyway…(to HARRY) you should wear one.

GEORGE
A toque. It’s really the best.

Pause.

HARRY
I guess so.

Pause.

MICHELLE
How long have you been open?

HARRY
Almost a year.

JASON
What kind of food is it?

HARRY
Just, you know, standards. Lamb. Fish.

JASON
Oh come on. There’s always more to it. There’s a theory behind it. A style of presentation. The way things are ‘plated.’ It’s like urban art meets hydroponics.

Pause.

FRANNY re-enters makes her way back to GEORGE.

HARRY
What does that mean?

JASON
Sorry, I don’t know.

HARRY
I...yes.

Pause.

You’re right of course. There’s a theory. We would never simply prepare food well and serve it. That’s what diners do.

JASON
Right. You’d never eat in a fucking diner.

HARRY
Would you? With that cutlery? A wait-staff wearing aprons?

JASON
Cutlery! Aprons! Exactly!

HARRY
Our cuisine is fear-based.

Pause.

Basically, if you know anything about venison, I’m not assuming you don’t, but if you know anything about it, you’ll know that when a deer realizes it’s about to be killed, when it senses mortal danger, its adrenal gland goes into overdrive so that it can more quickly escape. It voids its bowels, the way you would if you were afraid, its mouth goes dry, all sorts of changes occur. To me, that slightly, almost imperceptible sense of extra blood sugar and chemistry adds something essential. Terrified animals, in essence, sort of season themselves. It’s a light, frothy hint of horror. It’s like those moments in a slasher film just before the monster jumps out. That delicious feeling, only more, actually, delicious.

Pause.

So anyway, what New York Magazine liked about us is that we’re inspired by the idea that food isn’t meant to be treated like it’s wearing a white dress. We humiliate pork with paprika, humble ham with local honey, tease trout with turmeric. We serve whole calf head with a crown of rosemary thorns. I actually serve bowls of eyeballs, in a tear-infused reduction.

Pause.

That’s a popular one, actually.

JASON
How are the tears…collected? Or infused?

HARRY
Or reduced?

Pause.

It’s political. Everything is, right? What isn’t political?

Pause.

You’re aghast. But look, we’re just saying that every restaurant is Faces of Death so let’s all give that fact a big hug and a kiss. And we’re not being weak-kneed about making sure your cow is smiling right before we shave its head off and feed it to you.

Pause.

JASON
(To the room) Are you fucking kidding me? The press likes this place?

LEANNA
Loves it.

JASON
Because it’s…funny or …. because it’s…Clive Barker?

GEORGE
Good reference to 1988. I think you really hit a home run.

JASON
Or something. Or something like that. Saw.

Pause.

MICHELLE
Jay.

Pause.

Jay he’s joking.

HARRY
I am fucking with you.

Cast Requirements

5M, 5F

Set Description

A single set, multi-use living room in a Park Slope apartment.

Press

"CRITIC'S PICK! See Why We Left Brooklyn. Frowsy, Funny, Quietly Furious. Matthew Freeman’s play—a dinner party from hell packed with aging, underemployed actors and artists clinging to the fringes of their ever-gentrifying borough—doesn’t stop short of caricature: It barrels right through, spilling up-sold wine and cheap irony all over the Ikea furniture." - Scott Brown, New York Magazine

Press

Production and Development History

Why We Left Brooklyn (or The Dinner Party Play) was first produced by Theater Accident in association with Blue Coyote Theater Group at the East Fourth Street Theater in New York, NY from August 29th to September 21st, 2013. It featured the following creative team and cast:

Director: Kyle Ancowitz
Assistant Director: Annette Storckman
Stage Manager: Kaitlin Nemeth
Assistant Stage Manager: Kayle Faede
Production Manager: Mark Staufenberg
Set Design: Kerry Chipman
Lighting Design: Nicholas Houfek
Costume Design: Caroline Berti

Cast:
Michelle: Susan Louise O'Connor
Jason: Andrew Schwartz
Charlie: Matthew Trumbull
George: David DelGrosso
Franny: Marguerite Stimpson
Nicole: Moira Stone
Dawn: Rebecca Gray Davis
Sanjeet: Imran Sheikh
Leanna: Sarah K. Lippmann
Harry: Jay Leibowitz