Crawl, Fade to White

A scream is heard throughout the stratosphere. It is the voice of the lamp. Louise is selling this expensive family heirloom to keep her daughter April in school and cease her more sordid “consultant” profession. April rushes home with lover in tow to halt the proceedings and save the lamp, but it has been intercepted by a quiet and bizarre middle-aged couple with a haunting secret. Attempts to reclaim the lamp are made, as a misplaced father slowly fades to white in the background.

Read Sample

A stroke (/) marks the point of interruption in overlapping dialogue. When the stroke is not immediately followed by text, the next line should occur on the last syllable of the word before the slash— not an overlap but a concise interruption

ONE.
FRAN and DAN in their living room. They are dressed very stodgily, in drab clothing from the late 60's. DAN is folding little autumn-colored pieces of paper. FRAN is cutting leaves from them. Their actions perfectly mirror one another; foldsnip, fold-cut. Something taut and fat and terrifically unsaid hangs between them. Piles of colored paper leaves lie at their feet in orange, yellow, red. They sit there for a bit. Finally. The doorbell rings. FRAN and DAN glance at each other, bewildered and timorous. FRAN stands and hundreds of tiny color scraps fall from her lap at her feet. She opens the front door. It is LOUISE, in her coat and hat. She is made-up and well-coifed. She smiles graciously. Beside her is a large cardboard box.

LOUISE
Hello.

FRAN
Hello.

LOUISE
I hope it isn’t too late to call...

FRAN
Not at all.

FRAN opens the door wider and gestures for LOUISE to enter. LOUISE drags the cardboard box in after her carefully. FRAN resumes her cutting nervously. LOUISE sits down, still in her coat and hat. DAN has stopped folding and is staring at LOUISE.

LOUISE
I live next door.

FRAN
We’ve seen you. Not seen as in “seen” really. We didn’t know where you loved. Lived. I meant lived.

LOUISE
I’ve been there twenty years. You can see my house through that window.

FRAN and DAN look through the window. They see LOUISE’s house.

FRAN and DAN
Ahh.

FRAN (cont.)
Your bedroom window. Is facing our living room window. You don’t have curtains.

LOUISE
I suppose I don’t.

DAN
We’ve seen you. In your bedroom.

LOUISE
Ah.

DAN
You have guests sometimes.

LOUISE
Indeed.

DAN
Men.

LOUISE
I do.

FRAN
It's going to rain tomorrow. Upwards, they say…

LOUISE
I heard.

FRAN
We’re having a sale. A Fall Clearance Sale. We’re selling some things. We wanted to

DAN
Wanted to

FRAN
Sell things. Old things we kept. It’s a Fall Clearance Sale. But the trees lost their leaves too early this year. Fall fell before our sale.

DAN
So we’re making our own leaves. So people will know.

LOUISE
Actually, that’s why I’m here.

DAN
We’re almost out of paper…

LOUISE
For the sale.

FRAN
It doesn’t start until eight A.M. tomorrow.

LOUISE
I understand… have you another pair of scissors?

FRAN
Have we, Dan?

DAN
Scissors? Another pair? No. No, we only have one pair. One pair of scissors.

FRAN
One pair of scissors. Only one.

LOUISE
May I use those?

FRAN looks at her scissors. She looks at DAN. She looks at LOUISE. She looks at the scissors. She hands LOUISE the scissors, very carefully, handle first. LOUISE approaches DAN. She places her fingers on the paper he is folding and removes it from his hands. He lets her, stunned. LOUISE returns to her seat and begins cutting the folded paper. DAN and FRAN look at each other, incredulous.

LOUISE
You see, I’d like to sell something in your sale.

FRAN
Sell? Well.

FRAN looks at DAN.

DAN
Well.

DAN looks at FRAN. They both look at the cardboard box next to LOUISE.

FRAN
Is it… I mean/

LOUISE
An antique. It has been in my family for a century. I have no doubt it will go at once. The city folk flock in early, at around six-thirty. I’ve attached a price. Be sure to stand firm. I’ll come by tomorrow evening to collect my cash. You may retain fifteen percent for yourselves. Does that sound equitable?

FRAN
Yes

DAN
Equitable.

FRAN
Yes.

LOUISE is done cutting. She hands the scissors back to FRAN and the paper back to DAN. She stands beside the large box.

LOUISE
Very good. Now if you don’t mind…

She gestures for them to turn their backs.

Cast Requirements

2 men
3 women

Press

“A flair for the peculiar distinguishes playwright Sheila Callaghan... [she finds] raw emotion under the deadpan uproar... Crawl has arresting elegance.”
—Los Angeles Times (Recommended)

See More

Press

“Sheila Callaghan takes us through the looking glass into a play with surreal plot developments... a strange-but-touching study of estrangement, loneliness and reconciliation.”
—LA Weekly (Recommended)

“Callaghan’s dialogue is sharp and bizarrely incisive, surely heralding another step in the evolution of a great contemporary playwright.”
—Entertainment Today

“The brilliance of Sheila Callaghan’s play and a lesson to every aspiring writer is that she takes a mother-daughter conflict, dissects it, probes every aspect with jewel-like precision, incorporates flashbacks, contrasts it with frightened surreal neighbors—then presents the results in 90 taut minutes structured with the lyric prose of a poem. This densely layered play raises as many questions as it answers but it’s a quirky delight.”
—CurtainUp

Production and Development History

Produced: Theatre of NOTE, Los Angeles (2005); 13P (2008).

Staged reading: Nascentworks (2005).

Developed: Playwright’s Center, Minneapolis (2003).

Commissioned: South Coast Repertory (2000).