Friday, December 16, 2005


INT. DAY — Me’s Dining Room

Me and Her sit at opposite ends of a long wooden table. Each of them has a pile of papers before her. As they talk, they make notes or refer to various pieces of paper.

ME: Are you ever going to say anything?

HER: What am I supposed to say? There’s nothing here I can respond to in a constructive way.

ME: We have to come up with a compromise. I don’t like this any more than you do.

HER: I’m not so sure about that. I think you might. I mean, look at this. You’ve added a whole song here that we never even discussed. How could you write another song and not tell me?

ME: You don’t like it? I thought we needed to explain why the judge was sentencing the young mother to a gulag for hoarding bread. The text didn’t really explore that.

HER: Whether I like it or not isn't the point. You keep adding this stuff without consulting me. Then all you do later is justify it. You’re shutting me out!

ME: Oh, fine. But you can rewrite almost a whole act? You can revise the whole costume concept so that we have to hold a bake sale to pay for all the extra silver lamé?

HER: I told you about the rewrite. You just weren’t listening. And the costume stuff. I didn’t go sneaking in new stuff and then try to act like it made the whole thing better. Do you just want to write this yourself?

ME: No.

HER: Well, then start working with me.

ME: Why do you think we’re sitting here? We’re supposed to be working. Come on. Let’s do it. You and me. Right now. Come on. We can work it out.

HER: What are you doing? Is this you cheerleading?

ME: Come on.

HER: Um, okay.

ME: We’re going to have a theater full of people.

HER: I know.

ME: All of our classmates will be there.

HER: Yeah, I know.

ME: Your mom is going to be there. My mom.

HER: I’ve thought about this.

ME: So we have to have something to put on that stage. We have to present something, or else everybody’s going to laugh at us.

HER: I agree. But you're going to have to start playing straight or this isn’t going to work.

ME: Okay, fine. I’ve been playing straight, but whatever. I’ll meet you halfway, if that’s what you need.

HER: Call it whatever you want. Just don’t try to squeeze in any more material that we haven’t agreed on.

ME: I would never do that.

HER: No, I’m sure.

ME: So maybe we can run down the song list. You want to start with that?

HER: Okay, I guess we can do that. It's a start.

ME: Good. See? We’re working. Right. So skip the overture and stuff … blah blah blah … first thing up is “It’s a Fine Old Mornin’ for Mass Oppression.”

HER: What about the orphan song?

ME: “Giving Kids the Business”? We moved that to the second act, remember?

HER: Oh, right. Go ahead. What’s next?

ME: Then it’s “The Philanderer’s Song.”

HER: The school board will love it. And after that?

ME: Then it’s the first really big song: “Grains of Hope.” That’s when the woman steals the bread and marmalade.

HER: That’s not that big a song. It’s a plot point song.

ME: But it’s a big plot point.

HER: It doesn’t matter. The big songs don’t have to be the ones that are most important to the plot. The big songs are the ones that become hits.

ME: We’re not writing a Broadway show here. Can we focus? It’s just a majorly important song. That’s all I’m saying.

HER: It just sounded like you were ranking it. Sorry. I wasn’t trying to get off the point.

ME: Okay. So next we move on to “Working Girls Like Pretty Dresses, Too.”

HER: Which is technically the first big song.

ME: Let it go.

HER: I said I let it go. I’m just saying. There’s dancing and stuff with that one.

ME: Fine. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. Then off go the prostitutes.

HER: (enthusiastically) One of whom’s the illegitimate daughter of the factory owner!

ME: (pause) Yeah … I still don’t like that.

HER: What? Wait a minute. We’ve been over that a million times.

ME: And wouldn’t you think it’d feel right by now? But it doesn’t. It makes the whole show about heredity and destiny. It undercuts any kind of serious socialistic reading.

HER: Oh, come on. This is supposed to be a musical revue and some skits. We’ve gotten kind of ambitious, but it’s still a school play. Forget about the critics. Other than the school paper, who's going to reveiw this? You're just slowing down the process again!

ME: I’m just telling you what I think. Why are you getting so hostile?

HER: Hello? Have you ever had to work with you?

Me gets up from her chair and walks calmly to the camera. The screen goes dark. A title card appears, reading:

Me and Her still sit at opposite sides of the same table. They each sit very still, staring at one another. They have their hands folded neatly in front of them. Neither of them blinks for several seconds. Ambient sounds come from other parts of the house.

ME: You’re going to lose. You might as well save yourself the eye strain.

HER: You think you’re so smart. You are, but I still might be able to win this yet.

ME: You’re only saying that because you blinked just then.

HER: (blinking angrily) What? I did not!

ME: No, but you did just then.

HER: You’re a cheat!

ME: And you’re a girl who can’t win a staring contest. Just accept your fate.

Her shoves back her chair and stomps over to the camera. The screen goes dark. A title card appears, reading:

Me and Her still sit at opposite sides of the same table. Once again they’re shuffling papers and chatting about their collaboration.

HER: The matter of the backstory on the prostitute is now on the official Compromise Committee agenda. Let’s go on with the songs, if that’s okay with you.

ME: That’s okay with me if it’s okay with you.

HER: It’s okay with me.

ME: Then, okay. That’s actually all of act one.

HER: No, there’s one more. The solo by the blind government functionary.

ME: Did we ever come up with a title?

HER: We were just calling it the “I See” song.

ME: We didn’t cut that?

HER: Well, no. That one’s very important for the whole show. You liked it, remember?

ME: Oh, wait! That’s the one that goes, “I see no industrial waste / I see no corruption and greed”?

HER: “I see no fault indeed with the present regime / For at least I have all that I need.”

ME: Right! Man, I love that!

HER: Yeah, I know. You wrote most of it.

ME: Oh, right. So that’s all of act one?

HER: Blessedly, yes. Only two more to go.