Shuffle

EDITOR’S NOTE:

As you read this blog post, it is important to keep in mind the author’s note (directly below this one) and allow yourself to get creative. While the author had his own intentions while writing the play, this piece is structured to allow the reader to enjoy the seemingly-endless possibilities of scene order, character presence, setting, etc. However, at its core, this play is about a man (named John) with dementia attending a music therapy session, and the scenes that appear on stage are his memories that are being impacted by the genre of music is he listening to.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:

This piece comprises eighteen separate scenes, each of which corresponds to a different theme or trope present in various musical genres. As the title suggests, these scenes may be performed in any order (with the exception of “Prelude” and “Finale” which should remain at the beginning and end, respectively). There should be no music or score heard (except at the beginning and end) throughout the production, instead, performers, directors, and designers should allow the scenes to become reflective of the musical genre they belong to through any theatrical device they see fit. Transitions should consist of fading in and out of blackout. Any line of dialogue may be assigned to any character on the following list.

CHARACTERS:

This is a list of potential characters to place in any given scene. Any character, except for JOHN, may appear more than once or not at all. JOHN is at the heart of this play and should be present in every scene; however, his body may be represented by different actors. 

JOHN: An unforgettable man diagnosed with dementia.

ALEXIS: Persistently loyal to those who aren’t.

ELLIOT: Confidently welcomes fights he cannot win.

JADA: Beloved and struggling with self-worth.

KASSANDRA: Lost in profound questions that are already answered.

LEO: A cunning perfectionist engulfed in guilt.

MAKAYLA: Always attentive to the subject of least importance.

MIKEY: Exceptionally comical and lacks appropriate timing.

ROBERT: A quick-to-anger anti-confrontationalist.

SUZANNE: Avid conversationalist who never knows what to say.

THEO: An optimist who doesn’t recognize personal limits.

TYRESE: A prestigious scholar stuck in his books.

WILL: Unforgivingly self-obsessed and unacknowledged.

VERONICA: Widely-adored and ill-mannered.

WESLEY: Careless and consumed by self-doubt and paranoia.

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Prelude

Orchestral

(One voice, no body. Music.)

It’s nice to see you again. How are you feeling?

I’m glad to hear that.

Well, are you ready to begin?

All right. Lean your head back, close your eyes. Good.

Now, tell me what you remember.

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Abuse

Rock

You’ve been so distant lately

Yes, I

and I am concerned for you because

Please don’t

I don’t want you to be in pain or worry yourself to the point that

That’s not

you hurt yourself.

I won’t.

Here, try this.

No.

No one has to know.

I don’t think

It’s easy, watch.

You understand.

Ah.

Okay.

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Rebellion

Rock

Why are you here?

My brother.

My father.

Me.

So many are dead

For so much money

And so little reason.

I want him to come back home

I did, too, until

before it’s too late

I received a letter in the mail

and he dies.

and he died.

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Heartbreak

Pop

Please don’t do this.

I’m sorry.

Oh, you’re going to be sorry

It isn’t you;

and you’ll regret leaving 

it’s me.

the best thing to ever happen to you.

What we had was special.

I thought so, too.

It’s definitely you.

I’m sorry.

Fuck you.

I’m sorry.

Do you think

No.

that we could

No.

try this again?

Never.

I’ll change.

Okay.

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Hypersexuality

Pop

I’ll never get tired of hearing you say that.

I do.

You do?

No, I do.

Oh. I do, too.

I know you do.

I’ll always do.

Do me.

I will do you.

Untie that tie

Kick off your shoes

lose that belt

take it all off

careful, it was expensive

I know

get on that bed.

Do you want me?

I do.

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Tension

Heavy Metal

I’m tired of being treated like this, Dad. Like you don’t understand me, like you’re tired of me, like you’d rather have me locked away in my room than hear about my day. You know I look up to you, I idolize you, I cherish you, I love you more than anything else. You’re my hero. But you won’t listen; you don’t listen. How could you when you’ve turned the television up to eleven and I’m locked up on the second floor. I just want you to see me, to realize that I’m your biggest fan, to cherish me as much as I cherish you. I hate myself for taking your car, for doing it without asking, for driving it into a tree and nearly killing myself. But I’m not dead. Please don’t treat me like I am. I’m alive, and I want to be alive at your side. I don’t blame you for what happened with mom. I blame myself. I think about those days, every day, but I know we can’t go back to how it used to be. I’ve accepted that. I want you to accept me. It’s cold up here, Dad. Could you turn on the heat? Can you hear me? Please, I just want to hear your voice. Please, open the door. Dad?

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Destruction

Heavy Metal

I just saw it all on the news, Dad. I was at work and it just clicked on and everyone stopped typing and talking and getting coffee and just stared up at the twenty-inch screen in the corner of the room. We saw the smoke billowing out of the buildings, we saw the fire, we saw the people running for their lives. I’m calling to tell you that I love you, Dad. I think I recognize some of the people running, I think they’re your coworkers, yes, that building is where you work. There’s been destructive carnage at your work, Dad, so don’t go in today. I’m calling to tell you not to go into work today, Dad. There’s been so much going on in my life lately, I’ve hardly had time to sit down and watch the news. It’s a good thing someone turned it on so I could tell you. I’ve hardly had the time to tell you anything. I’ve hardly had the time to see you. I’m sorry for being gone, I’m sorry for not helping you, I’m sorry for not taking the time to go to the store and bake your favorite vegetarian lasagna and bring it over in that glass dish I borrowed a few years back. I’m sorry for not answering my phone when you called just a few minutes ago, I was busy at work. I know you’re obviously caught up in something right now, but I want you to call me when you can, okay? Dad, I love you. Call me back soon, okay? Please, I just want to hear your voice. Please, answer the phone. Dad?

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Love

Country

You’re absolutely stunning.

Please.

I mean, look at you

Stop

Your eyes, your hair, your outfit.

it’s nothing.

Waiter, what do you think?

let that poor man do his job.

Come on, it’s not hard to recognize that being here makes me feel freer than I’ve ever felt before. Look, he’s smiling. He agrees with me. Thank you, we’ll each have a glass of water to start, oh, and maybe give us a few more minutes to look over the menu.

This is a nice place.

My mom used to take me here when I was little. I would hop up on that stage over there and dance like an absolute buffoon until a staff member asked me to get down.

You’re kidding.

No, my mom loved it. It was all in the hips, too.

Really.

Well, of course, you’ve just gotta let yourself forget about who’s watching and shake the hell out of your body.

I don’t think I can picture you doing this.

I’ve still got it. Watch me.

No.

I’m going.

We’re going to be kicked out.

Look! The steps are important, too. One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three. Come on up here!

No!

We need to ask you to get off the stage and return to your table.

Understood.

You’re going to get us kicked out and all we’ve had to order is water.

What’d you think?

I think you traumatized Table 7.

Yes, but that’s always true. What about you?

I loved it.

Me?

Well, yes, you.

I love you, too.

Do you want to split a Number 13?

.

Patriotism

Country

What are you troublemakers doing?

Chalk.

Drawing a huge American flag.

It’s almost time for fireworks.

Help us!

You know it’s hard to get down on my knees.

Please!

Yes, please!

Okay, incoming grandparent, three-two-one.

Yay!

Do you know how many stars are on the American flag?

One million.

Close. Fifty.

How many is that?

Lots. But, there’s a pattern. It goes: five-four-five-four-five-four-five-four-five-four-five. You can count to five, can’t you?

Duh!

How many lines are on the flag?

Thirteen. Seven red and six white. Red-white-red-white-red-white-red-white-red-white-red-white-red.

That’s so cool.

Do you like America?

Tonight, yes. But ask me again tomorrow.

.

Happiness

Classical

She has your nose.

I feel sorry for her.

Oh, it’s a cute nose.

I’m terrified.

Who wouldn’t be?

You know, at first, I read all of these books that told me what to do and I thought that would be enough. People always say you’re never ready, so I decided I would be the first person in the world to truly be ready.

You’re ready.

I don’t know if that’s true.

You’ll do better than anyone else I’ve ever known.

I had a dream last night that she liked you more than me.

Oh, so you’re prophetic.

You’re going to make me fight you in front of her, aren’t you?

I love you.

I love you, too.

Have you decided on a name?

I think we have.

Yes, after my mother. 

And my grandmother.

That’s beautiful.

Yes, she is.

.

Nostalgia

Classical

He has beautiful eyes. Just like his parents.

Let’s hope the similarities stop there.

Why? You were a great kid.

As far as you knew.

No, I mean it. I had colleagues rush out of work to tell me their child nearly drowned someone in a toilet bowl. Or another who glued a series of adult toys on the principal’s car.

Yes, well, that’s because they were running by my playbook.

You did not have

I did, actually

a playbook

you just didn’t 

I would have known about it

know about it

Really?

Yes. Except, I didn’t personally assault anyone. Sometimes I sold weed in the bathrooms. Some guy dropped some in the toilet and another kid waterboarded him.

No. You were getting straight-A’s and were a part of the marching band.

Have you met a band kid? 

You were on the Homecoming court.

Everyone loves their supplier.

You had an internship for the city government.

Corruption goes all the way up.

Jesus.

Hey, not in front of the baby.

You hid it so well.

My room reeked.

I assumed that was teenage musk.

You really never did anything like that?

Where do you think you got it from?

Jesus.

Hey.

Let’s hope the similarities stop there.

.

Technology

EDM

Okay, but how do I make a call?

You press this.

I don’t care about all of the extra stuff.

It’s this green icon

All I want is to talk to people

with the little phone symbol on it

and texting and calling is just fine 

and you press it and a number pad comes up

adding games makes no sense.

and then you dial the number you want to call. Try mine.

My thumbs are too big. How do I delete?

The little x symbol in the corner.

Okay, I’m calling you.

I’m answering.

Hello?

Hello.

Your voice sounds weird.

Thanks.

All right. What’s that number for the unemployment office.

You need to hang up with me, first.

How do I make another call?

You need to hang up with me, first.

How do I do that?

You press the red button.

Okay. How do I make a call?

You press this. Now, dial the number. And hit the green button.

It’s ringing.

Good sign.

Ugh. Some robot woman is talking to me right now.

What is it saying?

She’s happy because she’s taken the job of a real human being who needs the money to live.

What did it say?

Their servers are full. I need to call back later.

She said that yesterday.

And the day before that, and the week before that.

It’ll be okay.

She has a lovely voice, though.

Press the red button.

.

Calculation

EDM

You spent five-hundred-sixty-three dollars on fast food this month.

You’re making me self-conscious.

Look. How do you manage to eat that much?

My stomach is a void.

The average meal costs eight dollars.

Yes.

That’s seventy-point-four meals a month.

Sounds about right.

That’s two-point-three meals a day.

Wow.

And if you look at the gas you spend going there

You spent eighty-nine dollars at a hair salon this month

and coming back home to eat

which doesn’t even compare to the twelve-hundred dollars you invested in a backyard pool

And going back out again and coming back home to eat again

we’re going to be broke

at least I share my pool.

I can’t share a McChicken.

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Dancing

Disco

May I have this dance?

It would be an honor.

I don’t have to tell you how lucky you are, do I?

Of course not. This feels like a dream.

How so?

Being a part of your family; that’s something I’ve always wanted. You’ve always been a parental figure in my life.

We’ve always considered you to be one of our own.

I know. But now there’s legal documentation.

Wanna do a spin?

Who says no?

Okay, now my turn.

Good luck.

Exhilarating.

Have you never been spun before?

No, I always lead.

Do you dance often?

Only to make a fool out of myself.

What other way is there?

What’s that look in your eye?

Let’s dance.

We are.

No. Let’s dance.

Take the lead.

.

Expression

Disco

Jesus Christ, you’re not wearing that again.

Don’t curse Him on His birthday.

It’s not actually His birthday.

How could I not wear this?

Maybe if you had any ounce of self-respect.

It’s because I have gallons of it that I wear this every year.

Dear, it’s God-awful.

Again with the cursing. Say it one more time and He shall appear.

Maybe He will ask you to take that sinful thing off.

He died for our sins. He died for me to wear this.

I’m certain Jesus didn’t walk into a crucifixion so that you could parade around in a Santa-hat-wearing, multicolor-sequin llama sweater with its ass hanging out on the back.

It makes the kids happy.

You love the attention.

Don’t feel left out. I got you a matching one. Merry Christmas!

Merry Goddamn Christmas.

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Spirituality

Blues

Why yellow tulips?

Those were her favorite.

She also liked pink carnations.

And lavender.

Sometimes even roses.

Not after she fell into that rose bush.

And then you came around the corner with a cleaver ready to do surgery on her hand.

It was not a cleaver. Just a typical kitchen knife.

Her hand was riddled with thorns. It hurt just to look at.

I didn’t draw any blood while getting them out of her skin.

It was impressive.

She stopped liking roses after that.

That’s why I brought yellow tulips.

Some people think yellow tulips represent cheerfulness.

Well, isn’t that why we’re here.

Funerals aren’t supposed to be happy.

They’re called a celebration of life.

I had a science professor who referred to all of our tests as celebrations.

I’d prefer they’d be called funerals.

I’m leaving these yellow tulips here so she feels the warmth during her journey.

Where is she going?

I think she’s going to heaven.

My neighbor would say she’s being reborn.

I think she’s staying six feet under us.

Regardless, she lives through us.

.

Injustice

Blues

It’s just ten dollars.

There’s nothing we can do.

I don’t understand

The economy is belly-up right now

why you can’t just spare

there’s not enough for us

a few dollars

to eat or afford this house for long

it’s not fair.

I know it isn’t.

One day I’m going to get rich enough to buy you a big house and a five-course meal every day. There’s gonna be a huge kitchen with twelve chairs and a giant T.V. on the wall so you can eat breakfast and watch the news in the morning. You’ll have a fireplace to sit by and drink hot chocolate when it starts to snow. Your bedroom will be the biggest and best part of the house with a closet that’s bigger than a car and your own bathtub so you can put candles on the side and close your eyes and not think about anything. I’ll come over every day and mop up the marble floors and dust off the shelves that hold all of our family pictures. It’ll all be there, I promise.

Pinky promise?

Pinky promise.

.

Finale

Orchestral

(One voice, no body. Music.)

How are you feeling?

That’s what we like to hear.

Are you ready to go?

Your spouse is waiting outside to see you.

I’ll see you at the same time tomorrow.

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Bonus Tracks

(These elements may be implemented at any point throughout the production and may be done as frequently as desired. Some BONUS TRACK items may be implemented in unison with one another. For example, a single scene could be repeated, fast-forwarded, rewound, and paused. There should be a physical representation of their implementation on stage.)

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Repeat

A scene, or a selection of a scene, is performed again. However, something must be changed. For example, dialogue is assigned to a different character or more characters are present on stage.

Fast-forward

A scene, or a selection of a scene, is performed with extensive haste.

Rewind

A scene, or a selection of a scene, is performed backward.

Mute

A scene, or a selection of a scene, is performed silently.

Pause

A scene abruptly stops at any point and silence ensues for as long as necessary.

Glitch

There is a technical glitch in a scene. It could be represented through skewed dialogue, character abnormalities, lighting disarray, etc.

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Oh, My Word! Jacob would love to hear from you after reading this post. If you have any thoughtful insights on the play, interesting/intriguing orders of particular scenes, or fascinating character moments, let me know in the comments!

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I am an aspiring writer looking to expand and improve my craft by working alongside other writers in an interactive community​ focused on symbiotic growth with a dedication to our work.

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