Friday, February 18, 2011

Play - Prince

[Ethan “Prince” Wane: narcissistic guitarist/lead (tenor) singer of a pop idol group, wants to break away from being a teenybopper and become a real rock star
Chloe: agoraphobic antisocial girl with absent parents
Sawyer: guitarist/baritone singer of band; sees Prince as his closest rival
Jon: keyboardist, quietest of the group, but very observant; often makes critical but shrewd remarks
Hesse: bassist, Jon’s older brother, loud and loves a party atmosphere, often the one who resolves any conflict between Prince and Sawyer]

A garage with music equipment set up. SAWYER, JON and HESSE seated around a makeshift plastic table, waiting for PRINCE to arrive.
Sawyer I thought he’s living with you guys now.
Hesse Staying.
Sawyer Living, staying, whatever – what’s the difference?
Jon The difference is that it’s not permanent.
Sawyer You mean staying?
Hesse That’s what I said.
Sawyer So since he’s staying with you guys, where the hell is he? Still rolling his pretty ass out of bed?
Hesse His shaver broke. He went out to the store. Said he’ll be back in ten.
Sawyer So we’re going to sit here and wait for him to primp himself up? Damn, I should’ve brought my makeup kit along.
Hesse You know it’s been harder for him to get around lately. What with the paparazzi and all.
Sawyer By getting around, you mean… (Raises brows)
Hesse (rolling his eyes) You know Prince isn’t like that. He’s ridiculously devoted. I don’t think he’s ever even gotten over Heather ditching his ass for that prick. Which is why I can’t understand those headlines. It’s not like him to do anything of that sort.
Sawyer But it is just like him to get himself into all that mess. He’s too nice to those fans. Girls throw themselves at him and he’s all, (feigns a prissy attitude) Oh hello, thank you for your support. I know you love me. A photo? Sure, why ever not?
Garage shutters roll up. Enter PRINCE, with CHLOE in tow.
Prince Did I just hear you guys talking about me? (Takes off mask and smirks) I might blush.
Hesse Yeah, okay. You got your grand entrance. Now let’s jam.
Prince I spent fifteen minutes shaking off the paps. Give me a second to take a breather, will you? I need to shave. It’s bad enough walking around with a half-shaven face. Good thing no one saw me with this thing on. (Gestures to mask)
Sawyer We’re at band practice. Why do you need to shave before band practice? And this whole problem with the paps wouldn’t have been a problem if… (Trails off as he spots CHLOE) Well, hello, beautiful.
Jon (staring at CHLOE) And this is…?
Prince Oh. This is Chloe, my new assistant. She lives just next door. (Looks at the brothers) Your neighbour for all these years and you don’t remember her face?
An awkward pause.
Prince Chloe, meet Sawyer (gestures to him), Jon and Hesse. They’re my band-mates.
HESSE waves while CHLOE nods in acknowledgement. JON levels her with a stare.
Sawyer (extends a hand but withdraws it when CHLOE does not reciprocate) Please to meet you, beautiful.
Hesse What happened to Keith?
Prince Oh, he was pathetic. One little media storm and he quit. Said the paparazzi are driving him nuts. Besides, he was boring. Never took any initiative, unless I prompted him –
Sawyer You mean he’s never commended Your Royal Hotness before.
Prince Besides (drops voice to a whisper) I think he was in love with me.
CHLOE rolls her eyes.
Prince I can’t trust him to be objective if he’s in love with me. I need to have a purely professional relationship with my assistant.
Hesse And so you went and got a female assistant? Of … (assesses CHLOE) our age? Are you trying to drive the paps delirious? They’ll go wild when they find out.
Prince Don’t worry, I’ve already made sure she won’t fall for me. Chloe doesn’t get out much; she didn’t even know who I was! (Laughs) Girls like her are so rare, don’t you think? Besides, I intend to keep her a secret. No one but you guys knows about her. Plus, it’s easier having someone who doesn’t know anything about us around. Nobody will sell us out – sell me out – you see. (Grins to ensuing silence) I know, sometimes my genius scares me too.
Jon And you think she won’t sell you out? How do you know for sure she doesn’t know who we are?
Prince I know. It’s hard to believe she doesn’t know who Highway Heaven is. It’s like she lives under a rock. But if she is, then we’re living right next to that rock. (Looks at the brothers)
Sawyer Staying.
Prince But she’s the real deal. And don’t worry, I made her promise not to fall in love with me. (Winks)
Sawyer (sidling up to CHLOE) But that doesn’t include us, right? You didn’t promise not to fall in love with the rest of us?
CHLOE shrugs off SAWYER’s arm.
Prince I think she’s allergic to boys or something. Good-looking boys, that is. So you might have more of a chance than I do, Sawyer.
Sawyer Screw you.
Prince Sorry, I don’t swing that way.
Jon What’s in it for her then, being your assistant? (Folds arms) If she’s not into you, or any of us, then why would she volunteer to be your assistant for nothing?
Chloe First off –
Hesse It talks!
Chloe I didn’t volunteer to be his assistant. (Glares at PRINCE) He practically forced me into it. I barely even agreed –
Prince Aw, don’t listen to her. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Must be the shock of meeting me in the flesh. You know how they can get.
Chloe And, I’m not going to be his assistant for nothing. It’s because I….
Sawyer What is it, beautiful? No need to be shy around us.
Chloe I….
Prince Oh, come on. There’s nothing wrong with being broke. I was poor too before I shot to mega-stardom. Her parents totally forgot about her living here on her own. She was living on cup noodles and a table lamp when I found her. I’m just giving her a job. It’s a win-win situation. (Pauses) I’ve always wanted to use that phrase.
Jon So she’s with you for your money.
Hesse Oh, come on, Jon. (To CHLOE) Sorry, he gets like that. You can’t find anyone more cynical than my brother.
Sawyer So how did you find her?
Prince (Nudges CHLOE) Tell him, honey. Tell him how Fate brought us together and how our insignificant lives – well, your insignificant life – collided with the glorious, dazzling impact of a supernova.
Hesse Careful, Ethan. You’re flirting.
Prince The name is Prince. And oh, don’t worry. She’s hormonally challenged. These homebodies, they stay at home all day talking to their dolls or reading their fantasy novels. They couldn’t respond to a come-on if it stuck a hotdog in their mouths.
Groans erupt all around.
Sawyer Sorry, beautiful. He can be quite a dick sometimes. I would never contaminate my language with such vulgar imagery.
Chloe That’s okay. The words a person says determines his intellect. There’s no point contending with a person like him.
Hesse (laughing) Looks like you’ve hired yourself a little fireball, Prince.
Jon Can we get down to business already? My keys are turning rusty. (Plays a quick short tune on his keyboard)
Prince But I’m not done shaving yet! (Rubs face) I can’t jam without a smooth face.
Hesse Yeah, yeah. You’re still pretty, okay? (To CHLOE) Make yourself comfortable, Chloe. And give us some feedback, will you? We’re working on something right now that sounds … lacking, for some reason.
PRINCE sulkily gets his guitar plugged and everyone gets ready.
Prince (murmurs into the microphone in a sexy baritone) It’s called ‘Paper Bombs’.
They launch into a number that involves heavy drumbeats and a mash of screaming guitars. The song ends with a final riff of the guitar.
Hesse (to CHLOE) How was it?
Chloe (nods) Pretty good.
Prince Pretty good? Pretty good? That’s all you can say?
Chloe What do you want me to say?
Prince After all we’ve put into performing it, you could at least give us a scream. Or make an impromptu banner. Or if even all that’s too taxing, you could at least clap.
Chloe I’m not a groupie. I’m an audience.
Prince You’re a horrible audience.
Chloe Is that how you speak to your audience? Every audience is a potential fan.
Hesse She sounds scarily like Ben.
Chloe Who’s Ben?
Hesse Our manager.
Prince You know what? Let’s do this again. I don’t care. (To CHLOE) You, as my assistant, are going to tell me what the problem is.
They perform ‘Paper Bombs’ again.
Prince Well?
Chloe Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of all this metal, but I really think there’s too much guitar screaming around. And the drumbeats. It’s distracting and makes the song sound too generic. It takes away the power of the lyrics. It might be better if it were acoustic. (Shrugs) But that’s just my opinion.
Silence fills the garage.
Sawyer You really think so?
Hesse (considering) Might work. It’s worth giving a shot.
Prince Wait a minute. Just – wait a minute. (Turns to CHLOE) Acoustic? Are you kidding me? This song is all about the power. I’m trying to make a statement with the lyrics. The metal is to draw out the rawness of the heartbreak when the girl dumps the guy through a series of letters. And you’re telling me we should go acoustic?
Chloe You wanted my opinion.
Prince I didn’t need that.
Chloe Oh, you mean my criticism?
Prince No, I mean your unprofessional take on a song I put my heart and soul into. We put our heart and soul into.
Chloe I never claimed to be a professional. I’m just an assistant.
Sawyer I thought you said you haven’t agreed to it yet.
Prince Who wants an assistant like her?
Hesse (warningly) Prince. You’ve only just fired Keith. Walk it off.
Sawyer (to CHLOE) If you decide not to work for Prince, there’s always me. I’m a whole lot nicer, I promise. Plus, I’ll pay you double.
Prince Shut up, Sawyer. She’s my assistant. Besides, you know I need an assistant more than you do.
Sawyer What’s that supposed to mean?
Hesse Oh, come on, guys. Don’t do this.
Prince We all know I’m the Paul McCartney of this band. I can’t help it if everyone pays more attention to me, Sawyer, but you seem to think I’m stealing something from you.
SAWYER punches PRINCE across the face.
Prince (cries) Not the face! Not the face! My cheekbone! (To no one in particular) Is it dented? Am I still pretty? (Grabs CHLOE by the shoulders and shaking her) Am I?
Chloe You need to shut up and calm the hell down.
Sawyer (to PRINCE) You arrogant little bastard. I’ll make it bigger than you. And when that time comes, you’ll be begging me for an autograph to sell on eBay because you can’t afford the rent in that fancy-ass suite of yours.
Hesse Sawyer, come on. You know Prince. He doesn’t mean –
Sawyer Enough with the Prince thing already. His name is Ethan. If he can be a prince, I can be a duke or something.
JON starts playing a piece on his keyboard. The notes start out quiet, so that no one hears it at first. Gradually, it builds up into a strong melody that silences everyone. When it ends, everyone is staring at JON.
Jon We started out as a rock band. With a dream to share our music with the world. But what we are is a pop idol group. And we agreed to see that as just a platform, a stepping stone to what we really want, to become rock stars. Why the hell are you two fighting over who has more girls screaming over him?
PRINCE and SAWYER fidget in shame.
Hesse Yeah. Have a break, have a KitKat, or whatever. (Opens the mini fridge and pulling out a jumbo packet of chocolate) Sit. (Distributes chocolate all around) Now eat.
As everyone munches absently on chocolate, PRINCE pulls out a mini mirror from his back pocket and checks his face for damage.
Sawyer Look, I’m sorry about … (gestures to PRINCE’s face) you know. You’re still pretty, all right?
Prince I know. And I didn’t mean what I said. I mean, I am more popular than you, but it’s not like it matters. You know why I started out with this anyway; I didn’t mean to compete with anyone.
Sawyer (nodding) Have you settled all the debts at home?
PRINCE shakes his head.
Hesse But your mom said….
Prince What my mom doesn’t know won’t kill her. I told her I’ve settled everything.
Hesse Don’t you think she’ll find out somehow? And does she know about the tabloids?
Prince She collects every snippet of news about me. How can she not know? She’s been choking up my voicemail ever since.
Jon You can’t keep avoiding her. And you know, having her (gestures to CHLOE) around will only complicate things further.
Hesse Plus, Ben would never allow that. You’re his fattest cash cow –
Prince I’m fat?
He pulls off t-shirt to reveal his fine physique. CHLOE blushes furiously.
Sawyer Put that away, jeez! Are you trying to give us sore eyes?
Prince (to HESSE) Fat? Is this fat to you? (Flexes his abs and biceps) I keep this body in tiptop condition at all times, FYI. I’m a sight for sore eyes. (To CHLOE) Aren’t I?
Chloe (still blushing)
SAWYER, HESSE and JON roll their eyes.
Hesse Okay, okay. I take that back, okay? Now will you stop exhibiting yourself to us?
Prince (pulling his t-shirt back on) One thing at a time. First, no one is going to mention her to Ben. As soon as this whole thing with the paps blows over, we’ll all be too busy with the concerts for Ben to care about some assistant of mine. And as for my mom, that’s a distant problem we don’t have to worry about as long as I’m still raking in the money.
Jon But I don’t think that’s going to be a distant problem.
Prince You’re right. Of course it isn’t. It isn’t even a problem at all.
Jon No, I mean it’s more immediate than you think.
Prince … Why?
Hesse Well. Because she called. (Waves PRINCE’s cellphone) While you were out. Says she’s coming over. She’s on the next flight in from Greece.
Deathly silence creeps in.
Prince You couldn’t find a spare second to mention that earlier? Holy shit, Hesse! Holy freaking shit! My mom’s flying over? Dammit, Hesse! Dammit!
Hesse Hey, don’t shoot the messenger.
CHLOE goes over to PRINCE and slaps him.
Prince (screams) NOT THE FACE!
Chloe You’re sort of hysterical.
Prince Well, yeah, of course I am. My mother’s coming over!
Chloe And that’s … bad?
Hesse The last time his mother came over, she meddled so much Highway Heaven almost lost our contract with the record company. She means well, the sweet lady, but….
Prince (stares at CHLOE) We need to hide her. Now. My mom can’t see her!
Chloe What? I thought you said she’s not a problem!
Prince That was before I knew she’s flying over. (Grabs CHLOE’s hand and drags her to ) Rope. We need rope. Tie her up so she won’t leave this garage. Rope! Get me some rope!
Chloe You’re crazy! (Tears out of the garage)
Sawyer Beautiful! Don’t go! Aw, man. (Turns to PRINCE) Look what you did, assbag.
Hesse (stares after CHLOE) I think you just lost your assistant the same day you got her. What a record.

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