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March 25, 2017

Today I made a short presentation on Deaf Performers, comparing the pre-internet issues with the post-internet issues facing Deaf Performers in Theater and Film. The presentation was more focused on film as it was presented during the Rochester Deaf Film Festival activities and was part of an all day presentation process in the RIT Wallace Center located in the RIT ASL and Deaf Studies Community Center (RADSCC).

This presentation touches upon the topic and I will add the power point presentation to this post.  In subsequent post in this topic area I will expand more on the PP and explain/discuss my perspectives on the topic.  As always, these are my opinions, insights, and thoughts on performance art particularly related to live theater.  This and subsequent posts will take note of how multimedia, CGA, and special effects has permeated live performance work since the advent of the internet, social media and other types of hosting sites.  There has been a prolific infusion of performance material that contains a wide range of quality in regards to production values, performance, and fluency of delivery.

Two key take always to consider. First, the need for cross-over appeal and ‘hooks’ in today’s digital marketplace  access is greater, global in nature, however many people clamoring for the attention of everyone and it’s hard to win out.  Second, with these new ways of working and performing in digital/ virtual spaces how does one successfully market themselves so they actually earn income on the sites where they are parking their content and the fees they ask are not contested but accepted by those interested in the creative content being offered for your eyes to enjoy.

Theatre & Film-v2

 

Deaf Theatre as Visual Art: Process Towards Revival

By Aaron Weir Kelstone and Patti Durr

Presented at the World Federation for the Deaf Conference

July 25, 2003

For several centuries Deaf artists have participated actively on an international level in the arts. The visual and performing art have served as the two primary areas of focus, because both involve the use of eyes and hands as the primary tools of expression.  Of the two disciplines, the visual arts have demonstrated the greatest degree of change and these Deaf artists have moved from traditional methodologies of painting to approaches that are inclusive where their paintings fully reflects their Deaf identity. This process can best be demonstrated through the use of Post-Colonial theory as originally proposed by Frantz Fanon and through the Social Sciences from the work of Neil S. Glickman.

Both Fanon, through English Literature theory, and Glickman, through psychology, have proposed that there are several stages that artists or individuals, Deaf or hearing, culturally pass through as they develop their self-identity within their cultural environment. These different stages of development often are not easily separated and frequently will overlap each other. In fact the process can be repetitive in a manner where Glickman suggests, “there is really no end state to this process. Rather, one can “recycle” through these stages at higher levels of sophistication throughout one’s life.”[i]

Fanon’s work was developed early in the 20th-century as a Post-Colonial literary theory to explain political and social events that occurred within specific cultures that had experienced the process of colonization by England, Spain, and France. As these countries gradually withdrew their control over these cultures specific behaviors occurred within these formerly oppressed cultures. Fanon and Glickman, from two distinct vantage points of scholarly study and historical time frames, suggested that there are distinctive patterns of behavior present within a culture emerging from the experience of oppression. These patterns occur after the oppressing culture has ceased, by choice or not, the overt domination of the emerging culture. Both have proposed that these behavioral patterns are based on social, political, economic factors and socialization experiences of these cultural groups.

As these behaviors transform an oppressed culture, Fanon suggested that there will be a distinctive cultural effort to strive towards a social structure where “every culture is first and foremost national…”[ii] If the access to a nationalistic identity is blocked, for whatever reason, Fanon believed that there will be a movement to create linkages such as the “movement toward the Negro-African culture or the Arab-Moslem culture. It is not specifically toward a national culture. ” [iii] Deaf people, according to Glickman, face a “moment of discovery of one’s Deafness…called the identity shattering something.”[iv] Unlike most oppressed cultures, Deaf people cannot make a decision to go home to a specific country or location that consists solely of Deaf people nor can they claim a geographic location as their national boundary. In this case Deaf culture creates a unified social consciousness the essential factor that glues the culture together is ASL. Language, the most personal element of any culture, becomes even more so for Deaf people because it creates a means of “acceptance and recognition of their history and their use of signing as a means of communication”[v].

An example of this can be seen in the Deaf View / Image Art (De’VIA) artistic movement established shortly before the Deaf Way I conference, in Washington, D.C. These artists choose to push for more concrete acknowledgment of their deafness within their works.  The emergence of affirmation and resistance artworks, within De’VIA, can be strongly noted just as it has been noted among other disenfranchised groups’ artworks.  Both are necessary and vital to recording the celebration of validation and achieving a sense of belonging to sign language and Deaf culture. It also becomes a focal point for expressing the outrage against the oppression Deaf people because “language issues are often at the core of struggles by oppressed minorities”[vi].

Since Deaf Way I, some Deaf artists have developed a distinctive style of work that recognizes American Sign Language (ASL) and specific motifs that symbolize the importance and oppression of ASL and Deaf Culture.  This is especially shown in their depiction of hands, eyes, and mouths.  Thus, within Deaf culture, the visual and performing arts is more than just an abstract form of artistic expression. Instead it is used in a way that recognized the validity and struggles of Deaf people, of their language, and of their culture. Glickman proposes that the medical-pathological model encourages mainstream society to interpret the problems they perceive in deaf people as being linked to our experience of deafness and “the result has been a portrait of deaf people as deviant, maladjusted, and incapable of benefiting from insight-oriented therapies.” [vii] Thus for Deaf people the use of ASL, as a creative tool, becomes a means for tearing away from the negative experiences of the past. Fanon acknowledges this as an essential step towards change because

“…this tearing away, painful and difficult though it may be, is however necessary. If it is not accomplished there will be serious psycho-affective injuries and the result will be individuals without an anchor, without a horizon, colorless, stateless, rootless—a race of angels [and] the intellectual who is Arab and French, or Nigerian and English, when he comes up against the need to take on two nationalities, chooses, if he wants to remain true to himself, the negation of one of these determinations.”[viii]

The compelling human need to belong eventually forces individuals to choose one culture over another.  Glickman proposes that, “the realities of being Deaf as Deaf people see it, requires a radical reorganization of meaning.”[ix]  When this pivotal moment arrives Fanon has argued that a specific process occurs that he divided it into several phases and indicates in his theory that

In the first phase, the native intellectual gives proof that he has assimilated the culture of the occupying power. His writings correspond point by point with those of his opposite numbers in the mother country. His inspiration is European…this is the period of unqualified assimilation…[x]

For Glickman, the process is one of definition and how Deaf people find a way to create cultural boundaries for themselves. A life spent surrounded by the hearing world creates a situation where “Deaf people, then, have a psychological image of what it means to be hearing, and they define themselves partially in relationship to this image.”[xi] This process of assimilation or of becoming as Glickman choose to label it, “culturally hearing,” can clearly be seen in the early work of Deaf artists in both art forms.  These works of visual and performing artists demonstrated their proficiency and talent, but at the same time offered no indication of their deafness within the work itself.

It is in the second phase, as proposed by Fanon and Glickman, that the culture as a whole becomes conscious of its relationship to the world as a whole.  As this awareness intensifies it promotes a process of change that permits the Deaf artist to reveal more of their deafness within their actual artistic work. This second stage begins to emerge in the latter part of the 20th century and it should be noted at this point that these changes are more evident in the visual arts than in the performing arts. Fanon proposed that in this second phase

…we find the native is disturbed: he decides to remember what he is. “This is the period of creative work…old legends will be reinterpreted in the light of a borrowed aestheticism and of a conception of the world which was discovered under other skies.[xii]

Glickman identifies this phase as one where the Deaf person feels culturally marginal. It is at this point that Deaf people begin to define the actions of hearing society as having a primary focus to “inculcate hearing identities. What it generally produces is marginal identities. What it should be producing is bicultural identities.” [xiii] This concept of bicultural identity is one that Glickman uses to define the fourth stage of development of a Deaf identity and this will be explored later in this paper. The consequences for Deaf people who become aware of this sense of marginality generally creates certain traits that are manifested psychologically by Deaf people and these traits “include ambivalence, excessive self and race consciousness, inferiority complexes, hypersensitivity to perceived injustice, and compensatory reactions such as egocentrism and aggression.”[xiv]

It is in this phase that culturally we become aware of the effects that the dominant culture has had on us as individuals and we begin to respond to that awareness by defining how we relate, as Deaf individuals, to the world surrounding us. This sense of awareness leads to a third phase, which Glickman identifies as immersion and is

…characterized chiefly by anger, especially toward the dominant groups in society; an comprising rejection of everything pertaining to the majority society; an exuberant love affair with everything pertaining to the minority culture even while sharp distinctions are made as to what does, and does not, represent the minority viewpoint; dichotomous thinking (“You are one of us or one of them, good or bad”); and politically militancy. [xv]

This phase according to Fanon is the final phase, which he calls the “fighting phase where “the native, after having tried to lose himself in the people and with the people, will on the contrary shake the people.” [xvi]  It was during this fighting phase that several Deaf-focused original plays were created in the 1970s, which are now often viewed as our Deaf classics such as: My Third Eye by the NTD ensemble, Troubles Just Beginning – A Play of Our Own by Dorothy Miles, Sign Me Alice by Gil Eastman, and Tales from a Clubroom by Bernard Bragg.  These plays began to gaze at the relationship that Deaf people experienced within the general context of the hearing world. Visual artists provided similar artistic perceptions with works such as Leon Lim’s “Killing My Deafness” or Susan Dupor’s “ Family Dog.”  Other artists called attention through various paintings to the Milan 1880 event to shake Deaf culture into a renewed awareness of our past history as it pertains to the hearing world.

After the appearance of these works it appears that visual artists continued to evolve their work towards what Glickman identifies as the “bicultural” phase. It is in this phase that he perceives as the final phase “a person affirms Deafness as a cultural difference and feels a profound connection with other Deaf people. At the same time, the strengths and weaknesses of both Deaf and hearing people are recognized, and the person has a personal and balanced perspective on what it means to be Deaf.” [xvii]  This process can be seen in the recent works of Chuck Baird where traditional painting techniques are demonstrated with a high degree of proficiency and a sub-theme related to Deafness is integrated into the paintings.  As a result his paintings can be readily appreciated by both Deaf and hearing individuals however, the hearing person may or may not be aware of the sub-theme within the painting. They may only become aware of this sub-theme if they are culturally aware or it is pointed out to them by Deaf individuals.

Unfortunately Deaf theater did not maintain the degree of change that visual Deaf artists have achieved and apparently returned, to some degree, to the first phase involving assimilation. For the most part their productions remain adaptations of works created by hearing playwrights. Since the late 1980s’, Deaf theatre has generally remained within the confines of these adapted works and there appears to have been limited efforts to create a Deaf literature, through the use of performance, compared to what happened, for example, within ASL poetry. This is true even though the performing arts represent a powerful means of cultural and social expression that can effectively represent the common experiences of Deaf people throughout the world.

There are exceptions to this observation and one example, within the performing arts, that retains a Deaf theme and relies on an ASL oriented format is the one-person show genre.  This can be noted in the work of Terrylene, Patrick Graybill, Bernard Bragg, Julianna Fjeld, and ASL poets who often create their work as an ASL solo performance. These solo performances start from the basis of the hand and eye and contain powerful examples of the expressive capabilities of ASL. In these works the process is reversed and instead of translating from English into sign language, their work is normally transferred from sign language to a written format. This is often accomplished through the use of several techniques such as:  glossing, a “press secretary” system, or videotaping. However, beyond solo performances there appear to be an absence of accessible ways for Deaf performing artists to work collaboratively. This potentially prevents opportunities for Deaf playwrights and actors to generate original scripts reflecting the deaf experience. Consequently, this lack of exposure to Deaf themed theater reduces Deaf culture’s capability to envision or aspire to the creation of such works.

Another apparent roadblock is the perceived need by Deaf theatres to generate adequate revenue and their fear that original works, by Deaf artists, will not appeal to mainstream hearing society which is considered vital because hearing people remain the largest audience segment for Deaf theatres.  Even when a Deaf theatre is willing to produce a Deaf playwright’s work they often ask the playwright to submit their scripts in written English. Then, during the rehearsal phase, the script is transferred back into sign language.  This convoluted process, heavily dependent on the written text, may suggest one reason why the migration, beyond the first phase, has not been effectively achieved by Deaf theatre as effectively as it has in the visual arts. Instead, we may have, as individuals and as a culture, internalized our experience of oppression on the living stage.

Recently, at the Deaf Way II conference, some theatrical performances appeared to have addressed several of the issues mentioned above and a few original Deaf plays were presented during the conference such as: Hannah by the French Deaf Theatre and Falling on Hearing Eyes by Willy Conley from the US.  For the most part, however, the performances presented at the conference involved adapted scripts or pantomime work that did not appear to relate to Deaf culture or a country’s native sign language in any way.

With these thoughts in mind how then, do we revitalize Deaf theatre? One approach is to reassess the processes utilized and the content of the performances. We may need to reverse the traditional approach for creating performances by changing the starting point. Instead of working from the written word, it may be more realistic to rely on a visual perspective that encourages improvisation, internalization and revision work based on visual technologies such as digital video or film. Deaf playwrights and actors, working from this visual position, may find the necessary freedom needed to think, react, and create in ASL. This can allow performing artists a more fluid incorporation of the rules, norms, and values of ASL and traditions of Deaf culture into their performance work.

Recently we both worked on a project, ME TOO, that encouraged this process and we found it to be a rewarding experience. Several steps were encouraged to create specific monologues by the actors. First, we provided a written text for the actor to review. This was followed by a rehearsal time that provided the actor an opportunity to discuss the meaning, intent and purpose of the monologue. During the directing process we both encouraged the actors not to memorize the text but to internalize the meanings of the text into their preparation process. We discouraged them from attempting to create a “word for word” rendition of the text and nurtured a process where the actors expressed the monologue fully within the confines of an ASL perspective. This process, we believe, freed the actors to fully express themselves, using facial features, body indicators along with ASL to express the monologue in its entirety.

After a period of time the work was moved into the video recording studio where the monologues were taped and later edited into a unified, sequential format. Eventually the monologues developed during this process will be transferred back into to text format and the playwright now has an opportunity to work with a visual text that is readily accessible and not bound to a strict adherence to written text.  As the playwright works through these recorded monologues, she can begin to reformulate how she wants the play to evolve into a live performance.  The monologues can be linked and expanded into scenes supported later by further filming. This visual process, divorced from the use of text as a starting point, allows the play, for a Deaf playwright, to develop towards a completed form. When the story has been fully developed then a reverse translation process can be implemented where the ASL performance is then translated into a written text rather than the historical norm of translating a written text into ASL.

This process liberates the Deaf artist to convey stories about Deaf culture through their eyes and hands rather than through a written text. This process can encourage the rapid expansion of stories by Deaf people because they can freely express their cultural experiences using their native language, in a relevant form, which will enable Deaf audiences to gain a satisfactory or challenging theatrical experience. This could revitalize the audience dynamics of Deaf theatre and effectively allow the performing arts to become a powerful means of expression for Deaf culture on an international scale. It effectively creates, through theatrical performances, a means of generating a larger body of Deaf literature than has been historically achieved. This in turn will allow us, as a cultural group and as individuals, to move on to other positive changes within our culture. These changes in turn will support a more positive identity for Deaf people and their culture because “identity change occurs through the attribution of positive meaning to one’s membership in a minority community.”[xviii]  This sense of community through identification with our sign language enables us to potentially let go of the past and strive towards a national culture where ”the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to describe, justify, and praise the action through which that people has created itself and keeps itself in existence.” [xix] Let us hope that we will be able to achieve this form of discovery and move towards a revitalization of theatre that provides an active living stage where our existence as Deaf people and our cultures are fairly represented to the world at large.


[i] Neil S. Glickman, Culturally Affirmative Psychotherapy with Deaf Persons (Mahwah, New Jersey: LEA, Publishers, 1996) 128.

[ii]Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1961) 216.

[iii] Fanon, 217.

[iv] Glickman, 138.

[v] Glickman, 124.

[vi] Glickman, 125.

[vii] Glickman, 135.

[viii] Fanon, 218.

[ix] Glickman, 133.

[x] Fanon, 222.

[xi] Glickman, 132.

[xii] Fanon, 222.

[xiii] Glickman, 133.

[xiv] Glickman,134.

[xv] Glickman, 139.

[xvi] Fanon, 222.

[xvii] Glickman, 141.

[xviii] Glickman, 145.

[xix] Fanon, 233.

Well, it’s been a while since I posted anything because I finally completed a 4 1/2 year journey to complete my doctoral studies at Northeastern University in Boston, MA. It was quite an experience! Once I got past the finish line, got myself shaped up and began to look around me I realized how much of my life I left on hold.
So recently I have been scrambling to get myself back to on track creatively, professionally, and personally. I plan to expand the old categories I started, add new creative materials, and upload older items as I find them.
Thanks to whoever you are out there that have stopped by over the years looking to see anything new. Know it will be soon enough!

A wireless FM system.

Image via Wikipedia

For someone who starts life in the womb hearing their mother’s voice and emerges into the world of sound the idea of the ear and sound being inseparable and indispensable experiences must be a no brainer.  One of those ‘duh’ moments where the response is “of course, how could the ability to hear be anything other than a positive, enriching experience.

However for those who were born deaf with some residual hearing the relationship of the ear, sound, and how it is experienced are much different especially when they come into contact with the famous ‘miracle ear’ and its supposedly astounding achievements.  For most of us this ‘ability to hear’ is a jarring introduction to the world of sound and as a result we cannot fathom how hearing people tolerate a life in constant contact with noise.

This was certainly the case for me at the age of 5 ½ (or thereabouts) when it was discovered I was deaf and shipped off to life at the residential school for the deaf in Kansas.  Within the year I was introduced to the ‘miracle ear’ and it proved to be annoying, loud, distorted, irritating, white noise.  This is what I call my bronco-busting period between the ages of 6-9.  Just as the bronco resists the saddle so did I by resisting the addition of the hearing aid into my world of experience.

For the next three years I found every opportunity to take it off as soon as adults were out of eye sight, to “lose it” conveniently as I could and to misplace it each night so it was a struggle to find it the following morning.   These are only a few of the efforts I made to cast off the imposition that the hearing aid imposed. In my youthful outlook there was absolutely no value to the thing whatsoever.  Alas, sometime during my 9th year I was saddle broken and began to leave the thing on during my waking hours.

Now in those days hearing aids were huge things.  Requiring at least the equivalent of what we would identify as 6 AA size batteries but twice as thick.  Now something that big and heavy does not fit conveniently into a shirt or pant pocket.  As a consequence I was fitted with a harness, just like the broken in bronco, to cart the thing around.  It basically was a bra, consisting of one pocket instead of two cups and into that pocket was deposited this huge piece of equipment connected to a long cable that plugged into an ear mold that then plugged uncomfortably into my left ear.

As I hopped, skipped, jumped, walked, and ran through the day the hearing aid bumped, slid, flopped about, sometimes coming completely out in a jangle of cord tugging on my ear mold.  At those moments I must have looked like a fish just pulled out of the water on a fishing line.   I should add that later in the 60’s, when the women’s movement advocated burning bras, I believe that I was one of a small group of American males who totally understood the sentiment and could readily support the movement for reasons beyond male sexism.

Looking back on all this there is one thing that comes to the foreground as I reflect on this whole thing.  I am thinking to myself:  YOU DOLT!  THE TOILET, FOR GOD SAKES!!!  There is was, countless times each day, day in and day out, staring right in front of you.  The one opportunity never taken to simply deposit the dang thing and send it off to toilet Nirvana.  What were you thinking!

Was it an opportunity lost or a disaster averted?  Depends on which side of the fence you sit and where it all relates in your life.  Did I ever learn to appreciate sound… to a limited extent yes but only for a small range of experiences related to music, sounds of the forest, and the wind on certain days (if the hearing aid microphone was not facing the wind) and a few other items such as that.

However, I have never lost the enjoyment of taking the thing off and basking in the tinnitus noises and other related silent experiences that are uniquely those of the Deaf.  Eventually came the day, in my mid-thirties, when it no longer served its purpose and I donated it away.  Yes, yes I know…another opportunity lost to send it off to toilet Nirvana.   What can I say?

Homecoming

Dirt road

Image via Wikipedia

The year I became six, the world decided I was different. It was then I learned that not only fruit jars get labeled — so do people. It began in a small room containing one chair, a tiny window and a thick door that seemed to shut like King Tut’s tomb, sealing me forever away from the world.

In that sound proof room I was firmly affixed with my label, “deaf.” Vividly I remember the headset pinching tightly against my ears. The screeching sounds reminding me for years afterward of the old Anacin commercials. Sound crashed against my ears just like those hammers, anvils and lightning did on TV. It was then I acutely understood why aspirin sells so well.

Today I can laugh at the lady who consistently replaced the headset every time I removed it. At the time I had no compassion for her. It was just another confusing episode in my life.  My days had been filled with angry people who punished me for unknown reasons. I clearly remember the faces, contorted in anger, silent words flowing out of their mouths; their stern faces a constant sight in my universe. This day did not appear to be any different for me.

Then I saw my mother’s face, The look in her eyes remains with me always: a look tainted with a sadness etched so clearly I felt I could reach out and touch it. As she approached I felt anxiety well up within me. I wondered what I had done wrong. She reached out to me and to my surprise gently held me for the longest time. I could feel her tears on the back of my neck. Somehow, without striking a blow, I had made my mother cry

Soon afterwards was the beginning of my watershed years. Looking back I clearly see the dividing line between my confusion and eventual coming to terms with the world. Bumping slowly down the old dirt road I knelt in the back seat of the family’s ‘54 Plymouth. Gazing out the back window I watched the farmhouse and its fields of clover and wheat fade into the distance. That memory alone leaves me with an eternal sense of loss. My childhood experiences in those fields of clover have never been regained. Hours were spent there in silence, my perception of the world sharpened by the lack of sounds. The brilliant colors and fluid motion of nature were the companions of my childhood.

My destination was a school where they taught me how to live with my label. There I was taught that I was an alien and the meager means of how to survive in this foreign land. But, that first day started out with a terrible revelation. As I went through the hallways, my hand firmly entrenched in my mother’s: I saw the classrooms. Each one of those rooms was filled with small desks and at each desk was a headset. The thought of that filled me with dread.

I felt a sense of relief as I was led outside where I saw other children playing. The joy of seeing them momentarily helped me forget the sight of those headsets: As my mother let go of my hand and I stepped out into the playground I noticed a strange thing. Many of the children had large boxes strapped to their chests. From the boxes came wires that went into one or both of their ears. I recoiled, not understanding what I was seeing. Then I saw a wonderful thing. Their hands were moving in the air like graceful Dutch windmills and it seemed to mean something to them.

Their faces were full of childish glee and abandon. Not a single child was using his mouth to converse. Instead their bodies came alive with a special language. I felt a vague sense of understanding and hope because it seemed to be my language too. As I stood there in awe, a blonde haired boy approached me. For a moment we stood gauging each other carefully Cautiously he came closer Pointing a finger at me, he made a flapping, motion with his other hand like a mouth moving. I stood there frozen, not knowing how to respond. I hesitantly shook my head and to my surprise that was the right reply His eyes lit up and a smile exploded across his face revealing large front teeth with a gap between them. He laughed and gestured for me to follow him.

I paused to look back at my mother only to find her walking toward the school building. I turned and broke into a run with the golden-haired boy in tow. As I ran I felt tears of elation on my face. Running those final few yards to the other children I felt I had escaped somehow to a magic land. From that moment on life, for me, was never the same.

Now when the fall season comes and the trees shed their leaves it gives me pause. As I feel my ears tingle from the cold air: I remember. The high school football team, the homecoming banners flapping strongly in the fall breeze, hands moving—everywhere– and suddenly I am six again discovering my homecoming.

Sun

This is a work in progress that I will need to rework. At this point you will be able to review Act 1.  There are some elements I want to replace such as the “Eyeth” story as it is no longer unique due to the larger dissemination of the story over the last 10-15 years. I will either find something newer or create an original story within the story. This one deals with issues of culture, identity and so on.

FOLLOW THE SUN

by Aaron B. Weir

Copyright,February 29, 1996

One day you’ll look to see I’ve gone

For tomorrow may rain so I’ll follow the sun

Some day you’ll know I was the one

But tomorrow may rain so I’ll follow the sun

And now the time has come and so my love

I must go

And though I lose a friend in the end

You will know, Oh

One day you’ll find that I have gone

But tomorrow may rain so I’ll follow the sun

Lennon & McCartney

ACT I:

[The stage is dark. Two lights will alternately come up at two separate places on stage.  One light will expose a hand which signs.  The other hand will hold an oversized ruler.  In the other light will be a man standing. He/She will look preacher-like, stern in visage and fanatical in mannerisms.  The effect of the alternation of the light will be as if a strobe light was flashing on these two areas of the stage in slow motion.]

HAND

“A”

HAND WITH RULER

[Slams ruler hard on a flat surface]

HAND

“B”

HAND WITH RULER

[Slams ruler hard on a flat surface, closer to hand]

HAND

“C”

HAND WITH RULER

Slams ruler hard on a flat surface, closer to the hand again]

[Light fades on hands and appears on the man]

MAN

Vanity, all is vanity. Just when you think you’re one up on the world, all five senses clicking away…WHAM!  Just when you think you’re safe from the wiles of the world…WHAM!  Just when you think you’re one of God’s favorites…WHAM!

[Lights fade on man and return to the hands]

HAND

Not

HAND WITH RULER

[Slams closer to other hand on a hard flat surface]

HAND

Understand

HAND WITH RULER

[Slams very close to other hand]

[Lights fade on hands and return to the man]

MAN

Vanity, all is vanity. the swiftest person does not always win the race, nor the strongest man the battle, that wise men are often poor and skillful men are not necessarily famous, but it all by chance.

[Lights fades and returns to the hands]

HAND

why

HAND WITH RULER

[Ruler slams down harder than before and precariously close to the hand]

HAND

you

HAND WITH RULER

[Slams down harder]

HAND

hate

HAND WITH RULER

[Ruler slams down the hardest yet]

HAND

always.

HAND WITH RULER

[Ruler slams down with a air of finality]

[Light fades and returns to the man]

MAN

Who makes a man so he can speak or not speak; see or not see; hear or not hear?

[ Lights fade and the alternate light now shines on a face which is Janus like in structure, consisting of four faces, three which are masks and the fourth is a human face]

FACE

[ A masked face appears with a sad facial expression.  A small ball is floating, spinning nearby.  The word “ball’ is signed and voiced. The sound of the voiced word is loud and distorted.]

[The mask turns to reveal another mask, with a sadder expression.  The word “ball” is signed bigger and is voiced louder and continues to be distorted.]

[The mask turns to reveal another mask, with an even sadder expression. The word “ball” is signed even bigger and voiced louder and continues to be distorted.]

[The mask turns to reveal a human face. It
is momentarily void of emotion.  The word “ball” is signed larger and voiced the loudest yet in a distorted manner. The face begins to contort, attempting to voice the word “ball” which is increasingly difficult.  The face struggles for a period of time and then the voice lets go with a howl of anguish.  A hand raises up another mask. It is shaped in a hellish configuration and it slowly comes up to cover the human face which continues to howl until it is completely
covered.  At the moment that the mask covers
the human face fully, the lights fade.]

[The lights reveal the man again]

MAN

Make a joyful noise unto the lord.

HAND WITH RULER

[Ruler slams down, again and again, stops, lights fade]

MAN

Yet…let all the earth be silent in the presence of the Lord.

HAND WITH RULER

[Ruler slams down again, again, again and breaks]

[Lights fade quickly as ruler breaks and reappears in a new area of the stage.  As the light comes up, a man suddenly bolts upright, awakening from a hammock. He looks around tentatively, shakes his head and gets out of the hammock]

[The lights slowly come up to reveal a back yard area.  Stage left there is a white picket like fence which stands about two feet high running from upstage to downstage.  The stage right area reveals the front of a bus, old in condition with its hood up. The body of the bus fades upstage towards an alley. We cannot see the complete body of the bus because it fades into this alley.  In the back section of the stage is the back of a house, paint is peeling from parts of the walls. There is a porch attachment to the house which runs the length of the house.  Stairs come down from the porch into the yard area.  There is a swing set in the yard, old and obviously unused for some time. There are various objects scattered around the yard.  It is almost, but not yet similar to a junk yard situation. Even though it is close to a junk yard appearance there is a kind of order to the chaos that comprises the back yard.  These various objects will be used by the actors during the course of the play to construct various memory scenes that will occur. There is a workbench located  close to the front of the bus.  The man goes to the workbench and fills the coffee maker with coffee.  He picks up a garden hose from the ground and fills the coffee maker container
with water and then turns the coffee maker on.  He roots around the workbench, looking at the various parts that are scattered there. He finds a cup,
sugar and cream.  He then notices a engine part,
picks it up, sits on the stool and begins to
tinker.]

[Two women and two men appear in chaotic order. They are out of breath from running. They are almost giddy in demeanor.  Their laughter is loud and the sound of it causes another women to come out of the house onto the porch to see what the commotion is all about.  All of this is apparent to the audience, but the man is oblivious to the event.  He continues to tinker, notices the coffee is ready and pours himself a cup, fixes it the way he likes and resumes his tinkering.  The group notices all this, but has not yet noticed the

woman standing on the porch.

T-BONE

Well, lookey there, there’s old Zach wastin’ another morning on that damn bus.  Good lord almighty, how long has it been since he got that damn fool idea to try and fix that bus?

ARIEL  (from the porch)

Gettin’ close to ten years now. Fact is it’ll be ten years tomorrow.

ALICE

No kiddin’, kind of a dreamer like me, huh?

ARIEL

Ain’t no dream for him.  He’s convinced it’s gonna happen and it’s gonna be any day now.

T-BONE

Hell, he’s been thinkin’ that for as long as I can remember.

PENNY

Well, is we gonna do what we come to do

T-BONE

What?..Oh sure, sure we is–Come on Peachy

[He musses up the hair of a young boy as a way of getting his attention.]

You’re gonna meet someone real interstin’

PEACHY

That so?

T-BONE

I know so, come on.

[They all hop over the white picket fence. T-Bone gestures to Ariel to be quite and not tip off Zach that they are there.  They all creep up on Zach. T-Bone signals the group to hold back slightly.  T-Bone continues to move closer to Zach until he is right behind him. He suddenly reaches over and grabs the engine part away from Zach.  A game of “keep away” begins and Zach chases everyone around the back yard.  Soon he becomes winded and comes to a stop.]

ZACH

Awww, come on you guys.  I gotta lot of stuff to do and this foolin’ around don’t help matters a bit.  I’m close to getting this dang bus fixed.

T-BONE

It can wait, I got someone I want ya to meet. Peachy, this is Zach.  Zach meet another crazy fool in the world.

ARIEL

Now T-Bone

T-BONE

Ain’t nothin’ but the truth

ZACH

What truth?

T-BONE

Him,  he’s a strange one

PENNY

You should be one to talk

T-BONE

Go on, tell him

PEACHY

What?

T-BONE

‘Bout the seven days

ZACH

Before anyone gets started, how about a proper introduction

ALICE

This here is Peachy, he’s new around here

ZACH

How come you all is a callin’ him Peachy

ALICE

Because his face is nice and soft, not prickly like T-Bone’s is over here.

PEACHY

Aw, come on you guys, quit rubbin’ it in.

T-BONE

Okay, enough ’bout that.  We brought him over cuz he’s got something interesting to tell ya.

PENNY

He come from one of those oral schools but he don’t sign too bad for an oralist. So be patient with him Zach.

ZACH

One of those speech boys, eh?

PEACHY

Yeah…One of those kind

[Everyone freezes. The lights fade to show only Peachy.]  As he delivers his next lines, the other actors move about in the background to prepare for Peachy’s story]

I speak and you might look at me in amazement.  I speak and they look at me in horror.  I must seem like a Frankenstein figure to them.  Wandering between two worlds that don’t know quite what to do with me.  The hearies want me to be like them and the deafies just look at me in CONTEMPT!

[Lights come up enough to reveal the other actors rearranged in the yard area as if they were in a lecture hall. One person, the lecturer is standing next to a strange looking chair.  Everyone is waiting for him to start his lecture.  Peachy steps into the scene and sits in the chair.  The lecturer straps him in and the lights come up fully.]

LECTURER

Behold!  We are on the verge of another scientific discovery. A breakthrough that you could never have imagined.  You’ve been long told that the deaf are dumb.  That they are inferior in every regard.  Only the social workers have the audacity to claim that they are people like anyone else. It’s been said that  they are similar to the ancient species known as homo alalus, that breed of humanity without speech in prehistoric time, yet more retarded than they because they cannot hear. Thus they pass through the world among the hearing like shadows of whom we represent.  They hear us not, understand us not, all things human are foreign to them.  I am here today to demonstrate the fallacy of these assumptions.

RESPONDER #1

Heresy!

LECTURER

My fellow colleagues, please!  Let me conclude my argument. Allow me the benefit of the doubt.  In recent time the deaf have come to claim that they are equal to us in all respects. It is our duty as scientist to respect this illusion in order to allow us the fullest opportunity to explore this species of humanity.  For we know that whatever they believe,  deafness remains an infirmity and it is our scientific duty to repair this infirmity whether the person who has the infirmity is disturbed by it or not.

RESPONDER #2

Your comments seem rather obvious.

LECTURER

Allow me to conclude my thoughts!  It is generally agreed that all that humanity has every dreamed, wanted or done or will ever do depends on that rare ability to create movement of the air.  A breath of air that creates sounds distinguishable from all the random sounds of the universe to create meaning, such as I do at this moment. This ability is a divine gift, not inspired by us but floated down like magic to our lips and if this gift had not been made we would still be running wild in the forest. Is this not so?

RESPONDER #3

Hear, Hear!!

LECTURER

Is it unreasonable to presume that we can, through strenuous scientific effort, render the same gift of speech to the deaf?

RESPONDER #4

Preposterous!  Aristotle was quite clear on the subject.

RESPONDER #1

You speak the truth, let us get away from this madman.

LECTURER

Mad!  You call me mad?  Has not science made prodigal discoveries. Have we not make leaps of knowledge that exceed anything we could have dreamed of?  Why not speech to the deaf?

I tell you it is possible and I am here today to silence your doubts and prove beyond a scientific doubt that it is possible.  Let me demonstrate.

[Turns to the chair, grabs a microphone contraption and shouts into it the word “ball.” The man in the chair writhes in agony and begins to respond.]

MAN IN CHAIR

B…..B…B….Ba…Bal…Ball!

LECTURER

Awaken you men of science, I present you with a  miracle.

[Turns back toward the chair and shouts into the microphone again. This time it is the word, “airplane.”]

MAN IN THE CHAIR

[Writhing in pain, responds with great effort]

A..A…A…AAIR…….AIRPL…AIRPLANE!

RESPONDER #2

Astounding

RESPONDER #3

Yes, remarkable, but note, it is only one or two syllable words.  None of this indicates signs of intelligence.

LECTURER

You dare to doubt, let me further demonstrate

[Turns to the chair and shouts into the microphone]

Your name…Your name….YOUR NAME IS…

MAN IN CHAIR

[In greater agony, begins to respond]

M..M..My…Na..Nam…Name…Is…B..B…B…Bo…BOB!

[Sobs]

LECTURER

It speaks!  It thinks!  It is conscious of its name.  ladies and gentlemen, it is obvious this deaf man has responded with intelligence and flair.  Proof, my fellow colleagues, that the deaf can join the ranks of the living, the world of the hearing, and walk among us with their heads upraised.  No longer social outcasts but productive members of our society.  Living in the world as it was intended to be lived in.

[Suddenly the man in the chair begins to flop about in the chair, convulsing about,  wildly looking about for a way out, seeing none, he opens his mouth and begins to let go of a blood curdling scream]

MAN IN THE CHAIR

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

LECTURER

Colleagues, do not let this episode distract you. What you have seen is a modern scientific miracle.  Now franchise  brochures are on the back table…

[ Audience stampedes to back to get brochures. Lights fade back to only Peachy still strapped in the chair. He slowly unloosens his straps and as he works his way out of the chair he speaks to the audience]

PEACHY

A miracle of scientific endeavor.  What an apt description.  Yet no one asks what it costs to accomplish such scientific achievements.  That is what haunts me, the cost!  For every success, for every Peachy, how many lives are sacrificed at the holy altar of speech.   How many! I look out and I see the millions. Just beyond the sound of speech I see them standing, their faces stare back at me with a look worst than any holocaust victim.  I said…I said…I said I see the millions, everyday of my life.  So…the next time you feel like coming up to me and telling me that I speak so well for a deaf person.  Please, pause and consider

[Lights begin to come up and the scene is as it was before Peachy’s memory began.]

T-BONE

Come on, tell him, tell him about the seven days.

ZACH

What about seven days?

PEACHY

Well, I was telling everybody before about, you know, how God made the world in seven days.  On the first day he made

ARIEL

Light

PEACHY

Yeah, and on the second

PENNY

He made the sky and the oceans

PEACHY

And on the third

ALICE

Day he made earth and let all kinds of things begin to grow

PEACHY

And on the fourth day

T-BONE

He made the sun and the moon

PEACHY

Then on the fifth day

ZACH

He filled the seas and the sky with life

PEACHY

Then on the sixth day he made people and finally he got to rest on the seventh

ZACH

We all know that story, T-Bone what’s got you all worked up?

T-BONE

Just wait, he hasn’t told it all yet.

PEACHY

Yes, well, I was telling them that I used to be mad at God about that.

ZACH

About making all these things?

PEACHY

No, about the next day, Monday, the eight day.  What God do on the eight day after he rested?

ZACH

Nothing, I guess

PEACHY

That’s right! Nothing.  He could have taken that day to sort out all the things he made and when we found the deafies he could have said, well these I gotta put some place else in the universe. but he didn’t and I was kinda mad about that.  But just the other day I realized that  there is this other thing about God, they say that in the beginning was the word.  Now if in the very beginning was the word, what was before the word.

T-BONE

Nothing!

PEACHY

Right, nothing, and if there was nothing then that means there was silence and if there was silence than that means deaf people were around before hearing people. And if we were here first then we’re like the Indians, we’ve been screwed.

T-BONE

Well Zach, don’t that beat all?  We been screwed…someone’s been doing some revisions of the history books, just like they did with the black folks.

ALICE

And that made us think of your story, Zach, the one you used to tell so well before you go this crazy idea about the bus.

ZACH

I don’t want to talk about that

PENNY

But Zach, that’s why we brought Peachy over here.  You’re the best story teller around, especially that story.

ZACH

I tell ya, I don’t want to tell that one no more. It don’t mean nothing to me no more.   So now, just give me my engine part and I’ll get back to work on the bus.

ARIEL

Oh, come on Zach

ZACH

NO!

ALICE

Alright, then I’ll tell it.

ZACH

Suit yourself

[Lights fade, to Alice]

ALICE

I’ve always loved the deaf stories.  It made me believe there was hope, at least I call it hope. And my favorite stories we always told by Zach, and then one day he just stopped. I guess he gave up on all those deaf stories and now he’s got this one vision he just won’t let go of and so we gotta try and keep these stories alive until something better comes along. When Peachy told us about the seven days I remembered a story that Zach used to always tell us, but he hasn’t told it in nearly ten years..So I guess I’ll tell it cuz it reminds us of our dignity and when I tell it I think that it reminds hearing folks of the fact they robbed us of it just like they robbed the Indians of Manhattan Island.  Yeah, they robbed us good. So I keep on tellin’ some of these stories until Zach decides to tell them again to us. And maybe then some new ones too. So…

[Lights begin to come up and Alice begins to step into the story as it unfolds]

Once there was this old teacher…

[One actor, as an old teachers walks across the yard.  As this happens, he/she notices a little boy sobbing on the steps.  He goes toward the boy]

OLD TEACHER

What’s wrong

BOY

Nothing

OLD TEACHER

No please, tell me

BOY

Alright, I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I HATE school. They hit my hands every time I try to sign and they tell me all the time I must talk,  talk, talk. I’m gonna runaway from here and never, ever, ever come back!

[Starts to sob again]

OLD TEACHER

Hey, how about I tell you a secret

BOY

A secret? Sure what is it.

OLD TEACHER

Follow me

[They go down the stairs and the old teacher crouches, points up to the sky]

Can you see?

BOY

See what?

OLD TEACHER

That star

BOY

That one?

OLD TEACHER

Yes

BOY

What about it?

OLD TEACHER

What about it!  If you travel just past that star you’ll find a place they call Eye-th.  I’ve been told that it’s a world full of deaf people signing away.

BOY

Really?

OLD TEACHER

That’s what I’ve been told

BOY

How do I get there?

OLD TEACHER

It’s not easy, but if you want to you can.

BOY

Oh, I do!

OLD TEACHER

Alright, but it’s not easy. You’ll have to work really hard and learn all sorts of things like math, physics and many other subjects as well. And when you get done with all that you’ll have to build your very own rocket ship so you can get there. Think you can do it?

BOY

Yes!

OLD TEACHER

Then you better go back to the dorm and get a good night’s sleep.

BOY

Okay.

[Boy departs and returns into another scene. He is sitting reading a book and has the look of a nerd.]

[A girl shows up with another girl.  They both see the boy and a look between them decides the action to take]

GIRL #1

Hey book worm, when you gonna quit reading?

Girl #2

Yeah, your brain is gonna turn into a fried egg.

Girl #1

Come on

[Tries to take book away from him, fails]

GIRL #2

I’ll trade ya my Sega for your Game Boy

[Thinks a minute]

BOY

No, I have to study

GIRL #1

Let’s go and find someone more cool than this dreeb!

GIRL #2

Yeah, that sounds good to me.

[The boy gets up and goes off stage left. He comes back with a rocket helmet on and makes adjustments to a homemade rocket.

BOY

Finally! One more adjustment and I’m o my way.

[Steps up into the rocket]

Well, here goes nothing.

[The other actors crowd around the base and create vibrations, rocket dust and help move the rocket in some way]

[He travels through space, worlds pass and then he spots what he thinks is Eye-th]

[He prepares to land, a cloud of dust occurs, he gets out of the rocket and looks around. An inhabitant of the planet appears]

EYETH PERSON #1

Are you all right, You gave us quite a scare when you came crashing down.

SPACE TRAVELER

You’re signing

EYETH PERSON #1

Of course, what else would you expect?

EYETH PERSONS #2 & #3

What happened?

EYETH PERSON #1

That’s what I’m trying to find out.

EYETH PERSON #2

Who are you?

SPACE TRAVELER

I’m a space traveler. Is this Eye-th?

EYETH PERSON #1

Eye-th, yes why?

SPACE TRAVELER

I was told that if I came this far I would find a place where everyone used sign language.

EYETH PERSON #3

What’s so special about that?, everyone signs here.

SPACE TRAVELER

You mean everyone signs here?

EYETH PERSON #2

Of course

SPACE TRAVELER

My God!  I’ve found it, I’ve really found it.

[Celebrates and then comes to a pause]

You’re not teasing me are you?

EYETH PERSON #1

Why would I do that, come on I’ll show you around.

[Other actors fade away to assume other roles]

Look, there’s a traffic cop

[Sees traffic cop using signs]

And there’s our town movie theatre

[Goes in and sees a movie in sign, some current movie line is used during the viewing]

And there’s one of our stores

[Looks in window and sees a salesperson making a sale to a customer in sign]

SPACE TRAVELER

I  just can’t believe it, I’m finally home where everyone uses sign language.  But, wait, what about the schools

EYETH PERSON #1

Come on, I’ll show you

[They walk into a hall way and view classrooms, where sign is happening.

SPACE TRAVELER

Everyone is signing, even the teachers

[As they continue to walk, he notices a classroom where no signing is happening]

Wait, what about this room?

EYETH PERSON #1

Oh, this is the special room where we put children who have trouble learning to sign.

SPACE TRAVELER

Can I go in and watch?

EYETH PERSON #1

Sure

[They go in and watch, as they do he realizes what is happening]

SPACE TRAVELER

Hey, I know what’s happening here. There’s nothing wrong with these children.

EYETH PERSON #1

Nothing wrong!

SPACE TRAVELER

Where I have come from, everyone communicates like this. It’s another way of talking.

EYETH PERSON #1

What kind of nonsense is this. This isn’t talk, it’s gibberish.

SPACE TRAVELER

It’s not gibberish, you see they use sound to communicate

EYETH PERSON #1

Sound!

PACE TRAVELER

Yes, sounds..You see sound is something you can’t see but it floats around in the air and they can hear it with their ears.

[Demonstrates how sound might work]

[Other two actors join the conversation]

EYETH PERSON #1

What they do is primitive, it can’t be language.

EYETH PERSON #3

Yeah, that’s nonsense

EYETH PERSON #2

Signing is the only proper way to communicate.

EYETH PERSON #2 &#3

Everyone knows that!

[They all start to argue and it becomes chaotic. The  scene begins to change.  Eyeth person #2 begins to narrate as someone else voices or vise versa]

EYETH PERSON #2/LITTLE GIRL

So he stayed on Eye-th for a long time and worked very hard to convince people that there were various ways of communicating and tried to make the children’s who could speak and hear have a better life, but it was  a hard task because there were so many signers and so very, very few speakers.  Time passed and he grew old.

[Narrator becomes little girl, space traveler becomes old man and as he walks across the yard he notices the little girl crying]

OLD MAN

What’s wrong

LITTLE GIRL

Nothing!

OLD MAN

Come on, please tell me.

LITTLE GIRL

Alright, I’ll tell you what’s wrong. I HATE school. They hit my mouth every time I try to talk and they tell me all the time that I must sign, sign, sign.  I’m gonna run away from here and never, ever, ever come back!

OLD MAN

Hey, you want to know a secret?

LITTLE GIRL

A secret?, sure what is it.

OLD MAN

Come, I’ll show you.

[Goes down the stairs, crouches, and points to a star]

See that star

LITTLE GIRL

That one?

OLD MAN

Yes.

LITTLE GIRL

What about it?

OLD MAN

What about it!  If you travel just past that star I’ve been told there’s a place called Ear-th and there you will find a whole world full of people just talking away.

LITTLE GIRL

Really

OLD MAN

Really

LITTLE GIRL

How do I get there?

OLD MAN

It’s not easy, but if you want to you can get there.

LITTLE GIRL

Oh, I do!

OLD MAN

Alright but it’s not easy. You’ll have to work hard and study things like math, science, physics and after you’ve learned all that you’ll have to build your very own space ship to get there.  Think you can do that?

LITTLE GIRL

Yes!

OLD MAN

Fine, then you’d better go back to the dorm and get a good night’s rest.

LITTLE GIRL

Okay, I will.

OLD MAN

[He starts to walk away and stops to look up at the stars again]

I wonder if the two worlds will ever

[starts to do the sign “join” but stops just short of completing the sign]

Who knows…

[Lights begin to fade back to Alice]

ALICE

And that’s the way I remember Zach’s story

[Lights come up fully and the scene is as it was before]

So, Zach how come you won’t tell that story no more

ZACH

Because I don’t believe in it no more. I found me something else to belief in that’s better than that fool story. God almighty, it’s nearly the 21st century and we ain’t found no signs of life outside of this planet.  So why tell a foolish story like that.

ALICE

Because it’s about hope

T-BONE

Hope, big deal, so Zach, what do you believe in these days

ZACH

This old bus

PEACHY

How come

ARIEL

If there was an answer to that, it’d be the miracle of this century

ZACH

Ain’t no mystery to it at all

PENNY

Then why don’t you tell us

ZACH

You wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyways.

PEACHY

Well I’m new around here and I don’t have no reason to doubt you so why don’t you try me out.

ZACH

Alright, you got me going there. I’ll tell you, but you gotta promise not to laugh at me.

PEACHY

Hey, they call me Peachy, think I can’t understand what it means to be laughed at?

ZACH

Okay, well it all started with the deaf preacher

[The lights fade to just Zach. He begins to tell his story.]

It all began when I was little and the deaf preacher came to town.  He stood right over there on that stump. Right there. I remember it like it was yesterday.

[Preacher appears on stump, this can be the same actor who did the preacher like lines at the top of the show]

PREACHER

What’s the matter,  ain’t you folks ever seen a deaf preacher.  I’m here to pass on to you the good news.  Yes sir, the good news is why I’m here and you all is going to rejoice and make a joyful noise to the lord after I’m done here.  Here me now?  A joyful noise that will rise all the way to heaven and back.  I tell you I’m here to give you the word, the word right from the bible, and it says right here in Isaiah.  Right here in chapter 62 verse 10. It says it right clear “Go out! Go out! Prepare the roadway for my people to return!”  That’s right, there’s a road being built right this moment just for you and when it’s ready. When it’s done, you will be able to get on it and go find that place that the lord has prepared for you, his special people.   Hear me out, hear me and forgot not what I’ve said. I’m the preacher  and I’ve applied myself to the searching for understanding about everything in the universe.I tell you wait and the road will be prepared for your salvation.

ZACH

Now I was little and it didn’t make much sense to me, but as the years went by, by God, they did build a road. It went right by my house and when I asked what all the commotion was about they said they was building a freeway.  A FREEWAY and it was for everybody to use to get from here to there.  That’s when I knew. That’s when I knew the preacher was right and I went down and stood in the middle of that freeway.  You heard me right, I stood right in the middle of it and looked up to the stars and thanked god almighty for bringing the road.   I did I did.

[Lights come up, the others join]

PEACHY

Good lord, standing in the middle of a freeway, you could have been killed.

ZACK

No because it was my destiny.  I heard the preacher when I was little and that’s when I knew I would have to follow him, follow that sun and find that place that the lord had prepared for me and all the others who will come with me when I get this bus fixed.

T-BONE

You mean, you been working on this time on that bus because you think the freeway is gonna lead you to some fool place just for you to plop down on when you get there.

ZACH

Not just anyplace, but a place of our own

ALICE

A place of our own!  That has a nice ring to it. Do you really think the preacher was right.  He could have been off his rocker

ZACH

I thought the same. But when they built the freeway, that convinced me.

ARIEL

And I’ve been listening to him tell it over the supper table for ten years. Ten years his butt stuck up in the air as he tinkers with that bus engine.  Sometimes he don’t come in for days, just sleeps out in the hammock and dreams about getting that bus started.

PEACHY

So what ya gonna do when you get the bus started.

ZACH

I tell you what I’m a gonna do. I gonna be just like Noah.  I’m gonna drive that bus right into the town square

[gets up, goes over and pulls the bus hood down and climbs up to sit on the hood]

I’m gonna sit right here on the hood and I’m gonna sign as big as I can sign to the whole town and I’m gonna tell them that I’m on my way to follow the sun and  any takers can join me.  I’ll give them plenty of warning.  Then I’ll check the old radiator, fill up the gas tank and just take off at the crack of dawn.  Just as soon as the sun comes up, I’ll take off and I’ll find it. I’ll find it just like the preacher said, a place of our own just like he said.

ARIEL

And it’ll be good riddance cuz I’m tired of that man yapping about this foolish dream

ZACH

You go ahead sister,  you talk that way and see if I let you know when I’m a leaving.

PEACHY

I’ll go with you

ALICE

Me too, I’d like to find that place we could call our own.

T-BONE

Good God, I bring you all over to hear out these crazy stories and now you all is gonna go off and  try to make them come true. What’s happening to this community. You all are going off your rockers. That’s what’s happening!

PENNY

Crazy or not, let’s see if we can help Zach get this bus up and running.  Ain’t much of any reason I can think of for staying around this place.  Come on Zach…

[The group breaks down into overlapping conversations, everyone trying to get their views of the situation into the argument.  The lights start to fade to black]

END OF ACT 1