Just a Play – The Ross School (2015)
Just a Play by Sophie Griffin
(Emma enters a study hall-ish room and throws down books)
Harper: Geez. What’s up with you?
Emma: (angrily) I’m stressed about the big play deadline, duh.
Emma: Yeah, the completed play is due tomorrow!
Harper: I did it during study hall yesterday.
Emma: What! I don’t even have an idea. How did you write it?
Harper: What do you mean, how did I write it?
Emma: Nothing…I just –
Harper: You just think I’m stupid?
Emma: No…I just…I’m sorry, ok. I’m really stressed.
Harper: It’s fine. (sighs) Have you brainstormed?
Emma: Yes. No. No ideas. I can’t figure it out.
Harper: It’s ok. It’s just a play.
Emma: No it’s not!
Harper: Ok. Chill!
Emma: It’s so easy for you to say it’s simple. You have such a defined personality. I feel like a blob of nothing floating around in a sea of boring ideas.
Harper: Are you having an existential crisis? You’re letting 50 lines of dialogue define who you are?
Emma: It’s not just a play!
Harper: Why are you making such a big deal out of this?
Emma: I don’t know, ok. I just feel like such a boring person, not being able to think of one creative idea. And I feel like this play is an extension of my personality, just having free range and all, letting all of your feelings and ideas and experiences amalgamate into one piece.
Harper: It totally isn’t.
Emma: Maybe not for you.
Harper: Not for me? You always do this to me.
Emma: Can you just feel for me?
Harper: (sarcastically) It’s so difficult being you, with your perfect grades and perfect life.
Emma: My life is not perfect!
Harper: Perfect grades, perfect family.
Emma: (interrupting) – stop! So what if I do well in school. Everyone likes you.
Harper: Not true. Um…so what are you thinking for the play?
Emma: I just don’t know. I can’t think of a single feasible idea.
Harper: What are your interests, what do you like to read, what do you love, think like that.
Emma: I have been. I hate this I hate this I hate this.
Harper: Calm down.
Emma: I can’t. I need an idea. This is 20% of our final grade.
Harper: Stressing isn’t going to help.
Emma: Can you please just leave me alone?
Harper: Sorry for trying to help.
(Harper gets up to go)
Emma: I didn’t mean it like that, I’m sorry.
Harper: No, I’ll leave you alone.
(Harper leaves, but forgets backpack.)
Emma: God, I was being such a jerk to her, but this is so hard! Why can’t it just come easily like everything else at school. School’s supposed to be easy for me, not like everything else. I need to write this but I can’t. I can’t do it. It’s impossible. And I can’t not do it. (groans)
(Emma leaves and Harper comes back on to grab the backpack she forgot)
Harper: Why did I lie to Emma? I never wrote anything. She’s always been the smart one, I should be used to that. I guess I just, I don’t know, I wanted to feel smart. I wanted to be better than her at something. I think I really hurt her feelings, not that she has any right to be angry! I know I can write it though, but hers will probably be better. (sighs)
(H leaves, next scene is day of play performance)
(off-stage voice) Actor: Not the turtle!
(Off-stage voice) Teacher: Great job Harper, A+! Okay Emma, it’s your turn.
(Emma comes on stage)
Emma: In lieu of a play I’ve written a monologue. (Clears throat) I am always the goody-two shoes perfect student and I’m sick of it. I want to be known for my personality rather than a percentage. You all wrote plays that reflect you: funny, clever, dark, thoughtful, and intelligent. I’m not going to. I’m going to write an Emma play, which is a monologue. I’m not going to put myself into a box anymore and be the smart student. I’m being Emma. Not the Emma 16 hours ago who got so stressed about the play that they became a huge jerk. Or the one who 12 hours ago cried about how sad it would be to be a dinosaur. Or the one who had a panic attack about writing something so personal, less than a minute ago. I want to be the Emma that’s confident, and funny, and kind. I hope you’ll all join me in this.
Teacher: Emma, the assignment was to write a 2 person dialogue. I’m afraid I’m going to have to give you an F.
Emma: I don’t care.
(After the plays)
Emma: Hi Harper…Let me just say-
Harper: -No, no. Let me apologize. I was being selfish and rude.
Emma: No way, I was being a total jerk and putting you down.
Harper: I still had no right to act like a prick.
Emma: No, no. You play was great!!
Harper: (laughing) Don’t act so surprised.
Emma: No, really. It was hilarious.
Harper: It was ok. But you! That was so brave of you.
Emma: (laughing) Don’t act so surprised!
Harper: You took a risk. She shouldn’t have given you an F! You expressed yourself, and it was great.
Emma: I don’t think my parents will agree…
Harper: Who cares. It was awesome!
Emma: (shrugs shoulders) It was just a play.