No Man Thinks Alone (2016)
Angela Ruiz and Bella Gurello in Arda
Soda’s play “No Man Thinks Alone”
No Man Thinks Alone
by Arda Poda
Casting: two young people, no other restrictions
(Set up: Three chairs in center stage. The one slightly in the middle will be referred to as The Great Chair–like a throne. A thermos of coffee, ideally out of the sight of the audience.)
(S and I enter stage right. I is in front, carrying a rifle. They reduce their pace and relax, seeing the room is empty. S sits in one of the chairs. I walks to the lower stage.)
I: We did it. We have taken over the brain completely; we are now in control of the man.
S: Is he asleep?
I: I think so. I hope you realize the incredible feat we have accomplished.
(S shrugs. I puts the gun on The Great Chair. The gun will return there every time unless stated otherwise.)
I: (Clears throat) We have done the impossible. We have taken the corrupt and horrible rulers of this poor 70-year-old businessman, the puppet masters inside his head and we have sent them where they belong. Now, we have taken their place and will do what they didn’t: actually change stuff for the better. The poor will be enriched, the disabled helped, the naive not tricks, and most importantly, all the voices inside his head will be heard, not thrown to the wayside. We are, at last, victorious.
S: Now what?
I: What do you mean?
S: You had a nice speech and all but do you have any idea how you’re going to do the stuff you said?
I: (shrugs) These things kind of sort themselves out.
S: (sarcastically) Yeah, that’s how it works. Two teenagers take control of a seventy-year-old brain and it will just work out.
I: It worked for this whole thing didn’t it?
S: In here. I’ve watched enough TV to know that things work very differently out there.
I: We could still do it.
S: The place’s a lot emptier than I’d expected.
S: (sighs) I’m bored. Let’s wake him up.
I: He should sleep.
S: (stands up calmly) Well, he can’t do anything in sleep mode.
I: What’ll you do if you wake him up anyway?
S: I don’t know. He’s an adult; we could do anything.
I: Like changing the world for the better?
S: No like getting wasted.
I: (sits down) That’s a terrible idea.
S: What would you have us do?
I: He has plenty of money. Maybe we could donate to charity.
S: Look, that is no fun. He has a TV show, too; I think I saw it once. We could go on that. It’ll be fun.
I: Terrible idea. That show’s nasty.
S: Looks, Mr. Niceguy, we won’t be able to do anything (I stands up) if you go on like this.
I: (leans on The Great Chair) You will kill us both if you–
S: Stop exaggerating. (He also leans on The Great Chair.) Look, these things you do to keep yourself busy are more fading than the stupid things I do, so just shut up and enjoy the power you have now.
S: Look, I have an idea. It’s something that will satisfy us both. (I rolls eyes, S pauses then glares.) How about running for president? You can do the stuff to help people, and I can declare myself God Emperor or something.
I: (ponders in silence) You won’t block what I’ll try to do?
S: Of course not.
I and S: (to themselves, not looking at each other) A power sharing agreement. I give it fifteen minutes.
(They shake hands then sit down in their respective chairs.)
I: Coffee? (They get coffee.)
(They drink in silence.)
S: So, how do you plan to do what we have decided upon?
I: I’m not sure. (To self only.) I am sure.
S: Would you like to discuss it after coffee?
I: Sure. (Glances at the gun, then to self only.) We are going to discuss it alright.
S: I’m bored. (To self only.) Who am I kidding? This is a thousand times better than watching TV.
I: (cordially) What can I do about it?
S: Be my Court Jester. (I glares.) Oh, take a joke.
(Silence, sip coffee.)
S: Do you think it’ll be fun to ride a car off a cliff?
I: Don’t start with that again. We should use our lives–
S: To do good. Blah blah blah. If it was up to you, we would be serious all the time and try to help people who don’t even want it.
I: Why shouldn’t we try to do that?
S: It’s boring, that’s why.
I: Well, we’d be dead in two minutes if it wasn’t for me.
S: Oh really, Mr. Indispensable? Maybe we should take a look at a world without you.
(They both shoot up from the chairs and go for the gun, getting to it at the same time. They glare at each other.)
I: Okay. Let go in 3, 2, 1… (They both let go and sit back down.)
S: We really need to find a solution to this.
I: Maybe you should just leave.
S: Look, I didn’t ask to be here. (S stands up.) You just came into my room and–
I: And you still wanted to join me.
S: I was bored. And you had a gun.
I: You still came with you own free will. You can leave if you really “didn’t ask to be here.” I wouldn’t mind.
S: It’s more fun here.
I: (rolls eyes) I won’t leave, and if neither will you there’s no way to solve this. (Stands up slowly.)
S: We could share it. Like, a day for you and a day for–
I: Terrible idea. It’d be better to split the brain in two. Actually, we should do that instead.
S: Wouldn’t that make him completely braindead?
I: If you won’t leave, that’s what we’ll have to do.
S: And the gun? Where should we put it?
I: The middle of course.
S: (pauses) You do realize that what you are proposing will never work, right?
I: If you won’t leave, this is how it’ll be.
S: You are acting childish.
I: No, you are! Why can’t you see I’m right? I’m the better leader by far. I want to make the world a better place. All you want to do is just–just–to waste away until you’re dead. You are childish because you can’t or won’t see that the greater good doesn’t always overlap with what you want.
S: Ha! You speak so highly but you don’t see how childish you are for wanting absolute power with no restraints. You can’t even see other have different points let alone respect them. You want everything of yourself because you think you are infallible.
(They sit back down.)
I: I’m out of coffee. Is there more?
I: (Looks where the coffee is.) I see it under your feet, you liar!
S: No. (Kicks it and it spills.) No you don’t.
I: Don’t make this harder. You are just sitting there doing nothing but trying to destroy my dreams. (Points offstage behind S.) There is the door.
S: (Silence. Looks up to I) No. (Stands up.) There is the door. (Points the other way.)
I: Please, I’m tired of this. Don’t make my life harder. I’m already going to face lots of challenges so please–
S: I’d like to ask you something. What good have we done? Was it a good thing that we took over? I mean, I don’t understand how you can seriously think we’ll run the whole show any better. You know, I wish I had just stayed with my TV, doing nothing of importance. Alas, I am here, so I’d like it to be at least tolerable, but you seem to want to ruin it for me. Anyway, whatever you are trying to achieve will fail, too, I have to say. The best thing you and all of us can do is to try to enjoy the show while it lasts, and wait for it to end.
(They sit down and try not to look at each other.)
I: Do you really think we will make it worse?
(S nods. I is still looking away.)
I: You are wrong. It’ll be better. It has to. I can make it better. (Stands up.) You just don’t have vision. Yes, that’s it. No vision. You are just putting yourself to sleep believing that the things you can’t do the others can’t either. Well, I can and will. I’ll make it so great, so terrific everyone will burst with joy. I will fix it, and it’ll be glorious. You’re just in the way.
S: I’m in the way? (Stands up.) One thing I can’t understand is why you took me with you. You knew who I was. Why didn’t you put a hole through my skull like the others? Why? I think I know. It is for the same reasons as me. (They slowly move to The Great Chair while keeping eye contact.) You just want–
I: Shut up.
S: Oh, is that how you play now? No great speeches, written, clever words? Just a simple shut up? You really are no fun.
I: Do you want coffee?
S: (Confused, looks over to where the coffee was.) Wait, I spilt–
(I tried to grab the gun but S notices him and manages to get a hold of the gun, too. They stand face to face.)
I: Ok, count down from 3, 2, 1…
I: Let’s make it work this time. 3, 2, 1…
(They both let go, and then sit back, keeping eye contact.)
S: Was I wrong in what I said?
S: Care to explain?
S: Look, we can’t do this forever. We have to find some way to resolve it, but you seem so keen on not compromising any–
I: I would compromise if I trusted you wouldn’t kill us the first chance you got.
S: What makes you say that?
I: Have you ever looked in a mirror? How can you be so blind? You have no thought about the consequences of your actions. You don’t even know why you’re here. The first thing you said here was “Now what?” Seriously? You had nothing planned for what you’d do with the power you won?
S: Did you?
I: (taken aback) Well, I–I did. I–
S: Really? You had a plan? Don’t make me laugh. You had no more of an idea than me when you stormed the brain and gave your speech.
S: Right. I asked you and you just shrugged it off. You really seem to have a selective memory.
I: (Shoots up from the seat.) Look, you’re wrong, but at least I have a vision. You have nothing. You just drift away hoping that you’ll enjoy it, and it will be fun. It never satisfies you because–
S: (Calmly rises, voice is not calm in the least.) I see the truth. You hope to find purpose from being good, but you won’t. You are wasting your time as much as me, if not more. At least I’m not kid–
I: The truth? Ha! You and the truth are separated by an ocean, my friend. You just think there’s no world beyond that ocean. You speak of me wasting my time. What about you? What will you do when this bores you? What will you do when there’s nothing that you’ll enjoy? I think you’ll take that rifle and turn–
S: Shut up! You–
I: No you shut up, and hear some truth. You lack vision. You have no direction in your–
S: Enough! I’ve had enough of you and your stupid outlook. Ever since we came you wanted me to kneel before you, and now you claim I have no vision. You are blind. So very blind. At first I thought you knew what you were doing, but you know less than me. I at least don’t kid myself into thinking I know what I’m doing. What you are doing is carving out your blinded eye to make it see. I can’t stand this anymore.
I: (Points behind S.) Well, there’s the door.
I: are you just going to stand there, or are you a coward too?
(S grabs the gun and I grabs it, too. They glare at each other.)
I: (After a brief pause.) Is this going to happen all the time? You know the drill. 3, 2, 1…
(S rips the gun from I’s hand when I’s grip gets weaker because he expects S to let go.)
I: Don’t be ridiculous.
I: We both know you can’t do it. Do you realize how boring it would be without me?
(S turns the gun to I.)
I: Look, keep the gun, and sit back down. Then we can continue our bickering. Without me, you’d have no one to argue with. So put that down, and–
S: I’m bored of bickering.
I: (Freezes, with a frightened voice.) O–Okay. We could do something else. You wanted to be God Emperor or something, right? We could do that. Come on, put it down and let’s discuss–
S: Yeah. (S pauses, I relaxes.) I’m bored of bickering. (I gets tense again.)
(The gun fires, lights go out.)
(Lights back on. S is sitting in The Great Chair with the gun on his lap. I is on the ground.)
S: (Looks around the room, rolls the gun in his hands looking at it. Looks up form the gun.) Now what?
(Lights out, curtain.)