The Essay – Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School (2012)
The Essay by James Himmelmann
Click here to watch a video of this performance.
Setting: Bedroom of a teenage boy. Desk is center stage with a few random papers and lamp. Scattered clothes and other teenage boy-ish things litter the floor
Young boy walks in from offstage right with a backpack. He throws it by the desk, sits down in his chair, and lets out an exasperated sigh. He then starts searching for different materials while talking out loud to himself.
Mike: All right let’s do this! Uhhmmmm I need my laptop (grabs his laptop) Check! Okayy I need my glasses… (searches in his pockets and on the desk) Check! Thinking cap? (Mimes putting a ball-cap on his head) Check! Time to write the best college essay ever in less than three hours! Whoopwhoop!
Mike starts writing his essay. After a few seconds he sneezes. The sneeze is very overdramatic.
Mike: Ewwww grossss! Aw crap I got fricken’ snot fricken’ everywhere now! Ughh! (Stands up) Okay uhm tissue… Tissue tissue tissue…
He starts looking around his room for a box of tissues. He checks under the strewn clothes and goes offstage left. From offstage Mike continues repeatedly saying the word “tissues” and eventually starts singing the word to himself. In addition, while offstage different items are thrown on stage as if Mike is looking through a closet. After a few seconds Mike comes back onstage with a box of tissues. He blows his nose obnoxiously.
Mike: Ugh thank god! Okay now let’s get back to business!
Another few seconds pass and then Mike’s cell-phone goes off. The ringtone is a funny song that will be determined later.
Mike: (Talking on the phone, allow for pauses acting as the person on the other line.) Yelllooo? Oh hey McKayla! I’m just sitting here starting my college essay! Oh it’s about my experience in the theatre department and how it has made me a better overall person! Yeah yeah I know. I know I should’ve written this a month ago. Yes I am aware of the application deadlines. Yes I know they are tomorrow. I can do it, trust me! Yeah! Yeah Mrs. Caracci did help me out a little. Mhmm! Mhmm. Yeaaappp. Well my day was good how about you babe? Good! Yes I did see Jessica’s haircut! No I don’t think it looks pretty… Yes you’re absolutely right. She’s a hideous ogre. I know. Yes you are much much muuuuuuuch preettier! Oh I love you too pookie! Oh I’d love to but I just told you I’m writing my essay. But it’s due tomorrow! I know that’s not your fault but I have to do it! Babe don’t take it personally! Yes I do think this is a little bit more important than that. Come onnnn. I still love you! Do you still love me? … Do you still love me? Okay good! I’ll talk to you later then. Okay? Okay hugs and kisses! Mwuaahhh! (He hangs up) Ughh women!
Mike continues to write his essay. After another few seconds his mom calls from downstairs.
Mrs. Ashfield: Mike!
Mrs. Ashfield: Be a hun and help me with these groceries!
Mike: But mom I’m working on my college essay!
Mrs. Ashfield: Are you gunna leave your poor ol’ momma alone to break her back carrying all these heavy groceries from the car?
Mike: Mom this is important!
Mrs. Ashfield: You should be ashamed, neglecting a poor old woman like me!
Mike: (Getting more frustrated) Mom I’m not-
Mrs. Ashfield: Did I neglect you when you were a sweet little munchkin and you were crying because you fell on your cute little tushie?
Mike: Alright Mom, come on…
Mrs. Ashfield: Did I neglect you when you were hungry and crying at half past two o’ clock in da mornin’?
Mike: But my college-
Mrs. Ashfield: No! I most certainly did not! You know why? Because I loooveee you Mikey, because I loooveeee you! Don’t you love your momma Mikey?
Mike: Of course I do but-
Mrs. Ashfield: Enough with the buts Michael! You never help me! You never spend time with me! You’re always with your friends playing basketball or, or, or video games. What happened to the time all you wanted to do was sit on my lap and rest your precious little head on my chest?
Mike: Mom can we talk about this later?
Mrs. Ashfield: You see! That’s what you always do! Can we talk about it later! Oh I’ll help you, later! Oh, I’ll love you, later! You don’t love me like you used to!
Mike: (Mad now) Mom, of course I love you don’t be over dramatic.
Mrs. Ashfield: Excuse me? Excuuuuuussseee me? Over dramatic? Oh I’ll show you over dramatic! You’re gunna make me make dinner all by myself and your grandparents are coming over and your aunts are coming over and your baby cousins are coming over and now I’m cooking all by myself and we just ain’t got time for that!!
Mike: Moooom! Alright just let me finish my essay and I’ll help you!
Mrs. Ashfield: See! I’ll do it lattterrr! You’re lucky I’m a good and patient woman!
Mike: Yeah, I know!
Mrs. Ashfield: Just wait until your father hears about this!
Mike: (exasperated sigh) Oh god.
Mike continues his essay for a few seconds.
Mrs. Ashfield: Mikey hunny?!
Mike pulls on his air and waves his arms like he’s losing control of his anger. After a few seconds of this he pulls himself together, takes a deep breath, and says politely:
Mike: Yes mom?
Mrs. Ashfield: I loooveeeee youuuuuu!
Mike: I love you too mom.
Mike continues work for a little longer until his girlfriend McKayla sneaks into his room from stage right, wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and covers his eyes with her hands.
McKayla: Guess who!
Mike: Do I have to?
McKayla: It’s me silly! I thought since you’re working so hard I might surprise you!
Mike: Well that’s sweet but I’m trying to focus and I kinda thought I told you not to come
McKayla: Here I got something to make it better.
Mike: Actually I was wondering if I could have a little privacy to think, you know?
McKayla: Oh… privacy? I see.
Mike: No McKayla don’t be like that!
McKayla: No no I get it. It’s obvious that you’re too busy procrastinating to hang out with your girlfriend.
Mike: Come on babe this is my college essay!
McKayla: Yeah, duh, I know that! I’m not dumb. I also know that it should’ve been done weeks ago. It’s due tomorrow, like you are so lazy.
Mike: Well I’m sorry then. Sorry I’d rather get into college then be yelled at by you.
Mckayla: I’m only yelling at you because you’d rather do this than hang out with me. And I got all dressed up for you too! I wanted it to be a surprise.
Mike: (Looks at her sweat outfit and bites his tongue) But- uhm- yeah you look great. But I just want to work on my essay okay thanks bye.
McKayla: Okay thanks bye? You are being so fresh right now! And to think I came all the way over here to have you give me an attitude!
Mike: You live next door!
McKayla: Yeah? So? I had to walk. And your mother seemed in a bad mood so I made sure she didn’t see me. You know sometimes you don’t appreciate the things I do for you.
Mike: (very angry now) Please can we just talk about this another time?
McKayla: You know what? You’ve been so rude lately!
Mike: Babe, please, I’ll do whatever you want later just let me write my essay!
McKayla: And I got us these too. They were supposed to be a surprise for your birthday coming up but I guess you’re too busy for this too.
She holds out two tickets for a Broadway play.
Mike: These are for your favorite show…
McKayla: Yeah, so? We could spend the day together. It would be fun. But I don’t think I want to go anymore.
Mike: Is that a threat? There are a million things I’d rather do than go see Legally Blonde: The musical for a second time!
McKayla: Michael you self-obsessed jerk! (She throws the tickets at him) You can go by yourself then. I don’t even want to go.
Mike: I’m sorry babe I really am, I just need to write this essay.
McKayla: Yea, yeah. Say no more! I’m leaving! Just like you wanted! Off I go! Have fun getting rejected from college you selfish shit.
Mike: McKayla I love you, truly. Just please leave me alone.
(McKayla makes a face and storms out. Mike lets out a deep breath and smiles.)
Mike: Oh sweet Jesus. I’m finally alone.
(After a few seconds you hear a car pull up, a door slam, another door slam. You then hear Mr. and Mrs. Ashfield talking from downstairs. They are trying to keep their voices down but Mike can clearly hear their conversation and reacts to it as well)
Mr. Ashfield: Hey Barb what’s for dinner?
Mrs. Ashfield: (In a snippy tone) Oh my day was good thanks how about yours?
Mr. Ashfield: Alright what’s wrong honey?
Mrs. Ashfield: Oh nothing Hank your son has just refused to help me with the groceries and with dinner. You know he’s been getting far too disrespectful lately. He’s been so rude I feel like I am eatin’ a sweet tart every time I talk to him.
Mr. Ashfield: Well what do you want me to do about it?
Mrs. Ashfield: What do I want you to do about it? I want you to go upstairs and straighten out yooouuuurrrrr son.
Mr. Ashfield: But honey, it’s Monday Night Football! Bears at the Packers!
Mrs. Ashfield: I do not care about how the Bears do, or if and when they get packed. What I care about is our son getting out of control. You know they say that your child distancing him/herself from his/her parental figures is the first sign that your child may be experimenting with drugs? I read so in ‘The Ten Signs Your Son/Daughter Might One Day Be Arrested For Trafficking Heroin’.
Mr. Ashfield: What? No… He’s probably just tired or something or (grumbles something incoherently)
Mrs. Ashfield: You say something to him right now or else.
Mr. Ashfield: … Or else what? …
Mrs. Ashfield: … Oh you know.
Mr. Ashfield: … (Beat. Calling upstairs) Michael don’t be rude to your mother!
Mrs. Ashfield: Oh you are so useless. (calling upstairs) Michael your father and I want to talk to you!
Mike: But mom I’m writing my college essay!
Mrs. Ashield: (to Mr. Ashfield) you see what he does? He never listens!
Mr. Ashfield: … (calling upstairs) Michael listen to your mother!
Mrs. Ashfield: We need to talk about you behavior! You have been waayyyy out of control lately I feel like I’m pullin’ teeth whenever I ask you to do even the smallest favor for your own momma!
Mike: Mom I’ll talk to both you and dad when I’m done with my essay!
Mrs. Ashfield: Wait a minute! Hold the telephone! Do you hear yourself? All that sass! All that back-talk! If you don’t get down here right now I will come right on up there! … And trust me, if I do… You will not wanna be you.
Mike: No! Don’t come up here!
Mrs. Ashfield: Why not? Boy are you hiding somethin’ from us!?
Mike: No no! My room is just uhhhmmmmm very messy! Very, very messy!
Mrs. Ashfield: Oh it better not be! Right Hank? … Hank? Hank are you even listening? We are gunna have our own little discussion when I’m through here you can be suuureee of that!
Mr. Ashfield: No wait I (grumbles something incoherently)
Mrs. Ashfield: Now. Michael Xavier Ashfield! You get down here this instant or you are grounded for a week!
A light bulb goes off in Mike’s head.
Mrs. Ashfield: Oh yes you got that right! Nobody in or out of your room for a whole week except for school and dinner!
Mrs. Ashfield: What did you just say?
Mike: Oh uhm No! (Sarcastically) No you can’t do that to me! You won’t even let in McKayla!
Mrs. Ashfield: Oh boy there is not a chance in the heavens!
Mike: (silently cheers) Oh no! Oh no but I want to go out and have fun!
Mrs. Ashfield: Not with the way you’ve been acting!
Mike: I’m so sorry mom! I love you soooooooo much and I’ll never do this again!
Mrs. Ashfield: Awh Mikey I love you too! Maybe grounding you is a little harsh.
Mike: Oh no no I accept my punishment! I deserved it! I was rude and selfish and obnoxious and… and other bad things that I shouldn’t do.
Mrs. Ashfield: Yes you have been very rude to me! You better learn how to speak good to your momma in this week cuz if you don’t boy I’d be in the right mind to put you under house arrest!
Mike: I’m sure I will find the time to look inside myself and be a better person because of it.
Mrs. Ashfield: (Beat) Well good! I’m glad you find the right sense of mind before I had to smack you silly!
Mike: Me too mom. Me too….
Mrs. Ashfield: Now Hank I can’t believe you didn’t support me when I… (trails off)
Mike: Okay. Now. Finally. It is just me and my computer. No distractions no nothing. Just me and the best college essay ever written. Okay. Here we go. Let’s start over fresh. Completely new, focused train of though. Just me and the essay, just me and the essay. Wax on, wax off. (Talks as he types) Michael Ashfield. November 30th, 2012. How has being involved in theatre personally affected my life.
He cracks his knuckles and his neck and as soon as he types the first word there is an electrically explosion as the power goes out. All lights turn to dark blue but you can still see Mike)
Mike: … This is a joke right
Mrs. Ashfield: Oh lord! Oh lord! The chicken! The chicken! Oh noooo what am I gunna tell Aunt Patty?!
Mr. Ashfield: Barb what’d you do to the lights the T.V. went out?!
Mrs. Ashfield: Well don’t be blaming me! It could have been anybody but nooo of course it’s my fault!
Mr. and Mrs. Ashfield add-lib an argument. In the dark blue light you see Mike close his laptop slowly, get up, and walk towards upstage right. Once he goes offstage you hear a door slam.