Empty Spaces
a play by Marc Heiden.


John Witherspoon - a human being who is played by two people - a MIND (referred to as JOHN initially) and a BODY for the first section of the play, and for the rest the BODY alone (which is, after the mind's departure, referred to as JOHN). During the first section, the BODY is the "John" with which other characters interact. It stands still at center stage unless otherwise noted and shows broad, vague emotions in reaction to situations presented to it - overall, a very confused being. The MIND is a bit more frantic, often pacing in a frustrated manner. It has free reign over the stage. Once the BODY is alone, its characterization slowly begins to develop.

John's Mother - a large and overbearing woman. She, like the father, should be taken to an extreme rather than played literally.
John's Father - a very stiff man, reeking of pseudo-intelligence and arrogance who is actually a coward.
The Nanny - a unpleasant woman; very curt.
John's Wife - boring and unpersonable
John's Son - fat and not very bright
John's Daughter - quiet and nondescript
Students -
1 - rebellious type
2 - girl in awe
3 - basic nerdy type
Professors - three of them. they resemble John's father: all bland, learned men.
Professor Rossdale - a leering, smug professor of John's age.
Barney Goodluck- an idealistic young graduate student.
A Gorilla
Soldiers (two)
A Minister
Hula Dancers


Voices - very average people. They are not seen, just heard. There should be an even male/female mix, but in regards to order in the play they are interchangeable.


There is a bright white light in the corner where John's mind initially resides along with one around John's body, both of which form something of a circle. The rest of the stage is bathed in a somewhat dimmer light and patches of darkness. When someone else is onstage with John use a partially lit stage; when he is alone all is black but the spotlights. A staging point: no one except John and the body are allowed to stand still for very long. All others are in motion, usually passing by and just out of reach. Things need to move fast. During the first part, most interaction is done with John's body, not the mind, unless otherwise noted (for example, the Nanny often seems aware of the mind).


(The play opens with an entirely dark stage. A bright white spotlight appears suddenly, revealing JOHN standing alone onstage, staring upwards)

JOHN: I....(pauses)
I......(another pause)
(confused) I.....am?
(with conviction) I am.

(JOHN attempts to walk - the spotlight does not follow him.
He steps back into the spotlight, startled)

Okay. That's.....okay. (pauses)
Words. Right. Words......no more words. (pauses, looks around)
Dark. Right. No.....(suddenly) It's not dark. Can't be. It wasn't light, see. Can't be dark if it wasn't light. Right.....words, together, good. Together again for the first time. Doing well.

(JOHN again attempts to walk out of the spotlight. It still does not follow.
Disappointed, he returns to the spotlight)

No good.....(shrugs) maybe later. Anyways.....(pauses)
Had something before. Tasted like....no, no, something else. Try that, maybe. Put it all together. Together, good. (revelatory) I!

(screams) I am!
I am!
I am!

where am I? For that matter, what am I? I don't know and this is so new but I can't remember ever having been anywhere else. So unfamiliar and yet it's all I know...that can't be right. There has to have been something else, or there has to be somewhere else. But I can't see a thing through this nothing...

(shivers, holding self) I'm cold...so cold...there's nothing here, so maybe that's why it's so cold...there's me, though...but I guess I cannot create my own warmth.
(pauses) So I'm going to stay cold.
(screams) Isn't anyone listening? I am!
I am!

(a dim, orange-yellow light appears suddenly. JOHN's BODY stands at center stage, isolated in a spotlight. JOHN's MOTHER and FATHER enter)

JOHN: (startled) Erp?
MOM: Well, there he is! Our darling son!
DAD: A scholar in the making, I tell you.
JOHN: Hello?
MOM: Oh, look, he's making such cute little noises....
JOHN: Can you hear me?
DAD: (sternly) Now that's enough of that baby-talk, son, we speak English around here.
MOM: Oh, Andrew....
JOHN: Hey! Who are you? Do you understand me?
MOM: Hush, little one, it's time to sleep.
JOHN: Wait! You haven't told me anything! What am I doing here? What is this?
MOM: He's getting a little cranky. He must be tired....are you tired, my widdle snookums?
JOHN: Well, yeah, a bit, but....
DAD: (looks offstage) Susan, the nanny's here.....we really must be going to Professor Leahy's dinner now.
MOM: You're right, dear, it simply wouldn't do to be late.
JOHN: Hey! Hold on! What....

(PARENTS exit, NANNY enters)

JOHN: Great....oh, hello, could you....
NANNY: Shut up, kid. (leaves)
JOHN: Gotcha.

(JOHN is alone with the BODY, really taking notice of it for the first time)

JOHN: Hey, you're still here?

(BODY remains silent)

JOHN: No, no, I'm glad to have you here, please don't go anywhere. Hi. I...ah, I am. We would seem to be in this together. And you are?

(BODY is silent, gives only a mildly paranoid look)

JOHN: Right. This isn't a competition, you know. I was just wondering if...(pauses, looks at BODY) oh, forget it. When you're ready to knock this off, let me know. In the meantime...hmm.
There is something else and I seem to be part of it. If only those first two would return, maybe they could explain...

(MOTHER enters stage with bottle in hand)

MOM: Hello my little darling...ooh your mother loves you so!
JOHN: Thanks. Do I know you, by the way?
MOM: My precious! Going to be a big strong boy!
JOHN: Oh. Um. I was wondering if you could explain a few things...
MOM: Izzums getting a little hungry?
JOHN: Okay, I don't think we're getting across to each other. Can...

(MOTHER starts to reach with bottle towards BODY, which looks eager,
when FATHER enters with NANNY behind him)

DAD: Now Susan, none of that foolishness. We have a nanny for a reason.
MOM: Oh, alright.

(hands bottle to NANNY, exits. FATHER takes NANNY aside)

DAD: Just between you and me...screw the bottle. (reaches offstage, pushes a massive book towards NANNY) Give him a bit of this. Understand?

(FATHER exits. NANNY lifts the book effortlessly and advances on JOHN)

JOHN: Oh, crap, it's you.
NANNY: Shut UP, kid.

(NANNY turns and thrusts the book into the BODY's arms, which falls over and lies helplessly trapped underneath it. NANNY scowls and exits)

JOHN: Right. (waits until she's gone) ....don't like her much. (pauses) There's something wrong here. All these things I'm trying to say just aren't getting through to anyone (shoots a look at the BODY, which has a pleading expression on its face) Get out of it yourself. It's a little late to be begging for a collaborative effort now...what exactly am I trying to say? I don't know...where was I? Where am I? I think I'm aware, but am I? Maybe it's just me, because none of these other people seem too worried. This is strange...it's as if they're reacting to a me that's not even here. I wouldn't mind resting for a moment...(starts to sit down)

(MOTHER and FATHER enter)

MOM: Let me fix your hair, darling...(breaks down sobbing) My baby's leaving! My baby's leaving!
DAD: Get control of yourself, dear.
MOM: Sorry, Andrew. (produces handkerchief from purse, wipes face)
DAD: (points at the book; the NANNY appears and carries it off. the BODY nervously rises) Now John, you've had your time for all that kiddy-fun. It's time to go become a real man now. You're on your way to the most prestigious kindergarten that money can buy, and I expect nothing short of true scholardom from you while you're there.
DAD: The Witherspoon name is one of honor and presitge. The legacy of many generations of proud scholars rests on your shoulders, son. You wouldn't want to let them down, would you?
JOHN: I guess not, but...

(both JOHN and BODY look up in intimidated awe at booming VOICES)

VOICE: Rhodes Scholar!
VOICE: Fellowship at Cambridge!
VOICE: Professor Emeritus at Harvard!
VOICE: Department chair at Oxford!
VOICE: Benedictine monk of St. Anselm's Abbey!
VOICE: Well, every family's bound to have a nut or two.
VOICE: Two Pulitzer Prizes!
VOICE: Three PhD's!
VOICE: Eighteen Nobel Peace Prizes!
VOICE: Thirty-five million dollars!
VOICE: The entirety of Greenland!
VOICE: Heute die Welt, morgen das Sonnersystem!
VOICE: Wahoo!
DAD: You see, son? There's a lot to be done.
MOM: There's a wrinkle in your pants, dear! Oh, please don't hate me I tried my best oh no oh no...
DAD: Susan.
MOM: Yes, Andrew. (produces pills from purse, swallows two)
DAD: Are you ready, son? (JOHN starts to speak, FATHER interrupts) Of course you are. You send my best to old Thatchbury, you hear? Make sure he knows you're a Witherspoon. Make sure they all know!
JOHN: What exactly is a Witherspoon? I mean, what does what all those other people did have to do with me? I don't feel like a Witherspoon, whatever one is...I don't feel like much anything, actually.
DAD: We're off now. Hurry up with your childhood, son. We'll be back in a decade or so.

(PARENTS exit; JOHN and the BODY are alone )

JOHN: I'd scream "Wait!" or "Hold on!" but somehow I don't think it'll do any good.


(to BODY)
We are in this together, aren't we? People see you and they react to you. No matter what I say or do, they just see whatever it is that you're presenting. And you really couldn't care less, could you? (BODY shrugs) Or maybe you don't know how. I don't know. Feels like just a moment ago that we were "born". And it was, actually, now that I think about it, but everyone else has changed. Am I supposed to have? They act like all this time passed but I don't think it has, I don't remember a...

(what follows is an explosion of sight and sound. several VOICES scream incoherent phrases, bits of music fade loudly in and out, lights flash, etc. JOHN is stunned, the BODY continues its look of vague paranoia. After it is over, NURSE enters)

NANNY: Get it, kid?
JOHN: (surprised but at the same time understanding) Yes.
NANNY: No, you don't. Now go away. (exits)

JOHN: (after composing himself) And when the walls come down and many years ensue...


I'm missing something. I feel like I should love those people, like there's some sort of attachment that is supposed to mean something to me, but I don't. I can't lie to myself. They're just people, no more than any others. What am I doing wrong? I want to love them, I want that closeness, but it's just not there. It's just as cold as it ever was. How can I create something from which there is nothing? Someone pulled it off with me, I guess, but apparently they left a part out. No feeling, no change, no consistency, nothing to hold me...this is life. This is a life. This is my life. Is it my life, though? Every time I think I'm beginning to understand what life means it disappears, and the only thing that remains is this darkness...


(to the BODY)
This has to mean something. There has to be some trick somewhere...it's a game, and the rules are that you (pointing at the BODY) can't go anywhere, and I can go anywhere but it doesn't seem to have the slightest effect on what happens. I mean... (runs to a dark corner of the stage) I can see anything... (light goes up in corner to reveal HULA DANCERS) and follow it in any direction... (a GORILLA chases the DANCERS off) but I can't believe in it. (JOHN reaches for the GORILLA, which steps back)

GORILLA: Christ, you think too much. Why don't you go outside and run and jump? (leaves)
JOHN: Yeah. Here. Hereinmyhead, all these moments are going by. The sum of a life, it should add up to me but it doesn't. I can't feel any of this. There's no connection between me and this time going by. Just a void....just empty spaces.


"I am". That's what it all started with. "I am". Am I? Am I really? With nothing but confusion to mark my days, can it really be said that I am? The only thing I know for sure...
(pauses, looks around, thinks)
I dress funny.
(pauses, trying to think of something else to say)
Here I am. I can't see anything much. Is it supposed to be like this? Is there anywhere else?
Why am I here?

(Jeers and hissing from offstage)

JOHN: Huh?....who are you?....(quickly) Who am I?

(louder boos from offstage)

JOHN: (unnerved) Um, er, right, ah, sorry, um, so, ah, is there something I'm supposed to be doing? Like any purpose I'm supposed to fulfill? And what comes next? Are we....

(Unseen figures throw things at the BODY, which meekly starts trying to dodge
after being hit a few times while giving JOHN a dirty look)

JOHN: Okay. We could talk about something else. Hmm....ahh...let's talk about....(pauses, looks around) ...french cuisine? (pauses as if surprised with himself) Okay, I'd like to talk about French cuisine for a moment.

(Offstage voices murmur approval. JOHN smiles, encouraged)

JOHN: It's a bit unpredictable, you know? No way to tell for sure what they're giving you.
VOICE: I went to France once with my family, but I hated the food. They made it wrong! Everything was too spicy. They must not know how to cook over there, the food didn't taste a thing like my mother's. Good thing there were a few McDonalds' restaurants.
VOICE: Nothing like good old American cookin', huh?

(next few voices begin talking each coming in about halfway through the
first one's speech, the last fading by the end)

VOICE: I don't understand why they have to be different. It's so disgusting, and besides the way things are is just fine, why do people have to change it
VOICE: You know, it's very interesting to be exposed to other cultures, but I sure wouldn't want to live there! Heh, heh, heh
VOICE: Grease, grease, that's all American food is. You need real culture, like some of that European stuff. I don't really get it but I figure it must be better because
VOICE: Hand on monkey paw winding through red hotel fearless queerless placement left up to you to down the raising in the sun day nice isn't
VOICE: ending neverending never ending nev erending n everending neve rending ding ding dong drink drip neveren ndi yod hameth here he cometh

(while they speak JOHN makes a few feints at the BODY,
trying to get its attention, but does not succeed)

JOHN: Now can we talk about something that matters? Like why we're here?
VOICE: Quit talking nonsense.
JOHN: Talking nonsense??? I'm trying to make sense of it all! Don't tell me you don't see? The darkness?


JOHN: Doesn't it bother you that we're all isolated from each other? Don't you want to get past that? Why aren't I feeling anything? Is there something I'm missing? Teach me that! Teach me what I'm missing!
LARGE VOICE: (authoritative) Time for math. Now, the formula on page 486 can be applied in many different directions, all of which are crucial to your future and will result in a hollow and empty life if left unmemorized.

(JOHN and the BODY watch in distressed wonderment while the
LARGE VOICE and assorted young SMALL VOICES speak from all around)

SMALL VOICE: I don't understand!
LARGE VOICE: You're obviously flawed then, aren't you? Goodbye.

(SMALL VOICES scream as they are taken away, one by one)

SV: I understand!
LV: Imperious little bastard. I'll show you how little you know.
SV: I need help!
LV: There's no room in academia for the weak. Have fun amongst the inferiors.
SV: When do we get to write our own poetry?
LV: (rage rising) Have you the audacity to believe that your shitty little mind can compare with the masterworks of ages past? Out with you before I rip your miserable fucking throat out!
SV: Why am I here?
LV: If it isn't apparent, you dim-witted little asshole, then you're obviously not fit to be here. (screams) Anybody else? (pauses) No? Good. (calm) This is your future, your present, the sum of your past. You must sacrifice your present in order to have a future and you must continue to do that for all your presents. Do you understand?
SVs: Yes.
LV: Good. Now, let us turn to the discourses of Dryden. An example of his wit can be found in the way (fading) he cleverly contrasts a shoe with a prominent socialite of the time...
JOHN:...no. I don't believe that. No!
I....you...um...uh...I may not have anything to say at the moment, but just you wait....

(BODY dodges as a dictionary is flung from the darkness)

JOHN: Ah. (picks it up, sits down to read it)
Allusion....awful.....boring.....crap.....Fabio......fascist, yeah, that's it.
(looks up, screams in the direction that the voices had been coming from)
I like where I am! By myself! I didn't want to be part of your fascist little bourgeoise exclusivist clique! I don't need you!

(silence from offstage)

JOHN: Your petty feelings of superiority shall be your downfall! You're only going to die from your own arrogance!

(more silence)

JOHN: You suck!
VOICE: Oh, yeah? Kiss my ass!
JOHN: Bite me!
VOICE: Suck me raw NOW!
JOHN: Shut up!
VOICE: You run like a fag!
JOHN: You've never seen me run before!
VOICE: That just proves my point.
JOHN: How so?
VOICE: Your mom!
JOHN: What?
VOICE: Look, I really can't spell this out any more clearly for you.
JOHN: My mom? What about my mom?
VOICE: No, no, you don't understand. (with gusto) Your mom!
JOHN: Uh.....your dad?
VOICE: Oh, give it up. I've already won.
JOHN: How? How did you win?
VOICE: Go get your navel pierced or something. You're just jealous of my wit.
JOHN: Your wit?
VOICE: You're not adding anything new or interesting to this conversation. I'm leaving.
JOHN: Wait!
Are you there?
(singing softly)
Wondering and dreaming, words have different meanings.....(stops)
I don't remember anything before this, anything except this. Me and a patch of light. Me, there's that. Things have to change, don't they?
VOICE: No, why should they?
JOHN: Because...(struggling) that's the way things ARE, don't you see? We live, so we change. It's like that. Or shouldn't it be?
VOICE: Of course you change, that's life.
JOHN: But you said....
VOICE: How 'bout this weather, eh?
JOHN: What weather?
VOICE: Hah hah, yeah, know what ya mean ol' buddy! When will it ever warm up, eh?
JOHN: "ol' buddy"? Who are you? I don't bloody know you! How can you be my "ol' buddy"?
VOICE: What's your problem?
JOHN: What isn't?
VOICE: Why are you acting so strange?
VOICE: Boy, you're just out to alienate everybody who cares about you, huh? You rotten jerk.
JOHN: I'm not angry, I'm LOST! I'm tired! I'm......(looks around) apparently not being listened to. (sinks to his knees, exhausted) Hello? Hello? Hello.....

(a BIBLE is flung from offstage a'la the dictionary)

JOHN: (mock serious voice) And if it weren't for the bullet in my pocket, that Bible would have pierced my heart. (picks up BIBLE, flips through it) I don't get it. What's your point?
VOICE: You just watch yourself or you'll burn in hell for comments like that.
JOHN: (glancing tiredly around) How could hell be any worse?
VOICE: You don't know how good you have it.
JOHN: Apparently, I don't. How foolish of me. Why don't you enlighten me?
VOICE: Well, if you'll open the Good Book there, you'll find that Jesus died for your sins.
JOHN: My sins? What did I do?
VOICE: You're an evil person. We all are.
JOHN: What did I do wrong? I'm just trying to figure out where I am, who I am. What did I do that was evil?
VOICE: No, no, you ARE evil, deep down. That is your sin.
JOHN: I sinned because I am? Bloody lot of sense THAT makes.
VOICE: Jesus saved you, don't you see?
JOHN: (again looking around) I've been saved?
VOICE: Yes, Jesus died so that you may live.
JOHN: This is salvation? A dark world? Confused, alone, lost, empty, angry, and spaced?
VOICE: I weep for you. Why do you reject the Lord?
JOHN: (exhausted) I don't remember rejecting anything. If you have light, shine it on me, I'd love it. I really honestly don't know what's going on. I'm just....here....
VOICE: Why must you choose the path of the devil?
JOHN: Damn it! I haven't chosen anything! I'm just trying to understand! What do you
want me to do, pretend that I'm happy? I'm just living and feeling and....look, if any rejecting occured here it sure as hell wasn't me doing the rejecting, it was the other way around.
VOICE: (shocked silence) I will pray for you.
JOHN: Oh, good.
VOICE: Dear Merciful Lord, please bring spiritual contentment and docility to this misguided soul.
JOHN: Couldn't you pray for something I need? Like something to eat. Or a space heater.
Thought so. What do I believe in? I'd be open to suggestions, I guess. But I'm tired of being told that I should just know. Because I don't. And there is no glory to confusion, no great wisdom there. It is not a path to an end, it's just a whole lot of emptiness. (to BODY) What do you believe in?
BODY: (after a moment) Protein.
JOHN: (surprised to hear BODY speak) Well, that's just...just the kind of thing that holy wars are fought over. (BODY shrugs) I don't see why I'm necessary at all here. You have your protein, they have their dogma, and all I have is ten miles that separate me from everyone else. You're all they're interested in, as long as you're there for the show...three cheers for naivete. How about it, then? (advances on BODY) You want me gone? Huh?

(MOTHER and FATHER enter)

DAD: Well, son, you've done it. You're a real man now.
JOHN: Should I even ask?
MOM: (gushing) My darling college graduate!
JOHN: What are you talking about? I've been right here the entire time! I haven't graduated from anyth--

(a PROFESSOR enters, in robes, with diploma in hand)

PROF: For meritorious honorability, I present John Witherspoon this diploma, graduating with awards for commendability...

(PROFESSOR skips off. JOHN is left with the diploma in hand)

JOHN: Oh, that...was that me? I mean, I look back and the memories are there, but I never was...or...can't really tell anymore...(genuinely tired) It didn't happen, I think, but then I have all these pictures in my mind of the way it was and everyone seems to think...my own life on a screen in front of me. I mean, what did I accomplish? I was just here, mostly...
MOM: My baby boy knows it all now!
JOHN: I do? All I remember is...kind of blank...were there answers back there that I missed? When? I know I was looking...wasn't I?
MOM: (breaks down crying) I love you and you're so big my baby my baby...
DAD: (turns to MOTHER, slightly contempuous yet bored look on his face) Pills, dear.

(MOTHER takes bottle of pills from her purse, downs
the entire thing with a swig of liquor, and quiets down)

DAD: Nurse!

(NANNY enters, JOHN cringes slightly)

NANNY: Yes, sir?
DAD: Take Mrs. Witherspoon home to bed, will you? We'll follow as soon as we have a good "man-to-man" talk. (knowing look at BODY, which shrugs)
NANNY: Yes sir. (pointled glare at JOHN, leaves)

(FATHER circles around the BODY during the talk;
JOHN circles around the FATHER responding)

DAD: Really showed all of 'em what the Witherspoons are made of, son. We're true scholars right down to the bone.
JOHN: Are we?
DAD: The best of the best.
JOHN: Then why does it seem like nothing that matters ever makes sense?
DAD: It doesn't stop here, though!
JOHN: What?
DAD: Princeton's next! Going to show the stuffed shirts there a thing or two!
JOHN: Why? Where is this getting us?
DAD: (now facing off into space) That bastard Rossdale...I'll show him. And his fatuous little Yale-bound son! Tenure, feh. That isn't everything, you ignoramus! It isn't over yet, damn you!
JOHN: (voice rising) I really don't matter to you, do I? You don't need me. You just need someone who has the same last name as you do so you can try it all over again, the same boring cycle of meaningless prestige that you ran through when you were a kid, and it was empty then and it's still empty now! You've got all those fucking awards but you're still hollow inside and you don't know why and you're too damn stupid to realize that getting more awards isn't going to make you happy! You don't have a soul and you're trying to take mine away from me. I'm tired of bastards like you and all your friends deciding how life is supposed to go because you don't know! You don't know at all! You've got all these degrees and you don't know anything! All you know is what you did and it was all fucking meaningless then and it is now and I don't have anywhere else to go because now I know what life is, it's being trapped...I have no interest in these fucking games, any of this shit.

(JOHN is shaking with rage. BODY is vaguely distressed throughout
but seems to have no idea how to react to any of this)

DAD: (turns back to face JOHN with a satisfied look) Yeah, we're going to get 'em, son. We're going to show them. Right?
JOHN: (screams in pain)
DAD: Right, son?
JOHN: (face down, darkly) Right, Dad. We are.

(DAD leaves. After a few moments JOHN looks up and speaks, exhasution in his voice)

JOHN: Here where I stand at the turning of my years...I can't do this. There's too many of them, it's too much...I mean, I know, but it's all so...it's like no means yes but then it doesn't always and I don't even know what I'm saying, it's like no one's even hearing but they are, they're seeing something, I don't know what it is, but it keeps them content, this whatever, what they think they're hearing me say and what they're seeing and who's to say I'm more real than what they're seeing because...I mean...I'm the only one who believes that I am me and how do I really know that I am me, everyone else seems to think otherwise and maybe they're right...
VOICE: If you're so clever
VOICE: If you've got it all figured out
VOICE: If you're so much better than everyone else
VOICES: (together) Why can't you sleep at night?
JOHN: Why? Why indeed.
Fuck it. It's over.
(looks around)
(screams at the BODY)
It's OVER! FUCK YOU! FUCKING FEEL SOMETHING! QUIT LEAVING ME HANGING OUT HERE! Fuck it. I'm out here just waiting for some sort of connection, something to make me feel real, and you FUCKING STAND THERE with your DUMB SHIT blithe expression reacting to everything in such a GODDAMN half-assed manner because that's ALL YOU KNOW HOW TO DO and meanwhile I'm...
(finally with deep resignation, weakness)

(JOHN's spotlight disappears, he stalks offstage. Characters begin to come and go at an especially rapid rate - official-looking people patting the BODY on the back, MOTHER and FATHER passing by waving, people making gestures, a low murmur, a wedding featuring the MINISTER and JOHN's WIFE; all sorts of things meant to simulate a rapid passage through the years. At the end of the sequence, JOHN's WIFE appears, bringing with her a chair at which she sits as if at a kitchen table. JOHN's SON also sits, silently shoving food into his mouth. Action then abruptly and without warning stops suddenly; the BODY is henceforth referred to as JOHN)

WIFE: John?
(he does not respond)
WIFE: John! I'm speaking to you.
JOHN: (startled) Um?
WIFE: Head in the clouds again, dear?
JOHN: I suppose so.
WIFE: You'll find nothing useful up there.
JOHN: (shrugs) Nothing so far.
WIFE: Good, dear. Will you be handing in your paper today, then?
JOHN: Paper...um...(looks around as if expecting other JOHN to speak for him)
Very well, I think.
WIFE: That's good. Darlene Rossdale said that Jack is quite confident about his. They're talking about Nobel Prize material, you know.
JOHN: Oh...are they? Hm. Well.
WIFE: But that's not going to happen, is it?
JOHN: It's not?
WIFE: Because they won the last three major awards, that's why! I will not be embarassed like this!
JOHN: You won't?
WIFE: Good, we're together on this then. (voice rising) Because I didn't marry some fucking associate, I married a future emeritus. Or was I mistaken?
JOHN: Not as far as I can tell.
WIFE: (calm) You should be getting off to work now, dear. Have a productive day.

(WIFE and SON walk offstage, taking chairs with them as three PROFESSORS walk on.
The effect aimed for is that they are on a line together)

JOHN: Love? Is that...
PROF1: A probing question worthy of Shakespeare.
PROF2: Excepting his habit of speaking in iambic pentameter, that is.
PROF3: But staying very true to his proclivity towards rhetorical questions.
JOHN: ...absolutely.
PROF1: Ah, a brilliant transition.
PROF2: Indicative of a Romantic yearning for spiritual resolution.
PROF3: Good, very good. You ought to write something on the topic, John.
JOHN: I might do that.
PROF1: Will you be in attendance at the thesis review session later, Professor Witherspoon?
JOHN: Do you want me to be there?
PROF2: Well, Professor Rossdale is busy, you know.
JOHN: Oh. Well, alright then...
PROF1: Always so cooperative. The sign of a true academic.
PROF3: Admirable. A real team player.
PROF2: (aside to other PROFESSORS) Gullible little twat.
PROF1: (also aside) That's why he's actually teaching a class this semester.
PROF3: (also aside) But I'm teaching 210 right now.
PROF1: (aside) That's different.
PROF2: (aside) Of course it is.
PROF1: Good luck with the new crop of undergrads, Professor Witherspoon.

PROF2: Yes, we're counting on you to whip them into shape.
PROF3: See you around, Professor Witherspoon.

(PROFESSORS leave; PROFESSOR ROSSDALE follows them onstage,
making ludicrous gestures at JOHN which JOHN ignores.
three STUDENTS w/desks then enter in same fashion)

JOHN: PhD or no, that man is an idiot.
STUDENT 2: Could you please slow down, sir? I don't have my notebook open yet.
STUDENT 1: Are we gonna be tested on this?
STUDENT 3: I see, you're trying to draw a contrast between empirical education and the intuitive knowledge of nature expressed by the Romantic poets.
JOHN: No, I'm not. Where did you get that from?
STUDENT 1: (slaps back of 3's head) Out of his ass.
STUDENT 2: I'm sorry, sir, could you repeat the part about where he got it from?
JOHN: No...um, close your notebooks. This is not test material. (1 leans back and goes to sleep; 2 looks perplexed; 3 whips out a Calculus book and begins reading that) Hi, I'm
John Witherspoon. Or so I'm told.
STUDENT 2: Told by who?
STUDENT 3: By the concrete world. His lack of personal identity is created by his continued longing for the wonderment of his youth.
STUDENT 1: Shut up, you got that out of a book.
STUDENT 3: So what is I did? That's where truth is.
STUDENT 1: Truth is that I can kick your scrawny ass.
STUDENT 2: Sir, I don't see how this applies towards literature.
JOHN: It doesn't. And it does, it's the whole point.
Tell me, why did you take this class?
STUDENT 2: I want to become a better person so I can get a good job when I graduate.
STUDENT 3: I took it because it's required for the major. I only have three majors right now.
STUDENT 1: Hey, fuck it man, I don't have to jump through your administrative hoops! I don't need your approval! Fuck the system! I'm gonna go smoke some pot.

(STUDENT 1 stands up, walks off for a moment as all the others stare
after him, and returns wearing a slightly different outfit)

JOHN: Didn't you just leave this class?
STUDENT 1: No, man, I just got here! Damn, man, we're all numbers to you fat cats! I don't need to take this! I'm leaving!

(STUDENT 1 leaves and same routine as before occurs)

STUDENT 1: Hey, Prof. By the way, I ain't sorry 'cause I was late.
JOHN: ...right. Okay. Moving along: what do you really want to get out of this class? I mean, imagine that the best thing possible happens before you leave. What is that thing?
STUDENT 2: I don't understand. If we're going to be tested on this, could you run that by me again? I really don't see what you're getting at.
STUDENT 3: I could use an A. That would bolster my GPA.
STUDENT 1: I don't know, teach, ya got any drugs? That would make this class pretty cool! (snickers)
JOHN: Why? Why do you want drugs?
STUDENT 1: You're gonna throw me out of school like the other fascists! I knew it!
JOHN: No, I really couldn't care less whether or not you do drugs. I just want to know why you do them.
STUDENT 1: I don't have to live in your system! I want to free my mind, old man! See all the things that you and the rest of the Institution are afraid to see!
JOHN: In order to free your mind, you have to find it first.
STUDENT 1: Man, you're gonna kick me out because you don't understand me!
JOHN: No, I'm not. But what the hell makes you think you're rebelling against anything by getting shit-faced drunk? How are you challenging any "system" by getting high and making yourself into an idiot?
STUDENT 1: You old bastard! You're the past and I'm the future, know that? You can force me to leave and silence me here but someday it's all gonna come down, and your bureaucracy-kissing ass is...
JOHN: (interrupts) Oh, shut up. Just leave.
STUDENT 1: I knew it! (leaves, returns as before)
JOHN: Hi. (STUDENT 1 gives look of disdain) Alright. Today we will review Blake. Has anyone...

(bell rings, class leaves, with their desks)

STUDENT 2: (as she leaves) I really learned a lot today, Professor Witherspoon.
JOHN: (sigh) I didn't teach anything. If I'm not giving anything and they think they're getting something, what exactly is it that's happening here?

(PROFESSOR ROSSDALE runs by again, making more absurd gestures
and bodily contortions, all meant to convey a superior attitude)

JOHN: I'm supposed to be jealous of him?

(A GORILLA enters)

GORILLA: Yes, but since when have the attitudes that society expects you to have ever meant anything to you?
JOHN: Huh. Good point.
GORILLA: I think it's quite obvious that you spend far too much time focusing on how you feel that you are supposed to feel, and not enough time in genuine reaction to them. Since those expectations come from external sources, there is absolutely no reason that you should bear any fealty to them.
JOHN: Hey, thanks.
GORILLA: Think nothing of it. (exits)

(PROFESSOR 1 runs onstage, panicked)

PROF1: We've got to evacuate! An ape escaped from the zoo and is rampaging through the building!
JOHN: Okay, I'll be right out.

(PROFESSOR 1 runs offstage, JOHN's WIFE and SON appear)

WIFE: Hello, dear. Did you have a good day at work?
JOHN: Ah, just fine.

(all stage lights except spotlight around JOHN
go down for a moment and then come back up)

WIFE: Hello, dear. Did you have a good day at work?
JOHN: (pauses, slightly confused, then shrugs) Absolutely great. Really taught those kids a thing or two.

(same light fall/rise as before)

WIFE: Hello, dear. Did you have a good day at work?
JOHN: I killed a man with my bare hands once.

(same light fall/rise)

WIFE: Hello, dear. Did you have a good day at work?
JOHN: What's for dinner?
WIFE: Filet mignon, I think.
JOHN: Oh, good.
WIFE: With red wine.
JOHN: Now that's a reason to live. (shrugs) And how are you today, son?
SON: (without looking up) I'm hungry.
JOHN: Are you alright?
SON: (stops eating suddenly, starts crying) I'm fine! I'm not fat!
JOHN: No, no, of course you're not. I'm just asking...do you ever feel alone? Isolated Detached from your own life?
SON: (confused) What?
JOHN: Do you ever feel like your mother and I aren't connecting with you? Like we're living our lives somewhere away from you and you're being ignored? Do you ever feel empty?
SON: (derisive) Dad, I'm just hungry. Geez. You're so weird. (rolls eyes)
JOHN: (shrugs) Huh. (sighs) So it is just me. Kind of figured.
WIFE: Did you hand in your paper today?
JOHN: (pauses, thinking) Hm. Yeah, I guess I did.
WIFE: And what did you write on, dear?
JOHN: Robert Browning.
WIFE: Oh, he was a bit dark for my tastes. I think Wordsworth's odes are just beautiful. The nature imagery! The...
JOHN: You hear exactly what you want to hear. You reconstruct what I say and do in order to fit it safely into your pre-formed conception of the world. Our relationship is just a series of lines that must be crossed and flags that must be picked up. The course is already set out for us, all that is left is to follow it as closely as possible.
WIFE: But then Dickens is just fabulous also.
JOHN: Feh.

(WIFE exits, PROFESSOR ROSSDALE follows her onstage
doing his usual routine; PROFESSOR 3 then enters)

PROF3: Nervous about the big day, Professor Witherspoon? There is only one spot available, after all...it's down to just you and Rossdale for the seat now.
JOHN: Sure. See that stain on my pants? That's how nervous I am.
PROF3: I know how that is!

(PROFESSOR 3 exits, STUDENTS enter)

JOHN: (looking after him) No, you don't. Or at least I hope you don't, because I was kidding.
STUDENT 2: Sir, could I please ask you a question about the last lecture?
JOHN: Go right ahead.
STUDENT 2: Which stage of Freudian development did you link Manfred's defiance with?
JOHN: None of them. Byron was dead before Freud was even born.
STUDENT 2: I'm sorry, sir, which stage of Freudian development did you say that Manfred's defiance is indicative of?
JOHN: Look, I...
STUDENT 1: (arrogantly) Enough with this crap. I've got something to say.
JOHN: Aren't you the unique one.

(STUDENT 1 doesn't react; JOHN waits a moment and then continues)

JOHN: (sighs) Go right ahead.
STUDENT 1: (with bravado) The whole Church is bullshit! God is dead!

(other STUDENTS gasp; JOHN looks bored)

JOHN: Did you come up with that? All by yourself, then? Stunning.
STUDENT 1: And so you and the Institution can go to HELL!
STUDENT 3: Wow! He's a rebel!
STUDENT 2: He's really sticking it to the Man!
JOHN: (to STUDENT 1) How do you figure?
STUDENT 1: God is fake, 'cause he's supposed to care and stuff....but if God cares, why do people die? See? Your God doesn't exist, old man!
JOHN: You know, judging by the state of things in this world I'm more worried that God does exist.

(STUDENT 1 remains smug as if he has proved something)

JOHN: What makes you so confident that if there is a God, it has any interest whatsoever in you? Because you sure don't hold my attention very well. What makes you think that this cosmic entity really cares about your drug-fueled meandering?

(STUDENT 1 remains smug)

JOHN: Oh, fine. (very bored voice) How dare you blaspheme. Get out of this class. Leave now. Blah blah blah blah. Go be a martyr for the idiot factions.
STUDENT 1: I'm an artist!

(STUDENT 1 leaves in triumph, returns as new)

JOHN: I'm lecturing to a void, aren't I? A sea of empty faces.
STUDENT 3: (to STUDENT 2) No, no, the golden bowl and silver rod are sexual symbols.
JOHN: You're all here because you think you have to be. Because that's what you've been told.
STUDENT 2: (to STUDENT 3) But isn't sex an act of Experience, something which Thel cannot comprehend?
JOHN: Hell, you all act like you're alive just because you don't have anything better to do.
STUDENT 3: (to 2) Well, consider the other images that Blake uses throughout the poem.
JOHN: Stop talking about these poems as if they're about some ancient, far-off creature! They're about our condition, here and now! Either they're true to us now, they are true about something that we were, or they're crap. But they're not edicts that must be bowed down to!
STUDENT 2: (to 3) Mm, the image of childbirth. In ten years I'll be married to an alcoholic accountant and I'll sacrifice my dreams for his sake and the sake of our children, who will ultimately be ungrateful and abandon me.
JOHN: Live your own lives! Feel your own pain! Your life is as valid as any other throughout history if you'll just start living it!
STUDENT 3: (to 2) Exactly, but mustn't the strong images of mortality be considered? For example, in five years I'll shoot myself in the head because I'll be unable to pay off my student loans or get a high-paying job.
JOHN: (sighs) Class dismissed. Christ. According to the department you've earned an 'A', but you still haven't really learned anything. And there's nothing I can really do, is there? I'm interchangeable with any other schmuck in a suit. We're all just idle points on each others' maps.

(STUDENTS begin to exit, THREE lingers for a moment)

STUDENT 3: By the way, sir, now that I have received my 'A', I feel compelled to say that I thorougly disagree with your interpretation of the future of the couple in "Alastor". I don't think it relevant at all to talk about their future - all that we should be concerned with is right there in the poem.
JOHN: Really? You'll make a fine professor some day.
STUDENT 3: Thank you, sir. (exits)
JOHN: And not much of a human being.

(GORILLA enters, being chased by two SOLDIERS with guns)

JOHN: Hello there.


GORILLA: (weakly) Do you want the moon, John? I'll throw a lasso around her!
JOHN: If you find the moon, friend, keep her for yourself and go in peace.

(GORILLA dies, SOLDIERS carry his body off)

SOLDIER 1: Had to do it, sir.
SOLDIER 2: Threat to your sanity, he was.

(SOLDIERS exit; PROFESSORS enter, bringing with them a table and chairs
at which they then sit and proceed to begin reviewing stacks of paper)

PROF2: Hi, John. Ready to decide a few fates?
PROF3: Send a couple lives off down the road?
JOHN: (sitting down to join them) So much like gods, yet so much less than men.
PROF3: Hey, where is Professor Rossdale today?
(1 and 2 give him a pointed look)
PROF1: You idiot.
PROF2: (to JOHN) We didn't mean to break it to you like this.
PROF1: Don't take it the wrong way.
PROF2: Wordsworth just happens to be hotter than Browning right now.
PROF1: It could have gone either way.
PROF3: We'll leave you alone now.

(PROFESSORS move over to the right and act engrossed in papers
while speaking aside to each other as if JOHN can't hear)

PROF2: Poor man's future is destroyed.
PROF3: His wife is probably hitting the bottle pretty hard by now.
(a thought dawns upon PROFESSOR 3, he begins to look alarmed)
PROF2: If I were in his situation, I'd probably kill myself. But then I'd never be caught in his situation.
PROF1: Yes, he let Rossdale slip right by. No sense of competition.
PROF2: How could he not engage in a little backstabbing? This isn't just some kindergarten, this is higher education! The world of the elite and enlightened!
PROF1: The enlightened thing to do in this case would obviously have been to hire someone to replace Rossdale's paper with a box of donkey shit.
PROF2: Very clever! Has that certain...je ne sais quoi.
PROF3: (to himself, panicked) Oh dear God, where can I find a box of donkey shit at this hour? (runs off)
JOHN: You know, I'm still not convinced that I should really give a damn. In fact, I'm even less convinced. The approval of some damn committee isn't going to stop this alienation, this hopeless confusion. Why would they have the power to make me feel real? I can't do it for these poor idiots.

(a STUDENT enters)

PROF1: Proceed, Mr. Talbot.
GRAD1: My thesis is on the symbolic use of the cow in Victorian literature...

(things blur together; JOHN puts his head down, PROFESSORS nod,
STUDENTS smile or frown and then leave, later returning as if a new student;
as the last STUDENT exits, things abruptly return to normal speed)

JOHN: (sighs) Next.....

(BARNEY GOODLUCK, a student, stands before the thesis committee)

PROF 1: Now Mr. Goodluck, while we're reviewing our notes why don't you give us a brief summary of your ideas?
BARN: (eagerly) Alright! Well, I have to be honest with you guys: there is trouble in this world.
JOHN: (mutters) You don't say.
BARN: I've put a lot of thought into this one, because people are unhappy and it's time for somebody to do something about it! And we need a real solution here! Decisive action!
PROF 2: And what is it that you propose, Mr. Goodluck?
BARN: That it's time for the young generation to take a stand! That it's time for everyone....(dramatic pause) to love each other!
JOHN: What the....
BARN: I'm going to pass a law in Washington DC saying that everyone has to love each other! First America, then the world! And since everyone will love each other, no one will be unhappy anymore!
JOHN: Wait a minute....
PROF 1: Alright. We've finished reading your paper, Mr. Goodluck.
PROF 2: We must say it's rather lengthy. Four thousand eight hundred and thirty six pages is quite a bit of material.
BARN: Well, I had a lot to say.
JOHN: No, you....
PROF 1: Indeed.
PROF 2: Now you seem to be saying that the way of life of the average American would be changed positively if legislation concerning love were passed.
BARN: Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.
PROF 1: In all honesty, Mr. Goodluck, your paper is somewhat flawed.
PROF 2: There are certain holes in the logic.
PROF 1: And, to a degree, it's poorly written.
PROF2: The premise is somewhat absurd.
JOHN: That's a fucking understatement.
PROF2: It may, in a sense, rank amongst the worst pieces of academic writing I have ever had the misfortune to be forced to read.
BARN: So what are you implying? Don't hold back, don't beat around the bush! Tell me what you really think of my paper!
PROF 1: We have decided to pass you, please move along to your right.
JOHN: NO! It sucks! This whole thing sucks!
PROF 1: Professor Witherspoon...
JOHN: We are not passing this moron. Are you mad?!?!?
PROF 2: Professor Witherspoon, please....
JOHN: No, the kid wants honesty, I'll give him honesty! It sucks! Everything that comes out of this third-rate kindergarten sucks! (now directed more at the PROFESSORS than BARNEY) We never create real solutions! We're too busy postulating and observing and theorizing but we never do anything! We're always encouraging students to come up with these idiotic grand schemes because they'll never work, and we can keep the status quo. (now no specific focus) Don't you get it? We're here! Right now! We have to make a difference now or nothing will change! Things aren't going to get better unless we actually do something about them, and something intelligent at that. Your idiocy is submission to the forces you'd like to believe you're opposing. Stop complaining! It's not enough just to notice that something's wrong - you have to solve it! Yourself! Quit drily stating the flaws of the government like you're so much cleverer than anyone else - you ARE the government! You have power! You're right here! You're letting the moments of your lives pass in silent, pathetic resignation and you're not even living! You're not alive! You're a chess piece! You're waiting for some higher power to make things happen around you and you're not getting anywhere! Now is the time! Now!
BARN: I could leave. I mean, if you want me to.
PROF1: (surprised but quickly gathering his composure) What our esteemed colleague is trying to say, Mr. Goodluck, is that we can not in good conscience allow you to graduate from this university on the basis of this thesis paper today. (as PROFESSORS and BARNEY walk offstage, leaving JOHN alone) A few minor revisions, though....like that dangling participle on page 34, and.....

(There is a low, growing murmur of VOICES from offstage.
JOHN looks around hesitantly)

JOHN: Oh, hell. This is going nowhere. A group of people who've never really lived are telling me that my life is over. And I never noticed it begin. Feels like something I let go of...but how could I have let go, I can't remember ever having had hands...

(murmur grows after every word)

JOHN: It...I...once...
VOICE: This.
VOICE: Your.
VOICE: Life.
JOHN: Right...
Right now.

(the sound of waves is heard. the lighting now takes on a bluish tint)

JOHN: Mailman, bring me no more blues.
You can go to the edge - everyone always talks about that - but no one ever really says what happens next. And, you know, I don't think I will either. There's nothing to go back to. But I haven't really gone anywhere...spent as long as I can remember on the edge but unable to go over to either side. On the edge of what? I could shout, I could scream, but they're all just drops in the stream.
I am the Sea.

(there is a silence for a moment, and then a murmur of voices gradually begins to rise)

JOHN: (tired) Oh, no...no...oh, hell, there is nowhere you can go that they can't follow. nowhere. I am the sea and the pollution has come to me.

(almost every character enters and exits in a rapid blur, arriving right before their line and departing directly afterwards or circling around if they have another)

MINISTER: (stern) UNTIL DEATH DO YOU PART. Not suicide. Not complete and utter failure in front of the entire academic world. You're not going anywhere. Do you understand? These are the words of the Lord. Those were too. And so are these. Let us now bow our heads in prayer.
WIFE: Oh, good, you're better now. Don't be suicidally depressed about losing the award, John.
JOHN: I'm not.
WIFE: Save the suicidal depression card for later in your career, it'll hold more poignancy then.
PROF2: Nice presentation at the Shelley conference, John. And to think, they said you don't have the skills anymore!
PROF1: You may be a literary criticism superstar yet.
SON: (whining) Father, when will I get to go to Westerbury School? Professor Rossdale's son is already there, meeting all the best teachers! You're ruining my life!
JOHN: You want to go to Westerbury?
SON: It's not fair! Your father sent you there when you were young! You had a good, productive childhood! You were lucky! I want! I want!
MOM: Oh, son, your boy is so beautiful, thank you for giving me a grandchild. But surely you have time for eleven more or so?
JOHN: Does the world really need any more of him? (motioning off towards his SON)
MOM: (crying) Oh, I tried so hard to make everything perfect for you and now you don't love me because you only gave me one grandchild and I'm so far behind all of my friends all their walls are full of grandchildren and I can't even show my face at tea parties anymore...
WIFE: John, I'm pregnant!
JOHN: What?
STUD1: Hey, teach! You gave me a D- on this paper and I didn't even read the book! Ha Ha! I fooled you! I win!
STUD2: Sir, why aren't we having a sexual relationship? I'm an attractive young student and you're a noble college professor, aren't we supposed to be having an affair?
STUD3: Hey, teach! You gave me an A- on this paper and I'm still an inadequate human being unable to deal with my own life! Ha Ha! I fooled you! I win! (shoots self in head)
WIFE: John, it's a girl! We have a baby girl! Now I've got one all for myself!
DAD: Sorry, son, this one's gonna be useless. There's no place in the high-pressure world of academia for a girl. Try again with another kid, though!
SON: Father, I graduated with an award for commendability! Why aren't you happy for me? Your father was happy for you! I hate you! My entire career of writing critical studies of other people's work is going to be dedicated to how much I hate my father!
PROF2: Did you hear the news, John? Professor Rossdale was hiking in the mountains and his legs got crushed by a boulder!
PROF1: I hope you have an alibi! Heh! Heh! You sly dog.
PROF2: But it's making him more popular than ever! He's selling out stadiums across the country on his current "Wordsworth and the River of Youth" critical tour!
PROF1: Have you considered getting decapitated in a car accident, John? It could do wonders for your career. Sales would go through the roof.

(PROFESSOR ROSSDALE speeds past in a wheelchair, making bizarre contorted gestures as usual, surrounded by adoring HULA DANCERS)

BARN: (dressed in a red shirt and black pants, a bit older now) Sir?
JOHN: Yes?
BARN: I'm beginning to think you're right. About real solutions and all. I mean, maybe we shouldn't be relying on the government to save us and make us better people. Maybe we should take some personal responsibility and just love each other ourselves.

(SOLDIERS mow down BARNEY, start to carry his body off)

SOLDIER 1: Had to do it, sir.
SOLDIER 2: Threat to the American way, he was.
WIFE: John...
JOHN: (holding his face in his hands) In a moment you will leave me.
WIFE: John...
JOHN: In a moment you will come back to me.
WIFE: (silent)
JOHN: In a moment we will be locked together for the rest of our lives. In a moment we will be further apart than we ever have been.

(WIFE exits, JOHN is alone onstage)

JOHN: Why are any of us here? We're running around in each other's circles. Why did this world need to be created? One generation of human zombies would have been enough. The rest of us are just repetition.
And no one's going to answer my questions. Because no one can hear me, really hear me, and the Creator has fixed us so firmly into this design that he or she or it can't possibly have interest in us anymore. Why would it? Or lives are shaped and defined by cliches. Why couldn't my set of cliches have been about an English professor who inspires his students to new heights? Why not a musical number, a dance scene? Something, anything but self-awareness. And it'd all come out meaning the same, because there is no meaning anymore. Endless repetition has eroded it to nothing.
I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing here. I don't think the Creator knew what it was doing either. "And the Creator sees his own face in his creation, and never will he sleep again."
So that's it.
I am angry.
I am empty.
I am the Sea.
I am polluted.

(the voice of a very young girl speaks simultanously with JOHN)

I am here.
Nothing is here.
I am nothing.
I am alone.
I am cold.
I am?
Am I?

(JOHN looks over to the side of the stage, where a spotlight rises
and JOHN's DAUGHTER stands)

JOHN: Hello, Sarah.
DAUGHTER: Hello, father.
JOHN: How do you feel?
DAUGHTER: I'm...cold.
JOHN: Come here. (she does. he holds her close)
DAUGHTER: What's going on? I don't understand any of this. No one seems to hear me. All of the explanations that people keep telling me don't seem to make sense with what I see.
JOHN: Life is...
VOICE: A bitch!
VOICE: Naw, it's a box of chocolates, ya see...
VOICE: Screw you, you inbred idiot. Life is a tube of toothpaste.
VOICE: Life isn't anything. It's women. You can't live with 'em, you can't...
JOHN: (interrupts - addresses the VOICES) Shut up. Life just is. Do you hear me? Or is the emptiness of your voices too deafening?
Life is.
(pauses, turns attention back to DAUGHTER)
It's something where you hold on for as long as you can, even though it's an unbelievably hard thing to do most of the time. Even though sometimes you desperately want to, you can't let a title or a book or a desire or a group or a tradition or a religion live your life for you. You have live your own life. You have find someone else who can hear you so that you can tell them that you can hear them. And then you...
(hugs her, and then lets her go)
Fill in the blanks.

(lights off; stage goes dark)

empty spaces by Marc Heiden March 1997.
Barney Goodluck based on a character created by Rory Leahy.