sartre in ennui
(two cool cats wearing shades, a shirt and a tie stand on opposing sides of the stage. a jazz number might play underneath them. they speak quickly, rhythmically)
1: We need a movie.
2: A movie?
1: Yeah, a movie.
2: What kind of a movie?
1: It's got to be a popular one.
2: The kind people like.
2: What are they lookin' for in a movie?
2: With pizzazz.
1: You think?
1: Somethin' with a kick.
2: Somethin' that brings a smile.
1: And a tear.
1: And cryin'.
2: This movie's got it all.
1: All the pieces.
2: It's familiar.
2: Like the others.
1: Like the one they saw last week.
2: That one made 'em smile.
1: This one will too.
2: What do they like?
1: Check out the box office.
2: The critical notices.
1: War movies.
2: Battling it out.
1: Noble sacrifice.
2: Making things better.
1: There's a romance.
2: Got to be a romance.
1: Who's doing the romancing?
2: An author.
1: You think?
2: Yeah. They like authors.
1: The story of a writer.
2: Set against the backdrop of a war.
1: Love torn apart.
2: And put together again.
1: Who's the author?
2: They've done Shakespeare.
1: He was in love.
2: That he was.
1: Hemingway's been done too.
2: Who else do they like?
1: Depressed ones.
2: The kids go for sadness.
1: The French.
2: Save on set.
1: Low budget.
1: The choice is clear.
2: So we've got this cat Jean-Paul Sartre...
(SARTRE comes out on stage and sulks)
1: And we've got a war.
(an obviously looped sound effect of a battle starts up in the background)
2: World War II.
1: You know it.
2: Boy meets girl.
1: Tough times.
2: What do we call it?
1: Love's been done.
2: "Shakespeare In Love", for example.
1: But you know those existentialists.
2: Never happy.
1: That's why we'll call it...
2: "Sartre In Ennui".
(jazz cuts off. ANDRE enters. all from this point on have fiendishly terrible accents)
SARTRE: Andre, leave me. I am contemplating the tragic death of a child.
ANDRE: Did you know the child?
SARTRE: No. But he is out there somewhere, and someone has destroyed him. I know this because the world is unfair.
ANDRE: The war (the battle sound starts up) is hard on all of us.
SARTRE: Life is so absurd in the face of this war.
ANDRE: Jean-Paul, I need the play you promised me!
SARTRE: Feh. Plays bore me. Everything bores me.
ANDRE: I paid you last week and you have not given me a page!
SARTRE: You assault my inner being with your mercantile tongue.
ANDRE: The actors and actresses are waiting! We need to rehearse!
SARTRE: Your puppets can wait. I am feeling. Deeply.
ANDRE: Sartre, I will cut off your Gauloises! (GAL-wah: a stinky brand of cigarettes)
SARTRE: (pauses, sulks) Damn you.
ANDRE: I can't believe you. I paid you! "No Exit From the All-Anal Action" opens next week and you haven't written a page!
SARTRE: I hate you. I hope you die.
ANDRE: Get to work.
(ANDRE exits in a huff. ELISE enters)
ELISE: Jean-Paul, why do you sulk so?
SARTRE: Because I hate everything and it bores me.
ELISE: Wait, do you hate it or does it bore you?
SARTRE: You are so stupid.
ELISE: Sartre, I will take no more of your abuse!
SARTRE: Go then, silly woman.
(CAMUS enters. ELISE runs to him)
ELISE: I don't need you, Sartre! Camus is a better writer anyway!
CAMUS: Hello, babydoll. Let me lay you out. Sartre.
CAMUS: I have written a new novel. It is brilliant.
SARTRE: I don't like it.
CAMUS: You have not read it.
SARTRE: I know.
CAMUS: How is your work coming?
SARTRE: I am writing a play.
CAMUS: What is it called?
SARTRE: "No Exit From the All-Anal Action".
CAMUS: It is terrible.
SARTRE: Everything is terrible. This war (the battle sound starts up) is terrible.
CAMUS: So true. I am now going to have sex with your girlfriend.
SARTRE: I hate you.
(CAMUS and ELISE leave. ANDRE rushes back on)
ANDRE: Where is the play, Jean-Paul?
SARTRE: My soul has been spit upon by that vile woman.
ANDRE: What are you talking about?
SARTRE: Elise. She has left me for Camus.
ANDRE: Eh. Women, no?
ANDRE: I need the play!
SARTRE: Why do you vex me so?
ANDRE: Tonight, Jean-Paul! Tonight!
SARTRE: I hope you rot.
SARTRE: My soul is empty. I feel nothing. I will go to the cafe. Perhaps there I will feel something and I will write.
(CATHERINE enters. she has no accent)
SARTRE: Hello. I am Jean-Paul Sartre.
CATHERINE: Hello. I am Catherine.
SARTRE: I am depressed. Make love to me.
SARTRE: The war (the battle sound starts up again), it tears us apart. But we must be together now.
CATHERINE: Go away.
SARTRE: Damn you. Do you not find my misery to be sexy?
CATHERINE: Leave me.
SARTRE: (musing to self) I am madly in love with her. Her disinterest is so cruel. She is the perfect creature of God. I must have her.
CATHERINE: Hello, Dana.
DANA: Hello, Catherine.
(they embrace - kiss, even - and SARTRE is shocked)
SARTRE: She does not care for me because she is a lesbian! Oh! I am wounded. How can you do this to me, you cruel temptress?
DANA: I'm sorry, do I know you?
SARTRE: You toy with my emotions! Why? Why?
CATHERINE: He's been bothering me all afternoon. I'm going to call the cops.
DANA: Good idea. They should really crack down on these existentialists. They're a public nuisance.
SARTRE: Come back to me, my baby! Ah, to hell with you. I am depressed.
(the women leave. SARTRE immediately begins to write. ANDRE enters)
ANDRE: Do you have my play, Jean-Paul?
SARTRE: I am writing it!
ANDRE: Good! What is it about?
SARTRE: A lesbian and some other people go to hell!
ANDRE: What is it called?
SARTRE: The title is "No Exit" because they do not get out of hell, these cruel people.
ANDRE: What happened to the all-anal action?
SARTRE: I hate you.
(the jazz starts up again)
1: Do you think they'll dig it?
1: Maybe not.
2: We could always complete the "Weekend at Bernie's" trilogy.
1: That'a a sound idea, cat. A sound idea.
sartre in ennui by marc heiden february 1999