There was a time when I used to wake up and draw my dreams in a cartoon format. On Sunday I woke up and instead wrote a play based on a dream. I skipped coffee, eschewed my oatmeal standard and even stayed in my boxers as I frantically typed away so I wouldn’t forget the crazy details. Here’s what I did – please comment, this is my first play.
An Amazing Opportunity
By: Tom Griffen
Actor, Mr. Clark
Noxious, the Dog
(plus extras to fill the theater)
SCENE: In a small outdoor ‘theater,’ haphazardly composed of folding chairs and a stage made of pallets, a small crowd is getting seated with pens and notebooks in hand. Two men (characters Boss and Actor, Mr. Clark) stand near the stage and exhibit a quiet, yet obvious excited energy. A soft murmur rolls off the crowd until Boss moves to the stage with great enthusiasm.
BOSS: [An overweight man donned in a shabby suit and tie, ill-fitting, arms animated as he speaks.]
Thank you all for coming! Thank you, thank you! We’ve got a great opportunity for you today and I can’t wait to get started telling you about it. It’ll take barely a minute of your time and I am certain that for a few of you here today it’ll be life-changing. Such opportunities don’t come around so often!
[There’s a hint of chatter amongst the crowd as folks’ ears perk up and lean in closer to hear what the Boss is about to say]
I am here today looking for people who have something special. They might know they have it, they might not. Either way, it’s this quality that I hope to exploit and for two reasons. One, I want you to realize how amazing you are – and how unique your gifts can be for the world. Second, I’m not going to lie, I want to make a bunch of money, which will then make you a bunch of money too. It’s simple. I’m here hunting for amazing. Amazing people who do amazing things.
Now if this sounds strange or elusive or somewhat confusing I understand – and this is exactly why I’ve brought along a man skilled in the art of acting, a fantastically noble endeavor I might add, to present for you a typical day at my organization. No, this gentleman does not work for me beyond what you are about to see, but he has managed to channel his genuine amazingness into his day to day ~ exactly what coming on board with me will help you do! Oh my friends, life can be so much better than you realize, so much better than punching a clock day in and day out and for what? “For what,” is what you must ask yourself. What is it that makes you get up in the morning? If this, my good people, is contrary with what you are spending your time doing, well, my heartfelt condolences. You are en route to a wasted life. But I digress…without any further ado, I present to you my actor, Mr. Clark!
[The crowd isn’t sure whether to applaud the introduction and the clapping is scattered and weak at best. People in the crowd look at each other momentarily, but then to the Actor, Mr. Clark as he walks onto the stage. Actor, Mr. Clark walks slowly onto the stage and lifts his knees slightly higher than usual so as to not trip on the uneven pallet planks. He has a folding chair in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. The crowd notices his abnormal gait but it only makes them watch closer.]
ACTOR, MR. CLARK: [In an effort to illustrate his point, he moves to set his own scene before acting out the part the Boss has set up for the crowd. He sets his coffee on the ground, unfolds his chair, takes a seat, retrieves his coffee, and begins, employing a calculated, well-trained, “actor’s” voice with elan.]
Good afternoon. I am Mr. Clark and I am here to show you, rather than tell you, what you can expect from this fantastic employment opportunity. My motivation is that of an actor – nothing more. I am quite comfortable working with the natural outcomes of my performance so if you feel compelled to call out or respond at any time, please do so. It will only add to your experience. I will leave here satisfied having done my job – but you have an opportunity to enhance your take-away and that of those around you by eschewing your tendency to sit quietly. Speak up people. I implore you.
Our format here is simple and brief. I will speak the thoughts in my character’s mind as I settle into a typical day at work. You will be listening to my inner voice as I provide a play-by-play of events. For the sake of those who need more detail, let’s all assume that it’s Monday at 9 AM and I’ve just arrived at the office.
[He looks within the crowd for evidence of a need for his additional clarification, squints, then speaks.]
Alright then. Let’s begin.
[He settles into the chair and shakes his body in a way that implies he’s slipping into character. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes with a deep exhale. When his eyes open they are gazing above the crowd and he is smiling widely. His vocal pitch and cadence is now changed to a less formal and more jovial one. The crowd is obviously surprised by this transformation but their response is short-lived.]
Oh boy! I sure do love being able to wake up in the morning feeling energized and happy. Sure do. Nothing like those other jobs I’ve had. No sir! I get to wear what I want and show up when I want – with nobody concerned with me being “on time” [he does the air-quotes with his one free hand] or whatever. I just show up when I can and BAM – all is well!
I’m paid far more than I need and even have extra money to donate. I’ve always wanted to be able to donate to organizations I believe in. I’m an animal rights guy so I give to the local shelter. Gosh this sure makes me feel good. Giving and all. I’m starting to realize that giving is as much fun as getting – especially when I get my income from this great job!
CROWD #1: [With hesitation]
But what do you do?
[There are nods in the crowd]
ACTOR, MR. CLARK: [looks up knowingly, as if expecting this question.]
The most “doing” [again with the one-handed air-quotes] I do on a daily basis is getting here. The rest of the day is entirely up to me. The office places no expectations on me or my day and whatever I turn out is just fine. Just yesterday I read this great book I picked up at a garage sale – something about an Egyptian prince – I spent the whole day nosed into the story – even skipped my lunch break it was so good. I left around 5 o’clock, went home and made dinner. A few days before that I was a little upset by a conversation I had with my brother the previous evening so I moped around a bit until I felt good enough for a walk around the building. It was such a nice day I walked longer than usual – which made me feel a lot better so I stopped at a donut place and bought a dozen for the folks in the office. We all spent the next hour or so drinking coffee [he takes a sip of his coffee] and chatting. It was great! I got to know one of the new folks and now we’re going to jog together on Fridays. Man, I love my job!
CROWD #2: But wait – that doesn’t answer the question. What do you do at this job?
CROWD #1: Yeah [looking at CROWD #2], what sort of tasks do you do? What’s the business do?
ACTOR, MR. CLARK: [without missing a beat]
It’s such a treat to be allowed to do what I want to do. But I think the coolest part is doing it alongside people who are doing their things too. We are paid to be ourselves. Our honest selves. We are paid to wake up happy and follow our guts, our instincts. We are paid to be creative if we want to be, analytical if we want to be, whatever. We are allowed to exhibit any emotion we need to as long as it’s real. And they know – oh yes, they know if we are putting on an act. And if we are caught being dishonest with our emotions we are given a warning. They know this can be tough so we get a few chances. But if we keep on bringing our dishonest selves into the office they let us go.
CROWD #3: You get fired for being dishonest?
ACTOR, MR. CLARK: [seems to deliver his response directly to CROWD #3]
I’ve known a few to be asked to leave. Not everyone can handle it. Being honest with themselves and stuff.
[The crowd is transfixed by the revelation and everyone is staring at the ACTOR, MR. CLARK, waiting for him to say more – and when he does, it like a canned wrapping-up of sorts]
I’ve never been so productive in my entire life than since I started working here. It’s been a pleasure, a real pleasure and honor to have this opportunity. I can only hope that more folks give it a chance. It sure changed my life and I am quite sure it’ll change your’s [he emphasizes “your’s” and points to the crowd as he says it] too.
[ACTOR, MR. CLARK takes one more sip of his coffee, stands up, looks down at the pallet planks and begins high-step walking off the stage, his exit is interrupted by questions from the crowd – he stops as they speak]
CROWD #4: But what’s the catch? There’s got to be a catch!
CROWD #2: How can the business afford you? How does it make money to pay you?
CROWD #1: Yeah, I don’t get it? You just, I mean, what – you just show up and you get paid?
CROWD #2: I’ve never heard of such a thing!
CROWD #3: This is ridiculous – it sounds like a scam.
CROWD #4: Is this like a multi-leveled something or something? Sounds like a pyramid scheme to me!
CROWD #2: Is there a religious affiliation? Are you Mormons?
[Heads in the crowd nod, look back and forth at each other in their collective confusion. The grumblings grow louder as ACTOR, MR. CLARK turns toward the crowd, gives a bow, exits, and is promptly replaced by the BOSS who reenters with the same gusto as before]
BOSS: OK everyone, please quiet down, please quiet down. Thank you, thank you for coming today. I realize that this may sound strange but really, what you just saw is real – or at least a version of what’s real, anyhow. This is the position I am looking to fill – and this go ‘round I have 3 openings, all local. If you are interested please-
[the BOSS is interrupted by a very large, black, fluffy dog, who has run onto the stage and is sniffing the BOSS’ pants. The BOSS and the dog are obviously acquainted and the dog sits at his side, looking at the crowd with an open, panting mouth. The dog seems to be smiling. The BOSS addresses the dog.]
Well hiya Noxious! How are ya buddy!
[the BOSS pets the dog’s head and the dog leans toward him affectionately]
Thanks again for coming everyone – anyone interested should find me before leaving. I’ll be here for a while. Come meet my dog too – he’s a real joy!
[Folks begin to get up, some leave immediately, others stick around to see what everyone else is doing. One older woman, dressed in a purple pant suit, is taking some final notes in her notebook. As she finishes, she looks to the man still seated next to her and speaks]
OLDER WOMAN: I sure hope they don’t require us to work on Saturday afternoons – that’s when I go wine tasting. Did they mention anything about Saturdays? If so I missed it. I was trying to take it all down. I’d sure hate to miss my wine tastings.