J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing

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Orchard, The

(After Chekhov)
tagged : canadian
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Act One. Scene One.

The Okanagan Valley. Late April, 1974. The Basran's living room. MICHAEL is asleep. "A New World in the Morning" by Roger Whittaker is playing. BARBRA enters, tired from a bad night's sleep and months, years of hard work that is never enough. She goes into the other room.

NEWS ANNOUNCER: "News for the valley on Friday, April 25th, 1974. The spring regatta was a roaring success, with thousands of people descending on our beautiful valley. It was four days of sun, water and fireworks. And then there was this young man, who was on a serious hunt, for none other than the Ogopogo."

Meanwhile the phone rings in the other room, DONNA runs to pick it up. BARBRA comes back with chaa. She listens to the radio intently, checking the time and looking out the window.

LITTLE BOY: (Singing.) "I'm looking for the Ogopogo, The funny little Ogopogo. His mother was an earwig, his father was a whale, I'm going to put a little bit of salt on his tail."

NEWS ANNOUNCER: "In other news, it's been two years since Minister of Agriculture David Stupich pushed his Land Freeze Bill through the NDP majority house."

BARBRA turns up the radio.

"Farmers continue to kick back against the Land Freeze, as profits from family farms continue to decline year after year, with many farms falling into bankruptcy--"

BARBRA turns off the radio.

DONNA. Politics are so boring!

BARBRA. (Startled.) Donna! Jesus! Are you still up?

DONNA. Are you kidding?!

BARBRA. Yes, the big homecoming...

DONNA. Nothing to worry about after tonight. Not even this stupid frost.

BARBRA. Damn it, there's frost again?! God help us.

BARBRA starts putting on boots, looking out the window.

BARBRA. Can you tell Yebi to get the tractor ready.

BARBRA rushes out, slamming the door behind her. MICHAEL wakes with a start.

MICHAEL. Welcome home Lallie! (Realizes no one is there.) Oh. What time is it?

DONNA. Nearly 5am.

MICHAEL. My gawd.

DONNA. Gus called, they just got in.

MICHAEL. (Yawning.) That makes the Greyhound... (Checking watch.) Three hours late.

DONNA. I thought you'd left with everybody else. But then I found you here, sleeping like a bear.

MICHAEL. Why didn't you wake me?


MICHAEL. I came early to greet them from the station. Ah, look, my suit's all wrinkled.

DONNA. (Listening.) Is that the truck?

MICHAEL. Donna, it'll take at least fifteen minutes to get from the station, plus unloading and all that. Five years. I wonder what Lallie looks like.

DONNA. Ms. Basran was always so beautiful. The pickers loved her.

MICHAEL. Cause she got right in there with them. Working side by side! I remember when I first met her. My old man, he used to have this trailer, out on that Indian land. This one time, I forgot to turn the sprinkler off. Well my old man got real angry with me. He took that hose and whipped me straight across the head. My ear was bleeding like crazy. Anyway, I took myself into town -- you know to lift my spirits. I must have been about twelve standing there, a hot mess, blood coming outta my ear, and that's when I saw her. Lallie. She bent down, sun glowing behind her, and said, don't worry little man, one day you'll be older, and you'll be free. (Beat.) She never called me trash like the rest of them.

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A beautiful older woman is in a very messy room. She sits in her chair, there are tissues scattered around her.


COSTAS at his shoe repair shop. He wears an ancient head lamp which appears to be the only source of illumination apart from a little daylight. He is surrounded by garbage, empty suitcases, discarded coffee cups and food wrappers, shelves filled with shoes of all kinds, some repaired, some waiting. Some very old, some newer styles. The old-fashioned till does not appear to be in use. There are yellowing posters of Greece, the Parthenon, Crete, Epidaurus, etc. The calendar is three years out of date. There is a Greek orthodox portrait of Christ on one wall. Costas does not actually stand up, but rather rolls in his chair to locate various tools. A battery radio plays. A stylish, middle-aged woman (SANDRA) enters hurriedly, rings the bell. He does not look up. She hesitates at the debris on the floor and reconsiders.

SANDRA: Hello there.

COSTAS is not looking up.

SANDRA: Are you open?

COSTAS: What you mean lady? I always open.

SANDRA: Sorry I wasn't sure, the light.

COSTAS: Call the power company, no look at me.

SANDRA: I didn't know there was an outage.

COSTAS: Outage, who say outage? I pay bills, they not come. Vermin.

SANDRA: Well I brought these.

COSTAS: Let me see, lady.

He inspects them.

SANDRA: I wasn't sure you were open. It's so dark.

COSTAS: What you think I no see good enough? (He taps his headlamp.)

SANDRA: I wasn't sure.

COSTAS: (Pronouncing on shoes.) Garbage. All garbage.

SANDRA: But I paid a lot of money for those!

COSTAS: You need know how spend your money lady. I show you...He shows her the soles. You see, these, synthetic. You not glue nothing to them. It not stick. You pay me big money and they fall to pieces, you come back and you mad. Panagia mou!

SANDRA: Okay, is there anything you can do?

COSTAS: For this I need special glue. I need to scrape. Two weeks.

SANDRA: Two weeks!

COSTAS: You don't like? You no ask me. Best I can do with synthetic soles.

SANDRA: They're good shoes.

COSTAS: Okay, your choice Lady. He gives back shoes.

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The lights flicker. We see JACOB, a man in his forties.

He's running. He's wearing black shoes, black socks, black pants, Tzitzits, white dress shirt, fluorescent Z.A.K.A vest and a black kippah.

He runs with focus, determination. He passes through shadow, light, darkness. It's turbulent.

A world of shadows.

He is saying:

What's happening, what's happening, what's happening?

Why can't I remember. Why can't I remember what. Why can't I remember what happened. Why can't I remember what happened to. Why can't I remember what happened to me. Why can't I remember what happened to me right. Why can't I remember what happened to me right before. Why can't I remember what happened to me right before!

There is a deafening, surreal sound.

JACOB's body physically responds to this. It pummels him to the floor.

JACOB starts shaking uncontrollably.

I'm wet, I'm wet...why am I wet, I'm not wet...how come I feel wet? I'm cold, it's cold.

He struggles to stand. Eventually he's able to. Throughout the play Jacob is constantly in motion. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.Pause.

Why can't I stop shaking...stop shaking. It's okay you can stop. It's okay, stop shaking. It's okay, everything's going to be...you can do it. Everything's going to be okay, everything's going to be okay, everything's...

JACOB paces for a while, trying to gather his thoughts.

What's my name?


My name's -- come on! My name's...I live in Har Nof with my mother, her name is...my mother's name is -- come on, what's her, what's my mother's...?


I pick up body parts at bombings, car accidents, that's what I do. I put the bodies together, every piece of skin, every drop of blood...why...why...Jews need to be buried whole...


JACOB looks at the vest he is wearing.

Z.A.K.A, Z.A.K.A, I work for Z.A.K.A! That's what I do, I'm a good person, I work for Z.A.K.A.


JACOB feels his pockets, looking for his phone.

Where's my, where's my phone? They can't, if they can't reach me, they need to reach me, they have to be able to call.


Was there an attack, is that what's happening here, is there a body? Something bad is happening. I can feel it. Something very bad is happening right now, there's an emergency, somebody's dying, I can feel it, somebody's dying, right now!


Is this about the Arab girl, is that what this is? Is that why I'm here, the Arab girl? Is that what's going on?


The Arab girl?

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A loud knock on a door can be heard in the darkness. The sound lingers for a moment. A pool of light reveals LAURA, 25. Her t-shirt is cut just a little too low.

LAURA: For ten years, I've imagined this, and now here it is. Summer. It's Sunday morning. The air is promising parks and pools and bee stings and playing catch until the kids flop home exhausted at the end of a perfect day. You have two children now. Summertime is family time. In summer, the mornings are happily absent of school bells and lesson planning. And students. Especially, the students. The freedom of August. It had to be a day in summer. It's the way I've imagined it for ten years. That's a long time. A lifetime. Besides, nothing bad ever happens in summer.

The knock again.

LAURA: The pancakes are on the griddle (I used to think you'd be flipping burgers -- remember I said that once to you, but I think I like flipping pancakes -- it works) and she's making coffee. Sarah. The exact way you like it. Strong. French pressed. Cream and sugar. You've tried to drink it black but you just can't bear the bitter. The kids are watching some vile cartoon on the television in the front room. I can see them from where I am standing. The younger one is plump. The older one has your chin. Their addiction to television embarrasses you because you wish they were readers.

A knock.

ALAN: Are you expecting anybody, Sarah?

LAURA: You call back to the pancakes as you saunter to the front door, your salt and pepper hair billowing. Who could be knocking on Sunday morning? Who?

A knock.

LAURA: It's me, Mr. Wells.

ALAN opens the front door. A manuscript sits in front of him on the porch. LAURA, who stands away from the doorstep, gestures somehow (discreetly) and the pages fly up and around ALAN. The pages fly as we move back in time ten years. The door knocking sound again but now it morphs into small running steps. A school room. LAURA, now fifteen, wearing a school uniform, runs in.

LAURA: Alan!

ALAN: Laura, what are you doing here?

LAURA: I did something.


LAURA: They're here.

ALAN: Right.

LAURA: Well, what are you going to do?

ALAN: I'm -- going to sit down and wait.

LAURA: That's all?

ALAN: You should go.


LAURA: Alan. I'm sorry.

ALAN: I'm sorry, too.


LAURA: Do you want me to turn the light off?

ALAN: No Laura please --

LAURA: In the pseudo-dark, anything is possible, right?

She flicks the switch. She is twenty-five again.

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THEY: Tragically, surrounded by family and friends, after a courageous battle, I was born.

THEM: My mother wanted a girl. She'd have to wait two years. Before my sister was born, she had me.

THEY: They called me: Alan.

THEM: She wanted a girl. And there I was. Just lying there like a lump.

THEY: You're lazy that's your problem.

THEM: There I was. I've been here ever since. I was yellow when I came out. Like a yolk, still runny. They put me in a metal pan: under the easy bake bulb. I turned over: from yellow to red. A sheet of glass: a metal bed.

THEY: Alone. Surrounded by family and friends.


THEM: Glasgow: 1963.

THEY: I was born on payday.

THEM: The wages of sin are birth.

THEY: Protestant or Catholic?

THEM: Atheist!

THEY: Protestant atheist or Catholic atheist?

THEM: Born with nothing but a religion. Not that they needed to write it down. If I'd been Catholic, I'd have been born on the other side, In their hospital.

THEY: Under an anorexic Jesus. Brass; cast on ruddy wood. Give him my milk. Dip it in a dirty sponge. Put it to his lips. They gave him vinegar. Stinging his cuts.

THEM: But he was a big boy, so he didn't cry.

THEY: He was a good boy and he didn't cry. And even though he was big, his ma could hold him in her arms like a baby. Rocking him like a wee baby.

THEM: Though he was big, she held him in her arms.

THEY: Cradled big Jesus in her arms. I love you, always.

THEM: He was a man, but she held him like her wee boy. THEY: And it was okay. Because he was dead. THEM: Healing the sick with sawdust hands, dead skin cells fell, like soft pink rain. (Beat.)


THEM: I shut my eyes in the boxed-in backyard of the close in Glasgow where we lived as a family. My mum, my dad, my sister and.

THEY: I shut them tight, my four-year-old eyes. My fat fists clench.

THEM: And I bear down: you can do it. Push-push, Alan. Push down. Bear down.

THEY: With four-year-old force and fury, I fully felt, that by some miracle, on unfolding my eyes--

THEM: -- opening them for the first time, to a brighter world. That I would become--

THEY: That I would.

THEM: That I would become.

THEY: I want. I just want. I just want to be.

THEM: A girl; a girl; a girl; a girl.

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Scene One Lights up to reveal Stuart standing on the ice. Charmaine, Mike, and Anoopjeet are on the end boards. Stuart looks at his watch. STUART: Well. Suppose we should just get started then. Quite the turnout. We got black, yellow, brown, white: all's we're missing is the red. Guess we'd better send up a smoke signal. (Silence.) That was a joke. I suppose the Natives wouldn't qualify for this thing anyways. Newcomers only. (Beat.) So, show of hands: who here has curled before? (No hands go up.) None of yas? Ever? CHARMAINE: They tried to have curling back home in Jamaica, but it didn't really take off. STUART: Why was that? Not enough white people to sign up for a bunch of foolishness that's not even a real sport. (Beat.) That was a joke. STUART: Mike, you musta went curling before. MIKE: No. STUART: Down at the university or what? MIKE: No. STUART: Katie never took you out curling? MIKE: No. STUART: Right. Why would she wanna go curl when you two could stay in and have a stimulating conversation like this? And what about you? ANOOPJEET: Anoopjeet. STUART: What was that? ANOOPJEET: Anoopjeet. Anoopjeet Singh. Hello. STUART: Oh. 'Lo. Stuart MacPhail. ANOOPJEET: It is very nice to meet you, Stuart MacPhail. (He steps onto the ice to shake STUART's hand, but immediately slips.) Whoa! (He recovers. Offers his hand.) Hello. (Slips again.) Whoa! (Getting off the ice.) I am just going to go...back...here. STUART: And uhh, where's home for you? ANOOPJEET: The other end of town - around the corner from the Giant Tiger.

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Prologue Surtitles: Friday, September 12, 1885. Then: Toronto. (PT Barnum is getting his hair cut. His friend Henrietta Ward is waiting for him. The barber is Shack.) BARNUM: I told them to give me their best barber and they sent me you. SHACK: Yes, Mister Barnum, only the best for you, sir. BARNUM: How does that get proved anyway? SHACK: Oh, I'm visiting from out of town, sir. This way they don't have to argue among themselves. BARNUM: So you're not the best barber then? SHACK: Oh no, I am. You always want a barber who trained aboard ship, they got the steady hand. BARNUM: You trained aboard ship. SHACK: Steward on the Mississippi, Civil War. BARNUM: For the South? HENRIETTA: (Quick loud laugh.) For the North, Phineas. You're such a card. BARNUM: (Laughs then returns to his questioning.) So where'd you come in from then, if you from outta town? SHACK: From London, sir. BARNUM: London. My elephant Jumbo comes from London too, have you seen him? SHACK: I come in from London, Ontario, sir. BARNUM: Oh. Oh. SHACK: Come to Toronto for a few days to mentor the young son of an old friend in the art of barbering. BARNUM: London, Ontario. How do you get here from there? Horseback? SHACK: Well sir, I'm just not sure that's a topic for a gentleman to discuss. BARNUM: What, you mean me? I haven't been a gentleman going on sixty years now. I'm an old humbug. SHACK: Well, if you say so. I'm a dingbat, Mr. Barnum. BARNUM: A whatbat? A whobat? SHACK: A dingbat, sir. I ride the rails. Cheapest way to travel if you don't get caught. BARNUM: Ha! Well I'll be a gaycat. A dingbat? A dingbat. I always wanted to try that.

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Scene 1 Late summer, 1665. Dawn. By the river. Far off in the distance, a bell tolls. JEANBAPTISTE enters, carrying a pile of furs. KATERI follows behind him. KATERI: Raktsi:ah (big brother), let me help you. (LUCK-JI'-AH)She helps him load the canoe. JEANBAPTISTE: Your little arms are strong. KATERI: You'll need help carrying these to the fort. JEANBAPTISTE: You're here to help out in camp. The fort is no place for you. KATERI: I can help you paddle across. And get to see their big canoes. JEANBAPTISTE: It's dangerous. KATERI: Then you shouldn't go alone. JEANBAPTISTE: I've made the trip many times KATERI: With other men, never on your own. JEANBAPTISTE: It's not a safe place for you. There's sickness in the fort. KATERI: There's sickness in our village, too. Iakoianeh (Clan Mother said I need to learn all I could. How could I do that from a camp across the river? I won't go in the fort. I'll watch the canoe and this stuff. JEANBAPTISTE: Careful, that's our best pelt. It'll trade well. (Pause.) It's hard work. If you come, no complaining. KATERI: I never complain.JEANBAPTISTE: And you'll do whatever I say. KATERI: Yeah, except for when you're being a grump. Then you're on your own. JEANBAPTISTE: Eh kati tho. (So be it.) [EH GUDDEE TOE.]

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