"The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre"
Copyright 1992, 2000 by Louise Richardson
ANGIE SQUIRES - the "Cinderella" and would-be actress of the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre, in her early twenties.
NORMAN BERRINGER - ANGIE's boyfriend, an actor at C.S.D.T. and a biker, in his mid- to late thirties.
JULIA NOVOTNY - ANGIE's nemesis, prima donna of C.S.D.T. and waitress at the local "Cut Stone Cafe", in her early thirties.
MARTIN SOLMES - somewhat flamboyant artistic director at C.S.D.T., in his mid-thirties.
JOHNSON BENNETT - narcissistic actor at C.S.D.T., he is in his early thirties.
HELEN WURTZ - a history professor from the University of Texas and playwright of "The Battle of Caliche Springs", probably the only real grown-up at C.S.D.T., she is in her forties.
DOUG BOYLES - actor and technician at C.S.D.T., in his late twenties.
WILL PARKER - reluctant but natural actor, a black man who debuts as a descendent of freed slaves in "The Battle of Caliche Springs", he is in his early thirties.
MARTHA PARKER - ANGIE's friend, WILL's wife and a budding actress, she introduces WILL to theatre at auditions to "The Battle of Caliche Springs", she is a black woman in her early thirties.
DORI BELL - theater groupie who becomes an actress, she is in her early twenties.
MISS LILA SUE MACNAUGHTON-TAYLOR - founder and benefactor of The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre, she is the grand-daughter of Ezekiel MacNaughton, the founder of the town and main character in "The Battle of Caliche Springs", played by the actress who plays JULIA, she is 105 years old.
BILLY BOB and BOBBY BILL TAYLOR - boorish would-be cowboys, not so bright great-great-grandsons of MISS LILA SUE, their eyes obscured by their Stetsons so they aren't mistaken for the actors who play MARTIN and DOUG, twentyish.
ELMO and NORADENE - a local Caliche Springs couple representative of audiences everywhere, assayed by NORM and ANGIE in an acting class of the imagination, in their mid-sixties.
OTHER CHARACTERS - the dramatis personae of the plays "Brooklyn Girl", "Captain Healfdene's Return" and "The Battle of Caliche Springs" as performed by the actors of the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre.
SETTING: a dinner theater, over-looking Lake Travis, in the hill country west of Austin, Texas.
TIME: the late Twentieth Century
Act I, scene i. The ruins of The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre.
The set is simple--bare except for just the furniture it needs for each scene. Much of the play is done in two spotlighted areas downstage, one for ANGIE SQUIRES, the main character, and the other, upstage of her spot, for vignettes. The back wall may serve as a screen for projecting slides to illustrate ANGIE's monologues. For the first act, the main area is dressed as an efficiency apartment with sofa, coffee table, easy chair downstage and a refrigerator upstage, suggesting a kitchen. The far downstage spotlight comes up to reveal ANGIE, a woman in her late twenties. A slide of a damaged building appears on the back wall.
ANGIEIt doesn't look so grand now, does it? But it was a big thrill for me to work here. It must have been; I commuted all the way from Round Rock, and you really can't get to Caliche Springs from Round Rock. Why did I attempt it? Why did I make the twenty-mile drive every day?...Because show business is my life, that's why...So what am I doing in Texas, much less in Caliche Springs? There is a perfectly good theater in Round Rock, of course, but they weren't hiring when I was looking for a job right out of college. I just happened to be the first person to show up the day construction was completed on the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre. A dinner theater way out here? But look at the view. (slide changes to one of Lake Travis) The lake is beautiful. You can see it as you approach the theatre parking lot. Look at the white sailboats off Windy Point and the sun glistening on the blue water. The view is almost worth the trip. (slide fades out) I used to see the lake from the back of Norm's motorcycle, but I never actually saw the lake. I only saw my imminent death out there beside the road.
We see a series of blurry slides of cactus and cedar, etc. taken from a moving vehicle as ANGIE continues. We also hear the sound of a motorcycle under her narration.
ANGIEI saw the skin scraped from my legs, my back carpeted with prickly pear and my heart impaled on a discarded beer bottle. I never said a thing to Norm. I never even whimpered--on the outside. Norm loved his "bike". It was sacred. I couldn't tell him the truth to save my life. I suspect he sensed my fear when I held on so tight. He had finger marks on either side of his rib cage. They never went away. He looked like he'd been hugged by a giant raccoon.
Motorcycle sound fades out, as does the slide show.
ANGIEI first met Norm here. I was on the prop crew of a Shakespeare play--I think it was "Hamlet"--and it was my job to pass out little items to actors as they entered the stage.
The upstage spotlight comes up to reveal a small table with a sword and a few other props on it. ANGIE steps into the upstage spot, picks up the sword, and the downstage spot goes out.
ANGIEOnce I handed Norm a sword as he listened for his entrance cues. Looking back on it now, it is amazing how well we communicated.
NORM enters the spotlight.
ANGIEYou're Norman Berringer and you get the rapier, right?
ANGIE hands him the rapier. NORM takes it and heads out of the spotlight.
ANGIECareful with the aisle people.
NORMNo people is an isle.
ANGIEYour sword, I mean.
NORMWhy, 'tis mean; a verily knavish blade.
ANGIEMartin just wanted me to warn you.
NORMWarning taken. I'll not let the isle people take me sword. But hark, I hear me cue line.
NORM exits. A woman's voice is heard offstage with the clank of a sword.
Slides of JULIA NOVOTNY come up as ANGIE continues.
ANGIEWhen Norm and I first met he was going out with Julia Novotny, the "star" of "The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre--the queen of "Caliche Rep". "Caliche Rep" was my term for the unofficial, but immovable stock company at C.S.D.T. (slides show JULIA, JOHNSON and others) They advertised "open" auditions for every play, but I always knew who would be cast. It didn't take a genius to figure it out. It was always Julia Novotny and the usual bunch of "Caliche Reptiles"...plus Norm, of course, who was a real talent and later a close personal friend of mine. I auditioned all the time--and I was good--but I was just "crew" and so I never got cast. And Julia--well, she treated me like something she just dug out from under her toenail.
ANGIE picks up a box of "props" from the dark. The upstage spotlight comes up and JULIA NOVOTNY enters. She turns her back to show ANGIE her dress zipper is stuck.
ANGIELooks fine to me.
ANGIE zips the dress and tries to exit.
ANGIEI think the dress is made crooked, but the zipper's straight.
JULIAWell, check it again.
ANGIEIt's fine; I have to go.
JULIAWell, check it again.
ANGIE unzips and rezips the dress. JULIA exits. ANGIE steps downstage. JULIA re-enters frantically.
ANGIEEverybody at the Cut Stone Cafe, where Julia was a waitress, thought she was a great actress, but I thought she ruined my favorite play, Murray Diamond's "Brooklyn Girl".
Act I, scene ii.
ANGIE's spotlight fades out. She exits in the dark. The main stage lights come up on the set of "Brooklyn Girl'. JULIA, as MELANIE, and NORM, as BRAD, enter through the apartment's front door. NORM's acting is natural, JULIA's, a bit "wooden".
MELANIESo this was the scene of the crime, huh?
MELANIENo. This must have been my play house when I was a little girl.
BRADNo, Melanie, your play house was twice this size.
MELANIETrue, I played in the servants' quarters after Daddy had to let them go.
JULIA moves to the sofa.
NORM goes to the kitchen and begins mixing drinks.
BRADAnd then you married me.
MELANIEThat still comes under the heading of "muddling through", Bradley.
BRADYou still have your wit, I see.
MELANIEStill intact. Unaltered by eight and a half years of marriage and its aftermath.
MELANIEWho says that?
NORM walks toward JULIA, hands her a drink and sits beside her on the sofa.
BRADThere was no bitterness.. .You got what you wanted and I got what I wanted out of the arrangement.
NORM motions a "toast". JULIA returns the gesture. They sip their drinks.
MELANIERather like dissolving a corporation.
BRADLet's not argue, Melanie. We had eight years of a relatively good marriage. We have had a civilized divorce. And here we are, back in our Brooklyn love nest, the first apartment we ever lived in together. Let's not spoil it...You seem nervous. Are you starting to feel guilty about Albert?
JULIA, unknowingly, slings her drink over the set and NORM as she talks.
MELANIEWhy should I feel guilty about Albert? I'm not married to him. Do you feel guilty about your wife?
MELANIEUnlike you and me, Brad?
JULIA sips, wondering why her glass is empty.
BRADYes. Unlike us. We would probably still be married if we had worked at it just a little.
NORM stands to refill the drinks.
MELANIEWhat's this "we" business? I worked at it. You were the only one who wasn't satisfied.
JULIA begins to drink, remembers the glass is dry and sets it down too loudly on the coffee table.
BRADI was satisfied.
MELANIE finds bills and papers among the magazines on the coffee table.
MELANIEI guess you were at that. You had a successful law practice, a comfortable marriage and you even managed to fit a mistress or two into your busy schedule.
BRADIt wasn't "two"...Let me pick that up.
NORM hurriedly straightens the mess on the coffee table. BRAD is obviously hiding something.
MELANIEOf course not. "Two" would have been impractical...I'm curious, Brad. Whatever happened to that "scarlet woman" who seduced practical, sensible ol' Bradley Campanella away from his "relatively good marriage"?
BRADWell, I lied.
BRADMel, let's just forget it. After all, we--
MELANIENo. Bear with me...I want to see if I have this straight...When you and I were married, you had an affair with dull, predictable ol' Joyce?...And now, little more than three years later, you are cheating on Joyce with me?
BRADI'm not proud of cheating on her.
MELANIEWere you proud of cheating on me?
NORM crosses to the coffee table and puts his glass down.
BRADLet's not beat this dead horse any longer. If you want to forget about what we planned for tonight, I'll take you home.
MELANIEIs that what you want?
BRADWell, we're not off to the best start, are we?
MELANIEOkay. You're right. Let's go out and come in again.
NORM and JULIA exit through the apartment's front door and then re-enter, NORM carrying JULIA over the threshold. NORM sets JULIA down awkwardly.
JULIA bats her eyelashes. NORM heads for the refrigerator.
BRADYes, quite romantic. (opens the refrigerator door) And, as in days of yore, I have stocked the refrigerator...(produces a champagne bottle and a small can) with the necessities of life!
MELANIEOf course! You've slipped up this time, Brad. Champagne and onion dip was your little private joke--yours and Joyce's--right?
BRADAll right. I guess I got confused.
MELANIEAnd you brought Joyce here, didn't you? That's why this place was vacant. You never stopped renting this place. Am I right? When we were married and your law practice became profitable enough for us to move out of here, you just kept paying the rent.
BRADI...uh...rented it out.
MELANIEOur landlord never allowed us to sublet.
BRADI bought the building.
MELANIEI don't believe this! You live with a man for eight and a half years, you divorce him, you have an affair with him...And you still don't know him at all! All the time we were married, I thought you were just making enough to make ends meet. Oh, we lived well enough and I didn't have to work after the first three years, but you had me believing we were barely covering our bills. I certainly didn't know you could afford to buy an apartment building.
BRADI got a very good deal.
MELANIEI'm sure!. ..You told me inflation was eating up our savings, and under my nose you sneak off and set yourself up as a slumlord?
MELANIE approaches BRAD menacingly. BRAD backs away.
MELANIEDoes Joyce know you own this place?
BRADYou may as well know: she and I own it together. We're partners.
MELANIEPartners?! Partners?! You were business partners? You and Joyce were partners and you wouldn't even let me balance our checkbook?
BRADYou knew I was having an affair.
MELANIENot with Joyce, I didn't...You were partners? I know you. You kept a secret partnership from me. That's the worst kind of infidelity!
BRADIt wasn't exactly secret. The IRS knew.
BRADAll right. Let's go.
MELANIELet's just go.
NORM "turns out the lights" and they exit through the front door. We hear a man and a woman, a different couple, laughing. The laughing stops abruptly.
NORM and JULIA and another actor, JOHNSON BENNETT, and JOYCE (played by MARTHA PARKS) enter through the front door, led by JULIA.
MELANIEWell, what a surprise?. And who, may I ask, is this handsome gentleman?
MELANIEJohn, I think these two kids want to be alone. I don't know about you, but I'm starved. Do you know a good restaurant?
JOHN looks over his shoulder, confused, at JOYCE. MELANIE leads JOHN out the door, arm in arm. They exit.
The lights fade out on the main stage. ANGIE's downstage spotlight comes up.
ANGIEI could have acted the hell out of that character!...Well, I didn't get to act in "Brooklyn Girl," but I did get to attend the strike party, and, of course, I got to clean up after it. That's okay. I loved the strike parties at the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre. They were so...I don't know...striking.
Act I, scene iii.
The lights come up to show a swarm of people pounce onto the stage, disassembling the set and carrying off furniture and props like so many army ants. Then DOUG BOYLE, the techie, almost slides onto the stage with his boom box.
DOUGGotta have my music. Ha! (pushes a button on the cassette player and loud rock music fills the air) Let's boogieeeee!
The strike crew dances to the music as they bring on a table with chips and dips and party snacks of all kinds. Some carry in covered dishes and set them on the table, dancing all the while. We hear the voice of the director, MARTIN SOLMES over the music, starting offstage and then we see him, a bottle of champagne held over his head as he enters. Someone other than DOUG BOYLE shuts off the boom box.
MARTINI give youuuu!...(comes onstage) the thee-uh-tah!
The others suddenly have cans of soda, beer bottles, empty champagne glasses, etc. in their hands. They raise these objects on high and answer MARTIN's toast in unison.
MARTINWho wants bubbly?
SCATTERED HIGH-PITCHED VOICESBubbly, bubbly!
Those who have drinks take a gulp of their drinks. Those who have empty champagne glasses crowd around MARTIN. The others put down their drinks, then find champagne glasses on the table and crowd around MARTIN for their shares of champagne. DOUG BOYLE appears again at the boom box and presses the button to continue the music.
The crowd dances and mingles. One by one the actors from "Brooklyn Girl" enter and mingle with the others. JULIA NOVOTNY, drying her hair with a towel, is the last of them to enter.
JULIANo one told me there was champagne! (sees her blouse is partly unbuttoned) Couldn't ya'll wait a damn minute!?
JULIA buttons up, dances and mingles. The music fades down enough for us to hear the conversations. ANGIE is speaking to MARTHA and WILL PARKS. WILL, very shy and uncomfortable, mostly listens.
MARTHAThey do tend to always cast the same people, don't they?
ANGIELike Julia over there. This is her third play in a row. And I know I heard better readings at that last audition.
MARTHAYou were good.
ANGIEThanks. I thought so...Who knows? Maybe I have a chance this time. At least there's a different director.
MARTHAIf hope so. This one fought me all through the production. He flat out told me the only reason I got the part was as a favor to his friend my acting teacher. He said I was "non-traditional casting" just because Estelle Parsons played the part on Broadway. Well, I said "Hello. We're talking about New York City in the 1960's. Who's to say the couple couldn't be interracial." Hey it happened all the time.
ANGIENo...Well, in the original version they were slaves, but Helen--that's Helen Wurtz; she's the playwright and the director. She did some more research and had to do radical surgery on the whole play. That's why it was postponed six weeks.
ANGIE, MARTHA and WILL continue but their words overlap and finally are displaced by another conversation. JOHNSON BENNETT, the actor who played JOHN in "Brooklyn Girl", is dominating his conversation with a young woman (DORI).
JOHNSWell, maybe you saw me in "Pajama Game" last year.
DORINo...I wasn't into theater last year.
JOHNSYou could have seen me in "Dances With Wolves" at Zachary Scott. That was in February.
DORIThe one I saw was some French thing.
JOHNSFrench? "Waiting For Godot"?
DORII don't think so...I think you were a beggar. You weren't on stage long. You didn't say much.
JOHNSI've never done a walk-on...except once at Hyde Park, but that's because an actor got sick and the director begged me.
DORIYeah. Hyde Park. That's where it was.
JOHNSIt wasn't French. It was "Playboy of the Western World", an Irish play.
DORISame difference. Anyway, you were so fine in your rags.
JOHNSYou think so?
DORIFor sure. I think you're better when you don't talk.
JOHNSWell, thank you...uh...I think, I'll get some more...raw broccoli and cauliflower. It was good to meet you...Good-bye.
JOHNSON rushes past ANGIE and friends.
MARTHA and WILL exit. ANGIE turns away and almost bumps into JOHNSON.
JOHNSExcuse me, Angie.
ANGIEYou called me Angie.
JOHNSThat's your name, right?
JOHNSWell, excuse me.
JOHNSON mingles with the crowd, in search of someone to impress with his credits.
ANGIEHe called me Angie.
DORIFar out. What's your name?
DORIThat one's going to Hollywood.
ANGIEYou're talking about Johnson Bennett?
DORII think he's so special.
ANGIEYou must have a high threshold for nausea.
ANGIEI stopped being impressed by Johnson Bennett a long time ago.
DORIYou just don't understand him.
ANGIEWhat's to understand?...Maybe it's none of my business, but I think you're wasting your time with him. I don't think women do anything for him.
DORIYou mean he's gay?
ANGIENo. I don't think so, but you'll never get him to look at you--unless you have a large reflective surface.
ANGIE finds NORMAN BERRINGER in the mingling throng and DORI finds someone to dance with.
NORMI mean, it's good music.
NORM"Okay?" You stab me through the heart. This is a classic.
ANGIEI guess it was before my time.
JULIA NOVOTNY emerges from the munching, dancing minglers.
JULIANorm, we're moving our party to Johnson's house. Want to come?
NORMHow about it, Angie?
ANGIEI don't know...
JULIAWe understand, don't we Norman? (to ANGIE) We won't try to change your mind.
MARTIN SOLMES approaches them.
MARTINJulia dear, you're not off to another one of your orgies, are you?
JULIAI need to unwind, Martin.
MARTINDarling, you are constantly unwound. Take care you don't unravel entirely. And you still haven't learned 'Frisia" for "Captain Healfdene's Return". I want you off-book Monday. Need I remind you that opening night is next Thursday?
JULIAI'll have the lines, Martin. All right? You're not my mother, for Christ's sake!
JULIAI will be a tad late, Martin. I'm auditioning for "The Battle of Caliche Springs". A mere formality, I assure you.
MARTINDon't be so certain, my dear. I'm not casting that one. Not everyone loves you as I do.
JULIACake...Fruitcake, Martin. You're nuts, but we love you. (takes NORM's arm) Then we're off to the orgy. (to ANGIE) Tag along if you like, dear.
ANGIE follows JULIA and NORM as they exit, leaving the others to mingle and dance. The lights and music fade out on the party and ANGIE steps downstage into her spotlight.
Act I, scene iv.
ANGIEAs it turned out, the "orgy" was no worse than my prom night party. And I was saved from what the Victorians used to call "a fate worse than death"--or death itself what with AIDS going around--when the police arrived to turn down the music. All controlled stances--the great attraction for Norman, by the way--were flushed down the toilet. I never touched the stuff myself. I think Norm just smoked grass because of the nostalgia. He never really left the sixties, you know. Maybe that's what attracted me to Norm--that he was kind of an artifact from the past. I was a History major in College, after all. Although, what I thought I was going to do with History in the real world I can't recall.
As ANGIE is standing there we hear the voice of MARTIN SOLMES, the director.
NORM enters in the darkness. ANGIE crosses to the darkened stage. As the lights come up, they are kissing.
MARTIN SOLMES enters to find them kissing.
MARTINSo there you are, Angie.
ANGIEHere I am.
MARTINWhy didn't you come when I called?
MARTINOf course you were.
NORMLost your key again, Martin?
MARTINI found it. No thanks to you...Angie, I want to talk to you about the shotgun blast in "Captain Healfdene's Return".
MARTINNorman, do I need to pry you away with a crowbar? I need to talk to Angie about props. Do you mind?
ANGIEHere at nine, sweetness.
MARTIN makes an unpleasant face in reaction to the "sweetness".
MARTIN"Relax", he says. I have a show premiering in three days and the special effects aren't working.
ANGIEI thought the flash pot was quite effective at the first tech rehearsal.
MARTINBut it won't do, not with a full audience to absorb the sound. We need a bigger boom.
ANGIEA bigger boom? I don't know, Martin. I think we're at the safety limit now. Any more powder in the pot could be dangerous.
MARTINWork on it, Angie. I need more boom and more flash.
MARTINYes. When Unferth climbs those stairs, I want the audience to really see, hear and feel that shotgun explode from the darkness. I want to shake them in their seats. I want to wake them up! I want to shock them into experiencing this great tragedy fully...viscerally!
ANGIEViscerally.. .All right, I'll try.
MARTINSee that you do. You have three days.
MARTIN exits. ANGIE steps down-stage into her spotlight. The upstage lights fade to black.
Act I, scene v.
ANGIEWell, my mind was on other things...Yes, on NORM but also on that night's auditions for "The Battle of Caliche Springs". It was my best chance to be cast in a show, since Martin would have nothing to do with the production. Normally, I would have read the script, but the director and writer Helen Wurtz---you know, Professor Wurtz from the University of Texas---was still re-writing the thing, as she would be even well into the rehearsal period. She had been commissioned by the Daughters of the Battle of Caliche springs to flesh out the epic creation myth of the founding of the community. I liked Helen, but I figured she would write what she was paid to write. I knew it would be bad drama and bad history. Something like...
ANGIE's spotlight fades out as the upstage lights come up to reveal a valiant pioneer couple huddled against the world, a rifle in the man's right hand. NORM is EZEKIEL MACNAUGHTON and JULIA is ELIZABETH, his wife.
EZEKIELDon't you fret, Elizabeth. Them heathens won't fetch our scalps. Not while I have you on my one arm to love me and Matilda here (brandishes rifle) to protect us both.
ELIZABETHEzekiel, if we ever get out of this Indian war alive, and I have God's faith we will, I just know we'll build us a town, the kind of town where decent folk can walk down the street and just say "morning neighbor". It'd be a place for churches and for little children runnin' and playin' and growin' up free, the way you'd know this great land of ours will have a fine and prosperous tomorrow!
EZEKIELAmen, Elizabeth; you said a mouth full. Why, as soon as we ward off these bloodthirsty Comanches, we'll find us a piece of bottom land and till the good earth. Come on, you savages, we ain't afraid! We be Texicans and Americans!
We hear the sound of Indian war-hoops, galloping horses and rifle fire as the stage lights fade and ANGIE's spotlight comes up again.
ANGIEI didn't know exactly how it really was back then. It would take a researcher with the training of a Helen Wurtz for that kind of authenticity. But I knew enough about the later history of Caliche Springs and the MacNaughtons to know it wasn't very noble and heroic. So, with much hope for theatrical acceptance and no hope for artistic integrity, I attended the auditions for the "Battle of Caliche Springs."
Act I, scene vi.
ANGIE's spotlight fades. When the lights come up on the stage ANGIE is sitting stage left with some other people. HELEN WURTZ is behind a desk stage right. There is a small performing space in the middle.
HELENOkay...Dori Bell, read "Elizabeth MacNaughton". Norman Berringer, read Ezekiel...Will Parks, "George Pickens"...Martha Parks--any relation?
MARTHAWill and I are married...Ms. Wurtz?...I mean, Dr...Wurtz---
MARTHAWill that hurt our chances, us being married?
HELENNot necessarily...Martha, read Margaret Pickens.
The selected actors gather in a semi-circle in the center space and face out to the play's real audience.
HELENDon't worry about the blocking right now. But we need to see how you move...Whatever seems appropriate. Ready? Now give it performance energy.
HELENA little louder, please, Mr. Parks...Now Elizabeth opens the cabin door. She picks up a shotgun and points it ahead of her.
DORIWhat do you want?! I got a shotgun.
WILLYes. I see that. (looks at HELEN)
HELENMuch better. Continue.
DORI shrugs and takes a seat in the audience. ANGIE steps into the audition area. She tries to hide her excitement-- unsuccessfully.
HELENTake it from "She bein' in a family way and all."
WILLShe's in need of rest and some cool water. She bein' in a family way and all.
ANGIEI suppose I could spare some for the mule...Well, I don't know...You escaped, ain't ya?
WILL No ma'am, we ain't. We're from Mexico and--
MARTHACome on, George. Let's ease off to somewhere else. We ain't wanted here.
WILLMargaret, there just ain't nobody else around here with water. (then to ANGIE as ELIZABETH) You see, my granddaddy and Margaret's great-granddaddy was set free by their master back in Virginia--the same master. Them folks, bein' free now, kept a-movin' west together and directly set here in Mexico. I done lived in San Antonio all my life.
ANGIEThat for a fact?
ANGIEYou don't talk Meskin.
WILLYes Ma'am, we do. (having trouble with the Spanish words) Habla espanol? Soy Mexicano de San Antonio.
HELENDon't worry about the Spanish. There aren't many words of it and we'll have someone to coach you...Continue.
ANGIEWe don't talk that mess. You shouldn't neither, if you know what's good for you. This here's Texas now.
WILLYes, Ma'am. Texas and Co-hill-a.
HELENCo-WEE-la. Texas and Coahuila. We'll work on it. Go on.
ANGIENo more it ain't. It's just plain Texas now. The Country, Texas.
WILLYou sure about that?
ANGIEWhere you been the last 'leven months?
WILLWe knew there was fightin', but we just figured we'd have a new presidente, like before.
MARTHAGeorge, let's go. Stop arguin' with her.
ANGIEOh, we got a new presidenty all right: Sam Houston.
WILL Yes Ma'am...Can we have some water and the shade of your barn 'til night fall? We'll be movin' on then. The Comanches won't be botherin' us at night and we can make good time.
NORMYou be makin' good time now. Git!
WILLMister, we ain't got no weapons. Take it easy.
MARTHAGeorge, let's go. Please.
WILLTake it easy.
MARTHAGeorge, let's go. Please.
ANGIEZeke, I don't think they mean no harm. Now that you're here I--
ANGIEThey ain't no need, Zeke. They ain't armed.
JOHNSQuiet, woman. I ain't takin' no chances with run-away slaves. We're too far away from everwhere to turn 'em in.
MARTHAWe ain't slaves, Mister. We've been livin' free in San Antonio and we're goin' away right now...
JOHNSMargaret, let me do the talkin'.
HELEN I believe that's "George's" line.
WILLMargaret, let me do the talkin'.
JOHNSIs it for a fact you ain't runaway slaves?
HELENEveryone else, just the same. Go.
JOHNSYou won't mind if I look you over, will ya? EIizabeth, train the musket on that baby in her belly.
WILLPlease don't harm her, Mister. We'll move along.
JOHNSDon't move. Don't flinch or Elizabeth makes a hole in your woman and your baby both.
WILLWhat are you doin', Mister?
JOHNSElizabeth, cock that shotgun'. Don't let her move. Let me see them ankles, boy.
MARTHAI won't. Just don't do nothin' to George.
JOHNSOh, I won't...Elizabeth, I'll be damned if I can find a mark on him. No brand, no chain marks, nothin'.
WILLJust like I said, Mister. We'll go and you won't get into no trouble. Come on, Margaret.
JOHNSOh, I ain't aimin' to get in no trouble...Yessir, you two'll do nicely.
JULIAZeke? What' re you plannin'?
JOHNSThese two are gonna work for us.
JULIAZeke, I don't think--
JOHNSYou don't need to think, Elizabeth; just hold that gun on 'em while I rig up some kinda shackles.
HELENNow, Margaret throws her shawl over the shotgun and George grabs the ax handle. The shotgun goes off, shooting Ezekiel in the leg.
WILLLet's get outta here!
MARTHALet's both get on the mule. They just got that ox.
JOHNSDamn it, woman! Get me powder and buckshot before they get away!
JULIAThey got away, Zeke. They're gone.
HELENBlackout. Thank you. Turn to Act One, Scene One. I'd like to see...
HELEN's voice fades out with the stage lights as ANGIE's spotlight comes up.
ANGIENow, that's what I call "history". I couldn't imagine this is what the Daughters of the Battle of Caliche Springs had in mind. They commissioned this play as a 105th birthday present for the benefactor of the theater, Miss Lila-Sue MacNaughton Taylor, the granddaughter of Ezekiel MacNaughton. I didn't know what Miss Lila-Sue would think, but I thought things were looking up for me--and for the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre.
ACT I, scene vii
The rubble that was the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre. The downstage spotlight comes up on ANGIE SQUIRES, who addresses the audience.
ANGIEThis is it. This is what's left of it, this shell of a building and all the moldy rubble. But I see it as it was a short time ago: alive and full of magic and promise. You may laugh, but yes I am talking about The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre. Okay, so the productions done here were not exactly Broadway caliber. There were some good times here, anyway. Having been a History major in college, I couldn't fail to mention the founder and spirit of this establishment. Miss Lila Sue MacNaughton-Taylor came from the first family of Caliche Springs--not a claim that I would make proudly, but I suppose some people would.
The MacNaughtons had made a killing in the patent medicine business, and perhaps several killings among their customers. The one good move they made was to give Miss Lila Sue a small San Antonio root beer company they had acquired. She was a big theater enthusiast when she was young and was constantly taking junkets to New York each new Broadway season. The Schertz Root Beer Company was a birthday present given to her with the stipulation that she use only the root beer profits to finance her hobby, leaving the rest of the family fortune intact.
Ironically, the patent medicine business failed because of a great flood in 1925 and a great US Food and Drug Administration investigation in 1938, while Schertz Root Beer was in every soda fountain in Central Texas by 1930. Even the Great Depression didn't keep Miss Lila-Sue from becoming a millionaire in her own right and a businesswoman in spite of herself. She celebrated her one hundredth birthday by funding the construction of the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre in her home town. And that's where I came in.
My best, last and only chance of getting to act at C.S.D.T. came with the auditions for "The Battle of Caliche springs". I did well, I thought, but given my history with this theater...Well, the last person I wanted to see the next morning was Professor Helen Wurtz, the playwright and director of the show.
ANGIE's spotlight fades out and she steps into the upstage area whose lights come up to show her examining props in a box. HELEN enters with a sheet of paper.
Act I, scene viii.
There is an awkward moment when ANGIE waits for HELEN to leave and HELEN waits for ANGIE to read the paper. Finally HELEN starts to leave. ANGIE sneaks a look at the list. HELEN sneaks up behind her.
HELENLooking for something?
HELENYou did audition for "The Battle of Caliche Springs", didn't you?
ANGIEYou remember me?
HELENOf course...You're third from the bottom.
HELENThe young Tonkawa woman who...encounters our "hero". You're very important in the last few scenes.
ANGIEOh...Thank you! (stands, hugs, then pulls back) Sorry.
HELENI wondered when it would sink in. See you next Monday night in the theater room.
HELEN exits. ANGIE calls after her.
ANGIEThanks again!...(dances around the room) I got something! I got something!
MARTIN enters. ANGIE takes his hands and dances around the room with him.
ANGIEI got something! I got something!
MARTINWell, whatever it is, don't give it to me.
ANGIEI'm in the show! I'm in "Caliche Springs"!
MARTIN looks into the box and reaches in to handle an object.
ANGIEIt's all we have that doesn't look like something from World War II or Viet Nam. It's left over from last Thanksgiving's fund-raiser.
MARTINWill it work?
ANGIEThe stairs will be dark and the audience won't see anything. We could use a sound effects tape and a little flash powder.
MARTINIn the barrel of this gun.
ANGIEIf that's what you want.
MARTINThat's not enough. The effect needs to be real. It needs to be...visceral.
MARTINDouble the flash powder. Johnson will be far enough from the blast. Maybe the set wall will give it seine echo.
ANGIEAll right. And we'll tell Johns to turn his head at the last moment.
Act I, scene ix.
ANGIE pulls in two chairs from the wings. They face the audience.
ANGIEI see Norman in the role of Roscoe. (sits)
NORM enters and sits in the other chair.
ROSCOEI knew you was draggin' me off to another New York Jew comedy.
NORADENEShhh'. Roscoe, I swear. I can't take you nowhere.
ROSCOEWell that's what it is, ain't it?
NORADENENo. That was last week.
ROSCOEAnd it seems to me like we already seen this one at the movies a couple of years back.
NORADENEI told you, that was the last play. Besides, this is better than the movies. It's more excitin' what with real live actors and all.
ROSCOEThey ain't no actors here, Noradene. Most of 'em is just some college kids and one of 'ern is that waitress Judy at the "Cut Stone Cafe".
NORADENEYou are so ignorant, Roscoe. Why, the next thing you know, little Judy and some of them others will be movie stars and makin' millions of dollars a picture.
NORADENEThat's your dinner. It's a dinner theater and that's your dinner.
ROSCOEBut what the Hell is it?
NORADENEIt looks to be Salisbury steak.
NORADENENot with your fingers, Roscoe! I can't take you anywhere.
ROSCOEDidn't we see this "Brooklyn" play on television?
NORADENEIt told you, that was last week.
ROSCOEI believe it was last week.
NORADENEEat your Salisbury steak, Roscoe. The show's about to start.
ROSCOEIt's hamburger...Hamburger from a damned TV dinner. That's what it is. But what the hell is it?
NORADENEJust hush up and eat it before it gets cold.
ROSCOEIt's already cold.
NORADENEEat it before they take it away from you. That's what these fancy places do so you won't choke watchin' the play.
ROSCOETastes like worms from our bait shop.
NORADENEJust hush up. I don't even care no more.
The theater lights blink a few times.
NORADENEShut up, Roscoe. The show's about to start.
NORADENEI'm warnin' you.
NORADENE mimes taking a knife to ROSCOE's throat.
NORADENEShut up you old fool!
Act I, scene x.
ANGIE sits as the spotlight blacks out and the lights come upon "Captain Healfdene's Return" on the upstage area. On the set there is a sofa and chair. To one side is the suggestion of a staircase with three steps visible, above which it winds out of view in the darkness. JULIA NOVOTNY plays FRISIA, supposed widow of sea captain SCYLD HEALFDENE, played by NORM. When the lights come up FRISIA is knitting on the sofa. Her son UNFERTH, played by JOHNSON BENNETT is pacing the floor anxiously. The actors speak in a bad Swedish dialect.
FRISIAThen go, Unferth. God be with you. I shall not keep you here.
UNFERTHDo you think I will not go?
FRISIAI believe you will do whatsoever you will, my son. You have always been a willful child. And now you are a man. My entreaties would be for naught and, therefore, you have my leave--although you neither require it nor ask it of me.
UNFERTHHow coldly do you cast off your only son, your only daughter and your husband, who is not yet missing one year. Mother, you are cold!
UNFERTH turns away from FRISIA.
UNFERTHUnfeeling wife and mother! Can I not keep my father's memory even for myself? If he is dead--and I still hope for his life--it was the maelstrom that took him, not strong drink. When he returned from each voyage, he was the sailor home from the perilous deep. It is the way of sailors to hoist their tankards in celebration of another voyage survived. But women understand nothing of this.
FRISIAAnd you understand this carousal, do you not? I know too well how your sometimes father would take you to his tavern-home, his only true home on land, to initiate you into the "manly" rites of public disgrace. How very well I know of his carrying you home in your drunken stupor--and, of late years, your carrying him, his no-longer youthful body comatose from the mead--after the sea, the true love of his life.
UNFERTHMother, I now leave you to your new husband...(puts on coat, cap and muffler) and all the sons and daughters he will beget you.
FRISIAGo then. And take your father's jealousy to sea with you!
UNFERTHI jealous? Jealous of.. Who said I would go to sea?
FRISIAYourself, my Unferth. You are as simple as a child's book to your mother. I read you so easily. You will seek your father's seamates and fellow drunkards, if you have not done so already. And you too will be lost to the sea. If not beneath its swells, then to its life aboard ship. Lost as your father was lost even before your birth. I know I cannot bid you tarry in Alborg. You are, God save us, your father's son, and so, bound to seek the world. So go, my son. Go with God, but go!
UNFERTHSo I will, Mother. I shall write, of course.
FRISIAAs you will, Unferth. Good-bye.
UNFERTHI will take leave of you then.
FRISIAAs you must.
FRISIAGood-bye, Unferth. Fare you well.
FRISIAUnferth, take your leave! Go!
UNFERTHAnd so I go, Mother. God be with you.
UNFERTH finally exits to the wing which indicates the front door of the house. He passes his mother's lover, WULFGAR WERGILD, a wealthy Alborg merchant, entering from that direction. WULFGAR is over-played by usual techie DOUG BOYLE.
WULFGARSo, will you attend the wedding, Unferth?
FRISIAHe wishes to leave. Let him go, Wulfgar.
WULFGARHe leaves home now, does he not?
WULFGARI never wished that to happen.
WULFGARHe will return. Will he not return, Frisia?
FRISIAYes, he will return, perhaps, after a year's voyage...(sniffles) If the maelstrom, the storms and the drink do not swallow him, as they did Scyld, he will return.
FRISIANo. There is no need, Wulfgar. Unferth is gone, Scyld is gone, Hygd has run away and married. There is no one left to object. We have planned our wedding for tomorrow. We must wed. We must!
The lights fade to black long enough for FRISIA and WULFGAR to exit in the dark and make a quick costume change. ANGIE enters and crosses as her downstage spotlight comes up. She speaks to the audience during the costume change.
Act I, scene xi.
ANGIEHistory: It's melodramatic, it's moldy and it's stuffy...And I love it. I can't help myself. (reads from the program) "'Captain Healfdene's Return' is a lesser masterpiece of Oslof Hrothgarsen, the Danish writer considered 'the last of the great Jute playwrights' by many scholars." The setting, as you have seen, is (reads) "a well-appointed parlor in a grand l9th Century home which overlooks the sea and the harbor of Alborg, Denmark." We pick up the story as Frisia and Wulfgar are saying good-bye to well-wishers after their wedding.
ANGIE's spotlight fades out She exits and FRISIA and WULFGAR enter blissfully, waving to offstage friends.
WULFGARThank you! Yes. Thank you for your good wishes! Again, thank you! Farewell!
FRISIAAnd good fortune to you, Halga! Yes, we will he very happy! Thank you, Drida! Good evening to you now!
They cross to Center Stage and embrace.
WULFGARWe are married at last, my Frisia.
FRISIAYes, Wulfgar, and we are finally alone together.
WULFGARYour children will return.
FRISIA Yes they will. They will become accustomed to our marriage in time and we will be a family once more.
FRISIAWulfgar! (giggles) Not in the foyer! We repair to the bedroom now.
They exit and the lights dim. After a moment a drunken figure stumbles into the parlor. It is CAPTAIN HEALFDENE, himself.
CAPTAINShhh! We will wake them, Unferth.
UNFERTHLet us wake them then....(then shouting) if they sleep!
CAPTAINIf they sleep? Surely they would sleep by now...Oh, I see.
UNFERTHWe must rouse them from their sinful bed!
CAPTAINThey do not know they sin, Unferth. Therefore, do they sin?
UNFERTHWe must tell them you are alive, Father. You must resume your primacy as husband this very night. I will announce you.
UNFERTH begins to cross to the base of the stairs.
CAPTAINNay, Unferth. I will sleep in the stable until the sober morning. Then I will tell them.
CAPTAINThey married honestly. Let them be wed this one night.
UNFERTHFather, you are too magnanimous.
CAPTAINI will set everything to rights in the morning. Their marriage is not lawful, and they will do what is proper. Have no fear. I will be most comfortable in the hay loft.
UNFERTHBut do not sleep in the stable, Father. I will bring you blankets and pillows. You must sleep in the house tonight--the parlor, if you must. I fear there will come a frost in The night. I will fetch your bedclothes from the closet in the upstairs hallway.
CAPTAINVery well. I will wait for you here.
UNFERTH climbs the stairs until he is out of view.
CAPTAIN HEALFDENE exits, but WULFGAR descends the stairs just in time to see him.
WULFGAR quickly disappears up the stairs. The CAPTAIN re-enters briefly.
CAPTAINUnferth? Did you bid me?...(looks around) No one is there. No matter, I will fetch my bag. (exits)
UNFERTH descends the stairs cautiously.
UNFERTHFather?. Here are your covers. (reaches the bottom of the stairs) Father? Where have you gone?
UNFERTH searches the parlor. WULFGAR appears on the stairs with a blunderbuss.
A brilliant flash of light comes from the gun as we hear the loudest explosion since Hiroshima. WULFGAR climbs down and crosses to the body. He bends over it to make a tragic discovery as CAPTAIN HEALFDENE enters cautiously.
The CAPTAIN crosses to them and shoves WULFGAR aside. He kneels over his son.
As the lights fade out, ANGIE's spotlight comes up again, with ANGIE in it.
ANGIEVisceral, huh? Let me catch my breath. I tell you the rest in a minute.
Lights fade to black.
--END OF ACT I--
Act II, scene i. The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre. The lights come up on ANGIE in her spotlight.
ANGIEWell, it was the shot heard 'round Caliche Springs. The audience was thrilled They couldn't stop talking among themselves--which was just as well because it was several minutes before the play got underway again. Johnson Benneft, who played Unferth, was rushed to the nearest hospital in Austin. He was still alive, but blinded...for a few days, anyway. Martin was fired as the Artistic Director of the theater. And I almost got the ax. I guess the Board of Directors believed me when I said I didn't know Martin had doubled the flash powder, or maybe they knew there wouldn't be anyone else to do all the work. I carried on as usual the following week.
ANGIE's spotlight fades out and the upstage lights come up to show ANGIE at a table talking on the telephone while folding handbills.
ANGIEYou can have the same seat next Thursday night, Mrs. Hollander. You can't...or the following Saturday...I see. How about a trade then? These tickets in exchange for opening night tickets for "The Battle of Caliche Springs"?...kind of a western...Yes, about Caliche Springs...Well, yes, you can do that too...Okay, I'll put you down for a full refund.
NORM enters and sneaks up behind her.
ANGIENo, it's perfectly all right...Good-bye. (hangs up, dials another number, goes back to folding fliers) Hello? Mr. Goodman? I'm sorry. Is your mommy or daddy there?...Oh yes, I watch "Barney" too...Is your daddy or mommy there? They don't know me. I'm a stranger. Hello? Hello?
ANGIE hangs up to try again. NORM kisses her on the back of the neck.
ANGIEI sure hope that's Norman...
NORM kneels and kisses her hand.
ANGIEI wouldst if I couldst, but I can'tst--if that was ever a word.
JULIA NOVOTNY enters from behind them.
JULIAHow cozy...I thought I saw your baby blue Harley parked here, Normie.
ANGIERehearsals don't start until next Monday.
JULIAI know when rehearsals start, Angie...Gee, give her one little part and she thinks she's a star...No, what I'm here about is that I had a little car trouble a couple of blocks back...and I wonder, Norman, if you could give me a lift to the cafe. I was on my lunch hour.
NORMSure thing...Later, Angie. (kisses her forehead)
NORM and JULIA exit. JULIA speaks to NORM, but for ANGIE's benefit, as they go.
JULIAMaybe you could look at it later...The car, that is. (exits)
ANGIE goes back to folding and stapling, and reaches for the telephone again. Two men in cowboy hats pulled down over their faces enter together. All their movements are mirror images of one another.
BILLY BOBYou the die-rector?
BOBBY BILLWhere's she at?
BILLY BOBWe ain't here for no play actin'.
BOBBY BILLWe want to talk to that die-rector woman about what she wrote.
ANGIEMaybe you can talk to her at rehearsal sometime.
BILLY BOBWhen's that?
BOBBY BILLAnd where's that?
ANGIEHere, starting next week.
BILLY BOBJust tell her Billy Bob--
BOBBY BILLAnd Bobby Bill Taylor--
BILLY BOBTell her we want to talk to her about our great-great-grandma's granddaddy's play....Come on, Bobby Bill.
BOBBY BILLComin', Billy Bob. Thank ya, Ma'am.
BILLY BOB and BOBBY BILL exit like the pair of walking bookends they are. The lights fade to black on the upstage area as ANGIE's spotlight comes up again.
Act II, scene ii.
ANGIEAnd so, history lovers, the stage was set for the big battle. On one side you had Professor Helen Wurtz and her honest band of thespians...On the other side, you had the considerable muscle--if only in the brains--of the Taylor twins. Beyond them were the elite Daughters of the Battle of Caliche Springs. And looming above it all was the founder and financial backbone of the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre, Miss Lila Sue MacNaughton-Taylor. But spirits remained high and there was time enough for miracles.
ANGIE's spotlight fades out as the upstage lights come up on the first rehearsal of "The Battle of Caliche Springs". The cast is seated around a long table, their scripts before them. HELEN sits at one end. DOUG BOYLES is standing with a newspaper clipping in one hand. JULIA NOVOTNY is missing.
DOUGWant to hear Bernard Michaels' review of "Captain Healfdene's Return"?
HELENI' m sure we could use a laugh.
ANGIE punches him in the shoulder playfully.
NORMOw! Watch the sunburn.
ANGIEHow you got such a burn on one Sunday, I'll never know.
NORMI told you. I had my shirt off working on my Harley and lost track of the time.
DOUGUh-hem! To continue, "The Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre's production brought a Twentieth Century post-Freudian punch to this Nineteenth Century staple of the now-extinct Jute bardic tradition, which had peaked with 'Beowulf' more than a millennium earlier.
MARTHAHow he does go on.
ANGIESo far, it's almost word for word from the press release I sent him.
HELENIt wasn't that bad.
MARTHAWhen will he leave that poor woman alone?
ANGIEHe got that from Martin.
DOUGIt concludes, "Performances of 'Captain Healfdene's Return' are, unfortunately, canceled until further notice due to unforeseen technical difficulties."
NORMGuess who's Martin's best friend?
MARTHAYou got that right.
HELENForging right ahead...Everyone, check to be sure there aren't any pages missing from your scripts.
JULIA enters. She is wearing a brief halter top and short denim cutoffs. She has a sunburn like NORM's from head to toe. She seems to be in pain from the burn.
JULIAHave I missed anything?
DOUGMan, there seems to be an epidemic of bad tans lately.
JULIAWell, if you must know, I spent Sunday with a friend at Hippie Hollow.
NORM avoids ANGIE's searing glance.
HELENThat nudist cove on Lake Travis?
ANGIE moves to another chair.
JULIACall me "Julia".
HELENJulia, I hope you don't intend to make a habit of this sort of thing. We have a lot of work ahead of us.
JULIACall me "Ms. Novotny". What sort of thing?
HELENWell, being twenty minutes late, for one thing.
JULIAYou'll get used to it.
HELENI don't think so.
ANGIE and MARTHAOooooo...
HELENDon't think you can't be replaced.
JULIAOh yes? Who with?
HELENAlmost anyone, actually. You're audition wasn't that good. You just had a long resume'.
JULIAI'd like to see you try to replace me.
HELENMs. Parker and Ms. Squires I can do without the pep squad.
JULIAI dare you.
HELENDone. Angela Squires?
HELENDo you think you can handle the role of "Elizabeth MacNaughton"?
HELENYou've got it.
ANGIE and MARTHA, bouncing up and down in their chairs.
JULIAYou can't be serious. That little...grunt? Well, you haven't won yet. I'm a favorite of the Taylors and the MacNaughtons. They run this town and they own this theater. We'll just see what they have to say about all this!
As JULIA exits, she passes JOHNSON BENNETT. He is wearing dark sunglasses and walking carefully. JULIA hardly notices him.
JULIAOh, hi Johnson. (exits)
Everyone else, however, is happy to see him doing well. They stand and welcome him enthusiastically.
JOHNSWhere is she off to?
NORMHow's it going, dude?
DOUGLet's hear it for the Johnster! Hip hip!
Everyone applauds wildly.
HELENWelcome to the land of the living, Mr. Bennett. Your sight must be improving.
JOHNSI drove over here.
MARTHA goes to him and puts her arm around him.
MARTHAWe're proud of you.
NORMWay to go.
HELENCan you see well enough to read?
JOHNSI think so. Just let me go into the dressing room and put in my eyedrops.
HELENCertainly. We'll get underway without you.
JOHNSON exits to the dressing room.
HELEN: Very well, everyone...Act One, Scene one. Angie?
HELENSomething like that.
Then from the dressing room comes a cry of despair.
JOHNS (offstage)Oh my God!
Everyone runs toward the dressing room. JOHNSON appears at the edge of the stage, his sunglasses on his head, and something strange about his face.
JOHNSLook at me! I have no eyebrows! (weeps into his cupped hands) I don't have any eyebrows!...
JOHNSON uncovers his face. We see he has no eyebrows. The stage lights fade once more and the downstage spotlight comes up to reveal ANGIE.
Act II, scene iii.
ANGIESometimes life is just one tragedy after another...Well, somehow life went on. Johnson was back at rehearsals and back as well to finish the run of "Captain Healfdene's Return"--with eyebrows painted on. (pause) "Bette Davis eyes" (chuckles) Rehearsals went along without a hitch. I wondered what happened to Julia's threats. .No one came by to interfere at all. Of course, I did hear that Julia's sunburn made her physically ill for more than a week. The only thing that didn't run smooth was "the course of true love". I would have nothing to do with NORM after that. history has shown us men just can't be trusted,..Finally, the big day came. I was going to star in my first big play. Nothing could spoil that day. Not even the downpour of rain which had been constant for a week-- not even the rumblings from the reserved rows for the Daughters of the Battle of Caliche Springs as Ezekiel MacNaughton's less-than-savory character unfolded before them; nothing could spoil my triumph.
ANGIE's spotlight goes out and the upstage area is decorated as a prairie when the lights come up. NORM and ANGIE are on stage. It is the end of the scene where MARGARET and GEORGE PICKET escape the clutches of the MacNaughtons.
They look around a while and then exit. On the other side of the stage, the Pickets are hiding in the brush. They emerge when the coast is clear.
GEORGEWe best make our way back to Mexico City. Even the Comanche country is safer than here.
MARGARETThe baby won't wait, George. We gotta find us a cool stream and just hope we don't find nothin' meaner than a scorpion or a rattlesnake.
GEORGEThe creek's that away. It ain't far. So hang on.
GEORGE holds MARGARET around the waist and helps her offstage in the opposite direction of the MacNaughtons' exit. The lights fade out on the stage and come up on ANGIE's spotlight. ANGIE is in costume waiting for a cue. NORM passes in front of her on his way to the stage.
NORMGood crowd for this weather.
NORMIt hasn't rained like this since the Flood of '25, or so the newspapers say.
ANGIEThat's what they say.
NORM:Angie, give me a chance. These last few weeks I've realized its you I need.
ANGIEWhich old movie musical did that line come from?
ANGIEYou're on. Go.
NORM exits the spotlight area. ANGIE remains behind, waiting for her cue. BOBBY BILL and BILLY BOB enter behind her. Followed by JULIA.
JULIAAngie, you remember the Taylor twins, don't you? They want to see the show up close and personal. I told them you wouldn't mind. Ta ta.
BILLY BOBHowdy, Ma'am.
BILLY BOBIt's all right, I guess.
BOBBY BILLI guess.
BILLY BOBI guess that's how it was back then.
BOBBY BILLIt bein' slave times and all, ol' Ezekiel done the right thing.
BILLY BOBI reckon.
ANGIEYou...uh think so? (holds out her hand) Wonderful. The roof is leaking.
BOBBY BILLHe'll get 'em back.
BILLY BOBIt's only right.
ANGIEI'm sorry, but I have to go. It's been fun, though.
BILLY BOBWe understand, Ma'am. (holds out hand to feel leak from ceiling)
BILLY BOBGo to 'er. And watch out for the puddle on the floor.
ANGIE exits the spotlight area and enters the upstage prairie set, whose lights come up while the spotlight goes out. ANGIE plays ELIZABETH searching for EZEKIEL.
ELIZABETHZeke! Zeke! The Indian agent is up to the cabin! He's got a deal for ya! Zeke!
ANGIE exits. NORM enters from the other way as EZEKIEL. He is escorting DORI, as LITTLE SQUIRREL, trying to get her to drink whisky from a bottle in his hand.
EZEKIELJust a sip, Little Squirrel. It won't hurt ya none.
LITTLE SQUIRREL tries to escape, but EZEKIEL holds on tighter. She squeals, but he puts his hand over her mouth.
EZEKIELYou tell 'im I'll he there die-recly! I'm negotiatin' with the tribe right now!
The stage lights go down as the spotlight comes up on ANGIE, BILLY BOB and BOBBY BILL.
ELIZABETHI'll tell 'im, Zeke!
BOBBY BILLLet me see.
BILLY BOBThat ain't right. Ol' Zeke wouldn't do nothin' like that.
BOBBY BILLI'm goin' out there, Billy Bob.
I'm with you, Bobby Bill.
BOBBY BILLCome on, brother.
The spotlight goes out and the upstage lights come up on EZEKIEL groping LITTLE SQUIRREL. THE TAYLOR TWINS break onto the stage.
HELEN WURTZ runs onto the stage.
HELENGentlemen, please! (slips on the wet floor a little) Please.
The TAYLOR TWINS are about to gang up on NORM when ANGIE enters and jumps between NORM and them.
ANGIEDon't you touch him!
ANGIE embraces NORM, and a shrill voice is heard from the audience. It is MISS LILA SUE MACNAUGHTON- TAYLOR.
MISS LILA SUEJust stop that! (staggers to her feet) That's enough of that, cowboy! (feels for water dripping from the ceiling, opens umbrella she was using for a cane) Now I mean it! (enters stage from the audience) Billy Bob and Bobby Bill, is it?
MISS LILA SUEUnhand that young man!... And you left out a "great".
TWINSYessam, Great-great Gramma!
The TWINS let NORM go, and MISS LILA SUE turns to address the audience.
MISS LILA SUEAnd you, you snooty Daughters of the Battle of Caliche Springs, who has a better right than me to be a daughter of Caliche Springs? Do you see me frettin' and ravin' about how these young folks are portrayin' my grandpappy? No, you don't. Know why?...Just who do you think has been workin' with this Wurtz girl to write the truth? Yes, the truth. My grandpappy Zeke was a real scoundrel. There's no denyin' that. So was my daddy, God rest him. It was dog-eat-dog in those days! And Grandpappy Zeke was the dirtiest dog of them all! That's a fact! You wanted history, you got history! Now shut up, everybody, and watch the show!...Helen?
HELENOkay, mop up the puddles and take it from the top of Act Two, everyone!
MISS LILA SUE
MISS LILA SUE moves to spotlight area, but as the TWINS approach their living ancestor, the constant rumble of thunder becomes deafening. All lights fade out except the spotlight. There is a great crash and the loud sound of rushing water. We see MISS LILA SUE frozen in fright while the sound of rushing water surges. The spotlight fades out for the last time and the stage lights come up on ANGIE alone with the debris of the Caliche Springs Dinner Theatre around her.
ANGIEAlmost all of Caliche Springs and much of the populations of Sturdley, Marshall Ford, and Jollyville turned up to pay their respects to Miss Lila Sue MacNaughton-Taylor.
Some people said it was the way she would have wanted to go: in the theater, dramatically. I suspect, though, she would rather have lived to be a hundred and six or more. And, as for the rest of us...Johnson's eyebrows grew back, Dori "Little Squirrel" Bell is co-starring in the new Matthew McConaughey movie, Martin is directing Jurassic Park, The Musical, at Zachary Scott Theater. I hear it's quite...visceral. And Julia...Who cares?...Me, I got a real job. Okay, so I'm with a temporary agency in Austin...I'm back to riding tandem on Norm's Harley. He tells people the fingerprints on his kidneys are tattoos. Well, that's the history of the Caliche Springs Dinner Theater...And that's show business.