March People’s Choice Award

The people have spoken… The March People’s Choice Award goes to Maury Zeff for his short play, Come and Knock on Our Door, presented as a staged reading at the Monday Night PlayGround WomenArts Night on March 20 at Berkeley Rep. Congratulations, Maury!

Courtesy of Mr. Zeff, we’re pleased to share the first two pages from the award-winning script. Enjoy!

 

COME AND KNOCK ON OUR DOOR

by Maury Zeff

Cast in Order of Appearance:
JANET WOOD – Female – 20s or 30s – White, brunette – Three’s Company sitcom character. Sensible, sweet, level-headed, reliable foil to her ditzy blonde roommate’s antics. Secretly, she’s sick to death of the so-called “liberation” of the 1970s, with its free love, but same-old same-old sexism of earlier decades. After three years of living with Jack Tripper, she’s feeling the first stirrings of her feminist identity. All she needs is a kindred spirit to help her see that women’s rights aren’t just about equal rights, but also equal dignity.
JACK TRIPPER – Male – 20s or 30s – White, brown hair – Three’s Company sitcom character. Goofy, clumsy, charismatic, and deeply sexist. Every time he makes a dumb pun or sexist comment, he hams it up. (If you watch original episodes of the show on Youtube, you will see that this is not an exaggerated version of Jack Tripper. The show was a toxic stew of leering men, women equating their self-worth with how attractive those men found them, and date rape jokes.) To the women’s liberation movement, Jack Tripper is the antichrist—a ‘nice’ guy who lives blissfully and blithely in a world of objectification and gender stereotyping. He is about to get a new roommate who will change all that.
GLORIA STEINEM – Female – 40s – White – Founder of Ms., icon of feminism, and a distant cousin of Chrissy Snow, Janet and Jack’s former roommate. She is in LA for a few months to teach a women studies seminar at UCLA. During Chrissy’s absence, Gloria is subletting her cousin’s apartment. When faced with sexism, Gloria keeps her cool, meeting it with dignity and well-reasoned logic.
SHIRLEY CHISHOLM – Female – 50s – Black – The first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination. Frustrated with the slow implementation and spotty enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, which forbids housing discrimination by landlords, she has organized women and minorities to collectively purchase apartment buildings that have a history of such discriminatory practices. Shirley has become Janet, Jack, and Gloria’s new landlord. Educated during her formative years in Barbados, she still carries the crisp, clipped accent of this former British colony along with a mild West Indies musicality to her speech. When faced with sexism and racism, keeps her cool, meeting it with humor, dignity, and warmth.
NOTE ABOUT CLOTHING: This is Santa Monica, 1980. Characters dress and adorn their hair accordingly.
NOTE ABOUT LAUGH TRACK: There is none. This is the universe within the show Three’s Company, not the set of the show itself.

 

(Lights are down. The first twenty-three seconds of the theme song from the 1970s television show “Three’s Company” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TjDgcqa_H0] begins to play. At fifteen seconds, the song drops from normal speed to half-speed, indicating that we are in some sort of fever-dream, distorted parallel universe. [Within Youtube, the song’s speed can be dropped mid-playback.] Lights go up.)

Setting: The living room from the 1970s sitcom “Three’s Company.”

(Janet is on the phone. This being 1980, she should ideally have some sort of vintage phone with a curly cord. As she talks, the sound of an electric mixer is heard going on and off, as if it is running out of power.)

JANET

(pacing back and forth, to the extent of the phone cord’s length)

I hope she feels better soon, Chrissy. Your mom is lucky to have you. [BEAT] Jack and I would love that. If she’s your cousin, I’m sure she’s as sweet as you. [BEAT] What’s that? [BEAT] Oh…well, even if she’s only half as sweet as you, that’s still plenty sweet. [BEAT] Okay. [BEAT] You know, ten percent as sweet as you would still be pretty sweet. [BEAT] I see. [BEAT] Well, I’m sure she’s a nice girl. [BEAT] Don’t call her a girl? Under any circumstances? [BEAT] And nice implies that she has accepted her subservient role in the white male patriarchy? I’m sorry, Chrissy. I-I don’t know what that means. [BEAT] Got it. She’s ‘a strong, independent woman.’ [sarcastically] Just Jack’s type. [BEAT] Don’t worry. We’ll make her feel welcome. [BEAT] Okay, sweetie. Send my love to your mom. Bye.

(Janet hangs up the phone and looks contemplative. JACK enters, wearing an apron and stirring a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl. He stumbles and falls to the floor in a slapstick manner, but JANET grabs the bowl from him mid-pratfall, before he hits the ground.)

JACK

I can always count on you, Janet.

JANET

What was all that noise?

JACK

I’ve entered a soufflé-baking contest. And my hand mixer is dying. I need two D batteries. You don’t…?

            (JANET gives him exasperated look as he leers at her chest. JACK looks dejected.)

JACK

No, I guess you don’t have double D’s. [BEAT] Too bad Chrissy is away.

(JACK looks at the audience and gives a cheesy grin, as if hamming for the camera.)

JANET

You know, Jack. It is 1980. Now that we’re in a new decade, you may want to rein it in a bit.

JACK

Why? The eighties are gonna be just like the seventies, only more.

JANET

More what?

JACK

More wild parties. More hot tubs. More disco infernos. More foxy mamas! I assure you, nothing

is going to stop the free love movement from turning into a complete free-for-all in the 1980s.

JANET

(quietly)

More male chauvinism.

JACK

What was that?

 (JANET is silent for a beat, looks at JACK with annoyance.)

JANET

Nothing. [BEAT] Oh, we’re getting a new roommate.

JACK

Really?

JANET

While Chrissy is in Fresno taking care of her mom, her cousin is coming to sublet her room.

JACK

Ooh, Missy! She has many talents. [tracing an hourglass figure in the air with his fingers] Two,

in particular.

JANET

Do you ever think that comments like that are maybe a little insensitive?

———–

Join us April 3, 2017 for the PlayGround Benefit & Awards Night to celebrate this year’s Emerging Playwright Award winners! For tickets and information, visit http://playground-sf.org/benefit.