Vivienne Walshe

vivienne jens garden

 

an excerpt from
THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE

 

CHLOE
…Thrush on the window sill. Be that thing, Dad said cough cough, what you’re looking at, or what you can hear, be that thing and you can disappear. You can go anywhere. Thrush and I soar over trees until he swerves right out of my eye line and I’m back, sweating in my plastic chair.

(Beat)

Stare at a stray pube on the port-a-loo floor. KT for AD Two thousand and four. Fuck you sex rules Donald felches boys on the staffroom floor.

(Beat)

Bad. That’s bad. I’ve got detention with the man. Gravel, gravel. Redhead still here, rubbish duty stabbing at the ground with his head down. Plod plod. I’ve got a date with a bad man.

Donald talks like he’s on radio, as if people care. He says-

Reading skills of an elementary student will not get you very far.

Long pale pen fingering hands. Thank-you, Donald, I do what I can.

Concerned, progress, continually aborted by.

What the? What the? Creepy old man does something weird. Sits back in his chair and nods, like there’s an answer here. Says–

Fine. Don’t care. Then you can end up right where you are. Nowhere.

He’d know. An educated man. Must have felched a whole bunch of them to end up here.

Astonishing thing, you made it this far. What are your plans? If you do pass your exams?

(Beat)

Buy a car.

(Pause)

Can’t read, can’t drive. Can’t walk your way out. It’s a one highway town.

Scrape. Scrape. Scratching his beard, puzzling over me like a crossword. This is bad. Worse than the town before, looks at me like I’m a question mark. I cross my legs really slowly and he sighs. Pompous fuck holds my eye.

(Pause)

My mother will be waiting for me outside. Lie.

Gravel, gravel, someone’s watching my arse, the orbs turn on. Burn. Redhead holds the rubbish stick like a spear.

(Beat)

Odd boy waiting in the car. Window down old tinny jazz crackles from the can. Smiles at me with his eyes. I’ll have you for breakfast little friend.

(She leans forward, into the window.)

You waiting for me?

Lean in the car window like a film.

You Donald’s son?

How did you know, he says.

He ignores you in class, trying too hard to be fair. But he was, he was, a perfect gentleman in there. Came on my tits and not in my hair.

Pause. Pause. Pause. Odd boy glances ahead like I’m not there. Then he laughs at some private thought.

(CHRIS appears on stage.)

What do you people do around here? In this town? Bucket bongs. Donuts down the back paddock. But they mean well.

CHRIS
They do

CHLOE
He says.

CHRIS
Except him.

CHLOE
Swivel, clock the Redhead.

CHRIS
He’s an evil fucker. He does not mean well. Not by anything that slithers, not by anything that walks on God’s green heaven on earth. But apart from Kevin. The others mean well.

CHLOE
Kevin holds the stick like a gun. I hope I don’t end up with that one.

(Beat)

CHRIS
So do I.

CHLOE
Stare stare stare. Odd family, odd as hell. Too pale for people round here. City pale. But thoughtful. Crunch, crunch I hit the gravel follow lorry’s down the highway home. Imagine I’m the lead actress in the world’s longest film.

CHRIS
Bombshell. Deluxe. Delectable. Devine. Chloe from the underworld arrived. A porn star’s love child, slight curvature of the spine, the hint of a limp she’s trying to hide.

(Beat)

Scavenger thin, she’s disappearing over the horizon now. I’m in immediate danger of imminent demise. If she’s nice to me twice in a row I’m in, I’m done for.

(Beat)

Limp, limp, limp watch the last of her go. Poor, poor family, polio poor. Too poor for corrective therapy. The first thing I’ll do when we’re in love is buy her a kick arse orthopaedic shoe.

(Pause)

Ridiculous idea. Who the fuck am I? Cock-eyed fool. Most I’ll get to do is beat off into a sock while Kevin gets to finger her in real life.

But if I’m lucky, she’ll be in some kind of personal danger, I can come to her rescue. Cock sucker calm the fuck down. You’ve got acne on your face, neck, back like it fell from the sky. You’ve got plans, a new car, long drives the summer before you say goodbye. You’ve got a future all mapped out for you.

CHLOE
Click. Take a pic of Bill’s tumorous gut on the couch. Click take a pic of yellow toe nails. Click. Got him adjusting his balls.

What’s all this, he says.

School project. Create a montage.

(Beat)

Pad pad pad to my room lock door. Log date log time. It’s February twenty- eight. Second week sweet, we’ve only just arrived here. Second weeks the happy time before it all starts to slide. Cunt starts slurring who leaves all the lights on. Mum starts whispering all the time.

(Beat)

I put glow stars on the ceiling, don’t ask me why. Tick tock. Tick chime. February twenty nine midnight my birthday almost arrives. Think of my Dad cough cough, I’m straining now. I can’t remember what his laugh sounded like. Cry.

(Long pause)

CHLOE
Look at me look at me look at me Mum some kid dive bombs. The whole towns floating in a concrete tub. Mum’s cozzie’s see through, see her thin black line of pubes like an arrow pointing down. Shame. I could just about die.

(Beat)

Clock Odd boy on his own. Clocks me. Puts his book down.

CHLOE
Hello

CHRIS
Hello

CHLOE
Hi.

CHLOE
Stand above him in my two piece works a charm. He tries too hard to

CHRIS
Keep my eyes on her face the whole time. She’s a bomb remember tick tick tick.

(They watch something fly across stage.)

CHLOE
We watch a crow fly like it means something more.

(Beat)

CHLOE
Your Dad do something bad to end up here?

CHRIS
Graffiti on the toilet door, what’s she fishing for?

You mean here here in this shit hole?

She just stares at me now.

He likes it here. He gets left alone. That your Mum over there?

CHLOE
Don’t look at her.

CHRIS
Pause pause pause she puts me on hold. I stare at the pool get my breath back calm down.

CHLOE
He hasn’t slitty glanced me yet. I swivel, let him have a nice long gorge on my arse my wet back.

(CHRIS looks at her, looks away.)

CHRIS
Holy cow.
(Beat)
The capitol of Canada is Ottowa. Stop the erection or your Speedos will blow. Two four six eight Kevin’s at the pool gate.

CHLOE
Clock him from here.

CHRIS
She peels off the gold star on her arm and puts it on the cover of Rimbaud. Break. Don’t break something snaps off and falls. That’s two nice things in a row, counting the first thing she did which was smile. I’m gone. I’m done for. I shatter like the pattern of a screensaver. Pow.

(Beat)

She goes. She’s gone. Mincing with a little jazz in her step, polio dancing with one wayward leg.

(Beat)

Kevin clocks her and slithers, runs his hand through his hair. Damn him. She’s made a beeline for the bad man. I’ll have to come in slow. Be the turtle not the hare. Build trust. Build rapport. (He sighs.) Make friends with her. Oh, man. Then I can be like the brother who wants something more. Sad man, sad boy, you’ll get to witness the world, nothing more. Live an unseen life behind a non-descript door. Die clutching to a grand master plan til the grim reaper arrives, walks right on in. Get your coat, he rasps, you’ve finally pulled.

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VIVIENNE WALSHE is an Australian playwright based in Los Angeles.

This Is Where We Live, inspired by the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, won the prestigious Griffin Theatre Award for 2012, and was produced in 2013 in Sydney at the Griffin Theatre to excellent reviews. It has recently been produced in Bristol, UK and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Last week the play won a Fringe Excellence Award for Best Overall Play in the 2014 New York Fringe Festival, and given an extended run at Soho Playhouse. A production at the State Theatre Company of South Australia will tour in 2015.

Vivienne’s plays include, God’s Last Acre (published by Currency Press Inc.), Birth Nation, and I Shot the Albatross (but I taught it how to land). Awards include the 2003 Malcolm Robertson Award, the inaugural Max Afford Award in 2004, an R.E Ross Trust Award, and she has been the recipient of several Arts Victoria and Australia Council grants.

She has been an Associate Playwright at The Sydney Theatre Company, The Melbourne Theatre Company, and an invited member of the Royal Court Theatre Young Playwright’s Invitation Group in London. She received the Dame Joan Sutherland Scholarship from the America-Australia Association in 2007 and is a YADDO fellow.

Vivienne’s latest play, The Blood in the Suburbs, has just been short-listed for the 2014 Griffin Award.

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