Kate Benson

photo by Brett Beyer photo by Brett Beyer

 

an excerpt from
A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN NOVEMBER ON THE BANKS OF THE GREATEST OF THE GREAT LAKES

 

      Some Things to Keep in Mind:

      This is a play without stage directions.
      There are no props of any kind. (There is nothing to prop up here.)
      It is also not under any circumstances a radio play.
      People are seen.
      There are microphones.
      # and @ call it like they see it.
      No one else sees what they see.

It might be like listening to a baseball game on the radio in the hot sun on a summer afternoon, back in the United States of Baseball’s distant past when the professionals played games during the day and it really mattered.

[ text ] indicates text that should not be read aloud but should be acknowledged in some way.

( text ) indicates text that is spoken quietly, to oneself, sometimes in rebellion.

The pace of this play is professionally fast: Basketball Fast, not Football Slow, or Baseball Inert, because we’re all going to die soon and there is no time to waste.

_______________________________________________________________________

Cast
THE ANNOUNCERS

#
in charge of action. Professional talker, fast-paced and leathery. Wearing professional headphones.

@
in charge of color commentary. Also a professional talker, fast-paced and honey-voiced, also wearing professional headphones.

THE FAMILY
SnapDragon
Matriarch. Blind and Ceremonial. Wearing Blu-Blockers*.

GrandDada
Patriarch. Deaf and Pragmatic. Wearing giant hearing aids.

Trifle
Oldest daughter. Not like Olga.

Cherry Pie
Middle daughter. Not like Masha.

Cheesecake
Youngest daughter. Maybe a little like Irina.

Fred
Trifle’s husband

Ed
Cherry Pie’s husband

Ned
Cheesecake’s husband

Smilesinger
Daughter of Trifle & Fred

Smilesinger’s husband
Husband of Smilesinger

Brainerd
Son of Trifle & Fred. Absent.

Brainerd’s wife
Wife of Brainerd. Absent.

Gumbo
Daughter of Cherry Pie & Ed. Divorced.

The Twins
Sons of Cherry Pie & Ed

Wives of the Twins
Wives of the Twins. Nothing alike.

Runner
Son of Cheesecake & Ned. Single Parent.

Republican
Son of Cheesecake & Ned

Republican’s wife
Wife of Republican. Weirdo.

Trainer
Daughter of Cheesecake & Ned

Trainer’s Partner
Partner of Trainer. A survivalist.

GreatGrandBabies
A herd of uncountable babies. Voracious. On liquid diets. None of them belong to Gumbo.

*Blu-blockers: giant sunglasses blocking blue wavelengths of light.

 
THE FIRST QUARTER

@
A fine day

#
Couldn’t be finer

@
Really just

#
a fine day!

@
yes a fine, fine day

#
A fine day in November

@
Crisp

#
Almost chilly

@
But not yet precisely cold

#
If you’re going out today
you’ll want a coat

@
You’ll be glad you have
your coat

#
It’s a day for gladness!

@
A fine day for gladness

#
Gratitude.

@
Gratitude and Gladness

#
Yes Gratitude and Gladness

@
A beautiful day here on the shores of the Great Lakes

#
And here’s Cheesecake
moving from the hall closet
down the hall
into the dining room

@
Cheesecake
The youngest of the three

#
She’s carrying
What’s that she’s got in her hands
Lace
White lace
Oh yes
She’s carrying the tablecloth

@
That’s her grandmother’s tablecloth

#
A tradition here at Wembly

@
Lace tatted by Verdigris
Cheesecake’s Great Grandmother
And stitched into the tablecloth by
Cheesecake’s grandmother Ladyfingers
When Ladyfingers was a girl of 6
A family heirloom passed down
Through the generations

#
And here come
Cherry Pie and
Trifle
up the back
stairs

@
Cherry Pie and
Trifle
Carrying half
of another family heirloom

CHERRY PIE
Here we come with the table!

TRIFLE
Half of the table
ooo careful

@
That would be:
the Round Table
A Table designed and built by Grandada

CHEESECAKE
Oh good I was just getting the tablecloth
Out of the hall closet

#
Cherry Pie and Trifle
Set down one half of the
table top,
a rough-hewn half moon

CHERRY PIE
The other half is
in the stairwell

@
The Round Table is not
strictly speaking a table
But a table top
In two pieces
Fit together
Each piece a half-circle
Screwed into some
Temporary Wooden Legs

TRIFLE
Back in a jiffy!

#
For those of you
just joining us
The Round Table
is arriving now
here at Wembly
It’s going to be
a special day

@
Yes the Round Table
is reserved for only the specialist
of Special Days
The Round Table itself
Designed according to
the specifications
Of the room
How large can the table be
while still leaving space
for chairs

In fact
yes
yes
I think

Research
I think we have specs
yes
yes
here they are

#
Here come the specs!

@
The specs
The dimensions of the room
sixteen feet by twelve feet
so we’ve got
a table whose
diameter can’t exceed
8 feet
the average human
rounder American
requiring at least 2 feet
of personal space between
the table and the wall

#
Trifle and Cherry Pie
returning with the second half

CHEESECAKE
ooo careful

@
beginning now to assemble
the Round Table Top

#
Lifting the first half
Will they find the center

@
It’s very important here
That the seam of the table
is resting on the center
of the table
Cherry Pie and Trifle
Are going to want to be sure
The table is centered

#
And here they are
Centering the table

@
An off-centered table can
spell disaster on a
day like today
All it takes is one stray
pair of elbows
leaning too hard
on the edge of the table
and Surprise!

#
Oh ho ho
that would not be good

@
Like a catapault!

#
How the sweet potatoes
would fly!

CHERRY PIE
I think it’s more toward
Cheesecake

CHEESECAKE
No no
I think
turn it

TRIFLE
No don’t turn it

CHERRY PIE
push it a smidge

#
The center line proving elusive

@
There are lots of
center lines
in fact

#
What’s that

@
Infinitely many lines that
pass through the center

#
Trying to find the center

@
The center’s a point

#
(That’s not relevant)

@
(But it’s true)

CHEESECAKE
More to the left

#
The eyeballing continues

CHERRY PIE
Like this?

TRIFLE
No over this way
just a smidge

CHERRY PIE
Enough?

CHEESECAKE
A titch more

@
It’s a delicate undertaking
A wobbly table could
spoil the whole affair
It doesn’t make things easier that
the entire team
suffers from OCD

#
Oh and
Do they ever!

@
OCD referring here
to Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder
Going a long way to
explaining the origin
of the Round Table Ritual
in the first place

CHERRY PIE
I think a titch to the right

TRIFLE
No I think you had it

#
The OCD is a strong flavor
In this family brew

@
Grandada dreamt up the
Round Table after the
Christmas Dinner of 1979
When the family had to be
divided between the Living Room
and the Dining Room
Leaving the Kids Alone
With their own
gravy boat
on the table

#
The Gravy Boat Episode of 1979!

@
The year of the Blizzard

CHERRY PIE
Just rejigger it
a little

#
Yes 1979
The Year of the Blizzard
The Year of the Gravy Boat
A disastrous move
on the part of SnapDragon

TRIFLE
No
too far

#
The Wall Paper was never the same again
As after the Gravy Boat Episode of 1979

@
The 1970’s: a decade
when it may be said
No one was Watching
The Kids

#
Oh the bygone days of yesteryear

CHERRY PIE
Screw gun?
And put up the legs

#
The table top now resting
on the top of Cheesecake’s
mahogany dining table
an heirloom from
Ned’s mother Enid

TRIFLE
This leg goes here?

CHEESECAKE
Filp it around

TRIFLE
Filp?

CHEESECAKE
Flip flip
Flip it around

CHERRY PIE
[tooth suck]

#
Trifle now turning the leg
upside down

CHERRY PIE
No the other way

#
Trifle now turning it over again

CHERRY PIE
The other way

TRIFLE
But you just said

CHERRY PIE
No the other way

CHEESECAKE
Inward
Turn it inward

TRIFLE
Like this
But then the holes
don’t line up

@
Trifle referring here to
the holes drilled by Grandada
the first time
the table was assembled
in 1980

#
The holes for the screws
to attach
the table top to the
extra supporting
legs

@
(I think that was clear)

#
(Oh well I wasn’t sure)

@
[inaudible]

#
(look it’s not a big deal)

CHERRY PIE
Line it up with the
just follow the
just match up the
holes

#
Cherry Pie going to get
the screw gun

TRIFLE
I did
match
follow
I did

CHEESECAKE
No

TRIFLE
I did

CHEESECAKE
No
You want
it’s physics
stable is further
from the center

TRIFLE
Oh it’s physics?
(I’m the mathem
don’t tell me
physics
just don’t)

@
Trifle here getting
her
getting her
nose out of joint

CHEESECAKE
you want the
legs to be far
from the center

TRIFLE
Well I know that’s
how I would make it
but Dad made it
And how do I know
What he picked

@
Referring here to Grandada
Grandada who was a
Mechanical Engineer
A pilot in the war
who ended up
designing lift trucks
after the war
when Snapdragon
asked him
not to fly

#
Cherry Pie coming in
with the screw gun

CHERRY PIE
Like this.
see
easy

#
Cherry Pie turning the leg
matching it to the holes and
now she’s taking the screw gun
she’s got the screw gun

CHERRY PIE
Cheesecake
hand me those

#
Cherry Pie
asking for the
wood screws

@
And the whirrrr of the
screw gun

#
and the first leg
Yes it is
the first leg is attached

@
Well I must say
It’s all starting to
come together
Here at Wembly
ladies and gentleman

TRIFLE
Why didn’t you just
say that
turn the leg out
you could have said
out
not over

CHEESECAKE
Well now we can
do the rest

CHERRY PIE
Do you think
it’ll be enough room
Cheesecake set out
the plates

TRIFLE
Oh that’s a good
that’s a good idea

CHEESECAKE
I already
They’re on the
the sideboard

#
And Trifle with
an armload
of plates

TRIFLE
How many of us are there

CHERRY PIE
Well there’s Snapdragon
and Grandada

#
And Trifle driving to the hoop
placing 2 plates
one at 12 oclock
one at 6
Cherry Pie with the assist

CHEESECAKE
But they’ll want to sit
next to each other
you know how they are

TRIFLE
It’s physics

CHERRY PIE
[laughs]

#
A snap and a crackle
here at Wembly
Ladies and Gentleman…

_______________________________________________________________________

KATE BENSON is a writer and actor living in Brooklyn. Her plays include A Beautiful Day in November on the Banks of the Greatest of the Great Lakes, produced by New Georges in 2014, [PORTO], Lee Miller, and Radium Now. She is a member of the Jam at New Georges and the 2014-15 Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, and she is a graduate of the Brooklyn College MFA Playwriting program. Kate is the recipient of the Clubbed Thumb Biennial Commission and has had readings and showings of her work at Dixon Place, 13th St. Theater, Jimmy’s No. 43, and the Room at New Georges. As an actor, she has appeared at the Public, NYTW, the Flea, PS 122, the Incubator, and LaMama.

_______________________________________________________________________

Read an interview with Kate Benson here.

Read the New York Times‘s rave review of GREAT LAKES.

and check here for more info on the 2015 run of GREAT LAKES at City Center Stage II.

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