Credits

by Andre N Jones 2 months ago

The Absurd Lust to be Accepted

Credits

CREDITS

by

Andre N. Jones

CHARACTERS

Andre African-American Male 40s. Personable.

Charming. Principled. Driven by logic.

Academia A large commanding voice. Rigid.

Inflexible. Uncaring.

SETTING

Anywhere

TIME

Now.

ACT I

Scene 1 Here. Now.

Begin

(A single chair, sits alone on

stage in dim light.)

(We hear an assortment of sounds. The

opening music from Pacman followed by

the sound of registering one credit to

play, electric static of internet

connection, and voices are heard. A

customer service rep for a credit card

company, a college admissions rep, The

Facebook, messenger sounder all play

together as a a cacophony of noise, as

a man, ANDRE, enters. He stands by the

chair blank faced until the sounds die

off into a deafening silence. he

stares out. Long pause. ACADEMIA,

speaks as Andre continues to stare

out.)

ACADEMIA (V.O.)

A black man in whiteface? What does that look like?

(Pause)

ANDRE

A black man in whiteface!

ACADEMIA (V.O.)

You won't be able to put that in front of a commercial

audience.

ANDRE

Bu–

ACADEMIA (V.O.)

If you write the way I tell you to, you can have your

play produced at Interact Theatre, next year.

(Pause)

ANDRE (Sings)

Every time I move I lose/

When I look I'm in/

Every time I turn around/

I'm back in love again/

(He chuckles. Speaks to us.)

That was just a snippet of the kind of stuff that was

said to me in Grad school... Yeah, Grad school. We're

not talkin' bout someone who has no education. We're not

talkin' bout a fresh outta high school kid. I'm talkin'

bout this is nineteen years of marriage, four children

and takin' on the burden of debt to advance and enhance

my professional skill set during an economic downturn

later... And I mean, it sticks in my crawl, cause the

assumption is that you know nothing... And I ponder

this, you know? The very point of going to Grad

school is to prepare to be... more professional,

right? So by that logic, doesn't that suggest that I

had to have brought something—some knowledge—some

wisdom—some experience to the table? I don't know.

I'm just sayin, it would seem that a man with a job, a

wife and four children is not only busy, but he has

something to offer—and shouldn't be made to feel

inadequate, or small in any way... Right?

(Shakes his head.)

There's a system in place. And, it doesn't matter

where you are in your development—notice I said your

development. They don't care. Everybody has to go

through the system.

(Lights shift dim.)

ACADEMIA (V.O.)

Individual thought breeds chaos.

ANDRE

What?

ACADEMIA (V.O.)

All students must learn this way.

ANDRE

What?

ACADEMIA (V.O.)

Conformity is required.

(Lights shift back.)

ANDRE

All right, now I know that you can pull the wool over

the eyes of a twenty year old. Hell, there might be

some thirty year olds that you can do that to. But

I'm in my forties... And I'm a Playwright, right?

(Pause)

Independent thought is what we do! That's why we

write plays. Because we have a point of view... I

mean, you can't teach anybody how to write. In fact,

that's one of the first things they tell you when you

come to class.

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

No one can teach you how to write. We're just here to

give you tools to help you enhance your craft.

ANDRE

So I'm like, cool, you know? This is the place for

me, right? And, I'm not interested in playin' nice,

puttin' my nose in anybody's rear end or playin' some

psychological video game...

(We hear the theme music for Super Mario

Bros. Andre begins to hop like the

character Mario.)

Boy was I wrong.

(Music transitions into the end of a

turn music.)

I mean, I remember one of the first classes I took,

was a class called Solo Performance. Basically we

were challenged to write a one person show.

(Pause)

Shocking that I'm doing this now, right? Anyway, we

were challenged to have a finished first draft of a

one person show by the end of the semester. And, we

were expected to have someone read it or read it

ourselves on the last day of class. So, every week we

would bring in five maybe six pages to read in class,

right? So one week I bring in this scene where the

main character, who is a black detective, goes to a

meeting with his Captain. A white, Irish policeman in

South Philly. And while I'm in the middle of the

scene my professor says...

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

You don't want to write stereotypes!

(Pause. Andre looks at us

questioning.)

ANDRE

Like that, all snarky and rude. And I'm like, what?

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

You don't want to write stereotypes!

(Andre shakes his head.)

ANDRE

Just about all the plays I've read by white folks that

have black characters in them, those characters are

stereotypes—Television and film make a killing from

writing stereotypes!

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

Audiences get really annoyed when you write

stereotypes.

ANDRE

You're right. Black people have been screaming that

for years. But, it hasn't stopped us from being

portrayed as maids, butlers, thieves, thugs and

hoodlums—or drunks who never grew up and waste money or

I know let's make the black guy a rape suspect in

this innocent white angel's trial.

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

And all white people are racist, right?

ANDRE

Who said that?

(Pause. Andre turns to us.)

From that day on the struggle was real. I mean, that

professor, wooo! He had a problem with me! But what

was I supposed to do? I'm writing from my experience

and you're gonna tell me that my experience is

stereotypical, right?

(Andre shakes his head.)

What happened to nobody can teach you how to write?

(He chuckles.)

And I'm paying for this now. One thousand dollars per

credit. And I have to complete sixty credits. Fifty

three of them are all in my major. Playwriting I, II,

III, IV, Projects in Playwriting, Research, Seminar in

Dramatic Literature I and II etcetera etcetera. You

have five years to complete three years worth of

credits. You complete said credits and the University

awards you with a Master of Fine Arts Degree. Pretty

cut and dry, right?

(Pause.)

Nope! It's a crazy game. So, I pass my first

semester taking six credits with an A in Playwriting

II and an A- in Solo Performance... Yeah, when I read

the play in class that professor was beside himself—I

mean tickled pink at what he heard, but because I

challenged him in class, he couldn't bring himself to

just give me an A... Not to mention that there were

several people in the class that hadn't finished their

plays and still got As. I had come to find out that,

that would be par for the course.

(Pause.)

I go through two more semesters, and I increased my

work load. I mean, I gotta get these credits out the

way, ya mean? Now the aim for each of these classes

was to get a finished first draft of whatever you were

writing. That goal was easy to me. I mean, I'm

writing everyday just letting the world touch me, and

then spilling it out on the page, you know? And in my

third semester I took a class called Docudrama. Now

this was fascinating, because I had to find a criminal

case. Research it. And write a first draft of a play

based on the material. So, I'm going to class each

week—and I had developed a method of writing where I

would write the beginning scene, and once I finished

it, I'd immediately write the end scene, and then I'd write

the crucial scene—the point of no return. And then I

write the middle. And I'm doing all these exercises

in class like writing a departure scene, writing a

home coming scene, writing a scene where someone

teaches someone else something blah blah blah. And

I'm getting great feedback on what I'm doing, you

know? And, I'm combining imagined scenes with the

source material to make the play my own, you know?

So, I finish my first draft by spring break and I turn

it in, right?

(Pause.)

Why I do that? After break my professor meets with me

and he says...

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

You said this play was about how black and poor people

are looked at as disposable.

ANDRE

Yes.

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

This play is about corruption.

ANDRE

Yes.

ACADEMIA(V.O.)

What does corruption have to do with disposability?

(Pause. Andre speaks to us.)

ANDRE

I was like, you're kidding me right? The arrogance of

the corrupt—and their carefree attitude toward those

whom they see themselves as better than—makes the

black and the poor—who rarely get justice—feel

disposable! What do I do, right? I've got four weeks left in the

semester, right? If I stand pat I already know my

grade will suffer—even though I finished the draft,

right? But I know that I can write, because he never

said it wasn't good. He just said I didn't hit the

target I set out to hit. Okay, so I challenged myself

to write another draft in four weeks. And I did it.

I wrote my play, Dusting, which I took down to the DC

Black Theater Festival that summer. And I wrote his

play, Steel, which was just from the source material.

And don't you know, he had the nerve to give me a B+!

Then I go to end of semester meeting, and he and the

other professor basically tell me that I can't write.

But Dusting is a huge success in DC.

(Pause.)

So I had sent some of my work to the Delaware Division

of the Arts for their Emerging Artist Fellowship. And

I purposely sent them work that my professors hadn't

seen. You know, material I had written either before

getting in to Grad School, or stuff I had just written

for me. I said if I get this Fellowship, then I'm

doing something right. But if not, then maybe I need

to listen to what they're telling me at school. And

over that summer I got a letter from the Delaware

Division of the Arts that I got the fellowship. Only

thing was, in order to take the fellowship, I had to

take off for the full year from school, because the

state requires that you not be in school to receive

the award.

(Pause. Andre weighs things on an

imaginary scale.)

I had completed 39 credits. But I was tired of the

games. A year to write uninhibited? Man, give me my

credits. I'll see y'all next year. So, during my

fellowship year, I wrote two new plays, and did

readings for them. I did a full production of one of

my plays called Verbalized Ink. I adapted a short

film from the source material of my docudrama, and

showed it in the fall of that year, and I wrote and

performed a one man show entitled Off. A really

productive year. I mean there are so many other

stories I could tell you. I'm a grown man and playin' this game of highjynx with

people, who are insecure, and have the audacity to be

teaching under the guise of being able to make me more

professional... It's scary. I wanted to quit so many

times—But the only way to beat the game is to earn

each and every one of those credits.

(We hear the completed level music from

SuperMario Bros.)

END

Andre N Jones
Andre N Jones
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