The Sketchbook

Characters:
DAVID: 43 year old man
MARIE: 42 year old woman
(On one end of the stage, a man named DAVID (43), is sitting in between his bookshelf and bed, in his childhood bedroom. His head is in his hands and he is looking down. On the other side of the stage a woman named Marie is sitting in a chair at her desk drawing (age 42), Throughout the play, the lights feature the person who is speaking.
(Forty-three year old man sitting in room, in between book shelf and bed, with hand on his forehead looking down) (When lights go on, he looks up)

DAVID: My mom called me recently, and told me to come over because she missed me and wanted to show me something.Without questioning as to why she wanted me to come, I simply arrived at her door one day and she pulled out a tin box. inside was a picture that I drew in high school. She made me come over, just to tell me that she thought it was a good drawing for a boy my age. At first, I felt like this was a waste of time, but when she mentioned my drawing, it brought back memories of the day I hurt someone, memories of the day I became a bully.
MARIE: I found a sketch I made recently. It was a flimsy piece of newsprint with a face on it. As I sat on my bed and looked at the drawing, I remembered the year in high school that he ripped my sketchbook to pieces. There was this kid. A kid I couldn’t take my eyes off of.
DAVID: So now I am sitting in the nook of my old room, jammed into the sliver of space between my bookshelf and bed. (pause) I have been visiting my mom a lot lately, mainly because it brings back memories of my youth. I am sitting in this particular spot, so that I can think about what I did while I stare at the empty room ahead of me. I am wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea to rip up the pages of her sketchbook. A bully was what I was. A classic bully.
MARIE: I always avoided the bullies, but he wasn’t one of them.
DAVID: Mom always told me jealousy was normal for a kid my age, but the rate at which my jealousy escalated wasn’t. And I knew it. That day I did it, the minute the pages ripped, that half a second it took for her smile to turn into a frown, unfortunately generated the best feeling inside me I had ever had in my life.
MARIE: That day he did it, the minute the pages ripped, that half a second it took for my smile to turn into a frown, surprisingly generated the best feeling inside me I had ever had in my life.
DAVID: Now when I watch typical high school movies about fat red headed bully’s that push wimps over, I see myself. I see my thick stern eyebrows, and thin pale lips taped onto their pasty freckled faces.
Fifty drawings, torn into fourths. Fifty beautiful sketches, blown away by the forceful wind and soaked by the rain puddles.
MARIE: Fifty doodles, torn into fourths, fifty representations of my math class boredom, blown away by the forceful wind. I didn’t mind.
DAVID: She wasn’t too pretty, but what she did have was an aura of perfection. She was the only one in the class that sat strait up in her seat and raised her hand high while making sure to keep her eyes set on the teacher. The rest of us just slouched and groaned.
MARIE: I sat up strait and looked at the teacher, when all I was really doing was thinking about him. And when he looked over at me, I locked my eyes on the teacher and pretended to be listening, so that he wouldn’t ever know that I looked at him.
DAVID: (Growing aggravated, confused) Now I wonder why those petty things bothered me so much. I can’t remember anything that happened during high school. I should, because I’m only forty-three but now I have come to an awful realization that nothing did happen. I spent four years of my life analyzing that girl and coveting her sketchbook.
MARIE: Now as I look back at my life in high school, I can’t seem to remember anything. I guess it was because I spent those four years buried inside that stupid sketchbook.
(Lights turn on to the side of the stage where David is. David gets up and starts aimlessly wandering around his room, looking at his old posters and record collection. Then he tries on his varsity football jacket that was draped over his old desk chair)
DAVID: Everyday after school my senior year, I would sit down with a pen and paper and try to draw something realistic. I even tried to hold my pen the way she did, placing my pointer and middle finger close to the tip of the pen and my thumb resting underneath it, but it always ended with my tearing it up and storming out of my room.
MARIE: I always tried to draw him as realistically as I could, but it always ended up with my tearing the page out of my sketchbook, and starting over.
DAVID: My mother told me I had other talents, but when I asked her to name one, she hesitated…..I guess Marie is some successful artist at some important gallery now…and just take a look at me…(in disgust) I’m a flippen cable guy! I feel as useless as an empty grocery bag. I walk into peoples homes, fix whatever needs to be fixed and leave. Everyday I get these feelings of jealousy. When I go into some ones home, and see their fancy floors and walls, I immediatley look down at my tattered boots and baggy jeans, and feel like breaking every valuable thing I see!
MARIE: My father always told me I was talented. But I knew I wasn’t. I wasn’t an artist or even a sketcher..I WAS A DOODLER FOR GODS SAKE….and the only reason I started keeping a sketchbook in the first place, was to draw him.………Well he’s probably out their somewhere getting what he wants….I can’t imagine he isn’t, having that bold personality.
DAVID: I was just a regular kid, and I wish I stayed that way, because from that day I ripped her sketchbook and on I was known as “The mean kid.” I mean, I didn’t intend to receive that label, ….I know for a fact. (pause) At first I felt as though I had power. I enjoyed seeing the changes in her afterwards. She no longer had that giant yet somehow delicate grin, and her make up was not done as thoroughly. In fact I think she might have stopped wearing make up altogether — maybe cause she knew her tears would smudge it. I then noticed the changes in the way she would act. She began to slouch in class like the rest of us and stared off into the space confined by the dungeon walls of our traditional classroom.
MARIE: After what happened, I liked him even more. I could never figure out why he did it, but the way he looked at me the second after the sketches ripped………. changed me. That was truly a sign that he knew who I was. I stopped trying hard to look good. I stopped making efforts to avoid eye contact with him. I stopped forcing smiles. I just wanted him to know me.
(marie pauses, and david begins to speak)
DAVID: Why does this matter to me so much? It’s my old school back pack, the one I refused to replace even though the zipper didn’t zip. (He unzips the front pocket, laughs,) (Puts his hand in front pocket) All I can feel in this pocket are cookie crumbs, an old breakfast bar wrapper, some playing cards, (pause) loose coins.
(He throws the back pack aside in frustration. Four scraps of paper fly out)
DAVID: Why am I thinking about this? I’m wasting my time! Who gives a damn about this old stuff. This jacket doesn’t fit, my posters are stupid. (He points to one poster) That band was lame.
(Looks down and sees the 4 scraps of paper. He picks them up and pieces them together in different ways until he recognizes something. His mouth widens as if comprehending something but he still expresses confusion)
DAVID: They seem to create a picture… but of what? (Looks closer) well its definitely a boy…(pause) wearing a baggy jets T shirt. I know for a fact, that I didn’t draw this. (Scrutinizes the scrap) It says… by Marie. It’s of….of…ME.
(He smiles in disbelief, and pulls the scraps closer to his chest) This drawing! These crinkled scraps make up a drawing of me. Not just any portrait but one that I ripped up, drawn by that girl. In the drawing, I am sitting in history class, taking notes? Room 403, senior year. (sighs) wow. Did the girl that always paid attention in class, make an exception to draw ME? And of all the beautiful drawings in her sketchbook, the only one that survived was this. Now all I need to do is tape the pieces back together.
(Lights fade out on David to sound of tape being cut on serrated edge of dispenser)
MARIE: (biting her lips nervously, shuffling around in seat, voice somewhat trembling) The only way I remember my self, was sitting in a long carpeted hallway with my knees pulled close to my chest and my sketchbook on the caps of my knees. When I look back and see that pathetic image, I realize that I appeared to be another part of the hallway. I wasn’t a person IN the hallway, but another metal locker, lined up with the rest. I wanted to be able to just walk up to someone and say “hi”, but I never did. What was it about myself, that I hadn’t any courage to simply introduce myself to someone? Maybe that’s why he ripped up my sketchbook. Maybe it was his way of getting to know me. but why on earth would he want to talk to me? What did I do that would have ever attracted anyone. And I still don’t. I got married thirteen years ago to a man I met in college, but only because I was worried that if I left him, I would never find anyone again. My husband comes home from work each day and I hide from him. I’m afraid. I’m afraid of myself, And now all I wish is for that boy to come back and rip up my sketchbook again, so I can grab his shoulder, gently and ask, “why did you do that?” and then before he can answer I’d say, “Thank you.” “Thank you for not walking past me like that rest of them. Thank you for confronting me with such emotion, (small pause, continues with softer voice) even if your intentions were to be mean. But for some reason, I just don’t think they were. The other night my husband came home from work, walked right past me and into the kitchen. At that moment, I realized that I’d rather have someone beat me, than walk right past me. I’d rather have someone loath me, than have someone say I was “irrelevant.” If nobody knows me, am I actually living? (pause) I need to go sit down and draw.(Lights down on Marie. END OF PLAY.)


Charlotte Lee, Age 16, Grade 11, The Fieldston School High School, Silver Key

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