|General Script posted May 9, 2021||Chapters:||3 4 -5- 6...|
Recess on the Playground
A chapter in the book Genius in Love
Genius in Love (Scene 5)
by Jay Squires
Thumbnail sketch of the last scene: Cornelius and his mother meet with the principal, Mr. Hallows, to discuss what the school feels is some disturbing material Cornelius had written for an English writing assignment. The assignment reveals a fantasy life that none had expected.
[NOTE: Please read Author Notes.]
Cornelius Plumb: An autistic, musical genius child, age 12. Stunningly attractive, His mother dresses him fashionably and impeccably.
Celilla Queez: An apparent product of Cornelius’ mind, a replacement for his imaginary childhood mentor, Pidely-Poo; she is here to transition him through puberty and adolescence.
James Delaney: Class leader and insufferable bully. Cornelius’s nemesis.
Jennie Jax: Attracted to Cornelius. A classmate, physically not yet blossomed. Kind-hearted, but still a child and swayable.
Classmates: Miscellaneous group from Cornelius’s class, a handful of whom have gravitated to James Delaney. The remainder of the children on the playground are extras, doing kid things.
SETTING: Middle of a typical weathered school basketball court on the outdoor playground at Zachary Taylor Middle School. Up center, basketball pole with the weather-beaten backboard and the downward slanting rim with only the reminder of a net hanging from one side. Upstage an 8-foot-tall green hedge runs from stage left to right.
AT RISE: [The dance of the pecking] Center-court, CORNELIUS is seen slowly turning in a circle, while surrounded by JAMES DELANEY and a handful of boys who are walking in an orbit around him. CORNELIUS’S right forefinger traces the sign of eternity. His eyes are closed, his face etched in fear. His lips move but say nothing. CILILLA, in her short, mini-skirt, watches, grim-faced, leaning against the basketball pole. Circling CORNELIUS, JAMES DELANEY and his lackeys, with almost dancelike, ritualistic precision, step in and give CORNELIUS little jabbing pushes or pinches. All but JAMES accompany this “dance” with grunts and chittering, but no words. Only JAMES is their voice. Also in this group, but more to the outside, JENNIE JAX circles ... Tears stream down her face. Occasionally she moves toward CORNELIUS, hands extended, but then she pulls back, self-consciously.
(Slapping CORNELIUS’S moving forefinger, causing his hand to spasm before the finger resumes. JAMES DELANEY’S face is a mask of hatred. Others imitate, but without words and not actually touching CORNELIUS. JENNIE JAX circles too, cheeks glistening, her hands occasionally extending then retracting.)
Yer a funny boy, ain’tcha, huh? Open yer eyes, funny boy … clown! Got yer shoes all shiny fer school ’n everything, don’tcha?…
(Stomps on CORNELIUS’S foot, causing him to stumble, then recover, resuming his turning. JAMES yanks one side of the shirttail from CORNELIUS’S trousers.)
ADULT FEMALE VOICE:
(Over the loudspeaker, in a musical voice, unrelated to any activity on the playground.)
James Delaney … Please report to the office. James Delaney, to the office, please.
(Startled, then adopting a confident pose, giving CORNELIUS a last, harder finger-jab than previously.)
Carry on, guys. The school needs my help ’bout somethin’.
(over his shoulder as he leaves.)
I told ’em not to bother me during recess. But you know how that goes…
[EXITS upstage right. For a few moments, the boys continue circling, then one or two at a time, wander off with parting finger jabs. Only JENNIE JAX remains, but she does not approach CORNELIUS, who continues his closed-eyed, slow turning. Meanwhile, CILILLA QUEEZ pushes off the basketball pole she had been leaning against and crosses to CORNELIUS. At that moment, everything goes into shadow, and movement on the playground is frozen … except for CORNELIUS, still turning, AND CILILLA, both of whom are spotlighted.]
(Laying a hand on his arm, following beside him as he turns)
Cornie … Oh, Cornie …
(He stops his spin and opens his eyes, but stares at the ground)
You’re angry at Cililla. I’m sorry, Sweetie—
(Turns to face CILILLA, glances at her eyes, then immediately looks away.)
(Lapses into confused silence.)
I know, Sweetie. You love Pidely-Poo. And you loved your special, secret place. With the castle and the king, and Pidely-Poo there as your Brother. I know. You loved visiting the ocean and the streams; reaching out and swirling the soft, pink clouds with your fingertips; and lying in the cool green grass beneath the trees with singing birds on their branches, sometimes perching on your finger and ... and tickling you with their wings. It was a happy place, I know.
(A grimace of pain crosses CILILLA’S face.)
But Pidely-Poo’s not there anymore, is he? In fact, Sweetie, you’ve found the magic sound doesn’t work as it did. Huh? Does it?
(CORNELIUS brings his eyes to her for a brief second, blinking.)
I know, Cornie. And if you could go back you’d find a different place. No more castle, no king…
Sweetie … Cornie … Um … you tried the Aaahhhmmm just now, didn’t you? When James Delaney and the other kids were being mean to you?
The birds—they—they dropped down. From the limbs. They started pecking at—at Cornelius. Laughing and—and pecking.
(Wrapping her arms around him.)
Ohhh, you did try, then ... I know, Sweet Cornie. I know, I know.
(She holds him tightly until he visibly relaxes in her arms. Then, after a moment she pulls away ... and almost as an aside, as much to herself as to CORNELIUS ...)
And this is what makes it so hard ….
(With resolve, at arms’ length.)
Sweetie. Sweet Cornelius, for the same reason that Pidely-Poo can never be a part of your life again, I will be powerless to step in and help you when bad things, like today, happen. Can you understand that, Sweetie? There are things you must learn in life by facing them. I will be here, afterward, like I am now, as long as they think I’m needed … to kind of sort out things; do you know what I mean? To help you work with things—and not all of them bad things—but things you must adapt to.
No more—Pidely-Poo? No—no more Aahhmm?
Pidely-Poo—um, Pidely Poo used to—
Pidely-Poo’s gone. Along with the Castle. Gone. Along with the King. Gone. And the trees, and the birds, and the clouds. All gone. Howlword is not the king’s evil brother. He is your real, true Father, and his name is Howard. There is no castle to take your Mother to, Sweetie. She loves you very, very much, but she belongs where she is …. Cornelius …
[CORNELIUS looks up to her eyes, holds her gaze, though he is blinking, and he uncomfortably rocks back and forth.]
Cornelius, you still have a secret place. You do. You’ll find your music to be a lovely secret place. But the joy you feel in your secret place, ah, yes, Cornie, others will feel as well. But you know something else, Cornie?
[CORNELIUS stops rocking, and gazes at CILILLA expectantly.]
Something else, my dear, lovely Cornelius …? Your life is about to change in a most challenging way. I’ll be around watching, but you’ll have to deal with a lot of it on your own.
[The lights come on full, and children resume their noisy play just as the long buzzer announces the end of recess. Small knots and larger clusters of children leave the playground, stage right. CILILLA retreats to the basketball pole. CORNELIUS remains with his head jerking here and there, indecisively. JENNIE JAX begins slowly to move toward the classroom, then stops, conflicted, and turns. With her eyes focused on the ground, she returns to CORNELIUS. His eyes seem to dart everywhere else but don’t alight on JENNIE who stands now, a little to the side, but facing him. She lifts a hand, trembling, to his shoulder. He tenses against its slightest pressure and closes his eyes. Rising on the balls of her feet so close she can see the lash of his eye laid against his cheekbone, fluttering, it takes all her concentration to keep her lips still as she presses them lightly to his cheek and instantly pulls back. CORNELIUS’S hand flies up to cover his cheek.]
We’d … better … shouldn’t we go to class now?
[She takes a few steps, then seeing he’s not with her, returns. Tentatively, she takes his hand. He glances at their clasped hands but doesn’t remove his as they head—CORNELIUS stiffly, and JENNIE fairly bubbling—toward the classroom. Just before exiting, stage right, they unclasp their hands, and JENNIE follows behind.]
END OF SCENE FIVE
AUTHOR NOTES:Pays one point and 2 member cents.
I SUPPOSE I SHOULD APOLOGIZE to serious playwrights on FanStory for my unusually long and detailed stage directions. I offer no such apology, though I acknowledge with a nod two playwrights/screenwriters here whose experience and expertise tower over mine: I'm speaking, of course, of LANCELLOT and JUDIVERSE, either of whom could teach a course on the subject and both of whom I'm counting on being entirely too kind to throw my obvious shortcomings back in my face. I'm kidding!
Again, I don't apologize, even knowing that a director reading my script would stomp on the stage in anger over my taking from him the God-like joy of molding the finer expressions and movements of the actors.
Truth is, my play is written solely for the entertainment of the reader who enjoys the playlike setting: visualizing the actors moving across the stage of his or her mind. It is upon your judgment that the play will either go on ... or will close in your mind's theater after the first night.
Finally, be aware that the stage directions are from the actor's perspective: Left and Right, Upstage and Backstage, are the opposite of the audience's perspective.
And I'm outta here ....
© Copyright 2022. Jay Squires All rights reserved.
Jay Squires has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.