HIDING : A one-act/one-woman play

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DSW (Disappearing Social Worker) narrates an introduction to our play:

DID (Dissociation Identity Disorder, formerly called Multiple Personality) is about hiding. In plain sight. One of many, stuck out there on the front of the stage, interfacing, accomplishing tasks, while the others of many stay secluded and shielded from the blows the front one will undoubtedly endure. Taking one for the team, so to speak.

But to never be able to live, to be out in the open with others, never interfacing and taking it for your own instead of for the team — never to have an experience that you can call all your own — that is the indelible pain, the incredible loneliness of DID.

Just for one day, one afternoon, one hour, on one small street, let’s give them their chance.

Scene: It’s a New York City street, just one block long, but crammed with as many stores of as many different types as one could ever want. You could live on this block all your life, never leave it, and always have whatever you needed.

Voice calls out, “We’re lost!  Anybody know where we are?  Where are we? What street is this?  How did we get here? Anybody recall the path?  So we can backtrack on it to get back to where we were?”

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Scene:  Lining this one block, there is a shop for everyone, for every want or need. Funky coffee shop for CW (Celtic Woman), who writes there, and where Penny (3 years old) can get a cinnamon cookie — or bettter yet, the kind in animal shapes with brightly colored frosting.

There is a walk-in chapel where Sophie can kneel and pray amongst a fld-out table of candles.

There is a drop-in community mental health social club, where Lucy can go and sit and pick up brochures on free counseling resources and take a stab at the 1000 – piece puzzle made up of exactly 914 pieces.

A music shop where used and new instruments are sold and repaired and tuned. Where sheet music can be bought and likely musicians can try out their tunes for each other. That’s where Marcus wants to be the most, but alas, he is stuck with babysitting Penny and Jodie and Sandie – who need their hands held tightly so they don’t wander off and get lost or kidnapped, and making sure everyone has their bus tickets in good shape and in the right pocket.

Marcus would also like to visit the internet cafe, to finish up and click and send away his college grant application. But, if he hasn’t time to practice his guitar or drums or clarinet, how will he ever have time to study at college? And how would the Little Ones ever feel safe enough to get to sleep without his lullabyes at night?

And when, by the way, exactly, is night? When someone is asleep the others are awake. There is always someone awake, no matter the light or dark of outside or the am/pm of the clock. Time is static and yet so elastic it stretches like worn out boxer shorts and binds just as well.

This is life in the Hiding.

Hiding in plain sight. Everyone, yet no one.

Scene: The empty NYC street has taken on a few features of a living/dining room of a sort, on the sidewalk, which is clearer than the street front of shops which has become somewhat faded. CW sits at the table, typing on a laptop perched on her knees, a large empty mason jar on the table. A loud and intrusive banging as a door slams from somewhere, and is kicked and cursed. Medina is home.

Medina: “So what if I’m angry all the time?” she yells in anticipation, as if she has already been accused of a temper by someone anticipating emotional triage.

Lucy, 15 years old and plump, wearing a French policeman’s hat, appears out from in-between 2 shops and slumps down at the table, head in arms. “I’m so depressed.  Everything is dead inside.  I can’t go to school today. Everyone is gone away.”

Medina: (Ignoring Lucy) “If it weren’t for me, you’d be nothing. Still stuck in that gray cement hospital room, on a sticky rubber gurney being pumped with pinatas of medications and used as a guinnea pig to see how they worked. At least I got you outta there and got you your own apartment and a job and a career. So don’t crap with me tonight. I’m in no mood.”

Lucy: (Getting up suddenly and fleeing back into the row of shops where she came out of) “ooohh – no hospital! Nope! No no no hospital!”

“You’re right, Medina,” DSW says gently but firmly, entering the door with recyclable bags filled with vegetables and granola bars. “You did, that and more. And I am so so happy that you did. We can all have a life now, because of you, we all have a life.”

“Then what the crap is all the fuss about?” Medina charges, trying to get a verbal fight going to ease her rage.

CW looks up from her laptop and remarks, “It’s so the Missionaries don’t get us.”

“Ugh!” spews Medina in rapid answer. “Not them again. Oh hell not the Missionaries — what??? Are they here, now? Has Sophie been praying again? What, she wants to go back to church?? Again?? No way! I’ve learned my lesson on that one — hasn’t she??”

Penny pipes up, crumbs sticking to her lips of pink and robin’s – egg blue frosting, “But my like sunday shool. We get to sing songs, and hab juice.”

Lucy steps out of the shop fronts wearing an artist’s beret hat. She hovers by the table and speaks in monotone: “I’m so depressed. Can’t move. Can’t move my arms to paint or draw or anything.”  And she slumps back and is gone.

DSW pokes around in the grocery bags. “Marcus, can you take over here, please? I’ve got a client scheduled and I’m bussing it — oh, has anyone got a spare bus ticket I can use? With a round-trip? I’m not sure when I’ll be home. There’s a can of carrot juice in here, and please please eat the dried cranberries — we don’t want another urinary tract infection, allright? And the organic radishes and  carrots — eat the tops, too – they’re filled with the good stuff.””hideset3

She dissapears and so does everyone else, ducking as far away from Medina as they can.

“God, you’re a bitch,” CW sneers at Medina as she grabs a bottle of cheap wine out of the fridge and fills the mason jar with it. “Why don’t you just get lost. My life is just fine without you. Probably even better.”

Medina: “You don’t have a life. You don’t even have a person.”

CW: “I have more of a life than you do, Medina. I’ve got more of a Self than you ever will. It’s rich and deep and textured. Not just one big tantrum repeating itself over and over. I have a self. I’m someone.”

“Hmf!” Medina sneers and laughs. “You’re who the liquor says you are. You’re who the church says you are. You’re who your mother said you were, and your father demanded you to be, and what your uncle made you into. The hospital says you’re crazy, so you’re crazy. You let it happen. Then you just go off and hide.”

CW sighed, “Bitch. Child porn isn’t so bad compared to living with you, Medina. No — wait — that’s too low. Sorry. That’s way too low, even for you. I’m sorry.”

Lucy appears, wearing an English gray felt tophat:  “I’m going out for a job interview.” and exits to the stage side.

Scene: Silence. Then, a soft melody floats over the stage played by an accoustic guitar, from somewhere.

Medina sighs, lays her head back of her shoulders and squeezes her fingers into her eyes, as though squeezing out a sponge.

“Wish I could feel something besides mad. Wish I could read, concentrate — get away from all this crap — get somewhere else, maybe read some of the books you’ve written, maybe then I’d know.”

“Know what?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know. Just something. Something that’s missing. Not hollow or empty, just something not there.”

Marcus pipes up, “The Missionaries are knocking. Are we home?”

“No!” Medina and CW shout out together, then look at each other and gurgle a laugh.

CW: At least we agree on that. Want a drink?

Medina: If I get the bottle. You can have what’s left in your glass.”

SCENE:  Penny, Jodie, Tommy and other Little Ones quietly appear coming out of the shops and Marcus silently, gracefully, rolls out sleeping bags for them on the sidewalk behind CW and Medina. Quietly, the Little Ones curl up in their cozies and Marcus sits beside them strumming his guitar. We hear the lullaby guitar melody in the background.

Lucy enters from the stage side where she left, wearing an Arabian Sheik’s headdress. “Too depressed to work. So depressed, can’t concentrate. Can’t do the cash register. Too much stimulation.  CW, can you get Jodie her cookie. I’m too depressed.”

CW (to Lucy):  “It’s Penny who wants the cookie.  You’re her Big Girl, Lucy, you do it.  I’m you’re Big Girl, and I get to say. Even if you’re depressed, get her the cookie.”

Sophie:  (popping her head out of the card table chapel) “I’ll pray for you, Lucy!  The Lord will heal you if you only have faith. Let’s talk with Missionaries – – together!”

CW:  (to Sophie and Lucy, who both go back into the shops) Whatever.  (To Medina): “In the hospital, the ER, it was like — what do you call it? A glockenshpeil? Cuckkoo clock? The German kind where every fifteen minutes it gongs and all the little wooden shudders carved into it fly open and the little characters pop out one at a time, then go back in and pop out again, over and over ? Kind of like in circle? That’s what the ER ward was like. A line up of room doors opening and crazy patients in gowns wandering out to have some kind of human contact, be among the living, eat and talk and walk — then the staff shooed them back in their rooms, and they would go in and then pop back out again, needing to be in the traffic of the living, popping in and out — do you know what one guy said?  The staff was really down on him for “acting out.”  When transport finally showed to take him to his long-term unit, he barricaded himself in his room and shouted for his jeans and t-shirt. Over and over. Over and over staff scolded him for acting-out and said they would force him down and give him an injection to sedate him or he could walk on his own.  Security was called, other ER docs showed because he was really big and it looked tense — then he just simply said, “I’ll go — I just want my clothes, my regular clothes.” Staff scolded him he had to wear his gown to go.  And he started crying and said, “I just want to look normal.”

Scene: Silence, as they gulp, together. Medina takes a clump of fresh organic carrots from the grocery bag and breaks off the carrot tops in one wrench. She fiddles with them.

CW: I am who I say I am. Not who you — any of you’s — (she nods her head up and down the street, which is lighting up and becoming filled with pedestrians, bikers, taxis, a city bus.) say I am.

Scene: Medina stuffs the carrot tops into the empty mason jar, sarcastic (?)  and arranges them like a bouquet of flowers. The guitar music stops. That is The End.

_______________________________”Hiding,” text and stage design and music is by Heidi D. Hansen, copyright 2014-2016. email at dog.hotel.hansen@gmail.com for information.

 

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