Write and perform in a short play
For Moon Experiences we are looking for incredible young writers to write and perform in short plays! These plays will be performed throughout the festivals in Leicester, Newcastle and Southampton. We asked multi-award winning writer and director Abraham Adeyemi to write an example of the exciting writing we are looking for. His short play ’We're Not Mind Readers’ responds to the Birthday themed brief from Moon Experiences.
We’re Not Mind Readers
A short play in one act, By Abraham Adeyemi
A birthday party set that plays out as specified in the brief; a birthday boy who’s an astronaut, the laughter, the intensity, the red light, the elevation, hovering and disappearance of it all…
Then, beneath, at the centre, the two actors next to each other, side by side. Couldn’t be any closer levels of closeness. Unless the text suggests otherwise.
These characters are, ideally, adults. I imagined them as late 20s/early 30s. Actually, 30 exactly. But, also, in writing this I hope that the story can have some universal themes and not too many markers that limit it to a specific age.
The characters are written as one male, one female. But, these are probably easily interchangeable to one female, one male. Two males. Two females. Non-binaries. You get the point. Universal.
In the initial half, the dialogue can be played around a bit. By actors, directors, whoever… Maybe you skip bits. Maybe someone gets in two lines before the person is able to get their one. Maybe they speak at the same time on occasion. They’re telling their own stories. Oscar, reliving. Carla, present. But the moment they are actually in dialogue with each other, my instinct says that playtime is over and that should be stuck to.
Even in the first part of the play, when they’re not communicating directly to each other, there should be subtle yet noticeable reactions to each other’s words.
In light of the brief, the actors should be awash with white light.
Lastly, this is to be interpreted as a piece about empathy and communication, a response to a brief of a cautionary tale and a world that is continuously making the same mistakes in different ways.
Act I, Scene I
OSCAR It’s my 30th. My mate Leah says I’ve been going on about it for as long as she can remember.
CARLA I’ve got you something Oscar.
OSCAR And, well… It’s finally here.
CARLA And the best part is you get to decide what that something is. It can literally be whatever you want.
OSCAR It’s all mostly going to plan. After months of planning, organising a fuck-load of people to come to the countryside for a banging three-dayer… It’s here.
CARLA My mum always used to say to me that on your birthday you get what you’re given, but when it’s Christmas, you get to decide.
OSCAR People arrive. First the ones who are staying in the house. Then from the hotel. You’d think they’d all come at the same to save on cabs. (shrugs)
CARLA But I figured that, actually, why wouldn’t you want to get someone something they want?
OSCAR So there’s going to be a Bellini reception. Which by that, I mean I ordered some good juice and a fuck load of prosecco from Tesco. 91 to be precise, the year I was born… We definitely didn’t need 91 bottles. But there they were anyway.
CARLA So that’s what’s happening here. You get to decide what you want.
OSCAR Voila. Bellinis… The private chef is ready to start the three-course meal. You’re still not here. You said you’d be here, and you’re still not here.
CARLA There’s no price limit. I mean, that’s the least I can do…
OSCAR The meal starts. The meal ends. The quiz starts. The quiz all about me.
CARLA (mutters) Because it’s always the fucking Oscar Show-
CARLA realises she shouldn’t have said that and reins herself back in. OSCAR doesn’t even flinch at it.
OSCAR (talking over CARLA) Ends. Midnight. My birthday. Day two. The Barbecue.
CARLA has recomposed herself. Back on script.
CARLA But also, maybe don’t go OTT.
OSCAR And the whole thing, you’re not here. And you said nothing.
CARLA Because I’m not rich. Don’t go asking for a private jet (laughs uneasily)-
OSCAR (interrupting) Stop fucking acting like you can’t hear what I’m saying.
CARLA Oh, so you’re talking to me now?
OSCAR Oh good, you can hear me. Good. Good. ‘cause you know, with you ignoring the messages and shit…
CARLA I’ve got you something.
OSCAR I heard you the first time and I didn’t give a shit then either.
OSCAR You know, when this all happened… I had to rationalise myself down from the cliff. ‘This is one of the most painful things that a friend has ever done to me… But she’s still my friend. Carla is my friend. And she’s always been a good friend, and that good outweighs that one, really shitty thing she’s done.
CARLA … Thank… you…-
OSCAR But it’s been 129 days now.
CARLA laughs almost involuntarily, like a reflex.
CARLA You’ve been counting?!
Oscar takes his phone out of his pocket and begins to use the calculator as he talks.
OSCAR See and that’s just it. You don’t get it. I’ve had 129 days. Actually, no, you’ve had 129 days. 3,096 hours. (does another calculation), 185,760 minutes
CARLA Okay Oscar, I get the point-
OSCAR And some funny weird number that has an ‘e’ to the Nth power or some shit that don’t make sense but that’s how big your fuckeries is.
CARLA And that’s why you get to pick your present. It can be literally however much you want. At the minimum, at least how much you spent on me, to call it quits.
Oscar shakes his head.
OSCAR You don’t get it. 129 days. 3,096 hours. 185,760 minutes. That’s all the time that you could’ve said something.
CARLA You blocked me on everything-
OSCAR That was day 98. I didn’t quite fancy celebrating 100 days of disrespect.
CARLA I didn’t know how … I wasn’t in a good place. Look I don’t want to make excuses-
OSCAR I imagined so. I imagine that you put yourself first. Self-care. I put you first, too, initially.
OSCAR I wish you’d put me first. At some point. My birthday would’ve been ideal but not everything goes as planned. I wish you’d thought about the money I’d spent to have you there. The people that I didn’t invite, so you could be there. And how I might worry over you not being there. But most of all, I wish that – at the very least – at some point, you’d reached out at the very least to let me know you’re okay. Because 129 days ago, whilst you were doing God knows what instead of being at my birthday, rather than enjoying my moment, I was worrying about you. And I sent you a text. It said “Please let me know you’re alive and breathing.” And there was a love heart at the end. Because none of the other shit actually mattered. Other than you being okay. Because I’m not a mind reader… But hey, I know you’re okay, and that’s okay. That’s what I wanted and I’ve got it, now, to know that you’re okay. Thank you for letting me know you’re okay. That’s you’re gift, to me. Now that I know you’re okay, I’ll be okay.
And that’s it. The penny drops for CARLA. OSCAR turns around and begins to walk away. But, then-
CARLA I don’t think you did put me first, actually.
OSCAR stops in his tracks and turns back to CARLA.
OSCAR You’re joking, right-
CARLA No. I’m not. You said you put me first. But everything you’ve just said, actually, has been about you. Your birthday. Your plans. How it all made you feel.
OSCAR Well what do you expect-
CARLA Nothing actually. I’m just not accepting you saying you put me first-
OSCAR So what you mean to say is that you don’t turn up to my birthday. Don’t reach out to me for 129 days. And somehow… You’re turning this on me?!
CARLA Did you hear me when I said I wasn’t in a good place?
OSCAR I did.
CARLA You sure?
CARLA And yet you didn’t pry any further.
CARLA It was your birthday, Oscar. It’s a day that should be all about you. Certainly shouldn’t be worrying about my shitty woes… But it’s not your birthday today. And your friend, your friend who you’ve not spoken to for 129 days has told you that they weren’t in a good place, which you said with your own mouth that you heard, and yet…
CARLA We tend to remember birthdays as humans. They come around every year, I can’t think of anything that comes around so consistently on the exact date for humans. So much so, that even when they’re gone, still, we recall. We do it less with the day people died… And when someone is born, and dies, on the same day? It’s like they were never here. But, to you, they were always here. With each year that passes, everyone else slowly begins to forget. They expect you to move on. And sure, I’ve learnt to cope with it all. Have my own mini, private remembrance because I don’t want to burden anyone else-
OSCAR (solemn) Carla…
CARLA Beverley would’ve been five this year. She’d have started primary school. I think about how I’d have done her hair for her first day of school. I wonder if she’d have grown into those chubby cheeks that, even in their lifelessness, were a beauty to behold… You were so excited about her being due on your birthday, even though 96% of babies actually aren’t born on their due dates. But there she was, she arrived and wasn’t here for long. I guess that’s why nobody remembers. But I do. I always do. Everyday I remember and on this day, this particular day… It was all a bit much.
OSCAR and CARLA hug. Whilst in each other’s arms-
OSCAR I’m sorry. I should’ve-
CARLA We both should’ve. We’re not mind readers.
I’m sorry too.