A few months ago, I was sitting at home, as usual minding my own business, when I received an interesting email from Peter van Gestel inquiring about a monologue from a very early play of mine, the title stolen from one of my favourite albums of all time, Bruce Springstein’s darkness on the edge of town.
Dear god, where does the time go? I wrote that play 30 years ago. 30!! Somehow, Peter found a monologue from that play and used it as an audition piece. (A great compliment to playwrights, when actors use us in this manner.)
Peter veered and delved into academia and Shakespeare mostly as a director, but then he got the itch and wanted to act again but damned if he hadn’t gone and lost the monologue.
And so he came sucking up to me on Facebook asking if I could possibly send it to him. In so asking, he explained that he feels the monologue allows him to explore both his love of theatre and of football.
You know, gentle blog reader, I had almost forgotten that this piece does exactly the same for me. I hadn’t read it for years, and I have to admit I kinda like it.
So without further ado, in honour of the about to be played Super Bowl, here’s Tom’s monologue from my play darkness on the edge of town. With thanks to Peter for bringing it back for me.
TOM’S MONOLOGUE FROM DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
TOM: (Takes off his hat and prepares himself.]
OK, Jason. It’s the last game of the regular season. You need to win to get into the play-offs. Your team is down by four points with two minutes left. You need a touchdown. Bad. Don’t panic. There’s plenty of time.
There’s not a lot of time, but there’s enough time.
Now. The fans are sitting in the stands, quiet, sullen. The cheerleaders are standing on the sidelines, their chins on their chests, and their pompoms hanging heavy at their sides. You, Jason, are a wide receiver. In the huddle, the quarterback tells you to run a hook pattern about ten yards out. Nothing too fancy. Nothing too glorious. Not a touchdown or anything. Just a simple first down to keep the drive alive. Are you with me so far, Jason? Good. The ball is snapped. You run down the field, you drive your man to the outside, and cut back into the middle. It’s been raining. The field’s slick. Your man slips and falls. You’re in the open. The qb sees you, sets, and fires the ball.
Here it comes. It’s coming in high. You’re going to have to reach for it, you’re going to have to extend yourself, if you want to keep the drive alive, if you want that simple first down. Your man is out of the play. But now that the ball’s in the air, you can bet there’ll be eleven other guys coming after you like mad dogs. Like pigs. Like mad pigs. The ball’s coming in. Where’s the safety? Here it comes. Where’s the middle linebacker? You reach up and put yourself into your most vulnerable position, stretched out, unprotected, the ball comes in, you squeeze it, you catch it, you got it.
And then you hear the footsteps. It’s the middle linebacker. He smashes into your left knee with his helmet. Your leg collapses backward. A searing pain shoots up through your body, so hot it takes your breath away. You want to cry. You want to puke. But you hold onto the ball. In that moment of truth, you give your all. Sure, you come down with ripped ligaments. True, you’re going to be meat on the table for some half-witted surgeon. Granted, you may never again know the simple pleasure of a stroll around the lake in the evening. But you hold onto the ball.
Eventually, as you limp off the field, head high, Jason, head high, you can look into the eyes of the other guys and the coaches, ’cause they know: There goes a guy who’s got it. And as you’re limping off the field, head high, you notice that the cheerleaders all have tears in their eyes because they understand, and their thighs itch because they see, limping before them, A MAN. A man. And it’s not always easy, being a man.
[Pause. TOM regains his composure, and shines his flashlight directly into Jason’s eyes.]
END OF MONOLOGUE
Here are my musical offerings in honour of the two teams in this year’s bowl.
For what it’s worth, I’ve got SanFran by 7.
Thanks for reading!
and . .