Full-Length Play

The Best Place We've Ever Lived

A Fantasy in Two Acts and Four Realms by William Fowkes

There’s more to family life than conquests and migrations.

 

LENGTH: 1 hour 40 minutes (plus intermission)

CAST: 2M, 2F

 

“The combination of Thornton Wilder style with sitcom pastiche [is] quite interesting.”

- Pavement Group, Chicago, IL

 

“We really enjoyed the novel concept and the way it was executed with insightful humor and engaging characters.”

- 12 Peers Theater, Pittsburgh, PA

 

 


PRODUCTION HISTORY

 

JANUARY 2013: A workshop production presented by Love Creek Productions at the Producers' Club in New York City. With Sondra Hunt, Isaac Scranton, James Meneses, & Karen Sepulveda. Directed by Bradley LeBoeuf.

 

DECEMBER 2012: A reading of a 15-minute excerpt in New York City at Milk Can Theatre's COW Reading Series.

 

JUNE 2009: Workshop reading at the Penobscot Theatre Company in Bangor, Maine as part of the theater’s 3rd annual new play festival, Northern Writes, Scott RC Levy, Producing Artistic Director.

 

 

AWARD


Finalist, Cimientos, IATA Theater's new play development program, New York City, December 2014.

 


SYNOPSIS


In a violent world, it takes special skills to survive—and thrive. In this fantasy play, the world of classic TV sitcoms (like Leave It to Beaver and The Brady Bunch) meets Disney’s Carousel of Progress when one family and its time-traveling clan migrate and conquer their way through history while trying to assimilate changing family and marital relationships. From ancient Mexico and eighteenth century Paris to present-day Scarsdale, NY and an unnamed future time and place, they learn that there has to be more to family life than conquests and migrations. But can this more enlightened future last? 

  

 

SETTING: A blank stage representing the interior of different dwellings.

 

TIME: Spanning many centuries from the past to the future. 

 

CAST BREAKDOWN:

Ivor (pronounced “Eye-verr”):  Male.  Late 30s. Father. Aggressive and strong. Sometimes violent and insensitive, but capable of being more humane—as the situation permits.  In 12 scenes.

Irene: Female. Late 30s. Mother. Nurturing, sensitive, and artistic. Sometimes harried, sometimes a fragile, lost soul, and sometimes a great leader—as the situation permits.  In 14 scenes.

Ike: Male. Age 17. Son. Sometimes achievement-oriented, popular, and successful, but other times just weird.  In 11 scenes.

Iris: Female. Age 16. Daughter. Very smart and accommodating, but frustrated and nasty when stymied. In 11 scenes.

 

SCENES:

Act One

 

THE FIRST REALM: 8th Century – Mexico 

Scene 1: Late afternoon. 

Scene 2: A few weeks later.

Scene 3: A few weeks later. Evening.

 

THE SECOND REALM: 18th Century – Europe 

Scene 4: Late afternoon. 

Scene 5: A few weeks later. Late afternoon.

Scene 6: A few weeks later. Early evening.

Scene 7: Later that night.

 

Act Two

 

THE THIRD REALM: 21st Century – Scarsdale, NY

Scene 1: Late afternoon.

Scene 2: Late afternoon a few months later.

Scene 3: One evening a few weeks later.

Scene 4: One evening two weeks later.

 

THE FOURTH REALM: A Future Time and Place

Scene 5: Late afternoon.

Scene 6: One evening a few months later.

Scene 7: Later that night.

 

 

PRODUCTION NOTE

 

This play can be staged either very simply or more elaborately. For a simple production, the set can consist of a blank stage with props as needed and noted in the script. For costumes, the cast can be dressed in casual black clothing throughout the play. Alternatively, each of the four “realms” presented can be fleshed out with scenery and/or clothing appropriate for its period.   

 


 


AN EXCERPT

 

PROLOGUE

 

When the play begins, we see a hanging banner with the image of an apple. (Alternatively, there might be a projection of an image of an apple.) The banner or projection should disappear before the first scene begins.

 

VOICEOVER

Members of the clan, we must once again call on your courage and resourcefulness as we prepare to conquer yet another new land. Be brave and remember that the gods are on our side—as always.

 

END OF PROLOGUE

 

 

ACT ONE

 

THE FIRST REALM

8th Century – Mexico

 

 

Scene 1: Late afternoon.

 

Ivor enters hauling in some primitive weapons.

 

IVOR

(to himself)

I guess this will do.

(looking around)

OUR place now.

(announcing)

I claim this dwelling in the name of Ivor the Warrior!

(calling offstage)

C’mon! You need to come fix things up in here!

 

Irene enters with some luggage.

 

IRENE

Can I rest first?

 

IVOR

There’s no time for that!

 

IRENE

Are you at least going to help this time?

 

IVOR

Very funny!

 

IRENE

I mean it!

 

IVOR

Warriors don’t fix things up!

 

IRENE

It wouldn’t kill you, ya know.

 

IVOR

I can’t! There’s a meeting of the clan in a little while. We’ve got a lot to do.

 

IRENE

I’m part of the clan, too—so I better come with you.

 

IVOR

Very funny! You’re a riot today! … You know you’ve gotta stay inside and huddle with the kids. We don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into. We could get attacked any minute now.

 

IRENE

I didn’t see anyone.

 

IVOR

Of course you didn’t see anyone—we made a big racket when we arrived. It probably scared them all away. … Hey, where are the kids? Get them in here—the sun’s going down!

 

IRENE

They’re just checking the place out.

 

IVOR

I want them in here!

 

IRENE

Cut them some slack, will ya? These moves are hard on them. I want them to like it here.

 

IVOR

Get them in here now, woman!

                                               

IRENE

(yelling offstage)

Ike! Iris! Your father wants you in here now! … There could be jaguars out there! … Or gods and goddesses know what! … I said NOW!

 

Ike enters.

 

IKE

Wow! This place is cool! … Did you see all those pyramids?

 

IRENE

Where’s your sister?

 

IKE

She’s watching the family move in next door.

 

IRENE

(yelling offstage)

Iris! Get in here right now!

 

Iris enters.

 

IRIS

Zooks, Mom! I was just hanging with Danny.

 

IRENE

If Danny wants to get eaten by a jaguar, that’s HIS problem. You’re MY responsibility, young lady!

 

IKE

(to Ivor)

Hey, Dad! What are all those pyramids for?

 

IVOR

I don’t know. I’ll ask them at the clan meeting tonight.

 

IKE

You think they’re landing pads for star creatures?

 

IVOR

I don’t know.

 

IKE

Or maybe platforms for games? Like maybe I stand on top of one, and you stand on top of the next one, and I have to kick the ball over to you?

 

IVOR

I said I don’t know!

 

IKE

And what about all these rooms? Sally says there are hundreds of them.

 

IRENE

Who’s Sally?

 

IKE

Just some girl I met during the migration.

 

IRENE

I don’t want you mixing with strangers. She might come from the wrong kind of people.

 

IVOR

Irene, she’s one of the clan. How bad can she be?

 

IRENE

Just because she’s one of the clan doesn’t mean she’s right for Ike.

 

IVOR

He’s not talking about TAKING her. He’s just talking about having a little fun with her—right, son?

 

IKE

Right, Dad! Just like YOU!

 

IRENE

Ivor! What’s he talking about?

 

IVOR

I have no idea.

 

IKE

(changing the subject)

Hey, Dad—do you think these rooms used to be temples or something?

 

IRENE

(interrupting)

Oh, honey, I don’t think so. What kind of gods would live in little rooms like these?

 

IKE

I don’t know.

(joking)

Maybe little gods. … Godettes…

 

IRIS

(whining)

I don’t like these rooms. They’re cramped! The last place was much nicer!

 

IVOR

(angry)

Do I hear complaining?

 

IRIS

(suddenly respectful)

No, Dad.

 

IVOR

(like a volcano about to erupt)

Do you kids have a beef about something?

 

IKE and IRIS

(in unison)

No, sir!!

 

IVOR

That’s better!

 

IRENE

Ivor, don’t be so hard on them. They just got here.

 

IVOR

(angry)

They’re lucky to be alive! YOU’RE lucky to be alive! You know how many we lost in this migration? A third of the clan! Gone! Butchered! … So don’t tell me about being hard.

 

IRENE

I know, but I just thought…

 

Ivor pounds the wall.

 

IVOR

(erupting)

You don’t think! You know the rules!

 

IRENE

(meekly)

Yes, sir.

 

IVOR

(loudly—to everyone)

Who is the warrior?

 

IRENE

You are.

 

IVOR

Ike? Iris?

 

IKE

You are, Dad!

 

IVOR

I don’t hear you, Iris! … Iris!!

 

IRIS

(unenthusiastically)

You are.

 

IVOR

I can’t hear you!

 

IRIS

(louder)

I said YOU are, Dad!

 

IVOR

That’s better. … And who’s lucky to have a warrior protector?

 

IKE, IRIS, and IRENE

(in unison—obediently and terrified)

WE are!

 

IVOR

That’s right! … And don’t ever forget it! Or would you like to try to find out for yourselves what it’s like not to be protected? … Just remember what happened to the O’Briens. … I’ve gotta go.

 

IKE

Can I come along, Dad?

 

IVOR

Not yet, Ike. You’re not ready. … Someday soon maybe.

 

IRIS

How about me? Can I come?

 

IVOR

Very funny! You been taking comedy lessons from your mother? … Now don’t let anyone—or anything—come in here while I’m away.

 

Ivor exits.

 

IRIS

Mom, I’m frightened.

 

IRENE

I know, dear. I am, too.

 

IKE

(disgusted)

Women!

 

IRENE

Maybe things will be more peaceful here.

 

IKE

(getting excited)

Don’t count on it! Sooner or later we’re gonna attack someone else. Or maybe they’ll attack us. I can’t wait till I’m old enough to go out with the warriors!

 

Ike goes to look offstage.

 

IRENE

Ike, get away from there! You heard your father!

 

Ike exits.

 

IRIS

(terrified)

Ike!

 

Ike comes back in.

 

IKE

So what are we supposed to do all night?

 

IRENE

It’s getting dark. … Your father said we should huddle. Let’s try to get some sleep.

 

The lights dim as they lie together in a huddle in the middle of the stage.

 

IRIS

(after a pause)

Mom, what if we’re attacked in the middle of the night?

 

IRENE

It never happens on the first night, darling. They’re just as scared of us as we are of them.

 

IKE

I’M not scared!

 

IRENE

Goodnight.

 

IKE and IRENE

(in unison)

Goodnight, mother.

 

The stage gets darker. Silence. After several moments—representing the passing of an hour or two—we hear the sound of something or someone entering.

 

IRIS

What’s that?

 

IRENE

What’s what?

 

IRIS

That!

 

IRENE

I don’t hear anything.

 

IRIS

Mom, someone’s coming! Get the club!

 

Irene goes to get the club, returns to her original position, and crouches.

 

IKE

(waking up)

Jeez, guys! I’m trying to sleep.

 

IRIS

Help!

 

IRENE

(yelling at the intruder)

Go away! I’ve got a club!

 

Ivor enters.

 

IVOR

Guys! Relax! It’s just me—your father. Ivor.

 

IRENE

You scared us half to…

 

IVOR

You knew I went out. … Eventually I have to come back in, right?

 

IKE

Hey, how was the clan meeting?

 

IVOR

Save it for the morning. Your mother probably wants you to sleep.

 

IRENE

It’s all right, Ivor. We’re all up anyway.

 

The lights come up a bit.

 

IVOR

Well, it was all very exciting. First we sang some war chants. All the old favorites. … Like the one about pulling out their nails while we stomp on their heads. … I always loved that one.

 

IKE

Hey, I know that one!

 

IVOR

I used to chant it to you when you were just a baby. … Then the chief said a few words. “We have traveled many miles… Yadda yadda yadda… Dawn of a new age for the clan… Blah-blah-blah… Historic moment… Zonk-zonk-zonk… Seize the moment… Amen!” Then he opened it up for questions. I was the first one to put my hand up—you’d be so proud of me, Ike! I said, “So tell us, great chief—what are all these pyramids for?” He raised his holy rod and said, “Good question, Ivor.” … Hear that, everyone? “Good question, Ivor!” … You’ll be telling your great grandchildren about this someday.

 

IKE

So what are they for?

 

IVOR

He said he had no idea. … He said it was up to us to GIVE them a meaning, a purpose. We decided they should be altars for the gods.

 

IRIS

(snidely)

We always have altars for the gods! Couldn’t you come up with anything more original?

 

IVOR

It has been decreed! These are altars for the gods. … And get this—this time, the gods made them themselves! … That’s how we know what they are—and which god goes with which pyramid.

 

IKE

HOW do you know?

 

IVOR

A committee’s been assigned to work on that. Then, in a few weeks, there’s gonna be a big celebration to welcome us to the city of Tea Can.

 

IKE

Tea Can? That’s the name of this place?

 

IVOR

That’s the name we’re giving it.

 

IRIS

Tea Can? What does it even mean?

 

IVOR

It’s from an ancient language we invented that only the priests can translate. … It means, “Center of the Universe.” … It means, “This is the best place—the place our people have always been destined to discover and live in.”

 

IRIS

The priest ends his sentences with a preposition?

 

IVOR

Shut up! … It means this IS our place; it always WAS our place; and always WILL be our place; and woe to anyone who thinks otherwise. … We will cut off your heads and feed them to the dogs and rape your women and feed THEM to the dogs and burn you to the ground and then dance on your ashes if you so much as dare to look at the place, much less enter it or interfere with us in any way whatsoever, so help us gods and goddesses!

 

IKE

“Tea Can” means all that?

 

IVOR

Yes it does.

 

IKE

How do you get all that out of just two syllables?

 

IVOR

That’s why we need the priests.

 

IRIS

So what are we going to do?

 

IVOR

What we always do. I’ll hunt and fish; Ike will assist me; and you ladies will stay home and clean things.

 

IRENE

Do you think I’ll be able to get back to my artwork?

 

IVOR

You mean those silly markings you like to make on the walls?

 

IRENE

They’re not silly! Making them is the only thing that fulfills me.

 

IVOR

Fine, fine. As long as you get all your chores done, I guess there’s no harm in that.

 

IRENE

But I’ll need some new paints—we moved so suddenly!

 

IVOR

Fine—I’ll go kill you a jaguar in the morning.

 

IRENE

Jaguar blood fades too quickly. I need some ground rocks—different colors.

 

IVOR

I’ll get you some rocks, but you can grind them yourself.  

 

IRENE

Thank you, dear.

 

IVOR

Okay kids, time to go back to bed.

 

Ike and Iris resume their places in the huddle in the middle of the floor and fall quickly back to sleep.

 

IRENE

One last thing, dear. Did you see anyone else out there? … Do you think we’re being watched?

 

IVOR

There’s no way to know—but don’t you worry your pretty little head about that. That’s what I’M here for. … Now you rest, too.

 

IRENE

Goodnight.

 

Irene starts to approach the huddle spot.

 

IVOR

On second thought, wait a minute!

 

He grabs Irene’s hand and pulls her to a spot far away from Ike and Iris.

 

IRENE

I’m tired.

 

Ivor ignores her comment and starts to make love to her in a very rough, primitive way. Irene is blasé about the whole thing and just seems to let it happen to her, as if she’s quite used to it. When Ivor finishes, he rolls away from her.

 

IVOR

Now you can rest.

 

IRENE

Thank you, dear.

 

END OF SCENE

 

END OF EXCERPT