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A Contemporary Quest for Meaning or Morality or something...

 

 

 

A Contemporary Quest for Meaning or Morality or something...

 

   A short play by Ohad Maiman


   [Trent and Crista, late twenties, spread on a couch in a post-long- conversation pause. Table with smoking paraphernalia, bottle of tequila and a few shot glasses. U2's "Why?" poster in background. Three empty seats.]


   Trent:
You know what? It doesn't make sense,

   Crista:
What?

   Trent:
This. Us. Me and you. You telling me about you're goddamn purple dusted slippers you got at, did I need to know? yes. Dolce and gabbana. We used to talk about meaningful shit

   Crista:
What's you're..

   Trent:
You. This. You sitting here and telling me, for hours if Id let you, of the grayest catatonic details of your most mundane "Chores"..

   Crista
Coming off the mountain again?
It's been twice this week.

   Trent
Is it fulfilling?

   Crista
Fuck you.

   Trent
I'm serious.

   Crista
Me too.

   Trent
Tell me an interesting story.


   Crista
What??

   Trent
Tell me an interesting story. Show me how you're still more than shopping and rumors, constant restatement of petty pseudo-facts, judgements all around, see what you think is interesting tell me about love, tell me about war, tell me tragedy, hope, tell me what you think we're all about- tell me, if you will, what we petty god-forsaken ants on a desolate giant moth-ridden tennis ball ought to do with our precious little gift.

   Crista
You know what I find interesting?

   Trent
I sincerely can't wait.

   Crista
Here's a story you must hear. See what you make of it.
[pause]
It's about a young intelligent guy that looses his appetite for life to a common existential-crisis, so he begins to burst every positive bubble he can reach.

   Trent
So you're saying he should have let his mother and aunt and brother and friends and all, let all around him stay in the dark?

   Crista
You arrogan'

   Trent
You're in denial

   Crista
Hey. I'm trying ok? I was there with you, remember? The fucking Walldurf, stop globalization, a "brave new world"; Should have read the book and save us the trouble! It can't happen. We were in college, we discovered how "theoretically" everything can be fixed; but people are people, we stick to human nature; and it isn't pretty!

   .. the sooner you can get that fact through your thick nihilist skull you could start being a person again, not the shadow of..

   Trent
So you went back? Dive into ignorant bliss. You can't go back, you've looked outside and know it's a play

   Crista
Yes! I know how if you question every single fucking prerogative three levels back you realize everything's meaningless. But dwell in it? And try to drag your friends down with you? what is it, getting lonely in that kingdom of void?

Trent
Just because I'm not as excitable as your happy pill-popping crew does not..

   Crista
You know everyone's on their way over; keep the scene going, see what they say

   Trent
Just because Im not as smiley as your opinionated flock of instinct disciplesdoes not mean Ive lost the appetite for life. Its only that I crave for the real part of it not the mass-fabricated socially acceptab..

   Crista
Hey, dont even start with the whole peoples manifesto youre still there goddamn it. You spent so long trying to figure it out, make it better; give it a rest. You start living like an observer, before you notice you become a bystander, you forget how to how to participate. Baby, go back to loving, marveling, something, the little things remember? Come back to me, please.

   Trent
I can not be normal, average, I , I need to sift through what you all take for granted, what everyone thinks and says they think, and define it myself. I need to decide Im pro abortion, anti animal abuse, pro capital punishment, anti terrorism, oh, yes, and definitely mark me down for the struggle of the yellow-dotted squirrel up in Alaska against those monstrous loggers. Dont you see its so benign, so beyond the point?

   Crista
You prick, precious little diaper dreams of changing the world and you figure you can piss on normalcy I uphold normalcy, I cherish it. I ... Some people just need safety, and warmth, and love; some of us call this happiness.

   Trent
You uphold normalcy? Cherish it? Come onLets up the fucking ante, If one of them, one, tells me an interesting story, I stay.

   Crista
And if not?

   Trent
Ifthan god have mercy on thy superficial soul

   Crista
No, really.

   Trent
Than at that very moment I will
Ill surprise you.

   Crista
You cant.

   Trent
I always do.

   Crista
You think

   Trent
You act it?

   Crista
What?

   Trent
You fake it?

   Crista
You really want to know dont you?

   Trent
Yes.
[knock on the door gets Crista up to open]

   Crista
Ill surprise you
[Steve walks in. seems startled.]

   Trent
Just on time Stevee boy..

   Steve
I.. I just had a bad conversation

   Trent
Bad? You mean bad news?


   Steve
No. A wicked mean conversation guess you could call it bad news

   Crista
Well go ahead sweetheart, youre tearing us up here with the suspense and all..

   Steve
Ok, on my way over I stop at Barnebys; Its almost raining, my ex never calls me back, time for a drink right?

   Trent
Right

   Crista
Sure

   Steve
Ok, I smile at the bartender
[smiles at Trent]
Shes really cute

   Crista
Go on...

   Steve
Yea, sitting next to me on the bar is this pre-historic well-dressed man, looks all around in this intense trance, I thought at first Im the only one seeing him ninety-four I soon find out. He looks at me, I smile politely. Then he opens his mouth and with the slowest deepest tone says "You could look into a crystal ball and see The Future"

   Trent
Nice

   Crista
Did he have a ball?

   Steve
No. Just to keep the conversation going and not insult the guy I ask What did you see, he goes "Nineteen forty two, the arrrrmy, you could look..." he tries to go on again, I ask what army? he goes " Blackthorn, Roger; tenth mountain Rangers" and then again "You could look into a crystal ball and see The Future"

   Crista
Do you have to make his voice so scary?


   Trent
Let the man finish his story what did he see?

   Steve
Right. He did talk with this scary voice, hmm, right, I ask him was it beautiful, the future. He looks at me as if Im a little brat that just called his dead mother a fat slut and says
" YOUD WISH YOU WERE DEAD"

    [long pause as Trent and Crista are in slight awe]

   Trent
The end is immanent

   Steve
Bad conversation right?

   Crista
So what you make of it?

   Steve
Duh, youd wish you were dead?

   Crista
Yes. But in the breathtaking-beautiful or horrendous-wretched way?

   Trent
The guy has been twice around to see the whole world go A-wall hes just smelling the stench of madness accumulating, again

   Steve
that kind of wish you were dead..

   [pause]

   Say it allllll was to end a day from now?

   Trent
Yea Crista, what would be interesting, important, goooddd to do if in twenty-four hours it all ends?

   Crista
You first.

   Trent
You know.

   Crista
No. I know what you think is not. Not what you think is.

   Steve
Come again.

   Crista
He knows what I meant.

   Steve
Orgy.

   Crista
What?

   Trent
Go for those instincts brother..

   Crista
What did I miss?

   Steve
If we had twenty-four hours left I would organize as many people as I could for a giant end of the world orgy

   Crista
Colorful.

   Trent
Deep.

    [Knock on the door makes all jump out of brief contemplative pause]


   Crista
Ill get it. You guys would scare anyone right about now.

    [Trent blows a kiss at Crista]
[X walks in. kisses both. Trent smiles at her. Steve looks serious]

   X
Why does he look like someone just died?

   Steve
An old man told me the world is about to end so Im organizing a massive orgy to celebrate. Youre in?

    [X blows a kiss at Steve, disregards him and sits down]

   Steve
Im serious.

   X
Good luck.

   Trent
I wasnt expecting you to be so conservative.
[X gets edgy. Crista jumps to her defense.]

   Crista
What is that supposed to mean?

   Trent
Well you know in her line of work

   Steve
Line of work?

   Trent
On her back
[Trent smiles viciously]

   Steve
What?
[X is about to snap at Trent]

   Crista
Babe you dont have to..

   X
[Explaining to Steve, then turning to Trent]
I make an extra living on my back, thank you Trent for the raunchy flavor
Yes. I fuck guys. And they pay me well.

   Steve
But

   X
If I dont like the guy, I dont. Whats the problem?
I like sex. I do guys I like. Trent,
[Sarcastic]
wouldnt you jump a sexy rich woman, and take the thousand shes offering?
[Trent looks down. All are quiet for a few seconds.]

   Steve
Thousand dollars?

   Crista
Really?

   Trent
Nice price-tag

   X
Yep, why guys, need a job? Oh noIm sorry, women dont need to pay for itwe just pluck you fresh off the tree whenever we feel like it youre right, men are so classy

   Steve
Fuck off Hey, how come I never knew about this?

   X
We didnt think you could handle it. Can you?

   Crista
Ok, enough with the battle of the sexes for tonight. Thats what she does, anyone with a problem with this, suck it in.

   X
Its ok baby, it takes time to show em were just like them if they were women

   Steve
Huh?

   Trent
Shes trying to say were the same, just playing-out our roles along opposite ends
X
So Im getting through?

   Trent
Barely..
[Pause]

   Crista
Now wasnt that interesting Trent.

   Trent
What?

   Crista
An interesting story, with a, what do you call it a point?

   Trent
Oh were back there sure, the worlds about to end and its ok to fuck for moneywho said this isnt going to be an enlightening evening?

   Steve
Whats his problem?

   Trent
Here we go

   Crista
Trent thinks everyone around him is superficial he thinks that if you dont talk about it twenty-four-seven, you dont know whats important.

   X
And he does?

   Trent
What would you do if we had twenty-four hours left?

   X
Spend em with my family. And you?

[Pause]
Crista
Yea Trent, what would you do?

   Steve
That better be good


   Trent
Well..

    [ with a loud sigh, all power drops, total blackout]

   X
Nice distraction, Trent?

   Trent
I am the magician now

   Crista
Steve, how long did Blackthorn say we had?

   Steve
I dont think thats funny..

   Trent
So the old-fucker might have been right after all
Ill check the fuse box.

    [Trent walks away briefly]

   Crista
Get candles.

   Steve
And food

   X
And dont blow off the Waldorf

   Crista
X

   X
What?

   Steve
Blow off the Waldorf?

   X
[Realizing Steve doesnt know]

   Ooops.

   Crista
Yea..

   Steve
Why blow off..

    [ Trent comes back with candles, cuts in]

   Trent
Its an all-out blackout, phones are down.
We werent really trying to blow it up, thank you X. We were there for the G8..

   Steve
To blow them ou..

   Trent
No.
[Trent lights candles]

   We planned to take over their floor and make them make some changes the C4 was only for extra persuasion.

   Steve
Man. I always heard you were a little off in college, but a closet Che-Guevara?
[to X]
and you?

   X
Me? No, I feed on rumors I was never with those two..

   Steve
[back to Trent]
Wh how did you get into all this underground shit?

   X
Yea Trent, what was it that got you fed-up, broke your spirit?

   Trent
Youre right, at first I thought were on the right track, humanity. Then one day I have a conversation with this philosophy professor, Barnard Smith-something always wore those strange purple butterfly-bow ties or, whatever you call em; made me realize we people always had too much time on our hands. Bow ties.

   Steve
Bow ties

   Trent
I tell him I believe Philosophy can change the world, make it a better place. He laughs. "A better place? I just hope it doesnt get worse." It all clicked. The old fucker was right

[Pause]

   X
Were all of you guys so far out, there?

   Crista
The Philosopher Kings?
Oh yea, we had some spectacular ones, like Sebastian, remember?

   Trent
That over-zealous freak; went around punching pinholes in condoms on drugstore shelves all across town.

   Steve
Wow

   Trent
Yea. He got off on the thought hes making things that arent supposed to happen, happen.

   X
Thats one sick..

   Crista
He never really got the point

   Trent
We got rid of him.
[Pause. X and Steve wondering]

   X
So how did it work, you guys would walk around and spread the love?

   Trent
No. We were practical, driven. I handled strategy, Victoria handled operations. We got a group of geniuses together, from all fields; Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology, Economics, Anthropology, History, twenty all together.

   Steve
and smoked a bowl
Trent
No. We systematically solved every single problem we face as a

   X
Thats modest

   Trent
Modesty is for little people.
[Short pause]
Steve
So you were solving

   Trent
We started from scratch. We asked how would a species with our needs make best use of a planet with such resources; We wrote up a Manifesto, blue. We had a second option self-subsistence farm-system for anyone unwilling to play the game, anyone wanting to get off the wagon with their self-respect intact; we figured out how people could finally psychologically accept equality, quench jealousy; so far and promising. Then we needed to get some attention around it but guess what? It just couldnt have worked

   X
Why?

   Trent
People. Interests. People with interests, self-interests.
Sweetie, the world is as screwed-up as it is simply because we people are as screwed up as we are a goddamn status quo of indifference

    [Long pause]

   Steve
Ok so the C4 was only for extra persuasion you took over the floor, the Waldorf G8

   Trent
Yes, we made them sign the Blue Manifesto, one by one but then

   Steve
What?

   Trent
Then

   Crista
Then a security guard pulled a backup and shot Victoria.

   Steve
Fuck. Wait, was that your..

   X
She was a beautiful soul. A proud

   Trent
A fucking security guard we planned for months, we frisked him, we took his piece but didnt check his

    [Pale woman wearing white semi-transparent rugs walks-in from dark at left stage. Trent fixes on her, the only one seeing her. He suddenly recognizes Victorias ghost. She stands in far corner staring at him]

   X
I never knew thats how you lost her.
Im sorrythat explains an awful lot

   Steve
Wait but, she died?

   Trent
[covering his face]
As I carried her out

   Crista
The second she got shot Trent took over and aborted.

   Trent
I just it didnt make any sense anymore the second it happened

    [Trent looks at Victorias ghost. She looks back with a soft-loving-sad gaze]

   Steve
And the Blue Manifesto?

   Trent
We tried to make the world stop and think. It answered. It turned back and shot my..

   Crista
Since Victoria died I
I never see you really smile. Cant you find a way to be happy to be alive with me?

    [Trent is still fixated on Victorias ghost]


   Trent
Victoria baby, its not because of her..

   Crista
Its Crista

    [Trent turns violently back to Crista]

Trent
Oh baby I did not mean that fuck

    [Pale woman walks out]
[Pause]

   Steve
So whats the deal Trent, its been at least two years cause I never got to see you with your barrette on

   X
Yes sweetheart, why cant you fucking smile by now?

    [ Trent wipes a tear, straightens back to a serious demeanor]

   Trent
Nothings exciting when everything becomes trivial.

   Steve
So dont trivialize it.

   Trent
Too late.

   X
You can always stop

   Trent
Youre one to talk

   Crista
Trent.

   X
When I trivialize, it keeps me going; you its eating you alive.



   Trent
I stopped smiling when I found out the world cannot become a better place. Oh, and that nothing we do matters.

   X
Is that so?

   Trent
Very much so. See weve tried to outreach our own little moral envelope..

   Steve
Hows that?

    [Crista embraces herself with a sigh for a prolonged listening]

   Trent
Well our ideals left our nature far behind

   X
Give it to me; where, in what?

   Trent
We cherish life and kill each other we cry for equality and enslave half a globe, we uphold monogamy and fuck around, need some more?

   Steve
Oh. Thats where were getting into again

   Crista
Baby come back to us. To me

   Trent
Please dont

   Crista
You have to get it out of your system once and for all plunge back and swim with me, I , I promise its warm and, and sometimes even beautiful

   Steve
Really bro..

   X
You know there are harder things to live with few, but still



   Trent
Hey. Dont you people dare sit here, preaching me that its all in my head;
I invented that shit

   Crista
So the world isnt perfect, all-meaningful. And never will be.
So? Accept it and move on.

   X
Girls got a point

   Steve
Yea.

   Trent
Really? Bow down and accept wait out a gray little life, no thank you. I was a knight, a warrior, we had a cause, but we lost.

   Crista
Cant you see beauty all around?

   Trent
I see misery, and pain; and fear

   Crista
So thats it? No point whatsoever

   Trent
It looks like it doesnt it?

   Crista
So now what,
[Mimicking Trent]
Than at that very moment I will,
You said youd surprise me

    [Trent pulls out a gun from under the sofa, X, Steve, and Crista jump back]

   X
What the fu..

   Steve
Hhhheeey brother whats..

   Crista
Didnt you

   Trent
You really thought I would eventually adjust? Grow old on my TV couch with a can of Millers and a fucking bag of chips and moan, forever?

   Crista
Baby put it down

   Steve
Right. Yes. Listen to Crista Bro

   X
Spill it out Trent, fucking talk about it, come get a hug, but;
dont do anything stupid

   Crista
Baby please put it down

   Trent
[Trent gets up, dramatic]

    Words of Enlightenment spoken Aloft,
The confined walls of knowledge, oh not at all Soft
Good thing to care;
Makes you feel so less bare
Though look inside deeper, once more
And beware

    Alas from Reality thou apart shall not cut
For in grave agony, to the last of your days,
Alone Thou shall Rot

[Short pause]
Steve
E. E. Cummi?

   X
Nope. Another original Trent Del-Roy Junior

[X slowly claps her hands in almost-serious appreciation. Steve adds a few claps, smiles. Both manage to loosen-up for a brief second despite the gun; not fully getting the poem]

   Crista
[Still worried]
Trent baby, please..

    [Trent bows to X and Steve with a smile. Turns to all three, serious]

   Trent
Thank you, friends; it has truly been a treat, but stay here psyche-myself-up on petty nonsense, accomplishments
day after day

[Abrupt stop, looks to the corner where ghost stood, looks back at them]

   Im sorry, but..


   I HAVE NO USE


    [Points all-around and at himself]


   FOR ALL THIS ANYMORE


    [Trent quickly pulls the gun up to his temple, looks straight at Crista for a split second and pulls the trigger. Loud shot. All freeze]



   Curtain Drops.


Ohad Maiman