Part of the original cast of Jubilation, Mississippi, Dennis Gagomiros and Kendall Rileigh perform at The Drilling Company Theatre in New York City.
A 15-Minute Play
(An ode to Twilight Zone.)
Suitable for a High School Audience
By Stephen Bittrich
(Please note that there is a
licensing fee due if you want to perform
this play before any size audience.)
[ bottom ]"JUBILATION, MISSISSIPPI" BY STEPHEN BITTRICH SETTING: Jubilation, Mississippi. Although the play is set in the present, the feel of this sleepy little town is decidedly mid-1950's. Various settings -- a gas station, a roadside diner, a clearing in the woods, a taxi-cab. All these areas will be represented by minimal set and shifting pools of light. It should feel less like a black out between the little scenes and more like a shift. The colors should ideally be shades of gray like an old black and white television show. AT RISE: CHUCK McDEAN enters the pool of light down-left, followed by Jim, the local mechanic and owner of "JIM'S GAS AND AUTO REPAIR." JIM (and all of the inhabitants we meet of Jubilation, Mississippi) have a preternatural tendency to smile or laugh...well, a tendency towards jubilation. MCDEAN So can you fix it? JIM (smiling) Yes sir, I think I can, but I guess I won't really know the full extent of to 'til I get up under the hood. Run her through her paces. MCDEAN What's with the goofy grin, pal? JIM What? MCDEAN What's so funny about my car being dead? JIM Oh, she ain't dead. She's just ill. MCDEAN Listen, the sign says "Jim's Gas and Auto Repair." You got a name tag that says Jim. JIM Yeah, that's me, Jim. MCDEAN And this is your place? JIM Yes sir. MCDEAN So I'm counting on you to fix my car. You know what you're doing right? (JIM stifles a laugh) MCDEAN (cont'd) What's so funny? JIM Nothing. I'm just exultified ta be working on your car. MCDEAN Exultified. Fantastic. Jim, I suppose you're the only mechanic in this town, aren't you? JIM Oh yeah. No need for two mechanics here. Town's too small. MCDEAN Where can I get a bite to eat around here? JIM Charlie has a diner up the road a piece. MCDEAN And about how far is "a piece"? JIM You see up there where that sign says "arlie's iner"? MCDEAN Yeah...oh I get it. He's got some letters missing. JIM A "chuh" and a "duh." MCDEAN Okay then, Jim. I'll be at the diner. Call me when the car is ready. JIM Call you on the diner phone? MCDEAN No on the cell phone! On the number I gave you. JIM Oh, I thought that was yer home number! MCDEAN No, that's my cell...smiling again. JIM Smiling makes ya feel good. MCDEAN Okay, I'll take your word for it. Just call me on that number when you got an idea of what's going on with my car. JIM I'll take good care of her, sir. (HE chuckles and walks out of the light. McDEAN moves over to the pool of light for the diner center-right. HE's looking at a folding map in his hand. As HE sits HE's greeted by CHARLIE himself, a large, jolly man sporting a big ole grin) CHARLIE Welcome to Charlie's diner, sir. MCDEAN Huh? Oh thanks. CHARLIE I'm Charlie. (MCDEAN checks out his name tag) MCDEAN Hey, you found your "C." (CHARLIE laughs his heartily) CHARLIE I did, I did! I lost it offa that sign outside and foundt-it on ma name tag! Ha ha! MCDEAN All right then. All right. CHARLIE Mr. McDean, you are a laugh and a half! MCDEAN News travels fast around here. You already know my name. CHARLIE Oh, Jim jes called me and said you was on yer way over. Stella, your waitress, will be right over to take your order. Can I pour you some water? MCDEAN Yeah, hit me. (CHARLIE pours water) CHARLIE Passing through? MCDEAN Yes, sir. CHARLIE Where from? MCDEAN Chicago. CHARLIE Oh boy, that's a big city indeed. MCDEAN Indeed. CHARLIE Well, enjoy your meal, Mr. McDean. Enjoy your water. Let me know if I can get anything for you. MCDEAN I will let you know, "Arlie." (CHARLIE laughs and shakes his finger at McDEAN like he's a naughty boy. McDEAN pours over a map. HE is reaching for his water, when STELLA arrives and knocks it over, spilling it partially on his shirt and lap) MCDEAN (cont'd) What the hell--? STELLA Oh! I'm sorry, sir. I'm sure sorry. (McDEAN forgives her in an instant. She is an enchanting woman) MCDEAN Er, that's all right. STELLA I'm Stella. MCDEAN Yes, you are. STELLA Passing through? MCDEAN Yep, from Chicago. STELLA Boy... MCDEAN It's a big city. STELLA I'll say. And far away from this place. MCDEAN Not so far. STELLA What's your name? MCDEAN Chuck...McDean. My friends call me McDean. STELLA Okay, that's what I'll call you. MCDEAN Stella, maybe you can help me out. STELLA I hope I can. MCDEAN Why isn't this town on the map? STELLA Oh, it's too small for any map. MCDEAN That right? And the town is actually called Jubilation like the sign? STELLA Yep, that's us. Just like on the sign. Home of Jubilation Springs. MCDEAN That's perfect. STELLA Perfect? MCDEAN Oh, it's just amazingly fortuitous, Stella, because I'm a reporter. Doing a story on the happiest places to live in America. I'm driving around the country and reporting it all on a blog for the newspaper I work for. STELLA Blog? MCDEAN Yeah, that's right. And I have been woefully remiss in my reporting thus far. STELLA I like how you talk. MCDEAN I like how you listen. I think I just found my first story. Is this a happy place, Stella? (Beat, SHE doesn't answer. Looks suddenly uncomfortable) MCDEAN (cont'd) (listing) Jim at the auto repair, your boss, slap happy "Arlie," Mr. Kincade at the general store who sold me this map since my GPS is all wacky -- all happy as clams. Where's your Cheshire Cat grin? (CHARLIE shoots over -- a bit frenetic -- but still VERY cheerful) CHARLIE Everything all right here, Mr. McDean? Did you need a menu? Oh Stella, darling, what happened to Mr. McDean's water? MCDEAN I spilled it. I'm clumsy that way. (STELLA and CHARLIE laugh) CHARLIE Oh, that's not a problem. We can just sop that right up. (HE pulls a dish cloth from his apron and begins dabbing the water, STELLA dabs on her side as well) CHARLIE (cont'd) Did Stella tell ya 'bout our specials? STELLA I was about to. MCDEAN Is there something in the water around here? (CHARLIES loses his smile for one moment but quickly regains his composure) CHARLIE What did you say? MCDEAN Everybody seems awful chipper around here, and I was just wondering what the secret is. CHARLIE Well, I don't know what the secret is, but I can tell you this, Mr. McDean. I can make your diner experience the best you ever had in your whole entire life. I can bring you a piece of pure heaven for a mere 55 cents. MCDEAN Is that so? CHARLIE Yes sir. A piece of Jubilation's famous apple pie. A glass of pure spring water. Make ya smile from ear ta ear. Even a big city boy like you. Idn't that right, Stella? STELLA Yes, that's true. Best around. MCDEAN All right then. Bring me a piece of that pie and a cup of... coffee. (THEY laugh) CHARLIE Yes sir! And Stella, get Mr. McDean another glass of water. STELLA Yes sir. (STELLA exits) CHARLIE Planning to stay over night in Jubilation, sir? MCDEAN I guess that would depend on my car. CHARLIE Yes, sir. Yes it would. MCDEAN Does Jim know what he's doing? CHARLIE Oh he surely does. Best mechanic in town. MCDEAN He's the only mechnic in town! (CHARLIE laughs, slaps his knee) CHARLIE Yes sir, that he is! MCDEAN He just seemed maybe a little slow to me. CHARLIE Slow? MCDEAN Never mind. I'm sure it's fine. CHARLIE Well, if you do need to stay in town a spell, if you go just a bit further down the road, you'll come to the hotel run by Mr. Frank Wiley. MCDEAN Just down the road... a piece. CHARLIE Yes sir. Maybe a quarter mile. Same side of the road. Can't miss it. MCDEAN Does it say "Otel"? (CHARLIE laughs) CHARLIE No, no, he ain't got no lit sign. It's jes a painted sign says "Frank's Hotel." MCDEAN Of course it does. CHARLIE (calling over his shoulder) Stella, honey, how about that water for Mr. McDean? (STELLA re-enters with the pie and coffee) STELLA Coming right up. CHARLIE Well, you enjoy your little slice of heaven, Mr. McDean. (CHARLIE exits. STELLA looks to see if HE's gone, then slips the bill on McDEAN's table) STELLA My shift is almost over. Do you mind if I leave this bill with you? MCDEAN Sure. Let me pay you now. (MCDEAN picks up the bill. Reads it and looks strangely at her. SHE places the pie and coffee on the table, though oddly not in front of him and exits. CHARLIE reenters as McDEAN produces his wallet) CHARLIE So what's the verdict, Mr. McDean? Oh you haven't even touched it yet. MCDEAN I'm sorry, Charlie. I just got a call from Mr. Jim. My car is ready. I gotta run on down there. CHARLIE I don't think he called here. MCDEAN He called me on my cell. CHARLIE Cell? MCDEAN Tell you what, let's just wrap that up to go. Ten dollars ought to cover it, right? CHARLIE Oh that's more than enough, Mr. McDean. (STELLA returns with a bag and plastic container) STELLA I think you wanted a doggy bag? MCDEAN Why yes. Yes, I did. (STELLA quickly wraps up pie) MCDEAN (cont'd) Thank you Stella. Thank you, Charlie. (CHARLIE looks a little bewildered but takes the tip, smiles and exits) MCDEAN (cont'd) Y'all have a nice night. (HE exits. HE walks into the next pool of light which is center stage. The woods. HE looks at his watch. HE looks in his doggy bag. STELLA soon arrives to meet him) MCDEAN (cont'd) Well, well, well. Nice little spot here. "Lovers Lookout." That's a sweet name. STELLA You came. MCDEAN Hell yes. How could I resist your mysterious note. STELLA I was afraid you'd just run away. MCDEAN Well, I don't have a working car. That'd be a trick. STELLA I have a car. MCDEAN Do you? STELLA Yes. It could go anywhere. Anywhere the roads take you. MCDEAN So what's this all about, Darlin'? STELLA It's hard to explain. MCDEAN People explain things to me that are hard to explain all the time. And somehow I make sense of it all. That's what I do. STELLA This town has nobody like you, that's for sure. MCDEAN I can believe that. STELLA All the men here are close to idiots, doting idiots...Jim, Charlie, Frank Wiley at the hotel, Sam Kincade.... MCDEAN I have a feeling you'd bring out the doting idiot in men whereever you lived. STELLA What's Chicago like? MCDEAN Windy. STELLA That all? MCDEAN It's amazing. You should come sometime. STELLA Could I stay with you? MCDEAN Honey, you can come visit me any time. STELLA I wish it were that easy...to leave here. (HE slides in behind her and takes her wrists and puts her hands on an imaginary wheel) MCDEAN It is easy. Just hop in your car, start your engine, and you drive. Just drive. (beat) So you want to explain your note? Why should I not eat or drink anything? STELLA Cause if you did, maybe you wouldn't feel much like leaving Jubilation. MCDEAN Pie's that good? STELLA It's that good...and maybe you'd turn into some kinda idiot too. MCDEAN Not likely. Though I might dote over you. STELLA This place is not what it seems. People here ... they look happy ... but... (HE runs a finger down her arm) MCDEAN What are you going on about? STELLA Would you take me with you? MCDEAN What? STELLA Take care of me? MCDEAN I might think about that. But maybe we should get to know each other better. STELLA I need someone. I can't stand it here...all the men... MCDEAN That why you asked me to meet you out here? STELLA Yes. MCDEAN Nobody here understands you. They're all a little too nice? STELLA Yes. MCDEAN Maybe you want someone who ain't so nice. STELLA Maybe. MCDEAN Well, I think you mighta found him. (HE leans in to kiss her, but SHE wriggles away) MCDEAN (cont'd) What's the matter? STELLA Could you love me forever? MCDEAN Darlin' I don't even know you--yet. STELLA I need help. I need someone to love me for me. MCDEAN That's what we all need. I'd need to kiss you right now. That's what I'd need. STELLA Don't you understand? MCDEAN Explain it to me. STELLA I need your... MCDEAN What? STELLA Can't you...? MCDEAN Look, Darlin', we gonna do this or not? Or I can go back over to the hotel, eat my pie and watch me some TV. Your call. STELLA You don't think you could be happy with me? Just me? MCDEAN Sure, baby, sure. Maybe if you’re real nice to me, if you know what I mean... STELLA When you talked so nice before, I thought maybe you were different. MCDEAN It is what it is. (Beat) STELLA I tried to help you. MCDEAN You did? Well, thanks for tryin'. (Beat) Okay, I gotta go. Been nice knowing you, Sweetheart. (HE starts to go) STELLA Wait! MCDEAN Yeah? STELLA Wanna know the secret to happiness? MCDEAN Sure. STELLA I lied before. MCDEAN That right? STELLA It's got nothin' ta do with the water. MCDEAN Good ta know. STELLA Kiss me before you go. MCDEAN Now yer talkin'. (HE takes two swift steps over to her, grabs her face and kisses her, at first passionately. Something like an electrical jolt passes through him. Then slowly his body changes and becomes less rigid and more pliant. HE releases the kiss, and a HUGE goofy smile creeps onto his face. The light shifts again to upstage-left, four chairs representing a taxi-cab. McDEAN, now the proud owner of his own permanent shit-eating grin, enters the driver's seat chair. A STRANGER PASSING THROUGH gets in to the "car" and sits in the back) MCDEAN (cont'd) Evening, sir. You call for a taxi? STRANGER Yeah. Just take me, uh-- MCDEAN --up the road a piece to the hotel? STRANGER Yeah, that's right. MCDEAN Yes sir. STRANGER So you can make a living driving a taxi in this rinky dink town? MCDEAN Well, I make due, sir. But I mostly do errands for people who don't have a car. Not too many out-of-towners passing through. I used to write for a newspaper, but I don't like bad news! STRANGER That's about the only kind there is. MCDEAN Seems that way sometimes. Depends on how you look at things. Lotta good news in Jubilation. (The STRANGER takes out a bill from the diner and reads it. McDEAN notices this in the rear view) MCDEAN (cont'd) Did you have a good meal, sir? STRANGER Quite friendly, people around here. MCDEAN Yes sir. STRANGER Hey, let me ask you something... MCDEAN Yes sir? STRANGER You know about a spot up the road called "Lover's Lookout"? MCDEAN Yes sir. I believe I do. STRANGER Forget the hotel. Take me there. MCDEAN Yes sir. (beat) So you think you might stay a while? STRANGER Nope. Just passing through. MCDEAN Passing through. Well, I hope you enjoy all Jubilation has to offer before you go. STRANGER Oh, I will. You can count on that. (McDEAN flashes a big smile, almost maniacal, lights suddenly pop up from floor level, lighting him at an upward angle. Then lights fade to black)
(END OF PLAY)
Script created with Final Draft by Final Draft, Inc.
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