Intro by Joyce Carol Oates,
Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton
Facial Hair (MP3)
The rehearsal I had finished a few hours ago kept playing itself over and over again in my head. I had been cast in the role of a young man who spends the show trying to seduce other young men. With monologues. He seduces them with monologues. Unfortunately, the director Paul hadn’t been particularly impressed with my gay monologue seduction attempts.
After one such effort, he looked at me sadly. “Sam.” He said.
“Paul.” I replied.
“We need to get some of these emotions down.”
He sighed. “You need to loosen up, man. Have some fun with it; savor it. And stop worrying about the whole gay thing. Women love guys who play gay men.”
The stage manager’s head popped up at that. “What?” she asked.
“Shut up Talia,” Paul continued, “No, I’m serious. This campus is full of fag hags.”
“Oh.” I wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to that. “But isn’t that bad for straight guys?”
Paul ignored me. “You’re character is really uncomfortable and nervous in this scene. I need you to internalize that. Actually no, no, you know what? This is great! We’ll get to use some Brechstine.”
Brechstine? I said, “You know, I think I already have a pretty good idea of what it feels to be nervous and uncomfortable.”
“Put your script down.”
“We’re going to improvise your monologue.”
“We’re going to improvise my monologue?”
I paused. “Couldn’t I just try reading it again?”
“No, we’re using Brechstine.
“Who the flick is Brechstine?”
“Just put your script down kid.”
“I really suck at improv games.”
“I don’t care. Don’t worry about it. Just don’t think and say the first thing that pops into your mind, alright?”
He continued “Have you ever read a personal add?”
Talia snorted from her corner.
Paul pointed at her. “Shut up Talia This is Brechstine.”
“Would you please stop saying Brechstine?” I asked him.
“Stop interrupting. Look, it’s not a difficult question. Have you ever read a personal ad?”
“Yes. No. Maybe.” Wow, I already felt uncomfortable. Great. “Why do you ask?”
“Look, this speech just has an element of ‘personal ad’ to it. Alright, flick it.” He shook his hands at me. “We’ll try something else.”
“Will it still be Brechstine?”
“Shut up. I’m frying to make you a better actor.”
“Shut the fuck up!” Paul collected himself and asked me, “Look, did you go to your senior prom?”
“So you went?”
“Did you take someone you cared about?”
“Do we have to play this game?”
“Fine! No I did not.”
“Alright, alright, that’s cool.”
Fuck you man. I didn’t say it out loud, but what the hell?
Paul continued, “Was there someone you wanted to take but didn’t?”
“What did she look like?”
For reasons I don’t really understand, in my haste to not describe the girl I hadn’t taken to my high school prom, I panicked and began describing the first girl I could think of. Who happened to be the girl I’d recently fallen in love with who lives across the hall from me in my dorm. I hate improv games.
“Um.” I found myself saying, “Cute. Asian. Petite. Hair, teeth, eyes... um.”
Halfway through listing some of the body parts that could be found on her head, I realized that Talia the stage manager, who was sitting all of fifteen feet away from me, was actually a good friend of this girl. God, I hate improve games. And believe it or not, it was then that words really began to fail me. “She... likes to cook.” Damn it.
“Is that it?”
“Yes. You know what, how about I try those monologues again? I’m actually feeling sexed up and loose. Hoo-Ha! I’m gonna seduce me some boys!”
“What was her name?”
I told myself, “Just don’t say Susan Bren.” I looked at Paul and said, “Not Susan Bren.” Fuck. I hate improv games. My brain never cooperates, that’s why I don’t do improv. It’s... fuck.
“Ok Sam,” Paul was getting serious, “for this speech, I want you to believe that Susan Bren has just asked, ‘Sam, why should I go out with you? What do you have to offer me?’ How would you respond?”
I stared at him “Are you serious?”
“Yes! Do it man! Susan Bren; ‘Sam, what do you want from me?’ What do you say?”
“She wants to know what I want from her?”
“You’re gonna blow it, Dude- Start talking!”
“Uh. I want someone.. . fun loving?”
“Fun loving? Okay, good good, that’s good.. What else?”
“I want someone... who likes to cook?” God I’m an idiot
“Okay, she likes cooking, you told me she likes cooking, that’s good. What else do you want from Susan Bren?”
“Could you please stop using her name?” My left eye had begun to twitch every time he did. I was praying that Talia was just completely zonked out, and wasn’t listening to a fucking either Paul or I was saying. I looked over at her. She seemed to be engaged with her laptop. Too engaged
“What?” Paul was confused. “No, no, look, it doesn’t matter. Just think of more things to say.”
“I have to think of more?”
“You’ve thought of two. Two things. You can think of some more- come on!”
“Will stop saying ‘someone who’? This is monologue, not a grocery list. Just relax.”
“I’m relaxed! I’m perfectly fucking relaxed! I am so relaxed... actually, you know what?” I continued, “I really feel I’ve got this whole ‘being uncomfortable’ thing down. How about we move on?”
“In moment man! Just relax, imagine Susan ....”
“Would you stop using her fucking name?! Jesus Christ!”
“Whoa- Calm down.”
“I’m calm! I’m calm! I’m perfectly fucking calm ...you, you know what? I... I think have internalized these emotions. I...yes, I really have. Brechstine would be proud. I’m feeling good. Let’s line up the man meat I am ready to start the gay seduction FUCK!”
“Are you alright?” Paul suddenly seemed a little concerned.
“I’m fine. I’m fine.” Talia’s a whore. “I’m fine. Um, what were we working on again?”
God I hate improv games.
- by Alexander Jay Adam
© Copyright 2009