So last year, I think it was last year, I was part of this 24 hour play thing here in Cedar Rapids. It was an absolute blast, and I’m a little disappointed that I haven’t heard of it occurring yet this year.
Anyway, last year it ran around Halloween. Therefore, we were given the task of creating Halloween themed plays. As the playwright, I blind-picked a setting (beauty pageant), and a monster (zombies). Then I had to figure in a prop: a large plush snake. I think there was another thing I had to work with, but I can’t remember what it was. Then we were given (again, I can’t quite remember) ten hours to write it.
I decided to do a spoof of Macbeth, complete with the blank verse. It was a hell of a challenge, but it was outrageously fun.
So, happy Halloween! Here is that ten-minute play.
The Tragedy of McQueen: or The Beauty Pageant Play
A friend, say I, dear friend Pornardo, see?
Thank God’s own dawn ‘tis you.
How stands the watch?
Tis bitter cold this night.
And have you seen them.
Not yet is the time.
For yon the moon shines low upon the roof
of Pageant’s yon pavilion’s yawning maw
that scarfs up beauties line of shoulder sashed
contestants who desire the crown of…
I sense a presence—perhaps three.
[Pointing to MC QUEEN] McQueen.
ZOMBIE WITCH 2
[Pointing and speaking Zombielike] McQueen.
ZOMBIE WITCH 3
[Et tu] McQueen.
We see your future in this race.
ZOMBIE WITCH 2
We see you honored full of grace.
ZOMBIE WITCH 3
We see you man of firsted place.
We see another you replace.
Of this, what is the fuck, my dear McQueen?
You look to tremble slack-jawed, as do I.
But it does seem to presage some good thing.
[To WITCHES] If you can give him this, then say to me…
ZOMBIE WITCH 2 & 3
Tchsssst! [Pops treats into W2&3’s mouths]
[Pointing to PORNADO] Poser friend of betters, you.
ZOMBIE WITCH 2
[Same as before] Erotic, kinky player, too.
Fine, fine, I’m fine with that. Thank you. That’s good.
[W1 turns and shoos W2&3 away, shushing them as they say “Brains” on their way offstage.]
No! Go you things that freak my shit.
O would that they had stayed. Did you not note
the one in center-front, how she did look?
I must admit I tried to look away.
So foul and fair a babe I have not seen.
She did, methinks, look quite like my McQueen.
Could it have been?
I shall go ask her. Then she’ll tell me so.
[Swirling a cocktail]…and juice of apple-pines and apricot
liqueur, and rum and ice. [Drinks] So come you spirits
that bend our mortal thoughts and sex me up
so that upon the morn I’ll wear the crown,
the garland that all beauties do desire,
with sash and prizes fabulous thereto.
[Goes to box and pulls out snake]
And you, my lovely asp, do know your charge
in this dark evenings scheme.
My wife! You’re up.
[Hiding asp] My husband. Did you see what we did seek?
Pornardo did not lie. His eyes were true.
And what said they? Did they not speak of us?
‘Twas hard to note, dear wife. Their words were strange
and came as thick as malted frozen cream.
[Aside] Yes, t’would confound a silly dolt like you.
But since I have the fourth wall disinterred
and thrown him into deafness on the stage,
I shall unpack to you my heart, and say
‘twas I that made the little birdie song.
But since he’s thick of brain and weak of heart,
I’ll to the wiles of my asp turn now to work.
[She turns to him suddenly and holds up the head of the snake.]
You cannot tear your eyes from off my asp!
[McQueen is suddenly stunned and comes over all glazed.]
[Mesmerized] My anaconda don’t want…
Tssst! I say
For now is not the time for that, my sweet.
‘Tis time for you to take my asp to eat.
I tell you, sweet Pornardo, she is changed.
How say you, fair Felicia, is she ought?
Aye, ought, I say! She’s ought!
[To off stage] Oh, sweet Hermetica, my darling child?
Thy mother says of thee that thou art ought.
What is it in thy self that brings thee low?
[From offstage.] Braiiiiiins.
They brains? Oh.
Wherefore, she has a fever, sweetest wife.
But ’tis tomorrow that the pageant shall be held.
She’ll ne’re do well to capture judges eyes
if she is laid low by the ague all the while.
Oh, by the ague.
By the ague.
Aye, the ague!
Aye, she does hurt, dear wife, I say ’tis true.
Well, then she can’t upon her talent twirl
the firebranded baton on the stage
while singing songs of revelry and joy.
‘Tis how the world spins, my sweetest chuck.
The pageant of today is sorrow’s morrow.
Things do bode ill, my love, and make me wary.
Your news of slack-jawed witches and their doom
does bring a tingling to my very spine.
‘Tis now upon the stroke of deep midnight
and something evil’s lurking in the dark.
Under the moonlight, things do oft there creep
and there are sights that almost stop your heart.
[Sound of a door slam]
Was that a door slam?
I want to scream
But terror takes the sound before I make it.
Tush. I can thrill you more than any ghost.
But I shall to the basement go to see
And check what sounds around down there may be.
In ten clicks of the clock I shall be back.
So meanwhile check our child in her room.
I tell you there is nothing to your gloom.
[He exits. FELECIA looks off to HERMETICA’s room. Exits.]
[Sound of a hiss.]
[LADY MC QUEEN is in her chamber pacing, awaiting her husband.]
That which I did drink hath made me bold.
T’was night creatures calling, the dead start to walk
in their masquerade.
He is about it.
The zombie asp does hiss the night’s foul work
and sloughs off what is left of conscience here.
[Enter MC QUEEN with asp]
[Zombielike] I have done the deed. Did’st thou hear a noise?
I heard the snake hiss and Felicia scream.
Who lies in the antechamber?
The sweet Hermetica. But she’s already mine.
Is this an asp now that I see before me
it’s head now turned toward my hand?
[She grabs the snake and hides it behind her back]
Stuff and nonsense! Now how was your night, my sweet.
[Back to normal but confused] Forsooth I cannot say.
It hangs about my head like cream new whipped
to frothy nothing.
Well, to sleep, my dear.
The morning brings the Pageant, and a life
we’ve yearned to live for quite some time now.
[She exits to bed]
[MC QUEEN watches her go]
My mind misgives some consequence
yet hanging in the stars.
A vision of the dead that jibber all
and squeak and peal upon the stage of doom.
I fear my wife has set a course of dread
upon the wholesome pageant of my mind.
But we shall see what this new morrow brings.
It may make things of wives and queens of kings.
[Aside] My dream is motion, none can stop the way!
I’ve stuck my asp into the rooms of those
whose beauty and intelligence I fear.
So zombies they’ve become, and now day long
they search for brains to fill their deathly maws.
Now only I do have the mind and beauty here
to win the pageant of the most refined.
[Aside] Alas, my wife and child are gone away.
I know not where they may have strayed this morn
as they have waited lo! life-long to see
this pageant day, for beauty is their dream
and winning all the crown and sash, their hope.
[Enter MC QUEEN]
McQueen! Have you not seen my wife and child?
Nay. For truth this grand pavilion vacant seems.
I know not why it is that only half
of all the lovely women are yet left.
Alas, I am afraid some ghoulish thing
has sprung it’s awful power on the earth.
‘Tis true. And I have felt a tremor in the force.
All nature seems abhorred within this place.
But you, my friend, must press on with the day
and show those that are left we will prevail.
Alack, I am concerned about my wife.
But I shall carry on and do my work. [Exits]
[Aside] The foulest stench I smell is in the air;
The funk of forty thousand some-odd years.
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb I fear
Are closing in to seal this pageant’s doom.
Wherefore do you shudder so, my love?
You look as though you tremble with a fright.
Do not you know this day is ours, my sweet?
The witch foretold this pageant would be ours.
I told you not of what they said to me!
You have played me for the fool I surely am.
My chuck! You need the courage that I bring.
You have no manly set to pull you through.
But hold with me and we will see the crown!
‘Tis you! You’ve brought some evil foul thing here.
Nothing will stop me from my grip upon the crown!
What have you done? How have you made the others disappear?
You weak and silly snake. Stay on the ground
and slither in the dirt if that’s for you.
But I shall grab the silver sparkling round.
With or without what is left of you! [Exits]
[Aside] Of course. And now my mind is sprung upon
a memory of serpents from the sea.
Our last trip to the islands she was fond
of that strange charmer with the snakes. Yes he.
And those three witches, surely she was one.
The other two, they seemed so namby pamby
How could I have been so foolish fond
Those two others surely must be zombie.
[To offstage] Pornardo, my good friend.
Aye did you call?
I have upon a dim and frightful sight
discovered how this day’s misfortune fell.
Do say, my friend.
Aye, that I will. But hold.
For you must push this pageant forth toward the end.
Begin this day with questions. Do not fear.
For what you see may fright you. But hold firm.
I now know how to make this devil squirm.
[Enter PORNADO with mic to pageant music]
A welcome one and all unto this day
and hands we give unto our pageant band. [He claps for the band]
We have been asked to turn this pageant round
and ‘gin today with questions for the girls.
So let us welcome now Vapidia,
Young miss teen from some place in the south.
[VAPIDIA enters all smiles]
The question for you dear today is this.
[Offstage we hear softly “Braiiiiiins” which gets louder through the scene]
“Some recent polls have shown only a fifth
of all Americans can find upon
a map, their own true country. Why is this?”
I personally believe that US Americans are
unable to do so…
[ZOMBIE FELECIA enters saying”Braiiiiins”]
…because uh some-uh people out there in our, uh nation
don’t have maps…
[“Braiiiiins” Sees VAPIDIA and begins heading toward her]
…and uh I believe that our education like such as in South Africa…
…and uh, The Iraq, and everywhere like such as and…
[“Braiiiiiins” stops and looks at VAPIDIA as VAPIDIA continues. Then over VAPIDIA’s speech says “Nooooo.” Shakes her head then zombies off to find brains elsewhere.]
…I believe that they should, our education over here. In the US, our education over should help the us….
[LADY runs on terrified]
They have staked me to the stage. I cannot fly.
[Offstage several “Braiiiiiiiins”]
Beshrew my rash desires. I am done.
Oh that I had one tenth intelligence this day.
A kingdom for a sash and crown!
To be a doll in dress and rouge
instead of dressed intelligent clothes.
A plague! A plague on slacks and blouses!
[The shadow puppet zombies close in around her and she screams]
[Enter MC QUEEN in dress and wig with tiara and snake around his shoulders]
The viper-wife is dead and gone!
Rejoice, we are now safe!
With crown and boa, dress and thong
no longer will I chafe!
The power I hold in my hand to let the zombies free
for only one of smarts was left
for them upon to eat.
Though Zombies and a crazy wife
did try to end the show
The pageant will always go on
your brains and beauty knows.
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
Remember, mortals can’t resist
The evil of the thriller.