Monday, February 7, 2011

Good News Pizza

Originally produced by 24/7 on January 28, 2011 at Live Arts, Charlottesville, VA 22902


GOOD NEWS PIZZA

a ten-minute play

Friday morning at a family-run pizza parlor. RUTH, a lovely lady in a pizza uniform, full make-up and nicely-styled hair, is standing at a counter with a large bowl, finishing the last steps of making a large bowl of homemade blue cheese dressing.

RUTH

(reading from an index card, stirring, then following directions carefully)

“Fold in crumbled bleu cheese.” (she coughs, gags a little at the smell). Yuck.

As she is about to seal up the container, MARK, industrious and strong, also in uniform, flies into the kitchen from the “restaurant” entrance.

MARK

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Did you break up the chunks?

RUTH

(to the audience…Mark cannot hear her)

This is my shit job.

MARK

Let’s see.

(he takes the lid off and sticks his hand right into the blue cheese. He feels around and pulls out a big slab of bleu cheese)

Does this look like “crumbles”? No, this looks like what wrecked the Titanic! An iceberg of bleu cheese. (demonstrating, breaking up the chunk with his hand) Break it up, break it up, break it up!

RUTH

(to the audience)

I’m a real estate agent.

MARK

Ruth, you gotta honor the recipe. You gotta work the bleu cheese.

RUTH

(to audience)

I drive a BMW.

MARK

Everything’s like the moment with the bleu cheese – you gotta get in there and BREAK IT UP!

RUTH

I haven’t sold a house in three months and I have no savings. So I took this shit job.

MATT, with lots of positive zeal and also in uniform, comes sailing in from the back door of the kitchen.

MATT

God is whispering my name this morning, but he’s so quiet. Turn up the volume, Lord, I must be going deaf!

Matt turns on the radio. It is Christian rock.

MARK

Don’t turn that on.

Mark exits abruptly.

MATT

(swaying to the music, lifting up his hands)

It is a blessed day. Lord, help my brother. I pray to you: God, guide Mark back into your flock. We all stray, and we pretend not to hear your call. We are all shattered by sin. Amen. (pause) Ruth, are you wearing perfume?

The phone rings.

RUTH

(hurrying to answer it)

Good morning, Good News Pizza –

MATT points to a piece of paper on the wall and encourages her through hand gestures to repeat it.

RUTH

(a little awkwardly)

“For the sake of your name, O Lord, forgive my iniquity, though it is great. –Psalm 25:11” Will this be pick-up or delivery?

RUTH

(covering phone, to the audience)

As soon as I sell a house, I’m outta here.

MATT

Ruth, I want to train you to start working out front. You’re too pretty to be in the back.

RUTH

(looking petrified to the audience)

No. I like it in the back.

MATT

(a little too close to her)

But you smell so good. And God blessed you with good looks. And I like how you do your eye make-up.

MARK

(returning abruptly)

Ruth, how big was that order?

Ruth

Two pizzas for BB&T by noon.

MARK

(excited by the business, turning off the radio)

Yeah, baby! 20 pizzas for the Christian school, 2 for BB&T…(dancing) we’re rockin’ out the holy dough.

Matt leaves, offended.

MARK

Ready to learn the secret sauce recipe this afternoon?

RUTH

(cutting onions)

I was going to try to leave by two.

(to the audience)

I’m showing a condo to a retired couple.

MARK

Do you know how to blog and Twitter and all that?

RUTH is silent.

MARK

Do you know how to do the internet?

RUTH

No.

(to the audience)

When you have a shit job, you have to act really incompetent or they drag you into it. Further into the shittiness.

MARK

Ruth, you gotta soak those onions in ice water first! I can’t believe you don’t know how to blog. Do you know how to do the Facebook?

RUTH

(lying)

Sorry.

MATT

(entering, carrying tongs)

“When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. –Psalm 65:3.” Lord, there aren’t enough Psalms to help me through maintaining a sanitary salad bar.

MARK

Ruth, you want to try to close the afternoon till? I think you’re ready for the cash register. (scrutinizing one of Ruth’s crusts)

These crusts are too thin. Terrible.

Matt starts towards the crusts, but Mark stops him.

MATT

I’ll redo these. YOU go out front. I’ll pray for you.

MARK

Don’t.

Mark exits. Matt turns on the radio.

MATT

Ruth, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

RUTH

(cutting and crying)

Are these small enough? Am I doing this right?

MATT

(shaking his head)

Smaller. You know, the war ruined my brother.

RUTH

He probably has PTSD.

MATT

No. Yeah? No. Really? That sounds so serious.

RUTH

He was in the war. I startled him in the beer cooler yesterday and he freaked out.

MATT

I’m going to Google that. PSTD?

RUTH

PTSD. Post-traumatic—

MATT

Right, right. He doesn’t want to deliver the Good News anymore. He just wants to blog and sell beer.

RUTH

I’ve kind-of lost my faith, too.

MATT

Ruth! But I feel like you have your door open. After the hell you’ve been through. The hard times…they prime you for Jesus. (really gesturing) They wring the devil out of you and it makes space. Don’t you feel like the devil has been wrung out of you?

RUTH

I am tired all the time.

MATT

Exactly. (pulling out a toothbrush) Listen, Mark’s paranoid about the health inspector. Use this to clean out the keg drain this afternoon.

RUTH looks at the audience. Lights down.

SCENE 2: It is 2 p.m. Ruth is wiping down the counter. She is covered in flour and there is pizza sauce on her shirt. Mark enters snapping a kitchen towel at her thighs. He also has flour on him, but he appears to only be exhilarated by the business.

MARK

Whoo! Whoo! (snapping the towel at her) That was awesome! I think we did at least $700 at lunch.

RUTH

(taking her apron off)

It was really busy. I’m going to take off.

MARK

$700! Maybe more! That’s huge! Oh shit, you know what? You know what? I forgot…oh crap. Dishwasher called in sick. Can you stay and get these done?

RUTH

(lying)

I have to pick up my kids--

MARK

I hear ya, I hear ya. I told Matt we shouldn’t hire thugs and felons to be our dishwashers. In this economy, I should have Prozac salesmen washing my dishes. But then he starts in on the forgiveness shit–you can use the hours, though, right?

RUTH

No, I have to go.

MARK

Whoa, whoa, whoa, let’s see some dedication here.

RUTH

No! I have to go!

MARK

(exploding)

Ruth! Jesus! And I have to look through the applications this afternoon and maybe replace you. How’s that? You’re lying to me Ruth, aren’t you? You’re going to show a house, aren’t you?

RUTH shrugs.

MARK

Ruth! The economy’s dead! Dead!

RUTH

It’s just sluggish, really.

MARK

No, Ruth! It’s dead. Come on. I need you. Go if you have to, but I need you. Those people are just wasting your time. They’re not going to buy! But I NEED you. (grabbing her arms, intensely) And, I gotta tell you, I don’t think Matt’s stable.

Matt enters with great flair and enthusiasm.

MATT

I delivered the Good News!

(reading from his flyer)

“They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers. Acts 2:42” I delivered the pepperoni and the prayers!

MARK

Damn, you’re good. (trying to fist pump w/Matt) $700 lunch, buddy boy. $700.

MATT

And who got the big order from the Christian Day School? Who, BUDDY BOY?

MARK

(picking up Matt, who starts screaming)

You did! Who da stud? Matt da stud! Who da best salesman to all dat love God and sausage and hamburger? Matt da stud!

MATT

(who has gone stiff and silent)

Put me down.

MARK

(mussing up Matt’s hair, heading up front)

You gotta get out there and sell like that every day!

MATT

You’re putting a lot of pressure on me. There aren’t that many Christian schools in town and other businesses resist the Good News. They call Papa John’s.

MARK

Then let’s make the change. Let’s drop God.

MATT

No! I have to keep delivering the Good News with our pizza. And you have to stop mocking God. You asshole! Oh, Lord, forgive me. I fall at your feet.

MARK

(gesturing for her to get back to work)

Ruth. Work. Don’t make me micro-manage you. Do the dishes. You’re on the clock, right?

RUTH

(to the audience)

Let me tell you who has PTSD. I do. I’m post-traumatic. One day I’m driving a BMW and I’m investing in condos and I have a beautiful house full of expensive shit. I’m keeping a horse at a stable. I mean, who the fuck does that? Me. The almost rich. We thought we were going to do it. Make it. Then…I’m neglecting to pay my taxes a little here and there, thinking I’ll make it up on the next sale, but they start coming fewer and farther between. Man, when it was good, I was rolling. I was SELLING, you know, and they were BUYING. One week I sold a million dollar farm. A fucking million dollar farm! And I made 2% commission. $20,000 in commission for what, for what, 12 hours of work…total? Shit that was awesome. That was so awesome. I have the best shoes. But it’s over. It popped, and now I’m jumpy and weary and the BMW needs a timing belt. It could go any day, just BOOM! POP! On the interstate while I’m driving a couple to a house they are NOT going to buy, and then what, you know, then what’s going to happen to me? I’m in worse shape than the guy who just came back from the war. How? How does that happen to a person? (putting her apron on)I’m safer here. (looking at the brothers) That’s so scary.

MARK

Ruth, Ruth, I’m sorry. I’m being an ass. Come on, come on. I think she’s ready for the front, don’t you, Matt?

MATT

Definitely. And have you smelled her? She smells wonderful. She’s a gift from God.

They all head out towards the front of the restaurant.

MATT

I’ll show you all the tricks to the salad bar. You have to really watch the Thousand Island. It gets crusty.

MARK

And I’m going to show you how to count down the ‘til. It’s going to get crazy at dinner time, but I think you can handle it.

Lights down.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Personal Board of Directors