2016

Clark Writes editor Laura Barker was the winner of this year’s Loring Holmes & Ruth Dodd Drama Contest. Her play explores a multi-racial family before and after the infamous 2016 election. Laura was inspired by how race, sexuality, and gender played into the political environment we live in today. Read 2016 below.

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2016

Laura Barker

 

Characters:
KEVIN: The father. A easy-going man who tries to see the good in everything.
ISABELLA: His Hispanic wife. She’s too busy being pregnant with baby number three to care about the election.
FELIX: Kevin’s son. He’s flamboyantly gay and hell-bent on being a YouTube celebrity.
VALERIE: Kevin’s daughter. An outspoken liberal.
OLIVER: Felix’s boyfriend. Sweet, socially awkward.
CRAIG and FREDDIE: Patrons of Kevin’s bar.
REPORTER: A reporter covering the events.

Setting:
A Indiana suburb in the year leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election.

 

ACT I, Scene 1

(Afternoon, the living room of a typical 21st century suburban house. ISABELLA is plays a game on her iPad, a hand on her stomach. FELIX applies purple lipstick and checks his reflection in his phone, taking the occasional selfie. VALERIE does homework. FELIX sighs.)

FELIX
I’m bored.

ISABELLA
You know what your abuela would have to say about that.

FELIX
Yes, yes, “You’re not bored, you’re just boring.” Well, what does she know? Bingo is the most exciting thing in her world. I want to do something. Let’s go out to eat tonight. There’s an incredible little Thai place that just opened up and everyone’s been raving about their dragon berry nom yen. Or we could go for a sunset walk on the beach.

VALERIE
Or you could do your homework.

FELIX
I wasn’t asking you.

VALERIE
You only want to do that stuff so you can post it on Instagram.

FELIX
So what? There’s nothing wrong with a little glamour. Not everyone wants to live their life in sweatpants.

ISABELLA
Felix. Play nice.

(FELIX goes back to preparing for his make-up video)

FELIX
Which shade looks better? Lavender or plum?

VALERIE
Neither.

FELIX
Why do you keep thinking I’m asking you?

VALERIE
Who else could you be asking?

FELIX
(He blows a kiss to ISABELLA). I happen to think Momma’s got excellent taste.

ISABELLA
(flattered) Thank you, baby. But stop being an asshole to your sister.

(FELIX looks hurt. He puts on the lipstick.)

VALERIE
Wait ‘til Dad sees you.

(ISABELLA sits up suddenly, hand to her mouth like she’s about to throw up.)

FELIX
Momma!

VALERIE
Are you okay?

ISABELLA
I’m fine…I’m fine…

FELIX
Are you sure? I can make you some ginger tea or-

ISABELLA
Thanks, sweetie. I’m okay.

(KEVIN through the door and he’s pissed.)

ISABELLA
Kevin! I was just about to come pick you up.

KEVIN
Caught a ride home with Cal. God, I’m just about ready to throw the television at the bar off of the goddamn roof. If I see one more political ad, I’m going to shoot my brains out.

ISABELLA
Don’t talk like that, Kev.

KEVIN
I’m serious! I can’t take it anymore, Isa! It’s Sanders and Clinton and Cruz and Bush and it’s all every single channel is talking about. I can’t even watch the Hoosiers in peace. God, I just don’t care.

ISABELLA
(joking) Don’t forget Trump!

(Everyone but VALERIE laughs.)

KEVIN
Please. I’m telling you right now, that joker’s not going to get one single vote. Not one vote. Why is anyone even paying attention to that orange troll? He’s a joke.

VALERIE
Why are you laughing? Have you been watching the polls? He’s pulling ahead in most of the Southern States.

KEVIN
Hey. No politics before dinner. And how about a hello, Madame President?

VALERIE
(sullenly) Hi, Dad.

KEVIN
That’s more like it. (kisses daughter on the forehead). And let me tell you, someone threw up in the bathroom sink and it stinks. I mean, it really stinks. I spent twenty minutes cleaning it up, and the sonofabitch doesn’t even say thank you! God, people today. The last time I cleaned up someone’s vomit who didn’t say thank you, it was Felix’s and he was three and wasn’t old enough to talk!

FELIX
Sorry about that, by the way.

KEVIN
(noticing his son for the first time) What are you doing with that mess on your mouth, son?

FELIX
It’s Sephora’s latest release. Purple Perfection.

(KEVIN stares at his son for a long time, but doesn’t say anything.)

KEVIN
Purple, huh?

FELIX
Isn’t it gorgeous?

KEVIN
It’s something. Is that what the guys are wearing nowadays? The guys that are ga-guys that are like you?

FELIX
Not yet. But they all will be after they see my tutorial “Felix Takes on Fall’s Daring New Color”!

KEVIN
(grabbing a beer from the fridge) Whatever floats your boat, son.

FELIX
(excited) Do you know how much Jeffery Star makes for prompting one lipstick in one video? Five thousands. Five thousand dollars for putting on lipstick. How crazy is that?

KEVIN
(uninterested) It sure is crazy. Now, pipe down, Game of Thrones is on in ten.

(The family sits down in front of the television. Kevin turns on the TV and it’s CNN.)

KEVIN
Not this bullshit again. Fuck you, Wolf Blitzer. Fuck you and your stupid neck beard.

VALERIE
Dad, wait! Don’t change the channel!

KEVIN
Valerie, I swear to God. (KEVIN tastes beer, almost spits it out). Damnit, this beer is warm. That’s great. Really fucking great. I’m gonna grab another. Isa, you want one?

ISABELLA
No. I’m not going to be drinking for a while (she touches her stomach).

KEVIN
(Pause) Isa! Are you sure?

ISABELLA
I’ve gone through this twice before, I know the signs. My boobs are massive, I’m nauseous all the time, and my period is two months late.

KEVIN
Oh, Isa! (He kisses her). I’m so happy. God, you look so- (He kisses her. He can’t stop kissing her) so radiant. You’re amazing, Isa. This baby is going to be amazing.

FELIX
Congrats, Momma!

(FELIX and KEVIN congratulate and hug her. VALERIE hangs back).

KEVIN
Valerie, aren’t you going to say congratulations to your mother?

VALERIE
I mean, of course but…Mom, have you been to a doctor yet?

ISABELLA
I know, I know, pregnancies in the late thirties are more “difficult.” I know the stats, I’ve seen them a million times. But I know my body. I can already feel the baby growing in me, and I feel good. Just like I did when I had you two. You can’t always trust statistics, Val.

VALERIE
You think you know more than millions of scientists? Just because you “feel” like you’re right?

KEVIN
For Christ’s sake, Valerie, just say you’re happy for her.

VALERIE
But-

KEVIN
Valerie!

VALERIE
(defeated) Congratulations, Mom. (Pause). I just think it’s ridiculous that Mom-

KEVIN
Goddamnit, Valerie, for once, just let us be happy. I’m getting really sick of this holier-than-thou attitude you’ve got. If it’s not the election, it’s gay rights, it’s animal rights, it’s bi-polar-trans-racial-inclusive-whatever! Can you calm down for one minute and just be happy?

VALERIE
I’m not going to sit pretty and be quiet in this era of ignorance!

KEVIN
When your older, you can become president and fix the world however you please. But you’re a kid, Valerie. You don’t understand how the world works.

VALERIE
I’m not a kid! I’m sixteen! You can’t just ignore statistics and make your own rules just because you feel like it! And I wish you wouldn’t shut me down every time I want to talk about the election because-

KEVIN
Wait. Game of Thrones is on. We can talk about it later.

 

ACT I, Scene 2

(Living room. FELIX and OLIVER come down from the upper floor. They’re playfully flirty, but stop when they see ISABELLA is still watching television.)

OLIVER
Hey, Mrs. Franklin. What are you watching?

ISABELLA
Mad Men. Look at their clothes. God, they’re so glamorous. I wish women still dressed like that today. Hey, was the door open up there? I don’t want any funny business under my roof.

FELIX
Why not? It’s not like we’re going to get pregnant.

(OLIVER smacks FELIX in the stomach.)

ISABELLA
Do we need to have the STD talk again? In front of your boyfriend?

OLIVER
We certainly don’t, Mrs. Franklin. Felix told me the good news. Congratulations.

ISABELLA
Thank you so much, sweetie. God, I’m so gassy.

FELIX
Momma!

ISABELLA
It’s a good sign, Felix, it means the baby is healthy. But Christ, does it smell bad. It’s like hot dogs and onions. I feel like I’m at a baseball game. And I’m craving pickles and jellybeans 24/7 (sits up, suddenly angry). Did I tell you boys what happened to me on the bus today? Back when my mother was pregnant, people knew to give up their seat on the bus for her. I had to stand while some Millennial brat was texting with his headphones in. People don’t know how to treat each other anymore. Back in my day, people had manners.

FELIX
And the roads were paved in gold in the good old days. I wanted to show Felix something (takes out a virtual reality headset).

OLIVER
Holy shit! (Remembering ISABELLA is there) Sorry, Mrs. Franklin.

ISABELLA
It’s alright, honey, worse things have been said in this house. Most of them by me. I’ve got to get going to pee break number six. You two behave while I’m on the john (ISABELLA leaves).

OLIVER
Your mother is a national treasure. So you really got one of these?

FELIX
Yup!

OLIVER
How much did it cost?

FELIX
Eight hundred dollars.

OLIVER
Did advertisements pay that much?

FELIX
No, I only got $25. But that’s twenty-five for two weeks. Once I take off, I can buy hundreds of these. Try it on.

(OLIVER puts on the virtual reality set. FELIX runs over to his computer and picks out a program.)

OLIVER
Ooh, it’s heavy. Wait. Oh my God! I’m in the ocean! Oh my God, I can’t breathe! (starts hyperventilating).

FELIX
You can breathe.

OLIVER
Wait. I can breathe! This is amazing. It’s just like I’m underwater. (OLIVER reaches out in front of him).

FELIX
You can’t pet the whale, babe.

OLIVER
But it looks so real! (OLIVER tilts his head up). And there’s fish up there! You can see their gills. Felix, this is incredible.

FELIX
(FELIX sits on Oliver’s lap and takes off the headset). In twenty years, everyone will have one. It’ll be as normal as having a cellphone. And you’ll be able to make avatars, reach out and touch people. You’ll be able to be on stage next to Beyoncé, explore all seven continents and all four, all from the comfort of your living room.

OLIVER
It’s amazing.

FELIX
And I’m going to be rich. I’m going to make the world beautiful with purple lipstick and champagne colored eye shadow and I’m going to be very, very rich. I’m going to buy myself a huge house with one of those rose gardens like they have in Gone With The Wind. Instagram will pay me millions for every post. And we can travel the world together: café au lait in Paris, shopping in Monaco, tanning in the South of Italy. And of course, I still need to think of my charity.

OLIVER
Your what?

FELIX
My charity, silly. Every celebrity has their pet charity. Bono has ONE, Angelia Jolie has UNICEF.

OLIVER
Gay rights?

FELIX
No, Lady Gaga claimed that. I like animals. I’ll save the dogs. That will be my contribution to humanity.

OLIVER
Have you found other companies that want to sell ads to you yet?

FELIX
That’s not how you do it, Oliver. You need the dream first, then the plan. The future is going to be incredible.

OLIVER
As long as it goes according to the plans of Felix. (They kiss). Hey, do you want to go to your sister’s rally after school?

FELIX
No. What’s the point? No one’s going to notice a student protest in the middle of Indiana. Don’t worry about the election, babe. It’ll give you wrinkles. Besides, we all know Hillary’s got the election in the bag. My dad always says the nation the elected Obama twice would never elect an idiot like Trump.

 

ACT 1, Scene 3

(Late night, a news anchor’s desk. The stage it set though that it feel like we’re watching television. Behind the desk, we see KEVIN’S bar. A Muslim REPORTER in a hijab is reporting).

REPORTER
The results from the primaries are in. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are now the two official candidates running to be the President of the United States of America. Republican party officials are still in shock over Trump’s nomination. President Obama says he feels ‘confident’ in Clinton’s ability to be President. More at nine.

(Light fades on desk. Light rises on closing time at KEVIN’s bar, a crappy dive bar. The name of the bar (“Live and Let Live”) is lit up in flickering neon lights. CRAIG and FREDDIE are nursing drinks at the bar).

CRAIG
Another one.

KEVIN
Same thing?

CRAIG
Yup.

KEVIN
Coming right up.

FREDDIE
Kevin, you ever listen to that Hamilton soundtrack? The musical?

KEVIN
No.

FREDDIE
Yeah, well, my daughter’s obsessed. That’s all she listens to. I gave it a listen. Didn’t do a thing for me. It was all about taxes and the Founding Fathers, and I just don’t get it. But Lucy wants tickets to it more than anything else in the world. But do you know how much those tickets cost? $1,200! Can you fucking believe that? $1,200! What I could do with that kind of money, and those are the shitty seats!

KEVIN
Jesus Christ.

FREDDIE
And Lucy won’t let up! But on my salary, how does she think on $13 k a year?

CRAIG
And you know why? You know why? Because all of these goddamn Mexicans. Coming into America and taking jobs from true Americans like you. It ain’t right. They’re getting all the benefits.

KEVIN
Keep drinking your beer and shut up, Craig.

CRAIG
You shut up.

FREDDIE
Isn’t your wife from Mexico, Kevin?

KEVIN
Her parents are.

FREDDIE
You want me to say something to him?

KEVIN
Nah, he’s harmless. Sitting there, drinking his beer, he’s not gonna do nothing to nobody. Right, Craig, you ugly drunk sonofabitch? (CRAIG grunts, but doesn’t do anything. He’s too drunk to react). That’s right, sit there and pay my rent. You’re not gonna do shit.

(The television in the corner turns to election news.)

FREDDIE
Turn that shit off.

KEVIN
(turns off the television). It’s closing time anyways.

FREDDIE
What are you gonna do with Craig?

KEVIN
Same thing I do everyday. Leave him outside for his wife to pick up.

FREDDIE
But what if his wife doesn’t come pick him up one day?

KEVIN
She will. You gotta have faith with people, Freddie. They always come through.

(ISABELLA appears)

FREDDIE
Kevin, did your wife stop going to Soul Cycle? She looks a little…

KEVIN
She’s pregnant, asshole. (To ISABELLA) Hey, honey, you’re early.

ISABELLA
Yeah, I got done with chores early, thought I’d stop by (she sits and watches KEVIN close up. CRAIG and FREDDIE stumble outside).

KEVIN
What’s up?

ISABELLA
We should take a trip. Before the baby comes. Somewhere new.

KEVIN
Cancun?

ISABELLA
Yeah.

KEVIN
I still can’t believe you’ve never been there.

ISABELLA
Please. Like you’ve been everywhere in America. I want something new. I feel like we’ve been stuck in a rut for a while now. We need something new. Something crazy. Something to shake things up.

(KEVIN finishes up cleaning the bar. KEVIN and ISABELLA look at each other. They begin a slow, elegant waltz. The news blares on behind them. They dance on, ignoring it.)

 

ACT I, Scene 4

(Living room. KEVIN is trying out the virtual reality kit. ISABELLA watches an episode of something on her iPad.)

KEVIN
There’s a whale! Look at that! How crazy is that? Isa, you gotta try this!

VALERIE
Dad, can you finish up? I want to watch the election results.

KEVIN
You know Hillary’s going to win. I don’t want to see her smug face any sooner than I have to.

(Doorbell rings).

KEVIN
Val, can you get that?

VALERIE
Make Felix do it.

KEVIN
Valerie!

(VALERIE sighs loudly, but opens the door)

VALERIE
Dinner’s here.

ISABELLA
Oh thank God, I’m starving.

(The whole family sits down for a dinner of take-out Chinese)

KEVIN
That thing is really incredible, son.

FELIX
Isn’t it? I think I’m going to feature it on my next episode of Fridays with Felix!

KEVIN
What?

FELIX
It’s when I talk about my week and show off the beauty products I bought.

KEVIN
Who watches that?

FELIX
Mom. Tons of people from high school. Random people around the school.

VALERIE
You should talk about the election.

FELIX
Yes, why don’t I bring on your little feminist friends with their hairy armpits and chapped lips and their sweaty I’m With Her t-shirts. That’ll really get the ad money in.

VALERIE
This election is more important than a couple of sponsors, Felix. This is stuff that people really need to hear.

FELIX
This election is on every Facebook post, every magazine, every book, everywhere you turn. I want to give people a place to escape and just enjoy make-up. No one our age even votes.

KEVIN
Let’s talk about something pleasant.

VALERIE
I don’t want to. I can’t sit here and talk nice when everywhere I turn I see this disgusting man talking about how he wants to make America great again. (stands up) You can sit here and chat about lipstick and Netflix, but I’m going to watch the results come on.

(KEVIN stands to fight with his daughter, but ISABELLA puts a hand on his arm. VALERIE sits on the couch alone and watches the results pour in. Her hopefulness slowly turns to despair as the results roll in. Behind her, her family chats cheerfully Right before the lights go down, VALERIE puts her head in her hands).

 

ACT II, Scene 1

(ISABELLA sits on the couch, phone pressed to her ear. This is the first time we’ve seen her without her iPad).

ISABELLA
Madre? Hey. It’s Isa. Hey. Yeah, I’ve been busy. Really busy. How are you? Are you…okay? After yesterday? Yeah. Yeah, I just assumed that Hillary would win. Yeah. I’m fine. I don’t feel so good. My stomach feels weird. Like I ate some bad fish and it’s just turning over and over in my stomach. And this morning, I just got so mad and I wanted to break the glass I was holding, I wanted to smash it into a million pieces. And then I just felt…so small. So tiny. Okay. Yeah, I totally understand. Tell Papa I said hi. Love you, too.

(FELIX and OLIVER come home, storming through the door. Openly upset.)

ISABELLA
Honey, are you okay?

FELIX
Yeah. No. No, I’m not. Someone-someone….wrote something in the boy’s lockeroom.

ISABELLA
What was it?

FELIX
Burn in hell, fags.

OLIVER
That’s not new, that’s always been there. And there’s been a swastika carved under one of the toilet’s that’s been there for thirty years.

FELIX
No, I never saw that before. It’s new. I know it’s new.

OLIVER
Don’t been a drama queen. There are always going to be hateful idiots out there.

FELIX
And now one of them is our president.

OLIVER
Donald Trump isn’t the one sneaking into our bathrooms to graffiti them. It’s just some dumb kids, Felix.

FELIX
Just some dumb kids? Do you have any idea how much power you are giving to those dumb kids? Today, it’s graffiti in the lockeroom, but what if that isn’t enough for them? What next? Beating up the gays? Not letting us bring gay dates to prom?

OLIVER
Felix, calm down. That’s not going to happen.

FELIX
What if I can’t hold your hand any more? What if we can’t kiss in public?

OLIVER
Felix!

ISABELLA
Felix, calm down, honey. It was probably just some idiot with too much free time on his hands. Oliver, why don’t you stay for dinner?

OLIVER
Thanks, Mrs. Franklin, but I should head home.

(OLIVER leaves).

ISABELLA
I want to cook something. Felix, you like empanadas, right?

FELIX
Since when do you cook?

ISABELLA
I don’t know. I just feel like cooking.

(ISABELLA starts preparing for empanadas. FELIX stands wordlessly, staring after his boyfriend. All his giddy energy is drained from him.)

FELIX
I just wanted to make beautiful things.

(Suddenly, FELIX takes one of ISABELLA’S bowls and smashes it on the ground, breaking it. ISABELLA is startled, but doesn’t yell at him. They look at each other, unsure of how to comfort the other one, as the light fades out on this scene.)

 

ACT II, Scene Two

(KEVIN’S bar)

FREDDIE
How’re you doing, Kev?

KEVIN
I don’t know, Freddie. I don’t know.

FREDDIE
Hey, chin up. It’s not so bad. We’ll be alright. Trump won’t get anything past, you’ll see.

KEVIN
It’s like a weird fever dream. Like, when you know you’re in a dream but you aren’t quite sure how to make yourself wake up.

(VALERIE walks into the bar)

CRAIG
You’re not twenty-one.

KEVIN
That’s my kid. Why aren’t you at home?

VALERIE
Mom’s at Grandma and Grandpa’s. I didn’t feel like being alone. (hopefully). Can I have a beer?

KEVIN
No.

VALERIE
Come on. After the election, I deserve one.

KEVIN
I don’t care if it’s the fucking Armageddon, you’re not drinking. You want to end up like these guys?

FREDDIE
I’ve got ears, Kev.

KEVIN
You can have a Shirley Temple.

VALERIE
That’s for babies.

KEVIN
You’re too young for the hard stuff. I’ll make you a Shirley Temple.

VALERIE
I wish they’d lower the voting age. It’s not fair. I’m seventeen, I have opinions. I’m smarter than the average American. I watched all the debates, I know about the issues. How come I can’t vote, but the guy over there picking his nose can?

FREDDIE
Ah, you’ve got the little suffragette on your hands. Little lady, you’ll learn when you grow that every single politician is crooked. It doesn’t matter who’s in office. Clinton, Bush, Trump, hell, Donald Duck wouldn’t make a difference.

VALERIE
Are you serious? It totally does! Hate crimes have already skyrocketed since the election last week!

KEVIN
Hey. No politics in my bar. Valerie, mind your manners.

VALERIE
I’m not a kid, Dad. I can’t be a kid anymore. Everything that’s happening now, it matters to me. My homeroom teacher got beat up last week for being gay, dad, that could be Felix. That could be me. Look at me.

(For a moment, KEVIN looks at his daughter for the first time as a full-grown person instead of just a child. But the movement ends when KEVIN passes VALERIE a Shirley Temple.)

VALERIE
Are we going to be okay?

KEVIN
What do you mean?

VALERIE
Are we going to be okay? With Trump as our president?

KEVIN
I’ve lived through the Vietnam War. We made it through that. Made it through Nixon. But I’ve never seen anything like this before. Never so much hate, so much ignorance. I’ve never felt a nation choked by a cloud of fear before. I know I’m supposed to tell you everything’s going to be okay, but I can’t. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Valerie.

CRAIG
Hey. How old is your daughter?

KEVIN
Twenty years younger than you, so don’t go asking.

CRAIG
She looks old enough.

VALERIE
Dad!

KEVIN
Shut your mouth or I’m kicking you out.

CRAIG
You wouldn’t. You wouldn’t.

(ISABELLA and FELIX come into the bar. FELIX isn’t wearing any make-up.)

KEVIN
Hey, Isa, I’ll be ready to go in thirty, just have to close up. Felix, where’s your….where’s your lipstick?

FELIX
Didn’t feel like it today.

KEVIN
No, come on. Where’s all that sparkling stuff around your eyes? You love that stuff.

FELIX
I’m taking a break from it.

CRAIG
Didn’t know your wife was a spic.

(Horrified silence from the entire room)

KEVIN
(Furious) You shut the fuck up about my wife.

CRAIG
What are you gonna do? Huh? What are you going do? (mimicking what KEVIN said to him in Act One). You’re not gonna do shit.

ISABELLA
Kevin, throw this drunk, ignorant idiot out of your-

(CRAIG grabs ISABELLA’S face in his hand. ISABELLA is so shocked that she doesn’t respond. After a long moment, he lets her go. Stunned, ISABELLA runs out of the bar.)

CRAIG
We’re taking this country back.

(Scene fades. The reporter returns. As she speaks, her desk is taken down. Her microphone is taken away. Her jacket is removed. Her chair is taken out from under her. The lights fade.)

REPORTER
As we enter the new age, nothing is certain. Executive orders have been signed for a wall to be made on the Mexican boarder. There is speculation of a immigration ban on Muslims. We need to remain hopeful. We need to believe in- (lights out)

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