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Audition

Characters
BOB GAMBLE A director; about forty
JIM GAPP A would-be actor; mid-twenties
MAN A fellow who may or may not be an actor; about forty
Scene
A room
Time
The Present
The lights rise to reveal a man seated on a stool. In his hand is a thin sheaf of papers at which he’s staring down thoughtfully. Fortyish dressed all in black, the man has about him the aura of an outlaw an artist–or maybe both. His name is BOB GAMBLE. After a moment he stirs.

I’m gonna show you just how wrong a turn it was.

GAMBLE
All right, let’s see what we got. Who’s up?
(Checks his papers and calls out)
Gapp? Jim Gapp?
Timidly, out comes JIM GAPP. Young and rather sincere-looking, GAPP is a denim shirt and jeans. He carries himself awkwardly, uncertainly, and we get the impression he’s somewhat out of his element in this setting.
GAMBLE (CONT’D)
Jim Gapp?
GAPP
Yes sir
GAMBLE
Bob Gamble
(They shake hands)
You all set to go?
GAPP
I think so
GAMBLE
Good, good.
(With a glance down)
Says here you’re a truck driver?
GAPP
Used to be. Now I’m a full-time Thespian
GAMBLE
Well, I don’t care about your sex life. Let’s see if you can act.
(Baffled silence from GAPP)
That was a joke.
GAPP
Oh. Yes
(Offers a weak chuckle)
GAMBLE
So you’ve read your lines?
GAPP
Yes sir.
GAMBLE
Got ’em memorized frontwards and backwards?
GAPP
I dunno about backwards…
GAMBLE
Frontwards’ll do. Let me review the setup here just to make sure we’re on the same page.
GAPP
OK
GAMBLE
Your wife, the woman that’s your sole reason for living, the woman that you adore more than you could ever hope to express in words, has been fooling around on you, right? Banging some other guy.
GAPP
Banging him, yes
GAMBLE
There’s no valid reason for it, least as far as you’re concerned, but
that’s just how it is.
GAPP
Right
GAMBLE
At first, you couldn’t even get your mind around a reality that’s so
crushing, so devastating…
GAPP
Uh huh.
GAMBLE
But now you finally have, and you sure as hell don’t like it.
GAPP
Don’t like it a little bit.
GAMBLE
So you’re gonna confront the no-good son of a bitch that’s been making whoopee with the one and only true love of your life.
GAPP
Yes sir.
GAMBLE
And for the purposes of this audition, I’m gonna play that other guy.
GAPP
Gotcha.
GAMBLE
Good. So let’s do it. Let’s see if we can boil up some real tension now, OK?
GAPP
OK.
(A silence as GAPP looks around, fidgeting)
GAMBLE
Go ahead.
GAPP
Where should I stand?
GAMBLE
I don’t care where you stand. It’s up to you. Stand on your head if you like–but just go ahead and hit it.
GAPP nods, takes a breath and attempts to work himself into character, for what it’s worth. His acting will prove to be wooden and amateurish
GAPP
(In character; semi-sinister)
I thought I might find you here.
GAMBLE
(Cocky)
Guess you thought right, ’cause here I am. Do I know you, pal?
GAPP
(Shakes his head)
We’re about to get acquainted.
GAMBLE
Who the hell are you?
GAPP
Who the hell do you think I am?
GAMBLE
I think you’re a guy that made a wrong turn and got lost.
GAPP
Yeah?
GAMBLE
And I think maybe you best turn around and go back to where you belong.
GAPP
Oh, there’s been a wrong turn all right, only I didn’t make it. You did.
(Moves toward GAMBLE)
GAMBLE
(Shakes his head, waves his hand and abandons his character)
No no no no no.
GAPP
What’s the matter?
GAMBLE
It’s not working.
GAPP
What’s not working?
GAMBLE
Jim, I could see you acting.
GAPP
Well, I, I was acting.
GAMBLE
But I don’t wanna see it.
GAPP
What do you mean?
GAMBLE
Acting, Jim, has gotta be natural.
(Pause)
And believable. If I can see you acting, you’re not really acting.
GAPP
I’m not?
GAMBLE
No, in that case, you’re just acting like you’re acting.
GAPP
Acting like I’m…
GAMBLE
Natural and smooth and convincing, Jim. That’s the ticket. That’s what we’re after.
GAPP
Natural and…
GAMBLE
You wanna just melt into your role.
GAPP
You want me to melt?
GAMBLE
Into your role, yes.
GAPP
I dunno if I can melt.
GAMBLE
You don’t have to right this second. Tell you what, why don’t you go on back out and have a seat. We’ll talk in a little while.
GAPP
Go on back out?
GAMBLE
And have a seat. We’ll talk
GAPP
I could probably learn to melt.
GAMBLE
We’ll talk about it.
Dejected, GAPP nods and trudges back offstage in the same direction whence he came.

On his stool, GAMBLE takes a moment to collect himself. He sighs, stretches his shoulders, scratches his nose and consults his papers.

GAMBLE (CONT’D)
(To himself)
Let’s see, who’s next? What do we got?
Now, without a word, a very intense-looking MAN walks out. About the same age as GAMBLE, the MAN is wearing a disheveled suit, his tie askew. Both his hair and his eyes (which are fixed on GAMBLE) are wild. He seems genuinely menacing.
GAMBLE (CONT’D)
(Notices him)
Yes?
(No response)
Can I help you?
(No response)
Are you on my list?
MAN
You’re on my list, chief. That’s all that matters.
Puzzled, GAMBLE blinks and half-smiles.
MAN (CONT’D)
I thought I might find you here.
GAMBLE
Oh.
(Refocuses)
OK. Uhhhhh…
(Finds his place in the script)
Guess you thought right, ’cause here I am. Do I know you, pal?
MAN
We’re about to get acquainted.
GAMBLE
Who the hell are you?
MAN
I’m the Easter Bunny. I’m the Sheik of Araby. I’m Casper the Friendly Ghost.
GAMBLE
I, uh… I think you’re a guy that made a wrong turn and got lost.
MAN
Hey, I don’t give a goddam what you think.
(Pause)
Lost!… We’re gonna find out who’s lost, you bastard.
GAMBLE
(Out of character)
You’re a little off-script, but that’s OK. I like it. I love it.
(Stands up)
Hold your last thought.
(Takes a few steps toward what we presume is the waiting area; calls out)
Jim? Hey, Jim? Jim!
Soon GAPP reappears, meek and slightly confused as usual.
GAMBLE (CONT’D)
(To the MAN)
Go ahead.
MAN
What, you think this is a joke?
GAMBLE
No, I don’t think it’s a joke.
(To GAPP)
This is improv, Jim. You familiar with improv?
GAPP
I dunno.
GAMBLE
You just make stuff up. Make it up on the fly.
(To the MAN)
I think maybe you’re a joke.
MAN
(With cold detachment)
Here’s the part I don’t get. What in the name of God did she ever see in you? You don’t look like much; that guy over there’s better-looking than you are.
(Indicates GAPP, who just shrugs in bewilderment)
It can’t be your money. What I hear, you don’t have two cents to rub together.
GAMBLE
Yeah, but I got credit cards galore.
MAN
And it can’t be your wit either, ’cause you’re a total dumbass.
GAMBLE
Maybe I’m a sexual superman. Maybe I’m hung like a goddam horse.
MAN
Such disrespect. Not for me, but for her.
GAMBLE
It is what it is.
MAN
(Moves closer to GAMBLE)
You must’ve tricked her somehow. Did you trick her? Did you drug her?
GAMBLE
I tricked her, I drugged her, and then I screwed her.
MAN
She deserves better. Maggie deserves so much better.
GAMBLE
(Startled by the name)
Maggie?
MAN
Maggie. My wife.
GAMBLE
(Shocked)
Maggie’s married?
MAN
She’s my wife, reckon that makes her married.
GAMBLE
(Alarmed)
Whoa. How was I…Wait a second. She never said one word–
MAN
I’m through talking, chief.
(Points the gun)
GAMBLE
NOW HOLD ON JUST ONE SECOND–
MAN
Do me a small favor, would you?
GAMBLE
(Desperate)
What is it? Name it. I’ll do anything!
MAN
Die like a dog.

The MAN fires three shots into GAMBLE’s midsection. Reacting, GAMBLE topples backwards and lies face-up on the floor, groaning softly and writhing in agony.

Now the MAN goes over to GAPP, who stands frozen in place. Gun still in hand, the MAN stares for a long moment into GAPP’s wide, stricken eyes. The MAN then shoves the gun back into his suit and quickly exits.

Overwhelmed, GAPP slowly approaches GAMBLE in the stunned manner of one who has just had direct contact with God. He is humbled, awed and transported. He speaks partly to GAMBLE, who’s still sprawled on his back, and partly to himself.

GAPP
(Subdued)
Oh my God. That was fantastic. That was… incredible! I had no idea it could be like that. All these years of telling myself if I worked at it, really worked at it, I could become an actor… Man, I was delusional.
(Chuckles sadly)
I’d be driving down the highway in my truck, you know, and sometimes I’d run through scenes in my head, play out different parts I’d memorized. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” “Houston, we have a problem.” “You talking to me?” I thought if only I had the courage and the willpower to pursue my dream… Well, what’s it matter what I thought? There’s just no substitute for talent.
(Sighs)
I’ll go back to being a truck driver. It’s not art, but it’s good, solid, steady work. And it pays the bills. Let somebody else “take” meetings and have an agent and win the awards.
(Straight down at GAMBLE)
I want to thank you, Mr. Gamble, for giving me an education. Education can be painful, but it’s a necessary part of life.
(Pause)
Take care of yourself.
(Turns to go, then stops and turns back to GAMBLE, who continues to writhe on the floor)
Break a leg!
ExitsBlackout