Clown Show

 

by

 

Gary Beck

 

(Mr. Barker leads in two performers to do a clown show.)

Mr. Barker:               You can get ready here, but put make up on in the bathroom. No smoking.

 

 

Koko:                     We donÕt smoke.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               No drinking.

 

 

Pipi:                      We donÕt drink. WeÕre clowns! (Barker shrugs.) Like in the circus.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               ThereÕs no circus anymore.

 

 

Koko:                     Of course there is.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               It closed over a year ago. (Koko and Pipi look at each other.) DonÕt you watch the news on TV?

 

 

Pipi:                      What about the elephants?

 

 

Mr. Barker:               They got rid of them. Probably sold them for dog food. (Koko and Pipi react. Exit Mr. Barker.)

 

 

Pipi:                      If thereÕs no circus, where do the parents take their kids?

 

 

Koko:                     To a museum?

 

 

Pipi:                      ThatÕs no fun.

 

 

Koko:                     A movie?

 

 

Pipi:                      They watch Cable TV all the time. They need to see live shows.

 

Koko:                     Like us.

 

 

Pipi:                      WeÕre lucky that they still come to see us.

 

 

Koko:                     LetÕs hope they like us.

 

 

Pipi:                      You know weÕll make them like us.

 

 

Koko:                     I worry that theyÕll stop wanting to see clowns. What will we do then?

 

 

Pipi:                      ThereÕll always be people who want to see us.

 

 

Koko:                     DonÕt be too sure.

 

 

Pipi:                      Am too.

 

 

Koko:                     Am not.

 

 

Pipi:                      Am too. (They laugh.)

 

 

 

(Enter Mr. Barker.)

 

 

Mr. Barker:               The parents and kids are coming in now.

 

 

Koko:                     How old are they?

 

 

Mr. Barker                A lot of younger ones today. Mostly four and five year olds. But there are older ones, eight and nine.

 

 

Koko:                     ThatÕs not good.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               Why not?

 

 

Koko:                     TheyÕll try to be cool in front of the younger kids and theyÕll sit with their iPhones, texting with their friends.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               We usually have singers or storytellers here. This is the first time weÕve had clowns, and only because our regular singer, the blue jay lady, got sick. Tell you the truth, I wanted to cancel today. I donÕt think much of clowns.

 

 

Pipi:                      YouÕll think a lot better of clowns once you see us perform.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               I hope so. Let me know if you need anything.

 

 

 

(Exit Mr. Barker)

 

 

Koko:                     So here we are again, getting ready to do our show for kids whoÕd rather be playing video games.

 

 

Pipi:                      TheyÕll love us.

 

 

 

Koko:                     You say that every time.

 

 

Pipi:                      ItÕs our job.

 

 

Koko:                     It would have been easier if I was born a princess.

 

 

Pipi:                      Why?

 

 

Koko:                     Then IÕd have a palace and we could invite all the kids and parents and theyÕd be impressed and love us.

 

 

Pipi:                      ThatÕs sweet.

 

 

Koko:                     I can be sweet.

 

 

Pipi:                      I knowÉ WeÕll make them love us.

 

 

 

(Enter Mr. Barker)

 

 

Mr. Barker:               You two better get a move on. The kidsÕll start getting restless if they sit too long.

 

 

Koko:                     WeÕre preparing our mindsets.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               (Suspiciously) WhatÕs a mindset?

 

 

Pipi:                      ItÕs our way of preparing to perform.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               This is getting weird. ItÕs bad enough that grown women should make fools of themselves clowning aroundÉ.

 

 

Pipi:                      ThereÕs a long tradition of women clowns.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               I donÕt know about that. Now get ready to go out there or you wonÕt get paid.

 

 

Koko:                     We have a contract.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               Then sue me. Get moving or else.

 

 

Koko:                     ThatÕs not the state to put us in just before a show.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               Do you believe these girls? If youÕre not ready to go in ten minutes you can do your next show in Alaska.

 

 

(Exit Mr. Barker)

 

 

Koko:                     (To his back.) ThatÕs not the state I meant.

 

 

Pipi:                      What did you mean?

 

 

Koko:                     That weÕre a sovereign state.

 

 

 Pipi:                      I donÕt understand.

 

 

Koko:                     WeÕre bounded on five sides by air and on one side by terrestrial matter.  (Pipi looks confused.) IÕll explain.

 

 

Pipi:                      IÕm all ears.

 

 

Koko:                     We are in front, back, both sides and on top, surrounded by air.

 

 

Pipi:                      Ah.

 

 

Koko:                     And our feet rest on the ground.

 

 

Pipi:                      Ah.

 

 

Koko:                     Thus! We exist before aforementioned points, a principality.

 

 

Pipi:                      Ah. Then we must always fear invasion.

 

Koko:                     Why?

 

 

Pipi:                      Well, neighbors being neighbors, weÕll alwaysÉ How shall I say it? Poach?

 

 

Koko:                     Ah.

 

 

Pipi:                      Seek territorial expansion at the expense of others.

 

 

Koko:                     A perspicuous comment.

 

 

Pipi:                      YouÕre so clever.

 

 

Koko:                     Besides. We shouldnÕt fear our neighbors.

 

 

Pipi:                      Then what?

 

 

Koko:                     Ask who?

 

 

Pipi:                      Well?

 

 

Koko:                     Say it.

 

 

Pipi:                      YouÕre so stubborn sometimes. (Koko is impatient). All right, all right. Who?

 

 

Koko:                     A president who does bad things.

 

 

Pipi:                      What can we do about the president?

 

 

Koko:                     Another perspicuous comment.

 

Pipi:                      What does perspicuous mean?

 

 

Koko:                     That youÕre smart.

 

 

Pipi:                      I always knew you recognized my intelligence. (Smart song and dance.)

 

 

 

(Enter Mr. Barker)

 

 

Mr. Barker:               I thought I told you clowns to stop fooling around and get ready.

 

 

Pipi:                      We are.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               If youÕre not out there in 5 minutes, IÕll cancel the show and give you whatÕs coming to you. (Starts to exit.)

 

 

Koko:                     WeÕd like to give you whatÕs coming to you. (Mr. Barker turns back.)

 

 

Mr. Barker:               What did you say?

 

 

Pipi:                      Koko said youÕll appreciate the coming show.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               Yeah. Right. Now get going.

 

 

Pipi:                      WeÕll be ready in a minute or two.

 

 

Mr. Barker:               You better be.

 

 

(Exit Mr. Barker)

 

 

Koko:                     Once again weÕre being ordered around by a bully who doesnÕt understand us.

 

 

Pipi:                      ItÕs only temporary.

 

 

Koko:                     SoÕs lifeÉ IÕm so tired of disguising myself in order to hide from so many horrors.

 

 

Pipi:                      But we still please so many people, especially children.

 

 

Koko:                     Pleasure is fleeting. So is everything else.

 

 

Pipi:                      So whatÕs left?

 

 

Koko:                     Enduring until the end.

 

 

Pipi:                      That doesnÕt sound very promising.

 

 

Koko:                     Promises are always broken.

 

 

Pipi:                      No theyÕre not! When I was six Mom promised to take me to the movies if I was good.

 

 

Koko:                     And?

 

 

Pipi:                      She did. She did. That proves promises arenÕt always broken.

 

 

Koko:                     WhatÕs a promise made to a child? EverythingÕs collapsing around us, despite the promises of the president to make things better. Yet we still paint our faces and put on costumes to try to stem the tide of despair.

 

 

Pipi:                      ItÕs not that bad.

 

 

Koko:                     It is. It is. Will our suffering never end? But no matter what, we go out there and entertain.

 

 

Pipi:                      ItÕs our job.

 

 

Koko:                     We should quit.

 

 

Pipi:                      You donÕt mean that?

 

 

Koko:                     Why not?

 

 

Pipi:                      Who would make people laugh?

 

 

Koko:                     TheyÕll find somebody.

 

 

Pipi:                      What if they donÕt?

 

 

Koko:                     They will.

 

 

Pipi:                      What if they donÕt?

 

 

Koko:                     TheyÕll get along without laughter.

 

 

Pipi:                      They canÕt!

 

 

Koko:                     Of course they can. LaughterÕs not that important.

 

 

Pipi:                      You donÕt mean that.

 

 

Koko:                     I do.

 

 

Pipi:                      We canÕt get along without people. We need them.

 

 

 

(Enter Mr. Barker)

 

 

Mr. Barker:               This is your last warning.

 

 

Pipi:                      WeÕll just be a moment. (Pipi and Koko stand, put on costumes, hat, while Mr. Barker waits. To Koko:) RememberÉ.

 

 

Koko:                     Laugh, clown laugh.

 

 

Pipi:                      Just donÕt forget weÕre silent clowns.

 

 

(Exit all)

 

© Gary Beck

 

Bio:  Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn't earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 31 poetry collections, 13 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 4 books of plays. Published poetry books include:  Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings, The Remission of Order, Contusions, Desperate Seeker and Learning Curve (Winter Goose Publishing). Earth Links, Too Harsh For Pastels, Severance, Redemption Value, Fractional Disorder, Disruptions and Ignition Point (Cyberwit Publishing Forthcoming: Resonance). His novels include Extreme Change (Winter Goose Publishing). State of Rage, Wavelength, Protective Agency and Obsess (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Still Obsessed). His short story collections include: A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing). Dogs DonÕt Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Essays of Gary Beck (Cyberwit Publishing). The Big Match and other one act plays (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume 1 and Plays of Aristophanes translated, then directed by Gary Beck and Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume II (Cyberwit Publishing. Forthcoming: Four Plays by Moliere translated then directed by Gary Beck). Gary lives in New York City.