The Topic At Hand: This Is A Test

ANDY:  Hi. I’m here for the—

GINA:   I’m sorry. Hold on one moment. I just need…a couple of notes.  Done. Sorry. Hi.

ANDY:   Hi.

GINA:  I’m Gina.

ANDY:  I’m Andy.

GINA:  Yes. You look…have we worked together before? I’m sorry I’m usually good at remembering people’s….

ANDY:  That’s ok. I don’t think so.

GINA:  Well, you post for an open call like this and you get a thousand headshots. I must’ve seen your face in the melee.

ANDY:  Maybe.

GINA:  I’m sorry. Go ahead. What will you be doing today?

ANDY:   I thought I’d do a piece from Dark Tunnel.

GINA:  That’s one of my favorites.

ANDY:  If it’s ok, I’m not going to use the accent.

GINA:  That’s fine. There’s no need. This isn’t calling for one.  Whenever you’re ready.

ANDY:   “You don’t get to do this to me, Beth! You can’t dismember someone’s parents and then blame them for how the relationship ended! This isn’t love! You can’t blame my drinking on…on….” I’m sorry, I’m going up. I don’t remember….

GINA:  That’s fine. Just take a moment. And, if you don’t mind some redirection—

ANDY:   No, please.

GINA:  I think maybe take the volume down.

ANDY:   Oh, I thought this was for theatre.

GINA: But it’s an intimate space.

ANDY:  Oh, I thought you had to project.

GINA:  Maybe half that.

ANDY:   Oh. Ok. “You don’t get to do this to me, Beth. You can’t dismember someone’s parents and then blame them for how the relationship ended.  This isn’t love. You can’t blame….” I’m sorry I’m really nervous.

GINA:  That’s fine. We’re ahead of schedule. Take a moment and get grounded. And, do you have a resume? I can’t seem to find you here.

ANDY:   Right.  Dammit. Here. Sorry about that. I’m not use to doing this. “You don’t get to do this to me, Beth! You can’t dismember someone’s parents and then blame them for how the relationship ended! This isn’t love!” You’re looking at me weird. Was that too quiet?

GINA:  Is this you?

ANDY:   Yeah, I know it’s a little old. I had to dig it out of storage. I didn’t have time to get new ones. I know that sucks.

GINA:  This. Is. You.

ANDY:   Yep.

GINA:  You’re Andy Miller.

ANDY:   That’s me.

GINA:  The Andy Miller.

ANDY:  Uh-huh.

GINA:  What are you doing here?

ANDY:   I’m just an actor trying to get a job.

GINA:  But you should be in LA making movies.

ANDY:   Well….

GINA:  Why would you want to do a showcase? There’s no pay.

ANDY:   No pay?

GINA:  Well, we give you travel reimbursement.  Usually we just get you a Metrocard. Not unlimited. For the run.

ANDY:   I never knew that.

GINA:  I was wondering why you were doing that piece from terrible movie.

ANDY:   I like that movie.

GINA:  I guess it’s more of a guy’s movie.

ANDY:  I cried a little at the end.

GINA: You were…I had your poster in my room in high school.

ANDY:  I guess I’m a little disappointing now.

GINA:  No, you’re more rugged looking.

ANDY:   Thanks.

GINA:  Slang of High School and Grunge Chords were my two favorite movies.

ANDY:   That was a good year. Should I try this terrible thing again?

GINA:  Yes. Please don’t take that personally.

ANDY:  I didn’t write it. Maybe I’ll do it good enough this time, it’ll change your mind.

GINA:  Great.

ANDY:   “You don’t get to do this to me, Beth. You can’t dismember someone’s parents and then blame them for how the relationship ended.  This isn’t love. You can’t blame my drinking on…on….” I’m sorry. This is the part that made me cry.

GINA:  That’s ok. Use it.

ANDY:   I can’t.

GINA:  But that’s what makes good acting.

ANDY:   I know. I’m not a good actor. I can’t. This is the movie that changed my life.

GINA:  Well, that’s exciting.

ANDY:   I’m not a machine! Leave me alone! I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…I just….I’m sorry I wasted your time.

GINA: Wait.

ANDY:  I don’t know what I’m doing here. I got this new manager who thinks I should reinvent myself. Try to get Astroman or whatever he’s called in Uncle Vanya on Broadway. But I need to prove I can do theatre. He said people think film actors suck on stage. He told me to pick a piece I love, use bigger gestures, and project. He said to make sure I know all my lines because you don’t get to do takes. I’m sorry.

GINA:  Stop. Don’t. Just stop.

ANDY:   What?

GINA:  There’s something else.

ANDY:  It was either this or go on a reality show with sex and love addicts.

GINA:  What?

ANDY:   Yeah. It would be part therapy/part dating game. Really stupid.

GINA:  Yeah it is.

ANDY: That would be better for me than this. I can’t do this. I don’t have the tools.

GINA:  You’re a great actor.

ANDY:   That’s not me. I’ve been through this. That’s your idea of me. I sucked then and I suck now. I didn’t know what I was doing then. I was junked up on something. I took everything. That year was my biggest and I don’t remember a thing from it. My whole life is a joke so I can either make myself a bigger joke or flip it over and shock everybody.

GINA:  You’re not a joke. No, you aren’t. You don’t understand. I. Love. You. I do. When I was sixteen, I was determined I was going to meet you one day and we would fall in love and have children together. I know that’s silly but I saw you in those movies and you made my life make sense. All the bullshit and craziness and all the terrible things people do to each other, I could finally not have it all drag me down. Look. I used to cut myself a lot in high school. I stopped because of you. Because I had hope there were more people like you and me in the world. I started doing this because of you. You changed my life.

ANDY:   That’s nice and all but that still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing. Fuck, I need to call my sponsor.

GINA:  Calm down. Calm down. Here. Look at my notes.

ANDY:   “Prototype: Andy Miller or John Cusack.” What?

GINA:  You’re perfect for this.

ANDY:   This is bizarre.

GINA:  You’re the guy guys want to be. You’re the guy girls want their guys to be. Or, you’re in the top three. I bet I could go out this room and poll any woman about who they think about during a bad lay and they’d say, “George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Andy Miller. Not necessarily in that order.”

ANDY:   I don’t want this! I don’t want to be Andy Miller! I don’t want to be the guy who used to be Andy Miller! And I don’t want to be the guy who is trying to be Andy Miller again! I want people to treat me like a person. I’m not some poster or that drummer character I played fifteen years ago. I just want to be an actor. Like a regular actor. I don’t want people staring at me. I don’t want people coming to see me in a play because I’m a sideshow freak.

GINA:  Andy, you want to start your life over. I want to do that for you.

ANDY:   Fuck, I can feel that itch. I’m going to start using again.

GINA:  Andy.

ANDY:   I can’t leave my apartment without all this pressure. Do you really love me?

GINA:  What?

ANDY:   You said you love me. Do you really love me?

GINA:  I don’t know. It’s—

ANDY:   –No. The answer is no. You don’t know me. You don’t know what a nightmare it is being around me. No one’s ever really my girlfriend. They’re my mother or my nurse or my connection. Do you want that? Of course not.  Why would you? What you want is for it to be prom and for me to take you like this and dance with you.

GINA:  Stop. You’re freaking me out. Stop.  Stop.

ANDY:  You want me to look you in the eyes and tell you that you’re the most beautiful one in the room and how I want to spend my life with you.

GINA:  Please. I need you to—

ANDY:   –You want to live a lie with me. You want me to live a lie with you.

GINA:  Back off!!

ANDY:   Fuck you, stranger! You ruined my life! Take all your fantasies and go to hell!

GINA:  What the fuck are you so afraid of, Andy?

ANDY:   No! You don’t get to get in. You only get the poster.

GINA:  What does that mean?

ANDY:   Fuck off!

GINA:  Do you want this, Andy, yes or no?


(In memory of John Hughes)

Preview image by jonrawlinson.

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2 responses to “Back To One”

  1. Tara says:

    Oh this is great, I love it. Funny and sad and silly.

  2. Name says:

    Reminiscent of Theresa Rebeck's play, The Understudy

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The Author

Chris Harcum

Chris Harcum is an actor and playwright living in Brooklyn, NY. His play American Badass (or 12 Characters in Search of a National Identity) was recently published in the Plays and Playwrights 2009 anthology. Other writing includes The New York Times, nytheatre, and Virgodog's World.

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