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Working On That Jump Shot (AKA Writing a Play)

In the midst of the chaos, I wrote a play.

Basketball Hoop by Shannon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Working On That Jump Shot (AKA Writing a Play)


Estimated Reading Time: 10 Minutes

Last week I submitted to a play challenge issued by three students from the UMN/Guthrie BFA Acting program and one student from NYU Tisch. It’s loosely based (their words) on Paula Vogel’s Bake-Offs. If you’re interested in further details, check out the info at quarantinebakeoff.com.

The idea is that they gave us five ingredients with which we were to write a 10-15 page play. After reading the submissions, those students are going to do a live stream reading of somewhere between 10-20 of them.

The Ingredients

  1. An empty store/stadium/theater
  2. A bottle of hand sanitizer
  3. A virtual dance or duet
  4. A moment of mass panic
  5. A light in the dark
  6. (Extra Credit): A flower or flour

So I took these ingredients, mixed them all together, and baked this little play. Is it inspired by the NBA shutting down after Rudy Gobert’s diagnosis? Yes. Is it inspired by another play, The Wolves? Yep. Am I using my editor role to take a small stab at what we’re all going through amidst this insane time in which we’re living? You bet. So give it a read. Give me feedback if you want. Or don’t. I simply want to share it with you all.

The Play

Jump Shot

By Kevin Michael Morin

What inspires me is seeing challenges like this, and watching other artists collaborate and make the best out of any situation. Without artistic ventures, my sanity wouldn’t exist.

Characters

Shaina – female, mid 20s
Angie – female, mid 20s
Sammie – female, mid 20s
Becca – female, mid 20s
Team Doctor – male/female, 30s

Time

Present

Place

Locker room of a sports arena

Notes

It calls for a locker room, but could be done in a more minimalistic setting.

Lights up. We’re in a basketball locker room. One or two lockers have a jersey hanging in them. Four women are sitting around a small table playing cards.

SHAINA

Damnit. I’ve got nothing.

ANGIE

Are you gonna make a move or what?

SHAINA

I’m thinking!

SAMMIE

Could you think a little faster? At this rate it’ll be 2021 by the time we finish this game.

SHAINA

No need to be rude. Sheesh.

SHAINA plays her card. The others immediately groan.

SAMMIE

Are you kidding me?

ANGIE

“I’ve got nothing” my ass.

SHAINA

What can I say? I’m good at this.

BECCA

You should spend more time on your jump shot.

SHAINA

Ah, she speaks. And quite rudely at that.

BECCA

Just saying. If you spent as much time on your shot as you do trying to own us in cards we could actually win the division.

ANGIE

Ok, ok, no need for the personal attacks.

SAMMIE

It’s not like the season is going to continue. We’ve got plenty of time to hit the gym.

SHAINA

Yeah, did you walk into the arena? Have you seen the news? We’re going nowhere fast. And now I look like a genius, because what the hell else are we going to do other than sit here playing cards?

BECCA

Sorry. I’m going stir crazy.

ANGIE

Cabin fever already? We’ve only been here for two hours.

BECCA

Feels like two days.

SHAINA’s turn again. She goes out and wins the game.

SAMMIE

Son of a bitch!

BECCA

(Shaking her head)

Every time.

SHAINA

None of y’all are going to get past me. Whose deal?

SAMMIE

Mine.

BECCA tosses SAMMIE a bottle of hand sanitizer.

SAMMIE

Thanks, B. See Shay? That’s how you hit the target.

SHAINA

Don’t make me slap you.

They all laugh. BECCA opens the bottle and sanitizes her hands.

BECCA

This is honestly so crazy.

ANGIE

I know. I wonder when we’re going to know anything. I’m getting anxious.

SHAINA

It’s out of our control, babe. Just need to carry on the best we can.

ANGIE

I know, I know.

SAMMIE

At least we’re together.

BECCA

I don’t know if that’s the best thing in the world, but yeah. Let’s go with that.

SAMMIE

Oh please. Don’t be a Debbie downer.

BECCA

Can we talk about something else?

SHAINA

Like when you’re finally going to deal?

BECCA

I had to lather up!

SHAINA

Mhmm…

BECCA

Ok, what game are we playing? Sticking with the same?

All acknowledge this differently. All essentially saying yes.

BECCA

Great.

BECCA starts to deal the cards. After she gets two cards to everyone a door opens and the TEAM DOCTOR walks in.

SHAINA

(Imitating Bugs Bunny)

What’s up, Doc?

TEAM DOCTOR

Kat is going into self isolation. She tested positive. And we’re going to need to continue testing the rest of you.

SHAINA

Wait, what!?

ANGIE

That’s actually insane.

SAMMIE

Is she going to be okay?

BECCA starts to cry. The others don’t notice.

TEAM DOCTOR

She’ll be fine as long as she stays in isolation and takes care of herself. Unfortunately for you all, you’re going to be stuck here until we can guarantee you don’t have it since you’ve all been exposed.

SHAINA

I knew she was being irresponsible. I could wring her neck.

SAMMIE

Oh my God, what if I have it? I’m asthmatic. Getting a respiratory virus isn’t high on the list of things my body can fend off. How soon can we test?

ANGIE

Calm down. Jesus. We’re all going to be fine.

This dialogue overlaps until BECCA speaks.

SHAINA

Kat is dead to me. I can’t believe she would expose herself and make such a joke out of everything. One of these days she needs to be held accountable for what she does. She’s getting what she deserves. But I don’t want this. Of course I’ll get over it, but I don’t want it to begin with. This is actually insane. How could this happen?

ANGIE

We’re all going to be fine just stop yelling. Seriously, just relax. Shay. Stop. Sammie. Breathe. Getting worked up isn’t going to do anything for you. It’ll just make things worse.

SAMMIE

If I get this my anxiety is going to go through the roof. My anxiety is already through the roof, actually. I need my inhaler. Where’s my inhaler? I can’t breathe. I need my inhaler. Ok, Ok, I’m breathing. I’m breathing. I’m breathing.

BECCA

(Exploding)

Everyone shut the fuck up!

Silence. A few beats pass as the girls all look at Becca, then get introspective. The TEAM DOCTOR is waiting to see who speaks first. BECCA breaks the silence.

BECCA

You’re all so short-sighted. Can you think about anything or anyone other than yourselves? This is a big deal. Our game is canceled. The season is probably canceled. Not a single fan is sitting out there beyond those doors. Yes, it sucks that this is happening. It sucks that Kat tested positive. Do you even care? Or are you just going to be angry, or indifferent, aloof, selfish? Get your shit together. People are going to die.

TEAM DOCTOR

The best thing you can all do right now is to keep washing those hands. Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid contact with anyone outside this room. I’ll be back shortly.

TEAM DOCTOR leaves the room. There is silence. BECCA is sniffling. SHAINA has gotten up out of her chair. SAMMIE is rifling through her things looking for her inhaler. ANGIE takes out her phone and starts looking for something. She stops and hits play. The opening to Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child blares.

ANGIE

Shaina – Can you handle this? Becca – Can you handle this? Sammie – Can you handle this? I don’t think you can handle this!

ANGIE proceeds to sing the entire first verse while the other girls come down from their anger, fear, and panic. ANGIE starts to pick things up. Sanitizes her hands. Wipes down her locker. By the time the chorus comes around all the girls join in. The chorus ends and they all laugh.

SHAINA

Girl, you are wild.

BECCA

(Laughing)

I needed that.

ANGIE

Sammie, how you doing, babe?

SAMMIE

(Finally taking a puff of her inhaler)

I’m living.

ANGIE

Look. Let’s clean some shit up, sanitize all this first.

SHAINA

Good plan. But don’t think this means we’re getting away from me kicking all your asses at the card table.

All of them start to pick up, wipe down surfaces, etc. SAMMIE starts scratching her face.

BECCA

Sam, stop touching your face, you fool!

SAMMIE

I’M SORRY! Ugh. I never realized how much I touched my face until I was told I’m not supposed to do it. Pray for me.

SHAINA

Girl, yes! Seriously. It’s like being a kid and wanting to do something just because you’re told you can’t.

ANGIE

(Laughing)

My God. The number of things I’ve done simply because I was told not to.

BECCA

Preach!

SHAINA

Bless up.

SAMMIE

Same! I got myself into so much trouble.

ANGIE

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done solely because you were told not to do it?

SAMMIE

Hm. That’s tough. Probably my high school boyfriend.

All the girls laugh.

BECCA

What was he like?

SAMMIE

Total emo kid. Never ventured out of “his” music. Total asshole. I should never have given it up to him.

SHAINA

We’ve all been there.

SAMMIE

What about the rest of you?

ANGIE

For me, probably bungee jumping.

SHAINA

Does that even count?

BECCA

I’ll allow it.

SAMMIE

That honestly gives me agita just thinking about it.

ANGIE

I’m terrified of heights.

SHAINA

Then why the shit did you BUNGEE JUMP, you psycho!?

ANGIE

…because my ex told me not to.

SAMMIE

Back to exes. 

(Turning her attention to BECCA)

Watchu got, sis?

BECCA

Jumped into the deep end when I didn’t know how to swim. 

SAMMIE

(Grimacing)

Yikes.

BECCA

Yeah. Not cute. I was convinced I could teach myself to swim if I couldn’t touch the bottom. My dad told me not to do it without floaties. He went inside and in I jumped.

SHAINA

Sounds about right.

BECCA

I panicked. Started splashing around like crazy. Dad heard me and came running out. I thought I was a goner.

SHAINA

Well, I’m glad you survived. Otherwise nobody would be here telling me I need to improve my game on a regular basis.

BECCA mimes shooting a basketball.

SHAINA

I hate you. But I don’t know what I’d do without you.

BECCA

You haven’t gone yet. What’s yours?

SHAINA

Eh, I don’t wanna play.

SAMMIE

Oh, come on. We’ve all done it.

ANGIE

You don’t have a choice.

BECCA

You’ve got to.

SHAINA

(Forcefully)

No!

BECCA

You ok?

SHAINA

I’m fine, let’s just drop it.

ANGIE

Girl we’re stuck in this locker room together for lord knows how long. We’ve got nothing but time.

SHAINA

It’s pretty fucked up.

ANGIE

Try us.

SHAINA

Promise you won’t look at me differently?

ANGIE

Of course.

SAMMIE

Absolutely.

BECCA

I can’t promise anything.

ANGIE and SAMMIE shoot her a look. SHAINA sighs.

BECCA

I’m kidding. Of course I won’t.

SHAINA

(Cracking a half smile)

Ok. I was 13 and jealous of my cousins because they got their licenses so close together and could pretty much do whatever they wanted. I told my mom I wanted to learn how to drive and she said that I wasn’t old enough. I just wanted to practice on our street. We lived in this sequestered little neighborhood with a cul-de-sac at the end of the street.

She stops. Takes a deep breath.

SHAINA

So I decided to take my mom’s car for a spin while she was distracted making dinner one night. I didn’t look behind me when backing out of the driveway and didn’t see my neighbor walking their dog past my house. 

SAMMIE

Oh my God.

SHAINA

I know, I’m the worst.

ANGIE

Did she die?

SHAINA

No, thankfully. I wasn’t pushing my foot on the pedal, so I was just going slowly in reverse. But she was old and went down hard. The dog started barking and I slammed on the breaks then pulled the car forward. My mom went to the window and saw her on the ground before she came running outside. I was inconsolable. And grounded for an insanely long time. I basically blacked out. All I can remember is she had this purple hydrangea broach on her sweater. It’s legitimately all I see when I think about this.

ANGIE

Nice touch with the hydrangea.

BECCA

You were grounded rightfully. But, honestly, that could have been so much worse. You got through it.

SHAINA

Sure, but that scarred me. I’m terrified to get behind the wheel of a car.

BECCA

Hire a driver.

SHAINA

(Shooting BECCA a look)

In this economy?

They all laugh.

SHAINA

Ok, fine. If I’m going to be stuck here I’m glad it’s with you idiots.

The TEAM DOCTOR walks back in.

TEAM DOCTOR

Ok, who’s up next?

SAMMIE hops up. Then looks a little embarrassed and sits back down.

ANGIE

Nah, girl. Go for it. Ease your asthmatic mind.

SAMMIE

You sure?

All the girls respond with some kind of “Yes, Yeah, of course!”. SAMMIE walks out with the TEAM DOCTOR.

SHAINA

Oof. This is too real.

ANGIE

Yeah.

BECCA

Now what?

SHAINA

(A smile appearing on her face)

Let’s go work on this shot of mine. Since you’re so adamant that I fix it.

BECCA

Now THAT is the best idea you’ve had all day.

ANGIE

I’ll grab a whistle.

SHAINA

Why?

ANGIE

Someone has to drown out the squeaking of shoes and Becca’s groans. It’s an empty arena. That stuff reverberates.

SHAINA

Always knew you wanted to coach.

ANGIE

May as well.

BECCA

Let’s go. 

The girls grab some things. A bag, a couple balls, a whistle, a clipboard, etc. They walk toward the doors. SHAINA walks slightly behind and in the middle of them. She throws her arms around both of them after slinging a bag over her shoulder.

SHAINA

I don’t know what I’d do without you girls.

They exit. Lights out.

Kevin is an actor and musician who works in tech and lives in Brooklyn. He is a die hard New England sports fan and supporter of Tottenham Hotspur in England's Premier League. Food and sports are his passions. Preferably consumed together.

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