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“The Way of All Fish” – Elaine May

MISS ASQUITH: I don’t know your first name because I don’t notice anything. That’s a terrible failing of
mine. I don’t really notice people unless they’re directly in my line of vision, part of what I’m focusing
on. That was one of the reasons for my divorce. One day I handed my husband an envelope and said,
“Mail this for me.” And he said, “Can’t your secretary mail it?” and I said, “Oh, I’m sorry, darling. I didn’t
realize I was talking to you.” Well—it wasn’t just that…that discussion. It turned out he’d been very
miserable for a very long time. But of course I didn’t notice. I’m very insensitive. And everyone has to
forgive me. Until they don’t. …It’s a shortcoming, being blind to others. Power in a relationship belongs
to whoever wants to leave first—and you can’t anticipate that unless you notice the other person. The
irony is that I wondered for years if I didn’t make a mistake marrying him, if I couldn’t have done better,
if it wasn’t a waste of my time—all those vacations, and dinners, and preludes to sex. And the minute he
said he wanted a divorce I realized I that I loved him madly. Madly. And it was too late.

MISS RIVERTON: …Because being famous is like, being immortal, isn’t it?

[MISS ASQUITH: Well—only if you’re famous for a very long time.]

MISS RIVERTON: But you can be. Anyone can be. And I know how. You know how? You can kill someone
famous. Of course, it has to be someone really famous and people have to be convinced that you’re not
part of a conspiracy. And meeting someone famous isn’t so easy. When I was younger that’s all I thought
about—who can I kill who’s famous and how can I meet him. Probably I should have been thinking how
can I meet who’s famous and how can I kill him—but I was just a kid. I thought of killing the president,
but everyone who tries to kill the president is such a slug. I mean, I made a list of successful presidential
assassins who still had some kind of stature, and you know who there is. Booth. Because he killed
Lincoln. And where are you going to find another Lincoln? And—I don’t know—it just seems like such a
failure of imagination to go right to the president: kill someone famous—kill the president. Duh. Of
course, Jack the Ripper is still famous and he just killed a lot of totally unknown prostitutes. But that may
be because no one knows who he really is. And Charlie Manson is still famous and he just killed a starlet
and some hairdressers. But who knows if he’ll stand the test of time. I mean, you can easily kill someone
and just be overlooked—unless you kill a lot of people, or kill a few people but in a really ghastly way—
but it would have to be so ghastly.

[MISS ASQUITH: You…you’ve given this a lot of thought.]

MISS RIVERTON: I have. I mean, if there was another way—but I can’t write a novel, I can’t become a
movie star, I can’t invent a vaccine because I have no talent. Not that talent is any guarantee of fame,
but with talent I’d have had a shot at it, an honest shot. And I’d have taken it. I didn’t want an easy way
out. I didn’t want to resort to murder. But fame is fame. The important thing for me is not to…just pass
through. To leave a mark. To change the world. To have people’s consciousness enlarged to include me.
And it wasn’t for material gain, I didn’t want to get rich. I wasn’t going to live well from my crime. If I got
caught I’d probably be electrocuted. So in a way, I would have been sacrificing my life for immortality—
just like an artist or a scientist does. I would have been driven to kill not for the reward, but because
there was nothing else I could do to fulfill myself—the same reason an artist creates. My curse has
always been that I’m a special person with no special ability.

“2B (Or Not 2B)” – Jacquelyn Reingold

FRANNY: I know you told me it was over and I respect that. I mean, I understand it and I know you don’t
want to see me again and I know I was not very nice to you at times, and I just want to say that I’ve had
a—well, a complete not-nice-ostomy and a total unlike-ectomy , I’ve had all the not-nice unlikeable
parts removed, so if you call me, I’m sure we can work it out. (She hangs up. She tears a strip of wax
from her legs.) AHH! (She cries. She dials. She holds the receiver to her leg. She rips another strip of wax.)
AH! I’m waxing my legs. I know you hated my hairy legs, so I’m waxing! I can’t believe you haven’t called
me back. (Hangs up. Rips off more wax.) Ah! (Dials.) I heard you asked out my friend Eleanor, and I
thought you’d like to know she has a papilloma virus—in her vagina. And in her mouth. On her tongue.
In case you happened to have kissed her already. Wouldn’t worry about it, though, I’m sure it’s fine.
Okay, well, thanks for breaking my heart. And I still really love you and if you want you change your
mind and give it another try, let me know. (Hangs up. Cries. Rips wax.) Ah!

FRANNY: Well, my first relationships were with typical self-involved commitmentphobes when I was
between the ages of, say, five and twelve. Then junior high was alcoholics; high school was drug addicts;
college, gay men, a guy who owned a duck, then a physically challenged interpretive ice skater, meaning
you know an amputee who’d skate with a kind of stick with a blade at the bottom. Then I married a guy
who liked to put garlic in his ears, but I went away a lot with my boyfriend, who was a puppeteer for the
blind. Then my husband fell for a woman with small limbs, and I got pregnant but lost the baby and the
father, well, he was a Midwesterner. So then I had a slew of internet dates with incredibly boring men,
which is I guess a sign of getting older. The men tell long stories that sound like intricate recipes on how
to marinate poultry.
“Heartburn” – Nora Ephron

RACHEL: There has been a lot written in recent years about the fact that men don’t cry enough. Crying is
thought to be a desirable thing, a sign of mature male sensibility, and it is generally believed that when
little boys are taught that it is unmanly to cry, they grow up unable to deal with pain and grief and
disappointment and feelings in general.

I would like to say two things about this. The first is that I have always believed crying is a highly
overrated activity: women do entirely too much of it, and the last thing we ought to want is for it to
become a universal excess.

The second thing I want to say is this: beware of men who cry. It is true that men who cry are sensitive
to and in touch with their feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be sensitive to and in touch with
are their own.
“Catholic School Girls” – Casey Kurtti

After school I go home and do my homework right away so I can do down to my father’s store. He’s not
really a bad man, I just don’t like him or something. While he’s in the back room, I take soda cans and
crush them onto my shoes. I move some sawdust into a little pile on the floor and I begin to dance. Not
like Nancy Sinatra or Diana – Oh, I am so much better. As I’m dancing, my mind just lets go and all these
little movies come into my head. My favorite – I’m on the Ed Sullivan show.

Thank you, Eddie. I’m singing a song. Fake snow is falling all around me. I have on a sexy dress. It’s sort
of a sad song and I look so incredibly beautiful that some people in the audience are starting to cry.
Well, I break into a tap dance just to cheer them up. Later on Ed Sullivan brings me backstage to the
Beatles’ dressing room and Paul asks me to marry him. I say, maybe in a couple months, because I have
my career to think about. I become an international superstar and go on to live in a penthouse
apartment right on top of Radio City Music Hall. So for now, I don’t mind rehearsing in my father’s meat
“Postcards from the Edge” – Carrie Fisher

You know, growing up in LA there’s such an emphasis on looks. I mean, even in school, I decided what I
was going to wear the next day before I did my homework. There was this girl in my class, Beth Ann
Finnerman, whose knee socks always stayed up, and mine seemed to sort of rumple toward the ankles.
And I really thought my life would be better if I could do things like have my knee socks stay up…

I’ve recently found that to keep up my appearance, it has to be through health. I used to think this was
corny, but I guess “healthy” equals “attractive,” now, you know?

I realize I’m talking a lot, but I don’t want you to think I’m nervous. Maybe I am, but I don’t want you to
think I am. I skipped lunch today and whenever I do that I get really wanged out. Also I should tell you
I’m on Pritikin. My cholesterol is way up. I could have steamed vegetables or maybe a little protein, like
chicken. I mean, I’m not like a fanatic, I’m just trying out this Pritikin thing. Anyway, I don’t go totally
over the edge with this, but I do like to know. To be educated in these things, so when I do choose to eat
a refined sugar or an animal fat product, I at least now what I’m doing. That I’m turning my arteries to

Oh, and I haven’t had any caffeine since I started meditating a week ago…Actually, I’m a failed anorexic.
I have anorexic thinking but I can’t seem to muster the behavior…I could never be bulimic. I could never
make myself throw up…

Listen, it’s too complicated to order something special. Let’s just split a lasagna, I’ll have a Diet Coke.
“Middletown” – Will Eno

And you wanted to learn more about the area – Good for you, dear. I think a lot of people figure, “Why
bother? I’m just going to die anyway.” Let me just search our catalog here – and voila! Sorry, nothing.
There’s a wonderful book called Yesteryear in Today’s City of Tomorrow. But it’s out. It’s due next

Here’s something from the Chamber of Commerce, just to give you a general sense. “Middletown was
built on the ruins of other Middletowns, and, before them, a town called Middenton, which was named
for being between two other places, both unknown and now incidentally gone. That doesn’t sound right,
“Incidentally gone.” Anyway, “a thousand years ago, the area was home to the Chakmawg Indian and it
was called Inpetway, which no one knows what it means, but it might have meant ‘You are far away,’ or
‘Between the snowing.’ The Chakmawg had a highly developed culture and they thrived in their time,
until they disappeared, forever. New residents arrived and looked around.” – That’s not much of a
sentence. But I guess it helps to give us a picture, people kind of lost and smiling. But, okay, let’s see –
“arrived and looked around. Today, Middletown is a beehive, a human beehive, of activity and business.
Many come to raise families and watch, swollen with civic pride, as their baby draws its first breath of
local air. Also drawn by the excellent clouds and mostly quiet nights, many come here to quietly retire.
Middletown – we’ve got you coming and going.”
“Rosa’s Eulogy” – Richard Strand

JEANNE: Dear Lord, I am here before you to honor this cat, who I don’t actually know but who I found in
the street outside my apartment where some bastard hit her with his car and then just left her for
carrion. I call her Rosa because, because, I don’t know her real name and I like the name Rosa. What do
we know about Rosa? We know that she is one of your creations and therefore precious. We know, in
fact, that she was more worthy in your eyes than the bastard who probably got her as a kitten because
she was cute but didn’t take even a second to consider that getting a cat is a lifelong responsibility so he
just tossed her out of his cat onto Foothill Boulevard when he got bored with her where the chances or
her surviving even two days are about nil because—Foothill Boulevard, for Christ’s sake—that’s a busy
street and if she’s not his by a car she’s going to get sick or eaten by a coyote—whatever—what we
know is that Rosa is going to heaven and the bastard who called himself her owner is going…Sorry.
Sorry. Not my decision. That’s up to you, of course. Sorry. DIdn’t mean to overstep. Even though we
never met Rosa when she was alive, I can tell—anyone can tell just looking at her lifeless corpse—that
she was a Maine Coon, which is one of the most beautiful breeds of cat that you ever thought to place
on this earth. Well, you know, you gave the breeders the gift. Well, you know, you gave the breeders the
gift of scientific insight so they could create the Maine Coon breed, but still, your fingerprints are all over
this. We know Rosa was a Maine Coon by the striped tail and the distinctive dark patches over her eyes
and the nose which, well, um, seems a little longer than would be considered show quality…

Okay, she’s probably not a purebred Maine Coon, but she is clearly…Holy cripe, she’s a racoon. What the
hell am I doing petting a racoon? Eoo. Eoo. Sorry. Didn’t mean to bother you over a racoon. Oh man.
Gotta wash my hands. Sorry, God. Sorry. Go back to whatever you were doing, I’ll take care of the
racoon. Toss this in the dumpster. Sorry, Lord. Sorry.
“Starf*cker” – Adam Pasen

You know some girls move to LA to be actresses? I came so I wouldn’t ever have to see that look again.

It’s just a look I always saw on boy’s faces back home. I’d meet someone interesting and we’d hang out
and talk and…just have fun, you know? Whatever – pass the time. And then one day, I’d turn and they’d
have that look on their faces, and it…it just…it killed me, because I knew I couldn’t keep – that it wasn’t
fair to…

[BOY: You ran away because you think everyone was in love with you? How terminally narcissistic. You
could totally be an actress!]

Some people are emotionally equipped to hurt people. I’m not. I was built to be hurt. It’s…cleaner. And I
figured, where can a person who winds up systematically destroying anyone who makes the mistake of
caring about them go to fit in? Los Angeles.

[BOY: So what do you…want him to do?]

I want him not to call. I’m looking forward to crying myself to sleep because I know he’s not thinking of
me. And somewhere down the line it would be nice to see him at an event or something and know by
his expression that not only does he not remember my name, he doesn’t know he’s supposed to know
my name because he has no idea we’ve ever even met. It meant so little to him that I don’t exist. That I
was a complete – ghost fuck.

[BOY: You would like that?]

I would relish it.

“White – or – The Muskox Play” – Jonathon Fitts

BON: Dad looked like a zombie. He’d lost a lot of weight. It wasn’t like the life drained out of him or
anything, you know? It’s like he’d already sprung a leak and now we knew what it was. That it was life
draining out of him. And we just had to watch. We sat in the car for an hour and just…sat in the AC. I
didn’t want to cry, you know? Didn’t want him to feel bad. Like he needed to protect me. But holy shit.
Holy. Shit. I couldn’t think of anything else. The inside of my head was wallpapered with it. And I looked
around…you know, in my head…trying to find other things to focus on. But there weren’t. The walls, the
windows, they’d all been wallpapered over. Everything else was gone. It had drained out. And I started
to get panicky, almost claustrophobic. I couldn’t let it out my eyes, I couldn’t let it out my throat, I just
had to sit there with it in my body pushing from the inside out. And I think Dad had to notice. Cause he
started fidgeting. And of all things to say, he looked at me and said: Let’s go get some ice cream.
“A Life With No Joy In It” – David Mamet

No one ever likes the things the clergyman says at funerals. But the “bright,” and the “sunny,” and the
stupid women’s poetry, and “like a butterfly” and “the free spirit flying…” and her “ever present cup of
tea,” her “endless cups of tea.” Well. She drank tea. She did many things. “I never knew you, but in
knowing her, I feel I know you.” You don’t know me. You don’t know me, and you didn’t know her, fool.
Who do you think you are? I suffered with her for years and spent my waking and sleeping hours trying
to understand. And you tell me you “knew” her and she was “a walk in a night’s garden”…? And the
other one…what was her name? What are you doing there? And her “love of Jazz,” “the world was one
improvisation to her.” Well. How about that? “Just one long melody of thoughts and people. Sand in
your summer shoes and the crinkle of logs on the wood stove…” Thank you. Thank you. And endless
cups of tea. And how we loved you all, the three of you, and we know she is at peace. Well. If she is at
peace, then I mistake her. As a reward or as a commutation. Then I didn’t know her at all. But I did know
her. They didn’t know her. I knew her.
“Constellations” – Nick Payne

On nuclear and atomic scales, gravity is pretty much insignificant. But in terms of General Relativity, it’s
vital. So you’ve got these two theories that are completely at offs with one another. Relativity covers the
sun, the moon, the starts, while quantum mechanics takes are of molecules, quarks, atoms – that sort of
thing. We’ve effectively asked the same question twice and come up with two completely different

But now, we’ve got string theory. Or, to be a bit more specific, we’ve got lots of different string theories.
A by-product of every single one of these theories – almost entirely by accident 0 is the possibility that
we’re part of a multiverse.

Despite our best efforts, there are certain microscopic observations that just cannot be predicted
absolutely. Now, potentially, one way of explaining this is to draw the conclusion that at any given
moment, several outcomes can exist simultaneously. In the quantum multiverse, every choice, every
decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.

But – let’s say that ours really is the only universe that exists. There’s only one unique me and one
unique you. If that were true, then there could only really ever be one choice. But if every possible
future exists, then the decisions we do and don’t make will determine which of these futures we actually
end up experiencing. Imagine rolling a dice six-thousand times.
“The Gazebo” – Raymond Carver

Holly: You weren’t my first, you know. My first was Wyatt. Imagine. Wyatt. And your name’s Duane.
Wyatt and Duane. Who knows what I was missing all this time? You were my everything, just like a song.
I couldn’t go outside the marriage.

Listen, you remember the time we drove out to that old farm place outside of Yakima We were just
driving around – we were on this little dirst road and it was hot and dusty, and we kept going and came
to that old house, and you asked if we could have a drink of water? Can you imagine us doing that now?
Going up to a house and asking for a drink of water?

Those old people must be dead now. Side by side out there in some cemetery. You remember they
asked us in for cake? And later on they showed us around, and there was this little gazebo there out
back? It had a little peaked roof and the paint was gone and there were these weeds growing up over
the steps. And the woman said that years before, I mean a real long time ago, men used to come around
and play music out there on Sunday, and the people would sit and listen.

I thought we’d be like that too when we got old enough. Dignified. And in a place. And people would
come to our door.
IMOGEN – “Cymbelline”

O, for a horse with wings! Hears’t thou, Pisanio?

He is at Milford-Haven: read, and tell me
how far tis thither. If one of mean affairs
May plod it in a week, why may not I
Glide thither in a day? Then, true Pisanio –
Who long’st, like me, to see thy Lord; who long’st –
Let me bate – but not like me – yet long’st,
But in a fainter kind – O, not like me:
For mine’s beyond, beyond – say, and speak thick:
Love’s counselor should fill the bores of hearing,
To the smothering of the sense – how far it is
To this same blessed Milford: and by the way
Tell me how Wales was made so happy as
To inherit such a haven: but first of all,
How may we steal from hence, and for the gap
That we shall make in time, from our hence-going
And our return, to excuse: but first, how get hence:
Why should excuse be born or e’er begot?
We’ll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,
How many score of miles may we will ride
‘Twixt hour and hour?
ROSALIND – “As You Like It”

Who might be your mother,

That you insult, exult, and all at once,
Over the wretched? What though you have no beauty –
As, by my faith, I see no more in you
Than without candle may go dark to bed –
Must you therefore be proud and pitiless?
Why, what means this? Why do you look on me?
I see no more in you than in the ordinary
Of Nature’s sale-work – Od’s my little life,
I think she means to tangle my eyes, too.
- No, faith, proud mistress, hope not after it.
‘Tis not your inky brows, your black silk hair,
Your bugle eyeballs, nor your cheek of cream
That can entame my spirits to your worship.
- You foolish shepherd, wherefore do you follow her,
Like foggy south puffing with wind and rain?
You are a thousand times a properer man
Than she a woman. Tis such fools as you
That make the world full of ill-favored children.
‘Tis not her glass but you that flatters her,
And out of you she sees herself more proper
Than any of her lineaments can show her.
- But, mistress, know yourself. Down upon your kness
And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man’s love,
For I must tell you friendly in your ear,
Sell when you can; you are not for all markets.
Cry the man mercy, love him, take his offer.
Foul is most foul, being foul, to be a scoffer.
- So take her to thee, shepherd. Fare thee well.

DESDEMONA – “Othello”

O good Iago,
What shall I do to win my lord again?
Good friend, go to him; for, by this light of heaven,
I know not how I lost him. Here I kneel:
If e'er my will did trespass 'gainst his love,
Either in discourse of thought or actual deed,
Or that mine eyes, mine ears, or any sense,
Delighted them in any other form;
Or that I do not yet, and ever did.
And ever will--though he do shake me off
To beggarly divorcement--love him dearly,
Comfort forswear me! Unkindness may do much;
And his unkindness may defeat my life,
But never taint my love. I cannot say 'whore:'
It does abhor me now I speak the word;
To do the act that might the addition earn
Not the world's mass of vanity could make me.
EMILIA – “Othello”

But I do think it is their husbands' faults

If wives do fall: say that they slack their duties,
And pour our treasures into foreign laps,
Or else break out in peevish jealousies,
Throwing restraint upon us; or say they strike us,
Or scant our former having in despite;
Why, we have galls, and though we have some grace,
Yet have we some revenge. Let husbands know
Their wives have sense like them: they see and smell
And have their palates both for sweet and sour,
As husbands have. What is it that they do
When they change us for others? Is it sport?
I think it is: and doth affection breed it?
I think it doth: is't frailty that thus errs?
It is so too: and have not we affections,
Desires for sport, and frailty, as men have?
Then let them use us well: else let them know,
The ills we do, their ills instruct us so.

JOAN OF ARC – “Henry VI Part 1”

First, let me tell you whom you have condemned:

Not me begotten of a shepherd swain,
But issued from the progeny of kings;
Virtuous and holy; chosen from above,
By inspiration of celestial grace,
To work exceeding miracles on Earth.
I never had to do with wicked spirits:
But you, that are polluted with your lusts
Stain’d with the guiltless blood of innocents,
Corrupt and tainted with a thousand vices
Because you want the grace that others have,
You judge it straight a thing impossible
To compass wonders but my help of devils.
No, misconceived! Joan of Arc hath been
A virgin from her tender infancy,
Chaste and immaculate in very thought;
Whose maiden blood, thus vigorously effused,
Will cry for vengeance at the gates of heaven.
LADY PERCY – “Henry IV Part II”

O yet, for God’s sake, go not to these wars.

The time was father, that you broke your word,
When you were much more endeared to it than now,
When your own Percy, my heart’s dear Harry,
Threw many a northward look to see his father
Bring up his powers; but he did long in vain.
Who then persuaded you to stay at home?
There were two honors lost, yours and your son’s.
For yours, God in heaven brighten it.
For his, it struck upon him as the sun
In the grey vault of heaven, and by his light
Did all the chivalry of England move to do
Brave acts; he was indeed the glass wherein
The noble youth did dress themselves;
He had no legs that practiced not his gait;
And speaking thick, which nature made his
Blemish, became the accents of the valiant;
For those who could speak low and tardily
Would turn their own perfections to abuse
To seem like him.
And him – o wondrous him! O miracle of men-
Him did you leave, second to none,
Unseconded by you, to look upon the hideous
God of War in disadvantage, to abide
A field where nothing but the sound of Hotspur’s
Name did seem defensible. So you left him.
Never, O never, do his ghost the wrong
To hold your honor more precise and nice
With others than with him. Let them alone.