Dramatization of “A Shady Plot”

Dramatization of “A Shady Plot”

A Story by Elise Brown

A Two Act Play

– Nagendra Sarma

Characters:

  1. John Hallock – The Writer
  2. Lavinia Hallock – Hallock’s Wife
  3. Helen – The Ghost
  4. Gladolia – Hallock’s Maid
  5. Miss Laura Hinkle – A Friend of Lavinia
  6. A Few Women

Props:

  1. Three rooms with minimal furniture.
  2. Five Ouija boards.

ACT 1

Scene 1

(Hallock enters, and sits in a chair and closes his eyes, depressed)

Background Voice

Hallock, give us another on the supernatural this time. Something to give them horrors; that’s what the public wants. Your ghosts are live proportions.

(Hallock wakes up in a shock)

Hallock:                  Soliloquy

                                (in a depressed tone) another ghost story.

(Stands up and talks with the audience) It is a wonder how I can always come up with a ghost story whenever Jenkins asks me to. It is also not a coincidence that Jenkins demands me to write a story when I am in a financial crisis.

(Sighs. Walks on the stage for a moment. Again talks to the audience.)

I have no shade of an idea what I should write this time. (Trying to cheer himself up) But, it doesn’t worry me a bit. Things always come my way.

(He finds the table and sits on it with a pen in hand and starts THINKING)

(In a loud voice – sarcastic) This writing business is delightful, isn’t it?

(The tone gets low) With my wife and her tendency to take up every new fad on my mind, I cannot think of any ghost story. Ah! Look at me. I am now talking to myself.

Helen:                     Yes!

                                (Hallock is startled)

                                I should say it is!

(Helen emerges from the other end of the room. A panicked Hallock stares at her in total shock)

                                (A loud, angry scream) What are you gaping at?

                                (Hallock swallows in fear)

Hallock:                  Nothing! (Swallows again) Absolutely nothing. (Thinks for a while staring at her). I was waiting for you to tell me who you are and, why, why you have come. Ah, do you always come in parts like this? Don’t you get mixed up?

Helen:                     (Frowning – Stays silent for a while. Hallock’s confued, frightened and shocked expressions) didn’t you call me?

Hallock:                  (Confused, shrugging) what! I, I don’t remember calling you! I don’t remembering calling anyone.

Helen:                     Look, are you not calling for heaven and earth all the afternoon to help you with a story?

(Hallock to the audience – Aside: Oh, I think I got it. I gave a paper add for a stenographer job! May be this ghost came to apply for the job. But, my god, the post is already filled!)

And by the time I was coming from my office to you, you started thinking something about your wife and so I couldn’t attract your attention.

Hallock:                  (Stammering) I, ah, I am very sorry. Really.

Helen:                     (Very cocky. The actor can fold the hands and turn the head away in a serious expression) No, you need not be. I just came to tell you not to bother us by calling us again and again for assistance. (Hallock being confused all the way. Helen turns towards the audience and says to everyone) We ARE ON STRIKE!

Hallock:                  What?!

Scene 2

Hallock:                  What?!

Helen:                     (Offended. Looking at Hallock seriously) you don’t have to yell at me!

Hallock:                  (Frightened) I, I didn’t mean to yell. But, (Slowly, carefully) I did not understand you. You said you were . . .? (Doubtful)

Helen:                     (Impatient) Going on a strike! Don’t you know what a strike is?

(Hallock looks at her very doubtfully)

It means, you will not get any plots from us!

Hallock:                  (In a shock) Oh! (He stands up from the chair and looks at the audience) So that is where all the stories are coming from! (Turns towards Helen) But my ghosts are not like you.

Helen:                     People will not believe if they are like us! (Talks in a compassionate tone) In the other life, I used to write. . .

Hallock:                  (Very interested) Oh!

Helen:                     But I couldn’t do it and I stopped. I mistook purgatory for paradise. But now, I want to help the writers who are struggling.

Hallock:                  (Very interested) Oh!

Helen:                     (Towards the audience) I found other ghosts who has suffered just like me, and we all together formed “The Writer’s Inspiration Bureau.” Here, we find suffering writers without ideas and we help them. We also have an office which takes care of all these issues and, we also make a report of what we have done.

Hallock:                  (Taking all in, thinks for a while) But, I never saw you before.

Helen:                     (Talk towards the audience) Many times, I was leaning on your shoulder (spontaneous fright of Hallock) and whispered stories in your ear. (Helen now angry) But you were thinking it is you who is thinking hard.

Hallock:                  Madam, I thank you for that. I have always been grateful and all that, you see.

Scene 3

Hallock:                  Madam, I thank you for that. I have always been grateful and all that, you see.

Helen:                     Oh, it is not you. (Looking at the audience, angrily, like they are using the Ouija board) It is those Ouija board fanatics. All the time they keep on playing it, and they call us for their amusement. The, the questions they ask! (Turns towards Hallock angrily) Because of them we stopped hunting too!

Hallock:                  (Both confused and frightened) But, what should I do for that?

Helen:                     (Walks wisely) You? You have to exert influence!

Hallock:                  But. . .

Helen:                     With your writings you have to stop all your friends stop using Ouija board and then, we will again start helping you to write.

                                (A knock on the door. Background tone: John! Oh John!)

Hallock:                  (Deeply worried like a child) Madam, madam, I must ask you to leave, please. It is my wife. If she sees you here! (A terrible expression). Please, leave at once.

Helen:                     Yes, I will. But, do not forger the strike. (Helen slowly disappears)

                                (Lavinia enters with a luggage from her shopping)

Lavinia:                   John! Why are you sitting in the dark? (Surprised)

Hallock:                  Just. . . Thinking, Lavinia, that’s all.

Lavinia:                   (In disbelief) Thinking? Rubbish! (Suddenly excited) Anyway, John, do you know, I bought the loveliest thing this afternoon. Everybody’s wild over them. (She searches her bag for a moment and takes out the Ouija board out with an excited expression)

Hallock:                  (Hold the chair back and stumbles) It . . . It isn’t. . .

Lavinia:                   (Lavinia holding the board like child) this is the duckiest, darlingest Ouija board. I got it at a bargain sale. (Hallock’s half-grin expression.) Why, what happened, John?

Scene 4

Lavinia:                   (Lavinia holding the board like child) this is the duckiest, darlingest Ouija board. I got it at a bargain sale. (Hallock’s half-grin expression.) Why, what happened, John?

Hallock:                 Nothing, no, nothing at all. (Trying to be not nervous)

Lavinia:                   But then, why do you look so funny? (Doubtful)

Hallock:                  I. . . Ah, I always look the same when I am interested. (A fake laugh). But. . . Ah, don’t you think it is a bit foolish to buy that thing?

Lavinia:                   Foolish? (Angry) I bought this for you!

Hallock:                  (Badly surprised) for me? What do you mean?!

Lavinia:                   Come on John, to help with your stories. (Facing the audience) With the help of this Oujia board, you can call the souls of Napoleon or William the Conqueror, or Helen of Troy. . . Well, maybe not Helen. But, just think how easy it would be for your writing.

Hallock:                  Lavinia, do you believe in these Ouija board ideas?

Lavinia:                   Surely, I don’t John, but, (She looks dreamily at the board) they are awfully thrilling.

Hallock:                  (Impatient) they are thrilling, alright! But they are positively devilish! Lanivia, have some sense and get rid of that thing as soon as possible. Take it back and get something else.

Lavinia:                   (In a much louder voice, wide eyes) John Hallock! (Hallock, frozen.) I do not propose to do anything like that. (Narrows they eyes into slits) If you are not interested in the other world, I am! (She walks out huffily)

                                (Hallock Sighs)

ACT 2

Scene 1

Hallock:                  Nine times eight is seventy-two, nine times nine is eighty one (Hallock comes to the stage and knocks the door)

Gladolia:                 (Opens the door) Mister Hallock! Your wife thinks you are lost. She has done a phone this morning. For lord’s sake don’t be angry now, but get ready for the company and come on down!

Hallock:                  Aside

Oh! I remember getting some message from the clerk, but I was hunting three lost receipts at the time and had completely forgotten it!

(To Gladolia) Company? What company?

Gladolia:                 Your missus’ Ouija board party! (She looks at him disapprovingly and walks towards the direction of the kitchen)

Scene 2

(A room with a four couples of old women playing the board)

Lavinia:                   (Pushing Hallock towards a lone woman) No, it is very easy John, you will love it. You just have to put your fingers on the board that is all, very simple.

Hallock:                  Please, I don’t want to. I won’t.

Lavinia:                   (To Hallock) she is Miss Laura Hinkle, (Laura extends her hand for a hand shake. Hallock and Laura shake their hands) Play well John. (Lavinia Leaves)

                                (A slow rumble over the background and a conversation starts among Laura and Hallock)

Laura:                     (Takes Hallock’s hand and places it on the board) Just like Lavinia was saying, you just have to place your fingertips over the board.

Hallock:                  (His fingers moving on the table) {to audience: Oh my god, the fingers are moving them themselves! I hope Laura is cheating on the board.}

Laura:                     (In a mysterious voice) Ouija, my dear, won’t you tell us something?

                                (Hallock’s fingers move, she reads the letters) Y-E-S. T-R-A-I-T-O-R

                                (Confused) What does she mean?

Hallock:                  How. . . How will I know!

Laura:                     What do you mean Ouija? Won’t you explain yourselves?

                                (Reads out) A-S-K H-I-M

                                Ask him? Ask who Ouija?

Hallock:                  (Startled) I . . . I am going! (His hands doesn’t come out)

Laura:                     (Not listening to Hallock) Hallock, she says it is you! I do not understand Hallock!

Other Women:      Lavinia, Lavina, some woman named Helen is calling your husband here!

Laura:                     (Looking suspiciously) Dear, dear, is that not suspicious?

Lavinia:                   Hallock, who is Helen?

Hallock:                  I. . . I. . .

Laura:                     My, my, doesn’t he look sly!

Scene 3

(Hallock sitting in a room alone in a chair, thinking something deep)

Hallock:                  What is going on with my life, I am not able to understand.

                                (A letter slips down towards Hallock, he stands up, picks it up, opens it and reads out)

                                “Dear John,

                        I am going back to my grandmother. . .”

                                Oh, oh my god! I wish I am dead!

Helen:                     That’s exactly what you ought to be!

Hallock:                  (Stands up abruptly) what is the matter with you? (Impatient) Why are you behaving like this? You never behaved like this before!

Helen:                     It is all your fault!

Hallock:                  My fault?!

Helen:                     I asked you to get your wife rid of that Ouija board!

Hallock:                  (Crying) I wish I had never seen you! Because of you, I had lost my happiness, I has lost my home, and I am losing my wife!

Gladolia:                 (From outside the room) Mr. Hallock. I am quitting. I don’t like hoodoos.

Hallock:                  (Utterly shocked) Now, now, just now, you have lost me my cook!

Laura:                     I didn’t come to be abused! (Loudly)

Scene 4

Laura:                     I didn’t come to be abused!

                                (Suddenly Lavinia enters the room with a suitcase)

                                (Hallock jumps)

Lavina:                    I came to tell you that I am leaving.

Hallock:                  Oh yes, yes. That’s fine. That’s great! (In panic, trying to cover Helen)

Lavina:                    (Cries) so you really want me to go! Do you?

Hallock:                  (Trying to cover Helen) Yes, yes, sure. Right away. Change in air will do you good. I will join you. Go, go!

Lavinia:                   You are acting queerly. You are hiding something from me (very determinedly)!

Gladolia:                 (Enters the room) Miss Hallock! I have come here to tell you that I am leaving!

Lavinia:                   Why Gladolia?

Gladolia:                 I will not stay in a place where those Ouija boards are lying!

Lavinia:                   That is what you have complaint about?

Gladolia:                 Yes Ma’am!

Lavinia:                   Alright the, go back to the kitchen. Use the board’s wood to kindle kitchen fire.

Gladolia:                 Me touch that thing? Never in my life!

Hallock:                  (Out of nowhere! Suddenly) I will burn it! I will burn it!

                                (Gladolia goes away)

Lavinia:                   (With a sympathetic look) John, do not deceive me. What is it you are hiding?

Hallock:                  (Looking around) Me, no, no. Nothing. I am not lying.

Lavinia:                   Hallock. You are hiding someone here! Aren’t you? I know, you even flirted with Laura. .

Hallock:                  (Cries loudly) my god, no! I did not!

Lavinia:                   Then tell me, who is that Helen?

Helen:                     (Comes out suddenly) I am Helen.

                                (They all stare at each other for a moment in shock.)

Lavinia:                   I thought . . . You were Helen of Troy!

Helen:                     I used to be Helen of Troy, New York. If you will leave some side, I will leave! See you later. (Helen leaves)

Lavinia:                   Oh Hallock, I am so sorry!

Hallock:                  Oh that is fine Lavinia, (Happy at last and holds her happily. Suddenly something strikes his head!) now, I have got the bulliest plot for a ghost story!

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