Read This Is What Happens Next Online

Authors: Daniel MacIovr

This Is What Happens Next

Also by Daniel MacIvor:

One Voice: House and Here Lies Henry

Never Swim Alone & This Is A Play

See Bob Run & Wild Abandon

I Still Love You: Five Plays

The Soldier Dreams

The Best Brothers

Arigato, Tokyo

Marion Bridge

His Greatness

How It Works

You Are Here

Cul-de-sac

Monster

In On It

Bingo!

Contents

Also By

Copyright

Dedication

Production History

Characters

This Is What Happens Next

Acknowledgements

About the Author

This Is What Happens Next
© Copyright 2014 by Daniel MacIvor

Playwrights Canada Press

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Cover and book design by Blake Sproule

Cover and author photos © Guntar Kravis

The Alegreya serif typeface used was designed by Juan Pablo del Peral. The Viga typeface was designed by Fontstage. The typefaces are used under the SIL Open font license version 1.1

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

MacIvor, Daniel, 1962-, author

   This Is What Happens Next [electronic resource] / Daniel MacIvor.

A play.

Electronic monograph in multiple formats.

Issued also in print format.

ISBN 978-1-77091-201-4 (pdf).--ISBN 978-1-77091-202-1 (epub)

I. Title

PS8575.I86T45 2014   C812'.54    C2013-908485-1

We acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC)—an agency of the Government of Ontario, which last year funded 1,681 individual artists and 1,125 organizations in 216 communities across Ontario for a total of $52.8 million—the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities.

For Bill W. and his friends

This Is What Happens Next
was first produced by Necessary Angel Theatre Company and the Canadian Stage Company in April 2010 at the Berkeley Street Theatre. It featured the following cast and creative team:

Performed by Daniel MacIvor

Directed and dramaturged by Daniel Brooks

Lighting design by Kimberly Purtell

Sound design by Richard Feren

Characters

Me

Will

Warren

Susan

Aaron

Mike

Kevin

On stage left is a chair, a pair of shoes beside the chair, a coat stand with a suit jacket hanging on it. On stage right a small table with a shelf below where a glass and a vodka bottle sit. These furniture pieces are placed near the edges of the playing space.

ME
enters the theatre through the audience wearing street clothes (a pink shirt). He carries a book and a venti Starbucks coffee. He makes his way toward the stage. The house lights remain up.

ME

I'm sorry I'm late, I'm sorry I'm late, I'm sorry I'm late, I'm sorry I'm late, I'm sorry I'm late. That's the first thing I say when I enter any room. I'm always late. Chronically late. Terminally late. And I'm really trying not to be late these days. I'm really trying not to be late because when I'm late I get annoyed and when I'm annoyed I get resentful and… well I don't even want to think about where resentment gets me. Resentment is fatal. But here I am late. But it wasn't my fault. That must be the slowest Starbucks in the city. In the country. And I've been around. Twenty minutes for a decaf grande soy latte? And this is not even a grande, it's a venti—and we won't even bother getting in to how that happened. Regardless I'm late. But it's not my fault. It was these two women. I'm walking to the door of the Starbucks and there are these two women behind me chatting away and I think, “I'll be the nice guy,” and I hold the door for them. And this is also a little annoying. I don't need a thank you but a head nod might be nice. An acknowledgement of my existence. How hard is a head nod? How hard is that. I should probably be on the stage. I'll go on the stage now.

ME
steps onto the stage. During the following he changes from his street shoes to the shoes that have been sitting near the chair. At one point he considers putting on the suit jacket but forgoes it, thinking it's too formal. As he continues the house lights fade.

So I know the deal. I let them in ahead of me and that means that they're ahead of me and of course they order eight lattes. Eight? Don't you have to call ahead for an order of that size?
(re: book)
This isn't a Bible, by the way, it's
The Story of Philosophy
by William Durant. It's pretty good; I'm trying to expand my mind. What's left of it.

He puts the book on the shelf near the vodka.

So I'm waiting. And so far I'm not overly annoyed. I get to order my decaf grande soy latte but of course there's an eight latte backup so it's going to be a while. But lucky for me the first two are made and the women are chatting away and sipping on them and one says to the other, “I can't taste my flavour. Can you taste your flavour?” And the other one says, “No but I wasn't going to say anything.” So the first woman says to the barrista guy making the latte's, “Did you put the flavor shots in?” He says, “Yep.” She says, “Well I don't taste anything.” And the guy says, “I'll make you new ones.” What? Just like that? And he turns to me and says, “You're not in a rush are you?” Well actually I am. Clearly. But when he asks me “You're not in a rush are you?” I don't say anything because I don't want to sound annoyed. I just turn away and think about being late and try not to be annoyed. But then I realize not saying anything when he says “You're not in a rush are you?” is a very annoyed thing to do, it's downright rude. So I turn back to say something but the moment has passed and it's too late to say anything. And so now I'm not only failing at not being annoyed I'm failing at hiding that I'm annoyed. So now I'm just officially waiting and annoyed. Meanwhile there's this other barista guy who's making some kind of flavoured latte concoction in a big vat and he's squirting all this syrup into the vat with this squirty bottle thing and he's counting the squirts under his breath, “Twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six,” and in an effort to take my mind off being annoyed I start counting the squirts along with him in my head, “Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine,” and then he stops he asks the other barista guy, “How many squirts all together?” And the guy calls back, “Forty-six. Then the squirting guy goes back to squirting where he stopped squirting and he's standing there kind of looking lost holding the squirty bottle of syrup stuff over the vat and it's clear he can't remember where he left off counting before he stopped to ask how many total squirts. But I remember! “Twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine.” So I call out, helpfully, “Thirty,” but he doesn't hear me so I call out again, kind of annoyed, “Thirty!” And now I think he's just blatantly ignoring me because the whole place can hear me, and there's quite a lineup now, and of course they just think I'm this crazy annoyed guy yelling out random numbers. And the squirty guy starts squirting again and counting, “Forty, forty-one, forty-two.” So no wonder nobody can taste their flavours they're ten shots off! Reason to be annoyed! Or, not really. But I am trying to change! I am. Really. Trying. Trying to be less easily annoyed. Trying to be less trying. Trying to be different. Trying to better myself. In lots of ways… I'm reading philosophy. Trying to change my attitude. And this is where we're supposed to start.

A moment.

Snow.

A moment.
ME
looks to the booth.

Oh. Isn't…? Wasn't…?

Really?

Fine.

I thought something was supposed to happen there. It doesn't matter. It would have been over the top anyway. Forget it.

So, snow. Snow is a perfect way for me to illustrate one of my major issues. I find snow terribly annoying. And I know I'm a bit of a blamer. I blame those two women for being late. I blame snow for my shitty winter. I get it. And so I decided I'm going to change my attitude and I decide to start with snow. Because I see snow and I think: “Snow, oh great, shovelling and cold feet and icy roads.” So I'm trying to change that. But you see for someone like me it's not about changing shovelling and cold feet and icy roads into something positive and saying, “Snow: oh great, sleigh rides and roasted chestnuts and tobogganing.” Because someone like me can turn those things into negatives justlikethat. I can so easily make it: sleigh rides: think of the horses; roasted chestnuts: taste like barf; tobogganing: there's a broken hip right there. No for me I have to go to the original negatives shovelling, cold feet, icy roads and transform those, so it becomes: shovelling: good outdoor exercise; cold feet: new boots; icy roads: that's a tough one but I came up with icy roads: a minor fender-bender, a cop comes to take my information, he's handsome and gay and he gives me his number. Like that's going to happen. Maybe in a movie. I might have seen once. And anyway that's a bit triggery for me. I have a thing with people. I'll think of something else for icy roads. But anyway yeah so. Yeah. That's my story.

I thought I'd have more to say about that. I had more to say about it when I was in the bathroom working on it earlier. Unfortunately concise for once.

Okay stay in the moment.

I bought these shoes in Montreal. They make nice shoes in Montreal. Well they don't make them there, they import them. They make them in Italy I guess. They're overpriced. But the salesman said they'd bury me in them. Actually he didn't say that. He said they'd last forever. I just thought, “They'll bury me in them.” That would be a terrible way to sell shoes. Maybe not for me. For most people. “We've got a shirt in the back we can bury you in that too.” Oh, this is a pink shirt. I got it in Berlin years ago when pink was supposed to become the new black. That never caught on unfortunately.

Actually it's not the same shirt. I did get a pink shirt years ago in Berlin when pink was supposed to become the new black. But that shirt wore out. I got this shirt in honour of that shirt. I didn't have to tell you that. You never would have known the difference. But I'm trying to be honest.

It's too bad pink never did become the new black. I was hoping it would. Imagine that. Next time you go to a function look around and imagine everyone in black in pink. It would change the world.

Some people say it's not pink. I say it's deep pink. Someone said it was fuchsia but I think fuchsia has more blue.

Oh by the way, you should turn off your phones because if they light up I get distracted and slooooooow down, and if I get distracted and slow down we'll be here forever. So for your sake I'd turn off your phone.
(takes out his phone to make sure it's on)
I'm leaving mine on though. I'm expecting a call. From my lawyer. I wish I was kidding. It's been a shitty couple of years. But I don't want to get into that. Or… Argh.

Why is this so difficult? I'm not asking you. It's a rhetorical question. Well it's not rhetorical, I can answer it. This is difficult because I had publicly stated that I wasn't going to do this kind of thing anymore. And I didn't want to do this kind of thing anymore because to do this kind of thing you have to have a story and I've been trying to avoid stories. Telling stories, making up stories. See what I had wanted to do was have a real life and tell the truth and stay in the moment, and to do whatever I could in the moment by moment to secure myself a happy ending. I'm all about the happy endings now. So I tried that. It didn't work out. So here I am. So I planned to just tell the truth. But what's the truth anyway? It's true to me. But to really tell the real story we'd have to have all the… players… everyone involved. Telling their truth. Not just me. “He'd” have to be here. And my lawyer probably. My father, why not. Bring on my astrologer too. All the victims of my behaviour. The ghosts of the victims of what might have happened. And we don't want that to happen. So now I need a story. And that's difficult because part of what I've been trying to do is stay in the present, in the now, in the “this” as it were—but a story isn't interested in the this, a story is all about the “next” and then the next and then the next next and ultimately there's an ending. And my endings have usually been anything but happy. And also this is difficult because in order to tell a story I'd need to use my Will to do that. And lately I've been trying to avoid my Will. I mean clearly it's available to me, I'm here. But my Will is a pretty single-minded, sarcastic, self-centred kind of guy. And I'm trying not to be that guy. Will can turn me into a bit of a monster. An angry giant crushing everything in his path. It's not pretty. And also my Will doesn't believe in happy endings. But without Will there's just… this. And we've done the Starbucks, we've done the snow, we've done the shoes and the shirt and the cellphone. I don't think this is going to be enough.

All I really wanted was to see you smile. All I wanted to was hear you laugh. I just wanted to give you a happy ending. But something has to happen so…

Suspenseful music.

Here we go.

There is a story. I'm sure you're relieved to hear that. And the story is about Kevin, or well, it's not really about Kevin but Kevin is central. He's a kid. He's seven. Or eight. No… or. He's seven! Kevin represents the inner child. And I guess me as a kid. And there's Kevin's father Mike. Who is kind of like my father. And me. Partly me too. It's all about me I guess. And there's Kevin's mother—Mike's ex-wife—but I don't think we get to meet her though but she's important in the story. And there's Kevin's Uncle Aaron. He used to be Kevin's Aunt Erin. He changed it from Erin with an E to Aaron with an A when he had his gender reassignment surgery. Well not the whole thing. He still has his, or she still has his… It's confusing. Anyway Aaron represents my sexuality and my issues with gender and that's confusing.

In the distance we hear giant footsteps approaching. Growing louder and louder.

And also there's a giant. Kevin tells the story of a giant. In a fairy tale he makes up. The giant is a metaphor for… Or a representation of… Oh we don't need to get into all that. Look, it will all be okay. It'll be okay. You'll get what you came for. You'll have something to talk about. Something will happen. Something will definitely happen. Just whatever you do don't get too close, don't mention philosophy and for God's sake don't let him have a drink!

We hear a terrible sound.

Blackout.

Light shift. Music: “Happy Ending.”

WILL
walks into the light, wearing the suit jacket.

WILL

Hi. I'm back. Sorry about that meandering, “spontaneous” opening. What was that all about, with the Starbucks cup and the recent experiences and the nervous charm and
The Story of Philosophy
? Eek. That old chestnut. That's a big part of the problem. It's a cute book. Concise. Covers a lot of ground. A little bit of information about a whole lot of things. But for someone like Me a little bit of information can be a very dangerous thing. It's an okay book, all the regulars: Hegel. Voltaire. And of course you've got your Schopenhauer. Don't get me started on Schopenhauer. We can just break out the razor blades now. For those of you who know Schopenhauer, you know what I'm talking about, and for those of you who don't, count yourselves lucky. Hey listen. This music? Have a listen. It's called “Happy Ending.” Doesn't it just make you want to… Makes you happy. Well, it's been quite a couple of years for Me. Got married. Fell into a dark abyss of cocaine and alcohol addiction. Lots of unhealthy sexual behaviour. In and out of recovery. Filed for divorced. Lost the house. Lost thousands and thousands of dollars. Alienated people who loved Me. Disappointed a whole gazebo full of family and friends. And on top of it all aging badly. Well no wonder, it's been quite a couple of years. But when I say all that with this playing doesn't it sound so much better? No, not really. Because “Happy Ending” is just the name of a song. When the song is over you're not happy anymore. When the song is over the song is over. And that's because there's no such thing as a happy ending. I mean sure that's arguable. You've got, what,
The Little Mermaid
. But no, because the real ending is she doesn't get the prince, she gets her tongue cut out and she turns into seafoam; the rest of that story is just Disney. And there's what, something real… John Denver and all that uplifting Colorado “Rocky Mountain High” stuff. No, because the real story is he forgets to put gas in his plane and they find his foot floating in the ocean, the rest of that story is just a made-for-
TV
movie. Or maybe… something big… “God”? Ah, but that just seems like more Disney to me. No, if we're going to talk about endings we'll have to talk about polar bears and drinking water and hurricanes and terrorism and the decline of Western civilization, or let's just cut to the chase: Y'all die. Thank you and good night, I'll be here all week, tell your friends. No. Forget about the ending, there's no happy in the ending. You want to be happy. I'm assuming that. So what are you going to do, sit around and wait for your happy ending? You might as well just stay home and watch
TV
or go shopping. It's not going to happen. There's only one way to be happy. And that is to know what you want and use your Will to get it.

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