2. All the Things You Could Have Been if Not for Me
Part 2. A play about 5 people who have to navigate their interdependence so they can proceed along their individual paths to autonomy and freedom.
DAVID OLDMAN. Mid-fifties, libertarian broadcaster.
JANET SMAIL. Early-fifties, David’s long-time producer.
SOPHIE WILLIS. Thirties, barrister, David’s daughter.
MIKE VAN KLEE. Thirties, well-known actor, Sophie’s partner.
TIA MERCER. Thirties, struggling content creator, Sophie’s best friend.
TAMA THOREAU. Thirties, author, isolationist.
It’s set in the present. As much as possible, the technology in the play should be depicted in a non-literal manner that is led by - and prioritises- the live human body and voice.
David hosted his talkback show, where he was in his element - pontificating about individual agency - when his long-time producer Janet had some kind of brain fart and made an uncharacteristic slip.
Tia traveled deep into the bush and discovered the reclusive libertarian writer Tama Thoreau - who is so off-grid he was unaware that he’s a world famous, award-winning author. His book is being celebrated as Walden of the internet era. Tia managed to sneak a photo.
Catch up here. Or read on.
INT. TIA’S APARTMENT.
Tia is sitting cross-legged on the floor of her unfurnished apartment. Her laptop is open. Her screen is projected so we can see her browse.
She’s on ‘www.mirror.co.uk/sell-your-story.’ She scrolls.
How much is it worth?
Your information could be worth hundreds of pounds or several thousand if it leads to a front page exclusive in the Sunday Mirror. The more prominent the story, the more we will pay. We will give you a ball-park figure when you contact us.
Want to sell your pics or video?
We also pay for photographs and video footage that we publish. If you have an image or clip you have taken on your mobile phone or digital camera that you think we may be interested in, email us information at firstname.lastname@example.org
She copies the email address, opens her Gmail email@example.com, and composes a new email.
Subject: FOR SALE: Exclusive photo of Tama Thoreau in New Zealand bush hideaway.
Body: To whom it may concern. My name is Tia Mercer. I am a photographer with extensive experience in
She deletes the last sentence.
I am a trained photojournalist who has located the whereabouts of the author Tama Thoreau. I visited him and took the attached photo, which I submit for your exclusive consideration. I would be pleased to negotiate terms for its licence.
Yours sincerely Tia Mercer. Photographer.
She attaches an image called “Tama_Thoreau_ ©_Tia_Mercer_[This Year], after having a quick look at it.
It’s the one of TAMA that she took by accident in the bush. He’s pointing a gun at her.
She presses ‘send’. She breathes.
INT. DAVID’S BROADCAST STUDIO.
Janet and Mike sit side by side at David’s console. Janet is hosting and simultaneously producing a livestream with Mike.
JANET Hi hi hi, I’m eejitboxluv, and we’re livestreaming across Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter Spaces [and/or whatever people are doing these days] to all the crinklies out there like me who still love TV. Today I’m hosting an AHA – that’s Ask Him Anything, with actor Mike Van Klee, AKA Digby Davis, QC from True Justice. That’s all the intro he needs. Come on crinklies, make him talk.
MIKE Hey Janet, first I have to say wow. True Justice costs about a million an episode and I have never seen fancier tech than I can see here plugged into your laptop. I’m totally new to this, so be gentle with me, but I’m super excited to be able to connect with the eejitboxluv universe.
JANET We call ourselves the crinklies.
MIKE Hi crinklies. I love TV so I guess I’m a crinkly too.
JANET What are you watching these days?
MIKE Oh man. It’d be easier to start with what I don’t watch. Not News. Not reality. I love a script; I love acting and I love an arc. I watch the [soap opera] omnibus every Sunday. Have for years. I’m watching [prestige drama], I’m up to season [x] and people might laugh at me for this, but I just love [classic comfort TV series]. I’ve seen it all the way through 4 times, and I’m not done yet.
JANET Our first question is from @hungryforjustice, you’re live with Mike Van Klee.
@HUNGRYFORJUSTICE (V/O) When will you make honest woman of Mei Lin?
JANET Mei Lin, Digby’s on-again, off-again currently on flame. What can you say Mike?
MIKE Better watch Thursday big news. in that regard hashtag spoiler alert.
@HUNGRYFORJUSTICE (V/O) Spoil. Spoil.
MIKE Nah, too fun messing with you.
JANET Can we have a clue?
MIKE Oh man, publicity is going to kill me for this. Let’s just say a long-standing question will be asked and answered.
JANET Oh Mike. Knowing that makes it even harder to wait for Thursday, who’s next?
MIKE Wait, wait – I’m just looking at the stats - @eejiboxluv, do you want to tell them how many crinklies are watching this?
JANET Across all channels, right now, 3500
MIKE I’m in the presence of royalty. The crinkly queen!
JANET @siajust you are live with Mike Van Klee. Ask Him Anything.
@SIAJUST (V/O) I just love you Mike, I just love True Justice…
The sense of time passing and many questions later…
JANET Hey Mike, this has been so good. I think we should let you go. Thanks so much for your time.
MIKE Anything, anytime, for the @eejitboxluv family. Love you crinklies.
Janet stops the stream.
JANET Thanks so much for that I really appreciate it.
MIKE Anything. Anytime. I mean it. That was really cool.
JANET It was wasn’t it?
MIKE You have such an engaged community. I had no idea. Hey, I’ve got the cast poster heading your way, fully signed.
JANET What’s for?
MIKE The giveaway.
MIKE You’ve got the giveaway next week, the online auction? For the refuge?
JANET Oh. Sorry. Senior moment. Thanks again. Give Mei Lin a kiss for me.
MIKE Mei Lin? Ha!
MIKE Are you fishing for plot?
MIKE I will give Sophie a kiss from you though.
JANET Yes of course give Sophie a kiss.
JANET What did I say?
MIKE You said Mei Lin.
MIKE My character Digby’s... love interest.
JANET I said… God. Did I? Shit. Bugger. Senior moment.
MIKE Stop saying that. You’re not old.
JANET Blonde moment then.
MIKE You’re not really blonde either.
JANET Sorry Mike, I don’t know what came over me. That was bloody silly.
MIKE Doesn’t matter. Have a great night.
JANET Will do.
Janet feels terrible. Something’s happening to her mind.
INT. RESTAURANT. DAY
David is pontificating to an uncomfortable looking Mike.
DAVID And she’s about twenty-five, twenty-six years old, and she’s telling me she’s listened to my show ever since she was a little girl, I mean crikey-dick, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, in fact I probably do. Now I’m telling you this because - public figure to public figure, you’ll understand the constant interest, the need of the starstruck fan. There’s only so many times you can say no. Anyway, one thing led to another, and I used my line, you know my line right?
DAVID I say ‘what are you up to for the next couple of hours’ and I mean, in between building a rapport with them for years on air and having this line - it almost feels like rape.
Mike doesn’t know where this is going…
DAVID It’s not - don’t get me wrong - they couldn’t be more consenting, but from the minute you start talking to them, you know they’re effectively powerless, you know you’re in complete control of how it’s going to end. In fact I basically have a room on reserve at Millie’s you know the place?
DAVID Classiest hotel in town, boutique. I call ahead from the taxi, blue suite - always get the blue if you can, by the way, the red has a very strange layout, so as usual one thing’s leading to another and before you know it we’re in the room, her panties are around her ankles and she's trying to stuff me inside her - a fucking marshmallow in a coinslot - no offence to myself, it was just so fast, and I say ‘sweetheart, hold up. Let’s take our time, maybe kiss a bit, maybe you could give it a little suck’ and you know what she says?
DAVID ‘No way’ get this, ‘penises are way too ugly.’
David pauses for a reaction he doesn’t get from Mike.
DAVID Mike. She's prepared to go to a hotel with someone more than twice her age, for all intents and purposes a complete stranger, fuck him, but not put his cock in her mouth. Is that not strange to you?
Mike doesn’t know.
DAVID When I was your age, completely different story, they’d suck you, tug you, but no sex, hardly ever, and this was the seventies, which means that in New Zealand it was the fifties, you know?
DAVID Mike. I have to pause here and take note of this. You invite me for lunch, which you never do, under the auspices of ‘having a chat’ no less, yet ten minutes in I’m the one sitting here yacking, while you punctuate my monologue with the occasional shrug. Is that an unfair analysis?
Mike doesn’t know.
DAVID State your business, why are we here?
MIKE Mr. Oldman.
DAVID David, for fuck’s sake.
MIKE Mr. Oldman I’ve asked you here today because I want to ask for your daughter’s hand in marriage.
DAVID Fuck off.
MIKE Is that... a no?
DAVID What year is this? I mean, are you crazy?
MIKE I love Sophie very much and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.
DAVID Your funeral. What’s it got to do with me?
MIKE You’re her father.
DAVID If you are at all familiar with my daughter, then you will know she doesn’t like me. She doesn’t communicate with me. In fact, I am convinced that she is ambivalent as to whether I am living or dead.
MIKE That’s not - (true)
DAVID Don’t interrupt me. You’ve said what you’ve got to say, now it’s my turn. Do you know that the most my daughter has ever needed me, the closest we have ever been was when I was losing all my money and all my hair trying to keep her out of jail, which is where she would be right now if not for my efforts make no mistake. Now that she’s straightened out, now that she’s met a wonderful guy like you, I’ve been demoted to the piece of shit who fucked up her life and caused her mother to kill herself. That’s what she thinks of me. So one: it is socially awkward of you to discuss my daughter with me as if I still have a shred of influence over her life, and two: if she were ever to discover that I had given you my ‘permission’ to marry her, then there is no doubt in my mind that she would reject your proposal in keeping with her unshakable determination to do the exact opposite anything I do or say. So, you know what you’re doing here? With this little tete-a-tete?
DAVID You’re making fools of us both.
MIKE I’m trying to do the right thing.
DAVID No you’re not. You’re thinking of getting married. To marry is to magnify each other’s weaknesses and come to loathe another person in a way you could never imagine yourself to be capable. Now, I’m furious. It takes a lot to make me lose my temper, crikey dick.
MIKE I’ll pick up the cheque.
DAVID No. You won’t.
To unseen waiter.
DAVID My tab. He doesn’t pay.
MIKE Please, David.
DAVID At least give me that. At least allow me the one thing that still makes me feel like a man.
MIKE OK. Thank you. Do you want to split a cab anywhere?
DAVID No, I’m meeting someone else in about ten minutes. This place is like my God damned office. Jeepers creepers.
MIKE OK. Well. Good to see you David.
DAVID (to himself) Marry? Christ. Smoke, drink, speed, root, but marry-- (angrily to the distant waiter) I didn’t come here to stare at an empty glass.
Next time: Mike makes Sophie a proposal. Tia catches up with her old friends to celebrate selling her photo of Tama - which him serious trouble IRL.