In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • From New Life
  • Dan O'Brien (bio)

Two actors play all the roles here: ideally an actor around 40 to play Dan most of the time, and an actor almost 60 to mostly play Paul. The younger of these two actors has the first line of the play, and with each new character-heading the actors alternate. In the right-hand column of the script are suggestions of photographs, maps, moving images, etc., to be projected somewhere prominent onstage; as well as suggestions for sound. The play is set in Vancouver, Santa Monica, Syria, Hollywood, during the annus horribilis of 2016, with an epilogue after.

1: Previously On

DAN: Why do I write you? Why do you write back to me? Two voices in the dark.
PAUL: How can you believe we're the same, Dan? when everything's been going your way, relatively.
DAN: Why are we friends then still, Paul?
PAUL: You won't leave me in peace, and I don't deserve to be. The sound of helicopters far off.
DAN: —The soldier's legs dangled from the doorsill. The belly of the bird was charcoal—
PAUL: When a shoulder-launched grenade mangles the gearbox, screwing the Black Hawk down into Mogadishu. Paul Watson's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph.
DAN: That's the shot that won you the Pulitzer.
PAUL: Look at it at your leisure.
DAN: She's kicking him. Laughing. The noise of the mob.
PAUL: The world has found its frame.
DAN: And you're looking at yourself.
PAUL: And we are violating whatever made us human. Silence.
DAN: —When you hear a voice as clear as mine, clearer even, warning:
PAUL: If you do this I will own you forever.
DAN: Forgive me,
PAUL: just understand I don't want to do this.
DAN: No.
PAUL: We have to do this.
DAN: Yes. The photograph disappears for now.
PAUL: We have to do this until we don't.

[End Page 182]

2: Elsewhere in the Meantime

VOICE: Name and date of birth please? Still dark.
An explosion far off.
Slow dawn
PAUL: What do you say, my friend? All that's required is your passport and visa. And the airfare. To Kabul if Kandahar's too far. You can purchase your tickets online. Pick a window seat if you're like me, a voyeur. But steer clear of Afghan Air: holes in the fuselage can really harsh your buzz. Try to connect by way of Dubai instead of Lahore if you want to avoid getting kidnapped outside Duty Free. Ha ha ha.
DAN: Dear Paul, I'm in New York City interviewing a UN speechwriter in a café on Second Avenue. Due diligence for our upcoming trip. This speechwriter is an old friend of mine, an aspiring playwright, once.
SPEECHWRITER: If you put me in your play Dan, I hope you'll describe me as a man often mistaken for Daniel Craig. Or a Justin Theroux type maybe? Which one's your preference?
DAN: While the East River's snaking between buildings and over his shoulders like a boa constrictor, I flash back to 2001, breathing in the stench of flesh and bone as I jogged past Bellevue in that Indian summer dusk.
SPEECHWRITER: —Advice about Afghanistan?—Don't go! I mean, why would you?
DAN: Ha ha ha.
PAUL: The best hotels are colonial. Kevlar vests laid out like terrycloth robes, helmets like roses or chocolates on pillows. A cellar full of new wine. Where we'll hold court like David Nivens in our wicker chairs, decorative grasses between us, ceiling fans ticking like history. Interviewing Najib for our new play—You do want to write this, right Dan? Even though everybody knows sequels invariably suck. Except for Godfather II. The Empire Strikes Back. Oh and Through the Looking-Glass.
VOICE: What's your name, ma'am?
VOICE: Name and date of birth, ma'am? An explosion far off.
DAN: The breaking news, Paul, is my wife's got cancer. Breast cancer, not early stage, not late. You'll be okay, they tell us. One of the more treatable cancers. Nobody would sign up for this, of course. They say. We're...


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pp. 182-205
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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