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What is a stalker? And what kind of life can a woman lead when she knows she is being followed, obsessively and perhaps dangerously, by one? This is the dilemma facing Theresa Bedell, a reporter in New York, in Rebecca Gilman's tensely fascinating new play. When Theresa goes on an awkward blind date with a friend of a friend, she sees no reason to continue the relationship--but the man, an attractive fellow named Tony, thinks otherwise. While Theresa is at first annoyed yet flattered by his continuing attention, her attitude gradually changes to one of fear and fury when he starts violently to menace her and those around her. In brilliantly delineating the kind of terror a woman in full control of her life feels when everything around her suddenly seems to be a threat, Gilman probes the dark side of relationships in the 1990s with the rich insight and compelling characterizations that have distinguished her earlier plays and made her one of the most exciting young playwrights working today. Rebecca Gilman, one of the finest young playwrights now at work in America, has been awarded several major prizes for her work. These include the American Theater Critics Association's Osborn Award, the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the George Devine Award, theEvening StandardAward for Most Promising Playwright, the Scott McPherson Award, and an Illinois Arts Council playwrighting fellowship. A native of Alabama, Gilman lives in Chicago. What is a stalker? And what kind of life can a woman lead when she knows she is being followed, obsessively and perhaps dangerously? This is the dilemma facing Theresa Bedell, a reporter in New York who goes on an awkward blind date with a friend of a friend. She sees no reason to continue the relationshipbut the man, an attractive fellow named Tony, thinks otherwise. While Theresa is at first annoyed yet flattered by his continuing attention, her attitude gradually changes to one of fear and fury when he starts violently to menace her and those around her. Boy Gets Girlbrilliantly delineates the kind of terror a woman in full control of her life feels when everything around her suddenly seems to be a threat. Indeed, Gilman probes the dark side of relationships in the 1990s with the rich insight and compelling characterizations that have distinguished her earlier plays and made her one of the most exciting young playwrights working today. "One of the finest, most disturbing American plays in years."Richard Zoglin,Time "[A] provocative, unsettling play, further proof of Gilman's ability to shake up a theater audience with the power of her ideasand words."Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
Rebecca Gilman is also the author of the play The Glory of Living, which received the 1998 American Theater Critics Association's Osborn Award. She is the recipient of the Roger L. Stevens Award from the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, the George Devine Award, the Evening Standard Award for Most Promising Playwright, the Scott McPherson Award, and an Illinois Arts Council playwrighting fellowship. A native of Alabama, Ms. Gilman lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Table of Contents
"One of the finest, most disturbing American plays in years." --Richard Zoglin, Time
"[A] provocative, unsettling play, further proof of Gilman's ability to shake up a theater audience with the power of her ideas--and words." --Richard Christiansen, Chicago Tribune
Boy Gets Girl
A table in a bar, two chairs. TONYsits alone, a little nervous, waiting for someone. He is an attractive man in his thirties. He is drinking a beer. THERESAenters, a bit hesitant. She carries a big bag, looks a little flustered. They stare at each other for a second.
TONYTheresa?(They laugh awkwardly.)Hi.(He rises,offers his hand, she shakes it.)
THERESAI'm sorry I'm late.
THERESANo, I just ... I didn't want you to be sitting here thinking I wasn't going to come. I mean, I wouldn't do that. I tried to call but I can't get my phone to work. They gave me this new phone ...(She pulls a cellular phone out of her bag.)And I don't know. The display thing comes on but then I can't get a dial tone.(She pushes a button,listens, holds it out toTONY.) Do you know anything about these?
THERESAI don't think so. Just an, you know, an ale or something.(He starts off.)Let me give you some money.
TONYNo, you can get the next one. Okay?
THERESAOkay.(He exits. She sits. The phone rings. She quickly answers it.)What? ... Oh, hey. Don't call me on the phone ...(She looks to whereTONYexited.) I lied, I said it was broken and I couldn't call. I was late.(Beat.)Well, I was thinking I wouldn't come. I was just sort of walking around.(Beat.)Look, I came, I'm here, so don't, you know, get all ... whatever.(Beat.)He's fine, I guess. I've been here two minutes.(Beat.)I've been here two minutes and I don't know. All right?(Beat.)Okay, you know what? I'm hanging up now.(Beat.)I'll call you tonight.(Beat.)I'm pretty sure I'll be home in time to call you.(Beat.)No, he's fine. I'm not saying that. (TONYenters with a beer, gives her a slightly puzzled look. She's been watching, knows he's coming. She makes a motion to him for one more second.)I'm going now. Goodbye. (Moving the phone away) Goodbye. (She looks for a button, hangs up. ToTONY) That was Linda.
THERESA(Looking at the phone) I guess people can call in, but I can't call out.
TONYWhat did she want?
THERESAShe wanted to know how it was going.
TONYYou just got here.
THERESAThat's what I told her.
TONYOh.(Small beat.)I got you an India Pale Ale. Is that okay?
THERESAThat's great, thanks. It used to be a lot easier when everybody just drank Miller High Life.
TONYI never had Miller High Life.
THERESAWell, if you had been living the high life you would have.(Beat.) I mean, it's the champagne of beers.
TONYMaybe I should try it.
THERESANo. I'm sorry. You know, I have kind of a dumb sense of humor. I'm usually not serious when I say stupid things like that.
THERESAI mean, it's obviously not very funny either, so don't feel bad.
TONYNo, I mean ... I'm sorry, too. I guess I'm a little nervous.
TONYOh, good. I mean, not good you're nervous, but good I'm not alone.
TONYI've never actually been on a blind date before.
THERESATons. Nobody who actually knows me will go out with me.(Beat.)That was a joke.
THERESAI'll just stop trying. No, actually, I had a blind date in high school once, when I was a junior. I was supposed to meet this guy from another school at a party and when I did, he asked me if I wanted to go out to his van and "fool around" and I said I had to go to the bathroom and left with some friends.(Beat.)I guess I probably shouldn't tell you that, on your first blind date, how I just ditched some guy.
TONYI think it's good you ditched him. I mean, anybody with a van.
THERESA(Smiles.)Exactly. What'd you drive in high school?
TONYA Dodge Dart.
THERESACool. I drove a Chrysler Cordoba.
TONYWith fine Corinthian leather.
TONYSo you know Linda from work?
THERESAI do. Before she quit to go off and have babies and everything, she was my research assistant.
TONYYou know, I have to make a confession: I've never read your magazine.
THERESAWell, first of all, it's not my magazine, and second of all, don't worry about it.
TONYWhat sort of stuff do you write?
THERESAAll sorts, really.
TONYDo you get to pick? I mean, what you write about?
THERESAUsually. A couple of weeks ago I did a story about Edith Wharton's upstate estate.(Small beat.)That was kind of hard to say. Upstate estate.
TONYI don't ... I don't know who she is.
THERESAOh, she's a writer. She's dead, first of all. But she was a New York writer from the turn of the century.
TONYIs she really famous?
THERESAI guess her most famous book isAge of Innocence?
TONYOh, with Winona Ryder?
THERESAExactly. So, that was interesting. But then, I do get assignments still and it's usually something annoying. Like, on Thursday, I have to go interview Les Kennkat.
THERESAI think "film" is a generous term.
TONYI thought he was dead.
THERESASo did I, actually.(They laugh.)So you met Linda through her sister?
TONYRight. I met Sarah at Michigan.
TONYAnd when I moved here, you know, I looked up everybody I even vaguely knew because I was terrified--this is the first big city I ever lived in--
THERESAWhere are you from?
THERESAThe home of Eugene Debs.
THERESAAnd Theodore Dreiser and Paul Dresser.
TONYI guess so.
THERESAOn the banks of the Wabash.
TONYIt is. Have you been there?
TONYOh. Well, anyway, I looked up Sarah, and then, my first Thanksgiving here, she took pity on me and took me along to Linda's for turkey. Then, I guess you know, Sarah moved to Boston last spring. But that's how I met Linda. But I have to be honest, I don't know Linda well. I mean, I hardly ever see her.
THERESAI don't know her well either and I see her all the time.
TONYOh. Is she ... I mean, do you not get along?
THERESANo, we get along fine. She just ... she's certain she knows how I should live my life and she's always telling me what to do next.
TONYLike, maybe, go on a date with me.
THERESALike, maybe that, but that's okay.
THERESAHow long have you lived here?
THERESADo you like it?
TONYI do now. I really hated it at first. I just thought everybody was so mean and it's so dirty here.
TONYBut after a while it started to grow on me, and now, I mean, this might sound weird, but part of what I like about it now is how big it is. I like being able to just blend in. There are so many people, I just feel anonymous. I don't know what that says about me ...
THERESAI agree. I think it makes you a little less selfinvolved.
THERESASo what do you do?
TONYI do computer work. I work for KCS, and what they do is, they go into a business and design software specifically for the business, and then I go in and train people how to use it.
THERESADo you like it?
TONYI like the work itself, but the thing I don't like is that I move around to a new site every two or three months, so I never really get to know anybody I'm working with. Or even if I do, it's sort of like, what's the point because I'm never going to see them again.
TONY(Beat.)But anyway, I don't want to ramble.
THERESAYou're not rambling.
TONYI know we only agreed to have a beer tonight ...
TONYSo if you need to go, or whatever, I understand ...
THERESAOh. Do you want me to go?
TONYNo, no. I was actually going to ask you before you went ...I mean, not to be too forward or anything, but I thought I'd just go ahead and ask if you'd like to do something this weekend?
THERESAJust to get it on the table.
TONYYeah, just to get it on the table.
THERESAYeah. You know? I would like that.
TONYGreat. We could have dinner maybe.
THERESAI can't do anything Friday night because I have to cover this benefit thing, but I'm free on Saturday.
TONYSaturday would be great. What's the benefit?
THERESASome MoMA thing to get some MoMA thing going so MoMA people can give money to MoMA.
TONYYou don't like MoMA?
THERESAOh, sure, of course. I just don't like being around rich people. Have you ever noticed how rich people eat a lot when there's free food? Then poor people like me go hungry because we can't get to the buffet?
TONYYou could stand to eat more, too.
THERESAOh. Thank you, I guess.
TONYYou're really thin.
THERESASo what do you do when you're not working?
TONYWell, I run every day, and I like to do all the usual stuff, you know. Go to movies and read and watch TV and all that. Go for long walks.(Small beat.)That was a joke.
TONYYeah. You know how, in the personals, everybody says they like to go for long walks. I always figured, if all those desperate single people really went for those long walks, eventually, wouldn't they run into each other?
THERESAEventually, wouldn't they all find each other in the park?
THERESADo you like baseball?
TONYI'm not a big sports guy. I still follow Michigan football.
THERESADon't they have the largest college stadium in the country?
TONYI don't know. Do you like baseball?
TONYYankees or Mets?
TONYThe only women I ever knew who liked sports liked them just because their boyfriends did.
TONYDid you have a boyfriend who was a big Yankees fan or something?
TONYMy dad was a huge Cardinals fan.
TONYYeah, well, any kind of sports, really, he was just a fanatic. Which is where, I guess, the word "fan" comes from, obviously. He was always pushing me to play football, when I was in high school, and I really didn't want to, but my mom talked me into it, because she said ... well, her reasoning was that we didn't get along, my dad and me, because we didn't have much in common, so this way we would have some sort of connection. But I was really terrible at it, I'm sure in large part because I hated it so much, and so all it really did was give him another excuse to make fun of me. And then, you know, I just felt completely betrayed by my mother.
TONYOh. Well ...(Suddenly very self-conscious. Making ajoke of it)"And that's why I'm so fucked up today." (THERESAlaughs.) I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get into all that.
THERESAI won't ever mention the Yankees around you again.
TONYNo, no. Not that. Maybe you could take me to see a Yankees game sometime and I could learn to love them, too.
TONYWhen does baseball season end?
THERESAAt the end of September if they don't make the play-offs.
THERESABut they will.
TONYWell, maybe we could go see them now.
THERESAWell, first of all, they're out of town for a while, and second of all, let's not move that fast.
TONYOh. I'm sorry.
THERESAIt's okay, I just ... you know.
TONYRight. (Beat.) So tell me, what's your favorite story? That you ever wrote?
THERESABoy, that's a hard one. I don't really have a favorite.
TONYDid you study journalism in college?
THERESAI was a history major in college, but I wrote for the school paper, and then I went to graduate school in journalism at Indiana Bloomington.
TONYOh! I think Linda mentioned that, but I forgot. So you were in Bloomington.
THERESAIt was ... twelve ... fifteen years ago.
TONYThen I was actually ... I was just starting at Michigan then.
THERESAOh, man, I'm older than you.
TONYYou're robbing the cradle.
TONYI had a guy tell me once that men who go out with older women really want to have sex with their mothers. But I don't think that's true. Do you think that's true?
THERESAI wouldn't know. But I think I'm only about three years older than you are, so ...(Beat.)Was that ... ? Was that a joke?
THERESAGood, because you scared me there for a second.
TONYSee? I, too, have a dry sense of humor.
THERESAI do see. You might actually outdo me, drynesswise.
TONYI think we have a lot in common.
THERESAWell, we'll find that out, won't we?
TONY We will.(Pause. THERESAfinishes her beer.)Do you want another one?
THERESAUm, actually, I do have some work I need to do tonight. I've got a deadline tomorrow. And I was just ... I was just planning on the one beer actually. So I think I'll go.
TONYBut we're still on for Saturday?
TONYCan I walk you home, or ... ?
THERESAI think I'm just going to grab a cab.
TONYWhere do you live?
THERESAUpper East Side. It's, you know, dull but quiet.
THERESAUm ... Seventy-fourth.
TONYNear the park?
THERESANear the park, yeah.
TONYI live down on Perry. Do you know where that is?
THERESAI do. Nice neighborhood.
TONYI like it. There are a lot of nice bars and restaurants. Little shops and stuff. There's one place down there called Allison's? (THERESAshakes her head.) It's just a little place but they have really good food and it's not too expensive. I go in there enough, they sort of know me there.
TONYMaybe we could go there Saturday night.
THERESASure. That'd be great.
TONYI'll call you, then, later this week, and we can set up a time.
TONYMaybe Thursday or Friday, during the day. Can I call you at work? I mean, is that okay?
THERESAThat's fine. If I'm not there, just leave me a voice mail message.
TONYI don't know if I have your home phone number.
THERESAIf you don't get me at work, just leave a message and I'll call back.
TONYOkay.(Beat.)Well, it was very nice to meet you, Theresa.
THERESAIt was very nice to meet you.
TONYI'd say Linda did good.
THERESAYeah.(He makes a move as if to kiss her; she holds out her hand.)Thanks for the beer.