Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jake Berry: Shades of Havel & Kafka

Screenplay: THE INFORMATION by Jake Berry 11.24.08

Characters: Two women, in their 30s or 40s.

Two women stand in a room before a large window. We see them at first whole body from behind, but quickly zooming into shots above the waist, sometimes only their heads are in frame. We never see them from the front and we never see either face entirely. The camera moves and zooms throughout the play, but the most we see of a face is a profile. On the other side of the window is a scene rich in moving color. Perhaps a house or other large structure on fire or some other scene of destruction that generates violent bursts of color. They might also be standing before a large video screen upon which is a violently colorful scene is developing. Alternatively, the other side of the widow could be colorful and active but peaceful, such as the wind blowing trees and leaves on a autumn day.


One of the women is standing before the window looking out. We move in closer. For a few seconds she is alone, passively observing, long enough for us to study the scene, notice the details and feel ourselves waiting for something to happen. The second woman arrives, steps into frame and assumes a posture similar to the first. The first woman does not turn to look at her. They stand together silently, passive before the window. After a few seconds:

First Woman (speaking forward toward the window): Did you see him?

Second Woman (also speaking toward the window): Yes. Well, what I mean is, I did see him, but I seem to be having trouble…

FW: Remembering him. Remembering his face.

SW: Yes. Exactly. We spoke for several moments face to face. I remember noticing things about his appearance, but all I remember clearly now is the conversation.

FW: Can you remember any impression his appearance made on you?

SW: Vaguely. He seemed tired, older than before, as if he had aged years in a matter of days. (speaking more to herself): Why can't I remember his face?

FW: Do you remember what he was wearing?

SW: No, but I remember the condition of his clothes. They were worn almost threadbare and wrinkled as if he had slept in them. They agreed with my general impression of his condition.

FW: What about his voice? Do you remember anything distinctly about it?

SW: Yes. It was strong and clear, but with something new, a bit of an edge, slightly raspy. He coughed a few times while we were talking. He apologized each time.

FW: But he still spoke with same sense of authority?

SW: Oh absolutely. Nothing has changed.

FW: That was what I expected. He sounds more or less in the same condition as when I saw him.

SW: When was that?

FW: A few days ago. Maybe a week.

SW: Do you remember his face or how he appeared?

FW: No more that what you remember. More like impressions than actually remembering.

SW: Confusing isn't it? Frustrating?

FW: It would have been at one time. You get used to it. You have to or else you'll go crazy. It's a miracle we remember anything at all. As many times as I've seen him and had long conversations with him - once we even kissed - I still cannot manage to bring his face or any other details to mind.

SW: That's the way of things now isn't it?

FW: Apparently.

SW: You say you kissed?

FW: It was nothing. A gesture of friendship. (She pauses, continues to look forward.) So what is the information?

SW: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you knew.

FW: How would I know? I haven't seen him in a week. Maybe longer.

SW: I thought maybe one of the others…

FW: No. None of them seem to know anything new. No one has seen him until today.

SW: That's peculiar. He spoke as if it was common knowledge.

FW: It might be to him. I've never been certain what his sources tell him or when.

SW: His sources, yes. Do you have any idea who they are?

FW: No. He speaks of them by name as if they are people we all know, but no one I've spoken to has any knowledge of any of them. For all I know he's imagining them as well as the circumstances under which he spoke to them. That would surprise me though. He's always been very reliable and he seems to be entirely convinced that he saw and spoke with them, as if they are regular companions. They pass familiarities, ask about one another's families, make jokes. I doubt it's all in his imagination.

SW: That's my impression as well. And he always seems completely at ease, even today when he seemed so fatigued.

FW: That concerns me though. I mean his appearance, the slight change in his voice, the coughing. It feels like something has gone wrong, as if conditions have deteriorated.

SW: But he remains calm.

FW: On the surface anyway. The information, was it bad? Was there any indication that circumstances have changed?

SW: No. He said we should continue with our work. He did mention that he expected the shops to be running sales and suggested it might be a good time to stock up on essential items in case the prices rise again later. He said we could expect the streets and shops to be a bit more crowded, but nothing like a panic.

FW: What about the other thing?

SW: The other thing?

FW: Yes, the weather device, with the holidays coming.

SW: He mentioned it in passing, but only to say it was operating efficiently. I don't think there's any reason to be concerned.

FW: Did you ask him about his appearance or his apparent fatigue?

SW: No, considering there was nothing unusual in his demeanor. He spoke in the same tone as always. And since there was no alarming information I assumed that whatever the reason for his appearance it was none of my business or he would have told me. Did you ask?

FW: No, and for the same reason.

SW: It does make one wonder though doesn't it?

FW: I try not to worry.

SW: That's best I suppose, so long as the information is reliable.

FW: Precisely.

The scene continues before them. They are completely passive before it, too lost in their thoughts to notice.

FW: So, will I see you here next week?

SW: Oh yes, of course. If you see him between now and then will you let me know or tell one of the others?

FW: Certainly. As soon as I know anything I'll pass word. I hope to see you in the shops.

SW: Not likely. I can't stand it. I let Jonathan do that.

FW: How is he?

SW: Fine, fine. The same.

FW: Tell him I said hello.

SW: I will.

Without ever looking directly at FW or saying goodbye, SW turns and walks away. FW continues staring forward absent-mindedly. She begins humming a tune in a low voice.


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