February 24 & 25: CPR Quartet, Part One
Gardener, Plot C7, a young woman, late twenties, early thirties
Gardener, Plot C8, a young woman, late twenties, early thirties
Garden Coordinator, an older woman, desperate
Woman with Dog, early forties, posh
CPR Quartet, Part One: Railroad Gardens
A stretch of railroad track runs across the stage, as though a train could pass directly through the theatre. Behind it, the plants and pots and planks of a cheerful community garden.
The sounds of summer. Cars. Buzzing cicadas. The Gardener for Plot C7 and the Gardener for Plot C8 work behind the railroad tracks in the community garden.
C8: Taking out the rhubarb, huh?
C7: It’s about the only thing that’ll transplant in the heat. (Beat.) They picked a shitty time to pull this. The bushes, the trees, they’ll all die if we have to move them now.
C8: Well, they’re gonna die if they get bulldozed, too. So either way.
C7: Either way. (With a huff:) Guess you can’t expect a railroad to care about the harvest season and transplanting in their third quarter plans.
C8: I heard that they’re doing it now because of the election. They want to make the mayor look like a jerk.
C7: Yeah. I’ve heard that. And the one where they’re trying to bully the mayor into buying the land at real estate prices. Or into rezoning the land so they can sell it for real estate prices. Or that they have to run a train on the track before 2015 or they’ll lose the lease.
C8: Oh god, that one’s ridiculous. The tracks don’t go anywhere. And when you think what it’ll cost them to get them in shape again-
C7: Doesn’t matter. It’s just greed, anyway you slice it- and they’ll do it because we couldn’t make enough of a fuss.
C8: But there were the protests, and the petitions, and all that newspaper coverage.
C7: Yeah, but we didn’t make it cost them enough. You know there’s someone, somewhere with a formula. Outlay. Intake. Just for them. Just for this. We could have talk about community engagement and urban agriculture and bee corridors until the cows came home. We didn’t tip the calculation.
C8: How’s Lucinda doing?
C7: I caught her out here last night trying to dig up one of the heirloom bushes in the dark.
C8: Oh man.
C7: Twenty years she’s been here. Now they’re going to bulldoze it. What else is she supposed to do?
C8: I only just got in last year– didn’t even get a whole summer.
C7: I know– we had all these plans. We dug out all the day lilies last year– I was going to plant a tree.
C8: You know Darryl made a rap video?
C7: Oh god. No.
C8: Like a cover of some Kanye thing– “Fuck CPR!”. Lucinda freaked. She wanted him to put one of those disclaimers on it “The opinions represented in this video do not represent those of Hemlock Community Gardens.”
C7: I bet he just loved that.
C8: Darryl is gonna tie himself to a tree to try and save this place.
C7: Why is it that the only people willing to do that stuff are like 20 year-old guys who talk about “the man” and try to convince you that David Suzuki takes money from oil companies to “direct the machine of environmental outrage in less threatening directions”?
From offstage come the sounds of a scuffle, people arguing, headed towards them along the tracks. A woman with a wretched, wheezing dog appears, fleeing the garden coordinator.
Woman with Dog: Get away from me! Get away! You’re crazy!
Garden Coordinator: I see you every day on this path with your dog! Every day! And that- that is a $2,000.00 dog! Are you really going to tell me you won’t donate money to save this place you walk every day!
Woman with Dog: I’m not signing anything, and I don’t give money to crazy people!
Garden Coordinator: But you walk here every day! Every day you walk here, instead of on the streets! You look at our gardens, you let your goddamn dog piss on them! And now they’re going to come with bulldozers and industrial pesticides, and clear them away. Twenty years worth of work, of life— and they’re going to run trains! Huge, smelly, noisy trains– and then where will you walk your expensive dog?
Woman with Dog: (with a shrug:) Somewhere else.
Garden Coordinator: Well why don’t you go there now! If you can’t be bothered to help— why don’t you just go there now–
Woman with Dog: It’s a public thoroughfare.
The Garden Coordinator makes a strangled noise of frustration. She’s on the verge of physically attacking the Woman with the Dog. The Gardeners rush down to intervene.
C8: Lucinda! Lucinda, no!
C7: Come on. She isn’t worth it.
Woman with Dog: Oh? I’m not worth it? Like you, with your little scrub grass garden and Walmart yoga pants get to tell anyone what they’re worth.
There’s a beat. C7 really turns to look at the Woman with the Dog. The Woman with the Dog shifts uncomfortably.
C7: You think I don’t see you? You think I don’t know you in and out? With your clothes you pay too much for because you don’t know any better and your non-surgical Botox face? Spending your husband’s money- a parasite on a parasite- like some bacteria on a flea, clutching that wheezing snub-faced half-a-dog to convince yourself that there’s at least one thing on the planet as utterly useless as you?
For a moment, it seems as though the Woman with the dog wants to slap her.
Woman with Dog: Well aren’t you a sad, bitter little person.
C7: You know what. I think you better start walking that dog somewhere else. The railroad’s going to start using pesticides. You never know what might happen.
Woman with Dog: Did you just- (She gathers up her dog and hurries away. Over her shoulder:) I’m calling the police! I’m telling them what you said!
C7: Go ahead. We’re already trespassing!
Garden Coordinator: Her views don’t represent the views of Hemlock Community Garden!
They round on C7.
C8: God. Eloise. You can’t say stuff like that.
Garden Coordinator: You’ll alienate the public. And then where will we be?
Eloise looks at them both and sighs.
C7: Right here. Tied to the railroad tracks.
She goes back to working in the garden.