Fiction 2018 / Spring 2018 / Volume 48

Opening in Silence—Samantha Jankowski

Cast of Characters

PERSON A: Male/Female, hungry, chip-loving individual who does not have the u best sense of silence.

PERSON B: Male/Female, busy, easily annoyed individual searching for silence.

 

Place

A quiet room (a library, a waiting room, etc.)

Time

Present

Opening in Silence

(PERSON B is sitting at a desk/table working very studiously. They don’t necessarily have to be doing homework, but they need to look busy. There’s no one else on stage.)

(After a brief moment, we hear some clanking backstage before a clumsy PERSON A comes on stage. He/she has a bag [could be a purse, backpack, whatever fits the set] and a bag of chips. PERSON A sits somewhere near PERSON B but not necessarily right next to them. There’s quite a bit of commotion as PERSON A sets down their things. PERSON A gets everything perfectly organized.)

(A moment of brief silence.)

(PERSON A then reaches over to grab their bag of chips. Suddenly, they realize just how quiet it is, and how ungodly loud the plastic wrapping of the chip bag is. They gaze over at PRESON B, see how hard they’re working and decide to try and be sneaky about the chips. Silently stealthy.)

(PERSON A tries to wrap their arms around the bag, tries to stuff it under their shirt, then decides to just leave it on the the table. They take two of their fingers on both hands and carefully try to pinch the middle of the bag at an extremely slow pace. Almost as if they were in a slow motion matrix movie.They try to pinch open the bag, but only end up creating more noise with their dramatic movements. They stop.)

(After a moment, PERSON A tries to carefully tear the edge of the bag [as one would with a package of fruit snacks.] This obviously doesn’t work either and just continues to create more noise. PERSON B, throughout the entirety of this, is getting progressively more annoyed but is continuing with their work, which is getting harder and harder for them to do.)

(PERSON A decides to reach into their bag to find something to open the chips with. Unfortunately, after dumping, digging, and searching through every possible item in their bag, PERSON A is only able to come up with a pen. They click the pen, and strategically plan where to stab the bag. Then, once they have decided, they thrust the pen into the bag as though it were a sword into a man’s chest.)

(A super awkward silence.)

1

(PERSON B turns away in disgust while PERSON A looks down at the still unopened bag of chips in shame. They put the pen down, cautiously pick up the bag in-between two fingers and walk off stage with it in hand. Just before they make it off the stage, they end up dropping it, and have to sheepishly pick up the bag while PERSON B murders them with their eyes. Once completely off the stage, there is another moment of silence. Then, in one swift, loud motion, the sound of the bag opening can be heard.)

(PERSON A walks back onto the stage, looking rather cheerful with their opened bag of chips. They sit back down, place the bag on the table and stuff their hand into the bag. As soon as their hand reaches the plastic, they realize that the dangerous noisemaker is still in action. They retract their hand, deciding on a new tactic. They decide to crunch the hand up into a small, slim figure [sort of like a mushed hand puppet] and angle it into the bag. They manage to grab a chip and pull it out of the bag with little/no noise. Thinking that they’re in the clear, they carelessly plop the chip into their mouth and make an outrageously loud crunch.)

(Another moment of intense silence.)

(PERSON B is beyond annoyed at this point and can hardly even work anymore. PERSON A looks incredibly anxious and tries to do that awkward thing where you barely move your mouth while you chew. Still being heard, they try to suck on the chip, but instead of making the chip quieter, they accidentally get a bit caught in their throat. This causes them to cough and/or choke a little bit. After a few moments, they clear their throat and stare straight ahead trying to pretend that didn’t just happen. They glance down at the bag of chips, then back up. Down, up. Down…up. They finally crunch their hand back down again, about to slide their hand back into the bag when PERSON B lets out a dramatic sigh of exasperation.)

(PERSON A freezes their hand and gives a nervous look out to the audience. They bow their head slightly and drop their hand down to their side.)

(A brief moment of pure silence.)

(PERSON A attempts to ignore the chips and just sit still, but PERSON A’s relentless fidgeting causes the bag of chips to get knocked on the floor. PERSON A tries to quickly pick it up but PERSON B has already given up. They may slam a book shut, pound a fist on the table, etc. They gather all their things, and huff off the stage, but not before giving a nasty glare at PERSON A.)

2

(A short pause while PERSON A lets it all sink in.)

(PERSON A smiles and grabs another chip, happily crunching away.)

3

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