“Umbrella: A Play in One Act” — by Emilia Getzinger

September 11th, 2018

 

“Umbrella:   A Play in One Act,” by Emilia Getzinger, was a finalist in our recently concluded 48th Short Fiction Contest.  It is published with the permission of the author.

 

 

*

 

 

“Stony Hill Road,” by James C. Bongartz

 

Umbrella

A Play in One Act

by Emilia Getzinger

 

 

 

 __________

 

 

 

Baltimore, Maryland. 1960. DAVID, a white boy in his late teens, is standing in the rain under an umbrella, waiting for the morning school bus. There is a bench behind him. Enter CLARE, a black girl his age.

 

CLARE

It’s so cold.

 

Long pause. DAVID is uncomfortable.

 

CLARE

Would you mind sharing your umbrella?

 

DAVID doesn’t answer. After a while, he hands his umbrella to her.

 

CLARE

Oh no, I didn’t mean— we can share it.

 

DAVID

Just take it.

 

CLARE

Are you sure?

 

DAVID nods.

 

CLARE

Thanks. I’m Clare. (pause) You just moved here from Madison, right?

 

DAVID

(softly) Yeah.

 

CLARE

My cousin lives there. It’s such a nice city. What’s your name?

 

DAVID

Michael.

 

CLARE

Nice to finally meet you, Michael.

 

DAVID

When does the bus get here?

 

CLARE

(checking watch) Three minutes.

 

DAVID begins to walk away.

 

CLARE

Where are you going? Want your umbrella back?

 

DAVID

Keep it.

 

CLARE

(bringing him the umbrella) You can’t walk in this. Wait for the bus.

 

DAVID

(turning away from her) I’m good.

 

CLARE

School is five miles away.

 

DAVID

I can walk five miles.

 

CLARE

Just wait. You have to walk uphill to get to school.

 

DAVID

I’ll do that.

 

CLARE

But why not take the bus?

 

DAVID

Just—

 

The sound of a bus. DAVID hides behind the bench. After contemplating whether or not she should, CLARE joins him. The bus passes and they come out.

 

CLARE

Why’d you do that?

 

DAVID

I don’t know.

 

CLARE

You don’t wanna be seen with me.

 

DAVID

No! I just didn’t wanna get on that bus.

 

CLARE

You wanted to before I got here.

 

DAVID

I wanted—

 

CLARE

And now you’re stuck with me. Aren’t you? (begins walking)

 

DAVID

Where are you going?

 

CLARE

School.

 

DAVID

But it’s five miles!

 

CLARE

You were going to do it. (continues walking, almost offstage)

 

DAVID

Wait. (CLARE turns) Can I have my umbrella back?

 

CLARE

(going over to him) Take your stupid umbrella. (SHE hands it to him) Sorry it’s not sanitized.

 

DAVID

My umbrella isn’t stupid.

 

CLARE

It has a hole in it! Drops of water keep landing on my forehead. You could use it for Chinese water torture.

 

DAVID

If it’s so bad then why’d you use it?

 

CLARE

(indicates rain) Decoration.

 

Thunder sounds in the distance. CLARE turns away and starts walking to school. After a few steps, she faces DAVID again.

 

CLARE

Are you coming to school or not?

 

DAVID

Why do you care?

 

CLARE

I don’t. But if you get a cold from standing out in the rain, someone’ll find a way to blame me.

 

SHE begins to walk. DAVID runs up to her.

 

DAVID

I have an extra jacket in my backpack.

 

CLARE

And?

 

DAVID

It doesn’t have a hole in it. If you don’t want the umbrella that’s fine, but you can’t walk to school in just that.

 

CLARE

If you give me the jacket I’ll have to keep it. You wouldn’t want people knowing you shared it with a black girl.

 

DAVID

I…

 

CLARE

Thought so.

 

DAVID

I’m sorry.

 

CLARE

For what?

 

DAVID

Not wanting to be seen with you.

 

CLARE

A lot of people don’t. If they can help it, anyway.

 

DAVID

It’s not my fault. My dad’s the problem.

 

CLARE

Your dad?

 

DAVID

Yeah. He moved out of Madison since he thought the white schools, you know, were becoming too…

 

CLARE

Black? (DAVID nods) So he moved here? Baltimore, of all places? (laughing) Couldn’t’ve been more wrong.

 

DAVID

Yeah.

 

CLARE

So that’s why you didn’t take the bus with me?

 

DAVID

That’s why.

 

CLARE

Your dad was the driver.

 

DAVID

No—

 

CLARE

That’s so sweet. A dad who cares so much about his son that he’ll drive his bus—even a bus with black kids on it—just so he can take care of him on the way to school.

 

DAVID

My dad’s not the bus driver.

 

CLARE

Oh?

 

DAVID

He’s a lawyer.

 

CLARE

Really?

 

DAVID

Yeah. Harvard Law, class of ‘41.

 

CLARE

What kind of lawyer is he?

 

DAVID

General practice. But he’s trying to become a judge.

 

CLARE

He must know a lot about the decisions of the court system.

 

DAVID

Oh yeah.

 

CLARE

Like Brown v. Board of Ed.

 

DAVID

Well…just because the Supreme Court makes a decision, it doesn’t mean someone has to support it.

 

CLARE

I completely agree. I feel the same way when I read about Plessy v. Ferguson and Korematsu v. United States

 

DAVID

Alright, I get it.

 

CLARE

Get what?

 

DAVID

You’re colored. You like laws that favor colored people.

 

CLARE

I like laws that favor people.

 

DAVID

Even at the expense of the country?

 

CLARE

If a law threatens national security, it doesn’t favor people. The people make up the country.

 

DAVID

Then why are you against the Korematsu v. United States decision?

 

CLARE

Your last name is Müller. Aren’t you German?

 

DAVID

How do you know my last name?

 

CLARE

They put German-Americans into internment camps during World War II. They were prohibited from certain areas. Some were deported. Discrimination in the name of “enemy ancestry.” But you knew that, didn’t you?

 

DAVID

No, actually.

 

CLARE

Well, now you do.

 

DAVID

(pause) Who told you what my last name was?

 

CLARE

My dad’s a lawyer. He works with your dad.

 

DAVID

So the bus driver thing…you were faking this whole time.

 

CLARE

No offense, but you’re pretty stupid for a lawyer’s son.

 

DAVID

I realized that awhile ago.

 

CLARE

Maybe you should open up a book once in a while instead of worrying what other people think.

 

DAVID

Why don’t you worry about what people think?

 

CLARE

I have too many other things to worry about.

 

DAVID

Like what?

 

Lightning strikes in the distance.

 

CLARE

Lightning.

 

DAVID

We should probably go to school then.

 

CLARE

Yeah. You need it, David.

 

DAVID

How did you know my name was David?

 

CLARE

Your dad talks about you at work.

 

DAVID

He does?

 

CLARE

Yup. And my dad tells me everything.

 

DAVID

So why’d you ask for my name?

 

CLARE

I forgot what it was. Didn’t remember until we were behind the bench. Then it hit me—and so did the water from the bus, by the way.

 

DAVID

(pause) I’m sorry for being embarrassed about you.

 

CLARE

I’m sorry for calling your umbrella stupid.

 

DAVID

It’s okay, it kinda is.

 

CLARE

And I’m sorry for calling you stupid, too.

 

DAVID

I’m used to it.

 

CLARE

Really? But you’re not stupid. You’re just a little ignorant, same as everyone else.

 

DAVID

You mean that?

 

CLARE

Why would I lie?

 

DAVID

You lied about the bus situation.

 

CLARE

So did you.

 

DAVID

That’s fair. (to himself) What am I doing? Oh! (taking out the jacket and handing it to her) It’s warm.

 

CLARE

Thanks. (puts it on) Have your umbrella?

 

DAVID

We can share it.

 

CLARE

Only if you take the Chinese water torture side.

 

THEY both stand under the umbrella and exit.

 

_____

 

Emilia Getzinger is a playwright, fiction author, and actor. “Umbrella” is her first publication. Acting credits include Grease (Dance Ensemble); Twelfth Night (Valentine); A Tale of Woe, the story of Juliet and Romeo(immersive production based on Sleep No More—Montague Dancer); The Merry Wives of Windsor (Beth, Friend of Anne Page); Fiddler on the Roof (featured ensemble); Hamlet (Gravedigger); Oklahoma!; and Julius Caesar (Ligarius). Backstage credits include Newsies (Assistant Stage Manager); Legally Blonde(Light Board Operator); A Christmas Carol (Assistant to the Director); Joseph… (scenic painter); and Willy Wonka (scenic carpenter). 

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 19 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Branford Marsalis, Joe Martin, Scott Robinson, Allison Au and Warren Vache

Poetry

In a special collection of poetry, eight poets contribute seventeen poems focused on stories about family, and honoring mothers and fathers

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob Hecht presents three very different stories; on Harlem Stride piano, Billy Strayhorn's end-of-life composition "Blood Count," and "Lester-ese," Lester Young’s creative verbal wit and wordplay.

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Homer Plessy” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #127

Before his tragic early death, this trumpeter played with Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, and John Coltrane, and most famously during a 1961 Five Spot gig with Eric Dolphy (pictured). Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

Michael Cuscuna, the legendary record producer and founder of Mosaic Records, is interviewed about his life in jazz...Award-winning photographer Carol Friedman, on her career in the world of New York jazz photography

In the previous issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive