“Phases” – A One Act Play

Chloe Selavka, Contributor

Chloe Selavka won a Silver Key for her dramatic script.

PHASES

A one scene, one act play

CAST OF CHARACTERS

CHELSEA: 14 years old, average looking, average acting. Nervous she will be found out. Has an irrational fear that people can hear her thoughts through the floor. Her heart and her mind are constantly fighting, and she doesn’t have much control over her mouth. 

MIND: Analytical, thinks through every choice with almost excruciating care. Hard set in her opinions, the leader of the group. Has unearned confidence and constantly denies the truth. Wants what is best for Chelsea but has a skewed view of what the word “best” really means. Careful. Cares about CHELSEA. 

HEART: Loud. Impulsive. Believes she should be in charge because she looks on the bright side of everything. Also wants what is best for CHELSEA, but has a very different view of what those needs are than MIND does. If it was up to her, everyone’s most true self would constantly be on display. Brave. Cares about CHELSEA. 

VOICE: Quiet and laid-back. Finds herself stuck between HEART and MIND often. Very humble and laid back for someone who holds all the power. Is not one to insert herself in an argument, but her silence does not mean apathy, she assesses every situation calmly with CHELSEA’s best interests at heart. Empathetic. Cares about CHELSEA. 

GIRL: 15 years old, pretty, thin, and unassuming. Means well, but does not think before she speaks. 

LOUDSPEAKER: Informative. Friendly. Scientific.

SETTING

Florida retirement home pool house in the spring. The front of the stage has blue light projected on it and the area in front of the stage is the pool. There are two tables with three chairs at each and a few lounge chairs. The pool is deserted, as it is nighttime, and there should be sounds of cicadas and crickets playing throughout the scene after the LOUDSPEAKER’s lines. Otherwise, it is silent. There is a swinging gate on stage right near the wings where CHELSEA and GIRL enter. There are steps leading to the “pool” on stage left.

ACT I, SCENE I

LOUDSPEAKER: There are – There are three defining pieces of personality in human beings. [lights up on MIND, HEART, and VOICE in small spot lights] First and foremost, is the- the brain [spotlight only on MIND]. Located in the skull, our brains are the decision making center of the body. They are responsible for every step we take, every choice we make, and every word we speak.The brain is, for lack of a better description, the CEO of our entire body. Ne-next is the heart. [light only on HEART] The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body, and keeping us alive. Contrary to popular belief, the heart is not the home of all romantic decisions. No emotion is created or caused here. The heart has no control over romantic relationships, friendships, or any other type of love. In fact, all control over deeply emotional, or mushy gushy, feelings, is actually located in the brain [lights up on MIND, who looks quite pleased with herself

HEART: This sounds pretty biased if I might- [lights down on HEART and MIND]

LOUDSPEAKER: And la- lastly, is the mouth [lights up on VOICE]. The mouth is the expressor of thoughts and feelings, the passage through which we communicate with other human beings. While some people may believe the mouth has a “mind of its own”, that mind is actually the same one we have already discussed.  [lights up on MIND, who looks quite pleased again

MIND: Well, what do you know? [lights down on MIND]

LOUDSPEAKER: The mouth is the great communicator, but all information passed through is run through the brain, no matter how much it may feel like we do not think before we speak sometimes. [lights down on VOICE] So, there it is. The three pieces of us that have control over who we are. The parts of us that make our decisions [lights up on MIND], keep us alive [lights up on HEART], and help us communicate with other people [lights up on VOICE]. I’ll see you kids next week for our lesson on puberty. Signing off this is- [lights up on full stage. CHELSEA and GIRL enter in bathing suits with towels and sit near the edge of the pool, occasionally dipping their toes in the water, or leaving a leg in and swinging it there. CHELSEA pulls out a deck of cards and they begin playing a game. Through this, the girls have a conversation that the audience can’t hear. There are cicadas heard in the background. CHELSEA is nervous. The card game continues through the scene]

HEART: [perched on a nearby table, watching] This sucks! [both VOICE and MIND are preoccupied. VOICE sits lazily in a chair at the table, and presses a button every time it is CHELSEA’s turn to respond in her conversation with GIRL. MIND sits at a computer at the other end of the table, typing feverishly.] I said, this sucks! [Neither MIND nor VOICE acknowledges HEART] Hello? [silence] Fine. [HEART rises and sits in between the two girls, facing the audience. For a second she just sits watching, but then she raises her hand to CHELSEA’s throat as if to take her pulse. There is a sound of a heartbeat thumping louder and faster. CHELSEA grows visibly uncomfortable and nervous]

MIND: Stop that! [HEART removes her hand and the sound stops. CHELSEA relaxes, just barely] She’s already nervous enough. Don’t give her an anxiety attack.

HEART: I’ll give her a heart attack if I need to. She needs to say something. [turning to VOICE] Let me say something.

VOICE: [continuing with her clicker] Don’t drag me into this.

HEART: Oh c’mon! It’s not even a full sentence I’m asking you to produce here.

MIND: Stop it. I get that you hold Chelsea’s literal life in your hands but I hold Chelsea’s social life in mine, which is arguably more important. She is not saying anything. 

HEART: Well, then when will she? We’ve put this off long enough.

MIND: She will say something when we have come to the conclusion that she is ready to say something. [CHELSEA and GIRL decide to stop playing the card game. GIRL gets up, takes off her towel and jumps in the pool. CHELSEA watches but does not join her. The heart beat sound returns but it is slow and soft, although it increases through the scene]. 

HEART: Ok. I have come to the conclusion she is ready to-

MIND: The COLLECTIVE conclusion she is ready to say something. 

HEART: [grumbling] Ok, Hannibal.

MIND: What did you just call me? [MIND finally turns away from the computer here. VOICE is still engulfed in CHELSEA and GIRL’s silent conversation]

HEART: Hannibal.

MIND: As in Hannibal Lec-

HEART: Precisely.

MIND: That’s interesting.

HEART: What’s so interesting about it?

MIND: I just think it’s funny that by looking out for Chelsea and how she feels, I’ve suddenly become a tyrant.

HEART: Like you know anything about Chelsea and how she feels.

MIND: I’m sorry? [the tension is rising at this point, as MIND has stood up and walked away from the computer and HEART is engulfed in the argument. This has a visual effect on CHELSEA as her face becomes twisted and she looks nervous. VOICE notices this and has become more intrigued by CHELSEA’s actions. CHELSEA and GIRL’s silent conversation has slowed, only small comments here and there].Out of everyone here I know the most about Chelsea and how she feels. You’re a glorified sewer pump-

HEART: What?!

MIND:Voice is a great communicator but it’s not like she’s capable of making these decisions by herself. [VOICE shows no reaction to this as she is occupied with CHELSEA. The two girls have now stopped talking as GIRL continues to swim. CHELSEA looks nervous and very much like she wants to say something.] I know what Chelsea needs.

HEART: If you really know what Chelsea needs you would let her say something. She’s trapped!

MIND: She is not trapped. She is confused. And I am helping her with that, we- she, needs time to figure it out. She can’t just say something before she knows. I mean what would she even say? What if we don’t say the right thing, what if she needs to take it back?

HEART: It’s her best friend, I’m sure she’ll understand. [The arguing has grown more intense and so has the heartbeat sound effect. VOICE has risen and walked closer to CHELSEA, who is showing the effects of her inner turmoil clearly

MIND: But why say something before we know?

HEART: [growing more frustrated]We know.

MIND: But what if we’re wrong?

HEART: I think at this point we would know if it was something Chelsea didn’t want. We’re not wrong. 

MIND: But what if we are?

HEART: You’re only saying that because you want to be wrong! [a beat of silence. MIND does not respond.] Why do you want to be wrong? If it’s who she is, why shouldn’t we let her be it? You’re making her keep it in and for what? Because it’s easier?

MIND: N-No!

VOICE: Guys. [she is staring intently at CHELSEA, who looks like she might cry. She’s going to say something. HEART and MIND ignore her].

HEART: You’ve always been so intent on proving that Chelsea isn’t who she is and because of that she has spent years feeling uncomfortable in her own skin. She doesn’t know how to act because her mind is telling her she can’t possibly be that way. She spends all her time telling herself it’s just a phase-

MIND: It really might just be a phase! We don’t know that what we’re- she’s feeling is permanent. We don’t know!

VOICE: Guys! [CHELSEA’s hands are shaking. The heartbeat is loud and fast]

HEART: [the argument is increasing in pace now, CHELSEA’s heartbeat is loud and strong] This isn’t a phase and you know it. This has been her entire life. 

VOICE: I think-

HEART: Why won’t you just let her be who she is? What is so hard about allowing Chelsea to be herself? Why won’t you just let her say it?

VOICE: I think I’m going to say something.

MIND: Because if I don’t let her say it then it’s not real! If she says it there’s no going back. If she says it, that’s who she is, outloud. There’s no take backs. [beat as HEART processes MIND’s words. She is incredulous as to why MIND cannot understand]

HEART: [softer now] Why would she want to take back who she is?

MIND: [yelling] Because it’s not right! Everyone says so! Everyone thinks so! Everyone else calls it a phase, so why can’t it just be a phase for her? [beat as HEART takes in her words. A soft look has come over HEART’s face]

HEART: It-it’s who she is.

VOICE: [loudly and bravely, very out of character for VOICE]I’m gonna do it! [this shakes HEART and MIND out of the argument. They look at VOICE]

HEART: Do what?

VOICE: Say something.

MIND: What?! [VOICE clicks the button and a bright light shines on CHELSEA, the heartbeat sound stops suddenly]

CHELSEA: You know, sometimes, I think I might be gay.

MIND: Why would you say that?

HEART AND VOICE: [waiting for GIRL’s response]SHH!

GIRL:[after a beat] Oh. Sometimes, I think that too. But really I think it’s just a phase. I wouldn’t worry about it. [GIRL goes back to swimming. HEART, VOICE, and MIND all stand stunned, looking at CHELSEA, who is disappointed. After a second, VOICE clicks the button]

CHELSEA: Oh. Ok. [CHELSEA spends a second swinging her feet in the pool again as MIND and VOICE slowly retreat to their spots. When MIND clicks on the computer, CHELSEA gets up and joins GIRL in the pool. The lights dim on the two girls].

HEART:[After a long pause] I thought…

MIND: I know what you thought. But clearly that’s not how it went. And now I have to do some major damage control. [Addressing both HEART and VOICE] Now, obviously we can’t go back and change what just happened. But can we all agree that saying something is something that we all need to have a group consensus on in the future? And that we won’t be doing it again any time soon? [silence] For Chelsea’s sake? 

VOICE: [after some thought, nodding, and leaning back in her chair, returning to pressing the button as CHELSEA and GIRL pick up a lighter silent conversation as they swim] Yeah.

MIND: Heart? [watching CHELSEA and GIRL swim, HEART nods, and something about her seems to crack. She has been broken].

HEART: [returning to her seat on top of the table] Yeah. Sure. 

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