Read The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee Online

Authors: Daniel Karasik

Tags: #Outerspace, #family, #childhood, #juvenile, #student, #imagination

The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee

BOOK: The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee
5.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Also by Daniel Karasik:

The Crossing Guard & In Full Light

The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee
© Copyright 2013 by Daniel Karasik

Playwrights Canada Press

202-269 Richmond Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 1X1

phone 416.703.0013 •
[email protected]
•
www.playwrightscanada.com

No part of this book may be reproduced, downloaded, or used in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, except for excerpts in a review or by a licence from Access Copyright,
www.accesscopyright.ca
.

For professional or amateur production rights, please contact the publisher

Cover design by Brooke Banning

Book design by Blake Sproule

The Alegreya serif typeface used was designed by Juan Pablo del Peral. The typefaces is used under the SIL Open font license version 1.1.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Karasik, Daniel

   The remarkable flight of Marnie McPhee / Daniel Karasik.

A play.

Electronic monograph in multiple formats.

Issued also in print format.

ISBN 978-1-77091-127-7 (PDF).--ISBN 978-1-77091-128-4 (EPUB)

I. Title

PS8621.A6224R46 2013   C812'.6   C2012-907944-8

We acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC)—an agency of the Government of Ontario, which last year funded 1,681 individual artists and 1,125 organizations in 216 communities across Ontario for a total of $52.8 million—the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities.

For cousin Marni-without-an-e, who was nine years old at just the right time.

Shoot the Puck

After reading the first draft of The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee, I knew Daniel had captured something special. The play was busting at the seams with Marnie's voice and I was completely taken by it. The yearning these four characters felt for things they believed lost, forgotten, or unattainable was as palpable as Marnie's sometimes-aware, sometimes-unaware wit. The play was screaming to be shared with an audience.

I also had no idea how to do it. Carousel Players is, at its heart, a touring company. While we do present our work in theatres, 95% of our performances take place in school gyms. By going into schools, we reach all different kinds of children regardless of their backgrounds or socio-economic status. We perform ten times a week under varying acoustic and lighting conditions; our sets need to be assembled by four actors and the stage manager in fifty minutes or less and taken down in twenty. Realizing the bold and lyrical ending in The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee was going to be a real test of resourcefulness and imagination. Ultimately, I knew that a good creative team would sink its teeth into the challenge (and by the way, the designers, production team,, and touring cast really did rise to the occasion on this one), so I invited Daniel to one of the shows we had on the road. I wanted him to have a sense of the environment in which we perform our plays. What happened that day is something I still refer to in all of my work.

We were touring a hockey-themed play. At the climax, the protagonist is about to score a crucial goal, but he steps out of the action and tells us what is going through his head. That day, the actor took a short pause before speaking. Suddenly, two hundred eight-to-twelve-year-olds were screaming "Shoot the puck!" They had gotten ahead of him; the play had moved on. "Shoot the puck" is the phrase we now use whenever we suspect the audience may be getting ahead of us.

The beauty of Marnie is that the audience never has the chance to get ahead of its young hero. She bridges all of those thoughts and changes so quickly that we need to be on our toes to keep up with her. Her decisions and discoveries drive the action forward relentlessly, setting her up for that moment in space when she finally realizes that— Well, you will have to read the play to find out. But I will say that the truly remarkable thing Daniel has accomplished in his play is that, amid Marnie's breakneck pace, he affords us the time to listen to each other breathe. Those moments of filled silence in fluorescent-lit gyms are truly magical. There is more than one way to shoot the puck.

—Pablo Felices-Luna, Artistic Director, Carousel Players

The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee was first produced by Carousel Players on January 27, 2011, at the Sullivan Mahoney Courthouse Theatre in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. The creative team was:

Marnie: Sarah English

Mom: Andrea Scott

Dad: Graeme Somerville

Alan: Colin Doyle

Director: Pablo Felices-Luna

Set and costume design: Michael Greves

Lighting and sound design: Gavin Fearon

Stage manager: Kevin Olson

The play was subsequently produced as Marnie fliegt, translated into German by Barbara Christ and directed by Kerstin Kusch, at the Hans Otto Theater in Potsdam, Germany, as part of the theatre's 2012/2013 repertory season.

Characters

Marnie McPhee, would-be astronaut, nine

Mom, her mom

Dad, her dad

Alan, her brother

Notes

An ellipsis (…) appearing on its own or before a line of dialogue indicates a silent, momentary response to what has just been said or not said.

The reference to "Mississauga" in the play's last scene can be replaced with the name of an outlying suburb near you.

If/when the references to Hilary Duff, Tom Cruise, and Celine Dion become dated, they can be replaced with the names of more of-the-moment celebrities. Same goes for the allusion to Spider-Man 3. The joke built into the Celine Dion reference shouldn't be replaced by a substitute joke unless you're absolutely sure it's as funny as the original. If you lack this certainty, the line can and probably should be cut.

1

Early one Friday morning in the McPhee house…

MARNIE, in the basement, runs on, followed by MOM, DAD, and ALAN:

MOM

Because you're part of this family!

MARNIE

No no no, I don't believe it!

MOM

Well, it's true!

MARNIE

I don't believe it!

ALAN

What's the big deal, let her keep thinking she's a Martian, I wish I had such illusions.

MARNIE

I come from Mars!

DAD

Mars is a long way away.

MARNIE

I know! That's why I'm special! Because I come from Mars!

MOM

This is getting out of hand.

DAD

You come from your mother, actually, it's a matter of anatomy.

ALAN

Can we not go there, please?

MARNIE

I'm nothing like you people!

DAD

Maybe we should google Mars, you can see the difficulty in getting from there to here.

MARNIE

No no no!

MOM

Can we all sit down and talk about this?

MARNIE

I don't believe in sitting!

ALAN

For religious reasons, probably.

MOM

Marnie—

MARNIE

I DON'T WANT TO BE JUST LIKE YOU!

They freeze.

MARNIE turns to us, steps out.

Yikes.

The others drift off.

This is what I like to call a steeeeeeeky, steeeeeeeky situation.

Allow moi to explain.

Moi—that's French, because I'm Canadian—je swiss Marnie, Marnie McPhee, the free, with glee, that's me—I like words that rhyme because I'm a poet, professionally, like Dr. Seuss or Dr. Shakespeare, and not like an amateur poet, who doesn't know grammar, which is something I know, because I'm a professional—at least that's my plan, for when I grow up, which might happen.

But!

That's when—if—I'm older.

Right now, though, while I am le kid, I'm going crazy.

Apparently I'm part of my family. This is a problem because my family is so, so weird.

My mom runs around all day visiting my grandmother and buying groceries and she never ever sings, which is sad, because she could've become an opera singer—and almost did!—before deciding to become a boring mom instead.

My dad's an engineer (which doesn't mean he makes engines, which is what people think when they're three, but not anymore! because people get smarter) and all day long he's got his nose in a book, and he's always telling me about the time he almost became an astronaut, before deciding to become a boring dad instead.

And then there's Alan, who's my older brother, but only because we have the same parents; otherwise we're not related. Alan is a boy, so he's gross, but also he's in love with a grown-up woman, so he's really gross, and weird, and also gross. Alan is sixteen. The woman he's in love with, which makes him really extra gross, is twenty-one. He doesn't get that if they get old, which might happen, she'll be like 127 when he's twenty-two. And he's always whining about his gross stupid love, and he never wants to play Marnie Sits On Alan's Head (which is a really good game), because he'd rather mope and be a boring older brother instead!

Don't you see, don't you get it?! If I'm "part of this family" (quote unquote, Mom), if it's true, if I'm like all of them and not from Mars, that makes me weird too! It makes me dooooooomed: to grow up and be just like them, weird like them, unspecial like them.

And for so so so so long I thought they were perfect.

How could they let me down like this by not being perfect?

What can I do, what can I do?!

Maybe I'll run away, I'll be a "runaway," like in this book I read, Runaway, where this girl leaves her house and goes to live under a bridge with trolls who are evil but then nice, but then evil again, but then nice forever. That would be good.

But if I run away my parents will find me, and they'll be angry, or sad, probably some combination of angry and sad, angrad, sangry—and, more importantly, they'll find me and take me back home and my plan will be foiled.

Where can I go where nobody, not even somebody with X-ray vision, can possibly find me?

She sees one of her dad's old textbooks that lie scattered on the basement floor.

Wait a minute…

She goes to a textbook, flips it open, pages through it.

What if I…

She looks up at us in wonder.

What if I built a…

A…

A…

Yes!

Wooooooohooooooo!

She does a crazy dance of joy.

She notices the audience is still there, waiting.

Oh. You want to know what I'm talking about?

Well… maybe I'll tell you.

If you're nice.

2

Later that afternoon…

MARNIE

Okay! Everyone's back from work and school! Therefore, it's time to begin my mission!—which is… shhhhh, because it's a secret, sort of: in order to buy materials for my Really Big Escape Idea, I need to acquire millions of dollars!

Mom! Dad!

Calling offstage to DAD:

MOM

I'm going out to take dinner and groceries to my mother, call me if you want me to bring you back something to eat.

MARNIE

Mom.

MOM's distracted, getting ready to leave.

Mom. MOM! MOM!

MOM

Yes, Marnie, what is it.

MARNIE

So, I need to acquire millions of dollars, and I had this idea for how to acquire them, and I was wondering…

MOM

I don't have time right now, Marnie, your grandmother's waiting for me.

MARNIE

But I really want to learn how to sew!

Which she pronounces "sue."

MOM

It's pronounced "so."

MARNIE

Whatever.

MOM

I'll show you next week when I have a bit more time.

MARNIE

But no, but I need to learn now, for commercial reasons!

MOM

For what reasons?

MARNIE

Commercial reasons! Commercial. Like when you sell something: commercial. Also when you advertise for it on TV. Same word. For those reasons. I need to learn how to sew so I can sell my sewage and make millions of dollars!

MOM

I really don't think you need millions of dollars, Marnie. If you want to buy a snack from the vending machine at school I can give you a loonie—

MARNIE

Please, don't make me laugh! Ha. Ha. What I need to buy costs much more than a loonie. I need a million loonies!

MOM

What is this you've got your eye on?

MARNIE

Oh, nothing.

MOM

Your father and I can talk it over, and I believe somebody's got a birthday coming up pretty soon…

MARNIE

Three months?! That's like the distant future!

MOM

I hope it's not a horse. Your father and I can't afford a horse.

MARNIE

It's not a horse.

MOM

That includes ponies.

MARNIE

It's not a horse including ponies. It's a…

MOM

Yeah?

MARNIE

…it's a lot of scrap metal.

MOM

Hmm.

MARNIE

A lot of scrap metal. A lot.

MOM

A lot.

MARNIE

So much. This much.

MOM

I see. That is a lot.

MARNIE

I told you.

MOM

And what do you intend to do with that much scrap metal?

MARNIE

Oh, good question! Good question! But you don't have to worry about it, because I'm going to make the money myself. Through commercial sewage. What you make when you sew.

MOM

It's pronounced "so"!

MARNIE

I know! So I'm going to sew a lot of sewage.

MOM

We'll talk about this later.

MARNIE

Why not now?

MOM

Because your grandmother needs more toilet paper!

MARNIE

Why can't she go to the store?

MOM

Because she can't walk!

MARNIE

Sew what?

MOM

I don't have time for this right now, Marnie.

MARNIE

Why don't you sing anymore, Mom?

MOM

What?

MARNIE

…

MOM

I don't have time, Marnie. I just don't have time.

To us:

MARNIE

Okayyyyyy…

I'll just have to get my millions of dollars from another source! And this other source can provide me not just with millions of dollars but also with information!

Dad!

DAD

Right. Uh-huh. Yeah.

He's paging through a scrapbook of his glory days in aeronautics. Oblivious.

MARNIE

What are you reading?

DAD

Ancient history. This is me in astronaut school. And this is me beside the spaceship I was supposed to go up in. It was in the newspaper, see?

MARNIE

Anyway, Dad, what I wanted to know is, a) do you have millions of dollars I could borrow, and b) how do you build a—

DAD

Careful.

MARNIE

What?

DAD

Look away from the scrapbook. Look at me.

MARNIE

O… kay?

DAD

You have to be careful you don't stare at the small print without blinking. You've got to look away.

MARNIE

Why?

DAD

Because it can ruin your vision.

MARNIE

My vision is 20/20, remember? It's, like, forty.

DAD

You need to keep it that way. Lots of jobs you can't do without 20/20 vision. Fighter pilot. Soldier. Astronaut.

MARNIE

Okay.

DAD

Promise me you won't become a fighter pilot or a soldier.

MARNIE

I… promise?

DAD

Good.

MARNIE

Actually, speaking of astro-things, didn't you pass the aeronautics exam when you were a kid seven hundred years ago?

DAD

That's right. Uh-huh. I was at the top of my class. Aerospace engineering.

MARNIE

Right! So, Dad, that's why I was wondering if you could tell me how I can—

DAD

It's okay though. Most astronauts never go into space anyway. They spend all their lives… waiting. Wondering if they'll get a chance. If they'll miss theirs. And then… then you've just wasted your life. Haven't you. Waiting for a chance to do that and then not getting it. No. Much better not to be in that field.

MARNIE

…see ya, Dad.

She walks away.

DAD

Oh. Bye, Marn.

Was there something you wanted to ask me, honey?

But already she's approaching ALAN, who's holed up in his room.

MARNIE

(to us)
It's okay, it's okay, sometimes parents aren't helpful, but that's why people have brothers, right?

Oh Allllllllan…

ALAN

Not now.

MARNIE

I just want to talk to you about borrowing maybe a few million dollars for my project to build a—

ALAN

Mañana.

MARNIE

(to us)
Which is Spanish for "tomorrow," because the woman Alan is in love with
(which is so gross I almost want to eat my arms)
is from Chile, which apparently is like Spain because of the Spanish but stupider because it's not Spain and so they should have their own language, Chill, and they don't; anyway—

(to ALAN)
Even a single million dollars would help.

ALAN

Marnie, I really just want to be alone now.

MARNIE

Okay.

ALAN

Alone alone.

MARNIE

Okay. I understand completely. So what should we do?

ALAN

No. Without you. Just me. In solitude.

MARNIE

Is that Spanish?

ALAN

Argh.

MARNIE

Comet estas?

ALAN

Tired.

MARNIE

Comment sava?

ALAN

Marnie.

MARNIE

Alan, what's wrong?

ALAN

I don't want to talk about it.

MARNIE

You're being a mean human.

ALAN

I'm sorry.

MARNIE

Why won't you tell me things?

ALAN

You wouldn't understand.

MARNIE

I understand more than you!

ALAN

Okay.

MARNIE

I'm reading Daddy's textbooks in the basement!

ALAN

That's great.

MARNIE

Alan!

ALAN

If I put on my headphones, don't think I'm not listening. I'm listening. I'm just listening without being able to hear you as much as I would if I weren't wearing headphones. So don't be insulted. Okay?

He puts on his headphones.

MARNIE

Alan? Alan. Alan!

ALAN

…

MARNIE

He can't hear me.

ALAN

…

MARNIE

You smell, Alan.

ALAN

…

MARNIE

I know about your big woman love which is super gross let me tell you. I can hear you through the walls. You're all like, "Ooo, I love her, ooo, she's so special, oooo, I want to go to McDonald's with her and let her buy me foooood," okay so I can't hear exactly what you say, but I get the idea, okay?

ALAN

…

MARNIE

Alan, I hate you.

ALAN

…

MARNIE

I don't hate you, Alan. But this is annoying. You're annoying. Stop being annoying!

ALAN

…

MARNIE

Alan I NEED TO ESCAPE FROM THIS WEIRDO FAMILY SO I NEED TO BUY SCRAP METAL BECAUSE I'M BUILDING A SPACESHIP IN THE BASEMENT NOW WILL YOU PLEASE HELP ME PLEASE?!??!?!?!

To us:

Whoops.

I guess you… know my secret?

That I'm… building a spaceship in the basement?

Or… did you not get that? No, no, I see, you got that. Especially when I said it again just now. Right.

And now maybe you're wondering: why does this crazy French poet want to escape her family so badly that she needs to go all the way into outer space?

They're not monsters. Obviously. Like sometimes you think of people's families and you think they should breathe fire and have horns and stuff, because they're very monstrous. Like, my friend Sarah Marcesio's parents, they drink lots of alcoholic beverages and don't cook food. They order pizza all the time. It's pretty monstrous.

The problem with my family, though, these "adults," these "grown-ups"—and I say those "names" with my eyebrows raised like this—

She raises her eyebrows dramatically.

—is that they obviously missed the day in school, and it's like early school, it's like grade one or kindergarten, so they shouldn't have missed it unless they were really sick or something—anyway, they obviously missed the day in school when they teach you not to act like a kid when you're old.

No!

Rule #1: as a grown-up you should never want things so much that you become silly!

If you're a real grown-up, a special and perfect and not embarrassing grown-up, you say: when I was a kid I tried so hard to get the things I wanted that I was silly, I kept talking about being an astronaut even though I was an engineer, I pretended I was an opera singer even though I didn't sing, I fell in love—ewwww—with a twenty-one-year-old woman from Chile who nevertheless did not speak Chill, but now, now that I'm a grown-up, I'm going to put all that away in a drawer somewhere, and lock the drawer, and swallow the key, and flush the key down the toilet when I poo it out, and be serious.

And because my parents and my Alan can't do that, and because now they tell me I'm not from Mars but from them, which means I'm dooooomed: that, ladles and Germans, is why I have to leave.

Because if they're not special, if they're ordinary, embarrassing, un-perfect human beings…

What does that make me?

So! Let me show you what I've got so far.

She runs to a corner of the basement and picks up a pile of tinfoil pieces, pipe cleaners, bottle caps, and stuffed animals. She hauls her haul over and plunks it down in the centre of the stage.

Amazing, huh?

BOOK: The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee
5.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Seduced by the Highlander by MacLean, Julianne
Stalin and His Hangmen by Donald Rayfield
Bluegrass Undercover by Kathleen Brooks
Valaquez Bride by Donna Vitek
Superman's Cape by Brian Spangler
Her Secret Sex Life by Willie Maiket
The True Story of Stellina by Matteo Pericoli
Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood