Character Analysis :
Scene Analysis :
2007 updated for acting/directing classes
Stagematrix : scenes in class
acting2 -- directing class [ midterm? ]
Half an hour later. Dinner is just being finished in the upstage area which is concealed by the drawn portieres.
As the curtain rises LAURAis still huddled upon the sofa, her feet drawn under her, her head resting on a pale blue pillow, her eyes wide and mysteriously watchful. The new floor lamp with its shade of rosecolored silk gives a soft, becoming light to her face, bringing out the fragile, unearthly prettiness which usually escapes attention. There is a steady murmur of rain, but it is slackening and stops soon after the scene begins; the air outside becomes pale and luminous as the moon breaks out.
A moment after the curtain rises, the lights in both rooms flicker and go out.
JIM. Hey, there, Mr. Light Bulb!
[ AMANDAlaughs nervously.
[LEGEND: "SUSPENSION OF A PUBLIC SERVICE."]
AMANDA. Where was Moses when the lights went out? Ha-ha. Do you know the answer to that one, Mr. O'Connor?
JIM. No, Ma'am, what's the answer?
AMANDA. In the dark!
[ JIMlaughs appreciatively.]
Everybody sit still. I'll light the candles. Isn't it lucky we have them on the table? Where's a match? Which of you gentlemen can provide a match?
[ LAURA sits up nervously as he enters. Her speech at first is low and breathless from the almost intolerable strain of being alone with a stranger.
[THE LEGEND: "I DON'T SUPPOSE YOU REMEMBER ME AT ALL!"
[In her first speeches in this scene, before JIM'S warmth overcomes her paralyzing shyness, LAURA'S voice is thin and breathless as though she has just run up a steep flight of stairs. JIM'S attitude is gently humorous. In playing this scene it should be stressed that while the incident is apparently unimportant, it is to LAURAthe climax of her secret life.]
JIM. Hello, there, Laura.
LAURA [faintly]. Hello. [She clears her throat.]
JIM. How are you feeling now? Better?
LAURA. Yes. Yes, thank you.
JIM. This is for you. A little dandelion wine.
[He extends it toward her with extravagant gallantry.]
LAURA. Thank you.
JIM. Drink it--but don't get drunk!
[He laughs heartily. LAURAtakes the glass uncertainly; laughs shyly.]
Where shall I set the candles?
LAURA. Oh--oh, anywhere . . .
JIM. How about here on the floor? Any objections?
JIM. I'll spread a newspaper under to catch the drippings. I like to sit on the floor. Mind if I do?
LAURA. Oh, no.
JIM. Give me a pillow?
JIM. A pillow!
LAURA. Oh . . . [Hands him one quickly.]
JIM. How about you? Don't you like to sit on the floor?
JIM. Why don't you, then?
JIM. Take a pillow!
[ LAURA does. Sits on the other side of! the candelabrum. JIMcrosses his legs and smiles engagingly at her.]
I can't hardly see you sitting way over there.
LAURA. I can--see you.
JIM. I know, but that's not fair, I'm in the limelight.
[ LAURAmoves her pillow closer.]
Good! Now I can see you! Comfortable?
JIM. So am I. Comfortable as a cow! Will you have some gum?
LAURA. No, thank you.
JIM. I think that I will indulge, with your permission. [Musingly unwraps it and holds it up.] Think of the fortune made by the guy that invented the first piece of chewing gum. Amazing, huh? The Wrigley Building is one of the sights of Chicago.--I saw it summer before last when I went up to the Century of Progress. Did you take in the Century of Progress?
LAURA. No, I didn't.
JIM. Well, it was quite a wonderful exposition. What impressed me most was the Hall of Science. Gives you an idea of what the future will be in America, even more wonderful than the present time is! [Pause. Smiling at her] Your brother tells me you're shy. Is that right, Laura?
LAURA. I--don't know.
JIM. I judge you to be an old-fashioned type of girl. Well, I think that's a pretty good type to be. Hope you don't think I'm being too personal--do you?
LAURA [hastily, out of embarrassment]. I believe I will take a piece of gum, if you--don't mind. [Clearing her throat] Mr. O'Connor, have you--kept up with your singing?
JIM. Singing? Me?
LAURA. Yes. I remember what a beautiful voice you had.
JIM. When did you hear me sing?
[VOICE OFF STAGE IN THE PAUSE]
VOICE [off stage].O blow, ye winds, heigh-ho, A-roving I will go! I'm off to my love With a boxing glove-- Ten thousand miles away!JIM. You say you've heard me sing?
LAURA. Oh, yes! Yes, very often . . . I--don't suppose--you remember me--at all?
JIM [smiling doubtfully]. You know I have an idea I've seen you before. I had that idea soon as you opened the door. It seemed almost like I was about to remember your name. But the name that I started to call you--wasn't a name! And so I stopped myself before I said it.
LAURA. Wasn't it--Blue Roses?
JIM [springs up. Grinning]. Blue Roses!--My gosh, yes--Blue Roses!
That's what I had on my tongue when you opened the door! Isn't it funny what tricks your memory plays? I didn't connect you with high school somehow or other.
But that's where it was; it was high school. I didn't even know you were Shakespeare's sister!
Gosh, I'm sorry.
LAURA. I didn't expect you to. You--barely knew me!
JIM. But we did have a speaking acquaintance, huh?
LAURA. Yes, we--spoke to each other.
JIM. When did you recognize me?
LAURA. Oh, right away!
JIM. Soon as I came in the door?
LAURA. When I heard your name I thought it was probably you. I knew that Tom used to know you a little in high school. So when you came in the door-- Well, then I was--sure.
JIM. Why didn't you say something, then?
LAURA [breathlessly]. I didn't know what to say, I was--too surprised!
JIM. For goodness' sakes! You know, this sure is funny!
LAURA. Yes! Yes, isn't it, though . . .
JIM. Didn't we have a class in something together?
LAURA. Yes, we did.
JIM. What class was that?
LAURA. It was--singing--Chorus!
LAURA. I sat across the aisle from you in the Aud.
LAURA. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
JIM. Now I remember--you always came in late.
LAURA. Yes, it was so hard for me, getting upstairs. I had that brace on my leg--it clumped so loud!
JIM. I never heard any clumping.
LAURA [wincing at the recollection]. To me it sounded like--thunder!
JIM. Well, well, well, I never even noticed.
LAURA. And everybody was seated before I came in. I had to walk in front of all those people. My seat was in the back row. I had to go clumping all the way up the aisle with everyone watching!
JIM. You shouldn't have been self-conscious.
LAURA. I know, but I was. It was always such a relief when the singing started.
JIM. Aw, yes, I've placed you now! I used to call you Blue Roses. How was it that I got started calling you that?
LAURA. I was out of school a little while with pleurosis. When I came back you asked me what was the matter. I said I had pleurosis-you thought I said Blue Roses. That's what you always called me after that!
JIM. I hope you didn't mind.
LAURA. Oh, no--I liked it. You see, I wasn't acquainted with many-people. . . .
JIM. As I remember you sort of stuck by yourself.
LAURA. I--I--never have had much luck at--making friends.
JIM. I don't see why you wouldn't.
LAURA. Well, I--started out badly.
JIM. You mean being--
LAURA. Yes, it sort of--stood between met--
JIM. You shouldn't have let it!
LAURA. I know, but it did, and--
JIM. You were shy with people!
LAURA. I tried not to be but never could--
JIM. Overcome it?
LAURA. No, I--I never could!
JIM. I guess being shy is something you have to work out of kind of gradually.
LAURA [sorrowfully]. Yes--I guess it--
JIM. Takes time!
JIM. People are not so dreadful when you know them. That's what you have to remember! And everybody has problems, not just you, but practically everybody has got some problems.
You think of yourself as having the only problems, as being the only one who is disappointed. But just look around you and you will see lots of people as disappointed as you are. For instance, I hoped when I was going to high school that I would be further along at this time, six years later, than I am now-- You remember that wonderful write-up I had in The Torch?
LAURA. Yes! [She rises and crosses to table.]
JIM. It said I was bound to succeed in anything I went into!
Holy Jeez! The Torch!
[He accepts it reverently. They smile across it with mutual wonder. LAURA crouches beside him and they begin to turn through it. LAURA'S shyness is dissolving in his warmth.]
LAURA. Here you are in The Pirates of Penzance!
JIM [wistfully]. I sang the baritone lead in that operetta.
LAURA [raptly]. So--beautifully!
JIM [protesting]. Aw--
LAURA. Yes, yes--beautifully--beautifully!
JIM. You heard me?
LAURA. All three times!
JIM. All three performances?
LAURA [looking down]. Yes.
LAURA. I--wanted to ask you to--autograph my program.
JIM. Why didn't you ask me to?
LAURA. You were always surrounded by your own friends so much that I never had a chance to.
JIM. You should have just--
LAURA. Well, I--thought you might think I was--
JIM. Thought I might think you was--what?
JIM [with reflective relish]. I was beleaguered by females in those days.
LAURA. You were terribly popular!
LAURA. You had such a--friendly way--
JIM. I was spoiled in high school.
LAURA. Everybody--liked you!
JIM. Including you?
LAURA. I--yes, I--I did, too--
[She gently closes the book in her lap.]
JIM. Well, well, well!--Give me that program, Laura.
[She hands it to him. He signs it with a flourish.]
There you are--better late than never!
LAURA. Oh, I--what a--surprise!
JIM. My signature isn't worth very much right now.
But some day--maybe--it will increase in value! Being disappointed is one thing and being discouraged is something else. I am disappointed but I am not discouraged. I'm twenty-three years old. How old are you?
LAURA. I'll be twenty-four in June.
JIM. That's not old age!
LAURA. No, but--
JIM. You finished high school?
LAURA [with difficulty]. I didn't go back.
JIM. You mean you dropped out?
LAURA. I made bad grades in my final examinations.
[She rises and replaces the book and the program. Her voice strained]
How is-- Emily Meisenbach getting along?
JIM. Oh, that kraut-head!
LAURA. Why do you call her that?
JIM. That's what she was.
LAURA. You're not still--going with her?
JIM. I never see her.
LAURA. It said in the Personal Section that you were--engaged!
JIM. I know, but I wasn't impressed by that--propaganda!
LAURA. It wasn't--the truth?
JIM. Only in Emily's optimistic opinion!
[LEGEND: "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SINCE HIGH SCHOOL?"
[ JIM lights a cigarette and leans indolently back on his elbows smiling at LAURAwith a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly with altar candles. She remains by the table and turns in her hands a piece of glass to cover her tumult.]
JIM [after several reflective puffs on a cigarette]. What have you done since high school? [She seems not to hear him.] Huh?
[ LAURA looks up.]
I said what have you done since high school, Laura?
LAURA. Nothing much.
JIM. You must have been doing something these six long years.
JIM. Well, then, such as what?
LAURA. I took a business course at business college--
JIM. How did that work out?
LAURA. Well, not very--well--I had to drop out, it gave me--indigestion--
[ JIM laughs gently.]
JIM. What are you doing now?
LAURA. I don't do anything--much. Oh, please don't think I sit around doing nothing! My glass collection takes up a good deal of time. Glass is something you have to take good care of.
JIM. What did you say--about glass?
LAURA. Collection I said--I have one--
[She clears her throat and turns away again, acutely shy.]
JIM [abruptly]. You know what I judge to be the trouble with you?
Inferiority complex! Know what that is? That's what they call it when someone low-rates himself!
I understand it because I had it, too. Although my case was not so aggravated as yours seems to be. I had it until I took up public speaking, developed my voice, and learned that I had an aptitude for science. Before that time I never thought of myself as being outstanding in any way whatsoever!
Now I've never made a regular study of it, but I have a friend who says I can analyze people better than doctors that make a profession of it. I don't claim that to be necessarily true, but I can sure guess a person's psychology, Laura!
[Takes out his gum]
Excuse me, Laura. I always take it out when the flavor is gone. I'll use this scrap of paper to wrap it in. I know how it is to get it stuck on a shoe.
Yep--that's what I judge to be your principal trouble. A lack of confidence in yourself as a person. You don't have the proper amount of faith in yourself. I'm basing that fact on a number of your remarks and also on certain observations I've made. For instance that clumping you thought was so awful in high school. You say that you even dreaded to walk into class. You see what you did? You dropped out of school, you gave up an education because of a clump, which as far as I know was practically nonexistent! A little physical defect is what you have. Hardly noticeable even! Magnified thousands of times by imagination!
You know what my strong advice to you is? Think of yourself as superior in some way!
LAURA. In what way would I think?
JIM. Why, man alive, Laura! Just look about you a little. What do you see? A world full of common people! All of 'em born and all of 'em going to die!
Which of them has one-tenth of your good points! Or mine! Or anyone else's, as far as that goes--Gosh!
Everybody excels in some one thing. Some in many!
[Unconsciously glances at himself in the mirror.]
All you've got to do is discover in what! Take me, for instance.
[He adjusts his tie at the mirror.]
My interest happens to lie in electro-dynamics. I'm taking a course in radio engineering at night school, Laura, on top of a fairly responsible job at the warehouse. I'm taking that course and studying public speaking.
JIM. Because I believe in the future of television!
[Turning back to her]
I wish to be ready to go up right along with it. Therefore I'm planning to get in on the ground floor. In fact I've already made the right connections and all that remains is for the industry itself to get under way! Full steam--
[His eyes are starry.]
Knowledge--Zzzzzp! Money--Zzzzzzp!--Power! That's the cycle democracy is built on!
[His attitude is convincingly dynamic. LAURA stares at him, even her shyness eclipsed in her absolute wonder. He suddenly grins.]
I guess you think I think a lot of myself!
LAURA. No--o-o-o, I--
JIM. Now how about you? Isn't there something you take more interest in than anything else?
LAURA. Well, I do--as I said--have my--glass collection--
[A peal of girlish laughter from the kitchen.]
JIM. I'm not right sure I know what you're talking about. What kind of glass is it?
LAURA. Little articles of it, they're ornaments mostly!
Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie!
Here's an example of one, if you'd like to see it!
This one is one of the oldest. It's nearly thirteen.
[MUSIC: "THE GLASS MENAGERIE."
[He stretches out his hand.]
Oh, be careful--if you breathe, it breaks!
JIM. I'd better not take it. I'm pretty clumsy with things.
LAURA. Go on, I trust you with him!
[Places it in his palm.]
There now--you're holding him gently!
Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him?
JIM. It sure does shine!
LAURA. I shouldn't be partial, but he is my favorite one.
JIM. What kind of a thing is this one supposed to be?
LAURA. Haven't you noticed the single horn on his forehead?
JIM. A unicorn, huh?
JIM. Unicorns, aren't they extinct in the modern world?
LAURA. I know!
JIM. Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome.
LAURA [smiling]. Well, if he does he doesn't complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don't have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together.
JIM. How do you know?
LAURA [lightly]. I haven't heard any arguments among them!
JIM [grinning]. No arguments, huh? Well, that's a pretty good sign! Where shall I set him?
LAURA. Put him on the table. They all like a change of scenery once in a while!
JIM [stretching]. Well, well, well, well--
Look how big my shadow is when I stretch!
LAURA. Oh, oh, yes--it stretches across the ceiling!
JIM [crossing to door]. I think it's stopped raining. [Opens fireescape door.] Where does the music come from?
LAURA. From the Paradise Dance Hall across the alley.
JIM. How about cutting the rug a little, Miss Wingfield?
LAURA. Oh, I--
JIM. Or is your program filled up? Let me have a look at it. [Grasps imaginary card] Why, every dance is taken! I'll just have to scratch some out.
[WALTZ MUSIC: "LA GOLONDRINA."]
Ahhh, a waltz! [He executes some sweeping turns by himself then holds his arm toward LAURA.]
LAURA [breathlessly]. I--can't dance!
JIM. There you go, that inferiority stuff!
LAURA. I've never danced in my life!
JIM. Come on, try!
LAURA. Oh, but I'd step on you!
JIM. I'm not made out of glass.
LAURA. How--how--how do we start?
JIM. Just leave it to me. You hold your arms out a little.
LAURA. Like this?
JIM. A little bit higher. Right. Now don't tighten up, that's the main thing about it--relax.
LAURA [laughing breathlessly]. It's hard not to.
LAURA. I'm afraid you can't budge me.
JIM. What do you bet I can't?
[He swings her into motion.]
LAURA. Goodness, yes, you can!
JIM. Let yourself go, now, Laura, just let yourself go.
JIM. Come on!
JIM. Not so stiff-- Easy does it!
LAURA. I know but I'm--
JIM. Loosen th' backbone! There now, that's a lot better.
LAURA. Am I?
JIM. Lots, lots better!
[He moves her about the room in a clumsy waltz.]
LAURA. Oh, my!
LAURA. Oh, my goodness!
[They suddenly bump into the table. JIMstops.]
What did we hit on?
JIM. Did something fall off it? I think--
JIM. I hope that it wasn't the little glass horse with the horn!
JIM. Aw, aw, aw. Is it broken?
LAURA. Now it is just like all the other horses.
JIM. It's lost its--
It doesn't matter. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise.
JIM. You'll never forgive me. I bet that that was your favorite piece of glass.
LAURA. I don't have favorites much. It's no tragedy, Freckles. Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are. The traffic jars the shelves and things fall off them.
JIM. Still I'm awfully sorry that I was the cause.
LAURA [smiling]. I'll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less--freakish!
[They both laugh.]
Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones that don't have horns . . .
JIM. Ha-ha, that's very funny! [Suddenly serious] I'm glad to see that you have a sense of humor.
You know--you're--well--very different! Surprisingly different from anyone else I know!
[His voice becomes soft and hesitant with a genuine feeling.]
Do you mind me telling you that?
[ LAURA is abashed beyond speech.]
I mean it in a nice way . . .
[ LAURA nods shyly, looking away.]
You make me feel sort of--I don't know how to put it! I'm usually pretty good at expressing things, but-- This is something that I don't know how to say!
[ LAURA touches her throat and clears it--turns the broken unicorn in her hands. Even softer]
Has anyone ever told you that you were pretty?
[ LAURA looks up slowly, with wonder, and shakes her head.]
Well, you are! In a very different way from anyone else. And all the nicer because of the difference, too.
[His voice becomes low and husky. LAURA turns away, nearly faint with the novelty of her emotions.]
I wish that you were my sister. I'd teach you to have some confidence in yourself. The different people are not like other people, but being different is nothing to be ashamed of. Because other people are not such wonderful people. They're one hundred times one thousand. You're one times one! They walk all over the earth. You just stay here. They're common as--weeds, but--you--well, you're--Blue Roses!
[IMAGE ON SCREEN: BLUE ROSES.
LAURA. But blue is wrong for--roses . . .
JIM. It's right for you!--You're--pretty!
LAURA. In what respect am I pretty?
JIM. In all respects--believe me! Your eyes--your hair--are pretty! Your hands are pretty!
[He catches hold of her hand.]
You think I'm making this up because I'm invited to dinner and have to be nice. Oh, I could do that! I could put on an act for you, Laura, and say lots of things without being very sincere. But this time I am. I'm talking to you sincerely. I happened to notice you had this inferiority complex that keeps you from feeling comfortable with people. Somebody needs to build your confidence up and make you proud instead of shy and turning away and--blushing--
Ought to--kiss you, Laura!
[His hand slips slowly up her arm to her shoulder.
[MUSIC SWELLS TUMULTUOUSLY.
[He suddenly turns her about and kisses her on the lips. When he releases her, LAURA sinks on the sofa with a bright, dazed look. JIM backs away and fishes in his pocket for a cigarette.
[LEGEND ON SCREEN: "SOUVENIR."]
[He lights the cigarette, avoiding her look. There is a peal of girlish laughter from AMANDA in the kitchen. LAURA slowly raises and opens her hand. It still contains the little broken glass animal. She looks at it with a tender, bewildered expression.]
I shouldn't have done that-- That was way off the beam.
You don't smoke, do you?
[She looks up, smiling, not hearing the question. He sits beside her a little gingerly. She looks at him speechlessly--waiting. He coughs decorously and moves a little farther aside as he considers the situation and senses her feelings, dimly, with perturbation. Gently]
Would you--care for a--mint?
[She doesn't seem to hear him but her look grows brighter even.]
Peppermint--Life-Saver? My pocket's a regular drug store--wherever I go . . .
[He pops a mint in his mouth. Then gulps and decides to make a clean breast of it. He speaks slowly and gingerly.]
Laura, you know, if I had a sister like you, I'd do the same thing as Tom. I'd bring out fellows and--introduce her to them. The right type of boys of a type to--appreciate her.
Only--well--he made a mistake about me.
Maybe I've got no call to be saying this. That may not have been the idea in having me over. But what if it was?
There's nothing wrong about that. The only trouble is that in my case --I'm not in a situation to--do the right thing.
I can't take down your number and say I'll phone.
I can't call up next week and--ask for a date.
I thought I had better explain the situation in case you--misunderstood it and--hurt your feelings. . . .
[Pause. Slowly, very slowly, LAURA'S look changes, her eyes returning slowly from his to the ornament in her palm. AMANDAutters another gay laugh in the kitchen.]
LAURA [faintly]. You--won't--call again?
JIM. No, Laura, I can't.
[He rises from the sofa.]
As I was just explaining, I've--got strings on me.
Laura, I've--been going steady!
I go out all of the time with a girl named Betty. She's a home-girl like you, and Catholic, and Irish, and in a great many ways we--get along fine. I met her last summer on a moonlight boat trip up the river to Alton, on the Majestic.
Well--right away from the start it was--love!
[ LAURA sways slightly forward and grips the arm of the sofa. He fails to notice, now enrapt in his own comfortable being.]
Being in love has made a new man of me!
[Leaning stiffly forward, clutching the arm of the sofa, LAURA struggles visibly with her storm. But JIMis oblivious, she is a long way off.]
The power of love is really pretty tremendous! Love is something that-changes the whole world, Laura!
[The storm abates a little and LAURA leans back. He notices her again.]
It happened that Betty's aunt took sick, she got a wire and had to go to Centralia. So Tom--when he asked me to dinner--I naturally just accepted the invitation, not knowing that you--that he--that I--
[He stops awkwardly.]
Huh--I'm a stumble-john!
[He flops back on the sofa. The holy candles in the altar of LAURA'S face have been snuffed out. There is a look of almost infinite desolation. JIM glances at her uneasily.]
I wish that you would--say something.
[She bites her lip which was trembling and then bravely smiles. She opens her hand again on the broken glass ornament. Then she gently takes his hand and raises it level with her own. She carefully places the unicorn in the palm of his hand, then pushes his fingers closed upon it.]
What are you--doing that for? You want me to have him?-- Laura? [She nods.] What for?
LAURA. A--souvenir . . .
[She rises unsteadily and crouches beside the victrola to wind it up.
[LEGEND ON SCREEN: "THINGS HAVE A WAY OF TURNING OUT SO BADLY!"
[OR IMAGE: "GENTLEMAN CALLER WAVING GOOD-BYE!--GAILY"
[ ... ]