Writers Reading: Robert Siegel

 

THE SUM OF IT ALL (WGAE 1233752)

Synopsis

The NFL has a new star, a place kicker who makes field goals with deadly accuracy from seventy yards away. The Tiger Woods of football? Not exactly. This star is a girl. But Kyle Eastman, the owner of a long-standing winning NFL team, isn’t so sure. He thinks she may really be a boy who became a girl and he is determined to expose her. His mission is partly fueled by his distrust of women after a recent divorce, which he regrets down to his bones. His suspicions are also fed by none other than the star herself. She seems to relish in creating doubts about her gender. During this game of wits, Kyle is told that his daughter, a successful sports broadcaster, is getting married. Kyle sees the wedding as a chance to perhaps win back his ex. While the road to the alter is laid with good intentions, it is also loaded with high explosives that will make a family confront long standing attitudes about sexual identity. And what of our star’s personal life? She is discovering love for the first time but this is being undermined by a deeply held secret that walls in her cold anger.

Part comedy, part drama, THE SUM OF IT ALL looks at assumptions about gender in the old world of a male-dominated sport, and also looks at gender complexity in the new world of our current society. The play also explores the relentless competition of sports, the effects of fame, and the consequences of holding onto old wounds.

CHARACTERS

Kyle: Mid fifties

Helen: Almost thirty, the star athlete

Melissa: A little younger than Helen, Kyle’s daughter

Annie: A little younger than Kyle, his ex wife.

Andy: Mid forties, Kyle’s right hand man.

Brad: Mid twenties, a young quarterback.

Director’s Voice: Andy, using a different voice

Sportscaster’s Voice: Brad, using a different voice.

The Voices Toward The End Of Act II: All the actors not on stage, using different voices.

 

Two Acts. Ten scenes. One unit set. The present.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

THE SUM OF IT ALL

(SCENE 7. Andy is alone in the skybox. He is pointing a remote at various places around the room and then exits. After a moment, Kyle enters. He pours himself a drink.)

KYLE

Brad… Son. What you saw last week was a sinking man. When we’re hurt, hurt bad, we have two choices: to make a fist, close-up, and strike back. Or we can open our palms and our arms and our hearts. Last week I was talking through my fists. That fist has lots of cuts and nicks on it. I’ll tell you about it someday. What matters now, is to start over. I never should have asked you to get involved in such a tawdry scenario. I am truly ashamed and I hope this stays just between us. I don’t have any right to ask for your discretion, but I hope you’ll get to know me and see that’s there’s more to me than last week, what Annie calls the sum of it all. I have such a great feeling about this wedding. It’s going to be a new beginning for all of us. It’s a gift, son. A way to work closely with Annie, be with her. I still love her, can’t imagine loving anyone else. I’m going to woo her all over again. I’m going to be Orpheus to her Persephone and I am not going to look back. I want to talk to you about the importance of family. Now, I know you’re young and full of ambition..

(His voice has trailed off as lights dim. After a moment, lights return and Melissa enters.)

MELISSA

Hi, daddy.

KYLE

There’s my girl!

(They hug. Melissa holds back a little.)

KYLE

Congratulations.

MELISSA

Thanks, daddy.

KYLE

So where’s your fiancée? I was hoping we could talk.

MELISSA

Really? So mom told you.

KYLE

There are some things a father finds out on his own.

MELISSA

Really.

KYLE

You don’t believe me. I knew before she did.

MELISSA

How?

KYLE

Football’s a small world.

MELISSA

And you’re okay with it?

KYLE

Okay? It’s great!

MELISSA

Oh, daddy!

(a bigger hug)

KYLE

You sound as worried as your mother. Marrying a football player has its challenges, but you’re going to be fine.

MELISSA

I’m so relieved you’re thinking about us that way.

KYLE

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things. You’re going to do better than your mother and I.

MELISSA

You’ve been a great dad.

KYLE

I wasn’t always the best husband. I’m going to change all that.

MELISSA

You sound so young.

KYLE

That’s why I want to have a talk with Brad.

MELISSA

Brad.

KYLE

He’s going to be a great quarterback.

MELISSA

Dad—

KYLE

I’m not just saying that because he’s your sweetie.

MELISSA

Dad!

KYLE

I have an eye for talent.

MELISSA

Brad Watham is marrying Andrea Norris, the tennis player.

KYLE

And you know this because..

MELISSA

Reporters find out secrets. It’s my job, dad.

KYLE

Of course. Boy, do I feel stupid. I knew Brad was getting engaged and when your mother was here she said you were going with a football player, so I just assumed… So who’s the lucky guy? He’s got to be a skill player; you loved to run; I bet a wide receiver, that young Collins—

MELISSA

A place kicker.

KYLE

It’s a rough time in that position, what with that girl—

MELISSA

Helen Jansen.

KYLE

She’s—

MELISSA

Breaking every record, setting the league on fire, redefining the game. She’s going to be bigger than Tiger, Nadal, and Lebron put together.

(From the look on his daughter’s face, Kyle understands. He sits down.)

KYLE

As long as she doesn’t get injured.

MELISSA

And she won’t if there’s someone to love her and make her happy.

KYLE

She’s also got to make that someone happy. It can’t be one-way.

MELISSA

It’s not, daddy. You still want this wedding?

KYLE

Of course, sweetie. Of course.

(Melissa stands by him and takes his hand.)

KYLE

This isn’t some phase, honey?

MELISSA

No.

KYLE

This is serious.

MELISSA

God, is it serious.

KYLE

(startled by the passion in her voice)

Now, I don’t have to know everything.

MELISSA

Everything?

KYLE

All the different formations.

MELISSA

The formations?

KYLE

That gals use— (to get)

MELISSA

Daddy!

KYLE

You weren’t going to—(tell me)

MELISSA

No!

KYLE

I’m sorry. I’m way out of bounds today. It’s your mom. I hadn’t seen her since court until last week, and now I can’t stop thinking about her. I kind of have a fever. I feel—

MELISSA

I don’t have to know everything.

KYLE

I didn’t mean to..

MELISSA

It’s okay. Actually, I think it’s cute.

KYLE

Cute, huh? Is that what I’ve become? I was hoping this wedding might bring your mother and I closer, give me another chance.

MELISSA

It still can, dad.

KYLE

Damn straight! I didn’t mean anything by straight.

MELISSA

It’s okay, dad. I use the expression.

KYLE

Of course.

MELISSA

I’m still, Melissa, dad.

KYLE

What do you think of the team?

MELISSA

You’ve got a shot.

KYLE

Is that what you really think?

MELISSA

You’re using the nickel defense way too much and that’s why they’re finding such big holes. Trust your cornerbacks more, start bringing in the strong safety for eight-in-a-box and that will make you less predictable. Cut down the screen passes. Your tight end, Mason, isn’t up to it. And Brad—

KYLE

I was talking him up for you.

MELISSA

I know. He telegraphs his snap count so badly, a five year old could pick it up.

KYLE

That’s my girl. I’ll tell the coach.

MELISSA

Mom’s downstairs.

KYLE

She came with you?

MELISSA

She thought you might want to talk after I told you.

KYLE

(nods his head a few times)

Send her up.

(Melissa exits. Lights dim and when they return, Kyle is pouring himself a bourbon. Annie enters.)

ANNIE

You don’t look so good.

KYLE

That’s the second time in two weeks you’ve told me.

ANNIE

You’re getting that puffy look men get from too much drinking.

KYLE

Every remedy has its side effects.

ANNIE

What’s the ailment?

KYLE

Too much living. Didn’t she have a boyfriend in high school?

ANNIE

For a little while. She told me she broke up with him because he came on too strong after the prom.

KYLE

That should have been a sign.

ANNIE

That a girl doesn’t like getting groped in the back of a car?

KYLE

She was dating a guy in college, design major.

ANNIE

I’m pretty sure they slept together.

KYLE

Probably an inept sonuvabitch. Turned her off to men. I ought—(to look him up)

ANNIE

You ought to calm down. She was probably experimenting, trying to figure things out.

KYLE

I should have been around more, a stronger male presence.

ANNIE

You went to every softball game and track meet.

KYLE

I shouldn’t have encouraged her so much with sports. She was around other girls too much.

ANNIE

Another Rhodes Scholar obsession?

KYLE

I could’ve been more affectionate.

ANNIE

This isn’t about you.

KYLE

A person has the right to analyze things.

ANNIE

Fine, but you are going to be father of the bride and we are going to welcome Helen.

KYLE

Of course we are.. Do you think they’ll kiss in front of us?

ANNIE

Well you can just send her to her room. I’m sure she won’t mind if you send both of them.

KYLE

You’re treating this as one big joke.

ANNIE

It’s your reaction. Frankly, I don’t get. You’ve given money to candidates that support gay rights. You supported that openly gay councilman. What’s the big deal about marriage?

KYLE

Just because I support a political position doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it.

ANNIE

You want to run that by me again?

KYLE

If the law is worth the paper it’s written on, it’s based on fairness, not people’s comfort level. Hell, if the law was based on what makes us comfortable, we’d still be drinking from separate water fountains. I flinch when I see two grown men holding hands, but I’ll spend my treasure for their right to do it. As I recall, you weren’t that crazy about our councilman.

ANNIE

It wasn’t because he was gay. He has two kids with his wife and then goes to live with his boyfriend.

KYLE

See what happens when you have a secret life.

ANNIE

Don’t you think he should’ve told her before the kids? Besides, given all the other problems in the world, being gay was pretty far down on my list.

KYLE

Still is, I guess.

ANNIE

Now it’s on my radar.

KYLE

And you’re completely comfortable with Lissa and that girl.

ANNIE

No, not at first. I was afraid she might have a harder life.

KYLE

Just let someone make a crack about her around me.

ANNIE

Lissa is strong, Kyle. Remember when she wanted to go away to the swimming camp and we thought she was still too young.

KYLE

She hammered away for a solid month.

ANNIE

Worked on us separately until she had us both lined up.

KYLE

Always thought she might be a hostage negotiator when she grew up.

ANNIE

And remember what you used to tell me, what you wished for her? Just two things.

KYLE

That she find some work she’s passionate about. No one can take that away.

ANNIE

And that—

KYLE

She finds someone who loves her so her heart grows as much as her mind.

ANNIE

Well, she’s got both, honey. How lucky is that?

KYLE

How do you know Helen really loves her?

ANNIE

I had lunch with them. They’re nuts about each other.

KYLE

And I didn’t know. Secrets. I hate secrets.

ANNIE

I know that’s how I hurt you the most. But behind every secret is a little truth racing to the surface for air.

KYLE

How insightful. Except, it’s always my air that gets cut off.

ANNIE

If it’s any consolation, I was only a few weeks ahead of you. How come I didn’t know sooner?

KYLE

Too self absorbed these last few years.

ANNIE

Guilty. Feel better?

KYLE

Could you tell who’s butch and who’s fem?

ANNIE

Kyle! They’re way past that.

KYLE

Alright, alright.

ANNIE

Think of how lucky we are. Think of all the things that might have happened. Ruth’s boy paralyzed in a car accident. Jenny’s girl, dead from leukemia. Kim’s kid, constantly in rehab. Lissa has a great career and she’s in love, Kyle. Our daughter’s getting married.

KYLE

Plenty of potholes there. Guess they can’t do any worse than straight people.

ANNIE

They can do just fine with us on their side.

KYLE

Jesus.

ANNIE

What?

KYLE

Can’t happen.

ANNIE

Baby, you’re white as a sheet.

KYLE

(hyperventilating)

It’s got to be undone.

ANNIE

Should I call an ambulance?

KYLE

I really screwed up.

ANNIE

What? Just breathe.

KYLE

Got to call Brad. I have to make this right.

(He collapses into Annie as lights go to dark.)

End of Act I

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siegel

Robert Siegel’s plays have been produced Off Broadway at the Perry Street Theater (Swear Allegiance), John Houseman Studio Theatre (Katmandu, a commission from F. Murray Abraham), EST’s Octoberfest (Overlooking The Park), and the New York Library for the Performing Arts at the Bruno Walter Auditorium (Night Into Winter), and regionally at the Mill Hill Playhouse in New Jersey, Charlotte Rep (Overlooking The Park) and Charlotte Contemporary Plays Festival, North Carolina (Truce). He is the recipient of the White Bird Theater Award and an alumnus of Lee Strasberg’s Actor’s Studio. He has written screenplays for Lumiere in New York and Film Magnum Oy in Finland. While living in NYC, he collaborated on theater projects for the Broadway Theater Institute, working with people recovering from homelessness and addiction. During that time he received grants from Poets and Writers Inc, Lila Wallace-Reader Digest Fund, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Rockefeller Group, Shubert Organization. Currently, his performance piece Portraits will be performed at the Hawaii International Arts and Humanities Festival in January 2013 and the Carrick Arts Center in Durham, NC in September of 2013. His critical work has been published by American Drama, University of Alabama, and Forum Modernes in Germany. He teaches playwriting and screenwriting at ECU.

More from Robert Siegel: 

http://www.ecu.edu/cs-cas/engl/profiles/siegel.cfm

http://core.ecu.edu/engl/cw/siegel.html