This is What Happens When I Take a Playwriting Class

In the second semester of my first year of college I took a playwriting class because I had decided to test out being a writing major. I would later realize this was an awful idea for many reasons.

My class consisted of myself and six other people. I was the youngest of the group. In the first couple weeks of class I grew to hate it. I was in a slight “fuck school” phase so that only heightened my hate (for reference this class ended up being my favorite of the semester). It felt like we weren’t focusing enough on the actual writing on plays and were spending a lot of time talking about them.

When we finally got to the actual writing we were tasked with writing a ten minute play. For my first play I write a short crime story where a criminal tries to get his retired buddy back into the game. It took a turn when the buddy revealed he had told the cops about the criminal’s return to town, which led to the blackout and a few gunshot sound effects.

My play was not well received.

I was told by my peers that I used foul language too often, cops don’t swear that much, and they didn’t like the threat of violence against a character’s wife. Not huge fans of crime fiction in my class.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t my best work and got weak in the middle, but their complaints weren’t what I was expecting. Their crop of plays were what you would expect from a group of first and second year college students. Lots full of relationship drama and teen angst and I couldn’t have been more bored.

So I figured I had done something different and not what they expected so they didn’t like it. I suppose that sounds a bit egotistical, but it really drove me to write my second play. This one was going to be a one-act.

For this play I decided to actually play up the romance aspect like my peers had done, but in my own weird way. So along with the kind-of romance I threw in multiple versions of the same character, Morgan Freeman voice-overs, multiple universes, an interuniversal court to go along with them, a bear bailiff, references to weird things I like, and a jerk off/gay sex joke. Then I named it Odd Future after the new group of rappers I had just started listening to because I couldn’t think of anything better.

And it blew my goddamned mind when my classmates and teacher loved it. I took doing something different and did it differently tha I had before and it was well received. What the fuck was going on?

My teacher’s favorite joke was the jerk off joke. Then my head exploded.

This thing I had written and pretty much expected to be hated was the most well received of the group. I wrote this only for me and that taught me something. If I write for me, I’ll be happier because of it and it might even get a couple other people to like it.

So if you stuck through and read this post I’m sure you’re waiting to read the actual play itself. Or you’re just being nice to me. I hope you read the play because it’s one of my favorite things that I’ve ever written.

Also, if for whatever reason you’re a person who would want to put this on a stage: let me know because that would be awesome.

Odd Future

By

Kelly Harrass

Mark

Sarah

Mark-2

Guard 1 and 2

The Judge

The Guy with the Sign

Audience Member

Morgan Freeman

Sarah-2

MARK walks into a café and sits at a table. Seconds later SARAH walks in. Mark signals Sarah and she goes over to sit by him.

MARK

Hey, glad you could make it.

SARAH

Sorry I’m late, I didn’t mean to keep you waiting.

MARK

No, it’s fine. I haven’t been here that long.

SARAH

Oh cool.

MARK

So, how’ve you been? Is your hearing back after the other night?

SARAH

I’ve been good. How ‘bout you?

MARK

I’m good.

Odd pause. Not played for laughs.

SARAH

I sense a problem here.

MARK

What?

SARAH

We know nothing about each other.

MARK

You like Batman.

SARAH

Yup, that’s what the logo on my shirt said.

MARK

You like going to concerts and seeing Childish Gambino.

SARAH

Yes.

MARK

Your name is Sarah.

SARAH

I’m glad you got that one.

MARK

What’s my name?

SARAH

Mark?

MARK

Okay good.

(beat)

You were drunk when you gave me your number, weren’t you?

SARAH

Probably.

MARK

That’s what I thought.

SARAH

If it means anything I remember talking to you and I know as much about you as you know about me.

MARK

Okay that’s cool… I guess.

SARAH

So tell me about yourself. Start with how you ended up at the concert.

MARK

Okay. I heard about Gambino when Donald was on a podcast I listen to. Then I started listening to his music. You?

SARAH

I’ve got a friend that’s really into the indie rap scene and he said that Childish is one of the best. I didn’t know he was an actor until you told me.

MARK

The dudes talented as hell.

SARAH

So what else do you like?

MARK

Rock music, comic books, and Mad Men.

SARAH

Me too. You watch Breaking Bad?

MARK

No, I’ve been meaning to though.

SARAH

You should, you’d like it.

(beat)

Hey, I’m going to go to the bathroom. You think of something interesting to say while I’m gone. (pause) And don’t worry, I probably won’t sneak out.

Sarah gets up and walks off stage. After a couple of seconds a man walks onstage and pulls up a chair next to Mark. He wears a hat and sunglasses or something of that variety to obscure his features. This is MARK-2

MARK-2

She’s cool.

MARK

Yeah.

MARK-2

When she comes back, she’s going to ask you about Lost. You can’t say anything negative about the show. If you do, this will be the last time that you see her.

MARK

Okay, thanks. Wait, who are you?

MARK-2

Mark Whitman from Earth 616. I’m you from the next universe over.

MARK

Huh?

MARK-2

You heard about the discovery of alternate universes, right?

MARK

Yeah.

MARK-2

I’m going to guess that my universe is slightly ahead of yours and we discovered that we can travel to other universes before you.

MARK

No way.

MARK-2

It’s true and you should believe me; I’ve been on this date.

MARK

This isn’t a date.

MARK-2

No, but you’ve been telling yourself that it was.

MARK

Maybe.

MARK-2

Alright, she’s coming back. You can do this.

Mark-2 moves to another table. Sarah walks back onstage and takes her seat back.

SARAH

I thought of something to talk about. Did you ever watch Lost when it was on?

Mark is surprised by the question.

MARK

Uh… no, but I’ve been meaning to.

SARAH

You should really check it out. It’s a bit overrated, but for a sci-fi show it’s pretty kick ass.

MARK

If you have the DVD’s, would you up for watching some?

The lights turn red. An alarm sounds. Two men (Guards 1 and 2) wearing all black run onto the stage. Sarah doesn’t move, like she’s frozen in time.  They take Mark and Mark-2 off guard and put hoods over their heads and drag them off stage while the lights fade out.

SCENE 2

Lights up. The stage is now a court room. Mark and Mark-2 sit in the defendant’s seats. A bench for the judge is set up, there appears to be no prosecution.

MARK

Where the hell are we?

MARK-2

Oh shit, shit, shit, shit!

MARK

What?

MARK-2

Damn it!

MARK

What!

MARK-2

We’re in court.

MARK

Huh?

MARK-2

We’re in interuniversal court. I broke interuniversal law when I came to help you. I guess the cops noticed my jump into your universe.

MARK

What the hell are you talking about?!

MARK-2

There’s a group of people who decide the rules of interuniversal law. I broke one when I came to help you. Under their laws we’re never supposed to meet.

MARK

Then why’d you do it?!

MARK-2

It was important! And I thought no one would notice.

MARK

Really?

MARK-2

It sounded like a good plan at first.

MARK

Oh god, we’re going to jail. We’ll go to jail, right? They won’t put us to death?

MARK-2

We’ll go to jail… I think.

MARK

You think!

MARK-2

I know!

(beat)

MARK

What’s with all the cameras?

MARK-2

Interuniversal Court, IUC for short, is the top rated show in all of the universes that show it.

MARK

Fantastic, I’m going to be a TV star.

The lights dim a bit.

MARK-2

Here comes The Judge.

Music begins to play. THE JUDGE walks onto the stage. He makes a grand entrance; loud music, fancy lights, he gets the crowd pumped up. A person walks out on the stage holding an “Applause” sign. The Judge acts like the professional wrestler, The Rock.

THE JUDGE

Finally (pause) The Judge has come back to his court room!

MARK

What the hell is going on?

THE JUDGE

The Judge is back and is ready to dispense some justice to the lawbreakers of our worlds! Now, The Judge will be fair and will give the lawbreakers their chance in court, but I will turn on a dime and lay the smacketh down upon them. The Judge will not hesitate to take the law book, shine it up real nice, turn that sumbitch sideways, and stick it straight up their candy-asses!

The Guy with the Sign signals for applause again.

MARK (Quietly says to Mark-2)

We’re gonna die!

MARK-2

Shhhhh!

THE JUDGE

So, how do you jabroni’s plead?

The Mark’s look at each other.

MARK-2

Your honor we plead-

THE JUDGE

It doesn’t matter how you plead!

MARK

We’re going to jail.

THE JUDGE

What was that?

MARK

Uh… my, do you look pale.

THE JUDGE

Do you think The Judge is Stupid?

MARK

No…

THE JUDGE

You’re damn right, you don’t. (pause) The charge against you two morons is the breaking of IUC Law 6: No person shall seek out an alternate version of themself to offer help. How do you plead?

The Marks look at each other.

MARK-2

We plead not guilty.

THE JUDGE

Now we can add lying to your charges.

MARK

Your honor, I honestly don’t know what is going on. All I know is that this guy starts talking to me and then all of the sudden, I’m taken away. Now here I am and I don’t know what’s happening!

THE JUDGE

Are you getting uppity with me?

MARK

No! I’m just completely confused. I just need someone to help me figure out what I did wrong because I didn’t do anything. I was just talking to a girl and—

Mark gets cut off by the sound of a bear roaring. Mark looks off stage and points in fear/surprise.

MARK

Is that a bear?!

THE JUDGE

That’s my bailiff; Ursa Major. Now, you best calm yourself before Ursa rips your arm off and gives you a high five with it. Nobody wants to see that, do they?

AUDIENCE MEMBER (OS)

Yes we do!

MARK

Who was that? Shut up!

THE JUDGE

The Judge won’t tolerate any more outbursts from you.

MARK-2

Thanks for throwing me under the bus.

MARK

You’re welcome.

The lights dim. Dramatic music begins to play. Mark, Mark-2, and The Judge argue, but they can’t be heard over the music and the announcer, MORGAN FREEMAN (offstage).

MORGAN FREEMAN (OS)

That was only the beginning of the trial of the week. Not as important as the trial of the century, but still more important than the trial of the day. The law was questioned as were the moral characters of the defendants. Over the course of the week many things were argued, the crowd was pleased, and sadly, Ursa Major passed away after a battle with bear AIDS. His post was taken over by Ursa Minor. At the end of the day-

The lights come back up.

THE JUDGE

The Judge finds you both guilty! The sentence is eighty years in prison.

Fade out.

SCENE 3

Lights fade back in. All furniture is gone from the stage. Mark and Mark-2 gets shoved onto the stage by an unseen guard. The sound of a steel door being slammed shut is heard. Mark-2 walks over to a corner of the stage and sits down. Mark looks toward where they were shoved in.

MARK

They’re joking, right?! This is all a joke, right? I mean, they’re really not going to lock us away for eighty years, right? Right? Oh god! This is horrible. Does my Mom know where I am!? Someone’s gonna come looking for us soon! (pause) Please let us out!

MARK-2

These are gonna be a long eighty years.

Fade out to represent the passage of time. They shift their positions on stage. Fade back in.

MARK-2

Wanna play rock-paper-scissors?

MARK

No.

They’re quiet.

MARK-2 (singing)

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.

Fade out and in.

MARK

So you really think Airplane is better than The Jerk?

MARK-2

Airplane is better, but between Steve Martin and Leslie Nielsen, Steve Martin is the better comedian.

MARK

Okay, I can respect that. Did you see Black Dynamite?

MARK-2

No, but I think I saw my universe’s version of it; Brown TNT.

Fade out and in.

MARK

I hate Mondays.

MARK-2

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

MARK

What?

Fade out and in.

MARK

You ever feel like people are watching us?

They turn and look at the audience. Fade out and in. They’re both wandering around their cell doing Macho Man Randy Savage impressions.

MARK

Oh yeah!!!

MARK-2

Snap into a Slim Jim!

MARK

The tower of power, too sweet to be sour-

MARK-2

Funky like a monkey!

MARK

Be a man, Hogan! Oh yeah!

Fade out and in. They’re back to sitting.

MARK

Okay, you know a lot more about this multi-universe thing. If somebody has sex with themself is that gay or is it masturbating?

MARK-2

I… I honestly have no idea.

Fade out and in.

MARK

So, why’d you do it?

MARK-2

What?

MARK

Why’d you come to my universe and help me?

MARK-2

Did I really help you?

MARK

Well you tried.

MARK-2

I don’t know.

MARK

You must have had a good reason to do it. You were breaking the law and you knew it. It’s not like you’re me and you had no idea what was going on.

MARK-2

It seemed like it was a nice thing to do.

MARK

That’s it? That’s the only reason?

MARK-2

Okay fine. I screwed things up with Sarah in my universe. As far as I know I met her in the exact same way that you did-

MARK

At the Childish Gambino show?

MARK-2

Yeah.

MARK

How good was that show?!

MARK-2

So good!

MARK

I know!

MARK-2

What was I talking about?

MARK

Why you tried to help me.

MARK-2

Oh yeah. I screwed things up with Sarah and then I looked in on a bunch of other versions of me, well us, and they were all with her. They were all really happy and some even had kids on the way. I saw some people who screwed things up too and it was not a good time to be us.

MARK

Was everyone the same age or were they all at different points?

MARK-2

Different points, I’m not really sure how it works. All I knew was that my universe was ahead of yours and I wasn’t going to let you screw up like I did.

MARK

Funny thing is you screwed things up way worse than I could have.

MARK-2

You have no idea how sorry I am for all this. I didn’t think that any of this could happen. I mean, I knew that it could have, but-

MARK

Listen, you don’t need to apologize. If I was in your shoes I probably would have done the same thing. It sounds like she’s really important.

MARK-2

You have no idea. She’s the key (trails off)

MARK

What?

MARK-2

Oh, uh, nothing.

(pause)

If we get out of here, I’m going to try to fix everything.

MARK

If it’s cool with you, I think I’ll handle fixing my stuff. Cause, you know, you got us here. And back before all this started, I was handling my date pretty well.

MARK-2

Really?

MARK

Yeah, no not really. I was trying my best, but it just wasn’t working.

MARK-2

When we get out of here and I know we will, we’ll both set everything straight.

(beat)

MARK

I would say something like that, wouldn’t I? I’m never going to get used to talking to myself.

MARK-2

You can talk to an alternate version of yourself, but there still aren’t flying cars.

MARK

That’s never gonna happen.

MARK-2

One of these days we’ll get to the world of tomorrow that everybody was excited about in the fifties.

Suddenly an alarm goes off. Gun shots (or laser blasts) and screams can be heard.

MARK

The hell’s going on out there?

More gun shots and screams. The cell door opening can be heard. SARAH-2 runs in with a gun, shooting toward where she entered. Like Mark-2, her face is obscured by sunglasses and a hat (or something like that).

MARK and MARK-2

Sarah?!

SARAH-2

Come with me if you want to live.

MARK

That is so bad ass.

SARAH-2

I know, right? No really-

(a guard runs in. Sarah-2 cracks him in the head with her gun and shoots him as he falls)

-we need to leave.

Sarah-2 takes a remote out of her pocket.

SARAH-2

Grab my arm!

They grab on to Sarah-2. The lights start to flash all different colors. Full fade out and fade back in.

SARAH-2

I think we made it.

MARK-2

Are we safe?

SARAH-2

We should be. This was made so they couldn’t trace where we went.

MARK-2

Good.

MARK

What is going on?!

SARAH-2

I just broke your dumb asses out of jail.

MARK

Okay, you’re not the Sarah I know. Do you know this Mark?

SARAH-2

No. I’m Sarah Hawkins from Earth-1013. We get IUC on TV in my universe and I had to help. Back home the you that I knew died in the Cyber War.

MARK

Cyber war?

SARAH-2

You don’t know?

MARK

Know what?

SARAH-2 (to Mark-2)

You didn’t tell him?

MARK

Tell me what?

MARK-2

I didn’t want to worry him!

MARK

Worry about what?

SARAH-2

Jesus Christ, how could you not tell him?

MARK-2

I told him all that he had to know.

MARK

Both of you shut up and tell me what you’re talking about!

SARAH-2

Do you want us to shut up or do you want us to tell you? We can’t do both.

MARK

Just tell me.

SARAH-2 (to Mark)

The Cyber War is what happens if you and I aren’t together. If our date doesn’t go well, we never start dating. That means that six months in, you don’t meet me parents.

MARK

I’m still failing to see how this starts a war.

SARAH-2

Shut up and listen. If you don’t meet my parents, my father goes on a hike. While on that hike a spaceship crashes in front of him. The spaceship holds sentient machinery that takes control of my father and that kicks off an attack on humanity led by my controlled father.

MARK

So if your dad is with us, what happens with the robots?

MARK-2

The government takes care of it.

SARAH-2

Right.

MARK

Okay. That seems like an important thing to know, but I can see why you wouldn’t tell me. I’m incredibly stressed right now.

MARK-2

That’s why I didn’t tell him!

SARAH-2

Listen, you’ll be fine. Just know that the fate of the world depends on your dating skills.

MARK

Please stop talking like that.

Mark starts to take deep breaths.

MARK

Okay, okay. (exhales) So where are we?

SARAH-2

Earth-537. It’s similar to your universe.

MARK

Why here?

SARAH-2

This is a good place for you to hide out. You should stay here a couple weeks before going back to your homes.

MARK-2

Is there any way they’ll track us down?

SARAH-2

No, I destroyed all their files on you and I broke out a couple more criminals just to be safe. I think the two of you should just fall through the cracks.

MARK

Alright, cool.

SARAH-2

Take this and use it in three months to get back home.

Sarah-2 hands a second remote to Mark-2.

MARK-2

Thanks. (pause) Thanks for everything.

SARAH-2

Good luck getting home and getting the girls.

Sarah-2 walks off stage.

MARK

So what do we do now?

The lights fade out.

MORGAN FREEMAN (OS)

They wait. They watched a lot of TV over the next three months. Then they… oh, I’ll wrap this up, the play’s almost over.

SCENE 4

The lights fade in Mark-2 is sitting at a table outside of a restaurant. Mark walks on stage.

MARK-2

You know what today is?

MARK

What?

MARK-2

Today’s the day we get to go home.

MARK

Already! Awesome. So how do we do this?

MARK-2

I’ll get you back home. We’ll arrive right after we were taken away by the Time Cops. You’ll have to catch Sarah and do some damage control.

MARK

So I’ll get a second chance?

MARK-2

You’ll get a second chance.

MARK

And you won’t interfere this time?

MARK-2

Nope, not at all.

MARK

Then you’re going to go home and get your universe’s Sarah.

MARK-2

Yup.

MARK

We should totally turn our story into movies and get rich back home.

MARK-2

Who would go see that?

They turn and look at the audience then get back into the scene.

MARK-2

Okay, you ready?

MARK

I think so.

They stand up and hug.

MARK

Thanks for everything.

MARK-2

Sorry for putting you through all this.

MARK

Are you kidding? This has been the most fun I’ve ever had.

MARK-2

Glad to hear that something good came out of it.

MARK

Alright, let’s do this.

MARK-2

Good luck, man.

MARK

Good luck to you too.

The lights start to flash all different colors. Fade out and in.

SCENE 5

Sarah sits at the table in the café where the story started. She looks a little startled. Mark comes walking quickly into the café and sits down at the table

SARAH

You?! But, you-

MARK

I know!

SARAH

You were taken away and nobody saw-

MARK

I know!

SARAH

What happened?

MARK

It’s a long story.

SARAH

Where’d you go?

MARK

Court, jail, and another universe.

SARAH

How’d you get back here?

MARK

It doesn’t matter, I came back for you.

Lights out.

THE END

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