Screen Time

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A legendary screen actress GERALDINE in her nineties has a discussion with her assistant JAMESON about the state of the industry as she knows it.

Geraldine: Jameson, get my coat.

(Jameson brings Geraldine her coat, helps her put it on)

Thank you.

(Geraldine remains still)

Jameson: What’s wrong, Miss?

Geraldine: Do I look alright?

Jameson: Ravishing, Madam.

Geraldine: I don’t feel ravishing, I feel repulsive!

Jameson: You are legendary.

Geraldine: I’m forgotten.  Let us forget all these shenanigans, shall we?  I’m old and I’m forgotten.  Everyone I ever knew in this town has died or is on a respirator of some kind.  I’ve become an old maid.

Jameson: Nonsense.  You are a respected lady and have a legacy spanning seventy-five years.

Geraldine: That is a long time, isn’t it?

Jameson: Quite.  Who you are and what you’ve done will be secured in the history books, Madam.

Geraldine: I did my best, James…I’ve done my best.

Jameson: Women around the world look up to you.  They admire your strength.

Geraldine: Yes, yes.  (beat) I’m not going.

(She takes off her coat and gloves)

This is all becoming so preposterous.  I’m not going down to the studio begging for a part.  Just because the scripts have stopped coming my way, does not mean I need to grovel.  Isn’t that right Jameson?

Jameson: Certainly.  Allow me to hang up your coat and put away your gloves.

(Jameson takes coat and gloves from Geraldine)

Geraldine: Times have changed.  I don’t recognize this world anymore.  It’s frightening.  The role models of today are famous from repugnant actions.  I’m living in troubling times.

(Jameson brings Geraldine an alcoholic beverage)

Did you hear me?

Jameson: Troubling times.

Geraldine: That’s right.  Despicable.  All that I’ve fought for throughout all those years.  You think other actresses would hold themselves up to those higher standards.  Now it’s all getting shattered with nudity and oh, what women must face today to get some screen time.  It’s my fault.  I should have started my own studio.  I should have built a committee so women would be respected and treated fairly, equally.  I’m much to old now to take up the fight.  All that remains is my work but I am not so sure it will last or have an impact for future generations of women to come.

Jameson: You musn’t talk that way, Madam.

Geraldine: James, I am a relic.  Look at me!  Don’t you think I see it?  Don’t you think I know it?  I’m a buffoon.  Someone who is past her prime.  I should have been wiped out years ago.  Don’t quite understand why I’m even still here.

Jameson: I am saddened when you talk this way.

Geraldine: We both are.  We still speak as if we are living in the nineteen-twenties, aren’t we?

(Geraldine chuckles)

Jameson: I like the way we speak.

Geraldine: It’s like we’ve been frozen in time while the world continues to spin, continues to turn over new ideas, talent but…shouldn’t value and integrity continue to exist?

Jameson: Why—

Geraldine: Shouldn’t there be self-respect?  I feel as though we are going backwards…a bunch of cowboy and indian movies penetrating our world.  All wrong.  All untrue.

Jameson: Perhaps you would like to take your afternoon nap.

(Geraldine downs her drink)

Geraldine: Another, will you James?

(James takes her glass, fixes her drink)

Yes, I am rotting away into the big dark abyss, to peacefully fade away…forgotten.  How fashionable.

(Jameson brings drink to Geraldine)

That is what they want, isn’t it? For me to fade away quietly?  I do have my second thoughts about being so quiet.  No.  I won’t be quiet.  I’m going to march right over to Parkers and give them all a peace of my mind!  I am still on the honorary board.  Surely, that counts for something.

Jameson: Would Madam like for me to get her coat and gloves?

Geraldine: Ha!  I’ll show them.  Let them know how far we’ve come.  Let them know that it’s more than, than…

(Geraldine sits)

Oh…feeling a bit fuzzy.

Jameson: You are tired, Madam.  I will fix–

Geraldine: No, no.  Here is fine.  Let me rest right here.  Tomorrow…tomorrow we will march and fight for our rights…

(Jameson takes her glass)

(Geraldine passes out on the couch)

Joseph Arnone

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