MUSED Literary Magazine.
Plays

The Plant of Realization

Suzanne Saunders

Appropriate for all ages

CAST LIST:

Mr. Wilkinson: The family lawyer, age is 60 plus.

Bonnie Bradford*: The sister of Frank, Barbara, and Sharon. She is 40 plus and Billís wife.

Tara Bradford: College age daughter of Bonnie and Bill.

Bill Bradford: Bonnieís husband, age is 40 plus, and works as a CPA.

Frank Williams*: The brother of Bonnie, Barbara, and Sharon He is 50 plus and a doctor.

Sherri Williams: Frankís wife, age is 50 plus.

Sharon Matheson*: Widow in her 50s who works as a nurse and is the sister of Bonnie, Frank, and Barbara. She lives with Barbara and Andy.

Barbara Hunter*: The sister of Bonnie, Frank, and Sharon. She is 40 plus and Andyís wife.

Andy Hunter: Barbaraís husband, age is 40 plus.

*Frank, Sharon, Bonnie, and Barbara are siblings from the Williams family.



TIME & PLACE:
Middle America anytime within the last thirty years.

ACT I, Scene 1:

SETTING:
BONNIEís living room. Immediate family members have gathered after the memorial service of Lydia Williams, the mother of Bonnie, Frank, Sharon, and Barbara.

BEFORE RISE:
[Family members are chatting.]

AT RISE:
[Thereís a knock on the door. BONNIE approaches the door to answer it.]

MR. WILKINSON: [Mr. Wilkinson enters the living room, holding a plant]
It was a lovely service, Bonnie.

BONNIE: Thank you, Mr. Wilkinson. Come on in.

MR. WILKINSON: I have something for you.
[He hands her the plant]

BONNIE: Oh, thank you. Thatís so kind of you.
[She takes it and sets it on a nearby table]

MR. WILKINSON: Itís not from me. Itís from your mother.

BONNIE: What?

MR. WILKINSON: Itís a gift from your mother to all of you.

[He pulls a piece of paper out of his pocket]

Excuse me, I need everyoneís attention. I have a special message from the dearly departed Mrs. Williams, mother to Bonnie, Frank, Sharon, and Barbara. She wrote a letter with special instructions that she wanted me to read to you.

[He reads the letter]

Dear Family,
It is with a loving heart that in addition to the rest of my estate, I leave a special gift with you. Mr. Wilkinson has been instructed to read this letter and bring you a plant. This plant is not a plant of condolences, but a gift from me to you. I was given this plant years ago, and for unknown reasons, it has out lived me. When I was given this plant, I was told that it had the ability to help a person come to a clear decision when faced with a dilemma. Through the years, the presence of this plant has helped me determine what is the best course I should take in life when I have been confronted with a crisis. Maybe itís just the power of suggestion or wishful thinking, but I am now passing it onto you to care for it since I no longer can. However, I have a request: I want each of my children to take care of it for three months out of the year. By rotating where it resides, no one is left caring for it full-time. I hope it brings to you the peace of mind that it brought to me.
Love you all,
Mama

BONNIE: Mr. Wilkinson, is this for real? The importance of this plant? Itís just a plant. I mean, of course weíll take care of it, but Iím stunned by this.

BARBARA: Mamaís last sentiment to us is to watch over a plant? A plant that will help us make decisions? Iíve never heard of such a thing.

BONNIE: Well, Mama did say it could just be the power of suggestion or wishful thinking, so I think weíll leave it at that.

FRANK: [Leaning towards Bill, he says under his breath to Bill]
Early onset dementia.
[He points to his head]

SHARON: I think itís sweet that this plant was so important to her that she wanted it to be cared for after she was gone.

BARBARA: Sharon, you canít keep sugar coating everything. Face it. Mom was losing it near the end.

BONNIE: Regardless, I think we should honor her request, and we all take care of the plant just like she asked.
[Everyone agrees to comply]
Okay. Then, we are all in agreement. I will take it the first three months, then Frank will take it the next three months, and Barbara and Sharon will take it for the rest of the year since Sharon is living with Barbara and Andy. Good, then. We have it all settled: the plant will be cared for.

Lights Down
ACT I, Scene 2:

SETTING:
BONNIEís living room. Bonnie says good bye to the last family member as Tara, Bonnieís daughter, waits patiently for her.

BEFORE RISE:
[Plant is on table, visible to the audience.]
AT RISE:
[Bonnie is saying good bye to the last guest leaving her living room.]

TARA: Mom, I know that it may not be a good time to talk to you about something right now, but itís really important.

BONNIE: Sure, honey. What is it?

TARA: Itís about school.

BONNIE: Oh, Tara, Iím so glad you took time off to make it to Mamaís memorial service. Not everybody was able to come, but you did. I know that making this trip wasnít easy, disrupting your college classes and all.
[Bonnie clasps Taraís hands in hers]

TARA: But, thatís just it, mom. It wasnít any trouble. Iím glad to be here for you, but Iím also here for another reason.

BONNIE: Whatís that?

TARA: To tell you that Iím dropping out of college.

BONNIE: Oh, my. I didnít expect to hear that.
[Bonnie releases her hands from Taraís]

TARA: Iíve put a lot of thought into it, and college just isnít for me.

BONNIE: Then, what is for you?

TARA: I want to tell you and dad at the same time.

BONNIE: Are you sure about this? This is a big decision that can change the course of your life.

TARA: Exactly, and thatís why Iím doing it. Itís what I have to do.

BONNIE: Why do you want to drop out?

TARA: College isnít for me. The environment is full of students who donít want to learn anything. All they want to do is party, and I donít fit in. Iíll never survive it.

BONNIE: I see.

BILL: [Bill enters the room after talking to the last guests out front]
Well, everyone is on their way. Bonnie, your mother would have loved her service.
[He notices that Bonnie seems distressed and hugs her. He thinks itís because of the passing of her mother but itís because of Tara wanting to quit college]
Hey, everything will be fine. Your mother lived a long, wonderful life.

BONNIE: Bill, Tara has something to tell us.

BILL: Sure, Tara, what is it?

TARA: Dad, Iím dropping out of college.

BILL: Dropping out of college? But, what about your plans to be a CPA and work at my firm? Are you sure you want to give that all up?

TARA: Yes, Iím sure. I have to be honest with myself: I donít want college, and I donít want to be a CPA.

BILL: What will you do with your life?

TARA: I want to join the Peace Corps.

BILL: The Peace Corps? Thatís admirable, honey, but the Peace Corps? Do you know what that means?

TARA: Yes, it means I will be going to a foreign country to help others understand other cultures and promote peace.

BONNIE: Another country? But where?

TARA: Latin America.

BILL: Tara, this is so sudden. Are you sure youíre not being hasty about this decision?

TARA: No, dad. Itís perfect for me. Iím fluent in Spanish, and Iíve already been to Venezuela, so I am familiar with the culture.

BILL: It sounds like youíve made up your mind.

TARA: Yes, I have.

BILL: Is there anything we can say that would change your mind?

TARA: No, dad. Iím set on my decision. Iím an adult now, and I can do this on my own without your approval, but Iíd rather have your approval, if thatís possible.

BONNIE: Thatís possible.
[She smiles]

BILL: [His body language implies defeat or disappointment]
Curtain Down
###

ACT II, Scene 1:

SETTING:
FRANK AND SHERRIíS dining room.

BEFORE RISE:
[Plant is on the dining table, visible to the audience.]

AT RISE:
[SHERRI is pouring water in glasses while FRANK puts their plates on the table.]

SHERRI: [Setting down the pitcher of water on the table]
Did you hear that Tara was accepted into the Peace Corps?

FRANK: No, thatís great news. I knew she had applied and went through the whole interview process, but I didnít know that she was accepted.

SHERRI: [She brings a casserole dish over to the table and sets it down]
Yeah, she was, but I think Bonnie and Bill had still hoped she would change her mind. They really wanted her to finish college.

FRANK: [He sets a basket of rolls on the table]
I understand. I donít know what I would have thought if any of our kids decided to not finish school. At least the Peace Corps is a worthy cause.

SHERRI: [She sits down at the table to eat dinner]
It is but the idea of Tara being in another country just seems like so much change. Why would she want to go to another country when there is so much here?

FRANK: [He sits down at the table to eat dinner]
Change can be a good thing.

SHERRI: I suppose. Hey, Iím glad you made it back early today. It was nice to have your help.

FRANK: Iím glad to help, but I came back early for a reason.

SHERRI: Oh, is everything okay?

FRANK: Yeah, I think so. I just want to talk to you about something thatís important to me that I think should be important to you, too.

SHERRI: And that isÖ?

FRANK: Our life together. What we do from here on out.

SHERRI: Youíre worrying me, Frank, I donít get where youíre going with this.

FRANK: I think we need a change.

SHERRI: [She sets her fork down, indicating a loss of appetite]
Change. What kind of change?

FRANK: I think we need a change. Weíre in a routine, Sherri, and I think we need to do something about it. Every day during the week, I go to the clinic and work ten hour days, seeing patients. I come home and sit with you for about two hours, and then, the day is over.

SHERRI: I donít think our life is so bad.

FRANK: Iím not finished. Then, on the weekends when I have time off, youíre always gone at a fundraiser or volunteering somewhere.

SHERRI: I didnít know that bothered you.

FRANK: Well, it doesnít bother me. It just means our lives are out of sync. How long are we going to go on like this before we do something about it?

SHERRI: I resent that you think weíre in a rut.

FRANK: I didnít say ďrut.Ē I said weíre in a ďroutine.Ē

SHERRI: Same thing.

FRANK: I disagree.

SHERRI: So, what are you trying to say? That because weíre in a ďroutineĒ we need to change? And, what does making a change mean to you, Frank? I know what it means to me. It means separation.

FRANK: Slow down, Sherri. Thatís not where Iím going with this at all.

SHERRI: Then give me some clarification on where you are going with this because things are pretty murky to me.

FRANK: I want to take some time off so that we can travel.

SHERRI: What? You want to take time off to travel? For how long?

FRANK: Six months.

SHERRI: Six months? Are you serious? What about your position at the clinic?

FRANK: When we come back, Iíll work as a contracted physician instead of as an employee.

SHERRI: Is there something youíre not telling me? Is your health okay?

FRANK: My health is fine. This isnít a bucket list thing. Itís just something I want to do while we still can.

SHERRI: Then, this is for real? You want to travel for six months?

FRANK: Yes.

SHERRI: Where? Where would we go?

FRANK: New Zealand. Australia. We could hike, go horseback riding, and maybe even learn to surf.

SHERRI: That sounds exciting, but I canít see how we can do that.

FRANK: Believe me, Sherri, itís possible. The only obstacle is ourselves, so if we want to do it, we can.

SHERRI: This is a lot for me to process. You know how I donít like change. What will I do about the committees Iím involved with?

FRANK: That shouldnít be too difficult. You just make a few phone calls and find someone else to step in for you. How many committees are you in?

SHERRI: [Sherri makes a face and shrugs her shoulders, showing reluctance to divulge the number]

FRANK: How many? Three?

SHERRI: [She nods her head, ďNo.Ē]

FRANK: Four or five?

SHERRI: [She nods her head, ďNo,Ē again]

FRANK: Iím afraid to guess any higher. You gotta tell me.

SHERRI: [She takes a deep breath]
Iím involved with twelve.

FRANK: Twelve? See, this is what Iím talking about. Weíre so out-of-sync that I didnít even know you were in twelve committees.

SHERRI: I suppose youíre right. Maybe we need to do something together. But, wow, six months.

FRANK: Well, maybe itís time to embrace change. When weíre on our trip, you can fill me in on all of the committees youíre involved with.

Curtains Down
###

ACT III, Scene 1:

SETTING:
BARBARAíS kitchen.

BEFORE RISE:
[Plant is on the kitchen counter, visible to the audience.]

AT RISE:
[BARBARA and SHARON are bringing groceries in and setting them on the kitchen counter.]

BARBARA: Thereís nothing like tomatoes in the summer.

SHARON: Absolutely. Tomatoes and corn on the cobb.

BARBARA: The two must have summer foods.
[Barbara looks through the mail she had in her hands]
Hey, we got a postcard from Frank and Sherri. They are currently making their way from New Zealand to Australia.

SHARON: Iím so glad Sherri agreed to go. Frank was so excited about this trip.

BARBARA: You know, I canít believe Sherri had to think about it. If I was offered a trip to New Zealand and Australia, Iíd have my bags packed faster than a dog devouring a bone.

SHARON: Iím with you on that!
[They both laugh]
I think change is a good thing. In fact, I have had some ideas for change on my mind.

BARBARA: Really? What would you change? Iím asking because youíve already gone through so much change withÖ

SHARON: Yes, I know since I lost Darryl, which I want to say, letting me live with you these past three years has been a great help so much so that Iíve put a lot of thought into what I want to do with my life, and seeing Frank make such a bold move has inspired me.

BARBARA: In what way?

SHARON: After Darryl passed away, I felt at a loss in so many ways. Not only did I lose Darryl, but I lost my sense of purpose. When he had his stroke, I thought, I could handle it. After all, I am a nurse. Iíve cared for stroke patients, and I thought all would be good. But, when he came down with pneumonia, his health deteriorated so quickly and nothing could be done.

BARBARA: Pneumonia can take a personís life unexpectedly, especially when theyíre over forty.

SHARON: I know, and I tell myself that, but losing him made me feel like I had failed him.

BARBARA: No, you didnít fail him. You and the doctors did everything you could. He was in good hands.

SHARON: Itís something I still wrestle with within myself, but it has brought me to the conclusion that I donít want to be a nurse anymore. I donít want to be around sick people. I donít want to re-live Darrylís illness every day that I am at the hospital.

BARBARA: Then, what do you want to do?

SHARON: Youíll think Iím crazy, but I want to run a dog rescue for small dogs.

BARBARA: Whoa! What?

SHARON: See. You think Iím crazy.

BARBARA: No. No, I donít. I just wasnít expecting to hear you say that. Besides, you already have a small kennel with your three Jack Russell Terriers, Larry, Moe, and Curly.

SHARON: But thatís why I want to do it. They bring me happiness. I know that running a rescue can bring its share of heartbreak, but I think itís a new chapter of my life that I need to begin.

BARBARA: How would you do this? Wouldnít the start-up costs be a little much for you?

SHARON: No, not really because I would be taking over a rescue already in operation. A woman I know named Liz, sheís in my Bunco group, said she wants to retire from it and just be a part-time volunteer. So, I told her Iíd be interested in taking it over for her. She said she has grants established to help cover costs, and that she would coach me on running fundraisers.

BARBARA: Wow. It sounds like everything is all set then if you want to pursue this.

SHARON: It is and I will. Iím going through with it.

Lights Down


ACT III, Scene 2:

SETTING:
BARBARA and ANDYíS dining room.

BEFORE RISE:
[Plant is on the dining table, visible to the audience.]

AT RISE:
[BARBARA, ANDY and SHARON are playing cards. Itís evening and about a month after SHARON has taken over the dog rescue. Note: Actors can determine the card game]

BARBARA: I think Iím beating you two.

ANDY: I think youíre both beating me.

SHARON: Well, itís in the cards as to who will end up the winner.

ANDY: So, Sharon, from what I can tell, it seems like the dog rescue adventure has been going well for you.

SHARON: It has been going well. When I get up in the morning, Iím excited to see all their faces and their appreciation. I know some people would disagree with me, but I really do believe animals that have been rescued appreciate the rescuers.

ANDY: I wouldnít disagree with you on that. I think they do.

SHARON: Iím really glad that I took the leap and pursued something that helped uplift me as a person. Being a nurse was very rewarding, donít get me wrong, but it became very hard for me to continue after Darrylís situations.

ANDY: We understand.

BARBARA: Iím glad you took the leap, too, Sharon.

[BARBARA pauses, preparing to change the subject]

You know how Frank taking his trip inspired you?

SHARON: Yes, it gave me the courage to be honest with myself and go after what I really wanted.

BARBARA: [She sets down her cards]
Well, you taking over the dog rescue has been inspirational to me, and I have to admit, I love going down there and helping. Itís meant a lot to me to be a part of it. With that said, I have something I want to share with the both of you.

SHARON: Sure. Does it have to do with the rescue?

BARBARA: Sort of. It has to do with a secret passion I have.

ANDY: Take cover. Here comes the bomb.

SHARON: And, whatís that?

BARBARA: As you know, I counsel troubled youth, so I am more in tune with the culture of the youth.

ANDY: Fasten your seat belts. Itís going to be a bumpy ride.

BARBARA: I have been attending slam poetry readings with my friend Vicki, and I have decided that I want to compete in slam poetry competitions.

SHARON: Do you really? I think thatís great.

ANDY: No comment.

BARBARA: I donít know how familiar you are with it, but itís poetry that is meant to be read aloud and with passion.

ANDY: I think Iíll call my first poem, ďSpeechless.Ē

BARBARA: Attending the competitions and watching as a spectator has sparked my desire to write and read my poetry to others. But, thereís more to it.

SHARON: Whatís that?

BARBARA: I think we can hold a slam poetry competition to help raise money for the rescue. The theme will be ďHelping Small Paws.Ē What do you think?

SHARON: I love it!

BARBARA: I wrote a poem. Would you like to hear it?

SHARON: Absolutely.

ANDY: Yes, Iíd like to hear this.

BARBARA: [She stands up and takes a piece of paper out of her pocket]
Now, remember. Itís slam poetry, so I have to read it with passion.
[She psyches herself up to go into the ďzoneĒ of a slam poet]
[She reads her poem]
My poem is called A Dogís Life
A Dogís life is what you say
When nothing goes your way.
Worn soles and worn paws
Walking the pavement with tired jaws.
Roaming the streets, alone and scared
You ask if anyone out there has ever cared.
But, there is a place for those in need
For those lost, looking for a place to keep.
Itís a place for you and your little paws
Where love and peace rule the law
A place called Ďhome for little paws.

SHARON: [Sharon applauds her]
Letís do it, Barbara. Letís have this fundraiser.

ANDY: [Andy nods his head in approval]

Curtains Down

###

ACT VI, Scene 1:

SETTING:
BONNIE AND BILLíS living room.

BEFORE RISE:
[All family members are present in the living room, visiting.]

AT RISE:
[BARBARA is setting the plant down on a table in the living room as Bonnie watches. All other family members are present and chatting.]

BARBARA: Here you go Bonnie. Itís your turn.

BONNIE: Thank you, Barbara.
[BONNIE studies the plant]
Barbara, do you think Mama was right: That this plant has powers?

BARBARA: No, I think she was losing it.

BONNIE: I suppose. I just wondered because so much has happened over the past year.

BILL: [Bill walks up to Barbara and Bonnie]
Bonnie, I think itís all coincidental. Itís just been a busy year for everybody.
[He turns to Frank]
Frank, what do you think about the plant? Does it have powers?
[Bill moves his fingers like magic fingers, mocking the idea]

FRANK: Well, as a doctor, I would say the plant has no magical powers, but from a psychological viewpoint, Iíd say that maybe the plant can influence people through the power of suggestion, but thatís a stretch. Itís just a plant.

SHARON: [SHARON steps in]
How can you say that? This plant was special to Mama. That means itís connected to her in some way.

BARBARA: Are you trying to say that the plant has a cosmic connection Mama?
[BARBARA rolls her eyes]
Sharon, do you hear yourself?

SHARON: Iím just saying it has a connection to Mama. Itís like when you hold something that belonged to her, donít you feel a connection?
[They all begin to debate the powers of the plant]

ANDY: [ANDY interrupts the arguing]
I have a confession to make!

BARBARA: A confession?

BONNIE: What is it, Andy? Is everything okay?

ANDY: It was me.

BARBARA: What do you mean by that?

ANDY: I gave Lydia the plant.
[Everyone gasps]

BARBARA: You gave Mama the plant? And, you didnít tell us? Why?

ANDY: I was trying to help her cope with her memory loss. She felt unconfident about making decisions because of it. So, I got her a plant and I told her would help her make decisions.

BARBARA: Thatís crazy. Where did you get the plant?

ANDY: From K-Mart.

BARBARA: You mean to say this whole big-to-do is about a plant from K-Mart?

ANDY: Yep. But, she loved it when I gave it to her. I thought of getting her a dog, but at her age and condition, I thought that wouldnít be a good idea, so I got her a plant.
[ANDY smiles]

BARBARA: I canít believe what Iím hearing.
[ALL CAST MEMBERS begin to look at the plant]

BONNIE: But, do you think it might have something to it. We all made some big decisions this last year.

BILL: Bonnie, Andy said it was all made up by him.

SHARON: But, you have to admit, there is something special about this plant.

BARBARA: Sharon, there you go again, falling for this mumbo-jumbo stuff.

SHARON: I would think with you being a slam poet now, you would be more open minded to the idea, especially when it was your husband who came up with the scheme.

FRANK: Sharon, this doesnít have to do with being open minded. It has to do with believing in nonsense.

ANDY: Hey, you guys. You donít have to worry about it anymore. You can do whatever you want with the plant, unless you just want to keep it for your motherís sake.
[He turns to Bonnie]
Bonnie, what do you think? It would be your turn to take care of it. Do you want to take care of it for the next three months, or do you want me to take it outside? I didnít mean for this to cause so much trouble.

FRANK: You didnít cause any trouble, Andy. We appreciate that you were just trying to help mom.

BONNIE: Andy, if itís okay with you, I want to take care of it.
[She looks the plant over]
You know, it kind of grows on you.
[She smiles]
No pun intended.

[ALL CAST MEMBERS laugh]

Curtains Down

###

NOTE: If the director wishes to add a dramatic effect at the end, a single spotlight can be placed on the plant, using a special filter to give it a mystical aura before the curtain goes down.