DROWNING IN GREY
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8
Cast of Characters:
BEKAH: a spirited sixteen year old girl
JEFF: a diplomatic, athletic sixteen year old boy
TRAVIS: an athletic, determined eighteen year old boy
GREG: an angry eighteen year old boy
ZACH: a confused seventeen year old boy
Stairs are standing profile at center stage. A landing is at the top (stage left) with doors, and one at the bottom. Doors on the bottom landing open downstage. Upstage traveler is drawn to edges of the set. Wall backing the stairs should be decorated with signs and posters encouraging tolerance and peace. Something indicates the year 2028—either a calendar or a 'class of' bulletin. Characters will enter from both doors, so escape stairs lead off stage from both doors.
Beneath the upper stairs (stage left) there is a room. This should be dressed as a boiler room, or something similar. It should be a shadowy, sketchy place. A door on the upstage wall leads "outside" (backstage.) One metal folding chair leans against the wall in the stage right corner of the room.
The room is blacked out and the stairs are lit blue from upstage, so BEKAH is silhouetted, sitting on the stairs. After a moment, full lights come up on the stairs.
BEKAH: head bowed, praying God, thank You so much all the amazing people in my life... For the courageous kids who meet here everyday after school to grow in Your love. Thank You especially for that brave, amazing boy... but please don't let Travis get kicked out of school—he's just trying to stand up for Your people… Please don't let him do anything stupid...
JEFF:enters from stage left doors Hey Bekah, what's up?
BEKAH:startled, looks up at JEFF, who comes to sit next to her Jeff! Way to give me a heart attack.
JEFF:laughs, teasing I'm not the one violating the peace of the school…
BEKAH:shoves him playfully Praying is not a threat to society—I don't care what the handbook says!
JEFF:I know, I know. Just be careful—we don't want you to end up like your boyfriend.
BEKAH:alarmed Is Travis okay? Did they actually suspend him?
JEFF:I was just kidding—chill out. Why would they suspend Travis?
BEKAH:Ms. Roberts sent him to the administrator for wearing a cross to class. She wants to get him kicked out of the school.
JEFF:They can't do that—it's a free country. We have rights too…
BEKAH:Free country, Jeff? Please tell me that was a bad joke… indignantly Our rights depend on our willingness to tolerate anything and everything as "possible truth." I'm sick of being tolerant, Jeff… Aren't you?
JEFF:trying to calm her downTolerance is just a word… It's not really the problem…
BEKAH:shakes head, sadly No, I guess you're right. Twenty years ago it was a great thing: just accept people as people, even if you don't agree with them… quiets, looking down
JEFF:prompting her But now…?
BEKAH:lapsing back into frustration Now they've twisted it to mean something totally different. It's the absence of absolutes: no good, no bad, no black and white… We're all drowning in grey and calling it tolerance! I'm sick of it, Jeff! We claim the one truth and forfeit the rest of our lives: peace, friends, education… everything!
JEFF:You're still upset about Liz, aren't you?
BEKAH:Of course I am! You should be too!
JEFF:I agree, it wasn't fair, but what can we do about it...?
BEKAH:We could do something! Liz is the smartest kid in this school and everyone knows it. She's wanted to be a doctor since she could talk, and now she can't get into a single school, just because she said she was a Christian on her college applications!
JEFF:She made the choice to write that there…. She knew they wouldn't like it.
BEKAH:angrily Whose side are you on, Jeff? What do you want—for all of us to just hide away and wait for the world to end? Or maybe we should just let everyone walk all over us! pauses At least Travis tries to stand up for his faith!
JEFF:And where is he now?
Lights come up on empty basement room. Door swings open and TRAVIS stumbles in, blindfolded. His hands are duct taped behind his back. GREG and ZACH enter behind him. GREG is clearly the leader behind this plan.
TRAVIS:Where are we? What's going on?
GREG:discards backpack in the corner and drags folding chair to center of the room. Have a seat, Travis.
ZACH pushes TRAVIS into the seat and takes off blindfold. TRAVIS should be made up to look like he's taken a beating.
TRAVIS:looks at ZACH and GREG Seriously, Zach? Greg? What is this, some kind of joke?
GREG:No joke, Trav. locks door We're dead serious.
TRAVIS:What is this about? Guys, we've been friends since the third grade. If there's an issue, you don't have to drag me off to the school basement to tell me about it.
ZACH:bitterly Not anymore, man, now that you've decided to be one of those Christians…
GREG:But don't worry; we're giving you this one chance to renounce your intolerant ways and join the Universal Family. grins, evilly. Or you can stick to your archaic prejudices and pay the price.
TRAVIS:somewhat panicking I'm not going to apologize for what I believe!
GREG:We'll see about that.
ZACH:quietly, to GREG Is this really a good idea, Greg? What if someone finds out, or he tells someone?
GREG:confidently If someone finds out, they'll thank us.
ZACH:glancing nervously between GREG and TRAVIS Are you sure you really want to stick with your God, Travis? It doesn't have to be like this…
TRAVIS:quietly No, it doesn't…
GREG:hits TRAVIS Shut up!
TRAVIS:urgently Zach, listen to me. You don't have to do this… What do you think this is going to change? You think you can beat my faith out of me? It doesn't work like that.
GREG:hits TRAVIS again I said shut up! We don't want to hear it.
TRAVIS:boldly You may not, but I think Zach does. to ZACH I don't know what you've heard, but it's probably not true. God is about grace and forgiveness, not sending people to hell. He died to save us from that.
GREG:And now you can die for him. hits TRAVIS Wanna be a martyr, Travis? crosses to stage right corner of room to retrieve backpack. Pulls out a gun.
ZACH:Greg! No way, man—I'm not going to be a part of this. tries to leave You said we were gonna beat him up, not kill him!
GREG:grabs ZACH's arm, glares at him Fine, go—but you know I'm right about this. His God is a threat to the wellbeing of society—he's practically a terrorist, sending all but his chosen ones to hell. We're doing the world a favor, and if you don't have the stomach for it, well, fine. Go home.
ZACH crosses to door
But if you ever breathe a word… you're next.
ZACH:looks back to TRAVIS I'm sorry, man. I'm sorry. runs out
GREG:glares at door, then returns attention to TRAVIS Well, Travis, I guess it's time to find out if your God really loves you after all…
TRAVIS:Greg, don't do this.
GREG:Why? Afraid you might be wrong, after all?
TRAVIS:No… No, I'm not afraid.
GREG:aims gun at TRAVIS Pauses and lowers gun On second thought… grins I have a better idea. Get up.
TRAVIS doesn't move
waves gun at him I said get up!
TRAVIS stands, trying to hide his fear
Go to the back of the gym.
GREG:Isn't that where you meet the rest of your God-friends after school?
TRAVIS:horrified No Greg. Please just leave them alone. Can't we finish this here?
GREG:opens the door and pushes TRAVIS back stage laughing Beggars can't be choosers. follows TRAVIS through the door and shuts it behind him
blackout on basement.
lights up on BEKAH and JEFF on stairs
BEKAH:It's been an hour, Jeff… where is he?
JEFF:Is Travis ever on time for anything? Don't worry so much.
BEKAH:I know. I'm sure you're right, it's just—
stage right door swings open. TRAVIS stumbles in, followed by GREG, gun in hand.
BEKAH AND JEFF: ad lib Travis! Oh my God, Travis, are you okay? Greg, what's going on?
GREG:Shut up, both of you! pushes TRAVIS to his knees to JEFF and BEKAH Stand against the wall.
BEKAH and JEFF obey
To TRAVIS Pick one.
GREG:I said pick one. As in choose. Who gets to live, who gets to die?
TRAVIS:horrified I can't—I can't do that.
GREG:You don't really have a choice, do you?
TRAVIS:nearly crying Let them go. Please, just take me and let them go!
GREG:If you don't choose one… I'll kill both of them… and we'll see how much you really believe in heaven.
TRAVIS:breaking down I can't… Please, I can't… to JEFF and BEKAH I'm so sorry.
he looks up
Travis, honey… it's okay. It's alright, Trav. None of this your fault. We knew this could happen… Struck down but not destroyed, remember?
TRAVIS:shaking his head I'm sorry. I'm so sorry…
BEKAH:kneels next to TRAVIS I'm not.
JEFF:Bekah's right. It's time we take a stand for our faith. kneels on TRAVIS' other side
BEKAH:bows her head See you later, guys.
JEFF:bows head Later.
GREG:I said shut up! Time's up, Travis. Now choose!
bring in red lighting, so the four characters are black silhouettes against the red-lit stairs
simultaneously: gunshot and blackout