Normal

Cast

HOWARD GREEN: The main character.

THE PLAYERS

MALE: Plays Harvey (Howard's father) and occasionally Howard

FEMALE: Plays Jean (Howard's mother) and occasionally Linda, Howard's wife

CHILD: Plays Howard

(Spotlight on a bare stage. The Players stand in the back, facing upstage. Howard Green takes his place in the spotlight, and begins:)

Howard: Hi, my name is Howard Green. And I'm a normal person.

(Music begins. The Players turn around and take their places, each passing by him with a smile and a greeting- they apparently know him well.)

Female: Hey, Howard.

Male: Good to see you, Howard!

(Howard pays them no attention.)

Howard: I've always been a normal person, from the moment I was born – in an average hospital under average conditions. I was born to a mother and father who, to the best of my knowledge, lived their lives as model citizens and loved me very much.

(As Howard speaks, the players pantomime stages of his childhood: learning how to walk, playing with his parents, etc.)

They made sure to keep an eye on me…

(For a second, Howard loses track of his thoughts. He spaces out for a moment. Then, realizing what has happened, he assumes a neutral position and smiles as if nothing has gone wrong. We get the feeling something is not all right…)

… And made sure to take care of me in case anything went wrong.

(Beat)

Nothing went wrong, of course.

After all, my father would always tell me –

Male: (Taking on the role of the father) Always keep your eyes on the prize, son. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Howard: …Which would be helpful advice if I knew exactly what "the prize" was. Nonetheless, I myself tried to grow up to be exactly what they wanted – a functioning citizen of society.

(The child player then begins to "grow up", moving on from being dressed and cared for by the female and male players to taking care of himself. Eventually, the scene they portray becomes one of saying goodbye; the "mother" and "father" wishing him farewell while their son finally leaves the nest.)

Female: Do you have everything you need? Your books, your clothes, your laptop-

Male: He's going to be fine, Jean.

Female: Oh, and there's things you need to take care of… remember to always focus on your studies-

Male: (Slightly irritated) Jean…

Female: (Visibly flustered, almost on the verge of tears) –and brush your teeth… and comb your hair… and… and ride the bus safely, you hear?

Male: For once… don't listen to your mother. You'll be fine. Take care, kid.

Oh, and one more thing-

(Beat) Eyes on the prize.

(The scene dissolves, and the players align in a neutral position just as before. The attention is focused on Howard once more.)

Howard: I did what functioning citizens did, even with my mother and father no longer around to care for me. I brushed my teeth-

(The players pantomime brushing teeth)

Howard: -Combed my hair-

(The trio mimics combing hair)

Howard: -rode the bus and attended school with my eyes always on the prize.

And when I finished attending school-

Male: (taking the role of Howard's boss) He's a good man, that Howard. He's everything you want in an employee. Punctual, precise, powerful, he's the perfect business partner. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he was the perfect man.

(At this point, the male and female players gather to form a scene: Howard falling in love. They pantomime the two on a bus, subconsciously noticing each other until the moment they bump into one another.)

Howard: I even found myself a suitable wife.

(The two pantomime more scenes of falling in love. Meanwhile, the child, neglected, finds solace away from the other players and Howard.)

Male: (Playing Howard, to Female) you know, my father would always tell me…

Male & Howard: (Simultaneously) "Always keep your eyes on the prize."

Male: I never really knew what that meant, and right now, I'm still not sure… I'm not sure of a lot of things. But I know that whenever I'm with you, things are a little bit clearer. Maybe… maybe you can help me find out what it all means.

(The male gets down on one knee and pantomimes pulling out a ring)

Male & Howard: (Simultaneously) Linda, will you marry me?

(Beat)

Howard: (Solemnly) She was everything to me.

(The scene changes: the male player now takes the role of a priest while the female becomes an older, slightly more mature version of Howard's wife. She stands beside Howard while the priest begins with his recitation…)

Male: Friends, family, brothers and sisters before the Lord our Savior, we are gathered here today to join together…

(At this point, the child player stands to the side, and then begins to chant.)

Child: (Quietly at first) Prize, prize, prize, prize, prize…

Howard: I had everything a normal person would need, everything someone could even possibly consider a prize: a good job, a good education, a wife, a house, a family…

Male: May this couple be prepared to continue to give, to be able to forgive and experience more and more joy with each passing day, with each passing year…

Howard: … But something wasn't right.

Male: In sickness and in health… until death do you two part.

Howard: There were these… interruptions… that wouldn't let me live my life like any other.

Child: (growing louder) Prize… prize… prize…

Howard: Certain things that I would see and hear that "threw me out of my game," if you will.

(The male player begins to join along with the chant. They circle him, growing louder and louder)

Male & Child: Prize, prize prize…

Howard: In the end, no matter what I did, I'd never truly be normal. I'd never get my prize… never get to be that functioning citizen society always wanted me to be as long as those-those voices kept bothering me.

Female: Howard, you're scaring me. What's going on? You're… you're spacing out saying all of this nonsense… Howard, are you listening to me? Howard? (her voice climbs higher, almost shrieking) Howard?

Howard: I needed to get rid of the voices.

(The Players freeze)

Howard: So I did.

(They drop to the floor, limp. Howard smiles.)

(Blackout)