Chinese dumplings- A one act play.
Act 1-Scene 1:
[Enter a dimly lit room with a single table and chair. A wilted flower bouquet sits in a vase on the table. The smell of decay surrounds the place. An old African American man sits in the chair, staring out the dirty window.]
Mark: "I remember…" [He murmurs into the room.]
Mark: [sighs loudly]
Mark: [voice stronger now.] "The days when the hardship seemed to end. There was great joy, then even greater sorrow."
[A single light shines on the man's wrinkled face and white hair. He leans back in the chair, remembering.]
Mark: "My family is gone now. My wife, children, sisters and brothers, and parents. They have all gone away before me, to light the way."
Mark: [He shifts as if leaning towards something the audience cannot see]
Mark: "Life was simpler then…We were sharecroppers. Then we all moved, with our neighbors and friends, seeking safety in the North. Little did we know that safety would only come with death."
[Slow music comes from the corner of the room. The man stares off into the distance again, remembering.]
Mark: "We would sing as we slowly made the trek northwards. We stopped for a year in Colorado. It was nice there, but not the north. The call of freedom sang in our dreams. It haunted us always as we struggled."
Mark: "Now all I have is a porkpie hat, a few coupons for Chinese dumplings, and this ragged old apartment."
Mark: [Seems to come out of the past and looks around the room sadly.]
Mark: My wife and children used to run around this room baking cookies. I would come home to the sweet smell of chocolate, and the sound of Mary's [His wife] laughter.
Mark: "This tired world hates us Negros, doesn't it Mary." [He says softly.]
Mark: "It sure does hate us. I watched you grow old and die, after watching one child die at the hands of a gang, another die from Bronchitis, and the littlest…she had no chance to see hope, dying inside you. What a terrible thing it is, to watch your children die."
Mark: [starts to weep.]
Mark: "I hear their voices, Mary."
Mark: [Choked up.]
Mark: "I see them in my sleep."
Mark: "Calling to me; Come home, papa, come home."
Mark: "It tears at me."
Mark: [Strengthens his resolve]
Mark: "Why does the world hate us?"
Mark: "We did nothing wrong to the white men. Us and the Indians. All of us."
Mark: "All I see in my future is I going out into the cold Detroit night, no one caring."
Mark: "I go to that small Dumpling shop owned by the Wen Family on North Street. I get a table, the same one as always. I order the same thing, and eat in silence. Sally Wen clears my place and gives me a hopeless stare- so much oppression of joyous souls everywhere."
Mark: "I go back home, pulling the edges of my coat around me. I sleep in an empty bed, staring at your place on it. I wake up and find one of your hairs stuck in my pillow and sit aimlessly and sob, over all my losses. I then sit up and go to unconsciously wake up the children, then I realize they are gone. I stop dead in the hallway. Then I go to work, the same job, everything the same."
Mark: "Mr. Norris tells me to clear away that trash over in the corner, and I go help Old Man Wilders up off the floor, where the pained look on his face makes me tremble with rage. Holding it all in I say yes Sir and no Sir and do what I am told, all the time filling up with sinful rage. Oh, Mary."
Mark: [He pauses.]
Mark: "I want to come to you, but the good Lord says to wait. I can't come before my time, but I want to, Mary. I want to come to you."
Mark: [He pauses, glancing at the corners of the room.]
Mark: "This place closes in on me. It burns me. I am sad here."
Mark: I can't see another future, but the same as what I've already done."
Mark: "I'm weary…"
Mark: [his head falls to his hands.]
Mark: [Gets up slowly, bones creaking along with the chair. Walks to the door and steps out, Shuffling with his keys. He locks up and walks down the busy road, shoulders hunched. He walks down North Street and opens the door to the Dumpling shop. Stepping inside he looks around and sighs. The same thing as always.]
Mark: "Well Mary, I guess we can't escape ourselves, and our own personal hells."
[Sits down in the same places and orders the same thing. After he is done Sally Wen clears his place and he walks out into the cold, just as always.]