SHANTAY: A Frustrated and angry teenage girl
AHASBAI: Middle-aged, warm counselor
(The stage is entirely black except for a spotlight over a chair and couch stage right, set up like a psychiatrist’s office. The chair is occupied by DOCTOR AHASBAI. The couch remains empty. Footsteps are heard as SHANTAY enters, and stops to knock at the office door. )
AHASBAI: (Rising) Come in, come in. (Motions to shake SHANTAY’S hand. She refuses and flops on the couch abruptly) Please . . . have a seat.
SHANTAY: (To herself) He thinks he’s funny.
AHASBAI: Shantay, how are you doing today?
SHANTAY: I’m not crazy.
AHASBAI: No one said you were, Shantay.
SHANTAY: Oh, really? They didn’t? Then why the hell did they send me to the psych ward, huh?
AHASBAI: (laughing kindly) Shantay, this isn’t the psych ward. You’re not in a hospital, and you certainly aren’t crazy. I’m just a counselor. Your parents brought you to me because they’re concerned about you.
SHANTAY: (scoffs) Yeah, real concerned.
AHASBAI: You don’t think they’re concerned?
SHANTAY: Not about me.
AHASBAI: What makes you say that?
SHANTAY: (quickly) Uh, I don’t know.
AHASBAI: Do you think there’s another reason they’ve brought you here?
SHANTAY: I don’t know. (getting increasingly agitated)
AHASBAI: Did you parents talk to you at all about coming here?
SHANTAY: Look!—if all you want to do is talk about my damn parents, then I’m done with this. (Gets up abruptly and stomps toward the door).
AHASBAI: Shantay— Shantay, wait. (Rises, motions with arm toward the couch) Have a seat. Forget about your parents. Let’s talk about something else.
(SHANTAY waits a moment, then walks back to the couch slowly and sits down.)
SHANTAY: Fine. I’m here. What do you want me to say?
AHASBAI: Well, how about we talk about what happened at school yesterday.
SHANTAY: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
AHASBAI: Shantay, we both know that you know what I’m talking about. Tell me what happened with your teacher yesterday. You went into class after school to make up some work you missed. (Checks notepad) Some work you missed while skipping class.
(Lights over AHASBAI’S office dim.)
END SCENE 1
(Lights go up over stage left. The scene is set as a classroom with a large desk at the front of the “class” and several smaller desks for students. MRS. PHO leans on her desk as she talks with MRS. BARTOK)
MRS. PHO: Tell me about it. She’s coming in today to make up the third test she’s skipped this semester.
MRS. BARTOK: Seriously? She’s missed twelve days in my class this semester.
MRS. PHO: Heh, at least she’s consistent.
MRS. BARTOK: Honestly though, what does she do with all that time? God knows she doesn’t have a job…
MRS. PHO: Oh, she probably does what they all do: drugs, random acts of vandalism, but only when they’re not planning a thousand different ways to make our lives a living hell.
MRS. BARTOK: Ha! And we can say goodbye to any chance of merit pay.
MRS. PHO: You know, there are always those students you really just wish would drop or get pregnant or something…
MRS. BARTOK: (Softly whacking MRS. PHO’S shoulder) Oh, you’re terrible!
MRS. PHO: Wait, hear me out! She wants to drop out and it’s a legal nightmare: twenty different meetings, counseling appointments, evaluations from the principal… The girl gets pregnant and all they have to do is sign a few lines and she’s outta here. She can spend the rest of her life raising the little miscreant in peace and I can get back to actually teaching.
MRS. BARTOK: You have a point there…
(A knock is heard at the door as SHANTAY walks in the room.)
MRS. BARTOK: (She sees SHANTAY and pats MRS. PHO’S shoulder) Good luck. (She exits stage left.)
SHANTAY: Mrs. Pho, I’m here to retake the test I missed.
MRS. PHO: Which one?
SHANTAY: Chapter 7. The one from Tuesday.
(MRS. PHO reaches behind he desk and grabs a packet of papers and slips them on a desk. SHANTAY sits)
MRS. PHO: You know, Shantay, it would make it a lot easier on the both of us if you would just show up and take these tests on the day they’re scheduled. I want you to do well in my class, but you’re not making it easy for yourself.
SHANTAY: (Under her breath) Bullshit.
MRS. PHO: (Angrily) Excuse me, Shantay? What was that?
SHANTAY: I said, it’s bullshit. This whole class is bullshit. (Shoving the test off the desk) I ain’t taking this test. (SHANTAY rises to leave, but is stopped by MRS. PHO.)
MRS. PHO: Listen here, Shantay. For one, I am to be treated with proper respect, and language like that will not be tolerated in my classroom. And for another, I don’t care if you want to or not, (Picks up test and shoves it at SHANTAY) you’re taking this test.
SHANTAY: Lady, I said no!
(SHANTAY shoves MRS. PHO against her desk. MRS. PHO gasps as lights over stage left fade out)
END SCENE 2
(Lights go up over stage left. AHASBAI and SHANTAY are back in AHASBAI’S office, as in Scene 1.)
AHASBAI: So, you shoved your teacher?
SHANTAY: Yeah, I guess.
AHASBAI: You understand that that’s probably not the best way to solve your problems, Shantay? Why did you feel the need to do that?
SHANTAY: I didn’t want to take her dumb test.
AHASBAI: So, you’re saying that, because she was trying to make you take the test, you had to push her?
SHANTAY: (Getting heated) Look—I’m just a bad student! I would have failed anyway. I wasn’t about to take a test I knew I wasn’t going to fail.
AHASBAI: Okay . . . but you still came in after school for the retake. If you knew you would fail, why wouldn’t you just skip it altogether? Are you sure that’s the only thing that upset you?
(A buzzer sounds as AHASBAI’S SECRETARY comes on the intercom.)
SECRETARY: Dr. Ahasbai, your next patient is in the waiting room.
AHASBAI: (Checking his watch.) Hmm, I must’ve lost track of time. It was good to see you, Shantay. Keep thinking about what we’ve talked about, I’ll be glad to hear from you next week when you’re in.
SHANTAY: You mean I’ve got to come back here again?
AHASBAI: I’m afraid so. Part of what your parents worked out with your principal was a suspension and 5 weeks of counseling rather than a complete expulsion. But don’t worry, we’ll get through it together.
(He smiles and places his hand on her shoulder. SHANTAY shrugs him off and angrily stomps out the door, exiting stage right. Lights fade out.)
END SCENE 3
(Lights come up. The stage is set for SHANTAY’S bedroom. She lays on her stomach center stage with a large pair of headphones over her ears. She writes intently, seemingly unaware of the sounds around her. A ruckus is heard off-stage. Glass shatters. Voices are heard form off-stage.)
HELEN: Oh, great Rick, that’s just great. You shattered the dish.
RICK: Well, Helen, maybe if you would have gotten out of my way, like I told you to, we wouldn’t be having this problem.
HELEN: Like you told me to? As if you could tell me to do anything.
RICK: Regardless, it’s my salary that pays for this whole house, so I’ll break whatever I damn well please.
HELEN: Sure. Break everything! Screw us all over! It seems to be what you’re best at lately.
RICK: That’s funny; I thought screwing everyone was your specialty.
HELEN: Well, that didn’t seem to be a problem for you seventeen years ago, when you got us into this whole mess.
RICK: When I got us into this mess? How is you getting knocked up my fault?
HELEN: Are you really that much of an idiot? Do I need to explain this to you?
RICK: We had other options, Helen. We had a hundred different options, but you wanted to get married—wanted to have the perfect little family. Well, is it everything you dreamed of, Helen?
HELEN: Oh sure, this is everything that my nineteen-year-old self could have ever hoped for. I’m married to a thirty-seven-year-old toddler who gets his way by throwing plates around. I’ve got a kid who couldn’t care less about anyone but herself, picks fights at school and constantly gets me dragged into that principal’s office. I’m living the American dream.
RICK: Well, if you hate it so much-
(The voices begin to fade as murmured squabbling is heard. SHANTAY sits up, removes her headphones, and looks around as lights fade out.)
END SCENE 4
(Stage Left is set again for AHASBAI’S office. AHASBAI is seated in his chair. SHANTAY enters stage right and nocks at the door to the office.)
AHASBAI: Shantay, come in, come in. It’s good to see you. Have a seat. (Gestures toward couch.) How has your week been?
SHANTAY: I’ve been suspended.
AHASBAI: (Softly laughing) I know that Shantay, but how have you been?
SHANTAY: Fine, I guess.
AHASBAI: I’d imagine you’ve gotten to spend some more time with your parents. How has that gone?
SHANTAY: Oh sure, loads of time. We’re a regular Brady Bunch.
AHASBAI: (warmly) I’m sensing some sarcasm here.
SHANTAY: (bitterly) How’d you guess?
AHASBAI: Why don’t you tell me about the past week with your parents– has spending more time with them been beneficial for you?
SHANTAY: (Getting heated,) I don’t know.
AHASBAI: Well, have you noticed any changes in your relationship?
SHANTAY: I said I don’t know. (Begins fidgeting)
AHASBAI: How about you tell me about your relationship with your parents before the suspension?
SHANTAY: (with rage) All you ever want to hear about is them. I’m not doing this! (SHANTAY rises and starts toward door. AHASBAI places his hand gently on the couch where she was seated.)
AHASBAI: (Calmly) Okay, okay. We won’t talk about them now. Have a seat.
(SHANTAY exhales heavily for a brief moment, then returns to the couch)
AHASBAI: How about you tell me about some of your friends.
SHANTAY: Don’t have any.
AHASBAI: Not any from school?
SHANTAY: Most of these kids spend their time figuring out how to avoid me; they’re not exactly jumping in line to hang out on the weekends.
AHASBAI: What about at home? Are there kids your age in your neighborhood?
SHANTAY: HA! My neighborhood? You don’t know the first thing about my neighborhood. Most people are scared to step out of their house when they don’t need to. Nobody’s playing kickball in the street.
AHASBAI: Wow, that must be difficult for you.
SHANTAY: (caught off guard) What?
AHASBAI: That must be difficult—feeling like you have no friends around you. I can imagine that would be a lot to handle.
SHANTAY: (looking down) Well, yeah… But, I don’t need anyone else.
AHASBAI: Maybe you don’t need anyone, but there are people around you to help you in all of this.
SHANTAY: (still looking down) Well I don’t want any of those people.
AHASBAI: Who don’t you want, Shantay?
SHANTAY: (shrinking down, distressed and agitated) I don’t know.
AHASBAI: Is it your teachers?
SHANTAY: (shrinking further into the couch) I don’t know.
AHASBAI: Shantay, is it your parents that you don’t want?
SHANTAY: (aggravated) I told you, I don’t want to talk about them. God, why do you keep asking me these questions?
AHASBAI: Shantay, I ask, because I want to hear you.
SHANTAY: (Rising abruptly) You want to hear me? Ha! You don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to hear it at all… (pacing for a moment, then turning to face audience) You don’t want to hear how no one thinks I’ll amount to anything. You don’t want to hear how even my teachers talk about me—how they’d rather I get knocked up and drop out than stay in their classes. You don’t want to hear these liars pretend they care about my success when we all know they don’t give a shit. You certainly don’t want to hear about my parents. You don’t want to hear that my mom wouldn’t have gotten herself trapped into this shitty marriage if she hadn’t had me. You don’t want to hear that there was a time when my parents debated whether or not they would even have me. You don’t want to hear that I am the sole reason my parents’ lives are a living hell. You don’t want to hear it . . . because I don’t even want to hear it. (Breaking down) I try so hard to block out all the voices because maybe, just maybe if I don’t listen to them, then none of it will be true. But I can’t block them out, Dr. AHASBAI. I can’t block them out. And I hear it all. And it’s all true. I’m everything they say I am . . . So no, Dr. AHASBAI, you actually don’t want to hear it.
AHASBAI: Oh, Shantay . . . you’ve got a song that deserves to be heard.
(Light fades out as AHASBAI and SHANTAY pantomime carrying out their conversation.)