Over the course of a school year, six inner-city high school students are forced to speak with the new school counselor. Through a series of monologues, we meet a diverse group of students including: Ruby, a foster kid who struggles with sobriety as she ages out of the system; Wade, whose Asperger’s poses a unique problem for him when he develops his first crush; and overweight Marcy, an aspiring poet devastated by a cruel prank. Their struggles challenge the experience of the school counselor, who discusses her work in therapy sessions of her own. Beautifully drawn, funny, and heartbreakingly poignant, All My Distances Are Far turns the audience into a silent confidant as each character struggles to make it to the end of the school year.
The action takes place in a huge, urban 8th through 12th grade middle and high school in a large city, throughout the fall, winter, and spring quarters. The play is performed without intermission. The students address the audience as the unseen therapist and The Therapist addresses the audience as the unseen supervisor.
When lights come up, the stage is bare except for six empty chairs. A passing bell rings. All six high school students enter and sit. Simultaneously, they each say their first four or so lines and then exit. The Therapist crosses the stage announcing that we are in Mark Twain Middle and High School, fall quarter.
Marcy enters alone and performs her first monologue, describing her suicide attempt on a disastrous family camping trip and how “all my distances are far.” She ends with the sonnet she wrote while hospitalized and exits. Joe enters, ear buds and sunglasses on. As soon as he learns he’s talking to a psychotherapist, he insults her and stomps off. Francine runs on, late, as a passing bell rings. She protests that, contrary to what the Vice Principal believes, she does not steal anymore. She also describes her love of dog shows and her divorced parents. She has ‘found’ someone’s keys and offers them up as the bell rings again. As she exits, Joe reenters. He knows he has ‘anger management issues’ but warns the therapist never to call his grandmother to school since she is a bully. After Joe, we meet Wade, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome, who offers a stilted narrative about his love of 1950 sci-fi films and his crush on the second period hall monitor. Then Ruby, an African-American girl in recovery, describes living with her hippie foster mother and how she’s fallen in love with a boy who ‘chases the dragon,’ whatever that means. At last we meet Mateo, a Latino boy who sarcastically announces that he is choosing to fail all of his classes because he is going through an existential crisis. After all the students have completed their first monologues, The Therapist enters with a plush chair and small table to signal we are out of the school setting. She confides to the unseen supervisor how frightened and unprepared she feels as therapist to all these kids. She also announces it is now winter quarter.
As the characters re-enter for their second monologues, we learn that Wade has been accused of ‘stalking’ the second period hall monitor, that Ruby is now smoking heroin with her boyfriend, and that Joe is actually suffering panic attacks at school. Marcy, who has gained fame by entering her sonnet in a contest, has begun an online relationship with a boy who likes 'big girls who write poetry' and recites a sonnet written to him. Francine describes attending a dog show with her mother – only to discover her father out in the audience with a young girlfriend. The monologues are interrupted by the ‘Love Ballet’ – a choreographed tone poem on love – recited by Marcy (love is poetry) Ruby (love is alcohol) and Wade (love is not being paranoid about being ‘taken over’). After this, The Therapist describes how she explained Object Relations theory to a sixteen-year-old – and how it worked. After she exits, Mateo enters, a bruise on his cheek. He at last confides that he is failing school because he is being sexually abused at home. His monologue ends as he jumps up in alarm, realizing that The Therapist is calling the authorities. The Therapist announces we are now in spring quarter.
In the third section of the play, Francine breathlessly describes how she’s been arrested for shoplifting – and how she feels her arrest has brought her divorced parents back together. After learning that The Therapist has actually met his grandmother, Joe reveals how he lied about his caretaker: his grandmother has MS and is frail and sick. Joe has panic attacks because he is fearful of losing her. Ruby, now 18 and out of the foster care system, is unsure if she should go to college or run off with her boyfriend. Wade, invited to a party by the girl of his dreams, got into an altercation there. He was calmed down when the girl offered to recite a favorite line from a sci-fi film. Marcy describes how her online boyfriend turned out to be a cruel hoax. She has cut herself in frustration, but still believes she is a poet. Mateo tells how the police have arrested his abuser and how he is going to live with a family friend. He finds hope in a quote from Kierkegaard.
All the students again enter and simultaneously recite about a fourth of their last monologue. They then each say their last line individually. The Therapist enters as they rise and stand behind her. In her last monologue, The Therapist states she has taken a job out of state and will miss her clients. She describes what she has learned: how we all struggle to get through, how we all seek love, and how, although it’s a journey, the distance between two people was never really far.
An emotionally engaging evening that is certainly heartfelt.
–Los Angeles Times
Marcy – Twelfth grade; Irish American, Goth, overweight girl.
Joe – Eleventh grade, gang-banger Asian or Anglo boy.
Francine – Seventh grade girl.
Wade – Tenth grade boy with Asperger’s.
Ruby – Twelfth grade, African American girl.
Mateo – Tenth grade, Latino boy.
The Therapist – A post-graduate intern in her early twenties.
Author’s Note: Each character addresses the audience as the unseen therapist. The Therapist addresses the audience as the unseen supervisor.
Setting: The action takes place in a huge, urban, 7th through 12th middle and high school in a large city. Each monologue is spoken either in the fall, winter, or spring quarter.
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"...A fully realized and authentic character portrayal, allowing us to become really concerned for their welfare as their stories unfold." –Broadway World
"...Teens in post modern domestic society do have their hopes, fears, matters of concerns... The smartness comes from their own judgement... This is the real light that shines, even if those said distances aren't exactly around the corner." –Access Live Online
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The production materials for All My Distances Are Far include:
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Director's Script – Single-sided script with space for director’s notes.