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I’ve gotten to the point in this play where it’s on my mind a lot and, when that happens, you know how it goes: whenever your mind wanders, it’s there. You see scene bits in the shower or hear dialogue in those moments before waking. Ideas used to hit me a lot when I was driving; I didn’t realize how much I’d miss driving as a creative luxury (I know I could still drive, but I generally don’t like driving, so not having to do it now is a plus for me). I take a lot of notes that become a huge mess to sort through like puzzle pieces. That’s been happening a lot as I try to determine the points on Cha and Katie’s journey.
Sometimes, thoughts are generated from the outside. Like today, I was emailing with Anthony Chase—the inspiration for the play; see episode one—who has caught up in his reading. He offered some insight into the genesis of his joke/wish to have his ashes flung at NPH, including a discussion about exactly which verb was used, though he admits to perhaps having expressed the wish different at different times. I’m grateful he chose “fling” when he told it to me because it was that vivid verb that sparked this story. At any rate, I won’t go into the details of the discussion here, because they will prove useful later in the play. Suffice to say, that information prompted me to add these lines to the first scene:
TONIO: I don’t see it that way.
KATIE: You’re going to waste your ashes on revenge?
TONIO: Revenge. Lust. It’s a fine line.
KATIE: NPH is dreamy.
CHA-CHA: And off your market.
KATIE: Who is yours?
CHA-CHA: [insert straight celeb of actress’s choice; we want her lust to be convincing]
TONIO: I approve.
CHA-CHA: Can everyone just stay in their own lane?!
KATIE: Fantasy crushes don’t have to be available.
TONIO: Except for the flinging of the ashes. Or spreading. Maybe you should just spread the ashes on him.
CHA-CHA: Flinging is more fun.
KATIE Maybe your husband would want them.
Throwing that extra bit in now (no line of dialogue is ever wasted) will help later.
Now, back to FINDING NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, already in progress. Please note that Tonio’s sister, Tina, is played by the same performer who plays Tonio.
KATIE: So speaking of tulips, have you picked up Tonio’s ashes yet?… They would make good fertilizer!… Oh. Oh!… I’m so sorry to hear that… You can’t choose your family… Please come by… On the house. We think of Tonio every day.
KATIE hangs up.
KATIE: The sister has them. SCENE 3
THE HOME OF TINA, TONIO’S SISTER.
KATIE and CHA stand at the door.
KATIE: We don’t even have a plan.
CHA-CHA: The plan is get the ashes.
KATIE: She won’t just hand them over. She doesn’t even know us.
KATIE: Are we going to pretend to be someone else? I’m not a very good actor–
KATIE: We could be Jehovah’s Witnesses. But nobody ever wants to talk to them.
CHA-CHA: That’s a bad plan.
KATIE: Maybe we’re selling something? Or just checking, like “We’ve recently done window work in your area–
CHA-CHA: Do I look like a fucking window washer?
KATIE: Oh! Let’s just get a look at the urn! Then we could go buy an identical one and come back on another day and switch them. But where we would hide the urn when we went in? And how would we make the switch? And what reason would we have to come back twice? And how do we even get in to switch it in the first place?
CHA-CHA: Shut up!
KATIE: At least I’m trying to think of a plan!
CHA-CHA: I have a plan.
CHA-CHA rings the doorbell. KATIE: Don’t you think you should tell me what it is? Do I need to pretend to be–
CHA-CHA: We’re going to steal the ashes.
KATIE gasps, and TINA answers the door.
TINA: I’m an atheist.
KATIE: Why would you say that?
TINA: Because it usually works.
CHA-CHA: You could just not answer the door.
TINA: Good idea.
TINA starts to shut the door but CHA-CHA stops her.
CHA-CHA: Too late. We’re here to talk about Tonio.
TINA: He was an atheist, too.
KATIE: We worked with him.
TINA: At the college?
KATIE: Worked for him, I guess.
KATIE: Worked on him.
TINA starts to shut the door again.
CHA-CHA: At the nail salon. I did his pedicures.
KATIE: Sometimes I did.
CHA-CHA: I was his favorite.
KATIE: You were not!
TINA: Jealousy is a petty emotion.
CHA-CHA: I was doing his nails when he died.
KATIE: Not actually doing them. They were drying.
CHA-CHA: Which is how we missed it.
KATIE: The dying.
TINA: Did you kill him?
KATIE: What? No.
TINA: What were his last words?
KATIE: Something insulting about me.
CHA-CHA: Quick-witted… no…
KATIE: Unrequited love.
CHA-CHA: We’re all gonna die.
KATIE: A story killing him! Oh my god!
CHA-CHA: Geico! Geico! Geico!
KATIE: Oh, it was Geico! We didn’t kill him. Oh thank goodness.
CHA-CHA: Your story about Geico!
KATIE: It wasn’t about Geico!
TINA: Are you any good?
CHA-CHA: At murder?
TINA: At pedicures.
CHA-CHA: Please. The fucking best.
TINA: I’m a bit of a hermit.
KATIE: Like a germaphobe? Afraid of dirty things?
CHA-CHA: Like ashes…
KATIE and CHA-CHA try looking beyond Tina into the house.
Once in the house, getting the ashes in the agenda. But what else needs to revealed in there? Is there anything important to learn about Tonio? What about Cha and Katie? Is their relationship becoming clearer? And what does that mean for their journey going forward?