Stage Writes

The Official Stage Rights Blog

Special Contributor: Episode 8 of Donna Hoke's blog "Finding Neil Patrick Harris: A Play in Process"

NOTE: We are re-posting Donna's blog on a weekly basis. To read ahead or to learn more about her and her other work, either visit the author page on our site or go directly to her website

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in the house now since March 10. And while the news continues to be grim and scary, playwriting keeps happening, playwright rejections and acceptances keep happening, my Zoom calendar keeps filling up with readings and meetings. I’m not sure what it all will mean in the end to get into a festival or not, to have a virtual production or not, to take in lessons and classes or not. Often, it seems often that the thing that feels the most real right now is the writing itself, so thank you so much for continuing on this silly sharing journey with me. This play is a labor of love, not my next big O’Neill submission, but a play that means a lot to me and hopefully the people I’m writing it for. Maybe, someday, when we’re allowed to go to theaters again, it’ll make some people laugh together.
I write all this today because there’s not much process to talk about. Katie and Cha-Cha just have to retrieve those freaking ashes! So, without further ado, we join FINDING NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, already in progress:

Hoke Ep 8 NPH

KATIE: Maybe we can just take the ashes.
CHA-CHA: How are we gonna do that?
KATIE looks around the room and sees nothing (because it’s an empty set lol!) 
KATIE opens her purse and starts pulling things out and putting them in her coat pockets. 
KATIE: Here. Put these in your pockets.
CHA-CHA: What the–
KATIE: Just do it.
CHA-CHA puts things in her pockets but is not happy about it.
CHA-CHA: Now what?
KATIE: Put the ashes in my purse.
CHA-CHA: I can’t just pour Tonio in your purse.
KATIE: It’s better this way! We don’t take the urn and more importantly, she doesn’t notice the urn is missing.
CHA-CHA: That’s smart.
KATIE: I’m not an idiot.
CHA-CHA: But you’re not funny.
The teakettle whistles.
KATIE: Just do it!
TINA (o.s.): Teabags in or out?
TINA: Just another minute then.
CHA-CHA picks up the urn and takes off the lid. KATIE opens her purse. CHA-CHA pours the ashes in. This is messy business. There is sputtering and coughing and ashes and little bits that get on the floor.
KATIE: Hurry!
CHA-CHA: It’s not like I have a fucking funnel.
CHA-CHA finishes pouring the ashes, or at least what she was able to get in the purse. CHA-CHA and KATIE now scramble to get rid of the evidence, put the lid back on the urn, put it back on the table, blow ashes off each other, pick up bits from the ground and put them in the purse. TINA enters with tea.
TINA: I’m sorry that took so long.
KATIE: Out teabags takes longer.
CHA-CHA: We’re sorry we intruded on you.
TINA: Oh no. I meant it about the pedicure, but I’d also like to talk to people who knew Tonio. Did he tell you he had a twin sister?
KATIE: A twin?
TINA: I know we look nothing alike, but we’re fraternal after all. That means we are no more alike than any other brother and sister.
CHA-CHA: I know what fraternal means.
TINA: So many don’t.
CHA-CHA notices ashes on KATIE’s face and tries to motion to her to wipe them off. KATIE is not understanding. CHA-CHA blows in her face.
KATIE: What are you doing?
CHA-CHA (still trying to indicate her face): You looked tired.
(to Tina)
She’s a little narcoleptic.
TINA: What’s on your face, dear?
KATIE: My face?
TINA: Yes, there’s a little… smudge.
KATIE (finally getting it): Oh! It must be… makeup.
CHA-CHA: Smoky eye.
KATIE: I need a better fixer. I’ll just get a tissue–
KATIE reaches into her purse for a tissue, forgetting what is not in her purse, and she has now put her hand into a purse full of ashes. CHA-CHA has not forgotten.
KATIE: I– Don’t seem to have any tissues. Maybe in your pocket?
CHA-CHA: My pocket?
KATIE: Yes. In your pocket. My tissues might be in your pocket.
CHA-CHA digs in her pockets and comes up with a tissue, which she hands to Katie.
TINA: You could just use the restroom–
KATIE pulls her hand from her purse in a cloud of ashes. 
KATIE: It’s a very old purse.
KATIE wipes her hand with the tissue.
KATIE: I’m sorry. You were telling us about Tonio. He was so lucky. I always wanted to have a sister.
TINA: A sister who doesn’t go to her brother’s funeral isn’t a very good sister, is she?
I know, I know; I still have to get them out the door but this is the fun part! It’s where they go once they have the ashes that’s keeping me up at night…