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Do Not Enter

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The Man- Between age 28 and 40
The Woman- Between age 25 and 35


(The play opens with an empty stage, except for a door, upstage center, with a sign that says Do Not Enter. This door is in the middle of a park.)

(THE WOMAN enters, taking a walk in the park. She is about 28, dressed casually, and appears deep in thought. The door startles her. She stares at it for a moment, wondering why there is a door in the middle of the park, and where it might lead. She studies the sign, contemplating it. After a moment of consideration, she reaches for the doorknob. As she does, THE MAN enters. He walks briskly, and is also dressed casually, but appears a little more uptight. He notices THE WOMAN immediately, and is alarmed that she is about to open the door.)

THE MAN: Don’t!! (THE WOMAN jumps, startled, and steps away from the door. )
THE WOMAN: I’m sorry-
THE MAN: Don’t you see the sign?
THE WOMAN: Well, yes. But-
THE MAN: You could have gotten in some serious trouble.
THE WOMAN: Are you in charge here? Of the building, I mean. Or whatever this place is.
THE MAN: No, I was just walking.
THE WOMAN: So was I. Then, what do you care if I open it?
THE MAN: It clearly says “Do Not Enter.” You shouldn’t just go around opening mysterious doors.
THE WOMAN: (defiantly) Why not?
THE MAN: Rules exist for a reason. If someone put a “Do Not Enter” sign on a door, it’s because there’s some reason you shouldn’t go inside. There could be… dangerous machinery inside, or something.
THE WOMAN: But what if there’s not? What if someone is hiding something? Or there’s something really amazing behind the door that’s being kept from the world?
THE MAN: Like what? The world gets smaller every day. There couldn’t possibly be something behind the door no one has ever seen before. It just isn’t logical. And if they’re hiding something, well, that’s for a reason, too. If you’re not meant to see it, you have to accept it and move on. The rule says you can’t go in. And that keeps us safe. If you don’t follow the rules, you get hurt. When you play a game, not following the rules is cheating. And cheating is unfair. Without rules, we’d have anarchy. A world where everyone just goes around doing whatever they want whenever they want.
THE WOMAN: But if you don’t like the game, why should you keep playing? I’d rather make up my own game, with my own rules. Sure, there may be danger in going against the grain, but I’d rather take that risk than settle for a life that someone else defines for me.
THE MAN: Maybe it’s for your own good.
THE WOMAN: (louder) No one knows what’s good for me but me. (turns away from him, frustrated.)
THE MAN: (after a pause) Sorry.
THE WOMAN: No, you’re not. For what?
THE MAN: I didn’t mean to… upset you.
THE WOMAN: I’m not upset.
THE MAN: You were yelling.
THE WOMAN: I’m not upset. I’m frustrated. People like you frustrate me.
THE MAN: What do you mean?
THE WOMAN: You’re born. You live. You die. There’s no meaning there. You go to school and get good grades because you’re supposed to. You work and make money because you’re supposed to. There are no questions asked, and uncertainty is pushed way down beneath everything else where it can never be acknowledged. What about the reasons for existence? Where did your deepest desires go? You’re handed a map, and you follow the route. You never explore. You never find anything out for yourself. Looking beneath the surface may be dangerous. The risk may not be worth it. But what if it is? What if you’re seriously missing out? You’ll never be disappointed if you don’t take the chances, but you’ll never know what could have happened.
THE MAN: (studies her for a moment) You don’t know me.
THE WOMAN: But I do. You’re just like thousands of other people I’ve met in my life. I can see it in your eyes.
THE MAN: You think I’ve never thought about taking a risk on something? I have. But where would it get me? You can’t only pay attention to what you want. And it’s not as easy as throwing yourself off a cliff to get it. You have to work for things, and there are rules to how to get there. You have to follow the right path, or there’s no telling where you’re going to end up. It’s more practical to map things out, so you can look down the road and see where you’ll end up. It may not be the greatest place, but this is no fantasy world.
THE WOMAN: Part of the beauty of the imperfection of this world is striving for perfect. We may not get there, but it's worth trying.
THE MAN: It's a waste of time.
THE WOMAN: It keeps things interesting.
THE MAN: It makes life too complicated. (they glare at each other. long pause.) You're so irrational.
THE WOMAN: Maybe. But being rational means not coming up with your own ideas, doesn't it? It means being a realist.
THE MAN: What's wrong with that?
THE WOMAN: Nothing, really. But not everyone should be a realist. Without the idealists, there would be no invention. Everything around us came from idealists, did you ever think of that?
THE MAN: That is completely-
THE WOMAN: True! If you don't idealize, you don't try to make anything better. You don't create or invent. If you're realistic, you're accepting the world for what it is and saying it can't be changed.
THE MAN: Some things don't need to change.
THE WOMAN: You can change something little every day. And it can make a huge difference. I could open this door right now and it could change the world. You don't know what's going to happen.
THE MAN: Maybe I don't want to know.
THE WOMAN: Well, I do.
THE MAN: You can't know. You can't open that door. The sign says not to, so you can't. Do not enter. Someone put that there on purpose, to keep people out. If you go in, there will be consequences. People like you need to learn that. Consequences. You can't do it. You can't open that door and never pay for it.
THE WOMAN: Watch me.
THE MAN: What?
THE WOMAN: Watch me. I'm going to go in.
THE MAN: No, don't! (she looks at him, silently asking if he really wants to start that whole argument again.) It's wrong.
THE WOMAN: I define my own right from wrong. I don't even know you. You can't do it for me. I'm going inside and I'm going to find out what's in there. (she opens the door, goes inside, and closes it behind her before he can say anything.)

(THE MAN starts to follow after her but stops when the door slams in his face. He looks like he was about to say something, but he doesn't. He shakes his head, and starts to walk away. But he can't He looks back at the closed door. Curiously, he crosses back to it, taking slow, tentative steps. He wants to know what is behind the door. He almost starts reaching for the doorknob but doesn't. He stands in front of it, not entirely sure what to do. Eventually, he sinks down against the doorframe. He is waiting for her. Surely she will tell him what she has seen. He keeps looking at the door. She does not come back out. THE MAN dies waiting.)





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