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The Neofolk Musician
Jax Nichols -- Music student at the Conservatoire de Bordeaux Jacques Thibaud in Bordeaux, France. Pianist.
Mathys -- Roommate of Jax. Cellist.
Renée -- Best friend and love interest of Jax. Violinist.
Prof. Dubois -- Resident piano instructor at Conservatoire de Bordeaux Jacques Thibaud.
Act I, Scene I
[Curtains are drawn, what appears to be a young man is sitting at a piano. The sweet, soothing tune of the piece floats into the otherwise empty air. The tune, however, turns harsh as a figure enters.]
Prof. Dubois: Non, non, non. Monsieur Nichols, I have told you time and time again, not to play that neofolk or whatever it’s called. Whenever you are in my classroom, you are to always play classical.
Jax: Parlez lentement Professor Dubois, I can barely understand you.
Prof. Dubois: Je vous demande pardon? Ah. Always play classical, none of this, whatever this is.
Jax: D’accord Professor Dubois.
Prof. Dubois: D’accord Monsieur Nichols. Now, excusez-moi.
[Prof. Dubois crosses and exits. Jax continues to play then notices the mass in front of him. He turns to face the audience, arises from his seat and walks center stage.]
Jax: My apologies for Professor Dubois, he can be quite passionate about what his students can and cannot play. Ah, pardon, my name is Jax Nichols. I am currently studying abroad at this, wondrous institution: the Jacques Thibaud Conservatory in Bordeaux, France. That tune, that was so elegantly played by me if I do say so myself, was the instrumentals to The Golden Age by Woodkid. He is my favorite artist to listen to. Simply put, I admire him for the orchestral flourishes that is in each of his songs. If you haven’t heard of his work, I highly recommend him.
[Renée and Mathys enters stage left.]
Mathys: Jax, who in world are you talking to?
Jax: What? Oh, uh no one at all.
[Jax looks up and down. Mathys clearly doesn’t believe him.]
Renée: Well anyways, we were heading towards the café and came over here to see if you wanted to join. Supposedly, they began to sell cheeseburgers. The reason escapes me.
[Renée stares at Jax while Mathys messes around with some keys on the piano. Jax looks back at Renée with the most obvious sarcastic look on his face.]
Jax: Well I don’t know who would be able to send a letter to the owner and ask for some cheeseburgers. Who we’re looking for is someone with an American accent. He’s probably handsome with the greatest knack for playing the piano.
[Renée rolls her eyes as Jax continues.]
Mathys: So are we going or not?
Jax: Sure, I’ll come.
[All three exit stage left.]
Act I, Scene II
[The three friends enter stage right. Jax and Renée sit down while Mathys heads to order their food.]
Renée: Listen, I already asked you and I’m going to ask you again. Are you going to be playing in the Fall Festival Piano Competition? I hear that some scouts are going to be there. Rumour has it that they’re coming to look for some rising musicians to sponsor.
[Jax looked at her with raised eyebrows.]
Jax: Oh my. Well, with this new knowledge, why wouldn't I.
Renée: Don't be sarcastic with me. You know I'm serious.
Jax: All right, all right. To be honest, I haven't given it much thought at all. I mean what would I even play? I already know that I can’t play anything that Professor Dubois wouldn’t approve of.
Renée: Can I tell you a secret?
Jax: Sure, of course.
[Renée leans in and doesn’t whisper.]
Renée: Don’t care what Dubois says. Here.
[She pulls out a piece of paper and hands it to Jax with a finger following.]
Renée: This is a poster of the Festival. It says that there isn’t a requirement to what anyone has to play. Is classical encouraged, of course, why wouldn’t it be? However you would be able to play whatever you want. Within reason though.
[Jax looks over, confirms what Renée said. Looks at her and smiles. Characters freeze and Jax looks at the audience.]
Jax: If it isn’t obvious already, I somewhat, kinda, like Renée, and I have no idea how to tell her. Maybe, hopefully, I could try to tell her without telling her.
[Jax walks off stage towards audience and inquires a member.]
Jax: Be honest with me, what’s your name?
[The member gives Jax their name.]
Jax: Ah, wonderful, anyways, do you think that my plan could work?
Audience Member: Yeah, I guess? I mean…?
Jax: Alright, my apologies for placing you on the spot. I needed that.
[Jax hurries back to his seat and the characters resume.]
Jax: Renée, I-
Renée: Don’t say anything.
[Mathys joins his friends with their lunch.]
Mathys: Let’s see…
[Mathys hands out the food and sits.]
Mathys: What are we talking about?
Renée: I was just convincing Jax to play in the festival later this week. And he was just about to tell me thank you.
Jax: But you just said not to say anything.
Renée: Well I lied.
[Renée looks at Jax with a hint of impatience.]
Jax: Thank you Renée.
Renée: You’re absolutely welcome Jax. Now let’s eat!
[The trio ate the small lunch that the café had to offer. Laughs were shared. Loving looks stemmed from Jax’s eyes. Although, in this somewhat joyous moment, a speck of uncertainty laid dormant in Jax’s mind.]
Act II, Scene I
[After long hours of practicing and making sure that both his voice and his playing were as precise as they could be, Jax was finally ready to play in the Fall Festival. Jax is currently sitting at his personal Steinway & Sons piano that is in his an Mathys’ dorm room.]
[Jax is playing then looks at audience.]
Jax: Oh, hey there. I didn’t expect you to stay for this long. I wouldn’t want you to watch me make a fool of myself tonight. But then of course, how would this be any entertaining if I wouldn’t?
Some of you in that expanse of heads might be wondering what I was playing. Well, if I were to tell you then that would ruin your genuine enjoyment of it later.
[Mathys enters stage left and plops himself on the couch.]
Mathys: Ohhh lord, being a cellist is very tiring.
Jax: Oh bull, try being a pianist with an instructor like Dubois, you would want to die.
Mathys: Eh. Anyways, is that the song you’re gonna use to “confess” to Renée?
Jax: How did you know I like Renée?
Mathys: I didn’t, but I do now. I mean I had some idea. Especially the way you were looking at her yesterday.
Jax: That obvious?
Mathys: Monsieur, a blind man could’ve known.
Jax: Got it, and yes, it is.
Mathys: It’s a good song, will it work? I have a microscopic amount of doubt. But I wish you the greatest amount of luck.
Jax: You’re not going to be there?
Mathys: No, I’ll be there. What I meant was the aftermath. You know, that cliche moment when after the performance, you and her meet up backstage and fall in love. That whole mess.
Jax: Wow, you are quite the hopeless romantic aren’t you?
Mathys: Isn’t it obvious?
Jax: Ha. Well thank you.
[Mathys now falls asleep. Jax continues to practice.]
Act II, Scene II
[After numerous performances, an announcer then calls for the next act. Jax is waiting offstage and Renée comes to his side.]
Renée: You excited?
Jax: Nervous more like it.
Renée: You’ll be fine.
[Renée gives him a hug and a light kiss on the cheek. She then leaves. Jax looks down and smiles. After a few minutes, the announcer then calls out Jax.]
[Jax walks stage left to center stage and bows. He scours the audience for Renée and finds her. He stares at her then takes his seat.]
[Author’s Note: For this section, if you will search The Shore by Woodkid. Thank you.]
[After he finishes the last note, applause roars. Jax rises walks center stage and bows again. He then walks off stage left.]
Act II, Scene III
[Jax is in his green room when Renée waltzes in.]
Renée: C’est magnifique…
Renée: If it’s just going to be silence, then I’ll break it. Who was that for?
Jax: What do you mean?
Renée: You know what I mean… Who were you playing for?
Jax: I honestly don’t know what you’re talking about.
Renée: It doesn’t take a lot to figure out who you were playing for. Listen, I realize that we’ve been friends for a long time, but-
[Jax rushes in to kiss her. His kiss is reciprocated. Renée pulls away, slaps Jax, and leaves. Jax falls onto the couch face first.]