A Night in the Mind of the Man Named Benjamin

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CHARACTERS

BENJAMIN A young man who struggles with the mundane qualities of his life.
AMETHYST A young singer from the 1990’s who is unhappy with the way her life played out.
DR. SUTTER A World War I doctor who went crazy because of what he saw on the battlefield and later became a mad scientist.
MR. GREY A middle-aged man of questionable origin who helps Benjamin find himself.
 

SETTING

Benjamin’s bedroom; there is an oak bed and nightstand on which a model airplane sits. There is a large window to the left of the bed and a door to the right, all on a blue wall.

 

TIME

The middle of the night and into the morning in current times.

 

SCENES

ACT I


Scene 1  Dream
Scene 2   Hallucination
Scene 3  Mirage
Scene 4  Morning
 

ACT I

    SCENE 1

   
    (The stage begins dark and the lights come on slowly; Benjamin is sleeping in bed and the window is opening. When it opens completely he sits up as Amethyst climbs through. “Crazy for You” plays quietly in the background.)


BENJAMIN
Hey, who are you?


   (AMETHYST closes the window behind her and turns left, then right.)

 

AMETHYST
Who, me? I’m just part of the new neighborhood watch.


   (AMETHYST laughs, then reaches in her pocket and pulls out a lighter and a pack of cigarettes and begins smoking one.)

BENJAMIN
Oh, okay, sure. Do you always climb into strangers’ bedrooms in the middle of the night and start nonchalantly smoking?


(BENJAMIN crosses his arms.)
  
AMETHYST
Only on Tuesdays and Fridays…or whenever I have some free time; what else would I possibly be doing?

 

BENJAMIN
I don’t know, maybe sleeping? Or getting out of my room?


   (AMETHYST looks down at her cigarette, watching the ashes smolder.)

 

AMETHYST
I am not real, Benjamin. I am a figment of your imagination and you are dreaming. In a few hours you will wake up, and it’s hard to say whether or not you’ll remember what I’m about to tell you.


   (BENJAMIN tries to speak but AMETHYST cuts him off.)


Let me finish first. When I was 15 I was like you are now. Confused, lost, directionless. I had forgotten all my dreams and ambitions from when I was a little kid. Then I joined this garage band. I started singing at local bars, restaurants, parties, wherever they’d pay a few bucks. Singing made me feel happy, it gave me a purpose and it was fun. Eventually someone noticed. We got signed. It was the most amazing thing ever. I was going to be famous. Little did I know that behind the scenes; being famous isn’t as glamorous as you might think. Drugs and alcohol get you through each show but they don’t last. You keep needing more and more to get the same rush. You try worse things, things you never would have considered before. And one day, you don’t wake up. I was found slumped over in a tour bus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 15th, 1996, with the needle still stuck in my arm. I was 19.


   (AMETHYST sits down on the end of the bed, slumped over, and takes one last drag off her cigarette before putting it out on the bottom of her boot.)

 

    BENJAMIN
This has to be a dream.


   (AMETHYST smiles and laughs, looking up at BENJAMIN)

 

    AMETHYST
I already told you it was, kid.  What? Didn’t believe me? How about now?


   (AMETHYST reaches in her pocket and pulls out a newspaper clipping, handing it to Benjamin, which he reads aloud.)

 

    BENJAMIN
“19-year old singer Emily Parker, better known by her stage name Amethyst, was found dead yesterday in her tour bus in Milwaukee, Wisconsin…dated October 16th, 1996.”
H- How is this possible? It’s like you’re here and this is all real and…


   (AMETHYST lights another cigarette and looks out the window.)

 

    AMETHYST
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Just do me a favor, alright kid? Don’t make the same mistakes I did. Don’t ever let it go to your head. Don’t think you can be superman; you can’t. You’re a human being and human beings are fragile. Sometimes life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; you have to find the beauty in the simple things. Be happy with what you have. Don’t end up like me.


   (AMETHYST stands and walks to the window, sticking her leg through as she opens it, taking one last look back at BENJAMIN, then at the model airplane on his nightstand.)


Cool plane, kid. I’ll see you around.


   (AMETHYST shuts the window as all the lights go dim and the music fades.)

 

    SCENE 2

 

   (The lights come on dimly and DR. SUTTER is seen standing at the side of BENJAMIN’s bed. He leans down and begins to violently shake BENJAMIN. “I Ain’t Got Nobody” plays softly in the background.)

 

    DR. SUTTER
WAKE UP! WAKE UP! THE GERMANS ARE COMING!

 

   (BENJAMIN sits up, gasping, and looks up at DR. SUTTER in confusion.)


    BENJAMIN
Wh-what’s happening? Who are you?


   (DR. SUTTER quits shaking BENJAMIN and begins to look around frantically.)


    DR. SUTTER
Where are my tools? I know I left them right here…

    BENJAMIN
What tools? Hey! What are you doing in my room?


   (DR. SUTTER freezes and turns to face BENJAMIN as he gets a wicked smile on his face. As DR. SUTTER begins to speak, he slowly moves closer and closer to the bed.)

 

    DR. SUTTER
I will be the first man to cheat death. It’s a simple matter of science; you just need the right parts. I have been trying for years now. It all came to me in the institution. If only they knew how often madness and genius are confused.


   (BENJAMIN begins to inch back in bed, a look of confusion and horror on his face.)

 

    BENJAMIN
Who are you?

 

    DR. SUTTER
Ah yes, how rude of me. I am Dr. Sutter, field doctor, scientist and escapee of the North Haven Asylum.


   (DR. SUTTER grins wickedly as he bows deeply.)


    BENJAMIN
So you’re crazy?


   (The expression falls off of DR. SUTTER’s face and he turns, clearly angry.)

 

    DR. SUTTER
DON’T CALL ME CRAZY!


   (DR. SUTTER begins to flail, punching and beating the wall parallel to BENJAMIN’s bed as he looks on in terror. A few moments into this tirade, DR. SUTTER turns so his back hits against the wall as he slides down into a slump, a sad look on his face.)


I watched men come into the field hospital, broken and bloody... some were missing entire limbs. I never was squeamish until it was best friend, Robert, on the table before me. He had completely lost one leg and most of another. It was a grenade, I believe. His last words to me were, “Look after my Susie.” I promised him, but I was too late. When my tour ended 6 months later, I came back to his hometown. I searched everywhere. There had been a freak accident with a delivery truck that lost control of its brakes. One casualty: a Ms. Susie Potter.


   (DR. SUTTER begins to break down in tears, putting his face in his hands. After a moment he looks up.)
All I wanted was to bring them back to life. But I tried so many times. I killed so many trying to find the way to bring just one man back.


   (DR. SUTTER rises and BENJAMIN inches back further in bed, nearly falling off the other side.)


I’m terribly sorry for disturbing you tonight, Benjamin.


   (DR. SUTTER glances over at the model airplane on BENJAMIN’s nightstand and the lights begin to dim, his words echoing as they go black and the music fades.)


What an odd aeroplane…

   

SCENE 3

   (The lights come on again, and outside the window a little bit of light can be seen. BENJAMIN is lying in bed sleeping again, and 3 quiet knocks can be heard from behind the door, which wakes him up.)
  

    BENJAMIN
Come in.


   (The door swings open slowly and MR. GREY enters, closing the door softly behind him, which elicits groans from BENJAMIN as he slumps down into bed and throws his arm across his face.)


Not again…


   (MR. GREY chuckles.)

 

    MR. GREY

I see you’ve had quite the night, hmm?

 

    BENJAMIN
Well, it’s not over yet.


   (BENJAMIN sits up, crossing his arms as he looks up at MR. GREY.)


So, what’s your story?

 

    MR. GREY
The more important question, Benjamin, is what’s yours?

 

    BENJAMIN
What do you mean? You already know my name, where I live, you managed to get into my room… you must already know everything you need to.


   (MR. GREY laughs again, shaking his head as he sits down on the end of the bed.)

 

    MR. GREY
It is not about what I know. It’s about what you know. How well do you really know yourself, Benjamin?

 

    BENJAMIN
I don’t understand.

 

    MR. GREY
Here, I’ll elaborate. Do you know what career you want to pursue? What kind of man you want to be? Do you know where you’ll live? Do you have any real goals or ideals about your future that you’re working towards?


   (As MR. GREY finishes he looks over at the model airplane and BENJAMIN looks off into the crowd with a distant look in his eyes.)

 

    BENJAMIN
I always wanted to be a pilot. But that takes a lot of money my family doesn’t have.


   (BENJAMIN looks up at MR. GREY.)
I can’t answer your questions. I wish I could.

 

    MR. GREY


Benjamin, I understand that. This is a tumultuous time in your life. You’ve seen your friends make decisions and change their mind over and over; you’ve seen adults who took a number of paths and none of them are happy. It’s confusing. I can only imagine. Life can take advantage of some people; put them through more they can possibly handle. People like Dr. Sutter.


   (At this moment BENJAMIN looks up in surprise, but MR. GREY brings a finger to his lips to silence him.)


Others allow their whims and desires to take them too far. People like Amethyst. Life is all about a balance. It’s about following your dreams, but knowing when to say when. A very wise girl once said, “Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.” If I were you, I would listen to her.


   (DR. GREY rises and walks to the door, opening it as he takes one last look back at BENJAMIN.)


Goodnight, Benjamin, and happy dreaming.


   (DR. GREY walks out and closes the door behind him as the lights go dark once again.)

 

    SCENE 4
  
   (The lights come on and the sounds of birds chirping can be heard from behind the set; more light is coming through the window so it is clear that it is morning. Benjamin wakes and stretches, slowly climbing out of bed. He begins to open the door then glances at his nightstand, gently brushing his fingers over the model airplane as a smile grows on his face.)

    BENJAMIN
Anything is possible…


   (The lights fade out and the play concludes.)

 

   

The End.






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