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A Planet-Sized Meeting
(NARRATOR appears on darkened stage)
NARRATOR: Every twenty years or so, the planets of our solar system come together to debate what is happening in the universe. (As he says this, nine figures appear on stage. Some sit in chairs while others stand.) And this year, year 2012, is one of those times. (Exits.)
(Lights fade on. THE PLANETS and THE SUN are the only ones on stage. Each PLANET is sitting in a certain chair while THE SUN stands in the middle.)
SUN: Welcome, welcome! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?
MARS: (Yawning.) Not really.
SUN: (Glaring at MARS.) Cut the attitude, okay? We don’t want another major fight like last time. Last time we did that, we destroyed a comet and it hit Jupiter.
JUPITER: Yeah, Mars, we don’t want anything to happen like last time. (Chuckles.) I’d beat you if it came to that, anyways.
MARS: (Leaning towards JUPITER.) You little bit—
EARTH: Guys! Stop it! (Straightens his already perfect suit.) Well, to get things started, I’m a bit worried about that black hole in the middle of the Milky Way. Anyone else agree?
VENUS: Well, it does seem very ominous. (Twirls her hair with a finger.) But it won’t come to us for a couple trillion years. So yeah, it’s a bit of a problem, but not a major one.
SATURN: Can you not mumble?
VENUS: (Hotly.) I wasn’t mumbling.
SATURN: Yes, you were.
(VENUS opens her mouth to say something, but EARTH stops them before they can start arguing.)
EARTH: Guys, calm down.
MERCURY: Yeah, muchachos, no fighting.
SUN: Before we get carried away, are there any more things we want to discuss?
PLUTO: (From offstage.) Yeah, I do! I am a planet!
(THE PLANETS groan as a small, gray planet walks on from the right.)
JUPITER: (Face palms.) What now, Pluto?
PLUTO: I think that I’m a planet. I fit all the criteria. Can’t you tell those stupid NASA people that I am a planet?
THE SUN: (Sighing.) Pluto, we’ve been through this before. You don’t fit all the criteria. First of all, you’re too small. And you’re too close to the Kuiper Belt. And—
PLUTO: (Cutting THE SUN off.) And what? I’m too stupid to be a planet?!
NEPTUNE: Pluto, take it down a notch.
PLUTO: (With a crazy look in his eyes.) No, I won’t take it down a notch. I deserve to be a planet!
EARTH: (Glancing offstage.) Luna, come here. (A genderless, silver moon appears from stage left.)
LUNA: Yes, sir?
EARTH: (Pointing at PLUTO.) Can you take him off the stage, please?
LUNA: (Nodding.) Certainly, sir. (LUNA walks over to PLUTO, who is still trying to argue with THE SUN, and forces PLUTO’S arms behind him. LUNA leads a protesting PLUTO offstage.)
PLUTO: (From offstage.) I’m not done yet!
JUPITER: Good riddance. Now, where were we?
URANUS: Weren’t we just talking about what we want to discuss next?
SATURN: Yeah, that’s right. So, what do you guys want to talk about?
JUPITER: (Chuckling.) Hey, isn’t it the dreaded year of 2012?
JUPITER: And isn’t that doomsday according to the Mayans?
EARTH: The Mayan calendar was a lunar calendar and nothing else. When it ends, it just repeats itself and starts over.
MARS: So when all the pitiful humans die, don’t come crying to us.
EARTH: (Turning towards MARS.) What are you saying?
MARS: (Shaking his head.) Well, since you are the only planet that has “life” in the solar system, you’ll join the I’m-a-lifeless-ball-of-dirt club. I can’t wait to induct you into it. (MARS smiles deviously.)
EARTH: Stop the cocky attitude. It’s getting on my nerves.
(MARS and EARTH start to fight verbally, but THE SUN breaks them up.)
THE SUN: Guys, guys, calm down. Let’s talk a bit more.
NEPTUNE: (Raising her hand.) Well, I gotta pretty big problem.
THE SUN: What is it?
NEPTUNE: (Pointing at MERCURY.) Mercury has been harassing me for the past ten years or so. It’s so not cool.
MERCURY: Nuh uh, chica. I do nothing to you. You must be loco in the brains.
NEPTUNE: What did you say?! I am not crazy in the brains!
MERCURY: (Muttering to himself.) Wow, she knows some español. We have a breakthrough.
NEPTUNE: (Seething.) How dare you!
URANUS: C’mon, let’s calm down. Fighting isn’t good for your karma.
SATURN: (Raising an eyebrow and glancing at URANUS.) Karma? You actually believe in that crap?
URANUS: Kama is not crap. It balances out the universe.
SATURN: Well, I can tell it didn’t balance you out.
URANUS: (Glaring at SATURN.) I have a medical condition!
VENUS: (Yelling.) STOP FIGHTING!! Jeez, calm down. We always fight.
THE SUN: Yeah, I agree with Venus we haven’t had a meeting where we haven’t fought since . . . oh, I can’t remember. Can we be more peaceful from now on?
MARS: (Sighing.) Okay, but I’m not sure how long it’s going to last. (Raises an empty water bottle to his lips, but nothing but dry air comes out. THE PLANETS notice him.)
JUPITER: Man, you’re still trying to get some water?
JUPITER: It’s been what? Two billion years since you’ve had water? You’re not getting it back anytime soon, I have to admit.
MARS: (Sighing.) I know, I know. But a planet can dream, can’t he?
(Suddenly, PLUTO appears back on stage. He starts marching around with a picket sign that reads “I AM A PLANET” in bright red letters. THE PLANETS watch as he marches around the stage.)
VENUS: Seriously, Pluto?
PLUTO: This is a free universe, and I think that my rights are being denied. I repeat: I am a planet!
VENUS: Pluto, it’s been six years. You’re not getting you planet-ship back.
PLUTO: Like Mars said, ‘A planet can dream, can’t he?’
JUPITER: You’re not a planet, remember?
PLUTO: (Gives a look that makes JUPITER shrink back.) I KNOW THAT!!!
NEPTUNE: (Weary.) Guys . . . I feel a huge fight coming.
EARTH: Should I bring in Luna?
NEPTUNE: (Nodding.) Yes. And tell her to bind him up so that he doesn’t bother us again.
EARTH: Very well. Luna?
(LUNA appears on stage. In LUNA’S hands is a thick rope.)
LUNA: How may I help you, sir?
EARTH: Tie up Pluto.
LUNA: My pleasure. (LUNA walks up to PLUTO and gets the rope around his wrists. LUNA leads PLUTO offstage roughly. He struggles, but LUNA is bigger and stronger.)
PLUTO: (From offstage.) I promise you, I will become a planet again!
SATURN: Yeah, like that’ll ever happen. (She glances at JUPITER, who is scratching at the Big Red Spot on his cheek.) Jupiter, don’t pick at that. It’s not good for you.
JUPITER: I can’t stop. It’s so addicting. (Scratches at it more, and then winces.) Okay, ow, that hurts.
SATURN: See, that’s what I mean.
URANUS: Ah, Saturn, I think that is something that Jupiter can deal with on his own. So . . . do we have anything else we want to talk about?
EARTH: I’m racking my brain for topics . . . (Pauses, deep in thought.) Oh, I got nothing.
URANUS: Hey, I think I have something.
THE SUN: Go on.
URANUS: Have you guys seen that new show? “A Traveler’s Guide to the Planets,” I mean.
VENUS: (nodding) Yeah, I remember hearing about that from Hailey.
MARS: Hailey? Hailey who?
VENUS: Hailey the Comet, duh! We’re good friends and we tend to gossip a lot.
MARS: Oh, duh . . . That makes sense.
URANUS: Anyways, they got a lot of stuff wrong in that show.
JUPITER: Like what?
URANUS: They kept saying that your moon Europa has an ocean under its ice sheets. Because it has an elliptical orbit, deep-sea vents may occur and you’ve seen what crazy life forms on Earth when those things pop up.
THE SUN: Do you guys want to have Europa tell its side?
(THE PLANETS nod. A small icy moon appears from stage right and addresses the audience.)
EUROPA: I can neither confirm nor deny that I am harboring life. (EUROPA bows and walks out the way it came in.)
SATURN: Well, that cleared things up. Hey, just to be fair, should we bring out Titan too?
EARTH: (Shrugging) Very well, then.
(A muscular orange moon appears from stage left. It faces the audience.)
TITAN: Uh, you crazy earthlings think I have life? You stupid. (TITAN walks off. THE PLANETS look around at each other.)
VENUS: And another thing, the show kept getting the orders wrong.
MARS: (blinking) What the hell are you talking about?
THE SUN: Language, Mars. What Venus is trying to say is that they got the siblings mixed up.
MERCURY: So you want us to tell them who our siblings are. (He points to the audience.)
THE SUN: Yes, that’s what I’m getting at.
MERCURY: Gotcha, Sol. So, here’s how it goes. Me and Venus are brother and sister.
EARTH: And Mars and I are bros. (He playfully punches MARS’ arm.) Aren’t we, Big Red?
MARS: Don’t call me that. (Moves away from EARTH.)
SATURN: Me and Jupiter are twins . . . (Glances at JUPITER, who is still scratching his Big Red Spot.) much to my dismay.
URANUS: And that just leaves us with me and Neptune. We’re brother and sister.
THE SUN: I’m the leader of the solar system. And Pluto . . . he’s an only child. Wait, only planet.
(There are some sounds of scuffling offstage, and PLUTO pokes his head out of the curtains.)
PLUTO: Thanks so much. I’m constantly reminded of my pain.
MARS: Just go back to the Kuiper Belt.
(PLUTO starts to make a comeback at MARS, but LUNA, aided now by EUROPA and TITAN, pull him off the stage.)
THE SUN: Okay, that clears things up.
VENUS: (Blinking) Hey, guys, I just realized something.
THE SUN AND PLANETS: (In unison) Yes?
VENUS: Well, isn’t it strange that we have feelings and stuff when we’re really huge balls of dirt and gas millions of miles away from each other? (THE SUN AND PLANETS glance at the audience. They look away after a few seconds.)
EARTH: (Nodding) You do have a good point.
VENUS: So why are we even here?
URANUS: (Sighing) That is the most important question in the universe.
VENUS: So with that, should we wrap this thing up?
THE SUN: That sounds good. Anyone object? (THE PLANETS nod ‘no.’ There is more scuffling from the curtains on stage right, as if PLUTO is trying to break the grip of the MOONS.) And I’m not talking to you, Pluto. (The scuffling stops.)
EARTH: So that’s it, then. To be honest, we talked more than fought. That’s an improvement.
NEPTUNE: Yeah, you’re right with that.
THE SUN: And with that, the 2012 interplanetary meeting is now adjourned.
(The lights slowly dim. When the lights are completely off, the PLANETS and SUN walk off in different directions. The stage is empty for a few seconds, and then PLUTO walks back on stage. A spotlight is trained on him. There is a crazed look in his eyes.)
PLUTO: I am a planet!