No Exit

noexit2

The students are standing in a dank, dimly lit room with one florescent light bulb hanging from the ceiling. A rat is nibbling on what could be a human toe in one corner. The Improv teacher, Ursula Kowalski, looks at her students in disgust. The rat also looks at them in disgust.

Ursula: {cigarette dangles from her lips, with 2 inches of ash hanging on the end} Welcome to my improv class. None of your dreams of becoming a Broadway actor will come true and you will die alone. But still, we try anyway, yes.

{coughs into a handkerchief for 10 minutes}

Ursula: Lets start with an easy exercise. Imagine you have a pinpoint of light inside your chest. It starts off small and then it fills your chest, arms, legs, hands and feet. Then after that, imagine it filling your entire body. Finally, imagine the light filling the room. Say yes to the light; let it flow through you.

{walks around the room}

Ursula: {points to a young girl} You are not being the light.

Girl: I’m trying to be the light.

Ursula: No, watch me be the light. I have tuberculosis, typhoid, polio and a bunion and I still have a better light than you.

{continues to walk around the room}

Ursula: {points to a middle-aged man} You are not the light! You are the opposite of whatever light is.

Middle-aged man: Um … dark?

Ursula: Shut up! I am in an existential crisis.

{coughs for 10 more minutes until finally coughs up a cat}

Ursula: No one is the light. You would kill Elia Kazan if he were still alive. If he were alive here now, he would not be alive; you would kill him. That is how bad you are.

{waves her hand for everyone to stop}

Ursula: We will try an easy exercise. You {points} no-light girl. You will sit in a chair and pretend you are driving a bus. The rest of you form a single-file line and she will stop the bus and pick the first person up. That person will display a tick or emotion, that no-light girl, will then have to mimic. When she stops to pick the next person, that person will have a new emotion that the driver and the passenger will have to mimic. This will go on until the bus is full.

Girl: I don’t see a chair to sit in.

Ursula: I don’t have a chair. What, do you think this is a fancy place that has chairs? I don’t even have a liver. I am still rationing from the war! Sit on the floor.

Girl: {pretends to drive and then stops the bus, where a young man is weeping}

Ursula: {watches the two of them weeping} No, no, no. That is not how you weep. Weep like Samuel Beckett has just left you for a younger woman.

{they resume their weeping}

Ursula: Oh my god, this is garbage. Watch how I weep. {face remains stoic} Don’t you think I wept, when the Nazis marched through my village in Poland? Well, I didn’t, because we didn’t weep back then, but still I weep better than you. Pick up the next passenger.

{girl is gesticulating with her hands, pretending to be hysterical}

Ursula: This is not bad. I like you hysterical girl.

{The rat from the corner comes out to watch the students; it is also smoking a cigarette.}

Ursula: Ok, so far hysterical girl is my favorite. Next passenger.

{an older woman pretends to be angry}

Ursula: This is not anger; I need raw emotion. Be angry like Lee Strasberg, has just told you that you are the worst actress he has ever seen. {clinches her fist and breaks the fluorescent bulb, the room is now completely dark}

{A few of the students are able to feel their way out the door to freedom}

Ursula: Now, continue. Don’t think that because it is completely dark, that I can’t see your poor acting, because I can.

{next guy pretends that something is funny, everyone else remains still, because they can’t see what he is doing}

Ursula: So, you think you are a funny man?

Guy: How can you even see what I am doing?

Ursula: My eyes are like an owl. We lived in the dark when I was a girl. There was no light; the sun didn’t shine then. We were all tragic figures.

{last person/passenger pretends to be surprised}

Ursula: Ha! You are not surprised. Surprise is when your entire village gets struck with a cholera epidemic. This is surprise! {hurls smoking rat at the students}

{Everyone screams and bumps into each other trying to exit the room}

Ursula: Our time is up together. You will need to pay by next week, if you haven’t already. I need to buy some cabbage and my cat needs a new shawl.

4 thoughts on “No Exit

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