The Here & Now Project

Stand Your Ground

Every Friday this summer, The Here & Now Project will post a new short play, written by one of four playwrights selected from across the US. These plays focus on dramatizing where these playwrights are and what’s happening there now. This play is by Rob Winn Anderson of Orlando, Florida.

 

THE TIME: Second week of June, 2012.

THE PLACE: A wrestling ring. Orlando, FL

A SIDELINE REPORTER, acting as Ring Announcer, stands center introducing the match.

SIDELINE REPORTER
Welcome to your Friday night match! The following contest is scheduled for one fall. Entering the ring now is the Challenger. Weighing in at 200 pounds. He is The Black Bear!

THE BLACK BEAR enters the ring. Note: He is actually a black bear.

SIDELINE REPORTER (cont.)
And, making his way down the aisle, throwing fruity candy snacks to the crowd, is your returning Heavyweight Champion, The Watchman!

THE WATCHMAN enters the ring. The competitors shake hands and retreat to their corners.The SIDELINE REPORTER moves to a position outside of the ring. He is joined by the WATCHMAN PROMOTER and the BEAR PROMOTER.

The match takes place behind and follows the dialogue as it plays out.

SIDELINE REPORTER (cont.)
Joining me ringside… Excuse me a moment.

(He blows his nose.  He sniffles throughout the play.)

Allergies are in full swing. As I was saying, here are the two Promoters for our grapplers. Tell us which fighter you support. Ladies first.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Hi. I’m The Watchman’s promoter.

SIDELINE REPORTER
His sweetheart, am I right?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
I plead the fifth.

SIDELINE REPORTER
But, you’re married?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Yes.

SIDELINE REPORTER
I’m confused.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
That’s the point.

SIDELINE REPORTER Okay… Can you at least tell me why this match is so important to him?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Honestly?

SIDELINE REPORTER
That would be nice.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
We need the dough.

SIDELINE REPORTER
He’s been on top for weeks now. You’d think the money would be pouring in.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
You’d think. But, nope, not a cent. Cross my heart.

SIDELINE REPORTER
(To BEAR PROMOTER)
So, you must be The Bear’s promoter.

BEAR PROMOTER
Yup.

SIDELINE REPORTER
Your boy’s got a look in his eyes.

BEAR PROMOTER
Hunger, man. It’s what drives him.

SIDELINE REPORTER
How long have you known about this matchup?

BEAR PROMOTER
Shit, this fell into our lap. He wasn’t expecting this at all. But, now that we got it.  Well, you’re looking at a new Champ. One round knockout. Guaranteed!

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Dream on, Boo Boo.

SIDELINE REPORTER
As you know, a win here tonight guarantees fame—continued for The Watchman and newly found for The Black Bear. This is a coveted prize. We have competitors vying for it on a daily basis. There will be articles, news coverage, internet focus and much more.

BEAR PROMOTER
The Black Bear, folks. You’ll be hearing more about him.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
The Watchman is all anybody talks about. That isn’t gonna change, Yogi.

SIDELINE REPORTER machine gun sneezes.

BEAR PROMOTER
Bro, get a shot or something.

SIDELINE REPORTER
Nothing works. I was going to say that this is really an interesting pairing. On the surface you wouldn’t think the Black Bear would offer much of a contest.

BEAR PROMOTER
There’s more to him than you think. He’s got some tricks up his sleeves.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
This better be fair and square. We’re all about being up front and above board.

BEAR PROMOTER
Sorry, lady, in this game anything goes.

SIDELINE REPORTER
(To WATCHMAN PROMOTER)
Do you want to back out?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Hell, no! We can hang.

BEAR PROMOTER
By the neck.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
That’s not funny!

The bell rings for the match to begin.

SIDELINE REPORTER
And there’s the bell! It looks to be a conservative start. They are both scanning for a weakness or an opening to make their play.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
C’mon, baby! Mama needs to make a deposit!

BEAR PROMOTER
Don’t forget your footwork! Dance, Bear, dance!
(To SIDELINE REPORTER)
Ace in the hole, buddy!

SIDELINE REPORTER
I’ll be the judge of that.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Yeah, I don’t get that. How come it’s your decision?

SIDELINE REPORTER
Years in the business. You develop an instinct for who the public is interested in. Wants to see more of.

BEAR PROMOTER
Why even battle it out then? Just make the damn call and we can move on.

SIDELINE REPORTER
It doesn’t work that way. It’s important to generate excitement. Build things up so you keep the people’s attention. It’s all about the numbers. If your boy can pull them in, he’ll take the top spot. If he can’t… Whoa! What kind of move do you call that?

BEAR PROMOTER
The Dumpster Dive.

SIDELINE REPORTER
Impressive. That’s a lot of flash. The public likes that.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
My baby’s got flash.
(To the ring)
Show ‘em the Stalker, hon!

SIDELINE REPORTER
(Watching)
Slow. Methodical. Nice! That left him reeling. These two are more equally matched than I thought.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Maybe. But only one can come out on top and that’s gonna be my guy. Kill ‘im, baby!

SIDELINE REPORTER
That seemed to get him even more fired up.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
He’s the muscle. I’m the brains. He listens.

SIDELINE REPORTER
(Putting in eye drops)
You are right that there are no ties in this kind of competition. Someone comes out the winner. Sell it to me as to why it should be your guy.

BEAR PROMOTER
No more of this ‘ladies first’ bullshit. I’ve got your answer plain and simple. My guy’s a charmer.

SIDELINE REPORTER
A potentially deadly charmer.

BEAR PROMOTER
Yeah, but no one cares about that. They see this cute and cuddly living replica of their favorite bedtime buddy and BAM! The kid can do no wrong. They wanna pet him and squeeze him. Stand around and take all kinds of pics of him.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
‘Til he bites their freakin’ head off.

BEAR PROMOTER
The chance you take. Check this out.
(He shows them his iphone)
This video went viral in a couple of hours.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Aw. That is kind of cute.

BEAR PROMOTER
All in the swag, baby. Gotta know how to play it.

SIDELINE REPORTER
(Watching ring)
Ouch! That had to hurt. Seems like the Watchman has the upper hand. Listen to that crowd.

Crowd noises.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
He’s a superstar. You can’t buy that kind of appeal.

SIDELINE REPORTER
Well, you certainly can’t because you’re broke.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Yes. We. Are. I told you that once already!

BEAR PROMOTER
Damn. You got some fire. Looks like you and your hubby are more of a tag team.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
I’ve got his back.
(She doesn’t like what she sees happening in the ring)
Hey! Bear! That’s too rough!
(To SIDELINE REPORTER)
He’s too rough.
(To THE BLACK BEAR)
You don’t wanna piss him off! Believe me!

SIDELINE REPORTER
I don’t know, guys. This is going to be a tough one to call.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Don’t you worry. There’ll be a clear winner. We’re not done yet.

SIDELINE REPORTER
(Putting a nasal strip on his nose)
You talk about “we” quite a bit. Is he okay with you sharing his spotlight?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
We both know who’s center ring. Situation like this it’s important to have a team behind you.

BEAR PROMOTER
My boy’s a loner. He don’t need anyone. He gets pushed down and he pops right back up.

SIDELINE REPORTER
I heard he was driven out of his local club.

BEAR PROMOTER
What of it? Jealous M F-ers. They saw talent and they didn’t want him in their territory. So, yeah, they pushed him out. But, now who’s in front? Huh? It’s all about The Black Bear. Those other guys? No one even knows who they are.

SIDELINE REPORTER
Well, I have to tell you, I am impressed with both of our contenders here today. This is going to be a tough, tough decision. What’s something that I don’t know that might give your guy the edge?

BEAR PROMOTER
Here’s something—

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Back off, Ranger Smith! This will seal the deal. So, my husband has this cell phone, right? Got it just before he got noticed. So, the media… Fucktards. No offense. They put his cell number right out there. Everybody finds out what it is.

SIDELINE REPORTER
The way I understand it The Watchman was the one who put it out there.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Not for the world to know! Anyway, that doesn’t matter. So, of course, he doesn’t want the phone anymore. And, wouldn’t you know it? Some poor schmuck goes to get himself a new phone and, whadda you think happened? Right! They give him my husband’s old number. So, now, this new guy is getting all kinds of threats ‘cause they think it’s The Watchman they’re calling. Fans can be batshit sometimes, am I right?

SIDELINE REPORTER blows his nose in response.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Now this guy’s freakin’ out. He moves. Gets rid of the number. And he wants to sue.

SIDELINE REPORTER
You?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
No, not us! We don’t have any money!

BEAR PROMOTER
That’s not new info. I read that a couple of days ago in some rag.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
It’s a good story ass wipe!

BEAR PROMOTER
Bite me.

SIDELINE REPORTER
(To BEAR PROMOTER)
Can you do better?

BEAR PROMOTER
Yeah. Give me a second.

SIDELINE PROMOTER
The Black Bear looks like he’s tiring.

BEAR PROMOTER
Part of the strategy.
(To THE BLACK BEAR)
Show him who’s boss!

SIDELINE REPORTER
And, your story?

BEAR PROMOTER
Look, what more do you need to know? The dude’s in new territory. He’s showed up here not knowing what kind of shit he’s getting into. This isn’t a walk in the park, you know?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
He’s climbing up on the ropes! Watch out, baby! Why’s he just sitting up there?

BEAR PROMOTER
Taking his time. You don’t want to rush into the kill.
(To THE BLACK BEAR)
Atta boy! Keep ‘em guessing!
(To SIDELINE REPORTER)
See?  That’s all you need to know. He’s got skills. He’s not welcome in this arena and he still keeps his cool.
(To WATCHMAN PROMOTER)
He doesn’t panic and make some dumbass move.
WATCHMAN PROMOTER
(To SIDELINE REPORTER)
Can I talk to you? Over here?

BEAR PROMOTER
Hey!

SIDELINE REPORTER
Relax.
They move to the side.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Look. My husband looks like he’s in trouble.

SIDELINE REPORTER
He has to figure it out for himself. You can’t bail him out of everything.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Are you sure?

She pulls out a secret stash of money.

SIDELINE REPORTER
You lied to get him the match?

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
He’s my baby.

SIDELINE REPORTER
That’s good bull.

He takes the money.

BEAR PROMOTER
What the fuck?!
(He pulls out a jar of honey and teases the SIDELINE REPORTER with it)
Local honey… His own brand. Great for what ails ya…

SIDELINE REPORTER takes the honey.

SIDELINE REPORTER
We’ll call it a draw.

WATCHMAN PROMOTER
Nooooo!!!!
(She attacks the BEAR PROMOTER and a brawl ensues)
You’re not stealing our thunder!

BEAR PROMOTER
This is our day, bitch!

The fight becomes very violent as it moves into the ring.

THE WATCHMAN backs off and he and THE BLACK BEAR watch the fight. As the fight continues…

SIDELINE REPORTER
These two are determined to make a name for their competitors.
(To the crowd)
Who’s going to take it all? Is it The Watchman?

The crowd goes wild.

SIDELINE REPORTER (cont.)
Is it The Black Bear?

The crowd goes wild.
THE WATCHMAN pulls out a tranquilizer gun and shoots THE BLACK BEAR.

SIDELINE REPORTER (cont.)
And…The Watchman has shot The Black Bear with a tranquilizer gun.

THE BLACK BEAR collapses to the ring floor. Riotous noises from the crowd.

SIDELINE REPORTER (cont.)
Now, the crowd has turned on The Watchman.
(He begins to eat the honey)
Yessiree. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a match. I can see the headlines now…

The fight continues.
The SIDELINE REPORTER eats.
THE BLACK BEAR lies sleeping, innocently, in the ring.
THE WATCHMAN runs for his life.

Lights fade on the play. Curtain.

Note from the Playwright: What spurred the idea for this play is my frustration—or complete and utter irritation— with our local news. In Orlando there really is no middle ground as to what is determined to be a "top story." You either get something that has attracted national and international attention (hanging chads, Casey Anthony, Trayvon Martin, etc.) or a black bear hanging out in a tree on a well-traveled thoroughfare. Either extreme can be deemed breaking news! at any given time. But, important issues that affect our citizens on a very personal level, such as Florida's FCAT or the homeless population and their treatment or our unemployment rate which is higher than the national average, seem too commonplace to warrant a "top story" label. I will say that if there were not an audience for these sideshows then the trend towards sensationalism might be different. As consumers we have to step up and share the responsibility. Oh, and allergy season lately really sucks.

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