Essay by

The Here & Now Project

Prime Target

Essay by

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

THE TIME: The present.
THE PLACE: A construction site in Kailua, Hawaii.

A group of angry protestors led by TOMMY, local militant decked out in all black and a black beret. He stands on a fruit crate before an irate CROWD. Some protestors carry homemade signs that read Target Someone Else, Locals First!, Bull’s-eye =Bullshit.

TOMMY
First they invade our islands with their diseases and their MTV...

CROWD
No more!

TOMMY
Then rape our culture…

CROWD No more!

TOMMY
And capitalize on the leavings. When does it end?

CROWD Today!

TOMMY relishes their applause before calming them.

TOMMY
Please. I want you all to give a warm aloha welcome to Sister Kalani. She’s brave enough to tell us her story. Come, Kalani. Approach the fruit crate of justice.

The CROWD applauds and parts as KALANI, sheepish, makes her way up front.

TOMMY
(To KALANI)
Tell the people what you told me.

KALANI
Um, well, my kids used to play in this park and because of this (she motions behind her at the construction), they can’t anymore. No more family picnics, my boys don’t have a place to skateboard, either…

She shakes her head, overcome with emotion. The CROWD murmurs, sympathetic.

KALANI
My family doesn’t have much, ok? My husband’s laid off. There’s no health insurance. This was the only family fun we could afford. (Angry through the tears) But now they’re driving us out.

MAN FROM THE CROWD
Never! Stand and fight!

As the CROWD chants “Fight! Fight! Fight!,” a BUSINESSMAN emerges from the construction. He holds a stack of papers. He approaches the fruit crate, nervous.
TOMMY
Ha. Here’s the Judas now.

CROWD
(Chants)
Judas! Judas!

TOMMY
I guess now you’ll tell us we gotta leave, yeah?

BUSINESSMAN
Well, actually—

TOMMY
(Overlapping)
‘Cause we got news for you. This is a peaceful assembly and we’re within our constitutional right to be here, right?

CROWD roars with cheers, hoots and claps.

BUSINESSMAN
I totally understand, sir. I just wanted to say a few words, if I may.

He tries to get on the crate. TOMMY stands firm.

TOMMY This is the fruit crate of justice. You wanna talk to my people, use the speed bump of treason.

BUSINESSMAN
Of course. I totally understand. My apologies.

BUSINESSMAN balances himself on the speed bump, clears his throat.

BUSINESSMAN
Ladies and gentlemen, I understand your frustration, but make no mistake the Target Corporation is committed to preserving the integrity of your town and the land it sits on.

CROWD murmurs loudly with disbelief.

BUSINESSMAN
After a dialogue with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the city council, we’ve decided not to build the Super Target as planned, but a smaller, more efficient store.

More murmurs of disbelief, but quieter.

BUSINESSMAN
And with the remaining land, we’re sponsoring a skate park and picnic area.

KALANI
Oh, well. That’s all right, I guess.

TOMMY
No, it’s not all right! This shark standing here in his fancy suit is here disturbing our land and uprooting our people—

BUSINESSMAN holds up the papers in his hand

BUSINESSMAN
I’ve also been given authority to hire the first hundred locals who turn in employment applications.

MAN FROM THE CROWD
You giving out jobs?

BUSINESSMAN
Yes, sir. The corporation prides itself on offering competitive wages and flexible schedules, as well as an optional 401(k).

TOMMY
Wake up, guys! They only “offer” the destruction of the indigenous people!

MAN FROM THE CROWD
(To BUSINESSMAN)
Lemme ask you something. Can I still apply even if I don’t have my G.E.D. yet?

KALANI
Yeah. My husband doesn’t have one, either.

TOMMY
You don’t have G.E.Ds because of the imperialist practices of—

BUSINESSMAN
(Overlapping)
Of course you can apply.

MAN FROM THE CROWD approaches the speed bump, grabs his application. KALANI does the same. The rest of the CROWD clamors for applications. Soon, the applications and the CROWD are gone and it’s just the BUSINESSMAN and TOMMY. Speedbump and fruit crate, locked in an uncomfortable silence.

BUSINESSMAN
So… Those went quickly.

TOMMY
Ha. One-hundred traitors.

BUSINESSMAN
Ninety-nine.

He pulls an application out of his jacket pocket, and hands it to TOMMY.

BUSINESSMAN
We’re always looking for people with superior communication skills.

Silence. TOMMY takes the application, cautious.

TOMMY
Hm. Well, I gotta think about it. ‘Cause. You know.

BUSINESSMAN
(With a smile)
I totally understand.

THE END

Playwright’s Note:
With Kailua’s growing population comes the inevitable need for amenities. Working against this notion is the prevailing “keep the country country” attitude; there are even bumper stickers that say “I love Kailua—before you got here.” But time marches on. Our recently built Whole Foods delayed opening due to protests, petitions, and the typical griping. Now that construction has begun on a Target, and the town is split. Half the residents are upset because they think the store will bring more traffic, clogging the already congested roads. The other half—many transplants and military—are relieved because it will eliminate the forty-five minute drive across the island to get to the other Target. To a relative outsider like me, the level of intensity with which some are opposed to new construction is usually the kind reserved for the violation or denial of basic human rights rather than the building of a store.

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A call to to playwrights from across the United States to bring to light stories representing the whole conversation happening in this country.

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