Cary Pepper More One-Act Plays

EVERYTHING’S JAKE ON THE JERSEY TURNPIKE
While driving to work one night, radio DJ Jake Jasper has to leave his ‘82 Buick on the Exit #7 ramp
of the New Jersey Turnpike because the car suddenly stops running.
After Jake lets off a little steam in a spontaneous on-air rant about the situation,
his fans spontaneously decide to rally round their favorite DJ by saving his car.
Too bad they’re saving it one piece at a time.
Perth Amboy ain’t called Strip City for nothing.

2M
(Several Voices heard over a phone)


CROSSED
JERUSALEM. c. 33 AD

ZERIAS, a cynical outlaw, arrives in Jerusalem eager to launch his latest quick-score scheme:
break into a newly-opened tomb, steal the body, and ransom it back to the family.
Worked every time in Samaria, where Zerias has been for the last several months.

His accomplice, MATAR, warns him “Jerusalem is complicated.”

But Zerias will not be deterred. “This is a good idea,” he responds. “If you pick the right body.”

In fact, just as he arrived in Jerusalem this very day, he stumbled upon a rich man’s tomb
carved into a hillside.
Newly-opened. With a body inside.

2M  / 1W


Finalist - 2014 Arts & Letters Drama Prize (Georgia College).


TIME SQUARED
A man walks into an empty bar...
And starts talking to the Bartender about what’s on his mind.

“Where does time go?” DON (the man) muses aloud.
“It’s around the corner,” CARL (the bartender) tells him. “Actually, it’s in the back yard.”

And so Don learns about the Vortex.

If you go in, it gives you back a moment from your past.
But it also takes a moment from you.

You can choose the moment you get back.
You have no control over the moment you lose.

And you can go in only once.

Will Don go in?
Would you?

2M / 1W



MARK MY WORMS
MASON has been cast in a newly-discovered, never-before-seen play by the world-class absurdist
LaSalle Montclare.

On the first day of rehearsal, he learns that Montclare’s estate is insisting the play be performed
exactly as Montclare wrote it. Not a word can be changed.

Problem is, Montclare was a terrible typist. Which is why the play opens with Mason holding his costar
at gunpoint and saying, “I’ve got a bun.”

And his next line is “Come out or I’ll hoot.”

When Mason threatens to quit the show, John points out that critics love Montclare. All his plays
get rave reviews like this one: “Montclare is a world-class absurdist with an amazing ear for language,
who turns society’s foibles squarely on their heads with devastating comic effect.”
That was The New York Times.

Mason’s costar, GLORIA, has just read a Ph.D. thesis on Montclare and understands him perfectly:
Montclare’s unique dialogue should not be viewed within the framework of the
traditional communication paradigm.

Soon Mason is wondering if he’s the only sane person in the room.

Which is when John mentions there’s already so much media buzz surrounding this play
that all their careers are about to go into the stratosphere. “Are you going to walk away from that?”

Let’s start over. From the hoot...

2M / 1W


ALSO AVAILABLE AS A 10-MINUTE PLAY - I'VE GOT A BUN


JUST ASKING
Lawyer Roger Ellis (30s) arrives at Mrs. Mendelson’s (90s) door with a document from her husband, Julius,
demanding she stop contacting him.
Imagine John’s surprise when he learns Julius is dead.

Seems that Julius, wanting to teach his wife a lesson, and arranged this legal action before he died.
And Roger’s coworkers, knowing he has a personal hatred of mediums,  gave him this job as a joke.

It would all be so simple if Mrs. Mendelson agreed to stop contacting Julius.
But she won’t because she doesn’t know how to program her VDR to record programs in advance.
So Roger has to return the next day, with another legal document.
Which is when he’s told that Mrs. Mendelson’s is talking not only to Julius, but also Roger’s dead mother.
“Who, by the way, wants to know did you ever marry that nice girl you were seeing? Yvette.”

Roger knows Mrs. Mendelson can’t be in contact with the dead.
Then why, each time he returns with yet another legal document, does she know more and more
about his childhood?

1W / 1M


ALSO AVAILABLE AS A 10-MINUTE PLAY -  VERY SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS


Q.E.D.
LEO, BARRY, PAM, and SARA are long-time friends who enjoy spending time with one another.
But Leo wishes they could talk about something for more than five-minutes without someone reaching for their phone
and getting pictures of it, learning how to spell it, researching it, buying tickets for it, or clicking on links somehow related to it.

When he finally brings this up one evening at his house, and suggests that his three friends can’t be device-free for an evening,
Barry takes umbrage and bets him they can.

Leo won’t bet money. But he will bet this: They have to be untethered for rest of the evening. Whoever reaches for their phone loses.
And the loser has to be the winner’s servant for a day.

Out to prove that Leo is dead wrong, Barry agrees to the bet and gets Pam and Sara to join him.

After Leo has them turn off their phones and put them in a basket that he places on a nearby bookcase, they resume their evening.

It goes well enough for a while... Sara even likes being untethered.
Until one of the phones starts signaling an incoming text.
Looks like someone didn’t turn theirs off.

As the phone keeps sounding with text after text, Barry, Pam, and Sara get increasingly uneasy.

Is it, as Leo suggests, merely someone sending pictures of their soufflé, or saying they just arrived at a movie theater
and are eating popcorn while waiting for the film to begin, or sending a selfie they didn’t have to take to begin with?

Or is it, as the three of them fear with greater and great urgency, something Big happening out there? Something Important

Then they turn on one another, hurling accusations and recriminations about whose fault all this is.

Could it be that Untethered is harder than most of us would like to think?


2M / 2W



DEATH DOES LARRY
Yesterday was the worst day of LARRY’S life. Today is the second-worst because he woke up this morning.
Now he’s sitting on a park bench, wondering if he wants to live or die.

Which is when DEATH sits down next to him, and informs Larry that he was supposed to kill him yesterday, but forgot.
“Sorry. My bad.”

Dressed as he (or she) is (tie, sweater vest, and a hat with earflaps), Larry finds it hard to believe this is really Death.
When he’s finally convinced, his skepticism turns to anger. “If you’d killed me yesterday morning, I wouldn’t have gone through all that.
If you’d killed me yesterday night, I wouldn’t have had to wake up to it today! If you’d just done your job!”

Death’s repeated apologies aren’t making Larry feel any better. But Death has come up with a way to make it up to Larry -
It’ll be quick, it’ll be painless, and before he goes, Larry can pick one other person to die.
“And this is gonna do what for me?” Larry wants to know
“I don’t know,” replies Death. “It was the first thing I came up with. I decided to go with it.”

2M or 1M / 1W

Finalist - 2017 Arts & Letters Prize in Drama. Arts & Letters - Journal of Contemporary Culture.




HOW'S BRUNO?
Nick (early 20’s) is sitting in a coffee shop working on his laptop when he gets a text: “How’s Bruno?”
Nick has no idea who Bruno is, but, liking a goof as much as the next person, he texts back: “Bruno is fine.”

He’s more annoyed than amused by the next text: “Did Bruno see The Doctor?”
Texting back for the final time, he responds “Bruno saw the doctor. Doctor said he’s good to go.”
And that, as far as Nick is concerned, is the end of it.

Until, soon after, two men enter the coffee shop, settle themselves at Nick’s table, and start asking Nick questions.
About Bruno.
Think Black Helicopters and deep-cover Code Names.

When the men discover that Nick knows (no, really, he doesn’t) that Bruno saw The Doctor,
got the pastries, the napkins, and the tablecloth, and is ready for the Picnic,
they decide they have no choice but to call The Sandman.
“Don’t bother to run,” they warn Nick as they leave. “The Sandman will find you.”

Alone again, Nick isn’t sure exactly what just happened. Or what he should do next.
Which is when another man enters the coffee shop and sits down at Nick’s table.
“Who are you?” Nick asks.
“I’m Bruno. Tell me everything.”

4M


Also available as a 10-minute play - Bruno Saw The Doctor.