Other Plays by James Elward
Elward, James (American playwright, novelist, 1929-1996), “Passport,”
a __-minute drama, set in the living room of Charlie’s apartment, in the West 80s, New York City, midnight, February 8, 1965,
© 1998 by James Elward;
• in James Elward’s Friday Night, acting edition (New York: Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 1998), ISBN 0822204258, DPS 2045, containing and can pair with James Elward’s “Mary Agnes Is Thirty-Five,” a __-minute comedy, 1m1f;
• script/rights available from Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 440 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10015, U.S.A., telephone 212-683-8960, fax 212-213-1539, http://www.dramatists.com.
• Cited in 1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays, vol 1, (Lanham, Maryland, U.S.A.: The Scarecrow Press, 1995), ISBN 0810829851, 273 pp.
Charlie Meseger, 41 [m], a drunken failure.
Charlie, a little drunk from celebrating the start of the weekend, returns home to find mail inside his door. He sorts through and reads some of the mail, satirizing its impersonality. Somewhat maudlin, he considers telephoning Emily, his ex-wife, whose lawyer cleaned him. What about his father, who would only compare him adversely to his brother Len? Charlie mulls over some sort of temporary visa from life. What about telephoning the “Redhead in the Village,” the poet? She is missing from his address book. What about his psychiatrist, Dr. Cerdek? Or Fatso, really John M. Treshler, advertising editor and his boss? Charlie recognizes that he will call nobody, nor will he use the passport. He thinks about working on “After This, Our Exile,” his unfinished novel; he fantasizes about success. Dissatisfied after reading a few passages, he browses his college yearbook. Then a rumpled wedding picture calls to mind his failed marriage. Self-loathing grows. Returning his attention to the telephone, he fumbles onto a recorded voice giving the time. He cries out in frustration his fears to the voice. He takes a bottle of pills from his pocket, counts out an overdose. However, drunkenness lulls him into unconsciousness, and “the pills dribble down from his relaxed hand on to the floor.
“‘Passport’ deals with a lonely middle-aged newspaperman, a little the worse for drink and sadly convinced of his ineffectiveness and failure as a person. Out of his monologue spoken perhaps with the aching desire that someone will miraculously hear, and care, comes a remarkable portrait of a man alone—wanting to feel alive again; but reconciled to an existence without real meaning or purpose.”—Friday Night - playdatabase.com, http://www.playdatabase.com/, accessed February 3, 2006.
• Premiered February 8, 1965.
• Charlie is a drunk, a failure with family, friends, and employer. Nonetheless, audience sympathy for the character is imperative, so the performer should be capable of winsome humor. Charlie, in struggling against the odds, shows dignity; that striving redeems him to the audience. By accident, he survives; perhaps tomorrow he will win his struggle. The role can be played by either gender; race and ethnicity are irrelevant. For example, an African-American actress could give interesting dimensions to the character. Technical problems are slight.
advertising, address book, alcoholism, celebration, college yearbook, divorce, drugs, drunkenness, employee-employer relationship, failure, family, fantasy, father-son relationship, fear, friendship, frustration, impersonality, mail, marriage, pill overdose, psychiatry, recorded voice, self-esteem, self-loathing, sibling rivalry, success, suicide, survival, telephone, unconsciousness, unfinished novel, wedding picture, weekend.