A Play (Unfinished)
By Frank Hinton

(Illustrated by Emily Horn)


Scene 1

(stage is empty but for a little clump near the back. it is moving inconspicuously. it doesn’t feel as if it is part of the play, it very well may be some guy setting up some props at the back of the set. the lights haven’t come on, the audience may not yet be fully seated, this shape simply moves about in the distance of the stage, seen or unseen by the audience.)

(speaking inaudibly)

(something loud falls offstage and makes a terrible but brief sound. no offstage gasps or anything. the figure moves about undisturbed. frank begins to speak louder, mics go up. frank begins in the middle of a sentence.)

-won’t be anywhere near what you think but it doesn’t matter because i don’t care. i told you not to come here, not to visit because i basically don’t want to go out or go and do things or you know. (scratches head). whatever. (figure steps into a sliver of light, just enough to see this is actually an actor and that this is actually a play). i didnt ask for you and i don’t think i expressed any sort of urge or motivation to do it, i am just here and i think it’s clear i want to stay here so … i don’t know. should i say some other stuff or are you happy with that?

(frank turns to a spot at the back of the stage and flicks a switch and a blank computer screen can be seen, the white of the screen is the only light on stage. frank sits on the computer and clicks things in a non-random seeming way for ~30-40 minutes or until the audience is uncomfortable enough where maybe 10-20 have outright walked out of this production.)

(on a table somewhere a phone vibrates. frank picks it up after three vibrations and puts it to her ear while still using the computer.)

yeah i know. im sorry. im sorry. i know. (pause) im sorry about that. i dont expect you to keep doing things for me, i will eventually be able to do some things for myself. i think that i’ve already worked myself into a hole about this so maybe if we could talk about something else like maybe my day, or what im interested in at the moment or something related to me that isn’t intrinsically judgemental of me, that would be ok for us to talk about maybe. or we could- yes. i know. im sorry. no, dad hasn’t called. has he called you? (pause) i dont know i thought maybe sometimes you two called each other or something. i didn’t know it was like that. (pause). ok. i will yes.sorry. bye.

(frank puts the phone down and stands up and takes off her clothes and does a full yoga routine. frank walks to the middle of the stage and the lights become oppressively bright and we are to presume this is the bathroom. frank examines her form in the mirror/light shining down on her and takes note of each intricate feature on her body by touching it gently with the tips of her fingers. this is slow and methodical.)

(frank coughs and looks straight into the mirror and sees something and expresses a kind of delight and sadness all in once. frank walks offstage and a shower can be heard. after some time the water stops and frank can be heard crying a little. she walks onstage in a towel with wet hair and wipes her face. she moves back to the mirror and slaps herself in the cheek a few times until her face is red. frank bites her lip.)


Scene 1

(frank is sitting on a bus with the window facing the audience.)

(she looks out gently at the world and breathes a little condensation onto the glass. her mouth is obscured but her eyes are half-open, clear and sad. she takes a long moment to stare at the fog she's made on the window. slowly her tongue appears against the pane and she licks the condensation away like a kitty until there's nothing left. the bus is completely empty. the stage is very dim and preferably yellow.)

(frank pulls the stop-cord. the bus stops and she gets off. she is in front of a decrepit building with neon chinese characters above the door: 愈合森林. frank lights a cigarette and smokes and rubs her hands together because it is painfully cold outside, maybe even snowing. a grandfather and his grandson walk by and the grandson is running around as if he has ADHD. the grandson slips and falls and lays face-down.)

Get the hell off that ice.

(the grandson picks himself up and walks beside his grandfather and his grandfather whacks him in the head. frank exhales smoke. frank smokes a second cigarette for ~3 minutes in silence with minimal movement until the audience is comfortably uncomfortable. frank ashes a butt onto the brick wall and enters 愈合森林.)

Scene 2

(frank enters and the stage is dark except for a faint light on frank. at the far end of the stage is a large clump slowly rising and falling. every now and then a strange, soft beat occurs. it follows no tempo. frank sits on a chair near the door and stares across the stage at the clump.)

Hi. Ah, yes. (pause). This is the pretend conversation I'm supposed to have with you this week.

(frank scratches her head and then gets up and takes a step towards the breathing clump. in nearing it, her willingness to play along improves.)

-Sorry. Um. Things are good. I'm you know, still in the same spot I guess except for a few adjustments like, I don't know- well, my weight is sort of fluctuating. That’s one thing. I feel like I get to a good place every two-ish weeks and then I sort of reward myself with a treat and then I am all out of whack and I feel fat and then I feel super fat and I do drastic things. But, I don't know- I fasted all last week so I am feeling kind of purified from that, like I lost maybe seven or seven-and-a-half-pounds. So that's good, I think. Ah, I'm also sort of messed up in the money department. I think I lost my job, I haven't gone into work in maybe two weeks. The weird thing is though, my boss hasn't called me at all, so I feel like because there's no closure I'm not really fired. Like, he always really flirted with me and he even kind of hinted that we should go out once so I think he might be afraid to actually fire me because he still thinks he has a shot with me, but I'm like, afraid to go back into work because I sort of feel like I might have to hook up with him when I don't want to or I might actually be fired and I like missed his call or something since I don't have voicemail so, I don't know. I guess I just don't know if I'm fucked or not.

(frank stops and the clump continues to breath. frank straightens her back.)

I don’t know. Can you hear me? It’s weird. I just went out and I think I was kind of like thinking I want to die like you, although I know that’s wrong. I would love to just be sustained in silence and dead. So I go out and I get blind drunk and I sleep with guys, like, I’m sorry. I sleep with a lot of guys. I’ve got HPV and I’ve got something else but I’m afraid to confirm it. I’m pimply and weak and I feel like I don’t have an ounce of control over myself, you know, so I think about when you were awake and how you used to tell me things, snippets and I always kind of assumed or inferred that you just did what I’m doing but maybe not, I don’t know, that was in like the 50s or the 60s or things weren’t as fucked back then as they are now, I might be naive saying that, sorry. I don’t know.

(frank puts up a finger and goes into a room. frank pulls a chopstick out of her pocket and presses it into the back of her throat and vomits into the toilet and then comes back. she’s refreshed and glowing a little with cool perspiration.)

I just want you to know, I'm against all of this. I know you are too. It's not me keeping you alive, seriously. I am the only one that is voting for the other option. So ah, I don't wish death on you but I think what we're doing is probably sustaining you in a kind of endless dream where you constantly are forced to endure the limitless and uncontrollable realm of the subconscious without relief in the safer, more structured world of the concrete and material when awake. I wrote that down in a poem I wrote for you and it sounded better, I think. (Pause). I love you.

(Frank exits.)

Scene 3

(the lights come on and this SALEM video Till The World Ends plays in the background, projected. at center stage frank has very sad and isolated sex with a stranger. only her head can be seen, the rest of them are covered by a froth or blanket. at 2:38 into the song a petrifying scream can be heard. at this time the lights should come on and brightly illuminate everything on stage and the audience. the scene lasts until the video is finished and all lights fade out.)


frank hinton lives in halixfax, nova scotia


emily horn lives in toronto