WHILE YOU WERE AWAY – A play by the Fall 2015 Documentary Theatre Class (RCHUM 334)
Scene #1: “Collateral Consequences” written by Mary Heinen
Setting is in a garage in a residential neighborhood. Garage door is open. It’s late at night. The
audience is facing the front of the garage directly. It’s attached to the house. There’s a single
lightbulb hanging overhead in the middle. Speed bikes hang on the wall to the far left.
Two large coolers full of ice sit to the right by the door going into the house up a step. There’s a
back door to the left leading to a patio and downstairs to a bathroom. On the back wall are shelves
with household storage and an old stereo set with speakers. It’s plugged in and playing on a
pop/soul station. The cars are all in the street.
It’s a holiday weekend in summer. Fireflies and mosquitoes play in the light. Stiney sits in one of
those foldup chairs you get as a free gift at the bank, calmly drinking a Budweiser, the King of Beers,
and munching on Doritos, nachos with cheese. She’s smashed.
Stine calls out to the house:
Hey Pete! Pete! Get me another beer, will ya? We’re almost out! This is the last cold Bud. We
drank up all in da cooler. I think there’s some in the house.
Stine is wearing a tee shirt and shorts. She’s sunburned. Her messy blonde hair is clean, but she’s
disheveled. She’s slurring and pausing her words. She has on flip flops, her wedding ring, and the
necklace her husband gave her for her fortieth birthday.
Nuttin like the King of Beers. Love me a good party in the garage. What did I do with my
smokes? Oh…that’s right…I quit.
She’s surrounded by a circle of chairs of all kinds, but people are in and out. She continues to eat
cheese nacho Doritos.
Hey! Turn that up! That’s my favorite song! She sings: UNITY…that’s my UNITY…UNITY…UNITY
is all love you know, that’s what we are…we are all love.
You know I love you, right? You’re my sisser. I love you. We’re all love.
You know I used to think you were in a mental institution. Mom and Dad couldn’t talk about you
without crying. They unplugged the TV for years. They used to send you boxes like you were in the
hospital. They had everything: soap, toothpaste, towels, even Flex shampoo like they had in the old
days. I thought you were sick or crazy. I didn’t know you went to prison until I was in high school
and almost 17. Pete told me one night smashed in the garage.
They used to tell people that fever you had as a kid when you had the measles caused brain
damage. Like you changed after that and were never the same again. Like your behavior was not
your fault, you know?
Big swill, more nachos
All I remember was being a little girl, then you were gone. I remember you took me to town and
bought me burnt peanuts. You know the kind with the bumpy candy shell? I hate burnt peanuts.
I remember swinging in the backyard of our old house. Someone was there in a clown costume. I
think it was Grant. I think he raped me.
Oh, that was you? I wasn’t raped? Really? I don’t remember.
Big swill, more nachos
Hey! turn that up! I want to hear that some more! UNITY! That’s some UNITY….
Hey Pete! Check on Dad…I think I heard him get up…he prolly has to go to the bathroom. I need
more beer…garage parties are the best. I can smoke out here and everybody leaves me alone.
You know I almost blew my brains out in the back yard last year. I really miss mumma. It’s not the
same with mumma not here. Thanks for letting me call you when I need to talk to mumma. It helps.
UNITY…that’s a unity…
You know I really am tired of being a teacher. 15 years. 15 years of being large and in charge. I
don’t always know what I’m doing. Like I got this promotion teaching IT and when I don’t know what
to do I ask the kids. They always know what to do.
They had shooter training for us. Shooter training. Have you ever had shooter training? They gave
us a flip chart and told us if there’s a shooter in the hallway block the door from inside with a big
piece of furniture and hide under our desk. Like a flip chart is gonna save us. Are you fucking
kidding me? Seriously? A flip chart?
Hey Pete! Check on Dad!
But I really love you. You’re my sisser. And I’m glad you’re back. Hey! I gotta go to the