Summary: The head of a ballet school discusses the stage setting for her new presentation with a pretty dodgy handiman. As they discuss the main feature, the tree of promise, it soon become evident that to keep a living thing alive, it has to stay connected.
Style: Comedy-drama. Duration: 10min
Actors: 1M, 1F
Jan: Principal of a prominent ballet school. (Jan carries a clipboard and pen.) Jan is used to getting things done her way and she very stressed about the problems arising with the set of her very important ballet school performance. She recognizes Tom is her only hope of getting what she needs because time has run out so she tries to keep calm and explain things to him as patiently as she can. But she’s clearly exasperated.
Tom: Handyman, hired by Jan to work on scenery for an imminent production. (Tom is wearing overalls, has a smear of paint on his face and carries a paintbrush and paint can.) Tom is well meaning, hard working a bit rough, and not real bright. Rough enough has always been good enough where he’s worked before. He genuinely thinks his suggestions are reasonable and viable and thinks Jan is just a bit demanding.
(Jan wanders onto the stage intently reading her clipboard. Tom walks through the congregation to the stage and approaches Jan. She doesn’t notice him until he’s close to her, then she looks up from her clipboard. )
Jan: So, how’s the stage looking? All ready for tonight’s big opening?
Tom: It looks good. Real good. The sky’s a bright blue, just like you wanted. The burnt bushes in the distant stand out like you said they should.
Tom: There’s just one small hiccup.
Tom: Well, disaster.
Jan: What is it?
Tom: We found a strong, healthy looking tree for the main feature and cut off the top four metres. And let me say, it looked great.
Jan: So what’s the problem?
Tom: We might have cut the tree just a little bit too soon.
Jan: How soon?
Tom: A month ago.
Jan: What! Why on earth did you do it so early?
Tom: Jonno had his father-in-law’s chain saw for the weekend and he let me use it on the tree. He had to give it back after that so there wasn’t anything I could do.
Jan: (Takes a deep breath to calm herself.) Okay, how bad is the tree?
Tom: It’s dead. Deceased. Cactus. Gone.
Jan: How can we get a replacement tree?
Tom: In this storm? Not gunna happen. But don’t worry, I’ve got an idea. Maybe I can spray it with green paint.
Jan: How would that look?
Tom: Well, actually I tried it on part of the tree and it looks pretty good.
Jan: That’s good.
Tom: Except that it makes the leaves fall out. It will be bare, but it will be green. It doesn’t look anything like any trees we have on earth. So I was thinking maybe you could slightly change your setting and have an alien theme; set on a planet where they have bare green trees.
Jan: An alien theme?
Tom: Yeah, give all your dancers antennae and green skin.
Jan: This ballet is based on a true story, Tom. It took place in Riverview in 1945, not Mars in 2045.
Tom: Well, if you’re gunna be picky about it, maybe I could get my niece to make some leaves and flowers to stick onto it.
Jan: How old is your niece?
Tom: She’s 4. She makes lovely tissue flowers.
Jan: We can’t expect our patrons to pay $100 to see a tree inspired by Play School!
Tom: Wow! They’re paying $100 a head, and you’re only paying me …
Jan: (speaks over him) Let’s get back to the point. The tree is pivotal to the story. The entire village was burned down by a savage bushfire and that tree was the only thing left standing. That’s why it’s referred to as “The Tree of Promise”. It inspired the town’s people to rebuild their town and their lives. We need something larger than life in the middle of that stage, not a lifeless stick.
Tom: (Thinks for a moment.) Have you noticed what’s in the courtyard?
Jan: A drinking fountain and a rubbish bin?
Tom: No. The boulder. The one with the plaque on it. It looks kind of … majestic. I reckon I could get Kenny’s forklift and move it onto the stage. Then you’d have something impressive.
Jan: The town’s people were not inspired to rebuild their lives by a rock that didn’t burn.
Tom: Maybe your dance could be set in the days of cave men and the rock could have saved the town’s people from a giant dinosaur. If I whipped out now I reckon I could get some old fur coats from the op shop to cut up for costumes.
Jan: Robert Murray and Margaret Henderson who lived through the whole thing will be our guests tonight. They expect to see the story in its authentic historical setting.
Tom: I suppose I could paint a tree onto the boulder, but you’re really pushing the boundaries of my job description.
Jan: (Suddenly has an idea.) The courtyard!
Tom: (Sarcastically) The one with the drinking fountain and the rubbish bin?
Jan: And that remarkably tall pot plant.
Tom: It wasn’t my fault. I know I should have turned it, but I got busy doing other things. I can’t be everywhere at once!
Jan: What are you babbling about?
Tom: That pot plant. The reason it’s grown so tall is because the roots have gone through the hole in the bottom of the pot into the ground.
Jan: I don’t know how it happened, but I do know that tree is vibrant and full of life. It may not be as tall as the original but if we place some of the burnt bush scenery in front of it, we might just have our setting. Quick, get to work and bring that pot plant inside.
Tom: Well, I guess there’s a lesson in this for all of us.
Jan: Yes. The lesson you need to remember is that when you chop off part of a tree, it won’t be long before it’s dead. Deceased. Cactus. Gone. If you want it to be vibrant and full of life you’d better keep it connected.
Jan: I’ve learned a lesson too.
Tom: What’s that?
Jan: If you want a job done properly, don’t call on Tom’s V.I.P. Handyman Services.
© Copyright Lyn Morgan, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.