Have you ever been tied up to a chair that was tied to train tracks? Or had two ghosts in your room that wouldn’t leave and had an affinity for 80’s montages? Perhaps you’ve questioned what it would be like to be stuck in a terrible nursery rhyme. Or (and this is by far the most likely scenario) have you wished, dreamed that you had a guardian squirrel?
My new scene collection, Tied Up, is available here from Big Dog Publishing. In it, I tackle all of the rather bizarre questions above with various characters stuck in absurd situations. The scenes are short and fun to perform, read, or discuss over coffee at a locally owned coffee shop. Today, we will take a look at one of the scenes: the titular Tied Up.
Tied Up (2 F, 5-7 mins) is about Becca, who finds herself tied to a chair that is tied to a train track. She seems doomed to die until Zoe passes by on her way to a rather specific conference. Will Zoe help free Becca from certain doom – or will a dark secret from her past prevent her from helping, thus ensuring Becca’s rather painful death?
When I write, I love to take a situation that in the real world seems completely unbelievable and place it in a world where it’s considered normal. That the characters’ actions and motivations, though somewhat foreign to us, are perfectly acceptable and truthful in the world of the play. Tied Up is one of those scenes. The idea for it came from an ending that I wanted to have – the whole scene is built around it. I have to say, this scene’s ending is my favorite that I’ve ever written. (Of course, you won’t see the ending here. You have to get a copy of the script for that.)
The snapshot below happens at the beginning of the scene. Becca is tied up in a chair that is tied to train tracks. She is quite distressed, though who wouldn’t be? She is looking around, hoping for someone who can help. At that moment, Zoe, wearing a rather large name tag, enters hurriedly.
ZOE: Excuse me. Do you have the time?
BECCA: I’m a bit tied up at the moment.
ZOE: I’m sorry I bothered you, but I believe I’m late for the “Conference for People Who Often Find Themselves Alone in a Room Full of People While Wearing Nametags.” Or “CFPWOFTAIARFOPWWN” for short. (Becca nods.) It’s meeting on the corner of 6th and Elm. (Turns to leave.)
BECCA: It wouldn’t be a bother if I weren’t tied up. (Zoe turns back to Becca.)
ZOE: I completely understand.
BECCA: No. I don’t think you do. I’m tied up. Here. To this train track. While sitting in a chair. (Zoe walks over and finally understands. She gasps slightly.)
ZOE: But why? (Puts hand on Becca’s shoulder.) Did you do this to yourself?
BECCA: What? No. Someone did this to me.
ZOE: Who would do such a thing?
BECCA: Someone who thinks I know too much.
ZOE: Do you? (Becca looks at her quizzically.) Know too much?
ZOE : Oh. (Silence) Would you like me to untie you?
BECCA: Would you?
ZOE : Of course. (She walks behind chair and kneels down. She suddenly stands up and walks away and looks off.) I’m sorry. I – I can’t.
BECCA: Why? Is it because you don’t want to get involved?
ZOE: (Still looking away) No. That’s not it.
BECCA: Is it because you have a crippling phobia of train tracks and the people tied to them?
ZOE: (Turns and looks at her for a moment.) No. Though I do seem to be breaking out in hives.
BECCA: Is it because you don’t want to help someone who siphoned all of the water from a small farming village’s water tower, thus leaving that quaint little village dry and barren?
ZOE: You did that?
BECCA: Would that be a reason for you not to help me?
BECCA: Then . . . no.
BECCA: If it’s none of those things, why won’t you untie me?
ZOE: It’s because . . . I can’t tell you.
BECCA: Sure you can.
ZOE: No. (Turns away.) I’ve never told anyone before.
BECCA: Then this is the perfect opportunity. And mind you, that was said with a comforting hand on your shoulder which I couldn’t really do because I’m tied up.
ZOE: (Turns back to her.) You know, even before you told me . . . I felt that comforting hand. (Pause.) Maybe I should tell you.
BECCA: You should. And not because I want you to untie me before I get crushed by a train, though I have to admit that’s part of it. But the main reason . . . is because . . . I want you to trust me. (Zoe turns and looks at her thoughtfully.)
ZOE: For some reason, I feel like I can. (Silence as Zoe walks downstage some. She looks out.) The knot they used to tie you up with is . . . a double fisherman’s knot. (Silence. BECCA looks at her dumbfounded.)
What happened to Zoe that involves a double fisherman’s knot – and whatever it was, will she be able to overcome it in time to save Becca?
Nope. Becca gets crushed by the train.
Just kidding. Maybe.
This scene, like the others in the collection, are perfect for middle- and high-school-aged students. They’re fun, workable, fast-paced, and they help develop young actors’ skills, especially with comedic timing.
Next week, we’ll take a look at another scene from the collection, which happens to be the best thing I’ve ever written, in my wife’s opinion. (Truth. –Ed.) And yes, it involves a talking squirrel.
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