Sarah Quick

Playwright: Actor: Director


Act 1 Scene 1

NEWS              …There was sad news today for the town of Elliston Falls as Flackston International confirmed that they would be closing the Mill there sooner than anticipated. As Mill workers arrived back after the Christmas break for what they expected to be a meeting to discuss future layoffs they were instead told that the mill, which began manufacturing paper products in 1897, was to shut down for good in just two months…

NEWS              …as we walk through the streets here in this run down rural town we can see the effects that the Mills closure has had on every aspect of life here. March has brought no respite to the harsh winter, businesses are closed, more jobs are lost every day and hope has long since been abandoned…

NEWS              …Three months after the Mill’s closure unemployment figures have hit an all-time high for this sleepy Ontario town. 13.7%. Over twice the national average.And in other news Lindsay Lohan has been arrested following a DUI incident last night that left her Mercedes…

LOCAL NEWS            …Rise and shine Elliston. Good morning. You’re listening to P-Zaz Radio, your local station for everything you need to know. We’re formerly Key 102 and prior to that ELAY Radio but you’ve always found us right here at 101.7. Some good news this morning. The job that we told you about last week over at the Lucasville plant has been gotten by our very own Thomas Bonnar. Your buddies are over the moon for you Tommy and we wish you all the luck in the world. For those of you that aren’t riding quite so high this morning here’s Rascall Flatts with ‘Stand’ to remind you that you’re gonna be alright. We can get through this Elliston…

Blackout

Act 1 Scene 2

Lights up. Terri, Barb and Mary are assembled in a meeting room.

(Church basement ‘type’ place)

TERRI                         Hello ladies. Welcome to Wednesday night Weight Watchers. I’m Terri and I’m your new leader. Now as it’s our first meeting together I’d just like to give you a little recap of the overall programme. (laughs nervously, clears her throat). So, as I’m sure you’re all aware. Everyone is allocated a different number of flex points based on their age, height, weight, gender…male or female…whether you have an active or sedentary occupation and whether you are a nursing mother. Ok?

OTHERS:       (Murmur.) OK, sure, absolutely.

TERRI                        Now, Flex points are determined by calculating calories, fat and fibre content of food. You may use your point slider to calculate this or, there is a simple equation (looks at paper) calorific amount divided by 50 plus the fat content divided by 12 minus the fibre content divided by 4. OK?

OTHERS:       (Murmur.) OK, sure, absolutely

TERRI               Oh! (important) don’t forget that there is a fibre cap so the deduction can only be up to a total of 4 grams.

OTHERS:       (Murmur.) Of course.

TERRI              Thank you for coming and remember ‘Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels’. (relaxing) How’d I do?

OTHERS:       (Applaud)

TERRI                        Really? You understood?

OTHERS:       (Murmur.) Sure, of course, absolutely.

TERRI                       (unsure) Really?

BARB              Not a clue…

MARY             Clear as mud…

BARB              What the heck are flex points? (Grabs a bag of chips and beer).

TERRI                        Oh crap.

MARY             But you were great. You sounded great.

BARB             (reassuring) It’s complicated.

MARY             It’s all in the booklet anyway for those that can’t grasp it first time.

BARB              It really sounded like you knew what you were talking about.

TERRI                        Really?

MARY/BARB             Really.

TERRI                         Not too much (robot) ‘I am your leader’.

BARB              Terri, trust us. You’ll be fine.

TERRI                         I don’t know. I mean, I’m fine in front of you guys. You’ve been coming to these meetings for years and you’ve barely lost a thing so it’s not exactly serious-

BARB              Charming.

MARY             It’s true though.

BARB              Suppose so. (Beat) I mean, if anything I’ve gained.

MARY             Can’t think why.

TERRI                         -But it’ll be different teaching the class in Lucasville.

BARB              Humm. For a start they’ll pay you.

TERRI                         True.

BARB              They each pay $14 bucks a week to be weighed and told to cut down on the carbonara!

MARY             I don’t know how they afford it.

TERRI                         Well, they don’t live here do they. They’ve got jobs. (Pause)

BARB              And now you do too!

MARY             Yeah, congratulations eh? (offers her a beer - they drink)

BARB              Have you heard they’re sending grief councillors.

MARY             What?

BARB              Grief councillors. (Rummages in her purse for the letter) The ‘Legislative Board’ have deemed it ‘right and proper’ that such issues be dealt with ‘head on’ and as such any previous employees of Flackston International and their families are entitled to counselling to help deal with the impact felt upon the loss of employment.

TERRI                         And how much is that costing?

MARY             That’s ridiculous. They’re paying a bunch of airy fairy assholes who will have no idea what we’re going through to look sincere and say ‘And how do you feel about that?’

BARB              I can’t see any of the guys going. Conner won’t even speak to me let alone a suit.

MARY             How is he holding up?

BARB              Oh you know…I mean, he’s always been a miserable bastard. (pause) But this is different. At least when he was at the Mill he had a purpose…a reason to get up in the morning. Now he’s just lost.

MARY             He’s not the only one.

BARB              He went to the job centre and they marked him down as an unskilled worker. If a ‘Beater Engineer’ isn’t a highly skilled job then I don’t know what is. But he doesn’t know how to do anything else…and there’s no call for that anymore.

MARY             They’ve centralized their head offices apparently. All the phone calls get put through to someone who hasn’t got a clue what’s going on and who you can’t understand a word of.

BARB              They’ve moved to India?

MARY             No, Scotland. The government there is giving tax breaks to expanding companies. So, there’s no reason to stay here. And our government could care less about keeping an entire town of people earning a decent living.

TERRI               To Flackston we’re just another little town in the cold white North with a name they’ve never heard of and 400 employees they’ve never seen the faces of.

BARB              Never mind that the place was the lifeblood of our town for over a hundred years.

MARY             The Mayor’s holding an emergency meeting on Friday night. He’s been talking to parliament about getting people back to work.

TERRI                         Apparently in Saskatchewan they discovered that there is loads of Uranium there that they can mine for.

BARB              Are you sure that wasn’t an episode of Smallville you were watching?

TERRI                         Uranium not Kryptonite. It’s true – maybe they’ll find something like that here.

BARB              Well I hope it happens fast. If Conner mopes around the house for much longer he won’t be the only one that’s depressed.

TERRI                         Does he not go down to the community centre with the others?

BARB              No. Says he worked out how long his severance pay would last for and it was a dang sight shorter if he was drinking beer and playing pool.

MARY             There’s none of them really drink down there now.

TERRI             Liz runs it more like a social club. Not that they feel very social. But it’s a place for them to go.

MARY             She’s even letting them smoke in there. Says she’s no money for a fine and she’d like to see them shut her down after what this town’s been through.

TERRI             Another 20 just got let go from the party supplies place. Their paper costs almost doubled and they couldn’t stay open. They got two months notice ‘to find something else’ but there’s nowhere for them to go.

MARY             You’ve still got your job though eh Barb? That must help pay the bills.

BARB              Barely. There are less and less people coming into the diner so Bob’s cut my hours right down. Brings me in if there’s an executive meeting at the Plant but they’re getting less and less. I need to find something else; my credit cards are all at the limit. Oh, I’ve got thousands of Aeroplan miles - but nowhere to go and I’m scared of heights!

TERRI                         I know what you mean. If I got my purse snatched it’d be the thief calling the police for wasting his time...

BARB              And good luck stealing my identity – I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone right now.

MARY             Oh Barb. That’s not like you.

BARB              I know, I’m sorry, but it’s infectious. Everywhere you turn there’s nothing but doom and gloom. I’ve always found the positives before but it’s impossible now.

MARY             I know – you feel guilty for having fun when people are worried about losing their homes.

TERRI                         Well the town can’t go on like this we have to find something to put a smile on our faces.

BARB              It’s too soon.

(Pause)

BARB              Maybe this meeting is to let us know that they’ve thought of a way to keep Flackston here.

TERRI                         Or found another use for the mill, eh?

MARY             Something’s got to happen sooner or later…

The sound of young voices is heard… getting louder.

TERRI                         Oh it’s the Brownies. Jeez that meeting flew by, eh?

BARB              I don’t know about you but I feel slimmer already!

MARY            (hugs Terri) Congratulations on the job darling.

BARB              You’ll be awesome.

TERRI                         Aww. Thanks girls! And remember our motto ‘Each time I pee, there’s less of me!’

BARB              Ah yes but, ‘If you want to shrink a bit Forget the pee, you’ll need to-‘

There is a LOUD whistle as Brownies are brought to attention!

BROWNIES               I promise to do my best,

                                   To be true to myself, my God and Canada;

                                    I will help others,

                                   And accept the Guiding Law.       

Blackout

Act 1 Scene 3

Lights up. A surreal state. The Gossips are caricatures.

GOSSIP 1        This Mill business is getting worse.

GOSSIP 2 & 3                         Mmmmmnnn.

GOSSIP 1        I heard Carl Young said he didn’t even want to go on living yesterday.

GOSSIP 2        From who?

GOSSIP 1        From Laine at the Bakers. She was in at the Paint store and she heard him tell Rita at the cash that he would take his life because of how he felt, by jumping off his roof.

GOSSIP 3        I was there. He was telling her he used a steak knife to cut the felt he was putting on his roof.

GOSSIP 1 & 2                        (they’re disappointed) Ohhh.

GOSSIP 3        But maybe I misheard! He did look depressed going into Dr Barnett’s office the other day…like there was a huge black cloud following him.

GOSSIP 1 & 2                        (they’re intrigued) Ohhh?

(beat)

GOSSIP 1        Maybe he went in for some of those happy pills.

GOSSIP 2        No. Janice at the pharmacy said Haemorrhoids to me.

GOSSIP 1        I’m sorry?

GOSSIP 2        She said he got Haemorrhoid cream.

GOSSIP 1 & 3                        (they’re disappointed) Ohhh.

(beat)

GOSSIP 2        But, I mean, they’re brought on by stress. 

GOSSIP 3        Are they?

GOSSIP 2        Oh yes. 

GOSSIP 1 & 3                        (they’re intrigued) Ohhh? 

(beat) 

GOSSIP 1        But Trevor Murray had them and he’s never done a day’s work in his life.

GOSSIP 1, 2 & 3                    (they’re disappointed) Mmmmnn.

(beat)

GOSSIP 3       (perks up) are you going to the Mayor’s meeting later? 

GOSSIP 2        Oh Yes. 

GOSSIP 3        He’ll be sure to know what’s best for Elliston. 

GOSSIP 2        Oh for sure, Robert’s great in a crisis.

GOSSIP 1        I was only saying to Bobby the other day how lucky we were to have him. 

GOSSIP 2       (Pause) He’s very friendly with my next door neighbour, you know? They play golf together. I’ve seen him at BBQs

GOSSIP 1        Over the fence? 

GOSSIP 2        Yes.

GOSSIP 1        He’s actually my second cousin. 

GOSSIP 2        Oooh.

(Beat)

GOSSIP 3        I slept with him once!

GOSSIP 1 & 2                        (they’re excited) Ooohhh. 

GOSSIP 3        Before I was married of course.

GOSSIP 1 & 2                        (they’re disappointed) Ohhh.

Blackout