With this 10 minute play, I examined the hypocrisy of the modern conservative party, specifically their insistence on using the Christian religion to justify greed. Almost all of the dialogue spoken by Mr. Upton, Mrs. Uptown and Ronald Uptown are paraphrased quotes from Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann and Newt Gingrich.
MR. UPTOWN, the family patriarch
MRS. UPTOWN, the family matriarch
RONALD UPTOWN, the older sibling
KARL UPTOWN, the younger sibling
BOY 1, a teen laborer of the family
BOY 2, a teen laborer of the family
The dining room of an opulent mansion. There is a black table in the middle of the stage with unlit candles on each end. Four chairs are positioned around the table. There is a chandler hanging over the middle of the table. Directly below the chandler, an American flag is sitting on the table. There are two doors on stage left and one door stage right. Stage right between the table and door is a pedestal table with a Ming Dynasty vase. Stage left of the chandler is Vasily Troika’s “Apprentice Workmen Carrying Water”. Stage right of the chandler is a portrait of Ronald Reagan.
As the curtain opens, MR. UPTOWN speedily walks through the door stage right to the stage front-left door. MR. UPTOWN is wearing an expensive suit and loafers. Following him shortly are two malnourished boys in their middle to late teens. The boys each are holding the leg of a dead body, dragging the corpse behind them. The corpse is an older man with white hair in a suit. MR. UPTOWN crosses the stage and unlocks the stage front-left door, then turns.
MR. UPTOWN: I would appreciate you taking a little more care in carrying Mr. Roosevelt. If you stain the carpet, then Mrs. Uptown will be forced to restrict your rations for the next two years to pay for the square footage that you ruin.
[MR. UPTOWN opens the door front-left, then turns a walks through the door back-left. The teenboys continue to drag the corpse through the dining room. They are very weak and the task takes tremendous effort]
BOY 1: T’ain’t right what we’re doin’ to Mr. Roosevelt. He never did nothin’ but try an help folks.
BOY 2: It ain’t none of my concern and you best not make it your ‘ens neither. Mr. Uptown pays
the bills. You’d be best to ‘member that if you wanna keep your job.
BOY 1: It just ain’t right is all I’m sayin’. After all he did for us down trodden.
[The boys exit stage through the door front-left, dragging the body behind them. They leave the door open. MR. UPTOWN comes out of the door back-left. He is now wearing a butcher’s coat and carrying a small black bag. He walks into the dining room, looks back, walks to a spot stage-left, kneels down and runs his finger across the carpet.]
MR. UPTOWN: Goddamn it.
[MR. UPTOWN gets up, walks through the door stage front-left and slams the door behind him.]
The candles on the dining room table are now lit and the table is now set.
MRS. UPTOWN: [Off stage] Boys! Dinner’s ready!
[Mr. UPTOWN, RONALD and KARL enter the dining room through the door stage right. MR. UPTOWN is again wearing his expensive suit and loafers. RONALD is wearing a prep school uniform that is perfectly pressed. His hair is neatly coiffed. His jacket is buttoned. Karl is wearing the same outfit, but is more disheveled. His jacket is unbuttoned as well as his dress shirt revealing a dingy undershirt. His hair is long, poorly groomed and buried under a backwards baseball hat. The family walks to the table and take their seats. MRS. UPTOWN enters the dining room from stage door front right. She is dressed immaculately. Her hair and makeup are perfect. She is wearing 6 inch heels and carrying a platter full of medium rare meat.]
MRS. UPTOWN: Dinner is served boys!
[She sits the platter in the middle of the table.]
MRS. UPTOWN: [Sitting down] Ronald, would you like to say grace?
[The family bows their heads to pray except for Karl, who is looking around the dining room in silent defiance.]
RONALD: Thank you, Lord, for the meal we are about to receive. Thank you for the blessings that you have given this family. You tell us in your word, ‘Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honored.’ And we are honored, Lord, by all that you have given us. I ask, Lord, that you continue to bless us as we will continue to regard the lessons that you have for us. In your precious and holy name we pray, Amen.”
MR. and MRS. UPTOWN: Amen!
MRS. UPTOWN: [Taking a piece of meat and passing the platter to MR. UPTOWN] You did a great job butchering the meat, honey.
MR. UPTOWN: [Taking a piece of meat] Do you think? I feel there is still some meat that I could pull off his bones. I really don’t want any part of the old bastard to remain.
[He passes the platter to RONALD, who takes a piece of meat then passes the platter to KARL.]
KARL: No, thank you.
MR. UPTOWN: Is there a problem, son?
KARL: No [beat] It’s just that….[trails off muttering under his breath.]
MRS. UPTOWN: Don’t be disrespectful, Karl. Your father….
[MR. UPTOWN holds his hand up to cut his wife off.]
MR. UPTOWN: It’s just what, son?
KARL: [sighs] It’s just I don’t think it’s right to eat Mr. Roosevelt like this. He seemed like such a good guy. He helped a lot of people. Remember the time that people in the Valley were starving and he helped them by opening a new water plant? Or how about the time the elderly people at Social Gardens couldn’t afford their medicine so he set up a fund for them? It seems like all he did was try to help the less fortunate.
MR. UPTOWN: Karl, there has always been inequality in this town. The citizenry has always been unequal and I hope it continues to be. Why? Because people achieve their level of success based on what they have contributed to society and the marketplace. That’s how it should be. The last thing we need is a man like Mr. Roosevelt giving in to those who envy our wealth and creating class warfare. The poor should celebrate the wealthy. They should build statues and monuments for the affluent. They should name buildings after them. Why? Because in their greatness and innovation, they created wealth and that’s a good thing, not something to be condemned.
KARL: But Dad, it doesn’t seem right not to help people. People are starving!
MRS. UPTOWN: Oh goodness gracious! Will you listen to yourself? This town needs to stop doing for people what they can and should do for themselves! Self-reliance means if anyone will not work, then they should not eat. End of discussion.
KARL: But I don’t think that’s right! I think that we should help those in need. There are more empty homes in this town than there are homeless people. It’s not right! They’re dying in the streets from preventable diseases. All they need is a place to work and some help getting on their feet. It seems to me that with all we have, it’s the least we can do. Instead, we spend all of our time trying to stop the people who are helping. Look at what you guys are doing to old man Sanders and Mayor Hussien. Anything they propose you guys fight.
RONALD: [biting into a piece of meat] Can you turn off the commie crap tonight? Is that too much to ask? A person doesn’t have the right to a house. They don’t have the right to a job. They don’t have the right to medical care. For every bite you give away, I have to do without.”
KARL: Like you couldn’t stand to go without a couple of bites? I just don’t get it. People can’t find work and if they can, Dad and his buddies don’t want to pay them a living wage.
MR. UPTOWN: I don’t care about the unemployed. That doesn’t matter to me. My business doesn’t hinge on the unemployment rate. I do just fine when unemployment is high. The more people in this town there are looking for jobs, the less I have to pay the employees I have. I would pay less than the minimum rate of pay if I could. There simply aren’t that many jobs in town. If an employee has a problem with the way I run my business, then there are 10 other people waiting to take their job.
MRS. UPTOWN: Listen, that crap that Mayor Hussien is trying to pull, trying to make us pay the working class more, is a crock. If you’re so worried about the unemployed, then completely take away the minimum wage. We could potentially wipe unemployment out completely.
KARL: How? By paying people as little as possible? That would be tragic!
RONALD: It would help the poor people who need jobs. If we abolished the minimum wage, it would be very beneficial.
MR. UPTOWN: Tragic? It’s tragic what this town does in our poorest neighborhoods. The city council has entrapped children with child labor laws. That is truly stupid. What we need to do is get rid of the unionized janitors the schools are using, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of their own school.
KARL: What? Why not just help their parents so that they won’t have to live in poverty?
MRS UPTOWN: And how do you propose we do that?
KARL: What about through our taxes? The city already has a property tax in place; why not just increase it by a percent or two?
MR. UPTOWN: To be honest, the wealthy don’t necessarily have to pay taxes if we don’t want to. I can move my money to another country, a tax haven. I can hide my money in investments. The city council can do nothing to stop investing. If I really wanted to, I could quit working. I don’t need to work, I’m already rich. So your proposition would essentially be the poor subsidizing the poor. And to be honest, I don’t care about the very poor. Do you realize 47 percent of the people in this town are dependent upon the government? They, like you, believe they are victims. They believe it is the city’s responsibility to take care of them. They want free health care, free housing, you name it. I’m not worried about those people. No one will ever be able to convince them to take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
KARL: But Dad, these are people too. They have feelings. They have hopes and dreams just like us.
MRS. UPTOWN: Oh here we go with this now! I disagree with the idea that the government doesn’t have the right to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I absolutely think we should limit these people. There are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire, you know?
KARL: Really, Mom? What are your consequences? You get everything you want and you just said that there are consequences. I’ll tell you who is suffering through your consequences; it’s the people who have to do without so that you can have more. People are suffering out there!
MR. UPTOWN: Well, I’ll tell you this, Karl, and it will be the end of this conversation. This is a Christian town and if you’re a Christian, suffering is a part of life. It’s not a bad thing. It’s an essential in life. There are different ways to suffer. One way is from lack of food or shelter and there’s another way to suffer. This is through a lack of dignity. And these people, that you support, they have no dignity or they wouldn’t be begging for handouts. There are all sorts of ways that people suffer and it’s not just tangible. It’s also intangible and we have to consider both.
[MR. UPTOWN takes a bite of his meat, and then uses his fork to point at the platter.]
MR. UPTOWN [to Karl]: Now eat your meat.