Judy Garland Sneek Peek and Actual Playwrighting News

Big doings this week!  My newest play “Banshee” was picked up for publication by Next Stage Press in Texas.  In addition, “Judy Garland–The Lost Episode”  is slated to be produced in New York in September.  Usually this much Petti news in one week involves a hospitalization!

To commemorate the occasion, here is the first scene of “Judy”.  Enjoy, and please let me know what you think!  Remember, for more in-depth info about the plays, click on my website link on the right of this page.

Judy Garland–The Lost Episode

Copyright (c) 2010 by Brian C. Petti 

Scene 1

(A CBS studio stage in Hollywood.

Lights come up on JUDY GARLAND center stage at a chair, with a small table beside her. There is a glass of wine and a lit cigarette in an ashtray on the table. It is the set of the television series, “The Judy Garland Show”. It’s March 13th, 1964 and JUDY is 42. She is in repose, readying herself for a rehearsal of the song she is about to sing—but this readying consists not of any vocalizing or practice, but of tepid interest in everyone else’s job around her. She looks into the light, guarding her eyes, then offstage tentatively. After a bored moment she leans forward and speaks to Bill Colleran, her producer/ director, who is (in her mind’s eye) directly in front and below her.)

JUDY

Bill…?

Bill, can you hear me, or are you too busy being a director? (beat) While we have this quiet MOMENT together, I want to thank you for everything you did to try to make this show a success. I know you’ve worked harder than ANYONE over the past year to make a go of it…

I know, I think it’s been a success too, but those judgments aren’t ours to make. All we can do is put forth the best version of ourselves, and if it’s rejected…

JUDY (con’t)

no, I was going to say, “Screw the bastards,” but if you prefer the HIGH road…

I’m glad you can still laugh, Bill. It’s our only defense against the world.

Or at least the network, this is true. And the studios, don’t forget those wonderful people. It’s always the

VICTIMS who end up with a sense of HUMOR, isn’t it? Only the ones who never had a bad thing happen to them in their LIVES can afford to be so damn deadly SERIOUS.

(JUDY reacts physically to BILL’S placement in the following dialogue, speaking to him as the “camera” close up, then far away, then close up again.)

Oh, are you going to be my camera? I adore it when you do that. I can picture you there in front of me and it’s as if I’m singing directly to you. Otherwise it’s just a big black EYE with no life behind it and I’m afraid I might FALL IN. Isn’t that silly?

You’re being kind. I know it’s ridiculous. But when you’ve grown used to seeing real eyes looking back at you, eyes full of vigor and LIFE, it’s difficult to turn back to that dull, unblinking, SOULLESS thing. That’s why I love the way you do it. I see your face.

All right, two verses down here…

Do you HAVE to? Can’t I pretend you’re way up there? I grew up on the MGM lot; I had to pretend to have a childhood. I imagined FOOD! Surely I can…

all right, if you must leave me all alone here in the dark.

Not dangerous!? I’ll have you know I’ve had more atrocities committed upon me on Hollywood stages than in all the back alleys of the country combined. At least muggers stop MUGGING you when they have your money!

JUDY (con’t)

Do you remember the day we met? You told me that darling story about how you rode your bicycle down to the train station at five in the morning when you were a boy just to meet me. All that way just to touch my hand—I knew you would treat me like a dream. After all the fat jokes and “old lady” comments it was such a relief to know my new producer would at least be a FAN of mine. Not that all of that was Norman’s fault—it was all Aubrey’s idea to desecrate the sacred cow. And I’m sure “cow” is one of the tamer names he’s called me over the past few weeks.

It is, isn’t it? I knew he was a snake the day I met him, President of CBS or not. He showed too many TEETH when he smiled.

You know what Norman did do? He warned the writers to stay away from me. One of them admitted it. Norman was afraid they’d get too close, coming over my house all hours of the night to play cards. Like I was setting some kind of TRAP for them! You know what the simple truth is? I’m not ready to sleep after I perform. Everybody talks about this wonderful peak of emotion and communication I achieve, and then I’m just DUMPED back in my driveway. “Thanks for the transcendent experience, Judy, now get some sleep so you can go get ‘em again tomorrow!” I’ve had an experience too, you know, and I may have given something of myself I can’t get back. So if I feel the need to be surrounded by living, breathing PEOPLE instead of enduring another endless night with myself and my bedroom slippers, whose business is that? I want to play cards and smoke and laugh and tell stories and feel like I have some…connection.

You always come when I call. You’re the only one left who does.

(after a pause, looking up at the long shot) Bill, my camera in the sky? You know, I think you’re my favorite director. I used to say it was Vincente, but he couldn’t protect me in the end, it turned out. He wasn’t the man I thought he was—and I don’t mean that whole (making a motion with her hands) thing. I could have lived with that if he just would have stood UP for me… (beat) You know who my first love was? A musician I dated when I was nineteen. I was over the moon for him. He

JUDY (con’t)

eloped with Lana Turner and I read about it in a trade paper. How does a girl compete with LANA TURNER? It makes short work of a fragile ego.

I’m sorry, Bill, have I rendered you speechless? (looking down) Oh there you are again. You do move like a cat, don’t you? Are we up to the finale?

Bill…Bill…it’s all right, don’t let me scare you. Save your speech. I think of our relationship in purely professional terms. This is our last go ‘round together, I thought I’d let you know how much I appreciate you. Of course that doesn’t mean I don’t love you. This (motioning around the stage) is all about love, isn’t it, creating something out of air, lungs, notes on a keyboard, a table and a chair? (beat) They’ll probably never air this show you know.

Then why else are we here? I won’t ask you to protect me. Some scars are as permanent as limbs, or organs. I’m beyond protection.

I’ll tell you where that leaves us. (beat) Let’s sing the Goddamn SONG, that’s where it leaves us!

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  1. Joel, when you see this we just found out about “Judy” ourselves and haven’t ironed out details yet–we’ll call you soon.

    • joelflowers
    • January 28th, 2011

    You stopped right before the SONG??? Please call soon. I really like what I’ve read so far. I think it’s one of the most “natually flowing (for lack of the right word)” piece I’ve seen you do. Of course, I could be be biased…

    • Jim Pillmeier
    • May 9th, 2011

    CANNOT WAIT to do this!!

  2. Me too.

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