copyright © 2002 Clinton A. Johnston

Acting President


Clinton A. Johnston

No Shame Theater 7/26/02




Oneself/Paul – a cheesy seminar leader

Oneself – upset about a grave act of election fraud/Randolph – seminar participant

Oneself/Elsie – a smart seminar participant

Oneself/Max – a seminar participant


[Ellipses (…) means a pause.  M-dash (–) right after a word means the line is cut off.]


[The play starts with people in Paul’s cheesy, acting seminar.  At one point, everyone in the play drops their characters and they become themselves using their own names.  The play should be played totally straight at that point.]




Welcome, welcome everyone to the Meyer Grey-Bezerski Acting Seminar.  I am your host and seminar leader, Meyer Grey-Bezerski, but you can call me Paul.  This seminar will instruct you in my brand new, award-winning, dynamic approach to acting.  In the last ten years, through the exercises taught in this workshop, thousands of people have been opened to The Inner Stagecraftsperson Within.  I hope that in our brief weekend together, you will give me your complete attention, and your complete trust.  Only then, will you be able to get the most out of your generously spent $500.  Any questions?


[Elsie raises her hand.]




Yes?  What’s your name?








Thank you.  What is it, Elsie?




Well, Mr. Grey-Be—




You can call me, Paul.




Okay … Paul.  How can your approach be brand new if you’ve been teaching it for 10 years?






Oh, Elsie, this will all go a lot faster if you take those logical “How” and “Why” questions and put them in your Mr. Spock Box for later. 




Will we get a chance to ask you them later?




No.  My teaching method uses The Answer Within, so “How” and “Why” questions are only those you ask yourselves.  Is that clear?  Good.  And Elsie, you can call me Mr. Grey-Bezerski.  Any more questions?  Good.  Let’s begin.


As you know, I have worked on many, many years on stages around the world to come up with an approach to performing that is at once revolutionary and, at the same time, a return back to basics.


[Elsie raises her hand.]


Put it in the Spock Box, Elsie.  [Elsie lowers hand.]  This “method”, if you will, came to me like the blossoming flower from the soil of long toil.  It took dinner theater after dinner theater before I realized that standing before me was the avatar, the embodiment, if you will, of the traits the dedicated actor must have ... The cockroach.


Like Gregor Samsa, we must transform ourselves as actors.  We must metamorphosize to become different people.  Why, given a drop of kitchen grease, and a bit of water, your average adult cockroach can multiply into thousands of fully developed characters complete with heavily researched back-story.  We must be like that.  We must be sturdy and resilient.  When society collapses in the Great Atomic Holocaust, it must be we, the roach-like actors that survive the nuclear winter.  Can you get there?  Yes you can!  Now, let us begin. 


[Pause.  Everyone onstage looks at Exploding Actor expectantly.  He’s forgotten his line.]


Exploding Actor


[Totally out of character]

Oh that’s me.  I’m sorry.


Randolph (Exploding Actor)


Paul, how do we begin?




Ah-ah-ah?  The Spock Box.  What’s your name?


[Pause again looking at Exploding Actor.] 


Actor Playing Paul


[Totally breaking character.]

[Actor’s actual name] it’s your line.


Exploding Actor


He’s not the president.


Actor Playing Paul




Actor Playing Paul


I don’t –


Exploding Actor


George W. Bush.  He’s not the president.


[Nobody look at your script.  You are no longer your characters.  You are yourselves as actors in a piece where Exploding Actor has just gone off.]


He didn’t win the popular vote.  He didn’t win Florida.  He’s not supposed to be in the White House and no one is saying anything.  He’s not the president.


Actor Playing Max


Well, actually, if they hadn’t stopped the recount, Bush would have won Florida.


[Exploding actor yells and screams until after he talks about the 57,000 people left off of Florida’s rolls and says something like, “A group of people have stolen the election and they are in charge.  And they’re sitting up there right now spending money and making Departments of Homeland Security and appointing judges!  Why isn’t anyone talking about this?”]


[This next part of the piece was improv’ed.  The following is an approximation of what was said: 


Clinton (Exploding Actor): No!  No!  That was only in the limited recount of those two counties.  In the independent recount—


Greg (Actor playing Max): But Clinton, actually—


Clinton (More agitated and yelling now): No!  There was an independent recount of all of Florida’s votes sponsored by The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today,  The Miami Herald and that count showed that had the limited recount that the Supreme Court stopped continued, Bush would have won Florida.  But what it also showed, and the papers buried this lead, what it also showed was that if you recounted all of Florida’s votes, Gore won no matter what standard you used!  But besides all that!  Besides all that!  (Stalking around by now, talking to audience and actors both.)  Before the election, 57,000, over 57,000 Florida voters were taken off the rolls!  They were decided – It was decided that they were ineligible to vote due to felony convictions on their records.  This is true!  The majority of these people were African Americans and the majority of the remaining group were Hispanics and white Democrats!  Later, when these charges were investigated, most were found to be bogus!  So most of those people should have been able to vote!  Don’t you see!?!  They stole the election!  Our electoral process has been subverted by a group of people who are up there now, spending money, making fucking Offices of Homeland Sec—]


Actor Playing Paul


Alright, alright.  Calm down.  Do you wanna’ continue this piece?


Exploding Actor


Fuck the piece!


[Rips up the piece and storms out of the theater, slamming the door.]


[Everyone else hold for a minute and then sit down.]




"Acting President" debuted July 26, 2002, performed by Leeyanne Moore, Greg Hays, Todd Ristau and Clinton Johnston.

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