copyright © 1990 Todd Ristau


JIM: Listen....the snow is falling....everywhere....Aw, shit. That’s crap. Yoko Ono wrote that back in 1980.

CLAIRE: What, dear?


CLAIRE: Yes, dear. Are you working on a new play?

JIM: Get off my back with your insufferable nagging!

CLAIRE: Yes, dear.

JIM: Money, money, money....its all you care about! I’m an ARTIST! I don’t have the capacity to--what’s that?!?!

CLAIRE: Its your friend.

JIM: Why is he at the window? Scratching like that?

STU: Its Stu. I found something out here.

JIM: What?

STU: Somebody skinned a coon out here for ya, Jim.

JIM: I know. I saw. I’m a prophet.

CLAIRE: Isn’t that the man who sent you a fish through the mail?

JIM: No.

STU: Oh, yes, ma’am. A mackeral. I caught it myself in Seattle. Sent it to him in a shoe box. Took four weeks. Special fourth class book rate.

JIM: Claire, he’s lying.

CLAIRE: Did you kill that animal?

STU: The coon?

JIM: It is a squirrel.

STU: No, ma’am, its just lying here. All its insides gone, looks fresh.

JIM: I killed it.

CLAIRE: You killed it?

JIM: I sacrificed it....ate its heart.

STU: Well, why’d you go and do a thing like that?

JIM: An experiment. Creative expression.

CLAIRE: Put it down, Stu.

STU: Yes, ma’am.

CLAIRE: Stu, would you like to come in?

STU: It’s snowing out here.

CLAIRE: Yes, I know, would you like to come in?

STU: Well, I made a resolution.

JIM: Words....words....

STU: Well, see, I’ve decided to stop being an asshole.

CLAIRE: Really? Well. I’m proud of you. That’s very nice.

STU: And part of not being an asshole is not being an imposition on folks.

CLAIRE: Well, that’s true, but you also have to remember that it will include being pleasant company, dropping in from time to time.

STU: But not unless I’m invited. I think that would be rude.

CLAIRE: Consider it a standing invitation.

STU: Ok.

(he starts to climb in the window)

JIM: Use the door. Come in, I need to see you.

CLAIRE: Here, let me help you.

STU: Need to get that thing fixed.

CLAIRE: Leave the squirrel outside.

STU: Ok.

CLAIRE: I’ll be in the kitchen.

STU: I like your wife, Jim.

JIM: Claire? She’s insane.

STU: But very clean. Does she always wear high heel hip boots and carry a gun?

JIM: I need your help.

STU: Ok.

JIM: Are we alone?

STU: (looking around the audience) I think so.

JIM: I need money. A lot of money.

STU: But, I mean, you make a lot of money.

JIM: Its not enough.

STU: How much do you need?

JIM: Six million.

STU: Wow. I got maybe a dollar ten, but you can take it. Don’t worry about interest.

JIM: I’ve made some mistakes, Stu.

STU: We all do.

JIM: Big mistakes.

STU: Well, you know...don’t worry about it, Jim. I mean, heck, you got your health.

JIM: I’ve been unfaithful.

STU: To Claire?

JIM: Of course to Claire, but more importantly, to myself. I have cheated on myself.

STU: Wow...

JIM: Stuart, I need your help. Every chance she gets to make me feel inadequate and useless she jumps on it and squeezes it for all she’s worth. She hates me and she hates his marriage. She’s trying to kill me.

STU: Are you sure?

JIM: Poison. She’s been feeding me poison for years. But I’ll have the last laugh. I lied about the insurance. I don’t have any! And what’s more, I will point the finger of blame at her from beyond the grave!

STU: Wow, how you gonnat do that, Jim?

JIM: Pull back the carpet there.

STU: There’s a trap door under there!

JIM: Open it.

STU: I’m scared.

JIM: Pull yourself together, man!

STU: Bottles. Hundreds of little bottles.

JIM: You smell that?

STU: Pee?

JIM: Yesssssssss.

STU: Yours?

JIM: Yesssssss.

STU: Why you got hundreds of little bottles of pee under your floor?

JIM: Proof. Each is dated. There will be the evidence that will put that woman in the gas chamber. The Urine will show incontrivertably that she has been increasing the dosage of poison over the last ten years.

STU: Wow.

CLAIRE: (calling from offstage) Stu, I need you.

JIM: Shameless hussy. She wants you. I knew it.

STU: What should I do?

JIM: Go to her. Satisfy her if you can.

STU: I’m scared.

CLAIRE: Stu, please, I need you.

(STU goes to her, scene shifts to the kitchen.)

CLAIRE: Stu, my husband is not a well man.

STU: Well, he might be if you’d stop poisoning him.

CLAIRE: He showed you the bottles, didn’t he?

STU: You know about them?

CLAIRE: Stu, Jim is very disturbed. He hasn’t written a play in ten years, nothing since Zombie Love Child.

JIM: Suck the meat off the bone you fucking Ramada Inn Roach!

STU: Has he been like this for long? I mean, killing squirrels and screaming crazy stuff?

CLAIRE: Yes...

STU: What can I do to help?

CLAIRE: Stay for supper?

STU: Ok, ma’am, I’m sorry I thought you were a murdering nymphmaniac like your husband said.

CLAIRE: Thank you.

STU: It must be very difficult for you to put up with.

CLAIRE: I manage, I have my own work. I’m less enthusiastic, but much more successful. I pull in eight figures a year.

STU: He says he needs six million.

CLAIRE: He may. We have a prenuptual agreement keeping all assets and liabilities seperate. I don’t know what he does with his money and I dont’ care, as long as he pays his rent on time.

STU: Your husband pays you rent?

CLAIRE: Soups on!

(they eat)

CLAIRE: Not so fast, Stu, savor it.

JIM: Yes, Stu, savor it....

STU: Salty....Rich....blig. Borg dinap. Mignop.

JIM: Quickly, strap him to the table!

CLAIRE: The knife, get the knife!

JIM: Which one?

CLAIRE: The long blade with the hoof on the handle!

STU: Malbezed. Norgemph. Yokoska mialfgred. Cal estim nogana, reldifred.

CLAIRE: Oh, my beloved, the spirit is descending on him so readily!

JIM: Yes! A perfect chalice for the one beyond naming!

STU: Gorfin, mardeffna melchai maimmo! Hardisnan mar kookla fesna mealdno.

CLAIRE: The oils, you buffoon! We can’t sacrifice him wihtout the oils!

JIM: I thought you got the oils.

CLAIRED: You’re the man, you’re supposed to get the oils.

JIM: Who says?

CLAIRE: The Necronomicon, that’s who says!

JIM: Its just a book. Those traditions are’re the one always preaching the forward movement of the people and leaving gender roles behind.

CLAIRE: That’s different! This is magic! If its going to work it has to be done the way it says in the book!

JIM: Well, they’re expensive. I don’t see why I should have to bounce another check and maybe lose my bank account again just to satisfy your conservative need to follow ancient traditions and out moded doctrine.

STU: Gorganza marthlothian lelieu kardonna! Mondovian rectalized bragdonavithch!

CLAIRE: Use the salad oil!

JIM: Oh, so you give me hell about not getting hte oil and then we should just throw salad oil on him. Pretty radical departure from tradition if you ask me!

CLAIRE: He’s growing in power! Look at him! Horns are spreading out from his head, his chest is expanding, his eyes becoming embers!

JIM: Is that my fault? I mean it was your powder in the soup, I can’t be held repsonsible.

CLAIRE: We have to do something!

JIM: Oh, so now its WE when before it was all you you and me me.



(STU escapes into the night, CLAIRE Runs into the kitchen, JIM screams and buries his head in the typewriter. CLAIRE re-enters.)

CLAIRE: Wake up dear, you fell asleep at your typewriter again.

JIM: I did?

CLAIRE: Yes, Dear. Working on a new play Dear?

JIM: Get off my back with your insufferable nagging!

CLAIRE: Yes, Dear.

JIM: Money, money, money....its all you care about! I’m an artist! I don’t have the capacity to--what’s that?

CLAIRE: It’s your friend.

JIM: Why is he at the window? Scratching like that?

(repeat endlessly)


What can I say? This is just plain bad, but was a lot of fun when we did it in IC and at Charlottesville. In Iowa City I played Jim, Stan Ruth played Stu, and Rebecca played CLAIRE, and we all sat on a couch in Theatre B reading from the same book. I think it must have been before we were married in [1991], even though this reads a bit like a piece I might have written bitterely after I "left Chicago." Perhaps this was a pre-bitterness flash or evidence I knew there were problems which would be inevitable. Reading it now, I kind of get the same feeling you get when you watch Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in the Stooge.

"Mac Wellman Excercise #1" debuted circa 1990, performed by Todd Ristau, Stan Ruth & Rebecca Gilman.

Performed at No Shame / Charlottesville on November 23, 2001

[Todd Ristau's website] [Ristau Entertainment Ltd.]

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