Jasper becomes a celebrity with his first taste of Deadland City "living," and meets the mysterious Mr. Lethe...
Music, Lyrics and Book by Ryan Scott Oliver
The City Circle Streets
The main street of a most spectacular city. At ends classic and nouveau, its steel spires and silver skyscrapers stand proudly on pale marble streets; a perfect high-noon sun beams down.
(The CITIZENS that Jasper sees passing by—hipsters, businesspeople, students, moms with kids, A-listers in sunglasses, etc.—seem like the very best versions of themselves. Yet their coloring is more ghostly: grey, washed-out, as though they’ve been walloped with a sack of flour. Many drink from plastic, branded bottles of chalky-white water.)
(Drinking the water, bristly.) Hey, you look familiar. Are you that guy I used to pay to remember my friends’ names?
No Phoebe, we were just in line together like, 45 seconds ago.
Weird, don’t remember.
Where are we?
The City. (Going.) Let’s date.
(A PAPERBOY hocks his bundles. The newspaper, which is in photo-negative black paper with white print, nearly sells out to CITIZENS passing by.)
“JASPER IN DEADLAND” (Paperboy, Informed Citizens, Tabloid Girls, Abigail Acrimone, Media)
JASPER IN DEADLAND! INFORMED CITIZEN #1
(Reading.) “A LIVING SOUL AMONG US."
JASPER IN DEADLAND!
LIVE TEEN EMBARKS ON QUEST."
INFORMED CITIZEN #2
"FOR A BEST FRIEND, CALLED AGNES."
SHE'S DEAD, HE'S HERE,
WITH JASPER IN DEADLAND!
BUY A COPY, READ THE REST.
(The INFORMED CITIZENS see JASPER, double-take and tip-toe onward.)
(Stopping an INFORMED CITIZEN.) I’m looking for Agnes?
INFORMED CITIZEN #1
(Embarrassed.) Llllllllghhhh……. (Leaves.)
(Stopping the OTHER.) I’ve got a missing person.
INFORMED CITIZEN #2
(Cackling.) BAHAHAHAHAHHAGHGAG! (Leaves.)
(TWO GIRLS READING TABLOIDS and drinking water, one alerts the other upon catching Jasper.)
TABLOID GIRL #1 TABLOID GIRL #2
THE FLIPPING FRONT-PAGE STORY.
(Gasp, exclaims.) IT'S JASPER!
(Quiet.) IN DEADLAND…
HE’S CUTER THAN HIS PIC.
IF HE CAN'T FIND THIS GIRL "AGNES"
I BET I COULD DO THE TRICK!
TABLOID GIRL #1
Can I smell your hair?
(Pleasant, yet awkward.) No.
TABLOID GIRL #2
… You’re slick.
(Vulterous TV reporter ABIGAIL ACRIMONE bursts onto the street with her bumbling CAMERAGUY.)
All right Cameraguy, I need you to keep your eyes on me like I’m the last piece of cake after you ate the rest by yourself. (All smiles, to JASPER.) Jasper!
Hi. How do you know my name?
Jasper, everybody knows your name! (Snatches a newspaper from a PASSERBY, showing Jasper the front-page.) You’re a City-wide sensation, see?
But I’ve only been here a few minutes.
Minutes to you, but you’ll see it’s all forever here. In Deadland, the past and present all blend together. Notice the sun never moves? I’d say you were standing over there, looking silly for more like three weeks.
Maybe more, anyway kid, would you mind, I’m a huge fan? All right, 3, 2, go.
(The CAMERAGUY rolls.)
This is Abigail Acrimone (uh-KRIMM-uh-NEE) for Deadline News. We’re live here on Arterial Boulevard—but not as live as the boy everyone’s talking about, Living Boy Jasper. (SHE’s handed a coffee mug by the CAMERAGUY.) Jasper, how does it feel to be a souvenir?
Whatever gets the word out, I guess. Look at that, my stupid mug on a stupid mug.
(Laughs too much.) Oh, Jasper! You’re so amusing! But not everyone thinks your being here is a laughing matter. Experts are asking: could the presence of a Living Person have an effect on the Dead beyond mere celebrity-obsession? Could a Living Person cause the Dead to remember the Life they’ve forgotten? Metaphysicist Dr. Raul Espinato says “yes.” Dr. Espinato?
(Where’d he come from? Heavy Spanish accent.) Thank you, Abigail.
Dr., as dead people, Life is a totally forgotten memory; we can’t remember living.
You can’t remember Life?
It’s true, Abigail.
YASPER, AND DEADLAND
MAKE A CURIOUS COMBINATHION.
WHILE YASPER'S IN DEADLAND,
WE MAY FIND LINES GET BLURRED;
AS HIS LIFE FORCE THROBS AMONG US,
THE LIFE WE FORGOT MAY GET STIRRED...
(DR. ESPINATO exits.) OUR LIVES MAY GET STIRRED…
SO JASPER'S WRECKING DEADLAND?
THAT’S WHAT WE HEARD.
ABIGAIL ACRIMONE (CONT.) REPORTER
JASPER, TELL DEADLAND
DO YOU MEAN TO RESURRECT US? (Coming onto the scene.)
NO HERE, BABE.
HOW IS IT
HEY KID, I’M HERE, HELLO? YOU AFFECT US?
ABIGAIL REPORTER TAB.G. #1 TAB.G. #2 PAPERBOY
Jasper! IN DEADLAND.
IT’S ME, AGNES!
TELL THE TELL THE What? Extra!
WORLD, KID: WORLD, KID: JASPER
No she’s not. IN DEADLAND.
HOPELESS? ARE YOU I’M AGNES, I’M AGNES,
SCARED? YOU’RE MY BRO! YOU’RE MY BRO!
THOUGH THE TRUTH IS
THE CHANCES ARE LOW…
(Stepping directly in front of the camera.) Agnes! If you’re out there, meet me at the front gates! At midnight tonight—whenever that is!
WELL, THAT WAS
THANKS SO MUCH—
Where’d he go?
(The scene transitions and we see the CITIZENS chasing after JASPER, who gives them the slip, stumbling into…)
Scene: A Modest Café
A few stools or tables, perhaps a counter bar. THREE PATRONS sit or stand around.
(JASPER is gasping for breath, doubled over.)
(A gentleman in an expensive-looking pinstripe suit is reading one of the newspapers with a front-page Jasper, holding it open and concealing his face. After Jasper’s dramatic arrival, he coolly lowers the paper. He folds the paper once. He folds the paper again. He puts the paper into his jacket. He is MR. LETHE.)
I say, you look like you could use some water.
(JASPER realizes he’s being spoken to.)
Yes you, son. Fortunately, that’s just the business I’m in. (HE opens a sleek black briefcase, always carefully. It’s filled with branded bottles of chalky-looking water. He plucks one out and hands it to Jasper.) Guh’head.
I’m sorry, I don’t have any money.
That’s no trouble, son, no trouble at all; this one’s on me. (Extends hand, manflirty.) Lucas Lethe, C.E.O. of Lethe Enterprises and Lethe Brand River Water, Inc. And this being my business and all, I can go whole hog, if I want.
(JASPER takes the water, downs it.)
Oh, take two more. Of course, you already got some free samples, haven’t ya?
I have? (Taking the other bottles.) Thank you.
Yes, that river you fell into, m’boy. My namesake, the River Lethe. Freaky, huh? As my Marketing People like to say, there’s something in the water!!
I’m sorry if I trespassed—
I’d tell you to fuhgeddabout it, but that goes without saying in Deadland, doesn’t it?
Thank you for the water, that’s very kind of you. I haven’t gotten much help so far.
So let us be friends, boy. You’re going to need them.
How do you mean?
Well my friend, I hear things. Do forgive me if I give down the country, but I hear there may be those for whom your occupation in this plane of existence is a… sizeable inconvenience. They may try to put things in your way. (Beat.) Oh Jasper, I wish I could help you with your plight! But I’m afraid the only thing I have to offer you is plain ol’ water… but then, that can’t be discounted, since water is a necessary part of keepin’ on keepin’ on. Oh, the tote! (HE pulls out a branded tote bag and gives it to Jasper, for his waters.) It’s like Christmas, except everybody’s dead!
Thank you, Mr. Lethe.
It’s a real pity, you know;people don’t drink enough water these days. Well look, I’m busy as a stump-tailed cow in fly time; take my card (Gives it.) and take care, son; I just know I’m gonna see you real soon. Bye now. (HE exits.)
Goodbye, sir. (Examines the bottle.) “Lethe… is more.” Hmm.
(One of the remaining patrons.) You must be looking for me.
Read the "Behind the Scene" article on this portion of Jasper here.
The above excerpt of Jasper in Deadland is taken from a developmental draft workshopped by the Pasadena Musical Theatre Program in August 2011. it is neither the final version of this work and neither the complete work nor any portion of it is, as of this posting, available for performance or licensing.
Jasper in Deadland was originally commissioned by the Pasadena Musical Theatre Program.
Photo credit: Matthew Murphy.
Photo 1: Chris Hunter.
Costumes by Gwyneth ConawayBennison, Lighting by Curtis Mueller, Sets by Kurt Boetcher, Puppets by Michelle Finston.
Audio: The students of the Pasadena Musical Theatre Program's 2011 Workshop of Jasper in Deadland.