From the original cast of Hole, Dan Teachout performs at The Drilling Company Theatre in New York City.
A Ten-Minute Play
(Set in a Mining Cave-in in West Virginia
-- great for High Schools,
Colleges, and Universities)
By Stephen Bittrich
5701 W Slaughter Lane
Austin, TX 78749
Copyright © 2010,
by Stephen Bittrich
(Please note that there is a licensing fee due if you want to perform this play before an audience.)
[ bottom ]"HOLE" BY STEPHEN BITTRICH SETTING: The dark. The hole. 700 feet deep inside blessed terra firma. The light becomes another character in this piece. It is recommended that as much as possible lighting instruments discovered on stage by the characters illuminate the scene -- matches, a lantern, a cap light. AT RISE: We hear a man playing a little harmonica intro and then singing in the dark. This is Murphy. He sings the first two verses of "GOLD FOR FOOLS," an Appalachian Love Ballad. (Music and lyrics by Stephen Bittrich available separately.) MURPHY (singing) Oh, Sally, sweet Sally loved a young miner boy When he took her a-courtin' she acted quite coy. He said, "Sally Sweet Sally, please give me a kiss. I'm going down in the hole, down to the abyss." She said, "When ya come home, I'll save ya a peck. Just bring me some gold ta put 'round ma neck." Chorus: So down the deep shaft when the young miner boy Ta seek him some gold for his love and joy. But the hole it caved in, and the boy ne'er came home. And Sally Sweet Sally heard the news at the gloam. "Yer young boy is dead now, his body's been found. He's been bloodied and battered, his flesh took a pound." "So we cleaned him up nice and gave him fresh duds Cleaned up his face, hands and his feet from the blood." Chorus: His fist was clasped tight with the strong grip of death. And inside a gold nugget held 'til his last breath. (A match lights. MURPHY, an older grizzled miner is the first to yell out--) MURPHY (cont'd) Hey! BRODY Air's good. I checked the meter. MURPHY You find some tobacco, girl? That why you feedin' that fire some of our blessed air? (BRODY, a compact and tough female miner around 33ish answers, match to her face) BRODY I think I just unearthed the supply kit with the extra lantern. (MILLSAP, a young wide-eyed miner in his mid-twenties chimes in) MILLSAP Good girl! Oh my dear Lord! And food and water too? (SHE opens the supply case in the dark and turns on the lantern. Light flashes up on her face and then she takes it downstage and shines it on the other two. MURPHY is center) MILLSAP (cont'd) And the Lord said, let there be light. (SHE finds food in the case) BRODY What do you want for supper, Millsap? MILLSAP Lord be praised. How's about some fried chicken and potato salad? BRODY Yeah, that'd be nice. How's about some peanuts and some water? MILLSAP That'll do. MURPHY Nice girlie. Every condemned man should be afforded a last meal. BRODY Stop yer bitchin', Murphy. That leg ain't so bad. MILLSAP Yeah, Murphy. Yer more of a woman than Brody is! (Silence. The TWO OF THEM stare MILLSAP down for very different reasons, then...) MILLSAP (cont'd) I didn't mean that, Brody. (THEY all voraciously devour the newly found treasure of food and drink) MILLSAP (cont'd) We should conserve the battery and only use it certain times. MURPHY Won't make no difference. Leave it on. Them new batt'ries will last for a fortnight. We'll be dead in 3 days. BRODY I don't accept that. Now that we have light, I'm gonna find a way out. You can believe that. MURPHY Well, you should make peace with yer maker nonetheless. (SILENCE) MILLSAP Play another one, MURPHY. (MURPHY plays about 6 bars of a little ditty, then launches into one of his familiar stories...) MURPHY Ya know if it t'weren't for John Red Deer, a barrel-chested, full-blooded Comanche Indian and my partner working a hoist while we was dragline mining up at e Creek in '78, I mayn't be able to grace you with the dulcet tones of this here fine instrument. No, sir. (HE moves his fingers in the light) Where you see 10 fine digits ... I mighta gone down ta seven that day. (beat) Don't take two men ta run a hoist, but I was a dandy, as green as a new blade of grass, my first day on a mining job of any kind. Why I was greener than Miss Ima Jean here. (BRODY rolls her eyes at him) And John Red Deer drew short straw and got ta be my wet nurse while I learnt the trade. They used to raz the dandies something awful back in them days, so when the hoist came asunder, split in two, I first figured mebbe I was the butt of some bad joke. But two men were riding the bucket down the seven hundred foot shaft, and it tweren't no joke. I yanked on the emergency brake, all for nought, cuz that burst apart too. As the drum unfurled like a giant leviathan on the end of a harpoon line, those two men in the bucket were surely off to meet their maker. Without a thought, John Red Deer pushed me outta the way like so much laundry, grabbed up some nearby guide timber, and levered it in between the frame and the drum, ripping off three-a his fingers in the process. But devil be damned he still pulled that makeshift lever down with the might of a man possessed and halted the drum. The men down the shaft were saved. The men down in the hole were save from a run away bucket. And because John Red Deer had pushed me outta the way, I didn't get any of my fingers tore off on my first day as a miner. MILLSAP Well, thank the Lord for John Red Deer. MURPHY (to MILLSAP) Back in them days, you'd never see a person of the female persuasion in the hole. Bad luck. BRODY Oh can it, Old Timer. We ain't on the high seas, and this ain't your ship, Captain Ahab. So don't give me that bad luck shit. MILLSAP Yeah, Murphy. Ease up. MURPHY Fer as I can see it, she don't need you ta answer fer her, boy. She's got a tongue sharp enough to cut diamonds. (Beat) Well...yer right Missy, it tweren't bad luck...just bad mining. Retreat mining is a fool's game, but the man above, and I don't mean Jesus, I mean, Luther Bilkis, our beloved CEO of Bilkis Bourbon Mines, has been a mining this way for decades. MILLSAP My Aunt Gemma says retreat mining is like living in house made out of pick up sticks and takin' another stick out every night before you lay down to sleep. 'Bout all I could do ta keep her from followin' me ta work every day ta give Luther Bilkis a piece-a her mind. MURPHY Yeah. That sounds like her. MILLSAP You know my aunt? MURPHY We used ta go...dancin'? MILLSAP What?? She never told me that! MURPHY Oh ho, you catch that, Girlie? He didn't like that - thinkin' about me and his Auntie! Don't worry, boy, a gentleman don't kiss and tell. BRODY I found a cap light. (Brody turns on the other lamp, and it shines up in her face) BRODY (cont'd) It works! MILLSAP Lord be praised. MURPHY Tweren't the Lord. I put that lamp and grub in there. I check that kit every day. (SHE fixes it on the hard hat and fixes the hat on her head, shining the light toward the men) BRODY I'm gonna go survey the cave-in a-fresh now that we got light again. (MILLSAP rises to get the other lantern to go with her) MURPHY Don't let Millsap touch the lantern! MILLSAP That was an accident! I said I was sorry! (MILLSAP and Brody are face to face center stage. The light from her cap light shines in his face and reflects back onto her face) BRODY Don't worry about it, Millsap. I'll be right back. Stay with MURPHY. MILLSAP Be careful. BRODY I'm just gonna look. Piece of cake. (SHE exits toward the cave-in. MILLSAP looks after her) MURPHY (after a moment) Yeah, she likes ya. MILLSAP Ya think? (MURPHY grins from ear to ear) MURPHY No! MILLSAP Oh keep quiet! (MURPHY plays around on harmonica. THEY sit for a moment without speaking. Just music. MILLSAP folds his hands and starts to pray, rocking back and forth ever so slightly) MURPHY Ain't nobody comin'. MILLSAP No, they're coming, Murphy. I know they are. The Good Lord wouldn't let us die down here. I got things ta do. MURPHY Like lose yer cherry? MILLSAP No, I done checked that offa my list...smart ass. MURPHY Boy, just because Miss Brody talks ta me like that, don't think that you can. Watch yer mouth. MILLSAP Sorry. How's your leg? (MURPHY ignores the question) MURPHY As sure as you have faith in the good Lord and the good will of mankind, so I have faith in the devilish and wicked nature of a man. And Luther Bilkis surely has a place set at Satan's great table in hell when his time comes. You know as well as I this mine was cited with 467 safety violations last year, 156 of which was deemed ta be serious in nature. That ain't too much different than the year a'fore and the year a'fore that. What runs this mine and most every mine is greed, plain and simple. And if we get outta here, it won't be due to the good graces of Mr. Bilkis. (beat) They'll call off the search in 4 ta 5 days if they don't break through. Cuz they'll figure we run out of water, run out of oxygen, or run outta life. (Brody has returned for part of this) BRODY Well, it's a good thing I don't have ta believe in God nor the questionable nature of man. Just myself. I think I found a hole I can fit through. MILLSAP No! Really? BRODY You may be able ta "butter yer bread yet," Millsap. MILLSAP I told you I ain't no virgin-- ! Oh forget about it. Anyways, I should be the one ta go. (Brody prepares to leave, clipping the light to a miners hard hat, finding some rope) BRODY You can't fit. MILLSAP And you can? BRODY Yes. MURPHY The hole ain't stable. And it may come to point. Like venturin' into a funnel. If there was a hole straight through, they'da found it already. BRODY You got better options? Besides waitin'? MURPHY No ma'am, Miss Brody. BRODY Well, ain't that nice? Suddenly I'm not "girlie" or "missy." I'm Miss Brody. MURPHY You get through that hole, I'll call ya the Queen-a England. MILLSAP I don't want you to go. BRODY I'll be right back. I promise. (THEY look into each other's eyes, her light shining on him) BRODY (cont'd) I'll bring fried chicken and potato salad. MILLSAP Crap, I meant to ask you out. BRODY (SHE touches his cheek tenderly) I wouldn't have gone out with ya. Stay with Murphy. (SHE turns to go, then turns back around and gives him a brief, tender kiss. SHE exits. MILLSAP is a little beside himself. Paces a little trying to figure out what to do) MURPHY I ever tell you, boy, about the Mole Man of Miner's Delight, Wyoming? MILLSAP (annoyed) What? MURPHY He was a small beady-eyed Mescun man from Chihuahua Mexico...like the dog. And he was never in the sunlight without his sunglasses, cuz the light was too intense for him to just walk around, just regular like in the daytime. But down in the hole, the Mole Man was like a damn superhero. He didn't need no torch. He could make his way around in near pitch black with only them beady eyes ta guide him. Eventually, he didn't come up at all. He just lived down in the hole. Some say he dug his own tunnels through the mine, his own drifts. One time, there was a cave in, and all was thought to be lost. Except that the trapped men had Mole Man with 'em -- who knew that mine like a man knows his own dick. And don't you know, Mole Man found a way through the cave and to the other side ... got 'em all rescued. That's a true story. (beat) Go give yer girl another kiss. I can wait in the dark. I got my own mole eyes. (MILLSAP takes the lamp, shines it one last time on MURPHY and goes after BRODY. MURPHY in the pitch dark sings the 3rd and last verse of "GOLD FOR FOOLS") MURPHY (cont'd) (singing) Sally, Sweet Sally took the news awful hard. Like her heart was a-punctured through and through with a shard. She bid her mother and father good night And went up to her bedroom, donned a dress that was white She knelt by her bed, and she sent up her prayer Then she braided a rope made from her flowing hair. Chorus: Her mother dear mother found her dead that next morn. A noose round her neck and her head freshly shorn.
(END OF PLAY) <
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