June/July 2018

Center for Jewish Culture’s 5 Minute Play Festival

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The San Diego Center for Jewish Culture’s (SDCJC), Straight From The Page, a staged reading series, presents the top 3 winners of the 5th annual 5 Minute Play Festival. As media sponsor, L’CHAIM magazine has worked with festival organizers to publish these works in our pages. L’CHAIM will publish one play each month through September 2018.

All plays submitted were read blindly by the Straight From The Page committee before the top scripts were chosen to be turned into a staged reading. Winners had their works performed by professional actors at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center last month. The following work, Oy Vey Maria written by Mark Harvey Levine, won Audience Choice at the festival.

 

OY VEY MARIA

by Mark Harvey Levine

The classic Christmas manger scene. The baby, animals, etc. Mary is there, looking calm and holy. Ann enters. She is Mary’s mother. She wears a babushka and carries a large tin foil pan of food with cellophane on it.

 

Ann

Oy gevalt! What is this? A manger? You gave birth to my grandson in a manger?

Mary

Mom! What are you doing here?

Ann

What, you couldn’t find a trench to have the baby in? A manger, yet.

Mary

Mom—

Ann

What’s wrong with a hospital? Who delivered the baby, a cow?

Mary

Mom—

Ann

So where is he? Where is this darling grandson of mine?

 

Sees the baby and screeches with joy.

 

Ann (CONT’D)

Oh my God look at him he’s so CUTE! I could eat him up! I will eat him up.

Mary

Mother.

Ann

I’m going to eat you up! Yes, I am! Come here so I can eat you up! Um num num num.

Mary

Where’s Dad?

Ann

He’s still circling the block. They’ve got opposite side of the desert parking here.

Mary

What are you DOING here?

Ann

You think I wouldn’t be here when my own baby gives birth? I’m your MOTHER. Of course I’m here. Where else would I be? You’ll understand when you become a mother. Oh wait, you just did. Not that I was invited.

Mary

Mom…

Ann

Was there not enough room in the manger for me? Move a few chickens over, I would have been fine.

Mary

Mom. This isn’t a good time. We have company. Three wise men have–

Ann

COMPANY? Your own mother you don’t want here, but now you’re entertaining?

Mary

Mom.

Ann

Me, you throw out. Them, you’re putting out hors d’oeuvres? (to Joachim offstage) Don’t take your coat off, Joachim, we have to leave! I’ll just say hello to little– What did you name him?

Mary

Jesus.

Ann

Jesus? I thought we agreed on Myron?

Mary

Ma, you agreed on Myron. We went with Jesus.

Ann

It doesn’t even sound Jewish! Nobody’s going to know he’s a Jew. They’ll have to remind each other when he leaves the room — “Did you know Jesus was Jewish?” “Oh, that’s right.”

Mary

We’re not naming him Myron!

Ann

Fine! Call him whatever you want. We’ll leave. We don’t want to be in the way. We just shlepped three hours by camel, that’s all.

Mary

Look, Mom, we’re just a little busy right now…

Ann

Oh, that’s right, you have GUESTS. Well, if you don’t want us here, you don’t want us here. I understand. Promise me one day you’ll describe me to the boy.

Mary

Mom, please.

Ann

Say that you turned me away, and I went home and died.

Mary

Mom, stay.

Ann

“They think it was her heart. It gave out from grief.”

Mary

Stop it, Mother! Just stop! You’re embarrassing me! You embarrass me all the time! You embarrass me in front of friends. You embarrass me in front of strangers. You embarrassed me in front of John the Baptist!

Ann

John The Baptist! I knew him when he was “John, The Kid Who Almost Drowned His Hamsters”.

 

Mary

And now you’re embarrassing me in front of my guests! They’re Wise Men, Mom. They’ve come to adore the child.

Ann

Well, I’ve come to adore the child, and I brought a brisket! (To Mary) Pay attention, you have to know this now. This is what Jewish mothers do. We bring food. When someone is born, when someone dies, or gets sick, or gets married. We bring food. I brought a brisket. Mrs. Bergstein is sending over a tray. (looking around) Who sent the loaves and fishes?

Mary

I don’t know, Mom, they just showed up.

Ann

So this is your company? Three wise guys?

Mary

They’re also Kings. They’re three Kings.

Ann

One Jewish mother beats three Kings! Believe you me, little missy. You should know, you’re one too, now.

Mary

No! I’m not! I’m not going to be like you.

Ann

Oh ho, so smart now.

Mary

I’m not going to drey him around all the time.

Ann

Yes, you will. It happens to all of us. All Jewish mothers. It’s in the blood.

Mary

No, no, that’s your mishegus, mom. I’m going to be different! I’ve sworn to myself that I’m not going to turn into you.

Ann

That’s nice. That’s a nice thing to say to your own mother.

Mary

You drive me crazy, Mother! You drive me completely insane! You always have!

Ann

And you didn’t? You were no bowl of olives growing up, either. I don’t know how we got you through high school.

Mary

I’m not going to be laying guilt on him all the time!

Ann

Guilt is good! Believe me, this world could use a little more guilt. You read the daily scrolls, what do you see? Robbery, murder, gladiator games! If people felt a little more guilty about these things, maybe they wouldn’t DO them. If everyone had a Jewish mother–

Mary

And I’m not going to nag at him all the time. I hear your voice in my head even when you’re not around!

Ann

Did you hear it when you got the idea “Hey, let’s have the baby in a stable”?

 

Mary

There was no room at the Inn, Mother!

 

Ann

Wait a second, wait a second — do you hear what I hear?

Mary

What?

Ann

I swear I just heard a little drummer boy.

Mary

Yeah, there was one here earlier. He stood there and played on his drum.

Ann

With a baby there? Away in a manger, asleep on the hay?

Mary

I know! I just wanted to have a nice night. A silent night. A holy night.

Ann

When I gave birth to you, we didn’t have animals watching or percussionists dropping in. Everything was nice, quiet, clean. Immaculate, really.

Mary

I don’t know why these things are happening! I don’t know why Kings and Shepherds and small boys with snare drums are showing up! I just know that I have a little baby. And we’re going to love him! We’re going to love him like crazy! We’re going to worship him, in fact! We’re going to treat him like he’s God!!!

Pause.

 

Ann

NOW you’re a Jewish Mother! Was that so hard?

BLACKOUT

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