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May 8th, 2020 donnahoke



Is anybody still with me? This was a hard week; even to get three pages out is hard. It’s hard to find quiet space, hard to find creative space… You know, right? It’s not like playwrights don’t always have doubts but this situation is creating them on so many different levels that make finding words hard.

Having this blog to be accountable for helps, even if only one person is waiting for this next three pages. Sometimes, even if it’s only me who’s waiting for these next three pages. (And if you are somebody waiting for the next three pages, take a minute to subscribe at the upper right, so that you’ll know when the next three are coming.)



This scene is a little tricky. Not only do Katie and Cha need to get the ashes out of the house—and I apologize for going a little farcical in the getting, but I know these two actresses will kill this physical comedy; in fact they deserve the opportunity to kill it and I get giddy thinking about how they will elevate it beyond what I’ve even written—but I also need to start laying more seeds for their journey and think about what that journey is going to look like. This is the kind of scene where things will get added later as threads reveal themselves on the go.


In other words, this is pure messy first draft territory and things are going to start getting messy, and not just with the ashes. But that’s what I promised it would be, so try not to be too judgy (unless it’s about NPH’s mustache in the pic below). Without further ado, let’s join FINDING NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, already in progress:



Neil Patrick Harris reveals why he's suddenly sporting a mustache


KATIE reaches into her purse for a tissue, forgetting what is not in her purse, and she has now put her hand into a purse full of ashes. CHA-CHA has not forgotten.


KATIE: I– Don’t seem to have any tissues. Maybe in your pocket?


CHA-CHA: My pocket?


KATIE: Yes. In your pocket. My tissues might be in your pocket.




CHA-CHA digs in her pockets and comes up with a tissue, which she hands to Katie.


TINA: You could just use the restroom–


KATIE pulls her hand from her purse in a cloud of ashes.


KATIE: It’s a very old purse.


KATIE wipes her hand with the tissue.


KATIE: I’m sorry. You were telling us about Tonio. He was so lucky. I always wanted a sister.


TINA: A sister who doesn’t go to her brother’s funeral isn’t a very good sister, is she?


KATIE: I have nothing to compare with.


CHA-CHA: I’d go to my sister’s but mostly because my mother would kill me if I didn’t and I wouldn’t want to leave her with no children at all even if the one she’d be left with is me.


TINA: If my parents were alive, that might have swayed me.


KATIE: Were you and Tonio close?


TINA: We weren’t not close. But Jose didn’t like my husband and insisted on wearing his Hawaiian shirt whenever he came over.


CHA-CHA: [?]


TINA: There were parrots on it.


KATIE: Oh Jose…


TINA: Once my husband died, we were closer. Sometimes Tonio would come over and we’d spend a whole Sunday cooking things to put in the freezer. I still have a lasagna. I can’t bring myself to eat it.


CHA-CHA: Pretty sure that shit’ll keep for a minute.


KATIE: Until you’re ready.


TINA: I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. The truth is I’ve been wallowing in the idea that I’m all alone now. No parents, no husband, and now no Tonio. I haven’t even been able to bring myself to buy a proper receptacle for his ashes.


KATIE and CHA-CHA exchange a look.


TINA: They have several nice ones on Amazon, actually, so I don’t even have to leave the house. Of course, I could also have them made into a diamond, and then there are some pendants so I could share them. Perhaps you girls would like a pendant with some ashes? I think there would be plenty of Tonio to go a round, and Jose of course deserves something soon. I told him I’d take care of everything, but just haven’t been able to–


CHA-CHA: Tina!


TINA: Yes?


CHA-CHA: You don’t have Tonio’s ashes in that urn over there?


TINA (turns to look): Oh no! I told you we were saving that for a special occasion.


KATIE: Tonio’s not special enough?


TINA: Of course he is. It’s just that my husband beat him to it.


CHA-CHA and KATIE are putting it together.


TINA: It seemed only right to put his ashes in the urn.


KATIE and CHA-CHA stare horrified at the ash-purse while TINA gets up and goes to a drawer.


CHA-CHA: So where are–


TINA holds up a plastic baggie full of ashes that she has pulled from the drawer.


CHA-CHA: Oh shit.


KATIE: Those are–


TINA: Tonio. He deserves better. I realize that even more now that you two are here. Maybe you’d like to help me choose something on Amazon? I don’t even know his favorite color.


KATIE: Midnight in Babylon?


TINA: Is that blue?


KATIE: Kind of dusky bluish–


KATIE stifles a sob.


KATIE: Do you think we could get some more tea?


TINA: Of course! I didn’t mean to make you sad.


KATIE: No, it’s good to talk about him.


TINA puts the bag back in the drawer, takes the cups and heads to the kitchen. KATIE checks to make sure she’s gone, then leaps into action. KATIE opens the drawer and gets the bag.


KATIE: Hurry, hurry, hurry!


KATIE dumps the ashes from the bag into the urn.


CHA-CHA: What are you–


KATIE: The purse, the purse, the purse!


CHA-CHA stands dumbstruck, so KATIE grabs the purse and hands CHA the bag.


KATIE: Hold this open. Hurry!


CHA-CHA takes the bag and holds it open. The teakettle whistles.


You didn’t think it would be easy? As objectives go, there may not be an easier one than this. At the same time, there needs to be something for Cha-Cha and Katie to discover in this scene and I haven’t quite figured out what this. I think I’m getting close, and I hope when I write the next three pages, it starts to crystallize. I’d love your thoughts.

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One Comment on “EPISODE 9: FINDING NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, A Play In Process”

  1. 1 Josie said at 11:53 pm on May 11th, 2020:

    Still here !!! “It’s a very old purse.” >:} Other scene I know, but I mean, things like that. So much or your writing is funny because it comes from the character’s sincerity, not a forced joke. And Jose wearing a parrot shirt because he didn’t like her husband. Nice call back. I had a feeling the ashes were Tina’s husband’s, or let’s say, I wondered if they were, so I was so pleased that they WERE. Not sure what you mean by needing them to discover something…they already discovered the ashes aren’t Tonio and even worse, her dear husband…Or is there a way some mishap/confusion ensues that combines both the ashes of Tonio and Tina’s husband…?

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