Exit, Stage Right

By Jessica Groom

“No, no, no, you need to exit stage right—we have the ensemble and more props coming in from the left, not to mention how Sarah Jane has to move to the left for the next scene and you mustn’t bump into anyone or anything. This needs to feel real for the audience! Every single move must be choreographed to absolute perfection.”
Sarah Jane wiped the sweat from her forehead, listening to the nattering voice of boss talk to one of the other leads in the play. Breathing heavily, she put a hand on her ribcage, hands hitting the soft cotton material of her t-shirt. Exit, Pursued by She paused for a moment before walking over to the edge of the stage and grabbed a bottle of water as she sat down.
Sarah Jane didn’t notice the play director, Anne, walk up behind her until her voice penetrated Sarah Jane’s thoughts.
“Sarah Jane, I need you to review your lines for the next few scenes. John isn’t getting his part right, frankly no one is, but he needs to exit in the right direction for the end of this scene.”
Anne turned away from Sarah Jane, who then looked down at her script lying next to her bag. She could hear the clicking of Anne’s heels, oh how she could not wait for the play to actually begin, before rising, play in hand, and moving off to the side of the stage.

“So the actress, my character, is exhausted and worried,” she said to herself. “She is young, and has finally managed to get an audition for a large play. It’s her shot, but her nerves are almost crippling her with anxiety and she’s not feeling supported.”
Sarah Jane took one final deep breath, calming her nerves before running her lines outside.
“The audition is tomorrow and I can’t, I can’t…I can’t seem to get my nerves under control, which is your fault by the way, I love…I love this play. I want, no I need, need to be in this play.”
Pacing back and forth, Sarah Jane ran her fingers through her hair.
“NO Jackson, you damn well know why I need this! This is…This is my shot, my ONLY shot.”
Click. Click. Click Click. Click. Click Click.
She whirled around, looking at the play director for a brief second, before following her back towards the middle of the stage, her intended position marked clearly with the letter X marked on the floor with tape that was starting to peel.
“John, remember to exit stage right, okay? This is supposed to be a heated argument. Alright then, take your places and start right from the top of the fifth scene.”
“You’ve been so absent lately, what is your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem, Jackson, I just need to work.”
“You call pacing around in the living room repeating the same words over and over working? Right, like that is working—you’re just pretending, and nothing is going to come of it. Mark my words.”
“Mark your words?” Sarah Jane shot back, throwing her script to the ground. “You just sit here in your boxer shorts every single day playing another godforsaken video game while eating all of the food that I ha’ve managed to scrape together for the two of us. I am working, Jackson, I am working really hard. I have an audition tomorrow and although…”
“Oh you have an audition? Gee, what are you going to be doing this time? I bet you’re going to a club and you’ll be a stripper. It is your place after all.”
“You know what? Fuck you. Despite the fact that I can’t seem to get my nerves under control, which is your fault by the way, I love this play. I need to be in this play.”
“No, you need me, not this play that you are going on about. Why would you ever think that you need this play?”
“No, NO Jackson, you know damn well why I need this! This is… This is my shot, my ONLY shot.”
“Only shot to be a stripper? Oh come on baby, that’s not true.”
“It’s my only shot to get out Jackson…to get out of this, this TOXIC situation.”
“Toxic? Are you calling me toxic?”
“Yes, you’re constantly bringing me down Jackson. You’re treating me as an object and not as your girlfriend and I want out.”
Sarah Jane took a deep breath and started to walk away from John, going towards the right side of the stage, before swerving and marching straight up to his face.
“Actually no, you get out. I don’t want to see you again. I don’t deserve this treatment—I need someone who will support me when I go out to auditions and work on my dreams.”

She pushed past him, throwing herself down on the couch. John, still in character, kept trying to speak with her, only to be met with a wall of silence.
“Come on, you don’t mean it. Just talk to me.”
“Grab your stuff and get out, you know where the door is.”