For Wednesday, September 7:
The Sandbox by Edward Albee
A Brief Play, in Memory of My Grandmother (1876-1959)
The Young Man, 25, a good-looking, well-built boy in a bathing suit
Mommy, 55, a well-dressed, imposing woman
Daddy, 60, a small man; gray, thin
Grandma, 86, a tiny, wizened woman with bright eyes
The Musician, no particular age, but young would be nice
Note. When, in the course of the play, Mommy and Daddy call each other by these names, there should be no suggestion of regionalism. These names are of empty affection and point up the pre-senility and vacuity of their characters.
Scene. A bare stage, with only the following: Near the footlights, far stage right, two simple chairs set side by side, facing the audience; near the footlights, far stage left, a chair facing stage right with a music stand before it; farther back, and stage center, slightly elevated and raked, a large child’s sandbox with a toy pail and shovel; the background is the key, which alters from brightest day to deepest night.
At the beginning, it is brightest day; the Young Man is alone on stage to the rear of the sandbox, and to one side. He is doing calisthenics; he does calisthenics until quite at the very end of the play. These calisthenics, employing the arms only, should suggest the beating and fluttering of wings. The Young Man is, after all, the Angel of Death.
Mommy and Daddy enter from stage left, Mommy first.
Mommy: Well, here we are; this is the beach.
Daddy: (whining) I’m cold.
Mommy: (dismissing him with a little laugh) Don’t be silly; it’s as warm as toast. Look at that nice young man over there: he doesn’t think it’s cold (waves to the Young Man) Hello.
Young Man: (with an endearing smile) Hi!
Mommy: (looking about) This will do perfectly…don’t you think so, Daddy? There’s sand there…and the water beyond. What do you think, Daddy?
Daddy: (vaguely) Whatever you say, Mommy.
Mommy: (with a little laugh) Well, of course…whatever I say, Then it’s settled, is it?
Daddy: (shrugs) She’s your mother, not mine.
Mommy: I know she’s my mother. What do you take me for? (a pause) All right, now; let’s get on with it. (She shouts into the wings, stage-left) You! Out there! You can come in now (The Musician enters, seats himself in the chair, stage-left, places music on the music stand, is ready to play. Mommy nods approvingly.) Very nice; very nice. Are you ready, Daddy? Let’s go get Grandma.
Daddy: Whatever you say, Mommy.
Mommy: (leading the way out, stage-left) Of course, whatever I say. (To the Musician) You can begin now. (The Musician begins playing; Mommy and Daddy exit; the Musician, all the while playing, nods to the Young Man.)
Young Man: (with the same endearing smile) Hi! (After a moment, Mommy and Daddy re-enter, carrying Grandma. She is borne in by their hands under her armpits; she is quite rigid; her legs are drawn up; her feet do not touch the ground; the expression on her ancient face is that of puzzlement and fear.)
Daddy: Where do we put her?
Mommy: (with a little laugh) Wherever I say, of course. Let me see…well…all right, over there…in the sandbox. (pause) Well, what are you waiting for, Daddy? … The sandbox! (Together they carry Grandma over to the sandbox and more or less dump her in.)
Grandma: (righting herself to a sitting position; her voice a cross between a baby’s laugh and cry) Ahhhhhh! Graaaaa!
Daddy: What do we do now?
Mommy: (to the Musician) You can stop now. (the Musician stops.) (Back to Daddy) What do you mean, what do we do now? We go over there and sit down, of course. (to the Young Man) Hello there.
Young Man: (smiling) Hi! (Mommy and Daddy move to the chairs, stage-right, and sit down)