Variations on a Scene

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 This is a writing exercise I often used in college. I have characters in my head, and very little idea as to what their relationship is to each other, so I write a few variations of the same scene, often using the same or similar dialogue, but changing the emotions, prevoius action and subtext. I would love to see these developed more –  added to, edited, or more variations on scenes and how they could fit into a larger work. Some more exploration into the characters and their relationship. I hope to eventually get a full script from these characters.


General similarities in scenes:


Adam and Sean are both late 20's, early 30's. They have been friends for (an unknown while) and are both currently in relationships (unknown how long these relationships have been going on, or if they existed before Adam and Sean met). It is New Year's Eve and Sean has been drinking alone in a bar. She has called Adam under the pretext of needing a sober ride home, but with something much more troubling to tell him. Adam has left a party with his girlfriend Trish to pick Sean up.


 


Variation 1. Adam and Sean have had a falling out (over something unknown). Adam still feels an obligation toward Sean, however, so he appears at his request, to drive her home.


 


Adam: Alright, I'm here. Let's go.


Sean: Sit down, Sunny Jim. Have a drink.


Adam: We're leaving. Pay the bartender, I'll get your keys.


Sean: He doesn't have my keys.


Adam: You said he took your keys.


Sean: He should take my keys. He didn't. He's being generous, since I'm alone on New Year's and all.


Adam: How drunk are you?


Sean: Somewhere between “Shouldn't drive” and “Rough night in Tijuana.” I call it “Questionable tattoo.” You think the place down the street is open tonight?


Adam: No.


Sean: I could get your name on my ass, with a dolphin giving a thumbs up.


Adam: Cute. Now let's go.


Sean: Stick around – I'm only two drinks away from “drunken fuck with friend.” No? Well, can't blame a girl for trying.


Adam: You've had enough.


Sean: Would you just sit?


Adam: I left a party to come get you.


Sean: How was the party, by the way?


Adam: Still going on. I left Trish alone.


Sean: I'm sure she's heartbroken.


Adam: What's that supposed to mean?


Sean: Whaddayou think?


Adam: I'm not having his argument with you.


Sean: Fine. Return to your party. Go make out with your debutant. Get married. Have eight kids. Buy a house in the suburbs and stick a “we heart repubs” sign in your yard.


Adam: That's not fair – you were the one -


Sean: Of course it's my fault.


Adam: Well you -


Sean: You didn't think I was such a screw-up before she came along!


Adam: Is that what this is about?


Sean: No, it's -


Adam: Look, if you dragged me out here to tell me you don't like Trish, guess what? I don't care.


Sean: I didn't -


Adam: I gotta go. Happy New Year's, Sean.


Adam gets up to leave.


Sean: He asked me to marry him!


Adam turns. There is a mood shift.


Adam: What?


Sean: Donnie. He asked me to marry him.


Adam: Well, that's great. Congratulations. I'll see ya.


Sean: I didn't say yes.


Adam: You turned him down on New Year's Eve?


Sean: No...I just didn't say yes.


Pause


Sean: This wasn't supposed to happen. Not tonight. Tonight is about getting drunk and making all the mistakes you want because tomorrow they don't matter. Tomorrow you start over and you move on and nothing you do tonight makes any difference at all. But this makes a difference. And I can't make a decision like that tonight because whatever I do I'll fuck it up, and I can't start over if I've already fucked it up. That's why I called you – I can't fuck anything else up with you.


Adam: Sean...


Sean: I keep picturing what it might be like...


Adam: You have to make a decision some time.


Sean: I know. I'll make tomorrow with my other resolutions. And I'll live with whatever I decide, but at least I'll have started out right.


Pause


Adam: I can't tell you what to do.


Sean: I know, I just...I just wanted to know.


Adam: Know what?


Sean: ...Nothing. Nevermind.


Adam seems to understand


Adam: If things were different...


Sean: But they're not, are they?


Silence as they watch each other a little sorrowfully.


Adam: I should get you home.


Sean: I'll call a cab.


Adam: Are you sure?


Sean: Trish is waiting. Happy New Year, Adam.


Adam: Happy New Year.


 


 


 


 


 


Variation 2. Sean and Adam have a close bond, with often underplayed sexual tension. While both of them feel it, they are resistant toward acting upon it, as they are both in relationships and don't know how to make the transition from friendship to romance. Adam deals with the tension by making half-serious jokes. Sean deals with it by pretending to ignore them.


 


 


Adam: Never fear. Sober cab is here.


Sean: My hero.


Adam: Status report?


Sean: Somewhere between “Shouldn't drive” and “Rough night in Tijuana.”


Adam: So “Questionable tattoo?”


Sean: Yeah. You think the place down the street is open New Year's Eve?


Adam: No.


Sean: I could get your name on my ass with a dolphin giving it a thumbs up.


Adam: Cute


Beat. Adam looks at Sean suggestively.


Adam: You, uh...wanna get outta here?


Sean: No.


Adam: No?


Sean shakes her head.


Sean: No, I'm at least two drinks away from “regrettable drunken fuck with friend”


Adam: Then I'd better make myself comfortable, and order us both a drink.


Adam sits and motions to the bartender


Sean: You're a pig.


Adam: I live in hope.


Sean: The constant optimist.


Adam: You know it.


Adam to bartender: Whiskey, neat.


Sean raises her empty glass


Sean: Same again.


Adam: I thought you said he cut you off.


Sean: He should cut me off. He hasn't. He's being generous, since I'm alone on New Year's and all.


Adam: You should drink alone more often.


Sean: I have considered it.


Beat


Sean: How was your party?


Adam: I don't know, I had to leave to come here.


Sean: Sorry.


Adam: Trish was pretty angry.


Sean: She'll forgive you.


(Adam looks uncomfortable talking about his relationship with Trish)


Adam: Yeah... probably.


Sean: You don't have to stay. If you want to get back...I can call a cab.


Adam: Will you be sober enough to remember where you live?


Sean: I'll pin my address to my shirt.


Adam: You sure?


Sean: Yeah. Go back to your party. Sorry I took you away.


Adam: Alright, well...Happy New Year.


Adam gets up and turns to leave.


Sean: He asked me to marry him.


Adam turns and looks at her. Sean looks as though she has confessed to murder.


Sean: Donnie. He asked me to marry him.


Adam: That's great.


Beat


Sean: I didn't say yes.


Adam: You turned him down on New Year's Eve?


Sean: No. I just didn't say yes.


Pause


Sean: How could he do this to me, Adam? How could he do something so stupid?


Adam: I don't -


Sean: Tonight is supposed to be the end. Tonight the world slows down just long enough for you to catch up before it all starts over again. And you use that time to make all the mistakes you want, because tomorrow they don't matter because you were drunk anyway. But this does matter, and I can't make a decision like this tonight because whatever I do I'll fuck it up and I can't start over knowing I've already fucked up.


Adam: Sean...


Sean: I keep trying to picture what it would be like....I can't.


Adam: You'll have to make a decision sometime.


Sean: I know. I will tomorrow, along with my other resolutions. And I'll live with that decision, but at least I'll have started out alright.


Adam: Sean...I don't want you to marry Donnie.


Sean: What?


Adam: Do you love Donnie?


Sean: Do you love Trish?


There is a tense moment of mutual understanding as they stare at each other.


Adam: Let me take you home.


Sean: Trish will never forgive you.


Adam: Yeah, probably.


Both rise and Adam puts an arm around Sean's shoulders as they exit.

Created: Jan 03, 2011

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