Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Werner Herzog Narrates the Documentary of My Life

An excerpt from a new one-act.


(A bedroom. A bathroom sink. A bed. A stack of DVDs and a cup of coffee near the bed, and a toilet case near the sink. A broom stands in the corner. There is a pair of pants on the floor. A MAN stands in a tattered, yellowed t-shirt in front of a bathroom mirror. He coughs, spits, and begins to put toothpaste on a brush. Suddenly, a heavily-accented German VOICE speaks from above.)

Now he will brush his teeth.

(The MAN looks up, startled. He listens. There is no sound. He starts to brush his teeth again.)

As he does every day.

(The MAN drops the toothbrush. He looks around. Doesn’t see anything. He slowly picks up the toothbrush again, starts to put toothpaste on it.)

He will brush his teeth approximately 36,000 times in his life. Before his death.


(He drops the toothbrush again. Silence. He looks around. He is now visibly agitated.)

He is now visibly agitated, responding to some stimulus.

(The MAN is now looking around the room, trying to find the source of the voice.)

He will spend approximately three years of his life brushing his teeth, seventeen months searching for his sewing kit when he loses a button, approximately four and a half years waiting for service in the corner diner…

(MAN looks under the bed.)

Why am I hearing things? I’m hearing things!

This is the same routine he goes through every day – he coughs, he spits, he brushes his teeth, many mornings he will attempt to masturbate before –

Shut up!

- leaving for work, but will often abandon the half-hearted attempt due to lack of interest.

(He tears off all the covers on the bed.)

Every day, the plodding march of insignificant details – a life without worth or purpose -

(The MAN seeks under the bed.)

- an accumulation of mundane and banal routines – until the final toppling into the grave.


The banality is terrifying. Let’s observe.


WayneInNYC said...

I want to be sitting next to Harriet during the Masturbation line, just to watch her reaction.

Then I can narrate it to you.

David Johnston said...

Wayne, surely you've guessed by now I don't let Mom & Dad come to ALL of my plays.