Scene 1

(Spotlight rises on FEY (36) in front seat of well-worn compact automobile. Slide background shows gold Ellerbe Archiects' high rise office building near the Minneapolis airport. FEY is dressed in a dark blue business suit. She reaches down to the seat beside her and switches on an executive recorder. She pantomimes the scene as she narrates it.)

FEY: "Mary McCarthy felt like a fraud. She had packaged the feeling, an original vague uneasiness in dealing with fellow workers, into a tight-bound lump in the middle of her chest. This lump had developed a sense of its own, and when she encountered someone else who felt like a fraud, it would bleep and buzz and hop about, spraying electric impulses and setting off her ulcer.

"Her Pepsodent smile gleamed like chrome. She hadn't shaved under her armpits for eight days. Lint and cat hairs were picked meticulously off her $200 creases each morning. She had to pry the car door open like a sardine can glued by rust to extract the brown suede briefcase which bulged importantly with photo magazines and lunch. She passed down orders from the corporate gods with a royal 'we' as though they were her own. Sometimes she passed an order of her own as though it were the gods'. She had learned dissimulation well."

(FEY snorts, lights a long-stemmed pipe, inhales deeply, sings:)


"Sittin' on the 'free'way on a sunny afternoon,
headed back the 'easy' way too late, or too damned soon,
I found the path I chose not easy,
so I sat and wrote this song to You to make the free way blues go away.

"Freeway blues / coat the air in stale monoxide fumes.
Freeway blues / cut the glare of a sunny afternoon
with grey impediments to loving sentiments,
and I only wish the government would use
technology to rid me of these blues
so I could walk the Earth as free
as God once put it here for you and me."


(Spotlight fades; lights rise on JONAH, leaning against an iron fence in front of the North side of the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. At rear of theater is slide/backdrop of Lafayette Park, which faces the White House across Pennsylvania Avenue.)

On either side of JONAH are four signs: one 4' x 4' reading "LET MY BODY GO!", one 4' x 8' reading "WANTED, WISDOM AND HONESTY," one 8' x 8' sign reading "REVELATION: THIS NEED NOT BE OUR END -- IT'S UP TO YOU!" over a graphic red, yellow and black painting of a nuclear explosion, and an odd-size sign lettered "FAST FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT -- DAY 55." JONAH is dressed in a loose longsleeved shirt, corduroy slacks, comfortable shoes. His glasses perch on the end of his nose beneath warm eyes, now closed. His chin digs through a thick beard into his chest, arms and feet are crossed comfortably, long hair pulled back in a braid.

Enter OFFICER SPOOFNER in summer uniform, nightstick and gun slung lower-than-regulation on his hips.)

SPOOFNER: "How are you, Mr. J?"

JONAH: (Opens his eyes and looks over his glasses at SPOOFNER.)
"Not bad, Officer Spoofner. Gassed any squirrels today?"

SPOOFNER: (ironically) "Now, you know I don't gas squirrels, Mr. J. The National Park Service has that responsibility. I'm just here to keep the peace."

JONAH: (Puts his hands behind his neck and stretches his feet further forward.)
"And what's your definition of peace, Officer Spoofner? A four-year-old told me yesterday he thought it was `keeping quiet.' Would you agree with that definition?"

SPOOFNER: "That's part of it."

JONAH: "And what happens if someone -- like me, for example -- decides not to keep quiet, and instead sits on the sidewalk speaking out? Is that a violation of peace?"

SPOOFNER: "Now, you know as long as you don't break any laws, you have a right to speak out, Mr. Jonah. This is America!" (He saunters offstage, peering behind the signs as he exits.)


(Enter SITA, a 75-year-old Sri-Lankan turned American, wearing a sari over which is draped a smock which reads


She stops before JONAH and bends down, reaching for his hands. She speaks intensely, her accent musical still after 40 years away from her country.)

SITA: "Darling, according to Buddhist philosophy, your life is much too valuable to waste. When you are dead, there's nothing more you can do. Stay alive, darling. There are too few peace workers as it is. We need you."

JONAH: "Look, Sita, I don't know what I'm doing is right. I only know we're on a fast track to genocide. And so few seem to care. I've sat here over a year now. Who's listening?"

SITA: "I'm listening."

JONAH: "And who else? Have you found a better way to capture people's attention nonviolently? If you can convince me you have, I'll quit fasting. Besides, you're fasting too."

SITA: "Yes, darling, but not for 55 days! And not to make any demands! We Buddhists fast, of course, but for purification! I don't believe the Christian idea of public martyrdom is either wise or profitable."

(She straightens.) "I'm on my way to the Senior Citizens Convention to present my resolution that we old folks all work to make war illegal. Do you think they will like my dance?"

(She twirls and sings as sitar accompanies from wings:)


(She whirls to an end breathlessly, laughs richly.)

JONAH: "They're crazy if they don't like it."

SITA: "I will cook you an eastern feast if you break your fast, Jonah. My home is your home."

JONAH: "Thanks, Sita. I'll remember -- if that better idea comes along."


(As SITA exits, enter HESTER, exotically wrapped in plastic bags, rumpled white hair framing a hostile, muttering frown. A smudge of dirt adorns her nose. She's pulling a wire cart full of stuffed plastic bags behind her. She shakes her fist at the White House.)

HESTER: "It's YOU, you bastard! They should put you out HERE, THEN you'd see! THEN you'd know! But NO, YOU don't want to lose your cushy bed and champagne brunch and all them toadies pointin' the way to the bathroom!" (HESTER runs into a sign, staggers back.) "Oof." (HESTER glowers over at JONAH.) "WHO are YOU?"

JONAH: "Jonah." (Gets up, stands holding a sign briefly to gather his shaky equilibrium, and walks over to her.) "Are you all right?"

HESTER: (Shrugs his hand away.) "Hell NO I'm not all right! I got no money, no food, no place to sleep 'cept that louse-riddled flophouse across town. Can't get a job without an address. Can't get an address without a job. And here you sit, another plug in the asshole of the Great White King, knockin' people over with shit.... I didn't ask you your NAME, man. I asked WHO are YOU?"

JONAH: "A philosopher."


JONAH: "Lover of wisdom."

HESTER: "Why you HERE, then, oh 'Lover of Wisdom'? Don't you know there ain't no wisdom in this neighborhood?"

JONAH: "I'm here to communicate."

HESTER: "Communicate what?"

JONAH: "If we don't learn to live together, we're going to die together ... very soon."

HESTER: "Serve you all right."

JONAH: "May be. May be."

HESTER: (Surveys signs.) "These signs don't make no sense."

JONAH: "No?"

HESTER: "Who's gonna listen? Nobody gives a damn what nobody says, too wrapped up in chasin' a buck or chasin' tail to care what a crazy hippie thinks. You'll die here on this sidewalk and nobody'll even know it. Look at me. I've been tryin' to tell 'em to keep their guv'ment cooties offa me -- that's why I wear this plastic, my skin was swarmin' with germs they sprayed on me to chew me up and spit me out so they won't have to listen no more. I call 'em every day, but do they listen?" (She spits.)

JONAH: "Who's this?"

HESTER: "FBI, CIA, White House, IRS, the whole lot of them. THEY know what's happening." (HESTER points at White House.)

JONAH: "Could be. Myself, I'm not as concerned about convincing the FBI or CIA as I am with people like you, and him," (nods at passing tourist), "and her, and him." (Nods at office workers hurrying past. They all ignore him.)

HESTER: "Huh. You think those people care? You're wastin' your time!"

(Enter A.C. AIRHEART (AC), 8l years old, arthritic, carrying a l6-lb. sledgehammer.)

JONAH: "Say, friend, are you fixin' to hammer out an agreement?" (Steps toward AC, unsure of his purpose.)

AC: "I wish it was that simple. Folks don't seem to want to agree on much of anything. I'm gonna hammer in a point I've been tryin' to make goin' on 65 years!"

JONAH: "What point?"

AC: "A man's freedom is worth more than a hunk of granite."

JONAH: "Seems like a mighty obvious point to need such a big sledgehammer!"

AC: (Becomes agitated.) "OBVIOUS POINT! What do YOU know? Do you know me? Were you THERE, all those times I come out here seekin' justice? In and out, in and out, that's the story of my life, because them uniforms, they just don't know the meaning of our Constitution, nosirree! I seen people like you come and go out here, come and go -- I was here, in this very spot, when my mam, God rest her soul, and the rest of them suffragists told Wilson his war policies stunk. I was here in '38 when that fella Norman Thomas -- he was runnin' for president -- came out here to tell FDR to fight the second war all by hisself! Where were YOU? Do you know what's in my mind? Let me tell you, smartalec, they had a lot more respect for me back in '64 when they was picketin' 'gainst segregation."

JONAH: "Didn't mean any disrespect, Mr...."

AC: "Airheart. A.C. Airheart, FRIENDS call me AC...."

JONAH: "AC?" (AC scowls, then nods. JONAH extends hand.) "JONAH. Please, tell me, AC. I'm interested. What's your story?"

AC: (Reluctantly takes JONAH's hand. HESTER moves closer, intrigued.) "Humph."

HESTER: "Yeah, AC. Tell him."

AC: "Well ..... It's almost seventy years ago now I first sat down out here in front of the White House with a sign -- a big, beautiful sign, the work of the Lord in a l7-year-old boy's head! 'HYPOCRISY STINKS!' -- that's what it said! Them Park Police, a Lieutenant Marryhatt, I remember him like it was yesterday, he said I was breakin' the law, I couldn't have nothin' but hand-held signs in front of the White House -- moved me and my sign by force and non-sense over against that granite post over there -- Then a Captain Crabapple of the City police told me I had to move it out of the enTIRE CITY or get arrested for VAGRANCY! So I obliged 'em, and lit it on fire, and that damn post crackled and popped me right into jail for six months. Mam was heartbroken. She quit picketin' and locked herself up in the attic with her medicine. But that didn't stop me. Nosirree! First thing I did when I come out was get a hammer and chisel and pretty as you please chip 'HYPOCRISY STINKS' right in that post itself. That time they put me in the looney bin."

HESTER: "Looney bin? Where?"

AC: "St. Elizabeth's, where else?"

HESTER: "I been there! Say, ol' man...."

AC: "WHO you callin' old, woman? I could drink you under the table any day." (HESTER steps back, impressed.)

JONAH: "Isn't St. Elizabeth's the place the President's would-be assassin is being held?"

AC: "Sure is. I seen him time to time. They got thousands o' folk pumped full o' sedatives and hallucinogens...." (Voice fades; he shakes himself.)
"Each time I got out, I chipped away again, been spendin' the past 65 years of my life in and out, in and out, don't know any other way to live, you know? This time, my joints're so sore I can't make the words, so I figgered a sledgehammer'd do the job. I'm gettin' hungry." (AC lifts the sledgehammer a few inches.) "Anybody want to help?"

HESTER: "Wait, you old fool!" (He looks at her hopefully.) "Ain't nothin' worth goin' to jail for! 'Specially not this!"

AC: "Woman, I seen hundreds of folks goin' to jail right here on this sidewalk for any number of reasons, most of 'em good. Can't let them black coats keep us from speakin' our minds! Besides, how do you expect me to eat? I ain't cooked a meal for myself since I was in knee pants."

HESTER: (Thinks a minute, then makes up her mind.) "Come with me. I'll show you my favorite dumpsters."

AC: "Dumpsters. Humph." (He looks her up and down. She becomes self-consious, readjusts her costume.) "YOU eat out of DUMPSTERS? You look pretty healthy to be sharin' rat food!"

HESTER: (Straightens proudly.) "When I have to. Or soup kitchens. 'Least I'm free."

AC: "But where do you sleep?"

HESTER: "There's a dozen grates around here, all warm as soggy noodles when the weather's cold. Come on, I'll show you..." (Counts change from her pocket.) "...maybe I'll even buy you a beer."

AC: (Peers down at sledgehammer, spits in his hands, tries to swing it, only gets a soft thump out of the stone.) "Beer. Did you say beer? Maybe you got somethin' there."

HESTER: "Damn right."

(She puts his sledgehammer in her cart, and they walk offstage together, talking and shaking their fists at the White House.)


(As JONAH settles back down into his original position (prone), NORMAN MAYER enters with an arm full of literature, a folding stool and a bunch of pink roses. NORMAN is a silver-haired, soft-spoken man, normally of few words, carefully chosen. He appears to be in his early 60's. He walks up to JONAH.)

NORMAN: "Still at it, I see."

JONAH: (Smiles) "Well, well, Norman Mayer. I was hoping you'd return."

NORMAN: (Unfolds his stool and sits down, handing JONAH the roses.) "I've been pondering your position these last five days, JONAH. What you're doing is admirable. It demonstrates great commitment. But it's foolish and futile. If you starve yourself to death you'll be written off as just another kook who committed suicide. I have an idea. If you change your mind, I'll tell you about it."

(NORMAN pulls an orange out of his pocket and places it at JONAH's side, stands, and folds his stool.)

JONAH: "You won't tell me first."


JONAH: (Thinks.) "Do you have another copy of your flyer? I gave my other copy away."

NORMAN: "Of course."

(Hands him several. As JONAH reads, NORMAN walks across stage, reopens the stool, sits down, and begins handing literature to passersby.)

JONAH: (reads) "Number One priority: ban all nuclear weapons or have a nice doomsday."

(JONAH looks at NORMAN a moment, then closes his eyes wearily. A few office workers purposefully pass both NORMAN's outstretched hand and JONAH's signs as if they didn't exist. A flock of children are shuttled past by their teachers, who urge them to "Hurry up, now!"; one youngster takes a flyer from NORMAN, and pauses to read JONAH's signs. JONAH senses his presence, rises to his elbow to speak. The teacher scurries back to drag the child along. A group of women, carrying ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) placards emblazoned "EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK!", picket briefly. When NORMAN offers them literature, they shake their heads, march in a circle once or twice, look at their watches, and begin their exit, oblivious of JONAH's signs.)

(Enter LUTHER, a 50-year-old ex-you-name-it alcoholic who bumps into one of the marchers, turns and yells after them.)

LUTHER: "We want bigger government tits!"

(LUTHER grins at the scandalized looks of the exiting women, weaves over to the fence some distance from JONAH's signs, tries to swig from the wine bottle he clutches, finds it's empty, carefully shoves it into his pocket after a couple of abortive attempts, slides down the fence, curls into a ball and goes to sleep. A Park ranger enters stage left and notes everyone's positions, scribbling industriously. A couple of well-dressed pedestrians scan the signs too quickly to read them, their lips curling with mild disgust both at the signs and at LUTHER snoring nearby, much as they might if they saw a man lying in his own feces. They shrug away from NORMAN's offer of literature. A plainclothes cop swoops in to photograph JONAH. NORMAN packs up and walks over to JONAH who, rising again on one elbow, watches the cop exit with irritation, and shouts:)


NORMAN: "You're wasting your time. You sit on the sidewalk trying to get through to robots. All they care about is their asses and their pocketbooks."

JONAH: (Glares for a long moment at NORMAN, picks up the orange, and begins peeling it.) "All right." (JONAH eats a section of the orange and pulls his "FAST" sign face down.) "What's your idea?"

NORMAN: "I want to get a ton of dynamite and blow up one of their sacred icons."

(JONAH's hand stops halfway to his mouth.)

JONAH: "Suppose, for the sake of argument, I agreed to help you. What assurance can you give that no one would be hurt except you and me?"

NORMAN: "None."

(JONAH looks at the orange segment as if it could provide him with guidance, places it beside him on the sidewalk.)

"But we're talking about the continued existence of the human race. Anyway, there are no 'innocent bystanders' in this game. They're all part of the problem. If they don't pay for it, build it, or operate it, their apathy allows it to happen." (Opens his stool and sits down.)
"A few years ago I was watching a sunset in the Schyell's Islands and a disturbing question hit me. 'What contribution have you made?' I was ashamed of the answer. Since then almost all I've talked about is nuclear weapons, and almost every dime I've made has gone to spread the word."
(Siren wails; NORMAN observes police car pass on Pennsylvania Avenue by scanning audience left to right.)
"Sometimes I find myself wondering why. When I started I thought, 'I can solve this problem with 1,000 dedicated people who understand.' After several years I was willing to start with a hundred people." (He looks around sorrowfully at oblivious pedestrians.) "Today, I'd settle for just one. It's easy to sell manure, but you can't give the truth away." (He rises.)
"So, what do you think, Jonah? Would you like to help me startle these lunatics into listening?"

JONAH: "Call it a matter of principle, Norman. To me nuclear weapons are a problem of violence. And my experience convinces me that violence inevitably leads to violence. I think I'll just stay here until I can think of something more effective to do."

NORMAN: "Maybe you're right. Maybe a reproachful presence at the gates of power can keep the holocaust at bay till people start listening. Frankly, I don't think we have that much time."

(He exits. Enter SITA, looking very tired and dejected.)

SITA: "Oh, darling, I am SO sad."

JONAH: "What happened?"

SITA: "I presented my resolution -- that all seniors of the world must unite to stop weapons proliferation and war -- to the president, vice president, and parliamentarian of Senior Citizens of America -- signed by five delegates as required -- and do you know what they told me? Do you know what they TOLD me? 'Your resolution is irrelevant and out of order!' Now, what is irrelevant about stopping war? How is stopping weapons proliferation out of order?" (Sighs.)
"Sometimes I think my son is right, and I am truly crazy.... But I'm happily crazy! ... But these poor, poor people.... So now I must stay here and make war illegal -- like cannibalism, human sacrifice to the gods, and slavery. I MUST do this. That's all I want to do before I die...." (pause)
"I must go, darling, and rest. Perhaps if I meditate I'll find the way to challenge our leaders to be sane and humane." (Exits.)

(JONAH picks up the orange, studies it, eats it, tucks peelings under "FAST" sign, and settles back, closing his eyes.


Light fades on JONAH, rises on FEY and her daughter ANNIE (18) packing the car. Slide backdrop shows early May morning on St. Croix River.)

FEY: "Climb in the car and get comfortable, honey. There's only one more bag."

ANNIE: (Yawns, climbs in passenger seat.) "Okay. God, it's early...."

(FEY puts the last bag in and straightens to listen to ducks and geese on the river, crows overhead. She sings.)

"The river sings, and stings the air with promises
to spread her icy song
till cherry blossoms drop their silk on unknown barefoot tracks,
welcoming, welcoming.

The river quacks. She caws.
She cracks and yaws
and squeezes newborn goslings against her whitened banks,
caught too soon, too soon for sense of growing.

The river growls. She purrs.
She howls her fierce enchantments to freeze my heart ...
too late ...
not too late to shake me from her."

(After one last look around, FEY climbs into the driver's seat.)

"I dream of widenings, of warmings to our stroking down her skin,
of diving in to reckon out the rightness of the quest,
no time to rest, nowhere to rest,
until the end becomes beginning."


(The car door closes firmly; spotlight fades on FEY, rises on JONAH, in prone position beside a 12' x 8' sign of a red, yellow, orange and black mushroom cloud with the words "REVELATION: THIS NEED NOT BE OUR END." Officer SPOOFNER stands looking down for a long moment as if willing JONAH to open his eyes voluntarily. Just as he resignedly begins reaching for JONAH's toe with his nightstick, JONAH speaks, eyes still closed.)

JONAH: "We never completed our discussion, Officer Spoofner."

(His eyes open. SPOOFNER jerks back.)

SPOOFNER: "Oh? What's that?"

JONAH: "What about sleeping, Officer Spoofner? Do you think sleeping is a peaceful activity? Or would you characterize sleeping as an act which threatens the fabric of society?" (JONAH rises to one elbow.)

SPOOFNER: "Sleeping on the sidewalk is a violation of the law, Mr. Jonah."

JONAH: "But is it peaceful or violent?"

SPOOFNER: "It's illegal."

JONAH: "Peaceful or violent?"

SPOOFNER: "I'm not paid to answer that question, Mr. J. I have no opinion."

JONAH: "And that's why you will again feel ... compelled to arrest me for sleeping when you're told to do so by your 'superior' -- right?"

(As JONAH speaks, HESTER and AC re-enter, absorbed in fast-food fare they're unwrapping and eating. They stop aghast as they see two Secret Service agents (SS) enter and roughly knock over the signs, exposing plastic, a box of literature, a hammer, and a blanket. SPOOFNER watches silently. JONAH rises.)

JONAH: "What's up?"

SS#l: "Step back."

JONAH: "Why?"

SS#2: "Just step back."

(The two SS move toward JONAH threateningly.)

JONAH: "Why?"

SS#l: "Someone called in and told us there's a bomb planted behind these signs. We're checking it out. You're going to have to clear out of here."

JONAH: "Why?"

SS#l: "It's been determined your signs create a safety hazard. Terrorists can hide bombs behind them, or use them to climb the fence."

JONAH: "But the fence is less than nine feet high. Nobody needs a sign to get over it. Look." (JONAH grabs the top of the fence and hauls himself up.) "Even a starveling can scale this fence."

(He drops limply back down on the sidewalk as SS converge.)


(She pulls her cart back. AC steps forward.)

SS#l: "You're under arrest!"

(JONAH remains limp as the SS handcuff him and begin to drag him away. He calls to a gathering crowd.)

JONAH: "Let's nuke the world for America, folks!"
(The SS jerk his hands up behind him roughly. JONAH looks around at the pedestrians.)
"Let's nuke for regulations and hypocrisy!
Long live mindless bureaucracy!
The First Amendment is dead!"

(JONAH looks at SPOOFNER pointedly, who turns away and begins dragging "WANTED, WISDOM AND HONESTY" sign offstage. AC grabs at the sign. SPOOFNER threatens him wordlessly with hand on nightstick. AC looks over at HESTER, lets go and steps back. The SS who are dragging JONAH stop to observe. Foot on JONAH like a big game hunter's trophy, SS#l poses for police photographer stationed in gathering crowd. JONAH remains physically passive, after suggesting to those nearby:)

"The First Amendment is dead!"

(The SS, seeing AC has backed down, drag JONAH offstage. SPOOFNER drags the sign after them. AC raises his arm in a Nazi salute. The crowd silently melts away. LUTHER snores through it all.)

Peace Park Page | Proposition One