"The doctor told you not to anthropomorphize."
|From: Touched By A Handbag (or Highway To Handbag)|
|Either||Adult: Any Age||HANDBAG|
This is the beginning of the play. Read on...
The full text of "Touched By A Handbag" and its related plays, including "Dog Tag," are available for purchase as part of "Theatre Unbound's 24 Hour Play Project, Selected Plays, Volume 1" (in hard copy or download form) at
All proceeds from the sale of the "24 Hour Play" books go to support the work of Theatre Unbound - www.theatreunbound.com
Part of Matthew's online script store
copyright 2005 Anne Bertram & Matthew A. Everett
TOUCHED BY A HANDBAG
An actress sits on stage with a sparkling purple handbag in her lap.
Enter EDWINA, PAULINA's hand in the crook of her arm. They walk slowly, circling the perimeter of the stage. PAULINA takes in their surroundings, wonderingly.
EDWINAI put the flannel sheets on your bed, but otherwise I kept everything just the same. Cleaned it, of course. I clean it every week. Just vacuum and dust, I don't move anything around. It's all ready for you.
The crocuses are in bloom out in front. The yellow ones?
You got a beautiful day. It's a beautiful day.
It'll be so good to have you home, sugar.
PAULINA sees the handbag and moves toward it.
EDWINA (cont'd)What - ?
No, sugar. You don't want that. Come on, let's go home.
PAULINA makes another feint toward the bag.
EDWINA (cont'd)You don't want that. You don't know where that's been. It's just a nasty old handbag someone left in the street. It could be dangerous. It could be full of germs. It could be full of...dope, it could have - I don't know, anthrax - sugar, there could be a bomb in there YOU DON'T WANT IT.
PAULINAThere's no need to worry, mama. It looks just like the handbag you had back when I was a little girl.
EDWINAI never. It's PURPLE. I never had a handbag looked anything like that.
PAULINAYou did so. With a pocket on the outside, just like that.
EDWINANasty old thing. We'll order a pizza for lunch when we get home. What do you think about that? Shrimp and pineapple. Anything you want.
PAULINAIt used to tell me I was the prettiest girl in the world.
EDWINAThat was a long time ago. You're done with that now.
PAULINAIt was friendly.
EDWINAThe doctor told you not to anthropomorphize.
HANDBAGEnough with the four-bit words.
EDWINAOh Lord, she's slipped her tether.
EDWINASo have I.
HANDBAGYou're perfectly fine and so is she. Nothing wrong with talking to your accessories now and again.
PAULINAWhere have you been all this time?
HANDBAGWell, I bounced from garage sale to garage sale for a while. Then I spent some time in the costume stock room of a local community theater. All that, you'll pardon the expression, acting. I finally had to make a break for it. Ah, sweet freedom! I see you just got sprung yourself.
PAULINAYou haven't changed.
EDWINAStop talking to my daughter like that.
HANDBAGAnd your mother hasn't changed either, I see.
EDWINAStop talking at all. Handbags don't talk.
HANDBAGWell, then who exactly are you arguing with right now?
EDWINALet's go, honey. This is not the way to celebrate your first five minutes out of the hospital.
HANDBAGYou call pizza celebrating?
EDWINAI'm only thinking of Paulina, what she wants.
HANDBAGMaybe she wants to talk to me.
EDWINAGrown women don't have imaginary friends. It's not seemly.
HANDBAGWhere do you get this stuff? Imaginary friends beats no friends at all anyday.
PAULINAMother, I'm right here.
PAULINALet's take her with us.
EDWINA tries to hustle PAULINA away from the handbag.
PAULINA (cont'd)She's had a hard life. Don't you want to come back home with us?
HANDBAGOh yeah. Back home with Mrs. Flannel Sheets. Big whoop.
PAULINABut no productions of "Inherit the Wind."
PAULINASo you'll come with us.
EDWINAIt will not.
HANDBAGI will not. You come with me, sweetie. I'll show you what it means to live.
EDWINAHaven't you done enough damage already? You, and the singing toaster, and the dancing blender, and those glow in the dark sneakers?!
HANDBAGLook into my tiny mirror, Edwina. What do you see?
HANDBAGBut my seven years of bad luck are long since past. C'mon, Eddie. Take a good look. Look at your daugther. What kind of world do you want to live in?
EDWINAThis is ridiculous.
PAULINA looks into HANDBAG's mirror.
HANDBAGLooky here! The prettiest girl in the world.
EDWINASTOP IT. Don't encourage her. Paulina. Sugar. Don't listen.
PAULINAYou don't think I'm pretty.
EDWINAOf course you are. You don't need a handbag to tell you that.
PAULINAI've only ever had a handbag tell me that.
EDWINAYou're lovely. A lovely girl. A lot of people could see it if you didn't waste all your affection on inanimate objects.
HANDBAGHoly hannah. Blow out your candles, Laura. I've been in way too many productions of "The Glass Menagerie," too, you know.
EDWINAThen you know a mother has to look out for her daughter.
HANDBAGMaybe she's not crazy. Maybe she's just different.
EDWINAThe world doesn't tolerate different. It never did. And nowadays, it tolerates it less and less.
HANDBAGSo? That's the world's problem, isn't it? Why make it yours? Or hers?
EDWINAFive minutes out of the psych ward and my daughter and I start talking to a handbag on the side of the road. The world isn't the problem at the moment. You are.
HANDBAGI can let go of her. Can you?
EDWINAI am not negotiating with a faux leather purse.
HANDBAGFaux leather, my ass. Like that's your real hair color.
EDWINAI am not fighting a PLASTIC PURSE for custody of my daughter.
PAULINAI'm right here.
HANDBAGI've got a lucky penny in my zippered pouch and a zipper that just won't quit. What do you have to offer? Fear? Judgment?
EDWINAThat lucky penny won't get you as far as the end of the next block.
HANDBAGThat lucky penny has gotten me a lot farther than either of you have ever gone.
EDWINAI am not listening to inspirational speeches from a cast off --
HANDBAGOh, I'm a cast-off? That's rich.
EDWINAWrinkled -- !
HANDBAGDried up -- !
EDWINAWell beyond last year's model -- !
HANDBAGRight back at you, sister!
EDWINA and HANDBAGYou old bag!
PAULINAMaybe I should leave the two of you alone to work this out.
HANDBAGYou wanna piece of me? Huh? Give it your best shot, Eddie!
EDWINAWhy, I never -- !
EDWINA makes a move for the handbag. HANDBAG snaps at her hand.
HANDBAGHmmm... I'd say it tastes like lady fingers. But there are no ladies present. Tastes more like... fishsticks. Ones that have been in the freezer too long!
EDWINAOh, you mean the freezer that periodically presented us with a terrifying fascimile of the Northern Lights in miniature? That freezer? I replaced it!
EDWINAI should have done it long ago. The same time I kicked you to the curb, you falsehood-spewing piece of --
HANDBAGHow can you help your daughter face the world if you can't even face yourself?
(there's more, but the conclusion of the story isn't available for viewing on this website)
copyright 2005 Anne Bertram & Matthew A. Everett