A Play for My Father
RICARDO stands with the overhead projector. It is projecting onto the back wall a transparency of the Presidents of the United States. Throughout the following he places an “x” over each of their faces.
RICARDO: I don’t believe in it. For me, history is a constructed narrative citing heroes and events to which we are supposed to be grateful for our existence. History erases us—everyday individuals and their heroism.
RICARDO tosses aside the transparency. He removes a small picture of his father from his wallet.
RICARDO: This is a picture of my father.
RICARDO places the picture on the overhead the projector.
RICARDO: He’s small and I’m not just saying that because he’s Mexican. Looking at this picture, I know what you’re thinking: It is no surprise his favorite movie is Saturday Night Fever. His favorite part is when Tony Manero played, by John Travolta talks about the Brooklyn Bridge:
Puppets of John Travolta and the Brooklyn Bridge made of transparency appear.
(Imitating the film.) “Do you know how tall that bridge is? That tower goes up [unintelligible sounds] feet.”
No one will ever know my father like they do John Travolta.
RICARDO brings the picture into focus, enlarging it just a little.
His life was not all disco dancing. He plays Motown and the Bee-gees while telling of surviving an abusive father and gangs in Chicago.
A transparency puppet of a dilapidated Chicago house appears.
He talks about falling in love with baseball and my mom. While engaged, he would drive her to the suburb Evanston and they’d just stare at the big houses.
A transparency puppet of a suburban home appears for a moment. Both puppets recede. In Saturday Night Fever, Travolta as Tony says, “There’s a guy buried in that bridge. They were pouring cement. He slipped off and fell in. Dumb fuck.”
There are many everyday people, buried deep, that no one remembers. They may have hard or easy lives, been good or shitty parents.
As far as sons go: I hated sports, crashed two cars, was arrested four times and borrowed more money from him than I can ever payback. I came out to him on an Easter Sunday crying on the phone. The next few months he called and consoled me, saying things like, “I was on the internet. There are a lot of other gay or bisexual actors. Supposedly John Travolta is gay.”
I really love my dad. He’s getting old
RICARDO enlarges the picture a bit and indicates to the hair.
You see all that hair. It’s hardly there now. He’s probably a lot like your dad. And I know they don’t write about them in history books. He’s small. But when he’s buried deep, I’m going to remember him.
The Bee-gees “Stayin’ Alive” from Saturday Night Fever plays. RICARDO begins enlarging the picture, it gets bigger and bigger, eventually consuming the projection frame and going out of focus.
OWN the book!
We put together 225 of our favorite plays from our ever-growing archive of work from Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.