“THE RAG DOLLS”
THIS IS A SNIPPET OF A PLAY IN TWO ACTS
Cast of Characters
SARAH – The editor. Sharp, Ruthless
JOHN – Reporter. Hungry.
MAX – Older reporter. Hapless
HAZEL – Young reporter on her first paid job.
Setting – The play is set during the economic boom in an Irish town in the south of Ireland. It is one of three newspapers fighting for readership in a small pond. The staff in the paper don’t have any real interest in the town they are reporting on. They have come from Dublin and they are frustrated but determined to make the best of it.
The lights go up on to an office set. There are four people sitting around a desk with notebooks on their laps. They are three journalists with their editor at an editorial meeting.
SARAH – We have to have more than this people. Seven vanilla stories does not a paper make!
MAX – Well, I have some good pictures from the chamber of commerce black tie…
SARAH – Boring! Next!
JOHN – We have excellent pictures from that truck that overturned yesterday.
SARAH – So? Where’s the story?
JOHN – Well, it’s like the sixth truck to crash on that stretch of road in a month or something.
SARAH – Any of those drivers die?
JOHN – No…
SARAH – Fuck that! Any serious injuries at least?
JOHN – I don’t know.
SARAH – Well, find out please. Hazel, what else do you have for me?
HAZEL – Well… I have the ice cream party stuff and then there’s the profile on the new wedding boutique and the …
SARAH – I said what ELSE do you have for me? Those are fillers and frankly, they’re not even good fillers. I need something else. You got a great front page for me last week. I am looking for that quality every week!
HAZEL – Okay… Sorry.
SARAH – No sorry’s just get me a story. We have two days folks. Get me something decent.
MAX – No problemo boss!
SARAH – If it’s not a problem, then get on with it!
JOHN – I heard something potentially interesting in the pub last night…
SARAH – If it’s another one of your blonde joke then you can scram, Johnny.
JOHN – No, no. A possible story…
SARAH – No such thing. It’s either a story or it’s not. Tell me…
JOHN – Well, it’s… I was chatting to a banker friend of mine and he asked me if i knew anything about the rumours circulating about the new block of apartments on River Street. Aparently it was built without planning permission.
SARAH – Who built it?
JOHN – Some crowd from up north I think.
SARAH – Get their name and then start digging.
JOHN – Okay. It might be bullshit.
SARAH – I bet you a hundred quid it’s not bullshit. Who is this bar fly guy?
JOHN – Paul Williams. Should I call him?
SARAH – Do your own snooping first. Hazel, the other paper did a so-called report on the water contamination on some rural group scheme. Check that out. I want you to go to the people affected and get a good angry story out of them.
HAZEL – Okay. So, you want me to visit these people then?
SARAH – Of course you’re to visit them. The old age pensioners especially. We want to get a good sob story, especially the ones that live all alone.
HAZEL – How am I supposed to do that?
SARAH – (She stares in disbelief , sighs) Hold out your hand…
HAZEL – Wha…? Er okay. (she holds out her hands flat)
SARAH – Very good. Now, make a fist…
HAZEL – Like this?
SARAH – Very good. Now, bring that fist to a few doors and get me that bloody story! Get to it! (Hazel drops her head in embarrassment and exits quickly.)
Jesus! what that girl is doing in journalism is beyond me. We’ll toughen her up. Max, you take John’s story on the series of trucker accidents and get me something good. Give the cops a call to start with. Now both of you go and get me a decent front page.
(Max and John exchange glances and exit. Sarah checks her mobile and sighs. She dials a number.)
SARAH – Well, sorry I missed you.. I couldn’t answer I was in a meeting… We’re doing great. We have another great paper for this week…
Lights up into Sarah’s office. She is sitting on top of the desk reading through papers. Hazel is sitting in the chair.
SARAH – Wow they went three weeks without clean water?
HAZEL – Yes. I managed to speak to two separate people. Both O.A.P’S like you said. The first guy seemed a bit confused so I decided to leave him alone. It didn’t feel right, my being there.
SARAH – Why not?
HAZEL – Because I am not sure he really knew what he was saying…
SARAH – Well, what was he saying?
HAZEL – He started by being angry at the council and then I explained that he should be angry at the scheme crowd and he didn’t know what i was talking about. Then he started ranting about some local bingo game that he claimed was rigged.
SARAH – So where is your copy on that? And i assume you took a photo of him man for me…
HAZEL – No! I left shortly afterwards. Like I said he was confused. I felt like i was taking advantage… Sorry.
SARAH – Are you a doctor now?
HAZEL – Pardon?
SARAH – Well, you seem to think you have the right to state this man is nuts so…
HAZEL – I don’t know what you mean…
SARAH – You wasted precious time. You could have gotten something more out of him if you bothered and then he hands you a perfectly good story about a fixed bingo game and you walk away! You never waste a source or a story. You never let some shitty morality crisis get in the way! Christ! Are you a reporter or aren’t you?
HAZEL – I am… But…
SARAH – No but’s. Now, what about the other guy? Did you at least get a photo for me?
HAZEL – Yes (She hands her a digital camera and Sarah examines it)
SARAH – I can’t use that! (practically throws the camera back at her) You’re going back to that village. Go back to both of those men and then dip into the local pub and see what else they can tell you about the water problem and this bingo story. Get Simon to meet you out there with the camera and don’t come back until you have my front page! Clear?
HAZEL – Yes, yes Sarah. I will (she exits)
(Sarah puts her head in her hands in despair, looks at her watch. There is a knock on the door)
SARAH – Come in!
MAX – Well boss… That trucker from yesterday just died…
SARAH – Finally! Something I can run with. Right get talking to the family and a local priest.
MAX – Well, he wasn’t a local… He was from Cork.
SARAH – Shit, really? Ah sure it doesn’t matter. Talk to a priest from the area anyway and then get some family member on the phone. Then get on to the county council for a comment about their total neglect of the road. Also, I want you to get information on the other truckers who had accidents. Talk to them or their families and make sure you tell them about the fatal crash yesterday!
MAX – I will boss. Lovely Jobly… Will do…
SARAH – Oh and one more thing Max…
MAX – Yes boss?
SARAH – Would you please stop using that stupid expression every five seconds? I heard you say it to a judge on the phone last week. Bit of professionalism…Yeah?
MAX – Oh yes indeed boss, No problem… Lovely… Sorry. It’s just a force of habit. You’re a city girl, I suppose you’re not familiar with our local expressions. They’re harmless…
SARAH – Well, I’ll give you the boot if I hear it again.
MAX – Well what should i say instead then?
SARAH – Jesus, you could try “Thank you very much, Good bye” That’s what most civilized people use…
MAX – I am civilized… I am an Acolyte as a matter of fsct.
SARAH – A what?
MAX – An acolyte. I am permitted to give out Holy Communion.
SARAH – Yeah, well, I don’t want your holy communion. I just want a professional… And I bet you don’t behave like Del Boy on the altar!
MAX – I have been charged with that task for years and I am very well known.
SARAH – So what do you say when you feed the masses?
MAX – Nothing.
SARAH – Now there’s an idea…
MAX – (Max walks slowly towards the door in a huff) Anyway, I will be at my desk cracking on with my article if you need me.
(Another knock on the soor, John enters)
JOHN – Sorry Sarah, but I have some updates on that building story…
SARAH – Okay….
JOHN – Well, I called the planning office and they said they can’t make any comment until the case is cleared…
SARAH – Ah ha! So we do have a story! Did you speak to the cops yet?
JOHN – I did, but again it’s all very strange. They refused a comment. Although they did confirm that the site is under investigation.
SARAH – Ah fabulous! Who owns it?
JOHN – It seems to be owned by more than one person. I think it is under a company name. I am waiting from a call back from somebody about that.
SARAH – Your banker friend? So you cracked?
JOHN – Well, he seemed to have a fair idea what the whole thing is about and he seems very willing to talk.
SARAH – Yeah, well, just be certain to get all the facts on it. He might be chatty but that doesn’t make him reliable.
JOHN – I think his bank handled the financing of it. So needless to say we can’t name him.
SARAH – Okay. Jesus John, you’re the only real journalist in this place. Good work!
JOHN – You don’t really care for the other two, do you?
SARAH – Well, Max is pig ignorant and that Hazel is just pure naive. I have had to send her back out to that village just to finish getting the water contamination story. Then this old guy gives her dirt on some community bingo game he thinks was fixed and she just walks! It’s not fucking rocket science! (Sarah reaches for her handbag and produces a little bottle of pills)
JOHN – What are those for?
SARAH – My constant headache.
JOHN – Give Hazel a chance. you remember what it was like starting out! They don’t prepare you properly in college. She only graduated last month!
SARAH – Yes and now she is a reporter. I am not going to spoon feed anyone. We have a job to do and nobody gets special treatment. And by the way, when i started out I was on the ball. I was on top of that drug cartel in Dublin within my first year.
JOHN – Is it true you received death threats from the head guy?
SARAH – Oh Yeah… (Sarah pauses for a moment) They targeted my house and my family. They even followed me a couple of times. i didn’t really care until they started following my mother. They mugged her. Luckily somebody came along the street before they got a chance to do any real damage. It was frightening alright, but I don’t regret any of it. That’s the nature of the job!
JOHN – No offense, Sarah, but that was all in Dublin. Things are a bit different down here. Everybody knows everyone else. I may not be a local, but I can kind of understand why Hazel is so cagey sometimes. Her father is a big business man in the area. She is probably afraid of getting in his way.
SARAH – He is? What does he do?
JOHN – He owns half the feckin’ town! I thought you knew that! He has the nightclub, the betting shop and I think he owns the bar and restaurant down the street.
SARAH – Well now, Hazel never mentioned that! I assume he owns a few buildings too then…
JOHN – I’m sure he does.
SARAH – Apartments and such…
JOHN – Yeah, probably… Why?
SARAH – Maybe he even owns a certain building that has sparked our interest…
JOHN – Fuck! I never even thought of that! …That could be a bit delicate though. Hazel works here…
SARAH – Yep. But that’s not our problem. When she gets back from messing about in the country, tell her i want to see her.
JOHN – Sarah…
SARAH – That’ll be all, John. I really have to get back.
JOHN – (Sighs) Okay! Will do. Sarah, Please don’t take me off this story.
SARAH – I won’t! But you might just gain a little helper.
(John holds his hands up, turns and exits)
End of snippet!