Gender-neutral characters

 
NOA from The Great Impresario Boris Lermontov Would Like To Invite You To Dinner
(any race, 20s+, NOT meant to be performed by a cis white man)

There are plenty of things I don’t like about myself.

I pick at my lips.

I can’t seem to stop picking my lips.

I use chapstick, I slather them in chapstick,

I have fidget devices,

I go to therapy 

well, I went to therapy.

I plan to go back to therapy.

When I can.

But I still pick at my lips.

I’ve done it my whole life.

 

My mom

recently

my mom said she’d read that it was a sign of anxiety and trauma.

She asked me if I’d had any trauma when I was younger.

She was so worried for me.

I was glad we were on the phone so she couldn’t read my expression.

How do 

how could I say it was probably her?

 

There are plenty of things I don’t like about myself

but I do speak up when I need to.

Or at least, most of the time.

I don’t like that sometimes I miss things

or get too frightened

or worry about losing a job.

But I guess.

Well, I guess most of us have been through that.

And all I can do is try. 

And push myself.

 

I probably push myself too hard.

I’m trying to prioritize rest. I’m trying to prioritize grace.

I’m trying to prioritize embracing joy 

when there’s joy

instead of waiting for something bad to happen

I’m trying to prioritize making space for grief 

when there’s grief 

instead of pushing it down 

down

down.

I’m trying to remember people are people. 

That we all need space to feel things

that we aren’t machines

that we can’t just workworkworkworkworkworkwork

that it can be okay if someone doesn’t get back to me

tomorrow 

or in a week.

 

Sometimes I’m mean.

Sometimes I’m too hard on others.

Or say the wrong thing and realize it later.

Or lean into vindictiveness

instead of trying to help people change

instead of believing people will change

people can change

I know they can

Lermontov’s right though

I’m not sure…

I’m not sure they will.


So, yes,

there are plenty of things I don’t like about myself

but I am good at what I do.

I am good at my work.

I am a skilled performer.

I am a hard-working creator.

Sometimes I need help and support. 

We all do

right?

Sometimes I need grace.

But I am good at what I do.

I am a skilled performer.

I am a hard-working creator.
And I can do this!

 

(“This” is not ballet. 

 

This is something the actor can do that they want to show off. Or maybe something they’ve always wanted to learn that this production finally made space for.

 

This could be:

-Dancing [but not ballet]

-Playing an instrument

-Crafting

-Rollerskating

-Decorating a cake

-Juggling

-Crying on cue

-Laughing uproariously on cue

-Spinning [but not ballet]

-Singing

-Shuffling cards

-A magic trick

-Something else that feels right

 

Give them as much space as they need to do the thing in a way they are proud of. Give them time to show off. Give them time to receive applause if it’s given.)

It took me a while to learn that.

And now I’m doing it to entertain you.

But nobody, definitely not Lermontov,

pays me for the hours it takes to learn these things.

 

I work so hard to make myself hireable 

so I can get insurance

so I can pay for therapy

so I can practice saying no

so I can practice saying that’s not okay

so I can promise my mom I’ll eat

so I can buy chapstick

so I can learn more skills

 

and I spend the rest of my time trying to remind myself to…

to have grace

to make space for joy

and grief

to make space for rest.

 

But, sure, there are plenty of things I don’t like about myself.

SIBLING from Use All Available Doors (any race, 20s+)

 

That pen...
My older brother used that brand.
He used to, to put the pen in between his teeth like a,
you know that thing, you know, like a dancer with a rose
in his teeth, with the petals dangling and the thorns broken off

and he'd just chew.
Chew chew chew.
I thought it was so gross.
Chew chew chew chew chew chew chew.

The pens, they always ended up like this one, a little bent in the middle and textured…
I don't know how he wrote with them but every night
I fell asleep to the point scratching against paper in short strokes,
words rocking me through paper-thin walls.

One of my friends, an only child, once asked me what it's like to have an older brother.
Wasn't too bad, I guess.
Mostly we just avoided each other.
...he, uh, he doesn't write anymore.

 

GLOVE OWNER from Use All Available Doors (any race, late 20s+)

 

Wait, that's--that's my glove!

They were brand new. I bought them with my first paycheck at my new job.
Red gloves with fleece lining. And touch screen compatible!
Which seemed like a luxury at the time...

But...

I dropped the right one at Metro Center and a train vaulted it into the air, whipping it about until it landed on a grate across the tracks, perfectly posed like someone delicately resting their hand on a lover’s arm.

I stared at my right glove every day waiting for the train on my way to work.

The fingers started to blacken--I couldn't tell if they burned or just collected dirt--and once the palm was plump with a rat making a nest. Every morning I watched my right glove dip farther and farther into the grate as my right hand became number and number in the cold.

It was during this winter that I became increasingly aware all my favorite love poems were actually tragedies.

 

GUITARIST from ID (any race, 20s+)

 

This is

This is an original

an original song

As much as anything can be original at least

What am I but a copy of my parents

who are copies of their parents

of their parents

of their parents

and perhaps this song is a copy of us

as we are copies of them

or maybe not

Maybe not

You know

there are painters

who spend their lives copying great masters

making reproductions of their work

and sometimes their copies are put on display

while paintings in museums are on loan or removed for cleaning

and no one’s the wiser, no one knows

and really

at that point you have to ask

does it really matter if no one can tell the difference?

There was a woman

you know this story I promise you’ve heard it

a woman in Spain who attempted to restore a detailed painting of Jesus,

covering the original in thick, eager brushstrokes.

And maybe that ruined the painting

or maybe she simply created an original and a copy.

Because this is art and this is life, isn’t it.

Our lovers are copies of the first,

our clothes copies of a pattern,

our work a copy of the one who taught us

whether it was a mentor or the ever-present weight of life,

and maybe this is wrong or maybe it’s okay

 

And this is an original song.

As much as it can be, at least.

 

FIGURE from This Vessel Is A Fragile Thing (any race, 50s-60s)

 

The book of the generation of The Body,
the child of, the child of?
They begat they; and they begat they; and they begat they and their kin;

And they begat her and him of there; and she begat they; and they begat him!


No lies lie here, this is built of truth:

As below, so above, and as above, so below, here to perform a singular miracle.

Just as every speck of being came to be through one focus,

so every speck is re-created through one focus, a singular thing.
The sun is their father,
the moon their mother,
they have been carried in the gut of the wind and nursed from the breast of the earth.

All natural perfection is here.

They are most whole when transformed into earth.
Split them.
Break the earth from the fire,
pull apart the structure from the essence,

carefully, with complete attention.
And then, from earth to heaven, they rise,

And then, from heaven to earth they fall,
and in this they draw the power of all types.
In the witnessing of this, you can bear the understanding of the whole world
and lose any uncertainty.

This is true mind, true guts, true nerve, this conquers the structure and reveals the essence.
So were they made. So were you. So was the whole world created.
And with this knowledge, through this process, magnificent adaptations may be produced.

I am I and I have said all I came here to say.

 

BAKER from This Vessel Is A Fragile Thing (any race, late 30s-40s)

 

I went home early.

I went home early.

I went home early

because I was

scared.

The sky, it was…

I thought a storm, a bad storm.

And then the sirens

and I am home safe my daughters are clutched in my arms we are stuffed in a closet smothered in pillows and I am home safe with my family we are safe we are safe we are safe everything is fine it all ends with some trees in the road, nothing bad, it hurt others still it missed us we are fine

But

But my… my life spared…

A terrible trade.

My shop is gone.

My life spared but my livelihood

Gone.

All

gone.

 

This section of the main road will be closed three years,

no one can and no one will build here. The town will suffer,
travelers will skip over us along the new loop in the interstate

and the people who live here will now focus on their own livelihoods,

buying cheap bread in grocery stores instead of chicken salad sandwiches,
canisters of coffee grounds instead of fresh-brewed cups,

baking kolache and klobasnicky with their grandmothers

or maybe they will forget their grandmothers and just make do with a biscuit and jelly, and frozen sausages in buns.

My children would have been better off with my death insurance.