Christina Stachurski

Extract from Love Babe

Church bells begin ringing out the three-quarters of an hour sound. Lights up stage right (SR), indicating midday on a street in Verona, Italy. JULIET HULME enters (13 years old in 1952), wearing a frock and sunglasses, and carrying a camera, guidebook and little rucksack. She stops, looks around, consults a map in her guidebook, walks SR in front of the SR table, does a 90 degree turn and heads downstage, checks the map again, walks across the front of the stage – as the lighting comes up there, turns and fixes on the SL table and runs towards it.

JULIET H Oh, this is it!

JULIET H strikes a dramatic pose

JULIET H “O Romeo, Romeo!

JULIET CAPULET – as the ghost of herself with a horribly pale face and lots of blood from her fatal stab wound staining the front of her nightdress – glides on to her balcony) behind JULIET H.

JULIET H carrying straight on    – wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse / thy name …”
JULIET C Forswear! I get so sick of hearing that paltry crap

JULIET H jumps and looks around. She is gob-smacked to see JULIET C and waves her hand in front of her eyes, as if to brush the illusion away, but it won’t go. JULIET C is surprised that JULIET H can see her, and pulls a face to check the reaction. JULIET H takes a few steps back before her curiosity moves her forward again.

JULIET H Are you …are you Juliet?

JULIET C rolls her eyes.

JULIET H I’m Juliet too, Juliet Hulme.
JULIET C Really? You won’t believe how many silly little Juliets turn up here, wanting to have their photo taken under my balcony.

JULIET H hides her camera behind her back.

JULIET C Then there’s the busloads after busloads of tourists and hundreds of thousands of lovers. As for the shrieks of joy from women who’ve just been proposed to – I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep for 564 years.
JULIET H Don’t you get tired?
JULIET C I’m supposed to be tired and miserable.
JULIET H But you’re Juliet, the famous, greatest girl lover. Everyone wants to be you.
JULIET C There wasn’t much being about it.
JULIET H I beg your pardon?
JULIET C Romeo and I died almost before we began. Should never have listened to the Friar – God won’t forgive me for killing myself in the name of Love instead of trusting Him. That’s why he stuck me on this Hell of a balcony with non-stop bloody tourists forever. I’d throw myself over the edge, if I wasn’t dead already.

A couple of beats

JULIET H Would you like some chocolate? It always cheers Mummy up when she’s down in the dumps.
JULIET C Chock – ?

JULIET H gets the chocolate out of her rucksack and shows JULIET C.

JULIET C Oh I know – the tourists stuff their faces with it while the guides drone on. No one’s ever offered me any before. Mind you, no one’s ever seen me before. Why you?
JULIET H Shrugs    Shall I bring it up?
JULIET C If you desire –    indicating   there’s a staircase behind.

JULIET H steps up on the table via a chair. She sits down on the edge of the table to take the wrapper off and break up the chocolate. JULIET C sits next to her. They eat chocolate during the next bit – JULIET C scoffing lots – talking with their mouths full.

JULIET C You’re English – what are you doing in Verona?
JULIET H We’re on holiday on the way to live in New Zealand.
JULIET C New Ze – ?
JULIET H Zealand. Daddy’s got a new job at a university there.
JULIET C Oh. About the chocolate You’re right – I feel better already.
JULIET H That’s something. It must be ghastly having no hope. Are you really doomed forever?
JULIET C Yes. Well … oh, God gave me one chance for redemption, but that’s impossible.
JULIET H A chance?
JULIET C God said that I can go back to life and try again for a place in heaven if … Tch    She waves her hand in dismissal
JULIET C If I can save one human life. And how am I going to do that – a ghost on a balcony. No-one’s even been up here since I died – except for you. Sigh You don’t want to end up like me. Very seriously Juliet, even if you’re really really desperate, promise that you’ll think things through.
JULIET C Urgently    Promise?
JULIET H Absently    Promise.
JULIET C Very urgently    Really?
JULIET H Seriously    Cross my heart and hope to die.

The church bell rings twice, ie two o’clock. JULIET C jumps up.

JULIET C The caretaker‘ll be back from siesta any minute – better leave or you’ll be in trouble.

JULIET H scrambles to her feet, kisses JULIET C, runs down the steps and out into the courtyard. They wave. JULIET H walks away, back the way she came.

JULIET C Calling    Oh, Juliet.
JULIET C Would you bring me more chocolate before you leave town?

JULIET H nods.

JULIET C Lots and lots.    To herself    – enough for eternity.

JULIET H nods, waves, walks away, and exits as the lights fade to blackout.

An award winning playwright and theatre director, Christina has been involved in theatre from an early age, also as an actor, stage manager and designer, and producer of outdoor Shakespeare for the Christchurch City Council’s SummerTimes (1993/4). Her M.A. is in New Zealand drama and her doctorate in New Zealand fiction focuses upon issues of ethnic identity. She has been a visiting lecturer at the Christchurch College of Education, and taught creative writing for Continuing Education, the School for Young Writers and the Books & Beyond Festival. Christina has also acted a guest poetry editor for Takahe, one-act play festival adjudicator and judge of the secondary schools’ Peter Smart Poetry Competition. She very much enjoyed her time as Writer in Residence at Hagley College in 2006. At present, she teaches Modern Drama and Creative Writing at the University of Canterbury. She has been a tutor and supervisor at the Hagley Writers’ Institute since 2009.