Travellers, by Patricia Zimmer

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Brief Summary of Play:

« Travelers » is a short musical for two actors. A 14-year-old boy has come to watch migratory birds with his bird-enthusiast grandfather. In the course of their time together, a text message arrives that leads to the revelation of a disturbing event in the boy’s life.

My die rolls were:

A boy
A slap
12/14 years of age

Music. Images of migrating birds. The two actors watch and sing:
On the wing
On the wing
Birds are flying
On the wing
On the wing
Long journey starts
On the wing
On the wing
Migration beckons
On the wing
On the wing
Brave winged hearts

Birds fade, lights change as actors step immediately into role.

A clearing in the woods. A spring morning.
Claude, 65, holds binoculars. His grandson, Brandt, 14, looks at a cellphone. Calls of migrating geese are heard.
Claude : Beautiful! Beautiful! Rembrandt, come look at the sky!
Brandt : Grandpa, don’t call me that. I go by Brandt.
Claude : I like your whole name!
Brandt : I don’t! Everybody makes fun of me. « The mathematic nerd with the      artsy name. » It’s embarrassing.
Claude : Well, Brandt, then—lift your eyes from that thing and come see!
Brandt : I don’t see why you get all excited over a bunch of geese.
Claude : They’re traveling thousands of miles. Imagine!
Brandt : You really like this stuff. Why?
Claude : Don’t know exactly. Maybe because birds seem so other, so different      from us. Maybe that’s why they captivate me. They have feathers; I      don’t! They have wings to fly; I don’t! They can sing…
Brandt : You can’t! That’s true enough.
Claude : In my defense, I can carry a tune, though I can’t entirely disagree. Look there! See? That’s a rose-breasted grosbeak.
Brandt : Give it a rest, Grandpa.
Claude : (Breaking into sort-of-singing, enjoying his quirky tune)
Robins welcome back!

Hello Cardinal!
Warblers stopping by,

Sing your songs to me.
Sing them brightly

The best that I’ve heard
Calling me to wander forth…

Calling me to see.
Brandt : (drawn in for a moment, enjoying it)

Am I the only kid on earth whose grandpa has gone over the deep   end? I can’t believe I came along for this.
(They share a smile. We hear beautiful birdsong, a mating call.)
Claude : Just listen, Brandt!

It’s spring and avian love is in the air.
Brandt : (a text arrives; he makes a sharp, pained sound) Well, human love isn’t. Unbelievable.
Claude : What do you mean by that?
Brandt : My girlfriend just broke up with me.
Claude : What? Not Kate? When?
Brandt : Just now. In a text.
Claude : Just like that?! I’m so sorry, son. Why?
Brandt : We had a fight. I got pissed off and…slapped her.

(He makes a slap as he says it.)
Claude : What?! You hit her?
Brandt : I told her I was sorry. It was nothing.
Claude (quietly) : It was something. That’s assault, Brandt! You hurt her.
Brandt : She hurt me! I’ll get over it.
Claude : But will she?
Brandt : Why should I even care now? She broke up with me!
Claude : What’s going on with you?! It isn’t like you to strike anyone, let alone someone you care about. I’m worried! That isn’t myRembrandt’s true heart.
Brandt : How would you know?
Claude : I’ve known you your whole life.
Brandt : (Sings)

You don’t know me
Though you think you do.
You think good things
Well, they are not true.
I’m not six now.
Oh, my God, he grew!
Poor old grandpa!

I’m not the me you knew.
So never call me Rembrandt.
Rembrandt isn’t here.
If you really liked him,
You can shed a tear.
Everything is changing
Life upsets the cart
Don’t assume you know me
Know « your Rembrandt’s heart ».

(speaking)      You don’t.
Claude (hurt)If you say so.
(a silence)Brandt       I-I’m sorry, Grandpa.
Claude (gently) : Do you care about this girl?
Brandt : I don’t know. (pause) Yes.
Claude : Then what will Rembrandt do?
Brandt : Grandpa…
Claude : Brandt. What does your better self tell you?
Brandt : To ask her to forgive me.   And accept the break-up.
Claude : Yes….
Brandt : Grandpa?
Claude : Yes, Brandt?
Brandt : I’m sad. And angry. I think…I need help with that.
Claude : That is the Rembrandt I know.
(Claude puts an arm around Brandt. Both look skyward. Lights cross fade from the actors to projections of migrating birds. Actors watch and sing:)
Actors :
On the wing
On the wing
Birds are flying
On the wing
On the wing
Long journey starts
On the wing
On the wing
Migration beckons
On the wing
On the wing
Brave winged hearts

The End

Bonus here!

Artistic career

Patricia Moore Zimmer teaches, writes and directs theatre for young and intergenerational audiences at Eastern Michigan University, where she is a professor in the Applied Drama and Theatre for the Young program. Some of her recent and ongoing professional interests include theatre for very young audiences, professional development for directors, the nature of creativity and new play development in Theatre for Young Audiences. She is an active member of the American Alliance for Theatre and Education as well as TYA/USA (the U.S. Center for ASSITEJ).