TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building-one man is still trying to find the answer to life's persistent questions--Guy Noir, Private Eye.
GK: It was April in New York and suddenly one day it was spring. It came on Wednesday with a big whoosh. I'd just finished up a job, checking on a student at NYU whose parents were worried --no phone calls, no letters -- and of course it turned out to be nothing. She had had a sex change operation and become a man and men don't write or call. As everyone knows. So I was going to head back home, but then spring came and I took a walk in the park and smelled the grass and I cancelled all other plans and I got myself employment through New York Surrogate Inc.
SS (NYER): What we do, Mr. Noyer, is stand on line for people. New Yorkers are busy people. They have better things to do than wait around. So we do it for them.
GK: Okay. And it pays by the hour?
SS (NYER): Yes, and there's a bonus for weasling your way up in line.
GK: Okay. Where do I go?
SS (NYER): This morning we have you waiting at the Post Office to send a package-and then you'll be waiting at a doctor's office. A gynecologist.
GK: Okay. So maybe I don't want to weasel up ahead in line.
SS: Probably not. And then you'll be working some restaurants down in Soho. When one of our clients walks in and the hostess says "it'll be 45 minutes to an hour for a table"-
GK: I get into line.
SS (NYER): Exactly. Think you can do it?
GK: Stand in line?
SS (NYER): We say stand on line.
GK: On line.
SS (NYER): "in line" makes no sense. You can't stand "in" people.
GK: I'd rather not stand "on" them, either.
SS (NYER): Whatever. Think you can do it?
GK: I think it's the thing I was cut out for all along. (BRIDGE) And I did pretty well at it. I stood in line for Al Gore at a show.
TR (GORE): Ordinarily I would do this myself but I'd rather not have people see me going in to see The Little Mermaid. I feel, however, that it has much to tell us about the ocean and about the process of adapting to change.
GK: I stood in line for Henry Kissinger at a bakery in the village.
TR (KISSINGER): I would like six of the vanilla with chocolate frosting and six of the pumpkin with cream cheese.
GK: And Tom Brokaw -- I waited in line for him at the library, to get a good seat in the reference room.
TR (BROKAW): I'm writing a book about the mid-14th Century called An Even Greater Generation.
GK: Better than the World War II generation.
TR (BROKAW): Well, that was a really terrific generation but the mid=14th generation was the one that had to deal with the plague. The Black Death. Plus you had your Mongol Horde. And the Hundred Years War.
GK: Okay, but a lot of old-timers are going to be disappointed that their generation lost out.
TR (BROKAW): How about I call it Another Greatest Generation? Or Co-Greatest Generation?
GK: I don't know. I'm only a surrogate, sir. I can't advise you on that. (BRIDGE) The next day I was standing on line at an audition for an actress by the name of Ashley Monica Mason-
FN (ROBOT, ON PHONE): I like, really want this role, but like, I really really cannot miss my pedicure appointment, so if you could hold my place in line, that would be like so totally awesome.
GK: Hold your place on line, you mean.
FN (ROBOT, ON PHONE): Did I say something wrong?
GK: I'll be right here. Don't worry about a thing.
GK: So there I was sitting in a rehearsal space over on Tenth Avenue with hundreds of beautiful young actresses, in a line that stretched all the way down six flights of stairs and out the door and around the block, all talking about their new raw food diet and while I was waiting in that line while I was also on hold on the phone for another client FN (ROBOT, ON PHONE): Thank you for calling Turbulent Airlines Baggage Deparment. For lost luggage, press one. (BEEP) You have pressed one for Lost Luggage. If you want it back, press two now. (BEEP) We are experiencing heavy call volume. Please hang up and call back later.
GK: I'm not going to hang up.
FN (ROBOT, ON PHONE): Please hang up. Your business is unimportant to us and your baggage is gone forever. Face facts. Hang up now.
GK: I'm staying right here.
FN (ROBOT, ON PHONE): If you would like to speak to an agent, press 1213457810512890056. (BEEPS) If you would like that agent to speak back to you, dream on. And here's some music to dream by.
GK: And then they started playing background music, designed to make you want to hang up-(TERRIBLE MUZAK)
NM: Excuse me? Would you mind turning that music off? It's really interfering with my energy field.
GK: Sorry but I'm on hold.
NM: I realize that but if I have to listen to it for even thirty more seconds I am liable to go into an anger spiral and go into blind rage and start breaking furniture and do things I won't be able to remember ten minutes from now when the police arrive.
GK: Okay. Okay. (MUSAK OFF) Sorry to upset you.
NM: No problem. --Does my hair look okay?
GK: It looks fine.
NM: I'm just so nervous. This is my first real audition in three months- I don't want to screw it up.
GK: You look great.
NM: You don't think my hair is too blonde?
GK: You look fabulous.
NM: You're saying that in order to lull me into a sense of false security so I'll go in there and fall on my face and you'll walk away with the part.
GK : I'm just here for a friend, holding her place. What is this audition for, anyway?
NM: It's a new musical called "Stop For Death"
GK: Interesting title.
NM: It's based on Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death" --
GK: I see.
NM: And I'm trying out for the role of Emily Dickinson.
NM: How's my breath? (EXHALES)
GK: Minty. As I recall, "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" is a poem. A short poem.
NM: Yeah but they fleshed it out and made it into a musical. Four acts and an intermission and there's going to be a huge field of grain plus a carriage pulled by horses-and she has a big romance with Henry David Thoreau, whoever he is, and there's a big opening number-- (SHE SINGS)
Thoreau row row your boat
Over Walden Pond
Do you notice me at all
And see that I am blonde?
GK: Very nice.
NM: You think so?
GK: You're going to be great.
NM: You're saying that so I'll feel all warm and happy and I'll walk in there and maybe not notice that there's something hanging out of my nose and I'll say, "Is this the audition?" and they'll say, "No, it's snot." Right?
GK: Listen. I'm not an actor. I'm Guy Noir I'm a Private Investigator.
NM: Wow, private investigator-That is so retro--
GK: Yeah. I guess so. I was retro back before it was cool. I was retro back when retro was off in the future.
SS (NASAL): Ashley Monica Mason?
GK: Oh no--that's my client--
SS (NASAL): Ashley Monica Mason?
GK: Yes, right here.
SS (NASAL): You're Ashley Monica Mason?
GK: Well actually I was just holding her place in line--
SS (NASAL): So she's not here?
GK: She'll be here any minute--
SS (NASAL): Are you her stand-in, sir?
GK: Yes, I am.
SS (NASAL): Okay you'll have to audition for her then , otherwise she'll have to go to the end of the line, and the end of the line is down by the Staten Island Ferry.
GK: And so I took that long walk (FOOTSTEPS) down the hall and through the door and onto the bare stage with the piano and the rehearsal pianist (RD: Hi, I'm Bob.) to audition for "Stop for Death" in front of the famous Broadway producers Jules and Joan Stein.
TR (RICH): Headshot please--
GK: I don't have one.
TR (RICH): Oh my gosh. What have we here?
SS (NASAL): A man auditioning for the role of Emily Dickinson.
TR (RICH): I like it.
SS (NASAL): I love it.
TR (RICH): Why didn't we think of it?
GK: Look, I'm only here--
SS (NASAL): Gender-blind casting.
TR (RICH): Why not?
SS (NASAL): If Cate Blanchett could play Bob Dylan...
TR (RICH): I love it. So what have you prepared, Mr.--
GK: Noir. Guy Noir--
TR (RICH): Yes, please. Let us have it.
GK: Actually I haven't prepared anything-
SS (NASAL): That is perfect!
TR (RICH): I love the casualness of it -- the (FRENCH)--
SS (NASAL): There's an anti-heroness there.
TR (RICH): Absolutely. There's a sense of presence...a thereness--
SS (NASAL): Oh, this is good. This is fresh. I think we really have something here.
TR (RICH): Your name again, sir?
GK: Guy Noir.
TR (RICH): We'll call you. Thanks for coming in. Next!!! (DOOR OPENS, CLOSES, BRIDGE)
GK: I left feeling pretty good about myself. I had sort of forgotten about Ashley Monica Mason. That was me in there. That was me they were interested in. I was thinking maybe New York was about to open its arms and bestow some amazing gift on me. And meanwhile I had reached the baggage people at Turbulent Air.
TR (INDIAN, ON PHONE): Hello this is the Lost Baggage department, this is Ravi--Hello hello-- I am so sorry you were on hold for so long. I feel great shame for not answering with quickness--
GK: It's okay, actually. While I was waiting I took an audition.
TR (INDIAN, ON PHONE): I am very sorry for the loss of your luggage. I can only imagine the terrible grief as you realize that you will never see your luggage again. It is gone forever. On the other hand, this loss may help you to become less attached to material things and to achieve a higher spiritual plane--..(CLICKS) and we can help you...
GK: Excuse me, Ravi-- I have another call. Hold on. (CLICK) Hello?
SS (NASAL, ON PHONE): Mr. Noir? This is Joan Stein the producer of "Stop For Death"--
SS (NASAL, ON PHONE): We were just so blown away by you that we'd like to bring you in for a callback.
GK: A callback? When?
SS (NASAL, ON PHONE) : Right now, Mr. Noir. How soon can you get here?
GK: How about half an hour?
SS (ON PHONE): Great. And hurry. Please. We're so excited.
GK: So I went to a hairstylist --
FN: I am seeing it as a sort of wild minimalist look. We're going to just work within the parameters and do something that is totally unexpected. Let's start by teasing those eyebrows up to give you a look of surprise...(HAIR DRYER)
GK: And an hour later I was back in the rehearsal studio with Jules and Joan-and also the blonde who'd been standing next to me in line.
NM: Oh. You made it, too.
GK: Kind of surprising, huh?
NM: They're really thinking of casting a guy as Emily Dickinson?
GK: Well, I think that she was one of those writers who really transcended gender.
NM: Oh just shut up. That is just weird.
GK: Sorry, it wasn't my decision.
NM: Suddenly I just lost all of my faith in the future of the American theater. It's a freak show, that's all it is. Just be as weird as possible. I give up. I'm going back to school and take up mechanical engineering. Become a C.P.A. I am done with this. I mean it. That's it.
GK: Don't say that--
NM: Don't talk to me. Okay? And don't look at me. Go over there.
NM: Way over there. (FOOTSTEPS) (BRIDGE)
TR (RICH): So it's just down to the two of you, and we couldn't decide, so we brought you both back to audition again.
SS (NASAL): Why don't you go first, Rhonda?
NM: Okay. This is a song from Act II of "Stop For Death" -- hit it, Bob. (PIANO)
NM: (SHE SINGS) (TO "EVERYTHING'S COMING UP ROSES")
I stay home. Every night.
I go around dressed in white!
I write poems -- secretly--
And tonight I will get out of Amherst!
Bring my horse!! Bring a mask--
I'm not going to tell so don't ask--
I am thrilled -- goodness me--
I am going to meet Henry at Walden.
TR (RICH): That is beautiful. Just great, Rhonda. It was domineering and yet tender.
SS (NASAL): How about you, Mr. Noir? What do you have?
GK: This is also from Act II-- (PIANO, "OKLAHOMA")
That's what I am, you bet, that's me
No rigid sup-erstitious group
It's just U U for Emily D.
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO we're rational
And make a reasonable response
To world affairs, then go downstairs
For tea and cookies and croissants.
SS (NASAL): That was beautiful. It was so right.
TR (RICH): I think it's time that the masculine side of Emily got recognized.
GK: I donno, I really--
NM: You big phonies. You don't know what you're doing. You wouldn't know great acting if you sat on it in the dark. Feh!!!!! You're dumb enough to be twins.
SS (NASAL): Rhonda-- listen--
NM: This is just a joke. I hope you've got your own money invested in this stupid production because you are going to lose it. Take my word for it. You two are going to be producing corporate shows after this turkey flops-- you're going to be directing shows in which people are dressed up as avocados and walnuts.
TR (RICH): Rhonda, listen to me--
TR (RICH): Because we loved you-- there's an anger inside you that is so beautiful--
SS (NASAL): And we're casting you as Lady MacBeth in our new production of "MacBeth: The Musical" --
TR (RICH): It opens in September.
NM: Oh wow. Yes! Yes! MacBeth! I'll do it! (SINGS)
My hands are bloody
I wish they were clean
But more than that
I want to be Queen
Won't you murder Duncan
And do it tonight --
I love you
I am your wife
But I'm ambitious
And here's the knife
Please make sure that you do it right
GK: I'm really happy for you.
NM: Oh shut up. I don't care. I'm going to be Lady MacBeth-- yes!!!!!! And you-- you're going to become a joke. The male Emily Dickinson. You're going to close after one performance, pal, and when the reviews come out, you're going to change your name to Guy Wire. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. (OFF) Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. (BRIDGE)
GK: She knew what she was talking about. That night, I got a message from the producers.
SS (ON PHONE, NASAL): Mr. Noir, it's Joan Stein. Listen. The script of "Stop For Death" needs rewriting so I think the June opening is premature. We're thinking of opening in August instead and instead of New York, we're talking about New Mexico. A workshop production. We'll be in touch. Thanks again. And can I be honest for a moment? You were great. I really mean it.
TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building, one man is trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, private eye.