Price of Admission by Christina Hamlett


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This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


CAST OF CHARACTERS

CASSIDY WESTFIELD - a high school senior
CLAIRE WESTFIELD - Cassidy's mom
BLANCA - the Westfields' middle-aged housekeeper
CONNOR HAYES - Cassidy's boyfriend
DULCE HERNANDEZ - a high school senior
MARU HERNANDEZ - Dulce's mother
ESTELA GARCIA - a middle aged customer and friend of Maru
MRS. WOO - an Asian grandmother
ANTHONY WOO - a high school senior and Mrs. Woo's grandson
VANESSA DRAKE - mother of one of Cassidy's classmates
CARLTON HAGUE - a college admissions director
ALLISON DEVERAUX - an FBI agent
BEN OSBORNE - an FBI agent
SABINA DRAKE - a high school senior

CIRCA AND SETTING: Present-day Los Angeles

SET DESIGN: All action transpires on a single set with three distinct
staging areas, the largest being the living room in the center. Each
space is illuminated only when a scene is taking place; the rest of
the stage is in darkness.

Stage right is the office of the college admissions director and
should be set farther downstage to distinguish it. Door stage right.
Its upstage wall features framed awards and certificates. There is a
desk, desk chair and two visitor chairs.

Stage left is a small taqueria; it, too, is set farther downstage. Its
upstage wall contains a festive menu board. There is a counter with
two colorful bar stools and a cash register.

The main playing space in the center is the upscale living room of a
home in Los Angeles. It contains a love seat, coffee table, wing
chairs and an upstage credenza with a large arrangement of flowers in
front of a floor-to-ceiling window that looks out on blue skies and
palm trees. On either side of the window are arched open doorways.
Expensive art adorns the walls.

AT RISE:

CASSIDY and her mother CLAIRE enter, laughing, from the upstage right
doorway. They both wear oversized dark glasses and each carries
multiple shopping bags from designer boutiques. Both are trim, tan and
fashionistas. Exhausted, they plop their bags on the floor and plop
themselves onto the furniture as they remove their dark glasses.

CLAIRE
Was there any shop we missed? I swear Rodeo Drive will have to
completely restock!

CASSIDY
You're the bestest, bestest mom ever!

CLAIRE
Oh Cassidy honey. You're not just saying that because I bought you
three more pairs of Jimmy Choos?

CASSIDY
Well duh. It's not like I didn't really, really need them.

Claire reaches into the nearest bag and pulls out a designer shoe.

CLAIRE
Ulterior motive actually. We do wear the same size. I can wear these
to the Langhams' party next weekend.

Cassidy goes to playfully grab it back as BLANCA, the housekeeper,
enters from the upstage right doorway.

BLANCA
Excuse me, Senorita Westfield. Your young man has been waiting in the
kitchen.

CASSIDY
Oh cripes! Was that today?

CLAIRE
(amused)
Leave it to a growing boy to always hang out where the food is.
CASSIDY
(to Blanca)
Well, don't just stand there like a cow in the headlights. Tell him to
come on in.

Blanca exits.

CLAIRE
Why do you always have to be so mean to Blanca? She's been with us
almost all your life.

CASSIDY
(rolls her eyes)
She's just the help, Mom. Why do you always have to go on about it?

CLAIRE
She's practically family, darling.

CASSIDY
Then how come you never take her shopping?

Before Claire can answer, CONNOR enters. He's straight from Central
Casting as a blond, buff athlete whose usual accessory is probably a
surfboard.

CONNOR
Hey, Cass. Hey, Mrs. Westfield.

Cassidy bounces up to give him a hug.

CLAIRE
Connor, dear. I hope that housekeeper of ours didn't leave you to
starve.

CONNOR
Uh—not at all. Thanks.
(to Cassidy)
Did you forget or what?

CASSIDY
Of course not, silly. It's just that something came up.

He glances at the shopping bags.

CONNOR
(with a smirk)
Yeah, let me guess.

CLAIRE
(pats the love seat)
Come sit, Connor. I want to hear all about what you've been doing.

CONNOR
Nothing much really. Just—

CLAIRE
Cassidy told us all about your getting a little scholarship.

CASSIDY
A full scholarship, Mom. They'll be paying for everything.

CLAIRE
I bet you can't wait to get there and play football every day!

CONNOR
Not exactly every day, Mrs. Westfield. I'll have to be in classes,
too.

CLAIRE
Oh pfffft! What difference does it make? Once you turn pro and start
piling on all those luscious endorsements, you'll never have to work a
day in your life.

CASSIDY
Connor's hoping to go into sports medicine after graduation.

CLAIRE
Yes, well I suppose that's nice, too.

CONNOR
It'll only happen, though, if I can keep up my grades. If I drop below
a 2.3 GPA, I'll get kicked out.

CLAIRE
Oh, sweetie, what a gullible boy you are.

CONNOR
'Scuse me?

CLAIRE
It's just numbers, and numbers can be fixed any way we want. Take
Cassidy's father, for instance.
(shakes her head)
He was a total dunce when I first met him but he had the brawn to get
into a school that was sheer legend for its football team. Well, his
coach knew the best chance they had with another turn at championships
was to keep Dwight playing.
(laughs)
I don't think I have to tell you how that worked out.

CONNOR
(a bit aghast)
He cheated on his tests?

CLAIRE
Of course not! He didn't even take tests, not when he could pay
someone else to take them for him and score brilliantly.

Blanca enters from upstage with a tray containing a pitcher of
lemonade and glasses. She moves to put it on the coffee table and pour
them beverages.

CONNOR
Respectfully, Mrs. Westfield, that still sounds like—

CLAIRE
Like what? There's no harm in pulling a few strings or even weaving
them into an entire tapestry.
(indicates living room)
Does it honestly look like anyone got harmed in the making of this
lifestyle?

CASSIDY
(laughing, to Connor)
Don't answer that or you'll be stuck here all day. Want to go
swimming?

CONNOR
Um—okay, sure. Oh hey, before I forget, have you gotten your SATs
yet?

CASSIDY
Huh?

CONNOR
Shouldn't they have come by now? Trish and Danny got theirs last
Friday.

CASSIDY
I don't know. Mom, have my SATs come yet?

CLAIRE
I'll have to check with Blanca, sweetie. She's the one who brings in
the mail.

Noticing Blanca as if for the first time.

CLAIRE
Speaking of whom—

BLANCA
Si, Senora?

CLAIRE
Have you seen an envelope from the College Board?

BLANCA
The mail has not yet arrived today, Senora.

CLAIRE
Well, keep your eyes peeled. It's very, very important. Comprende?

BLANCA
Si, Senora.

CONNOR
(to Cassidy)
Nervous?

CLAIRE
Why should she be nervous? I have the most brilliant daughter on the
planet. Her test scores are going to fly off the charts.

CASSIDY
Oh, Mom. You're just biased.

CLAIRE
Absolutely. It's a mother's right to brag.

Cassidy snaps her fingers at Blanca and points at the tray.

CASSIDY
Blanca! Bring the lemonade.

As Cassidy and Connor exit through the upstage left doorway, Blanca
picks up the tray. Claire's cell phone rings.

CLAIRE
Hello?

Her demeanor changes. Glancing over her shoulder, she moves downstage.
Her voice drops as she speaks confidentially.

CLAIRE
In the first place, I've asked you not to call. We have a professional
arrangement and there is no need whatsoever for you to remind me of
it. And in the second place—no, do not interrupt me. In the second
place, you'll have the balance in your account when I see the test
scores, and not a moment before. Is that clear? Good. I'll expect them
to be to my highest satisfaction. This is, after all, my daughter's
future we're talking about ...

Blanca exits through the upstage left door but we know she has heard
every word of the one-sided conversation.

The lights go down on the living room.

SFX: Lively Mexican music which fades as the conversation gets
underway.

The lights come up downstage left. MARU is at the cash register as
daughter DULCE sets a large plastic bag on the counter. Their
customer, ESTELA, has parked herself on one of the stools as she
awaits her order.

DULCE
(reading off a list)
That's ten tamales, ten soft chicken tacos, a double order of rice and
a double order of frijoles. Have I missed anything?

Estela laughs, shakes her head and opens her purse to pay.

MARU
Ten and ten? Your boys are hungrier than usual, amiga!

ESTELA
Not for the familia this time, Maru. Carlos—my youngest? It is his
first day on a new job.

MARU
¡Qué bueno!

DULCE
What will he be doing?

ESTELA
He will be helping to build houses.
(off takeout bags)
Food this good will make him popular with others at the construction
site. He will make more friends than he can bring home!

MARU
But then they'll expect him to bring them lunch every day!

ESTELA
Would that be such a bad thing for you and Dulce? You'll be up to your
ears with so many orders to fill!

DULCE
(curious)
Since when did Carlos ever have to use food as a bribe to friendship,
Senora Garcia? Everyone already likes him for his kindness and his
sense of humor.

ESTELA
Trust me, little one. Since when did anyone ever walk away from your
mama's delicious tamales?

MARU
They are mostly Dulce's tamales now.

DULCE
Mama is an excellent teacher.

MARU
(hugs Dulce)
And my beautiful daughter is a natural in the kitchen.

ESTELA
Such a blessing! What would you ever do without her?

MARU
In a few months, I'm afraid I'll have to figure that out.

ESTELA
What happens in a few months?


DULCE
Now, Mama, we don't know for sure—

MARU
(proudly)
Dulce has applied to several universities out of state. We're waiting
to hear back any day now.

ESTELA
Carlos is taking night classes at the community college. Maybe you
could do something like that and still live at home.

MARU
My little bird has to leave the nest someday, Estela. As long as she
is happy in her studies, I will find a way to manage.

ESTELA
Then my fingers will be crossed for both of you.

She picks up the bag and, waving goodbye, exits stage left.

DULCE
You know, Mama, it's okay with me if I don't get in. I really love
working here with you and if they decide I'm just not—

MARU
What sort of loco talk is this? You have loved school from your very
first day. Do you remember when we went on the bus and you felt so
grown up that you didn't want me to walk you to the classroom?

DULCE
(laughs)
I was only pretending I felt grown up. Deep down I was terrified.

MARU
And yet the second day you couldn't wait to go back! Do you remember
how you even wanted to go on Saturday and I had to tell you that no
one would be there again until Monday?
(beat)
I think you will like your time at university just as much.

DULCE
But if I get the school I really want, it's clear across the country.
We can't ride the bus together on my first day.


MARU
(smiles)
I am the boss of me. I can always take a few days off.

They laugh and hug as the lights go down stage left.

[End of Extract]


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