A Thousand Miles In Eight Days: A Play At Sea In Three Acts. ACT ONE.

Setting: A tall ship (clipper schooner) in the Atlantic Ocean making a voyage from Jacksonville, FL to Boston, MA.

Cast of characters:

Natty (first-season deckhand, main protagonist, sometimes antagonizes out of boredom)

Christian (second-season deckhand, frugal with words, kind with animals, has occasional luck with jokes)

Tobey (deckhand, extremely knowledgeable on knots, splicing, and sailing theory, works at a maritime museum)

Justin (engineer-in-reserve, acting deckhand for the trip, Texas’ saltiest dawg)

Dan (first mate/bosun, saltiest dawg on the ship, a good humored and the most gentle soul in the body of Hulk)

Shaila (badass tall ship sailor, cook, and Natty’s girl crush)

Shep (ship’s engineer, savage musician, owner of wild salty and sandy hair)

Lincoln (first mate, if ever there was a pirate-looking human encyclopedia…)

Noah (ship’s master, game app creator, a purist, as in “sustains himself purely on coffee and wit”)

ACT 1

TALL SHIP SAILING IS FUN, THEY SAID

Opening Scene.

A tall ship in darkness. Moonlight throws light onto a lonely figure at the bow.

NATTY (pensively): Blowing chunks over board is hardly ever a good sign of a deeper level of a relationship. Between me and the sea, it was my rite of passage.

The light slowly fades away, leaving the scene in complete darkness.

 

Scene 1

Tall ship in daytime, gliding along the canal on the way to the open water. Fresh breeze joyfully parries the sounds of seafaring commands echoing around the ship.

DAN (extending a hand with a candy bag in it): Ginger candy?

NATTY: Mom has always told me not to accept candy from strangers.

DAN: I’m hurt, I’m hurt! We have been on this vessel for two days now, and I am a stranger still?

NATTY: What’s my favorite color?

DAN (eyeing the color of her attire up and down): Blue?

NATTY: Fine, you can cross the bridge. But seriously, I don’t get sea sick.

DAN: Hm. Ok. How did the docking go?

NATTY: I threw the line over the board. Go me. Had a little tutorial from Christian on how to fast it on my end.

Christian enters.

NATTY: Speak of the devil.

CHRISTIAN: I’m going to set Ned free. As much as he wants to pretend to be a seal, I don’t think a lizard would fare well at sea.

 

{Chorus, to the audience:

“A lizard took residence in Christian’s bed; 

He thought and he thought what to name the new lad,

A sailor from Nautilus by the first name of Ned

Came to mind and that’s all that this story has had”}

 

NATTY: You’re a poet and don’t even know it.

CHRISTIAN: You’re just jealous because you’re short.

DAN snorts and exits.

CHRISTIAN descends from the ship and walks along the dock to release Ned the Lizard onto the firm ground.

NATTY: I didn’t even get to say good-bye.

{Chorus, to the audience: 

“And so we sail on”}

 

Scene 2.

The tall ship rocks side to side violently. There is a sound of howling wind and breaking waves. All crew on deck.

{Chorus, to the audience, with a thick Scottish accent:

“This is no regular waves! ‘Tis choppy, rough white-crested bassas that gee-in me the boak. The ship? The ship is fine. Happy even, after some months of pandemic-imposed hiatus at the dock.”}

NATTY: Oh no, I’m so unsteady! I think I just grabbed onto something, hopefully not a humanform. LOOK AT THOSE WAVES!!! THIS IS SOOOOOO COOOOOL! Hey guys, do you see those waves? Aren’t they cool? And scary? Are they scary? Should I get scared? Is 4′-5′ normal?

NOAH: If you’re talking about a wave, then yes, but if not, then maybe a doctor?

NATTY: WOOOAAAH, Shailaaa, how do you do that?

SHAILA: Do what?

NATTY: The whole sailing thing, but more imminently, the staying on your feet right now?

SHAILA (to Noah): Permission to throw a crew member overboard, Cap.

Natty stumbles over to Tobey splayed out on top of a locker staring poetically at the sky. 

NATTY: How you doin’, Tobey?

TOBEY (fighting the sickness): Just haven’t sailed in a while, sadly. If you find my sea legs somewhere, let me know, will ya?

NATTY: What they look like?

TOBEY: Like a pair of treacherous bastards that they are.

NATTY: Aye. I’ll keep an eye out, but it might be a bit crowded in that department…

A big drop suddenly brings an onset of sea sickness – a new sensation for Natty. She remembers that she has ginger balls and Dramamine in her bunk and scurries away.

Scene 3.

On deck, Natty stumbles between port and starboard sides with the regularity of an abandoned puppy, occasionally doubling over and spilling the insides into the ocean. The ocean accepts the sacrifice but demands more.

NATTY: Who said staring at the horizon helps? Utter lie! Oh ocean, must you demand more of the contents of my stomach? I got nothing – I gave you the ginger balls and the dramamine and the water I washed it down with. Maybe enough? By the way, these waves, and vastness, and the wind, and the steady gate of the ship – this is indescribably beautiful and awe-inspiring. Argh, do we have to keep the barfing going though?

Noah comes up cautiously as if not to spook a wild animal (or, more realistically, not to get hit by a stray pukelet).

NOAH: How are you feeling?

NATTY: Honestly, been better.

NOAH: It will pass. You’ll get your sea legs. At least you’re still smiling.

NATTY (smiling the widest smile, looks a little scary): It takes all the effort.

NOAH (taken aback): Oh.

Christian enters.

CHRISTIAN (to Natty): Your watch has begun.

NATTY (assessing the intersection between wellness and duty): Alrighty, I’ll go puke at the conn then. I suppose it doesn’t matter where.

CHRISTIAN (cheerfully): I just blew chunks overboard! Feel great now!

NATTY: Yeah, some of us have a deeper bond with the sea, apparently.

 

Scene 4.

Night watch: Lincoln and Natty. Dan hangs out.

Lincoln and Dan eyeing Natty doubled over at the conn.

DAN (to Natty): You know the best cure from sea sickness?

NATTY (hope in the eyes): What?

DAN: Hug a tree.

NATTY (brain hasn’t caught up): In lieu of a tree I could hug a mast, would that help?

Dan smirks.

NATTY (brain has finally caught up): Oh. Right. Thanks?

LINCOLN: Here, take the helm.

NATTY: Who? Me? The pukey new one? You sure this won’t cause the ship to sink immediately?

LINCOLN: Pretty positive. Watch the compass and try to keep the needle on these numbers.

NATTY (grumbling): Fine. (Grabs the helm with the grip of a pumped climber two moves away from the top)

LINCOLN: Relax a bit, and don’t fixate on the compass that much. You can use the horizon as the marker as well.

NATTY (giving a death stare, and with feeling): FUCK the horizon. Do you want me to steer or puke?

{Chorus to the audience:

“When you’re green and sick from motion

Trick of helm will be the cure

Put your brain to blind devotion

And your gut will bite the lure” }

NATTY (to Lincoln): This is working! I am starting to feel a bit human again. Would you please be so kind as to let everyone know that I will bite their eyes out if they even as much as think of taking the helm from me? Thanks chap.

{Chorus, to the audience:

“The three hours of the night watch passed in a daze, and once in her bunk, Natty slipped into a dreamless, welcome, sleep limbo.

And so we sail on.”}

Lights out.

2 thoughts on “A Thousand Miles In Eight Days: A Play At Sea In Three Acts. ACT ONE.

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