Beautiful Province

Beautiful Province

CLARENCE COO
Foreword by John Guare
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 136
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vm7c1
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  • Book Info
    Beautiful Province
    Book Description:

    A fifteen-year-old boy decides to accompany his severely depressed high school French teacher on a road trip to the Canadian province of Quebec, where the mother tongue of Voltaire and Balzac is still spoken and cherished. Clarence Coo's mesmerizing new play is a delicious amalgam of farce and tragedy, a carnival funhouse with very dark corners. Wildly inventive and heartbreakingly sad, the strange odyssey of Jimmy and the unpredictable Mr. Green takes many surprising turns, crossing the border from reality into unreality and back again while encountering displaced characters from history, literature, and the mundane, often dangerous world.

    Selected by Tony Award-winning playwright John Guare (House of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees of Separation,and others) from over 1,000 submissions from 29 countries, Clarence Coo'sBeautiful Provinceis the sixth winner of the DC Horn Foundation/Yale Drama Series Prize. In his foreword, Guare calls Coo's work "elusive and haunting . . . funny, desperate, insane," praising it for "its intriguing story [and] its tone, sustained to the very end." Lyrical and adventurous,Beautiful Provinceis an outstanding new theatrical work, well deserving of these accolades and more.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-19892-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-2)
    John Guare

    The voice.

    Without making it sound too much likeAmerican Idol(which I confess to never having seen), the Horn Foundation/Yale Drama Series Prize for a new play by an unrecognized playwright in the English-speaking world is all about finding the voice.

    Last year’s contest received close to nine hundred entries. I as sole judge could not do this alone. But as Edward Albee and David Hare each did in their two-year stints before mine as judge, I assembled a team of readers whose tastes differed from mine and whom I trusted implicitly.

    We split the Everest of submissions among...

  4. Cast of Characters
    (pp. 3-4)
  5. Act One
    • Scene 1 Mr. Green’s Farewell to His Class
      (pp. 7-11)

      Mr. green, a 54-year-old high school French teacher in rumpled clothes, addresses his class. He stands next to a wastebasket, holding a stack of papers.

      He reads a name off each paper, then drops the sheet into the wastebasket.

      MR. GREEN For Edouard—or should I say Ed?—Disappointing.

      For Christophe—or should I say Topher?—Deficient.

      For Madeleine—or should I say Mei Ling?—Dreadful.

      “D.” “D.” “D.” The results of your exam? Definitely deplorable.

      Four weeks we spend on two verbs. The result? Disaster!

      Two verbs! Granted, they are irregular. But that’s no excuse, for these forms—

      Do....

    • Scene 2 Jimmy and Nate Clean the Classroom
      (pp. 12-21)

      Later that day. jimmy, a 15-year-old boy, andnate, another 15-year-old, collect the scattered test papers off the floor and deposit them into the wastebasket. nateis self-assured. jimmyis not.

      NATE

      (Offering a test paper tojimmy.)

      Here’s yours.

      Jimmytries to reach for his test, butnatepulls it away.

      An “A.” Of course. You really liked him.

      JIMMY Give it to me.

      Natedoes.

      Jimmyfolds the test paper neatly and places it in his pocket.

      I wonder if he’ll be okay.

      NATE Mr. Green? Don’t worry. He’ll be in a better place.

      JIMMY I hope that...

    • Scene 3 Mr. Green Dreams of the Paris Airport
      (pp. 22-27)

      Mr. greenis going through passport control at the airport in Paris. He is excited to be here.

      A passportofficergreets him.

      Mr. greenand theofficerspeak in the clear, stilted style of a foreign-language learning tape.

      OFFICER Good day, sir. Do you speak French?

      MR. GREEN Yes, I speak French.

      OFFICER Good. I speak French, too.

      MR. GREEN Good! Good day, sir.

      OFFICER Good day.

      MR. GREEN How are you?

      OFFICER I am fine. How are you?

      MR. GREEN I am fine.

      OFFICER Good.

      MR. GREEN Good!

      OFFICER Welcome to Charles de Gaulle Airport! Welcome to Paris....

    • Scene 4 Jimmy Discovers He’s Not the Last of the Mohicans
      (pp. 28-31)

      Again, we hear the sound of a door opening.

      Again, we hear the sound of a gunshot.

      Jimmyis in the classroom. He seesmr. greenin pain, covering a hand.

      Jimmygasps and freezes.

      But then the classroom transforms into a forest. Tribal drum music plays.

      Andjimmyandmr. greenbegin to speak in the style of Hollywood Indians.

      MR. GREEN Who comes here?

      JIMMY It is I, a lone hunter.

      MR. GREEN Hail, stranger! You have entered my hunting ground.

      JIMMY I ask your pardon. I follow the trail of the elk.

      MR. GREEN The elk goes...

    • Scene 5 Jimmy and Mr. Green Go for a Drive
      (pp. 32-41)

      Jimmyandmr. greenare in a car. mr. greenis driving. jimmyis in the passenger seat, asleep. Thenjimmywakes up. It’s awkward for both of them.

      MR. GREEN Hi.

      JIMMY Hey.

      (Referring tomr. green’s injured hand.)

      Are you okay to be—

      MR. GREEN To be what?

      JIMMY You know.

      MR. GREEN I’m fine.

      JIMMY Your hand?

      MR. GREEN It’s fine.

      JIMMY I hope you’re feeling better.

      MR. GREEN I am. Go back to sleep.

      JIMMY I’m not tired anymore.

      (Pause. He starts to sing.)

      Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques, Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?

      MR. GREEN No French.

      JIMMY You...

    • Scene 6 Jimmy Attends the Steed
      (pp. 42-44)

      Jimmywaits in front of the car, alone.

      An eighteenth-century furtraderapproaches. He speaks with stoic fortitude.

      TRADER Greetings.

      JIMMY Greetings.

      Pause. jimmydoesn’t want to talk.

      TRADER Are you from here?

      JIMMY No.

      Pause.

      TRADER I had presumed you were.

      JIMMY I am not.

      TRADER From where do you hail?

      JIMMY I come from the land of the Iroquois and have followed a trail through many shades of forest. I have stopped here this evening to rest.

      TRADER Oh! Then welcome to this country where the salmon are plenty and the canoes flow gently. I am a trader...

    • Scene 7 Mr. Green Dreams of Finding a Sidewalk Café
      (pp. 45-51)

      Mr. greenis dreaming again. He’s strolling. Awaiterapproaches him. They speak in the register of a higher-level language tape.

      WAITER A table for one, sir?

      MR. GREEN A table?

      WAITER Are you dining with us?

      MR. GREEN May I?

      WAITER Of course!

      MR. GREEN Now that you mention it, I’m quite hungry.

      WAITER Paris is famous for its wide boulevards. Along the boulevards are many sidewalk cafés.

      Mr. greenrealizes he’s at a café.

      MR. GREEN And such a charming sidewalk café this is!

      WAITER At a sidewalk café, you can drink coffee, order a light meal, or...

    • Scene 8 A Hotel Room at Niagara Falls
      (pp. 52-58)

      A hotel room. jimmyis lying on a bed.

      Mr. greenis standing over him, carrying a paper bag.

      MR. GREEN I’m back.

      Jimmywakes up.

      JIMMY Sorry, I didn’t know you’d left.

      MR. GREEN I nabbed us some nourishment for the evening.

      JIMMY Thanks. But I thought we were going out for dinner.

      MR. GREEN No, no! Let’s stay in. We’ve had such a long day. You must be exhausted.

      JIMMY I just took a nap. I got my energy back. If you want to go out.

      MR. GREEN It’s freezing.

      JIMMY It’s not that cold.

      MR. GREEN After...

    • Scene 9 Jimmy and Nate at the Creek
      (pp. 59-64)

      Jimmyis no longer sitting on the edge of a bed but on the bank of a creek. He is having a memory.

      Nateapproaches him.

      NATE Hey Jimmy.

      JIMMY Hey Nate. You’re late.

      NATE I know. I guess I took my time. You really like this place don’t you?

      JIMMY What’s wrong with it?

      NATE Nothing. Just a weird place to study.

      JIMMY What’s weird about it?

      NATE The creek behind the school?

      JIMMY I like the sound of the water. And the trees.

      NATE That’s what makes you interesting I guess.

      JIMMY What does?

      NATE Nothing. Thanks for...

    • Scene 10 Driving through Canada, Part I
      (pp. 65-70)

      Mr. greenandjimmyare in the car.

      Jimmyis driving.

      Mr. greenis in the passenger seat, holding a fork tojimmy’s mouth.

      JIMMY I’m sick of pineapple.

      Mr. greenputs the fork away.

      MR. GREEN You told me you love pineapple.

      JIMMY I do. But I can’t eat it all the time.

      MR. GREEN You love pineapple. That’s what you said. You adore it. You revere it. You venerate it.

      JIMMY I didn’t say that.

      MR. GREEN I paraphrase.

      JIMMY I said I’d love some pineapple. When you asked me what I wanted.

      MR. GREEN You said it...

  6. Act Two
    • Scene 10 Driving through Canada, Part II
      (pp. 73-77)

      Jimmyis driving the car. mr. greenis reading the Quebec guidebook. A continuation of the last scene.

      MR. GREEN What do you want to do once we’re there?

      JIMMY I don’t know. I don’t know much about it.

      MR. GREEN Let me take a look.

      (Flipping through the book.)

      “After Ontario, Quebec is the second-most populous province in Canada.” “In land area, Quebec covers three times the size of France.” Interesting. “Quebec offers a compelling blend of Old World charm and North American modernity.” “Quebec’s Hudson Bay was explored by Henry Hudson, the same man who explored New York’s...

    • Scene 11 Jimmy Takes a Glance through the Guidebook
      (pp. 78-78)

      A hotel room. jimmyandmr. greenare lying down in different parts of the room.

      Mr. greenis asleep, snoring, with the guidebook open face down on his chest.

      Jimmycan’t sleep. He sits up. As carefully as possible, he lifts the guidebook up frommr. green’s chest.

      Jimmypages through the book.

      He glances atmr. green.

      He goes back to the guidebook.

      Something in the book catches his eye. Something he doesn’t think he should know but wants to see for himself.

      He looks atmr. green.

      He tries to memorize an address.

      He puts the guidebook...

    • Scene 12 Jimmy Finds the Lost Village of the Mohicans
      (pp. 79-87)

      Jimmyis standing on a dark street. Tribal drum music plays.

      A malestrangerapproaches him.

      STRANGER Greetings, stranger.

      JIMMY Greetings.

      STRANGER But you are no stranger. For you speak our tongue.

      JIMMY I do. I am of the Mohican race. My people once stretched from the banks of the Big River to the shores of the Salty Lake.

      STRANGER And the Salty Lake gave us its fish, the forest gave us its deer, and the air gave us its birds.

      JIMMY And we worshipped the Great Spirit and sang songs of triumph.

      STRANGER Welcome home, brother.

      JIMMY I’ve finally...

    • Scene 13 What Really Happened in the Classroom
      (pp. 88-90)

      Jimmyhas a memory.

      The sound of a door opening.

      The sound of a gunshot.

      Lights up onmr. greenseated in the classroom. His left hand is bleeding.

      Jimmystands above him.

      JIMMY Mr. Green?

      MR. GREEN Look what you made me do!

      JIMMY You’re still at school? What are you doing here?

      MR. GREEN What are you doing here?

      JIMMY I left something behind.

      (Pointing to the wastebasket.)

      When I was cleaning up. What happened?

      (Pause.)

      You’re bleeding.

      MR. GREEN Just a bit.

      JIMMY You’re bleeding a lot.

      MR. GREEN Thanks to you, I fucking missed!

      JIMMY You...

    • Scene 14 Jimmy Imagines He’s Fluent in French
      (pp. 91-103)

      Mr. greenhas pulled the car over. jimmysnaps out of a daze.

      JIMMYNous parlons français. [Let’s speak French.]

      MR. GREEN

      (To himself.)

      Fuck.

      JIMMY Mr. Green?

      MR. GREEN

      (To himself.)

      I just fucking shot someone. I just fucking killed a man.

      In the middle of the street, I—

      And, I’m fucking driving his—

      Oh my god.

      And next to me, there’s—

      JIMMYNous parlons français. [Let’s speak French.]

      MR. GREENNous parlons français?[Let’s speak French?]

      JIMMYOui. [Yes.]

      MR. GREENOui?[Yes?]

      JIMMYJ’aime parler français. [I like speaking French.]

      MR. GREENMoi, j’aime parler français. [Me,...

    • Scene 15 The End of the Road
      (pp. 104-111)

      In the car withmr. greenandjimmy.It’s dark out. A light snow falls.

      Mr. greenis in the driver’s seat, sitting motionless.

      Jimmyrealizes the car has stopped.

      JIMMY

      (Rubbing his eyes.)

      What happened? It’s snowing.

      MR. GREEN That’s it. We are out of gas.

      JIMMY We’re going to a gas station?

      MR. GREEN We can’t. The car won’t move.

      JIMMY Why not?

      MR. GREEN We are out of gas.

      JIMMY Why didn’t you stop earlier?

      MR. GREEN I couldn’t. Because there hasn’t been a gas station.

      JIMMY So where are we?

      MR. GREEN Look.

      Jimmypeers out...

    • Scene 16 Dawn on Hudson Bay
      (pp. 112-118)

      All is silent. Early morning light reveals the car surrounded by snow and ice straight to infinity.

      Henryhudsonappears, dressed in the garb of an early seventeenth-century European explorer. He is bearded, unkempt, and ancient.

      Hudsonknocks on the car window, wakingjimmy.He speaks with an English accent.

      HUDSON Morning, fellow travelers!

      JIMMY Hello?

      HUDSON Cheerio! And your companion, is he awake, too?

      Mr. greenwakes up.

      MR. GREEN I sure am!

      JIMMY You’re awake!

      MR. GREEN Why wouldn’t I be? It’s morning!

      Jimmylooks around. He is in awe at the beauty of it all.

      JIMMY Where...

    • Scene 17 Jimmy and Nate Discuss Jimmy’s Adventure
      (pp. 119-120)

      Jimmyis at a Dairy Queen, looking up at a menu behind the counter.

      Natewalks by, eating a Blizzard from a paper cup. nateandjimmysee each other.

      NATE Jimmy!

      JIMMY Hey, Nate.

      NATE Buddy, you’re back! That’s great! What are you doing at Dairy Queen? Can I buy you anything?

      JIMMY No thanks. I can take care of myself.

      NATE You know what you want?

      JIMMY Not yet.

      Pause.

      NATE I heard on the news. Like, what the fuck?

      Sorry I haven’t stopped by. Those news vans parked in front of your house. I thought I’d wait...