DON'T VOTE! by Sylvia Schwartz
Produced by Primary Stages in NYC for their 2018 Detention Series of short plays.
SETTING: TV Studio. CANDIDATE, who soon will be speaking before camera, is having make-up put on by TERRY, while ALEX, the producer, is making sure the CANDIDATE is ready to tape a segment for their "Get Out the Vote" promotion.
CANDIDATE - professional (40s); arrogant and assured
TERRY - make-up person (20s)
ALEX - producer (30s)
SCENE: Opens with CANDIDATE seated on a stool center stage facing the audience wearing a white bib to protect clothes from make-up being applied. TERRY is stage right applying powder to the candidate's forehead. ALEX is stage left holding a clipboard.
ALEX (to the candidate)
Can we have a voice test now?
CANDIDATE (clears throat; speaks softly)
No point. No point.
ALEX (nods head as if listening via an ear piece regarding the sound quality)
Again, please, a little louder.
CANDIDATE (louder this time)
There is no point in voting. No point.
That's funny. Okay. As a reminder, you have just two minutes of air time for your "Get out the Vote" message that we'll air today before the polls close.
ACTION: TERRY removes the cloth around the CANDIDATE's neck and steps aside, while remaining on stage. ALEX steps aside while also remaining on stage.
CANDIDATE (to the camera/audience)
I want the American Public to know that you will hear a lot of candidates talking about how important is for you to come out and vote today. I'm here to tell you that it's not. I, and my party, do not need your vote. In fact, we would prefer that you stay home, watch TV, text your friends, go out drinking...
Cut! What are you doing?
Yes, yes, you're quite right. Advocating drinking should not be part of my message. Let me begin again.
I want the American Public to know that you need not vote. The simple truth is your individual vote does not matter.
Cut! Cut! This Public Service Announcement is to encourage people to vote.
No one said anything about censoring my message. Did you censor the last candidate's
message? No, I'm sure you didn't. And that's because he or she agreed with your point of view, am I not right? Well, I'm here to tell the American Public that those 40% who stay home and don't vote have got it right. Their voices do not matter.
Why would you say that?
Now, you are Terry Robins, aren't you?
How did you know?
I was briefed as to who was going to be here and you did not vote in the last election, so I happy to say that I don't have to convince you.
Terry, you didn't vote?
TERRY (to Alex)
Hey, that's private. How could you know that?
It's public record. Anyone who wants to know whether someone has voted can easily find out. Alex here, for example, did vote last year, but not the year before. So maybe I can convince Alex to join you in not voting today.
I was out of the country. But that's beside the point, this is a PSA for voting. We can't air a piece on not voting.
I think your station has an obligation to present opposing points of view. Besides, is anyone harmed by staying home and not voting? No, they are not. In fact, I dare say, those individuals are happier than those who vote. Those who don't vote, don't
suffer anxiety over whether their candidate wins or loses the election. Furthermore, they don't seem upset in the least that their voice doesn't matter. Otherwise, why would so many of them not vote? They're doing me a big favor by staying home, and I'm here to tell them that's okay by me.
How can your party allow you to say this? Every candidate needs votes to win. What you're promoting doesn't make any sense.
But you're wrong! My party has already tested the polls and determined that the fewer people who vote, the better I will do!
You know what I love about this country? Year after year fewer and fewer people are allowed to vote. Did you know that the number of convicted felons is around 6
million people. Isn't that glorious! That's 6 million people who I don't have to worry about! What's more, I say bring on the legalization of marijuana.
Hey, that sounds good!
No, Terry, wait a minute.
Most people, you see, don't realize that it's a felony to possess over a certain amount of that drug despite marijuana being legal.
What? I didn't know that.
Yes, my friends, more felons mean fewer voters! And fewer voters mean fewer people in my way! Getting elected is becoming easier and easier for politicians like me. Now, come on, let's get those cameras rolling before the polls close!
ALEX and TERRY walk away in disgust.
Hey, come back! Where are you two going?
ALEX & TERRY (in unison)