MonkeyTales – Episode 2 – “Super”
by D.J. Sylvis
SETTING A street corner downtown.
AT RISE: SUPES is standing in wait, rocking slightly on his toes. We can hear street noises for the most part at a distance. As he catches someone’s eye, he pulls himself up and into character before speaking.
Hello, citizen! Would you like a picture with –
(we hear footsteps continue past)
Well, have a super day! Citizen! Good afternoon!
(perhaps we hear muffled conversation)
Protecting, serving, keeping an eye on the city. Would you like a picture? If you you’ll step over here, we can get the building behind us. I’d leap over it in a single bound, but they asked me to stop doing that during business hours. Now, say “Up, up and away!”
(We hear the photo being taken. Afterwards, he snaps out of his superhero character and speaks in an ordinary voice.)
There’s no charge for the picture, but I do work for tips, so if you’d – thank you. Have a super day!
(he tucks the money into his boot, then back in character)
Good afternoon, citizen! Hello! Well, have a super day! Hello there! Would you like a … okay.
(He sighs and relaxes. We hear fabric rustle as he fiddles with his cape.)
Darn thing, the Velcro itches like a –
(there are footsteps, and he pulls back into character)
Oh. Citizen! Did you want a picture? No? You’re just … of course.
Five minutes, I think.
(He starts to fiddle with his cape again, but it is obvious the other person is still there, waiting for a bus or something. After fidgeting for a moment longer, Supes speaks.)
I’m not actually Superman. I mean, I don’t think I’m him or something. I wasn’t born on Krypton, shot in a rocket to Earth, adopted by the Kent family … I’m not one of these guys who – well, Spidey over there. He’s “on” even when it’s just us. He acts like that on the streetcar home. None of us knows his name. Don’t call him Peter, I’ll tell you that – he gets all paranoid.
But I’m just an actor; one more performer to step inside this suit. In the proud tradition of Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill, Tim Daly. I bring Superman to the streets.
(there are footsteps approaching)
Speaking of. Is my hair still …?
Greetings, citizen ! How was your day? Welcome to our fair city! Would you like a picture with – oh, she would? As long as you keep an eye out for Lois Lane! On the cheek. Okay, and … go!
(we might hear the kiss; and again, we hear a noise for the photo)
Now, we do work for tips, so if you were – thank you. Thank you, have a super day!
(they move on; he speaks to the observer again)
That happens sometimes. They … they like the suit. Ever since I was nineteen, Halloween party at Lisa Lieberman’s place – first Superman suit, first … you know. And second.
She said to keep the cape on. That’s how I wound up with this gig, actually – I still had that same Super-suit. I’ve got this friend – she used to do Lady Di, now she’s got a cabaret act – she told me the money’s not bad, and at least it’s acting, right? So I dug through my closet, found the old blue and red, learned to work the character … and here I’ve been. I even kinda look the part? I’m not as buff as I could be; I do a hundred push-ups every morning. Working on it.
(We suddenly hear a hint of Vegas-style rock and roll, and a familiar mumbling drawl – but can’t make out any words.)
Elvis! The King! How’s your day been? Do you wanna, you know, here for a while? Dig it, dig it.
(another drawl, and the music fades away)
He’s headed for the subway. You can do that if you play music. It’s a shame, though – you should see people go nuts, Elvis and Superman on the same street corner. I’m not a big fan of his music … or his life, really, but it’s good for tips.
(we hear him tap the ‘S’ shield on his chest)
I mean, I wasn’t always a big fan of this guy, either. Sure, when I was a kid I read the comic books, saw the movies … ran around with a blanket tied to my neck. But I grew out of it. In high school, I was the big theatre geek – drama club, little skits for my English projects – and I went to university to become an Actor. Capital ‘A’. Interpreting the classics, declaiming with the best of them – I wanted Shakespeare, Sartre, not superheroes. This was before the whole Marvel thing even seemed possible. Not to get all Marvel versus DC – though I guess it’s kinda obvious where my loyalities fall.
Anyway I graduated, and things went about as well as you think. I didn’t grow up in Smallville or anything, but I wasn’t quite ready for the big time when I moved here. I struggled for a good while – big auditions, smaller auditions, finally I couldn’t even make the list. Things were starting to get dire when … well, Superman saved me. Who’d have thought, right?
(footsteps again passing by)
Good evening, citizen!
(we hear a voice reply faintly)
Thank you. All in a day’s work.
You see? Even when they’re in a hurry to get home. People look at you differently; treat you like you’re … When I wear this, I’m a symbol of strength, hope, justice. Superman’s the light at the end of the tunnel in a red cape and boots. He’s the Man of Tomorrow, the hope for the future. I’m not actually him … but when people say hello, or stop to shake my hand – I think that’s what they see in me.
(watching both ways for anyone to come by)
I’ve even got regulars who come by and they’ll bring me presents. A poster, or an action figure … salt shakers. I’ve got a little museum at home by now. I put some stuff on eBay, when it’s a rough month, but I keep most of it.
(he jumps forward as someone passes by)
Citizen! Hello! The genuine Man of Steel. Faster than a speeding bullet! They asked me to stop proving that – too dangerous to bystanders. Would you like – a picture, certainly! Say, “Big Blue Cheese!”
(after the camera flash)
Now, we do accept tips, so … oh, umm, I said we accept tips. Thank you very much! Have a super day! Thank you!
(we hear change jangling in his hand for a moment)
I always feel guilty about the money part. I make sure to do it out of character, so it’s me asking, not the Big Guy. I don’t want someone to think less of Superman for it. A hero stops meteors from crashing to Earth, they don’t come by at the end of the day and ask you to cover their expenses.
But I’m no award-winning journalist with a condo and a Fortress of Solitude. I’m just an actor who splits rent with three other guys, and I gotta eat. Spaghettios are getting to be my kryptonite.
(we hear money rustling again, a few bills with the coins)
Ten … twelve … twelve thirty-five …
(brief pause, the background noise has
increased a bit)
It’s rush hour now; might as well pack it in. Off with this old cape, on with the mild-mannered overcoat.
(we hear the Velcro open and the sounds of him pulling his coat on)
Clark Kent. That guy’s really got it made. Somehow. He’s Superman’s alter ego – I don’t even really do him, fumbling around with that, “Gosh, Mr. White!” bit, he’s … not the believable part of the story for me. I know, I know. But – they gave him a Pulitzer Prize for journalism. A Pulitzer Prize. I mean, isn’t that a bit much? Let’s not even talk about whether it’s good for your secret identity to become world-famous – that’s bound to trip you up eventually – but does the guy have to be so absolutely perfect at everything? He can’t just move mountains and breathe in outer space and see through buildings; he has to be this incredible reporter, and have a perfect relationship with Lois Lane, and – and amazing parents who are super-supportive about his life choices? There can’t be one part of his life that sucks a little? One way he’s just average?
Anyway, I didn’t mean to … it just makes the, you know, acting job more difficult. When there’s something about the character you can’t connect with, that doesn’t make any sense.
(we hear him fumbling with his things, and zipping up his bag)
I used to have a place nearby that I could change; they started locking up their men’s room. But you can barely tell once I’ve got the coat on.
If they’d just, one time … if Superman ran away from home to move to Metropolis; if Lois Lane lost interest and kicked him to the curb; if he lost his job and didn’t have insurance to cover his meds … I can’t tell you how much something like that would mean to me. In portraying the character.
But who else am I gonna be? Batman?
Where did I put my …
(he unzips his backpack again, rooting around)
I guess, in the end, it’s not about the man, it’s the symbol. What Superman means to people, what they can look up to. I like to think that I might inspire somebody now and then. I like to think I have a positive influence.
You’d think it was the kids, everyone else around here talks about how much the kids love seeing Dora the Explorer or the Hulk live and in person. But for me, it’s when I get through to someone my age. When I see their eyes soften, just a little bit, and for a moment they’re back there. When things were easier. It’s too much to expect an adult to still believe in Santa, but … once in a while, just for a heartbeat, they believe in me.
(a longer pause, rustling through his backpack)
There’s my glasses. Time I get back to private life.
(We hear him shouldering his pack, shifting his weight a little. He coughs, unsure how to end the conversation.)
Have a good night … citizen. I’ll be back tomorrow.
(The episode ends.)