Blackjack: The Thief of Possession
The deck and lounge of the Dixie Queen paddleboat, departing from New Orleans, Louisiana, up the Mississippi River to Natchez, Tennessee.
Act One. The present. New Year’s Eve. Four o’clock.
Act Two. Later that night.
SETTING: The lounge and deck of the Dixie Queen. The abstract set seems timeless as the characters relate to the expansive horizon: the brown Mississippi River and transparent skies. Luxury is felt through detail: crystal glasses, a vintage brass lamp, blush carpeting. The set evokes grandeur and isolation, elegance on the verge of collapse.
AT RISE: SOUND: The paddle wheel churns.
LIGHTS: It is the coldest New Year’s Eve in New Orleans in thirty years.
KAITLIN ELLIS waits, sipping a second glass of sherry and reading a program.
When I was a girl, I wouldn’t pray for power, for the end of the world, but for a perfect marriage. Perhaps in the South, I thought marriage would be great because I was bored so beautifully as a girl. All those long, lonely Julys on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Swinging in the hammock, staring through the oak trees at the endless sky. My cat, Visalia, lying by me, her green eyes shining, licking her paws.
(Combs the dock, her eyes welling with tears)
My husband is a writer with a certain reputation. Beau Ellis, that’s right. We live in Paris. After eight years, my hormones are finally cooling down. They like to drove me stark raving nuts in the beginning, whenever Beau brushed my hair, rubbed saffron on my skin, or kissed me with the fullness of pleasure. In Beau’s study when it rains, I can still smell his cologne.
(Checks a diamond watch on a chain round her neck)
Lord, where’s Beau? I can’t face my mother without him. Same faces at the same cruise table for one long week.
SOUND: Throughout the play, we hear canned programming through the speakers.
WELCOME ABOARD THE DIXIE QUEEN’S NEW YEAR’S CRUISE, A WEEK OF PLEASURE FROM NEW ORLEANS TO NATCHEZ ON THE ONLY PADDLEWHEEL STILL IN EXISTENCE.
Performed at Southern Rep, June 1995; selected as outstanding new play and performed at Alice ’s Fourth Floor Theatre , NY and the Interact Theatre, Los Angeles, 1995-96.