“The Interview”

By Paul Varga

"Turquoise and Hints of Green" by Alexandra Cutler (acrylic, mixed media on canvas)

“Turquoise and Hints of Green” by Alexandra Cutler (acrylic, mixed media on canvas)

“The Interview” first appeared in Curry Arts Journal 2008. Paul Varga’s new dedication is printed below, followed by his original.

Summer 2013

“I want to specially dedicate this republication of “The Interview” to D-L Garren, who helped guide me through the process, and of course lots of love to Matt, Joe and Cheryl, and the entire Walsh family.”

Spring 2008

“Little does a playwright or a writer get a chance to see a character embodied to perfection.  I had the pleasure and the gift to see that happen just over a year ago.  With the talent of any movie or stage actor, with the grace and presence of any academy award winner and the personality of a saint, Matthew Walsh brought the character of Mr. Angelo to life.  In one of his last performances at Curry College he sent chills rolling up and down my spine as well as many in the audience.  He truly was an angel.”

“Since Matt’s death, I have been hesitant to look at this piece of work.  I am not sure why— maybe because I would have to face directly the death of a classmate, maybe I would have to face my own mortality.  However, after another round of e-mails from the Curry Arts Journal and the suggestion by several very persuasive professors, I decided to give it another look.  As I did, I came to the conclusion that instead of hiding this play because of the memories attached I should share it because my hand had been guided to capture the spirit of a man who lived life to the fullest, who taught more with a smile than I could ever imagine.  With his own strength and hope he gave so much strength and hope, not only to the people that he came in contact with but to the community at large.”

“Matt, although you are not here with us physically, you have left an impact that will forever lighten my heart.  I feel that we met before we ever came in contact, and I dedicate this play, not to your memory but to your everlasting spirit that not only inspires me but an entire community.   I thank you and your family, and now forever the spirit you have shared will be enshrined and shared with generations to come.  Enjoy the view, Matt.  Enjoy the view.”

______________________________________________________________________________

Characters:

Jose Smith:  28 – Tall and slender.  Wears nice suit and tie.  Go-getter.  Inquisitive, not shy.  Looks confused.

Mr. Angelo: 50 – Yet looks no definite age.  Wears primped white suit and hair is grey.  Walks with confidence and knowledge.

Jenny: 24 – Pretty, long hair, in shape.  Wears provocative professional clothing.

Setting:  A large conference room.  Walls are decorated with different sorts of pictures.  Window on back wall looks out onto blue sky with puffy clouds.  Walls are taupe with a gold trim.  Fake plant next to window is painted with a hint of gold.  Next to fake plant sits tall bookcase full of pictures of dead celebrities.  Bookcase has gold trim.  In middle of stage is a large table with gold trim.  Chairs line around table.  On Stage right wall sits a coat rack.  Door on stage left has light changing from white to red throughout the play.

JENNY

(Walks into room from door on stage right to door with white light shining through window) Your next appointment is here, Mr. Angelo.

MR. ANGELO

(Offstage)  Thank you, Jenny.  Please see him in and help him get situated.

JENNY

Yes, Sir.  (Walks back across stage and opens door stage right)  Right this way.  Mr. Angelo will be with you in a moment.

JOSE

(Enters)  Sorry I’m late.  There was a terrible accident.  Traffic tied up for blocks and blocks.

JENNY

An accident?

JOSE

Yeah.  Dump truck slammed into some car.  Right outside your building.

JENNY

That’s awful.

JOSE

What a mess…  Ambulances.  Police.  Didn’t you hear the sirens?

JENNY

Not really.  We’re pretty cut off from the world way up here.

JOSE

(Looking around)  Nice place.  Is this Mr. Angelo’s office?

JENNY

No.  Just the conference room.  Mr. Angelo prefers to screen his applicants out here.

(Crosses to JOSE)  May I take your jacket?

JOSE

Why, yes.  Thank you.  (Smiles)

JENNY

(Walks behind JOSE and slowly pulls off jacket, feels his shoulders and arms)

Oooo…  You’re all tensed up from that accident.  Can I get you something to drink?

Coffee?  Tea?  Me?

JOSE

What?

JENNY

Just kidding.  (Hanging jacket on a hook behind on the door)

I can tell you work out.  You are in very good shape, Mr. Smith.

JOSE

(Shifts body)  Thank you, my wife and I run every morning.

JENNY

Well, you know, if you get this job, you might be working very late.  Sometimes we might even have to stay overnight.  Maybe we can go get a drink later and talk about our favorite jogging routes.

JOSE

Oh.  Thanks anyway.  Drinks and jogging dates are purely for me and my wife.  And overnights away from home are pretty much out of the question.

JENNY

Up to you.  It’s a free world.  (Smiles as MR. ANGELO enters from white-light-filled door with folder in hand)  I will be seeing you soon.  Nice to meet you, Jose.  (Jenny exits quickly stage right)

MR ANGELO

(Clears throat)  You must be Mr. Smith.  (Walks toward JOSE)

JOSE

(Stretches out hand)  And you must be Mr.…

MR. ANGELO

Angelo.  (Walks past outstretched hand and pulls out two chairs from conference table half- kitty-corner to one another and the audience)  Sorry, I’m coming down with a cold.  Wouldn’t want you to catch it.  Please sit. (JOSE sits)  Thank you for coming down so fast.  We just got your resume and we really wanted to meet you.

JOSE

(Nervously)  Well, I am just glad you called— (beat) I didn’t know you had my resume.

MR. ANGELO

Well, we like to say we have everyone’s resume.  (Smiles)

JOSE

What?!?

MR. ANGELO

Just a little joke, Mr. Smith.  (Smiles)  Now, I have a few questions for you.  No need to be nervous.  Just answer truthfully and honestly.  (Takes reading glasses out of breast pocket, puts them on and opens file)  After all, it’s not a matter of life or death.

JOSE

(Fidgets in chair)  Yes, sir.  I’m ready.  Fire away.

MR. ANGELO

(Peers down nose)  Well then, let’s start, shall we?  (Looks down at paper)  Full name.

JOSE

Jose Anthony Smith.

MR. ANGELO

Age?

JOSE

Twenty-eight.

MR. ANGELO

Married?  Single?  Children?

JOSE

No children yet.  Married to a beautiful woman named Katie.

MR. ANGELO

Ah, yes.  Katie.

JOSE

Do you know her?  (MR ANGELO points to JOSE’s resume)  Was that in my resume?

MR. ANGELO

(Interrupting him)  Moving on.  Do you see yourself as being religious?

JOSE

Not terribly.  (Eager to please)  I try to live a good life as much as possible.  (Beat)  Isn’t that a personal question?

MR. ANGELO

Personal?

JOSE

And not to sound rude, but …your secretary said some things that made me a bit uncomfortable.

MR. ANGELO

Uncomfortable?  I’m sorry.  I’ll talk to her about it later.  (Shuffling through folder)  I only asked about religion because sometimes you might have to work Sundays and I wanted to know if there was a conflict.

JOSE

(Relieved and a bit amused)  No problem.

MR. ANGELO

Fine then.  Moving on.  Why did you want to work for us?

JOSE

Well, I feel I can bring my own values, beliefs, and a certain amount of knowledge to this company.

MR. ANGELO

I see.  Have you ever worked in Human Resources?  We have an immediate opening for the director’s position.

JOSE

Wow, that sounds great!  What type of skills are you looking for in that department?

MR. ANGELO

We’re looking for an insightful individual, Jose.  We need someone with a good sense of reading people.

JOSE

Well, I think I’m a pretty good judge of character.  And with a background in psychology and in communication…

MR. ANGELO

We need someone who can dive deep.  Someone who can screen applicants and also keep an eye on the work force.

JOSE

How so?

MR. ANGELO

Well, in the past, certain…undesirables…have seeped into this company.  We’d need you to

keep a close watch on the workers and weed out the ones who are…not appropriate.

JOSE

Not appropriate?\

MR. ANGELO

Well, earlier this year, we had some trouble….

JOSE

What kind of trouble?

MR. ANGELO

Well, there was this woman.  Very pushy.  You know the typical Hispanic type.

JOSE

But, Mr. Angelo…I’m…

MR. ANGELO

And it’s not just those wetbacks.  We had some Muslim employees…

JOSE

Muslims.  I see.  And what did THEY do?

MR. ANGELO

The usual.  Refused to conform.  One woman wouldn’t take off her head scarf.  Next thing you know, they’ll be praying in their cubicles.  It’s just not professional.

JOSE

I see.

MR. ANGELO

We also had some problems with our Negroes.  And, what do you call them? …Chinks.

JOSE

(Measuring up Mr. Angelo and the situation)  You mean African Americans and Asian Americans?

Mr. ANGELO

You know THOSE people.  We had some thefts in the office.  We thought it would be a good idea to let them all go.  So, in case any apply in the future, we’d need you to screen them out.  (Offers JOSE a candy from a candy dish on the table)  By the way, you’re not gay are you?

JOSE

(Waving away the candy)   You’re kidding about all this.  Right, Mr.Angelo?

MR. ANGELO

We’re just trying to run a business.  Just like any other hard-working outfit.  Oh.  Did I mention people with any sort of disability?  A lot of the time people can hide that stuff, and you really have to test them.

JOSE

(Clears throat)  Excuse me, sir.

MR. ANGELO

(Smiling)  Ah, yes.  You probably want to know your pay scale.  This is a big job.  How does $95,000 a year sound for starters?

JOSE

Well…

MR. ANGELO

No.  You’re right.  With your credentials, we could go another five.  That WOULD put you in the six-figure bracket.

JOSE

(Sternly)  Sir, do you realize what you are asking me to do?

MR. ANGELO

What?  A pay cut?  Well, $105,000 is about as high as we can go.

JOSE

I’m sorry, Mr. Angelo.  (Stands)  I’m really not your man for the job.

MR. ANGELO

What do you mean?

JOSE

(Walks past MR. ANGELO and grabs coat, trying not to raise his voice) 

You’re talking serious discrimination here, Mr. Angelo.

MR. ANGELO

Come on, Jose.  These are “unspoken rules.”  Everyone’s got them.  There’s no legal liability…

JOSE

(Beginning to rise to the occasion)  You’re talking prejudice.  Bigotry!  Those people you’ve “screened out” were probably just as good as any employee here.  Some probably better. Discrimination is against the law.  And, with all due respect, it’s also REALLY bad for business!

MR ANGELO

(Still calmly)  Let me be the judge of that, Jose.  Why don’t you step into the inner office, and we’ll process the paperwork.

JOSE

Mr. Angelo, let me put it to your clearly.  I’d rather die than work for such a company.

(Grabs door handle)

MR. ANGELO

(Oddly amused)  You’d rather die…?

JOSE

Just a figure of speech, Mr. Angelo.  I’d rather sit in that traffic, while they clear that wreck downstairs, than spend another minute here.  (Tries to open door but only handle moves; MR. ANGELO watches in silence as JOSE tries a few times unsuccessfully to open door)

MR. ANGELO

We can’t let you go, Jose.

JOSE

What?!?  What IS this?

MR. ANGELO

You can’t go back, Jose.

JOSE

What?!?  You can’t hold me here!

MR. ANGELO

You can’t go back, Jose.  (Pause)  No one can.

(JOSE lets go of the door handle, turns, and looks at MR. ANGELO)

JOSE

(Slowly)  What do you…?

MR. ANGELO

Jose, what type of car do you drive?

JOSE

A 2004 Chevy Impala.  Why?

MR. ANGELO

What color?

JOSE

(Slowly)  Blue.

MR. ANGELO

Now think back.  What kind of car was hit in that accident?

JOSE.

(Softly)  A blue Chevy Impala. (Now speechless)

MR. ANGELO

Most unfortunate accident.  (Taking off glasses and putting them away)  A young man on his way to (looks at JOSE) a job interview.

JOSE

(Stunned, JOSE walks slowly to the window and gazes down)  Are you telling me …?

MR. ANGELO

(Gently)  No one could survive an accident like that, Jose.

JOSE

Whew!  Do you mean I’m …?  Well, I’m…?

Mr. Angelo

Yes, Jose.

JOSE

(Near to surrender, but not quite)  What about my wife?  I just kissed her goodbye an hour ago. (Beat)  (Walking slowly back to chair)  So, what IS this place?  (Sits)

MR. ANGELO

This is what you might call “an examining room.”  You know, where folks come to be tested.

JOSE

What kind of test?

(JENNY enters stage right wearing white choir robe and white head scarf)

JENNY

Think of it as… kind of a Placement Test.

MR. ANGELO

Started the moment you walked through this door.  First with Jenny…

JENNY

(Smiles sweetly)  Sorry about that.

MR. ANGELO

We needed answers to some questions.  Like do you honor your commitments?  Do you keep your vows?

JOSE

(Catching on, looking at Jenny)  Do I cheat on my wife?  (Smiles)  Not much of a test.  Not if you knew Katie.

JENNY

You’d be surprised.  (JENNY walks by JOSE, lightly touches him on the shoulder as she passes, and stands next to Mr. ANGELO)

JOSE

(Getting it)   So.  Wait.  All that stuff about … Muslims… Jews … people of color …?

And that crazy salary?

MR. ANGELO

Fear and greed, Jose.  Fear and greed.  Major test for a lot of folks.

JOSE

So I …

JENNY

(Smiling)  You passed just fine.

JOSE

And my wife?

MR. ANGELO

(Stands up)  All in good time, Jose.  All in good time.  (Walks to toward office door)

Love is stronger than Death.

JOSE

(With bleak look)  No!  No, I don’t buy this. This can’t be….  It just can’t be.

Mr. ANGELO

It will be okay, Jose.  Please, you have to…

JENNY

Jose, please settle down.  This is real, you know this is real.  Everything will be okay.

It’s not an end, it’s a beginning.

JOSE

(Stands up, composes himself, and walks with Jenny to the door)  I think (beat) I think I’m ready.

JENNY

Are you sure?

JOSE

(Smiles confidently)  Yes, I am.

MR. ANGELO

Right through here, Jose.  (Taking JOSE’s arm)   Step into my office.  (Opens door)

I think you’ll like the view.

(Lights dim low.  Mr. ANGELO opens door and bright white light floods stage.  JOSE walks through door, followed by JENNY.  Harp music and the sounds of happy laughter can be heard. MR. ANGELO takes handle of the door, exits slowly shutting door behind him.  Stage goes black and after a few moments white light slowly dims till stage is in total blackout)

CURTAIN

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