Calcetine – the coolest sock, he is very well-liked, possible himbo
Chausette – an artist and a romantic, falling out of love with Calcetine
Hanes – disillusioned sock, standard hopeless romantic, falling out of love with Fruta
Fruta – career driven sock, doesn’t like Hanes’ over-the-top romance
Narrator – unclear whether they are a sock or not
Scene1 – (Fruta House) Fruta and Hanes: Hanes is attempting to woo Fruta, Fruta is busy
Scene2 – (Calcetine House) Calcetine is attempting to listen to Chausette while she talks about art
Scene3 – (Market) Chausette and Hanes meet and fall improbably quickly in love
Scene1 – (Market) Chausette and Hanes are off together on a pseudo-date
Scene2 – (Calcetine House) Calcetine and Fruta meet up and discuss their misgivings
Scene3 – (Fruta House) Fruta accuses Hanes and they fight, Fruta accuses Chausette and Hanes of “making a bad pair”, break up
Scene1 – (Market) Chausette and Hanes meet up again and pledge their love for each other
Scene2 – (Calcetine House) Chausette breaks up with Calcetine and it goes well
Scene3 – (Market) Hanes suggests that he and Chausette both take their life, Chausette is confused and refuses
Narrator – Socks who live in SockCity are much more interested in their own day-to-day lives than your average socks in your drawer. The denizens of SockCity, in fact, have no feet to serve, and no sweat to wick. They live their lives like you or me, with the hand of the man shoved up their asses.
Hanes – Fruta, my dear… oh how I love thee. I have prepared a song for you! (Singing, poorly) Fruta, Fruta, your face really suits ya. Fruta, Fruta, tu no eres una puta! Fruta, Fruta–
Fruta – (Shouting) HANES. I’m on a call with Sockheed Martin, do you want to see all of SockCity get blown to shreds if this deal falls through? (Softer) I can listen to you later, babe, I’m sorry, just not right now.
Hanes – (defeated) Ugh… it’s always “just not right now” isn’t it?
Fruta – (exasperated) Um… No. It’s literally just the last five minutes. Give me an hour?
Hanes – Ugh… fine.
Chausette – Are you even listening, Calcetine?
Calcetine – Honest, Chausette, I really am… I’m sorry I just really don’t understand this stuff at all.
Chausette – Literally all I said was that the painting was blue. Like… the color?
Calcetine – Chausette, again, I’m literally color blind. Like… literally. I mean, we’re socks, our eyes are barely attached, you should be more considerate. Kind of insensitive, actually.
Chausette – Hey, yeah you’re right. I’m sorry Calcetine, but it can be difficult to talk art with you sometimes because you a;ways have this blank look on your face.
(Calcetine spikes camera, scene ends)
Narrator – In the thriving marketplace of SockCity, wares change hands at lightning speed, and in moments, lives can change forever.
(Hanes turns and is awestruck by Chausette)
Hanes – Oh, oh my goodness maam, I must say, you are truly enchanting.
Chausette – (deadpan) I have a boyfriend.
Hanes – Well, maam, I’m Hanes, and I’m the lead in this star-crossed lovers thing we’re in, so you gotta be into me, right? That’s how the story goes.
Chausette – (eyeing him) Sorry, buddy… you’re a little… low-cut for my taste.
Hanes – Well I’m an artist, and you look like a painting. I can picture us together.
Chausette – You’re an artist? What’s your medium?
Hanes – I’m a wordsmith, and it ain’t a medium babe, I’m an 11 in men’s.
Chausette – What size are you in women’s?
Hanes – Well let’s go out sometime and you can find out.
Chausette – Are you color blind?
Hanes – Kind of an ablest question.
Chausette – Here’s my number (holds comically large piece of paper in mouth, Hanes grabs with mouth)
Hanes – (Through pursed lips) Hell yeah! Also, what’s your name?
Chausette – Chausette.
Hanes – (Failing, still with paper in mouth) Chausette…
Chausette – Sure, close enough.
Narrator – After a day of preparation, Hanes and Chausette are eagerly awaiting going to see each other. They have agreed to meet in the marketplace again, so I don’t have to make a new sign.
Chausette – Oh if Hanes doesn’t show… What am I doing here? I have a loving himbo back home, he’s even described that way in his character description! What is going on with me? Perhaps it is true! Star-crossed lovers… so mismatched a pair… never to be together… (Cries theatrically)
(Enter Hanes. Hanes spots Chausette, who is crying facing away from him. Hanes approaches)
Hanes – Heyya Chausette! I’m really happy that you actually showed– (Finally seeing) Oh my god are you crying?
Chausette – (Turning toward him, somehow covered in water) YES!
Hanes – Um… why?
Chausette – Because you may be right, Hanes. We may indeed be star-crossed lovers! That is, of course, the throughline of this play…
Hanes – That doesn’t mean anything though. We’re all adults. I’m sure if you and I hit it off, our significant others will understand. It will be hard, but I’m sure they’ll get it in the long run.
Chausette – (Snapping out of it, shouting) WAIT. You have a girlfriend?
Hanes – Oh… yeah I figured since you were sneaking behind your boyfriend’s back it would be cool.
Chausette – I’m not thrilled by it, but that just means you’re the one buying the mothballs at dinner.
Hanes – Wait do you eat mothballs?
Chausette – (Embarrassed, unsure) Um… yeahhhh…?
Hanes – (Excitedly) I thought I was the only one!
(Both saunter off together, bouncing cheerfully)
(Open on Calcetine and Fruta sharing tea)
Calcetine – You know Fruta, Hanes is a great guy, but maybe you guys just aren’t meant to last long term. (Dips face into tea cup, getting entire sock wet)
Fruta – It’s possible, Cal. It certainly is. He just doesn’t have any patience. He’s more than willing to throw anything at the wall to make me happy, but sometimes all I want him to do is just settle, to give me some room.
Calcetine – I hear ya, sister. Chausette is great to me, she honestly treats me well, but sometimes I think she doesn’t respect me. Like she doesn’t think I’m on her intellectual level.
Fruta – Which is crazy, you were top of your class at Princeton.
Calcetine – Yes, that is in fact my backstory, yes, thank you.
Fruta – All I’m saying, Cal, is that maybe they’re both bad news. That over-the-top view of romance can honestly be toxic.
Calcetine – Fruta, I’m just so glad you said it. You have your whole life to look forward to, you don’t need a man right now.
Fruta – It’s just tough, you know? Like you get comfortable with someone, and sometimes it’s hard to walk away.
Calcetine – Oh I hear ya. (Both dip their heads into their cups, soaking again)
(Open on Fruta and Hanes)
Fruta – (furious) YOU WHAT?
Hanes – I swear it was one date and nothing happened.
Fruta – You’re aware that that is not remotely the point, right?
Hanes – Well maybe I’m not getting enough from this relationship.
Fruta – Well what the fuck do you need me to do? I can’t be at your beck and call at all hours to hear you read me love poetry. (Beat) Oh! And I found out what a puta was, by the way.
Hanes – (Shocked, distraught) Oh my god, have you been talking to Calcetine?
Fruta – Yeah, you know that he and I have been best friends since second grade.
Hanes – Yes, that is in fact your backstory, yes… but like… is he going to beat me up?
Fruta – Oh my god, Hanes! Not everything is about you! Think about someone else for once!
Hanes – That’s all I’ve been doing! I’ve been loving you, and never feeling it back!
Fruta – These big romantic gestures just serve you! You’ve never done them for me!
Hanes – Well I bet Chausette will appreciate them! She loves my writing, my songs!
Fruta – Well then… (Beat, indignant) I think you two will make an excellent pair.
(Open on Hanes looking sad)
Narrator – After the break up, Hanes got really weird about everything. It was clear to even him that he had been the one to ruin things with Fruta, but he still felt like he was the victim.
Hanes – Oh what a life it is to live in love and not be loved in life by the love you loved. It is truly a tragedy (heavy sign) What life is there left for me to live? What love is left for me to love?
Chausette – Hi Hanes, you look down.
Hanes – (quickly trying to pull himself together) Oh no no no, we’re good! Hey, I’m happy to see you again. How are things?
Chausette – Hanes, it’s only been a day, I’m doing alright. You get dumped?
Hanes – Yeah kinda.
Chausette – That sucks, I’m sorry. If it makes you feel better I’m going to talk to Calcetine today. I don’t want to go behind his back anymore, and I gotta be honest, I had a good time hanging out with you.
Hanes – Oh, well that’s good news.
Chausette – Yeah, even a mutual breakup can be difficult though. I just hope he understands.
Hanes – I’m sure he already knows. Fruta is like his best friend.
Chausette – True. Weirdly I think that makes it feel easier.
Hanes – Maybe less complicated? Like everything is on the table before you even talk to him?
Chausette – Yeah something like that. (Beat) Hey, I do really like you Hanes.
Hanes – I really like you too. I think you’re really cool.
Chausette – (Beat, tension rises) You know… I… like-like you.
Hanes – (Gasp, mouth held open) Chausette… don’t you think we’re moving a little… fast?
Chausette – Not at all.
(Chausette rushes over to Hanes and they share an impassioned, lengthy kiss with many random noises. When they stop kissing, Hanes reels.)
Hanes – (Dazed) No no no no… wowza… Chausette… maybe we shouldn’t do this. Maybe we… maybe we’re not such a perfect pair.
Chausette – Hanes, when we’re together, I can see the colors again. I can see everything like a painting, and for just a moment when you’re near, I feel like it all makes sense.
Hanes – Oh my god…
Chausette – We’re perfect for each other. Maybe our exes don’t appreciate us, but we can be so great together!
Hanes – I’ve never had someone say something like this to me… It’s a little much all at once… but thank you.
Chausette – I’m going to Calcetine’s right now. I need to let him know I’m in like-like with another sock. (Scandalized) An ANKLE sock no less. What would my parents say? Oh it’s so romantic.
Hanes – Yeah… (Coming around) Yeah I guess it is! Chausette… I like-like you too!
(The two share another lengthy, audible kiss)
(Open on Calcetine and Chausette)
Calcetine – Yeah I heard.
Chausette – Are you mad?
Calcetine – I’m not thrilled, I’m not gonna lie.
Chausette – It’s really not you, it’s —
Calcetine – –Yeah, it’s you. (Chausette is taken aback) You never treated me like an adult. This is the same thing. You’re going to spout cliches at me, thinking it will make this feel better, but you know it won’t. You’re just hoping I’m too stupid to notice. Well… I noticed. (Calcetine is shaken, and lowers his head).
Chausette – I don’t think you’re stupid. I know you’re not stupid, I–
Calcetine – –Look… Just stop okay? I get it, and I honestly hope everything works for you and Hanes, he seems like an alright guy.
Chausette – What’s your plan? What’s next for you?
Calcetine – What do you mean?
Chausette – Like, are you looking at talking with Fruta finally… you’re always talking about her.
Calcetine – Yeah that’s because she’s my friend, Chausette. (Beat) Look, I gotta go anyway. Make sure you grab your mothballs out of the fridge. I don’t want them stinking up the place.
Narrator – Alone, in Calcetine’s house, Chausette sought revenge.
Chausette – (Looking up and around) What? No I’m not. Look I don’t want to burn this bridge if I can avoid it. Calcetine is still a good guy.
Narrator – Yeah but like… his voice? What an idiot.
Chausette – Shut the fuck up.
Narrator – And then a boulder fell from the sky and crushed Chausette and her stupid choices.
Chausette – (Bouncing, panicked) Ahhhhh! (Exit Chausette)
(Open on Chausette and Hanes “hugging”)
Narrator – Finally, at the end of the performance, our two leads were together, despite the odds. It was as if destiny was… pulling them apart, but also somehow continuing to pull them closer together or something. I guess that destiny works in mysterious ways in these shows.
Hanes – (Looking up) Bit on the nose, isn’t that?
Narrator – And then an even bigger boulder went and totally crushed Hanes.
(Hanes looks around, shaken)
Chausette – Don’t listen to him, schnookums. (Looking up) That’s not gonna work twice! (Back to Hanes) He’s just jealous of us.
Hanes – Wait… why would he be jealous of us? Isn’t this supposed to be a tragedy? Aren’t star-crossed lovers a bad thing to be?
Chausette – Well I don’t think that’s stopped people from wanting to be them before.
Hanes – Is it the death thing? Are we even star-crossed if we don’t both die or something. At least one, right?
Chausette – I hope not. We did just go through a lot of effort to get here. (Both look up) Got anything to add here? (Beat) Guess not.
Hanes – Do we have to like… kill ourselves? Is that how this ends?
Chausette – Oh just be quiet, Hanes, before you bring on something we don’t want. Maybe we’re just in a romance, and nothing bad happens to us at the end. We’re just happy together forever.
Narrator – “Happy”.
(Both look up, then back down to each other, then spike camera)
That was really fun to do, actually.
Firstly, I want to address the elephant in the room. This is not a video. This is actually a set of still images to accompany the script. I made the puppets, why didn’t I go all in and make this a full puppet show?
Well that’s quite easy to answer if you’ve ever made videos before. Editing is time consuming as HELL, and I simply couldn’t do the full performance despite my wishes. I even had a couple of my friends signed on to help me film and act out the characters. I’ll likely try to film this all the way through some day.
Now, what was I trying to do with this… puppet show? Well I wanted to respond to Chikamatsu’s Love Suicides at Amijima as well as the over-the-top “romantic” notions of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It seems that people really enjoy romantic tragedy. Even Titanic, one of the most popular movies of all time, follows a similar plot structure (only without suicide). Like if people are in love, and they do grand romantic gestures, you can usually count on one of the characters dying. I find that limiting I guess. I wanted to look at how that usually plays out in romance, and push back against it with some challenges to the form that, because of how we expect these stories to go, are almost absurd when we see how they actually would occur. We see Calcetine (my best character) basically call out Chausette when they break up, but he isn’t blowing anything out of proportion, and she doesn’t resent him afterward. In romantic tragedies we usually see the “star-crossed lovers” lose everything for their passion. In my story these characters have this chip on their shoulder that something must be dangerous, but in the end the only thing they need to fear is each other’s toxic habits.
However, why sock puppets? Very good question. When I learned about how Love Suicides at Amijima was originally made in the bunraku puppet theatre style it basically blew my mind, because it allowed for a lot of weird images to flow through my brain while reading the story. Specifically, I was amazed by the visceral description of the suicide at the end of the play, and I was wondering how they could make that image anything less than absurd. I later thought that that confusion must come from the western views of puppets. Puppets in “the west” are mostly a thing for comedy or children, a la The Muppets and Sesame Street respectively. Certainly some serious puppetry has been created in the west, but it hardly has mainstream appeal. I wanted to lean into that, and with the absurdist bend to the story I wanted to tell, I matched a puppet-style that was silly and rife for slapstick and goofs.
Finally, I must address the question at the end of each of these projects. How does this piece answer “Why does literature matter?”? Well, I can tell you one thing, it got me very excited for a whole new medium I had never explored before.
I had seen marionettes perform intricate movements and tell all sorts of stories, I had seen cheap comedians use ventriloquism to hide their less-savory opinions, and I had learned a lot from Elmo on television, but until I heard about the story Chikamatsu was telling with puppetry, I hadn’t taken it seriously. I know this is another funny haha piece that Quinn wrote, but honestly, I grew a great appreciation for this medium as I was creating it. I had to consider logistics I had never had to before, and I had to create recognizable new characters through nothing more than crafts and special hand-movements. Had I not dove into another culture’s art I would have never been enticed to try it myself, and I hope I get to work in the medium again in the future. Literature allowed me to step into another style and have some solid footing.
Thank you all for a really fun and entertaining class. I’ve learned a lot, and I hope to see y’all around!