High Desert State Prison

Return to AIC CAC Proposals 2018

Anthony Peyton Porter

Appreciation

Kindness

A DO-OVER

Excerpt:
We live in interesting times, and I’m glad about that. The past year reminds me of 1968, when George Wallace, the governor of Alabama, ran for President against Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. Now there’s been a fascist coup, wrapped in the flag that Sinclair Lewis predicted. And the revolution is being televised after all, and tweeted…
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Ram Dass pats me on the head

Excerpt:
I was at an Occupy Maui general assembly meeting. Marianne Williamson was scheduled to speak later, and I had a good place to stand. The meeting began and people continued to arrive. I was enjoying myself…
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Lacy J Dalton

Dale Poune

 

Russ Flint

Strawberry Picking – 4×4 feet – Acrylic on Panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Reach – 36×48 inches – Acrylic on panel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painters in the Rain – 40×36 inches – Acrylic on canvas

 

Margaret Garcia

Introduction to Work Sample:

I grew up in a multitude of barely recognized American cultures. My work, I feel, attempts to give voice to those cultures. On one hand I’m a first generation to go to college Latina, an army brat who spent time in Europe, in a gay family in the 1970s and 1980s. All of that comes to play in my work as I navigate those various realities in how they really are versus the perception of them. I am also a mother.

I tell you that last part because it has a tendency to override and inform my work. I work as I can as much as I can, mostly on weekends and where ever I can carve time. I believe strongly in being a present mother but have raised two children with the idea of creativity very much being the center of my being and I hope theirs in their own mediums.

As a writing sample I have chosen one of my plays that I’m currently revising before it can be staged again. I am also working on two others. It is my hope that I could use time at the Millay Colony to complete a play in its entirety. My research for the two others is nearly complete. My time needed now is to have little distraction so that I might finish both—or at least one. The plays: One is about a Chicana superhero named SadGirl who takes it upon herself to save women and girls from bad life choices, and bad public policies stacked against them. The other is based on the true life story of the former Indian Mission School that’s remnants still exist in the hills outside my rural Northern California town. It was the last forced mission school to be closed in the United States (it burnt down).

What I write about often varies but the line through all my work is vulnerability and honest portrayal of emotions no matter how those emotions and situations might fall and make the character seem hard to digest. I’m a lover of both history and pop culture and see no reason why high brow and low brow can’t meet and talk to each other. The writing sample I chose below is Before You Barefoot. The first 10-pages. I combined East Los Angeles’ love of oldies and Greek tragedy and created a 21st century Greek tragedy with a chorus full of jilted lovers reminiscent of chola girls back home.

BEFORE YOU BAREFOOT (First 10 pages)

ACT I: SCENE I
[There is a Greek Chorus on an elevated platform a few inches above the stage. There’s a projected image in the back that suggest a beach and waves. Costuming suggests beach and beach attire for all characters except the Chorus. The Chorus are dressed up in empire waist girl group dresses with frosted make up, suggestive of East LA in the 60s. Everyone is barefoot. One woman from the Chorus moves downstage to sing “Keep Me Hanging On” by the Supremes. At the end of the song she rejoins the Chorus.

[The Woman enters].

NOTE: WHEN ONLY ONE LINE IS WRITTEN FOR THE CHORUS, THEY SAY IT IN UNISON. WHEN THERE’S MULTIPLE LINES THEY TRADE LINES QUICKLY IN ROTATION (1,2,3,4).

WOMAN
He was, I’ll admit it. One of the better ones. I never thought I’d see this day though.

CHORUS
Where is he?

WOMAN
Not with me. Not with any of you.

CHORUS
A new one?

WOMAN
(addresses the Chorus, laughing). I thought you and he were just friends.

CHORUS
1) I thought you and he were ‘just friends.’ 2) I though he was a monk. 3). I thought he was a one-night stand. 4) I thought he was a sadist. 1) I thought he was gay.

WOMAN
A man like that has his own meaning of ‘friend.’ When he says he’s ‘out with a friend’ it doesn’t mean he’s playing softball. It doesn’t mean he’s out for a drink with the guys.

CHORUS
1) It means he’s on his knees. 2) Or on someone else’s knees. 3)Or is bringing someone to their knees. 4) Knees? I thought he liked feet?

WOMAN
That’s true. Can’t get a woman’s foot pregnant. He liked my arches.

CHORUS
He liked MY arches.

WOMAN
He liked the curve of my toes. Where some of my toes are missing.

CHORUS
1) Missing toenails. 2) Stump of a foot. 3) One leg shorter than the other. 4) Limp. 1) Gimp.

WOMAN
He loved a great pedicure. Both giving and receiving. He was an entrepreneur in the business of worshipping feet.

CHORUS
1) And he made me feel special. 2) He made me finally feel down there where the nerve endings bind off in stubs of unfeeling flesh. 3) Nubs. 4) Ugly. 1) Deformed. 2) Gross. 3) Loved. 4) For the first time.

WOMAN
When he saw my feet he said that was it. That he couldn’t love anything else or anyone else. That for him the ordinary perfect, every day foot had no place in his world. That I was the one.

CHORUS
1) He admired my strength. 2) My security. 3) My ability to walk proudly and to keep my balance besides the fact that I– 4) The way I hid my feet from the world but not from him. For him I displayed them like they were perfect. Like I was Miss America. 1) Open toed shoes! 2) Sandals! 3) Barefoot. 4) Where is he anyway?

WOMAN
Sigh. I hate to be the one to break it to you. Clearly you haven’t heard.

CHORUS
What? Some sort of Greek Chorus we are. Aren’t we supposed to move the story along?

WOMAN
He got married.

CHORUS
[gasp]

WOMAN
He got married. We can remain calm.

CHORUS
1) To what? 2) To who? 3) Was it that blonde he travels with sometimes when her husband is out of town? 4) Was it that guy he had that quiet but obvious crush on with the burn marks on his feet? 1) The girl with the amputated left foot? 2) The one with six toes on the right foot? 3) Oh wait. It was that smart one that made us all feel dumb? 4) I still kinda thought he was gay.

WOMAN
Stop. She’s almost half his age.

CHORUS
Of course.

WOMAN
He brought her to meet me the other day. At my work of all places.

CHORUS
The restaurant? Classy.

WOMAN
I guess neutral ground.

CHORUS
Couldn’t hit him.

WOMAN
She’s beautiful.

CHORUS
Asshole.

WOMAN
She has perfect feet. Perfect gait. Perfect toes.

CHORUS
Fucking asshole.

WOMAN
It was hard not to notice the way she was flaunting them in her open toped sandals. Her big toes were perfect, rounded, and the other four on each foot had perfect nails and descended in size in perfect rations from the big toe to the pinkie. A neat row of perfection. Evenly spaced. Post a photo of that woman’s feet on the Internet and not one troll would be found calling them ugly. I bet he had her wear those sandals on purpose.

CHORUS
[gasp].

WOMAN
I know. I know.

CHORUS
Pendejo.

WOMAN
She spent her time saying she didn’t know why she wore those sandals. That those sandals squished her feet and made them feel deformed.

CHORUS
Pinche pendejo.

WOMAN
She said she always hated her feet. They’re so boring.

CHORUS
Wouldn’t it be great to be boring?

WOMAN
She hates them. Loves swimming. She wishes they were webbed. She wishes she were a mermaid.

END SCENE

ACT I: SCENE II
[Flashback].

GRANDMA
Go back and change your shoes.

GIRL
It’s too hot, Grandma. It’s summer. Why can’t I just wear flip flops?

GRANDMA
You can…at home.

GIRL
But it’s hot and we’re going to the beach. It’s the perfect time to wear flip flops! I’m wearing them.

GRANDMA
Do you want people staring at you?

GIRL
At what? My feet? Mom say’s they’re fine. They’re just– different.

GRANDMA
Oh they’re different all right. She should have tried to get them fixed when you were born and not waited so long. Babies bones are mushy. Best time to fix things. They could have operated. Cut that last extra toe right off.

GIRL
Grandma! I like Mr. Stubby. He has character.

GRANDMA
And of course your mother let you name it. I wouldn’t have let you do that. It’s an abomination.

GIRL
It is not. Mama said that every single person on the planet has a deformity of some kind. Every single one. She said that we’re lucky when they’re on the outside. That the ones on the surface aren’t half as bad as the one’s you can’t see. The ones in the heart.

GRANDMA
She would tell you that.

GIRL
Don’t you think not having a heart or a soul would be worse, Grandma?

GRANDMA
Of course dear, but still. Wear the closed toe sandals, baby. You don’t want to go and make things harder on yourself.

CHORUS MEMBER
That was me.

END SCENE

ACT I: SCENE III
[Flashback]

GIRL 2
Hey Wait for me! I want to play.

BOY
Sure. You can play with us. Whoa! You dont have any toes. Killer. Dude. That’s so gross. What happened to your feet?

GIRL 2
What? It’s just a birth defect. Get over it.

BOY
No one cut them off in a lawnmower or something? That would be gnarly.

GIRL 2
Oh grow up.

BOY
And you’re bitter.

GIRL 2
What? I just wanted to hang out with you guys. Go swimming with the rest of you. Why are you picking on me?

BOY
I don’t know. Why are you here with those weird ass feet? Ew.

GIRL 2
Fine. I’m going. I wouldn’t want to hang out with a jerk like you anyhow.

BOY
Heh. Yeah you would.

CHORUS MEMBER
That was me. All the time.

END SCENE

ACT I: SCENE IV
[Woman enters and goes over to a bed. The way she looks at it, it’s clear that she used to share it with someone else.]

WOMAN
We went on a real date. There wasn’t many of them. Most of the time he was working or with someone or I was with someone, so that showing up at a restaurant or something was just too dangerous. We went on a real date. To the beach. We played in the surf and looked into each other’s eyes. We were nearly naked in the bright sun. I could feel him checking me out as the waves hit us. Feel that ownership in his smile. And like I always did at the beach, I dug my toes into the sand deliberately so that no one, not even I, could see how they didn’t match the rest of me. Later, back at his house, we were talking. We still hadn’t fucked et. We were still in that nervous playful stage. When he said he wanted to take a close look at my feet before we did anything else. He admitted he’d been trying to get a good view of them all day. Like these stubs of mine were making him hard. You want to see them? Here? In bed? He stared at my eyes and didn’t blink. He stared at them like I was naked. He said they were beautiful. That being the only one in the world with toes like this made me perfect. A whole different kind of person. Different from the ordinary. I wouldn’t believe him. How could I? What kind of man likes that? “They’re deformed,” I said, “and you’re weird.

[Woman turns towards the Chorus]

WOMAN (CONT’D)
He told me he loved me. Right then. I didn’t believe him. I knew better, and then he put them in his mouth and I felt a sensation I’d never felt before. It awakened me to new possibilities. For a moment, I saw myself with him forever. And I knew as soon as I thought that that I’d gone somewhere dangerous in my head. How many times do we fall for someone based on that little intimate difference from all others? I came back to him like an addict to this feeling again and again. I felt him back away a little, as if he read my mind. My desperation to keep feeling that feeling. “I will always be here for you,” he said, ‘but only exactly as I am.’

[Woman gets up off the bed and stands up straight, brushes herself off and walks over to the Chorus and joins them. A man from the Chorus comes down to sing the song “Love is here, and Oh My Darling Now It’s Gone,” by the Supremes. Chorus echoes his parts with ‘Oooh’ and ‘Ahhhs’. A second chorus member comes down to do the ‘talking’ part of the song. When the song ends, another member of the Chorus goes over to the bed.

ACT I, SCENE V

CHORUS MEMBER
‘Baby it’s all in the arches.’ He announced this to me at the foot of this very bed. He said mine were perfect. That when held together they’d make a perfectly curved opening. Like a Georgia O’Keefe flower. I blushed. It’s all about what they can curve around. He was an arch man. Not a breast man, not an ass man, an arch man. To me, my feet were nothing. Nothing at all. I couldn’t see what he saw in me. He said, ‘take off your stockings,’ and slowly and assuredly, he wore me down. Broke me. I relented. I showed him everything. The scar where the surgeon had cut. Everything. I was before him barefoot and finally felt free. I felt like I was doing something illegal, like I could be arrested. Like the natural world was conspiring against me. My insides. This beach. The tide, the moon, the water. All of it telling me to give in to his pleasure, to try something new.

[Turns to the chorus. They nod in agreement.]

CHORUS MEMBER (CONT’D)
He pulled back my toes and examined them, kept rubbing them. First the better foot with its better symmetry and toenails. And then the other. The look on his face telling me he’d taken possession of them. Consumed them. And then he was weeping telling me ‘this is great’ and the ugly foot? Where the big toe is too small and the middle ones are actually taller? He kissed them. ‘Beautiful,” he said. “So, beautiful.’ And then I knew I always wanted to feel beautiful in someone’s eyes.

END SCENE