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Creepin' (Starfish and Superheroes)
Overheard at the Willcocks Streetcar Stop at U of T...

A series of mini-dramas based on public conversations, as overheard and rewritten by local playwright/director Aurora Stewart de Peña.

Overheard at the Willcocks Streetcar Stop at U of T

Ronan is 19. His brown hair is moppy and streaked with bleach, he is wearing a hooded sweater that says “Rise Above” on the back, and he has a red bandana tied around the knee of his black jeans.

He holds a very old steel guitar. 

Farrah is 37, wearing a black trench coat, black leggings, and expensive looking pink shoes.

Farrah: You should get a case for that guitar.

Ronnan: You’re talking to me!

Farrah raises her eyebrows. 

Ronan: People in Toronto never talk to each other. This is a first. 

Ronan extends his hand.

Hi, I’m Ronan.

Farrah: Hi.

Pause.

It’s going to rain later. You should get a case for your guitar, it looks really old.

Ronan: It is, you know who this belonged to?

Farrah: Who?

Ronan: North Carolina Charlie Poole.

Farrah: Oh.

Ronan: Yeah, I picked it up in North Carolina. Bought it from an old blind man who owns a guitar shop there.

Farrah: You’re from North Carolina?

Ronan: I’m from Fresno, actually. I hitchhiked up here to go to school. (Ronan makes a sweeping gesture of the U of T campus) I go to U of T.

Farrah: Why did you hitchhike?

Ronan: It’s the best way to travel; you get to meet new people, be a part of their lives. Beats the bus.

Farrah: What are you studying?

Ronan: Right now biology, but next year I’m going to pre-med.

Pause. Ronan looks at Farrah.

At Oxford.

Farrah: Oxford! Congratulations!

Ronan: Yeah, they just called me this morning. They’d heard about my work.

Pause.

See, Starfish have incredible regenerative powers, if they lose a limb, it just grows right back. If they get cut, it just heals right up. I was swimming off the Gulf of Mexico last Summer when I discovered it. There was this starfish that had been cut by a shell, and he was thrashing all around in a ton of pain. I thought I’d hold him, calm him down so he felt human hands on him during his last minutes on earth, but there, right before my eyes, his cut heals up. And I’m amazed, right? Like holy shit!

Farrah: (nodding) Yeah.

Ronan: But then I look into it, and it turns out that’s just how starfish are. And I get to thinking, if I can isolate the DNA strand that’s responsible for this extraordinary power of regeneration, then maybe I can do something with it, like make a topical gel or cream that you can rub on wounds, burn victims, severed limbs. Imagine if you had that in a hospital waiting room!

Imagine what it could do for humanity!

Farrah: Yeah.

Pause. 

Ronan: Like, this is years away. I’d need to develop it. But, like, imagine!

Farrah: Yeah.

I think that’s the plot of a movie.

Ronan looks at her.

Yeah, it’s the plot of The Hulk.

Ronan: No, it’s not.

Farrah: Yeah, it is. It stars Eric Bana.

Um, but that’s really interesting.

Pause. Ronan looks straight ahead.

The streetcar comes. They get in different doors.

____

Aurora Stewart de Peña is half of the theatre company Birdtown & Swanville (the other half is Nika Mistruzzi). You can follow her on Twitter at @Aurorahhh.

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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