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Miscarriage of Justice


JUDGE sits behind bench at CENTER STAGE.

WITNESS, slightly lower, sits at STAGE LEFT.

PROSECUTOR stands FACE FRONT, UPSTAGE CENTER, placed between JUDGE and WITNESS, arms behind back, head down, looking thoughtful.

DEFENSE sits at STAGE RIGHT, profile LEFT, level with WITNESS.

                               PROSECUTOR:   (looks up, head tilted slightly toward WITNESS)
                               What was that, Miss Westmoreland? I didn't quite hear you...
                               could you please repeat it for the rest of us?
                               (Walks RIGHT)

                               WITNESS:  (frustrated)  I said yes!

                               PROSECUTOR:  (turns, faces WITNESS) So, you admit it, then?

                               WITNESS:  (confused)  What? No... I didn't admit to anything! All I said was–

                               PROSECUTOR:   (interrupting, intently)  It was YOU, wasn't it? That night in the chicken coop!

                               DEFENSE:  (rising, pounds notebook on table)  OBJECTION!

                               WITNESS:   (still confused)  Huh? Chickens?

                               JUDGE:  Miss Barker, may I remind you what case we're on?

                               PROSECUTOR:   (turning to JUDGE)  What? Oh!
                               (checks file, looks at watch)  Uh... What day is it?

                               DEFENSE:  (sits back down, rolls eyes) Your honor, please!

                               WITNESS:  (looks back and forth between all others, shakes raised index finger slightly)
                               Uh... excuse me?

                               JUDGE:   (sighs, drums fingers)  Short recess while the prosecution gets her affairs in order.

                               WITNESS:  (excited)  Recess?  (turns to JUDGE)  Do we get to go outside to play?

                               DEFENSE:   What?  Who's having an affair?

                               JUDGE:   (throws up hands, tosses gavel over shoulder)  I give up.  (Exits RIGHT)


                                PROSECUTOR:   So, how'm I doing?

                                DEFENSE:  What was that mess about chickens?

                                PROSECUTOR:  Just wanted to keep you on your toes.

                                WITNESS:  I think Ms. Maynard is getting a little tired of your antics.

                                DEFENSE:   (crosses arms folded over chest)  Yeah, I think I'm getting pretty sick of it, myself.

                                PROSECUTOR:   (hands on hips, leans forward, shaking head)  Oh, you're always--

JUDGE suddenly returns RIGHT, conspicuously carrying a bottle of Bayer.

                                JUDGE:  (interrupting)  Okay. Can we just please try to be a little more serious
                                so maybe we can get through this last half before I retire?
                                (sighs, pops a couple of aspirin)

                                DEFENSE:  Yeah!  (thumb on nose, sticks out tongue and wiggles fingers at PROSECUTOR)

DEFENSE and PROSECUTOR glare at each other, eyes squinted, lips pursed.

All return to original positions.

                                JUDGE:   (nodding to DEFENSE)  Miss Aschenbrener, I believe it was your turn.

                                PROSECUTOR:   (indignantly)  But, I wasn't finished!

JUDGE pulls glasses down to end of nose, looks over lowered frames at PROSECUTOR,
with raised eyebrow and intense frown

                                JUDGE:  (strained)  Yes, you were.

                                DEFENSE:   Hmph!  (throws nose in the air)

PROSECUTOR, pouting, swinging arms wildly, stomps to seat RIGHT, drops files dramatically on desk
and flops loudly into chair, folds arms across chest in a overly dramatic huff, and sticks out lower lip.

                                PROSECUTOR:   (under breath)  It's not FAIR.

                                WITNESS:  (anxious)  Can we please just get ON with it?

DEFENSE gathers papers, crosses LEFT.

                                DEFENSE:  Alright, then. (straightens shoulders, clears throat)  Now, Miss Westmoreland,
                                (gently)  could you please tell us all, in your own words,
                                exactly what really happened on that fateful night?

                                WITNESS:  Well...

                                PROSECUTOR:   (muttering)  No pressure or anything.

                                JUDGE:   (sternly)  One more peep out of you, Council  (shakes finger at PROSECUTOR)
                                and you're out of here! (points to the door)

                                PROSECUTOR:   (mouthing, out of sight of JUDGE)  PEEP!  PEEP, PEEP!  PEEP!

                                WITNESS:   Oh, I give up! I did it! I'm guilty!

                                DEFENSE:   (astounded)  What?!

                                PROSECUTOR:  (amused)  What??

                                JUDGE:  (annoyed)  What!!

                                WITNESS:   Yes, that's right, you heard me!  It was me, I did it!
                                I was the one who stole the erasers, wrote on the bulletin board, and ate all the chalk.

PROSECUTOR laughs maniacally. JUDGE shakes head wildly, eyes squeezed together tightly in a dramatic grimace, and plants a facepalm, then shakes both fists heavenward, mock crying and mouthing incoherent gibberish in the general direction of the ceiling, some of which is clearly “WHY ME”.

                                DEFENSE:   Amy, what are you saying?

                                WITNESS:   Look, I'm tired okay?  I can't take this anymore!  I just want to have my snack
                                and take a nap and forget this whole thing.

                                DEFENSE:   (desperate)  But, we worked so hard! We all know you didn't do it...
                                don't you care about that? Don't you care about your grade?

                                PROSECUTOR:   (loudly)  Ha! Ha-ha! HA!!
                                (holding stomach with one hand and pointing at DEFENSE with the other)
                                You lost, sucker!

PROSECUTOR moves in closer. JUDGE watches tentatively.

PROSECUTOR, with thumbs in ears, waggling jazz-hand fingers around, sticks out tongue, scrunches up nose, crosses eyes at DEFENSE, and sways side to side, bending at the waist.

                                PROSECUTOR:   (mocking)  Nyah, Nyah Neh-Boo-Boo!

                                DEFENSE:  Shut up!  This is all you fault!  You had this whole thing planned out
                                just so you could make us all get a bad grade!
                                (also moves in closer)

                                PROSECUTOR:  Oh yeah? And just what do you plan to do about it?
                                (pokes DEFENSE in chest on “You” “Plan” and “Do”)

                                DEFENSE:   This!  (shoves PROSECUTOR)

PROSECUTOR falls backwards with a shriek.

                                WITNESS:  (excited)  Alllll riiiight!  (rubs hands together with glee)  Now, THIS is more like it!

WITNESS jumps down from witness stand.

JUDGE pounds gavel on the bench.

                                JUDGE:   (alarmed)  Girls, Girls!!

PROSECUTOR gets up from floor and shoves DEFENSE.

DEFENSE comes back to pull PROSECUTOR's hair.

PROSECUTOR screams, holding head with both hands; while in the process of being yanked sideways by the hair, PROSECUTOR’s foot goes out and kicks WITNESS in the stomach.

WITNESS doubles over in momentary pain, then lunges at PROSECUTOR.

                                WITNESS:  (offended)  Hey!

WITNESS, with a dramatic wind-up, kicks PROSECUTOR in the back of the knee.

                                PROSECUTOR:  (angryWhy, you!

PROSECUTOR breaks free of DEFENSE's hair-hold, turns and socks DEFENSE in the jaw, then spins around and attacks WITNESS, wrapping hands around WITNESS’s throat and shaking violently.

WITNESS claws at PROSECUTOR's arms, trying to break free, eyes rolled back in head, making small gurgling sounds.

                                JUDGE:  (pounding gavel harder)  Ladies, please!! CALM DOWN!

DEFENSE gets up from floor and jumps on PROSECUTOR's back.

PROSECUTOR lets go of WITNESS, swings around, groping and hitting upwards at DEFENSE.

A stunned WITNESS, momentarily dizzy, holds her head for a half-second, then shakes herself silly before jumping down to the floor on all fours at the feet of PROSECUTOR, and, growling like a crazed pit-bull, grabs PROSECUTOR's knee in one hand and PROSECUTOR's ankle in the other, pulling PROSECUTOR’S pant leg up from the ankle to the knee.

JUDGE stands abruptly, slamming gavel viciously on desk until it breaks, the head goes flying and hits a spinning DEFENSE in the butt.

                                JUDGE:  (screaming madly)  STOP IT!!! Stop it, all of you, or you'll ALL get a bad grade!

All stop suddenly, turn to stare at JUDGE.

JUDGE is breathing heavily, mouth open, teeth bared, lower jaw jut forward, chest heaving, eyes blazing, fuming all over, clinging so tightly to the broken gavel her knuckles are white and her fist is shaking.

DEFENSE is attached to PROSECUTOR's back, one hand under PROSECUTOR's arm and holding on tightly PROSECUTOR's outstretched ear, the other hand under PROSECUTOR's other arm with two fingers pushing up on PROSECUTOR's nose, both legs wrapped tightly around PROSECUTOR's waist.

PROSECUTOR is standing precariously on one foot, the other is shoeless, outstretched and teetering back and forth; both arms raised back over her head, grasping at DEFENSE; one hand holds a large chunk of DEFENSE’s hair upwards, the other hand grasps DEFENSE’s face, with two fingers poking in DEFENSE’s squeezed-shut eye, and two hooked inside and stretching DEFENSE’s mouth out of shape, and her thumb in DEFENSE’s ear.

WITNESS is sitting on her butt on the floor, one knee bent with the heel positioned to pin PROSECUTOR's standing toes down, the other leg outstretched with knee pinned tightly against the back of PROSECUTOR's standing heel; one hand triumphantly holds PROSECUTOR's empty shoe, the other holds PROSECUTOR's pushed up pantsleg at the knee. WITNESS has been proudly chewing on and ripping apart PROSECUTOR's sock, and is frozen with a mouthful of torn and shredded sock, still dangling on PROSECUTOR's foot.

Hold freeze position for a soundless count of seven, then all return to fighting with much hissing and screeching.

JUDGE hangs head in hands, sobbing, shoulders drooped; tosses gavel-handle over back as exiting RIGHT.

                                JUDGE:   (defeated)  That's the last time I try to teach Civics to second-graders!


LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 9 - Topic: KEEP CALM
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( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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May. 20th, 2014 12:58 am (UTC)
Oh I soooooo want to criticize this for not sticking to screenplay format and style. (I used to critique a lot of screenplays on message boards and such. Not following screenplay format and style to the letter is the quickest way to look like you don't know what you're doing and get your screenplay thrown out, so critiquers are absolute fascists about it, and it's a kneejerk reaction.)

Actually, I like how it's written. A lot of times you see script format and prose format blended and it just reads like a half-breed that has the weaknesses of both parents and none of the strengths. Here, since it's pretty action driven, it leads to a quick and breezy read compared to prose. I think you made a good choice when you picked this medium.
May. 20th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
I attended a screenplay writing workshop at a film festival. I was shocked at how precise screen plays have to be.

I'm used to theatre and plays in that and those aren't so strict, it seems. The character name is bolded and then the dialogue is given.

There's some direction, but it's usually up to the director for that, unless for some reason, it has to be exact.
(no subject) - karmasoup - May. 20th, 2014 03:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - reckless_blues - May. 20th, 2014 04:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karmasoup - May. 20th, 2014 04:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - reckless_blues - May. 20th, 2014 04:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karmasoup - May. 20th, 2014 04:32 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2014 03:13 am (UTC)
Interesting and the chicken part made me laugh.
May. 20th, 2014 05:16 am (UTC)
I'm glad it got a laugh... I was giggling through several parts... it was totally impossible to write this with a straight face, so I'm happy that came through.
May. 20th, 2014 03:58 am (UTC)
Lol. This was ridiculous. Ridiculously awesome. I was most amused.
May. 20th, 2014 05:13 am (UTC)
Well, hey there, stranger! Haven't seen you around these here parts in a while... welcome back, and nice to know you're lurking about. (Will we see you in Second Chance? *bats eyelashes*) I'm so glad you enjoyed this... I always got so much delight out of Fay, so the thought that I made her creator smile totally makes my day! :) (I really need to poke back in on her and see what she's been up to lately!)
(no subject) - blythe025 - May. 20th, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karmasoup - May. 30th, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blythe025 - Jun. 10th, 2014 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karmasoup - Jun. 10th, 2014 07:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - blythe025 - Jun. 10th, 2014 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2014 03:59 am (UTC)
I thought this was great and loved the stage directions so you knew where the characters were. Made it easier to picture the scene.I laughed just imagining this classroom.
May. 20th, 2014 05:18 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm happy to know you could see it. That was the intention, to let the action bring the image to mind. Glad to know it worked.
May. 20th, 2014 09:55 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed this!
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 12:25 am (UTC)
*laughs&applauds* I love the form - so much work - and the twist is clever.
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I had a lot of fun with it! ;)

Edited at 2014-09-30 09:20 pm (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 12:31 am (UTC)
Second-grade civics? I initially thought the kids were smaller than that!
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the excitement about recess and the near temper tantrums sort of suggest younger initially, but that's a bit young to be studying Civics. In 2nd grade, the kids are only 7 - 8, and in my experience working with 7- and 8-yr-olds, there are plenty of things that can set them going off into that semi-regressed mode, including blood sugar and fatigue, so, it fits.

Edited at 2014-09-30 09:39 pm (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 01:37 am (UTC)
This was ridiculously silly and all kinds of fun! I loved the format, even though I'm not familiar with the conventions for screenplays or theater scripts. Good job.
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I figure, since it's "officially" neither (as in, posted here, not given to actors), it probably wouldn't matter that much if I broke the rules a bit. Glad you liked it either way! ;)

Edited at 2014-09-30 09:22 pm (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 05:48 am (UTC)
Between the recess glee and the randomness of so many of the comments, I began to wonder if these were children.

What a great embodiment of a pretend trial carried out by little kids!
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you picked it up... I didn't want to telegraph it completely from the first word, but I also didn't want it to be a total shock, either. I'm glad you enjoyed it! ;)

Edited at 2014-09-30 09:25 pm (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 07:13 am (UTC)
Haha..this was pure FUN...enjoyed it. especially towards the end..all the actions made me giggle..Well done!
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:31 pm (UTC)
Oh, giggles are totally the reason for a piece like this! Glad I got a few out of you. ;) And thanks!
May. 21st, 2014 05:50 pm (UTC)
Loved how the writing made it so easy to see the stage right before my eyes .... It was really a fun piece with lovely twists ... well done ...
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:29 pm (UTC)
You must have a good imagination, then! Glad you could picture it, and thanks! ;)

Edited at 2014-09-30 09:29 pm (UTC)
May. 21st, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
Liked it.

Is the formatting ad hoc or does it follow a standard?

Sep. 30th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
It almost follows a standard for stage plays, though, there are variations, and this one sort of combines the format of a stage play with some of the visual feel of a screenplay.

I should, in actually, have a sort of form where all the character indicators are left aligned, and all the dialogue is left alone a few tabs over, giving it the feel of a sort of Cornell notes chart of who's saying what, with the action in italics left aligned and all the way across creating line breaks in between.

I didn't do that here because it's not that easy to accomplish in the LJ webgui, and this is close enough to get the point across. If I submitted this to a theater group, as is, they'd have no problems making sense of it.
May. 22nd, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC)
This was so fun! Of course, it only really works as a reading... staging it would ruin the ending! :P
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:28 pm (UTC)
Agreed, though it would be fun to see as a cartoon, too, eh? I enjoyed conceptualizing it, and gad a good time putting it out there. Glad you dug it! ;)
May. 22nd, 2014 07:00 pm (UTC)
This entry is both why I try never to substitue early primary early in the year. And why I maintain a mental picture of you in a two sizes two small girl scout outfit in my spank bank at all times.
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:18 pm (UTC)
I like the idea of you as the judge in this piece... I can see you being the type from My Cousin Vinny, which is gobs of mental amusement. As for your spank bank, I won't comment on that, but I will say, at this point, even two sizes too small would still be pretty big... that's what half my closet is anymore.... I either need to hit the gym or go shopping!

Edited at 2014-09-30 09:23 pm (UTC)
May. 22nd, 2014 11:26 pm (UTC)
Uh-oh. I rather thought that might be it. Kids are complicated!
Sep. 30th, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC)
Complicated, yes, but fun, too... so long as you don't let them upstage you! ;)
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