Laying Blame
By Karen Jeynes

The unnamed protagonist of this short play never explains what she has done that needs rationalizing. She shows a series of events from her average childhood and adolescence, but never succeeds in finding anything to explain her unnknown crime.


You want to know what made me do it? You want to know why I'm here today?

I wish I had a good story for you.

I wish I could tell you something tragic so that your world would make sense again.

I wish I could stand here and make excuses.

I wish my life could have been more evil and awful, so that I would have something to blame it on.

I had a - functional family. Purely functional. Father worked full time, mother worked part time, us children went to school and out at night. Our lifestyles were specifically designed so that we didn't have to spend more than an hour at a time in each other's company. That's how we functioned.

I'm normal. I had a happy childhood, give or take. I did ok in school, got a B aggregate. I wasn't cool, but I wasn't a nerd. I'm not bravely religious nor anti-religious I was middle class. I was the middle child. I'm not fat. I'm not ugly. I'm NORMAL! DAMMIT! NORMAL!

You want an excuse?

The dog ate it.

The car broke down.

I forgot.

I left it at home.

I already have plans.

I thought that was what you told me to do.

It was aliens, men from another planet.

I got lost.

My alarm didn't go off.

My computer crashed.

The printer ran out of ink.

I was sick.

I couldn't find my keys.

Your phone was engaged.

I don't have any change.

I already have one of those.

I don't have any money on my cellphone.

The train was late.

It got lost in the post.

That's how it happened. That's why I'm here today. It makes sense, doesn't it? Because most of the world's mistakes aren't huge crashing mistakes, they're tiny little ones, that just add up. Like pulling out the last Jenga block and watching the tower crash onto the table in front of you and knowing that you fucked up. And you know what? While you're busy pulling other blocks out, and managing to balance them, miraculously, no one notices. No one cares. Things are going right, so what? But when you pull that last block out, when everything collapses, then everyone notices. Then everyone knows. And the persons who didn't pull out that particular block, who may have played an equal role in the destruction, they can sit by smugly and watch as you pick up the pieces and build your tower again.

Laying Blame was first performed at The Playroom in Cape Town in 1999, it has since been performed at the Grahamstown Festival, the Cape Town Festival, and JakArt Festival in Indonesia. The full play is available from the playwright, Karen Jeynes.

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