Shades of Blue

By Olivia Briggs

Susan is a sixty-year-old campaign manager for a leading presidential candidate. She is a proud member of the Women's Liberation Movement. As smart as she is hard-headed, her career is everything to her. The play is set in a campaign office in Nevada. Posters, featuring a sophisticated woman in her 50s, above the caption: "Rebuild, Revitalize, Rewind. Bernadette Lang 2016", hang along the walls. Susan stands, facing the audience, scrutinizing the fourth wall. The play begins with her monologue, which is addressed to Emily.


Pick a word. Pick any word that you think makes people feel something. Inspirational, change, creativity, regenerating, liberalizing, creative, growth, improvement, upward mobility, democracy, democracy, democracy. And what have you got? A bunch of concepts. A whole lot of blown out jargon that doesn't really give anyone any real sense of things, anything visual that they can grab onto, wrap their fist around, and say "Yes. I understand that. I can see that and I want it." People just instinctually hear those words and they think "Well, that sounds good," but sounds isn't enough anymore. Sounds doesn't tap into what people want.

So, what do people want? They want security, they want peace, they want their Saturday night cook-out and a bucket of beer. Inane and sedentary, but that's what they want. They want to know they are taken care of, that the sun will shine brightly on them, that at the end of a long day they can still get an ice cream cone and a giggle in front of the boob tube just like they did when they were children. Ah! Now you understand the essence of it, the essence of these people. All they want to do is be little children again, dive back into that burning nostalgia, that rosy sepia that forgave them the obligation to get up and do, to stand up and say, even sit down and think.

So, now think of a word. Think of a word that promises to give that back to them, and what have you got? Hope? No. Change? No. Can? Can? Can? No. No. No. They want a word that promises to take them right back to where they started this little ride. Rewind. Ahhhh. Now, isn't that beautiful. Don't you think?

This monologue is from the ten-minute play Shades of Blue by Olivia Briggs. It is published in the anthology Bottles on the Water and available for purchase from Next Stage Press.

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