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A Streetcar Named Rangzen

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Sunday, Sep 19, 2010
5 Comments

ACTORS: 4 main characters, few passengers who won’t distract the story, a streetcar driver
PROPS: A bus stop pole. 8-10 Chairs to stimulate a streetcar. Tibetan flags and placards, coats and muffler, and woolen hat with Tibetan national flag logo.
SOUND: recording of streetcar opening and closing, recording of announcement of next stop, recording of Tibetan protest rising in crescendo at the end. Mike should be wireless and attached to the actors. If not possible, actors would have to take the mike stand with them.
LIGHT: Spotlights to move the story in different phases. If not available, then actors simply freeze when they are out of the scene.

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[Tenzin is waiting at the bustop. He is dressed for office and his hair is gelled to perfection. He is cold and jumps a little bit to warm himself. A little later, sonam and his friends arrive at the streetcar stop talking and complaining about the cold.]

Tenzin — Hey Sonam, wats up, dude?
Sonam — Hey hey… you waiting for the streetcar too?
Tenzin — No, I just like standing in the cold. Duh! of course I am waiting for the streetcar. [hits Sonam on the shoulder] Just kidding.
Sonam — Oh, you are so funny. NOT! It was a rhetorical question.
Tenzin — Haha. I know but I just wanted to mess with you. Hey, wasn’t that party fantastic on thursday night?
Sonam — Yeah, I really liked it. I am glad you told me about it. You were so drunk..haha that was so funny.
Tenzin — Hahaha… I know. I knew it was going to be great. That is why I called in sick that day. That girl I was hitting on, I think her name is Lobsang. She wouldn’t give me her number. Dang! she was acting so expensive.
Sonam — Why would she? You repeated your name like 5 times and you were slurring all the way. [imitates him]Hitting on girl while drunk, so not working. Hahaha
Tenzin — Oh my god. I didn’t realize I was so messed up. I hope I don’t see her for a few days. It would be embarrassing.
Sonam — Too late, dude. She is going to be at the protest. She is the SFT director. Hahaha.
Tenzin — What protest?

[then he notices the flags, and the hat]

Sonam — What do you mean what protest? March 10 of course. I thought you were going there too. You got to be kidding me!
Tenzin — Ohh… I forgot today was march 10th. Oh well, it doesn’t matter anyway, I don’t go to these lame protest anyway. Always shouting at empty buildings and no results.
[Sonam looked annoyed and his friends were shifting their feet uncomfortably and not liking the talk]
Sonam — You shouldn’t say that, man. We are going to the protest and we don’t think it is lame. It is our responsibility as a Tibetan to at least show up for march 10th protest even if you can’t do anything else for our society. Honestly, I am quite disappointed that you should think so, especially since I consider you quite educated. Even if you feel that way, you shouldn’t say that to people who actually take the time to go there. Do you think we enjoy walking around in –20 degree for 5-6 hours?

[Tenzin is a little annoyed that Sonam brought up his education and intelligence]

Tenzin — Look, Sonam, I like you and I don’t want to discourage you. But honestly, it is total waste of time. Look at how many people show up at these rallies? We have 5000 Tibetans in Toronto but less than 500 show up for protest every year for march 10. But new year’s party and losar party, ohhhh, we have few thousand show up. Get the picture? Nobody cares. Not Tibetans, Not Canadians, not the world. We are just shouting at empty buildings and freezing our asses off.

[One of Sonam's friend, Jordan, is visibly agitated and seen shaking his head in disgust ]

Jordan — Forget him, Sonam. We have too many of these guys.
Tenzin — Look, I am sorry but I am telling you the hard truth. Nobody cares. You think you protesting on the street is going to get you Rangzen?
Sonam — Jordan, it is ok. Look, Tenzin, this protest is not really about whether we get Rangzen today or next year or the year after that….

[Jordan is visibly agitated and interrupts Sonam again]

Jordan — So, are you saying Tibetans in Tibet who rose up on March 10th last year and died for our country are lame and stupid? Did you care about that? Oh educated professor…

[Jordan makes a mocking kowtow motion and Tenzin just sneers]

Tenzin — When did I say that?. Of course Tibetans in Tibet sacrificed quite a lot and risked their lives everytime they protest. I am just saying nobody here cares.
Jordan — The question is do you care?
Tenzin — What does it matter if I care or not, you got to be realistic and pragmatic and look at the world.
Jordan — Realistic? The real issue here is you are hiding behind words while we are at least trying to do something. How is that for reality?

[Bhuti quickly got in between Jordan and Tenzin and chimed in but in a very diplomatic way]

Bhuti — Tenzin la, I understand your frustration and I am sure you have actually attended number of rallies yourself [Tenzin relaxes a little bit and Jordan sulks off to the edge of the crowd]. But if young smart educated people like you don’t attend and leave the protest to few grandmas and grandpas, of course there is not going to be much result. Don’t you think? I feel a little discouraged when I hear such things.

[Tenzin was a little embarrassed now and didn't know what to say and Sonam sensing his predicament pats him on his shoulders]

Sonam — Tenzin, don’t take it to your heart. Jordan is a little hothead sometimes but he lost his sister during march 2008 Olympics protest in Tibet. So,you understand his anger. It is not directed at you. You just happen to set it off.

[Tenzin is really embarrassed now, understanding why Jordan was cross with him]

Tenzin — Oh. Jordan la, I am sorry. I didn’t know. I shouldn’t have been so careless with my words. Sometimes you get so frustrated. I didn’t mean it that way. ok?

[Jordan just gestures that it is fine but still didn't look at him]

Sonam — You know it is not just about Rangzen. Actually it is much more than that. First of all, we are connecting with our fellow Tibetans in one goal, something common that we share; our history, culture and country. That is very important when you are in a foreign country and you are a minority and that same goal and aspiration keeps us connected and gives us a sense of purpose and creates a community. We are doing something together, for Tibet, for….

[Bhuti cuts in]

Bhuti — He is right. Don’t you feel something in your heart when you see our flag marching down the street? We are also making sure that we don’t forget our history and the injustice that brought us here. Tibetans in Tibet die for this simple protest that you call “LAME’ and I honestly feel we in the free world should at least devote one single day in a year to protest. We don’t even have to fear bullets or prison like our brethreans in Tibet. Just a little bit of cold for a few hours. is that asking too much?
Tenzin — I already said I regret saying that. I didn’t mean it that way. I apologize.
Bhuti — Sorry, It just came out.
Sonam — Most of all, we are educating our children who look up to us. We are in fact teaching them about their history, culture, and where they came from. We are passing on an idea to the next generation. An idea that we don’t have to cower in shame and cowardice and we can rise up against a mighty country. That it is an honest struggle, a struggle that is worth fighting for. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, that is not the most
important lesson here, it matters that we at least try; that we stand up for justice in this world. In sociology, it is called Meme. Or is it biology…

[He looks at Bhuti who just shrugs her shoulder]

[Just then the streetcar pulled up. And they filed in and sat together. Sonam and Tenzin in the front. Bhuti and Jordan at the back. Few others on the other side of the aisle by not necessary]

Sonam — Anyway, as I was saying, basically we are planting the seed in their head that we have a country called Tibet and each time we do that, we are passing a piece of our dream. We are teaching them that our country was forcefully taken away from us by China, and it is unjust. Tibetan cause is not just theory for them anymore, they can walk it, breathe it, and feel cold in it. They will always remember that they walked with their parents, their brothers and sisters, together, for a good cause. we are…

[Again Bhuti interrupts]

Bhuti — Yeah! we are teaching them that we should rise up against injustice and oppression. That truth and justice has value. I used to remember going to protest when I was a little kid in Dharamshala. I didn’t understand what was going on but I knew China took our country and we are protesting. I used to feel so important shouting with the grownups and they gave me a lot of candy. Most of the time, I would fall asleep coming back and Dad will carry me in his arms. I still remember how important I felt. Do you think that is a m’amm, mumb, what was it again?
Sonam — Meme…it is called meme. See, she remembers going to these demonstrations and just like her there are many Tibetans who got this dream passed down from their parents. It is almost like a genetic code, a social gene that is passed down from generation to generation. You can call it passing of dreams and ideas.
Bhuti — Like INCEPTION!! Have you seen that movie yet? It is awsomeeeee! .

[Tenzin looked puzzled as he still hadn't heard much about the movie]

Bhuti — What? You don’t know about Inception! OMG! Which planet do you live on? Ok, this is what happens in the movie..it is like Matrix, but like a dream…
Sonam — Bhuti please. You are going off topic again. I told you you keep doing that. And besides, I haven’t seen the movie yet, so don’t ruin it for us. Right, Jordan?
Jordan — [Jordan finally broke his silence] Yeah, we are going to watch it this weekend.
Tenzin — Jordan la, I am sorry about your sister and I shouldn’t have said something like that carelessly.
Jordan — [Jordan finally relaxes and shakes his hand] It is ok. I know you didn’t mean it that way and I am sorry I snapped at you.
Tenzin — You know it is really frustrating. I used to come quite a bit and then I got disheartened when I see only few Tibetans show up and I just gave up. I said to myself we don’t deserve our country with an attitude like this. But I must say I was very shortsighted and seeing people like you gives me confidence in our struggle.
Sonam — I remember you were always in the protest when we were back in school. Frankly, I used to look up to you, Tenzin. [Tenzin smiled a little bit remembering back] I know that person is still in there somewhere.
Tenzin — Yeah, I remember. I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I got lost thinking about my own interest all the time and then all the frustration all those years…

Sonam — I know. [pats him on the shoulder]. I have gone through that too. [Tenzin looks at him]. I guess we all go through that. I used to think it was useless and it is better if we forget about it. Then one day I was watching TV and they were showing the March 10th protest. They were only a handful of Tibetan protesters there and most of them were older people. I remember this reporter trying to find somebody to interview and she couldn’t find anybody. Finally, she went to this old lady and started asking her questions about why we were protesting. The old lady started to say something in broken english and then she looked around for help and finding no one, she stared silently at the lens. Then she cried. It was as if her heart just broke right there on the 6 O’clock news. At first, I felt angry that there was nobody there to speak for her and then it slowly dawned on me that the reason there wasn’t somebody out there was because I was sitting here. Me and People like me who can speak but chose not to go, Who are educated in best schools but we think we was just too important for a small protest like this and it is for people from Tibet and those who are simpletons. I guess I secretly thought I was too good for that. I was ashamed to be uncool and kept lying to myself that I am working on a solution that will take care of Tibet issue within a month. [shakes his head in embarrassment] I realized then I was just trying to justify my own insecurity. I had never felt that kind of shame in my entire life. I decided right then I was going to show up at least for March10 every year no matter where I am; for my people, for those grandmas and grandpas, for our brothers and sisters who cannot speak, for those little kids walking in the cold winter. And most of all, for myself

[there was a long silence. Tenzin was still looking at Sonam who quickly wiped a tear at the edge of his eyes]

Tenzin — yeah..I..I.

[he then didn't say anything and looked straight ahead lost in his own thoughts]

[THE SCENE IS FROZEN. THE LIGHT SLOWLY FADES]

[INTERLUDE, MUSIC, the light focuses on someone who recites the poem with a slow beat at the background]
[ video of protest in Tibet (silent) or slide shows on the wall as the recitation starts]

The angels are falling
The angels are falling
They are falling all around me
Will you listen to me, brother?
Will you listen to me, sister?
The angels are falling for you and me

[slide show of Drapchi 14 nuns]

I saw their wings with bullet holes
I saw the wounds deep inside their souls
They did not ask for you by name
But I think they sang a song for you.
Can you hear them in the distance?
Can you remember them from your past?
Will you stand up from your sofa?
Will you throw the pizza down?

[The song Rangzen by Rangzen Shonu chorus rises in crescendo and fades for the next line]

The angels are falling
The angels are falling
They are falling all around me
Will you listen to me, brother?
Will you listen to me, sister?
The angels are falling for you and me

[Slide show of Nangpa La on the screen]

I saw them at the mountain pass
I saw them fall in somebody’s dream
They are praying knee deep in the snow
They are praying you do not forget them
Five thousand miles they searched for you
On a wind horse they wrote to you
Will you stand up from your sofa?
Will you put the remote down?

[Rangzen chorus rises in cresdo again and fades]

The angels are falling
The angels are falling
They are falling all around me
Will you listen to me, brother?
Will you listen to me, sister?
The angels are falling for you and me

[Now the full song plays or partial song plays and the light fades on the recital with the song]

[THE LIGHT FADES ON THE RECITAL. AND THE LIGHT SHINES ON THE PASSENGERS AGAIN. The streetcar announces Queens Park and they got up to go]

Sonam — Hey, Tenzin, sorry I got a little angry before. I didn’t mean it. ok?
Bhuti — Tenzin, sorry if we upset you. Bye.
Jordan — [he just smiled a little and gave an awkward pat on Tenzin's shoulder and left]
Tenzin — It is Ok, see you guys.

[Tenzin sat there lost in thoughts and watched his friends walk away huddled together against the cold, pulling their coats close and a deep sadness came over him. Freeze action for Sonam and his group and only the people in the streetcar will be animated. The streetcar closes and then Tenzin jumps up suddenly and yells at the top of his lung.]

Tenzin — FREE TIBET!!!! FREE TIBETT!!

[it startles the other passengers but it didn't matter to Tenzin. The streetcar had started moving slowly and now stopped as the driver wasn't sure what happened and wanted to make sure everybody was ok.]

Driver — Is everything ok?
Tenzin — YES! everything is fine now. Can you please open the door for me. It is urgent.
Driver —Are you ok?
Tenzin — I am now. Can you please open the door for me.

[he left the streetcar and the driver just shrugs in puzzlement]
[Now the streetcar is frozen and the Sonam, Bhuti, and Jordan are animated.]

Tenzin — Hey! Wait up!
Sonam — What! Tenzin..are you coming with us?

[tenzin gestures for Bhuti to hold on while he reaches in his pocket and calls a number]
[Bhuti and Jordan smiled broadly at each other while still clutching their winter coats]

Bhuti — Who you calling?
Tenzin — I am calling in sick.
Sonam — Didn’t you call sick just two days ago?
Tenzin — Yeah. But if I can call in sick for a lame party, I am sure I can call in sick for March 10, don’t you think?

[they all laughed]

Tenzin — Wait, quickly, what excuse should I give today. His answering machine will turn on soon.
Bhuti — You have a stomach ache?
Tenzin — I already used that Thursday.
Sonam — Now tell him the stomach ache has moved to your head this time.

[bhuti started laughing]

Tenzin — Come on guys, help me out fast
Bhuti — Your dog died?
Jordan — Your neighbor lost your sofa?
Sonam — Your wife ran away with the milkman?

[they all laugh while Tenzin stood there with an annoyed look]

Tenzin — Guys! this is not helping.

[The actors walk off stage. Sound of protest is heard for 30-60 seconds. Then the Rangzen Music starts again and the actors come back on stage and bows to the audience]

THE END.

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