by Olivia Lilley
Setting: Kedzie & Diversey, 2015 while also 2020
A 26 year old Iranian Irish girl with an asymmetrical haircut and plastic Palm Tree earrings stands in her window at Thank You takeout at Lost Lake. We will refer to her as 26. She gazes across the street at JJ Peppers. This is what she normally does when she hasn’t had a customer in twenty minutes.
A 31 year old Iranian Irish girl with long hair, wearing two different patterns, one on a long straight skirt and one on a top that lets her midriff peekaboo. We will refer to her as 31. She comes up to Palm Tree girl. She looks up at the menu to her left hanging up on the wall. Palm Tree girl becomes alert.
26: What can I get you?
31: Do you currently have the Mapo Tofu?
26: Not right now. We have the Dry Chili Chicken.
31: I’ll take that. And the Masubi? Is it late enough for- Ah shit 11:45pm.
26: I can ask.
26 disappears into the kitchen. 31 waits. She eyes the drinks, trying to decide if she wants to buy a Marz Lost Lake beer for old times sake (even though she gave up beer in 2018).
26: They’ll make it for you.
31: I’ll take 3.
26: Awesome. Anything else?
31: No. I’m okay. Not tonight.
26: ***Says amount***
31 hands her debit card. 26 rings her in with no trouble. 31 signs.
31: Do you see anything interesting from here? Like out on the street?
26: I saw a car drive straight through that window at JJ Peppers once.
31: Damn! Really? Robbery?
26: I don’t know. I also saw a very tan jacked man who had gotten thrown out of the bar try and fight our bar manager Erin. This was a Saturday night. He was standing right there. He was wearing flip-flops. We called him flip-flops.
31: That happens a lot? People getting kicked out?
26: No. Not a lot. MORE often now that it’s blowing up Lost
26 & 31: Lakeview
31: I’ve heard. I live up in Avondale. Luckily the Logan Square gossip travels that far north.
26: Oh yeah? Where in Avondale?
31: Addison and Kedzie. I run a theatre there.
26: Oh really? I’m a director. I have a show opening next month.
31: Oh shit really? (playing dumb, of course she knows who this is)
26: It’s called The Party House. I got my friend drunk and convinced him to let me rent his house for 3 months to build this show. It opens in Early September. September 4th, I think. Do you wanna come? I’ll comp you.
31: I’d love that! What’s your contact information?
26: I currently don’t have a business card but I can write down my email.
26 pulls out a napkin and writes down her email. 31 takes it.
26: So how long have you been running your theatre?
31: 2 years. My first freelance job was for this theatre
26: No shit!
31: Yeah I had had a hit at their fringe festival so they commissioned me to make a new hour long dance musical for them
26: That’s awesome!
31: And then they liked working with me so much I went to pitch them another project and they asked me to be Artistic Director
26: That’s the dream. DAMN. Congrats. Your work must be awesome
31: I love what I do. You should come see my next show. I’ll return the favor
26: I’d love that!!! I will have to come on a weekday evening though I work weekends
31: Of course. I’ll hook you up.
26: When is your next show?
31: Well. That’s a complicated question. It was postponed.
26: Money fell through?
31: No. Actually. It was more of a National Disaster.
31: Don’t worry about it.
26: I’m sorry about that.
31: I think it’s for the best actually. Yeah. The show will get more timely with age. The universe is saying something. I should listen. And it’s not like I’ve stopped working.
26: Yeah? What else are you working on?
31: My debut feature film as a Writer / Director is in financing.
31: And I’m directing a musical.
26: A musical? I used to be a composer/lyricist for musical theatre.
31: It’s a devised musical. That’s cool. That’s also where I started out.
26: Woah really?
26: So when you saw High School Musical you also felt called out by that Kelsey character.
31: I never thought I’d be a stereotype.
26: That’s what I say to myself ALL THE TIME. Wowwww, so why’d you quit?
31: Because musical theatre is a cis gay white men monopoly. And I knew there was so much more to what I can do.
26: That’s great. Do you mind if I write that down?
31: Not at all.
26 scribbles down what she said on a napkin and puts it in her pocket. A dinging bell comes from the kitchen. 26 exits into the kitchen like clockwork. She emerges with 31’s food.
26: *handing 31 the food* Let’s keep in touch please? I really wanna hear more about your feature. And your work as a director
31: I’m a writer/director. And yes I will email you
26: I also WROTE the party house but like- I mainly direct but I loooove writing
31: You should do more of it
26: I do write a lot. I write everything down that everyone says. Well that’s an exaggeration
31: That’s a great start
26: And I’m writing a trilogy. The Party House is part 1. I figured if I wanted to write other people’s stories I’d first have to figure out how to write my own
31: Yes Girl Yes That’s… right
26: You don’t think I’m like a narcissist?
31: No I think you’re acting with reverence. You wanna do justice to other people’s stories. First you gotta write your own. That makes so much sense
31: YES. Girl Keep going You’re on the road to something great Trust me I’m gonna be watching for what you do
26: I won’t let you down
31: I know I’m not expecting you too (heads towards the door)
26: Wait. What’s your name?
26: What the fuck? Me too!!!!!!
31 opens the door.
31: What’s up?
26: Where’d you get your confidence? Have you just always been like that?
31: I’ve been in the game a long time.
31: Oh and a LOT of press. A LOT. There was a time where my whole life felt like a fucking circus.
26: What’s that like?
31: You get used to it?
26: Enjoy your food!
31: I fucking will. This is my fucking favorite. I haven’t had it for years. Nice to meet you!
26: It was great to meet you too I cannot wait to see your work
31: Stop by the theatre. Anytime. We’ll have coffee
26: What’s it called
31: Prop Thtr
26: Rad I’ll wait for your email
31 exits. 26 watches her go. 26 pulls out another few napkins. She writes down what she remembers from the conversation. Another kitchen ding. 26 opens the door. She yells. They’re not here yet. She goes back to writing as fast and as thoroughly as she can.
About the Author
Olivia Lilley is a director, writer, and producer. Her work runs the gamut from irreverent takes on classic texts (Faust: Save me or I’ll die, Neverland) to biographical (The Party House, In Sarah’s Shadow) to new plays that tackle contemporary intersectional issues (Mary Shelley Sees The Future, The Winter & The Whiskey, Expectations [for little mixed girls]). Lilley is the founding artistic director of the Runaways Lab Theater (voted Best New Theater Company by Chicago Reader in 2014). Lilley is the creative director of Pop Magic Productions, an artistic associate with Pivot Arts, and the artistic director of Prop Thtr. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy for music composition and received her BFA in directing from Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.