By Bruce Shearer

CAST OF CHARACTERS
Bob Dylan, musical legend and survivor
Fan, A music lover who may or may not be a journalist

SETTING
The play is set in a backstage corridor.

SYNOPSIS
A fan or journalist meets Bob Dylan in a backstage corridor and asks him a few questions.

BOB DYLAN IS WALKING DOWN A BACKSTAGE CORRIDOR WHEN A FIGURE STEPS OUT OF THE SHADOWS AND SPEAKS TO HIM.

 Fan: What was it about Donovan that so upset you, Bob?

(BOB STOPS AND ALMOST STEPS BACK.)

Bob: Who are you?

Fan: I’m a fan.

Bob: Not from Rolling Stone?

Fan: We’re all rolling stones, Bob.

(BOB ROLLS HIS EYES)

Bob: Speak for yourself lady/mister.

Fan: I don’t mind trying, but I though that was your job.

Bob: A popular misconception.

(BOB AND THE FAN JUST LOOK AT ONE ANOTHER IN SILENCE UNTIL BOB FINALLY SPEAKS.)

Bob: You’re not from the press?

Fan: Not from anywhere.

Bob: That’s an interesting place.

Fan: You should know.

Bob: I do know.

Fan: Tell me about it.

Bob: I might sometime.

Fan: And Donovan?

(BOB SMILES.)

Bob: Mr. Mellow Yellow.

Fan: The same.

(BOB PAUSES AND THINKS FOR A MOMENT.)

Bob: He irritated me at the time.

Fan: His success, or his modesty?

Bob: It was something.

(THE FAN CHUCKLES.)

Fan: He wasn’t for you. You always went with the best.

Bob: How do you mean?

Fan: The best voice, Joan Baez. The best guitarist, Paul Butterfield. The best band, The Band. The most poignant folk story, Woody Guthrie.
You always touched the top!

(BOB TAKES A STEP AND IS READY TO MOVE PAST.)

Bob: That’s how you see it.

Fan: An unerring sense of the musical gods and the ability to suck them dry.

(BOB STOPS AND POINTS A FINGER AT THE FAN AS HE SNAPS IN ANGER.)

Bob: You’ve got a problem.

(THE FAN SOFTENS HIS/HER VOICE IN A MORE CONCILIATORY TONE.)

Fan: Did I say there was a problem?

Bob: That’s how it sounds to me.

(THE FAN PATS BOB ON THE SHOULDER.)    

Fan: Performing for the masses at the Martin Luther King rally, a duet album with Johnny Cash to capture country, and then headliner with The Travelling Wilburys, a constellation of stars with a jewel in the middle.

(BOB SNIFFS.)

Bob: Things happen.

Fan: Not to other people.

(BOB LOOKS DOWN AT HIS FEET.)

Bob: It’s just where I was standing.

Fan: That’s right, Bob.

(BOB MOTIONS WITH HIS HAND FOR THE FAN TO PAUSE.)

Bob: Is this a lecture? Your own little worldview out on show?

Fan: Might be. Thought I’d see what you thought.

Bob: This is not how I see it!

Fan: It doesn’t actually matter how you see it, Bob.

(THE FAN SMILES.)

    It never did.

Bob: You need your own audience.

Fan: I’ve got one?

(BOB PUTS HIS HEAD BACK AND LAUGHS AT THIS.)

Bob: I’m just a performer who’s lived through some times.

Fan: With that special ability to touch the zenith and then let go, oh so gently.

(BOB ANSWERS WITH A SUSPICIOUS TONE.)

Bob: You do sound like a journalist.

Fan: What if I was just a lover of music?

Bob: What if you were?

Fan: Just offering some feedback.

Bob: I didn’t ask.

Fan: It’s bigger than that, Bob.

Bob: Is it?

(THE FAN BRUSHES BACK HIS/HER HAIR AND SOFTLY SIGHS.)

Fan: You couldn’t just let folk fade quietly. You had to piss all over the ones that loved you best!

(BOB REDDENS WITH ANGER.)

Bob: They had it coming!

Fan: Did they?

Bob: Bogged down, full of crap, afraid of change.

Fan: What about you, Bob?

Bob: What about me?

Fan: What scares you?

(BOB IS ABOUT TO SPEAK OFF THE TOP OF HIS HEAD, BUT THEN PAUSES FOR A MOMENT TO CONSIDER.)

Bob: Too many questions expecting to be answered.

    Too much pondering on the past.

    Way too much celebrity blocking out the music.

(THE FAN IS SURPRISED.)

Fan: Wait on, wait on. It has worked out.

Bob: Has it?

(THE FAN CHUCKLES.)

Fan: You’re the living legend. The ghost that sings.

Bob: I just picked up my cards.

Fan: You knew how to play them.

Bob: No, I got lucky.

Fan: What about all that hard work.

(BOB TALKS WITH PAIN IN HIS VOICE.)

Bob: There are hard working wrecks all over the road.

Fan: Back in the day they used to say . . .

(BOB INTERRUPTS.)

Bob: Enlighten me brother/sister. What did they say . . .?

Fan: You had the spirit shining out of you.

(BOB PAUSES TO CONSIDER THIS AND THEN RESPONDS SOFTLY.)

Bob: Where is it now?

Fan: Only you know.

(LONG PAUSE)

   What’s the secret, Bob?

Bob: That’s easy, friend.

(BOB HUSHES HIS VOICE CONSPIRATORIALLY AND LEANS FORWARD.)

Bob: The secret is . . .

(BOB PAUSES.)

           There is no secret!

(BOB AND THE FAN BOTH LAUGH.)

           Things change.

(PAUSE)

           I have to change.

(BOB HOLDS OUT HIS HANDS.)

           That’s your issue.

Fan: So it is.

(PAUSE)  

  You playing tonight?

Bob: I play every night.

Fan: Is that how you relax?

Bob: I don’t relax.

(BOB SMILES AND TURNS TO LEAVE.)

  I have to go

(THE FAN HOLDS UP A HAND FOR BOB TO PAUSE.)

Fan: One more thing.

(BOB CHUCKLES.)

Bob: Just one?

Fan: Where are the crossroads?

(BOB LAUGHS.)

Bob: They’re all over the place.

(BOB SPEAKS QUICKLY AND SHIVERS.)

    But don’t go there at midnight!

Fan: Isn’t that the time?

Bob: No, it’s too cold.

Fan: Do we all reach our own crossroads, Bob?

   Do you still see them out of the crack of the window in the black limousine?

(PAUSE)

Bob: I don’t answer difficult questions, I just pose them.

Fan: It must be lonely.

Bob: It is.

(THE FAN REACHES OUT AND TAKES BOB’S HAND.)

Fan: It just doesn’t quite add up.

Bob: It never does.

(THE FAN SPEAKS SOFTLY.)

Fan: I guess this is off the record.

Bob: You take it and use it any way you can.

Fan: Just like you did, Bob.

Bob: Just like I did?

Fan: It’s a hard way.

(BOB SMILES.)

           But it’s the only way.

Fan: Good luck tonight

Bob: I thank you.

Fan: But you don’t need it.

Bob: I don’t?

Fan: No, you had a lot of things going, good fortune included, mostly talent and daring, but definitely nothing like that.

Bob: You might be right.

Fan: I might be.

(PAUSE)

Bob: Fare thee well.

Fan: You always had the words, old new and reinvented.

Bob: I have to go.

(FAN HOLDS BOB’S ELBOW FOR A MOMENT.)

Fan: Can you explain it, Bob?

Bob: Explain it?

(THERE IS A LONG PAUSE WHILE BOB AND THE FAN LOOK AT ONE ANOTHER.)

Fan: You know what I mean.

(BOB CHUCKLES.)

Bob: Only in a song!

(BOB WALKS AWAY AND THEN LIGHTS GO DOWN.)


Bruce Shearer is a Melbourne writer of poems, plays and short -stories.