Thursday, December 9, 2021

She's Leaving Home - A Play in Four Acts

The Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home” is the story of a girl who runs away abruptly, leaving only “the note that she hoped would say more.” It’s based on the true story of Melanie Coe, a teenager from London whose account is told in counterpoint to the lament of her parents: “We gave her most of our lives/ Sacrificed most of our lives/ We gave her everything money could buy.” The song captures what, at the time, was headline news, the “generation gap.” The track has an abiding realism because it helps us to understand a lack of mutual understanding and the diversity of family life. Conceived by Paul McCartney, the Greek chorus of ennui was added by Lennon based on the stereotypical sayings of his Aunt Mimi. The track has inspired this “play” of interconnected songs, an exercise in realism.

ACT 1 – She’s Leaving Home
INT: A London row house. Melanie creeps downstairs with a carpetbag, a plane ticket in hand, skipping over the creaky stair, then quietly locking the back door. Mother hears the door latch, picks up a letter slipped under the door, and wakes Father.
Mother: Daddy, our baby’s gone.
Father (with a furrowed brow): How could she treat us so thoughtlessly?
Mother (tears in her eyes): We never thought of ourselves.
Father (less sorrowful): We struggled hard all our lives…
ACT 2 – All I Want
CUT TO: The California desert. Melanie is hitchhiking across America. She wears a gauze dress in the style of the day and stands on the road near a dusty gas station with her thumb out.
Melanie (thinking but out loud): I am on a lonely road and I am traveling. Looking for something. What? What can it be?
A young man in a pickup truck stops. He says he can take her as far as Pearblossom. She falls asleep and when she awakens the sun has set. They stop at a country bar. He buys her a drink.
Young Man (slurring his words): Do you want, do you want, do you wanna dance with me, baby?
She shakes her head
Young Man: Take a chance, baby, maybe find some sweet romance. Come on.
She pulls away. Next door is the Greyhound Depot.
ACT 3 – 12:30
EXT: The Laurel Canyon Country Market. Melanie is sitting on the step eating a sandwich. People come and go. Each smiling or saying “hello.”
Melanie (thinking but out loud): At first so strange to feel so friendly, to say "Good morning," and really mean it.
Melanie: Good Morning
Hippie Girl Just Like Her: Hi. Beautiful morning.
Melanie: It ‘tis.
Hippie Girl: Love your accent.
Hippie Girl (walking away, singing to herself): Young girls are coming to the canyon.
The Hippie Girls turns and looks at Melanie who smiles.
Melanie (singing in-kind): And in the morning I can see them walking.
ACT 4 – Love Street
INT: The next day. She wakes up on a strange couch. There’s another girl across the room. A young man is teaching her chords on a guitar. There is the smell of bacon.
Another young man looks up from the kitchen and smiles.
Young Man: Hungry?
The first Young Man takes the guitar from the girl.
Young Man With Guitar (singing): I see you live on Love Street./ There's this store where the creatures meet./ I wonder what they do in there?
The Young Man from the kitchen comes into the living room and gives her a plate with eggs, toast, and bacon.
Young Man From the Kitchen: So, what do you think?
He smiles.
Melanie: I guess I like it fine.
She returns the smile.
Melanie: So far.

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