Scene. An empty lecture hall, stage, or an open space. RACHEL, a scientist researching the impact of bisphenol A on Bantam chickens, has entered a science competition requiring her to act out her research topic in pantomime. Enlisting the help of a friend, CARLSON, to help her with the “dance” performance, CARLSON’S reluctance is countered by RACHEL’s enthusiasm for the competition.
RACHEL: (pointing to the script) Just read it.
CARLSON: (in disbelief) Why did I let you talk me into this?
RACHEL: (insisting) Read it.
CARLSON: I’m not even sure I understand what it means.
RACHEL: (confidently) It resonates. It’s the perfect preamble to the dance and my research.
CARLSON: And that’s another story—the dance?! I really think you should go solo with this.
RACHEL: (unmoved) No. It has to be a “Step for Two,” those are the rules. Now, read it.
CARLSON: Okay. Here it goes: (he reads) “Life cannot wait until the sciences have explained the universe scientifically….Life is fired at us point blank.”–Jose Ortega y Gasset
RACHEL: Perfect. Now in Spanish.
RACHEL: One of the judges is a Spanish biologist. It might improve my score.
CARLSON: (again, he reads) “La vida no puede esperar a que las ciencias expliquen científicamente el Universo…. La vida nos es disparada a quemarropa.”
RACHEL: (instructive) Bien. Now, the dance.
CARLSON: You know, we can’t put off living, but no one is making us dance.
RACHEL: Quit complaining. So, this is the way it goes. You’ll step out on the stage and deliver the Gasset quote. Afterwards, I’ll walk out dressed like a chicken, and stand on your right side, like this. (She moves to his right side.) Once I’m in place, you announce my research title.
CARLSON: Why can’t you announce it? It’s your project.
RACHEL: I’m not supposed to speak. It’s one of the rules.
CARLSON: So, there you are, standing on my right, a chicken.
CARLSON: (unconvinced) And, I’m your dance partner.
CARLSON: Representing a….molecule?
RACHEL: An endocrine disruptor.
CARLSON: Okay, a disruptor.
CARLSON: (skeptically) What am I wearing?
RACHEL: (without reservation) Well, I thought, maybe, nothing.
CARLSON: (also, without reservation) Think again.
RACHEL: A loin cloth?
CARLSON: (offers an alternative) How about a sheet?
RACHEL: Okay. A sheet. Or, better yet, maybe a large plastic bottle.
CARLSON: (not amused) You want me to wear a large plastic bottle?
RACHEL: That would be great.
CARLSON: This is what happens to people when they stay locked in a science lab all day. I’ll wear a sheet.
RACHEL: Fine. (instructing) State the title.
CARLSON: Here we go.
RACHEL: Speak loudly.
CARLSON: Okay. (He steps forward to deliver the title.) “Endocrine Disruptor in the Masculinization of the Non-Migratory Female Bearded, Booted Bantam.”
CARLSON: Why don’t you just say chicken?
RACHEL: A like the alliteration. Now, the dance. Let’s rehearse. (But first, she sets the stage.) I’m in a garden, calm, serene, a female bantam, stepping lightly, but deliberately, soaking in the sunshine, pecking at a spread of fresh shelled corn and roasted soybeans, garnished with a splash of oats and alfalfa, and a hint of fish meal.
CARLSON: Yum, yum.
RACHEL: I’m thinking I might need to lay an egg any minute now, but then you arrive.
CARLSON: The endocrine disruptor.
RACHEL: Right. Bisphenol A or BPA.
CARLSON: And how does BPA move?
RACHEL: Well, you have to think like a molecule.
CARLSON: A molecule?
&RACHEL: Right. You’ve got to think like a nasty little monomer, a molecule, found in polycarbonates.
CARLSON: That doesn’t help. Polycarbonates?
RACHEL: Or plastic bottles.
CARLSON: Forget it. So, I’m thinking… (taking matters into his own hands) I’m kind of gangling, loose, and bloated like.
RACHEL: (supportive) Right, that might work.
CARLSON: Kind of like an alien creature.
CARLSON: With a bobble head and octopus-like tentacles.
RACHEL: You’ve got it. Let’s do the dance. I’m in the garden pecking away at food. You enter.
[The dance begins. The Bantam pecks and steps with a decidedly feminine movements. The BPA surrounds her a time or two and then finally engulfs her in his arms. When the Bantam is released, she pecks and steps with decidedly masculine movements—the endocrine disruptor has altered the hormonal makeup of the Bantam—the dance ends with the disruptor floating away leaving the Bantam crowing like a rooster.]
RACHEL: What do you think?
CARLSON: Could I be more humiliated? Is that possible?
RACHEL: So, it’s not a production of Swan Lake, but it gets the point across.
CARLSON: It seems so…so.
RACHEL: Scientists need to relieve pressure, you know; we need a little escape.
CARLSON: Some people go to the movies.
End of Scene