Performed by Diane Rodriguez and James Mercer on September 9, 2017 at the Phase Two Opening of “Philadelphia Assembled” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Perelman Building, on its stairs.
A cups his/her hand to ear. Long pause.
B: C’mon. Let’s check out the exhibition.
B quickly begins to move away.
B (CONT’D): What are you doing?
B: For whom?
A: My Neighbor.
B: OK. Do I know him or her?
A: I’m not sure.
B: Well, who is it?
A: I told you. It’s my Neighbor.
B: I guess I have a few minutes.
A: Nice day, huh?
B: Indeed. I was afraid it would rain today, but then I thought of those poor people in Houston.
A: Me too.
B: It doesn’t matter. We’re here.
A: I feel guilty that I even complained.
B: Don’t feel guilty. We’re human after all, and of course we’re not perfect. We
A: I’d like to think so.
B: What does that mean?
B: You’re snarky.
A: I’m honest.
B: And I’m not?
A: You’re all excited about this exhibition.
B: Aren’t you?
A: I’m excited that I’ll see my Neighbor’s work.
B: And, this is a huge event. A real milestone. The Parkway’s celebrating its
centennial. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is in the middle of its first public art
project. It’s a good place to be on the planet. Right here. Right now. Sovereignty, Reconstruction! Futures! Sanctuary! Movement!
A: Heavy concepts. And yes that’s all nice and very ambitious, but---
B: But what? I don’t like whiners.
A: Look. Look over there.
A points across the street to the dog park.
B: It’s a dog park.
A: Did you see the statue?
B: I guess.
A: My Neighbor has been involved in this project for months. This is a great project. But face it, some things don’t change permanently. They just morph into something else.
B: What is this, a philosophy lesson? You can tell me more inside.
A: Let’s wait for my Neighbor. It won’t be long. My Neighbor is always on time.
B: Unlike you.
A: I’m on time. I wasn’t late.
B: You were.
A: How could I be late? I just met you. Don’t be rude.
B: I’m not. You’re waiting, and then you start talking about a dog park.
A: It’s the statue. It’s the statue. You know that statue is entitled something like “TheGatekeepers Night Dog”. Disgusting.
B: Why is that disgusting? You don’t like dogs?
A: I don’t like thinking about the way dogs were used to intimidate and track down people to own them…or to kill them. That statue’s a symbol of when rich people forbade poor people from hunting. Can you imagine that? And, if they hunted, they could be killed. Legally.
B: That is pretty harsh. So, you probably want to take it down.
A: Now that you mention it. That’s not such a bad idea.
B: You want the dog park to turn into Charlottesville. We have enough trouble right now with the Rizzo statue. Where are you getting these ideas?
A: Ideas? I’m talking about objects. Things. Material things. Like the façade.
B: I like the Perelman Building. It’s elegant. The limestone is pretty.
A: Yes, but there’re swastikas on the gate. I don’t like that.
B: They’re ancient Eastern religious symbols. They weren’t bad when they were put there. The Perelman is an old building….old for America anyway. It was built in the 20s, before the Nazis hijacked the symbol and turned it into a symbol of hate, and…
A: Off we went into the moral abyss we never seem able to avoid!!!!!!
B: So we should tear it down? Replace it? I like the architecture. Doesn’t intention count for anything?
A: Of course intention counts, but we can’t peg our fate on ‘intention’ now can we?
A and B engage one another in a staring contest.
B: Are you ready?
A: My Neighbor will be here shortly.
B: I know I’ve heard that somewhere before. What are you doing now?
A cups his/her hand to ear. Pause.
B: To what?
A: For what. Can’t you hear it?
B: No. Hear what?
A: The Fat Lady singing.
B: Stop it!
A: I never thought I’d see this day. A grassroots public art exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
B: Well you have, and you are. We’re wasting time. C’mon.
A speaks to Neighbor A---anyone in the vicinity.
B: Do you know that person? Is that your Neighbor?
B: Why were you talking to them?
A: Why weren’t you talking to them?
B: I don’t know them.
A: Neither do I.
B : I’m tired of waiting for your Neighbor.
A: You’re tired of waiting? The community has been waiting for something like this since the museum opened.
B: Save your sarcasm. I don’t want to hear what wasn’t done. Not today.
A: When did you become such a PMA cheerleader?
B: You say that like it’s a bad thing.
A: No. You are vey enthusiastic. Admit it.
B: OK. I’m enthusiastic.
A speaks to a Neighbor B---anyone in the vicinity.
B: You--with the cupped ear again? Maybe the Fat Lady is singing inside.
A: Maybe so.
B: Then it’s not over?
A: No. First my Neighbor has to come.
B begins to walk away. A quickly follows.
B: You’re waiting for some Neighbor and talking to strangers.
A: They’re not strangers. They’re Neighbors.
B: Your Neighbor?
A: Well no. My Neighbor is a Just Neighbor.
B: We’ve been waiting for the wrong Neighbor? Oh God..It’s--
A: No. My Neighbor isn’t God.
B: What are you going on about? You’re not making sense.
A: To whom? Why do I have to make sense?
B: Are you waiting for your Neighbor? I mean your ‘Just Neighbor, or not?
A: Or not.
They walk away.