|The Trash Can of L.A. (A Reality Play)|
TILLY ZEACE, a homeless woman, has been approached by OSCAR FISHBEIN, a washed-up screenwriter, to participate in the first segment of TONY THORNTON’s new “reality-based” TV show.
STREET SHOCK, a Unicorn Studio Production, would feature each week a different segment of the underclass. For the first episode, TONY wishes to feature TILLY and other street people in a segment about the homeless; he and a videographer, armed with a hand-held camera, would follow TILLY around as she does what homeless people supposedly do.
TILLY is drawn to this project because she believes that the American public has a skewed view of street life, and she wishes to present another point of view. However, while TONY wants the final product to “feel real” to his audience, he also wants the segment to have a plot, so the studio has hired OSCAR to write up a script, one filled with stereotypes about street people and depicting TILLY as a shabby alcoholic and drug addict who has no choice about her circumstances. However, as OSCAR gets to know TILLY better, he slowly sheds these preconceived notions.
For a time, it seems as though TILLY will be able to present the “real Tilly as street person” to the American public, but a complication presents itself: the DIVINE MS. ALTA UNIVERSE, a “New-Age” guru and the new owner of Unicorn Studios, adds her own agenda to the script; she insists on adding a scene in which TILLY converts to a new-age Christianity and abandons her “evil” life. Adding to this mix, TILLY, in a monologue, reveals that she is not exactly what she appears to be.
In the middle of this muddle, GINGER, a shallow young woman harboring her own secret, shows up on the set and complicates everyone’s life even more, especially TONY’s.
TILLY soon discovers that reality-based TV has its own set of rules, so she must decide whether she wants to play by those rules or retain her unfettered way of life.
But then a dramatic change occurs, affecting each major character in some significant way; even so, this STREET SHOCK episode has limped along through production and is now ready for its debut.
What happens when STREET SHOCK is finally shown to a live audience? Will theatre goers get a genuine glimpse into the life of a homeless woman? What overall commentary does this play impart about American culture and entertainment?
Throughout the play, these questions are addressed, some implicitly and some answered in the “The Wrap.”
For the overall societal implications for our culture, each reader/ playgoer must arrive at his or her own conclusions.