Evan Baughfman
×

Warning

JUser: :_load: Unable to load user with ID: 573

Uncaged

Sharks terrify me, but I find them to be very interesting.  This play is inspired by real-life shark conservationist, Rodney Fox.

Rodney Fox, a man much braver than I.  And I doubt he really speaks to sharks like this.

 

Synopsis:

From behind the safety of his observation cage, inventor and great white shark conservationist, Rodney Fox, recounts his past experience with the animal, along with giving facts, and dispelling misconceptions, about the beast. Meanwhile, the hungry great white tells the audience what’s really on her mind.

 

Characters:

RODNEY FOX, the inventor of the shark observation cage

GREAT WHITE SHARK, the ocean’s hungry apex predator

 

“UNCAGED”

(Lights up on RODNEY FOX dressed all in black. He wears a snorkel mask or water goggles over his eyes, gloves on his hands. There are also flippers on his feet, or he could be barefoot. A backpack on his back represents an oxygen tank. A duffel bag lies at his feet.

(FOX stands in the center of a circle of chairs, which represent a cage protecting him from… something…FOX slowly turns inside the “cage,” checking his surroundings, above, below, behind him.)

 

FOX

Come on, where are you, girl?   Got you tagged. Water’s not that murky. I know you’re here. You sensed me from miles away.

 

(Then, FOX sees something approaching in the distance.)

 

FOX

There you are. Come to Papa.

 

(The “Jaws” theme plays as a woman with a shark fin on her head slowly approaches. She is the GREAT WHITE SHARK many people fear. SHARK wears a white shirt under a dark coat. The fin on her head is dark, possibly black, but a bright “tag” is attached to it.)

 

SHARK

Swim. Swim. Food. Swim. Swim. Food. Food. Food. Swim. Food. Food.   Swim.

 

FOX

You are gorgeous. What are you now? Nineteen, twenty years old? How many times has that white belly of yours been filled with pups?

 

SHARK

Food. Food. Swim. Swim. Food. Food. Food.

 

FOX

There’s so much we gotta learn about you. You are such a beautiful mystery.

 

(FOX taps the side of his cage. SHARK halts.)

 

SHARK

What was that? Food, food, food?

 

(SHARK approaches the cage.)

 

FOX

Yes, darling. Haven’t seen you in years, have I?

 

SHARK

Don’t smell food. Don’t smell food. But I feel food. I feel it.

 

FOX

You feel that vibration, that little bit of electricity between us. That tiny spark.

 

SHARK

I see something. Something. Food? Food? Maybe. Maybe.

 

(SHARK bumps into the side of the cage. FOX stumbles around inside the cage while SHARK backs off.)

 

FOX

Yes! Yessssss! You found me. I’m right here, my dear.

 

SHARK

Huh. That’s big. Big food. Biiiiiiiiiiiiig.

 

FOX

Come back for seconds now, darling.

 

(SHARK bumps into the side of the cage again. FOX stumbles around inside, laughing.)

 

SHARK

What is that? What iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis that?

 

FOX

Oooooo, girl, do you know where I am? Do you see me?

 

SHARK

Seal? Seal? Is that a big, fat seal inside that thing?

 

(SHARK moves back toward the cage.)

 

SHARK

Funny-looking seal. Ugly, strange seal.

 

FOX

Don’t be confused. I’m your friend, girl. I will always be your friend.

 

(FOX rummages in the bag at his feet.)

 

SHARK

Can’t smell the seal. Seal smell. Seal smell. Seal smells like—

 

(FOX pulls a fish out of the bag.)

 

SHARK

—FISH! FISHY-FISH! FOOD, FOOD, FOOOOOOOOOOD!

 

(SHARK hits the cage a little harder this time.)

 

FOX

I’ve got a little present for my gal. You want it?

 

SHARK

Yes! Fatty fish. Not dolphin fish, but still yummy fish.

 

(SHARK circles the cage.)

 

FOX

Good girl. Goooood.

 

SHARK

Blood. Food. Blood. Blood. Fish. Food. Fish. Fish. Food.

 

FOX

You’re not so bad. Just misunderstood. That Spielberg movie nearly ruined it all.

 

SHARK

I’m so hungry, I could eat a whale. Oooo, that sounds good. Whale fish. Whale fish. Where’s a whale fish?  

 

FOX

Poor girl. If I never helped Spielberg with that shark footage, maybe people would like you better. There’s no need to fear you. You’re gentle.

 

(SHARK hits the cage again.)

 

SHARK

Nope. Not a whale fish. Didn’t think so, but had to make sure.

 

FOX

Haha, okay, maybe you’re not that gentle, but still…You’re just curious. Curiosity should be rewarded.

 

(FOX tosses the fish out of the cage. SHARK races toward it.)

 

FOX

Gobble it up, girl! Gobble it up!  

 

(SHARK grabs the fish and begins to ferociously chew on it.)

 

SHARK

Delicious. Warm. Gooey. Fishy-fish. I like fishy-fish.

 

FOX

Thatta girl. Force it down your gullet. Fill that belly.

 

(SHARK takes a couple “bites” of the fish and then stuffs it under her shirt, giving her the appearance of a “full stomach.”)

 

SHARK

Getting full, but not full yet. More. More fishy-fish. More.

 

(She circles the cage.)

 

FOX

You are dangerous, but it’s not your fault, really. It’s how you’re designed. A body to die for. Jaws of steel. But poor eyesight doesn’t help.

 

SHARK

Food, food, food. More food.

 

FOX

I forgive you, you know.

 

SHARK

Fish. Fish. More fishy-fish.

 

FOX

Okay, not you specifically, but you get the idea. You. All of you. The great whites. I forgave you a long time ago. I wish others would do the same.

 

SHARK

Fishy-fish. Yummy in my tummy. More, more. I want more.

 

FOX

It was my fault.

 

SHARK

No? No more? Do you have more? I want more.

 

FOX

I should’ve known.

 

SHARK

Yes. Yes, please. Gimme more fishy-fish. Yum yum.

 

FOX

That day, all those years ago…1963…

 

SHARK

Swimming in circles. Swimming in circles around whatever this thing is…Waiting for my fishy-fish.

 

FOX

Maybe I shouldn’t have gone spear-fishing that day. I don’t know. But if I never went in the water that day, would my eyes be as open as they are now?

 

SHARK

Nope, nope, nope. I’m not bored. Not bored swimming in circles around whatever this thing is…

 

FOX

If I were never attacked, would I have found my calling?

 

SHARK

No, no. Not bored. Definitely not bored.

 

FOX

Probably not. I never saw her coming. The shark. That beautiful girl.

 

SHARK

Okay, maybe I’m bored.

 

FOX

She hit me like a freight train.

 

(SHARK suddenly slams against the cage. FOX falls back, chuckling.)

 

FOX

Whoa, there!

 

SHARK

Got any more fishy-fish? I want more. I need more.

 

FOX

I remember being in her jaws. In her amazing grip. Her teeth sliced through me. I didn’t even feel pain at first. Just pressure. I couldn’t breathe. My first thoughts were that I was gonna drown.

 

SHARK

Any more fishy-fish gonna pop outta that thing?

 

FOX

I was powerless. I was hers…And then she let me go. I didn’t know why then. I didn’t care. I was just relieved. Grateful for the chance to fight for my life.

 

SHARK

Okay, okay. Was this a tease? Why am I being teased here?

 

FOX

Over 400 stitches needed to put me back together.

 

SHARK

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I see what’s going on here. You want me to perform tricks. Earn the fishy-fish.

 

FOX

I still have her tooth in my wrist today.

 

SHARK

I don’t do tricks. I’m not a dolphin. Nope. Not a dolphin fish…Mmmmm… Dolphin fish…

 

FOX

I love the sea, the creatures in it. I wasn’t ever gonna stay away from the ocean. But I was scared at first to go back in the water. I needed to know I was safe, that I wouldn’t be attacked again.

 

(FOX pulls another fish out of the bag and tosses it out of the cage.)

 

SHARK

FISHY-FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIISH!

 

(SHARK begins to “devour” it again.)

 

FOX

I couldn’t find any real info on your species. I just had to know more...

 

SHARK

Mmmmm. Better than squid fish. Ink gets all stuck in the gills.

 

FOX

Everyone I talked to had a negative opinion of you. They were all terrified. But…the one who attacked me…She let me go…

 

SHARK

Better than swordfishy-fish, still stabbing on the way down.

 

FOX

I had to know why I survived and how not to be afraid. So I built this…

 

(FOX raps against the side of the cage.)

 

FOX

The shark observation cage. Cousteau, eat your heart out. People thought I was crazy, going back in the water with the likes of you. “Rodney, you fool,” they said. “Mr. Fox, aren’t you scared?” But I was protected. I was ready to learn what you had to teach me.

 

(SHARK circles the cage again.)

 

SHARK

More fishy-fish. Here fishy-fish, here fishy-fish.

 

FOX

I documented your behavior for years. Tried to educate the public, leave the myths about you behind. But even I unwittingly hurt you…

 

(FOX shakes his fist.)

 

FOX

SPIELBERG! WHAT DID WE DO?!

 

SHARK

Food, food, food.

 

FOX

Now we know better. You’re not a monster, a “man eater.”

 

SHARK

Turtle fish. Seagull fish. Tuna fish. Gimme more fishy-fish.

 

FOX

Dogs kill more people each year than sharks have in the entire last century. People are more likely to be struck by lightning. Yet, they still fear you…

 

(FOX reaches a hand out toward SHARK.)

 

FOX

Not me, though. Not anymore.

 

(SHARK circles close enough to the cage for FOX to run a hand across her.)

 

FOX

I can feel the dentricles on your back. Like little teeth.

 

SHARK

Tickle-tickle. What’s that tickle-tickle?

 

(SHARK turns back around sharply. FOX brings his hand back into the cage.)

 

FOX

Now I know her bite was a test. She didn’t want me. It’s why she let me go. She grabbed me to see if I was something she would like to eat. I wasn’t.

 

SHARK

Hammerhead fish not yummy. Too heavy. Sits in belly.

 

FOX

You don’t wanna hurt us. You just get confused. Sometimes, though, when you spit us back out, it’s too late.

 

SHARK

Fishy-fish. Where are you hiding fishy-fish?

 

FOX

We cage ourselves to see you, because we can’t cage you ourselves. You never survive in captivity. You don’t belong in an aquarium. And, behind these bars, we can see you for what you are. A thing of majesty.

 

SHARK

Just pooped a bit. Nope. Just pooped a lot.  

 

FOX

You’re the keystone predator of the ocean. You control the diversity and abundance of sea life. We gotta stop killing you outta fear, or it will destroy the balance of—HOLY MUSTARD-COLORED FECAL MATTER! YOU JUST RELIEVED YOURSELF, GIRL!

 

SHARK

Don’t like swimming where I do my business.

 

FOX

I never get to see that! Oh, why did I leave my camera up on the boat?

 

SHARK

Swim, swim, swim. Swim away. Fast. Swim fast. Fast, fast.

 

(SHARK exits where she came from.)

 

FOX

Wait, girl! No! If you go now I might not ever see you again!

 

(But she is gone. FOX sighs.)

 

FOX

Great. You always leave me. Just one time, could I go with you? Leave the tourists behind? Let them find another expert to tag along with? Even for just a few minutes, could I break free of this cage? No one on the boat up there would even know I was gone…

 

(FOX sits there in silence for a few moments.)

 

FOX

Maybe someday. People still think I’m a tad nuts for being down here in the safety of the cage! Until more of them understand, I guess I can only dream…

 

(FOX pushes aside a couple of the chairs, as if he is opening the cage. He steps away from the cage, waving his arms, as if he is swimming freely in the ocean now.)

 

FOX

I’m free.

 

(SHARK returns, heading straight for FOX. FOX opens his arms, as if for a hug. SHARK swims tight circles around him. FOX embraces her and then grabs her fin.)

 

FOX

Let’s go, darling. Take me away. Show me your secrets.

 

(SHARK exits again, this time taking FOX along with her, he gripping onto her fin.)

 

Fade to black.