The title is owed to the role of store-keeper being mis-named as stockings by an immigrant grandfather in "You gotta have balls" by Lily Brett. I am using it for its double meaning as store-keeping and also the traditional receptacles for christmas presents, hanging over the mantle-piece. The extended title might be 'Stockings & Sandals: Christmas in Deli' as I am writing a tolerance piece about the absurdity of snowbound christmas symbolism in hot climates. My play is intended for amateur / community theatres of holding a christmas musical. 'Deli' is the short form of delicatessen (Aust) or corner shop (UK) or drugstore (Canada). print version
The story revolves around an Indian shopkeeper who has chosen to keep his business open despite the encroaching yuletide season. A competitor starts a petition to have his decision apolitically and neutrally dumped. Toward the end of the story it emerges that he is not hindu, in fact he is not even indian but has allowed this impression to smoothe his path through the crackling prejudice which underlies his neighbourhood. He wants to be like Apu (Indian shopkeeper from 'The simpsons' cartoon) and has encourages people to form their own mistake along thsese lines. The object is not to make emmigrant indians uncomfortable, but to exploit the new stereotype to expose our universal cycloptic vision.
One reason for this play is to explore the complexity of religious identity. I am borrowing a motif from "The life of Pi" by Yann Martel in which he explores the possibility that one adherent can belong to several denominations, or even entire religions, at the same time. What happens when faith flounders? Can you be mostly muslim' or' an (off-line) virtual christian' or 'Jew-ish'. How do these identities respond to context? I want to illustrate how it works in the real life of a typical suburb. We can explore the same flexibilty in those claiming rationality.
Tolerant pluralism is the message rather than relativism. Somewhat like the "Love actually" message that christmas is for everybody, I want to make the audience fall in love with our hero and show christmas can accomodate him. All these holidays - they're not so different.
Sub-plot - Chowdery is visited by a shady character who askes him about books he has been selling under the counter. The shady character notices that the book is a translation by Chowdery himself, under creative commons license. Chowdery claims it is based on an undiscovered novel by a nephew of Mahatma Ghandi. He thinks he is in trouble with federal authorities, for fraud or copyright breech. Under duress, Chowdery reveals that he has written it himself and disguised it as a translation. His only real crime is an overactive imagination. Dialogue will discuss the water-diamond dillemna in relation to unrestrictive content.
Mr Chowdery Gumbodourswarmy A shop-keeper
Miss Hannah Bagelman a teenage retail assistant
Mrs Hattie Papertalk a nosey regular
Ms. Conniver Wheedle a rival shop-keeper and sneak
Master Judas Punch hip hop gang member
There are a number of highly suitable creative commons licensed songs with downloadable stems which, with a little ingenuity can be remixed into backing tracks for actors to sing along with. This feature obviates the need for a band. Community theatre audiences differ wildly in their enthusiasm for new music, some would prefer music they already know, to enhance the pleasure. Some audiences are heckling in their enthusiasm, if supplied with a copy of the lyrics, can be encouraged to join the chorus.
(optional) opening dance number beekoo mix by Lasswell (so the best volunteer hip hop dancers available for amateur community theatre can participate and still be in bed by 9pm.)
please don't wish me a merry christmas by MIND MAP THAT as the CHOWDERY theme
christmas bells by ivan and myvanillaworld as HANNAH's solo
best christmas yet by stellarartwars as the closing anthem.
Scene 1 - OpeningEdit
(Cutain up. Lights. Day. Interior. A delicatessen owned by Mr. Gumbodourswarmy. A visiting troupe of dancers are permitted to enter the shop with a ghetto-blaster and does a dance. An alternative for player without dancers would be to use the dance track itself as opening music and have the dancer enter as the music fades. Ideally the dancers should choose christmas themed creative commons licensed music for themselves at CCMIXTER or JAMENDO. For example see Bee Koo mix by Lasswell. Dancers leave. As they go out )
JUDAS (seperates from the dancers and approached counter) Hey Boy! Bee Koo?
CHOWDERY Yes Judas, it is the season to Bee Koo as a snowman.
JUDAS You know my name?
CHOWDERY Be cool. we have a deal.
JUDAS (checks dancers have gone) Who are you, Really?
CHOWDERY please allow me to introduce myself properly. My name is Chowdery Gumbodourswarmy and I am the propietor of this shop.
JUDAS Chowdery is a funny name.
CHOWDERY (spelling) C H O W D E R Y - My grandfather was named Chaudry. My poor dear mother, her literacy being what it was? Alas she did a spell check before she emailed my name to the registry and now i am stuck with the same American spelling as a fish soup.
JUDAS Ha ha ! Bummer. My name is Judas, I don't know who I am named after. A priest I think.
CHOWDERY Now for our deal. Thanks for bringing the dancers. We get a pretty good crowd now for these weekend street events.
JUDAS They shake their booty all right
CHOWDERY Well, here is the booty they have shaken from me (places bag of take away meals on counter)
JUDAS they paid for that, what about my cut?
CHOWDERY I think we agreed to meals was a fair price for arranging dancers and attracting new business. (more frozen containers on counter)
JUDAS (turning one over suspiciously) What's in it?
JUDAS What's in the other one?
JUDAS What's that?
CHOWDERY Aubergine Paneer
CHOWDERY Eggplant with cheese
JUDAS. Ah ! Cheese! Got any chips?
CHOWDERY (producing handy bag of frozen chips) That will be extra.
JUDAS (indicating bag) They're frozen solid.
CHOWDERY Bee Koo.
Scene - HannahEdit
( Day interior Deli CHOWDERY is holding a hammer and a christmas stocking, enter HANNAH)
HANNAH Hey Mr Gumbo ! Good Morning.
CHOWDERY good morning
HANNAH What are you doing?
CHOWDERY No, no ! Hanging stockings.
HANNAH Hanging stockings? By the toe?
CHOWERY If he hollers.
HANNAH Let him go. I mean why are you hanging them upside down?
CHOWDERY This way covers a hole in the plaster
HANNAH It would be more fitting over the counter, then people could see it.
CHOWDERY I tried that. (holding up the stocking) Regrettably it is not a counter-fitter.
HANNAH Your luck will run out if you hang it upside down.
CHOWDERY I may be an ignorant man, but I know a thing about suspicions and I am suspicious you are talkking about footwear for horses and not yule tides.
HANNAH Yule tides?
CHOWDERY You'll keep !
Scene - LonelinessEdit
MRS P What about loneliness, Chowdery?
CHOWERY Hannah works here two days a week.
MRS P I mean company your own age.
CHOWDERY Alas, I work long hours, Mrs Papertalk.
MRS P What about loneliness? How will you conquer loneliness? How will you abate that master of misery?
CHOWDERY When it comes to master abating, I am quite accustomed to sharpening my own pencil.
MRS P No, not that ! (glaring at him) I meant company. You can't take your own hand in marriage.
CHOWDERY Who said anything about marriage?
MRS P What about family, Chowdery? You will end up old and bitter on the shelf.
CHOWDERY Alas I work long hours. There is bearly enough money to keep Hannah, let alone another mouth to feed.
MRS P Money! I knew it ! Mark my words, Chowdery. You will pawn your soul for greed.
CHOWDERY I will mark your words. I will give them a six out of ten for sincerity and effort.
MRS P. (sighing) Pawn your soul...
CHOWDERY I went to a pawn broker once, but they didn't have any girly magazines. No porn at all.
MRS P I give up. You will dies a bachelor.
Sene - Loose cannonEdit
CHOWDERY (Making a phone call) Hello, Acme bell company?
SALESMAN (voice off-stage) Yes. Acme Bell Company. I am a sales representative. Good day, how can I help.
CHOWDERY I wanted to order some display bells for my shop window.
SALESMAN I'm afraid you are too late there. It is christmas, you know, there has been a rush on our snow covered frosty bells with the fur lined electric movement. Can we put on a waiting list until July?
CHOWDERY (on phone) No thanks. There's something else. The screw has fallen off my doorbell.
SALESMAN (voice offstage) Really?
CHOWDERY yes, the screw was loose and now it has become dislodged.
SALESMAN was it glued in?
CHOWDERY glue? The screw is itself a fastener, why would it need glue?
SALESMAN not glued?
SALESMAN goodness gracious, who was the butcher who made that mess then, eh? without the screw the whole contraption could fall on somebodies head. What a botch job. Tsk tsk. Who installed it?
CHOWDERY (pause) a very...unsatisfactory fellow actually.
SALESMAN Here it is on the warranty, it says...you refused service? Dear oh dear, mister....what was your name again? Mister Gum bo dour swarmy. I think you have done yourself a di-service there my good man. I can see you are trying to save money. everybody is doing it now. Really there is no alternative. We need to tear the whole lot out and (laboring each word) start all over again.
CHOWDERY how much will this cost
SALESMAN are you thinking about a contract for the ongoing regular preventative maintainence program or the executive package with newsletter and calender. It's all about the level of insurance you feel comfortable with really.
CHOWDERY (swallowing) how much
JUDAS (erupting into shop) Here ! I want a word with you!
CHOWDERY Not now Judas.
JUDAS I want to complain about the scraps !
CHOWDERY Been into another scrap have we? Who were you scrapping with now?
JUDAS No, no! I mean the scraps you gave away last week for free. Vegetable scraps you gave away gratis. You said I could feed my chickens with scraps. I want to complain about them.
CHOWDERY Judas, this is a terrible time and you are hoarse with complaint. I am looking into your mouth and you are hoarse about a free gift. (looks at audience in disbelief, aside) Never look into a hoarse mouth about a gift!
JUDAS You are so cruel. The watermelon. The poor birds couldn't even pick it up with their beaks.
CHOWDERY Oh good grief. (laughing) You cut me up, I mean you cut them up. I don'tknow what I mean.
CHOWDERY Ah ! Hannah, I rang the bell company, the product you liked so much is out-of-stock, I'm afraid.
HANNAH Oh, No ! Not the bells. It just isn't a real holiday season without bells.
CHOWDERY But you're Jewish, doesn't that mean you burn candles and stuff?
HANNAH Oh, you ! How long have you lived here? Don't you ever feel a sparkle of Diwali, the indian festival of light when you get to the christmas season. It always cheers me up.
CHOWDERY We will have to be cheerful without bells, I'm afraid. What about a Carol? Do you know any christmas songs? What about 'Jungle Bells'?
HANNAH That's 'Jingle Bells' , silly ! I know a better one about Christmas Bells . (sings 'Christmas Bells')
(curtain lights down)
(curtain lights down)