Thursday, April 24, 2014

Case Study No. 1389: Percy Felts

Dupont Mississippi Legacy Theater 2-2010.AVI
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"Dupont, Mississippi"
by Mark Landon Smith
Full Length Play, Comedy
2m, 9f

From the author of the wildly popular Faith County, An evening Of Culture, Radio T.B.S. and A Dickens' Christmas Carol: A Traveling Traveling in Two Tumultuous Acts, comes a new highly anticipated southern comedy.

Verna Dewberry, the evil and dictatorial matriarch of the small town of Dupont, Mississippi, has "bought the farm", and her death is a joyous occasion for its citizens.

Estelle Lock, the local Music Minister's wife who also plays the role of Mary, the Mama of Jesus in the Annual Star Spangled Jesus Cantata, will perhaps finally get into the Junior League.

Martricia Scales, owner of the Curl Up and Dye Beauty Salon, will become an independent business woman.

Coveta Phillips, Dupont's own June Cleaver who runs her own phone business will make the "phone lines burn with productivity".

Percy Felts, head Librarian of the Dewberry Library, will be able to put that book of Fairy Tales back on the shelf after Verna banned it because "she thought it was about gay people."

Joetta Ferguson, local "town crazy" who is convinced she is the next Priscilla Presley, but with bigger hair and heavier mascara, just might get to Graceland after all.

And a host of other delightfully zany and eccentric friendships survive Verna's death as the one thing which held them together all these years, their mutual hatred of Verna, no longer exists?

Told through a series of monologues and duet and group scenes, Dupont, Mississippi is a hilarious romp through Southern culture and is perfect for audiences for audiences who like to laugh until they cry. Mark Landon Smith has given us yet another wickedly funny script (breaking box office records at its world premiere), filled with unique characters, witty dialogue and one-line zingers.



[As the lights rise, we find Percy Felts at a small table with a stack of books, which she is hand stamping]
Percy Felts: Have you ever read National Geographic? It's a very informative magazine filled with beautiful pictures, fold-out maps and topless native women. National Geographic is a magazine of international importance. It does not, however, make you God when you donate fifteen issues.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: Verna Dewberry's death was long overdue. It was her time to checkout.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: Here at the DuPont Public Library and Bait Shop, I, Percy Felts, Head Librarian, do not have time for nonsense or silliness. And Verna Dewberry was the Webster's Dictionary definition of silly.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: It had always been my dream as a child to be a Librarian. To be able to shelve books in sensible shoes. To involuntarily recall call numbers. To flip through the card catalog at lightin' speed with no callouses.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: When I was a little girl I'd go to the library at DuPont Elementary, make my way to the New Acquisitions, open a new, fresh, untouched book, run my fingers along its spine ... caress its embossed cover... smell the fresh ink. And I would be momentarily complete.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: I knew at that moment that the only thing in life I wanted was my own library. My own little king-tome.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: But, starting a library takes books, which hopefully will be donated. So I advertised in the Dupont Dewberry Daily for people to donate whatever literature they had. And they did, which I appreciated; however, it's going to take more than 27 copies of Nancy Drew, faded back issues of "Highlights", and a Hoover Operation Manual to make a well-rounded library.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: Therefore, I realized I needed some money, so I approached Vera.
[she forcefully stamps another book several times]
Percy Felts: Vera was very interested in helping ... but with conditions. First, she wanted the library, just like everything else in this town, named after her. Then she wanted approval over every book I put on the shelf. Her list of banned books included "The Wizard of Oz", as she thought there was something unnatural about a twelve year old girl prancing around in the woods with a lion, scarecrow and a robot. And she banned any book that had Fairy Tales written in the title, as she thought it was about gay people.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: And she never paid her fines. She'd check books out and would never return them. When I asked her about them she'd say that it didn't matter, she owned those books anyway.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: In fact, I just noticed earlier today that she still has a 1978 issue of Women's Wear Daily checked out. And now she's dead. I bet I won't be seeing that piece of literature again. Of course it explains why Verna wore Culots all the time. And knowing Verna she's probably gone to the grave with that magazine clutched in her cold, dead fingers.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: The final straw was, however, when Verna insisted we change the filing system from the Dewey Decimal System to the Verna Dewberry Decimal System. That, I could not stand for. So I came up with a plan. I was going to come in and start a petition. A petition to have Verna's involvement in the library destroyed. And once Verna was out of the picture, I was going to have the freedom to buy any book I wanted. Books to educate the people of Dupont ...
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: To broaden their minds and make them aware of the possibilities lying before them!
[with more verve, she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: Books which would challenge their way of thinking!
[her hand stamping excitement mounts]
Percy Felts: Books which would stretch their intellect and empower them to become better, more well-rounded and productive human beings!
[swept with emotion and enthusiasm, she multiple hand stamps a book, then stops and looks out]
Percy Felts: But Verna croaked before I could do any of that.
[she leans forward]
Percy Felts: But you know what? Now that Verna has been pushed through the return slot of life, this ... all of this ... all 15 issues of National Geographic, 27 copies of Nancy Drew and faded issues of "Highlights" ... all of this is mine. My own little king-tome, however pathetic.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: Guess I need to go to that yard sale and funeral to see if I can get that magazine back.
[she takes a beat]
Percy Felts: And the first thing I'm going to do after the funeral is to put "The Wizard of Oz" and the Fairy Tales back on the shelves.
[she stamps another book]
Percy Felts: Then I'm going to kick off my sensible shoes, slip the bobby pin out of my bun, loosen the top three buttons on my high-collared shirt, take out my catalog, pop the tab off a beer ... and ... order ... books.



CANDI. Things will be improvin' down at the Hole in One, too. Now that Verna's dead, I'll be promoted to Manager, and from there it's just a hop, skip and a jump to fulfill my dream of coast-to-coast doughnut shops bearin' my name. From evil does come good.

(PERCY steps in to join the others.)

PERCY. After the funeral I dropped by the library and the first thing I did was to put "The Wizard of Oz" and a book of Fairy Tales back on the shelves. I then took down that portrait of Verna that was hanging in the foyer and replaced it with a portrait of Mr. Daniel Webster, author of Webster's Dictionary and my personal hero. Mr. Webster defines liberation as: "to release from slavery, enemy occupation." And with Verna's death that's exactly what everyone in Dupont has been... liberated.

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