The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe

by Jane Wagner
     
 

The first play in more than 20 years to become a national bestseller. "Her script for the Lily Tomlin one-woman multi-character show is so funny even without Tomlin performing the lines, with an array of humor ranging from the frivolous to the profound."--People  See more details below

Overview

The first play in more than 20 years to become a national bestseller. "Her script for the Lily Tomlin one-woman multi-character show is so funny even without Tomlin performing the lines, with an array of humor ranging from the frivolous to the profound."--People

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This play is Wagner's latest starring vehicle for Lily Tomlin, and it is a wonderfully comic and painful dose of truth direct to the heart. In this satire, a form all too lacking in American theater, Trudy the bag lady, Wagner's central character, tries to explain modern American material society to an alien (i.e., interstellar) committee. In the first act a variety of types are seen suffering in their lives. The more full of anxiety and terror they are, the funnier and more disturbing the play is. The focus of the second act, tied to the people of the first act, is a group of women who live through the social fads of the 1970s and 1980swomen trying to make something real enter their lives, but who live desperate and superficial existences. Yet the play ends with a hymn to the creative spirit. The text is lavishly illustrated with performance pictures. Required reading. Thomas E. Luddy, English Dept., Salem State Coll., Mass.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060914318
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/28/1987
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
6.11(w) x 8.11(h) x 1.11(d)

Read an Excerpt

Part One

Trudy

Here we are, standing on the corner of
"Walk, Don't Walk."
You look away from me, tryin' not to catch my eye,
but you didn't turn fast enough, did you?

You don't like my raspy voice, do you?
I got this raspy voice
'cause I have to yell all the time
'cause nobodv around here ever
LISTENS to me.

You don't like that I scratch so much; yes, and excuse me,
I scratch so much
'cause my neurons are
on fire.

And I admit my smile is not at its Pepsodent best
'cause I think my
caps must've somehow got
osteoporosis.

And if my eyes seem to be twirling around like fruit flies--
the better to see you with, my dears!

Look at me,
you mammalian-brained LUNKHEADS!
I'm not just talking to myself. I'm talking to you, too.
And to you
and you
and you
and you and you and you!

I know what you're thinkin'; you're thinkin' I'm crazy.
You think I give a hoot? You people
look at my shopping bags,
call me crazy 'cause I save this junk. What should we call the
ones who
buy it?

It's my belief we all, at one time or another,
secretly ask ourselves the question,
"Am I crazy?"
In my case, the answer came back: A resounding
YES!

You're thinkin': How does a person know if they're crazy
or not? Well, sometimes you don't know. Sometimes you
can go through life suspecting you are
but never really knowing for sure. Sometimes you know for sure
'cause you got so many people tellin' you you're crazy
that it's your word against everyone else's.

Another sign is when you seelife so clear sometimes
you black out.
This is your typical visionary variety
who has flashes of insight
but can't get anyone to listen to 'em
'cause their insights make 'em sound so crazy!

In my case,
the symptoms are subtle
but unmistakable to the trained eye. Nor instance,
here I am,
standing at the corner of "Walk, Don't Walk,"
waiting for these aliens from outer space to show up.
I call that crazy, don't you? If 1 were sane,
I should be waiting for the light like everybody else.

They're late
as usual.

You'd think,
as much as they know about time travel,
they could be on time once in a while.

I could kick myself.
I told'em I'd meet'em on the corner of "Walk, Don't Walk"
'round lunchtime.
Do they even know what "lunch" means?
I doubt it.

And "'round." Why did I say "'round"? Why wasn't I more
specific? This is so typical of what I do.

Now they're probably stuck somewhere in time, wondering
what I meant by "'round lunchtime." And when they get here, they'll be
dying to know what "lunchtime" means. And when they
find out it means going to Howard Johnson's for fried
clams, I wonder, will they be just a bit let down?

I dread having to explain
tartar sauce.

This problem of time just points out
how far apart we really are.
See, our ideas about time and space are different
from theirs. When we think of time, we tend to think of
clock radios, coffee breaks, afternoon naps, leisure time,
halftime activities, parole time, doing time, Minute Rice, instant
tea, mid-life crises, that time of the month, cocktail hour.
And if I should suddenly
mention space-aha! I bet most of you thought of your
closets. But when they think of time and space, they really think
of
Time and Space.

They asked me once my thoughts on infinity and I told 'em
with all I had to think about, infinity was not on my list
of things to think about. It could be time on an ego trip,
for all I know. After all, when you're pressed for time,
infinity may as well
not be there.
They said, to them, infinity is
time-released time.

Frankly, infinity doesn't affect
me personally one way or the other.

You think too long about infinity, you could go
stark raving mad.
But I don't ever want to sound negative about going crazy.
I don't want to overromanticize it either, but frankly,
goin' crazy was the best thing ever happened to me.
I don't say it's for everybody;
some people couldn't cope.

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Meet the Author

Jane Wagner is the winner of four Emmy Awards, a Writers Guild Award, and two Peabody Awards. For The Search . . . she received the New York Drama Desk Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award.

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