Painting Dylan

Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class — please email me and ask permission. It will be granted, but I’d really like to know about it.

Painting Dylan
Copyright 2003. Samuel M. Post
Originally Produced (and the only time it’s been produced) as part of Theatre Charlotte’s 9×9@9. December, 2003.

A few notes about this play:
I see it as a comedy, but one that should be played dead serious. After all, here’s an eighteen-year-old kid who doesn’t have big prospects, and (although it’s not mentioned in the play) it’s a time of war.

Son is troubled, escaping into art, absorbed by his painting — not totally connected with the realities of adult life. He’s defensive.

Throughout the play, Mom pays complete attention to him. He pays attention to her, in the way a kid who is slightly smothered does. He paints, throughout the play, and doesn’t look at his mother. The mother begins gentle, sort of walking on eggshells here, trying not to set him off. She’s working to contain her frustration.She tells herself, with that little voice inside, “Don’t get angry…don’t get angry…don’t get angry,” until she slips.

On page five, when he says, “That’s their problem,” he should hit the word “their,” hard — as if this is the story of his life.

SON stands at an easel, painting. Enter MOM.

MOM: It’s getting late.

SON: Okay.

MOM: It’s time to start thinking about it.

SON: Okay.

MOM: So have you been thinking about it?

SON: Of course.

MOM: What have you been thinking?

SON: What do you think?

MOM: I don’t know. I’m asking.

SON: I’ve been thinking about it all year.

MOM: Okay. Then what?

SON: What are you talking about?

MOM: I mean, what are your plans? College?

SON: Of course I’m going to college.

MOM: Okay. You’re going to college. That’s good.

SON: You don’t think I’m going to college? You think I’m stupid?

MOM: No. I think that’s great. Where?

SON: I don’t know.

MOM: Have you thought about it?

SON: Of course I’ve thought about it. You think I’m an idiot?

MOM: No. Which ones are you thinking of?

SON: Plenty of em.

MOM: Well, what about applying?

SON: I know you’ve got to apply, if you’re going to college. You think I’m crazy?

MOM: No. But…you graduate in three months. This would be a good time.

SON: You don’t think I know that?

MOM: I wasn’t sure.

SON: You think I’m some kind of a fool?

MOM: No.

SON: I’ve been thinking about this for years.

MOM: Good.
long pause
So. You need some help?

SON: With what?

MOM: Looking at schools? Filling out applications?

SON: You think I’m too dumb to fill out an application?

MOM: No — you’re a very bright child.

SON: I’m eighteen. I’m not a child.

MOM: Of course not.
long pause
I could help.

SON: How could you help?

MOM: I could…take you to a campus.

SON: They’re all the same.

MOM: I could help with the application.

SON: Those are nothing.

MOM: You’ve seen them?

SON: Of course I’ve seen them. You think I’m ignorant?

MOM: No. Where’d you see them? At school?

SON: Of course. The guidance office is full of applications.

MOM: Do they help you with them?

SON: Of course they do. What do you think — they just let you graduate without ever helping you do what you’re going to do next?

MOM: No. I’m glad to hear they help. What is that you’re drawing?

SON: What do you think it is?

MOM: I’m not sure.

SON: Are you blind?

MOM: Is it a guy with a guitar?

SON: It’s Bob Dylan singing “Like a Rolling Stone.”

MOM: You’re supposed to know, from the picture, what he’s singing?

SON: If helps, if you’re going to understand the picture. Don’t you think you get more out of a painting when you know what they’re singing?

MOM: Will that be the title: Like a Rolling Stone.’

SON: It doesn’t have a title.

MOM: Then how will people know?

SON: His expression.

MOM: You should put it in the title — or people won’t know what he’s singing.

SON: That’s their problem.
tuning his mother out, he sings
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown’

MOM: Don’t sing when I’m talking to you.

SON: You’re bothering me. I’m trying to paint.

MOM: This is important! You’re getting ready to graduate and you haven’t spent five minutes thinking about what you’re going to do!

SON: Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t. Maybe I don’t want to think about it. Maybe I’ve thought about it a lot — and just don’t want to talk to you about it.

MOM: Why are you so angry with me?

SON: I’m not.

MOM: What did I do to make you so angry? So resentful?

SON: I’m not angry.

MOM: You are.

SON: No, I’m not angry. But you bug me. A lot.

MOM: I’m trying to get you to take responsibility for your life.

SON: Why? I didn’t ask to be born. That was your doing.

MOM: You hurt me.

SON: I can’t help it.

MOM: What did I do to make you want to hurt me that way?

SON: I don’t know, Mom.

MOM: I just want you to think about…your future.

SON: I’m thinking about it, Mom. I told you: having me was your idea. Can’t you just be happy I’m graduating?

MOM: Of course I’m happy about that.

SON: Maybe we should sort of enjoy that for a while.

MOM: You’ll need health insurance.

SON: Why?

MOM: Everybody needs health insurance.

SON: A lot of people don’t have it.

MOM: If you’re in school, you’re covered under mine.

SON: I’m going to college, Mom.

MOM: Where?

SON: I don’t know.

MOM: When are you going to decide?

SON: I don’t know. You think I’m a loser?

MOM: No.

SON: How about getting off my case?

MOM: Then you’ll never do anything.

SON: Then I might do something.

MOM: I think we’re all put on this planet for a reason. A purpose. I hope to God your purpose is something higher than being here to hurt me. God knows, you’re good at that.

SON: I’ve got a higher purpose than that.

MOM: What?

SON: I don’t know, Mom. Leave me alone.
he sings
How does it feel, How does it feel
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?’

end of play

8 Replies to “Painting Dylan”

  1. Hey Sam,

    I’m an aspiring media professional and studying Bachelors of Media Studies.I wanted to know if I could have permission to use the script for stage production & direction Module at my college. As we are all undergraduates, our age being 18 – 19, I think a lot of us would relate to this one.

    Thank You.

    Prachi Makhija
    Media Trainee

    1. That’s fine, Prachi. Thank you for choosing my play, and for asking — but I’d really like to know more details. Like what college?


  2. Hi !

    I’m a media trainee at Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication(UG),Pune. (India)
    I am supposed to put up a theatrical production in a group for a particular module.I’ve been looking for relevant scripts and liked this one.


  3. Hello Mr. Post,
    I will be teaching a High School Theatre course this fall for Homeschooled Students. I would like to use your play for a character analysis activity for my students. I do hope this is ok.


  4. Hello,

    I am doing a showcase for my directing class. This is undergraduate work and I would love to use this play.
    Thank you.

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