^Peterson Toscano reads her piece as part of Geez Out Loud. The audio is an interpretive reading of the written play, not an exact recording.
Excerpt from seven-act play
What is a queer response to climate change? Who are the climate action figures of the future?
As impacts magnify, how will our empathy, hospitality, and creative caring for each other also increase?
This play in seven acts was commissioned by Climate Change Theatre Action to correspond with the Santiago Climate Change Conference (COP25). Any group or organization can stage a reading of this play or works by the 49 other playwrights in this year’s action.
KYLE: 27-year-old, white cisgender gay man originally from suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Studied art history. Works at gift shop in Metropolitan Museum of Art.
JOEY: 29-year-old cisgender bisexual Italian and Puerto Rican native New Yorker. Graduated with degree in Political Science. Works at a coffee shop and volunteers at various non-profits around the city.
New York City in a one bedroom apartment in the fall of 2028. Apartment fills with sound of locks turning, door opening, and KYLE entering. Bags are placed on the floor.
KYLE: Hey, I’m home.
JOEY, from down the hall: I’m in the bedroom.
KYLE pauses then walks to the bedroom.
KYLE: Gosh, it’s crazy out there still.
JOEY: There’s food in the kitchen that Tanner made.
KYLE: Uh, no. Laughs. I’m good.
JOEY: What?! He’s a good cook.
KYLE: I don’t like all that “free food.” You know – free of meat and dairy and gluten and flavour. I get it, he’s a vegan, we know.
Laughs and kisses JOEY. Then, speaking affectionately.
Hey you. Have you noticed Tanner looks great, but he has really bad breath?
JOEY: Yeah, I know, and he hovers too.
KYLE: Well, they all hover. They laugh, then KYLE and JOEY settle onto a bed.
JOEY: So, how did the Art Move go?
KYLE: We barely got a dent in it. The Met had over a million pieces in that underground tunnel. It’s a miracle almost none of it got damaged. Some guy from the mayor’s office said pretty much every basement in the city got flooded out this time.
JOEY: Still flooded in some places I heard.
Brief pause. So where they moving it to?
KYLE: An “undisclosed location.”
JOEY: Some place upstate, I bet.
KYLE: Or Svalbard, where they store the strategic art reserves. Oh! I actually got to pack up a Marsden Hartley! Who would have thought a boy from Missouri would be handling priceless pieces of art?
JOEY: Big deal. I get to handle priceless art every day.
Slaps KYLE’S ass, then quiet sighing, shifting in bed, and giggling can be heard.
KYLE: Where is everyone?
JOEY: Well, let’s see. Tanner is out foraging . . .
KYLE: Dumpster diving.
JOEY: Sure. Um, Jenna actually has an audition for a drag revue. She’s like really into being trans and doing drag at the same time. Nino is, who knows? He said he was going to see if his work is open again. Doubtfully. He’s gotten no response there. And I think Louis is looking for some place to do laundry.
Oh, and by the way he wants to know if you have any extra meds he can borrow. He’s not been able to get in touch with his doctor.
KYLE, thinking: Uh, yeah, I think so. What’s up with his doctor?
JOEY: Well, she’s out in Long Island.
KYLE: What the hell is he going to a doctor in Long Island for?
JOEY: It’s complicated. But he said she’s the only trans male friendly doctor he could find.
KYLE: What? Jesus! It’s 2028!
JOEY: Yeah, well, I was just reading this terrible story . . . This trans woman who after the storm . . . she cut her leg on some debris or something, she went to one of the emergency clinics and they treated her like shit.
KYLE, disgusted: It just sucks.
KYLE and JOEY _both sigh, then pause quietly, thinking about their roommates. _
They’re like all gone? You know this is the first time we’ve been alone in the apartment since the refugee crisis. Laughs.
JOEY: Yeah, I think you’re right.
Sounds of snuggling.
KYLE: So do you think we should move?
JOEY: Ay! Not that again!
KYLE: I mean a lot of people are.
JOEY, snapping angrily: You know a lot of people can’t!
JOEY softens his tone. I’m just glad we have this place and can take in some people. Maybe we can see about getting a bigger apartment or something.
KYLE, giggling: A hostel for the weary, storm-driven queers of New York City.
JOEY: It’s something. It’s community. We can do more to help.
KYLE: Oh my God, you totally sound like Mayor Morales, “Bigger Storms need Bigger Love!”
JOEY, laughs: Well it’s true. Then suggestively. And what’s wrong with Bigger Love?
KYLE: Oh, now we’re alone you’re thinking about big love hey?
JOEY: Well, I miss you.
KYLE: I miss you too. He pauses. And I’m feeling the atmospheric pressure has dramatically changed.
JOEY: Oh, has it?
KYLE: Yeah, yeah . . . a storm’s brewing, a big nasty storm.
JOEY: Oh is that right? What you do weather reports now?
KYLE: Uh-huh . . . the swirling masses of pressure and heat are building up and the storm surge . . .
JOEY: The storm surge?
They hear the sound of locks turning and the apartment door opening.
KYLE: Oh shit, someone’s back.
They laugh, and slam the bedroom door shut. Music and bed creaking can be heard coming from the bedroom.
Peterson Toscano uses comic storytelling to explore LGBTQ issues, religion, justice, privilege, and climate in theater, film, radio, and podcasts. He lives in Sunbury, Pennsylvania.
Image credit: “The latest bubble and squeak,” Peterson Toscano, petersontoscano.com.