ACT I

Written for the Alternative Realities: Three
Staged Readings by Black Lesbian Writers at
WOW Café Theater – Saturday, December 14th,
2013

Written by Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz
Directed by Mimi McGurl

Performers: Arianne Benford as KINA, Dondrie
Burnham as JULES, Ingrid Howell as JOEY, Nefertiti
Martin as BRUSCHETTA, and T. Sacred Walker as
DIANE

READER: Gaelle Voltaire

SATURNISTAS
Her Saturn Returns – The Play

For inquiries, contact: shawntasmith@gmail.com
http://hersaturnreturns.com/alternative-realities/

I-1
SATURNISTAS
by Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Saturnistas:
DIANE………………………………………………… 29, Documentarian of HSR South
American, JOEY’s life partner
JOEY …………………………………………………… 31, Puerto Rican-American, Butch
DIANE’s life partner, has terminal
illness
Post-Saturn:
JULES ………………………………………………… 36, Musician, African American
masculine of center androgynous
female-bodied, woman-identified,
musician, DIANE’s lover
KINA ………………………………………………….. South Asian lesbian, performer,
interviewee of HSR project
Pre-Saturn:
BRUSCHETTA……………………………………… 21, African American from da
Bronx, JOEY’s lover

TIME: Late Evening, Late Spring 2012
SETTING 1: Outer-space, background of planets and stars. The interviews
take place on a large rock where the two women face each other and pour
coffee to drink.
SETTING 2: Studio Apartment in New York City. Stage right has a table which
will act as the altar, a chair, and a box. There is a dividing wall in the center
downstage which can be a brick wall, to act as the “bathroom behind the
wall”. A mirror is affixed to the wall. A single-seater chair is beside the wall,
stage right, the front door is stage left. There are multiple cloths draped in
floral Taino prints, reds, greens, whites, and portraits of women’s bodies
adorn the walls. There is a colorful carpet. Cozy room.

I-2
ACT ONE
SCENE 1
(AT RISE, outer-space, background of planets and stars.
KINA and DIANE sit on a space-rock. DIANE has a
recorder in her hands. They each have coffee.)
KINA
We’ve been in community together for years, but this may be the first time
we’re having a real conversation.
DIANE
Do you think so?
Wasn’t there that time when we spoke on the phone because you were
petitioning against my partner’s performance space?
KINA
Oh no, dear friend, that hasn’t happened yet. We’re in 2010, Spring. That
won’t happen until this summer.
DIANE
Oh, thank you. It’s funny the timelessness of this space; this Saturn
continuum. It’s all happening at the same time, it seems, the madness.
KINA
Wait til it spirals. Wait til you are seeing yourself for the first time. You will
find yourself in the corner of the angle and you are drowning. Your Saturn is
in Scorpio?! It will bring you to the depths of darkness, and you will burrow
there.
DIANE
Are you trying to scare me?
KINA
I am being in community with you. It is the beginning of your Saturn story.
Not mine.
DIANE
Thank you sister.

(DIANE reaches to KINA in an embrace.)

Shall we begin?
(FADE TO BLACK)

I-3
ACT ONE
SCENE 2
(A furnished apartment. DIANE enters the stage, from
front door, sits in chair at stage right and pours herself a
glass of wine. She rests in her chair with a sigh and clicks
off her shoes. She sips the wine.)
(The phone rings.)
DIANE

Hello.
Jasmine. Yes. How are you?
Oh, that sounds like a lot. Okay, so you want to reschedule the interview
then?
Alright, we can do next Saturday. Since you are out of town, I like to do gchat
interviews, does that work for you? Oh, you prefer skype? That’s fine too, I’ll
have to record it for the transcription.
Great.
I look forward to chatting with you.
(DIANE takes another sip of her wine, and reaches for her
laptop, but decides to take a shower instead, and grabs
her towel. She removes her clothes in front of her mirror
down to her panties and sports bra, observes her body,
holds her stomach, wraps herself in a towel, then walks
off stage. The sound of water runs. The front door
opens.)
(JOEY walks in, throws her keys down and sits in the chair
to remove her shoes.)
Hey ma. You ate yet.

JOEY

DIANE (yells from off stage)
What? I can’t hear you. In the shower.
JOEY
Have you eaten? Food? You hungry?
DIANE
Oh, sure, I mean, No, haven’t eaten.
(JOEY arranges her shoes.)

I-4

I got my period.

DIANE (offstage)
(A beat with a flicker of red light snaps through the
stage.)

JOEY
Seriously? [pauses - grunts]
(The run of water ends. JOEY kicks the chair in anger.
DIANE walks out of the bathroom and rushes to the
chair.)
DIANE (calmly).
Please don’t destroy my laptop
JOEY
You’re not trying. I’m tired of this.
DIANE
Would you calm down? It’s late.
(DIANE applies oil to her skin while on the chair.)
JOEY
It’s been five months.
DIANE
It’s been four. And my period came eight times in the past five months. It
makes it hard to regulate. I’m sorry. I’m not a baby-making machine, you
know.
Fuck that.

JOEY (low voice)

DIANE (screams)
Why are you screaming?!
It’s a good thing I’m not prego with that kind of response. I need you to be on
my side with this. Every time it doesn’t take, you are like, my worse enemy
or something. There’s too much anxiety. Can’t you just be calm for once.
Stop stressing…
(JOEY is heaving and breathing hard standing in the
center of the room. Then begins to pace.)

I-5
DIANE
Am I talking to myself here?
Hello?!
When was the last time you checked your sugar?
JOEY
Don’t ask me about my sugar. When was the last time you had a cigarette?
And that wine?
DIANE (tempered)
Don’t touch my wine.
(calmly)
Where’s the sticker?
JOEY (in a baby voice).
Maybe I should just eat.
DIANE
Or not! Maybe you’ve eaten too much. Where’s the sticker.
It’s in the bathroom.

JOEY
(DIANE goes to the back.
JOEY gets dizzy and falls to the chair. She sees DIANE’s
phone and picks it up. Looks at it and gets angry. DIANE
returns quickly with a stick, takes JOEY’s finger, sticks it
with the needle, then catches the blood on a thin strip.
They wait a little. DIANE looks up at JOEY impatiently.
Their eyes meet.)

JOEY
Alright, maybe I should go to the hospital.
DIANE
It’s 610! Of course you should go to the hospital. Let me get dressed.
JOEY
Nah, it’s cool. Bruschetta is coming over. I’ll just wait for her.
DIANE
Is that the first thing you think of? Don’t wait for nobody. Just text her tell
her to meet you there.

I-6
JOEY (low voice)
She’s on the train. She won’t get the text. Speaking of which, you have a text
waiting for you on your phone.
(DIANE grabs the phone from JOEY’s hands.)
DIANE
Stop yelling, put your shoes back on. I’m gonna go get dressed.
(DIANE looks at her phone on her way to the back.)
And stop looking at my phone!
(JOEY begins to lace up her timberland boots.)
JOEY (to herself)
It was an accident. I didn’t look on purpose.
(JOEY puts her head in her hands and yells into her palms
in deep frustration.)
(There is a knock at the door. JOEY goes to the door. Sees
BRUSCHETTA through the door window, gains her
composure, and opens the door.)
You look terrible.

BRUSCHETTA
(enters)

Come. Hug me. Kiss me.
JOEY
How you doing ma.

(JOEY kisses BRUSCHETTA on the cheek).

BRUSCHETTA
That’s better. I’m okay. I’m mad tired and hungry. I bought you some
meatballs from work.
JOEY
You can give those to Diane. I have to go to the hospital.
BRUSCHETTA
Are you serious! I came all this way. How high is it?

I-7

It’s high.

JOEY

BRUSCHETTA
High? How high is high? Baby, I can get you high, that might bring it down a
little? I can call my guy, he’s not too far away.
JOEY
No, I smoked today already.
BRUSCHETTA
With who?
JOEY (annoyed)
Don’t worry bout that... By myself.
BRUSCHETTA
Mmmhmm. Well you ain’t never turn down no smoke before.
JOEY
I think I just need some fluids. It’s late, it shouldn’t be too crowded.
BRUSCHETTA
Shit! Aight [sighs] let’s go. I’ll get your bag packed. You want your pillow?
(DIANE walks back into the room, dressed, putting a
pillow into a duffel bag.)
DIANE
Oh, hey. You got here fast.
BRUSCHETTA
Yeah, I was rushing to see this one.
(BRUSCHETTA strokes JOEY’s hair. DIANE watches them
and drops the bag on the chair.)
I bought some meatballs. Thanks for packing the bag.
(DIANE talks to JOEY shuffling through and looking down
at the bag, ignoring BRUSCHETTA)
DIANE
Ok, jammies, some magazines. JOEY, where’s your phone charger?

I-8
JOEY
Ma, Bruschetta is gonna take me. You can stay.
DIANE
I gathered sweetie. That’s nice of you Bruschetta. Joey, you should keep this
one. She brings me balled meat, takes you to the hospital, is always right on
time...
BRUSCHETTA (smiles)
Diane, really, it’s my pleasure.
(BRUSCHETTA grabs the bag from the chair, then grabs
JOEY up to head toward the door.)
I’ll be sure and text you if they keep her.
DIANE
It hasn’t been this high in a while. I’d pressure them to make sure she’s
totally down to 120 before sending her home. Can you handle that?
BRUSCHETTA
Don’t you worry. I got this, aight. You forget my momma was a nurse, my
little brother has diabetes type one too.
DIANE
I asked a question. Can you handle that? 120. Will you remember that
number?
BRUSCHETTA
I know I’m young, but don’t play me. I said I would call if anything goes a rye.
DIANE
No, you said you would text when you get there. Look, if you can’t handle...
JOEY (low voice)
Can we go?! Please… I’m drowning here.
DIANE
Oh, now suddenly you drowning?! Hmph. Bruschetta, don’t let her yell at you!
BRUSCHETTA
I said, I got this. Enjoy the meat balls.
(BRUSCHETTA takes JOEY’s hand in one hand, JOEY’s bag
in the other and leads her out the door.)

I-9

Enjoy the meatballs.

DIANE (mocking BRUSCHETTA)
(BRUSCHETTA and JOEY Exit. DIANE yells to the back of
the door.)

I know what you said.

Just hear me.

(The house quiet, DIANE opens the bag of meatballs,
smells it, and throws it into the trash. She refills her wine
glass. Pauses, takes a sip. Looks at her phone and picks it
up.)
DIANE
Hey.
Got your text.
Are you still close by?
Oh, okay, that’s right up the road.
You picked up your phone, so does that mean rehearsal is over?
So then come over. I have the house to myself for a while.
Yes, a while as in possibly the whole night.
Great. I’ve been meaning to call you up. I really want to see you.
Oh, um, I’m on my period though, so you know, just to hang out, you know.
Yes, I know I’m always on it, but, look, I have wine?!
Girl, don’t let me hurt you.
See you soon. Bye.
(FADE to BLACK)

I - 10
ACT ONE
SCENE 3
(Outer-space, background of planets and stars. KINA and
DIANE sit on a space-rock. DIANE has a recorder in her
hands. They each have coffee.)
KINA
Okay, I’m ready, but my Saturn story, you see, is very different than yours.
DIANE
Oh yes, and how so, wait, let me press the recorder.
(KINA nods. DIANE presses the recorder.)
Okay, how is it different?
KINA
During my transition to 30, I was coming out into my sexuality. It was wholly
about sexual awakening, which led to spiritual awakening, which lead to
theater, expression, storytelling.
DIANE
Tell me about your sexuality. How do you define it? How does it effect your
path, and how does it effect how you go into the world, and the decisions that
you make, and if it does at all?
(Spotlight on KINA and she stands into the monologue
like a spoken word poet.)

I - 11
KINA
So, for me
sexuality
and spirituality
and creativity
are intertwined.
One.
You know I feel like when I’m
in step with the universe,
then, also channels are opened
creatively
spiritually
sexually.
I also have really defined my sexuality.
I feel like that is one of the most important parts of me.
I really see sex as like
I don’t think it is simple
the way I was raised to believe.

a divine thing.

I used to be a Sunday school teacher
for many many years. So it was
definitely a process for me to be able to
recognize the Erotic
as not something that’s
wrong or sinful, but
something that is of God,
or the universe.
I believe, in
soul to soul skin to skin connections.
And I, for the most part have been in relationships with women.
And I choose, because of the society we live in, to call myself queer,
in some cases gay and some places lesbian.
DIANE
And now you are a performer?
KINA
Now I tell our stories.
So you see sister,
you find your own path.
Saturn will guide you.
(CUT TO BLACK)

I - 12
ACT ONE
SCENE 4
(Set returns to DIANE’s apartment – Outer Space is gone
completely. DIANE lifts a small black table and brings it
to the center of the room, facing the stage. She takes a
sip of wine, then goes back to the table. DIANE is in a spot
light.)
DIANE
Grandma. Your daughters told me about you. I asked them every detail. I
asked them when you came here, when you first landed on North American
soil. Who you are. Pero, mami, if just because I know that today is your
birthday, and just because I know how you sang songs when preparing for la
novellas and sewing your eldest daughter’s uniform, and just because I can
still see your fingers move in and out of the groves of this chain that your
mother gave you the last time you saw her at 21, does that mean I have done
enough to ask your forgiveness and to beg you to release my child and place
her into me?
(DIANE goes to the corner again and grabs a box and
places it beside the table. Then a chair, and places this to
sit at the table. On the table, she begins to assemble her
altar.)
If I don’t hurry, Joey will die, and never meet her daughter.
(DIANE reveals a white linen cloth and covers the black
table.)
Do you know that I am almost 30 years old?
(Then a pitcher made of silver, from which she pours the
perimeter of the circular table with a thick layer of white
rice.)
When you were 29, you started to go to Baptist Church. Your Saturn was in
Scorpio like mine. You had your last child, already three years old. Six total,
and then you found God.
(She lays down a mortar; A photo is placed in the center
of the table.)
But what about your hands?

I - 13

(To the right of the photo is a glass cup.)
How can I ever really know you if I cannot picture your hands? Will you show
me? The day, they combed mi madre’s hair, putting a wooden brush in water
and slicking the bristles against her scalp. Or they cleaned the lamb and
separated the bones for las ninas. Kneeded the dough, mashed the beans.
Will you show me?
(To the left of the photo, DIANE places three shells, then a
chain encircles the shells and the photo and the glass.)
On Sundays they touched each other, with your head bent, you prayed. And I
still remember your fingers against the sea-shells that make this chain,
pulling at them, and separating the pink from the beige from the blue, then
connecting them again while you rocked and hummed sometimes.
(DIANE pauses, puts the photo down, and lifts the chain,
from the box, she removes a sweet fruit and places it
inside the circle)
But what about at night?
(A pestle is placed in the mortar.)
There is a night-time in 1961, no? You and grandpa had separate rooms.
Like Joey and I, sort of? A la noche, mami? Las manos?
(DIANE kneads the pestle in the mortar, curling her body
a bit.)
What did your hands do at night, after you put the girls to sleep, kissed their
foreheads, your fingers tucked their feet in? I ask, because, at night my hands
grow idle. I have no children to fill them.
(DIANE stops moving. Begins to cry a little.)
And did you know I am almost treinta años?
(A white candle is lit. The lights dim as the candle is lit.)
(FADE TO BLACK)

I - 14
ACT ONE
SCENE 5
(DIANE’s livingroom. A door knock forces DIANE up.
Lights at neutral. DIANE goes to the door. She sees JULES
and opens.)
Hey sexy.
Hey sexy to you too.

JULES
DIANE
(They kiss and JULES walks in, puts her guitar down to
the side of the front door).

JULES
So, you sure it’s just me and you in here?
DIANE
Well, and the spirits, but I don’t think you have to worry about them much.
JULES
I don’t think you’re kidding. What’s this over here?
DIANE
Eh eh. Don’t touch anything. Take your shoes off please?
Oh, right, my bad.

JULES
(JULES sits in the chair and removes her shoes while
DIANE watches her, leaned against a door or wall).

JULES
So, what you’ve been in here working on, all by yourself?
DIANE
Oh, just a few things. Editing audio for, Her Saturn Returns. You know, I
interview lesbians of color who are turning thirty, and they all start talking
about their connection to Spirit in one way or another. I have hours. You
wouldn’t believe. Just trying to make sense of it all?
JULES
Oh yeah, I remember you mentioning it. Can I get a glimpse?

I - 15
(JULES grabs DIANE by the waist and kisses her neck
while talking)
DIANE
You’ve already lived your Saturn baby. You gotta leave it for us young dykes
to take advantage. By the way, you’ve never done a Saturn interview. You
should give me your story.
JULES
Neh, you don’t want to know about a girl who lives life being called a man.
That’s no help to you.
DIANE
It’s lots of help to me, last time I checked.
JULES
You know what I mean. How’s JOEY? Does she still hate me?
DIANE
She’s in the hospital, and of course she still hates you.
JULES
Hospital? Why aren’t you there?
DIANE
She has her girlfriend there. It’s routine.
JULES
So how come she gets to have a girlfriend that you accept, who takes her to
the hospital, practically lives here, smiles in your face, but you can’t have
yourself a JULES? I just don’t get it.
DIANE
It’s complicated, JULES. Isn’t it enough that you are here, right now, with me?
JULES
Soon, it’s not going to be enough, DIANE.
(JULES holds DIANE away by the waist)
Why should we sneak around? And while she’s sick, it’s like, too close to
intentional. You know what I mean? This isn’t how it has to be.
DIANE
You’re right. How would you like it to be then?

I - 16

Don’t put it on me.

JULES

DIANE
Well, everything is, exactly where it is, right now. There’s no where else for it
to be.
(JULES gives DIANE a doubtful look.)
I know that is inconclusive right now. But I have this feeling.
JULES
Feeling? This ought to be good.
DIANE
Just that, things are going to change. I’m not sure how, but they will, and this
moment here, is so temporary, it’s not worth stressing over.
JULES
I guess you could say that for most of life.
DIANE
Exactly. I’m figuring life out, perhaps.
(Mood switches, and DIANE kisses JULES).
Will you tell me your story now? For the record, please.
(DIANE pulls out her recorder.)
JULES
Don’t know that my Saturn is... I don’t really identify as queer, you know? Not
sure I’m your gal.
DIANE
You, my beauty, are the reason the word “queer” exists. Come on. Just tell
me YOUR story, forget about Saturn. Just think back to when you were
between 27 and 31. What was it like?
JULES
You’re lucky you’re cute. But honestly, I’m not into storytelling. Is that okay.
DIANE
Yes, I guess so. So what do you want to then since I can’t get naked.
JULES
We can pretend to get you naked.
Or...

DIANE
(DIANE walks over to the wine and pours herself a glass.)

I - 17
DIANE
Do you want some? This bottle is almost done, but I still have the one you got
me for my birthday.
JULES
That was supposed to be for a special occasion.
(JULES walks over to DIANE and sits beneath her,
beginning to rub her feet.)
DIANE
That feels nice. I haven’t had my feet rubbed since, well, the last time you did
it I guess. You deserve a treat.
(DIANE pours JULES a glass of wine)
JULES
Thanks babe. You know, I’ve been working on a song for this Cabaret that
I’m possibly going to be a resident artist for.
(JULES pauses to take a sip)
DIANE
Really, so what’s the song about?
JULES
Oh, you know, a love song.
Yeah? Original?

DIANE

JULES
Well, it’s an original, mirrored after a cover cause you know, it’s an audition,
but I put some personal spin to it.
DIANE
Can I hear a little? Which song?
JULES
Cassandra Wilson, you know the one with John Legend, so, it’s me singing
two parts, which is like this bizarre dual reality.
DIANE
Shit, Iove that song. Let me get a taste. I’d love to see what you did to it.

I - 18
(JULES pulls out her guitar and starts to strum the
melody)
JULES
Well, jump in on chorus if you feel it.
(JULES sings the song as if serenading DIANE)
Baby, baby
Baby, please don't go
You make me crazy
I've waited all day long
Your home alone and,
wine’s poured and
Maybe we can follow where the evening's going
Night's upon us, don't you wanna
Spend the night with me?
(DIANE makes a sad face at JULES)
And watch the sunrise
Reflected in our eyes
It's crazy how time dies
When I spend it away from you all night
Watch you watch the sunrise
Watch you watch the sunrise
Baby, baby
Baby, please don't go
You make me crazy
I've waited all day long
For the sunrise
(DIANE joins in, putting the guitar down, and wiping
JULES’ tears)
For the sunrise
For the sunrise
See it in your eyes
For the sunrise
(Sunrise in your eyes)
For the sunrise
DIANE
Oh, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

I - 19
JULES
When I’m singing it, it feels like I’m two bodies. Male and female.
DIANE
Cassandra and John. I can dig it. But seriously, what do you mean by that?
JULES
You know, just that, I hardly recognize myself nowadays. I mean, I know who
I am, you know, but my face. It’s like, who is this man looking back at me?
DIANE
Really, how long have you felt that way?
JULES
The changes started to happen like seven years ago.
DIANE
You mean, when you were in your late twenties?
JULES
Yeah, right around when my dad passed.
DIANE
So you were knee deep in your Saturn then?
JULES
I guess so, but I didn’t know that then. It’s my dad; that’s why I can’t be mad
about it, being the way that I am.
DIANE
That’s kind of wild. Does it feel good though, walking as your dad?
(DIANE reaches for her recorder)
JULES
Good?
The first time it happened to me, was right before I turned thirty. I’m at the
airport, and some woman wants to scream and call security when I go to the
women’s bathroom. Did I tell you this story?
DIANE
No. You didn’t. Can I record you?
(JULES nods yes)

I - 20
JULES
It was while I was on tour with the Glenfolks? That bitch just kept screaming.
I’m coming out the stall and there are screams. All I said was, “I’m a woman!”
my hands begging her to calm down, and all she did was scream louder.
When she left, I thought she had gone. I could finally wash my hands in
peace. But instead, she came back with fuckin’ security. A dude, at that. And
then security didn’t believe me. They just saw me as some black dude. I had
to lift up my shirt just to prove to them that I was a woman. That shit was
horrible. And it happens to me all the fucking time. But maybe it was
because in my late twenties I was traveling a bunch, it happened more than
ever. I dunno. So, I said fuck it. I cut my locks off, started benchin, and now
look at me. Seven years later. I look at me and I look at my dad, so he is
always with me. Sexy bastard.
(JULES laughs and takes another swig of wine.)
DIANE
Well you are a sexy bastard.
(DIANE turns off the recorder and kisses JULES)
JULES
I’d really like to be with you Diane.
Oh yeah?

DIANE

JULES
You know it, but, this arrangement is hard for me.
DIANE
Baby, what are you talking about?
JULES
Don’t play dumb, I can’t take it especially when you act like nothing is
happening.
DIANE
Jules, are you talking about your song? You’re totally going to get the part!
JULES
(JULES frustrated, packs her guitar)
You are unbelievable. I love you like mad, but I can’t believe you sometimes.

I - 21
DIANE
We’re having a baby together. She’s my partner. What do you expect me to
say?
JULES
Trying to have a baby. Trying.
DIANE
Without sounding like an asshole, Love, it’s really none of your business.
JULES
Isn’t it?
Okay, fine. I should go.
DIANE
You just got here. I can make dinner.
(DIANE stops JULES from walking to the door with
kisses.)
I don’t want you to leave.
You make me crazy.

JULES

DIANE
I know. One day, we’ll see the sunrise together.
When Diane? When?
Soon.

JULES
DIANE

JULES
No, I mean, when will it be my turn.
(JULES touches DIANE’s belly. DIANE slaps her hand
away.)
DIANE
You’re a mess! Maybe when you get your own place, somewhere where we
can have an overnight, maybe then, we can talk about it?
JULES
I knew you were going to say that.

I - 22
DIANE
So, then don’t ask the obvious.
(JULES takes a seat and drinks a sip of wine. DIANE walks
over to her and kisses her head.)
Tell me the name of this Cabaret.
JULES
I think you may have heard of it. It’s in the city, called Oshun’s Daughters.
DIANE (jumps back)
Heard of it. Babe, are you kidding?
JULES (laughs confused)
What? I know, it’s a big deal. It’s the largest and oldest Cabaret for queer
women of color and I think I have a shot.
DIANE
Love. I don’t think you understand. Joey is...
JULES
Joey this and Joey that. Can’t we spend one evening, one conversation with...
DIANE
No, listen. That’s Joey’s Cabaret. She’s the producer? Remember, I told you
that’s what she did?
JULES
Oh, come on! Are you serious? I NEED this gig.
DIANE
Jules, please. Don’t audition. It’s not worth it.
JULES
What? I have to. And you have to get me in.
(End scene.)