Rhiannon Ciara Vaughn's plays include Gifted*, The Age of the Guru is Dead, and "Wine Night," a finalist at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Her play "A Lovely Day Outside" was named a "Top 5 Play" at Living on the Edge Festival. Rhiannon was a finalist for the 2019 Kennedy Center/NNPN MFA Workshop. Rhiannon has teamed up with Courtney Hope Thérond to write a fictional podcast, Persistence of Memory, which was selected as a second-rounder at the Austin Film Festival Script Competition. Rhiannon has an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University and a BA in Psychology from Pitzer College.

Wine Night

Rhiannon Ciara Vaughn

Characters

JACQUELINE, 40s, Host of the book club and the most successful of the group. She is a high-powered publicist.

CHELSEA, 30s, Pregnant with her first child. She is a financial analyst. She does a lot of research, but also knows how to balance work and life.

ANALI, 30s, Went to Harvard and is now a director of successful social justice documentaries.

STEVIE, 40s, An energy worker/reiki healer. She grew up with lots of trauma and isn't shocked by much.

AMBER, 30, Instagram model. She is sweet and sensitive and makes light of everything - mostly because she is uncomfortable with confrontation.

SETTING: JACQUELINE'S luxurious living room. She designs images for a living and it is clear by her beautifully curated home.

AT RISE: JACQUELINE, AMBER, ANALI, and STEVIE are sitting around the living room. They each brought copies of The Handmaid's Tale.

JACQUELINE

I am so excited to discuss The Handmaid's Tale tonight! I thought it would be the perfect way to start out first book club in Trump America.

ANALI

Ew. Please don't call it that. It gives him way too much

credit.

JACQUELINE

Oh, you're right! I didn't even think about that. But you know what I mean.

STEVIE

The book is definitely very timely.

AMBER

I know, right? I looooved the Hulu Series. Super terrifying.

ANALI

I think she means relevant in terms of the potential for scary outcomes with our right-wing administration.

STEVIE

Sure, but also that it seems to be buzzing in the collective consciousness. But maybe I saw those articles about it because of the Hulu show. 

AMBER

See. Thank you, Stevie. Pop culture matters too!

CHELSEA enters.

CHELSEA

Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I hope I'm not holding everything up too much!

ANALI

You are just in time, Chelsea.

AMBER

Awwwww, you are glowing!

STEVIE

You look beautiful, Mama.

JACQUELINE

Come in, come in! We haven't seen you since the big announcement. How are you feeling? Super pregnant?

CHELSEA

It's why I'm a little late - it's harder to get moving these days.

JACQUELINE

How far along are you?

CHELSEA

I just hit 18 weeks. So I'm just out of the nausea woods and now into a sea of headaches.

STEVIE

Do you want me to clear your chakras before we go home tonight? It might help.

CHELSEA

No, thank you. It's all part of the process.

AMBER

But you love it, right? It's such a miracle.

CHELSEA

Sure. It's fine.

(Off their disappointed faces.)

And a miracle. A beautiful miracle.

JACQUELINE         AMBER

Such a miracle.                 So beautiful.

ANALI

I can't even imagine.

 

CHELSEA

So what did I miss?

JACQUELINE

Everyone was just talking about how relevant my choice was.

AMBER

Did you watch the Hulu series?

CHELSEA

I did! Directed by a woman.

STEVIE

I dig that.

ANALI

Yeah, super relevant, but for summer Book Club we're definitely reading bell hooks.

AMBER

Noooooo.

CHELSEA

YES! Did you read her essay on Beyonce and Lemonade? Opened. My. Mind!

AMBER

I mean I love her but she's so intense. And we can't do intense back to back.

ANALI

No, she's real. And important. And gets intersectional feminism, which is MORE relevant right now.

AMBER

Nuh uh. It's my turn to pick and it will be something beach appropriate - you know, light and fun.

(off Anali's expression)

But still woke.

ANALI

(still skeptical)

Is it really woke if it's 'light and fun'?

AMBER

Uhhhh, yeah.

JACQUELINE

Well ladies, let's get back into this book.

The group grabs their copies of the book.

JACQUELINE

Oh! Silly me! Before we do that let me bring out the drinks.

JACQUELINE runs to the kitchen offstage and exits SR.

STEVIE

Reading this again - and now - was definitely a different experience than reading it in my Gender Studies class in the 90s.

ANALI

I know! Same! I read it like 10 years ago and even then it felt like a distant dystopian future.

JACQUELINE

(from offstage)

Not yet! Wait til we have drinks!

JACQUELINE enters the room carrying a tray of wine glasses and bottle of wine. She presents the tray around the circle, getting to CHELSEA last. While she's passing out the wine-

JACQUELINE

Thank you, ladies, for giving me an excuse to open up this bottle of Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape. I've been dying to open it. 

 

AMBER

Ooooo yum!

ANALI

French, Italian, doesn't matter. Just pour me some wine.

JACQUELINE

And it's in theme! Because it's religious. Kind of. Different church, but get it?

CHELSEA

Oh that's clever.

STEVIE

Ahhhh, I see the connection.

JACQUELINE hands CHELSEA a wine glass with a different tint of red.

JACQUELINE

And sparkling pomegranate juice for you, Mama.

CHELSEA

Oh, no I'll take a glass of wine. But thank you for considering that.

(PAUSE)

JACQUELINE

But you're pregnant, remember? Just because we can't see it doesn't mean we act like it's not there.

CHELSEA

Yeah, I know. I'm officially in my second trimester, though, so I can have wine again. It's safe.

JACQUELINE

Are you sure safe is the word you want to use? Is alcohol during pregnancy really safe?

CHELSEA

Well, safer than in the first trimester. The risk of miscarriage went way down and now I can finally have a glass of wine every now and then.

JACQUELINE

I don't know. It's not like you're giving up wine forever. Just for a few months. Drinking now seems a bit...I don't know...selfish.

CHELSEA

Whoa.

STEVIE

Jacqueline!

(PAUSE)

AMBER

Maybe we should just focus on the book.

ANALI

I don't think she means selfish. Just risky.

CHELSEA

Everything is risky. Driving to work in the morning is risky.

JACQUELINE

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is real. And everything I've ever heard is that no amount of alcohol is safe to drink. Doesn’t the CDC even say that? The CDC seems pretty official to me.

STEVIE

I don't know...lots of women drink when they're pregnant. My mom drank and smoked and I'm fine.

ANALI

Yeah, no offense but she was an addict.

STEVIE

That's fair.

ANALI

Chelsea also doesn't need to drink.

CHELSEA

Right. I don't. But I'd like to have a drink tonight with my friends.

JACQUELINE

I don't know if I can do that in my house. I'd be an accessory to whatever happens to your baby.

CHELSEA

I don't think that's your decision to make.

STEVIE

Chelsea's right. It's her body, her decision.

ANALI

It's Jacqueline's wine and her responsibility - all of our responsibility - as good friends to look out for you.

JACQUELINE

I'm surprised you even want wine. I just couldn't drink at all if I was pregnant. I couldn't take the risk.

AMBER sits quietly back in her seat drinking her wine.

STEVIE

Jacqueline, you've never even been pregnant. How do you know you wouldn't drink?

JACQUELINE

I know.

ANALI

I've been pregnant. But I didn't want to risk ruining the child's life because I wasn't ready.

CHELSEA

Exactly. And it was your right to choose what to do with your body. This is the same thing - different choice.

JACQUELINE

What does your partner think of this? He can't be OK with you deciding to risk your baby's health.

ANALI

Jacqueline, girl. I was with you but that's a little too patriarchal Asking the husband for permission? Really?

JACQUELINE

It's his child too.

ANALI

I do agree with Jacqueline that it's risky. I mean, you're not eating the brie tonight.

AMBER

It's delicious brie, Jacqueline! Maybe we should-

CHELSEA

I'm surprised you of all people are taking this stand, Anali. Look, there have been so many studies that show risk is limited if you drink in moderation. For real. You can google it.

ANALI has already pulled out her phone to look it up.

JACQUELINE

It’s just not fair to your baby or women who want to be pregnant. It's really hard to lose a baby, Chelsea. Incredibly hard.

CHELSEA

Our country just doesn't trust in moderation about anything so they police it. In fact, we need excess in capitalism. And the government today is drafting laws about women's bodies because we can't be trusted to be free-thinking or anything more than a vessel of purity to bring forth life. Our country wants to police everything we do right now.

AMBER

(snaps)

Truth.

STEVIE

Yes.

ANALI

(without looking up from her phone)

Unless it has to do with guns.

CHELSEA

Now, I'm a grown woman who is currently creating life - I mean bones and brains and everything. It's exhausting. And I really just want to enjoy the company of my friends, sip a glass of Jacqueline's expensive Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape, and discuss how scary-slash-relevant this book is.

JACQUELINE

I can't lose another child. It's too late for me so I really want this to be perfect for you.

(PAUSE)

CHELSEA

Oh. Jacqueline. I'm so sorry. I had no idea.

STEVIE

Oh sweetie.

ANALI

You're going to be a badass auntie to this baby.

CHELSEA

You all are. And please don't worry. I've read all the apps and blogs and studies and there are so many out there. I've done the research - and I’m smart with risk. Forgetful maybe, but I'm still who I was before I was pregnant.

AMBER

I mean, homegirl is a financial analyst. I guess she would know about risk more than any of us.

ANALI

She's right. There's this book, Expecting Better, that talks about the risks and myths. And this other study says educated, wealthy women most often drink wine moderately.

JACQUELINE

Let me see that...

CHELSEA

Do NOT read the reviews. People on the internet have strong opinions about what anyone else should be doing. Actually, maybe you should. It's kind of funny.

STEVIE

See. I knew it was fine. I once stayed with this host family in Berlin and the matriarch would serve, and drink, the best wine with dinner every night. She was so pregnant.

JACQUELINE

Fine. You're right. You've clearly done the research. And I trust you and support you. I just worry.

CHELSEA

And this is why we're friends.

JACQUELINE pours a glass of wine for CHELSEA. CHELSEA raises her glass and takes a sip. She winces.

CHELSEA

Ugh. This is not how I remember that.

CHELSEA shrugs and takes another drink.

LIGHTS FADE.

END OF PLAY.