Diana Burbano is a Colombian immigrant, an Equity actor, a playwright and a teaching artist at South Coast Repertory and Breath of Fire Latina Theatre Ensemble. She was part of Center Theatre Group’s Writers Workshop for 2018-2019. Her play Ghosts of Bogotá was commissioned by Alter Theater and premiered in the Bay Area in February 2020.

The Pen

Diana Burbano

Characters

Talia- Latina, a "coconut" educated, snobby. F

Mo- Latina, very street. Smart. F

Lupe- Latina, deceptively innocent looking. F

Three women are rounded up by ICE and put into "The Camps." Their escape depends on their willingness to get their hands dirty.

Three Latina women sitting in a waiting room. One is removing split ends from her Mohawk. One is sniffling. One looks annoyed. They have been there a long time. Talia starts to pace.

TALIA

I don't belong here.

MO

Mija. Nobody don't belong anywhere.

TALIA

What? That's a double negative.

MO

Shut up. Miss Fancy-Pantalones. Pues.

LUPE

(To Talia)

I'm sorry.

MO

Don't be a pussy.

LUPE

(gasps)

TALIA

Pussy is not a bad word. Neither is snatch, chocha, or (whispers in her ear.) The C word. (Lupe flinches)

LUPE

I would pray for you, but they took my rosary away.

MO

Bitch, you can pray for me. Pray for me that they let us go, otherwise it's three strikes and I'm out.

LUPE

I knew it was a terrible idea to join up with this whole women's movement. My dad--

MO

Is an asshole--

TALIA

Amen.

LUPE

My father is very respected in the community.

MO

Girl. Your crazy papi spent time preaching to his flock for Presidente Loco, 'cause "Christian values"-- what a pendejada--

TALIA

I think your father deserves to be deported. I don't feel a bit sorry for him.

LUPE

But, mi mami-- there are six of us.

TALIA

(Rolls her eyes.)

Birth control = the devil--

MO

And she can't feed yo ass? Because your undocumented right wing preacher daddy just got taken away by ICE? I got this shit right?

TALIA

How many of the kids are citizens?

LUPE

The three little ones.

TALIA

This world has gone completely insane.

MO

Shit. It’s always been cray. Now it’s cray with an orange on top.

LUPE

Don't judge me. I make due, I wasn't raised in a liberal household, like you.

 

TALIA

For your information My father is also a right wing lunatic. He was INDOCTRINATED, HYPNOTIZED by Fox News and those Nazi blowhards.

MO

He have money?

TALIA

Um. He's a doctor.

MO

Mmm--hhm.

LUPE

My dad watches those Fox shows too. We don't have money.

MO

Lemme guess, shit don't stink old mero mero Mexicano patriarch family values. Hates black people?

LUPE

Oh!

TALIA

Shit.

LUPE

That's a very bad thing to say!

MO

Bad because it's true?

LUPE

My Papi will take anyone into his flock!

MO

So, are there any Negritos in his flock currently?

LUPE

There aren't any in the neighborhood. Anymore.

TALIA

My father isn't OVERTLY racist. But ever since 9/11 he has

definitely looked askance at the Muslim doctors at his hospital.

(A strange sci-fi sound is heard. Maybe a scream. The noises are not comforting.)

MO

We were on the bus a hell-a long time.

TALIA

I can't believe there were no cushions on the seats. I think I bruised my tail bone.

MO

Last time I got clipped, word was they had turned this old airport

into a "Deportation, Detention, Deletion" center.

TALIA

I'm a citizen.

MO

Got papers?

TALIA

I have my driver's license.

MO

Where?

TALIA

In my purse-- (realizes her purse is nowhere to be seen) where's my purse--?

MO

Yeah, you learn fast, Morena.-- OK, You? (To Lupe)

LUPE

I'm not here legally.

TALIA

Your father really is an idiot.

MO

Right, nuff said OK? I heard the guards are just looking at you now, and deciding if you're white enough or not.

(All three know they are not "White" enough.)

TALIA

(starting to panic)

I am legal! I was born here!

MO

(Looking around.)

I ain't never been in holding this long. And I get picked up all-a time.

TALIA

How on earth do you manage to get out?

MO

Imma lawyer and shit.

(Lupe and Talia exchange a look.)

Yeah, implicit bias. You see me, you don't see no education.

TALIA

Why do you talk like that?

MO

I’m off duty. It’s called code-switching. Google it. Don't it exhaust you, pretending to be white all-a time?

TALIA

(This stings.)

I'm proud to be educated.

MO

Lemme guess. Liberal arts?

LUPE

I was going to say--

TALIA

I HAPPEN to be a writer. Yes.

MO

OK. So I happen to be a lawyer. You?

LUPE

I work at my dad's church. I do the books.

(She takes out a wad of cash from her bra.)

This should help us out.

MO

Amen. The all 'merikkkan dollar.

TALIA

You stole that?!

LUPE

My father spends it on anti-abortion tracts and his Mustang.

MO

Orale, pues.

TALIA

Shouldn't you give that back to the people who donated it?

LUPE

I do. I buy groceries with it and leave it on people's doorsteps.

MO

Huh.

LUPE

Anyway. This is this week's take. He got a lot because ICE took down a couple of parishioners before they got him.

TALIA

That's it? We need to do something!

A buzzing sound. Perhaps a light flashes. Something appears in front of them.

LUPE

Wait (Gestures to the front of the stage. Seeing something.) What's that?

TALIA

A camera?

MO

A button.

(They gather closer. The button is on the 4th wall.)

"Press when you are ready." WTF. Games.

TALIA

Is it an escape room? My roommates and I did one in Berkeley--

MO

Idiot. We didn't get picked up, thrown in a van and deposited in this (Indicates the room.) hamster cage for fun.

TALIA

How do you now? Maybe they want to see which one of us is worth saving.

LUPE

What do you mean?

TALIA

It was a joke.

MO

Naw, tho'. So you heard the "Deportation, Detention, Deletion" rumors too.

TALIA

It was all over Twitter.

LUPE

I don't Twitter.

TALIA

(Rolls her eyes. To Mo:)

It's like willful ignorance. (Empathetically) It's the only place to get the real news!

MO

Full of conspiracy theorists and right wing whack-jobs.

TALIA

Maybe. But it's been right! A lot  Someone said the president--

(Mo spits, Talia shudders and Lupe crosses herself.)

Is in full fascist mode to rid himself of the resistance. They opened “facilities” in Arizona and Texas right after the Supreme Court takeover. It's taken this long for the gov’t to infiltrate Califas.

 

MO

They mighta coulda rolled us into Arizona.

 

LUPE

I couldn't tell how long we were in the van--

MO

Girl. This is worse than I thought.

TALIA

For you maybe. For you, who willfully embrace the street style that so obviously will get you into trouble, but I'm an intellectual-

 

MO

Lord, girl. "Intellectuals" you mean target practice for the #2A NRA?

(Silence.)

LUPE

Should we press the button?

MO

I guess.

TALIA

Wait! What if--

MO

What?

TALIA

What if Twitter was right?

MO

Then at least this ends quicker. I hate suspense and shit.

She pushes an imaginary button on the 4th wall. A blast of loud noise, Fox News, Trump speech, "Lock Her Up" comes up. The clang/clang sound from Law and Order. A loud maniacal clown laugh. The women look at each other. The light becomes otherworldly.

 

Perhaps a Tweet is projected onto the stage floor. It says:

 

"Resist." Mo and Talia stand.

MO

(Addressing the light.)

We've brought her.

LUPE

She may be our only hope.

A VOICE

Welcome to the underground. We are the resistance.

TALIA

The what? Let us out!

A VOICE

We come from the future. After the final takeover. After the last hurricane. After the final fire.

TALIA

I'm dreaming.

MO

Nah. This shit real. (Mo removes her jacket, takes out a packet)
I have what you asked me for last time. Here. (Lays the package down)

TALIA

What's that?

LUPE

Memories. In case--

MO

In case we fail. Loteria cards. My mom's graduation picture. A recipe for tamales. An Aztec calendar. An iPod with all of Morrisey's songs on it.

LUPE

Here: (she takes a package out of her pocket.) Frida's Journal. My Virgen de Guadalupe prayer card. My uncle's Purple Heart. My grandmother's ashes.

MO

Do you have anything to give?

TALIA

I'm-- here (she takes off her artisan earrings, pulls pencils and paper out of her pockets. Quickly draws.) Here: is where I was born. Here is where we traveled, here is where I lived. Are we going to die?

A VOICE

In the year 2020, as the Un-tied States were on the brink of collapse. North Kor-Russia, with the blessing and aid of the "President for Life" blows up a camp that was filled with people from California, Arizona, Texas and Upper Mexico. It was the beginning of the ultimate destruction.

MO

This is the third time we've tried to game the vortex. They've had me and Lupe before. We failed.

LUPE

Twice. I've seen my friends and family die twice. We can't let that happen again. You have to help us.

TALIA

Me? What can I do? I'm nothing-- it was pure chance that I ended up here! I'm useless! A liberal arts major!

THE VOICE

You must enter the camp. You have never been in the time line, so you are a new quantity. We think you have the ability to stop the destruction before it starts. You can write the next chapter.

 

TALIA

Wait-- isn't fucking with time a serious problem? I watch Doctor Who--

 

MO

You can do it. You have to enter the main house. The CO’s office is the door to an alternate universe. If it stays open, it’s the end of every Latinx person in this country. You have to go in, and close the portal behind you.

TALIA

What happens to me?

MO

No one knows. But you'd save millions of lives.

LUPE

You get to be a hero!

TALIA

I'm not a hero. I--

THE VOICE

You. You wore a pussy hat, you protested, you made calls, you raised your fist. YOU scream for change for justice--

TALIA

On the internet, yeah--

 

THE VOICE

YOU can save many, many people from a certain death. You can change this time line and assure that people, who have been targeted for deportation and death, live. You alone can save them.

MO

You can put actions behind your Tweets, your social media, your talk. This is it. Action instead of words!

LUPE

And your martyrdom will assure you'll be remembered forever. The bravest member of the Resistance. The one who sacrificed herself, so that others could live.

TALIA

But-- Why me? I mean, I feel horrible about everything that’s happened, but I-- I can’t really do anything. I mean, I can march and I can write my congressman, but-- I can’t die, I’ve got too much to live for! Can’t I just donate? Or text Resistbot?

A VOICE

I see. Your resistance is all noise and no substance. End sequence commences. Vaya con dios.

The intense noise and light fills the stage again. As if rewound, the women are on the bench again.

The light is normal. Talia looks around wildly. Mo and Lupe stare blankly ahead. They remember nothing.

TALIA

What? What happened?

MO

Hmmm? I'm hungry.

LUPE

Are you OK?

TALIA

I-- what?

MO

Shit, keep it together y'all. (A sound. A door opens.) We're next.

TALIA

Next?

LUPE

They had to make sure there was room for us.

MO

Damn. Damn. This is it.

(A loud sound of a crowd and bright lights.)

Well c'mon.

TALIA

(In terror.)

The camp.

LUPE

I wish my dad had kept his mouth shut. I don't want to die.

MO

We all gotta go sometime.

(Mo and Lupe walk towards the light.)

Well. C'mon--

LUPE

So many little kids!

The sounds of people crying. Children ask, "Mama? Mama?" Far off sounds of fear and pain.

TALIA

(To the sky)

Hey-- HEY! Voice! Resistance! I want to help! I can help, let me do something. I’ll do it now. I'm sorry I was weak! I was just scared- - I-- I’m ready. I’M READY!!!

Crowd noise gets louder. There are people crying.

I changed my mind! I--

Everything gets loud as Talia is left alone. 

This can't be happening.

LIGHTS OUT.