A Painting

An Abstract Drama for 1 “Man” and 1 “Woman”

By J. E. Hibbard

Run time: Approx. 10 minutes


A Man: requires an Actor who can portray a “Male” role, open to any Gender, age range is open

A Woman: requires an Actor who can portray a “Female” role, open to any Gender, age range is open

MAN and WOMAN live together within their bare four walls. They are the forces holding their proverbial and literal walls together, providing balance.  


 The dramatic, impractical walls should not be squared or level, they may slope and curve. They may be represented by fabric, other humans, or exist only in the minds of the Man and Woman.  There are no rules here. The 4th wall of the home is represented by the literal 4th wall.  The overall aesthetic is wide open for interpretation, with the exception of a large, blank canvas which is to be hung crooked on the upstage wall at the close.


The dialogue is broken into phrases, passages of verse.  Explore and discover rhythmic pattern and the spaces between, around, and inside of the words themselves.

SCENE 1 – 1 

At rise: we see WOMAN and MAN onstage.


Before my “he,” my walls were bare. 

He hung his painting upon my walls, 

against of which I sat.  

We sat. 

We sit upon the walls and on the walls,

 for in the walls we could not fit.

I gather and grow and feed, 

within the walls, beneath the ground, for eternities.

I dare not leave.

These walls.

These exquisite exhausting walls.

In voluntary exile.

All day long he will paint. 

Painting all he sees behind those lidded eyes.  

All the day long, I will sleep;

with the Sun.

He is the Sun.

The prodigal Sun.  

Drifting through the daylight, I, left awake 

With a hunger his energy can not quench.

I greet the Sun,



Asleep to dream in famine.

I gather twigs and grass and pine and roots but I cannot seem to stomach them.

They grab and stick inside the soft winding curves of flesh I can not see but know is there.  

Stuck inside.

And he?

He paints me scenes of old men in wild plumed hats,

riding off into battle.  

Running into the mouth of death.

Riding atop of every manner of four legged beast.

Running stillness inside of an oily thumbnail;

contrived, created, and carelessly hung, while still they pursue the hunt.  

And all the rabbit can do is run.

Running. Running. Running. 

Eventually, we all fall down.

He paints me soliloquies of dots and dashes,

Intersecting meanings. 

His brushes, screaming, 

scraping against the words he dare not speak.

Circling with delicate fingers; 

gasping, grasping, filling the spaces.  

Filling the spaces of these walls.  

We built these walls.  

We raised these walls. 

These walls were our children.  

I was once a child.

 Only a child once.  

Never a child from this body. 

To never leave.

For how could I leave.

These walls. 


We are happy.


Will you paint today?


I have already painted today.


It is still early.  Perhaps you can paint me something new?


For me it is late.


Will you paint tomorrow?


If I am alive by then.


Will you be alive tomorrow?


I can not answer your question until a later time.


When will that be then?




We are happy.


She sings me songs of silence.  

My pores spill over, full of unimaginable tones. 

A deep embrace to which there is no end.  

The octaves shriek out of her mind. 

And still, I can not speak it.

I sleep in her undergarments as she holds me close, 

but never close enough, so we lie awake at night against the walls.  

I need no bed.  

The walls cradle me.

I need no blanket,

For she covers me with her indifference.

Her touch, my lullaby.

The walls watch me as I sleep.

She guards me as I sleep.

A dreamless sleep.

She will keep the walls from falling.

Content in my reflecting moon, I imagine her in the night;

awake, alight, conversing with the walls for company. 

At dusk, we set the sun behind the walls- 

remember where we laid the sun to rest.

She screams awake the sun, the moon, the stars.  

Her screams do not wake me.  

They lull me deeper still.

Sink the moon and wake the sun,

Sweeping the stars into the palms of our hands

 To eat their poison,

Safe within these walls. 

(We hear the roll of Thunder; in the distance, yet ominous all the same.)


It will rain soon.


It can not rain.


If it can not rain, how will it rain?


No matter. These walls will keep us safe.


Will you paint again? 


Not if it rains.


But you said it can not rain.  


We are happy.


Walls, give me the strength…


I need no strength to paint.  

Lay me down upon the ground and I will paint with my eyelashes and my brows.


Walls, hear my prayers.


The walls need your strength.


And if I have nothing left to give them? 


The walls will take.

 They breathe our skin.  

They taste our sweat.  

They sense our fingerprints.  





Make me a child again. 

Sculpt me out of clay and bone. 

Paint me in pastel hues of youth.

I wish to be a child.  


Done and over.


How can it be over when I never started?  

I wasn’t ready.

I am ready now. 


Done and over.

(We hear the roll of thunder again, but it is much closer to WOMAN and MAN, much closer to their walls.)


May we be we once again?


I wish we could.  

I wish we would. 

I wish I should want to.


I want. 

I want wants.   

Distract me.

Bore me. 

Lie to me.


We are happy.


We are happy.

(MAN exits.)

I can not want.

(MAN returns with a large blank canvas.  MAN hangs the canvas on the back wall.)


I can not want.

(MAN adjusts canvas so now it is absurdly crooked.  To him, it is perfect.)


I can not want.

(MAN exits.)

(We hear thunder again, closer, as if it is rolling over MAN and WOMAN’S heads.  It begins to rain.)


Learn more about J.E. in her bio on the Featured Author page.

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