Short Eyes: A Play by Miguel PiñeroShort Eyes: A Play by Miguel Piñero

Short Eyes: A Play

byMiguel PiñeroIntroduction byMarvin Felix Camillo

Paperback | January 1, 1975

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Winner of the New York Drama Critics Circle Award

This powerful drama of prison life is set in a house of detention where a group of young convicts-predominantly black and Puerto Rican-taunt, fight, insult, and entertain one another in an attempt to preserve their sanity and to create a semblance of community. When a young white prisoner accused of child molesting is thrown into the cell block by a guard who says he belongs in Sing Sing because "the men up there konw what to do with degenerates like you," the stage is set for an explosive series of events; for, among prisoners, this child molester called "short eyes" is the lowest of criminals.

Miguel Pinero, once a burglar, mugger, shoplifter, and drug addict, began writing when serving a five-year sentence in Sing Sing for armed robbery. He was discovered and encouraged by Marvin Felix Camillo, who conducted a drama workshop at the prison. Camillo''s workshop grew into an acting company of ex-convicts called "The Family,"...
Title:Short Eyes: A PlayFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:144 pages, 7.96 X 5.19 X 0.39 inShipping dimensions:144 pages, 7.96 X 5.19 X 0.39 inPublished:January 1, 1975Publisher:Farrar, Straus And GirouxLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0374521476

ISBN - 13:9780374521479

Appropriate for ages: All ages

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Read from the Book

Short EyesACT ONEDayroom in the House of Detention. Upstage right is entrance gate. Upstage left is gate leading to shower room and slop sink. Upstage center is a toilet and drinking fountain. Above is a catwalk. Stage left is a table and chairs. Downstage right is a garbage can. Upstage right is a TV set on a stand. Early-morning lock-in after the morning meal. Early-morning light. INMATES'' VOICES can be heard: various ad-libs, calling out to each other, asking questions, exchanging prison gossip, etc.  MORRISON All right, listen up ... I said listen up.(Whistle)When I call your names, give me your cell location.(Catcalls)Off the fucking noise. Now if I have to call out your name more than once, pray--cause your soul may belong to God, but your ass is mine.(More catcalls. House lights go out) Williams, D. VOICE RESPONSEUpper D 14. MORRISONHomer, J. VOICE RESPONSELower D 7. MORRISONStone, F. VOICE RESPONSELower D 5. MORRISONMiller, G. VOICE RESPONSEUpper D 3. MORRISONLockout for criminal court ...(Whistle)"A" side dayroom. All right, already! ... knock it off.Supreme Court.(Whistle)Johnson. INMATE VOICEWho? MORRISONJohnson. TWO INMATE VOICESWho? MORRISONJohnson. A LOT OF VOICESWho? ... who? ... who? ... who? ... MORRISONAw, come on, fellas, give me a break. INMATE VOICEYour brains may belong to the state, but your sanity belongs to me. INMATE VOICEAw, come on, fellas, give the fella a break. INMATE VOICEBreak ...(Bronx cheer) MORRISONJohnson. INMATE VOICEUpper D 15. MORRISONCorree-a. INMATE VOICECan''t you say my name right?(Giving proper pronunciation)Correa ... Correa ... Correa. MORRISONYou guys go to the "C" side dayroom(Whistle)Sing Sing reception center. Gomez, A. VOICE RESPONSELower D 9. MORRISONShit-can-do.(Catcalls) VOICE RESPONSEScicando ... Lower D 11. MORRISONBring all your personal belongings and go to the "B" side dayroom.(Catcalls)All right, you guys want to play games, you guys don''t let up that noise, you guys ain''t locking out this morning. INMATE VOICEYou got it.(Ad-libs continue until OMAR speaks) ICEFuck you, sucker.(Silence. Sound of prison gate opening is heard) MORRISON(Whistle--dayroom lights come on)All right, on the lockout.(Enter OMAR, LONGSHOE, EL RAHEEM, PACO, and ICE. Each runs toward his respective position. Ad-libs.Then JUAN walks slowly toward his position.CUPCAKES is the last to come in. The MEN accompany him with simple scat singing to the tune of "The Stripper." Ad-libs) JUANWhy don''t you cut that loose? Man, don''t you think that kid get tired of hearing that every morning? PACOOh, man, we just jiving. ICEHey, Cupcake, you ain''t got no plexes behind that, do you? CUPCAKESI mean ... like no ... but ... PACOYou see, Juan, Cupcake don''t mind. CUPCAKESNo, really, Juan. Like I don''t mind ... But that doesn''t mean that I like to listen to it. I mean ... like ... hey ... I call you guys by your name. Why don''t you call me by mine? My name ain''t Cupcakes, it''s Julio. EL RAHEEMIf you would acknowledge that you are God, your namewouldn''t be Cupcake or Julio or anything else. You would be Dahoo. LONGSHOEAlready! Can''t you spare us that shit early in the a.m.? EL RAHEEMNo ... one ... is ... talking ... to ... you ... Yacoub. LONGSHOEThe name is Longshoe Charlie Murphy ... Mister Murphy to you. EL RAHEEMYacoub ... maker and creator of the devil ... swine merchant. Your time is near at hand. Fuck around and your time will be now. Soon all devils'' heads will roll and now rivers shall flow through the city--created by the blood of Whitey ... Devil ... beast. OMARSalaam Alaikum. PACOSalami with bacons. ICEPower to the people. LONGSHOEFree the Watergate 500. JUANPa''lante. CUPCAKESTippecanoe and Tyler too. PACO(On table, overly feminine)A la lucha ... a la lucha ... que somo mucha ... OMARHey! Hey ... you know the Panthers say "Power to the people." MR. NETTOn the gate. OMAR(Strong voice)Power to the people. And gay liberators say ...(High voice, limp wrist in fist)Power to the people.(Enter NETT) MR. NETTHow about police power? JUANHow about it? Oink, oink. MR. NETTWise guy. Paco, you got a counsel visit. PACOVaya. OMARMr. Nett? MR. NETTYeah, what is it? OMARMr. Nett, you know like I''ve been here over ten months--and I''d like to know why I can''t get on the help. Like I''ve asked a dozen times ... and guys that just come in are shot over me ... and I get shot down ... Like why? Have I done something to you? Is there something about me that you don''t like? MR. NETT Why, no. I don''t have anything against you. But since you ask me I''ll tell you. One is that when you first came in here you had the clap. OMARBut I don''t have it any more. That was ten months ago. MR. NETTHow many fights have you had since the first day you came on the floor? OMARBut I haven''t had a fight in a long time. MR. NETTHow many? OMARSeven. MR. NETTSeven? Close to ten would be my estimation. No, if I put you on the help, there would be trouble in no time. Now if you give me your word that you won''t fight and stay cool, I''ll give it some deep consideration. OMARI can''t give you my word on something like that. You know I don''t stand for no lame coming out the side of his neck with me. Not my word ... My word is bond. EL RAHEEMBond is life. OMARThat''s why I can''t give you my word. My word is my bond. Man in prison ain''t got nothing but his word, and he''s got to be careful who and how and for what he give it for. But I''ll tell you this, I''ll try to be cool. MR. NETTWell, you''re honest about it anyway. I''ll think it over.(PACO and MR. NETT exit) EL RAHEEMTry is a failure. OMARFuck you. EL RAHEEMTry is a failure. Do. OMARFuck you. EL RAHEEMFuck yourself, it''s cheaper. CUPCAKESHey, Mr. Nett--put on the power. MR. NETT(From outside the gate)The power is on. CUPCAKESThe box ain''t on. MR. NETTMight be broken. I''ll call the repairman. JUANMight as well listen to the radio. ICEThe radio ain''t workin'' either, Juan. I tried to get BLS a little while ago and got nothin'' but static, Jack. CUPCAKESAnyone wants to play Dirty Hearts? I ain''t got no money, but I''ll have cigarettes later on this week. OMARMoney on the wood makes bettin'' good. ICERight on.(LONGSHOE gives CUPCAKES cigarettes) JUANHey, Julio.(Throws CUPCAKES cigarettes.BROWN appears outside entrance gate) BROWNOn the gate.(Gate opens and PACO enters. Gate closes and BROWN exits) CUPCAKESShit. That was a real fast visit. PACONot fast enough. LONGSHOEWhat the man say about your case? PACOThe bitch wants me to cop out to a D--she must think my dick is made of sponge rubber. I told her to tell the D.A. to rub the offer on his chest. Not to come to court on my behalf--shit, the bitch must have made a deal with the D.A. on one of her paying customers. Man, if I wait I could get a misdemeanor by my motherfucking self. What the fuck I need with a Legal Aid? Guess who''s on the bench? ICEWho they got out there? PACOCop-out Levine. ICEWow! He give me a pound for a frown. PACOFirst they give me a student, and now a double-crossin'' bitch. LONGSHOEWe all got to make a living. PACOOn my expense? No fucking good. EL RAHEEMYou still expect the white man to give you a fair trial in his court? Don''t you know what justice really means? Justice ... "just us" ... white folks. PACOLook here, man. I don''t expect nothing from nobody--especially the Yankees. Man, this ain''t my first time before them people behind these walls, cause I ain''t got the money for bail. And you can bet that it won''t be my last time--not as long as I''m poor and Puerto Rican. CUPCAKESCome on, let''s play ... for push-ups. JUANHow many? CUPCAKESTen if you got just one book, fifteen if you got two. PACOI ain''t playing for no goddamn push-ups. ICEHey--come on, don''t be like that. PACOSaid ain''t playing for no push-ups. Tell you what, let''s play for coochie-coochies. ICEWhat the hell is coochie-coochies? JUANIt''s a game they play in Puerto Rico. You ever see a flick about Hawaii? Them girls with the grass skirts moving their butts dancing? That''s coochie-coochies. ICEI thought that was the hula-jack. PACOPut your shirt on your hips like this and move your ass. Coochie-coochie-coochie ... CUPCAKESThat''s out. PACOYou got a plexes? CUPCAKESTold you before that I don''t have no complexes. JUANYou got no plexes at all? CUPCAKESNo. JUANThen why not let me fuck you? CUPCAKESThat''s definitely out. JUANPeople without complexes might as well turn stuff. OMARThinking of joining the ranks? Cruising the tearooms? EL RAHEEMWhat kind of black original man talk is that? Cupcakes puts the wisdom before the knowledge because that''s his nature. He can''t help that. But you are deliberately acting and thinking out of your nature ... thinking like the white devil, Yacoub. Your presence infects the minds of my people like a fever. You, Yacoub, are the bearer of three thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine diseases ... corrupt ... evil ... pork-chop-eating brain ... LONGSHOELook. EL RAHEEMWhere? LONGSHOEI''m sick and ... EL RAHEEMSee, brothers, he admits he is sick with corruption. LONGSHOEWho? EL RAHEEMYou''re not only the devil, you''re also an owl? LONGSHOEWhy? EL RAHEEM"Y"--why? Why is "Y" the twenty-fifth letter of the alphabet? LONGSHOEYou ... son of ... EL RAHEEMYou ... me ... they ... them. This ... those ... that ... "U" for the unknown. LONGSHOEI ... I ... EL RAHEEMEye ... I ... Aye ... Aye ... Aiiii ... hi ... LONGSHOEGames, huh? EL RAHEEMThe way of life is no game. Lame. LONGSHOEG ... O ... D ... D ... O ... G ... God spelled backward is dog ... dog spelled backward is God ... If Allah is God, Allah is a dog. EL RAHEEMAllah Akbar.(Screams, jumps on him)Allah Akbar.(MR. NETT and BROWN appear outside entrance gate) MR. NETTOn the gate.(BROWN opens gate. MR. NETT and BROWN enter. MR. NETT breaks them apart) MR. NETTWhat the hell is going on here? OMARMr. Nett, let these two git it off, else we''s gonna have mucho static around here. ICEYeah ... Mr. Nett ... they got a personality thing going on for weeks. MR. NETTFair fight, Murphy? LONGSHOEThat''s what I want. MR. NETTJohnson? EL RAHEEMEl Raheem. Johnson is a slave name.(Nods)May your Christian God have mercy on your soul, Yacoub.(BROWN closes gate.EL RAHEEM and LONGSHOE square off and begin to fight ... boxing ... some wrestling.LONGSHOE is knocked clean across the room) LONGSHOEGuess you say that left hook is Whitey trickology? EL RAHEEMNo, honky, you knocked me down. My sister hits harder than that. She''s only eight.(They wrestle until EL RAHEEM is on top. Then NETT breaks them apart) OMARWhy didn''t you break it up while Whitey was on top? MR. NETTListen, why don''t you two guys call it quits--ain''t none of you really gonna end up the winner ... Give it up ... be friends ... shake hands ... Come, break it up, you both got your shit off ... break it up. Go out and clean yourselves up. Make this the last time I see either of you fighting. On the gate. Next time I turn on the water.(BROWN and NETT exit, gate closes.The RICANS go to their table and begin to play on the table as if it were bongos) ICEYou two got it together. EL RAHEEMI am God ... master and ruler of my universe ... I am always together. OMARLet me ask you one question, God. EL RAHEEMYou have permission to ask two. OMARThank you ... If you''re God, why are you in jail? God can do anything, right? Melt these walls down, then create a stairway of light to the streets below ... God. If you''re God, then you can do these things. If you can''t, tell me why God can''t do a simple thing like that. EL RAHEEMI am God ... I am a poor righteous teacher of almighty Allah and by his will I am here to awaken the original lost in these prisons ... Black original man is asleep ... This is your school of self-awareness. Wake up, black man, melt these walls? You ask me, a tangible god, to do an intangible feat? Mysterious intangible gods do mysterious intangible deeds. There is nothing mysterious about me. Tangible gods do tangible deeds.(PUERTO RICAN GROUP goes back to playing. "Toca, si, va, tocar") CUPCAKES(On table, M.C.-style)That''s right, ladies and gentlemen ... damas y caballeros ... every night is Latin night at the House of Detention. Tonight for the first time ... direct from his record-breaking counsel visit ... on congas is Paco Pasqual ... yeaaaaaa. With a all-star band ... for your listening enjoyment ... Juan Bobo Otero on timbales ... On mouth organ Charles Murphy ... To show you the latest dancing are Iceman, John Wicker ... and his equally talented partner, Omar Blinker ... yeaaaaaa. While tapping his toes for you all ... moving his head to the rhythm of the band is the mighty El Raheem, yeaaaaaaa. Boooooooo. Yes, brothers and sisters, especially you sisters, don''t miss this musical extravaganza. I''ll be there, too ... to say hello to all my friends ... So be there ... Don''t be the one to say "Gee, I missed it" ... This is your cha-cha jockey, Julio ... ALLCupcakes ... CUPCAKESMercado ... Be sure to be there ... Catch this act ... this show of shows before they leave on a long extended touring engagement with state ...(PACO pinches CUPCAKES''s ass)Keep your hands off my ass, man.(CUPCAKES moves stage left, sits pouting. Ad-libs) PACOHey, kid, do one of those prison toasts ...(They urge him on with various ad-libs) CUPCAKESAll right, dig ... You guys gotta give me background ... Clap your hands and say ... Mambo tu le pop ... It was the night before Christmas ... and all through the pad ... cocaine and heroin was all the cats had. One cat in the corner ... copping a nod ... Another scratching thought he was God ... I jumps on the phone ... and dial with care ... hoping my reefer ... would soon be there ... After a while ... crowding my style ... I ran to the door ... see what''s the matter ... And to my surprise ... I saw five police badges ... staring ... glaring in my eyes ... A couple of studs ... starts to get tough, so I ran to the bathroom ... get rid of the stuff ... narc bang ... bang ... but they banged in vain ... cause you see ... what didn''t go in my veins went down the drain ... Broke down the door ... knock me to the floor ... and took me away, that''s the way I spent my last Christmas Day ... like a dirty dog ... in a dark and dingy cell ... But I didn''t care cause I was high as hell ... But I was cool ... I was cool ... I was cool ... You people are the fools ... cream of the top ... cause I got you say something as stupid as Mambo tu le pop.(GROUP chases CUPCAKES around stage.BROWN and CLARK DAVIS appear outside entrance gate) BROWNOn the gate.(Gate opens and CLARK DAVIS enters, goes to stage center. BROWN closes gate and exits) CUPCAKESHey, Longshoe ... one of your kin ... look-a-like sin just walked in ... EL RAHEEMAnother devil. LONGSHOEHey ... hey, whatdayasay ... My name''s Longshoe Charlie Murphy. Call me Longshoe. What''s your name? CLARKDavis ... Clark ... Ah ... Clark Davis ... Clark is my first name. PACOClark Kent. CUPCAKESMild-mannered, too. OMARNo, no, Superman.(Other ad-libs: "Faster than a speeding bullet," etc.) PACOOye ... Shoe ... Está bueno ... Pa'' rajalo ... LONGSHOEBack ... back ... boy ... no está bueno ... anyway, no mucho ... como Cupcake. PACOVaya. LONGSHOEPay them no mind ... crazy spies ... where you locking? CLARKUpper D 15. LONGSHOESiberia, huh? ... Tough. CLARKFirst time in the joint. LONGSHOEYeah? Well, I better hip you to what''s happening fast. ICELook out for your homey, Shoe. OMARSecond. LONGSHOELook here, this is our section ... white ... dig? That''s the Rican table, you can sit there if they give you permission ... Same goes with the black section. ICESay it loud. OMARI''m black and proud. ICEVaya! LONGSHOEMost of the fellas are in court. I''m the Don Gee here. Youknow what that mean, right? Good ... Niggers and the spics don''t give us honkies much trouble. We''re cool half ass. This is a good floor. Dynamite hack on all shifts. Stay away from the black gods ...(NETT appears outside gate) NETTOn the gate. 

Editorial Reviews

"An authentic, powerful theatrical piece that tells you more about the anti-universe of prison life than any play outside the work of Jean Genet." -Jack Kroll, Newsweek

"Mr. Piñero writes very well indeed. His dialogue sizzles with truth." -Clive Barnes, The New York Times