One-act play

Character List 

Fujita Kazuo, an old man in his 60s or 70s, struggling to get a grip on his reality and to come to terms with his past.

Scene 1    

The stage is empty except for a small worn-out foldable chair and a coffee table which has stacks of letters and a stale plate of onigiri[1] at stage top right and lights are a light blue colour. FUJITA walks on stage at stage left in a light blue hospital gown, frowning and tugging at his clothes. At centre stage, a small cage. From the cage, chirping and fluttering can be heard. FUJITA slowly sits down to peer into the cage.

Fujita  Wh- Where am I? (a loud fluttering and thud is heard from a cage at downstage left. FUJITA approaches it carefully) A bird… Why are you in a cage? (bird chirps, FUJITA looks and sounds panicked) Okuma! Please, I need to tell her! Tell her I’m sorry! (Lights dim and turn brown. FUJITA sits, asleep at downstage, wearing a light blue shirt, much like the hospital gown, and pajama pants. He jolts awake.) 

Fujita   I’m gonna be late for work! Okuma will be late for school! I can’t skip work today, (cough) I’ve got the important meeting, I must go now! Where’s my bag? (hurriedly stands up and puts on a coat) Okuma, time for school! Come down or you’ll be late! (Sound of metallic thumping from upstage left) Are you our new tenants? Tsk, I called Okuma not you! (metallic thumping resumes again, moving towards FUJITA. He walks as if being guided and sits back down in his armchair where he was sleeping) That lady… Her leg… Metal…?

Scene 2

As FUJITA slumps in his seat, the lights turn from brown to a bright white. At downstage right, a row of three cushioned chairs. FUJITA is seen being pulled from his original seat and brought to sit in one of the cushioned chairs, frowning and looking around him. At centre stage, a hospital bed with an armchair to its right. Monitors in the hospital beat almost in unison. FUJITA turns to his left.

Fujita  Excuse me? Oh! You’re the lady with a metal leg from this morning! (coughs) Don’t shush me! ( long pause, FUJITA is seemingly guided towards the hospital bed) What- Please, I really need to fetch my daughter from school- (He sits in the armchair awkwardly and looks to his left, talking to the air) Why do I have to be here for your check up? (looks in front of him) Okay… Fine, Doctor, I’ll just sit here for the rest of the check up. (lights change to light blue) 

Fujita   This place… It’s familiar… I’ve been here- a while ago. (pause) I remember casts and bandages and doctors coming in to do check-ups. (cough) I remember spending the days alone, no one visiting. At least, no one who should have been visiting. Like my wife. And Okuma. (sound of a bird chirping) Okuma! My wife! Where are they? What happened? Are they okay? (sound of wings flapping frantically) I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m s- (he hyperventilates) 

Scene 3 

Lights dim. A small table with a vase and a bunch of violets and chrysanthemums near a hospital bed at centre stage. The small table also has a tissue box and a small photo frame. Birds can be heard chirping. Fujita stands at downstage centre, spotlight on him.

Fujita   A bird kept chirping that morning. Constantly. A loud, high, shrill chirp. It got on my nerves, rang throughout my head and never left. It chirped as I woke Okuma up. It chirped as I hurriedly packed my bag. It chirped as I rushed my wife as she did her make up. (He looks behind him, stands straighter. FUJITA shouts.) CAN SOMEBODY SHUT THAT BIRD UP? (He falls back into character) We got out of the house and away from the bird really fast, though. We were all late. But I kept hearing it. Through my ears, up to my brain. A shrill shriek, barely a chirp.

It shrieked as I turned up the radio to distract myself. It shrieked as I slammed my foot on the accelerator. It shrieked as I emergency braked and continued shrieking as we flipped. 

It didn’t stop shrieking, until Okuma was shrieking louder. It didn’t stop, until my wife stopped shouting at Okuma.       

Scene 4 

Lights turn brown. All is silent. FUJITA sits in his armchair at stage left, jolts awake.  

Fujita   I’m gonna be late for work! Okuma will be late for school! (sits up, winces, lies back down) Nononono, what is this pain? I can’t skip work today- (looks offstage, frowns. Lights become a dull yellow) O- Okuma? Your leg! It’s okay! Listen, Okuma, I’m- (stumbles out of chair and crawls forward slightly.) I’m so sorry. For everything- Please, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have- have shouted. Should have paid attention- (sobbing) I remember now, I know. And I’m sorry- (violently coughs and falls) I’m- sor-

Scene 5

Lights turn off and turn into a mystical light blue, FUJITA slowly stops coughing and moves to front stage. 

In this moment… All of my memories… Coming back… Just- (makes a ‘zoom’ sound) I remembered… Teaching Okuma how to cycle… (soft bird chirp) Marrying my wife… (soft bird chirp) Sending them both to work and school in the morning… (louder bird chirp) Rushing to get to be on time- (shrill and loud bird chirp) Speeding- Faster. (another shrill chirp) Turning back just to scold and- and snap. (a woman offstage shouts) WATCH OUT! (Sound of tires squealing. silence, move from centre stage to upstage right.) 

 I remember cherry blossoms and melted snow-

My wife nagging at Okuma.

They forgot to put their seatbelts on. 

(walks to the small table, picks up a small picture frame. Sound of a car crash and screams.) 

Fujita   (pause) I- I didn’t mean for all this to happen. I loved them so much. It- It was just a bad day. I should have kept my eyes on the road… God- (he looks up) I just- I hope if my wife is looking down on me right now… I just want them to know I’m sorry. That- That even if I forget them… Some part of me is sorry. Some part of me still remembers… (lights dim, he walks over to the hospital bed and lies down, unmoving. The chirping of a bird is heard for a few moments before curtains fall) 


Hanna Binte Muhammad Al Hafidz (class of 2026) is a writer who couldn’t figure out anything interesting enough to put into this biography but is very cool, just trust me.