Marguerite (17 pages in PDF format) by John P. Dowgin
An aging diva finds her cherished voice failing her – with a treacherous understudy waiting in the wings. But she has a few magical tricks up her sleeve…
“The devil’s voice is sweet to hear.” — Stephen King, Needful Things, 1991.
But it’s not the devil’s voice that takes center stage in “Marguerite,” a short script by John P. Dowgin — it’s Marguerite’s own voice, although there’s clearly some devilry going on behind the scenes. “Marguerite” is a modern Gothic horror tale rife with jealousy and treachery and the lust for fame and fortune. And voodoo.
Marguerite Woolsley is an aging African-American diva who will stop at nothing to preserve her youth… and her voice. She’s set to make her triumphant comeback in a modern revival of Scott Joplin’s opera, “Treemonisha,” which tells the tale of slave life on a southern plantation in the 1800s. But the title character is an 18-year-old woman, and Marguerite is in her 60s. As the screenplay tells us, “Her age shows even under stage makeup, but cannot dim her presence.” More important for an opera singer, though, is her voice, and it’s not what it once was. During a dress rehearsal she tries to hit a high “C” and her voice cracks. “The note she hits is not only clearly wrong, it’s not even close.” The producers panic, but not Marguerite. A little dose of voodoo — some candles, animals skulls, a necklace made of bones, and thirteen dead crows — and voila! Her voice is sweet again. As sweet as, well… the devil’s.
But Marguerite’s understudy, Therese, has plans of her own. And some voodoo of her own, too. Like a predator sensing weakness, she strikes, sabotaging Marguerite’s voodoo talisman, her gris-gris bag, and we watch as Marguerite withers. First her voice goes, and then, when we last see Marguerite, “Her face is ancient skin stretched over bone. Her eyes have recessed into her skull.”
And Therese is set for her “triumphant debut” in “Treemonisha.”
But there’s voodoo, and there’s voodoo. And when Marguerite’s gnarled hand reaches into her hidden voodoo shrine and retrieves the ancient book, the mysterious pearl box, and the magic red powder, it can only mean one thing…
…not so fast, Therese!
Budget: Rather high, but manageable, and definitely worth every penny. Locations (e.g., the Metropolitan Opera House) and some aging effects would be the most expensive budget items. If they were simulated somehow, the overall budget would be moderate.
About the writer: John P. Dowgin is a playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, as well as a founding member of the production company The Porch Room (porchroom.com) for whom he directed the original work ‘Antony & Cleopatra: Infinite Lives” at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. Two of John’s plays have been published in the compilation “Accidents Happen” by Samuel French, and have been performed in New York, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Toronto, Dublin, and Australia. A number of his screenplays are also in ‘development’, which he suspects to be a theoretical dimension like Oz. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.
About the guest reviewer: Helen Magellan (a pseudonym) is a successful screenwriter with several produced short scripts under her belt.
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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.