"She’s just out of the psych ward and now this./A handbag hectors us out in the street."
|From: Touched By A Handbag (or Highway To Handbag)|
||Adult: Any Age
This is the beginning of the play. Read on...
A note on the verse - We were asked to convert the original 24 hour play version into verse form for a poetry/puppetry showcase. We each took a swipe at converting the whole thing into iambic pentameter, and then Anne had the inspiration to have the handbag speak in a different verse form - limericks. Consequently, the verse forms switch back and forth. Sometimes Edwina the mother gets seduced into the limerick scheme, and then stops herself and returns to iambic pentameter. Paulina will go back and forth, depending on whether she's talking to her mother or the handbag.
Since the formatting function on the site isn't set up for iambic pentamter, I did a little improvsing. The line breaks preserve most of it. If a line of dialogue is indented, that means it is a continuation of the verse in the line before it. Hopefully that will help make the verse line shared between characters a bit clearer.
It was fun for us. Hope you enjoy it.
The full text of "Touched By A Handbag" and its related plays, including "Dog Tag," are available for purchase as part of "Theatre Unbound's 24 Hour Play Project, Selected Plays, Volume 1" (in hard copy or download form) at
All proceeds from the sale of the "24 Hour Play" books go to support the work of Theatre Unbound - www.theatreunbound.com
Part of Matthew's online script store
copyright 2005 - Anne Bertram and Matthew A. Everett
TOUCHED BY A HANDBAG (verse version)
An actress sits on stage with a sparkling purple handbag in her lap.
Enter EDWINA, PAULINA’s hand in the crook of her arm. They walk slowly, circling the perimeter of the stage.
PAULINA takes in their surroundings, wonderingly.
I put the flannel sheets out on your bed,
but otherwise I kept it just the same.
I cleaned, of course. I clean it every week.
I vacuum and I dust. But nothing’s moved.
The crocuses are all in bloom out front.
The yellow ones? You got a lovely day.
So good to have you home.
PAULINA sees the handbag and moves toward it.
But - what? Oh no.
You do not want that. Nasty plastic purse.
PAULINA makes another feint toward the bag.
You do not want it. Old and full of germs,
Or Mary Jane, or anthrax, or a bomb.
No need to worry, mama. Please. It’s fine.
This handbag looks just like the one you had,
the one I played with when I was a girl.
I never, ever had a PURPLE purse.
You did, you did! And with a pocket here,
And zippered all around, and kind to me.
We’ll order pizza when we get you home.
You order any toppings that you want.
That handbag was my friend.
That’s over now.
The doctor told you not to chat with things.
Enough with the shrinky-shrink, lady.
I’ve missed you, Paulina. How goes?
Oh Lord, she’s slipped her tether.
You’ve been away so long! Where have you been?
Through church sales I’ve been quite a rover.
Then landfills, a dump truck, a chop shop.
And just when I thought it was over -
Community theatre prop shop.
I sat through “You Can’t Take it With You,”
I suffered through “Bus Stop” and “Nerd,”
“The Fifth of July” I went AWOL.
You also got sprung, if I heard.
You haven’t changed.
Stop talking to my girl!
Ah yes, I remember your mama.
Edwina. Sometimes she’s a stitch.
Herself not a stranger to drama.
And sometimes, quite frankly, a –
Don’t talk at all, you handbag! Bags don’t talk!
Let’s go, dear. This is not the way to spend
your freedom from the hospital. Let’s eat!
A pizza. Some party. Big whoopee.
Oh gosh – will there also be Coke?
It could be a party. Come with me.
I won’t play a part in this joke!
I mean –
Adults don’t have imaginary friends.
EDWINA tries to hustle PAULINA away from the handbag.
She’s had a hard life. Can’t she come with us?
Perhaps you have forgotten how it was
When you were bonding with each stray device.
The toaster that would sing, the blender dance,
The sneakers that would patter through the house
and glow while yet they sneaked. Snuck? I’ll no more.
I won’t go where I am not wanted.
No, that I have never yet done.
But even if our house is haunted,
We never do “See How They Run.”
That handbag is not coming home with us.
Edwina. Look into my mirror.
Look, Eddie. Now what do you see?
Now you’ll have to come nearer.
It’s bad luck.
Come here. Look at me.
PAULINA looks into HANDBAG’s mirror.
Ah look! It’s my favorite reflection.
The prettiest girl in the world.
JUST STOP IT. Don’t encourage her.
Paulina. Sugar. Hon. Don’t listen. Please.
But don’t you think I’m pretty?
Oh, of course.
Of course you are. You’re being silly. You
don’t need to have a handbag tell you that.
I’ve only had a handbag tell me that.
You’re lovely. You’re a lovely girl. If you
would spend more of your time on living things --
Oh God, not more Tennessee Williams.
Ah do declare. Blow out your candles.
You should have paid attention to that play.
You’d know a mother must protect her daughter.
She isn’t a nut. Or a cripple.
She’s different. But that, you can’t handle.
The world is never kind to different.
With every year, its cruelty increases.
But that’s the world’s problem, not Paulie’s.
Just stop for a second and trace it.
Protecting? You’re blind to your follies.
You’re making it worse, Eddie. Face it.
She’s just out of the psych ward and now this.
A handbag hectors us out in the street.
The world is not our problem now. You are.
Edwina. Come look in my mirror.
I promise you will not regret it.
I won’t take advice from faux leather.
Like you’re a real redhead.
I won’t stand and fight with a cast-off –
You’re calling me “cast-off”, you slag?
Last year’s model!
All dried up!
EDWINA and HANDBAG
Should I just leave the two of you alone?
I think you have some issues to resolve.
Oh, you want a piece? Come and get it.
EDWINA makes a move for the handbag.
HANDBAG snaps at her hand.
Hm. Tastes just like fish sticks, I’d say.
All burned in the freezer for eons.
Oh, do you mean the freezer that would spew
harsh Northern Lights onto my kitchen wall?
Such terrifying ice cubes would result.
I junked it!
I should have done it long ago. The time
I kicked you to the curb, you lying purse!
HANDBAG displays its mirror.
How can you give help to your daughter
If you cannot face who you are?
(there's more, but the conclusion to the story isn't available for viewing on this website)
copyright 2005 - Anne Bertram and Matthew A. Everett