A Staged Reality

by Esin Ustundag

Short Film*
Email: [email protected]

                                                A Staged Reality.
                                             Esin Ustundag


Robert Langford: A 23 year old aspiring actor, somewhat attractive and introverted off and on screen.

Samantha Johnson: A friend of Robert's, also and actor. 21 year old good looking girl who always gets the parts she wants and is outgoing.

Matt Arthur: Another friend of Robert's, a 24 year old male model. He has a large network of friends in ‘the business.’

Jack McAlister: A vindictive casting agent from the panel Robert auditions in front of.


Robert is an actor. He lives in the heart of Prahran in Melbourne and is just trying to make it in an industry he loves so passionately but just isn't brilliant at. With all the roles he has played, another actor has played them better. Everything he does, there's just always someone somewhere doing it better than he is. So when Robert is rejected from yet another audition he figures, how can someone outdo dying? Who else will have the passion and courage to kill themselves as part of their act? If he goes and does this, plays the part... and actually dies, not only does the publicity reach all ends of the globe but his realistic portrayal goes down as artistic genius. From that moment forth, Robert Langford is known as the one who sacrificed himself for expression, so to speak.


Robert is pacing up and down his apartment with a script in one hand whilst talking on the phone to Samantha on his cordless.

Robert: I know, Sam. I'm just nervous that's all... Yeah yeah, I know, I know ‘if I do my best that's all that counts’ blah blah blah... I will try my best but I don't think I can take another rejection.... There's only a certain amount of times someone can say “no”... You know, I still haven't heard from that other audition I did a few weeks ago... I should have known as soon as they said “don't call us, we'll call you” that they weren't interested... I just want to play a part, Sam. That's all...
Anyway, I'm going to have to go now... Wish me luck... Thanks... Ok, I'll call you after the audition.


Robert is auditioning for a part in a hillbilly style play in front of a panel. Whilst standing next to the chair, he reads out his lines.

Robert: (In a pseudo-romantic voice) I told you, you piece of scum, not to mess with my friends! How dare you come on our property without our permission and expect us to welcome you with open arms and gratitude? Your father was the same as well. He used to steal from my grand-daddy all the time back when they was a kid. I always knew there was a little bit of your pop left in yew!

Robert folds up the script and sits on the chair, awaiting the panel's feedback. Light is still shining on Robert.

Jack McAlister: Ok now, Robert... Was it?

Robert: Yes.

Jack McAlister: Well, Robert you seemed to have memorised the script very well but there are some areas you need improving on.

Robert: Like what? I'd be very grateful if you could point out some of the weak parts of my acting.

Jack McAlister: (crudely) I don't think I have enough time, Robby. Look, you're just not what we're looking for.

Robert: (stunned) I don't. I don't understand, you said I had the script down pat.

Jack McAlister: Yes, but your improvisation was shocking. You didn't have a believable southern American accent and you kept fidgeting with the script. We shouldn't have to train you for this part; you should have researched your character better before coming in.

Robert: But I thought -

Jack McAlister: I suggest you save your agent the time and only audition for parts that have been played a hundred times, maybe then you'll have something to look at and research before auditioning for it.

Robert stands, leaves his script on the chair and walks away.

Jack McAlister: Call in the next actor please.

Robert moves to left of stage and dials a number.

Robert: Hey... Nah, I don't think it went well at all... Can you come over to my place in about an hour...? Yeah, I'm ok; just need a friendly face... Ok. Thanks... See you then.


Robert and Samantha are sitting on the couch

Samantha: I'm sure you tried your best, and that's all that counts, babe.

Robert: You keep telling me this but I just don't think it's enough, Sam.

Samantha: I'm telling you the truth, Robert. How do you think I get my parts? I try my best and it works.

Robert: Yeah, it also helps if you have an ass like yours as well.

Sam: Oh come on! You can't be serious, can you? I work really hard for acting and you know that.

Robert: I know, but I'm just saying it helps If you're attractive.

Sam: I don't think that has anything to do with it and I'm starting to think you're taking cheap shots at me, Rob.

Robert: Ok, ok. I'm really sorry; I'm just stressed out. I don't know what I'm saying. I wish I could just find a part to play that would get me recognised.

Sam: Just keep looking and you will and if that doesn't work (somewhat jokingly) you can just write your own play and cast it yourself.

Robert: Yeah with how I'm going, I think that's going to be my only option!

Sam: (laughs and gives Robert a sympathy hug) that's actually not a bad idea now that I think of it.

Robert: Oh don't be ridiculous, Sam.

Sam: Seriously, think about it. You can create a part for yourself and it'd be perfect!

Robert: So this is what it's come to huh?

Sam: Gosh, don't be so cynical! Just try it. Think of something that inspires you, write a script about it and produce it yourself.

Robert: I may have a confession to make.

Sam: Oh no, is it going to be like the one where you told me you had the hots for me on my 21st?

Robert: Must you remind me of that? I WAS ABSOLUTELY HAMMERED!

Sam: Ok, ok. Go on, I'm listening.

Robert: I kind of (hesitantly) already wrote a play. I've been working on it ever since acting classes.

Sam: Really?

Robert: Remember how we had to take that scriptwriting class as well as our acting ones because our trainer wanted us to master the craft?

Sam: Yeah.

Robert: Well, I actually wrote one.

Sam: Why haven't you told me this before?

Robert: I don't know, it seemed stupid at the time but I'm starting to realise I might actually need it now.

Sam: Show me!

Robert: Uh uh! NO WAY! I've been rejected by acting and I'm not about to be rejected by my best friend because of some stupid script!

Sam: Oh come on, it can't be that bad!

Robert: It's not; I think it may have some substance to it. I think I write better than I act, as depressing as that is to say out loud.

Sam: Don't be such a prude. Let me read it. I could act in it as well. Just express yourself, Robert!

Robert: That's perfect; let me get my tape recorder! (Robert
rummages around his apartment for his recorder. He finds it then brings it over to Sam) Say that again!

Sam: Say what again?

Robert: Express yourself

Sam: (says it softly) Express yourself

Robert: No, say it like you would if you were on a really television ad and that's the only thing they wanted you to say.

Sam: Ahhh, ok. Are you ready?

Robert: Yup. (Gets his recorder ready)

Sam: Express yourself!

Robert: Perfect!! (Robert puts the recorder on the coffee table)

Sam: So can I see your script now?

Robert: No, no, no. Look, how about we just forget I ever mentioned the script and go along with our normal night?

Sam: Alright fine, be a prude. But I'm just trying to help you, you know this right?

Robert: I do, and I'm very grateful for it but I think I need to figure out what I want to do with my life now that no one will give me my big break.

Sam: You'll have your time of fame, Robert. I can assure you this.

Samantha kisses Robert on the cheek

Sam: I have to go now, I need to memorise some lines for the show tomorrow night.

Robert: Yes, just rub it in, Sam. I don't have a part in a play and you do.

Sam: (Shocked) I was only being honest.

Robert: (Laughs) Ha-ha that look on your face was priceless I was only joking.

Sam: Oh fuck you!

Robert: Now, now. No need to get harsh.

Sam: I'm going now!

Samantha walks out and slams the door behind her
Robert: (screams) LOVE YA!

Matt is sitting by himself at a table in a café waiting for Samantha to arrive, he whistles and howls at attractive females walking past.
Matt: (to a girl walking by the cafe) Hey baby! How about a kiss for a lonesome man? No? Ok then, your loss, toots. Let's see now... ugly, fat, looks like my cousin Susan, walks funny, weird hair, (Matt spots an incredibly attractive girl) WOW!!! And then God said “Let there be beautiful women in halter neck tops!” Jesus honey, just look at me and I'd come. No I'm only joking, talk to me, come on... BABY!
(Samantha walks to Matt's table)
Sam: I see you haven't changed since the last time I saw you.
Matt: I'm just letting the ladies know they're beautiful.
Sam: Oh please, save me the ‘reasons’ and let's talk about what we really came here for?
Matt: You got it, bebeh.
Sam: Matt, I'm being serious!
Matt: Fucking hell, what's your problem? Just relax!
Sam: Alright, I'm leaving if you're going to be acting like an idiot.
Matt: Ok, ok. I'm listening!
Sam: Ok, so you know Rob is down and out about not being hired for a job yet, yeah?
Matt: Oh no, not this conversation again. Sam, I don't want to talk about him. I told you this on the phone!
Sam: Come on, Matt. He needs us!
Matt: Bullshit he does.
Sam: Please, Matt. He's our friend.
Matt: I know, but still...
Sam: I didn't ask you to give him one of your fucking kidneys!
Matt: You may as well have!!
Sam: He's not that bad, Matt.
Matt: Sam, no offence to you and your altruism here but finding Robert an audition is hard; I don't see how getting him a private meeting with producers is going to be any easier.
Sam: I'm just asking you to try, that's it.
(Matt's eyes shifts to another attractive girl walking past)
Sam: Robert doesn't know we're doing this so what's the harm in just trying?
Matt: Fuck, you're a ball breaker!
Sam: So you'll do it?
Matt: I can't promise anything!
(Samantha squeals for joy like a child)
Sam: Thanks Matt!!

Robert is talking on the phone whilst working on his script at his desk.
Robert: So how much would it cost to hire out your theatre...? Uh huh, no I'll only need it for one night... Yes, we're a very small cast... We only want to hire for one night... Yes... Ok fantastic, anything this week...? I'll take it... I'll be down there tomorrow afternoon to set up and give you the deposit... Also, how do you feel about fake blood on your floors...? It has one somewhat gruesome scene in it, yes... Not a worry...? Great! I'll see you soon.
(As soon as Robert hangs up the phone, it rings again but he does not pick up, instead, it goes to message bank. It is Sam. Robert listens to the message while he shifts his attention elsewhere.)
Sam V.O: Hey there! I haven't seen you for a whole week! I was just calling to ask if you wanted to have lunch sometime this week, maybe you could show me your script? Well anyway, just call me when you get this message and we'll talk. Take care.

Robert is reading his script aloud, practicing for his opening in a few days. He looks gaunt as he has dedicated his past week to his script and has not been eating or sleeping. He is giddy with excitement and seems to be delirious from lack of sleep.
Robert: To one, acting may seem effortless. Tis true, the acting itself is easy yet the networking and acceptance is somewhat hard. Sure, I may not have the best looking features in the world, but at least I have some dignity. You see females out there in the ‘biz’ (That's show business for those of you who are wondering.) who bear all for a small part in a rubbish play, but tonight, you will see craft at its best! Nothing but a -
(Robert stops and mumbles to himself.)
Hrmmm... Maybe I shouldn't add that part in about the whores of the business... it'd piss Sam off.
(Robert looks at the time.)
Fuck, I need to call her!
(Robert dials her number and paces around his apartment.)
Hey...! Yeah I know, It's been a while... Sorry, I've just been really busy with my script... Yeah I'm actually going through with it... Yeah... Huh...? Oh really...? Thanks but I didn't need you guys to do that... No really, I'm fine... I don't need the appointment... Really, Matt helped out...? Wow, I'm amazed he decided to pull his head out of his ass and do something for someone else... (laughs) Ok well, I booked the theatre down the road from Sally's so I'm expecting you to be there...! I know, I didn't think it would come down to this, but I'm kind of glad it did... Yes... It starts at 7pm SHARP...! No later, missy... Yeah I'm calling everyone... Ok, well I'll see you on the big night... And Sam, you there...? I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you putting up with me for all these years and getting me that interview... No really. Thank you... Oh don't you worry; you won't have to put up with it any longer after tomorrow night... Thanks again... See ya.

Samantha is waiting for Matt at a table, writing something in her diary... Matt walks up to her a few moments after she opens her book)
Matt: Fuck. This better be good, Sam. I had to leave Lucy stark naked in my bed to come and see you!
Sam: Oh geez, you're an idiot. It is important.
Matt: And please don't tell me it's about Robert!
Sam: It is.
(Matt acts as if he is packing up his bag to leave as Sam grabs a hold of his hand and signals him to sit down with a stern look on her face.)
Matt: Shit, this must be good. What did he do? Kill himself because he's so crap?
Sam: Fuck, can't you take ANYTHING seriously?
Matt: I'm just joking, relax.
Sam: Okay, so He has a part.
(Sam smirks at Matt and slaps him lightly on the arm)
Sam: Idiot!
Matt: So who the fuck hired him?
Sam: He did. He hired himself.
Matt: Okay, What the fuck?
Sam: Yeah, he's written a script. I haven't read it yet but he says it's good.
Matt: (laughs loudly) Oh this is too good to be true! Shit actor can't get a part to play so he writes his own! Oh that's genius!
Sam: Could you be any more insensitive?
Matt: I'm pretty sure I could scrape the bottom of the barrel just for you.
Sam: Rhetorical, Matt... Rhetorical!
Matt: Hey, you asked.
Sam: Anyway, his opening night is tonight and I want you to come for some support. After all you WERE his best friend once upon a time.
Matt: Yeah, don't remind me.
Sam: It's the truth, Matt. You can't deny it.
Matt: Ok, whatever. Where and what time?
Sam: 7pm at Marr's theatre. I'll meet you out the front.
Matt: Alright, I'll see you there. I have to go now.
Sam: What's wrong? Why the sudden solemn mood?
Matt: Nothing, just drop it. I have to go.
(Matt leaves money for his coffee and walks away from Sam.)
Sam: (Mumbles to herself) Strange.

(Robert is pacing up and down backstage as Sam walks in to wish him good luck.)
Robert: (Mumbling to himself) Oh fuck, fuck, fuck, they're not going to like it. Fuck, what am I doing? Fuck, I think I'm about to hyperventilate. Fuck I –
Sam: I think you should calm down.
(Robert turns around in shear shock.)
Robert: Shit, I didn't see you there. I'm so nervous!
Sam: So you should be. It's not easy going on opening night!

(Sam looks around backstage and notices there are no other actors around.)
Sam: Where is your cast? Are they getting dressed?
Robert: No.
Sam: Are they late?
Robert: No.
Sam: Well? Where are they?
Robert: You're looking at the cast right now.
Sam: NO! It's a one man show?
Robert: I wouldn't call it that, but yes. There's only one actor and he happens to be a man.
Sam: Are you sure you're ready to do this?
Robert: You said write about something that touches me, inspires me, right?
Sam: Yeah.
Robert: And I did... So go back to your seat and let me show you what I'm made of.
Sam: Ok. I wish you the best of luck!
(Samantha kisses Robert on the cheek and begins to walk away.)
Robert: Sam!
(Samantha turns around.)
Sam: Yeah?
Robert: I really did have the hots for you years ago.
Sam: Robert, you don't need to –
Robert: I just wanted to say it. Anyway, watch me act now! After tonight, you might not even be able to see me!
Sam: What does that mean?
Robert: (Suspiciously) Nothing, maybe I'll be too famous to have any time for you (pretends to be a snob and turns his nose to the ceiling.)
Sam: I hope so, for your sake anyway.
(Sam leaves Robert alone.)

Curtains open to reveal Robert standing alone on stage, he begins his play.
Robert: Yes, it's all true. Everything you may have heard up until now, is absolutely fucking true. And I have no better way than explaining it, then here. On stage. Where I belong (in my opinion anyway.)

There is strong classical music playing in the background as Robert continues his play.
Robert: (Somewhat loudly) and I begged them to give me a chance, begged them, yet they didn't give in (begins to shake and mumble what he is saying) Some called me Robby, some called me Rob. One even had the audacity to call me Roberta. A fucking woman's name! (Deliriously shouts) DO I LOOK LIKE A FUCKING WOMAN TO YOU?
(Robert falls to the ground.)
(Quietly speaks) Do I look like a woman to any of you?

By now, Robert is restless and incoherent. He looks flushed and ready to surprise the audience with the greatest ending anyone has ever seen in theatre.
Robert: I'm quite capable of any genre! Of any theme! Of any fucking gender, even! But no, that wasn't good enough for them. I'll show you. Here's a psychopath (Robert runs around stage screaming.) ARRRRGHHHHH! ARRRRRGHHHHH! (He calms down.) See, that was a crazy person. Now I'll do a woman. (He prances around stage speaking in a female voice.) Oh do you think my ass looks big in this? Hrmmm, why won't he call me? (Audience laughs and Robert fades out of character.)And now, for the ones who never believed, the ones who said ‘don't call us, we'll call you’. How do you all fucking sleep at night knowing that you've rejected yet another person? How do you live with dismissing people without so much as a simple chance? A proper fucking chance, not one where you let them read a couple of lines and then yell ‘STOP!’ The same chance you'd give the girl who blew you before the audition. Or the same chance you'd give the guy who fingered you in your office. All I ever wanted was a chance, but you were all too self righteous to give me one. So I made my own chance and I'll take it wherever I want. (Robert looks around stage slowly, walks towards the right of set.) Did I mention I am an absolute legend with drama? Here, let me show you all! I'll act out my own death for you all. (Robert reaches for a knife from the table of props.) To my somewhat wasted life on perfecting myself without the recognition of others. (Robert stabs himself, revealing a blood trail from his stomach to the stage. Audience claps as the curtain closes and Furious Angels by Rob Dougan begins to play.)

“Like a sentence of death, I've got no options left; I've got nothing to show now. I'm down on the ground, I've got seconds to live and you can't go now.”

(A taped clap of an audience remains as the curtain rises so Robert can bow. Upon viewing Rob's wounded body the stage cuts to black as footsteps become louder and a female voice is heard whilst stage is still dark)
“express yourself.”

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