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dimes square




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Excerpt from Dimes Square by Matthew Gasda 


Dimes Square is a new comedy of contemporary manners by Matthew Gasda, showing at various locations in New York City this spring. In this scene, about halfway through the play, two young women, Rosie and Ashley, meet in a Chinatown loft after a long night of revelry in the loft and on its roof. Rosie, a visual artist in her twenties, is an habitué of the downtown scene, an especially cynical one. Ashley is an actress and a model, an undergraduate studying at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. The loft where they meet belongs to Stefan, a 30-year-old novelist whose first novel is being adapted into a streaming series for Netflix. Some of his friends, or ex-friends, think he’s a sellout or a fraud. Certainly, he’s basking in his new success, letting slip that there might be a place in the cast, the writer’s room, or the director’s chair for anybody hanging around. Terry, his old rival, is an idealist director in the art house mode, and his new film The Work of Fire has been showing at the Metrograph Cinema to critical acclaim. But tensions are high between the two. Beholding these clashing egos, Rosie rolls her eyes, and Ashley, who has been sleeping with Stefan since he gave her cocaine one night at 169 Bar, is a little bit dazzled and a little bit skeptical. In the light of the morning (let’s be honest, they were up late, and it’s past noon), Rosie and Ashley take stock of the scene and their place within it. —Christian Lorentzen


Late morning.


Ashley hanging out alone.


A buzz.


Ashley gets up to let in...


Rosie.



ROSIE
Hey, I left my notebook here. Do you see a moleskin anywhere?


ASHLEY
Ummm. Let me look. There's so much junk.


ROSIE
Stefan isn't here?


ASHLEY
Nope. He's at a meeting.


ROSIE
I see. Found my notebook


ASHLEY
Do you want some coffee?

ROSIE
Actually, yes.


ASHLEY
What's in the notebook if I may ask?


ROSIE
It's not important.


ASHLEY
Ok... Do you even remember my name?


ROSIE
Ashley. I'm pretty sure we matched on Hinge a couple of months ago.


ASHLEY
Oh I did have my setting on "interested in everyone" for awhile.


ROSIE
Right right.


ASHLEY
I don't remember you, but I was really shy talking to girls.


ROSIE
Yeah I messaged you, but you didn't respond.


ASHLEY
Really?


ROSIE
Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was you.


ASHLEY
Are you like actually bi?


ROSIE
Sometimes.


ASHLEY
Yeah same.


ROSIE
Fucking a girl is kind of a way of deprogramming yourself to see them as competition.


ASHLEY
That's potentially true.


ROSIE
Do you have experience?


ASHLEY
Well I was trying to get some before Stefan.


ROSIE
So none.


ASHLEY
No... well... no.


ROSIE
Yeah. It's fun. Really.


ASHLEY
I know. I bet.


ROSIE
Are you and Stefan like, serious, or?


ASHLEY
I have no idea.


ROSIE
Ok...


ASHLEY
I like him, but.


ROSIE
But what?


ASHLEY
There's stuff going on.


ROSIE
Is it monogamous?


ASHLEY
It is not, currently. No. Can I ask you a question?


ROSIE
Sure.


ASHLEY
Should I like really invest time in his world?


ROSIE
Absolutely not.


ASHLEY
Why do you say that?


ROSIE
I think it's self-evident.


ASHLEY
You're all hot and cool.


ROSIE
It's a bunch of social climbers railing coke at 4am shitting on their so-called friends.


ASHLEY
That's bleak.


ROSIE
This whole group of people is not going to be hanging out in a year, let along six months. It's rotting.


ASHLEY
You seem to be thriving on a personal level.


ROSIE
Yeah, because I'm one of those decomposer bacteria. What are your observations? I'm curious.


ASHLEY
A lot of people are out to be seen, obviously; talk to be heard; create to promote.


ROSIE
Right.


ASHLEY
The other night, we went out with his cousin Olivia, and her friends and there was this woman there, I forget her name, but she was just like holding court -- like very charming, very cutting, very in command of the room --


ROSIE
Where were you?


ASHLEY
Lucien --


ROSIE
Of course --


ASHLEY
Yeah and like -- she just seemed to know everybody and something about everybody and have all the connects with all these big name brands et cetera and there was just this moment where I was like, this person is cool, but like, they're just a chain of references... they're actually nothing --


ROSIE
Nope --


ASHLEY
They don't make anything, they don't feel anything, they don't make anyone feel good in anyway. They can't give. They just neg the world and get rewarded.


ROSIE
Yup.


ASHLEY
I think I dislocated my jaw in my sleep...


ROSIE
So what's going on with Stefan's Netflix deal?


ASHLEY
Yeah, I dunno; it's happening.


ROSIE
I mean, has he promised you anything?


ASHLEY
Why do you ask?


ROSIE
I'm just nosey.


ASHLEY
He says he can probably get me an audition.


ROSIE
Of course.


ASHLEY
He's been vague. But.


ROSIE
Get what you can while you can.


ASHLEY
What do you mean?


ROSIE
We have until we're about thirty -- if we're lucky -- before they replace us with newer models.


ASHLEY
Is it wrong to wanna be on this show?


ROSIE
If you can play the game, play to win.


ASHLEY
Ok. I'm trying.


ROSIE
Good...


ASHLEY
Here... read this... it's the text Stefan sent me the morning after we met --


ROSIE
"Ashley, here are a few things I want to experience with you: morning sunlight, Italian espresso, dreamy novels, linen sheets, a healthy dinner, hot bubble bath." Oh boy.


ASHLEY
Right?


ROSIE
Oof. Have you read his book?


ASHLEY
A bit. And I read the pilot.


ROSIE
I see.


ASHLEY
It's fine.


ROSIE
Yeah. I'm sure.


ASHLEY
Does that Iris girl come from money, by the way?


ROSIE
Why do you ask?


ASHLEY
I just can't understand why anyone would want to spend time with her otherwise.


ROSIE
That's a cunty thing to say.


ASHLEY
I'm sorry.


ROSIE
No, I like it. Also, she should NOT be dating Nate.


ASHLEY
Yeah, seems complicated.


ROSIE
It's a form of self-harm, actually. She might as well just take a razor to her wrists.


ASHLEY
Do you want more coffee?


ROSIE
I think I'm good. I'm already feeling too anxious.


ASHLEY
Why?


ROSIE
Life stuff. I like to convince myself I'm always on the verge of failure, starvation, and death... you know, as like motivation --


ASHLEY
How's that working out?


ROSIE
Um, not amazingly... because I do this thing where, instead of actually changing my worst habits, I just come up with new justifications for them.... like, all my copes are like actively bad for my mental and physical health. Whoops.


ASHLEY
That's your piece on the wall right?


ROSIE
Yup. I don't like it.


ASHLEY
I think it's nice.


ROSIE
It's self-parody.


ASHLEY
I wouldn't know.


ROSIE
What's your biggest insecurity?


ASHLEY
The sound of my voice. What's yours?


ROSIE
I want bigger tits.


ASHLEY
That's a good one.


ROSIE
Tiny tits club right here.


ASHLEY
Hell yeah.


ASHLEY
How comes you haven't made a move on me?


ROSIE
Paralysis of the will.


ASHLEY
Oh.


ROSIE
I'm all talk.


ASHLEY
Damn.


ROSIE
Yeaaaah.


ASHLEY
Ah.


ROSIE
Why don't you make a move on me?


ASHLEY
I don't know how. I'm a baby.


ROSIE
I think that's a front.


ASHLEY
Could be....


ROSIE
You're like me: you know exactly what you're doing.


ASHLEY
That's the attraction right?


ROSIE
Or maybe that's the reason why the attraction can't go anywhere.


ASHLEY
Damn.


ROSIE
I'm not sure, if I'm being completely transparent, that I'm actually secure enough to embrace eroticism as fully as I pretend to.


ASHLEY
Damn.


ROSIE
Don't give up on me completely though please.


ASHLEY
Maybe we can get a drink sometime soon.


  ROSIE
Sure. We can get a drink.


ASHLEY
Cool cool.


ROSIE
Yeah.


ASHLEY
Can I tell you something?


ROSIE
Sure...? what about?


ASHLEY
Something weird happened last night after you left.


ROSIE
Ok... what's that?


ASHLEY
Well you know how I passed out early?


ROSIE
Uh oh --


ASHLEY
Well yeah.


ROSIE
What?


ASHLEY
It's really strange... so Terry, Stefan's friend buzzed back in after he left.


ROSIE
Ok...


ASHLEY
And I let him and I was really groggy and he said 'do you know what's happening right now -- ?' And I said, 'no' --


ROSIE
What was happening?


ASHLEY
He said Stefan and Bora were fucking on the roof.


ROSIE
Oh shit.


ASHLEY
Yeah, but it gets a bit worse -- Terry just like straight up kisses me --


ROSIE
Oh of course...


ASHLEY
Right? -- and I'm very confused and just like 'what is going on?' -- and I guess instinctively kiss back or whatever, but also kinda tried to push him away instinctively at the same time... and so I just kind of went with it... like I touched his cock and he was like so erect... and I was like... well... I was actually pretty turned on in a weird way by how turned on he was -- like the effect I had on him -- and then he asked me if we could have sex...


ROSIE
And how did you respond?


ASHLEY
Well, I just sort of sat there, stunned... and then he slumps to the bed and starts to fucking cry -- like sob –


ROSIE
God, men are amazing.


ASHLEY
The whole thing felt invasive.


ROSIE
I'm sure.


ASHLEY
But it was also an enjoyable power-trip at the same time.


ROSIE
What happened with Stefan?


ASHLEY
Well, Terry basically ran away before they came back and I did what I always do... went back to sleep as if nothing ever happened...


ROSIE
Gotcha.


ASHLEY
I can't tell if I'm using Stefan because I'm scared of falling for him or if I'm falling for him because I'm ashamed I'm using him.


ROSIE
I can't tell either.


ASHLEY
I just don't know how much longer I can pretend to be this person who doesn't feel anything. I feel like I absorb so much pain from him and everyone around him and I can already tell that I'm gonna start to break down... if I don't take some kind of break... it's really overwhelming...


ROSIE
Are you absorbing pain from me?


ASHLEY
A lot.


ROSIE
Sorry about that.


ASHLEY
It's no one's fault.


ROSIE
No. Guess not. I'm gonna head out. Thanks. Nice talking.


ASHLEY
Let me know about that drink.


ROSIE
I will.


ASHLEY
Bye.

Rosie slips out the door.








Matthew gasda is a writer, director, and teacher in New York City.

Christian Lorentzen is a critic whose work has appeared in the London Review of Books, Harper's Magazine, and Bookforum, among other publications. He plays Dave, leader of the scene and something of a has-been, in Dimes Square.

Thumbnail illustration by Fernanda Amis. 








 
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