House Seats


Fire This Time Festival: Assumed Positions

Playwright Natyna Bean invites us to question how well we really know the ones we love in this new work. When Naya returns home from abroad after two years she is startled to discover new information about her partner that calls into question the very foundation of their relationship. Filmed at The Fire This Time Festival at the Kraine Theater.

AIRED: July 27, 2020 | 0:13:26

So my name is Natyna Bean,

and I wrote a little play called "Assumed Positions."

Assumed Positions --

it's like a little snapshot into a relationship

of two folks who have been separated

for approximately two years.

And one partner, Naya, returns home

to her partner, Macha,

and discovers that they have, you know, joined the force.

And then we just sit with them for that night

to see how they can reckon with the choice --

"Can I still choose you,

although you've chosen something that, to me,

is very dangerous and harmful

to who we are as individuals and collectively?"

[ Keys jingling ]

Anybody home?

Who's asking?

[ Chuckles ]

Officer Davis.

I'm responding to a possible "B and E"

at this here residence.

[ Sighs ] No, no calls here.

Hm. That's funny.

You sure no calls were made from this location?

I assure you, no calls were made from this location.

Try next door. They might have a landline.

My partner and I don't own one.

I certainly made no calls, and she isn't here.

"She"? Excuse me, miss, did you say "she"?

"She" and/or "they,"

but I don't expect you to know anything about that.

Oh. So you one of those.

One of those what?

One of those Janelle Monáe types.

[ Chuckles ]

[ Laughter ]

I don't see how that's any of your --

I'm sorry. Just --

Do you have a warrant for this here intrusion?

I can't say I do.

Oh, the irony.

Mm. How's that?

Well, seeing as no one made any calls

and you have found yourself here in my home without a warrant,

it seems to me that you're the one

doing the breaking and entering.

Are you sassing me, miss?

No, just stating facts, Officer.

Well, how is this for a fact?

You're all alone with me, and only one of us has a gun.

Is any of that necessary?

Come out with your hands held high.

Excuse me?

Come out with your hands held high.

How high?

High enough so I can see everything.




[ Chuckles ]

[ Chuckles ]


That's not gonna do.

What are you gonna do, Officer -- arrest me?

Only if you don't comply.

Well, what is it that you want me to do?

Well, for one,

I recall telling you I wanted to see everything.

[ Chuckles ]

Is that all, Officer?

Close your eyes.

What else?

Tilt your head back.

Ah, you remembered. [ Chuckles ]

[ Chuckles ] Of course.

You really think I forget?

It's been a while.

Not that long.

This neck, this spot.

[ Chuckles ]

I'll always remember how I conquered you,

Conquered, huh?

Mm-hmm, brought you down like my mouth was a...

♪ Trrrrumpet!

[ Laughs ]

And you was the Walls of Jericho!

But "conquered" -- that's the --

that's the that's the word we're going with?

Oh, no, you're right. You're right.

Uh, too militaristic.

Um, how about my kisses on this neck,

on that very spot of the neck

is the keys to your kingdom?

My kingdom, huh?



[ Chuckles ]

So how was your ride from the airport?

I'm sorry I couldn't grab you.

It's fine, Macha.

I found the keys in the mailbox like you told me,

and I let myself in.


You smell so good! Of course I do.

I couldn't greet my baby smelling like soil,

now, could I? [ Chuckles ]

I hopped in the shower as soon as I got in.

A 14-hour flight has a way of trapping in a funk

don't nobody deserve to smell, let alone wear.

[ Chuckles ] [ Sighs ]

Man, I just can't believe you're here.

[ Chuckles ]

That thing looks pretty heavy.

Ah, you wear it enough, you get used to it.

Now, that thing right there...

What thing?

[ Sucks lips, chuckles ]

Mm, that thing look like

you ain't waste not one meal while you was down there.

Shut up.

No, I like it.

I like it a lot.

Oh, shit.


Yeah, it's real.

What did you think -- I was...?

I thought you were weighing a very realistic prop.

I thought maybe you were flexing with your role play.

I don't know. [ Laughs ]

Flexing. [ Laughs ]

Is that silly of me?


But I did tell you that I had a surprise for you

when you returned.

Yeah. You said you had a surprise.

I was expecting, like, a -- a puppy

or a new tattoo, Some jewelry, maybe.

But this?



Say something, Naya.

I just need a moment to take all this in.

What did you think I was doing all this time?

You said you were enrolled

in a criminal-justice program, Macha. I was.

The academy is not just a program,

but, okay.

It's a lot to swallow, but, okay.

Is it really okay?

Just give it a sec for it to settle.

Let it digest. No.

I don't want the subtle words, Naya.

Just -- Just give me -- I want the raw shit.

I want to be intentional with my words.

They won't matter if I'm not intentional.

Naya, could you please

just give me the raw shit intentionally?


No. Let's just enjoy the night.

We could leave it for later.

Man, you acting like you don't even know me.

I mean, were there no other options -- firefighting?

What is so bad about this, Naya,

other than what you think you know about us?

[ Scoffs ] "Us"? "Us"?

Oh, dear. Not a dream. "Us"? "Us"?

Yeah, I-I would like to know

how this is specifically impacting you.

No, I told you I'm off of it,

and you're just gonna call me dramatic, anyway.

No, I -- So leave it alone.

I won't.

I won't.

I promise.

I just can't help but feel like

you're choosing death, amongst other things.

O-kay. [ Laughs ]

I ain't gonna say you're being dramatic...

Right, so...

...but you are trippin'.

[ Chuckles ]


Nothing. I --

Nothing, nothing. I just...

You. [ Chuckles ]

I just find it really funny

how you really finessed me with that "program" shit.

Macha, I thought you had gone back to school all this time.

Granted, you know, it is formal training --

I won't invalidate that --

I just think you have so much more to offer.

And this is just...



Don't talk like that.

Those are my current thoughts.

Maybe I'll feel differently in a few hours or tomorrow,

but, presently, I feel like

you just lowered your life expectancy.

Oh, baby, don't be dramatic.

Right. See, I know it was coming.

I smelt it. I-I felt --

But why does this mean I'm seeking death, though?

You living in a foreign country for two years... [ Chuckling ] Oh, gosh.

...that wasn't risky? Oh!

Us being apart for two years!

I was in the Peace Corps, Macha,

not the Philadelphia Police Department.

You can't possibly compare the two!

Well, what was the name of that little white jawn

who died in the name of peace?

Uh, Ruthie, Rachel, Rosie? Mnh.

Now you're really trying it.

For one, she wasn't even in the Peace Corps.


Okay, we're both working in the service of others,

of the people, right?

How is that not comparable?!

If they're anything like the pigs up in Michigan,

they ain't too concerned about the people.

Okay. Wait.

What? What? Naya, don't.

You asked me to tell you how I feel,

and now I'm telling you, and --

Please don't use that word! Please!

It's dehumanizing as fuck!

It's not de--


Baby...I'm sorry.

I think I'm just overwhelmed.

I don't want to feel like I'm losing you

right as I'm returning to you.

Whoa. Who said anything about losing me?

History, media, common fucking sense.

Okay, could you please just stop trying to kill me?

[ Chuckles ] It's just a job.

It's a means to provide for me, you, and...

the little monsters we're gonna raise together.

I promise you.

I got you.



Are you for real this time?

I'm nervous, but... I'm here for you, baby.

You went for it.

I mean, you really went for it.

I wanted to surprise you.

Well, this is certainly a shocker --

I'll tell you that.

[ Scoffs lightly ]

You really mad?

No. Macha...

I'm excited for you.

I am.

I just -- I didn't even know

black folk were still signing up for the force.

Come on, now.

I'm processing,

and you know rude jokes are part of my process.

Yes, I do.

I just think that my need for your support in understanding

blocked that particular memory.

[ Sighs lightly ]

-Mm. -Mm.

I ever tell you that my dad was a cop?

I thought you said he was a gym teacher.

[ Chuckles ] He was,

but that was only after he quit his cop job.

I found out not too long after I moved here.


[ Chuckles ] That's what I said.

I didn't even know y'all was allowed to quit.

I thought it was blood in, blood out

with the boys in blue.

[ Laughter ]

I'm done. I'm done. I'm done.

I'm done.

[ Laughter ]

Wow, that's -- that's crazy about your father.

Um, how long have you known?

That doesn't matter.

Is he the reason you joined?




Maybe one of them.

But, Naya, ever since I met you.

I wanted to do more --

not just say that I do, but actually do it.

I wanted to walk into rooms

and... have people know that

whatever issue affected them or awaited me,

that I had at least two solutions in my back pocket.

Now, it may not be the most popular option,

but it's the one I could live with for now.

And I really hope you can, too.

Baby, I already said, "Okay."

I heard you. [ Chuckles ]

I want you to mean it.

I need you to mean it.

[ Teakettle whistling ]

The tea!

[ Light laughter ]

Was that hawthorn?

Hibiscus, hyssop, some of that high-grade...

[ Chuckles ]

...a few others, all infused to perfection.

Wait. Will you be able to drink it?

Baby, I'm the law.

There ain't nothing I can't do.

[ Chuckles ]

That's what I'm afraid of.

[ Applause ]





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