House Seats


Fire This Time Festival: Maya and Rivers

Playwright Tyler English-Beckwith explores what people are willing to risk in the hopes of finding new life in her play, "Maya and Rivers." The two lovebirds escape from their dying home-planet for a final rendezvous on the moon. Filmed at the Fire This Time Festival at The Kraine Theater.

AIRED: July 27, 2020 | 0:13:34


Man: We come over at stage right.

Man #2: Places, everyone.

My name is Tyler English-Beckwith

and my play is "Maya and Rivers."

"Maya and Rivers" is about two teenagers

who go to the moon to get away from the troubles

that are happening on the planet Earth.

And they have a very sweet, romantic moment together

before one of them leaves the other forever.

When I was thinking about what does a future look like,

I was thinking about where is a place

that you can have a safe haven,

and the moon seem like, if you had the ability to travel to it,

it could be a safe haven for you.

And so when I was thinking about writing a short play,

I knew I wanted to write about love,

because I always write about love,

and I thought about writing about two young people who,

with this new advanced science, used it to their ability

to just, like, goof around on the moon.

[ Rumbling ]

[ Rumbling continues ]

[ Breathing heavily ]

[ Gasps ]

Do you know how many stars there are?

I don't.

I've never tried to count them either.

I've never told someone I love them more

than all the stars in the sky

because I don't know how many there are.

[ Grunting ]

I don't know how many stars are up in that vast, black space,

so how could I measure something like love

to something I've never been sure of?

[ Gasps ]

I've never told someone I love them more

than all the stars in the sky until...


♪ Ain't No Sunshine ♪

was my favorite song that summer.

We sang it everywhere --

School, shower, work,


We went to the moon and I taught it to him there.

He was always horrible at learning tunes,

but this one stuck.

And, boy, he sang it every trip!

[ Laughs ]

He was so funny out there.

It was almost like

the atmospheric pressure of the Earth

was preventing him from having a sense of humor.

But on the moon --

Mm! -- he was my favorite comedian.

[ Laughs ]

Who earns their living

driving their customers away?

Taxi drivers!

Even the corny ones were funny.

We just sat in a crater eating Tootsie Rolls,

singing that song, and laughing.

I had never laughed so much.

One time, he was doing backflips,

and his hat fell right off his head.

It almost looked like it was headed toward our neighborhood.

It would have been so perfect had it landed

right on his front porch.

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

[ All gasp ]

The water plant was shutting down and so was our world.

The old heads remembered when water would rush past their feet

and people wouldn't gawk at the phenomenon.

It just was.

That's what he was named after,

the body of water forever flowing forward --


His name was Rivers.

[ Gasps ]

I wish we could stay here forever.

How many orbs do we have left?

I don't want to run out of time.

We're in space and you're worried about time.

We have to get back soon. Dance with me, my Maya.

Dance with me on the moon.

Maybe we could moonwalk.

Not from here.

You don't want to whine,

and it's not about the feet.

I mean, like, you doing a glide or whatever,

but the trick

is it the shoulders?

It's about the illusion.

I don't think I'm good at it.

You don't have to be.

I've got enough rhythm for the both of us.

Careful! What would I do if I lost you out here?

You'd go back home and you burn, baby, burn that dry-ass heat.

It's like we're closer to the sun down there

than we are up here.

I feel like I'm boiling at home.

But this? [ Chuckles ]

Who knew that the lack of oxygen could be so refreshing?

Lack of oxygen? How many orbs?

Enough for 20 more Tootsie Rolls.

Five. 10?

Okay, 10.

[ Sighing ]


Cotton candy. Sweet and low!

Let me see a Tootsie Roll! Let me see a Tootsie Roll!

Hey, hey! Hey, hey!

Hey, hey! Hey, hey!

Hey! [ Both laugh ]


You all about rolling hips.


[ Mockingly ] "Stop!"

[ Laughter ]

You know, last time we were up here, I almost got caught.

My mother heard me sneak back in.

Y'all still ain't got that screen door fixed?

No, my daddy said it's a free alarm system.

She get on you?

I made up some lie about having to go to the power plant

to get fresh water.

Couldn't tell if she believed me or not.

My daddy was at the launch pad, so he didn't care.

Third craft left yesterday.

50 on board.


No survivors.

I think a boy I knew in the second grade

was on that spacecraft.

Joey. He had the biggest glasses

I'd ever seen on someone that small.

Wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up.

And what did you want to be? I don't remember.

Oh, you remember everything.

You remember that time I got my head stuck in the banister

at your ninth birthday party?

Yeah, well, that was hard to forget.

Tell me.

I wanted to be a rocket ship.

A what? See? Naw! Unh-unh.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to --

Forget it.

Why a rocket ship?

Because the fire would be under me,

not on top of me beating me down.

It would lift me all the way up.

I would be invincible, unbreakable.

And you?

I never really thought about it.

Yeah, right.

You think about everything.

You promise not to judge?

I just told you I wanted to be a rocket ship.

No judgment here.

I mean, it's not, like, cool

or progressive or revolutionary or anything.

No judgment.

I want to be...

a mother.

You think it's stupid?

No, of course not.

But, like, what about the mandatory contraception?

It's not realistic, Rivers.

It's just something that I want that I can't have.

I want to create.

We live in a world

where nothing flows or grows organically,

but a mother,

she creates inside of her the greatest gift of all --


She nurtures it and guides it like Mother Luna

used to with the tides.

She bestows it with all the energy she can manifest.

In a world with empty vessels,

greatest thing you could be is full.

I love you, Rivers.


I love you, Rivers... I love you, Rivers...

...more than there are stars... ...more than there are stars... the sky... the sky...

...more than you love the moon. ...more than you love the moon.

I love you. I love you.

Don't say that. Why?

There's no time for love, no -- No place for it.

But I do.

Two orbs of oxygen left.

And then we go back to a dead planet

and we pretend like we're living.

Don't waste these last moments on something

that can never manifest, because in a world

with a manufactured life source, something like love

just isn't authentic.

All we have is right here.

All we have are these last two orbs.

Lie to me, Rivers.

Tell me that you can pack the moon

in your backpack and bring it to me.

Tell me that we could create a home in a crater.

Tell me that we could just leave it in the backyard

and bounced on it when we're sad.

Tell me that we can hide it from the neighborhood kids

so that they won't know our lunar secret.

But when I tell you that I love you

more than there are stars in the sky --

I'm leaving on the next one.

What?! I bought a ticket this morning

and I'm leaving on the next spacecraft tomorrow.

Why? Why not?

13% success rate.

That's what they advertise on the radio.


Like they're proud of themselves.

Do you know what happened to Joey?

He flew above a giant dead rock.

And then he came crashing down!

What kind of existence is the one we have at home?!

My mouth is so dry some nights that I find myself

enjoying the act of swallowing my spit.

We're all dying, my Maya.

You're a coward,

too afraid to look into the faces of people

who are dying of thirst.

I'm drinking my spit, too, Rivers,

but I'm not running away.

There's nothing there for me.

The stars went dark.

The moon fell out of the sky.

It was the end of the world.

What about me?

I want to be a rocket ship, Maya.

The fire that flames below only burns what's left behind.

Soon the world won't exist,

and neither will we.

When you're flying past the Earth,

past us all,

don't forget gravity.

Don't forget what held you close --

close to the ground, close to me.

Half in orb.

You could come with me.

I could buy another ticket.

Can we dance again?

One last time.

How do you feel, my Maya?


[ Rumbling ]

[ Gasping ]

The water plant shut down four weeks later.

We ran out of water last night.

Some of us are leaving our crafts in the morning.

A few of us are dying in our beds.

I haven't decided yet.

But either way,

I will evaporate.

I haven't seen Rivers since our last dance in space.

I couldn't make myself go to the launch pad to say goodbye

because we'd never have the moon again.

He's soaring somewhere higher than high.

I checked the status on the radio the day after he left.

No landing.

But he's up there

counting the stars.

[ Gasps ]





[coughing] five,



[weakly] eight.

[ Sighs ]

[ Applause ]





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