The First Twenty

S2021 E7 | FULL EPISODE

The First Twenty: Afterwards (ASL, CC)

Enda Walsh’s monologue asks, “From now on, everything will be different—but how?” Starring Sarah Street, it’s an emotional look at how we absorb our past and how the past is a part of us. In partnership with Irish Arts Center. Access: ASL, captions.

AIRED: September 07, 2021 | 0:17:02
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TRANSCRIPT

♪♪♪

>> Welcome to

"The First Twenty."

I'm James King.

For this episode, rather than

focus on a specific moment in

the first twenty, Irish

playwright Enda Walsh states a

simple fact and asks a simple

question -- "From now on,

everything will be different,

but how?"

This monologue is an emotional

look at how we absorb our past

and how even when our memories

become fragmented, the past is

utterly part of us, neither bad

nor good, but just is.

Sarah Street's captivating

performance is sure to have you

reflecting.

Filmed at the Irish Arts Center

in New York, this is

"Afterwards."

♪♪♪

>> There's a pattern, and we all

know that, but not always

consciously.

There's a -- a certain time for

breakfast, and before that, a

time for waking up by some

internal what-you-call-it that

in itself is mysterious.

The body just knows that at a

specific time, at a certain

sequential time -- I've never

acknowledged the mystery of it.

It's not exactly a skill that

needs drawing attention to, as

I'm doing right now, something

passed down, ancient, I want to

say the word "human," but I get

very nervous about using that

word -- I think we all do now --

and we wake up.

I imagine it's the brain that

does the actual waking, but very

often, it feels like the

bladder, like it's tipping over,

and we wake for fear of...

That's never happened to me.

There was a friend -- Was it a

boyfriend?

A man, right, 'cause of the

quantity of...

Yeah, he wet the bed once or

twice.

Things ended, obviously, between

me and him.

Unlucky in love.

I said that to someone once.

There was a coffee and a

finished breakfast, a diner --

American word, not mine -- and a

woman, I think, let's just call

her a friend of mine, and she

was, uh, holding my hand across

the table in a caring sort of

way when I said those words to

her, because I imagine, before

Joe, I was, um -- Well, I don't

want to speak too clearly of

emotions and give a false

impression, but, again, I don't

want to fictionalize what can't

even be remembered clearly, or

even towards clearly, or even in

the vicinity of clearly when all

clarity is slipping away,

basically.

Well, you must feel the same way

I do.

Perhaps not to the same

magnitude.

Or maybe even more.

But since that day, when we all

woke up as usual and stepped out

into the morning, l-life's

fallen away a little.

The life before is what we're

calling it.

A tiny word, "historical,"

obviously, as if it's already

become nothing.

One day, we were all standing on

a cliff, and then that day

happened, and since that day,

we're all standing on less of a

cliff, and what's fallen away,

we're calling "before," and

where we're left standing now

is -- is what we're kept busy

with, this...something.

So, what exactly has fallen

away?

And to what has it fallen into?

Good question.

And too early to be answered,

probably.

And it's best to keep on moving

forward.

I mean, that's what we're all

saying to each other.

"That was then and this is now."

But having said that, and

wanting to hold on to at least

one memory before it all

disappears, there was a car, and

not our car -- and by "our" car,

I mean Joe and me.

And the windows were down, and,

uh, another couple who are

nameless, they're in their seats

in front of us, and their

windows are down, and it's

evening inside and out, and

still hot, and it's not the city

that I'm standing in, and it's,

uh, not where I was born,

either -- not in Ireland.

[ Gentle clacking ]

And we were safe -- you know, me

and Joe.

Safe and, uh, loose, actually,

and, um, warmed not just by the

sun, we were warmed by our

drinking what the other couple

called evening cocktails, hence

the looseness.

The breeze through the window --

more of a wind, really, 'cause

of the speed of the car, the

heat of the air -- and there was

this...music playing on the

radio [scoffs] and, oh, the

scene is golden, somehow.

Because there was me and Joe in

the backseat of that car, and

I-I-I felt something falling off

the cliff a little earlier.

I saw it, almost, and what were

once much fuller images of a

girl are now just small pictures

where she's standing on a school

stage with other children and

faceless parents somehow

smiling, of the same girl behind

a birthday cake, her fingers in

her ears, the same girl

submerged in her bath acting

dead, all were once rendered in

a much fuller, more satisfying

story, but slimmed right down to

words and single pictures, with

each one demanding my presence.

A cliff, the sea.

Oh! What a terrible metaphor.

A past made up of I want to call

them memories, but -- but maybe

not evenmy memories because so

dulled and -- and faded they

are, and lacking content or

emotional connection, and -- and

often, I'm not even in them.

So maybe just given to me, these

memories, in script form to --

to play some sort of role?

Like the brain shows me pictures

of weak-bladdered ex-boyfriends

or spoken therapy in diners,

where these thoughts aren't even

mine is the feeling.

So, when I'm on a bus, like I

was earlier, or walking on the

streets, or -- or in the shops,

and I see that cliff falling

away, I-I try to hold on to

these pictures of me as a girl,

of my family and loved ones, of

a place called Ireland, of a-a

journey I must have taken,

because I'm not there, but here

in this city, and still,

somewhat present I am in -- in

these pictures and bound to them

and -- and made by them, but

with each...passing day, w-with

each other hour, there's less of

me, is -- is the point I'm

trying to make.

So, there was a car, and -- and

not our car, and by "our" car, I

mean Joe and me, and the windows

are down, and another couple,

who were...still nameless,

they're in their seats in front

of us, and -- and their windows

are down, and it's evening

inside and out, and still hot.

And, uh, it's not the city here

I'm standing in.

And -- And it's not -- It's not

where I was born, either -- not

in Ireland.

And -- And we were safe -- me

and Joe.

Safe and loose and -- and warmed

by our drinking what the other

couple called evening cocktails.

[ Chuckles ]

And not New York or back home,

and not a city at all, but a

town, its name forgotten.

Never mind. Carry on.

And, um, there are strangely

shaped houses on the edge of

this town.

The heat is -- is dry up here,

hence the beer I'm holding, and

the evening is horizontal, but

the view is vertical -- I want

to say mountains.

And somewhere here is Joe, but

I've yet to place him here

alongside the nameless couple

and me on their outside porch,

and the man is saying something

about football, and I thank her

for the drinks, and, uh, fiddle

with the snacks and aware of my

waist and skin and teeth and the

sound of my Irishness, which she

likes, but he's indifferent to.

There's a dog, a small dog,

curled at my feet -- If it could

talk, it would tell me to

[bleep] off -- and something

unpleasant in the man standing

on his parched lawn, standing

like a bear in flip-flops, his

toenails raggedy.

His talking is constant, like

mine is right now, but his

talking is controlled, sort of

even mind.

Off the cliff and in the sea,

and this terrible metaphor, too

late to change, and the whole of

my past has disappeared from

that day since, and moment by

moment, it disappears from what

we call "before," when that was

then and this is now, and too

frightened to ask, "What happens

next?"

But, um...

holding on to that evening

before, with the car and the

open windows and warm breeze

and, uh...

Where is Joe, exactly?

The man's talking is constant,

and I'm -- I'm too loose, and

into her questions and in

between sips, 'cause, uh,

evening cocktails now, and

questions about back home --

answer generically, the Irish

way.

I -- I give her what she wants

to hear, and, uh, stay in this

last memory a little while

longer, n-not wanting to reach

that moment of -- of me and Joe

in the car just yet, and stay a

little longer with off the cliff

and in the sea and this terrible

metaphor too late to change,

and, uh -- and the whole of my

past has disappeared from that

day since.

And moment by moment, it

disappears to what we call

"before," when...

And, uh, me, silent and sitting

on that porch and listening to

questions about Ireland in that

strangely shaped house with the

view of a mountain and I-I want

to say the word..."touse"?

Touse?

I don't even know what that word

means.

And the drinking is, uh, souring

her and him, and my feet burning

on the porch, the dog growling

at their broken fence,

and...telling it to [bleep] off,

his -- his talking raggedy and

raised now, as is his hand,

her face clumsily struck, him

stammering out apologies, her

slapping his head -- the

ridiculous theater of the two of

them.

And then later, when the sun's

turned the evening golden and in

the back of their car, in a

town -- I've forgotten -- and

the windows are down, and

[sighs] Nameless Couple are in

their seats in front, and the

air is hot...

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

Whose hand was in mine?

[ Gasps ]

[ Soft clacking continues ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

And, uh...

there must have been a childhood

and parents for me, and brothers

and sisters, maybe.

A house, of course.

W-Woken each morning by some

internal what-you-call-it.

♪♪♪

Everything is gone.

All is forgotten.

Everything.

♪♪♪

So, what now?

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ "Nothing Arrived" by

Villagers playing ]

>>♪ Savanna scatters

♪ And the seabird sings

♪ So why should we fear

♪ What the travel brings?

♪ What were we hoping

♪ To get out of this?

♪ Some kind of momentary

bliss? ♪

♪ I waited for something

♪ But something died

♪ So I waited for nothing

♪ And nothing arrived

♪ It's our dearest ally

♪ It's our closest friend

♪ It's our darkest blackout

♪ It's our final end

♪ My dear sweet nothing

♪ Let's start anew

♪ From here on in

♪ It's just me and you

♪ I waited for something

♪ But something died

♪ So I waited for nothing

♪ And nothing arrived

♪ Well, I guess it's over

♪ I guess it's begun

♪ It's a losers' table

♪ But we've already won

♪ It's a funny battle

♪ It's a constant game

♪ I guess I was busy

♪ When nothing came

♪ I guess I was busy

>> ♪ When nothing arrived

>> ♪ I guess I was busy

>> ♪ When nothing arrived

>> ♪ I guess I was busy

♪ Oh, oh, oh

>> ♪ When nothing arrived

>> ♪ I guess I was busy

♪ Oh, oh, oh

>> ♪ I waited for something

♪ But something died

♪ So I waited for nothing

♪ And nothing arrived

♪ I waited for something

♪ But something died

♪ So I waited for nothing

♪ And nothing arrived

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

[ Song ends ]

♪♪♪

♪♪♪

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