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The Reunion (1998)

The Reunion (1998)

©1998, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. The reunion: A 0ne act play. (2005). In J. Berry, D. Bain, D. Hignutt, T. Farrell, D. Denny, & M. Reynolds, Transsexual anthology. P.O. Box 54016, 1-5762 Highway 7 East, Markham, Ontario, L3P 7Y4, Canada: Double Dragon Publishing. Originally published September 1998 on Transgender Forum.



The Reunion

A Play in One Act

 By Dallas Denny


  •  Kathy Steinway
  • Jonas Steinway
  • Harvey (A Bellman)
  • Pat (A Waitress)
  • Bradley (A Piano Player)
  • Sam (A Bartender)
  • Three Secret Service Agents
  • Agent Richards (A female secret service agent)
  • Agent O’Grady (A male or female secret service agent)
  • Agent Wright (A male or female secret service agent)

Playwright’s Notice: There is no reason to assemble a lily-white cast. Any of the characters can be of any race. The only stipulation is that Kathy and Jonas, for obvious reasons, must be of the same race. For reasons which should become obvious, Agent Richards must be a woman (although she can be played by a male). The other agents may be either male or female. It is perfectly acceptable for Kathy to be played by a transsexual, or for that matter, so can any of the other characters. Perhaps all the characters except Kathy should be played by transsexuals.

If financial constraints make it difficult to build an elevator which moves up and down, the set can be constructed so only the elevator door shows. However, the glass-front elevator is a prime indication that the action takes place in a large urban hotel.

If a grand piano proves difficult to come by, a prop piano can be constructed and an electronic keyboard positioned so it appears to be the piano keyboard, or music for Brad’s playing can be piped in from backstage.

Setting: A grand hotel, with large lobby and a long registration desk somewhere offstage. In an alcove off the lobby there is a Steinway grand piano. A couch, several high-backed plush chairs, and assorted small tables are arranged about ten feet from the piano. A line of house phones (at least six, to indicate the size of the hotel) are on the back wall. A glass-front elevator and a bar can be seen stage right. Bradley, a bored-looking pianist in a tuxedo, plays songs from a fake book. He will play softly throughout the performance. Some tunes are suggested in the script. However, anyone who produces this play is welcome to substitute any tunes they find appropriate or useful, or which they can use without paying royalties.

The curtain rises. Bradley is seated at the piano, playing softly. Sam is behind the bar, polishing glasses and arranging stock. Jonas, a man of about 24 with male pattern baldness well under way, walks silently from stage left to the elevator. He is dressed in a rumpled business suit and carries a briefcase. He has a slightly angry affect. He is led by Harvey, a uniformed bellman, who is carrying a medium-sized suitcase. Jonas nods minutely to Bradley as he passes, then follows Harvey onto the elevator, which rises out of sight.

A long moment passes, then from stage left walks Kathy, a striking young woman dressed in skirt and blouse. A coat lies across her arm. She is clutching her purse with both hands, looking nervously about as if trying to spot someone. Her actions are decidedly feminine, but not exaggeratedly so. We will soon see that she can have a hard edge about her.

Seeing no one except Bradley and Sam, Kathy perches for a second on the arm of a chair, then rises, lays the coat across the back of the chair, and sits in the chair adjacent. Bradley looks decidedly less bored. He cuts his song short, begins playing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.”

Pat, a waitress, enters from stage right.

Pat: May I get you something, Miss?

Kathy: Oh—yes. May I have a screwdriver, please? Kathy’s voice is a pleasant, rich contralto. She has a slight Southern accent.

Pat: Coming right up. Departs for the bar.

Brad: Looking for someone?

Kathy: Aren’t we all?

Brad: Laughs. Do you have a request?

Kathy: Giving Brad a withering look. Yes. Leave me alone.

Brad: I don’t know that one.

Kathy: You really like to play the straight man, don’t you?

Brad: With a shrug and a flourish on the piano. Well, I am a straight man.

Kathy: Resignedly. They all say that.

Harvey the bellman rides the elevator down to the lobby and crosses the alcove, nodding to Brad and tipping his hat to Kathy, who smiles back at him.

Brad: Could I buy you a drink when I finish my set?

Kathy: Do you have a name, or are you just a six-foot pianist?

Brad looks pained.

Kathy: I’m sorry. I don’t know what got into me. I’m not usually such a bitch. I’m just nervous, I guess. I’m supposed to meet my brother, who I haven’t seen in years and years. I really would like to know your name.

Brad: Pretends to pout. Sings: You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine.

Kathy: My name is Katherine. My friends call me Kathy.

Brad: Plays a few chords of “You Need a Friend.” I’ll be your friend, if you need one.

Kathy: One can’t be too thin or have too many friends. Someone once said something very much like that. Kathy, then. She extends her hand.

Brad: Leans over to take her hand. It was “You can’t be too thin or too rich,” but I think having friends is more important than money. Kathy. Pretty name.

Pat: Returns from the bar and sets Kathy’s drink and a dish of bar mix on a table. Would you like to charge this to your room?

Kathy: Thank you, no. I’m afraid I’m not staying here.

Pat: Would you like to run a tab, then?

Kathy: Hesitates very briefly. Yes. Yes, I would. I’m not sure when my party will show up.

Pat: If you need anything, my name is Pat. Departs.

Kathy: Now everyone knows everyone else’s name, with the exception of the mystery man at the piano.

Brad: Bradley.

Kathy: Brad?

Brad: Brad works.

Kathy: It’s an anagram for bard, you know? Brad is.

Brad: Cuts his eyes up and to the right for a moment in reflection, then smiles at Kathy. Yeah! So it is.

Kathy: Pleased to meet you, bard.

Brad: Pleased ‘ta, Kath.

Kathy: Doing Bogart. Play it, Brad. Play it.

Brad launches into “As Time Goes By.” Kathy laughs delightedly and takes a sip of her drink.

The elevator descends, bearing Jonas, who is still carrying his briefcase. He looks dubiously at Kathy, then past her, mentally dismissing her. Jonas walks heavily to the bar and sits on a stool. Kathy, who has been purposefully looking away, peers at him as he turns to Sam the bartender. The lights dim on Brad and Kathy.

Jonas: Speaking with an accent similar to Kathy’s: Do you have any single malt scotch?

Sam: Yes, sor. We have Tha MacAllan, Glen Morangie, Glen—

Jonas: The MacAllan. Straight up.

Sam: Turns and pours the drink, puts it in front of Jonas. Will there be anythang else, sor?

Jonas: No, thank you. Lights come back up on Kathy. Jonas turns away from the bar, notices Kathy looking at him, smiles and nods at her, whereupon she, embarrassed to have been caught watching, lowers her head and quickly turns away. Jonas turns back to the bar and glumly stares into his drink. Lights down on Kathy.

Sam: If you don’t mind my saying so, sor, it seems to be weighin’ heavy on ya.

Jonas: Yes. Yes, I suppose it is.

Sam waits patiently.

Jonas: I’m supposed to meet my brother here today. I haven’t seen him in years. Lights up briefly on Kathy, then back down.

Sam: Nods benignly. Ah, yes sor.

Jonas: I’m afraid it’s a bit more complicated than that. Lights up on Kathy. He looks again at Kathy, then back to his drink. After a second he picks up his drink, mumbling. A bit more complex than that. He takes a swallow, then, carrying the drink, he walks to a chair across the table from Kathy and sits. Lights up on Brad. Good afternoon, miss.

Kathy: Pleasantly. Good afternoon.

Jonas sets his drink on the table not far from Kathy’s. He stands there, appraising her, making her a bit nervous. Bradley begins playing “Lara’s Theme.”

Kathy: Yes? May I help you?

Jonas: I’m supposed to meet my brother here today.

Bradley switches to “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

Kathy: I’m perfectly happy for both of you.

Jonas: Still stands there. After a moment he speaks. This is going to be an embarrassing question.

Kathy: Sweetly, but with menace. Then I suggest you not ask it.

Jonas: Looks at his watch. Damn. He’s late. He was always late.

Kathy: I beg your pardon?

Jonas: My brother. Dave. He was always late.

Kathy: And you were the punctual one, I suppose?

Jonas: Yes, in point of fact, I was.

Kathy: Your brother—Dave, was it?

Jonas: Dave.

Kathy: Dave?

Jonas: Dave.

Kathy: Dave?

Jonas: In exasperation. Dave!

Kathy and Bradley: Doing Cheech and Chong, in unison. Dave’s not here! Kathy and Brad laugh. Jonas just looks hurt.

Kathy: You’re expecting him? Dave?

Jonas: Looks at his watch again. Yes, and he’s late, late like always.

Kathy: Why don’t you stop being so impatient and sit down. If he’s going to come, he’ll come, whether you’re sitting or standing.

Jonas: Something happened to Dave.

Kathy: Oh, my! No wonder he’s late.

Jonas: No, no. Dave has had a—let’s call it a life change. He’s been going through it for some years.

Kathy: Oh.

Jonas: I haven’t seen him for a long time. I’m not sure I’ll recognize him.

Pat has wandered up and starts to look busy, putting napkins under Kathy and Jonas’ drinks and straightening things up. She is eavesdropping.

Kathy: You don’t think you’ll recognize your own brother? How long has it been since you’ve seen him?

Jonas: I’d say it’s been five years.

Kathy: How much could he have changed in five years? A few wrinkles, the beginning of an inner tube around his middle, a different haircut…

Jonas: He’s changed quite a bit, I’m told. He isn’t even the same person.

Bradley pauses for a second in his playing, then resumes.

Kathy: And you won’t know him? Surely you jest.

Jonas: Don’t call me Shirley.

Kathy: Unbelievable. You have a sense of humor after all.

Jonas: Grins sheepishly. It’s underdeveloped, I’m afraid. Dave used to say that.

Kathy: Don’t call me Shirley.

Jonas: Yes. Now he is Shirley.

Kathy: He’s surely what?

Jonas: Not surely. Shirley.

Kathy: My name is Kathy.

Jonas: He’s Shirley, Kathy.

Bradley: Unable to resist. He changed his name?

Jonas: Dourly. He changed more than that, I’m afraid.

Lights down for 15 seconds. At lights up, the characters are still in the same place, but are positioned slightly differently, indicating some time has elapsed. Kathy has taken off her shoes and sits with her elbow on the arm of her chair and her legs curled up underneath her. She has kicked off her shoes.

Kathy: You haven’t seen a picture?

Jonas: Shaking his head. I haven’t wanted to. I have this mental vision of him with a bad wig and a ton of makeup. I mean, this guy used to wear a beard, for Christ’s sake. We’re talking the Jerry Springer Show.

Bradley: Has he had, you know—Stops playing and makes a scissors motion with one hand. The chop? Hits the piano keys, dissonantly, hard, with no sustain. The op? Has he like gone abroad and come back a broad? Jonas is looking at him with a horrified expression. C’mon. Jeez! Did they make a pole into a hole? Did he get it cut off?

Jonas: I don’t know. Loudly. Damn, he’s late! I’m going to call the front desk to see if he’s taken a room. Goes to the house phone on the back wall to make the call. Lights down on Jonas.

Kathy starts to say something to Bradley, but is interrupted by the hotel’s public address system.

Public Address System: Your attention, please. All guests and staff of the hotel, your attention. A motorcade carrying the President of the United States will be passing directly in front of the hotel in 30 minutes. The Secret Service has informed us that as the motorcade approaches, no vehicles may enter or leave the hotel and no one may use the stairs or elevators until the President has passed. Guests are advised to go to their rooms now or plan to say in the lobby until the Secret Service gives the all clear. Repeat. Vehicles may not leave the premises until the President has passed. There will be no access to the elevators or stairs.

Kathy: To Pat, who is still nearby, listening. Guess I’ll have another, then please, Pat.

Pat: Startling herself out of her reverie. Right. Screwdriver

Kathy: Make it a double.

Pat: You got it. Goes to the bar.

Kathy: To Bradley, who is playing “Pomp and Circumstance.” Make it a double. I’ve always wanted to say that.

Bradley: And now you have. What about that Dave character?

Kathy: Yeah, what about that.

Bradley: I’ve never known anyone who’s had a sex change.

Kathy: Maybe you have, but just didn’t realize it. How do you feel about it? Someone having a sex change, I mean?

Bradley: Shrugs, literally and musically. I dunno. I can’t say I understand why someone would want to do that, but if it works for them, it’s fine by me.

Kathy: Her drink has arrived. She picks it up and walks over to the piano in her stocking feet and puts her elbows on it, with her chin in her cupped hands. I feel that way, too.

Bradley: Did you ever know one? A transsexual, I mean?

Kathy: Thinks a moment. No-oo, I’ve never known a transsexual, but I’ll tell you a secret. She leans over and whispers in Brad’s ear.

Bradley: Rocks back to look at her, but keeps playing. No.

Kathy: Yes.

Bradley: Continues to look Kathy over closely. No. Couldn’t be.

Kathy: Yes. I’m telling you.

Bradley: Un-be-liev-a-ble. He pronounces every syllable separately. I tell ya, I never would have known. Damn! I mean, they did good work.

Kathy: Thank you, I guess.

Bradley: Did you have the operation?

Kathy: Now just a minute, Bradley. I’ve known you what, fifteen minutes? Let’s just consider that question, shall we? Do you think our relationship is to the point that you should be asking me personal questions about my genitals?

Bradley: Looking shocked. I guess not.

Kathy: The thing about being transsexual is like, everyone seems to think you require their approval, and your body is fair game for their probing questions. Somehow, changing our bodies makes people think they have permission to use us for mental sex toys. Did you ever think about it like that?

Bradley: I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it one way or another. But I see your point. Forgive me?

Kathy: Picks up her drink, smiling. Forgiven.

Bradley: Still, they did one hell of a job. He laughs, and after a second, so does Kathy. Bradley launches into “Pretty Baby.” Lights up on Jonas, who slams the house phone down. Kathy walks back to her seat, arriving at about the same time as Jonas. She puts her shoes on and sits down.

Kathy: Well? Is he here?

Jonas: There’s no David Steinway registered. But then there wouldn’t be, would there? I mean, he’s supposed to be a woman now. Surely he doesn’t use his old name.

Kathy: Don’t call me Shirley. She sits down.

Jonas: Sorry, I can’t quite bring myself to smile. There are no Steinways at all.

Bradley: I beg to differ. I’m playing a Steinway. Say, how much does a Stein weigh?

Kathy: So she might be here, or she might not.

Jonas: She?

Kathy: Think about it. If the name has changed, so have the pronouns. You had best get used to it.

Jonas: I don’t think I could ever call my brother she.

Kathy: In a low-pitched voice. Why not? You called me Shirley.

Jonas: Stares at Kathy, comprehension slowly dawning. He leans forward, looks at her, takes a step back, looks again. No. Couldn’t be.

Bradley. That’s what I said. They did good work, huh?

Jonas swoons, slumping over a chair. The lights go down for 15 seconds, then come back up. We see the back of Secret Service Agent Wright, who is stationed in front of the elevator. The elevator doors are standing open, the elevator turned off. Bradley is at the bar, getting a marguerita. Jonas is leaning back in a chair, a wet washcloth across his forehead. Pat is attending him, clucking with sympathy. Kathy sits in her chair, smirking, making occasional eye contact with Brad, who makes no attempt to hide his amusement.

Public Address System: Your attention. Your attention, please. The President’s motorcade is approaching the hotel. No one will be allowed to leave the building or use the elevators or stairs until the President has passed.

Bradley, bringing his drink, comes over and sits down on the couch.

Jonas: He is reviving from his faint. I don’t think I’ve ever passed out before. I remember I was waiting for my brother. I remember—He sits straight up. I remember! It was you! You’re him!

Kathy: Him who?

Jonas: He practically levitates out of his chair. I can’t look at you. I can’t! He looks anyway. He walks abruptly away, exiting stage left. He’s back in a moment. They won’t let me leave the building. I’m going to my room. He heads toward the elevator, is stopped by Agent Wright. Jonas gesticulates wildly, and the agent speaks into his mouthpiece. Agents O’Grady and Richards suddenly appear and take Jonas by the arms and start to lead him away, past the seated group. Kathy rises and quietly entreats Agent O’Grady. He stops, listens, nods, and releases Jonas. Agent Richards does likewise. Jonas stands quietly.

Agent O’Grady: If you promise to stay calm, I’ll turn you over to your sister. Otherwise, you and I are going to have to have a little talk, and your name will end up in a computer file as a potential threat to the President of the United States. What about it?

Jonas: She’s not my—Catches himself. Whatever you say. I just wanted to go to my room. I’ll stay here. When will I be able to leave?

Agent O’Grady: You can leave when you hear the all clear on the intercom, not before. Shouldn’t be more than 15 or 20 minutes. Now are you going to stay with the lady?

Jonas: Meekly. Yes. Jonas falls heavily into a chair, and the agent speaks into his mouthpiece. Jonas says sarcastically: Lady! She’s not even a woman!

Agent O’Grady: Okay. Agent Richards here is going to stay close and keep her eye on you. Be sure to remain here until the all clear. He leaves, and Agent Richards stations herself nearby.

Jonas: Thank you, David. Agent Richards looks at Kathy, looks at Jonas as if he were crazy, then looks at Kathy again. Kathy smiles innocently at Agent Richards. Except for this slip, Agent Richards remains professionally aloof and unsmiling during the conversation which ensues, not at all acknowledging what is being said, and not responding to the rhetorical question Kathy will soon ask of her.

Kathy: David was a long time ago, brother dear. My name is Kathy. It has been for a long time.

Jonas: I’m not sure I can call you that.

Kathy: It may take a while. But think about it. If you call me David, everyone in earshot will think you’re loony.

Jonas: You might be right.

Kathy: A bad wig and a ton of makeup, huh?

Jonas: You look better than my worst fears, I’ll give you that. You certainly don’t look anything like Dave. But you don’t look like a woman, either. More like a caricature of a woman.

Pat: He does too look like a woman!

Bradley: I’ll say! Whoo hoo!

Kathy: I’m the same person. I swear I am. Ninety percent is the same. Only ten percent has changed, the outside part. And the proper pronoun is she. This to Pat.

Bradley: She definitely works better for you, my dear.

Jonas: Your face is different. You don’t look at all like yourself. I didn’t know you.

Kathy: I finally do look like myself. Exactly like myself.

Jonas: How did you do it?

Kathy: Shrugs. I don’t know. Better living through chemistry. Hormones, that is. Plastic surgery on my face, and in other areas. Electrolysis. Things like that. You’re losing your hair.

Jonas: Dear God, brother, why did you do this to yourself?

Kathy: A little defensively. Do what?

Jonas: Look at you! Do that! Have your beard removed. Grow breasts. Have your—

Kathy: Interrupting. It’s not been established that I did that.

Jonas: That’s even worse!

Kathy: In that case, of course I did.

Bradley: Thank goodness.

Kathy: But then again, who’s going to see it? Maybe I’m lying about it. Maybe I didn’t have the surgery.

Bradley: I knew it was too good to be true.

Kathy: And then again, maybe I did. I mean, there’s no way to tell, short of a panty check. Let’s call 911 and ask for the gender police. Do you really think my sex—my gender—depends on whether I had the surgery or not?

Pat: Sure it does.

Kathy: Oh, Goddess, I’m doing Oprah now. To Agent Richards: I call it doing Oprah when I have to field questions from a hostile audience. Richards doesn’t respond. Kathy turns to the others. I mean, look, let’s get real. You—She looks at Jonas—are going to call me David and he no matter whether I’ve had the surgery or not. And all of you feel you have the authority to decide whether I’m a man or a woman. That means I can be either, or both, or neither, all at the same time, unless you form a committee and vote on my gender, or something. That sucks.

And another thing. You not only get to decide what I “really” am, you also get to decide whether I look like a “real” woman—whatever a real woman looks like. Jonas says no. Bradley says yes. Miss Secret Service man isn’t saying anything. Pat’s vote is still out, although she called me he, which is probably a clue. It was Miss before my gender status became a matter of such overriding national importance.

Public Address System: Your attention, please. The President’s motorcade is passing the hotel.

Jonas: As soon as they let me, I’m going to my room. This is too weird.

Kathy: What’s weird, brother dear? Me? I mean, the me that’s inside this body, the me that decided I wanted to live as a woman instead of a man? Or the me that is this body, this body that changed from that of a fairly typical male to that of a fairly typical female? Or is it just weird because you’re not capable of dealing with that sort of change?

Jonas: It’s not natural.

Kathy: Not natural?

Pat: God made you a woman—I mean, a man. Blushes at her mistake. I mean, I think what he’s saying is if God had wanted you to be a woman, he would have made you one.

Kathy: To Pat. And that’s what you believe too, isn’t it?

Pat: Yes.

Kathy: Flash from Mount Olympus. The Goddess didn’t make me either a man or a woman. She made me a little baby. My change from baby to adult is much more profound than my change from man to woman.

Pat: But that’s natural.

Kathy: My birth wasn’t even natural. I wouldn’t be here if the doctors hadn’t cut me out of my mother’s womb. And my brother dear, also, and at the same time, I might add.

Bradley: A bit incredulously. You’re twins?

Kathy: Absolutely. I’m the older, by four minutes.

Bradley: Identical?

Kathy: Well, except that he has a hangy down thingy and it’s not been established whether I do or not.

Bradley: I can’t imagine you with one.

Kathy: Thank you, I’m sure. Now, it would certainly seem that the natural order was circumvented when we were born, would it not?

Jonas: That’s different.

Kathy: Of course it is, ’cause it’s your ass on the line. When it’s me, then it’s not natural. When it’s your ass, it is. Isn’t that how it goes? How convenient for you.

Pat: I had a C-section.

Kathy: I’ll never have one. I can’t get pregnant. But I was born of a C-section because there were two babies and we were all tangled up and my mother would have died without it. And I would have too. And Jonas wouldn’t be here either. But we are here and arguing because everything wasn’t perfectly natural.

Jonas: It’s different, I tell you!

Kathy: Sure it is. People take antibiotics to cure a fever which might otherwise kill them. They have their teeth filled and capped. They wear glasses to correct their vision, or a device in their ear so they can hear. Men wear rugs to hide their receding hairline. She looks at Jonas’ hairline. In five years you’ll be wearing one. People take insulin because of diabetes, have brain surgery to remove a tumor, get a pacemaker to jump start a failing heart. That’s all so natural, isn’t it? When people dye their hair or have their noses done or get breast implants, it’s natural. But when it comes to what I’ve done, that’s not natural at all. Now, why is that?

Bradley: You’ve been thinking about this a lot, haven’t you? I can tell.

Kathy: I’ll tell you why. It’s because you’re looking for a reason to be uncomfortable, and it’s easy to hang it on your religious beliefs, so long as you selectively apply it and forget about all the other parts of the Bible or the Torah or the Koran, the parts you don’t like, the part about stoning your adulterous wife and the part about not eating pork or shellfish. You say, “God didn’t really mean that. But he didn’t want you to change sex, not that it’s in the good book anywhere, but we just know he wouldn’t have wanted you to do that.” Such bullshit.

Pat: I just know what I believe.

Kathy: Yes, what you believe. I don’t care what people believe or whether or not they approve of what I’ve done, but it would be nice if they would own up to it being their personal reaction and not look to heaven for their justification.

Jonas: It’s deceitful. Changing sex. You’re showing a lie to the world.

Kathy: I’m showing me just as I am. I look this way because I look this way. It’s who I am. I’m not wearing heavy makeup. I’m not wearing a wig. I don’t have to shave to get this smooth face. This is who I am. What, should I wear a sign that says, “I used to be a boy?”

Jonas: David, most women didn’t used to be boys.

Kathy: This one did. My route to womanhood may have been a bit unorthodox, but that doesn’t make me less authentic.

Jonas: Everyone assumes you were born female. You’re a lie because you weren’t.

Kathy: I was a lie when I was the other way. This is how I felt inside. This is the truth. I don’t hold my past back from anybody. I mean, after all, we’re sitting here talking about what I have or used to have or might have between my legs, for Christ’s sake. Rises and stretches. Please, Oprah, isn’t it time for a commercial break? Who do I have to fuck to get a drink around here?

Bradley: That would be me. It’s a rule.

Pat jumps up and goes to the bar to get Kathy a screwdriver. She whispers something to Sam the bartender, who gawks at Kathy while he is mixing her drink.

Kathy: To Jonas. I’m sure we could sit around all day thinking of reasons why I’m going to hell and shouldn’t annoy decent people until I do, but I do have a life. In just a little while we’re going to be free to leave, and I for one would like to do just that. So why, brother dear, did you ask me to meet you here? Did you just want to insult me?

Jonas: You’d better sit down.

Kathy: Taking her drink from Pat, who has arrived, and sinking into the chair. Oh, Goddess, it’s Dad, isn’t it? What’s wrong?

Jonas: Father passed away.

Kathy: Looks at her drink for a long moment, then picks it up and drains it. When? Wait a minute, let me guess. Long enough ago that he’s already buried and I won’t be able to embarrass what’s left of the family by showing up at the funeral.

Jonas: He died last Tuesday. He was buried on Friday.

Kathy: And no one told me.

Jonas: We talked about it and decided to wait to tell you.

Kathy: Crying now. So I wouldn’t show up.

Jonas: So you wouldn’t show up.

Kathy: You bastard! She picks up her drink to throw it in Jonas’ face, but remembers it’s empty and sets it back down.

Bradley: To Jonas. As a musical genius who has been forced by circumstance to play music at this hotel, I shouldn’t jeopardize what passes for an income by saying something like this to a guest, but that sucks, dude.

The lights go down for 15 seconds. When they come back up, Kathy is huddled in her chair, looking a little rumpled, weeping. Pat is sitting on the arm of the chair, consoling her. Bradley is back at the piano, playing “Stardust.” Jonas has his briefcase open on his lap and is shuffling through some papers.

Public Address System: Your attention, please. The President’s motorcade has passed. The Secret Service has given us the all clear. Guest may now use the elevators and stairs and are free to leave the building. Secret Service Agent Richards nods to Jonas and walks away. The agent at the elevator reaches inside and switches it on. The doors close and he walks away. Pat rises, tidies the table, and goes offstage.

Brad: Thank goodness. He stops playing, stretches, and goes to sit at the bar. He pretends not to listen to Kathy and Jonas’ conversation.

Kathy: Looking around. Well, that’s it. You’re free to go to your room now, or to leave the hotel entirely.

Jonas: There’s some business to discuss.

Kathy: Oh, Goddess, no, not the will.

Jonas: I’ve been appointed executor.

Kathy: Of course.

Jonas: You’re not going to like this…

Kathy: So far, you’ve not said anything I’ve liked. Why change your strategy in midstream?

Jonas: We won’t know the exact value of Father’s estate for some time, of course, but I would estimate it’s about three million dollars.

Kathy: Hooray for him.

Jonas: He made several bequests, but nothing of any real value was involved. The bulk of the estate is left to his two children. There is something about the wording I think you should know about.

Kathy: Let me guess. He used my old name.

Jonas: No, he didn’t mention either of us by name. He left three-quarters of the estate to his older son, and the remainder to his younger son.

Kathy: It’s his little joke, isn’t it, his last little joke? He didn’t think that much of you, and he’s letting you know it, in fact, he’s rubbing it in your face. I get more than you despite my supposedly dissolute lifestyle, and it’s eating you alive. That’s it, isn’t it?

Jonas: I warn you, David, I intend to contest it.

Kathy: I’m still processing the fact that my father, who I last saw six years ago, is dead. Give me a break here, will you? I loved him.

Jonas: He specifically left three-quarters of his estate to his older son.

Kathy: So?

Jonas: Well, considering what you have done to yourself…

Kathy: I don’t think I want to hear this.

Jonas: You’re now a woman, I presume—I mean legally. Therefore, how can you possibly be his older son?

Kathy: Angrily. So that’s it! Your name doesn’t quite fit. It should be Judas, not Jonas. I’m a man to you, you call me David, but you’re ready to claim I’m a woman in court in order to steal my inheritance. She starts to cry again.

Jonas: You gave up any right to be his son when you had your wanger cut off! You’ve not been a son in any sense. You know Father was opposed to what you did.

Kathy: He loved me! He did! Father was never a strong man. He stayed away from me only because mother demanded it, the old bitch. She gave him hell whenever I used to visit. After her death, seeing me would have been like sneaking around behind her back. He wouldn’t let me visit, but he loved me. He sent me cards at Christmas and on our birthday. He put me in the will.

Jonas: I’m his older son, and his younger one, too. I’m his only son. I’m going to see to it you get nothing.

Kathy: Still crying, but making an effort to dry her tears. Here’s where I should scream and cry and make a scene. But brother, dear, I’m going to simply ask you for a copy of the will. I presume you’ve had copies made?

Jonas: Throws the will at her. Here! Not that you can make heads or tails of it, you stupid cunt!

Kathy: With mock happiness. At last, my dear brother acknowledges his true feelings about my gender.

Jonas: Rises and prepares to leave. He says hatefully: I’ll see you in court. If you can afford to hire a lawyer, that is. Day-vid. He strides off.

Brad: He comes back from the bar and sits beside Kathy and puts his hand on hers. Nice fellow.

Kathy: He is a peach, ain’t he? She gets up and walks to the piano and puts her elbows on it. Play something. Brad sits at the piano and begins to play softly. You know, I just figured out something. Transsexualism is a reflection. I mean, I’m real enough, but I bring out what is inside people. Because they consider me less than human, they allow their real selves to show. Jonas can be quite charming, but you just saw who he really is. Scary, isn’t it?

Bradley: Very. He’s a sick fuck trapped in Bob Newhart’s body. Pauses in his playing. Do you think he has a chance of making that stick in court?

Kathy: Not a chance. And you know why?

Bradley: No. Why?

Kathy: Because although I’m a woman, I’ve always been Jonas’ brother, and always will be. I’m not his sister. I don’t deny my past. I’m not ashamed of who I am and what I’ve done. I won’t go away quietly because I’m afraid to face the spotlight. And I won’t fold up under cross-examination. And you know what else?

Bradley: No, what?

Kathy: My dear brother doesn’t know it, but I’m an attorney. A good one. When I left home in disgrace—when I was kicked out, I should say—I got a job as a secretary at a legal firm. Before long I was a paralegal. I went to law school nights and I passed the bar first try. Now I have my own practice, and I’m not doing badly.

Bradley: Far fucking out.

Kathy: Mostly I do criminal work, but probably ten percent of my clients are transsexuals, dealing with just the sort of shit dear Jonas thinks he’s going to get away with. I fight hard for their rights, and I generally win.

Bradley: You’re an amazing person, you know that?

Kathy: I suppose I am.

Bradley: There’s just one thing I want to know.

Kathy: Brussels. Three years ago.

Bradley: What?

Kathy: Makes the scissors motion. The operation. That’s what you were going to ask, wasn’t it?

Bradley: I’m glad to know, but no, I was going to ask if you were staying at the hotel. If you are, I was wondering if you might be, ah, free this evening.

Pat: Walks over with a screwdriver and places it in front of Kathy. Compliments of the lady at the bar. We see Secret Service Agent Richards at the bar. When Kathy looks at her, she lifts her drink in acknowledgement.

Kathy: I hadn’t planned on staying, but ‘ya never know. See ‘ya ’round, Brad. She picks up her drink and walks slowly to the bar to join Agent Richards.



 The action of this one-act play takes place in a large hotel, perhaps a Marriott or Hyatt. Identical twin brothers meet by pre-arrangement; the younger (by several minutes) wants to deliver the news of their fathers’ death and give notice he intends to contest the father’s will, which favors the older (by several minutes) brother.

A Presidential motorcade passes on the street outside the hotel; for several hours, the characters are required to remain in the premises.

Characters include the brothers, a lounge singer named Bradley, a waitress, a bartender, and two Secret Service agents.

What makes the reunion unusual is that the older brother has had a sex change. Now a woman, and a convincing one, Kathy finds her gender identity and expression called into question by her brother, who calls her by her old name in an attempt to humiliate her—but Kathy refuses to be humiliated. Each character reacts in an individual way to the transsexual issue

Biographical Information

Dallas Denny, an out transsexual writer and activist, lives in tiny Pine Lake, Georgia, population 610, the smallest municipality with a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. She was editor of the late Transgender Tapestry Journal and was for five years director of Fantasia Fair, a week-long transgender celebration now in its 30th year. She is a board member of Gender Education & Advocacy, a nonprofit corporation which continues a 40-year tradition of providing information and support to transsexuals and their families. Her newest passion is renovating her 1930s lake view cottage.

Author’s Statement

My work is informed by my own transsexualism. I am nonpolitical by nature, but my early experience around gender identity issues angered me and made me determined to do whatever I could to make things better for myself and others like me. I was fortunate to transition gender roles and become politically active in the 1980s; I am gratified and fulfilled by the transgender movement that blossomed in the 1990s.

Most of my work has themes of alienation and much of what I write deals directly with transsexualism. “The Reunion” is no exception; one of the characters is transsexual, and her transsexualism is in fact the focus of the play.

Kathy, the transsexual character, is perhaps a bit like me, soft, but with a hard edge. She does not shame or lie down when challenged about who she is. She manages to say in these few pages many of the things I would like to say, and much in fact I do say. I struggled to portray her realistically as a passing transsexual who has the inner strength to confront her past and those, like her twin brother, who dwell in it.