Rita Hayworth said “Men go to bed with Gilda and wake up with Rita”. It is so sad.
Rita, 37, actress, slight Southern American accent
Gilda, femme fatale character, played by Rita
Kent, Gilda’s pursuer, played by Charlie
Lester Schwarz, Producer, 60’s, overweight,
Andy, Rita’s admirer 25,
Performance time: 14 minutes
Scene 1 – Rooftop at night
Muted traffic noise. It is raining, a strong wind blows. A man stands at the far end of the roof high up in a busy city (SR), looking between the ground and the slowly advancing Gilda SL. Gilda holds a gun in front of her with both hands.
Gilda: This is it now, nowhere left for you to run, you must face me, you have to face up to the choices you made.
Kent: Gilda, don’t kid yourself honey, you’re hands are just as dirty as mine.
Gilda: (glances at hands) Maybe, but this time they’re holding the gun.
Kent: I’d just run away from here if I were you, I know all about you. I know how you sold secrets to the Germans.
Gilda: I only told them what they wanted to hear. This world is just a market, people take, give, steal and lie to get what they need. I was in the right place at the right time.
Kent: You put thousands of lives at risk to get what you wanted.
Gilda: I did what I had to do.
Kent: For what? Money?
Gilda: I have my reasons.
Kent: But what about us? I love you, you know that.
Gilda: I know that I was assigned to you to investigate, you read my file and decided the best way to get what you wanted was make me promises. You promised to save me from them, but now everyone is after me. I should have known I could never trust you Kent.
(Click as GILDA pulls back the hammer on her gun)
Kent: We both know you won’t shoot me, you’re not the type.
(KENT begins to advance slowly, arms outstretched.)
Kent: C’mon honey, relax, I’m your friend.
(KENT closes on Gilda. GILDA fires her gun)
Gilda: You started something and now I have to finish it.
(KENT drops to his knees. GILDA continues to advance.)
Kent: (angry) You don’t need to do this, (frightened) please, I’m sorry Gilda, I won’t tell anyone.
(GILDA holds the pistol to KENT’S temple and fires once, KENT falls to one side. GILDA stands over KENT’S body, looks down at his face. GILDA calmly fires the remaining four bullets into KENT’S body.)
Gilda: No Kent, you won’t tell anyone.
(GILDA freezes unnaturally)
Director: (shouting from offstage) Cut!
(The fans stop, stage-hands bustle past, collecting props, carrying fog machines, lights. One Stage-hand mops the floor. RITA folds her arms around herself and CHARLIE gets to his feet).
Director: That was awful, there was no feeling, you’re both supposed to be professionals, what do you give me? Rubbish. Rita, you need to give some passion, put some smoulder in it. Get cleaned up, we go again in five minutes. And this time, I want emotion.
(Wardrobe and makeup assistants bustle around both actors. An assistant drapes a blanket over RITA’S shoulders. Another umbuttons CHARLIE’S shirt and takes it off).
Rita: I’m sorry Charlie, I’m having a tough time. I don’t know if I can do it anymore.
(CHARLIE opens his arms, offering an embrace, RITA puts her arms around him.)
Charlie: No, no, it aint you, this is just what this great director is like, I’ve worked with him before. He is hard on the talent so he can take the credit for their performances – there are going to be nominations for this film, it could be our ticket to better roles. It’s our final scene, lets nail it and go home.
Rita: I guess.
(CHARLIE glares at RITA and suddenly pulls her close.)
Charlie: (quietly) Pull yourself together Rita, I need this. None of us are getting younger, we’ve got to make this count. I owe a lot of money, Christine is pregnant again.
(Rita physically reacts to the word ‘pregnant’. The assistants return with a clean shirt for CHARLIE.)
Rita: I’m sorry Charlie, I feel so controlled, I just don’t know what to do sometimes.
Charlie: What would Gilda do?
Rita: (sighs) Overreact. She’d probably kill the Director and go after the Producer.
(RITA returns to her start point SL)
Charlie: (Calling across the stage) Oh, Lester wants to see you. He seemed pretty steamed. Said something about a new role for you. See you at the party tonight.
(A bell rings. The assistants scurry away)
Director (offstage) Quiet on set, start the fans, final scene, take five.
Scene 2 – Producer’s office
Daytime. A room dominated by a huge desk SR, a floor length window behind. A telephone, newspapers and letters cover the desk. Framed Movie posters cover most of the walls. A battered couch sits against one wall CS. Lester, his shiny and tight-fitting suit bulging at the seams, sits at the desk, chewing a cigar.
(RITA enters SL. LESTER looks up)
Lester: Rita, how nice of you to come, when I leave a message, I expect a phone call the same day, you’ve been ignoring me for the last week. Do you know how much trouble you’re causing me? I get directors saying they can’t work with you, actors who complain about your lack of professionalism. Word spreads, you know?
Lester: But I defend you, I always have. I’m the only friend you have left.
(LESTER looks out of the window.)
Lester: This whole town is out to get you, everyone wants to see you fail and go back to whichever dirt farm you came from. Cute actresses are a dime a dozen, you need something else, you need me.
(LESTER turns to face RITA. Grinding his cigar into an ashtray.)
Lester: This picture is going to be big, I’ve already lined up some more work for you.
Rita: Not Gilda again.
Lester: You ungrateful bitch. It’s what you’re good at. You’re gonna turn down good work, work I had to fight for?
Rita: What about what I want?
Lester: It’s not about you, Gilda is hot right now, everyone wants to see a picture with her in. Everyone wants Nazis, how do you think I feel about that? I’m a fucking Jew, they killed half my people. You always give them what they want. That’s rule one around here.
(RITA sniffs loudly and dabs the corner of her eyes with a handkerchief. LESTER moves around the desk and sits on the couch next to RITA.)
Lester: (softly) Don’t cry, I’ll always defend you, I’ll keep you in work, but I don’t think you appreciate everything I’ve done for you.
Rita: Of course I do Lester. I don’t know what I’d do without you.
Lester: I could find some other farm-girl to work with.
Rita: Please don’t, I need you.
Lester: That’s better. Well maybe you should show me how grateful you are.
Rita: What do you mean?
(LESTER puts his hand on RITA’S knee)
Rita: Lester. Don’t start something I’ll have to finish.
(LESTER pushes his face close to RITA’S)
Lester: You’re threatening me? You aint that good Honey, that’s only a line from the film you’re shooting. I can see you shaking.
(RITA and LESTER struggle, RITA struggles to her feet, LESTER stands and pushes her to the desk, with his hands around her throat, LESTER turns RITA and pushes RITA face first onto the desk, dislodging papers. LESTER leans close.)
Lester: You need to learn some respect. I’m gonna teach you to be nice to the people who try to help you.
(LESTER takes one hand off RITA’s throat and reaches down to undo his fly. RITA struggles. LESTER straightens up, clutches his left arm with his right hand, groaning, he staggers to the couch and collapses heavily into it. RITA looks up slowly, confused.)
Lester: (gasping) Help me you stupid bitch!
(RITA looks from LESTER, to the telephone on his desk, and back again to LESTER. RITA picks up the handset.)
Rita: Find yourself another farm-girl, I’m through. (to operator) Yes, I need an ambulance please.
Scene 3 – Rita’s Hotel Room
Night. A hotel corridor outside room 503. RITA is wearing a sleeveless cocktail dress. RITA and ANDY stagger through the audience to the hotel door DSC. RITA is tipsy and fumbling with her door key.
Rita: Can you help a lady?
(ANDY steps forward, takes the key and turns it in the lock. The door swings open.)
Rita: How about a lift?
(ANDY lifts RITA easily. RITA giggles. The room is lit by two bedside lamps, traffic noise can be heard through an open window. As they cross the room to the bed, ANDY pauses to look at the extensive collection of makeup bottles SL and after a few more steps, the trail of abandoned clothes in front of the door to the bathroom SR. The bathroom door is ajar, with the light on. RITA emerges from the bathroom and throws herself onto the bed USC, RITA slips her shoes off.)
Andy: That was some party! This room is amazing, my friends will never believe me.
(ANDY sits beside RITA and begins kissing her neck.)
Rita: You won’t believe the day I’ve had. Gilda killed one man and I saved another.
Andy: (not really listening) That’s super.
Rita: Yes, she looked into his eyes and shot him six times, point blank.
Andy: Six times eh? What did he do to deserve that?
Rita: He let her down and threatened her. He wasn’t everything he promised.
(ANDY takes RITA’S hand, extends her arm and begins kissing at the shoulder, slowly moving along RITA’S arm)
Andy: I sure hope you don’t shoot me.
Rita: Are you going to let me down?
Andy: Not if that’s what’s gonna happen to me.
(RITA pulls her arm away, sighs, and falls back onto the bed.)
Andy: Who was the guy you saved?
Rita: Lester, my agent Lester Schwarz. He wanted to hurt me, but his heart gave out.
Andy: You should’ve left him to die.
Rita: I could feel her beside me, I could feel her anger. I feel so powerful when I am her, you know. I thought that only Gilda could save me, but I was wrong. Gilda needs saving as much as I do.
(ANDY looks at RITA with concern.)
Rita: Everyone wants Gilda, but I don’t want to be her anymore. Lester needed help, and I had to make a choice. I could have chosen to deal with him like Gilda, which is what he deserved, or do what Rita, a warm, good-hearted person would do.
Andy: So what did you do?
Rita: I called for an ambulance. His family is with him, he’s gonna make it.
Andy: You just got lucky, you were weak, you should have finished him off.
(RITA lifts ANDY’S face up to hers. ANDY tries to kiss RITA, RITA pulls away.)
Rita: Now you need to make a choice. Are you here for me or for her?
(ANDY looks down, puzzled.)
Andy: I don’t understand, you’re talking like you’re two people? What does it matter? Are you crazy?
(RITA gets up abruptly.)
Andy: What are you doing?
Rita: I am making a choice. I’m not letting anyone use me ever again. I want you to go.
(RITA points to the door SR. Andy stands up.)
Andy: You’re crazy. You don’t mean it.
(ANDY begins to advance slowly, arms outstretched.)
ANDY: C’mon honey, relax, I’m your friend.
(RITA looks around her for a weapon, picks up the bedside phone and lifts the receiver to her ear.)
Rita: (Staring at ANDY) yes, this is Rita Hayworth in room 503, there is an intruder in here, could you send a porter up and call the police please?
(ANDY walks to the door USC lashing out and knocking over some cosmetic jars and bottles as he passes. He opens the door goes through and slams it behind him. He runs through the audience to the back of the theatre. Rita, shaken and exhausted, sits on the corner of the bed, looking at the door.)