Nevada Johnson And The Meaning Of Life is a play about a young man exploring an ancient temple rumored to contain the “meaning of life”. When explorer Nevada Johnson enters the lower chamber of the temple and discovers La Puerta Peligrosa, the fabled “Dangerous Door”, he’s hoping for riches beyond his wildest dreams, or Kim Kardashian. Instead, he’ll meet someone important from his past who will help him to remember what his version of happiness truly means. This hilarious adventure for teens reminds us that the “meaning of life” is not the same for every individual.
Evan Baughfman is a middle school English teacher who has had various written works published and/or performed. Many of his plays have been produced across the United States. His children’s play, “R.O.M.3.O. and Julia” (Romeo and Juliet with robots) has been published in PLAYS Magazine. His play for young adults, “Lipstick and Heroics,” is available through YouthPLAYS. In addition, his middle grade play, “Percy Pangolin Wants to Go Viral,” is published by Heuer Publishing. Heuer’s also published Evan’s play, “A Taste of Amontillado” (an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”). Additionally, Evan has penned a collection of 13 short scary stories titled Twisted Tales from Edgar Allan Poe Middle School. Evan adapted a number of his Twisted Tales into short film screenplays, of which The Emaciated Man won Best Overall Short Script at the International Horror Hotel Film Festival and The Tell-Tale Art was a finalist in the Short Horror category at Shriekfest L.A. More about Evan’s writing can be found at www.evanbaughfman.com
Excerpt from the play:
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Nevada Johnson: Adventurous explorer, in the vein of Indiana Jones; in search of the Meaning of Life
Mrs. Sachs: Librarian from Nevada’s middle school days; what the heck is she doing in this temple? (Read on and find out!)
The dark, lower chamber of a booby-trapped ancient temple; time of day unspecified
(We are in the lower chamber of an ancient temple. It is dark and dank, with shadowy corners covered in cobwebs. Sunlight has never entered this room. A mysterious door is evident in one wall.)
(Suddenly, a faint beam of light shines from an entrance into the chamber. Slowly, carefully, a figure holding a flashlight enters the chamber. It is a beat-up man in sweat-stained khakis and a filthy fedora. This is NEVADA JOHNSON, and he is an obvious rip-off of Indiana Jones. On Nevada’s belt are various items, including a whip and a knife. Nevada wears a semi-trendy satchel over one shoulder.)
Worms. There had better not be any more worms in this temple. I hate worms. Eek! So gross!
(As Nevada enters the chamber, he shines the flashlight around the room.)
No more booby traps, either. No bone-crushing boulders. No arrows firing out of the walls. No decapitating blades swiftly descending from the ceiling. I am so tired of all that kind of stuff…
(The light locks on the door in the wall.)
La Puerta Peligrosa. The Dangerous Door. All my life’s work as an eavesdropping custodian in the university’s History department has led me here, to this moment!
(Nevada takes a couple steps toward the door.)
But the door doesn’t look that dangerous. Maybe—just maybe—what makes it dangerous is what lies behind it…The Meaning of Life!
(Nevada slowly approaches the door. He reaches into a pants pocket, reaching for something. Whatever it is isn’t there. He searches his other pockets. Nothing.)
This isn’t happening right now!
(He looks inside his satchel. Nope. Not in there, either.)
Really, Nevada? Really? The key?
(He takes a step back from the door, studying it. He runs his hands over the door, searching for a secret latch of some kind. When he can’t find one, he sighs, defeated. Then, we can practically see the light bulb turning on inside his head. He simply raps upon the door with a classic KNOCK.)
By any chance, is anyone in there?
(Suddenly, there is a KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK coming from the other side of the door.)
Wow. That worked? Meaning of Life? Is that you?
(Nevada knocks back.)
I didn’t know a trillion dollars could knock like that. But I suppose a gorgeous supermodel could…Hello? Model with a body like a goddess?
(The door slowly creaks open. Nevada’s jaw drops in awe to see that…nothing is there except shadows…? Nevada shines the flashlight into the darkness beyond the door.)
I have to warn you that I’m armed with the knife Cain used to slay Abel! The very same weapon Brutus used to stab Julius Caesar! I’m not afraid to use it!
(Nevada reaches the doorway. He shines the flashlight into the room beyond the doorway, craning his neck through the door.)
I also have a whip I found at a garage sale! I’ve never really used it before, but I can guarantee that one of us will be hurt if I have to whip it out! Get it? “Whip” it out?
(Nevada steps through the doorway, squinting into the room beyond.)
Man, it’s dark in here. And quiet. A little too quiet…
(Nevada walks into the darkness, disappearing completely into the other room. There is nothing on-stage but silence and an open doorway…That is, UNTIL a few seconds later when there is screaming from beyond the doorway.)
(Nevada sprints into view in the doorway, no longer holding the flashlight. He looks behind him, terrified.)
The flashlight, too? No!
(Nevada heads out through the doorway in such a rush that he barrels into the side of it with his shoulder. His body twists, and he trips over his own feet. He falls to the ground HARD.)
(On his back now, Nevada faces the doorway. He begins to scoot away from it. A look of pure terror is on his face. WHAT TERRIBLE THING WILL COME THROUGH THE DANGEROUS DOOR?)
Stay away! I didn’t mean to disrupt your slumber! I’m sorry!