Hot Desk Extract: Hope to Die
As part of the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Amarachi Okorom worked on Hope to Die, a stage play that explores sistahood and what it means to protect your space.
Hope to Die is a murder mystery drama that takes place in a small town and it follows the lives of three locals whose lives are turned upside down when another woman enters the town along with her secrets. They have each gone through something traumatic and have used their friendship as a safe haven. To them, this new woman is a threat to their bond and they’re willing to take secrets to the grave, even about murder, if it means they won’t lose each other. Hope to Die interrogates how far people would go to protect their own, even if it’s illegal.
It’s a rainy and cold day. Everyone’s in their houses. Or you would think they’d be. Three young women stand in the rain, staring off into the distance. An annoying ticking sound of a clock can be heard. No one is saying a word. The clock strikes 12. The rain stops and it’s like nothing happened.
KENNY To understand what happened
LISA You must first take a look at where it all began
POLLY To this neighborhood nobody had ever heard about
KENNY The thing about secrets is
LISA Everybody eventually knows.
A fourth woman enters, JOANNA, dragging along a suitcase. They all turn to her. She doesn’t seem to notice them.
LISA looks over to fourth woman’s house
LISA She got here at 12.05 in the morning
JOANNA is unpacking her bags. Her phone rings
No no, you listen –
How can you say that?
Look, I don’t want to fight you…I just
No, it’s not for you –
You’re so full of yourself
Oh so now I’m the –
It’s not fair
She hangs up
JOANNA You live in a nice house
You have some place you truly call home
But what do women like me get?
A pat on the back
A look of sympathy
You’re so strong
It must have been so hard
And I smile
Because if I don’t, they’ll know I’m not strong
Why do I have to be strong?
Why do I have to be the strong woman who took it all and kept going?
While you get to sleep on your silk sheets
With your breakfast laid perfectly on your bed
And your lunch packed and ready right before you leave the house
I see you
Hiding behind the lies
Hiding behind the perfect life you carefully created to keep me out
I see you
JOANNA sits for a while and goes back to packing shortly after.
POLLY, KENNY and LISA all stand and stare at JOANNA’s HOUSE and watch as her body is being taken away.
When someone dies, your body forgets how to move through space and time. Everything seems to be moving in irregular speeds. When someone who was once here, no longer has breath escaping from their lungs. Your mind replays each and every encounter that led to this moment. You mourn the memories that were taken for granted.
You never truly know how much time you have with someone.
Unless it was calculated.
Every single encounter that led to this moment.
POLLY, KENNY and LISA stare at each other.
And it’s like they know.
KENNY, POLLY and LISA stand side by side. A spotlight goes up on KENNY. She takes her space.
KENNY To understand what truly happened. You must first look at where it all began.
One woman stumbles into a small town – or that’s what we thought.
Why had she chosen this specific town at that specific time?
Lisa remembered it
Lisa mentioned it.
It’s like she knew that someone would notice. Would take note of her.
Joanna walked into our town and changed our lives with her secrets that were too heavy for her to shoulder.
I didn’t kill her.
But I wish I did.
The spotlight is now on LISA.
LISA Where it all began
Or was it earlier than that?
Was it when my sister died?
When my parents kicked me out with nothing?
When I couldn’t afford anything other than a place in this town?
Joanna knew why she came here.
She understood how we functioned
Blended in to our dysfunctional lives
Tried to fix it
I think that’s why we trusted her
Because she had solutions
But that’s the thing about secrets
They eventually come out.
See, I’d never kill anybody – kill her
But I understand why it happened.
POLLY is now in a spotlight.
POLLY One day.
All it takes is one day.
I always knew my husband wasn’t the best man
I never gave him children
But he never gave me a reason to
I’m not a murderer
But if you were in my shoes
You’d know why I did it.
The spotlight stays on all three women
KENNY We know why she did it
LISA We would too if it had happened to us
KENNY So, we’ll take this secret to the grave
LISA Cross our Hearts
POLLY steps forward.
ALL Hope to die.
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