(As the house-lights dim quite slowly we become aware of the SOUND OF BREATHING, which grows louder as the house grows darker. Then, when the houselights are at half, THE BREATHING ABRUPTLY STOPS. Everything seems to freeze for a moment in silence, until WHAM! THE HOUSE SLAMS TO TOTAL BLACK AND A DEAFENING CRY IS HEARD)
(chilling, echoing in the darkness, which is total – even the Exit signs are <temporarily> shut off. Silence. Then a light flickers, strobe-like, illuminating a man <MERRIN> standing in a dark trench coat, carrying a briefcase, wearing a brimmed hat that completely shadows his face. Once it flickers – twice – while the Demon BREATHES HEAVILY, fighting for breath. Then darkness again, and silence, and then we hear a child’s voice ask)
REGAN: Who’s there?
(Another strobe flash and ten-year-old REGAN stands where Merrin was last seen. She is wearing a dark nightgown, so that her face and hands seem to float in space. She hears a voice that we, at first, do not hear.)
REGAN: Yes I can. Do you need help?
(The light flickers out – darkness again.)
REGAN: I can try. What’s your name?
(Strobe flash again. This time the light remains, too bright, illuminating her.)
REGAN: Almost ten. How old are you?
(A beat. She smiles.)
REGAN: No one can be that old.
(A beat. The light flickers.)
REGAN: Because you’d be dead.
REGAN: Everyone dies.
(The light on her flickers and goes out. A whisper is heard in the dark:)
DEMON: Would you like to play a game, Regan?
(The light flickers on again. A figure <DEMON> stands behind her. She does not seem to be aware that it is physically there. Its face drips blood.)
REGAN: What kind of game?
(His moving lips don’t quite match the words.)
DEMON: A game with a prize. Don’t you like prizes?
REGAN: Depends on the prize.
DEMON: Smart girl. The prize is a wish. Whatever you want will come true.
REGAN: (teasing) Anything? Like a life-size chocolate pony?
(The Demon smiles.)
REGAN: Or Dad coming home. Christmas every day.
DEMON: All you have to do is win.
REGAN: And if I don’t win?
DEMON: Then I get a prize.
REGAN: What would you like?
DEMON: I’d like to touch you.
An adaptation of the novel by William Peter Blatty, this is the story of a child possessed, a mother frantic to save her, a priest on the verge of losing his faith, and an anthropologist who, in a sense, brings salvation to all.
In February 2008, I got a call from a Hollywood producer who said that he and a partner had the rights to do a stage-adaptation of Blatty’s remarkable novel. He asked me if I was interested, and I responded with an enthusiastic yes. I made an appointment to go to a meeting with Mr. Blatty, but shortly before I was to leave the producer’s partner called me to say that the trip las off because they were unable to get the rights (which I was under the impression they had already secured.) I went anyway, presented my case to the warm and wonderful Bill Blatty, and was fortunate enough to gain his blessings. I mapped out an outline of sorts, pounded out a draft in a quick ten days, secured a producer who in turn found us a first production At the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The audiences responded quite enthusiastically (I’ve never heard a house so quiet and attentive) but the critics did not. I did a major re-write, refocussing the script entirely, and am in the process now of preparing a second production.