The Exorcist

Richard Chamberlain in Exorcist

Richard Chamberlain in John Pielmeier’s adaptation of “The Exorcist.”

(A RUMBLE OF THUNDER. A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC FLICKERS ON ANDOFF AND ON AGAIN, as Regan enters. THE WIND HOWLS SOFTLY.)

REGAN: Hello? Is anyone there?

(Something flies out of a pile of junk – a Ouija board. She picks it up, kneels, puts the board on the floor and examines the planchette.)

REGAN: (to herself) What’s this for?

(Suddenly the planchette slams to the board and, with her fingers on top, begins to spell out a word: REGAN.)

REGAN: R-E-G-A-N. (delighted) That’s my name!

(A beat. THE WIND STOPS. She picks up the planchette again, examines it, then places it back on the board.)

REGAN: Do you have a name?

(The planchette moves to “Yes.” Regan’s thrilled.)

REGAN: “Yes.” What is it?

(The planchette quickly spells out “Captain Howdy.” She says some of the letters as they are spelled, then laughs.)

REGAN: “Captain Howdy”? That’s a funny name. How old are you? I just turned twelve.

(A beat. The planchette moves to four numbers.)

REGAN: No you’re not. No one can be that old.

(The planchette moves to “Y.”)

REGAN: Why? Because you’d be dead.

(THE LIGHT FLICKERS. She hears BREATHING. She looks around, suddenly nervous.)

REGAN: Is someone there?

(THE BREATHING STOPS.)

REGAN: I don’t like this game anymore.

(She puts the board aside and starts to rise, when a soft voice asks:)

DEMON: Would you like to play another game, Regan?

(She stiffens, looking around.)

DEMON: Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.

REGAN: Where are you?

(THE LIGHT FLICKERS…)

DEMON: I’m here. With you.

(…and she starts to leave.)

DEMON: Don’t go. Please. I’m lonely too.

(She stops, looks around.)

DEMON: I just want to play. A fun little game. I think you’ll like it. You’ll probably win.

REGAN: What kind of game?

DEMON: A game with a prize. Do you like prizes?

REGAN: Depends on the prize.

DEMON (chuckling): Clever girl. The prize is a wish. Whatever you wish will come true.

REGAN: Anything? Like – Dad calling to wish me happy birthday?

DEMON: He’ll call tomorrow. I promise. All you have to do is win.

(She relaxes a bit, steps back into the center of the room. Then:)

REGAN: What if I don’t win?

DEMON: Then I get a prize.

REGAN: What would you like?

(A beat.)

DEMON: I’d like to touch you.

(Silence. Then:)

REGAN: Is the game hard?

DEMON: No. You think of a number and if I don’t guess it in three, you win.

REGAN: Any number?

DEMON: Any number.

REGAN: Okay. I’ve got one.

DEMON: Is it – seven?

REGAN: No.

DEMON: Is it – twenty-three?

REGAN: No. You have one more guess.

DEMON: Is it – thirty-one thousand one hundred and five?

REGAN: How’d you know?!

DEMON: I’m a good guesser. May I touch you now? Close your eyes.

(THUNDER. THE LIGHT GOES OUT.)

DEMON: This won’t hurt, I promise.

(THUNDER ROARS. LIGHTNING. A FIGURE DRESSED HEAD-TO-TOE IN BLACK STANDS BEHIND HER.)

The Exorcist 7

Richard Chamberlain and Brooke Shields in John Pielmeier’s stage adaptation of “The Exorcist.”

THE STORY: 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.

THE BACKSTORY: 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. It is this revised version that opened in London, and later toured the U.K.

It has not yet been produced in the U.S. – stay tuned….