(A RUMBLE OF THUNDER. A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC FLICKERS ON AND OFF 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?
DEMON: I’d like to touch you.
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?
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.)
Richard Chamberlain in John Pielmeier’s adaptation of “The Exorcist.”
Richard Chamberlain and Brooke Shields in John Pielmeier’s stage adaptation of “The Exorcist.”
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 was 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 . . . .