TO THE PASSER BY | Fiorella Ruas | Play

                                    To The Passer By


                                               a monologue

                                             by Fiorella Ruas




A homeless bi-gender street entertainer called JO-JOE does a cartwheel by a wall.


Falls. Lifts themselves up. Backs up. Bends down to pick up two juggling sticks. Throws


them up into the air. Catches once. Twice. Three times. Lets them clatter onto the ground.


Eases down into the splits. Slips. And ends up on their back.



Suddenly springs to their feet when they see a PASSER BY passing by (or member of the


audience). Chases up to him/her.





:         Would you listen to me? For a little while of your life?




:         I could tell you what mine has been like. And then you could


tell me about yours. And it would be difficult – at first. Hard to


understand. But……….



JO-JOE’s eyes follow the PASSER BY/AUDIENCE MEMBER as he/she walks





JO-JOE                  ( After THE PASSER-BY/AUDIENCE MEMBER)


:         Oh no. No. Not like that. It’s not over yet. You can’t


go. I’m not having it. Oh no. Not like this. You can’t


really think. That’s it. ‘Out of my life’ . Like I’m not worth


it. Like I don’t exist. Like I’m not alive. Not even a


punch in the face. Spit in the hair. 10p in the cap. I’m


here and it’s my life. And you are in my life. You are


part of my life. You can’t just walk away – pass ME by.


(Jo-Joe runs over to another PASSER BY/AUDIENCE MEMBER)


:         Do you want to ask me……..       questions? About my past?


What do you want to know? I don’t know where to start.


I don’t know what to say. How could I box myself in, package


myself up for you?


( A MOMENT. Jo-Joe thinks )


:          I wore ribbons in my hair. And played football. I hated my


mother. And I loved my mother. In my dreams I was a man.


But I dreamt of being a woman. I felt inferior to other children.


Other children felt inferior to me. I was more privileged than


some. I was less privileged than some. My home was so big


when I saw smaller. And so small when I saw bigger. I


suppose you could say that I was a pretty average sort of a


child if you were a pretty average sort of child yourself. But if


you weren’t a pretty average sort of child then I suppose you


could say that I wasn’t a pretty average sort of a child at all.



( Jo-Joe turns away from THE PASSER-BY/AUDIENCE MEMBER;


angry with frustration )


:          How could I make all this clearer? How could I clarify  my




( Shouting, Jo-Joe turns to THE PASSER-BY/AUDIENCE)


:          What do you want to know about my past?


( Drained )


:          How could I box myself in for you? Lick the sticky label on


my lid.


( Quickly, obsessively)


:          I hated my mother and I loved my mother. I wore ribbons in


my hair and played football. In my dreams I was a man but I


dreamt of being a woman. I felt inferior with other children,


other children felt inferior with me. I was poorer than some,


I was richer than some. Our home was so big when I saw


smaller and so small when I saw bigger. I suppose you could


say that I was a pretty average sort of a child if you weren’t a


pretty average sort of child yourself but if you were a pretty


average sort of child then I suppose you could say that I


wasn’t a pretty average sort of a child at all. How could I


make this all clearer. How could I clarify my position. What


sort of signs are you looking for? Have I been any help? Do


you get my position? Have I been judged ­ classified. Has it


made me one of a kind. Is it your kind? Am l one of you? Or


one of them?






JO-JOE                  :         You are going? So soon? Couldn’t you stop? For a


minute? I’m asking you nicely. I’m waiting my time. I’m giving


you a chance. I’m begging you to understand. To look into my


eyes. Look into my life and understand. Give me a chance


for a little taste of………..   human warmth.



JO-JOE suddenly goes to grab their cap, left by the wall behind and

hands it around the AUDIENCE.



JO-JOE                  :         Will you give some’…can you spare?…



JO-JOE suddenly jumps up on a bin, to tell a joke.



JO-JOE                  :         I was walking along the street the other night and this man


came up to me. And he said, I just killed a man and left him


for dead. I said, you did what? He said I did. I said, you


didn’t. He said I did and he showed me and he had. So


I said to this man, was he good or was he bad? And he said,


who? I said him. He said he. I said yes. I asked him, does it


make it right or wrong. He said what. I said to kill someone


bad. He said wrong or bad? I said bad but right. He said right


or good? I said what’s better good or right? He said what’s


worse bad or wrong?  I said I didn’t know and then I asked


him again.  I said……….



JO-JOE listens for sounds of laughter. Doesn’t hear any.



JO-JOE                  ( Shouting, to THE PASSER BY/AUDIENCE)


:          What makes you think you’re so special? What makes you


think you can look down on me? This is the problem, isn’t it.


This is the real problem with people like you.



JO-JOE jumps down and starts to move around the audience.



JO-JOE                  :         We are all part of it you know.  All in it.  You and me.


No need to look at me like that or rather not look at me at all.


We are all in it. You and me. We are. Yes. You and me. We.


You. And. Me. In the end. In the run of things. There will be


no colour. No belief.  Nothing to tell us apart. Together. You


and me. Ha. Ha. Ha.


( Jo-Joe shouts at the AUDIENCE)


:          What makes you think you’re so special? What makes you


think you can look down on me. This is the problem, isn’t it.


This is the real problem with people like you.



JO-JOE grabs a PASSER BY/AUDIENCE MEMBER. Holds him/her by the arms.





JO-JOE                  :         What are you so frightened of? What makes you so          afraid.


……………at  this moment? Precisely. Is it hidden, somewhere


about you, that I might desire to be what you are not and


what you will never be?



JO-JOE lets THE PASSER BY/AUDIENCE MEMBER free. And walks away.



JO-JOE                  ( Quietly, threatening)


:          Night justice comes quietly, in an empty street, with empty


footsteps, flashing lights and a stab in the back. Remember.




A PAUSE. Jo-Joe goes to pick up the juggling sticks. Turns to face the AUDIENCE



JO-JOE:         Sorry.


( Jo-Joe starts to juggle )


:          Is it all turning a bit unpleasant for you? A little too many guts


spilling out onto the ground? Not very attractive to see. Or


indeed pleasurable to experience. I’d rather watch. Couldn’t


we have a safety net please? Let’s not get all huffy and puffy


about this. I know I’m turning like a carton of smelly milk on a


hot summers day. But I’m doing my best……….


( Jo-Joe stops juggling. Bows )


:          not to expose myself too much to your wonder and majesty.


( Jo-Joe goes down on one knee )


:          I promise you. I will be good. And controlled.


( Jo-Joe goes to take the hand of AN AUDIENCE MEMBER)


:          Just for you. Forgive me, will you. Don’t take all this too

seriously to heart. Give me a space in there. Somewhere. A

little aberration, we should call it. We should all be allowed that,


shouldn’t we?


JO-JOE goes back to stand against the wall and starts to pull endless bright coloured handkerchiefs from out of their sleeve. JO-JOE pulls the last handkerchief out. And lets it drop onto the ground, exhausted.  A PAUSE.


JO-JOE        (to the AUDIENCE)


:         I cannot be what you want me to be. I have it all in me.


A balance unbalanced by bitterness. A sense of justice and a


selfish desire to belong. I have failed – time and time again.


I belong somewhere you do not belong. I see what you


cannot see. I laugh when you cry. And you cry when I laugh.

…………in your faces.I refuse you. Turn away. Shut the door in


your faceless faces. I smile in my heart because I am not like


you. You are everything I detest. You are……. nothing.


You………     do not exist. Why are you looking at me? What


have I done that is so bad?




:         Can’t you see it in your horrified eyes to show a bit of

comprehension, a bit of…………. solidarity?

What can I have done in your experience of this world that                                                        could horrify you so much?

This is a plea. For silence. In my life. This is a petition.


For some understanding and compassion. This is my last try,


my last attempt to get through to you, to allow me some say,


some part to play in your lives. I am lonely – you see – and


no-one will open the door to me, pass some unimportant,


easy words with me. I’m confused, you see – I’m not blaming


anyone In particular  – I’m blaming the whole petty lot of you –


I’m not getting bitter or angry about the matter of my life, my


livelihood, my survival, my well-being, myself – it’s just that


wherever I’m going, wherever you allow me to stray, however


deep you let me sink, however dirty you let me get, I’m taking


the nice lot of you with me, I’m not letting you out of my


sights. You see, I’ve been homing in on you, slowly, giving


you a little taste, a bite, I’ve been giving you small chances –


to take my word for it, reach out your hand – but when I smile,


you turn away. When I ask, you smile. When I talk, you suffer.


And when I suffer, you laugh.


But you see, I’m hope. And you’ve dismissed me. I’m


Innocence  – and you have ignored me. I’m purity – and you


have wasted me. I am unity ­and you have torn me apart.


You want to help me? Look at me when you talk to me


In the same way I look at you when I talk to you. Because


between you and me, there is the world on your side, and if I


can sustain your eyes and the eyes of the world on me and


you cannot sustain mine, then perhaps the world is of no help


to you and somewhere in yourself, you know it has cheated


you and lied.


What do you want? Please. Tell me. Is it me? Is there


something wrong with me?


I need to know. I need……you. To acknowledge. Me. For


once. In your life. I am no-one without your recognition.


I am – nobody. Please. Talk to me. Accept me.


Help…………me . Please. I need………help.  You

must…….help. Me. You must……..try. To find a way. To


help. Just…………  help.   Me. Please. A moment. Five minutes.


In your life. Helping me. Could you………….would it be………..


I was just wondering…………..


( He goes down on his knees )


:          Begging you. On my knees. For you…………..  to help me. At


your feet. So grateful. So relieved. Please…………



JO-JOE sinks their head into their hands.



JO-JOE                  :         Don’t you even want to know…………..  why? Why I need help


at all?





JO-JOE takes their hands away from their face.



JO-JOE                  :         You do?  You really do? Would you like a bit of …………….


Responsibility.  The social kind .  Er, compassion perhaps .


Wouldn’t go un-noticed.  Mixed with a bit of empathy, a dash


of fairness and we’re getting somewhere here.  Face me.


Face me.





JO-JOE                  :         You really do want to know.  Please don’t be offended if I find


it a little hard to believe. Maybe it is a dream.  Only a dream


and you are not really here – at all.  And I’m talking to myself


and now you must go and stop giving me false hope that


someone out there can hear me, see me, face me. Face me.


Face me.


( He shouts )


:          It’s my life too !



JO-JOE suddenly rushes up to the AUDIENCE, frigtened they are going to leave.


JO-JOE                  :         Oh but where are you going? We haven’t got to the best part


yet. I’ve been saving myself for the last. Anyway, you don’t


really want to go. Look, look I’ll try to do something to keep


you here but I’ll only make a fool of myself. But I don’t mind.


Look, I don’t mind.



JO-JOE goes to pick up the juggling sticks. Stands still.



JO-JOE                  :         Wouldn’t you like to see what’s going to happen to me?


( JO-JOE starts to juggle )


:          Will I be forgotten, blanked out, wiped away, without a


thought? Blown apart. Or will I take you apart first? But


these are questions I’d rather leave to yourself. I’m sure you’ll


make up your own mind – in your own unbalanced way.


( Jo-Joe stops juggling )


:          Tell me something. Just how unimportant am I in your life?


Where does your life begin and my life……….. end?


Photo by Valeriia Bilousova on Unsplash



Fiorella Ruas’ plays have been performed at the London National Theatre Studio, Birmingham Rep., Belgrade Theatre Coventry, Churchill Theatre Bromley, Assembly Rooms Edinburgh Festival and London Fringe. One of her plays was nominated for the George Devine Award.

She has also written for BBC TV, World Productions, Carnival Films as well as film cos in France and the UK. She is currently working on a thriller Nightcab with director Menhaj Huda and a road movie Finding Grace with award-winning US producer Elizabeth Fowler.

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