Kill Phil volume 2

Part two of a one-act play by Justin Ludwig

In case you missed Volume 1…

*Trixie* is a young, downtrodden employee of a Nike factory in Blumania. Her life suddenly changes when Todd and Sky, a pair of hip activist film-makers, bring her to America to be the subject of their documentary, “Girl, I’m Gonna Make You Sweat(shop).” Upon learning of Nike president Phil Knight’s identity, Trixie begins an epic quest to kill him – or at least his cruel business practices – by unionizing Nike factories.

As Volume 1 draws to a close, the great union leader Mai Pei moulds the young girl into a true kung fu master of labour rights before sending her off to meet her nemesis….

Kill Phil was first workshopped and staged at the Unversity of Regina Student Infringement Festival in Regina, Saskatchewan, in March 2006. Written and directed by Justin Ludwig, it starred Judy Wensel as Trixie, Justin Ludwig as Corporate America and Todd, Katie Bially as Sky, Dan Willows as Jimmy Hoffa and the CIA agent, Jaclyn Kilkenny as Secretary and Ms. Driver, Cam Wensel as Mai Pei, and John Bjerke as Phil.

Justin Ludwig is a film student at the University of Regina and co-founder of the Regina-based sketch comedy troupe Uberkill.

Volume 1 appeared in our September/October 2006 issue.

Scene 7: Cheeseburgers and documentaries at Burger King

Lights up on Trixie and Sky eating Burger King.

Sky: That sounds so intense. Did you get much footage?
Trixie: No, I wasn’t permitted.
Enter Todd, carrying Whopper, fuming.
Todd: Can you believe they put onions on my burger? I told them three times, no onions.
Sky: Did you even hear Trixie’s story?
Todd: Three times!
Trixie: I suggested McDonald’s.
Todd: Trixie, I have principles that I believe in. I would never eat at McDonald’s—they are the very symbol of everything I am fighting against.
Trixie: But Burger King…
Todd: Well, I still need to eat cheeseburgers. Anyway, I was talking to the kid behind the counter, telling him about our activist documentary.
Sky: You told him about the film? Todd, he’s one of them. He may go to his superiors, who may go to Johnny Law, who may go to the CIA. We’re sitting on a time bomb, Todd.
Todd: Don’t worry, this kid’s cool. I just told him about our quest to liberate oppressed workers, and he seemed fairly interested. Did you know those kids only get a 35 percent discount on food here?
Trixie: When do we find Phil?
Todd: Look, Trixie. In America, we don’t interrupt, okay? What was I even talking about? Oh yeah, so I said “no onions” three times.
Sky: Trixie’s right, Todd. We’ve got to focus.
Todd: Look, I’m the one getting out into the field, meeting with the people, setting up contacts.
Trixie: You don’t understand—I’ve just spent six weeks with Mai Pei. I know jargon, rhetoric, negotiating techniques. I know the law.
Todd: That’s great! Let’s set up a protest. I’ll call the riot squad; we’ll get some great footage!
Trixie: You’re not listening. I have the tools to kill Phil’s ruthless practice, to reshape outsourced labour, to end sweatshop conditions. I just need support.
Todd: Right… but if you end sweatshops, then what is our film supposed to be about?
Sky: It’s true. Urgh! I wish fair work environments made for more exciting activist documentaries.
Trixie: That’s not the point. I thought you cared about the worker.
Todd: We do, but how are people going to know about that if we can’t make a film about oppression and take credit for it?
Sky: Trixie’s right. It’s got to be bigger than just blasting sweatshops. Wait, I’ve got it. One girl’s fight against the system. We make it her story, Trixie is the star. We can help her family, and others like them.
Todd: Interesting. Not as broadly damning in scope as I had originally envisioned, but it may work.
Trixie: I just need your help. You need to take me to Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon.
Todd: We’ll do it, for the oppressed everywhere! Hear our call, brothers and sisters! We’re coming! And when we get there, we’re going to make a movie about you! And then the whole system will come crashing down!
Enter CIA agent.
Agent: Excuse me, Todd Barlowe? And are you Sky LaForge?
Todd & Sky: Yes…
Agent: Who’s the little matchbook peddler?
Todd: She’s the subject of our activist documentary.
Sky: Todd!
Agent: Into walkie-talkie. I’ve got the troublemakers. To the table. Unfortunately for you, your new buddy behind the counter turned snitch. He went to his superiors, who went to Johnny Law, who went to me, the CIA.
Trixie: How did you find us?
Agent: I’m the man. He tasers Todd, Sky and Trixie and they fall to the floor.
Blackout.

Scene 8: Science departments and a dystopic Marxist jungle

Trixie sits under a spotlight on a chair, her hands bound behind her. The CIA agent stalks about the stage.

Agent: You know about the food chain? I know your schools probably didn’t have the best science departments, but… Did you even go to school? No matter, everyone knows about the food chain. There are one-celled creatures, plants, rodents, birds and berries—all small links in the chain. Small but important links. Without them, the lions and tigers and elephants and rhinos would have nothing to eat. They would become weakened. The balance of power would be thrown off. The animal kingdom would be in disarray. The world as we know it would cease to exist. Every animal would be the same gray, scruffy weasel, all feeding off each other.
Well, I’ll be damned if I’m going to live in a dystopic Marxist jungle! The little guys are there to feed the big guys, the real animals, the beasts. It’s my job to keep it that way. I’m like a park ranger of the globalized economic ecosystem. And you, my lost little rodent, are getting too close to the lion’s den.
Trixie: Please, I am just a little girl from Blumania. All I want is justice.
Agent: Justice? Ha! At what cost? You’re willing to sacrifice the freedom and democracy of the world because of a grudge against a shoe? Who do you think you’re dealing with? That “evil” shoe generates almost as much revenue as Southern California’s hardcore porno industry. It’s multi-billion dollar industries like these that make America great!
Trixie: It’s not just the shoe, it’s the man behind the shoe. I am so hungry; my family is destitute, despondent, impecunious. The only book we own is a worn-out thesaurus! Why should Phil Knight be a billionaire several times over?
Agent: So you believe that he shouldn’t be allowed to earn money, turn a profit, make a fortune? Sorry sweetheart, but that’s the American dream. Turn nothing into something, a nickel into a buck. Get rich or die tryin’. No one forced you to work, and they paid you a wage, did they not?
The spotlight goes down and rises on Todd, also bound to a chair at stage right. “Stuck In The Middle With You” plays.
Todd: You can torture me all you want; I don’t know shit.
Agent: Torture you? That’s a good idea; I like that.
Todd: I don’t know anything! I just wanted to make a blockbuster activist documentary for the people!
Agent: Look kid, I don’t really care what you know, but I’m going to torture you anyway. It’s amusing to me, to torture a punk. You can scream all you want; I’ve heard it all before.
The agent has put duct tape over Todd’s mouth.
Agent: Want to see Nike’s profit margins from last year?
He pulls out a sheet of paper and Todd squirms. The agent smiles and dances to the song a bit.
Agent: Want to know about the factory in Taiwan that produces all your cheap videotapes?
He hops on Todd’s lap and whispers into his ear while Todd squirms and cries. The spotlight again goes down, and comes back up on Trixie.
Trixie: The factory does nothing for the community. It provides people just enough money to pay for food, but there’s no room for growth. If there were any justice, Phil Knight’s billions would be dumped from a moving plane across all of the exploited villages of the world.
Agent: That’s commie talk! I knew it. What are your connections to the Communist Party of America?
Trixie: What? None. I’m not even American.
Agent: You’re not with us? Then you’re against us. Who sent you? Who has brainwashed you?
Trixie: I’m not brainwashed.
Agent: Sure you’re not. Your pupils are like saucers.
Trixie: Yes, the lights are very bright.
Agent: What were you going to do when you found Phil Knight?
Trixie: Ask him questions, that’s all.
Agent: Bullshit. I want the facts. I can bury you alive with legal mumbo-jumbo. I can keep you here for twenty years without a trial, thank you Patriot Act. There’s no deceiving the intelligence of the United States of America.
The spotlight again goes down and comes up this time on Sky, who is totally cool and collected on her chair.
Sky: I just don’t think you understand, that’s all. I’ve already called my father.
Agent: Is that a threat?
Sky: No, I’m just saying. He’s a Senate Chair. Is it hot in here or is it just me?
She crosses her legs à la Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. The agent gulps and pulls on his collar.

Sky: You really should just let us go. For your sake.
Blackout.

Scene 9: Public relations

Lights up on Todd, Sky and Trixie standing on an empty stage.

Todd: I’m just saying I don’t think the handcuffs were really necessary.
Sky: What did you expect? It was the CIA.
Todd: Yeah, well, I’m just glad your dad was able to make the calls he did. Otherwise they may have made us spend the night there.
Trixie: The worst part was the naked cavity search.
Sky: Uh, what are you talking about?
Trixie: When they made us strip and they searched us with flashlights and gloves.
Todd and Sky look at each other, confused.
Trixie: You guys got the naked search too, right?
Todd: Of course we did, Trixie. Here, have a candied apple. Pulls candied apple out of his backpack and gives it to her.
Trixie: How much longer are we going to have to wait?
Sky: These PR people can be slippery. We’ve had to deal with a lot of them while shooting our activist documentary.
Enter Nike PR spokeswoman, Belle Driver. She wears an eye patch and is dressed conservatively.
Ms. Driver: Hi there. I’m Ms. Belle Driver, VP of Public Relations. What can I do for you?
Trixie: I need to see Phil Knight. I want to kill his business.
Driver: Right. Do you have an appointment?
Trixie: No.
Driver: See, Mr. Knight is a very busy man, so if you write a letter of request and mail it to our legal department, they will assess whether or not to set up an appointment.
Sky: Why can’t we see him right now?
Driver: As I said, Mr. Knight is a very busy man, as you can imagine. I’m sorry, is that a camera?
Todd: That’s right, pig! We’re shooting an activist documentary!
Trixie and Sky both hang their heads.
Driver: Oh, are you making a movie? Let me guess: this is the “storm the corporate office” shot? Cute. Where are the crippled Columbine high school students?
Sky: This is important, okay?
Driver: I’m sure it is, but I’m sorry, there are no cameras permitted in the office building. What is it that you’re really trying to prove?
Sky: We’re making a film about sweatshop labour.
Driver: Why make a movie? There are plenty of social justice committees that are in the field taking action against companies that do have cruel working conditions. We don’t.
Todd: We’re getting the message out there, to the people!
Driver: That’s sweet. But come on, how many people that actually do feed their children a steady diet of Big Macs and onion rings went and saw SuperSize Me, then went out and bought bags of spinach and butternut squash and flax seed?
Your movie will be seen by a small group of intellectuals and hippie-chic who will see it on a tiny screen, then for a few hours walk with their noses high and their hearts heavy. They’ll have really deep conversations, mourn the dying spirit of the world, and feel fantastic about how pure their own lives are. Then their lives go on and nothing changes. Of course, they may give you some awards, but that’s about it for real results.
Sky: So that means we’re just supposed to roll over? Art can still be a weapon; there’s still a message.
Todd: Yeah, Cheney, you snake! Them’s the moans of someone riding corporate dick!
Driver: Okay, well look, I’m sorry, but if you don’t turn the camera off, I’m going to have to have you escorted out of the building.
Todd: Ha! Your cronies in Blumania already tried the same thing. You pigs are all the same, trying to keep justice from the people. Well, I’ll tell you what I told them: you may take our lives, but you’ll never take our freedom!
He maces himself, and inadvertently sprays some on Ms. Driver.
Driver: Augh! My good eye! You dumb bastard! You rodent slime!
Sky: This is your chance, Trixie! Don’t look back.
Trixie: I’ll see you on the other side, Sky. Thank you so much.
Sky: Hurry!
Blackout.

Scene 10: The Five-Point Exploding Heart Unionization Plan

Lights up on Phil Knight sitting behind a desk, his feet up.

Phil: Ah, it is good to be Phil. He fans himself with money. What do you think, stomach? He lifts his shirt and mouths words with his belly. Oh yeah, it is good to be Phil’s belly. Feed me another soul with some blue cheese and caviar.
Intercom: It is the secretary’s voice. Mr. Knight? There is a young girl here to see you. She says she knows Mario Lanza.
Phil: That’s a rather peculiar introduction. Send her in.
Trixie enters, slowly, an intense look in her eyes.
Trixie: Phil?
Phil: That’s right babe. But you can call me Mr. Knight.
Trixie: I don’t think so. That would be a title of respect.
Phil: I’m sorry, do you have an appointment?
Trixie: No. I need to talk to you. I am one of your employees. I work in a factory in the small, fictional, Eastern European country of Blumania. I have been working since the age of nine, sometimes fourteen hours a day. I have had enough of the hours, the pennies a day, the humiliation.
Phil: Look, I assure you Nike is very concerned about sweatshop labour and is taking all necessary steps to eradicate the problem.
Trixie: What steps? I’ve been there for years, and have seen no improvement.
Phil: Steps. You know, investigations, action plans, pie graphs. How did you get through security?
Trixie: Bull. I want quality of life.
Phil: And what do you want me to do about it? We contract those factories out. It’s not my fault that small, fictional countries like yours don’t have labour laws or minimum wages. I’d love to pay you more, but I just don’t have to, and like the old saying goes, if you don’t have to help someone… you know….
Trixie: I don’t know. I also don’t understand how you can sleep at night knowing that so many people in the world are working for slave wages so that you can turn a huge profit.
Phil: Well, the huge profit helps. My mattress is a hand-sewn silken masterpiece, crafted in the Swiss Alps by a colony of nomadic dwarves…
Trixie: Enough! Did I think that a man like you could run a business like this? Of course. Did I think it would affect me, my family and my small fictional country the way it has? No.
Phil: Well kiddo, you thought wrong.
Trixie: You and I have unfinished business.
Phil: Baby, you ain’t kidding.
Rhythmically, in kung-fu chops, Trixie pulls sheets of paper from her jacket and presses them against Phil’s chest. He is stunned.
Phil: Mai Pei taught you the Five-Point Exploding Heart Unionization Plan?
Trixie: Of course he did. In it you will find legislation and the support of thousands. It is a complete overhaul of the company’s structure. All employees manufacturing anything bearing the Nike logo will be unionized from here on.
Phil slowly stands. The music swells. He takes five steps across the stage and falls to his knees, then to the ground.
_Blackout. _

Scene 11: A night at the Oscars

Over the speakers, a woman’s voice is heard.

Voice: And the Academy Award for Best Documentary long form goes to… “Girl, I’m Gonna Make You Sweat(Shop)”!
Lights up on Todd and Sky receiving the award.
Sky: Thank you so much. This means so much to us.
Todd: Wow. Who knew that two people with just a dream and a six-figure production deal with Miramax could reach so many people? This goes out to all the oppressed people of the world. Don’t worry, we’re coming to your bombed-out village soon, camcorders in tow!
Sky: We’d like to thank our new sponsors. Pulls out Starbucks cup and takes a sip.
Todd: Of course, none of this could have happened without the help of one very special person. One brave soul who took a chance and laid it all on the line…. Disney VP of Marketing and Distribution Roger Kaufman! Thank you for believing, Roger! And to all the other activist documentarians out there, work harder, because obviously something in your piece was lacking!
Sky: These are fictitious times, so let’s all keep it real!
Todd: I am gonna get so laid tonight!
Fade to black.
Fin.

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