Read the script
Asthma: The Soap Opera
Angela: I’m sorry…my love. I can’t. My father said no.
Mario: Think of yourself. Think of us. Our love.
Angela: I will think of you always. I love you. But our love can never be.
Mario: Please don’t do this to me. First, my wife died in a car crash. Then, our baby son got sick. And now, losing you. It’s too much for me.
Angela: I have no choice. I want to stay, but I cannot.
Mario: When you leave, you are taking my heart. How can I live without you?
Angela: I will love you always. Never forget me!
(Angela leaves. Mario is crying. The doorbell rings.)
Director: Cut! Cut! Cut!
Director: The doorbell was ringing. You have to answer it.
Mario: How can I answer the door? My life will never be the same.
Director: Exactly. So the doorbell rings, and you answer it. Why are you over here crying by the baby?
Mario: Because … The baby has asthma. He can’t breathe!
Director: Didn’t you read the script? The story is about you and your lost love. Not the baby. Forget about the baby.
Mario: Didn’t I read the script? Didn’t you read the script? The script says, the baby has asthma. How can I forget about my baby son? My little boy needs my help. He needs me.
Director: It’s just asthma. It’s no big deal.
Mario: What do you mean no big deal? I don’t think you know enough about asthma.
Director: Me? I don’t think you know about asthma. Just read your lines, what’s written on the paper.
Mario: Well, I can’t do this if I don’t know about asthma.
Director: The story has nothing to do with asthma. It’s a love story.
Mario: A love story. About a father and a son, and the son can’t breathe!
Director: Okay. Okay! We’ll get you help. I’ll call experts, some people who know about asthma. Are you happy? Okay! Everyone, that’s enough for today. Tomorrow, we’ll try this again.
Mario: These are the experts?
Director: Yes! They know all about asthma. So, you all have asthma. You don’t look so bad to me. You look pretty healthy. Right?
Man: Of course I’m healthy.
Girl: I have a totally normal life.
Mario: But if you can’t breathe, how can you be healthy? It must feel terrible when you can’t breathe.
Boy: When it gets bad, it feels like a big elephant is sitting on me.
Director: But you don’t feel like that every day, do you?
Boy: No, not every day, but when it happens, it’s scary.
Girl: For me, it’s like trying to breathe through a straw.
Man: But having asthma doesn’t mean you are sick all of the time. I’ve had asthma for many years. Sometimes it gets bad. But most of the time, it’s okay.
Girl: Most of the time, I feel fine.
Boy: Yeah. I play basketball every day after school.
Director: Okay then. It’s time to get back to work.
Director: Let’s go back to the girlfriend leaving.
Camera Person: Scene 1, take 13
Director: And, action!
Angela: I have no choice. I want to stay. But I can’t.
Mario: When you leave, you are taking my heart. How can I live without you?
Angela: I will love you. Always. Never forget me.
(Mario is crying. The doorbell rings. Mario answers the door.)
María: I heard your girlfriend left you. You know, I have never stopped loving you. I am here for you. Let me take care of you.
Mario: No, María! I can’t!
María: Yes! Yes, you can!
Mario: No! I must, I must, I must take my baby to the doctor! I am his father.
Director: Cut! Cut! Mario, what are you doing? There is no doctor here.
Mario: I know, but I put it in. It’s important. You heard the experts. Asthma is serious.
Director: It is not about asthma.
Mario: Yes, it is.
Director: No, it is not!
Mario: Yes, it is.
Director: Somebody, get the experts back here!
Mario: If you have asthma, don’t you have to go to the doctor?
Girl: Yes. Not just when you feel sick.
Director: But, Mario … In the story, you’re poor. You can’t afford to go to the doctor. It’s impossible.
Man: Not in New York. Everyone can get health care in New York City. Rich and poor.
Girl: That’s right. If you call 311, you can get health insurance for your child.
Boy: And there are special clinics just for kids, too.
Director: You don’t need a green card?
Girl: Nope. Everybody has a right to health care. In New York, you don’t need to have papers to see a doctor.
Mario: So you don’t have to have a lot of money to get good health care. It’s your right, right?
Director: Okay, okay everyone. We’re going to take a break. I have a little work to do. We’ll start again in half an hour.
Mario: Mario is taking his son to the doctor.
Mario: María, thank you for bringing me here. How can I ever repay you? What can I do? Doctor, is it serious?
Doctor: (looking at María) It may be.
Mario: Doctor, excuse me?
Doctor: I mean, I hope your son feels better. But you and your …
Doctor: Friend? Well, you must take care of your son. And everything will be fine.
Nurse: Doctor… Don’t you have to tell them about the medicine?
Doctor: The medicine?
Nurse: The medicine.
Doctor: Of course. You must give your son medicine every day to control the asthma. Here. Take these. For your son.
Nurse: And he will have to make a plan to manage his son’s asthma.
Doctor: Yes. We must make a plan.
María: A plan?
Nurse: Yes, a plan, for Mario to manage his son’s asthma.
Director: Cut! Mario! That was great. Are you happy now?
Mario: Well, I don’t know. I’m a little confused.
Director: Confused? It’s simple. The doctor fell in love with María. And the nurse …
Mario: No, no, no. I don’t understand what “manage” means. The nurse said I have to manage my baby’s asthma? What does that mean?
Director: Oh no, not again. Okay, experts. Where are the experts?
Man: Yeah, manage. There are things you must do to help your son control his asthma.
Girl: Even when your son feels good, he needs medicine. He needs to take it every day.
Boy: The doctor gave you two of these pumps, remember? They are called inhalers.
Man: I have two different kinds of medicine in these pumps. This medicine, I take every day. Even when I feel good. This other medicine, I take as soon as I start to have problems breathing.
Girl: I use this one when my asthma acts up. And this one every day.
Director: Acts up?
Boy: You know. If I start to feel like I can’t breathe, I use this pump. Right away. And I always use my spacer, so the medicine gets right into my lungs. See, like this.
Girl: I never leave home without my inhaler.
Man: I never leave home without mine, either. You never know when you might need it.
Director: Great. Got it, Mario? Let’s get back to work.
Girl: Wait. Not yet. That’s just the medicine. There’s more you need to know.
Man: That’s right. There are many triggers that can make your asthma get worse. You need to get rid of them.
Man: Yeah. Doctors call them triggers. For me, it’s anything with dust. I need to clean the apartment all the time.
Mario: No dust. Got it. What else?
Girl: My asthma used to get worse at night. I found out that it was because of my pillow. I had to get rid of my favorite pillow. And, my parents had to buy me a new blanket, too.
Man: My wife had to quit smoking. I tried to get her to stop for many years. When she learned that her smoking made my asthma worse, she finally did it. She quit. Now, I can breathe. And so can she.
Mario: What about you? What did you have to give up?
Boy: I used to have a cat. But then, I had to say goodbye to her. I had no choice. The cat made my asthma worse.
Mario: Oh, I’m sorry.
Boy: I feel much better now.
Mario: Wow. I didn’t know there were so many things, so many triggers, that make asthma worse. We have to find out what makes my son’s asthma worse.
Director: Okay, great! Let’s get back to work.
Girl: Wait! One more thing. Cockroaches. Those little brown bugs. They make asthma worse.
Mario: Roaches? You’re kidding.
Man: Yeah, roaches. You’ve got to get rid of them completely. But…Don’t use a spray to get rid of them. That could make your son’s asthma act up.
Mario: Roaches. We have to put that in the story.
Director: Mario, this is a love story. Can we get back to work now?
Mario: Mario’s house must be cleaned.
Mario: This doesn’t fit. Can we get another one?
Director: Just clean the house, Mario. Action!
María: What about the bedroom? To clean. To get rid of the dust in there.
Mario: Yes, yes. Of course.
Director: Cut! Cut! What are you doing with that?
Mario: You heard the experts. Smoking is terrible for asthma.
Director: There is no smoking in this story. No one smokes a single cigarette!
Mario: But, what if my friends come over? They need to know.
Director: What friends? Okay, okay. Put up your sign. Let’s get back to work.
Mario: Angela. You’re back. Is it really you?
Angela: Yes, it is. It is me. My love.
María: Mario, what about the pillows?
Mario: Angela! It’s not what you think, Angela.
(The doorbell rings and the doctor enters.)
María: Mario’s son has asthma.
Mario: You came all the way here to see my son?
(The doctor and María leave together.)
Mario: (to Angela) Are you back?
Angela: Yes, I’m back. I’m yours. I’ll be with you. Forever.
Mario: But, what about your family? What about your father?
Angela: I told him how you take care of your son. He knows that you are a good man.
Mario: You mean, he will let us …
Angela: Yes. Our dream will finally come true. We can be together…at last.
Angela: Forever and ever.
(Music plays. Mario and Angela kiss. Fireworks go off. The director takes off her headphones and declares…)
Director: Okay, great. We’re finished. That was beautiful.
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