WHO GIVES A DAMN? is a two-act musical with seven scenes in each act. Sets include: a bare-bones studio apartment, a street scene, a high school classroom, a homeless encampment, a private home, a professional building and a courtroom.
There are four main characters, twelve minor characters and another dozen or so other roles... such as guests at a party, a bodyguard and a courtroom audience.
The music consists of eighteen songs and several dances. It is scored for acoustic guitar, harmonica, bass, keyboards, violin and drums.
The musical runs approximately 2 Ĺ hours, including one intermission.
WHO GIVES A DAMN? is the story of one manís journey through the labyrinth of modern society. It hypothesizes, through its protagonist and his experiences, that the modern world has gone beserk and the qualities that could make it worthwhile are being sacrificed to a frenetic, dysfunctional culture of passivity, greed and simplistic attempts to avoid its inevitable consequences. It is a story of people on the edge... trying to get an edge. The protagonist is a man yearning to love the world he inhabits but barely able to tolerate most of what he experiences most of the time. How he manages to avoid succumbing to the senselessness of his environment (and ultimately makes sense of himself) is the pivoting drama and ultimate resolution of his confrontation with defeat.
There is the suggestion of a modern Don Quixote here. The issues, however, are more momentous for the protagonist, for they concern the fate of the earth, itself. There are hints of an Ionescian theater of the absurd. But ultimately, WHO GIVES A DAMN? evokes a kind of moral battleground between the complacent adherents to the status quo and the idealism and resistance to that complacency that the protagonist embodies in his idiosyncratic decisions.
Fred (pointing to the harness and TV screen): This is the last straw! The final humiliation! Have you completely lost touch with the real world?
Tim (unflappingly): Perhaps I find the real world a bit of a bore. All the murder, mayhem, and monotony... it doesn't impress me.
Fred (fighting for position in the developing argument and referring to the TV monitor harnessed around Tim's neck): What do you think that is all about?
Tim: Frankly, it's about a whole lot. A hundred and fifty different stories at any given time. You see, I live in digital cyberspace. According to a recent study, we who so choose to distance ourselves from reality are found to be less... uh... anxious than those of you who insist on real time experience. Excuse me. [Tim is distracted by some event on his screen. He then proceeds to frenetically change channels. Sound and visuals of changing channels.] You know, the beauty of this harness here is that it allows me to take these options right into the heart of the real world and thereby avoid it completely!
Fred: You must be joking. Where are you off to with this ridiculous setup?
Tim: As I say... into the heart of the real world, my friend. I'm a teacher at High Hand High.
Fred: You're kidding. You're going into the pit of inner city hell -- High Hand High? They'll rip you to shreds, you and your pathetic portable experience.
Tim: Quite the contrary. Why so skeptical, anyway? Perhaps if you would give up on the real world yourself and see things as the TV show they have, in fact, become, you would find life less stressful and disappointing. [Tim is distracted again by some sports show.] Actually, my students respect this mobile setup. They are in awe of the fact that I've found a way out. To them, I'm some kind of evolved being, perhaps an alien who has taken this capricious, cruel world to the next level. They are content to simply watch me watch... with ne'er a discipline problem, mind you.
Fred (mouth open, gazing in disbelief): You don't say?
Tim: I do say... Listen:
[Tim goes into the tune: "High-Tech Guy"]