The Juggler's Act by William Parsons | Script Revolution

The Juggler's Act

A teenager who plays everything safe battles his desire to sing and dance while he struggles to accept his force-of-nature grandfather’s laser-focused expectation his grandson will become the third generation to run the family business.



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It's Los Angeles, in the early 1970's, and the time when a young Italian man was the legacy of his family. A time when a young man was destined to step into his father's and his grandfather's shoes. A time when a young man was not encouraged to chase his dreams of being the next Hollywood or Broadway singing and dancing sensation and of being in love with someone of the same sex.

Mike Demetriano is that 16-year-old third-generation Italian young man, and he has a lot on his plate.

His quirky, Latin-quoting best friend Kait knocks him upside his head (literally) and tells Mike to follow his dreams. His boyfriend is carrying as many secrets as Mike is, and not just about also being gay. A dance instructor tells Mike he's the most naturally-gifted dancer she's ever met, and she offers to teach him for free.

Mike just wants everyone off his case. He just wants to be the good little Demetriano and do what his beaten-down father and his tyrannical grandfather expect him to do. And Mike knows it's the right thing to do, because he learned very early on, when he was five years old: if you don't play things safe, you don't keep your head down and your nose clean, then this life eats you alive and spits you out.

Then at Kait's Sweet Sixteen party she demands Mike's gift to her be that he sing and dance her off her feet. Mike fights her, but his best friend knows she's the one person Mike can never deny. Mike gives Kait her gift, and it just So right. So...him. So perfect.

No! The family business -- the one that supports all of them, lets them live the incredible life they do as Hollywood elite -- needs a third-generation Demetriano at the helm, and that's him. That's what's expected of him. That's his security. That's playing it safe. Every time Mike turns off the light, every time he shuts his eyes, he's that alone, terrified, abandoned five-year-old all over again in that dark alleyway in that foreign city.

Then there's that night that everything falls apart. Mike's right back where he's always right back to when he runs away from his problems: that dingy, garbage-strewn, flickering-streetlamp courtyard outside that instructor's dance studio. His feet, his whole body, his very soul, take on a life of their own, and he starts to dance. And right there, for everyone to witness, most especially his father and grandfather, Mike dances like he's never danced before, enough to open the gates of Heaven itself. In the ecstatic agony of the moment, he grabs his boyfriend, and these two young men, each a lost soul, make it very clear, in front of everyone, how they feel about each other.

What choice does Mike make, this Italian young man, the pride of his family and their hope for the future? Play it safe for the rest of his life? Or risk everything and reach for the stars?

Submitted: January 21, 2019
Last Updated: March 12, 2021

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William Parsons's picture

The Writer: William Parsons

"Do not fear death; fear the unlived life." Ever since I read that advice given by Pa Tuck in Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting, I have thought of that as my rallying call. I do not want to come to the end of my days (at 49 years old, still—so I hope—a ways off) and look back and realize to my horror, "Wow, what a waste!" A product of a bad childhood, I have stumbled through my adulthood, always though managing to keep on the path of my own happiness. The one constant through all of it has been my writing, which has lived in symbiosis with my meandering that path. My writing has served as my journal of that journey, and my journey has provided me the well of emotions and experiences to... Go to bio

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