BRIGHT BLUE SET of SPORTS MANIA television sports show. Newscasters CHET and ERNESTO sit behind a bright blue DESK tapping their PAPERS and chatting as the Sports Mania’s THEME MUSIC plays.
(ESTABLISHING SHOT of Ernesto and Chet sitting behind a bright blue desk of bright blue Sports Mania set.)
Chet: (Deep in conversation with Ernesto)…so then I sez to the produce guy, I sez to him—
(CUT TO: MEDIUM SHOT of Ernesto and Chet.)
Ernesto: What’d you say to him? Jeeeezuuuu— (Startled. Realizes show just started.)-ssssszzz. (Clears throat.) Hello! And welcome to Sports Mania’s St. Patrick’s Day post-game wrap-up. It was an exciting St. Patrick’s Day this year wasn’t it, Chet?
Chet: (Professional smile) It sure was, Ernesto! We had wins and losses all over the map! From Omsk, Russia to Lowell, Massachusetts, Irish Stepdancers and local revellers went head to head!
Ernesto: (Professional laugh.) They sure did, Chet! But there was one memorable moment from yesterday, wasn’t there? Let’s go to our interview with Niamh Ni Dálaigh, Irish stepdancer. (Trim dark-haired young woman comes up on a built in screen behind the Sports Mania desk. Ernesto and Chet turn to face screen) Niamh, how are you this morning?
Niamh Ni Dálaigh: (Sounds tired and hoarse.) I’m fine, Ernesto—just fine, all things considered.
(CUT TO: CLOSE-UP. Ernesto and Chet share a SPLIT SCREEN with NIAMH NI DÁLAIGH.)
Ernesto: (Serious face.) Now, Niamh, I’d like to show the footage from your midnight St. Patrick’s Day performance at the Wise Rhino last night. Sports fans, let me set up this clip for you. The Wise Rhino is a pub infamous for packing in the St. Patrick’s Day crowds and skimping on stage space. Niamh, how big was the stage where you danced your final show last night?
Niamh: Two feet by two feet, plus two feet high. (Pause.) And I had to share it with the band and five other dancers.
Chet: Well, that is one small stage, Niamh!
(Niamh laughs uncomfortably.)
Ernesto: (Cutting off Chet.) If you’re tuning into the broadcast just now, Irish Dancer Niamh Ni Dálaigh from Reno, Nevada is talking about last night’s performance.
Chet: Let’s run that tape.
(Footage shows Niamh dancing in place on a two-foot high stage. Amateur drunks are standing in front of the stage bobbing and weaving and shouting. The traditional Irish band sits behind her—they’re nearly sitting in each other’s laps.)
Chet: Now, watch carefully as this guy over here— (Circles a drunk guy in front and to the left of Niamh with a green screen pen.) —starts to reach out to touch Niamh’s dancing costume right here. (Chet draws wobbly green screen arrow to Niamh’s dress.)
(Footage continues. Drunk guy starts to grab the skirt of Niamh’s $1500 performance dress. Niamh executes a quick turn, yanking the dress out of his hand, but the turn sends her sprawling into the band right behind her. )
Chet: (Excitedly.) Right there— (Draws six green screen arrows on the footage.)
Ernesto: (Slaps pen out of Chet’s hand.) Shhhh!
(Niamh, still on the split screen, covers her eyes with one hand.)
(Footage: A random drunk hand goes over the lens of the camera, but viewers can hear a SQUEAK and a YELP and the WHINE-POP-PING of several squashed INSTRUMENTS.)
Chet: (Excitedly.) Wow, I’ve never seen—
(Niamh, still on the split screen, covers her entire face with her hands.)
(Footage: Normal filming resumes. A stunned Niamh sits sprawl-legged on stage surrounded by pieces of mandolin. Three of the four musicians are wearing the remains of a smashed hammer dulcimer. The fourth, a CONCERTINA PLAYER, has the bellows of his instrument wrapped around his neck, which he’s clawing to remove. The dulcimer player is weeping loudly. His tweed vest is in ribbons. )
Chet: Can I—(Waits to be shushed again, by Ernesto. Ernesto nods.)—talk now? (A beat.) So, Niamh, what was going through your mind when you executed that turn?
Niamh: Well, not much of anything, Chet. That was my 40th performance in three cities in five days—
Ernesto: (Looking at camera.) —the standard lead-up to St. Patrick’s Day, right?
Niamh: Yes. Yes, it is. (A pause.) —but, like I said, like every year, I’d been doing these performances since the first of March, really, and by last night, I didn’t even know my own name. Ernesto, I was so tired that I put on one soft shoe and one hard shoe at the beginning of that performance, and I would have gone on stage like that had another dancer not stopped me.
Chet: Wow, that IS tired, Niamh!
Niamh: (Nods.) Yeah. So, if I was thinking anything, I don’t remember it. But I remember what happened after the drunk guy grabbed the skirt part of my solo costume. I fell into the band, Chet. And all you could hear around me in the blur of the moment was Pop! Twaaaa-aaaang! Blawwp!
Niamh: (Continues.) I was smacked in the shoulder with that concertina—that thing should always be holstered when not in use—and somehow I sat on Jim’s mandolin. (Covers eyes.) All those smashed instruments and crying men. I’m never going to get that sound out of my ears, Chet. Never.
Ernesto: We’ve only got another minute here, Niamh. What I want to know is, what happened to the original drunk guy who grabbed your dress?
Niamh: Well… (Hand covers her mouth.) He started laughing.
Chet: Wow! What did you do?
Niamh: At first I was too stunned from the accident, but then I saw him doubled over, and like I said, he was laughing at us.
Ernesto and Chet: (Spellbound.) Yes?
Niamh: So I, uh, got up from the stage floor. (A final pause.) And then I walked over and punched him in the nose.
Ernesto: Whoa! That’s a serious party foul! How many Feiseanna do you have to sit out for this penalty?
Niamh: (Genuine smile.) Six. My Claddagh ring broke off in the drunk guy’s left nostril, and he smashed his face with his own beer bottle trying to pull it out. So, I’m out for one dance competition per stitch.
Chet: (Mouth open.) How much of your Claddagh ring ended up in his nose?
Niamh: The heart, the hands, and the entire crown broke off inside his nose, Chet. It was bad. It was really bad.
Ernesto: If you had to do last night all over again, would you have done anything differently?
(Niamh hesitates, then—)
Niamh: Yeah. (A beat.) I would have worn a bigger ring.
(Sports Mania theme music plays.)
Chet: Folks at home, we’ll see you after the commercial break. We’d like to thank our guest, Niamh Ni Dálaigh, who had to wake up before noon on the day after St. Patrick’s Day to be with us!
( Niamh waves a bleary hand at the camera. The split screen dissolves.)
(MEDIUM SHOT of Ernesto and Chet behind Sports Mania desk.)
Ernesto: (Continuing on.) After the break, we’re going to talk to a an eight-hand Irish figures team who got into a fight with half of the metropolitan symphony in Poughkeepsee, New York! This is Ernesto—
Chet: —and Chet. Live, with our day after St. Patrick’s Day wrap up on—
Ernesto and Chet: Sports Mania!
(Theme music swells.)
Niamh Ni Dálaigh NEEV NEH DOHL-lee
(Irish name. “Ni” replaces “O’” in feminine names.)
(Irish Stepdancing competitions.)