Kira Schukar ’22Portrait of Asher de Forest

This month, the editors at The Words are celebrating the work of Asher de Forest ’21. Asher is an English major on the Creative Writing track, and he is well on his way to completing his second major in Theater and Dance. His interest in playwriting sprung up during his sophomore year when he took Playwriting and Textual Analysis with Professor Alayna Jacqueline. After graduation next spring, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in playwriting and intends to write and perform professionally.

As for Asher’s plans away from the pen and paper? “Making art with other people. Loving all my friends. Those are the hopes and dreams.”

The following excerpt comes from The Virgin Tony, one of three short plays Asher wrote earlier this year. All three plays allude to Christian mythology and were influenced by Milton’s Paradise Lost, which Asher read in Professor Penelope Geng’s Demonology course this past spring.

Please enjoy this excerpt of Asher’s play.

From Asher de Forest ’21

I wrote my short play The Virgin Tony in March, 2020 as part of the Quarantine Bake-Off, a playwriting project started by four University of Minnesota students. Told in monologues and phone calls, the play takes place in New York, a year or so into a worldwide pandemic.

The Virgin Tony (excerpt)

Lights fade on the stadium and come up on another part of the stage. Dull fluorescents. A grocery store, ravaged. The shelves are empty. There are stains on the walls and spills on the floor. MARIA enters, mopping the floor, sardonically humming “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. She stops mopping and looks up. She has a New York accent, with vaguely Eastern European shadings.


The baby’s Tony’s. None of us could believe it when we heard. I think we always thought he was… one of those little bird boys, you understand my meaning? Tony never really showed an interest in girls. But suddenly, my friends are calling me up in the middle of the night. “Good fortune has blessed you! You’re a grandmother!” And I think to myself, Tony? My son, my only child, Tony?


Who’s fucking Tony?

She extends her hand. Waits for the audience to reciprocate.

MARIA (cont.)

Oh, please. Here…

MARIA reaches into her apron and pulls out a bottle of hand sanitizer, which she applies to her hands as she quietly sings “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to herself.

MARIA (cont.)

Are you happy now?

She mimes a strong handshake.

MARIA (cont.)

I’m Maria.

Anyways, I was thinking, “Who’s sleeping with my son?” So I call him, and I say, “Tony! You have a baby and you don’t even think to tell your own mother? You know we’re still all under quarantine, Tony, and you certainly should have been nine months ago instead of shacking up with some mystery woman! Now don’t get me wrong, Tony, every life is a miracle, I do believe that. But what are you gonna do? This is no time to be raising a child.”


He took a second to respond. I remember, when he did, his voice was calm, but I could still hear his fear. A mother can sense these types of things.

TONY enters, on the phone, MARIA’s memory. MARIA watches.


I was gonna call you, Ma. I don’t know how your friends found out. I only told Steve and Len cause I knew they’d be up at three in the morning. I guess they must’ve called their moms…

MARIA steps into the memory, pulling out her cell phone.


Who is she, Tony?


The baby?


The mother.


Oh. I don’t know. There is… there is no mother, Ma. It’s just me. I got up and danced when my phone told me it was two, and then I went back to sleep until my phone told me it was three, and… there she was, this baby, lying next to me. And she woke up as I woke up, and I don’t know how it happened, but I looked into her eyes and I knew she was mine. She’s mine, Ma. Just mine.

MARIA is speechless.

TONY (cont.)

You said it yourself, Ma: the baby’s a miracle. A real life bible story kind of miracle.


I’m The Virgin Tony!

MARIA remains speechless. TONY laughs nervously. MARIA does not. The sound of the infant starting to cry can be heard.

Ma, I’ve gotta go.



TONY hangs up and exits. MARIA returns to the present. Lights fade on the grocery store and come up again on the football stadium.