Mistakes Were Made – Craig Wright

frenchrevolution

Received its world premiere production in 2009 at A Red Orchid in Chicago and at Hartford Stage in Connecticut.  New York premiere in November 2010 at Barrow Street Theatre.

Original Cast:

Felix Artifex  (a producer)                           Michael Shannon
Esther (secretary to Mr. Artifex)                   Mierka Girten
Puppeter (koi fish)                                       Sam Deutsch

Director:  Dexter Bullard
Set Design:  Tom Burch
Costume Design:  Tif Bullard
Lighting Design:  Keith Parham
Sound Design:  Joseph Fosco
Hair and Makeup Design: Nan Zabriskie
Stage Manager: Richard A. Hodge

Publication:  Wright, Craig. Mistakes Were Made. Dramatists Play Service, 2011. Drama Library PS3573. R5322 M57 2011

Setting:   An office in the present.

Language:  Contemporary.

FELIX

Okay, so—okay, so—fine— so you tell me, Johnny, so, then, no, you tell me, who is the star of the French Revolution if King Louis is not the star?

Genre/Style:  Comedy.  See previous post (The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity)about how I don’t find most stage comedies very funny.  This would be an example.  It’s amusing in parts, but the structure, a one-man show where said man spends most of his time on the phone, becomes tiring very quickly.  That said, there are some very funny moments, they’re just few and far between, and a lot would depend on the particular actor playing the part.  Also, given that the play first premiered in 2009 and contains numerous contemporary references, it feels curiously old-fashioned.  Wouldn’t a high-powered producer do more of his work on a smartphone these days?  I can imagine someone fielding texts and tweets, but not dealing with ten land lines.

Plot:  A Broadway producer is frantically trying to seal the deal with a big star, financial backers, theatre owners, and the playwright of a play about the French Revolution called Mistakes Were Made.

 

Representative Monologues: Note: Although Felix’s secretary is a character in the play, she is only seen in silhouette and her lines are negligible. The play is closer to a one-man play than a true two-hander, so there are many monologue opportunities.   (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.16: Felix is trying to convince the playwright, Steven, to make the changes to his play suggested by a star Felix is trying to get to commit to the play.

FELIX

Steven, here’s the deal:  life is unbearable and short.

(Clarifying) Yes, life is unbearable and short and people want to be entertained.

Meanwhile, you’re in the Heartland, with your wife and kid, working your day job, but getting ideas, which is what I love about you. You’ve got your cute little family, your ten thousand things, your grocery lists, strollers, your torn-up floors, but you’re sitting there thinking, “Maybe the French Revolution would be fun to put on stage! [Lines cut]

[Lines cut] And me, Steven, little me, I’m sitting here in New York City, the hub of the Western World, with the razor-sharp bottom of this whole pyramid resting on my eyeball, you know, I’ve got all these myriad vectors, Steven, bearing down on my little watery eyeball, I’m sitting here seeing all these forces at work, and all I’m doing, kid, all I’m doing all day long, is trying like hell to do whatever I can to draw all these disparate, tragic, lovely forces together because for me, Steven, poor sucker that I am, this is my curse, there’s no greatest pleasure in life I can imagine right now than to make your play happen on stage!

p.36-37:  Felix finds out the owner of the theater where he hopes to put on the play has pulled his slot.

FELIX

Oscar, I was just about to call you!

[Lines cut]

It sure as hell is my slot, Oscar—what show?

(The phone rings.)

No, you’re not.

NO, you’re not doing a musical version of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Because, Oscar, it’s the worst idea in the history of Western Civilization.

You have to ask? Because Atticus Finch is not a singing character, Oscar. He’s not a character who can be made to credibly sing, it’d be like watching an—anteater stand up and sing! Gregory Peck shut the door on this idea 50 years ago!

You never sat down with Miley Cyrus. That’s a lie.

And Billy Ray? Really? For Atticus?

Wow! Another lie! I love this game!

 

Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Dziemianowicz, J. (2010, Nov 17). ‘Mistakes’ misses its calling. New York Daily News.

Isherwood, C. (2010, Nov 16). A producer, his telephone and desperation. New York Times.

Plemmons, C. (2009, Nov 13). ‘Mistakes were made:’ hartford stage saddled with been there, done that comedy. The News – Times.

Rizzo, F., & rizzo@courantcom. (2009, Nov 08). PLAYWRIGHT HAS FEET ON TERRA FIRMA, HEAD IN COSMOS. Hartford Courant.

Reborning – Zayd Dohrn

dohrn

Premiered at the Public Theatre as part of the Summer Play Festival in June 2009.

Original Cast:

Daizy (male, 20s)                                           Greg Keller
Emily (female, 40s)                                         Ally Sheedy
Kelly (female, 20s)                                         Katherine Waterston

Director:  Kip Fagan
Scenic Design:  David Evans Morris
Costume Design:  Jessica Pabst
Lighting Design:  Matt Frey
Sound and Video Design:  Leah Gelpe

Publication:  Dohrn, Zayd. Reborning. Samuel French, 2013. Drama Library PS3604. O47 R43 2013

Setting:   A dollmaker’s studio in Queens, NY.

Language:  Contemporary.

KELLY

Yeah, I was kind of famous, for a while. In The New York Post. “The Dumpster Darling”. Sold a lot of papers for those assholes, which is probably my greatest regret…

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic.

Plot:  A dollmaker has been commissioned to create a doll based on her customer’s dead child.  While some of the character details are a bit precious (Daizy is a boy named by hippy parents; a RISD graduate, he makes dildos for a living), the basic premise isn’t that far-fetched:  you can understand that grief over a lost child might drive a parent to do strange things.  Where the play loses steam is when it tries to conflate Kelly’s traumatic past with her present profession, and in particular, with her commission for Emily.

 

Representative Monologues:  (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.15: Daizy explains to Kelly why he finds her work disgusting.

DAIZY

Sorry. But it’s like—we’re on Oprah or something here, and these people think they’re buying some product that’s gonna make them feel better about like—(imitating Oprah) “You get a doll! And you get a doll! Everybody gets a fucking doll!” (picking up a doll) Look at this. Is this a perfect symbol for some kind of –post-feminist capitalist nightmare? “Realities of life too depressing for you, little lady? Go shopping! Who needs a career? Play with dolls!” I mean—women in Africa lose half their kids within a year, all right? To diarrhea! Know what they do? They get knocked up again. Right away. They don’t have time to raise a baby made out of plastic!

p.45:  Emily explains what happened to her to make her want a doll.

EMILY

But, right. Well, it wasn’t enough…for me. (beat) I weened Eva, you know, when she was six months old…I wanted to go back to work. To make partner. A year off would have killed my career. Put me in mom-limbo, permanently. And I couldn’t stand pumping in the restroom, like a cow. Having the secretaries walk in one me. The slurping sound. So, we switched to formula. [Lines cut]  Then last year, I started getting these hot flashes. And it all came rushing back. That need. I see babies in the park now, when I’m out jogging, and I want to touch them so bad, my fingers ache.

 

Representative Scenes: 

p.8-10: Emily examines the Eva doll for the first time.  Starts with

Emily

The little crust on her eyebrows. I haven’t thought about that for…God knows. I didn’t realize I still had that on my mind…

and ends with

KELLY

Not at all. Not at all. It’s a relief, actually. To be so straightforward. I thought I was being realistic.

p.22-23: Emily examines the doll for the second time.  Starts with

EMILY

The milia on the nose. So  alive. It just—Makesteh eyes feel a bit flat to me, that’s all.

and ends with

KELLY

Right. And I can’t sculpt your memory.

 

Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Healy, P. (2009, Sep 03). A playwright’s glimmers of a fugitive childhood. New York Times. (Review of The Public Theatre production)

Marchese, E. (2012, May 09). ‘Reborning’ swaddled in dysfunction, authenticity. Orange County Register. (Review of Chance Theater production in Orange County)

Reborning. (2011, May 10). Daily Variety. (Review of San Francisco Playhouse production)

The Gingerbread House – Mark Schultz

gingerbread

First produced at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in New York, opening April 11, 2009.

Original Cast:

Stacey (30s)                                                                              Sarah Paulson
Brian (30s)                                                                                Jason Butler Harner
Marco (30s)                                                                               Bobby Cannavale
Fran (40s)                                                                                  Jackie Hoffman
Collin (20s)                                                                                Ben Rappaport
Curtis (very young boy, son of Stacey and Brian)                     L.J. Foley
Maggie (even younger girl, daughter of Stacey and Brian)       Clare Foley

Director:  Evan Cabnet
Set Design:  John McDermott
Lighting Design:  Ben Stanton
Costume Design:  Jessica Wegener
Sound Design:  Zane Birdwell
Video and Projections:  Richard DiBella

Publication:  Schultz, Mark. The Gingerbread House. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. 2010. Drama Library, PS3619. C4784 G56 2010

Setting:  Various.  There should be a window floating somewhere onstage onto which images and titles can be projected.  Otherwise, the stage should be as bare and minimal as possible.  Time, the present.

Language:  Contemporary. People speak in staccato rhythms. Text in parenthesis is not spoken. (Note:  in the published play, the unspoken text is in brackets.)

BRIAN

It’s not oh, please, it’s true. It’s fucking true. And I feel bad. (A little.) I do. For even saying it. But. More than that. I feel. We have to be honest. With ourselves. Okay? Can we do that? Can we be honest? (Beat.) We’re shitty fucking parents. Stacey.

Genre/Style:  Dark comedy

Plot:  Brian and Stacey contemplate selling their children.  As hinted at by the title, this is a contemporary take on Hansel and Gretel, in which both parents are culpable for their actions.  There are no wicked stepmothers in this version, just two very selfish individuals who are tired of being responsible for their children.

 

Representative Monologues:  (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.14-15:  Darren is trying to convince Stacey that selling their kids, instead of putting them up for adoption, is a great idea. 

Brian

You don’t get paid. When you give up your kids. For adoption. No one pays you. For giving up your full-grown. Kids. but this isn’t about the money. (At least not entirely.) Because. Adoption? They’re put into some system. They get shoved into some system. Foster homes. It’s all dragged out. They get fucked. For life. And is that really what we want? For them? I mean this isn’t just about making us happy. This is about them. Too. ‘Cause I’ve given this a lot of thought. I may hate them. But I don’t wanna hurt them. [Lines cut]  We’ll think of something. When the time comes. If we have to. And. So. (Beat.) We can do this. It’s the best we can do. All things considered. (Beat.) I miss you. Is all. (Beat.) What do you think?

p.19:  Marco gives a sales pitch; Brian’s line can be cut.

Marco

Okay. These are the facts. Cold hard facts. A: Kids know when they’re a burden. They know. And it’s fucked up, I gotta say. And B: You got an opportunity here. To make things better. For everyone involved. Brian’s told me all bout it. (Beat.) Se, I know what’s going on here, Stacey. I’ve seen it before. Lots of people. Lots of moms. They settle. For whatever. Little. Crumbs. Life gives them. But you got a husband. Who’s willing to dream big for you.

[Brian

That’s right. That’s true.]

Marco

[Lines cut] Because I know you want to believe me. This is the truth. Simple as I can make it: They will be loved. By some very wealthy people. They’ll have a great time. Everybody wins. That’s all there is to it.

p.52-53:  Brian finds out that Stacey has kidnapped Marco’s children in an attempt to get their kids back.

Brian

You’re shitting on me. Let’s be honest. And you’re shitting on us. Which is worse. And it’s a really fucking horrible thing. It is. To realize. After all my work. After everything I’ve done. Tried to do. That you never. Never. Ever. Really. Wanted. Me. [Lines cut] You don’t deserve them. And frankly. Really. Quite frankly. your behavior here. Today. Recently. Shows. You don’t deserve me either. So. Let’s just say. That. The woman I married is gone. Right? Let’s just say that she’s gone. And let’s just say that. In here place. Is this old fucking hag. This child-selling fucking vampire hag. Who wouldn’t know what motherhood was. If you hit her over the head with it. (I mean. If you could do that. With motherhood.)

 

Representative Scenes:

p.9-10:  Brian brings up the idea of selling the kids. Starts with

BRIAN

(I) Got an idea.

and ends with

STACEY

It does.

p.22-23:  Stacey’s at work trying to sell a cruise ship vacation to a customer.  Starts with

FRAN

I’m really interested in the Fantasy Cruise?

and ends with

FRAN

The Fantasy Cruise. If there’s a cruise that’s more.  Fantasy. Fantastic. Whatever. If there’s a more Fantasy Cruise than the Fantasy Cruise, then it’s not really much of a Fantasy Cruise, at least not as much as the Cruise that’s more Fantastical (Pause.)

 

Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.

Isherwood, C. (2009, Apr 22). Chaotic household? sell the kids. New York Times. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Rosenberg, David A. The Gingerbread House. Back Stage, 4/23/2009, Vol. 50 Issue 17, p29-29. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Soloski, Alexis. No Kidding. Village Voice, 4/29/2009, Vol. 54 Issue 18, p33-33. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

The Gingerbread House. Theatre World, 2008-2009, Vol. 65, p175. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Thielman, Sam. The Gingerbread House. Daily Variety, 4/21/2009, Vol. 303 Issue 11, p22-23. [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

Voss, Brandon. Drama Queen. HX Magazine, 5/1/2009, Issue 921, p54.  [Review of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater production in NY]

 

Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them – A. Rey Pamatmat

pamatmat

Received its world premier at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in 2011.

Original Cast:

Edith  (12, Filipino-American, a girl, Kenny’s sister)                       Teresa Avia Lim
Kenny (16, Filipino-American, a young man, Edith’s brother)        Jon Norman Schneider
Benji (16, any race, a friend)                                                          Cory Michael Smith

Author’s Note:  The play should be performed by young-looking adult actors, not actual teenagers.  The adults in the play can be portrayed with puppets, projections, or something else non-human.

Director:  May Adrales
Scenic Design:  Brian Sidney Bembridge
Costume Design:  Connie Furr Soloman
Lighting Design:  Jeff Nellis
Sound Design:  Benjamin Marcum
Properties Design:  Joe Cunningham
Media Design:  Philip Allgeier
Fight Director:  Drew Fracher
Stage Manager:  Kimberly First-Aycock
Dramaturg:  Michael Bigelow Dixon

Publication:  Pamatmat, A. Rey. Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them. Samuel French. 2012.  Drama Library, PS3616.A3567 E35 2012

Setting:  A remote non-working farm outside of a remote town in remotest Middle America in the early 90s.

Language:  Contemporary

KENNY

I have this special glue that will keep a dress stuck on you for a week, and if you try to take it off, it will rip off your skin. So either put one on for a couple of hours, or plan on having one stuck to you for days.

Genre/Style:  Darkly comedic drama

Plot:  Edith and her brother, Kenny, try to survive on their own in a farmhouse in the country after the death of their mother and their father’s apparent abandonment.  The basic premise is a little shaky—that a father would abandon his school-aged children to live with his girlfriend in the same town—as is some of the plotting, but the characters are engaging and they draw you into the play.  Particularly affecting is the budding relationship between Kenny and Benji.

 

Representative Monologues:  (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.14:  Benji explaining why his mother has kicked him out of the house.  [Kenny’s line can be cut.] 

BENJI

I’m doing my chores—washing dinner dishes. I go in my room when I’m done and she’s sitting there holding the tape and the note. Her face is all twisted. Disgusted. And then she yells for my dad and brother, and when they come in, she shoves the note at me and goes:  “Read it. Aloud. To your father.”

And I read. And she shakes and cries. And my bother swears. And my dad just stands there. I get to the end and I hear this…this crack sound. And she snapped it in half. Your tape.

[Lines cut]

[KENNY

Don’t be sorry.]

BENJI

My dad goes, “I’m going to make sure Mom talks to you tomorrow.” But I don’t want to talk to her. I don’t want to go home, to…with her. I want her to leave me alone.

p.39:  Edith explaining to Benji how he needs to take care of himself and learn to be like her.  [Benji’s line can be cut.]

EDITH

[I just do.]

Sometimes I go to Dina Osheyack’s house, and her mom is always there. She teaches us how to do stuff, helps us do our homework. And it’s fun, even though Mrs. Osheyack can be really annoying. She wants to see Dina all the time and hear all about school and stuff. But Mrs. Osheyack? She’s always telling Dina what to do—pick this up and throw this out and show Tom some respect, he has cross country tomorrow! [Lines cut]

[BENJI

No.]

Right. You’re almost as smart as me, and I don’t need anyone. So just do what I do, and you’ll be fine. Show her you’re fine. Live here and be like me.

 

Representative Scenes:  (Note:  This play has a number of three-person scenes as well as the two-person scenes below.)

p.23-24: Kenny and Benji discussing words for various sex acts.  Starts with KENNY and BENJI in the barn, sitting in the hay. BENJI pulls a dictionary out of his bookbag.)   

KENNY

That’s what you brought?

and ends with

BENJI

That’s what I mean. There are words for it. And not just crass words or words they use at my mother’s church. These words…”fellatio” is scientific. It’s not—there’s no. It’s not condemning people who do it, and it’s not glorifying them either. No bias. There’s a scientific word for it, because it is a scientific fact that it happens. And since it happens it needs to be named. And so it is.

(KENNY kisses BENJI)

p.37-38:  Edith wants Kenny to ask Benji to come to her recital  [Starts with

BENJI

So…uh, what are you doing tonight?

and ends with

KENNY

Bye, whore. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes, whore.

p.55-56:  Edith and Benji are sitting in an ice cream shop after Kenny has just stormed out.  The kids have been hiding out since Edith shot her dad’s girlfriend by mistake with her pellet gun.  Starts with

EDITH

I wouldn’t have shot her if I knew who she was.

and ends with

EDITH

Even if she loves you, her love doesn’t mean anything. When it matters, it doesn’t mean a thing.

 

Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Cox, G. (2011). Trio of shows shines at Humana fest. Variety, 422(10), 23. (Review of production at the Humana Festival)

Hubbard, R. (2012, Mar 18). Theater review: ‘edith can shoot things and hit them’ is rewarding but uneven. Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

Osborne, B. (2011, Nov 04). ‘Edith can shoot things’ targets hopeful audience: Unconventional but fairly functional unit formed by trio. The Atlanta Journal – Constitution.

Royce, G. (2012, Mar 19). ‘Edith can shoot things’ misses. Star Tribune.

Schneider, R. (2011). 35th HUMANA FESTIVAL OF NEW AMERICAN PLAYS. Plays International, 26(7/8), 48-51.

Sheward, D. (2011). Less Is More at Louisville. Back Stage (19305966), 52(15), 12-13. (Review of production at the Humana Festival)

Maple and Vine – Jordan Harrison

harrison

First produced at the Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2011; and had its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons in December 2011.

Original Cast:

Katha  (mid to late 30s)                                                                  Kate Turnbull
Ryu (mid to late 30s)                                                                       Peter Kim
Dean (late 30s)                                                                               Paul Niebanck
Ellen/Jenna (late 30s.  Also plays Jenna)                                     Jeanine Serralles
Roger/Omar (mid to late 30s.  Also plays Omar)                         Jesse Pennington

Director:  Anne Kauffman
Scenic Design:
  Brian Sidney Bembridge
Costume Design:  Connie Furr Soloman
Lighting Design:  Jeff Nellis
Sound Design:  Benjamin Marcum
Properties Design:  Alice Baldwin
Stage Manager:  Melissa Rae Miller
Dramaturg:  Amy Wegener

Publication:  Harrison, Jordan. Maple and Vine. Samuel French. 2012.  Drama Library, PS3608. A78348 M37 2012

Setting:  There are many locations, both in the present and past

Language:  Contemporary

RYU

I think…people aren’t happy. People have never been happy. The whole idea is a tyranny. Slaves building the pyraminds…Serfs. They didn’t have enough time to ask “Am I happy?” This is not even a hundred-year-old idea: “Am I happy.”

Genre/Style:  Darkly comedic drama.

Plot:  A contemporary, professional couple decides to abandon their Manhattan lifestyle for a simpler existence right out the 1950s, 1955 to be exact, with a group of people who have recreated Eisenhower America somewhere in the Midwest, the SDO, the Society of Dynamic Obsolescence.  The play’s premise holds a lot of promise, however, it doesn’t satisfactorily deal with the various issues it raises.  Particularly interesting is a sub-plot involving two secondary characters who are far more interesting than the two lead characters.

Representative Monologues:  (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.14:  Dean speaks about the difference between the modern world and the world of 1955. 

DEAN

It wasn’t that the modern world was too fast, or too noisy. In a way, it was too quiet. Let me explain.  IN the 21st century, everything’s pretty easy, right? You have your thrive-thru espresso. Your drive-thru pharmacy. Or why go to the store when you can get it online? You hardly have to interact with anyone—except for all those people you’ve never en met who enter your life through our computer, pulling you every which way.

 [Lines cut]

In the modern world, I used to make it through half the day without talking to a single soul. I used to have it so easy. And now, looking back—I realize how lonely I was.

p.39:  Ellen explains her work on the Authenticity Committee.

ELLEN

We take our job very seriously on the Authenticity Committee.  It’s not just clothes and mimeograph machines—it’s about everyone’s emotional experience.  And the question we have to answer again and again is how far do you take it.

We have people from all walks of life in the SDO. And the question sometimes is how do we respond authentically to these people. [Lines cut] It can be complicated to navigate, but authenticity is very important to us.

p.74:  Roger responds after Ryu tries to blackmail him into putting him up for a raise by insinuating that he saw Roger and Dean kissing outside of his house.

ROGER

Let me tell you about a heap of trouble, Ryu. See, I know you’re really a nice guy. And I know you wouldn’t want to do something to mess up your prospects here. Because I’ve been giving you the good word. I’ve seen lots of people come through here and nobody does well without the good word from the floor manager. Especially the non-whites. [Lines cut] So why don’t you keep your head down and do your work and eat your fucking bologna. See you later.

 

Representative Scenes:

p.43-44:  Ryu and Katha are discussing what to do if they decide they need to talk about the 21st century while living in the past. Starts with

KATHA

What if we had a Safe Word.

and ends with

BOTH

I like Ike!

I like Ike!

I like Ike!

I like Ike!

p.95-96:  Ryu and Kathy are now the leading couple in town.  Starts with

(RYU speaks out.  KATHY stands farther off, enormously pregnant now.)

RYU

First of all, welcome.  Welcome to the SDO.

and ends with

KATHY

(hand to her belly) The present.

 

Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  article title links are to the online versions, mostly UW-only restricted unless designated as open access.)

Carter, A. T. (2012, Oct 22). ‘Maple and vine’s’ sentimental journey doesn’t lead where expected. Tribune – Review / Pittsburgh Tribune – Review. (Review of Pittsburgh production)

Cox, G. (2011). Trio of shows shines at Humana fest. Variety, 422(10), 23. (Review of production at the Humana Festival)

D’Souza, K. (2012, Apr 12). Unplug at ‘maple and vine’. Contra Costa Times, p. T.20.  (Review of San Francisco production at ACT)

Isherwood, C. (2011, Dec 08). Exchanging lattes for an ‘ozzie and harriet’ world. New York Times, p. C.1. (Review of NY production at Playwrights Horizons)

Kennedy, L. (2013, Jan 11). Curious theatre wrestles with nostalgia at “maple and vine”. Denver Post, p. C6. (Review of Denver production)

Kennedy, L. (2013, Jan 18). Darkly fun “maple and vine” sends modern pair to 1955. Denver Post, p. C12. (Review of Denver production)

Maple and Vine. (2011). Daily Variety, 313(47), 3. (Review of NY production at Playwrights Horizons)

SHEWARD, D. (2011). Less Is More at Louisville. Back Stage, 52(15), 12-13. (Review of production at the Humana Festival)

SHEWARD, D. (2011). Maple and Vine at Playwrights Horizons. Back Stage, 52(50), 40-41. (Review of NY production at Playwrights Horizons)

Soloski, A. (2011, Sep 07). Fall arts: Playwright jordan harrison’s simple plan: “maple and vine”. The Village Voice. [open access] (Review of NY production at Playwrights Horizons)

Vincentelli, E. (2011, Dec 08). An era-neous take on 1950s. New York Post,p. 61. (Review of NY production at Playwrights Horizons)

Weinert-Kendt, R. (2011, Nov 27). Back to the ’50s, trying to escape freedom’s pitfalls. New York Times, p. AR.4. (Review of NY production at Playwrights Horizons)

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity – Kristoffer Diaz

diazWas first produced by Victory Garden in Chicago, IL. on September 25, 2009.  Subsequently produced by 2econd Stage Theatre in New York City, May 20, 2010.  The play was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Original Cast:

Vigneshwar Paduar                                    Usman Ally
Chad Deity                                                   Lamal Angelo Bolden
Macedonio Guerra                                     Desmin Borges
Everett K. Olson/Ring Announcer           James Krag
Joe Jabroni/Bill Heartland/Old Glory       Christian Litke

Vigneshwar Paduar (also known as VP) – A young Indian-American Brooklynite. Charismatic, natural, effortless.

Chad Deity (also known as Chad Deity) – The African-American champion of THE Wrestling. Confident, handsome, not a very good wrestler.

Macedonio Guerra (also known as The Mace) – A Puerto Rican professional wrestler. Good at what he does, undersized, our hero.

Everett K. Olson (also known as EKO) – The Caucasian owner of THE Wrestling. Brash, confident, ostensibly our villain.

The Bad Guy – A nondescript professional wrestler (non-speaking; also plays Billy Heartland  and Old Glory.)

Director:  Edward Torres
Scenic Design:  Brian Sidney Bembridge
Costume Design:  Christine Pascual
Lighting Design:  Jessie Klug
Sound Design:  Mikhail Fiskel
Projections:  John Boesche
Properties Design:  D.J. Reed
Fight Director:  David Wooley
Stage Manager:  Tina M. Jach
Dramaturg:  Erica L. Weiss


Publication:
  Diaz, Kristoffer. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. Samuel French, 2011. Drama Library PS3604. I182 E43 2011.

Setting:  A wrestling ring

Language:  Contemporary with street-wise poetic bent

VP

Motherfucker, you step on my sneakers again and I will fuck your ass up.

Me and my whole country got the capabilities.

Long-range nuclear missile status, doggy.

We the new Superpower.

We make your Jordans, train your doctors, AND help desk your ass when your Mac breaks down.

New Superpower, suckas. Get your ass up off my street with that shit.

(back to the phone)

Nah, pero Mamita, oye what I’m saying about India:  Kama. Sutra.

Genre/Style:  Comedy.  Unlike most theatrical comedies, this one actually made me laugh, maybe because I watched The Wrestling when I was a kid (and, yes, we called it The Wrestling) and know who Jimmy “The Superfly” Snuka, Ricky Steamboat, and Ric Flair are.

Plot:  The wonderful world of THE Wrestling, where a Puerto-Rican professional wrestler whose specialty is losing to the talent recruits an Indian-American kid to battle Chad Deity, the African-American champion of THE Wrestling.

 

Representative Monologues:  (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.31-32:  Eko, Mace, and VP discussing VP’s and Mace’s wrestling promo to promote The Fundamentalist and Che Chavez Castro, their new wrestling identities.  Chad Deity appears with a loaf of raisin bread.  [VP’s line can be cut.] 

CHAD DEITY

The government demands that there be a minimum number of raisins in raisin bread.

(all eyes on CHAD DEITY)

It’s true. Says so right here on the back of The Champ’s bag of raisin bread.

[VP

You know, we’re actually in the middle of something—]

 CHAD DEITY

[Don’t worry—you’re not bothering The Champ.]

You see, brother, most people find the government’s involvement in raisin bread allotment kind of ridiculous. But not Chad Deity, no way, baby. Chad Deity knows that it is not ridiculous. [Lines cut]

And you, Mace, of all people in this room, should understand the American Dream, particularly as relates to raisin bread, because your people fought, and protested, and boycotted for the right to pick grapes.

p.15:  Mace is explaining the popularity of Chad Deity’s powerbomb move.

MACE

People love the powerbomb. They love the power, the beauty, the implausibility of it. People know that the powerbomb requires me and The Champ to unite to make it look like he’s murdering me., when in actuality I’m doing what I can to make him look like the all-world fighting machine he’s made out to be, and he’s doing what he can with his limited capability to make sure I don’t break my neck, and so at the bottom of what we’re doing is we’re both trying to ensure that neither one of us gets hurt. That fact is is powerful and beautiful and, like I said, one of the most profound expressions of the ideals of this nation.

p.34:  VP trash-talking Chad Deity

VP

We got a Black world champion and he’s rich and he God Blesses America, and he talks vociferous and he’s non-threatening unless you yourself are a threat to that which he God Blesses, and you ain’t a threat because you’re physically imposing or because you might pull off your fucking dashiki—or whatever the fuck you terrorist types wear—and bomb an arena full of God-fearing, Chad Deity-fearing, tax-paying, ticket-buying Americans, but you’re a threat because Chad Deity drew a fucking line in the sand and instead of stepping over that line so Chad Deity could pick you up, powerbomb you, pin you,, you held your ground and didn’t speak and dared that dude to meet you on your side of his stupid fucking line of fiction.

 

Representative Scenes:  (Note:  This play has a number of three-person appropriate scenes as well as the two-person scene below.)

p.12-13: Mace explains why Chad Deity is the most popular wrestler on The Wrestling. Starts with  

MACE

Here are the facts about Chad Deity, organized in handy numbered outline form.  Number one:  Chad Deity is extremely muscular

and ends with

CHAD DEITY

Not even remotely important!

 

Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Brantley, B. (2010, May 21). Body slam to the american dream. New York Times. (Review of Second Stage production)

Lemon, B. (2010). The elaborate entrance of chad deity, second stage, new york. FT.Com (Review of Second Stage production)

McNULTY, C. (2011, Sep 09). THEATER REVIEW; ‘chad’ is ready to rumble. Los Angeles Times. (Review of Geffen Playhouse production in Los Angeles)

Preston, R. (2010, Apr 12). “Chad deity:” A body slam from the gods: “the elaborate entrance of chad deity” at mixed blood is rock-’em-sock-’em theater, with insight into cultural stereotypes. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. (Review of the Mixed Blood Theatre production)

Royce, G. (2010, Apr 08). From the wrestling ring to the stage: “chad deity” looks at geopolitics and stereotypes through the lens of professional wrestling. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. (Review of the Mixed Blood Theatre production)

Vincentelli, E. (2010, May 21). WHOMP! OOF! WRESTLING PLAY PACKS A PUNCH. New York Post. (Review of Second Stage production)

 

If you’re going to steal, steal from the best

Welcome to That Unforgettable Line, a contemporary play advisory blog!  Some of you may recognize the source of the blog’s title, Winnie’s quote from Beckett’s Happy Days, “What is that unforgettable line?”  The purpose of this blog is to introduce students to playwrights and plays they might not be aware of, and to suggest monologues and scenes that might be appropriate for class work.  Hopefully, you’ll come across an unforgettable line that will make you want to explore the play further.  Each post will include information about the play, snippets of representative monologues and scenes, and links to reviews and critical resources.  My goal is to post information on 50, that’s right, 50 plays this summer, and add to the list weekly once the academic year begins.

Mercury Fur – Philip Ridley

First produced at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth, England, February 10, 2005; transferred to the Menier Chocolate Factory, London, on March 2, 2005.

Original Cast:

Elliot (19 year-old man with a bad knee)                 Ben Whishaw
Darren (16 year-old boy; a little slow)                      Robert Boulter
Naz (young looking 15 year-old boy)                        Shan Zaza
Party Piece (10 year-old boy)                                  Neet Mohan                                                                                     (Plymouth)
Party Piece (10 year-old boy)                                  Prem and Previ Gami (London)
Lola (19 year-old boy who lives as a girl)                Harry Kent
Spinx (21 year-old man)                                          Fraser Ayres
Duchess (38 years-old woman and blind)              Sophia Stanton
Party Guest (23 year-old man)                               Dominic Hall

Director:  John Tiffany
Designer:  Laura Hopkins
Lighting:  Natasha Chivers
Original Music and Sound:  Nick Powell
Fight Director:  Terry King


Publicatio
n:  in Ridley, Phillip. Plays, v. 2. Methuan Drama. 1997. p.71-202.  Drama Library, PR6068. I292 A6 1997 v.2
ridley


Setting: 
A derelict flat in a derelict council estate in the East End of London, after a biological plague has devastated England; a future gone horribly awry

Language:  Poetic but profane

ELLIOT

You’ve been acting like a kitten after a twirl in the microwave all afternoon and this microwave feline behaviour is eating up time faster than a peckish piranha on a freshly aborted foetus. Do I make myself cunting clear?

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic and very, very dark in the vein of Martin McDonagh’s work.  If you like The Lieutenant of Inishmaan or A Behanding in Spokane, or Blasted by Sarah Kane, you’ll like this play–I love all of those (plus Pillowman) and I love this play.  Warning:  graphic violence and disturbing imagery; Farber and Farber refused to publish it when it was first produced, if that gives you any indication of its effect.

Plot:  Two brothers, Elliot and Darren, are getting ready to put on a party for a mysterious guest.


Representative Monologues:  
(Monologues contain the first few lines and the last few lines; please consult the published text for the monologue in its entirety.)

p.86-87:  Elliot talks about murdering his younger brother, Darren, in a bathtub full of acid, because he’s annoyed by Darren who has eaten a butterfly (which acts like a drug) and is dragging him down as they prepare for a ‘party’. 

ELLIOTT

Know what I’m gonna do? One night, I’m gonna fill the fucking bath with sulphuric acid. I’m gonna say, ‘Fuck me, you’re a bit whiffy tonight, brov. Why don’t you give ya bollocks a good soak.’ And you’ll jump in the tub and—oh, ya might think ‘Ooo, this is a bit hot,’  but, like the bloody remedial shit for brains you are, you’ll happily lay back for a soapy wank or something. [Lines deleted] You’ll cause the poor cunt so much fucking grief it’ll deliberately beach itself. Do-gooders’ll come rushing down to save it and the whale will say, ‘Fuck off! I’m better off dead! I’ve got Darren inside me like a million miles of Paki afterbirth!’ Jesus!

p.88:  Darren reminisces about watching The Sound of Music with his Mom and Dad and Elliott and eating pizza in the days before the disaster.  Elliot’s line can be deleted.

DARREN

Know what I liked the best? Watching telly late at night. That musical Mum and Dad liked.  The mountains and all those kids going, ‘Do, re, mi.’ Running up and down mountains and going, ‘Do, re, mi.’ Remember that, Ell?  [Lines deleted] Dad made sure each part had the same number of sausage bits so we wouldn’t argue. That’s right, ain’t it, Ell?

[ELLIOT

Yeah, that’s right.]

DARREN

We’d eat it with our hands. Really greasy. Mum would say, ‘Don’t wipe your hands on the sofa.’ Mum gave us a tea towel each. I loved the way the whole room was lit by just the light of the telly. [Lines deleted] And Mum on this side and Dad on that and—Where’re you, Ell?

p.109:  Naz recounts how his mom and little sister were killed in a supermarket by a gang with machetes.

NAZ

Yeah! Mum grabs me by the hair. Mum pulls Stace by the hand. We try to get out through the back of the supermarket. But some of the gang are already there. We rung back down the aisles. I slip in something. It’s red. Blood. There’s blood pouring from under the shelves. I look through the packets of cornflakes. I see a machete goin’ up and down. And someone’s hand goin’ up and down. Then no hand. Then no machete. But more blood. [Lines deleted] They all drink Coke. They fuck Stace and they drink Coke. I think Stace must be dead now. She ain’t moving. I get right to the back of the shelf. I stay there for ages.

Slight pause.

Is the ice-cream van and stuff yours?


Representative Scenes:

p.88-91:  Darren and Elliot pretend to be an outlaw in a shootout with a lawman. Starts with

DARREN

Bang!

Slight pause.

Bang!

and ends with

DARREN

I love you so much I could burst into flames.

p.96-98:  Naz appears and he and Darren get to know each other. Starts with

NAZ

Wotchya.

and ends with

NAZ

Cut me neck right now, me blood’ll spurt right across the room, I reckon.

p.115-117:  Darren tells Naz how he got a dent in his head. Starts with

NAZ

That’s horny.

and ends with

DARREN

I remember…Mum was hurt. She’s been hit with a hammer too. She’s on the floor and she ain’t moving. I drag myself over to her. I put my hand on her chest. I can feel her heart beating. I think, She’s alive. So long as I can feel that heart beating…everything is okay. I’m safe.


Select Bibliography of Reviews and Criticism:
(Note:  article title links are to the online versions, mostly UW-only restricted unless designated as open access.)

Bassett, K. (2005). Mercury Fur. Theatre Record, 25(5), 281-282. (Review of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mercury Fur)

Chappell, H. (2005). State of Confusion. New Statesman, 134(4732), 42. (Review of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mercury Fur)

Gardner, L. (2010). Guardian. Theatre Record, 30(4), 180. (Review of London revival at Picton Place)

Gross, J. (2005). Mercury Fur. Theatre Record, 25(5), 280-281. (Review of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of Mercury Fur

Harpin, A. (2011). Intolerable Acts. Performance Research, 16(1), 102-111.

Jette, D.  (2009). Mercury Fur at Imaged Life.  LA Theatre Review. [open access] (Review of LA production at Imaged Life Theater)

Logan, B. (2005). Mercury Fur. Theatre Record, 25(5), 279-280. (Review of London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory)

Lukowski, A. (2010). Time Out London. Theatre Record, 30(4), 180. (Review of London revival at Picton Place)

Malone, R. (2005). Mercury Fur. Stage, (6463), 12. [open access] (Review of original production at the Drum Theater in Plymouth)

Marchese, E. (2007). Mercury Fur Back Stage West, 14(11), 14. (Review of Rude Guerilla Company in Santa Ana, California)

Margolies, D. (2009). Mercury Fur. Back Stage (19305966), 50(24), 23-24. (Review of LA production at Imaged Life Theater)

More on Previous Productions. (2012). Theatre Record, 32(8), 429-430. (Review of London production at Trafalgar Studios)

Ridley, P., & Sierz, A. (2009). ‘Putting a New Lens on the World’: the Art of Theatrical Alchemy. New Theatre Quarterly, 25(2), 109-117. (Interview with Philip Ridley)

Shuttleworth, I. (2005). Prompt Corner. Theatre Record, 25(5), 265-266. (Review of London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory)

Smith, P. (2012, June 7). Mercury Fur, Trafalgar Studios, Review.  Daily Telegraph, p. 30. [open access] (Review of London production at Trafalgar Studios)

Spencer, C. (2005, March 5). A Vicious Kick in the Guts. Daily Telegraph, p. 24. (Review of London production at the Menier Chocolate Factory)

Stuff of Nightmares:  Mercury Fur @ The Ringwald. (2011, April 9). The Ferndale One-Fifteen News. [open access] (Review of Ferndale, Michigan production at The Ringwald)

Tripney, N. (2012). Mercury Fur. Stage, (6829), 18-19. [open access] (Review of production at Old Red Lion in London, England from March 27 to April 14, 2012)

Trueman, M. (2012). Mercury Fur: Time Out London. Theatre Record, 32(7), 346. (Review of London production at the Old Red Lion Theatre)

Sierz, A. (2010). Tribune. Theatre Record, 30(5), 273. (Review of London revival at Picton Place)

Wyllie, A. (2013). Philip Rridley and memory. Studies In Theatre & Performance, 33(1), 65-75.

Additional Information:

James Turner Designs:  Directed by Ned Bennett, Produced by Greenhouse Theatre, Old Red Lion Theatre, March 2012 and Trafalgar Studios, May 2012, Off-West-End Award 2013 winner, Best Set Design (Images of award-winning set design)