Pageant Play – Matthew Wilkas and Mark Setlock

crown or tiara isolated on a white background

World pre­miere dur­ing the Berk­shire The­atre Fes­ti­val in Stock­bridge, Mass­a­chu­setts, on July 5, 2008.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Marge/Pinky’s Mother                                 Daiva Deupree
Pinky                                                              Jenn Har­ris
Bobby/Buddy                                                Mark Set­lock
Bob/Gunnar                                                  Matthew Wilkas

Pinky:  30s, mother of Chevro­let
Marge (Bobbi-Jo):
  30s, mother of Pud­dle
Bobby:  30s, pageant coach
Bob:  30s, pageant coach
Gun­nar: 30s, hus­band of Pinky
Buddy:  30s, hus­band of Marge (Bobbi-Jo)
Pinky’s Mother:  30s (in flash­back), drunk

Direc­tor:  Martha Banta
Set Design:  Luke Hegel-Cantarella
Cos­tume Design:  Jes­sica Riesser-Milne
Light­ing Design:  Thom Weaver
Sound Design:  Bart Fass­ben­der
Dance Con­sul­tant:  Isadora Wolfe
Stage Man­ager:  Rafi Levavy

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Wilkas, Matthew and Mark Set­lock. Pageant Play.  Drama­tists Play Ser­vice, 2010.  Drama Library PS3623. I5453 P34 2010.

 Set­ting:  The Amer­i­can South

Lan­guage:  Con­tem­po­rary and every­one speaks with a Texas accent

MOTHER

If you lose one more time, lit­tle dar­ling of mine, I’m going to go and buy that lit­tle doggy any­way, and I’m gonna let you play with her for a day or two. And then I’m going to have your cousin Leon shoot her and make her into a hat. (Mother pats Pinky on the head, downs her drink and just before she exits shouts:)  This flash­back is over!

Genre/Style:  Com­edy

Plot:   Pinky, a wealthy Texas socialite and pageant vet­eran, will do any­thing to ful­fill her unful­filled pageant dreams through her daugh­ter, Chevro­let.  Marge, a new­comer on the scene, just wants to win enough money to bail her hus­band out of jail.  Unfor­tu­nately, she does that by kid­nap­ping a lit­tle girl and enter­ing her in pageants.  And Bobby and Bob, two pageant coaches, are swept up in the two women’s plots and ambi­tions.  Although child pageants are easy to par­ody, the play still man­ages to fas­ci­nate when it explores the truly bizarre and sur­real lengths par­ents will go to in order to win.  Marge’s story is refresh­ing in its depar­ture from the nor­mal rea­sons why moth­ers push their daugh­ters into the cubic zir­co­nia world of child pageants, but the flash­backs explain­ing Pinky’s moti­va­tions feel unnecessary—alhough they’re both humor­ous and grotesque—because her moti­va­tions are exactly what we imag­ine them to be.  The deci­sion to por­tray the chil­dren as empty ball gowns empha­sizes their posi­tion as objects and keeps the focus on the par­ents as the source of drama in the play.

 

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.15:  Marge tries to bond with Pud­dle by sug­gest­ing they move to Maine after the pageants are over. 

MARGE

Hey, I was just think­ing, Pud, about how maybe afgter we win all the money we need, how would you like to go and live with me in some­place like Maine?  [Lines cut] And we can play princesses too. I love princesses. (Beat.) But take your time, Pud. You’ll come around. I know you will.

p.27–28:  Marge (Bobbi-Jo) explains to her hus­band, Buddy, how she kid­napped Pud­dle to enter her in pageants in order to raise money to bail him out of jail.  Long monologue.

MARGE

[Exactly.] So, I walked up and I over­heard one of the Bar­bie girls talk­ing to a lit­tle girl and her mother about the pageant. And I pre­tended I was read­ing a flyer, but I was really lis­ten­ing, see? And the Bar­bie girl was say­ing, “You can win thou­sands of dol­lars!”  [Lines cut] And I don’t know what came over me, but I… I went to her. And I picked her up. And I walked her out the door. And into the park­ing lot. And I put her in the car. And I drove away with her.

 

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scenes: 

p. 7–9:  Pinky and Marge meet after Pud­dle wins the Gin­ger­bread Regional Pageant’s Top Crown and Pinky gives Marge some unwanted advice.  Starts with

PINKY

Con­grat­u­la­tions!

and ends with

PINKY

What time is it?  (Pinky looks at her watch, and then takes Marge’s hand.) OK, you know what? You’re com­ing with me. Pinky’s gonna show you how it works.

p. 20–22:  Marge ques­tions Bobby and Bob’s idea to cut Puddle’s hair like Tom Cruise’ in Top Gun for the pageant. Bob finally admits Pinky paid them to sab­o­tage Pud­dle in the upcom­ing Texas Twin­kle pageant.  Starts with

MARGE

Are you guys in some sort of a cult?

and ends with

BOB

What I’m say­ing is, what if we did some­thing to stop her? (Beat.) Quick! Pass me that swim cap and that tub of latex make-up. If Bobby wants her to have Tom Cruise hair, she’s gonna have Tom Cruise hair.

p. 30–32:  Bob decides to leave Bobby and their busi­ness and strike out on his own after he helps Marge and Pud­dle win the Texas Twin­kle pageant.  Starts with

BOBBY

Well, I man­aged to smooth that over. Com­plete dis­as­ter averted, thank you very much.

and ends with

BOBBY

You’re fat!

 

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

Berson, M. (2010, 21 July). Review: ‘pageant play’ is a hoot—full of lone star beauty-contest lunacy. [open access] Seat­tle Times.

Mac­Don­ald, S. (2008, 6 July). Reviews:  Pageant play. [open access] The­ater­Ma­nia.

Mur­ray, L. (2008, 6 July). Pageant play debuts at berk­shire the­atre fes­ti­val:  Witty com­edy is refresh­ing and breezy sum­mer treat.  [open access] Berk­shire Fine Arts.

Rizzo, F. (2008, 7 July). Pageant play. [open access] Vari­ety.

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