The Private Lives of Eskimos – Ken Urban

Originally produced by the Committee Theatre Company at the Linhart Theater in New York City, September 12, 2007.

 

Original Cast:

Marvin Michael Tisdale
The Woman Carol Monda
Detective/Christine/Eskimo Melissa Miller
Tom/Cop/Eskimo Andrew Breving 


Director
:  Dylan McCullough

Marvin:  a disaffected urban dweller in mourning, 30s
The Woman:  a mysterious older woman, face unseen, 40s
Christine:  Marvin’s girlfriend, 30s
Tom:  Marvin’s coworker, 20s
Cop:  male, who loves/hates donuts
Therapist:  female, who might be in the wrong profession
Detective:  female, who is not, in fact, a detective, but a VBP (Very Bad Person)
The Eskimos:  more like diseased yetis or Teletubbies gone wrong
Elizabeth:  Marvin’s sister, a voice on a cell phone

 

Publication:  Urban, Ken. The Private Lives of Eskimos. New York:  Dramatists Play Service, 2014. Drama Library Stacks PS3621. R34 P75 2014.

 

Setting:  An East Coast city; the present [Fall (September to December)].

Language:  Contemporary

TOM

Jesus, Marv, you’re totally crazy. I love it, I love it. You remind me of this bro of mine at school. He would say the craziest shit, especially if he was toasted and dud, he was always toasted.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   Marvin’s sister has died in a terrorist attack on a train and he was the last person she spoke to by cell phone.  Unable to function, he turns to his girlfriend, his coworker, and a therapist to no avail.  When he loses his cell phone, he calls and gets a mysterious woman on the other end who refuses to return his phone.  When she ends up calling him back, they begin an odd, somewhat abusive relationship via the telephone.  By the time a so-called Detective shows up claiming to be looking for the woman, Marvin realizes something strange and possibly sinister is going on.  As if that’s not enough, a trio of Eskimos (who bear no resemblance to real indigenous peoples) continually show up without warning spouting spam whenever Marvin’s agitated.  In a play that is already chock full of enough drama, the trio adds nothing substantial to the story and come off more as postmodern stylistic flourishes than as authentic manifestations of Marvin’s inner state.  One of the difficulties of the play is that it seems to be an unholy mix of styles:  realistic drama meets surrealist, absurdist black comedy.  That said, there are some truly effective moments.

 

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.14-15:  Christine is trying to interest Marvin in dinner but Marvin ignores her. She is frustrated with his inability to move on after his sister’s death. Starts with

CHRISTINE

I could throw my jacket on
get you a burrito
‘cause I know you like burritos
get you a burrito from the Mexican place
the one we always go to
where we went on our first date

and ends with

Marvin?

Bangkok. You like that one.
White rice?
No, brown.
Brown rice.
Yes.

p.20-21:  Tom tells Marvin about this cooking show (Bobby Flay’s Throwdown) that he watched on the first day Marvin returns to work after his sister’s death. Basically, Tom is serving Marvin notice that he’s no longer needed. Starts with

TOM

I said, I saw this cooking show last night. But it wasn’t like a stupid gay-ass cooking show, it was like pretty awesome, you know. An awesome cooking show. This guy he finds the person who people say are like the best at something.
like this woman makes the best hamburgers

and ends with

 

And that hamburger lady, she lost it ‘cause it was like her birthday and she was all excited she was getting this documentary made about her. But she got slammed.
Bobby fuckin’ slammed her.
Tom loves that. SLAM.

                                                Tom looks t Marvin. Marvin is visibly shaking.

Hey. You OK, bud?

p.62:  The Detective comes to see Marvin after having found the Woman based on his information. When Marvin questions her about what happened, the Detective tells Marvin she used to write short stories that everyone tried to read more into than was there.  Starts with

DETECTIVE

(No accent.) It all ends now, understand?

Marvin nods vigorously. She lets go. He collapses to the floor.

(Accent returns.) Hey, Marv. Can I tell you something? That OK?

Marvin nods yes.

and ends with

As I always say, ambiguity is the refuge of the indecisive. Ambiguity is for pussies. That’s what I think.
Clarity, Marvin, clarity. Got me?

 

Representative Scenes: 

p.16-18: Marvin sees a therapist, not the best therapist in the world. Starts with

MARVIN

Um. Are you gonna ask me something, doctor?

and ends with

THERAPIST

Start the new medicine right away, OK?

p22-24: Marvin calls his lost cell phone from a pay phone and speaks with the woman who has it. He does everything he can to get her to give it back.  Starts with

WOMAN

Hello?

and ends with

MARVIN

Hello?
Hello?
HELLO?

p.55-58: Marvin finds out the truth about the Woman, that she was a con artist, who used him but not as horribly as she could have. Starts with

WOMAN

Marvin, you had me worried sick. I’ve been calling for hours.

and ends with

WOMAN

Marvin?
Marvin?
MARVIN!
Shit.

 

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

Claudia, l. R. (2007, Sep 12). Must check this out! eskimos speak spam! who knew? New York Times, p.E4.

Stasio, M. (2007, Sep 17-23). The Private Lives of Eskimos, Variety, p.53.

 

Lizards – Megan Mostyn-Brown

Originally produced at the University of Minnesota’s Guthrie Theatre on April 11, 2007.

 

Original Cast:

Victor Ricardo Vazquez
Jesse John Skelley
Phoebe Valeri Mudek
Ronnie Amanda Fuller
Sebastian Jake Ford
Mallory Caroline Cooney

 

Director:  Josh Hecht

 

Phoebe:  23, married, Valium addict, lost
Jesse:  23, Phoebe’s husband, passive aggressive, a fixer
Mallory:  26, shy, nervous, making a big change
Sebastian:  25, laid back, pothead, thinks he’s a loser
Ronnie:  25, Punk, sassy, former Jersey girl, in love with Sebastian
Victor:  28, nervous, sweet, making a big change

 

Publication:  Mostyn-Brown, Megan. Lizards. New York:  Samuel French, 2007. Drama Library Stacks PS3613. O788 L59 2007.

 

Setting:  Various locations in New York City and the Bronx

Language:  Contemporary

RONNIE

Yes but I don’t have a fancy pants art history degree. In fact I don’t have a degree at all. And for the record, nobody expected anything more from me than managing the Sunglass Hut at the Short Hills Mall. So really my situation is a big step up for my lack of education and trashy Jersey background.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   Phoebe was saved from a near-drowning by an acquaintance and has spiraled into a drug-aided depression, turning away from her husband Jesse and towards her rescuer Sebastian.  Victor loses his job as a science teacher and meets Mallory who has been contemplating taking a trip to Rio. Sebastian has broken up with his girlfriend and is unaware that his friend Ronnie suffers from an unrequited love for him. They all teeter on the brink of change, uncertain of the path they must take to find happiness and fulfillment. Will they, like some lizards, adapt to their surroundings? break off a symbolic tail to escape? or regenerate a lost limb in order to survive?

 

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.7-9:  Victor deals with his rowdy class, giving a talk on reptiles.  He discovers at the end of the lesson that the class gecko Jimmy is dead.  Starts with

VICTOR

Okay…okay settle down… I said settle down… yes Shanikwa I know it is hot I opened the windows that’s the best I can do… now everyone take out your notebooks and a pencil… Daytwon put away your makers and take out a pencil… a pencil Daytwon not a pen… thank you… now today we are going to continue our lesson on lizards… Yesterday we learned that lizards are what? Anyone? Anyone?

and ends with

VICTOR

Yes Stasia the Komodo dragon may attack people but there are none of them in the Bronx so you have nothing to worry about…now where was I? I don’t remember and we only have five minutes left so I’ll leave you with this lizards regenerate…

[lines cut]

Uggh…just…just draw in your notebooks until the music teacher arrives or something…Fredrick bring me Jimmy…no Jimmy the gecko…it’s time to feed him…he’s not what? He’s not moving?

p.31-32:  Sebastian visits Phoebe at her job at Whole Foods.  She asks him to tell her the story of how he saved her from drowning.  Starts with

SEBASTIAN

Okay… ummm… It was cloudy so there was barely anyone at the beach. In fact we were going to go to Atlantic City instead but Ronnie really wanted to swim and it wasn’t training so we drove to Sea Isle. We stopped at that liquor store off the Parkway with that guy who looked like he was in ZZ Top. And when we got to the beach Victor mixed cocktails. [lines cut] Ronnie and Jesse stood up. And then I ran in. Swam and grabbed you from behind pulling you off of Victor. Holding you. The lifeguard was there too by that time. He gave you a paddle board and the four of us swam to shore. I helped you to the blanket while Victor threw up salt water and gin. Ronnie started crying and Jesse held you.

p.44-45:  Jesse confesses his fears about his wife Phoebe and talks about their honeymoon to Loch Ness.  Starts with

JESSE

She’s disappeared…not literally… I mean she’s still at home… a human being sitting there… but she’s gone… the Phoebe I knew is gone… inside I guess… I mean I look at her… into her fuckin’ eyes and there’s nothing there… I mean there’s something there but nothing I recognize… and I keep thinking about our honeymoon… [lines cut] anyway I guess I just keep hoping that happens with Phoebe, cuz she’s lost… and I can’t seem to find her there… in all that denseness beneath her eyes… and I hope whatever it is comes to the surface… I just want her to come to the surface…

p.46-47:  Sebastian calls his ex-girlfriend on the phone. Starts with

SEBASTIAN

Hey Sheryl… it’s me Sebastian… I know… I know you told me not to call you… which is probably why you’re not picking up… or maybe you’re not home… but I’d like to think that you are there sitting on your pink couch listening to this- Dammit.

[lines cut]

Me again… I think you’re answering machine is fucked- anyway what I want you to know is that I saved this this girl at the beach a few months ago… She was drowning and I swam out and I saved her… [lines cut] I’m not just a waste of space… and I just want you to think about that because I don’t think Phil the party promoter or whatever his fucking name is woulda done something like I did… cool… ummm call me back… Bye….

 

Representative Scenes: 

p.15-17: Mallory visits a travel agency to book a trip to Rio. Jesse tries to talk her out of buying a one-way ticket. Starts with

JESSE

Hello Ms. Daniels. I’m Jesse.

and ends with

MALLORY

Yeah.

p.31-35: Phoebe and Sebastian have been meeting to talk. During one of their talks, Phoebe asks Sebastian to tell her the story of how he saved her from drowning. After he tells her the story, Phoebe realizes that her husband didn’t try to save her from drowning but Sebastian did.  In her desperation, she decides to make a play for him. He tries to convince her that she has good things in her life and, in the end, rejects her.  Starts with

PHOEBE

(As if realizing it for the first time.) But he didn’t jump in.

and ends with

SEBASTIAN

Fuck me.

p.57-60: Phoebe and Jesse argue and festering resentments surface. Phoebe reveals her resentment of Jesse because he was always there when she wanted to do things on her own. She tells Jesse that she wants to end things between them. Then, despite that, she seems surprised when he tells her to go. Starts with

PHOEBE

I don’t want this anymore.

and ends with

JESSE

Try swimming. You seem to have luck figuring your life out there.

The Secret Lives of Losers – Megan Mostyn-Brown

 

Originally produced as part of the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s “Festival of N.O.W.” on February 10, 2006.

Original Cast:

Neely Anna Safer
Ale TJ Chasteen
Sylvia Angela Cristantello
DJ Patrick Du Laney
Nelson Jason Reynolds


Director
:  Meredith McDonough

 

Neely:  19, works at Amoco, sarcastic, lost
Alex:  19, small time drug dealer, Neely’s best friend
Sylvia:  19, overly friendly, small town girl, Alex’s new interest
DJ:  29, copy from Chicago, overweight
Nelson:  15-17, Neely’s brother, crystal meth addict, sweet but out of control
Sophia:  Alex’s baby, should be a doll in a car seat
Jessica:  Alex’s ex-girlfriend, voiceover

 

Publication:  Mostyn-Brown, Megan. The Secret Lives of Losers. New York:  Samuel French, 2007. Drama Library Stacks PS3613. O788 S4 2007.

 

Setting:  Small town Illinois, the present

Language:  Contemporary

NEELY

And Jessica’s cousin, the lesbo, she fucked Alex Scarandado, the guy with the cleft chin who was on the wrestling team, in the parking lot at 31 Flavors on Saturday and now she’s questioning her sexuality once again.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   Neely is a 19-year-old high school graduate who works at an Amoco gas station and takes care of her younger brother Nelson–a crystal meth addict who loves “Wheel of Fortune”–now that their mother has left to find herself in exotic lands.  Neely’s best friend is Alex, a small town drug addict taking care of a baby he does not want while waiting for the baby’s mama to return from college; he can’t admit to himself that she has abandoned her baby and him. Into Neely’s dead-end world comes DJ, a cop from Chicago, escaping heartbreak in his past, to challenge her to do something about her future.  The characters in the play are, as the title suggests, losers, people left behind while everyone else goes to college or joins the military or does something to get out of their particular nowheresville.  If you’re looking for an uplifting, satisfying ending, this play doesn’t provide it.  Sometimes people are so damaged they can only make incremental changes, and those changes aren’t necessarily positive.

 

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.70-71:  Neely confesses to DJ why she began stealing things.  You can cut DJ’s lines to create the monologue.  Starts with

NEELY

Okay so ummm… Right after my mom left Mrs. Finklestein baked us a ziti… She’s one of the neighborhood ladies without husbands or children who does that, bakes for us because we have a bad situation and I thank her fer the ziti and she smiles at me like I know she’s gonna go to her Stitch n’ Bitch meeting the next day and talk about how sad we are and she turns her back and I took it.

and ends with

NEELY

No, You know, I always felt like- Naw I- I always hoped that when I died they’d open my closet and everyone’d find all their lost shit and this flood of great memories will wash over them as they remember how special these things were to them and in the midst of it they’d umm… think of me and what they have and not what I don’t have.

 

Representative Scenes: 

p.12-15: Neely confronts Nelson about taking off from school and gets him to promise not to cut back on the crystal meth and stay the entire day in school. He’s watching “Wheel of Fortune”. Starts with

NELSON

(To the television.) Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit you are such a fuckin’ dumbass Dave from Utah you shoulda guessed fuckin’ “P”…

and ends with

NELSON

Yeah, yeah promise with a big “P”. No trouble. Later. Later skater.

p.31-33: DJ and Neely go to the park after having dinner on their first date. DJ gives her a crayfish in a terrarium as a gift because he says it reminded him of her. Starts with

NEELY

Thanks fer the meal.

and ends with

DJ

Thanks.

p.66-68: Neely has lost her job at the gas station for stealing. Nelson has gotten the closet open where she hid all the things she’s stolen from neighbors. She goes up on Alex’s roof to think. She and Alex talk and she confesses that she had always thought they’d end up together. Alex shuts her down using his baby and Jessica, the baby’s mama, as an excuse and Neely strikes back. At the end of the scene Alex hears Jessica on the answering machine and goes into the house. Neely takes Sophie and leaves. Starts with

NEELY

Do you even love Sophie?

and ends with

ALEX

She apologized Neely. I told you. She said she’s comin’ tomorrow if she doesn’t have to work on a project- but I feel like tomorrow’s gonna be the day- (Realizes he is alone.) Neely!

 

2401 Objects-Written by Hannah Barker, Lewis Hetherington & Liam Jarvis. Devised by Analogue.

hippocampusFirst performed at the Oldenburgisches Staatstheater, Germany on June 17, 2011.  UK premiere was at Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh on August 3, 2011.

Original Cast:

Dr. Jacopo Annese/Henry Molaison                       Sebastien Lawson
Patient HM/Father                                                     Pieter Lawman
Nurse/Lauren/Mother                                               Melody Grove

Directors:  Liam Jarvis and Hannah Barker
Set Designer:  Anike Sedello
Lighting Designer:  Alexander Fleischer
Sound Designer:  Alexander Garfath
Multimedia Designer:  Thor Hayton
Stage Manager:  Helen Mugridge

Publication:  Barker, Hannah.   2401 Objects.  Oberon Modern Plays, 2011.  Drama Library PR6102.A76335 A615 2011.

 

Setting:  The play takes place in Hartford, Connecticut, 1953; the Bickford Health Centre, Connecticut from 1988-2008; and at The Brain Observatory, San Diego, 2011.

Language:  Contemporary

FATHER

No.  No Henry.  No.  Fine.  We’ll do nothing.  That’s right.  We’ll sit here and do nothing as we always do.  Sit here and do nothing and and just… Just quietly disappoint each other for the rest of our lives.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   In 1953, Henry Molaison, an epileptic, wakes up from an experimental surgery in which his hippocampus has been removed, without any recollection of the last two years of his life or the ability to form new memories.  In 2009, Dr. Jacopo Annese dissects his brain live on the internet and cuts it into 2401 slices.  The play explores his life before and after the surgery.

 

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

The only character who has any monologues in 2401 Objects is Dr. Annese, who also plays Henry as a young man.

p.42-43:  Dr. Annese explaining how Dr. Scoville performed the experimental surgery on Henry.  Comes from a much longer monologue. 

DR. ANNESE

First he had to pull down the skin from Henry’s forehead. Then, he uses a hole saw—the type you wind by hand—to cut through the skull.  Just above one of the eye sockets, he grinds through the bone and removes a disc of about three centimeters in diameter. He repeats this procedure above the other eye. Two holes. Now he can see the brain.

 [Lines cut]

He snaps a few tiny metal clips onto the frayed lesion to seal it, and then does as good a job as he can putting Henry’s head back as it was.   

p.60-61:  Dr. Annese explaining what the hippocampii do. Long monologue, can be edited.

DR. ANNESE

Your thumbs rest just on top of your ears, and the heel of your hand is sort of on your forehead. There you’ve got the idea.

And you can feel bone case underneath your hands.  And under that, your brain. [Lines cut] And about five centimeters travelling straight in from where your thumbs are, is where your hippocampii live.

[Lines cut]

You see Henry, Patient HM. There is a memory there. And then, that memory, is gone.

 

Representative Scenes: 

p. 24-27:  Henry meets Lauren, who lives next door and is home from college for the summer. Henry, because of his condition, can’t live on his own or work or go to school anymore. Starts with

LAUREN

Hello.

and ends with

HENRY

Yes. Yeah. Bye. Yes.

p.38-40:  HM is watching To Have and Have Not in the hospital when the Nurse arrives to see what he wants for breakfast.  Since HM can’t make new memories, they continually have the same exchanges over and over again throughout the scene.  Starts with

NURSE

Really?

and ends with

NURSE

That’s lovely. Now. I’ll get you your breakfast.

 

 

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

Barnett, L. (2011, Aug 19). Scientific odyssey in memory of an amnesiac. The Daily Telegraph, pp. 32.

Hutera, D. (2011, July 29). Theatre. The Times (London), pp. 13.

Jones, A. (2011, Aug 25). Amnesiac’s story lingers in the memory. Independent Extra, pp. 16.

McMillan, J. (2011, Aug 11). Review:  2401 objects/what remains. The Scotsman, pp. 13.

 

Aalst – Duncan McLean from original texts by Pol Heyvaert and Dimitri Verhulst

aalst

New Scottish version first performed at Tramway, Glasgow, on Wednesday March 21, 2007.

Original Cast:

Cathy Delaney                 Kate Dickie
Michael Delaney
             David McKay
Voice (offstage)                Gary Lewis

Director:  Pol Heyvaert
Assistant Director:  David Overrend
Sound Engineer:  Matthew Padden
Stage Manager:  Paul Claydon

Publication:  McLean, Duncan. Aalst. Methuen Drama, 2007. Drama Library PR6063.A2486 A64 2007.

Setting:  The play is performed on a bare stage with the two actors seated in chairs with microphones in front of them.

Language:  Contemporary

CATHY

He slapped me in the face, burnt me with cigarettes, with a razor he… carved my legs up. And as well, in my pubic hair, he wrote the letter M.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   In January 1999, a Belgian couple checked into a motel with their two children, aged seven and three months.  A week later, the children were found dead in the room.  The three-month-old girl had been suffocated and the seven-year-old boy had been stabbed with a pair of scissors.  The parents were arrested and a Belgian judge sentenced them to life in prison.  The play, transplanted to Scotland, is a fictionalized examination of the parents, now named Cathy and Michael Delaney, which moves beyond the bare facts of the case in order to try to understand how two young people who appear to be, on the surface, non-violent losers could murder their own children. The play refuses to see them as victims, despite their history of childhood abuse, but it doesn’t outright condemn them for their heinous actions.

 

 

 

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.26-27:  Cathy tells the Voice what happened the night her son, Matthew, was killed.  Very long monologue, can be edited. 

CATHY

I went downstairs for a packet of cigarettes, and then I lay on the bed… I woke up. I heard noises in the street outside— traffic, singing— and then I thought:  it’s true, I’m not at home, we’re in a hotel room.

[Lines cut]

My father always used to light a cigarette just after he had come inside me. And I’d look at him, lying on his back, slowly blowing smoke at the ceiling. Smoking is a form of sighing. I was twelve when I started smoking, and I smoked my first cigarettes exactly like my dad did. I blew the smoke out just like him.

‘If our Matthew gets a bit older, he’ll end up a smoker too.’ That’s what I was thinking then.

p.27-28:  Michael tries to explain why they killed their kids. Long monologue, can be edited.

MICHAEL

What were we supposed to do? Every parent wants the best for their kid. When I was a wee boy, my mother used to slap me in the face, and straight after she’d say, ‘That’s cos I love you.’ I’m telling you, every parent wants the best for their kid.

[Lines cut]

There aren’t many things I know for sure, but one thing I do know is: no one will ever put any of my kids in a home. Over my dead body.

What were we supposed to do? We wiped out our kids. Don’t tell me we didn’t want the best for them.

 

 

 

Representative Scenes: 

p. 18-22:  The Voice interrogates Michael about the death of his infant daughter, Ellie. Starts with

VOICE

Was she asleep, or was she crying, or…?

and ends with

MICHAEL

Yes, and then I told her she was a child murderer!

p.46-48:  Cathy and Michael offer up last defenses for their actions.  Starts with

CATHY

I’ve been hurt too! It’s strange, isn’t it, sir, we were never taught anything about ‘life’ at school. Never. All you got was: ‘What’s the capital of Peru?’

and ends with

CATHY

I would like to say that I miss my children very much and that I’m very sorry about what happened. And that I wish I could turn the clock back, because what we did was not exactly brilliant.

 

 

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

Brown, M. (2007, Mar 26). Staccato descent into murder. The Daily Telegraph, pp. 029.

Cooper, N. (2007, Mar 26). Theatre aalst, tramway, galway 4/5. The Herald, pp. 18. R

Gardner, L. (2007, Mar 17). The guide: Theatre: Aalst glasgow. The Guardian, pp. 39.

Gough, S. (2008, Feb 2). Monster couple a profound act. The Courier Mail (Australia), pp. 50.

Hallett, B. (2008, Jan 1). How to remake a killing; theatre. Sydney Morning Herald, pp. 27.

Harrowing look at human cruelty. (2008, Jan 24). Canberra Times, pp. 8.

Koenig, R. (2007, Apr 23). A murder mystery without motivation ; theatre ++ AALST ++ soho theatre LONDON. The Independent, pp. 1.

Marlowe, S. (2007, Apr 23). Aalst. The Times, pp. 17.

McMillan, J. (2007, Mar 30). The death of innocence:  Is there such a thing as outright evil? This infanticide drama doesn’t provide an answer, but it is certainly a highly compelling way of asking the question. The Scotsman, pp. 14.

Smith, G. (2007, Dec 21). Shedding light on dark crime:  Sydney festival 2008. The Daily Telegraph (Australia), pp.72.

Turpin, A. (2007, Mar 18). When the underclass kills children. The Sunday Times, pp. 7.

Ditch – Beth Steel

ditch

London opening at The Old Vic Tunnels on May 13, 2010.

Original Cast:

Mrs. Peel (58-years old)            Dearblha Molloy
Megan (20-years old)                 Matti Houghton
Burns (early 50s)                        Danny Webb
Bug (Late 30s)                            Paul Rattray
Turner (Late 30s)                       Craig Conway
James (20-years old)                  Gethin Anthony

Director:  Richard Twyman
Design:  takis
Lighting:  Matt Prentice
Sound:
  Christopher Shutt
Music:  Tom Mills

Publication:  Steel, Beth. Ditch. Methuen Drama, 2010. Drama Library PR6119. T437 S74 2010.

Setting:  The Peak District (central and northern England); the future.

Language:  Some regional dialect and lingo

TURNER

They hole up in ’em before makin’ their way just north a’ there to the Pennine Way, leads all the way up to the Scottish border. Most a’ the time that’s where the cunts a’ headin’, Scotland.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   In the future, most of Britain is underwater; civilization is on its last legs before a global war;  the British government has become a fascist regime already at war in Venezuela; women’s reproductive  rights are non-existent; and bands of Security men patrol the countryside looking for Illegals—mostly pregnant women—since pregnancy is illegal—who are trying to escape the country. Against this backdrop, Megan and James meet at a rural outpost she helps an older woman maintain for the men stationed there.  Although the outlook for the future is bleak—and details about the present a bit murky in the script—the people of the outpost fight to restore some semblance of a society and connect with one another on a basic human level.  The play works best in those intimate moments between two people:  two soldiers trying to plan a better future, two young lovers connecting for the first time, two older persons trying to find happiness in a world gone mad.

 

 

 

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.40-41:  James tells Megan how he and his father used to attend protest meetings after things fell apart, but that gradually they stopped going for fear of Security men breaking up the meetings;  and now, he’s Security, and he’s been breaking up meetings like that. 

JAMES

Sat there listenin’ mostly s’what I done.  Reminded me a’ when I used to go meetin’s with my dad. It been after the Breakdown that. There’d be about fifty a’ us, standin’ or sittin’ in  pokey terrace. I just been a kid, been there listenin’.  [Lines cut] This past year I been the one who’s breakin’ up meetin’s… they still have ’em in terraces, but they younger who go to ’em… aint been any less a’ ’em each time we went back… I’m talkin’ again… shouldn’t get used to it.

p.41:  Megan tells James about the time Mrs. Peel planted rhubarb and made rhubarb juice out of it, and the lesson Megan learned about enjoying things while they last and not crying when they’re gone.

MEGAN

When I planted the rhubarb Mrs Peel told me she was gonna make a rhubarb juice with it when it was ready. I never had rhubarb juice before but she told me it’s like apple juice but better and I really like apple juice.  [Lines cut] Rhubarb’s gonna be ready next month and Mrs Peel promised me she gonna make juice with it. When it’s gone it’s gone. I know that now. I just have to enjoy it whilst its there.

p.91:  Megan recalls a time when Mrs. Peel killed and cooked a hare that still seemed to be alive. Short monologue.

MEGAN

There been a time when you and me were out here workin’, and you spotted a hair munchin’   away at your salad leaves. You snuck up behind and grabbed hold a’ it. [Lines cut] I couldn’t stop lookin’ at them chunks cause they were movin’. Jitterin’, like they were cold or something’. You put the heat on ’em and I say to you: them chunks are still alive! You say: they dead they just don’t know it yet.

Beat.

I feel like I’m alive and I just don’t know it yet.

 

 

Representative Scenes: 

p. 26-29:  Megan and James hang out in the stables getting to know one another.  This is part of a longer scene and can be either lengthened or shortened.  Burns’ and Megan’s and James’ lines near the end can be cut.  Starts with

MEGAN

How much schoolin’ you had?

[BURNS

(Offstage.) James?

JAMES

I gotta go.

MEGAN

He’s just callin’ he aint comin’ here.

BURNS

(Offstage.) James?]

and ends with

MEGAN

S’all same to me.

p.51-54:  James and Megan deal with the news that he’s being sent to the front in Argentina.  Starts with

JAMES

Dint know if you were gonna come.

and ends with

MEGAN

Ssshh. Want you to make love to me.

 

 

 

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

Brown, G. (2010, May 30). No lights at the end of this tunnel. Mail on Sunday, pp. 23.

Clapp, S. (2010, May 23). Review:  Critics:  Theatre:  A serious example of tunnel vision:  Life in post-apocalypse britain is being played out under waterloo station:  Ditch the old vic tunnels , London SE1: Marine Parade The Old Market, Brighton. The Observer, pp. 39.

Gardner, L. (2010, Jun 2). Review:  Theatre:  Ditch old vic tunnels, London 3/5. The Guardian, pp. 34.

Hart, C. (2010, May 23). The old vic’s ditch has a splendidly gloomy setting, but the apocalyptic vision fails to thrill. The Sunday Times, pp. 21.

Hemming, S. (2010, May 21). Ditch. Financial Times, pp. 13.

Lukowski, A. (2010, May 27). Theatre:  Reviews:  Ditch. Time Out, pp. 116.

Marlowe, S. (2010, May 24). Ditch; Theatre. The Times, pp. 52.

Spencer, C. (2010, May 21). A chilling vision of the future. The Daily Telegraph, pp. 33.

Taylor, P. (2010, May 28). Theatre:  Ditch old vic tunnels, London. Independent Extra, pp. 16.

 

After. – Chad Beckim

after

First produced by the Partial Comfort Productions at The Wild Project in New York, September 2011.

Original Cast:

Susie (Asian, early 30s)                                              Jackie Chung
Chap (Any ethnicity, 40s-50s)                                     Andrew Garman
Monty (Latino, mid 30s)                                              Alfredo Narciso
Liz (Monty’s sister, early 30s)                                     Maria-Christina Oliveras
Warren (Indian, early 30s)                                           Debargo Sanyal
Eddie (Latin, mid to late 30s)                                      Jeff Wilburn

Director:  Stephen Brackett
Scenic Design:  Jason Simms
Costume Design:  Whitney Locher
Lighting Design:  Gregg Goff
Sound Design:  Daniel Kluger
Fight Director:  David Anzuelo
Dramaturg:  John M. Baker
Stage Manager:  Tara M. Nachtigall

Publication:  Beckim, Chad. After. Samuel French, 2012. Drama Library PS3602. E327 A38 2012.

Setting:  Various locations

Language:  Contemporary

WARREN

A little too slim for me. I like ’em thicker than that, but she’s definitely cute. And she definitely likes you. No woman initiates contact like that with a man without liking him. Unless she’s a prostitute.

Genre/Style:  Drama but with comic moments that arise out of character

Plot:  DNA evidence has just exonerated Monty and he is released from prison after seventeen years.  He now has to adjust to life on the outside after having spent half of his life incarcerated. Although the play covers the standard ex-con just released from prison and is now coping with life on the outside moments, by looking at those moments in a fresh way, the playwright avoids stereotypes and clichés.  However, an act of violence near the end of the play introduces a new character who isn’t really germane to Monty’s growth and the play slips a little into melodramatic territory.

 

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.22-23:  Susie explains why she doesn’t like Axe guys. 

SUSIE

I don’t get that, you know? Like, you’ll see these good looking guys, well groomed, well maintained, together, the kind of guy that you see and secretly think, “He looks like a nice guy to talk to,” only then they walk past you and they smell like they just got stuck in a cologne thunderstorm. [Lines cut]

I’m sorry. I talk too much. I say too much dumb stuff. And I forced that toothbrush on you. I’m working on it, but it’s… The deodorant aisle is that way. (She points.) Two aisles down.

p.26:  Warren bitches to Monty about the doggy day care business he owns and operates.

WARREN

Yep. We chauffeur dogs here. I can’t get over that. I understand the brushing and washing and feeding and all that. But chauffeuring? Like they’re kids coming home from a field trip?

[Lines cut]

When I was a kid we had a yellow lab. Lived outside. Ate dry food—and take it from me? Avoid that wet stuff, dude. That wet stuff makes them shit pudding. But my dog. Didn’t even need to be chained up. Came and went as he pleased. And he seemed perfectly happy-lived until he was thirteen, I think.

p.41:  Warren tells Monty how his dad got the nickname, Destroyer of lives.

WARREN

My father really is the destroyer of lives, though. That was his nickname for himself when I was a child.

I got this record—”Shamu and Friends”—for my birthday one year? It was all of the characters from “Seaworld” singing songs about the sea and about the environment. [Lines cut]  And I wouldn’t talk to him for a week, and finally a week later my mom came home with a new record and hands it to me, and it’s “Sigmund the Sea Monster,” which is not even nearly the same thing, and she’s like, “This is from your father and me.” And when I told her that it wasn’t the same one, my father laughed and said, “I am the destroyer of lives.” Because he is.

p. 61-62:  (This monologue is fairly long, perhaps two minutes long or more in its entirety.)  Monty laments the death of the one of the service dogs he trained in prison and the loss of his life, and rages about the state’s offer to pay him restitution and the apology the victim of the rape he was accused of wants to make.  [Chap’s line can be cut.]

MONTY

Ripley was a good dog, man.

[CHAP

She was.]

MONTY

A good dog. No, a great fucking dog. The best. I taught her to sit. I taught her to stay. I taught her to lie down. I taught her to shake—even though I wasn’t supposed to. I taught her to nudge someone’s hand when they were scared or angry or anxious or just, just shut the fuck down. Me. I did that.

[Lines cut.]

The only fucking good thing I ever did is gone, and you come here telling me that the good news is that they want to pay me for missing my prom and college and keg parties and my first apartment?

Fuck them.

Fuck the dude that killed my dog.

And fuck Laura Miller.

(A long beat. He turns to the window.)

Show yourself out, man.

 

Representative Scenes:  

p. 39-41:  Monty confesses to Susie why he’s never asked a girl out or gone shopping or tied a tie.  Starts with

MONTY

I lied to you.

and ends with

SUSIE

Huh? Of course. I just—I thought I saw someone I knew. (She grabs the basket and looks at the list.) Okay. First up. Deodorant.

p. 16-18: Monty receives a visit from the chaplain from the prison and explains for the first time how it feels to be outside.  Starts with

CHAP

You’re sleepwalking?

and ends with

CHAP

I know.

 

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. (2011, Sep 22). After the hard life of prison comes the hard life of the outside world. New York Times.

Jones, C. (2012, Sep 07). Plumbing depths of bittersweet freedom. Chicago Tribune.

Soloski, A. (2011, Sep 28). Sprung awakening. [open access] The Village Voice.

Vincentelli, E. (2011, Sep 22). Leaves Nice ‘After’-Glow. New York Post.