Beachy Head – Hannah Barker, Lewis Hetherington, Liam Jarvis, Emma Jowett, and Dan Rebellato

beachyhead

Originally produced by Analogue at South Hill Park on July 21, 2010 prior to a 4-week run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  A revised version was first performed on February 2, 2011 at the Drum Theatre, Theatre Royal Plymouth.

Original Cast:

Dr. Rachel Sampson                                        Hannah Barker
Stephen 
                                                           Sam Taylor
Amy                                                                    Emma Jowett
Joe                                                                    Lewis Hetherington
Matt                                                                   Dan Tobin

Director:  Liam Jarvis and Hannagh Barker
Original Music:  Simon Slater
Multimedia Design:  Thor Hayton, VI Creative Media
Lighting Design:  Edmund McKay
Sound Design:  Alexander Garfath
Stage Manager:  Simon Wheeler

Publication:  Rebellato, Dan, and Analogue. Beachy Head. Oberon Modern Plays, 2011. Drama Library PR6035.E36 B43 2011

Setting:  Eastbourne District, East Sussex in the South of England; present day.

Language:  Contemporary

AMY

Stephen was very private.

He didn’t share what was in his head.

I think he must have felt very alone.

And maybe on top of that cliff most of all.

It must have felt like the loneliest place on earth.

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   A month has passed since Stephen committed suicide by jumping from the Beachy Head cliffs. His widow, Amy, fights to understand why with the help of a hospital pathologist and two documentary filmmakers, Joe and Matt, who, unbeknownst to Amy, Joe and Matt accidentally filmed Stephen as he leapt to his death.  The play examines the effect one person’s act can have on the lives of the people around them as they struggle to understand what might, in the end, be unknowable.  A large part of the plays theatricality comes from multimedia effects that the text tries to describe, but sometimes it’s still difficult to imagine what’s happening on stage.  However, some of the most evocative images come from the text itself devoid of any stagecraft.  In the end, the play feels like an honest exploration of a difficult subject divorced from melodrama or sensationalism.

 

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.21:  Rachel, a pathologist, explains the statistics of death and suicide in Joe and Matt’s documentary.

RACHEL

People are dying all the time; that’s just how it is. If we were to, what, take on every case, we’d be overwhelmed. Emotionally I mean. Look, the population of the world is let’s say around 6.8 billion.

And around 57 million people die each year. So with 57 million people dying each yar that means someone dies roughly every half a second.

[Lines cut]

One death in around 9000 is a suicide. It’s slightly over that, I forget the exact figure—it’s on the World Health Organisation website. But for the sake of argument let’s say it’s 1 in 9000. So 1 in every 9000 half seconds is a suicide. Which means that, on average, someone will kill themselves in the next hour and a quarter.

p.64:  Rachel is being interviewed for the documentary.

RACHEL

If you find yourself thinking, this is someone’s son, this is someone’s lover, of course you won’t cut them open. You have to appreciate that bodies sometimes  are just bodies. Wherever they were found, whatever they did, whatever their plans and projects, their intimacies, their darkness.  [Lines cut] Sometimes for a second you catch yourself looking at a room of people as populated by a series of organic composites in varying states of decay. But that’s just stuff and we’re not just stuff.

 

Representative Scenes: 

p. 32-34:  Joe and Matt debate whether they should delete the footage of Stephen’s suicide, and in the end, decide not only not to get rid of the footage, but also to make a documentary film about his suicide. Starts with

JOE

                It seems disrespectful somehow.

and ends with

JOE

It could be extraordinary.

p. 60-63:  Joe and Matt argue about when they’re going to tell Amy that they have the footage of Stephen’s jump; Joe is delaying and Matt wants to tell her right away.  Starts with

MATT

Okay, Joe, look at me.

Look at me.

She trusts us.

and ends with

JOE

Are you coming back?

p. 67-70:  Joe tries to get Amy to talk about Stephen’s last moments; Amy finds out about the footage.  Starts with

JOE

                Put yourself there, Amy. Imagine him.

and ends with

JOE

                I’m so sorry.

 

 

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. (2009, Aug 16). A tale of suicide, sadness and life on the edge. The Independent on Sunday, pp.60.

Brown, A. (2009, Aug 23). The fatal attraction of beachy head. Sunday Times, pp. 13.

Controversial play takes a leap of faith.(2011, Mar 19). Western Mail, pp. 37.

Gardner, L. (2009, Aug 10). Review: Unhappy endings laid bare in a chilling show: Edinburgh theatre: Beachy head pleasance dome, edinburgh 4/5. The Guardian, pp.32.

The last eight seconds of a man’s life is a pivotal moment in play.(2011, Jan 28). The Western Morning News, pp. 21.

McMillan, J. (2009, Aug 15). Reviews: Beachy head/ daniel kitson/ suckerville: Finding closure. The Scotsman, pp.13.

Mistakes Madeline Made – Elizabeth Meriwether

mistakes

Originally produced in New York City, April 23, 2006.

Original Cast:

Beth (late 30s to early 40s)                          Colleen Werthmann
Edna (23)                                                       Laura Heisler
Wilson (late 20s)                                           Thomas Sadoski
Buddy (late 20s to early 30s)                        Ian Brennan
Drake/Jake/Blake (20s)                               Brian Henderson

Director:  Evan Cabnet
Set Design:
  Lauren Helpern
Costume Design:
  Jessica Wegener
Lighting Design:  Tyler Micoleau
Sound Design:  Drew Levy
Prop Design:  Faye Armon
Stage Manager:  Hannah Cohen

Publication:  Meriwether, Elizabeth. Mistakes Madeline Made. Dramatists Play Service, 2006. Drama Library PS3613.E756 M57 2006.

Setting:  A basement office in an apartment building in uptown Manhattan, the year 2006.

Language:  Contemporary

BETH

Right. We’re not just buying duplicate sneakers, we’re George’s first line of defense against the whole world! We get in there, we get our hands dirty, we get things done, we buy sneakers, we buy toothpaste, we make sure nothing bad can ever happen to this family. Every day. And I don’t know about you, but I think that’s what life is all about.

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:   Edna, a recent college graduate, works in a basement office as part of a team of personal assistants to a very wealthy family.  Edna, dealing with the death of her brother, a journalist who died reporting in the Middle East, develops Ablutophobia, the fear of bathing.  Although the play flirts with ideas such as the personal becoming the political, complacency in the face of crises, at its heart, it’s really just about a young person trying to make her way in the grown-up world and works best when it tackles that idea without any philosophical or political overlays.  It wants to be a play about Big Ideas, but the structure and the story can’t support the weight of those ideas.  The play also would have worked better without the parade of New York writers Edna sleeps with, who are instantly forgettable.

 

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.22-23:  Wilson tells Edna about his dissertation.  Edna’s lines can be cut. 

WILSON

Leibniz’s perceptual monads. The definition of the soul. Tiny bubbles of soul. (Revving up his engine.) Vrrrooooo… (In a funny mechanical voice.) The soul is the tiniest place that is capable of memory—the soul is any tiny space where multiple moments of time can exist at once. (He snorts.) NEERRRD

[Lines cut]

WILSON

[Lines cut] This is the nature of our power—just by ignoring it, we can kill it… Ffff! Dead… So what do we choose to forget? (A moment.) I don’t know. I don’t have a thesis.

p.24-25:  Buddy, Edna’s brother, has taken up residence in her bathtub after returning to the US from a trip to the Middle East where he reported on the conflict.  Edna’s lines can be cut. Long monologue.

BUDDY

I can’t stay here and have all these little conversations—these little topics, here’s what I think and my ceiling’s been leaking, and what do I want and I love my new cell phone and that’s a picture of my dog, and everyone loves my dog, and do you want to see more pictures of my dog and these little conversations I have to have—I want to kill secretaries. It’s normal. It’s normal, after your first big trip it just takes some time to readjust.

[Lines cut]

BUDDY

[Lines cut]  I know the sound she’d make. And he hits her again and she’s laughing because she loves Derek Jeter, and he hits her again, and blood’s coming out of her mouth, and I opened the  kitchen drawer. And then I closed it. And then I started yelling. I think I started yelling. And I came here. Because I was yelling. I think I was… yelling.

 

 

Representative Scenes: 

p. 7-9:  Beth makes Edna write an email apology to Judith, their employer, because Judith believes Edna didn’t make double-sided copies for her the day before.  Beth also instructs Edna in the proper procedure for making George’s after school snack.  Wilson’s line can be cut. Starts with

BETH

Don’t there seem to be a lot of car bombs? Maybe they should put all the cars in a parking garage instead of leaving them on the street? Or. I don’t know. I’m no expert. God, what a mess.

and ends with

BETH

Right, right. I’m going to say something:  I don’t think you’re ready for snack time yet. But we’re gonna get there and I’m going to make sure we do. ‘Nuff said.

p. 20-22:  Edna and Wilson confess their hatred of Beth and destroy handfuls of handiwipes which leads Wilson to tell Edna a story about a woman he met on an airplane whose nephew was in the Armenian army and wanted her to send him handiwipes.  Starts with

WILSON

Tweet, tweet!  (Wilson runs in. Edna is caught with piles of handiwipes in her fists.)

and ends with

EDNA

Yeah, I have that.

p. 23-25:  Edna confronts Buddy about his Ablutophobia and he tells her why he’s been staying in her bathtub.  Starts with

BUDDY

Look at us! We’re a country of babies and secretaries–

and ends with

BUDDY

Yeah?

 

 

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

Gates, A. (2006, Nov 12). Young heroines, at work and at play. New York Times, pp.CT11.

MacDonald, S. (2008, Aug 07). A polished glimpse of life’s dirty details. Boston Globe, pp.D7.

Metz, N. (2012, Oct 11). Neo-futurists’ ’44 plays’ connects presidents; uneven ‘mistakes madeline made’. McClatchy – Tribune Business News.

Sanchez, A. (2008, Oct 05). ‘Madeline’ decries complacency. Albuquerque Journal, pp.F3.

Zinoman, J. (2006, Apr 25). Romance finds the lovable weirdo. New York Times, pp.E5.

Hot Mess – Ella Hickson

hotmess

First performed at the Hawke & Hunter Below Stairs Nightclub, Edinburgh, on August 6, 2010, as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Original Cast:

Twitch             Gwendolen Chatfield
Polo                 Michael Whitham
Jacks               Kerri Hall
Billy                 Solomon Mousley

Director: Ella Hickson

Twitch: Twenty-five, gamine—Polo’s twin sister
Polo: Twenty-five, cool and caustic—Twitch’s twin brother
Jacks: Twenty-six, well-tanned and big-breasted
Billy: Twenty-four, American, good-looking

Publication: Hickson, Ella. Precious Little Talent & Hot Mess. Nick Hern Books, 1011. Drama Library PR6108.I32 P74 2011.

Setting: Hayling Island, an island in the Solent, the strait that separates England from the Isle of Wright; the present

Language: Contemporary and graphic at times, but rich and poetic ; a few English slang terms but nothing that impedes understanding

POLO

Come on then, Jaqueline! Get some bloody crotch-swatches out. It’s not a celebration unless half the island can see your ovaries!

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  Polo and Twitch are twins who were born with only one heart between them; the physician gave it to Twitch, so she can’t stop falling in love and Polo was left heartless:  a fitting metaphor for the split between excessive romanticism and cynicism.  Over the years Twitch has had a series of unhappy relationships and horrible things keep happening to the boys and men she falls in love with.  The play, which unfolds like a peculiar thriller, does not make clear who is responsible for the horrible things happening:  Twitch or Polo.  Rather than providing any answers about anything:  either the mystery of the deaths or whether it’s better to love openly or to keep your heart to yourself, the playwright seems more interested in just exploring ideas without coming to any conclusions.

 

 

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. 111:  Polo tells the story of how the first boy who ever made out with Twitch ended up being electrocuted the night of the school disco.  

POLO

Peter Harris, sixteen years old, behind the bike shed of the Island Academy. It was the day before the school disco. I’d spent two weeks looking for the right dress for you, the right shoes, the right hairband.

[Lines cut]

–two hundred and thirty volts, saw our Petey flying through the air—quite the spectacle, turned his hair into the short and curlies that he’d so enjoyed exploring the day before. And try as they might, they just couldn’t make it straight again.

p. 129:  Polo tells the story of Nathan Harvey, a college boy who broke Twitch’s heart and ended up scalding his foot in the bath.  

POLO

Nathan Harvey, university. No place for someone with a heart like Twitch’s. There was no fresher fresher; she was a certified first-timer. Nathan, poor schmuck, had no idea what he was unlocking.  [Lines cut]

The sole of his right foot:  scalded, scarred, third-degree. Freak accident, should have tested it with his toe, no one knows how it happened—but Nathan Harvey never walked the same again.

p.136:  Jacks spies on her father who has just gotten a blow-job; the woman who gave it to him has scraped her knee.

JACKS

There’s a trickle of blood running right the way down the front of her leg. Dad’s licking the corner of a napkin, bends down and wipes her knee. She must have been kneeling on some glass or something.   [Lines cut]

Mum always says you can’t afford to have bare legs after thirty. Mum says he’ll still be hers, whatever happens. Doesn’t matter how long it is or who he’s with—says she’ll always be his wife and he’ll always be her husband. She says there’s honour in it. She’s a mug, my mum.

p.140:  Twitch tells Polo about how she found Billy lying at the edge of the sea, presumably dead; this is after Billy has made it clear to Twitch that he’s not interested in love.

TWITCH

His eyes are still, in the dark all their colour has gone. The moon reflects in a single spot in each one, like someone’s frozen stars into the middle of marbles. I slide my hand into his palm and it’s cold. [Lines cut] It looks like half his body is dancing. I can’t move him, he’s too heavy, it’s like he’s full of sand. I lay my head on his chest and I can hear the stones moving beneath him. I put my ear to his lips but the oly thing moving is the sea.

 

 

Representative Scenes:  The play is comprised of short scenes, usually with two characters, so there are a lot of scenes to choose from.

p. 85-87:  Polo and Twitch recount the circumstances of their birth.  Starts with

POLO

They didn’t know that they were in for a duo.

and ends with

TWITCH

Love.

p. 90-93:  Polo returns to the island after being away for a year.  Starts with

JACKS

Pooooolooooooooooo!

and ends with

POLO

(with aggression). Neon cunting whore!

Silence descends for several seconds.

Come on! It’s fucking party time!

p.105-108:  Polo and Twitch’s reunion.  Starts with

TWITCH

Hello, Polo.

and ends with

POLO

(jolts his head away, they do not touch). Come on!

p.123-126:  Twitch confesses to Billy that she loves him.  Starts with

TWITCH

I get very—attached. I have trouble— letting go.

and ends with

BILLY

Twitch, I’m leaving.

 

 

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

Gardner, Lyn. (2010, Friday 13). Hot mess. [open access] The Guardian.

Jones, Alice. (2010, August 11). Hot mess, hawke & hunter. [open access] The Independent.

McMillan, J. (2010, Aug 28). Review: Hot mess. The Scotsman.

Rx – Kate Fodor

rx

Received its world premiere at 59E59 Theater in New York City on February 7, 2012.

Original Cast:

Meena Pierotti                                                  Marin Hinkle
Phil Gray                                                            Stephen Kunken
Allison                                                                 Elizabeth Rich
Simon                                                                 Michael Bakkensen
Frances                                                              Marylouise Burke
Richard/Ed                                                         Paul Niebanck

Director:  Ethan McSweeny
Set Design:  Lee Savage
Costume Design:  Andrea Lauer
Lighting Design:  Matthew Richards
Music and Sound Design:
  Lindsay Jones
Stage Manager:  Jennifer Rae Moore

Meena Pierotti:  Managing Editor, Piggeries, American Cattle & Swine Magazine
Phil Gray:  Schmidt Pharma researcher
Allison Hardy:  Phil’s boss
Simon:  Meena’s boss
Frances:  A widow in need of new underwear
Richard:
  Marketing executive
Ed:
  Schmidt Pharma researcher

Publication:  Fodor, Kate. Rx. Dramatists Play Service, 2012. Drama Library PS3606. O36 R8 2012.

Setting:  A Midwestern city; the present

Language:  Contemporary

ALLISON

You know how I know that people don’t hate their jobs because of corporate crap? Because I have been through every piece of corporate crap there is. I could pull a mile of red tape out of my ass and use it to tie a bow around all the forms I have to fill out today, but I love my job, Phil. And that’s just in my blood—

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  The Managing Editor, Piggeries, of American Cattle & Swine Magazine signs up for the clinical trial of a drug to treat workplace depression.  A funny and pointed stab at Big Pharmacy and our drug-dependent culture and its quest for happiness in the form of a pill.  And, surprise, surprise, this play actually made me laugh out loud.

 

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. 10:  Allison addresses the annual Schmidt Pharma stockholders meeting.  

ALLISON

Wow, great presentation. Thanks, Carl. It’s always good to hear about what’s going on in the Cardiology Business Unit. They’ve got a lot of heart over there. For those of you who haven’t heard me speak at a shareholders’ meeting before, I’m Allison Hardy, MBA, team leader of the Neurology Business Unit here at Schmidt Pharma. [Lines cut] I assure you that Intend to personally see to it that all goes well. Now ask me some questions so I can stay up here a little longer. I love it up here.

p. 25:  Phil tells Meena he had a dream inspired by reading her published prose poem on feet.

PHIL

Actually, I had a dream after I read it. I was back in Chicago, in the emergency room at Hartnett Hospital, which is where I did my internship. And I walked out into the waiting area and I looked at all the people.  [Lines cut] But in this dream I was back at Hartnett and the waiting room was really crowded, and everyone in there was barefoot. Like in your prose poem. And somehow seeing their feet, it made me feel some compassion again. It made me want to be of service to them.

p.40-41:  Allison explains why they’re pulling the plug on a heartbreak pill study and how they’re already planning the long-term revenue stream for the workplace depression pill.

ALLISON

Anyway, they’re going to pull the plug on that study and I’ll tell you why: because there’s no long-term revenue stream. Ed Morgan has no foresight. [Lines cut] Oh my God, Phil, are you crying? Stop. Who broke your heart? I’ll wring her neck. Aw, Phil. C’mere. Buck up. (Allison gives Phil a hug with a few good slaps on the back. She notices the vial in his hand.) What’s that?

 

Representative Scenes:  

p. 13-14:  Allison explains to Phil why he can’t take his document hutch (shelf) off his work module (desk).  Starts with

ALLISON

Hey! Phil!

and ends with

ALLISON

I took it off. (She shrugs.) I’m management. My life isn’t easy, Phil, but it really has its satisfactions.

p. 42-44:  Ed accidentally gives Phil a potentially fatal drug they’re developing to cure heartbreak.  Starts with

ED

I’m late.

and ends with

ED

I’m going to call an ambulance. I think that’s the right thing to do.

p.46-48:  Allison tells Phil that the company is pulling the plug on the workplace depression drug and that he’s fired.  Starts with

ALLISON

Oh look. You didn’t die.

and ends with

PHIL

              OK.

 

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. (2012, Feb 08). Looking for a fix: Two atires send up pill-popping & beauty-chopping. New York Daily News.

Feingold, M. (2012, Feb 15). Rx: A prescription for laughter. [open access] The Village Voice.

Isherwood, C. (2012, Feb 08). Dr. feelgood isn’t feeling quite like himself. New York Times.

Vincentelli, E. (2012, Feb 09). Just what doctor ordered. New York Post.

All-American – Julia Brownell

all-american Received its Off-Broadway premiere at the Duke on 42nd Street by Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3 on November 7, 2011.

Original Cast:

Mike Slattery (44)                                            C.J. Wilson
Aaron Slattery (17)                                          Harry Zittel
Natasha Gordon (17)                                      Sarah Steele
Katie Slattery (17)                                           Meredith Forlenza
Beth Slattery (42)                                            Rebecca Creskoff
Jake Myers (17)                                               Brock Harris

Director:  Evan Cabnet
Set Design:  Lee Savage
Costume Design:  Jessica Wegener Shay
Lighting Design:  Japhy Weideman
Sound Design:  Jill BC DuBoff
Stage Manager:  Charles M. Turner III

Publication:  Brownell, Julia. All-American. Dramatists Play Service, 2012. Drama Library PS3602. R745 A44 2012.

Setting:  A town in California

Language:  Contemporary

NATASHA

Nobody comes down during assembly. Except one of the janitors, this guy Eddie, but he’s got slight brain damage, so I just give him a blow job every now and then to keep him quiet. (Aaron pretends not to have a reaction.) Oh my god. You totally thought I was serious, you thought I gave him blow jobs.

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  A former NFL star drives his teenage daughter to become a star high school quarterback while ignoring her twin brother and his wife.  If you like Friday Night Lights, you’ll probably like this play although some of the characterizations are thinner than others and the resolution comes quick and relatively painless, give or take a concussion or two.  Aaron and Natasha are the most fully-realized and interesting characters, and surprisingly, Katie, the female football player, is the least realized character, although she is the titular, All-American.

 

Representative Monologues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety. This play only has a small number of brief monologues.

p. 37-38:  Natasha explains why she tried to kill herself.  Aaron’s line can be cut.  

NATASHA

That’s the thing that’s so fucked up. It was so NOT about Jake Myers. It’s just—ugh—nobody gets it.  I took a bunch of pills and it was lame, okay? [Lines cut] And that actually made me the most sad, that I was sixteen and I should be caring about my stupid football player boyfriend dumping me but instead I was like, worrying about my mom being in a wheelchair. But nobody knew about that, so everybody assumed I like, took all these pills and had to get my stomach pumped because—

[AARON

                –Because Jake Myers dumped you.

NATASHA

Exactly.] Because not being able to give crappy head to Jake Myers anymore is obviously the biggest tragedy of my life.

 

 

Representative Scenes:  

p. 7-9:  Aaron and Natasha meet while cutting a school assembly.  Starts with

NATASHA

Hey. (Aaron nods his head.) You’re new, right? You’re in my calculus class.

and ends with

NATASHA

I thought you didn’t like it when people asked questions.

p. 20-22:  Katie confesses to Aaron that she wants to quit playing football.  Starts with

AARON

I can’t really imagine any world where playing football is fun.

and ends with

KATIE

Yeah.

p.36-38:  Natasha confesses to Aaron the real reason why she tried to kill herself.  Starts with

AARON

I don’t feel like playing.

and ends with

AARON

Yeah. Constantly. (Beat.) But honestly? The fact that you’re… you are smarter and cooler and better than anyone at this school… That’s not something to be embarrassed bout. I think it’s pretty awesome. Because I mean… you say that nobody gets it but… I get it. (Natasha kisses him.) You know, there’s no better turn-on than saying you give crappy head. (Natasha smiles. A beat. They start to make out.)

 

 

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

All-american. (2011). Daily Variety, 313(29), 10.

Isherwood, C. (2011, Nov 08). A gridiron family: The star quarterback is just daddy’s little girl. New York Times.

Sheward, D. (2011). All-american. Back Stage (19305966), 52(45), 40.

Sick – Zayd Dohrn

sickPremiered at Kitchen Dog Theatre in Dallas in May, 2008.

Original Cast:

Sidney Krebs (49)                    James Crawford
Maxine Krebs (46)                    Lisa Hassler
Sarah Krebs (19)                      Martha Harms
Davey Krebs (17)                     Lee Helms
Jim (26)                                      Lee Trull

Director:  Chris Carlos
Set Design:  Michael Sullivan
Costume Design:  Christina Dickson
Sound Design:  Emily K. Young
Props:  Judy Niven and Jen Gilson-Gilliam

Publication:  Dohrn, Zayd. Sick. Samuel French, 2012. Drama Library PS3604. O47 S53 2012.

Setting:  A Safe Haven on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, present day

Language:  Contemporary

SIDNEY

He had to have a schnozz cast in bronze strapped to his head with a leather belt just to show his face in public. But he kept writing until his brain was liquefied. And screwing too, apparently. Dead at 33. It’ll inspire you, I guarantee. Or at least turn you on.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic

Plot:  A poetry professor brings  one of his graduate students home to meet his dysfunctional family of germaphobes.  His wife is obsessed with cleanliness and never leaves home; his son was diagnosed as being allergic to 94 out of 99 household cleansers and never leaves home; and his 19-year-old daughter has just been accepted into a poetry program at St. Johns but isn’t sure if she should go.  Although the play deals with paranoia brought on by Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, it isn’t difficult to see it as a parable for any situation where unreasoning fear takes hold of lives and warps them out of true.  However, the second act feels rather anticlimactic, with the central tension in the play becoming, “Will Sarah break free of her family or not?” once the play reveals the truth of the family’s condition.

 

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. 45:  Sidney explains why he snuck potentially fatal cleaning items, that caused a severe reaction in Davey, into the apartment.  

SIDNEY

I was going through our files, last month… I found our wedding pictures, sitting in an envelope. Probably in there since we moved. Those old prints are full of photo fixer. That’s supposed to be one of Davey’s worst reactors. So I got rid of them. Scanned them at work, and then threw the prints away.  [Lines cut] I started—picking out other things, from the grocery store. Bleach. Oven cleaner. I got more and more excited, with every piece I brought home. Felt like I was—curing him, somehow…

p. 52-53:  Jim tells Sarah how he used to wish his father would abuse him so that he could suffer for his art like all great poets. 

JIM

Please. By the time Keats was my age, he was dead. I’m not blind. I do have a shred of self-perspective. (He chuckles.) You know, when I was little, I used to have this fantasy… I’d pretend my dad hit me… Abused me, somehow. I’d lie awake at night, imagining I had black eyes, busted lips, blood in my mouth, that kind of thing… [Lines cut] And he hit me. Finally. Right across the face. Little back-handed karate chop. I was completely stunned. Too shocked to feel it, even. And we both stood there, quietly. And then he started to cry…

p. 57-58:  Maxine tries to defend her reasons for sheltering the children in isolation away from the world.

MAXINE

It is. I ran track in high school. Used to love to jog… Even after Sarah was born. Marathons. Down to Battery Park. The Hudson River. It should be throbbing, you know, neon pink, with all the sludge they dump in there. But it’s sparkling and beautiful sometimes, like a postcard… [Lines cut] That’s why it’s lucky she’s here. Exposed to great art, you know. Music. Poetry. Not to all the violence, pornography, the sewer of pop culture we all take for granted these days. Unlike the rest of us, she had a chance to develop a healthy mind.

 

 

 

Representative Scenes:  

p. 24-25:  Jim gets Sarah to let him read one of her poems.  (Part of a longer scene that can be divided in different ways from p.23-29.) Starts with

JIM

Tell me something at least, so I can say I–

and ends with

SARAH

I know, isn’t it? I felt so bad for the frog though. Don’t you think? Down there, all alone, with those things? This foreign species? But I don’t know, maybe he was happy. Maybe they were friends. Maybe he felt taken care of… (beat) So, I wrote a poem about it.

p. 33-34:  Jim and Davey have a “guy talk”. (Part of a much longer scene which can be divided in different ways from p. 31-35.)  Starts with

DAVEY

Does it feel the way it looks?

and ends with

JIM

No.

p.49-51:  Jim and Sarah talk and clean up the blood from Davey’s severe allergic reaction brought on by Sidney deliberately sneaking chemicals into the house. (Part of a longer scene which can be divided in different ways from p.49-56.) Starts with

JIM

You okay?

and ends with

SARAH

                It’s not your fault. You just. Can’t.

 

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

Johnson, Ryan E. (20 November, 2009). Sick: Capital t brings dohrn’s world to life with brilliant performances. [open access] Examiner.com

MacDonald, Sandy. (29 August, 2009). Charm of ‘Sick’ lies in the dysfunction. [open access] Boston Globe.

Rendell, Bob. Sick: American paranoia returns to new jersey repertory. [open access] Talkin’ Broadway.

Siegel, Naomi.  (22 February, 2009). Illness, illusion and dark comedy in long branch. [open access] New York Times.

Privilege – Paul Weitz

privilege

Originally produced by the Second Stage Theatre in New York City, April 25, 2005.

Original Cast:

Porter (16)                                       Harry Zittel
Charlie (12)                                      Conor Donovan
Anna (early 40s)                               Carolyn McCormick
Erla (early 30s; Latina)                      Florencia Lozano
Ted (mid 40s)                                    Bob Saget

Director:  Peter Askin
Scenic Design:  Thomas Lynch
Costume Design:  Jeff Mahshie
Lighting Design:  Jeff Croiter
Original Music and Sound Design:  Lewis Flinn
Stage Managers:  Gerald Cosgrove and Michael McGoff

Publication:  Weitz, Paul. Privilege. Dramatists Play Service, 2006. Drama Library PS3573. E4314 P75 2006.

Setting:  An expensive Upper East side apartment, New York City, and a modest apartment on the Upper West Side, New York City, 1987.

Language:  Contemporary

PORTER

It’s my room and I’ll fart if I want to. (Sings.) It’s my party and I’ll fart if I want to, fart if I want to, fart if I want to…

Genre/Style:  Comedy

Plot:  The lives of two teenagers on the Upper East Side change dramatically when their father is convicted of insider trading.

 

Representative Monologues:  All of the monologues in the play are under one minute.  (Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p. 15:  Porter questions attending Brown University.

PORTER

What’s the big deal about Brown? What if I don’t want to go to Brown? What if I’d rather go to Apex Tech? What if I’d rather learn a valuable trade, like washing machine repair? [lines cut] Of course I’d have to change my name, you can’t have a doorman named “Porter.” I’d have to change it to “Joe”—or “Jimmy.”

p. 23:  Charlie writes a letter to the Times.

CHARLIE

So I think I should write a letter to the Times. You want to hear my first draft? (Charlie takes out a piece of paper and reads.) “In this land, we are innocent until proven guilty. Our forefathers fought for various rights, such as that of a man’s innocence until guilt is proven. [Lines cut] I guess I have to take out that last part. Well, what do you think?

p. 30:  Erla explains the reality of the boys’ new situation to them.

ERLA

No, Charlie, we’re not a team. You two are a team. [Lines cut] You have computer games, you have waterskis, you have servants. You have become accustomed to the idea of people serving you.

 

Representative Scenes:   The play is mostly made up of scenes between the two brothers so there are many scenes to choose from.

p. 5-6:  Charlie and Porter are supposed to be packing for Antigua and end the scene discussing farts. Starts with

CHARLIE

Oh God, I’m so bored.

and ends with

CHARLIE

If I showed you a ten, you would die immediately.

p. 21-22:  Porter and Charlie discover the extent of their father’s crimes in the New York Times. Starts with

PORTER

What? What about the Times?

and ends with

 PORTER

Yeah, it sort of does. “Assistant D.A. Theresa Novalis believes the government case is strong. ‘It’s about time,” she says, ‘that the party ended.’ “

 

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

Gluck, V. (2005). Privilege. Back Stage, 46(19), 40.

Isherwood, C. (2005, Apr 26). Daddy’s rich (mama’s good looking) and trouble’s an insider trade away. New York Times (1923-Current File), pp. 2.

Kershner, J. (2011, Feb 27). Review: Clunky at times, but a rich story is told in ‘privilege’. McClatchy – Tribune Business News.

Pincus-Roth, Z. (2005). Paul pushes play on ‘Privilege’. Daily Variety, 287(19), 27.

Rizzo, F. (2005). Privilege. Variety, 398(11), 74.

Stevens, A. (2005, May 06). Conor donovan and harry zittel. New York Times, pp. 0-24.

Wolfe, A. (2005). Money changes everything. New York, 38(16), 73-74.

The Idiot Box – Michael Elyanow

television

First produced by Naked Eye Theatre Company in Chicago in 2003.

Original Cast:

Fiona                     Kathy Logelin
Connor                 Jim Slonina
Veronica
               Meghan McDonough
Omar                     Ansa Akyea
Chloe                    Beth Lacke
Raymond              Bradley Balof
Billy                       Brad Eric Johnson
Harvey                  Rom Barkhordar
Mark                     Joe Dempsey
Stephanie            Lisa Rothschiller

Characters (All early-to-mid-30s)

The Cast Regulars
Mark:
  The Neurotic New Yorker. He’s a paramedic.
Chloe:  The Spoiled Rich Girl. She’s a curtain designer.
Billy:  The Sex-Crazed Dummy. He’s a model.
Fiona: The New Age Hippie. She’s an acupuncturist.
Stephanie: The Controlling Wife. She’s a romance novelist.

The Guest Spots
Harvey: 
He’s a doctor in the navel reserves.
Raymond:  He’s a drag queen/cabaret singer.
Veronica:  She’s an Australian dog shusherer.
Omar:  He’s a non-Caucasian PhD student.

Director:  Jeremy B. Cohen
Scenic Design:  Brian Sidney Bembridge
Costume Design:  Rachel Healy
Lighting Design:  Jaymi Lee Smith
Sound Design:  Andre Pluess

Publication:  Elyanow, Michael. The Idiot Box. Samuel French, 2008. Drama Library PS3605. L93 I35 2008.

Setting:  New York City, winter, the living room of a split-level penthouse suite.

Language:  Contemporary sitcom

CHLOE

Toast. What A Slice of Toast Might Say. Since when does a hooker ever say “My crust is turning brown?” Never. A hooker never says that.

Genre/Style:  The first act, according to the playwright, should play like a great modern sitcom; the second act should be more gritty, honest, and real.  However, one problem with the play is that the regulars in the first act are, for the most part, annoying and not very likeable and the situations they find themselves in are so farcical that by the time the second act arrives, it’s difficult to make the transition to caring about them as “real people” with “real problems.”  Another problem with the play is the plethora of problems they face, from strange boyfriends with chubby chasing tendencies, emergent homosexual feelings, racism, social consciousness, etc.

Plot:  The play tells the story of six sitcom characters whose lives are changed when reality crashes into their perfect world.

 

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. 27:  Omar tries to explain to Chloe why he felt the need to find her and leave her a letter.

OMAR

…I’m sorry. I’m gonna. Sorry.

He exits. But just as CHLOE is about to close the door:

No, wait. Please. The thing is. I was watching the play and somewhere toward the end of the first act I happened to take my eyes off the stage for a second and…I saw you sitting across from me and you were so completely “in it”, I mean, leaning forward, tears in your eyes, you know, and I was thinking, Yes! [Lines cut] You must be the most extraordinary person. And I must be a complete idiot for talking all this time and not introducing myself. Omar Jackson. Blabbermouth.

p. 36:  Fiona defends herself against Harvey’s charge that she only pretends to be a hippie so that her friends will like her and explains to him just what she’s gotten out of being a hippie.

FIONA

Okay. Stop. I’m gonna stop you right there. You know, just because we went out a few times, don’t presume you know me and don’t presume I don’t know what I’m doing. [Lines cut] I haven’t had to pay for anything—quite literally—since I was TWELVE. That’s what being a so-called flighty, wind-in-her-hair-hippie has gotten me.

p. 61-62:  Stephanie’s on the phone talking to her hero, LaVyrle Spencer about her writer’s block. (A very long monologue, at least 2 minutes.)

STEPHANIE

Hello? HellomMYGODhello!  I’ve been on hold so long I wasn’t sure if I got disconnected but I don’t think I did if this is you, LaVyrle, IS this you, LaVyrle, do you mind if I call you LaVyrle? Um,oh, it’s me, Ms. Spencer: Stephanie Dah. No-no-no-no, don’t hang up! [Lines cut] I write about Love. I need Love. And if [I] give that up, if I give up Love… I have no husband, no marriage, no career, and then what? What am I left with? What the fuck do I have then, LaVyrle?

 

 

Representative Scenes:  

p. 35-37:  Harvey and Fiona argue in a subway car. Starts with

FIONA

You feel sorry for me?

and ends with

FIONA

Oh, Harvey. FUCK OFF.

p. 41-44:  Billy accuses Raymond of trying to seduce him by pretending to be something he’s not:  a woman.  Starts with

BILLY

What did you do to me?

and ends with

RAYMOND

What are you?

p. 62-64:  Chloe and Omar confront each other about the fact that Omar has accepted a job in Berkeley without telling Chloe but Chloe found out and is looking for a job on the West Coast, hoping he’ll take her with him.  Stars with

CHLOE

It’s not what you think.

and ends with

OMAR

I didn’t think you’d say yes. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a little… I’m far from perfect. That’s just me. Sometimes I do, I get scared and I make mistakes. Does that sound like something you could be a part of?

 

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

Houlihan, M. (2003, May 9). “More than just ‘Friends’ – Typical sitcom characters get dose of reality from playwright in ‘The Idiot Box’.” Chicago Sun-Times 9; nc.

Chris Jones, T.,arts reporter. (2003, May 25). `The idiot box’ needs fine-tuning. Chicago Tribune.

Rosell, K. (2011, April 18). The Idiot Box opens at CSUF. Daily Titan, The: California State University – Fullerton (CA) n.pag.

Street, N. (2007, August 3). Bipolar Express: ‘Idiot Box’ takes a trip. Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The (CA) n.pag.

Zeff, D. (2003, June 5). Theater Review – `The Idiot Box’: A misguided event. Beacon News, The (Aurora, IL) E6.

 

Gruesome Playground Injuries – Rajiv Joseph

gruesome

Received its world premiere at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas on October 16, 2009; and premiered in New York at the Second Stage Theatre on January 31, 2011.

Original Cast:

Kayleen (ages 3-38)        Selma Blair
Doug (ages 8-38)             Brad Fleischer

Director:  Rebecca Taichman
Scenic Design:  Riccardo Hernandez
Costume Design:  Miranda Hoffman
Lighting Design:  Christopher Akerlind
Sound Design:  Jill BC DuBoff
Dramaturg:  Mark Bly
Stage Manager:  Elizabeth M. Berther

Publication:  Joseph, Rajiv.  Gruesome Playground Injuries. Samuel French. 2012.  Drama Library, PS3610. O669 G78 2012

in Joseph, Rajiv. Gruesome Playground Injuries; Animals out of paper ; Bengal tiger at the Baghdad Zoo: three plays. Soft Skull Press/Counterpoint, 2010.  Drama Library PS3610.O669 G78 2010

also available online in Joseph, R. (2011). Gruesome Playground Injuries. American Theatre, 28(4), 64-75.

Setting:  Various places; the play jumps forward and backwards in time over the course of 30 years.

Language:  Contemporary

DOUG

I’m not stupid. That’s really mean, you know? Everyone just thinks just because I’m awesome at sports and I always get hurt that I’m stupid, but I’m not stupid, I’m just brave, that’s all. I’m brave. Don’t leave.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedic; a black comedy where the humor is less about one-line zingers (although there are some) and more about the absurd situations the characters find themselves in that result in their injuries.

Plot:  Over the course of 30 years, Kayleen and Doug’s lives intersect when one or both of them are hurt.  It doesn’t sound like a lot to base a play on, but Joseph succeeds in rendering two very real and relatable characters who, nevertheless, sustain very bizarre injuries.

 

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.30:  Doug explains how he recently hurt his leg investigating an explosion at their old school.  [Doug’s first two lines can be cut.]   

DOUG

[I know. But I got to go and investigate the wreckage.] I go over and the place is collapsed. So I hoist myself up there and I’m walking on the roof and then I stepped through a weak board or something and this upright nail went clear through my foot. It was about eight inches long. [Lines cut] All of a sudden, everything was clear…trapped up on that roof, impaled, surrounded by all the angels and saints…That’s my life up there, Leenie. That’s my life without you.

p.36:  Doug recounting at Kayleen’s dad’s wake how he stopped by the previous year to see her and her dad never told her.

DOUG

You know what, Kayleen? Jesus Christ, you know, I came to your house last year and your Dad was t here, and I know he hates my guts, he always has, and he’s like She is where she is.  I don’t know where the girl is. He said he didn’t care and didn’t care to know. And I was about to leave, but I didn’t. I didn’t and I said to that son of a bitch… [Lines cut] And then I told him I hoped he’d die alone. Which he did. So I feel a little guilty about that now. (Beat.) I can take care of you, Leenie.

 


Representative Scenes:   The play is a two-hander comprised of short scenes which can be broken down into sub-scenes.

p.11-12: Kayleen visits Doug in the hospital after he puts out his eye with fireworks. Starts with

DOUG

                The fireworks were awesome.

and ends with

KAYLEEN

                Fuck you. You know how I get. When you get hurt. You know.

p.38-39:  Kayleen and Doug meet at the ice rink where Doug now works; he is in a wheelchair now.  Starts with

KAYLEEN

I came here to lay my hands on you, Dougie. I’ve never believed it, but I have to do it… because if you believe it, that must be enough. (Doug doesn’t answer, doesn’t look at her.) I came and saw you when you were in the coma.

and ends with

KAYLEEN

God, I don’t know… We talked about everything. We talked so long, it was the latest I’d ever stayed up in my life. It was almost morning when we left the swings. It was cold, and you gave me your jacket to wear. The playground was so pretty just then. The sky was starting to be blue. (They look at the ice.)

 


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

Arnold, M. (2011). What’s in a Maim?. Playbill, 29(6), 20. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Brantley, B. (2011, Feb 01). Love hurts, and for some couples, that’s the point. New York Times. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Coffey, F. (2011). Two Plays by Rajiv Joseph: Gruesome Playground Injuries & Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. Ecumenica, 4(2), 89-92. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Drukman, S. (2011). Scar Stories. American Theatre, 28(4), 62-63. [Interview with Rajiv Joseph]

Evans, E. (2009, Oct 23). Taking risks pays off for gruesome playground GRUESOME: Injury-prone characters are made for each other. Houston Chronicle. [Review of premiere production in Houston]

Gardner, L. (2013). Gruesome Playground Injuries: Guardian. Theatre Record, 33(1/2), 33. [Review of the revival of the play at the Gate Theatre in London, 2013]

Marks, P. (2010, May 25). Complex friendship sustains ‘injuries’; vignettes explore a bond strengthened by sadness and pain. The Washington Post. [Review of 2010 Woolly Mammoth production in Washington, DC]

Maxwell, D. (2013). Gruesome Playground Injuries: The Times. Theatre Record, 33(1/2), 33-34. [Review of the revival of the play at the Gate Theatre in London, 2013]

Mountford, F. (2013). Gruesome Playground Injuries: Evening Standard. Theatre Record, 33(1/2), 33.

Newmark, J. (2011, Nov 02). ‘Injuries’ is more an exercise than a play; theater review; sad-sack couple are thrown together in times of crisis, mostly medical. St.Louis Post – Dispatch. [Review of Soundstage production, 2011]

Sheward, D. (2011). Gruesome Playground Injuries. Back Stage (19305966), 52(5), 49. [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Siddhartha, R. (2012, Feb 08). Not so gruesome: Playground injuries. Eastern Eye.  [Review of the revival of the play at the Gate Theatre in London, 2013]

Soloski, A. (2011, Feb 02). Gruesome playground injuries-rajiv joseph’s scar trek. (open access) The Village Voice.  [Review of the Second Stage Theatre production]

Weinert-Kendt, R. (2009). Wounded By Love. American Theatre, 26(9), 22. [Review of original Houston production]