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.

 

A Bright New Boise – Samuel D. Hunter

 

Boise

Commissioned and first produced by Partial Comfort Productions at the Wild Project in New York City, September, 2010.

Original Cast:

Will                       Andrew Garman
Pauline                Danielle Slavik
Alex                     Matt Farabee
Anna                   Sarah Nina Hayon
Leroy                  John Patrick Dougherty

Director:  Davis McCallum
Set Design:  Jason Simms
Costume Design:  Whitney Locher
Lighting Design:  Raquel Davis
Sound Design:  Ryan Rumery and M. Florian Staab
Video Design:  Rocco DiSanti

 

Publication:  Hunter, Samuel D. A Bright New Boise. Samuel French, 2011. Drama Stacks PS3608.U59496 B75 2011.

 

Setting:  Breakroom of a Hobby Lobby in Boise, Idaho

Language:  Contemporary

PAULINE

Ah, there we go. These two guys, they never say their names on the air for some reason. Everybody has guesses of what their names are. I think they both sound like they’re kinda high, so I call this one Woody and this one Harrelson. Get it?

Genre/Style:   Serio-Comedic

Plot:  Will begins working at a Hobby Lobby in Boise, Idaho, running from a recent incident involving a young man’s death in a religious cult Will belonged to in Couer d’Alene. Hoping to reconnect with Alex, the teenage son he put up for adoption years ago—and who happens to be a seasonal worker at the same Hobby Lobby—Will spends his time writing an End of Times novel online using  Hobby Lobby’s WiFi after hours and praying for the Rapture to occur so that he can escape his meaningless life.       

 

Review of the Production:  Rooney, D. (2010, Sep 22). A teenager’s summer job leaves a lifelong impact. New York Times, C8.

 

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 person who has any monologues is Pauline, an older character in the play.

 

Representative Scenes:  Scenes con­tain the first person’s lines and the last person’s lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the scene in its entirety.

p.21-23:  Will tries to convince Alex that he’s his father. Alex doesn’t buy it and wants to have a blood test done.  [part of a longer scene]  Starts with

ALEX

How did you find me?

and ends with

ALEX

If I ask you to quit and move out of Boise, would you?

(WILL doesn’t answer, staring down at his shoes.)

I gotta clock in.

p.56-58:  Alex and Will take the first tentative steps towards understanding one another and building trust. Will tells Alex about Daniel Sharp’s death and, in turn, Alex tells Will about the abuse and heartache he’s suffered in his young life.  [part of a longer scene]  Starts with

ALEX

STOP. (pause) If your church was so amazing, why did that kid die?

and ends with

ALEX

Because you told me about Daniel Sharp.

p.65-67:  Alex’s foster brother Leroy, who is an MFA student and also works at the Hobby Lobby, is angry because Alex has begun to hang around Will and has also begun to question his place in the world and to believe, like Will, that his life is meaningless without God.  [part of a longer scene] Starts with

ALEX

You think I’m stupid.

and ends with

LEROY

Okay. Just give me a minute. I’ll go talk to Pauline and then I’ll take you home, alright?

 

 

Scab – Sheila Callaghan

 scab

First performed at Women’s Expressive Theatre, New York City, 2002.

Original Cast:

Anima, 23-year-old woman                                                      Shannon Burkett
Christa, 22-year-old woman                                                     Sasha Eden
Jenna/Angel One, 20s-30s woman                                          Flora Diaz
Alan/Artie/Davie/Angel Two                                                     David Wheir
Mom/Kellee/Maryandrogyne                                                    Anne Carney

Director:  Hayley Finn
Set Design:  Margaret Eunbyul
Costume Design:  Sarah Beers
Lighting Design:  Stephen Brady
Sound Design:  David A. Gilman

Publication:  Callaghan, Sheila. Scab, a Comic Drama in Two Acts. Samuel French, 2009. Drama General Stacks PS3603.A442 S33 2009.

Setting:  An apartment in Los Angeles; an apartment in New Jersey; a bar in LA; seminar class in LA

Language:  Contemporary

Anima

No, that’s what I needed, my lollipop roommate straddling my line of vision twice a day so I could check out her lacey underpants

Genre/Style:   Dramatic comedy

Plot:  Anima’s sphere of desperation and self-destruction is invaded by the arrival of her perky new roommate, Christa.  Anima, whose father has just died, is an MFA acting student who has had a month long affair with Alan, a professor in her department.  Christa is a first-year PhD student in history.  The two young women become entrapped in a profound and intimate relationship, compounded by Christa becoming involved with Alan and Anima falling for Christa.

Review of the Production:  Weber, B. (2002, Mar. 11). Roommates’ Yen for the Same Man, and Other Problems. New York Times, pp. E5.

 

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.27:  Anima is telling Alan about her trip home to attend her father’s funeral.

Anima

Don’t worry it was all very appropriate, grandmother sang a little tune called “How I wish God would Take me too” and danced a jig before all the dearly-beerlies, and oh man the cold cut plattrs fruit baskets condolence cards…

[lines cut]

It was wild.  I felt for a second my dad WAS the president. Assassinated. By his fellow countrymen. Bastard capitalist corporate American dream, live it love it fuck it in the ass or it will fuck you ha ha ha – you think I’m crazy, don’t you/

p.38-39:  Anima is drunk in a bar. 

Anima

What a piece of work is man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and move and inespresso ada-mahble…That’s Shakespeare. I know more. I played Hamlet once in college. It was for a video project but I was good. No one could believe a chick Hamlet could be so goddamn good.

[lines cut]

Get off me. My friend is picking me up. My roommate. My new roommate. She’s brilliant. She’s going to be a doctor soon. She analyzes women. Not a fucking shrink. She just does, then she makes history out of it.

(She drinks. A beat.)

No, but thanks. She’ll be here any minute. Because I know. She takes care of me.

p.22:  Anima has been trying to explain who Alan is to Christa after he drops by and Anima refuses to see him. Alan appears and speaks, unseen by the women.

Alan

I am thirty-two, nine years older than you. I have penetrated nineteen women, not including you, with my average sized penis. I played the viola all through college and a bit professionally before graduate school, I floss my teeth to NPR twice a day, each night I use lotion from a little blue jar to keep me from getting wrinkly.

[lines cut]

You eat rare meat, you listen to top forty radio, you never read the paper, you drink Bud Ice and you’ve only slept with two men, one of whom was gay. What on God’s good earth ever made you think it would work between us?

 

Representative Scenes:  Scenes con­tain the first person’s lines and the last person’s lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the scene in its entirety.

39-41: Christa and Alan are together after having left a karaoke bar. Starts with

CHRISTA

Oh God, it hurts…

and ends with

CHRISTA

Okay.

(They kiss again and don’t stop.  Christa drops her shoes.)

p.50-52:  Christa confronts Anna over not going to class, something she learns from Alan. Anima accuses her of taking his side in their breakup, unaware that Christa and Alan have had sex the previous night.  Starts with

CHRISTA

How are the donuts.

and ends with

ANIMA

Tue s malade, ma petite plante. I will heal you.

Anima tears off her bandage and drips some blood into Susan’s soil.)

p.62-65:  Anima confronts Christa about her sleeping with Alan, unaware that it’s Alan, and then makes a pass at Christa.   Starts with

ANIMA

Do you love him, Chris?

and ends with

CHRISTA

Okay.

 

 

Shivered-Philip Ridley

Automotive-assembly-line

First performed at the Southwark Playhouse in London on March 9, 2012.

Original Cast:

Alec—a  20-year-old soldier                      Robbie Jarvis-Dean
Ryan—a twelve-year-old boy                    Joseph Drake
Jack—a twelve-year-old boy                     Joshua Williams
Lyn—Alec and Ryan’s mom                       Olivia Poulet
Gordy—in his twenties, a con man           Andrew Hawley
Evie—Jack’s obese mother                      Amanda Daniels
Mikey—Alec and Ryan’s dad                     Simon Lenagan

Director:  Russell Bolam
Scenic and Costume Design:  Anthony Lamble
Lighting Design:  Richard Howell
Sound Design:  Tom Gibbons

Publication:  Ridley, Philip. Shivered. Dramatists Play Service, Inc., 2013. Drama Library Stacks PR6068.I292 S38 2013.

Setting:  Draylingstowe in Essax, an automotive factory town that has gone bust.

Language:  Contemporary

Jack

No, mate!  My legs’re fucking hurting.  I can feel the veins knotting together like… like knotting-together stuff.  They hurt!  Fuck!

Genre/Style:   Dramatic/comedy

Plot:   Ryan and Jack are two twelve-year-old boys looking for aliens.  Ryan’s  brother, Alec, was a soldier whose beheading by the enemy was filmed and shared on the internet.  Ryan’s dad, a former automotive factory worker, has gone missing; and his mother can’t cope with their son’s death.  The play is fragmented and the scenes are out of order, reflecting the fragmentation of modern-day life and illuminating often-overlooked details with the benefit of hindsight.  The first act works better than the second, but the language and themes remain affecting.  Although the boys are twelve in the play, teens or college aged actors would be appropriate as the subject matter is quite mature.

 

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.25:  Jack tells Ryan what happened to this girl at school who didn’t want to watch the video of Ryan’s brother being beheaded.

JACK     

There was this girl. Gemma Burns. She’s the year above me. She said she thought watching something like that was disgusting. She don’t watch anything. Not even  bullfights or dogs being sick. She’s a right stuck-up cunt.  [Lines cut] Reece Jackson said they should break into Gemma’s bedroom one night and hold her down like they did in the toilets, only this time make her watch the film of her throwing up while watching your brother’s head being cut off. I said, if they did that, I’d like to be the one to film it. (Slight pause.) I think it’s a fake anyway.

p.33:  Gordy tells Lyn what happens to greyhounds once they stop racing.

GORDY

You know what happens to greyhounds when they stop winning races. They’re killed. That was my job. I’d take them to the wood at the back of the stadium. I’d tie their leads round branches. Leave them to hang.  [Lines cut] Next time I did it, word had spread. There were twice as many people. I charged them money. Every time I did it the audience grew. I made more money from killing the dogs than my neighbor did from racing them. (Slight pause) Wanna meet later?

 

Representative Scenes:  Scenes con­tain the first person’s lines and the last person’s lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the scene in its entirety.

p. 10-12:  Ryan and Jack are watching the canal and waiting for the alien monster to appear so that Ryan can take a picture of it.  Starts with

RYAN

Okay… If anything comes out of the canal—We’re ready!

and ends with

RYAN

I see it! (Jack and Ryan scream.)

p.27-29:  The first time Jack and Ryan meet.  Jack is hiding out from a group of bullies and Ryan is trying to find evidence of aliens to prove his dad isn’t crazy.   Starts with

JACK

What are you doing?

and ends with

RYAN AND JACK

RAAAAHHHH!!!

p.38-40:  Jack and Ryan are again waiting for aliens.  Ryan shows Jack how to draw aliens.  During their lesson, Jack convinces Ryan to look at the video of Ryan’s brother being beheaded. At the end of the scene Ryan beats Jack unconscious and leaves him.  The beating leaves Jack brain dead.   Starts with

JACK

You mean… aliens look like snakes.

and ends with

JACK

Fuck me, no need for that, mate. Jesus. (Struggles to get up.) Help me up, mate… Come on… My bones are bending in this position—Shit! Shit! (Ryan picks up a piece of rubble.) Come on, mate.   (Ryan strikes Jack with rubble.) Mate, what’s that for? Come on! (Slight pause. Ryan strikes Jack again.) There no need for—Mate! Don’t! (Ryan hits Jack some more. Jack is screaming now.) Stop it, mate. It’s fucking hurting… Don’t! Mate! Let’s do some drawing. (Ryan continues to strike Jack.) Let’s do… some drawing…

 

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

Bowie-Sell, D. (2012, Apr 2). Shivered, Southwark Playhouse, review. [open access] The Telegraph.

Costa, M. (2012, Mar 15). Shivered—review. [open access] The Guardian.

Purves, L. (2012, Mar 15). It’s grimmer down south; Philip Ridley’s violent new Essex drama leaves Libby Purves unmoved. The Times (London), pp.12.

Taylor, P.  (2012, Mar 15). Shivered, Southwark Playhouse, London. [open access] The Independent.

 

The Dark Things – Ursula Rani Sarma

busstop

First performed on October 6, 2009 at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh.

Original Cast:

Daniel (20s, artist)                           Brian Ferguson
LJ (20s, former exotic dancer)      Suzanne Donaldson
Steph (early 20s)                             Nicola Jo Cully
Gerry (late 50s, psychiatrist)         David Acton
Karl (late 20s)                                  Keith Fleming

Director:  Dominic Hill
Designer:  Neil Warmington
Lighting Designer:  Lizzie Powell
Sound Designer:  John Harris
Stage Manager:  Gemma Smith

Publication:  Sarma, Ursula Rani. The Dark Things. Oberon Modern Plays, 2009. Drama Library PR6119.A76 D37 2009.

Setting:  The play takes place in London.

Language:  Contemporary

LJ

Tell that to my legs if you see them… maybe I’ll have them stuffed… put them on the living room wall beside the telly (DANIEL looks at her horrified.) Jesus… relax… I’m only fucking about… face of you… you’d swear they were your legs I was on about…

Genre/Style:  Drama

Plot:   Daniel is the only uninjured survivor of a bus crash in London.  LJ also survived, but lost both legs in the accident.  Daniel turns his experience into art, but suffers from survivors’ guilt and is falling apart inside.  In his desperation, he goes to Gerry, a psychiatrist who is seeing things and dealing with his own issues about death and survival.  Daniel’s half-sister, Steph, is trying to find her way in the world, but falls afoul of Karl, a somewhat seedy older guy who’s just as lost.

 

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.17-18:  Daniel recounting the moment of the explosion.  A very long monologue which can be edited down. 

DANIEL                

Darkness (Beat.) Total and complete darkness. (Beat.) Oceanic darkness. (Beat.) Like being at the bottom of a lake, on your back, stuck fast in the mud and sinking (Beat.) Trying to breathe, trying to decide if I am alive or dead, try telling myself it’s a dream and will myself to wake up and see… and see… my bedside table… yellow lamp… floral sheets

[Lines cut]

The sound of bones breaking is… inhuman. I curl up… in a ball… pull my knees up duck my head down and pray… please God get me out of this… please God… Please fucking God… I don’t care… I don’t care if everyone else is crushed to death and I’m…  I’m the only one left

p.107-108:  Steph, drunk, talks to Gerry who has come to a party Daniel is holding before he kills himself.  Steph has seen Karl and LJ leave together and is trying to make herself feel good about her messed-up life and lack of connections. Long monologue, can be edited.

STEPH

Oh… I remember… sure (She siles, beat.) You still remind me of Danny’s dad though. You know Danny’s dad and my dad were different people, but they both died, and then my mum met someone else and then he died… so it’s like I had two d ads and Danny had three… and they all died… so I guess we kind of gave up on the idea of having a dad.

[Lines cut]

Why do people use people? Just to make themselves feel better? Is that it? How can making     someone feel like shit make you feel better?

Representative Scenes: 

p. 19-23:  Daniel tries to deal with his half-sister Steph who has  been living with him, not working, making a mess, and generally being a pain in the ass.  He’s trying to get her to move out, but in the end, she manages to wrangle a permanent invitation out of him.  Starts with

STEPH

(Listening, then presses pause.) Today is the first day of the rest of my life. (Presses play listens then presses pause.) Today is a gift and not a burden [Lines cut] did you get mugged by Jimmy Nail?

and ends with

STEPH

(Smiles.) Good… I’m glad (He exits, she looks about.) I am the captain of my own ship of motivation (She picks up the paper.) I am. (She puts the paper down and picks up the remote control.) I…

p.73-77:  Daniel is visiting LJ in her flat.  While LJ is trying to advance their one-sided relationship and get him to move in with her, he tries to get her to let Steph move in with her.  Neither one is really connecting with the other.   Starts with

LJ

I can see your building from my bedroom window, just the roof, can see pretty much everything from up here (Daniel nods, beat) and it’s quiet… a bit too quiet sometimes… catch myself feeling lonely have to snap myself out of it…

and ends with

LJ

I know a place. (Beat.) I’ll show you. (Beat, Daniel goes to push her chair.) I can do it… I can do it on my own.

 

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

Cooper, N.  (2009, Oct 12). Artist’s brush with death; surviving a crash acts as one man’s wake-up call in a self-absorbed world; Theatre.  The Herald, pp. 18.

Fisher, M. (2009, Oct 16). Reviews:  Theatre:  The dark things traverse, edinburgh 4/5. The Guardian,  pp.42.

McMillan, J. (2009, Oct 15). Joyce mcmillan on theatre:  Integrity to fore as nts celebrates one man and his music. The Scotsman, pp. 36.

Scot, R. D. (2009, Oct 14). The dark things; arts first night theatre. The Times (London), pp. 16, 17.

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.

Decky Does a Bronco – Douglas Maxwell

Decky

The site-specific play was first performed at Brodie Park on July 28, 2000.

Original Cast:

Decky (9-year-old boy)          David Ireland
David (Adult)                          Keith Macpherson
Young Chrissy                      Andy Clark
Adult Chrissy 
                       Craig Smith
Young Barry  
                        Ross Sutherland
Adult Barry
                            Paul Cunningham
Young O’Neil
                        Jimmy Harrison
Adult O’Neil 
                          Muz Murray

Note:  All parts are played by adult males.

Director:  Ben Harrison
Sculptor/Set Designer:  Allan Ross
Costume Design:  Alice Bee
Lighting Design:  George Tarbuck
Composer:   Philip Pinsky
Stunt Coordinator:  Jonothan Campbell
Stage Manager:  Amy Shapcott

Publication:  Maxwell, Douglas. Decky Does a Bronco. Oberon Books, 2001. Drama Library PR6113. A85 D43 2001.

Setting:  A playground in the small town of Girvan, on the west coast of Scotland.

 Language:  Contemporary with lots of Scottish lingo

CHRISSY

And we’d still be taking the mickey out of him. Just ’cause he’s—just ’cause he’s no here people are going to be all ‘Aw wee Decky was ace, man I was best pals with him’ but they werenae. I’m no even going to the funeral.

Genre/Style:  Serio-Comedic

Plot:   Adult David remembers the events of a summer when he was nine and he and his friends hung out at the playground broncoing swings and teasing Decky, the smallest of them who was never able to bronco.  David recounts the tragic event that shattered their innocent childhoods and haunts them even as adults.  The play was originally produced on a playground and toured to playgrounds around Scotland.

 

 

 

Representative Monologues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.  Since David is the narrator in the play, he has a lot of monologues.

p.36-37:  David elucidates the dangers of satire, sarcasm, and irony. 

DAVID

Ah, happy, peaceful days. I’m a pathological reminiscer. I was reminiscing about lost days of youth when I was still a child, really. We’d sometimes come up here and sit at the swings late at night after a community center teenage disco.  [Lines cut] I admit it, I enjoyed it. It was exciting. Things turned nasty when I needed to be sarcastic first thing in the morning. Then came irony. Before I knew it, I was lying alone in an empty warehouse on a stained mattress, mainlining satire. Just say no.

p.53-54:  David tells what happens when he and Chrissy went to Decky’s house the day Decky disappeared. Long monologue

DAVID

I remember what happened next very clearly. We walked along with Barry till we got to my bit. Barry padlocked his bike to the inside of our fence and went in. Me and Chrissy walked on to Decky’s house, very, very slowly. [Lines cut] There was total silence in the living room, apart from Decky’s dad. He was sitting forward in his chair with his head in his hands. His hands were huge and battered from years of working outside. The tears were streaming between his fingers as if his entire face was made from water.

p.62-63:  David explains what he does when he now sees a story on television about a child having been abducted.  Very long monologue.

DAVID

You know when you watch the news and you see the daily child abduction story; the smiling school photo in the corner of the screen and the stern-faced newsreader, unable to believe that they are saying yet again the phrase ‘was last seen alive’; do you know when you see that, you always say ‘I can’t imagine what the parents are going through’, do you feel that you’re telling a lie?  [Lines cut] You see when the news comes on and I close my eyes, when everyone else is trying their hardest not to see the truth, I have a picture in my mind. It’s the most beautiful, free, child-like, fun, important thing in the world. Because it’s then, in that blink, in that instant…  Decky does a bronco.

 

 

Representative Scenes:  This play has a lot of characters and there are very few sections that involve just two people.

p. 55-57:  Barry and David talk about Decky’s death.  Starts with

DAVID

What did my mum want?

and ends with

BARRY

I’m waiting till I get back to Gran’s, till I cry. I wonder if she knows? She never even met Decky though. Think about it. Think about all the people who never met him, who he would have met, the things he would have done. He never even Broncoed a swing.

 

 

 

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

Clapp, S. (2000, Aug 13). Arts: EDINBURGH FESTIVAL:THEATRE: Child’s play for adults: When the emotions of a gang of boys are portrayed by adults, the results are disturbing. The Observer, pp. 8.

Halliburton, R. (2001, Jun 22). More than child’s play. Evening Standard, pp. 50.

Hickling, A. (2001, Jun 09). Reviews: Theatre: Swings and roundabouts in manchester: Decky does a bronco: Whitworth park, manchester (3/5 stars). The Guardian, pp. 1.25.

Kingston, J. (2001, Jun 25). Decky does a bronco. The Times, pp. 2, 24.

McMillan, J. (2010, Jul 08). Theatre reviews: Life’s swings and roundabouts. The Scotsman, pp. 36.

Spencer, C. (2001, Jun 25). A haunting look at the leap from innocence. The Daily Telegraph, pp. 15.

 

Treefall – Henry Murray

treefall

World premiere by Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles on July 30, 2009.

Original Cast:

August (16-year-old boy)                                                  West Liang
Flynn (18-year-old boy)                                                    Brian Norris
Craig (14-year-old boy)                                                    Brian Pugach
Bug (17-year-old girl masquerading as a boy)                Tania Verafield

Director:  John Perrin Flynn
Set Design:  Stephanie Kerley Schwartz
Lighting Design:  Leigh Allen
Sound Design:  Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski
Costume Design:  Lauren Tyler
Stage Manager:  Amanda Mauer

Publication:  Murray, Henry. Treefall. Dramatists Play Service, 2010. Drama Library PS3613. U758 T74 2009.

Setting:  A mountain cabin in the Pacific Northwest after an environmental catastrophe takes place.  A few scenes take place in areas near the cabin.

Language:  Contemporary

CRAIG

(Holding Dru like a baby and playing Mommy) Mr. Bug, please excuse this silliness. My sons have a tendency to forget their place. It’s been hard raising them by myself. My husband, he had quite a nice penis but he died in a stampede at a grocery store during a food shortage. It was tragic really–

Genre/Style:  Serio-Comedic

Plot:   Three boys live together in an isolated cabin in the Pacific Northwest after an unspecified environmental disaster seemingly has caused a large majority of the population in the world to perish, particularly the adults.  The boys ritualistically re-enact a life they can barely remember, a life of normalcy where a family means a daddy and a mommy and a child.  Into their world comes a stranger who disrupts their carefully crafted but slowly failing life.  Just as it’s only a matter of time before one of the dying trees around their cabin falls on and destroys their home, even without the appearance of Bug, the boys’ fragile family structure, which was already showing stresses and cracks, was doomed.  There’s a bit too much quoting from Romeo and Juliet; and Craig pretending to be his doll, Dru, is extremely annoying, despite him being the most fully realized character, almost preternaturally wise in some ways while being unbelievably naïve in others.  However, weaknesses in the script aside, there are affective, simple moments that resonate around the principal question of the play:  what makes a family?

 

 

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.39:  Craig reads a comic book and explains about Superman and vampires to Dru, his doll. 

CRAIG

(As Dru) Here’s Superman holding up a bridge with one hand and a bus full of people in the other.   (As Craig) He must be quite strong. (As Dru) Well, look at those muscles. (As Craig) He does have nice muscles. [Lines cut] (As the doll) I’m just a doll. But there’s the question of goodness, isn’t there? Vampires are basically selfish creatures who are afraid to die. (As Craig) That’s not fair. Vampires are ordinary people who could die except…they… Nobody really wants to die.

               

 

Representative Scenes:  Most of the scenes in the play are for three or more characters but there are a few that are just two people.  

p. 29-32:  August and Bug spend some time together and August tries to seduce Bug. Starts with

AUGUST

What’s it like east of here?

and ends with

AUGUST

You made whiskey come out of my nose.

p.39-41: Flynn tries to explain human anatomy and the differences between boys and girls to Craig. Starts with

CRAIG

(As Dru) Here’s Superman holding up a bridge with one hand and a bus full of people in the other.   (As Craig) He must be quite strong. (As Dru) Well, look at those muscles. (As Craig) He does have nice muscles. [Lines cut] (As the doll) I’m just a doll. But there’s the question of goodness, isn’t there? Vampires are basically selfish creatures who are afraid to die. (As Craig) That’s not fair. Vampires are ordinary people who could die except…they… Nobody really wants to die.

and ends with

CRAIG

Come along, Dru. Mommy doesn’t want to miss this.

 

 

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

Brandes, P. (2009, Aug 6). Theater review: ‘Treefall’ at theatre theater. [open acces] LA Times.

Buzzelli, M. (2009, Aug 3). Rogue Machine’s treefall @theatre theater:  A brilliant new work from henry murray. [open access] Eye Spy LA.

Morris, S. L. (2009, Aug 5). Treefall and the chairs:  Beyond world’s end. [open access] LA Weekly.

Orloff, P. (2009, Aug 28). ‘Treefall’ at rogue machine. [open access] Culture Spot LA.

Sokol, R. (2011, Feb 7). Intriguing, uneven ‘treefall’ not begging to be heard. [open access] SF Examiner.

Spindle, L. (2009, Aug 5) Treefall. [open access] Backstage.com.

Trenchard, C. (2011, Feb 7). In treefall, a young cast rises at new conservatory theatre. [open access] SF Weekly.

Pretty Theft – Adam Szymkowicz

prettytheft

Originally produced by the Flux Theatre Ensemble in New York City on April 24, 2009.

Original Cast:

Marco                                                                   Todd d’Amour
Waitress/Ballerina                                              Candice Holdorf
Psychiatrist/Ballerina                                         Lynn Kenny
Suzy                                                                      Maria Portman Kelly
Joe                                                                        Brian Pracht
Bobby                                                                   Zack Robidas
Allegra                                                                  Marnie Schulenburg
Allegra’s Mom/Supervisor/Ballerina                Cotton Wright

Director:  Angela Astle
Choreographer:
  Ashley Martinez
Set Design
Heather Cohn
Lighting Design:  Andy Fritsch
Sound Design:  Kevin Fuller
Costume Design:  Becky Kelly
Stage Manager:  Kate August

Allegra:  18
Suzy:  18
Joe:  20s to 30s
Marco/Allegra’s Father:
  30s to 40s
Ballerina 2/Allegra’s Mother/Supervisor/Patient/Customer 2 & 4:
  30s to 50s
Ballerina 1/Psychiatrist/Patient/Waitress/Customer 1 & 3:  30s to 40s
Bobby/Intern/Joe’s Father:  20s

Publication:  Syzmkowicz, Adam. Pretty Theft. Samuel French, 2009. Drama Library PS3619.Z965 P74 2009.

Setting:  Multiple:  a group home, a diner, a hotel room, a mental asylum, a living room; the present

Language:  Contemporary

BOBBY

No, it’s not that. It’s just… We’re young. I want to fuck other girls. I want to be free to do that at school. There’s lots of different kinds of girls out there and most of them I’ve never even kissed. I’m sorry. Now you’re mad at me.

Genre/Style:  Serio-Comedic

Plot:   18-year-old Allegra takes a summer job at a group home and falls under the wing of Suzy, a likeable bad girl.  When Allegra’s unlikely friendship with Joe, an autistic group home resident, goes awry—sabotaged by Suzy—she and Suzy steal Suzy’s mom’s car and take off for parts unknown.  On the run, they fall afoul of Marco, a self-described art thief and admirer of young girls.  An exploration of theft in its many permutations, Pretty Theft works best when it focuses on the two girls’ love/hate relationship and on the fragile friendship between Allegra and Joe, an innocent soul who’s a casualty of Suzy’s careless machinations.

 

 

Representative Monologues:  Mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.  There are a number of monologues for both men and women in the play.

p.29:  The Supervisor of the Group Home explains how she deals with Joe’s theft of little items from the other residents and the importance of his treasure box. 

SUPERVISOR

(as she takes objects out of Joe’s box)  We no longer wonder where the pens go, the pads, the rubber bands, the paper clips and Mrs. Thompson’s dentures. All of us know they’re in Joe’s box. When he first came here, we tried to get him to give back his pilfered items. But that was a disaster.

[Lines cut]

The only thing I leave in the box, is his ballerina doll. A gift from the former supervisor, now deceased. He likes it. I’ve always felt there’s no harm in it. I’ve always felt there’s no harm in him. His mother disagrees.

p.32:  Allegra visits her unconscious and dying father in the hospital and angrily confronts him over his dying. 

ALLEGRA

And I’m working at this like group home with Suzy Harris. We hang out a lot. You know who she is? I think you’d like her. She’s a lot of fun. She was supposed to come here with me today but… she couldn’t make it.

[Lines cut]

I miss you.

I’ve always missed you. I’m sorry. I don’t want you to die. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Oh, Christ, I’m so sorry. Please don’t die. You’re so small. Please, Daddy.

p.69: Joe, in a straitjacket, explains the difference between people like him who are damaged and people who are untouchable, perfect. 

JOE

Some people get locked up and some people never do. If you try to kiss the staff they will lock you up. It is illegal. Many men in suits never go to jail. That’s because that’s because that’s   because they aren’t me. They aren’t broken. [Lines cut] Like doctors who can fix you. Except they don’t need fixing. Not the super untouchable. They have legs like razors and eyes that magnetize. They are pretty. They are everything. Like Allegra. I wonder if Allegra is super untouchable.

 

 

 

Representative Scenes:  Of the two-people scenes in the play, a number of them are fairly brief and unsuitable for substantial scene work.  Some of these short scenes could be combined to create a longer scene with a more appropriate narrative arc.   

p. 30-31 and 33-34:  Scenes Ten and Twelve can be combined to form one scene. Suzy goes to the movies with Bobby, Allegra’s boyfriend, and attempts to seduce him.  Starts with

BOBBY

                This sucks

and ends with

SUZY

(Following him out) Wait for me. I still need a ride. Hey, mush-mouth. Wait for 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.)

Gates, A. (2009, Apr 28). Being nice can also take you too far. New York Times,pp.C4.

Harcum, C. (2009, Apr 28). Pretty theft. [open access] nythatre.com.

Peikert, M. (2009, Apr 28). Pretty theft. [open access] backstage.

Snyder, S. (2009). Stealing hearts and minds:  Emotional theft neither pretty, nor petty. [open access] The Villager 78(47).

Sobel, J. (2009, Apr 26). Pretty theft by Adam Szymkowicz. [open access] Blog Critics.

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.