The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow: An Instant Message with Excitable Music – Rolin Jones

Premiered at South Coast Repertory Theater in April, 2003; subsequent New York production opened in September, 2005 at the Atlantic Theater Company.

 

Original Cast:

 

Jennifer Marcus Melody Butiu
Mr. Marcus/Mr. Zhang William Francis McGuire
Preston/Terrence/Col. Hubbard/Dr. Yakunin/Voice of Computer Translator J.D. Cullum
Adele Hartwick/Ms. Zhang Linda Gehringer
Todd/A Boy Daniel Blinkoff
Jenny Chow April Hong

 

Director:  David Chambers

 

Jennifer Marcus:  22, Asian-American
Mr. Marcus/Mr. Zhang:  early 50s
Preston/Terrence/Col.Hubbard/Dr. Yakunin/Voice of Computer Translator:  late 20s, early 30s
Adele Hartwick/Ms. Zhang:  late 40s, early 50s
Todd/A Boy:  early 20s
Jenny Chow:  early 20s, Asian-American

 

Publication:  Jones, Rolin. The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow:  An Instant Message with Excitable Music. Dramatists Play Service, 2006. Drama Library PS3610.O62777 I68 2006.

 

Setting:  A second-story bedroom, Calabasas, California; now, right now

Language:  Contemporary

TODD

I know your mom’s a raging pain and all, but it’s not all bad, ya know. I mean, c’mon, you got Tivo.

Genre/Style:  Dramatic comedy

Plot:   Jennifer is a 22-year-old engineering genius who was adopted by an American couple as a baby in China.  Jennifer’s agoraphobia causes her to clash with her over-achieving adoptive mother and spurs her to search for her birth mother.  In order to do so, she spends her time re-programming obsolete missiles for the Department of Defense in exchange for robotic parts she then uses to build an android replicant of herself that she dubs Jenny Chow.  Once Jenny Chow is complete, Jennifer sends her on a mission to make contact with her real mother in China.

 

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.11-12:  Jennifer Marcus is on her computer, emailing someone.  It’s the opening scene.    

JENNIFER

(To the audience). Dr. Yakunin says I can trust you. But just because you have a reference like that doesn’t mean we’re going to work together or that I don’t have other options, okay? Let’s just say, I’ve done some research and I know your competition. Ramirez? Bloomstedt? Okay? So I’m not going to take a lot of clandestine bullshit, alright? [lines cut] That was stupid, ‘cause hey, you know, I’ve had dreams of sleeping with my dad, who hasn’t? But they’re never sexy and it’s fucking gross, you know? Okay, weird. I’m a weirdo. Soooo we got off track for a sec, and now we’re gonna get back on it. (She sprays the computer with disinfectant. To the audience.) I see you’ve made some creative investments in the last year. Money in Chilean bonds, a racehorse named “El Jefe.” In your line of work I guess you just don’t have time to master the basics of money management. Laughing out loud!

p.13-14: Jennifer is working at her computer again. She’s communicating with an unknown person.     

JENNIFER

(To the audience.) Okay, so this firewall is serious. Have you installed it yet? (Pause.) Yes, go ahead, check. (A “hacker alert” noise from the computer. To the audience. Pause.) Oh, that’s cute. (She types in something and the “alert noise stops. She sprays the computer screen with disinfectant. We hear a “blip” noise from the computer. To the audience, annoyed.) Yeah, I’m here. Installed? Goooood. You never know which one of the big boys might be listening in, right? CIA? NSA? We have to be careful, oh, and uh, yeah, we need to stick to what we’re good at, okay? [lines cut] Oh yeah, and I’m rich. Not super rich. Just regular rich. I feel it’s important that you know a little about me, and trust me, okay, you’ll need it for the job. This isn’t your average runaway case, okay? (We hear a “boink” noise from the computer. To the audienceI.) Christ. Can you hold on for a second? (The music cuts out again. Jennifer types into the computer.) Hello Preston.

 

Representative Scenes: 

p.65-68: Jennifer confronts Jenny after she returns from China and blames her for things going wrong with her birth mother. In a fit of anger and disappointment, she sends Jenny away.  Long scene.  Starts with

JENNY CHOW

Jennifer.

and ends with

JENNY CHOW

I am very beautiful.

 

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

Hodgins, P. (2003, May 05). `Intelligent design’ hits its marks // the relationship between genius and madness is probed by a fine new theatrical voice. Orange County Register.

Shirley, D. (2003, May 05). THEATER REVIEW; ‘jenny’s’ instant message; dazzling stagecraft illuminates the world of a computer-obsessed, ingenious recluse in ‘jenny chow.’. Los Angeles Times, p.E1.

 

Cock – Mike Bartlett

cock

First performed at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London, on November 13, 2009.

Original Cast:

John                      Ben Whishaw
M                            Andrew Scott
W                            Katherine Parkinson
F                             Paul Jesson

Director:  James Macdonald
Designer:  Miriam Buether
Lighting:  Peter mumford
Sound:  David McSeveney

Publication:  Bartlett, Mike. Cock. Methuen Drama, 2009. Drama Library PR6102.A7838 C63 2009b

Setting:  The present.

Language:  Contemporary; lots of run-on thoughts, long pauses, breaks in character’s lines, and moments when they say nothing

M

What are you? Most people seem to come together pretty well, their atoms hold, and you can look at them and go oh, that’s my mate Steve, that’s the queen, but you, you don’t seem to have grown coherently

You’re a collection of things that don’t amount

You’re a sprawl

A mob.

You don’t add up.

Genre/Style:  Serio-Comedic

Plot:   John, who has been in a long-term gay relationship with M, meets and falls in love with a woman, W, and has to decide who he is and who he wants to be with.  The play is staged without furniture or props so that all of the audience’s focus is on the action of the drama unfolding in front of them.  Most of the scenes in the play are short and sparse, leaving a lot of room for an actor’s interpretation.  The only scene that feels a little unreal in the play is the Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfish dinner party attended by John, M, W, and F, M’s father.  It seems highly unlikely that John would agree to have his two lovers meet face-to-face to hear his decision over dinner.  Add to that M’s father, and the scene threatens to tip the play from realism to near farce.  Also, even though the other characters allude to their befuddlement as to why they want him so much, I’m not quite convinced that John is worth all of the soul-searching, heartache, and turmoil that he causes his two lovers.  In a play where characters fight not to be defined by their sexuality, but their identity, there is very little on view in John’s case.  We never even find out what he does.  A lot of his charm would have to depend on the actor portraying him because, as written, he appears childish, indecisive, completely self-absorbed, and a bit of a cipher. Of course, both M and W have some unpleasant character traits as well.  W comes across as combative, defensive, and overly solicitous of John, who doesn’t seem worthy of her fierce loyalty; M is controlling, belittling of John, and fights dirty by inviting his dad to dinner, but he’s also genuinely hurt by John’s betrayal and seems to honestly love him.

 

 

 

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.33-34:  W explains why she hates weekends. John’s line can be cut.

W

It’s weekends that are the problem. Weeks are fine, they’re great. Friday-night parties, after-work drinks this is when you’re in your element, you can do what you want, but it gets to Saturday afternoon…. [Lines cut] What would it be like, could we spend our whole lives togtehr , and looking I’m going to be honest shit—Jesus I’m really talking here.

[JOHN

It’s fine.]

W

I mean I’m so jealous of the ones that I think are really in love. [Lines cut] …I’ll never do it again I would rather be on my own that do that however fucking lonely I get. Ha!

p.87-88:  John talks about coming out and being defined by words and how it’s not about the sex of the person you love but who they are.  M’s lines can be cut.

JOHN

You want to know what I am okay okay I don’t know okay.

When I was at uni and I finally decided I’d do it and come out, all these people hugged me and were proud of me and said how brave I was and suddenly people were touching me… [Lines cut] Gay straight, words from the sixties made by our parents, sound so old, only invented to get rights, and we’ve got rights now so

[M

Some rights, not enough and…how did we get on to this?]

JOHN

They’re horrible horrible words what they do how they stop you

[M

 / ‘horrible words’]

JOHN

and I can see now I can see tht it’s about who the person is. Not man or woman but What they’re like. What they do. [Lines cut] So why are you telling me that what I sleep with is more important tha[n] who I sleep with?

p.90-91:  M tries one last time to keep John.

M

So the dessert was cheesecake here it is:  cheesecake. I made your favourite John your favourite in all the world, a nice cheesecake I think it was going to be a tactic a final gesture in case things   hadn’t gone well…[Lines cut] There’s your cheesecake, if you feel like staying with me for a bit you could have some we culd share a piece if you like but you’re going with her aren’t you so you should probably fuck off now, and me and Dad’ll eat it instead. Bye.

p.93-94:  W tries one last time to convince John to leave with her.  John’s line can be cut.

W

So I’ll go for ever, and me wearing your shirt, in a hotel in Paris, walking around glimpses of what’s between my legs,

[JOHN

/ Fuck]

W

all of that and everything else in the future, all leaving, all going, me pregnant eating biscuits and then the hospital bed, everything you described to me, everything we imagined, you holding my hand, and Jack’s born and grows up there he is…[Lines cut] …and you’ll be left with him. Just him.

[Lines cut]

Bye.

 

 

Representative Scenes:  All of the scenes in the play before the dinner party at the end are two-person scenes, either M-M or M-F, so there are a lot to choose from.

p. 14-17:  John has returned home with a gift of teddy bears after having left M.   M is suspicious and John finally confesses that he’s slept with someone else, a woman.  Starts with

M

So what have you done?

and ends with

JOHN

I am.

It was a week ago.

p.43-47:  John meets W to tell her they can’t see each other anymore because M knows.  Starts with

JOHN

I don’t know how to explain this but the thing is you have to stop following me.

and ends with

W

So?

Sugar.

What are you going to do?

 

 

 

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

Benedict, D. (2009). COCK. Variety, 417(3), 40.

Billington, M. (2009, Nov 19). Reviews: Theatre: Cock: Royal court, london 3/5. The Guardian, pp. 38.

Hemming, S. (2009, Nov 21). Cock. Financial Times, pp. 14.

Letts, Q. (2009, Nov 19). Quentin letts first night review [edition 2]. Daily Mail, pp. 30.

Sierz, A. (2009). A compelling combination of sharp writing and acting talent. Stage, (6709), 19.

Soloski, A. (2012, May 23). Cock: Fight club. [open access] The Village Voice, pp. 1.

Spencer, C. (2009, Nov 19). First night cock royal court tame tale whimpers to the end. The Daily Telegraph, pp. 35.

Taylor, P. (2009, Nov 23). A brilliant study in bisexuality. The Independent, pp. 16.