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.

 

The Sugar Syndrome – Lucy Prebble

sugarsyndrome

First performed by English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London, October 16, 2003.  First produced in the US by the Williamstown Theatre Festival, July 27, 2005.

Original Cast:

Dani Carter (17)                                               Stephanie Leonidas
Jan Carter (45)                                                 Kate Duchene
Tim Saunders (38)                                           Andrew Woodall
Lewis Sampson (22)                                        Will Ash
Voices of the Internet

Director:  Marianne Elliott
Set Designer:  Jonathan Fensom
Lighting Designer:
  Chris Davey
Sound Designer:
  Ian Dickinson

Publication:  Prebbles, Lucy. The Sugar Syndrome. Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Drama Library PR6116. R42 S84 2006..

Setting:  England

Language:  Contemporary with British slang.

TIM

It’s only once you reach an age when you realize why you hate your parents that you become too polite to articulate it.

Genre/Style:  Serio-comedy

Plot:   A 17-year-old girl meets two strangers (a 22-year-old telemarketer and a 38-year-old convicted pedophile) online and develops relationships with them in real life.  Manages to be funny while dealing with serious issues; looks at pedophilia from the point of view of the pedophile.  Despite its subject matter, the play avoids being sensational or puerile.

 

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: Tim talks about his attraction to a little girl in his building

TIM

I just want to hear what her voice sounds like. (Smiles to himself.) She’s a little madam. At the weekend, she was sitting on the wall, with this cloth doll, she wasn’t even playing with it, she was watching her brothers. [Lines cut] So he takes the doll and he holds it over the skip like he might just drop it any second, but she just sits on the wall. Isn’t even bothered, so he’s got nothing on her. She just taught him a lesson and the doll can go hang.

p.33-34:  Lewis hasn’t been able to reach Dani for a while so he drafts an email to her, which he doesn’t send.

LEWIS

Dani. You absent bitch. I miss you. It’s been six days, man. I’m sounding a little bit mental, which I don’t like. I rang you again and no answer. I get the feeling you’re actively not ringing me now. What if you’re dead? [Lines cut]Will you not write just write a little? Just to keep me going? ‘Cause I just keep imagining what you could be doing and it’s sending me mental. I’m sorry but it is. I miss you. Obviously in a manly, independent, not bothered way. But I do. (He sighs.)

 

Representative Scenes: 

p. 13-15:  Dani finds out that Tim has been in prison and he tells her how he was subjected to aversion therapy. Part of Dani’s first line can be cut. Starts with

DANI

[Oh, well, that’s alright then.] You’ve got a nice voice. Let me guess, unemployed actor? Late-night DJ.

and ends with

TIM

(Considers.) It made me want to electrocute kids.

p. 19-21:  Dani and Lewis are hanging out at his place and Lewis is trying to get Dani to have sex with him even though she’s having her period.  Starts with

DANI

She doesn’t think anything she doesn’t say. It’s like if she’s putting something somewhere she goes, “I’ll just put that there.” Who the fuck is she talking to? Or she’s driving and she’s just, “Ooh, what’s he doing? I think we’ll park over there.” Shut up. She’s like Cassandra except her curse is to speak and have people want to beat her over the head with a hammer.

and ends with

LEWIS

(He squeezes her bum.) I’ll see your kiss and raise you a bum squeeze. Com on, one bum squeeze to stay in the game. (Dany squeezes his bum, play-reluctantly. Throughout, Lewis moves to be on top of her.) Oh, she’s seen it! She’s staying in. Question is, is she bluffing? (American accent.) And here we can see, Marty, with our special under-the-table cameras that Dani the “D-Man” Carter has a pair she’s been hiding. (He puts his hand up her top.) Can she go all the way? Let’s find out with the rest of the flop.

p.24-26:  Tim talks about his attraction to a little girl named Domino and his love affair with a boy named David.  Starts with

TIM

You’re going to read all those?

and ends with

DANI

Thing is with boyfriends, is eventually they’re going to want to take you out to dinner.

p.41-43:  Lewis goes to Tim’s apartment looking for Dani and threatens Tim with exposure if he does anything to Dani.  Starts with

LEWIS

Look mate. I know all about you and unless you want your neighbors to know and all I’d let me in.

and ends with

TIM

                I know, Lewis, you could. And I’m terrified ’cause I’ve got just so much to lose.

 

 

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

Billington, M. (2003, Oct 21). Review: Last night’s show: Theatre: The sugar syndrome: Royal court, london 3/5. The Guardian, pp. 30.

de Jongh, N. (2003, Oct 21). Depraved new world ; THEATRE. Evening Standard, pp. 46.

Macaulay, A. (2003, Oct 23). The sugar syndrome royal court, london. Financial Times, pp. 19.

Nightingale, B. (2003, Oct 21). The sugar syndrome. The Times, pp. 19.

Taylor, P. (2003, Oct 30). Theatre: Girls will be boys in a mixed-up world. The Independent, pp. 14.