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"Two"  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007 12:28 pm
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J Brian Long
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(This is the first play I have ever written. It is probably an atrocity against Theatre. It

is probably the type of play real playwrights e-mail to one another under titles such as

"OMG, U have to read this CRAP"  and the like. I apologize in advance. Forgive me,

I know not what I do.)

 

"Two" is a play in which all verbal communication between characters utilizes only the

numbers 0,1,2, and 3. I did this to mute as much as possible my own biases, my hope

being that the exclusion of any of my own specific words in the dialogue invites the

inclusion of the audience's more general ones so that the concept of "2" becomes

as diverse as are the individuals of a given audience (so that the audience, essentially,

writes the dialogue of this play). That said, without actual words to conjure the magic

that invokes this sort of interaction (that is, the story) inflection becomes paramount to the

provision of that very strange (and very wonderful) talisman. Above all, I wanted this to

be a piece of work that could only exist (effectively) as a play.

 

 

                                                                 "Two"

                                                        a one-minute play

Characters:

Man

Woman

Officer

Prophet

Passers-by

 

(
The lights rise to reveal a bus-stop scene, the primary components of which

consist of two park benches, one stage right, the other stage left, both facing

audience. A lamp post is stationed center stage whereat stands Prophet ser-

monizing in a dramatic fashion to Passers-by, who appear annoyed at and/or

uncomfortable with his presence, but gathered near him just the same to observe

the spectacle.)

 

Prophet: (zealously with grand gesturing): 3! 3! 033313!

 

(Sarcastic laughter among crowd, general muttering --of 1's and 0's-- among

themselves.)

 

Prophet: (intensely, pointing finger at crowd) 3! 0313333! 3! 3!

 

(
More mean-spirited laughter from crowd as Officer enters stage left at a quick

pace, brushing aside some in crowd to reach Prophet. Man enters stage left a

little behind Officer, but at a much slower pace and stops short of crowd near stage

left bench, watches curiously. Woman enters stage right, pauses short of crowd

near stage right bench, also watches attentively.)

 

Officer: (to Prophet, sternly): 011? 1!

 

Prophet: (nervously, defensively): 0. 1. 1. 1. 0.

 

Officer: (scolding): 0011010!

 

Prophet: (angrily): 031310333! 3!

 

Officer: (
shaking head, but secretly pleased with himself at having goaded Prophet,

grabs Prophet by arm and begins escorting him hastily off-stage)
: 1! 01101101110.

 

(Prophet struggles in vain to free himself, protests vehemently as exiting stage, shouting 3's loudly.)

 

Passer-by A: (mocking Prophet's gestures and voice): 3! 3! 3!

 

(
Crowd laughs then begins to disperse in pairs and threesomes to exit stage,

leaving Man and Woman alone on stage near their respective benches.
Man

and Woman's gazes meet, man shrugs exaggeratedly, expressing his lack of

understanding about what had just occurred. Woman smiles, nods in agreement,

then shakes her head sadly as she takes a seat on her bench. Man sighs loudly

and sits on the bench nearest him, places his face in his hands, resting his elbows

on his knees; appears weary.)

 

Man: (tiredly): 011. 0. 1. 1. (quietly, to no one in particular, almost to himself):

0. 1. 1. ...2.

 

(Woman, over-hearing Man, rises gradually, intrigued at what she thinks she heard,

nears Man cautiously, slowly, but also searchingly.
)

 

Woman: 011?

 

Man: (lifting his head from his hands, looking at Woman): 011?

 

Woman: (a bit intensely, fearing the moment will be lost): 0. 1. 1. 011?

 

Man: (unsure): 0? 1?

 

Woman: (shaking head): 000! (a tad desperately) 011?

 

Man: (spreading hands, confusedly): 0. 1...

 

(Woman shakes head emphatically, urges him on with hand gestures.)

 

Man: (timidly): ...2?

 

Woman: (excitedly): 2! 1! 1! (
then wonderingly as she takes a seat beside him on his

bench):
2. 2...

 

Man: (smiling, now also pleased with his discovery): 2...

 

(Man and Woman look at one another, surprised, intrigued, as if they have just

now actually seen one another for the first time. Woman forwardly places her hand

on Man's arm.)

 

Man, Woman, (together): 2...

 

(
Lights dim to dark.)

 

--J Brian Long

Last edited on Thu Mar 22nd, 2007 04:45 pm by J Brian Long

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 Posted: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007 01:54 pm
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Paddy
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I don't know, Brian.  I found this quite intriguing.  I think it would all depend on how it was done.

Paddy

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 Posted: Thu Mar 22nd, 2007 03:10 pm
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ohdear
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00000000001

2222.32

313!

02020...

0000

3?

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 Posted: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 12:52 pm
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J Brian Long
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Paddy,

 

I'll take "quite intriguing". Thank you,

 

Sincerely,

--J Brian Long

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 Posted: Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 01:06 pm
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J Brian Long
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Oh Dear,

 

"00000000001"

I would love to, but I haven't done that in years; I might be a little rusty. If you

bring the duck, I'll bring the pillowcase.

 

"2222.32"

Thanks! That was sweet of you. (One question: the traveler's checks, I get, but I don't get the

purpose of clubbing the octopi...explain?)

 

"313!"

I wouldn't recommend it; I have heard it's bad for the kidneys. Besides, who needs

that much propane?



"02020..."

Exactly! The last time I was there they kicked me out for the same reason! Prudes.

Come as you are should mean what it says, I say!



"0000"

Not since my time in jail. That was a long time ago; I don't want to talk about it.



"3?"

Maybe. But, you have to understand, if we don't spelunk, the terrorists win...

 

--J Brian Long



Last edited on Fri Mar 23rd, 2007 01:13 pm by J Brian Long

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 Posted: Sat Mar 24th, 2007 01:29 am
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timmy
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J Brian:

i too find this interesting. The substitution of numbers for words is not that farfetched. I like the culmination into "2"...wiith the proper actors, I think this could be more than fun.

check this website...might help with any re-writes or additional ideas.

http://www.psinvention.com/zoetic/basenumb.htm

timmy

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 Posted: Sat Mar 24th, 2007 05:11 am
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ohdear
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"00000000001"

I would love to, but I haven't done that in years; I might be a little rusty. If you

bring the duck, I'll bring the pillowcase.

0000000000000!

 

"2222.32"

Thanks! That was sweet of you. (One question: the traveler's checks, I get, but I don't get the

purpose of clubbing the octopi...explain?)

34567.

 

"313!"

I wouldn't recommend it; I have heard it's bad for the kidneys. Besides, who needs

that much propane?

223.45



"02020..."

Exactly! The last time I was there they kicked me out for the same reason! Prudes.

Come as you are should mean what it says, I say!


300069?



"0000"

Not since my time in jail. That was a long time ago; I don't want to talk about it.


55555555555555555555555!



"3?"

Maybe. But, you have to understand, if we don't spelunk, the terrorists win...

  666.

--J Brian Long

My Dear Brian,
With an imagination as vivid as yours I morn the loss of words in your piece.

It will work for sure, it will be fun and an actor can really get into this piece and make it what ever they like.

My problem, being a lazy git at heart, is that I want to have your words cast their spell on my mind. I want to be transported into another world through your eyes. I dont want to have to work at imposing my interpretation into your work.

You are very clever with words and I just LOVE your answer to my reply. With a rich bank of imagination such as this, I feel robbed.

I yearn to see you do something with words.
That does not mean that your 22331 piece did not work, but it was a disappointment to me for I long to see some of the images inside your mind on paper. Living in hope and anticipation.

Robyn

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 Posted: Mon Mar 26th, 2007 11:44 am
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J Brian Long
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Timmy,

Thank you for the link and for the kind words. I truly appreciate them.

--J Brian Long

 

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 Posted: Mon Mar 26th, 2007 11:50 am
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J Brian Long
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Oh Dear,

Thank you for your interest in my words; the piece I am working on now

is more of what I think it is you are looking for, though I fear I might

disappoint you in light of such high hopes:

 

"I want to have your words cast their spell on my mind. I want to be transported into another world through your eyes."

"I yearn to see you do something with words. "

"Living in hope and anticipation."

 

That puts a lot of pressure on a guy!

Thanks, though, truly.

--J Brian Long



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 Posted: Mon Mar 26th, 2007 03:56 pm
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ohdear
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No need for performance anxiety.

It is not that I have high expectations of your work.

It is that I know I already enjoy your imaginitive humour and creative mind.

Just be yourself.
That will be more than enough to satisfy me.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 27th, 2007 06:32 am
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Poet
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JBL

In a strange way this reminds me of something I have seen by - I think - either the late, great Ronnie Barker or the still early, great Eric Sykes (and I can't remember which). It was a whole film, feature length, where the only word used was 'rhubarb' - but the different uses, expressions, volume and vocalisation of that word gave it meaning. Loudly and gruffly, it meant anger; softly and gently it meant love; rising in tone toward he end of a sentence it meant query; dropping in tone, it meant answering denial and so forth!

It could demand a lot of a cast - but I do wonder if you could maybe get an entire play out of this! You could maybe even do it as a musical?

It was... different. Don't think it's fulfilled its potential yet; it could grow up stronger!

Good call.

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 Posted: Tue Mar 27th, 2007 11:37 am
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J Brian Long
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Poet,

"In a strange way this reminds me of something I have seen by - I think - either the late, great Ronnie Barker or the still early, great Eric Sykes (and I can't remember which). It was a whole film, feature length, where the only word used was 'rhubarb' - but the different uses, expressions, volume and vocalisation of that word gave it meaning. Loudly and gruffly, it meant anger; softly and gently it meant love; rising in tone toward he end of a sentence it meant query; dropping in tone, it meant answering denial and so forth!"

 

I had a strong feeling that what I was doing with this play wasn't completely an original

idea (is there such a thing anymore?), and your post confirmed that for me. Thank you.

 

"It could demand a lot of a cast - but I do wonder if you could maybe get an entire play out of this! You could maybe even do it as a musical?"

 

You may have far more faith in me than I have in myself; I feel fortunate to have

milked even a minute of half-formed theater out of this idea! Thank you, though, for the

encouragement!

 

This, I think, says much: "It was... different. Don't think it's fulfilled its potential

yet; it could grow up stronger!" The elipse, the diplomacy of "fulfilled its potential",

the hopeful "could", and the friendly, optimistic exclamation point at the end are all tells

of your kind-heartedness. I appreciate the gentleness you displayed to my virgin effort.


 

Your comments are genuinely appreciated.

 

--J Brian Long

 


 

Last edited on Tue Mar 27th, 2007 09:40 pm by J Brian Long

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 Posted: Tue Mar 27th, 2007 05:20 pm
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LeesuhBee
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JBL,

I will put in my two cents and say that I am a huge fan of theatre of this genre - absurdist type stuff. I can't get enough of The Bald Soprano. I really enjoyed your piece and think that it would be so fun for a director and a cast to get a hold of. 

yours numerically, 

- lisa b

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 Posted: Tue Mar 27th, 2007 05:40 pm
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J Brian Long
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Lisa B,

Thank you so much!

--J Brian Long

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 Posted: Wed Mar 28th, 2007 05:37 am
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Poet
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JBL

Please don't take anyting I say as either (a) authorative or (b) criticism! What I meant by all my comments was that I felt you definitely had a strong idea here, there's a similar (not identical) successful precedent for what could otherwise be considered to be a somewhat tangential approach, and that what you have seems, to me, to be worthy of more than a careless toss into some drawers (oooeeerr missus).

Leesuh makes a good point - with the implied subtext that just because something is absurdist doesn't mean it's an absurd idea. I'd definitely look for more here.

Maybe a reading or a workshop would help. I reckon if you got a bunch of halfway talented actors in a room and explained what you were trying to achieve, you'd get a good idea from the map that you have sketched whether there was a longer journey here.

The trick would, I think, be to conceive of enough strong emotions - and strong characters - to maintain momentum, generate pace and retain audience interest.  But if you could do that, and write sufficiently clear directions, I think you could say more without words than many say with them.

You could maybe explore immigration issues (with just one character, perhaps, who has restricted knowledge of the numbers, and so uses the wrong ones, or in the wrong order, and is therefore shunned or derided by the others, ); disability (another who knows the numbers but who simply cannot say them coherently, or another who is dumb and can only sign the numbers, which the others would not understand but the audience would, or another who has tourettes and keeps shouting the shocking 4, 5 and 6 and, worse, the obscene 7 and 8, even an occasional 8 or 9); or xenophobia (with one character who only spoke in letters).

Any one might make a human study and give you a standpoint on the topic. All of them in one play possibly gives you a commentary on how much we rely on words and how, actually, the words themselves are somewhat trivial, because it's only one's understanding of the words and one's acceptance - or otherwise - of the user which matter?

We all often talk glibly about getting the 'voice' right - it seems to me that this one would be an absolute sod! But even if it only made a one-act, I think it could be highly appealling to directors; especially as it almost screams for a relatively small cast and minimalist or zero set!

At worst, a good competition piece, I'd have thought. But as I say at the top, I am no authority; others here are far, far better placed to judge, and I'd be perfectly happy for anyone to allege that I'm talking total crap!

If this was executed well I think it would be very, very good. If it wasn't...

Good luck - or should I say '10'?!

Last edited on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 05:39 am by Poet

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 Posted: Wed Mar 28th, 2007 11:48 am
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J Brian Long
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Poet,

Thank you for your thoughftul and informative clarification, though I never

took your original comments as anything other than well-meaning, informed,

and helpful commentary. 



The ideas you express in your second post are an excellent elaboration on the

original.



Please feel free to offer any opinion you have on anything I post, ever: even

if ends up being authoritative criticism (which I understand your original post was

not); criticism can be a good thing; I have benefited from it innumerable times

(and yes, I know I'm asking for it!)

 


Again, thank you,

--J Brian Long


Last edited on Wed Mar 28th, 2007 11:52 am by J Brian Long

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