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Looking for feedback on a One Act  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Sat May 31st, 2014 09:50 am
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Laphillyboy
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Joined: Thu May 29th, 2014
Location: Los Angeles, California USA
Posts: 31
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Mana: 
I appreciate any and all input from my fellow writers and also from actors and directors since I have never been involved in any real stagecraft.    I had a lot of trouble cutting and pasting this since I originally wrote it in Final Draft.  So I ultimately just saved it as a txt file and plopped it in without any real formatting.  Then I went through and did all the line spacing myself.  Is that how we all have to do it? 

This times out at about 34 mins when I read it aloud.


- Jim C

 
 
"UNTITLED #43"
 
A ONE ACT PLAY
By Jim Christopher
 
 
CAST OF THE PLAY
 
MAN #1
WOMAN #1
MAN #2
WOMAN #2
MAN #3
MAN #4
WOMAN #3
WOMAN #4
TALL MAN
SECURITY GUARD
 
SCENE:  A Modern Art Gallery
 
TIME:   The present
 
 
SCENE 1

The stage is bare except for a single object of modest size and indeterminate shape placed downstage center on a pedestal, encircled by a velvet rope on chrome posts. The object is lit by a single light from above.  (Note: this object can be anything - for the purposes of the play, it doesn't really matter what it is).   A female SECURITY GUARD in uniform, stands watch a dozen feet stage right.  The background music is omnipresent artsy deep-throated Himalayan Mountain singing.  After a few moments, MAN #1 and WOMAN #1 enter stage left.  MAN #1 is peering at an Exhibit Booklet.


MAN #1
(pointing to the object)
This one isn't listed.

WOMAN #1
Are you sure?

MAN #1
Isn't that what I said?

WOMAN #1
Yes, but... can I look?

MAN #1
You don't believe me?  See for yourself.

He pushes the booklet in her direction.  Before she can take it the booklet falls to the floor.  They both stare at it.  Neither one moves.


WOMAN #1
Really? 

MAN #1
What?

WOMAN #1
You're not going to hand it to me?

MAN #1
I did hand it to you - you dropped it?

WOMAN #1
Will you pick it up?

MAN #1
I thought you were going through an "independent phase."  Doing things on your own.  You want to "stretch your "wings?"  Go ahead, stretch.

WOMAN #1
Is that what this is about?  That conversation.  You're bringing that up now?

MAN #1
You're the one who brought it up at lunch, not me. Said you felt like you were "in a box."    I guess I'm the one who put you in there.  There aren't any boxes here.  Be whoever you want.  You want to see other people - be my guest.  It's a free country.

WOMAN #1
I never said anything about seeing other people.  That wasn't the point.

MAN #1
Oh really?  What is the point then?

WOMAN #1
Forget it.

She leans down and picks up the Exhibit booklet.  Scans for the page and finds it.

WOMAN #1
(points to page)
It's right here.  It says it's called "Untitled #43."

MAN #1
No, that's not it.  We saw that one. That was the thing with the round thing and the whatchamacallit back in the other room.

WOMAN #1
No.  That was a different one.  This is it.  Untitled #43.

MAN #1
I don't think so.

WOMAN #1
Can't you be wrong?

MAN #1
I could... but I'm not.

WOMAN #1
You are such a man.

MAN #1
Thanks for noticing.

WOMAN #1
Look it says right here.  "Found materials." Well.... (points)  That's found right?

MAN #1
That's not found.  Look at it.  He made that. 

WOMAN #1
He?  How do you know it was a he?

MAN #1
Excuse me - Zee Artist.   This piece was obviously constructed with intent.  A specific purpose.  A meaning. 

WOMAN #1
Really?  So what does it mean?

MAN #1
Isn't it obvious?  Life is hard.  It's a  constant battle.  A struggle to make sanity out of the insane.  To build some kind of order out of the chaos.  Humans fight to overcome the forces that are trying to crush us - meanwhile the universe just laughs at us - and craps all over our dreams.   

WOMAN #1 pauses to look around quizzically. 

WOMAN #1
You see all that in there?

MAN #1
Of course. Look at it.

WOMAN #1
I don't see any of that at all.  

MAN #1
What do you see?

WOMAN #1
I see something more to do with people's inability to communicate.  Look at the silence of it.  It makes me think of that story in the Bible - of The Tower of Babel.   How God mixed up the languages so we wouldn't be able to talk to one another.  And that's where all this constant fighting comes from - miscommunication.  Because we never listen to anyone else.  We're just stuck in our own little walled in spaces - and we can't reach out.

MAN #1
Kind of like being in a box, huh?

WOMAN #1
Very funny.  But yeah, kind of like that.

MAN #1
I still think they should have given it a title.

WOMAN #1
Why do you have to put a label on everything?  Why can't it just be Untitled #43?

MAN #1
'Cause that's the cheap way out.  That's just being lazy.

WOMAN #1
So any title is better.  Even if it's a bad one?

MAN #1
Yeah.  Any title is better.  It's better to know something than nothing.

WOMAN #1
My dad used to say, "Better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you're stupid, than to open it up and prove them right," 

MAN #1
Well he should know.  He's a real piece of work that one.

WOMAN #1
My Dad?  At least he has an open mind.

MAN #1
That's for sure.  His mind is like his hand.  Always open and always out.

WOMAN #1
That is not fair.   He struggles.  He hasn't always succeeded.  But he does the best he can.   You could learn from him.

MAN #1
Learn what?  How to mooch off my own kids? 

WOMAN #1
You could learn to be humble.

MAN #1
You think that's being humble?  Humble is when you've reached the top and you remember where you came from.  Humble is when you have a lot and you still give back.   The only thing humble about your old man is the pie he eats every time he comes to us looking for a handout.  

WOMAN #1
I can't believe you.  This conversation is over.

MAN #1
Oh look, we're struggling to communicate.  It must be because of the Tower of Babel.

WOMAN #1
You can be such a jerk.

MAN #1
You don't like it because you know I'm right.

WOMAN #1
About what?

MAN #1
About your Dad.  Sure he treats you like his little princess, but he was, is now and always will be a freeloader.   

WOMAN #1
My father is an artist.  That's something you wouldn't understand.

MAN #1
Hey, I understand.  Everyone is an artist.  Look around.  The world is full of them.  Some of us just happen to get paid.

WOMAN #1
Is that all that matters to you - how much you get paid?

MAN #1
It's a good way to judge whether something you do has value or not. 

WOMAN #1
What you do is not art.

MAN #1
I create powerful images that happen to help sell products.

WOMAN #1
Products like pimple cream... and wart remover.

MAN #1
Exactly.

WOMAN #1
That's not art.

MAN #1
Millions of people would disagree with you.

WOMAN #1
It wouldn't be the first time.

MAN #1
What do you call it then?

WOMAN #1
Prostitution.

MAN #1
Really.  Well that prostitution pays the mortgage and the electric bill and it also keeps your old man from having to sleep on skid row with all the other under-appreciated artists who can't keep their face out of a bottle of strawberry ripple.

The WOMAN pauses as this last bit sinks in.


WOMAN #1
I guess he does drink too much.

MAN #1
Ya think?

WOMAN #1
He's been so sad, ever since Mom died.

MAN #1
He was sad long before that.

WOMAN #1
Can we stop and see him on the way home?

MAN #1
Oh god, please don't make me...

WOMAN #1
Come on baby, please?   He's been sick.  I'm worried about him.  I won't stay long.  We can tell him about this show.  He'll be so interested.   You can show him how smart you are.  Tell him all your interesting theories about art.  Please... please?

MAN #1
Then we go right home?

WOMAN #1
Of course.

MAN #1
Snuggle time - with an old movie.  Something in Black and white?

WOMAN #1
Anything you want.  Just you and me.
They stare at one another for a long beat.

MAN #1
I don't want you seeing any other guys.

WOMAN #1
Of course not.  I don't want to.  I never did.  I've been stressed out is all.  You're the only one for me, you know that.

MAN #1
I couldn't bear to lose you.   It would kill me.

WOMAN #1
I'm not going anywhere.  I promise.   

MAN #1
Fine.  Let's get going then. 

WOMAN #1
Thank you, baby.  For listening to me. 

MAN #1
I am a jerk.  And a prostitute.

WOMAN #1
No your not. 

They continue to chat as they EXIT stage right.  The SECURITY GUARD watches them go then takes out a pad and writes a note.  


BLACKOUT.
 
 
SCENE 2

The same stage with the same work of art.   The SECURITY GUARD places the pad in her pocket as another MAN and WOMAN ENTER stage left. 

MAN#2, in his mid-40's, is handsome and well-dressed, and WOMAN #2 is elegant and attractive in designer clothes holding a cellphone  that she occasionally checks showing some concern.

MAN #2
(indicating the piece)
Good Lord.  Look at it. 

WOMAN #2
My god, you're right.

MAN #2
It's... unbelievable.

WOMAN #2
Stunning.

MAN #2
It's incredible.

WOMAN #1
Absolutely.

MAN #2
Is it for sale?

WOMAN #2
Isn't everything?

MAN #2
Do you think...?

WOMAN #2
Yes.  I think so.

MAN #2
It would have to...

WOMAN #2
Be a central point of focus.

MAN #2
It's that powerful.

WOMAN #2
It is very potent.

MAN #2
Vital.

WOMAN #2
Virile.

MAN #2
It would be the perfect addition.

WOMAN #2
I can't think of anything better.

WOMAN #2
I could look at it every day.

MAN #2
You'd have to.

WOMAN #2
Can we afford it?

MAN #2
How can we not?

WOMAN #2
I know.   But we want to be responsible.

MAN #2
We've had a good year.

WOMAN #2
Have we?

MAN #2
Yes.  Except for that investment in Phoenix. 

WOMAN #2
And for Michael.

MAN #2
Well of course, except for Michael.

She looks at the phone.  Sees nothing there.  Shakes her head with growing concern.


WOMAN #2
What are we going to do?

MAN #2
We're going to buy it.

WOMAN #2
Not about the art.

MAN #2
Oh you mean...?

WOMAN #2
About Michael.

MAN #2
Do we have to discuss that now?

WOMAN #2
When else?

MAN #2
I don't know.  I still can't believe it happened.

WOMAN #2
He almost succeeded.  Thank God for those paramedics.

MAN #2
I suppose it could have been worse.

WOMAN #2
(indicating the piece)
This reminds me of him:  The loneliness.  The desperation.

MAN #2
I try not to think about things like that.

WOMAN #2
How can you not?

MAN #2
Well, I mean, I think about it... just not like that.   I'm not like him. 

WOMAN #2
He's our son.

MAN #2
I know that.  You think I don't know that.

WOMAN #2
Sometimes I wonder.

MAN #2
What is that supposed to mean?

WOMAN #2
I just wonder, that's all.    Didn't you ever feel that way?  When you were his age?  Did you ever lose your grip.  Struggle like he does?  He's a part of you. There's part of you in him.   I just wonder sometimes.  When you look at him.  What goes through your mind?

MAN #2
I don't know.  I don't understand him at all.

WOMAN #2
Maybe that's part of the problem?

MAN #2
You think it's me?  That I'm the problem?

WOMAN #2
I didn't say that.   I'm not accusing you. 

MAN #2
What then?  What are you saying?

WOMAN #2
I just... know how he feels sometimes.  I can relate. 

MAN #2
So I'm the common denominator? 

WOMAN #2
I don't mean it like that.  I just... I know what it's like to be around you.   He wants you to notice him.  To know what he's doing is good enough for you.  

MAN #2
Is that how you feel too?  Like I'm judging you?  I'm not judging  you.  I don't know where you get that from.  I'm not even paying attention half the time.

WOMAN #2
I know. 

MAN #2
I don't mean that.  Of course I pay attention.  I just mean... it's no big deal.  It doesn't make a difference to me.  You can do what you want.   Both of you.  I don't really care.

She silently stares at him.   Her look is neither accusing nor disenchanted.  It is a look of pity


MAN #2
Stop it.   I didn't mean it to sound like that.  See there you go.  Doing it again.  The both of you.  You're always twisting my words around. 

She continues to stare at him in silence.


MAN #2
What is it with you two?  What do you want from me?   No matter what I do or say, it isn't good enough.  You always want more, more, more.  I don't know what else I can do.  I try to listen to all your problems.  But it's just one thing after another.   I don't know what you think this world is about but it's clearly not the way you want it to be.  People have to get on with their lives - at some point to actually make something happen.  We're not all just little victims here you know. At some point you have to stand up and say:  Okay.  I'm the one.  I'm responsible for my life.  Good or bad.  This is me.  Let's get on with it.   You and Michael, I don't understand why but, It's like you're just never happy.

She waits until she knows he is finished
.

WOMAN #2
Do you feel better now?

MAN #2
No. Actually, I feel like crap.

WOMAN #2
So what are you going to do?

MAN #2
I don't know.  I'm out of ideas.

WOMAN #2
Can I make a suggestions?

MAN #2
Sure.  I mean... please do.

WOMAN #2
Call him.

MAN #2
Now? 

WOMAN #2
Why not?

MAN #2
But he's in that place.

WOMAN #2
Exactly.

MAN #2
You think that's what he needs?

WOMAN #2
I think it's what we all need.

The MAN walks in a tight circle around the piece of art contemplating her suggestion.


MAN #2
I'm not good at this stuff.

WOMAN #2
Nobody is good at this stuff.

He puts out his hand.


MAN #2
All right.  I'll give it a shot.   You'll be here, in case I...

WOMAN #2
Of course, I'll be right here. 

She smiles and hands him the cell phone.

MAN #2
(indicating the art piece)
What about this?

WOMAN #2
We'll have time for it later.

MAN #2
What I said back there, about you and him, I wasn't.... I didn't mean...

WOMAN #2
I know.

MAN #2
You know that I....

WOMAN #2
Of course I do.

MAN #2
I get so scared... I don't know what to say or do.  

WOMAN #2
I feel the same way.  All the time.

They exit stage right as he punches a number into the cell phone. The SECURITY GUARD waits a moment, peers around quickly and jots some more information onto her notepad.
  
 

SCENE 3

TWO MEN in their early 30's enter stage left.   MAN #3 is dark and chiseled with a muscular build wearing denims and a snug T-shirt, his companion, MAN #4 is of similar age and height but with slightly more delicate features and his clothes are a bit more stylish and up to date. 


They enter together, MAN #4 looking over his shoulder.


MAN #4
I don't know how we lost them.  They were right behind us.

MAN #3
I'm sure they stopped to look at something and got talking about it.  You know how women are. 

MAN #4
Yeah.  Or they went to the bathroom.  That can take all day.

MAN #3
(indicating the art piece)
What do you make of this pile of crap?

MAN #4
It's interesting.

MAN #3
Really?  You like it?

MAN #4 walks around the piece of art, contemplating it.


MAN #4
It says something.  I'm not sure it has a lot of depth.  It's a little self-referential but that might be a point the artist is trying to make.  You know, calling attention to the fact it may not be all it's cracked up to be.

MAN #3
Don't you think the whole Retro-Anti Pop thing is a little played out?

MAN #4
Not on this coast.   But nobody is all that interested in my opinion these days.   My regular blog readers are mostly overnight dot.com millionaires looking for a quick-art appreciation-fix, and the occasional insomniac "hater" on an all-night caffeine buzz. 

MAN #3
I read your blog.

MAN #4
And my sister's latest boyfriends, of course.

MAN #3
Is that what she calls me?  Her latest boyfriend?

MAN #4
Of course not.  That was me.  Sorry.  I didn't mean it like that.  You seem like a nice guy.

MAN #3
I try to be.  There are plenty of a-holes in the world so why add another to it.   I don't have a college degree or anything but I do read a lot - not just the sports section.  I keep up on everything I can, including art.  I got that Anti-Pop thing from an article I just read.

MAN #4
In Slate online.

MAN #3
Yeah, that is where I saw it.

MAN #4
I read it too.  They focused on the Soho art scene, which can be quite cliquey, but it doesn't mean nothing significant is happening there.  It's very cutting edge.

MAN #3
So I wasn't far off?

MAN #4
Not at all.  I was impressed by the reference.

MAN #3 smiles and moves closer so he can speak in confidence.

MAN #3
I gotta admit I was a little nervous coming here today.  I've met your wife several times,  but I've only heard stories about you.  Funny, you being her brother and all, but I guess they knew each other a long time before the two of you got together, so it makes sense.

MAN #4
They've been best friends since high school.  We didn't meet until I came home from college freshman year.   Even then, it took a while before she and I really hit it off. 

MAN #3
And the rest is his-tory.

MAN #4
Or "her-story."  Whoever you believe.

MAN #3
Look, I don't want to be rude but does it ever bother you?

MAN #4
What?  Them being friends?

MAN #3
They're more than friends.  They're like soulmates.  The way they talk to each other?  It's like they share the same brain.  Don't you feel like your on the outside looking in?

MAN #4
This is something you've experienced first hand?

MAN #3
Hell yeah.    I don't like another person having total access to my girlfriend's innermost secrets.

MAN #4
Isn't it the same as her having a therapist?

MAN #3
A therapist wouldn't come over twice a week for dinner and hang out with us at Yogurtland after a movie.   Those two talk about everything and I have to admit, sometimes I feel like it doesn't even matter if I'm there.  

MAN #4
That's just how it is.  They've been like that for twenty years.

MAN #3
It freaks me out.

MAN #4
I don't know what to tell you.

MAN #3
How do you and your wife deal with it?  Is there some line she knows not to cross?   When you two do something in bed or if you have an argument - suppose you say or do something that's really private - Do you tell her not to go blabbing it to your sister?  

MAN #4
I don't think that would be possible.

MAN #3
What about intimacy?

MAN #4
They have it.

MAN #3
Not theirs - yours. 

MAN #4
Have you ever been married?

MAN #3
I haven't met the right girl yet.

MAN #4
Let me explain something to you.  There is a special kind of bond between a man and a woman.  It's different than anything else.  And when you are married it becomes intense. You share deep insecurities, resentments, fears, hopes, dreams and anxieties.  And this is before we even talk about children entering the picture.  It's powerful and intense.  You might even call it profound.  But it pales to the point of almost nonexistence when compared with the depths of a relationship between two women who are really close.  Now before you start to kvetch and balk let me tell you - there is a good reason for this.  If your woman - any woman - shared every passing thought, fear, anxiety and insecurity with you, you would run screaming from the room or the hut or cave or wherever you live.  The same would happen if you were to share all that stuff with her.  Truth be told, you wouldn't, it's just not in your DNA because you are a man.  But women - at least the women I've had the pleasure of knowing - can barely hold on to sanity unless they have someone to listen to their every disturbing thought, every crippling fear, every absurd superstition, every paralyzing insecurity.  And they need to do this on a daily basis.  It's a survival mechanism as basic as knowing not to eat the poison berries or not putting your hand into the spinning blade between the fan belt and radiator.   Women have to interact with other women in order to survive.  I don't mess with that. 

MAN #3
Aren't guys and women basically the same?

MAN #4
You can't name two things more different in the universe than a man and a woman. 

MAN #3
A fish and a bicycle?

MAN #4
A lot more alike.

MAN #3
A doorknob and bowl of ramen noodles?

MAN #4
Synonyms - when compared to the difference between  men and women.

MAN #3
But you and I are sharing stuff.  What do you call this?

MAN #4
We're sharing opinions.  It's not the same.  It's like me telling you why the Boston Red Sox are better than the New York Yankees? 

MAN #3
But they're not.

MAN #4
See? That's your opinion.  And we could talk about it all day.  In the end I wouldn't know anything more about you than I did at the start of the conversation.  Then you could walk out of here and jump off a building.  When the newspapers interviewed me about it I'd say: "He seemed perfectly normal. We talked for an hour and he never said anything to indicate he was suicidal."  

MAN #3
I don't buy that at all.   Men and women aren't that different.  I think we just act different, especially when we get around members of the opposite sex.  Inside we're basically the same.  We all want love.  We all hope that other people like us.  We don't want to be hungry, or to get injured, or to lose all our money in a stock market crash. We worry about getting sick or crippled or being paralyzed or stuck in a coma and not being able to pursue any of our dreams.

MAN #4
How many of those things have you thought about today?

MAN #3
None of them really.

MAN #4
See what I mean?  Men are basically full of crap.

MAN #3
Alright.  I admit that part.  But what kind of stuff are you talking about?  These secret thoughts that women share that we don't ever discuss?

MAN #4
The truth.

MAN #3
What does that mean?  What is "the truth?"

MAN #4
Tell me one thought you've had in the last five minutes that made you uncomfortable.

MAN #3
I'm not sure I...

MAN #4
You see.  You can't do it. 

MAN #3
Hold on.  Uncomfortable?  Just one thought?

MAN #4
I'm waiting.

MAN #3
Alright.  Uh... I wondered if your sister told your wife about a problem she and I had in bed the other night.  

MAN #4
What kind of problem?

MAN #3
I'd rather not say.

MAN #4
See.  There you go again....

MAN #3
It was a performance issue!

MAN #4
(jokingly)
You don't have to shout.   It happens to everybody.

MAN #3 looks around to see if anyone is listening.  The SECURITY GUARD meets his gaze.  She nods politely.  Revealing nothing.


MAN #3
(lowering his tone)
Okay.  So, was that us just sharing the truth right there?

MAN #4
Under duress.

MAN #3
Alright.  Now it's your turn.  Come on.  Tell me an uncomfortable thought that you've had?

MAN #4
In the past five minutes?

MAN #3
Yeah. 

MAN #4
I thought that you were handsome...

MAN #3
That's not so weird.  I can understand...

MAN #4
And I'm attracted to you.

MAN #3
Now that's weird.

The TWO MEN stand near the work of art. MAN #3 sort of pretends he's looking at it.  Neither says anything for half a minute.  Their body language is stiff.   If there were a clock on the wall they would both surely hear it ticking.


MAN #3
Are you gay?

MAN #4
I don't think so.

MAN #3
You don't think so?

MAN #4
I've never had a reason to think I was. 

MAN #3
Well, maybe that was a little more truth than I was ready for at the moment.

MAN #4
It's just a feeling.  It doesn't have to mean anything.  I'm a happily married man and you are a guy who is dating my sister.  You don't act on every feeling you experience do you? 

MAN #3
Of course not.  Otherwise I'd have strangled my neighbor and his little freakin' Pomeranian weeks ago. 

MAN #4
The dog too?  That is demented. 

MAN #3
They're my twin tormentors.  It's a long story, I won't bore you.

MAN #4
Do you see my point now?  If we were girlfriends I'd already know about the neighbor and the Pomeranian and the Erectile Dysfunction issue.

MAN #3
There is no "dysfunction" issue.

MAN #4
Of course not.  I was just using that as an example. 

MAN #3
Okay.  Maybe there is.  But it's no big deal.  I'm not going to talk about it here. 

MAN #4
I understand.  You're a Yankees fan.

MAN #3 stares at the artwork while he tries to find the right words.


MAN #3
Look, I appreciate your honesty.  What you said there and all.  It's refreshing.  I'm not exactly inexperienced in this area.  I mean, I am straight but I've been around plenty of gay men and it's not the first time somebody told me that.  I'm flattered, really.   It doesn't bother me.  I'm not worried or anything.  Let's just keep it as our little secret.

MAN #4
I won't be telling anyone. 

MAN #3
Great.  Then you and I can be normal friends.  I'm not going to worry about what the girls are saying to each other, either.  Like you said, it's a survival thing.  It helps them keep their sanity. 

MAN #4
From time immemorial. 

MAN #3
(indicating art)
Okay.  So really.  What do you think about this piece?

MAN #4
It has a very sensual quality, don't you agree... 

MAN #3
Oh jeezus, shut up.

He moves to exit stage right as the conversation continues on their way out
.

MAN #4
It does lack a certain thrust...

MAN #3
Let's just stop talking altogether. 

MAN #4
Am I being hard on you?

MAN #3
Shut up. 

The SECURITY GUARD laughs discretely and shakes her head as she makes a few more notes.
 

BLACKOUT.


SCENE 4

TWO WOMEN, both in their mid-30's, enter Stage left.  They are engrossed in conversation.   Both are attractive and display a sense of style.
  

WOMAN #3
Oh my god, this same music, over and over.  It must be on some kind of loop. 

WOMAN #4
Is it just me or is it making you hungry too?

WOMAN #3
I was thinking the same thing.  Why am I starving?

WOMAN #4
I have to eat something soon or I'm going to drop.

WOMAN #3
We should stop at that Persian place.

WOMAN #4
I could go for a kabob or something.  At this point I could eat a goat.

WOMAN #3
Me too.  Whatever they have that's fast.  I'm getting to that point...

WOMAN #4
Seriously.  I am there already.  I hope I don't pass out.

WOMAN #3
What about the boys?  Do you see them anywhere?

WOMAN #4
I thought they were right in front of us. 

WOMAN #3
Maybe they went to the bathroom.

WOMAN #4
It seems like every time I turn around...

WOMAN #3
I know, it's like they have little hamster bladders.

WOMAN #4
Baby hamsters - like half the size of a thimble.

WOMAN #3
Then they drink coffee all day.

WOMAN #4
I'm telling you.  It's so true.

WOMAN #3
It's because they can just go anywhere.

WOMAN #4
They're right in and out.  Like it's a race.  You'd think they would slow down and comb their hair.

WOMAN #3
But they never do,.

WOMAN #4
Never.  Do they even know how?  They're in there like twelve times a day, they use the toilet, they wash their hands - God I hope they wash their hands - they must look in the mirror but they never comb their hair?  What are they thinking when they look at themselves?  With that one crazy clump of hair sticking straight up?  I guess they just look and think - great, looks fine to me. 

WOMAN #3
It's one of life's great mysteries: What men think when they look in the mirror.

WOMAN #4
I swear - I think they all see Brad Pitt looking back at them.

WOMAN #3
Must be nice.

WOMAN #4
Just once, I'd like to see Angelina Jolie.

WOMAN #3
Oh my god, wouldn't that be great.

WOMAN #4
I wonder who Angelina wishes she saw looking back.

WOMAN #3
Probably Ghandi, or Mother Theresa.

WOMAN #4
Can you imagine, Angelina Jolie wishes she looked like Mother Theresa with the crooked teeth and the bent over back?

WOMAN #3
But she had that smile.  She really was a Saint.  I wish I had an ounce of her faith - just a half thimble full.

WOMAN #4
But you do.  You've been great lately.  I wish I was on the same track as you.  I have to get back to yoga.  I swear I can't sit still for five minutes without my head spinning out.

WOMAN #3
Why don't you come with me tomorrow?   I'll pick you up.

WOMAN #4
That would be so great, but I can't.  I have to take Mom to the doctor.

WOMAN #3
How is she doing?

WOMAN #4
She goes back and forth.  She isn't taking care of herself or her diabetes.   I try to help her but you know how frustrating it is.   She focuses all her attention on Dad, on whether he's having a good or a bad day.  The next thing you know her sugar is through the roof.

WOMAN #3
Maybe you could get her to come to yoga with us.   The breathing would help.  Not tomorrow but eventually.  It might help her deal with your Dad crazy moods as well.

WOMAN #4
That's a great idea.  If I approach it the right way.  It can't be my idea.   Maybe I can find something on Oprah.  She listens to that woman religiously. 

WOMAN #3
My mom is the same way. I told her five hundred times to cut back on the butter and saturated fat and I get: "That's fine for your generation but your father needs his meat."  Then a few weeks ago there she is with broiled salmon, brown rice and a healthy salad on the table; her and Dad saw an episode of Dr. Oz; that was good enough for her.

WOMAN #4
That would be so great.  My dad still thinks you shouldn't eat anything unless you've hunted it down and killed it with your bare hands.

WOMAN #3
Oh  my god, I remember that one Thanksgiving...

WOMAN #4
The wild turkey with the huge hole in it.

WOMAN #3
It was like big enough to put your hand through.

WOMAN #4
Easy access to all that stuffing, though.

The TWO WOMEN laugh.

WOMAN #3
It must be so hard for him now, not being able to do anything.  Not even to walk.

WOMAN #4
Thank God for cable TV - it's all that keeps him from clinical depression. Did you know there is a whole Channel devoted to Guns & Ammunition.  It's like he died and went to heaven.   

WOMAN #3
I can't believe you grew up in that house - and then you married my brother.

WOMAN #4
Are you saying my husband isn't the macho outdoors-y type?

WOMAN #3
I remember how he cried for two days when his goldfish died. He was inconsolable.

WOMAN #4
He's masculine where it matters. 

WOMAN #3
You don't need to go further.

WOMAN #4
All I'm saying is.... It's not the size of the gun that matters.  It's knowing where to aim.

WOMAN #3
Okay now that's too much information.  We've talked about this many times... he is my brother.  There are some things I don't want to hear about.

WOMAN #4
I only hope your latest boy toy has half his laser-like focus.

WOMAN #3's expression reveals her inner disappointment.

WOMAN #3
Let's just say the gift wrap is more exciting than the present.

WOMAN #4
Oh, baby. I'm so sorry.  Is it just an incompatibility thing?

WOMAN #3
There's got to be something wrong with me.  This keeps happening.

WOMAN #4
Honey, there's nothing wrong with you.  Any real man would see that.

WOMAN #3
But we can't seem to get the plane off the runway. 

WOMAN #4
I've been there more times than I can count.  You have to be careful and patient with them.  Men are a lot more delicate than they look. 

WOMAN #3
Trust me, I don't say a word about it.  I act like it has something to do with the wine or what we ate for dessert.  Like it's the waiter's fault and has nothing to do with anyone who happens to be in the room. 

WOMAN #4
There you go.   That's the gentle approach.  You keep up your end of the bargain and maybe he'll hold up his.  In the meantime there's more than one way to skin a cat - which is a really disgusting metaphor by the way - I have no idea why I just used it.

WOMAN #3
I don't expect a lot in this area.  Every once in a while I get a pleasant surprise.  It's just not that big of a deal to me.

WOMAN #4
That's total bull.  What about that time with the guy in Spain?

WOMAN #3
Okay that was totally different.. That was like a religious experience. 

WOMAN #4
It can be that way.  It happened to you once and it can happen again. 

WOMAN #3
I'm not holding my breath.   I've learned to appreciate the little things.  You know, to do what our Mom's told us eventually we'd all have to do - to settle.

WOMAN #4
My mom never told me that.  She married the one man who made her weak in the knees.

WOMAN #3
I guess my Mom never told me that either.  I don't why for some reason it makes me feel better thinking she did.  

WOMAN #4
That's not your Mom talking - it's fear.  Don't listen.  It wants you to be alone and miserable. 

WOMAN #3
The irony is - that's what I worry about the most.

WOMAN #4
Of course you do. You're human.  But you're not alone.  And you never will be. 

WOMAN #3
I wish I could be as confident as you.

WOMAN #4
And I wish I had your hair and your 501K but I'll settle for your friendship.

WOMAN #3
That's not settling.

WOMAN #4
That's right, it isn't. 

The TWO WOMEN begin to walk off stage right.  WOMAN # 3 pauses by the object.

WOMAN #3
(indicating the art piece)
So what do you think of this?

WOMAN #4
It's nice.  I like it.

WOMAN #3
Me too.   We finally agree on something.    

They exit arm in arm stage right.  The SECURITY GUARD writes in her pad taking a little longer this time, pausing once or twice to nod.  She makes a final note and puts the pad away. Then she unfurls the velvet security rope from around the artwork and lays it aside, moving the chrome posts over to the corner and checking her watch.   A TALL MAN enters stage right indicating the time on his watch as well.  He has a big smile on his face.


TALL MAN
How did it go today?

SECURITY GUARD
Great.  It was the best one yet.

TALL MAN
Are you getting what you need?

SECURITY GUARD
More than I ever imagined.  It's like a gold mine.

TALL MAN
It's a very creative idea.  I can't wait to see the results.  When do you think you'll finish?

SECURITY GUARD
I have no idea.  It will take months to compile everything I've heard.  I don't even know what the final medium will be exactly, but I've got a year left on the fellowship so I have plenty of time to play around with different ideas.  

TALL MAN
Well we're very proud to be hosting your installation.  The board is thrilled that you chose our gallery and we can't wait to see your final work, no matter what form it takes.

She picks up the "piece of art" and hands it to the TALL MAN.
 

SECURITY GUARD/ARTIST
Thanks for letting me use this.

TALL MAN
My pleasure.  My six year old was happy to loan it out for the day and I look forward to telling him all about how it was part of an interactive art exhibit when he is old enough to appreciate what that means.  Any idea what you'll be using tomorrow?

SECURITY GUARD/ARTIST
I haven't made up my mind yet.  For some reason I'm being drawn towards a banana. 

TALL MAN
I will find out when I see you tomorrow.

SECURITY GUARD/ARTIST
Good night.  

The SECURITY GUARD/ARTIST exits stage left leaving the TALL MAN alone on stage. He looks at the "object d'art" in his hands, smiles to himself and exits holding it stage left.   There is a "click" and the stage goes dark except for a single light illuminating the empty pedestal. 


Then....


BLACKOUT.
 
Fini
 
 
 

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 Posted: Sat May 31st, 2014 05:41 pm
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Edd
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Mana: 
Dear LAPHILLYBOY,

Generally, it takes a while before anyone critiques your play. It is best to be around for at least enough time for you to critique the work of others and for us to get to know you, at least, a little bit. I also must tell, though you should already know, when getting critiques from strangers you never know to whom to listen. And, that takes hanging around and getting to know us a bit. Have fun, here. It's a great place and we'd all like to get to know you. It's just that over the years we've had way too many folks drop by for a critique and then they disappear. No thank you. No nothing. So, welcome, participate, and stay with us a while. You will find this experience well worth your while. BTW, I came to this Forum ten or so years ago. I was pretty much a green writer with very little to show for myself. Now my story is quite different. Besides, anyone who says "object d' art" has my attention. Again, welcome.

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 Posted: Thu Jun 5th, 2014 05:32 pm
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ServiceSpirit
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Mana: 
I really can't read this with holding the numbers of the characters in my head. I really need names before reading this, I couldn't get past the first few lines without getting confused.

Sorry, I will read it if you change just that!!!

Katherine

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 Posted: Fri Jul 11th, 2014 04:39 am
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RoWright
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Mana: 
Found this piece very amusing and an easy read. The first two scenes seemed the strongest, but I am bias because these were married couples. I know those kind of discussion too well. Twist at the end is great. It reminds me of the time I took a tour of the Donald Judd installations in Marfa, Texas. At some point during the tour my wife screamed at me and said "look out". I realized I was about to step in...art. This was a recreation of an old classroom with books and stuff all over the floor.
Anyhow the great thing is that you can definitely keep it as a one act as well as a bunch of 10 minute plays. You pretty much have 3, 4 potential plays for submission. If you are to keep it at this length I'd like to see the first couple come back and look at the art one more time passing by, or the second couple bumping into the ladies. You don't need words for such moments - but they could offer a different kind of flow. I know when we walk in museums sometimes we walk through a gallery more than once.
I am a fan of this sort of flexible structure. It makes it that much easier when you get into play development . Great job. Keep at it.

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 Posted: Mon Jul 14th, 2014 04:00 am
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Laphillyboy
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Mana: 
Thanks for the feedback.  I agree that it can be broken apart, reshuffled, etc.  I may use parts of this in the future.  That was part of the appeal in writing it.  This was mostly an exercise in two character conflict and dialogue since I need as much practice as possible.

I am currently at the U. of Iowa Summer Writing festival taking a week-long workshop with Kate Aspengren who runs the playwriting program here.  It is great to be surrounded by more than a hundred other writers all focusing on developing their craft.

- JC    

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