ROB: I don’t know. Up, down all the same to me. I could ride this puppy all day.
KATI: This isn’t like you, Rob. You’re the guy who curses this elevator because it keeps getting stuck.
ROB: I’m sure it must have issues.
KATI: Issues? An elevator doesn’t have issues.
ROB: Please. Would it hurt you to show some compassion?
KATI: Ah ... okay, now I get it. You’re messing with my head.
ROB: Why would I want to do that?
KATI: Oh, because I went out with you once, had a really rotten time and told you never to call me again?
ROB: Was that what happened? Guess it slipped my mind.
KATI: Slipped your mind when? After you called my mom and upset her so much that she forgot to close the bird cage? Do you know what it’s like to have parrot poop all over your favorite pink sweater? And why did you call my mom, anyway? She doesn’t like you any more than I do.
ROB: Kati, you seem a bit tense. Let me help. Breathe in, breathe out, slowly.
KATI: Don’t think I’ll go out with you just because you’re being nice.
ROB: Was I not nice before?
KATI: You were a total freakout. Oh-mi-god. Why aren’t we moving?
ROB: I believe we’re stuck between two floors.
KATI: I’m stuck in this elevator with you?
ROB: With me, the total freakout.
KATI: Well ... I’m sure you must have some good qualities.
ROB: One being I know how to get this elevator moving.
KATI: You do?
ROB: Think about it: if you were forced to always carry people in a vertical direction and never allowed to go horizontal, wouldn’t you rebel?
KATI: Rob, this is an elevator, a stupid machine. It doesn’t have feelings.
ROB: You want to get out of here? Please speak nicely to the elevator.
KATI: I don’t believe this. Okay. Elevator, I think you’re fantastic.
ROB: Won’t do. We’re waiting for more sincerity.
KATI: Dammit, elevator, I sincerely want you to haul --
ROB: Kati, that is not how we address the elevator. Try again. This time close your eyes and become one with your surroundings. Then speak softly.
(KATI closes her eyes.)
KATI: Elevator, you very fine piece of equipment, would you mind taking me to the first floor? I would be ever so grateful. Okay, can I open my eyes now?
(ROB pushes one of the buttons.)
ROB: Yes, you may.
KATI: It’s moving. The elevator’s moving. Oh, thank God. We’ve landed!
ROB: Tell me, Kati, have you learned anything from this life-changing experience?
KATI: Yes, Rob, I have.
ROB: And what might that be?
KATI: I’m still not going out with you, you weirdo, and from now on I’m taking the stairs. Oh, and about my mom? Don’t think I will ever forgive you for that.
ROB: What? Just for calling her to say hi?
KATI: For trying to get to me through her and furthermore, for leaving her with ... with ...
ROB: With what, Kati?
KATI: ... with bird poop on her shoulder!
Last edited on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 04:58 pm by shirleyk
Why oh why does this happen? I only clicked "send once" and my little play chose to repeat itself many times. I did manage to edit the duplicates to get rid of them but I'm wondering what I keep doing to make this happen.
Any information will be appreciated.
Last edited on Fri Dec 14th, 2007 04:57 pm by shirleyk
Thanks, Paddy. I now realize that I'm shameless. I'll accept any kind of writing challenge, even one involving bird poop.
But I did manage to exercise some restraint. I also have a chicken play I could have sent.
Your suggestions are noted and appreciated but with a two page play I couldn't keep those two in the elevator much longer. Also, I didn't like them very much so I was glad you didn't ask for a three page play.
"I see one major flaw in this play as no character change whatever."
That may be a flaw in Playwrighting 101, but in the real world you need only begin by making the play engaging and the characters interesting. People don't always change, in fact they seldom do. The unchanged character can be the source of great amusement, or painful tragedy. A major flaw would be not to follow what sounds with the ring of truth.
POPS: Hey, Maggie. (Beat.) Say, do you know you have bird poop on your shoulder?
MAGGIE: No, but if you hum a few bars, I can fake it.
(Sits down; Pops, Maggie’s grandfather, orders them both a drink.)
POPS: That’s it?
MAGGIE: Yeah, that’s it. Why should it be anything else?
POPS: Well…I was hoping for something more…meaningful.
MAGGIE: "Meaningful?" Pops, have you published a novel? Produced a Broadway play? Chiseled the greatest sculpture since Michelangelo? Composed a symphony comparable to Beethoven’s—
POPS: Yeah, yeah. I get it.
MAGGIE: So what’s the deal?
POPS: It stinks.
MAGGIE: Sure, life stinks but as you always told me—
POPS: I mean the bird poop on your shoulder. It’s smelling up the place.
MAGGIE: This isn’t the Chase Park Plaza. Christ, Pops, I’m wearing overhauls, I’ve been baling hay all morning, and we’re sitting in a grimy roadhouse in the middle of the freakin’ Ozarks. Give me a break.
POPS: Now I wonder where you got that sassy mouth?
MAGGIE: And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
POPS: And that tendency to quote stupid proverbs.
MAGGIE: You forgot the irrepressible urge to tell really bad jokes.
POPS: I was just getting to that.
MAGGIE: Another drink?
POPS: Nope. Twelve is my limit. Very strict on that.
MAGGIE: All right, then you’ll have to take it sober. Maybe not SOBER, but with nothing more to drink.
POPS: You’re pregnant by that dope pusher and going to give birth to a crack baby?
MAGGIE: He’s a pharmacist and he made more money last year than you’ve made in your whole life! Besides, he makes me tingle. You know, tingle right down there—
POPS: Shut up, I’m not that liberal.
MAGGIE: Oh, yes, you are just one flaming liberal guy. But enough about Phil the Pharmacist. This is about YOU!
POPS: Too late for me. I’ve got one foot in the grave and the other…okay I won’t finish that one.
MAGGIE: This is for you. (Hands POPS a card.)
POPS: A thank you card? It’s blank inside. Except for your name. "Love, Maggie."
MAGGIE: It’s the best thing I could get you.
POPS: Thanks for what? Did I go into one of my disorientation stages and write you a big check or something?
MAGGIE: No, no, no.
POPS: Tell me, then. I’m dying here. I mean, of curiosity.
MAGGIE: Okay…so…I lied…a little.
POPS: Here it comes.
MAGGIE: Pops, you raised me from a pup ever since the…car wreck. And it is about Phil. (Beat.) We’re getting married.
POPS: Surprise, surprise! About time. How long you been going with him? Twenty, thirty years?
MAGGIE: Pops, now listen. The thank you is…like we talked about before…for teaching me that corny jokes and stupid sayings—and, yes, even a sassy mouth—are really good ways of making sense out of the world. I never once doubted that you loved me more than anything. And that is more important than novels, plays, sculptures—
POPS: Or bird poop on your shoulder?
MAGGIE: You know…you are a lot smarter than you look, you old geezer!
hmmm... I realize this is just a fun exercise, but it only tells us as opposed to showing us. Everything about each of the characters we learn from being told by the other character. We discover nothing for ourselves. You give the audience nothing to do, least of all, think. I'm sure this is isolated to this silly little exercise and is not indicative of your work in general.
This is for the second play (which should be on a thread of its own).
I love the idea of this challenge! Those were fun pieces to read. I would love to see either of those plays worked into something longer.
Theatre Maven brings up a point that makes me wonder: How much exposition is too much when you have a very strict time restraint? Some of the better short pieces I've seen capture distilled moments and we learn as much or more about the characters by how they interact than what they say.
Rob and Kati are charming. I want to see more of them. Why are they or were they attracted to each other and what happnes now that Kati has cleared the air about that bad date? The dialogue really have some spark! The only misstep was that the exposition was a little clunky. I think (and will cop to being wrong) that you could have had Kati allude to past instances with Rob revealing more than he means to by the way he tries to duck and weave around her verbal barbs. There is quite a bit of potential for the audience to take delight in piecing together their relationship (or lack thereof.)
As for big change in two pages? It can happen. But the point might be to just give us a moment and that would be enough.
Billh, I really liked Maggie and Pops, too! One thing that stood out for me is how so much of their relationship can be gathered from the linguistic shorthand they use to talk to each other. There are a few times when Maggie does seem to be telling us rather than showing us. It feels a bit like she's alternating between talking to Pops and telling the audience about Pops. But that's a quibble, especially given that you wrote it in 15 minutes. A very nice start!
Just like the commentors, I agree that it seems like the start of something good. It has a beginning, middle and end, a classic structure, but the middle is over as soon as it begins (of course, because of the two-page restriction). I haven't read many two-minute plays, but I imagine that the endings aren't so conclusive. That's why I think this shouldn't be a two-minute play at all.
It seems almost natural to keep them in the elevator for a longer period of time, raise the tension.
Jas, sorry it took me so long to respond but I just read this message. Thanks for your interesting comments about GOING DOWN. You've posed several excellent questions. Thanks to you I think I'll try developing this little play.
shirleyk wrote: Jas, sorry it took me so long to respond but I just read this message. Thanks for your interesting comments about GOING DOWN. You've posed several excellent questions. Thanks to you I think I'll try developing this little play.