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 Posted: Fri Jan 30th, 2009 07:52 pm
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Labrax
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Mana: 
   Outside a fast food restaurant.  A man, who we
                    will learn to be Brian, stands outside dressed in
                    a ridiculous chicken costume. He leans idly
                    against the window, devoid of any enthusiasm for
                    his job. From within, his Boss steps outside to
                    speak to Brian.

                   

          BOSS
                         (Sighing)
               Brian.

          BRIAN
                         (Adjusting the costume to reveal his
                         head)
               Mm?

          BOSS
               Could you please try and be a bit more enthusiastic?

          BRIAN
               I'm on my break.

          BOSS
               Break? You never take breaks!

          BRIAN
               Well, there's a first time for everything.

          BOSS
               What's the matter with you? You're normally so full of
               energy.

          BRIAN
               Nothing's the matter with me.

          BOSS
               Now, come on. Something's up. Yesterday you brought in
               so many customers we ran out of chicken. I had to
               switch to the back-up meat.

          BRIAN
                         (Wrinkling his nose in disgust)
               Ugh. That explains the smell. I don't know how you can
               serve that disgusting stuff in good conscience.
 
          BOSS
               Don't start that again. Like I told the inspector, it
               kills two birds with one stone. Besides, we're in the
               midst of an inhospitable economic climate. Sacrifices
               must be made.

          BRIAN
               Tell that to the people you served r-

          BOSS
               Let's just refer to it as 'the back-up meat', please.

                    Pause.
               Is this why you're in a mood?

          BRIAN
               No.

          BOSS
               Well, what is it then?

                    Pause.

          BRIAN
                         (Sighing)
               I feel like...

          BOSS
               Like?

          BRIAN
                         (Flouncing his wings in frustration)
               Like I'm at a creative impasse.

                    A long pause.

          BOSS
               Eh?

          BRIAN
                         (Indicating his costume)
               Cecil the Chicken. I'm stumped with him, as an actor.

          BOSS
               Stumped?

          BRIAN
               It's just not working for me. I'm confused about my motivation.
               I mean, he's anthropomorphic, yes?

          BOSS
               ...Right?
 
          BRIAN
               Which suggests he possesses at least a degree of sentience.

          BOSS
               I suppose so?

          BRIAN
               Well, if that's the case, why is he so keen to have
               people come into the restaurant to eat your chicken?

                    BOSS struggles to come up with an answer.
                    Throughout next, BRIAN becomes increasingly
                    energetic at the possibilities he suggests.

                   
               Does he not realise that he is supporting a business
               that savagely kills his brethren for the consumption of
               humanity? Does he not care for the appalling treatment
               of intensively farmed livestock? Perhaps, he is a cannibal,
               and does not consider his actions wrong? Is it even
               more sordid? Cecil the Chicken: a cold-hearted
               vorarephile who, unsatisfied by snuff films, has taken his
               fetish to a whole new level, mass-marketing the flesh
               of brother fowl to the hungry mouths of the populace!

                    Long pause.

          BOSS
                         (Indicating an advertisement in the shop
                         window)
               Maybe he's just really enthusiastic about the amazing
               value of the six-piece super saver meal?

          BRIAN
               Somehow I doubt it. I don't think anyone could be enthusiastic about
               that.

          BOSS
                         (With intense enthusiasm)
               Are you kidding? Six pieces of delicious chicken, mouthwatering
               fries, and a refreshing medium-sized drink, all at a
               low, low price! What more could you ask for?

          BRIAN
               A bucket. I feel like throwing up just thinking about
               it.
 
                    BRIAN folds his arms, and goes back to brooding.
                    BOSS tries to be more sympathetic.

                   

          BOSS
               You've clearly thought about this a lot.

          BRIAN
               I always think about my roles. I read Stanislavski, you
               know.

          BOSS
               Have you considered... that you might be over-thinking
               Cecil?

          BRIAN
               ...No.

          BOSS
               I mean, he's only a mascot for the restaurant, right?
               It's not like you're playing Hamlet all over again.

          BRIAN
                         (Wistfully)
               My final triumph.

          BOSS
                         (Quickly trying to change the subject)
               Yes, well-

          BRIAN
               A packed house. The audience hanging on every word. act
               two draws to a close. Lights up on act three, scene
               one... the soliloquy. I walk out, take centre stage...

          BOSS
                         (Knowing what is coming, trying
                         desperately to avoid it)
               So you said. Listen-
 
          BRIAN
               "To be or not to be: that is the question:  Whether
               'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows
               of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of
               troubles, and by opposing end them?" Tears start trickling
               down cheeks, even the stiffest upper lip in the room
               starts to quiver. I take the dagger in my hands, test
               its edge, ponderously hold it against my wrist. They
               all think I'm going to do it, but not yet! I flash a knowing
               smile as I spring into the next line-

          BOSS
               Brian!

          BRIAN
               What?

          BOSS
               Give it a rest, will you?

          BRIAN
               Why should I? I have a right to relive my glory days!

          BOSS
               They're long gone. You haven't had a decent part in
               years. That production of Hamlet got such bad reviews
               it had to close after the first week, don't you forget
               that.

          BRIAN
               I haven't.

          BOSS
               You're not an actor, Brian. Not any more. You're here
               now, and you work for me, understand? I've tried to be
               sympathetic but it's time to be firm.
                         (He checks his watch.)
               Break's over. Back to work. I want to see this place bustling.
               And no more bloody talk about your motivation. Your
               paycheck ought to be enough! Understood?

          BRIAN
               ...Yes.

          BOSS
               Yes what?

          BRIAN
               Yes, sir.
 
                    Boss walks back into the restaurant. Brian pulls
                    the head of his costume back on.

                    Pause.

                    He looks down at his costume. In doing so, he
                    notices a plastic fast food container near his
                    feet. He glances up and down the street, then into
                    the restaurant. Finally, he stoops and picks up
                    the piece of litter. Contemplating it for a
                    moment, he lifts it up, and holds it as if it were Yorick's
                    skull.
               "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio-a fellow of
               infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne
               me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred
               my imagination is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung
               those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft..."

                    Behind him, Boss re-appears, and stops to listen
                    to him for a moment. Brian is too caught-up in his
                    recollection to notice.

                   
               "Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs,
               your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the
               table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning?
               Quite chop-fallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber and tell
               her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she
               must come. Make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio,
               tell me one thing."

          BOSS
               The six-piece super saver meal is available for a
               limited time only.

                    Brian freezes. The 'skull' slips from his hand.
                    Boss shakes his head in exasperation, and returns
                    inside.

                    Pause.

                    Brian re-takes the stance against the window he
                    had at the very start of the scene. He starts
                    calling out in a monotone voice - his best attempt
                    at advertising.

                   
 
          BRIAN
               The six-piece super saver meal is available for a
               limited time only.

                    Pause.

                   
               The six-piece super saver meal is available for a
               limited time only.

                    Pause.

                   
               The six-piece super saver meal is available for a
               limited time only.

                    Pause.

                   
               Fuck it.

                    He pulls the costume off piece by piece, and
                    throws the segments through the doorway of the
                    restaurant. Eventually it is revealed he is dressed
                    in a Shakespearean outfit underneath it all.

                    With a deep breath in, he strides off down the
                    street. As he goes, he picks up another fast food
                    container, prompting him to recite another snippet
                    of Hamlet (Act 5 Scene 1), which he delivers with
                    gusto until he is out of earshot of the audience,
                    for as long as is necessary.

                   
               "There's another. Why might not that be the skull of a lawyer?
               Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his
               tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this rude
               knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty
               shovel, and will not tell him of his action of
               battery?..."
                         (And so on.)

                    End.

                                  


Well, this is something I wrote with intent to submit for Asphalt Jungle Shorts, since I was honoured enough to have a scene performed as part of last year's show.

I don't know how this compares. I have my doubts about some lines and I worry that it might be stretching the concept a little too far. But any feedback would be very much appreciated.

Cheers.

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 Posted: Sat Jan 31st, 2009 06:18 am
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muncy
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Mana: 
I enjoyed this and can see it being performed in the street. Not sure if KFC would let you do it outside their place though!

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 Posted: Sat Jan 31st, 2009 12:07 pm
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katoagogo
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Mana: 
It's a good idea, and fun -- but it could be one-third shorter (or maybe only 1/4 shorter, but shoot for 1/3).  I know that sounds like a lot -- but I used to work for a sketch comedy troupe, and nothing kills the funny like too much exposition.

This is bassically a one-joke scenerio -- and you could cut the exposition at the beggining about "what's worng?" and "yesterday you brought in so much business" and just get to the depressed chicken.  Less is more when it comes to the dialogue.  Be ruthless with your cuts and get it the essentials with the speaking.  Your work will be much more dynamic if you do, because the comic mechanism will be leaner.  Plus -- you've got GREAT visuals in this piece.  Let the prop comedy do the work -- and trust that you don't have to explain things. 

You've got a very good comic premise, and a strong comedic story arc that plays out visually. 

Last edited on Sat Jan 31st, 2009 12:16 pm by katoagogo

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 Posted: Sat Jan 31st, 2009 01:03 pm
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HarveyRabbit
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Mana: 
I would have to disagree with Kato on this. I don’t at all subscribe to idea of “Less is more in dialogue.” Now, I’m sure this is more of a stylistic difference to one’s approach to playwriting (Stoppard vs. Pinter, for example), and both are equally valid, but I don’t much care for statements of absolutes from either camp.

As for this piece, I don’t see it as being bloated with unnecessary dialogue. Editing and trimming are always good, of course, but I think this is short and succinct enough as is. Sketch comedy and short comedic plays are different animals. Sketch comedy is concise and rapid-fire by its nature, but I think this little play has something more to it than that (and intentionally so). For all of its visual humor and slapstick touches, I feel there is some underlying genuine pathos to it: The dreams and aspirations of an actor now reduced to hustling for a buck in the most humiliating of ways. And, as we know, all the best comedy tends to be rooted in pain and misery somewhere down the line.

I think what little exposition is there is quite necessary. It helps build context and sets up the humor that follows. Again, perhaps it’s just a question of personal preference, but if you’re going to whittle the play down to punch lines and whacky costumes, you may as well just tell a “knock, knock” joke.

Just my thoughts.

H.

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 Posted: Wed Feb 25th, 2009 02:46 pm
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seckermann
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Mana: 
This was funny!!

I kind of wished the boss had had less feelings. That would make it funnier in my opinion. Plus, I think it would lend to telling more of his story too... maybe he used to want to be something else really badly (foiling Brian) and now he's the manager of a fried chicken store... just a thought.

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