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 Posted: Fri Jan 29th, 2010 04:24 pm
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Darkja
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I am currently working on a one-act called "Funhouse" it is non-realistic and a little narrative but I have had this style work in earlier plays I've written however but I am having a little trouble with the ending. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

 


Funhouse


by Todd L. Ford


© 2010


 


 

At Rise: Cynthia lies in the middle of the floor surrounded by eight frames that resemble funhouse mirrors. From right to left they contain a tall gangly girl, an overweight girl, a girl with scars on her wrists, a girl wearing a low-cut top and a short skirt, a girl with her arms crossed defensively and a girl kneeling or in another submissive gesture. All of the girls are clothed in different styles but all of the styles incorporate a pattern (for example all of the costumes may contain black and red stripes) There is one more frame it is covered by a dark cloth.

 

Cynthia (waking)


I awaken in darkness. In a place I do not understand. Surrounded by images that are distorted and foreign to me. I am alone. I am cold. I am scared. I do not understand where I am, when I am or how I go here. All I remember is sleep. A long warm sleep. Am I dreaming? Am I dead? What has happened to me? I approach the first mirror and press my hand to its cool glass (as she describes this she presses her hand against the first mirror's hand). Then the unexpected. It speaks.

 

Skinny


Beanpole. Skeleton. Bulimic. Anorexic.

 

Cynthia


Is that what they call you?

 

Skinny


"You're so skinny!" "You need to gain some weight!" "No wonder you're so skinny, look what you eat for lunch!"

 

Cynthia


Is that what they say?

 

Skinny (stepping out of frame)


You.

 

Cynthia


Me? I didn't. I wouldn't. I didn't say.

 

Skinny


You didn't have to say. I saw the look. I saw the judgment.

 

Cynthia


I didn't mean to judge I was only tying to help.

 

Skinny


So I changed. I ate and I found comfort. I ate and stopped the judgment. I ate and it quelled the loneliness.

 

Cynthia


No please. That's not the way. Please stop.

 

Skinny


Too late can't stop. (she steps back into the mirror)

 

Cynthia


I felt the cold loneliness of fear grip me. Who was she? A classmate? A friend? Someone I passed on the street and failed to notice. I wondered what had angered her at me so.

Was it something I said? Was it something I did? Or was it something I failed to say or do. I wandered in the mist filled hall until I came to the second mirror. I gazed into its murky reflection. I wanted to resist touching it but somehow I was compelled to do so.

(Her hand presses against the second mirrors hand)

 

Fat


Cow. Tubby. Fatso. Whale.

 

Cynthia


No not again. Not this again. I didn't call you any of those. Damn it. I didn't say any of those hateful things to you.

 

Fat


But you thought.

 

Cynthia


I didn't....OK maybe I did but I never said them.

 

Fat


You didn't have to. I saw it in your eyes. I saw the harsh judgmental stare. I felt you label me.

 

Cynthia


I couldn't help it. I didn't mean to. My thought couldn't have possibly..

 

Fat


Couldn't of possibly what? Hurt me?

 

Cynthia (softly)


Yes.

 

Fat


But they did. They did hurt me. All I wanted was to be accepted to belong.

 

Cynthia


You didn't need me for that.

 

 

Fat


No I didn't need you but I wanted you. I wanted you acceptance.

 

Cynthia (sobbing)


Please stop.

 

Fat


So I decided to change.

 

Cynthia


I'm begging you.

 

Fat


It started with starving myself. Denying myself food. I felt hunger eating away at me and

I couldn't take anymore...

 

Cynthia


I'm so sorry.

 

Fat


So I turned to pills. I told myself that because they were over the counter they were safe. I started taking the correct amount. Then I thought what is one more. I justified I said "It’s temporary" "It will work faster" "It’s worth the risk"

 

Cynthia


Why didn't you ask for help?

 

Fat


I finally did. I went to my mom. She flew off the handle. Flushed the pills and berated me about her disappointment. I went to the one solace I hew. I regained the weight. The whispers started again, the looks. I felt like I was always being watched. Always being judged. I would run home from school in tears. I would shut the door of the bathroom.

Shaking I felt the food and the guilt weigh in my stomach like I a rock. I wanted so badly

to purge that part of me. So I did.

 

Cynthia (desperate)


Please let me help you.

 

Fat


Too little…too late.

 

(Fat returns to her place in the mirror)


 

Cynthia


My god was I responsible for all of this. I saw. I knew but I did nothing. I worried what others would think. I told myself it wasn't my problem. I told myself they would ask for help. By doing nothing I made myself responsible. I never reached out to help someone

in pain. I approached the third mirror. The image in it is thin and skeletal. Dark clothes, dark makeup, pale. The bright red lines across her wrists in stark contrast to the soft pale skin. I reached out. I didn't want to but I had no choice. (Cynthia hand touches the hand

of the third mirror)

 

Suicidal


"Emo", "Weirdo", "Witch", "Stoner"

 

Cynthia (tries reaching out)


I want to help you.

 

Suicidal (slaps hand away)


You can't you created me.

 

Cynthia


I didn't.

 

Suicidal


You did. I made a choice but when you saw my emaciated body I heard the whispers. She must be suicidal. I cried that day. Then someone reach out a hand. He brought me into a world that I didn't know. That I didn't want to know.

 

Cynthia


What world?

 

Suicidal


A world of noise and rebellion. A world where it was more important to shock and make people uncomfortable then to belong. I lost myself in that world. I thought I found a place to be accepted.

 

Cynthia (scared to even ask)


Then what?

 

Suicidal


The hand I trusted. The one who made me feel accepted turned on me. At first it was my choice. I drank. I did drugs. I no longer knew what was going on. I was screaming inside for help.

 

Cynthia


What did they do to you?

 

 

 

Suicidal


I don't even remember. I woke up naked cold and alone. I felt used and dirty. I walked home. It was dark and quiet as a tomb. I climbed the stairs to the bathroom. I filled the white porcelain tub with warm clear water. I took out the cool shining blade and watched as the scarlet drop hit tub like a rose against newly fallen snow.

 

Cynthia (horrified)


You...died?

 

Suicidal


No I wish I had. I failed even at this (pointing to wrists). I was found. I was saved. I didn't want to be but I was saved. I decided at that moment that I would be the one in control.

 

Cynthia


I never realized.

 

Suicidal


No you didn't.....you never did.

 

(Suicidal returns to her frame)


 

Cynthia


I screamed until my lungs felt they would burst. I just wanted it to end. This nightmare. I asked my self again and again what I had done wrong. I didn't understand why I was here. Why I was in this hall of mirrors, this funhouse. I recognized each image as if through a veil. Feeling a connection but not knowing what it was. I realized the only way

to move was forward. I approached the fourth mirror. (she reaches out her hand and touches the fourth mirrors hand)

 

Promiscuity


"Slut", "Tramp", "Whore", "Easy"

 

Cynthia


You're not...

 

Promiscuity (interrupting)


Don't judge me you don't know me.

 

Cynthia


I never said that I did.

 

Promiscuity


I did what I had to do. I realized that I needed to take control and I looked for a way to do it. Do you know what I found?

 

Cynthia (nervous)


No...

 

Promiscuity


Me. I realized that my greatest weapon was me. My body. With it I could get whatever I want. Men were puppets and I was the master.

 

Cynthia


But they were just using for...

 

Promiscuity


Do you think I didn't know that? I knew what they wanted but I knew what I wanted to.

Money. No problem. Nice clothes. Got them too. Once I even got car. It was a beautiful thing. Smooth curves, powerful engine. Hot just like me.

 

Cynthia (disgusted)


You did this for things?

 

Promiscuity


No. I did it for power. I did it for control. I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to control my world. Then it happened.

 

Cynthia


What happened?

 

Promiscuity


I fell hard for a guy. I didn't want things from him. I didn't want power from him. I wanted him but apparently power only can go so far. I had his money, his power, his body (softly) but I never had him. I felt anger well in me and I embraced it.

 

Cynthia


It's not your fault.

 

Promiscuity


Your right it wasn't. It wasn't. It was everybody else's.

 

(Promiscuity re-enters her mirror)


 

Cynthia


The words echoed in my mind. "It was everybody else's". How often had I thought those words myself? How often had I said it was everybody else's problem? How often had I said that everybody else was wrong? I began to realize that maybe it wasn’t them maybe it was me. It was as if when I saw those twisted horrid reflections I didn’t look into them they looked into me. Was this how they saw me? Looking at them? Judging them like would an object? I wept at my ignorance. I wept at my choice to do and say nothing. I don’t know how long passed. I stood up knowing what must be done. I approached the fourth mirror and reached out. (she reaches out but the mirror does not touch her)

 

 


Defensive


“cold-hearted”, “man-eater”, “self-absorbed”, “bitch”

 

Cynthia


Please let me help you.

 

Defensive


Just say away from me. I won’t let you near me. I won’t let you touch me. I won’t let you help me.

 

Cynthia


But why?

 

Defensive


Emotions are weakness. If you don’t have feelings they can’t be hurt.

 

Cynthia


Without feelings you can’t love.

 

Defensive


Who cares about love? You love someone. You trust them. They betray you.

 

Cynthia


Not everyone.

 

Defensive


Yes everyone.(steadily building) A mother who cares for her new husband then you. A father who can’t be bothered about his child. A friend who talks about you when your not there. A colleague who claims your work as their own. A lover who betrays you for another women. (shouting) Everyone. Everyone betrays. Everyone lies. Everyone cheats. Everyone steals.

 

Cynthia


Don’t let that define you.

 

Defensive


I don’t and I won’t because I won’t let them in. I’ll only interact when necessary. When it helps me to protect myself.

 

Cynthia


That makes you no better then them.

 

Defensive


I don’t need to be better I just need to be safe.

 

 

Cynthia


Come out of there. I can help…

 

Defensive


I can’t trust you. Of all the people I can trust you would be the last. You confined me here. You put me in this prison without walls. Because of you I can’t trust. You made this choice for me.

 

Cynthia


Then you need to make the choice to come out. You need to make the choice to trust.

 

Defensive


No I can’t. I’m safe here. (crawling into fetal position) I’m safe here. I’m safe here.

 

Cynthia


I left here in a prison with no bars. I don’t know why but I understood her incarceration. How many times had I found it easier to cling to safety rather than risk? How many times had I closed others out in order to not be hurt? I wanted to help her but the bars had been forged with something stronger than steel. The hate been forged with fear. Fear of what might happen. Fear of the unknown. Fear of feeling to much. I sighed, my heart heavy with the weight of what I had seen. I walked slowly to the fifth mirror. I looked down at the kneeling woman before me. I reached out and touched the back of her head wondering what her story was.

 

Submissive


“milktoast”, “lowly”, “slave” “trash” (submissive looks up her face is bruised) Please…don’t…hurt…me.

 

Cynthia


I won’t. I would never hurt…

 

Submissive


Don’t. That’s what they all said. I would never hurt you. I just want to be with you. I’ll treat you like a princess.

 

Cynthia


What did they do to you?

 

Submissive


Their flattery made me lower my defenses. Let them in. I wanted to please them. I wanted to be love. Each time it started right. Each time I thought they were the one.

 

Cynthia


It’s not your fault.

 

 


Submissive


When they made more demands I accommodated them. I never asked for anything for me. I never said I wanted anything. I never said I needed anything.

 

Cynthia (gently)


Why didn’t you?

 

Submissive


All I wanted was to please them. That’s all I wanted. When I couldn’t do it anymore they became distant, detached.

 

Cynthia


Why didn’t you leave?

 

Submissive


I couldn’t please them if I left and without someone I was never whole. I tried to explain and they hurt me. No matter what I did they hurt. Please don’t hurt me.

 

Cynthia


I won’t. I’ll never.

 

Submissive (not wanting to listen)


Please don’t. Please, please don’t hurt me.

 

(Submissive returns to her mirror)


 


Cynthia


The pain cut through my like a white hot blade. It tore me apart to see someone so helpless and in so much pain but I understood. How much time have I given in so someone would value you me? How often have I compromised my morals to please someone else? I wish I could help her. I wish I could break the chains, remove the invisible hand holding her down. I stand here in this darkened hall of mirrors seeing vague reflections and shadows. Traces that reach out to me and I connect with for but a moment before the connection dissolves. I walk toward the final mirror seeing its shroud form. No reflection in the glass just a soft dark fabric. I tremble wondering what lurks beneath the shroud. I pull at a corner and drape cascades to the ground in ebony waves. (Beneath the cover is an empty frame) My God where have I gone?

 


(blackout)


 

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 Posted: Mon Feb 8th, 2010 02:46 pm
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Darkja
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Joined: Fri Jan 29th, 2010
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Mana: 
Any opinions thoughts etc. I've tried posting on other's a little but I feel a little unqualified and out of my element.

 

Todd

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 Posted: Thu Feb 18th, 2010 03:32 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
What an interesting little piece! I think the \concept is truly interesting, though I'm more inclined to works based more in realism.

Firstly, I think the play's major strong points are its monologues spoken by the various characters in the mirrors. Having said that, if you have Cynthia interrupting these parts instead of letting them flow through, they lose their power. Try eliminating certain repetitive or unnecessary lines, such as "And then what?" or "Is that what they call you?" You can move some lines from Cynthia's interruptions into her reflections, that is, after she meets with a particular personality.

As for the ending, it seems all-right to me. As a suggestion, I would have changed the last line ("Where have I gone?"), to reflect an action rather than a place, i.e. "What have I done?" In my opinion, it fits better. I liked the idea of leaving the last mirror blank, its sort of an open ending-- leaving the play's theme open to discussion.

Hope I helped-- I'm not much of a critic.

~RTurco

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 Posted: Thu Feb 18th, 2010 03:35 pm
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Darkja
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Mana: 
Thank you for your thoughts. The play has gone through several forms. I like the idea of reducing the interuptions. Interestingly enough the last line at one point was "What have I done". There is also an ending that brings a little more clarity to the meaning behind the reflections however, in some ways, I like to leave it open to interpretation.

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