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A Very Small Expanse  Rating:  Rating
 Posted: Fri Feb 26th, 2010 04:15 am
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1st Post

Joined: Thu Feb 25th, 2010
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 89
[Edit]Gah! That should be: "Of crushing universes and such" in the subtitle. Typical that my first post on a writing forum would have a blatant mispelling right in the title. If you're a mod, I'd appreciate it if you'd fix it and then delete this. Thanks. [/Edit] 

A Very Small Expanse

Two characters converse with one another on a bare stage. Their distinguishing features are unimportant. They never refer to each other by name, and indeed, have no names. In the script they are only referred to as A and B.

A: Do you ever feel as if you're tumbling into yourself?

B: Say that again.

A: Do you ever feel as if you're tumbling into yourself?

B: And again.

A: Do you ever feel as if you're tumbling into yourself?

B: Your voice sounds like-

A: Like what?

B: A stone. A stone dropped down a well, ricocheting off the sides on the way down. I keep waiting...

A: Waiting for what?

B: For the splash. (Brief Silence)

A: Splash.

B: That wasn't it.

A: Why not? I quite clearly said 'Splash'.

B: I'm not talking about the word 'Splash', I was referring to a manner of intonation, or maybe not even that, maybe something semantic, a point that you might make - a final one - one that might bring everything into focus. Might help us make sense of all this...

A: (Tries various intonations) Splash? (Pause) Splash. (Pause) Splash!

B: It was a simile. I was just...

A: You keep doing that. Trailing off, keep expecting me to finish the ends of your sentences.

B: The ends...

A: of your... Ha! Thought you had me there.

B: It's just that you confuse me. You always have, ever since we've met.

A: When was that? When did we meet?

B: We met in the war. Do you remember the war?

A: I remember a war. I'm not sure it’s the same one.

B: Were there guns?

A: If I remember correctly.

B: Was there ground given?

A: And ground taken.

B: Who were we fighting?

A: The enemy.

B: It's the same war!

A: No, I don't think so.

B: It's not important, anyways. We should instead...

A: You're doing it again. I'm not going to finish this sentence for you. I want you to concentrate, think it through, I'm sure you can do it.

B: We should instead figure out why we're here.

A: Why we're here? (gestures to the ground) or why we're here? (gestures to the heavens)

B: Don't you think the two are connected?

A: I suppose. I think we should first take stock of our surroundings.

B: That's the problem. There's not anything to take stock of.

A: Yeah, as featureless expanses go, this one’s pretty... featureless...

B: How long have we been here?

A: Don't worry. I've been keeping track of it. I've been making marks with my fingernail on my boots. (inspects boots) Eight marks, so that means eight...

B: Days? Months? Years?

A: It seems when I was making the marks I forgot to subscribe a measurement of time to it. So... I don't know.

B: So we've been here eight?

A: We've been here eight.

(B attempts to amuse himself with fidgeting)

(A starts flipping though a pamphlet)

B: What have you got there?

A: The travel brochure.

B: For what?

A: You know. (gestures to their surroundings)

B: A brochure?

(A nods)

B: For the featureless expanse?

(A nods again)

B: Let me read it!

A: Ask politely now.

(B glares at him and initiates a fight for the pamphlet, eventually snatching it from him)

B: (Reading) The Featureless Expanse. (Opens it, examines it confusedly) That's all it says, everything else is blank.

A: I guess there's not much to say about a featureless expanse.

B: I was hoping it'd mention something about escape.

A: Escape? If you want escape why didn't you just try the exit? (points stage left)

B: Huh. I wonder why I never saw that before. (approaches stage left cautiously) It's a bit frightening though. At least here I have your company, I wouldn't want to lose you. I mean we've known each other, how long?

A: For at least eight. How 'bout you go first and then you can call out if its safe.

B: What if it isn't safe?

A: Then I won't follow you.

B: I'm going to test it first. (sticks his arm through the stage left curtain, an arm appears through the stage right curtain)

A: (noticing the other arm) Hey, check that out.

B: Do you think that's mine?

A: Let's test it. Give me a thumbs up. (Arm gives him a thumbs up)

B: It could just be a coincidence.

A: Stay right here. (A crosses the stage and shakes the other hand) How do you do?

B: That's my arm.

A: Let me try something.

(A reaches his arm through the stage right curtain. An arm appears through the stage left curtain and grips B by the collar. While A pulls as if tugging at something offstage, the stage left arm pulls B off stage, and A pulls an entirely new actor through the stage right exit, a woman. In short, the edge of the stage wraps around to the other side. They inspect each other puzzledly for a moment)

A: Hmmm. Did you always have… breasts?

B (looks down): Yes, I’ve always had breasts. Why do you suppose that happened?

A: That I forgot you had breasts?

B: Oh that. I’ve always suspected that you were gay.

A: (defensively) I’m not gay!

B: Then why have you never noticed I have breasts?

A: (disconcerted and unsure, broken by a lot of pauses) Oh... I've noticed you have breasts. I notice them all the time. (then with confidence) In fact, I’m going to notice them right now. (stares directly at B’s chest)

B: Would you stop talking about my breasts for once?

A: You brought them up.

B: Focus. (snaps fingers) Up here. Why do you suppose that happened? Why do you suppose I left through that exit and came through this one.

A: Oh. (glances stage left and right, with realization) Oh… (ponders) I remember reading about this. About the Universe. That the Universe does not in fact stretch all the way to infinity. That when you reach the edge, you wrap back around to the original side.

B: So that's the edge of the universe? (points stage left) and that's the other edge of the universe? (points stage right)

A: It seems that way.

B: It's just that...

A: Just what?

B: I expected the universe to be bigger.

A: Well, I expected to be a race car driver. (They share an awkward, embarrassing moment)

B: I'm going to try it again... Maybe if I run. (B does so, and when he reaches the edge he reappears stage right again played by a different actor who is running as well, towards stage left, this actor then exits stage left while yet another actor appears stage right running towards stage left - giving the appearance of a continual loop)

A: (merely watching for a moment, then protesting) I don't think... One second... If, well... Please, stop it. STOP IT!

(B then fails to reappear through the stage right exit; A reacts with surprise)

A: Hello? Are you there? (A investigates the stage left exit, he enters, then reappears through the stage right exit played by the actor who was originally playing B. After a short time B reappears through the stage left exit played by the actor who was originally playing A. In short, B is now being played by A and vise-versa.)

A: Hmmmm. It's no use.

B: What are you doing? You're me!

A: No, I'm not! You're confusing your pronouns again. I cannot be you, it's a grammatical impossibility. I (points to self) First Person. You (points to A) Second Person. They (points to audience) Third Person.

B: (following A's finger) Shit! Who the fuck are them?

A : They! Who the fuck are "they"! They are who ... The fuck. It's nominative, nominative case.

B: Shouldn't it then be "Whom the fuck are they"?

A: No, "are" is a to-be verb - that makes "who" the subject complement, it's still nominative.

B: Shut up! Shut up!

A: Why? I'm just trying to -

B: What about them? (points towards audience)

A: That's correct usage. "Them", object of a preposition.

B: What about them?

A: (peering towards audience) What about whom?

B: (B looks out blankly) You're right. I don't see anyone. I could've sworn I saw someone. Out in this direction (peers towards audience)

A: I don't see anyone.

B: Nor do I. (Pauses for a moment) ARGHHHH! I’ve got to escape. It’s driving me mad. It’s so damn weird here.

A: And the more you try to escape their weirder it gets.

B: We should destroy the whole damn thing.

A: Destroy the whole thing? You want to destroy a universe?

B: Yes. But only a small one.

A: How do you propose to do that?

B: I'm not sure.

A: (loudly and conspicuously) Hmmmm…. Hmmmm…. Hmmmm….

B: What are you “hmmmm”ing about?

A: Have I ever told you about my uncle?

B: No, I don’t believe you have.

A: He worked for a publishing house - helping authors retire, because well – let me put it this way – an author is a person with imaginary friends that only talk amongst themselves and eventually he just wants all these imaginary friends of his to just shut the fuck up already. So the author would call my uncle who was a specialist.

B: A specialist? A specialist in what?

A: In collapsing fictional universes.

B: What now?

A: He would collapse fictional universes. Ever wondered how an unfinished work ended? It ended with my uncle.

B: How does one…

A: …collapse a fictional universe? There’s all sorts of ways, but to hear my uncle talk about it, there’s only one way to do it if you want to get the job done right.

B: Which is?

A: With irony.

B: Irony?

A: (crescendoing) You see, irony has weight. It can be heavy. Sometimes it can even be crushing. You get enough of it together and you start warping time-space. So you get more and more irony just piled together on top of itself. All the flavors of irony, verbal irony, dramatic irony, situational irony, all the colors of the irony rainbow! And eventually you create a literary singularity. An Irony Hole, if you will, from which no meaning can escape.

B: An Irony Hole? (ponders for a bit) Is that anything like a Glory Hole?

A: (chuckles) They’re actually surprisingly similar.

B: All right. So get to it. Be Ironic.

A: Hmmm. Well, see that’s the thing. I don’t really know how.

(Lights fade down)

B: Oh, here we go. I think the universe is ending.

A: No, that’s just a cloud.

(Lights fade up)

B: Oh.

A: Hold on. You were expecting the universe to end, but it didn’t – it was just a cloud. That’s irony.

(Lights fade down)

B: That’s not irony.

(Lights fade up)

B: (speaking to the universe) Well, it could be irony. (grumbling) A very small amount of irony.

(Lights fade down)

A: It is a very small universe.


Last edited on Fri Feb 26th, 2010 04:38 am by QuixotesGhost

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 Posted: Fri Feb 26th, 2010 04:36 pm
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2nd Post

Joined: Wed Nov 19th, 2008
Location: New Jersey USA
Posts: 260
"That's not irony, its a cloud."


I thoroughly enjoyed that. My only issue (and its a small one) is with the following line:

"It's a bit frightening though. At least here I have your company, I wouldn't want to lose you. I mean we've known each other, how long?"

In my eyes, you can you remove the "At least here I have your company, I wouldn't want to lose you" part. It sounds a little too blunt and seems that it should be hidden within the subtext.

Can't wait to read what else you've written,


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 Posted: Fri Feb 26th, 2010 05:01 pm
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3rd Post

Joined: Sat Jun 10th, 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado USA
Posts: 1622
I could not agree with Mr. Turco more. In playwriting, in most cases (there are always exceptions, but few in this regard) the trick of the craft is to say the most with the least words. You're constricted by time--make the most of it. That goes double for comedy.

I sometimes think that we playwrights in the business of playwriting are the poets of observation and psychology writing prose without the burden of being prosaic.

Welcome to our forum.


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 Posted: Fri Feb 26th, 2010 06:13 pm
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Mary Alice

Joined: Mon Feb 19th, 2007
Location: Woodstock, New York USA
Posts: 246
Great fun! Thank you.

Mary Alice

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 Posted: Wed Mar 3rd, 2010 04:07 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 29th, 2010
Location: Monroe, North Carolina USA
Posts: 89
Good piece very Beckeett. The only thing that bothered me is that the ending seemed to come a bit quickly. I would have liked to have seen them toil longer with irony.

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