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 Posted: Sun Jul 18th, 2010 11:20 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Hello other playwrights, I'm back! (*People gasp and some confess to not realizing he was gone*) And as a result of a week-long playwrighting conference in New York, I have a new, short, five-minute play! It's a comedy (:O) and in order for all the jokes to be truly understood, here are the rules of the commission:

1. Up to seven minutes of playing time.

2. The work must have been created during this Urban Retreat.

3. Each play was alotted up to three actors.

4. The plays are being presented as a staged reading: without a set, with actors carrying scripts and wearing street clothes.

5. The play must be communicated entirely through dialogue and action: no stage directions will be read.

6. Required to use at least one of the following props: a spoon, an empty mason jar, a baby bootie, an onion, a conch shell, or an oversized flashlight (torch).

7. Any sound required for the play could only be generated by the actors.

And now, I bring you without further bullshit...


The Five o’clock Shadow by Raymond A. Turco



(MAN 1 speaks with a British accent. MAN 2 is clearly American.)

MAN 1

What are you doing?

MAN 2

(Frantically)

Looking for a way out. You?

MAN 1

Reading this book.

MAN 2

Really? Because I don’t see you turning the pages.

MAN 1

I can’t… It’s one of those goddamn commission rules.

MAN 2

Oh… Is it any good?

MAN 1

I like it. It hasn’t any words though… So why would you want to get out? It’s so cosy in here.

MAN 2

I’m claustrophobic--

MAN 1

Hey Claustrophobic, I’m Antisocial.

MAN 2

Don’t you wanna know…? You know? If there was anything out there? 

MAN 1

I didn’t think there was. Because there’s that fourth wall over there. I always thought this was--

MAN 2 (AND MAN 1)

Everything.

man 1

Pretty much. We’ll just have to try and--

MAN 2 (AND MAN 1)

Cope.

man 1

Yeah… Don’t finish my sentences, okay?

(An OFFICER sounds in from above.)

OFFICER

Attention, attention. Today is Random Selection Day! We will be arbitrarily selecting one of you to hang by the rope. Have a nice day.

MAN 2

Oh my god! We’re all going to die.

MAN 1

Great Scott! Grab that unnecessarily huge torch over there and make it integral.

MAN 2

I’m integrating… I’m integrating… I’m not integrating!

MAN 1

Fuck it then. 

MAN 2

(Hysterically determined)

Okay now what?

MAN 1

Put it down. And anyway, every day is Random Selection Day and I’ve never been picked. And technically, we’re not “all going to die”. Just me. Or just you.

(MAN 2 groans.)

MAN 1

You might want to clean up a bit. You never want to hang by the rope with a five o’clock shadow.

MAN 2

Why?

MAN 1

It just doesn’t look proper is all.

MAN 2

I don’t wanna die.

MAN 1

Oh but… It’s like… Commit to your beard or don’t. Either go smooth as a baby’s arse or all out. There can be no intermediate facial hair.

MAN 2

You gonna elaborate?

MAN 1

No.

MAN 2

But I’m so interested. 

MAN 1

That’ll go away in a second.

MAN 2

Why?

MAN 1

It’s nothing; I can just hear footsteps coming down the hall.

(OFFICER makes clacking noises with his tongue.)

MAN 1

Footsteps.

(OFFICER begins stamping with his feet.)

MAN 2

(Obviously reading from the script)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

MAN 1

Oh wait they’re gone… That line there seemed a little too precise.

MAN 2

See look, it’s in the script.

MAN 1

Ah right: no stage directions will be read, I guess you can’t really write “MAN 2 screams”-- you were screaming, right?

MAN 2

Yeah that was not a yawn... But it’s kinda funny ‘cause I just groaned back there and that was clearly a stage--

MAN 1

Hey, see that closet over there?

MAN 2

Okay yeah. But I really wanna go back--

MAN 1

Really? Can you open it?

MAN 2

No.

MAN 1

Why?

MAN 2

The rules of the commission won’t allow it. What’s in it?

MAN 1

A bunch of lovely homosexual gentlemen. They still won’t vacate the closet.

MAN 2

Why not?

MAN 1

We’ve already got our three actors.

MAN 2

There’s a note on the door… “We’ve gone to see ‘La Cage aux Folles’.” Huh…

MAN 1

Turn it over… With your mind.

MAN 2

Now it says “Fuck you stop stereotyping.”

MAN 1

Turn it over again.

man 2

Now it says “We’ve gone to see ‘La Cage aux Folles’.”

MAN 1

Once more.

MAN 2

“Fuck you stop stereotyping”.

MAN 1

Interesting… Quick get the torch! Maybe it looks different in the light.

(MAN 2 gets the flashlight.)

MAN 2

Can we plug it in?

MAN 1

There’s no outlet.

MAN 2

Then what the fuck am I supposed to do with it?

MAN 1

Wave it around a bit.

(MAN 2 waves the flashlight around a bit while the next part is read.)

MAN 1

(In regimented cadence to the audience)

This is not a spoon. It’s a torch. This is not a mason jar. It is a torch. This is not an onion. It is a torch. This is not a conch shell. It is a--

MAN 2

Come on we only have seven minutes and you don’t need to name all of our available props!

MAN 1

Okay throw it over there.

MAN 2

I can’t. It’ll break… the next play may be using it.

(MAN 2 puts the flashlight down.)

MAN 1

Hey, can I read you something?

MAN 2

But I wanna go back to that flashlight--

MAN 1

(Overly theatrical)

Dow Jones down 78.33%. Google down 3.34%. Yahoo down .1%--

MAN 2

You’re reading me the stocks?

MAN 1

Yeah. How do you like it?

MAN 2

It fucking sucks.

MAN 1

Hey, don’t knock an artist’s work!

MAN 2

You notice how there’s no sign of any kind of conflict in this play? Why don’t we make up our own conflict?

MAN 1

Do we have time?

MAN 2

We’re about halfway down the last page.

MAN 1

Oh dear. We’d better resolve the conflict we don’t have.

MAN 2

Quick, let’s kiss and make up.

MAN 1

No, we can’t open that closet door.

MAN 2

Let’s come past our differences.

MAN 1

We don’t have differences.

MAN 2

Yes we do… Umm… Let’s--

MAN 1

Hey, did you ever notice how not only do we not have a conflict, we are also clearly lacking a point. We had a point, but this point really just degenerated into mindless meta-theatre.

MAN 2

That can be a point.

MAN 1

Yeah… Our point is that we have no point--

MAN 2

Ha! And maybe this playwright guy’s gonna fuck with us some more and reintroduce the original--

(OFFICER enters.)

OFFICER

Time for the hanging.

MAN 2

No!

OFFICER

Not you.

MAN 1

(Excited to die)

Yes!

OFFICER

(To MAN 2)

And God, man, shave that face.

End of Play

 

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 Posted: Mon Jul 19th, 2010 09:06 pm
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Clausey
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Mana: 
Raymond, congrats on attending the conference, wish I had the time to attend those types of thing :D

I was a bit confused at the beginning but I understand that for these types of shows you usually have to headbut right into the action.

Aside from that, I liked it as a whole.  I especially loved the whole "Do we have time?" portion. It's always hard to put conflict in such a short duration of time and you parodied wonderfully. I also like how you made fun of the commission rules. I often dislike a lot of the absurd rules they have. I think it helps some people gain strength as playwrights but for some people it's not exactly the cup of tea. (Really, my only pet peeve is character limitations)

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 Posted: Mon Jul 19th, 2010 11:47 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Glad you enjoyed it, Clausey.

Yeah, I had no idea what to do for the comission so I decided to poke fun at it! Let me know how the "Bus People" production goes.

Cheers,

Raymond

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 Posted: Wed Jul 21st, 2010 02:07 pm
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Paddy
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Mana: 
Raymond.

Really like this.

It's been said that in the first three minutes of a play, you have the audience's complete attention. Personally, I love to sit in a theatre and not have a clue what's going on. It engages.

Nice with the different 'voices' of your characters.

I can almost sense you writing this. Frustrated by constraints and then making them work for you...probably in need of a shave.

Really like this. Well done.

Paddy

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 Posted: Tue Jul 27th, 2010 01:43 pm
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absurdist
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Mana: 
Hi Raymond.

Sorry to introduce a negative note here, but this sketch did nothing for me. I'm sure it would get very knowing laughs from a very knowing audience, but such in-jokes may be lost on the general public. For example, I still don't know what a "fourth wall" is, and I'm a playwright. (Maybe I should know, but it is only a technical phrase, after all.) Secondly, nothing happens in this sketch: it's just five minutes of clever-clever dialogue. I wouldn't want to sit through it.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 27th, 2010 03:46 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Absurdist, I totally understand where you are coming from; this was one of the problems I was concerned about going into the whole thing. You see, this whole skit (I would not even truly call it a "play") is based upon the limitations of the Commission I was handed. I knew that this piece would inherently have no point and no conflict. Then I started thinking, "well, could the search for a conflict and struggle with the limitations of the Commission become a conflict?" Then I went ever so much deeper into meta-selfreferentialism and ended up confusing myself. It was just a little piece that I was forced into doing, I have no real intentions to market it, because as you said, the jokes are mostly in-jokes.

Anyway thanks for your input!

~RTurco

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 Posted: Tue Jul 27th, 2010 04:06 pm
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absurdist
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Mana: 
Thanks for your reply, Raymond. I look forward to reading more of your output - maybe next time free of the artificial constraints imposed by a writing course! Best regards.

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 Posted: Tue Jul 27th, 2010 04:37 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
It's great to know that someone is interested in my work! Actually, if you are interested in serious drama maybe you could take a look at a play I'm still sort of working on from a while back: http://www.stageplays-forum.com/forum6/3136.html. It's changed a lot from what you will see in the post but I could send you a new copy if you'd like.

What have you been working on lately?

~Raymond

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 Posted: Wed Jul 28th, 2010 07:54 am
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Christine Rossetti
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Mana: 
Hello RTurco,

This is the first time I make a contribution to this forum, I guess I have to start somewhere, I have read a lot of plays on this forum. Some I liked, some I did not like, so far seem pretty logical ! I wanted to make comments on a lot of plays, but I guess I was shy and careful, I am always waiting for someone to tell me "How can you critize my play ??? English is not even your language !!!" So I have been reading but stayed silent.

 I liked your play, the flow of the dialogue and the sharp sentences. I did not like too much all the references about theater technique or practice, as I think (but this is only my opinion) it hold back the play, if that is a right expression. When I read the first time, it felt like being on an express train, but then it stops at every single station, so every time I got side track by the theatre references. Also I had more like a question than a comment : Why did you make the difference between two accents, American and British ? What do you want to say about that ?

Take care

Christine

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 Posted: Wed Jul 28th, 2010 04:12 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Well, Christine, I'm glad you enjoyed the piece. To answer your question, I have no idea why I chose those two accents. I knew I wanted each character to have his own voice so I picked the two most accessible accents in English. Plus, I had a couple jokes in the original draft about there not being any water in the water closet, but they are no longer there. I kept the accents anyway.

Like I said in previous posts, this piece was written for a very specific audience under very specific circumstances; the commission presented obstacles that could easily be turned into jokes.

Oh and by the way, don't ever think that anyone around here would rebuke your critique on the basis that English is not your primary language.

Cheers,

RTurco

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 Posted: Fri Jul 30th, 2010 02:11 pm
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muncy
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Mana: 
I really enjoyed this. it maybe helps that I have been involved workshops so consider myself to be in on the in jokes, but I found it engaging and pleasingly absurd. Welcome back!

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 Posted: Fri Jul 30th, 2010 08:07 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Glad you enjoyed it, muncy! And I'm happy to be back.

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 Posted: Thu Aug 5th, 2010 08:25 pm
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Darkja
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Mana: 
RTurco,

       I've been very hesitant to comment on peoples stuff lately (walking on eggshells a bit) but when I read yours I just had to. I recently was commissioned to write a play in 768 words on a particular theme. It actually did help clarify my work but at the time oh how I lauded the rules. I think you have a very witty piece here for a very specific audience. I like the "in jokes". Sometimes I have to think what the heck is wrong with writing for a specific group.

 

Darkja

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 Posted: Mon Sep 6th, 2010 05:01 pm
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MontyD
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Mana: 
I like the characters' contrast, the dialogue, the pace, and the inside jokes. Well done!

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 Posted: Sat Sep 18th, 2010 04:25 am
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JustGoWithIt
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Mana: 
I, for one, thought you took a very intuitive approach to this piece. While the imposed rules might have limited another playwright's creativity and reduced their hope, you used them to your advantage and created a play that was actually more creative than anything I have read in a while.

However, you should ideally try not to take that approach too much. It worked brilliantly once, but the second time around may be different.

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 Posted: Sat Sep 18th, 2010 07:31 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
Glad you all enjoyed the piece! It's not like anything I've ever done before, and because it was written for a specific audience and situation, I don't think I shall be doing anything like it again, at least for mainstream theatre. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy doing it, it's just that the play's comedy depends on the rules of a comission. A lot of my other works are generally less absurd and more realistic anyway.

But through writing this piece, I gained some more insight into myself as a writer and discovered my capacity for writing comedy. I'd always thought I'd been a straight-up dramatic writer, but it seems that I do have a funny bone somewhere

 

Cheers,

RTurco

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 Posted: Fri Feb 25th, 2011 05:20 pm
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QuixotesGhost
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Mana: 
Liked it, favorite bits were; 'Turn it over - with your mind," and the precise scream.

If you wanted to rewrite this for a more general audience, it would seem to me that you need to supply alternate explanations for all the arbitrary rules these characters are subject to. For example, Why is Man 1 reading a book but cannot or is unwilling to turn the pages - that to me is a question that could have all sorts of interesting answers besides the meta-theatrical. Is he a reading addict and so has limited himself to a single page per night to curb his addiction? Was he attacked by a flock of birds as a small child and the rustling of pages remind him of the rustling of wings? Is the book simply so good that he doesn't want it to end and so reads the same page over and over again?

There's already this theme of these arbitrary rules that the characters are subjected to but don't really know why - through the commision rules, but also through the officer.

Also, certain things in this piece are already general meta-theatrical instead of specific to the commision rules - so you could either make the meta-theatre more general, abandon the meta-theatre and just explore arbitrary rules, or introduce the commision rules somehow in the script itself (and the commision rules don't necesarily have to be related to theatre, they might be incorporated as the whims of a prison warden, for example.)      

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 Posted: Fri Feb 25th, 2011 05:20 pm
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QuixotesGhost
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Mana: 
[Gah, I keep double-posting on this forum]

Last edited on Fri Feb 25th, 2011 05:21 pm by QuixotesGhost

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 Posted: Fri Feb 25th, 2011 09:27 pm
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RTurco
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Mana: 
QuixotesGhost, I like the idea of finding interesting explanations for the rules or even attributing the rules to the "prison" that they habitate. Now I've just realised a number of ways to revise this piece for regular theatre. Woohoo!

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