The February reading at the Liminal gallery in Roanoke dealt with “intersections.”
For me, that meant my short piece, “A Spork in the Road.”
A few years ago, I attended the state high school basketball championships — a series of games all day long in various size classifications. I was particularly struck by one of the girls’ games, which pitted a team with a star player destined for college hoops against a team with unheralded players. Out of that came “The Ring” — a look into the future in which those two players meet again.
There’s a five-minute version (set in a nursing home) and a 20-25 minute version (in which the unheralded player breaks into the star’s home to steal the ring she felt she deserved.)
I’m thrilled to report today that the five-minute version has been accepted into the 3rd annual NFA New Works Festival at the Newburgh Free Academy in Newburgh, New York. I’m also excited to hear one of my works is being produced, but this is especially gratifying because in this case it was the students themselves who picked this script to be produced. Mine was one of 14 pieces picked for production out of 100 submitted.
The festival will be May 30.
The Lake Players — at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia — will include my script “God and the Devil Meet for a Business Lunch” in a night of ten-minute shows on March 28.
The director sends this word: “We had our first read thru on Monday and it got big laughs all around.”
GOD AND THE DEVIL MEET FOR A BUSINESS LUNCH
God and the devil meet in an out-of-the-way lunch spot to discuss a business proposition: The devil thinks the Almighty should reimburse him for punishing the wicked. Comes in two versions, one 5 minutes, one 10 minutes. Cast: Three — 2 males, 1 female. Running time: Five minutes or ten minutes.
I got word this week that my hour-long one-act “Hamlet Goes Hollywood” will be published later this year by Big Dog Plays.
That’s the same publishing house that has published some of my other scripts, including “Santa Claustrophobia,” which has been produced 17 times. (Others from Big Dog include “Spiders” and “Red, Ripe and Round”; you can find my complete list of 0ne-acts, published and unpublished here, with this explanation of why I don’t charge royalties for unpublished work.)
Here’s the synopsis of “Hamlet Goes Hollywood,” coming soon to a play catalog near you (and, I hope, some high school stages):
HAMLET GOES HOLLYWOOD
Shakespeare himself is on the set of a Hollywood production of “Hamlet” when the director decides a few modest script changes are in order. Shakespeare objects, the director decides to experiment with setting the show in different genres — police show, science fiction, western, and so forth. The costumes keep changing, as do some of the characters. Ophelia clamors for a role with a sword, Laertes wants a bigger part, and Shakespeare himself eventually tries a rap version. Cast: 20 — 8 males, 4 female, 8 non-gender. Running time: One hour.
A few years ago, I read a book about Antarctica, which inspired several pieces — a one-act called “Lionized,” and three short pieces called “Countdown to 2041″ (when the treaty governing the continent is set to expire), “Fairweather at the Pole” and “Choose Your Companions Carefully.”
Most of those pieces (“Countdown to 2041″ is the exception”) deal with the same uncomfortable topic — explorers forced to resort to cannibalism to stay alive.
On January 27, the Liminal gallery had one of its regular readings, with the theme “A Midwinter’s Night Dream.” I didn’t really have any odes to winter, but I did have “Choose Your Companions Carefully.” If Antarctic exploration isn’t winter, what is?
Mike Allen read the piece for me — putting on a full-fledged shivering act. Weeks later, I still have people who were there talking about it. As for the people who were there, you’ll notice an empty auditorium in the video. That’s because the audience was on the stage, and this video was shot from a side view.
Since last summer, I’ve been collecting snatches of conversations that I overhear. On the street. At coffee shops. At the Waffle House.
Last week, I had a chance to make use of some of those. The theme at the regular reading at the Liminal alternative artspace in Roanoke was “found texts.” The idea was for readers to take things not meant as art and turn them into art. Some used old letters. I used 24 lines I had overheard in downtown Roanoke.
Borrowing a technique from the world of comedy improv, I cut them into 24 pieces of paper, put them in a box and then had two people — Ashley Meador and Katerina Yancey — pull out lines and create a dialogue with them.
Here’s the result.
I have a series of scripts in which I have taken classic works — usually by Shakespeare — and rendered them into scripts in which each character speaks a line of just one word.
The opening of “The One Word Macbeth” reads like this:
WITCH ONE: Thunder!
WITCH TWO: Lightning!
WITCH THREE: Rain!
WITCH ONE: Meeting!
WITCH TWO: Who?
WITCH THREE: Us!
WITCH TWO: Time?
WITCH ONE: Sunset!
WITCH TWO: Battle?
WITCH THREE: Finished!
WITCH TWO: Location?
WITCH ONE: Heath!
WITCH TWO: Subject?
WITCH THREE: Macbeth!
WITCH TWO: Ah!
WITCH ONE: Fair!
WITCH TWO: Foul!
WITCH THREE: Foul!
WITCH ONE: Fair!
A prospective director recently read this script (and a few others) and sent this praise:
“I’m pretty sure that One Word Macbeth is one of the funniest things I have read. So much so that I immediately handed it over to my stage manager with the instruction “You need to read this.” Then I just sat and watched her read it and laugh. (She agrees it’s hilarious!) I would LOVE to see the other ones. I just picture how it would play out on stage and it makes me happy. Also, I loved Hamlet Goes to Hollywood. So great!”
I’m hoping to get a production (or two) out of this.