May 26, 2006

A Play A Day #43

Intermission: The Other Play


Stage, house and lobby of a theatre

(On the stage, a woman kneels over a hole in the stage, she is crying, behind her is a life-size fiberglass elephant, two tires from a large truck, and a naked man. The woman has a butcher knife tied around her neck. The man is laughing. From offstage, we hear a shower running and a stock market report from a loud TV. Also, on top of a small brick column stage left, there are doughnuts in a flower vase with a black rose in the center of them. Lights and sound down, then lights up on house as they applaud the first half of the show they just saw: "The Egyptian Protocols #17" It is thehotnewplay in town! All the drama scenesters are out in force.

(Most of the crowd files out of the house. In the delightfully decrepit lobby, we see audience members buying drinks and food. They are well-dressed, but ironically so; we hear snippets of conversation, but never really full enough to make sense of the overall nature of the conversation. It does not matter exactly what the audience members say. There are two requirements here: they should mill about in groups of two or more; and everything they say that is intended to be heard by the real audience must be screamingly pretentious or embarrassingly personal.

(The actors portraying the audience do this for about eight minutes; they need to find a rhythm so everyone is not trying to be heard at exactly the same time. There should be a dull roar for most of the time, but every few seconds a hugely pretentious or personal expression should float over the top. They are commenting on this play or theatre, in general. There should be some people who are sharing far-too-intimate experiences. It would be good to mix them up. The pretention should dominate with just a few tortured, personal comments thrown in for variety.

people actually do this. They are, by their very nature, attention-sluts; so they show off their obscure knowledge of theatrical terminology and philosophy and history, or they wear their failures and pain on a sandwich board. It may be fun for individual actors to really stay within their own stories for the length of the intermission; shooting out more pretentious and more embarassing lines as they progress through a discussion.

(People start slowly heading back to their seats. Eventually, a horrible sounding buzzer indicates that intermission is over. The audience, of course, is charmed by the bell's gutsy intensity. They applaud their ability to attend, real plays; you know, real plays, man, with loud buzzers at intermission. It is a badge of honor.

(Back in the house, people still mill about; more pretentious and personal things are said. Lights fade on house; a couple last parting words in the audience; then stage lights are up. Scene on stage is same as before, except the naked man now wears a pair of lacy thong underwear and football shoulder pads. Also there are more doughnuts in the vase, and the rose is on fire, and there are two hamsters in a cage, stage right. The cage has been designed to look like a hamster-sized, human prison. One of the hamsters has a butcher knife around its neck. The other hamster wears a pair of hot pants and is smoking a tiny cigarette.)



Circe said...

It's funny that you wrote this because I was thinking of a similar play a couple of weeks ago when we went to the Jungle. I kept overhearing little pretensious snipits during intermission and thought it would be interesting to make a play out of different conversations people were having. I've read your blog every day this week. Woohoo!

Anonymous said...

I just want to see someone costume a hamster in hot pants.

Your Favorite Wife

emcee emdee said...


That is the most surreal and hilarious thing I've read in quite some time. It's in the form of a play, but could never be performed. Isn't that ultimately what Beckett was striving to attain? Doesn't it have a firm, post-modern-y body with a warm oaky finish?


Brendon Etter said...

Oh, yes... this play was aged in a po-mo oak cask - which is to say a plastic tumbler from Conoco... it's co-no-co-po-mo, a whole new style for Amerian theater...

Yeah, Beckett was such a sell-out; I write the plays that make the whole world shrug their shoulders. If you're looking for crap, read Beckett; if your looking for unbeatably pretentious post-post-post-modern crap, look no further!

Thanks for the kind words!