Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Scavenged Fragments of Conversation: The Pledge.

As I was recently walking around the National Gallery in Canberra, I overheard a woman says to her friend:-

"Damn, I think we should make a pledge tonight..."

I was taken by the possibility of the line. Should play with this as an exercise conversation starter or ending.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quote of the day

There's only one compliment from a director that can mean anything to a playwright:

'I like your play and I'm going to put in on.'

Richard Eyre (from Nation Service p 79.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Quote of the day

the difference between commitment and involvement: in a ham omelette the pig is committed but the chicken is involved.

Richard Eyre (quoting Al Clark in 'National Service'. p 60)

Monday, June 30, 2008

Quote of the day

Words without actions are the assassins of idealism.

Herbert Hoover (quoted on Richard Larter's painting 'First Hand Panoramo Way' 1970)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quote of the day

Whenever I did anything mainly because I thought it was going to be commercial, it was a failure, and whenever I did something only because I thought it was good, it turned out to be commercial.

Jean-Louis Barrault (as quoted by Richard Eyre in 'National Service')

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ledge Fetish: Play Script.

There are two characters: Andy and Bobby. Both can be played as either male or female.­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Fade up sound-scape of a city street. Snap lights up: Day.

There is only a wooden crate (for portable shoeshine store) on stage.

Andy is sitting on the crate. Andy eats lunch and watches pedestrians walking past. Andy is bored. Pause.
Bobby slowly enters and stops downstage. Bobby looks up over the audience.
Andy stops eating and watches Bobby for a moment.
Andy eventually moves to stand beside Bobby.
Bobby doesn’t move.

Andy: You okay?
Bobby: (smiles, nods) Thanks.
Andy: Okay (pause - moves away – stops - returns) You an architect?
Bobby: No.
Andy: I was only wondering… It’s just that you’re staring up.
Bobby: Yes.
Andy: At that building?
Bobby: Yes.
Andy: That you work in?
Bobby: No!
Andy: No? No...So you live there?
Bobby: No.
Andy: No?
Bobby: No. I don’t think I’ve ever actually been inside that building. Why?
Andy: Nothing. No Reason …That’s okay… And you’re okay?
Bobby: Yes, and I’m not an architect.


Andy: Are you a history student?
Bobby: (smiles) No.
Andy: A journalist?
Bobby: No.
Andy: A freelance photographer?
Bobby: No.
Andy: (flirting) How about a research assistant for a glossy mag?
Bobby: No.
Andy: A professional shopper?
Bobby: No. I wish.
Andy: A private investigator on a stake out?

Bobby laughs.

Andy: Not a cop?

Bobby shakes head.

Andy: And you’re wouldn’t be a criminal casing out your next job?
Bobby: No.
Andy continues to stand next to Bobby looking up. Pause.

Bobby: Don’t you have some place you should be?
Andy: Oh yeah. There. That’s my box …I shine shoes, professional I mean. It’s actually quite a/
Bobby: Shouldn’t you be getting back to work then?
Andy: No. Quiet now. The rush is over… unless you’d like me to shine/
Bobby: No! No… No, thank you.


Andy: You know, I really do enjoy a good mystery.
Bobby: Ehh?
Andy: Somebody I can’t pick.
Bobby: Sorry!
Andy: My hobby! Helps pass the time during a lull in the shoes…Working out people…you… your story … You’re dressed kind of corporate like.
Bobby: Yes. I guess so.
Andy: And you’re not a property developer, are you?
Bobby: No.
Andy: Nor a real estate agent.
Bobby: No. I’m not. I’m actually a /
Andy: Ssssh. Please! No! Don’t spoil the game. I’ve almost got you picked. (pause) Do you know somebody who works or lives in there?
Bobby: No.
Andy: Okay. (beat) I give in!
Bobby: What?
Andy: So what are you looking at?
Bobby: Oh, the direct approach. Finally. I like that.

Andy points up over the audience.

Bobby: I am looking at that building.
Andy: Well, yes, I can see that, but what I’m asking is why?
Bobby: Oh. Because I like that building.
Andy: (slowly) because you “like” that building, you spend your afternoon standing alone on a crowded city street, only staring up at a building but never entering it…Right… No…I don’t think I was never going to pick that one? That was a hard one! (Pause. Smiles.) And people think I’m strange?

Bobby shrugs.

Andy: And this your hobby... like trainspotting?
Bobby: No. I just like to look at older building… and think.
Andy: About what?
Bobby: All matter of things. (pointing) Come. Look.
Andy: At what?
Bobby: It is a beautiful old building. They don’t make buildings like this anymore.
Andy: No? I suppose they don’t… It’s more glass and steel these days.
Bobby: (starting to open up) Stop! Really look at it! The architectural detail, the ornamentation, the windows. You could still open up those windows if you wanted to. (now on a roll) Sometimes you can feel trapped in these new glass towers they build! Sometimes, don’t you wish you had a window you could open? /
Andy: A window. Down here?
Bobby: / If you wanted to, you could stick your head outside the window and look up and down on the street. You could smell the city. You could scream out at the top of your voice, above the noise of the traffic below, and nobody would care.
Andy: I reckon the bloke in the next desk might care?

Bobby laughs at the sudden passionate outburst. Bobby is feeling liberated.

Andy: You do really like old buildings!
Bobby: You like stories?
Andy: Yes.
Bobby: Look at that ledge. The one under the windows that goes all the way across the facade. It has a story to tell, if you listen.
Andy: Listen to what?
Bobby: You could still climb out on that ledge if you wanted to.
Andy: Why would someone climb out there unless they…?
Bobby: Oh, don’t tell me you haven’t seen some old black and white movie where a desperate alcoholic worker goes psycho about the state of filing cabinets, and climbs out onto a ledge, threatening to jump, demanding that someone brings his wife downtown, so she can witness his demise. The crowd gathers below, afraid to look away, in case they miss the moment of impact. There are always a couple of clowns chanting “jump, jump, jump”, but they get ushered away by the cops who have parked two or three cars across the street to block the traffic flow. And then, there is the detective on a megaphone, pacing back and forth, trying to calm the jumper down… whilst their partner runs aheads upstairs, to talk the nutter in from the window. Only, they always have to go out of the ledge as well, and they nearly fall. Before finally managing to drag the broken sobbing idiot back into safety.
Andy: What movie did you say this was in?
Bobby: It’s in lots of old movies. It’s a common cliché. A Hollywood story device and there it is. A real old fashioned “Jumping Ledge”!


Now that is a story!


What do you say?
Andy: What did you say you do for a living again?
Bobby: I didn’t…I’m an accountant.
Andy: Ahhh… Fuck! That explains it?
Bobby: What?
Andy: Fuck. You’re a depressed accountant who wants to jump out of that window, to fucking commit suicide down here on my shoe shine block.
Bobby: What?
Andy: (more to themselves) Shit, I can pick them.
Bobby: Ehh.
Andy: (to themselves) Should I say don’t do it?
Bobby: No.
Andy: (to themselves) I guess there’ll be plenty of shoes for me to clean afterwards.
Bobby: No. No. Listen. It’s only a fantasy story.
Andy: (a hint of sarcasm) Oh, that’s okay, if you only fantasise about jumping off the ledge? Well, yeah, that’s okay then.
Bobby: I’m only saying that I love that the possibility of the ledge still exists. It’s risky and it’s dangerous. When everything else is so safe and regulated and boring and clean. Knowing that the ledge is still exists is comforting.
Andy: I don’t feel comforted by the ledge.
Bobby: How can you feel alive when there’s no dirt. No germs. No danger.
Andy: I have no idea what you’re talking about!
Bobby: I’m only trying to say I like to go for walks and find old building...
Andy: And you fantasise about jumping out windows.
Bobby: Not jumping. I imagine the adrenalin rush the cops must feel. Talking that nutter back in. Saving their life. I fantasise about that rush.
Andy: So you fantasise about other people jumping!
Bobby: About saving them!
Andy Why don’t you just become a fire-fighter or a doctor or something.
Bobby: (Pause. Andy gives Bobby a look.) My Dad’s an accountant.
Andy: (nods) And looking at old buildings helps you to forget how terrible being an Accountant is?
Bobby: A little. Sometimes. For a couple of minutes.

Pause. Both stand looking up at the building.

Andy: How would you save them?
Bobby: Who?
Andy: The jump crazy nutter.
Bobby: Maybe…Talk to them…Reason with them. Show them that they have something to live for.

Andy slowly drags the crate across and stands on the edge of it. Bobby watches.

Andy: (dramatically playing a role) I can’t handle this anymore.
Bobby What are you doing?
Andy: (breaking from role) Show me! I’m the jumper. I’m ready to end it all.
Bobby: (laughing) What? Here in the street.
Andy: Yeah. They don’t care, People usually ignore me anyway.
(back in role play) The world’s gone crazy, crazy it’s gone.
Bobby: (in role) Wait. Please don’t jump.
Andy: (in role) Why not? You don’t understand? Nobody does!
Bobby:. (in role) No, I do understand. Believe me. My job sucks too.
Andy: (in role) I never said I hated my job.
Bobby: (in role) But you must.
Andy: (drops role) Why?
Bobby: (in role) You’re a Shoeshine Artist?
Andy: What’s wrong with doing shoeshine.
Bobby: (in role) I don’t know. I guess the hours are limited, and even you said there was a lack of respect from your customers, and I imagine the pay might be poor.
Andy: You can’t talk. You hate accounting.
Bobby: Yes. But I want to be a film maker. The accountancy is only temporary thing.
Andy: You’re meant to be talking me out of jumping to my death. Not into it.


Andy: I’m sorry, but you really suck at this…and I’M STILL JUMPING.
Bobby: Noooo.

Andy falls forward off the crate onto the stage floor.

Bobby watches unable to stop the action.

Andy: SPLAT!

Andy slow gets up, smiling.

Andy: I guess that didn’t help?
Bobby: No. But it was fun. Maybe I’ll do better next time.


Andy: So, can I get your phone number?
Bobby: Why?
Andy: So I can call you.
Bobby: You shine shoes!
Andy: Well. I deserve something after all that?

Bobby exits. Andy stands dumbstruck looking at the audience. Snap lights out.
This script was first performed as part of the Singapore Short and Sweet 2008 season. Directed by Michael Wang with Julie Wee as Andy and Musa Fazel as Bobby.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quote of the day

If you build a bridge to go across a river it obviously has to go from one point to another point. If it doesn't do that, it's not a bridge, it's something else, perhaps an art work of some kind. [Or, I would add, maybe an unfinished bridge. With a little work, it might still get to the other side,]. . . If you want to build an automobile, probably it has to have wheels, and if you hate wheels you should build something else, maybe a table.

Arthur Miller (quoted in The Playwright's Guidebook. p123)