Point is, most of what I send my time writing is not necessarily blog worthy. But luckily that somewhat changed this week. In one of my classes, we received a challenge: write a 5 minute play only using the dialogue from a page out of the yellow pages. Remember the yellow pages? They're still a thing.
So yeah, I started thinking that I would write a funny comedy about two secretaries working for a superhero or a supervillian: the banality of office work juxtaposed against the grandiosity of comic book heroics. Trite, I know; but it was a 5 minute play, tropes felt fine. Somehow that whole idea fell away and instead I was thinking of Joan of Arc and Antigone. Also, it's kinda hard to write 5 minutes worth of dialogue from on piece of paper, so I ended up writing Eugene O'Neill-esque stage directions. The stage directions are more beautiful to me than what I necessarily crafted with the dialogue; but the images definitely stemmed from the dialogue. Hope you enjoy the story play I have entitled Memorial:
Setting: A bare room. A single chair is placed somewhere. A broom with a metal dustpan and a waste basket are in a corner. Gray walls and minimal lighting. A young woman kneels, praying silently. A man enters.
Man: You expect abatement?
Woman: [Continues silent prayer]
Man: You call for restoration? For Response?
Woman: [Continues silent prayer]
Man: You express satisfaction?
Woman: [Ends prayer and stands. Might not yet acknowledge his interaction]
Man: Apparel. Code. You expect removal. You wear damage, expect damage. You live for cemeteries.
Woman: [Walks towards the broom and begins sweeping. The stage is bare so it will be as though she is sweeping dust or is merely pantomiming the act of cleaning]
Man: We correct problems. We guarantee regulation. You? You dress for this cleaning. You expect excessive damage, to you and your damaged basement.
Woman: [Sweeps contents from floor into dustpan and walks towards waste basket]
Man: Wet. Moldy. Flat-rate crawl space.
Woman: [Empties contents into waste basket]
Man: Cold barriers serving our earth. No steps needed—
[Man grabs the broom out of Woman’s hand. Man holds the broom at his side while grabbing the dustpan in order to throw it across the room]
Man: Professional, sagging real estate . . . with doors on both ends. You call for restoration; you expect the cemeteries.
Woman: [Indicating the broom] High security, this property management.
Man: Experienced techniques.
[Woman acknowledges sentiment with a nod. Woman returns to waste basket. She removes her shoes. She bends down to examine the contents of the basket. She picks up the basket and begins to walk out a pattern around the chair. She begins to remove articles from the basket and deliberately places them in certain areas along the path: these might be markers or signposts for later travelers to follow. These materials are the common materials found in a wastebasket: crumbled paper, used tissues, perhaps rinds of fruit, but there is also a few pairs of shoes. During this time, Man uses the broom to sweep the path into chaos. It is not disruptive to Woman as a whole, but requires a readjustment in her relationship to the path. As he alters the landscape, she should adapt to the new configuration and continue adding new materials and walking patterns to the path. When the basket is empty, she places it on the ground. She partially kneels as if to return to prayer. Woman leaps out of the kneeling stance and initiates a ritualized dance. Completes the dance before beginning the next dialogue]
Woman: You test people. You test people for control. You mention people to test for control. You mention “THE PEOPLE” to test for control. We control basements and barriers. You call for this control. You call for regulation to construct your control.
Man: We consult Corinthians for initial regulation.
Woman: And start a catholic removal of any written problem related to your remediation.
Man: [Scoffs and his use of “we” takes on a patronizing tone] We discover a series of problems in your estimate. You live in mildew.
Woman: You expect machines: commercial specialists delivered directly to your house or business. We design monuments in water. A day in earth continued in this restoration. We live in cemeteries, consulting conservation and cleaning this D&C. In this office of the master, we correct your insulation and security net.
Man: You construct the master you serve.
Woman: And serve the master we construct. We expect this master. We wear this master. We deserve this master. We live and see the memorial in the basement. We deserve the cemetery.
[Woman presents her hands to the man, prepared for handcuffing or bondage by some other means. Man proceeds to bound Woman. He blindfolds her or places a bag over her head. He leads her out of the room. After a few moments, another Man leads another bound and blindfolded Woman into the room. 2nd Man removes blindfold and bondage from 2nd Woman and leaves her in the room. 2nd Woman takes in the room. She removes her shoes. She walks a path left by the materials on the ground. When she completes the path, 2nd Woman picks up the waste basket and picks up the material to place back in the waste basket. She starts with the 1st woman’s pair of shoes and puts everything in the basket except her shoes. 2nd Woman places the waste basket in a new area of the room and moves the chair to a new location before putting her own shoes back on. She kneels to pray]