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The exhilaration, exultation, expectations and experiences of writing plays and getting a play produced or noticed.
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1. Life imitates art

On occasion during our run of the mill existence here on planet earth, life imitates art. This was the case during a recent visit from a plumber to unblock a bathroom drain. The visit was routine but there came a point during a conversation that seemed straight out of my play, “Gin: an Allegory for Playing the Game of Life.” You know how it is – that Twilight Zone/déjà vu feeling we’ve all experienced at some point where a conversation seems familiar and you’re not sure if you’ve heard it before.  

Here is the scene from the play where Lyle, the super, arrives to address the blocked sink of Becky, the main character and the cynic. SARAH, another character is one of those people who always sees the good in everyone and everything. I cut and pasted parts so the formatting isn't ideal. This is one of my favorite plays but then that's what I say about all of them.


                         BECKY opens the door to LYLE, the super, who is leaning on
                         the side of the door, engrossed in music coming out of earphones.
                         His dress is grunge with long stringy hair and grimy
                         clothes

BECKY

Well, well. Look who the wind blew in. Hello up there? Anybody home?

                         BECKY taps him on the shoulder and he jumps in response

Forgive me but you do remember why you're here? To unblock my pipes? Lyle super - me tenant?

LYLE
I know that

BECKY
Of course you do and I'm Madonna

LYLE
Hey – and they tol’ me your name was Becky Bitch. Oh… I see. Becky Bitch Madonna!

                         LYLE pushes Becky aside

Okay…what and where's the problem?

BECKY
You for a start but I gotta take what I can get. My sink has been blocked since last week

LYLE
Okay… hold it a sec…this is a good part

                         Lyle starts gyrating and playing an invisible guitar

BECKY
My God – the kid has overdosed on drugs right here in my apartment. Call 911

LYLE
(stops abruptly)
That was the best part of the CD. Bet'chu wash your hair in this sink, don't you

BECKY
And your point is? Most normal people wash their hair, Lyle, but there are exceptions, like you for example

LYLE
Ladies your age never wanna admit it but we supers know better. If I had a dollar for every time I've unblocked a sink and removed a big blob of the stuff, I’d be a gazillionaire. Wait a sec’…

                         LYLE begins gyrating

BECKY
I hope I'm not disturbing your musical interludes or anything. Listen, there's no way, my hair, blocked that drain. Maybe you don't clean the pipes often enough, did that occur to you? So? Fix it. Hello? Lyle!

LYLE

This band is like… fab-u-lo-so… We'll try chemicals first and if that don't work, we'll use the snake

BECKY
You're gonna use strong chemicals in my sink? Come to think of it, you're probably no stranger to chemical mixes

SARAH
OhmyGod! They use poor defenseless snakes to clean out drains, now? But I'm sure you use the non-poisonous type, right? Do the animal welfare people know about this?

BECKY

Sarah dear, count your cards or something. Just do what you have to do and unblock it?

LYLE
Got some news you won't wanna hear, lady

BECKY
If it means you're quitting your job after unblocking my sink, it's good

LYLE
I'm wrong about the blockage

BECKY
Told you it wasn't hair. I'm not a plumber and even I knew as much

LYLE
It's deep down in the main pipe system, under the sink

BECKY
And this means that…

LYLE
…it's gonna cost. Might hav'ta call in a plumber

BECKY
Can't youfix it? What are they paying you for?

LYLE
I'll try but I ain't making no promises. I'm gonna go look for my tools, downstairs. Whoever you get to do the job will take a half a day, at least. Maybe more

BECKY

This is really good. A handyman with no tools


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2. Another tasty morsal of "Neighbors"

Another snippet from "Neighbors."

Following yet another verbal confrontation, Portman has invited Taylor for a friendly drink at the neighborhood bar. Enter Joseph Martini, a customer, who after listening to the pair discuss their views on life and the garden, makes them an offer they decide to accept.

The place is Patty's Place, the bar co-owned by Patty and Portman.



MARTINI

I think I got the big picture. Don't know how'd you feel about this, but would you consider using the services of a mediator?

 
PORTMAN

Ain't that a person who makes street dividers – what's that gonna do for us?
 

TAYLOR

You'll have to forgive my good friend here, since his vocabulary is somewhat limited. A mediator, dear neighbor, is a person who's not familiar with the parties involved, who listens to two sides of a story and then presents an unbiased opinion. Do you happen to know anyone who could do that for us? I’ve already contacted somebody who knows somebody at City Hall but if you you’ve got someone you could recommend… Of course she or he would have to have some experience with property disputes…
 

MARTINI

Believe it or not, it so happens that I'm a semi-retired land surveyor by trade, and I've listened to hundreds, maybe thousands, of stories involving issues like yours. I'd be willing to investigate in the way of thanks for your warm welcome here

 
PORTMAN

Go on! Now you tell me that this ain't fate, Taylor! Here we are in the middle of tryin' to find an answer to our problem and Martini here just happens to drop by for a drink. I mean – what are the odds of that happening, huh?

 
TAYLOR

Indeed. A little too convenient if you ask me

 
PORTMAN

Chalk it up to fate, is all
 

TAYLOR

I dunno - a supposed stranger shows up out of the blue and…

 
MARTINI

I can assure you, sir, that this is the first time I've visited this bar. If you'd rather pass on this opportunity…

 
PORTMAN

Of course he wants to get your legal opinion. Listen Taylor, if Martini here says he made a living settling arguments like ours, then he's the man for the job

 
MARTINI

I'll need to examine the house plans first…


TAYLOR

It's just too convenient for my liking. Do you have anything that says you’re a surveyor?

 

PORTMAN

Do you ask your trash collector for identification or the local delivery guy? Why should our new friend here, have to prove to you that he is who he says he is? Don't pay no attention to him. The man’s got no manners whatsoever


MARTINI

I understand your suspicions and need to know more about me professionally but I have to tell you that I'm very busy doing contract work. So if you're not interested…


PORTMAN

Hang on a minute – I'm willing to let Martini here study the situation - and I'll even go along with his findings. How's that for blind faith, huh?

 
TAYLOR

The only thing I'll agree to is that he can listen to both sides and offer an opinion, period. Let’s see what he comes up with

 

PORTMAN

You were the one who threatened to call a land surveyor just this very morning. Well – here he is! Any land surveyor you call in is gonna be a stranger. D'ya want this man to medicate our dispute, or not?  We're here to fix fences, not build new ones


TAYLOR

You mean mediateour dispute…

 
PORTMAN

See what I mean? There he goes again. Medicate…mediate…what's a 'c' between friends?


TAYLOR

I didn't mean to insult your professional integrity, Mr. Martini

 
PORTMAN

Well, Ihappen to believe that friends take each other at their word, so I say - let's get on with it! Why don't we drink to…Mr. Martini's -

 
MARTINI

- Joey -

 
PORTMAN

- Joey's findings. Line 'em up Miss Patty and lemonade again for you Joey boy? And whatever my neighbor wants here

 
MARTINI

That's it for me or I'm gonna have to swim outta here. So, how we gonna do this?

 
PORTMAN

Listen – here's a plan. Why don't we wait 'til early evening, once the sun goes down, when it'll be cooler for you to measure our land.  We could hang 'round here for a while and catch the bodacious babes playing volleyball on TV
 

TAYLOR

I haven't agreed to Mr. Martini becoming involved yet

 
PORTMAN

Of course you have! You wanted a meditator and now you got one! What more could a person ask for?
 

MARTINI

Sounds good to me. It'll certainly make my job easier waiting until things cool down a bit


PATTY

In more ways than one

 
PORTMAN

So, it's agreed? We might as well stay here. Patty here will take good care of us

 
TAYLOR

I suppose it can't hurt. As much as I would love to hang here with you guys, my green peppers need staking and my tomato patch needs de-weeding. How 'bout we meet later, say about…seven?


PORTMAN

We won't have to worry about workin' in the dark since my neighbor installed flood lights near his garden, to scare away veggie thieves


TAYLOR

It's to discourage a family of groundhogs that steal at night. I don't spend all those hours to have all my stuff eaten by animal

 
PORTMAN

You do know that you're insultin' me again, Taylor. We're supposed to be getting' to know each other and I'm being ditched for some peppers and tomatoes? 


TAYLOR

It's not that I don't appreciate your invitation, but I've got a lot to do around the house. Like I said, we'll meet in my back yard if that's okay with you, Mr. Martini?

 
MARTINI

Sounds like a plan to me

PORTMAN

Perfect-o-mundo!. Me and Joey...I mean, Mr. Martini will get to know each other better, right guy?


PORTMAN

Then it's settled. We meet at seven on your territory. By the way, I'm out of salad. If 'ya happen to have an extra head or two lyin' around…

 
TAYLOR

Nice meeting you Mr. Martini

 
PORTMAN

You into beach volleyball, Joey boy? Wait 'til you get a look at those players. Mama mia!


MARTINI

Do they carry volleyball on basic cable?

 

After switching on the television, PATTY brings over two drinks. TAYLOR lingers for an instant and then leaves

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3. Another day, another play

As the title of the blog indicates, another day...another play almost finished. In playwriting 'almost' is a tricky term since endings are usually hard to come by.

"So give us an update on your playwriting efforts in general these days, Eleanor."

As mentioned ad nauseum here, finished "Old Soldiers" and entered it in this year's edition of the BBC International Playwriting Competition. Now comes the really hard part in waiting to hear back one way or the other. Being in this mental and physical state of being means a slight case of nausea when opening my e-mail in anticipation of receiving "the" word. Suffice it to say that waiting is not half the fun.

I'm "that" close to finishing my latest project, "Neighbors", which is turning into a great two-act play. As my mom used to say, "close" is only good when playing horse shoes. It had its origins as a short play and over the years as is my habit, it has been tweaked to death and  sort-of atrophied in my filing (or none-filing) system. Recently, after reading it over for the zillionth time, I decided that it has the meat and bones (can a play have meat and bones one wonders...) for expansion. The story line, which is loosely based on facts, focuses on a row of shrubs that separate the back gardens of two neighbors, one of which believes that their placement encroaches on to his property. The end result is that it has caused a feud that has lingered and grown over the years. The dialogue is entertaining and the story is moving along to a natural conclusion, following which it will be put to bed for a while and re-read at a later date for changes. There are always changes in my world.

Interesting how the creative process works. As an artist in addition to being a writer, it seems that my best work is done at the cost of the other. To be more precise, when I'm in the midst of creating a new writing piece, my artistic output tapers off and vice-versa.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about but not yet in the writing mode of my next play focusing on a young girl's experiences growing up after moving into a new neighborhood.. Not sure whether it will be a one act or full play but then I never know how it will work until consulting with the characters. Meanwhile, my blank canvases are calling me.



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4. Barbie, Ken & the Rest in Plasticville: at the Olympics

THE CONTINUING STORY OF LIFE AMONG THE PLASTIC SET

SCENE: Barbie, Ken and G.I. Joe have arrived at the Olympics. They arrive at a high-end hotel and are joined by the Bratz', who have been invited as celebrity guests

YASMIN
Like...yeah Barbie. Like...where's your invitation, like

CLOE
I think that she doesn't have one

BARBIE
Like...you shouldn't think too much, CLOE. It's no good for your brain

JADE
Don't be bitter, Barbie. It's like...not your fault you're not popular

BARBIE
Come again? I've got mansions all over the world. I've got a huge reputation!

CLOE, YASMIN, JADE, SASHA (together)
So we hear. Like...are you still - um - dating - that Australian dude?

G.I. JOE
Hey! She gave him up when she started going with me. Hey Bratz! Wanna see my weapon? It's really strong and big! I'll even let you touch it if youze want. It's right here...

CLOE
Like...you are sooo disgusting. We're outta here!

(the Bratz storm off)

G.I. JOE
Who cares! They're big sissies anyway. Talking about sissies, what happened to Ken?

BARBIE
Like...who knows...who cares. He's always embarrasses me with his wardrobe. Like...I'm a star! I have to be surrounded with people who wear designer names

(a loud shout is heard accompanied by "surf's up!")

(cont'd.) OhGawd! Like...it's Ken. 

(KEN is wearing swimming trunks and slides up to BARBIE on a surf board through the hotel lobby)

KEN
Hi pretty lady! Have we met? My name is Ken!

BARBIE
Like...it's me, Ken. Barbie...your one and only? Remember?

KEN
Your face looks familiar... Oh my and who is this handsome dude? Do you have a name, soldier?

G.I. JOE
Ten-shun! Get down on your stomach and give me fifty!

KEN
We hardly know each other but if that's your little game...

BARBIE
Ken...Ken...Ken...you definitely have swallowed too much water and it's affected your brain. 

(BARBIE's cell phone rings)

'Hello? Who? I can hardly hear you...Blaine? Is it really you? You sound so far away... You're where?

(BARBIE looks across the hotel lobby and spots BLAINE, who runs across the lobby to greet her. They embrace)

BLAINE
Like...I figured you would be 'ere... I never stopped thinkin' 'bout you, darlin

BARBIE
I missed you, too!

KEN
And I missed you too, Blaine!
















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5. BARBIE, KEN AND THE REST IN PLASTICVILLE: at the Olympics

The continuing story about life among the plastic people

SCENE: BARBIE and her entourage, KEN and GI JOE, arrive at the Olympics. Ken is in charge of carrying suitcases

BARBIE
Like...bring me my cosmetic case, Ken. I have to beautify myself for the press. Stop dragging your feet!

KEN
(crawling on his knees)
I can't help it, beach babe. Your luggage is weighing me down

BARBIE
Oh plleeze! You're always making excuses to get out of work and stop calling me beach babe!

GI JOE
Yeah sissy boy! Real men don't talk like that. A hundred push-ups will take care of your shoulder problem, soldier. Down on your knees and start pumping

KEN
Did you have something special in mind for you and me?

BARBIE
Did I tell you to leave your stupid surf board back in Malibu, Ken?

KEN
No can do. Me and my board here are close buds. Where I go - he goes. Right, Shane?

(KEN caresses his surf board)

(Cont'd. Ken)
...mmmmmm.....

BARBIE
You gave your board a name? Like...that is so...like...really sick and lame

GI JOE
We should'a lost him at the airport, babe. What good is he if he can't even carry suitcases?

BARBIE
The world knows us as Barbie and Ken. We're always gonna be together even when we break up. Barbie and Ken...Barbie and Ken... 'Oh look - Barbie and Ken have a new fashion line.' I'm sick of it! I mean, of course, it's sickening how close we are

KEN
...I love you, Shane...

GI JOE
All you gottta do is give the word and Ken and his wooden friend will surf the waves forever, if you get my drift.

KEN
Somebody say surf's up?

(cups his hand behind his ear)

BARBIE
What are you doing, Ken?

KEN
Surf's up! I can smell it! Time to hang ten off the top!

BARBIE
Like...put your clothes back on. There are no waves here

KEN
Must be the smell of the salt water taffy that's confusing me

BARBIE
Or all that water that's gone to your brain. Oh no! What are they doing here?

(The BRATZ approach)

BARBIE
What are YOU pathetic pieces of plastic doing here?

YASMINE
We were invited.

JADE
Yeah...we have an official invitation.

(extends invitation to show BARBIE)

(cont'd) Where's yours, Barbie

BARBIE
Like...um...well... Oh look, Ken! Our taxi has arrived

KEN
(waxing his surfboard)
Just a sec - I gotta shine my board. Never know when I'm gonna need it...gotta be surfing-ready

JADE
You bought...him, along?

BARBIE
You know he's my one and only! Like...we're together forever!

GI JOE
Hey! What about me?

BARBIE
GI Joe here guards by body. It's insured for five million dollars, y'know

GI JOE
That's not all I do for her, right babe?

(unknown to BARBIE, reporters are standing behind the group, taking notes. They all get on their cell phones upon hearing GI JOE's statement)

REPORTER
I just got a big scoop right here at the Olympics games. Not new medals. GI Joe and Barbie are testing mattresses again.

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6. Hanging in there - playing around

At long last, "Old Soldiers" has left the building in a manner of speaking. After choosing an ending to this play that has been in the creative process for more than a year, I finally bid it a fond adieu, wished it well and submitted it to the BBC International Playwriting Competition.

As people reading this blog are aware, the play had its beginning as a short story that evolved into play based on the strength of its main character, Joe McKenna. There was something about Joe that begged to be explored further as described in a blurb taken from the synopsis:

"As an ex army man and soldier, 85-year old Joe McKenna is a man of habit. He is a widower whose only companionship is his 12-year old dog, Daisy. The aging process has taken its toll physically and emotionally, turning him into an embittered man full of resentment towards society and what he perceives to be life's injustices. He is a lonely soul with too much time to think about the past and knowing that the future will leave him dependent on the kindness of others."

As a play, Joe was joined by three ex-army buddies along with some other interesting characters that helped propel the story along. Having never written for radio, the big challenge was to incorporate sound effects. In any case, Joe's fate - and mine - are in the hands of the judges since the competition closed on January 31st.

Meanwhile, another play, "Retribution" is taking an interesting turn. Submitted it to the Sundog Theatre, "... a performing arts organization in Staten Island that provides entertainment for adults and children in the form of contemporary and original theatre." It was selected to be part of a play reading series - all being well - to take place in summer. The drama focuses on Sue Ellen Parker, a hairdresser, who exacts revenge for a horrific past crime committed against her in the past. Must have re-written this play at least a dozen times until it felt "right."

At present, I'm at the finishing stage of completing "Neighbors" a comedy, two-act play that had its beginning as a 10 minute play. The story line focuses on two neighbors and their long-standing feud over what one believes to be the erroneous placement of shrubs, which divide both their properties. Very enjoyable to write and with definite production potential. Will put it to sleep for a while and then re-read it and start the re-writing process. Amazing what time can do for one's perspective. I've completed plays that I thought couldn't be improved only to realize that the content was garbage, which in turn caused a complete re-write of the play(s).

As usual, will keep readers of this blog and/or others who drop by from time-to-time updated.

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7. "NEIGHBORS" - the play.

As is the case with many writers of all genres, there is a tendency to start projects that atrophy in cyber space over the years. Okay - clarification: this the case with this writer. I started out writing "Neighbors" as a short, cute-y play-ette a while back and decided that there was potential for a longer two-act version. The premise is, two fueding neighbors living next door to each other, is a common story line but somehow, the characters in this play seem to beg for further exploration. Who am I to refuse?

Here is a small taste of the play. As always, comments welcome. Please ignore the formatting.


NEIGHBORS
By Eleanor Tylbor


CAST OF CHARACTERS:


TAYLOR, JEFFREY, 45,
PORTMAN, ROBBIE, 47,
JENKINS, 50, next door neighbor on other side
PATTY, 40-ish, bartender
MARTINI, 60, land surveyor and friend of PORTMAN

THE TIME

The present, mid-summer


SETTING: Back garden(s) of two neighbors. A picket fence separates their properties

AT RISEMorning. Hot summer's day.

SOUND FX: Lawnmowers

ROBBIE (ROB) PORTMAN lazes in a hammock reading a book while holding a glass of liquid in the other hand. Dressed in cut-off jeans and a grungy tee shirt, his hair is long and unkempt and he sports a heavy beard

Dressed in a short-sleeved dress shirt and pants, JEFFRY TAYLOR, his next door neighbor, is the antithesis of PORTMAN and a perfectionist. TAYLOR tends to his garden stopping periodically to study PORTMAN and finally makes his way over to the fence.


TAYLOR

(wiping forehead)

Must be a hundred degrees in the shade today. I’d be indoors right now if my tomatoes didn’t need pampering. That’s the real secret of growing big veggies, y’know. Give ‘em extra ‘TLC’… Hello? Hope I'm not disturbing you or anything

PORTMAN


           Takes gulp of liquid from glass

Must be them darn chipmunks makin’ a racket again' Gettin’ so’s a person can't read in peace anymore

TAYLOR

How long have you been laying there?

PORTMAN

What time did the sun rise, today?

TAYLOR

Another one of your liquid breakfasts, I suppose?

PORTMAN

For your information it’s orange juice

TAYLOR

And? You expect me to believe that? Orangesaren’t the only thing in your juice to give you – in your vernacular – a buzz

PORTMAN

Go suck a lemon. Wait – you don’t need to. You’re sour enough

TAYLOR

Touchy, aren’t we?

PORTMAN

Sour is as sour does

TAYLOR

You know what I’m getting at…

PORTMAN

Okay – say it. You’re just dying to. Then go away

TAYLOR

It’s not like I haven’t expressed my feelings a thousand times before

PORTMAN

How does what I do affect your life?


TAYLOR
Cheez Portman, it's only gone ten in the morning! You’re well on your way to turning into an alcoholic. Did I say turning into? You are!

PORTMAN
Been there - heard it all before so don’t waste your breath. Go tend to your carrots or something. They need the Taylor touch

TAYLOR
Don’t ask me why but I care ‘bout you. Maybe something to do with the fact we've been neighbors going on twenty years and I don't wanna see you end up with cirrhosis of the liver - or worse

PORTMAN
Since when do you give a crap about whether I live or die?

TAYLOR
Better a neighbor you know than one you don’t. Don’t feel like breaking in a new neighbor at this stage of my life

PORTMAN
Don’chu worry ‘bout me moving away. I intend to be here for a long, long time. It's too much fun bugging the shit out’ta you

TAYLOR
Do you see the incongruity in your chosen profession?

PORTMAN
Maybe I would if I could understand the question. Give me advance warning when you’re gonna give me another of your dumb lectures and I’ll make sure to have a dictionary handy

TAYLOR
Owning a bar must be the best thing that ever happened to you with your thirst

PORTMAN
It’s a living and I like the people who drop by. You know – regular people. Something you wouldn’t know anything about



TAYLOR
Denial – a sign of an alcoholic. Can’t you see the writing on the wall?

PORTMAN
You talking 'bout that "keep of the grass” sign you got posted all over your property? It's the joke of the neighborhood, y'know

           Drains glass and checks watch

Gotta leave. Patty's opening for me today

TAYLOR
Another one of those Hooter waitresses?

PORTMAN
As if someone the likes of you would notice. You’re more into cucumbers, if you get my drift and for your information – not that I owe you anything - Patty is the right hand to my left

TAYLOR
I bet she is just that and more

PORTMAN
What d'you know about sex?

TAYLOR
Spare me your drunken rants

PORTMAN
Take a look at yourself and your life. Work your butt off for a multi-national all those years and what's it got you? A dinky house and a veggie garden. How do you stand the excitement of it all?

TAYLOR
Save me from the melancholy drunk offering his view of life in a brief second of clarity. In all the years we've lived next door to each other, the only position I've seen youis lying on your back, with your lips glued to the rim of a beer bottle. How long has it been, anyway, since you held down any type of job if ever?

PORTMAN
What's it your business?

TAYLOR
I figure you must be in your mid-forties or thereabouts?

PORTMAN
Never found a position to suit my qualifications

TAYLOR
Must be near impossible to find a company that's looking for a hammock tester. How you've managed to survive on next to nothing is nothing short of a miracle, but then I would imagine your needs are few and far between. A bottle opener, a case of beer and you're all set

PORTMAN
Don't need big money to impress people like you do. I'm a simple guy with simple tastes

TAYLOR
And a raging one for booze. How many bottles d'ya drink of that poison a day? A dozen? More?

PORTMAN
Who counts?

TAYLOR
You sure as hell don't. Just bugs me to see you frittering your life away, doing nothing productive

PORTMAN
So don't look man! Turn your head the other way and mind your own business for a change and not mine! Your tomatoes are calling you

TAYLOR
All I can say is that I wouldn't waste mine lying on my back

PORTMAN
Did somebody ask you to? It beats having to listen to you foam at the mouth about the evils of drink

TAYLOR

A person has'ta leave his mark on this world! He's gotta be able to tell his children and grandchildren: I-was-here!

My niece and nephew will know all about me, alright, ‘cause I’m leaving them something to remember me by.  When I pass on, this here house'l go to them, along with those be-u-tee-ful shrubs. Course I'll make sure to have that all included in my will

TAYLOR
By the time they inherit your house if you still own it, those shrubs'l be long gone, I can promise you that

PORTMAN
Might even build a de-lux-y tree house for them this summer so's their grandkids can learn all about nature, up close and personal-like

TAYLOR
Wouldn't count on that, if I was you…

PORTMAN
…maybe hang some tire swings from the branches…

TAYLOR
Over my dead body!

PORTMAN
I can arrange that. Anyway, you don't have any say what I do with them shrubs, anyway

TAYLOR
Maybe not right now but don't count on their presence much longer. We been neighbors for how long, now?

PORTMAN
Too long for my liking

TAYLOR
Must be fifteen years at least – maybe twenty?

PORTMAN
Praise be! You're thinking of moving at last. I know some guys who'll move you real cheap. 'Course you may never see your furniture again…

TAYLOR
How come the topic of conversation between us always ends up about your so-called shrubs growing on my property? Ten 


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8. Reviewing the past to look to the future

It's nearing the end of the year and I'm feeling introspective. Usually, this is also the time when that "so what did you accomplish this year, Eleanor?" question starts slowly creeping into my psyche, goals yet to reach.

- theatres who were the lucky recipients of my plays still haven't discovered that my plays would be the perfect vehicle to attract new theatre patrons
Really, and at least in my humble opinion, my usage of words and story lines are good and I should know, seeing that most likely those plays were hibernating on/in my word file for years before they saw the light of day. It's merely a matter of time before somebody discovers that they are a perfect fit for their needs

- in spite of good intentions, still haven't submitted my one and only screenplay, "Skate!" written years ago. 
This children's script is languishing in never-never-land because most likely it requires yet another re-write. The story is based on a childhood experience and thinking back, I wrote it with the help of Syd Field's how-to-write-a-screenplay step-by-step. As a member of a writing forum at the time, I threw caution to the wind and shared a scene or two with other screenwriters for feedback. Reaction was mixed with advice that included not bad for a first shot, amateur effort, interesting story line and go back to the beginning, try again with a re-write, which I did. While going through a box of papers containing writing-related material produced over the years, I came across a manilla envelope, flap enclosed, with the word, "Skate" written across the front. Staring at it for a few minutes, I debated as to whether I should open the envelope flap and go through it .This most likely would result in angst-ing over what is written and what should have/could have been written. Amazing what perspective will do for a story.

- two of my still-in-progress start-up plays are making more-or-less steady if slow progress. 
Why is it that some plays almost write themselves and in others, there are barriers that suddenly arise? Some characters endear themselves to me and make the task easier while others are difficult to get to know.
If you want to see where you've come from and where you are now, browse through old writing projects, especially plays. In addition to hard copies, my Word file is filled with various versions and updates of plays. The problem is that many of them are identified merely by numbers, for example: "blah-blah, #1" or "blah-blah #2" and so on. It's those old insecurities that creep up causing me to question as to whether version one and subsequent re-written versions should be deleted in case they are superior to the latest updated version. I mean, version six could contain gems that could be used in version seven and so on. A while back and upon the realization that I submitted the incorrect version of a play to a theatre, I sent a follow up email apologizing for the mistake and re-sent the right version. Some things can't be undone and sending the wrong version is one of them. That has to be the only reason for the rejection.

What is progress, anyway, and how do you measure or quantify it? Finishing a play, for me, makes the effort a worthwhile endeavor. The big challenge being the production hasn't happened - as yet - note the words 'as yet' - but as I always tell myself, hope springs eternal. Is there anything else?

Yours forever in playwriting,

Eleanor



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9. Playwrightville - the place where playwrights think about their plays

"A playwright lives in an occupied country. And if you can't live that way, you don't stay. (Arthur Miller)

SCENE: PLAYWRIGHT ELEANOR is sitting at the computer, reading over her plays and contemplating making changes and revisions to one or two...or more.

AT RISE: Various characters from Eleanor's plays, start to feel threatened and express their feelings



If I write a new play, my point of view may be profoundly modified. I may be obliged to contradict myself and I may no longer know whether I still think what I think.
EUGENE IONESCO, Notes and Counter Notes

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/p/playwriting_quotes.html#edPKy2F7EeZ0kBOA.99
PLAYWRIGHT
There definitely has to be some changes to dialogue...

(upon hearing this, one of the characters from "THE LEMON" feels a growing sense of panic)

PENNY FLOWERS
Oh no you don't! Finally, after years of waiting, you provided an ending to my car problem.

PLAYWRIGHT
True but somehow, the ending doesn't seem to be strong enough. Refresh my memory, again?

PENNY FLOWERS
My car, a.k.a. "The Lemon", a car  used by many people over many years, was stuck in an intersection without any means in which to move it. Remember?

PLAYWRIGHT
Yup - recall it well. True you had to wait but I finally did give you a decent ending

PENNY FLOWERS
There! So you acknowledge that it's finished!

PLAYWRIGHT
Finished as in, for now, but not necessarily forever. We live for change, my dear

PENNY
Don't have much choice, do I, but if you really feel it will enhance my personality...but please don't demean my character. You sometimes have a habit of doing that

PLAYWRIGHT
I'll keep that in mind

(MAURICE, a minor character from the play, "A WEDDING" chimes in his two-cents-worth)

MAURICE
Excuse me... Hello? Playwright - as you will recall or maybe not - you couldn't make up your mind what type of background I should have. In the end, you didn't endow me with any special qualities other than my social breeding mixing with the upper class rich

PLAYWRIGHT
With all due respect, Maurice, you are a minor character in a major play

MAURICE
Minor in your eyes but not in the eyes of the two families organizing the wedding. They couldn't do without my help in choosing the right invitation. I do have impeccable taste

PLAYWRIGHT
True - in the end you did provide some comic relief

MAURICE
I resent that! I play a very important role. Perhaps a few more lines would be nice?

(Word gets out to JOE MCKENNA, the main character in the play, "OLD SOLDIERS" that Eleanor is thinking change...again)

JOE MCKENNA
What's this I hear that you wanna do some re-writes? No way, Jose!

PLAYWRIGHT
But Joe - it took me three years and numerous re-writes to get you where you are today. Sometimes...many times it takes a lot of re-writes to get it right. Didn't I finally submit the play to the BBC International Playwriting Competition? Perhaps you all will get the chance to tell your story

JOE MCKENNA
The guys want me to tell you that if you change one more word, they're walking! They really mean it!

PLAYWRIGHT
This isn't anything new to me since I've had them walking in many directions over time

JOE MCKENNA
I'm outta here. The guys are meeting back at the bar. Just remember you were warned! Not one word changed or else!

BECKY MALONE
The soldiers are complaining? We started out at a senior's center and moved around so many times, I'm still dizzy.

PLAYWRIGHT
Of all the plays, you people are my favorite characters

JOE MCKENNA
Hey! I thought I was

PLAYWRIGHT
Actually...when it's all said and done, you all are my favorites

(SARAH, a lively and somewhat ditzy character from "Gin..." steps forward to make herself heard and is joined by BECKY, another of the card-playing ladies)

SARAH
So...like...why do you wanna change us? You're not going to write out my goldfish, are you? Goldie would be very hurt even though she didn't have any lines

BECKY MALONE
Sarah...Sarah...Sarah...you and your goldfish friend have exactly the same thought process

SARAH
Thank you. Goldie would be pleased to hear that

PLAYWRIGHT
Just so you know, people, it's not easy to get the right words that will move the story along AND make sense at the same time. Then I have to worry about rejection when I finally decide to submit a play, not to mention the never ending question of the reason behind the rejection. Was it the story itself? Or maybe the ending or perhaps too many or too few characters? It's always those nagging whys. Okay people! This playwright gets your point! No more changes!

PENNY
Can we have that in writing?

PLAYWRIGHT
(keying in words)
'I, playwright, do declare that I won't make any changes to my plays, today'

BECKY
Wait a minute! Just today? What about tomorrow and next month?

PLAYWRIGHT
Beggars can't be choosers. A playwright's gotta do what a playwright has'ta do beside change is the key to a better future for you all

ALL THE CHARACTERS TOGETHER
Been there, heard that


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10. SANTA SLIMS DOWN: A STORY OF REBELLION AND COMPROMISE

By Eleanor Tylbor

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

 - SANTA CLAUS – the jolly, old elf himself
- MRS. CLAUS – Santa's faithful wife
- RUDOLPH AND THE REINDEER GANG

 
SCENE: SANTA'S WORKSHOP, TWO WEEKS BEFORE "THE" TRIP. SANTA IS CHECKING OVER HIS TOYS. A KNOCK ON THE DOOR  REVEALS REINDEER RUDOLPH, ACCOMPANIED BY DONNER AND BLITZEN BARGE WHO BARGE IN

 AT RISE: A MUCH MORE PLUMP THAN USUAL SANTA IS SITTING AT A TABLE, SNACKING ON COOKIES

 
SANTA
This is an expected surprise, boys. To what do I owe this visit?

 RUDOLPH
(moving antlers from side-to-side defiantly)
We're here to give you a message, Santa

 RUDOLPH
It’s about food

 SANTA
(eating one cookie after the other)
You want one of these cookies? Why didn’t you say so? Plenty enough to go ‘round

 RUDOLPH
Santa, there's something we reallygotta tell you…

DONNER
- it's real important-like…

 BLITZEN
- major important

 RUDOLPH

(Turns around to talk to DONNER and BLITZEN)

 Is there an echo, here? Did you not make me, Rudolph, the spokes-deer? Maybe one of youse wants’ta take over?

 DONNER
You do a great job, Rudy. Super

 BLITZEN
You our main reindeer man!

 RUDOLPH
I mean, if one of youseguys can say it better…

 DONNER
No-no! You’re the best

 RUDOLPH
So lemme do the job! Shaking sleigh bells – everyone wants'ta be a star! Now where was I? Y’see Santa, we're worried!

 DONNER AND BLITZEN
Real worried! Uh-huh…

RUDOLPH
(whirling around)
Hello? D'ya mind?

                         SANTA, distracted, nibbles on a cookie while watching a train run around the
                         track

SANTA
Oh my-oh-my! I do love watching the train speed around the track. Um - what’s that? Worried? About what, boys? Now just look at this train go! The elves finished it this very morning

 RUDOLPH
How can I say this nicely…

 DONNER AND BLITZEN
Just tell him! You gotta!

RUDOLPH
(whirling around)
One more word from either of youse…

 DONNER/BLITZEN
Sor-ree! We're just trying to help…

 RUDOLPH
Well don't! You elected me head of the North Pole Reindeer Union so lemme do the job!

SANTA
What’s this all about, boys? Could someone tell me?

 RUDOLPH
I'm tryin' Santa, I'm really tryin’ if only these two big mouths would let me

BLITZEN
We promise we won't say another word, See? We’re zipping our mouths closed

 DONNER
Maybe one word - two at the most. Sorry…

RUDOLPH
It's about your - um - well… Your shape

 SANTA
(laughing)
My shape? I’m Santa! This is the way I've always looked

 RUDOLPH
It's…  well - veryround

 SANTA
(laughing)
This is not news, Rudolph. Now if you'll excuse me…I’m very busy here…

 RUDOLPH
Much more than usual, Santa. Much… much… more

 SANTA
I’ve always looked like this. You know that! Everyone expects me to look like this

 RUDOLPH
It hurts me to hav'ta tell you this but as the official spokes-deer and according to the rules in the signed hoof agreement, paragraph three, section 9, I’m here to say that unless you lose weight, we ain't leaving the Pole

 DONNER
He's right. We can't pull a sleigh filled with toys AND you too

 SANTA
But-but…I look the same as I’ve always looked. What’s different?

                        Santa rushes over to a mirror and examines himself

 Maybe I did put on a few extra pounds here and there…and there… But you can't expect me to lose weight in such a short time. Christmas Eve is a week away

 RUDOLPH
D’ya know how hard it is to fly through the air, dragin' a full sleigh of toys and and a Santa who likes his cookies too much?

 OTHER REINDEER (PEERING IN AT WINDOW)
Hard..hard..Very hard

 DONNER
It’s a big pain in the back for sure!

 RUDOLPH
Did I ask for more opinions. Did I?

                         The reindeer dart away from the window

 Like I was sayin’… You gotta do something 'bout it, boss, or we're stayin' Pole-side this Christmas!

 SANTA
You - you can't do that! What will happen to all the children waiting for their gifts on Christmas Eve?

 RUDOLPH
Lissen boss, we gotta ‘tink of our health, too. Do I gotta remind you ‘bout last year and all the trouble gettin' the sleigh off the ground?  We seen you hittin' the hot chocolate and cookies in the middle of the night when Mother Claus was asleep! One week Santa. You got one week. You can do it

           Santa stands in shock as the three reindeer file out shaking their heads

 SANTA
(calling out)
Mother Claus! We have a major problem!

           MRS. CLAUS comes running in to the room

From now on they'll be no more hot chocolate or cookies for me!

 MRS. CLAUS
Did you say something about cookies, dear? I have a new batch ready for eating

 SANTA
The reindeer just told me I'm too heavy for them to pull. Imagine! Me, Santa, too heavy for my sleigh!

 MRS. CLAUS
But dear, Santa Claus is supposed to be…you know - large-ish

 SANTA
I just had a visit from three and they told me none of them will fly unless I get lighter

 MRS. CLAUS
But…it's only two weeks to Christmas Eve. Do you think it’s possible?

 SANTA
I have to! The children are depending on my visit

MRS. CLAUS
No more cookies, then. I'll just throw out the ones I just made…

 SANTA
Maybe we're too hasty - a few cookies can't hurt

 MRS. CLAUS
Now Santa – you have a responsibility to all the children around the world. Do you want to let them down?

SANTA
I'm just going outside to check on things

 MRS. CLAUS
What are you hiding behind your back, Santa? Come on – hand them over

                         SANTA hands over a handful of cookies

 Every time you get the urge for a cookie, think about the children!

SANTA
You're right, Mother. Do we still have that exer-cycle the reindeer gave me as a gift, last year?

 MRS. CLAUS
Of course! It's in the reindeer barn. The elves have been using it

 SANTA
Get the elves to bring it here right away. There's no time like the present to start and only a week to go…I hope I can do it…I have to do it!

 
                                                                 SCENE TWO

 SCENE:         SANTA IS EXERCISWING ON HIS EXER-CYCLE IN RED LONG-JOHNS 

 
SANTA
Whew! This isn't easy. Mother - bring me the scale!

 

                         MRS. CLAUS brings over a scale

 MRS. CLAUS
Oh dear. I do hope you've lost some weight!

                         SANTA gets on the scale attempting to see the weight but
                         can't see over his belly

 SANTA
So? What does it say?

 MRS. CLAUS
You've lost one pound, dear. Have you been doing some secret snacking?

SANTA
No… Really… Maybe one or two once in a while

                         RUDOLPH, DONNER AND BLITZEN ENTER

 RUDOLPH
We heard. Only one pound, Santa? One gift weighs more than that. Guess the boys and girls won't be receiving their gifts this year, right guys?

 DONNER AND BLITZEN
Still not enough.. Still not enough..

                         The reindeer exit, shaking their heads

 SANTA
What am I to do now? Just four more days… Maybe if I eat a cookie, I'll feel better..

 MRS. CLAUS
This is how you got to be this way in the first place! Now back on the exer-cycle, dear!

 
                                                            SCENE THREE

 SCENE:  THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS. A VISIBLY MORE SHAPELY SANTA CALLS IN THE REINDEER

 SANTA
So boys? Whad’ya think? Will it do?

 RUDOLPH
You do look less round. Whad'ya think boys?

BLITZEN
He looks leaner…I'll fly

 SANTA
I lost six whole pounds!

DONNER
I'm ready to go. There's something we forgot to tell you. There are a few things we'd like to have in the future – you know - to prepare us for the long trip?

 SANTA
Like what, boys?

 DONNER
We'd like a fancy meal before we leave. Grass and forest greens don't do it for us

 SANTA
I’m in favor of good healthy food and I myself lost my extra pounds eating lots of greens. What did you have in mind?

 BLITZEN
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11. Upon writing plays

After finally letting go of "Retribution" and "Old Soldiers" to share with the world - one hopes - it's time to think about developing new plays. Even writing the words, "new plays" gives me an unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing that merely developing the basic structure of a new play and getting into the brain of new characters takes time. Be that as it may, toying with the idea of creating a play based on my childhood characters. These are people encountered along the way of growing up that remain vivid in my memory, who left a lasting impact on my life in some way. The first step is to decide the direction the story line will take and how to tell the story. Will share progress as things develop.

In other areas, I'm also looking for potential fits for my two full plays. It's been a while since I've focused on finding the right theatre that sees merit in them. Both are comedies but with dramatic overtones as is my "thing." Spent a lot of time this weekend checking out theatre sites to assess which would or could be interested.

There's progress in other areas having at least submitted my short i.e. less than 20 minute, plays to various short play festivals. Haven't heard back one way or the other, which is always unsettling for me. I'm really focusing on having patience and letting things take their natural course. It's always that "just tell me one way or the other!" feeling that impels me to send off something to the effect:

Dear blah-blah,

Sent you my play, blah-blah, a few days/week/months ago. Not sure if you received it since my e-mail system sometimes, somehow, someway, occasionally loses e-mail messages in transit. In this regard, did you receive it? If so, when do you anticipate reading it? Really - it's good. I'm sure audiences will love the story and it only took one/two/three...more years to write.

So if you could check through your files and get back to me, I'd be most appreciative. If not - I can wait.

Meanwhile, there are a number of un-finished and/or un-developed plays that have been languishing in never-never-land, waiting to be developed. Everyone deserves a second /third/fourth...chance to be born, even plays.

Update: Just received an e-mail notification that my 10-minute play-ette to the Snowdance 10-minute Comedy Festival was rejected (again) and didn't make the grade, obviously. Actually, perhaps in retrospect, the writing was on the proverbial wall since they specified that entries be mailed in. In order to cutback on mailing expenses, I e-mailed the contact person and asked if they also accepted entries by e-mail, and he indicated I should send it anyway, which I did. I mean, there can be no other reason why it was rejected being that it was well-written, funny-bordering-on-hilarious and other similar adjectives that adequately describe my entry.

The official refusal read (in part): "I'm sorry to inform you that your entry was not one of the 9 chosen for production. Please accept my sincere appreciation for your time and effort. With so much good material to choose from no entry should feel disappointment or rejection - I wish we had the ability to produce them all." Uh-huh...yup... Oh well...we go on... Read the rest of this post

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12. Playwright's update: a conversation with the playwright

The playwright, daring to feel somewhat upbeat and hopeful, shares her playwriting progress.

"So Eleanor - what's the latest on your playwriting projects and more specifically, you-know-who?"

Very pleased to be able to report that Joe and the gang are no longer in limbo. They have paid their bar bill and have returned to leading more normal and completed lives. Having gone through so many changes over the years, they are questioning what to do.

"I've completed my mission but feel something is missing," Joe told the guys during a get-together at their favorite watering hole, to discuss the experience.

"She took us in so many directions that I was getting dizzy," Mac added, finishing his beer and allowing a loud burp to escape. "Now why did I do that? My inner motivation is missing and now I'm forced to make decisions on my own."

"That is like...so disgusting," Mike said. "You would never do that in the past."

"Only if I was directed to do so. Life has become more complicated these days."

The only remaining task before hitting the "submit" button is to number the pages. Converting "Old Soldiers" from a short story into a radio play, a completely alien medium for me, has been a challenge to say the least. It meant having to lengthen the story and give each of the characters their own personalities. There were a number of re-writes and endings but it's over. Hopefully.

"What about your other projects?"

Progress in this area also having submitted "Retribution" to a theatre and now comes the inevitable wait to hear back one way or the other. I'm also checking into theatres for a good fit for my two two-act plays, which have been languishing in limbo for a while, now. I'm also toying with and thinking about (a good start) writing a play based on childhood experiences and characters. We'll have to see which direction to take and where the focus should be.

Arthur Miller shared at some point, "A playwright lives in an occupied country and if you can't live that way, you don't stay."

Joe McKenna and all my other characters waiting for show time would agree.

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13. The Old Soldiers encounter yet another problem. Joe would not be happy

People who drop by this blog are aware of the problems encountered with writing and more importantly, completing the "Old Soldiers" play. In the way of a quick backgrounder, the play had its origin as a short fiction piece - one of my all-time favorites - that I decided to try and convert into a radio play for submission to the BBC International Radio Competition. Thing is, I've never written a play specifically for radio, which is a challenge in itself.

Did regular check-ins on the BBC competition site for information and updates, hints, etc. but somehow omitted reading the section covering how to lay out a play for radio.

Big omission.

Up until this point, I've been using a playwriting format and adding regular '"SFX" or sound effects where and when necessary. So I'm up to the 43 pages point, nearing the end and during one of my regular check-ins discover to my angst that it ain't gonna work. If I would have checked still further (hind-sight is so easy), there is a section devoted to laying out a play for radio, which I for whatever reason overlooked. As I neared the end, there was this gut feeling something was missing or awry. According to the "how-to" section, there are definite guide-lines including line spacing, etc. to which one must adhere. Going by the BBC requirements, my unfinished play as it now stands would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-odd pages. The finished product can't be more than 54 pages.

 The reality that my version didn't meet their i.e. BBC strict guidelines was followed by a quick R&R - rant&rave - around the house yelling, "Noooooo" accompanied by "why me?" and the inevitable, "Joe and the boys will never get their story told."

"That's it!" I told myself along with "I've had it!" resulting in walking away from the computer for a few hours.

"So where are you at now, Eleanor?" you're probably asking yourself.

After reflecting on the turn of events and the time invested in working on the project - we're talking years here - I decided to once again (how many more times one asks oneself) attempt to re-write the play with the given guidelines. It will require eliminating some scenes and adjusting the story line, which I've already started to do. The problem is that some of the new scenes that will have to go are really relevant and are dialogue rich. Oh well. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Sorry Joe and the guys. You're gonna have to wait a bit longer.

MONDAY MORNING UPDATE:

Good news! It appears that after re-formatting the layout of the play as per the BBC requirements, it appears that everything just may fit perfectly. However, there are some modifications that will have to be made to the story line for flow purposes. It all depends on whether or not the ending will fit in with the current trend of the story line. The good thing is that there is still time to make the changes.

Will update here as we near the end...one hopes.



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14. The 'Old Soldiers' are in the final phase and saying their last goodbyes

Well it's about time, Joe McKenna and his soldier friends would comment, upon learning that the story is  winding down - or up depending on the way one views it. There's still plenty of time left before the BBC International Playwriting Competition deadline but given my propensity for procrastinating, I've been focusing my efforts on streamlining the dialogue and working on the plot line.

One of my concerns, other than sound effects, is using radio format but thanks to Google, found a site that supplied an example of how a radio script should be written. The script, as it is now, is written as a play but according to the site, there will have to be some changes.

Reading the lines over silently to myself, it seems to flow well but the story line may have to be lengthened to accommodate the radio format, which shortens the page count. Doesn't really change things since the ending will be that much more dramatic. Before submitting it, I'll actually read it out loud and time it.

The play content is a mix of drama mixed with humor to break up the tension. The quartet of Vets have been there, seen that and are at the point in their lives where they accept death as the final battle and the end to their painful physical decline. They cling to each other for moral support, commiserating life's 'downs' and celebrating their 'highs.'

In fact, somebody overheard the guys getting ready to say their final goodbyes at the local bar.

JOE
Well - it's almost over. Won't be long, now

MIKE
What's almost over? What are you babbling on about?

JOE
She's nearing the end

MAC
You mean -

JOE
- Yup

AL
Who told you?

JOE
If anybody knows what's going on, it's me. Take my word for it

MAC
She's been nearing the end how many times now?

JOE
This time it's serious. We better drink up, make our final toasts and get ready to say our goodbyes

AL
What's going to happen to us after "The End"?

JOE
With luck and some positive action taken on her part, we'll become famous and become household
names in the theatre world

MIKE
Hey! That ain't so bad!

JOE
Let's celebrate in honor of the final scene. Mike - didn't you say you were buying? 'Bartender - a round for me and my best friends, here'

JOE, MIKE, AL, MAC (together)
(holding up their glasses)
To the final scene!

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15. A playette and short version of "Neighbors" - in honor of National Good Neighbors Day

Some calendars note that today being September 28th, has been put aside to celebrate National Good Neighbors Day. The origin of this  not-so-well-known holiday (I wasn't aware of its existence) dates back to the early 1970's, when one Mrs. Becky Mattson from Lakeside, Montana, recognized the importance of good neighbors, and started the effort to make this a National day. Assisted by congressman Mike Mansfield, she succeed in getting three presidents (Nixon, Ford, and Carter)  to issue proclamations, along with numerous governors. In 2003, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution, sponsored by Montana.

To mark this interesting holiday, I'm sharing the short/playette version of my play, "Neighbors" It's based on the real life feud between two neighbors that lived next door to each other down the street from where we lived, over the placement of shrubs on what both believed to be on their property. Never did find out the end result but their verbal updates inspired the play.


NEIGHBORS

By Eleanor Tylbor


CAST OF CHARACTERS

 

John Taylor, 35,     Perfectionist and fussy next door neighbor of PORTMAN

Robbie Portman, 37,  Easy-going neighbor of TAYLOR

 
THE TIME

Mid-summer. Morning

THE PLACE
Back garden
 
 
TAYLOR digs in his vegetable patch clad in dress slacks, a short sleeved dress shirt and tie

PORTMAN wearing creased shorts and t-shirt, relaxes in a hammock, beer bottle in hand

SOUND: LAWNMOWER

TAYLOR

              Wipes sweat with handkerchief, leans on
              rake while talking to TAYLOR, pausing for
              a reaction after every statement

Too hot for digging, today. Must be a hundred degrees in the shade for sure. 'Course some people don’t care ‘bout how their lawn looks… Take you for example – somebody – anybody - please?
 
PORTMAN

Is that neighbor Taylor tryin’ to be a comedian? Neh! More likely a squirrel in heat

TAYLOR

Does the thought ever cross your mind to do something useful like - work, perhaps?

PORTMAN

               PORTMAN holds beer bottle up to the light
               and bends down to pick up another

My bottle is empty and I gotta bend down and get me another in this heat, but somebody's gotta do it. Might as well be me

TAYLOR

You have to be the laziest person in the whole neighborhood AND an alcoholic to boot. I won’t even talk about your lawn...

PORTMAN

…so don’t…

TAYLOR
…not to mention the dilapidated exterior of your house is the worst eyesore on the block

PORTMAN

Like it? It’s a new look I’m trying out. I call it lawnmower-free-expressive

TAYLOR

Condemned-modern more likely. When you gonna do something useful for a change?

PORTMAN

But I did. I reached down for a beer

TAYLOR

You are aware that your property is lowering the value of mine and everyone else. Some of us take pleasure in having a decent looking garden -

PORTMAN

- and some of us couldn’t give a damn. Looks just fine t’me

 TAYLOR

When you gonna join the real world and become a contributing member of society?
 
PORTMAN
(ignoring TAYLOR)

Always with questions and more questions. Hey – I get it! You’re practicin' for a quiz show. Right? ‘Potent potables for a thousand.’ Don’t mind if I do

               PORTMAN takes a sip of beer

‘Down the hatch and over the tongue – look out stomach  – down it comes!’ Here’s mud in both your eyes

 TAYLOR

Guess now's a good time as any. About those shrubs of yours…

 PORTMAN

Take a hike - preferably in the middle of the street in oncoming traffic

TAYLOR

I know I've warned you about them in the past but this time I really mean it. They could – like - mysteriously burn down one night. Know what I mean? Fires start so easily in dry hot weather

PORTMAN

They ain’t botherin’ me none but you do!

TAYLOR

They’re blocking the sunlight from shining on my side of the garden and my tomato crop needs sun to ripen them

PORTMAN

You're bugging me. Make like a bee and buzz off

TAYLOR

You must be blind not to see they’re a good two feet on my side of the fence. Here - lemme show you the city plan so you can see once and for all that I know what I’m talking about
 
PORTMAN

No need to! You probably paid off someone at City Hall to measure in your favor. Now where’d I put those ear plugs to block out the sound of your nagging…

TAYLOR

See, thing is, I got plans for those extra couple of feet you stole

PORTMAN

Gimme a break! Wait! I get it now! You wanna make a par-3 golf course and charge people t’get in. Get lost. I’m trying to read this book

TAYLOR

And what are we reading these days? The latest in the “See Spot Run” series? Listen you lazy son-of-a-bitch -

PORTMAN

Omyheavens! Such bad words! Your wifey is gonna hav'ta wash your mouth out with soap

TAYLOR

Cut them down by tomorrow, Portman, or I’m gonna take things into my own hands if you get my drift

PORTMAN

In your dreams, veggie boy! I got better things to do with my time than dig up ten foot shrubs

TAYLOR

While I have your attention span, which lasts about as long as a flea hunting for dog's fur, the branches of your rotten apple tree are hanging over on my side of the fence, again

PORTMAN

Don’t stop you from pickin’ up all them apples that happen t'land in your yard

TAYLOR

Why would I want them since they’re full of worm holes, like your brain. Obviously, threats don’t work so I guess I'll have to go hire me a lawyer and take you to court. We’ll let a judge decide who owns what

PORTMAN

Got a particular liar – um – lawyer in mind? Try Mitch Cassidy. I hear he specializes in lost causes

TAYLOR

That’s right, man. Make jokes and drink away your problems. Your brain is so fermented, you don't realize the ramifications of legal action
 
PORTMAN

I'm so scared! Can't you tell how scared I am? All that hot air comin’ from your side of the fence has given me a ragin’ thirst. To my health!

TAYLOR

If you’d simply have checked your house plans before you moved in, all of this antagonism between us could have been avoided and we wouldn't have to waste time being at each others throats

PORTMAN

The plan would’a told me what I already know is true. The bushes are on my side! Go stroke your cucumbers or somethin'

 TAYLOR

I need to cut my grass but I can’t because you never returned my lawnmower you borrowed a month ago!

PORTMAN

You could always use a cow. Wait a minute! You’re married to one!

TAYLOR

Shut your – your - filthy mouth! You’re treading on dangerous ground, now, so be very careful what you say next
 
PORTMAN

'Oh Mommy – save me!’ What a joke you are, man!

TAYLOR

Fine. If that's the way you want it. I’m finished with the threats. You can expect a registered letter in the mail from my lawyer

PORTMAN

You sendin’ me a love letter? Always had my doubts ‘bout you if you get my drift. Now I know why there’s so many of them there panty hose hangin’ on your line

TAYLOR

Why your wife hasn’t left you is beyond me but like they say, love is blind. How is the lovely Harriet anyway? Still working? Thank goodness, since someone has to pay the mortgage payments

PORTMAN

That new car o’yours fixed yet? Too bad your Julie ran it into the garage door. Got a problem with her reverse and drive but it’s understandable being married to you and all

TAYLOR

At least we have a car that runs unlike that bundle of rust that’s been rotting in the driveway for who-knows-how-long. Then again it matches the rest of your house

PORTMAN

Don’t bother me none

TAYLOR

I’m feeling ambitious today. Just might go rent me one of those big tree cutters and do the job myself

 
PORTMAN

Over my dead body you will!

TAYLOR

That can easily be arranged. Just stick your head through the shrubs while I’m cutting. That way you can save money on a hair cut

PORTMAN

Keep your slimy hands off’a my shrubs or…

TAYLOR

…or you’ll what? Stop me? You’re so out of shape you can’t lift one leg over the fence

PORTMAN           

               PORTMAN jumps up, runs to the fence and
               grabs TAYLOR’s shirt through the fence slats 

Wanna see what these hands can do? They can squeeze your throat ‘til you turn blue

TAYLOR

Let go my shirt! If you tear it…

PORTMAN

…you’ll go cry to Julie how the bad man next door ripped it?

               PORTMAN releases his hold

Forget it. You’re not worth the trouble

               PORTMAN returns to his hammock

TAYLOR

Go on! Go back to what you were doing…what you always do,
nothing. Zippo. Nada. Don’t be surprised if you hear a loud noise in the middle of the night and wake up to find a bunch of holes where your shrubs used to be!

PORTMAN

Blah-blah-blah - been there, heard it all before

TAYLOR

Don’t think I won’t do it – ‘cause I will! I mean it!

PORTMAN

Sure you mean it. You’ll do it like you’ve been doing since we’ve lived next door to each other. By the way and because I'm a nice guy and all - it’s gone nine o'clock already

TAYLOR

Shoot! You made me miss my morning train commute! Now I gotta wait another hour for the next one. Somehow, you always manage to bring out the worst in me

PORTMAN

And you know you love every minute of it. There’s a word for people like you
 
TAYLOR

And what would that be, he asked, afraid to hear the answer

PORTMAN

Pain-in-the-butt neighbor. Uh-oh - you’re gonna miss the next one if you don't move your butt

TAYLOR

Are you planning to watch the big game tonight?

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16. The anti resume

Okay. I admit it. I've been lazy and unmotivated lately. My playwriting effort has been limited for the most part, to short plays/sketches because they come easy to me and they are also easy to submit to various short play festivals.

While in submission mode and providing an accompanying description as to my background, the thought occurs to me as to whether I should label myself "playwright", having never had a play produced. Is a professionally produced play necessary to give a person who writes plays, "playwright"? Is the mere act of completing a play alright to call ourselves playwrights? Just some thoughts. But I digress.

My playwriting achievements as I've frequently shared here in this blog, are two two-act plays, which have been submitted to perhaps two dozen theatres, a one-act play submitted to six sources, in addition to numerous short-shorts i.e. 10-20 minute and under play-ettes submitted to numerous competitions. They - the plays - are all still waiting for the theatre world to discover them, as is the playwright.

All of this is leading to a very interesting blog passed on by the Playwright's Competition Calendar, a blog to which I'm subscribed, focusing on rejection. Written by Monica Byrne, a writer and playwright, she shares a blog focusing on what she calls, her "anti resume, resume." In it, she lists her rejections and breaks it down further in percentages.

In my case and if a similar exercise was pursued, there would also be a section for started-but-not-completed plays, completed plays languishing in cyber space due to fear of rejection or plays with themes that don't seem to fit theatre's niche.

Excuses thy name is Eleanor but I found Monica's anti-resume somehow comforting. Perhaps playwrights or aspiring playwrights will feel the same way: http://monicacatherine.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/my-anti-resume/

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17. Zoo Diary


 
ZOO DIARY
by Eleanor Tylbor                                                                        

 
SCENE: CITY ZOO. Night.

Some of the zoo denizens are gathering together to discuss what they feel are unsatisfactory working conditions. A high-pitch whistle breaks the quiet of the night. The whistle is repeated again and again. A boa constrictor (MR. SQUEEZE) slithers out from the shadows.


MR. SQUEEZE
Ssssssssst! Hello? Anyone?

 
RAT

Oh fer… That wasn`t the signal! It was supposed to be a bird call

 
MR. SQUEEZE

I think not! As I recall during the last meeting, we took a vote and decided on a whistle.

 
RAT

You left before the meeting ended. Remember?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

Perhaps…my memory isn’t what it used to be. Um…Ratty dear – you do have a lovely body…so smooth….so tempting…not a blemish anywhere…  I mean, you keep yourself in such good shape. Your tail is especially attractive as a nice, little snack…  I mean to say, located right there on your back

 
RAT
(running his hands up and down his tail)

You think so? I have been told that by many… Why are you staring at me like that?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

How about a nice hug, from one friend-to-another?

 
RAT

You have had supper, right?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

If you can call cat food supper. The financial cutbacks here at the zoo leave me hungry and wanting more

 
RAT
(backing up)

Where is everyone, anyway?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

Is there any more news about the zoo being bankrupt? What will happen to us? It’s getting to the point that everyone is looking very – um – appealing – in the looks sense of course

 
RAT

There’s no limit to what  changes they’ll make to save a buck. We’re at the top of the list for sure.

 
(A a shadow emerges into the zoo light)

 
RAT : cont'd. 

Well it’s about time!

 
ZEBRA

I was memorizing my lines my dear man. We must emote. We must open our mouths to properly enunciate the words like this: “loooo-loooo-loooo…la-la-la-la…Me-me-me…” That’s the secret in being an adept thespian, like me. I’ll be doing a solo in the show tonight so I have to be ready

 
RAT

You haven’t heard? The show is cancelled

 
ZEBRA

Say what?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

Um…zebra - has anybody told you that you have a striking body structure? Do you mind if I lick you a bit? I mean, to say of course, what makes you tick as an actor?

 
ZEBRA

Why thank you! Appearance if very important for an actor, y’know! Body appeal and all…audiences expect it, unlike other animals who shall remain unmentioned

 
RAT

Let's practice in case they want us to perform for the paying customers. Who has the script, anyway?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

The cheetah was supposed to make copies for everyone

 
CHEETAH
(bouncing out from behind a tree)

Somebody talking about me? Cheetah’s my name and running is my game

 
ZEBRA

Where are the scripts or did you use them to line your den, again?

 
CHEETAH

A cheetah needs to make renovations now and then! You are looking particularly delicious tonight, zebra baby…that is to say, very fat and luscious… Of course I mean to say, so masterful in a leadership kind of way

 
ZEBRA

You forgot to take your appetite depressants again, didn’t you? Ohmygawd! Run and hide!

 
CHEETAH

He’s at it again, accusing me that I’m off my meds! Anybody tell you you’re very appealing – in an intellectual sort of way, zebra? Why don’t we go back to my den and discuss it? I’d like to show you my etchings…

 
ZEBRA

Oh you’d like that, wouldn’t you? Just like the last actor you invited up. All we found of him was a paper fragment with the word HELP! You disgusting beast!

 
RAT

Enough! Everyone – back to your cages. It’s almost dawn and the visitors will soon be arriving. Does everyone know their parts?

 
MR. SQUEEZE

I lay around and look hungry. No problem there.

 
ZEBRA

I’m supposed to run back and forth and chew what is left of the one pathetic patch of grass. The ground is almost bare and my bones are beginning to stick out

 
CHEETAH

I like to suck bones… I mean, that is so sad!

 
RAT

And we rats will be…rats. A few fights…a few deaths… Okay – places everyone. The zoo is opening

 
CHEETAH

Mmmmmmm – that young visitor looks quite delicious…of course I’m referring to that cotton candy he’s eating

 
RAT

Now Cheetah, let’s not have a repeat of last week’s incident. Okay everyone – look cute! The paying customers are here!

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18. Post summer cleanup

This morning, not usually part of my condo cleaning routine, I decided to clear out the hard copies of my writing output. Why? Really don't know. Included in the clean up were printed columns and articles amassed over the years, which had turned yellow and were collecting dust in a large cardboard box stored on a shelf. Combing through the plethora of paper (plethora of paper - these three words have a certain ring to them) were plays that had been tossed in with the rest of the stuff for lack of space.

Amongst them were a few new short-short 10-minute play-ettes written with the intent of having them performed in front of an audience (a familiar theme) but somehow ended up in the "have to think about this further" state,  a plethora of copies of "A Wedding!" a.k.a. 'Make me a Wedding', one of two full plays. Can't remember the reason behind printing 12 copies of 120 pages but most likely given the time period of the printing, it had to do with an opportunity to self-produce the play.

Thinking back, there had been an attempt at producing it on my own on less than a shoestring budget. However - hate the 'howevers' in life - many problems arose from the onset not the least of which, was the inability to acquire actors or people with acting experience that felt confident enough to memorize lines. They came, they left. They came, they left, to the point where the play was no longer viable. It was obvious when chunks of the play had to be cut along with characters to make up for the lack of actors. The "actors" who did stay didn't always show up for rehearsals having bowling or weekly mah-jong commitments while others went on extended vacations, or so they told me. The experience was akin to the play, "Noises Off" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105017/).

At the bottom of the pile were stacks of copies (again) of "Gin..." my other play that has yet to see the light of day. Both plays are comedies and in my opinion, they're funny. At least I laugh every time I read them.

So now the dilemma is should they stay or should they go since I've updated them both at least a dozen times over the years. It's always interesting to read them over and evaluate the progression of the story line to their current incarnation. Alternatively, I could return them to their former storage place, think things over  and wait until the cleaning fever passes. Definitely a better option.

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19. The plan is sketch-y

"So, Eleanor - what have you been up to lately? Started any new plays, one hopes?"

Regretfully, no, but I did finish my final re-write of "A Thief on the Beach" and am satisfied with the end result.

"But Eleanor - that's not a play! It's a story! It's time you started on a new play or at least finish those that are languishing in cyber never-never land and waiting for an ending!"

True.. but my philosophy (major cop-out) is that a literary completion is a completion is... In as far as a new play(s) project is concerned, haven't come up with a burning idea or concept that moves me enough to explore.

"How about the one-act play that you submitted recently?"

Still waiting to hear back as to its fate, if at all. Hope springs eternal and all that.

"Is there anything new to report?"

Actually, yes. Maybe. Plans are in the works to produce and present an evening of sketch comedy. Proposed the idea to our writing group and to this end printed up a sampling of comedy sketches for all to read. They (sketches) were enthusiastically received and some of the people expressed the desire to be part of the project. I'm in the process of narrowing down the plausible sketches or those that will please a wide variety of tastes and ages. They will be distributed and we'll evaluate who will fit which sketch. Hopefully, the people that do commit to the project realize that there is a lot of rehearsal time involved.

Comedy, as anyone who has attempted it will attest, is a difficult challenge with timing plus delivery being everything. This is a concern. A number of the potential sketches have been shared here in this blog over time in addition to others actually performed a while back.

Meanwhile, we'll have to evaluate the comedy potential of the potential performers, which will be done next week, hopefully. To be continued... Read the rest of this post

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20. The Best of Friends have returned home

Over the years, my children's manuscript, "The Very Best of Friends" a.k.a. "A Thief on the Beach" must have been tweaked at least a dozen times, if not more. The original story was written a while back - this means at least twenty years ago - but the basic story line remains the same.

The tale focuses on two best of friends, Jeremy Goat and Freddy Fox, who compliment each other but not necessarily in a positive way. The young goat has an uncontrollable, voracious appetite for just about everything and the sly fox lives to play pranks on the community of animals living in Pottersville, located "a half mile down from the best beach around."

The story has always remained close to my heart and hence the reason for the various updates over the years. When it comes to updating, I'm the 'queen of tweaking." The pattern is to "fix" it, put it away for a year or more, pull it out of storage periodically, "fix" it again and so on. It's been a while since the friends have seen the light of day in the true sense of the word and a read-through brought with yet more changes.

Reading through it, I found some inconsistencies along with one or two superfluous characters that were eliminated. No sooner had they disappeared then they were brought back in a different form. I spent the weekend updating/tweaking/fixing - call it what you want - and managed to re-write four pages. So far, so good but then I always say that. There are a lot of positive messages within the story line, which is one of the main reasons I've stuck with it, in addition to light humor.

This time round I'd really like to seek out a publisher, electronic or print, not sure yet. Being that it's for young children although adults would also enjoy the story, it would require illustrations.

It also lends itself to a cartoon, given the dialogue and characters but first things-first, the priority of which is to finish the last re-write.

More progress reports to follow. To paraphrase the mischievous Freddy: "what are we waiting for?"

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21. A play-ful taste of "The Lemon"

As shared in a previous blog, I'm working on tweaking or re-writing one of my current short plays, "The Lemon."  A comedy, I've always liked this play-ette and it's for this reason I'm providing an excerpt. As always, comments welcome.

The story focuses on a woman (PENNY), whose newly acquired more-than-gently used car is stalled and her saga to get it moved out of a busy intersection. Her cell phone dead and unable to contact the car dealer, she is forced to use a public phone that is otherwise in use by a female, and a verbal battle of wits ensues between them.



THE LEMON
by Eleanor Tylbor


CAST OF CHARACTERS

PENNY FLOWERS, Owner of “the lemon

FEMALE PHONE USER, (‘F.P.U.’) user of public phone stand

 
THE TIME: The present. Mid-afternoon. Hot summer day

 
SETTING:  A public telephone stand at a busy intersection.

 
AT RISE:   A female, (PENNY) paces outside a public phone stand, waiting for person using the phone to leave. She is holding a cell phone in one hand and repetitively hits it against her leg, then puts it to her ear. She is tense since her car ("the lemon") is stalled in the middle of a busy intersection

 

PENNY

I don’t believe this! How many more things can go wrong, today?
Aside to Female Phone User: 'Scuse me, lady, but I gotta use that phone!’

 
SOUND: CAR HORNS


         PENNY looks off into the distance and makes obscene gesture with finger

 ‘Blow it out your nose, idiots! You'll get more out of it!'This is so typical. Finally, I get a cell phone and forget to charge the battery.

SPEAKING TO PERSON USING PHONE:
‘Scuse me? Are you going to be much longer?’

FEMALE PHONE USER (F.P.U.)

Do you mind? I’m almost finished. Why don’t you use your cell phone?

PENNY
Uh duhhh! Don'cha think I would if I could? It's broken –just like your fingers could be if I can’t use that phone like… now

F.P.U..
Are you threatening me with bodily harm? Oh gawd – a nut case! I attract them all!
ASIDE TO PERSON ON PHONE: ‘I think somebody wants to hurt me, Chloe!’

PENNY
I’m merely venting, silly lady, at least for the time being but things could change if I don’t get to use that phone! Perhaps I should explain so you’ll be sympathetic to my dilemma. D'ya see that car over there?

F.P.U.
Like, who cares, you crazy woman!
ASIDE TO PERSON ON PHONE: “Chloe, if anything happens to me, call my parents and tell them that I love them. Oh and you can tell my sister she can have my Manolo Blahnik Shoes.’

PENNY
Humor me for thirty seconds. Over there – see the car?

F.P.U.
You mean that orange-colored wreck? That’s - yours? I’d keep it to myself if I was you

PENNY
I bought the rusting chunk of junk a week ago and it died on me, today. There’s a sucker born every minute and the dealer saw a big red “S” right here on my forehead

F.P.U.
Okay. I see your car. Now can I finish my conversation? The more you interrupt – the longer it’ll take

           F.P.U. turns away. PENNY taps her on the back

PENNY
Perhaps I’m not making myself clear. I'm not a violent person by nature - not at all but you’re pushing my buttons! Wait – I made a joke - get it? Public phone stand? Push the buttons? In my personal angst, I still manage to find humor. I’m a survivor alright!

F.P.U.
(talking into phone softly)

‘Chloe? Don’t hang up on me, yet! I want proof if this nut case attacks me.

PENNY
You strike me as a relatively sensible person…um…um… You do have a name?

F.P.U..
Like I would tell it to a weirdo like you, who not two minutes ago threatened me with bodily harm

SPEAKS ON PHONE: ‘Are you still there, Chloe? I might need you to call the police’

PENNY
Do you appreciate how much time that has been wasted? Precious time I could have spent speaking to my car dealer but you insisted on staking out your territory here

F.P.U.
SPEAKS ON PHONE: ‘Get ready to call 911! I mean it!’

PENNY
There's no need for that. Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that I'm normally a sane person who rarely loses my temper, but my back’s against the wall!


           PENNY reaches over and grabs phone

PENNY SPEAKS ON PHONE: ‘Hello Chloe? She’ll call you right back.’
There! Your conversation is now over

F.P.U.
How dare you!

PENNY
How dare I? How dare I, you ask? How many times did I tell you that I hadda make a desperate phone call, but did you listen? Nooooo! Your phone conversation took precedent over my needs, so I took things into my own hands in the true sense of the word. If you don’t mind, I’d like some privacy so block your ears and turn away. Better still, go away

F.P.U.
Excuse me? After the way you interrupted my conversation? I think not

PENNY
Let me see here…where’s my phone directory? This purse is so big, everything gets lost inside… So this is where my salami sandwich went. Phew! Kind’a stinks. Then again, it is two weeks old. Would you mind tossing it into the trash can over there?

FPU
I think not! Why don’t you go throw it in yourself? It’s only mere few feet away. Wouldn’t take you long

PENNY
You think I’m an idiot?

FPU
The thought did cross my mind in addition to being insane

PENNY
I take one step away from here and you jump in and take over control of the phone, again. I think not! I’ll just put it back in my purse and toss it later on, when you’re not around

FPU
That is like, so disgusting! You’re gonna contaminate the phone! I’m gonna vomit!

PENNY
Don’t let me stop you. Let’s see here…where is the number of my dealership. I should’a filed it under “losers”. Here it is

          PENNY pushes buttons        

PENNY
TALKS ON PHONE:

‘Tony please. Tony Mozarelle. He what?’

ASIDE TO F.P.U.:
This is just my luck! They’re telling me my salesman has disappeared. Flown the coop. Taken wing as it was

F.P.U.
Oh well. Tough luck. Is it my turn, now?

PENNY
Not yet but soon. Oh the angst of it all!

          PENNY continues her phone conversation

PENNY
TALKS ON THE PHONE: ‘I'm a client of that place you laughingly call a dealership. Oh they warned me not to buy anything from you but did I listen? Nooo! Instead I go ahead and end up with this…this…clunker blocking the middle of a busy intersection! I-demand-satisfaction! Hello? Hello?’

ASIDE TO F.P.U:  Do you believe she hung up on me? People are so rude these days                                                                            

PENNY
(softly and politely)
ON THE PHONE: ‘Please don’t hang up. It’s been a day in hell and I’m asking for your indulgence and forgiveness. Now, would it be possible to speak to your wonderful manager? And his name would be…? Mr. Anthony Blackburn. Would this helpful Anthony person be free to talk to me now? Thank you so much… Miss…Miss…Jenkins – and you have a good day. ‘Ciao bella.’ Mr. Blackburn? Hi there...my name is….’

VOICE OVER: “Hello. You’ve reached my voice mail because I’m too busy selling people cars at the most unbelievable bargain prices! Every hour on the hour, we lower the prices of our gently used ve-hi-cles so that our customers can save their bucks to pay for gas. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you…whenever.”   

I can’t take it! This…this… woman transferred me to an automated answering system! What ever happened to live conversation with a real person? Gone with the wind just like service in general!

F.P.U.
Why don’t you just march right over there and give that manager a piece of your mind, right now! I would.

PENNY
I’m distraught and demoralized and all you can think about is to continue your stupid, insipid conversation with Chloe! On top of it all, the automated machine spat out names and phone locals and I don’t even have a pencil! Is there no end to the frustration I must deal with?

ASIDE TO F.P.U.:(genteel sweet voice:)­ Um - friend? I feel we’ve gotten to know each other in the short time we’ve both been standing here - two travelers on the super phone highway, dialing to communicate our needs. I’m wondering here if I could, like, ask a little fa-vor? It's not a biggie or anything that could put you out. Do you - would you… by any chance have a pen or pencil I could borrow? I don’t seem to have anything to write with 

F.P.U.
After the way you treated me? You really have nerve!

PENNY
Just desperate. Check in your purse. Perhaps you’d like me to check in there for you?

F.P.U.
You wanna rob me, don’t you? That’s it, isn’t it? Ohmygawd! I'm hyperventilating...

PENNY
Look, whatever-your-name-is - let's start all over and pretend we just met. Isn’t that a good idea? Make believe I'm a close but needy friend who happened along and is asking you to - nay – beggingyou to please check for a pen or pencil that I could borrow. D'ya think you could do that? As one sister to another? All you hav’ta do is open that bee-u-ti-ful designer pocketbook, stick your hand inside and feel around. I'll even take an eyeliner or eyebrow pencil…anything with lead will do…

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22. Re-thinking about re-tooling and re-evaluating

Second-guessing is not a good idea, especially when dealing with an established story line. As shared here in this blog ad nauseum, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to editing my plays. Actually, one play in particular ("you couldn't be referring to 'Old Soldiers' now, could you, Eleanor?") which could be but not necessarily so, depending on yet another read-through evaluation of the story line and dialogue flow.

The reason for this conclusion came as a result of a sleepless night and for whatever reason - it's better than counting sheep - started thinking about the characters in my various plays and whether they are believable. It's been my experience that the lack of sleep precipitates my old friend, creeping doubt, to make its presence known. The play, as anyone who has followed the saga of writing and finishing 'Old Soldiers' knows, has had many incarnations and updates. The uncertainty last night was that maybe the original story line, is in the end, the best one after all.

This conclusion was reached at two-thirty a.m. until four a.m. in the morning while staring up at the ceiling. That's when self-doubt works best providing visual images of the characters playing out their scenes. Questions arose to the surface as to the various re-writes and incarnations and the rationale behind making changes.

Issues like whether or not Daisy the dog character is relevant and is her inclusion necessary? What would happen if she was dropped? Given that the dog is featured in one scene only, does it play an integral part of the whole? More importantly, would Daisy be insulted?

"Why drop me?" Daisy would most likely ask if she could. "After everything that Joe and I have been through, together, over many years, my contribution is important."

In the first copy of the play, there was interesting verbal inter-action between Joe and a bus driver discussing the reason for Joe's trip. It was subsequently dropped in later re-writes but I'm toying with the idea of writing it in, again. My thoughts behind this is that perhaps it would provide more background information on the character.

When sleep finally took over, I was no further ahead than before other than the conclusion that this is a really good play - if it's ever really finished. Whether that feeling of not one more word can be added or deleted will ever be experienced.

And there-in lays the problem.



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23. Sketch comedy on the agenda

As a writer and one that enjoys expressing myself in a comedic manner, I've written and frequently shared some of my creative output. A lot of the content is based on personal experience and conversations with people, some of whom I know while others are interesting strangers encountered while shopping and experiencing life.

Last week our Writer's Corner group participated in the reading of four sketches by members:

- Arks to Go: focusing on a conversation between the owner (Noah) of Arks to Go ark building enterprise and a female who believes another flood is imminent.

- Keep Your Eyes on the Fries: a frustrated shopper's attempt to buy some frozen fries on special at the supermarket

- A Fish Tale: the owner of a dead pet fish approaches a funeral parlor to bury her fish

- The Missing Sock: a frustrated woman who has dealt with one-too-many missing one-socks, presents it as a missing-sock-case at a police station

Since it was a 'cold reading' by those present, many of whom have never read a script before, the end result was surprisingly good. At least three have committed to being part of a sketch comedy project, where the sketches will be performed for various groups as fund raisers, etc. We'll see how things develop with regular updates provided here, of course.

On a personal note, hoping that this project will attract the attention of a producer/theatre/whoever (hint-hint), with the intent of getting my two-two act comedy plays produced somewhere down the line. Hope springs eternal... Read the rest of this post

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24. Have sketches - will perform

Every second Tuesday afternoon, our Writer's Corner group meet to share our latest creative writing output. Interestingly enough, the participating writers are also talented artists, all of whom know each other on a personal friendship basis. It's sort-of an interchange and exchange of creative abilities. I've always believed that people in the various creative arts will find each other i.e. like-attracts-like.

In any case and rather than produce a new writing piece to add to my extensive collection, made a decision to give my comedy (at least I believe they are) sketches/play-ettes shared in this blog, a chance to be heard. To this end, I've selected three favorites to be performed in front of the group, assisted by a fellow member of the writer's group. We've worked together in the past a while back when there were plans to present my two-act comedy, "A Wedding!" Although the play never got beyond the rehearse and read-out-loud stage, the two of us have remained friends over the years and she likes the idea of doing the sketches, be it read out loud from sheets. It will be interesting to gauge the reaction of the listeners and I'll share the end result here. The intention, depending on the reaction, is to possibly perform the sketches in front of groups to get my plays "out there."

Speaking of plays, sent a submission query to the Theatre Unbound in Minneapolis, MN, having found a call for plays a general "submissions wanted" section of a playwriting site. They responded with, "Due to a staffing shortage we are not able to accept script submissions as we had originally intended.  Please check our website in 6 months for change to this status and for script requirements."
Will follow up in six months. Oh well... We live in hope.

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25. Scenes from Life: a Short Playette "THE LINE UP"

THE LINE UP
©BY ELEANOR TYLBOR
 
 
SCENE: An apartment parking lot. A female stands in front of parking spots, hands on hips. Her expression is one of deep contemplation and thought. A car pulls up and parks beside her.
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Hi there! Car won't start?
 
FEMALE CAR WATCHER (FCW)
Y'know - it's really upsetting
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Know where you're coming from. So upsetting when your car won't start especially when you have somewhere to be
 
FCW 
My car is fine. It's about those lines
 
(FEMALE DRIVER gets out of car and stands next to FEMALE CAR WATCHER)
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Sorry?
 
FCW
The parking lines. It's just not right
 
FEMALE DRIVER
(staring and studying parking lines)
Are they crooked? I mean, sometimes it must be hard to get them 100% straight...
 
FCW
Not that. What's wrong with those lines?
 
FEMALE DRIVER
They look okay to me...nice and straight...evenly spaced and all...
 
FCW
It's the color
 
(silence for 10 seconds as they both stare at the empty parking space lines)
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Yellow
 
FCW
Yellow! That's the problem!
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Can't say I've given the color of parking lines much thought lately
 
FCW
Bright canary yellow! They just...stand out!
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Aren't they supposed to? I mean, they're there to show people where to park their car
 
FCW
Do they have to be so bright?
 
FEMALE DRIVER
They just painted them a couple of days ago. Give them time and they'll get lighter
 
FCW
Why couldn't they have used white? White is unobtrusive
 
FEMALE DRIVER
(smiling)
Well - um - I would guess that somebody probably had a deal with a street paint company or perhaps there was some left over from the last time the lines were painted...
 
FCW
...we all know where to park our cars! They didn't have to use that color! Did you also notice that they made the lines wider, too?
 
FEMALE DRIVER
(looking down at lines)
You're right. Then again, we all aren't getting any younger! Bigger can be better
 
FCW
Everywhere! Yellow...yellow...yellow and more yellow lines.
 
FEMALE DRIVER
To be honest, I'm kind of partial to yellow. Honestly? Doesn't bother me
 
FCW
Oh... I see... Well I guess you won't be signing my petition to get the lines re-painted white, then
 
FEMALE DRIVER
Seriously? I mean, if it bothers you that much...
 
FCW
...well - I'll be off then. Some of us take the color of our parking lines seriously
 
(FCW turns on her heel upon spotting a male parking his car, leaving FEMALE DRIVER smiling and shaking her head)
 
FCW
(aside to driver getting out of car)
'Hello there! That's some beautiful car you're driving. there! Jaguar isn't it? What do you think of the color of the parking lines? So tacky, don't you think?'
 
 

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