The Picky Playwright
Dr. Paulette Sauders
Creative Writing and Workshop
April 4, 2017
MAX, an 18-year old creative writing student at Grace College (wearing blue jeans and a black Grace College t-shirt).
IDEA #1, a memory of the Wednesday of the first growth groups at the beginning of his freshman year personified by his friend (a young Hispanic about the same age).
IDEA #2, an encouraging testimony of a Christian on death row personified by an older gentleman (wearing a formal, black suit).
IDEA #3, a thought to turn poetry into a play personified by his literature professor (wearing a red shirt and slacks).
Max's room in Omega Hall, Tuesday evening. There is a desk up against the wall with a chair in front of it. Facing his desk, on the left is his closet and on the right is the door of his room.
Lights up to reveal an exasperated Max with his palm on his face sitting on his desk chair in front of his desk. Three items lay on his desk: a pencil, paper on a clipboard, and his creative writing textbook.
MAX: I really have to get this play done, but I haven't even started. Last week I was late on two assignments, and I would like to get help on my work this time and actually have something for others to critique. (Sighs) I just need to sit down and start jotting down ideas.
(Turns around to pick up the paper on a clip board and a pencil. Turning back around he pauses with the pencil up to the paper.)
MAX: (CONT.) (Stares blankly at the paper) But where to begin? Oh, I can use the textbook for ideas!
(Turns back around and grabs the creative writing textbook. Skimming it, he tosses it back, frustrated.)
MAX: (CONT.) I'll just have to think for myself…
(Enter Idea #1 from the closet.)
MAX: (CONT.) Manuel?
IDEA #1: Nope, I am your first idea, your solution! I am the play you will write.
MAX: (eagerly) Ok! What do you have for me?
IDEA #1: Do you remember your first session at the beginning of last semester, specifically, our first Growth Group?
IDEA #1: Wouldn't that make a great setting?
MAX: (Nodding his head) Uh huh, lay it all out.
IDEA #1: So, a fire pit is in the middle of the stage. One chair is off to the left, and four chairs on the right side of the fire pit. There is a table behind the chair on the left, and on it are chocolate bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers.
MAX: (Writes down ideas) Awesome, I got the setting. We're the characters, right?
IDEA #1: Yes, we had some good times, and that should give you a decent plot.
MAX: What about conflict?
IDEA #1: Well, the conversations should prove interesting, right?
MAX: No, I need conflict, and none of our times in Growth Group really fits this idea. Do you have anything else?
IDEA #1: You can add the conflict in yourself. You know that.
MAX: I'm just trying to get my play started. If you have no conflict, then you can't help me. Just stand off to the side while I think. I am looking for a conflict which really grabs your attention from the beginning. I have been doing some reading for another assignment, and it says that's the most important part of your story. While heartwarming, my time in Growth Group doesn't seem to make for a good story.
IDEA #1: Come on your just not thinking hard enough. Don't set me aside just yet.
(With a huff, IDEA #1 steps over and stands by the closed door, and IDEA #2 enters from the closet.)
MAX: Chuck Colson?
IDEA #2: Not quite, he's dead. I'm your second idea.
MAX: Oh, yeah. So, what do you have? (Sits ready with the pencil to the paper.)
IDEA #2: Well, I heard you were missing conflict, and I bring you a memory of the Mr. Colson's book.
MAX: The story at the end with the two Christians and the reconciliation?
IDEA #2: Exactly! Who doesn't love a good story about reconciliation? Also, this has fewer characters than that guy over there (points towards IDEA #1).
IDEA #1: Hey!
IDEA #2: It would be much more poignant too.
MAX: Who would the characters be exactly?
IDEA #2: Well, at least the two Christians and the brother of the dead woman.
MAX: Awesome. Characters, dramatic plotline, but what about setting?
IDEA #2: You haven't thought that far. This is all I've got.
MAX: So, you don't have a setting?
IDEA #1: Looks like you're not the idea he is looking for.
IDEA #2: Be quiet. Remember, this is a really good plot. At least try to put some effort into it.
MAX: Ok, what do you have in mind?
IDEA #2: How about their prison cell? That was a pretty intense moment.
MAX: Yeah, but how could I make that much dialogue for just one scene, and what about plot?
IDEA #2: What about it? He committed those crimes, and now he finds forgiveness from his victims.
MAX: (Starts writing and then pauses) How, though, do I add in all the back story from that chapter?
IDEA #2: Didn't you have to do something like that in class, turning a short story into a play?
MAX: I was actually organizing my binder when they did that.
IDEA #2: (putting his palm to his face, frustrated) Well, you could start now. Remember what your teacher said: "You'll learn best by writing."
MAX: Yeah, but I don't have the book, and I want to get a better grasp on the idea. I just don't feel like you're really measuring up. Besides, I would like to do something a bit comedic.
IDEA #1: Comedy, you say? Move aside; this is my time.
(IDEA #1 and IDEA #2 switch places.)
MAX: I thought you didn't have plot line?
IDEA #1: No, you said the material I had wasn't good enough.
MAX: Fine, what do you have? (Puts the pencil to the paper to begin writing again.)
IDEA #1: Go back to the idea I had earlier, but before Growth Groups.
MAX: So, the Wednesday of the first Growth Groups?
IDEA #1: Yeah, do you remember the time I found Carl's dirty gym clothes piled under my blanket when I tried to nap?
MAX: Yeah, you were ticked, and it was worse when Carl denied putting them there.
IDEA #1: Yeah, and I then proceeded to vow revenge, right? Wouldn't that make a great conflict?
MAX: Well, it's conflict, but that takes us away from the setting. Also, I don't think drenching him with water while he sleeps really constitutes a resolution. It really just led to a prank war.
IDEA #1: You don't have to follow the events exactly. This is just supposed to help you start.
IDEA #2: That's what I told him.
MAX: I am looking for a complete package at the outset, or at least enough so that I can sit down and start writing. I just get stuck when I go down the paths you lead me on.
IDEA #1: But-
(IDEAs #1 & #2 stand by the closed door as IDEA #3 comes to the front center from the closet.)
IDEA #1: Good luck.
MAX: Please tell me you have something good, and you look like my litur-
IDEA #3: Yes, and no I'm not him. I look like him, though, because I think you should turn poetry into a play.
MAX: I just went through turning other pieces of literature into a play with the last guy, and I didn't want to try it.
IDEA #3: Yes, but you have not even seen the poem I am going to recommend. You gave them a second glance at least give me my first.
MAX: Ok, what did you have in mind?
IDEA #3: Remember the poem I assigned you in class?
MAX: "Batter My Heart, Three-Personed God"?
IDEA #3: Yes, and why did you pick that one?
MAX: It seemed to talk about our relationship with God as a Christian, and it had this sense of aggression.
IDEA #3: Good, now look it up again, and you'll see plenty of material.
(MAX pulls out his phone, looks up the poem, and reads it silently.)
MAX: Now, explain to me how this is to be my play?
IDEA #3: Well, you have three characters: God, Heart, and Satan.
MAX: Ok, and the conflict is who get Heart, right?
IDEA #3: Yes, also its ambiguous enough to give you plenty of room to put them in a setting, and the cast and story are simple enough to fit into a simple setting.
MAX: You don't come with a setting ready, though?
IDEA #3: Really? How hard can it be to make a simple setting?
IDEAs #1 & #2: (Together) That's what we told him!
MAX: Should I look for yet another?
IDEA #3: Wait, look at the poem again.
MAX: (Looking at his phone.) What?
IDEA #3: The line about a town, maybe a gate could be your setting? It wouldn't be very hard. You could make Heart the keeper of the gate, and Satan hold's Heart captive behind a locked gate. God is the Savior, and the plot is the back and forth between God and Satan with Heart in the middle. The resolution is God winning Heart.
MAX: Wow, a complete idea. It's just not comedic.
IDEA #3: Really!? Well, (in a sarcastic tone) what are you going to do? You really want to start writing you play, but you haven't selected an idea.
MAX: I don't know. I don't feel like I have a truly "good" idea which fits the assignment better.
IDEA #3: Urgh! Guys come over here (beckons the IDEAs as he walks toward them).
(The IDEAs stand with the arms on each other's shoulders and whisper for about 2 minutes.)
MAX: What are you guys doing?
(The IDEAs look up and nod to one another before walking over to MAX.)
IDEA #1: We have all given good suggestions, and you have turned them all down.
IDEA #2: We believe you are overthinking this, psyching yourself out, and just being way to picky.
IDEA #3: You just need to just make a choice.
IDEAS: (Altogether) So, what's your decision?
MAX: I don't know! Urgh… wait! I have it.
IDEA #3: Oh really? What's the setting?
MAX: This very room!
IDEA #2: Who are the characters?
MAX: All of us!
IDEA #1: Wait so what's the plot?
MAX: Since this argument has been imaginary anyway, this would make a great plot. You guys are a riot! I will just write down what happened here. The room is simple enough for a small stage setting, you guys and myself are a decent cast, and the story will be of someone trying to write a play. Quickly, to the library!
(All exit out the room door with MAX going first, and the IDEAs walk slowly behind as they shake their heads sighing with sagging shoulders.)