3/4ths of a play and 1/5th of a play

The cast. From left, Kris Sorensen, Vanessa Mills, Joel Gruver, Betsy Quillen and Kelly Anglim.

I recently participated in an unusual theatre project with Page to Stage Theatre in Roanoke Virginia.

Director Nick McCord asked me if I’d be one of five playwrights in a semi-collaborative project called NOT ANOTHER EXQUISITE CORPSE? The deal was one playwright would write 15 pages, then pass it on to the next playwright, who would only see the first playwright’s last two pages, and so forth and so on.

The only rules: We had a five-person cast previously lined up. Each character had to be in those last two pages. And we couldn’t kill someone off — unless we created another character for that actor to play. Otherwise, it was all fair game.

So I said sure. The other playwrights were Claire Wittman of Virginia, Shelby Love of Florida, Caitlin Gilman of Chicago and Kate Leslie of Chicago. As fate would have it, I drew the first straw. Actually, Nick drew it for me. I asked the cast for some prompts — I wound up with an genre of noir, a prop of diet soda, a line from Shakespeare and, well, I forget the others now but there were five, one from each actor. I was the over-achiever. I wrote an actual one-acts — about 20 pages — on the theory that I wanted something I could market after the project was over. I ended up writing two completely different ones — first, TONGUE OF THE DOG and then THE CURIOUS CASE OF JOCKSTRAP MALONE. Nick chose the latter one (it was the better choice for this project) and took the first 15 pages.

The result, once it ran through all the playwrights, was a delightfully silly mash-up but also an excellent writing project. So it’s fair to say that I had 3/4ths of a play produced as 1/5th of a play. And now I have two new one-acts to market.

The poster.

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