ATLAS is a program sponsored by Theatre Bay Area, in which theater artists receive training, mentoring, career development and a showcase for their work. This year, for the first time, TBA opened up the program for playwrights, and yours truly earned the honor of becoming a member of the first class of writers.
As part of the program, ten of the playwrights including yours truly got to read from their works in five-minute showcases at the annual Bay Area Playwrights Festival this week. 7th up to read, I chose a few modules from my modular play The Possibility. Now I should explain how a “modular” play differs from a regular play. The Possibility, instead of scenes, consists of modules ranging in length from several pages to a single sentence. A director or theater company can arrange the modules in any order they please, use some multiple times, use others not at all, producing a set of ten-minute plays, 2-3 one acts, or a full-length play. I chose three modules related to food, and after the next picture, you can read what I performed on Wednesday night at The Thick House.
The plot of The Possibility is pretty simple: a MAN and a WOMAN dealing with the possibility that they are falling in love with each other even though each is happily married already to KAREN and STEVE. Their spouses know the possibility of trouble exists, but they also know that nothing is happening–so far. Here are Modules 31, 35 and 39.
Module 31: Dances With Chickens.
Sunday afternoon. Preparing a nice Sunday dinner. Sundays usually are takeout, perhaps even delivery, because I must also make our lunches for the work week, but I want to make a nice roast chicken.
I do not feel guilty. I feel like doing a good wifey-poo sort of thing. Like that woman in the movie and the gourmet lunch she prepared for her lover, except I’m cooking for my husband.
Why am I doing this? Doing what? The possibility, or the chicken?
Pat the chicken dry. Salt the cavity, pepper, too. Quarter a lemon, insert in cavity. That woman in the movie roasted a chicken for her lover; I roast a chicken for my husband. Salt and pepper the skin. A sprig of rosemary in the cavity; as she did. No French baguette, not like her; wild rice.
After all, that woman in the movie ended up dead.
Why do I think of that? I mean, I’m happy. Aren’t I? But when she walked home she had that sun, her sun, that smile, her smile, those autumn leaves, one red, one brown, entangled in her hair and she leaves those leaves there to dance with the wind. Do city streets look like that when your life dances with you as you glide down city streets with that smile dancing upon your face? Because you roasted a chicken for your lover?
I have never betrayed. But I can betray. I can betray because I’ve never betrayed before. But I have no idea why.
And she died.
Roast at five hundred degrees for fifteen minutes, lower to four hundred and continue until the thermometer reaches one sixty-five. She was happy when she roasted her chicken. Her entire life was dancing. I used to dance.
I want a smile that will dance with the wind dancing with the leaves dancing with my hair dancing with the sun dancing with my smile down city streets that look like that when your entire life dances. I want to dance with the sun and the stars, dance in a circle, dance in a ring. But one truth cuts into my dance, one grave and graven fact.
I am dancing with a chicken.
I am a good wifey-poo.
(Module 35. Happily Married Couples Who Are Trying to Stay That Way.)
I spied on my wife as she danced with a chicken. True, this was no ordinary chicken. It was a politically correct free-range organic chicken, quite tasty at six ninety-five a pound. But even if it was a politically correct chicken, it was still a chicken.
I thought this was a clue.
So I signed us up for salsa dancing classes. It’s the romantic in me.
Salsa classes are interesting. Evidently, when middle-aged single women ask for advice on how to meet new men, their friends advise them to take salsa classes. However, men do not get the same advice. Therefore, our salsa classes consist of a few happily married couples who are trying to stay that way and a large number of single women dancing with other single women, taking turns pretending to be men so they can learn how to dance like the women in happily married couples who are trying to stay that way. The single women who are taking turns pretending to be men sneak looks at the men in happily married couples who are trying to stay that way, and since there are so few men at salsa dancing classes, that means that every Tuesday night from eight p.m. to nine-thirty p.m. a lot of single women who are taking turns pretending to be men sneak looks at me. I look at my wife looking at the single women taking turns pretending to be men sneaking looks at me.
Maybe sushi classes.
(Module 39. My Husband Likes Sushi?!)
My husband likes sushi?! Is that my fault?
The entire showcase seemed like a great success. The other playwrights brought their best work and best readings, and it sure seems that the first class of ATLAS playwrights is a good one.
Vonn Scott Bair