A Gathering of Minds: Three Site-Specific Plays (Volume II)
by Women at Play, edited by Katherine Burkman

 

What IS Site Specific Theatre? Site-specific theatre is any type of theatrical production designed to be performed at a location other than a standard theatre. The site in question was not built with any intention of serving theatrical purposes (for example, a hotel lobby, a courtyard, a cafe, a forest). When the location is meant to imitate, or is itself the setting of the theatrical story (as is common with site-specific theatre), the performance may also then be called environmental theatre. Site-specific theatre is commonly more interactive than conventional theatre and audience members may be asked to walk or move about (rather than sit), In this time of financial challenge for theatre groups, site-specific theatre may have a special appeal as it works without lighting and provides its own scenery. Since it brings people to the site, it may often be used without payment.


Included in this collection

 

IT’S ACADEMICThe play takes place at an academic conference, and it is about the initiation of the young into the politics of university life. How will Rapunzel fare in her Ivory Tower where she is kept by her adviser, Malcolm Greatscale? If Lucy takes her place, will she be better able to manage Malcolm, who is the keeper of the Ivory Tower? Will Will win Abigail’s heart (Rapunzel’s real name)? Will Malcolm be found out?  Characters:

  • ABIGAIL ROSEN: A graduate student, kept in an ivory tower by Malcolm to write his keynote speech for an academic meeting

  • MALCOLM GREATSCALE: A powerful professor, who has locked up Abigail/Rapunzel in an ivory tower and has formerly imprisoned Virginia and others

  • VIRGINIA: A Professor who mentors Lucy. Tries to show her how to play the academic game and win

  • LUCY: Twenties; A graduate student, more willing to play the academic game than Abigail. She cares deeply for students

  • WILL: Twenties; Lucy’s boyfriend, who has missed out on an assistantship with Virginia but falls for Abigail

  • CYNTHIA: A graduate student who is idealistic and won’t play the game

  • JACOB: A full Professor, who is pals with Hillary

  • HILLARY: An associate professor, worried about her promotion to full Professor that Malcolm wants to block

THE BLUEBERRY CAFÉ The play is a loosely connected series of monologues, all given by women. There is a singer at the café who sings* about it and herself, and there are other songs connected to the monologues. A Yiddishe Mama interferes in everyone’s business, also suggesting a connection. The ensemble sing of the pleasures of the café, and the monologues cover everything from complaints about a blind date, to plans for a murder, to a woman having a breakdown. Characters:

  • SUSIE: A woman who knows about dogs, hangs out at the café , and remembers

  • STACY: A woman scorned

  • SALINA: A young woman on a tightrope

  • SARAH: A Yiddish Mama

  • GLORIA: A lady who sings the blues and loves the water

  • SANDRA: A teacher in distress

  • MARY: A young girl who tries to escape an abusive father

  • NAOMI: A depressed woman who can't seem to get out of bed

  • RACHEL: A young girl in flight

  • DORA: A physician's wife who has her own career

  • GERALDINE: A researcher obsessed with striptease

  • ALISSA: A young girl whose mother has fixed her up with a blind date

  • JUDY: A working woman who wants her Sarah McLachlan tape back

  • GUITARIST: One who specializes in playing the blues

  • WAITRESS: A young person, who makes everyone feel at home

NOTE: Although GLORIA, SARAH, SUSIE, the WAITRESS, and GUITARIST need to be played each by a single person, the other parts may be doubled or tripled as desired.

 

IMAGING IMOGENE— A musical* play that dramatizes the characters’ anxiety about how they look and the need to be perfect, Imogene and her daughter are lured by her mother to a health club where unseen guru Dr. Green promises transformation and perfection. Arte presides over activities with a strange mix of clients, including a ghost, and the whole is framed by HE and SHE, who are working out a relationship in which HE dominates and SHE fights her submissiveness. The happy ending is undercut by the melodious suggestion that body parts remain a problem and love is a mystery. Characters:

  • IMOGENE: A middle-aged, attractive but insecure woman

  • RUTHIE: Imogene’s daughter, in her 20s

  • ROSE: Imogene’s mother, a perfectionist

  • JONATHON: Imogene’s husband, a middle-aged, attractive guy

  • JACOB: Ruthie’s boyfriend, in his 20s

  • VOLUPTUOUS WOMAN: A model, curvaceous but not bound by her contours

  • SKELETON WOMAN: A model, walking bones that are the ruins of her soul

  • CLOAKED WOMAN: A model, without arms and quite disarming

  • TATTOO WOMAN: A model, unclothed; while revealing nothing of the intimate body, her tattoos disclose much of the person within

  • VOICE OF DR. GREEN: Echoing godlike from behind the screen

  • ARTE: Dr. Green’s right hand man in THE CLINIC, art therapy teacher, yoga teacher, sales person, computer expert

  • HE: One who would dominate

  • SHE: One who would escape domination

  • MADELINE: A famous artist, sister of the late ballerina, Leslie DeBeers

  • LESLIE: Ghost of the late Leslie DeBeers, idealized in her time

  • RON: Appears only on video (or in scenes that represent a video) in a canoe

  • FERREL: Wife of Ron, also only on video in canoe and also anxious not to be seen

  • PHILIP: Appears only on video in canoe in which he and his wife try not to be seen

  • GWEN: Wife of Philip, also only on video in canoe and also anxious not to be seen

Also available from this Playwright

A Gathering of Minds, edited by Katherine Burkman
~ Cover Art by Lindsay Alexander ~

ISBN #1-60513-240-3; JAC #2013-0014

MEET KATHERINE BURKMAN

$12.25/individual copy & music CD

Script Package: Please inquire.

$30/performance (per play) royalty

ORDER NOW

This book will soon be available for

To license these plays play,
please call (781) 272-2066

 

A Note from Katherine Burkman: "For 12 years (1994-1006), a group of 9 or 10 women met monthly to write plays. First they wrote them separately and then they began to collaborate. We called ourselves WOMEN AT PLAY as opposed to MEN AT WORK and one of our local critics warned the public about our edgy dramas with the fitting phrase, CAUTION: WOMEN AT PLAY.  As some women came and went, there were 17 of us over those years. One in particular, Cecily O’Neill, a professor in Education at The Ohio State University, influenced our writing by introducing us to process drama, a procedure often used in education in England. She would set up a situation: for example, “How will we get Maud to come into her garden?” and we would improvise, becoming characters we invented to achieve the desired dramatic action. Within a half hour, for that process drama, we developed a dramatic arc in which Maud’s family and friends tried to get her out into her garden they tended, but instead, without appearing, Maud managed to draw them all in. The poets in Woman in a Yellow Dress undertake a process drama as part of their writing efforts.

After we experimented with writing a play together, we decided to test it on stage. However, we had no money and since the play, Homescape, took place in the rooms of a house, we decided to go the site-specific route and put it on in a home, moving the audience from room to room (a moving audience is often a part of site-specific drama). Our local critic dubbed us a site-specific group and even though over the years we rented theatres for some or our productions (plays by Pinter and Beckett, my specialties at The Ohio State University) or plays we wrote that called for theatrical lighting (She Forgot Her Purse), we often wrote for and performed in sites. We began by acting in the plays ourselves along with male friends, but as our audience grew we began to hold auditions and moved to a semi-professional status in Columbus (OH) where we did our work.

Along the way Daniel Rogers and Andrew Rogers added original music to many of our Plays— hence the songs in Come Into the Garden, Maud. Indeed, some of the plays which appear in Volume II of our site-specific plays, became musicals— The Blueberry Café and Imaging Imogene.

Two of the plays in this collection take place in homes–hence we had small audiences of 15 for each. Open House, which we wrote and produced in 2005, was written specifically for a house in Columbus next to a woods. In that play as with Homescape, we led (an actress playing a realtor led) the audience from room to room of the house and it was difficult to tell who was in the play and who was audience (the play was one of five nominees for the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s Artistic Excellence award for that year). Woman in a Yellow Dress (2003) took place in a home in Bexley, OH and the audience was seated throughout in the living room. In the earlier play, 1997, Come Into the Garden, Maud, we returned to the first house we had used in Bexley but this time performed on the porch in the house’s garden and because of rain did several performances in the studio of STUART PIMSLER DANCE & THEATER, working closely with the composer, Daniel Rogers, and the designer, Madeleine Sobota.

We hope that you will see the wonderful advantages of using sites for performances, both financial and artistic. The sites may provide an intimacy and dynamic with the audience which we have found most fulfilling. Enjoy."

 


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