Homes & Garden: Three Site-Specific Plays (Volume I) 
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:

 

OPEN HOUSE — The play depicts a realtor’s attempts to sell a house to an odd assortment of people from the homeless to the clueless to the strangely wise. Every time the realtor leaves a room, the House Sitter appears. Admitting that she sets things up and then should disappear, the House Sitter feels in competition with the realtor, and at the end they confront one another. Those who attend the open house seem to seek their identity in a new home that will define them. The audience is moved from room to room of the house, but the owners do not leave as requested, nor, by the end do they wish to give up their home. The others in the cast are lured into the woods, never, perhaps, to be seen again.  Characters:

  • HARRIET: A realtor with a difference

  • GEORGE: Frantic husband of Emma

  • EMMA: Looking for birth house

  • HOUSE SITTER: Prepares houses for showing and has some strange powers

  • MARSHALL: Owner of house

  • MARSHA: Married to Marshall, also owner of house

  • FRANNIE: Looking for house, but unsure of what she wants or who she is

  • ROGER: Lives in his car with family, a reader

  • FRANCINE: About 12, daughter of Roger, precocious

  • SPENSER: Eager to have his mother’s house

  • SUSAN: Spenser’s mother and less eager

  • RALPH: Looking for house, but rather doubtful about dead ends

WOMAN IN A YELLOW DRESS — A poetry writing group had been preparing for a reading of their work, when their leading member dies and leaves them her home. Returning from the funeral, they complain that somebody has been stealing the family photographs that they had planned to use at the reading, upon which their poems are based. The Woman in the Yellow Dress resembles a Renoir painting, never speaks and drifts in and out of the play, seeming to hamper the group, but actually helping them in the end. The play is about life, death and creativity in the face of both. Characters:

  • FELICITY: A bossy, middle-aged poet

  • SOPHIA: A spiritual, meditative poet

  • ETHAN: A realistic, logical poet, in love with Sophia

  • MATT: A Vietnam Vet, who writes poems about war and likes Blanca

  • MORRIE: A slightly paranoid poet, unsure of his talents

  • BLANCA: A serious poet, who tries to help everyone. Interested in Matt

  • WOMAN IN A YELLOW DRESS: A mysterious figure in yellow, who somewhat resembles a Renoir painting called “Bust: Woman in a Yellow Dress”

COME INTO THE GARDEN, MAUD — The play with music* is about a recluse whose family and friends tend her garden and try to lure her out to join them. Without actually appearing, however, Maud lures them all in.. Two daughters, the husband of one of them, a granddaughter and an ex-lover or his ghost try to lure her out. A gardener and housekeeper and two workpeople round out the cast and the needs of all clash. A kind of folk tale, with a singer telling the story in song, the play is a fable about family in our times. Characters:

  • VIOLET: Maud's daughter, in her forties. Consumed with Maud and the garden.

  • DAISY: Maud's younger daughter, in her thirties. Also focuses on her mother and the garden.

  • MICHAEL: Daisy's husband, early forties, long suffering, loves music.

  • ROSE: Violet's daughter, Maud's granddaughter, and a harassed mother, in her twenties.

  • BERTHA: The Housekeeper, in her sixties, one of two characters with access to the house and Maud.

  • FRANK: The Gardener, also in his sixties, the other character with access to house and Maud.

  • AL: Maud's old flame from way back. Mysteriously young for his age.

  • SINGER: A kind of Our Town stage manager/storyteller in song. Can also play the guitar and/or flute to accompany herself or can be joined by other musician(s) who can do that.

  • GUITARIST: Plays guitar for songs and dance.

  • MAN OF ALL TRADES: Comes in and out of the garden world, changing his nature to suit each hat he must wear— Gardener, Exterminator, Roof Repairman, Wrecker

  • WOMAN OF ALL TRADES: Comes in and out of the garden world, changing her nature to suit each hat she must wear— Gardener, Exterminator, Phone Repairwoman, Locksmith

Also available from this Playwright

Homes & Garden, edited by Katherine Burkman
~ Cover Art by Lindsay Alexander ~

ISBN #1-60513-232-2; JAC #2013-0010

MEET KATHERINE BURKMAN

$12.25/individual copy & music CD

Script Package: Please inquire

$30/performance (per play)  royalty

ORDER NOW

This collection will soon be available for

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

 

A Note from Katherine Katherine: "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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