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27 March 2019

One Million Tiny Plays...

Writing for performance, my favourite type of writing! 

This week we looked at plays, as we should have had a theatre trip yesterday, but unfortunately the show was cancelled (double theatre trips next term!).

We started by looking through lots of different texts and discussing the differences and similarities.... how the length of the lines can alter the delivery of the text, how Marlowe’s Faustus, and Sophocles make use of Chorus’ and what function they might serve which led on to Jenny telling us about a recent immersive play she’d been part of which was set up like a party and you could choose how to follow the action.

We then looked at two plays from themillion tiny playsseries (which continually brings me great pleasure) our task was to read it through and then think about how you might direct it as a play. As we worked through the task we started to understand how plays as a particular form are only completed when they’re performed and how the audience, actors and director add the sort of details we’d find in prose eg how things are said, or what actions are taken.

After the break the job was to write our own pieces, we decided on two characters and a context with everyone responding differently to the task;

George; 81, elderly. Dressed smartly in a three piece suit. A white handle bar moustache and a wooden cane. Gold rimmed half moon spectacles.

Martin: 59, Shabbily dressed. Grubby jeans. Thinning hair. 

The scene takes place in an inner city GP Surgery. It is busy and everyone is having to wait.


GP Surgery, busy waiting room with most of the seats taken. Martin (59, Scottish accent, slightly unkempt and balding) is sitting hunched over, head in hands, when George Carter (81, well spoken, smartly dressed and cane in hand) walks over to the empty seat next to Martin. 


GEORGE:         May I?

Martin adjusts himself on the chair to allow George to sit down

GEORGE:          Thank you young man.

MARTIN:          It’s been a long time since I’ve been called a young man! I’m 59!

GEORGE:          (chuckles)Oh my! You have many years left! I’m 81!


GEORGE:          It is very busy in here.


GEORGE:          Isn’t it?

MARTIN:          Yeah.


GEORGE:          They should have more seats.


GEORGE:          Shouldn’t they?


GEORGE:          Don’t you think?

MARTIN:          You’re wrong.

GEORGE:          Wrong? Where would you put those people over there, see – those three, waiting at the desk? And that ladies pregnant.  She can’t stand around waiting. What’s “wrong” with a few more chairs…?

GEORGE:          Maybe bring your own seat?... I have an old wheelchair somewhere that could…

MARTIN:          … You’re wrong. About me having years left.

GEORGE:          I’m sorry young man, I don’t quite see.

MARTIN:          Stop calling me “young man”…please…I’m not young….and possibly not a man…

GEORGE:          Very well. If you say so you...


MARTIN:          …and I don’t have years left to live.

GEORGE:          Oh, you don’t know that! Look at me! I’m 81, you know!

MARTIN:          I’m fucking dying!

GEORGE:          Well! There’s no need to be like that! Swearing!


GEORGE:          I’m sorry.

MARTIN:          Why would you be sorry?

GEORGE:          Well, it’s what you say isn’t it?

GEORGE:          … to someone who’s DYING?

MARTIN:          Tell all these nosey parkers, eh? Thanks!


GEORGE:          Are you certain?

MARTIN:          About what?

GEORGE:          That you are dying.

MARTIN:          What fucking business is it of yours, eh?


GEORGE:          I was just enquiring.

MARTIN:          Right!


MARTIN:          … It’s a lump.

GEORGE:          A lump? What’s a lump?

MARTIN:          A lump. You know…a lump…on my bollocks.

GEORGE:          I see.


GEORGE:          Which one?

MARTIN:          Wh…?

GEORGE:          Right or left?

MARTIN:          They’re going to chop my balls off! What goddam difference is right or left?


MARTIN:          …I’ll be re-gendered or whatever you call it...  Probably end up with a high pitch voice… whine on like my ex…

MARTIN:          …grow a pair of tits, perhaps…

MARTIN:          (sighs)…before the big C eats me up from the inside - like a maggot. 


MARTIN:          Oh God, fuck...shit…

GEORGE:          I see.


GEORGE:          So you don’t actually have a prognosis yet?

MARTIN:          What?

GEORGE:          Has a doctor confirmed that you have CANCER?


MARTIN:          No, but… I’ve definitely got cancer – I can feel it in my ball sack …


MARTIN:          it’s the one on the right – if you must know… 

MARTIN:          Your left.

GEORGE:          Right. 

MARTIN:          Aye. Right. 

GEORGE:          No, I meant... never mind. So you don’t actually know yet?

MARTIN:          What do you think I’m doing here?! No, I don’t know! But this is it, my time’s up, I’m tellin’ you.

MARTIN:          Oh god.


GEORGE:          I had a testicle removed. 40 years ago. And then some…

MARTIN:          What?

GEORGE:          Cancer.

MARTIN:          Are you kidding me?

GEORGE:          You ask my wife – I had it off when I was 40. (Chuckle)if you know what I mean! Just the one testicle remaining. 


MARTIN:          Shit me.

GEORGE:          Not to worry. Still stands to attention. No need for those little blue pills – nothing against them, of course. (Chuckle) All in working order. You ask my wife!

RECEPTION:      Mr Carter, George Carter

GEORGE:          Ah that’s me. Mustn’t keep the doctor waiting.

Groans as he stands

GEORGE:          If only getting upright from this damn seat were as easy.

RECEPTION:      Mr Carter, George Carter

GEORGE:          Yes, yes, that’s me!

MARTIN:          Fuck me – sorry – I mean… you don’t look like... 

MARTIN:          … you know...

GEORGE:          A man with one ‘BALL’?

GEORGE:          You’re wondering…I know…

MARTIN:          … well I didn’t like to ask, but…

GEORGE:          … Right or left, eh?

RECEPTION:      Mr Carter, George Carter

GEORGE:          Do you know, I really can’t recall!!

GEORGE:          So you see…you’re in the right place…

MARTIN:          I’m shittin’ myself...

GEORGE:          Of course you are. It takes courage to face your greatest fears. Vanity kills! No point being a dead vain man. Remember that.

MARTIN:          You’re telling me! This is scarier than my wedding day – all 3 of them! But hey, old man… you’re a fine picture of health – even though... you know… you had cancer. And beaten it. Shouldn’t make me feel better listening to someone else’s misfortune, you know but… well (chuckles)… you’re a real man grandpa…you’re doing grand…two balls or none eh?

MARTIN:          Life without balls…eh...

GEORGE:          …Takes balls! … So! …Right! Chin up!

GEORGE:          … Young man!

By Jenny 


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