Category Archives: original plays

Playwrights West Presents a World Premiere: Claire Willett’s “Dear Galileo”

Dear Galileo thumbnail

On a beautiful August night, come explore the stars with….

Playwrights West—Portland’s professional theatre company composed of nine distinguished local playwrights—in association with CoHo Productions, proudly presents the World Premiere of Dear Galileo, written by Playwrights West’s Claire Willett and directed by Stephanie Mulligan. Dear Galileo opens Saturday, August 8, with a special VIP preview performance on Friday, August 7.

As Claire says, Dear Galileo is “a play about science, religion, fathers and daughters, sex, creationism, and the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope.”

What’s It All About?

Dear Galileo opens with a young girl asking big questions about the universe as she writes letters in her diary to one of history’s greatest scientists, Galileo Galilei. So begins a dialogue that bridges faith and science, wonder and doubt, and present and past, as three very different women in three different eras grapple with the legacies of their famous fathers:

  • In a small town in Texas, creationist author and TV pundit Robert Snow is at a loss when ten-year-old Haley’s newfound passion for science begins to pull her from the Biblical teachings of her upbringing.
  • In Swift Trail Junction, Arizona, home of the Vatican Observatory’s U.S. outpost, pregnant New York sculptor Cassie Willows arrives to find her estranged father, world-renowned astrophysicist Jasper Willows, is missing.
  • And in Renaissance Italy, Celeste Galilei lives under house arrest with her elderly father Galileo—the disgraced astronomer imprisoned for defying the Pope…and facing down the Inquisition by publishing one last book.

As the three stories weave towards convergence, each family’s destiny becomes inextricably bound with the others, linked across time by love, loss, faith, the search for identity, and the mysteries of the stars.

How Do We Get There?

Dear Galileo opens Saturday, August 8, at CoHo Theatre (2257 NW Raleigh St), and plays Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7:30, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00, through August 29. Friday through Sunday tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students/educators/seniors. All tickets on “Thrifty Thursdays” are $15, and Thursday performances include post-show talkbacks, featuring some of Portland’s most innovative theatre artists.

When Do We Really Begin?

Playwrights West invites you to join us on Friday, August 7, for Dear Galileo’s VIP Preview Performance/Gala, where a $40 ticket offers a you-are-there seat to Portland theatre history and includes a post-show talkback, a gracious reception, and some terrific company.

Where Do We Find the Answers?

For more information and tickets, go to Playwrights West or contact CoHo Productions Box Office: 503-220-2646).

You Have More Questions? Keep Reading

Who Are We?

Dear Galileo features actors Nathan Dunkin, Kate Mura, Agatha Olson, Walter Petryk, Chris Porter, Gary Powell, and Nena Salazar. The production team includes Sarah Kindler (Scenic & Properties Designer), JD Sandifer (Lighting Designer), Ashton Grace Hull (Costume Designer), Annalise Albright Woods (Sound Designer), and Nicole Gladwin (Stage Manager).

Who Are The Creators?

Claire Willett is a proud member of Playwrights West and a founding artist of the Fertile Ground Festival. She was a finalist for the 2015 Jerome Fellowship at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis and was the 2011 Oregon Literary Fellow for Drama. Her other works include: Carter Hall (in development with Nashville songwriter Sarah Hart, thanks to a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council); Upon Waking; How the Light Gets In; That Was the River, This Is the Sea (co-written with Gilberto Martin del Campo); The Witch of the Iron Wood (co-written with local composer Evan Lewis); an original adaptation of W.H. Auden’s 1942 poetic oratorio For the Time Being; and The Demons Down Under the Sea, an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee,” produced in October 2014 as part of Shaking the Tree’s production of The Masque of the Red Death (a collection of Poe shorts by the writers of Playwrights West).

Ms. Willett her first novel, The Rewind Files—a time-travel, science fiction adventure about Watergate, has just been released by Retrofit Publishing in Los Angeles. Ms. Willett is also a popular, widely read blogger at: It’s Kind of a Long Story. Like Dear Galileo, her blog is the voice of a fiercely intelligent, compassionate, and spiritually attuned writer, unafraid to take on big ideas.

Stephanie Mulligan is a stage director in both the professional and educational arenas. Her favorite recent shows include The Seven Wonders of Ballyknock, Almost Home, The Outgoing Tide, Jesus Saves, The Guys, Little Women: the Broadway Musical, The Music Man, Nickel and Dimed, The Wizard of Oz, Murder Is My Business, Love’s Labor’s Lost, The Laramie Project, and The Comedy of Errors. Stephanie has worked with (and learned from) such notable American directors as James Edmondson, Penny Metropulos, John Dillon, Aaron Posner, and Nancy Keystone. She has participated in international programming, collaborating with India’s Mahesh Dattani and Lillette Dubey, Vietnam’s Do Doan Chau and Dang Tu Mai, and Australia’s Cate Blanchette, Robyn Nevin, and Andrew Upton. Ms. Mulligan’s work with many fine local companies includes Portland Center Stage, Lakewood Theatre, triangle productions!, Coho Productions, Artists Rep, Broadway Rose, and Portland Civic Theatre Guild.

Playwrights West, a professional theatre company founded in 2009 and composed of nine Portland playwrights known for the high quality of their work, focuses on presenting top-level productions of its members’ plays and supports the development of original work in Portland. The nine member playwrights are: Karin Magaldi, Ellen Margolis, Aleks Merilo, Steve Patterson, Andrea Stolowitz, Andrew Wardenaar, Claire Willett, Patrick Wohlmut, and Matthew B. Zrebski. Drawing upon a growing national movement of playwrights taking the reins for productions of their work, Playwrights West introduces Portland audiences to compelling, innovative theatrical experiences, presenting vital new plays by gifted local authors.

Why Are We Here?

  • In 2011, Dear Galileo was a finalist for the Fox Valley Collider Project, a Chicago-area initiative to support original works of theatre about math and science, and was developed with the support of a 2011 Career Opportunity Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission, a 2011 Oregon Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts, and a month-long artists residency at I-Park Artists’ Colony in East Haddam, CT.
  • In 2012, the play was produced as a staged reading in the Fertile Ground Festival by Artists Repertory Theatre, directed by Stephanie Mulligan, where the cast included Chris Porter (who returns in the role of Galileo).
  • In March 2013, Dear Galileo received a staged reading at Pasadena Playhouse in California as part of the Hothouse New Play Development Workshop Series, directed by Literary Manager Courtney Harper, with a cast that featured noted actors Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager) as Jasper Willows and Lawrence Pressman (Doogie Howser M.D., American Pie, Transparent) as Galileo.
  • In Summer 2014, Willamette University in Salem—launching its new on-campus company, Theatre 33, with a summer of readings by Portland playwrights—selected Dear Galileo as their inaugural project.

Has Anything Like This Ever Happened Before?

Dear Galileo marks Playwrights West fourth full production in association with CoHo Productions, a premier supporter of new plays and original work.

Can Any One Person Explain It All?

No. But if you have questions, contact Steve Patterson.

 

 

 

 


Photographica: Late Afternoon and into the Past

Late Afternoon, Modish Building, Portland, Oregon

Late Afternoon, Modish Building, Portland, Oregon

A late winter afternoon–after a stretch of rain, the air still thick. Winter in the Pacific Northwest often limits you to shooting detail, given the long overcast stretches. But, when it clears, it gives you this full, rich light and color more akin to the semi-tropics, plus long shadows. Maybe the moisture content in the air; it somehow bends the light.

Here we have the golden hour plus: the warm light tinged with winter blues. The photo’s seem some post-production work, mostly to render it the way I saw it. Or at least how I remembered it. There’s no telling how far that can stray. Memory’s it’s own kind of filter.

The site–the Modish Building in downtown Portland–holds a special meaning for me. My first play–Controlled Burn–was produced on the fourth floor, in a sort of underground art gallery, with the artists squatting on site…not us, we came in as guests. Very punk, man! Kind of. They did throw some great parties. They also had limited gear available. The sound system was fantastic, and there must have been 50 cues, but our lights consisted of slide projectors and flashlights with colored gels over the lenses (and a silver plastic balloon that served to create a very cool watery effect). We took our set up in a rickety industrial elevator than ran so slow that you could reach out and touch the wall as it passed. We called if the David Lynch Memorial Elevator. We had to bring audiences up to the fourth floor in batches of ten. Luckily, the fire inspector never visited us.

With time, you learn. Back then, I had no idea. I remember Kyle Evans (who helped found Pavement Productions) and I attended PATA auditions when looking for actors. We knew nobody in the theatre community, nobody knew us, but they treated us as equals, and we ended up working with some very cool people like Sherilyn Lawson, Marty Ryan, and Catherine Egan (as a shamanistic dancer).

That’ll be 25 years ago this coming September. First play. Birth of Pavement Productions (I certainly had no idea that would last for 18 years). And my first review–the Oregonian compared me to a young Sam Shepard. They also said the play was kind of a mess–really, it was more performance art–and dubbed it “Uncontrolled Burn.” And thus the pattern: the critic give, and critic taketh away. Still, they couldn’t have made me happier unless they’d compared me to Beckett or Ionesco.

Funny that the piece really was a series of interconnected monologues, and I’m currently playing with a series of interconnected narrative poems–which could be performed as a series of monologues. I don’t know whether that means the circle comes round or I just have a limited number of ideas.

(Shot with a Canon 70D, 18-55mm zoom lens, processed in Adobe Lightroom.)

P.S.: This marks my blog’s 500th post.


The Modular Play: An Act of Faith

19442In 25 years of writing plays, I’ve generally worked from beginning to end. I may have a final scene in mind—sometimes an image that spurs the play’s creation. Sometimes, for tightly plotted stories, I work from an outline. Even so, when actually writing the piece, the process opens with “lights rise” and closes with “end of play.”

About a year ago, an idea came to me arising from images and voices I’d carried around for almost aa decade: American soldiers during World War II basically trying to talk themselves calm the night before a battle.

The time and locale fluctuated. D-Day seemed a natural, but also had been extensively covered, from The Longest Day to Saving Private Ryan. I considered the Anzio or North African landings, but those required explanation—and exposition. More and more, I thought of the lousy winter of ’44 and ’45, when war’s end loomed but hadn’t yet arrived.

Then an actor friend suggested I write a Christmas play, which made me laugh at first. No one would immediately associate my dark, sometimes sardonic plays with presents and cheery lights. Plus, could anything new be said of Christmas? Still, I liked the idea of writing a non-sentimental Christmas play for adults. All too often, between Scrooge, nutcrackers, and elves, the holidays seemed a reason to stay home from the theatre. Not because the existing plays were bad—simply because they were tired.

Then somehow the long-smoldering World War II play latched onto the Christmas Eve, finding the German-besieged town of Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge. I’d long been fascinated by the town’s heroic effort to stave off Panzers as ammo, food, and medical supplies ran low.* And another image came to mind: a wounded civilian, a woman, in the midst of men trying not to fall apart. And If the Fates Allow took shape.

Or rather, it took shapes. I didn’t have an ending or a beginning. All I had were voices and a setting. The play stalled. I couldn’t find a way into it. I figured, what the hell, I’d write what I had—little scenes, snapshots, snippets of conversation. I had no idea where it was going. All I could do was rely on faith that I’d written a bunch of plays—too many maybe—and I could write another, hoping a piece would find its form as had happened so many times before.

It didn’t. A nervy process ensued, where, at any time, the play might go sideways. Plays do sometimes. You get into them and find out they have an unfixable flaw or they run dry. But increasingly, I began to feel comfortable with the characters. I could feel them pushing to have their stories told. So I started thinking of scenes—some so brief as to be blackouts—as pieces of a mosaic. I’d just keep writing until I exhausted the time and place, or until the play’s form revealed itself. No matter how it turned out, I was having a great time writing it. I liked hanging out with the characters and you couldn’t beat the circumstance for drama.

Siege plays—where a penultimate event shapes the action—have a form all their own. You just keep moving forward, and they get increasingly tense. The possibility of disaster colors everything, lending weight and urgency to otherwise ordinary conversation. If a character speaks of missing home, the question hang as to whether he’ll ever see it again. Sharing a cigarette carries a sense of communion—a rite to stave off emotional collapse.

Then, as if illuminated in a camera flash, the ending appeared to me, and it completely startled me—as I hope it will the audience, and I found most of the material written previously supported the resolution. Though my conscious mind seemed to float from place to place, my unconscious had been doing its job. I still needed to properly sequence the pieces and build transitions, which essentially meant rewriting the play from beginning to end, but a great deal of the original material survived the rework, and the beginning found itself. It said: start here. I’d just been warming up to that point.

I can’t say it’s the most relaxing way to work, but it wasn’t boring, and the results worked. I think.

Would I used the “modular play” technique again? Maybe. Plays have a way of telling you how they want to be written, and there’s something satisfying in taking your hands off the wheel and letting your instincts do the driving. In a way, it’s what writers do anyhow. Even when you’re carefully laying out a piece using an outline, you have to step back and let the imagination run. We’re never much more than nominally in control of a first draft. The rewrites demand all the writer’s craft and cunning.

Putting pen to paper is always an act of faith—faith in one’s self, in your intuition, and your need for discovery. Whether you leave the diving board with your eyes open or closed, you’re still going to hit the water. And you still have to clear the rocks.

*Despite my efforts to find a fresh World War II event to write about, after completing the play, I discovered that Band of Brothers had explored the same time and place, although they looked at if from a very different angle.

(At noon, January 26, “If the Fates Allow” meets the public as a concert reading at Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre, produced by Playwrights West as part of the Fertile Ground New Works Festival.)


An Open Letter on Playwrights West’s “The Sweatermakers”

Sweathermakers - BenA number of years ago, I banded together with other professional playwrights in Portland to launch a theatre company: Playwrights West. We operate using a unique model—over a ten-year period, we fully produce a play by each playwright member, one play per year. And we feature some of Portland’s best talent, striving to create plays that rise to the playwright’s expectations—basically, giving that writer a chance to fully realize their vision. (We also do some cool group projects that incorporate all the writers’ work…watch for some stuff coming up Fall 2014.) Staging all world premieres, we present original work that Portlanders will see first and can’t see elsewhere (that is, until other theatre company snap up the plays…because they will).

We’ve produced fine plays by Patrick Wohlmut (“Continuum”) and Ellen Margolis (“Licking Batteries”), and this year we embark on our third production: “The Sweatermakers” by Andrew Wardenaar (opening Friday, August 8, 2014).

And here’s where that “original” part comes in. You can’t call “The Sweatermakers” a comedy—though parts of it are very funny—and you can’t call it a straight, typical drama, given its slightly skewed, absurdist feel that’s both grounded and somewhat…magical. It plays its own individual tune.

In brief, the story goes: a brother and sister make beautiful sweaters that mysteriously arrive to comfort the recently bereaved. The two live in their own, sheltered world, and though it’s comforting, it can also be confining. When especially beautiful material arrives for an obviously special sweater, Brin—the sister—can’t help herself and ventures out to find its recipient. And things…get…weird.

It’s a thoughtful, beautifully calibrated story, with a fine cast, designers, and director (Matthew B. Zrebski), and it feels like one of those shows that haunt you for years. The ones that you suddenly find yourself thinking of, out of nowhere. Plays that won’t leave you alone.

Obviously, I urge you to check it out (formal show information follows below). All of Playwrights West’s shows have been excellent (and all entirely different from one another). But this one feels like it’s got a little bit of special…mojo. It’s quirky, but it has gravitas. In Portland, we know quirky. And memorable.

With Playwrights West, Portland Center Stage’s JAW Festival, the Fertile Ground Festival, and the many gifted (and adventuresome) writers in town, along with a highly literate audience and a great talent pool that loves working on new shows, Portland feels more and more like a home for developing new plays. Sure, we’ve become famous for gourmet roasted coffee, microbrews, farm-to-table food, and great independent stores, like Powell’s Books, Music Millennium, and Portland Nursery. But what could be more unique and artisanal that cooking new original plays? In our own little laboratory. One of these days, we’re going to open up the Sunday New York Times to see an article on Portland’s original theatre scene. It’s happened with our indie music. It’s coming with new theatre work.

I invite you to be there first and check out “The Sweatermakers.” Plus it’ll be Andrew’s first full production, and, man, there’s nothing as wild as that. If you’re not from Portland, keep an eye on this guy. He’s got chops.

(And, yes, I have a show coming up. On Saturday, September 6, Willamette University will present a reading of my play “Immaterial Matters,” which won a new play contest at CoHo Theatre a couple of years ago and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. It’s damned quirky. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/life/2014/06/14/new-theater-enters-summer-three-free-staged-readings/10455975/)

Best,

Steve

—————————–

The Sweatermakers

A World Premiere Production Written by Playwrights West’s Andrew Wardenaar

Playwrights West in association with CoHo Productions presents The Sweatermakers, a world premiere drama by Andrew Wardenaar. The Sweatermakers marks the third year in Playwrights West’s ten-year mission to present quality, professional productions of its members’ works.

The Play

It’s one of the worst days of your life. A package arrives. It contains a beautiful, handmade sweater, perfect for you. And maybe, for a moment, you find solace. But where did it come from? Who made it? Confined to their own secluded world, Brin and Henry—a remarkably close sister and brother—craft beautiful sweaters, designed to comfort those in need. One day, exquisite material arrives. It’s so striking that Brin can’t help but wonder whom it’s destined for. The question haunts her until she breaks the rules and ventures out to find its recipient. And the siblings’ perfect, self-contained but restrictive world, begins to unravel….

Part mystery, part coming-of-age story, The Sweatermakers—woven with humor, psychological insight, and magic realism—affectionately explores our need for human connections, the change those connections bring, and their sometimes painful consequences.

The world premiere of The Sweatermakers marks Mr. Wardenaar’s first full-length production. In 2012, the play won the Portland Civic Theatre Guild’s playwriting contest, and they subsequently presented it as a staged reading during the 2013 Fertile Ground Festival.

The Details

The Sweatermakers opens August 8, 2014, and runs through August 30 at CoHo Theatre (2257 NW Raleigh St, Portland, Oregon). It plays 7:30 PM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday tickets are $25, or $20 for students and seniors. All seats on Thrifty Thursdays are $15. Tickets can be purchased through CoHo Productions, at www.cohoproductions.org (503-220-2646). For more information see Playwrights West: http://www.playwrightswest.org/sweatermakers/

The Artists

Playwright Andrew Wardenaar has been a member of Playwrights West since 2011. His play Live, From Douglas was featured in Portland Theatre Works’ 2009 LabWorks workshop. Another of his plays, Spokes, premiered in 2008 as part of a compilation of short works entitled Me, Me, Me and Ewe. His other works include The Next Smith, Anachronous, The Attendant and Good One, God. Mr. Wardenaar is also a director and recently graduated with an MFA at the University of Portland.

Director Matthew B. Zrebski is a multi-award winning playwright, composer, script consultant, teaching artist, and producer-director whose career has been defined by new play development. He has served as the Artistic Director for Youth Could Know Theatre, Theatre Atlantis, and Stark Raving Theatre—all companies specializing in new work—and, since 1995, has mounted over 40 world premieres. He holds a BFA in Theatre from the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University and is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild of America.

The Sweatermakers’ cast includes: Jen Rowe, JR Wickman, Ben Buckley, and Sharon Mann. Designers include: scenic design by Tal Sanders, lighting design by J.D. Sandifer, sound design by Em Gustason, and costume design by Ashton Grace Hull.


What’s New with the splatterverse?

Extensive entries have been added to the Theatre Resources section, and most of my play pages now include excerpts. Plus the page for my play Bombardment includes links to posts that serialize the entire play (which, unfortunately, is stark raving daft).

Thanks,

Steve

 


Samples from the Other Side

The Splatterverse now includes excerpts from some of my plays, in case anyone wants to do some casual reading.

Rather than pick the most dramatic points in the works, I thought it more interesting to find moments that caught the flavor or spirit of the play, the characters, or the situation. If nothing else, I hope they’re vaguely entertaining:

 


Bombardment, Episode 13: Peace, How We’ve Longed for You

Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments may occur a day or so apart. So please be patient.

[EPISODE 13]

ACT II

SCENE I

PLACID and CARMELITA sit in the armchairs. CARMELITA’s shopping cart is overturned, her stuff spread all over the stage–balloons, trinkets, gobs of colorful, wadded paper: a toy chest emptied for Mardi Gras. PLACID and CARMELITA have exchanged clothes with ARETHA and CORNO. PLACID reads the newspaper. CARMELITA curls up in her armchair. She has PLACID’s bag of surprises beside her. No matter what she does, PLACID does not react. CARMELITA takes out a pair of pruning shears, plays that they are shark jaws.

CARMELITA: (Singing “Mack the Knife”) Oh the shark has pretty teeth, dear/And he keeps them pearly white. . .. (Rummages, rummages. Comes up with a banana. Swims it past her. Singing “Sub-Mission” by the Sex Pistols) I’m on a submarine mission for you, bay-bee. . .. (CARMELITA makes bubble sounds as the banana “submerges.” Puts it back. Takes out a hacksaw. Puts it to her throat.) No. . .please. I’ll tell you where the treasure is! I will! Just don’t. . .don’t. . . arrrghghghghghh. (Her head falls forward. Lets it hang.) Arrrghghgh? (CARMELITA puts the saw away. Takes out an awl, and pretends to tie her arm off and shoot up, but can’t stomach it.) Awful. (CARMELITA returns the awl to the bag. Very slowly pulls out the long carving knife.) Oh, it is a long way to Tipperary. Just an extremely long way. No matter how you try to get there. Whether walking or flying or swimming like a fish. It’s an extremely long, difficult way to go. Wherever the hell Tipperary is. Know where Tipperary is, Placid? Well, I’ll tell you. Tipperary is nowhere. Maybe it was somewhere once, but it’s nowhere now. It’s a song. It’s in songland, and not even a song people know anymore. It’s in the Lower Slobbovia of songland. Peace. How we’ve longed for you. Listening, Placid? (She pricks her finger with the knife.) Ow! Shit. (She gets up, slips into a pair of pumps with stiletto heels. Picks up the knife.) I’m stalking. I’m stalking the beast. Oh, it’s a fierce beast. Got long, jagged teeth. Scaly skin. And, and…it’s invisible! It can eat you, and you’ll never see it. Even when the teeth tear into your flesh. Oh, you see the holes ripping, the blood. You’ll feel it. Definitely. But you’ll never see it, even after you’ve been eaten. Even when you’re deep in its guts. You’ll just dissolve. Become part of it. Then you’ll be invisible too.

[To be continued]


Bombardment, Episode 11: Mirrors with Beveled Edges

Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments may occur a day or so apart. So please be patient.

[EPISODE 11]

CARMELITA: No, ma’am.
ARETHA: Yes, you did! Don’t argue with me! You killed him!

ARETHA begins striking CARMELITA.

ARETHA: Unfaithful bitch! I let you in, but you’re treacherous! All of you! Let you into my home, my life! Rescued you from dirt, disease, rivers rotting with corpses! Gave you a room! Gave you pink wallpaper with curlicues, white enamel vanity, mirrors with beveled edges! Perfumes, powders, oils! What do you give me? How do you pay me back?

ARETHA grabs CARMELITA’s coat.

ARETHA: Give me this! My coat! From my animals! My skins! Without me, you wouldn’t know which arm goes where!

In trying to escape the blows, CARMELITA lets ARETHA have the coat. ARETHA catches her by the throat. Forces her to her knees.

ARETHA: This is ours! We give you a little! Pacify you! Your peace, our profit! But don’t think we can’t take it away! If we don’t get back what we put in! We’ll just give it to another! Fresh meat! A body that hasn’t learned to think!

ARETHA throws her on stage. Grabs the tire iron.

ARETHA: Spoiled trifle. Put your eye to the keyhole. Seen what you couldn’t imagine, but now you want. Once that germ takes hold, you can’t be trusted, you or your whole fucking people, and you ought to be wiped from the planet!

ARETHA raises tire iron to strike. Deafening sound of planes, screaming in.

The sound paralyzes ARETHA. CARMELITA crawls away, grabbing her coat and wrapping herself.

ARETHA: They’re coming! God, they’re coming back! What are we going to do? Don’t you hear them? Once they let the bombs loose, they fall everywhere. They don’t just fall on me. They fall on everyone. They fall on everything.
CARMELITA: There’s nothing you can do.
ARETHA: No! Before I took you in, you survived!
CARMELITA: Lie down. The shrapnel might go over your head. Everything else has.
ARETHA: I rescued you. From dirt, disease. Rotting bodies floating in the river. Pink wallpaper with curlicue patterns. Table. Desk. Perfumes. Powders. I rescued you? Or did someone rescue me? Someone took my hand. But what happened–

CARMELITA backhands ARETHA.

CARMELITA: Kneel.

[To be continued]


Bombardment, Episode 4: Dallas Style


Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments may occur a day or so apart. So please be patient.

[EPISODE 4]

PLACID: Do it right! Make him come to you! Feign penance. Face behind a veil. So he’s sure he’s won. Accepting your proffered hand in his grand benevolence.
ARETHA: Humiliated.
PLACID: Does a spider humiliate? No. She waits. For the prey to relax.
ARETHA: Then strike.
PLACID: Why you need me. The most loyal of loyal. The only one–present company excepted–that he trusts. The one who’s borne the blood. Who’s bashed the heads to pieces. Slit the throats. He slinks home for you. On his knees. Pleading mock repentance. Until my shadow crosses his.
ARETHA: I know this gore and violence thrills you, but must your willie stick up my ass?

PLACID stands her up.

PLACID: Sorry, babe! Got a little excited! Excited…for your triumph!
ARETHA: Sit.

He sits. ARETHA paces.

ARETHA: Ah god.

She sits down and puts her head between her knees.

PLACID: Babe…you okay?

She sits back, obviously pained. CORNO rises from hiding place, vaguely concerned.

ARETHA: Comes in waves, the agony. My eyes. Seeing him. Them. He’s kisses her hair, her neck. She clenches her calves. She drops the platter. It rattles on parquet tiles, oysters splashing. She reaches back. Bunches the pleats of his woolen trousers. Fingers spreading flat. Trembling. . .. In my bed, Placid! My bed! I need murder. Tell me murder!

CORNO eases from one spot to another.

PLACID: Sweet. (Rises. Goes to bag. Takes out a tire iron.) Eh?
ARETHA: Kitchen to garage. Better. He loves his cars. Men love to go fast. Why they always do.
PLACID: Yeah, I love this fucker. Nice and heavy, but a point, too. Let it hang by your side. Come up behind him. Jam! Right through the back of his head!

PLACID demonstrates. ARETHA winces.

PLACID: Skull frags everywhere! Dallas style! Busted pottery! Or. . .–hwack!– uppercut! Hook that soft spot ‘neath the jaw! Give a twist, snap, whole trache rips out! Blood like a Rorschach! Beautiful.
ARETHA: I don’t the implement is properly. . .stylish.
PLACID: This gonna’ be a murder or a tea party?
ARETHA: What about something with a point that doesn’t have to mutilate? A pin? A dart?

PLACID rummages, comes up with a drill.

ARETHA: I believe you need a cord.
PLACID: (Buzzes it.) Batteries.
ARETHA: So…intrusive.
PLACID: You know what? You still love the bastard.
ARETHA: I do not.
PLACID: Yes, you do. You hate him as much as you say, you’d cut his head off–(pulls a hacksaw out of the bag and waves it around)– never mind the glop. Shit. Why don’t you just feed him a cute little Seconal brandy?
CORNO: Prefer coffee.

ARETHA leaps out of her seat. Enraged, she lunges toward him. The lights flicker. Planes return. Bombs fall, thundering. Shatteringly loud. Strobe lights. ARETHA, PLACID, and CORNO all hit the deck and cover up.

CORNO: Aretha? Aretha!

Admist the bombardment, one bomb falls with an especially piercing whine. Lights out with a shattering concussion. Silence.

[To be continued]


Bombardment, Episode 3: Just Speakin’ Colorful


Splattworks continues its presentation of Bombardment, a two-act drama by Steve Patterson. The author will attempt to post an installment each day, but, if events intercede, installments may occur a day or so apart. So please be patient.

[EPISODE 3]

ARETHA: How do you plan to conduct the administrative action?
PLACID: Well, it’s funny. On one hand, living things are a bitch to kill. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you end up just bashing ‘em till they come apart. But, if you got a little knowledge, get inside, snap the right wire, the whole gimmick goes…click. That’s what we’re shooting for. The right wire. Now. (Reaches into bag, pulls out a carving knife.) Standard number. Sharp, long enough to get to the juicy stuff. Strong, won’t break on bone. Drawback is. . .it’s been done. Million times. Kind of thing a housewife uses to whack her hubby when he’s dipping his wick on the side.
ARETHA: Be very careful.
PLACID: No offense. Just speaking colorful.
ARETHA: Nothing with domestic connotations.
CORNO: Say, could I get some coffee?

The two on stage look up, pause, then go back to what they’re doing.

PLACID: This wouldn’t work then?

Holds up a nutcracker. ARETHA shakes her head.

PLACID: Bummer.

Puts knife, nutcracker on floor. Takes out an icepick.

ARETHA: What did I tell you?
PLACID: Could be a wet bar. Some swanky lounge.
ARETHA: No.
PLACID: Camping?
CORNO: Please, it’s chilly out here. Let’s get a cup for all these good people.
ARETHA: Where do you find it?
CORNO: Just a warm-up. For my loyal, loving subjects.
ARETHA: You find it in a kitchen drawer, right along with the corn skewers and the garlic press.
PLACID: Garlic press. . ..
CORNO: Don’t need any cream! Black is fine!
ARETHA: (Leaping to her feet.) Shut up! Shut up, you bastard! I will not serve you! I will not! Think who I am! Think who you compare me to! I could kill you with my bare hands!

ARETHA lunges for him, but PLACID jumps up, grabs her round the waist. Holds her tight as she struggles to get into audience.

PLACID: No, no, shh. Do it proper.
ARETHA: To hell with proper!
PLACID: You can’t mean it.
ARETHA: Gouge out his eyes!
PLACID: No. Aretha.
ARETHA: With a grapefruit spoon! Pluck ’em out! Stamp ‘em on the ground!

She furiously stamps the stage while PLACID holds her in place. He finally wrenches her back. They both end up in an chair, ARETHA planted on PLACID’s lap.

[To be continued]