The Craft Project

One Act, One Hour

I had a very different, and very entertaining, experience on Friday evening.  I was part of an Open Pit Theatre project called One Act, One Hour which was taking place as part of Nakai Theatre’s Homegrown Theatre Festival.  The concept was that four playwrights from across Canada would be given half an hour to write a play collaboratively via Google Docs based on the answers to a set of questions the audience would provide them with.  Once time was up three very brave actors would then perform the newly minted piece.  I got to be one of the writers.

The questions (and associated answers) we asked the audience were:

Q: What is the location of the play?
A:  Alcatraz

Q: What is one element that must be worked into the play?
A:  Uranium

Q: What connects our three characters?
A:  Allergies

Q: What divides them?
A:  Women guards

Q: What does each character need from the other?
A:  Forgiveness

From those answers we had to craft our play while doing skype interviews (for my fellow writers) and live interviews (for myself as I sat on stage typing my contributions to the piece on a giant iMac provided by Media Solutions for the evening) with the audience and listening to a timer tick down the seconds we had left at our disposal.  At the 15 minute mark we had four lines.  This caused us to panic (the chat window that we were communicating on that was hidden to the audience became full of obscenities).  Luckily the panic resulted in us picking up the pace.  We finished a complete scene literally as the buzzer went indicating that we needed to “step away from the keyboards”.  I didn’t even realize that it was funny until I saw the actors take it on so skillfully moments later.  I think it actually turned out really well, but I’ve shared it here with all of you so that you can form your own opinions.  My fellow writers were: Andy Garland, Julia Pileggi, and Erica Nash.

ELIZA

How many teaspoons of sugar do you think are in this?

Swirling her mug around in her left hand.

RAY

Why should I give a shit about your sugar?

ELIZA

Oh, come on now. It’s fun. You’ve never guessed right before.

JOE

Shouldn’t we be worrying about something more important than sugar?

ELIZA

It’ll be a long time before we ever get to worry again…

RAY

So you’d rather just sit there and play your stupid games instead of trying to figure out how to get out of here?

JOE

We don’t have any soap. Soap’s important. How’s a man supposed to stay civilized without soap?

RAY

Soap?  You’re worried about soap?  Why don’t we worry about the friggen’ uranium?

ELIZA

SHHHH!

They all smile innocently at invisible passing guards.

Fucking Uranium. Thats all you ever talk about. Do you really think it’ll work?

JOE

Soap is what separates us from the uncivilized world. How can they keep us in here like this without so much as a–

RAY

If we weren’t all allergic to everything we might be able focus a bit more….but let’s face it, we need to rise above our personal issues and get to the FUCKIN’ URANIUM

JOE

Uranium is a hard dense malleable ductile silver-white radio-active metal. It has a very high density, when finely divided it can react in cold water, in air it tarnishes rapidly…

RAY

If you’re not somehow giving us the clues to getting us the fuck out of here, then I suggest you stop flapping your mouth. It’s your fault we’re in here in the first place. You couldn’t just let your sister be. You had to come and ruin everything that day. Right Eliza? I was going to make us millions.

ELIZA

Those millions won’t do us much good if we’re still in here. And HOW exactly did you smuggle that uranium into the slammer, anyways?

RAY

In my pants.

JOE

Millions my ass. Even if we get out, we’ll never make it to the other side alive… Poison ‘em, thats what I say…Peanuts…Everyone is allergic to them these days, I promise you it’ll work.

ELIZA

You know what, you’re so negative. I can’t believe you talked me into becoming like you. I want us all to forgive each other so we die in peace if we don’t kill that gard like we planned.

RAY

Enough with the peanuts and sugar and soap and negativity! All we need is a little bit of uranium to build us a mini-mini-mini dirty bomb. We use that, blow the lock off the door, and we’re practically home free!

ELIZA

Alright, let’s just do this and hope we live through it…The mugs are ready to be switched, You managed to carve that replica alright from what you brought??

RAY

What if I told you I was a guard this whole time.

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