Playwriting

Playwriting Exercises - CREATIVE CUP OF TEA

For our last class, Professor Musgrave wanted us to prepare 5 minutes of a scene to stage. So the class wasn’t all about writing a scene, but trying to set it on stage, to calculate the times, to think about the lights and sounds. This is my attempt. This is the second scene of the play that I am going to write for the final project. It follows the scene inspired from the story about Liam Gallagher.

The lawn in front of one of the monkeys’ cages at the London Zoo. The weather is perfect, warm and sunny with a nice breeze. Jackson Doyle and his son are sitting on the grass. They are looking at the monkeys’ cage, facing the audience. Monkeys are invisible. The father has his legs spread on the ground, while the kid is composedly sat. Behind them, some signs and features of the London Zoo.

JACKSON (looking at the monkeys). I’ve always liked monkeys. I need to buy one some other time.

BERLIN. They’re very intelligent animals. They can even count and things like that.

JACKSON. Just imagine all the stupid shit you can make them do. Like selling drugs, deliver dirty messages to birds and annoy the people you don’t like.

BERLIN. Mmm.

He picks a blade of grass and puts it in his own mouth, starting to chew it.

I guess you’re right on this point.

JACKSON. I’m bloody right indeed.

BERLIN. Well, if you try to see it more rationally, probably you’re not. Monkeys don’t do well in captivity.

JACKSON (turning to Berlin) How do you know it? Have you ever had one? Or is it just that you’re a fucking know-it-all? Monkeys are bloody entertaining and I’ll have one sooner or later.

BERLIN. I’m pretty sure it’s against the law.

JACKSON. Fuck the law.

BERLIN. The more I get to know you, the more you sound like a perfectly adjusted human being.

JACKSON (staring at his son). Have you really just said it? That’s a pretty great insult.

BERLIN. I can be cruel. But always politely.

JACKSON. Sounds good to me. That’s my boy.

Pause.

JACKSON (shaking his head and looking at the monkeys’ cage). I can’t believe your mother didn’t tell me about you for all this time.

BERLIN. Hasn’t told.

JACKSON. What?

BERLIN. You probably meant that you can’t believe my mother hasn’t told you about me for all this time.

JACKSON. And what the fuck did I say?

BERLIN. You used the past simple of…

JACKSON. Don’t fuck with me, you little asshole.

BERLIN (shrugging). You’re a public figure. I am pretty sure that the way you talk really matters to your popularity.

JACKSON. Well, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore now that I’ve discovered that my son is called Berlin. I don’t know how I’ll get away with the press. They’re going to mock me until I die.

BERLIN. Have you at least asked her why she called me like that?

JACKSON. Honestly, when I was told I had a son, I was too busy not to kill myself.

BERLIN. You’re the most honest dad ever.

JACKSON (shrugging). I try to do my best.

BERLIN. She called me like that because that’s the place you two had sex. At a music festival in Berlin.

JACKSON. Oh wow.

He raise a little, as he is trying not to look taken aback as he is.

She really told you everything.

BERLIN. I’m not a eight years old brat. I know how things work. Even if you think that the coolest place for a twelve year old boy is the London Zoo.

JACKSON (rolling up his eyes). You’re a fucking bore. I love zoos, and I’m 43.

BERLIN. That’s because you are a rockstar and have no sense of reality. In 2016, everyone knows zoos should close down.

JACKSON. Shut up. Don’t tell me you’re one of those.

BERLIN. One of those what?

JACKSON. Listen, kid.

He opens his mouth to speak, but a couple walks before them and stops for a short time before the monkeys’ cage. Jackson closes his mouth as he watches the couple. He waits for them to get out of sight before starting to speak again.

If your mom is a hippy vegan who tries to put this kind of progressive shit into your mind, you’d better say bye-bye to me paying your stupid school fees.

BERLIN. I’m not a vegan.

JACKSON. Good.

Pause.

JACKSON. And anyway, this is the stupidest thing ever.

BERLIN. What?

JACKSON. Calling you like the city where we conceived you. That’s sick. Especially if the city is as ugly as Berlin.

BERLIN. Berlin is not ugly.

JACKSON. Have you been there?

BERLIN. Nope, but I have the habit of reading a lot. Especially about the city that has my same name.

JACKSON. Right indeed. I should have expected it, little wise guy.

BERLIN. I have seen some documentaries about Berlin. It’s a great city.

JACKSON. I’ve been probably too stoned to realise it.

Not finished, but I guess the scene to bring to class should have lasted 5 minutes.

*

When we staged my piece, I felt like I needed to work on some things. In fact, I think the scene was not as active as I wanted – there was too much dialogue and I wanted more action. Then Rob, one of my classmates, told me that David Beckham called his son Brooklyn, the place where he and Victoria Adams conceived him – so, instead of taking this thing out, I think I will use this Beckham story in my play – Jackson could say “your mother called you Berlin as the place where we conceived you as that fucker Beckham did…” etc.

Professor Musgrave told me to discover more about this people, to ask myself what they want and what are their reasons. What’s at stake today? What does the father need? What does the boy need? Does the boy wants his father back? Why is this day going to matter? He also told me that this story is an archetype and that he didn’t mind that it looked similar to About a Boy by Nick Hornby etc., he wanted to see my slant, my voice in it. This was a very useful advice. He told me that nothing is completely new and original, and voice makes writing good. Also, he told me that the more questions I ask to myself, the more answers about the play I get.

About-a-Boy-Hugh-Grant.gif

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