Writing more ten-minute plays is one of my goals this year. I stated back in early September, that I wanted to write one new ten-minute play a month. At the end of the “year” I would have twelve original works that could be performed in one night (120 minutes approximately). Imagine something like ALMOST MAINE, which is a full length play that incorporates a series of vignettes all focused around one town.
I don’t have a “theme” for my year of ten minute plays nor am I looking for one. I like to see how a theme develops over the course of writing instead of forcing my writing into a theme that it may or may not fit into.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well Today is the first of October and I am happy to report that i have written, not my first ever, but my first play in this twelve month experiment.
Entitled A REUNION, it is an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s A RUINED MAID.A RUINED MAID is a poem that Hardy wrote almost entirely in dialogue. Due to this feature, the poem lends itself very well to drama in my opinion, but has never really been dramatized (to my knowledge) outside of Seymour Barab’s 1981 opera skit of the same name. I’m not suggesting I’m breaking new ground here, far from it, just a wonder why it has never been done.
My version is updated, with characters named Melia (from the original poem) and Martha, who meet by chance at a small bistro in a large, unnamed city. Melia isn’t a prostitute or a gentleman’s mistress as it is suggested in Hardy’s original work, but rather a woman whom society views as “ruined” in another way.
Here is just a peek at A Reunion.
ACT I Scene 1 At rise we see the outdoor seating area of a small bistro or cafe in a large city. A wrought iron fence surrounds the dining area along with a bench on the far SL side. Several tables are all on the patio, but all are vacant save one. MELIA sits alone at this table, sipping a coffee. Melia is a young woman, in her mid 20s, with very short hair. She has piercings (maybe her lip or eyebrow or "snake bites"), is very "rock and roll or maybe a "hipster". She is seated in front of a small computer (a Mac obviously), hard at work. MARTHA enters from SR. She is a contrast to Melia, although the same age. Where as Melia is clad very much in urban hip fashion, Martha’s dress is quite the opposite. Cheap cloths, made from cheap fabrics. She has long hair compared to Melia’s short. Where one is blonde, the other is brunette. Where one is short, the other is tall. Martha is clutching some plastic shopping bags, clearly labeled MACY’S, along with her purse with all she has. She is clearly afraid of something. Is it the big city? Is it being alone? Or is she simply lost and overwhelmed? She pauses and looks around again, then lets out a big sigh. She tucks her bags and purse under her arm and struggles with unfolding a map, but a wind gust comes up and blows the map free from her hands. She starts to chase it, but one of her Macy’s bags begins to slip free from her arm and she stops to grab it and watches as her map flies away. MARTHA oh Fu...dge! She sighs and sits down, dejected. The bags she had been so fiercely protecting, she places at her feet, no longer even caring about them. Melia has been watching this, with a bemused expression, but as soon as Martha speaks, Melia’s expression changes. A confused look. Almost asking herself silently "do I know this girl?" Melia leans forward. MELIA Martha? Martha Kunstler? Martha looks up, confused and looks to the strange woman seated behind her. Her eyes wide. (CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 2. MARTHA Melia Hardy! Melia forgets her coffee and her work, Martha forgets her fears and her bags and they embrace, reaching over the railing to each other and embracing. MARTHA How long has it been? 5 years? Melia smiles, her eyes flashing a little as she does the mental math. MELIA Almost, graduation was the last time I saw anyone back home. MARTHA You haven’t been home in 5 years? MELIA why would I go home, there was never anything for me there? MARTHA Didn’t you miss your friends or your family? You know I see your mom every Sunday... But before Martha can continue, Melia cuts her off. MELIA They kicked me out Marti