A Play in One Table - Part 1 of ?

I think it would be interesting to have a play where the entire thing is a conversation across a table. Because just a single conversation can be intense. I thought of this quite a while ago, but no great ideas came to me. Today, I shall begin the work.

I've been researching comics recently because a friend of mine connected me with an illustrator. He has an idea for a comic book series and needs a writer. So, now I'm working on writing a comic book. There's a superhero comic book that I came across a few days ago, Venom #10, where there is an intense conversation at a booth in a restaurant. It's a lot like how I imagined this play going.

I thought it might be more of a unique idea to have a story focused just on a conversation at a table. Alas, it has been done. I also realized at that same store that my idea about mercenary superheroes is already a thing too. It's funny to think of something new, and then find out someone already thought of it a long time ago. It's amazing how rare it is to come up with something truly unique. I'm not sure if this play idea is, although I've never heard of one like this before.

The other night I was thinking about how this could begin. This will just be a start. More will come.

- - - - - - -

Man sitting in booth at restaurant reading newspaper. Modern gangster/mobster feel.
Kid slides into seat across from him.

man - "Who are you?"
kid - "Jack."
man - "Well, Jack. What are you doing?"
kid - "I want to hire you."
man - "Listen kid. That spot, that's a spot where men sit. You're not a man. Get out, maybe come back when you are."

Man looks at newspaper again.
Kid says nothing, doesn't move.
Man looks up.

man - "I'm not used to repeating myself."
kid - "You're right. I'm not a man."

- - - - - - -

Alright, so many decisions to make. We could have the man not look up at any point and ignore the kid, or look up only when the kid doesn't leave to signal that he's paying attention now, or look up at the beginning, look down when he's dismissed, and then up again when the kid doesn't leave. So many little decisions that give the story and characters a different feel.

I'm not sure at this point if I want the kid to really sell this thing, or if I want a little more tension to build, or if I want the man to be dismissive again in a nice fatherly/grandfatherly way. The kid could say he's not a man, he's a kid, that's why this thing shouldn't have happened to him. Or, he's not a man, his father was a man, but now his father's dead. Or, he's not a man, but he wants to hire him anyway. The kid could have a little money saved for it, or none, or a lot that he stole, or a lot from a life insurance policy. Many options, but I'll leave those for next time.

Here's the basic idea. The kid wants to hire this mobster to do something bad to someone. We have to get some good motivation in here. Maybe it is abuse and/or betrayal. Then the kid is seeking revenge. Maybe the kid is trying to protect someone, or himself. Maybe he appeals to the justice side of the man.

The key to this idea is that it's going to be storytelling. It needs to be great storytelling, in the writing and the acting. The man will tell a story to demonstrate to the kid why it's a bad idea to seek revenge, or to kill people, or whatever. The kid will tell a story about what happened and what is happening. If the man is convinced then he will tell a story about what will happen. I want to cover a range of times here: once upon a time, past, present, and future. I think it will be really interesting to cover the time spectrum.

That's the basic idea anyway. It's quite the challenge. I'm drawing from my experience in Toastmasters to be able to tell stories that are captivating just in the telling. You could go a different direction with it. As in, you could have the table set up at one end of the stage and go through a scene. Then, darken that side of the stage and have actors at the other end of the stage work out a scene. This would be perfect for flashbacks to show the memories that the man and kid are talking about. That would be cool too, but I like the idea of a minimalist play that just involves two people sitting at a table. Time will reveal how the work goes.


You can find more of what I'm doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com


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