Take a moment from your day–any moment–and pretend you’re writing the beginning of a play, which includes Dramatis Personae (the cast), stage information (props, lighting), dialogue and stage directions. What does this structuring do to your area? Do you see things that you previously didn’t see? What kind of theatre would this be performed in?
Length: 2 pages
Set The Stage
The Roberts home is located in the Detroit suburbs. It’s a modest house, forty years old, but well maintained. It’s occupied by a family of four: Earl 41, Bess 39, Paul 14, and Wendy 11. The dining room is illuminated by a four-bulb fixture centered over a blonde dining table with six matching chairs. An archway leads into the kitchen. To the left is Bess’ china cabinet. Behind the glass is a partial set of her grandmother’s dishes. To the left is a matching chest with four drawers filled with table cloths, napkins, holiday placemats, and linens.
Earl’s place is with his back to the china cabinet and directly across is Bess with her back to the foyer and a heavy oak door leading onto a large porch with a swing.
Earl is employed at a nearby Chevrolet assembly plant. It’s the only job he’s ever had and if Paul hadn’t suffered serious birth defects they would be on easy street by now. But bills have kept the family on a straight and narrow budget. They could afford only used cars during these past 14 years. Earl has never shared the fact that being a General Motors employee entitled him to a large discount when purchasing a new Chevrolet. They simply could not afford the car payments and insurance premiums. That is, until this December evening.
Earl is dishing himself a general serving of mashed potatoes when he makes an announcement: “It’s almost Christmas. What say we treat ourselves to a new Chevrolet this year?”
His announcement is met with a dead silence. No one is serving food. No one is eating.
“Can we afford to do that?” Bess asks, her voice displaying more excitement than her face.
“Yes we can. I’ve gone over the number again and again. We can afford it,” Earl assures her. “Does anyone have a preference to what we should buy?”
“Let’s get a convertible,” blurts Paul.
“A convertible? Paul, do you realize this is Michigan and we have a foot of snow in the front yard?” Bess says.
“Well, summer is just around the corner.” he assures her.
Bess rolls her eyes.
“I think we should buy a small pink car,” Wendy suggests.
“Well that makes more sense than a convertible,” laughs Earl, cutting a piece off his hamburger patty and stabbing it with his fork. “We haven’t heard from you, Bess.”
“I think a station wagon would be nice,” she suggests.
“Mom, they don’t make station wagons anymore. They make SUVs now.” said Paul.
“Be nice, Paul.”
“Sorry Mom,” he says, digging into a serving bowl of whole kernel corn.
“Well, we can’t just go buy it. We have to order it. So I stopped by a dealership and grabbed a bunch of color brochures. After dinner we’ll narrow it down. How’s that?” Earl suggests.
The conversation stops. Everyone is digging in.
Earl smiles. He hasn’t seen this much cooperation in months.