I'm taking a playwriting class this quarter in school, and the professor will occasionally give up prompts or challenges to write with. The challenge for this piece was the following:
The Directors Challenge: It consists mostly of directors notes with at least 1 character (3 max), 1 table, 1 rubber ball, 1 chair, only 5 spoken words at the most, and 4 light cues.
(Note: the italicized parts are supposed to be tabbed 7 spaces to the right, but it didn't paste that way and it would take a while to space everything without being able to tab... regular font is actual lines)
Finnian…….. weighed down by memories.
Child…. A being of comfort to Finnian.
Playwright’s Note: some of this work was inspired by Phil Rey - Echoing (ft. Felicia Farerre)
At Rise: The lights slowly fade in. Just a single, dim, spotlight shines upon Finnian, a person of any age, who is sitting in a chair next to a table. They are center stage, facing stage left. There is a single, medium sized rubber ball sitting on the table in front of them. These are all that occupy the space.
FINNIAN is staring at the table, hands in lap and shoulders slumped. They glance at the ball, and then back at the table.
(Soft music begins to play, a New Age type of sound)
They look at the ball again, this time slowly reaching out for it. Rolling it around on the table and making small little bounces causes a change in FINNIAN’s posture. Their back straightens and we see a small smile come onto their face.
(The music begins to play slightly louder.)
Their playing gets a little faster paced. The ball is being rolled around and bounced a lot more. Suddenly, they pick it up and bounce it towards the other end of the table, as if expecting someone to catch it. The ball bounces off the table and rolls towards stage left. FINNIAN’s hands are still up, waiting to catch it, but it never comes. They slowly lower their arms and the smile falls from their face. Shoulders slump as they place hands back into their lap and return to staring at the table.
(The music fades and we are left in silence).
A few moments pass, when suddenly we hear a bouncing as the ball bounces back towards FINNIAN. FINNIAN looks up, turning their head to look at the ball resting on the floor by the table. They stand, looking at the ball for a second, before bending down and retrieving it.
(Music begins playing again, more of an upbeat tune now.)
They study the ball in their hand for another moment, look up at the other end of the stage, then throw the ball on the floor as it bounces and staring intently at the darkness of the other end. A few seconds pass, and the ball bounces back again. (Enter CHILD)
(The single spotlight is now joined by a slightly brighter amber light that covers more of the stage.)
A young child skips in from stage left wearing a white outfit, something that will make them appear to glow. Their eyes are bright as they giggle and hold out their hands to receive the ball again from where they stand several feet away from the table.
FINNIAN stares in wonder at the CHILD, before raising their hand to throw the ball. They hesitate, afraid this being is just an illusion created by a lonely mind. The CHILD claps playfully and runs over to FINNIAN, booping their nose, and running to the other side of the table. The action is like that of a puppy, ready to play.
With a genuine smile coming back to their face, FINNIAN finally throws the ball to the CHILD, who catches it and bounces it back. This goes on for a while, constantly alternating between bouncing and throwing the ball as they run around the stage.
They use the table and chair, sometimes standing on the chair, and often aiming to bounce the ball on the table. After about a minute or two of playing, FINNIAN finally grows tired and sits back down in the chair. The CHILD props themselves up on the table, swinging their legs back and forth as they continue throwing the ball up and down and bouncing it on the floor. A silence passes as the music slowly begins to fade away. FINNIAN watches the CHILD, looking relaxed and content.
(the lights slowly begin to fade)
The CHILD stops bouncing the ball and offers it to FINNIAN with a smile on their face.
Please don’t forget…
FINNIAN reaches for the ball and holds onto the CHILD’s hand with both of their own, looking them in the eye with gratitude.
(music fades out with lights)
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