ImpromptuBy Mary Tonne Schaefer
December 18, 2017
On May 4, 2006, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency published a list essay by Dan Wiencek called “Thirteen Writing Prompts.” Prompt #1: “Write a scene showing a man and a woman arguing over the man’s friendship with a former girlfriend. Do not mention the girlfriend, the man, the woman, or the argument.”
[We are off, off, off, off, off Broadway. We are actually in New Jersey.]
Overture: “Frankie and Johnnie,” by Sam Cooke (YouTube video version.) [Audience hopefully sees Program Note* on the flier provided by Trenton’s Tremendous Pork Roll.]
Act 1, Scene 1, Curtain opens as audience glimpses—through kitchen window—a view of shadowy shapes darting, dishes crashing, unintelligible shouts.
Off Stage Narrator Voice 1 speaks one of the six optional opening line(s), selected nightly per Director’s whim and written In the style of [and with profuse apologies to]:
1. [Ernest Hemingway, “Fifty Grand”] “Brutal, just brutal, like sittin’ ringside watchin’ yer last fifty bucks take a dive with a busted-up loser.”
2. [Carl Sandburg, “Fog”] “Anger comes on feral feet … never moving on.”
3. [Dashiell Hammett, The Thin Man] “The problem with putting one and one together is that sometimes you get two and sometimes you get three … and sometimes you get one.”
4. [Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Number 43”] “Who hasn’t loved thee? Let us count the broads.”
5. [Anne Rice, Interview with The Vampire] “Lust is one of those emotions that can stir your blood or suck it. The same can be said of a vampire.”
6. [Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat] “‘It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how.’ Anger looms in the shape of the I’ve-Caught-You-Now.”
Off Stage Narrator Voice 2 bellows, menacingly, following above-selected option: “Shut the fuck up!”
Shadowy shapes mute immediately, simultaneous with Scurrying Exit, Stage Left, as lights go down.
*Backstage Tech. usually clicks Skip Ad before You Tube sound comes up. Note to audience: If our Tech is a little slow, and a commercial plays, we thank you for suspending your disbelief. Some nights she’s working on homework right up to curtain time.
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