The Meta Plays
An Anthology of Short Plays that take Theatrical Conventions on a Metaphysical Joyride
The compilation can be performed by as few as 4 actors or as many as 18, all with minimal set and prop requirements. Approx. 100 minutes
The following plays are included in the anthology:
1M/1F Approx. 10 minutes
It’s Act 2, Scene 3 in another night’s performance of a less-than-riveting romantic drama. As the two young leads navigate their turgid love scene, employing all their dramatic skills in an attempt to breathe life into their two-dimensional characters, another, far more gripping story is unfolding just beneath the surface. Despite a mutual loathing of each other, a devotion to the craft ensures that the show will go on; but the inner dialogues that play out inside each of them reveal a far different narrative than the one being played out on the stage.
A Flawed Character
2 Any Age/Race/Gender Combination Approx. 10 minutes
The playwright creates the first character of his new play, but soon after the entire process grinds to a halt. As time marches on and the play continues to stagnate, the character’s patience begins to wear thin. As frustration turns into animosity and antagonism, the playwright begins to realize that perhaps this is one relationship that was never meant to be. But what’s a writer to do?
The Skewed Picture
1M/1F Approx. 10 minutes
Bob and Betty have settled in for a quiet night at home. That is, until Bob makes a startling discovery that has the potential to reshape their entire existence…or at least their living room. The realization that a parallel universe could be staring them in the face forces them to question just who exactly these people might be, and more importantly, why they're there.
1M/1F Approx. 10 minutes
Two characters come to realize that the extended scene written for them in the middle of the play has no intrinsic value, does nothing to propel the story forward, and to all intents and purposes is completely extraneous. Their raison d’être pulled from under them, can they still maintain their credibility and sanity through several pages of what’s little more than filler?
The Curious Art of Critique
2M/1F Approx. 15 minutes
When reaction to his work on a new drama appears tepid at best, the director decides he must tackle the problem head-on and root out whatever it is that’s leaving the audience unmoved. One way or another, the evening seems destined to end in tears.
What's the Meta?
2 Any Age/Race/Gender Combination Approx. 10 minutes
Two written parts await to be brought to life on a stage. One of them, however, is found to be mired in a crisis of self-worth due to the size and quality of their role. The larger, more developed part must then attempt to convince its smaller counterpart of just how necessary they both are to the production that is soon to begin, and of the true and indisputable collaborative nature of theatre.
A Rebel Among the Wretched
1M/2F Approx. 10 minutes
A celebrated, multi-award winning dysfunctional family drama continues to enthrall audiences night after night. But what happens when one of the characters finally decides they’ve had enough doom and despair and resolves to leave the play to join…a musical?
2M Approx. 10 minutes
It’s the end of the evening and two actors pack up their belongings and prepare to leave the theatre. While one of them felt the show went great, the other is left with the uneasy feeling that the final scene didn’t quite deliver. Was his performance to blame, or was it the play’s deus ex machina, which is not only highly implausible but also oddly familiar?
3M/1F or 2M/2F Approx. 90 minutes
After thirty years of arid matrimony and suburban monotony, Mrs. Pennington-South’s only dream was that her son, Cuthbert, would break free of the cycle of upper-middle class inertia that had suffocated her. Raising him in the hope that he was homosexual, she soon begins dragging home potential suitors for tea – on this particular occasion a rather shy, awkward young man named Tristram. Cuthbert, however, finds he can no longer maintain his façade and at last confesses to his mother his guilty secret: his heterosexuality.
When Cuthbert leaves to meet Trixie, his new female friend, Mrs. Pennington-South – heartbroken but accepting – takes solace in the company of Tristram, and a mutual love of the arts soon leads to a new found friendship. After several weeks, however, Tristram’s feelings take on more amorous overtones, and a confession of love for a woman almost thirty years his senior sends Mrs. Pennington-South into a state of emotional turmoil. Her anxiety is further heightened by the unexpected arrival of Cuthbert, merrily announcing that he has brought Trixie home for an introduction, and of the “big news” they wish to impart.
Mrs. Pennington-South, mortified at having to face the reality of her son’s lifestyle choice, fearfully awaits the dreaded Trixie. Nothing, however, could have prepared her for what would come next.
A Ballyhoo in Blighty
4M / 5F (Roles can be doubled for a 2M/2F cast configuration) Approx. 90 minutes
The multi-award winning, critically acclaimed Indigenous Peoples (Winner “Best Play” – New York's Wonderland One-Act Festival, 2007) is paired with three other cheeky, uproarious comedies for an evening of unforgettable, side-splitting entertainment.
Indigenous Peoples: Over a bottle of wine, Roger and Caroline embark upon an awkward discussion regarding the lack of intimacy in their relationships with others. Later, as nature calls, Caroline's fear of being overheard while relieving herself compels her to venture further afield in search of a more private area in which to avail herself. Terror strikes, however, when she is convinced that she's been bitten by a snake - also in a private area. Too far from help, Roger attempts to remove the venom in the only way he knows how, sending Caroline reeling from desperation to exultation, and inadvertently shifting their relationship to a level of intimacy that had once seemed unattainable.
Also included are:
The Man Who Liked Dick: Douglas and Felicity have just thrown a small welcoming soiree for their new neighbours, Richard and his wife. Whilst Felicity couldn't have been more appalled by their glaring lack of class and social status, Douglas finds himself rather taken by their humble lack of airs and graces. When Richard reappears on their doorstep, however, in search of a runaway cat, it soon transpires that first impressions aren't always the ones that count.
Kitchen Sink Drama: Elaine’s husband has made a lurid confession that’s thrown her neat and tidy, albeit dreary existence into complete turmoil. Seeking solace and guidance, she decides to share her shocking discovery with her estranged, capricious sister, Joy. What the unsuspecting Joy doesn’t realise, however, is that she’s about to make a shocking discovery of her own.
Carbon-Based Life Form Seeks Similar: Leslie’s decided to give love another try, but in a world of shameless self-promotion, pre-packaged personalities, and artificial body parts, can someone still be loved simply for who they are, or do happy endings only exist in massage parlors?
Arcane Acts of Urban Renewal
Five One-Act Comedies
A collection of five thematically related, darkly humorous one-act plays in which ordinary people find themselves in the most extraordinary circumstances.
Approx. 100 minutes
The following plays are included in the collection:
An Honest Mistake
1M/1F Approx 15 minutes
Madge has long since surrendered herself to the verbal abuse doled out to her by her belligerent husband, Stan. On this particular evening, however, her fears of a rat beneath the floorboards, combined with her absent-mindedness, result in her dishing up Stan not only his evening meal – but also his just deserts!
A Familiar Face
2F Approx. 25 minutes
Two elderly women, old friends, meet up in a London café shortly after one them – Dora – has been widowed. As Dora's grief and anger intensifies, her good friend Eydie begins to suspect there may be more to her angst than the loss of a loved one. When Dora calmly removes from her shopping bag a large glass jar containing a human head, discussions over its mysterious identity, and how it came to be lodged in the cupboard under her stairs lead to some startling revelations.
A Slip of the Tongue
1M/1F Approx. 10 minutes
Miss Perkins, tired of the constant innuendos and sexual insinuations of her employer, Mr. Reams, has decided to hand in her notice. On this particular morning, however, Mr. Reams decides to take things one step further. Unfortunately, due to Miss Perkins’ nervous disposition and a telephone that rings at a disturbingly high pitch, he soon discovers he’s bitten off more than he can chew…or at least, one of them has.
An Embarrassing Odour
1M/1F Approx. 15 minutes
Ethel, a widowed pensioner, sits down one evening to tackle her daily crossword puzzle. Suddenly her tranquil world is turned upside down when a burglar enters her home believing it to be unoccupied. As Ethel vainly attempts to forge a relationship with the violent delinquent before her, his concerns lie only with getting his hands on her valuables…that and the unpleasant smell that fills the room. What is that smell?
A Stunning Confession
1M/1F Approx. 25 minutes
During an evening in front of the television a staid married couple suddenly find themselves having to confront a new reality.
A Private Practice
3M/2F Approx. 70 minutes
Dr. Pecksniff, a most singular psychiatrist, is relishing the prospect of fleecing yet another unsuspecting troubled soul - on this occasion a gullible housewife with a crumbling self-image and a sizable nest egg. Seizing on her admittance of a penchant for romance novels, Pecksniff convinces his patient, Mrs. Flagg, of her imminent slide into moral turpitude, offering salvation through his own unique, very expensive (and battery-assisted) approach to mental health.
6M/1F Approx. 90 minutes
May, 1953. Stalin has just died and the Cold War is in full swing. As relations between East and West continue to deteriorate, the race is on to research and develop the most advanced nuclear and biochemical weaponry, all beneath a heavy cloak of secrecy.
A young RAF Leading Aircraftman, meanwhile, has answered an advertisement looking for volunteers for tests to find a cure for the common cold. For fifteen shillings and a precious three-day pass, it was an offer that Ronald Maddison couldn’t refuse. The reality of what he was letting himself in for, however, was something he couldn’t have imagined in his worst nightmares. This is his story.
The Treachery of Images
1M/1F Approx. 75 minutes
After a young student is brutally raped and murdered, her parents, Tom and Christine, are confronted with the daunting task of processing their grief and attempting to come to terms with the horror that befell their child. The paths they take in doing so, however, couldn't be starker in contrast. Christine has withdrawn into a deadened world of suppressed rage and bitterness that has left her incapable of seeing beyond the terrible tragedy that has visited her. Her husband, Tom, on the other hand, has taken the unusual step of publicly announcing his forgiveness of their daughter's killer.
At the most difficult moment in their lives, a wedge has been driven between them, threatening to destroy the only thing they have left - each other. On this explosive evening of final reckoning, as home truths and simmering resentments are laid bare, each will learn painful, often brutal lessons on both the nature of forgiveness and the treachery of images.
Lost in Fairyland
2M Approx. 80 minutes
Lost in Fairyland follows the burgeoning relationship between a loquacious rent boy and a less-than-typical john. Through their divergent approaches to life, the play takes a head-on look at the costs of defining ourselves through our sexuality, and asks what it really means to “fit in.”
5M/3F Approx. 90 minutes
Valentine’s parents have decided that the time has come at last for their son to make his own way in the world. Valentine, accustomed to a life of cosseted seclusion, isn’t so keen on the idea. But go he must, and soon he finds himself venturing forth into the vast world beyond. His new adventure is soon drawn to a halt, however, when he is mugged at gunpoint. Frightened and exhausted, he seeks shelter at a bed and breakfast establishment run by the dour Mrs. Anna.
Here Valentine encounters a Bosnian woman with a hole where her stomach used to be, an American entrepreneur with a scheme to implant televisions into people’s heads, and a Catholic priest who attempts to lure him down inside a kitchen sink. Then things start getting strange…
The Most Interesting Man in the Whole Wide World
1M/3F Approx. 90 minutes
Horatio Higgins recently lost his job. He also lost his parents, so he claims, though the precise cause of their demise remains something of an enigma. Living alone in his tiny flat, Horatio’s sense of isolation is mitigated only by a near-continual dialogue with himself and by the companionship of what he affectionately describes as “my wife.”
Things change, however, when he encounters a sweet, impressionable young woman named Nore. As their relationship lurches unsteadily forward, Horatio finds himself struggling against a riptide of conflicting realities that he is ill-equipped to cope with until events at last overtake him and a new yet oddly familiar reality emerges.
“Imaginative and energetically written.” -- Royal Court Theatre, London
3M/5F Approx. 90 minutes
Leah’s just won the lottery in what she describes as “the biggest single, one-time cash haul in this here dirt-poor, shitty state’s history!” But, rather than living the highlife, Leah decides to split the winnings among her three daughters, asking only for a deathbed-style declaration of love in return. When her youngest daughter, Patina, scoffs at the idea, Leah disowns her with vitriolic fury. Bestowing instead the prize money upon her two eldest daughters, her dreams of a pampered retirement in the arms of her offspring for herself and her close companion, Pearl, seem guaranteed. Things soon turn sour, however, as long-held grievances and newfound wealth lead to familial treachery, violence and death.
Greed, lust, drugs, and Capodimonte combust in this low-rent, Southern fried twist on a literary classic.
Kitchen Sink Drama
2M/2F Approx. 90 minutes
Elaine Wavering has tired of life. What started as an uphill battle has now devolved into a seemingly endless repetition of stagnant middle-class routine. On one particular morning, however, her regimented husband, Graham, confesses – under pressure – to having experienced a homoerotic dream the previous night, throwing her neat and tidy, albeit oppressive existence into complete disarray. Simultaneously, a rupture in the waste-disposal unit of their kitchen sink inadvertently leads to a shocking and entirely unexpected unraveling of their marital house of cards.
Seeking solace and guidance from her semi-estranged sister, Joy, Elaine must now confront her life head on and make decisions that until now would have been unthinkable.