the family unit: a one-act play without words

CAST OF CHARACTERS:ACTORS in Theater Artaud production (6/90):
the FAMILY UNITGuarneri String Quartet
the BABYGary Coleman
a RESTAURANTdesigned by Henson/Giger, played by W. Snipes
a POLEGeorge Coates

The scene is laid in Anytown, U.S.A.

An empty, grey, featureless room, with exits right and left. Enter the FAMILY UNIT, stage left, slowly revolving. The UNIT makes its way to the center of the room, then stops, continuing to revolve.

After about half a minute the FAMILY UNIT starts to stride purposefully around the room. The UNIT moves and gestures as if interacting with bits of invisible, unintelligible furniture and consumer electronic components. Eventually the UNIT ends up in the front of the stage, facing the back wall, no longer revolving, and sits down. Brief (half-minute) tableau.

Suddenly, the BABY is thrown in a long arc from stage right, landing on the FAMILY UNIT. The UNIT is shocked and immediately separates into its four identical COMPONENTS, distinguishable only by timbre. The COMPONENTS run frantically about the room, tossing the BABY from each to each (as in "Hot Potato").

After a minute, THIRD COMPONENT stops and motions for other COMPONENTS to stop. THIRD COMPONENT throws the BABY out the left exit. COMPONENTS stare after the BABY, then merge to form the FAMILY UNIT again. The UNIT returns to its location at front of stage, sitting down, facing the back wall. Brief tableau.

Again the BABY is thrown from stage right. The UNIT separates into COMPONENTS, but this time is not so confused; FIRST COMPONENT simply lobs the BABY offstage left. The UNIT reforms, returns to front of stage. Brief tableau.

Again the BABY is thrown onto the UNIT, which immediately heaves it offstage left without breaking up. One-minute tableau.

The FAMILY UNIT starts to appear restless, vibrates and stands up. Out-of-focus, barely-recognizable pictures of various rich foods (e.g. turkey dripping fat, triple chocolate cake, sundaes, etc.) are projected onto back wall. The UNIT, suddenly decisive, tramps around room, ends up again at front of stage but facing right. The UNIT sits down as if in a vehicle and pantomimes driving.

As the FAMILY UNIT drives, the POLE runs on and off stage from right to left, ten times; the first time jogging, the next few times running faster (as the FAMILY UNIT accelerates). The last two times the POLE jogs again as the FAMILY UNIT decelerates. Finally, the POLE walks on stage from right to center, slowly, followed at same pace by the RESTAURANT--a sort of gaping maw containing many long, slimy tentacles serving as tongues. The RESTAURANT slows and stops on the right hand side as the POLE slows and stops in the center.

The FAMILY UNIT pantomimes getting out of the car and sits down across the stage from the RESTAURANT (to the left of the POLE). The RESTAURANT extrudes menus from within its maw on four tentacles, throwing them at the UNIT. The UNIT separates into COMPONENTS, catches the menus, and peruses them.

After a minute, the COMPONENTS let go of the menus, which retract on their tentacles into the RESTAURANT like measuring tape. The COMPONENTS fidget hungrily.

After two minutes four plates covered with silver domes are extruded from the RESTAURANT on tentacles, and thrown to the COMPONENTS. The COMPONENTS catch the plates and uncover them one by one; FIRST COMPONENT has filet mignon, SECOND COMPONENT has grilled salmon, THIRD COMPONENT has a mushroom burger with fries. FOURTH COMPONENT uncovers plate to discover the BABY. Aghast, the COMPONENT throws the BABY back into the RESTAURANT. The FAMILY UNIT forms and makes as if to leave.

The RESTAURANT throws back the BABY, this time extruding it directly from a tentacle. The FAMILY UNIT throws the BABY back into the RESTAURANT. The RESTAURANT re-extrudes the BABY, the FAMILY UNIT throws it back, etc., several times.

The RESTAURANT throws the BABY in such a way that its tentacle catches on the POLE and winds around it. The FAMILY UNIT throws the baby back around the POLE in reverse, unwinding the tentacle, but it rewinds around the POLE the other way. The UNIT throws the BABY back around the POLE, and the tentacle unwinds and rewinds.

Shrugging resignedly, the UNIT separates into its COMPONENTS and begins playing tetherball with the BABY as...

© 1997-2001 Narciso Jaramillo mechanisms | dyslexikon | nj's face