Author: E-Merging
ISBN 13: 978-0595346592:   ISBN 13: 978-1448634392:  ISBN 13: 978-1442184183

Click Here To Purchase Stage THIS! Volume 3: Monologues, Short Solo Plays and 10-Minute Plays

A short play is like a poem in contrast to a novel: both generally deal with the human condition but one encapsulates while the other elaborates. The short plays collected in the three volumes of “Stage This!,” compiled by the NYC-based E-Merging Writers, are a fascinating collection of stage-intended encapsulations.  Humor, pathos, epiphanies, communication breakdowns and repairs between generations and genders: these three volumes portray it all in a precise and winning way.

Many of these plays were previously produced and granted awards, which is no great wonder.  For one thing, the humor is distinctly adult – not in terms of crudity but intelligence (which incidentally makes these collections stand in stark contrast to a collection such as “Laugh Lines,” which deals almost solely in low-brow sexual humor).

For instance, the one-man play, “A Slight Limp – The Later Life and Adventures of Tiny Tim” (volume 3), features an adult version of the beloved Dickens character who isn’t so sure he is glad about Scrooge’s change of heart, especially since becoming famous, he is constantly asked by strangers to repeat a certain line:

“Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if people could at least get the saying right, but I’m constantly getting request for things like ‘God bless everybody all the time.’ But wait, it gets even balmier, sometimes they ask me for, ‘Please sir, can I have some more.’  ‘It is a far, far better thing I do.’  ‘Out damn spot!’  ‘Oh Heathcliff!  I’ll meet you in the Heather.’ And occasionally even, ‘Looky there, Gretel!  I think I sees me a gingerbread house!’  Bloody uneducated dolts.”

This is not to say that none of the comedy is dark: some of it is, especially in the quirky “Our Little Angel” (volume 2) where two apparently intelligent, caring parents start a no holds (or insults) barred fight over their two year-old daughter’s Halloween candy, finally waking up their exhausted child so they can replenish “their” supply.  The straight-laced protagonist of “The Librarian,” a one-woman play from volume 3, has very distinctive reasons for stealing books, pocketing fines, and putting certain substances into certain books.

Published side by side to the hilarious plays are those which move one to tears just by reading them -- what power they must emote from the stage is difficult to fathom -- such as one dealing with lynching in the pre-Civil Rights south called “Piney Ridge” and another called “All the Way” (both from volume 3) which initially appears to be about a 70 year-old man hiring a prostitute in a hotel for a sexual encounter when what he wants is something totally different and completely heartbreaking

Which brings up a fascinating aspect of the plays in these collections: a good number of them feature people in their 70’s.  No ageism here: they are all treated with respect.  If a grandmother doesn’t understand how to use a computer (“New Tricks”, volume one), we can laugh at her ignorance, her hunger for company, and the technological gap between her and her techie grandson but we aren’t led to disrespect her.  The same goes for the plays “Orange Sunsets” and “Moonshine on the Rocks” (both in volume 2) whose aging protagonists are dealing with romantic memories and long-term love.

Some of the plays deal directly with the acting life and the insights into that life are hilarious.  For instance, in “Bodkin” (volume 3), an extremely rude producer at a restaurant looking for an edgy new Hamlet pushes a waiter/actor a little too far and ends up in the middle of a somewhat violent audition.  In “Goodbye New York” (volume 2), an exhausted actor has this to say about the acting life:

“We’re forced to work meaningless, demeaning jobs, serving huge piles of disgusting smelling food to suit-and-ties for 11-hour doubles, all the while trying to convince Bill to trade shifts with you so you can audition for that crappy play written by John Guare’s cousin’s girlfriend.  Then if you’re lucky enough to actually get the show, you sell your soul for hours and hours of free labor . . . The play sucks, everyone knows it, the actors know it, the director knows it, even the playwright knows it sucks, but you do it anyway, all for the slightest chance that someone will see you, someone important, who for some mystical reason has the God-like power to point their finger at you and say, ‘He deserves better than this.  I’m going to make him a star.’”

These collections are full of star material which would greatly enrich anyone’s library . . . or stage.

Click Here To Purchase Stage THIS! Volume 3: Monologues, Short Solo Plays and 10-Minute Plays