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Scenes

2007 -- "scene study in Intermediate Acting"

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Comedy:

2-1 WWWilde

[ in class, used in acting1 ]
Garden at the Manor House. A flight of grey stone steps leads up to the house. The garden, an old-fashioned one, full of roses. Time of year, July. Basket chairs, and a table covered with books, are set under a large yew-tree.

[MISS PRISM discovered seated at the table. CECILY is at the back watering flowers.]

MISS PRISM. [Calling.] Cecily, Cecily! Surely such a utilitarian occupation as the watering of flowers is rather Moulton's duty than yours? Especially at a moment when intellectual pleasures await you. Your German grammar is on the table. Pray open it at page fifteen. We will repeat yesterday's lesson.

CECILY. [Coming over very slowly.] But I don't like German. It isn't at all a becoming language. I know perfectly well that I look quite plain after my German lesson.

MISS PRISM. Child, you know how anxious your guardian is that you should improve yourself in every way. He laid particular stress on your German, as he was leaving for town yesterday. Indeed, he always lays stress on your German when he is leaving for town.

CECILY. Dear Uncle Jack is so very serious! Sometimes he is so serious that I think he cannot be quite well

MISS PRISM. [Drawing herself up.] Your guardian enjoys the best of health, and his gravity of demeanour is especially to be commanded in one so comparatively young as he is. I know no one who has a higher sense of duty and responsibility.

CECILY. I suppose that is why he often looks a little bored when we three are together.

MISS PRISM. Cecily! I am surprised at you. Mr. Worthing has many troubles in his life. Idle merriment and triviality would be out of place in his conversation. You must remember his constant anxiety about that unfortunate young man his brother.

CECILY. I wish Uncle Jack would allow that unfortunate young man, his brother, to come down here sometimes. We might have a good influence over him, Miss Prism. I am sure you certainly would. You know German, and geology, and things of that kind influence a man very much. [CECILY begins to write in her diary.]

MISS PRISM. [Shaking her head.] I do not think that even I could produce any effect on a character that according to his own brother's admission is irretrievably weak and vacillating. Indeed I am not sure that I would desire to reclaim him. I am not in favour of this modern mania for turning bad people into good people at a moment's notice. As a man sows so let him reap. You must put away your diary, Cecily. I really don't see why you should keep a diary at all.

CECILY. I keep a diary in order to enter the wonderful secrets of my life. If I didn't write them down, I should probably forget all about them.

MISS PRISM. Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.

CECILY. Yes, but it usually chronicles the things that have never happened, and couldn't possibly have happened. I believe that Memory is responsible for nearly all the three-volume novels that Mudie sends us.

MISS PRISM. Do not speak slightingly of the three-volume novel, Cecily. I wrote one myself in earlier days.

CECILY. Did you really, Miss Prism? How wonderfully clever you are! I hope it did not end happily? I don't like novels that end happily. They depress me so much.

MISS PRISM. The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.

CECILY. I suppose so. But it seems very unfair. And was your novel ever published?

MISS PRISM. Alas! no. The manuscript unfortunately was abandoned. [CECILY starts.] I use the word in the sense of lost or mislaid. To your work, child, these speculations are profitless.

CECILY. [Smiling.] But I see dear Dr. Chasuble coming up through the garden.

[ Define : Climax. Conflic. Objectives for Cecily and Miss Prism. ... ]


The Importance of Being Earnest (Take2)

WWWilde 1-3

[ALGERNON goes forward to meet them. Enter LADY BRACKNELL and GWENDOLEN.]

LADY BRACKNELL. Good afternoon, dear Algernon, I hope you are behaving very well.

ALGERNON. I'm feeling very well, Aunt Augusta.

LADY BRACKNELL. That's not quite the same thing. In fact the two things rarely go together. [Sees JACK and bows to him with icy coldness.]

ALGERNON. [To GWENDOLEN.] Dear me, you are smart!

GWENDOLEN. I am always smart! Am I not, Mr. Worthing?

JACK. You're quite perfect, Miss Fairfax.

GWENDOLEN. Oh! I hope I am not that. It would leave no room for developments, and I intend to develop in many directions. [GWENDOLEN and JACK sit down together in the corner.]

LADY BRACKNELL. I'm sorry if we are a little late, Algernon, but I was obliged to call on dear Lady Harbury. I hadn't been there since her poor husband's death. I never saw a woman so altered; she looks quite twenty years younger. And now I'll have a cup of tea, and one of those nice cucumber sandwiches you promised me.

ALGERNON. Certainly, Aunt Augusta. [Goes over to tea-table.]

LADY BRACKNELL. Won't you come and sit here, Gwendolen?

GWENDOLEN. Thanks, mamma, I'm quite comfortable where I am.

ALGERNON. [Picking up empty plate in horror.] Good heavens! Lane! Why are there no cucumber sandwiches? I ordered them specially.

LANE. [Gravely.] There were no cucumbers in the market this morning, sir. I went down twice.

ALGERNON. No cucumbers!

LANE. No, sir. Not even for ready money.

ALGERNON. That will do, Lane, thank you.

LANE. Thank you, sir. [Goes out.]

ALGERNON. I am greatly distressed, Aunt Augusta, about there being no cucumbers, not even for ready money.

LADY BRACKNELL. It really makes no matter, Algernon. I had some crumpets with Lady Harbury, who seems to me to be living entirely for pleasure now.

ALGERNON. I hear her hair has turned quite gold from grief.

LADY BRACKNELL. It certainly has changed its colour. From what cause I, of course, cannot say. [ALGERNON crosses and hands tea.] Thank you. I've quite a treat for you to-night, Algernon. I am going to send you down with Mary Farquhar. She is such a nice woman, and so attentive to her husband. It's delightful to watch them.

ALGERNON. I am afraid, Aunt Augusta, I shall have to give up the pleasure of dining with you to-night after all.

LADY BRACKNELL. [Frowning.] I hope not, Algernon. It would put my table completely out. Your uncle would have to dine upstairs. Fortunately he is accustomed to that.

ALGERNON. It is a great bore, and, I need hardly say, a terrible disappointment to me, but the fact is I have just had a telegram to say that my poor friend Bunbury is very ill again. [Exchanges glances with JACK.] They seem to think I should be with him.

LADY BRACKNELL. It is very strange. This Mr. Bunbury seems to suffer from curiously bad health.

ALGERNON. Yes; poor Bunbury is a dreadful invalid.

LADY BRACKNELL. Well, I must say, Algernon, that I think it is high time that Mr. Bunbury made up his mind whether he was going to live or to die. This shilly-shallying with the question is absurd. Nor do I in any way approve of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life. I am always telling that to your poor uncle, but he never seems to take much notice . . . as far as any improvement in his ailment goes. I should be much obliged if you would ask Mr. Bunbury, from me, to be kind enough not to have a relapse on Saturday, for I rely on you to arrange my music for me. It is my last reception, and one wants something that will encourage conversation, particularly at the end of the season when every one has practically said whatever they had to say, which, in most cases, was probably not much.

ALGERNON. I'll speak to Bunbury, Aunt Augusta, if he is still conscious, and I think I can promise you he'll be all right by Saturday. Of course the music is a great difficulty. You see, if one plays good music, people don't listen, and if one plays bad music people don't talk. But I'll ran over the programme I've drawn out, if you will kindly come into the next room for a moment.

LADY BRACKNELL. Thank you, Algernon. It is very thoughtful of you. [Rising, and following ALGERNON.] I'm sure the programme will be delightful, after a few expurgations. French songs I cannot possibly allow. People always seem to think that they are improper, and either look shocked, which is vulgar, or laugh, which is worse. But German sounds a thoroughly respectable language, and indeed, I believe is so. Gwendolen, you will accompany me.

GWENDOLEN. Certainly, mamma.

[LADY BRACKNELL and ALGERNON go into the music-room, GWENDOLEN remains behind.]

[ block the scene -- mise-en-scene ]
floor plan

upstage

[1]

UR

[ls]

[2]

UC

[3]

UL

center

[4]

CR

[ms]

[5]

CC

[6]

CL

downstage

[7]

DR

[cu]

[8]

DC

[9]

DL

scene/monologue ____________

NOTES:



[ Drama -- The Possessed, based on Dostoevsky ]

Stavrogin and Maria Lebyatkin

Maria: May I kiss your hand?

Stavrogin: No. Not yet.

Maria: All right. Sit down in the light so I can see you.

(To reach the armchair, Stavrogin walks toward her. She crouches down with her arm raised as if to protect herself, an expression of fright on her face. Stavrogin stops.)

Stavrogin: I frightened you. Forgive me.

Maria: Never mind. No, I was wrong.

(Stavrogin sits down in the light. Maria screams.)

Stavrogin: Whatís the matter?

Maria: Nothing. Suddenly I didnít recognize you. It seemed to me that you were someone else. What are you holding in your hand?

Stavrogin: What hand?

Maria: Your right hand. Itís a knife!

Stavrogin: But look, my hand is empty.

Maria: Yes. Last night I saw in a dream a man who looked like my Prince, but it wasnít he. He was coming toward me with a knife. Ah! (She screams.) Are you the murderer from my dream or my Prince?

Stavrogin: You are not dreaming. Calm yourself.

Maria: If you are my Prince, the why donít you kiss me? To be sure, he never kissed me. But he was affectionate. I donít feel anything affectionate in you. On the other hand, there is something stirring in you that threatens me. He called me his dove. He gave me a ring. He said: ďLook at it in the evening and I will come to you in your sleep.Ē

Stavrogin: Where is the ring?

Maria: My brother drank it up. And now I am alone at night. Every nightÖ(She weeps.)

Stavrogin: Donít weep, Maria. From now on we shall live together.

Maria: Yes, your voice is soft now. And I recall. I know why you are telling me we shall live together. The other day in the carriage you told me that our marriage would be made public. But Iím afraid of that too. Iíll never know how to handle guests. I donít suit you at all. I know, there are servants. But I saw your family Ė all those ladies Ė at your house. They are the ones I donít suit.

Stavrogin: Did they do anything to hurt you?

Maria: Hurt? Not at all. I was watching you all. There you were, getting excited and bickering. You donít even know how to laugh freely when you are together. So much money and so little joy! Itís dreadful. No, I wasnít hurt. But I was sad. It seemed to me that you were ashamed of me. Yes, you were ashamed, and that morning you began to be more remote. Your very face changed. My Prince went away, and I was left with the man who scorned me, who perhaps hated me. No more kind words Ė just impatience, the knifeÖ

Stavrogin: Enough! You are mad!

Maria: Please, Prince, go outside and come back in. So that Iíll know who you are. For those five years I was waiting for him to come, I constantly imagined the way he would come in. Go outside and come back in as if you had just returned from a long absence, and then perhaps Iíll recognize you.

Stavrogin: Be quiet. Now, listen carefully. I want all your attention. Tomorrow, if I am still alive, I shall make our marriage public. We shall not live in my house. We shall go to Switzerland, to the mountains. We shall spend our whole lives in that gloomy, deserted spot. That is how I see things.

Maria: Yes, yes, you want to die, you are already burying yourself. But when you come to want to live again, you will want to get rid of me. No matter how! Because now I have recognized you and I know that you are not my Prince. He would not be ashamed of me. He would not hide me in the mountains. He would show me to everyone Ė yes, even that young lady who couldnít take her eyes off me the other day. No, you look very much like my Prince, but itís all overÖ I have seen through you. You want to make an impression on that young lady. You covet her.

Stavrogin: Will you listen to me? Cease this madness!

Maria: He never told me I was mad. He was a Prince, an eagle. He could fall at the feet of God if he wanted to, and not fall at the feet of God if he didnít want to. As for you, Shatov slapped you. You are a slave too.

Stavrogin: Look at me. Recognize me. I am your husband.

Maria: Let go of me, impostor. I donít fear your knife. He would have defended me against the whole world. You want my death because I am in your way.

Stavrogin: What have you said, you Wretch!

(He flings her backward. She falls and he rushes toward the door. She stumbles after him. But The Captain suddenly appears and holds her down while she screams.)

Maria: Assassin! Anathema! Assassin! (She recites a prayer.)

Homework

Do the breakdown in your scene (Actor's Text), bring extra copy to class for me.
Chekhov -- 2006 (farces)

On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco (1886, 1902) (On the Harm of Tobacco)

NYUKHIN: (He enters the stage with great dignity, wearing long side whiskers and worn-out flock coat. He bows majestically to his audience, adjusts his waistcoat, and speaks.)
Ladies and ... so to speak... gentlemen. It was suggested to my wife that I give a public ledture here for charity. Well, if I must, I must. It's all the same to me. I am not a professor and I've never finish the university. And yet, nevertheless, over the past thirty years I have been ruining my health by constant, unceasing examination of matters of strictly scientific nature. I am a man of intellectual curiosity, and, image, at times I write essays on scientific matters -- well, not exactly scientific, but, if you will pardon me, approximately scientific. Just another day I finished a long article entitled: "On the Harmfulness of Certain Insects." My daughters liked it immensely, especially the part about bedbugs. But I just read it over and tore it up. What difference does it make whether such things are written? You still have to have naphtha. We have bedbugs, even in our grand piano... For the subject of my lecture today I have taken, so to speak, the harm done mankind by the use of tobacco. I myself smoke, but my wife told me to lecture on the harmfulness of tobacco, and so what's to be done? Tobacco it is. It's all the same to me; but, ladies and... so to speak gentleman... I urge you to take my lecture with all due seriousness, or something awful may happen. If any of you are afraid of a dry, scientific lecture, cannot stomach that sort of thing, you needdn't listen. You may leave.
(He again adjusts his waistcoat.)
Are there any doctors present? If so, I insist that you listen very carefully, for my lecture will contain much useful information, since tobacco, besides being harmful, contains certain medical properties. For example, if you take a fly and put him in a snuff box, he will die, probably from nervous exhaustion. Tobacco, strictly speaking, is a plant... Yes, I know, when I lecture I blink my right eye. Take no notice. It's simple nervousness. I am a very nervous man, generally speaking. I started blinking years ago, in 1889, to be precise, on September the thirteenth, the very day my wife gave birth to our, so to speak, fourth daughter, Varvara. All my daughters were born on the thirteeth. But... (He looks at his watch.) time at our disposal is strictly limited. I see I have digressed from the subject.
I must tell you, by the way, that my wife runs a boarding school. Well, not exactly a boarding school, but something in the nature of one. Just between us, my wife likes to complain about hard times, but she has put away a little nest egg... some forty or fifty thousand rubles. As for me, I haven't a kopek to my name, not a penny... and, well, what's the use of dwelling on that? At the school, it is my lot to look after the housekeepng. I buy supplies, keep an eye on the servants, keep the books, stitch together the exercise books, exterminate bedbugs, take my wife's little dog for walks, catch mice. Last night, it fell to me to give the cook flour and butter for today's breakfast. Well, to make a long story short, today, when the pancakes were ready, my wife came to the kitchen and said that three students would not be eating pancakes, as they had swollen glands. So it seems we had a few too many pancakes. What to do with them? First my wife ordered them stored away, but then she thought awhile, and she said, "You eat those pancakes, you scarecrow." When she's out of humor, that's what she calls me: "scarecrow," or "viper," or "devil." What sort of devil am I? She's always out of humor. I didn't eat those pancakes; I wolfed them down. I am always hungry. Why yesterday, she gave me no dinner. She says, "What's the use feeding you, you scarecrow..." However... (He looks at his warch.) I have strayed from my subject. Let us continue. But some of you, I'm sure, would rather hear a romance, or a symphony, some aria...
(He sings.)
"We shall not shrink In the heart of battle:
Forward, be strong."
I forgot that comes from... Oh, by the way, I should tell you that at my wife's school, apart from looking after the housekeeping, my duties include teaching mathematics, physics, chemistry, georgraphy, history, solfeggio, literature, and so forth. For dancing, singing, and drawing, my wife charges extra, although the singing and dancing master is yours truly. Our school is located at Dog Alley, number 13. I suppose that's why my life has been so unlucky, living in house number thirteen. All my daughters were born on the thirteenth, I think I told you, and our house has thirteen windows, and, in short, what's the use? Appointments with my wife may be made for any hour, and the school's propectus may be had for thirty kopeks from the porter.
(He takes a few copies out of his pocket.)
Ah, here you see, I've brought a few with me. Thirty kopecs a copy. Would anyone care for one?
(A pause.)
No one? Well, make it twenty kopecs. (Another pause.) What a shame! Yes, house number thirteen. I am a failure. I've grown old and stupid. Here I am, lecturing, and to all appearances enjoying myself, but I tell you I have such an urge to scream at the top of my lungs, to run away to the ends of the earth... There is no one to talk to. I want to weep. What about your daughters, you say, eh? Well, what about them? I try to talk to them, and they only laugh. My wife has seven daughters. Seven. No. Sorry, it's only six. Now, wait, it is seven. Anna, the eldest, is twenty-seven, the youngest is seventeen. Ladies and gentleman:
(He looks around surreptitiously.)
I am miserable: I have become a fool, a nonentity. But then, all in all, you see before you the happiest of fathers. Why shouldn't I be, and who am I to say that I am not? Oh, if you only knew: I have lived with my wife for thirty-three years, and, I can say they are the best years of my life... well, not the best, but aspproximately the best. They have passed, as it were, in a thrice, and, well, to hell with them.
(Again, he looks around surreptitiously.)
I don't think my wife has arrived yet. She is not here. So, I can say what I like. I am afraid... I am terribly afraid when she looks at me. Well, I was talking about our duaghters. They don't get married, probably because they're so shy, and also because men can never get near them. My wife doesn't give parties. She never invites anyone to dinner. She's a stingy, shrewish, ill-tempered old biddy, and that's why no one comes to see us, but... I can tell you confidentially...
(He comes down to the edge of his platform.)
on holidays, my daughters can be seen at the home of their aunt, Natalia, the one who has rheumatism and always wears a yellow dress covered with black spots that look like cockroaches. There you can eat. And if my wife happens not to be looking, then you'll see me...
(He makes a drinking gesture.)
Oh, you'll see I can get tipsy on just one glass. Then I feel so happy and at the same time so sad, it's unimaginable. I think of my yough, and then somehow I long to run away, to clear out. Oh, if you only knew how I long to do it! To run away, to be free of everything, to run without ever looking back... Where? Anywhere, so long as it is away from that vile, mean, cheap life that has made me into a fool, a miserable idiot; to run away from that stupid, petty, hot headed, spiteful, nasty old miser, my wife, who has given me thirty-three years of torment; to run away from the music, the kitchen, my wife's bookkeeping ledgers, all those mundane, trivial affairs... To run away and then stop somewhere far, far away on a hill, and stand there like a tree, a pole, a scarecrow, under the great sky and the still, bright moon, and to forget, simply forget... Oh, how I long to forget! How I long to tear off this flock coat, this coat that I wore thirty-three years ago at my wedding, and that I still wear for lectures for charity!
(He tears off his coat.)
Take that: And that:
(Stamping on the coat.)
I am a poor, shabby, tattered wretch, like the back of this waistcoat. (He turns his back showing his waistcoat.) I ask for nothing. I am better than that. I was young once; I went to the university, I had dreams, I thought of myself as a man, but now... now, I want nothing. Nothing but peace... peace.
(He looks off stage. Quickly he pick up his flock coat and puts it on.)
She is here. My wife is there in the wings waiting for me. (He looks at his watch.) I see our time is up. If she asks you, please, I beg you, tell her that her scarecrow husband, I mean, the lecturer, me, behaved with dignity. Oh, she is looking at me.
(He resumes his dignity and raises his voice.)
Given that tobacco contains a trrible poison, which I have had the pleasure of describing to you, smoking should at all costs be avoided, and permit me to add my hopes that these observations on the harmfulness of tabacco will have been of some profit to you. And so I conclude. Dixi et animan levavi!*
(He bows majestically, and exits with grand dignity.)
The End
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* "I have spoken and relieved my soul." (Latin)

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