Tuesday, January 18, 2011


When I write plays, I make a concerted effort to minimize or completely eliminate set, props, and costumes. I just know that such things will only cause me pain. Like the time my ribs broke in a car accident on the way to Materials For The Arts to find props for a show last summer. I have learned the lesson. Props=me in the hospital.

IN QUIETNESS, however, has a props list that's crazier than a bag o' mice. And while I'm always up for some Wilderesque minimalism, I really think that this play needs all the stuff. Why? Why I'll tell ya why.

Objects aren't just objects. We humans have these remarkable brains that invest meaning in even the silliest thing. For example, look at this:
  • Remember those?? Those pills you put in a glass of water and they expand to become dinosaur shaped sponges?? Those were so awesome. I remember getting them at the National Aquarium in Baltimore when I was a kid. My parents were amazing, amazing individuals and they had a family membership to the Aquarium and they took us there all the time, and it was amazing. We saw dolphin shows on a monthly basis. Dolphins! There were also beluga whales back then, though they don't have them anymore. There's probably a good reason that I don't know about, but I miss them. One time I was standing by the viewing window with my face pressed up against the glass and a beluga whale popped up right in front of me, grinning its cetaceous little grin, and I nearly peed myself. I'm positive that it was messing with me on purpose. Like almost every kid in the world, after visiting the Aquarium, I was filled with a burning desire to become a marine biologist. Like almost every adult in the world, after growing up, I am not a marine biologist.
See what I mean? Objects aren't just objects. They are little bookmarks in our lives. In life, encountering a specific object from your past, like dinosaur sponge pills, can make you suddenly confront a version of yourself who was certain that the future held nothing but bottle-nosed dolphins named Kiki.

Onstage, these objects can give a world context. IN QUIETNESS is filled with objects, costumes, and set pieces that act as a visual vocabulary. Windex, Murphy's Oil Soap, gingham aprons, pastel tablecloths, pitchers of sweet tea, finger sandwiches, and floral centerpieces are the everyday objects of the Homemaking House that immediately establish for the audience the priorities, values, and ideals of the characters within it. Cleanliness. Femininity. Beauty. Pleasantness. Etiquette. Hospitality. It doesn't need to be said. It's right there onstage, simultaneously louder and more subtle than a monologue.

It's still a massive pain to design, find, build, and manage all of those objects, though. So Renee, Maiko, Danielle, Lisa, Alice, and everyone else who has been hemming bed linens, moving boxes of heavy books, and making tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off...thank you, thank you, thank you. And I'm sorry.

Opening Wednesday! Tickets here!

Jan 19, 20, 28, 29 at 7pm; Jan 24 at 8pm

by Anna Moench
directed by Birgitta Victorson

A former CEO follows her born-again husband to a Southern Baptist seminary and enrolls as a student in the Homemaking House, a place where marital bliss means never having to say thank you for cleaning the toilet.

Starring Katie Atcheson, Eric Feldman, Julie Fitzpatrick, William Jackson Harper, and Clare McNulty


joshcon80 said...

I used to put magic capsules in my mouth. I was a very special child.

Anna said...

I was just wondering what would happen if you swallowed one! You turned out okay...maybe I should do it.