Home > Playwright Posts > My Extraordinarily Broad, Expansive Vision

My Extraordinarily Broad, Expansive Vision

Tom X. Chao by Anthony Rhoades

When I began work on my one-minute play, I was sitting in my East Village atelier, sipping a freshly pressed cup of Ethiopian Harar, or perhaps it was the last of the Sumatra Mandheling.  (I recently refined my brewing process to include hand-grinding my beans in a Hario Mini Slim Mill, then employing an Aeropress for the transmutation of the liquid, producing remarkably fine results with only a moderate investment.)  I carefully drew my Waterman pen from the pen pocket of my Scottevest jacket, and, setting forth to jot down a few notes, cracked open my Moleskine notebook.

But the story begins earlier.  When, in previous years, I had seen the listings for the One-Minute Play Festivals, I’d think to myself, “Why am I not in this festival?  Why is it full of untalented hacks?” and by that I meant, why is it full of my closest friends? So, I made a point of contacting Mr. D’Andrea, director of this soirée, to offer my services in a future festival.  He was kind enough to invite me to submit a script or three.

Let me say that I am not unfamiliar with the miniature form.  A few years ago, the Ontological invited me to participate in the Tiny Theater Festival, which requires performers to present all action within a cube 6′ x 6′ x 6′, although–to my dismay–almost all of the other shows ignored that stricture (and here it is impossible to avoid making a reference to thinking outside the box).  Also, I have been recording a daily podcast for several years, the individual episodes rarely stretching longer than one or two minutes, and often suggesting theatrical scenarios. (Hear Tom X. Chao’s New Podcast or The Peculiar Utterance of the Day.)

As heat waves radiated upwards into the heavens from the streets surrounding Tompkins Square Park, I gazed out my window at the commonplace, ordinary, quotidian stuff of everyday life.  As if struck by a thunderbolt, I realized I should attempt to take a commonplace, ordinary, quotidian situation and make it interesting in the space of a one-minute play.  I then spent a frenetic three days writing and refining an commonplace, ordinary scenario set in outer space involving a commonplace, ordinary family engaged in a commonplace, ordinary titanic struggle culminating with them entering the realm of god.  After much feverish typing and lying on the couch and watching NCAA Div-I football and further typing and backspacing and updating my Facebook status and even much further typing, I produced my one-minute treatise on an outer space family battling it out with fists and dire oaths and telekinetic powers, then just missing god.  And it was good.

After quaffing six or seven IPAs while admiring my handiwork, I thought perhaps I could even produce a second script for the festival, on the off-chance that the first one wasn’t deemed suitable for any reason.  Then I thought of some remarks I had IM’ed with a co-worker at my office the other day.  My co-worker and I share various mutual interests in areas of popular culture, and occasionally we message each other with deadpan comments and insults about other co-workers and links to NSFW videos about chimps with frogs to punctuate the brutal monotony of the workaday world.  (We use IM to communicate even though we sit next to each other because our company is an internet company, after all.)  Having found a log of one of our AIM chats, I hacked out about six lines and made a one-minute play script out of it.

I sent in both scripts, looking forward to seeing a production of my intricately woven tale of intergalactic patricide and cosmic theological speculation.

You, the astute reader, will scarcely be surprised, then, to discover that the festival curators accepted the second script, but not the first!  Quelle horreur!

On a related topic, it turns out that Mr. D’Andrea is a Ravens fan!  By god!  The ignominy OF IT!  CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE IT?  I WILL NOT ALLOW

-Tom X. Chao

80+ plays. 30+ actors. 7 directors. 1-minute.

Saturday, Sept. 25th & Sunday, Sept. 26th at 8pm

Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/1-minute-tix

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Categories: Playwright Posts
  1. Jen
    September 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Story of your life, Tom. Was there a “girl-catcher” in the inter-galactic one?

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