“Building” is Both a Noun and a Verb.
playwright enters. It raises large set pieces and bolts them in place as it speaks. It speaks in prose.
PLAYWRIGHT: Because a playwright is allowed to speak in prose. The playwright is allowed to speak in verse and the playwright is allowed to speak not at all. And this playwright is from a city, Chicago, yes, that Chicago, not any other Chicago you might be thinking of but that Chicago, and even if the playwright is not from that city that playwright is now of that city, Chicago. And that city, Chicago, that city has a very distinct sense of its own shapes and forms.
Chicago was built and it burned down and was built all over again. Chicago has been the battleground and cemetery of architects, Chicago is stitched together of neighborhoods and the neighborhoods are stitched together of people and the people are stitched together of the histories they brought with them and the histories between them. Chicago wears the stitches of the wounds it has suffered and inflicted. Chicago runs powerful, money-greased fingertips along its scars and then calls those scars borders between north side and south, between those sides and west, between good block and bad block. Chicago packs all of its joy and its crime and its rage and its pride into every inch of every minute of itself and then it wraps the product in twine and butcher paper to be sent off to market.
Chicago ran out of horizontal space so it invented the skyscraper. Chicago needed a river that flowed the other way so they built the machine to reverse it. Chicago lacked conventional theater spaces and so the theaters were built out of basements and abandoned stores, out of warehouses and the back rooms of bars that used to host murders. And the plays were built to fit in those spaces, built to function with minimal light and audiences of ten. And the actors were built to perform those plays in those spaces to those audiences, and the directors built worlds inside of those spaces that could not originally have been imagined in the size of those spaces.
If a man then walks into a city like that and asks fifty playwrights to write a hundred plays that last no more than a minute apiece, plays that will happen but twice in front of an audience, plays with a limit of set and a limit of characters on top of its limit of time; those playwrights will build that. The playwrights will fill every inch of every second they choose to employ. The playwrights will build that because Chicago is exactly the place where such a thing would be built.
playwright exits. the play remains onstage, staring at the audience for an unsettling amount of time, until either the audience leaves or the lights are turned off throughout the building.
the play follows the audience home.
The 2nd Annual Chicago One-Minute Play Festival at Victory Gardens Theater is Sunday April 15th and Monday April 16th, both at 7:30 CDT . Proceeds will benefit VG’s Fresh Squeezed programming. Tickets are $15 and available here. The Monday performance at 7:30 CDT will be broadcast on New Play TV.