One-Act Play

Museum Piece

A Play in One Act by William Fowkes

Sometimes the visitors are more compelling than the works on display.

 

LENGTH: 30 minutes.

CAST: 3 (M or F).

Note: These characters may be played by adults of either sex and of any age, race, ethnicity, or physaical type--and in any combination.

 


PRODUCTION HISTORY

Presented at the New Works Festival, North Canton Playhouse, North Canton, OH, May 2011

 

Presented at the Downtown Urban Theater Festival at the Theater for the New City, New York, April 2010.


 

 A review of Museum Piece:

 

   “…the evening’s longest (35 minutes) and surely most riveting entry. … The three-man-monologue is a gem of clever drama interwoven with biting comedy. Each delivers his take on visiting the Museum of Modern Art with increasing intensity until they literally and heatedly cross words and paths while gazing at a confounding contemporary installation.” 

 

Tom Wachunas, Artwach, North Canton, Ohio. 

(Review of From Script To You New Works Festival,

North Canton Playhouse, May 2011)

 

 


SYNOPSIS

A disruptive incident at the Museum of Modern Art brings three strangers together one Saturday afternoon. In this comedic tale, our three visitors are drawn to the museum for very different reasons and have oddly different experiences once they get there, leading to the unavoidable conclusion that the people who go to museums are often more compelling than the works on display.

  

SETTING: A bare stage.    

 

TIME: Now—a Saturday afternoon.

 

CHARACTERS:

#1: Brash, opinionated, tough, plainspoken. 

 

#2: Well-educated, well-traveled, idealistic, sensitive.

 

#3: Self-involved, hypochondriac, fearful. 

 

These three characters may be played by adults of either sex and of any age, race, ethnicity or physical type—and in any combination.


 


AN EXCERPT

 

Scene: A bare stage. #1, #2, and #3 face the audience.

 

#1

(with disgust and loathing)

I don’t get it. I’ve never gotten it, really. … But you can’t SAY that, can you? That wouldn’t be…uh…CULTURALLY correct. People are such snobs! Phonies. Well, what do you expect? … 

 

#2

(with awe)

I am so blessed. … We are ALL so blessed! … To have access to this anytime we want! Right here in this city—anytime at all!

 

#3

(with fear and hesitation)

I wasn’t sure I was up for it today. I’m still getting over my… Or maybe I’ve had a relapse… It seems to be one thing after another these days. 

 

#1

Take this one thing—it’s a room—a whole room—with just six large paintings. Each with a yellow frame. And inside each frame a solid colored square. … And that’s it. That’s IT! … Okay—so, they were all kind of pretty. They might look good in an airline terminal or a shopping mall. But what’s so special? 

 

#2

Except on Tuesdays—closed on Tuesdays. … And not in the middle of the night, either. (That would really be expecting too much, don’t you think?) But at any OTHER time—just walk over, pay a few dollars—well, not so few nowadays—and here you are!

 

#3

So I wasn’t sure I had the energy. But then I felt guilty—I keep saying I’m gonna go. And Saturday really is the best day. I’m not going to take a day off from work just to… And forget Sundays—those crowds! 

 

#1

I could make these things myself, and I’m no artist. I’m not kidding! I could go buy six frames, some cans of paint, put the whole thing together and—boom—instant art. But would anyone hang them up in the Museum of Modern Art? Of course not. 

 

#2

I don’t pay anything, actually. Well, I DO—once a year—I get an annual membership. But then I don’t have to think about it. Anytime I want a little fix, I just pop in, show them my card, and here I am. Even if it’s just for half an hour. … I am SO blessed. … 

 

#3

I made myself get dressed. … Big accomplishment! … Well, it CAN be. On a Saturday? Saturdays are all about NOT getting dressed—or not making any effort. They’re about putting on whatever’s lying around. The shirt from last weekend, say. Just check it out to make sure it’s not completely ridiculous. And don’t worry if anything matches. Just don’t worry. It’s Saturday. 

 

#1

So who decided to hang these things up in here? … It’s all about connections—HAS to be! Someone has to be sleeping with someone. The artist and the head of the museum, maybe. … And it doesn’t even matter who’s male and who’s female. I mean, every conceivable combination is okay in the art world, apparently.

 

#3

But when you make the decision to come HERE, it’s a different story. You’re going to be in the very place where people are the most judgmental about their environment—and that includes YOU. 

 

#2

I pity the tourists. … Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist. I’ve certainly done MY share of traipsing through the great art museums of the world. Europe, of course. Mexico City. Kyoto. Vancouver…. Art is everywhere now. … 

 

#1

I read the real estate section in The New York Times every Sunday, and I can tell you a room that size in Manhattan can set you back a lot!  So someone’s missing out on a big chunk of change here just so these six paintings that I could’ve made myself can remain on display. … I’m telling you—I just don’t get it.

 

#2

So I know what it’s like when your time is not completely malleable. Then it’s THREE hours at the National Gallery in London, because this is your only day, or FOUR hours at the Louvre, thanks to their evening hours. 

 

#3

The eyes shoot around the room—they land on a painting, a sculpture, a mobile…or your clothes—they’re all there for the seeing. 

 

#1

Or how about all the garbage? That’s what I call it—YOU know what I mean! The stuff they drag in here and throw on the floor and then expect…  What? What is it they expect? Are we supposed to…?

 

#3

(cutting #1 off)

So naturally it takes me forever to pick out the right things to wear.

 

#1

(directed at #3)

Hey, I’m talking!

 

#3

(directed at #1)

Sorry.

 

#1

(to the audience)

Geez—the people nowadays! … The “element”!

 

#2

(directed at #1)

Actually, I was talking…

 

#1

(directed at #2—threateningly)

You want to make something of it?

 

#2

(directed at #1)

No, no. That’s quite all right. You go ahead.

 

#1

(directed at #2)

Thanks for nothin’!

 

#2 points at #1.

 

#2

(to the audience—quietly and conspiratorially)

“The element,” indeed!

 

#1

(to the audience)

Are we supposed to look at it and say, “My, that’s beautiful”? Or are they just trying to shock us. … Well, you can’t shock me, people! I’m a New Yorker! I’ve seen it all, for god’s sake! So if you drag it in here and put it on display, don’t expect me to be impressed. There’s better garbage in front of my building on any Friday night, for godsakes.  

 

END OF EXCERPT