One-Act Play

The Next Move

A Play in One Act by William Ivor Fowkes

Sundays aren’t always relaxing anymore.

 

LENGTH: 30 minutes

CAST: 1M, 1F

 


Nancy Franklin and Ed Setrakian in a staged reading of THE NEXT MOVE at Octoberfest 2006 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York City
Nancy Franklin and Ed Setrakian in a staged reading of THE NEXT MOVE at Octoberfest 2006 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York City

PRODUCTION AND AWARDS HISTORY

 

AWARDS AND HONORS:

 

Winner - 2010 One-Act Play Competition, Brevard Little Theatre, Brevard, NC. Awarded May 2011. 

 

Third Prize - One-Act Playwriting Competition, Frostburg State University Center for Creative Writing, Frostburg, MD, June 2012.

 

Honorable Mention - 12th Annual New Voice Play Festival, The Old Opera House, 2012, Charles Town, WV.

 

Included in the Eileen Heckart Drama for Seniors Archives at Ohio State University

 

 

RECORDING & BROADCAST:

 

Petaluma Radio Players, Petaluma, CA, Recorded July 2016. Broadcast TBS - early 2017. 

 

Radio Theatre Project, St. Petersburg, FL. Recorded January 23, 2017. A recording of the play is NOW AVAILABLE. 

 

LISTEN HERE  

 

 

PRODUCTIONS:

 

Production - Silver Spring Stage, Silver Spring, MD, August 2015.

 

Production - October 2013 at the Warner International Playwrights Festival, Torrington, CT.  

 

Production - September 2012 at the One-Act Play Festival, Frostburg State University, Palace Theater, Frostburg, MD.

 

Staged reading presented at Octoberfest 2006 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, New York

 

 


For Richard Seff and Dolores Sutton

 

SYNOPSIS

The Next Move presents an elderly couple bickering their way through an afternoon while waiting for company to arrive. In the process, they uncover some disturbing things.

                    

CHARACTERS

DONALD: An older man.    

ROBERTA: An older woman, his wife.   

 

SETTING

Their living room. 

 

PERIOD

An April afternoon early in the 21st century.


 

EXCERPT

 

The Scene:  A living room with two armchairs at center and a card table set up on the side. Bossa nova music is playing. Donald is reading a book. Roberta enters with a feather duster and starts to dust. The bossa nova music fades out.  

 

DONALD

(Looking up from his reading) What are you doing?

 

ROBERTA 

What does it look like I’m doing? 

 

DONALD

Some sort of odd dance, I’d say.

 

ROBERTA 

(Sweetly) Maybe if you helped out once in a while, you’d recognize what I’m doing. It’s called dusting.

 

DONALD

Can’t you see I’m reading?

 

ROBERTA 

Dusting doesn’t make any noise.

 

DONALD

It’s not the noise—it’s just the fact of it. It’s distracting!

 

ROBERTA 

Okay—I’ll stop. (He resumes his reading, while she stops dusting, stands still, and stares out at the audience.)  

 

DONALD

(Looking up from his reading) What are you doing now?

 

ROBERTA

I’m admiring our new curtains. Much nicer than the old ones, if you ask me.

 

DONALD

Do you mind? 

 

ROBERTA 

What are you reading there anyway? 

 

DONALD

It doesn’t matter. You wouldn’t understand.

 

ROBERTA 

You and your books! Life’s happening out here—not in those books. You’ve got to grab life and make the most of it while you can!

 

DONALD

Thank you, Auntie Mame! Now please go find something else to do.

 

ROBERTA 

Anything you say, Your Highness. (She exits. He continues reading. She re-enters with a checkers set and starts to set up a game of checkers on the card table.)

 

DONALD

(Looking up from his readingNow what are you doing? 

 

ROBERTA 

Setting up the checkers. Company’s coming—or have you forgotten?  

 

DONALD

I haven’t forgotten, but you know I don’t like to play checkers!

 

ROBERTA

Well, I love the game!! 

 

DONALD

That’s only because you always win.

 

ROBERTA

Yes, I do!!

 

DONALD

And that’s only because I let you make the first move.  

 

ROBERTA

Oh, Mister Big Shot has to take credit for everything! I could have been a college dean, too, but somebody had to stay home and take care of things around here.   

 

DONALD

Yes, I know—I ruined your life.

 

ROBERTA

So the least you can do is humor me with a game of checkers every now and then.

 

DONALD

But not today! Please put all that away!

 

ROBERTA

I will not put all that away! The Walkers like to play checkers when they come over.

 

DONALD

But the Grahams certainly don’t like to play.  

 

ROBERTA

I don’t care what the Grahams like to do!  

 

DONALD

When the Grahams come over, we discuss politics and listen to classical music.

 

ROBERTA

(Continuing to set up the checkers) Well, the Walkers like to play checkers.

 

DONALD

So when the Walkers come over, we’ll play checkers.  

 

ROBERTA

Indeed we will—this very afternoon!

 

DONALD

We’ll see about that!  

 

ROBERTA

Are you going to be difficult?

 

DONALD

Plunk-plunk-plunk-plunk-“king me”! What kind of a game is that, anyway?  

 

ROBERTA

(Laughing) You should be so lucky! You rarely get to be kinged.

 

DONALD

I refuse to concentrate on anything as insignificant as checkers!  

 

ROBERTA

I’m just trying to be a good hostess.

 

DONALD

(Softening) Yes, dear, I know. You’re a marvelous hostess. Now please put those things away and get ready for the Grahams. Bring out that pile of books I like to have around whenever they stop by—you know, the ones that show I keep up with world events. Oh, and for heaven’s sake, hide that bossa nova CD and get out some Mozart or something.

 

ROBERTA

But the Grahams aren’t coming over, silly man! It’s the Walkers today.  

 

DONALD

Good God, woman! Can’t you keep anything straight? It’s April 17th. The Grahams are coming over, not the Walkers.

 

ROBERTA

(With a sigh) You are going to be difficult today, aren’t you?  

DONALD

(Softening) I’m sorry. I’ll try not to be. 

 

ROBERTA

Thank you, Donald. (She kisses him.) 

 

DONALD

I realize I’m not always the easiest person to get along with. 

 

ROBERTA

Well, you’re sweet, even when you’re wrong.

 

DONALD

When have I ever been wrong?

 

ROBERTA

Just a moment ago. You thought the Grahams were coming over today.

 

DONALD

They are coming over. Well, they’re supposed to. I guess one of them could drop dead on the way over here.  

 

ROBERTA

Donald!

 

DONALD

I sometimes worry about Kenneth. Mark my words—those elevated shoes will be the death of him yet. One spill at our age and it’s all over!

 

ROBERTA

Dear, I know you think I’m the one who can’t keep things straight—but the Walkers are coming today, not the Grahams.

 

DONALD

I’ll settle this once and for all! (He gets up and exits.)

 

ROBERTA

(To herself)  Oh, the slings and arrows of something or other I suffer with that man! As if I’d ever invite the Grahams over again! But we all have our cross to bear, don’t we? (Reflecting)  Cross to bare? As in naked? That can’t be right. (Snapping out of it) Don’t drift, girl! (Finishes setting up the checkers game) There—all set! There’s nothing like a good game of checkers to help you stay focused!

 

DONALD

(Scurrying back in holding a date book up in the air. Triumphantly.) Here we go! I knew I was right. (Sitting back down, flipping through pages) Now let’s see. April 15th . . . April 16th . . . Here it is—April 17th! “The Grahams. Kenneth and Helen. Talk politics. Play classical music. Topics to avoid: Taiwan. Chiropractors. Latin music. Tall people. Bikini waxes.” (Puts the book down.) There you have it, dear! I’ll accept another kiss in place of an apology.

 

ROBERTA

(Confused) But I was sure it was the Walkers today. Oh, my! (Reconsiders) Wait—may I see that book?

 

DONALD

(Handing the book to her) Be my guest.

 

ROBERTA

(Reads the entry for April 17th, examines the book and then tosses it onto the table.) Ha—it’s last year’s book! You thought you caught me, didn’t you?  

 

DONALD

What? (Picks up the book to examine it) Okay, you’re right. 

 

ROBERTA

Of course I’m right!

 

DONALD

(Irritated) I said you’re right!

 

                                                                           ...

 

END OF EXCERPT