Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Funny one-act plays

I Go By Many Names has asked if I can recommend a funny, one-act play (I think for a 6th-form production, but correct me if I'm wrong Igo). Anyway, I can't, because I know nothing at all about plays/theatre/greasepaint stuff.

Suggestions so far:

cello said..." 'The Bear' by Chekhov, is, I think, both funny and in one act. Just 3 people too."

Um, that's it. So if there are any more potential single-act hilarities, please list them in the comments below...

24 comments:

Marsha Klein said...

try looking at www.samuelfrench-london.co.uk/sf/Pages/perf/sec.b.html for a comprehensive list of one-act plays (not all funny, obviously!)

james henry said...

M'colleague Dick Hanson says:

Have some suggestions ((David Mamet's Sexual Perversity In Chicago and>Duck Variations) but am too technically incompetent to know how to post a
>reply. They don't make these things easy.

Cheers Marsha - I'll let you get back to your vino destructo now....

james henry said...

'Hansom', sorry.

Herge Smith said...

There's a bunch of funny (from a certain point of view) one act plays by Tom Stoppard - 'If you're Glad I'll be Frank', 'Dirty Linen' 'New-Found-Land'... again depends on what you're looking for...

Herge Smith said...

Then again, thinking about it, not sure the last two are comedies, well you could always dress up like a famous celebrity and mug about the stage, prat falling etc...

it's all in the interpretation and reception...

for example a lot of people find Schindler's List grim, me, I laugh like a drain.

Steve Dix said...

Tell them to have a look at anything by Eugene Ionesco - one of the founder figures of the "Theatre of the Absurd". He did a number of short plays. His masterpiece is "Rhinoceros", which was adapted for radio in the 1950's starring no less than the lad himself, Tony Hancock.

Ionescu's work concentrates on the absurdity of life itself, for example, in "Rhinoceros", everyone turns into a rhino except the protagonist, because it's the fashionable thing to do.

You could argue that Ionescu laid the groundwork for the Goons and Monty Pythons' use of extreme absurdity.

Herge Smith said...

Wasn't there an attempt to make Rhinoceros into a film in the 70's (I think)?

Dunno, rings a distant bell.

Good choices though... pisses on that hack Stoppard.

Nick said...

Mr. Chuckles himself, Harold Pinter, has a few choice one-acts that would be worth a rummage through. The Dumb Waiter's a goodie (although with only 2 male parts in), The Basement, The Collection, The Dwarves etc etc. String together a few of his revue sketches and you'll have half-an-hour of dark comic fun.

Steve Dix said...

ISTR there was...

Aha! Imdb is your friend...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070605/

james henry said...

Zero Mostel - can't be all bad.

I'll have nothing said against the noble art of hackery, by the way. Beats working in an electronics factory for two years, any road.

Also, Rosencranz and Guildensteninenenen Are Dead is marvellous, and the best fanfic ever. Don't really know his other stuff though.

Marsha Klein said...

Went off Stoppard m'self after he said that Edinburgh (where I live), rather than being the "Athens of the North", was the "Reykjavik of the South" ha, ha - nobody likes a smart-arse, Tom. I also find Pinter hugely pretentious - all that hidden menace "weasel-under-the-cocktail-cabinet" stuff. That said, I have no alternative suggestions as all the one-act plays I've ever seen or been in (am-dram, love!) seem to belong to the school of Gritty Realism

james henry said...

Can't be doing with Pinter. Or Mamet*. Mainly because I haven't the faintest idea what they're on about. Not a clue. And I can handle semi-translated (i.e. still, by our standards, 'back to front) manga, so I can't be totally dense...

*Went to lecture by David Mamet at the Gulbenkian in Canterbury, and came away considerably more befuddled than when I went in. To this day, I still think he got his notes in the wrong order.

Steve Dix said...

Just Zero Mostel can't be that bad, but Zero Mostel AND Gene Hackman makes it sound definitely worth tracking down, if only for their performance together in "The Producers", a film which I love, if only for the looks of disbelief, followed by hysterical laughter that can be had from colleagues by playing "Springtime For Hitler"...

Kell said...

I can agree that The Bear is an exceelent 1-act play, but I have to add thatif it's for a 6th form play, they'll be bored performing it & the audience probably won't get it either.

You could always try a modern take on a classic tale - Shakespeare has prettymuch been done to death, but since they've probably been studying a few of his plays the past few years, it might work to do a new take on one of those... Fun to do too!

Nick said...

Later Pinter rubbish, yes. But the early stuff is quite fun - The Caretaker, if nothing else.

But you should have seen the sketches that he did last year at the National. The man himself came onto stage to do a new one called "The Press Conference" (or some such.) A thunkingly unsubtle satire of Bush/Blair/Spin etc which mainly consisted of him going mysteriously "I'll put you in the chamberpot." Instead of nodding seriously like the rest of the audience, I was moved to screaming laughter.

Lizzy said...

I know nothing about plays, but someone on LiveJournal posted their suggestions there, rather than here.

Maud said...

Thank you all. I don't have time now, but I'll read through at my leisure later on.

Coincidentally enough (or perhaps not) the last one we did was Stoppard's 'The Real Inspector Hound', in which I played Simon Gascoyne, sporting a rather fetching eyeliner-moustache.

Mummy/Crit said...

Herge - I've seen the filmed version of "rhinoceros" (and I'm so glad you rembered Ionesco's name - it eluded me) it had Gene Wilder as the guy. It was weird. It is a weird play - I had to read it in French, which made it weirder.

James, so happy to see the new Toy-Fu site up. Am I being thick, or do we not know the name of Steve's sidekick? I loved how all the spiders vanished on his return in 'jumper' just to be completely clear that these guys aren't standing around for no reason...I hate it when the season ends on a cliff-hanger!

Kalista said...

Ah ha! Plays! I believe that I can help here. I highly highly recommend some Oscar wilde (importance of being ernest for laughs, portrait of dorian gray for intellect) or some tennesse williams perhaps? The Glass menagerie only needs 4 actors and suddenly last summer only needs 5, I think. Williams is quite intense, though, whereas wilde is far more accessible. All depends on your audience really.

Maud said...

The audience is a bunch of teenagers and their parents. Quite nice teenagers, but still. And about 10 actors would be best.

Kalista said...

Hum. Does it have to be in just one act? That makes matters more difficult. I reckon you should go for oscar wilde, it's very witty and good to act. If not (and you were feeling adventureous) you could adapt some short stories perhaps? Someone mentioned chekhov earlier, you could try doing something with his collection called 'about love'. Comedy juxtaposed with seriousness, but all very very true and not slushy or 'flowery'.

Does that help?

Anonymous said...

'Abigail's Party'. Just watched five very talented sixth formers do it for their AS exam (I did the lighting. Whoo.) and it was hilarious.

Maud said...

It's best for it to be just one act so we don't have to worry too much about scenery, also so it's not too long.

Who's Abigail's Party by?

james henry said...

Mike Leigh. This would be my best bet actually - you can go quite overboard with the characters, and if you don't like someone, offer them the part of 'Abigail' (who you never actually see).

I didn't know there were rpgs on invasionfree. Must have a look about...