A Play on Words - two author story by Ray Stone and Ant Smits

Written by: Ray Stone

Artistic Director, Johnny Cumlately, stood with hand on hip. His other hand flapped limply in the air, a cigarette between two fingers leaving small puffs of smoke with each flap. A look of admiration creased his face as Melton finished his speech.

“Oh, darling, you are divine. No wonder I picked you for the part.” He blew a little kiss and smiled.

Melton smiled, closed his eyes, and placed a hand on his chest before leaving the stage and mincing through the wings to his dressing room.

A group of stagehands stood at the back of the set. “That bleedin’ Melton got the part because he-”

“Shut ya gob, Tanner,” whispered Lead Gang, Lennie. “Ya talkin’ ‘bout the Artistic Director’s favourite little boy.”

“Bleedin liberty, if ya ask me. Him and Melton have been at it all week, and he’s supposed to be getting’ hitched to our manager, Ronnie Darling, isn’t he?”

Lennie ignored Tanner and turned to the gang. “Ok, scene one, act four. And this time put the large flat at the back of the set on three legs and weights. It nearly walked last time.”

The Director’s voice came from the auditorium, interrupting Lennie. “Lennie, sweetie, your people should be moving by now. Do they know about that flat, dear?”

A chorus of, ‘OOhhhh Sweetie’ came from the gang. Annoyed, Lennie walked out onto the stage and looked down at the Director. “Yes. They know. As I told you, these guys have worked the stage for years. And I suggested that the tab man could rehearse his cues too.”

The Director closed his eyes and tried to speak.

Lennie carried on. “And the bloody Flymen are standing up on the platform scratching their bums. When are they gonna’ bring cloths down? On the night?”

Cumlately stamped his foot irritably and rubbed a hand across his forehead, theatrically. Assistant, Mary Melonze put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “Unfortunately, Johnny, bloody stagehands never understand a genius like you. I’ll talk to him. I think you might reconsider the tabs and flys though, not that we want him to think he has won an argument over your artistic bent.”

Johnny looked lovingly at the freckled face of Mary. “What would I do without you, darling?”

Lennie walked back to the gang. “Right, get the set sorted and-”

Tanner waved a thumb over his shoulder. “Look out mate, here comes Melons galore. Blimey, if she fell over she’d rock herself to sleep tryin’ to get up.”

Mary heard him and watched the gang move off. She stomped up to Lennie.

“If you had the patience to wait until Johnny had the chance to tell you, he already had the idea to let the flys and tabs work this evenings rehearsal. And another thing,” she said, turning away, “That Tanner needs to button up his mouth. I hear that kind of language again, and I’m going to-”

Lennie interrupted her. “Fire him?”

“No. I’m going to kick him in the goolies.” 


Tabs – stage drapes that close a scene – can rise and fall or closed across the stage by Tabman……
Cue-board – Stage Manager cues lights, tabs, cloth drops, and scene changes written in chronological order and timing……
Number 23 – all coloured gelatine have a number which electrician plots under artistic Directors plotting for each scene
Fly platform – two men pull heavy backcloths up and down with each scene change on a counterweight system……
Bar or bars – commonly used to hang stage lighting and special effects on as well as cloths.....
Large 30ft scenery flats can 'walk' or 'shiver' and fall if weighted incorrectly on a raked stage.

Wot ho, Raymon. This is going to be a bit of fun. I think you have your act and scene transposed, jus' saying. Not that anyone will notice amid all the scene changing. And I see you've got fruit on stage too. In the middle of a rehearsal? Are the melons going to be shared around? We'll have to wait and see. Perhaps Jenefa - is she still hanging about with Tanner? If so, she's probably out back giving her opinion about something to one of the girls - could get some for Tanner. I'm sure he'd love to get his teeth into a bit of melon. Jezebel is her sister, I suppose.
Nice atmosphere you've created here. I'm reminded of several characters I once worked with, in the cauldron of art called theatre, where some things get obsessed about and important stuff is ignored. I sense rebellion is not far off. Where is the Stage Manager? She (they are all shes in this, aren't they?) should be sorting out that mess backstage. And what is the play? A Wet Midsummer Night's Dream? You won't sell tickets if people don't know what they're coming to see. Yes, yes, I know everyone here is making a play in their own way, but you know what I mean. And keep your kicks to yourself.
Too much Oozo, old boy. Try Scotch. Well, thanks for a very confusing crit. I think you have got confused over names but what's in a name. There is little importance about the play as this serial is about the staff who work on the side of the stage. The Stage Manager comes into the fray next chapter as we only have 500 words - (you must remember that when it's your turn, sweetie!!) And melons? Well, I'll leave your thoughts to yourself. Jenefa? We are on stage now, not in the garage. Not wishing to be too critical of your crits but I do see you had one good comment to make about atmosphere and the things that are obsessed over. I had five glorious (what day of the week is it?) theatre years and met confused critics just like you. All that apart, it is nice to work with you again. Let's try to make them laugh - not just ourselves.
Old boy? I'm younger than you. And no ouzo was harmed in the mangling of that crit. Just sayin'
Nice play with words. I like the energy of the starter. Lots going on (and plenty to come, I'm sure. I'd love to see how characters interact physically and the setting they are working in. Please don't misunderstand me here. (: Great idea!
Thanks, Ed. I think it's a great idea for a writer to use a personal experience or job as an idea for a serial or a play/series. Pictures of characters and surroundings in the writers head are no good there though. A lot of the setting is missing while I want to introduce characters within a word count. It is difficult but doable so as my old English teacher used to say - "could do better."
Always doable Ray (: 500 concise words is worth a 1000 loose words.