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“Summer Solstice”

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Holmes, Lisa M. (American playwright, advertising copywriter, 1965-____), “Summer Solstice,”

a 70-minute comedy-drama in English, set in a nursing home, in Oakbrook, Illinois, U.S.A., June 22, 1999,


  •  © 1999 by Lisa M. Holmes;  •  script/rights available from Lisa M. Holmes, 5313 North Ravenswood #103, Chicago, Illinois 60640, U.S.A., e-mail johnlisa@wwa.com, telephone (home) 773-293-0949, (work) 312-475-2528.  •  Cited by Lisa M. Holmes, via ftp October 28, 1999; Holmes says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Susan Paschen (f), 30s, attractive, rigid, introverted; Abigail Paschen (f), 60s, Susan’s mother, in her youth a model, unmarried, bitter toward Susan, required to transit between old and young; Roger/Arthur (m), [Roger] 30s, serious, kind law student at U of I, and [Arthur] suitor of Susan, selfish, charming, married, object of Abigail’s fixation.

  §  Synopsis “Susan, an independent graduate student, reluctantly has returned home on the longest day of the year for her mother’s birthday. Susan passionately lectures to the audience about the Peppered Moth, an insect famous for evolving from a bright white color to a dingy gray in order to survive the pollution of the Industrial Revolution. Susan’s lecture breaks off; she crosses the stage and suddenly enters her mother’s nursing home in Oakbrook, Illinois. The two women interact with each other in mystical shifts of time and space. Their relentless banter discomforts Susan  (who is secretly pregnant), so she excuses herself for the bathroom. Roger appears to Susan. Abigail asks with whom Susan is speaking. Susan denies the conversation. Is Roger really there? Is Susan losing her mind? Then Arthur, Abigail’s unrequited love, ambiguously visits. The women serially encounter their respective lovers, depicting evolution of these relationships. Evidence builds that Susan’s stifling mother makes Susan incapable of a healthy relationship with Roger. Like the Peppered Moth, Susan has evolved, of necessity, into something dark and ugly. The only relationship left is the unhealthy mother-daughter bond.  Susan and Abigail have only each other.

  §  Comment “Character dominates plot in this play. Susan Paschen is studying to become an entomologist, and currently works as a professor’s assistant at the University of Illinois, in Champaign. Abigail Paschen is overbearing, unforgiving. In her youth she worked as a model. She became pregnant with Susan when she fell in love with Arthur, a married man. Because of this, Abigail never married, and she takes out her bitterness on Susan with constant criticism. One actor plays Roger and Arthur. Roger is a serious, but kind law student at the University of Illinois. He dates Susan and recently has asked for her hand in marriage. Arthur is the selfish but charming married man who breaks Abigail’s heart.  •  The Footsteps Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., produced ‘Summer Solstice’ as a staged reading in the Women’s Theatre Alliance New Plays Festival. The Gala Scene Showcase highlighted it as one of their top eight plays. The extremely-minimal set stays the same for the entire show. Scenes change frequently, but set changes are not required for scene changes. Special needs include a painted banner or projected photo of the Peppered Moth shown before and after the play, podium, couch, sink, kitchen table, three chairs, and optional refrigerator. Special props include a birthday cake, plates, a mirror, knitting needles, blankets.

  §  Themes “change, evolution, generation gap, mother-daughter relationship, unrequited love.”

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Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online


the more-extensive print volumes

1/2/3/4 for the Show: A Guide to Small-Cast One-Act Plays, Vols. 1 and 2

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