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“Missing Matter”

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Hill, Helen (American playwright, artist, teacher, March 24, 1955-____), “Missing Matter,”

a 40-minute comedy-drama in English, set in the train station, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A., afternoon, 2002,

2m2f (+4 silent extras)

; • in Helen Hill’s Missing Matter (Train Station, Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.: The Author, 2002); • script/rights available from Helen Hill, P.O. Box 353, Nehalem, Oregon 97131, U.S.A., telephone (home) 503-368-5786, (work) 503-367-5786, e-mail hellonwheels2_813@hotmail.com. • Cited by Helen Hill, via ftp, July 2 2003; Hill says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Jimmy (m), __, train station janitor; Station Master (m), __, announcer of train departure at beginning and end of play; Sara (f), 25, ____; Margaret (f), 25, ____; Business Man (m extra); Youth in a Hoody (m extra); Homeless Man (m extra can be played by Jimmy), ____; Man Wearing Headphones (m extra); Old Man (m extra can be played by Station Master); Man in Love (m extra); Woman in Love (f extra); Old Woman (f extra); Well Dressed Woman (f extra).

§ Synopsis “Sara comes on during blackout, delivers a monologue about missing matter in the universe, and our sun’s own suspected dark star, or ‘Nemesis’ which scientist’s suspect is a burned out sister-pair of our sun, invisible, but attracting mysterious events, distant catastrophes, etc., to our galaxy. Sara mentions that she first met ‘her’ in a train station, though she had been following her for days. Doesn’t know if she loves her or hates her. Lights up. Margaret is seated, Station Master announces a train, extras move through, leaving trash behind, Jimmy the janitor follows with a push broom, collecting trash. Sara enters, asks Margaret if seat is taken, begins a conversation with reluctant Margaret who wants to read her book in peace. Sara talks of her mother in the hospital, different events of her life, and how we are separate from each other, etc., irritating Margaret further. Sara goes for a drink while Jimmy makes a pass with his push broom, returns with a drink with a straw; as she tears off a small piece of paper to remove her straw, she asks Margaret if she ever wonders what happens to small things like the torn bit of paper. Sara then weaves a detailed, colorful, imaginative story involving particle physcis, quantum theory, random synchronicity and unsuspected connections, all woven around the possible fates of the scrap of paper in her hand. Jimmy continues sweeping, cleaning, extras enter and exit, entwined with the script, random particles themselves, weaving silent stories: a dropped five dollar bill is picked up by the youth in a hoody, a homeless man begs for change, youth returns later with a sandwhich for homeless man, etc., etc., etc. Sara continues her monologue, revealing that her mother always had a sadness, one she always blamed herself for, one that influenced her life in negative ways. But recently, before her mother died, the mother explained that she had borne a daughter a year and a day before she had borne Sara. Margaret’s train is leaving, she says she hopes she finds her one day; as she leaves, Sara calls out "Happy BIrthday Margaret," revealing the secret. Margaret looks back at her, drops her bags, blackout.

§ Comment “One scene only, a train station: two rows of benches or chairs and a large clock in back. Lighting is simple, full on after beginning cue, fades slightly at climax of play when Sara stands on chair, lets small scrap of paper float to the ground, extras enter slowly as Jimmy moves forward with his broom, ready to sweep up the scrap and start it on its unknown journey: lights fade as all motion slows: Margaret picks up the scrap, lights back up full, extras continue moving through at sped up pace. Production history: one local production, rave reviews, some standing ovations. Excellent dynamic near-monologue for a talented actress. Fun parts for extras changing identities as train station transients.

§ Themes compassion, interconnection, mystery, power of search, quantum physics.

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Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online


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