Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online

"Selective Memory"

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Turvin, Mark S. P. (American playwright, 19__- ), "Selective Memory,"

a 25-minute drama with adult language, set any spring after January 20th, 1981,


© 1989, 1993 Mark S. P. Turvin and Goldfish Publishers; script/rights available from Mark S. P. Turvin, 1901 E. Apache Boulevard #175, Tempe, AZ 85281-7508 or via e-mail at Cited by playwright via e-mail July 12, 1995; Turvin says,

Dramatis Personae "Jeff Kleins (m), 46, tall, dark, wears a formal tuxedo; Matt Kleins (m), 21, tall, dark, also wearing a tux, Jeff's son

Synopsis "Jeff sits at the table, waiting. His son, Matt, soon enters, carrying two coffee cups. After a stiff exchange of salutations and a pre-planned congratulations by Jeff about Matt's graduation from college, the conversation sinks to a series of near-misses on both sides about a myriad of topics. They discuss Matt's attending of graduate school for theatre writing and directing, which Jeff obviously has trepidations about. Matt describes how he was accepted into the program at Boston University. They discuss sports, Jeff forgetting the Matt enjoyed baseball. Throughout, Matt keeps bristling and Jeff grows more and more annoyed at their inability to communicate. Matt finally launches into a tirade against his father. He points out his father's general lack of interest in his activities, and how his father has forgotten the things that are important to him. Jeff eloquently explains why he is the way he is, talking about choices that were denied him by the times and situations he grew up in. He tries to justify his reactions to Matt's current situations. Matt lays into his father one last time, stating that his father never was around for him when he was growing up. "The tide of the conversation turns when Jeff starts pointing out the things that Matt has forgotten about his childhood, and how much time Jeff spent with him when he could. Jeff reminds Matt about their car trips together, and his sons interests in certain toys and books. They settle into a nostalgic, easier conversation for a short time, while Matt concedes that they both seem to have a selective memory. The tensions ease, until Matt begins to complain that he needed more time. Jeff tells him that this is impossible: Matt should be happy that they managed to get this far along. He advises him to learn from this, maybe write about this. Matt remains upset. Together, the father and son take the cups and candle off of the table top, then the tablecloth. A flat-topped coffin is revealed underneath. Matt opens the top of this coffin, and Jeff gets in. Matt closes the lid, then takes both coffee cups and exits.

Comments "This universal discussion explores links between fathers and sons, and its poignant ending is a reminder of how simple misunderstandings can lead to a lifetime of regrets. Setting is a dim stage. Center is a seven foot long, flat-topped coffin, set as a table with a starched white tablecloth, almost floor length. On the center of the makeshift table is a single candle in a beautiful silver holder. At each end of the makeshift table is a chair. In this somber setting, a father and son discuss the twenty-one years that have passed between them. Matt, who has just graduated from college, is readying to go to graduate school for playwriting and directing. His business-oriented father, Jeff, has obvious apprehensions about his sons artistic tendencies and what is in his future. Amidst an atmosphere of hesitation and suspicion on both parts, the father and son attempt to find a bond that will allow them to make up for the time that has led them to their current standoff. Seated at opposite ends of a long table, the two men try to get past the only connection that remains between them, the mother, to find something, anything, that will link them by more than an accident of birth. As they search, they discover how each has missed the other at many opportunities. They now realize that they have to rely on a selective memory to try to find where they lost their understandings of each other. Production and Publication History: 1987-1st (shorter) draft written and workshopped: Boston University; Boston, MA; 1988-1st draft produced: Emerson College; Boston, MA; 1990-1st prize: Arizona Commission of the Arts Playwright's Contest; 1991-1st draft produced: Stagebrush Theatre; Scottsdale, AZ; 1993-2nd (current) draft produced: Playwright's Workshop Theatre; Phoenix, AZ; 1995-2nd draft produced: Aurora Dinner Theatre; Abilene, TX; 1995-2nd draft published: Alabama Literary Review; Troy, AL" Turvin's home page has additional information.

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Small-Cast One-Act Guide Online
complements the print volume

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

by Lewis W. Heniford

(Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1995), ISBN 0-8108-2985-1, $39.50, plus s/h
Scarecrow Press, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706
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