A Scent of Honeysuckle
Toddie, Jean Lenox (American playwright, journalist, 19__-____), “A Scent of Honeysuckle,”
a __-minute bare-stage comedy-drama in English, set in the sitting room in Jessie’s home, at tea time, ____,
© 1983 by Jean Lenox Toddie;
• in Jean Lenox Toddie’s A Little Something for the Ducks and Scent of Honeysuckle (New York: Samuel French, Inc., 1983), ISBN 0573600597, 45 pp.;
• script/rights available from Samuel French, Inc., 25 West 45th Street, New York, New York 10010-2751, U.S.A., telephone 212-206-8990, fax 212-206-1429, http://www.samuelfrench.com; or 7623 Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California 90046-2795, U.S.A., telephone 213-876-0570, fax 213-876-6822; or 80 Richmond Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1P1, Canada, telephone 416-363-3536, fax 416-363-1108; or Samuel French, Ltd., 52 Fitzroy Street, London W1P 6JR, England;
• Cited in Play Index, 1983-1987: An Index to 3,964 Plays, edited by Juliette Yaakov (____-____) and John Greenfieldt (New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1988), ISSN 0554-3037, LCCN 64-1054, 522 pp.
Jessie (f); Susan (f), her mother (as remembered); Kate (f), 45, her daughter.
Kate, on a cold December day, has come to move her mother from the family home to Kate’s home twenty-five miles away. Jessie has packed a suitcase but now announces that she is not moving. Kate tries to placate the old lady with a cup of tea before they leave and reminisces with her. Susan, the mother Jessie remembers, materializes and talks to Jessie. Kate, never seeing Susan and only hearing Jessie, repeatedly misunderstands, taking this as more evidence to support the move. Jessie knows that in old age “memories have texture and take up space.” She recalls how through Susan’s prompting she met and married Kate’s father. Kate rejects Jessie’s reliving the past as hallucinations, and they argue over the family doctor’s diagnoses and advice. Susan intervenes by humming and dancing, focusing Jessie’s attention on the scent of honeysuckle outside. Kate reminds Jessie that this is not the season for honeysuckle. Jessie fails in an attempt to rise and tells Kate, “I’ll go quietly. . . . I’ll be in safe hands.” Kate goes to get gas for the car and to give her mother a few minutes to say good-byes to the house. Susan gently assists Jessie’s transit from life.
“Three generations of women struggle with need for independence.”—Yaakov and Greenfieldt, p. 371.
This sentimental drama calls attention to a growing social problem—caring for the aged. Its three strong roles illuminate how different the members of the same family can be. Jessie in consulting her past and following her premonition to resolve this crisis of old age centers the story. Kate, through slight adjustments in the script, could be a male role. Stage directions specify space staging and minimal props.
• “Over the past 20 years, [Jean Lenox Toddie’s] plays have won numerous national awards, including the prestigious John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award as well as the Festival of Firsts Playwriting Competition [in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, U.S.A.]. Ten of her plays have been published by Samuel French, a preeminent publisher of plays in the United States and England. In addition, two of her plays—’A Little Something for the Ducks’ and ‘White Room of My Remembering’—have been included in textbooks. . . . Described as a minimalist playwright, Toddie admits that her sets are not elaborate and attributes these qualities to her Quaker background, which stresses simplicity. Although some writers have the entire story in their heads when they sit down to write, Toddie has only her characters and the setting. ‘I put the characters in the setting and then watch what they do,’ she says. ‘I never know how it’s going to end. They come to life for me, and that’s the excitement of writing.’ Commitment, according to Toddie, is the key to a successful career in playwriting. She credits her ability to persevere in writing plays to her roots in journalism. ‘I was used to writing simply because I wrote for a newspaper. You can’t say you have a writer’s block if you write for a newspaper — you get your story in, and it’s in the next day’s paper.’”—Ilene Ladd, Alumni Profiles, http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/pr/BucknellWorld/1999-1/alumni.html, accessed August 2, 2002.
family, old age, three generations.