STATE OF THE ART
________________

by

Craig Abernethy

Copyright © 2010


Cast of Characters

Fran or Frank:  A woman or man who thinks highly of self, and is oldest of the three.

Sue or Sam:     An eager to please woman or man and youngest of the three. Carries a
clipboard and pencil.

Jean or Jack:   A woman or man and crony of Fran/Frank’s.

Voice:          The voice of a woman or man heard from speakers placed behind (and/or in)
the audience.

The characters wear plain trousers [e.g. chinos] and polo or Oxford cloth shirts.

SETTING:        An almost bare stage: three or four black boxes and a broom, ladder, etc.
are seen against the Up Stage wall.

TIME:           The present.

NOTE:           Programs should contain the following advisory: "SETTING: The writer’s
mind. The set is bare stage with black boxes, used as needed.”

While women or men can play each role, masculine character names and pronouns are used
throughout this script (and should be adjusted per casting.

AT RISE:        A dimly lit stage and, after a moment, the lights go down then come up
suddenly on Sam and Jack as Frank enters.

FRANK                                  
(Enters)
Well, where were we?

(Jack and Sam turn to him)

JACK
Just getting started, “beginning at the beginning.”

SAM
Start at the start.

FRANK
Excellent: “beginning.”

JACK
How was your little break?

FRANK
Fine, thanks. “Beginning.”

JACK
“At the beginning.” How’s the time?

FRANK
Only have the place nearly an hour.

JACK
That’ll be enough?

FRANK
We’ll have something to show them. “Beginning.”

SAM
(Tentatively after a breath)
How?

JACK
How what?

SAM
Excuse me, but, how do we begin, our beginning?

FRANK
“How do we begin our beginning?” Good. Must know that.

JACK
Only have the place nearly an hour?

FRANK
Or so. “Beginning at the beginning.”

JACK
An entrance!?

FRANK
What?

JACK
Someone enters!?

SAM
To sort of start things off?

FRANK
Excellent!
(To Jack)
You really have a knack for this.

JACK
(Smiles)
Thanks.

SAM
Someone enters, and… we’re off!

JACK
Given that, but… someone enters and what? What do they do?

FRANK
Can’t have them just walking on, they’ve got to do something. They enter and… say
something!

JACK
Of course!

FRANK
They enter, and say something.

SAM
(Writing a note)
To who?

FRANK
What?

SAM
To who do they say…

FRANK
Ahhh!

SAM
…what they say?

JACK
I got it! They say something; but who to?

FRANK
Worth considering. Hmm.

JACK
We could have somebody already out there when the enterer enters.

SAM
Sort of already “there!”

FRANK
Yes! Make a note. Please. One on, and one enters. Good.

(Sam writes on the clipboard)

JACK
So now we’re up to two.

FRANK
(Reads over Sam’s shoulder)
“One on, and one enters.”

SAM
Why stop there?

FRANK
Hmmm?

SAM
Why stop at two? Why not three?

FRANK
(To Jack)
It’s a fair question.

JACK
“Why not three?”

SAM
My question exactly.

JACK
(A little exasperated)
Yes(!), in fact, your question exactly: “why not three?”

FRANK
Now; now: he’s only trying to help.

JACK
I know… it’s just sometimes… He’s, well…

FRANK
Why not? Say: two on and one enters.

JACK
Three?

FRANK
Two on and one enters.

JACK
(Agitated)
You’re sure?

FRANK
Two’s so dreary. Always talking just to each other.

SAM
(Trying to help)
First one; then the other.

FRANK
No one else there. First one; then the other. “A, B; A, B; A, B…”

SAM
No one else there. “A, B; A, B…”

FRANK
First one; then the other. Tiresome. Predictable.

SAM
Repetitive.

FRANK
(To Sam)
I think I covered that.

JACK
(Stops)
That’s it then: three.

FRANK
I think it’s a way to go. “Beginning”-wise.

SAM
(Consults his notes)
Now one is on; and one enters?

(A brief pause while they regard one another)

FRANK
I see your point.
(“Leads” Jack)
One is on,… and one enters…

JACK
Oh! Where’s the third? On? Off?

FRANK
One is on, with or with out someone, and one enters, with out or with, someone else. Where’
s the third?

JACK
With one on and two off coming on you get:…

FRANK
(Unimpressed)
One on and two off.

JACK
Whereas…

FRANK
With two on and one off coming on, you get…

JACK
An explosion!

SAM
An eruption?

JACK
Fireworks, at least.

FRANK
That’s it then: two on and one off coming on. Entering. Write that down, please: “two on,”
and so on.
(Takes a breath and off-handedly to Jack)
This is us. This is what we do.

JACK
Only have the place nearly an hour?

FRANK
Don’t fret: we’ll have something to show them.

JACK
And they’ll like it?

FRANK
As long as we have something likeable.

JACK
And if we don’t?

FRANK
We will. It’s a process. We do this.

JACK
It’s just that…

FRANK
You get nervous. It’s a lot, I know: “two on; one off”-wise. But we do this. Before. Now.
Always.

JACK
Thanks.

SAM
And the two on…? Talking? “A, B; A, B?”

FRANK
Banal.

SAM
Just thought I’d ask.

FRANK
Always good to get it out there. No “wrong” ideas here. Feel free to share.

SAM
Thanks.
(Waits a moment)
What then?

JACK
What?

SAM
What are they doing?

JACK
“Doing?”.

FRANK
(Takes a breath and to Jack initially)
It’s a valid point. His point. We have one off waiting to come on, and two on, and they
have to be doing something. Can’t just have them standing around: out there, in front of
everybody

SAM
Where are they?

JACK
“What” is more important.

SAM
Than what?

JACK
Than “where.” Have to be doing something: “two on”-wise.

(They consider the issue for a moment or two)

FRANK
Unless!

JACK
Yes?

FRANK
Unless..? Work with me here…

JACK
Not yet fully formed?

FRANK
No. But forming…

SAM
Yes?

JACK
Shhh! He’s “forming.”

FRANK
Unless it all sort of happens… sort of all… lickety-split at once. You know: bare stage;
house to half; house out; lights up, two on, and one off comes on! Enters!

JACK
And?

FRANK
And we begin!

JACK
Brilliant!

SAM
(Making notes)
So it’s dark; and then the lights come up…?

FRANK
(Enthused)
And the one off comes on!

JACK
And the two on? Are… waiting?

(A brief pause)

FRANK
No. Waiting’s been done.

JACK
Waiting’s been done?

FRANK
To death.
(Excited)
The lights come up; and the one off comes on; and they… turn! No. The lights come up and
the one off comes on, and says something; and they turn! No! First they’re facing away
and then the lights come up, and the one off enters, and says something, and they turn!
(Takes a breath)
And we’re off!

JACK
“Says something.” “They turn.”
(To Sam)
You got all that? “Start”-wise.

SAM
“Two on.” “Enters.” “Says something.” “They turn.” Says…?

(They pause to think and after a moment)

FRANK
“Well, where were we?”

JACK
That’s good. They’ll like that. “Well, where were we?”

SAM
Really. Yes!

FRANK
Write that down.

(End of sample...)

A complete script can be obtained by e-mailing
Craig here