This is NoT a PiPe Dream - Dramatic Publishing

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This is NoT a PiPe Dream Drama by barry KorNhauser © The Dramatic Publishing Company ISBN 10: 1-58342-861-5 ISBN 13: 978-1-58342-861-0 This Is Not a Pipe Dream Dramatic Publishing 311 Washington St. Woodstock, IL 60098-3308 Phone: (800) 448-7469 This is NoT a PiPe Dream AATE Distinguished Play Award Winner “Charming and extraordinary … If the life of a surrealist painter seems like a peculiar subject for young audiences, you should be aware of one of the many achievements of This Is Not a Pipe Dream … Audiences will leave with an appreciation for the power to transform the ordinary into the wonderful.” —The New York Times “Hats off! … An innovative, risk-taking venture … one of the best productions of this theatrical season for audiences of any age … Hilariously ridiculous … hauntingly magical … The clowning will have you guffawing in spite of yourself, and the images of loneliness and loss are so palpable that they can’t help but provoke goose bumps.” —Chicago Tribune “Kornhauser’s exploration of theatre, art and reality is … fed by Magritte’s observations and signature images. [In] this unusual fantasy romp … fittingly, little is quite what it seems. … This sometimes thoughtful, sometimes wacky play deliberately keeps the audience guessing about the nature of reality.” —Los Angeles Times Drama. By Barry Kornhauser. Cast: 2m., 2w., 1 either gender. Based freely on the work and early life of surrealist artist René Magritte, this is an unorthodox adventure in theatrical form. It celebrates art and the imagination and the ways in which these help us confront life’s mysteries. Here is the story of young René who wants to be an artist, a notion dismissed by his father as “a pipe dream.” Encouraged by his mother, before her untimely death, the boy begins his quest. He follows his vision into the delightfully absurd magic-realism of his famous paintings. The boy and the audience discover something of the true power of dreams and the triumph of imagination. The multi-image dramatic staging incorporates spectacular color images of René Magritte’s artwork. Unit set. Approximate running time: 50 minutes. Color art image CD available. Code: TL9. (Cover artwork: Magritte reproduction courtesy of The Estate of René Magritte.) © The Dramatic Publishing Company This Is Not a Pipe Dream by BARRY KORNHAUSER Dramatic Publishing Company Woodstock, Illinois ● Australia ● New Zealand ● South Africa © The Dramatic Publishing Company *** NOTICE *** The amateur and stock acting rights to this work are controlled exclusively by THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. without whose permis- sion in writing no performance of it may be given. Royalty must be paid every time a play is performed whether or not it is presented for profit and whether or not admission is charged. A play is performed any time it is acted before an audience. Current royalty rates, applications and restrictions may be found at our website:, or we may be contacted by mail at: THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC., 311 Washington St., Woodstock, IL, 60098. COPYRIGHT LAW GIVES THE AUTHOR OR THE AUTHOR’S AGENT THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO MAKE COPIES. This law provides authors with a fair return for their creative efforts. Authors earn their living from the royalties they receive from book sales and from the performance of their work. Conscientious observance of copyright law is not only ethical, it encourages au- thors to continue their creative work. This work is fully protected by copyright. No alterations, deletions or substitutions may be made in the work without the prior written consent of the publisher. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, includ- ing photocopy, recording, videotape, film, or any information storage and re- trieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. It may not be performed either by professionals or amateurs without payment of royalty. All rights, including, but not limited to, the professional, motion picture, radio, tele- vision, videotape, foreign language, tabloid, recitation, lecturing, publication and reading, are reserved. For performance of any songs, music and recordings mentioned in this play which are in copy- right, the permission of the copyright owners must be obtained or other songs and recordings in the public domain substituted. ©MCMLXXXVII Book by BARRY KORNHAUSER Printed in the United States of America All Rights Reserved (THIS IS NOT A PIPE DREAM) ISBN: 978-1-58342-861-0 © The Dramatic Publishing Company IMPORTANT BILLING AND CREDIT REQUIREMENTS All producers of the play must give credit to the author of the play in all pro- grams distributed in connection with performances of the play and in all in- stances in which the title of the play appears for purposes of advertising, pub- licizing or otherwise exploiting the play and/or a production. The name of the author must also appear on a separate line, on which no other name appears, immediately following the title, and must appear in size of type not less than fifty percent (50%) the size of the title type. Biographical information on the au- thor, if included in the playbook, may be used in all programs. In all programs this notice must appear: “Produced by special arrangement with THE DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC. of Woodstock, Illinois.” © The Dramatic Publishing Company To all my family with love. © The Dramatic Publishing Company 6 This Is Not a Pipe Dream was commissioned by the Fulton Opera House of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and was first pro- duced from February through May, 1988, under the direction of Mary Hall Surface. Actors: Holly Baumgardner Cynthia Charles Robert Emmett Greene Rande Mele Production: Mary Hall Surface..................................................... Director Edward H. Jameson .....................Production Stage Manager Norman B. Dodge, Jr. ........................................Set Designer Beth Dunkelberger....................................Costume Designer Ross Care .......................................... Original Music Creator © The Dramatic Publishing Company 7 This Is Not a Pipe Dream CHARACTERS (Cast. 2m., 2w., 1 either gender) ANONYMOUS MAN (ANONYMOUS MEN) The INTERLOCUTOR STAGE MANAGER RENÉ MOTHER FATHER TEACHER GEORGETTE PROJECTIONS Black and white reproductions of the images of paintings and photos so intimately related to this text can be found at the end of the script. These are available, many in full color, as digital projection im- ages and may be ordered from the publisher, The Dramatic Pub- lishing Company, Inc., for use in production of the play. Should producers prefer to make their own versions of the paintings, they will find the projection images useful for design and ren- dering. The estate of René Magritte has licensed the use of these pictures for productions of this play, as long as full credit is given to the artist, and the copyright line appears on all printed programs of productions of this play. “Magritte reproductions used by per- mission from the Estate of René Magritte, ©1991, C. Her- scovici/ARS, NY.” © The Dramatic Publishing Company 8 PRODUCTION NOTES This Is Not A Pipe Dream is based both on the early life of artist René Magritte and on the large body of his work. As regards the former, let it be said at the outset that the subject’s birth certifi- cate is hardly as valuable a document as the playwright’s poetic license. But the ideas and images of the adult artist are treated with a touch more sacrosanctity. In some respects the play serves as a translation of this work, from the language of paint on can- vas to that of the stage. Consequently, one should look to that work for clues to both the performance style and look of the play. The term Magic Realism as it applies to both art and literature may best capture the es- sence. Michel Foucault once wrote of Magritte’s fascination for “heterotopias,” sorts of elaborate visual non sequiturs. The dic- tionary defines the word as “misplacement or displacement, as of an organ/the formation of tissue in a part where it is abnor- mal.’’ Well, if this play was a person, he’d probably make medical history. It is structured around the displacement of both words and images. Foucault’s book, This Is Not A Pipe Dream derives its name from the same source as does this drama. Like his book, the play is “a cornucopia of word plays, wisecracks, and slapstick repetitions,’’ perhaps best described as a kind of “analytical car- toon.” The source, of course, is a painting by Magritte. That this can- vas and others by the artist appear in some form throughout the work is integral to its design. To this end, a suggestion. A very functional backdrop might assume the appearance of one of Magritte’s many polyptychs, with four to six panels. (1) Stage Right Top: A working window painted to convey the illusion that a cloud-filled blue sky lies behind its glass. As this window is opened, in shutter-like fashion, the sky goes with it. The opening must be large enough to accommodate a man’s head and torso. (2) Center Top: A reproduction of Magritte’s La trahison des im- ages/The Perfidy of Images (This painting has alternately been © The Dramatic Publishing Company 9 titled L ‘usage de la parole l/The Use of Language l, L’air et la chanson/The Air and The Song, and not surprisingly, Ceci n’est pas une pipe/This Is Not A Pipe.) including the legend in its orig- inal French. Refer to Projection 2. (3) Stage Left Top: A rear-pro- jection screen. (4) Center Bottom: A readily removable panel, the appearance of which is unimportant as it will be obscured by a large box, described below. (5 & 6) Stage Right and Left Bottom: Optional. Standard, illus- trative Magrittian icon can be selected. The apple, the stone, the bowler hat, or the paper cuts-out are all good choices (Fulton Opera House production eliminated the use of projections and replaced them with interchangeable panels on the back drop it- self, manipulated by the actors to create an ever transient back- ground for the play. The window, placed centrally on the top row of the polyptych, was constructed so that it could be hidden by panels when so desired. See Illustration A). One of René Magritte’s earliest memories was of a large box in his bedroom. The large box, mentioned above, that hides the bottom central panel of the backdrop, has a lid for its top, and a false back so that entrances and exits can be made from there through the backdrop. The only other set piece at the top of the show is an easel holding a canvas, its back to the audience, stand- ing downstage to one side. As one of the purposes of this play is to negate the traditional theatrical illusion of reality, masking is intended to heighten ef- fect, not to conceal the “workings” of the piece. The stage man- ager, then, and his equipment are placed in clear sight of the au- dience. Should additional masking be desired, it can be modeled after Magritte’s curtain-shaped ”flats” as seen in Projection 21. Le beau monde/The Beautiful World. Music is called for to underscore certain scenes. Certainly, it can be used elsewhere as director and composer see fit. In all instanc- es, a sound, that is clearly synthesized, best serves the play. The scenes generally speak for themselves; only in a few special cases © The Dramatic Publishing Company 10 is any specific reference made to the ambient mood the scoring must convey, and there are places where the music of vaudeville shows, silent film comedies, and carnivals is clearly most appro- priate. All music is taped, as are various sound effects, although most should be live and the responsibility of the stage manager. His use of a tuba on stage would be welcome as this instrument is one of Magritte’s common images. However, in a touring pro- duction, the bulk of this brass beast makes the question of “Tuba or not tuba” purely academic. As the audience arrives, the stage manager can help with seating. If there is no fixed arrangement of chairs, it is advisable to estab- lish two central aisles, cutting the audience vertically and hori- zontally, and of course, aisles along the sides. An introduction is provided, and the play begins. © The Dramatic Publishing Company 11 This Is Not a Pipe Dream SCENE 1 AT RISE. Music. Projection 1. Le mois des vendanges/The Time of the Harvest (One of Magritte’s ubiquitous men in bowler hat and top- coat appears briefly at the window, looking this way and that. This figure shall henceforth be referred to as the ANONY- MOUS MAN, both for his universality of appearance and generality of purpose. Ultimately, all four of the actors in the play shall assume this role, often two or three concur- rently. But audience members should always be persuaded that it is one omnipresent figure that they are seeing. To this purpose, each should assume the same particular posture, style of movement, and vocal mannerisms, and wear identi- cal half mask, exposing only the lower jaw. After leaving the window, the ANONYMOUS MAN appears at one side of the backdrop. Again, he peers about before tip-toeing across to the other side. He disappears behind the backdrop and reappears almost instantaneously where he began. Several humorous bits of business occur in which one man somehow appears to be in almost two places at once; the window being used along with the two entrances on either side of the backdrop. After a time, the audience is allowed to see two identical men simultaneously. It becomes increasingly apparent, and comically so, that a pursuit is underway. A third such figure soon becomes involved. All © The Dramatic Publishing Company 12 This Is Not a Pipe Dream three of these men are the pursuers, who eventually wield segments of “metal” pipe. Finally, their intended victim appears. It is an actress disguised by the characteristic top- coat and bowler hat of the ANONYMOUS MAN, but with radically different trousers, shoes, and shirt. This actress will soon assume a special role in the play. To call that role “narrator” does not do it justice. More appropriate is the use of a term borrowed from the minstrel show—the INTERLOCUTOR—that special conversation- al go-between, between performers, and performers and spectators. Our INTERLOCUTOR is spotted and is pursued into the audience by the three others. Slapstick, cartoon-like el- ements of chase are encouraged here and throughout the scene. The actress loses her pursuers in the crowd. She hides in the box, the lid slamming behind her. Alerted by the sound, the pursuers arrive, open the box, and violently attack its insides with their pipes, to the accompaniment of appropriate sound effects. At one point, they stop and speak in absolute unison.) ANONYMOUS MEN (to audience). Don’t try this at home. (They resume. Before long, the actress appears from the wings and closes each of the pursuers in the box. Sound stops. Then she lifts the lid for a peek. Sound. A game en- sues between the actress and the STAGE MANAGER, she trys unsuccessfully to foil his cues. Before long, she notic- es the spectators, takes one last look into the box—with sound—and then turns to address her audience.) SCENE 2 INTERLOCUTOR. Oh, you needn’t be too concerned. This isn’t © The Dramatic Publishing Company This Is Not a Pipe Dream 13 real, you know. It’s just a play. The performing artist’s living canvas. (Pointing to the reproduction on the polyptych and the identical Projection 2. La trahison des images/The Perfidy of Images.) In 1928 and 29, another artist, named René Magritte, painted a canvas of his own—the portrait of a pipe with the accompanying legend (Marking each French word on the pic- ture.) “This is not a pipe.’’ Well, just as a PICTURE of a pipe is not, in fact, a pipe, neither is a play real life. Here. (The window on the backdrop opens. An ANONYMOUS MAN appears, an apple floating In front of his face. Pro- jection 3. La grande guerre/The Great War The apple is plucked by the INTERLOCUTOR.) INTERLOCUTOR (cont’d). An apple. (The ANONYMOUS MAN drops a stone in her hand, and closes the window.) INTERLOCUTOR (cont’d). A stone. In reality, quite different. (Projection 4. La grande table/The Large Table.) INTERLOCUTOR (cont’d). In art, the same. Bits of pigment on canvas. Onstage—props. (She mimes biting into the apple; we hear the sound of a loud crunch and swallow. She then mimes a bite into the stone; we hear the very same sound effect.) INTERLOCUTOR (cont’d). In a play, one can get hit on the head … (An ANONYMOUS MAN pops out of the box, beaming the INTERLOCUTOR with his metal pipe to the accom- paniment of a sound effect that will become a standard © The Dramatic Publishing Company