I like trying new things so I entered a contest for 10-minute plays for the local theater company a couple months ago. My play, A Difference, was not selected — not surprisingly.
It was my first attempt at a play and it was rushed, but I still like the idea I came up with it for the contest.
The contest itself called for plays that could be adapted to our Covid 19 Times, in which the actors and directors would be doing this over zoom or smoother video conferencing software. It expressly said the play did not have to be a zoom meeting.
So I chose to create a short piece about three people going to interview for the same job. The play involved a 50-year-old man who has been out of work for a while because he has to take care of an ailing wife. A single mom who used to be a drug courier and whose ex is in prison, and a freshly-minted college grad living at home with his folks.
What I hoped to show was the internal doubt and fear that grips people as they head to a final job interview in what has become in many instances an almost a sadistic practice among businesses.
To help illustrate the point, I created Ms. Trust, a phantom of both doubt and truth, who sits with each job candidate as they get ready for their interviews that day. Not only does she stoke their fears, but she does it in a way that builds upon truths that each character knows about him or herself.
How each character reacts to Ms. Trust says something about themselves and where they are in life as well as the process.
Anyway, this was my overarching hope for the piece, but fitting it into 10 minutes proved difficult for me. I had to cut out the new college grad character completely and the aspects of the horros of job interviews was also lost in translation.
I was able to keep a little bit o the hiring manager in there, but not to the effect I would have liked.
Still, I thought the issue of doubts and concerns of heading to an interview in our modern world was decently done, though still too rough for production, I guess. Still I thought it would have been fun to work with the director and actors on presenting the piece from different angles.
It’s something I would like to pursue, either as a story or as a full play, later.
Here’s a small sample:
Mike, the 50-year old ex-musical instrument salesman, is sitting in his beat up old car with Ms. Trust arguing over his chances of getting the job. Ms. Trust has just deflated Mike’s position that people like him and want him…
MIKE — Stop. Just stop it. I need to be positive. I have experience. I’m a character. People like me. They think I’m funny.
MS. TRUST — Oh, sweetie! I know that’s what the jobs coach told you. I know. But I also know what you know. You suspect you’re a phony. That all those years of selling, of coming and and glad handing everyone… of telling those bad jokes and laughing at the even worse ones you heard from your customers. That all those years you were really selling yourself until you went out of stock. And now, at this, the twilight of your life, when you really need this job, you feel people can see right into the emptiness that you’ve become. And you know something, darling, they can.
MIKE — GET OUT! GET… (He catches himself, closes his eyes.) Breathe Mike. Just breathe. You got this. This woman is not here…