category: full-length one-act
running time: one hour and thirty-five minutes
setting: two or more inter-connecting docu-dramas
Errol Alexander, a newscaster in his late twenties
Venus Alexander, his mother, a powerful woman
Steven Blair, his best friend, a lawyer
Gilbert Harris, their mutual friend, a pro-football star
Claudia Kane, his girlfriend, a super-model
Emily Porter, an aspiring novelist in her mid-twenties
After getting fired from his job, embittered newscaster Errol Alexander decides to finally embrace the life of ease and wealth he’s spent most of his adult career avoiding and compensating for. His mother, a powerful magazine publisher, agrees to fund his depravity in exchange for a favor: his good reputation used to sabotage the career of Emily Porter, an up and coming novelist of formidable integrity. The two meet and fall in love but despite this Errol publicly trashes her, using her own virtues to humiliate her. Secretly distraught over losing each other, the two are eventually re-united by Errol’s friends, who also help him repair his relationship with his mother. The entire story is told as a series of interconnecting interviews and dramatic scenes, culminating in a final television talk show where Emily explains why love can conquer all if it’s accompanied by understanding.
It has often been said that all of my work is romantic in nature and centers around romance, but Speak To Me is the only one of my full-length shows that I think of as being “a romance” because it’s the only one which is both a love story and a discussion of love in general. The title came during a phone call with Jim Driscoll-MacEachron and encapsulates my deeply held belief that the only bad conversation is the one we don’t have, that all others, however uncomfortable or unwelcome, will eventually prove good in the long-run if not in the immediate: the point is, the first act of love is talking to one another and listening to what we have to say. Once you agree to connect with someone instead of pushing them out, you’re on your way, even if the road is bumpy- and usually the more significant someone is to your life, the bumpier the road will be at times. Like a lot of my work, there is also a cry for the hero to choose a heroine who is challenging and exposes his vulnerability, but in a fairly unique move for me there is also a cry for the heroine to admit her own vulnerabilities, overcome her pride and live up to the creed she imparts even when it comes under fire. But if love is about communication it is also about endurance, especially as relationships change, destroy themselves, vanish, return and build themselves again, and one more thing that I love about this work is that no one in it is easy or one-hundred percent likable all of the time and I think their failings make them very human while increasing the romantic stakes tenfold. Structurally speaking, it’s also very sound, clocking in at a very sleek hour and a half, one of my most tightly constructed pieces, and making very economical use of the dialogue despite being quite chatty. The script contains no stage directions since I realized halfway through that everything important about the characters, setting, and action was all very apparent from what they were saying to one another- kind of neat, in my opinion, and I should hope very liberating for a director looking into producing the piece. There’s also tons for actors to work with and really, in the right hands, I think this is my most dynamic piece- all the passion and freshness of The Exiled but with the wisdom of an older writer, filtered through with just enough poetry to make the evening a poignant and wistful one despite some fairly screwball moments. It’s also just really funny in places and though the ending is the happiest ending I’ve ever written it’s also one of truest and almost always makes me cry, albeit in a good way, because it’s rare I ever let myself dream on paper as openly as I dreamed when writing Speak To Me.
No Nude Men Productions, November 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 2003, Spanganga Theater, in San Francisco, California. Directed and Designed by Stuart Bousel; Stage Managed by David Hadbawnik. Cast: Ryan Hayes (Errol), Lily Oglesby (Emily), Michaela Greeley (Venus), Daniel Bridges (Gilbert), Stacy Malia (Claudia), Wylie Herman (Steven)
No Nude Men Productions, August 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, September 1, 2, 3, 2005, Off Market Theater, Stage 205, in San Francisco, California. Directed by Stuart Bousel; Stage Managed by Chris Rader; Sound Design by Jim Fourniadis; Lighting Design by Chris Rader; Scenery by Jason Wong and Chris Rader. Cast: Joshua Lenn (Errol), Felicia Benefield (Emily), Celeste Coit (Venus), Henry Perkins (Gilbert), Nancy Bower (Claudia), Jason Wong (Steven)