History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/American 21st

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Plays in American drama that have so far drawn attention in the 21st century include "Doubt" (2004) by John Patrick Shanley (1950-?) and "A perfect wedding" (2004) by Charles Mee (1938-?).

John Patrick Shanley, 2011


"Doubt". Time: 1964. Place: New York, USA.

In a Catholic grammar school, Father Flynn sermonizes on the subject of human bonds, specifying that negative ones can also be binding. "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty," he declares. Sister Aloysius, principal of the school, criticizes Sister James for excessive friendliness towards the students. She acquiesces relunctantly to this charge. She later informs her superior that the only black boy in the school, Daniel Muller, is not teased by the other boys as one would expect because Father Flynn serves as his protector. Sister Aloysius becomes immediately suspicious of this relationship. Sister James informs her that after leaving Father Flynn's company at the rectory, the boy appeared strange in class and his breath smelled of alcohol. More suspicious than ever, Sister Aloysius asks to see Father Flynn's in her office to question him about Muller. His explanation of the boy's strange behavior is that he stole altar wine and drank some. She does not believe this story and calls the boy's mother to learn more. She knows nothing. Despite learning the sister's suspicions, she prefers to let things remain as they are. Sister Aloysius does not accept this. To his face, she accuses Father Flynn of an illicit relation with the boy. Though denying any wrongdoing, he quits his position to obtain a better one elsewhere. To Sister Aloysius, this is tantamount to admitted guilt, to Sister James a subject of doubt.

"A perfect wedding"[edit]

"A perfect wedding". Time: 2000s. Place: USA.

"A perfect wedding" text at http://www.panix.com/userdirs/meejr/html/perfectwedding.html

On the wedding day of Meridee and Amadou, the bride's brother, Jonathan, is heard to make cynical comments. "A bride and groom start out in life with their whole marriage, the whole center of their lives from then on, based on things they think are a total lie," he says. Before the ceremony, the bridegroom decides to takes a walk in the woods without knowing there is quicksand there. Jonathan is amazed Amadou was never told of that. The wedding party start to worry as his absence is more and more prolonged. Meridee decides to look for him in the woods, where she meets James, the boyfriend of her sister Tessa. "I saw you standing here feeling lost and abandoned and my heart just went out to you," he says. Meridee impulsively kisses him then quickly goes on her way. When Tessa arrives, he comments favorably on the human susceptibility of feeling disoriented. "Maybe sometimes it's not bad to be lost, Tessa, to be reminded how it is to step out into the unknown, because whether a person is afraid or not there is a certain sense of exhilaration that comes from just throwing yourself into new territory; it sets you free," he says. He asks her to marry him, but she refuses. When Jonathan's girlfriend, Ariel, arrives, she says: "Seeing you standing here feeling lost and abandoned, my heart just went out to you." She kisses the bewildered James. As he rushes out, she finds Jonathan and sounds out his feelings about marriage. He appears uninterested. After he leaves, she finds Amadou. Seeing her depressed, he kisses her. The kiss is seen by Meridee. "I thought the next big event of my life would be getting married, but now I see the next big event will be dying," she dejectedly declares. "I've pursued you and pursued you and pursued you in every way for all these years and you have rejected me and rejected me and rejected me...I keep trying over and over to let you go, and even as I say that it takes my breath away to think that I would let go of the only person in my life I have ever loved so completely, you've been my life itself to me, that's what I find so hard to let go of and why, when I come close to letting go, it feels like the only death I'll die." To console her, Ariel kisses her. They kiss passionately. When Amadou's family arrive to the party, they find no Amadou. His father, Vikram, chats about his preferences concerning the female body and his wife, Djamila, about Hindu deflowering rituals. He mentions his first wife left him. The guests and wedding planners commiserate with him. Heated words are exchanged among Amadou's family members. Willy throws a mudball at Frank's chest and Edmund retaliates in the same manner. When Vikram intervenes, Frank throws a mudball at him and a general melee ensues in a mud-pit until Maria cries out there may be danger in that they may all be standing on quicksand. Instead of fighting, they try to extricate themselves from the mud. Meridee enters to say she no longer wants to marry Amadou. In the confusion, Frank is told that his mother has just died. He sees two men carrying in her coffin. He collapses, then digs a hole to be with her, helped by the wedding guests. Seeing an opportunity to make more money, the wedding organizers propose to plan the funeral, but the guests simply join hands in a circle, keen, and ululate. Champagne is passed around. Vikram warns his son not to be overhasty in his decision. "When you come to the end of your life, what do you think will have mattered to you at all except that you knew another person and loved her?" he says. With the wedding paraphernalia about to be wasted, two of the planners, Issac and Dieter, decide to marry each other, by which time the bride changes her mind and surprises the groom by choosing Ariel instead of him. This agreed to, Tessa confesses she has always loved Amadou and he her. In the general joy of a double wedding, Frank reaches down to take a handful of dirt and slowly pours it out of his hand on the coffin.