History of Western Theatre: 17th Century to Now/Early American 21st
Plays in American drama that have so far drawn attention in the 21st century include "Anna in the tropics" (2002) by Nilo Cruz (1960-?), "Doubt" (2004) by John Patrick Shanley (1950-?), "A perfect wedding" (2004) by Charles Mee (1938-?), and "The distance from here" (2002) by Neil LaBute (1963-?). .
"Anna in the tropics"
Time: 1929. Place: Tampa, Florida, USA.
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Workers at a cigar factory hire a lector, Juan Julian, whose function is to read entertaining novels while they work to prevent boredom. The owner of the factory, Santiago, loses a considerable amount of money to his half-brother, Cherché, while gambling at a cockfight. At a loss to pay him back, Santiago is forced to give up shares of the company to him. After hearing the start of Leo Tolstoy's novel, "Anna Karenina", Santiago's daughter, Conchita, confronts her husband, Palomo, about his marital infidelities, and says that she has the same right as he. While discussing the love affairs contained in the novel with Juan Julian, but aware that her husband is watching, Conchita kisses him. To increase profits, Cherché buys machines to roll the cigars, but the workers worry about losing their jobs. Along with her sister, Marela, and their mother, Conchita agrees that such a move will have the unfortunate consequence of their firing the reader, who cannot be heard above the noise of the machines. The workers vote to maintain the reader. To increase profits, Santiago has another idea: provide a new brand of cigar, which the workers agree is a fine one. He pays back Cherché and orders him to rid himself of the machines. He also dresses up Marela in Russian clothes to publicize the new brand. Her beauty attracts Cherché, who courts her and, when unsuccesful in his desires, rapes her. Meanwhile, Palomo asks Conchita concerning details of her sexual relations with Juan Julian. She complies and they make love on the factory grounds. While discussing Anna Karenina's husband, Cherché, having lost his wife years ago to a reader, opines that he should have killed her lover. During the workers' celebration of the new cigar brand, Cherché stalks Juan Julian and shoots him dead.
John Patrick Shanley
Time: 1964. Place: New York, USA.
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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 immediately becomes 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 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 about 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"
Time: 2000s. Place: USA.
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.
"The distance from here"
Time: 2000s. Place: USA.
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Two teenage friends, Darrell and Tim, are shopping at a mall. While Darrell waits around expecting to find his girlfriend, Jenn, he impatiently heads out to get a refill of his drink. When she shows up, Tim hands her a gift, a compact disk Darrell once gave him. Because she is in a hurry, Jenn does not wait for Darrell and asks Tim on her way out to avoid mentioning to him that she passed by. At home, Darrell's stepfather, Rich, invites him to see stock-car racing on Friday night. He accepts. The next day, in the school parking lot, Darrell finds out from a friend that she saw Tim talking with Jenn at the mall. Back at home, Darrell prepares to sleep when Shari, Rich's daughter, invites him to do so next to her. He refuses. The next day, he confronts Tim about his omission at the mall and asks him not to do so again. At the end of the afternoon, all three are held up for different reasons at the school's detention center. Darrell encourages Tim to leave early with him, but Jenn, in fear of being expelled, does not follow them. Short of money to get a gift for Jenn's birthday, Darrell asks Rich to loan him some. Rich pretends not having any. A frustrated Darrell sneaks out with the keys of Rich's car and heads to a pet shop to buy her a puppy. An employee at the place remembers having seen Jenn on the videotape of a friend's house, engaging in oral sex and getting beaten up by him. Darrell is stunned. With Darrell absent, Rich goes out with his daughter to the stock car race. At the same time, Darrell takes hold of Shari's baby, drives out with Rich's car, and heads for the zoo, where he meets Tim and Jenn in front of the penguin pool. He confronts Jenn about the videotape, threatening to throw the baby into the pool unless she speaks the truth. She admits that two years ago the man on the videotape hit her stomach for the purpose of aborting Darrell's progeny and that oral sex was the man's reward since she was out of money to pay him. He nevertheless throws the baby into the pool and prevents Tim's attempts at rescue by climbing the wall. While Jenn defends Tim from being pummeled, the baby dies. Although Rich and Shari worry about Darrell's absence and the baby's, they console themselves with lover-like kisses while they wait for news.