Professor Featherflowers comes on stage and begins her lecture, "How to Write a Play." You're snoring already, right? That's exactly what the Stage Manager is worried about when he peeks through the curtain and tells the Professor to "jazz it up," that she needs to open with a joke. The professor then tells him she did. "You see," she says, "You don't really exist - I made you up. YOU are my opening joke!" Needless to say, he doesn't believe her and calls for his sound person, Shirley, to come out. The Professor then tells them both that they aren't real and simply characters she invented for to demonstrate her speech. From there on out it's all a question of what is real and what isn't as they are then joined by the Director, a Southern Belle, a Shakespearean Lord and a tap-dancing chicken. Also, a silent woman keeps bringing out props as the Professor makes notes in her speech. Is the Professor making all this up? If so, has she lost control of her characters? Why won't the woman speak? What is real and what isn't? This farcical existential spoof is full of deeper meanings. At least, that's what the Director believes. "Maybe we all represent the planets?" he questions. "Maybe we're the Great Lakes!" yells Shirley, "And you're Erie!"
PLAYWRIGHT PAT COOK
TALKS ABOUT "LIVE, ONSTAGE!"
Q. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A: Actually, I was asked to give a speech on playwriting by fellow Eldridge playwright Eddie Cope for his scriptwriters group here in Houston (attended by other Eldridge writers Sam Havens and Carl Williams, I might add). I thought there might be an idea in some professor giving a speech on writing a play and everyone else who shows up onstage turns out to be his creations - they only exist on stage. And I just went on from there.
Q. WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE IN THE PLAY?
A: Probably has to be the tap-dancing chicken. I have ALWAYS wanted to put in a tap-dancing chicken some where.
Q. WHERE DID THE CHARACTERS COME FROM? ARE THEY BASED ON PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
A: This is always a dangerous question to answer. Offhand, I better stick with my above answer -- the tap dancing chicken.
Q. WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS PLAY?
A: I wanted to do something totally theatrical, something to show just what you can do onstage and how, sometimes mind you, it may blur the lines between reality and absurdity.
Q. DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
A: Yes, the tap-dancing chicken isn't REALLY based on anyone I know (Whew! Glad I got that off my chest!)