Detroit MDQ: Will Ben and Mary survive the crises of Ben’s unemployment and Mary’s alcoholism and reach the American Dream? Thought: You must free yourself from old, false dreams, acknowledge when they aren’t working, and step outside your comfort zone to be able to see new dreams. Matrix statement: In a Midwestern suburb 50 years past its prime, the synergy between two starkly contrasting couples, both struggling to find meaningful, survivable futures, ignites an escalating, crazy dance that forcibly destroys old, false dreams and opens the door to new vulnerability and horizons.
World of the play: • The houses are in a first ring suburb in a large Midwestern city; the suburb was established in the 1950s, with this development completed by 1965 or so. It had fallen into neglect, but some pockets are occupied as ‘starter’ homes for people who follow the American dream; young couples trying to start out – acting out the American Dream – they watch TV improvement shows and cooking shows; Mary in particular watches Martha Stewart! • that dream is represented by the attainment of money and goods, and pursuit of a lifestyle and material goods. Ben and Mary still strive for this American dream, which dates from the time their house was built. They occupy a home in a neighborhood where the homes in nearby streets are falling down; For them, it could go either way: fall down or revive. They are beating back entropy; heads in the sand – but it’s nice clean sand they bought from HomeDepot ! to make everything look nice, like Martha Stewart.
The sounds are summer sounds: birds, lawnmowers, air conditioners, joggers, kids playing, cars passing, planes overhead, sprinklers, bug zappers; Also rock tunes from the late 90s (?); • Smells are mown grass, wet or hot pavement, heat, occasionally chemicals from a nearby industrial site, BBQ, lawnmower gas, and charcoal briquets, over crumbling wood, mold, oil-stained driveways; • Sights include freshly mowed grass next to weedy lots, falling down ‘for sale’ signs, similar house after house on curving streets – many sections abandoned or for sale, cracked and broken concrete sidewalks, a loose dog or two, occasional people jogging or walking dogs, a few lonely kids on bikes; • Tactile: rough; brick, chipped painted siding, cracked cement sidewalks and drives, grass and weeds, tree stumps and some large trees; some well cared for green lawns and tidy flower beds, next to weeds, falling down fences, etc. • Taste: bitterness and desperation masked with artificial sweetener;
Characters: Each pair wants to be like the other pair – they are exceedingly different, in class and experience; Kenny and Sharon want to be like Mary and Ben; Mary and Ben see something attractive in Kenny and Sharon;
Ideas • The wrong dream – American Dream not gonna work – it’s decayed and not viable anymore • ?? how to have the 1950s idealized suburb present along with the decayed/refurb version • question of how abstract are we going to go with the set? • Elements – maybe pare down to necessary things – that they use? • The idea that key elements don’t work as a symbol of the social breakdown • More of that – utensils or …..that are broken or that break??
Relationships, • Imitating each other – Kenny says exactly the same thing that Ben had said when putting the meat on the grill – more of that; they each want to be the other • K & S want a stable WC or even MC life, like M & B, they think • M & B don’t actually find their dream fulfilling – it’s all Martha Stewart-y and surface, so when K & S show up, they are drawn to the freedom and the reality of the emotions – key that K & S are going through rehab and the honesty they were taught there, altho that doesn’t last for them - they start drinking again and busting loose, which I think is the appeal of their drug/alcohol fueled partying life style.
Special problems • Umbrella • Falling through deck • Fire – downstage??