I was talking to someone the other day who had read the script to Plank and she commented that it was a very complicated play to stage. It isn't. That's the thing about it, it looks complicated, but it is so simple that I'm guessing that's why people think it's complicated.
The play is meant to be simple. When I first started writing it, I intentionally thought of the simplest thing I could, and wrote: A single plank of wood floats in the middle of the ocean. Daylight. Sparkling sunlight. After that I knew a character could only fall out of the sky or come up out of the ocean, and since falling out of the sky seemed a bit much even for me, I had Potpee burst out from under the water.
The play calls for a minimum of three actors, and the set consists of a plank of wood. That's it. And the script consists of more action than dialogue. How much simpler can you get?
You can have as many actors as you want or can afford or that will fit on your stage, but three is the minimum. And Potpee (the name means Person on the Plank) is played by a woman. You could put a plank of wood between two chairs, or construct a contraption consisting of springs and wire and I don't know what else, depending on the imagination, creativity, and talent of your designers. The script intentionally allows for an enormous amount of leeway when it comes to the actor's motivation, but there are also very definite clues to tell the creative team what is happening. For example, when Potpee writes the following poem on the plank after gazing at the night sky, it gives clues as to the location and time of the play:
Oh gallant hunter
Chasing bulls through the night.
Striding bold in spite of
Or is it because of
You have gained obvious strength since I last saw you
Carrying twins on your shoulders light
Faithful Sirius trots at your heel trusting
His Master's guidance on your heavenly journey
That will continue long after I've completed mine.
This tells us that if we are in the northern hemisphere, then it is winter because Orion is a winter constellation. But if it's winter, then we have to be fairly far south so Potpee doesn't die of exposure. The twins and the bull are the constellations Gemini and Taurus, so we know she has a clear view of that part of the sky.
Maybe what throws people is the incredible amount of latitude I give theater artists to develop their own play, and I know the script would attract a certain type of theater artist--one trained and steeped in devised theater--over a more traditional theater artist.
Alley Cat Theater
Alley Cat Theater produces new work that is intelligent, compelling, and thoughtful, telling stories by pushing the boundaries of the theater.