Where the Plays Come From

By Jen Huszcza

I like writing short plays.

I know that’s like a carpenter saying she likes to hammer nails into wood or a pilot saying she likes the take-offs. It’s a pretty basic thing to say, but I do like working on short pieces.

I can try out ideas and bring them to completion—or not. Because I only have ten pages or less, I can’t have any fat on the play. Everything is important. Every line, gesture, costume, set, prop is important.

So where do my short plays come from?

For From the Mouths of Babes, I started with the topic itself. I let it tumble around in my head. From The Mouths of Babes. From The Mouths of Babes. From The Mouths of Babes.

Blow job!

Yes, that was the first thing that came into my head.

My internal critic yelled at me:

Jen! This play is going up in Prescott, Arizona! You promised Tiffany no sexy stuff! You could get run out of town.

I let my internal critic roll through all my fears and prejudices, then I wrote blow job on my paper.

The second thought was the song, “It Ain’t Me Babe” by Bob Dylan, but I thought about June Carter and Johnny Cash singing “it ain’t me babe, no, no, no, it ain’t me you’re looking for” at each other. Besides, it gave me an excuse to watch old Johnny Cash performances on youtube. Research!

My next thoughts were babes, babies, toddlers, children. When do adults behave like children? What are the audience expectations when they see adults onstage? In our civilized world, adults behave within certain parameters. What happens when those expectations fall away?

In the world of children, something ordinary can become extraordinary, but in the world of adults, something extraordinary can become bittersweet and painfully human. If I can get both working at the same time, I might just have something.

Or I could just write a play about a blow job. That’s one way to get a head.

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