A while back, I took a couple of sketch writing classes over at ImprovBoston. Those were great, because every week I'd have an assignment to write a short scene -- three-to-five pages long, generally -- usually with some sort of spin or angle on which to focus. It was a nice contrast to the essay-y sort of things I normally do here (plus I got a 'bonus' post out of the effort every week), and I've been missing the prompts a bit.
(What's that, you say? I could just write these little vignettes, without a prompt or a deadline, any old time I feel like it?
Right. You've clearly got me mixed up with some other kind of 'writer'. The kind that doesn't exist, so far as I've ever met.)
At any rate, I thought of getting back into an IB writing class. But that's a bit of a problem. Last time I tried to take the next level, I was the only schmuck who signed up. This session, they didn't even offer it. And the house sketch group I picked up with over the winter has apparently disbanded.
(Sort of makes you wonder. Either these 'improv' people really aren't all that interested in scripted material, or I'm wearing completely the wrong brand of cologne. Maybe a little of both.)
Luckily for me, my friend Jenn is teaching an online course out of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design this month. Not only does it come with prompts and assignments and learny things, but soon I'll be able to say I have the same alma mater as Stuart Bloom.
"So you can go woo yourself, for all I care."
Because that's a completely rational thing for someone to want. Or care about. Or randomly remember from an aggressively-syndicated sitcom.
Anyway, this is not strictly a 'sketch writing' class. But the first assignment was a sketch. It was due yesterday. I think you can probably guess what's coming next.
So please to be enjoying 'A Date with Kate' below. We were asked to interpret Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew into a modern scene, which takes place at a speed dating event.
Jeez, Jenn -- why don't you throw in a snake charmer and a pair of toenail clippers next time? Trying to make us work much?
(I retract my previous statement, on the grounds that it's still the first week of class and I don't want to give her ideas any kookier than the ones she already has planned.
Because she'll do it. Just watch her.)
Without further ado, my 'shrew'. Thank yew.
At the far end of the bar sits KATLYN [30s, severe], reading a book. She's dressed in sweats and clearly not interested in the hubbub around her.
A bell DINGs; as the men switch tables, PETE breaks away and approaches Katlyn.]
PETE: Hey there! It's Kate, right?
[Katlyn glares at him over her book, then goes back to reading.]
PETE: I'm Pete. I was just talking to your sister, but I'd much rather sit with you.
[Pete motions to a nearby table where BIANCA [20s, pretty, bubbly] is sitting, surrounded by three suitors. All wave.]
KATLYN: Look, Pat-
PETE: It's Pete.
KATLYN: Whatever. I'm busy. Go bother someone else.
PETE: Nope -- you know the rules. For the next eight minutes, you're all mine.
[Katlyn huffs and turns to Pete.]
KATLYN: I'm not here to talk to you, or any of these other losers. I'm reading. You're interrupting. Get. Lost.
PETE: That's the spirit, Kate! She said you were feisty.
[From the table, Bianca and men give thumbs up. Katlyn growls and downs the contents of her glass.]
KATLYN: It's Katlyn. And you're an idiot. Go away, idiot.
[Kate turns back to her book. MANNY [50s, burly], the bartender, walks by.]
PETE: Now, now -- that's just the alcohol talking.
KATLYN: This is ginger ale. Idiot. Hit me, Daddy.
[Manny refills her glass from the bar nozzle.]
PETE: This is your father? Sir, my compliments on a charming bar -- and a ravishing daughter. Could I have your permission to woo her?
MANNY: Hey, woo away. Best of luck, pal.
[Manny wanders off to fiddle with the sound system. Katlyn bristles.]
KATLYN: Let's get one thing straight. You're not wooing me. There is no woo. I'm here to babysit my sappy sister, and nothing else. So you can go woo yourself, for all I care.
[Pete stares at her, starry-eyed.]
KATLYN: And what the hell are you grinning about?
PETE: When your nostrils flare, it's like two angry little doves flapping their wings. Do you think our kids will have those?
KATLYN: Bah! And I thought the music was unbearable.
PETE: Hey, you're right -- these songs are all pretty WASPy. Barkeep! How about some Sting?
["Fortress Around Your Heart" plays.]
KATLYN: Oh, my ass!
PETE: Your tail? What of it?
KATLYN: Is Sting not a WASP?
PETE: Bite your tongue!
KATLYN: Bite me.
PETE: Your tongue, or your tail?
KATLYN: Oh, buzz off. I ought to call the cops.
PETE: The Police?!
["Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" plays. Manny gives Pete a thumbs up.
Katlyn growls in exasperation and turns away, nose buried in her book.]
PETE: Super! Well, I suppose you'll want to know more about your new man. I haven't been in town long; I'm sort of the new kid-
[Manny calls over, CD in hand.]
MANNY: New Kids?
PETE AND KATLYN: (in unison) NO!!
PETE: Aw, see -- we hate the same things! It's fate, Kate. You can't fight fate.
KATLYN: I don't have to fight fate. I only have to fight you. And judging by your scrawny little pencil body, I'd beat your ass easy.
PETE: Well, I usually wait until the third date for that sort of thing, but-
[Manny meanders back toward them.]
KATLYN: Daddy! Make this cretin go away.
MANNY: Ah, he seems nice. A little romance would do you good, Katlyn. Give him a chance.
[The speed dating bell DINGs again.]
KATLYN: Oh! Sorry, Pete. It seems your time is up.
[Katlyn stands, sneers at Pete, throws her drink in his face and storms away. Bianca's table offers Pete encouraging nods and polite applause.]
PETE: What glorious pluck. And she remembered my name! When can I see her again?
MANNY: Well... Tuesday is bucket beer night. But be careful -- she throws bottles. And buckets.
PETE: It's a date. I'll be here with bells -- and a helmet -- on. Someday, sir -- I'm gonna marry that girl!