Acting Production

Getting Upstaged by The Muppets

A couple of years ago Lindsay wrote a wonderful play called Tick Talk. The play centres on how teens communicate (or don’t) with one another.

The really neat part of the script is that each character is only given a single word or short phrase. This word or phrase is all the character says for the whole play. (With the exception of “Gabby,” who really lives up to her name.) The character list should give you an idea of what I’m getting at here:

Male

  • Hey There……………………….Goofy and often foolish.
  • Dunno …………………………..Sullen and almost silent.

Female

  • Hi …………………………………Very self-conscious.
  • Fine ………………………………Life is far from perfect but problems don’t weigh as heavily on her as they do on others.
  • Nothing………………………….Younger sister to What. Seen as annoying.
  • What……………………………..Older sister to Nothing. Snobbish and self-centered.
  • Great Dance……………………Hiding a horrible secret.
  • Gabby …………………………..Sweet but shallow.

Either

  • Vice Principal …………………Tired, cynical and worn down.
  • Uh………………………………..Member of the cynic quartet.
  • Yeah……………………………..Member of the cynic quartet.
  • Well………………………………Member of the cynic quartet.
  • So ………………………………..Member of the cynic quartet.

I say it’s a really neat piece because the actors must tell their stories purely through how they say their dialogue, unable to use the dialogue as a crutch. Like many of our more challenging plays, people either gravitate to the challenge or they don’t.

We always thought Tick Talk was totally unique. Sure, there is plenty of precedence for zero dialogue (e.g. the entire silent film genre, the first forty minutes of Wall-E, Mime, and even Lindsay’s Emotional Baggage) but we were pretty sure that nobody had composed a piece where each character gets a single word or phrase for their dialogue.

How surprised were we, then, when we stumbled on the original pilot for The Muppet Show this week, in which a beautiful scene with birds is played giving each bird a single word or phrase. It’s a very lovely scene.You can watch it here. The bit in question starts at the 19 second mark.

Upstaged by the Muppets… I guess there are worse things that can happen.

By the way, can anyone think of any other examples of this???

About the author

Craig Mason