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New Downtown Now: An Anthology of New Theater from Downtown New York

Mac Wellman
Young Jean Lee
Introduction by Jeffrey M. Jones
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    New Downtown Now
    Book Description:

    New Downtown Now brings together ten new works that exemplify the playfulness, excitement, and possibilities of the theater. The anthology includes Interim by Barbara Cassidy; Tragedy: a tragedy by Will Eno; Nine Come by Elana Greenfield; Sachiko and Enoshima Island by Madelyn Kent; The Appeal by Young Jean Lee; The Vomit Talk of Ghosts by Kevin Oakes; Ajax (por nobody) by Alice Tuan; Apparition: An Uneasy Play of the Underknown by Anne Washburn; Demon Baby by Erin Courtney._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9807-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Y. J. L.
  4. INTRODUCTION: How to Read a Curious Play
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Jeffrey M. Jones

    If we expect reading to be simple and straightforward, it’s because we’ve been told so since grade school, where it was likened to a kind of listening. But reading a play involves not only “listening” to the various voices of the characters but trying to “watch” an imagined performance. In theater, it turns out, reading is more like watching—and in the case of Curious Plays, which set out to challenge theatrical conventions, reading and watching can prove equally challenging.

    After all, watching any play is hard work. One not only has to pay attention, but figure out what’s going...

    (pp. 1-48)
    Barbara Cassidy

    WOMAN: No soy una broma.

    No, no soy una broma.

    Debo ser tratada con respeto.

    Voy a ser tratada con respeto.

    No me mires, mandril.

    No me mires, jodido mandril.

    Crees conocerme.

    No sabes nada.

    Solamente sabes de tu vida importante.

    Y tu propio importante idioma.

    Te ríes de mí.

    Crees que no sé eso.

    Pero estoy bastante por delante de tí.

    Estoy pendiente de todos ustedes.

    Mírame la cara.

    Loudest. Mírame la cara.

    La vida es una desilusión.

    Por lo menos yo sé eso.

    La vida es una desilusión.

    La ventana es roja.

    La vida es una desilusión.


  6. TRAGEDY: a tragedy
    (pp. 49-72)
    Will Eno

    The setting is a live television broadcast. Each character is at the place described in his name, except Michael, who is at various locations and will enter and exit the stage. THE WITNESS will periodically appear with JOHN IN THE FIELD. FRANK IN THE STUDIO sits upstage center. Each speaks as if toward a camera. CONSTANCE, where noted, turns to address a second camera.

    FRANK IN THE STUDIO might wear a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie. JOHN IN THE FIELD, more casual clothes, a windbreaker, a sport shirt. CONSTANCE AT THE HOME, a skirt-and-jacket suit. MICHAEL, LEGAL ADVISER,...

    (pp. 73-104)
    Elana Greenfield

    The feel of any production of this play should include a sense, however faint—and perhaps the fainter the better—that all we are seeing on stage is contained in the book Anna opens in Scene I: we are seeing what can be deciphered of it as its pages turn to dust.

    The alone can never cease to be.


    ANNA is onstage. She opens a huge book. The book’s pages are old. The dust of a few of its words rises into the air. As it rises, violin music plays faintly. As if the movement of the disintegrating page...

    (pp. 105-124)
    Madelyn Kent

    One o’clock in the morning.

    Asakusa, Tokyo.

    A girl, SACHIKO, seventeen, walks on the side of a dark road.

    She is aware that a man in a car is following her. The flood of headlights several feet behind her.

    The MAN gets out of the car, closes the door.

    He doesn’t approach her.

    The girl stops.

    SACHIKO: So.

    What doing here?

    TAXI DRIVER: Nothing.

    But it’s midnight. I think a

    Young woman walking

    Alone is


    SACHIKO: No, no.

    It’s not dangerous.

    My home is

    Five minutes’ walk.

    I’m just taking walk.

    TAXI DRIVER: This is, this my way. If...

    (pp. 125-154)
    Madelyn Kent

    A barbershop. Two chairs facing the audience. Toward the front door, a small counter with a cash register.

    A man, forty-five, walks into a barbershop.

    The sound of a bell as the door opens and closes.

    The barber, sixty-five, stands, cleaning up.

    BARBER: Hi.

    MAN: Hi.

    BARBER: How are you?

    MAN: I’m okay.

    I want a shave and a haircut.

    BARBER: Sure, have a seat.

    He hands the barber a container of food.

    MAN: This is usual ikameshi.

    BARBER: Thank you—

    MAN: Yes—

    BARBER: I love it—

    MAN: I know.


    BARBER: Please sit down.

    Do you have more time...

    (pp. 155-186)
    Young Jean Lee





    BYRON Time: 1800.

    Place: Dorothy and William Wordsworth’s cottage in Grasmere. Every scene of Act I (including the fishing, gardening, an hiking scenes) takes place in the same room, which contains only a desk and chair. On the desk is a sheet of paper, a feather, two books, and an unlit candle in a holder.

    Lights down. Matmos’s “Jig (Drunk)” starts. Lights fade up slowly on WORDSWORTH writing at his desk. Music fades out. WORDSWORTH stops writing.

    WORDSWORTH: Ah, my poem is finished.

    WORDSWORTH and COLERIDGE are fishing.

    WORDSWORTH: What is a poet?

    COLERIDGE: You and...

    (pp. 187-244)
    Kevin Oakes

    Despite the fact that the setting changes, the action of this play is continuous except for the act break. I’ve indicated in the script where the scene shifts occur, but there shouldn’t be a break between scenes.

    Time works differently in this play than in accepted reality.


    Darkness. A candle. A girl in a nightdress.

    Two girls: AMBER then CHLOE.

    Throughout this scene the girls are preparing and conducting an elaborate ritual to bring THE DEADMAN into the bedroom from another world.

    They are thirteen to fifteen years old.

    AMBER: The fucking was good, his hand up all my...

  12. AJAX (por nobody)
    (pp. 245-312)
    Alice Tuan

    a white-tiled room

    a drain, hoses

    workable water

    gun squirters

    a long, tiled block

    In darkness, a cat screams.

    ALMA sits on the long, tiled block with an apple corer in hand, preparing to eat a pomegranate.

    ANNETTE enters with a plastic bag of frilly hors d’oeuvre picks.

    ALMA: You look dashing

    ANNETTE: Oh don’t say that

    ALMA: It’s true

    ANNETTE: Please

    ALMA: You’ve spent all this time dolling up

    ANNETTE: I haven’t really

    ALMA: You have

    ANNETTE: Not really

    ALMA: Ever since I got here

    ANNETTE: Not

    ALMA: Hours before I got here


    ANNETTE: Have you seen Aja?...

  13. APPARITION: An Uneasy Play of the Underknown
    (pp. 313-354)
    Anne Washburn







    C: (something watches and it waits for you there something is trembling atop the stair something believes it is a mighty scare)

    The Dark Morton

    A: We were really concerned that the forest was full of weevils.

    D: Don’t go! She warned, Don’t go into the weevil forest!

    B: The forest skittered about us, it chittered and clicked.

    A: Six steps forward, a shudder, five back. Someone shines a flashlight into a dark area and then wishes they hadn’t. Five steps forward, four back. One of the party utters an involuntary shriek. Then wishes...

    (pp. 355-398)
    Erin Courtney


    WREN—an American woman

    ART—her husband, an American, an executive

    ALAN—an editor,

    British CAT—skinny, smart, executive, not British, not American

    CHARLES—British executive

    SALLY—skinny, smart, British

    DEMON BABY—looks like a Garden Gnome but with something a little bit different about it There is an empty apartment with spare, modern furnishing, a picture window, and a balcony that overlooks a shared courtyard. Sounds of construction can be heard from the courtyard. CAT, ALAN, ART, and WREN enter with suitcases.

    ALAN: Here we go. Here we go, then. Watch your step there.

    ART: Oh. Let me...

    (pp. 399-399)