The three one-act plays in this collection are representations of who I am as a playwright. My style is not easily labeled one form of theater or another; rather, it is a mixture of elements and styles I have learned in my journey as a playwright while attending Southeastern. However, I have never adhered to one particular style of theater: I simply let the characters speak for themselves. Their voices are sometimes crude and crass; however, humanity is often not subtle.
In “Yes, It's Me Again,” I attempt to use the characters to represent different personas one undertakes while struggling with Alzheimer's disease. This play borrows elements from the Theater of the Absurd, a term coined by Martin Esslin in the 1960s which describes what Albert Camus had earlier noted as absurd. In my writing, characters are symbols of ultimately meaningless human struggles. Sherman, in a sense, is a perfect example of Camus' assertion: “[Man's] exile is without remedy since he's deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, is properly the feeling of absurdity” (qtd. in Downs and Russin 43). Sherman is a representation of a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease while the other characters in the play are representations of his own mental struggle with the disease. Carl is Sherman's sense of self which is beckoned and pulled from him by Trina, who represents the memory lapse and overthrow of senses which afflicts the diseased. The Eraser, who appears only to Sherman, can be seen as Sherman's acceptance of the disease, wearing different fashions to show change in a person's life.
The two one acts from “Couchflowers” can stand alone as individual stories, but are meant to be part of a collection of four acts in a larger comedic piece in which the actors change roles between acts. In this sense alone, they can be considered a sort of Theatre of Alienation, a term coined by Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956). In this style of theatre, the power and message of the plays do not exist solely in the dialogue between characters, but by audience participation in the events presented while not losing themselves in a story. As Brecht states, “A representation that creates detachment is one which allows [audiences] to recognize its subject, but at the same time makes it seem unfamiliar” (88). The illusion of the play as reality is broken: the audience members, in turn, understand what they are seeing is the work of a playwright in which the message is offered, yet interpreted uniquely.
“Couchflowers, Part II: Snuggle Party” uses elements of both Absurdism and Alienation, with my own style of presentation, to demonstrate my beliefs of how society copes with its struggles. In the play, all characters represent a different form of coping mechanism: whether it is Maria's form of sexual therapy or Claude's obsession with reptile breeding. The manner in which the actors are positioned on stage and how the exchanges between them are performed show the audience the clash of coping mechanisms, while ultimately presenting how every person in society has an underlying desire to heal.
In “Couchflowers, Part III: Oh, The Games We Play,” the characters are representations of how different generations overcome their own isolation. Davy is a modern, lazy, male who stays at home with his mother, immersing himself in college football games to live out his fantasies of being the athlete he could never be. His mother, Madeline, is part of an older generation who attempts to rehash her youth in order to find happiness. Her conversations with Philip become a mixture of youthful melodrama and over-zealous sexual nuances. During the play's climax, actors dressed as football players perform various poses in a sort of ballet while the characters continue their dialogue with the generations merging in separate intermingling conversations. Cheerleaders also arrive through the theatre's aisles to the stage, letting the audience witness the absurdity and grandiose spectacle between the ages in an alienated way.
Finally, for me theatre is a way to create a stage in which my personal experiences can be viewed, enjoyed and debated. My plays, while at times containing explicit language and bizarre subjects, are reflections of the society I live in and the surroundings which create who I am as an artist. My ability to use drama, humor and different theatrical styles are ultimately factions and culminations of my own self, my education, and the other writers I have read.