Saturday, 16 April 2011

Chris Port Blog #184. 'The Party' Background, Characters and Scenes

© Chris Port, 1994. All rights reserved.

Background to play

In the autumn of 1994 I was invited to become writer-in-residence at Focus Youth Theatre (later New Focus Theatre) in Southend. I was attracted to writing as a profession by its reputation for hard drinking and easy virtue but was rather dismayed to discover that I was occasionally expected to write something as well.

The director asked me to workshop some student-led improvisations and devise scenes on the theme of teenage house parties. 

Using these workshops (combined with memories of my own well misspent youth) I quickly wrote a script with speaking parts for 31 students. Mainly for ease of rehearsal, the play is broken down into 19 brief, relatively independent scenes with a loose plot through-line and a linking narrator.

The narrator's speeches can either be performed by one actor (as the ghost of the house) or allocated to different actors as Brechtian commentary on the action.

The play was first performed at Focus Youth Centre, Short Street in Southend on Friday 2nd December 1994 with several revivals over the years. It has also been adapted for examination performance in GCSE Drama at several schools.

About the play

When the parents are away - the kids will play. The Party (not a political manifesto you'll be pleased to hear) takes us on a guided tour through a typical teenage house party. With the help of a supernatural narrator we get a ghost's eye view of everything from sausage rolls to snogging, and the difficulties involved in going to the toilet.

As well as playing for laughs, the play also casts a wistful look at our adult horizons - from the end of first love to the onset of old age - and ponders the sheer relentless grimness of watching Rawhide with a Sunday morning hangover.

Characters 1 to 31 (in order of appearance)
  1. NARRATOR (a house ghost)
  2. MONICA SELBY (an elder sister)
  3. LOUISE SELBY (a younger sister)
  4. MARK FOWLER (a social misfit)
  5. BRENDA ROWBOTHAM (a mother hen)
  6. CARL BREWERTON (a boy unsuccessful with girls)
  7. SOFA 1 (a bored girl)
  8. SOFA 2 (another bored girl)
  9. DRUNK BOY (a drunk boy)
  10. BEST MATE (best mate of drunk boy)
  11. DRUNK GIRL (a drunk girl)
  12. SOBER GIRL (a sober girl disliked by Drunk Girl)
  13. DEPRESSIVE (a boy who thinks he has no friends)
  14. CARING 1 (a girl who looks after Depressive)
  15. CARING 2 (another girl who looks after Depressive)
  16. SICK VICTIM (a girl, vomited on by Mark Fowler)
  17. ELEANOR PARKER (a girl, friend of Joanna Lewis)
  18. JOANNA LEWIS (upset girlfriend of Steve Marshall)
  19. TINA SMALLS (a stroppy girl, friend of Joanna Lewis)
  20. MARIE HORNER (a flirt)
  21. STEVE MARSHALL (boyfriend of Joanna Lewis)
  22. BITCH 1 (an unpleasant girl)
  23. BITCH 2 (another unpleasant girl)
  24. BITCH 3 (another unpleasant girl)
  25. BITCH 4 (another unpleasant girl)
  26. BITCH 5 (another unpleasant girl)
  27. TROUBLE 1 (a  boy who gets into a fight)
  28. TROUBLE 2 (another boy who gets into a fight)
  29. DAN CALDER (boyfriend of Monica Selby)
  30. HUNGOVER 1 (a boy with a hangover)
  31. HUNGOVER 2 (a boy with a hangover)

Scenes 1 to 19
  1. #185. The Party Scene 1. Ghosts. Introductions. Louise arranges a party. Arguments and blackmail.
  2. #186. The Party Scene 2. Mark Fowler arrives on his own.
  3. #187. The Party Scene 3. Brenda and Louise in the garden about Dan.
  4. #188. The Party Scene 4. Carl and pizza fail to impress the girls.
  5. #189. The Party Scene 5. Drunk Boy fails to impress the girls.
  6. #190. The Party Scene 6. Drunk Girl argues with Sober Girl.
  7. #191. The Party Scene 7. The girls look after the Depressive.
  8. #192. The Party Scene 8. Mark vomits on the Sick Victim.
  9. #193. The Party Scene 9. Snogging.
  10. #194. The Party Scene 10. Eleanor and Tina console Joanna about Steve Marshall. The boys hold their bladders.
  11. #195. The Party Scene 11. Going to the toilet.
  12. #196. The Party Scene 12. Flirting.
  13. #197. The Party Scene 13. The Bitches taunt Sick Victim about the garden shed incident.
  14. #198. The Party Scene 14. Fighting over cigarettes.
  15. #199. The Party Scene 15. In the garden about Dan.
  16. #200. The Party Scene 16. Brenda confronts the Bitches about her mother.
  17. #201. The Party Scene 17. Monica and Dan split up in the garden.
  18. #202. The Party Scene 18. Monica’s plans for the future.
  19. #203. The Party Scene 19. Grim Sunday mornings and Rawhide.

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