MINUS ONE: A Skit by Val Manwill

I obviously love stage mishaps so much, I mean, I’ve dedicated the whole last two months on it. But you know what’s even better than stage mishaps? A stage play ABOUT mishaps! Noises Off anyone??

Well anyway, a handful of years ago, I tried to write my own play within a play. And this is what I ended up with. It’s called Minus One. It’s quite an amateur piece of playwrighting, so that’s fine, just look past that. It was intended to be performed by 9th – 11th graders, if that gives you some kind of an idea. But I thought that it would be fun to share! So HERE YOU ARE:

 

 

 

 

MINUS ONE

By Val Manwill

 

 

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

“Hamlet” rehearsal. SERVANT 4 enters, sets a sword and goblet on a table, then leaves. CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated.

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail—

 

Enter HAMLET

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir.

DIRECTOR:          (interrupting from the audience) Stop! Stop!

 

The actors groan.

 

DIRECTOR:          Hamlet. You were early. Again. I don’t know how you manage to be a perfect seven seconds early – every. Single. Time.

HAMLET:              I am sorry, but it’s incredibly hard to hear from the wings. I think it’s that air vent.

HORATIO:            (pokes his head from the curtains) It’s true. You really can’t hear a thing back here.

DIRECTOR:          Do you understand what’s going on in this scene?

HAMLET:              I, uh—

DIRECTOR:          They’re plotting your murder.

HAMLET:              Yeah…

DIRECTOR:          Isn’t that kind of hard to plot your murder if YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE!?

HAMLET:              … Oh.

DIRECTOR:          I’m done with excuses. If you can’t hear the lines then count to 30 in your head and come out on stage. Take it again.

 

THE ACTORS reset and begin again.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail, I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison from LAERTES and pours it into the cup. LAERTES dips his sword into the poison cup. There is an awkward pause and then enter HAMLET.

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              I am satisfied in nature.

DIRECTOR:          Okay. Better!

 

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and SERVANT 4 who is carrying Hamlet’s sword. SERVANT 4 hands Hamlet the sword. LAERTES does a super goofy fencing maneuver but has one hand holding up his pants.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop. Laertes why are you only using one hand?

LAERTES:              My fencing pants are too big. I’m trying to hold onto them.

DIRECTOR:          Safety pin it.

LAERTES:              I can’t reach back there.

DIRECTOR:          Where’s Angie? (Calls) Angie!

HORATIO:            She’s helping the army of Fortenbras change in the green room.

DIRECTOR:          Then grab one of the servants running around back there to help you. We are grown adults, people! This shouldn’t be that hard! Continue please.

 

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

 

DIRECTOR:          Servant 4 move to the back please. Further please. Thank you.

GERTRUDE:         The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the cup

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

LAERTES:              (aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I’ll hit him now.

 

LAERTES stabs HAMLET. They fight, HAMLET stabs LAERTES with the poisoned sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed!

HORATIO:            They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (overdramatic) The drink! I am poisoned.

 

GERTRUDE dies in the most over the top way possible. THE OTHER ACTORS roll their eyes. THE DIRECTOR stands and applauds.

 

DIRECTOR:          My dear! Brilliant as always. That was fabulous! You were flawless.

GERTRUDE:         Well, of course it was. Would you expect anything else?

DIRECTOR:          Absolutely not. Please go on.

HORATIO:            (continuing) Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES:              It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. The king, the king’s to blame.

HAMLET:              Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, Drink off this potion. Follow my mother.

 

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink the poison. CLAUDIUS dies.

 

LAERTES:              He is justly served. Forgive me, noble Hamlet. (dies)

HAMLET:              Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart—

 

Suddenly, HAMLET makes the most obvious and ridiculous ‘blank face’ as he forgets his line.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop! (To himself) So close. We were SO close!

HAMLET:              I forgot what comes next.

DIRECTOR:          How do you NOT have your lines memorized 2 hours before we OPEN THIS SHOW!

HAMLET:              I’m sorry. I just kind of freeze up you know?

DIRECTOR:          Trust me, I know. Everyone in the audience knows! It’s that stupid face that you make.

CLAUDIUS:          I can’t work like this.

HAMLET:              I’m sorry, really. I just don’t know how to improvise Shakespeare.

DIRECTOR:          I feel so unappreciated right now. I have given you the most coveted role in all of the last 500 years of theatre. I made you. When I met you, you were in a public library reciting The Night Before Christmas.

HAMLET:              That’s not fair. . . everyone loved my rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

DIRECTOR:          Just do this show – THE RIGHT WAY! Please! Surprise me for once. Continue.

HAMLET:              Draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. dies

HORATIO:            Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

DIRECTOR:          Aaaaaand curtain! Good. Well, almost good. I feel like – things are too cluttered in this ending. Uh Servant 4?

SERVANT 4:         Yes?

DIRECTOR:          I don’t think we’ll be needing you for this ending scene. It doesn’t work with you there. You’re blocking most of the action.

GERTRUDE:         I think this scene should be for leads only.

DIRECTOR:          That’s just what I was thinking. Servant 4, thank you, but you’re cut. Everyone else, let’s set for this show.

 

Everyone leaves the stage except for SERVANT 4 who is almost in tears.

 

SERVANT 4:         “Cut”? Fine. I’m going home!

 

SERVANT 4 runs off the stage

 

 

ACT TWO

 

THE DIRECTOR stands on stage this time acknowledging the audience.

 

DIRECTOR:          Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to our version of the beloved play Hamlet. I wanted to give a quick message regarding the final scene- Act 5 scene 2. This scene is a very, very serious part of the play and we would appreciate it if all cell phones were turned off and uh, no talking please. Without further ado – The finale of Hamlet.

 

THE DIRECTOR sits down, and CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:         Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated—

 

CLAUDIUS & LAERTES look down at the table realizing the key props are missing.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here is not a sword unbated.

LAERTES:              (scoots closer to the curtain and speaks loudly) Uhhh- Perhaps Lord Hamlet could bring me my sword.

CLAUDIUS:          Hamlet is going to bring YOU a POISIONED SWORD?

LAERTES:              Or perhaps I’ll fetch the sword myself! (Runs off stage)

CLAUDIUS:          (calls after LAERTES) Hey a chalice too. A chalice! (Follows LAERTES off stage)

 

Enter Hamlet

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir… I have … done you wrong?

 

HAMLET looks around confused at finding himself alone on stage.

 

LAERTES:              I have the sword!

 

 HAMLET ducks down behind a chair as LAERTES enters with a sword from stage right and CLAUDIUS with a bottle of water from stage left.

 

LAERTES:              I’ll anoint it with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:           I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

LAERTES:              A bottle?

CLAUDIUS:          A CHALICE!

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison and puts it into the bottle. LAERTES tries to get his sword in the bottle but the opening is too small.

 

LAERTES:              (whispering)  It won’t go!

 

From behind the couch, HAMLET silently counts to 30 on his fingers..

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes!

 

HAMLET pops up from behind the chair startling CLAUDIUS and LAERTES who violently spills the water in the bottle.

 

HAMLET:              Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              (sarcastically) I am satisfied in nature.

 

Enter HORATIO and GERTRUDE

 

CLAUDIUS:          (to HORATIO) Give him his foil.

HORATIO:            What, Me?

CLAUDIUS:          (through his teeth) Just get it.

 

Exit HORATIO. LAERTES begins his elaborate and goofy fencing move.

 

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

HAMLET:              I – I can’t fight you without a sword.

 

LAERTES’ pants drop to his ankles.

 

LAERTES:              Very well. I shall fight you… when you have… a sword. If you’ll excuse me just a moment.

 

With his pants still around his ankles he waddles off stage. HAMLET sits in the chair, waiting.

 

GERTRUDE:         (slightly panicked) Uhh the queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the water bottle.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, seriously. Do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

 

THE DIRECTOR crawls “inconspicuously” on the stage and places a new cup on the table. GERTRUDE begins her dramatic over the top death scene.

 

GERTRUDE:         The drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

CLAUDIUS:          Um, actually dear. (Pointing to the new cup) I believe this is the poisoned one.

GERTRUDE:         Oh.

 

Gertrude gets up, walks over to the new cup and takes a sip.

 

GERTUDE:           Oh NO! The drink! I am poisoned. (Re-dies)

 

THE DIRECTOR drags Claudius offstage by his robe.

 

CLAUDIUS:          I will return. Delay the sword fight. Tarry!

 

CLAUDIUS and THE DIRECTOR exit stage left as HORATIO runs in stage right.

 

HORATIO:            I’ve got the sword. I’ve got it!

 

HORATIO trips on the water spill and is knocked unconscious. HAMLET turns around and breaks the fourth wall, making the same ridiculously blank face as earlier. He stands up.

 

HAMLET:              (attempting to improvise)  Tis . . . tis . . . twas . . . the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care-

 

Suddenly LAERTES rushes in with the original goblet and splashes HAMLET in the face.

 

LAERTES:              Aha! It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good.

 

Re-enter CLAUDIUS with another sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed.

 

THE DIRECTOR enters stage right and picks up HORATIO’s limp body. He moves him around like a puppet.

 

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (from the ground) The cup! I am poisoned!

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest! CURTAIN! CURTAIN!

 

THE ACTORS freeze and SERVANT 4 enters, addressing the audience.

 

SERVANT 4:         The moral of our little play is that no one person is bigger than another. No matter how small of a part you think you do, you can make a GIANT difference!

 

fin

 

6 Things I’ve Learned Writing About Myself

I’m about to finish writing the final season of my TV show project, which will be an INCREDIBLE accomplishment. It has been a full year and 200,000+ words of what I hope to look back on and consider the beginning of my “writing career”. In honor of its closing I wanted to talk about what I’ve learned on this auto-biographical journey:

 

1. Things that I didn’t think we’re such a big deal turned out to be pivotal moments in my life.

Honestly, I had SO much self-discovery during this project. There were scenes that got me double thinking of why I had chosen that particular thing to write in. But overall, those little moments uncovered my flaws, my greatest strengths and some deeply ingrained fears. In re-reading episodes, I often put myself on the psychiatrist couch and just learned all about Val.

 

2. Things that were irritating at the time turned out to be the funniest things to write.

On the other hand, things that were SUCH A BIG DEAL in my teenage world turned out to be nothing. Writing my over-dramatic reactions had me laughing out loud a lot.

emoren
Pictured: Me.

3. Writing someone else’s POV caused me to develop a deeper respect for them.

When I was FORCED to come up with reasons why person X did reaction Y it really made me appreciate that person in real life… even if those reasons were completely fabricated. This happened with nearly everyone I wrote about. The more scenes I constructed the more I realized that these guys are some DANG STRONG CHARACTERS. Being able to be that ghostly third-person presence, really helped me to change my perspective.

 

4. I am a little to a lot conceited…

It is really difficult not to twist things to make yourself seem really great… Soooo this is embarrassing… there are five different male characters who are in love with Elle. Oops. That doesn’t seem bad, but considering how few consistent characters there are… it comes off as A LOT. I think I did this because I was so flattered when anyone liked me that I wanted to write about all of them… all five. I’m sure when my children pick up these old manuscripts they’ll either cringe or roll their eyes.

Breakfast-Club-So-Popular

5. Human memory is really unreliable

Pardon my symbols, but this is freaky as $^*%. I actually had accrued false memories over a ten year span. Memory is a joke. This one scene had me so freaked out, I was wrapping tin foil around my head and crying on the floor. This is how I remembered the memory: I was asked out on a date in the summer… But then I told a friend about it at school who came over after to help me do my hair… But then one of the guys on the date had brass knuckles in a FREAKING COAT POCKET. But guess what? It all took place during the summer after all. What the what!? How can you trust anything that has happened to you in your lifetime? Doesn’t that concept just CREEP YOU OUT?

 

6. I plan to keep writing.

I really have enjoyed every minute that I’ve poured into these pages and I have a lot more stories to tell. . .

In fact. . .

I will be announcing my next project in September!!!!

new project announcement

Be very excited.

 

 

If you can’t wait for my new mysterious project, then let me tell you where to accrue some good reading. Usborne Books is really cool. They have tons of amazing educational kids books. If you’re a mom or a teacher or a weird hybrid mix like me, this is a great resource for you:

J6433.myubam.com

 

And if you want to know more about my-life-turned-TV-show click HERE.

 

Identity Crisis: Main Characters

Here’s a quick break-down of the main characters in the TV show that I’m writing and the actors that I think could play them. Ideally, I wouldn’t want any well-known actors because I feel that would make the show less relatable. (Just my personal preference) BUT the problem with make-believe casting them is that I only know well-known actors… so here’s as close as it would be.

(Also! Just want to note that because it’s an autobiographical show, these characters are inspired by real people. However, that doesn’t mean that they are real people. For example, MOST of my characters are made up from multiple people that I’ve met. And some of their character descriptions have been altered from real life to fiction.)


 

ELLE “The Protagonist”

ELLE is a sixteen-year-old human contradiction. She is a very wholesome girl who attends church weekly but has a closet obsession with Halloween and everything horror. She’s talented at public speaking, yet dreads attending large parties. Although she is a fairly pretty girl, she dresses like a mid-aged suburban mom.

ElleCasting

 

It’s hard to cast yourself, but I think someone like Emily Osment would be able to do the job. I need someone who would be able to do comedy and drama interchangeably. Not only that but someone who could showcase the contrast between “wholesome Elle” and “punk Elle”.

elleandelle
Me and other me

 

 

When we did the concept art for the show, I cast a young local actress, Hailey, as Elle for the pictures. My photographer pointed out how alike we acted. She flat out said, “Hailey IS Elle”. I would absolutely cast her as me. She’s a talented actress and I feel confident that she would do an excellent job.

 


 

RONNIE “The Bad Influence”

RONNIE (17) is a reflection of ELLE’s contradictory personality. He’s a generally quiet person, but really has very little inhibitions. He knows everything there is to know about cool music and his life revolves around it. Under his black and beaten style he is actually quite tall, dark and handsome.

RonnieCasting2

 

I think a young Diego Luna would be cool as Ronnie. I just really envision this role being played by a Hispanic actor. I don’t know why. The person who inspired this character isn’t even remotely Hispanic.

 

 

 


 

JEREMY “The Troublemaker”

JEREMY (18) a long-haired “burn-out” dressed in ripped jeans, a black hoodie and beanie. He’s the type of kid that sits in the back of the class and everyone suspects is the uni-bomber. To find another person with even half of his passion would prove impossible. He’s an avid defender of things being just and fair and would probably have the gumption to murder someone over it, if he didn’t love his mother so much. 

JeremyCasting

 

Okay, I know that casting this person would require a time machine, even more so than the others. But I just don’t care. I want teenage Richard Dreyfus to play this role SO bad. My heart is totally set on it. Not even the real Jeremy can change my mind.

 


 

BRANDON “The Judgmental Ex”

He has thick hair and a sharp, pointy face. That fact that he is attractive in only the mildest sense does nothing to deflate his Adonic self-concept. BRANDON (17) is a very clean cut boy, and although there is no conscious reason not to like him something is very insincere about the way he smiles.

BrandonCasting

 

Will freaking Poulter. Oh my gosh, just look at this kid’s face. Don’t you just want him to see him be a snooty villain? Plus Poulter’s comedic timing is impeccable which is just what this over-the-top character needs.

 


 

TAYLOR “The Bridge”

TAYLOR (17) is a stunning, dark-haired girl. She is unenthused about being at rehearsal since she had auditioned for the play just a few weeks ago and didn’t make the cut. Her not being cast was probably chalked up to school politics rather than talent, because TAYLOR is very good at acting. In fact, she is very good at everything. She excels at school. She is the president of the student association. She is even very good at being naturally beautiful which is churning JEREMY’S stomach just looking at her.

TaylorCasting

 

I just have a feeling that someone like Emily Browning would do a good job as Taylor. And that’s really it… nothing more than just a feeling. Logically, I want to say that someone like Miranda Cosgrove would be able to pull off her personality better but I’m just stuck on Emily Browning for some reason.

 

 

 


 

TYSON “The Voice of Reason”

ELLE turns to her desk partner TYSON (17) a smart, well-dressed kid. He’s a master of dry humor and is constantly lost in his own irony. He’s the one that you can always count on for the truth even when you don’t want to hear it.

TysonCasting

 

There’s a myriad of YouTube personalities that could fit well as Tyson. Shane Dawson is both sarcastic and personable enough to be able to capture this more complex character.

 

 

 


 

ADAM “The Mysterious New Student”

The door swings open and in breezes ADAM (17) a classic Hollywood-handsome boy. Every girl in class drops her jaw, including ELLE. As ADAM walks down the aisle amongst the chairs, several of the girls quickly move their purses and backpacks off of the seats next to them. He quietly picks a seat in the back of the room away from everyone.

AdamCastingThis is the only character that I care about being “good-looking”. And that’s only because it moves some of the plot elements forward. I feel like Adam would be the hardest character to cast for hands down. It would need to be someone effortlessly talented, since Adam has to make the audience feel the entire spectrum of emotions. I’m still not sold on anyone, but maybe if I could resurrect a healthier River Phoenix. He could probably pull it off.

 


 

CASEY “The Second Act Hero”

If CASEY (16) didn’t look so humanistic you might mistake him for a puppy. Excitable, friendly and loud – very loud. Fiercely loyal, athletic, always thinking about food… CASEY is absolutely dripping with personality and leaves puddles of personality everywhere he walks.

CaseyCasting

 

To cast a Casey it would have to be a Casey. So I would look at actors who just radiate fun. Someone like Zach Levi or Chris Pratt (without all the fame to his name).

 

 

 


 

Also I want to cast my teenage celebrity crush, Ricky Ullman, as my husband when he appears in the series.

amiwrong

suchacutie

AM I WRONG?!??

To learn more about this creative writing project click HERE.

 

Every week I give a small business or creative endeavor a shout-out at the end of my blog post. If you need more views or traffic and are interested in being featured, please contact me.

Turning My Life Into a TV Show

Season One Cover Art
Concept art photographed/edited by Alison Ostler. Modeled by Hailey Stephens*

If you didn’t already know, my latest project that I’ve been writing is a teen drama/comedy television show called “Identity Crisis”. The show is mostly based around my own life. My experiences, my friends, my crushes, my heart aches and my hilarities.

Synopsis: After a messy break-up with her overly religious boyfriend, Elle seeks revenge by trying to fit in with a group of burnouts. After spending time with her new friends however… she begins to wonder who “the bad kids” really are.

 

 

Season 2 Cover Art
Concept art photographed by Alison Ostler. Modeled by Hailey Stephens*

 

I didn’t write it just to be self absorbed. (Even though yeah sort of). I wrote it because I had a lot of old crazy memories that I didn’t know what to do with. I guess I’ve never been much of a conventional diary person. The idea to make an autobiographical TV show was always a consideration. Even when I was personally living major plot points of the now-series, I remember thinking… Wow… this could make a good soap opera. I actually came up with names for a couple of the main characters at the time (“Ronnie Johnson” and “Adam Levenski”). So yeah, I’ve been kicking around the idea for a while now.

 

Season 3 cover art
Concept art photographed/edited by Alison Ostler. Modeled by Hailey Stephens*

 

Here’s a short sample from the pilot episode, if you’re interested in checking it out. (Disclaimer: mild language and drug use)

Identity Crisis EP1_ACT1

I’ve been writing the show since August 2016. I’m currently working on season 5 of the six season set (each with 10 individual episodes). I have a small circle of readers who have been asking for the novelization or production of Identity Crisis. But unfortunately, because the show is based on real people and events it would need to be further fictionalized before I would release it publicly. If there’s enough interest in it, I will add the revision to my project line-up.

For a quick overview of each season you can also check out the main description page here:

Identity Crisis

 

*Fun fact! Hailey is wearing my authentic high school clothes in the photos. During the shoot I couldn’t stop talking about how weird it was to see a teen dressed up like “teen-me” and Hailey kept laughing at what I used to wear a decade ago.

 

If I ever DID make the show, let me tell you who I would want to do all the music. My friend Chris is insanely talented, his voice makes my heart weep with joy. Listen to this song. And then you know what? Go and listen to all of his other songs! You will not be sorry. Be prepared to fall in love.