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In Darkest America: Two Plays

In Darkest America: Two Plays
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 102
Pub. Date: 1991
ISBN-10: 0573622329
ISBN-13: 9780573622328
Cast Size: 3 women, 1 man

About the Play:

Tone Clusters and The Eclipse are one-act dramas by the renowned author Joyce Carol Oates, paired under the title In Darkest America. Tone Clusters can be – and often is – performed as a stand-alone one-act (popular choice for one-act festivals), but has been performed together with The Eclipse as a double bill to create a full evening of entertainment.

Tone Clusters is a gripping ten-minute drama that takes the form of an interview between the middle-aged, middle-class parents of an alleged killer, and how they are forced to deal with the media. Frank and Emily Gulick are a nice couple with a house in a nice neighbourhood. Why are they under so much strain? They are interviewed by an unseen interrogator and their story emerges: the body of a 14 year old girl Edith Kaminsky was found in their basement and their son Carl is charged with the murder. They are adamant that their son is innocent, and what unfolds is a clash between the worldly, condescending media and two individuals' desperate attempts to claim ownership of their own lives. Do they share in the guilt? Could we find ourselves in their situation? (Cast: 1 woman, 1 man)

The Eclipse is a haunting one-act drama about a mother and daughter at odds who must learn to live together. A middle aged professor lives with her ailing mother. The old lady, once a brilliant teacher, moves in and out of reality, has a fantasy Latin lover, and makes her daughter's life miserable. One night she whirls in a torrid dance with her lover while her daughter sleeps; death has released both from suffering. (Cast: 3 women, 1 man)

Tone Clusters and The Eclipse premiered in 1990 as part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays at the Actors Theatre of Louisville (ATL) under the collective title In Darkest America, where Tone Clusters won the ATL's Heideman Award as part of the. National 10-minute play contest. Tone Clusters later received the Fringe Report Award for Best Play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The Eclipse was subsequently produced Off Broadway in the Ensemble Studio Theatre's continuing ''Marathon 1990'' of one-act plays. 

What people say:

"Tone Clusters ... proved eerily prescient in depicting the media's ever-increasing voracious and invasive exploitation of tragedy." — Los Angeles Times

"Tone Clusters ... would be a thought-provoking, current piece of theatre at any time. Her prescient subject ... the 24/7 news cycle and how it gobbles up people's lives to fill time." — Coast to Coast Newspaper

"When Joyce Carol Oates's Tone Clusters opens, a crime has been committed and a suspect taken into custody. Frank and Emily Gulick sit before a television camera ... they could be anybody's parents – they could be the parents we see on TV doggedly insisting that the killer was a good boy and blaming 'the system' for his transgressions." — Chicago Reader

About the Playwright:

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of many distinguished books in several genres. Between her novels, books published under pseudonyms, short story collections, fiction for children and young adults, books of poetry, essays, and memoirs, she has produced about 150 different titles. Its rare to see an author succeed across so many genres, but succeed she does. Throughout her career, which spans more than 50 years, she has won scores of awards, including the National Book Award, two O. Henry Awards for short stories, and one of the 2010 National Humanities Medals. Three of her novels were nominated for Pulitzer Prizes. She is also a playwright whose plays have been performed widely in the United States and abroad.