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Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You & The Actor's Nightmare

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You & The Actor's Nightmare
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Christopher Durang
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover image may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 71
Pub. Date: 1995
ISBN-10: 0822210355
ISBN-13: 9780822210351

About the Play:

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues.

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You and The Actor's Nightmare contains two one-act plays by Christopher Durang. Imagine arriving onstage without any preparation and being told you are the lead. All the world’s a stage! The Actor's Nightmare was conceived as a companion piece to the author's Obie award-winning short play Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it all for You (and providing for doubling by the same actors) with which it constitutes a full evening of theatre. The Actor's Nightmare can also be presented independently and is especially recommended for school and contest use.

The Actor's Nightmare is one of the most-produced short plays in High School Theatres. The appropriately titled comedy is based on the actor's nightmare of having to act in a play(s) he or she has never rehearsed. An accountant is mistaken for an understudy and forced to perform in a play for which he doesn't know any of his lines. Having casually wandered onstage, George is informed that one of the actors, Eddie, has been in an auto accident and he must replace him immediately. Apparently no one is sure of what play is being performed. Durang constructs the nightmare by juxtaposing scenes from various classic plays. George (costumed as Hamlet) seems to find himself in the middle of a scene from Noel Coward's Private Lives, surrounded by such luminaries as Sarah Siddons, Dame Ellen Terry and Henry Irving. As he fumbles through one missed cue after another the other actors shift to Shakespeare's Hamlet, then Samuel Beckett's Endgame, and then a climactic scene from what might well be a composite of Samuel Beckett's Endgame and Happy Days – by which time the disconcerted George has lost all sense of contact with his fellow performers. Yet, in the closing moments of the play, he rises to the occasion and finally says the right lines, whereupon make-believe suddenly gives way to reality as the executioner's axe (meant for Sir Thomas Moore) instead sends poor George to oblivion – denying him a well-earned curtain call. (Cast: 3 female, 2 male)

Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You: Sister Mary Ignatius, a teaching nun who is much concerned with sin in all of its various forms, delivers a cautionary lecture to her charges. One of them, a precocious little boy named Thomas, can quote the Ten Commandments on cue, and each time he does so Sister Mary rewards him with a cookie. But when several of her former students turn up the picture darkens, along with Sister Mary's indignation. One of them is the happy mother of an illegitimate child; another is gay; still another has had two abortionsthe first after having been raped on the night of her mother's death; while another student, now an alcoholic, contemplates suicide. Their stories are disturbingbut also very funnyand it is quickly apparent that one thing they all have in common is their loathing for Sister Mary and the unyielding dogma she forced on them in their formative years. In the end there is mayhem and bloodshed but, with this, the unsettling feeling that, amid the laughter, some devastating truths have been told. (Cast 3 female, 3 male)

The Actor's Nightmare was first presented in 1981 by Playwrights Horizons in New York City on a double-bill with Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You.

What people say:

"Durang is probably best known for Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You, which ignited storms of protest and played to sold-out houses wherever it was produced in the early 1980s. Durang uses his absurd humor to challenge the rigidity of some religious beliefs, as well as homophobia, methods of psychoanalysis, marriage, and parenthood…. His plays may offend some, but they are always thought-provoking and entertaining." — Library Journal

"The play that dominates the evening is Mr. Durang’s saucy exercise in theological farce." — The New Yorker

"It is one of those grand moments where an unbridled talent finally shows what he is capable of doing." — Village Voice

"Mr. Durang has comic cookies up his sleeve, repeatedly dropping a nonsensical non sequitur in for a laugh." — New York Times

About the Playwright:

Christopher Durang (1949-2024) was an award-winning American playwright and actor whose plays have been produced on and off- Broadway, in regional theatres around the US and abroad. He earned a B.A. from Harvard College, and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Yale School of Drama. He was the co-chair of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan from its inception in 1994 to 2016.

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