The artistic staff of PlayPenn, a new play development conference in Philadelphia that has just completed its sixth annual summer session, estimates that it has provided development support to 45 plays.  As a member of the artistic staff mentioned during one of the public events over the past few days at the Adrienne Theatre complex at 2030 Sansom Street in Center City Philadelphia: “The best that we can hope for is that we have a shared experience, and no one gets hurt.”

So from the six 2010 playpenn plays selected for the full PlayPenn experience (two weeks with a cast and a director and a dramaturg and staff assistance), as well as a nifty thought provoking symposium, I provide here some delightful dialogue that enchanted me over the past few days.  Enough to scribble it down during the public readings.  No reviews, just moments of poetry.  And humor.

The Whale by Sam Hunter

teen-aged Ellie to father Charlie: “You think you’re the only one who’s fucked me over?  Trust me — I have a list.”

Charlie to friend Liz: “Do you ever get the feeling that people are incapable of *not* caring?”

symposium “Do We Tell Stories or Do They Tell Us?”

Mindy Reynolds (molecular biologist): “I define research as a story  I speak for myself — it is my work of art.  In the lab, developing, writing .. ”

Paul Grobstein (neurobiologist): “We all are born scientists.  We come into the world making observations, having experiences, making sense.  A story is what we all create to make sense of our experiences…. We tell stories to conceive worlds other than our own experiences.”

Michal McCall (sociologist): “The essential part of story telling is imagination, not memory of the past.”

Paul Grobstein: “A story of the past is always fiction, told from a particular point of view.”

Michal McCall: “We tell stories to extend our lives.”

Clementine in the Lower Nine by Dan Dietz

[about the people of New Orleans] “The songs carried the stories that carried them back to themselves.”

[about selecting the music for a memorial]: “Don’t let anybody pick the music for you.”

Love and Communication by James J. Christy

Megan [mother about her autistic son]: “He’s got these beautiful eyes but they’re indifferent.  They don’t seem to lead to anything.”

Etched in Skin on a Sunlit Night by Kara Lee Corthron

Jules to Olafur: “The music you like just happens to be by White pouty northern Europeans.”

Olafur to Jules [about her attempts to speak Icelandic]: “It really is remarkable.  It’s almost like you’re intentionally savaging my tongue.”

Jules: “I miss my mother in a way that has become physical.”

Jules [about her favorite Icelandic music group]: “You listen to their music and you listen well and you just disappear.”

“I’d rather feel nothing than endless ennui.”

“You think everything you do can be undone.  Actions reverberate.”

“We are all defined by our borders.”

Hum by Nicholas Wardigo

Eva [struggling to learn to articulate]: “I don’t have a word.  I don’t know the what.”

Eva to Van: “You have words and nothing to say.  Me everything to say and no words.”

Van: “Meaning is the space between two claps.  Claps have no meaning without the space between them.”

Eva: “Claps have no meaning without the space around them.”

Eva to Van: “You’re cute when your vocabulary flounders.”  [which of course makes the Katharine Hepburn fan in me hear the line by Spencer Tracy’s Adam to her Amanda in Adam’s Rib: “You’re cute when you get cause-y.”]

Raising Jo by Charlotte Miller

Mom upon meeting father of her imminent grandchild: “I’m pleased to meet you too.  I’ve heard so little about you.”

[variation on the “only one of us gets to be crazy at a time” idea]: “We can’t both act like this at the same time.  I get dibs on the next freak out.”

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