Giving actors what they need to show their best stuff and the audience an experience worth its time and money — these are just two joys of playwriting.

Fitting words to speech and action and bringing characters alive  — the fascination is never ending, the discipline unrelenting. Here words must leave the page and fly. How to make sure they do? There’s the rub.

Here’s a one-minute play, published this year in In Posse Review, adapted it from a 10-minute version performed in 2011 at the Tapas Short Play Festival, in Rio Nido, California.

Two Hawks
Setting: Next to a rural California field.

HAWK 1  –The leader, can be haughty, saddened by a recent loss.
HAWK 2 — Second in the pecking order, a reluctant learner.

Costumes: Hawks wear gloves with talons and fake beaks. Definitely not literal. The effect should be comic but not overly so.

At lights up we see HAWK 1 on a stool center stage and HAWK 2 on a stool to his right.  Both are alert, jerking their heads to stare, in that hawk-like way, at the audience.

HAWK 1: How’re the eyes?

HAWK 2: Primo.

HAWK 1: (Stares over audience.) 10 o’clock.

HAWK 2: Mouse.

HAWK 1: (Testing.) Weight?

HAWK 2: Six ounces.

HAWK 1: More like eight. Distance?

HAWK 2: Hundred yards.

HAWK 1: Hundred twenty.

HAWK 2: (Irritated). All right, All right.

HAWK 1: How else you gonna learn? Be glad you’re a hawk. We’re smart, we look good and we help each other.

HAWK 2: Doesn’t compute.

HAWK 1: Give it time. (Pause.) Bad news — I lost my wife.

HAWK 2: How?

HAWK 1: Two foot with a blaster, shot her dead. And we’re protected! I’m in serious mourning.

HAWK 2: What’s that?

HAWK 1: When you lose someone. You shut down for a while.

HAWK 2: Doesn’t compute.

HAWK 1: What are you, some kind of Pterodactyl? You’ve gotta evolve, hawk.

HAWK 2: What’s evolve?

HAWK 1: Mature, get some heart. And don’t say “doesn’t compute.”
Twelve o’clock.  Garden snake.

HAWK 2: (Gets off stool.) I’m on it. Check out my moves. (Heads to exit.)

HAWK 1: (Gets off his stool.) Wait!
(HAWK 2 exits.)
Two foot with blaster! (Sound of a shotgun blast offstage.)
No! You bastards!

(HAWK 2 re-enters.)

HAWK 2: He missed me.

HAWK 1: Lucky! Always look both ways before taking off. (They both resume sitting.) Damn two foots. If anyone has to evolve, they do.

HAWK 2: Doesn’t compute.

HAWK 1: Yeah.

The HAWKS resume staring at audience, as LIGHTS OUT.





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