Kiosk Man, a one-act comedy without words
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Jump Straight to Script....
A "Freeware" play, for no-cost use by any non-profit theatre''',, by contacting the author, [Maginnis], (Costume Designer, Theatre UAF.) Kiosk Man is a One-Act Pantomime comedy. All rights reserved by the author. Originally written for pantomime street performance for Theatre Terra Mobile, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1994. Produced in a radically different, improvisational form with T.M. and Perpetual Motion Theatre of London in St. Petersburg, and the Waterman Center for the Arts, London, and subsequently toured in the U.K. 1995. Copyright, Tara Maginnis, 1994.
The Scene is a Bus Stop in a newly capitalist country.
Synopsis: Evolution. The man begins as a grey, frightened creature, timid and unsure of his own self worth, and his worth to others. He is afraid to join the mass of humanity at the bus stop, and instead keeps his eyes on the debris at his feet. He becomes so taken with the objects of debris that he collects them like treasures. The next day, still ashamed, he takes a dirty vegetable crate and lays out his objects for sale. The objects are surreal mechanical objects that don't work: broken light bulbs, rusting bits of metal, old keys with no lock. Suddenly he is the center of attention of the people waiting for the bus. He likes this, so the next day he brings two crates with a small home made sign and more objects. Some even work. More crowd reaction. Each new day he adds more crates, more surreal junk, brighter clothing, imported goods, advertising, until finally his clothes themselves mutate into a kiosk...pockets of junk, advertisement, etc. Finally the crowd becomes so frenzied for his goods that they attack and strip him of his kiosk costume. They knock down the crates and take away armfuls of goods, leaving the man standing naked in a heap of crates and packages and advertising trash. At first the man is crushed, and he looks for his goods amidst the rubble, then he notices his hand, his arm, his body, himself and becomes fascinated with himself as an "object". He realizes that he is the most interesting object of all. He admires himself for himself.
General Themes: Capitalism, Materialism, Individualism. The idea that just as all men, no matter how noble are future food for worms, all material things that we now covet, pay for, and value are future garbage. That one man's garbage, is another man's valued object. That material goods are not evil, but they aren't a real basis for a self image either. That the ability to see goodness and usefulness in an object or person that isn't valued by others is a rare, positive virtue with practical value. That for many here in Russia, the present obsession with materialism, is only a stage in a continuing attempt to develop individual identity and self worth.
Scene 1: LIGHTS UP. A blank stage, with bits of refuse thrown on the ground. DOWN SR is a clump of people standing as if waiting at a bus stop early in the morning.
Enter SL, MAN in grey, carrying a bag. He seems shy. He approaches the group. One of the group stares at him oddly. This frightens the man and he backs off, UP SL. The MAN in grey obviously thinks little of himself.
The MAN, fearful that he is not being accepted by the group, but trying to look unconcerned, pretends to be interested in the garbage strewn everywhere at his feet. After spotting a particularly weird looking broken mechanical thing, he reaches to pick it up. After looking about to make sure no one is watching him, and he puts it in his bag.
He then becomes genuinely interested in the garbage; he finds several things and puts them in his bag. They are all odd looking mechanical objects that clearly don't work.
NOISE OF BUS ARRIVING. All exit SR as if to catch the bus, including MAN. BLACKOUT, NOISE OF BUS DEPARTING.
Scene 2: LIGHTS UP. Stage as before, garbage as before, people waiting for bus SR as before.
The MAN in grey arrives SL carrying an old wooden crate. He places it SL and puts the objects he found the day before on the crate as if to sell them. They have been cleaned. He squats timidly behind the crate, waiting to see what will happen.
One by one each of the people in the group come over to inspect the objects. Each appears to think hard about buying one. They ask the MAN questions about the objects. He visibly shows more and more pride each time he is the object of their attention and questions. He is about to sell one of the objects to one of the group when again there is a BUS NOISE and the group exits for the bus SR.
The MAN tries to gather his objects and crate to get on the bus, but he misses the bus instead. BUS NOISE. Instead of being upset, he looks for new objects in the refuse at the stop. He is happily looking for junk as the lights go to BLACKOUT.
Scene 3: LIGHTS UP. Stage, garbage and group as before. The group is slightly restless, as though they miss the entertainment of the MAN and his objects. The person who was about to buy something when the bus came looks periodically at SL as if expecting the MAN in grey to suddenly appear.
He does, but he is no longer in grey. Instead the MAN enters SL wearing a baseball cap and a brightly colored T-shirt with an American advertising slogan on it. The slogan expresses an absurd optimism for that hour of the morning. He carries two crates this time, and places the old objects and his new found objects on them. He has painted the objects bright colors with shiny paint and has a crude home made sign of paper.
The group at the bus stop trickles over to his crates pretty quickly, and after haggling over price all the objects are sold.
BUS NOISE. People run to the bus clutching their new objects. The MAN stands in amazement with a fist full of cash. BUS NOISE. He appears happy, and thinking better of himself. He goes off SL, looking for objects as he exits. BLACKOUT.
Scene 4: LIGHTS UP. The stage is curiously empty of garbage. Only a small amount on SL remains. Enter MAN SL with broom, he has acquired a cool looking purple jacket and a 2-tone cloth cap like a prosperous businessman. He energetically sweeps the stage clean of the last garbage and then exits again SL. He returns again almost immediately, carrying new, clean crates, five in all, two on each arm and one on his head. He sets them up, one as a seat and the other four as a display table. All this is done very quickly with an air of importance and efficiency. Exit SL again, and enter almost instantly with a colored cloth which he places over the crates.
People begin to come to the bus stop. They wander to where the MAN is setting up his booth, waiting to see what he brings. He lays out new objects, also colored, as well as some imported boxes of what-its, T-shirts, etc. People begin to pick at the objects before he is fully set up. Eventually, the booth is set up and the people buy his objects and leave as before. BUS NOISES. They wave as they leave for the bus, and he, basking in the attention, waves back as they go. BLACKOUT.
Scene 5: LIGHTS UP. SL is a stack of crates with a large bright sign on the front, behind the crates is a bright advertising umbrella, furled but standing upright. It is seemingly deserted.
One by one the group enters SL, walks past the closed "kiosk", and goes to the SR bus stop. They keep glancing at the sign and umbrella like an audience waiting for the curtain to rise.
When the last member of the group arrives and comes to his place at SR, the umbrella suddenly pops up and open, revealing the MAN inside. He is wearing red clothing with many pockets. The pockets are filled with his goods. From behind the crates he pulls out more goods and puts them on top of the crates. some of the things make noise, or continue to move or jiggle after he pops them down. It is as though he were a magician bringing these things to life out of nothing. He is very aware of his own theatricality and his role as the center of attention.
The people at the bus stop are paralyzed with amazement at all this spectacle for a few moments, standing open mouthed with shock. Then suddenly, in a body, they recover themselves and pounce upon the "kiosk" like hungry animals, actually throwing their money at the MAN in a passion of buying. BUS NOISE. Some notice, but all are too taken with the shopping frenzy to care and the BUS NOISE leaves without them.
The MAN is somewhat overwhelmed, so he climbs up on top of the crates. One woman becomes so excited, she removes his shoe and gives his toes a "blow job". The MAN makes noises like he is having an orgasm, and the group, similarly elated with their purchases, begin to groan and sigh in unison with the man. As the stage fades to black, they are surrounding him and his things, fondling the objects like lovers, and shouting aloud with one great climactic howl at the BLACKOUT. At the blackout, their howling abruptly stops and is replaced by obnoxiously loud and lewd rock and roll music ("I Can't Get No Satisfaction" perhaps?) that covers a fairly long scene change.
Scene 6: LIGHTS UP. UPSTAGE CENTER, a huge edifice of crates has been built. It partly resembles a kiosk with goods and advertising everywhere, but it also suggests a golden throne room or the altar of a place of worship. The MAN, totally transformed by clothing that is pasted together out of advertising, kiosk goods, and fashionable western clothing, is waiting on/in the "throne" at the center of the "kiosk". At his right hand is a large shiny blaster playing the aforementioned rock and roll. His left hand is lifted in an attitude of blessing borrowed from pictures of the saints and Marie Davi Cristos [a Ukrainian cult leader]. It is obvious that he intends to be worshipped today.
The people come as usual to the stop. They are highly confused by this new attitude however. They look to each other for guidance, wondering what to do. The MAN reaches down to the blaster and pushes a button. Instantly, the rock and roll stops and is replaced by church music of the most inspiring and lofty sound. As one body, the crowd falls at once to it's knees. The man stretches his hand out in blessing.
The crowd members, hoping for a piece of the action, struggle forward on their knees. The MAN rewards them by laying his hands on their heads like a Baptist preacher or a Mafia don. He gives them each an object from the kiosk, and demands all their money in return. They give it over, reluctantly, but afraid to resist. The people go DOWN SR to the bus stop, clutching their objects with a vague sense of disappointment. They begin to squabble with one another, and try to steal each other's objects.
Meanwhile, UPSTAGE CENTER, the MAN is in ecstasy. He bathes himself in the pile of money provided by the crowd, and rubs it onto his body and face like an ointment. He admires his handiwork of the kiosk and fondles and kisses the objects like they are icons in a church. He looks so blissful, one should (with the church music rising to a crescendo/finale) expect him to be assumed bodily, like the virgin, into the heavens at any moment.
Instead, the crowd on SR has gone from fighting one another to forming into a mob. As the church music ends, a new piece begins, full of drumming and percussion, reminiscent of a kind of jungle war dance. As the man, oblivious, sprawls in ecstasy on his throne, the group, in exaggerated slow motion, prepares to pounce with violent intent. They do so in a mechanistic frenzy, first they wreck the kiosk, then loot it, and then finally they strip the MAN of his kiosk costume. The music rises to fever pitch as he is attacked, then cuts off suddenly into silence as he is left alone amidst the wreckage of debris and crates. BUS NOISE in the silence.
Slowly the man rises from the pile of debris. He is heartbroken. All his nice stuff is gone. Desperately he looks through the mess hoping to find some of his property. He unconsciously imitates himself in scene 1. He thinks he's found something, but it is only a broken whatsit as before. This is no longer good enough to satisfy him. He casts it aside in disappointment. Again he seems to find something, but it is only an empty box. He sits down and cries.
Then, while he is crying, he thinks he sees something at his feet. He roots through the trash desperately, only to "catch" his left hand with his right. He won't let go. Tug of war. His hands erupt in their struggle from the refuse to form an "O" over his head, the one hand grasping the other. He then realizes it's him. After momentary embarrassment at his error, he begins to examine his hands, his arms, and his body. It occurs to him that this too, he himself, is a cool object. He moves and flexes, admiring himself until he is contented.
The MAN then restacks the crates methodically, creating a ziggurat pedestal. He climbs it, ascending to the top, and then poses like a statue. BLACKOUT.
Music: Except where it is noted that there should be momentary silence, the whole piece would best be set to music of some kind. The music should determine the rhythm of the actions, and the actions should, except where noted, be conducted silently. Obviously, the taste of the director and style of the production should determine the choice of music, but you might find it interesting to note that the pieces that most often popped in my head while writing this were bits of the Benny & Joon soundtrack, Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije, and pounding bouncy stuff by Philip Glass. These are not suggestions, so much as information. Obviously, the best of all possible scenarios would be to have new music done for a production to suit.
Design: A few days after conceiving this piece I saw a 1927 design by A.T. Sashen for a waiter in a cafe in The Inspector General. The design typified the kind of look I envision for Kiosk Man. It is to be found on p.177 of a book titled Russian Shop Signs and the Artistic Avant-garde (Leningrad: Aurora, 1991), this book's pictures are tremendously useful for getting at the visual essence of the piece. For example in Scene 6, when the MAN is operating a blaster, it is easier to have the sound actually be operated off stage by a technician, and to have an exaggerated construct of a blaster made of cardboard, paint and wires, on stage. While this piece was inspired by the reality of seeing kiosks here in St.Petersburg every day, it is, for those who haven't noticed, not exactly realistic in style. Therefore the design might better render the objects which are such an important part of the piece, more in the abstract style of constructivists like Goncharova or Malevitch, than with any attention to realism.
The Group at the Bus Stop: Although I do not indicate individual personalities for the group of people at the bus stop, I do not intend them to be grey and faceless, acting only as a body or herd. On the contrary, I see them rather like Noah's Ark, each colorful and different, very intimidating for the MAN in grey at first. They only act as a body when indicated, and even then, when they do a similar action, the style each uses to do it should be different. This is something however, that again is best worked out between actors and directors depending on the style of the production. However, I should say that unlike the MAN at the beginning, each person in the group should bristle with intensity, individualism, and self confidence. This is why the man hopes to join the group.
The MAN: Need not be literally naked at the end. This is not "wimping out" as a director. Some audiences, most in fact, would be hopelessly distracted by a naked man on stage at the end, and miss the point entirely. Only do this if you are sure your audience it so used to naked bodies that they barely notice one. The "Statue" to be replicated at the end I leave to the director, since it is the last image the audience sees, and it obviously has to sum up the point of the production, whether hopeful, ironic, or silly. The man is only a man because he is based on a person I know, gender is really irrelevant to the character.
If you want to perform Kiosk Man, email me at: [] For permission, all you have to do is to agree to send me a program of your production and any local reviews.
Photos and sketches by Tara Maginnis. Photos of Kiosk Man, production, are of Theatre Terramobile/Perpetual Motion Theatre production, 1995, funded in part by Aeroflot Airlines. | align="center" valign="top" |Google |- | align="left" valign="top" |
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