Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Laying Ghosts" by the Wireless Theatre Company

Linda Mathis (Pearl); Maggie Turner (Connie); source.

You can hear or download the play Laying Ghosts here. Explore the site--there are many other good plays  at the Wireless Theatre Company.

The class did a superb job analyzing and discussing this play. Here are some of the questions we considered in class:

Section one

  1. The neighbor says to Connie, “Could you not find your black [dress]?” Why does she say it? What does it reveal about her character?
  2. What was the man doing when he spoke about Jack having been a supporter of a rugby club and saying “he will be sorely missed?”
  3. Why was Sandra wearing a short skirt to a funeral?
  4. Why did Gary say he was leaving before his mother expected him to? What does this reveal about Gary or his feelings at the moment?
  5. What does Sandra feel about leaving then?
[Ends with “I just wanted to say, 'I miss him,' that's all.” - 5:57]


Section two – several months later

  1. What activities does Val think Connie should or shouldn't take on? Why?
  2. What is the only thing Connie says she really wants to do? Why?
  3. What does the neighbor suggest as the reason Gary said he wasn’t sorry about his father?
  4. Why does Connie talk about the sandcastles and the summer vacation? Is this important?
  5. At the precise moment just before Gary spills beer on his shoes, what did Connie ask him?
  6. After she gets out of the car, Connie says to Gary, “Are you feeling quite yourself?” Why?
  7. Why does the neighbor, Val, tell her she needs to go to the George? What was Connie’s response? Do you agree with Val or Connie?
[Ends with Val saying “Some people don't know when they're lucky.” - 12:50]


Section three

words: to mend, to shove
  1. Why didn't Connie get in touch with Sandra earlier?
  2. Where is Connie when she says, “no need to shove!”
  3. Why did Sandra not want Connie to make the tea?
  4. What was Connie’s response to the messy kitchen? What created the problem(s)?
  5. What did Gary find out a few days before the funeral? Why did Connie think the timing made sense?
[Ends with “Right. That'd make sense.” - 18:14]


Section four

  1. Who is Pearl? What’s the significance of her accent? What does that mean about Sandra, and how she grew up?
  2. Why do they both giggle when Connie says, “I blame the parents”?
  3. What's the difference between Val's approach to helping Connie, and Pearl's approach?
  4. Why does Connie say that it seems like her husband has “simply vanished”?
  5. Connie tells Pearl that when Gary calls, he always rings off at a certain point in the conversation. When is that point?
[Ends with “Gary, ring me, will you?” - 24:11]


Section five

  1. Connie lets herself into Sandra's flat and talks, without seeing Sandra, while she heads into the kitchen to put some buns into Sandra's fridge. What does that say about their relationship?
  2. Why does Pearl have to pay for the funeral?
  3. What does Pearl mean when she says, “Every penny I earn scrubbin' floors has someone's name written on it.”
  4. What’s Connie’s plan for getting Sandra and her mother back to Ghana?
  5. In the next conversation with Val, the neighbor, what do you think Val was about to say about Sandra and her family? Why doesn’t she approve of the way Connie has found to get out of the house?
[Ends with “I don't know, but I'm going to find out.” 28:27]


Section six

words: to try (the patience of a saint), skinny latte, a top-up, to row (phonetic spelling: raʊ), “I'm not cut out to be ___”, bloke, I.T., to muddle along
  1. Who is the receptionist really talking to on the phone when Connie comes into his office?
  2. Why does the receptionist say, “Can I get you some water, Gary? Or something...”
  3. What was Gary's response when Connie says, “Were you sad when your Dad died?”
  4. What was the real reason for Gary’s ambivalence about his relationship with his father?
  5. Why does Gary say, “and then he went and died!”?
  6. What was Gary referring to when he said, “I don’t know how to do this”?
[Ends with “I'm muddling along the best I can, just like any one else” 34:41]


Section seven

words – “to have a little set aside”, washing-up bowl, kip, taps
  1. Has Connie traveled much before?
  2. Who came to visit Connie the night before they all left?
  3. What were Connie, Sandra’s and Pearl’s reactions to the car ride from the airport?
  4. Why are Sandra’s and Pearl’s reactions so different?
[Ends with crowd noises – how was your journey? You're welcome, you're welcome.” 40:25]


Section eight

words: kip, cassava
  1. How are the two funerals in the play different? What elements do they have in common? What do you think of the differences and similarities?
  2. What's the significance of Sandra saying, “Me? I like a take-away.”
  3. Who were the messages from that Connie and Sandra received? What’s the significance of the sandcastles? The p.s.?
  4. What do you think about Gary now?
  5. Connie says, “Do you want to have a little go?” What does that mean?
  6. Why does Connie enjoy the dancing in a strange place so far away from home?

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