Plays by Stuart Spencer
This collection includes three full-length plays: SUDDEN DEVOTION, RESIDENT ALIEN, and IN THE WESTERN GARDEN, composed of three related one-acts. SUDDEN DEVOTION: A young man who is dating an attorney feels himself drawn more and more to an older blind man in his search for intimacy. RESIDENT ALIEN: A comedy about Michael, a Kierkegaard-quoting intellectual in small town Wisconsin, who doesn’t know what to do about the “AWOL alien busboy” who has decided to spend his shoreleave in Michael’s living room watching reality TV and eating Cheese Doodles. Will the real alien please stand up? IN THE WESTERN GARDEN: A trilogy of one acts on the theme of art how and why we create it. In the first play, THE ROTHKO ROOM, a man and woman meet in the room of a museum devoted to the works of Mark Rothko. They are either complete strangers or they know each other better than anyone else in the world. Which is it? Is the secret in the mysterious Rothko paintings themselves? The second play, WATER AND WINE, is based on an historical incident in which Michelangelo visited a poor farmer who had unearthed the long-lost Laocoon group statue of antiquity. In the play, Michelangelo finds not just the statue but also the farmer’s son … who dreams of becoming an artist himself. In LEVELS OF PERCEPTION an aging, ill painter fights to retain moral ownership of his own work.
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“It’s not often you see a space alien in orange Converses and a Wisconsin K-mart employee expound upon Kierkegaard in the woods. RESIDENT ALIEN, a comedy by Stuart Spencer, is filled with such suprisingly funny scenes. RESIDENT ALIEN is hilarious … the dialogue is snappy with lots of local flavor, and the characters interact well with each other … this show is both heart-warming and delightful. The best part of this show is not the kooky humor, and it’s not the Fargo-ish Wisconsin accents. What makes RESIDENT ALIEN so exceptional is that it manages to reveal a number of insights about intelligence, culture and a sense of belonging without being too obvious about it.” —Jenny Sandman, Louisville Eccentric Observer
“RESIDENT ALIEN is a sweet and quirky comedy set in an anonymous small town in northeastern Wisconsin … It’s the characters that set RESIDENT ALIEN apart from television fodder. They are interesting, likeable and cut just enough against stereotype to be refreshingly funny … Additional humor is found in small town insularity. Most of the characters, who are approaching middle age, are still playing out grudges and slights from their adolescent years.” —Damien Jones, Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee)
IN THE WESTERN GARDEN
“… be sure someone pokes you awake for Stuart Spencer’s IN THE WESTERN GARDEN, the evening’s gem. It’s 1989; a famous old abstract expressionist painter and his patient, sagacious wife are visited on their Hamptons farm by his longtime dealer, with a hot young conceptual artist in tow. The dealer, on the verge of bankruptcy owing to the crash in art prices, desperately needs product; the conceptual artist wants either to replace his boyhood hero or to subsume him into the anonymity his pomo installations express. The artist and his wife have secrets of their own to unveil. Packed into the play’s short space are a neat, effective intrigue, a fierce debate about the nature of creativity, four vivid characters … the wit or the nearly palpable passion behind Spencer’s mordant contrivance.” —Michael Feingold, The Village Voice (reviewing the second act of the full-length play being performed on its own)