Here we go!! Here’s the first play of the challenge. This is the prompt that I was working with:
It’s the first day of work, and your main character’s new job is very different from what they thought.
Based on that prompt, this is what I wrote for my first day:
A brightly lit office with four pastel-coloured typewriters on four gleaming desks. Three women in pastel-coloured dresses enter and take their seat with their matching pastel-coloured typewriter. They open the leather-bound books on their desks and begin typing intermittently, reading the books for instructions. At times, they each stop to pause and think, before alighting on a good idea that makes them smile and type madly.
VI, in pastel purple, looks over to the empty yellow typewriter.
Juniper and Coral, in pastel green and pastel pink respectively, share a quick glance, and then put their heads down.
VI: Girls? What happened to Clementine?
They don’t respond. At that moment, SILVIO enters with a new girl – UNA – who wears a simple dress in smart, neutral colours.
SILVIO: And you’ll work here at Yellow Station.
UNA: Yes, Mr. Jett.
SILVIO: Please, call me Silvio. The girls here will show you the ropes. Una, this is Vi, Coral and Juniper, and they’re all very experienced and knowledgeable.
UNA: Wonderful. Nice to meet you all.
JUNIPER: I hope you like puns and quotes. We’re just mad about them here!
UNA: Oh, I don’t think I’d be suited for this job if I didn’t!
JUNIPER: Quite right!
CORAL: The only thing June is really mad about is her overgrown poodle.
JUNIPER: Well, he was meant to be a toy, wasn’t he? Here, let me show you a photograph.
VI: Mr. Silvio, what happened to Clementine?
JUNIPER: (the photographs) His name is Dr. Waggles.
SILVIO: Oh, Vi, I can’t talk about that. (to Una) Now, settle in, and I’ll be back in a moment with your forms.
Una settles in at the yellow typewriter, looking at Juniper’s stack of poodle photographs.
CORAL: So, Una, you see your coloured files over there?
CORAL: That’s where you’ll find your completed crosswords. They’re all pre-filled by some large computer in goodness-knows-where. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose to work on, as long as you date it properly and ensure all the clues you write are comprehensive.
UNA: Fine with me. At my last job, we had to make sure we had every type of clue in every single puzzle. At least two fill-in-the-blanks, an anagram, historical quote – No problem for me.
JUNIPER: And how did you go getting all the messages into one puzzle?
UNA: Oh, you mean cryptics? Honestly, I haven’t done them for a while but I used to be quite a dab hand at alternate letter clues.
JUNIPER: But you always got the straight clues and the extra messages in, right?
UNA: What extra messages?
Una looks to the other girls, confused. They realise.
VI: Silvio didn’t tell you?
UNA: (laughs) I don’t know what he didn’t tell me. He told me what he told me.
VI: Did he tell you what you can’t tell anyone?
UNA: What’s happening? Is this an orientation joke?
JUNIPER: I’m not saying it out loud.
CORAL: Well, don’t look at me. Maybe he didn’t want to tell her yet.
JUNIPER: So, how’s she going to do her job?
UNA: What are these extra messages?
VI: You’re both ridiculous. Una, you see thatlittle leather book there?
UNA: This one?
VI: That’s basically your bible. The most important thing you’ll work with all day, and the most precious thing you’ll ever touch in your life. You have any kids?
UNA: Yes… my boy is seven.
VI: Well, you ever have a gun pointed at your head, and they ask you to hand over that book or your son, then you know which one you’re going to be giving up.
UNA: (stands) I don’t think I want –
CORAL: Oh, sit down, she’s just being dramatic. That book in there just tells you the real answers you need to get out. You find the right date, you find the message that needs to get conveyed, and then you sew it through your clues like a little hand-stitched sampler.
JUNIPER: 99% of people will just see the straight answers, and they do the crossword. But that special 1% will be able to read the message and know what to do with it.
UNA: And what do they do with it…?
JUNIPER: Don’t know.
CORAL: Nothing too serious.
VI: Better if we don’t know, I assume.
UNA: But what sort of messages – who are these people?
CORAL: Honestly, honey, we don’t know any of that. It could be the grocery list for the Queen of Sheba for all I know. It doesn’t really matter.
JUNIPER: And we always have lunch at Golden Charlie’s on Fridays. You more of a gin or whisky girl?
And there we go! Day 1 complete. What did you think of my half-finished play? Thanks for reading, everyone xx