Act Without Exit

For tonight’s playwriting class, we read Samuel Beckett’s Act Without Words I, which is a short (3-minute) drama with no dialogue, where a man onstage is tantalized by various objects. We wrote out all of the “rules” that Beckett had imposed on himself writing this world, and then we each chose three and wrote our own piece conforming to those rules.

So I give you my quickwrite piece from this week, following these three rules:

  1. All objects come in from above
  2. Every object must be addressed by the character
  3. Character can’t leave the stage/can’t escape



A kitchen set, linoleum, backsplash. Clean, tidy, functional. No furniture or appliances. Morning light through the curtains in the windows. ELENA stands center, on the phone.

Yup, 10am. I’ll be there by 9:45 just to be sure. I’m just about to leave.

The fridge flies in, and ELENA goes to it. While she is there, a table flies in behind her and lands in the center of the room.

I remember how to get there—it’s off the second exit, near the bank. Right by that new car wash.

ELENA takes out eggs, milk, chives from the fridge, goes to table; chops, breaks, combines, whisks.
The stove flies in behind her. ELENA reaches for it, turns on a burner.

Of course I know. This is your first apartment, you think I would miss this?

ELENA goes to the stove, looks around.
A pan flies in from above.
ELENA takes the pan, sets it on the burner. Takes the bowl, gives it one last stir, and then pours the mixture into the pan.

I wouldn’t say that. I’m sure he’d be happy to do it, but I really do think he was busy this weekend.

A dishwasher flies in from above.

Oh honey, you’re being dramatic. He loves you. He’s just working.

She looks at dishwasher. Is it clean or dirty? Opens and checks. Dirty.
Behind her, the sink flies into place. She looks. It’s half full of dirty dishes. She considers. Does she have time to fill the dishwasher before she leaves?

Yes, leaving soon.

A clock flies in above the sink. ELENA checks it. It’s 9:30.

Oops…Very soon.

A towel flies in and lands near the sink. The eggs are cooked. ELENA turns off the burner, looks for a plate. A cupboard flies in.

Just eating quick breakfast. Real quick.

She opens the cupboard and takes out a plate, dumps eggs onto plate. Grabs a fork from the sink, wipes it on the towel, starts to eat.

Almost done. I’ll leave right after this. I’ll see you soon.

ELENA finishes the eggs, dumps the plate and fork in the sink. It’s time to go. She grabs her purse, starts to exit.

A broom and dustpan fly in from above and land near the fridge. ELENA looks at them and sighs. Puts her purse down. Grabs the broom and starts to sweep.

The clock ticks.


1 Comment

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One response to “Act Without Exit

  1. Dad

    I love this one. I have been there, in fact. Many times. So many times.

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