Sonia Barkat had long dreamed of being an author, though she always believed her first work would be a novel. Throughout childhood, she was famous for making “books” which included only dramatic prologues, intricately designed covers, and a full set of marketing copy.
Sometimes our initial dreams funnel into new directions. That’s how it happened with Sonia, who first began writing plays as part of a class. In that context she discovered that her penchant for prologues, dialog, and compact language could translate fairly seamlessly into writing solid monologues and plot action—driven by how characters spoke and gestured to each other, as well as by how they were positioned in relation to each other and an imagined set.
Thus, over time, she developed a series of short plays that take advantage of her best skills—one of those skills being the ability to pack a world of emotion and meaning into a few well-chosen words. The impact of this world is increased by how she juxtaposes characters’ words and actions—much the way a poet harnesses juxtaposition to make a powerful impact within a carefully-crafted small space.
Three of Sonia’s best plays have now been made available in Winter Stars: Three 10-Minute Plays—From Tragedy to Fantasy to Comedy. Read them like poetry. Imagine them like a brief Indie film. Wish for them to make their way to a stage. Whatever you do, enjoy “Auras in Suburbia,” “To the Shadows We Return,” and “Winter Stars” in this delightful debut collection.
Featured photo by Marco Verch, Creative Commons, via Flickr.
Write a poem or story opening in which a character uses a made-up or quirky word. Whatever tone the word lends your poem or story opening, keep it going in the voice and sentiments of the character.
When Sonia Barkat set out to write the 10-minute play “Auras in Suburbia” that is now part of Winter Stars: Three 10-Minute Plays, she first worked from a magic word prompt.
Thus was born Mr. Jefferson, the star of the suburbia show. Here is an excerpt from his opening monologue, which uses the quirky word swooshes:
This gardener is no good. I sense danger. Danger and murder and bad poetry. The crystals don’t lie. I won’t have a menace trimming my hedges. It’s just practical. Only logical. I can see the ill-intentions with every flower bed he mulches … Murder; it swooshes.
I saw a sign the other day, in the crystal, just as I was stirring the sugar into my tea, and folding the creases from the morning paper. He has magic in the seams of his foul coat. Who wears a trench coat to water hydrangeas? Murder, I sense it. His coat; it swooshes.
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Daryl W says
Hers was palpable.
He felt it in her every move and glance.
She stared through him, her eyes like lasers cutting through layers of clothing, then skin, then bones and opening windows into his soul.
She carried it with her like a rucksack full of stones, only at times it was heavier than the river rocks she loved collecting as they walked.
At times she was drenched in its sweetness, like honey or syrup dripping from her fingers, and then
Just as suddenly it would turn as sour as lemon rind clenched between her teeth.
No matter how hard he tried the blisters caused by it’s fire refused to heal,
until that day she found she just couldn’t carry it anymore and she laid down the rucksack and turned her back on it and him forever.
Daryl Wolke says
I realized I never named my word….it was jelifiendish. In later rewrites, because I do that, I write and rewrite constantly. I used it two or three times.
L.L. Barkat says
Daryl, would love to see the rewrite where you use the magic word. 🙂
“Jelifiendish,” she told him.
And hers was palpable.
He felt it now, too – in her every glance, in her touch; or really in her absence of touch, in her absence of desire to touch him, specifically.
“Jelifiendish,” she cried.
And the word hung there, as if the air had suddenly become thick and held it up where he could see its letters.
“Jelifiendish,” she continued.
Staring at him sitting across from her looking helpless and lost.
Her eyes felt like lasers.
She wanted to cut through him.
Through his clothes, his skin, his bones and into his heart.
She wanted to open all the windows and see into his soul.
“Jelifiendish,” she yelled.
She carried it with her everywhere, like a rucksack filled with stones. Only it felt heavier than the river rocks she loved collecting when they walked.
At times that spring, she was drenched in its sweetness, like honey or syrup dripping from her fingers.
And then, just as suddenly it would be bitter, like she was clenching a lemon rind between her teeth.
No matter how he tried.
As spring gave way to summer, he couldn’t heal the blisters that had formed when she touched the fire of “Jelifiendish.”
The fire he had brought into their life together.
Until that day, “Jelifiendish,” she whispered.
And she laid down her rucksack and allowed the stones to escape.
Jake c aller says
Scumbagery spreading with the virus
there seems to be
an epidemic of scumbagery
along with the corona virus
as political leaders
across the world
trample upon old social
and political norms
ushering in epic scumbagery
becomes the new normal
to cope with the end of the world
feel of the pandemic
L.L. Barkat says
What a marvelously old-fashioned feeling word. Do you have images associated with it in your mind? (Besides the faces of certain leaders. 😉 )
Jake c aller says
hmm thanks for the comment. the word came to me a while ago and applies to all sorts of misbehavior one finds these days.
Bethany Rohde says
I bought Sonia Barkat’s book, Winter Stars, and enjoyed reading something different from everything else on my shelves.
How delightful that she created a full set of marketing copy in prior days! What fun.
I also love what was noted above about how she initially thought she would bring a novel into the world, and that, “Sometimes our initial dreams funnel into new directions.” Encouraging to see that evolution play out in such a positive and life-giving way.
L.L. Barkat says
Bethany, I will tell her about the “something different from everything else on my shelves.” Partly, I think it’s her ability to quickly create a world pulsing with personality and voice that creates the difference. 🙂
Yes, so much marketing copy under the bridge!
Success often relies on that ability to funnel into new directions. It’s part of the creative spirit, perhaps (rather than to be seen as any kind of loss or lapse).
Glad you enjoyed Winter Stars! ✨