Diary of a Coma Patient
A One Act Musical Comedy Running 90 Minutes

(Light up on downstage center, on a mostly empty stage. Somewhere offstage, machines are running, green lines pulsating across their notably outdated displays. These machines are a product of an older time, of a time where research and medicine focused on the technology and cold, clinical aspects of health and death. Those days are past, as are the times that these machines got the focus. For that reason they stay just offstage, just out of view of the audience. This is not their story, this is not their time. Medicine is more human, now. Medicine is more personal.

Somewhere, doctors are yelling and running from room to room. But not down here. Down here everything is calm, everything is collected. The walls have been soundproofed and the glass tinted, to allow the coma patients their rest. For many of them, it might be years until they wake up again. Many of them never will. But just in case, for those who will, this area has been sealed off from the rest of the hospital. It’s more personal that way.

The stage, however, does not have the majority of these patients. In fact, all but one are hidden offstage with the machines, there, but not present; present, but not noticed. Due to this, you may have as many additional coma patients as you wish, waiting attentively in the wings. I have found in my experience that six other patients makes for the best performance. Perhaps it is something to do with the fact that six is a perfect number, maybe something to do with the fact that seven {that is, the six patients and Robert} is a magic number.

Make sure you communicate to your actors beforehand that they will be doing nothing during the show and, likely, will receive very minimal applause and more than a few confused looks when the time comes for bows. I have found that not telling actors that they will not be accomplishing anything leads to very confused and distraught actors when performance time comes. I do not understand this entirely; it seems to me as though most actors spend their entire lives not accomplishing anything.

Ensure that your theater is kept at the crisp temperature of 62 degrees; warm enough that one would be advised to wear a fleece to the show but not quite cold enough to allow one to keep their jacket on. This dual nature of the temperature can only serve to enhance the performance and keep your audience attentive and hanging off every single word dripped onto your stage. In fact, I advise that you keep this practice for all performances of any work of art, and not merely this masterpiece you hold in your hands.

However, you should take pains to heat the stage separately. Actors tend to perform their best while fully comfortable, and this play will require their full ability. The proper temperature can be reached through the use of heaters.

On the specially warmed stage, underneath the light which I have already described {though not in as much detail as I should, perhaps - make sure the light is a cool light shining from a catwalk, to encapsulate the ambiance of a hospital in the purest of forms} stands ROBERT, a coma patient and our main {but not only - remember the other six actors} character. As the lights rise, he is already frozen, staring out at the audience and the orchestra {composed of whatever you feel fits the mood best; I myself have used both a full symphony orchestra and multiple symphony orchestras for this piece} energetically leaps into continuous repeats of John Cage’s masterpiece, 4:33)


ROBERT: (pause for ninety minutes)


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