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Q and Y: A Brief Comedy About Death
by Theresa Buchheister

Production photo

A scene from Q and Y: A Brief Comedy About Death

Author: Theresa Buchheister

Description: They win and lose, fall in and out of love, make multiple mistakes and, in the end, they die - it is a rip-roaring comedy.

Year Written/Copyrighted: 2005
Date Added: 11/26/2011
Content Advisory: Onstage "masturbation", a couple of swear words
Keywords: Comedy · Meta · Non-traditional/Non-narrative/Experimental/Post-dramatic · Small Cast Size · Surrealism/Absurdism
1 Act, 60 Minutes
1 Female, 2 Males

NOTE: Q and Y: A Brief Comedy About Death is fully protected by copyright law and is subject to royalty. All inquiries concerning production, publication, reprinting or use of this play in any form should be addressed to

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From the Author:

Q and Y was the first play I wrote and produced in New York. I had ended a year-long stint rehearsing and performing with and for Richard Foreman and I was dissatisfied with the projects I engaged in directly after the Foreman show ended. I was in a near paralysis, creatively. And, though terrified, decided to write a show that I could direct in the basement of The Drama Book Shop, where I worked.

It began with the idea of the actors sitting on stage, watching everyone come in, and judging them in the most concise way possible. The actors would size everyone up, write down their judgment and then use it to choose, the best of the worst, a person to love.

From that, comedy always being my preferred style, I figured I would write a play that explained and justified suicide as a viable option, attempting to break down any moral, personal, political, religious opposition to the act.

This led me to pinpoint the most meaningful, universal, necessary bits of life. And if these could be condensed and controlled, by an institution or force, suicide would be an okay inevitability. For those who really want it.

So, Q and Y arrive at such an institute. And they agree to everything. And then the play starts. And they go through their last moments together, each desiring an end for different reasons... One because he cares too much and the other because he just doesn't care. They fall in and out of love, they make the same mistake twice, they experience loss, they experience loneliness, they have recreation, they find sexual pleasure...and then they die. And all they have to say is Fuck. A word with many meanings and totally dependent on the actor in the role.

A side note: we worked in a very comedic style with this rather bleak show, having one actor emulate Buster Keaton and the other, Charlie Chaplin.

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Original Production Information

Q and Y: A Brief Comedy About Death was presented at the Arthur Seelen Theatre in December 2005 and at St. Mark's Church in May 2006.

Original Cast:
Q: Matthew Simon
Y: Brian Kelly
S: Averyn Mackey

Second Cast:
Q: Matthew Simon
Y: Ben Horner
S: Averyn Mackey

Script, direction, set, costumes: Theresa Buchheister
Lights, stage management, photos: Jennifer Luck
Sound: J. Brandon Robertson

Excerpt from Q and Y: A Brief Comedy About Death

A long pause as Q and Y examine new instructions or at least think about them. Maybe they look at their “love”. Eventually, however, Q begins to read his book that was sitting onstage all this while. After a bit, Y begins to play cards. He plays war. This goes on for a bit.

S. enters. Takes cards from Y. Exits.

S. enters. Takes book from Q. Exits.

They sit there and the silence mocks them.

Q: That was my only thing.
I guess it makes sense.
Sort of pointless to have it in the first place.

Y: If I had known
Maybe I would have started playing earlier.

Q: Still pointless.

Y: No use now.
What could have been, you know?

Q: A little melodramatic for my tastes.
It was here.
Now it’s not.

Y: Best out of three would have been nice.

Q: And yet you’d still be here without your stupid cards.

Y: What’s your problem? I’ve been nothing but…

Q: A fucking distraction? Stealing my fucking ideas? Making this whole fucking thing a pain in my fucking ass?
Fuck fuck fuck.

Y: You’re really overusing that word.
That’s something I really hate.
Really gets my goat, you know?
It really loses impact when you repeat it like that.
Plus, it makes you look stupid.
Like you don’t know any other words…

Q: I don’t fucking care.