The Female Mind [A GUIDE FOR MEN] by Christopher Walker
A review type approach of separate scenes, held together by the narrator Dr Steph, and each illustrating a different point about the differences between men and women, gives ultimate cast flexibility. The weighting towards females will make this play an attractive proposition for many sixth forms and amateur dramatic groups, for which it is also very suitable.
Originally, it was performed by a cast of thirty-two, but it could be done with massive doubling, by many fewer than that - or by many more. The cast list below shows the numbers needed in each scene, which will help in the sensible allocation of roles.
DR STEPH is the one character that cannot be doubled. As she is in every scene, I have not listed her again.
1.In The Beginning: CAVE MAN, CAVE WOMAN,, + 2 extras as Cave Kids
2A. Peripheral Vision: SIMON, ALICE, MAP GIRL + 2 extra female passers-by
2B. No Way Out: MOTHER, VIRGINIA
3A. Female Intuition: MEN: NICK, CHIP, TOM, FRED, IAN, MARTIN
WOMEN: LANA, SARAH, SALLY, ALISON, LIZ, CAROL, BIANCA,LUCY
3B. After the Works Do: DAVE, JANICE
3C. Men Don’t Notice the Details...: GEORGE, GASTON, MAUD
3D. ... Women Do: MARK, LAURA
4. Multi-tasking: TONY, SANDRA, DEBBIE, GEMMA, REBECCA
5A. Sharing the Burden: LUKE, JULIE
5B: Which Shoes?: TIM, BETTY
6. Navigating Skills: GORDON, FLORENCE, PHOEBE
7. Dealing with Stress: LINDSEY, KATHY, NICKY, BEATRICE [all girls]
8. Communication: PIERRE, GLEN, GARY, TREV, KAREN, SUE, BARBARA
9A. Exercising Demons: SUSAN, SHARON, JEAN, KATIE, GERALDINE, MANDY, CINDY, FEMALE FITNESS INSTRUCTOR
9B. Body Image: ROGER, VANESSA
10A. Cave Love: CAVE MAN, CAVE WOMAN
10B. What She Wants: MICHAEL [played by female], ELIZABETH
10C. What She Gets: HARRY, MARY
10D. Three Little Words: DAVID, GINNY
10E. Is That It?: ALAN, JANET
BARE MINIMUM for Cast = 9F and 6M. But they would be very busy indeed!
Sample Pages from the script
Extract 1: PROLOGUE
Stage in darkness. A voice is heard shouting ‘I wish I’d never met you!’, followed by the sound of a slamming door. Spotlight DSC picks out a forlorn male, coat over his shoulder, staring at the ground.
JOE looking up, aware of an audience Women! Does anyone understand them? All I did was tell her we could discuss our relationship after the match, so I’d not be distracted! What was so wrong with that? She did ASK me if it was ‘a good time to talk!’ Why do women get so upset when a man gives an honest answer to a question? If they don’t want answers, they shouldn’t ask us questions. We’re not mind readers, are we? If a woman doesn’t tell us what she wants, how are we meant to know?
Take when we’re getting ready to go out and a woman asks our opinion on what top, purse or shoes go with some outfit. Most guys don’t own more than five pairs of shoes in total, so what possesses a woman to think we’d have the first clue how to match shoes to anything, let alone a dress!? But. We do our best to help, only to find whatever answer we give is the wrong one. Of course, if they spent less time shopping for things they’d already got plenty of, there wouldn’t be a problem.
What I’d really like to know is why, if something I say can be interpreted in two ways and one of those is critical of her, why she automatically assumes that’s the one I meant? When I said she’d got a healthy amount of fat on her I meant just that, not that she resembled a beached whale. Why do women seem to look for insults where there aren’t any, and then inflict mindless psychological trauma on themselves ... resulting in them going on a diet - the main function of which seems to be to stop ME eating what I like!?
I’ll tell you what really annoys me, though. When we’re driving somewhere and she’s sitting there rotating the map around three hundred and sixty degrees and back again without a clue where we are, goes all quiet, and then has the nerve to suggest I’m lost and need to stop and ask for directions! I NEVER get LOST! [Realises he has ‘lost it’ and calms down.]
If only women were more like men: rational, logical, straight-forward... but they’re not. Instead of being complicated and confusing ... why can’t they just be ... well ... simple?
A woman in a smart suit, very professional looking, steps out of the shadows behind him and taps him on the shoulder.
DR STEPH Women are really very simple to understand, Joe ... if men like you only took the time to listen, use your eyes, develop some emotional sensitivity...
JOE looking confused Who on earth are you? And how do you know my name?
DR STEPH Doctor Steph at your service. [Shakes his hand.] I’m a socio-biologist, an expert in studying how human behaviour is influenced by our evolutionary and genetic make-up, and you should think yourself very lucky.
JOE Oh, why’s that then?
DR STEPH Because tonight, Joe, I’m going to help you - and all those other people here - understand the female mind. So just go and sit at the back, out of the way like a good boy, and all will be made clear.
JOE Well, I guess I’ve got nothing better to do, so ... [He starts to walk off, then turns.] Hey! You still didn’t tell me how you knew my name.
DR STEPH Female intuition, of course. I’m a WOMAN! You don’t need to tell me everything - I just know. [To the audience.] Every woman knows Joe Average when she sees him. Now, to business. Men and women are different. Same species and equal we may be, but identical? ‘Fraid not. Our brains aren’t wired quite the same. You men out there may have some vague notion there’s scientific evidence which supports that idea, but every woman in the audience already KNOWS it’s true. We have all the evidence we need.
Extract 2: LESSON 2A PERIPHERAL VISION: THE GUY CAN’T HELP IT
DR STEPH Now ladies, it’s confession time. As everyone knows, men are always getting into trouble with us for ‘ogling’ other members of the opposite sex - an even worse crime if we feel the object of their attention is more attractive than we are. Truth be told, though, we girls ogle just as much as the guys. We just happen to be better at it! Evolution blessed women with wider peripheral vision and this allows us to check out what’s around without our heads spinning like a top. It’s the same skill that lets us girls spot a man doing so when he thinks we can’t see him. The Cave Man’s descendant, with his tunnel vision, has as much chance of getting away with gawping at another woman as a cat has of creeping up on a three-headed mouse! As you’ll see here.
Street sounds. A couple enter from USR in the middle of a conversation, moving gradually DS and L in the course of the following dialogue. They behave as if they are passing shop windows.
ALICE I bumped into Sarah last night.
SIMON disinterested Really?
ALICE You know she’s still going out with Phil? I really have no idea why, after all he’s put her through.
SIMON barely aware, on auto-pilot Hmmm?
ALICE I mean, you saw him with that girl on Friday night, Simon. She was all over him and did he say a word to stop her? I was this close to going right over and telling him just what I thought of his behaviour.
SIMON bored and glancing around Uh huh...
ALICE It’s not the first time he’s done stuff like that either. But she always takes him back! Oooh! Those shoes are nice! [Tugging his arm and pointing.] So what do you think?
SIMON suddenly aware that a response is required What? Sorry. Yes ... lovely ... Really ... er .... red.
ALICE Not the red ones. The silver ones. There!
SIMON Oh, right. [Without enthusiasm.] Yeah. Great.
ALICE returning to original subject You know, I think they would be so much better apart.
SIMON puzzled What? The shoes?
ALICE Phil and Sarah. Perhaps I should tell her about the girl we saw Phil with the other night. She can’t carry on letting him take advantage of her like this. Honestly, you should see Phil staring and smiling at other girls, even with Sarah standing right beside him. [As she says this, an attractive girl walks by from left to right and Simon is unable to resist turning his head fully to get a proper look.] It’s disgusting!
DR STEPH to audience Uh huh. She saw that.....................
Extract 3: LESSON 3 A; FEMALE INTUITION - WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO?
While Dr Steph is speaking, actors take up positions across stage, representative of a Christmas social: people grouped around a room, sipping cocktails. The girls wear things like tinsel and Santa hats.
DR STEPH Our early role as nest-defender gave us girls a lot of unique gifts. In addition to peripheral vision and a better sense of hearing and smell, we evolved an ability to spot changes in our immediate environment and an awareness of detail, beyond that of any man. Our so-called ‘female intuition’, feared as some supernatural power by men everywhere, is no more than a superior ability to ‘read’ all the subtle nuances of vocal and physical expression.
Dr Steph moves upstage to accompany a couple just arriving at the gathering. As they walk forward, the man and woman are clearly surveying the room. She is looking at people, he the layout of the room. The groups around the room mime conversation. The body language of the women indicates they are flirting outrageously, but the men in this scene are completely unaware.
DR STEPH Let’s take a couple arriving at some innocent social gathering, like a Christmas party, say. When the man enters the room his in-built exploration and survival instincts are likely to lead him to scan the room for points of entrance and exit, or he may be noting jobs which could be done to improve it. Whereas the woman by his side - well - she could probably tell you what each conversation in the room is about.
During the following snatches of conversation from each group, the rest continue interacting in mime. First to speak are the trio DSR, two girls either side of one man, clearly in competition.
NICK Yes, that’s right, I’m an architect.
LANA enthusiastically Really! [Flicking back her hair and twiddling with a necklace.]
SARAH even more enthusiastically Wow! [She sighs, flicks her hair back and tilts her head up to his admiringly.]
NICK not out to impress, looking over their heads I’m currently working on a project for the council.
SARAH That must be really important.
NICK Oh, it’s no big deal, really. [Distracted.] A monument for the centre of town.
LANA I bet that takes loads of muscle power... [Grabs his arm.] ... and, my, haven’t you got big strong arms.
SARAH grabbing his other arm, causing Nick to stagger slightly Yes. You must get those from all that digging ... and lifting ... and ...
NICK Well, not really. I don’t do the actual building.
LANA Oh no! Of course not. You’re the smart one who tells others what to do, aren’t you?
NICK Err, yes, well anyway, the monument will be quite tall. In gold leaf.
LANA Sexy! [She strokes his arm.]
SARAH Cute! [Stroking his other arm.]
NICK Forty feet high.
LANA Wow! [Crushing in and looking up at him.]
SARAH That’s so - big! [Doing the same, and fluttering eyelashes.]
NICK Things are always extremes. People do want to have the biggest - or the smallest. [Sarah and Lana nod in agreement.]
LANA That’s right. Take women. Either Size 8 - [Glaring at Sarah] - or a number that’s not been invented yet.
SARAH glaring at Lana I sooo know what you mean.
As the girls thrust out their chests, flick their hair back and cling onto his arms, the focus switches to a pair USCR. The girl is standing very close to the man, touching arms.
CHIP So, you see, the square of the fifth multiple of M is directly proportional to the sixteenth root of N.
SALLY I’ve never met a real rocket scientist before. You know, science is so hot! [Placing hand on his arm.]
CHIP Did I tell you about the sequence of tetranomical thermocardstia?
SALLY grimacing at audience No. Not yet.
CHIP Well, the cube of the twelfth...
SALLY quickly interrupting Hey, do you get to go on space missions then? ........
Extract 4: LESSON 4: MULTI-TASKING
DR STEPH It’s just as well that we women have been the home-makers throughout much of the evolution of our species, otherwise it’s quite likely that the human race would have become extinct very quickly. As any woman who chooses to run a home can tell you, there can be a trillion tasks to juggle at once. The reason women are better equipped to deal with this situation, comes down to the way our brains are wired up. We women have more connection fibres between the left and right hemispheres of our brain, enabling us to concentrate on several things simultaneously, while our male counterparts, with their compartmentalised brains, find it a struggle to divide their attention between even two tasks. A woman can apply make-up, make conversation on a hands-free phone and bake a cake all at once, but if you force a man to talk to you while he’s shaving, he’ll probably cut himself. To illustrate this crucial difference, take a look at a scene routinely played out every day in homes around the world.
During the above, actors have taken up positions. Mum - Sandra - stands ironing, SR; Dad - Tony - is on a couch CSL, intensely focused on tuning a large telly the back of which faces DS. A child of about 1 - Rebecca - kneels doing homework CSR. In a separate area of the stage, SL, a friend - Debbie - stands pressing the digits on a phone. Sandra’s phone rings.
SANDRA switching mobile on Hello?
DEBBIE Hi, Sandra. How are you doing? We’ve not talked since Tuesday, have we?
SANDRA No, I’m sorry. I’ve just been so busy, Debbie. Took the dogs for their boosters, the kids needed new shoes and planning for the holiday already.
DEBBIE Oh, that’s right. Won’t be long now, will it? Bet you’re looking forward to a nice break.
SANDRA We’ve never been to Cornwall before. Tony’s been buying guide books and working out what’s to see and do. You know how he likes to plan things in advance. Just like a General plotting the campaign, he is. We’ve got a nice caravan by the sea sorted and the coach tickets are paid for. We leave on the 16th....
Rebecca moves to sit by Dad, holding exercise book open.
SANDRA ... so all we have to hope for is good weather, not like when we went to Morecambe.
REBECCA overlapping with above Dad. Can you name any of Henry the Eighth’s wives?
TONY I really need to concentrate, Rebecca. Ask your mother.
SANDRA ... and the only day it didn’t rain was when we came home.
SANDRA Yes, dear?
REBECCA I need to know Henry the Eighth’s wives for my History homework.
SANDRA Katherine of Aragon. Ann Boleyn. Jane Seymour. Anne of Cleves. Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr.
REBECCA Mum, you’re awesome.
SANDRA to Debbie We just walked around all day with umbrellas and sugared donuts, or stayed in the guest house watching telly.
DEBBIE Oh, that reminds me. Did you get your TV fixed?
SANDRA The repair man said it was beyond saving. Tony had to buy a new one and he’s been busy trying to programme the channels all evening.It’s one of those wide-screen stereo-dolby multiple surround sound something or others. You know. Does everything but fry an egg. Boys and their toys, eh?
DEBBIE So how’s he doing?
SANDRA Oh, all he’s got is spinning grey haze so far.
TONY looking around, agitated Sandra? Have you moved the manual?
SANDRA I think you’ll find it’s to the left of the sofa on the floor, where you put it when you went to check the aerial.
TONY looks and finds Oh. Right. [Sits thumbing through and studying.]
SANDRA I hope he gets it sorted before his parents come to visit us tomorrow night. Otherwise I don’t know what we’ll do when conversation dries up after dinner.
DEBBIE I’m going out for dinner with Eric at the weekend. It’s our anniversary. He always takes me out for dinner for a surprise on our anniversary. At least he remembers. [She mimes continued conversation during the following.]
Older daughter, Gemma, rushes in carrying two blouses or dresses, one of which would expose more flesh than the other.
GEMMA Mum! I’m not sure what to wear to go out in. This is okay I think [Flashing one at her quickly.] but I’d look way more grown-up in this one. [Holding it in front.]
SANDRA What about that lovely pastel pink dress with the ribbons Grandma brought you?
GEMMA Mum! That was when I was twelve! I don’t want to look like a child. I’m nearly fifteen!
SANDRA Well, you’re certainly not leaving the house in that one. [Pointing to the more revealing garment.] It shows far too much flesh.
GEMMA Oh Mum!
SANDRA That would send altogether the wrong signals to this boy. Especially on a first date. What do you want him to think?
GEMMA That maybe I’m cool.
SANDRA Well, I would never have worn anything like that. I want to see you in something which goes up to your neck and down past your knees. [Mimes chatting with Debbie.]
GEMMA hoping to get round Dad Daaaad!
TONY without looking How much?
GEMMA Dad! Which dress/ top do you think I should wear?
TONY I’m a bit busy, sweetheart.
GEMMA Please, Dad. Just have a quick look.
TONY glances and scents danger Whichever your Mother says you can.
GEMMA Thanks a lot for your help. When I end up with no boyfriend at all then you’ll both be happy! [She storms out in a sulk.]
SANDRA as if continuing ... hadn’t really given any thought to Claire’s party yet. What are you going to wear?
DEBBIE Maybe that blue dress I prized out of Eric for my birthday last year... [Mimes continuing.]
REBECCA going to Sandra Mum. Are you any good at geography?
SANDRA What do you need to know?
REBECCA Which is the deepest ocean?
SANDRA The Pacific, I think. But go check the wall-chart on your bedroom wall. [Rebecca exits.] Yes, Debbie, that blue dress does show off your figure without it looking like you’re trying too hard.
DEBBIE But I haven’t really got any jewellery that goes with it. Have you got anything I could borrow?
SANDRA Chunky or tinkly, dear?
DEBBIE Tinkly if you don’t mind. I’m not keen on chunky.
SANDRA Well, if you pop round a day or two before to give me an opinion on which dress I should wear, I’ll get my tinkly box out for you. [Folding final shirt.] Oh, just a sec, Debbie. Tony?
TONY not looking Huh?
SANDRA Could you possibly take this pile of ironing up to the bedroom and put it away, dear?
TONY I’m sorry, Sandra, but I can’t do umpteen things at once. I only have one pair of hands............
Extract from: PRODUCTION NOTES + TECHNICAL CUES, ETC.
PAGE 2 Cue: sound effect of door slamming in opening stage directions. Spotlight on Joe, DSC.
Two thirds of way down page, Entrance of Dr Steph. Increase area of Central light.
Once Dr Steph is in position to side of stage, bring up and then retain throughout a spotlight on her. This only needs to dim, or go out entirely when there is a general black-out on stage.
PAGE 4 Top of page. Cue: Dr Steph - ‘Back to - the cave ...’ Cross-fade from central light to eerie greenish lighting bathing whole stage, coinciding with primeval music. Illumination on cave itself should be bright enough for the brain functions to be read.
PAGE 5 bottom of page. Cue: Dr Steph ...’ to affect how both sexes behave today.’ . Gradual cross-fade into a general bright overall stage lighting - a street in daylight.
PAGE 10 Cue, the setting of final bit of furniture on stage before the scene opens: Cross-fade to yellowish indoor artificial lighting over whole stage.
PAGE 12 Quarter of way down page. Cue: Dr Steph...’nuances of vocal and physical expression.’: Dip of lights and up again to much the same as before - or can be a little brighter, though still interior artificial light.
PAGE 16. End of scene. Cue: Dr Steph - ‘sausage rolls.’ Cross-fade to blue light over stage area, with central spot on car, set in the centre.
PAGE 19 Near end of scene. Cue: Janice NOOOO!! - brief red light effect, lasting as long as the sound effect after Nooo, to indicate crash.
Immediately after this, blackout on stage
A beat. Then spotlight up on Dr Steph.