Jim Tranquada

"Rock, Paper, Scissors," an award-winning comedic play co-written by Occidental College adjunct theater professor Laurel Meade '88 and writer/director Corey Madden, is playing at theaters in the Netherlands and Belgium this fall.


Speeltheater Holland, a nonprofit children's repertory company based near Amsterdam, is producing the play, which has been on tour since Sept. 12. The theater company will end its run of the play, billed in Dutch as "Steen, Papier, Schaar," on Nov. 28. Madden and Meade will join the production on Nov. 19. They will consult with Speeltheater on the play's last 10 shows and lead movement and creativity workshops for the children in the play's audiences.

The one-act play, which uses music and movement but no dialogue, focuses on two lonely, isolated characters: an old man named Ollie and a young boy named Yuki. The characters are addicted to technology--Ollie watches television for hours and Yuki plays video games non-stop. They initially clash, but come together to solve conflict using their imagination. The only tools they have at their disposal are scissors and paper. In fact, the set is a three-walled house made entirely of paper that is torn, molded, cut, and transformed.

The playwrights used paper as the show's main conceit as a challenge. "We thought, ‘What's the most uninspired material?' Something you look at and don't normally think ‘Oh, that could be a bird, a boat, or a spaceship,'" Meade said. "We chose plain white paper to challenge our characters to be as creative as possible."

She added that "Rock, Paper, Scissors" takes its cue from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," an 18th-century poem by Goethe. The poem tells the tale of a magician's apprentice who uses magic--which he ultimately cannot control--to perform menial tasks.

"We used the poem's story as a loose framing device to explore the idea of inter-generational power and re-imagine what magic could be," Meade said. "We also explore the roles of technology and creativity in our everyday lives, and how we use them to our best and worst advantage."

While "Rock, Paper, Scissors" is suited for children, the play embeds serious themes that adults would appreciate, said Madden, a Los Angeles-based writer and director and the former associate artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum. The themes include our dependence on technology and the importance of creativity and our ability to think on our feet.

"We crave stories, but a machine doesn't have to be the answer to that," she said. "Our imaginations are the most important thing about us. Another takeaway is the importance of human relationships to bridge all kinds of distances."

Madden and Meade created "Rock, Paper, Scissors" several years ago, and held development workshops on the play in the College's Keck Theater. Bruno Louchouarn, an assistant professor of multimedia theory and practice at the College and Madden's husband, composed the original score for "Rock, Paper, Scissors." In 2009, the Tucson, Ariz.-based children's theater company Childsplay produced the play, which won Arizona Theater Awards for best production and best sound design.

The playwrights said they're keen to see how Speeltheater Holland interprets their play. "It's fulfilling to share your vision beyond a local or even national audience," Meade said. "This is a new story with an old, but still resonant, message: Let's put down the habits that keep us separate from one another and instead learn how to collaborate, to bond, to play."

For more information about Speeltheater Holland's production of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" go to: http://www.speeltheater.nl/Ehome.html.

For more information about Laural Meade, go to: http://lauralmeade.com/.

For more information about Corey Madden, go to:http://web.mac.com/cbmcorey.