'SHIP' of fools

BSR Scripts and Sips: Douglas Williams's 'SHIP'

Records, like many people, were made to be broken. (Illustration for BSR by Hannah Kaplan.)
Records, like many people, were made to be broken. (Illustration for BSR by Hannah Kaplan.)

There was a time in the early 2000s when odd records and achievements, like the ones featured in the Guinness Book of World Records or Ripley’s Believe It or Not, had a kind of cultural reemergence — at least as far as my 10-year-old self was concerned.

Both Guinness and Ripley’s had network television shows that profiled things like the man who could pull a truck with just his ear or the woman who had the world’s largest gallbladder removed from her body. I knew these shows were weird and sometimes grotesque, but for whatever reason, I was obsessed. I kept a Ripley’s daily calendar inside my fifth-grade desk and would check out new editions of the Guinness Book as soon as they were released at the library.

It was a short-lived but passionate fascination — one I was interested in exploring with a play I’m currently working on called SHIP. It takes a particular kind of person to be charmed by world records, and an even more particular type of person to dedicate their life to breaking a world record. I began writing this play with both these ideas in mind.

But then something thrilling happened, as it usually does when I start a new play. With nearly every first draft I’ve written, to my surprise, something buried underneath what I have planned in my outline almost always appears on the page. This play was no different. While I began a play about world records, the real thrust of this story for me now is the complicated nature of adult sibling relationships. It's in the secrets we keep with our siblings, the grudges we still harbor from years ago, and the unspoken joy and humor that runs throughout our shared history.

While much of this play is still in flux, I am excited to share this draft with BSR’s readers. If SHIP is ever produced in Philadelphia, it will likely be a very different play than the one I’ve shared here, but sometimes the jitters that come with putting your work in front of people can open up even more surprises underneath.

I’m excited to discover what else is buried in these pages.

Sex with the Captain (this should make sense after page 30 or so)
1/2 oz amaretto
1/2 oz Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
1/2 oz peach schnapps
Splash of cranberry juice
Splash of orange juice

Click below for the SHIP script

SHIP, by Douglas Williams

Sign up for our newsletter

All of the week's new articles, all in one place. Sign up for the free weekly BSR newsletters, and don't miss a conversation.

Join the Conversation