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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 09/2020
  • 978-1-7353820-0-5 1735382000
  • 86 pages
  • $9.95
Ebook Details
  • 09/2020
  • 978-1-7353820-1-2 B08H81ZRFK
  • 86 pages
  • $2.99
Frank South
Author
2 By South: Precious Blood and Rattlesnake in a Cooler
Frank South, author

Two one-act plays directed by Robert Altman in Los Angeles and Off-Broadway in New York City in 1981, and later filmed by Altman for ABC Arts cable television, and now revised by the playwright for this edition. Both plays dig under the myths covering American life and give voice to the perpetrators and victims of violence.

Reviews
“A family for the most part does not want its belly exposed,” reveals Connie, a nurse, halfway into “Precious Blood,” the first of this collection’s two harrowing, accomplished one-act plays. South’s “Precious Blood” and “Rattlesnake in a Cooler,” which hit Los Angeles and New York in 1981 in a production directed by Robert Altman, demonstrate the playwright’s commitment to exposing American underbellies—and ripping at the scars he finds there. In both, South offers a vision of what at first seems to be the mythic white, rural ordinariness that is still sometimes treated in American culture as synonymous with terms like “heartland.” But soon, the secrets spill out—and the knives tear flesh.

“Precious Blood,” a tangle of three overlapping monologues, opens with tender and funny evocations of life in the hilly marshland of Missouri, but crescendos to rape and murder. That nurse, Connie, starkly reenacts a brutal crime, haunted by it but also so grimly accepting of all that men are capable of that she never bothered reporting it. The blistering “Rattlesnake,” meanwhile, concerns a doctor who abandons his career for the rodeo life, a fantasy right out of the country music records he loves. In South’s America, though, the outlaw life’s not a song, but a horror show.

South’s plays obsess over cruel and ugly violence—violence unleavened by Hollywood’s reassuring distinction between good guys and bad guys. Connie compares the occasional surges of rape cases she sees in a Kansas City hospital to a “rush” at a restaurant, and the tough-talking narrator of “Rattlesnake” aspires to be a cowboy hero but winds up a killer down in the mulch with people he only knows as Bad Smell and Pissing Guy. In these plays, it’s cruelty and mourning in America.

Takeaway: These harrowing 1981 one-act dramas, once staged by Robert Altman, lay bare the dark side of American idealism.

Great for fans of: Eric Bogosian’s Drinking in America, Sam Shepard’s True West.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 09/2020
  • 978-1-7353820-0-5 1735382000
  • 86 pages
  • $9.95
Ebook Details
  • 09/2020
  • 978-1-7353820-1-2 B08H81ZRFK
  • 86 pages
  • $2.99

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