Four Voices is a verse tragedy that is passionately atmospheric and somewhat reminiscent of Dickens. Four Voices exposes the consequences of greed and extreme loneliness. The results of these conditions for the four characters are forays into sexual taboos, murder, suicide and confusion. The ending is astonishingly cleaver.
Length: Short, 30-35 minutes
Cast: 2 females, 2 males
Misc.: Optional incidental music available via mp3
"She stays uncluttered in style and clear in ideas. Even dealing with such difficult and delicate subjects as suicide, murder, incest and tragic loneliness, she manages to keep matters under full control. The result is an interesting, strangely hypnotic, intelligently written piece."
-James G. Shine, The Kingston Freeman (December 11, 1988)
"Shapiro frames her story as a parable... The lines have the lilt of a Shakespearean verse which adds to the work's portentous character."
-Florence Pennella, Poughkeepsie Journal (December 11, 1988)
Interview with Alice Shapiro
Q: What makes Four Voices different than other one act plays?
A: Four Voices is written in verse so it has an element of poetry about it. The words spoken by the characters are rhythmic, which gives the listener a deeper understanding of each character's nature. Instead of writing in stage directions for the actors, like "be excited" or "sad", the emotional content is naturally embedded within the dialogue.
Q: Two of the characters are women. Did you design one of the characters after you?
Is one of the characters directly related to you?
A: No, at least not that I know of. Maybe I'm all the characters? I cannot explain how this particular play was designed as I feel that it came through me rather than from me. I hope that makes sense.
Q: What led you to write this one act play?
A: In the mid-1980's I decided to switch from painting to writing. I signed up for a two-week writing workshop at New York University where I learned that I enjoyed writing plays and poems. After the workshop ended I wrote Four Voices in three days time. It was something that emerged spontaneously and was not deliberately developed from an in-depth study of characters, plot, subject matter, or even length.
Q: Where and when has your stage play been performed.
A: After writing the play I read it to a friend and made one transitional edit. I cannot remember if I sent the play around or just to Apple Blossom Productions in Poughkeepsie, NY for their Bill C. Davis Drama Award competition, but I was thrilled to be one of two winners whose plays were produced and directed by Keith Teller. I stopped writing then and moved around a lot, losing all of my writings. Almost two decades went by until 2005 when I was surfing the net and for fun decided to Google my name. You can imagine how surprised I was to see that Four Voices was housed in the Theatre Archives of Bristol University in England! We couldn't figure out how it got there but they were kind enough to send me a copy. After re-reading it I felt it needed a musical score and asked Eric Ford to compose Shakuhachi incidental music for it. His hauntingly beautiful music is a wonderful addition to the play. In July 2011, Four Voices was performed again by members of C.A.S.T. and directed by Carolyn Clark at the Turner Cassity Literary Festival in Douglasville to a standing room only audience.
Q: Who was your greatest influence?
A: William Packard. He impressed me during the writer's workshop as being honest about writing and was not afraid to confront people on their writing skills. I'd rather hear the truth than produce something inferior.