"Degas, C'est Moi"

A One-Act Play by David Ives

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas
Imagine being the artist Degas! For one day, a character named Ed does just that. Mondadori Portfolio

Degas, C’est Moi is a short one-act play included in a compilation of other short plays by David Ives found in the book Time Flies and Other Short Plays. It is also one of six one-act plays in an anthology entitled Mere Mortals: Six One Act Comedies available from Dramatist Play Service, Inc.

The protagonist, Ed, speaks directly to the audience for most of the play with a chorus of actors weaving in and out of Ed’s day playing everything from dry cleaners to buses to homeless people.

Degas, C’est Moi provides a director with an excellent opportunity to explore creative, fluid blocking of actors and movement onstage around Ed while he expounds about the virtues of being Degas. The background chorus is responsible for moving all set and prop pieces on stage in a timely manner to set each scene between Ed and the people of his city.

Plot Synopsis

Ed wakes up one morning and decides that today he is Edgar Degas, the old master painter known for his love of painting dancers and people in motion. Degas is considered an Impressionist due to his love of form and color, but he always considered himself a realist. Ed chooses to be Degas when he wakes up and sees that “the prismatic bars of colors on my ceiling have inspired me.” Of course, Ed also confesses that he’s been drinking a lot of cheap French wine as well and that has perhaps influenced him. Ed’s girlfriend, Doris, doesn’t indulge him in his fantasy world and only reminds him to get up and take their clothes to the dry cleaners.

Ed proceeds about his day and finds even his mundane routine is more meaningful now that he is Degas. Everything seems transformed. His toilet “pullulates with possibilities,” and his city is now “gloriously polychromatic.” It doesn’t matter that he must visit the unemployment office. He is a grand master painter who will be famous for all eternity!

Ed is thoroughly enjoying his mental vacation as Degas until Doris meets him for dinner. Her dreadful day impedes upon his newfound colorful world and he feels Degas slipping away and his old self returning. Ed feels depressed and lost without the famous painter inside his head until he walks home with Doris and sees her getting ready for bed. Her own form and movement as she dries herself after her bath spark something of the romantic painter in him again and he gives up his Degas fantasy for his Doris reality.

Production Details

Setting: Various locations around Ed’s city

Time: Present

Cast Size: This play can accommodate 6 actors with the option of expanding the cast to include a larger background “chorus.”

Male Characters: 2

Female Characters: 2

Characters that could be played by males or females: 2 - 25

Set: The lack of technical production needs makes Degas, C’est Moi a strong choice for anyone looking for a directing scene or one act play to produce (especially in an evening of comedy).

Roles

Ed is tired of his day-to-day existence and seizes upon the notion that being Degas for a day will change his whole perspective. Ed is living under the stress of unemployment in a large city and is desperate to see color and value in his life again.

Degas appears to be the perfect role model to reinstate his sense of wonder and flare for the dramatic.

Doris is Ed’s live-in girlfriend. She does not indulge his fantasy at the start of her day. She is a busy woman with a job and stresses of of her own. At the end of the day, she is happy to share her life with Ed and in her own way remind him of the beauty in the world.

Other Smaller Roles

Driver

Dry Cleaner

News guy

People

More People

People on Bus

Pedestrian

Worker

Homeless Person

Pizza Man

Unemployment Worker

OTB Worker

Librarian

Twin Donut Worker

Young Woman

A Figure

Museum Guard

Museumgoer

Woman with Chrysanthemums

Renoir

Content Issues: Language

Resources

Dramatists Play Service, Inc.  holds the production rights for Degas, C’est Moi.

Here is a video of a film adapted from the play.

This video shows a female playing the role of Ed.