A Saloon at the Edge of the World

Of Song and Water is a tale of singlehanded sailors and jazz musicians, of working-class dreams blighted by family duty, personal betrayals, and the untold violence between fathers and sons.

A Drama in Two Acts,
Co-written with William Relling Jr.

Edge of the Word Handbill

William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler, brought together over the screen adaptation of Chandler’s The Big Sleep, raise one glass after another until dark and troubled characters—their own literary creations—rise up and demand a final reckoning.

ReviewsProduction Photos | Synopsis & Cast of Characters

“Pitting William Faulkner and Raymond Chandler against each other as moral and creative opposites, the great themes of literature and life are argued and defended…. The dialogue is vibrant, witty, and believable…Faulkner is passionate about truth and the dangerous necessity of…going over the edge of whatever it is that keeps us from seeing the truth—a terrain Chandler derides as being the night swamp of sexual, sensual abandonment and self-indulgence….”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Coulson and Relling are almost as clever as Chandler in mixing their bag of expository tricks…this softening of the border between dramatic fiction and sodden reality helps Coulson and Relling, though Faulkner, push the restrained Chandler toward…the border between his troubled psyche and his literary creations, one of the fascinating lurking themes of this play.”   

Marin Independent Journal

Production Photos

Edge of the Word Production Photo
Michael Ray Wisely as William Faulkner, Gigi Guizado as Carmen Sternwood, Fred Barson as Raymond Chandler, and James Patrick Kennedy playing Bogart as “Philip Marlowe”

Synopsis and Cast of Characters

A Drama in Two Acts

Joseph Coulson & William Relling Jr.

On a Friday night in September of 1944, writers WILLIAM FAULKNER and RAYMOND CHANDLER meet in an upscale Hollywood saloon popular among those who work in the movies. The two are brought together by a mutual friend, writer Leigh Brackett, who is Faulkner’s collaborator on the screenplay version of Chandler’s mystery novel The Big Sleep. Ostensibly, the purpose of the meeting is to discuss problems Faulkner and Brackett are having with their adaptation of Chandler’s story. As the evening progresses, however, the two men—both of them alcoholics—commence a drunken, Mephistophelean battle for Chandler’s soul, with Faulkner as the Devil and Chandler as Faust. To tempt Chandler, Faulkner conjures to life some of Chandler’s own characters—among them his detective hero, PHILIP MARLOWE, and the beautiful seductress, CARMEN STERNWOOD. What ensues is a battle of wills between two giants of 20th century letters, who ultimately reveal themselves as the flawed—but wholly human—creatures they truly are.

Cast of Characters

WILLIAM FAULKNER, novelist and screenwriter, age 47.

BUZZ BEZZERIDES, novelist and screenwriter, friend of Faulkner, age 35.

SEAN MALLORY, around age 50, the bartender/co-owner of “Mallory & Drake’s Grill.”

LEIGH BRACKETT, novelist and screenwriter, age 29, Faulkner’s collaborator on the screenplay version of The Big Sleep.

RAYMOND CHANDLER, novelist and screenwriter, age 56, author of the novel The Big Sleep.

PHILIP MARLOWE, the detective character created by Chandler, hero of The Big Sleep.

CARMEN STERNWOOD, age 20, another character from The Big Sleep.

Setting: Mallory & Drake’s Bar & Grill, Hollywood, California.  A Friday evening, in September of 1944.

[Note: The roles of BUZZ and MARLOWE or the roles of MALLORY and MARLOWE may be doubled.]

A Saloon at the Edge of the World was first staged as Edge of the World by TAM in the 1995-96 Season of New American Plays, “Hollywood and the American Reality,” an Equity-approved Production.