Here’s a complete list of my full-length scripts.
All can be produced with minimal staging.
All are available directly from me, except for
* “Fairweather Friends,” which is available through Eldridge Plays and Musicals
* “The Hurleyburg Twirling Society,” which is available through Rebel Belle Publishing.
* “The Armadillo Queen,” “The Cactus Rustlers,” “Exchange of Gifts” and “Rhonda’s High-Class Roadkill Chili,” which are available through Norman Maine / Big Dog Plays.
THE AMERICAN EXPERIMENT
An allegory about immigration. A 13-year-old orphan has an American flag on her face. The orphanage tries to market her as a celebrity. A mysterious government agency has another plan – to test her blood and use it to replicate a new race. Cast: Eight – seven female, one male. Note that six of the seven females are teenagers. Running time: One hour.
THE ARMADILLO QUEEN
A high school girl from the city is forced to move to rural Texas for her senior year. She hopes to keep her head down and tough it out; instead, she’s drafted to be the school mascot — the Armadillo Queen — for a team that’s never won a game and suffers under a curse that if it doesn’t win this year, the town will dry up and blow away. Comedy ensues. Cast: Seven — five females (one teen, four adults), two males (one teen, one adult.)
* Staged reading at Renaissance Theatre, Lynchburg, Virginia, June 25, 2016.
* Produced by Fountain Theatre, Fountain, Colorado, June 2020.
* Published in 2020 by Norman Maine / Big Dog Plays
THE BALLAD OF ALEJANDRO LOPEZ
A play about baseball – and immigration. The immigrant-hating and baseball-loving sheriff of a rural Texas county faces a dilemma when he discovers a Hispanic boy who can throw a 90-mile-per-hour fastball. Cast: Ten – four female, six male, but three of those males have small parts.
* Staged reading at the Cherry Lane Theatre, New York, N.Y., by the Barefoot Theatre Ensemble, June 2013.
THE BROKEN ANGEL
A Christmas story that involves a talking cat, a talking mouse, an angel and a newly-single mom and her son/daughter. Christmas is approaching and there’s not much joy for Riley (who can be anywhere from roughly 8-15). His/her parents have broken up and his/her mother says there’s not enough money for even a Christmas tree. Riley decides to fashion his/her own — out of beer cans salvaged from the trash, with sticks to serve as limbs. The mom is touched by this gesture, and, against her better judgement, agrees to hang ornaments on it — including a very old angel ornament that once belonged to her grandmother. The cat — who can talk to the audience, but no one else — tries to warn that this isn’t a good idea, but the humans don’t listen. The ornament falls and breaks, angering the mom, who orders Riley to bed while she tries to drink away her sorrows. It’s then that the broken ornament turns into an real angel, who tries to deliver an important message. Cast: Five. Two females, and three non-gender (including the child).
THE CACTUS RUSTLERS
Two young women are bored with their lives and wish they were living in the Old West. They read a newspaper story about how there’s a lucrative black market for cacti, and so set off to become cactus rustlers. Adventure ensues, which includes a space alien. Cast: 12 – 7 female, 5 male.
* Staged reading at Showtimers, Roanoke, Virginia, January 14, 2017
* Published in 2020 by Norman Maine / Big Dog Plays
THE CON MAN
Both God and the devil are forced to become allies when they discover a mysterious third force — a time-travelling con man — is flitting across time and space, stealing souls. The con man comes from the 23rd century, where he has won a time machine in a poker game. Now he goes back in time to find people before they become famous, and promises them riches if they sell him their soul — along with a 10 percent cut of any future earnings. Then, when they become rich, he returns and collects his share of the loot. A comic farce that includes a pop singer tossing televisions from her hotel room and a disgruntled computer mogul, plus the Almighty Himself. Cast of at least 12– 5 male, 3 female, 4 non-gender. There are many small female parts which can be easily doubled and are counted here as a single female role. But if you wish to cast more females, you can easily expand the size of the cast to a cast of 16 with 5 males, 7 females, and 4 non-gender. Running time: Two hours.
EXCHANGE OF GIFTS
A sweet Christmas story with a message. Three foreign students studying at colleges in the United States find themselves snowbound at an airport for Christmas. One is from Australia, one is from Canada, one is from Russia. Adventure ensues — involving broken chairs, computer hacking, and a health scare. By the time it’s over, each one has learned something about themselves that changes the direction of their lives. Cast: Three women of college age.
* Staged reading by Attic Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, November 2017.
* Produced by 57 Hours Productions, touring show in Virginia, December 2019.
* Scheduled to be published in 2020 by Norman Maine / Big Dog Plays
EXILED TO TEXAS
A teen-age Russian chess prodigy is sent, against her will, on an exchange trip to a small town in Texas, which hasn’t had a girl born there in the past twenty years. Svetlana is immediately drafted to serve as cheerleader for a football team that has never won a game. Meanwhile, her big sister back in Moscow runs an Internet scam for mail-order brides. East meets west, and comedy ensues. Cast: Six – five female, one male.
* Staged reading at Roanoke Children’s Theatre, Roanoke, Virginia, March 12, 2016. (Not a children’s script; that’s just the venue that hosted the reading.)
A dark allegorical tale about modern politics and immigration. An American truck driver sleeping in his cab at a truckstop in southern California is awoken by two teenage girls, Sam and Libby. He thinks they’re truckstop prostitutes and tries to run them away. Instead, Sam explains that she has rescued her sister from drug gangs in Los Angeles and is trying to take her home to safety in New York. The rescued sister is our allegorical Statue of Liberty. In fact, Libby has not been rescued; she has been drugged against her will, for reciting — and practicing — the poem at the statue’s base: “give me your tired, your poor . . . ” As the roadtrip across North American unfolds, we see that the older sister Sam is not, in fact, a protector and rescuer, but rather her kidnapper, who is trying to brainwash her. Along the way, they keep running into another truck driver, who is taking the same route across the country, and a mysterious woman. In the climactic scene, Sam has hired a tattoo artist to blot out “The New Colossus” poem that Libby has tattooed on her. Just then the two mystery figures burst in — revealing themselves to be special agents for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who are mounting a hostage rescue and extraction to take Libby to safety in Canada. They are joined by a Mexican intelligence agent, as well, who they had previously met along the way at a truckstop. Cast: Eight — Five female (including who can pass for teens, and one Latina adult), three male.
* Staged reading by Equity Library Theater of New York, Nov. 16, 2019.
A British drawing room farce, with modern sensibilities. The chauvinistic proprietor of an 19th century London newspaper must deal with a wife who’s a suffragette and a daughter who seeks own career, and an old school rival out to embarrass him. The plot concerns a series of dispatches being penned by an adventurer in Africa, which have made the Herald a popular newspaper. Unbeknownst to the publisher, the dispatches are actually being written by his wife, who seeks a literary career. Meanwhile, the daughter suspects something is amiss — goes to work for the rival newspaper to expose the fraud. Comedy ensues. Cast: Seven — four males, three females. Running time: Two hours
* Published by Eldridge Plays and Musicals, fall 2011
FOLLOW HER STAR
A different kind of Christmas story. A 12-year-old girl in the United States, disappointed that her mother couldn’t afford to celebrate Christmas, runs away from home in search of Santa Claus. Along the way she meets a series of characters eventually join the search for her as she makes her way north, eventually winding up in Churchill, Manitoba. While this appears to take a “fractured fairy tale” approach – the girl meets three people named Goldie, Frank and Murray, there’s a shepherd out tending his flock, and so forth – the ending conveys the message that Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus at all. There’s also a talking moose, three talking sheep who steal a farm truck and a police car, and a talking polar bear. Cast: 14-16, depending on doubling: 4 female, 4 male, and 6-8 non-gender. One of those female is 12 years old; one of the non-gender roles must be able to play a horn.
57 HOURS IN THE HOUSE OF CULTURE
An audience once died simply for its love of theatre. This is a dark play that re-imagines the 2002 Moscow theatre siege, where Chechen terrorists seized a theatre and held hundreds hostage until Russian authorities gassed everyone. Audience members are held in the lobby, while “soldiers” guard the doors. At showtime, the doors open and patrons enter to find the theatre swirling with poison gas (presumably, you’ll use dry ice), seats overturned, and dead bodies strewn about, while a broadcast announcement plays about the end of the hostage drama. When everyone is seated, the dead bodies come to life, as theatre ghosts, re-telling the tale. Cast: This has been done with as few as nine. Eight main cast members — two male, four female, two non-gender — plus two male soldiers – plus five to seven audience members who are enlisted. And some voices, which can be recorded. Running time: One and a half, no intermission.
* Produced by Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Va., May 16-27, 2012.
* Staged reading at Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Virginia, March 19, 2016.
GOD OF A DEAD UNIVERSE
A dark look at the last days of life on Mars. The Martian civilization has mismanaged its resources and is now running out of water. The rival political factions appear to have come together to install a new government, one that has embarked on a massive canal project to bring water from the poles. A newspaper reporter covering the canal project notices a discrepancy, though, and he/she begins investigating. The reporter suspects embezzlement. When the reporter confronts the chancellor, the chancellor freely admits to siphoning off money, but not for personal use. Instead, it’s to build a giant underground library in which to store Martian artifacts. The chancellor confesses that the canal project is merely a diversion to keep people busy – there’s no way it will work. The planet will run out of water long before it’s completed, and the underground library is an attempt to save at least some remnant of Martian life in case other intelligent beings ever discover it. Cast: 12 or 13, all non-gender.
THE HURLEYBURG TWIRLING SOCIETY
A twirler from back East finds herself stranded in Texas, in trouble with the law for accidentally setting fire to a motel room with her fire baton. To make amends, the judge orders her to teach baton twirling to the girls in the town. However, there are only three — all daughters of a local survivalist, who would rather spend time in weapons training than in baton classes. Meanwhile, the state of Texas drops the town from the highway map. To get back on the map, the town busybody thinks it would be a fine idea for this new baton corps to march in the Cotton Bowl parade. Comedy ensues, involving batons, armadillos, chickens falling from the sky, and many other things Texan. Cast: Eight — five female, three male. The females consist of one senior, one late teens or early 20s who can twirl a baton, and three teens.
* One of ten finalists out of 107 scripts entered in the Branch County Community Theatre festival, Coldwater, Michigan, 2014.
* Published by Rebel Belle Publishing, 2018.
AN IMPROPER EDUCATION FOR AN IMPROPER LADY
Two orphans in Victorian London pass themselves off as governesses. They find themselves employed by a minor nobleman who is trying to get his niece married before she’s 21, so he can inherit her late father’s estate instead of her. The girl appears quite mad but, in fact, is merely faking it to discourage suitors. When the governesses are instructed to get the girl presentable for a new suitor, comedy ensues. Cast: Six – four females, two males.
* Staged reading via Zoom, 57 Hours Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, with a cast from Melbourne, Australia, April 24, 2020.
JOSE AND MARIA: An old story for new times
The birth of Jesus, in a modern setting. On the one hand, this is based on the New Testament accounts. On the other, it’s thoroughly updated: Joseph and Mary are Jose and Maria, two Mexican immigrants on the road to the courthouse to get their paperwork straightened out. The three wise men are three astronomy professors arguing over the nature of the star. The angel of the Lord is a pizza delivery girl named, well, Angel. And there’s a radio talk show host who talks a succession of calls from callers named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Humorous, but with a point. Cast: 20 — 18 adults and 2 children. Gender breakdown: For the 18 adults, 7 male, 8 female, 3 non-gender; the two children may be of either gender.
* One of 18 semi-finalists in the 2003 Barter Appalachian Festival of Plays and Playwrights, Barter Theatre, Abingdon, Va.
* Produced by Attic Productions, Fincastle, Va., November 2004.
* Shortened version produced by Victorian Players, Youngstown, Ohio, December 2016.
Where did Santa Claus come from? There is no particular origin myth, until now. This story begins in the 1740s with an eccentric German professor of what we now call physics. He invents time travel, and when he becomes the target of the wrath of a mob who wants to burn him as a witch, he uses it to escape. Involves science fiction, treason against the king, a love story, and some cooking. Cast: Seven – six male, one female.
* Was scheduled to be produced by Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Virginia in December 2012 but theatre closed before the season began.
* Staged reading as part of the Hollins University Playwright’s Lab Discovery Reading Series, Roanoke, Va., December 16, 2012.
* Staged reading by Gi60 Festival Extending Readings, New York, N.Y., December 2, 2014.
THE LAST ZETA OF ‘38 (male version)
A college prank from the ‘30s has consequences to this day. The Zetas from the class of ‘38 are still passing around a statue they stole from the college as a fraternity initiation rite. When the last Zeta dies, his grandson is faced with the question of what to do with the statue. See also female version; same plot, different genders. There is also a one-act version. Cast: 14 — 13 male, one female. Set requirements: Minimal, but you’ll need a statue of a lion.
THE LAST ZETA OF ‘38 (female version)
A college prank from the ‘30s has consequences to this day. The Zetas from the class of ‘38 are still passing around a statue they stole from the college as a sorority initiation rite. When the last Zeta dies, his grandson is faced with the question of what to do with the statue. See also female version; same plot, different genders. There is also a one-act version. Cast: 14 — 1 male, 8 female, 5 non-gender. Set requirements: Minimal, but you’ll need a statue of a lion.
LE VERRIER VS. ADAMS
Based on the true story of one of the most celebrated — and controversial — scientific achievements of the 19th century, the discovery of Neptune. This is a story full of intrigue, deceit, incompetence, and that’s just on the English side of the channel. It’s also a story with a naturally strong dramatic arc. When astronomers had trouble calculating an orbit for the newly-discovered planet Uranus, many surmised that another, unseen, planet was influencing its orbit. It turned into a race between two mathematicians, each trying to plot the position of that unseen planet, something which had never been attempted. One of them was John Couch Adams, an unheralded and exceedingly shy English college student. The other was Urbain Le Verrier, an egotistical, self-promoting French academic. Adams calculated the position first, only to have his work ignored by the British scientific establishment. Le Verrier, by contrast, carried on a public relations campaign to advertise his findings, but the French ignored his conclusion, as well. When Neptune finally was found, its discovery stirred nationalistic passions on both sides, and sparked another debate on what to call the new planet. Cast: Four. To be historically accurate, all four would be male but this can be done by any gender.
* Zoom reading by 57 Hours Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, June 13, 2020
Based on the true story of one of the most celebrated — and controversial — scientific achievements of the 19th century, the discovery of Neptune. This is a story full of intrigue, deceit, incompetence, and that’s just on the English side of the channel. It’s also a story with a naturally strong dramatic arc. When astronomers had trouble calculating an orbit for the newly-discovered planet Uranus, many surmised that another, unseen, planet was influencing its orbit. It turned into a race between two mathematicians, each trying to plot the position of that unseen planet, something which had never been attempted. One of them was John Couch Adams, an unheralded and exceedingly shy English college student. The other was Urbain Leverrier, an egotistical, self-promoting French academic. Adams calculated the position first, only to have his work ignored by the British scientific establishment. Leverrier, by contrast, carried on a public relations campaign to advertise his findings, but the French ignored his conclusion, as well. When Neptune finally was found, its discovery stirred nationalistic passions on both sides, and sparked another debate on what to call the new planet. Cast: Eight, of any gender configuration you desire.
LILA’S LONG THREAD
This follows Lila’s quest to become a lawyer. There are three different timelines, Lila as a working-class girl who aspires to go to college, Lila as a young adult secretly reading for the law, and Lila in 1967, living in a retirement home, when she is confronted with what could be her most important case. She takes an interest in an African-American teenager working in the retirement home and arranges to get her into her alma mater, Rosewood College. When the college closes rather than integrate, Lila sues the school – and finds herself confronting an old antagonist. At the end, the different threads of her life all come together. Cast: Nine – Five female, four male.
THE MAKING OF THE KING 1483-1485
Shakespeare had his version of Richard III. This is a modern telling, complete with press secretaries, pollsters, media coverage and cellphones. Beyond that, it’s historically correct. This consists of two one-acts, “The Making of the King 1483” and “The Making of the King 1485,” which can either stand alone, or, when put together, constitute a full-length script. Cast: 23 — two female, ten male, 11 non-gender.
• Finalist, Peterson Playwriting Competition, (final four out of 300) Catawba
College, N.C., 2004.
• Two scenes workshopped in public performance by Another Chicago
Theater’s “Last Play Standing” program, Chicago, IL, November 2004.
A MAPLE LEAF ON THE WIND
A quirky international love story. The Wind tries to play matchmaker between a lonely Canadian girl on the prairie of Manitoba and a lonely American boy in Texas. There’s also a talking chicken. Cast: Four – two male, two female.
* Finalist, Best Medicine Rep, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 2018.
MISS COW PIE BINGO
A Texas mother desperately wants one of her daughters to win a beauty pageant. Problem is, neither daughter is interested. The older one just wants to shoot her gun and the younger one is busy playing video games and hacking computer sites. To make up for this, the mom hires a pageant consultant, who turns out to be fake. There’s also a robot. Comedy ensues. Cast: Five females, three males.
* Staged reading at Showtimers, Roanoke, Virginia, January 3, 2015.
MISS MITCHELL’S COMET
Based on the life of Maria Mitchell, America’s first female astronomer. She grew up on Nantucket Island during the whaling era, where she learned the stars at a young age from her father, who worked on navigational instruments for the sailors. In 1847, she became the first American to discover a comet, and went on to win fame as the first woman in a variety of scientific accomplishments, ending her career as a professor at Vassar College. Along the way, she faced opposition from men and women alike who frowned on a woman being a scientist. At Vassar, she was a hard taskmistress, insisting her students learn complicated mathematical formula to understand the orbits of the planets. Deeply religious, Maria Mitchell insisted that these formula were nothing less than a hymn to God’s grand design. Yet she also clashed with authorities, who were often exasperated by her disregard for school rules. She roused students in the middle of the night to look at the sky, once ordered a tree chopped down because it blocked her view of a comet, and even asked a minister to cut short his prayer at evening chapel so she could go observe Saturn. Cast: Two — one woman in her 50s and a man to play various other parts. This is basically a one-woman show with some incidental parts played by a man. Running time: 90 minutes, no intermission.
* Staged reading at Playwright’s Round Table, Orlando Shakespeare Center, Orlando, Florida, December 2017.
MOON OVER MANITOBA
A play about immigration, with a cast of two teen-age girls. Veronica is a teenager from Canada, whose father’s job has taken the family to Texas. She’s homesick for Manitoba. She meets Isabella, who turns out to have arrived recently, and illegally, from Honduras after a harrowing trip from Central America. The two girls know no one else and strike up a tentative friendship. When Isabella’s cousin, with whom she’s living, is arrested by immigration agents, Isabella flees to Veronica’s house. Veronica impetuously decides they should run away to Canada, which Veronica is sure will accept Isabella. That’s Act 1. Act 2 is their trip north, which is full of danger and unexpected developments. Cast: Two teenage girls, one Latina.
* Semi-finalist, New American Voices Playwriting Festival, The Landing Theatre, Houston, 2020.
THE OTHER SIDE OF OZ
A series of scenes, based on the public domain characters of “The Wizard of Oz.” The scenes stand alone, or can be performed as a larger work.
* “The Wizard in Kansas.”
* “Dorothy Gets a Dog”
* “Sensible Shoes”
* “The Wizard Arrives in Oz”
* “Speed-Dating the Wicked Witch of the West”
* “Sitting Pretty (Almira’s Lament)
* “The True Story of Toto”
* “Painting the Yellow Brick Road”
* “Dog Cases”
* “The Munchkin Insurance Adjuster”
* “The Morally Ambiguous Witch of the North”
* “Perfect Tin” or “The Tin Woman”
* “Horse of a Different Color”
* “Not in Kansas Anymore”
* “Homicide, Oz” or “The Oz Files: The Case of the Melting Witch”
* “Having a Heart Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be.”
* “Dorothy on the Couch”
* Produced by Backyard Theatre, Billings, Montana, August 1-3, 2014.
* Produced by Lake Fenton High School, Lake Fenton, Michigan, May 2017.
This is a series of short pieces about baseball, with two competing casts organized as a “home team” and an “away team.” There are nine innings, in which each team presents a short piece, five minutes or less. There’s even a National Anthem and a seventh-inning stretch built in. Casting is flexible, and there are some alternate scripts you can sub in, but generally count on needing seven men, three women, and either one boy and one girl, or two boys. Some of the scenes have been produced separately; you can see video of “The Uniform” and “Sunset in North Dakota” and “Deep Into October.”
RED MOON RISING IN THE EAST (one man show)
Based on the life of Sergei Korolev, the mastermind of the Soviet space program. Because his name was a state secret in the Soviet Union, he is virtually unknown in the West, but he is almost single-handedly responsible for the space race — he launched the first satellite, the first animal into space, the first satellite to the moon, the first man in space, the first woman in space, and many other space firsts long before the Americans. Korolev was a visionary engineer who was first jailed under Stalin’s purges for his experiments, and then released when Stalin understood the need for a missile program. Korolev died tragically, in 1966, and the Soviet moon program died with him. Cast: One man show. Running time: 90 minutes.
• Produced by Alley Stage, Mineral Point, Wisconsin, June 25-July 11, 2009.
• Produced by 40th Street Stage, Norfolk, Va., July 2009, with additional shows at Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Va., Aug. 8-9, 2009.
* Produced at The Venue, Norfolk, Va., February-March 2010.
* Produced at Duluth Playhouse, Duluth, Minnesota, November 2010.
* Staged reading via Zoom by Little Theatre of Norfolk, Norfolk, Va., May 13, 2020.
REVENGE OF THE FAIRY QUEEN
The unauthorized sequel to Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Titania realizes that Oberon has duped her into falling in love with a mortal transformed into an ass. Furious, she plots revenge, to be carried out on Midwinter’s Day. Her plot, though, goes awry and many complications ensue. Cast: 12 – 4 female, 5 male, 3 non-gender.
* Staged reading at Bower Center for the Arts, Bedford, Virginia, June 2018.
RHONDA’S HIGH-CLASS ROADKILL CHILI
Rhonda has never won anything in her life, so one of her sisters persuades her to enter a chili cook-off. Since time is tight, they decide on a roadkill recipe. Meanwhile, Rhonda’s husband is putting up Christmas lights out of season, because he’s determined to win the town contest that winter. When it turns out his light display is bright enough to be seen from outer space, things get more complicated. Aliens, and comedy, ensue. Cast: Nine, although two of those are bit parts at the end. The main cast is: Three adult females, two teen or pre-teen females, two adult males, and then the two small parts are two non-gender characters, although best played as males.
* Staged reading at Showtimers, Roanoke, Virginia, January 2, 2016.
* Published by Norman Maine / Big Dog Plays, fall 2019.
1. * Produced by Salt Fork High School, Catlin, Illinois, Nov. 22-23, 2019
* 2. Produced by Big Piney High School, Big Piney, Wyoming, date unknown, 2019
* 3. Produced by Fowler Public Schools, Fowler, Michigan, date unknown 2019
4. Scheduled to be produced by J. Tucker, Hayfork, California, date unknown 2020.
RIKKI THE THIRD
Shakespeare’s Richard III redone in a modern high school, with the genders switched. Here, the third place finisher in the vote for homecoming queen – Rikki – plots to seize the crown. Cast: With doubling, this can be done with a cast of 12 – 8 female, 3 male, 1 non-gender. Or you can cast each party separately and do it with a cast of 20-24. Those would be 14-18 females, 5 males, 1 non-gender.
* Staged reading via Zoom, 57 Hours Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, with a cast from the U.S., Australia and Canada, April 8, 2020.
THIS ROSE HAS THORNS
A parody of some common Shakespeare themes, with good stage combat roles for women . The daughters of a lord receive letters from their boyfriends, informing them that they have been imprisoned in the Tower of London and expect to be executed. The two women do what seems only natural to them; they dress up as men and set off to London to rescue them – not realizing that the boyfriends intended these as break-up letters. Comedy ensues. Cast: 13 – 7 females, 6 males.
* Produced by Burwood Student Theatre Company, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, April 2018. (Also won an Adjudicator’s Award from the Victorian Drama League, the theatre association for the Australian State of Victoria.)
SOFTBALL IS LIFE
A sports play for women that isn’t really about sports. A former high school softball star sits in prison, estranged from her 14-year-old daughter, who has inherited the woman’s talent for pitching but doesn’t realize it. While the mom tries to contact her daughter, the girl spends her time trying to avoid a dangerous situation in the home where she’s living. Cast: Eight — Four females (one to play a teenage girl), three males, one non-gender.
* Staged reading at Showtimers, Roanoke, Virginia, Jan. 4, 2014.
* Staged reading at Sundog Theatre, New York, NY, October 2015.
* Staged reading at Endstation Theatre, Lynchburg, Virginia, July 11, 2016.
SPIRITS FROM THE VASTY DEEP
In Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, one scene depicts Owen Glendower, a Welsh nationalist leader who led a rebellion against the English crown. In Shakespeare’s play, Glendower was depicted as a mystical barbarian who claimed he could call “spirits from the vasty deep.” In fact, Glendower was a cultured man – a lawyer who had served the English king and was known for keeping a retinue of poets and musicians at his estate in Wales. This play looks at some of the events of Henry IV, Part 1 from Glendower’s perspective. The story as told here follows actual historic events but, for dramatic purposes, conflates many of them and omits others, just as Shakespeare himself did. For instance, Glendower had many children. For dramatic purposes, this script just shows three. Glendower was eventually defeated, but never captured. Welsh legend holds that his shade still walks the hills, waiting to return. That’s the premise that animates “Spirits From The Vasty Deep,” as the ghost of a poet and musician who had been in his service take a modern-day newsboy back in time to introduce him to Glendower.
Cast: 12 — 5 male, 3 female, 4 gender-flexible.
* Staged reading at Mill Mountain Theatre, Roanoke, Virginia, September 2017
* Semi-finalist in “Shakespeare’s new Contemporaries,” American Shakespeare Center, Staunton, Virginia, 2018.
THIS SUN OF YORK
A modern re-write of Shakespeare’s “Richard III.” In this version, the Yorks and the Lancasters are battling for control of the family newspaper, The Sun. As in Shakespeare’s version, the Yorks have triumphed. Here, Edward is publisher, not king, and his younger brother Richard is the newspaper’s lawyer, who has little to do but plot how he intends to take over. The plot follows the one laid out by Shakespeare: Richard has the middle brother, George, killed — only this time it’s in a barrel of ink, not a barrel of wine. More murders follow and eventually Richard is installed as publisher, though not for long. The showdown with his rival, the distant cousin Henry Tudor, plays not out in a military battle on Bosworth Field, but a fight with golf clubs at Bosworth Country Club. Cast: Flexible, but best version is a cast of 23-25 — 9-11 males, 5 female, 9 non-gender.
SWEETS TO THE SWEET (The Female Hamlette)
This is the female version of Hamlet. It’s the basic Hamlet story, transported to a modern setting and with all the genders reversed. So Hamlet becomes Hamlette, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern become Rosie and Gilda, Claudius becomes Claudia, and so forth. Instead of being set in a castle in Denmark, this version is set in a suburban home — and opens at a slumber party instead of the nightwatch. And, of course, it’s told in modern language. Otherwise, everything’s here — the skull, the gravediggers, the poisoned swords, the climactic sword fight. And, because the genders are reversed, this script gives women a rare opportunity for a swordfight on stage. If you’ve ever wanted to stage Hamlet, but didn’t think the cast or audience would get the language, or that you didn’t have enough men, here’s the solution. Cast size can range anywhere from 13 to 20, depending on doubling. If 13 — 11 female, 2 male. Or the cast can be expanded up to 20 — 13 female, 6 male, 1 non-gender.
* Produced by Gorilla Tango Theatre, Skokie, Illinois, September 2013.
THE TALKING BUZZARD
In a small town in Texas, everyone is seeing their dream die before their eyes. The baseball player’s career is washed up. The pageant contestant can’t win a pageant. The newspaper editor is seeing his paper’s circulation dwindle. A talking buzzard who feasts on dead dreams waits for the inevitable. Then aliens show up and comedy and big explosions ensue. Cast: Nine – three males, four females (one senior, one 20s, two teens) and two non-gender best as males.
THE TASTE TESTER
A comedy with a message, and echoes of Shakespeare, set in Renaissance Italy. A shipwreck on a deserted island leaves only three survivors — two young children and a forgetful woman who thinks she is their servant. The girl, Antoinette, grows up to be a pirate, the boy, Tristan, grows up to be a poet, and all are eventually rescued. But now the brother is thrown into the duke’s prison for writing an offensive poem and the sword-wielding pirate-sister is determined to rescue him. She disguises herself as a man and takes a job as the royal taste-tester in order to get close enough to free him. She finds that everyone in the palace is in the wrong job — the court herald doesn’t like to speak in public, the court poet can’t rhyme, the chef can’t cook, and so forth — though each has some other talent. The play ends with a dramatic sword fight — between a man dressed as a woman and a woman dressed as a man — and the discovery that Antoinette is the true heir to the duchy, and the forgetful servant is really her mother. Antoinette’s first act upon taking office is to put everyone in the proper job. The message, of course, is that everyone has some hidden talent. Plus, a nice sword-fighting scene and some strong roles for women. Cast: 18 — 4 female, 6 male, 8 non-gender.
* Staged reading via Zoom, 57 Hours Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, with a cast from the U.S., Australia and Canada, April 15, 2020.
39 HOURS IN THE SOVIET CITY OF ROSES
A dark look at what happened in the city next to the Chernobyl plant after the accident in 1986. It took 39 hours to evacuate the city. Most of the weekend, people went about their business, unaware they were being showered with radioactivity. Cast: At least 10 — 3 females, 3 children or teens of either gender, at least 4 males; number of males can be expanded up to 20 depending on how you feel about doubling.
* Staged reading at Poetic Theater, New York, NY, February 2015.
ON THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS
A wild, action-packed Christmas farce. A young woman suddenly finds herself receiving the gifts from the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” apparently from an unknown suitor. The play begins on the thirteenth day as she copes with the chaos outside her apartment, as neighbors demand she do something about the noisy birds and pipers and drummers. The woman hatches a plan to shoot the birds and organize the people into an impromptu Christmas parade. Chaos ensues. Cast: 13 — 7f, 3m, 3 non-gender.
* Produced by Santiam High School, Mill City, Oregon, December 2013.
* Produced by First Avenue Playhouse, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, December 2015.
* Produced by Fountain Theater, Fountain, Colorado, December 2018.
A quirky love story, of sorts. The North Star has abandoned his post in the sky, tired of all the pressure. He just wants to have fun. He is pursued by three Arctic mermaids, guardians of the northern realms, who want to persuade him to return to the sky. They pop up in the backyard hockey rink of a teenage girl in rural Manitoba and persuade her, however reluctantly, to go after the North Star. After all, mermaids don’t have legs and now that the North Star is inland, they’re unable to do much. The girl agrees, but only because the mermaids promise to leave her backyard hockey rink, which they have punched through. Meanwhile, a neighbor boy has a crush on the girl, which appears to be unrequited. They often play hockey, which always ends with her knocking his teeth out. In the end, the girl and the mermaids devise a plan to persuade the North Star to return to the sky, and it all comes to fruition at a Winnipeg Jets hockey game. Lots of unusual costuming opportunities and physical humor. Cast: Seven – 2 male, 4 female, 1 non-gender.
* Staged reading via Zoom, 57 Hours Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, with a cast from Ontario, Canada, May 2, 2020.
Imagine a factory town after the factory has closed. Now imagine it’s Mount Olympus and it’s the ancient gods who are now unemployed. A bleak look at what happens next, with music. Cast: Eleven – 6 males, 5 females. Running time: One hour.
A Southern family is divided over what to do with the family farm when the patriarch retires. The drama focuses on the farmer’s youngest daughter, a waitress and single mom named Virginia, who is eager to subdivide the farm as a way to make her fortune. Her goal is complicated by the prospect
of a new highway going through the neighborhood – and the discovery of Civil War artifacts on the site. The story deals with a variety of universal themes, but also many topical references, from urbanization of rural areas, the preservation of historical sites, and NASCAR. Cast : 11 – 4 adult females, 3 adult males, 4 female children (two teens, two pre-teens), and one off-stage voice which can be either male or female. Set requirements: Minimal, although at various points you’ll need to create some aspects of a
kitchen and a diner.
• Finalist, Shenandoah International Playwrights, Staunton, Va., 2004.
* Produced by Cobb Playhouse, Acworth, Ga., July 2006.
* Staged reading at Attic Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, March 2017.
THE ZONE OF ALIENATION
An absurdist look at the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union, based on actual facts. Two vandals pick through the ruins of a ghost town to find salvage materials to sell; three old women insist on living in the radioactive forest. And two dolls come to life and set off in search of their owners. Dark comedy, and tragedy, ensues. Cast: Eight – three males (one late teens), three senior females, two females (late teens, early 20s.)