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Little Theatre of Norfolk in Norfolk, Virginia hosted a Zoom reading of my play RED MOON RISING IN THE EAST on May 13, 2020. This is a one-man play based on the story of Sergei Korolev, the father of the Soviet space program. He was a force of nature who almost single-handedly willed the Soviets into space, battling both the odds and his own government. However, his name was a state secret in the Soviet Union so he’s still little-known in the West, even though all the big firsts — the first satellite, the first satellite to the moon, the first man in space, the first woman in space — were all his doing. Bill Armstrong performed this role in 2009 at 40th Street Stage in Norfolk, then again in 2010 at The Venue in Norfolk. Here he is again.
Here’s a link to previous productions of this show.
Bonus: At the end of this video is a Q&A with with actor and playwright.
New York actress Miranda Jonte is riding out the pandemic in Houston, where she’s performing virtually over Facebook as Back Porch Theater. Here she is on May 9 performing two of my pieces, LADY MACBETH’S LAMENT and DELICACIES.
Best of all are her descriptions of my work: “Quirky, knowing . . . dark and droll . . . dark and funny.” Those are the best blurbs of all time!
Four years ago — in 2016 — Emily Clark directed my one-act CATCH OF THE DAY at Michigan State University. Out of the blue, I got an email from her recently. She and several others had put together OnLive Theatre and were planning r a virtual theatre camp for kids. I sent her some and she wound up picking my CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT. On May 9, it was produced virtually over Zoom with a cast of nine kids, who probably ranged from 10 to 16, a little unclear on that. It was a remarkable performance. All the kids were rehearsed virtually and had to costume themselves with whatever they could find at home. It was a really creative performance that shows just how much can be done virtually.
Phoenix Tears Productions in Orlando, Florida produced my 10-minute play CHEF PIERRE DOES NOT DO SIMPLE as a livestreamed video on May 5 as part of an evening of other livestreamed shows.
That’s Kira Silverman as Chef Pierre, Madison Payne as the producer and Shayna Leigh Silverman as the other TV person who comes in near the end.
On May 2, I held a reading via Zoom of TRUE NORTH with an all-Canadian cast. Here ’tis.
Stage directions: Robin Bennett (Guelph, Ontario)
Aurora: Ella Kennedy (Hamilton, Ontario)
Gordo: Shawn Vincent (Kitchener, Ontario)
Canadian Translator: Arlene Thomas (Kitchener, Ontario)
Ursula: Emily K. Bolyea-Kyere (Hamilton, Ontario)
Vursula: Samantha Devries (Beamsville, Ontario)
Wursula: Sundance Nagrial (Toronto, Ontario)
North Star: Mason Micevski (Hamilton, Ontario)
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.
On April 15 I held a reading of THE TASTE TESTER via Zoom, with an international cast from three countries and seven U.S. states. We stretched from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada to Melbourne, Australia — and had someone in every American time zone.
Zoom host: Stephen Glassbrenner
Stage directions: Beverly Amsler (Roanoke, Virginia)
Antoinette: Kate Cash (Kansas City, Missouri)
Malvina: Katerina Yancey (Fincastle, Virginia)
Johanna: Cheryl Carter (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Fernando: Bill Armstrong (Norfolk, Virginia)
Herald: Ron Ford (Spokane, Washington)
Geraldo: Scott Cooper (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
Angelo: Gary Reid (Roanoke, Virginia)
Duke: John Jennings (Melbourne, Australia)
Lorenzo: Will Walker Montgomery (Paris, Texas)
Tristan: James Brunt (Denver, Colorado)
Sally: Beth Brackett (Shepherdstown, West Virginia)
Court poet: Kelly Hoagland (Bonsack, Virginia)
Jester: William Joppich (Copper HIll, Virginia)
Sommelier: Carolyn Ziegler (Roanoke, Virginia)
Celestia: Nancy Lawrence (Roanoke, Virginia)
Guard One: Tim Wood (Bogata, Texas)
Guard Two: Barry Carter (Corsicana, Texas)
Artist: Danniele Ashee Seanor (Charleroi, Pennsylvania)
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.
Like lots of others quarantined by the pandemic, I held a staged reading over Zoom on April 8 for RIKKI THE THIRD — my modern re-write of Shakespeare’s Richard III, with genders reversed and set in a modern high school where Rikki is scheming to become homecoming queen.
Here’s the result. You’ll hear some babies crying and dogs barking, but we live and learn.
The script is written for 12, with massive doubling, but I had so many people who wanted to take part that I undoubled everything and wound up with a cast of 26 plus a 27th person reading stage directions. We wound up with an international cast from three countries — the U.S., Canada and Australia. And those U.S. participants included people from six states — Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. This is amazing technology.
Stage directions: Bill Armstrong (Norfolk, Virginia)
Richelle: Mayalin Quinones (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Summer: Heather Sexton (Roanoke, Virginia)
Georgia: Erika Degraffinreaidt (New York, New York)
Principal: Lydia Gladstone (New York, New York)
River: Michelle Drinnan (Melbourne, Australia)
Grey: Kerry Plank (Christiansburg, Virginia)
Bucky: Beverly Amsler (Roanoke, Virginia)
Stana: Johanna Cooper (Richmond, Virginia)
Edie: Cadie Burks (Roanoke, Virginia)
Rachel: Kaiya Hoagland (Bonsack, Virginia)
Harriet: Arlene Thomas (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)
Student One: Emily K. Boyhea-Kyere (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
Student Two: Carolyn Ziegler (Roanoke, Virginia)
Student Three: Sherilyn Lawson (Roanoke, Virginia)
Student Four: Beth Brackett (Shepherdstown, West Virginia)
Senior One: Kate Cash (Kansas City, Missouri)
Senior Two: Cheryl Carter (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Junior One: Darlene Fedele Thompson (Sarver, Pennsylvania)
Junior Two: Laura Dial Risinger (Paris, Texas)
Sophomore One: Sharon Reynolds (Roanoke, Virginia)
Sophomore Two: Dannielle Ashlee Seanor (Charleroi, Pennsylvania)
Player One: Mason Micevski (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Player Two: Dylan Kennedy Grey (Bedford, Virginia)
Andy Warwick: Matthew Carcassi (Melbourne, Australia)
Bad Boy One: Brian Lee (Roanoke, Virginia)
Bad Boy Two: Chad Snyder (Roanoke, Virginia)