Posts Tagged klaus

“Klaus” called “a dark and dizzying journey”

“A dark and dizzying journey.”

That’s how producer Rose Bonczek — who teaches at Brooklyn College — describes KLAUS, my full-length Christmas play that had a staged reading in New York on December 2, under the direction of Christopher Thomasson.

She further tells me via e-mail: “I wanted to let you know that last night’s reading was terrific – Christopher put together a brilliant cast, mostly Gi60 company members, but several colleagues who he knows from Santaland (perfect!). Jay Nickerson as Klaus, and Jonathan Hadley as the headmaster were particularly brilliant – though Helen Huff as Mary was a delight, and the three young men were balanced wonderfully, with sharp and distinct characters. The fellow who played Grinchley should simply be guaranteed that role for life.”

Here’s a link to the poster.

And here’s the synopsis:

KLAUS: How it all began
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.

This was the second staged reading for the script; the first was in Roanoke in December 2012. Here’s a set of links to photos and such from that reading.

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Poster for staged reading of “Klaus” in New York

Poster for KLAUS.

Poster for KLAUS.

Here’s the poster for my full-length Christmas play, KLAUS, which will have a staged reading in New York on December 2.

More details and background here.

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“Klaus” to have staged reading in New York City in December

My full-length script that imagines an origin story for Santa Claus — KLAUS — will have a staged reading in New York on December 2, exact venue and such still TBA.

This is through the auspices of Gi60 — the annual “Gone in 60 Seconds” Festival of one-minute plays that takes place each summer in New York, with a counterpart in Great Britain. I’ve been fortunate to have had my short work done there for several years. Now, the Gi60 folks are using their “off-season” to feature longer scripts by some of the Gi60 writers.

KLAUS: How it all began
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.

This will be the second staged reading for KLAUS. The first was in 2012 in Roanoke, Virginia, through Hollins University.

Here’s video from that reading and also some other links:

* Background on the show
* Photos from first day of rehearsal
* Photos from second day of rehearsal
* Photos from third day of rehearsal
* Photos from the staged reading of “Klaus”

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“Sweets to the Sweet” to be produced in Chicago in September

The Gorilla Tango Theatre in Chicago will produce my full-length script “Sweets to the Sweet” in September at its Skokie theatre in the Windy City’s suburbs.

If the name of the show sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from Shakespeare. Specifically, Hamlet.

This is my re-telling of the tale — cast in the modern-day, and with the genders reversed.

Or, as my synopsis says:

SWEETS TO THE SWEET
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.

Gorilla Tango reduces that to this on its website:

Lies. Murder. Sword fights. After her mother’s untimely death and her father’s remarriage to the murderer, Hamlette is looking for vengeance in this modern retelling, gender reversed version of Shakespeare’s classic tale.

Show dates are Sept. 7-8 and 14-15.

This will be done with a teen cast, which is how I envisioned the show — as something for high schools or community theatres with youth ensembles.

This will be the fifth full-length script I’ve had produced.

The others are:

* “An Old Story for New Times,” by Attic Productions, Fincastle, Virginia, November 2004.
* “Virginia’s Real,” by Cobb County Playhouse, Acworth, Georgia, July 2006.
* “Red Moon Rising in the East,” by Alley Stage, Mineral Point, Wisconsin (July 2009); 40th Street Playhouse, Norfolk, Virginia (July 2009), The Venue, Norfolk, Virginia (February 2010), and Duluth Playhouse, Duluth, Minnesota (November 2010.) You can find coverage of the Duluth show here and the Norfolk show here.)
* “57 Hours in the House of Culture,” by Studio Roanoke, Roanoke, Virginia, May 2012. (You can find video and photos starting here.)

I’ve had a staged reading of another full-length script, “Klaus,” by the Hollins University Playwright’s Lab, in December 2012 in Roanoke, Virginia, and a reading of “The Ballad of Alejandro Lopez” scheduled in June in New York by the Barefoot Theatre Company. You can find video and photos from “Klaus” here.

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Video: Staged reading of “Klaus” by Hollins Playwright’s Lab

“Klaus” is my Christmas play about the origin of Santa Claus. There’s no standard myth on where the Jolly Old Elf came from, so I invented one. In my telling, his origin dates to Great Britain in the 1740s, at a time of political unrest. The German-born Hanoverian kings (George II, in this case) were on the throne, and many Germans were coming into the country to seek their fortune. This kindled talk of rebellion among those who still believed the ousted House of Stuart was the rightful royal family.

In “Klaus,” a debt-ridden English college imports a German professor of natural philosophy (physics, we call it now) in hopes of currying favor with the king, and perhaps getting a royal bequest or two. Professor Klaus turns out to be an eccentric sort, dabbling in strange experiments with time travel.

By the show’s end, he has turned into the Santa Claus we know today, and everything about him is explained — the red suit, the reindeer, the love of milk and cookies, his residence at the North Pole, even Mrs. Claus.

“Klaus” was supposed to be the Christmas show at Studio Roanoke, a black box theatre in Roanoke, Va., specializing in new works. Alas, it closed in mid-summer. Fortunately, the Hollins Playwright’s Lab picked up the show — not for a full production but at least for a very well-rehearsed staged reading. Director Cheryl Snodgrass came in from Chicago to oversee things and we had an all-star cast for the reading on December 16. We also had a fantastic crowd; program director Todd Ristau said it was four times larger than had shown up for any previous reading in the series.

I had some trouble with the video camera. The video of act 1 (above) cuts off the introductory remarks and the first few lines. The video of act 2 (below) didn’t start until after the first scene had concluded. And the audio is poor. But you’ll get the idea. I hope to make a few changes to the script based on this reading and then send it out to publishers and theatres.

Klaus: Brian O’Sullivan
Robert, a college student: Kevin McAlexander
Percy, a college student: Blair Peyton
James, a college student: Will Coleman
Mary the landlady: Martha Boswell
Headmaster: Ross Laguzza
Grinchley, the headmaster’s assistant: Drew Dowdy

Director: Cheryl Snodgrass
Stage manager: Melissa Kennedy

* Background on the show
* Photos from first day of rehearsal
* Photos from second day of rehearsal
* Photos from third day of rehearsal
* Photos from the staged reading of “Klaus”

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Photos from Saturday’s rehearsal for “Klaus”

The staged reading of “Klaus,” my Christmas show about the origins of Santa Claus, continues to take shape. .

The reading is Sunday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at the June M. McBroom Theatre at Community High School in Roanoke, Va.; the reading is put on by the Hollins Playwright’s’ Lab.

Earlier, I posted photos from Thursday’s rehearsal and Friday’s rehearsal. Here are some photos from Saturday’s rehearsal, which emphasis on Brian O’Sullivan, who plays the titular role of Professor Klaus, a mysterious German physics professor who shows up at a failing British college in the 1740s and sets tongues wagging with his strange ideas.

Klaus (played by Brian O'Sullivan) jokes about his girth to the class he's teaching at a woebegone British college in the 1700s.

Klaus (played by Brian O’Sullivan) jokes about his girth to the class he’s teaching at a woebegone British college in the 1700s.

Klaus enjoys teaching natural philosophy (as physics was called in those days), but his students -- played by Kevin McAlexander, Blair Peyton and Will Coleman -- are less amused.

Klaus enjoys teaching natural philosophy (as physics was called in those days), but his students — played by Kevin McAlexander, Blair Peyton and Will Coleman — are less amused.

Klaus with his students again. I believe this is the scene where many of them (especially Percy, played by Blair, in the center) have shown up with hangovers. Either that, or it's a scene in the ale-house where the students spend much of their time.

Klaus with his students again. I believe this is the scene where many of them (especially Percy, played by Blair, in the center) have shown up with hangovers. Either that, or it’s a scene in the ale-house where the students spend much of their time.

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Photos from second rehearsal for staged reading of “Klaus”

Most staged readings only get a few hours rehearsal. For Sunday night’s reading of “Klaus,” my darkly comic show about the origin of Santa Claus, the Hollins Playwright’s Lab has arranged for four days worth of rehearsal — and brought in Chicago director Cheryl Snodgrass to helm the proceedings.

Here are some photos from Friday night’s second rehearsal, on the June M. McBroom Theatre stage at Community High School in Roanoke, Va.:

The show has a strong science fiction element to it. Here, Mary the landlady (Martha Boswell) stares up to discover all her cutlery is stuck to the ceiling. Professor Klaus (Brian O'Sullivan) is overjoyed at the success of his experiment with magnetism.

The show has a strong science fiction element to it. Here, Mary the landlady (Martha Boswell) stares up to discover all her cutlery is stuck to the ceiling. Professor Klaus (Brian O’Sullivan) is overjoyed at the success of his experiment with magnetism.

"Klaus" is heavy on special effects, which are hard to do in a staged reading. So stage manager Melissa Kennedy will be onstage handling many of the sound effects, much like the narrator in a radio play.

“Klaus” is heavy on special effects, which are hard to do in a staged reading. So stage manager Melissa Kennedy will be onstage handling many of the sound effects, much like the narrator in a radio play.

Professor Klaus (Brian O'Sullivan) ventures out into the audience to deliver toys to children. Well, you'll have to imagine the toys. But he's made them himself in his workshop.

Professor Klaus (Brian O’Sullivan) ventures out into the audience to deliver toys to children. Well, you’ll have to imagine the toys. But he’s made them himself in his workshop.

Here's another special effect you'll have to imagine. Will Coleman, playing a college student in the 1700s, carries a torch in the climactic scene. That's one of his fellow classmates, played by Kevin McAlexander, at left.

Here’s another special effect you’ll have to imagine. Will Coleman, playing a college student in the 1700s, carries a torch in the climactic scene. That’s one of his fellow classmates, played by Kevin McAlexander, at left, and stage manager Melissa Kennedy in the background.

Director Cheryl Snodgrass.

Director Cheryl Snodgrass.

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