Joseph Papp once said that every playwright writes the same play over and over again.
Mr. Papp wasn't entirely wrong, but at the very least I'm doing my damndest to write that same play in different ways every single time, from romance to dystopia to blank verse to absurdism. I'm trying here, Joe, I really am.
Brief summaries of my
sixteen seventeen twenty full-length plays below, in order of first draft.
Excerpts and full scripts available on New Play Exchange and on request.
Three monologues with interruptions
He’s been on an extended, barely-controlled bender ever since she left him, feeling the damage of his ways and a newfound emptiness as 30 approaches.
She’s alone upstate, not quite finding the peace she hoped for in the country, not quite free of the life she started to grow within her.
And as for his old man, well, his cancer’s in remission, but he’s not quite as content as he claims to be, drinking Mellow Corn, teaching in a Pennsylvania nowhere, mostly out of speaking terms with three ex-wives and five children.
In three interconnecting narratives with frequent interruption, these three will deal with the momentary, the eternal, and the singularity of their lives, broken and beautiful.
A series of avoidable events in two acts
Fresh from five years...away...over a little bit of ATM robbery, Mason Wright has reasonable goals (or so he believes): make a mint playing poker, and get his estranged wife Maya back. But is he as good a card player as he thinks? Was Maya trying to tell him something by never visiting or writing? Will his charm run out before his old friends remember the way things usually go with Mason?
There will be damages from Mason's many avoidable mistakes; his daughter, Lex, already has her scars. But whether Mason's going down this time all depends on when he gets out of town.
Scenes from Anthropocenean life
Isla, Nick, and 14-year-old Violet are a makeshift family living in a subterranean home, on a planet that is no longer inhabitable. Their pursuits are normal enough: Nick scavenges the outside world, Isla feeds her thoughts into an artificial consciousness, while Violet gets visitors in the form of ghosts from multiple eras. (Isla and Nick do too, but they're slightly better at compartmentalizing / lying to themselves.)
When the world has run down and no future lies ahead, you take what you can get, and the ghosts do at least make for pleasant company. That is, if they are ghosts at all.
A folie a deux
Emily, a driven if depressive academic, and Alex, a former art mover living a "life of the mind" (until his settlement money runs out), are not meant to be together. They even tried that, once. But a curious mix of loneliness, chemistry, and a gift from a dead man are destined to, well, not bring them together exactly, but...it's hard to explain.
A play with music for one actor
--Performed as a workshop as part of the 2019 Downtown Urban Arts Festival, the Wild Project, New York, NY, May 2019; dir. Christopher Carter Sanderson
He’s a man of a certain age: always single, never alone, his standard expression of existential pain often mistaken for dashing. He has a story to tell, about the only woman who ever interested him as much as himself. And much as the story hurts him to tell, she’s not around to help.
A play in two specially-priced LPs
It’s 1979. Sleight of Hand are a huge, successful band at last, with a hit record, and all the time in the world to record the follow-up. But perfectionism, grandiosity, break-ups, make-ups, and a seemingly unlimited amount of cocaine may tear them apart even as they’re all trapped together, in their very own studio, as 1980 winds down. (Also, the new album’s a double album now.)
Adventures in American electoral politics
Over the course of a bizarre and hotly contested election, Democratic operative Mark Walker has his hands full keeping The Candidate, a Connecticut senator with the force of the party but the indifference of the people, on target, as her very real despair over the very nature of what Democracy requires (as well as the tiny matter of money missing from her charity) begins to build.
The Republican candidate may do nothing but spout and stomp, but under the direction of thoroughly ethically unbound former governor Dominic Fortunato, he does, somehow, have a chance, and thanks to his fourth press secretary, journeywoman Sarah Jane Tyler, he might even have the appearance of a cohesive message. But will Sarah Jane, or what goodness there is in her, survive the unwanted attentions of Dominic, and a campaign designed to win at any cost?
A seaside play in two acts
It's August in Bridgeport, NY, a cute, not terribly expensive town on Long Island's North Fork. Over 24 hours in a curious rented house with bright walls and no locks on the doors, six 30-something friends and one special guest, a 17-year-old townie picked up near the town carousel, will drink too much, take too much of too many drugs, and go through a collective, premature mid-life crisis.
An existential crisis/comedy
--Produced as a workshop as part of American Renaissance Theater Company's WinterWorks 2016, at CAP21, New York, NY, January 2016; dir. Kathleen Swan
At 35, Magda might not quite be where she hoped to be, spending her days in a Carpal Tunnel-inducing temp job and her nights sorta seeing an idiot drummer, eleven years her junior. But when her Greenpoint apartment is invaded by a mysterious, constant, piercing beeping, something all the 311 calls in the world won't get rid of, her ramshackle life, and her sanity, are shaken.
(Recommended for pairing with the curtain-raiser Miranda, Under the Volcano)
A triptych play
Roxy hasn't left her apartment in two and half years, ever since the day her girlfriend died in a plane crash.
D is dying of an autoimmune disorder just as the most amazing beats of his career are spilling out of his mind, and he can't let anyone, even his ex-wife or his son, get in the way.
And as for the Lost, he's already in the shadowland, forgetting how to forget, and hoping for a way out.
A triptych play, After is a magical realistic meditation on the many in-between spaces between life and death.
A play in two acts
--Produced by Sanguine Theater Company at the Chain Theater, Queens, NY, May 2015; dir. Logan Reed
--Winner of Sanguine Theater Company's Project Playwright 2015
Two 16-year-olds meet at an artsy pre-college program, where they flirt, fight, but are ultimately unable to handle the love they stumble into. 16 years and three Facebook messages later, they're face-to-face again, drinking bourbon in a hotel suite, and innocent nostalgia is turning into something far more difficult.
A tragedy in five acts
A divorced hedge fund manager, facing the emptiness of his own life and the marriage of his rock star best friend to the only woman he almost loved, will make deception an art as he tears their love and their lives apart. Inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello, and written in modern blank verse.
A dystopian fantasy in two acts
Set in the autocratic Independent Republic of Soteria (West Soteria), Aura is the story of the Telifan family: two parents, two children (down from three, due to the middle child taking “happy fire” during military service), living in a prefab box with doors that lock at curfew, and a console broadcasting state news that can never be turned off; as the need for survival and the need for something more drives them all, neither the family nor Soteria will survive.
A baseball vaudeville in two acts
Two college friends and Red Sox fans, three years removed from school and golden boys no more, find (and often lose) genuine love, employment, artistic inspiration, exceedingly cheap whiskey, Internet fame, and something close to enough to maturity, over the backdrop of the 2007 championship season.
A memory play
Tuesday and Sky Baker, a troubled poet and a recovering alcoholic, are brother and sister survivors of the brutal commune known as The Meadow, forced together again after Tuesday overdoses on Ambien after 13 nights without sleep. Sky is trying to pull Tuesday out of the darkness of their past, but in the process, will Tuesday bring Sky back to The Meadow, and out of his own mind?
A play in two acts
Dan “Cannon” Samuels is a ranked but un-reputed heavyweight, with a second-rate manager and a marriage collapsed into open infidelity, but a surprise shot at the title, and a new, unorthodox trainer will give him the chance to be the fighter he was always meant to be. The question is whether winning the title the hard part, or is it not losing everything else in the process?
A comic requiem in four acts
The fears, jealousies, sexual confusions, mushroom-induced delusions, and problems (substance abuse-related and otherwise) of a group of Yale graduates explode as they party hard and hold tightly to their last summer in New Haven, in a modern Chekhovian comedy where every act is a different party, ticking closer to that much-delayed time: the time to let go.
--Produced as part of Manhattan Repertory Theatre's WinterFest, February 2007, New York, NY; dir. Constance Thackaberry
Amelia, a self-serious grad student, and Jack, a painter incapable of keeping a day job, are deeply in love, but when Jack loses his apartment and moves in with Amelia, one way or another the young couple’s relationship must change, and young love makes young mistakes.
A play with comedy and music in two acts
--Produced by Love Creek Productions at the Directors' Club, August 2006, New York, NY; dir. Erin Smiley
Bob is the most brilliant songwriter alive, and his hit song, a 30-second piece that brings listeners to near-orgasm, is everywhere, but there are problems: his lead guitarist and bassist won’t end their destructive on-again, off-again relationship, sure, but even more pressing than that, or Bob’s addiction to dust (the substance itself, not a drug by another name) is that Bob is a robot, and “robot rock” is considered the most dangerous substance of all.
A tragicomedy in three acts
On December 11, 2001, two months after the attacks, three men wait at 8th Street for a subway train /
With the help of an interloper (a homeless kid named Wonderboy who has the ability to read minds) they all go insane.
An absurdist tragicomedy beyond politics.