Plays

Welcome Books Plays Contact

> BH-Home > Writing > Plays

VOYAGER (full length)

Trapped in a confined space and at odds, four contentious characters confront one another. Just before a storm cuts their contact with the outside world, the radio reports the apparent interception of one of the Voyager spacecraft—and of a message from its interceptors. For each of the characters, the event has profound implications...and consequences.

 synopsis and script sample

 

MOTHER’S DAY (full length)

While on vacation, an American couple in a troubled marriage stumbles into a blood-curdling encounter in a Latin American village rife with drugs and violence. Not only is their marriage in danger; so are their lives.

synopsis and script sample

 

THE GRAVITY OF LOVE (full length)

An ageing father and young son seem unable to resolve their differences. Into their lives comes an enigmatic stranger who inadvertently, and through misadventure, transforms their lives.

 synopsis and script sample

 

SHAMAN (full length with music)

In this dark comedy, innocence confronts ambiguous Reality. A young boy, estranged from his dysfunctional family, undertakes a perilous Vision Quest to the fanciful, nether realm of the feckless Ancestors—they who created us and the world as we know it. Will he survive his ordeals? Can he find his way back to Bronxville, New York?

 synopsis, about the composer, script sample, and music sample (coming soon)

 

CHILD’S PLAY (one act)

A twin brother and sister reunite for their 50th birthday after years of tense separation. They bring strongly different agendas to their meeting, but as they try to sort them out, something of far greater import emerges—a long-hidden issue from their childhood.

 synopsis and script sample

 

A STRIKING OCCURRENCE (short)

In a frank homage to Eugene Ionesco, absurd, homicidal mayhem breaks out in a library where a mother and son are researching the sinking of the Titanic.

 synopsis and script sample

 

THE NEWS HOUR (short)

Two couples, best friends, get together because one of the couples has important news to share. The sharing reveals a secret with the potential to break one couple apart, while at the same time bringing the other closer together.

synopsis and script sample

 

DÉJA VU (short)

A long-since divorced couple find themselves sharing a motel room to change clothes before a wedding. Reminiscences of their past together and updates on their present lives make a bittersweet mix of nostalgia and seduction.

 synopsis and script sample

 

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (short)

Two lonely singles, living in the same apartment building, are brought together--with the unlikely help of a dead rat.

 synopsis and script sample

 

IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? (monologue)

Desperate to find Mister Right, a young woman decides to make a home video for a dating service. She comes off as shy, other-worldly, strange and even flaky. But is she really?

synopsis and full script

 

VOYAGER
(synopsis)

PETER TCHELECHEFF, an astrophysicist at NASA, wants his West Indian fiancée, ELISSA, to marry him. They’ve been together for a long time, and she’s recently pregnant with his child. ELISSA, however, is reluctant; PETER is obsessed with outer space and thanks to both his work and his upbringing, seemingly insensitive to basic human emotions. LILLI, PETER’s overbearing mother and an internationally renowned concert pianist, paid little attention to him as a child. She has never forgiven him for turning his back on his own musical gifts in favor of pursuing space fantasies. He has never forgiven her for her neglect and disdain. His marrying a Black wife will, he knows, elicit her further disapproval.

As the play opens, ELISSA has, with great ambivalence, agreed to their union. PETER is set on having the marriage take place 60 feet under the waters off Key West, where he is to spend three months testing a habitat with possible applications for use on the moon. Besides making their marriage a unique event, the location will mean there’s no way his fractious mother will want to attend. It’s far from what ELISSA had in mind, but she goes along with the plan.

Events conspire. LILLI insists not only on coming, but bringing along her rebellious protégé, RICK, who is chaffing under LILLI’s iron discipline. The four of them find themselves uneasily confined together in a small space beneath the sea. A violent storm cuts off their communication with the world above, but just before the habitat loses contact, the radio brings them an astounding news flash: the apparent interception of one of the two, deep-space Voyager spacecraft NASA launched in the 1970s—its interception and what seems a message, in music, from its alien interceptors. The ramifications of such an event affect each of the habitat’s occupants differently but profoundly, drastically altering their perceptions, philosophies and relationships.

But the news of Voyager’s interception is revealed as a hoax, carefully crafted by PETER to produce just such transformations in perspective, even if only for a moment in time. What he failed to foresee were the consequences of his clever deception. The outcomes are neither what he imagined they would be, nor what he wanted. There is no way, however, to undo what he has done.

What grand visions are worth our pursuit at the expense of all else? What do we stand to sacrifice while pursuing them? Are simple, human emotions expendable in the service of our beliefs in greater causes? These are questions that lurk beneath the surface of Voyager.

[120 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

PETER TCHELECHEFF                 An astrophysicist at NASA; early 40s. 

ELISSA                                               PETER’s fiancée; mid-30s

LILLI TCHELECHEFF                      PETER’s mother; mid-70s.

RICK                                                    LILLI’s protégé; late 20s.

 

SETTING

PETER’s office at NASA;

An underwater habitat

 

TIME

The near future

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

MOTHER'S DAY
(synopsis)

 In a small Latin American village, a middle-aged couple from Michigan fall afoul of local customs, their own backgrounds, and the secrets they have long withheld from one another. The future of their marriage seems shaky, and, for a time, it seems doubtful that they will even live to tell the tale of their first vacation outside the United States.

STANLEY PUSIO, just forced into early retirement, is bitter and defensive. With his self-esteem at an all-time low, he has become unpleasant and overbearing with his wife, DOROTHY. She, for her part, is acting motherly towards him, which STANLEY resents. The central question arises: After a long but childless marriage, will the two of them have a future together once they get home?

On the last night of their quarrelsome vacation, STAN and DOT find themselves marooned in the village of Santa Marta. The village runs on drugs. When, soon after their arrival, STAN encounters JORGE, the village’s young, brash, drug dealer, the two men take an instant dislike to one another.

STAN’s collisions with JORGE escalate. A point of no return occurs when STAN, his bravado fueled by liquor, takes to the microphone on the bandstand in the crowded square and, belittling JORGE’s virility, subjects him to public humiliation. JORGE swears revenge.

In the early hours of the morning, JORGE and his drug-addicted young cousin, RAUL, break into STAN’s and DOT’s bedroom and hold them at knife point. In a vicious, mock-classroom session, JORGE instructs the terrified couple on matters of respect and truthfulness. He forces both STAN and DOT into confessions of past transgressions they have withheld from one another. Intent on humiliating STAN to the utmost, JORGE intends to force him to witness RAUL’s first sexual experience with a woman—that woman being DOT, herself. The consummation of the act is only narrowly averted. STAN and DOT, humbled and exhausted, are left desperately clinging to one another—desperately and forgivingly.

Later that morning, one final, violent confrontation between STAN and Jorge seems imminent and inevitable—but STAN has changed. Seizing an unforeseen opportunity, STAN saves the day. He and DOT head homewards, towards what could be a different, brighter future.

 [114 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

STANLEY PUSIO                                         A middle-aged American tourist

DOROTHY PUSIO                                        Stan’s wife

JORGE                                                           A drug dealer; about 30

MANUEL                                                        The owner of a café/bar

RAUL                                                              Jorge’s cousin; about 20     

ESTRELLA                                                    Jorge’s girlfriend; about 20

EMCEE                                                          Male; any age; (can double with Julio)

JULIO                                                             A bartender

 

SETTING

A café/bar on the plaza of a Latin-American town

A bedroom on the second floor

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click  here

back to plays

 

THE GRAVITY OF LOVE
(synopsis)

JASON SWIFT, 80, is a widely-respected scholar of Tennyson and the English Romantics. He is also the father of a 12-year-old son, JAMIE. JASON feels an inadequate father; JAMIE is a disturbed boy, prone to self-injury and disciplinary problems at school. As the play opens, JAMIE returns from school with yet another summons for his father from the Principal. JASON, at the end of his tether, resolves to send JAMIE away to private school. JAMIE interprets his father’s decision as rejection and a lack of love.

JASON, through the Internet, has long been corresponding with a fellow Tennyson scholar named FREDERICK LOWRIE, a professor at an insignificant college, who claims to have met JASON at some previous time. He now wants JASON to do the introduction for a book he’s written. JASON is reluctant, but has invited LOWRIE to visit.

The day of LOWRIE’s arrival coincides with opening day of the village’s newly-sanctioned bow-hunting season for deer—a source of hot contention between the SWIFTS and neighbor, JACK SONDBERG. Young JAMIE is beside himself. He feels a special kinship with the deer.

LOWRIE arrives—and turns out to be a woman. She is DOROTHEA LOWRIE and has assumed a male identity on the Internet to avoid the anti-female bias in Academia. JASON is infuriated by her deception. THEA claims, moreover, to have had JASON as her doctoral-thesis advisor long ago. JASON does not remember her and is both puzzled and suspicious. Meanwhile, THEA is gaining JAMIE’s trust and confidence.

JASON, unearthing an obscure journal article, confronts THEA with plagiarism. The truth comes out: THEA was, indeed, “Frederick” at college, but afterwards became transgendered. JASON refuses to have anything to do with THEA’s book. As she and JASON face each other in a heated confrontation over honesty, courage and honor, JAMIE senses his favorite buck, whom he’s named Roland, has been killed. Making off with a shotgun and two shells, he heads into the woods for revenge. JASON discovers JAMIE and the gun missing. THEA goes after the boy. Two shots are heard. They return from the woods, THEA wounded.

JAMIE is frightened and chastened by what he has brought about. JASON is profoundly grateful to THEA—a gratitude which THEA gently uses to blackmail him into writing the introduction she needs. JASON, for his part, recants on his decision to send his son away: However it turns out, he’ll go on struggling to be the best father he can.

[111 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

JASON SWIFT                                              Professor Emeritus; 80s

JAMIE SWIFT                                                Jason’s son; 12

THEA LOWRIE                                             former student of Jason’s; middle aged

JACK SONDBERG                                      Jason’s neighbor; middle aged

 

SETTING

Open-plan living room and kitchen, with visible back porch.

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click  here

back to plays

 

SHAMAN (a play with music)
(synopsis)

SILA, our hero in this musical, dark comedy in two acts, is a mystical, 13-year-old boy—the afterthought child in a dysfunctional family in Bronxville, New York. It is SILA’s future, and ultimately his survival itself, that are at stake here.

But all is not as it seems. This family, and indeed all of our present-day reality, is the fabrication of The Ancestors, who inhabit a Lower World. There, at the timeless time of Creation, SINGER, BUILDER and DREAMER set about creating an Upper World of harmony and delight for their amusement. Alas, there was another Ancestor as well, TRICKSTER, who slyly threw monkey wrenches into the others’ plans.

The Upper and Lower worlds are converging on a collision course, and SILA finds himself unable to escape the impending crash. Fortunately, there is one member of the Bronxville household to help him: the family’s factotum, Igjugarjuk, known as IGGY. IGGY is an Inuit shaman, rejected by his own people for what they considered his incompetence. He is SILA’s mentor and friend as SILA unwillingly embarks on a Vision Quest from Bronxville to the Lower World of The Ancestors. It is a risky journey of self-realization that could cost him his life. 

There’s many a twist and turn in the action, both in the Lower and Upper worlds, as a richly varied cast of characters lock horns over getting what they want. There’s guile and greed, deception and despair, seduction and suicide.

And then there’s SILA’s innocence:  Is it enough to carry him safely through his perilous journey?

[126 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

THE LOWER WORLD, in Dreamtime:

             SINGER, a ditzy, bird-like Ancestor—sings all things into Creation.

             BUILDER, an earnest, beaver-like Ancestor—assembles the pieces of Creation

             DREAMER, a laid-back, dormouse-like Ancestor—dreams the future.

             TRICKSTER, a wily, coyote-like Ancestor— upsets everything.

             PINGA, a young, black, female Ancestor—half human and horny.

THE UPPER WORLD, present day:

             THE MOTHER                       voice off

             GORDON                               the mother’s gay son; 40s.

             DORA                                     the mother’s bitchy daughter; 30s

             SILA                                        the mother’s innocent son; about 13.

             LUKE                                      Dora’s ne’r-do-well husband; 30s.

             IGJUGARJUK (“IGGY”)         an Inuit shaman; 70s.

(The following roles could be doubled: TRICKSTER, SINGER, BUILDER with LUKE, DORA, GORDON)

The action alternates between the two times and places.

 

SETTING

THE LOWER WORLD:

A timeless, fanciful, outdoor place.

THE UPPER WORLD:

The living room of an affluent, suburban home;

SILA’s bedroom.

 

TIME

Present day in the Upper World, timeless in the Lower.

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

ABOUT THE MUSIC’S COMPOSER

 DAVID TORRETTA (composer) has for many years performed and written for St. Louis’s long-lived and widely-acclaimed band, “Fairchild.” In 1992, his work earned him the Best Songwriter Award from the Riverfront Times.

 David, in addition to being a composer, is also a musician, a producer, and a sound engineer. He has produced a wide range of musical artists in a variety of fields—Latin, gospel, blues, opera, theater, classical and classical Indian. His original compositions have aired on network television, and his numerous commercials have garnered him a full array of awards—including the Telly, the Addy and the Marconi.

 David’s formal training took place at the St. Louis Institute of Music and The Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass. He is a member of BMI (Nashville).

back to plays

 

CHILD’S PLAY
(synopsis)

Twins—ALEX and his sister, LEXI—reunite on their 50th birthday after years of awkward separation. ALEX, disabled with emphysema, lives in Carmel with his young girlfriend, SAMANTHA, who is pregnant with his child. LEXI has flown cross-country from Vermont, where she lives a commune-type life under the guidance of a Chinese doctor, who is also her lover.

LEXI’s motives for the sudden reunion are unclear. The occasion of their 50th birthday, in itself, seems insufficient. She expresses concern for ALEX’s failing health and wants him to come to Burlington to be treated by her doctor-lover. Disdainful of SAMANTHA, she worries about the future of his unborn child. And she wants the both of them to make peace with their estranged mother, who is in an Eastern nursing home. ALEX, for his part, wants nothing more than to be left alone, living out the rest of his life writing and, as he puts it, “cleaning his slate” before he dies.

But beneath the surface of their lives, there lies an issue from their childhood that has plagued LEXI’s entire adult life. When it emerges during their reunion, the twins have to confront sin, innocence, blame and forgiveness.

[43 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

LEXI                                                                50 years old

ALEX                                                              her twin brother

SAMANTHA                                                  ALEX’s girlfriend; in her 20s

 

SETTING

ALEX’s living room in Carmel

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

A STRIKING OCCURENCE (Homage to Eugene Ionesco)
(synopsis)

 In this unabashed nod to the Theater of the Absurd, a WOMAN and BOY research old microfiche accounts of the Titanic striking the iceberg. They are in the reading room of a library, bare of books, where a gaudily-dressed statue of Blind Justice revolves on a turntable. Surf pounds somewhere below the window.

 A LIBRARIAN assists them in their research. He recounts a striking occurrence that happened in this very room early in the day—a man with a knife struck a woman doing research, killed her, and fled. They find the article on the Titanic, and reality slips as the three become a family trapped in a stateroom filling with water as the ship lists at an increasingly sharp angle.

Back at their research again, reality slips once more as the LIBRARIAN mimes becoming the fugitive killer, stabbing the WOMAN to death. The BOY and the LIBRARIAN pitch her body over the windowsill into the surf below. The LIBRARIAN swan dives after her, and the BOY front flips out the window after him. They perish.

[16 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

THE LIBRARIAN                                           male; any age

THE WOMAN                                                in her 40s

THE BOY                                                       about 12

 

SETTING

A barren library

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

THE NEWS HOUR (a dark comedy)
(synopsis)

A nearly middle-aged couple, DONNY and ANNIE, drop in on their best friends and neighbors to share good news, bad news, and bad, bad news. They start with the bad news: a co-worker of Donny’s dropped dead from a heart attack. The bad, bad news is that their son has gone and gotten two rings pierced into his tongue. The good news is that ANNIE is pregnant, with twins, but they aren’t hers—or DONNY’s for that matter. ANNIE is acting as a surrogate mother out of a desperate need to experience pregnancy one last time; neither she nor DONNY want more children at this point in their lives.

But something’s amiss with their best friends, LAURA and LARRY, who are not their usual loving selves. LAURA, it turns out, suspects LARRY of carrying on in gay male  chat rooms on the Internet. LARRY, who has seen his wife’s car repeatedly parked behind the same motel, suspects LAURA of having an affair, and in a burst of anger, accuses her outright in front of their friends.

DONNY, appalled by what seems the threatened breakup of his friends’ marriage, tells LARRY the real news: It is he, DONNY, who is having a “harmless fling,” and LAURA, out of friendship, has been lending him her car for the purpose.  ANNIE is not privy to this information, and the three friends agree that, out of friendship, it’s best ANNIE remain in ignorance.  LAURA, out of friendship, takes the fall as the guilty party.

And as for LARRY carrying on in gay chat rooms, well, the chat rooms were all-male all right, but they were rooms for husbands seeking peer help in dealing with unfaithful wives.

[29 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

LAURA                                                           middle-aged

LARRY                                                           her husband, middle-aged

DONNIE                                                         best friend; middle-aged

ANNIE                                                            his wife; middle-aged

 

SETTING

A suburban kitchen

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

DÉJA VU (a bittersweet comedy)
(synopsis)

A middle-aged woman, LOUISE, and her ex-husband, ED, share a motel room in which to change into their formal attire for their godson’s wedding. There is still affection between them. ED thinks the bed in the room shouldn‘t go to waste and  repeatedly tries to coax LOUISE into a “quickie for old times’ sake.” LOUISE repeatedly declines.

They reminisce about their years together, unable to agree on salient details. They talk about their divorce and how they felt about it. ED, who never remarried, jealously quizzes LOUISE about the intimate details of life with her second husband, now deceased. They speculate on the likelihood of their godson having a happy marriage.

There is a lingering tenderness between them, nostalgia and regrets for what might have been. As they head out the door for the church, arm in arm, LOUISE gives ED a final bit of caring advice: “Do yourself a favor. Stop wearing bikini briefs. You’ve arrived at the baggy-boxer time of life. Get used to it.”

[15 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

ED                                          middle-aged, paunchy

LOUISE                                  his former wife; middle-aged, slender

 

SETTING

A motel room

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (a sweet comedy)
(synopsis)

ZAK, a young, broke and going-nowhere songwriter, lives in a shabby loft in Manhattan. One floor above lives SONDRA. She cleans banks at night and seems to have little future either. But while ZAK is discouraged and under-motivated, SONDRA is resolutely optimistic—and has designs on ZAK.

They pass one another occasionally on the stairs—until the day a dead rat brings them together. SONDRA, having found the rat in her dishwasher where she was doing her laundry, brings it down to ZAK for his advice on appropriate disposal. ZAK wants nothing to do with the creature and is wary of SONDRA’s intentions as well. But as they negotiate over the rat and talk about their bleak lives, SONDRA gradually gets ZAK to agree to their taking the rat, together, out to Sheep Meadow for burial.

In the course of their funeral outing, SONDRA inadvertently gives ZAK the words for a new song—a song that becomes his first money-maker. As the play closes, ZAK and SONDRA have moved in together and share visions of a bright future—all thanks to the fortunate discovery of an unfortunate rat.

 [23 pages, standard play format]

 

CAST

 SONDRA                                           late 20S

ZAK                                                    late 20S

 

SETTING

A shabby studio loft in Manhattan

 

TIME

The present

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays

 

IS ANYBODY OUT THERE? (a monologue)
(synopsis)

BETTY is getting on and unattached. Hoping still to meet Mister Right, she screws up her courage to make a home video of herself for a dating service.

It’s hard for her to decide how to present herself or know what to say. As she gets into talking about herself, her hopes and her life, there is clearly something she is reluctant to reveal…but finally does: She has an ongoing relationship with aliens who periodically abduct her to their spacecraft for research. That relationship is deeply important to her.

As her narrative unfolds, it increasingly appears BETTY is unstable and somewhat unhinged. But appearances can be deceiving.

[seven pages, single spaced]

 

CAST

BETTY                                                            shy and plain; in her 30s

 

SETTING

Her modest sitting room.

 

TIME

The present.

 

For script sample, click here

back to plays