Winner of the Theatre Memphis National Play Contest
6 men, 3 women - a unit set
Pictured right (above and below): The cast and crew from the SART production, Mars Hill, North Carolina.
C'est la Vie!
It's Christmastime, and the traditions of the past collide with the realities of the present in this taut and compelling story of four generations of women in one family. Eighty-year-old Mary, the matriarch, is also an anchor in these roiling waters of avarice, social-climbing, and subterfuge. Daughter Gwyn (60) jockeys to get her inheritance early and ultimately plots to take her mother's place as doyenne of the family. Along the way, Gwyn has helped sabotage the marriage of her daughter, Diana (40), and has pushed reluctant granddaughter, Josie (20), into being a part of the generational debutante scene, something which Josie feels is passe.
Though she is still the voice of calm amid these machinations, even Mary is blindsided when long-time housekeeper, Ivy (80), drops a bombshell which throws the truth about everybody's role in the family into question. Have all their lives been "façades"?
Despite the serious themes, there are many laugh-out-loud moments, particularly as Josie tries out her stand-up comedy routines and as we watch ten-year-old Tasha negotiate the pitfalls of her first "puppy-love" crush.
As Edgar’s and Adele’s wedding plans teeter on the brink, Madeleine has doubts about Ned’s maturity, and Kiki refuses to live off of Margaret’s considerable fortune.
In 1880, shortly before she is to sail to Europe for a trip of several months with her Aunt Lucinda, Ellie Kincaid learns from her fiancé, Mark Labiche, that Lucinda is trying to murder her to get the inheritance which reverts to Lucinda if Ellie dies before the age of twenty-one.
6 women, ages 10 - 80 - one contemporary set
near Charleston to make a decision and to celebrate the engagement of son, Ned, to new fiancée, Madeleine, whom none of them has met.
*** One Act Plays ***
1 man, 1 woman
one interior set
A One-Act Comedy
3 men, 2 women - one interior set
3 males, 5 females - one interior set
A Romantic Comedy
Newspaper editor, Edgar, is weighing an offer from the powerful Gannett Company to buy the family’s 80-year-old newspaper. While he and his mother, Margaret, are the major shareholders, his two ex-wives, Roxana and Adele, also are part owners.
3 men, 5 women
one interior contemporary set
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4 men, 5 women - one interior contemporary set
C'est la Vie! is a full-length theatre piece comprised of a group of four interlinking short plays with interwoven characters. It was specifically designed for a cast of three actors--a woman and a man "of a certain age," and a man in his twenties. Each actor works singly with the other two, and all three actors appear in the final play--at which point the audience discovers how delightfully the first three plays have factored into the plot of the fourth one. Each actor, then, appears in three of the four plays. From a production viewpoint, the intent is to offer three actors three very different characters in the course of an evening.
While the four locales are described in extensive detail, for ease of production they may be as skeletal or simple as a designer chooses--even to being defined by light and a few props. The one intermission occurs after Teacher. Running time: approximately 1:30.
The four plays are
Marked For Murder
This delightful comedy was the winner of the National ScriptWorks Competition of the Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre and premiered there in 2006. It introduces three generations of the dynamic Rutledges of Charleston.
He invites them all to a weekend gathering at the Rutledge home on Kiawah Island
Pictured above and below: Eugene Sumlin and Josephine Hall, Barter Theatre production
This entertaining and fast-paced comedy is a sequel to Taking A Chance On Love and picks up where the earlier play ends.
While all things are aligned for the forthcoming remarriage of newly-retired Edgar Rutledge to his much-loved second wife, Adele, she wants to delay the nuptials until after the upcoming promotional tour for her new book.
Edgar agrees, but then Adele’s tour manager, the handsome and charming Vyvyan Zane Grey, arrives on the scene and it’s clear that his interest in Adele is more than professional. Meanwhile, Edgar’s son, Ned, and fiancée, Madeleine, are planning their own wedding and invite Ned’s grandmother, Margaret, and her new beau, Kiki (Madeleine’s former husband, no less), to make it a double wedding.
At left: The cast from the production by Henrico Theatre Company, Richmond, Virginia
"A clever and nicely-balanced story about two people with the potential to improve each other's lives."
-- Detroit Free Press
A Romantic Comedy
By the time an earlier lovey-dovey interview with the sets of almost-newly-weds appears in print, nobody is speaking to anybody, and the weddings are off. But Cupid has more tricks in his quiver, and manages to thaw the ice–although Cupid’s plans are not at all like those of the mere mortals who made marriage plans to begin with.
Double Wedding is a delightful romp and will resonate with all who’ve been in love and contemplated marriage.
The Catbird Seat
In the midst of this, Edgar learns that his new novel will be published by Random House, and sexy editor, Ramona Ramiriz, thinks he ought to come to New York to work with her on the revisions. Jealously rears its ugly head as Edgar agrees. After all, Adele will be away on tour with Vyvyan. What’s good for the goose . . .
On the eve of his 70th birthday, Andy Macklin--advisor to presidents, charismatic speaker, and the most admired African-American spiritual leader in the world--decides to step down from a fifty-year ministry. His son, Wesley, is poised to succeed him, but all plans go awry when Wes is killed in an auto crash. Andy's wife, Irene, and daughter, Lexie, think Andy's other son, Jeff, is the only logical alternative. But Pam Macklin, Wes's wife, feels she is best suited to carry on the torch given to her dead husband. Both have the right credentials to step into the lofty position.
Unfortunately, Andy has never come to terms with Jeff's homosexuality, and Andy further feels that his world-wide ministry is not ready for a woman at the helm. At a time when Andy most needs the support of his family in this issue of succession, he gradually realizes that in the process of dazzling thousands with "the message," he has never really "been there" for those whom he most loves.
Irene is coping with her own grief, blaming God for Wes's death. And just who is this gay son who seems ideally suited in all ways but one? And what is Andy's real reason for planning to step down? The play moves back and forth in time to build a mosaic whose final piece provides the answers--and the key--to acceptance and growth for all of them.
1 man, 1 woman - one interior contemporary set
A Mystery Play in One Act
Chagall & Mrs. Belmont
This broad comedy takes place at two in the morning in a high-rise hotel in New York City. Tony DeMarco and Rhonda Varrick meet in an elevator. He is a cocky pizza delivery guy in his twenties. He's just been stiffed in a sixty-dollar delivery. She is a worldy-wise, older woman of easy virtue. When the elevator becomes stuck, an unlikely relationship is forced on two complete strangers. His Humphrey Bogart-like actions are considerably tempered by his claustrophobia, while her practicality in the face of the unexpected strikes a winning scenario that ultimately changes them both.
Dr. Ted Noland and his prize playwriting student, Charlie Barrett, are at loggerheads. The term is ending and Charlie's one-act play is not ready. He needs the credit and a passing grade to graduate. Charlie's personal life is falling apart and he'll settle for an "adequate" script just to graduate. Ted refuses to let Charlie compromise on his standards. The struggles of teacher and student, and Ted's insight into clarifying the roles of each, offers valuable life lessons for both.
1 male, 1 female
Imagine that you are André Telfair, the famous artist/aesthetician of Makeovers by André, and into your salon comes mousey Caitlin Allgood wanting the complete "works"--a new image--as she is preparing for a tour to promote her new book, How to Make a Man Happy. The only hitch is: Caitlin is a nun. In this humorous and warm comedy, it's hard to tell just who is getting the makeover.
Coming Out in Atlanta
2 males, 1 female
Lenny Levinson is the Toast of Atlanta in his gig at The Moonlight Club where he is featured in a dandy drag impersonation of a young Liza Minnelli. Lenny teaches in a middle school and has never come out to his very traditional Jewish parents, Rosa and Sol. They learn about their gay son when they attend a performance. The inevitable confrontation takes place in Lenny's dressing room. And all the stages of grief--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance (in some form or another)--are explored before Lenny is due back on stage for his next number. The deft comedic touch throughout leads to a satisfying and upbeat ending.
It seems that all of the characters in this story have secrets which the intensity of the situation forces them to confront . . . and ultimately reveal. The discoveries are often painful because they are based on misperceptions and misunderstandings. They do, however, open the door for rapproachment and enlightenment.
4 men, 1 woman - one interior contemporary set
“ . . . an engaging script full of humor and insight. Taking A Chance On Love features lovable, zany characters who, for all their foibles, do follow their hearts. The result is entertaining and satisfying.”
- Asheville Citizen-Times
Ups and Downs
"The script is quick-paced, unpretentious, and one of its greatest strengths is the tension it builds."
-- The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)
What does a Tony Award-winning playwright do to recapture his Broadway success when his six subsequent plays have hardly been dazzling? Now, on the eve of rehearsals of his latest play, Calvin Love is faced with the defection of his director, a script that's not ready, and a family life that's falling apart. His son, David, with whom he has a strained relationship, is nearly ready to graduate from UNC in Chapel Hill (where Cal also teaches) and is heading to graduate school three thousand miles away. His wife, Myra, has said she'll see Cal through the play's opening and will then follow through with divorce plans, to take a job in Washington, DC.
When Cal's longtime producer, Justin Blair, brings in a hot-shot young director, Rex Christopherson, to take over the show, Cal is incensed. He needs a seasoned director with a proven track record, and he sends Rex packing. The success of this new play has become Cal's obsession because he feels it's his last chance to win back the respect of the two people he loves most--his wife and his son--and to prove that his first major success was not a fluke.
Of course, we know that Chagall did paint the wonderful murals at the Met, but how he got to the decision is the crux of the script. The play comprises this interview and is played in real time, running about 85-90 minutes, without intermission.
When it turns out that Madeleine is French–and nearly as old as Ned’s mother, Roxana, things turn topsy-turvy. The merriment is heightened by the unexpected arrival of beautiful femme fatale, Solange, Madeleine’s daughter, who makes a play for Edgar who’s busy being smitten again with wife number two, Adele.
In the midst of all this, Cupid’s arrow catches 75-year-old Margaret totally unaware when Madeleine’s ex-husband, Kiki, arrives and falls madly in love with her. It’s an intergenerational and saucy excursion into the realm of romance. Everybody in Taking A Chance On Love is in love with somebody else on stage, but not necessarily the “logical” person.
The delightful plot meanderings and unexpected twist at the end make this a memorable evening of fun and laughter.
The Chagall of the title is artist Marc Chagall, and the two-character play revolves around his reluctance to accept the commission to paint the murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House for its grand opening in 1966.
Taking on the job to persuade him is former actress Eleanor Robson, famous for being Shaw's muse for his Major Barbara. By the time of the play (set in 1964), Eleanor has been married for many years to New York’s famous entrepreneur, August Belmont. She has gained additional fame by founding the Metropolitan Opera Guild, remaining one of the Opera’s stalwart supporters.
At first, Chagall’s ambivalence about the commission seems “lightweight,” but then as Eleanor gently tries to advance her cause, the layers peel back to reveal Chagall’s real story which includes misunderstandings about his artistic style, delineates a great personal loss affecting his relationship with the United States, and finally sheds light on his narrow escape from the Nazis during WWII—a persecution because of his Jewish heritage.
Despite the serious issues, the two characters find immediate rapport when they meet, enjoying playful repartee, the beginnings of a strong friendship—and even making a few discoveries which ultimately change both their lives.
1 male, 1 female
A winner of Theatre Memphis's National Play Contest (premiering under the title Chiaroscuro), this two-character play tells the story of famous artist Sara Canfield, a white transplanted southerner living in New York City, who is blinded in an accident and can no longer paint. Becoming isolated, she seeks a reader who will come in for two hours a day.
Enter Raymond Gordon, a street-wise young black ex-con. The friction is immediate, and the interplay of these two fractured lives provides the fabric of the play. As layers are peeled away, the discoveries are often
surprising . . . and comedic, too!
Mark and Ellie manage to stop Lucinda. Her death proves to be a sham, however, when Ellie herself is poisoned and Lucinda reappears as Mark's real love interest.
The plot takes an unusual twist when Mark, who has been planning to marry Lucinda all along, is himself unexpectedly murdered. The arrival of Darrell Ambrose and Police Inspector Willis offers still another startling piece of news and, at the same time, a red herring. The shattering climax has a touch of irony which undoes "all the best-made plans . . . "
Could you tell the absolute truth about everything? For one whole morning? That's the challenge Pruella Rankin makes to Lanky Lonagan as they work at Angus McTavish's General Store. Lanky agrees because telling the truth is just a natural thing to him. Until . . .
As different customers enter the store, Pruella forces Lanky into saying terrible things he has heard and can't lie about. Although Lanky wins the bet, he manages to alienate everybody in sight, including the preacher. Angus fires him on the spot, but suddenly all the malcontents realize they are just as guilty as Lanky . . . and that the truth may be more complex than everybody thought.
The laughs and sight gags are a delight, and this play continues to be a popular hit
throughout the United States and Canada.
The character, Lanky Lonagan, first appeared in the musical, A Belonging Place.
The minimum royalty rate for this play is $35; scripts, 6.95
This title can be licensed and sold throughout the world.
DRAMATIC PUBLISHING COMPANY
311 Washington St., Woodstock, IL 60098
Phone: (800) 448-7469. fax (800) 334-5302
Taking a Chance on Love
C. Robert Jones, Diane Chapman (Eleanor Robson Belmont), and Ralph Redpath (Marc Chagall) at the play's first public reading.
At right: Alyssa Kennedy and Ralph Redpath, Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre production
The Salieri Effect