Chocolate Cake (published in Win/Lose/Draw, an evening of 3 short plays for 2 actresses)
Comedy/Drama, One-Hour Play, 2 women: 2 total, Flexible Set

CHOCOLATE CAKE is a comedy with a dark heart.  Annmarie and Delia meet at a conference on careers for women.  But in a motel room where a chocolate cake is hidden, they discover that they share the same guilty secret.   Annmarie is young, naive, and married to her high school sweetheart,  a mechanic; Delia is older and brassier, a former showgirl living in New York and married to a wealthy businessman.   As they share their stories and, up to a point, their food, the very funny dialogue  gives way to sadder truths about the deprivations and self-doubts which have led them to binge-eating; and the need for change becomes very real.

Father Dreams
Comedy/Drama, Full Length, 2 men, 2 women: 4 total, Flexible Set
Subtitled “The waking and sleeping dreams of Paul Hogan, the son, on a Sunday afternoon,” the play is comprised of dreams, memories and  fantasies that illuminate the  struggles of a family dogged by the father’s growing madness.  A manic-depressive lawyer whose career is destroyed by his illness, the father withdraws from reality into surreal mood swings. The action takes place in the mind of the son, Paul, early 20s, as he tries to decide whether to visit his father for the first time in years.  Past and present are distorted into scenes of wild, cartoon-like fantasy and vaudeville humor, but guilt—and terror—cannot be laughed away. We are made movingly aware that the son, while fighting to avoid the fate of his father, may come to share it.

Little Bird
Comedy/Drama, Full Length, 2 men, 2 women: 4 total, Interior
The scene is Kelly’s apartment in a rundown section of Cleveland infiltrated by middle-class hippies.  The play is about the alternate family of close friends and lovers that four young people form as they struggle to define themselves and what they want from life.   Prandy, 22, and Maura, 20, are sisters with no other family, very different but close and dependent on each other.  Prandy’s lover, Clint, 26, is a focused and talented carpenter with a yearning to travel; and Kelly, 30, is an artist whose self-doubt and old wounds get in his way.  Maura is in love with him and he’s fond of her but avoids that complication.  When Prandy announces that she’s pregnant and thrilled about it,  Clint accuses her of using the child to keep him there and takes off on the road.  Prandy’s embittered decision to have an abortion drives a wedge between her and Maura, who tries to convince her that they could raise the child together.  Their argument reveals aspects of their true selves that they haven’t faced before and they can’t forgive each other.   Months later, Maura’s pain and loneliness make her confess her love to Kelly, and despite his fears of hurting her and himself, they become lovers.  When Clint returns from his wanderings, all four work their way toward reconciliation, with less interdependence and more real understanding of each other and themselves.

Drama, One-Hour Play, 3 men, 3 women: 6 total, Interior/Exterior
The setting is the living room and front porch of an old frame house near the campus of a Catholic men’s college in the Midwest. It is a summer night in the late sixties.  This is a very funny and touching exploration of friendship, desire and love among three guys and three girls, as some of them discover that their relationships are more complicated than they want to admit.

Dog Eat Dog
Comedy, Full Length, 4 men, 4 women, 1 boy, 2 girls: 11 total, Flexible Set
The place is an affluent suburb in a mid-sized American city. The time is the “possible future,” when the national economy has slid from recession into a downward spiral. The play follows the struggle of Al and Marina and their neighbors  as they face conditions never before imagined: job loss, businesses collapsing, the country club besieged by squatters, and their friends and neighbors turning into hoarders, cadgers and thieves. Their attempts to survive while all is tumbling down are sometimes hilarious and sometimes genuinely moving as they turn curtains into clothes, dream up new ways to make zucchini appetizing, and fight over jobs they would have spurned in better days. But this is also a moral tale:  an attempt to work together explodes in their faces, and the central characters have to decide what they are willing to do to survive:  “What good is going on if you go on alone?”

Love Minus
Comedy/Drama, Full Length, 2 men, 2 women: 4 total, Flexible Set
Karla, a would-be novelist, and Nick, a soap opera actor, meet by chance and fall for each other.  A week end together at Karla’s apartment makes Karla believe that true love has arrived. But then Nick disappears – and then reappears  weeks later, seemingly as eager to be with her as ever.   Her funny and cynical best friend, Lydia, encourages her to use Nick for fun and sex and then discard him, which is what Lydia does with men.  When Karla meets Nick’s hilarious, self-deprecating roommate Alan, whose only acting job is in a terrible children’s show,  there’s an attraction that they can’t follow up on because Karla is in love with Nick, and Alan can’t tell her that Nick has a pattern of falling for girls and then losing interest fast.   But this time it’s different – Nick comes back to Karla, but then won’t have sex with her – he wants to be her friend. She’s more hurt and confused than ever, and he’s forced to face the truth that he can’t figure out what he really wants.  Alan and Karla are drawn together again, but she’s still hung up on Nick.  Meanwhile Nick  stands her up and has a drunken one-night-stand with Lydia after he meets her in a bar.   When Lydia confesses to Karla, it almost wrecks their friendship, but Karla finally sees that she has to let go of Nick and move on.   The play is built of cleverly constructed scenes and sharp, funny dialogue as it reveals complicated truths about themselves to all four characters.

How To Say Goodbye
Drama, Full Length, 1 man, 3 women, 1 boy: 5 total, Flexible Set
Winner of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, this play explores the question of how the terminal illness of a child changes the child’s parents, Marty and Casey Staiger, and Casey’s two closest friends, Philly and Jana, over a period of years.  his is the theme:  nobody knows how he or she will handle an ongoing tragedy, or what he or she will have to do in order to survive emotionally; but the damage and the need for healing and forgiveness  is universal.

The play begins and ends in Cleveland on the day before Conor Staiger will have a dangerous operation which he may not survive.   The action cuts back and forth between scenes in the present and the past.  In the present,  Marty and Casey are thirty and separated – she lives on the West Coast now – but she has returned for the operation, and  she spends part of the evening in a bar, drinking with her two oldest friends.  This is intercut with flashbacks in which we see how Conor’s illness gradually changed the behavior and relationships of the four young adults and how they see themselves.   At first the husband, Marty, seemed to be the irresponsible partner, while Casey was the optimistic, well-adjusted one. But as Conor’s condition deteriorated, Casey found herself increasingly unable to cope with him emotionally.  Her feelings of despair and guilt overwhelmed her and drove her away from her husband and son.  Meanwhile Marty found an unexpected strength in himself and loved the essential role of taking care of Conor.  Casey’s closest friend, Philly, who had been drifting without a job or love relationship, came to live with the family, give Casey support and help with Conor.  Philly found herself in this work too, and began to fall for Marty.   When Casey left, Philly stayed.   When Casey comes back for the operation,  she learns that Philly and Marty are lovers – Philly has taken her place in her family.   But Marty is still hoping that Casey will come home, and Philly asks Casey to let Marty go.

De Donde?
Drama, Full Length, 8 men, 5 women, more Latinos than Anglos, most play multiple roles: 13 total, Flexible Set
Freely translated as “Where are you from?,” the title of the play refers to the increasing tide of illegal aliens who flee north to the United States from the economically and politically oppressed countries of Central America. Seeking freedom from persecution and a better life for themselves and their families, the refugees are, more often than not, met with indifference and even hostility, regardless of their circumstances, and deported back to their home countries—which can mean more repression or even death. In a series of sharply drawn scenes and monologues, with thirteen actors portraying more than forty characters, the author explores the individual stories of a cross section of refugees and those with whom they come in contact: overworked and increasingly cynical lawyers who try to win amnesty for them; a group of Catholic nuns who risk imprisonment to provide sanctuary; judges and immigration officials who must enforce often antiquated and even inhuman laws; and U.S. citizens of Hispanic descent who are torn between allegiance to their new country and compassion for those fleeing their home countries as some of them did themselves. A moving plea for understanding and forbearance, the play also becomes, in the end, a searing indictment of this nation’s immigration policies and the terrible toll which they can exact.

Drama,Full Length, 5 men, 4 women: 9 total, Flexible Set
Most of the characters in this play are between 17 and 25 years old.

When Marlin Carroll sells the family farm without telling his son, he sets in motion an inexorable trap for his two children—the idealistic Rafe, and the strong, beautiful Ruby, who cling with equal stubbornness to their opposing dreams. The sale of the farm brings in two strangers who become catalysts for the events that follow: Evan Brooks, a wealthy young investor and developer, and Dylan, a handsome, lonely drifter who survives by telling people what they want to hear. As Ruby and her desperately unhappy mother, Ceelie, both look to Dylan for magical escape, Rafe determines to buy back the farm at any cost. Dylan falls in love with Ruby, but his longing for a home grows as strong as his need for her. When Brooks—the man with all the money—is also attracted to Ruby, the whole family, along with Dylan, begin to see her as the answer to their prayers. As the characters are entwined in threads of anger and violence, their conflicting dreams and needs converge in a catastrophe that changes them forever.



The Perfect Guy
Comedy, 10-15 mins, 2 women, 1 man: 3 total, Minimal Set.
Dan is perfect: smart, funny, attractive, with a well-paying job. Kitty is swooning and her friend Tina is chomping at the bit for Kitty and Dan to get together. There’s just one problem…he might be a Republican.

Andre the Seal
Comedy, 10-20 mins, either 3 women (3 actors possible: 2-3 women, exactly 1 male), Minimal Set
Susan’s screenwriting career has faded away, but now she’s back in Hollywood, desperately hoping to be hired for what may be the last TV movie ever made. Along with her persistent agent, can she convince the young new TV executive to give her a job?

Comedy, 8-10 mins, 2 women: 2 total, Minimal Set
Unanswered questions about God and “forever” are keeping Tina up at night, and only the reassuring words of her sister, Kitty, can put her mind to rest. Between fart jokes and name calling, these sisters navigate existential questions as they struggle to find an answer good enough to let them go to bed.

First Communion
Comedy/Drama, 10-20 miins, either 10 women (5-15 actors possible: 5-15 women), SET: A clean open space, as simple as possible.
It’s Joan’s first communion and she is thrilled to take part of this ancient ritual. But when she gets sick and returns from stepping out for some air, a massive nun appears and condemns her for making a spectacle of herself.