Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Meta Plays Now Available from Cyberpress!

The Meta Plays, my anthology of short comedic plays, is now available through Cyberpress, the publishing arm of the website Stageplays. Stageplays offers the largest collection of Plays & Musicals in the world. Based in the UK and the USA, they’ve been serving the online theatre community since the last century…if you can remember that far back.

I’m very pleased to have this play available through another publishing platform, especially one that is geared specifically to the theatre community where it’s likely to have far greater exposure to its target audience.

Check out Stageplays the next time you’re looking for a play to produce or a monologue to perform – they’ve got it covered. And now they’ve also got…The Meta Plays!

This unique compilation of wittily inventive short comedies can be performed by as few as 4 actors or as many as 18, all with minimal set and prop requirements. Many of these plays have gone on to receive highly successful productions around the world, garnering glowing reviews along the way.

You can read an extract from the opening play in the collection, The Craft, here.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Long Road to a Cure

It’s been a long road to the Amazon Kindle Store for my play A Cure for the Common Cold.

I first became aware of the story of Ronald Maddison back in 2003. The UK press were reporting on the opening of an investigation (named “Operation Antler”) by the Wiltshire police force into the death of Mr. Maddison at the Porton Down chemical warfare establishment in Wiltshire, more than 5 decades after the fact. Although the inquiry wasn’t able to find sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal prosecution, their findings were given to Lord Chief Justice Woolf at the time, who then moved to quash the original inquest (held in secret) and open a new one.
Leading Aircraftman Ronald George
Maddison (c. 1933 - 6 May 1953)

The tragic, ghastly tale of what befell this innocent, trusting young man affected me quite profoundly and I wanted desperately to write a play about it. However, at that time I simply didn’t feel equipped as a writer to do it justice, daunted as I was by the scale and complexity of the story. After all, this wasn’t just about Mr. Maddison’s dreadful fate, there were a host of other mitigating factors such as national security, the Cold War arms race and the existing geopolitical situation that had to be taken into consideration and somehow woven into the plot.

Some years later, however, I saw a production of Equus on Broadway (starring Daniel Radcliffe), and afterwards I began to realize how I could at last begin forging this story into a theatrical work. The economical yet ingenious staging of Equus showed me that I could encompass everything I needed to include without a cast of thousands or a multitude of elaborate sets. And so I set to work.

I spent a vast amount of time on research, much more than I’d ever done with any other play up to that point – or since. There was so much to do: The facts of the story itself (both sides of it); what was happening in Britain and the rest of the world at that time, both politically and culturally; understanding the particular dialect that working class people from County Durham would have spoken; and, of course, the advancements that were being made with biological and chemical weapons.

I should also point out that back in 2003 when I was doing some preliminary research into the story, I came across a website put together by a number of surviving Porton Down “guinea pigs” from the 1950s and beyond, detailing the terrible ailments they’d suffered throughout their lives as a result – allegedly – of their participation in similar experimental trials. All claimed they had never been truthfully informed of what exactly had been used on them during those experiments, and they had created the website to let their voices be heard and to seek some form of compensation. However, when I began writing the play several years later, there was not a trace of that website to be found. It was as if it had never existed. I do know that a number of volunteers were compensated after the Maddison case, so I can only assume that part of the settlement was to agree to have their online protest airbrushed out of existence.

When at long last I finally completed the play, I felt a level of satisfaction I’ve not had with anything else I’ve written. That’s not to say I feel any less proud of any of the other plays I’ve written – I don’t. But this particular story affected me on such a personal level and stayed with me for so long (to this day, in fact), that it also felt like something of a personal victory. Having wanted to tell this story for such a long time, I’d finally done it. And in doing so, I felt as though I’d perhaps given just a little more importance to the brief life of a young man which the powers that be at the time did not.

Alas, despite the monumental marketing effort that followed, and sporadic attempts sine then, the play has not yet been able to secure a staging. I had several major Off-Broadway theatres express great interest in it, along with a number of UK theatres, but ultimately none went that (big) extra step to mounting a full production.

However, I have every confidence that it will receive its premiere in the near future; it’s just a matter of when. In the meantime, I’m very happy to have had this play published and available to be read by a wider audience, and in doing so, helping pay tribute to one who trusted too much in a higher power.

“In those days you trusted the authorities and didn't ask too many questions. You kept yourself to yourself.” –Eyewitness Alfred Thornhill

Purchase "A Cure for the Common Cold" on Amazon here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Meta Plays now Available!

Though it may have appeared as though time itself might actually expire before The Meta Plays would finally be released, in the metaphysical world, that seemingly endless wait for one of the most hotly anticipated works of fiction in the known (and unknown) universe actually took place in the mere blink of an eye.

And so it has arrived, without great fanfare, without fuss, and without any grinding and tiresome ad campaign desperately trying to flog it to death to all and sundry. No, instead it quietly – some might say eerily – materialized one day in that vast expanse of literary agglomeration known as the Kindle Store. And that day, of course, was today…or, if you’re reading this in the future, quite some time ago.

And what better way to ring in the holidays than with a collection of metaphysical short dramatic works hell-bent on tinkering with your jaded sense of reality. Imagine the look on little Timmy’s cherubic face as he wakes up on Christmas morning, delves into his virtual stocking, and finds The Meta Plays staring back at him, questioning his very existence.

So don’t delay, head over to the Kindle Store now and reassess your preconceptions of everything you hold dear. While suspension of disbelief is an unspoken prerequisite of traditional theatre, The Meta Plays goes one step further, one step beyond, asking you to suspend your suspension until your critical faculties have become stretched beyond all reason and recognition. It sounds painful, but it isn’t.

Don’t be shy; come on down the rabbit hole…

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

“The Skewed Picture” in Washington

No, not politics – plays! “The Skewed Picture”, my one-act comedy from “The Meta Plays” collection, has been chosen to be part of Stage Left Theater’s Hit and Run IX, the ninth year of their ever popular staged reading of short comedies by playwrights from the Spokane area and beyond. The show will take place November 6-8, 2015.

Located in Spokane, Washington, Stage Left Theater is committed to presenting works of social, political and intellectual merit.

The plays will be recorded and posted online, so I will endeavor to embed or provide a link to them here at that time.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

“A Rebel Among the Wretched” in Connecticut

I’m pleased to report that “A Rebel Among the Wretched” has been selected for production by Phoenix Stage Company in Naugatuck, Connecticut as part of its 3rd Annual One Act Festival, a four day festival of one act plays from around the world.

After receiving over 600 entries for this year’s festival, the company’s reading committees have selected a small number of scripts to be performed over four days. Plays ranging in length from 10 to 30 minutes, comedies, dramas and farces will be performed in this hosted event.

This will mark the first full production of the play, which was a Heideman Award finalist in 2011 and was performed in a staged reading by LA’s Actors Workout Studio in 2014 as part of their Spring Festival.

The production will take place at the company’s temporary home at Clockwork Repertory Theater, in Oakville, CT, June 18-21, 2015. More details can be found on the company’s website.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More “Vandalism” at The Royal Court Theatre

I received word today from The Royal Court Theatre that one of my monologues that had been chosen for their online GRIT Project earlier this year has now been selected to be performed at the theatre as part of an evening of works that will represent the culmination of the GRIT Project.

The monologue (an abridged version of “A Small Act of Vandalism”) will be performed alongside other short pieces as a rehearsed reading by the Royal Court Front of House staff. The night, hosted by a compere, begins at 7.30pm on Tuesday, June 2nd and will be held in the Royal Court Bar & Kitchen.

I’m very pleased indeed to have a piece of my writing performed at The Royal Court Theatre and only wish I could be there in person to see the show.

GRIT was announced in December 2014 and was an open call to writers of all ages and experiences to submit a play about everyday resistance, revolution and defiance, in response to the work on both Royal Court stages.

The Royal Court Theatre is the writers’ theatre. It is the leading force in world theatre for energetically cultivating writers – undiscovered, new, and established.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monologue to be Published in New Anthology

I was recently informed that a monologue from my play “Suburban Redux” has been selected for inclusion in a new monologue collection to be published by Pioneer Drama Service, Inc.

The new monologue anthology, “Audition Monologues For Young Men 2016,” is scheduled to be published in the spring of 2016 and will be edited by Gerald Lee Ratliff. This will mark the fourth collection of Mr. Ratliff’s that I have had the honor of having my work included in, and my first with Pioneer Drama Service. The monologue in question for this particular book comes from the rather shy, awkward character of Tristram.

Pioneer Drama Service is an Englewood, Colorado-based publisher of plays and musicals, and is one of the largest play publishers in the United States.