I’ve Written a New Show: Finally. “Within Reach”

A colleague in the theatre industry reached out a few months ago about collaborating on a new theatre project. After some discussing back and forth, it was decided that I would write the entire show. It would consist of 10 short plays similarly themed. Today, I finished writing it. My first new full-length theatre show in two and a half years. It’s titled: Within Reach.

Before I outline what the show’s about, I’d like to look back at the other shows of similar format that I’ve written over the years. I was put onto short-form drama about ten years ago, formed a teen drama troupe, and proceeded to write and produce a number of shows over the years. I love this type of show: short plays, light sets, various genres, similar themes, and one cohesive unit. They are super fun and audiences love them. Here’s a list of my previous shows in this format:

2011 The Road Less Traveled (Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2012 Drive All Night (Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2013 Captured in Time & Space (Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2014 For All Generations (Penang Performing Arts Centre; restaged in Jeddah in 2018)

2015 Tales of Wonder (Christmas show) (Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2016 Tales of Wonder II (Penang Performing Arts Centre)

2017 Tales of Christmas (Penang Performing Arts Centre – only one not produced by myself)

2018 Stories, Vol 1 & Stories Vol 2 (Jeddah – Mix of new and older scripts)

2019 Crazy Love (Scheduled to be produced in April 2020 until pandemic cancelled it)

So that brings us to my brand new show: WITHIN REACH.

Here’s a short description about the show: WITHIN REACH is a poignant and challenging look at the past and present. It ponders the possibilities of life, the obstacles that hold us down, the inspiration that moves us forward, and the power of hope and reconciliation that come from unexpected places. WITHIN REACH is a full-length, theatrical production consisting of ten similarly themed short plays meant to empower youth and women, while encouraging everyone to engage in the human stories around them.

I’m super excited about these 10 plays. I had so much fun writing them. They were challenging and meaningful to put together. They include two historical pieces which I love. Several pieces about teen issues and four pieces specifically written with strong female roles. Here’s a quick overview of the individual pieces are about:

Booker T. Sweeps the Floor: A historical piece based on an episode from Booker T. Washington’s autobiography. Booker learns a tough lesson about hard work. But when the ex-slave dreams of going to school, he has a strange entrance exam that he was prepared for: sweeping the floor.

The One True Sport: A young teen boy is petrified when he has to take his shirt off and play a basketball game in front of a girl he likes.

Dark Social: Two teens decide to create a false, malicious video about a girl from school they are upset with. Dark Web helps make it viral, causing untold misery to all involved.

Awake & Unchanged: At the funeral of her unfaithful husband, a woman comes to grip with her life choices as her bitter daughter questions why her mother never left him. 

Four Chairs: A woman examines her life choices and tries to better understand why she made them.

Auditions: Three women show up to audition for a role in a play, only to discover that they are actually auditioning for the roles they currently play in their lives.

Life’s Choreography: Two women dancers are working with a difficult choreographer, who keeps riding one of the women particularly hard.

The Other Side of the Wall: A young couple celebrate the night when they get engaged as their neighbor is going through an emotional breakup. Each one doesn’t know what’s happening on the other side of the wall.

Write Therapy: A creative writing teacher volunteers to mentor youth in a juvenile criminal center. But she targets one intelligent yet jaded detainee for a surprising reason.

America’s Game: Based on the true story of Octavius Catto. In 1871 Philadelphia, teacher and black activist Octavius Catto is meeting with his students when he hears of tension at the local polling place. As he goes to investigate, he is assassinated by merciless Frank Kelly. Both Kelly and Catto are whisked into another dimension to Cosmic Court where Catto chooses a strange form of justice: baseball.

Where and when will WITHIN REACH hit the stage? Well, that’s yet to be determined. Stay tuned.

If anyone is interested in learning more about any of these shows, please feel free to reach out to me.

It’s a good day when a new show has been written. It will only get better once the lights turn on.

World Premiere of “Covid Chips” this weekend. Watch online for free!

My new play “Covid Chips” will be part of Gallery Players (Brooklyn) Black Box New Play Festival starting tomorrow, Jan 28 and running through Sunday Jan 31 – streaming daily @ 7:30PM EST.

It’s very easy to watch the show. Click on the link below.

I wrote this over the summer. It’s a fun little piece talking about one of my favorite topics: government overreach perhaps? We shall see.

I watched a sneak preview of the final cut of the play and it turned out great. Enjoyable and funny. Director Mike Mroch did a fabulous job as did both actors. I was reluctant to write a play for Zoom because, well, it’s Zoom. No play belongs there! But I did it anyways because that’s what I do, and it was fun to see how it turned out.

Please tune in and enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Three New Play Volumes: Now Available!

I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally compiled and released three new volumes of plays.

“Dear High School” is a complete show – with bonus material – all about the trials and triumphs of high school.

“Tales of Wonder” is a collection of three complete Christmas shows and 29 plays, which can also be used as individual sketches for a variety of settings both secular and sacred.

“Tales of Redemption” is a collection of short plays about the Christian experience – perfect for a variety of settings.

The Short Play Collection:

Volume 1: Theatrical Duets for Stage, Competition, or Classroom

Volume 2: Tales of Wonder: Sacred & Secular Christmas Plays for Stage, School, & Church

Volume 3: Dear High School

Volume 4: Tales of Redemption: Christian Themed Drama for Stage, School, or Church

My Play This Weekend in Penang: Grade Semantics

My play “Grade Semantics” hits the stage this weekend as part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Penang, Malaysia.

grade semanticsPenang

 

This is a play that I’ve produced twice myself, and it’s a hit — especially with students and teachers. I’ve even had a HS counselor tell me after watching it that the farcical aspects of the play very much played out as true in those fun one-on-one chats with students.

Here an excerpt from the play. Enjoy!
STUDENT: That’s it. I’m going to tell the principal.
MR. S.: What are you going to tell the principal?
STUDENT: I’m going to inform the principal about your discriminatory grading practices.
MR. S.: I do not have discriminatory grading practices!
STUDENT: So, you are saying that everyone in your classes get the same grade?
MR. S.: No, of course not.
STUDENT: Just as I suspected. You look over the tests, and you discriminate. You say ‘that test goes into the good pile’ and ‘that test goes into the bad grade pile’ where all of mine always end up.
MR. S. Because—
STUDENT: You always have reasons, don’t you? Because. Because. Because. Because you don’t like words that start with the letter B.
MR. S.: That’s ridiculous.
STUDENT: This is anything but ridiculous. Let me ask you a question, Mr. S. Do you think bad grades will affect my future?
MR. S.: Yes, I absolutely think that’s true.
STUDENT: Ah, ha! Caught you! You are purposefully affecting my future.
MR. S.: That’s not what I said.
STUDENT: My bad grades might misrepresent who I am to the Ivy League schools. I might not get into Harvard because of your discrimination. Employers are going to look down upon me because of my bad grades. My future earnings are in jeopardy because of your grade discrimination. We are living in an age when grades just separate people into the achievers and the non-achievers. The passing and the failing. I thought we as a society were beyond this type of blatant discrimination, holding people back because of word that starts with B. But apparently, in some corners of education, there are still the vestiges of entrenched systemic discrimination. I thought you were better than that, Mr. S. I thought you were woke to the realities of the modern world. I’m ashamed to be your student and I do not under any circumstance acknowledge the authority of your grades over my life. I am, from this moment on, grade-free.

 

Writing Collaborations: What’s the Goal?

This weekend, I’ve been collaborating on a short play writing project with one of my students. We have a finished draft on a fun and meaningful script which I plan on using in my new show coming up in April.

It’s been a while since I’ve collaborated with students on a creative writing piece. I used to do it all the time. In fact, these type of collaborations are what kick-started my writing career. I have many students to thank, because they helped me to just write and put my work out there.

This weekend, I’m writing with a student who has never written a play before. She came up with the idea for the play and I helped to formulate it into scenes. We each took different scenes to write and then there’s the process of combining them together, editing, adding new ideas, and the general non-stop revisions which are needed. I’m excited to see the final product of this script.

This endeavor got me thinking: what’s the goal of this type of writing collaboration? A new writer with an experienced writer.

Here’s how I approach it. I, first, want the idea to originate with the new writer. I wanted her to have ownership in the process because I know how I can be: I get an idea and I can’t stop until it’s done. This allows a new writer to catch-up to my overbearingness, so to speak.

The new writers are typically reluctant to edit my work. That’s understandable, but I want to make it clear that there is no hierarchy in this collaboration. There’s only one goal: write a quality piece. That’s it.

That means that I will edit the new writer’s scenes thoroughly. I’ll make additions. Suggestions. Give feedback. Get feedback. And, invariably, the new writer comes back with “yes, yes, yes, that’s so much better. yes.” I’m not a better writer than they are. I just have more experience. I’ve also produced 25 shows. I know visually how the dialogue will look on-stage.  I know what will work, what will sound authentic, and what won’t.

My goal is for the new writer to see my entire process and, hopefully, learn from it. Then they get their name as a co-writer in the playbill which is always fun. And, if they act, which they almost always do, I let them star in their own play if they so choose.

What’s important in the process, at least for me, is not to settle for less quality because a writer is new. I will push them, I will encourage them, I will ruthlessly edit their stuff in order to make the piece better. An okay piece will not be acceptable to me if it can be a great piece, because I’m putting my name on it as well.

I guess what I’m saying is: don’t dumb it down. Keep the standard high.

I had a past school principal who said that the lost practice of kids and parents eating supper together every night has hurt the kids’ development. They need to hear adult conversations. They need to be able to ask questions. Wonder what that word means. It’s one of the ways they grow and learn.

This is exactly how I view writing collaborations with students. I hope my intent is reached with this one.

This is going to be a good play. It’s entitled: “Why Leaves Change Color.”

My New Show: “Crazy Love”

This afternoon, I was thinking ahead a little bit about my new show coming up at the end of the year. It will be my first, all-original production since December 2016’s “Tales of Wonder II.” Not that I haven’t produced anything since then.

May 2017 – RLT “Our Best” did include some original content though it was mainly a best-of show.

May 2017 – RLT Musical also was a re-hash of old musical numbers except for one new piece.

January 2018 – “For All Generations” was a re-designed show based on my 2014 RLT Players’ show.

April 2018 – “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” – the Broadway Musical.

So finally, it’s coming, the new show:  “Crazy Love.” This is a MOSTLY original show. It does include two of my award-winning scripts from previous shows, but it is mainly new. Six new dramatic sketches and one mini-musical. This 9 piece production will be about one and a half hours long and it will be performed in our brand new campus’ brand new theatre! I can’t wait. Lots more to come on this later. But here’s the lineup.

CrazyLovegraphic1

Break a Leg: “It’s the End of the World & I Love You”

My short musical, “It’s the End of the World & I Love You” is being performed this week at the Kuala Lumpur Short & Sweet Musical Festival 2017. It’s being directed by fellow writer and director Terence Toh — though he admits this is his first hand at directing a musical. I think he’ll do great.

short and sweet musical 2017

 

I’m so sad that I won’t be able to see it live. But hey, there’s always video. And to commemorate the week, I’d like to leave the lyrics of the entire 10-minute musical below for your perusal. It’s a piece that is a lot of fun. I hope to get to produce it myself again in the future. Here you go. Enjoy!

It’s the End of the World and I Love You

A Short Musical

 

Lyrics by Mark W. Sasse

Music by Mark W. Sasse

 

Synopsis: In the split second before an atomic bomb destroys the world, two lovers sing a 10-minute musical.

Cast of Characters:         Husband & Wife

(optional) Ensemble

 

HUSBAND

Are you ready, dear? Wow, you look fantastic

WIFE

Thank you, dear, I’m nearly ready to go.

BOTH

And you made the reservations, right? I thought …

Now what do you suggest we do? Calm down. Calm down.

I thought I gave that job to you. Calm down. Calm down.

WIFE

I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go.

HUSBAND

Take a deep breath we’ll go with the flow?

Maybe the night will surprise us.

WIFE

I don’t like to be surprised.

(Suddenly an atomic explosion rings out and they witness a mushroom cloud forming in front of them. He is standing in awe, and she in disbelief.)

 

HUSBAND

It’s the end of the world, and I love you!

it’s the end of our life; full payment is due;

It’s the end of the world and I love you

so hold my hand, love

walk to our new life above

 

To the forest’s edge; it’s just a short trip

we’ll have a front row seat at the apocalypse

I’ll wear my best tie; you wear your red dress

cause there’s obviously no way out of this mess

we’ll kiss once more at the fireworks display

a gas mask is the accessory of the day

cause how can we compete with nuclear fission

someone dropped a bomb and completed their mission

I’m just a wishin’

they would have missed

but since they didn’t

why not kiss?

(one last time)

It’s the end of the world, and I love you!

It’s the end of our life; nothing more we can do;

It’s the end of the world and I love you

I’m happy to know, I’m here with you when life is through

 

WIFE

Pause.

There’s so many things that I enjoy about him,

He’s sweet, he’s kind

His kisses are sublime

But I hope you can tell by his latest thought

That at times he can be a complete idiot!

 

I can’t accept this fate

I have 50 years left I will not be moved

Just what is a mushroom cloud?

When I have resolve and rage in my heart.

Rage, rage, rage against the night,

And you could do more than just want to kiss (so typical)

Don’t go without a fight,

We fight for more than a moment left in time

Defiance, Defiance, Defiance, Defiance

Don’t resign to fate

Our more than 50 years still ahead (you listening?)

I want grandchildren

I want to hold them tight, safe secure, first we must endure,

Rage, rage against the night

And wipe that silly expression off your face (so comical)

This song we must re-write

This dress is meant for so much more than just an Ash Wednesday party,

Defiance, defiance, defiance, defiance!

 

HUSBAND

Calm Down Calm down

What is it dear?

WIFE

A thought I cannot bear.

 

You see fireworks I see flames

You see a final kiss, I see pain,

You say chill and I say run

You say stay, but I’m Attila the Hun

 

HUSBAND

You see ending I see your lips

You see crying I see a last kiss

You see heartache but I’ll admit

One moment with you is not so easy to quit

 

This might indeed be what we call the end

So let’s do what we couldn’t if we were just friends?

 

WIFE
You see a requiem, I see escape,

HUSBAND

You see a glimmer, but I see a drape,

WIFE

You see a final kiss, but I’ll admit

BOTH

One moment with you is not so easy to quit

HUSBAND

You should ask her about Y2K.

WIFE
Don’t bring that up.

HUSBAND

She built a bunker where we could stay,

WIFE
Would you shut up?

HUSBAND

And ever since she’s been putting canned beans away,

A case and a half every other day.

WIFE

Nothing wrong with a little foresight,

HUSBAND

You call that little?

WIFE

If we can get there you’d be contrite,

HUSBAND

I’d rather kiss.

WIFE
Would you rather be blown to smithereens,

Or live comfortably underground on 20 years of beans?

HUSBAND

She has 3000 pinto and 2000 black soy

Enough in itself to power fat man and little boy,

she thinks she can stop that from what it will destroy

by merely phoning Olympus like she’s Helen of Troy

WIFE

What do you want from me?

HUSBAND

Look danger in the mouth,

and smile when it’s near,

you’ll always be surprised of how few things that you fear,

if you eat a frog first thing in the morning,

a mushroom cloud will surely seem quite boring,

So purge your thoughts,

forget your past,

release your hopes,

and concentrate on the blast,

its magnificent power,

like the beating of my heart,

grip my hand and we’ll be split apart

WIFE

Just, just a moment ago

I was standing here my future all planned out when this

Cloud shielded my view

Of my futuristic fantasy of

1.7 kids and 2.7 dogs and

Years of PTO and teenager BO

But this big bang nightmare

ruined my eveningwear

HUSBAND

What’s wrong?

WIFE
It’s not the bomb.

HUSBAND

Then what’s wrong.

WIFE

I’m not that strong.

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE

This little song

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE

It’s not so long

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE

We don’t belong,

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE
Caught in this song

HUSBAND

What’s wrong

WIFE
This great big bomb

HUSBAND

What’s wrong?

WIFE

Does not belong

In our love song

HUSBAND

(speaking) What’s wrong?

WIFE

Tonight of all nights was the night of all nights

When I would tell you you’re having a son.

HUSBAND

A son?

WIFE
It’s okay. We can all go together now

 

To the forest’s edge; it’s just a short trip

To our front row seats at the apocalypse

HUSBAND

I’ll wear my best tie;

WIFE

I’ll wear my red dress

BOTH

cause there’s obviously no way out of this mess

we’ll kiss once more at the fireworks display

a pacifier will be the accessory of the day

cause how can we compete with nuclear fission

someone dropped a bomb and completed their mission

I’m just a wishin’

they would have missed

but since they didn’t

why not kiss?

(one last time)

It’s the end of the world, and I love you!

It’s the end of our life; nothing more we can do; (I finally understand what you’ve been going through.)

It’s the end of the world and I love you

I’m happy to know, we’re a family when our life is through.

My Play in Short & Sweet Kuala Lumpur: This Week!

A brand new short play of mine will be one of the featured plays this week at the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival Kuala Lumpur.

It’s a gritty piece called “Alone in a Bar,” about a desperate man in a bar, who comes in each day and drinks himself into oblivion. He never speaks a word, and he’s always distraught. On this particular day, another man and woman comes into the bar, and there seems to be some sort of abusive relationship going on, which brings some interaction with the silent man in the bar. It’s high tension and drama time!

Director, Vinna Law, decided to go a little different route with the piece and made it into a type of experimental theatre, with the voices pre-recorded, and a sound-scape to set the mood for the choreographed actions. I haven’t seen it yet. You can get a sneak-peek glimpse at a rehearsal video on the Facebook link below.

I’m flying down Friday to be there for evening show, and I can’t wait. It’s the third fifth time one of my plays or musicals have been in Short and Sweet KL, and I’m looking forward to it. Pictures and comments to follow this weekend.

FACEBOOK PAGE

Now Available: Theatrical Duets

Drama directors, forensic coaches, drama teachers, or any lover of theatre. Here’s a great collection of duets which can be used for a variety of settings. It includes 4 award winning scripts, and 12 other unique, engaging, socially relevant scripts for all different settings. All of these have been theatre-tested in one way or another. I’ve used them in the drama classroom, for award-winning performances in forensics competitions, and as a part of serious theatrical performances.

Versatile, fun, meaningful. Please check it out and pass on the link to the drama folks in your life! Thanks.

Amazon Link HERE!

The Book Depository

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00034]