category: full length one act
genre: backstage comedy
running time: ninety minutes
Warren Alving, an actor/director turning 30
Josh Baker, an actor in his mid-twenties, his lover
Gwen Howard, an actress in her early twenties
Cliff Samuel, an actor/stage manager in his mid-thirties
Toby Kent, an actor who has just turned 20
Bettina Snell, an aging classical actress from England
Electra Snell, her teenage daughter, a successful commercial actress
Roy Wang, an actor in his late thirties
Anya Monroe, an actress who also manages the company
Gwen is a recent college graduate who has been cast as Chloe in a small theater production of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia. Hanging around backstage, she befriends Warren, who is playing Valentine, and who also occasionally directs for the company. Warren is involved in a stormy romance with Josh, the company’s leading man, who is playing Septimus but announces a few days before opening that he will leave the show due to a “better” opportunity with a touring production of a new musical based on the animated film Fern Gully: The Last Rain Forest. Amidst the antics of fellow cast-mates Cliff, Toby, Bettina, Electra, and Roy, Warren and Josh’s relationship implodes, finally falling apart on opening night of the show. Josh’s departure results in Anya, the company manager, arranging for Warren to direct a dream production of Romeo and Juliet instead of the more cost-efficient Closer he had been slated to direct later that year. Moving on, Warren casts Gwen in the role of Juliet and asks her to help him pick her Romeo.
I wrote the first draft of this play- which was originally three acts!- in about a week. It’s about as close to a stream-of-conscious play as I have ever written and it took three revisions (and the cutting of one character) to get it to a point where it was as sharp and funny as I wanted it to be. “Sharp” being the key word because of all my comedies this is arguably the most biting and satirical. Basically, all of my hate for the small theater community (and there’s a lot that I’ve acquired over 20 years of working in it) was poured into this show, with lampoons of some of my favorite, and least favorite, collaborators and partners, selected from shows and companies past and Frankensteined into the backstage comedy archetypes of the Stage Mother, the New Kid, the Old Salt, the Bit Player, The Ingenue, The Token Person of Color, and so forth. Of course, because I love the theater (and the small theater world in particular) there is also a great deal of pride and love and bittersweet humor poured into the play, and I love all of the characters in this show- even sour, dour Josh and his fierce determination to be a “real” actor, no matter what it might cost him. The closing scene, where Gwen and Warren stand in the empty dressing room, mourning the end of one show and planning the next, epitomizes for me the bittersweet hopefulness of a life in the Arts, where you are between projects more often than you are in them, and where Art itself tends to matter much less than mundane concerns like fame and fortune, and yet for some reason, against all odds, you keep coming back to do it again and again.
A published version of this play exists and can be purchased HERE.
No Nude Men Productions, March 30, 2013, part of the “Behind the Curtain” series at The EXIT Theatre, in San Francisco, California. Directed by Anthony Miller. Cast: John Caldon (Warren), Annika Bergman (Gwen), Peter Townley (Josh), Charles Lewis III (Cliff), Andrew Chung (Roy), Carole Swann (Bettina), Kate Jones (Electra), Anthony Pinggera (Toby), Allene Hebert (Anya), Jeremy Cole (Lance)
No Nude Men Productions, October 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 2014, at the EXIT Stage Left, EXIT Theatre, in San Francisco, California. Directed by Stuart Bousel; Stage Managed by Linda Huang; Art by Cody Rishell; Lighting Design by William Campbell. Cast: Larissa Archer (Anya), Nathan Brown (Josh), Katrina Bushnell (Gwen), Ben Calabrese (Toby), Andrew Chung (Roy), Valerie Fachman (Bettina), Justin Gillman (Warren), Charles Lewis III (Cliff), Brandice Thompson (Electra)