Giant Bones

category: full-length adaptation
genre: fantasy
running time: 2 and a half hours
setting: An Unnamed World
period: A period equivalent to the late Renaissance

The Jiril, lord of the city
Selsim, an adventurer
The Giantess, one of the last of her people
Trygvalin, a comedic actor
A Farmer’s Wife
A Brewer’s Wife
Bourjic, a despotic aristocrat
Two Soldiers, his henchmen
Lanak, a magician
Dwyla, his wife
The Queen, an aspiring magician
Lord Durgh, her henchmen
Two Courtiers, working in the palace
Brij, a young actor
Deshka, an ingenue with blonde hair
Mazraak, a tragic actor
Kydra, an ingenue with brown hair
Chachak, a handsome actor
Dardis, the head of a theater company
Nususir, a character actress
Lisonje, a diva
The King, lord of a distant realm
Majak, his henchman
A Peasant Girl
Sharm, a peasant woman
Tai-Sharm, her daughter
A Soldier
Two Handmaidens, working in the palace
The Fish, an enchanter of great skill
The Thief, an adventurer for hire
Gol, the Jiril’s oldest son
Javerie, the Jiril’s dumbest son
Torleg, the Jiril’s nastiest son
Davao, the Jiril’s youngest son
Firial, the Jiril’s daughter
Deh’Kai, the Jiril’s cook
The Jirelle, the Jiril’s wife

In a fictional city, in an unnamed world, a troupe of actors enjoy a residency in a luxurious theater space provided by their aristocratic patron known as the Jiril. There they perform traditional fables and classics (such as the struggle between a power-hungry queen and a good magician), telling stories about the origins of their people (supposedly descended from giants) and distant lands (where a king imprisons a peasant girl who escapes his attempt at a forced marriage with the help of a magic fish). One day their patron asks them to perform an elaborate, hyper-styized play about a king who loses his kingdom, and though Dardis, the company manager, is not a fan of the play he agrees to the production and subsequently agrees to alterations proposed by each of the Jiril’s five children. Eventually the alterations are revealed to be signals starting a local coup lead by the Jiril’s daughter and her lover, who proceed to banish the company for having played a part, however unwittingly and to their advantage, in the over-throw of the establishment. Now a traveling company, Dardis and his actors continue to tell the story as they look for a new home.

author’s comments:
Peter S. Beagle wrote the most influential and important book in my life, The Last Unicorn, so when I read his short story collection Giant Bones it was a huge delight to encounter an archly comic tale of traveling actors that struck me as incredibly on point and an excellent example of his signature style, with deftly drawn characters and mind-blowingly elegant prose. I knew, at once, that it needed to be a play (is there anything that cries “Dramatize me!” as much as a story about actors?) and having been able to secure permission to do so, I set about adapting it. Over the next two years I would write six or seven drafts of the play, stage a small section of it at the San Francisco Theater Festival (under the title “Tai-Sharm and the Great King of Baraquil”), and bring it to the EXIT Theatre in a lavishly produced world premiere that included our set designer turning the space into a faux Renaissance performance hall and our costume designer creating something like sixty outfits, all from scratch. The show had giant puppets, onstage fire (never a good combo), dozens of props, an original score (by Kai Morrison) played each night, live, and was nearly three hours long. Over the first few weeks of the run I would continue to cut and shape the script, till it was finally frozen, now twenty-five minutes shorter, on its tenth performance. It got mostly excellent reviews, including one of the best reviews of my career, one truly scathing one (almost comically so), and sold a lot of tickets but still lost a ton of money. In some ways it is one of my greatest triumphs and one of my biggest failures. It hasn’t been produced since but people inquire about it all the time, and I’m never sure if I want to see it reborn or not. It could probably use one more draft, but then again, that final draft might exorcise everything about it that actually worked. Rather like the main character, Dardis, I let too many cooks in the kitchen influence me, but it was, at the time, the highest profile project of my career and I was learning both the joys and perils of working with a famous writer (who was delightful), his entourage (less so), a huge budget (much larger than I had expected), and a company of actors and designers as excited and scared as I was. There are many things I’d do differently, and yet I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Which is more or less the point of the play.


Jessica Rudholm, Rik Lopes, Sara Briendel, Jay Smith, Warden Lawlor, Katrina Bushnell, Kai Morrison and Christ Struett in the world premiere production.
Jessica Rudholm, Rik Lopes, Sara Breindel, Jay Smith, Warden Lawlor, Katrina Bushnell, Kai Morrison, and Chris Struett in the world premiere production.

No Nude Men Productions/Conlan Media, May 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, June 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 2010 at the EXIT Theatre in San Francisco, California. Adapted by Stuart Bousel from the book by Peter S. Beagle; Directed by Stuart Bousel; Assistant Directed by Seanan Palmero; Set Design by Joshua Saulpaw; Lighting Design by Will Turner IV; Costume Design by Jennifer Pokas; Props and Puppets by Lanie Wieland; Music by Kai Morrison; Sound Design by Jim Lively; Artwork by Ann Monn; Marketing by Connor Cochran. Cast: Mikka Bonel (Deshka/Tai-Sharm/Dwyla), Sara Eve Breindel (Nususir/Farmer’s Wife/Giantess/Handmaiden/The Jirelle), Katrina Bushnell (Kydra/Peasant Girl/Handmaiden/Brewer’s Wife/Davao), Warden Lawlor (Trygvalin/The Fish/Soldier/Javerie), Rik Lopes (Dardis/Lanak/The King), Kai Morrison (Mazraak/Bourjic/Majak/Torleg), Paul Rodrigues (Chachak/Lord Durgh/The Thief/Deh’Kai), Jessica Rudholm (Lisonje/The Queen/Sharm), Jay Smith (The Jiril), Chris Struett (Brij/Selsim/Soldier/Gol).

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