The following are plays that excite me as a director, and for which I am currently seeking production.
GIVE A MAN A MASK – 3-character musical with Book, Music and Lyrics by Richard Isen, recently had a Performance Reading at the York Theater Development Reading Series.
One foggy night in San Francisco, Gregory, a 50-year old gay, semi-retired, psychology consultant with a life long passion for the romantic and glamorous leading ladies of Hollywood's golden age, has a near-death experience and is intruded upon by a mysterious figure -- The Lady. But who is this apparition that has seemingly walked out of the silver screen? An inner guide from the Jungian collective unconscious? A living thought form as described by the Tibetan Buddhists? Or a musical hallucination resulting from a small stroke or an undiagnosed nervous breakdown? Reluctantly guided by his unlikely muse, Gregory is pushed out of his safe, solitary reality and into a turbulent, dangerous relationship with a young and very beautiful male escort named "Chance," that unexpectedly leads him to a deeper understanding of what it means to love.
SPY – The Betrayal of Mata Hari - by Bart Midwood. This seven character play tells the true story of what happened to the world-famous notorious spy, courtesan, and nude dancer performer -- [performing at La Scala, for example, where she became intimate with Puccini]. This work needs to be driven by an extraordinary star performer -- a major actress in her late thirties or early forties who is both sexually and intellectually irresistible. [The recent Russian spy-ring episode is a current incarnation of this world].
Though a passionately loyal French patriot during the First World War, Mata Hari was executed for treason by a reluctant French firing squad for supposedly collaborating with the Germans. This is the official line: what actually happened is tragic: she was set-up both by the Germans [who suspected her true loyalty] and a 61 year old French general -- who's offer to ensconce her as his mistress, she turned down. He gave the execution order. [This play is based on recent research]. I said "extraordinary" performer -- in almost each of her scenes in the play the character must improvise as though dancing on hot coals. The tension is always palpable. It is the role of a lifetime.
MY HUSBAND’S WILD DESIRES ALMOST DROVE ME MAD by John Tobias. This work is a hilarious 5-character (non-prurient) sex comedy that has been -- [and continues to be] -- produced with great success by star performers all over the world. The play is currently scheduled to re-open in Rio de Janiero, where it previously was a long-running popular favorite. The farce is about a middle-aged couple who try to revive their sex life by using improvisational fantasy. [They even involve the reluctant janitor of their building and a maladroit apartment thief with their outrageous scenarios].
2010: Gogol Theatre, Moscow Teatr Bajka, Warsaw [in its third year there - opened 2007] Divadio Theatre, Cieczyb, Czech Republic
2009: Le Theatre Giaza, Tokyo, [starring Japan's internationally celebrated "National Treasure" actress and U.N. Ambassador, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi]
Previously: Theatre Michodiere, Paris; Theatre d'Altigone, Saint-Orens, France; ABC Teatret, Copenhagen; Palladium Theatre, Malmo, Sweden; Jenny Karazi Theatre, Athens; Space Theatre, Capetown, South Africa; Teatro Ginastico, Rio de Janiero; Teatro Candilejas, Buenos Aires. The play has also had some small American regional productions, where it won local awards and has had sold-out runs.
SECOND HAND SMOKE - Stage adaptation by Marsha Sheiness, based on the acclaimed novel by Thane Rosenbaum. What happens when a Mafia Card Sharp, a Nazi Hunter and a Mystic Healer collide? The play, a darkly comic story of healing and redemption, is about the pervasive effects of their parent’s experience on the children of Holocaust survivors. [Cast of 12].
THE MORINI STRAD – by Willy Holtzman. Inspired by the true incident of the theft of a Stradivarius violin from the world famous violin virtuoso, Erica Morini, this beautiful two-hander explores in depth the cost of being an artist to the lives of the performer and a superb violin maker craftsman.
THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY – A new stage adaptation by Marsha Sheiness. Inspired by observation of the power for manipulation given to the possessors of beauty, and the potential for addiction to that power, as well as a reading of the uncensored version of the classic novel by Oscar Wilde, I worked with Marsha Sheiness to develop a stagework that speaks to our culture’s obsession with physical appearance. Cast of 8.
THE ANDALUSIAN MARVEL – by Robert Karmon, based on the writings of Cynthia Buchanan, the play is filled with flamenco music in a picaresque theatrical celebration of a fictional hero, Americo Galan -- a man who is a passionate gypsy lover, an eccentric matador, a dauntless rebel haunted by the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War and it’s aftermath under Franco – and who is, most of all, the compulsive fabricator of his own legend. Potential environmental staging invites willing audience members to actively participate In the action. Basic cast of about 10, plus audience members.
THE TREASURE – a new musical adapted from the Yiddish classic comedy by David Pinski that was produced on Broadway by the Theatre Guild in the 1920’s as well as in a famous European production by Max Reinhardt. Book by Marsha Sheiness, Lyrics by Steve Liebman and Music by Danny Ashkenasi. With a cast of 12, the play with a Mark Twain-like flair tells the story of the contagious forest-fire-like effect of the discovery of some buried coins in the local cemetery of a small village, and how the poorest young girl in town rides the rumors to her own advantage. Cast of about 12.
VINDICATION – The Trials of John Cooke by Robert Karmon – Set at the time of Oliver Cromwell, the play tells the true story of the courageous lawyer, John Cooke, who brought King Charles the 1st to trial for crimes against his subjects – establishing to the cost of his own life the principle that not even a King can be above the law. Cast of 10.