Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hot off the Press! Available now at the Drama Book Shop

by Ron Blicq

“How closure is finally achieved makes this a gripping drama of four generations – and how the youngest can bring out the best in the oldest.”--The Visitor, Guernsey, UK

Donald Barlow, who lives in Nottingham, England, decides to search for his father who, he has discovered, was a visiting Canadian serviceman during World War II. Following his mother’s death, Donald engages a search agency to find his father (Gordon Devereaux) and establish contact. But when the agency does find Devereaux, the elderly man vehemently denies his involvement with Donald’s mother and categorically refuses to meet the man who claims to be his son.

Donald’s journalist daughter Claire refuses to give up and, using her married name, flies to Canada to meet and interview Devereaux. She takes her nine-year-old son with her (who actually is Devereaux’s great-grandson) and a unique and unexpected friendship develops between the crusty old man and the boy. Although Claire had not intended to reveal the connection between them, she now privately telephones her father and suggests he fly to Canada. Yet her secret plan is shattered when the boy tells Devereaux things about his family, from which the old man deduces the connection and recognizes he has been duped. This sets in motion a vicious and seemingly irreversible conflict between Claire and Devereaux.

The two men do eventually face each other, but both are angry and unforgiving.

Winner of the 2008 Samuel French Canadian Playwrights Competition

Character Descriptions:
DONALD BARLOW- Donald is 54 and is manager of a major bank in Nottingham, England. He is very competent, very knowledgeable, and very good at his work. He is happily married to Daphne, and they have two children: Claire and Kevin; we meet only Claire. They also have one grandchild: Gordie, who is Claire’s son, and a major character in the play. Although a competent decision-maker at work, he prefers to defer to Daphne when decisions are needed at home. He is an easygoing man who seems to have everything going for him, but nevertheless feels there is a ‘hole’ in his life; that something is missing. He has never known his father, other than being told his father’s first name. His mother (Wendy Barlow) died 12 months before the play opens. Donald was born as the result of a love affair she had with a Canadian flyer, but who disappeared from her life immediately after the war and without knowing she was pregnant. She never married, and worked two jobs to ensure her son received a good education. She was 18 in 1945. Donald was born in February 1946.

DAPHNE BARLOW - Daphne is 51 and is rather conscious of her and Donald’s social position (he isn’t concerned, but phlegmatically let’s her be that way). She loves her husband in a somewhat abstracted but protective way. Her children grew to resent her over-protectiveness, so moved out earlier than they might have done. She trained to be an accountant (she and Donald met at the bank), but on marriage chose to remain at home and bring up her children. Since they left, she has joined a church community group, which she now runs because she is a good organizer and other members let her do it. Her tendency to be outspoken, and to correct speakers if they make a language error, sometimes disturbs people.

CLAIRE SUMMERS - Claire is 28. She has graduated with a degree in journalism and is now a research writer for The Source, a middle-road magazine that prints high-quality human-interest stories. She is very good at her work and is well respected in the journalism field. She is strong-willed, sometimes rash. She loves her father, but only ‘likes’ her mother (she resents how her mother controls her father and has controlled her and her brother). When engaged on a project, she is strongly dedicated, self-driven and objective-seeking (a trait her son has inherited from her). This sometimes causes her to be rather brusque when dealing with people – a trait she recognizes and so takes care to “work” her interviews and the people she is interviewing. She adores her son and is not in any way using him to make a connection with Gordon Devereaux. She talks to him as if he’s an adult (she has never used baby language with him) and encourages him in his endeavours, even pushing him beyond his age. She is married to Malcom, a laid-back individual who is seldom home (during the time period of the play he is in Africa). She recognizes now that the marriage was a mistake and will sue for divorce when he is next in the UK.

GORDIE SUMMERS - Gordie is an active, well-spoken nine-year-old; articulate, very friendly, likeable, and approachable. Some people might think he is precocious, but his forwardness is a natural interest rather than being pushy. He speaks and thinks beyond his years. He knows nothing about his great-grandfather and the connection his grandfather is trying to make. Gordie admires his grandfather (Donald), likes to talk sports with him—they occasionally go to a soccer match together—but doesn’t do other things with him. His grandmother (Daphne) tends to relate more to him and caters to his exploratory mind. When something interests him, he is unshakably goal-oriented.

GORDON DEVEREAUX - Gordon is the most complex character in the play. He is now 75, having joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at age 18 (1942). He trained as a pilot and flew deHavilland Mosquito aircraft, first as a low-level intruder and later as a Bomber Command Pathfinder, dropping flares over target areas to guide the bombers flying far above. In late 1944 he led a special raid on a castle near Bruges, to release special prisoners. During the war he saw the devastation, pain and death caused by German bombing in Britain, and then experienced real concern over the damage and death he was causing to the people in German towns. After the war he “closed the book” on his wartime flying and never discussed it with anyone, not even his wife and their two daughters. After the war he attended the University of British Columbia and obtained a degree in Forestry. He then entered the family lumber and forestry farming business, and eventually became Owner and Director. He ran the business well, and has a natural ability to manage a company and see the direction in which it should be going. He is also accustomed to having his own way and tends to be irascible when challenged or his efforts are thwarted. He is highly respected in the Vancouver social community, and is Commodore of the distinguished Horseshoe Bay Yacht Club. He and his wife Helen have a comfortable home in North Vancouver. They have two daughters who now live in the US, and two granddaughters, also in the US.

HELEN DEVEREAUX - Now 71, Helen once was a beautiful woman and still carries her age well. She came from a well-to-do family and was the eldest daughter. She has inherited her family’s feeling for stability and prominence in the community. She and Gordon have had a successful marriage and enjoy a now-distant but good relationship with their two daughters. Helen has a hobby—she runs a successful fashion boutique in West Vancouver, but is seldom seen in the shop, preferring to do the buying and be a “silent partner.” She also is active with Oxfam. She is a good decision-maker, with good reason: she thinks through a problem thoroughly and makes a decision before taking action or speaking her thoughts.

PAUL HOOGSTRA - Although 47-year-old Paul Hoogstra is essentially a businessperson, he does not have the strong, objective drive of the true entrepreneur. He likes people, likes helping them, and likes what he has to do. He does not, however, enjoy making the contacts with the fathers in Canada, whom he finds to be brutally against what he is trying to achieve.

Drama. 4m, 3f. Unit Set. Acting Edition. $10.95.

by Bridget Carpenter

“A brilliant play…original, poignant, moving, sad and funny. I have rarely sat in a theater audience that laughed so hard at one moment and, at the next, sat so still you'd swear you could hear the actors' hearts beating together on stage.”--Eugene Register-Guard

“The incredible and beautiful conclusion leaves the audience thinking, philosophizing and talking in the car all the way home…a perfect mix of comedy and drama.”--Grants Pass Daily Courier

“Not only has the playwright nailed the ultra-cool cadence of the next generation, but she also has captured an essential truth about the lure of the impossible dream, its freedom and its danger.”--Mercury News

Up invites us into the life of Walter Griffin, a failed inventor obsessed with Philippe Petit’s famed 1974 wire-walk between the twin World Trade Center towers. Walter’s greatest moment of glory – a flight on a lawn chair festooned with helium balloons – is now long behind him, though Walter dreams of inventing something wonderful once more. His wife, Helen, has become disillusioned and frustrated at being the family’s only breadwinner. Their teenage son, Mikey, harbors dreams of his own: after befriending Maria, a pregnant girl in his class, Mikey becomes involved in her family’s phone sales business, with surprising results. When Walter finally takes a job, Mike keeps his a secret, and Helen allows herself to dream of a more secure life. But when Helen discovers the truth about Walter’s employment, it becomes clear to this family that life itself is lived on a wire not unlike Petit's, this one strung between happiness and sadness.

Up is part of the upcoming 2008-2009 Steppenwolf Theatre Company season directed by Anna D. Shapiro, Tony-award winning director of Steppenwolf’s critically acclaimed production of August: Osage County, currently playing on Broadway.

Character descriptions:
Walter Griffin, 44
Helen Griffin, 38
Mikey Griffin, 15
Maria, 16
Aunt Chris, 35-55
Philippe Petit, 35-50
Student, 16
Firefighter, 20-30
Helen’s Mother, 50
Student, UPS Man, and Firefighter are played by the actor who plays Philippe Petit.
Helen’s Mother is played by the actor who plays Aunt Chris.

Dramatic Comedy. 3m, 3f. Unit Set. Acting Edition. $10.95.

Flamingo Court
Luigi Creatore

“Laughs galore! Without question, the funniest play in New York today! A ‘must-see’ theatrical event for audiences of all ages. Powerhouse performances from Anita Gillette and Jamie Farr.”--UPI

This three part “slice of life” takes place in three different condos and has audiences laughing at the truth they see in what might be their own neighbors - only zanier. Flamingo Court has ten characters. In the New York production, five actors played all the roles. Producers may want to follow the above pattern, or cast up to ten actors. In any case, audiences respond to this trilogy with uproarious laughter and leave feeling they have experienced great entertainment.

ANGELINA, in 104, is a Neil-Simonesque three character piece that starts with smiles and grows into a hilarious, audience-howling ending.

CLARA, in 204, is the shortest (ten to twelve minutes) piece. It deals with two characters in a poignant look at the problems of aging and separation. Powerful theater!

HARRY, in 304, a five character play - and the wackiest - deals with an eighty-nine year-old gentleman who is battling his greedy daughter at the same time that he gets involved with an aging hooker. When the daughter and the hooker meet “the audience laughs up a Florida-worthy hurricane!” (John Simon, Bloomberg News)

Comedy. 3m, 2f, with doubling (Character ages range from 60s to 89. 5 to 10 actors may be used depending on doubling or tripling roles.) Acting Edition. $10.95.


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