I love writing westerns. My second play, a one-act comedy titled Long Tall Lester, came out in 2012 and it's been doing very well, getting about 15 productions a year. In it, a mild-mannered encyclopedia salesman defeats an evil gunslinger using brains instead of brawn.
For a long time, I've wanted to follow that up with a full-length western, only this time I wanted to do one without guns. As any writer knows, a gun can make any dramatic situation more... well, dramatic. But it can also be a crutch, short-circuiting the tension that should arise from the characters themselves.
Plus, I wanted this play to be producible by everyone from grade school to high school. And in my opinion, prop guns just aren't appropriate for those younger folk.
I racked my brain for months, striving to come up with a weapon that would be deadly but also kid-friendly.
And then it hit me: smelly feet. Funny, no? And, if you spend any time at my house, you know they can be just as deadly as any chambered weapon.
The play came together pretty quickly after that. I created Malodorous Mel and the Stinky Feet Gang. I created Rose Peddles and the other flower-named shopkeepers of Garden City. Then I set them against each other, and pretty soon they were running away with the story, battling each other with lemon juice and clothespins and, in the end, a pretty nasty concoction (suggested only--don't worry, your theatre won't smell like a locker room!).
The play has, I think, some very funny scenes. But it's not just about the gags. Lately, I've also been trying to sneak a small lesson into each of my plays, and the lesson here is about teamwork and persistence (with a little bit of hygiene thrown in).
As Rose explains, everyone in Garden City wants to get rid of the shopkeepers. First it was the cowboys. Then it was the sheriff. Now it's the outlaws. But by working together and standing up for what they believe it, the seven feisty women (echoes of the Magnificent Seven!) prove their worth.
So I was thrilled when Pioneer Drama Service told me yesterday that they were going to publish it: my ninth play with them.
The play should come out around December. Until then, I'll give you a taste (or should I say whiff?) of my favorite scene, in which Malodorous Mel explains to his underlings why they're the most feared gang in the territory:
MALODOROUS MEL: Now the Bad Breath Gang, they didn't have commitment. Sure, they refused to brush their teeth. But when push came to shove, they weren't above having an occasional breath mint.
NOXIOUS NICK: Shameful!
MALODOROUS MEL: And the Awful Armpit Gang. They didn't have commitment either. Not only did they take a bath every month, but I once caught them using deodorant!
RANCID RON: Horrors!
MALODOROUS MEL: And that's why we never take our boots off. Taking our boots off would let our feet breathe, and we don't want them to breathe. We want them to molder and fester and rot until they make everyone in the immediate vicinity sick!I can't wait to see the cover art for this one.