My tenth play has just been published by Pioneer Drama Service. The Enchanted Bookshop is my love letter to classic literature and the power of reading. Also spitwads. Spitwads can be powerful too.
Here's the synopsis:
During the day, A Likely Story may look like any other used bookstore. But at night, it’s a place where magic happens. That’s when the characters inside the books come alive. Six of those characters — Dorothy Gale, Robin Hood, Pollyanna, Sherlock Holmes, Heidi, and Tom Sawyer — long to help Margie, the scatterbrained owner, save her struggling store. But they’re not allowed to leave the building or be seen by human eyes. So when a pair of smugglers comes looking for a stolen necklace hidden inside one of the books, the characters are torn. Should they warn Margie and risk disappearing forever? Or can they find a way to defeat the crooks without being seen? Featuring additional appearances by such beloved literary characters as the Queen of Hearts, Long John Silver, and Doctor Dolittle, this charming comedy celebrates the joy of reading in a fresh, fun-filled way.You might wonder how I chose those main characters. Well, it's a little complicated.
First off, I had to decide on the number of main charaters, and six just seemed right. Four wouldn't give enough opportunity for interaction. Eight would be unwieldy.
Next was the gender. Although I've been striving to include more female roles in my plays, for this one, I wanted an even number of male and females among the main parts. (Don't worry. I include more females for the secondary roles.)
So who to chose? A legal argument can be made that I have a right to use copyrighted characters (Jon Scieszka did so in his hilarious middle-grade novel Summer Reading Is Killing Me!), but not all lawyers may see it that way. Wanting to stay far away from any courtroom, I decided to limit my choices to those in the public domain.
I also wanted characters who would be easily recognized by audience members as soon as they appear on stage. And I was aiming for a variety of ages, nationalities and personalities.
The guys were easy. Sherlock Holmes would provide the brains, Robin Hood the brawn and Tom Sawyer the spunk.
The girls were a little tougher. I would have loved to include Pippi Longstocking, but she's still under copyright protection. So is Laura Ingalls.
Peter Pan's Wendy and Wonderland's Alice are in the public domain, but I've never found them to be particularly strong. In their books, they let things happen to them rather than the other way around.
Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame) is a strong character, but audience members might have difficulty recognizing her. The same goes for Caddie Woodlawn, Sara Crewe (A Little Princess) and Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden).
Fortunately, Dorothy Gale--one of the all-time great children's book characters--recently came into the public domain. Clever and brave, she serves as the real hero among the book characters.
I cheated a little bit with Pollyanna. People would recognize her more from the old Disney movie than the book, but what a personality she's got! What could I do but make her the ever peppy cheerleader for the team?
For the last one, I decided on Heidi. As portrayed in the books, she doesn't have a particularly strong personality, but I decided to play up her melodramatic side (or am I thinking of Shirley Temple?). And I can't wait to hear that accent onstage. I've had French, Italians and Russians in my plays. Why not a German-speaking Swiss girl? (It's okay, most of my ancestors were German.)
The Enchanted Bookshop has a cast of 23 (8M/9F and 6 roles that can be either) and runs about 60 minutes. To learn more, click here.