Thursday, June 30, 2022

Whole Latte Love is now available!

Today is a great day. For the first time in two years, I have a new play out. I've discussed the reason for the dry spell before. But now it's officially over. I've got two more plays coming out this year (one from Pioneer, one from Heuer), a third play out for submission, and I'm close to finishing a fourth play.

So this promises to be my most productive year ever. And I don't know why. I have a very demanding day job, a noisy household, terrible sleep habits--and yet, when I sit down at the end of the day to write, all that goes away and the words just flow.

It only took me 59 years to get here. 

I think high schools and community theaters will have a lot of fun with this play. Whole Lotta Love is a sweet comedy filled to the brim with rapid-fire one-liners, over-the-top physical humor, and rich, quirky characters.

And yet I made sure it was easy to produce as possible. The play requires only minimal props, simple costumes, and a single set. With its two acts, it runs around 60 to 70 minutes and features of cast of 13 (a very flexible 5M/8F).

But the theme is what I'm most proud of. As the title suggests, this is a play about love in its many forms, how we demonstrate that love, and what kinds of things can get in its way. 

Here's the blurb:

Whole Latte Love is a coffee shop with a catchy slogan: "Where There's Magic in Every Cup." Only it's more than just a tagline. Each one of Isla's six special blends really has a magical power -- if only for the duration of the cup. 

Fuzz Buster turns you into a genius. Chill Pill relieves you of all your worries. Cupid's Arrow is a love potion. Miracle Manna fills even the emptiest belly. Ponce de Leon makes you feel twenty years younger. And Veritas acts like a truth serum. 

With "perks" like that, it's no wonder this coffee shop has such loyal customers! But Isla finds herself in hot water with her landlord, who gives her an ultimatum: pay the three months of back rent she owes or he'll evict her.

Isla hires "perk"-y Shelly to fill in while she boss ducks out to meet with loan officers. But when an overzealous health inspector flusters Shelly on her first day, she mixes up the coffees, leading to a hilarious "brew"-haha as each customer is served the wrong blend.

Will Shelly spill the beans about the magic coffee? Will Isla save the shop? And why is the landlord suddenly acting like a five-year-old? Don't worry, be frappé! Love and laughter are sure to win in this frothy, fast-paced comedy!

For ordering info or to read a free sample, please visit the play's web page.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Ontario theater proves its generosity

The last two years of social distancing have been rough of small town community theaters. Some closed for good. Some went on hiatus. And many, through a combination of creativity and grit, survived.

And then there's Hanover Community Theatre of Hanover, Ontario. As reported in the Wiarton Echo, they not only survived, they thrived. So much so that they were recently honored with the Not For Profit Excellence Award by their town's Chamber of Commerce.

They donate $1 from each adult ticket to local charities like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hanover and the Hanover Housing Support Program. During the pandemic, they sold a lot of them.

How did they do it? The same way so many theaters thrived: by learning to stream their shows.

Their first online production was Pioneer Drama Service's Ho Ho Ho! The North Pole Chronicles. As it turns out, they had a lot to learn. One big challenge was getting the actors to take turns when talking (never easy!).

"We also had tech problems like Internet connection issues out in the country," said HCP Chair Jenn Hillier. "It could be difficult to get everyone acting to focus and be audible."

But they eventually solved their problems, following up that show with my own You're Virtually Driving Me Crazy!

"Two weens ended up being two years," said Hillier. "But even though COVID we kept running plays any way we could do so.

A well-earned award indeed.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Kiwi dinosaurs come to life!

Tena koutou!

My new comedy The Real Reason Dinosaurs Went Extinct premiered in New Zealand at the end of April, and as much as I would have loved to travel to that stunningly beautiful country to see it, it just wasn't possible at this time. I like to blame it on their COVID restrictions, but the truth is I'm too poor.

So I did the next best thing. I contacted Gemma Shapleski, who runs the Wellington performing arts school where it was performed, and asked her to send me some photos.

Somehow, Gemma manages to put rhe shows together in just four days. That includes rehearsal, set building, costume making, and the performance. Gemma says the short rehearsal period makes her job easier. The kids seem to retain things better this way.

That may be true. But I thing the real reason is that Gemma and her talented staff of teachers are amazing.

I told Gemma to keep the costumes simple. There's no need to make complicated animal costumes, just baseball caps and T-shirts. This worked out great because it gave the kids an opportunity to decorate their costumes themselves, designing and attaching their own eyes and teeth.

The key in differentiating between the various animal groups was in the colors of these items. Green for the plant-eating dinosaurs.

Black for the meat-eating dinosaurs.

And brown for the oh-so-cute mammals (shrews, to be specific).

The play takes place in three separate locations: Fernville (the verdant home of the Plant Eaters), the Crags (the rocky abode of the Meat Eaters), a laboratory, and a classroom.

This could have been challenging since the show was performed in a very low-tech community hall (Gemma's words, not mine), but they made it work with just a few simple set pieces. Like the pine tree in the above picture (yes, Antarctica, where the play takes place, had pine trees in the Late Cretaceous Period!).

Or the whiteboard and rocks (seen on the edge of the stage) in the picture below.

The props are pretty easy too. There's the broken dinosaur model which clumsy young Snaggleclaw breaks, leading him to approach the two scientists, Professor Broadbeak and Doctor Duckbill.

And of course, the telescope through which the three of them first view the asteroid on a collision course with earth.

Gemma reported that the play was a roaring success (pun very much intended). The kids had a lot of fun and there was a ton of laughter from the audience.

Ka pai, everyone!

If you'd like me to email you a free perusal copy of the script, just email me here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Belmont diary: It's a Madhouse! to be published

I thought the three weeks it took An Enchanted Bookshop Christmas to get accepted for publication fast, but It's a Madhouse! blew that away. It took just seven days from when I submitted the play To pioneer Drama Service to them accepting it.

And I couldn't be happier. Not just for me, but for the kids and faculty at Belmont Day School who worked so hard to bring the play to life. I know it'll mean a lot to them to see their names as part of the world premiere credit in the script.

It'll be interesting to see how this play does. As I've said in my previous posts chronicling its development, the play was specifically written to meet school Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion requirements. It also has a massive cast--40 actors in total. It's one of the biggest full-length plays Pioneer has ever published. I know it's the biggest one I've published.

The script should be released in time for school this fall. In the meantime, let me tease you with this scene introducing the first of literally dozens of intruders who threaten the Pembroke family's search for the treasure:

HOBSON (Opens UPSTAGE DOOR. GEORGE and HARRIET ENTER, holding novels.): May I help you?

HARRIET: Look at this place, George. Isn't it just a dream?

GEORGE: Oh, it's more than a dream, Harriet. It's an absolute vision!  

HARRIET: This is exactly how I pictured his house, you know. All ominous and spooky.

GEORGE: Spooky indeed. In fact, I might almost call it "sinister."

HOBSON: Excuse me. Is there someone you'd like to see?

HARRIET: Oh, yes. Byron Pembroke, please. We're his biggest fans.

HARRIET and GEORGE hold up their novels.

HOBSON: I'm sorry, but Mr. Pembroke is... indisposed.

HARRIET: That's all right. We'll wait right here until he's disposed again.

HARRIET and GEORGE start toward the sofa.

HOBSON: No, no, no! Don't sit down!

HARRIET (Sits.): Oh, but we must. Our feet are simply pounding.

GEORGE (Sits next to HARRIET.): They're a virtual symphony of pain.

HOBSON: All right, fine. He's dead.

HARRIET: Who's dead?

HOBSON: Mr. Pembroke. The man you're waiting for.

HARRIET: Well, that was rather sudden.

HOBSON: Actually, it happened several days ago. 

HARRIET: Oh, dear! And to think we never got to tell him how much his books have meant to us! Isn't that tragic, George?

GEORGE: More than that. It's a genuine cataclysm of sorrow.

HOBSON: And now that you've made that point abundantly clear, I really must insist that you leave—

HARRIET: Oh, we can't leave.

HOBSON: What do you mean you can't leave?

HARRIET: Didn't you hear? The bridge is out.

HOBSON: Surely you're joking.

HARRIET: He doesn't believe me. George, dear, would you tell this nice manservant about the bridge?

GEORGE: Oh, you should have seen it. It was a disaster of the highest magnitude!

HOBSON (Calls OFF LEFT.): Mr. Pembroke!

HARRIET: I thought he was dead.

HOBSON: What? Oh, uh, Mr. Pembroke is dead. I mean that Mr. Pembroke is dead. I'm calling the other Mr. Pembroke. The one that isn't dead.

If you want to know when the play is released, keep checking back here. You'll be the first to know.