Works-In-Progress

AcrossTown
(A full-length play)

A mid-western woman comes to New York to break up with her adulterous husband just before the attack on the World Trade Center.  She’s at LaGuardia when the airport is shut down.  So are all the other airports in New York City and around the country.  Hotels are quickly booked and as a last resort she is invited home to stay with her Muslim taxi driver and his family.  There are twin sons:  one an ardent capitalist who escapes a tower collapse; the other a radical Islamist who may have been involved in the attack.

For three days, Charlene Crawford enters a different world.  One son stumbles home covered in the white dust of ashes and powdery human remains  The following morning, money has been left at the door.  Though the mystery of who left the money is not solved, it may have been reward money.    The FBI comes twice to the home, and in an interesting twist, the optimist throughout the play—a professor of world religions—turns out to be the most despairing of them all.

There are SFX and voice overs throughout the play, the latter being actual words (though not voices) spoken by people in the twin towers, newscasts from America and the Arab world, a 9-1-1 situation room, call-in radio, etc.

The play’s name reflects how geographically close we have all become.   Brooklyn is across town from Manhattan.  With air travel, social media,  and such, much of the planet is now AcrossTown.

(WGA:  R22344)

Play Excerpt (PDF)


 

Time After Time

 (a series of one act plays about war)

American Cemetery in Normandy, France

Though the tentative title conjures up memories of the popular jazz standard of the same name, it is used here in a more despairing tone.  Time after time after every war we say there won’t be another one, but there always is.

The five one act plays folded under the title explore moments and themes in World War I, the aftermath of World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam, and a time in the future, when, as in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karmazov, Jesus is hauled into prison and berated for the mistakes he made when challenged in the New Testament by the devil.  The new  world order is correcting those mistakes.

Act I: “The Sash Our Fathers Wore”

The Ulster Division (1915)

The WWI tale is about a Protestant Belfast boy in a hospital who will die by morning.  His unconscious awakens and he discovers that a young Catholic nun is keeping vigil for him throughout the night.  Should he accept her prayers?  What would his father say?

He was part of the 36th Ulster Division, who served on the Western Front in World War I.  During the Battle of the Somme their losses were heavy, and they are remembered still in Northern Ireland as heroes.

The men went out over the trenches singing “The Sash my Father Wore,” a ballad commemorating a 16th century victory of the Protestants over the Catholics.

Act II: Brot (German for “bread”)

Hermann Goering, a close aide to Adolph Hitler

The play takes place in the immediate aftermath of World War II, during the 1946-1947 Nuremburg Trials.  One of the prosperous baker’s sons, through his relentless research as the Berlin library, discovers that his father’s fathers wealth was due to a pact he had made with the Nazi’s.  A “devil’s pact.”

 Act III: Secrets of the Soul

A test nuclear explosion at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands (July 25, 1946)

Act III consists of pictures and oral interviews with Americans of all ages I conducted in the late 1980s regarding their fears about a nuclear war.

This act consists of actual photographs and the recorded words of some of the most humorous and poignant of these interviews.   Among others, there is a Hopi holy man, a telephone company supervisor for the state of Rhode Island, and a little girl named Molly, who was asked what she would tell the leaders of the world who had nuclear weapons.  She answered, “I’d ask them why they would want to have a war when we’re all having such a wonderful time.” (See, under Newspaper Columns, “Secrets of the Soul.”)

Act IV: The Draft Board

Me with neighborhood children around the time of the draft board ordeal.

Act IV: A young man during the Vietnam War  argues for a conscientious objector status and says, if not granted, he is prepared to go to  jail.  He puts Jesus down as a reference, which of course pisses off some of the board members.

The young man is helped by an unlikely source:  a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel sits on the board and comes to the meeting in uniform. Based almost entirely on my own experience at the draft board in rural central New York during the early years of the Vietnam War.

Act V: Jesus and the  New World Order

Jesus with Dostoevski’s  Grand Inquisitor (Ilya Glazunov, art)

It’s the future and forces such as the social media has led to world chaos.  A springtime of worldwide democracy was hoped for, rampaging anarchy became the reality.  Unbridled greed also disrupts the world economy and a global depression has occurred–on a far more vast and devastating scale known to man.

Aside from the world’s youth, who remain largely idealistic and hopeful, a police state has emerged.  Jesus comes back to earth, drawn by the unprecedented murder and mayhem.  The world’s new dictator  sees Him perform a miracle and Jesus is thrown in prison.  Throughout the night, with the same condescension and ruthlessness of the Grand Inquisitor, Jesus is berated for his foolish responses to the devil’s temptations in the Bible.  Those responses, says the dictator, have resulted in the world’s current apocalyptic fate.

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