Thursday, January 30, 2014
So, I undertook the project, wrote a script, gave it to the Canyon Theatre, and nobody liked it very much. But that never stops me. I took some notes, tightened it up, added some jokes, and sent it off to several play publishing companies. Eldridge liked it, however, they already have a Mummy script -- "Mummy Dearest", I believe. But, the newcomer play company Big Dog Plays scooped up the project.
I love the cover art:
The show runs about sixty minutes -- and I've been tinkering with an extended version (although that project has been turning into something very different -- but more on that later).
Find out more about Tuesdays with Mummy.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I've always loved stories such as Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, and of course more modern kid's books such as the Harry Potter series. But you know what I've never liked? CSI television shows. It started off with just one show -- then they spun off with CSI Miami and CSI New York, and some CSI Navy show or something. And I thought it was a ridiculous amount of over-kill worthy of being lampooned.
So, that was the origin of CSI:Neverland.
So far this has become my most popular show -- mainly because I full-on embrace silliness. And I had such a fun time creating the Peter character -- this obnoxious, fun-loving man-child that has unlimited energy. I've had the pleasure of watching several schools perform the play -- and each time, the director did a brilliant job of casting the right kid to play the lead role.
Check out this awesome commercial that some students posted on YouTube:
And here's a brief scene which someone kindly posted:
CSI: Neverland is available at Heuer Plays.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
During the run of the show, I began to create a spoof of the play's ending. I thought, what would happen if after Romeo drinks the poison, and Juliet supposedly kills herself, what if Romeo woke up and wasn't really dead? From there, I concocted a ten-minute play that might be the funniest solid ten minutes I've ever written.
Heuer Publishing scooped up the script. They have a growing library of ten-minute plays -- and so I was encouraged to create another one. So, I came up with "Hopeless Hamlet." The premise of this ten-minute gem is that a student production of "Hamlet" goes horribly wrong when the ghost comes down with stage fright.
Both shows have been popular at regional and state-wide drama competitions. And I'm proud to say, "Romeo Revised" has won several awards!
Check out Romeo Revised...
and get preview of Hopeless Hamlet.
Friday, January 24, 2014
It's one of those shows where I suddenly came up with the title first, and the rest of the play wrote itself. I had written more than my share of princess stories:
Sleeping Beauty and the Beast
Cinderella in New York
Mermaid in Miami
I started to realize that I was retelling fairy tales but setting them in a particular time and place. So why not those Disco Dancin' 1970s?
The show is a great deal of fun. It's not a musical, but drama teachers and performers are encouraged to include dance numbers if they wish to get down and boogie -- which I highly recommend.
Writing the Dwarves was the most enjoyable challenge, because I wanted them each to have their own 70s flavor. My favorite: the "Grumpy" dwarf is named Nixon.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
So, without someone to help me with the orchestration, I began to think of other ways of telling a western story. One of those ways became Cowboys and Idiots -- the cowboy movie Joshua and I made back in 2004. Another story was forming in my mind simultaneously. I took the basic storyline of "Much Ado About Nothing" and set it in the old west at the end of the Civil War. It's a fun, battle-of-the-sexes comedy that has been well-received amongst school and community theaters.
The world premiere of "Much Ado Out West" (published by Eldridge Plays) took place at the Fresno Christian High School (pictured above). But teen-agers aren't the only ones to perform the show. A group of senior citizens performed "Much Ado Out West" for their theater group in Independence, Missouri.
You can also catch a glimpse of the most violent square dance since the time Bugs Bunny abused those poor hillbillies.
What a copy of the script or licensing information? Visit Eldridge Plays.
Monday, January 20, 2014
I know, that sounds a little fishy. (Sorry, I couldn't resist the pun.) Seriously though, I thought Ariel was adorable.
I had quite the animated crush on the two-dimensional mermaid. But as much as I loved the Disney cartoon, I also knew that it did not follow-through on the original ending. So, I began thinking of ways to revisit Hans Christian Andersen.
The result: Mermaid in Miami. On the one hand, this script is just as fun and silly as my other ones. But there are other things going on in this children's play as well. For one, I based some of the conflict off of the crisis over Elia Gonzalez -- the little boy who's mother died trying to get them to Florida.
The boy fell in love with his American relatives, but was then returned to his father in Cuba. Also in the play, an old-man-man-and-the-sea Ernest Hemmingway character. And finally, Breeze, the mermaid -- she experiences a sad, but hopefully uplifting ending that is similar (but not entirely faithful) to the original story.
Actor Keith Coogan performed one of the monologues from the play. Check it out:
Interested in reading the script? Visit Eldridge Plays.
Saturday, January 18, 2014
And now, I had not only a wife, but a beautiful baby girl. Josh was married -- and I was starting to teach my college classes. The era of directing children's plays (especially in Orange County) had faded. But I wasnt too sad about this because our last show had been such a satisfying way to end our directing days.
But, I was still anxious to write children's plays. Eldridge had published four plays, and I wanted to keep it going. So, I started kicking around ideas for a new show -- not to direct, just to write. Then, Sept. 11th happened. For months afterward all eyes, thoughts, and prayers were on New York City. And that's what prompted me to write "Cinderella in New York."
Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't write some type of tribute or homage to the victims of 9/11 -- my plays are too silly and irreverent to ever serve as a memorial for something as tragic as that day. However, after Sept. 11th, I kept thinking of how much I loved New York City, and how sad it made me to think of the city so wounded. So, that led to thoughts about the different eras of New York, and the different struggles the city had undergone. And eventually, I started retelling the story of Cinderella set in Manhattan during the Great Depression.
My friend and former drama student Tracy Buffington directed the show -- oh and Josh appeared during one performance. But this was the first show that I wrote and had no directorial stake in the project. I just showed up and watched the show and had a great time.
Thursday, January 16, 2014
Charles Dickens once compared his books to children. He indicated that deep down, parents have a favorite child. And as to his novels, this is what he said:
"I have in my heart of hearts a favorite child. And his name is David Copperfield."
Well, I disagree with him about playing favorites with your kids. In case my girls are reading this, I love you both equally and absolutely! You're both my favorite!
But I do have a favorite play -- at least so far. And her name is "A Midsummer Night's Dream: The Musical." This labor of love began around early 1999. I had been finishing up my Masters at CSUN. I had been married for a few years. I hadn't directed a children's play since 1996. My friend Josh and I were kind of sad that we were entering the grown-up world of paying bills and holding down a career.
Then, Josh and I went to a week long computer training seminar. During the day we learned about Macromedia Flash (the program I use to make my web pages -- for better or worse). Since we had a lot of free time in the evening, we started to brainstorm about another musical. We started to discuss Shakespeare's work, and pretty soon, I started cranking out songs for Midsummer. And, we came up with a really funny aspect of the play --
Puck is the one who decides that she's sick of speaking in iambic pentameter. So she uses her magic to make the characters speak in a modern day manner, with some songs to boot. Then, about 30 minutes into the play, the ghost of William Shakespeare rushes the stage and announces that he has been spinning in his grave ever. Shakespeare and Puck become this hysterical pair. The show transcends typical adaptations and the music, in my not-so-humble opinion, is awesome.
Our musical director was Rachel Greenlee, and she did something very brave. She listened to me sing (if you want to call it that) into a tape recorder, and during the course of three weeks, we created one song after another. I think we added a new song in the final two weeks of rehearsal.
And "Midsummer' became my first, and so far only published musical. It has been performed all over the country, at various middle schools, high schools and community theater. (And I hope people continue to perform it.)
Of course, maybe I shouldn't be so proud of the show. After all, it wouldn't be nearly as good if it wasn't for Shakespeare. Thanks Will!
Last week, we launched our very first creative contest...
To celebrate my new one-act play, StageCraft - The Video Game, I asked Facebook friends and fans of my humble little blog to create mash-ups of video games and Broadway shows.
Well, playwright Ken Preuss and his son Bennet started with one funny image, and they didn't stop there. They generated nearly a dozen hilarious mash-ups, and totally won our first-ever contest.
Check out their work:
I must say, seeing a fully armored Carol Channing blasting space aliens does bring a smile to my face.
Ken and Bennet have won a signed copy of my play "StageCraft" and I am also tossing in one of my favorite old video games (a relic by today's standards that will hopefully work on their computer). Have you played this before?
Details about the next contest are coming soon! Congrats again to our first-ever winners!
PS... I thought the contest was such a fun idea, I made something myself. Here's my meager contribution:
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
English 1B – Short Story Analysis
Responding to the literary works from The Seagull Reader: Stories, write an original +4 page essay that focuses on one of the following prompts:
A) Compare / contrast two characters from a single short story – or compare/contrast two characters from two different stories. In your analysis, consider some of the following: character motivation, choices, reactions, social environment, emotional growth (or lack thereof). It is up to the student to create a focused thesis statement. (Tip: Develop a specific opinion based upon your compare/contrast analysis.)
B) Identify and evaluate the themes from two different short stories. Compare / contrast the messages. Argue whether or not readers can gain any valuable “life lessons” from the story. Should we embrace or reject the story’s philosophical message(s)?
Typed / Double Spaced / MLA Format
Students who incorporate quotes and/or paraphrased material from other sources (aside from the stories) must cite the material and present it on the Works Cited page.
Peer Review: Jan. 29th
Final Draft Due: Feb. 5th
(Bring a Hard Copy to class AND send the essay to my email: email@example.com )
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
I had published a couple cool plays with Eldridge Press -- "Aesop's Hop" and "Jt and the Pirates." I sent an email to the editor -- I think it was Chris Angermann at the time. Anyway, I asked him if there was anything in particular they were looking for. Chris said that they had some Greek Mythology stuff, but they didn't have anything about Norse Mythology
Well, I love all sorts of Mythos -- and while I prefer the Greek legends, I was in love with this book by Edgar d'Aulaires. "The d'Aulaires Book of Morse Myths" contained wildly imaginative illustrations and engrossing tales of mythic Scandinavia.
So, right away, I began to create "Vahalla." It was a comic merging of many of my favorite Norse myths. It had Baldur and Loki and Giants and monsters... and a few of my own characters, such as a talking horse named Gunther. And now here's where it gets weird -- if it wasn;t weird enough already. The story is entirely patterned off of my favorite Christmas movie: "It's a Wonderful Life."
I thought it was brilliant. Eldridge liked it too, so they published it. And for some reason it has only been performed once. So, to the drama club who is ahead of their time, I tip my Viking helmet off to Woodland Park Middle School, in Woodland Park Colorado.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
I loved working on this show. Back in the summer of 1995, if memory serves, my friend and fellow Children's Theater Director undertook a truly crazy project.
We had already directed a few children's theater productions. We started with "The Princess and the Magic Pea." This was a typically dull children's play -- and the show was co-directed by another buddy of ours, Tim. He knew that the script was lacking, to say the least, so he asked me to add a couple jokes here and there. (And I believe we tossed in some songs from "Once Upon a Mattress.")
Anyway, we pulled the show together, and had a fun time in the process.
Or actually, if I remember more correctly, we were miserable during the process, but had such a good time after the show opened, we conveniently forgot about all the hard stuff. Anyway, long story longer, Josh and I directed subsequent children's shows, but this time, we wrote our own stuff. The first was "Aladdin and Company," followed by "Sleeping Beauty and the Beast." The shows were successful enough that we wanted to become co-producers. Instead of being paid a stipend, we wanted to risk our fee for whatever profit we made.
And that's when Josh and I came up with the idea to create a Pirate Musical. And oh, it was gloriously ambitious. It was called, "A Pirate's Story." And we had lots of great kids. Lots of funny characters... and about four too many songs (a couple slow ones really should have been cut -- but that;s show-biz). "A Pirate's Story" wasn't perfect -- it needed some trimming here and there, but we didn't have the heart to cut the kids' parts since they had worked so hard. But flaws and all, it was our most financially profitable show.
Eventually, when I my work began to be published by Eldridge Plays, I revised "A Pirate's Story." I took away the songs, making it a non-musical. (A single tear rolls down his cheek.) Actually, I did more than take away the songs -- I rewrote almost every line of dialogue and trimmed lots of scenes, and took away characters, and added other scenes. This was actually a breakthrough for me, because before this manuscript, I HATED revising and would avoid it as much as possible.
I made a script called, "Jenny and the Pirates." The folks at Eldridge loved it, but liked the idea of creating a more masculine title. And so, it became "JT and the Pirates." Of all the shows I've written, it's probably one of the most original. It's not a spoof of anything. It's not an adaptation. It's quite unique, if I say so myself. Oh, and I forgot to mention, even though I took out the songs, I kept a River Dance!
Friday, January 10, 2014
A few years ago the Hilton High School Drama Club presented one of my plays, Sahara Nights. Here's a publicity photo from the school:
This was a fun play to create. The first version of it was written in the early 90s... I'm thinking 1993 or 1994. My buddy Josh and I had been directing children's plays for the Yorba Linda Civic Light Opera. It was originally called "Aladdin and Company" -- it had some great music composed by Katie Luekens and myself. But a few of the songs were spoofs. We had a little number called "Hey Dude!" instead of the Beatles' "Hey Jude."
When I began selling my plays to Eldridge, I revised "Aladdin and Company" and removed the songs. (Unfortunately, they weren't looking for musicals at the time). The result is a fast paced show ideal for middle grade students. there are lots of parts and a lot of laughs.
Sahara Nights features a story about a bored sultan thinking Sahara Scheherazade is auditioning for 'royal entertainer' but she's really trying to get Aladdin out of the dungeon. A quick-thinker, Scheherazade creates captivating stories to gain time ~ "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" becomes "Ali Baba and the Forty-Niners;" "The Adventures of Sinbad" becomes a Star-Trek-inspired spoof with Captain Kork and Mr. Spork; and "The Emperor's New Clothes" deals with the King Himself, Elvis and his advisors, the Beatles. Soon everyone in the kingdom is enthralled with her tales, but will they be enough to save Aladdin and the other prisoners?? Sahara Nights by Wade Bradford is produced by special arrangement with Eldridge Publishing Co.
Recently I noticed that a drama teacher had posted some YouTube video of Sahara Nights. I'm assuming this is a rehearsal, since there aren't very many people in the audience.
Thursday, January 9, 2014
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The biggest change: I got married.
The other big change: I moved from Orange County to Los Angeles.
At first, I thought that I wouldn't be directing another show for the Yorba Linda Civic Light Opera. But, during the year, I kept coming up with some new song idea. And I kept thinking about the various flaws during the last show. I wanted to create something that was really tight, structurally.
And really fun.
And for some reason, I kept thinking of Aesop's Fables -- little stories I had heard throughout my childhood, tales with a clear moral at the end. And, as I thought about the fables of Aesop, I also recalled a story about a dog, a cat, a rooster, and a donkey -- "The Musicians of Bremen." So, I combined all of the material and created "Aesop's Hop." (Here are some photos from a college production... Great costumes, don't you think?)
I felt truly proud of the show. About three or four times a week I drove out from LA to Yorba Linda. But you know what, I didn't mind. The rehearsal process was the smoothest experience I've ever had as a director. The kids were terrific, as usual -- but there was something really harmonious about the songs, something that we didn't quite have in previous shows. Katie Luekens did the music, and I think it was her finest work of all our children's shows.
So we did the show, a couple years passed, and for some reason -- I can't quite remember how or why now -- I submitted it to a publishing company: Eldridge Plays.
I had sent them plays before and they had kindly said, Thanks but no thanks. They also said to keep trying. Well, they loved "Aesop's Hop." They weren't looking for a youth musical -- but they thought the script was great. So it was published as a non-musical. In fact, this was the very first play to be published. I was absolutely thrilled. (I did have irrational visions of it going to Broadway -- ah youthful expectations.)
Strangely, even though it was the first of my plays to be published, it was one of the last of my directorial projects. Still, I look back on the show and the writing experience with utmost fondness. It opened a door into the world of publishing -- and I'm forever grateful to Eldridge Plays for taking on the project!
Learn more about how to bring Aesop's Hop to life at your school and/or theater!
Monday, January 6, 2014
I learned a lot about movies and about criticism from these two authors. And since they loved movies so much, I imagined that it might be quite amusing if they stared in their own movie. So, I wrote a screenplay called "Thumbs Up." It's about two rival movie critics who are on the run from the law, framed for a crime they didn't commit, trapped in a ridiculous plot similar to the bad movies they review.
You may have noticed that this script was never made into a movie -- And sadly it will never star Siskel and Ebert since Mr. Siskel passed away in the late 90s, and Mr. Ebert passed away last year after a long battle with cancer.
Still, I didn't want the project to just remain in my office drawer, like so many of my other screenplays. So, I revamped the script and turned it into a stage play. It was published by Big Dog Plays -- and I'm hoping to watch it at a regional theater someday.
You can read the synopsis and a preview of Thumbs Up at Big Dog Plays.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
And now, back to the original blog-entry (which was written before Tomorrow's Wish was a published play.) I have lots of unpublished manuscripts hanging around my office.
But most of them are old novels or screenplays. I am very fortunate in that most of my plays have been published by either Eldridge Plays, Heuer Plays, or Playscripts or Big Dog Plays. There are a coupl plays that I wrote during my teens that are just plain horrible -- so those will never see the light of day. However, there is a play of mine that I LOVE and it has yet to be published.
That play is Tomorrow's Wish. It's been a labor of love of mine since 2002 when I started kicking the idea around. It is currently being looked at by Eldridge Plays and Heuer Plays. But they haven't gotten back to my yet. (Not with this current draft, anyway.)
It's about a teen named Megan (named after my niece) who dreads the idea of her eccentric cousin Juniper coming over for a visit. In the first drafts, Juniper was a very loving, mentally handicapped 16 year old girl.
And this is perhaps where the first major problem of the play arose -- Juniper kept fluctuating from childlike to emotionally distraught, to surprisingly mature and well-spoken. So, trying to write a mentally disabled teen-age girl proved to be the wrong direction. But it took me a LONG time to understand that and be able to revise the work. Now Juniper is a homeschool student who lives on a secluded ranch with her grandmother.
She is very bright, but not used to being around others-- so she shifts from introvert to extrovert with the snap of a finger. (Oh, and she has a very special power -- but that's top secret.) But I finally did! I've recently submitted the play to a couple places.
So I'm hoping that Tomorrow's Wish will someday be published and performed by talented high school students. I've gottena lot of terrific feedback about one of the monologues from the play (it's available at my About.com GuideSite). A few brave actresses have even posted performances of the monologue on YouTube.
And here's another...
And this one is during someone's drama class:
Happy New Year! I basically have two artistic resolutions: Create more stuff and generate more buzz.
So, to help spread the word about my plays, books, and other projects, I am launching a new contest once a week. Our first Creative Contest celebrates the release of my latest play: Stagecraft: The Video Game.
How to Play: Create artwork that combines video games and theater. Examples: Macbeth in the style of Mario Brothers. Death of a Salesman, Sims style. Phantom of the Grand Theft Auto.
Email your submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org We'll post the art work on this blog to share with the rest of the world.
How to Win: On Monday, January 12th, 2014 we will pick our three favorite submissions.
What do I win? We're giving away autographed copies of "Stagecraft" along with video games! (Disclaimer: Some of these video games are compatible with game systems found in your local antique store.)
What is the "Stagecraft" about? "Stagecraft: The Video Game" is my latest one-act play. Here's the premise: Katie is in an all-too-familiar predicament. She’s running auditions for the school play and — surprise, surprise! — she needs more guys. Her cousin Matt, who is obsessed with video games, isn’t interested in helping her out. He’s got levels to pass and villains to conquer. She strikes a deal with him. He has to be in the play unless he can beat the new, never-before-seen video game she’s brought along with her. Matt’s up for the challenge and soon finds himself in a wild, virtual world of theatre where he must tackle casting decisions, staging and set building challenges, and ultimately put on a show!
Teachers, directors and students can visit Pioneer Drama to find out more.
Thanks for playing!