Tuesday, December 30, 2014
And I am simultaneously poking fun at the popular BBC show, Downton Abbey.
But actually, I was more inspired by the old program Upstairs Downstairs. I found those characters -- especially the butler -- far more fascinating, and decided I wanted to write in the spirit of those comedy-of-manners classics, but twist things up with some gruesome undead characters.
My favorite part about this one-act comedy is that the wealthy characters are so clueless, they don't notice when half their staff has transformed into zombies!
The play is available through Pioneer Drama Service.
Monday, October 27, 2014
Poor little blog.
Lots o' cool stuff has happened since I last posted. Some of it, I still can't disclose just yet... however, I can tell you some of the big news.
I SOLD MY SECOND PICTURE BOOK! (Or, I should say my wonderful agent sold the book, I just sat at my computer waiting for her emails to come trickling in with good news.)
I'll give more details about the publishers, editors, themes. title and all that good stuff. But for now, I will mention that it is creative non-fiction, not too far away from my first picture book.
My wife and daughters spent half of the summer traveling around the country. Mackenzie went to Space Camp in Alabama! (I stayed home to take care of the dogs and teach summer school. Boo.)
Other publishing news...
"CSI: WONDERLAND" and "THE LITTLE MERMAID" are now in print! Two funny feature length plays... waiting to have their post-publication premieres.
You want more publishing news???
Three days ago, I received a contract/offer for a new one-act comedy called :Downton Zombies.
(It's as ridiculous as it sounds.)
What are you working on, Wade?
That's weird. I suddenly turned this into a weird question-and-answer blog post. Well, since you asked... I have been writing my unique stage version of "The Three Musketeers." It should probably be called the "Pre-Musketeers," because it's actually a prequel, a comedic adventure about how Portos, Athos, and Aramis become friends. I finished Act One in August and then the writing process screeched to a halt.
Why did it screech to a halt?
Because I'm lazy. No! That's not why. The real reason is because I was cast as one of the two Clowns in The 39 Steps. That play has been my whole world for the past two and a half months. It's been the best time I've ever had on stage -- and I've had some awesome times, to be sure.
It sounds like your life is going great, Wade. I'm jealous and I hate you.
If it makes you feel any better, there's lots of boring and annoying things that happen to me. I just don't Facebook / Blog about those things very often. I'm getting a root canal done next week. Does that make you feel any better?
Yes. Yes, it does.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
My agent has received an offer for my second picture book!
I am so grateful. They say that the second book is the hardest, and for me that was definitely true. That is to say, I wrote many "second books," but finding a publisher proved very challenging. If you've been following my adventures as a writer, then you'll recall that shortly after I sold my first picture book, the publisher (Tricycle Press) was purchased and then dismantled by another company. That meant hat finding a new editor/publisher was like starting all over again.
Fortunately, super-agent Abigail saved the day... as she so often does.
I'm also happy to report that my first book, Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? Or, a History of Messy Rooms has a bit of staying power. It might not be an international best seller, but I noticed that it's still used in lots of classrooms.
I just stumbled upon a cool blog called "Navigating Third Grade" and they were kind enough to include the book in their discussion on C.A.R.E. skills.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Monday, June 16, 2014
I do have a few loyal fans (Hi Mom!). I am grateful for the many drama teachers that continue to choose my plays. And there are quite a few nice folks (over 10,000 of them) who bought my picture book, Why Do I Have To Make My Bed?
But I don't have a following... Mainly because I'm not interesting enough to be followed. I once had a stalker, but he only stalked me for about minutes and then he was like, "This sucks, I'm outta here."
So, in addition to my writing, I've decided that I am going to do an experiment. I've got several projects going on this summer. For the next two months -- and hopefully beyond -- I will be involved with several fun projects that will get me a little bit out of my comfort zone. I'll be using this blog and my website (and some other socially-networky things) to promote them. In a few months time, we'll see if any of these things catch on...
And now, without further ado, I present my "Summer of Fun" Schedule:
Monday: Web Comic "Drama Geek" (Monday Edition)
This is a cartoon I've been drawing for a while. It's like Broadway meets the Far Side.
Tuesday: Professor Picture Book
This is a blog I've been brainstorming about for a while. A character named "Prof. Picturebook" and his cat will review children's books in the style of Siskel andEbert.
Wednesday: Castle Writemore
Join Sir Snoresalot and the rest of the castle characters as they share writing ideas with young authors.
BONUS: "Drama Geek" (Wednesday Edition)
Thursday: Movie Question Day
Friday: Camp Omigosh YouTube Channel
This week I will be uploading five videos chronicling the misadventures of the kids at Camp Omigosh, creating a YouTube companion piece to the play & novel.
During the last two summers, I took a break from teaching and went up to Washington state. It was a blast! Lot's of adventures with the family, and lots of time to work on writing projects.
This summer -- in order to start saving for my daughters' college funds -- correction, in order to first pay off some credit card bill and THEN start saving for college -- I will be teaching two courses.
At first I was very sad about this. However, it turns out that because I knew I wouldn't have as much free time this summer, I have spent the last four weeks (my break between spring and summer classes) being ultra-creative and mega-productive. The last thirty days have been a wild ride that has produced a couple new picture books, two new plays, the final chapters of my middle grade novel, and a whole lot of revision.
Oh, and I am signed up for the upcoming SCBWI conference in Los Angeles this August.
Oh, the other not-so-sad part. My classes take place only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the afternoon. So, when you think about it, I still get five days off a week. Ever since I've been hired full time at Moorpark College, I have been counting my blessings. I get paid to teach students about writing and literature, and I get a nice chunk of free-time. Can't get much better than that!
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Monday, June 9, 2014
There are digital versions available on Kindle... and just about any tablet / phone that leads you view a PDF.
Want some more information? Here's the blurb:
Welcome to the fantastic world of Castle Writemore! "Castle Writemore" is a collection of one hundred and twenty three writing prompts. They have been designed to foster creative writing, descriptive writing, personal reflection, brainstorming techniques, annotative skills, and paragraph development. Each prompt is designed to make writing fun because they take the young writer on an incredible adventure. If you are looking for a unique way to encourage a lifelong love of writing, then you should definitely take a tour of our fantastic kingdom. Written by Wade Bradford (author / playwright / college professor), "Castle Writemore" is ideal for students from ages six to ten; however, any age group can have a splendid time visiting this imaginary world.
The Kindle version is priced at $2.99 and the PDF version at Lulu.com is a bargain at only $2.49.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
Well, I got tagged by one of my fellow playwrights: the always-inspiring Bobby Keniston - who was nice enough to be the subject of one of my About.com playwright profiles.
Bobby is part of a rather exclusive Facebook group; all of the members are playwrights who focus primarily on plays for teens and children. It's a great place to ask for feedback, bounce off ideas, and share general frustrations about our craft (how it is oh-so-emotionally fulfilling yet not-always-so lucrative).
Bobby's blog is "Theater Is a Sport," and you'll be able to check out his response to these questions about The Writing Process, but you'll also find many thoughtful articles about the Theatre. It's a great resource, especially if you are a drama teacher, a playwright, or simple a theater-geek.
Oh... I guess I should tag someone else for this blog-hop... Let me ask around and find out who is willing, and then I'll update this page and let you know about the next
So, without further ado, here are the responses to Bobby's Questions:
1) WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
The big project looming in the distance is a comedic prequel to The Three Musketeers. I haven't decided what to call it... The Two Musketeers?
I am also tinkering with drafts of things, such as Camp Omigosh, the novel version of CSI: Neverland, and various picture books.
Oh, and I'm currently marketing a new project called CASTLE WRITEMORE! It's a great handbook for young creative writers. It's now available on Kindle!
2) HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS IN THE FIELD?
I'm not sure, because I don't read enough of my peers to truly give an answer. I do know that I take a great amount of pleasure in creating strange and hilarious situations... I think I can be very quirky yet I never attempt to alienate the audience. Hopefully the best of my plays are feel strange yet universal. One acquaintance watched one of my plays (which I had not only written but also directed) and she said, "I feel like I have been inside your mind for the last ninety minutes, and I don't know that I should have gone in there." That has probably been the highest compliment I've ever received.
Does that answer the question? No. Oh well, let's move on...
3) WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?
It sounds cheesy, but I think it's important to bring laughter and happiness into the world. Hopefully my plays bring a sense of joy to the audience as well as the performers.
When I was younger, I used to write about really dark subjects (assassins out for revenge, horror story knock-offs of Stephen King). I had fun writing those, but the characters and situations were always very mediocre. Then, sometime around the late 1990s, after watching one too many depressing tragedies on the news I thought to myself, there's enough bloodshed in real life. Why not focus on happiness and humor?
Of course, it should be noted that I just finished writing a Downton Abbey / Walking Dead spoof in which many people are turned into zombies. But it's all in good fun? Who doesn't love British, early 19th century zombies?
4) HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK
For eight and a half months of the year I teach at Moorpark College. During that time, I writing rather slowly. I might finish one project (a one-act play, a chapter book, something small) per semester. Then, during the summer break, as well as the one month we take off during the winter, I write as much as I possibly can!
As far as the process of writing, I develop the characters in my head, jot down notes, do a bit of pre-writing. I figure out the conflict and the overall theme in advance. Then, I might have a strong idea of how the story begins, a few key points along the way, and I almost always have a definite idea about how it ends. There's a lot of stuff in the middle that comes along spontaneously. Writing is usually more fun that way.
Well, that about wraps it up... Thank you, Bobby Keniston, for inviting me to play!
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
I've had another creative outburst during the past few days. The result has been a new one-act comedy about Butlers and Zombies.
I'm still wondering about marketing. There are a lot of super-successful writers who have a knack for growing a community around their work. John Green is the current best example of this, but there are many others -- both traditionally published and self-published.
I keep going back and forth... Should I devote a significant amount of time attempting to generate an audience? Or should I focus my all of my energy on creating stories and plays?
Sunday, June 1, 2014
My semester ended in the middle of May and I have been hard at work getting as much stuff out into the world before I have to start teaching summer school. I'm currently working on a one-act comedy... And I have also sent out lots of material. Now it's a matter of playing my least favorite game... the waiting game. And since I am waiting, I might as well tell you about what I am waiting for, so that you can vicariously anticipate the many rejections and/or acceptance letters that are coming my way.
Thing #1: My agent sent a picture book at a publishing house... They replied favorably to the work (I hope to tell you more details about it, but can't give anything away yet). Now I am waiting to find out if they will make an offer. The news could arrive this week!
Thing #2: I sent Heuer Publishing the novel version of CSI: NEVERLAND. I am hoping that in addition to publishing the play (which has been a drama class favorite for over five years) Heuer will launch my 25,000 word middle grade book as a fun companion piece. It's unlike anything they have published before, but the good folks at Heuer are innovative and daring -- so I have my fingers crossed that hey will proceed with the project.
Thing #3: My agent has also submitted my quirky picture book "Two Kittens and a Purple Chicken." (I think it's currently at two publishing houses.) This is a fun, zany story -- and it's already gotten several very friendly rejection letters. Hopefully it will find a home.
Thing #4: I have a historical comedy chapter book making the rounds among a few peers... And I am waiting to get feedback from them. I know it's missing something... But I'm not sure what. Hopefully my beta readers willoint me in the right direction.
Thing #5: I submitted my unique stage version of "The Little Mermaid" to Eldridge Publishing. I already have a mermaid story with them ("Mermaid in Miami") so this project might be overkill. However, the show was a hit with audiences at the Canyon Theatre Guild, and I would love for the script to be circulated around the globe.
Thing #6: Last week I was inspired to write a one act comedy called "Strangers." It's about the connections between two people who never meet. It delves into more serious terrain than I usually explore, so I already know it's an improtant piece in my development as a writer. I submitted the work to Playscripts. They have done well with my comedy, "How to Kiss a Girl," so I am hoping to place more scripts with them. However, it might take a while to get a response.. Three to six months!
Thing #7: "Castle Writemore" has been a labor of love. It's a collection of writing prompts, all of which culminate into their own sort of story involving whimsical characters who live in a castle. It has been Available online for a few months now. (And guess how many books I've sold so far? Two!) However, I have created a new print version with space for young Writemorians to write and draw directly onto the page. This is my first time using CREATESPACE for a project. I ordered an examination copy, and now I am waiting for it to arrive.
Thing #8: Today I finished a draft of a screenplay called "Skit Happens." Most of it is written by my best friend, Joshua Eklund. I have probably written about 15% of the script... Joshua's original draft came in at a whopping 188 pages, so it was my daunting task to streamline the work. It is now 122 pages. I sent the revised draft to him, and now I am waiting to see if we're still best friends. Hope you like it, Joshua!
Thing #9: Last week, I wrote a picture book that explores the history of toys from around the globe. It's more than non-fiction, though. There's a story throughout, and I think it's kind of sweet, if I do say so myself. Well, this is the largest stockpile of projects I've ever had... All of them just waiting for some kind of response... And since I've gotten to NINE, I might as well make it an even TEN. Here goes...
Thing #10: I have been blogging using blogspot for a while, but nobody has left a comment yet. So, in addition to all of the above responses, I am also waiting for my first commenter on this blog. So, what do you say? Leave a message, let me know who's out there!
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Last month I spent three solid days writing a very silly one act called "Montana Jones and the Gymnasium of Doom." As the title suggests, it's a spoof of Indiana Jones movies. It's also a fun romp through middle school. I posted it as a royalty free play at plays.about.com...
Yesterday, I discovered that a group of students and teachers created their own 30 minute video production that's rather fun. I especially like the visual effects they added to the beginning.
Good work, Orange Charter School!
Thursday, April 24, 2014
(Note: The original title of this play is simply, "Thumbs Up" -- but I rather like the revised version)
I was pleased to discover that Kids Play Inc is performing one of my lesser known comedies... Lesser known perhaps because it is a bit obscure by today's standards. My "Thumbs Up" play is a loving tribute to my favorite pair of bickering film critics, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. As a kid, I loved to watch a TV show called "At the Movies."
Here's some of the article:
KidsPlay, Inc. children’s theatre will present Two Thumbs Up by Wade Bradford, May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at the HJ Ricks Centre for the Arts.
Two Thumbs Up features a pair of rival movie critics, Edward Nickel (played by Jake Hobbs) and Michael Gilbert (played by Ian Cole), who open the show at celebrity auction where they compete in bidding on John Travolta’s white disco suit worn in the movie Saturday Night Fever. Nickel eventually outbids Gilbert for the prized artifact, but problems arise when the suit suddenly disappears. The rest of the play centers on which of the characters might have stolen the suit. The prime suspects are the actors from the movies that Nickel and Gilbert have given unfavorable reviews to over the years.
To find out more... follow this link!
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
My one act comedy has been selected by two international schools:
Canadian International School Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City.
The American School Of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Wow! I don't know how each drama teacher stumbled upon my little play, How to Kiss a Girl, but I am honored that it will be entertaining audiences overseas.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
“The main difference between ‘The Actor Games’ and the film that inspired it is that the districts and tributes represent different acting styles,” said director Brian T. Schultz in a news release. “The challenge has been maintaining the balance between creating an appropriate homage to the film and making sure the actors have an understanding of the physical, vocal and mental requirements of the different acting styles.”
Read the rest of the article...
Friday, March 21, 2014
My new play is available at Eldridge Publishing!
Here is the synopsis:
Connor's summer is off to a rough start: the camp bus almost crashes, his cabin mates don't trust him, and the girls on the other side of the camp constantly outsmart him. But when he and his friends Tasha, Parker, and Kimberly investigate the mystery surrounding the "Ghost of Dead Billy," they begin a hilarious adventure that is worlds away from a typical campfire story.
If you have been following my blog, then you already know that CAMP OMIGOSH is based upon a novel of the same name. That novel will be coming out soon -- I'll have more details about that in April. But if you'd like a sneak peek of the opening chapters, you can download the beginning at Amazon.com:
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
One of my most successful plays is a fantasy comedy called CSI: Neverland.
Normally, I remember the moment when I come up with my brilliant (or often not-so-brilliant) ideas. My memory of this one, however, is murky. I don't recall where I was, or who was around, when I came up with the idea. But I do know that I had recently heard about yet another successful spin off: CSI: New York. I had thought the first incarnation was a fine show, though I didn't watch many episodes. And then when they made CSI: Miami, I thought they were already stretching the franchise.
But when I learned of the existence of the New York show, I thought to myself, what's next... CSI: Neverland?
And I ran with it. Of course, it's not a spin-off. It's a parody. Several parodies, in fact. I am spoofing the CSI-styled shows in which forensic experts use their scientific knowledge to solve crimes, and I am also lampooning some of my favorite characters from classic children's lit.
Now something new is brewing. I recently finished a sequel (CSI: Wonderland) and I am currently working on a novel version of the Neverland play. Oh, and my version isn't Crime Scene Investigation...
It's Crime Scene Imagination. Like the aforementioned television show, I think there's potential for at least three locations... and hopefully I won't spread myself too thin.
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Friday, February 21, 2014
This month I am celebrating the third anniversary of my picture book: "Why Do I Have to Make My Bed, or a History of Messy Rooms."
As the lengthy title suggests, it's a book that not only explores that oft asked question, but also delves into chore lore, examining the household tasks of children throughout the ages.
Here are some wonderful images by illustrator Johanna van der Sterre:
P.S. We will share submission on this blog and other social networks -- so if you don't want to sow off your work, let us know!
Teachers and Parents: There's also a handy curriculum guide available in PDF form.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
I never thought that I would make a sequel to my hit play CSI: Neverland.
But then around October 31st, my neighbors (who always throw the coolest Halloween-fest, complete with freaky costumes, set pieces, and special effects) created an experience called "Malice in Wonderland."
All of the beloved Lewis Carol creations took on very sinister forms... and that got me thinking about combining my twisted sense of humor with the world of Wonderland. From there, it seemed only natural to include the Fairy Detectives from the first play and get them mixed up in a murder mystery in which the King of Hearts has lost his head.
Today, I am going through the script (hopefully) for the last time, tightening up a few scenes and streamlining the pace.
On a side note, I cannot help but notice how quiet this blog is...
Hello.... (Echo: Hello... hello... hello...)
I really should work harder to become part of a community. My wife says that I should post things that are more interactive, and not simply an advertisement for my creative projects. If you, dear reader, have any suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment. (Although, I must say, that it can be a pain in the butt to leave comments on Blogger. Who wants to decode those CAPTCHA doohickeys just to leave a few words of encouragement?)
Okay -- tangent over -- now back to revising CSI: Wonderland!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
My latest project is a creative/educational endeavor called CASTLE WRITEMORE.
Here's a little bit about it:
One of my goals is to create a community of writers, both young and old, that share their responses to the prompts of Castle Writemore and similar projects. Would you like to join this creative adventure?
Visit our Facebook Page, and stay tuned for a brand new Castlemore blog!
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Ah, the poor Bard. You would think if I truly admire him, I would stop robbing his grave. But there's something about his marvelous characters that just won't allow me to cease my lampooning. I'm afraid I may always tomb raid that great Elizabethan playwright.
"It's a bit heavy on the eye of newt." If you are looking for thirty-minutes of fast-paced humor, might I recommend all three of my ten minute plays (each available at www.hitplays.com) : "Romeo Revised" "Hopeless Hamlet" and now "Macbeth Mixed Up"
Friday, February 7, 2014
Thursday, February 6, 2014
They take classes on art, geography, film making, and chess... And sometimes I help out by teaching theater and writing classes. About a year ago, they wanted to create a play that was about artists, adventurers, and inventors from the turn of the century (late 1800s - early 1900s). So, I toyed around with a few ideas and TADA -- I wrote "Impressions of Yesterday." The premise: two sisters discover an old trunk that is magically connected to an art studio in Paris, 1899. Out of the trunk pops Mary Cassatt, Monet, Degas, and many other iconic figures from the era.
The play is available at Playscripts Inc.
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
This gave me a chance to reconnect with young actors and children's theater directors. Patti Finley said they were interested in doing a fairy tale story of Thumbelina, and she kindly allowed me to write the script. Writing for children's is a fun and challenging art form. You want the dialogue to be easy enough for the performers -- but you don't want to "talk down" to the audience or to the cast members.
As with Mermaid in Miami, I was adapting a Hans Christian Andersen story. And if you are an Andersen purists, you might not care for my adaptation. His story ends with Thumbelina marrying a fairy prince and living with the flower people -- and thereby never returning to the human woman that raised and nurtured. My tale of Thumbelina focuses on a little girl (very little) who is trying to find her place in the world -- and realizes that she and her mother need each other.
My good friend Fiona Perry starred as Thumbelina in the world premiere -- and my two daughters had some good parts too!
Here are some photos from Mrs. Stafford's drama class -- (She also directed JT and the Pirates -- thanks for your support, Mrs. Stafford!)
Sunday, February 2, 2014
One of them involved us just wandering the video store and using the produce for our prop comedy. We made up a Headless Horseman character who used a cantaloupe instead of a pumpkin -- and ever since then (even though I hate the taste) I've had an affinity for the fruit.
So -- if you've ever seen my play "Conflict" and wondered why the playwright created a story about a young man who is obsessed with a cantaloupe -- the source of his inner and outer conflicts -- now you know why. No symbolism or anything. Just a fruit I admire.
"Conflict" was a script I wrote specifically for the Repertory East Playhouse. I entered their Page 2 Stage competition -- and happily the script won! "Conflict" was produce and directed by a top-notch crew -- and performed by a cast of talented actors. It was a joy to watch. "Conflict" runs about 25 minutes, and like some of my other shorter plays, it has done quite well at drama student competitions.
"Conflict" is available at Heuer Plays.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org )
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