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PRODUCTIONS IN 2016

We had almost the exactly the same number of productions in 2016 as we did in 2015–just over 40! Plus 6 readings. Not bad! See the list below, and click on the links to read samples, order copies or license a production!

Total productions: 43
ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS-FAMOUS SISTER): 5
-BAD SUBSTITUTE: 2
DR. FRANKINCENSE AND THE CHRISTMAS MONSTER: 4
DRACULA’S DAUGHTERS: A FAMILY COMEDY: 1
ELEVATOR GAMES: 4
END OF THE WORLD (WITH PROM TO FOLLOW): 5
EXPOSED! EIGHT 10-MINUTE TALES ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED: 11
HISTORICALLY BAD FIRST DATES: 3
HORROR HIGH: 2
HORROR HIGH: THE MUSICAL: 1
TWO-FACED: A TRAGEDY…SORT OF: 3
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF? EIGHT 10-MINUTE TALES OF IMPROBABILITY: 2

Readings: 6
-HOW WE MADE THE MOON: 3
-POPCORN GIRL: 2
-WIDE ASLEEP: 1

GILLIGAN VARIATIONS now available!

THE GILLIGAN VARIATIONS- Price $12.99A collection of ten plays inspired by a certain deserted island.<div class="wp_cart_button_wrapper"><form method="post" class="wp-cart-button-form" action="" style="display:inline" onsubmit="return ReadForm(this, true);" ><input type="hidden" id="_wpnonce" name="_wpnonce" value="2f500c5d82" /><input type="hidden" name="_wp_http_referer" value="/blog/" /><input type="submit" class="wspsc_add_cart_submit" name="wspsc_add_cart_submit" value="Add to Cart" /><input type="hidden" name="wspsc_product" value=""The" /><input type="hidden" name="price" value="12.99" /><input type="hidden" name="shipping" value="2.00" /><input type="hidden" name="addcart" value="1" /><input type="hidden" name="cartLink" value="http://www.playstoorder.com/blog/" /><input type="hidden" name="product_tmp" value=""The" /><input type="hidden" name="item_number" value="" /><input type="hidden" name="hash_one" value="58330658d512dbfeb53d7b9c95356db0" /><input type="hidden" name="hash_two" value="0e9f639015e8bd702fa46e842b727a83" /></form></div>
THE GILLIGAN VARIATIONS- Price $12.99
A collection of ten plays inspired by a certain deserted island.
Ten playwrights were given a task: write a short play inspired by the Gilligan’s Island opening theme song. Far from slavish adaptations featuring soon-to-be castaways on a three-hour tour, the resulting plays were filled with murder, existential crisis, gender-bending role reversal, absurdism and magic. These are THE GILLIGAN VARIATIONS.

The Island by Sean Abley
Gillian’s Isle by Liesl Ehmke
Jump Ship by Lydia Stewart
Lilli’s Lost at Sea by Jessica Burton
Sonia and Nancy by Caitlin McCommis
Search / Rescue by Kimberly Patterson
Five Steps to Murder Your Spouse by Meghan Reimers
Evacuate by Megan Wheelock
The Shadow of Gilligan’s Island by Sean Michael McCord
The Isle by Kyle Philip Jackola

 

Update – September 2016

Wow, so much has happened since my last post! I guess that’s the best reason to fall behind on my blogging, right?

Jumping back a bit, in 2015 I was accepted into, and began my studies with, the Hollins Playwrights Lab MFA program at Hollins University. This program is sort of a combo of a low-res program and a summer intensive. Unlike most low-res programs where you do most of your work remotely then visit campus for maybe two weeks, Hollins Playwrights Lab meets for 6 weeks in the summer. An entire semester is taught during that 6 weeks, which means each class meets twice a week for a total of 6 hours. And the instruction, led by program director Todd William Ristau, is superb. I could go on and on about the program, but the headline is I love it. I’ve been for two summers now, have one more to go and then my thesis. I’ll be sad when it’s over!

One of the many advantages of the Hollins Playwrights Lab is the opportunity for professional work gleaned from contacts you make while attending. During my first summer I was lucky enough to score a commission from the Merry-Go-Round Youth Theatre. TORTOISE VS. HARE: REMATCH! was a blast to write – a small cast show for a library tour Summer 2016. Here’s a collage of their press photos for the tour:

Tortoise vs Hare

The second commission was from a fellow student, Kimberly Patterson, who is the Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches. The play was LOCKED IN, about a bipolar student faced with the daunting proposition of a student lock-in event on Halloween. It premiered in April 2016 and I’m told the kids loved the play!

Locked In

When I returned to Hollins for the 2016 semester, my play POPCORN GIRL was chosen for their Festival of New Works. The play is based on a true story – in 1997 the owner of the worlds last silent movie theater was murdered in the lobby. Turns out the killer was hired by the projectionist, who just happened to be the owners lover! Scandalous! I wrote the play for my docudrama class in 2015, and it’s one of the scripts of which I am most proud. Fingers crossed it will find a home for its world premiere soon!

Popcorn Girl Hollins

Last but not least, I joined a theater company as a resident playwright in 2015 – SkyPilot Theatre Company. I’m excited about the possibilities of the company, so stay tuned for more about my work there.

Over the past two years at Hollins I’ve written over 2 dozen plays! Crazy! But I’m going to hold off on talking about them until I have news to report.

Take care!
Sean

APRIL/MAY PRODUCTIONS!

APRIL PRODUCTIONS:

THE ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS-FAMOUS SISTER)
First Circle Theater Company, Boonton, NJ
Illinois Lutheran School Gym, Crete, IL
Irons Junior High, Conroe, TX
Patriot Players, Jefferson City, MO
Bay Middle School, Bay Village, OH
DeLong Middle School, Eau Claire, WI

HORROR HIGH
Dunbar Magnet School, Mobile, AL
Dakota Prairie School District, Petersburg, ND
South Harrison High School, Lost Creek, WV

MAY PRODUCTIONS:

THE ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS-FAMOUS SISTER)
George Randell Primary EAST LONDON, South Africa
Wisconsin Lutheran School, Racine, WI
Klaus Hall, Racine, WI
St. Mary’s Academy, Winnipeg, MB Canada

BAD SUBSTITUTE
Lakota West High School, West Chester OH

DOUBLE TROUBLE ON THE PRAIRIE
Windsor High School Jaguar Troupe, Windsor CA

ELEVATOR GAMES
Parkway West Middle School, Chesterfield MO

EXPOSED! EIGHT 10-MINUTE TALES ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
Blackford High School Theatre, Dunkirk IN
South Sioux City Community Schools, South Sioux City NE

HISTORICALLY BAD FIRST DATES
Mill Creek High School, Hoschton GA

THE RISE OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Columbia High School, Burbank WA

FEBRUARY / MARCH productions!

FEBRUARY PRODUCTIONS:

ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS-FAMOUS SISTER)
Sartartia Middle School, Sugar Land, TX

ELEVATOR GAMES
Graettinger-Terril CSD, Graettinger IA
Stratford High School, Stratford WI
New Lisbon High School, New Lisbon WI
Chetek-Weyerhaeuser High School, Chetek WI

EXPOSED: EIGHT 10-MINUTE TALES ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED (with Mike Beyer, Amy Seeley and Jenny Kirkland-Laffey)
Greenville Middle School, Greenville AL

MARCH

ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS-FAMOUS SISTER):
Live Theatre Workshop, Tucson, AZ
DeSoto West Middle School, DeSoto, TX
Pflugerville Middle School, Pflugerville, TX
Browns Valley Middle School, Browns Valley, MN
Grace Co-op, Beaumont, TX

END OF THE WORLD (WITH PROM TO FOLLOW):
Churubusco Junior Senior High School, Churubusco, IN

EXPOSED! EIGHT 10-MINUTE TALES ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED:
Cache Middle School Drama Club, Cache OK
Tri-County School District, Jamesport MO

HORROR HIGH:
Thurgood Marshall School, Rockford IL

NOVEMBER PRODUCTIONS

NOVEMBER PRODUCTIONS:

NOVEMBER 1:
THE ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS FAMOUS SISTER) – Primghar Community Playhouse and Sandburg Middle School Drama
HORROR HIGH – Hammond Central School, Hammond NY
DRACULA’S DAUGHTERS: A FAMILY COMEDY – Kankakee H.S., Kankakee IL

NOVEMBER 2:
ELEVATOR GAMES – Madrid Community Schools, Madrid IA

NOVEMBER 5:
EXPOSED! EIGHT 10-MINUTE TALES ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED – John Muir Middle School, Burbank IL

NOVEMBER 6:
HISTORICALLY BAD FIRST DATES – South Hills High School, Fort Worth TX and Briarwood Academy, Warrenton GA (Take state!)

NOVEMBER 20:
HISTORICALLY BAD FIRST DATES – Sacred Heart School, Falls City NE

PRODUCTIONS FOR OCTOBER

Hey everyone! October and November are going to be busy months! Check out the productions for October below…

ADVENTURES OF ROSE RED (SNOW WHITE’S LESS-FAMOUS SISTER):
Mt. Vernon-Lisbon Community Theatre, Mt. Vernon, IA

BAD SUBSTITUTE:
South Carleton High School, Richmond, ON Canada

ELEVATOR GAMES:
STARS Tucson, AZ

EXPOSED! EIGHT 10-MINUTE SCENES ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED:
Wester Middle School, Frisco TX

HORROR HIGH:
Sugar Creek Players Crawfordsville, IN

HISTORICALLY BAD FIRST DATES:
Briarwood Academy Warrenton , GA

RISE OF THE HOUSE OF USHER:
Soledad High School Soledad, CA

JULY UPDATE

We’ve been crazy busy here at Plays To Order since the last update. Tomorrow will be the world premiere of our newest musical, HORRIBLE SHAKESPEARE: A MINI-MUSICAL, at the Tri-Dac Summer Theater Program in Columbia, SC. This is a really fun musical about a group of AP English students who are trapped in the Horrible Productions of Shakespeare’s Plays Museum. As they check out the various exhibits for Horrible Shakespeare Past, they are magically transformed into the characters from each display – The Scottish Play set in a fast food restaurant; “Taming of the Shrew” starring a real shrew; “Romeo Mime vs. Juliet Clown”; and “Twelfth Night of the Living Dead.” Clocking in at 30 minutes, HORRIBLE SHAKESPEARE features 6 songs with music by Ryan O’Connell (who also composed HORROR HIGH: THE MUSICAL), and lyrics by Ryan and Sean. This is a perfect musical for festivals – 30 minutes, plus zombies!

We also had our world premiere of WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF…? SIX 10-MINUTE PLAYS OF IMPROBABILITY. Kankakee High School in IL, under the direction of Deena Badr-Cassady, mounted the very first production of this weird and funny collection of short plays.

And, finally, just a few weeks ago, “Dr. Jekyll and Little Miss Hyde,” one of the short plays in EXPOSED! EIGHT 10-MINUTE PLAYS ABOUT WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, premiered at the 10 By 10 in the Triangle International 10-minute play festival in NC. A couple of reviews:

“Mark Filiaci directs Dr. Jekyll and Little Miss Hyde by Sean Abley, a take off of Charles Ludlam’s The Mystery of Irma Vep, in which two people play several parts, including both genders for each actor. In Ludlam’s play the two actors must of the same gender, but Abley twists the gender-changing one step further by using a man and a woman. And the humor/drama is enhanced by having the changes occur behind a Wayang style white screen. Owen Daly and Leanne Heinz camp it up beautifully; pay particular notice to Daly’s “problem” when he changes back to male roles.”

“Of the night’s offerings, the seed-play most in need of expansion as a full-length work was “Dr. Jekyll and Little Miss Hyde.” In this rewarding gender-role comedy, playwright Sean Abley gives the Robert Louis Stevenson potboiler the Charles Ludlam (Irma Vep) treatment, assigning multiple roles across gender to two actors. Abley’s witty writing hinges on the definitions of monstrous behavior that differed substantially for men and women in Victorian England—before connecting Stevenson’s “horror” to the rise of the suffragettes.”

“Judging by the reactions, the favorite of the evening was “Dr. Jekyll and Little Miss Hyde”; the laughter and applause meter peaked for this entertaining little examination of Victorian mores.”

Lesson Learned

I was contacted by a young drama teacher interested in having a play written for her advanced play production class. Unhappy with the availability of smart material for her class (she dismissively called Playscripts “Sillyscripts,” which should have been a red flag), she thought my work would be a good match for her students.

Fast-forward to months later, and it became apparent that the director A) wasn’t used to working in a workshop situation and B) wasn’t prepared for rehearsals. You have to be ready when you rehearse a large-cast show like the one she’d requested (forty speaking parts, several dozen extras), but I could tell she hadn’t even reviewed the script most days. I watched her struggle, offered input when I thought it was appropriate, and dealt with all those conflicting emotions playwrights have during a first production.

Things seemed to going okay (not great, but okay) until the third week. The teacher called me on Monday morning. “I’m not used to working this way, and I realized I’m not being true to myself during rehearsals. I need to run rehearsals as if the playwright isn’t sitting in the room. Normally when I do a show, if something isn’t working I cut it. I rearrange things. Writers hate me!” At first her tone sounded as if she was afraid of my reaction, but this last statement was spoken with a not a small amount of pride.

I love the collaborative workshop process. Perhaps I’m just a lazy writer, but I prefer going into production with a second draft and working out all the kinks during rehearsals. I’m not precious about my work, and learned a long time ago to listen to feedback, regardless of whether or not I take it. It’s amazing what you can glean from even the most ridiculous advice if you listen rather than prepare you defense while they talk. If you’re afraid taking a note is going to bring your script crashing down around you, then you probably haven’t built it on a firm foundation in the first place. So although a second red flag was raised when this teacher/director admitted “Writers hate me!”, I was ready to keep my mouth closed and mind open.

For the rest of the rehearsal process, I was invisible to her. I’d anticipated difficulties staging certain scenes, so included suggestions in the script, most of which were either ignored or, more likely, unread. If a line didn’t work after trying it only once, it was cut without asking for a rewrite or suggestion. I arrived one day to find three scenes had been cut and replaced with a musical montage featuring Hall and Oates’s “You Make My Dreams Come True.” She seemed frustrated in rehearsals, and at times a bit panicked. Despite this, there would be times she would start to run a scene then walk away, go into her office, start conversations in full voice with other students, and then move on to the next scene, never having paid attention to what was happening on stage. And not once did she turn to me for input or advice.

The worst day was near the end of the rehearsal process. The final scene of the play involves the characters facing their worst fear – the end of the world. They can’t stop it, so instead of panicking they allow themselves to become philosophical, shed their emotional armor and be vulnerable with each other.

Having struggled to wrap her mind around the end of the show, the director stood on a chair and announced to the cast, “I don’t understand why these people would do what the script says they do. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. They wouldn’t just stand there. They would panic, cry, scream, whatever. So I’m going to cut it and we’re going to rewrite it.” As I sat there silently, face red with embarrassment and anger, she proceeded to throw out the script, bark orders at the actors, dictate new lines and staging to the stage manager, and completely rewrite the last ten pages of my play. I thought to myself, “This is a playwright’s worst fear; I am irrelevant.”

I have a thick skin after years of writing, so well intentioned (and some not-so-well intentioned) criticism rarely bothers me. What bothered me in this situation was what that teacher did, or didn’t do, for her students.

During the rehearsal process for this play, I watched a teacher, a person in charge of helping young people formulate their opinions on so many aspects of their lives, teach sixty-plus enthusiastic, talented young actors that the playwright doesn’t matter. Rather than take advantage of the playwright being in the room, the teacher forged ahead, treating the script as a problem to be solved rather than a challenge to create something from the ground up. This was a huge missed opportunity for her students. They could have learned what it was like to collaborate, have an artistic discussion, workshop material. Who knows, maybe there were budding playwrights in that room. Instead they watched her treat me like a hindrance and, at times, a joke, and I’m afraid that is a lesson difficult to unlearn.

When the dust settled, I ended up with a play I’m incredibly proud of (with my original ending, thank you very much), and a great story to tell other playwrights. The teacher told me her students were thrilled to have their names in the published version of the script. Hopefully someday they’ll be taught they deserve even more.