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PLAY SYNOPSES:

FULL LENGTH PLAYS:
BURYING MOTHER | UNFORGIVEABLE ACT | LIFE LINES | GOLDEN LADDER | ANOTHER PARADISE | STRIP TALK ON THE BOULEVARD | MANHATTAN TRANSITS (THE RUNAWAY) | NOT FOR THE FERRYMAN | DEMENTIA | SEDUCTIONS | THESE ARE MY ADULTS | DANCING WITH STRANGERS | HANGING WOMEN | MISSING FAMILIES | CAUGHT IN THE ACT

ONE-ACT PLAYS:
ENGLISH MAJORS | THE FRENCHMAN PLAY | THE HOLLYWOOD RAPTURE CLINIC | A SENSE OF MOVEMENT | THE GRAY BOMBERS | DINNER WITH MARVIN | BLIND DATE | THE CHURCH OF EMPIRICAL HUMAN CARTOLOGY | SHORT-TERM AFFAIRS | PASSING FANCIES | THE CRYSTAL BALL | THE KITCHEN-SINK PLAY | STAN BOLOVAN AND THE DRAGON | THE WISE PEASANT GIRL


FULL-LENGTH PLAYS

BURYING MOTHER, a comic drama

After the death and burial of her dynamic, controlling mother, Emily finds herself haunted by memories and dreams of her family. Emily knows that it is important for her to understand her relationship with her mother and, to a lesser extent, with her sister and father. She needs to make sense of the difficulties in her own life-a recent divorce, constant depression, digestive problems-so she revisits and imagines scenes that help her to untangle her complex, often contradictory, feelings about her family.

The play opens with Emily's memory of a phone call from her sister, Beryl, who suggests they put their mother in a plywood box when she dies, and keep her in the garage till Emily flies out to L.A. from New York. Then they would dig the hole in the cemetery and keep the $2,500. burial money from their mother's teacher's retirement for themselves.

This incident triggers further memories and dreams-including a vaudeville act on the nature of time, a funeral, in St. Paul's cathedral, that never happened, a surgery to find her sister's heart, Death as a stand-up comic, and her mother's interview with Death, a neurotic character who refuses to grant her immortality.

The play ends with Emily's remembering her final moments with her living mother, her mother's bizarre burial, and Emily's recognition of her feelings of love and loss.

4 f, 1 m

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EROS & PSYCHE

Psyche fancies herself a scientist who studies the stars. Eros is, of course, a playboy who accidentally falls in love with her, and then there is the vain Aphrodite, Eros’ controlling mother, also the exasperatingly ambiguous Sibyl, as well as Psyche’s narcissistic and jealous sisters, her worried father and a talking sheep, the Queen of the Ants, Cerberus, the three-headed dog, beautiful Persephone and the Ferryman who takes mortals to the Underworld. Psyche’s journey is to learn to think with her heart.

EROS & PSYCHE premiered August 2014 in ten NYC venues, indoor and al fresco, with ten actor/dancers, fourteen scarves and one three-headed dog in the production. Music composed by James Barry, the fanciful costumes by Regina Cate and Shela Xoregos directed and choreographed. The Denishawn dance SOARING (1920), by Ruth St. Denis and Doris Humphrey, and other new dances were part of the production.

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UNFORGIVABLE ACT

Set in the context of the USA Patriot Act, UNFORGIVABLE ACT is a play about personal betrayals that have wider socio-political consequences. The play focuses on ALMA DAVIS, whose love for a man causes her to betray both her good friend and her own deepest principles.

When ALMA, a librarian in upstate New York, becomes involved with LEN FRANKLIN, a dynamic, left-wing history professor, her insular, tightly-knit life begins to unravel. Both LEN and SHARON BERMAN, ALMA's new friend, have a profound effect on ALMA's understanding of herself, in terms of who she believes she is and what she will allow herself to do. And as she follows her feelings, the impulsive choices she makes will damage the lives of all three people forever.

2 f, 3 m

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LIFE LINES

LIFE LINES is a play about ELIZABETH SCHULMAN, a doctor at a Northern California abortion clinic, who is forced to reevaluate her life's work as a result of increasingly violent attacks by militant right-wing Christian groups.

Because of an illegal abortion in Tijuana when she was fourteen that made it impossible for her to bear children, ELIZABETH becomes emotionally engaged with AMANDA, a fourteen-year-old who comes to the clinic with her sister SHIRLEY for an abortion.

ELIZABETH also becomes involved with an informant who calls himself CLARK HENNESSEY. As a former member of a right-wing Christian group, CLARK provides ELIZABETH with inside information about the group's plans to destroy her clinic. At first suspicious, Elizabeth gradually believes Clark and follows his suggestions, with fatal results.

5 f, 2 m

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GOLDEN LADDER

This semi-autobiographical comedy/drama is an exploration of the difficulties many people experience when they come from families torn by religious and ethnic differences. CATHERINE speaks directly to the audience throughout the play, commenting on scenes from her childhood and adolescence which are acted out by her family and friends. Events move back and forth between 1943 and 1980. CATHERINE's adolescent scenes take place in the early 1960's.

Raised as a Presbyterian by her anti-Semitic mother who married a Jew, CATHERINE worries that her father, a "Jewish atheist," will go to Hell. Because her Catholic friend MARY has told her that Jewish girls have excessive hormones, when she meets AARON FELDMAN, CATHERINE assumes he is her sexual destiny. Too innocent at 14 to be lovers, they become close friends until CATHERINE breaks off their friendship because she knows her father wants her to please her mother. With zealous fervor CATHERINE tries to be a Presbyterian, then a Catholic and finally a Fundamentalist Christian. But each fails to satisfy her because she is motivated by the wrong reasons. Ultimately CATHERINE realizes that in denying her Jewish heritage she has become like her mother. It is then that she returns to AARON and the religion of her father and grandmother.

4 f, 2 m

- Off-Broadway production at the Players Theatre, New York City, 2002;
- Published in Women Playwrights: Best Plays of 2002 (Smith & Kraus) and Best Stage Scenes of 2002 (Smith & Kraus). Finalist, Herbert Mark Newman Theatre contest (then titled How to be Really Jewish)
- Produced at Hope College, Michigan, 2004
- Staged Readings: Mirror Stage, Seattle, 2004; International Women Playwrights Conference, Athens, Greece, 2000; Grove Street Playhouse, New York 1999

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ANOTHER PARADISE

Set in Paradise, Kentucky, ANOTHER PARADISE is a memory play narrated by two women, Birdie Mae Tyler and her daughter Neva, both on a journey of self-discovery. The play's action, called forth by these women's narratives, runs from Birdie Mae's marriage in 1903 to Hiram Tyler until Neva's marriage in 1924 to Aaron Greenberg.

Although the events which Birdie Mae and Neva describe are the same, their points-of-view throughout the play are conflicting. Birdie Mae tells a simple, honest story of her difficult marriage and family life in backwoods Kentucky. Neva, a would-be writer and early feminist who is ashamed of her background, embroiders her story, making it into "elegant literature."

3 f, 2 m, single set; Appalachian music composed by Carolyn Dutton

- Off Broadway production, Players Theatre, 1986
- Chinook Theatre production, Edmonton, Canada, 1985
- Equity Showcase, Open Space Theatre, TOMI, NYC, 1984
- Upstart Stage, Berkeley, CA, 1989

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STRIP TALK ON THE BOULEVARD

This jazzy comedy focuses on the developing relationship between MARTY, a high school English teacher, and SALLY, a high school dropout and crossword puzzle devotee who manages a drugstore on Hollywood Boulevard. MARTY's woeful story of her former marriage to a dentist is interrupted by the entrance of MORGAN, a.k.a. RAW SEX, a musician and SALLY's "word dealer." A battle of the sexes, embellished by wild word play and a reenactment of the "real version" of the Adam and Eve story, is finally diverted by the entrance of JEREMY, a Cal Tech math major and closet poet who is MARTY's former student. Both JEREMY and MORGAN help MARTY to realize that SALLY could be a true friend.

2 f, 2 m, single set

- Production: Cloverdale Playhouse, Montgomery, Alabama, 2016
- 2008 winner: Acrosstown Rep’s Sunwall Comedy Prize
- 2003 Semi-finalist, Bloomington Playwrights Project
- Staged reading: Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, Gainesville, FL, 2008
- Staged reading: Lark Theatre Company at the Chelsea Theatre, 1996
- Win Atkins Memorial Play Reading Series, Hoboken, NJ, 1994
- Waterfront Ensemble, 1993

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MANHATTAN TRANSITS (a.k.a. THE RUNAWAY)

Based on a true story and structured loosely on the Demeter-Persephone myth, this play is about JOSE CARTELLO, a 14-year-old runaway, who lives in Manhattan under Port Authority Bus Terminal, pictured here as various levels of the Underworld. JOSE is an angel of mercy to LOWANDA and DALLAS, two bag ladies, who are also her often humorous angels of death. SGT. FRANK BIAGGI, a detective and, like Hades, guardian of this nether world, tries to make LANI THOMPSON, JOSE's mother, take responsibility for her rebellious daughter. But JOSE falls in love with CARLOS FAVA, a crack dealer who leads JOSE into a dangerous and ultimately tragic life.

4 f, 2 m, single set

- NYC Fringe Festival, Xoregos Performing Company, 2016, retitled as The Runaway
- Semi-finalist in Beverly Hills/Julie Harris contest & Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project
- Short-listed in the BBC/British Council International Radio Playwriting Competition, 2001
- Staged readings: Urban Stages, NYC, November 2004; Medicine Show, NYC, 1999; Passage Theatre in Trenton, NJ, 1992; Contemporary Theatre of Syracuse, NY,1990; Players Theatre, NYC, 1989

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NOT FOR THE FERRYMAN

A love story that takes place in a nursing home in New York's Catskill Mountains, this play is about the meeting of two cultures, Crete and Appalachia. It is here that two older women, THEA and ORIAH, meet, and as their friendship develops, so does the unexpected love between THEA's son NIKOS and ORIAH's granddaughter, TROUT. Interwoven through the real time and place of this story are enacted folktales from these two cultures, folktales that tell of a journey to the Land of the Dead, where TROUT and NIKOS fall in love.

3 f, 2 m, single set with scrim or area for the folk tales

- Staged reading at Abingdon Theatre, NYC, 2007
- Spetses Theater at Anagyrios College, Greece, 1994
- Pickup Styx Production with a grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, 1993
- International Center for Women Playwrights & Buffalo Ensemble Theatre, 1993
- Staged readings at Princeton University theater, 1991
- Playwrights Theatre of NJ, 1992

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DEMENTIA

DEMENTIA is a comedy/drama about an improvisational theater troupe in Berkeley, 1969, era of the Vietnam War, a theater troupe that wanted to save the world but couldn't save itself. More specifically, the play is about MAYA, director, actor and manager, who tries to keep her unruly, idiosyncratic troupe focused on pacifist ideals both in the scenes they create and in their working together. When a musician who calls himself LEONARDO DA VINCI joins them and becomes MAYA's lover, he galvanizes their political and creative impulses. But the violence of the war and the local violence that erupts over People's Park is gradually reflected in their lives and their work. Ultimately, MAYA too must recognize her own potential for violence.

3 f, 3 m. All action takes place on a bare stage.

- Staged reading, Harbor Theatre, NYC, 1998
- Scenes performed at Producers' Club, 1999

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SEDUCTIONS

In this comedy based on the Persephone myth MORT kidnaps PIA and takes her to the Underworld. What MORT wants from his brother ZEKE in exchange for PIA are: a section of sky where he can put celebrities and an admission that MORT is more powerful. But when PIA discovers the adults are using her, she becomes a feminist who makes her father humble, her mother ecologically sensitive and MORT a New Age sensitive guy.

All scenes--the garden of DOLORES' and PIA's home in Vermont, a NYC subway station, the Underworld (a junk shop), ZEKE's Manhattan office and a bar in the sky may be suggested by a single piece of furniture or a few props

4 f, 2 m

- Staged readings, Lark Theatre, NYC, in Festival of New Plays, 1996
- William Mount-Burke Theatre, NJ, 1996
- Playwrights Theatre of NJ, 1996
- George Street Playhouse, NJ, 1995

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THESE ARE MY ADULTS

In this comedy/drama two teenage girls look in the Personals columns to research the question "What has happened to the American family" for their history class. Believing that adults are incapable of real love, the girls find four intriguing ads for people who seem to come alive. As they become involved with the adults, the teenagers discover that vulnerability and the longing for love know no age limits.

Four f, two m, single set

- Finalist in Beverly Hills/Julie Harris & Mill Mountain Theatre contests
- Staged reading, Playwrights Theatre of NJ, 1996

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DANCING WITH STRANGERS

In this full-length comedy/drama five women in their 60's and 70's try a communal living experiment-before they are too old to make such decisions-as an alternative to ending their lives in nursing homes or burdening their families. Disparate types, they experience the difficulties of adjusting their daily living patterns and their views of life and death in order to be compatible with each other. Some of these "adjustments" naturally generate humor, while others take a more serious turn.

5 f, single set
Semi-finalist in the Chesterfield Writer's Film Project

- Staged readings, Wings Theatre, NYC, 2001
- Playwrights Theatre of NJ, 1999

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HANGING WOMEN

How long will three women wait for one man? What will finally push them over the edge?
HANGING WOMEN, a comedy/drama is about three women--ALICIA and her daughters CELANDINE and PEONY--who have put their lives on hold until the man they loved returns to them. When they finally realize this man, like their lives, was a fantasy, they exorcise the forces that limited their potential as women and free themselves.

3 f, single set

- Production at Where Eagles Dare, NYC, 2007
- Production at California State University, Hayward, 1998
- Staged readings: International Women Playwrights Conference, Galway, Ireland, 1997
- Playwrights Theatre of NJ, 1996
Summit Theatre, NJ, 1995
- Playwrights Harbor, NYC, 1995


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MISSING FAMILIES

ARIEL MILLER, guest of honor at a Malibu dinner party because of the play she wrote about the homeless, has high expectations of her liberal hosts. But they are all elegant name-droppers who eat sumptuous food and drink expensive wine. ARIEL finally explodes. Suddenly they all want to produce her play because she insulted them. When Ariel's son and mother enter, a comic brouhaha ensues.

4 f, 3 m, single set

- Semi-finalist: Mill Mountain Theatre Contest; Bloomfield College Theatre, 1993
- Staged reading: Playwrights Theatre of N.J., 2000
- Staged Reading, Arthur Seelen Theatre, NYC, 2008

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CAUGHT IN THE ACT

In this 90-minute comedy-drama ANNE and MARIE, two New York City actresses, rehearse a folk play about two older women from the Caucasian Mountains. As they become enmeshed with their characters, they are literally "caught in the act," as they turn into older women who have the same concerns and fears as their younger selves.

2 f, single set

- Showcase, Players Theatre, NYC, 1988
- Warwick Lake Playhouse production, 1987

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ONE-ACT PLAYS:

FIRE

 Sita, a 19-year-old member of the Hare Krishna sect, has been given a mission by her guru: She must save the soul of one homeless person.Sita goes to Gladys Park, where homeless people live in downtown Los Angeles. She chooses Dolores, a disturbed older woman whose photo she has seen in the Los Angeles Times after the park was raided by the Salvation Army to clean up the city for the 1984 summer Olympics.  At first Dolores rejects Sita’s efforts to save her, but Sita, who identifies Dolores with the mother she lost, is persistent. “Tell me one thing I can do for you,” she pleads. Finally, Dolores convincesSita to walk with her into a fire to burn her troubles away.

2 f, single set

- Equity Production at the Open Hydrant Theater, Hunts Point, Bronx, June, 2014

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ENGLISH MAJORS
Paul and Lisa meet through eHarmony.com in an Upper West Side café. Former English majors and devout iconoclasts, they have an astonishing amount in common until they land on the subject of baseball.

1 m, 1 f

- Staged reading at Mile Square Theatre, Hoboken, NJ

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HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF MISERABLE BY TRAVELING TO FRANCE WITH A FRENCHMAN WHO HAPPENS TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND
In this short comedy Diane and her arrogant boyfriend Jules, a French painter, tell the story of their wild trip to France that led to their break-up.

1 m, 1 f

- Staged reading at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, 2004

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THE HOLLYWOOD RAPTURE CLINIC
At the Hollywood Rapture Clinic Phil talks Donna and her daughter Kelly into buying expensive diets and other bodily improvements so they will look their best when they are raptured naked into Heaven.

1 m, 2 f

- Staged reading at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, 2005

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A SENSE OF MOVEMENT
This trilogy of one-act comedy-dramas (WAITING, RUNNING and FALLING) focuses on the vicissitudes of relationships in contemporary New York City.

- WAITING
ARLENE, a sensuous woman in her 40's, meets CLAUDE, a 50-year-old Frenchman, in an Upper West Side market in August. Unhappily married to STEFAN, who has affairs with other women, ARLENE is drawn to CLAUDE's loneliness.

1 f, 1 m, single set

- RUNNING
When CARA meets STEFAN as they are jogging in Central Park in October, they spin webs of semi-believable lies to lure each other. CARA is married to JOHN, an angry Vietnam veteran, and STEFAN is married to ARLENE, but both pretend to be single. CARA is a secretary but says she is an astrologer and dog-walker who delivers singing telegrams. STEFAN is a short-order cook who says he's a lawyer. By the end of the play they reveal their truths and their loneliness.

1 f, 1 m, single set

- FALLING
From his wheelchair in Midtown Manhattan on Christmas Eve JOHN tells indifferent shoppers the way war caused the disintegration of his marriage and of all love as lonely people fall endlessly through the smoking city.

1 m, single set

- Miranda Theatre Company (NYC), 1996
- Creative Theatre Group production, with a grant from the New York Council for the Arts, 1987

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THE GRAY BOMBERS
In this one-act play MAMA, LOUELLA and MYRTLE, former political activists now in their 80's, decide to become terrorists. They pick as their targets New Jersey shopping malls, symbols of the sterility and indifference of our culture. MAMA's daughter LOTTA is outraged, as are her son-in-law BILL, a female T.V. REPORTER and a local CHEERLEADER. A bumbling mayor comes to the Big Home Town Mall to reason with MAMA, who is sitting on the roof with her terrorist gear. MAMA, LOUELLA and MYRTLE tell MR. MAYOR to turn the malls into parks with artistic and intellectual centers for the elderly. When he refuses, the older women clear three malls and blow them up. Then, in "heaven," when they meet artists and political activists they admire, they decide they made a wise choice.

Six f, two m, single set

- Staged reading, Playwrights Theatre of NJ, 1997

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DINNER WITH MARVIN

In this half-hour comedy, MARVIN takes LUCY to a French bistro, intending to break up with her on their last night in San Francisco. LUCY is stunned, but when MARVIN, an architect, tells her they have "structural differences," sparks fly, especially when JACQUES, a French waiter, takes LUCY's side and MARVIN's estranged wife MARILYN unexpectedly joins them.

2 m, 2 f, single set

- Winner, production: Old Opera House Theatre’s 11th Annual New Voice Festival
- Staged reading, Playwrights Theatre of N.J., 2004

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10-15 MINUTE PLAYS

BLIND DATE
A pair of likeable but opinionated 30-somethings find themselves hookwinked into a blind date by the married couple who are their well-meaning but interfering hosts.

2 m, 2 f

- Productions: Harbor Currents, Center Stage, NYC;
Playwrights Theatre of N.J, Samuel French One-Act Play Festival, 2003

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THE CHURCH OF EMPIRICAL HUMAN CARTOLOGY
A thinly disguised satire of Scientology, this short-short play focuses on CLAIRE WELLS, 50, who comes for an introductory session with JOHN THOMPSON, late 30's, who promises she will ultimately become a "translucent."

1 f, 1 m, single set

- Legacy Playwrights Festival, Producers Club, NY, 2006
- Harbor Theatre at Grove St. Playhouse, NYC, 2000
- Drama West, L.A., 2000

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SHORT-TERM AFFAIRS
In this satirical exploration of contemporary relationships MARK FANBERG, 34, comes to the Bureau of Short Term Affairs in Midtown Manhattan, where he meets DENISE DELANEY, 32, who interviews him as a prospect for a short-term affair. During the course of the interview they discover a mutual aversion so strong they decide to begin a limited affair of their own.

1 f, 1 m, single set

(35 in 10: Thirty-Five Ten-Minute Plays, Dramatic Publishing)

- A film based on this play, called The Bureau of Short-Term Affairs, won the Van Gogh Award for Best Short Comedy in the Amsterdam Film Festival, 2014
- Asphalt Jungle Shorts, Toronto, 2006
- Winner in Palm Springs National Short Play Fest, finalist in ATL National Ten-Minute Play Contest
- Productions at Playwrights Circle in Palm Springs, 2003; Drama West, L.A., 2001; Gallery Players, Brooklyn, 2001; Actors on the Verge, NYC, 2001

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PASSING FANCIES
In this short-short comedy GEORGE, early 30's, meets LIANA, late 20's, in a gloomy Greek restaurant in Pasadena, California. Although they have been corresponding by email, GEORGE has no idea how bizarre LIANA is, but he soon finds out.

1 f, 1 m, single set

- Production: Xoregos Performing Company, Artslope, Brooklyn, 2016
- SASi Productions' One Act Festival, NYC, 2000

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THE CRYSTAL BALL
A psychic/fortune-teller in the West Village of Manhattan learns to deal with her domineering ghost mother.

3 f, 1 m, single set

- Productions: Brewster Theater Company, 2006; Las Vegas Little Theatre, 2005; Women Seeking at Center Stage, NY, 2004; Harbor Currents Production, NYC, October, 2001
- Published in Soujourn (Univ.Texas, Dallas), 2008

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THE KITCHEN-SINK PLAY
In this satire of terms used in playwriting and theater classes to define the nature of a play, the Director and his two actors, Fred and Alice, play verbal badminton over whose play it is, who has the best arc, who is the real hero and why.

2 m, 1 f, single set

- Productions: Playwrights’ Theatre of N.J.; Gallery Players, Brooklyn, NY, 2003

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STAN BOLOVAN AND THE DRAGON
This children's play based on a folktale is about a clever hero who discovers, under the mighty dragon's bravado, a nebbishy nature and a wimpy devotion to his mother.

3 f, 4 m, single set

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THE WISE PEASANT GIRL
In this children's play, also adapted for radio, King Alexander lives a charmed life, indifferent to the problems in his kingdom until he meets Sophia, a beautiful and wise peasant girl.

Bare stage, and, except for King Alexander, Sophia and the old gardener, the other 5 roles may be played by men or women. Music composed by Carolyn Margrete.

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