Wanted: New Takes on Old Tales


Call for short plays from Bay Area writers. Deadline: March 8, 2015

Those Women Productions seeks one-act plays from local San Francisco Bay Area writers for “In Plain Sight: Stories you never knew you never knew,” a collection of original short plays to be given a full professional production at the Metal Shop, an 80-seat theater in the Elmwood neighborhood in Berkeley. The show will open Labor Day weekend 2015 and will run for 7-9 performances. We are looking for scripts that fit our mission to bring hidden truths of gender and power to the stage. Plays should offer new takes on old tales, reimagining a story from world mythology and/or classic literature. We are particularly interested in scripts that bring marginalized characters and storylines to the center of the action. All plays must stand on their own and have the potential to appeal to a broad audience, including those not familiar with your source material.

• Length: 10 – 30 minutes
• Cast: no more than 5.
• Deadline for submissions: March 8, 2015
• Scripts may be produced or unproduced. If previously produced, include production history in the body of your email.
• Send us no more than two scripts.

To submit:
~ Email <ThoseWomenProductions@gmail.com> with a blind copy of your script(s) attached as Word or PDF documents. Author’s name should not appear anywhere on the script but each page of the script should include the title of your play. Number your pages please!
~Include the title(s) of your play(s), the author’s name and your full contact information in the body of your email, and please affirm that you are a San Francisco Bay Area resident and would be available to attend some rehearsals and one or more performances of your play if it is selected. Rehearsals will be scheduled evenings and weekends during August and early September in Berkeley and/or Oakland.
~Questions? Email: ThoseWomenProductions@gmail.com

Performance dates (tentative): September 4-20.
Selected scripts announced in mid-April. Stipend.

Directors for In Plain Sight will include Norman P. Johnson, Christine Keating, and TWP cofounder Elizabeth Vega. In addition to 2-4 scripts selected through this open call, the production will include two short plays by TWP cofounder Carol Lashof.

Visit our website for more information about Those Women Productions: http://www.thosewomenproductions.com/

Thank you for sharing your work with us!


Old Stories, New News

December 9, 2014

On ancient stories and current events:

This Friday, students at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas www.obu.edu will be performing my one-act play Medusa’s Tale. I’m thrilled of course. I’m thrilled anytime anybody anywhere performs any of my plays. And naturally I take it as a compliment to my skills as a playwright that since its 1991 publication in Plays in One Act, Medusa’s Tale has been performed all over the world. In 2014 it’s been produced at high schools in Oskaloosa, Indiana and Fountain, Colorado as well as at the San Diego Fringe Festival and the University of Tulsa. Previously, it has served as the subject for a senior thesis written by a Classics student at Monash University in Australia and has been performed by students in the English Drama Society at Peking University in Beijing (in English with Mandarin side titles). It has also been performed in London, Manhattan, San Francisco, Tokyo, Brussels, Guam, Fairbanks, Barstow, Kalamazoo … and so on. Mostly by high school and college students. It’s my most-produced play by far, and I doubt that its appeal comes entirely from the quality of my writing.

Medusa’s Tale is about rape. It’s about “justice” serving the needs of those in power. It’s about turning the victim into a scary thing so that instead of eliciting empathy, the monster can become fair game for the hero. In other words, it’s relevant to current events. But the story is a very old one. The plot comes straight from Ovid’s Metamorphosis: the god Poseidon rapes the girl Medusa in the goddess Athena’s temple. Athena gets angry. So she punishes Medusa by turning her into a monster with snakes for hair and the power to turn men to stone by looking at them. Later, with the help of Athena, a young man shows up to slay the monster, become a hero, and marry the princess. In my rendition of these events, Medusa tells her story to the hero Perseus. He is moved but kills her anyway, because he is as much doomed by circumstances to be a hero as she is to be a monster.

Evidently, young men and women from very many different cultures connect to the themes of this story. But suppose I had given the play a contemporary setting – let’s say a frat house at a large public university or the streets of a racially-segregated American city. Suppose I had written directly about date rape and slut-shaming. Or about police brutality and a racist legal system. Would that play be staged at a university whose most famous graduate is Mike Huckabee? Maybe. Probably not.

I’ve drawn on Greek mythology for the plots of several of my plays. My aim in donning classical clothing is not to sneak wolfish ideas past conservative sheep herders. Not exactly. It’s to avoid easy categorizations and judgments coming from any pre-established perspective. If you come to the theatre to see a play about a subject in the headlines, you will most likely arrive already knowing what you think. But if you come to see a play about Medusa, or the Furies, or Persephone, you may not anticipate your own reactions. You may unexpectedly find yourself in sympathy with the monster. Or maybe, to your even greater surprise, with the hero.


ACTORS & TEACHERS: are you looking for original, unpublished monologues, something the casting director hasn’t heard a dozen, or a thousand, times before? Over the past couple of weeks, I have been posting a variety of monologues on this site. I began with three monologues for women (see post of May 27, 2012) from the play Gap, set in the present at a large urban public high school. I continued with two monologues for men from the same play (see post of June 1, 2012). Today, I post two monologues, both for women. The first is from Disclosure, the second from The Bay at Aulis.

You are free to use any of these monologues in the classroom or for auditions.
Public performances require my express authorization and may be subject to royalties. Contact me for rights or other information: clashof@gmail.com


from Disclosure
a full-length stage play (3w, 1m)

After keeping a secret for thirty-five years, Maya is determined to disclose the truth, confront the past, and move on. But it proves to be harder than she imagines to talk to the people she loves the most about events that no one else seems to remember. Set in the present in a college town, Disclosure probes the fault lines between memory and narrative; pleasure and transgression; love and the abuse of power.

The following monologue ends act one.

(To the audience.)

How many times have I imagined the scene? The confrontation scene. The scene where I gathered all my courage and did the one thing I have most wanted to do, and most feared to do. Dreaded. Longed for. The thing that would change my life forever.

I have imagined the time. The place. Imagined what I would say. Imagined his face when I said it. But then what? Did I think he would grovel, beg for forgiveness?

I don’t know. My imagination leapt ahead to some later time, after the great moment—the great traumatic—and possibly triumphant—at the very least, the climactic or … maybe the catastrophic or the cataclysmic or the apocalyptic … most certainly, the cathartic moment. I imagined how I would feel later, when I had become a different person, a person who was done with the past.

Over it. Done with it. Ready to let the healing begin.

But here is what I did not imagine: what he would say after I said, “This is what you did to me.” What he did say.

Which was: I did? When?

I said: When I was nine, ten, eleven.

He said: Are you sure?

I said, yes, I’m sure. How can you not be sure about something like that? And then, for a moment, I wasn’t.

He said, memory plays tricks. But I am. I am sure.

And he said: It was a long time ago. He said: You were young. He said that he was drunk, that he was drunk a lot in those years. He said he was sorry, sorry for being drunk.

And I said again: Here is what you did to me.

And he said: If I did that, then I’m sorry. But I don’t remember. And then he … shrugged his shoulders. And he said again, sadly, “I’m sorry.” Not meaning, I believe, to be cruel. And I just stood there staring at him, speechless. And after awhile, I turned around and left. Because there was nothing else to say.


Opening monologue from The Bay at Aulis
a ten-minute stage play (2w, 1m)

At rise, CLYTEMNESTRA is standing center stage, sharpening a knife. She speaks to the audience.


You think I should welcome him home with open arms? Roll out the red carpet? Ten years away fighting for his country, the victorious war hero deserves a royal welcome—
that’s what you believe. Isn’t it?

(CLYTEMNESTRA has finished sharpening the knife. She examines it, is satisfied, and hides it in the folds of her robe.)

Well, think what you like. But let me tell you—about her. Who she was. Ten years ago.

Each day, before dawn, she fled
the leaden dullness of sleep.
Why sleep?
Sleep is for the old and the drunk
and the dead.
But if age has not yet
dragged you into lethargy,
if time has not transformed
the joy of movement into torpor,
if you are young enough to know
how short
a day is,
then you run
through the dew
or the fog
or the rain.
You run so you will not miss it,
the first light of dawn
breaching the horizon.

So it was with Iphigenia.
So it was that she ran to her father.
To Agamemnon.

And his heart was full of war.