Plays, Screenplays & Teleplays
About the "Sleeping Psychic" Edgar Cayce
The time is 1911. Edgar Cayce is a young man with incredible psychic powers. He can "see" into other people's bodies and tell them, in trance or "reading," exactly what is wrong with them and how to cure it. Unfortunately for Edgar, these are powers he does not want. He wants is to be "normal"- not "the freak" his neighbors call him. And, as a Christian, he definitely does not want to "play God" the way these powers seem to suggest.
Edgar shows Gertrude how to "bring the positive out of the negative - by shinin' a light through it."
His wife, Gertrude, wants him to do something with this gift from God, as do his father, and Charlie Dietrich, a schoolteacher whose daughter Edgar had saved with a reading. They persuade Edgar to give a demonstration of his powers for the local medical establishment: if he gets their backing, Edgar will agree to perform his "cures."
At the demonstration reading, the doctors treat Edgar as some sort of human guinea pig, sticking him with needles and carving under his fingernail. Edgar, railing at having been treated as some sideshow freak, vows never to use his powers again.
This vow is immediately put to the test when Edgar's son, Milton, develops a mysterious and life-threatening illness. Edgar won't go so far as to do a reading on Milton; in fact, he seems to be avoiding contact with his new son. Under pressure from his wife and father, however, he agrees to set up a business with Dr. Ketchum, a local homeopath who has witnessed the failed demonstration, to explore ways to help people with their medical problems. Without Edgar's permission, however, Dr. Ketchum gives a talk to a medical group in Boston. Reporters flock to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to see the "freak." They arrive just as Gertrude has finally persuaded Edgar to at least take a look at Milton. When Milton dies without Edgar's doing a reading, Edgar is forced to reveal that he saw a "death aura" around Milton when carrying him home from the hospital: he thought doing a reading would be useless or, worse, would make him the instrument of his son's death.
Gertrude has given up on life and is dying of tuberculosis. Only Edgar can save her. But the reading for Gertrude recommends heroin, an extreme remedy that might, in fact, kill her. Worse, no doctor in town will write out the prescription. Edgar is forced to plead with Dr. Ketchum, whom he swore never to see again, to help him save his wife's life. Ketchum writes the prescription. Now Edgar must convince Gertrude to take it. His acknowledgment of his fears and acceptance of his powers finally win Gertrude back to life. She takes the medicine… and "The Freak" goes on to become the father of the holistic medicine so widely practiced today.
Cast: 7 male, 1 female
Place/Time: Hopkinsville, Kentucky, 1910-11.
- The office of Dr. Ketchum
- The Cayce Home
- A Sunday School classroom (limbo)
- A racetrack (limbo).
Published by Samuel French, Inc., New York City.
Edgar shows Gertrude how to "bring the positive out of the negative - by shinin' a light through it."
Gertrude needlepoints her "Carpe Diem"
THE FREAK directed by Granville Burgess at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC - the playwright's home town. The man on the right is the writer/director's father.
Play It As It Lies
Productions: Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, PA. Warehouse Theatre, Greenville, SC. Awards: Winner, Center for Southern Studies Playwriting Competition
When GRADY WATERS, a black man in his 30’s, sneaks onto the local country club golf course to play an early-morning round, he discovers CECIL BURTON, 33, hitting away every ball in his bag. Wanting companionship, Grady gradually overcomes Cecil’s reticence and convinces him to let him play the round of golf with him. As they play, Cecil tells Grady the story of his relationship with his father, who taught Cecil the “ancient and honorable” game of golf. The scenes switch back and forth between the two times, past and present, as Grady slowly learns why Cecil is out this morning to play his final round of golf.
We meet YOUNG CECIL on the day in 1963 when his DADDY (FRANKLIN BURTON) is scheduled to teach him golf after years of promising. To Franklin, golf is a metaphor for living a good and moral life. When someone chides him with the remark “Golf isn’t religion,” Daddy replies: “It is, the way I play it.” DALE MORGAN, a real-estate friend of Franklin’s, storms on complaining how the Kennedy’s have let a black man into Old Miss. Daddy, determined not to let integration destroy his community, cancels his round with Young Cecil to soothe Dale’s ruffled feathers. It is not the first time, nor the last, that his father discounts Young Cecil at a time when he needs him.
Young Cecil’s mother, CARRIE BURTON, tries to support his dream of becoming a professional golfer, while still accommodating herself to the demands of her authoritarian spouse. She is helpless, however, when Franklin, sensing that integration will make getting a decent education impossible in South Carolina, decides to send Young Cecil north to prep school.
Young Cecil dreads going north-for one thing, it will be too cold to play much golf– but his adventures at Phelps Academy begin to build his confidence. He meets a freethinking Italian named MARIA and falls in love. He rooms with JULIUS JEFFERSON, an African American, but his attempt to emulate his father by bringing Julius home for the holidays only angers his father at Cecil’s “foolishness.” When Cecil and Julius are caught drinking, Cecil refuses to “rat” on Julius and both are expelled. Cecil uses this as an excuse to pursue a career as a professional golfer. His disgusted father can only exclaim: “What a waste!”
Grady and Cecil continue the play the last nine holes, as the action switches between past and present. Young Cecil becomes more and more obsessed with proving himself to his father, but a victory on the golf tour eludes him. His neglect of Maria causes his marriage to fail. His bold attempt to duplicate his father’s favorite golf shot at the Masters in Augusta ends in disaster. Finally, desperate to win, he breaks one of golf’s cardinal rules: play it as it lies. He surreptitiously moves his ball from behind a rock. Ashamed, he gets drunk at the Awards Banquet and stumbles out to the putting green, where he confronts his younger self. With the two actors, representing the two sides of Cecil, challenging each other in a putting contest, Cecil realizes who he wants to be and why.
He joyfully schedules a round of golf with his father to tell him that he has finally learned the lessons of this honorable game. But his father has a heart attack and dies before Cecil can say the words that would honor him.
Back in the present, on the eighteenth hole, Grady learns that Cecil has just buried his father, and he has come to the golf course that day to bury his golf game as well. But Grady’s wise and unassuming counsel throughout the round of golf has had an effect. Cecil realizes he doesn’t have to abandon the game he loves, because his father has truly passed on to him the courage we all need to face life’s ups and downs: deal with life honestly as it is. Play it as it lies.
The Death of Dracula - A Love Story
Erotic love-story of the myth from woman’s point-of-view. Commissioned by the Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, PA.
Mina Murray has just arrived in Sangrov Abbey in Wallachia (near Transylvania) in the summer of 1895, where she has been summoned by Sister Agatha because her fiancé, Jonathan Harker, has been found half-naked and raving in the nearby woods. Sister Agatha tells Mina he has been talking about a vampire, Count Dracula, whom the sister dismisses as a superstition of the Romanian people. She does not tell Mina that Jonathan also has been having clearly erotic dreams involving women, but Mina learns this soon enough when she visits Jonathan and overhears his dream. Surreptitiously reading his journal, we flashback to Jonathan’s first encounter with Count Dracula in his castle.
The count, 70-ish, has summoned Jonathan to help him legally secure a residence in England. The old man recounts the glorious day when his ancestor (really himself), Vlad Dracul, was anointed by the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope to defend Christianity from the infidel Turks. At a knights’ tournament, Vlad was saved by a golden buckle tossed to him by a princess. Later that night, Princess Wilhelmina visits his bedchamber and seduces Vlad Dracul – he who prides himself on his independence.
As Mina awakens with the journal in her lap, we see that it is she who has dreamed this sexual encounter. We sense how she chafes under the restraints of Victorian society in London. When Jonathan asks her to marry him there and not to wait until they return to England, she hesitates, afraid the union will not be one of complete sharing of all intimacies.
Jonathan at first refuses to tell Mina what happened to him, but he does allow her to continue to read his journal, if she promises never to speak of what happened.
In a sexually-charged scene, Jonathan indulges himself with two female vampires. Suddenly Count Dracula bursts in and throws the vampires out.
Mina, aroused by this journal entry, now senses that Jonathan will perhaps not be as repressed sexually as she had feared and consents to marry him. As the wedding ceremony takes place, Dracula simultaneously embarks for London.
London, some three months later. Mina, her best friend Lucy Westerna, Jonathan, the rich American Quincey Morris, and the scientist Dr. Jack Seward are attending a performance of “Hedda Gabler” at the Lyceum Theatre. Mina seems as restless as Hedda and testily argues with Jonathan about the play. Lucy makes peace as Count Dracula, now a handsome 35, shows up at their box. Mina threatens to reveal who he is, but Dracula quotes her own arguments about Hedda’s deserved freedom back to her, and she decides to lie to Jonathan about whom she has been talking with.
That night, in her room in Dr. Seward’s asylum, Mina tells Lucy how unhappy she is in her marriage, how her passion goes unrequited. Lucy counters that men don’t want women passionate, and it is best just to “go along.” Mina cries out that she needs someone to touch her. Lucy does so, then leaves. Dracula enters through a window and bites Mina.
Soon after, Dr. Seward, using the studies of his mentor, Van Helsing, explains to Jonathan what has happened to Mina. Jonathan is unpersuaded, until he witnesses the erotic dream Mina is now having. Then he swears revenge, but Lucy, now complicit with the Count, throws out the protective garlic and Dracula once again enters Mina’s bedroom.
They talk, and Mina learns that Dracula cannot see himself in a mirror because he has no soul. He longs to die, but is trapped in his mortality. Mina comes to believe that if she learns why Vlad Dracul was cursed, she might be able to help free him, but Dracula refuses to speak of what happened with him and Wilhelmina. Mina, however, remembering her dream in Transylvania, moves to Dracula and undoes the golden buckle he always wears. This time, she offers herself to him.
Two days later, alone with Jonathan, Mina is terrified of her attraction to Dracula and begs for his help. Jonathan responds passionately, but when Mina becomes too aroused, retreats in fear. Dracula appears, and the men attempt to capture him. Mina tries to defend him, and finally Dracula changes into a bat and flies away while Mina begs him not to leave her.
Back in Wallachia, the men have pursued Dracula by hypnotizing Mina and monitoring her contacts with him. Mina, however, pretends to be asleep and sends the men the longer road to Dracula’s castle. Dracula has told her a shortcut and she takes it. After she leaves, Sister Agatha discovers her plan and goes to tell the men.
Alone with Dracula at his castle, Mina declares that she does not want to be damned forever. She forces Dracula to confess that he murdered Princess Wilhelmina not because she betrayed him, but because he loved her so much he could forgive even her betrayal. Vlad Dracula could not live with another having such control over him. Mina tells him he must ask God for forgiveness-and he must let Mina control him by biting him! Dracula refuses, but Mina persists. They struggle, and Dracula finally surrenders control to her.
Just then, the pursuers burst in. Mina tries to stop them, but they shoot Dracula. No bullet has ever been able to harm him before, but this time, miraculously, he bleeds. Can it be that he is saved by finally being able to die? Dracula breaks a wine bottle and looks into the jagged piece of glass. Jonathan shoots him, but it does not matter. Dracula has seen his reflection in the glass. He dies in Mina’s arms, knowing her love has saved him at last.
Cast: 3 females, 4 males.
Place/Time: Transylvania and England 1895, and Transylvania, 1431.
Settings: Dracula’s Castle, Rooms in Sangrov Abbey, Theatre Box in London.
Commissioned by The Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia. Unproduced.
Notes: This is a dramatic rendering of the Dracula story, not a spoof, told from the woman’s point of view. It treats Dracula as a real person, the historical Vlad the Impaler.
Two “standard” Dracula stage characters, Van Helsing and Renfield, do not appear in this version. This is a love story.
“Bull Durham” meets “Field of Dreams”
In his declining years, the “greatest natural baseball player of all time” desperately escapes his past. A rising baseball star desperately escapes his destiny. A misplaced northern mill owner is desperate to escape the South. When these three desperadoes clash in South Carolina’s 1951 cauldron of textile mill life, it’s not only baseballs that are battered at the final at-bat of immortal “Shoeless” Joe Jackson on his field of Reckoning.
A bitter liquor-store owner, maybe old Shoe knows he’s dying, back home in milltown.
Jimmy Roberts, a young baseball player, asks Shoe to coach him into “the show,” to escape the soul-sucking mill life. Maybe Jimmy can marry his mountain girl princess, just like Shoeless did in 1906. But maybe Shoe will mentor no one. Baseball lost faith in Shoeless; deceived, Shoeless lost faith in baseball. His wife, Katie, prods Shoe to coach Jimmy and confront his own past. Relenting, Shoeless slides back into lint-league baseball, full of the heartache, disappointment, and the ignominy he spent half of his life trying to forget.
Baseball becomes the “game of life” where Shoe and Jimmy find redemption.
Jimmy lives with his mother, Thelma, who introduces him to Rhoda Dawkins, a pretty mountain girl, who shows Jimmy how to look for beauty, everywhere: “Seein’ things true” becomes a major theme of the film, be it baseball or life. Katie and Rhoda play parallel roles in helping Shoe and Jimmy to “see things true.’ Thelma sacrifices her body to the mill owner, just to give her son a chance. Katie drives Shoe home to baseball, his last chance to be true to himself.
Stuck in the Old South, Conestee Mill owner Abe Roth parlays his third consecutive Textile Baseball League Championship and slugger Crusher Goodlett’s contract into a piece of the New York Yankees and an exit from his southern hell. When Senator Yancey Gilchrist authors a resolution to re-instate Shoeless into baseball, suddenly a lot more than a lint-league championship is at stake.
Abe offers Jimmy a minor-league contract to play for the Yanks if he throws the final game. Disillusioned by Shoe’s participation in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, Jimmy agrees. In their final confrontation on the “Field of Reckoning,” shoeless convinces Jimmy to “see things true”: Baseball, like life, isn’t just a game; baseball’s the game of life. Shoe’s last at-bat is his last pitch for redemption. What will one of the greatest hitters of all time do in his last appearance at the plate?
Sepia flashbacks of Shoeless Joe’s ordeal in major league baseball punctuate the painful acceptance of his past. Hilarious idiosyncrasies of the Textile Baseball League, contrasted with life in a Southern mill town, become the dramatic setting for the story of a dying American icon’s race for redemption. Batter up!
Edgar Cayce struggles to accept the gift of his psychic powers, costing him the life of his son and nearly that of his wife. Based on the play THE FREAK, with an added climax dramatizing Cayce’s New York arrest and trial.
Edgar shows Gertrude how to “bring the positive out of the negative – by shinin’ a light through it.”
Gertrude needlepoints her “Carpe Diem”
THE FREAK directed by Granville Burgess at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC – the playwright’s home town. The man on the right is the writer/director’s father.
|About the “Sleeping Psychic” Edgar Cayce
An Anthology Series of Television Dramas Based on Contemporary Southern Fiction
SOUTHERN VOICES (working title) An Anthology Series of Sixty to Ninety Minute Television Dramas Based on Contemporary Southern Fiction.A Production of Jonathan Donald Productions, Inc. in association with South Carolina Educational Television and The ETV Endowment of South Carolina
We propose to produce an anthology series of 60 to 90 minute dramatic programs or movies for television based on contemporary Southern fiction in partnership with South Carolina Educational Television. The working title of the series is SOUTHERN VOICES.
Although the works of classic southern writers: Faulkner, Welty, Williams, O’Connor and certain others have occasionally been produced for television, the generation of Southern writers that began their work roughly thirty to forty years ago is scarcely known at all on television. Yet like its forebears its work has the unmistakable stamp of America’s best known regional literature, a literature built on language, custom, a penchant for eccentricity, good humor and the cruel dilemmas of race relations. However, this generation is distinctly more worldly. Its South has boundaries that go beyond geography. It is also a generation less absorbed in questions of class. It is more open, familiar in its language, and inclusive. It’s subjects include groups unknown in the older literature: Cajuns, Vietnamese, Native Americans. It also embodies a whole new phalanx of important African-American authors who have provided among other things their own experience of race relations.
If American literature had its beginnings in New England, it found its most distinctive voice in the South. Southern writers include the greatest number of important authors identified by region in America. Contemporary southern literature boasts such names as Pat Conroy, James Burke, Shirley Ann Grau, Clyde Edgerton, Ernest Gaines, Ellen Gilchrist, Lewis Nordan, Ellen Douglas, Tim Gautreaux, Lee Smith, Walker Percy, Reynolds Price, Dorothy Allison, Barbara Kingsolver… the list goes on. SOUTHERN VOICES will bring much of this new richness to a national television audience.
We want the series to be popular: one that will reach a general as well as a PBS audience including young people at the higher elementary school levels, high school, college and in the society at large – a broad range of viewers who might otherwise never turn to literature for entertainment. Contemporary southern literature is democratic; it was written for everyone but because too few Americans read it has never reached most people. It can reach them, however, through television and thereby instill an appetite not only for good television but, through our web site and teaching aids, also instill an interest in reading good books.
To heighten our appeal we will call our productions movies and give the series a new title and a title sequence that evokes a sense of going to the movies – an evening out – entertainment.
The Relevance of the Series:
Behind the window dressing, we have a more important task – to help fill the alarming void in popular culture, the absence of humanity, the emphasis on material belongings and fascination with gratuitous violence that have become the preoccupations of too many Americans, especially young people. There is a great civilizing effect to good literature that can help fill that void, especially if it is of the tempting southern variety which is almost always funny, timely and reinforces many of society’s traditional themes. These include…
- Family: The family is a primary setting for much southern writing: families as clans, as communities, as the symbol and core of society, families coming apart and coming together. Even when they are coming apart, they are never lost to us. Southern writers are seldom so misanthropic. Their irony is more humorous than cynical.
- Hope: Even in the darkest stories, there is an element of hope. Our storytellers find it in the individual, in music, in the land and in their faith. Perhaps because the South was first a rural landscape, this yearning toward hope comes naturally to a people tuned to what Providence and the Earth will provide
- Home, A Sense of Place: There is always a home in Southern writing, always a place to return to. No other part of the country has quite the sense of place as the South. Again as first a rural people, the hearth has always been a magnet in the life of Southerners.
- Race: Many would say Race is what the South is all about. With the advent of a whole generation of new African-American writers, race is being re-examined with blinders off. The black-white dichotomy of the South is either central or never far away in the stories of this new Southern literature.
However important these ideas may be, this is not a literature based on themes or social issues. Our stories are first and foremost works of literary merit, rooted in the history and traditions of the South but also highly original, very contemporary and exciting in their different ways. Like all true art they spring from the depths of the creative human psyche.
SOUTHERN VOICES will paint a picture of that world, a world not found in sitcoms, blockbuster movies, Tom Clancy novels, or video games. But it is here that all of humanity’s ennobling greatness takes root and grows. It is here that Southern writers have put down their own roots to create a literature that anyone can enjoy for it speaks so clearly to universal human needs
The Relevance of SOUTHERN VOICES to America Under Attack:
In these difficult times we need something to ground us, to bind us together and provide a sense of our own worth. It is not enough to rally to the flag. People need to be connected in other ways. Human experience sharply etched through literature and in turn through television can provide that connection fully and deeply. Our series is a looking glass in which the audience can witness triumph over loss, self discovery, the pleasure of ordinary things, love, courage, escape from fear, and the fears we must face: madness and evil. This is surely the purpose of Art, to provide a mirror which reflects the depths of life’s experiences, a mirror that will give us vision.
Follow this link for our choices for the first seven programs.
They are representative of the significant range of this literature. In tone, some are light, some dark but most are a mix of both. Some are designed to be 90 minutes, others 60 minutes. They are so marked.
Education, Promotion, Outreach and On-Line Components:
SCETV is one of the nation’s more community focused public television services. It is highly experienced in the use of promotional tools including email, conferencing, mailings, press kits and media platform applications. The station also has a long track record of good teacher relations and of providing exemplary educational materials. The producers will work with SCETV’s nationally recognized educational web-site staff to create the series site. We will also create educational supplements to the series such as teacher’s guides, videos and written materials. These are part of a traditional focus at SCETV and one of its great strengths. Our entire effort from the movies themselves to the web-site and the ancillary materials will be designed to meet the new national standards for education now being set among the states.
Follow this link to explore our ideas for the Southern Voices Interactive Website:
Our website will expand upon our programming to stimulate further reading by our audience; provide exciting follow-up materials for classroom use; entertain and educate users through games and puzzles; and lay the groundwork for further exploration of the literature and themes of southern writing.
The Reach of the Series:
Altogether we estimate that our initial broadcasts, web site activities and school materials will bring the subject matter to between one and two million people. Once the series is established, its reach can be expanded to reach wider audiences.
Series Producer: JONATHAN DONALD PRODUCTIONS, INC.
Jonathan Donald or his company has produced over 200 documentary and dramatic programs for network, cable and Public Television including major series like the dramatized documentaries of REDISCOVERING AMERICA (Discovery), FACES OF JAPAN (PBS), THE AFRICANS ( Time-Life Television and PBS), CONSERVING AMERICA ( PBS) , WILD, WILD WORLD OF ANIMALS (Time-Life Television/ ABC), WILDERNESS ALIVE ( Time-Life Television ). Single programs include ALVIN TOFFLER’S THIRD WAVE ( PBS ) THE INTER-RACIAL MARRIAGE ( CBS), LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN. ( CBS ), MAYDAY! AIR RESCUE IN VIETNAM (ABC) THE CROCODILE’S REVENGE ( ABC), BRAZIL, THE GATHERING MILLIONS ( PBS), CAPE YORK PENINSULA ( NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ). He has written and directed most of these programs, has won an EMMY for CONSERVING AMERICA, a GOLDEN EAGLE for THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS in the REDISCOVERING AMERICA series, another GOLDEN EAGLE for INDIANS AMONG US in the same series and two prizes at the New York Festivals: a Gold and a Finalist. He began his career in television at an ABC documentary unit. His first job in broadcasting was as Public Affairs Director at WBAI, the radical/avant-garde New York city radio station.
Jonathan Donald holds a Bachelor’s degree from Yale in history and a certificate in art history from the Sorbonne at the University of Paris. He was born of southern parents and his early childhood years were spent in Louisiana and Mississippi.
He co-produced and directed TRIFLES, a dramatic hour which is offered here as a work sample for SOUTHERN VOICES. He will executive produce and direct the pilot program of SOUTHERN VOICES.
Bodil Bergmann will be the Research Associate for SOUTHERN VOICES. She is the veteran of many productions in which she served variously as Researcher or Production Manager
Craig Nelson will be the Director of Photography for the pilot of SOUTHERN VOICES. A commercial cinematographer he has been the lighting director/ gaffer on many features. He has worked on several major television films for Jonathan Donald Productions including the Cine Eagle Award winning SALEM WITCH TRIALS. He also was the DP for TRIFLES.
Kathy Sweeney will serve as Production Manager / Art Director for the pilot of SOUTHERN VOICES. A motion picture and still photography art director she is a veteran of several productions with Jonathan Donald where she has served as either Art Director or Production Manager.
An early twentieth century psychological thriller.
TRIFLES is the story of a grotesque murder set in rural America in the years after World War I, a mystery not of “Who?,” but “How?” and “Why?” Its tale of a strapping farmer apparently killed for no reason by his slight and mysteriously silent, church-going wife, is a story of sexism as relevant today as the time in which it was written.
The mystery turns on the investigation by the local County Attorney, the sheriff, and the two women accompanying them, one of whom is the Sheriff’s wife. The men dismiss the women’s interest in “trifles” found in the accused woman’s kitchen, but it is actually these trifles that provide the clues which will ultimately explain how and why the murder took place. These clues also move the sheriff’s wife to unearth memories of her early life with her husband, a struggle that echoes the accused woman’s life. These recollections give her the courage to finally…leave the sheriff? …or kill him ??? We’re not sure, but the story ends on an electrifying note as the sheriff’s wife seems to take on the persona of the accused woman.
Shot in a foreboding style of light and shadow, “TRIFLES” is a suspenseful, highly-paced drama moving between the dark moments of two women’s parallel lives and the desire for freedom and revenge that ultimately links them — a story that holds the audience on the edge of their seats.
CAST (In Order of Appearance)
- Mia Dillon (Minnie Wright), a Tony Award, Barrymore Award and Drama Desk Award nominee, winner of the L.A. Dramalogue and Clarence Derwent Awards, who has appeared on Broadway in Crimes of the Heart, The Corn is Green, The Miser, Da, Hay Fever…..in television and films: Law and Order, The Money Pit, The Cosby Show, Mary and Rhoda.
- Wil Love (Frank Hale), who has appeared in many regional theatres, including Baltimore?s Center Stage, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Buffalo Studio Arena and Philadelphia?s Walnut Street Theatre. Two national tours with Jean Stapleton. Associate Artistic Director of Totem Pole Playhouse.
- David Lansbury (County Attorney George Henderson ), who has appeared on network television: Law and Order, Murder She Wrote….in films: Gorillas in the Mist,…..widely in regional and U.K theatre and on Broadway in The Heidi Chronicles.
- George DiCenzo (Sheriff Pete Peters), who has appeared often in episodic television series: NYPD, Murder She Wrote, Law and Order, Jake and the Fatman, Dynasty, Spencer for Hire, Matlock….in films: Exorcist III, Back to the Future, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, …in regional theatre, and on Broadway in On Borrowed Time and other works… and a noted teacher of acting and directing in New York City.
- Marian Seldes (Mary Hale), a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame, winner of Tony, Obie and Drama Desk awards, who has appeared on Broadway in Medea, Crime and Punishment, Ondine, The Chalk Garden, Equus, Deathtrap, among other plays…..in films: Digging to China, Tom and Huck, Home Alone III….in television series: Murphy Brown, Murder She Wrote, Kate and Allie, among many others.
- Maryann Plunkett (Alma Peters), Tony Award-winning actor who has appeared on Broadway in the title roles of St. Joan, Agnes of God, and in The Crucible…..in television series as the guest lead in Star Trek, Matlock, Miami Vice, and Murder She Wrote.
- Brian Delate (John Wright), who has appeared in films: co-star of The Truman Show, the lead in Home Before Dark, The Shawshank Redemption….in television: The Prosecutors, Law and Order, NY Undercover…..and in regional and off-Broadway theatre.
The Turtle Stone
A one-hour video co-produced by NJN-TV and the New Jersey Highway Department.
THE TURTLE STONE is the story of Abbott Farm, near Trenton, New Jersey, which emphasizes the archeological research that occurred there to discover why the Lenape Indians had left so many artifacts at the site. Accompanied by a study guide, THE TURTLE STONE was distributed to all fourth-grade classrooms in New Jersey.
Our story begins thousands of years ago when a stone with a turtle carved on it-a manito or spirit stone to the Lenape Indians-is struck by lightning, breaks in half, and is covered by the sands of time.
In present-day New Jersey, George Muncy sits fuming, impatiently stuck in traffic on I-295 near Trenton. George is impatient because he is a committed disciple of the “go get ’em!” world of the 21st century, and he has all the necessary technological gadgets to prove it. Unfortunately, he has abandoned many aspects of his “true self” along the way, including his Oklahoma heritage and the easy-going fishing trips he used to take with his son, Alex.
Alex and five schoolmates are stuck in the car with George, 40 and divorced, on their way to a class expedition to Abbott Farm to learn about archeology. George thinks the expedition is a stupid idea, thought up by their teacher, Mrs. Baker, whom he envisions as an old hag. Increasingly frustrated, George begins rubbing an old stone he has kept since childhood, a stone that has some strange markings on it. As he rubs it, he is suddenly and mysteriously transported by in time to the study of George Abbott, America’s first archeologist.
Abbott begins to teach George about archeology and his theories about what happened at his farm centuries before. George, of course, believes he must be in some sort of dream, and there is humorous by-play between the two men from two different centuries. George learns about the controversy that caused the eventual discrediting of Abbott’s theories. Later “transported” to the 1930’s, George learns about the work of Dorothy Croft and her WPA project. And he begins to surprise himself-and Dorothy-with his seemingly innate knowledge about animal bones, spearpoints, and other archeological artifacts. He seems to have a personal connection with these objects.
Back in the present, the group arrives at the archeological dig, where several archeologists take them through the process of discovering just why Abbott Farm was such a gathering place for the early Indian tribes. They discover clay pots and charred stones, Clovis points and atlatls-and George instinctively uses an atlatl to hit a bullseye. The children slowly learn that “Artifacts are the pictures; surrounding them is the text.” They learn how to learn from the past.
Finally, the mystery is solved. So many Indians came here year-after-year because of the abundance of fish that came up the Delaware River to spawn near Abbott’s farm. It was a trading place. But what made it even more special is the discovery that the fish that came there were particularly oily, and the Indians used to heat the fish, let the oil rise, and gather it for their lamps and skins and other necessities of Native American life. There is 10,000 years of history, right there at Abbott’s Farm. In fact, New Jersey’s name really should be “Old Jersey.”
In this journey of discovery, George also is drawn back to his Native American roots in Oklahoma, where his ancestors had been forced to remove themselves at the U.S. government’s insistence. He and Mrs. Baker strike up a friendship. He and his son go fishing again. And, having discovered the other half of his turtle stone along the way, having been guided by his manito back to his true self, George can go confidently into the future having learned he benefits of studying the past.
THE TURTLE STONE is told with great humor, to engage the minds of its young audience. The kids are a diverse lot, full of the energies and idiosyncrasies of youth. George’s tendency to suddenly be yanked back into a connection with his Native American roots causes all sorts of embarrassment-as when he suddenly finds himself stabbing for fish in the middle of the river. A great deal of the fun and excitement of archeological research is communicated in this step-by-step solving of the mystery of Abbott Farm. THE TURTLE STONE is a wonderful way to introduce children to archeology and to the joys of learning from our past.
Paul Revere Rides Again
Angela hates history and doesn’t mind saying so. One day, after shouting how boring history is, the magical Mr. History suddenly appears. He, the world’s greatest ham, sings HISTORY IS HIP!, regaling Angela with a succession of exciting historical characters, including Columbus, Beethoven, and Johnny Appleseed. An avid collector of hats, Mr. History admires Angela’s, and bets her that she’ll be singing history’s praises before the day is through, if she’ll only come along with him on a trip back through time. He gives her a tri-corne and they do the Time-Warp Spin back through time to a town meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, where Sam and John Adams, John Hancock, and James Otis wonder how in the world they can pull off a revolt against the mighty British nation.
Sam Adams answers that question in RECIPE FOR REVOLUTION, a stirring song that ends with Angela whipping her hat in the air and congratulating the colonists with “Gimme five!” and “Right on, Brother!” The colonists wonder what alien has entered their midst, but Mr. History, frantically grabbing History Hats from his History Trunk, plunks them on her head, transforming her first into Mother Goose, then a baseball player, and finally into a messenger sent by the Massachusetts Governor, Thomas Hutchinson.. When the colonists rush out to dump the tea into the harbor, Angela wants to join them, but Mr. History restrains her.
She is definitely developing a case of “Historical Curiosity,” however, which only grows when Paul Revere’s horse, played by two actors in a costume, a la vaudeville, wanders on complaining that Revere gets all the credit while he does all the work. In a hilarious soft-shoe for four feet, called WHERE WOULD MANKIND BE WITHOUT THE HORSE(I’D LIKE TO KNOW), he makes his case for the horse as man’s best and most helpful friend.
He is interrupted by the appearance of Paul Revere, who tries to ride his horse. The horse will have none of it, however, and a chase ensues through the audience-including the horse’s front and rear ends running in different directions!–, but finally Revere catches his horse and off they go.
Angela is even more swept up in the excitement of history this time, but she still won’t sing “History Is Hip” to Mr. History and lose the bet-and her hat. So he spins them to another time way back when: a military drill of some would-be colonial recruits led by John Sullivan. Somewhat like the Mechanicals in “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream,” this group of misfits shows how ill-equipped America was with men who knew how to fight. They sing YOU GOTTA FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS RIGHT, and while they don’t lack for spirit, they do lack for direction-continually bumping into each other and tripping over their muskets. When Revere enters with word that the British are sending reinforcements to for William and Mary, the “militia” dash off to attack the fort.
Mr. History and Angela spin back to Boston for the beginning of the famous ride. Using Longfellow’s famous poem, Mr. History unfolds the tale of this momentous moment in American history, with Revere speaking the words Longfellow wrote for him. Chased by a British officer, Revere “rides” into the audience, where Angela and Mr. History help him escape. At house after house, he shouts “The Redcoats are coming!” until he finally reaches John Hancock and Sam Adams, who have been hiding in Lexington. When they praise Revere for saving the whole American cause, he modestly replies that all he did was “take a little ride.” Hancock and Adams show how much more it was than that in LITTLE RIDE, at the end of which Mr. History and Angela spin back to the present.
Angela, who has thoroughly enjoyed her trip back through time, is caught singing LITTLE RIDE by Mr. History, who thinks he has won the bet. But Angela stubbornly refuses to concede that history is hip, so Mr. History finally has to turn over his trunk full of hats to her. Alone onstage, Angela watches the Historical Characters she has just encountered slowly enter and lay their hats at her feet. Convinced at last, she sings HISTORY IS HIP with the entire company as the show ends.
- MR. HISTORY: a totally zany song-and-dance man who thinks he is the world’s greatest magician-though, of course, he is not. Male, 30’s or older.
- ANGELA: a tough 12-year-old girl, African American in the original, but of any ethnicity.
- CHORUS: four males of any age play all of the remaining characters: Christopher Columbus, Johnny Appleseed, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Sam Adams, John Adams, James Otis, John Hancock, Revere’s horse(two people), Thomas Hutchinson, John Sullivan, Peter Peabody, Edward Everett, a British officer, and an American sergeant.
NOTES ON PRODUCTION: This musical does not need much in the way of sets besides Mr. History’s History Trunk. The costume of the horse may have to be built. Mr. History and Angela need only hats to make their magical transformations to various characters. The show is designed to easily tour.
- HISTORY IS HIP!
- RECIPE FOR REVOLUTION
- WHERE WOULD MANKIND BE WITHOUT THE HORSE(I’D LIKE TO KNOW)
- YOU GOTTA FIGHT FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS RIGHT
- LITTLE RIDE