School Play
Five actors playing over thirty characters bring to life the true stories of people like your neighbors and family in an hour-long show that makes the dire budget crisis in Pennsylvania’s public education system relatable to more citizens — and inspires voters to demand a viable, sustainable method of funding our schools.  A live, documentary theatre collaboration conceived by Arden and co-created with theatre artists Seth Bauer and Edward Sobel, School Play harnesses the emotional power of theatre to dramatize the long-term societal cost of deconstructing a system that both embodies and empowers American democracy.  Read more >

Appetite
A full length drama that follows three generations of women who reconnect across time, via the mystical powers of family, memory, culture and cake. It’s 1973. Hana Becker, a brilliant, driven professor of architecture, is shocked when — with no explanation — a cookbook scrawled by her mother while she was starving to death in Terezin Concentration Camp during World War II, arrives at her Manhattan apartment. Unleashing buried questions, wartime memories and fantasies Hana has struggled for decades to repress, the book, which Hana cannot open, ultimately opens up Hana. 
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Knowing Bliss
Just before her 30th birthday, African American anthropologist Bliss, finds herself at a paralyzing personal crossroads. Her adoptive Caucasian mother Laura, a second tier musical theatre actress, continues to insist that she knows nothing about Bliss’s birth or background, leaving Bliss ironically ignorant of any anthropological data about her own history. Having learned that she has some Native American DNA, Bliss summons Laura to join her on a vision quest to a sacred ceremonial site high atop a cliff, to bond with her ancestors. But when Bliss’s DNA results turn out to be wrong, the belief systems by which we define race, culture and identity suddenly seem less reliable.

Monsters I Have Eaten & Other Tales

A newly updated suite of monologues about disparate women’s lives threaded together by a blistering — and ultimately cataclysmic — plea from a desperate female revolutionary. These 15-20 minute diatribes, some funny, some physical, all memorably disturbing, have been performed singly and in cabaret-length groupings of three; but have now evolved into an evening-length work for 3-4 actors. While the original work was created in the 1990s, sadly, the portraits and the conflicts they address are still all too relevant.

Dreamland

Bunny, a white, mid-30s home health care aide and aspiring singer, falls in love with the blues, thanks to an Alberta Hunter record that one of her clients, a retired African American prison guard, plays for her. This one album represents everything the widowed, bedridden Samuel has left, except a touchy, opinionated, musician sister who bears an uncanny resemblance to Miss Hunter. Or is that just how Bunny sees her? As Bunny ventures outside of her limited life, she comprehends the harsh inspiration for the blues and the musicians whose lives it embodies. Now, she might be ready to chirp the blues.

Mektoub

An operatic drama set in the desert of North Africa, in the early 1900s, as Swiss journalist/novelist/explorer Isabelle Eberhardt pursues her unlikely quest to become a female Sufi mystic. Dressing, riding and living as a man as her anarchist priest father had taught her to do, Isabelle battles substance abuse, sexual addiction, malaria, dysfunctional relationships, misogyny, religious taboos and political conflicts — not to mention an assassination attempt, imprisonment and artistic despair — in a brief, epic life that ends, appropriately, with a flurry of unfinished manuscript pages filling the theatre (and a male editor adding his name to them). Also in development as a film script.

Musicals

Daddy's Girl

Full-length, original musical. “A woman’s self esteem starts with the right foundation.” So says America’s first and best-known sexy lingerie tycoon, Louis of Beverly Hills, typically at the most inappropriate moment possible. When his daughter, a middle-aged Women’s Studies professor, finally returns home after two decades for his funeral, she finds herself struggling to sum up Lou’s high-profile life and body of work for the on-call Rabbi who will officiate. Was Papa a charming liberator of women and sexuality, or the ultimate male chauvinist? With her university now questioning her own validity as a feminist because of her family ties to Lou, Tracey re-assesses Lou’s impact on feminism and on herself, and reveals an intimate connection between new school political correctness and old-fashioned judgment. Cast size; 10 plus 8 chorus.

Jason The Bunyip Slayer
Family musical for school or professional performance. A lonely, muddy, much-feared critter from the Australian Dreamtime struggles with his awkward looks and widespread unpopularity. At the same time, Jason, a mouthy, chubby 11-year old transplant from Philadelphia to an Australian town, suffers his own failure to blend into his new habitat. When the two outcasts’ paths collide, Jason seems to have a unique ability to see and/or communicate with the mythical misfit — which only evokes more scorn from his schoolmates… except for one self-possessed girl, Miranda, who champions Jason and his high-concept friend. Seeking a composer/lyricist.

Snatch
New copy to come..... or professional performance. A lonely, muddy, much-feared critter from the Australian Dreamtime struggles with his awkward looks and widespread unpopularity. At the same time, Jason, a mouthy, chubby 11-year old transplant from Philadelphia to an Australian town, suffers his own failure to blend into his new habitat. When the two outcasts’ paths collide, Jason seems to have a unique ability to see and/or communicate with the mythical misfit — which only evokes more scorn from his schoolmates… except for one self-possessed girl, Miranda, who champions Jason and his high-concept friend.

Short Works

Because

A modern riff on the myth of Penelope, in which a despairing woman, awaiting her husband’s return from the Gulf War, considers a proposal from his best friend. 1 M, 1 W. Finalist in Red Bull Theatre Festival of Short Plays, 2016.

Beauford Delaney Paints Marian Anderson

The haunting contralto voice of African American singer and civil rights icon Marian Anderson eclipses all others in the mind of schizophrenic, gay, black, ex-patriot artist Beauford Delaney, whose celebrated portrait of his muse inspired this play.  4 W (3 AA), 3 M (2AA)

Sole Searching

Three bittersweet short plays about love, dysfunction and that most erotically metaphorical of all garments, the shoe. Unmarried female partners in a design firm compete for an inexplicably alien love interest who’s also their biggest client. A passenger assails her modest Muslim taxi-driver with details about her lover’s taste in footwear and their steamy make-up sex. And, a transgender union carpenter bribes his grown son into asking him for a first dance in his first pair of Manolo Blahnik sandals. 2 w, 2 m.

Vapors
An evening of irreproducible chemistry; ironically ideal for Valentines Day. Four vaguely-related plays explore the unpredictable reactions that can occur between human beings in a state of need, when sufficient societal pressure is applied at a precise moment in time. The lonely victim of a Tinder no-show goes home with a probably psychotic grammar freak. A lonely, elderly woman with a small kleptomania problem takes temporary shelter with a philosophical street vendor. Lesbian lovers face surreal sabotage by a previous love interest. And a pair (or several) of misfit, schizophrenic barflies meet their ideal mate(s).

Wingspan
Trio of interdisciplinary dance theatre pieces based on works of art with flight imagery, each featuring a long poem/monologue. Approximately one hour of performance time. A fourth piece is envisioned.


PICTURES OF THE GODDESS: WingSpan, Part I; after losing her arm to a hay-baling accident, a farm woman is comforted by a visit from the Victory of Samothrace.  Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Wrote, directed, produced. Recorded score by Rob Redei is available; Sept. 2000; re-staged Philadelphia Women’s Theatre Festival, July 2015

 

wednesday: WingSpan, Part II; an office drone is saved from drowning in boredom and booze when a homely sparrow alights on his front porch. Presented by New Dance Alliance Performance Mix Series at Dixon Place Theater, NYC.  Wrote, directed, produced. Nov. 2001

 

FLOWN:  WingSpan, Part III; A 19th c. sculptress is astonished when a beloved work of art she is forbidden to sell for profit takes flight overnight, from its pedestal; site-specific outdoor performance with live original music and dance,  Sept. 2003. Wrote and produced, Philadelphia, July 2002

10 plus 8 chorus.