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 >
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.
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.
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.
In the early 1900s, Liza McCool, a feisty, multi-talented Quaker Feminist in her twenties, has just become aware of the writings of political theorist Henry George. His radical plan for reforming America’s economy in order to share wealth throughout our society so inspire her, that she devotes her life to promoting his ideas. When the board game she invents to demonstrate George’s system falls into the wrong hands, namely those of an unemployed vacuum cleaner salesman, Liza’s game becomes the basis for the best known, highest-grossing game of competitive capitalism ever marketed by a heartless, male-dominated corporation. Liza’s nightmare becomes our wildly imaginative, visual and metaphorical musical theatre piece for all ages, with a scrappy/punky original score and cast of six.
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)
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.
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).
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.